Limbo Christmas

Summary:
December 25 2014: Jericho and Illyana catch a bit of a breather on Christmas Day ((Backdated Scene))

Unit 24F/Illyana's Citadel

Jericho's safe house is a comfortable apartment on the twenty fourth floor of a Hell's Kitchen apartment building. Illyana's citadel in Limbo is the heart of her rule, fortress and palace all in one.


Characters

NPCs

  • K'nert
  • Limbo Demons

Mood Music:
[* None]


Christmas Day is generally a time of celebration with one's family and loved ones. Well, traditionally anyway. Jericho is anything but traditional. He doesn't go in for the lights (he likes them, but on a safe house, really?), nor the trappings of a tree or red and blue themed doodads about the house. Gifts are also not something he generally goes in for. He's not one to make sweeping, symbolic gesures. Much like Illyana actions mean a lot more to him. He has, however, this year, gotten a gift. Well a couple. Mailed one to Pepper. Left another in May's office (that was a trick and a half. K'nert had to deliver it). Got one for Partisan. Those were all easy. Practical people who like practical things.

The one he's just set down on the counter, wrapped, is for Illyana. She's a lot harder to shop for, as it were but he did finally settle on one. Now he's pondering settling in with a bit of light reading since he's not sure where the woman herself is. Only that she's 'elsewhere' and not in any distress which is honestly enough for him.

-

There's the sense of her location shifting, from distant to 'other' which he's come to recognize as Limbo and then she's *there*. He doesn't even need the flare of the stepping disk to know she's stepping through.

Illyana isn't dressed for the season. She's barely even dressed for the cold. Jeans, boots, a too-large T-shirt and a faded Xavier's hoodie. She heads over to him directly, arms curling around his waist and resting her chin on his shoulder. Her brows go up a little, light mocking there in her voice. "How pretty."

-

Jericho leans back just a little, still braced on the counter he was leaning over. "Mmmmmm. Well I did want to have some color to it." He murmurs. It's simply shiny green paper. No bow. No to or from stickers. As if it could be to anyone else. He knows Illyana well enough to know that she's comfortable simply taking things.

Jericho isn't dressed for the season either. In the comfort of their apartment (which he hadn't planned on leaving in the near future) he can relax. It's one of the few places he can just be himself. So it's a short sleeve tee for him, jeans and those tan boots he's worn ever since Afghanistan. "Everything well elsewhere?" He doesn't pry about what she was doing or whom with. That things are going okay is enough for him to know.

-

Illyana's arms move enough that her fingertips can stretch out to trace the lines on his forearms and then turning her hands to scratch her nails lightly along his skin. "Mmmhmmm. I did have to yell at my critters a bit. They keep trying to put up Christmas trees." Or their version thereof. Which involves twisted trees draped in skulls and viscera and other less-than-holiday-approved decor.

-

Jericho snorts in amusement. He can just imagine demon Christmas. It does occur to him to wonder if they've done that for a while and if their decisions this year were in any way influenced by the grove he, Nancy and Berto planted in the green. Demons tend to avoid the green but it would seem to be untrue to say that they're disconnected from it. Perhaps it's a question of the Green being connected to Illyana just as they are. He's not sure.

Those traces begin to fill with red light, much faster than they used to. They always seem much more responsive since the binding and Jericho looks over his shoulder with a a small smile, amber eyes simmering.

-

"They like Halloween much better, and honestly it's a bit less bizarre. But they can turn just about any holiday into a gorefest." Illyana remarks in that wry tone of hers. She eases a step back, her fingers hooking his beltloops to drag him after her. "You need to drop that off anywhere?" She says with a nod to the shiny green package. Her heavy boots make a quiet, solid sound as she treads against the floor.

-

It doesn't take much to get Jericho to move with Illyana though there's always a bit of a tug at the beginning before he starts. He turns slightly so he can get better view of the blond sorceress. "No, you're here now." He was just going to have K'nert take it over to her if she was away for a long time but generally he can count on Illyana coming around at some point. Fortunately for him, convincing K'nert to go to Illyana is the one thing that never takes any work. He seems endlessly willing to do that.

"Back for a while or just passing through?" He murmurs.

-

Illyana's blonde brows arch upwards, that light smirk playing about her lips. "You got me a present, hmm?" She doesn't mock the season, though y'know, demon. Of course, hers were decorating for it, which just seems bizarre but there you have it.

"Well, kind of passing through, but dragging you with me unless you've got an elsewhere to be." It's an out that not everyone gets. The opportunity to say 'not now' when Illyana wants to drag them somewhere.

-

"I did, and I don't particularly have elsewhere to be." Illyana has other friends. Good ones. Jericho has met them. They're people who'd have her back. Fight for her. Hang out with her. He's not sure, though, how many of them pretty much never have a problem being dragged off. Of course, none of them are her Familiar either.

The hacker doesn't nudge the present toward Illyana nor suggest that she open it. She knows it's hers now and he's confident she'll get to it when she's ready. What's inside will keep.

That smirk on Illyana's lips is mirrored on Jericho. "So, where to?"

-

Illyana slides around Jericho enough to pick up the shiny package, giving it a small shake while still giving him that slight smirk. She doesn't open it yet though, instead tucking her arm around his while opening a stepping disk at their feet.

They show up in one of Limbo's hallways outside Illyana's room. The citadel tends to shift and change, but this area is fairly stable. Or, well, is usually fairly stable. There's a new door that hasn't been here before and Illyana walks them over that way before giving him a slight push towards it.

-

The new door gets Jericho's attention. He spends, truth be told, a lot of time in Limbo. A lot more than he used to. Most of it is spent out on the Green though. S'ym is often found in the citidel and given how Illyana's demons have started to react to him he hasn't wanted to provoke the big demon. Of course, S'ym wanders so the two are in proximity sometimes anyway and Illyana's heavy does seem to have an interest in what he does with the Green so it can't be avoided entirely. Still he's here less than he is other parts. Often enough to know when something's different though.

His eyes flash curiously and he glances back as he moves toward the door. He doesn't bother asking what's behind it though the question can't be hard to read on his face, nor through the link that they have.

-

Illyana just gives him that enigmatic smirk, drifting behind him slowly as he approaches and pushes open the set of double doors. The room inside is fairly large, which isn't too surprising. Most rooms in the citadel seem to done on a larger scale, as though for larger beings. Or maybe because they really don't care about the laws of physics.

Large windows look out over the green and by-and-large there aren't any of the 'usual' ornamentation. No flickering torches casting ominous shadows, instead there are real lamps and lanterns to give warm, bright light. Carpets help soften the hard stone of the floor instead of the skins and furs often found other places and tapestries cover the walls with scenes one would expect in a castle. Those of knights and beasts of myths and not blood and flames. All in all, it looks… normal.

In the center of the room is a piano, black laqured finish gleaming in the light. Illyana drapes an arm around his waist again. "'Berto helped me pick it out." She admits.

-

Jericho's smile brightens. "A music room…" He says, his own arm finding it's way around Illyana's waist. "Wow." The tone of voice is that soft one that people use when everything is right with the world. You know. The one Jericho almost never uses. He looks about, taking in the ambiance and the decor. He knows better than most that she had to try to come up with this and more than the paino (which he'll play shortly and looks wonderful) that means the world to him.

"This is incredible Illyana." He turns and plants a kiss on the top of her head. "Thank you."

This? This is amazing. What with the trouble in Russia and the recent uptick in Hydra activity, much of it focused on him personally, he'd been spending a lot more time burnt up or fighting than he had in the last couple of months. But this is the kind of thing that makes it pushing through it all worth it to him.

-

"Well, I remembered when I first met you and you were playing bartender and whatnot. And I know you've got the keyboard in the apartment." Illyana says, taking a moment to look at the room through the glow of his approval. "But between your life and mine, we might have to burn the place one day." Not literally, but it's a safehouse for a reason. "But I'm not walking away from here. It's always been my home, and I want it to be yours too." She looks up at him with that soft smile that's so rare. "And it had a certain kind of poetry. You being the one to cultivate the Green and bringing music to Limbo."

-

Jericho's smile shifts to that small, real one that's as good as he can manage anymore. It's the one that most folks don't ever get to see. "I'd like this place to be my home also…" If he'd been told prior to now that he'd be the one bringing those things to a minor hell realm… well really who would believe that. Now though he can't imagine anything he'd rather do.

And she's right. One day they may have to leave behind the place that they call home. Both of them have enemies and his in particular have started acting up again. He can only hope hers will be quiet for a bit. Though he knows better than to count on that.

Home. Home is where you find it and Jericho is fairly sure he has an answer for where his is. Not that he's likely to out and out say it. Neither of them go in for that kind of thing.

-

Illyana turns her head in towards his shoulder, pressing a silent kiss there. She gives him a small push towards the piano so she can join him on the bench, and starts to pick at the wrapping paper to the green-wrapped gift. Jericho can spot a few demons lurking, poking heads around the windows or that have managed to find their way into the room itself and lurk beneath furniture. There's only so much 'normal' that can be applied to anywhere in Limbo and, given that demons tend to lurk around the apartment, it's really just the same.

-

As Illyana sits and starts to pick Jericho starts to play. For now it's the slow and not particularly directed music of a man in thought. Like many musicians he can make music without playing a particular song, knows the rules, knows how to bend and break them. Eventually the formless melody resolves into something with definite flow.

The box Illyana's holding isn't particularly large. It's about the size of her forearm actually. When she gets it open there's two items in there. One is a very neatly rolled up teeshirt. Metallica, from their last big tour, brand new and just her size. The other? The other is a knife. Well one of those things that straddles the line between very large knife and very small sword. It's been worked of both earthly and Limbo materials with iconography on the hilt and blade. One side with wolf motifs, the other side with ones relating to a certain amulet. He'd forged it in one of the hotter places in the blasted part of Limbo, but tempered it in water from the Green, worked with iron found in both New York and Limbo and heated with wood cut from near Salem Center."I know you already have a sword and I doubt this is in any way magical, but I thought you might appreciate something that's a bit utilitarian and still… representative."

-

Magic is more than words and gestures, and Power comes from many sources. While the blade in Illyana's hands isn't 'magic' in the usual sense, it's still layered in Purpose that those sensitive to magic can pick up on. There's a reason that items to be enchanted are made in painstaking ways. The effort put into even that mundane task is what gives something the potential for magic.

The blonde's fingertips trace the blade and its markings, her own inherit power whispering the blade's origins to her. She's very quiet for a long time, and then just leans over to rest her head on Jericho's shoulder as he plays, despite their lurking audience. "Sometimes, having a blade that will actually hurt nonmagical things is really useful." She agrees, though that's really not even on the radar as to why the gift means so much. She tilts her head to look up at him. "Thank you." She says, before grinning a bit. "Of course, now I'll have to drag you off to a Metallica concert…"

-

Jericho chuckles softly, also not minding the lurking audience. "That should be fun." The last concert he went to with Illyana certainly was. "And you're welcome. You always are."

The tune isn't dark and brooding, but neither is it light and airy, defying the nature of the place. It simply flows as Jericho enjoys playing and the most excellent company beside him. He glances over to watch, the light in his eyes dancing with contentment. Content in a hell realm.

-

The music and the company get a quiet sigh from Illyana that mirrors Jericho's own contentment. Her feet draw up under the bench a bit, arms curling around the gifts as her eyes close, head still resting on Jericho's shoulder as she listens to him play. While Illyana doesn't do that too terribly often, Jericho has seen her demons do much the same when they manage to be around while he plays in the apartment. Indeed, the sound seems to have attracted more demons to lurk at the windows and peer within.

-

The stories of music's power to calm and sooth are ancient. Jericho isn't sure if he believes them or not. He knows enough to be sure not to dismiss them out of hand, especially afer having seen K'nert and company breach Limbo just to hang out in his apartment and listen. The audience doesn't deter the hacker or change the music that he plays. Illyana's curling up as she does gets a flicker in of a smile that touches his eyes for just a brief moment. Soft moments like this are all too infrequent. Both Demon Queen and hacker live lives too busy and dangerous for them to be otherwise.

Glancing up, still playing, Jericho sweeps his eyes around the room, watching the reaction of the other demons. Curiosity he gets, but there seems to be something more.

-

A sort of stillness seems to fall over the room. The audience. Perhaps Limbo itself, the cries of wild things in the distance falling away until there's just Jericho's music to fill the eternal twilight of the realm.

-

Jericho hadn't understood until the binding just how much Limbo reacts to Illyana, perhaps even unconsciously. Now it just makes him chuckle as his hands work the keyboard in front of him. He much prefers this kind of working a keyboard to the kind more commonly associated with him, though the latter proves more useful more often than not. He's not sure how far this can be heard either. In the room, though the castle or beyond. For now it doesn't matter since the only people he's playing for are himself and the person on the bench next to him.

The lets his mind wander as his hands take over, playing whatever he feels like at the moment, following the melody where it seems to want to go. So many things on the horizon, and so many unanswered questions. Belasco, the X-Men, Hydra and stranger things. He wonders how many more are out there, waiting, that he doens't know of, and how many he does know of are just beneath the surface waiting to return.

-

The future is like that. Murky and unknown, with surprises often terrible and occasionally wonderful.

Jericho can feel Illyana's amusement and hear the smirk in her voice. "I can tell where your thoughts wander, from the way you play." And clearly she finds that amusing. Her eyes slit open and sweep the room, spotting the lurking demons, some of which try to duck out of sight. K'nert has shown up to take a spot right between Jericho's boots. The little demon is bold, that's for certain. He's also staking his own sort of claim on Jericho, even if the pecking order goes the other way. "I think you're going to have a pretty regular audience."

-

"Seems that way doesn't it." Which means that Jericho will probably be spending more time in Limbo. He's getting to be here almost as much as she is at this rate. Then again, somewhere along the way Limbo became a refuge from a world that is frequently more than he wants to deal with, and often seems to be trying to kill him. Illyana's seen him do this kind of thing before. But now she's given him a place for it. And he loves it.

K'nert gets a chuckle. He doesn't have to look down to know what the little imp feels like brushing up against him. Yes yes. There's something the others want and you have it. He gets it. It's not really a matter of affection for the hacker. He's fairly sure K'nert doesn't even feel affection for Illyana (though if he could, Jericho's money is that he would). But he doesn't object. Illyana gave K'nert to him. The imp can claim a prime spot for the concerts.

"Just thinking of all the things that have happened recently. Wondering how long we have before they get busy and dangerous again." They're already kind of starting to.

-

"Like you're not neck-deep already?" Illyana chides, already following his thoughts. But she knows what he means. How long until it's breathing fire down their necks? "I like listening to you 'think'." Just because she tends to listen to the various forms of metal doesn't mean she can't appreciate other forms of music.

"You'll have to help me with a sheath to carry this around." Illyana says of the knife/sword. At least if she needs to suddenly not be carrying it if say, the police want to talk to her she can always teleport it out right quick.

-

"I think that can be arranged." Jericho's eyes flash as he grins. He's got a couple ideas about how to do that, but hadn't been sure if Illyana would want to carry the blade with her or just keep it somewhere.

He is kind of perpetually neck deep in trouble. Well, maybe not neck deep but there's always some hanging about. The music shifts slightly, a bit more of a minor key as his thoughts turn this way and that. He'd been meaning to take a bit of a closer look around Limbo when he's less busy. He's been wanting to know how exactly Belasco got things out of Illyana's castle like that metal skeleton and in any case had wanted to make sure that the damn sorcerer hadn't started skulking around again.

-

"So aside from the usual trouble, how's the other things in your life? Like Partisan's little crusade?" Illyana's leaned forward so she can undo the buckles on those tall boots. One of the smaller demons crawls over to pull them off of her feet so she can tuck them up under her as she leans on Jericho.

It was admirable to her before, how Jericho managed not to react much to the demons after a while. Or her own demonic nature. But being able to take the temperature of his mood, to feel it hold steady even when the demons move around with little more than the cautiousness any predator would give another, is nothing shy of remarkable to her. It's not just a calm facade like she thought it was.

-

One of Illyana's first lessons to Jericho when she started letting him closer and letting him into Limbo was that demons are demons. No matter how cute they look or how deferential they act, demons are demons. It helps that mostly, they actually don't look that cute. Getting used to the idea that they weren't likely to hurt him took some getting used to and not falling into the trap of thinking they were never going to do so took more getting used to, but he'd become used to living with that kind of danger while deployed. Illyana's own demonic nature for a time scared him, but as he'd come to know her better and made the decision to trust her more that too faded.

He can sense the regard and attention Illyana's paying to his internal monologue, though his own sense of her isn't quite so keen. That his internal balance remains even with that is a testament both to his ability to command his mood and the effect that Limbo has had on him. "Still investigating that thing in Russia regarding your Brother but it's starting to look like the offical story has some holes." Surprise surprise. "Partisan's mostly wrapped up in that at the moment. Mmmm, a bit more worrying is Hydra starting to be proactive about coming after me again, and making a point of using magic to do it."

-

That bit of news has Illyana frowning. "And there's no scenario of magic being used by Hydra that sounds good. Either because of the people that know what they're doing but have Hydra's goals, or it's folks with Hydra's goals that don't know what they're doing and dabbling in Things That Man Was Not Meant To Know." She gives an exhale that holds some of her annoyance. "I shouldn't be surprised. There was the guy we ran into that used you like a magical Big Gulp." He was one of the former knew-what-he-was-doing sorts. "What kind of magic are they using? You should at least be hard to find, magically."

-

"I doubt they're scrying me. The attacks aren't taking place at very good ambush locations, so I'm fairly sure they're still looking for me the old fashioned way." Jericho murmurs, fingers tickling the black and whites. "However they used some kind of magic to attack a woman near me who happened to be a mage. I think they've gotten the fact that I run in unusual circles. And a bit back a… I assume they were witches of some kind, they ambushed me with binding spells and fireballs." Neither worked, fortunately. They didn't have the juice they needed, especually not after a few of them got sworded, but it had given Jericho a good sccare.

-

"Probably the usual methods weren't working so they're trying something new." That has Illyana nibbling on her lower lip thoughtfully. "I'm not too worried about magical attacks. They're a lot like normal attacks, just a different source. All of your defenses should work just fine. K'nert should be able to pick up on magical energies enough to give you a heads-up too." It's never 100, but the demon's magical sense is better than nothing.

Illyana does elbow him a bit, smirking. "Hanging out with other magical women, hmm?"

-

The hacker chuckles. "Well, only you and I guess Partisan is magical too. This other one I'd never met before. Calls herself Zatanna. Stage performer, the internet tells me. And sometimes member of the Titans." ANd yes, so far the ambushes haven't been anything he couldn't handle. That's not what concerns him. It's the mere fact that their patterns are changing. IF they have the resources to send gutter mages at him, they might eventually work up to something that's actually a problem.

-

"So you're like a magical magnet." Illyana says, her manner still teasing him. She turns her head in to nip at his shoulder, her hand slipping down to slide under his shirt to tease his back with her touch.

-

"Something like that." Jericho's been a weird magnet for a while. Odd things just sort of happen around him and it's only intensified as he's become more aligned wit Illyana and Limbo.

His traces flare red under her touch and he leans back into the nip and hand with a smile, still playing for the moment. "Not that it's all bad, being a Magik magnet…" Yes a tease, but also a truth.

-

That gets a short bark of a laugh and she nips him harder. "That. Was soooooo bad." Illyana chides him, her nails scraping down along his spine. "Soooo bad." She repeats. She lifts her head, moving her attention from his shoulder to his jaw and he can feel the curve of her lips from her smile.

-

Jericho grins and arches his back just a little. He likes knowing that she smiles, even if her smile is a lot like his - small, infrequent and tinged with the knowledge that some hurts just don't go away. And yes, that was awful. But it's also true and that was rather the point. "I'd apologize but…" He glances over his shoulder and winks.

-

"But there's no excuse for us." Illyana says, chuckling. She closes her eyes again, wrapping her arms around him loosely enough to still allow him to play. By her manner she's entirely content to just be there while he plays.

-

"There never is, is there?" Jericho murmurs as the song shifts to something a bit lighter, but still contempletive. "Shall we stay here for a while?" He clearly has no problems remaining just as they are and his contentment seems to mirror hers.


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