The Demon and the Assassin

December 19, 2016:

Laura runs into Illyana and the two get to know each other. Really!

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Midday afternoon.

The hallways to the School for Higher Learning are pretty empty, one part due to the time of day, but also thanks to how close the holidays are. Those mutants that have families outside of the school are off and visiting them, for those that don't have families -

- Well. They're still here, aren't they?

One of those students who doesn't necessarily have family outside of these hallowed halls is one X-23, or Laura Kinney. She's currently ghosting across the first floor, towards the main entrance that leads inward to the school or (in X's case) outward to the grounds and by there, the wooded areas beyond. She's dressed as she typically is, black shirt, black pants, black boots and only her battered red leather jacket allowing any relief to the darkness of her outfit.


…and just inside those doors that lead invitingly (or perhaps not, given the time of year) to the School's grounds, something a little out of the ordinary takes shape. A point of light appears, growing swiftly to a glowing vertical disc around six feet in diameter. A booted foot steps through, attached to a leg clad in artfully shredded denim, and then the rest of the demon sorceress follows, all dressed in black.

The Stepping Disc winks out behind her, and Illyana Rasputina tilts back a very blonde head, raising a hand to stifle a lazy yawn, before blinking ice-blue eyes at the young woman who's path she's managed to block. The eyes are a little too bright and sharp for the artful display of tiredness she's putting on - although it's quite possible Illyana either hasn't gone to bed yet, or has only just got up.

The blonde head turns, the blue eyes finding a window, as if she's checking something, then she looks back toward Laura. "Afternoon." She says, with a slight question in the word, not having stepped aside from the door quite yet.


While others might not notice that singular mote of life sparkle to life, X-23 does.

In fact, as soon as that point of light appears, the slim assassin will pause in her steps. She had almost made it outside; an escape and now her escape is threatened.

Green eyes will watch that pinprick of light expand, into a portal, and while most are familiar with Illyana and her mode of travel, X-23 is not. It's enough to cause the young woman to raise her hands upward, those fingers of hers curling into fists. She's readying herself for a possible attack, but the attack never manifests - well, not in the way X was figuring it would.

When Illyana appears, so artfully dressed, X-23 will consider the blonde and blue-eyed woman before her. A slight cant of her head might be seen, as the dark-haired young woman continues to assess the woman before her. That assessment likewise includes a scenting of the air, to see what can be smelled of the other woman before her.

And while others might see that Illyana is purposefully blocking that doorway, X-23 doesn't. At least, not yet. It's only when the blonde demoness offers those greetings, that Laura will finally say, "Hello." Her voice is decidedly flat, monotone, and if she heard the blonde's unasked question beneath that greeting, she gives no awareness of it.


Illyana's eyes shift down to Laura's fists, then back up to meet Laura's gaze again. There's a slight tilt of the blonde head to one side, to match the angle of Laura's own head tilt just so, a smirk forming on her lips, as Illyana decides not to comment /quite/ yet.

For someone with X-23's nose, Illyana's arrival provides a variety of impressions. When she stepped through her portal, a breath of air followed her. It's dissipating quickly, but whatever was on the other side was substantially hotter, drier, and carried the scent of brimstone. In fact, a little of that scent still seems to be clinging to Illyana herself.

When Laura finally, finally replies, Illyana will smile and move to lean against the doorframe. Laura's got room to come past if she wants, but she'll still have to come within touching distance of the blonde. "You won't need those." Illyana says, with deceptive mildness, nodding at Laura's fists. "I've eaten already today." She grins a little at her own joke. "I'm Illyana. And you seem jumpy."


Brimstone. That particular oddity within Illyana's scent causes the slim assassin to scent the air again.

She's trying puzzle out just what that scent is - it's part burnt flesh, but also part alien scent - that alien part being the inherent scent of demons. Something she has yet to really encounter in her adventures.

Still, when Illyana speaks again, X-23 will bring her gaze back to those icy-blue eyes. The faintest of frowns will now begin to draw the edges of Laura's lips downward. When the demoness nods towards her fists, Laura will automatically look at her hands, before she drops them to her sides. While her pose is decidedly relaxed, in reality, she's not. She's still trying to assess what sort of threat this odd woman before her is.

Illyana's inside joke about already having eaten is lost on the dark-haired girl and a blank expression now asserts itself upon Laura's expression. Thankfully (for Laura), Illyana offers her name and that's something Laura knows how to respond to. "Laura." She returns, in that same monotone voice from before. "And I have not jumped." Comes her literal answer, to Illyana's last words - and while Laura could have easily left it at that, she doesn't, as she now ventures a question fo her own.

"You smell of something. I cannot identify what it is." And while Laura's words definitely sound like a statement, in reality, they are a question and there's the faintest uptick to her voice to possibly denote that question of hers.


Illyana's well aware that she's being studied, if not minutely inspected, and while she could be offended, she's finding the monotone, monsyballic young woman an interesting oddity. She's a definite contrast to most of the inhabitants of the school. The frown doesn't put Illyana off, apparently quite the reverse - the more Laura's mouth turns down, the wider Illyana's smile becomes.

There's almost a flicker of disappointment in her eyes when Laura stands down.

"Nice to meet you, Laura." Illyana says the words with the air that she's doing so just for form's sake. "…and you haven't jumped /yet/." Illyana adds, as if she's taking that as something of a challenge.

Laura's question draws an actual grin from Illyana. "I could tell you that it's rude to tell people they smell." Illyana says, not sounding offended in the slightest, straightening up from her easy slouch against the door frame and taking a couple of steps toward Laura. Considering her heavy boots, her steps are oddly light, as if she's moving with a sense of anticipation. "But instead… how would you like to find out what it is you can't identify?"

She says it so innocently too.


Illyana's light steps are heard and internally noted and while Laura doesn't say it out loud, the words 'predator' flit through her mind.

Not that this disturbs Laura much; as she too is a predator of another nature.

The mention of her question being rude is considered and while others might apologize, Laura doesn't. In her mind it was a legitimate question and one that should be asked.

Thankfully, for Laura that is, the conversion quickly moves onward. Others might easily hear that too innocent tone of Illyana's, but Laura, doesn't. She's just not quite there yet when it comes to decoding the dance of socialization. No, instead, the slim assassin simply hears Illyana offer to answer her question. It's only the other woman's scent that causes the dark-haired teenager to pause slightly. She's calculating the odds that this is a trick, but for now, the odds seem to weigh in Illyana's favor as Laura can't quite line up the demoness deceptively mild words with that faint scent of eagerness. "Okay." Laura will say now, that one word barely shifting in tone as she answers Illyana's question.


Illyana's grin becomes something truly -dreadful- when Laura says 'okay'. "Great." Illyana takes a step back and adds, in a tone that suggests she's having FAR too much fun, "Enter freely and of your own free will."

There's a flare of light as another of those portals manifests on the floor, surrounding the both of them, and it swiftly rises to swallow them up. An instant later, where they were just standing in the school is deserted, and as for Laura and Illyana…

…they're somewhere else.

Laura will find herself on a star-shaped balcony projecting out from the wall of an impressive castle, itself perched atop an equally impressive rocky outcropping. The sky is shades of orange and red not found in nature, and there's a hot, dry wind blowing across the wasteland outside, heavy with those scents Laura discerned before. There's an odd cry, bird-like but not, and the shadow of something impossible passes across the balcony, before it ponderously flaps away on leathery wings.

From a safe distance behind Laura, inside the castle proper, a familiar voice floats out to her. "Did you jump?" It asks, teasingly.


Enter freely …The inkling that perhaps this is a trap has started to filter into X-23's mind.

And while, again, she sees that portal manifest itself beneath the two woman, the slim assassin doesn't have enough time to elude its shining grasp.

As such, the dark-haired girl will find herself deposited upon that star-shaped balcony. The oddity of what's around her, not to mention being teleported, causes the young woman to drop into a feral-looking crouch. Immediately a familiar sound can be heard *SNIKT* as the dark-haired girl releases the claws housed within both forearms and hands. Her green eyed gaze will flicker left and right, as well as upward, towards the bloodied looking sky. The stench of Limbo, as well as the odd sounds are likewise heard by X-23. The vaguest curl to her upper lip begins to occur, as all her instincts at this point scream *FIGHT*.

That instinct only increases at the teasing voice behind her and with a pivot of that crouch, X turns towards the source of those words. Her claws are still out and held menacingly before her, as the green-eyed assassin searches for the owner of said voice.


A trap? Perish the thought! This is nothing more than a field trip for educational purposes!

…well OK maybe it's a little bit of a trap.

Illyana isn't hard to find, particularly for someone whose senses are as keen as Laura's. Although it's considerably dimmer within the throne room, what with the main source of light - beyond that filtering in from the balcony - being from sootily burning torches, Illyana's still clearly visible, standing in the centre of the chamber, hands linked primly behind her back and an innocent smile on her face. She is, of course, not only out of claw range, but also what she judges to be out of leap range, too. Poking a Wolverine isn't a safe activity, and Illyana isn't /completely/ stupid.

"I think that definitely counts as a jump."


That lip-curl is still there, still only a ghost of an expression, but for X-23 it's a huge expression.

And while her voice still holds a good portion of control to it, beneath those flat words of hers, is faintest gruffness to her voice. It's a precursor to anger; let's call it frustration.

"I did not jump." She states, quite firmly towards the blonde, smelling so smug even if Illy continues to only show that innocent smile of hers. For a few seconds longer, X-23 will stay crouched, allowing her ears to grow someone accustomed to the sounds she hears. As well as her nose and her eyes. The dim-lighting doesn't seem to hinder the young woman, as her enhanced senses easily magnifies the light around the two to allow her to see.

It's only as she gets a bit of a sense of the place, that Laura will finally ease up from her crouch. Her claws are still out, but for the moment, she's not looking ready to leap at Yana's throat. "Where are we." She asks, her voice rising slightly to denote that question of hers. "It smells of you, but not."


Illyana's smile broadens a fraction at Laura's denial. "It's OK. I won't tell anyone you got startled." The smile broadens - but that's all, Illyana doesn't move a muscle until Laura rises from her crouch. It seems she's not interested in testing just how jumpy her guest might or might not actually be feeling right now.

Once Laura has done what seems to pass for relaxing in her case, Illyana lets her hands drop to her sides and walks out onto the balcony, not giving the still unsheathed claws a second look as she passes. She boosts herself up to sit on the parapet, Limbo's impossible skyline behind her. "I thought you'd never ask." Illyana says in a droll tone, before tilting her head a little to one side. "Again with comments about how I smell. Next you'll be telling me you don't like the decor."

Taking a break from teasing Laura for the moment, Illyana stretches her arms out to either side of herself, as if to embrace their surroundings. "This is my home. Welcome to Limbo. Do you like it?"


Laura's green eyes narrow ever so slightly, as Illyana once more teases about being startled.

Thankfully, the teasing eases off, well, about being jumpy, that is.

When the blonde walks past her, the darker haired young woman can't help but automatically follow her movements, watching her as Illy moves onto the balcony and then up to that parapet. Her gaze is calculating, another predator sizing someone up and finding them of similar ilk. Not quite the same, but, definitely similar. It's the comment about the decor that finally has Laura's gaze cutting away from Illyana, to look elsewhere. Inward towards the inner rooms and then back outward, upon the balcony. If she has any thoughts upon the decor they aren't said, nor do they cause the young woman's expression to change. Instead, when the demoness boosts herself upward to sit, Laura will allow herself to pad closer to the ruler of this particular dimension.

And as she moves those dangerous claws of hers will finally be retracted. Listening to Illyana, Laura will cast her gaze downward towards the grounds, as she considers all of what the other woman just said. And while others might offer some sort of platitude, Laura doesn't. Platitudes are just beyond her currently and so, she says, "No. I do not like it.", and there's actually more to that statement, but those six words is all that makes it out. Her nostrils will once more flare as she scents the air, "We are no longer on Earth, correct." And once more, the faintest of upticks to her voice, to show she's questioning rather than stating.


Illyana keeps her arms spread wide for effect, waiting for Laura's reply… and when it comes, Illyana looks delighted by it. "I smell and you don't like my home." Illyana snickers. "You're the least polite guest I've ever met who wasn't a demon. I think I like you."

Dropping her hands to rest on the parapet either side of her, Illyana swings her legs, letting her boot heels bounce off the rock, and waits patiently. She knows a question will have to come eventually, no-one is /that/ stoic. She makes a bet with herself how long it'll take as she watches Laura sniff at the air, and tries to discern a hint of curiosity in Laura's voice when she finally speaks. "No, we're not on Earth. I told you. Limbo. A little dimension between here and there." Illyana shrugs. "Some people have called it Hell, but that's such an over used name these days."

Illyana's eyes, which had wandered to look out over the plains far below, dart back to Laura, seeking a reaction to her words. "Anything?" She asks hopefully.


Again, there's that listening cant to Laura's head, as she continues to cast her gaze all about herself. Likely she's memorizing everything that Illyana has to say and it's only when she asks that last question, that Laura turns her attention back to Illyana.

That 'anything' from the demoness allows Laura to realize she missed some type of socialization cue (even if she really didn't, per se) and so, the girl considers her next words. It's enough to cause her eyebrows to twitch ever so slightly towards each other and when something comes to mind, Laura will focus back upon Yana.

"I have read of Hell." States Laura, her voice completely serious, as her gaze stays focused on Illyana's carefree seeming form. "You are not Satan. He is male."


Nothing. Rats. Illyana looks briefly crestfallen when she detects not a hint of surprise, fear, panic… emotion of any kind, really… in Laura's eyes when she hints rather strongly that she's brought the diminutive assassin to the netherworld. She's about to make a complaint to that effect when Laura says… /that/.

And Illyana, taken by surprise, actually laughs.

"You're seriously telling me." Illyana says, a professionally flat look in her eyes, "That I bring you to a dimension that smells of fire and brimstone, let you see an /actual/ demonic Hell beast thing fly past, and the reason you don't believe we're /really/ in Hell is because you believe that evil isn't an equal-opportunities business?" The flat look in Illyana's eyes vanishes as she grins and slips off the parapet, turning around to lean out over her domain, hands braced against the rough stone.

She glances back at Laura over one shoulder, still smirking. "You're nothing like the others at the school. I definitely like you. So where were you sneaking off to when I got in your way?"


Illyana's laughter was good. In fact, it almost had Laura believing she said the right thing, but then, the Sorceress Supreme spoke.

And Laura does actually realize Illyana didn't quite like her answer, but for Laura, she isn't quite sure what to say now and so, she falls back on her usual standby. Her face goes blank and her voice falls mute.

That flat stare of Illyana's is met with an equally flat, or rather, blank look from Laura as the demoness unloads just how much she appreciated Laura's comparison.

Thankfully, for both most likely, Illyana isn't truly offended. Or at least, not terribly so, and when those last words of hers are offered, some of the stoic Laura begins to bleed through the blank, almost robotic expression of hers. "I am not like the others." She states, her voice sounding even more flat then before. "I was headed to the woods. There is a mission I must complete there." And while she could say more, she doesn't. She's still not quite sure about this Illyana; even after Illyana reveals that she likes Laura. Still, she will offer something more than just a blank stare now. "You are a student at the School." Again, a question, asked in Laura's own unique way.


Oh, Laura. You did say the right thing. People Illyana brings to Limbo are usually afraid, either openly, or behind a facade of unconcern. To find someone who's genuinely unmoved by Limbo is a rare treat, and far more interesting than making you jump… which was all Illyana had planned when she brought Laura here.

The demoness isn't sure whether the joke about Satan is funnier because Laura wasn't MAKING a joke, either. Illyana's rapidly coming to the conclusion that humour is a difficult concept for Laura, along with reading any form of subtext. Illyana, though, doesn't miss that change in Laura's tone, and her eyes narrow slightly.

"You have a mission in the woods? What sort of mission? Wait, if it involves bears, I don't want to know." By now Illyana's realised that Laura probably won't get the joke, but somehow she couldn't help herself.

"I was a student at the school." Illyana finds herself answering, deciding to keep things simple for now. "I'm not sure what I am, now. Trying to make myself useful, mostly." She shrugs, "I'm not like the others, either." She doesn't know why she said it, but somehow she doesn't regret it.


Subtext.

Yes, that's definitely difficult for Laura to figure out. Or even comprehend.

Thankfully, Illyana continues to talk and quite normally so. This allows the dark-haired young woman to relax a bit more; her hands slowly unclenching, which they had done moments earlier. The almost rhetorical questions of Illyana is nodded at, or offered a singular nod, from Laura even as her lips tug downward slightly, in a frown. "I am not searching for a bear." She states, though she again, doesn't really expand on just what her mission is.

And those last words of Illyana's, specifically about not being like others, causes Laura's attention to shift back to the blonde young woman. The slim assassin will consider the demoness for a silent moment, perhaps two minutes at the most, before she nods once more. "You are not." Comes her initial monotone words, "Your eyes. They are not like the others. They are like mine."

Laura's nostrils flare again and she continues with, "And your scent. It does not match all of the facial expressions you use."


Illyana wasn't expecting Laura to get her little joke, and true to form she doesn't. She nods an acknowledgement of Laura's reply, and files it away for later.

Much later, it would seem, as Laura goes silent and studies her for a long, drawn out moment. This time, Illyana doesn't feel obligated to keep still, hands vanishing into her pockets as she slouches against the wall of her castle, the picture of indolence. The eyes don't change, though. However lazy her stance becomes, they remain keen. Watching as she's watched in turn.

For the second time in one afternoon, an oddly delighted look touches Illyana's expression… which again doesn't match up with her words. "You're dangerous." Illyana says, conversationally. "Most people can't see me for what I am, but you can." She snickers when her scent is brought up again, but this time she doesn't make a joke. "I don't sniff myself much. It's part of the game. Sometimes what I choose to be isn't what I am. And sometimes it helps if other people don't know that." She seems quite unconcerned to be confessing this, but draws her lower lip between her teeth thoughtfully as she takes a moment of her own to regard Laura. "You need to learn how to do that."

Honesty, after all, goes both ways.


"It is because they are different. That is why they are blind." States the dark-haired young woman and here, is where the smallest fragment of envy enters her voice, "They did not have to learn. They did not have to do what we did. They do not see because of that." She finishes with, her gaze searching out Illyana's eyes again. And while the two had very dissimilar childhoods, in regards to how and who they were raised by, they were still taught some of the same harsh life lessons.

Survival, dealing death and taking all necessary actions, even if it involves killing, or being killed.

As for honesty, others might take Illyana's words harshly, but Laura doesn't. She understands part of her greatest failings is just what Illyana said she must learn. How to act normally. How to hide what you really are. For certain missions, yes, she could possibly do that for brief amounts of time, but for every day interactions - not so much, and that's why people pick up quickly to the fact that Laura isn't quite normal. "Yes." She admits, her words monotone. "I am trying. I find it difficult … It is easier to fight than talk."


"Gold star for you." Illyana tells Laura, for her succinct summary of why she's still seen as Piotr's innocent blonde-haired little sister, rather than the three-fifths demon that she actually is. The words are spoken in a teasing tone, but the tone doesn't quite match the look in her eyes. She wasn't kidding before. Laura /is/ dangerous. Illyana rather likes her public image.

The slightly calculating look in the sorceress' eyes vanishes when Laura speaks again, her eyes first narrowing mock-suspiciously, then seeming to gleam with mischief. "And I bet when you tell normal people things like that in the real world, and look at them with those big green eyes, they just /drown/ you in sympathy, right?" Illyana shakes her head almost sorrowfully. "I can almost hear Wilson Phillips in the background already." She hums a few bars from 'Hold On' for emphasis, eyebrows rising with a silent question as she does so. "Ugh. Sympathy. Useless, right? And besides, you'd rather fight something."

There's no wave of a hand as warning, but a stepping disc opens up beneath Laura, and she drops through to… somewhere else.

The black rock that she materialises a couple of feet above looks vaguely like basalt, and it's slick with a greenish, oily rain that continues to fall. A few meters ahead of Laura, the rock ends in a sheer drop, and there's the sound of surf far below. The surf, at least, sounds normal. The strange keening noise that starts up a few seconds after Laura's arrival doesn't, and as for the tentacle, vaguely purplish-black, that appears above the cliff-edge, well that's not normal at all. It quests about blindly for a moment, and then in a rush the demon comes up and over the cliff, all tentacles and teeth, barrelling toward Laura.


Wilson Phillips? While Laura knows some music, mostly classical or what's often played at the Mansion, older pop songs just isn't one of them. It's enough that Laura's gaze goes distant, back to blankness, thanks to her lack of knowledge for that particular quip of Illyana's.

That blank look is something Illyana best get used to, with how often the demoness throws those teasing little remarks to people in general.

It's only when Illyana starts in about sympathy being useless, that Laura's expression thaws. She was just about to offer a singular nod to the blonde woman, when suddenly, that portal appears beneath her. Her eyebrows will flicker together, a frown just beginning to tug at her mouth and then suddenly, before that expression can fully form, X-23 finds herself elsewhere.

Near an ocean. Though, no ocean ever smelled quite so foul. Or perhaps, it's the demon making it's way up the black rock, that's wafting the putrid scent towards the slim assassin. Quickly now, X-23 will glance about herself, looking for Illyana and when she sees no one, X-23 will turn back towards the beast that's just showing itself now. Her face is rather stoic, showing very little emotion, even after the creepy looking demon finally emerges atop the stone that she's found herself on.

Claws immediately unsheathe with a familiar *SNIKT* and when the demon comes towards her, X will likewise move to meet it half way. Her first slashes will be towards the nearest grasping tentacles, intending to chop through them, as she moves towards the heart of the matter. The body of the demon itself


While Laura has seen many things, demons, aren't really up there, but, that doesn't stop her from continuing her run towards the monster. Because, yes, it's a monster.

A few more tentacles will be sliced neatly off and then the slim assassin is leaping upward and then downward. X-23's fall will bring her right onto the 'body' of the demon and as soon as she lands up the creepy demon, the claws upon her hands will slammed into the things 'head'. Or, at least, what she assumes is the head. When that doesn't seem to slow it down too much (perhaps it has a hind brain versus actual), X-23 will pull free her claws and then begin stabbing and tearing it apart.

While she makes quick work of the demon, it's messy, and when it's all said and done, X-23 stands there dripping with demon ichor, while twitching parts of the beast lay around her. Then, the dark-haired woman slowly turns back towards where she was first dropped off. She's looking for a way back, or really for Illyana, not that she calls for the demoness outloud.


"I'd applaud but my hands are full."

When Laura turns back to her entry point, there's Illyana. Standing under a sizeable red and white striped gazebo (to keep the persistent rain off) and, even more improbably, with an ice cream cone in each hand. "Here." She says, extending one hand, then the other toward Laura, letting her pick which ice cream cone to take, then pulling them both back when she notices something important. "Ugh." Illyana says, wrinkling her nose, although there's /perhaps/ the sense that she's not quite so fastidious as she's making herself out to be. "I thought you might get messy, but I didn't think you'd be /covered/ in goo. Let me get that for you." Shifting the ice cream cones to one hand, Illyana waves the other in a vaguely mystical fashion - possibly for effect - and Laura is not only good-free, but any damage to her clothes is repaired too. Offering the ice cream cones again, Illyana asks, "Where were we? Oh right. Sympathy's useless. What else have we learned?"


The dark-haired woman stands there a second longer, when her eyes fall upon Illyana, the ice cream cones and the striped gazebo.

Others might gape, but Laura's expression doesn't quite get that bad, oh it shifts to something, but in reality, its moved very little.

That momentary pause of Laura's gives Illyana enough time to work her magic, with cleaning the slim assassin up of demonic goo, and only when the spell has completed, does Laura finally move.

Her footfalls are light and barely whisper a sound, as the green-eyed clone makes her way over to the demoness. The ice cream cones will be given a look, but ignored for the moment, as she shifts her eyes back to Illyana. In fact, Illyana's words are ignored, as X-23 asks in that flat voice of hers. "That was a test."

It is a question, as the barest elevation of her voice can be heard at the end of that.

And while it wasn't really a test, X-23 is having trouble parsing just WHY Illyana did that; as she's quite unaware of how mercurial Illyana truly is


Illyana raises her eyebrows a bit, silently urging Laura to take one of the ice cream cones, but it seems like that's going to be a lost cause. "Come on, it's real ice cream, and it's going to melt. I'm not trying to poison you." She waits a beat, then adds, "Look, I'll taste whichever one you don't pick before you try yours, but I'm not licking both. Some things even I won't do." Again, she tries a hopeful look, but if she has to, she /will/ eat both of the ice cream cones.

Illyana seems completely comfortable with letting Laura back within claw-range, despite the quiet menace with which the assassin moves, and despite the fact that, if the roles were reversed, Illyana would most definitely be holding a grudge. She's not wary, she seems genuinely interested in the answer to her question… and she grimaces a bit when Laura offers one. "Sort of. Not really." She replies, but she'd noticed Laura's questioning tone and decides not to be evasive. "Fighting's easier than talking, right? Well, you just got in a fight. And you won! But what did you get out of it? Other than this rapidly melting ice cream? Nothing, right? You're still in Limbo and you got covered in goo." Illyana pauses, looking at Laura as if making sure she's paying attention. "You've got a big fight to win in the real world, right? When you've won, what do you want to go back to? What are you going to do when there's no more fighting to be done?"


Oh, Laura is paying attention, completely. She's all eyes and ears.

And her expression is quite unmoving, until that is, Illyana gets to that last part. That's enough to make her recoil; well, recoil in X-23 terms. There's no jerking backwards, away from Illyana, instead, only the barest shift of her head backwards might be seen, but for Laura, that's an extreme movement.

That question rocked her out of her normal stoic world. A world where all she ever did was determine the odds of winning the next fight, the next battle, the next mission. While she's obliquely thought about what's after, it was never something at the top of her mind. It was only ever abstract thought.

"I do not know." She states, her words showing the slightest bit of hesitancy as she speaks. She could continue with 'I haven't thought that far', but she doesn't. No, instead, she'll follow it up with a look towards Illyana, as she states (asks), "What will you do."

And yes, Illyana will have to eat that second ice cream cone. Or so it seems right now, as Laura ignores that proffered treat.


Illyana raises first one cone, then the other, as if in a final offer, then gives a 'suit yourself' shrug and starts in on the one in her right hand with every sign of deep enjoyment. Of course, her eyes keep a close watch on her guest… and this time she's rewarded. There's a flicker of triumph in Illyana's eyes when she catches Laura's little flinch. Just a little extra curve to her lips, beyond the enjoyment that the ice cream seems to be giving her, when she finally manages to press a button. The part of Illyana that likes to win is satisfied.

While the part of Illyana that remembers a time before Belasco is saddened.

"I thought you'd say that." Illyana says indistinctly, around a mouthful of ice cream, and while she's dealing with that Laura gets her chance to turn the game back on Illyana.

As if.

"Me? I got what I wanted. I wanted to go home and see my brother again, without bringing Hell to Earth with me. Not very complicated, I know, but hey, I was six when this all started." Illyana's speaking in a light tone, but the look in her eyes is anything but. "Some of me made it home, anyway. Enough. I let them think I made it all the way back because they're happier that way. And I get to watch them be happy." Illyana takes another chunk out of her ice cream, but the movement is mechanical now. For a few seconds she says nothing, then she focuses on Laura again. "You need something to go back to. Something other than fighting. And hey. When you can tell me what it is… I'll help you win that fight." Illyana grins, a little bit feral, the shadow from before dispelled. "Deal?"


So many things are going on in Laura's brain right this moment and it's enough that it causes the young woman to fist her hands at her side. In fact, it's enough to just bring her claws peeking back out through the skin of her knuckles. Only for a second, however, and then they're once more sheathed.

Her gaze will flick over Illyana's features, as she considers just what the blonde young woman has said. There's even a flare of nostrils, as Laura scents the air, looking to see what the other woman is really 'saying'. When the majority of it has the ring of truth, Laura can only offer that vague frown of hers again.

Most would state deal, but for Laura, she simply states, "Okay.", her voice hedging towards robotic, as her inward struggle still dampens her voice.


Crunch. Crunch. Illyana's run out of ice cream and is finishing off the first cone while she waits for Laura to answer, apparently with infinite patience. Anyone /other/ than Laura probably wouldn't be able to tell that she's figuratively on the edge of her seat waiting for the young assassin's reply. Or that she was telling the truth, previously. At least up to a certain point.

"You REALLY." Illyana begins, before pausing to swallow her final mouthful of cone. "Have to stop sniffing me. Or at least do it when I'm not looking. It's off-putting." Illyana's complaining, but not for the first time her words and expression don't match up. Amusement, but still that tinge of anticipation, are clear.

If Illyana didn't still have an ice cream cone in her hand, she might be rubbing her hands together in a not entirely reassuring manner right now. Instead, she just smiles brightly. "Great!" She pauses, looking at Laura as if she's wondering whether the push the ice cream on her again, then just starts eating it with a mental shrug. Demons are allowed double ice cream. "We should do this again soon. Where can I drop you off for this mission of yours?" She really is the soul of helpfulness all of a sudden.


Sniffing?

When Illyana brings up X-23's scenting and how disconcerting it is, the slim assassin is actually in the middle of doing it yet again. She can't quite help it. It's second nature, almost as second nature as breathing air.

So, when Illyana brings that up, Laura actually freezes slightly at being 'caught'. She stays frozen for a handful of seconds, but when it seems clear Illyana isn't really intent on hurting her for doing that, the dark-haired woman begins to relax. Her head will cant to the side as she considers where she needs to go. "Five miles from the Mansion within the wooded area." Her directions are specific, because she's assuming Illyana wanted her to give specific directions such as that.

And while others might say more, Laura doesn't. Nope. She's rather literal and straight to the point, but beneath those flat eyes of her, her brain is whirling around in circles, trying to make heads or tails of what Illyana has said.


Is that a /second/ button that Illyana's managed to press? It is! It took a while but she's finally breaking through Laura's armour of stoicism.

And it's all for her own good of course.

Illyana's lips curve up in a smirk, and there's a knowing look in her eyes. It's not much, but she knows that with Laura, it'll be more than enough. Got you.

Illyana's magnanimous enough in victory not to make Laura squirm, or maybe… she actually likes the younger woman. "No grid reference?" She teases, but doesn't wait for an answer. A circle of light appears beneath Laura, and Illyana calls to her, just before she vanishes, "Have fun! Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"

This time, Laura's delivered at ground level, exactly where she wants to be. And there's not a single demon in sight.


It's unlikely Laura would ever do what Illyana wouldn't do … at least, when it comes to having fun, as the two young women are definitely of the polar opposites when it comes to what they both consider fun.

Laura will simply allow herself to be picked up-or is that dropped, through the portal and towards the ground level and as soon as she's through the portal, she'll offer a faint sniff to the air. It smells okay and when her senses tell her she's back on Earth, Laura will immediately start in on her mission.

The one she was trying to complete, before Illyana whisked her away so.


Illyana remains where she is, diligently finishing off her second ice cream cone, then delicately licking her fingers clean individually. Once she's finished, she glances across at the place Laura vanished and chuckles quietly to herself. A flash of light later and she's back in her throne room, the gazebo banished back to wherever garishly striped gazebos go when they're not needed to keep the rain off of demon sorceresses.

With a jaunty step, Illyana walks toward the balcony, pausing at the place Laura first arrived and crouching down. A sneaky smile arrives on her lips as she studies the floor, and she reaches out to one side. A small stepping disc appears above her outstretched hand, and a musty tome falls into her palm. It's bound in skin, and it's perhaps best not to speculate whose skin it might be bound in. Illyana flips through the stiff, crackling leaves until she reaches a blank page, then stretches out her other hand, palm down, over the area of floor she seemed so interested in.

The words she speaks don't seem to be made for human vocal cords, but four small patches begin to glow beneath her hand. Slowly, she raises her hand, and the four specks of dried blood, left behind when Laura first popped her claws, rise from the floor and imprint themselves on the empty page of Illyana's book. Snapping it closed, Illyana bounces up to her feet and walks back to her throne, book tucked securely under her arm.

"That was a productive day."

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