Demon Bear: Demon... Beard?

December 07, 2017:

Rachel returns to the Xavier Institute to pass on information about the Demon Bear. Illyana tries to avoid telling Piotr about her last run in with the creature. Piotr is suspected of harbouring infernal facial hair.

Xavier Institute - Illyana's room

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Setting: The X-Mansion. It's seen better days. While construction workers continue doing such things as adding a new roof, re-doing room walls, and then all the fun of painting, redecorating, flooring, and so on — there are other more important things that need to be done. One such thing is to hunt down a blonde sorceress. That's what is on one Rachel Summers' mind as she trudges through the mansion trying to locate said blonde sorceress. The normal places are checked first. Like the kitchen. It's a prime location for anyone to be in.
It's also a great place for the one seeking out Illyana, to grab a cup of cocoa with marshmallows and a gingerbread man.

Of course, the second place would be Illyana's room, unless it's Limbo, at which point Rachel's fairly well SOL until Illyana returns from Limbo. As even a communicator device isn't going to work in Hell.

So trudging up the stairs with her mug of cocoa and a half-eaten gingerbread man, the red-head goes. She has a LOT to tell Illyana, a lot. Rachel's only just returned from her trip to see Dani's grandfather, and as a result, she has very important information to relay, and that information is also important to defeat the monster that has possessed Dani's soul.

With much annoyance, Rachel finds herself outside Illyana's ever so perfect room. "Of course your room wouldn't be destroyed." With a muffled sound now, Rachel stuffs the last of the gingerbread man into her mouth and knocks on the door. "Mffle mrf." Or in Rachel, "Hey you in?"


If Rachel had come by a few minutes ago, she wouldn't have found Illyana in residence. Said blonde sorceress was half a world away, in sunny Genosha, adding her contribution to the X-Men's plan to annoy Magneto… and incidentally do what they can to fix the problems in that country that they had a hand in causing.

Even a few seconds before, and Rachel would have been out of luck, since Illyana was returning through Limbo via stepping disc with her brother in tow. Inside her room, a point of silver-white light appears, swiftly expanding into a large oval portal, and Illyana walks through. Or perhaps trudges. There's a certain mutinous stubbornness evident in the way she walks, certainly. "It wasn't a big deal, really." Illyana says over her shoulder, to the portal or more accurately to the person who's following her through it. "The bear attacked and no-one died. The rest is just details." She sounds defensive, but her tone suggests she's not hopeful about getting away with this one.

The knock and the mumbling from the corridor make Illyana's eyes light up a bit. Rescue! "Hey Ray!" Illyana calls back, having somehow recognised the person outside, and flicks her fingers at the warded door. "Come on in!"


Piotr had a very important part in the mission to Genosha, he drank a beer, insinuated Nate was a lightweight and most importantly tried to keep anyone from causing more international incidents. Of course that last part is why Scott sent him, but his real motive was it actually allowed him to force Illyana to spend more than three seconds in his presence so he could try and get her to talk about the bear incident.

"You say that snowflake, but you are not fooling anyone." He is pursuing his sister through the her stepping disc, silently thankful that she didn't decide to leave him in Limbo to evade his concerned badgering. He is about to follow up on his statement when the knock on the door interrupts. He greets the new entry with a not overly warm, "Rachel." Whether that is because of the interruption or not is yet to be seen, but for some reason he also takes a second to smooth out his newly regrown beard. Coincidence?


As Illyana calls out for Rachel to come on in, the red-head's hand moves towards the door handle, opening it up with a swing of the door, and casual, "Hey, how come _your_ room is prestine and mine is a wrecked .. Oh." The red-head pauses in her statement then, casting a glance towards the tall Russian with a re-grown BEARD. His tone is /less/ than pleased and Rachel can only wonder what the hell she just stepped in on.

With one hand filled with a mug of hot chocolate, the other on the door, a normal, ever so polite and nice person might excuse herself with an apology, and come back later. Rachel is neither of those. Instead her gaze remains on the beard a moment. "You grew the grizzly back." She offers with an off-hand comment, then trudges right on into the room, regardless of what she just interrupted, closing the door behind her.

"I have returned from Black Eagle's with news that you both should hear, really." Though Rachel was wanting to relay this information just to Illyana first, but hey - Piotr's good too. She lifts the mug of cocoa upwards, takes a sip, and then casts her eyes back onto Illyana, one eyebrow arching upwards in an unasked question at the girl.


Despite inviting Rachel in, Illyana still feels the need not to let Piotr have the last word. "I fooled NATE." She points out, waving a hand at her portal and dismissing it back to Limbo, the light level in the room dropping markedly when it vanishes.

"Blame the bear, not me." Illyana answers Rachel's complaint, flopping down to sit on the edge of her bed to watch the interplay between Piotr and Rachel. The look the redhead gets from her brother puts the sorceress on notice that this isn't going to be a big enough distraction to make her brother forget what's currently his favourite subject.

And then Rachel speaks, and Illyana has to hide a wince. Of course, this is what Rachel wants to talk to her about. And she should - no, she NEEDS to hear about it. But it's hardly going to help her cause with Piotr. "Black Eagle is Dani's grandfather." Illyana explains to Piotr after about two seconds of grudging silence before she bows to the inevitable. "Ray was looking for something that would help us fight the bear, since it won rounds one and two." Illyana grimaces as she admits that, and offers Piotr a shrug before looking back towards Rachel. "How did it go?"


Addressing the redhead and her comments about his glorious facial hair, Piotr mock scowls and says "My beard has returned. And it bears a grudge against you for convincing me in a weakened state to shave it off. This is unforgivable." Of course, his beard is less mountain man than the first time, it is at least neatly trimmed. And as usual it's hard to tell if Piotr is joking, he's not very good at it, despite much exposure to his much funnier teammates.

As Illyana and Rachel try to press ahead with the what's next solution Piotr decides to shelf his questions for now. Hopefully he will get some answers in the midst of the discussion. He nods as Illyana fills him in on the details.
He prompts Rachel alongside Illyana, "What did you learn?"


Casting a glance about Illyana's room, Rachel soon finds a seat at the vanity bench, the mug of cocoa placed under a telekinetic 'coaster', so not to destroy the vanity's wood varnish. Rachel shifts about until both legs are curled up beneath her, hands on her knees, as she gets as comfortable as she can on the seat. Emerald eyes shift towards Piotr, a wry twist of her lips given to the man. She might have offered a quipped, 'hey it looks good on you', or maybe something equally kind, but given the man's tone and words..? She clams up, unsure if it is a joke, or not, she dismisses it entirely, to each their own.

Getting down to business, Rachel begins, "This demon bear, the reason that it wanted Dani was due to who reside within it right now. When it first appeared, Dani's parents went out to banish it, they were consumed by it while managing to temporarily banish it. Dani believed them to be dead, but instead they are probably the first victims of it. They are influencing the bear still, and that is why it is after Dani, or was. It has appeared one other time, when Dani got Brightwind, and was banished, but it keeps coming back. There's the bad news, and this gets worse."

Rachel's nose wrinkles upwards, taking a moment to grab another sip of the cocoa before it gets cold.


Illyana leans back on her bed, bracing her hands behind her, and allows a smirk to touch her lips when Piotr mock-berates Rachel for having to regrow his beard. She's trying to look as relaxed and unconcerned as she normally does while world-ending threats are being discussed, but this time she can't quite manage it. The look in her eyes is a little too sharp, as she intently listens to Rachel's report, and her back's a little too stiff.

Those blue eyes narrow as Rachel speaks, thoughts chasing themselves around the inside of her head, but she doesn't speak until Rachel pauses. "Of course it gets worse. So, the bear takes Dani's parents and they want their daughter, so the bear takes her. Dani wants us, so the bear comes for us." Illyana blows out a breath and glances up at Piotr with a probably inappropriate smirk. "Family who won't leave you alone. Sound familiar?" Her expression's more fond than aggrieved, though, and she drops her eyes back to Rachel.

"Brightwind's interesting, though. Maybe Asgard doesn't like to share with the bear. Pity they seem to have lost interest." Still, maybe something they can use… Illyana chews that over for a moment, then finally says, "Let's hear the rest."


Noticing that his joke does not elicit the expected witty rejoinder, causes a small half frown on Piotr's face and the thought «Damn. I must not have said that right. Is somehow funnier when Logan threatens people.» He looks for a piece of furniture that might support his frame but finding none, he opts for a free wall to lean against, glad that Rachel has actual business to discuss to distract from yet another failed joke.

He makes small grunts of disgust throughout her speech, his mouth twisted in a displeased grimace. "Of course it gets worse." mere moments before the words leave his sister's mouth.

At Illyana's taunt about family he gives her his best withering look "Da, I am terrible demon brother haunting you out of love and concern. It is awful, you will live." He doesn't sound overly annoyed at the comment, he certainly expects Illyana not to be thrilled that he is hounding her.

Back to Rachel, "Did he say how it was banished the first time? Not that it worked so perfectly, but perhaps, it might help?"


Agreeing with Illyana's words with a bob of her head, Rachel turns her gaze towards Piotr, answering his question first. "Evidently, Dani's parents banished it - I think by succumbing to it. I'm honestly not sure on that end, nor what Dani did to banish it when she got Brightwind. Here's the good catch, though. It can be defeated, but the more souls that it possesses the more powerful it becomes. So it's got Dani, now, her parents, who knows what or who else at this point and time. And if that isn't bad enough, there are only a couple paths that you can take in order to defeat it. - That Black Eagle knows."

Rachel's long legs extend outwards then, dropping down to plant her feet upon the ground. Her hands plant on each side of her on the bench, gaze down as she works the jumble of thoughts around a bit.

Finally, her eyes shift upwards, focusing directly upon Illyana. "Illy - you were worried that hurting the bear, would hurt Dani or those that it has possessed. It wont. However, you aren't going to be able to get to the bear's core, it's heart, until you remove the souls that are trapped within it. I explained your soulsword to Black Eagle, and if you can get close to the puppet bodies, Dani, her parents, whoever else is possessed, you can free their souls from its corruption. At least, again, the bad, in theory. Black Eagle thinks this will succeed, but he's not one hundred percent sure."

Rachel has that good / bad stuff so down right now, as she continues, gaze flickering momentarily towards Piotr, stopping there to watch him closely. Why is it that the man is so difficult for her to figure out? Good grief. Turning back to Illyana, Rachel's eyes scan the blonde. "If that doesn't work, we need to some how free the souls, and then we kill the beast by getting to its heart, which means another trip into that shadow realm."


Illyana heaves an exaggerated sigh when Piotr assures her she'll live. "As long as YOU don't turn into a bear." She tells him. "The beard had better not be the start." Privately she has to admit that it's not so bad now that it's at least been trimmed, but even she knows that her mind is trying to find something to focus on that isn't what she's sure is coming.

That's why she doesn't poke Piotr in the stomach for trying to be Wolverine and not himself. That's filed away for later.

Returning her focus to Rachel, Illyana gives a small, unconscious but firm shake of her head when Rachel mentions succumbing to the spirit. She's mentally taken that option off the table as soon as it's presented. Illyana's abandoned her pose of relaxation now, now leaning forward with her elbows resting on her knees, a look of impatience starting to form while Rachel sorts through her thoughts.

Rachel's revelation that she has a free shot at the bear without having to worry about hurting Dani brings an honestly nasty grin to Illyana's lips - an expression that freezes with Rachel's next comment. "You told Dani's grandfather about my sword. What ELSE did you tell him about me, Ray?"
Illyana's eyes seem to go cold and hard for a moment, but then she rubs her forehead and the look is gone. Possibly it was never there.

"Never mind. That sounds like something we can work with. /IF/ we can get to its puppets. If we can FIND its puppets." Illyana sounds a bit sour at the end, but it's more than they've had so far, by a long way. Rachel's done well. But, of course, Illyana should have known she wasn't finished.

When Rachel locks eyes with her and tells her the punchline, Illyana's hands ball into fists, screwing up the comforter within her grasp. She doesn't even notice. "That." She says, very carefully. "Is going to be a problem." She pauses for a long moment, then snorts quietly to herself and looks up at Piotr. "Looks like you're going to hear the story after all. Are you sure you want to know?"


"The beard makes me handsome, not bear." Does it though? That's certainly a matter of taste. He does fix Illyana with a look though when saying "Besides, if either of us were to turn into a demon and hunt the other down, would you really bet on me sister?" It's a light-hearted observation, about as close as Pete gets to a joke. But he is at least smiling when he delivers it. It's not cruel, but certainly a bit more honest than he has been in the past. He still struggles with how Illyana returned to them, and rarely chooses to make such direct reference to it.

Watching his sister very carefully when she talks about the sword, he can't and doesn't bother trying to hide his concern. He flicks his eyes to Rachel for only a moment, but keeps his body and face clearly lined up with Illyana. Mentally he worries «What was that?»

When she offers up to tell her story though, he actually stands up a little straighter and earnestly encourages "Da. Please. You tell me your story, I need to tell you mine." What? He wasn't there when the bear attacked. But he did have something he has been unsuccessfully trying to tell Illyana about her sword.


The banter between brother and sister is given a half-smile from Rachel, though she does not speak upon it, one way or another.

Oh yes, Rachel catches Illyana's annoyance at Rachel, but she doesn't give a damn, either. In war, there are no secrets. The cold annoyance is met with cool green eyes, if Piotr wasn't about, Rachel might even offer a teasing, 'Oh, everything, what your favorite food is, your weight and height', but she doesn't. Instead, thinking better of it, Rachel coughs politely. "There are occasions when letting a small amount of information out, gains a great deal of information in return, Illyana." Rachel isn't going to apologize, instead, she continues onward.

"I don't want to enter it any more than you do, Yana." Rachel continues, standing upwards. "The last time nearly broke me, and while I am quite prepared this time around, you can imagine the beast gains strength through negative emotions and feelings. It's a demon. It's going to thrive on hurting you where it counts, and feed off of that pain. But, as an old man told me, unless you experience that pain, you will never grow."

Collecting up her mug of cocoa, Rachel heads towards the door. "I'll let you both continue the discussion you were having before I entered." Sorry, Illyana. "We'll discuss tactics and what we can do when we can relay more information to others. We need to go into this more organized and ready for anything, versus it constantly being one step ahead of us."

With an incline of her head towards Piotr and then Illyana, Rachel swiftly exits the room.


There's a flicker of something that might just be a wince when Rachel offers her little lecture on the drawbacks of obsessive secrecy. But that expression, too, doesn't hang around on Illyana's face. Before the demoness can come up with a suitable reply - or even decide whether she's going to concede or argue the point - Rachel is leaving.

And Illyana just lets her.

It's only when Illyana's left staring at the firmly closed door following Rachel's exit that Illyana finally says anything. "Damn." The word is spoken softly, under her breath, and there's venom in it. Her next words are scarcely more audible. "I did not want that to happen." Illyana stares moodily at the door for a few seconds more. She should be pleased. One less person to share her secrets.

Somehow, she isn't.

Finally, Illyana grimaces and reaches down to tug off one boot, then the other, then scoots back a bit on her bed, crossing her legs tailor style and turning to face Piotr straight on. "I've been into the bear's shadow realm twice now." Illyana tells her brother without further hedging. "The first time was in the Danger Room. Something about the simulation Dani was running called it. We only got out because Ray blew up. The plan was to not do that again." Illyana smiles, a dark expression without humour.

"It didn't work out that way. The bear came back, shattered my wards and started tearing into the school. Dani was there, only it wasn't Dani. She's the bear's puppet, now. We fought." Illyana shrugs, as if that's unimportant. "Then Scott got pulled into the shadow. I left the Soulsword out here as an anchor and went in after him." She goes silent, and for a long moment it seems she might not speak again.

"The bear offered me something. To be what… you've always wanted me to be. All I had to do was surrender and let it have Dani and the others. I chose to fight, and I nearly didn't come home at all. Next time I might not."
Illyana snorts to herself and shakes her head. "If you want to tell me I should have taken the deal and walk out, or tell me I'm a coward… and walk out… now would be a good time."


As Rachel takes her leave Piotr offers a small smile and wave to her departure. "Is not…" he tries to explain that she wasn't interrupting and that he would like her to stay, but she is packed up and gone before he can get the words out. He frowns but shakes that off quickly to give Illyana his full attention. He notes her frustration with how things just went but doesn't comment.

Listening to her detail her history with the bear and it's realm seems like it is going to be fairly rote. He nods and listens without comment or interruption, though he does narrow his eyes at the part about the sword being an anchor. However when she gets to the part about the offered deal, his whole demeanor changes.

His body relaxes, arms are uncrossed and his furrowed brow unknit. He shakes his head and moves from standing to squatting in front of Illyana, trying to get more eye level with her. "Illyana-" He wants to interject, but forces himself to wait and let her finish, though he does reach out a hand to her shoulder. When she does finish, he takes a few moments to look at her.

"Illyana. You are exactly who I want you to be. You chose to fight. You chose to put others ahead of yourself. I will never walk out on you. You know this, da? Never."

Who the hell cares about the sword now. It seemed super important up until she shared this. And Piotr winces only a little when he realizes what he feels is not deep sympathy or even necessarily overwhelming love, but relief. Relief that she opened up to him. Relief that she made a heroic choice. He meant what he said about never walking out on her. It all scares him, but not as much as the thought of losing her again.


Illyana keeps her eyes on Piotr as she tells her story, or at least she tries to. She manages to keep looking in his general direction, at least. The deeper she gets into the telling, the harder it becomes to hold his gaze. Even for Illyana, who's made a reputation for not caring what anyone thinks of the things she does or the choices she makes.

When Piotr moves towards her, those blue eyes turn wary. She tenses, slightly, like a skittish animal who's not sure if the giant approaching her is friendly or not. She doesn't move away, not even when his hand reaches for her shoulder, although he'll find it rock hard beneath his touch. Forcing herself to look into his eyes again, she waits for him to deliver his judgment, her expression and her eyes guarded.

When he finally speaks and his tone isn't hard and accusing, her expression remains still, but there's a faint look of surprise in her eyes. It hardens to disbelief, until she slowly realises he means every word he says. Hesitantly, a hand comes up to touch the arm that's resting on her shoulder, and a faint smile seems on the verge of breaking through.

Then in a rush she throws herself into her brother's arms, holding on to him tightly. For a few seconds she doesn't seem to be able to find the breath for words, but then she manages a near whisper. "It wasn't just an anchor. The sword. I didn't leave it here just so I could find my way home. I left it for you. I hoped you'd come and rescue me. I'm sorry."

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