Demon Bear: An Abomination In The Eyes Of The World

December 11, 2017:

Scott needs to understand what he saw in the Demon Bear's shadow realm. Illyana doesn't like his questions. Scott doesn't like her answers.

Xavier Institute - Danger Room


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The mansion even it its state of disrepair is still home, still cozy and still being decorated by members of faculty, present students and Scott himself. Alex has even been charged with finding a tree and setting it up. It's late, getting darker and Scott has several times over attempted to seek out Illyana by means of text messages. This is round four.

"Once again when chance arises find me. We need to have a talk." Simple enough of a request, especially from a teleporter.

Scott's hands flex fingers wriggling together as he stares across the patchy jungle. A twitch of noise to his left and he turns a blast of energy snapping out to rip through the forest and nail a velociraptor in the chest it slams in to a tree that buckles. A second velcoirator to his right lurches forward and leaps, dropping to his back the X-Man kicks both feet up sending it above him and over crashing in on itself as Scott wheels on both knees to face it.

A Danger Room Simulation that has been queued up from actual memories of his and Jean's own trip almost a year ago now. A scenario that got him almost killed because he wasn't fast enough to react to the third. This time he is and it's coming straight for him, a red lance rips out and theres a flicker-flash of lights and the entire room abruptly powers down to black, then blue-white grid lay out then a white expansive open room of grays.

"Error. Sector 4. Power shortage detected." A sigh, since the Demon Bear attack much of Xavier's Grounds have been suffering intermittent failures or oddities. Up to and including appearances of Bamfs again.

Illyana has an inconsistent relationship with messaging technology in general, and the X-Men's communications technology in particular. If something important, or at least interesting, is going on, then it's a good bet she'll turn up. If it's something she's not as interested in, she's nowhere to be found.

Guess which category this falls into.

Her phone, lying on her bed in her apparently empty room, buzzes insistently as Scott's latest text message demands attention. With a flash of silver-white light, a small portal appears above the bed and a pale-skinned hand reaches through to scoop up the phone and pull it back through the portal. There's a couple of seconds of silence as the message is scanned, then a couple more seconds of somehow more ominous silence as options are considered, and finally a sigh issues from the portal, which snaps shut, leaving the room in darkness.
When the lights go back on in the Danger Room, Scott's no longer alone.

Illyana's standing behind him. She's not dressed for the Danger Room, instead wearing what might be her interpretation of a Christmas sweater - mostly black with a white ram's skull between two horizontal rows of small pentagrams - together with a short, black denim skirt and tights. It's almost like she timed her arrival so the flare of her stepping disc would be hidden by the returning lights.

Surely not.

"If this is a bad time, I can come back?" She offers, perhaps too helpfully.

Scott has his back turned to Illyana when she arrives via expertly timed stepping disc. He is shaking with the adrenaline ebbing off of him, shoulders up and chest rising to falling. No Christmas sweater for him just a pair of black cargo pants, boots, t-shirt with the X-logo on the left pocket, gloves and his visor. The cool air of the failed Danger Room simulation actually welcome as climate control reestablishes.

"No. Not that I am keen on being snuck up on in the dark." Maybe it isn't just the adrenaline that has him suddenly excited. A memory overlap in his mind of Illyana Rasputin being replaced with the visage of the Darkchylde still fresh.

Turning around to face her past the snap on and off of lights, the stability of them taking several blinks before shes in full view, the sweater unexpected.

"I was hoping we could have a talk about what I saw with you and Moonstar." Straight for it. He is walking though past her towards the Danger Room exit in to the lobby just beyond it, water bottle and a towel waiting. He's not saying much else as he dries his face and neck off, a long squeeze of the clear liquid savored. Process, calm down and then approach.

"So that's where Nate gets it from." Illyana remarks, as if the possibility that people just don't like being snuck up on has simply never occurred to her. There's a tension in her voice, though. It's faint but it's there. Something about her casual pose is forced.

Even so, she doesn't hesitate when Scott asks his question. She shrugs. "Sure. What did you see, and what do you want to know?" But he's already passing her, so with a second shrug Illyana pivots and falls in behind him.

Once out in the lobby, the Danger Room's door's sliding shut behind her, Illyana moves to the other side of the corridor, finding a wall to lean against. For a moment or two she presses her palms against the metal wall, as if soaking up the chill from the surface, then crosses her arms in front of her. She lets the silence stretch out between them, not volunteering any information as she watches Scott refresh himself.

The towel around his shoulders Scott is squeezing the bottle letting it *crunch* under his fingers before setting it down with himself on one of the outcropping benches. "What exactly did I see?" He questions, "I know I was trapped in Moonstars… pocket dimension or whatever that was, she was making me see things but what you became, what I seen out of you and how you looked at me was entirely different. You were not you. There was something else standing there in your place."

She possibly can tell Scott is trying to dampen the impact of his words but hes been dwelling on it, thinking about it and lately doesn't have the soundboard in these sort of things that is jean, not with how busy she is working with Charles on their political and public walts around the world spreading counter-mutant menance talk.

Ice blue eyes follow the crumpling of the bottle, then refocus on Scott himself as he sits down. There's a flicker in those eyes when Scott asks his first question. Illyana shifts her position against the wall, about to speak - but then subsides when Scott clarifies what he's asking. Her eyes narrow fractionally, before she resumes her slouch against the wall.

An opportunity missed. Scott's getting better at this game at the most inconvenient time.

"I saw what you saw." Illyana speaks the words calmly. "I saw what the bear chose to show you. Bodies, falling from the bear after you turned your powers on it. Some of them in pieces. Our friends. Family. None of that was real. We're all still here." She pauses, eyes still on Scott. It's hard to read someone when you can't see their eyes, but there's perhaps the sense she's trying.

"The bear told me it liked me." Illyana chooses her words carefully. "That it wanted to help me." She suddenly smiles. "You, and the others? Not so much." She pauses again, the smile vanishing from her features. "The bear doesn't want me to help you. Doesn't want you to trust me. So you saw something you wouldn't trust." Illyana's head tilts to one side. "Are you going to let the bear have what it wants?"

"So you're saying in addition to what it had already shown me it also decided to deliver more false images?" Scott's red line that substitutes for visuals steadies on the young Russian mutant. "I'm wanting to call bullshit on that. Overmuch you would think." Maybe though. A sense of doubt fills Cyclops enough he is sorting what he remembers.

"The Bear already had us enough or so I want to think. The way it was acting towards you was different from the rest of us, it discarded me. I was less than worthy of consideration but you were an adversary. I understand some measure of what you're capable of, I've seen Limbo, I remember our attacks on Genosha, the outpost by the South Pole. This was new. This was… " Both of his hands rest on his knees and he frowns around that visor, "I am having a hard time trusting you right now, Illyana so it has succeeded. My mind is not clouded, drugged or being coerced by outside means right now. I'm crystal. Do you understand? Without trust our team fails. I need to be able to trust you."
There goes Scott pretending he is a human lie detector.

"I've been at his a long time. I've seen a lot. If you are lying to me I have to ask several questions, one of them being why? Obviously. What I seen was terrifying. Does that mean it also terrifies you?"

Illyana's expression somehow turns cold without a single muscle in her face moving. The X-Men's resident sorceress doesn't like being called a liar… especially when she's lying through her teeth. The only physical manifestation of the wheels turning inside Illyana's head is the index finger of one hand, tapping softly against the opposing bicep. She doesn't interrupt, not even to protest her innocence.

Giving Scott time to speak buys her time to think.

The expression of masklike calm she's wearing only slips when he asks whether she's frightened by what she became. There's a spark of fire in the ice of her eyes, genuine anger flashing there for a moment, and she draws in a sharp breath for a retort, before she catches herself. Slowly, carefully, she smiles. "I liked you a lot better when you just used me as a taxi service and didn't ask me any questions." She doesn't sound angry, though. If there's anything identifiable in her tone it might just be respect.

"Maybe you shouldn't trust me, Scott." She tells him, and finally stops slouching against her wall. Straightening up, she walks with precise, silent steps to the bench across from the one Scott's occupying and sits down, crossing one leg almost primly over the other, her hands at her sides, fingers gripping the bench seat beneath her. "After all, if you leave a little girl in hell for seven years, how do you /really/ know what finally finds its way home?" Despite the tension in her body, she's still smiling. "Not Piotr's little Snowflake, I'll tell you that much."

Illyana leans forward a bit, looking into Scott's visor. She can't meet his gaze, it's impossible, but she's managing a very good impression of doing just that. "You saw me. The real me. And yes, it terrifies me. But not for the reason you think. Because the bear gave me a choice." She snorts. "To be a real girl again." She shakes her head. "The price was all of you, but still. I chose… that. And I don't know if I chose it to save all of you… or because I wanted it." She grins, showing perfect white teeth.

"What have you let into your home, Scott Summers? Do you wish you hadn't asked?"

"Most people tend to like me more until they get to know me and I give them a taste of my thoughts." Scott smiles roughly, a harsh looking line cut across his chiseled features. The sweat wetting his hair has it damp, limp around his visor, the frown still present and deep despite his tight forced smile gaze not leaving her when she settles before him.

His knuckles whiten as she carries on, talking to him about exactly what transpired and the offer."You're definitely no 'snowflake' no." Scott agrees.
"That was you." He states, echoing her not so much of a question, a muscle in Scott's jaw bounces, a jolt up and down as though teeth just clenched and unclenched.

"Give me more to work with. To understand. I can't say the call you made was right or wrong, you cannot trust the Bear to agree to any terms. I wouldn't. Not with what it's displayed but at the same time, I don't know the depth of what you claim to really be beyond what I have witnessed and it is harrowing, you disappeared and that… person, came forth… "

A break in his words, a pause and his hand slides up to smooth back his hair, a hesitation that is forced to give him some moment of thought, "I'm a soldier. I have use of weapons but I have to know how to use them and when I spoke to you, you came to, or at least I would like to think you did. I have to understand though and you have to earn trust. You hid this from me, from the team and I want to fault you for it but the depth of it is lost on me beyond… what I felt in that deadlock in time." The man is clearly talking to both of them, it is almost as though hes trying to make excuses for her or his own rational mind. Maybe sanity. Right now, its hard to tell. He's still seeing the horns and buning eyes and they're overlapping with the blue eyed blonde's visage before him.

Illyana's smile becomes a fraction more real when Scott answers her banter in kind. On the surface it's almost the way they usually interact. Beneath, it's anything but. To Illyana, it feels like going through the motions of an old dance, perhaps for the last time. Scott's next words just seem to underline that feeling, but oddly Illyana just nods. For someone to so openly refute her brother's idealised picture of her is somehow refreshing. Maybe even liberating.

Of course, that doesn't make it any less dangerous. She stands to lose everything she has in this world. But then, if she has nothing left, then what's this world to her? She thinks about that, while she watches Scott struggle with what she's just told him. He doesn't even know the right questions to ask, but she tries to answer anyway.

"That was me." She confirms, again. "But this?" She lets go of the bench and stretches her arms out to her sides, then gives a little smirk and lets them drop again. "This is me, too. This is what I was and what I choose to be. You reminded me of that. What you saw is what I'll be when I can't make that choice any more. I didn't disappear. I wasn't replaced. I'm both. And neither. All at once." She's still smirking, but it doesn't quite reach her eyes, as if she's not truly enjoying his discomfort.

Taking a breath, Illyana leans back on her bench, back against the wall, and folds her arms again. "I hid this from you." She acknowledges it without a hint of shame. "I hid it from the team. And unless you tell them, I intend to keep hiding it from the team. Are you really surprised that I did? You can't even explain what you saw, and you used to date a God." The impish smile that pulls at her lips is pure Illyana, even though bringing up the Phoenix is probably only throwing gasoline on the fire.

"How do I earn your trust, Scott?" She asks the question frankly. "Forget what you saw. Think about what you already knew. Limbo is mine. You've seen it. You know what lives there. How could you trust me before the bear got its paws on us? What can I possibly do, that you could possibly understand, that would make you trust me now?"

Abruptly she grins and shakes her head. "If diving into a demonic shadow-bear to rescue you wasn't enough."

Scott's hands rise up to curl together underneath his chin as he watches her. Not quite trying to impersonate Auguste Rodin's 'Thinker' but doing a good job of it.

"You have made your judgement calls and I have made mine. I don't have enough here to bring to light more than you're an abomination in the eyes of the world like any mutant you call family or friend. You're exactly what we seek out to defend and secure freedom for. You're us. I would be a hypocrite to turn you away from us now."

Scott wets his lips the bottom one sucks in a little then lets out, "We keep this in house. You and me. A need to know basis only, I don't want others becoming concerned or shaken or even remotely fearful of you, not while this Bear can use this against us. Not right now. It's ability to invoke and feed off of terror. You're going to need to open up to me though and explain exactly what I should be expecting from 'you'. Exposure and if need be how to take you down. A contingency plan."

"Think on that while you can." He stands up suddenly, looking down at his teammate. "This is a big step for us. A lot of faith in one another, especially me in you. I won't tell another until you're ready to reveal yourself but don't make me regret this. We need you and you need us."

A light attempt to smile at her grin and he fails, it's weak looking. "You did save me, you were there for me and thats probably why I am giving you this pass. It's not without consideration and a lot of it is true ignorance to just what you might be. You're more than a mutant and thats.. " A shrug, broad shoulders lift and fall.

"Does your brother know?"

At the words 'an abomination in the eyes of the world', Illyana looks almost smug. She's been called worse. A lot worse. She's about to tell Scott that, and almost misses the punchline that comes right after it. For about half a second the smugly satisfied look is replaced by one of surprise. One point to Scott for choosing a different path than the one Illyana expected.

What comes next on that path draws an appraising look from Illyana. One she doesn't try to hide. He's dealing in shades of grey, and she wants him to know that she's recognised that. It makes them that little bit more similar. She lets the look linger a moment before she discards it, snorting quietly when the notion of people being afraid of her is brought up. The idea of a contingency plan - to be used against HER - makes her eyes sharpen on Scott again, and she doesn't immediately move to stand when he does so. She waits until he's finished giving his combined warning and… pep talk? Only when he's finished does she uncross her legs and stand up, although he's so much taller than her that she's still looking up at him.

She hardly looks like someone who'd require a contingency plan, which has always been at least part of the point.

"Doctor Stephen Strange." Illyana says, not acknowledging Scott's point about mutual dependence. "I'm his apprentice. There's your contingency plan, or at least the start of one." Illyana smiles, a sly look in her eyes. "If you're going to keep my secrets, Scott, what's one more?" Maybe she shouldn't remind him that he's now helping her do exactly what he's unhappy with her for doing, but she can't quite help herself. It's just in her nature.

The last question seems to rob any amusement she's getting from the situation from her. "My brother knows what he wants to know. It's always been that way." She seems ready to leave it at that, but there's that 'trust' thing Scott was talking about. "He knows the choice I made."

"Temporary." Scott says, "You'll let the others know in time. I can't tell them for you and I won't reveal it but eventually… " The man manages as if explaining himself. He is full of secrets and shot calls right now that skirt the questionable and have his team losing a sense of trust. Greater good for them, for mutantkind. Maybe they'll see that come the end of the tunnel where light should supposedly exist.

A low nod is all she gets in regards to her brother and the topic there. Siblings are one thing he won't try to get between not thse two especially, Piotr is a gentle giant until his 'snowflake' becomes a question.

"Stephen Strange. Noted and I won't hesitate if I have to." A fair warning, an attempt for stern and his hand lifts up, a brief hover then it places on her shoulder. It's almost as though hes making sure shes a real person and not some imagined monster hiding in people skin. Then slowly he leans forward, stoops down to her level and whispers near her ear,"Next time /she/ comes out you make sure theres no hesitation. Because I won't."

Scott stands upright to once more, gives a warmer smile, forced as it is at the moment. It is not as though he wants her to feel like they're enemies now, they're not. No. Far from it. Cyclops just wants her to know he'll do anything to keep his team safe.

"I'm ordering Chinese take out when I get out of the showers. Let anyone else know! My treat." Scott's voice trails after him as he disappears around the corner…

Illyana's expression remains professionally neutral when Scott talks about temporary solutions and the need for the truth to come out in time. There's certainly nothing there that suggests she's balking at the idea… but there's even less to suggest she's ready to embrace it. 'Eventually' might be a very long time when you're the Demon Queen of Limbo.

Then there's a hand on her shoulder. Piotr touched her shoulder, not so very long ago. Scott doesn't get the same reaction. Illyana's head turns, very deliberately, to focus those cold blue eyes on Scott's hand. They stay there for long enough to make her point, and then she returns her gaze to Scott's visor. Oddly, for all her obvious dislike of being touched, she doesn't flinch away when Scott leans in closer to speak in her ear. "You'd better not." She whispers back, conspiratorially, and… is that an edge of almost anticipation in her voice? "And you'd better not miss. I have a hellish temper on my bad days."

Illyana's smiling when Scott steps back. Not enemies? Perhaps not. But Scott, too, is something different to her now than he was before. A fellow predator, perhaps. Something dangerous to be respected.

A part of Illyana prefers it that way.

"If you're paying I'll make sure EVERYONE knows." Illyana says the words because they're expected, and because she's used to playing a part. Hers hasn't changed. Scott's has just gotten more complicated.

And more dangerous.

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