Demon Bear: Beared Souls

December 14, 2017:

Dani Moonstar, free of the Demon Bear, returns to the Xavier Institute. Scott wants proof, but his only expert on demonic possession is Illyana. And he doesn't exactly trust her…

The Xavier Institute


NPCs: S'ym

Mentions: Jessica Jones, Elizabeth Braddock, Rachel Summers, Jean Grey

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It's cold at a good 30 degrees out the sun is up and it managed to snow lightly. Not enough for anyon to enjoy it unless they like the visuals of a thin frosting. It's enough to harden the grounds around the school and cover most things in some icing. Scott has already discovered this upon waking for his morning jog, hitting a patch of gloss and coasting four feet before landing on his back.

He laid there a while, probably about a minute or so by his mental count before climbing to his feet and seeking out his phone, thumbing it open to check new calls once again, nothing for once. Not even a text from Jean or the Professor. His last call from the P.I. Jessica Jones informing him that her team had saved Dani Moonstar.

Something he intended to confirm after the jog but having just *busted his ass* he is limping a short distance to rest against the side of his parked silver Mazda in front of the mansion. Despite his slow texting speeds he manages to get the two important messages out. The first to Illyana the second to Dani.

A lot of faith being put in Miss Jones right now and Magik herself despite his message to her including: "Be prepd 2 drop Dani in OCN" - shorthanded lazy text can be due to cold fingers.

Illyana, as might have been mentioned previously, is known to be lazy about checking her messages. Responses after often late or entirely absent. It's perhaps noteworthy that Scott's phone buzzes with her response almost as soon as he's hit send on his own message. Illyana's clearly a speed-texter, despite her apparent lack of practice.

The reply is just one word: Understood.

It's only a couple of seconds after her message arrives that Illyana herself puts in an appearance, stepping out of a glowing disc of silver-white light that vanishes as soon as she's passed through. Her breath steams in the cold air, and just for a moment the rest of her does, too. Wherever she's just been, it was a LOT hotter than where she is now.

Ice-blue eyes track to where Scott's using the car to keep himself what she'll charitably describe as upright. "Remind me again how much experience your PI friend has with soul-possessions?" Illyana asks.

Just because she comes when called now doesn't mean everything's changed.

The text doesn't come as a surprise. It's something she's expected. Especially after Dani learned Jessica Jones called to inform Scott of her rescue.
That doesn't mean she ran home immediately, however. In fact, she didn't. She stayed away, even though she likely shouldn't have, but now - now the woman must return home.

Her arrival comes from the sky above as Brightwind carries his rider home. When they land, with a dull thud, the two make certain to be several feet away from both Scott and Illyana. Both rider and winged horse look worn. Gaunt. The bones of Brightwind showing more through his pristine white coat.

She sits ramrod straight, her dress the black costume she wore when she originally left. A quiver sits upon her back, arrows held within it, and instead of the bear cloak the woman now wears the feathered headdress. When she turns her gaze to the two her expression can be found to be completely closed off. Only her eyes are a glimpse into what she's feeling and right now, looking at both Scott and Illyana, all that can be found is guilt.

Then she looks away as she dismounts, slipping from Brightwind's back and back to the ground. She stands there a second, hand upon the horse's side, before she steps away and takes several paces toward the two. Again, when she stops it's with some distance between the three, about a foot away from both. "Scott. Illyana."

Scott lifts his chin peeling shaded eyes from the cellphones screen to acknowledge Illyana's arrival. "I honestly have no idea. Successful was what I focused on and hopefully she was if not? I suppose we're going to deal with that." The team that is inside and mostly asleep will enjoy that wake up call should it go that route. Everyone loves SURPRISE! BEAR ON UR FACE moments in life. They sure did last time.

With the entrance of Brightwind and Moonstar Scott's posture entirely shifts and he is standing upright, tall again not bent and sore from just losing against gravity and mother nature with a stubborn tilt of chin and a focused stare beyond those ruby filters.

"Dani." Scott will say quietly. "Good to see you." He is lying. It has not been good to see her lately and his tone is hollow. "You'll have to understand if I prefer you keep your distance for now." Imaginary line drawn where she is at in relation to them.

As if to make himself a bigger wall the X-Man folds his arms across his chest, knuckles tucked in to his biceps. Typical 'Leader Cyclops' stance. They have seen it many times. He is definitely consistent.

Illyana nods at Scott's explanation, as if it's no more than she expected, and then her eyes narrow slightly, the look of someone listening to something right on the edge of hearing. Her head turns, her eyes lifting to the sky to zero in on the descending Brightwind.

"Just so we're clear." She asks, not taking her eyes from the winged horse to look at Scott as she says it. "If 'dealing with that' means pulling you out of a shadow realm again, do you want me to send someone else?"

Illyana's eyes track Brightwind - and Dani - all the way to the ground. She doesn't make any attempt to be circumspect, she's watching Dani, measuring her with her eyes and her other senses. "She's got something." She says, quietly, while Dani dismounts. "In her quiver. Something that's not just an arrow. It's not from the bear." That's all she has time for before Dani greets them.

Illyana takes in Dani's frozen expression, tilting her head to one side slightly as she looks into the other woman's eyes. Illyana's an expert at hiding what she's feeling, and she lets a slight smile twitch her lips to show that Dani's not hiding as much as she thinks she is from the blonde. "Hi." Illyana offers, her tone as light as Scott's is stern. "I hope you're you this time, so I can tell you how much trouble you're in." Illyana's tone remains light, her eyes remain watchful.

An ironic tilt of her head at Scott's request for her to keep her distance. "Yeah, it's why I stopped here."

Brightwind, for all his careworn look, keeps a focused stare upon the small group. Like his rider he also doesn't move any closer.

That familiar pose of Scott's earns a vague twitch of her mouth, but before it can even begin to form into something charitably called a smile Illyana speaks. That brings Dani's brown-eyed gaze straight to the blonde. Opposites in so many ways, but still good friends and Danielle Moonstar remembers all the steps she took against Illyana. Scott too. Everyone really.

It's what causes that flicker of guilt to momentarily scurry across her face before she once more has the majority of her expression under control. "I am. Me I mean." She states, her voice strong to her own ears, even though she can't quite say she feels that same level of composure. While she could meet both Scott and Illyana's eyes, Dani doesn't necessarily do that. Instead the woman focuses at a point over both their shoulders, "But, if I were in your shoes I wouldn't take my word for it. All three of us know I lied while under the Bear's control. So."

"No. I've seen your face without make up now and like to think we have established ground rules." Scott replies to Illyana in flat delivery.

"What is it? Can you tell?"

Nothing else on that he'll let Magik do her thing and update him as Dani squares off, "Good and you're correct. We are not taking your word for it. Jessica Jones says you're free and we're going to confirm that before we proceed. The talking part continues after that." A step that turns him enough hes facing the Russian sorceress, angled so hes facing her. "Illyana? If you would."

Scott can only imagine what Dani has or has yet to do in regards to SHIELD. Perhaps they should have also had Agent Lewis here but the woman is quite busy. So much so they haven't had an AAR about Genosha yet. Maybe she really didn't want to tackle that chaos mountain until shes good and ready.

Illyana's more curious about what Dani's carrying than she's letting on, and there is a little more she could tell Scott - but then Dani would know know what they know, and if the bear is still pulling her strings, that's an advantage Illyana doesn't want to give up so easily. So she just makes a small movement of her hand to show she heard the question but isn't going to answer. Scott will just have to trust her.

Not that that's ironic in any way.

Illyana lets Scott put the hard word on Dani, more darkly amused to hear it directed at her friend than honestly sympathetic. That'll come later, if Dani checks out. "Sure. I was getting cold out here anyway." Illyana answers when Scott turns proceedings over to her. She certainly should be, in a tank top and shredded jeans, but she hasn't given any sign of it so far. She smiles at Dani. "Tell Brightwind you're going on a little trip, Dani."

Illyana gives her long enough to do that - none of this is the horse's fault, after all - and then stretches her arms out to either side. The world is swallowed in a circle of light.

Heat is possibly the most obvious change after the transition. It's much, much hotter where they are now. The stepping disc deposits them in a large cavern, roughly hewn out of the bedrock of Limbo. There's a large stone slab in the centre, and around the walls are statues of various grotesque demons. The whole thing is lit by flaming braziers. Anyone who knows Illyana will know that even for Limbo, this isn't her chosen decor. This is something else.

Illyana doesn't look around the cavern, she's still watching Dani, for any effects of the transfer. She seems about to speak, then hesitates. Just a fraction, but it's there. "Do you trust me?" She asks.

Scott speaks again and it draws Dani's gaze back to him. Her gaze is continues to be slightly off center and when he finishes, she doesn't have much to say.
She only nods in understanding.

Then it's back to Illyana and when she gives the directive to advise Brightwind of their upcoming traveling, the black-haired mutant does so. She stands there for a second, eyes unfocused, before they re-focus back upon Illyana. "He's aware."

And just like the world changes.

If they were expecting an explosive change in her demeanor with this transition there's going to be some disappointment. The only reaction that might be perceived is surprise, then wariness and finally a dash of curiousness. Dani has been through Limbo enough times to know this isn't Illyana's typical spot and so it sparks that unease within her.

When Illyana speaks again Dani turns a look towards the blonde demoness. Hearing that question of hers brings a spasm of something across the Cheyenne's features, but resolutely she states, "I do."

And while it's not quite said the return of 'do you' hangs silently before Dani.

Illyana's half expecting Scott to want to take over the driving again once they're in Limbo. Maybe he's just giving her enough rope to hang herself. Perhaps herself and Dani both. For the moment she doesn't much care about his motives. She's waiting for Dani to answer her question, holding the other woman's gaze, and this time Illyana's eyes aren't quite the unreadable chips of blue ice they were a few moments ago.

This time, the answer clearly matters to her.

Those blue eyes take in Dani's reaction, and after a second's pause Illyana nods, satisfied. "OK." She says. Not thank you. But something like it does flicker in her eyes, just for a moment. "Then take a seat." She gestures toward the stone slab in the centre of the cavern, but doesn't move towards it herself. She seems determined that Dani acts only of her own will.

Silence. It lays heavily upon Danielle Moonstar. It keeps her tongue still even after Illyana tells her to take a seat.

Upon the stone slab.

While she doesn't say anything to that, Dani does look over to that raised stone surface. There's the brief consideration of just what might, or is about to happen, but in the end that pause only lasts a few heartbeats. It has to be done. To show she's truly who she says she is.

"Alright." She states finally, her voice low. "Lets get this over with." And carefully now the quiver strapped to her back is pulled off. She places it upon the floor with great care and then her headdress follows suit. Once those two very fragile items are safely away, Dani strides towards the slab.

It only takes a moment for her to pull herself up onto it and lay down.

"Ready when you are, Yana."

Scott's not exactly keen on Limbo but can recognize it's value to the team. When he calls Illyana an asset its an understatement. Shes definitely of use to the X-Men in many ways this being one of them. The N'Garai would probably over run Westchester County if not for her wards…

The cavern gets a curious look and even a run of fingers over one wall until he hears 'Get on the Slab' and his head is forced to turn and look at Illyana and Dani, the lift of both brows from beyond his shades says enough.

Trust. Thats the big lesson of the week right? He cannot help but feel some apprehension in this though and watches intently. If Illyana decides to go Indiana Jones style / Kali Ma/ on Dani does that mean she is still posssessed and taking the steps Scott has been preparing himself for or… is the 'demonic side' just hungry….

Illyana waits patiently while Dani removes her headdress and quiver, and only starts to follow her once she's taken two steps toward the stone slab. However, when Illyana steps over an invisible line in the floor, flame flares up from it, rapidly spreading to first encircle the slab, then branching off in lines until it's at the centre of a pentagram of fire.

Black-red fire, writhing and angry. Not Illyana's signature silver flame.

While Dani and Illyana approach the slab, another point of flame appears, in the shadow of one of the demonic statues. It belongs to the end of a thick cigar, which itself belongs to the huge purple demon that separates from the shadow and swaggers over to where Scott stands. "Boss babe doesn't come down here much." The demon tells him in a deep voice. It grins down at Scott and takes another drag on its cigar. "And never with friends. Don't know what that makes you." The demon shrugs. "S'ym doesn't care. S'ym preferred the leather redhead with the legs, anyway." And with that, the big purple demon turns toward the slab and watches.

Inside the pentagram, Illyana stands over Dani, her voice pitched low so that it won't carry. "I'd tell you I was sorry about this, but you wouldn't believe me." Her tone turns slightly bitter. "But it's better this way. At least you'll be trusted, again." She stiffens, and looks over her shoulder as she feels S'ym's eyes on her. She shoots him a warning glance, then turns her back on him resolutely.

Extending a hand, Illyana starts to speak, the words discordant and ugly. Beneath her hand, Dani's physical body remains untouched. And then, something rises from it. An image of Dani, perfect in every detail, detaches itself from her body and lifts into the air. Illyana studies it, the fire dancing strangely in her eyes, then closes her fingers, the image collapsing into an orb of energy in her hand. She looks over her shoulder at Scott, her blonde hair lifting in an unfelt breeze.

There are likely many things going through Dani's head right now. Questions. Worries. Fear too, but when that bitterness is heard, that pulls the Cheyenne out of her head.

"Hey." She states, voice equally quiet, gentle, "Don't put words in my mouth I never said, Yana. I know the real you. You're family."

Well, perhaps in some ways, but even Dani knows no one really knows the whole Illyana. Still, those words are said and the truth of it can be seen in her eyes.

Whatever else might have been said is cut off as S'ym makes his presence known. That's enough to cause the black-haired woman to try and cant her head to look toward Scott and S'ym. That look doesn't last long, however, not when Illyana begins to speak.

Those words. Discordant, dark, bleak. It almost takes her back to the Demon Bear. There's similarities between the way their magics feel and spoken.
Still, they're here to make sure Dani is who she says she is, so -

The image that rises upward of Dani is perfect as can be, yes. It sings with the light but scattered throughout that brightness is darkness. Footprints, if you will, pawprints, a left over darkness that clings to her sense of self. Damage wrought by her possession, though it doesn't necessarily speak of still being possessed.

Only the touch left over.

Scott's a rather focused individual and not often easy to break out of his posture but with the arrival of the demon S'ym he jerks to his left and a hand raises up to the side of his head, a red flare of light begins to illuminate behind them. Words of 'Boss Babe' sink in and it starts to ebb down, flare off and composure returns. One of the young woman's demonic servants…

"Mutual." Scott responds gruffly. No need to inform or engage with a 'demon' about who, what and why. His attention refocuses to the exchange of Dani and Illyana with that always critical and unseen gaze. Silence in times like these is necessary.

Though his mind redoubles back to 'redhead with the legs in leather'. Scott's scowl is suddenly very evident and his lips are tweaked just a little to the side, he might be clenching his teeth behind them. Theres an irritation in there that one can only prescribe to a father feeling defensive of his daughter. If that is who the creature is talking about. Focus… this could be a game after all, testing him, attempting to make him lose sight of something between the two… Temper is never something to lose when out of one's element.

Illyana keeps looking at Scott for a long moment, her head tilting to one side as if she's expecting questions, or perhaps waiting for instructions. When they don't come, she nods and then raises the glowing orb that represents a significant chunk of Dani's soul before her eyes, looking into it intently.

She can see the injuries that have been done to it. She can feel the pain and exhaustion that Dani's still suffering. She can sense the marks the bear has left on her friend. And something else. Something tenuous, but there. She stands frozen for several seconds, looking deep into the glowing orb, and then her eyes flick up to Scott once more. "The bear has no hold on her soul any longer." She makes it an oddly formal declaration. "And I renounce all claim to it." It might be obvious what she's just done. S'ym knows. S'ym's seen it done before.

To Illyana. By Belasco.

Swiftly, Illyana turns back to face Dani's body, extending the soul-orb above it. Magic flares, silver-white this time, and the glow of the orb strengthen, the black marks upon it seeming to vanish. "Best I can do, Dani." Illyana murmurs, and opens her hand.

The orb floats gently down to land on Dani's chest, light as a feather, and sinks into her form.

The flaming pentagram around the slab flares once, the fires reaching high, and then is snuffed out. "Welcome back." Illyana says, with a crooked smile.

From next to Scott, there's a disgusted snort. S'ym's shoulders shrug so heavily that Scott can almost feel it. "One day you'll stop playing, boss babe." The demon rumbles, disappointed but still oddly… fond. "S'ym can wait." A chewed-up cigar lands at Scott's feet, and the massive demon lumbers away, back into the shadows.

Knowing that orb is her soul Dani can't quite stop from watching as Illyana peers within it.

She lays there barely moving and when Illyana intones that her soul is her own, that it's okay, the Cheyenne closes her eyes.

Even though /she/ knew her soul was her's again, she couldn't quite push out the thought that perhaps this was some sort of elaborate play upon the Bear's part. Or that her soul was incredibly damaged by its time away.

Now knowing that her soul is whole - mostly - brings visible relief to Dani's features.

She opens her eyes just in time to see the orb flutter back down to her and within her chest. The hurts that were cleansed from it seem to fill in some of the hollow spots beneath her eyes, around her cheeks. It doesn't take all of it away, but enough. Enough that the woman looks better than when she first arrived.

Once the fires have died down from the pentagram upon the floor, Moonstar sits up. A look to Illyana first, "Thank you." And then to Scott, "Are we good?"

S'ym gets no response at the cigar. Scott's glare remains fixed forward.

"Good enough for now. I am not going to lie, you'll be watched and this is going to be followed up by Betsy, Rachel or Jean." No mention of Nate or the Professor. Both are technically busy elsewhere. In regards to Ray though he may have to inquire how much time she spends here if that is indeed who Illyana's pet was talking about.

"If we're done we should go back." It's hot and the longer they're here the more uncomfortable Scott gets.

"Don't thank me yet. You're still in trouble." Illyana's not even trying for mock-stern, and Dani gets an honest, genuine grin from the blonde. It's not over. It's not close to over. But having her friend back from the demon bear is a start.

At least, until Scott delivers his verdict, and Illyana's expression goes cold. "Some things have changed while you were playing bear in the woods." Illyana tells Dani tightly, although she keeps her eyes on Scott, and then addresses him directly. "Yes, we're done, and you should leave." She tells him. "Let me know when you want someone to check my work and I'll be there."

Illyana steps back - and the famously non-tactile demoness gives Dani's arm a quick squeeze, before a glowing portal returns both Dani and Scott to Earth.

Illyana looks around at the cavern with disgust. "I should have destroyed this place long ago." She says to the emptiness.

But she didn't. And she knows she won't.

Another flash of light, and she's gone, too.

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