Some Fears Shouldn't Be Faced

February 11, 2018:

At Dani's instigation, Rahne asks Illyana to join them for a night out at a club. Rahne asks for outfit advice and to face her fear of Limbo. One of these things is a worse idea than the others.

A library in the Xavier Institute, then Limbo

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Dani Moonstar

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

In a small library within the Xavier Institute that's usually used by the faculty, all is silent. Or very nearly so. At one of the the tables within the somewhat cramped room sits Illyana Rasputin. She's not exactly part of the faculty, just as she's not exactly a student any more. Its entirely possible that she shouldn't really be in the room at all but, as always, she pays little attention to such restrictions.

The book in front of her is large, out of scale with even the big, leather-bound tomes that line some of the shelves all around her, and the paper is thick and old. The book doesn't even seem to be of modern manufacture, and as for the symbols on the pages before her? They look like writing, but it's not a language spoken by anyone else presently under the mansion's roof. There's the quiet sound of a heavy page, made brittle with age, being turned over, and dust motes drift in the light slanting in from the window.

Illyana sits with her head propped up on one hand, a conventional spiral-bound notebook on the table beside the tome, and her pen scratches quietly against the ruled paper as she takes the occasional note. She didn't study this diligently when she really was a student at this institute.


It remains quiet, even as someone else enters, though it /is/ quiet enough that the sound of a few steps might just register, and the shifting of the material worn by whoever it is.

"Och, /noo/ ye decide it's time tae study, Illyana?" comes a question once Wolfsbane's spotted the sorceress and her big book of whatever-it-is, the aged pages easy for her to sniff out amid the other scents in here, most of them old as well.

There's a somewhat awkward smile that passes over the wolfen woman's expression, a sign that she was probably attempting a joke.


Illyana doesn't look up from her page as the newcomer enters, but a faint smile does curve her lips just slightly. She might not have the impressive senses of some of the other inhabitants of the mansion, but she's never been easy to sneak up on. She deliberately takes another note, deciding to give whoever's ventured into the library that long to break the silence before she does it for them… and then she looks up, a quickly hidden look of surprise flashing across her her face when it's a familiar, not to mention broad, Scottish accent that finally breaks the silence. She takes in Rahne's attempt at a smile and then allows a rueful one of her own to come through.

"Not my style, I know." Illyana replies, flipping her notebook closed and stretching her arms above her head, then tilting her head to one side and then the other to work out the kinks from being in one place for too long, her blonde hair swaying but somehow still falling just so, despite her contortions. "I thought I was done with all this…" She nods at the book. "But it turns out Doctor Strange expects me to do homework. It's an outrage, right?" Illyana drops her arms back down, folding her arms on the table in front of her, blue eyes fixed on Rahne. "Please tell me there's an emergency. Anything to rescue me from this." The words are delivered in a hopeful tone, but it's pretty clear that she, too, is attempting a joke.


Wolfsbane goes back to a somewhat more stoic demeanor as she stands a few feet away from Illyana and the table, arms lightly crossing before her. The surprise is noted, for she's staring right at the blonde, then she peers in the direction of the book the woman has open, the notes being taken. "Isn't he a sorcerer?" she asks, voice measured, slightly clipped.

As the question of an emergency is raised, she opens her mouth then shuts it a second later, on the verge of saying something only to decide against it for now. She could probably mention something that would give Illyana an excuse to let this go, but she voices the last bit of what she's thinking. "I should really let ye study. It's no' tha' important."


If anything, Illyana's smile seems to become a little more pronounced when Rahne so carefully voices her question. "He is." Just like me, Illyana doesn't need to add. "We compare notes now and then." Illyana's still convinced that sounds better than 'I'm his apprentice'. She flashes a quick grin. "He's less into horns and demons." Illyana adds, so studiously casual that she must be teasing. "He's more tea and serenity. You might even like him." Illyana decides to relent, and lets her tone turn a little more serious. "He helped Dani recently." If that doesn't buy Stephen a few points with Rahne, Illyana reasons, nothing will.

Illyana, of course, doesn't miss that Rahne was about to say something, and her eyes seem to sharpen with curiosity. With an unnecessary flourish, she flips the book she was studying closed with an air of finality. She still seems so damnably amused, too. "Rahne. You never come looking for me. What's up?"


Wolfsbane has the courtesy to stay quiet while Illyana says what she chooses to about Doctor Strange. While it does give her more of a chance to collect some of her thoughts, a few subtle shifts in her expression tell what she's probably thinking of inside, particularly when it's noted he's not a horn/demon type (relief?), the idea she might like him (skepticism?), and that he helped Dani (surprise?).

"If he did tha'..well, it's a good thing, aye? I know some..magic..can be used for good," she says, words that engage in a minor battle with past experiences and teachings. The sound of the book closing gets her to blink and jump slightly. Might be her focus was drifting somewhere else, but the book brings it back. "Hm? I..never said I was looking for ye specifically," she retorts, as if she's trying to avoid giving Illyana the pleasure of knowing that. "But like I said, it's no' tha' important. I was just talking tae Dani recently, an' she mentioned something about a..a club. She sort o' talked me intae going." (awkwardness?)


Illyana was watching Rahne's expression while she spoke, and swiftly discovers that Rahne hasn't changed that much while she's been away, outward appearances to the contrary. But then, neither has Illyana. She doesn't feel at all guilty for using Stephen as a proxy to judge whether Rahne's opinion of her has shifted at all. It seems it hasn't, much. Illyana could push the point, but she doesn't. After their first meeting since Rahne's return, maybe Illyana doesn't want to chase her out again.

A smirk sneaks onto the sorceress' face at Rahne's spirited denial, and Illyana looks left, then right, and then shrugs. There's no-one there but her, after all. The smirk's replaced by the second look of surprise Rahne's caused when she finally admits why she's there. Illyana's brows rise, and then with a wave of her hand and a flash of light, both book and notebook vanish. Their spot on the empty table is claimed by Illyana, who perches on the edge after getting up from her chair, drawing one knee up and interlacing her fingers around it. "A club?" She says, a gleam in her eye and a smile on her lips - and then those eyes narrow with a touch of suspicion. "Wait, we are talking about a nightclub, right?"


It's not that Rahne dislikes Illyana. There's just a lingering trust thing that is still going to take a bit of work to improve upon. Just her going around in what she wears is proof enough she's been growing up, as she rarely let anyone see much skin in the past when she wasn't in a wolfen form. Now, she's done the bare arms thing even when looking normal, human.

"I heard someone scribbling doon things in here. I didna know it was ye," she explains, picking up on some skepticism along with the glances side to side. Eyes shift to the tabletop for a moment as the reading materials go away, Illyana showing off in the process, and her hands shift to settle at her hips. "Are there any other kinds o' clubs?" she questions. "She told me I dinna have anything tae fear."


The blonde head dips once in a nod when Rahne insists she wasn't looking for Illyana, conceding the point - or at least silently agreeing not to argue it further - without really giving the impression she believes a word of it. Illyana's own position doesn't shift when Rahne's hands go to her hips, she remains a relaxed and comfortable counterpoint to Rahne's defensive stance.

"Book clubs, chess clubs, bridge clubs… bible study clubs…" Illyana can't quite resist adding the last one. She's teasing Rahne, but she doesn't mean it maliciously - although her intentions rarely seem to matter. "And some other kinds." Illyana shrugs, then shakes her head. "But come on, Rahne, Dani's not going to take you anywhere you can't handle going. You know that. You don't have anything to worry about."


Wolfsbane maintains a few feet of separation, mainly since she's normally tried not to be one who encroaches on personal space all that much. Got to give people room to breathe. As a few different types of clubs are rattled off, understanding registers. "Oh..right. When I was a wee slip o' a girl, I was never allowed tae do any o' those." Not even bible study? And there /is/ a faintly amused sniff as that one is brought up. The teasing is taken well enough, at least.

Then a little curiosity pops up. "Whit other kinds?" she wonders, whether Illyana gives her an answer to that or not. A nod or two follows and she says, "I know tha', Illyana, an' she said she'd be watching muh back, but I dinna have anything I think would be good there. I'm no' even sure whit I should wear. She mentioned ye could come as well."


Illyana's eyes aren't the warmest at the best of times, but they turn particularly wintry when Rahne alludes to her upbringing. It's only there for a moment, and gone as soon as Illyana blinks, but for a moment she wasn't thinking of Rahne's past but her own. Rahne's innocent question provokes a quiet snort from Illyana. "You don't want to know." The words are spoken dismissively, and she almost adds 'trust me'. A little dark amusement flickers in her eyes as she discards that addition.

The gleam from before is back in Illyana's eye as Rahne continues. She seems about to speak, but then Rahne's final words make her stifle a laugh. "Dani says I can come? That's nice." A slow grin spreads across Illyana's lips. "What do you say?"


Wolfsbane doesn't want to know? Her head angles toward one side at that reaction, and as she rubs at a pointed ear she decides to nod and let it go for now. Maybe it's not the right time to wonder why Illyana would say that, but she could have her suspicions based on what she does know. "If ye say so," she remarks. She's peering at the sorceress a little more closely than before, though. Chances are she's trying to make sense of the subtle shifts in Illyana's own demeanor.

"I think she was looking a' it more like both o' ye going, an' she wanted me tae come along. Do ye think it's a good idea?" Is that Rahne, opening the door for advice from Illyana? Seems to be. "I mean, I like this, but I'm no' sure it's th' right kind o' thing for a club." She gestures to herself, and that could mean her, the outfit/costume, or both.


Oh, Illyana very much says so, despite the inquisitive look that Rahne is now directing her way. She's also far more interested in the answer to her own question. Unlacing her fingers from around her knee, she drops her foot to the floor and braces her hands on the edge of the table, her fingers gently tapping against the underside as she waits to see whether Rahne will be polite, or honest, or possibly both.

She has to give Rahne points for diplomacy in the answer she comes up with. "First I've heard of it." Illyana remarks with another shrug. "But then she knows I wouldn't say no." Illyana tilts her head to one side, as if she's actively considering Rahne's question. "What was it you said to me?" She asks after a second or two's thought. "Everyone's telling you to grow up, and you're trying to?" Illyana lets that hang, and then grins. This time it seems honest, that there's nothing else hiding behind the expression. "Screw what everyone else is telling you to do, but yes, it's a good idea. Go and see for yourself."

The moment of apparent honesty from Illyana passes, and the impish light is quickly back in her eyes. "Rahne. It's a great outfit, but you can't wear it everywhere. If you want some ideas… remember that you asked me." Illyana smirks. "So do you want to go shopping, or…?"


Wolfsbane seems to be judging just how well she can trust Illyana with all of this. She knows the other woman has tried to help her break out of her shells (for there's more than one with her) at one time or another, usually without much success. But, since her last period of time spent back home, this Rahne has a thing or two about her that's different. A new perspective on life, still clashing with old beliefs instilled so deeply in her.

"Nae, /I'm/ trying tae grow up as well. I'm old enough tae do whit I want an' no' worry about it." A reflecting pause, then she admits, "It's just a matter o' handling it. I know it's no' always gaunae be easy." So, with a shrug, she says, "I'll try th' club. An' I know. This is sort o' like a costume for me as well, but I could use some new things. We could go somewhere, aye."

What she says next might just surprise Illyana. "I was also thinking o' asking ye about visiting Limbo soon."


Illyana tilts her head to the other side and looks thoughtful when Rahne insists it's her choice to 'grow up'. She doesn't look entirely convinced, and considering how often in the past she's pushed Rahne to try new things, her reticence is perhaps surprising.

But then, Illyana didn't get a choice about growing up early, and she knows all about presenting herself as something she's not, even if the mask has slipped a little bit, recently, with one or two people.

Illyana's expression clears as soon as Rahne offers her lukewarm endorsement of the shopping trip. "Don't sound so excited." Illyana replies, dryly, pushing off the edge of the table and standing up, before hesitating and looking sharply towards Rahne, her expression suddenly guarded. She remains that way for a second or two, then continues as if nothing had interrupted her.
"All right." Illyana says with a shrug, and waves a hand. A bright point of light appears next to her, swelling quickly into a vertical portal of silver-white light. Illyana steps halfway through and then looks back over her shoulder, blonde hair lifting in an unfelt breeze while the shimmering portal casts flickering shadows across her features. "Coming?" She asks, and steps the rest of the way through.


The concept of acting one's age is a pertinent one. Someone of a legal age to drink and do various other adult things probably shouldn't be stuck with the mentality of a teenager when it comes to more mature matters, but these are special circumstances when dealing with people who have had abnormal lives and upbringings. Both Wolfsbane and Illyana fall squarely under that classification, for reasons vastly different yet more similar in some ways than might be thought.

"Ye know I've never been verra enthusiastic about most things," Rahne retorts, a hand now shifting to scratch at the back of her neck. Hackles up slightly? Something might be causing her to feel that just a bit. Sometimes she's quickly been overemotional, but she's always had a sensitive personality. Even maturing in that regard has been a work in progress. The guardedness, the momentary defensiveness she reads in Illyana has her head tilting just so.

Then, the agreement and the stepping disk. She knows of the one to Genosha downstairs, though she's never taken it. She's been to Limbo before, but right now she can't remember a time when it was more than just a moment. "Right noo?" comes the question, asked with her caught initially off-guard. Impulsive sorceress, putting the wolfen woman on the spot like that.

If it's about putting up or shutting up - and Rahne /did/ spark the idea herself - well, there's a hard swallow and she steps forward. It's taking a chance, but it's also putting some trust into the whole thing. Here goes nothing, and everything.


The experience of passing between Earth an Limbo will be an (unpleasantly?) familiar one for Rahne. A moment of transition when she stepped through the glowing portal, and then she's within Illyana's domain. Once she's through, the portal vanishes behind her.

The place she arrives is unlike the one she left in almost every way. While the library was small and lit by the clean light of the sun streaming through the window, the throne room of Illyana's citadel is a large open space, with solid flagstones underfoot and stone walls all around, the ceiling so high above that it's almost lost in darkness. Most of the illumination is provided by the torches affixed at regular intervals along the walls, which burn brightly but never seem to be consumed by their flames, while Limbo's orange-red daylight floods in from an archway at one side that leads to star-shaped balcony. At one end of the chamber is a raised, imposing stone throne, blood red drapes behind it reaching from floor to ceiling, while a raised pool filled with silvery liquid is off to one side.

The throne sits empty, Illyana having chosen to await her guest with her hands linked innocently behind her and an impish smile on her face. The innocent look isn't helped by her outfit, as her jeans now sport a multitude of horizontal slashes, and her comfortable striped sweater has been replaced with a top with a prominent skull motif. She's evidently changed for effect, because Rahne will find her own outfit still perfectly intact.

"Welcome back." Illyana greets her. "Still think this is a good idea?"


One moment: the dim, quiet library.

The next: Limbo itself.

Talk about a shift in settings. Rahne's time spent in this realm over the course of her life might not even add up to a single, solitary minute, but that's all about to change as she comes out in the citadel, feeling solid floor beneath her bare feet, no immediately visible sign of the wasteland or any other features about the landscape clear.

"Och," comes her initial response, pausing in an initial crouch to straighten up again. That alone may be a sign of some progress in her. Where she might more naturally shrink up and make herself smaller in a threatening, dangerous, frightening place, preventing herself from doing so suggests a stronger inner strength she's focusing on. Surely she's repeating a few things to herself as her lips move a few times in a silent way.

A brow slides upward at the quick change in Illyana's attire, her answer a somewhat guarded one. "O' course I dinna think this is a good idea, but I have tae do it. This place still gives me th' creeps, ye know." That should be no surprise, given her upbringing and set of beliefs. "But I said I need tae grow an' I mean it." Still, she's looking all around for any details she can spot that seem meaningful to her. A hand rubs at a forearm a few times, slowly. Keep those hackles down.


Illyana doesn't move from her comfortable parade rest, but one eyebrow does quirk upwards when she sees Rahne begin to crouch defensively, and it remains quirked until the werewolf adopts a more relaxed stance. Of course, here relaxed is a relative term, and Rahne's initial instincts may have been on the money. Illyana snickers quietly when she gets an honest answer to her question.

"No one ever has anything nice to say about my place." Illyana remarks. "I'm hurt." She is obviously not hurt, her tone is casual and even amused. "Besides, this place should give you the creeps, Rahne." Illyana unlinks her hands and spreads her arms wide for emphasis. "Hell dimension, remember? Even if I chased all the other demons out so you didn't have to deal with them, too." Illyana grins, perhaps teasing, perhaps not. She lets her arms drop to her sides, and walks over to her throne, collapsing bonelessly into it and kicking her legs over one of the stone arms, crossing her booted feet as she lounges. "You're wrong, you know. You don't have to do this." She tells the redhead, the keen look in her eyes not matching her indolent posture. "There's nothing here that you can't live without."

Her message, or possibly warning, delivered, Illyana drops her serious tone. "But being here does make some things easier. And if you still want to go 'shopping'…" Illyana grins. "Lose the fur and turn around."


As comfortable as Illyana is in the place she holds sway over, Wolfsbane is not the /complete/ opposite, but it's in the ballpark. Instincts are what they are and they've usually led her in the right direction, but this goes against her instincts in almost every way. It's a sharp contrast to what she's accustomed to.

"That's because it's.." Yes, referring to it as the hell dimension covers it, punctuated by her gesturing with a hand as if to say, 'See?' She squints at the blonde-haired woman and her choice of words, watching her go over to lounge upon her throne. That's not pretentious, nope!

"I guess I should say thanks for making sure we'd be alone, but ye're th' one who's wrong. I'll never grow as a person or deal with muh fears if I dinna confront an' face them. I know all o' this is real an' in a way it proves some o' whit I heard as a wee girl, but if I try tae hide from it an' pretend it doesnae exist, whit does tha' get me? Whit if something happens an' I /have/ tae face something here, or from here? Ye can say I dinna have tae do this, but I say I do."

That bravado, or strength, or whatever it is from her inner willpower she's focusing on slips just a little as she looks around the large room again, a pause in place as the topic shifts back to the 'shopping' idea and the directions given. "Nae fur?" Did she actually think she'd be going out to a club looking like she does now?


Illyana's feet bounce a little as Rahne argues her point, but her expression doesn't suggest she's buying Rahne's justifications. But if Rahne believes what she's saying, it hardly matters what Illyana thinks. The blonde demoness' eyes narrow a little when Rahne talks about what she heard as a wee girl.

Is she really saying what Illyana thinks she's saying? She is!

Illyana manages not to laugh, but it's a near thing. "If what you were told as a kid is true, and this is hell, then that makes me…" She raises her hands to her temples, index fingers pointing upwards in the universal sign for devil horns. Certainly the grin she's sporting is appropriately devilish. "Just a suggestion, Rahne, because we're friends: If you're planning to face something from here, it'll probably be me. You might not want to warn me in advance." Someone blonde, Russian and lounging on a throne seems to be having far too much fun with this situation.

Illyana tilts her head forward a bit so that she can shoot Rahne a level look from under her bangs. "No fur." Illyana tells her, firmly. "I don't know where Dani's planning on taking us but I'm pretty sure they'll have a strict 'no werewolves' door policy." Illyana raises a hand, index finger raised again, and gives it an imperious swirl.


Wolfsbane has various ways of justifying things to herself. If it works, so be it. Surely Illyana's done similar things with various matters.

The wolfen woman's expression grows rather flat when Illyana teases about the whole Devil thing. Oh, at times in the past Rahne has outright accused her of being just that. These days? Right now? She opens her mouth then shuts it, thinking about what to say and how to say it. "I think..it's more complicated than tha'. I do consider ye a friend." There's surely a 'but' in there just waiting to be said, and it sort of comes out while not. "I'm no' gaunae pretend tae understand things here, but I dinna think ye're a bad person. If I did, I'd no' stay around ye. I know there are other dangers here. Can ye truly control all o' them?"

When the call for no fur is repeated, she tries to suggest, "We could find a mutant-friendly one?" That doesn't necessarily mean visible differences would be welcomed all the time, but she sniffs once at the 'no werewolves' bit, an audible 'hmph!' heard before she waves it off. "Fine, fine." Turning around, fur goes away, replaced by pale skin. Interestingly enough, some sort of footwear appears as she finishes the shift.


Rahne failing to appreciate Illyana's teasing doesn't seem to reduce the Russian's enjoyment of it. If anything, the reverse is true. Schooling her features into an expression of polite, expectant interest, Illyana waits to see whether Rahne is going to keep digging. The careful way that Rahne works to extricate herself from having likened Illyana to Satan himself causes a faint smile to creep back onto Illyana's face. She even offers a quick nod of slightly ironic congratulation when Rahne mostly manages it.

"I get it. Some of your best friends are demons." Illyana says it lightly, not quite able to give up on teasing Rahne just yet, but she does decide that one question deserves a serious answer. "I rule Limbo, but my pets have minds of their own, and I can't look over their shoulders all of the time." She shrugs. "But as long as I'm in charge, here is where they're going to stay." When she doesn't need them on Earth, she doesn't add. That's something it's better not to publicise.

Illyana doesn't repeat herself again, just keeps looking at Rahne as she goes through bargaining and into acceptance. Rahne wants to face her fears, she can do it without hiding behind her fur.

When Rahne finally turns around, she'll find a large, free-standing mirror in front of her that certainly wasn't there when she arrived. The heavy bronze frame is dark with age (at least, it's probably age) and is worked into designs of beasts and demons battling - and then merging - with one another. The details seem inconstant, as if they shift between looks.

The mirror itself holds a reflection of Rahne, of course, except it's a Rahne that's dressed differently than the one looking into it. The Rahne in the mirror is wearing a dark green top that that's meshed across her shoulders and down the outside of her arms, revealing a little of the pale skin beneath. Further down, a black leather skirt fits tightly around her hips before falling to her ankles while on her feet are a pair of black leather boots, the heels perhaps no more than an inch and a half in height.

Should Rahne look into the mirror too intently, her simulacrum will smile - and then Rahne will find herself wearing the outfit from the mirror, while her doppelganger in the glass is wearing the outfit she arrived in.


Rahne begins to say something to the comment about best friends and demons, but it stops after no more than an "I—" as Rahne just shakes her head and decides to wait on that until another time. She doesn't always recognize when she's being teased, but she's got a fairly good idea right now. Instead, the focus is on what's happening next, even as Illyana confirms one of her suspicions as far as her 'pets' go. Yes, she noticed the way they're referred to.

Primarily, Rahne's attention is on the mirror she's pretty sure wasn't there before, as she walked right past its location and there was no sign of it whatsoever. It's magic, and it probably makes her feel a little weirded out inside as she catches sight of the details along the frame. What could that all mean?

It becomes secondary to the reflection she sees of herself, and as her head tilts toward one side in curiosity her reflection does the same. But why is she dressed in another way? "Odd.." she murmurs mostly to herself, a hand beginning to lift as if she may touch the mirror, only to pause. Sure enough, she's focusing sharply on what she sees, staring at the skirt above all else, noting the way it appears on 'her.' The top covers while also managing not to, but it certainly doesn't look inappropriate or scandalous. Boots disappear inside the skirt, making it hard to tell how far up the legs they go.

Then comes the smile she sees herself make, and whether she feels anything particular or not, there is a switch in outfits. Now, she's in what she saw, leaving her looking at the reflection in what she'd been wearing. "Whit? How..?" she begins to say, and her eyes peel away from the mirror to look down over herself, arms a bit out to the sides before one hand presses against a hip clad in that black leather skirt. She's nothing short of amazed initially, reacting like one might expect in a situation like this, with both confusion and curiosity. If it's an illusion, it's a very real one!


"Magic." Comes the answer from the vicinity of Rahne's shoulder, the one-word answer spoken in an amused tone. The Demon Queen of Limbo has finally gotten down from her throne to watch her guest's reaction to switching outfits with her reflection.

"I mean really, what else were you expecting?" Illyana asks as she walks past Rahne to lean up against the side of the mirror. The Rahne reflected in it, which after that one independent smile has gone back to faithfully copying the real one's movements, cuts a sideways glance at Illyana that almost looks disapproving before going back to being an obedient doppelganger once more.
"You didn't jump as much as I was hoping you would." Illyana remarks, exaggerating her disappointment, then finally asks, "So what do you think?"


Of course it was magic, but it was magic Rahne apparently didn't or can't really feel. It's still an odd thing, something that nudges at a few of her thoughts as wrong, but for now she's more or less biting her tongue, figuratively if not literally.

She's also preoccupied with inspecting what it is Illyana's worked up for her, plucking exploratively at the mesh-like parts of the top that run down the arms, comparing that to the way the solid areas feel. The boots seem higher than just the ankles based on the feel beneath the skirt, the heel nothing she can't handle based on how they're designed, but the skirt itself seems the primary focus for her. She tries a few steps this way and that, finding it doesn't allow full strides like she's used to. Running in this? Probably not easy. Walking, she could get used to.

"I've never tried a skirt like this before," she thinks aloud, and there's a hint of color in her cheeks at the way it feels in a spot or two, probably the hips and thereabouts. She glances up just in time to see her reflection looking back toward her from Illyana, something which causes her head to tilt in wonder, which is then copied. "Ye were hoping I'd jump more?" she then asks, affixing a mildly suspicious look toward the sorceress, though the mock-disappointment gets a short 'Oh' afterward. "I think..it's something I'd no' have thought up on muh own. It seems a wee bit restricting?"


Illyana remains comfortably slouched up against the side of the mirror as Rahne examines the outfit in forensic detail, not offering her opinion, or even the unhelpful comments that might be expected from the sorceress. She seems to be content to wait patiently for Rahne to answer the question without any prompting from her, and in fact is critically examining her fingernails for imperfections when Rahne begins pacing. Catching the movement, Illyana looks up, eyebrows raised, but subsides when it becomes clear that Rahne hasn't finished her deliberations.

"Expecting, really. More than hoping." Illyana explains, although it's probably not necessary. "A magic mirror in an evil castle? You can't really blame me." If nothing else, Illyana didn't exactly go out of her way to not make Rahne jump. Maybe the disappointment isn't as feigned as she's making out.

Illyana rolls her eyes when Rahne gives her long-delayed verdict on the outfit, but there's a wry smile on her face as she does so. "If you were looking for something you'd have thought of on your own, you wouldn't have asked me to go shopping with you." Illyana points out, although 'asked' might be a strong word for how they ended up here. Illyana's eyes flick down to the skirt that seems to be at the root of Rahne's concerns and gives a one-shoulder shrug. "It's not that bad. After all…" Illyana reminds Rahne, "You're going to need to dance. But I can fix it if you want me to."


Part of this, no doubt, is Rahne is also trying not to give Illyana the satisfaction of seeing her react - or rather, overreact - a certain way, which she's most definitely been guilty of in the past. Hide those stronger reactions! Keep them bottled up!

And yet, it's still obvious she's finding this quite interesting. She isn't /that/ good at masking her emotions, after all. Her expression switches from curious to dubious, thoughtful to apprehensive, a fairly sizable range of things going through her head that are reflected in her body language. The magical side is perhaps not even the biggest standout to her. It's more the look itself, since she'd be wearing it in a club, around others. "Ye're th' one who said it, no' me," she remarks, pointing toward Illyana and the mirror when it and the castle are brought up. A sniffing 'hmph' follows the reminder about the purpose of the 'shopping' trip, something she has no argument to counter with. Again, she runs a hand down the outside of the skirt, and subtly she shifts just enough to enhance her sense of smell so she can take a sniff of another kind. "I think I could handle it, but do ye think it looks good on me? An' whit kind o' dancing are we talking about? Ballroom? Waltz?" She's really never been clubbing, has she?


Discovering that Rahne's more difficult to surprise than she remembered isn't necessarily a negative, as far as Illyana is concerned. It just means that the rules of the game have changed. Besides, since Rahne's managed to tone down her reactions to Limbo, magic, and Illyana's demonic nature in general it's much easier to hold a conversation with her. Illyana will take that over being able to reliably make the werewolf jump.

In any case, Illyana muses, as she watches Rahne's changing expressions, she still has a woeful poker face. And clearly, despite this being at least half her own idea, she's still uncertain whether being here and taking advice from Illyana is something she really wants to do. The grin that Illyana flashes when that accusing finger is leveled at her is unrepentant. "Just reminding you." She replies, in a cheerful tone. Illyana's not about to have it said that she tricked Rahne into any of this!

Illyana's grin widens just slightly as she catches the significant sniff. Having X-23 visit has taught her to spot such things, but she otherwise lets it pass without comment this time. As for what Rahne smells? Well, the outfit she's wearing has been counjored from the raw stuff of Limbo by Illyana's magic, and is doing a good job of imitating what it appears to be. But… there are no cows in Limbo. Rahne's wearing the hide of something else entirely, despite how it looks and feels - although you'd have to have Rahne's senses to be able to tell.

As if she's been waiting for that particular moment, when she's finally asked her opinion Illyana steps away from the mirror and begins a slow, deliberate circuit around Rahne. Her measured steps hesitate at just one point, and that's when Rahne inquires about the type of dancing she's going to be required to engage in. Illyana nods in an offhand fashion, and answers in a reassuring tone, "Something like that." She pauses for a second, then gives a faint wince. "OK, even I'm not evil enough to do that to you. Not ballroom. Not waltz. Think more… freeform. Don't worry, you'll pick it up in no time." Illyana begins a mental list of things she needs to talk to Dani about, and moves breezily on. "And you look good. Of course you look good. I wouldn't drag you all this way to stick you in something I didn't think you'd look good in!" There's an almost sneaky look in Illyana's eyes as she adds, "But even better than looking good, you look interesting."


It's not that Rahne's harder to surprise. If she really tried, Illyana could surely manage that. More than anything else, Rahne's not so much overwhelmed by the moment - though it is pretty intense for her in some ways - as she's just sharply and singularly focused on figuring out what she thinks of this so far, the whole 'being in Limbo' thing and what Illyana's made up through magic. Yes, she's also trying to keep herself grounded.

With it not too hard to read her based on how she's looking and acting, it ought to give Illyana a look into what the Scot is thinking and feeling so far, and there's that sense she's processing a lot right now, if slowly, giving herself a chance to determine what she makes of the whole outfit as it exists. That whiff of Limbo Leather (trademark that, Illyana!) causes her to appear..dubious? Doubtful? Conflicted? Confused? It's sort of leather, yet sort of not, but there's much about Limbo she finds difficult to reconcile whether it's the mere existence of it or just certain smells. Her head tilts in thought, like something's at the tip of her tongue but not quite able to be voiced.

That moment passes when Illyana briefly confirms the dance styles, a brow sliding upward again before she sniffs at the wince and admission. "Oh. Well..I'll try tae follow along when we're there." A few more adventurous steps follow after she's stood there and been the center of Illyana's measured attention, giving her more of an opportunity to feel what the skirt allows and limits, and she's probably caught looking over a shoulder at herself to see how it shifts and moves with her. Then, she stops. "Whit do ye mean, I look interesting? To ye?"


Illyana doesn't hide the expectant look that arrives on her face after Rahne gives the outfit a sniff. Her eyes narrow a touch as Rahne tilts her head, waiting for the question, or possibly the accusation, and Illyana's eyebrows rise slightly when it doesn't come. It almost looks like a silent invitation to give voice to what's on her mind. When Rahne doesn't ask, Illyana doesn't prompt her, but everything is filed away.

Rahne not commenting on the provenance of her outfit isn't the only surprise she has for Illyana. The way she takes the prospect of dancing in her stride is another, probably greater one, and as Rahne begins pacing around again, getting a feel for the outfit she's been offered, Illyana realises with a bit of a jolt that Rahne's not really fighting Dani's idea of going clubbing. She's going along with it rather than finding an excuse to dig her heels in. She's definitely not quite the Rahne that Illyana remembers.

She's still pondering that when Rahne's question makes her look up with a start. "What?" She asks, as if not sure she'd heard the question, then snorts quietly and shakes her head. "Interesting. You look good, but not like everyone else who'll be there. You still look like you, but you won't look out of place. So interesting. To whoever's there that you want to be interested." Illyana's lips twitch a bit. She wonders if Rahne will take that in her stride as easily as she did dancing.

"Come on." Illyana says, abruptly, and jerks her head toward the archway that leads to the balcony. "If you're going to pace, pace this way. You might as well see that in the light." She starts walking in that direction, glancing back over her shoulder. "And you wanted to see more of Limbo, too."


There are enough signs that Rahne is aware things aren't quite normal with the things Illyana's created, but by not asking she can go with the plausible deniability angle. Just don't think about it, and it won't be something she has to deal with just yet. That doesn't mean she won't ask later. Doesn't mean she will, either. This internal debate is conveyed through a look that sees a furrowed brow followed by another tilt of the head, finishing with a sort of mental shrug and a flattening of her expression, back to something more neutral and generally serious. The enhanced sense of smell invisibly fades back to normal human limits.

Amazingly enough, yes - Rahne /is/ in fact going along with a couple different ideas here so far, mainly the club and outfit, without clear and obvious protesting going on. It's not fully accepted with a gung-ho mentality, for there are lingering reservations conveyed through her more stoic demeanor, but it's done more consciously than her usual.

"I look good," she repeats, not a question as much as an observation, something for her to consider and mull over as a concept that's still abnormal to her. "Well..thank ye for saying tha', if ye believe it. I'm..no' used tae hearing it." And there it is, an admission. A few people have complimented her on her costume change, but this is something different. "But, to whoever I want tae be interested? Like, other people?" Still naive, though. Naive, and not quite ready at the prospect of strangers finding her pleasing to look at.

Regardless of the answers to that, she slowly begins to move after Illyana toward that archway and beyond. "I guess I did, aye." You can't face fears if you stay in one spot. Steps are still measured, almost coltish in the end, as she works out the limitations of the skirt further.


Illyana turns around without stopping her easy walk out of her throne room, walking backwards for a couple of steps as she answers Rahne's question. "Of course, other people. You'll have a lot to choose from." Illyana's framed in the orange-red light streaming in from the balcony, brighter than the torchlight within the chamber. Her features are in shadow, her hair a burning gold halo. Maybe a flash of teeth as she grins. "And if you don't believe me, get a second opinion from Dani. You can tell if she's lying, right?" Illyana doesn't seem all all concerned by that prospect, and turns smartly around to walk out into Limbo's excuse for daylight.

By the time Rahne joins her, Illyana is resting her elbows on the parapet that edges the star-shaped balcony, looking out over her domain. The balcony projects from the side of the citadel, which is itself perched atop a high crag, and the drop to the land below is dizzying. That land, in the vicinity of the citadel at least, is dry, parched, and cracked, with lava visible in the depths of some of the fissures. In the distance there are mountains, and smoke rises in far off places, whether from natural fires or from demonic industry is unclear. The sky is burnt orange and cloudless, today, and vast reptilian creatures glide through the air far away.

"It's not much." Illyana says, then looks across at Rahne. "But it's mine." An odd smile touches her lips, and then Illyana scrambles up to stand on the parapet, closing her eyes and enjoying the breath of wind on her face, for all it brings the scent of brimstone with it.


"Whit if I'm no' wanting tae..choose from anybody?" Rahne questions, bringing up the idea that getting her to a club might not be the same as getting her to hang out with anyone, per se. "An' I can tell when most people are lying, usually." It helps to have senses that give away what someone's probably feeling or thinking, which is not helping her at the moment given the wolfen side is tucked away.

She squints in the direction of the light that brings to mind fires or things of that nature, but she makes her way closer. By the time she reaches the balcony, her steps are coming more naturally in the skirt and boots, a few moments still taken to fiddle with the mesh-like material on the outer parts of the green top. It's a good distraction to keep her from focusing too much on the rest, but there's only so long she can go without getting a better look at Limbo as it's laid out below the citadel. She pales somewhat more than she already is, if that's even possible, as she picks out a few particular things in the distance, not the least of which are the things flying off in the distance.

Here, her arms cross and she looks like she's reconsidering the whole 'See Limbo, face your fears' thing as a silent swallow passes. Even without those heightened senses, what she's getting so far is easy enough to identify as different. It has a certain look, a particular feel, a distinct smell, and she says, "Whitever it is, 'no' much' is no' how I'd describe it a' all. Ye should come doon from there before ye fall." She's not quite /rigid/ here, but her body language is notably more tense. Face your fears. Subtly, the beginnings of some fur shows along her cheeks and ears, fingernails sharpening.


"Then you tell them all to go away." Illyana answers the question as if it's the most obvious thing in the world. "But it's nice to have options, sometimes."

Facing away from Rahne, Illyana allows herself to smile at the other woman's non-description of Limbo. She'd called it 'not much' in a deprecating tone, and while she knows that Rahne doesn't mean her words to compliment Limbo, Illyana's still going to take it as such. She's odd that way.

Something that sounds suspiciously like a stifled laugh answers Rahne's suggestion, and Illyana opens her eyes, half-turning and looking down at Rahne, noting as she does the return of her more wolfen aspect. "Wouldn't that be a mundane way to go?" She asks, beginning to walk along the top of the parapet, one heavy-booted foot in front of the other, her steps sure and her balance perfect. "Not on a mission with the X-Men, not fighting a horror from some dungeon dimension, just falling off my own castle." Illyana reaches the end of one of the points of the star, and turns smartly to walk closer again, her back to Limbo now. She wrinkles her nose as if she's seriously considering the idea, then discards it. "Never happen." She says, coming to a halt when the parapet reaches its closest approach to the castle's outer wall. She waits there for an extra moment or two, looking down at Rahne, considering her closed down posture. So far she's seen a stone chamber and a mostly harmless mirror. Limbo in the raw, even from a distance, seems to be proving harder to swallow.

Illyana should leave Rahne alone. But she asked to come here, into Illyana's home, her private domain. Insisted she wanted to face her fears, and she hasn't even begun to see what Limbo can offer on that score. All of that, and the darkness in Illyana's soul conspire to make a different choice. "You should come up here." Illyana says it casually, but there's a glint of challenge in her eyes. "The view's much better, and I won't let you fall." She tilts her head to one side as she adds that last, making it a question.


Rahne is silent for a few moments at the proposed solution to dealing with people at a club. "Oh. Well, I guess tha' would work, probably," she muses, as if the thought hadn't even crossed her mind before Illyana brought it up. "Aye, I suppose tha' would work." On most people, anyhow.

As Illyana continues to walk along the parapet, Rahne tamps down the urge to visibly fret over it. "Aye, tha' would be a horrible way tae go, I agree. So ye should be more careful just in case ye misstep an' I end up stuck here." She says this a bit too quickly, and while she does move forward it isn't to join her up there. It's to reach out for one of her hands toward the purpose of bringing her back to a safer spot on the balcony. "I can see everything just fine from here. Noo come doon from there."


"Not enjoying Limbo as much as you'd expected?" Illyana asks, far too innocently, when Rahne admits the reason for her sudden concern for Illyana's safety. She keeps her eyes on her, holding her gaze, until Rahne makes her decision. There's perhaps a quickly-hidden flicker of surprise when Rahne moves forward, but when she declines Illyana's challenge the expression is replaced by a knowing look.

With a grin that seems more than slightly satisfied, Illyana ignores Rahne's offered hand and jumps down from the parapet, boots thumping to the solid stone of the balcony. "Suit yourself." She offers, again with that air of unconcern, and glances sideways at Rahne. "I think you've probably seen enough for one visit, anyway." She might have been doing her best to hide it, but Illyana's not blind to Rahne's disquiet. "I'd better get you back before Dani starts wondering what I've done with you." Illyana throws back over her shoulder as she walks back inside, pausing by the mirror to wait for Rahne to join her. "Sure you don't want me to do something with that skirt?" She asks. The werewolf might be moving better in the outfit now, but it hadn't been Illyana's intention to make her uncomfortable. Well, mostly. And Rahne backing down from Illyana's little challenge hasn't changed that.


Rahne frowns. "Ye know I'm no' verra comfortable here, but I'm trying. I'm just..it's no' something I can get used tae in one try." It's a process, clearly, but one she hasn't simply said no to working on further. "But if we're going tae be better friends an' all tha'.." She waves a hand in a gesture as if she's trying and failing to find the proper words to describe what she's trying to say. "..ye know?"

Certainly, this will probably need return visits and more time and effort for her to get more comfortable, if that's even going to happen, and after another good look out at Limbo as she can see it, she starts back toward the interior of the citadel. The mention of Dani earns a sniff, a mildly amused one if anything. "I'm sure she's fine. She's got a lot she's going through, anyway. But I am a wee bit hungry." It does look like she's doing better in the outfit, just about to the point she can walk in a passably normal way, so that's progress. "Hmm? With th' skirt? Like whit?" She glances back down at it, but something more could always take place another time.


Illyana shakes her head, but not because she doesn't understand what Rahne's getting at. She understands all too well, and it's no less exasperating now than before. "Rahne… if you want to be my friend…" That's a slightly odd concept in its own right, considering their history, and how few people Illyana would actually class as friends, if she wasn't being polite. "You don't have to like Limbo." Illyana smirks. "Let's face it, there's a lot not to like. This place is my responsibility, and it's part of me, but I don't need - or want - it to be part of my friends, too."

Cat, Belcasco's pet Nightcrawler, even Storm. Not to mention the corpses of Logan and Piotr in the catacombs beneath them. All of them became part of Limbo, and all of them suffered and died because of it.

Illyana's eyes had gone far away for a second or two, and she seemed to miss the comment about Dani, but they focus again when Rahne looks down at the offending garment, and Illyana's demeanor changes as if someone's flicked a switch. From serious, almost somber to… devilish.

"Like this." Illyana says, casually, and opens her left hand. Her Soulsword is suddenly in her grasp, shining silver, and gleaming silver armour covers her left arm and shoulder. Without warning, she slices the blade through Rahne's legs. Flesh, blood and bone are unharmed by the sword's passage, but the skirt? Brought into existence by the magic of Limbo? It now ends at mid-thigh, the greater portion of it dissolving as if it was never there. "Better?" Illyana asks, resting the sword against her shoulder.


"But friends are supposed tae be able tae accept things about each other," Rahne tries to explain, which may also account for part of her efforts to deal with Limbo. She seems to believe that also means accepting Limbo. Is she mistaken? "But even if whit ye say is true, I think it'd be better for me tae be able tae handle things here, just in case."

No, she hasn't seen the corpses, has no idea about that part of this place, and it's probably a good idea she never learns about it. She waits by to see how Illyana reacts to the beliefs she just shared, then there's that look. "Whit are ye—oh!" The sword comes out and surprise shows in her face when it's swung at her without warning. Even if she's seen the Soulsword in action before, having any sort of blade coming at you tends to be the sort of thing that's going to draw a reaction, but even before she can leap out of the way or otherwise avoid it, it's painlessly cut through her, affecting only the skirt itself.

Left behind, a much shorter version that exposes some skin above the knees, also revealing the boots end somewhere around the calves. "Illyana! Warn me next time ye're going tae do something like tha'!" she blurts, though she's left now to look down at the newest change to the outfit. Strangely enough, it seems to leave her looking quite curious given her reaction and expression. "Och.." Her hands pass over the sides of it, seemingly captivated by the alteration enough that the Soulsword itself is forgotten for now.


"But where would be the fun in that?" Illyana even manages to sound genuinely curious as she asks that question, but the devilish look hasn't faded from Illyana's eyes, and the grin she's wearing is truly evil. She makes a great show of inspecting her handiwork, tilting her head this way and that, before giving a satisfied nod. Her eyes flick up again, perhaps expecting Rahne to berate her further, and then snickers quietly when she sees the redhead's attention consumed by the results of Illyana's extreme method of tailoring.

"Tell you what." Illyana says, her tone both amused and resigned. "I'll let you figure it out for yourself." The Soulsword and its accompanying armour have vanished, and Illyana reaches across to rap her knuckles against the frame of the tall mirror. A moment later, and with the same lack of transition as before, Rahne is back in the outfit she was wearing when she came to Limbo. But this time, the mirror is empty. It reflects the room, but neither of the individuals in it.

"Let me know when Dani wants to go out, Rahne. I wouldn't miss it."

A circle of light appears on the floor, surrounding Rahne, and Illyana gives her a jaunty little wave. A moment later, Rahne is back in the library - with a neatly folded stack of clothes on the table beside her. What isn't present is Illyana.

Back in Limbo, Illyana banishes the mirror and walks back out onto the balcony, boosting herself up to sit on the parapet and half-turning, drawing up a leg and looping her arms around it as she looks out over the varied lands of Limbo. "You need to find other fears to face, Rahne." She says to herself, quietly. "This place isn't what you think it is."

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