HoM: Destroy Me

March 20, 2018:

Nate goes to 'wake up' Illyana from the her happy life as a SHIELD cadet and would-be hero. She takes is a well as expected. Angst warning

Illyana's apartment in HoM Hammer Bay

It is small. Illy is a glorified intern.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Magneto, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Moonstar

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Cadet Rasputin has complained on more than one occasion about the long hours and lack of free time that come from signing on with SHIELD. If the science division don't want her for their interminably repetitive tests, she's being called up at ungodly hours to insert or retrieve teams of agents from across the globe. And when she's not doing that, there's the run of the mill training and assessments that every SHIELD cadet has to suffer through.

This is where she gets her comeuppance. No training, no tests, no tasking orders. Time to herself, to do whatever she wants.

And nobody is around. Rachel has returned to the UK, and while distance is no object to a teleporter of Illyana's caliber, Rachel's obligations to the British Royal Family are. Ordinarily there would be another Summers sibling around, but that's an additional fly in Illyana's ointment. Not even a cadet yet, and SHIELD have called up Nate early. Not only that, but he's been out of contact since that happened, ostensibly in intensive training. She should be pleased for him, but she's put the work in, and now she's been passed over for someone with the Summers pedigree. It rankles.

As the sun goes down, the door to Illyana's rather cramped apartment opens and the blonde teleporter steps inside. At least she didn't waste her downtime dwelling on the injustice of it all. She's been out enjoying Genosha's inexhaustible supply of good weather, as betrayed by the long sundress she's wearing, patterned in a riotous swirl of multicoloured ferns. Pushing her sunglasses up on top of her head, Illyana slips out of her sandals and pads further inside, dropping her bag carelessly into a well-worn armchair. Crossing to the kitchen area, she reaches for the door of her refrigerator and then pauses, looking at the takeaway menus attached haphazardly to the front by a variety of magnets. "Takeout for one is just sad." Illyana tells herself, a bit reluctantly, then pulls the door open, the interior light blinking on in the warm semi-darkness of her apartment. The wash of cool air is pleasant, and Illyana enjoys it for a moment or two before sighing and beginning to assemble what passes for an evening meal.


Cadet Rasputin's usual partner for mischief has been missing for nearly a week. Which apparently means the Russian girl has been bored despite her ability to be anywhere in the world. Surely Nate would tease her about how she can't live without him if… if it was a week ago.

But what Illyana would notice is that 'eyes in the back' sensation that someone else is her tiny apartment, looking at her. No door or window opened, but Nate is looking at her from the other side of the apartment, looking anything but happy to see her again. Also, he is wearing a grey and black armored outfit that looks like nothing SHIELD would give a cadet. In fact it does not look like anything Illyana has seen, while being somewhat familiar at the same time.

Judging by Nate's expression, and the boy is transparent, plus she has known him since they were young teens, something really BAD must has happened.


The tempo of Illyana's rummaging in the fridge slows perceptibly as a chill that has nothing to do with her kitchen appliance crawls up her spine. She's suddenly certain that she's no longer alone. Slowly, making the movement as casual as possible, she reaches down and picks up a beer bottle. If nothing else she can throw it, and she needs less than a second to be somewhere else, if it comes to that.

Getting ambushed in your own apartment and having to flee is unlikely to lead to good grades from her SHIELD instructors, so she'll give fight a change before resorting to flight.

She turns, still affecting casual unconcern, keeping her eyes turned aside from the bright interior light, trying to make them adjust to the dimness of her apartment. She bumps the door with her hip, swinging it closed, and takes a step to one side. Hopefully whoever's in there with her will also be dealing with the sudden extinguishing of the light, and she can let the shadows swallow her up… her plan, such as it is, is aborted as soon as she sees just who is waiting for her. "Nate?" Her tone is one of surprise, and maybe a touch of relief. It changes a bit when she speaks again. "Have you just been standing here in the dark waiting for me to come home? Because that's not creepy. At all." True, she and Rachel did something similar to him not long ago, but that was different!

Somehow.

With a clunk, Illyana puts the beer bottle down on the counter and takes a couple of steps toward Nate, only to pull up short. The clothes are odd, but that's not what made her stop. It's clearly Nate, but in some undefinable way… it isn't. Something's off. And that's before she sees the look on his face. That gets her moving again - although she still stops just outside arm's reach. "What's happened?" Her tone is serious now, her blue eyes searching his face, and unconsciously she rubs her bare arms despite the tropical warmth.


"I just got here," replies Nate, offering no further explanation to how he snuck in. He steps closer, stalls. His blue-green eyes peering at Illyana's, as if searching for something that can't possibly be there.

"I went into Wanda's mind," a.k.a. the Mad Princess. Calling her just 'Wanda' is almost illegal. Calling her the Mad Princess is likely going to get you arrested, but everyone does it in private. And since the princess is a reality warper, maybe the most feared powerset among super-beings, she causes a good deal of consternation even among the most powerful of the SHIELD agents.

"We saw some things that change everything," he continues. "For the whole world. And you… you need to know. You would hate me if I don't show you. But when I show you what I saw I am going to destroy you, Illy."


Nate steps closer, and Illyana feels an unaccustomed urge to step back, to maintain the distance between them. Some part of her doesn't like her personal space being invaded, but a greater part is too stubborn to give ground. Especially to Nate.

Even if he doesn't quite seem himself right now.

The hands rubbing her arms stop, and she crosses her arms instead, tilting her head to one side as Nate decides to be mysterious. On another day, she'd prod him to start making sense, but something gives her pause. And then he starts talking about meeting Princesses and apparently being on a first name basis with them, which is clearly ridiculous. Illyana's expression turns skeptical. "Sure." She says, in a tone that suggests she's humoring him, and she frowns a little, eyes narrowing as she studies him, as if searching for a clue to explain his odd behaviour.

"I'll take option three." Illyana says, firmly, when what he says next makes even less sense. "You sit down, take a deep breath, and start making sense." She takes a step forward and gives him a light shove toward the couch. "You did not meet a Princess on your first day at work." Her words are spoken lightly, in an almost teasing tone, but there's concern in her eyes. "Did you have an accident in training? Hit your head?" She pauses, irresolute, then says, "I'm calling Agent Moonstar."


Nate hmphs, clearly not the response he expected. But this is not the hell-raised Illyana used to all kinds of weirdness. Instead she is… he exhales slowly. The girl she should have been. Funny, happy, thrill-seeking, brilliant and full of hope.

Nate will destroy her.

Maybe he should wait a few days.

"Dani will confirm. She was there. Along with Quicksilver and that guy, Agent Mercer," the only one that does not get the familiar treatment because Nate honestly didn't know him before. "Yeah, call her," he decides. Delaying the matter for a bit. Also, delegating.


"'Quicksilver?'" Illyana lays heavy emphasis on the name. "So you didn't just read Princess Wanda's mind, you hung out with Prince Pietro as well? You, Agent Moonstar, Agent Mercer, and two of the royal family?" She's starting to sound more suspicious than concerned.

"Nate, your name opens a lot of doors, but that one? I don't think so." She reaches for her communicator - and remembers she's not wearing her SHIELD uniform. Stepping away, she roots through her bag until she finds the device, looking back at Nate as she weighs it in her hand, blonde hair falling past her shoulder. "If you're trying to weird me out on purpose, Nate, it's working. But if this is a joke? Fair warning, Agent Moonstar doesn't have a sense of humour." She keeps looking at Nate for a long moment, as if she's waiting for something, and then shakes her head. "Fine."

Activating the communicator, Illyana raises it to her lips. "Cadet Rasputin for Agent Moonstar… yes I am aware. Yes, it is important. Yes, I'm sure. Thank you." Illyana winces at whatever the unheard voice on the other end of the line is saying, then waits for several seconds in silence. "I see. Thank you." She drops her hand to her side, but keeps hold of the communicator. "She's not available." She reports, then leans her hip against the side of her armchair. "All right." She says at length. "Destroy me."

If this is a joke, it's not funny. If it isn't… it's still not funny.


Nate waits, his eyes on Illyana. He looks deadly serious despite her banter, which usually he always enjoys greatly. But no, it is not even a little funny. Then she has to say it:

Destroy me. Ouch.

Wincing, he steps forward, reaching with his right hand to the girl's face, pausing there for a few seconds, as if trying to memorize her expression and the look in her eyes. Then he clenches his jaw and steps into her mind. Trying to duplicate what Wanda, Dani and he did before. He wrench Illyana into the Astral Plane, and lets his mind-scape unfurl. A cascade of memories pour on her mind, of the real world, of them, the X-Men, Xavier, Limbo. More real than reality.

It is quick but it is not easy. Nate has a good deal of power. But he knows Illyana, the real one, has a mind as resilient as they come. Always closed and warded. Not like now… « AWAKE »


Once again, there's the feeling that whoever she's looking at, it's not the Nate she knows. The smart play would be to teleport them straight to the SHIELD med-center and get Nate checked over for head trauma. Or for a psychotic break. But… whatever's happened to Nate, it happened after SHIELD took him.

And whatever has happened to Nate? She can't quite believe that she's in any danger from him.

Dramatic warnings about destroying her notwithstanding.

When he steps towards her again, though, something that's not based on her memories makes her uneasy once more. She crosses her arms, again, silently raising a barrier between them, and her fingers shift on the small communicator, still grasped in one hand. When he reaches out toward her face, she cuts her eyes sideways at his hand, then back to meet his gaze, this time with a quirked eyebrow.

A moment later, Illyana Rasputin, SHIELD cadet, ceases to exist.

Her childhood, in Russia with her parents, Nikolai and Alexandra, a lie. Growing up idolizing her brother, Mikhail, a lie. Seeking to emulate his heroics, if not his path, by serving the House of M, by joining SHIELD, a lie. The years she's known Rachel, Nate, others, all lies, no more substantial than mist, burned away by the bright morning sun.

In their place, the truth is laid bare, each revelation worse than the last. Mikhail, dead. Her parents denying her, disowning her. Limbo. S'ym. Belasco. The things that were done to her, as her soul was slowly sliced away, piece by piece. Worse, the things she did. The ones who died by her hand. Ororo, who tried to save her. The knife, so sharp, gleaming in the hellfire as she slammed it home. Cat, twisted by Belasco, her neck snapping between her hands.

Worst of all, the thrill she felt, the power. The desire for more. The temptation to just let go, and become what she was always meant to be.

Illyana's not who she thought she was. She's not even WHAT she thought she was. And what she IS..?

The demonic shields that keep her mind inviolate slam back into place, breaking the connection with Nate, and she reacts savagely, instinctively. One arm smacks aside the hand that he'd reached out toward her and she drives her other fist toward his throat, striking out towards the closest vulnerable spot.

Giving her room to get away. And getting him away from the demon inside her.

She whirls and runs, stumbling as her dress almost trips her, but she makes it to the bathroom just in time. The last remains of the innocent Illyana Rasputin that existed within this dream are vomited up on a tide of self loathing, leaving just the damned creature she really is behind.


Deep down Nate has always know Illyana hated herself, that she carries even more guilt that himself. He wasn't being dramatic when he said the revelation would destroy her. Because he knew Belasco destroyed her long ago. Leaving behind a toughened survivor uncomfortable in her own skin.

He expected violence, perhaps a transformation into the Darkchild, although maybe not at the level of her trying to punch him in the throat! He blocked the lethal strike with a tenth of second spare time.

So he gives her ten seconds alone before following into the bathroom and kneeling at her side. There is an urge for hugging her Nate is not sure if comes from the 'other' Nate of from himself. He remembers hugging her when she was upset. And he also remembers it is a lie. And it hurts far more he expected.

So he waits, in silence.


Illyana is still kneeling on the floor of the bathroom when Nate finds her, although the evidence of her loss of control has already been flushed away. Her eyes are open, but they aren't focused on the room. She's looking at something that only she can see, her past, and what waits for her in the future.

Despite the warmth of the evening, she's even paler than usual, and there's a faint tremor running through her body. It stills as Nate arrives beside her, but not because his presence makes her relax. Quite the opposite. Her whole body tenses, on the edge of fight or flight, ready to drop another hit of adrenaline into her system if he reaches for her.

And all the while she gives no sign of even being consciously aware of his presence.

At length, there's an indefinable change. She blinks. and a little more animation returns to her blue eyes, now so cold and guarded. She breathes a little deeper. Still without turning her head to look at Nate, she climbs to her feet, one hand dragging her dress free from where it's twisted around her knees as she does so. She turns to the sink, opening the faucet and cupping her hands to catch the water. Methodically, she washes out her mouth until it feels like it belongs to her again, then splashes cold water over her face.

Finally, she turns to face Nate, and as she does the colour bleeds out of her dress, darkness spreading across it like an infection until it's all black, down to the shoes she wasn't wearing a moment ago.

When she speaks, all of the warmth has been leeched from her voice. Her question is simple. "Who did this to us?"


Nate stands, steps back when Illyana tenses like that. "I am your friend," he mutters, almost apologetic. Dismayed. "Illy… speak to me."

He waits, restraining himself from trying to move closer to try to help, or support her. But what can he do when it is her memories what make her feel like this. He can't even say he is sorry. "I want to help you."

And no, he mostly gets ignored. When she is ready the first thing she does is bringing the black to her clothes. Long and colorful dresses are something he is unlikely to see again on the Queen of Limbo. Another small thing he is going to miss forever.

Who did it? That is the question, isn't it? He moves to the window, from which the Magnus palace is visible. "I don't know, but who is the king of the world?" He asks. Because the suspect number one is up there.


Illyana hears everything that Nate says, but chooses not to respond. He might be her friend, but speak to him? Now? When he's just reminded her that she's not even really human any more, and seen what that knowledge has done to her?

No. Speaking to Nate about what just happened isn't on the cards.

She doesn't say a word until she's cleaned herself up, to hide her moment of weakness as best she can, and returned her outfit to her more accustomed black. It's armour, as much as the shining soul-steel that covers her in battle. Reminding herself and anyone who's paying attention who she really is.

Illyana's eyes follow Nate as he moves to the window, though she doesn't follow. Her eyes turn thoughtful and calculating when Nate obliquely accuses Magneto of being behind it all. She shakes her head. "Too obvious. Too easy. Do you really think he's interested in giving us all a happy ending?" Scorn drips from those last two words. She's still smarting from the lie. From believing it. From still, on some level, wanting it to be true. "He'd be making himself a target to anyone who 'woke up'. He's arrogant, but not that stupid. I don't believe it."

Illyana finally moves, turning and making to walk back out into the main room of the tiny apartment, but stops in the doorway, catching the frame with a hand. Her eyes rake over the room, finding it both familiar and alien at the same time. She looks back over her shoulder, as if she's just remembered something. "You did help me, Nate. You reminded me what I am. I'm going to get my sword, and then I'm going to remind whoever's responsible what I am, too." She smiles. "Wake as many as you can." She pushes off the door frame and walks out into the apartment.

There's a flash of light, and Nate's alone.


"He is arrogant, he didn't think anyone was strong enough to escape," offers Nate. But there is not much conviction. Making his enemies live happy lives really does not feel much what Magneto would do. Then again, the very happy lives make escaping so much harder. Nate is very hard trying not to think in what he lost.

His parents. His health. His youth. His peace of mind. Illyana.

He gains the scars, the loss, the rage, the guilt, the technovirus, the uncontrollable powers.

He might not have lost Illyana. She is talking to him? And then she vanishes. "You silly witch," he mutters, leaning against the wall, and sliding down to the floor.

Wake as many as you can? Lets see, who else has a wonderful life he should ruin? Scott, Lorna, Logan, Emma, Alex… maybe he should 'wake up' someone he *hates* instead.

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