Catching up. Fairness. And Cheating

July 27, 2018:

Illyana drops by the school to find Nate for the first time in weeks. They talk about the current troubles, the (un)fairness of life and the way she sees things. Demons don't play fair, not even on friendly wages.

The often destroyed pool at Xaviers school


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Cyclops


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

A couple days ago Nate returned from a trip across the Atlantic to find Gambit was missing and apparently Lorna and Cuckoos were looking for him. So no rest for the wicked. (Actually, he slept 12 hours).

Until now, since the search for the ever-errant Cajun has been left in more capable (and Canadian) hands. So Nate went to the Danger Room, blew up some VR Sentinels and then came to the thrice-rebuilt pool to relax. Yes, the pool is having a bad year and they are not even in August.

With some meeting with Iron Man taking place upstairs and the summer students in the classrooms, the young man has the pool for himself. So he is catching some sunlight, wearing just red swimming trunks and sunglasses. His telepathy is of course active and watchful, but he is relatively relaxed, since he considers Xavier's 'mostly' safe ground.

Besides, after all the things that have happened to the damn pool it is a safe bet next disaster will happen somewhere else in the school grounds.


That's right. The pool itself isn't really cursed, is it? Probably not, hopefully not. Mostly it's just unlucky, right?


A mote of silver-white light shivers to life right across from Nate's lounging form. That singular dot of light shimmers for a heartbeat before it expands into a familiar circular portal. Within that portal Hell can be seen, as a dusty, dry, red-cracked vista stretches outward. Soon enough a familiar form blots out the view of Limbo as Illyana steps back upon the more Earthen plane.

Her blue-eyes immediately flick to Nate and with a sardonic smile the demoness says, "Better watch out Nate the pool might explode with you in it and wouldn't that be ashame."

She's dressed simply enough; a pair of jean shorts, a slouchy-off-the shoulder grey and pink shirt and a pair of scuffed up tennis shoes.

"That happens only sometimes," Nate straightens tensely from the deck chair he is currently settled. But it is 'only' Illyana. Wearing pink? When was the last time he saw her in something not black or red?

"No more pool destruction this month, it is becoming a running joke," he admits, replying to her smile with a lopsided smirk. "Good to see you, anyway. It has been a while." But he has been absent too, so he is not sure if Illyana has been away, or if she has been avoiding him since the Genosha illusion (awkward!) or just bad luck. "You okay?" He asks.

The portal behind Illyana closes with a blink of light, then the demoness takes her time finding a place to sit.

Eventually she settles upon the edge of the pool and just as she dips her feet into the water her tennis shoes disappear with a subtle flow of magic. Once comfortable the blonde woman turns her gaze over to Nate Grey. "Why wouldn't I be?" She asks, answering his last question first, "It's summer, the sun is shining, all seems well in the world, so clearly it is."

By the end of her words Yana's voice takes on a rather dry note, sarcasm rife within her tone. "Nothing could be better."

"And you?" She then asks cordially, allowing for the game of politeness to be played.

"I am fine, the world is fucked up, so all is normal," replies Nate, understanding quite well the language of the blonde sorceress. "But at least we got a sunny day."

Which most people take for granted. But not him, Illyana saw his homeworld when it was finally escaping the grasp of the nuclear winter. But Nate grew up in the days of the bombings. Sunlight was rare.

"And since we are still alive and it is a sunny day," he adds with a grin, "do you want to catch-up on news or just swim?" A question to know if Illyana has been hanging out in the school or away dealing with arcane matters for too long. He is getting subtler.

There's a propensity for Illyana to let slide words of negativity or even to agree with them - after all she herself is not really a ray of sunshine - but something within Nate's initial reply has the demoness turning her blue eyes back to the man.

For now the rest of his words are ignored as she focuses upon those initial words of his.

"Is it though?" She asks, an eyebrow arcing high upward, "Sure, shit hits the fan here regularly, but can you honestly say this reality is so bad. With how both of us grew up this particular place is almost idyllic."

Her eyes shift off Nate now as they roam around the backyard, "Sure the people are often naive and stupid, but still idyllic." Idly her feet swish lightly through the water, "I suppose I should catch-up on the news though. What have I missed?"

Nate sighs, hissing through his teeth. "It is… a better world than others," he admits. "But it is getting worse. And it is not because of reasons I can easily fix. There are no rampaging mobs of Purifiers trying to torch Mutant Town this time. It is a more insidious attack. Now we find Trask Industries had a gang of fake mutants committing atrocities in the name of mutantkind, letting the Brotherhood take the blame. And mutants are getting kidnapped for biological experimentation by Striker's goons. Of course the government also does those experiments in their 'orphanages' and prisons." All things he can't really hit. At least not 'easily'.

"We are losing people to Genosha," he adds. "In Mutant Town, I mean," to clarify. Not in the school, at least yet. "Good people who feel America is going to implement mutant registration."

Amusement colors her voice as she once again focuses upon those beginning words of Nate's. "Because you're the only one that matters when it comes to saving the world, right?" She scoffs, "The job is yours alone and without you we'd all fail in our fight against the darkness that abounds?"

She'll attempt to hold his gaze for a sardonic moment, then with that done the blonde demoness pivots into the rest of what Nate has said.

A hardness enters Illyana's eyes at the mention of the atrocities that Trask and its various subsidiaries are doing to the mutant population, "Do we have anything on this Trask? Give me a bit of hair, skin, or even an image of him and my scrying crystal will locate him. Once found it won't be too hard to bring him to Limbo and accidentally leave him with some of my favorite pets. Problem solved."

What, why? You little… "damn right, I am the only one that matters," Nate snorts without malice. "I don't see the X-Men doing much. I mean… yeah, Scott thinks he knows where the fake mutants are based, and we are going to strike the place soon. But it feels too little, too late."

As for the magic on Trask he hrms. "Well, no. I mean it is Trask Industries? I have done some research and it is not clear one of the Trask brothers is in control anymore. Simon Trask looks like a total moron and pretty much parrots what Graydon Creed and William Striker say. Bolivar was supposedly the smart one, but in the last few years he has gone mild and then quiet. His book… have you read it?"

She could say more, but she doesn't. Not about Nate or whether the X-Men are doing too little, too late.

His mention of a book and whether she's read it earns a droll look from her. "Oh yes, riveting stuff." She intones dryly once again, "I couldn't put it down." Which really means no, she didn't read it.

"And does it matter which brother is the smartest? Guilt by association at this point."

Which is likely hypocritical of Illyana to say, but this is Illyana. She doesn't care in the least bit whether she's hypocritical or not.

"Well, maybe you should," comments Nate, leaning back on the deck chair again. "It is… depressing. Trask has a really low opinion of humankind in general, he thinks natural evolution leads to super-depredators, and then self-destruction; that humans are becoming sociopathic as a species and in mutants it is amped to the eleventh. It is well-documented, from anthropological and sociological studies. It is -convincing-. So it sold millions of copies, it is still selling damn well."

He looks back at the blonde. Quiet for almost a minute. "See, Xavier has debunked a good number of Trask's theories, but no one knows because those studies are not widely circulated. The bulk of the mutant haters are just plain racists or religious nuts, anyway. But the damn book turned a chunk of the scientific and political community against mutants."

Illyana listens to what Nate has to say and when he finishes he'll find her gaze resting upon him again.

"You act like this is some great surprise to you, Nate." She says archly to the young man, "That the world shouldn't be depressing. That life isn't just one constant f-you to the world and the people who live here."

"You and I know better than most that life sucks. That people hate change and they especially hate anything different from themselves. Fear is all stick and no carrot, after all."

"So, tell me what you really want to do about this threat? And if it's 'just talk more about it' please tell me now so I can settle into one of the loungers and nap; though perhaps I'll be nice and put sunglasses on so it looks like I'm still awake."

"Wow, you are in a bad mood this fine day," retorts Nate, narrowing his eyes. "Sure, our lives sucked. You know what? We are not normal. Not for this world. Most people live comfortable, long lives. They go to school, find work, marry, have kids and die peacefully, in their beds. And that is how it should be. Those fucked up as bad as we have got it usually end up being monsters, so I guess we are lucky."

He tosses her his sunglasses, now she can sleep while he talks and all. "Life is not fair, uh? So what? I am a killer and yet I can still be fair to other people if I chose to. I know right from wrong. And so do you. What do I want to do? I want world peace; make me a magic spell for world peace."

A portal opens to catch the sunglasses that are tossed her way and somewhere, within the realm she often calls home, a small demon can be found roaming with shades upon its face.

A very stylish demon.

"Sorry, I'm all out of those types of spells today, try me tomorrow." Illyana says blithely, seemingly unconcerned with his censure of her words, but after those flippant words her blue eyes turn cold, "Why should we play fair when they don't? And please don't lecture me on how we should be the bigger person, because seriously, when has that ever worked in our favor? Never. I'd rather be the person who wins."

Nate hmphs. "Play fair? We don't play 'fair' with our enemies. That is a different conversation." Although Nate is possibly 'fairer' than Illyana even with those. At least he is merciful once the enemy is beaten.

But Illyana is not going to be criticized by Nate for using excessive force or being ruthless in a fight. He has lost too many friends in the battlefield. "No, kill them before they kill you, blondie. Put demons under their beds, steal their cellphones and poison their cornflakes. Just… most of the people out there are not enemies."

"You may not play fair, I may not play fair, but the vast majority of those that live under this roof do." States the demoness succinctly to all of what Nate just said, then with a glimmer of something within her eyes, she adds, "Fine, I'll do that, but when Scott asks -" Not if, but when, "I'm telling him it was all your idea."

And seemingly with the mention of Scott's name Illyana turns a thoughtful look upon the mansion proper, but it's only a look. Eventually her attention returns to Nate and she gives him an appraising look. "Enough chit-chat." She says, "Let's race to the other side of the pool."

And she waits for Nate to join her on the sidelines, her clothes transmuting to a bathing suit, "Bet I'll win. Ready, set, go!"

And while Illyana makes a show of 'diving into the water' in reality a portal catches the demoness' form and when Nate finishes his lap he'll find Illyana already there, sitting upon the edge of the pool, grinning like the cheshire cat. "Nothing beats a teleporter."

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