2019-06-11 - That To Which We Hold


Koa checks up on Illyana following their gambit with Siffror.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Jun 11 08:26:20 2019
Location: Koa's Place

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This time, at least, Koa is expecting Illyana. The dead giveaway is the fact that there's a coffee on dining room table in a condition that Koa finds distasteful to put it mildly. Too much sugar, way too much milk though Koa's bar for too much of either of those things is 'any'.

The Agent had been hoping to speak with her about a few things. Fallout from their daring deception of a splinter lord. Perhaps a word or two on collars. And generally… checking up on her.

He could say that's for the job and that wouldn't be entirely untrue. She's a splinter lord herself and far more accessible than most. But he's also concerned that she paid a price she isn't showing or telling from what they did. And that concerns him on a somewhat personal level. After all, he got her into that.

He's just putting a croissant down next to the coffee now and thinking about buttering up one for himself. It's a nice thing to have after work, and it is indeed, as the rolled up sleeves and general 'stuff tossed on the couch' state of the house indicate.

Illyana Rasputina isn't inclined towards doors. She's not usually inclined towards invitations, but if she has them then it just means they can skip past the spluttering outrage. Obviously, she's not a vampire.

A stepping disk opens in the middle of Koa's living room and the blonde steps through. Her metal/goth attire is pretty familiar to Koa by now, along with the tread of her thickly soled boots. "Have you considered putting Wards to route incoming spatial-based spells to a particular spot in your house?" She makes a slow spin as she walks towards him to look about the place, perhaps seeing if anything has changed before sitting down at his table in front of the coffee and croissant. There's a smug sort of smile that curves her lips as she wraps her silver-ringed hands around the mug. Ooo. Offerings.

"A spot like the chair there? Or were you thinking something more security minded?" Koa says as he grabs his own croissant from the container of them and comes back to the table. He kicks out a seat opposite to the blonde and sits down.

"Don't worry, the world isn't ending again or anything like that. I wanted to check and see if there'd been any blowback from what we did. WAND kind of got you into that so it'd be rude if we didn't make sure that you weren't paying for it."

He watches Illyana carefully. He often does, she may notice. He's good at watching. But what he's watching for right now is signs that things are… slightly amiss. He'd suffered control issues with his inner self. Keiko had too. He wonders if Illyana has… and he wonders also how he would know if she had. She's… rather inscrutable.

Illyana Rasputina seems amused that he'd think she was asking for herself. "If I wanted to teleport into the chair, I would." She points out to him. "More security, yeah. I tend to bounce people to the front door and link it to an alert… I wonder if I should build in some keys to the gate as it where when I move…" She leans forward and tears off a piece of croissant and chews on it a bit as he speaks before waving a hand.

"WAND didn't get me into this. I got me into this. WAND just happened to also be pointed in the right direction and willing to share resources." The resource in question mostly being Koa. The sorceress leans back in her chair as he asks about any complications, pale eyes fixed on him. She's quiet for a long moment without eating or even sipping at her coffee. Just watching him.

Finally, she speaks, leaning forward again to grab her coffee. "No signs of retaliation from Siffror or Plokta, so looks like we're clean on that front. I wouldn't be surprised if Darque came knocking on *your* door. He's likely to be able to put together who would be able to pull off being him."

"I wouldn't be surprised either but with any luck he'll be a little busy explaining to Plokta how he didn't actually betray him. And I'm not clear that Plokta is very good listener." Koa says with a small, savage smile. "Though counting on that luck would probably be silly and yes, there's really only one person who could have provided the necessary juice for that deception."

Which means Koa's probably got trouble coming later. He takes a bite of his croissant. He's not seeing anything that looks particularly out of place with her. But she doesn't just 'radiate' her magic in the same way that spirits or other arcane creatures do so it'd be harder for him to tell. Plus she's already a bit… infernal. Normally that'd be a worrying sign - it probably still should be - but in Illyana's case it's just how it is.

"Well that's good news anyway…" He pauses and frowns for a moment. "Wait. Did you say 'when you move'? Are you going somewhere?"

"Hopefully. Still, should keep on your toes. If he finds he needs to lie low for a bit and is bored…" Illyana just lets that trail off. Koa works for WAND, he should know the drill.

There doesn't seem to be any outward signs of problems in Illyana. Not like Keiko and Koa have. Of course, she did purposefully put most of the burden on them so that she could stay clearheaded enough to try to pull their bacon from the fire if things went sideways.

"Eh, kinda. SHIELD is reassigning my friend off to who-knows-where for 'the indefinite future'. It feels weird to be in his place when he's not there." And there's no one to cook for her. That kind of sucks. "I know my brother would let me stay with him, but eeeeeh."

"Oh. That's kind of a downer." Koa says, blinking. Not that he would expect to know about her friend being reassigend. After all they're in different departments. "Where are you going to stay, then, if you don't mind my asking?"

Because, you know, she may very well mind.

"Well you seem to have come out of the whole thing alright. At least from over here." If that sounds slow and slightly thoughtful it's because Koa is versed enough in magic to know that nothing comes from nothing. She put most of the burden on them, yes. But she's the one who pushed that magic through. She's the one who impersonated an evil necromancer. She's the one who put collars on- oh yes. Those.

Koa's hand drifts up almost without thinking to touch that silver filligree'd collar.

Illyana Rasputina shakes her head. "I'm not sure yet. It's not a huge deal, I *do* have my own 'place'." There's a bit of a smirk at that. Yes. She has an entire citadel and the endless lands around it. It's just… not Earth and it's easy to loose track of time there. And maybe yourself. Having somewhere to live on Earth is part of how she holds on to being human. Perhaps one of the biggest dangers is that she'll keep putting if off and putting it off until she just doesn't bother and spends all of her time in Limbo.

The blonde's lips press into a thin line as Koa muses about what it might have cost her, and after a moment she forces it up into a smirk. Yeah, someone's not talking. Her eyes half-close as he reaches up to touch the collar, but she doesn't say word one about that. "It's sweet of you to check up on me." Even if he knew he wasn't likely to get much out of her. She sips at her coffee again. "Haven't had any issues like when we got back?" When Koa started to eat his own 'foot' and she pushed her own magic into him to help stave off him doing more damage to himself or Keiko.

"My control is pretty bad right now." Koa admits, dropping his hand from the collar without ever realizing it was there consciously. "I'm… working on it. There's a reason I don't regularly feed that part of me unless I need it and this is that reason. It makes it harder to pull myself out of the mindset when I have to."

That's different. Koa has frequently referred to his 'beast-self'. Shorthand to be sure, and not an actual separate personality, but speaking of that part of him as though it is himself and not someone else is a shift in thinking which may indicate how serious his control issues have been.

"But I haven't started eating my own soul again, so there's that. Or… anywhere else's for that matter."

"Do you… want a place to stay, here on earth?" Not need. He wouldn't ask her if she 'needs' a place, because the answer to that would be 'no' as she indicated. She doesn't need it. Not to survive. But to thrive? Well… it's possible she might. Koa's intuited without too much trouble that it's important to her that she remain anchored to her humanity and feeling like she has a 'place' on Earth is a big part of that. A place that she belongs. That she can call her own.

And that just might be important for everyone else too.

Illyana Rasputina arches a brow at him as she tears off a bit more croissant, dipping it into her coffee before popping it in her mouth to chew him. Her gaze never leaves him. "You starve a part of yourself for long enough, it'll come back to bite you." Something he's learned lately, hasn't he? "Maybe, instead of starving it to make it easier to deal with, you should have gotten better at handling it."

Finally, she lets him free of her chilly gaze, looking down into her coffee as she answers him. "I thought that was obvious." She's not laughing, but she's definitely mocking him. "I don't fit real well into the system though. Can you imagine me with a normal job, with someone telling me what to do?" Or just getting bored and walking off.

Koa shakes his head slightly. "Learning to use it is… dangerous. It's not just a question of having another part of me. Every time I use it, every time I call upon it, I become that a little bit more. There are lines that you cross that you can't go back from. You… know something about that I imagine." Koa doesn't want to put too fine a point on it but he suspects that if anyone DOES understand this, anyone he knows, then it's her.

"I've already crossed one. I'm a predator. Not just because of what I do. It's woven into my nature. It's become what I am. And that predator grows stronger the closer I get to the next line. The line where there's more of that in me than what I am now. If I cross that line… I won't really be a person anymore. I'll just be something that's smart and hungry."

Perhaps he should have learned to handle it. But can he afford to?

"It's… a little tricky to imagine you working a 9 to 5, yeah." Koa admits as he leans back and takes another bite. It's interesting that the collar doesn't appear to have chafed. It looks like it sits there… quite comfortably. Why would that be?

"But there are lots of abnormal jobs you know. Jobs where people are expected to be a bit… let's say surly and eccentric. I might have a few ideas at some point if you wanted to hear them. But as for a place to live…" Koa seems to consider. Maybe… just maybe…

"How do you feel about haunted houses?"

Illyana Rasputina tilts her head in a slight nod. She does know something about that. She gives a huff that's not quite a laugh and there's a bitter edge to it. "I'm bound to the path of the Nine Black Virtues. I know all too well about not being able to go back once you cross a line. But this isn't quite the same. Your nature is that of a predator, yes. But it's not twisted or evil, that's the difference. I don't think you'd loose being a person, because you still have your soul." She points out. "I'll agree that you'd be *dangerous*." She gives him a wicked smile, "But I'm kinda partial to dangerous."

While Illyana isn't inclined to share her plans, and will manipulate people into place without much, if any, guilt about it, she's also very *careful*. She tied her spells to the collars, so her dark magics didn't taint her true targets. Then she masked the spells and no one dug deeper than the magic that lingered around them from the minor transformation spells. The intricate layers of spells would be a dead giveaway to just how much planning Illyana put into their ruse.

"Too many shrieking people and the 'special effects' are usually a joke. Not to mention they're always hot and the fake smoke makes my nose itch." Illyana looks thoughtfully confused. "We're still a few months out from that, right? Usually the leaves start to turn color when they start doing that." Then she looks thoughtful and mildly interested. "You think I should do a haunted house? I could probably keep my demons from eating people…"

Koa seems pensive for a moment. If he lost his nature and kept his soul would he really still be a person? He wonders. He'd definitely be dangerous though and that smile…

He should probably be worried about that smile, shouldn't he? She gets a slight smirk when she gives it. But he's wondering… what happens if he crosses that third line. The line where he consumes the magic and soul of another. There's a word for beings who do that, whispered in terror: Wendigo.

Some of the intricacies of the ruse had not been lost on Koa. But only some. He knows a fair bit about spellcasting but not being a real caster himself he does sometimes miss some of the finer points. And while the magic hadn't bit into him… what it had done was tantalize and tease him just by flowing over him the way it had. She's seen his eyes go vague before. She knows what running a spell over him does.

"Hrm? Oh…" Koa actually chuckles for a moment. "Uh, no. I meant a real haunted house. Or perhaps one that's just a bit… unstable. WAND has a list of properties we've acquired over the years. Things that normal people can't or won't live in that can't just be torn down for various reasons. Some of them need caretakers and the caretakers are always in short supply. And by caretakers I mean 'people capable enough to sit on them and make sure nothing bad happens'. We've got several vaccant right now and my boss asked me to hunt around for likely prospects." There's that sly half smirk again. "I mean it's probably one of the only offers in town where we pay someone to live somewhere. It just comes with, you know, complications. Ghosts, or dimensional instabilities or similar things."

Illyana Rasputina's brows go up at that. "Huh. I didn't realize WAND did that but I suppose it makes sense. Currently just have a crap-ton of Wards on them? Put calls into Strange once in a while?" Complications don't worry her too much. Wherever she lives inevitably wind up with a minor demon infestation anyway. "Preferably nothing that's got an open portal to the Dark Dimension or the Lifeless Realm." She points out somewhat dryly. No need to press her luck.

She looks thoughtful again. "Can I have housemates?" Living alone is almost as bad as not living on Earth at all. One of the real reasons that, with Doug not around she figured to find somewhere else to stay.

"Lots of wards, sometimes people to guard the entrances and yes we do call various high powered magic sorts to help us out with them once in a while." Anything permanently open portals is generally something that's slated for demolition no matter the cost unless the cost is blowing up a city block or ripping people's souls out.

"The problems are usually more benign than that but they CAN turn into serious ones if they go unattended for long enough." Koa drums his fingers. "There's a few that are probably right up your alley."

He's silent for a moment more thinking before her question registers. "I think the question is 'can you find any that want to live in a weird house'? But yes more is better from our perspective. Most of them are in need of some fixing up, though we wouldn't ask you to do that. I've already got someone we both know working on a maintenance plan."

Illyana Rasputina gives Koa a Look. "You can't tell me that you haven't noticed that most of my friends tend to be able to take care of themselves." Not that she has a lot of them, but most of them are mutants. Mutants that also have some training, though that's often not as obvious.

"Well that's good." The blonde notes of someone else doing the fixing. "I have a black thumb and tech hates me, so definitely have someone else deal with *that*. But I should be able to corral your bogeys."

"Good. Let me…" Koa gets up and walks over to one of his shelves. After a moment of hunting around he comes back with a three ring binder that he puts in front of Illyana. It's full of sheets that look like property profiles, complete with pictures… and write ups of what's 'odd' about the place in question.

"Take a look through that and let me know if any of them seem likely."

The good news? Most of these places are fairly roomy. Something about expansive spaces seems to attract these kinds of problems.

"I had noticed that your friends seem… capable." Two of them are in SHIELD. He'd met the cajun. And her brother of course. All formidable in their own way. It's enough to make a man wonder how one GETS that many 'capable friends'.

"Though I was figuring the issue would be more 'want to live in a place with dimensional instabilities' than 'is capable of living in such a place.'"

Koa sits back down and takes another sip of his coffee. He's toying with his collar again and it doesn't seem like he realizes it.

"Hell you can have pets… if something doesn't eat them." Like the issues of the house. Or her demons.

He's quiet for a couple more minutes, thinking. "How did you… reach a balance with the parts of you that were… added by others?" Forced on her, he doesn't quite say though that is the gist of it.

"Well that's good, because it doesn't matter how I try to chase them off, I always end up with demons hiding out whenever I stay somewhere for any period of time." Illyana says as she accepts the binder and flips through some of the pages in a browsing manner. She glances from it up to him. "You mind if I borrow this for a few days?" So she can look through the entries. Likely so she can actually put eyes on them as well.

His question of balance has her pausing, and she looks up at him thoughtfully. "I don't know that you'd call it a balance. I just keep myself firmly focused on the greater good. Mostly, that means not indulging my nature. But it doesn't make me any less who and what I am. I can show you the taint on my soul. Hell, I'm sure you can *feel* it if you let yourself. It's why people go out of their way to avoid me. But *I* still control that."

Usually. Mostly. Shhhh.

"Go for it. Don't be surprised if you run into Keiko at some of the locations. Like I said. Maintenance." Left unsaid, if she picks one and sticks around he might ask Keiko to move in there. Well, if the two of them can get along somewhat better than water and oil, that is.

Shouldn't be a problem. He hopes that's not just him being optimistic. They got on well enough dealing with Siffror. Right? Right?

"I can… sense it. See it sometimes." Koa nods. Feel it definitely. He doesn't ask her to show him. She might but those things are rather personal and Koa knows enough to know that it's gotten on her and it isn't coming off. Ever.

That's rather like his problem, really.

"Hence your confidence that I can become more predator than man and still be a person." It's almost… optimistic really. In a fatalistic way. Because if he loses himself doing that, hasn't she already lost herself? And what hope does she have to hold onto then?

"And when you do indulge?" He's noticed she does… sort of. Small things. Small things he suspect are there to keep her appetite at bay.

Illyana Rasputina shakes her head. "That's not indulging my nature. That's just me being what I am. It's me *accepting* what I am." The difference may be a fine line, but it's there, to her. "And I do try to… limit myself to my friends, who are the most likely to just roll with it. If I say something cutting to someone that knows me fairly well, they don't take it personally. It doesn't *hurt* them. That's where I try to keep myself in check." Instead she'll just make her friends sweat or squirm at the end of her humor.

"Of course, I could just be playing the role of devil on your shoulder." Illyana admits with a shrug of her shoulders.

"You try to limit the… damage. For lack of a better word." Koa says quietly. He drums his fingers on the table once and takes one final drink of his coffee. That's all for that. He might need more at some point.

He wonders if that would work. If he could limit himself. If he could hold in the beast and only let it out in places where he knows the people he's around are strong enough to take it. Would that work? Could it?

"I don't think you fit very well there. I'm not quite as broad as your brother." Koa says with a slight smile.

Illyana Rasputina finishes off her own coffee and brushes off the crumbs from the croissant onto the plate before standing up and moving around the table until she's standing in front of him. Since she's standing, she's taller than him and can look down upon the spirit-eater. She reaches out, one fingertip under his chin to force him to look up at her and tilting his head back just a bit more than he might volunteer on his own.

"You need to have the will to keep yourself in check. From doing real harm. It's good to have someone you know is a good person to keep in mind, to help remind you when you're not sure of your way." Illyana's hand turns, the back of that finger sliding down the slope of his throat until it hooks behind his collar, thumbnail scraping over the shark's tooth etched into the silver, the action more felt than heard. "It's either that, or you find someone to *keep* you in check. But what you're doing now… You're just playing with fire. A hungry animal will only cower in the corner for so long, and when it comes out, it has nothing to loose." Which makes it that most dangerous of predators.

"What would you do?" He says quietly. Not how does she doe it? How does she keep herself in check? She's explained that. He's asking, in his place, based on what she knows about him, what would she do? It's possible she doesn't know. And it's possible that the answers she has she doesn't especially want to say.

She knows that Koa doesn't have the web of connections she does. That he is more isolated than she in ways, which is possibly a bit strange, that someone from a hell realm should be better anchored to earth and what's left of their humanity than someone who was born here and has never left, well at least not for very long.

"Would you simply… embrace the hunter? And the hunger that goes with it?"

In a way she has. But then, she wasn't given a choice was she? Koa has one. And his choice was to try to hang on to his humanity. It is… it is entirely possible that this is a lost cause in the end.

That shark's tooth heats ever so slightly. Not by much, but more than what the heat of her hand should do to it.

"I don't know many good people, Illyana. Not really. People in my line of work, even the ones on my side are not… good. They've seen too much. Done too much. Paid too much. But I do know some very… determined ones. Maybe that will be enough."

Illyana Rasputina gives Koa a smirk. "I can't do anything other than be my own ruler, Koa. That's the only answer I can ever give. The fact that you ask the question?" She tilts her head side to side a bit. "Maybe yours is another way." She admits.

The blonde sorceresses brows arch at the question. "Why would you want to continue to do harm to yourself?" Her thumb sweeps over the etching once more before she lets her hand drop away. "You can feed the hunger without going to the extremes of keeping it starved or gorging." Her lips quirk a bit. "You keep trying to get Keiko to work with her spirits instead of subjugating them, and yet you do worse to your nature."

She steps away, gathering up the binder, and apparently preparing to go, as she tucks it under an arm. "It does work best if you have love as your compass." She admits. "When we're lost, having a true north usually helps get us home." There's a pause as she looks around Koa's house a moment, and then to him. "Helps to have a home, too."

What's Koa's true north? For a long time it's been duty. Doing the things he does so the world can keep spinning. Carrying the awful knowledge that every dawn is purchased with hopes and dreams never realized. And sometimes with blood.

She's right that duty simply isn't enough. Is there an alternative for him? He doesn't know. But he knows he needs to try to find one.

"I'll see what I can do." It's not much of a promise, but it is a promise to take a good look at what is going wrong and why. And try to fix it.

"That's why it's important that we find a place you can make one. Let me know if you see one you like." There's another short pause. "And thanks for dropping by."

He'd invited her, but she didn't have to come. And yes. He's still going to keep an eye on her. She may say he's not responsible for getting her into the last mess they had to deal with.

But he kind of is.

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