2019-10-01 - Where The Demons Hide


Illyana drops by to check in on Koa and help herself to his company.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Oct 1 08:13:22 2019
Location: Koa's

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Koa has a rather simple bedtime ritual. After dinner and probably some rather nerdy artifact study he showers, changes into some weather appropriate sleepwear - shorts at the moment - brushes his teeth and settles in with a book. The book is usually something light. Fantasy. Sci-Fi. He does heavy reading during the day, he tends to want something light and inconsequential in the evening.

It is now late enough that the whole ritual has been completed. James SA Corey's 'Caliban's War' is on the nightstand and Koa is himself laying on his side asleep. It's dark and quiet and mercifully Koa is not having any supernatural nightmares.

Regular ones, now those he has. He isn't at the moment but it is a several times a week occurrence for him so… odds are high.

The bedroom as such is fairly simple. Bed. Nightstand. Dresser. A few odds and ends hung on the wall - some of the artifacts, some of them just art. It's got a lived in look. It's also got a 'someone doesn't spend nearly enough time here' look. At least it's clean.

Illyana Rasputina's teleportation comes with a lightshow. She knows this So for a change, she teleports in outside of Koa's bedroom. Easing his door open so she can slip through is much more low-key than the flare of her stepping disks.

Bare feet whisper over the floor and Illyana moves through Koa's room poking a bit at things. His dresser. His closet. She finds one of his T-shirts, shaking it out and holding it up as though she can make out what's printed on it in the dark. She can't, really. She can't see in the dark without magic. She's dressed down, and probably came from her own room, wearing shorts and a tank top.

The room doesn't have a chair to sit in, so she takes her time looking at the artifacts and the art, glancing over to Koa on occasion. While she's being quiet, she can't really hide her magical signature, and that might affect Koa even while asleep.

Koa stirs slightly when she gets in from the further points in the room to the closer ones. The markings on his neck glimmer, the light silvery white. He shifts from his side to his back and lets out a noise that's a cross between a sigh and a growl. Then a whimper. That didn't especially sound like a pleasant whimper either.

Still there's nothing especially after that and Koa actually DOES have some kind of interesting knicknacks in his room. There's a horn that looks very much like it came from a demon and kind of smells like Limbo in addition to smelling really old.

Koa stirs again and this time the movement is a lot more restless. He might be coming close to waking.

Illyana pauses each time Koa stirs. Watching. Her expression is a neutral mask, her eyes glimmering like an echo of the markings on Koa's neck. Or is it the other way around?

When he grows more restless, Illyana moves to his bed, setting a knee on it and climbing in. She moves gingerly enough she's not trying to disturb him, which is a bit comical as she's doing the thing most likely to get his sleeping mind to notice. Getting close.

Stretching out on her side, Illyana props her head up with one arm so she can continue to watch him sleep. As splinter lord amusements go, it's rather tame, right?

Rather tame unless she can see what's going on in his head which might be amusing indeed for the right or wrong kind of splinter lord depending on one's view. As she gets closer the collar gleams a bit brighter. She does get a couple of minutes of watching him stir restlessly before his eyes snap open and he takes in a sharp breath.

And then lets it out. Slowly he brings both hands up to rub his eyes and shakes himself a little. There's an almost comical moment when he realizes he's not alone and freezes only for his eyes to track slllllowly over to the left.


"Um. Hi." Surprised Koa is surprised.

Illyana Rasputina's lips curve upward a bit in that familiar smirk. "Um. Hi." She echoes him, clearly teasing a bit. With just the light that slip in from the windows, everything is cast into monochrome twilight. But coming awake, his nightsight is pretty good and it's easy to make her out.

One hand comes to rest in the center of Koa's chest as Illyana continues to watch him. Her touch is warm against his skin. "Bad dreams?" She doesn't call them nightmares. That term is likely to be reserved for a particular type of nocturnal torture for some time to come.

She can feel, possibly see now that her eyes have adjusted, the scar over his heart, which is not far from her hand. And she can likely feel the way it warms unnaturally when her hand comes near it. Koa takes in another breath and lets his head relax back into the pillows for a moment to center himself before he looks over at Illyana again.

"Yeah. Most nights ever since…" Nightmare. He doesn't have to say it and he kind of doesn't want to. "At least I don't wake up with marks…" Though they're not at all nice to relive, these nightmares.

She can see his confusion still. Waking up with her right next to him when he KNOWS he went to sleep alone is… well it puts him off balance.

"What… um." Focus. "Is everything alright?"

"Mmmm, not even close. But. If something needed your attention right now? I would have woken you up." That small smirk still plays over Illyana's lips, the teasing tone familiar. "And waking up with marks isn't *all* bad. Just depends on how you got them." The smirk broadens into a grin that flashes teeth. Predatory. It slips away after a few moments though.

"I figured as much. Trauma like that… it tends to sneak up and jump you, even after you're safe from it." That sounds like it comes from experience.

The blonde shifts then, sitting up a bit so she can peel back his covers and slip beneath the sheets like she plans to stay a while.

Koa watches and she might see him blink. If it was unexpected to wake up with her next to him it's doubly unexpected to see her making herself so very at home. He's known her for months and she hasn't done anything even approaching this. Granted maybe he just wasn't as interesting before. But in his rather famous words around Illyana 'um'…

He doesn't actually say that but she can see the confusion deepen on his face. Which she might ALSO find amusing. It's another way of toying with him after all. "It does yeah. I've seen it before but never really been the one it's sneaking up on…"

He takes a breath, mostly steadying himself at the memory of the nightmare, and lets it out again. Then he shifts slightly, moving more weight onto his side so he can face the sorceress. "Woken up with marks you enjoyed having, then? Also, comfy?"

There's another short pause. "You sound like you know something about trauma smacking you when you're least expecting it." It makes sense. She's lived a lot of trauma. And she's mentioned that she doesn't sleep much. But she's never really gone further than that.

Settled *in* his bed, instead of just *on* his bed now, Illyana rolls onto her side so she's facing him as well. She's made off with one of his pillows, too. The question gets a low chuckle. "I usually leave the marks, but on occasion, sure." She doesn't bother to answer the comfy one. She doesn't look like she's getting up any time soon.

"When I was first kidnapped and trapped in Limbo, it was a bit scary with the unknown and the demons… But Belasco told me he loved me, and that he'd care for me, and he gave me presents. And I believed him." A long, sighing breath escapes the blonde sorceress. "And then some… friends helped me to escape and showed me the truth. So, still scary, but I had people standing with me. Even if they could be harsh at times. It was when Belasco got me back… then he wasn't pretending anymore. Then there was no coaxing. And someone with the power of Limbo at their call, and *wants* to be the monster wielding that power can turn you into…" She just lifts a shrug, leaving it at that.

"I was alone then. And that's always what comes back to haunt me. Being alone. No one coming to save me." Illyana's fingertips trace over the scar on his chest. "I figured it might be similar for you, even if you chose it." To sacrifice himself.

Koa grimaces. He's read about Belasco of course. Most everything WAND has on Limbo talks about Belasco and only a little of it about his apprentice. It was only really after he met Illyana that everything started getting updated. She is, after all, rather new in the scheme of things. And while he's read that the man could be a right bastard knowing that and hearing about it from someone who experienced it first hand - someone you like no less - are two entirely different animals.

"That was when he did most of what he did, wasn't it? After he stopped pretending and was just a demon-king."

Her own not-quite-question gets a few moments of silence and a nod. "Yes. That was the worst part of it. Knowing that I could get help but doing so would mean feeding more people to him. He knew that too, or… sensed that. That I was alone. That there was not going to be any help for me. Pushed me right to the edge of despair."

And nearly over it. The only reason, really, that Koa managed to hold on was that he was too stubborn to give the Fear Lord what he wanted by breaking but… how long could he have really lasted like that?

"He bound me to the Heart right away. That first step… just requires you being in Limbo. The others, well, he had to goad me into those." Illyana pauses. "Mostly. But yeah, then there was no coaxing. It was succeed… or be punished. And then, after I escaped for those few years, when he found me again… He bound me from teleporting, and cast me into a blizzard with nothing. I think I was trapped there for a year. Nothing emphasizes being alone like the cold."

"But you're not going to do that again, right? You'll come to me for help." It's not *really* a question. It's more a directive. "There's a lot I'll sacrifice. Those I care about are *not* one of those things." What should worry Koa, really, are the many things she *will* sacrifice.

"Cold." Koa shudders, momentarily elsewhere. "Cold and dark as an Antarctic winter." Rather specific that. "Yes. Nothing emphasizes isolation like the cold." Especially in a place where the sun never rises and there aren't even plants, much less much in the way of wildlife unless one is at the coast.

He doesn't say 'I'm sorry' though that would be the human thing to say. He knows he has nothing to be sorry for. Instead he just nods in at least partial understanding. "It was a mistake, wasn't it? To send you out alone, away from him. To let you grow and overcome, away from him." Better to keep her close and weak but Belasco was nothing if not arrogant.

He pauses, letting the thoughts wash over him. His markings have dimmed somewhat but continue to glow, brightening occasionally in response to… something.

"I won't do that again no." Koa shakes his head. "Not in the least of which because it's terrible." Why would he consign himself to that when she not only wants to help him but has a right to. If he's hers, after all, she has a right to take care of him.

"What would you sacrifice Illyana?" The question is quiet. What are her lines in the sand? They're different, he's sure, than from other people. But for all that he's watched and gotten to know her… he doesn't think he knows the answer to that.

The question of Belasco's mistake gets a slight shrug. "I try not to dwell too hard on the 'what ifs'. Maybe if he'd kept me close he'd have turned me. Maybe I'd have just gotten free sooner. Me challenging him was always part of his plan, though. I just didn't follow through on the ending." She didn't kill him, thereby damning herself.

Illyana gives a small chuckle as he admits to the awfulness. "Well. Lesson learned then, I suppose." She says dryly. It's an awful lesson that's likely to stay with him for years, but she tries to make it something he can laugh at, just a little.

As to what she'd sacrifice? The light behind her blue eyes flares a bit at thatand for a long moment it seems like she might not answer. "I might burn down the world." She admits softly.

What if's. What about's. In WAND's line of work there are a hundred of them for every decision. Not dwelling on them is a good way to stay sane.

Illyana's quiet admission should horrify Koa. It certainly does stretch out the silence as he watches her. Watches the light behind her eyes flare and fade. When he finally speaks it might not be what she expects.

"It's hard, isn't it, to care about the world. So many people. So many things. None of them personal. Some of them fairly awful really. And even if you're the kind of person who can sort of grasp it all… caring about the whole world is just… such a burden. No one can take it forever. WAND talks a lot about protecting the world… I always found that it never mattered until I had a face to go with it. I can protect a person. A planet…?"

"What holds you back?" That question comes after another long pause. Koa knows, very well, what Illyana is. He can see it every time he looks at her. The power. The majesty. He knows what it has done to her in part because he is experiencing it himself. So what keeps her on the side of angels, if only just?

Illyana gives a rough not-quite-laugh. "I can barely care about *people*." She admits. "The guy I asked you to check on, to make sure about his brother? I've known about him for a bit. Known he lives with his kid brother. Never really *concerned* me too much. I was talking with Caden and he pointed out it could be a real danger. But… I don't have a great frame of reference for that. I figured you'd be better able to make an assessment."

The blonde gives a shake of her head. "I can't really care about the world much. Just… The people I care about that are in it. And I know, if I give into my own darkness then I'll roll out the damned red carpet for the Elder Gods and those I love will burn with everything else." Thankfully, the Elder Gods are likely too alien to do something so simple as promise safety for those she cares about in exchange for setting them free.

Koa's smile isn't really a smile but something rueful and sympathetic. "That sounds somewhat familiar." The consequences of the WAND agent losing control are far, far less dire on a large scale but no less so on the immediate one. He couldn't burn down a world, but in his hunger he might burn down those around him. It's one of the reasons he's kept such a tight hold on his inner beast.

"But it's a part of you. The darkness. It's always there. Gnawing. Whispering." Koa gets that too. The part of him that's always there. Always wants things he can't, or shouldn't have. That part that Illyana seems to leash so easily. And tempt so easily.

"If it helps, most people aren't good at caring about people either." And the kid will probably be okay but she heard that earlier.

"Can I ask without seeming ungrateful… why me?" Seems like a shift in topic but it's related. How did he get to be one of the ones she wouldn't sacrifice? Especially given the fact that he doesn't seem to need to be asked for sacrificial purposes. Acceptable losses he'd called it. Called himself.

"I find most people, when the things most important to them are taken away tend to be destructive. Sometimes to the world around them… often to themselves." For Illyana, the things that are important to her are mostly people. But her power is there as well. Her position. She might not have admitted that to herself quite yet, though.

"I'm not me without it." Illyana agrees, tone quiet since they're so close with the darkness pressing around them.

Koa's observation gets a bitter chuckle. "I don't know that I'd agree. Some people, definitely. Too many, certainly. I like to try to think the best of them though." So she won't use 'most'. "I'm wondering if Robbie's going to try to take my head off next time I see him." She chuckles then. "Maybe that's a good excuse to stay out of his life. Safer for him and his brother that way." Even if she likes his company. Finds him entertaining.

She doesn't answer Koa's question for a long time. "I'm not usually very… overt about who is mine. It's not something most people are comfortable with." See Piotr's response to learning she'd claimed Keiko. "And not something I'd have done with you, honestly, because you actually have some understanding of what that means. But you were willing to risk everything you had, that you are, so the least I could do was try to get you through it alive. And then… You just gave me you." She shrugs slightly in the darkness. "How could I do anything else?"

The number of people Illyana cares deeply about is small, but not because her capacity to care is small. There are just so few willing to give her everything.

"Not if he's smart…" Koa mutters vis a vis Robbie. "Though he most certainly is protective of his brother." And hadn't liked Koa and Keiko poking around though they are after all government agents and he might have been concerned about losing his brother. She's not wrong about her staying away or at least distant being safer, but he doesn't say that. She knows it already, likely better than he.

Like most demons, he suspects, she feels things intensely. Maybe that's why she seems so sarcastic and distant all the time though that's just a guess on his part. "And those people, the ones who are yours, you actually give a damn about what they think. So you keep it subtle, to keep them comfortable." Koa expands the thought and then chuckles slightly.

"From where I was sitting you already had me. Telling you that was the case seemed a bit stating the obvious to me but… it seemed like it was the right thing to say at the time." Certainly the only thing that could have conveyed what he wanted to convey. That she already had him. That it didn't matter what she did with whom, he wasn't going anywhere.

"Though I will admit to… being relieved you didn't get rid of me 'for my own good'." Which she could have done and been honest about it too, but would have hurt more for the isolation than anything else. Even if this is awful for him - and it probably is as evidenced by the markings on his neck - it still steadies him.

Illyana Rasputina's gaze shifts down to his chest, to the heart that's been put there. "Some days I do worry, if you wouldn't have been better off, though." Then there's that slight, bitter smile. "But. That's into What If's again. And though I deal with demons and spirits and the like, I don't know that I'd say death would be better for any of you than what's happened." Koa, tainted. Keiko, corrupted. Piotr… She never wanted to dim his light with the knowledge of who she is. What was done to her.

A final soft exhale, and then Illyana reaches out to push Koa onto his back, and the over onto his other side, so his back is to her. And then he feels her smaller body press up against him, arm coming around him. "Try to sleep. Sometimes, having company keeps the bad dreams away."

"I'd rather be alive if it's all the same to you. At the moment this doesn't seem so bad." Koa knows damn well that it will get worse. He has something on his neck pushing him into alignment with the Elder Gods and corrupting his soul - and he's got a demonic heart in his chest on top of that. His odds of remaining as he is seem low. And before all this is done this may blow back on Illyana in a rather horrible way to say nothing of Keiko or Piotr or Caden.

But at the moment, he is alive and there's someone here to keep the darkness away, even if just a little.

Koa closes his eyes and leans back a little bit enjoying the warmth and presence of another. Then he closes his eyes and tries to recapture the sleep he had. He wonders just for a moment if it works both ways. If another person might keep her bad dreams at bay. And before he drifts off, he also wonders if she'll be there in the morning.

"Sleep well, if you can." He says quietly. And then the room is silent except for his breathing, and the slow steady beat of his borrowed heart.

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