Did - Demon in Distress
Rplog-icon Who: Illyana and Peter Parker (emits by Magik)
Where: New York City
When: July 28, 2012
Tone: Gritty
What: What's that boy? Illyana fell down a well?? One of Illyana's critters comes to find Peter when his mistress is in trouble.

It's late. Or... maybe early, depending on how you like to slice it. It's that time of night that's after most of the criminal element has called it a night but the working class hasn't quite started to rise.

Scraaaaaape. Scraaaaaaape.

Claws rake over the glass window of Peter's bedroom. The silouhette of an inhuman shape can be seen, back-light by the street light outside and set into that shadow-form are two glowing yellow eyes.

Scraaaaaape. Scraaaaaaape.

Oh...Oh no you didn't, Peter thinks as his spider-senses alert him to danger. Not my house. Not my Aunt. He reaches to his nightstand and grabs his necklace. Then, a drawer pops open, and he reaches his webshooter. He pops up onto the bed for a better view.

Oddly, his spider-senses are just a mild tingle. More an alert than a scream.


One clawed hand rests against the glass, a single digit tapping lightly. The creature is the size of a small dog, and Peter can see the lash of its tail. A sign of agitation even if it seems to be crouched on the windowsill so passively.


Peter wipes the sleep from his eyes and shakes his head viciously, trying to wake up. He approaches the window slowly and looks at it, perhaps against his better judgment. "Another demon to come get me?" he asks, careful not to wake Aunt May.

The demon lays its clawed hand against the glass, fingers splayed. Those large, glowing yellow eyes watch him. Waiting.

Peter sighs and slides the window open quickly but carefully. He's ready to jump backwards if need be. "This is not how people usually come calling," he says to himself. "You're supposed to go through my agent."

As the window slides up the demon leans back a bit so it doesn't get hit, it's arm dropping down to its side. For a long moment it's just the two of them without the glass between them, the demon staring with unblinking eyes at Peter and Peter looking back at the demon. Now, he can make out its features. The deep purple leathern skin, the elongated skull with short horns that sweep backwards. There is a ridge down its back and its lean form leaves the outline of ribs visible beneath taut skin. Slowly, almost carefully, the demon lifts one clawed hand and reaches out towards Peter. Or, more specifically, towards the ring that dangles from the necklace he's holding. The tip of one claw touches it in a light tap, and then the demon starts to climb down the side of the building. It pauses after a few feet, looking back over its shoulder at Peter. And waits.

Peter grimaces with worry. He's not sure what the demon is referring to, but the implication to him is that it's about Illyana. And perhaps that means she's in trouble. He shoves the webslingers in his pockets and climbs out the window, shutting it slowly. He scurries down the building easily and joins the demon. If it wanted to attack him, it likely would have done it already. Right?

Maybe it's leading him into a trap! Well, whatever its plans are when Peter starts to follow it begins to move again. Faster now. The streets are deserted this time of night, but even if they weren't the demon almost seems to blend into the shadows and Peter needs to pay attention to when it occasionally slips through a pool of light or pauses to look back at him, giving a flash of those glowing yellow eyes. It's not a short journey, and eventually it leads Peter into a mostly deserted part of the city. What once was thriving industrial is now empty hulks of concrete and steel. The demon picks up its pace, claws digging into the wall of a building as it climbs up the side next to a door and then looks back over to Peter. There's a light above the door, but the bulb within the steel cage is shattered. The door is a heavy steel security door, locked tight.

"Is this where Illyana is?" Peter asks the demon while raising an eyebrow. He exhales, looking over both shoulders. Instead of doing the smart thing, Peter walks right up to the door and tries to jiggle the handle, right under the mysterious light. "Illyana!" he yells. "Are you okay?"

When Peter asks if this is where Illyana is, the demon leans out to tap that single claw against the ring again.

Jiggling the handle makes a soft booming sound as the door rattles in its hinges that seems like a shot in the otherwise silence of the area. Peter's voice echoes through the concrete canals formed by the buildings around, but elicits no reply.

The demon puts clawed hands on Peter's outstretched arm, those deadly looking nails doing little more than pricking his skin as the thing tries to climb up his arm to his shoulders.

The door doesn't budge. A spark comes from the busted bulb above, but that's it. The building stretches up, a good three floors to the roof and cement block to either side, broken occasionally by roll-up loading doors.

"Oh, now I'm going to give you a ride, huh?" Peter says with a sigh. Sure, he can scale the wall no problem, but he's not supposed to tell the demon he can scale the wall with no problem. This superhero secret stuff is tough sometimes. He finds his footing and begins to scale the wall, his strength easily being able to handle the demon. As he passes, he'll be taking looks into the windows.

There's actually a lurch from the demon and the prick of its claws as it tightens its hold on Peter when he starts to climb the wall. Looks like he surprised the critter. It's long tail curls around Peter's neck for better purchase as it holds on, the sharp points of its claws easing away from Peter's skin.

A lot of the windows are cracked and broken. The place has obviously been deserted for quite some time. Getting up to them is usually the hard part, set a good twenty feet off the ground. Prying one open or knocking the rest of the glass out to get in is the easy part.

Looking inside, it's a big, open, empty area. There are a few points of light, though. Camp-style lanterns around a makeshift living space, but no immediate sign of anyone.

"In here?" Peter asks the demon, not really getting a lot of help. "You do realize that Lassie did more communicating than you, right?" His fingers dig into the sill and rips the window away easily, allowing it to crash somewhere below. "No time like the present, Sparky. Let's do this." He and Sparky go in through the window.

Sparky stays curled around Peter's neck and shoulders, it's hands even holding onto Peter's hair to keep its perch as Pete climbs into the building. Once they're in however, the demon uncurls to hop down to the dirty floor and heads towards the back of the warehouse where Peter can see other doors. It ducks through an open one that has stairs leading down into darkness. The scent of incense can faintly be detected.

"Mamma spidey always said never follow strange demons," Peter says as he looks around. "Well, she wasn't really mamma spidey, and she never really said that but she did always sing me 'you are my sunshine,' and I am positive she would have told me not to follow strange demons." He sighs, and as he smells the incense, he tries to figure out where it's coming from, keeping an eye on the door where Sparky went.

Sparky has disappeared through the door that leads down a set of dark stairs. The smell of incense seems to be coming from there. Unlike before, the demon didn't pause to wait for Peter to catch up.

And Peter isn't quick to follow. Not yet, anyways. He smells a ruse. He's careful to check out the surrounds a bit, before he follows ole Sparky down the trail of tears.

Most of the large space seems deserted, save for that small 'campsite'. It looks like there's the belongings of more than one person, but definitely no more than a half-dozen. It looks like they've been here for a while, but haven't made any real attempt to make the space more livable. A few backpacks and bags are scattered around. They hold personal effects like tooth brushes and combs and other necessities. One thing they all have? Is a bible.

Peter runs. The Bible isn't what sticks out to him. It's his worst fears. Abandoned building. Camp. Incense. Girl in trouble? Sounds like they'll be needing their Bibles if what he fears is true. He leaps down the stairs as fast as his feet will carry him. "Illyana!!!!" he yells

As Peter charges down the stairs, darkness gives way to light, slowly but surely. He can hear.. something. Voices rising and falling in a rhythmic manner. The smell of herbs and wax get stronger the deeper he goes. He see Sparky hanging back from the open doorway as the stairs end, clinging to the side of the wall and hissing. It's tail lashes back and forth in clear agitation.

Through the walls is a sight out of some bad B-grade horror movie. Candles everywhere, filling the room with light and white-robed figures standing in a circle. There are crucifixes affixed to the walls, as well as arcane symbols that cover the walls and ceiling and part of the floor but the bulk of the floor is taken up but a double-ringed circle a good twenty feet in diameter. That's not painted, it's been carved into the floor and filled with salt in the outer ring and something silver on the inner ring. More intricate symbols, the work of days if not weeks work their way inward until at the center there is a still figure with heavy leather boots and long blonde hair.

"No!" Peter leaps across the room and slides along the floor, closing the space between him in the girl. "Illyana!" he exclaims as his hands touch either side of her face, tapping her cheeks to try and get the young woman to wake up. He reaches to her neck, checking for a pulse.

The chanting falters and then stops.

"NO!" One of the robed figures yells angrily, reaching out towards Peter as he goes skidding across the floor. The reason for these markings being carved into the floor might become apparent. They can't be broken but something so trivial as the scuff of a foot or a gust of wind. "Get back from her!" The male voice is angry, throwing back his hood as do the other three. All men, probably early to mid-thirties. "You don't know what you're doing!" They don't cross that outer ring, though, even though it's clear they'd like to haul Peter back out.

Illyana is limp as Peter moves her, looking unharmed except for the out cold bit. Her pulse is strong and as he taps her cheeks her eyelids flutter a bit.

"No, you must get out! Quickly!" The guy who must be the leader says, hands clenched at his sides.

"Or what?!" Peter screams back over his shoulder. Hands jam in his pockets and he pulls on his slingers with his back to the men. Just in case. He picks Illyana up in his arms and begins walking towards the edge. Man, this guy doesn't know anything about magic. Nor does his player.

"For your own safety, boy!" One of the other cloaked men says. A third looks to a fourth, "Do you think she's ensorcelled him?" just as the fourth says "Don't!" a moment before Peter would hit the threshold of one of those engraved circles.

Peter's carrying Illyana, and so she hits that invisible barrier first, and from fluttering eyes go oh-so-wide as she opens her mouth and SCREAMS! It's also like Peter just walked into a wall. One his arms holding her can go right through but Illyana herself cannot. Her body jerks and twists in his arms, as though set on some invisible fire that he can't see.

"Illyana!" Peter says as he tries to communicate with her. His arms pull back into the circle and a terrified look comes over his face as he tries to calm her. Peter does not seem much concerned with his safety.

Pulling Illyana back from that 'wall' reduces the thrashing almost immediately, but there's still a fine tremble as her eyes slowly open. Seeing Peter, confusion touches her brow. Her eyes are a bit unfocused, and she's obviously disoriented. She's covered in a fine sheen of sweat, causing some of her hair to stick to her temples and cheeks. "Peter?" She manages.

"Put the demon down! Before she kills you or worse!" The first tells him, urgent and angry all at once. "We need to exorcise it and send it back to Hell!"

Peter's irritated eyes tear from Illyana and glare at the dick4s. "I'm going to send you guys on a one way ticket to the bottom of the East River if you don't shut your freakin' mouths." Eyes dart quickly back to Illyana and he kisses the top of her forehead. "Are you okay? I think this is an exorcism. I think they're trying to kill you."

"Will his being in there affect the spell?" One of the four asks, and the other answers somberly. "It might consign his soul to Hell." The third's voice is hard. Vicious even. "Then that is the price that must be paid to rid us of *it*." They don't seem particularly frightened of the threats from a teenaged boy.

Illyana winces as she's moved, her breathing sounding a bit pained and she's leaning somewhat limply against Peter as he holds her. "Exorcism..." She repeats, obviously trying to get her thoughts together. She finally gets the energy to turn her head, looking around at the men, the circle. She says something that's probably a curse, but it's not in English. "Need to... break the circle." Yeah, that's not going to be so easy. It looks like it would involve breaking the floor.

One of the four seems to actually be listening to Peter. Just a bit. "You must let us do this, purge the evil. If we did not speak the truth the Seals would not hold her!"

"Seals? I don't care if you got a pack of llamas and a gaggle of gremlins, old timer." Peter says as he gently sets her down on the ground. He looks pissed. He promptly walks out towards the group of four. "You're going to stop hurting this girl, or I'm going to start hurting you. This is your only warning."

Illyana at least seems able to sit up on her own, but she's pretty out of it, one hand helping to hold her in a sitting position. Peter's foot crosses the threshold just fine, but then the ring that he's got around his neck hits the 'wall' and it stops dead even as the rest of him keeps moving forward, lighting up like a flare and burning his chest. Behind him he can hear a strangled sound of pain come from Illyana.

There's a stinging at his chest as the ring burns through his shirt and onto his skin. "Agh!" Peter exclaims as there's a bit of burned flesh smell. The ring is taken off his neck and thrown upon the ground. But then it's on like Donkey Kong. Peter leaps head over heels in a flip and comes down nearest the closest abductor. There's an elbow toward the neck and a punch to the gut. He then hops up on the side of the wall and runs along it for a step or two, using his momentum to prevent gravity. He gets to the other side of the first guy, and the second is being attacked by straight up punches to the face.

Peter attacking them seems to take the robed figures by surprise and he gets the drop on the first, knocking the wind out of him and sending Fanatic One sprawling to the ground. The time Peter spends with the first needs to be all that the other three need to get their wits about them, pulling knives out from their robes. Fanatic Two, that Peter's attacking slashes at him with the knife before he's punched in the face, his attempt at blocking Peter's blow coming too slow. Peter gets a second blow in as Three tries to tackle him from the side.

In the circle, Illyana is trying to get a bit unsteadily to her feet. She's swaying a bit and her eyes are still glassy. There's the fight going on but it's too fast and furious for her brain to keep track of right now and though Peter isn't one of her teammates, she's used to working on a team. Someone's handling the bad guys. OK. That gives her time to try to figure out the mystical bit.

Peter laughs as the knife goes by his side and he shakes his head dismissively, "Oh man, you got no idea who you're messing with. Look, I'm not big on punchin' the men in cloth, but you guys are going after the girl I'm trying to date, so if you can all just do me a favor and bite some tile, I'd just as soon get he free. Kthanksbye." Peter elbows at the third's head, drops down to the ground and does a handspring kick to his face as he bends over.

The quartet clearly have some training, but they're just guys with knives. As two more go down the last, the one that seemed to actually be listening to Peter drops the knife and raises his hands in surrender as he backs away from the bouncy teen. "You don't understand. It's not a girl, That's just a demon in a girl's body! She'll damn you to Hell!"

"Where I come from," Peter says as he holds the man up by his lapels, "That's where you go when you try to kill young women. A special place in hell. Hopefully you don't have to see it." Peter smashes the man's cheekbone and throws him on the ground, turning his attention back towards Illyana. He runs back, nervous as he reaches the ring, but he needs to get to her.

The last man goes out cold, their bodies lying on the ground. As Peter comes back into the circle Illyana's gaze seems a little clearer. "We need to break the circles." She says. Didn't she say that once already? Well, she doesn't look entirely there. She licks her lips, eyes closing as she tries to concentrate. One hand falls on Peter's shoulder to steady herself as she re-opens them. "We can spill something over it... Something... not transparent. Like blood." Probably not the best suggestion given what they were accusing her of, but she's obviously not thinking straight.

"Blood?" Peter asks with wide eyes. "How about like...Water? Or Milk. I don't do so hot with the blood. I ain't sharing any, and I ain't spillin' any."

Illyana doesn't seem to notice Peter's trepidation, just shaking her head with brow still furrowed. "Thicker. Uhm... paint, salt, dirt...." Her grip tightens on his shoulder a moment as her knees threaten to give out but she seems to steady herself.

"Okay...Dirt or Paint. I can do that." Peter tries to lower Illyana, "Rest just a second. Sparky? Watch her and come get me if anything goes wrong." And then Peter is out and running through the building, looking for paint or a bucket for dirt.

Illyana lets Peter lower to a sitting position back in the center of the circles. There's been no snarky commentary from her, which is probably a bad sign. Sparky's head peeks in the doorway but the demon doesn't seem inclined to pass that threshold. Upstairs there's a lot of containers that could serve, and the floor is covered in dirt and grime. There are a few old containers that might have paint in them, but the labels are hard to read. Getting enough dirt is definitely possible, but he's gonna want a shower after.

Better to be safe than sorry, Peter quickly scoops up as much dirt as he can into a large bucket and races back to the area, passing Sparky, and looking to Illyana, "What do I do? Just pour it over the threshold?"

Illyana shakes her head, motioning him forward and pointing at the outermost inscribed circle. "Make... one line. From outside the circle to here. So it makes a break." She gives her head a bit of a shake and a hard blink to try to stay focused.

Peter nods and does exactly as she directs, praying that it works. He tips the bucket over gently, letting dirt pour upon the ground.

As the dirt starts to obstruct the lines of the Seal being used to hold Illyana, Peter can almost hear *snap* and *pop!* until finally he 'cuts' the last bit of the design. There's nothing to hear, but he can almost *feel* as if something let out a slow exhale and then there's a sudden rush of wind as everything seems to suck back in with Illyana at the center of it. The blonde woman is lifted up, off of her feet by the force of it, her hair a bright halo around her as she starts to glow so bright it hurts to look at before... BOOM. Peter can feel the vibrations in his bones and the floor *cracks* in a radial pattern as Illyana's booted feet hit the floor all the way out to the walls. There's no actual explosion, nothing to blow Peter off of his feet but he can feel that outward expulsion of... *something*. Illyana's head comes up, the glow dying away from her skin but lingering in her eyes some. Her hair falls back down around her and Sparky rushes into the room, climbing up Illyana's leg and arm to curl about her shoulders. "Well. That's better." She certainly sounds more like herself.

Peter tries to gather himself after the explosion and digs a toe into the ground before racing toward Illyana. He doesn't realize she's better, so embraces her...and hell...Sparky too in a hug, wiping some of her banged hair from her forehead, "Are you alright?"

Illyana gives a soft 'ooof!' of surprise as she's hugged and Sparky makes a sort of squawking sound as he's caught up in it. The blonde gives a short, rough laugh, like her throat is raw and dry. "I'll be fine." She says, hugging Peter back, if somewhat awkwardly. Then her brow furrows as she pulls back a bit to look at him. "What are you *doing* here?"

"I'm rescuing your blonde butt, tootsie," Peter looks at her with a smile and, since she pulls away, he lets her leave. "Sparky here came and paid me a visit. Led me right to ya."

Illyana gives the demon a confused look, at which point it hops down from her shoulder and collects the necklace from the ground, climbing back up and holding it out to Illyana. The blonde holds out a hand, letting the ring and chain pool in her palm. "Ah." She says, as if that explains it. Sparky gives a hiss then and Illyana looks over to the four unconscious bodies. Peter gets a glance because what the hell? He did that? There's gonna be Talking soon, Mr. Parker. "Now what to do with these guys."

"Let them go?" Peter asks hopefully. "I don't think they'll be coming for you anytime soon. I'm pretty sure they learned their lesson." He looks to Sparky not sure whether the hiss was for him or the ring.

Sparky seems to be eyeing the guys on the floor. Illyana absently reaches up to stroke the demon and it calms somewhat under her touch. She looks over to him with a level look. "You think they're not going to just try again?" She looks down at the floor with a frown then, dropping into a crouch as she runs her fingertips over the careful work that's been destroyed. "Though this clearly took some time and some hard-to-find components." She lets out a slow breath, resting her forearms on her knees, looking thoughtful. "I'll tell you what, we'll put in a tip to the cops. If nothing else it should slow them down, make them think of going for another target. But right now I *really* want to get out of here. I have a splitting headache and that's the least of the awful I feel." As she stands she sways on her feet, threatening to fall over again.

"I don't kill people, Illyana. I'm sorry," Peter says and he nods vigorously to her as she offers up the cop idea. Peter rushes towards her trying to catch her if she's going to fall. "We need to get you some water."

It might say something to Peter that she lets him catch her, putting an arm around his shoulder as she stumbles a bit. She certainly tends to be the independent sort. Sparky hops down to the ground and dashes for the shadows, disappearing. The blonde nods. The glow's gone out of her eyes, leaving them that eerie blue that even when she laughs seem icy. "Water'd... be good." She says, sounding very tired suddenly. At least she doesn't sound almost drugged like she did earlier. She starts to walk out of the candle-lit room with Peter's help.

Peter sighs and nods, "Okay, Illyana. I got you." And as she begins to walk, Peter stops her and lifts up rather easily. Sparky would have been carried too had he not bolted. "Nice pet you got there."

Sparky seems to have disappeared entirely, but Peter can probably guess that the demon is around somewhere. Illyana gives a soft, tired sigh and turns in towards Peter as he lifts her up and settles her head against his shoulder. She'll just close her eyes... for a moment...

"Illy," Peter says as he carries her, "This isn't one of those things where you're actually really hurt or something and I don't realize it because I'm not a doctor, is it? Should I be calling the ambulance right now?"

Illyana makes a questioning, sleepy sound. She looks oddly different when she's not all smirking and sarcastic. It's an odd sort of peace. Shades of who she could have been. "Fine. Magic overload." She says with a tired sigh. Yeah, a hospital probably can't treat that.

"Okay," Peter says, apparently satisfied. By the time he gets to the street, he's got his cell out and he's calling a cab. He's a bit dirty and she's passed out. Sounds like they were a couple of kids out partying all night. That's the cover story at least. A cab to NYU is too far. So Illyana, if she doesn't wake beforehand, will find herself in Peter's room with him sleeping in his computer chair.

It's hours later when Illyana finally wakes up, eyes fluttering briefly before she peers at the view that greets her. This isn't her room. Hell, it's entirely unfamiliar, since she hasn't been in Peter's room before but as she starts to sit up she sees Peter, asleep in his computer chair and she relaxes a bit.

Noticing the shift, Peter awakes with a start but his eyes are still pretty well closed, "What, oh...." His hands come over his face as he tries to almost literally push the sleepiness away. Illyana will notice that his room has all sorts of gizmos, including a remote control, mechanical lock.

Illyana finishes sitting up slowly with a grimace, her eyes sweeping the room to take in the oddity that Peter Parker's room. "I feel like I got run over by a truck." She says, her voice still sounding rough.

"You did." Peter says, still mostly asleep. Finally he opens his eyes. "It was terrible. Luckily I had a bunch of crazy glue and some extra time on my hands. Right as rain."

There's a slight breath of amusement from Illyana. Not quite a laugh and she leans back against the headboard, stretching out her legs with a sigh. "Are you saying I'm held together by crazy, Peter?" She teases him, the line of her shoulders relaxing a bit though she still looks like she aches.

"No," Peter smiles and smacks his lips together with a grimace. Ew, Parker. Morning breath. "It's mostly glue. The crazy was just an additive from the night we ha..." He hears movement downstairs and brings a finger up to his lips. The universal sign of shhhhh.

Illyana is rubbing the back of her neck, smirking at Peter when he suddenly goes still and motions for quiet. She quirks one brow up, listening herelf.

SMACK. The screen door shuts and Peter seems ready to declare their safety. "Whew," he says quietly. "So. Crazy night, huh? You okay?"

Illyana's other brow goes up, and she looks amused. "Peter, are you not allowed to have girls in your room?" She chides him, as if he were y'know, six.

Peter chuckles and shakes his head, "There's not a hard and fast rule on it either way. I just don't want to discuss the matter with my Aunt. She's very nice. And that'd be an embarrassing way for you to meet her. Which I'm sure you wouldn't want to do." Labels and milestones; all that jazz.

Illyana mmms softly. "Probably true." She admits. But mostly because she feels awful and it makes her crabby. The smile slips, her eyes darkening seriously a bit. "About last night..."

"Don't worry," Peter says with a smile. "We didn't make out. I didn't take advantage of you while you were ko'd. Promise." He even crosses his heart while swinging in his chair.

Illyana shakes her head. "That's not what I meant, and you know it. Though... thank you for assuring me you're not a complete whack job." She adds on with a brief smirk. "I meant..." It's like it's hard for her to say. "Thanks. For saving me." There's even a slight grimace.

"Of course," Peter says, his face grinning wider. "And just because I didn't try anything doesn't mean I'm not a complete whack job."

"You're trying to make this into joke." Illyana says, a smile tugging at her lips but still very focused. "You're a braniac type. You're making me worried about what the thoughts are under the jokes, Parker."

"Well," Parker says with a genuine smile, "I can't really say that magik doesn't exist anymore, can I?" Pause. "I'm also starting to think you're a witch."

Illyana chuckles, wincing as she does so. A slow, deep breath and then she relaxes a bit again. "Something like that." She admits. "What gave it away, the spellcasting?" The mocking is normal from her, not anything really personal. "You want to tell me how you put down those four guys?" Her memory of the incident itself is hazy, but she's sure it was just him.

"They were pastors, or something," Peter shrugs, not exactly lying. "They never stood a chance."

"Not quite. And even if they were little old ladies, four on one isn't great odds. Do you even have a scratch on you?" Illyana asks, fixing him with a hard look. There's a pause, and then before he can say anything she shakes her head and pushes herself up to her feet. He can see her trying not to grimace as she does. Every muscle *aches*. But that doesn't stop her from standing, and walking over towards Peter to lean in and kiss his cheek lightly. "Nevermind. It doesn't matter. I should get home. I want about a bazillion aspirin."

"We gotta stop meeting like this," Peter says with a grin. "Okay. Get some rest. Call me if you think of it or want to hang out or something." He presses a dial on his remote control and the door unlocks and props open. "I suppose I can walk you to the door." Peter grins wryly at the kiss.

Illyana watches the remote door, giving Peter an amused glance. Who the hell has a remote door?? Then she heads downstairs, pausing at the door and looking back at him. "Thanks again, Peter." And then she's headed down the steps in a tromp of heavy boots, her blonde hair turning golden in the sunlight.

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