|Minutes or Days?|
|What: Jocelyn talks with Doug and Illyana. She gets another impromptu lesson. The girl is then sufficiently shaken up.|
Illyana disappeared during the flight back from the Arctic, not arriving at the mansion with the rest of the large group. She was there for a while, Piotr hovering about her. She didn't talk to anyone, really and given what most of the group had been through? They probably didn't do a lot of cross-talking either. It's only been a day or so now. The memories are fresh in the mind. Fresher still in the nightmares of some, perhaps.
Illyana is sitting at one of the long tables, alone. She met Piotr a bit earlier and while he had classes to deal with she's lingered. She has a cup of long-cold coffee in front of her as she looks out the large windows at the grounds beyond. She's dressed in black leather, head-to-toe. Heavy, thick-soled boots that look like New Rocks encase her feet and come all the way up to her knees, silver skull buckles marching up the sides. Spiked bracelets circle her wrists, and a chain for a belt about her hips. Her top is high-collared and comes down to her wrists but stops above her navel leaving just that small swath of skin bare. She doesn't look terribly approachable today. Probably why the entire table is empty.
And yet there Douglas Ramsey is, approaching. Dressed considerably more sensibly for the school, looking rather like a casually fashionable young man with a blue shirt and tan pants, Doug sits down a respectable-enough distance from Illyana, setting a tray with a chicken salad sandwich, an apple, and milk in a glass.
"Hello, little miss," Doug says with a smile, eyes flickering across her oh so -hostile- outfit, as he cuts his sandwich in half, and begins to eat one-half of it.
After a lengthly enough time, Doug comments, "So, they giving you a wide berth too?" he asks with a self-depricating smile.
Yeah, it was certainly fresh enough in Jocelyn's mind, though the teenager has managed, so far, not to brood too much over it. Everyone got out. She'd seen Shift, and he was...recovering. She was worried for the man, but had a certain degree of confidence he'd 'pull together' eventually. It was that slightly naive teenage hope that she doesn't exhibit all that much creeping to the forefront, perhaps to deal with some of what happened. All-in-all, Jocelyn didn't feel like she had a right to complain or mope over what happened, given others took it far worse than her.
Still, that didn't mean she hadn't noticed it among some of the others. Mr. Wagner was very out of sorts, Jocelyn had noticed, and Mr. Drake had seemed a little more distant, too. So there was that. The girl is dressed in her usual long-sleeved shirt and jeans, complete with black leather gloves, as she enters the cafeteria and gets herself something to eat. A couple burgers, some potatoes, veggies, and some milk complete the meal. Then the teen starts looking for a spot to sit down. She notices the duo over at a table, all alone. Well, there weren't a lot of spots available right now, and she wouldn't mind some company. And frankly, even if Illyana was in a rotten mood, she spent time around Laura, so her level for bad or creepy moods was pretty high.
The girl makes her way over and sets her tray down a couple seats from Illyana. "Mind if I join you two?" she asks, leaving enough space in case they want the teen to go away to make it easier.
Illyana smirks over at Doug, that bitter sort of amusement that doesn't touch the icy eyes. Cold. Hard. "They always give me a wide berth." She informs him. News of how things went down of course seeped into the student body and Illyana's never had a great reputation amoungst the students. Demon. Witch. Most people just had stories of knowing someone that saw something, but the eerie chill around her for the more sensitive people made the stories easy to believe.
Illyana's smirk fades away, and it was almost better with it there. The amusement, however bitter or mocking kept her eyes from seeming so empty. "You alright?" The blonde made sure everyone was accounted for on the flight before she left, but she didn't wait to hear the litany of injuries. As Jocelyn joins them she looks over at the younger woman and lifts a shoulder in a shrug. "Up to you." Jocelyn's the one that's going to have to deal with any stigma the others put with hanging around Illyana.
"Got into a fight down there, but otherwise, not too bad," Doug admits with a thin-lipped not-quite-smile. "Cyclops made sure I was covered up till he lost his visor when Trask attacked."
Yeah, so people weren't happy with -that- move, him being brought back. But eh. It'd go away, and in the meantime...
"Sure, have a seat," Doug smiles, a contrast to Illyana's cool attitude. Motioning to any seat closer to him than Illyana, Doug nods at Jocelyn. "How're you doing?" He tilts his head towards the young girl. "No lasting effects?"
Taking the seat next to Doug as she slides her tray closer, Jocelyn nods. "I'm fine. Medical checked me out, and I've got a clean bill of health, surprisingly enough," Jocelyn says. She herself was rather surprised by that, as she wasn't sure she'd be getting out of there without serious injury. She got lucky. She hadn't really heard much about Illyana and these rumors, but she didn't pay rumors much attention anyway. She just didn't care about such things, and if she did, she'd ask herself.
The teen takes a bite of a burger before speaking again. "Say, I wanted to apologize for being upset, before we all went off on that trip. I lost my temper with all the veiled talk. That sort of stuff tends to get under my skin," Jocelyn explains. "I don't really care if people have secrets, you know? I just don't like them talked about in code around me I guess".
"Looks like you came out on top, too." Illyana says with some approval to Doug about his fight. She's not terribly thrilled about Cyclops' decision with Trask, but she got to burn off some of her anger in the fight and no one she cared for was hurt too badly. Cold, but she didn't know the students that died and so it doesn't touch her as deeply. She glances over to Jocelyn, listening to her speak. She picks up her coffee to take a sip, grimacing as she finds it cold and putting it back down again.
"Don't worry about it," says Doug. "Been in your shoes. It's still..." The young mutant waits as other students, giving Illyana a wide berth, pass by. "... anyway, still being kept hush hush. But I'm guessing you know what's going on down there now."
Regarding Jocelyn with a glance, Doug looks back towards Illyana, then back at the younger girl. "So, what did you think of the experience? You think you can deal with that kind of life?"
"Yeah. It's the whole talking around me thing. I have no problem if someone says 'Hey, Jocelyn. We have to talk about something, could you give us some space?' That's fine. I'll be slightly curious, but anybody would be". The girl takes another bite of her burger. Jocelyn listens to the rest of Doug's words before speaking again. "Mr. Summers already told me, and asked me if I was interested. I accepted, though I told him I'd definitely need more training to not feel quite so over my head," Jocelyn says to Doug. It was that simple to her. "Way I see it, I didn't get these abilities to sit around on my hands and do nothing. As for what I thought of the actual experience? Exciting, horrifying, frightening, sad, and everything in-between".
"Tell you to get lost. Got it." Illyana says, some of that dry amusement back in her tone but that's about it. Her attention turns to Doug's plate, looking for something to take but not finding much that sparks her interest. She lets Doug handle talking about Jocelyn's feelings. That's why he's there! Ah! Illyana reaches over to take Doug's apple.
"I see. So Scott said that, hmmm?" Doug had a nagging feeling he knew just what was going to happen. "Well, then, I suppose, that puts you under us. Since we're supposed to be taking the young students who might be a part of -that- in the future."
Leaving Illyana to take the apple, but making sure to secure his milk glass by grabbing ahold of it, Doug nods at Jocelyn. "Haven't got your dossier yet, but I'm sure it'll pop up sooner or later..." Here, Doug -looks- at Illyana, before looking back at Jocelyn. "I'm guessing you're already familiar with who else's going to be joining that training." A wry grin crosses Doug's face. "You think you can handle it? Because -she-'s going to make sure of it." Inclining his head towards Illyana, Doug adds, "My job is to make sure things don't get lost in translation."
"Well, I kind of figured that out when I replayed the conversation in my mind, once he explained things," Jocelyn says. "I could make at least a couple guesses, I'm sure. Though half the fun is seeing who'll show up". She starts working on the potatoes as she listens to Doug explain some more of it. A sip of milk is taken before she glances between the two adults. "I expect myself to be able to handle it, yes. I expect you're supposed to help push us forward in training, and if it's anything like the training I've done in the past, that means everyone will eventually fail at some tasks. Then we'll all succeed at those tasks as we get better," Jocelyn says. Given what she did before she came to the mansion, it was the only reasonable response. It isn't said in a bragging tone, but with a fair bit of self-confidence behind it.
"Anyway, feel free to ask me anything you'd want to know. I'm pretty much an open book about whatever you need to know," Jocelyn adds before she takes a piece of broccoli and munches on it.
Illyana crunches into the was-Doug's apple, a bit of her smirk returning as he secures his milk. That's followed by an eyeroll as he gives her the Look. She listens to both of them talk, chewing idly. "Oh, I figure my job's to break you. That way it happens around friends." The blonde sorceress smiles. It's... not a reassuring sight.
"... Bad Illy, no breaking," Doug notes dryly, shaking his head, before he takes a bite of his sandwich and then swigs some milk.
"I wouldn't say -push- you forward in training. The teachers here are here to help you train your powers and such. What we're here to teach you is how to work with others -and- make sure you know this is the life you want to. At the least, we can show you other things outside the institute... well, it's probably not really necessary in your case, but for others, certainly. I worked for the United Nations, Illyana was a member of the Titans..." He tilts his head towards Illyana. "Piotr is a member of the League. Just... think of us as opening your eyes to possibilities."
"Doesn't hurt to know what else is in the world, regardless of where I end up five years from now. Always good to know who is out there," Jocelyn says in agreement. Illyana's comment about breaking her just pulls a small smile from Jocelyn. They've already gone over the whole training under duress bit, so she doesn't feel any need to repeat that. Nor does she think inviting that type of response again is something Doug would appreciate.
The teen finishes off her first hamburger and starts to work on the second. "I saw how people worked together before," Jocelyn says, referring to the mission. "Some of it will be learning how to work together like that?" she asks. It's not too hard to see that she's running some ideas through her head, though just what those thoughts are would only be determinable by a mindreader.
"You're no fun, dyadya." Illyana tells Doug when he verbally chastises her. "Friends in high and low places, that's me." Illyana's smirk is an absent thing, the comment almost off-hand. She starts to say something else, but then seems to decide not to as she figures that Doug would prefer she not say it in front of the student.
"Don't worry about it. Part of our job is to find -something- to put you in the best position to succeed," Doug says, tilting his head. "You don't -have- to be so deferential, you know. You were training for the MMA, weren't you? You're used to taking care of everything yourself? It seems to me you're already a fairly good fighter already, and you're learning control. But..." And here Doug taps his head. "Might as well show you how to -take advantage- of your skills. From what I see, you're set up already with the physical traits, so... it's a matter of challenging you to think. And the best thing you can do is to challenge -us-, not with your powers, but with your head. Make it interesting, hmm?"
"Yeah. Before my powers manifested, I was going to be doing some demonstration for some bigwig television people. That didn't really happen though," Jocelyn replies to Doug before she takes another piece of broccoli. Hmm. "Maybe," she says, thinking that over. "Give me an example of what you're thinking about?" Jocelyn asks, thinking that's fair.
"I mean, there are a few different ways to challenge somebody's brains, but I think you mean something different than finding a riddle or a puzzle you've never seen before. Are you talking about tactics?" She shifts a little bit in her chair as she tries to figure out just what Doug is looking for here. She isn't dumb, but she knows that a lot of people in the mansion are way smarter than she is when it comes to education and things like that.
A glance is given to Illyana. "I know that dyadya means Uncle. Why do you call him that? I don't see the family resemblence, I have to admit". She's curious now.
Illyana shakes her head at Jocelyn's observation. "We're not related. I call Doug 'dyadya' because when Piotr first brought us here I was six and Doug was..." She frowns over at the other blonde. "Fifteen? Sixteen? I'd have said you were huge but there was always Sam to measure you against." With a 'whatever' flick of her fingers she turns back to Jocelyn. "Doug's thing is languages, so aside from my brother, he was the only one that could talk to me easily. Well, the Professor. So whenever Piotr had to leave, Doug usually got stuck babysitting me." Of course now they look almost the same age. "He'll always be dyadya. Even if I don't listen to him as much anymore." She gives Doug a bit of a grin. It has a little too much teeth and a wicked edge to it.
"Well, I wasn't just thinking of tactics. More of... how to put it... creativity, I guess." Giving a self-depricating grin, Doug comments, "Not that you -have- to have it, but sometimes, it's good to keep an opponent guessing. Otherwise, what's the point of living?"
Glancing towards Illyana, Doug sighs. "She's grown up way too fast," the young blonde notes, glancing back at the leather outfit she's wearing and shaking his head. "It doesn't seem -right-."
Wrinkling his nose at Illyana, Doug turns back to Jocelyn. "So, you want to test how fast you think on your feet? Start with this: how do you find out if the wild demon you're fighting are -intelligent- before you punch them?"
Jocelyn's brain is trying to rationalize that whole age difference thing. Then she just chalks it up to more mutant weirdness when Doug asks his question. "Ideally, you don't, if you're in the middle of fighting. The time to find that out is before a fight," Jocelyn says. "You've got less than a second to react to most attacks of substance. I can go for a knockout punch or a kinetic blast to buy some space. Or I can try to go defensive and draw out some sort of statement from the demon, but depending on the capabilities of the demon, which I assume are unknown, I could be asking for injury. Ultimately, the only way I know of to determine if something is intelligent is to have it speak, even if I can't understand it's language".
Illyana finishes off Doug's apple and worries the core as she listens to Jocelyn. "Well. You certainly got her to talk about fighting." Illyana says in a sort of 'bored now' tone. Suddenly a stepping disk opens right beneath Jocelyn, tumbling the poor girl into Limbo and winking back out. Illyana eyes the apple core and mehs, eyeing Doug's plate again.
Landing in Limbo, Jocelyn's treated to a landscape that she only caught a glimpse of earlier. Illyana can put her portals almost back-to-back, making it almost seem like she's teleporting place-to-place on Earth. But not this time. Jocelyn is set down in a blasted, twisted landscape. Trees are few and far between, the ground dry and sandy and Things seem to slither in the shadows cast by the outcroppings of rocks.
Sighing, Doug pushes the plate containing the other half of his sandwich towards Illyana, barely blinking an eye at Jocelyn's disappearance. "Well, you read her dossier a long longer than I did," the young mutant sighs, looking at her reproachfully. "You -did- make sure she's being supervised, right? Because somehow I'm not sure that living in Detroit is going to prepare her." How long was she going to be in there for, Limbo-time, anyway? "Seems like we could have used the Danger Room instead."
At least, given her skills, talents, and training, she was probably already almost qualified for the main team... not your usual student trainee. So it was a question of how she would react to being thrown into a situation, how she assessed it... and then after that, perhaps, see how she melded into being part of a -team- instead of being self-reliant.
Illyana flashes Doug a smile as she picks up the other half of his sandwich. She takes a bite, chewing, which then slows a bit at Doug's observation. "Didn't I give those back to you?" Uh-oh. "Sure. S'ym's watching her." Because the huge purple demon took such good care of *her* growing up. "And yeah, could have. But that's got safeties and she knows that the staff here won't hurt her." Illyana? Well... Illyana's a bit different.
Slowly shaking his head, Doug sighs. "Well... she'll be back any second, right?"
There was a brief pause. "You -did- say time flows differently, so... you can bring her back any second, right? Like, a day in Limbo..."
Another few seconds. "... okay, any second now, Illy..."
Yes, his voice was getting a bit more excited the longer he waited...
"When I was gone, it was just a moment for Piotr. Ten years for me." Illyana says, chewing. "And then when Trask took us, I was under for a week. Do you know how long that was in Limbo? An army's worth of demons, with no one to keep them in line? Without them knowing if they still had a leader that cared or wanted them?" She takes her time chewing, watching him with those flat, cold eyes that look nothing like those of the child she was. The moment draws on and, without any kind of fanfare there's the flare of another stepping disk, depositing Jocelyn right where Illyana got her. But likely worse for wear as a day passed in Limbo without any immediate food or water and the horrors of somewhere that while she calls it 'Limbo', others call 'Hell'.
What? Jocelyn had been eating her meal and having a conversation, and then she found herself in Hell. It didn't look anything like Cleveland. Those jokes would never be funny again. What is only a moment for Illyana and Doug is a solid day, give or take, for Jocelyn, and it shows when she is dropped back into the cafeteria. Her clothes are way dirtier, torn in a few places, and she has a rather distinct odor after spending a day in Limbo trying to survive. Her long red hair is completely tangled and a disaster, and she has a tired, worn expression on her face. There are a few cuts and bruises on her, but she looks as if she's otherwise in one piece.
The teen doesn't speak at first, looking between Doug and Illyana, perhaps a little shocked at her sudden re-emergence into the cafeteria to speak properly.
Shoulders slump in relief as Jocelyn is brought back. Quickly moving Jocelyn's tray towards here, Doug offers a comforting smile. "Have a drink, some food first. Take some time." Let's see if that knocked a little bit of Detroit out of her, and get her to think a bit more about other possibilities.
Illyana continues to casually eat the rest of Doug's sandwich, as if she hadn't just possibly traumatized someone. "C'mon, it's not like demons are y'know, *untrustworthy* or something. After being left alone. For a long, long time." Pittiless blue eyes turn back to look at Jocelyn.
Jocelyn takes a few bites of her burger. She raises her eyebrow at the fact that it's still warm. She then takes a drink of milk and looks back at Illyana. "It depends on the demon," Jocelyn replies. "Some were worthy of trust. Some weren't". At least it sounds like she attempted communication this time around instead of just shooting everything in sight. "At least those I could talk with". She continues putting food into her mouth. Unsurprisingly, she's now rather hungry for food that wasn't in Limbo.
"That's pretty much life for you. Not everything is black and white," Doug notes, smiling a bit. He does raise an eyebrow at 'trustworthy' demons, which leads him to glance at Illyana, one crooked eyebrow essentially communicating 'so, was that for -real-, or did you give more instructions?' Because, really... 'Demons being left alone for a long, long time'?
Getting up, Doug goes to fetch a glass of water for Jocelyn, leaving the two to talk for a minute.
"No. They're not. Not at the end of the day. They don't have souls. They don't have honor. They'll keep their word if you bind them to it, but it's a slippery literal promise. Never *trust* a demon." What does that say about her? But then most don't actually know about her missing soul. Just the demon sorceress bit. Illyana tells Jocelyn as the blonde dusts her hands free of crumbs.
"Soulless," Jocelyn repeats, ignoring the fact that Doug heads off to get water. "I guess I got pretty good at getting a couple to keep promises then," Jocelyn replies. She had to do some bargaining at times, but it wasn't as though there were a lot of things for her to actually eat or drink in Limbo, so she had to convince something that it was better to keep her alive than outright kill her. She didn't initially expect, when she saw the first demon, that she was in any real danger, after the initial spar on the yard awhile ago. That encounter changed her outlook on her situation pretty quickly though, as she'd managed to escape without killing the demon. "So if they can't be trusted, why work with them?" Jocelyn asks.
"Because they're useful tools. Because I've been dealing with them since I was six, so I know *how* to." Illyana gives a soft huff of breath, a humorless laugh. "I understand demons better than people, most days." She says, more to herself than anyone else. "Besides. If they'd killed you? I'd just bring you back. You might be missing a few things but... Eh." Illyana's gaze stays level and even through the whole conversation, as though so little matters to her.
"Just...wait. Bring me back from the dead?" Jocelyn asks. That was not a particularly comfortable thought to her. People don't come back from the dead! Right? "That place I was in. What was it?" Well, the girl is a little on edge right now, what with having spent a day in Hell. That'll put most people more than a little bit off.
"I usually just call it Limbo. Not quite here, not quite theere, y'know? It's out of space and out of time. More technically it's a minor Hell dimension, but I start calling it 'hell' and there's the fact there's demons and people start thinking I'm talking about the Christian Hell. Which is really more Mephisto's thing than mine." Illyana's head tilts over to the side a bit as she looks at the other girl, blonde hair sliding over as she does so. "No holograms and safeties or telepathic illusions. Just your worst nightmares, and they want to play with you."
Lovely. Jocelyn chews her food. She's not having the massive freakout some people might have. She's too stubborn for that, and besides, she already had a bit of one when she was in Limbo. There wasn't any reason to freak now that she was back in Xavier's. "So that's why it was, what, a day or so there? And maybe a few minutes here?" Jocelyn asks. She's hanging out firmly somewhere between denial and reflection right now in terms of how she's dealing with it. At the moment, she's more on the reflection side of things. A nod is given about the worst nightmares, but she doesn't comment on it. That had been clear enough to her.
Illyana nods to Jocelyn. "You could live and die there before time passed here at all. One of my problems when I was a student was I'd teleport through time. Past, future..." It's something she's gotten over, for the most part. "I'll introduce you to folks, sure. Help you understand what being part of a team means. But at the end of the day? It's all about surviving, and what you're willing to do to do that."
"And sometimes that means striking a deal with a being most people would have a fight or flight reaction," Jocelyn says. She lets the rest of it sink in as well as she works on her meal. "Listen, I'm sorry, but I think I'm a bit shaken up. I'm going to grab some food and find myself somewhere to think. Apologize to Doug for me? I think he's gotten lost not in time, but in the line," Jocelyn tells Illyana.
Illyana gives another of those smirks she always seems to have and gives Jocelyn a nod. "Get some rest. And enjoy being able to do so where you know you're safe. It's a luxury."