1963-08-22 - House Call
Summary: {$summary}
Related: It's Chinatown, Elusive Illusions Part II
Theme Song: None
strange illyana piotr kitty 

Illyana sits on the foot of Piotr's bed, legs curled under her and knobbly knees sticking out from under her medical gown. She's holding a hand of cards, frowning at them, moving them from left to right, then back again, then holding them upside down.

Just as Piotr's legendary patience might start to shift— just a little, she sets her cards down on the service table set over his thick legs.

"<Gin,>" she declares, in Russian, letting Piotr look the cards over. "<I think. Again?>" she asks, scratching at the bandages under her gown for the umpteenth time. Two bullets in the midrib— perforated lungs, and she'll be coughing up blood for a few weeks. But a survivable wound, all things considered.


It's unusual for Piotr to be fully armored-up on the grounds. It's a state he typically reserves for actual, active use, not sitting around in his sweatpants playing cards.

The shallow cut across his cheek and two deeper gashes through his right shoulder, however, are more than unusual. Until yesterday, they were assumed to be impossible.

Piotr looks up from his cards and blinks once, leaning over to peer at the cards Illyana has set down. "<Gin,>" he agrees with a rumbling laugh, setting his own hand's worth of cards down. "<I don't understand how you can be so good at this game when you have been playing it for, what? A week? Less?>"


"<It's just counting. It's not hard,>" Illyana tells her brother, trying to shuffle the cards. She makes a mess of it at the bridge, and has to take several seconds to straighten them all out. "<There are four kings, four tens, four of everything. I just do the math in my head— if I have two queens, there are 52 cards in the deck— you have ten cards, I have ten. I just calculate the math. Can't you do that?>" she inquires, dealing out ten to both of them with a sloppy, unpracticed hand.


"<I am an artist, Snowflake, remember? My people do not do math,>" Piotr replies in a playful tone, leaning back to watch while Illyana shuffles the cards. Absently, he brings a hand up to cover his wounded shoulder — no blood or bandages, just exposed, chinked metal. "<Mikhail was always more clever than me. You take after him, I think.>"

As he reaches out to accept his new hand's worth of cards, Piotr pauses and casts a slow, curious look around the room. "<That is odd,>" he murmurs, his posture straightening. "<Do you smell something?>"


Surprisingly enough, this time, he's wearing the Cape. Dressed in battle gear and with the street lamp-light glinting from the gem set within the Eye of Agamotto, Dr. Strange strides down the deserted street in a section of Chinatown. He's received a few sideways glances from the locals and apparently looks just off-kilter enough in his current dusk-blue leather garb (or perhaps it's the fierce expression on his face, the one he wears to make his opponent think twice about attacking him from the moment they meet) that no one accosts him. The night air is still here, between the buildings, and he can sense from life experience that dew will collect on the plants lining windowsills and outside shops.

A temporal wave of complete oddity brought him here, to this section of sidewalk outside a little noodle shop, now closed for the night. It had been oily and disturbing, this ripple in reality that had set his teeth on edge as he was making tea earlier in the evening. He stands in the beam of a street lamp; it flickers, whether from long use or from interference that he emits, who knows. The light draws a perfect circle about him and illuminates a puddle that he thought was water at first. But no, not water - mostly-dried blood. He kneels down, careful to keep any part of himself and clothing away from the stained area, and reaches out. His fingertips hover near it, not quite touching, as he murmurs aloud what he sees, an old habit from his surgical days:

"Not too old, enough to indicate that an artery was hit, but no arterial spray…" His voice drops away as he closes his eyes and summons up his Third Sight. It's another way of seeing the world, literally; everything from ghosts to ley lines are present when he does it. His eyes remain closed but before him, the world lights up into a technicolor display of madness that only few can interpret correctly. The blood before him glows weakly, once full of life, but now…shadows. To someone walking by, his face looks quietly concerned, eyes shut away in concentration. This blood is tainted with darkness and one he's getting to be familiar with: demon-ilk. Those of black spirit and intent and not of this reality. Had this creature really slipped past the Sorcerer Supreme? No…no, Strange wasn't that distracted. Then his posture freezes up. Underneath the nebulous inky shapes that swirl in the blood is…NO. Illyana?!

He jerks upright as if yanked by ropes and looks around wildly, more reacting than thinking as he blinks away the Third Sight that still overlays everything he takes in. He has to take a deep breath and center himself once again in order to locate her magical signature. He feels it, far off and towards Xavier's Institute, and immediately gestures with harried sharpness. The air and reality screams like a torn piece of cloth as the golden temporal gate shifts open to the tunnel that leads into the Institute's main entrance room.

With Cape billowing behind him and a wave of electric Mystic intent spreading before him like a bow wave, Strange strides into the room. He's greeted with the wide-eyed look from a young student, who drops their books and stares at him, and he dismisses them with a scoff. Illyana's Mystic signature pings loudly, off in the direction of the deeper rooms and halls of the Institute, and Strange gestures twice: once to close the rift before him and yet another to open a new one.

Strange enters the Infirmary room with eyes a-glow and hair nearly standing on end to see his apprentice lying on a bed, bandages about her waist and playing cards in hard. Another person is in the room, with skin seemingly all of silver metal, and the male receives a thunderous glare from Strange.

"What…on earth happened?" he asks into the silence of the room, gaze now on Illyana.


The hair on the nape of Illyana's neck prickles at the first teleporter manifesting into life so nearby— Strange makes no effort to conceal his arrival, and reality twitches around her as he forces himself to be somewhere he Oughtn't.

"I think it is—" She's cut off by the snap-hiss of a portal manifesting near to them, lights abruptly flaring at odd angles and a temperature differential making for odd eddies of air and current in the room. She looks otherwise unsurprised, lifting a brow at Strange when he dashes into the room.

"-Strange," she concludes, shuffling the cards and dealing them. They'd moved things around so she and Piotr can sit feet to feet on the bed for their game, and Illyana's at least partially upright. Which is good!

"I was…" She glances at Piotr, looking for the right word. "Shooted. Shot? Shot," she says, the tense escaping her momentarily. "I was shot. Twice." She hauls up the hem of her medical scrubs— at least she's wearing some underclothes. Two bandages adorn her skinny ribcage, four inches above the lower edge of her thoracic cage. The bandages are black, rather than red, as if she's seeping oil instead of blood.

"No one told me about guns," she says, a bit pointedly. "This is new knowledge for me. Did not enjoy being shot," she says, checking her hand and shuffling around a few playing cards.


The metal man's eyes snap to the door when Strange makes his entrance, his brow furrowing in confusion even as Illyana answers his question. He draws his lips back into a thin frown at the look Strange has fixed him with but mentally stomps down on the urge to get defensive; instead, he stays quiet and allows Illyana to respond to the question.

"Your education has number of gaps we need to fix, little sister," Piotr rumbles quietly, keeping his eyes on Strange even as he arranges the cards in his hand.


He acknowledges the metal man's soft comment to Illyana with a softer version of his earlier glare, this time tempered with inevitable curiosity. Sister? This…metallic man is related to his apprentice?

"I don't believe we've met," Strange says aside to him as he walks across the room and over to Illyana. He doesn't mean to crowd in so close to her supposed-brother if he does as he stands beside the bed, arms crossed. "If I may see the wound sites, Illyana." His medical mantra, 'First, do no harm', is etched in his bones and ethics. If the Institute's medical staff did a sub-par job on suturing, no only will he fix it himself, but he'll be certain to speak with them - and he won't be kind about it.


"You didn't /ask/," Illyana points out to Strange, at the unspoken question— why hadn't they met? She lifts the hem of her scrubs away, reaching up to hold her wrist against the top of her head. She's a skinny thing, with ribs to count. "This is my brother, Piotr Rasputin," Illyana tells the magus, nodding at Piotr. "Brother, this is Dr. Strange, my … tutor," she says, lips working into a moue at the admission she still needs instruction.

The wounds under the bandages are ugly, but look old— as if weeks had passed, not mere hours. To a mortal surgeon's eye, they're reddened and angry but healing well. However, anyone with a lick of magical sense could tell that powerful demonic energies had accelerated that healing a hundredfold. Wispy shadows still leak from the tender flesh, almost invisible under direct light.


Under the circumstances, Piotr can't find it in himself to be bothered about the crowding. He's kind of used to it, besides. He tries to scoot his massive bulk back a little bit to give Strange some more room, grimacing as his knees rattle the little lap table around in the process.

Evidentally, Piotr has heard at least some stories about Strange, since he receives a rather warm smile from the metal man once Illyana has made introductions. "Doctor. Thank you for looking after Illyana since… returning home," he says, words briefly faltering. He's made significant progress, but he's still processing the whole 'Limbo' thing.


Strange is leaning in close to Illyana's scrawny ribcage, squinting at the reddened pucker-marks from the bullets, when he realizes that Piotr just thanked him for something. He has found the wounds healing at an oddly rapid pace and he sighs slowly as he pulls away, gesturing for the young woman to pull her gown back down over the bandages. While he isn't quite sure what is causing the faint smoke-like wisps and black staining on the sterile wrap, he can do something about the physical wounds, at least. He has an idea, some faint glimmer of a concept that /may/ apply to this situation, but the surgeon in him hesitates. Not enough information.

"I appreciate the gratitude, Piotr, but it isn't all my doing," he replies distractedly, perhaps meaning to be enigmatic and perhaps not. "New bandages, at the very least," he continues, his voice now pitched to himself. He steps away from the bed and rummages through the drawers with little respect for the staff's organization. With surprising speed, Strange has returned to the bedside and sets down a tray of instruments on the little side-desk. Rubbing alcohol, sterile gauze pads, more wrap, anything he would need to make sure that the wounds at least stop leaking blood and…liquid black stuff. He begins by cleaning the tools with rubbing alcohol. His image, clothing and all, is most definitely a contrast to the work of his busy hands. Very few have ever seen Dr. Strange in medical mode while wearing the Cape. "If you will remove all of the bandaging, Illyana, I'm going to redress the wounds. Any pus, foul odor, excessive swelling, fever, or increased bleeding since after you were treated?"


Illyana drops the hem of her gown when Strange walks away, then rolls her eyes expressively at Piotr when Strange returns mere moments later to clean the wounds.

"I do not know what pus is," Illyana says, shaking her head. "Only the black smoke." She peels the bandages the rest of the way off, leaving the two wounds visible in the light, and stretches sideways with the limber bonelessness of youth so Strange can inspect the wounds. Aside from the odd trailers of black smoke that seem to be contaminating the bandages, they /are/ healing rather spectacularly. There's barely any blood— on closer inspection, not ever a scap to protect the wound, either.

"But I feel fine. Tired and irritated, but fine," Illyana says, wincing as Strange pokes her ribs.

"That hurts, be careful," she snaps, mumbling a curse in Russian under her breath.


Truth be told, Piotr probably looks a lot less perturbed by the state of his sister's wounds than he ought to. He shares a quick, sympathetic smile with her while Strange's back is turned and lifts his good shoulder in a shrug.

"I wonder how much of this is Limbo," Piotr muses aloud, leaning back on his hands as he watches Strange work with polite curiosity. "And how much might be mutation. I am encountering many who heal quickly, lately," he rumbles, allowing himself a small grimace as his hand once again goes to his cut shoulder.


Strange's steel-blue eyes flicker to Piotr and catch him touching his shoulder. The doctor is surprised and momentarily pauses in cleaning the second bullet wound. What he thought was a dent in Piotr's shoulder is the equivalent to a cut on a human. Not wanting to bring too much attention to it (after all, if the metallic man is concerned about it, Strange will offer aid if asked), he returns to his task and finishes up wiping the cold alcohol from the wound site on Illyana's torso. He is trying to be mindful of not causing Illyana pain and if one looks very closely at him, he too flinches in a small way, about the corners of his eyes, when she flinches. His hands are steady now, due to his practiced flow of subtle magic into his damaged nerves, but he can't stop her nerves from telling her that everything hurts.

"From what I can and sense," he says as he places the used sterile cleaning gauze on the tray, "it is not of this world in the least. I have felt it before, but…" He pauses to gather a good explanation for Piotr's sake; "It's like a difference of flavors. There is green tea and there is peach green tea. Both are tea, one is sweeter." His impartial hands go to lay the packing of sterile pads across the wounds, but then he stops. He closes his eyes briefly and /looks/ again with his Third Sight.

The wound sites pulse with lurid colors laced through black, as if two fire opals had melted to liquid on her skin. He can see the dark magic at work, greedily healing the skin, returning its host to her proper state so it is no longer threatened by the possibility of the end of her existence. This next sigh is short and through his nose as he pulls away, crinkling the pads in his hands. "Illyana, explain to me what you did after you were shot, please."


"I… don't remember well," Illyana admits. She looks uncomfortable. Embarassed, almost.

"The gunshots were loud. It hurt— it hurt as much as an arrow wound." She rubs the back of her forearm, not looking at either man.

"I thought I was dying, then… then I was angry. I was /so/ angry," she admits. "I shouted at them." That's obviously an understatement.

"Then, the last thing I remember are shards of light, flying at me— I deflected several but couldn't orient my defenses. They broke through and hit me in the head. I have a lump," she says, turning her head to show Strange where she'd smacked her noggin against the pavement.


He carefully prods at the lump on Illyana head, the crow's feet at the corners of his eyes deepening with each flinch that she may give, before bringing his hands back and putting them out of sight as he folds his arms.

"It is quite a lump and with memory loss as well." He brings one hand forth to rub at his chin, his gaze flitting up and down her body before he squints thoughtfully. "You seem no worse for the wear regarding it, which is good news itself. However, your memory loss is most inconvenient." He means no judgment in the statement, none at all, though it does sound uncaring. The shards of light are something he'll need to look into, of course. However, there is no light in the demonic forces healing her wounds. "Piotr, you mentioned Limbo. I believe that Illyana does retain some powers that she…developed during her time there and yes, it being a Dark realm, perhaps her healing is being aided by demonic forces." His focus shift back to his apprentice and becomes laser-like, nearly predatory, as if anticipating her to attempt escape. "You'll need to meditate and suppress these powers. If you cannot, I will intervene."


As he listens, Piotr sits quietly and simply folds his arms across his chest, his eyes flicking between the doctor's hands and Illyana's face. He sits a touch straighter when addressed directly and his brow furrows, head tilting to one side as he takes the information in and rolls it around in his head.

"I see," Piotr rumbles, his tone pensive. His gaze drifts back to Illyana's face and his fingertips click quietly as he taps them against his biceps, thoughtful. "Surely, person using power has influence over its use," he says slowly, a tinge of hopefulness in his voice.


Illyana snorts at Strange's assessment of her injuries. "Of course it is," she says, as if that wasn't glaringly obvious. "How do you think I survived war in Limbo?" she asks him. "Cuts, blades, arrows, claws— the universe itself heals me when I'm injured enough. I cannot spend time waiting to heal while there are battles to win," she tells the Sorceror Supreme of Earth.

"Oshtur and Chthon fuel my magics but Limbo keeps me alive. Is natural part of progression," she says, with a dismissive wave, flicking her hair back from her face. "First I attain the Soulsword— all else flows from there. Limbo heals me when I am injured, prevents sickness and rot and age from settling into my flesh. Belasco said he had lived three hundred years or more on Earth. And we are all immortal on the plane of Limbo— that is, if the Sorceress Supreme wills it to be so," she says, cocking a brow at Strange.

Reminding him that she is no 'mere' amateur, despite her lack of prowess on Earth.


He can't help it, not in the least. Her one arched brow is returned with a shake of his head and a roll of his eyes off to one side. They linger on the tray of surgical instruments before flicking to her again.

"Then, by all means, /Sorceress Supreme/," he puts emphasis on the words, twisting them in a goad to his apprentice, "Show us that you can, at the very least, stop this smoke from staining the bandages." His chin juts out a bit as he crosses his arms more tightly than before, the muscles of his biceps outlined through his shirt sleeves. It should be easy for her, truly. If she can show him this, he can sleep a bit better. It means that he won't have to use any sort of suppression magic himself.


All of this magic stuff is far beyond Piotr's reckoning. As the master and apprentice begin their interplay, he falls quiet again, keeping that same mildly quizzical expression as his eyes flit from speaker to speaker in turn. No comments made aloud - the most he does is draw in a breath, puff up his cheeks, and then quietly exhale.


A single hand comes through the wall of the MedBay, lingering through the wall as someone on the other side begins to come into the room, only to stop midway. And it remains that way for a good ten seconds before the rest of Kitty Pryde makes an appearance. She looks much like she usually does — light wash jeans, faded t-shirt — all girl next door. Never menacing. Today, however, she also sports a red scarf, designed for winter, not warm weather. Maybe she's just unusually cold.

She manages a tight smile as her eyes flit between the patients that she'd left only an hour ago, and then back towards their visitor. Silently, she lifts her fingers and issues the trio a sheepish, nearly shy, three-fingered wave before glancing back towards the wall like she's interrupting something.

It's only then that she lifts a single finger, and slips through the wall again, only to return with a boardgames under her arm. The Game of Life was imminently important to get. So much so that Kitty even disappeared to the store to pick it up.


Illyana struggles to maintain her haughty bearing. On the one hand, she doesn't really want to intefere with the dark energies in her system. On the other hand, she doesn't want Strange to inhibit them. On the other, OTHER hand— she isn't sure she /can/, even if she wants.

She glares at him, then closes her eyes meditatively, reaching deep into her psyche. Looking for the power that sustains her body, trying to control it.

She grimaces, then cries out in pain, clutching her side. She coughs twice, brackishly, and whatever powers were keeping her from coughing up blood fail as rusty sputum dashes against her knuckles. The wounds start weeping red through her sides and the medical gown, though nowhere near as earnestly as the original wounds would have been haemhorraging.


Strange's heart rate has leapt with the sudden appearance from nowhere, literally /from the wall/, of another of Xavier's students. It triples when he sees his apprentice withdraw her powers and the consequences. He tears the Cape from about his throat, tossing it to one side heedless of where it lands, and fearlessly pushes both palms down onto the two bullet wound sites. It doesn't matter how Illyana reacts: he needs to keep pressure on them to aid in the clotting process.

"Everyone, please, move back!" His voice isn't quite pitched at a shout, just shy of it, and full of a surgeon's authority. He closes his eyes and eldritch light suddenly gloves his hands. It is light blue, the color of calm and coolness, the sweet refreshment of a summer's breeze and healing sunlight, and it attempts to sink into Illyana's skin around where his palms are pressed tightly to her skin, sealing in the bleeding.


Kitty's appearance earns a small smile and a return wave from Piotr, who looks much as the same as he did when she left: still metal, still home to several thought-to-be-impossible gashes in his hide.

And that's all he has time for before Illyana cries out and starts coughing up blood. Fortunately, perhaps, Piotr's immediate reaction is to swing himself out of the bed to make more room for her and Strange, sending the lap table clattering to the floor. It is very plain that he wants very much to reach out to his sister to offer some kind of physical support or at least contact, but he doesn't argue with Strange's demand for room. His jaw tightens, as do his fists.

Hopefully, the Sorcerer Supreme can work with a tense, irritated looking seven-foot metallic behemoth staring at him with precious little patience.


What did Kitty just walk in to?! Illyana's sudden transformation causes large hazel eyes to widen. The board game is dropped, and evidently the box isn't particularly stable. Tiny pink and blue pegs that typically represent people, skid along the floor in a would-be hazard for any unsuspecting person. While her instinct tells her to move forward to help, instructions heed otherwise, prompting the smaller-than-usual-seeming Kitty Pryde to offer the one thing she can. She grasps at Piotr's fisted hand, aiming to twist him around into a hug so he won't watch. While she hasn't the pure physical strength or power to move Colossus at will, she has steadfast gentleness that remains intact.

A raspy small voice, raspier from lack of use today, calls up to him, "Piotr," not Pete, not Petey, "look at me. Watch me." Her hazel eyes attempt to grant some measure of reassurance. She doesn't know Strange, but gloves are gloves and he seems to think he knows what he's doing.


Illyana grips Strange's shoulder in a small, rawboned fist, twisting the fabric until it clenches into a wad in her wiry fingers. She pants and whines and whimpers as the healing light enters her person, purging that shadowy smoke and replacing it with cleansing light of invigoration.

She looks up at Kitty, teeth gritted in pain, brows furrowed together in desperation— but thanks her silently with those cornflower blue eyes as she turns Piotr away from the sight.

It takes just a minute, really, and she finally by inches uncramps herself, hand releases the bundle of Strange's tunic, and she twists down to peer at her wounds. They've healed— much better than the shadowy mess had, though there are a pair of pretty pink scars the side of a penny on her ribs.

"It hurts, still, but… is good hurt," Illyana says, pensively, her own voice a bit raw from captured screams. "Like sore muscles, not… ingrown nail."


Somewhere beyond the focus of his spell, in which he hissed out the word "Changa" before pouring all of his will into the knitting-together of the flesh beneath his palms, Strange knows that her brother is looming. The newcomer, the quiet wall-walker, she's somewhere nearby too. In the corner of his vision, he sees Illy's hand and feels her iron grip on his shirt sleeve. He's sorry for causing her pain, but it's better than bleeding to death.

It's when he hears his apprentice's voice that he snaps from the spell-trance. He takes in a deep breath after realizing he's been holding it and sighs after hearing her explain her current state. "Thank the deities above and below," he murmurs, lifting his hands from her and needing to catch himself with one of them on the edge of the bed. The other goes to his temple and he blinks a few times as if realigning his thoughts. He spies the empty guest chair nearby, where it sits empty and sterile with metal and thin seat padding, and stumbles over to collapse in it. His Cape is forgotten on the floor and lies there, half kicked beneath the infirmary bed.


Most people would have difficulty convincing Piotr to turn away from his little sister in pain, especially when he is even larger and stronger than normal in his armored state. But Kitty is not most people, and all it takes is the gentle touch and her small voice to convince the mountain to move. The only thing he doesn't do is return the hug — right now, he doesn't trust himself to control his strength enough to avoid hurting her.

Only when Illyana actually speaks does Piotr cast a quick look over his shoulder, his shoulders slumping in relief. Now he slips a grateful arm around Kitty's shoulders, still mindful that he's a significantly less comfortable version of himself to be held against. "<Snowflake? Are you okay?>" he asks, eyes flicking briefly to Strange as if seeking permission before he inches back towards the bed.


Kitty remains strong and level as Strange goes to work over his apprentice: her expression calm, cool, and collected; her posture still; and her touch on Piotr gentle and even. Illyana's voice, prompts a flicker of her lips as relief washes over her. The arm around her shoulders wins an even easier smile and she sighs contentedly. A win for the good guys.

Her hands drop back to her sides only to be clasped behind her back and her head cants at the collapsed-on-his-cape doctor, still not quite sure what just happened. She swallows hard and then notes quietly herself, "Never a dull moment."

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