1963-09-21 - Administered Absolution
Summary: Illyana gives Kitty a tour of her castle in Limbo. Kitty finds a memorial that includes a statue of her. Things get weird.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: None
illyana kitty 

Limbo is… pretty in a surreal way. Once you get used to it, of course. It's wild and uninhibited by physics so there are vast mountains right next to glaciers, adjacent to jungles that brush against deserts. It can be crossed in the span of mere hours, the topology having little reference or relevance.

But it's pretty, and it's not all predicated on facing sunshine or even growing uphill.

Illyana's castle, of course, is at the 'center' of her little demesne, and it looks like a child's drawings of a castle and treehouse come to life. Rooms are tacked on at odd angles, with little regard for architectural symmetry or even physics. Entire suites are connected to the main house by nothing more than a freefloating walkway (with no railings, which is a bit unnerving even given that gravity is a little notional).

Illyana, of course, relishes the chance to show off her home to Kitty, dashing from room to room like an eager child and not the dignified queen she is— with a small host of demonic servants lurking nearby, paying sullen service to her every whim.

"And here! This will be your room," she says, banging open a door and gesturing grandly at a giant bedroom. A huge four-poster bed, dressed, a closet, a vanity, and what looks like a waterfall of diamonds suspended in illuminated water which occupies an entire wall. "Is not bad, huh? Second biggest room in castle, right after mine," she says, proudly.


As someone so rapt with science in general, and physics in particular, Kitty has looked rather dumbfounded through most of her tour of Limbo. Her lips gape, her eyes remain wide, and her posture oddly open to each defiance of laws — scientific or otherwise — that Limbo seems to defy. While she struggles to comprehend the reality of the space, as the minutes pass, she becomes increasingly aware of how different life has been for Illyana. And, whether or not the intention, her empathy for the other young woman has grown in spades.

While life in Limbo makes little sense to Kitty, life on Earth must make little sense to Illyana.

She peeks into the room, and her face pales. "Wait — " she turns to face Illyana and her face finally loses its awed edge. "What? What do you mean my room?" And then, with that still-present air of surprise, "Yana, this is amazing. Your space, your castle, I can't…" she hasn't quite come to a place where she can articulate what she feels about being here. "…how did you get all of this? I mean, I know you're like sorceress supreme here, right? And that must mean you can just magic it into being?" Her nose wrinkles. Magic continues to be something that defies Kitty's understanding. "Which I guess is just science I don't understand yet. Probably. Maybe."


"Yes, more or less," Illyana confirms. "Is not really… is not /science/, not like I understand physics," she admits— the topic baffles her as much as the non-Euclidean nature of Limbo baffles Kitty. "No cause and effect. Is only potential, then is reality. So— potential everywhere. The air is potentially breathable, but is also, maybe, taffy. Limbo responds to willpower and focus. I have strongest will, so Limbo listens to me most of all." She climbs onto the bed and bounces on it aimlessly, in weird slow-motion. "So I think, 'I need diamond', and — " she holds a hand out, and a diamond appears in her palm. She shrugs, tossing it away, and it vanishes into a misty spray of light before scattering across the ground. "But is easier here — this is the Low Place. Two places in my kingdom, Low Place and High Place. Most potential in Low Place, but High Place is easier to cross to other worlds," she explains. "Outside of my kingdom is harder to do some things— some other spots like my Kingdom where is dangerous for even me," she admits. "Some demons have so much willpower I cannot simply decide to unmake them. S'ym was strongest of all— cannot kill him by thinking. And is funny to see wasps stinging him when he curses my name," she giggles. It's a weird contrast to her girlish figures, that subject.

"Oh! Come, I show you something else!" she says, leaping off the bed and dashing out the door. She bangs down the hallway, but she's out of sight before Kitty can follow her trail, leaving the phase-shifting mutant to have to pick a door at random to try and figure where Illyana went.


The explanation does little to clarify Limbo to Kitty. "Potential," she murmurs quietly. "But energy can neither be created nor destroyed, so… maybe that's the potential?" the question is more to herself than anyone else, of course, trying to understand Limbo in terms of Earth-science isn't particularly productive. Kitty Pryde resolves not to question, but instead to linger and allow herself to just be amazed. There's little more to be done anyways. The diamond that comes and goes at will prompts Kitty's face to scrunch into an odd sort of scowl in an effort to tease apart what a diamond means in Limbo. "It's like it's just carbon," she states openly. "Like graphite. Common…"

When Illyana disappears however, her exit comes as a huge surprise. "W-wait!" she stammers as she tries to traipse after the Queen of Limbo, only to enter the now-empty hallway. Her shoulders sink and she peeks about the empty space. "Yana?" she calls quietly, but only silence answers her, prompting a vague frown.

"Alright. Let's see what's behind door number one," slowly she treads to the room across the hall. Carefully, slowly, she turns the handle and peeks inside.


It's… a garden. A strange garden, but definitely a garden, in a grove that's made to look larger by the use of taller trees and bushes near the perimeter and flowering shrubs closer to the walkway through the middle. It's a little path, barely thirty feet long, but the blushing red orchids (which have teeth, do not touch) and the blue mutant daisies give it a sense of… melancholy, and anger. Some flowers can only be of Limbo, but others look like crude child's recollections of flora given life.

At the end of the little pathway are a pair of statues— and two familiar faces. One of them, rendered in onyx, is Ororo Munroe. There's no doubt of the strong, regal features or the haughty and yet compassionate tilt of her chin. The other, in blue marble… is Kitty herself. Perhaps a few years aged from the girl examining the marble, but very clearly her. There are no other markers or symbols around, but it's obvious this is some kind of shrine or memorial.

"Kitty? Kitty!" Illyana's voice echoes, muffled by the plants. She seems to find the open door behind Kitty's approach, because her voice takes on a shrill, worried tone. "Kitty! No, come ba—" She dashes down the path only to find Kitty examining the two statues, a look of horror on her face.

And then she steps back two paces and of all things, she stands behind a nearby bush. Not hiding from sight but… concealing her features? A glance at her face before the foliage conceals it reveals pain and abject shame, of all things.


The garden calls to Kitty. The strange flora draw her in. Like a moth to a flame she follows the path. Sorrow tugs on her subconscious, yet she doesn't wholly understand why. There's no reason for it, save for the rendition of the flowers that represent something she can't quite comprehend. Not in the present. And likely not in the past. Like Dorothy, she follows the path to its logical end, stopping upon the statues and staring at the pair in their glory.

The first, while wholly impressive, doesn't mean anything to Kitty. The second, however, causes her to freeze. She stares at her face preserved in blue marble as she wordlessly considers what it means. The tremble in her hands and stiffness in her body grant her pause as her fingers reach out to gently run over statue-Kitty's cheek.

The apple of her own cheek, rendered in marble, only causes her lips to gape with that same confusion seen throughout Limbo. Yet the gaping takes on a wholly different edge as her eyes blink hard. The confusion doesn't easily dissipate, but being here, in this place at some kind of shrine or memorial for her causes a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.

It's only as she touches the statue that the sound of Illyana's voice truly sinks in, and something in Katherine Pryde's brain breaks. She twists around quickly to try to catch the other young woman concealing her face. "Yana! What — How?! This is me! How is this — this isn't possible!"


Illyana isn't just hiding shame. She's crying, and embarassed to be seen weeping. She's not one of those girls who cries prettily, either— her face is blotchy and her nose runs. She sniffles, wiping her nose on her sleeve, but makes only a token resistance to Kitty tugging her into the light. "Is… I told you, I… we were f-friends," she says, sniffling. "Here. In Limbo. You came to save me, Cat," she says, gesturing forlornly at the statue. "You and 'Ro. But Belasco trapped you here so you stayed, and Ro taught me magic, and you taught me swords and fighting and … and life, and about home," she says. "That's… that's why I was so glad I found you again, after I returned to Earth, because I… I thought…" her eyes slip guiltily to the statue, then flicker at Kitty's before dropping again, still trying to avoid the demand for truth in her eyes.


"But I… we've never… I met… I'm …" Kitty stammers as she stumbles over each of her words. Her shoulders tremble as she tries to process this information. "That's not possible this isn't — I'm not… she's…" There's no question the brunette is floored and confused. "We can't be… I'm … we've just met. You've been here…" She sighs heavily. "Yana, I don't understand. How is this possible?"


Illyana needs a few minutes to compose herself, sniffling and trying to get the words out. "Is… when I came here," she starts. "There were… there were the X-men. Did not know it was /them/, not, like.. I understand now, da? But, was only brief— moments. Was six, so I thought I imagined my brother and Logan and the others."

"But two stayed— you and Ororo. You were older, though.. not sure how much older. Ororo though, very old." She touches her face, making lines appear.

"Belasco hunted you both for years and years. Ororo made… a little garden. Safe place," she explains. "You fled to the Savage Place— hunted and killed. The… time there. It turned you into… a … monster," she whispers. "But always… always my friend. Taught me how to fight and fence, and hunt— we ran from Belasco so many times, running across mountains and rivers to get away from him. Always, though, S'ym would find us— would hurt yo— her, and then… take me back, until y-she, could break me out. Again, and again, and…. again…"


Kitty, despite herself, can feel her eyes burn with unbidden tears. She blinks hard. This woman isn't her, yet somehow, in a weird way, it is. And so, her hold on Illyana changes, moving to envelope the other woman in her arms. She draws the other woman close and tries to comfort the blonde in front of her by just clinging to the other woman.

"Shhhh," she shushes the other woman lowly, in an effort to console Illyana to the best of her ability. "I don't… I don't understand this, but," her head turns to face the face that she shares with the blue statue, "…I'm here and I'm alive, I'm me. Kitty Pryde. And I don't know how this is possible — this place continues to make no sense to me, but I see… I — " her shoulders sink. "I'm here. I'm your friend." But then with a quieter whisper, she asks, "But. What happened to her?" Because she really needs to know.


Illyana starts crying /harder/. She leans on Kitty for a while, but pushes herself away— not because she doesn't want the support, but because… it's clear she thinks she doesn't deserve it. Barely hanging onto Kitty with her fingertips.

"Ki-Kitty, I'm so sorry," she hiccoughs, shaking her head. "They were dead, they … all were dead. Piotr, Logan, and the others, they… I saw the bodies. He did something horrible to Kurt. Kurt tried to kill us but… you killed him."

"And… and then one day, we were too slow, and Belasco tricked us— both of us. You thought you killed him, b-but he turned you into a d-demon cat. You used to chase me and torment me and … some days, I knew you were in there, but… oh Kitty, I'm so sorry, please forgive me," Illyana says, great tears pouring down her cheeks.

"The day I killed Belasco, I … you attacked me, and I… I killed … you," she whispers.


Illyana's tears are met with continued support until the blonde pushes herself away, prompting Kitty's eyebrows to draw sharply together. "When… when … how…" she reaches for her chest as her face scrunches at the other woman. "How did they die?! Right away? When? You said they left! You said — " she continues to feel confused by the circumstances.

"Who. Belasco? Did Belasco do something to… Kurt?" her eyes narrow. "I. Was it me? Was she me?" the question begs to be asked. If she is one in the same as this other Kitty, she really would like to know.

Her lips part at the thought of being turned into a cat. "You. You.. why?" she finally asks as her eyes continue to burn. Illyana killed her. Or some version of her. Limbo is shaping up to be a place Kitty really doesn't want to be.


"They were /killed/, Katherine, Belasco… he killed them. He'd resurrect them again and again, use them to chase me or torment you," Illyana sobs. "Monsters— wearing their faces. When I first saw Logan, alive— I hid. It was days until I realized it was not the monster who chased me."

"I don't— I don't /know/ if it was you, if Cat and you are the same person," Illyana admits, frustration in her sobs. "She looked like you, at least before Belasco cursed her— she talked like you, sounded like you. But … you were here for years and years. At least ten years, maybe… maybe more? I don't know. I was just a child. They died one by one, until it was just you on the run, and Roro in her garden. But the day… the day I killed Belasco, he threw everything at me. Demons, S'ym, … finally, you, and you were.. like /animal/, you were crazy and trying to kill me. I … I had no choice, Kitty, I am so sorry, I am /so sorry," she whimpers.


Limbo suddenly feels incredibly awful, like a nightmare that she can't fully understand. The reality of her potential would-be future (or not?) weighs heavily on her. Her shoulders feel heavy, and her chin drops slightly as the tremble in her hands continues. She swallows hard as she struggles to understand what happened to Illyana in this place. "So… she… Cat… she…" Kitty looks back to the statue, "…helped raise you? I helped raise you? Some…" her eyes blink hard. Kitty squints as her brain implodes.

And then, with a weird measure of odd empathy, Kitty looks to the statue and then back to Illyana. "Yana. It's not. If you had no choice — " her jaw tightens and she reaches out to squeeze Illyana's shoulder. "I know me. I know what I think. And I…" her eyes blink hard fighting against tears. "I wouldn't have wanted to hurt you — I know that because I know me and there's no way I would've rescued you time and again if I didn't care and I wouldn't have wanted to hurt you — "


Illyana nods and cries a bit more, but finally gets control of her emotions. "I did not want to, Ca- Kitty," she says. "I really did not. You were not in control. Belasco… it was that bastich again," she snarls. "He took all from me. Roro, you, my friends, my /life/," she snarls.

"But.. yes. You did. We spent years together," she says, moving her shoulders in an awkward shrug. "That's how I knew what foods you liked. Books. Toys you had. Even about your faith and family."

"I… I forgot, or I… didn't want to remember that you weren't— weren't Cat. My Cat," she sniffles. "I just saw you and… I wanted it all to be okay again. Pretend this—" she gestures at the statues, the memorial garden. "Pretend this didn't happen."


Kitty blinks owlishly, feeling eery about the entirety of the situation, but she nods slowly. She reaches out to draw Illyana back into that same hug. It's weirdly protective, but just the same, she can offer, "I'm not her — I know I'm not. But I know how she thought," Kitty thinks she does, anyways, "and she would forgive you for all of this — you're not to blame for protecting yourself from whatever that awful Belasco turned her into, turned any of them into."

She clears her throat. "It happened. It shaped you. You need to know that this happened, and learn from it. Don't be like him. Don't let this place get the better of you — "


Illyana's head wags agreement, but something remains in her eyes. Haunted. Unsure. "Da— yes," Illyana tells Kitty, quietly. "It happened. I… I will always try. Helps— you help. Piotr helps," she says, venturing a strained smile. "Is good to see that things are not as permanent as Belasco promised."

"I am scared, Kitty," she whispers, after a moment. "Am scared that I am what Belasco wanted me to be— that I am going to become him. Eventually. I can see it in my reflection, sometimes," she whispers. She checks for mirrors, but finds none. "Horns. A black halo. I know… I know how easy it would be to become him." She touches the amulet she keeps hidden under her dress, barely visible as a lump under the material. "How little of me that is human remains."


"Fight it, Yana," Kitty urges as she reaches out to grasp the other woman's shoulders. "You are human. Live in that humanity. I believe you can do it. I believe — " Her hazel eyes seek out Illyana's blue ones and she, rather desperately, cheers the younger woman to cling to the part of her that is human. "Take our friendship. Our love. Piotr loves you so much, and he's trying so hard to protect you. And I, I want to help you. Please, let me. I care. I do." She looks towards her statue, "You had my friendship in another lifetime. And you have it in this one. I promise you, I will try to — " understand. Be there. "But I need you to embrace your humanity. Please Yana. Please."

Her eyes burn, prompting her to clamp them shut. "I… we need to help you. I.." her voice cracks. "I took care of you once," apparently, "you're my family. Let me help you. We, we," she emphasizes the word, "can help you, but you need to let us. Not just in how to live on Earth, but how to… how to be part of a family. To love and care for each other. Lana… Please."


I … I will try, Kitty," Illyana whispers. She hugs Kitty fiercely, nodding. "I will try. Whatever you and Piotr say— I will try to do. I will prove you right," she murmurs— but her tone is clearly one of trying to convince herself of it, rather than the other way around.

"I need you too, Kitty," she whispers.

But her face is haunted— and it's clear that as much as she's trying to reassure Kitty that things can get better, there's a part of the lean, warrior girl that is clearly convinced by the idea that no matter how much she tries… things cannot get better. That her humanity might be well and truly lost, forever."


Kitty's grasp tightens around Illyana, drawing her ever closer as if by the sheer power of her hug she can fully restore Illyana's humanity. If will is the modus operandi of Limbo, Kitty Pryde wills Yana to humanity. "I need you to be okay, I need — " to finish Cat's work. "Cat," because that isn't Kitty, "tried to rescue you constantly. Let me finish that," for the other version of Katherine Anne Pryde. "There's a lot of things in this world I'm not good at, Yana, but loving people is one I understand."

A long pause follows the words. "She taught you to fight," in a way only Kitty could, "but I can maybe… just take care of you like my sister?" Because she never had a sister. "The Institute, I know it's a school," her eyebrows draw together, "but it's so much more than that. I can see this place was terrible to grow up in — that you were constantly in fear — but already you've defied it. When you came here, you lost everything and everyone you loved, but — " her eyes scrunch together " — by some miracle you were given people to care for you. And fate," or God, as Kitty would call him, "saw fit to bring you back to Earth. You can be more than what Belasco wanted from you. I know you can."


"Da, I… yes," Illyana whispers, nodding. Her expression is bleary-eyed, full of tears— but however wan her smile is, she smiles at Kitty. "Thank you, Katherine. I… I will try to be worthy of it," she says, resting her forehead against the other girl's. "Cat rescued me from myself a thousand times. Guess it is right that you keep doing the work," she says. She sniffles, then kisses Kitty's cheek and hugs her with backbreaking force. "Thank you, Kitty. And… thank you for… forgiving me. For this," she says, finally breaking the hug. "This I will leave up… as long as I am Queen. So I will always remember what you did for me, and why you did it," she says, gesturing at the statues.


The fierce hug is returned with abandon. And once it's broken, Kitty reaches up with her sleeve to mop up tears from the other girl's face. "Th-thanks," the thought of the statues still unsettles her, especially considering this could, potentially, be some future that perhaps she will one day see. Although, there's no way to know. And no reason to get about it. Her jaw tightens. "Yana," there's a long pause. "The room that you said will be mine, was it intended for," her eyes flit towards the blue statue. Because living in a room intended for some alternate version of herself has levels of weird attached to it that Kitty can't comprehend.


"Oh. Oh! No, no!" Illyana hastens to assure Kitty. "Made it only last week," she promises Kitty. "During short trip here. I want to make it comfortable for you, or Piotr— or whomever— to come visit my home with me sometimes, so, I think to myself, 'what would Kitty like', and realize that it was stupid question— soft beds, good view, and something pretty to look at," she says, spreading her hands. "Can add anything to it you want, really, if you like it."


"Alright then," Kitty manages an easier relieved smile. "Well thank you," the grin extends, "for the hospitality. And consideration." There's a pause. "If I think of something, I'll let you know, but you actually did, really well. It's beautiful. Truly." She inhales a slow deep breath, "And I'm sure Piotr appreciates the consideration as well." She shrugs. "He really loves you, you know. He worries, probably more than he should. More than is healthy, I think."


"Da," Illyana agrees, wryly. "Piotr has always been worrier. Is bad for his heart. It's okay— we'll take care of him," she says, patting Kitty's arm reassuringly. "He is my brother, and I love him too. I will always be there to protect him," she declares, a bit self-importantly.

"So! Want rest of tour? I can show you the wasps!" she says gleefully, clapping her hands together in excitement. "Are like small doggies— very friendly, and they don't sting unless I tell them to."

"Most of the time, anyway. Come!" she says, tugging Kitty's hand.

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