1963-10-08 - A Friendly Milkshake
Summary: Chromosomes and milkshakes and feathers, oh my!
Related: None
Theme Song: None
illyana rosemarie 

Illyana discreet steps herself to an alley around the corner from the library. She's finally internalizing some of the admonitions from friends and family about not causing a stir every time she wants to run an errand— this way, she only scares the hell out of an old drunk who's too intoxicated to do more than gape as the prim yellow-haired girl appears in the middle of nowhere.

She checks to make sure her slim purse is still slung over her shoulder and makes a pace towards the library's main entrance. She wears a straight, knee-length skirt in canary yellow and a heavy cream colored sweater with a blouse neckline and worn partially open at the collar. Her sensible low-heeled white slippers slap against her heels with each quick step as she dives into the library, making a beeline for the information desk.

She bypasses the grouchy old senior librarian, having already learned THAT lesson, and heads towards Rosemarie's location at the info desk.

"Please excuse," she tells the woman, her voice a low murmur. "I am needing books for research, from your rare books section. Have note from Xavier's Institute," she says, handing her a research grant pass signed by the senior Librarian and Charles Xavier himself.


Bundled in a rather similar heavy sweater (though not really for fashion, but for security in concealment of the semi-bulky vest that Dr. Reed created out of basic functional necessity for her, bless his wonderful heart), Rosemarie is adding new index cards to the ever-growing number of plastic containers kept at her desk. Another shipment of new titles, more work for her.

The normalcy, however, is relished and reflected in her small smile, twisted at one side by the little scar. The nightmares have not gone, but at least the feathering remains a nocturnal event and no longer one of risky daytime. Scritch-scratch goes her pen, cataloging another novel by the latest popular crime author, and then a patron interrupts her.

It's a young woman that hands Rosemarie such a lofty note and the librarian's aide can't help the curious glance up from handwriting to youthful face.

"It's not common that Professor Xavier asks to access that section. I won't ask what you're researching - you probably can't tell me anyways." A rueful cant to her grin and then the assistant rises from her chair. "If you'll wait here a moment, I can get those books for you." With that and note in hand, she walks sedately off into the nearest hallway. The rare books section is far back, beyond key-locked doors and a sign-out sheet requiring not only a signature, but a thumb-print for verification. Rosemarie, through professionalism and pride, has been granted a set of keys for this very room. It takes her a moment of traveling down the empty hall and then another more to find the key in question.


Illyana heads into the stacks proper and pulls a few books off the shelf, seemingly at random— including an atlas, a dictionary, and a romance novel from the 'new arrivals' section. She moves to seat herself in one of the study rooms, leaving the door ajar so when Rosemarie returns she can just trundle the book trolley into the room. She sets her purse on the table and sits with patient silence, staring at the far wall until Rosemarie returns.

"Thank you," Illyana says as the books arrive. She helps Rosemarie lay them out the books. Some of them are books on genetics and history of human mutation— one of them is a first edition by a Dr. Milton, a noted geneticist from the 1800s.


It's difficult to keep her eyes from lingering on the books she lays out on the study desk. A speculative glance is shifted to Illyana. She seems…rather young to be researching such a depthful field, especially with the latest advancements in medicine. Still, it's not her place to be questioning the patrons. She can't read minds, after all.

Rosemarie is almost entirely out of the room when she pauses, half exited through the sound-proofed door, and asks, "Forgive me, but I can't help but wonder what type of report you're doing. Does it have anything to do with the recent news about mutants?"

Yes, a touchy subject liable to bring up strong feelings in the general populace. Should she get an answer other than angry dismissal, she'll move to another line of questioning entirely, one centered in her own personal discoveries of late - nightmarish feathers and taloned hands.


"Not report," Illyana tells Rosemarie. "Studying. Do not understand much about mutation and want to know more," she says, her accent thickly Russian tainted and marking her as visibly not American. "But not much of it is in common circulation— must read scientific journals and research papers." She gestures at the books, several of which are excerpted from major medical journals. "Am taking notes."

She opens three books up and props them so she can read them simultaneously. "Professor Xavier recommended books and told me I should do own research. Some of the terms are tricky, but what I have read suggests that there may be humans with strange talents that are not mutations. Am looking into it more." Her lips twist into a moue. "Should not have asked so many questions in class."


The accent is difficult to navigate and Rosemarie's nose wrinkles a touch as she concentrates on the young woman's words. Oh, okay, studying. How interesting that this Professor Xavier would send her to study the works of older authors such as Milton.

It strikes her, the comment about humans and strange talents and she remains standing there, digesting, her heart rate suddenly racing. Of course this patron has no idea of her abilities. None. There was no way whatsoever…but then again, she's heard side-stories over the years about the people who attend Xavier's Institute and how they're all a bit…odd.

"It's good that you took his advice though," she adds slowly, still caught up a bit in the latent adrenaline rush. "Questions get you answers and all knowledge is worth knowing." A smidgeon of pride in the twinkle of her cinnamon-brown eyes; it's a quote she doesn't get to use often (…nerd). "I'm not a medical major, but if you write down the list of words that are tricky, I can find you a dictionary? Then you'll know what they mean."


"That would be very helpful," Illyana admits. "My English… not strong," she confesses. "Am still learning some of the words— the medical ones I do not understand at all. My mas- tutor tells me will get easier as I learn more Latin, but— do not speak much Latin," she says, wryly.

"This word, here, I see many times. 'Crome.. zones," she says, mangling it badly. "Milton says, are extra ones present in certain people. This makes them have unique mutations. But not in other people. But do not understand theory of chrome zones," she tells Rosemarie, "or why this extra one is so important."


The eyebrow is unable to be kept from rising. Did she just not-quite say 'master'? Maybe it's a Russian thing. She walks over to the young woman's side and peers over her shoulder at the text. It's not terribly difficult for her to read, but neither of her parents were medical majors and while she may be able to hazard a guess at what a 'chromosome' is, she too will need a dictionary in order to figure it out.

"It's pronounced 'chrome-ah-some', with the S sound and not a Z," she says politely, not intending to offend. Of course, her accent may betray her from imparting the truly-correct pronunciation of the word. "Here, let me get you a dictionary."

With a parting pat on the back of the chair, Rosemarie is swift to depart and return with not only a standard English dictionary, but a medical dictionary as well, in case the young woman needs extra definitions. The books made moderate thuds of impact on the desk as she places them in the empty space available. "There you go," she grins, "those should help as well. I'm Rosemarie, if you need any more help. I'll be at the desk. Just remember that if you leave, the door will lock behind you and I'll need to let you in again."

Such is the curse of borrowing rare books.


"I am very grateful," Illyana tells Rosemarie. She flashes the girl a smile and digs into her work.

Several hours later, near closing time, Illyana returns with a trolley laden with the rare texts and reference materials, and a notepad that looks like she's filled it with blocky handwriting. "Could not get through these as fast as liked," she confesses to Rosemarie. "The English is very difficult with the Latin and Greek terms. I have to do too much cross-research." She rests her fingertips on the books. "Could you set aside? I will come back for them and try to finish tomorrow," she tells Rosemarie.


At least the young woman with the mysterious studies has mystery to pass the time. Rosemarie is stuck with the monotony of filling out the cards until it's time to begin shooing out patrons. The head librarian has thankfully left her alone today, though it's odd enough that the assistant has been checking behind her back as if stalked by the Boogieman.

She's standing behind her desk and organizing a last stack of papers when the squeaking wheels of the trolley make her glance up. Oh, her!

"I can't leave them out, but I can make a note that you're looking to read them again." A strip of paper is torn from a spare sheet and Rosemarie's pen hovers over it as she asks, "What is your name then?"


"Illyana Rasputina," the blonde girl tells Rosemarie with a smile. "And da, thank you. Would be very helpful," she assures Rosemarie.

"Er…" She dithers, trying to find the words. "I… do not wish to impose, but you were very helpful," she tells the woman. "Would appreciate your help again, and was wondering if you would enjoy joining me for milkshake?" she inquires of Rosemarie. "If you do not have plans after work, of course," she says, glancing at the clock as it ticks past 5:30.


"Oh." Honest surprise reflected in word and expression and a momentary pause in writing out that last name. "Oh, sure, I guess." Scritch scritch, all written down now. The note is tucked away beneath the paper weight on Rosemarie's desk, bearing the name of the young woman. "If you want to wait by the doors, I'll grab my stuff from the staff room. Hold on," and she steps out from behind the desk. Quick, pert steps to the side door and she disappears into the small room.

She wraps her coat about her and ties the knot tightly, another layer to hide the mechanics of the vest hidden once beneath the thick sweater. The warmth is so soothing. Dr. Reed had attempted to explain how the science of it worked, but Rosemarie was in the midst of grateful tears at the time, so the explanation probably went unheard and unprocessed. All she knew was that it settled the foreign wisps of feathery touch in her blood and kept her sane.

The bookbag-style purse (of course a bookbag) bumps loosely against her hip as she approaches the young woman once more by the front doors of the library. "Right. Where to…Illyana? It's Illyana, right?"


"Da. And… Rosemarie," Illyana tells the girl, having read her nametag. She's a bit awkward— as if rethinking this entire enterprise now that they're actually leaving the library and Illyana's realizing she's actually having to follow up and… socialize.

"Er, is nearby place. 'Scott's Soda'," Illyana says, pointing a block down the road.

"Do you know much about medicine?" Illyana asks the librarian, falling into step alongside her. "The science very confuses me. The idea that we are made of tiny… chronosones," she says, still not quite getting the word right. "Is very confusing. Read once that we are made of tiny cells— that also seems confusingly impossible."


"Oh, they have great milkshakes," Rosemarie says first, giving Illyana a kind smile. She's seeming more and more like a younger sister by the moment. As an only child, it's a sort of dream to be explaining such things to the young woman. "I'm not good with medicine, no. I mean, I can tell you when to clean a cut and how to bandage it, but I can't diagnose anything. I leave that to the doctors."

Another small smile at the mispronunciation, but no correction. Not now, not while the conversation is so pleasant.

"It's always made sense to me that we're made of cells. Have you ever looked into a microscope? Plants are made of cells too. I remember seeing slides of the leaves in a botany book one time, they look like green squares with little round dots in the middle." She shrugs the bookbag higher onto her shoulder. "Next time you come in, I'll find you that book."


"I have never seen one," Illyana confesses. "Am not scientist. Just trying to understanding something about these… 'genetics'," she remarks. "They seem to have most profound impact on some people— make them do incredible things. But is very scary, da? Some people have ability to do very strange and unusual things. Others have very minor talents. No consistency in them," she tells Rosemarie.

"Would like to see books sometimes," she tells her, a beat later and flashing a smile. "I enjoy reading. Am not good at it in English, but I can make much sense of them given time. Just need dictionary handy," she admits, wryly. They come up to the soda shack and she opens the door to walk in, and moves to a booth.


Rosemarie nods thoughtfully as she follows behind Illyana. The booth is a comfortable, somewhat secluded space in the parlor, and everyone in attendance seems to be inclined to return to their own conversations after acknowledging the new customers.

Naturally, she sits across from Illyana. She slides the strap of her bag over her head to set it beside her on the booth seat, fixes her hair briefly, and then gives the young woman an inquiring tilt of her head along with, "You mentioned abilities. What do you mean by abilities? You mean like folding your tongue? I can do that." A shy glance around and then she shows how she can manipulate her tongue muscles to form a four-leafed clover shape of sorts. How her mother would have glared at her. Covering her mouth, Rosemarie stifles an after-laugh of minor embarrassment.


"No— the mutants," Illyana says, after a giggle slips past her lips. "I can do something similar!" She holds up her hand and sharply twists her thumb, making it look like she'd just dislocated it— the lower joint protruding from her palm. She shakes her hand out quickly and it's obviously just fine. "My brother says, am double-jointed. Can also touch fingers to middle of shoulderblades."

"So many remarkable things. Walk through walls, move objects with brain. Trying to understand how they do this— and why only see so many of them in recent years. Possible some of them are monsters of mythology, or considered witches," she acknowledges. "But seems there are many more now than ever before."


Okay, twisting a tongue around was one thing. Tweaking a joint to make it look clearly broken and THEN returning it to its former shape? If that wasn't an amazing trick, Rosemarie didn't know what was. Her eyes, wide with surprise, crinkle at the corners as she lets out a short laugh, pressing palms to either side of her face.

She does want to see Illyana do it again, but the topic of conversation turns to a rather otherworldy trend. "Wait a second, wait," she says, speaking low and leaning across the table to encourage the secretive volume of speech. "Walk through walls? Witches? Magic isn't real."

Naive gauntlet thrown down. Clearly, she hasn't yet found a way to compartmentalize the alien powers granted by the unwanted change in her own genetic state. Why worry about it when you ignore it entirely?


"Is very likely real," Illyana assures Rosemarie. "But is also possible, what some call magic— or gods in ancient culture— is just mutants with incredible powers." She shrugs, picking apart the sheathe to a straw. "There are many people with unusual… talents. Read theory from man who says, all supernatural beings in all human history— maybe mutants. Miracle workers and demigods are just humans with some strange exceptional mutation."

"So, am studying more," she tells Rosemarie, smiling at her a bit wanly. "Want to know if magic is real or is just… mutants."


"Magic isn't real," Rosemarie repeats flatly, wondering just what kind of crazy she stepped into. They're interrupted by the server, who takes their orders (it's amazing how she's able to talk like a perfectly normal individual when panic is beginning to twist her stomach), and then she's left to chew on the inside of her cheek and look carefully at Illyana. She can't see any signs of insanity, but perhaps the young woman hides it well.

"Look, I get the writer's concept that any supernatural or divine person in history could be a mutant," (she actually doesn't, but her mouth is working faster than her brain right now) "because the world is a weird place. It's undeniable. I—" She snaps her lips shut on the frazzled admission that almost slipped out, about how her nightmares end with her winged and taloned, and sits back against her seat. A paper wrapper is slowly mangled as she attempts to remove it from around the straw. "It isn't," she asserts softly, almost more for herself than to win an argument.

If magic was real, it meant that her wings were as well. No figment of the imagination.


Illyana shrugs at Rosemarie. "You have closed mind for person who works in library," she says. It's a bit of a cutting statement, but delivered so blandly it's hard to find malice in her tone. "Mutants today who can lift trucks, move things with mind, fly, make fire. Imagine being living in tiny village and one day, child makes bonfire using only his brain. Never know about genetics, you just see him do something impossible. If impossible, must be magic, da?" she tells the girl.

"We know mutants can do things that seem impossible. Why so unlikely they have been around forever?"


A sharp snort, very unlady-like. The last person to tell Rosemarie that was her aunt, in regards to faith. She believes in no god and certainly not magic. Miracles are aberrations of fate alone.

"Humans want to explain things away," she agrees half-heartedly, her passion dampened by the growing fear that this young woman, Illyana, knows more than she's letting on. "If someone wants to believe that a mutation is magic, fine. That's genetics and science. Unexplained science was and is still considered magic. Magic doesn't exist."

It can't, it just can't. She begins to scratch discreetly behind her ears and then freezes up. Oh no. The vest was supposed to prevent this!!!


Now it's Illyana's turn to look uncomfortable as he words are turned on her. After all, Illyana knows the difference between science and magic— rather first-handedly!

"Magic /is/ real," Illyana says a bit heatedly. "There are things science cannot explain. Some things science can explain— anything else, magic. Realities exist where will and intent matter more than physics," she says, stubbornly and forgetting she can't /possibly/ know that. "Mutation is science, but magic is different thing entire."


A little squeak escapes Rosemarie's mouth as her nails catch on the very beginnings of the night-blue fans of feathers that habitually emerge from behind her ears in time of personal stress. Covering her mouth and closing her eyes briefly, one can see her throat bobble as she swallows down panic - HARD - and then squints at Illyana again.

"I think that we'll have to agree to disagree," she says after returning her hand to her lap, where it joins the other in putting stress-wrinkles into the fabric of her coat.

She presses her back firmly to the giving pillowed lining of the booth. It acts as a psychological reminder as well as physical barrier against any sort of inklings regarding the emergence of her wings.


Illyana snorts, but lets it go— she's heard Piotr use that phrase to walk out of conversations swiftly turning into arguments. She mutters something under her breath in Russian and reaches for the milkshakes that arrive, and the two women set into their drinks.

"Your shirt has hole in it," Illyana tells Rosemarie. She picks up a fluffy bit of down off the tabletop. "Is leaking from your sweater, da?" she says, examining the fluffy white. She puts it on her fingertip and with a puff from her lips, blows it off into the circling air currents overhead.


What? A hole? Rosemarie swallows the mouthful of milk chocolate shake and glances down at her coat. She had unbuttoned it earlier, no need to hide within it when the parlor was comfortably warm, and she quickly searches the front of her sweater.

What hole?! It's when she sees the sky-blue fluff floating in the air above them, idling about in the currents of the soda parlor, that she realizes it is fluff from her, not her coat!

With a speed bolstered by another burst of adrenaline that sets her skin to itching madly behind her ears and between her shoulderblades, Rosemarie picks that errant feather from its circling float.

"Er, yes, hah! My coat, must be a hole, yes," she replies, stuffing the feather away in her coat pocket.


"So… um."

Illyana sits quietly for a minute. It's clear Rosemarie is very uncomfortable— even stressed, and Illyana obviously is in over her head with a social situation she doesn't have the skills to handle adroitly. She drums her fingers on the table in a staccato of indecision, unaware she's doing it and takes a long sip of her milkshake as she tries to restart the conversation with Rosemarie.


Rosemarie sighs and takes a long sip of her milkshake. Great, she's made her new friend feel awkward as hell. Good job, librarian's aid. No wonder she works in a place with minimal human contact.

She pulls the little light-blue feather from her pocket and twirls it around between her fingers. It riffles a little in the air of yet another sigh.

"I'm sorry," she mutters, reaching to itch at her ears again. The fan of feathers has just reached the edges of her ears and isn't beyond the curve of the cartiledge. Whew, safe. She drops the feather and it swirls down to alight between them on the table. Her chin is placed in her hands as she stirs the milkshake, momentarily avoiding eye contact, before she clearly comes to a decision. She glances to one side, to her bookbag in some odd habit, and if Illyana spots the night-blue curls of feathers, just barely hiding behind the locks of chestnut-brown hair, she isn't crazy. Rosemarie meets the young woman's eyes again. "Can…can I tell you something?" she asks, fear making her voice so very small.


Illyana lifts one brow at Rosemarie. "Da, you are welcome to," she says, as Rosemarie breaks the tension before it completely ruins the nice sense of companionship they're trying to establish. She picks up the downy feather again, examining it, and puts it right back on the table where Rosemarie had deposited it.

Her expression is cold, and flat— but on close examination, Rose would realize Illyana just has sort of a resting face that screams unimpressed disapproval, whether she means it or not.


It's like sitting in front of her aunt again, sheesh. Rosemarie averts her eyes and carefully takes back the feather from the center of the table. She takes a fortifying sip of milkshake and seems to say a good number of silent words before clearing her throat.

"The…the feather isn't from my coat. It's from me."

Please don't make her explain more, please, please, please…


"From you." Illyana frowns minutely. "Please excuse, my English— is not so good. Is gift?" she asks, tentatively. "Is very nice but I do not know what I would do with one piece of down," she tells Rosemarie. "Maybe if had more, could make very small pillow," she says, frowning thoughtfully.


A titter of a nervous laugh is cut off by a hand over her mouth. "Oh, no, sorry, not…not like that," she amends, shifting in her seat. The twinging between her shoulderblades is strong enough now that she's very, very glad for her coat still worn.

"I…I created the feather." She wasn't quite sure of what verb to use there. "It is of me. It came from me." She bites at her bottom lip, cinnamon-brown eyes averted, before pushing back the dark-brown hair on the side of her head facing towards the wall, where no one else can see but Illyana when she turns her head. The little curves of feathers, like the curving tail plumes of a pheasant save for all colored in hues of cobalt, are revealed. "It came from me," she repeats tightly.


"Wow!" When Rosemarie turns back, she's confronted with an Illyana who's hauled herself clear across the table and is six inches from her face. "That is— remarkable! Have never seen feathers. Have seen scales and my br- friend, has steel skin," she explains. She grabs Rosemarie's head in both hands before she can shrink back. "Hold still, not done looking! Have wings, too, or just feathers?" she asks.

She's surprisingly strong for how slender her wrists are, and her fingers have the sort of calluses you only get with a lot of very physical labor. "Is mutation, then? Makes sense if mutation, reminds me of mutant I know with wings— he can fly too."


"GLUK!" The sound of surprise escapes Rosemarie's mouth as her head is held captive, observed in close detail by the young woman, and she's half-drawn across the tabletop. It's a wonder that neither milkshake has been spilled.

Scales? Wings? Wings?! "Illyana, please let go of my head," she says, voice muffled by the spill of her dark hair. The curves of the feathers are glaringly obviously now, unhidden. "Let me go or the wings will show up and I can't hide those very well!" A little rise in octave as she tries to tuck the feathers beneath her hair once again, heedless of the grip on her skull.


"Hmm? Oh." Illyana releases Rosemarie, realizing the girl's a bit startled, and then tries to help her arrange her hair. "Am sorry. Is very exciting," she tells Rosemarie, sitting back on the bench. Her feet tuck under her thighs so she's more kneeling than sitting on the bench.

"Have full wings, though? Can— can I see them?" she asks, eyes widening a bit. She seems enthralled by Rosemarie's mutation. "Can you fly with them? How high can you go? How much weight can you carry? Have you ever carried another person along?" she asks, chattering in fast, broken English.


Strung out on anxiety, Rosemarie offers a grimace of a smile. "Not now, no, we're…the people will see," she whispers, glancing around. No one seems to have noticed their odd behavior, which is interesting in-and-of itself. What had Rosemarie said earlier? Humans want to explain away that which doesn't make sense…?

"I have no idea, stop. Stop asking!" she hisses, patting at her hair. A flashing realization that her nails have elongated slightly and she hides her hands in her lap. The centers of her cinnamon-brown irises have taken on a peachy color now, the clearest indicator of her tenuous grasp on the latent alien power that surges in her blood. "Look…can we go, please?" It's a quiet squeak of a question.


"Yes! Come, we go somewhere else," Illyana says. She grabs her milkshake in one hand an Rosemarie's fingers with the other, eyes bright and excited. "Please— come with me! There is safe place we can go and talk more," she says, urging the avian woman to follow her. "I will show you something, too, you will— not feel so upset," she promises Rosemarie, blushing a little as she realizes she might have put Rose into a very uncomfortable situation.


"H-hold on, we have to pay!" A scattered handful of cash and coins spreads across the table from within the confines of Rosemarie's bookbag. She follows behind Illyana, whose tight grip on her hand doesn't relent for an instant. The server's confused half-wave goes entirely unnoticed as the door shuts behind them.

With a grunt of effort and muttered 'ouch' that leaves the faintest glitter of tears in her eyes, the older of the two young women stands there, shivering in the early evening autumn wind. "I just want to go home. It's right there and I want to go home," she repeats, beginning to brush past Illyana with arms tightly folded. The place in question is the brownstone multi-level building not but a jump across the street and a hop of seven residences down, almost at the next street corner.


Rosemarie's sudden pulling away leaves Illyana looking confused, standing there with empty fingers. She watches Rosemarie hustling off, then hurries to catch up to her.

"Please, Rosemarry— am sorry," Illyana says, looking distressed and discomforted at her new friend's sudden reticence. "Am… I mean just, very excited," she says. "Did not know you were mut—" she drops her voice, looking around, "were mutant," she mutters.

"Is okay— I am, too," she says, quickly. "I mean, I think I am. Mostly am. Can do… some things."

"Please, do not be mad, am just very excited. If— I will show you my trick, too, if makes you feel better," she offers.


Rosemarie stops as the young blonde catches up to her. She listens, staring at her toes all the while, and then eventually glances over at Illayana. The wind blows aside a layer of chestnut hair to reveal the midnight-hued feathers and she pulls her hair back down around her neck, once more hiding the oddity.

Finally: "I'm not a mutant. I don't know what I am…but it's not normal." The roughness of tears in her voice. "Look, if you want to show me some freaky thing, not here. In my apartment. It's the brownstone building there," and she points. "Third floor, room 13."

Even in distress, Rosemarie retains the manners of her upbringing. The eyeroll was for the room number. Lucky number, pah.


"Da. Okay. Third floor… there." Illyana looks up and down the street, then tugs Rosemarie to an alleyway out of line of sight. "Okay. Take deep breath. Ready?" She grips Rosemarie's hand and stamps a foot on the ground. A pale, glowing nimbus of yellow light puddles around their feet, like an inch of dense amber fog. Illyana takes two steps and the world shimmers away—

—and rematerializes as Rosemarie's apartment, the two of them standing in the living room with little more than a sharp scent of ozone and a small lurch as gravity reasserts itself.

"Much easier than taking stairs," Illyana says, flashing a brilliant grin at Rosemarie.



It is her apartment though, down to the green armchair in the living room by the curtained window that Rosemarie half-collapses into with her heart in her throat. She scrambles at her coat, wrenching it from her body and then the sweater whufts from her head to reveal the silvery Kevlar-hybrid material of the vest. At this point, she's on her hands and knees, gasping for air, and the feathers behind her ears are beautifully elongated, plumage that curves in a delicate arcing fan at least ten inches from her skull, mirrored on each side.

The vest is cleverly fashioned to allow for these aforementioned wings to unfurl from some pocket beneath her skin and they expand haphazardly beyond her bowed shoulders. The span of the wings reaches but a foot father than the reach of her arms; one side rests across the floor in a spread that brushes up against Illyana's slippers while the other hangs as if broken across the chair. Rosemarie utters a soft sob and scrubs at her face when she sits back onto her heels.

"See?! It's awful!" she squeaks. She can't even make a proper fist with how her fingernails are sharp, curving short talons. When she looks up at Illyana, her red-rimmed eyes are peachy-orange, faded like coffee with too much milk.


Illyana gapes at Rosemarie, watching the wings unfurl— the pinions scraping the floor, the ears turning sleek and the talons replacing her fingertips.

She makes a subtle gesture and crackling amythyst light flickers over her. Her clothing disappears, replaced by leggings over a leather skirt and a plunging yellow vest over a black undershirt. A nimbus of energy clings to her and her eyes take on a dark, pitched color, black and inhuman.

"Is not awful," she says, softly, her voice carrying a soft echo of a chorus responding in the distance. "Is different." She moves in front of Rosemarie and kneels down in front of her, and cups her cheeks in both hands to turn her face upwards. "Is beautiful. Like… storm petrel." She smiles encouragingly at Rosemarie. "Please do not cry, yastreb," she tells Rosemarie.


Rosemarie takes in the face before her - how the eyes are black as beetles, how the aura of energy radiating from Illyana's body lifts both of their hair in waves of reaction, how there's the layering of multiple voices within her spoken words. She swallows and shivers, sniffling and more scared than she's ever been in her life.

Saints preserve her, inasmuch as she doesn't believe.

"Magic…is real?" she whispers, afraid to pull away though she desperately wants to from the tingling touch of the palms on her cheeks.


"Da. Is real," Illyana tells Rosemarie. She closes her eyes, and the nimbus of energy ebbs— and when they open, they're once more cornflower blue and earnestly human.

"My name is Illyana. I was stolen by demons and raised in the lands of Limbo when was child," she tells Rosemarie. "I learned the ways of magic in Limbo. I rule over all that dimension now, as Queen."

She reaches down to squeeze Rose's fingers reassuringly. "Am… not sure if is because am mutant, or just… unlucky."

"There are many like us, though," she says. "Different. Maybe mutant, maybe… magic, maybe something else. But you are not alone."

She ventures a smile at Rosemarie. "And I think your wings are very pretty," she offers, trying to cheer the girl.


She's not alone. It's the most wonderful sentiment that Illyana can offer Rosemarie right now, even moreso that her wings are not an aberration, but something to be admired. Still, the mention of demons and another dimension entirely…that's…different.

She should be monumentally freaked out now, perhaps even in the middle of a conniption fit, but somehow, she can tell that the blue-eyed young woman before her isn't lying. All in all, she's too blunt, too clear in mannerisms. "Thanks," she whispers and wipes at her eyes. Her knuckles touch the fan of feathers and she still flinches, having forgotten briefly of her own change. "How do you…how do you function? I can't…I panic and this happens." She's had enough practice to be able to draw in her wings close and they fold up behind her, arches appearing over each shoulder, long flight feathers still draped on the carpeted floor.


"My brother sits on me," Illyana admits, wryly. "Frequently. Yells at me when I … overreact," she says, as diplomatically as she can.

She leans forward and hugs Rosemarie a bit impulsively. "Is… is not easy," she admits. "I am still new to this place. I make mistakes. Fight more than I should."

She smiles, brushing her hair back from her face and tucking it behind her ear. "I… sorry. I am not used to just finding another like me in the middle of city," she admits. "Most of my friends live in Staten Island. Mutants, like me, or … exceptional," she explains. "You remind me of Angel. He has wings, too— large and very white. Can fly with them." She strokes one of the pinions with a delicate touch from long, slender fingers, marveling at them.


Sits on her?! Rosemarie blinks a few times, unable to process that. Illyana clearly had magic at her fingertips. How does one blunt such a force of…otherwordly nature? The hug is unexpected and not returned quickly enough, for her new friend pulls beyond reach. She's not sure of how to respond and merely folds her shaking hands in her lap. Her feet have long since gone numb, but oh well.

"I…didn't expect to find anyone here either," she mumbles, watching Illyana's fingertips dance along the veins of the deep-blue feather. It's nonsensical, the discord of the lack of nerves with the perceived action. She believes that she should feel the pressure of the touch somehow, but no - they are nerveless. Her peach-hued eyes flicker up to Illyana's face as a frown draws her brows together. "Angel? He can fly?"

Rosemarie has no idea if she can fly. She's never tried.


"Da. Is… lovely." She pinks a little. "Well— Angel, looks like angel," she admits. "But wings, very big, bigger than yours. Very strong— have seen him knock strong man over by flapping," she tells her new friend.

Finally, Rose's discomfort translates through Illyana's perceptions, and she sits back, looking a little… embarrassed.

"I… I am sorry, Rosemarie," Illyana says, eyes dropping away. "Am… just excited. I did not mean to make you… uncomfortable with situation," she explains, fingers scraping on the carpet underfoot as she shifts her weight sideways, legs sticking out to her left. "Am so used to people with extraordinary talents, that I assumed…" She shakes her head.


"It's…okay." And it was beginning to be, if not quite yet there. She's not alone and that is an amazing thing to realize. It relaxes some tension that Rosemarie hadn't known was locked in her gut. Already, the feathery fans at her ears are beginning to retreat, the coloring of her irises to deepen. The wings, they linger, as if knowing of the compliments given to them.

"I don't know if I can fly. I haven't tried. I've kind of been…panicking every time they appear." The glance back at them is still full of frustrated sadness, though it is tempered by a hint of reluctant acceptance, perhaps. "It helps to know that I'm not alone." Saying it aloud relaxes her even more. Her wings give a slight flutter of reaction.

It's the beginning of a new chapter for her and it starts with a new friend.


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