1963-11-12 - The Beauty of Illusion
Summary: A discussion on the Art of Flirting turns into a show of Illusory Art and perhaps something more entirely.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
illyana rosemarie 


Illyana and Rosemarie make a bit of an odd couple— Rosemarie's a bit retiring but somewhat more savvy than the brashly forward but otherwise uneducated blonde demon-kin. Still, it's an amicable enough friendship, bizarre bedfellows though they make, and the two of them find some time to sit and talk on Rosemarie's floor. Illyana sits with Rosemarie on the sofa, one leg curled under her, and very carefully combing out Rosemarie's hair. She's improved quite a bit— she only /sometimes/ tugs on a tangle.

"I told her she was not Goddess of desire, more like… Goddess of being alleycat," she sniffs. Her tone expresses a confidence she very much did not have at the time. "But she still flirts with Strange. Is very peculiar," she frowns, nose wrinkling. "Is this how men expect to flirt? I have never tried it. Kitty mostly grabbed Piotr's nose and that was end of discussion about whether to date. But Amora is… odd. Like trying to make Strange angry, to get him to be with her. Is this how is done?"


Give Rosemarie some credit in the face of the conversation she's listening to. Half-asleep with the brushing of hair, she finds it much easier to accept the concepts of Goddesses and magic and Illyana's…adopted father? - named Strange. What a family name. Poor guy. Must have been the butt of many a joke growing up.

A stifled titter of laughter at hearing all of the different expressions of affection is enough to make the comb jounce at a knot in her hair. The young woman winces, but quickly adds, "That wasn't you, Illy, sorry. I moved."

The chestnut-brunette makes a soft humming sound of audible thinking and then shrugs carefully. "To be completely fair, there are many different ways to flirt. This…Amorta? Amorga? Whatever. I mean…she could be very confident and maybe she gets something out of that approach." She scratches idly at her elbows, a section of skin known to be a base for feather growth in times of stress. "Some men seem to get off on being angry and overbearing. I don't know. I don't understand that, personally. Flirting is…"

A touch of pink in her cheeks, under the scattering of freckles and Rosemarie gets to fiddling with the hem of her pants that she can reach with legs crisscrossed beneath her. "Flirting is something you do to get someone's attention if you find them attractive. You're trying to attract attention to you and see if they respond. If they respond, then…you…go from there," she finishes awkwardly. Clearly, not a long track history of relationships on her end.


Illyana stops combing Rosemarie's hair and stares at her blankly. "I… is perhaps language barrier," she says, frowning at Rose. "I am confused. If I like someone, why not simply say 'I find you inoffensive'?" she asks of Rosemarie.

"If they do not like me, then why are they talking to me? And if someone ignores me, then why would I talk to them? Amora is mad, she is I think more interested in Strange /because/ he ignores her. This is crazy, da?" she asks Rose.

She shifts on the sofa so they sit face to face, looking genuinely perplexed. "If I see someone I like, I would go 'I like you'. That's how one makes friends, but Amora wants to be friends with Strange despite him not having any interest in her."


Rosemarie leans to one side to allow Illyana to settle before her and can't help but smile at the amount of confusion. It's a kind expression though, understanding in a sense - after all, this is something they can probably work through with combined input. She chews at the scar mark across her lip as she thinks and then clicks her tongue.

"You can do all of that. Telling someone that you like them, just like that, is easy. Perfect in most cases. That way, you don't hurt anyone's feelings by leading them on. Amora is probably interested in your adopted dad because he's ignoring her, which is…sad, in a way. If he's really in love with someone else, she's wasting her time. I guess it's something like…you always want what you can't have. It's not a good idea to flirt with men who are in a relationship. Or women," she adds as an afterthought.


"Is /not/ dad," Illyana says sharply. "Master. Teacher," she amends, realizing the word doesn't translate in terms of nuance. "My parents are… gone." She keeps a stiff lip but it's obvious the word 'family' stings.

"Er, anyway. I mean— have seen my friend Warren without shirt. He is … yummy," she admits, pinking a bit. "And my friend Kitty, she is very cute as well. But— I mean, Kitty obviously, dating Piotr. And Warren is very self-centered." She chews the inside of her cheek.

"So of course, not show interest in someone who is taken. But I do not… know how to do what Amora does. She makes Strange uneasy, he is sometimes a bit stammering, and she even makes /me/ blush. But she does not even try. I think if I were to flirt, I would fail," she confesses. "She makes it look too easy."


Moment of withdrawal noted, but also brushed past. Rosemarie honors this and doesn't return to the concept of 'father'. She still doesn't like the term 'Master', but 'Teacher' makes enough sense. Wait…so this Strange guy? He does magic too? …man, that last name must really annoy him sometimes.

"I don't think you should be wanting to be like this Amora." She wrinkles her nose at the idea of it. "If she's making men uneasy, she's going too far. You want to make them laugh, smile at you. Want to continue talking to you. Not make them want to leave."


"I… see," Illyana says, touching her tongue to her upper lip, thoughtfully. "Make them… laugh. I… so, with joke?"" she says, hesitantly. "I am not good at jokes. Piotr is much funnier than I am," she says, quite seriously— Piotr's about as amusing as a sobriquet on moderation. "And women, too, da? Tell jokes? I know some girls who do not think of jokes as interesting," she tells Rosemarie. "They are very serious. Making them laugh, I will just look like fool, da? What would /you/ do?"


"I…uh…" Oh gosh, what a question. And Illyana is so serious too! Rosemarie scratches behind her ears even as she chews once more on her lip. "You know, I'll be honest with you. I don't have a lot of experience with this…flirting stuff, so ask other people too other than me, okay?"

She straightens her shoulder before dissolving into embarrassed laughter, but only for a moment. Clearing her throat and clearly red in cheeks and ear tips, she gamely continues. "If I run into someone I like, I compliment them. Maybe I say something about their clothing or how their hair looks. If I feel really brave, I'll tell them that they have a pretty smile or maybe remind them of something funny they said the last time we talked. I only flirt if they do it back though. If they don't flirt back, then I know that I might be wasting my time. I say 'might' because some people are dense and don't understand that you're flirting with them. It's kind of…well, I mean, it's like every other skill. You need to practice it."


Illyana pinks at Rosemarie's embarrassment, realizing perhaps she's making Rose uncomfortable, but the woman's willingness to press on helps her keep her from interrupting. She hugs her knees loosely to her chest, her shift riding up her bare, stringbean legs— she's curiously tomboyish about her modesty.

"But… then… how do I know if am flirting well?" Illyana asks, looking a bit overwhelmed. "If someone only flirts back if I know how to flirt, and I don't know how to flirt, then I'll never get anywhere!" She growls in frustration. "I mean, I— I had a friend once, and I… liked her," she admits, pinking visibly and stumbling over the words. "But did not ever occur to me to tell her I did. Would not know how to do so even if I thought she felt the same. So, what is right solution?"



Rosemarie averts her cinnamon-brown eyes to one side as she ponders. "I suppose…you would…try flirting and see what happens with this friend? Or you could tell her that you like her. See what happens?" She shrugs again and straightens her shirt in a moment of fidgeting. No feathers, not just yet. "Like, I would know that my flirting is working if I said something and the person smiled back or maybe blushed. Like this, you know," and she laughs even as she flushes beneath the freckles again. Poor Rosemarie, doomed with genes and personality to be ever-rouged in cheek. "I'm cursed though. Nobody flirts with a librarian's aide. They only glare at you when you tell them their book is overdue."

A milder smile now, somewhat melancholy, is given to Illyana. "I bet that you get compliments all of the time."


Illyana giggles when Rosemarie manages to make herself blush on command, shaking her head and smiling at Rosemarie's efforts. "Piotr says, he can see my ears turn pink," she says, conspiratorially. Indeed, her ears are a slightly more cherry shade against her pale skin.

At Rosemarie's melancholy compliment and lamentation, Illyana releases her knees, letting her legs flop into a cross-fold and reaches over to squeeze Rosemarie's slender wrist. She's horrible at the gesture— hesitant, then too much squeezing, too mannish— but the thought counts. "I do not know. I know only few people outside the Institute," she tells Rosemarie. She tugs her left earlobe, thoughtfully, leaning her shoulder against the sofa's cushions. "I… Piotr says he thinks I am cute, but he also says same thing about puppies and small children. Katherine tells me I am pretty but she does not mean it— not like, you know— flirt," the lean Russian woman says, wryly. "I am sure, though, many boys and girls, they turn books in late just to talk to you, da?" she asks, brightly, a thought occuring to her. "Maybe they do so, just so they can find excuse? I would do that, would make easy way to, uh… how say… ice breaking," she says, in her thick Russian accent.


Rosemarie returns the grip on her wrist with a more gentle, consistent pressure and then relaxes, but doesn't pull away. She has this suspicion that retreating may hurt Illyana's feelings.

"No…I doubt that," another wry laugh, "but that's a great thought. I'll let you know when someone does it." She leans against the couch as well, mirroring the blonde young woman across from her. "Flirting is hard. It is. Some words mean other things entirely when said in a flirt. Like you mentioned, pretty. There's 'pretty' like the leaves in autumn and then there's 'pretty' like how the light plays in someone's eyes. I mean, if you really want to get particular, there are things called innuendos. It's a way to say something incredibly flirtatious without actually saying it. Er…"

She rolls her lips inwards as she goes through the few she knows in her head. A sudden titter. "Okay, so…one time, my friend had a guy tell her that, 'I've checked out a lot of books, but you're the hottest one I've checked out all week'. It's called a pick-up line. My friend isn't a book, but the guy considered her attractive, so he complimented her looks as well as made a clever reference to her job. Make sense?"


"But… no. How are books hot?" Illyana says, looking utterly baffled. "Books are cold. Paper is cool. I do not understand. So if…" She screws up her face. "I… might tell someone… they are attractive. But they might take that wrong way, da? So I would say, uh… you are the… sweetest thing I have eaten— no, that does not work."

She scowls at her toes, thinking. "You are pretty as a … er… no, not innuendo."

She flips her hands in the air and exhales. "Bozhe moi, this is not easy." She shakes her head, absently tilting her head to the side and tugging on her hair with a long, tugging stroke that betrays tension. "Is perhaps just as well," she exhales. "I am not sure would know what to do with someone if even they thought me pretty. And would not know if they were being nice or flirting," she grouses.


Rosemarie puts a hand over her mouth briefly, mostly to stopper off the grin before her friend can see it. She's realizing that she's doing a terrible job of explaining things. Maybe…maybe an example, from her to Illyana.

"I think you'll figure it out faster than you think." Another supportive squeeze to her wrist. "Like, here. I'll flirt with you, to show you what it's like to receive a flirt."

The brunette clears her throat and bravely plunges on. "Illyana, I've seen many sapphires, but none as blue as your eyes." Heat flushes her cheeks once more. Dammit, genetic curse. "There you go," she adds, picking furiously at the loose thread of her pants cuff once more. "I mean, that was kind of overly-romantic - you might not say something like that right off the bat, but…there you go."


Illyana listens attentively to Rosemarie when she flirts, and then her jaw goes a bit slack at the words. Her eyes go big as dinner plates and her skin turns an enviable shade of pink, from her chin to her ears, and her mouth works like a fish.

"I… I …. thank you," she stammers, clearly surprised at how eloquently— and effectively— Rosemarie delivers the compliment. "That… is very very kind." She clears her throat, then again, and struggles mightily to get her thoughts in order.

"Er… ah… da, is very, um… good," she says, weakly, trying to find an appropriate synonym.

"I would say— uh… oh! Uh, Rosemarie." She clears her throat, trying to sit upright, but it takes her two tries to look at Rosemarie's face. "You have voice like kestrel singing over the tundra," she says, trying to keep her face as composed as possible.


It is more than compliment enough in return to see how the blonde stutters. Rosemarie has to avert her own eyes and bites at her lip. It doesn't keep the grin from returning.

"Thanks, but - " The murmur is halted when she receives a counter-compliment in return. Blink blink. "A…kestrel. I don't think I know what that is. Is it a songbird?" She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear and continues, tilting her head to one side. "Tell me about it. I want to know!"


"Easier to show." Illyana exhales through her nose, eyes lidding, then spreads her fingers. An illusion washes into existence around them— but it's hollow. Rosemarie's apartment can be seen through the corners. But there's a fresh breeze that carries a bitter cold that smells of long frozen snow— frigid water and dense pine. A pale yellow sun, made distant by the thing air, rises. Far off comes a beautiful cry— a bit mournful, but sonorous nonetheless, giving a bit of stirring life to the emptiness of the Russian taiga.

"Always thought, was pretty sound," Illyana says, wistfully, looking around at the wastes. She hugs her arms— not out of cold, but memory.


"Oh!" There's the dissonance of the gasp and the fact that her breath never mists in the illusion that surrounds them suddenly. Rosemarie looks around, mouth agape, eyes wide, and takes in the sheer vastness of the wilderness around her.

She hears the call, cants her head to one side, and listens to it. "That's…beautiful," she finishes thoughtfully, eyes landing on Illyana. The illusory wind, carrying brushes of deep cold and pine sap, drifts between them and she reaches out once more to mirror the light grip that was offered to her earlier. One short squeeze of the thin wrist of her friend, reassuring in the face of possibly heavy memories, and then she brings her hands back into her lap where they rest, lost to her folded legs. "Thank you, Illyana. This is…amazing."


Illyana shrugs one shoulder, smiling at Rosemarie— and then the expression deepens, warming at Rosemarie's gentle comment. "I… thank you," she says. She turns her hand over and squeezes Rosemarie's fingers before her hand slips off, letting it trail away.

"Is just a little magic. Not even very good illusion," she admits. "I am not excellent at them. Better at moving energy," she explains. "Some transformation, things like that. Easier to move through myself than make something outside me." She tugs her hair into array and smiles once more, though it's a smaller, more gentle thing than she's had before.

"Is… anytime you wish to see it," Illyana offers. "I would be happy to show you more. Illusions, I mean," she tells Rosemarie.


"This? This isn't a good illusion?!" And Rosemarie laughs in disbelief, teeth flashing. She gestures to the room around her, curtained in the reaches of the snowy Taiga. Rising to her feet, she tentatively walks over to the nearest growth of stunted greenery. She reaches out, hesitantly, and feels the silky tingle of the magic brush her skin. Her fingertips, expecting to touch waxy pine fringes, sink through the phantom plant and then draw out again. The image never wavers and the brunette stands up again, grinning from ear to ear at Illyana.

"What else can you do? Oh! Show me your favorite illusion." An illusory gust of wind blows by and she giggles as she tucks hair away from her face again.


Illyana rises up and thinks. "I … well, I have not been many places," Illyana confesses. "But there was safe place I liked in Limbo when was dangerous." She moves to Rosemarie's side and exhales, holding her fingers in careful poise— she exhales, power flickering out from her in a glowing roll of mist.

It clears, slowly, and reveals a surprisingly lush and deep glade. A single mighty oak soars up from thick, uncut grass, and flowers and hedges form a barrier that makes it seem like the entire world vanishes around them.

"My friend's grove," she explains, quietly. She moves up next to Rosemarie, looking at everything but the girl— but her fingers slip over and give Rosemarie's fingers a gentle, very tentative squeeze, making a point of looking at everything in the illusion.


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