1963-11-14 - Ripping Out the Heartstrings
Summary: Illyana comes for some advice. She gets an eyeful and an earful.
Related: Post Traumatic Cleaning Disorder
Theme Song: Adna - The Prettiest
illyana strange wanda 

Feelings. /Confusing/ feelings. It leaves Illyana feeling a bit uncertain, and the young queen of Limbo hates nothing so much as the sure notion she's not entirely in control of the situation. It bothers at her for most of a day before she resolves to talk to her mentor about the recent change in her life dynamic.

She dons a simple shift— barely adequate for modesty, but at least a nod towards Strange's plaintive requests she at least dress herself before going downstairs— and clomps towards the small sitting room, her bare feet slapping on the hardwood before being muffled by the carpet.

It seems she's got good timing— Wanda and Strange aren't 'occupied' with one another, so she makes a beeline for Strange, clearing her throat to get his attention.

"Er… Strange?" she asks, a bit haltingly. "I, er, have question for you. About something personal," she adds, flickering a glance around the room.


The young apprentice does indeed find both of her mansion-mates downstairs in the living room. Her mentor, the good Doctor, is currently ensconced in his high-backed chair, brows knitted in mild concentration on the tome before him. More information on Meso-American religions and their shamanistic magics. He hasn't dabbled much in that Art, hence his curiosity. He scratches at the back of his hair, still wet from a recent shower, as he mumbles to himself. His robe is wrapped tightly about him over sweatpants. Bet Illyana has never seen him in sweatpants before. Feet, bare, held close to the fire in the hearth.

The man looks up at the transition from thump-thump to bump-bump to see Illyana approaching. Fingertip is left at the point of his last-read sentence and then he notes the hesitation, even as she speaks.

"Oh, of course, Illyana." A nearby pencil is used as a bookmark and the tome set aside the cup of tea that sits on the small table next to the armchair. Strange then shifts to sit on the edge of the chair, forearms leaned near-perpendicular to knees, hands hanging between his legs. "How can I help?" His apprentice is subjected to a most attentive steel-blue look. She doesn't come to him for help often; it's an rare opportunity for him.


'Occupied,' Miss Rasputina? Language matters, assuredly, in the business of verbs. The occupation tends to be laced by spellcasting and slaughter, conversation and cleaning.

Indeed, the destruction laid waste by Mordo upon the Sanctum Sanctorum requires someone to don gloves and haul around a bucket full of sudsy water, or more importantly, a round jar full of jam and preserves to entice a hunger spirit to latch on to an offering, then be jarred within a sealed container laced by images of cornucopias and Thanksgiving Day flyers from local grocery stores. Excess and gluttony are the very sort of thing to counteract famine, and the riffling wards might purr in contentment to see another of their loosed horrors placed into confinement like a particularly loathed foreign queen. Yes, we want the heir but not you, wicked spirit.

Said jar lies on a counter in one of the study rooms.

Said captor drifts out in a silk robe, deeper than the shade of arctic seas around glaciers, her piled up locks messily secured in place by wooden chopstick-like hairpins. Water drips down her neck, marking a few scratches, faint against golden skin. Wanda wipes away one of the droplets percolating beneath her headband to her brow, painting a long streak of glistening light over her warmth-blushed cheek. She ventures on light steps, her choice of socks very strange indeed: knee high, inside-out, cut out between the big toe and the rest to allow for some greater flexibility. The design is decidedly not American, in any sense. They muffle her steps, assuredly, and her robe leaves a fair bit of leg visible to any normal standards as she flits into the room. Nothing much announces her.

Nothing much should. She scarce stands out, but the silhouette painted by the light and the faintest bell trill of her aura whispering against the Sight could well give her away. She's not actively trying to hide.


Illyana gives Wanda a glance. The leggy redhead is not being stealthy intentionally, but Illyana's hair-trigger instincts make her surprisingly difficult to sneak up on. Or catch unaware. She dithers on the edge of retreat but steels herself— she's committed herself to this line of discussion and clearly is making a mental effort not to let the topic get derailed by Wanda's presence.

"Is… difficult topic. I asked friend for advice, but they all say, 'be direct', so, am being direct," she says, gripping her hair with one hand and twisting at it with a tugging motion.

She eyes the sofa then drops into a cushion adjacent to Strange, tucking her legs under her so she can turn to face him. She'd look almost girlish, with skinny, coltish legs and that long, hay-blonde hair— save for the presence of chaotic energy that give her aura palpable presence at all times. A walking, seething bundle of the power of Limbo, barely contained in the body of a nineteen year old woman.

"If there were someone you knew. Was close to," she tells Strange, haltingly. "Even good friend, maybe. And they liked you— I mean," she leans forward, voice dropping. "/Liked/ you. But, if they were not sure if you liked them back. Would… would it be better for them to say they like you? Or would be better for to just stay quiet?" She gives Strange a tentative, almost nervous look, transferring that icy blue gaze to Wanda briefly, then back to Strange, inquisition in her eyes.


This was not was he was expecting. It's clear in how Strange leans back and blinks a few times. A question involving the Ninth Dimension? A query about what spirit is still loose around the Sanctum? Possibly those. Not this.

Mouth opens and shuts once before he glances over his shoulder towards Wanda; not quite pleadingly, but perhaps an unconscious query regarding back-up.

"Well, that's…an excellent question, Illyana," he begins, folding his hands in his lap and twiddling his thumbs. "I would have to consider whether or not the person showed me any signs of liking me first. I would then go from there, depending on how I thought they would react. If the person was shy, maybe I'd wait and see if they were brave enough to say something. If they were not shy, I'd probably say something myself. You know…the whole…mirroring thing," the good Doctor finishes rather lamely and frowns at the fire momentarily.


The two predators in the House of Strange will naturally circle one another, claws mildly sheathed and eyes alert for deviations, by nature of what they are. Most mystics are solitary creatures in their practice; that Wanda — under other circumstances — might not be singular was foiled at the instant of her birth by an elder god's pronouncement.

Leopards and tigers do not co-exist happily in one another's company. Are they kin of another spot or stripe? Wanda surrenders little threat overtly. Her dreamy, cloistered expression, eyes lidded in heavy somnolence, cast her in an almost whimsical light. Her painted toenails glitter under a sheen of crimson, wiggled and reflexively curled as she draws into the firelight's warmer embrace.

It's an auto-da-fe for the second time in a row, but one in steel and Russian hay. A mild look returned stands up to scrutiny, the mass mutiny her posture might give under guilty circumstances absent. At least for now, though she presses a fingertip to her lips in thoughtful regard.

"Truth is the only way to know," states the Transian sorceress, sliding past them at the unspoken invitation that brings her in. "It is not healthy to assume. The wisdom of truth can hurt or heal. Better to have honesty rather than live in a lie. But you must be strong to live with the answer."


Compared to the lush Transian, Illyana can't help but feel a squirming self-consciousness that manifests as a flushing on her brow. Wanda's makeup, her feline self-possession— and the tacit elevation that Strange gives her as his mate— give Illyana a frustrated pause she can't even justifiably articulate.

But it's clearly annoying her that Wanda's giving her advice. /Good/ advice, even worse.

"I do not know what such interest would look like, Strange," Illyana says, her voice a bit dry. "Romance is a new enterprise. But, as Wanda said," she concedes, "is best to be direct. So, direct approach— noted."

"What does the direct approach look like?" she asks. "If I wanted to show someone interest but… perhaps they are secretly shy. Or," she admits, "not interested. I am scared— if I were honest, and they rebuffed, would ruin friendship," she says.


"There is that chance of being rebuffed, yes," Strange agrees, giving his apprentice a small, supportive smile. He hopes it doesn't happen, not to her. The little blonde waif has grown on him, even if she does continue to play with the strings of the Ninth Dimension against his better judgment. "But I think you'd know before you even asked. So…interest."

The Sorcerer hums as he rubs at one line of his goatee, eyes back to the fire once more. His fidgeting hand is rotated outwards and fingers tick off options. "The physiological signs can be obvious and not so obvious. The obvious ones are sweaty hands, sustained eye contact, smiling, blushing, leaning towards you when you talk to them. Oh, dilated eyes, don't forget those." He nods to himself. Fingers are reset. "Not so obvious ones are…they smell good to you or you to them. They touch their hair or neck. Point their toes. Maybe you can see their pulse flutter."

Now he's smiling to himself and very pointedly not looking openly towards the Witch. Eyes on the fire. "Now, direct approach. The most direct would be to ask them to do something with you. Dinner, coffee, walk in the park. If they choose to come with you, that's a great indicator of interest in you."


The direct approach is met by the mildest uptick of the sorceress' dark brows. Diamonds of water glitter on her brow, a spangled diadem beneath the stretched lattice of carmine threads secured by garnet-studded barrettes. Wanda settles onto her knees, modestly gathered between Strange and Illyana. The fire flirts with her presence, sinking into the curtain of her piled hair and glazing her in an amber cast that might remind of ancient times when pagan goddesses and gods cavorted freely with mages, and the world whispered its eldritch secrets freely in tongues turned to dust. "But the act…"

One should not be able to make throwing off a dusky tendril so enticing, but perhaps given the concentration on her features, she does.

"Hello, Dmitri. We have been friends a long time." Grave, amber-brown eyes lift through her lashes, her face tilting up to give a more direct look. It's a difficult balance, making eye contact and not staring, being direct but not bold, in an era where women are very much eye candy. Trophies. Prizes, as one measures them. "I look forward to your company. We have such fun together." Her weight shifts as she settles upon her right leg more than her left, hooking her heels under the seat and placing her hands atop one another. "And now… I see how good you are. What you mean to me. I care about you as more than a friend."

She pauses there, and pinches index finger to thumb, and draws a horizontal line in front of her. "You stop then. Let them talk." Another pause draws out, not as long as the first. Wanda rolls her shoulders, trying to fight the slip of the silken robe off her shoulder. Clearly it was made for someone a little broader and taller than she is, the smothering proportions somehow defying gravity by taking a lemming leap off the cliff of her upper arm. She can discreetly fix it… later. When not under scrutiny.
"Let him lead." Her shoulders rise and fall, easily wrought in gesture what could be said plainly. It goes how it goes. "A bad answer from them, you can leave in grace. A good one, you go on with it. There is no single solution."


"'As more than friend'." Illy's lips twist at the words, but she nods slow comprehension of Wanda's offered words. "I see. More than friend, less than… whatever else might be. Da. I see," she assures the dusky woman. If Wanda's a sensual bundle of suggestion, then Illyana sits in contrast as all pale angles and bright hair, a little bundle of crystallized wind on the taiga and the sun dancing on the wings of a kestrel. She even has those sharp, hawkish features, the predatory eyes that seem to miss very little and those hunter's twitches at least sounds around her.

Her hair continues to twist into knots in one hand as she tugs on it in unconscious betrayal of worry, badly tangling the sheet of blonde hair into a twisted rope that will no doubt require much maintenance in a day or two. She looks to Strange, and relaxes immensely, examining his face. "I… yes. Blushing and surprise," she murmurs, eyes opening wide a bit as a sincere example of stunned reaction washes over his lean features. "I see now— is much clearer. I think I know where I stand now." She scooches off the sofa with a flash of bare flanks, and looks to Wanda. "Thank you, Wanda." She turns her blue eyes to Strange and ventures a small, almost coy smile. "And, thank you— Strange," she adds. She dips her head in something like a little regal bow, and then walks out of the study, looking much more self-possessed than she had a few minutes prior.


Cue the Sorcerer Supreme watching with a rather rapt, interested expression as the Witch lays it all out, body language and words alike, with an ease that he honestly envies. He likes to think himself rather excellent at explaining things, but…hands down, Wanda did it best.

So well, actually, that Illyana's comment catches him rather off-guard. The movement in his peripheral makes him glance over to see himself being examined as closely. Wow, did that blush get deeper or what! Caught, red-eared, and no way to defend himself, especially with how she immediately departs the room after a very cheeky little grin to him.

In the silence that follows, he leans his elbow on the arm of the chair and hides part of his face behind his palm. Then a long, audible sigh of resigned acceptance that perhaps, it was a positive thing that he so unthinkingly acted as a brilliant example.

Followed by slowly-dawning horror of the suspicion…NO. His eyes open and shift to Wanda, his palm slowly dropping from its place on his cheek. "You don't…you don't think she was asking after me? About signs of affection in me?!"


When the pause presents itself, Wanda hooks her thumb underneath the generous royal blue collar and eases the sleeve back up over the track of tawny skin. A sharp, discreet tug diminishes the slack, pulling the excess under the tie around her waist. "Yes." The answer is blunt, direct, and unstinting as she slips out of her role to teach. Firelight makes her something aught than what she might normally be, concealing the edges, bathing the violence inherent in the system under velvet shadow. A blade sheathed, though, is still a blade.

The blushing to the level of impending nosebleed warrants pause, and keeping her tongue squarely behind her teeth even if it means biting hard enough to nearly bleed. So she remains, giving a nod of farewell to Illyana when it's abundantly clear the unjessed hawk plans to flap off and scream at a trout or a Chevy it divebombed.

Strange's question crashes down on the Scarlet Witch. Her mind has already disemboweled most of the probabilities, laid them out, measured and calculated and reconsidered, at a speed that makes her absolutely hellish to any gambling parlour in Sin City. Is it visible? No. She is not smug, contemplative more than anything. Is this where Yaga's lessons to be gracious need apply? Likely so.

"You know the answer to that, cerhen."


A pause. A wrinkle of his nose, shift of half-lidded eyes to the door that his apprentice departed through. Finally, an answer, given regretfully and with a note of embarrassment.

"I do. It's not me. Illyana is…she does what she wants," Strange says with a breathy laugh and a shrug. "I doubt anything would have stopped her if she truly wanted it. I wonder though…"

He sips the last of his tea, now cold, and sets down the cup to rub his hands slowly together. He's warding off cold and the prickles of sore nerves and…looking noticeably contemplative? "I should pursue this, perhaps. Figure out who she's interested in. For safety, of course."


Kneeling on the floor might be well and good, were there not a number of aches and protests that even a hot shower cannot undo. Putting her hand to the arm of Strange's chair, the witch rises to her feet. A sweep of her hands down that midnight robe restores a sensibility required to appear other than an unkempt cat scampering out from the shower.

The tip of her head realigns a fresh course of shadows down her throat, caught in the nexus betwixt shoulder and neck. Wanda's thoughts are wrought in her knowing, unexpectedly honey-bright gaze long before they reach her lips, a contemplative tone adopted for a simple question with lasting ramifications. "What will you do if she wants you?"

Her hands reach out to briefly touch his, infinitely warmer than the dregs of the tea and likely absorbing the fire's warmth. She burns hot to the point of scalding, sometimes, given the adequate opportunity to dine that night.


What a question to ask!

Tilting his head slightly to one side, Wanda is granted that oh-so-charming one-sided smirk and arched eyebrow. "Do I hear a tiny hint of jealousy, Rakshasi?" He returns the grip, brushing thumbs overtop smooth, shower-softened knuckles. "Worried that I might succumb to sharp elbows and gunnysacks?"

Uh oh, now he's grinning totally, as if trying not to laugh. Trust Strange to make light of such a serious query. If that's not answer enough, he continues on. "No, don't worry. I see no reason why she would suddenly take interest in me. I've been gruff long enough and…quite honestly, been too stern with her at times. I highly doubt anything would happen. But - you asked 'if'. If it happens… I've been claimed."

A darker twinkle in those steel-blue eyes now.

"I can be as blunt as Illyana if need be, though I certainly won't be looking to make her cry. Gods. That would be…a fiasco." He sighs, gaze averted, and then glances back up to her. "I am yours."


The charming smirk meets with a flat expression, eyes perilously close to being tiger-like and, if nature allowed, pupil-slitted. Wanda looks at her beringed fingers and then his digits, possibly counting mentally, before violence be done.

The violence of giving his knuckle a sharp, pertinent little nip while Strange went and looked the other way, thinking about making a sharp Russian demon-child cry. She chooses her mark carefully, leaving a double band of crescents parallel to his knuckle.

"Some women like stern. They might enjoy your jokes." 'Jokes.' Bedside manner that amounts to 'I'm always right, take your damned medicine, and I'll demand you pay upfront before its efficacy is determined.' Her gaze holds a critical element, before lifting to meet his. "It will do until we make something better."

Dark twinkle, meet the firebath of molten gold poured to a bronze crucible.

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