1963-11-23 - Fledglings
Summary: Every bird must learn to fly. Some jump on their own, others are aided by a friend.
Related: None
Theme Song: Come Fly with Me - Frank Sinatra
rosemarie illyana 


Illyana had called Rosemarie and left a message— after a bit of phone tag, they'd managed to make contact and find a time that Illy could come visit her friend. The young blonde woman had dressed up a bit more than usual, wearing a loose, knee-length skirt in tawny brown and a cross-tied bodice in tan and yellow. The cardigan she's shrugged into gives her bare arms a bit of modesty and wards off the November chill on the coast of the ocean.

After a warm hug hello and some polite chatter, Illy and Rose had settled into the couch again to talk. The lanky blonde woman removed her cardigan and folded it over one arm, setting her little clutch aside, and sits facing Rosemarie with a leg folded under her with a boneless dexterity.

"Thank you, for making time tonight," the blonde Russian says, flashing a smile at Rosemarie. "Do not wish to be imposition but, we had good time before, so I thought… maybe should do again soon, da?"


"Oh, absolutely!" Rosemarie exclaims quietly. She's still dressed in a warmly-knitted sweater dress of sorts, one bulky enough to hide the homeostatis-aiding vest beneath its pattern. She was comfortable in many ways and folds her hands in her lap even as she gives Illyana a friendly grin. "I have some odd hours this week coming up at the library - one of the other aides is out sick, something about the flu - but I can make time, you bet."

She tucks a loose strand of chestnut hair behind her ear as she reaches down to begin unlacing her ankle-high boots. "What time and day were you thinking? Maybe we can go see the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza? I think it should be up by now. Or was it next week?" The young woman's brows meet in a momentary frown before she shrugs and breaks the pause in fiddling with the tightly-drawn knot of laces. "Regardless, the ice rink might be open too."


"Christmas… tree?" Illyana looks baffled. "I do not know what this is, but if you wish to go, I'll go with you," she assures Rosemarie, a bit impulsively. "I do not know what ice rink is, but would be willing to try," she adds, with a game expression— clearly very willing to just jump in with any activity Rosemarie proposes.

She fidgets a little, twisting her fingers. Her hair's been done quite nicely, hanging behind her in a shimmering, single ponytail held by a lone band, and with a few short bangs dancing across her brow.

"Um… Rose, may ask question?" she inquires, twisting her fingers together as if wishing she could tug on her hair instead. "I… why is you never fly?" she asks, blurting a bit. "Are you scared of heights?"


The brunette glances up at the lilt of confusion in Illyana's voice and aborts unlacing her boots to scratch behind one ear abruptly in a fidgit of self-recrimination. She tends to forget that there are still things that the blonde Russian hasn't quite figured out yet or understands the reference to.

"You'll like both things, I promise." Maybe she's assuming though, since there is some minor weird leap in logic between Illyana being of north-eastern European origin and stuff pertaining to winter.

The question is unexpected, of course, and gains the asker not only a prolonged look, but a light blush from the recipient as well.

"Oh, uh…I've…never tried to," Rosemarie finally admits. Even the thought of her wings causes a prickling sensation between her shoulder-blades followed by a rush of mild adrenaline in her veins. It's impossible to ignore the itch and she reaches back in a most unlady-like manner to scratch at it as well. This is, however, a good indicator of her comfort level around her friend. "I'm not scared of heights, no. I couldn't work as a librarian's aid if I was. I climb ladders all day long." A little laugh, offered a little nervously. Where is Illyana going with this?


"I wanted to thank you for… being kind to me," Illyana tells Rosemarie. Mostly true. "And being honest. I know is… sometimes scary? Being different," she says. "And I am not always good at, you know — " she gestures, trying to make the words happen. "ugh, cannot find word— I am not scared, but I am not good at knowing you might not be scared, da?" she says, the translation failing her. Her English is impeccable, but the nuances of speech seem to escape her.

"So I had idea. I know place where you can try to fly. Very safe, and you won't get hurt— and no one but me will see you attempt," she tells Rosemarie. "And! is not far away. If you— if you want to try it," she says, looking … almost vulnerable as she offers Rosemarie her company.


Cue a swallow from Rosemarie, who takes in all of this with an odd wobble to her stomach. No one's ever thanked her for being kind before. Wasn't everyone in the world supposed to be kind? Well…in light of the alleged spaceship crash (Aliens? Really?) and then the disaster that was the latest Ed Sullivan show… The pair of them aren't the weirdest things to exist in New York, apparently.

Or the most different.

"Oh!" Her lips are left in the pert bud of surprise for a moment as she blinks and then shuts her mouth. "I…suppose I can try to fly. I really haven't tried at all though, Illy." It hurts a little to admit this, like she's been deliberately ignoring some amazing concept because she's too afraid to chase it. Oh wait. "Where is this place?" She asks the question with a sudden drop in volume and consequent increase in wariness. It's no insult cast upon Illyana, truly - it's just…she can only take so much weirdness in one sitting at a time.


Illyana hedges. On the one hand— it's clearly something she's very excited about. On the other— Rosemarie's tentative response leaves her dithering on the edge of decision. Almost anyone else would be getting hauled bodily along by the wrist, but this time, Illyana offers her fingers to Rosemarie first.

"Somewhere not on Earth," she says, cagily. "But not far away. Is easier to show, than explain. Please — promise. Nothing bad will happen."

"Very likely nothing bad will happen," she amends, forced to a bit of honesty by the prick of her conscience. "Will be safer there than New York, anyway."


The hand outstretched retreats slightly at the amendment of 'very likely', but…so far, Illyana has never given her anything to worry about. If there's going to be any sort of magic (ohhhhhhh good lord, she just admitted to 'magic' like it was a completely normal happenstance in this world, give the girl a round of applause!) going on, it will probably be a good idea to have a grasp on familiarity.

"Well, New York is pretty safe," Rosemarie says with a little giggle that peters out into a moue of mild discontent. "Was pretty safe," she mutters, but then looks up at the blonde Russian through her lashes. "I have a feeling you won't let anything bad happen to me."

Her smile is true, even if marred slightly by the scar on her upper lip.


"Never," Illyana assures Rosemarie. She rises, bringing the other girl to her feet, then stamps a foot once on the ground. A pale yellow circle flickers into life, weirdly replacing the carpet under their toes. She takes one, two steps, and Rosemarie's apartment melts away, and a bizarre landscape replaces it— it's quite a bit warmer than New York, with an oddly ozone smell and something vaguely ammoniac in the air? Mountains and hills loom in the distance, improbably large and in brazen defiance of gravity or classic physics.

"This is my land," Illyana says— she gestures around. They sit at the basin of a valley, though it's more a bowl than a mere depression in the land, atop a high tower's peak in what looks like a child's rendition of what a fairy tale tower should resemble. Dozens of towers, parapets, chambers, and walls go in haphazard disarray, with no real thought towards architectural symmetry.

"Welcome to Limbo," she says, gesturing around them and squeezing Rose's fingers. "We're on top of my castle."


A sort of weebling sound escapes Rosemarie's partially-opened lips. Her eyes are wide with surprise and she might remember later the sensation of possibly grinding Illyana's bones together within her grasp.

She tries to contain the speed of her breathing as she surveys the land that spreads before her. Nothing makes a lot of sense here and why are those mountains so big if they're so far away and they are higher up off the ground that she expected - but what the hell was she expecting anyways and oh geez, her heart is beating rather fast now. Oh, here it comes.

With a squeak of shock and a wince that hides away rapidly-paling irises, the brunette undergoes a rapid shift from pure human to partial-something else. Pop — out comes the feathering behind her ears in those arcing curves, like the tail feathers of a rooster. Pop - there are the fans at her elbows, like some twist on an ancient dinosaur, more bird than reptile. And RRRRIP!!!

There goes the delicate stitching of her sweater dress as the wings come into play. They momentarily catch in a passing breeze and the young woman squeaks again, grasping Illyana's fingers hard and hoping that her sharp nails don't cut at her friend's skin.

"I — I — I was n-not expecting this-s-s," she finally stutters, blinking at the blonde with peach-hued eyes.


Illyana grips Rosemarie quite firmly when the girl has a mild panic attack. She doesn't know what to do — most people would make soothing noises. Illyana clearly assumes Rosemarie is scared of heights, and just grounds her firmly against the oddly mushy stones under their shoes.

"Would have been odd if you were expecting it," Illyana says, with a mildly confused frown. "Am not sure anyone but few people have been to Limbo before, let alone my home here."

She just sort of hangs out for a few moments while Rosemarie gets her bearings, examining her feathers with a frank interest. She'd never seen Rose go full avian before, and it's clearly fascinating her in a way that's only a little impolite— though she's clearly not repulsed by it. "Your feathers are very pretty," she tells Rosemarie — perhaps a bit over-loudly. Trying to get her to focus on anything but the non-Euclidean horizontal intersections.


"Th-th-th-this is y-y-your home?!" Rosemarie manages, even as she acknowledges the general freakyness of the reality around her. "It-it's d-different," she chatters through clicking teeth.

Feathers? Oh, yeah, feathers. Releasing her hold on one of Illyana's hands, the brunette feels behind her ears and it seems to help her come to grips with the situation. Yes, she has gone into full-avian mode. Carefully, she disengages her other hand and then immediately collapses to her knees. Not quite a result of the panic attack, partially to make her wings more streamlined and less apt to catch at the passing vespers.

"S-so, um," she tries again, looking up at Illyana and swallowing. She's trying very hard to remain rational here. "You m-mentioned f-flying. Up here?"


"Da," Illyana says— and she simply lifts a few inches into the air and floats sideways, until she's no longer earthbound and what looks like a 300 foot drop is under her. "Is Limbo. Can make all gravity, or no gravity, or make it sideways if you like. I keep it turned down because sideways, makes me feel sick," she explains. She's not joking, either. "And don't have to keep track of which hallways to avoid."

She darts up six feet, then turns in a lazy, swooping circle, over Rosemarie's head and trailing fingertips over her pinions without tugging on them. "For me, flying is just 'not standing'. I think 'Not want to stand', so— flying. Limbo makes it easy for me. For you, though, you will need to fly, I think. We have flying things here— some demon kin, and there are many things what are like— lizards, da? But wings. Not many birds, though," she admits. "Not sure why. Might figure it out someday." She swoops in a lazy arc, her dress flipping around her thighs and baring skinny, strong legs. "But if you fall, here, I can catch you."


"Wha — " The word is aborted at the mind-melting sight of Illyana just suddenly levitating and then doing loops, for heaven's sake!

She flinches just slightly at the passing brush of touch along her wings - more of a reaction from the sense of otherness in her genetic makeup - and then continues to kneel there. Assuredly, her expression conveys what words cannot: how on earth is this possible?!

Limbo. She called this place 'Limbo', not earth - Earth. Demons?!

The brunette gathers bravery about her like armor and slowly rises to her feet, arms spread in counter-balance in case ofa gust of wind. She takes a few steps towards the edge and…looks out. That is…a long way to fall. Another tiny squeak out of her as Rosemarie shrinks down a bit, hugging at herself. "So…w-w-what do you mean demons? Catch me?" she adds, eyes flicking to the clearly-flying Illyana.


"Demons," Illyana repeats. "We are in anterior realms in Limbo. Much more chaos, more potential. Higher realms, more ordered, more focus. So, tend to see things like— oh, crystal golems, hard light archons, and so on. Here, evolution drives. Had parrot demons for time. Then the priyka nut trees mutated into shrubs. Parrots couldn't fly, so, monkeys take over. Monkeys ate the priyka nut bushes, but also golana vine. The elemental parademons did not like. So, much violence, and most recently, see more simians alone, and parademons making cities. Will all burn down, start over soon," she says, with a dismissive wave of her hand. "But that is on the bled— the open lands of Limbo. This is my demesne— I have all authority here. Do not let demons war or fight for resources, keeps things peaceful."

She floats to the edge of the perch, and smiling, offers both hands to Rosemarie, only a few feet from her. "Come fly with me. Promise — will not let you fall."


"…okay." What else does one say in the face of such calmly-offered rationale involving parrot demons and some sort of monkey demons that eat nuts and evolution? Rosemarie wants badly to reach out for those palms, just beyond the reach of her fingertips, but it means stepping off the edge of the parapet and it is a long ways down still. The beacon of normalcy here, in Illyana proper, is something she desperately craves in the face of this Mystical novelty.

"But I don't know how to fly!" The brunette voice wavers in frustration. "I have these stupid wings that don't do anything more than show up when I don't want them to and ruin my clothing!" True statement though. The sweater dress hangs half off of one of her shoulders, baring the lightly-freckled skin of her scapula.

The midnight-blue extensions of her body seem to take exception to this statement and, perhaps out of otherly spite, flap once. Rosemarie eeeps and drops to one knee, eyes wide. "I didn't tell them to do that!"

Yes, it sounds crazy, but it's true. She hasn't mastered the art of the symbiosis of the otherness within her blood.


Illyana considers Rosemarie's frustration, the way her body rebukes what her head 'knows'. She floats closer, then closer, her flats scraping against the stone as she lands. She stoops and scoops Rosemarie up in her arms, hugging her arms around her hips and pressing their bellies together.

"Must have faith. Why have wings, if not to fly?" Illyana says, with somewhat reductionist but rather sound logic. She holds Rosemarie tight — and she is much stronger than she appears — and lifts into the air, taking Rosemarie with her. They pitch backwards over the tower, falling much less slowly than one would on Earth— Illy's blonde hair whipping around them as they gain speed, her cool, hawkish features utterly serene and examining Rosemarie's face intently from up close as she waits to see what'll take hold first — instincts, panic, or decision.

But whatever holds Illyana aloft, for the moment, falls away as the two women start their lazy plummet.


Another startled sound escapes Rosemarie's lips as she's lifted, with apparent ease, up against Illyana's lean body until her toes barely scrape the oddly-spongy stones beneath her feet.

"Illy, Illy, wait, WAIT, NO, STAAAAAAAAAAAAHP!!!"

The name comes first, as they rise into the air. The brunette's boots kick at nothing even as her hands dig into her friend's shoulders with bruising force — hope the sweater Illyana wears is thick enough to avoid being sliced by talon-nails! The plea to pause happens as her inner ear and widened eyes tell her that she is falling forwards, being drawn into gravity's pull, what the HELL?! The cry for the complete cessation of this exercise comes as they gather speed in the fall.

Her arms are braced straight even as she pushes away at Illyana's body, heart racing until the world around her becomes fever-clear, and then…YANK. Her wings unfurl to catch the updraft rushing towards the void-like sky above them and the sudden fall stops. Rosemarie claws futilely at the air beneath her even as a strangled, "Illy?!" issues forth. Her shoulders feel like they are being tugged on mercilessly — it's like being strung up by a backpack somehow — and then the up-welling of air fails. The pocket of her arched wings collapses and the brunette flails as gravity begins to pull once more. The wings try mightily to right her and regain the moment of hovering, but try as they might, her panic readily destroys any sort of attempt.


Illyana's arms slip around Rosemarie's waist from behind, and she hugs Rosemarie tightly and de-celerates her by dint of sheer force of will. Rosemarie's lazy but terrifying plunge becomes a slow, featherlike descent, and Illyana sets Rosemarie gently on the ground, before moving to hover six inches off the paving stones near her. One hand remains on Rosemarie's hip, and she gives her friend a concerned look.

"So — not great start," she admits. "But, had it for just a few seconds, I think? Looked close, like could almost fly. Are you ready to go again?" After all, it's not like Rosemarie is PHYSICALLY injured, or anything!


Far, far away from Limbo, in another dimension entirely, a man pauses and frowns, looking around himself, before going back to sipping at his tea and reading a tome. What a scream!

Luckily enough, the sense of otherness within Rosemarie manages to counteract most of the flailing and, in combination with Illyana's firm encircling about her waist, the brunette manages to avoid meeting the grim demise she has been envisioning all the while as the ground has been approaching.

The slowing causes her to attempt to reorient her brain, still rattling about with panic, but…what's this now? The insidious little voice, deep within her psyche, telling her that this adrenaline rush was…fun?!

Panting herself nearly light-headed, Rosemarie looks over at her friend and babbles incoherently for long enough that it surely causes the blonde a smidge more concern.

Eventually, though, with every feather shaking on her body, the brunette manages a single word. "What?!"

Without conscious thought, her fingers have wrapped around Illyana's wrist and grasp it with intent to, quite frankly, never let go — at least while here in Limbo.


"Are you ready to try again?" Illyana says, repeating herself in the exact same tone of voice. "Did very well, until you stopped flying. I saw your wings catch and then they kind of… quit?" she hazards.

She puts her other hand atop Rosemarie's gripping fingertips. Weirdly, Illyana's skin seems too tough for those sharp nails to do more than rake at. Perhaps it's another property of Limbo?

"Seems better to start from higher up," she tells Rosemarie. "Start too low, takes too long for wings to open, da? Unless get running start and learn to coast. I don't know about flying," she admits. "Maybe should have studied book on it or something. How do birds do it? Can make like bird, da?"


"Make like bird…?" It's a pitiful-sounding question that quickly turns into a whine that turns into a rather disconcerting laugh. Tears stand in the brunette's eyes and are wiped away after the strained giggling fades away into silence. A sniff, peach-hued eyes averted to her feet, and then up through her lashes. All the while, her friend has been stoically awaiting her reply.

"Illy. I am afraid," she finally whispers, knuckling at her eyes again. Her grip on the blonde's wrist never slackens. "I am so afraid to listen to this…otherness in me. I don't want to try again, but…I don't know what else to do."

It's a heavy admission from the young woman.


Illyana looks a bit unsure of herself — not knowing what to do. Rosemarie's combination of adrenaline and fear leave the slender blonde woman unsure of herself, and she awkwardly scratches the back of her calf with her toe opposite, listening and showing a bit of flickering hesitation.

"I don't know," Illyana admits, finally, shaking her head. "My belly says, you should fly. I don't know why," she confesses. "But these wings, surely, some kind of gift, da? Not meant for looking at alone, or hiding." She strokes one of the pinions as Rosemarie's wings lazily fluff behind her, then looks back at her friend. "I was afraid too. When discovered powers — learned magic. Did not have choice but to learn," she says. "But… perhaps was only kindness Belasco ever gave me," she says, bitter that she has to give him any sympathy. "Did not give me choice to be afraid. Learn, or die."


"But…but your magic comes so naturally to you," Rosemarie says in a near-whisper. "The illusions, they — they're so beautiful and I can see that it doesn't stress you at all to use the magic. Whoever this Belasco is…he's a right bastard." Even with the glassiness of tears, those off-colored eyes can harden to glittering gems. "Your magic is wonderful. You should not have been given that option." The brunette's shoulders slump.

"I'm sorry." And Illyana is enfolded in a sudden hug. The wings, in their hues of midnight and dusk, wrap around to further embrace the blonde Russian. "You didn't deserve that."


Illyana looks rather surprised by the hug. She tenses instantly, muscles hardening under Rosemarie's embrace.

A second later, almost before it becomes embarrassing, she tentatively returns Rosemarie's hug, arms slipping around her waist and squeezing her close, resting her cheek on Rosemarie's shoulder.

"Is… thank you," she says, remembering a bit of graciousness about kindnesses Piotr had once impressed on her. "Cannot change what happened. Just must make best of it," she says. She rests her temple against Rosemarie's head, eyes shutting, and inhales slowly through her nose. A pleased little sigh escapes her lips and she makes no effort to break away from the embrace for quite a while.

"I decided — cannot undo what is done. Must make best of it. I do not want to abdicate Limbo, or quit or leave it to others to rule. And I cannot set magic aside." She leans back a little, looking at Rosemarie's face, and brushes a little hair back from her friend's avian cheekbones, a tentative little motion. "Cannot change who I am, da? And I think, you are in same boat. Better to accept all of what you are."


The taller brunette listens to her friend speak, all the while resting her cheek against the fine blonde hair and turning back and forth ever-so-slightly, a rotational rocking of sorts. Shift the focus away from her own troubles and Rosemarie's inherent drive to help kicks in with ferocity! It's too easy for her to linger as well; the slight yet solid presence in her arms is still grounding and it appeals to her shaken psyche at a base level. After all, they still stand in Limbo, which is worlds apart and a planet's worth of difference in comparison to Earth proper.

No, she can't change who she is. Even as she blushes a bit under the delicate realigning of a loose strand of tangled chestnut hair, Rosemarie holds those true-blue eyes. Illyana is so earnest in her words, in her particularly-peculiar way, and the response she receives is initially just a little sniffle.

Then, with obvious reticence, Rosemarie mumbles, "Yes…I suppose so. Got feathers and all. Wings. Yay?" The wings draw back and fold behind her shoulders in a neutral position.


Illyana nods and grips Rosemarie's fingers with her hand, and then abruptly the two of them are levitating upwards again, moving skywards at a smooth acceleration that's oddly unlike being in an elevator. It doesn't take long to get them atop the battlement, and Illyana remains floating in the air while Rosemarie comports herself, looking a bit worried.

"Okay, so we try again, da? What — what would help?" Illyana asks the exquisite hybrid woman. "More wind, less wind…? Need, uh, how you say— training wheels?"


Worried, yes, absolutely, but perhaps noticeably more composed than when last she stood atop the battlement. Rosemarie cranes her head to look down again and can't help scratching at her elbow even as she licks her dry lips.

"I - I honestly don't know. Um. Let me…let me try again," she says breathily, voice nearly failing her. "Don't change anything just yet." She looks a shade paler even as she approaches the edge. A little flinch in her expression as the wings expand once more, the flight feathers rippling in the passing gust of wind. "I guess…catch me again?" The pulsing of heart, ricocheting about her ribcage, must surely be seen at her throat as she glances upwards towards Illyana.


Illyana's face flickers a smile at her friend and she nods once, affirmatively. "Always," she tells Rosemarie. "Will not let you get hurt." She sounds utterly sincere in that assertion. "I think this time, open wings early, da?" she ventures. "Waited too long, last time— fell far before you started trying to fly. So, maybe think more about… gliding?" she ventures. "Might work better than just trying not to fall."


"Gliding. Open the wings and glide. Gliding sounds easy. Okay, gliding… Okay, Rose, you can do this. And…go."

All that self-help talk and yet her steps lead her to remain still at the edge of the parapet. "Come on, come on, come on," the brunette mutters behind clenched teeth, shoulder still up around her ears, gaze averted not to the far earth below but to the mountains beyond. "Just jump, you'll be fine."

Suddenly, she turns in place and glances up at Illyana again. "How do you work your magic? Is it…you just think of it? Like, focus on it and then it happens? I'm trying…the other stuff, you know?" Even she's not sure if she's making sense in what she's asking.


Illyana gives Rosemarie a level, almost /prim/ look. "Stalling. Can come push you again, if would help?" she offers. "Need to not think about it. Just — do," she suggests. "Thinking too much, you think of all the ways can go wrong, mistakes you make, how far ground is. Just jump and glide. Otherwise, you think too much about falling."

She folds her arms over her narrow chest and stares at Rosemarie, vastly less cuddly than she was a few minutes prior.


Dammit — that tiny little voice in the back of her brain giggles in glee. Push her off the parapet? It would work, it did before and would again. The closing off of Illyana's posture is enough to make Rosemarie's shoulders rise up a little higher still.

"Okay." Quietly said and raised, the white flag of surrender. Yes, she was stalling, caught red-handed. With a shuddering inhale, the brunette brings her toes to hang over the edge of the odd stones.

A frisson of adrenaline is enough to make her wings give a half-hearted flap and make her unfold her arms. Fingers are stretched down at her sides, out to their tips, and she bends her knees once or twice. "Oh my god," she breathes, stretching the last word as she bends at the waist…and throws herself out into the open air.

At first, blind panic once more as the odd near-gravity begins to pull at her. She claws at nothing before her, her scream caught up in her throat, feet pedaling equally for purchase where there is none. The wind catches in her wings and…she's gliding. With her eyes shut.


Illyana dips into a low dive and flickers sideways, as effortlessly as if she were swimming in a pool. She follows along warily, watching as Rosemarie's wings open — she smiles when an updraft takes the girl's wings and lifts her up into a low, lazy glide. Controlled, natural. Graceful, even.

Illyana rolls around until she's doing a backstroke beneath Rosemarie, unbothered by the inverted position, and a giggle escapes her lips. "Flying with eyes shut — not safe, da?" she asks, teasingly. "Might run into tree or something. Would be embarrassing way to end flying career."


One eyelid cracks open and then the other to accompany the surprised squeak that emerges from Rosemarie's lips. She's…flying!!! Well, no, gliding, really, but — same difference?! And Illyana is flying too, but belly-up and like she's swimming and…this is all kind of…freakishly delightful.

As luck would have it (or perhaps a subtle nudge by the Queen of Limbo, who really knows?), a gust picks up beneath her wings and lifts her up at an angle for a short time, drawing out the slow and lazy straight-line glide. There's a falter, when the brunette begins to actively consider just how her wings are accomplishing this moment, but they steady once more as she focuses instead on not fighting this weird, innate sense of how to align her body to allow for smoother travel. Spine straight, toes pointed, arms tucked to her sides - like one might travel beneath the surface of the water after a precision dive.

"This is…wha-hah-hah-wow!" Her words feel ripped from her mouth even as she says them. "It's so easy!"


"Should flap wings a little," Illyana suggests, an expression of delight on her face as Rosemarie gets the hang of gliding. "I see birds do all the time. Cannot always start on high ground, but if can, should make flying easier, I think?" she ventures. Clearly, the skinny Queen of Limbo is a bit weak on how the physics of flying actually work.

She watches how Rosemarie's body grows long and streamlined, naturally aligning itself into the framework needed to sustain actual flight, the wind tugging laboriously at her torn sweater-dress as she gains more speed. "There, is much better— you look more like fish swimming than rock falling," she says, liltingly.


"Hah-hah, thanks." Meant to be said dryly, but the adrenaline takes away all of the insouciance. Rosemarie blinks a few times and then frowns in concentration. The wings break from their near-rigid angle, perfectly and naturally allowing the wind to continue lifting her.


With another choked cry, the brunette drops way too fast. Clearly, the width of her wings are not enough to sustain flight - or perhaps they aren't strong enough. Regardless — ABORT, ABORT!


Her abrupt drop checks into Illyana, but the lean Russian catches Rosemarie in her strong arms and holds her tight, one leg curling around Rosemarie's knee to keep her from sprawling out entirely. "I have you!" she urges Rosemarie, trying to calm her from the instinctive panic of the heavy flapping. "Relax— relax, will not let you fall." She turns them both aroudn, taking them towards the battlements and holding Rosemarie close until there's terra firma available to the winged woman again to take her ease on.

"Was much better," Illyana congratulates Rosemarie, stroking her brow reassuringly as she keeps one arm around her waist. "You made it very far! Perhaps gliding is enough for today, da?"


Teeth chatter audibly for a moment until it clicks that there is indeed firm ground beneath her feet once more. Only the leanly-strong arm around her waist keeps Rosemarie from collapsing to her knees in relief.

Still, she leans into (and onto, since she is the taller of the two) Illyana's shoulder and sighs shakily. Her wings, tired, droop to brush against the rugged parapet's surface.

"That's enough, yep," she whispers as she closes her eyes, absorbing the warmth of the Russian's skin and her sheer presence. Enough weirdness for today.


Illyana pets Rosemarie's hair. It's a fitful, uncertain gesture, but the intent is clear — reassurance and security. She hugs Rosemarie close, petting her and making soft, instinctually reassuring noises for the avian woman.

Abruptly, the tension of the embrace shifts a little to something more intimate than casual reassurance. Illyana shifts and tentatively releases Rosemarie, moving to rest her hands on her thighs where she kneels next to the winged woman, brushing a few mussy yellow tangles back from her brow. "I think maybe too much?" she says, venturing a little smile. "But… you tried and did very well," she says, encouragingly, clearly unsure if she should sit closer or further apart, and dithering on the edge of indecision. "Perhaps, just need more practice, da? Would not know how to run if never tried walking," she reasons out. "So perhaps glide first, then flying will follow?"


It's a blessing to be on her knees. It keeps her from wobbling too hard in place, along with the comforting touch of Illyana's shoulder against hers. Rosemarie lifts her head up, blinking woozily, and gives the Russian a lop-sided smile.

"Thanks. I think…gliding first, yes. Flying is…too hard for right now," and she sighs heavily as she tucks her chin to her chest. "I don't know where to practice gliding though, back…on Earth."

Boy, was that a weird sentence to say aloud. It shows in the brief frown that appears and smooths away just as quickly.

"Now that I'm not…falling and stuff, that was…kind of fun." It sucks to admit it, but it's true. A blush touches her cheeks beneath her freckles even as she bravely meets Illyana's eyes again. Her own, still firmly peach-hued, close off slightly as she adds, "That was mean though, pulling me over the edge."

Still, the brunette can't help the tiniest curve of her lips. Cheeky friend.


"I… am sorry," Illyana says, ducking her head away from Rosemarie's chiding smile. "Thought you needed a push," she explains. "Otherwise, would spend all day sitting there thinking about all ways it could go wrong." Something occurs to her and she bites her inner cheek, looking at Rosemarie with fitful uncertainty, but seems unable to quite muster the courage to speak her mind.

"I am glad it was fun," Illyana says, tugging at her wrinkled, messy skirt, smoothing it over her folded thighs. "And hope you are not mad at me for pushing. Er, pulling," she amends.


"No…I can't be mad at you, not for that," Rosemarie murmurs, reaching out and patting Illyana's thigh. She helps to settle a section of wrinkled skirt before snorting quietly. "Annoyed, yes. Mad, no."

She looks away, out at the distant blue mountains that rise up impossibly large, and unconsciously wrinkles the clothing beneath her palm in a moment of pure human uncertainty in the face of something she doesn't truly understand. "Oh! Sorry, Illy," she says as she realizes her error and quickly fixes the skirt once more. "I was thinking too hard, I guess, heh. This place is…so different."

She might have used another word to describe Limbo, but she remembers that this is Illyana's place. It would be rude.

She scratches at the arcing feathers behind her ear before glancing over at her friend. "But it's nice, in a way. The gravity is different. Could…would you mind if I practiced here? Practiced flying, I mean? I mean, I wouldn't do it without you because then I would fall and possibly get hurt and that would be bad and…yes." Her blush deepens.


"Of course," Illyana assures Rosemarie. "Anytime you wish to come here. I — " She checks herself. "Ugh. Was going to say, should not come here alone, but not sure you can come here without me," she says, shaking her head at herself.

"Umm… Rosemarie," Illyana says, very cautiously. "I.. talked to friends. And … trying to be honest, but I am not sure if honest is wise here," she says, flickering her eyes to Rosemarie with fitful uncertainty — something quite unlike her. "I am finding your company very… pleasant. Enjoy spending time with you, da? But I wonder if — if you feel same way, about me," she says, pursing her lips. "If you like, ah… spending time with me."


"I don't think I could come here by myself, no," Rosemarie murmurs, mostly to herself. Then, she listens more attentively to the question asked to her. The body language of Illyana, so starkly uncomfortable, is cause for enough concern to draw a frown once more to her face.

The expression is tempered by a smile of sorts when she realizes that it's her friend breaching a new comfort level with them.

"Of course I enjoy spending time with you, Illy! You're always fun, plus, this magic business. It's…new and exciting." The adrenaline has nearly worn off, nearly burnt out in her blood, but there's just enough remaining to grant her a twinkle to her eyes. Her wings flutter a bit in an echo of the true delight in her tone. "I love your illusions, especially. It's like…being in a movie or something, but you're actually there, even if you're not there, you know?" The brunette laughs and shrugs, unable to be certain if she's making sense again.


Illyana smiles at Rosemarie with real delight at the woman's praise, pinking high on her cheekbones. "I… thank you, Rosemarie," Illyana says, shaking her head. "Magic in limbo, easy for me. Illusions on Earth, no substance. Not real. Here, in Limbo, can make real whatever I wish. Is very easy," she tells Rosemarie. "Limbo is my home, and I just need to 'think' about how I want my home to be, and — is. Can make myself… strong, or short, or fast."

She makes a gesture and a pair of wings identical to Rose's appear from Illyana'a shoulderblades. She flaps them once, just to show they're real, and then dismisses them with another small motion. "If you want to return here, anytime, you're welcome," Illyana says, earnestly. She reaches out and squeezes Rose's fingers, slowly curling her hand around them. "Would love to have you here."


Cue the open-mouth of awe. Rosemarie blinks a few time, having to pull herself from sheer surprise once more as she feels Illyana's delicate touch about her hand.

"Oh gosh, really, Illy? That would be…" She doesn't say it, probably a bad idea to make puns in this context, but…magical. She returns the grip with a small smile and subtle forward tilt of her head. Her gaze shifs out to the far badlands once more. "It'd be wonderful to practice here. With you. Especially because you can have wings as well! Can you do it again? Please?"

Illyana is given a pleading look along with the inwards roll of her lips in uncertainty. Maybe it's a bit much to be asking her friend to do magic all of the time. Is it tiring? She can't tell. The blonde Russian is always so frenetic with life.


"Er… da," Illyana says, surprised by the request. The wings manifest again — but they're not like Rosemarie's. They're beautiful, yes, but where Rose's began as something functional evolutionarily, Illyana's look more decorative than anything else. The pinions are long and flowing instead of stiff and ordered. The wings have too much arch, and Rose's instincts would peg to them quickly not being really aerodynamic. The look almost like an artistic rendering of wings, suggestive of intent and design but lacking a properly engineered intention behind the aesthetics. She floats into the air once more, but again, her wings don't do the work — Illyana merely levitates, defying gravity with her 'wings' spread wide like a feathery halo.


"Ohhhhhhhh!" The sighed word is nearly reverent. Rosemarie brings her hands up to her mouth and then folds them against her collarbone. She bites at the little scar at her lip before averting her gaze and turning noticeably red once more.

"You - you look like an avenging angel, Illy," the brunette says up to her. "Beautiful. Terrifying too, but…in a good way," she adds in a loose sense of logic. Rising to her feet suddenly, she has to take one step to gain her balance and then she frowns.

Flapflapflapflap =- there's a little bit of space between the ground and her heels, she's rising up onto her toes! FLAPFLAPFLAP!!! And then the wings give out once more, unable to carry her weight up beyond the tips of her ankle-high boots. With a huff of quiet despair, Rosemarie slaps her hands against the outside of her thighs. Looking up at Illyana, hovering there so benevolently, the brunette shrugs sadly.

"I tried."


"Da. Angels are agents of order and vengeance," Illyana explains, making a face. "I don't like them in Limbo. But they are pretty," she concedes, looking at her vaguely waving wings that are holding her aloft with no real regard for how wings really work.

She moves to hover in front of Rosemarie, alighting on her toes, and then steps forward to give Rosemarie's arm a comforting squeeze. "Do not despair," she tells Rosemarie, comfortingly as she's able. "Maybe might be, not strong enough? Need more muscles," she offers. She flexes her slender, wiry arms, which have a chiseled diameter despite their lankiness. "We can practice more, another time — as much time as you need to help build your wings up," she offers.


"Oh." Perhaps Illyana misses the moderately-intense crestfallen turn to Rosemarie's expression when the blonde observes the angelic wings spread out behind her. Not really a compliment then, comparing her friend to the joy-bringers and miracle-workers of religion. Whoops. Maybe…maybe she'll try for a bird instead next time. Like a swan.

"More practice would be good, yes, I think…but another time, yes," and the brunette offers a tired laugh by way of apology. She is…tired. Not quite bone-weary, but nearly numbed with the after-effects of retreating adrenaline and the physical efforts of newly-used muscles in her shoulders that don't exist when she's plainly human. "Maybe we can go home now?"

Not asked quite plaintively, but there's a hopeful upwards lilt to the question.


"Da. Is easy enough." Illyana's eyes twinkle and she moves to grip Rosemarie's arm. "Won't even blackmail you this time," she adds, giggling a bit uncharacteristically. "Maybe next time." She tosses her hair, chin up, and stamps her foot. That yellow circle of light abruptly appears on the floor, and the two of them take two steps into reality melting away as physics— and Rosemarie's apartment— return to embrace the two women.

"Is just that easy," she tells Rosemarie, not quite releasing her grip on the woman's arm. "And can return, anytime you like."


Rosemarie mirrors the hold on her wrist on the delicately-muscled portion of Illyana's arm and follows with no hesitation after her lead. Step-step — and indeed, they're once more standing in her apartment's living room. With her free hand, the brunette rubs at her arm (the melting sensation of the magic leaves a light tingling on her skin, like the brush of cobwebs), and glances over at her friend.

"I can return anytime? How though? I don't have magic. You do," she reminds in a teasing manner. Already, the signs of her otherness are retreating in the face of comfortable familiarity. The feathers at her elbows are nearly gone. Her wings fold up tightly upon themselves and shrink back into the torn back of her sweater dress. OH. She'd forgotten entirely that it was torn! Cue the blush, level 11. In the rush of sudden anxiety, the arcing feathers behind her ears don't entirely retreat, but remain still.


Illyana finds herself gawking a bit at Rosemarie when the ragged remains of the dress drape, losing the support of the wingspan behind it. She pinks on her high cheekbones and a few beats too late to be earnestly polite, turns away so Rosemarie has a moment to gather her clothing into order.

"I mean — with me," she tells Rosemarie, trying not to fidget. "If you want, I mean — to return. With me. I'll take you there," she says, clearing her throat repeatedly and stubbornly not looking over her shoulder at Rosemarie's wardrobe malfunction.


It's not a surprise, embarrassingly enough, why she'd be stared at. After all, one shoulder was entirely exposed in the process of Rosemarie trying to pull the overly-loose sleeve back into place. Not a normal happenstance, at least in the company of others.

"That — that would be best, yes, I think, since it's your place and all," she manages to reply even as she pulls up the fabric once more and it does not stay. "I'm sorry, Illy, give me a second."

Retreat, retreat!!! The brunette doesn't quite run into her room, but impression is absolutely hasty retreat. Once inside, she pauses and stands there, hands over her face, and groans softly in despair. The muttering is self-recriminating and then she reminds herself of why she came in. It's rude to hide when your guest still awaits your return in the living room. Quick change then, swish — off goes the destroyed dress, to be tossed due to abuse. On goes another sweater dress, longer than before, but made of much thinner material. The shape of her vest is clearly outlined beneath it.

"Thank you for being patient, Illy. I just…I was getting cold." Even as she says it, she wrings her hands at her waist as she comes to a stop before Illyana in the living room. "Thank you. Again. Even if you did push me off that parapet," she adds with another lilt of sharper teasing.


"Da, of course," Illyana says, having marshaled herself while Rosemarie scampers off. She gives Rosemarie a look that's perfectly composed, almost serene save for the hard planes of her high, Slavic features.

"Er… well. I should be going. Thank you, Rosemarie, for… being my friend," she tells the girl. "I won't keep you up any longer." She dithers for half a moment, halfway between waiting for a polite dismissal in the face of Rosemarie's abrupt retreat, and half hoping for Rosemarie to offer some words of comfort of her own.


The stoic expression on Illyana's face is somewhat daunting, but Rosemarie summons up some bravery and a small smile after it had faltered away momentarily.

"You're welcome, Illyana. You make it a very easy thing to do," she replies quietly, all tucked chin and contained gestures, down to brushing away a loose strand of hair from her face. That headband worked only so well in the face of topsy-turvy unpredictable Limboic gravity.

Looking at the Russian blonde through her lashes, she adds, "You were more like a swan, you know, than an angel. Still graceful, with those white wings. Can you wear them again the next time we practice?"


Illyana pinks again, but nods, and makes a subtle gesture. Wings appear on her shoulders, but they appear more akin to a swan's wingspan than the angelic banners they were — almost similar to Rosemarie's. A glimmer of translucence belies the illusion, but she stretches the wings to the limit of the apartment's confines.

"Only illusion for now," she tells Rosemarie. "More difficult to transform self outside of Limbo— I don't practice it enough," she admits. "But when ready to fly here, I will… try to fly with you. Da?" she offers, tentatively.


"Oh, yes," Rosemarie breathes, nibbling at her lip only briefly. "That's just…amazing, Illy." She reaches out to touch them with one hand and finds that yes, they are only illusion here. Her fingertips pass through them to leave the same staticky residue that evaporates from her skin like dew in the sunshine.

"I want you to fly with me, yes, Illy." Cinnamon-brown eyes meet and hold sapphire-blue, even as her hand retreats back to wring at the thin sweater dress. "You caught me. I trust you."


"I — " Illyana is the first to break the gaze, ducking her eyes down and away, and self-consciously brushing her long, straight blonde hair back behind one ear. "Yes, of course, I will fly with you," she tells Rosemarie. She dares to look back up at the woman, fretting at her inside cheek without realizing it.

It's awkward. It's awkward because despite Illyana's confident bearing, she's visibly at a loss for how to proceed — even how to engage with Rosemarie socially. The wings flicker and curl around her lazily, half unfurled and pinions ruffling in anticipation of a wind those illusory wings will never perceive.


All the cobalt-hued feathers, of otherly origin, must be gone on Rosemarie now for the irises to have returned to cinnamon-brown. The brunette frowns just slightly at the sudden reticence in her friend and wonders, ever-so-briefly, if she said something wrong.

"I'd love that, Illy," she says, hesitantly at first, but then gaining some presence and composure. "It is late though. You can get home alright?" Then, a sudden laugh and she covers her mouth, her cheeks dimpling. "I forgot, I'm sorry, you have the magic. You can get home with the Stepping…spell?" Question for correct terminology, please.


"Yes, I can… get home. Thank you again, Rosemarie, this was… very fun." Illyana looks around her toes, then darts forward and kisses Rosemarie's cheek, quite warmly. She steps back, blushing furiously, but manages to find her backbone and meets Rosemarie's eyes. "I'll see you. Soon," she offers — and before Rosemarie can offer reassurance or protest, she stamps a foot on the ground to summon a circle, takes two steps backwards, and fades out into intangibility before Rosemarie can do more than start to form a polite response.


Only the relative emptiness of her apartment hears the single uttered word becoming quite common in light of the things that Illyana does around her:


She touches at the spot on her cheek, which now zings with frissons of webby static, and stares at the air where Illyana once stood. A little giggle escapes her as she blushes once more, glancing around as if to check if anyone just saw what happened.

Well then. Flying practice will need to be a scheduled event now. Even as she sits down on the couch in the living room, Rosemarie smiles a little foolishly.


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