2301/Kingmaker: What Would You Pay

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Kingmaker: What Would You Pay
Date of Scene: 02 July 2020
Location: Recreation Room
Synopsis: Julian gets an email from his parents and incidentally learns a very unhappy truth.
Cast of Characters: Emma Frost, Julian Keller, Ruth Aldine, Gabby Kinney, Julio Richter, James Proudstar, Rahne Sinclair, Illyana Rasputina

Emma Frost has posed:
Early this morning, a pair of emails arrived without fanfare into Julian Keller's inbox, the first with a return address of William Keller's personal email, the second from Emma Frost's personal email.

    Subject: Your recent injuries
    Miss Frost from the club had recently gotten in touch with your mother to let her know you had been kidnapped by some psychopath and sustained permanent injuries in the process. We are glad to hear you haven't died. I am disappointed in you, however, for allowing yourself into a situation where you got yourself gravely injured. It is apparent your little snit and inistance on attending that school in Westchester has done nothing to teach you how to secure yourself in the real world.
    What's done is done. As you are no longer a student there and have finished your high schooling, much to your mother and my pleasant surprise, your mind should be set on the future. As you are now a cripple, we will need to look to mitigate your current lack and deal with this unfortunate business going forward. I assume, as I have had no indication otherwise, that you are, in your typical way, not remotely thinking about the future and have done nothing towards moving forward on a degree.
    As always, your mother and I will have to bail you out. Again. Attached please find the contact information for Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford. Though the latter isn't an Ivy, I assure you that your mother and I both think you would benefit from being closer to home. In any event, figure out which one you'll be attending come this fall and we'll make sure you are dealt with.
    As for your hands, I am sure we will be able to find someone to make appropriate prosthetic replacements. No expense with be spared. I remind you that you have a role to play in Keller Investments and Holdings; and that despite your childish ways these past few years your mother and I are assured you will come around eventually to your birthright.
    Further, your mother and I wish to see you here, as soon as you can remove yourself from your piteous wallowing and stand on your feet before us. As you are an adult now, we have something of import to discuss with you regarding your value to the family.
    Your father
        William T. Keller

Subject: College Stuff and the new club
    Hey Jules--
    Your dad emailed me and asked me about having my dad write you a recommendation for you for college. Did you have anything specific you wanted him to point out?
    Also, head's up, I called your mom and told her a little bit about what happened. She was your mom. Vapors and all. Sorry if your dad is an ass later, but they needed to know.
    And we'll be opening a new underage club at the Hellfire called Purgatory soon. It'll be a place for the under-21 to hang out. If you have time, hit me up with any thoughts you have on the decor. Going for a low-key almost-hell theme. It's a little cheesy but most themes are.
    Hope you're feeling better! Let me know if you need anything. I'm heading to Alaska for the weekend, but in theory they have cell service in the sticks. I hope so, anyway.

Julian Keller has posed:
The first anyone else hears about any of this, beyond Julian himself, is the shattering sound of his telekinesis splitting the wall to his room, ripping the wallpaper even in the outside hallway and leaving a permanent, warped crease in the hallway that will probably cost several thousand dollars to repair. Julian will be sure to forward the bill to his father.

He's wearing a light Ye branded t-shirt, plain white except for Kanye's logo subprinted in light-sensitive ink on the left breast, along with trackpants and a pair of elite Steph Curry kicks he got himself for his last birthday.

He's just opening the door shortly after the sound of his wall cracking, hoping to get out of there before anybody noticed or bothered with what was going on. He'd probably be in trouble. Big fucking deal. They probably wouldn't let him stay here much longer anyway. Still, he'd rather sleep in the woods here than go back to his parents' house.

Well, maybe not that bad. But close.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
'It's cold out there.' Ruth says. 'You cannot sleep in the woods. Sorry.'

The dust gathers into a faint swirl that disappears as soon as Ruth walks through it. That was her clairvoyance at play, Ruth already making her way down the hallway to convince Julian to not do something stupid, or to perhaps annoy him into doing something stupid, or perhaps to calm him down, or perhaps to rile him up..


As soon as his door opens, Ruth was right there. Standing and 'staring' straight forward.

"It's cold out there." Ruth says. "You cannot sleep in the woods. Sorry."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Given all that has befallen the school and it's inhabitants as of late, noises such as that were bound to draw a crowd if only out of desire to ensure that everyone is safe. Gabby herself is one of those very sorts that bolts up from her seat in the lobby where she was currently pouring through a stack of beauty magazines that one of the older girls had left out to share. Most of it was nonsense but it was an interesting way to kill time when you were interested in fashion in any sense.

Boys dorms or not it doesn't stop her from racing down the hall toward the source of the noise with her proverbial hackles raised prepared to go to battle if necessary. Though thankfully her claws aren't drawn. She was after all one of the more level headed of her family even if she was the youngest.

Seeing Ruth there, and Jules, and the completely ruined wall her pace slows from a run to a slow jog as she looks perplexed. "What happened? Is everything okay?"

Julio Richter has posed:
No such luck -- mere moments after Julian's own door opens, Julio's across the hallway jerks open and the Latino youth appears in it, looking harried. Well, he's moving as though harried -- he was only wearing a pair of Khaki shorts when he heard the crack, and has only gotten his pink tank top on to about armpit level. He jerks his head through, spots Ruth and Gabby, and even more hurriedly shoves the lower hem of his top down to his waist.

"¿Que mierda?" he blurts out, hands coming up wreathed in the shifting green glow that appears whenever he's charged up to do some earth moving. He finds the hallway wall roughly used, and a crowd of girls gathered, to his annoyance. For Julian across the way, he flashes a look of concern, his eyes roaming over to the crack in the wall. He doesn't say anything about it, instead pointedly asking the girls: "Could we move somewhere people will definitely be dressed?"

James Proudstar has posed:
"The hell is going on?" James Proudstar queries as he makes his way to the sound of someone almost blowing out a wall. You know, the kind of thing people with enhanced hearing are likely to respond to quickly. He glances towards the wall, towards the would-be-departing Julian, then back to the wall, a brow quirking. "Something happen, Julian?" Wouldn't likely be the first bit of property damage Julian has done here, but it's one of the more noticeable incidents.

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
     As someone who actually does sleep in the woods more often than not, the phrase being uttered actually catches Rahne's attention. It is faintly heard, but heard nonetheless as Rahne was heading to the dorms. There is a turn and she stands on the threshold...not immediately in the boys' dorms...but close enough to interact.

     "Who's thinkin' of livin' in the woods?" A quick assessment of the situation shows Julian right in the middle, all eyes on him. Rahne's own green eyes flicker to the wall...then back to Julian. There's a soft 'aha' uttered, then a nod of the head. "aye...ye don't wanna do that "

     Not that Julian couldn't handle it....but...it is Julian. Why live in the woods when a hotel is perfectly feasible....and less outdoorsy.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Now and then, even a sorceress needs to sleep. Blame the enormous battle somewhere atop Washington Square Park that spanned planes, but Illyana comes stalking out in Jimmy's wake. Narrowed eyes and her unusually wan countenance might spell certain death for one of her subjects in another plane, knocked stone-cold before it hit the floor, but such withering contempt directed at a wall for offending her royal majesty means it isn't condemned to death for its offense. She slides like a bare-footed ghost into the much taller man's shadow, near to invisible behind him until her voice is raised.

"Someone owes me guacamole for fixing this." Russian sounds even worse when someone rouses the Russian snow leopard from her badly, badly needed rest prematurely. Ironically her English is actually better than usual. Julio receives that first surveyed look, then onto Gabby and Ruth further along. She shouldn't stare, but she is going to, burning eyes disassembling Julian down to the subatomic level.


Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller seems mostly embarassed by all the attention, although he tries to hide it. He's not particularly good at hiding his emotions, though, his striking features flushed, pale skin giving away the ruddy evidence of his shame.

"I had a mild loss of control," he says, "I apologize for bothering everyone, although clearly you were all bored senseless to come running so quickly," he says. He shakes his head and sighs at Gabby's question, "Finally got word from mom and dad. Here, see for yourself," he says, pulling up the e-mail on his phone and passing it to Gabby.

Ruth gets a level gaze, "Thanks for reminding me. Yeah, I can afford a hotel, I guess I...Maybe I don't belong here anymore," he shrugs. "Apparently, I'm supposed to be an Ivy League man. I need to be running around Harvard getting trashed at frat parties and reverently pissing on statues. That's the only way to make my esteemed father proud, if I grow up just the way he did,' he snorts. There's another warble as his telekinetic energies surge in him, this time managing to keep them clamped down.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Everyones emergence has Ruth taking a step back. Not shamed into not saying something, but painfully awkward around so many people gathered.

"Julian wants to live in the woods before he goes home." She tells the gathering crowd, arms in front of herself and clasped, not pleased with herself in the slightest though. "He will suffer poison ivy. And mistakenly eat a mushroom that has a near lethal amounts of psilocibin. Thank you."

Ruth takes a further step back, nearing herself to the crack in the wall to turn and look. Even though Julian speaks partly to her, her hands raise in an 'I don't know' fashion, then drops down to shove into her pockets. "You will kill yourself." Ruth says nonchalantly and matter-of-factly. "Bullet to the brain to ensure success. Sorry."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney glances to Julio only to look back around at the others emerging. Most notably is the fact that Illyana comes out of JAMES room with a little jaw opening gasp. Oh. Oh. Oh she really should not say anything... Thankfully there's the distraction and explanation by Julian himself when he hands the phone over to her.

"We can move elsewhere," she agrees with Julio's assessment even as her eyes roam over the screen clutching the phone with both hands. Her expression starts to change from curious and worried to looking aghast soon enough.

"Not to sound like a valley girl, but duuuude. Your parents are assholes." It's all said before she steps in closer to Julian to give him a one armed hug around the side hoping to offer some sympathy, some support, some distraction...

"I thought you were dating Tabby, Jimmy? I mean, *great* choice Illy I've seen his abs, but yeah."

Looking over to Ruth she offers a stubborn grin. "He's not gonna kill himself with us around to help. Won't let him."

Julio Richter has posed:
Letting loose a muttered rumble of displeasure as well as his gathered seismic energy, Julio vanishes back into his room for a second, then reappears with flip-flops on. One eyebrow rises fractionally at Illyana, appearing as she does from the opposite direction as the rest of the girls, but an equally tiny shrug later, he turns to face the second floor landing and makes a palms-out cowcatcher of a gesture, shepherding the little flock in that direction -- or bulldozing, if necessary, in Ruth's case.

"Okay, ladies. Show's over; back it up. We can discuss this somewhere co-ed," he says. Again, there's a momentary flicker of his attention to Julian's features; Julio's not nearly as worried as he's suggesting about the propriety of the ladies being present, for a number of spoken and unspoken reasons. He /is/, however, very conscious that Julian could use a few seconds to reestablish his composure, and would probably rather everyone stop rubbernecking at the property destruction. Although speaking of rubbernecking, he can't help a glance at the phone screen Gabby is poring over -- not nearly long enough to read anything, but the curiosity is obviously there.

James Proudstar has posed:
"Don't belong here? That's some bullcrap. Nobody leaves this circus unless they really want to." James replies to Julian with the ghost of a smile, "If you're in a bad spot, we've got your back. And we won't make you sleep in the woods."

Jimmy doesn't have much notice of modesty issues at the moment, clad in a loose tank top and a pair of pajama pants.

When Gabby pipes up as to Illyana's point of origin, he gives her a bit of a blank gaze and a slight shrug, "Yeah, we are." Nothing to see here folks! Surely not worthy of gossip or speculation.

Though Illyana's expletive does attract notice, "Huh? It's just a wall, 'Yana, I don't think anybody's gonna get too mad..." Dark eyes narrow at her intensely focused gaze towards Julian, and he gloms on to the idea it's not about the wall. "Uh oh...what's up?"

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
     Fortunately for Rahne, she didn't set into the boys' dorm....exactly. Unfortunately, everyone else did...and Rahne is normally short.

         But Rahne wants to see, damn it. And she can do something about it. Within a second, Rahne shifts to her transitional form, which gains her a couple more feet and a whole slew of heightened senses. And...that lets her see Julio's attempt to clear the area...and Illy's emergence from Jimmy's room. Not...that Rahne seems all that surprised by it, though there might be a fleeting expression of...disappointment, perhaps? Rahne may not necessarily approve, due to it not being proper in her mind, but at least she is not saying anything about it....yet.

     "Julio's right. If ye are gonna talk, ye might wanna do it somewhere other than the hallway."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Add fireworks to the fire, that loose t-shirt paired with her usual shorts -- short, black, also /short/ -- probably gives an impression. Like she raided James' drawer when the midnight oil finally burnt out, no candle but for a ghost of wax. Gabby's reaction takes her a few seconds to process, alabaster countenance completely unchanged but for the mildest lift of her chin. Look -real- hard, there might even be a micrometer lift of the corner of her mouth for a beat, no longer. "Forewarned is forearmed. You will need a hanging anchored ward, Keller." Whatever she sees to earn that damned sibylline prognostication isn't good.

Illyana brushes her overlong bangs from her face, the blunt white-gold fringe threatening to fall right back into place. "Spasiba." Ruth gets the thanks, and if it's meant ironically, evidently that failed to come through in translation or position. "She is right. We need to talk in private about a deal. In detail."

Sometimes she can sound incomprehensible, some days vaguely human. Her morning -- regardless of the hour -- tilts to the latter. Probably not a good idea to try and shoo her; they may be cows, but the flat wrinkle of her nose presages hate-goosey dangers Rahne, at least, might immediately recognize. Judging Jimmy's question and then the wall, she finally comes out from eclipse behind him. Mostly to still fit in arm's reach and make clear the siren song of bed isn't stronger than the siren song of hi-- Julian's issues at hand. Or teenaged drama! "In his shoes, I would have ended the world."

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller frowns, "I'm not sure I particularly care to talk about it, but fine. Why not? Everyone can know my business. I should have it printed as a screed and wear it around my neck on an engraved tablet. "Julian Keller's father is ashamed of him, thinks he's to blame for his own injuries and is humiliated that his son has yet to choose an Ivy league college in which to enroll in order to enter his life of indentured servitude to his father's firm in exchange for whatever luxury goods and narcotics I can procure for the rest of my life with the stock options I receive in order to fill the burning, empty void that should've been filled with, I don't know, parental love and support or at the very least they could die horribly and leave me an orphan so I'm not perpetually reminded that they wish I'd never been born," he rants. His hands occasionally manifest, balls of green flame in the shape of fingers, phantom-like, erupting from the stumps of his arms when he punctuates a particularly strong point.

"And yes, I did think about killing myself, thanks for reminding me, Ruth, except I think it would satisfy that old fuck too much and I'd be just ruining my streak if I made him happy now," he says.

"And yes, they're obviously boning, who cares, we're teenagers for fuck's sake, this place is probably a nightmare under a blacklight. The floors should be sticky for Christ's sake," he says.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Gabby's assurance did make Ruth feel a little bit better, along with the randomized conversation, the surprising growth from Raine, Julio's hearding and everything else. Commotion is good for the soul, for any activity is good activity, gotta keep the elasticity flowing. Illyana's spaciba was met with another quiet 'Thank you', and hanging behind, if they move she'll move.

"I would like to think that people clean up after themselves, sorry." Ruth chimes in. "It hides their shame."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney purses her lips, and then looks to the side with a hard to read expression when Julian's rant turns toward her own curiosity of what had been going on with Illyana and Jimmy. It was her own fault for getting off topic from the more pressing matter at hand. The arm she'd hugged him with slides away only to give a curt nod as things seem to be coming to a boiling point.

"Coffee?" She suggests with a nudge of her chin down the hall as she turns to stalk in the direction of Rahne. Others could follow easily, of course, and likely if the ushering of them out of here was to take place they would. Or maybe not. "I'll even brew it super strong and pour it over icecream like you like, Julian." Hmph. Or at least he had it that way once.

Julio Richter has posed:
Taking a break from playing traffic controller, Julio flicks his chin in an upward nod at Jimmy. "The big guy's right, you know. I'd like to see your dad try to force you to go anywhere you don't want to. I'm not afraid to beat up an old man, even if he is rich."

A grim, sympathetic smirk crosses his features, then he brushes his hair out of his eyes and the expression is gone. "No one here should feel ashamed," he says in a flat response to Ruth. "But that doesn't mean we can't eat our feelings. Let's go downstairs and break into the liquor cabinet or -- yeah, Gabby -- eat some fucking ice cream or something."

Stuffing your face or getting plastered; that's pretty much all he's got to offer where suicide and defense against magical attacks are concerned. Julian wasn't the only one whose upbringing was short on emotional coping mechanisms. Hopefully the blind can lead the blind through this particular midnight of the soul.

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy snaps his head towards Illyana, though there's nothing immediately apparent to most as to why. "Are you s-...yeah, nevermind, dumb question." He glances back to Julian, then to Illyana, then back to Julian, "I uh....guess we should maybe try and do something about that?" That seems more directed to Illyana than anyone else, though the suggestions of raiding the kitchen get a nod, "Yeah, sure...good idea." Because the weighty matters that have been brought to his attention...might be better served on a full stomach? Though he does add the admonishment:

"Breaking into the liquor cabinet here is a no-go. At least for most of us. They'll always catch you." Illy can get away with it, but everyone else generally falls to the gaggle of psionic faculty they have around. To say nothing of those with enhanced senses that can literally sniff you out. All that said, Jimmy can't help but feel Julian might need a drink before all this is said and done.

Rahne Sinclair has posed:
     A glance from the werewolf on the threshold shifts from Julian to Illyana, the expression on that lupine face on Rahne's face perplexed. Rahne's attention bounces back and forth a couple more times, before the forehead furrows. The other thing is that Rahne got really quiet...a sure sign she is thinking. Still, if people head for a more appropriate venue, the large werewolf will graciously step aside...all the while those gears are going.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Crudeness and blunt derision go over Illyana's head like a stone. Advantages to being a Hell Lord, few as they are, include a direct familiarity with the debased nature of lower denizens spewing hateful rhymes and extolling the depravities of man and infernal-kind alike with or without audience. "You are not your parents." Her statement comes a bit flat after a brief aside, sleep still clinging to her in ravaged cobwebs. The lavender bruises under her eyes darken when she tilts her head downward, stifling a jaw-cracking yawn threatening to creep up on her. "Coffee and ice cream? Da, please." Manners will do when she can summon them, though her posture is still cagey and jumpy as a cat's.

Probably the danger of waking her up prematurely. They get the paranoid girl attuned to danger in the shadows, even when there isn't. She's jittery from low sugar, or whatever you feed a demonic sorceress flinging around dimensional spells and portals like confetti sufficiently large enough to stress-crack a space ship. Possibly that. "Da, we have to. Would any of you let me stay in that state?" she answers Jimmy.

A lick of the darker side seeps through iron-girded control, the words harder and flatter than she really means to give: "Move. This is not a talk for hallways, or about your parents. A kitchen at least has a domovoi and knives to keep others out."

Emma Frost has posed:
It is a matter of only a few minutes to herd the younger denizens of Xavier's towards the kitchen. It's like herding cats, but between Jimmy's bulk, Julio's insistence on removing the issue from the middle of the dorms, and the lingering promise of coffee and ice cream, herding happens. There isn't much chatter of substance while coffee is made, and multiple cartons of ice cream retrieved from the massive freezers-- Jimmy could probably handle one just on his own, to be honest. And so, gathered around the kitchen table, ice cream, coffee, and whatever other comfort snacks folks may like...

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller has a coffee, managing with Gabby's help to get the espresso machine working sufficiently. Not at the actual competent level of a proper Italian coffee, but still, it has enough caffeine to bloodshoot some eyeballs.

"It's not really anybody's problem but mine," he says. "I'm going to have to go back and...deal with it. I'll be informed that my financial security depends on it. Dad will make me get prosthetics and they'll have to pass as much for real hands as possible so that no one asks too many questions or get the impression that I'm somehow less of a person. Wouldn't want the stockholders getting uneasy about your freak son. Bad enough I'm a mutant," he mutters, floating the cup to his lips and taking a few sips. "I...appreciate the concern," he says, trying his best to sound sincere and probably failing. He doesn't really, but he knows he should and that sort of counts.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Comforts. Ruth's come in the form of two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a glass of milk, and five chocolate chip cookies (Chips Ahoy). She had her own space at the other end of the table, quietly picking the crust of the bread off in bits and pieces, and eating them there after. No sense in wasting it, it had peanut butter on it!

"Sorry. We involve ourselves because we care. And others because there is nothing else to do. And me because you are a friend and I do not feel like doing math."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney helps with the coffees and the icecreams. She might not know how to cook but she could work machines and after being shown the espresso maker a few times, she had a rudimentary understanding of how it worked. Besides, even if she did something wrong, it's not like scalding her would hurt at all. It's dealt with until everyone has some yummy caffienated beverage, some icecream or whatever, and then she stops and pauses listening to Julian.

Again she frowns, only to lean down and kiss the top of his head. "Stop that. You're our friend, and more, and we've survived worse than your parents haven't we?" With a firm nod she turns away to go back to one of the cupboards.

It's a bit of a hop and jump to reach what she was going for but she gets there. Then with arms loaded with two containers of salt she starts to go around the room pouring it on the floor to block the doorways as she creates a circle.

Someone got her hooked on Supernatural, okay?

"Illyana you said he'd need a ward of some kind? Do you need blood for it, because I've got a lot and it's not like it'd hurt me," she offers as she goes about her perhaps unnecessary and likely not at all workable task here that would require a lot of sweeping up later. "And why does he need it? I mean is his dad like going to come after him some other way than just sending nasty emails?

Julio Richter has posed:
Whether he was just talking big, making a show of nihilistic solidarity with Julian, or sincerely didn't care, Julio was fully prepared to make a booze run and suffer whatever punishment the faculty would mete out. Still, coffee and ice cream were on the list of options, and will certainly suffice in a pinch. He has a generous helping of both, and fidgets with his mug as he answers Julian.

"Ruth is making more sense than usual. I think being friends means we make it our problem," he says. Truth be told, he's sort of improvising there -- trying to be the helping hand he might have wished for himself. "I don't like you having to do any of that stuff. It's your life, not his."

Gabby's odd behavior with the salt and question about blood then draw his attention, and after glancing around for some explanation, his gaze settles on Illyana, as the present expert on this kind of thing. "What is she doing?" he asks the Russian directly.

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy puts together a pair of sandwiches that Dagwood would be proud to have his name attached to...piles of deli meat cold-cuts and cheese between slices of pumpernickel bread. Hey, at least he didn't bogart an entire carton of ice cream.

Julio's got a point. You're nineteen now. It's not like he can force you to do anything you really don't want to, but yeah...he can apply pressure. You've just gotta figure out how much you're willing to give up to be your own man." Jimmy's trying not to delve too deep into the metaphysics of the as-yet unvoiced problem. Though he does spare a glance to Gabby, looking mildly perplexed until she speaks, and then shaking his head, a wry expression touching his face as he notes:

"Maybe uh...leave that to the expert?"

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Comforts are in the largest black coffee one can find, ice cream optional. Given the choice, Illyana might simply take the pot and hug it to herself in a corner, threatening to cut anyone coming close. She has the mindfulness to brew up a batch after draining the machine alongside Gabby. One mug will be downed before she even bothers speaking again. Refilled, a big spoon of ice cream dumped in, and the mug goes to her lips with a mechanical purpose. Try being lost in a desert or a tundra wasteland, the one thing more precious than life comes from crushed, boiled beans burnt within an inch of their life and blissfully carrying her off to a peaceful corner where she can lean against Jimmy. As that cat is out of the bag, one less thing to worry about.

"Mostly right, Ruth, but not completely. Too much to do, and this takes precedence." Her voice is a little warmer after a Russian imperial cup and a half of coffee. Julio gets a flat smirk for his troubles, but he's cool. "I prefer powdered silver. Salt hedges malign influences, so a circle keeps out unwanted entities." A spark of her energy drops into a spell, reinforced by a pull on the nearest ley line paralleling the Hudson River. No sound marks what she actually does, only the casual turn of her wrist that brings a barely visible, blue-smudged dome over the room. Held long enough to visually register, it turns invisible a moment later.

It isn't necessary to delay much longer than that. "Was it you or someone else who bargained away your soul, Julian Keller?"

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller frowns, "I don't think being my own man has anything to do with where my money comes from. I've had plenty of communists online assure me that personal value isn't tied to labor. I happen to agree and I'd really rather not get a job. Not a normal job, anyway," he says.

All of this is going well, with him smiling at Gabby with a sort of haunted look of a boy who knows the girl is too good for him, and the fascinated attention Ruth draws from him with her inherent weirdness. "I don't like doing math either," he's saying when Illyana's question comes to him and he just stares for a long moment.


Emma Frost has posed:
There is a chorus of confused questions from everyone in the room. Save Jimmy, who shrugs like he already knew.

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Yeaaaah buddy! Ruth was right! If she had a twitter she'd tweet it, because two people said she was right! And that was rare. Half or no halves. Though, soul bargaining is really not her bag, you know what is? That sandwich.

The chorus of 'huh?1' from everyone is met with.. "This sandwich is great. Thank you."

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney pauses at Julio's question, and at Jimmy's remark of leaving it to the professionals to stare at the container of Morton salt in her hand. "Well I saw it on this TV show and I thought maybe--" When Illyana chimes in she grins broadly and fist pumps her arm into the air spilling more salt behind her in the process. "Yes! Salt for the win!" Just as she starts her little victory shimmy-dance the real bomb is dropped.

"Wait what? Julian!?"

Green eyes seek out his as her eyebrows furrow together with mouth slightly agape looking at him intently. Even the poor salt is clutched to her chest at this news. The expression of shock only lasts a moment before anger floods her face causing her lips to twist as she blurts out, "No, he wouldn't!" with absolute belief in him. He'd done a lot of things in his life, but that wasn't him. No. It couldn't be.

Julio Richter has posed:
Shrugging and sweeping an apologetic look from Illyana to Gabby -- the magic stuff is way outside his expertise -- Julio watches the wards go up without fully understanding what he's seeing. He actually WAS doing math homework when Julian split the wall, trying to stay abreast of his summer classes, so he's blissfully on board that particular conversational train when it abruptly jumps the tracks. He, too, turns to Illyana, blurting out: "¿Qué?"

James Proudstar has posed:
"Gabby's probably got a point. I can't really imagine Julian giving up anything of real value that belongs to him." Jimmy notes, all the while marveling the degree of cognitive dissonance that Julian seems to be portraying in regards to how he might manage to maintain the lifestyle to which he is accustomed if Mommy and Daddy cut him off for going against the grain. He's nonplussed by the ward, growing far more accustomed to such things by the day. "So we've got something missing and we probably want to get it back. If Julian didn't sell off his soul, who could've done it? Seems to me it's not the kind of thing just anybody can do."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
What indeed. More coffee and not enough ice cream in all the house for this, no matter how big those industrial freezers are. Could hide a cow or half a T.rex in there. Illyana curls her fingers around the circumference of the mug, the tips of her manicured nails almost meeting. Making a noncommittal sound at the back of her throat almost commensurate with a growl, the sorceress takes another sip. Blessed black wickedness incites a riot against a languishing call to just go back to bed and pretend none of this ever happened. "Your soul is gone. It still exists, for now, but you lost its possession after the pool party and our meeting on the sixth to now. Finding it won't be so much the problem as knowing the terms to get it back."

A likely not-comforting statement, proving lawyers and accountants belong to the legions of Hell. "You lack the damage for a forcible excision, which leaves a pre-existing claim the most likely cause for its loss. Most beings cannot remove it without you agreeing, twisting the truth however they will to it. You are sure you did not make one, even as a joke? Coercion and seduction count. The next most-likely option is your parents." It's a harsh reality delivered about as gently as she can, being the one person in the room who surely understands this best and worst than most. "Cultists, for example, will often bargain their children -- especially firstborn -- for wealth, success, death of their enemies, and so on. Mine was broken and extracted. Yours was ripped out by the roots, which means we can find it, reclaim it, and restore it before it's shredded and the damage all but irreparable, with a limited amount of time and a high to extreme risk. It's too valuable for someone to just incinerate."

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller is still just staring. What can really be expected other than that. There's a moment when his power glows in his eyes again and he presses his forehead down against the table, holding it in with all his strength. He's already had an embarassing outburst of TK today, he doesn't need another, especially since this one feels way worse and a lot more destructive. He breathes deeply, calming himself as best he can. He really wishes he had a joint or a Xanax or...

He slowly looks up, "I don't know. What the fuck. You're talking about. So whatever is going on, it's not...me. I didn't do anything. I don't even know if I believe in souls. And yeah, I now, magic or whatever, but I'm...a skeptic," he mutters. "I definitely don't sell my soul to the devil, even as a funny joke."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
Ruth stops eating. In fact, the plate was soon pushed forward as well as the glass of milk that she only sipped once. This was a bit serious. Despite her mind skipping ahead a few clicks in the moment, she tries to shut it all down to focus in the -right- now. And while Ruth didn't read the email, she kind of had an inkling that the parents did it. The way he thought of them made her believe it was possible.

Gabby Kinney has posed:

The can is tiked down on the table in front of Julian by Gabby. It's still ice cold, the condensation of the room not even yet coating its sides. She'd moved quick seeing the reactions and listening to grab it from the hiding place that Logan had shown her, and made her promise never to use without him present. This was a special case though. He'd understand.

It's here she pauses looking with consternation between Julian, Illyana, Ruth, Julio and Jimmy. A deep breath is taken, held, and let out in a quiet rush of: "The email did say your parents had to tell you something important."

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio's frozen stare at Illyana is, at first, only interrupted by a few intermittent blinks. Then, finally, he lifts one finger and says, "Illyana. Do you remember the first question I asked you, the first time we met?" He shifts his head exactly eleven degrees to the left, then reminds her: "'Are you Catholic.' Because of all the hell talk. And you said nyet."

He shifts back in his seat, looking uncomfortable, and draws circles in the air with that forefinger. "This is starting to sound really Catholic again." He looks over at Julian, seeming to draw some strength from the fact that his dorm neighbor is equally adrift in all the talk of souls and devilish bargains. Then Gabby's timely gesture with the beer brings a smirk back to his face, and once again he learns forward, lifting his spoon and gesturing with it at Illyana. "If you promise this isn't a Catholic thing, tell me what I can do to help, and I will."

James Proudstar has posed:
Jimmy nods in-between sandwiches, "Sounds like a talk with the parents does need to be had, either way. Best case scenario you find out they aren't complete monsters. Worst case...pretty much every negative thought you've ever thought about them gets validated big-time." He rubs at his chin, frowning a bit, "Or did I get those two mixed up as to which is best and which is worst?" He shrugs, "Either way, like I said. We've got your back. Sometimes whether you like it or not."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"Grigori Rasputin was a shaman-priest flouting the Orthodox Church, my parents Communist without the luxury of religion, and I matured in a Hell Realm," replies the blonde to Julio, making a very clear line to where it stands. "Nyet." There are scars here, many of them, on display. Points for not screaming and running, but she's unmoving next to Jimmy. If he is a pillar to the earth, she borrows that strength in her roundabout way by leaning on him.

"Demons have stolen them from drunk, drugged or lust-riddled humans for aeons, regrettably. I am causing you pain, Keller, and I am sorry for that. Whole truths serve you better rather than dishonest, selective statements of fact that censor the gravity of what we face." Wearing an expression of stoic certainty, eyelids low and mouth neutral, Illyana doesn't act her apparent or actual age. She has a different relationship with space and time, bending both in a way through that imperturbable relationship to another underworld. None of these statements shake her, taken as everyday facts of living.

The mug is all but empty. Refilling it means returning to a counter, abandoning the others after delivering bad news. It can wait, as she works over the facts with workaday familiarity. "You have a soul, all of you. His was pulled out whole like a diamond bracelet or a crown, and carried away." Shaking her hair from her eyes, she looks up over Julian's head. "I can be reasonably certain your soul is still intact, though it rarely stays that way for long. It may be broken down in slivers or chunks to dispense later. The sooner we recover it from Limbo, the better. No, I had nothing to do with this, and yes, you can get it back by shaking the pillars of the dimension from top to bottom. Someone owes /me/."

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller is still mostly staring at Illyana. Part of him thinks it must be some sort of sick joke. Illyana was, as she said, kind of a demon witch in her own right, after all. Hell, Julian himself liked messing with people from time to time, just to watch them freak out.

Only this time he was the one freaking out. And he was pretty sure she wasn't joking.

"I don't even. What do that mean? Not having a soul? I don't feel...I feel like myself. None of this makes any sense. Even if my parents did it - which, believe me, I do not put past them, other than the idea of them worshipping anyone other than themselves - I don't get what...what happens to me? Is there some other me somewhere getting tortured or folded away in a drawer or something? If I don't have a soul, what the fuck am I?"

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney crosses her arms over her chest while standing just to the side and behind the seated Julian as if she were some sort of over protective height challenged bodyguard. Her eyes dart around the table wanting to ask questions and wanting to speak up about the random thoughts and possibilities that flit through her mind. In spite of her often random, hyperactive nature though, she was trained. And this was serious. Someone she cared about was apparently in danger.

"I don't claim to understand it... I mean, honestly if I thought about it I'd wonder if I'd have a soul since I'm a clone, but that's not the point anyway. I trust Illyana. She's never lied to me. So even if it's something I don't understand, that's okay. What do we need to do, Illyana?"

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio takes in Illyana's description of her religious heritage with an attentive, sober expression. There's the slightest quirk of his eyebrows as he answers, "Ah. That's all right, then." He lifts his mug of coffee in a mock toast to her and continues, "My papá was Catholic and I'm pretty sure I'm gay. So."

Later, he'll wish he could say say he didn't look around to make sure no one freaked out at the admission. It'd be a lie.

His gaze settles on Gabby and he nods his agreement with her statement. "I don't understand it either," he tells Julian, "but I know what you are. You're our friend, and someone took something from you, and it sounds important. Let's go to hell and kick the devil's ass and get it back."

James Proudstar has posed:
"We've got somebody here that can make that statement very literal, Julio." Jimmy notes at Julio's concluding statement. As for any previous declarations, there was a flicker of surprise that mostly fades back to seriousness at the matter at hand. "But maybe we need more information first, and it sounds like we're not gonna get it here."

He shrugs at Julian's existential crisis in the making, "Far as I can tell you're the same guy you've been since you got here, and it sounds like if we move fast enough we can keep it that way."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Answers come how they will. Illyana addresses them all one by one. "It is bad. The soul is not a religious proposition, it is real." Her gaze shifts from Julian to Julio for a moment, though honestly, a certain Catholic werewolf can express this in superior terms to whatever she might offer. "Losing your soul is a kind of death in the long run. You remain yourself but owned by another, and what they do with it is based on how much they have and their own knowledge. Someone like me, or an elder demon can do a great deal. Possession of it offers power over you, for example. Your soul isn't destroyed, but it's a bartering chip like your father's stock portfolio." She breaks away from the table long enough to get more of the coffee, foregoing anything else, and thrusting a cup at her will get a refill.

Julio and Gabby, next, earn that pale-frosted look. "You are fine however you are. You both have souls. Whatever took Julian's is going to deeply regret a bad decision. Heel to his or her throat sounds nice, but we need to consider the indirect methods. The being is powerful, to stand apart from my control." A beat. "For now. But we lack a name or identity yet. We might have to set up a deal pretending to be a buyer, but that's in the medium term. Knowing who took it in the first place? Your parents might know. Or you go fact-finding in Limbo."

Ruth Aldine has posed:
The best thing Ruth could do at this moment, was silently offer her help. It wasn't like she had any other friends, and those in this room were a loose calling in that. "Sorry. I'll go." She says, rising from her seat. "Go with everyone. I mean, sorry. Where ever I'm needed." Clarification was met, which allows her to keep moving. Stepping aside from her chair, gathering her plate and practically full cup of milk, waste yes, want not. All poured down the drain and thrown into the garbage in that order.

"Thank you. I must sleep now. Bye!" She stands still, waves, then heads towards the door and out, careful not to break the salt seal in case more soul snatchers were about.

There goes another person who didn't get the whole magic thing.

Gabby Kinney has posed:
Gabby Kinney glances at the still very troubled Julian who was clearly in shock at the news. So she steps behind him completely to wrap her arms around his shoulders and rest her chin gently atop his head in a comfy hug. "Whatever it takes. We're not letting you guys do this alone. I'm up for going to get info from his folks but that might tip off whoever it is, too, so... Maybe some reconn first."

Julio Richter has posed:
Illyana's comment about his own soul takes Julio aback for a second, his eyebrows popping upward and his lips parting. It's weird that he cares, given his own rather dubious reaction to the whole topic of souls, but her reassurance that he has one seems to hit him pretty deep.

Still, when she turns to the next steps in their strategy, he quickly refocuses, sitting forward with a crease in his brow. "I've been a mess every time I've gone to Limbo, but I'll do what I can," he says, leaning on his elbows. Then, with more confidence and a sideways smile at Julian, he adds, "Leaning on your parents, though? That I can help with."

James Proudstar has posed:
"Already said my part. You decide you want or need my help you've got it. For whatever." Jimmy finishes polishing off his second sandwich and tucks the plate into one of the dishwashers, "And if that's the case, then just let me know. Otherwise...I'm goin' back to bed." He adds with a half-smile.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
He just had to mention the pillows. "Yes," Illyana agrees with affirmative force that probably says way too much, and not nearly enough. "Let's do that." Because coffee can only hold certain demon queens awake for so long, and it's not nearly sufficient to put off the inevitable crash that calls for curling up and pretending the world doesn't exist.

It's hard not to yawn so instead, she just slides herself under Jimmy's arm, draping it over her shoulder. "O ye of little faith. You act like I cannot turn you into a twentieth-level druid with a wave of my hand," she adds to Julio. Pale of gaze, those eyes search empty space, inwardly raking over an assembled population with far too much consideration. "Sleep on it. The next steps will be critical."

Julian Keller has posed:
Julian Keller nods softly, 'Yeah. The next steps," he says, mostly to himself. He still isn't even sure how to begin processing everything he just learned. He'd been feeling a bit empty inside but, well, he just got kidnapped, tortured and had his hands chopped off, then watch the same happen to Gabby and then...

Yeah, he had reason to feel bad. So he never questioned any of it. Why should he? Julian wasn't prone to bouts of introspection to begin with. But maybe that was part of it, too.

His head was swimming, though, "I'll...I'll talk to you tomorrow. Yeah. I...I have to go now," he says.