423/Glitter and Gold

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Glitter and Gold
Date of Scene: 10 March 2020
Location: Downtown Manhattan
Synopsis: Scavenger hunts begin! Clue 1: Pushkin.
Cast of Characters: Illyana Rasputina, Douglas Ramsey

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
<<McNally Jackson. 30 minutes.>>

The text dances across the ether to strike Doug's phone from a number that has far, far too many digits to be a natural phone number. Though it is, thankfully. The place in question is a Lower Manhattan standby, a bookstore not quite on par with the Strand in fame or antiquity, but close. It boasts an extensive foreign section and more than the maps its name would suggest. For one, it's got a killer sci-fi and fantasy section, a towering selection of gaming books, and possibly more nooks and crannies to curl up with a nice novel than someone can shake a stick at. Plus, it doesn't smell like moldering paper. Great big windows facing the street lend a particularly bright aspect to the place too, which is probably why on the third floor facade facing outward, Illyana Rasputin sits impatiently on a settee. It's not a comfy, deep seat like the others. On the other hand, cuppa joe around here? Priceless. A pot? Bit much, but doable. She has a rather nice stoneware cup she swills the coffee from, basking in the low winter sun pouring through. It's possible she just woke up.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"...Huh?" Doug says, before he squints at his phone, and drops his face into the pillow. "Mphhr hfff if ffiit-"

"8:45 AM." says the chipper speaker on the nightstand, causing Doug to push himself up and mumble "...I'm not mad, I'm merely grouchy." He affirms this to himself, before he vaults into the shower very quickly, checks his stubble in the mirror (manageable) and combs his hair.

15 minutes later, he's out and about with a cup of coffee, dressed for the waning chill.

With three minutes to go, he breezes through the door.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
8.45. Brutal morning, of course, but maybe the hour is off. Illyana leans back against her seat and waits, the patience of the demon queen not an eternal thing but surprisingly deep. She has coffee, thus her willingness to dwell there is extended thus. Her half-closed eyes mark the movements of the sun. Tucking her hair behind her ears, she breathes in that heavenly scent. Superb, even as she watches someone familiar breeze by the sidewalk. The golden head visible among the shelves produces a strange hint of synergy.

Then, slowly, her back straightens a little. She tucks her feet underneath her, watching Doug.

Lips quirk. Crushed into a circle, a moue. She chews a little, contending with matters. Arctic eyes brighten, though. That's so damn telling.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
The door jingles and Doug steps inside, before he looks around. He has a little bit of scruff, meaning he didn't have time to shave, which he normally does religiously -- he's vain, see. In a lot of little ways.

He orders an espresso, and then downs the little cup all in one shot, before he walks over and drops into a seat, looking into Illyana's eyes. Then... he sticks his tongue out. Mlem.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Third floor window seats offer a productive space to wake up, meeting the sun as it breaks over the Manhattan skyline, staccato skyscrapers dropping to the rarer four or five storey building perched on the narrow sidewalks. It's a rare opportunity to enjoy the morning for free with no additional expense atop the cuppa, which she has already provided to some degree. Golden light strikes arctic pale hair, turning the near platinum shade to a false tawny aureate finish, aspecting shadows a little darker. "Stick that out and I will find a use for it," she says dryly. It might be her way of saying hello in absence of a hello.

Her fingers nudge a small paper bag stuffed with buttercream and charcoal tissue paper that sparkles just a little. "One," she says. It in fact has a tag with a '1' on it, tied by a black curling ribbon. Her coffee cup rises to her lips, since figuring out where to begin from there is a tad uncertain, on uneven footing. She has only guesswork.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug looks down and then back up, before he says, "I've barely even had my coffee yet," He says, "And I was up late last night." He leans down and picks up the bag, before he says, "A gift, huh?" He casually turns it over in his hands, before he reaches down to unlace the ribbon with a single pull. "And in the old colors too."

He perks an eyebrow, as he opens it.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"So was I. Had help picking out the right things," Illyana admits with a roll of her shoulder, watching Doug closely through the obscuring screen of golden lashes. The cup of coffee hovers just off her lips, shielding what little expression might show through. "Everything all right? Not any problems were there?"

The paper parts to reveal a pretty simple rectangle. The kind of object that's a box, and when opened up, it contains the lavishly hand-drawn maps and details for the latest multiplayer version of Elder Type Scroll Thing RPG. Since the codes are easily obtainaable online, that's more a piece of art, cracked open to expose parchment paper leaves with a variety of unreal fantasy and real, deviously complex languages... all waiting to be deciphered. Which, of course, is probably not terribly hard, even if they aren't instantaneously simple to /most/ people. "I thought you might like to play together, when we have time. The rest, you have clues for."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Well sure." Doug says, "I mean. It's a nice way to kill a little downtime. We've ACTUALLY fought trolls before, I'll give you, but it's nice to only pretend fight trolls that don't actually want to kill and eat us." He turns the puzzles over in his hand, scanning them, thoughtfully. "Clues? So it's a scavenger hunt?"

He rests his chin in his hand, reading thoughtfully. "But I didn't give you anything."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
The blonde sorceress smirks. "Trying to be normal. Doing normal things for a date. Rather than facing trolls or dark elves at the end of black rainbows." Those are a thing, too, which Illyana accepts as she leans forward and drops the emptied cup of coffee on the table beside them. It might end up refilled by standing order. Doug earns that cool, measured look through her bangs again, and she holds carefully still as she is ever cautious. Efficiency in physical motion is her watchword, after all.

"You asked me on a date." Point one, on her fingers. "You braved that awful rehearsal." Tick two. "We had a good time hanging out. Nothing to repay."

Then sliding away, her gaze seeks the street, safer where she can focus on the anonymous figures wandering by about their day. Familiar with this whole itchy, unfamiliar human thing. Human psychology is hard for the demon queen, surely. Surely not. "Clues, scavenger hunt. Various prizes, no timeline. Together or individually, no hard rules. Just time to spend with you later."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug sets the present down, and then he seems... somewhat abashed. "Well, thank you. In the whole... torrent that is our lives, sometimes it's easy for us to forget the little things and how much they matter." He puts his hand over his mouth, and says, "...Thank you. It means a lot."

Then he murmurs, "It really was awful, wasn't it? The guy aspires to be the New Hellfire Club but he's just... just..." Doug waves a hand in the air, "...Bougie."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"You deserve as much," murmurs Illyana, trying to feel her way around unfamiliar edges. The rough, abused surface calls her to use care, but some part just calls for saying the point instead of sitting there looking between Doug and her black boots, feet pressed together. "Why are..." His mouth covered causes a line to form between immaculately sculpted brows, a confounded madonna beholding the sins of the world. Or something uncertain, thus beheld with vexed celestial consideration. "I'd like to, if you want." She holds up her hand on her knee, a lack of rings or scars markedly noticeable. "Date. Try this thing and keep seeing where it goes."

The words are so soft, they might come from three years ago, the other side of death's grey veil. A terribly lonely place entwined in dark memories and vivid revelations.

Deciphering all the esoteric inscriptions that dance back and forth will inevitably produce a particular scrap of a clue, when translated, which reads:

Oh yes, my heart's desired reach!
How often I in twilight went
Quiet and dark along your beach,
Wracked by a sacred deep intent--
Dear were the answers you would send,
Dim primal sounds, the chasm's call
The silences of eveningfall
And those impulsive flights of wind.

Turn, turn, turn.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug strokes his chin thinking about that, and then he says, "Well sure, I'd like that very much." He glances back up and gives a faint grin, before he leans forward, his elbows on his knees. "I mean... really, I'm just a Mormon kid from Salem Center. You're way more worldly than I am. Otherworldly, in fact."

But then he adds, "But I think this crazy, mixed-up life in which I find myself is more fun if shared, so."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Otherworldly she may be, nodding to the fact with that hint of a smirk curling full lips that would be so much prettier in a smile. Rare as that is, though, she withholds the bounty from the world. "Smart aleck. Too many pop culture facts. Mr. Tech and the sorcerer. Wise cracks, hiding something under there." She lightly wags a finger, back and forth, leaning forward to stare right back at Doug, eye to eye. "Not a damn thing in common, da?"

Soaking in his attention, reflecting it right back, she bares the point of her canine tooth with a mirthless grin. "American. Capitalist. Only one fluent in Russian. Piggyback jouster. Best kisser on the team." It's a goad, assuredly, what with Pushkin dancing at his fingertips in her painstakingly applied handwriting, the parchment soaking up the scent of oak-gall ink, the crisp paper, a hint of leather and tobacco. "'Fun.'" Finger-quotes. "Da. Mine to have fun with." A question hangs in the air.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug tilts his head. "True. False, I'm more of a Eudaimonist than a Capitalist *I* would say -- also true. True. ...Well I've heard good things about Sam but lack a firm basis for comparison." He tilts his head, slightly.

"I am if you want me to be." He says, casually. Then he grins, slowly. "Just don't chew me up too badly."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
No Das Kapital for either of them, then. The slender arc of her lips shapes the elegance of prosaic Russian into something infinitely finer on the ear: <<You called; I was enthralled aground.>>

Sweeping back one of the face-framing tresses that tumbles full to her waist, Illyana doesn't have a hope of tucking it behind her ear. "Asking me to shapeshift and find out?" she asks, deadpan, very likely a serious question. But by definition everything out of her mouth is usually serious. Biting her thumbnail slightly, she beckons Doug with a curl of her fingers.

"I feel odd when you go. Strange. When people look like they want to eat me, you flit through my thoughts." A smirk then forms, shadowy. "Teeth already in, Ramsey? A wolf for me, aren't you?"

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug casually gets up, and then sits next to Illyana, before he thinks about that, his expression somewhat pensive. "Well I mean-- I don't know. I guess I respond to you responding to me. My feelings are-- complicated. About everything. I can't come up with a simple answer for why I want a sandwich, let alone my affections." He rubs his chin in thought, for a time.

"You're complicated. I like complicated. And dangerous -- I like danger. I think the things that've happened in my life mean -- I can't go back and pretend that I'm an ordinary person. Do I resent that? ...Yes. But I have to accept it. And you?" He muses, "Well, you don't romanticize living an ordinary life. At least not enough to pretend that we could. Fait accompli."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
She reaches out to the cuff of his sleeve, pulling his arm around her shoulder. Illyana doesn't amount to much comparatively, but still could easily enough squeeze up against Doug beside the windowframe standing in huge rectangles behind them. Gilding sweeps over them, turning their hair to flame and their skin to ancient metal idols together. Some more than others. Without actually looking at him, her fingers curl around his, palm to palm, and squeeze slightly shut. "Feelings are not easy. Emma lies if she says so." Easy for the girl who is an utter wall to the likes of Jean and Emma or Xavier to actually claim that. Maybe the entanglement of the psyche is totally true. She leans over, bumping him with her elbow, chin grazing the top of his shoulder.

"Danger. Complicated. Extraordinary. Mm, flattery." Not entirely a bad thing, while she breathes her reply into the shell of his ear. "I had to accept no normal. Nothing normal, not even as a child. But I am not always seeing the world in black and white, not always bad. Sometimes even gold. Our normal? More interesting."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug says, "Which is funny because even among our little unit, I *feel* so ordinary, sometimes. My life -- pretty ordinary. A family, but not a huge family like Sam's. Well-heeled, but not nearly as wealthy as Berto. Blond, blue-eyed. White." Doug considers that as he squeezes Illyana's hand. "I was even a boy scout. On my way to Eagle before I joined the school and had to drop out."

"I guess I'm just living in the moment, you know?"

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Fingers slip under his chin while he speaks, turning Doug's face to the blonde. Her shadowed eyes seek his, finding that linkage going further than simple touch. Touch matters, of course, but a sorceress might be reading other things outside the code of reality, hacked totally by cheats and forked knowledge held back from mortals by the gods. "So? Some would kill to be normal. Parents who care. Just schoolwork. Just ...boy... scouting?" Blank stare, engage! Clearly she has no idea of what he is talking about, without an analogue in Russia as easily attainable. There is one, surely. "I wanted money. Mother or Father. Friends. Friends who did not die when I ran them through."

Nothing like smoky brutality leveled there, scoured free of any prospects of humanity and a childhood at all recognizable to the average person. As if they're ever normal. "The moment and ten steps ahead. Too smart to be only now." Her lips graze the corner of his, a flash of connection. "Not ordinarily smart, commonly wise. Just you, making computers feel bad."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"If I remember right you ran me through at least once." He raises an eyebrow. "I don't FEEL wise." He says, "I feel like a fool, blundering ahead because he can't go back." He takes Illyana's hand in his, and raises her fingers to his mouth before he kisses them.

"I'm just trying to do the best I can with what I've got. Just like everybody else. Maybe I want to be a super-hero. Life fast, die young, leave a modestly attractive corpse."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Doug's statement earns a smirk, curved against the corner of his mouth, nipping at his lower lip and dragging ones. "Ask any time you want." A promise, even with Illyana hovering in the periphery of his space. She looks down as he raises their hands, and sits back slightly but still in proximity to him. Enough where she rests against his arm, utilizing that freedom to be there. To figure out she /can/ big there.

"Superhero? Not worth it. Means a lot of bruises and late nights." She shakes her head. "Be a guardian. Everyone likes it. Better sleep. Chiseled features." A boop of her fingertip to the tip of his nose. "Hunt for clues. Get a reward."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"I don't think 'chiseled' is a word that's ever gonna apply to me, Endora," Doug says. "Maybe, I don't know... rounded off. Or Kitchy. But not 'chiseled'." He gives a lopsided grin, and then says, "But hey. I'm a computer nerd with a six pack. I'll live with that."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"Fit." English-speaking perfection for the Russian sorceress. She can offer adjectives for the circumstances. "Toned. Cut. Lanky beanpole." The last is entirely meant as a joke, but it earns that rare grin again burnt against his cheek and she equals the other half of the uneven, lopsided shaping. "Six pack. Mmm. Mine is good, but you see my brothers, I am the little willow to their giant redwood." A pause. "Seq-uoi-ya." It doesn't entirely matter.

She nudges him lightly, giving Doug a questioning loft of her golden brows. "More coffee? Walk? Vernut'sya v krovat'?"

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug shakes his head lightly and then says, "Naw, I'm awake now. Let's... go see where the day takes us. Fit's a good word, I like 'fit'. It denotes a state of readiness." He reaches down and takes Illyana's hand. "Yeah, I know. Wouldn't it have been weird if Piotr had gotten your great-grandfather's skill with magic and you'd gotten his size and strength--"

He clears his throat. "Anyway. Let's go for a walk. It's New York and the day is new."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"He would have been a very large man with impressive magic skills and I would have been a small metal person able to throw tanks." Yes, because Piotr's foremost important task is throwing tractors and tanks at the unsuspecting, lurking in fields and kicking over metal fencing. The very idea is awful. "Then you have a place to figure out where to go. Or decide a destination." Shoulders lifted, she rises up from the seat and takes the cup in her free hand. It needs to be returned to the washing bucket, a plastic contraption standing off to the wayside on the second floor.

"New day, new you. New mutant," a lazy curl of the tongue. "Let's."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug stands, and offers his arm. "Well, let's see where we wind up. Why don't we go window shopping? Or... just shopping? There's bound to be something interesting out there."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"Shopping?" A startled sound. "I did do that. Found something you might even like." She doesn't say anything in particular more about that, though Illyana briefly looks over her shoulder to see whether or not the selection of steps or books are in the way of a spy. Espionage is dangerous, of course.

Squeezing his hand, she carefully weaves her arm around Doug's. Not careful for his sake, more approaching a puzzle with an angle of attack.