Home sweet home, as they say. It’s the first time Ian’s been home since he’d left for his afternoon shift at the library yesterday, and he’d worked until closing and hadn’t stopped by the office of his soup-obsessed associates afterward. He’d taken a taxi from uptown to get back here and it’s like he’d expected the place not to be there when he arrived. Being paranoid coming back to the place you live in is a terrible feeling.
Everything seems in order. He’d gone through the entirety of his small domain, from the living room to the attached kitchenette, to the bathroom and the modest bedroom, and he’d found everything to be as he’d left it the day before. Nothing had changed. Thank goodness for small details.
He’d made coffee first thing, setting the old but functional coffeemaker to brew before he’d taken care of the things that should have been taken care of last night or this morning but hadn’t been because he’d been Elsewhere. About halfway through his tasks he remembers to remove his trench coat, left tossed haphazardly over the end of the couch, and then everything else seems to fall back into place by way of routine as he gets around to showering and changing out of work clothes into more casual attire fit for an off day. And it surely can’t get any more off than this.
The television’s on as background noise while he fixes something to eat, microwaveable and quick.
With the background din of the TV and the sounds of cooking, Ian can be forgiven if he doesn’t notice the rustling of his cloak. Or the way it seems to squirm one direction. And then back another. He might notice when it falls to the floor with a *slitherthump*.
Francisco has slipped out of that casual attire. There had been a reason for it, as there is for most things in his life, and he is glad to be back in the black suit and tie. Formal wear or power armor are his preferences, he has a near irrational aversion to being underdressed. He also remembered how Ian had found it so hard to find him…and he’s surmised that whatever might be going on with him, he should not introduce unnecessary change. He slips through the front door, an assortment of calorical land mines in the guise of comfort food held in front of him as he summarily deposits onto Ian’s kitchen table.
Perhaps its wrong not to ask for permission to come in. Flawed or not, Francisco’s reasoning is simple: his friends can be in his shadow too, not just the bad guys. He can be just as surprised by the people who aim to…oh. well then. “Ian. I didn’t realize you had more than a passing interest in cryptozoology.” His voice not raising in volume or intensity, just the kind of voice one uses when whistling and taking out the trash. Totally normal. Which punctuates his transition into power armor and points the particle accelerator at the offending jacket. “Don’t worry, I bulked up your renters insurance. It covers situations almost exactly like this.” He says conversationally. Apparently talk of feelings will have to wait.
Feelings? How about hospital bills? Walk into people’s apartments unannounced and you’re sure to cause someone a heart attack!
Ian had seen the movement from over the counter, but he’d decided not to be bothered with it, or he would have until he’d given the odd sound more thought. His coat shouldn’t nearly have made that much noise. And then suddenly he’s got company and food set on the narrow table so very rarely used to entertain guests for a meal. There’s a clatter of falling utensils as he abandons them in favor of bracing himself against the kitchen counter, sighing exasperatedly.
“Could you have knocked, at least? How did y- never mind.” It seems pointless to ask how Francisco got into the apartment. Besides, he’d already given his personal statement on the building’s lack of proper security the first time he’d visited.
Ian stoops down to pick up what he’d dropped, frowning a little. “…wait, what are you talking about?” Because now that he thinks about it, that’s the strangest thing to open up with by way of conversation. He would have been expecting a question. When he stands again, he makes his way back into the living room area, glancing from Francisco to his fallen coat. “Is…is there something there?”
Francisco definitely picked up… something. And could be forgiven for thinking it some kind of animal, since he can’t really pick up any *thoughts* off the thing. He can’t even really pick up base feelings from it either. It’s almost more of hole to his telepathy than a blip.
The coat, having fallen, has gone quite still and Francisco needs to concentrate to follow that sense of… something as it skitters under the couch.
“First Guess? Near-Invulnerable Opossum. Great idea, terrible execution. I was asked to..repurpose the lab equipment to produce them and in the process let a few of them out and you see them so often. A couple of shots from the particle accelerator and it should scamper right off.” Its even a true story, and Francisco makes a not small but not terribly large bounty on bringing them in. He’s wrong, but NIO’s also produce that same effect so he can hopefully be forgiven. And if its not an NIO, his pest control knowledge should still apply. “Second guess we sweep your place for bugs and for traps and find something terrifying in which case I’ll kill it and maybe we’ll make soup out of it. I’ll try to make it a weekly thing.” And so he resumes trying to home in on the intruder which probably looks like an NIO in bad light.
“Francisco you are not shooting that thing in my apartment.” Ian’s tone suggests that this matter is not up for debate, and he’s already more than had his fill of weaponry being discharged within his vicinity for a lifetime, at least in his opinion.
He shakes his head, not understanding what possums have to do with anything, but he steps over to pick up his coat before it can be atomized or worse. It’s his only winter coat, and it’s still freezing out. He is not getting it shot full of holes. …although he does take care in taking it in hand, just in case there is anything hiding in it.
At least he doesn’t seem to disagree about having the place swept for things that shouldn’t be there, but he’s not about to encourage Francisco at the moment.
The jacket sits on the floor, very jacket-like and easy to aim at as Ian picks it up and gives it a bit of a shake. It’s a very ordinary, familiar thing for all that Francisco thinks it looks like an Opossum. There is the scrabble of claws, much like one might expect of a cat trying to run on hardwood as something darts from beneath the couch and heads for Ian’s bedroom at, well, the pace of a speeding cat.
Ian doesn’t have a cat, right? Is this how people end up with cats?
“I told you. I called in some favors, forged your signature, and got you better renters insurance. I’d have to set off an arc reactor in here for them to reject your claim.” Mild exaggeration perhaps, but its really an awesome policy. Francisco holds up a hand to silence any potential protests. “I’m paying for it, and it’ll look good on your credit score, as well as if you end up in Corporate Court or before a Freelancer Review Board. Consider it part of your benefits package and an apology for such a skimpy Christmas bonus.” Which is then what sends him racing towards Ian’s bedroom. “Fine, we’ll do it your way. How do you intend to get rid of what could be a dangerous pest, a bloodthirsty beast?”
Ian very nearly drops his coat as something does indeed fall from it. And he’s very certain that he would have noticed if something were hitching a ride in his coat. He hadn’t been that out of it, had he?
Staring after the…thing that’s scrambled for his bedroom, it takes him a moment to soak in what Francisco so casually drops by way of information. He gapes at his friend. Oh, he does not need this. “You did what??” Well of course he did, because this is Francisco Alfaro who just does things out of convenience because he can. That’s…pretty much how Ian ended up stuck with them, now isn’t it?
Tossing his coat back onto the couch, he starts after Francisco who’s already made a beeline for his bedroom. “You don’t know that! Maybe it’s…a stray, or something. Maybe it’s Justin! He turns into…things.” Although by Ian’s tone it doesn’t sound like he quite believes this possibility.
The shadow of… whatever it is, slips in the partially open door followed by Francisco with Ian on his heels. The door is pushed all the way open, hitting the wall as Francisco bursts in and standing in Ian’s bedroom is… a blonde.
Some five and a half feet, with long blonde hair and blue eyes as cold as the wind screaming through the Windy City this winter. She’s dressed in a whole lot of black leather, from heavy-soled boots that come to her knees with silver skull-shaped buckles up the sides to the knee-length fur-trimmed coat she has on over it. Arms crossed, she arches a brow at the pair of them. Francisco gets a bit more of a once-over, given the armor and the weapon.
Francisco’s mental radar? Still isn’t picking anything substantial up.
To be honest, Francisco does things because he can, but in Ian’s case he does them because he can and because he honestly thinks they are good for him. “You wouldn’t have known who to talk to, what to ask for, and would probably have been upset that it was another sign that normalcy was slipping from your life.” A moments pause as he seems to deliberate the best course of action, or maybe because he sees no problem breaking into Ian’s apartment but his bedroom is somehow sacrosanct. “Well if its him he should know better. He’s not your employer, he doesn’t have a right to perform unannounced security inspections.” A pause. “Unless….are you and he….am I interrupting? You know you can leave a sock on the front door right? I saw it in a movie once. I mean, he’s not my type, but I’m sure he’s a fine looking lad. Good on you for getting on the horse in spite of the continuing maelstrom of your life!” Slapping Ian on the back even as he barges in and then looks at the blonde.
Francisco very patiently looks at the blonde, tries not to go through her head because he had been told earlier today that is rude. He then slowly turns to Ian. “No, wait, I saw this in a Korean Drama, I think I understand. So are you seeing Justin without her knowledge, or vice versa? Or are the two of them alternating days and competing for your love? I..have to say Ian, I’m very impressed.”
“Oh my g- you cannot keep referencing everything to movies and television!” Ian sputters, running a hand through his hair as he jumps mental hurdles trying to keep up with the tangents that only Francisco can throw down so well. “No! And no- I don’t even-” And then the door’s opened and there are no cats.
Numb, he must be getting numbed by all the ridiculous things that have been happening to him lately. Maybe he really is going crazy. …and then just like that, as though in defiance of that very possibility, Ian flips it like a switch, glaring at Francisco. “Francisco? Shut up.” That may have come out harsh, but he’s just about run out of what little patience he’d been hording. His pale eyes look past the other and towards the strange woman standing in his bedroom.
“Ma’am? I don’t know who you are or what you’re doing in my apartment, but I really am not in the mood for any of this right now so if you would just leave then I would very much appreciate it.”
One brow climbs higher. Maybe it’s Francisco’s synopsis of what he thinks to be Ian’s life. Which… is rather in depth and might indicate an obsessive amount of time thinking about Ian’s love life. Or maybe it’s Ian’s protestation that she’s not Justin. Indeed, her lips quirk upwards a bit and she agrees in English only slightly touched by the burr of her Russian accent. “I am not Justin.” She agrees.
As Francisco isn’t really threatening her with the weapon he’s toting there, she gestures to the door they’re standing in. “Would you like me to use the door? Or shall I find my own way out?” Clearly, Ian seems to be at about his limit for Weird Shit, and so the blonde is willing to offer this concession.
“I somehow doubt War and Peace, The Wealth of Nations, Who Moved My Cheese, or the works of Neil Degrasse Tyson explain this, so its all I got.” Which comes out as Ian just then snaps at him. Francisco cocks his head, and then nods thoughtfully. “Well alright then.” He leans against the wall nearest the doorway, warily studying the mall as he shrugs. He seems to have swung over to Francisco Professional Mode, not figuring out the soap opera ‘Days of Ian’s Lives’. “My friend has an interesting life. He was trying to tell me a shapeshifter was bolting towards his bedroom. Then we find either a blonde magi or a cosplayer in the room and no Justin. And he looked like he had a tough day so I was hoping it was a happy ending.” He shakes his head, as if something nags at the back of his head. “I assume you’re looking for the…hole in my awareness then?”
He might have been expecting some sort of protestation or …something. That the woman seems all too compliant to leave as requested just throws him off guard. Ian blinks. Just like that? “Ah…” Well, if she wants to leave, he’s hardly one to complain, but that still leaves the whole question of how she’d gotten into his bedroom in the first place. He doesn’t need random people entering his apartment, not today, not ever.
“The um. The door is fine. …although I’m more curious as to how you got in to begin with.”
With Francisco having stepped aside, Ian wonders if he’s upset him. That’s really not fair considering that he knows all the guy ever tries to do is be helpful. There is, however such a thing as too much.
“The very last thing I am, is a Happy Ending.” Anastasia says, her tone quite dry.
“Shapeshifter, no. Demon…” Anastasia looks down at her feet, and from behind one of her heavy boots, a small head pokes around. The imp isn’t even quite the size of a cat, more like a bird. All scrawny, scaly body with proportionally huge eyes and mouth. And teeth. Which is flashes Ian and Francisco in a manic grin. “I tracked him down, and didn’t think you wanted him to stay. Maybe if he had fur, he could have pulled off being a cat, but…” Yes. This is how people get cats. “I’ll take him back home with me.” Her lips quirk in amusement, settling on Ian. “Unless you wanted to keep him.” She doesn’t really think he’d want to, but his reaction is likely to be amusing. And really, that’s all that really matters to her.
Francisco steps closer to the thing, studying it intently. The demon is probably also probably tangentially aware of the seven specters weaving through his armor, faceless, cold, generally ill tempered Things Which Should Have Passed On. “What do you think Ted? You can go with the lady, or you can be my partners lab assistant. I think you two share a sense of humor.” And he probably owes 4 for having left him alone during the most recent debacle. “Its up to you Ted.” And then he glances up at Anastasia. “Ted’s kind of cute in that what the hell is that, kinda way, but unless he knows any useful tricks and can keep the mayhem down to an acceptable level I’d probably ask you to housebreak him first.” Because Francisco’s response to things beyond the supernatural is to ground it in the somewhat ridiculous. “Still, it really is appreciated, Miss. My colleague has had more than he should have to deal with for a while it seems. Demons seem a bit…much right now.”
Demon? “…strange to hear someone talk about demons twice in one day,” Ian murmurs, his eyes drifting down towards the little spindly creature at the woman’s feet, brow furrowing as the thing tosses them a disturbing grin. For being introduced to one, and one who’s just appeared in his apartment to find it, Ian takes it surprisingly well. Maybe he’s just tired. He certainly is still feeling mentally exhausted from everything that’s piled up.
Looking back up, he meets the blond’s gaze evenly. One brow ticks up just a touch. “I wouldn’t know what to feed it,” he says, as if that’s the only concern he’d have with something of the sort. “Unless they really do eat people as was suggested. In which case I don’t have a comprehensive list and would hate to end up being devoured instead.” He nods in confirmation of Francisco’s conclusion as well.
“It is easier when you have a comprehensive list of enemies.” Anastasia agrees, looking rather amused at Francisco calling the imp ‘Ted’.
“You don’t housebreak demons. Demons break houses.” The blonde’s tone is lightly chiding. Like Francisco should have known this. “But. You’re welcome.” Her eyes glitter with amusement. Hey, Francisco thanked her so obviously she’s done them all a great favor by showing up in Ian’s bedroom unannounced. She might even call in the favor for doing so later! “Ta ta.” A glowing circle appears at her feet, the edges limned in flame. ‘Ted’ gives a hisssqueakgrowl of disappointment, wrapping itself around the calf of Anastasia’s boot and glaring at the circle. It rises from the floor, and in it’s wake is… nothing, and when it passes over Anastasia’s head it winks out and she’s gone. Like she was never there.
Francisco taps his chin for a moment before disengaging his armor. “I’m taking watch. I’ll just go home and sleep in the morning.” He decides as he rolls his neck. He’d originally intended to ask Ian about whats been going on and see to his mental health, but clearly his residence is no longer concern so Francisco must triage physical safety first. “Don’t worry. No ones getting in here tonight.” He can’t promise ever, but Ian might catch a telepathic wave of determination that stops just short of rage. His friend does not feel safe in his own home, his own bedroom. This Will Not Do. “Still, it was nice of her to be so courteous, at least. Maybe she wants to be your friend too.” He can, after all, hope. And if he can’t hope, that’s what particle weaponry is for.
“……” Beat. “I really wished she’d used the door.”
With that new brand of weirdness gone, Ian visibly sags with a sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose as he turns and wanders back towards the kitchen. “Francisco, you don’t really need to do that,” he says, although he doesn’t sound very certain on that. Truthfully he might not mind knowing that someone capable of dealing with any manner of things is nearby, and quite frankly, he’s too tired to argue otherwise.
After pouring two cups of coffee and setting the sugar container there for Francisco’s disposal, Ian goes to poke at whatever he’d brought over now that all the demon nonsense is overwith. Nursing his coffee, he looks out the window. And then he asks something that might seem completely- concerningly? out of the blue.
“…Francisco. Is it possible for giant humanoid…robots to be roaming around here undetected?”
Finally getting back to his apartment, Ian ends up with unexpected guests and one of them isn't human.
January 09, 2051
Emerald St. Apartments, Southwest Side