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Moment of Awesome: Illyana Rasputin/Magik: Trapped in Limbo after a teleporting accident, Illyana talks to Topaz about the dangers of magic here and is surprised that Topaz actually listens.

It wasn't that Illyana wanted to talk to anyone right now; she was so tired she felt sick instead of tired, and her hands wouldn't stop shaking. Rather, the sense of grudging obligation sitting like a rock in her throat made it impossible not to: Not only was this her fault, but it was her place, too, in a way. So once a fire was going and they'd figured out what the hell was going on, she made her way back to Topaz - someone else she barely knew, and had been keeping it that way the same way she did with all the other magic people - and tried to decide what to say. Finally, she said, "So . . . I wanted to say that you need to be careful here. With the magic. Your magic. It's not - " She paused, glancing over her shoulder, and exhaled, quietly, a resignation. "Whatever you're used to, it's not that. Almost nothing here is safe to use."

"People are," Topaz said almost without thinking, and without taking her eyes away from the outside. It took her a moment too long to realize that was probably confusing to Illyana. "I use emotions to power my magic. You know, go into your head, pull 'em out, turn them into magical energy." She said all that a little too matter-of-factly. She had gotten used to everyone understanding how her magic worked. "Wouldn't do that to you, though," she added. "I've had some morals beaten into me."

Illyana sat down, abruptly out of the energy it would take to keep standing; this also gave her the time she needed to process Topaz's words and make sense of them. "Not everything here that looks like a person is a person," she said, ignoring the emotional-vampire aspect because that sounded - like something to worry about another time. "If that makes a difference." She sighed, fidgeting with the strings on her sweatshirt. "It's just - magic is different here. I know some of you guys at the mansion think that it's this, like, neutral power source that's only as good or bad as what you do with it, but it's not like that here." She surprised even herself with this fierceness, and sat back a little bit, but she didn't look away from Topaz.

Topaz finally turned to look at Illyana. She was trying to tell Topaz something important - the least she could do was listen and give it her full attention. She knew Illyana avoided them - she could always feel the hesitation and uncertainty when they were anywhere near each other. Hell, she felt it now. It practically bled off the girl. "I believe you," she said quietly. "And trust me, I have no plans to go around poking in places that shouldn't be poked at. I like not accidentally frying my brain because I picked up... I dunno, emotionally poisonous. I don't even know if that's possible, but I don't plan on finding out."

Something unknotted itself in Illyana's stomach, even though she knew that promises were cheap. "Okay." She sighed, pulling at a string. "I just know you guys, like, that girl Amanda will just do anything, whatever she wants, and maybe it's different back there." Though her voice clearly indicated that she highly doubted it.

Topaz's jaw tightened the slightest bit. "I'm not Amanda." She might have actually done them some good here. Whereas Topaz was just... here. Another bother.

"Thank God," Illyana said fervently. "That's the last thing we need down here. She'd probably end up corrupting her soul and running the place, if she didn't just die from a really, really stupid idea."

Topaz bit down a snort. "She'd survive. She actually knows what she's doing." That last bit was undeniably bitter. She couldn't help it.

"She thinks so," Illyana returned irritably. "But considering she made me stab my actual soul through her hand a few months ago, and never, like, asked about it or talked about it or bothered to apologize, I think she's basically just lucky." In so many ways. "I'd much rather have you around down here. At least you listen."

Topaz raised an eyebrow. She hadn't heard anything about that, but she tended not to ask what a superspy did in her spare time. "I listen because I don't have a clue. All of this-" She waved a hand out at the endless stretch of nothing, "I don't know what I'm doing." It was something she had never admitted before - never wanted to admit. And to a student she barely knew of all people.

Illyana shrugged, looking over her shoulder at the mouth of the cave, the thick darkness already settling into an eerily-silent night outside. "I mean, at least you know that you don't know. That makes you careful. Which keeps you alive. I mean, usually." She snorted. "It's better than rampaging your way through a situation and only stopping to check if everyone's fine after."

"It also makes me useless." But she was used to that, she supposed. She was always useless. She looked down at her candy bar, suddenly realizing that she wasn't hungry, and she'd barely taken a bite. "Want the rest?" She asked, abruptly changing the subject as she held the bar out to Illyana.

"I'm okay," Illyana said, shaking her head. If it was unlike her to refuse food, the churn of her stomach - regret-grief-shame-fear - was moreso. She tilted her head so that her hair draped over her shoulder, looking at Topaz curiously, and then seemed to dismiss it. "Better save it for later. Unless you like fire roasted mostly-squirrel." Which is what they looked like, whatever their dire origins.

Topaz raised an eyebrow, folding the wrapper around the candy bar and stored the rest in her chocolate. "Think I'll stick to the candy. Vegetarian and all." And roasted mostly squirrel didn't exactly sound the most appetizing.

Illyana looked perplexed. "Vegetarian," she said, "So you eat . . . " She tried to think. "Chicken?"

Today in XProject:

August 21

2003: Nathaniel Essex encounters a semi-drunken Betsy in the staff lounge. Things get a bit out of hand.

2004: Jean-Paul and Shinobi plan an HeliX benefit party. GW Bridge visits to check on Nathan. Angelo and Amanda have a Friend Moment; Manuel sees and misinterprets and the shit hits the fan; Shinobi tries to console a distraught Manuel; Angelo emails Amanda to tell her he doesn't think they should be friends any more.

2005: Scott and Jean leave for a weekend at a B&B.

2006: Marie and Doug break up. Believing Is Seeing: The X-team in Los Angeles finally discover what is happening at the club.

2007: Laurie mentions bringing the bus trip back again. Laurie cleans out Angelo and Forge's fridge and talks to Kurt in the kitchen about sentient sausages and Forge's return. The Winding Way: Amanda accidentally traps Angelo in bed when she casts a shielding spell in her sleep. Kurt lets Monet dye his hair pink and Jan approves. Clarice complains about summer being almost over. Logan and Marie catch up. Alexander's Wall: Scott and Ororo discuss the implications of the Brotherhood's newest 'recruit'. Laurie asks why the rum is gone.

2008: Laurie complains about the sex thread in Jennie's journal and she and Kyle fight and Jennie physically hauls her down to see Samson while Kyle goes outside to cool off; talking to Samson, Laurie expresses her frustration at not being able to do more in Sri Lanka. Emma asks Wanda to go to Russia to look for a missing contact. Operation: Retribution: Remy sends Wanda, Amanda, Sarah, Jubilee and Marie-Ange to India to send the Imperial Guard and D. Ken a message following the genocide in Sri Lanka; Amanda emails Angelo to ask him to keep an eye on the kids who went to Sri Lanka. Xbalanque: Jane, Monet, Kevin, Terry, Julio, John and Nash arrive in Guatamala; arriving at the Mission, they run into the local eccentric, Doña Teresa, an old woman who takes a strong interest in Julio; the group gets rained in on Jaguar Hill; something attacks the mission and takes Dr. Mendez. Crystal and Medusa go out for lunch in Attilan and Medusa's pregnancy is accidentally revealed to the press; Crystal announces Medusa is visiting the mansion for the day and that she is pregnant. Adrienne makes a deal with Fred Duncan and agrees to help the FBI with bigger fish - the organised crime family her husband was associated with; she later calls for a celebration at Harry's. Angelo visits Nathan to find Rachel has snuck in first. Scott, Alex and Jean return from Alaska.

2009: Fred gives Yvette a belated birthday gift.

2010: Dropping into the X-Factor office to get visa paperwork signed, Jean-Paul has a bad reaction to a false memory when Daniel opens the door, causing him to attack; Jean-Paul winds up doing Vanessa's work for her as 'punishment' for injuring her; Jean-Paul returns to the mansion and explains to a loopy Kevin that he had to kiss a girl for work (and coffee).

2011: Marie-Ange makes a journal entry talking about her birthday and having a catered brunch on top of a Ferris Wheel.

2012: Sooraya emails Angelo about joining X-Corps. A Kind of Magic: A flash storm suddenly appears in New York; Marie-Angie emails Doug about borrowing an umbrella from the sudden storm; David North offers his chauffeuring services. Scott tracks down Yvette and the two talk about their own welfare. Sooraya texts Angel and Yvette that she is cleared for training again but not yet on active duty. Johnny Gallo returns to the school.

2013: Kyle makes a journal post complaining that the cat shredded his lesson plans.

2014: Haller checks up on Lorna after the Fury mission and provides food. Marius is surprised by Yvette at Fred’s bedside and they talk about the mission and their own fears. Rogue visits Jean in the Box.

2015: Quentin is recruited in X-Factor by Jessica and talks with Warren and Adrienne about this. Quentin texts Gabriel about needing drinks. Doug teaches Hope about following a person and being followed. It’s Greek To Me: Our intrepid specialists are ready to completely throw in the towel and then Namor actually does whack the mechanism; the group is surprised by the arrival of a group of green, human-ish shaped people; violent, green, human-ish shaped people; Molly posts about having fun whacking them; Scott makes an official announcement of what happened; Clint posts later on about the object being safely locked away; Molly texts Wade about needing a place to put her fish spear.

2016: Topaz posts about the appalling price of textbooks.

2017: Amanda notices the absence of Big Ben’s chimes. Alison comments on Taylor Swift’s social media cleanse.

XProject Announcements and News:

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Coming Soon:

  • eXcalibur: Isle of Glass: A favour for an old friend lands Clint Barton in a whole lot of trouble, involving ancient British magic and the start of a new team.

  • Morningstar: His adventure in Limbo has Consequences for Warren.

  • X-Men Mission: Skull Island: Christian Kane is back. And this time he has a doozy of a mission - a rescue on an island full of giant monsters!

  • Murder, They Tweeted: A family wedding gets much more exciting than anticipated for Quentin Quire and his plus one, Hank McCoy.

  • The Danger Room Paradox: A glitch while modifying the Danger Room results in a quantum event that impacts the whole mansion.

  • Fear in the Dark: Tandy Bowen's past with the entity known as the Dweller gets majorly complicated.

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