1965-06-11 - Kindling a Friendship
Summary: Teddy stops in at Saganaki, and Kai decides to take a break.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
teddy-altman kai 


It's an open secret that the courtyard at Saganaki is especially welcoming to those in the city who are different, be they mutant or powered, or queer or merely odd. It's an unwritten rule: be cool. Don't start fights, and you can relax your guard, even if only a little.

In one corner, there are a pair of women holding hands across the table. One of them has shimmering, scale-like skin. They're enjoying a quiet meal while a familiar looking waiter checks in on them. It's Kai for the other day, only he's dressed like a waiter.

The rest of the courtyard is unoccupied at the moment, so Kai-the-waiter doesn't look terribly busy despite the main restaurant being quite full.


The Saganaki isn't one of Teddy's usual haunts, but he knows about the place and wanders in from time to time, always alone. It's a peaceful place to get away and sometimes he needs that with all that goes on in his life. If only for a moment.

"One, please," he tells the host, who leads him to a small table on the opposite side of the courtyard from the two women. Teddy carries with him a hardback copy of Ian Fleming's, 'Thrilling Cities,' which he sets on the table before taking a seat. He has on jeans and a white, short-sleeved button-down. Nothing flashy, but it looks comfortable, at least.


Kai leaves the women to their meal and goes to fetch the water pitcher and a glass to pour it into. He heads over to Teddy's table to set it before him, and he smiles broadly. "Hey, I remember you. Teddy, wasn't it?" It's definitely him, same voice and everything, though he's only half-assing the illusion of humanity he keeps in place. There are small glimpses of pointed ears amidst the golden curls, and his eyes are an arresting shade of deep blue with small silvery flecks. At a glance, he can pass for human, though.

"Have you been here before?" Kai asks. "It's great. The food is fantastic. There's nothing on the menu I wouldn't eat, myself."


Teddy is rubbing the bridge of his nose when Kai walks over to his table, so it isn't until the glass is set before him and he's acknowledged that he actually looks up at the server. "Oh, hey," he says after a moment, recognition drawing a sly smile across his face. "The dragon slayer, right?" He's pretty sure about that, so he shifts some in his chair to make conversation easier between his seated self and the standing elf. "I've been here a couple of times, but not for a while. What do you recommend?"


Kai's smile deepens, and there are dimples on his cheeks. "Yeah, this is what I do during the day," he says. "It's important to have a trade, and I've always been interested in hospitality. Now, let's see. I definitely recommend the saganaki, because it's fried cheese. The kebob is good, and I'm a big fan of the dolmas. We've got all kinds of wine, or Greek coffee if that's more to your taste."


Teddy rests his elbows casually on his chair's armrests and nods. When he says, "Groovy," on learning about Kai's interest, he really seems to mean it. "I think I'm in the mood for coffee today," he decides, lifting a hand to brush the air with. "And I'll try all the rest. Whatever I can't eat I'll take home." If Kai had been watching how effortlessly he devoured his hot dog yesterday, it might be assumed there won't be leftovers.


"I'll get you some of our specialties," Kai says with confidence. Lambert's cooking speaks for itself, and the aromas coming from the kitchen are a teaser. Savory, roasted meat and Greek spices. Kai makes his way to the kitchen, and he's gone for a little while. The courtyard is peaceful, fragrant with the flowers growing along the wall.

When Kai returns, he's balancing a huge platter on one hand, and he comes back over to the table. One by one, he sets down dishes. There's the saganaki, fried cheese with a side of bread. Then he sets down a plate of dolmas, warmed katamala olives, and Florina peppers. Then there is a plate of braised lamb and roasted vegetables. Finally, a cup of bracingly strong coffee. "There's baklava after this," he says. Whether he's intuited it or is just showing off the menu, he's brought plenty of food.


5r"Thanks!" Teddy takes a sip of water as he watches Kai head off to put in the order. By the time all the food comes out, he has one leg crossed over the other and appears to be getting into the book he's brought with him. Food, however, is able to pull him away from the pages and back to the present. He smells it first, then looks up to see the big platter that's all for him. "Oh, wow. You weren't kidding. This looks great." He closes his book and sets it on the other side of the table to allow room for all the dishes.


Kai arranges it all neatly, then says, "These are some of my favorites, though it's so hard just to pick a few. Anyway, I hope you enjoy." He nips over to the ladies' table to see how they're doing, and then he heads into the kitchen. He emerges with a plate of baklava and a bottle of wine, along with a pair of glasses. Ambling over to Teddy's table, he says, "I'm about to take a break. Do you want company or would you prefer to read?"


"I bet I will," Teddy says, before digging into some fried cheese and bread. While Kai makes his round, he manages to try a bit of everything, though the lamb seems to be a favorite. He's savoring a piece when the server returns and seems a bit surprised at the offer, though he motions to the seat across from him and swallows his bite. "Oh, absolutely. I'd love the company." He puts down his silverwear and reaches for a napkin, which which he wipes his face before leaning back. "How's the shift going?"


Kai sets down the plate of delicious pastry on the table, then snags himself a seat. "I know this isn't very professional," he says as he opens the wine, then pours two glasses of the rich, red liquid. "But just between you and me, Lambert doesn't pay me. It's more of a hobby than a vocation." He offers one of the glasses over. "I love working the courtyard, though if they get too swamped in the main room, I might need to nip off for a bit." He smiles across the table at Teddy. "Didn't I tell you the food was excellent?"


Teddy folds the napkin over one of his thighs and watches the wine get poured. "I won't judge," he says regarding the possibly unprofessional move Kai is making now. "You brought me the good stuff. I'm not sure why I haven't come here more often. My boyfriend usually handles our food situations." He shrugs at that and reaches for the offered wine, sniffing it because that's what people do, then sipping some. "So how long have you worked here?"


"You should bring him," Kai says. "Some night when Chef can come visit with you and pamper you properly. He's been a bit under the weather, but he's still the best chef in New York, especially for someone as young as he is." He takes a hearty drink of wine, then sighs with contentment. Mmm, wine. "For the first few months, I played the front room. Guitar and singing, mostly. Then, a couple months ago, they restaurant was super busy so I just started waiting tables. Lambert pays me in all the baklava and wine I was going to just take, anyway."


Teddy laughs at that and glances over to the door leading into the front room. "You're a musician, then?" When he turns back, he mimics Kai's hearty drink with one of his own, glancing to the glass with a look of approval. "I've always wanted to be able to play something, but it's just not in me. I actually managed to snap the strings on my guitar in high school." Oops! As he looks across to hear more about that side of Kai, he reaches for an olive and pops it into his mouth.


Kai clucks his tongue and says, "You need a gentle touch." He shrugs a shoulder and says, "I play and sing a bit, but I'm not phenomenal. Some of the people you'll see in the clubs in the Village, they're amazing, but I can entertain a bunch of people eating good food." For a little guy, he sure puts that wine away quickly. He doesn't seem tipsy, though. "I'm actually a pretty good dancer, but I'm not sure I've got the discipline to belong to an actual dance company."


Teddy holds his hand up and looks at it, turning it over once before shaking his head and dropping it to his lap. "Phenomenal, right? I love going out in the village for that." He drinks a bit more of the wine, which is just starting to warm inside of him, then sets the glass down. "You look like you're a good dancer. Or at least better than I am, which is actually not too difficult, though I have a move or two."


"I was taught dancing," Kai says, almost dreary as he says, "My grandmother insisted I learn dance. And manners, and how to be a good, upstanding citizen. I've managed to unlearn most of it except the dancing." He tops off both wine glasses. The wine is rich and sweet, and a little heady if one drinks it too fast. "You look like you've got some moves. I bet there's all sorts of stuff you're good at."


Teddy's brows lift in curiosity at the talk about Kai's grandmother, but the unlearning draws a chuckle from the beefy blond. "You're sweet," he tells the server, reaching again for his refreshed glass. "I try to be good at /at least/ some things, though it's taken a while to figure all that out." He shrugs and looks a little uncomfortable talking about himself. Or maybe it's the heady wine. "Did you grow up in the city?" The question has him looking carefully at Kai, especially the slightly pointed ears.


Kai grins and ducks his head. "I try to be nice," he says. "The world is mean enough without my help." He drinks more wine, and it still doesn't seem to affect him much. With a wave of his hand, he says, "Oh, no. I was born in London. My family, they're not from around here." He considers a moment, then admits, "They're not even human, strictly speaking. But I've lived on Earth most of my life."


Teddy lifts his glass to toast to the statement on a mean world. After drinking some more, he decides to open up as well. "Neither are mine. Or neither is one of mine?" He sighs and holds onto his glass. "I'm actually unclear about all that, but I've always lived on Earth. Here in New York City." There's a smile when he says the city's name, and he reaches over to grab a fork and dig into the baklava.


The bakalva is flaky and sweet, and Kai nudges the plate closer to Teddy. "New York City is the greatest in the Nine Realms," he says. "I can't imagine wanting to live anywhere else." He lowers his voice and adds, "I won't tell anyone you're part alien. There's nothing wrong with it, but sometimes people get skittish over silly things. Especially with all this Skrull business in the papers."


Teddy cuts into the baklava with the side of his fork, pausing just a moment when there's mention of Skrulls. "Yeah," he says, finishing so that he can spear the piece of dessert. "People are always skittish with things that are different." He eats the piece and settes back, looking over the table with a grin. "Thanks, though. I think I'm going to need to need a doggie bag after all."


Kai says, "Sure, I'll get you some boxes." First, though, he tops off both glasses of wine. "Funny, isn't it? How they fear us, but when trouble comes, we're the ones they turn to to make it right." He shakes his head. "It's a good thing to have a sense of humor and one eye open." He leans back and takes another drink. He'll get those boxes any minute now.


Teddy shakes a hand in a way that suggests he wants Kai to stay put for now. "No rush, I'm just saying it's a lot of food. Delicious food, but still." He pats his belly and leans to have his glass topped off. "I guess that's the price to pay for being able to do something about the big problems." He drinks some more, purposefully shutting one eye as he does. "I don't know," he muses, looking over to Kai with that sustained wink. "I think this makes things tougher."


"The cost of being extraordinary," Kai says, and he grins at the wink. When he grins like that, he gets dimples and looks younger still than he already does. "I've been back home though, and I'll take the ostracization over being ordinary. We're lucky, though, you and I. We can blend in. I'll introduce you to the chef sometime. He's part satyr, and you can see it. He's got little horns. I think they're great, but he gets looks."


Teddy opens his eyes and works on his drink, which he's starting to feel now. "Yeah, I'm really lucky with that," he says before nearly finishing his glass. As he swirls around what's left he considers meeting the chef and nods. "OK, sure. Anyone who can cook this well is someone I'd want to meet, regardless of heritage. Let me know when he's usually in and I'll stop by again."


"Of course," Kai says. "He's a character, and I guess satyrs know all sorts of stuff about food and drink. From what I can tell, they're a people who enjoy their leisure." He swirls his wine in his glass. "Then again, so are mine." He certainly seems to be ilving up to the ideal, what with all the food and boozing.


Teddy seems pleased with this and finishes off his wine. The empty glass is set before him, and so he takes a moment to feel his head buzz and enjoy it. "Satyrs," he somes contemplatively. "This city really does have everything." He blinks, shakes his head, and reaches out for his fork again. There's more baklava to be consumed before he leaves. "What are your people, exactly?"


Kai holds up the bottle in a wordless offer to refill the glass. "This city is like a crossroads," Kai says. "Full of travelers that never got around to leaving." His expression goes thoughtful at Teddy's question. "Hmm, how to put this. Do you know about the Asgardians? The Norse thought they were gods, but it turns out they're just a really advanced civilization?"


Teddy nods to the empty glass, because as long as someone else is drinking he's doing the same. "I can't say I know very much about them," he admits. "Are you saying you're a norse god?" He lifts a brow at the idea, but in no way dismisses it. At this point that would be irresponsible. Still, he's very curious to hear more, even with another bite of baklava keeping him company.


Kai laughs and shakes his head. "No, no. Gosh, no, I'm not a god. I'm hitched to one, but that's more god-adjacent than personally godlike." He tops off both glasses again. The bottle's getting low, but he shows no sign of slowing down. "There are Nine Realms," he says, "that are under the watch of Asgard and its king, Odin All-Father. Princes Thor and Loki are sons of his. Anyway! Nine Realms, one of which is Midgard. Earth. Where we're at right now. One of the others is called Alfheim. That's where I'm from. It's one of the higher realms."


Teddy watches the next glass get poured and makes a note of that. Not a god, just god-adjacent. "Huh," he eventually says to the brief rundown he's given. "Alfheim." He reaches for his glass again and holds it, pondering the word. After a sip, he tilts his head and asks, "What'd it like there?" He shrugs, just to be clear that he's never heard of the place. "I'm just from Brooklyn."


Kai grins as he says, "I love Brooklyn." He takes a drink, and he gets comfy, resting his elbows on the table. "I would say it's more like Asgard than Midgard," he says. "It's quite advanced, but also magical. Have you ever read Tolkien? His elves came from the European legends of my people. Alfheim is beautiful, by the way. It's paradise. Rolling hillsides, green and lush, fabled cities and some of the best wine in all of creation. They call us ljosalfar. Light elves."


Teddy leans sideways against the arm of his chair and wears a grin that's grown somewhat slanted by now. "I haven't read Tolkein, but I know about elves. That's so cool." He slowly lifts his glass and drinks a bit more. "Ljosalfar," he says with poor pronunciation. "So, can you summon light or is it always daytime there, or what? Also, if it's paradise, why not live there? /Also/ Brooklyn is great, isn't it?"


Kai holds up a hand, and gradually a silvery shimmer appears on his skin that blossoms into a soft, silverblue glow. "I'm a moon elf," he says. "No, we don't live on the moon, but I can make moonlight." The glow fades, and he shrugs a shoulder. "I was born here. I grew up here, and with the exception of a few decades, this is where I've been. Besides, my gran has so many unreasonable expectations. I just want to have fun."


When the glow lights up Kai's skin, Teddy leans in for a closer look. "That's beautiful," he comments with a chuckle. Leaning back again, he nods at hearing that Kai was born and raised here. The big about his grandmother gets a headtilt. "Well, I think lots of family have those. None of mine that I know of, but it's something I hear a lot from others." Another shrug, and he drinks some more wine. "Fun is fine, though. I like fun."


Kai raises his glass and says, "I'll pick fun every time." His expression softens, and he's quiet a moment before he says, "Besides. Here, I can do good. I can protect people and take care of the people society forgets about. There's evil in the world and I can fight it. In Alfheim, all I've got to look forward to is running an estate and trying to make an heir." He wrinkles his nose. No thanks.


Teddy makes a sound that's either thoughtful or agreeabele. Maybe both. "Yeah, this world has a lot of evil in it. There need to be more people with your attitude." His lean gets a little heavy and so he adjusts himself to maintain better posture. "I think I'd like to visit Alfheim sometime, but I can totally understand not wanting to live there if you're expected to make an heir." Hise nose wrinkles, too. "Here's to fun and good. Good fun." He leans and extends his glass to cheers with the moon elf.


"Well, you wouldn't be," Kai says with no small amount of envy "You could go to all the parties and there would be no agenda but having a good time. Maaaybe, by some miracle, my mum might have another kid and then I'll just be the incorrigible bastard of the family. Let that poor tyke take the reins." He waves a hand. "But that's all boring family stuff. Maybe you can visit Alfheim someday. It is lots of fun." He clinks his glass to Teddy's. "And I'll always drink to fun."


Teddy takes a long drink after clinking his glass with Kai's. When he lowers the glass he shakes his head. "I don't think family stuff is boring," he tells the elf. "In fact, I wish I knew more about mine to be able to even consider it boring. I have a mom still out in Brooklyn, but that's it." He shrugs, eyes the wine, and sighs. "Not that I'm complaining, though."


Kai takes another drink, nursing the glass more slowly now that the bottle is running down, but he still is bright-eyed and alert. "I'm going to Asgard soon to visit my mum," he says. "She and my da are in prison, and I'm going to try to convince the All-Father to let them out." He nibbles on a bit of baklava. "What's your mum do? No da?"


"She's in real estate," Teddy says easily. "I've got a dad, I guess. Likely responsible for the alien bit of my biology. I've just never met the guy." He smiles, though, having come to terms with this already. "But, my god, I'm sorry to hear about yours. What happened?" He leans in a bit and also takes a small sip of wine.


Kai says amiably, "Oh, they stole something. They are 100% guilty and no mistake about it. I'm just going to try to appeal to the All-Father's sense of mercy. And to return what they took. Hopefully they've learned their lesson and are ready to settle down. I like to think they were just young and stupid."


Teddy furrows his brow and nods, though it's a slow one that suggests he doesn't entirely follow things. "Alright," he says, tapping a finger against his wine glass. "Well, whatever it is they took, whatever went down, I hope they get the mercy they deserve." This he is sure of, and so he smiles, then proceeds to drain his glass. "I should probably stop here before I suggest we hit the village." Probably.


Kai takes up the bottle, waggling it a bit in temptation. He's a walking advertisement for a good time, this one. "The Village is a happening place," he says. He tops off his own glass. "Are you driving tonight? I'll call you a cab if you are. So you've got all the goods on me, and I know nothing about you except that you come from Brooklyn and your mother is in real estate."


Teddy eyes the waggling bottle with a grin and shrugs, setting the glass down in the middle of the table to see what happens. "Driving?" He laughs and shakes his head. "No, I don't drive." Then there's the comment about his own background, which he nods to, thinking. "Well, um, I go to NYU, but I'm not actually sure what I'm doing with myself there." He frowns for a moment, then shakes his head. "I live with my boyfriend, Billy." This he seems happier about. "Aaaand," he seems to consider his next words for a moment, before deciding to say, "I recently learned that I'm part Skrull." He nods to the glass then, if Kai hasn't already poured him anything.


Kai pours more wine for both of them. He glances to Teddy, brows lifting at the revelation that he's part Skrull. "Well," he says, "I suppose that's bound to happen, if you think about it. If they're infiltrating the world, they're bound to get entangled in it." He considers, then says "But you can't help where you come from, right?"


While he's happy Kai hasn't spat on him at the revelation, he doesn't seem very pleased at the mention of the Skrull's invasion of Earth. "No," he says, reaching once more for his new glass. "No, you cannot." He drinks some, closes his eyes, and savors the beverage. When he looks back to Kai he says, "Do you think that's what happened? That they worked their way onto Earth decades ago by breeding with people here?"


"I have no idea," Kai admits. "According to the Kree, they have, but who are the Kree, you dig me, man? What's their agenda? Besides, if there's no way to detect the Skrull, is it worth losing sleep over? But yeah, I don't see why it couldn't be true. Humanity is poised right now on the brink of change. It's a very exciting time. There are those out there that have probably noticed."


Teddy takes a breath and nods, again slowly. "I don't know how I feel about being part of that, but you're right. We don't actually know the Kree and we /are/ on the edge of something. I guess you could call it exciting." He looks off to the couple in the other corner and shrugs. "I don't want to lose sleep over any of it. But I do, some nights. Can't help it."


Kai nods solemnly. "It's easier said than done," he says. "Especially when you're close to it, and it doesn't get much closer than this. The way I figure, though, you're from Brooklyn, and this is your home. All this other stuff going on? With the Skrull and the Kree? That's heavy, man. No doubt about it. But you're Teddy first, and everything else second."


"Yeah. Heavy, man," Teddy agrees with a grin. "And sure, everything else comes second." His tone doesn't entirely vibe with that assessment, but he stands by it nonetheless. "Seems like we both have some heavy stuff going on in our lives, though." He drinks to that and then asks, "When do you plan on going to Asgard and trying to free your parents?"


Kai smiles crookedly as he says, "But we got good stuff, too. You got a man, I got a man. Friends, too. They help." He takes a drink, then says, "As soon as it's good for Prince Thor to make the trip. He's an important person with a lot of important stuff going on, so it's at his convenience. He's doing me a favor bringing me along, but I can't say enough good stuff about Thor. He's the grooviest."


Teddy brightens at the mention of his man. "Oh, yeah. Billy? He's out of sight." There's a wide smile there and it seems the heaviness of the past bit of conversation lifts. "So, not terribly soon, then. I was going to suggest we grab some drinks when you get back. I want to know how it goes. Really." He lifts his glass to drink some more, knowing this might just be one of those things people say halway through a bottle of wine, even though it doesn't feel that way just now.


Kai says, "Oh, I'd love to! I'm bringing back some wine from my family's estate. You'll want to be careful, it'll get you loaded like crazy. We could try some, though. Bring your Billy, it'll be fun. Loki isn't much of a people person, but if I can talk him into coming, we could make it a double date." Alcohol inspires all sorts of plans. "I'm usually here at least a few times a week. Lambert knows how to get hold of me."


Teddy snaps his fingers and lifts one alongside his head. "Right on, now that's a idea," he says, laughing some. "We keep pretty busy, but I'll make time for it." He nods and then looks out at the plates of half-finished food. "So, how about those to-go boxes? I know someone who would appreciate the leftovers."


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