1965-09-08 - Souvenirs
Summary: Kai stops by the sanctum with gifts for Strange and Wanda.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange kai 


Kai comes knocking, and he's brought with him two bags of gifts, one on each arm. He's dressed in ridiculous mod getup, his hair once more left to fly free, and his illusion of humanity is once more in place. It's not a perfect illusion. If one really looked hard one could see through it, but to the casual eye he's just a round-eared, blue-eyed boy, fresh-faced and smiling.

It's as if the prank never happened. There's no tentativeness or guilt about him. He's there as comfortable as can be, with a bright and happy, "Hello!" when the door is opened.


"Kai." The Sorcerer Supreme in civilian garb of button-down and slacks steps aside to allow the gift-burdened Elf entrance to the Sanctum. The warding spells swirl down and around once in their moderately-frigid interest and then depart into the dark woodwork of the manor-house, recognizing long-time friend rather than foe. "What's all this then?" he asks, eyes rising from the bags to the young man's face even as he closes the door. "Come in for tea, I suppose," he adds, walking towards the parlor where, inevitably, tea will be served.


Kai steps inside, and he holds still for the wards, because he is a polite Elf (when he wants to be). When the wards return to their woodwork, Kai makes his way toward the parlor. "Just a few things I brought back from Alfheim and Asgard," he says. "For yourself and the lady of the house, and I guess whatever offspring you care to share with."

He makes himself right at home, going to the chair he usually sits in. Once parked there, he sets the bags down and begins to rummage. "My grandmother sends her regards," he says, dutifully though somewhat dolefully. It's not cool to have one's gran like one's friends.


"Does she now…?" Yep, there's a thick thread of restrained laughter through those words and absolutely two ghostly dimples as Strange stands at the tea tray, working to prep the usual choice of tea for the Elf. He's not looking at Kai as he says this; manners win out. "I did like her. A refined woman." The ever-hot kettle is steaming and water poured over the sachets of tea.

"I'm not going to pretend to be coy. What did you bring, then?" The Sorcerer glances over at the sound of items being moved about in their respective bags, his silver spoon paused over the small honey pot.


"She was on her best behavior around you," Kai says. Like she's the one with the behavior problem rather than the height of impeccable manners that she is. "She told me I would do well to be more like you." He shakes his head. Good luck with that, gram gram.

However, there are gifts! And that perks him right back up. "I brought you a bottle of Firefly wine from our private reserve." He extracts a bottle to offer over. "It is stronger than mortal wine, but mortals can drink it. They should just take it easy." He extracts a smaller bottle, which he also offers over. "And a bottle of ice wine, made from the sugariest grapes just after the first frost. It's nice for dessert and quiet time in the evening."


He allows himself a little snort of a laugh at the grandmother's wishes for behavior of her offspring, but doesn't pursue the topic further. No need to ruffle feathers. The wines, however? He walks over to deliver Kai's cup of tea to the small side-table next to the wing-backed chair reserved for guests and then takes up the bottle of firefly wine.

"I've heard of this here," he says, turning the glass container about in his hands and eyeing it up and down. "I've heard also of what it does, but never have I seen it in person. That should be…entertaining when it comes time." He grins big enough to truly showcase those dimples found again on Billy. "Wanda will likely appreciate the ice wine, what with her sweet tooth." He takes the smaller bottle of sugary wine in his other hand and looks it over as well. "Yes, for quiet evenings over a tome, no doubt. Thank you kindly, Kai." He gives the Elf a fond smile. "You certainly didn't have to."


"And yet I did. A newt couldn't do that, I'm just telling you," Kai says. He accepts his tea, though he sets it aside to cool while he continues to browse his baga. "Gran wanted me to give you these." He offers up polished wooden boxes, two of them. Within one lies a silver diadem made of linked crescents culminating in a circular center wherin rests a sapphire so deep a blue it's almost purple. There are prongs in the filegree that rise like antlers, and grape vines entwined within them. It's fine, and it's elegant, and it thrums with Elvish magic. Just a little, like a fey wish for protection and goodwill. "That's for Wanda," Kai says.

The other is a smaller box, and within it is a brooch, a blazing gold sunburst with a fiery padparadscha. It too carries a thrum of goodwill magic. For Elves, magic is as natural as breathing, and what's a little goodwill here and there? "That one's for you," Kai clarifies.

Kai also brings forth a few confections. A box of cookies here, a bag of candy there, and another jar of Elvish honey. Then there is a palm-sized ball of what looks like blown glass. It too has magic. A lock that a simple spell will release. "There's a cheesecake in that one," he says. "Supposedly one of the best in the universe. I wouldn't know. I can't unlock it. But I hear it's life-alteringly good."


The Sorcerer finds a place for the bottles of wine, his eyebrows steadily working their way higher yet. More gifts? And especially from Kai's dragon of a grandmother?

He blinks at the reveal of the diadem and utters a soft, "Well." He can sense the Elvish magic delicately and yet solidly intertwined through the jewelry. Kai's given a truly fond smile for this; anyone who aids in keeping his Beloved safe earns a steadfast place at the man's side. The brooch is enough to make his brows nearly disappear into his hairline. "What…I. Well then," he murmurs, brushing a finger along the brilliant gemstone's faceted surface. The magic within hums to him in a pleasant, Mystical greeting of sorts.

Still holding the small box containing the padparadscha pin, he glances up to see more gifts appearing. "Kai, must you — " He pauses to listen as to the workings of the confections as well as odd glass ball. "…thank you," Stephen says again, still somewhat boggled. "You really didn't have to, with all of this," and his sweeping gesture includes all the gifts.


Kai watches the unveiling of the jewelry with interest. The old battle axe wouldn't let him peek because 'these aren't for you.' He whistles lowly when he sees the pieces. "She really likes you," he says. What a relief it must be to her that her grandson has such a good influence for a friend. Not to mention, she sleeps easier knowing the planet her grandson inhabits is properly protected.

Taking up his tea, Kai watches the rest of the unveiling with a grin. "I wanted to," he says. "You've been a good friend to me. I like that I get to share a piece of where I'm from with you. I know you don't go off-duty very often."


The silver-templed man laughs as he closes the brooch box and sets it beside the collected pile of gifts, from bottles to sweets alike.

"Off-duty, no, rarely if at all. Your kindness is greatly appreciated, Kai. I'll have to send your grandmother a thank-you note as well — hand-signed. She seemed the type to appreciate something as such. Hmm…and perhaps something from our world…" He gives the young Elf a weighing look. "Has your grandmother ever tasted old Mrs. O'Riley's scones? Because that is something I wouldn't hesitate to send back to her. I doubt I'd even need to do anything to make them more palatable."


"Yes, she likes stuff like that," Kai says. "Thank you notes are totally her gig." He sips his tea, sitting rather primly despite himself. That time at home hasn't faded off him yet. He'll have to ease back in to slouching. "You know, I don't think she has ever had Mrs. O'Riley's scones. If ever there were anyone in Midgard who can do scones justice…"

Kai smiles, leaning back. "That's what I need to do. I need to go to Mrs. O'Riley's for scones. Maybe after this. You know, I took the liberty of showing Billy all sorts of Asgardian and Alfheimian delicacies so he can reproduce them for me. Even the cyrstal cheesecake, though I still can't open one. I'd need to study magic."


Having removed the brooch from its wooden containment and holding it up to the ambient light, Strange pauses and looks over at Kai. The brilliant and warmly-hued sapphire continued to catch the lamp-light from on high until the Sorcerer slowly lowers it, giving his guest a rueful wrinkle of nose.

"Billy knows better than to be manipulating reality as such," he says softly. "On a major basis," he further clarifies, " — and the sheer number of repetitions of creation does factor into his decisions, even if he is merely recreating desserts from another realm." Clearly, Dad worries.


Kai pauses upon a sip of tea. Uh oh, has he ratted out his cash cow? Lowering the cup to the saucer, he says, "We certainly wouldn't want to abuse the privilege, of course. He did introduce me to something called 'Doh-ri-tos' though. The kind in the blue bag are the best."

He then leans forward to pat Strange on the knee. "He's a good boy. I'm sure he knows what he's doing. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. It's just for, you know, special occasions."


Pat-pat, the silver-templed man raises an eyebrow at the touch. Not an expression Kai hasn't seen before, but it lacks the imperious and keen edge normally given to those not called 'friend'. This is more exasperated.

"Yes…I am aware of Doritos… Chips. From this…future of ours." He shakes his head lightly even as he returns the brooch to its lustrous wooden box and shuts the lid upon it with a near-silent click. "I don't mind special occassions. I wish, however, that he wouldn't be subjected to the temptation." Another sharper side-glance to the Elf before he walks over to place down the smaller box beside the one holding the diadem. "I expect you to council him in wisdom if you hold out this temptation, Kai. Do I expect too much of you?"


Kai smiles in the face of that exasperation. It's an expression he's well accustomed to, after all. "It's a future to look forward to if it's got those in it," he says. He leans back with his tea, pleased as punch. Doritos in his future, mmm. Yes yes, and gay rights. Very nice.

"I won't use your son for goods from Alfheim," Kai says, inclining his head. "Nor will I encourage him to share the wealth. These things aren't meant for casual mortal consumption anyway. They should be special. I admit, I don't really understand what's at stake, but you're my friend, and the wellbeing of your son is important to me because of that."


"No. You would not understand and I don't expect you to." Strange sighs evne as he brushes fingertips across the glossy surface of the boxes both. He frowns even as he continues, voice dropped softer yet. "I presume you haven't any children, Kai. Don't get me wrong, I don't pretend to have half an idea of how to raise a child. Billy came to me as he is, from…from a future that no longer exists. It may have collapsed…the gods only know. But he is mine. I know this in my heart, beyond that of what any magic could convince me."

His eyes slide to Kai now and linger. "I am Sorcerer Supreme. He is young yet. He thinks himself immortal, but he is not. Drawing attention by subverting the reality around himself for the simplicity of a cheesecake is not worth the risk of said attention. Nothing good takes interest in someone able to manipulate reality around themselves. I say 'nothing good'…good is relative, but…if anything, I have learned that those beyond our world have their ploys and their plans and their godsdamned plots…and I won't have my son being used as a pawn against his will, whether he knows of it or not. Over a cheesecake. Are we clear?"


Kai shakes his head and says, "No, I don't. That would require a little more magic than I've got in me." He purses his lips on an inappropriate joke he doesn't make. Because he's a good friend, Stephen. "I was wondering why you've got a child his age when you're still relatively young, but I just figured my reckoning of human lifespans was off."

He listens, and he nods slowly. "So it's not the alterations, it's the attention," he says. "That makes sense. I hope it needn't be said that I'll stand at your side to protect the boy anytime, anywhere. You can count on me. I won't encourage flagrant use of his abilities. Special occasions only. Real ones."


Stephen takes a moment to rub at one of his lightened temples even as he folds an arm across his body.

"Gods below, Kai, no — I trust you. I don't trust the temptation. I fully expect you to stand in where I cannot and to hold ground until I arrive as I can. Billy's mother and I, we…" He swallows and grits his teeth. "Words will not do justice to the wrath we would bring down on anyone who harmed a hair upon his head. Upon anyone's head in our family — because family? Family we take seriously, unto the end of things." He clicks his tongue and groans behind closed lips. "Pardon, Kai, just…I hope you understand. Willful ignorance is not an excuse for bringing the attention of the extra-dimensional upon this world and upon his head — much less yours, should you be nearby."


Kai holds up a hand peacefully and says, "Your words are wise, and I take them to heart, Stephen. You are a father, and I can't imagine anything scarier than that. He's very confident, your boy. I don't think he thikns about the danger, and I imagine you've spelled it out for him a dozen times." After all, how much heed does he pay his own dad? Except he has reasons! Just like every other youth who knows everything.

"I understand what you're saying. I'll tell him I don't want the Elvish delicacies shared around, and if he won't listen to safety, I'll cite the value of rarity. I won't make light of the situation, I promise."


"I intend to hold you to that," Strange reminds the Elf in gentle steel, his attention lingering upon his guest in the wing-backed chair. "…but thank you. The application of rarity is a logical way to approach the issue. It is not rare if it becomes common and loses its lustre. Demand exceeds supply, eh…" He waves a hand as if to dismiss the entire thought.

"…but you are correct, in a way. Being a father is…utterly terrifying. I thought I had enough to worry about once, with myself. Compound it upon Wanda and yet again with my sons and…gods. I thought I had ulcers before." He laughs, but like as not because what else is there to do in the face of such insurmountable concern? "But they are…worth it, several hundreds of thousands of times over and over yet again. You would know, with your Prince." He nods to the Elf.


Kai takes the steel in stride, with neither smarm nor offense. "I do what I can," he says. "And since he is your son, I'll treat him as though he were my own blood." Which is to say he won't visit him in prison? Anyway, it's the thought that counts.

"I can only imagine having that kind of connection to someone," he says. "A living piece of yourself walking around doing whatever it wants." He shakes his head. "I'd never sleep. But yes, I know what you mean about it being worth it. The last thing I would ever want is the All-Father's notice, but for him? Any day."


"I don't doubt your stance in the least. Any day, any place, any time," says the man as he collects up his cup of tea once more. "In this, we can count ourselves the loyal half. Just…wait. Wait until the day comes that you have offspring. Nope, don't tell me how, I can imagine — and don't test me because I can. No one takes on the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme with a lack of imagination." He moves to take his seat in his own wing-backed chair with a small sound of satisfaction upon settling in.

"You would sleep, though, I can tell you this, because if you didn't? You wouldn't be able to protect them all." He smiles, the thing small and almost private. "…not well, but…you'd sleep."


Kai says mildly, "If my Prince should decide to ply his magic to the improbable, I will indulge his every whim." So there, not never saying never. He knows there's very little in this world he would deny Loki. "I just don't know how I'd get through the small and wriggling phase. They're so tiny and breakable."

He watches Strange over the lip of his teacup. "He's strong," he says. "Never strong enough, I know, but try to get a nap in every once in awhile knowing that he's pretty tough."


"I nap as I can," Strange acknowledges. "How else would I be on my feet and talking with you? I…sometimes wish that I had seen them all young, the boys." He's hesitant to admit it, but doesn't seem to wish to take back his thought once it's left his lips. His smile is something wry and fond all at once. "A blessing and a curse, I think."


"They all look like potatoes until they're old enough to talk and be interesting," Kai says. "I don't think you missed much. I hope if I have any children, they come to me already an adult so I don't have to teach them anything." He shakes his head slowly. "I don't know anything worth passing on to the next generation. Except lockpicking."

He smiles fondly, dimples on his cheeks. "That's one of my favorite memories with my da, you know? I was just a little thing, and he taught me how to pick my first lock. He said I was a natural."


The revelation is enough to make Stephen laugh, previous shade of the conversation all but forgotten. "I can't count myself surprised. Lockpicking. And what next after that, fleecing beings of their relatively-important goods? What, coin bags? Wallets? Jewelry? I'll hazard you were a cherubic-looking little tot until you reached a certain age." He sips at his tea, eyes twinkling in amusement at the idea of being taught all the proper skills of a thief.


"Elvish children are all little angels," Kai says. "We were cutting purses together by the time I was six." He sighs softly. Ah, good memories. "I was usually the distraction, but I snatched one of my own when I wasn't much older than that." He sips his tea, then adds, "Of course mum didn't like it. She was the one teaching me manners and how to charm people. Da was always the practical one."


"Practical," and Strange snorts. "Yes, practical…in his way, I suppose. But your mother had it right. Manners and charm get you places where practicality cannot from time to time… If I bullied my way about the universe with my powers alone, I would not stand as I am as Sorcerer Supreme. Eh, I'm talking to the choir — you're Alfheimian. I saw your parents both. Manners and charm, well…let's say you get more places yet and I can confirm this."


"We were strangers in London," Kai says, "too foreign to fit in, too proud to earn a mortal living. They both had a point. My da, though. He could charm your socks off and before you realized they were gone, he'd have your shoes pinched, too. We had some good times together."

Is it any wonder grandother worries about the boy? His influences?

"But I'm not going to end up in prison for a hundred years," Kai says solemnly. "I like working mortal jobs. Hospitality. It suits me. Loki doesn't understand, but I enjoy feeding people." He waves a hand, then, "Stephen, you are so charming, if you had nothing else, you could still have the world in your palm."


"Eh," and the Sorcerer waves a hand, his fingertips twinkling through the air idly. Nothing comes of it — maybe just a Mystical hiccup briefly. "I doubt I could accomplish that on my charm alone. It was hard-earned. I know now better than to rely on it alone, though as if I ever did. It is…a skill, much like the martial arts. It can be used handily or without grace, and either way, it has its affects in society. Hard work gains you the most of this world — putting your nose to the grind stone. Tenacity."

He sips his tea. "Still, you, jail? No. I can't see that. Not easily, by any means. Perhaps one day, the Prince might realize that there is something to be gained by putting your skills in use to aid other than yourself alone. A sense of pride…and honor, in a way."


"Your charm has made you allies," Kai says, "and those can be powerful. Do you know, I've maybe seen you do magic a handful of times? When you Gate, mostly. I just take it as a given you have power, but mostly that's because you carry yourself like someone powerful. Are you as powerful as you say?" He shrugs. "I believe it. Because you sell it."

He's quick to add, "That's no bad thing. The best fight is the one you don't have to get in, in the first place." He smiles fondly as his thoughts return to his Prince. "My love is too smart by far, and ambitious. He does not know how to suffer fools, and there are so many. I think though that, at heart, he does care."


"I agree. He cares…in his way. I'm not entirely sure that I agree with his expression of this sentiment sometimes, but nothing is on fire." He pauses. "…that I am aware of." There's the sense of his attention going distant, especially in how his eyes look off and beyond the walls of the Sanctum. A sharp sniff and he comes back with a few quick blinks. "Nothing pressing at this time," he confirms.

He moves to rest one ankle upon his knee and finishes off the rest of his dark tea. "Are you aware that the majority of the Arts comes into being through confidence? Some might call me a hubris-laden bastard. I call it confidence. Pride and knowledge of my own abiltiies. I am powerful because I am powerful." While it has the inclination of a koan, it also has the ring of truth. "Believe it and it just might be." His is a small, almost coy smile now.


Kai looks so damned infatuated. The Prince has his very own Elf, heart and soul. Smitten. "I shall make it my life's work to show him the benefits of kindness and compassion," he says. "And hope beyond hope that it softens his sharp edges." He sips his tea, then adds, "But not too much."

He nods then. "It makes a certain sort of sense. You're working your will, and so your will must be strong. If you can't believe in yourself, how can you convince the universe to go along with it? I've toyed with learning magic, but it's an awful lot of work. Aside from my Avenging, I'm an Elf of leisure."


"The world needs Elves of leisure. After all, who would accompany me to scones and remind me of the impossibility of going off-duty?" He grins to take the sting out of the tease. "If you're ever inclined, there are books at your disposal if you inquire. It is as here as it is in Kamar-Taj: no knowledge is forbidden, only certain practices." The air of a mentor and Master is far too easy to slip into, even sitting in his chair in his civilian garb.


Kai spreads his hands magnanimously. "I'm here for you, my friend. Someone needs to help you relax in those few moments you get the chance. Gods forbid we let you take yourself too seriously too often." He would bow were he not sitting. So gracious, he is. "I wouldn't mind having a book to read. Especially with it getting colder. I'm not out and about as much. Do you have anything on Elvish magic? Just don't let my gran know. She'll try to help."


"You know… It's funny you should mention Lady Lastriel. I've only just sent a missive this afternoon to her about an exchange of information — not necessarily a trade of tomes, but if she had further wisdom about a few cantrips and spells that I've come across lately." He's trying so very hard not to smile, but Kai really did open a can of worms allowing the two powerful practitioners such prolonged and polite conversation. "I offered my own wisdom in turn, should she need it."


Kai's brow furrows. Yes, he's starting to realize he's done did it, now. "I suppose as long as you are corresponding as fellow practitioners," he says, "I can allow this. And I suppose if she should happen to send you a book about simple Elvish cantrips, and I just happen to borrow it, no one need be the wiser." His lips purse, not quite a frown, as he tosses this all around in his brain, how he can reconcile his close friend and his grandmother being acquaintances.


"I haven't misplaced a book yet, but…you never know. Perhaps it's lying about the next you visit and I hand it off and a few hours are spent flipping through it and indeed, none are the wiser for it," he says almost airily, still attempting not to smile and failing. The coy curl of lips shows, breaking the carefully-groomed line of his goatee.

"Don't think you could stop me from speaking with her anyways, Kai. It is a diplomatic connection that I intend to keep alive and well — and what do you expect me to talk with her about beyond that of my demesne? You? No." Stephen shakes his head slowly and solemnly. "That is not my intent. Your familial drama is your own. I have enough. In spades."


Kai says, all innocence, "You're right, there's nothing I could do to stop you." Which is true, sure enough. But oh, what a pain he can be when he wants to be. A thorn in the side of sorcerers and grandmothers alike. The look on his face however says perish the thought. He stands corrected.

"I never thought about you two talking about me," he admits. He wrinkles his nose. Now that's an unsettling thought."No, please. Though my family drama isn't so bad. My parents are home, I'm happy, gran remains a dragon creature with no heart. We're all doing grand."


Strange chuckles softly. "Ah, no wonder she and I get along then. I've got a soft spot for dragon creatures." Okay, no more nettling the Elf, fun as it may be. "I seriously have no inclination to talk about you to her. Would she to ask after you, I would reply that you are present and alive to answer for yourself. Your family concerns are your own," he repeats with gentle insistence. "I'm middle-man enough as is between the worlds and I won't have more of it if I can manage."


Kai's lips purse again. It's sweet revenge watching him make that face for once. With a sigh, he says, "She will probably ask after me for politeness' sake. Because it's done, not because she expects you to keep tabs on me. Bad news travels faster than chit chat. She would know if there was something wrong. Asgard will be her weather vane in that regard." Because if something were to happen to Kai, no doubt Loki would have an unsubtle response. And she thiks Kai doesn't pay attention to the way her mind works.

"Just tell her I'm fine, and politeness will be satisfied," he says. He sits up and sets his now-empty teacup aside. "I should be getting home," he says. "I'll have to put Mrs. O'Riley's off for another day. It was good to see you again."


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