1963-08-12 - Robin Goodfellow's Gift
Summary: Dr. Strange finds himself in deeper waters when curiosity leads him to the offices of Professor Louis King.
Related: [http://marvel1963mush.wikidot.com/log:1963-08-07-asgard-calling]
Theme Song: None
louis strange 

Friday night on the Columbia University campus would be hopping normally, and to be fair the students that are in attendance are spending time together, a few parties going on, people hanging out on quad, and enjoying the summer evening. It's warm, though it's cooling off a touch, and most of the faculty are gone for the weekend.

Yet in the faculty building, the corner offices in particular, there's a dim light on. The hallways inside, however, are bright and burgeoning with that somewhat sickly halogen glow that is so common in the halls of academia. That hall leads down to the corner offices, to the door that opens to the Archaeology department and within.

It's at the outer office that Mrs. Murtz would normally be seated. She is the one who stands sentinel and vets the visitors for the five professors who do what work they have here. Yet in her absence there is naught to stop another from wandering in, though attention might be drawn towards the single light in the office furthest to the right, the name 'Professor Louis King' stands prominent on the partially open door.

Within is the man himself, settled back in his office chair and looking at a stack of papers in one hand as he casually holds a red pen in the other, making a mark here or there as he goes.


The night is warm. A gentle breeze brings the temperature down and away from 'muggy' and towards 'balmy'. He stands on a balcony on one of the upper floors of the Biobehavioral Sciences, glass of water in hand, and takes a moment to appreciate the simplicity of the moment. Earlier, Strange - rather, /Dr./ Strange - was consulting for a professor and graduate students on their project based in neuropsychology and the process of cognitive growth. It was all rather easy for him, though not so easy to keep his hands from trembling in excited nerves and from nerve damage itself.

He takes another sip of water and sighs as he looks across the pavilion and streets below that separates him from Columbia proper. Students mill about, all enjoying the niceties of the weather and traveling from party to campus party. His lips rise in a pleased smirk as he remembers back to his own partying days. He was quite the attendee and yes, his reputation did precede him. His gaze is roving with no true destination when he realizes that, in an entire floor of the far university building, one light is on. He wonders to himself who that may be. What professor, in his or her right mind, is still grading papers on such a fine cusp to the weekend?

You know the saying: curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. Strange departs from the biobehavioral sciences building (briefly replying to anyone who greets him in passing and leaving thoughtful looks in his wake) and strides with purpose across the pavilion. He gains interested stares from some students, mostly due to his current choice in clothing: black dress pants, dress shoes, a white dress shirt, and a crimson vest lined thinly with gold trim. At his neck, the Eye of Agamotto sits, cleverly disguised as a bolo-tie rather than a necklace. The man wafts 'eccentric' in his wake and cares naught about it. Is he a professor? No, not dressed like that, though he may teach theatre. Regardless, Strange ignores everyone as he enters the main building of the University of Columbia.

It's as he reaches for the handle of one of the secondary sets of inner doors that the bronze-hued placard catches his eye: Department of Archaeology. It isn't but a few floors up and…well now. His memory catches up with him and a flash of speculation crosses his features. As he walks up the stairs, he remembers speaking with a certain man who happened to appear on his Sanctum's threshold and that this man moonlighted here, of all places, as a professor…when in fact, he was much more. He's rolled up his sleeves by the time he reaches the appropriate floor and does slightly regret wearing a long-sleeved shirt. The receptionist has left a long time ago, no doubt to enjoy the weekend, and as Strange enters the area with quiet steps, he feels a bit like he's trespassing.


And indeed, for he is. He can tell that the office is rather lived in, the other professors enjoying it as well. For them inside their offices assuredly there are small mementos, touches of life to tie them to the here and now. Outside on their doors are a few articles cut from a science journal, or some images of themselves or students or perhaps an article from the newspaper. For Louis King, however, there's nothing of the like. His door is barren save for the nameplate, and should Strange sneak up enough to peer inside he'll see that the interior is rather nondescript as well.

"Please, do come in Dr. Strange." The voice lifts, that precise Cambridge accent is heard that speaks entirely of great sweeping manors, a myriad of servants, and a propensity to chuff and tut authoritatively. "I am not too terribly busy that I cannot entertain a visitor."

And as the voice lifts the door creaks open on its own slightly.

Inside is a desk, two chairs, several stacks of papers in an in box and another stack in the out box. On the walls are bookshelves that have collections of archaeology journals from the turn of the century to now, as well as a few textbooks that assuredly come from his class. If Strange is quick on the uptake, however, he might notice a single green tome that simply says, 'Lindisfarne', on the spine.


Strange knows that he shouldn't be surprised, but somehow he is. Perhaps he's most surprised at the fact that, yes, of all of the Archaeology staff, it's Professor Louis King still in his office attempting scholarly pursuits on the edge of what could be a wonderful weekend away from campus. Both of his dark brows rise high as the man addresses him from a door that used to be entirely shut but now hangs open a crack. Now that the wooden barrier has allowed access to the professor's office, Strange begins to feel the seeking tendrils of icy magical power begin to crawl over his bared skin once again. He considers rolling down his sleeves, but the cool contrast in the alien aura is soothing after his ascendance of the stairwells.

"Regardless, I hope that I'm not intruding," Strange replies as he walks down the hall and pushes the door to its full open position. He stops just outside of the threshold of the door, mostly to extend his heightened senses and ferret out any sort of mystical wards. He can sense…something, but just as before, it's a variation on one of his own - like the bass cleft to his alto cleft - and he can't quite put a finger on it. His steel-blue eyes flicker briefly around the contents of the office and it seems all in place. Every item seems at home in the office of one proficient in the study of Archaeology. His gaze glances over the small green tome and far, far back in his mind, he notes the title as it connects to some dusty memory. For now, it is filed away and ignored. "Burning the midnight oil? On a weekend?" he asks, looking for neutral conversational ground.


Without looking up at first from the papers, Louis' lip curls wry as he touches pen to paper for a moment, then once that's done he writes a small note before setting the papers down with a faint rustle. Those green eyes lift to meet Strange's and he murmurs, "What, should I be out celebrating an end to the work week, leaping and cavorting as if it were a time for celebration?"

His nose twitches slightly as he gains his feet and with one hand he gestures to the chair opposite him, "Please, have a seat if you like, do you enjoy brandy?" Whether Strange answers in the affirmative or not, the bottle comes out and has two small shot glasses as well. The glasses clink as he sets them down on the table and fills one or two depending on Strange's answer. Once they're distributed he lifts it towards him, drinks it, then sets the glass down with a click precisely in the spot from which he lifted it.

"After as long as I've lived, Doctor, I prefer to celebrate when there is truly something to celebrate about." He glances towards the window behind him, a dull aluminum fan within its frame is humming as it lightly attempts to cool the room. But then the tall man in the grey suit looks back towards Strange, his lips curving. "I'm more likely to celebrate your arrival and accepting my invitation of a growing acquaintance."


It's been a long time since Strange touched alcohol. Not that he was unfamiliar with it in the least and it had been the most fickle of friends in his past. Most fickle indeed. Still, he accepts the invitation to sit and watches silently as Louis sets down the shot glass of amber liquid across from him. He won't say no to brandy, however, and he doubts that the professor would settle for anything short of high-quality in his choice of liquor. The shot goes down smoothly with the ease of long practice and the good doctor smacks his lips once as his eyes rise to Louis.

"Says the spider to the fly." His goatee quirks up with one corner of his lips. The shot glass rotates slowly between his fingers briefly before he sets it down silently. "I believe I did agree to acquaintances, so I can't disagree with your stance. But still, professor," and he pauses; it's still so odd that the Asgardian god is a simple professor. "Have you lived so long that something as simple as the end to a week of hard labor, especially with this weather, is something to sneer at?" He rests an elbow on the edge of the desk and then his chin on his palm as he considers the failing light of the sun beyond the cheap fan sitting in the windowsill. "Three thousand years…and no appreciation for little enjoyments?"


A low laugh slips from him and he looks to the side. Loki's expression shifts subtly, and he might even see a glimmer in the man's eyes that might signify the otherness of him, the strange otherworldly aspect of this very being's countenance. Yet he looks back to Strange and tells the man levelly, actually confiding some… well version of the truth, for truly who in perceiving events really has such mastery of them. But these words given have sincerity touched to them, and that might come to the fore.

"Dr. Strange, I prefer to embrace a role ever few decades. I take it on, I hold to it, and in many ways I strive not to break 'character' if you will." He gestures with one hand towards the desk and the graded papers, "Louis King is not out at a party because he has not been invited tonight, though he does at times frequent upscale gatherings. Louis King is focusing on his papers for he is without a loved one to hold close tonight. Louis King can be such a terribly dull fellow. But is there not joy in taking a task and performing it well?"

That having been said he gestures to the side, the pen in his hand tossed casually into the inbox. "Since my arrival on Midgard one hundred and…" He pauses and he looks to the side, "Sixteen years ago? I have been a soldier, a driver, a farmer, a sailor, even a smuggler. I strove to maintain… the integrity of my role. Yet as I said before you when we spoke in Greenwich, times are changing."


"They are indeed…" and Strange isn't agreeing idly or politely. His world changed drastically and irrevocably with his ascendance to Sorcerer Supreme. Nothing became impossible. He still spent many a night lying awake, wide eyed, staring into the middle distance of his room and considered the myriad of things he could accomplish. He inhales and settles back into the chair across from Louis with mostly-relaxed lines to his body. His scarred hands reflect his inner psyche somewhat: one lies flat on the desk and the other remains decidedly busy, tracing eldritch symbols casually onto the cloth of the chair's arm. He never completes any spell, but rather ends them before maturation and writes an erasing rune. The process begins anew with the next sigil. Dr. Strange's brain never slows down.

"And what role does this world offer you next?" It's a leading question, of course, and in turn, Strange doesn't think he'll get a straight answer. Regardless of Loki's previous casual derision of the old Norse sagas, the good doctor is convinced by his gut instincts that the Trickster God remains true at heart.


A furrow touches the Asgardian's brow as he looks back down to the tray of drinks and casually lifts the bottle again, refilling the glasses by turning the caramel liquor bottle on its side, allowing it to gurgle its refill then offering the glass back to Strange. "My brother's arrival signaled the end to my extended vacation from responsibility and I most likely will once again be brought to task to further Asgard's goals. What those may be, I am not entirely aware of."

Taking up his own drink, Loki swirls it around and takes a sip before downing this second glass. Oh Asgardians can hold their liquor, but that doesn't mean it has no effect upon them at all. His cheeks are a touch rosier though his manner is as impeccable as ever. "My current agenda is primarily seeing that those I consider mine are seen to in a positive manner, and in turn to address the situation with Muspelheim." There's a pause then he gestures aside, "Beyond that, naught springs immediately to mind."


"I would prefer that the affairs of Asgard remain in the hands of those able to control them. Not that you're unable to do so!" Strange says quickly, sweeping the air before him with a brisk gesture to accent the dismissal of his words.

He quickly changes topics, sincerely embarrassed that his manners slipped so badly. Gods below, this god before him must think he's eternally suspicious by nature. "If you'll humor me, is your brother really as heroic as the sagas describe? Or is he…" Strange pauses, rifling through his memories, before continuing, "a good-natured oaf?" The second filled shot glass sits untouched on the desk before him and his gaze drops to it. The taste of the liquor is heady and as welcoming as a hug from a fond companion. His ever-present competitive nature is surfacing from its buried place beneath mediations and mindful thoughts, drawn forth by the previous shot of brandy that warms him from within. The Asgardian's flushed cheeks aren't lost on him and beneath this streak of rivalry that has roots in both men wielding powerful magics, that little voice tells him that a second shot is a bad idea.

Ego kicks the little voice in the head and Strange mirrors Louis. The shot glass makes a bit louder of a sound this time, a 'klunk' on the desk, and he smacks his lips again. "Wonderful stuff. What year?"


"Armagnac 1959," A cock of his brow is given to Strange and Loki lets a small quirk of a smile manifest if only for a moment at the corner of his mouth. Yet with that he does refill another round for the shot glasses, the liquor sloshing faintly over the lips of them as he gives a nod to Strange's and then lifts his own. "To handling your own shit," He says in that Cambridge accent and smirks as he downs the drink.

The glass clinks again and he says lightly, "Thor?" Louis settles back in his chair now, resting his arms upon the swivel seat's arm rests. He looks up and to the side, "Thor is… unique. He is heroic, yes. He is pig-headed, yes." A hand gestures to the side, as if brushing away the words gently, "An oaf, I have called him such many a time, though he is not as dim as some would have you believe, including him."

Shaking his head, Louis rests his hands upon his chest as he slouches a touch, fingers interlacing. "He is best described as a being of clear purpose, and inevitable pursuit."


The brandy swirls not only in his stomach, but seemingly now into his veins. It's a comforting feeling and Strange hesitates far less this time in joining Louis for yet another shot. "To handling your own shit," he echoes quietly before tossing it back. Three shots in and wow, he's very much coming to realize that he's been stone-cold sober for many a year. The glass itself makes its way back onto the desk, but with a noticeable lack in coordination. It klinkity-klunks and slides a half-inch from Strange's quivering fingers.

Rather than slouch, the good doctor resumes the earlier pose of resting an elbow on the desk's surface and his chin on his hand. The busier of his hands goes back to tracing twitchy sigils in the golden droplets that bead on the shiny surface of the desk, drawing them to and from one another idly as he listens to Louis describing his brother.

"Perhaps bull-headed is the best description?" he asks with a smile half-hidden by his curled fingers.


A small smile, "Oh very much so," Louis rests his hand upon the bottle and seems inclined to leave their shared intoxication at that level, where that warmth is so lovely and the moment seems so heavy with purpose and portent. It's such a small lovely thing to enjoy as the subtle silence drifts.

Only for it to be broken as he smiles faintly and murmurs, "So was it idle curiousity that brought you to my doorstep, good Doctor?" The tall man with the green eyes asks, "A passing momentary fancy? Or are you like so many others of your ilk, so tempted by knowledge that you simply must seek it out at every opportunity?"

A hand lifts to scritch fingertips along the curve of his chin, his beard's stubble rasping faintly. "The way you stood off before, I had figured I would never see you again."


Strange's shoulders rise and fall in a shrug accented by a sigh. He talks behind his fingers as he replies, "You caught me at a bad time. Not only that, but you surprised me. I don't like surprises." His chin slips a bit from its perch on his palm and he has to catch himself on the desk.

A moment of lucidity comes over him and he clears his throat as he settles back in the chair, doing his absolute best to look professional because he needs to be taken quite seriously by this foreign sorcerer. "Don't think to try and fool me by disagreeing when I say that you've got power. I may not be three thousand years old, but I know full well when I'm dealing with trouble. And that's what you are," and he aims a wobbly point at Louis, his brows knitted in a frown. "Trouble. And yes, I'm curious," he admits as his expression flips quickly from consternation to woe. "I'm a doctor. They don't give medical degrees to people who sit around and pick their noses. My god, man, curiosity drives us!" He gestures with a closed fist at the air before them.

Then, as quickly as he began expounding, Strange clams up again. His mouth opens and closes before he relaxes back in the chair, but this time, he wriggles a bit, seeming to dig back into it further. "Trouble," he murmurs again, more to himself, as he seems to realize that he truly is borderline drunk and the consequences of several years of soberness will be quite dire for him on the 'morrow.


"Doctor," Louis looks across the way, and indeed his cheeks are brighter than before, but to be fair… this brandy is no Asgardian ale. "To many people, to many beings, indeed I am trouble." His hand reaches out to the cork and he casually tosses it into the air, then catches it and slaps it into the neck of the bottle, pressing down to tighten it into place. He pushes the bottle over towards Strange as if presenting it to him, but makes no voice to such an offer yet.

Instead he tells the Sorcerer Supreme, "My loyalties are my own and most likely you will never know entirely what thoughts flit through my head. But despite what conflicts we have, I have always and most likely will always stand on the side of Asgard. The goals of Asgard and Midgard currently align, so ultimately any act I take will be on the behalf of our two peoples."

A small gesture to the side is made as if brushing that sentiment away as immaterial. "Failing that, know that currently my presence on Midgard is important to me if only because I am a creature who enjoys his games and right now this game of being Louis King is in my interest. And if you must know one thing of me, is that I ever act against my own interests."

His lip twitches, "And _beyond_ that even, you may also consider that I am a creature that tends not to think in days, or weeks, or even months. But decades and centuries. Any plan I may hold most likely will not reach fruition for some time, especially where you are concerned as I was unaware of your existence save a few days ago."


His hands are now tightly tucked away tightly, out of sight, to hide their obvious trembling and Strange glares silently at the three thousand-year old Asgardian god sitting before him. It takes him more than a few moments to process Louis's words, all of his mental faculties dulled by the embrace of the brandy, and he finally wrinkles his nose.

"Should the plans of Asgard ever cross those of the realms of Earth, be aware that I will assuredly be involved - and it doesn't matter how long they take to bear fruit," he adds as he brings forth one scarred hand to stroke at one side of his goatee. "Rest assured that I will be present."

Maybe the god can discern what Strange is implying, maybe not - they share the same rosied cheeks of the enjoyed liquor. The lamp light glints off of the bottle's glassy surface and Strange regrets taking so many shots now. He can't keep on a solid footing with this man, it seems, and he's considering that retreat may be the most noble of options available to him, even if it's a stumbling intoxicated one. This pricks at his ego, drawn so near to the surface by the brandy, and he mentally vacillates between said retreat and perhaps demonstrating a touch of his powers, if only to make a selfish point.


"Doctor," Louis tilts his head the other way, as if trying to hear what the other man is saying but from a different angle. "Attend, if you will." As he says that he leans forwards against the desktop and places his hands flat upon it. "We are beings of the world and beyond. We are like you, but we are not like you. So for us, we do suffer from injury, we do age albeit slowly… very slowly. Yet what is strong with us, our 'reality' if you will lends all that we do an added weight that is paid respect by existence."

A tilt of his head is given to Strange, "It is why I am but a man at times who enjoys petty things and existing from moment to moment. And yet how I am all that I am and all that has passed. I am Loki Odinson, laughing at fate."

There's a pause as he rests a fingertip upon the table, "I am Raven, tearing ragged chunks from a corpse." His smile is a touch edged as he continues to move that fingertip, and he might see hints of… what this man, this being is before him. "I am Anansi, with web cast wide."

As he speaks a faint glow comes from the small shape that he draws upon the desktop, and should Strange look him in the eyes he will see not just the smiling trickster god. He will see those other faces at times, a hint of feathers, darkened black skin, and as he speaks the last he'll see an almost elvish face with such a smile and pointed teeth that it triggers that old instinct of mankind, the whisper in the back of one's mind to run, to seek cover in the circle of light in the campfire that ancient man huddled around… for the night is dark. "I am Robin Goodfellow, charged by you mortals be."

As that last is uttered, the small rune glows, almost like a W with a line through the middle. "Names indeed have power as you well know, and ideas all the moreso. Focus upon this one, Doctor it should not be hard for it will bring you with it along the ride."


Oh gods above, below, and in-between. Strange's mouth drops slightly as he watches the man's face morph through its phases. He's looked into many dimensions before, stared at many a deity's features, but still - the electrifying reminder that an honest deity, one wearing many a mask, shocks him to his core like the first time. It's visceral, his reaction of straightening in the chair across from Louis, the beginnings of the basest decision to fight, freeze, or fly. Even with alcohol weighing down the summoning of his powers and hampering its control, his struggle much akin to an oiled waterbird, he manages a counter-aura of defensive magic around his person.

His gaze flickers to the sigil etched in eldritch ink on the desk across from him. He doesn't recognize it in the least and his lips thin as he glances back up at Louis. "What hook would you set in me, professor?"


A small twitch is seen even as the magic slips away from him, leaving Louis as once again merely the Professor. Yet that rune maintains its steady glow and seems to give that faint mystical hum that only they can hear for now. One hand lifts as he gestures to the side, as if presenting it to him like some gift or prize upon some television game show.

"It is one of the first steps all young Asgardian mages take, to conjure this to mind, to be able to quieten the mind, to focus upon oneself and then in turn the world around them. It would aid you now, and may well aid you in the future if you are capable of retaining it in your mind's eye. There is no trick here, Doctor."

But then he inclines an eyebrow, "Look on it if you wish. Or do not. It makes no never mind to me." There's a pause as he watches Strange's expressions and he says, "Shall I dismiss it?" His hand hovers as if about to do that very thing.


"No," he blurts out and then bites at his lip in a moment of intoxicated indecision. It isn't smart, not in the least, to accept a gift from this man, this masked professor, this…Trickster God. Slowly, hesitantly and with trembling precision, he lowers his defensive magics and dismisses them. They're sluggish to dispel and linger around his persona, especially about the diadem at his neck, the Eye of Agamotto.

Strange's eyes finally drop to the mystical rune that glows with lambent golden light against the dark wood of the desk. It sings quietly in his ears, a soft low tune that beckons him and plays counter-music to his own innate magics. The harmonies of the two magics are…beautiful in the oddest of ways, unable to be ignored though it causes some subtle dischord. It isn't too difficult to picture Louis's fingertip tracing the runic mark against the blackness of his closed lids and he finds that the sigil now glows with increasing brightness. It creates an odd pressure throughout his head, like the resistance of a joint near to popping, and then, with a snap -

He finds himself surprisingly lucid. The sluggishness of the brandy is shoved far back, far enough to ignore, and he blinks down at his hands, no longer trembling. Then he realizes that he has accepted a gift from the Trickster God.

Bile rises in the back of his throat, but in his clear-headed state, he knows better than to show panic. He merely swallows and offers Louis a calm smile. "I appreciate your thoughtfulness, Professor King. Perhaps I'll be able to return the favor one day." With that, he rises from the chair. Normally, he would offer the professor a hand-shake or perhaps clap him on the shoulder, but nope - not tonight. Strange needs to get home and consider the consequences of his actions. Read as: find a way out of this mess. "If you'll excuse me, it's late and you need to finish your dull grading, no doubt." His smile tightens and he offers a brief nod before excusing himself from the room. He can feel the Asgardian god's eyes boring into the space between his shoulder-blades as he walks down the hallway. When he reaches the main entrance to the hall of offices, he immediately calls open a rift to the Sanctum. Just a quick step, a firm closure of the tunnel, and he's safe. Or is he?


The words that follow after Strange are light and gently given, "Of course, Doctor Strange." Loki's smile is there though hidden behind folded hands before him, his elbows resting upon the tabletop. "Until next time."


(Per participant's request and on a most random side-note:)

Strange thinks hitting people with dead fish is fabulous comic relief though.


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