1963-10-28 - Discarded Donuts and Terse Tea-time
Summary: Prince Loki takes some time, between a walk and tea, to ascertain whether or not Dr. Strange actually has a plan for closing the Hellmouth.
Related: The Hellmouth arc
Theme Song: None
strange louis 

The wards were always interrupting. Always. No matter what their master was up to, they ferreted him out and delivered their message.

Asgardian prince, they report in silvery swirls of communication. Patient. Ice. Strange sighs and begins to make his way down to the front doors. Exiting the Loft, he makes his way down the hall and then down the Grand Staircase with audible clumps of rapid steps. He buttons the cuffs of his white dress-shirt and fixes the collar even as he crosses the foyer. With a final clearing of his throat and self-centering inhale, he then opens the door and looks out at his visitor. Dapper, as always, the youngest Prince of Asgard, and it's been some time since they've spoken.

"Prince Loki," the Sorcerer Supreme greets him along with a nod. "What brings you to my doorstep?"


"Donuts!" The prince holds up a rather plain looking white styrofoam box that looks like it could contain a dozen or so of the terrible items in that container that most likely will take a few hundred years to degrade in the ground once it's tossed away. But to an immortal, who cares about such things! Instead he seems entirely pleased at his bounty even as he advances up the stoop towards the Sorcerer Supreme, assuredly trusting the man will allow such an approach.

It's once he's near enough that he offers the box to the man to find a good home and he pauses at the entry way to cock an eyebrow and catch a glimpse around the surroundings. He looks back askance towards the fellow, offering him a greeting with a nod of his head as they perhaps share a moment of mutual goatee appreciation. Then he gestures inside. "I would have words, Sorcerer. Be a good host and invite me in. I promise I won't abuse such hospitality nor turn to mist and float outside your window any time soon."


"Donuts," the Sorcerer repeats with a faint note of amusement in his voice. He remains standing in the door and looks from white box to Asgardian royalty. He reaches up to his neck and scratches at it as he visually considers how to respond to this gesture of misplaced kindness. One might notice the faint scarring, testament to his survival from a brush with one of Dracul's Brides, and then…a darker weal a bit farther down, half-concealed by his collar.

"I thank you, your highness, but my stomach doesn't do well with standard food, much less…junk food. Allow me to get my coat and we can talk over tea."

And the door is shut, not rudely, but obviously against intrusion.

Strange emerges mere seconds later, buttoning up a black Belstaff. Around his neck now, a crimson scarf lined with sigils in gold and bronze - clearly the Cloak in disguise. "Bring the donuts with us. The place is run by an old couple, the O'Riley's. They might exchange tea for donuts." He shuts the door to the Sanctum and it locks by itself audibly.


A crinkle of his nose is given as Louis turns back towards Strange. Oh he looks just like a rather dapper fellow in his grey suit and easy manner, but the sorcerer is wise to perhaps preclude such affectionate pseudo social gestures. Yet he holds up a finger as if tutting Strange before he turns and starts down the steps a few. "Miserable day, wear something hefty. The drizzle refuses to start. I have an inkling my brother might be grumpy as this has the feel of a mispleased Thunderer."

He reaches the bottom of the steps, "If you do not mind some small touch of glamour, I would obscure our conversation from those nearby. For I plan to speak openly about your role, the realm, and what has befallen the both of you. I am afraid you are in for a most stern talking to, good Doctor." His words are light and wryly given, and that sentiment is reinforced by his smile.


"Glamour away," the good Doctor replies as he too reaches the bottom of the steps and falls into stride beside his visitor. "We can talk and walk. It's about two blocks down." There's a lightness to his words as well, a sense of relaxation that perhaps the Asgardian Prince has not seen from him before. It's as if the weight of the world is no longer on his shoulders.

"I'm not terribly surprised that you've shown up. I spoke with your brother not too long ago. He seems well," Strange adds as he walks beside the man in his grey suit and easy manners.


It's into the trash that the donuts go, discarded, forgotten, ignored for now. Perhaps fate might offer it as a present to some homeless fellow, but assuredly those lovely donuts are ill-fated for now. Dusting off his hands, Louis stuffs his hands into his pockets, the rain not drizzling upon him for some reason as he walks. He glances over his shoulder and says simply, "Done."

Now with their words suitably obscured. "I find it's very brave of you, Dr. Strange. You project this accessibility that is rather open to those you would aid in this realm."

His footsteps are light upon the sidewalk as he casually walks around a member of the crowd who probably hears them talking about the Yankees or the Mets or some such thing. Instead his true words are something else entire. "I trust you met with a young Asgardian known as Liv. I spoke highly of you to her."

He looks up, "It's very brave of you to take this stance of fallibility, accessibility, vulnerability. Most of the Sorcerer Supremes I have known in the past like to project this aura of flawlessness. Since, well, to be fair, the entire office depends on such unassailability. But you have shown great courage taking this alternate approach."


A shame. Mrs. O'Riley just actually might have swapped free tea for those donuts. Still, Strange continues walking on, keeping his thoughts to himself on the wastefulness of the impulsive discarding.

"I've never felt that offering aid went hand-and-hand with vulnerability. It engenders respect, in one way or another. Those who bite the hands that helps them are dealt with in the manner of my office and the respect grows." He shrugs, glancing over at Louis. "I did meet with Liv, yes, and she was supposed to pass on word to you that I have a plan for dealing with the Hellmouth. Did she fail to do so?"


"Oh you know how impatient the divinity may be." Louis continues on, his steps calm and light, almost as if he were about to break into song and a dance with tapping footsteps in puddles and swirling around light posts. But alas, this does not occur. Instead he glances sidelong. "It does beg the question, however, what you have been doing?"

His eyebrow is cocked curiously at Strange, as if such a thing could truly be a mystery. "I mean, you seem a touch worse for the wear. And this 'Hellmouth' seems to be all the worse. Do you require more aid? I could help if needs be, though my methods would perhaps not be as positive an end result as might be desired for the people of this lovely city."

Louis steps to the corner and lightly taps a fingertip at the crosswalk signal, then rounds back upon Strange. "You have sufficient aid, yes? Is there some greater gambit on hand? Seek you to draw the forces into some lovely trap and then bloody their nose sufficiently that they dare not step across your authority?"

He digs into a pocket and produces a cigarette that he lights with a flick of a fingertip, letting it puff away casually in the corner of his mouth as he comments. "Are you distracted with your nightly activities? Come to enjoy the proclivities of what undead might be rushing around in the midnight hour? What is it, Strange? Let me help you, for I grow weary of this nonsense." At the last word his tone drops colder, annoyance finally creeping in.


Strange's slow exhale fogs in the evening air, wreathing away along with the cigarette smoke up into the air above them. His eyes narrow and one can see him straighten slightly, draw back his shoulders, tilt up his chin in the face of sudden frostiness.

"I thought that all of this Hellmouth business was beneath you. After all, it was 'shuffled down the line' to me." Mocking emphasis on that part of the sentence. He arches an eyebrow at Louis before leading the way across the stretch of white crosswalk bars.

"And thank you, but if your help entails more suffering for the people of this city and the continual allowance of Jotuns into my Realm, then I'm perfectly content to keep to my plans. What have you been doing?" Ah, the insouciance. They're about a block away from the tea shop now, it's around the next corner.


"You see, exactly that. Thus is my purview." Loki turns around walking backwards as he speaks so pleasantly with Strange. "This interdimensional silliness, it really is beneath me. I could take it on as a diversion if you liked. But I am responsible for those beings of our own dimension who are residents of shall we say… distant realms." A lift of a hand is given, dismissive. "I mean assuredly they are so distant and diverse as to be rather indiscernible from the creatures of the above and the below planes…"

He lets those words trail off there as he considers something, then he turns back around and continues to walk. "Yet we must observe the forms, correct? Now if you say saw the Jotun setting up camp in Central Park and selling tickets to their skating rink, would you not perhaps feel you have suitable ground to take exception? Now don't be disingenuous, Strange. Admit the difference in severity."

Loki's eyes glimmer with amusement as he adds, "Though I do feel you perhaps may be setting yourself up for difficulties in the future. Oh these extradimensional beings scent blood and smell the whiff of failure and from then on they'll assuredly test you. And then it's nothing but work, work, work."

Hands splay a bit as if he were washing them of the matter, "But ah, that is neither here nor there. By the bye, have you spoken with my other brother, Balder?"


"I'm not afraid to get my hands bloodied." Loki is granted a polite smile edged with teeth. "And an incursion is an incursion, just as breaking and entering nets you jail-time same as armed robbery. Both crimes, both punishable. See it from my perspective, your highness."

His steel-blue eyes never drop from the man's face even as they walk. His hands remain in his pockets as he inhales and continues quietly, "I can't be idle in my title of Sorcerer Supreme. It is a lot of work, I won't disagree with that, but I don't mind. It comes with its rewards." A small smile that disappears as quickly as it showed. "And no, I haven't spoken with your brother. Another brother? Is your father concerned that you aren't fulfilling your duties as Protector of Midgard?"

They've reached the alleyway that divides the little tea shop from next-door laundrymat and Strange pauses to nod at the well-lit windows. Light shines from behind drawn curtains. "This is the place," he adds, glancing back to the Asgardian Prince.


"No, but his lack of communication…" Louis seems about to expand on the thought, he shakes his head for a moment. Then he looks back and smiles wryly, "Oh no, it's really a symbolic position really. I derive no ego from it, Doctor." He seems amused as he stops before the door indicated and allows the Sorcerer to lead the way further.

"I mean for me to lose the title something horrible would have to happen. A continent misplaced perhaps, or a good percentage of the population dying. So fret not, Dr. Strange. You'd have much further to go before I felt I'd have to step in or seek your mantle shift to another."

"So tell me why you'd recommend this place for its tea? Or is it more of a pleasant location?"


The good Doctor is still laughing when he enters the tea shop, Loki trailing behind him.

"Seek my mantle shift to another - that's a good one," he says as he waves to old Mrs. O'Riley sitting in the far corner, working on her crossword puzzle. It'll take a little bit for her to reach them, so Strange turns back to the youngest Prince. "I'll have you know that my mantle shifts over my dead body, so…it's your funeral if it ever comes to that. The Vishanti are jealous of their mantle-bearer, your highness."

He rubs his hand together, trying to get the warmth of the tea shop into his skin. "This is a far more pleasant location than my Sanctum, to answer your question. I have a number of houseguests currently who tend to interrupt my discussions with visitors like you. Not only that, but the wards have been a bit touchy lately. Something to do with the Hellmouth. But - that'll be solved soon enough."

By this time, old Mrs. O'Riley has reached them where they stand by the counter. "Mr. Strange, back so soon. Did the tea go over well?"

"It did, Miss O'Riley," Strange replies with a charming grin. He pulls a large bill from his pocket and hands it to her. "Your best black tea with blackberries and sage, please. Whatever he wants too," and he takes a step back to allow Louis to order what he pleases.


"Oh come now, Doctor." Louis follows in and casually brushes off his sleeves, though no water dared touch them of course. "You pretend as if I'd approach the matter along the lines of accosting you before your home, shaking with fire, vitriol, and rage." He looks around, "The Vishanti are jealous, yet they are also practical. Present them with a better alternative and they leap."

There's a pause, then he tilts his head to the side, "I mean…" It's as if something just occurred to him as he looks curiously at Strange. "You do know you were not their only choice amongst the gifted of Midgard?" He spreads his hands. "Mr. Drumm? Ms. Szardos? The old conjurer with the hat?"

A so happy smile is given to Ms. O'Riley and she assuredly hears none of this in the form it's given Strange. "Even that fellow who runs the Hellfire Club has the bloodline."

Then, to her, "I'll have the same as he, dear lady."


Mrs. O'Riley takes the bill and puts it away into safety (after Strange whispered to her across the counter to 'keep the change') and gets to working on their cups of tea. It'll take her some time, like before, and the good Doctor leads the way to a small table near to the center of the room. It's small, private, sized to unable the speakers to pitch their voices low and comfortably.

"By the pointy hat, I assume you mean Merlin of Camelot. Myrradin. He passed on the mantle, got tired of it." Strange settles into the far chair and begins unbuttoning his coat. "He told me so when he first asked to stay in the Sanctum." Perhaps this is news to Louis. He shrugs out of the coat sleeves and adjusts the scarf around his neck. A glint of bronze from beneath it; the Eye of Agamotto hangs upon his neck.

"The others? Sure, they were observed and found wanting. For now, the mantle is mine. Be careful though, your highness, if you go courting the Vishanti. Agamotto in particular specializes in seeing through to the basest of plans." The light from the tea shop winks citrine from the gem within the necklace. "It would be risky attempting anything untruthfully."


"Pshaw, I find I get most success of operating in a rather honest manner. For truly…" He tilts his head to the side and smiles, "Have I spoken any untruth to you so far?" And to be fair… well… he hasn't.

He settles down at the table, taking a position nicely comfortable with one arm resting upon the tabletop and then finding a tray for the ashing of his cigarette. He looks to the door then back to the good Doctor. "What was your impression of the Lady Liv? She seemed an interesting sort, considering her upbringing and her recent past."


"Since we're being so honest with one another, I'll tell you the truth too: you are a meddler and like a tic that I must perpetually deal with. There," and the good Doctor shrugs, granting him a coolly professional smile. "Now we're all squared away."

He glances over Loki's shoulder to ascertain where Mrs. O'Riley is at - she's actually walking over the tea right now and delivers the steaming cups to each man in turn. "Thank you, Miss O'Riley," Strange says with a grin.

"You're welcome, Mr. Strange. Take your time." She pats him on the shoulder and makes her way steadily back to the corner and her crossword puzzle. He sips at his tea and lets out a humming sigh of contentment. Life…life is good right now, even if the Hellmouth remains open currently and he's sitting across from the most suspicious of all the beings in his life. Oh well. At least he has tea.

"Lady Liv seemed nice enough, very aware of the going-ons in the city. It was refreshing to see that attitude. I got the impression that she knew more than many other Asgardians who live here. But no doubt you're busy with Asgardian…things," he finishes with a lift of his brow. "Still, it was good to meet her. I enjoyed speaking to her."

From there, the two men of power discuss the less heavy things in life until they've finished their teas and gone their respective ways. No doubt Mrs. O'Riley will ask Strange all about the dapper man in grey during his next visit to the tea shop. What will he reply?

"Well, you see, Mrs. O'Riley, it's a rather tricky subject."

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