1964-01-31 - Coffee Talk
Summary: Skali and Merlin meet. They talk, coffee is had. Dogs are present.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
skali merlin 


It was a job, of sorts. The Sorcerer Supreme would be so proud. Admittedly, it wasn't enough of a career to find an apartment or pay for groceries, and the wolf was above stealing. Still, the human form of Skali the god moved easily down the street, a handful of leashes casually looped in the palm of her hand. The quiet of her footsteps was unheard over the panting of five maws, nails clicking against the pavement as an assortment of canid counterparts kept time with her heels. It was early morning, cold enough for the frost to still cling to the ground and their breath to pool as steam.

While she waited for her clients to take their morning routine on a lamp post, she drew out a cigarette bummed from a hopeful suitor at a bar the night before and pressed it between her lips, patting down her pockets for a light.


Being out this early in the morning, for Merlin, means less stares from people wondering why this unusually dressed man is…well, dressed the way he is. Wearing a tall pointed hat, robes, and a sword in a sheath which hangs from a belt around the robes, he carries a staff in one hand. The old sorcerer wanders the streets, though whether he's on a mission to find something is often in question.

As he passes what appears to be a young woman with a pack of dogs and trying to find a light for her cigarette, he clears his throat, holding up a pack of matches that wasn't in his hand a moment ago. "Looking for something like these, I assume?" He raises an eyebrow inquisitively.


The dogs turned before she did, the motion unnaturally coordinated as if all their heads had been mounted on puppet strings. They watched him, tails stilling, legs stiffening as little hackles lit down their spine, their hips shifting to press back upon the tapered jean ankles of their handler as she slowly raised her attentions to the approach of the wizard. When her eyes did rest upon the proffered matches, their color was startling gold, the pupils poised animalistic in the center of the iris.

"Thank you."

A slow blink returned the human cast to her gaze as she plucked the matchbook from his hand with a little whisper of magic associated with her touch, striking up a flame as she dragged in a long draft of tobacco smoke gratefully. The hounds folded into a sit, staring quietly up at the stranger while their handler enjoyed her smoke.


The sorcerer's long white hair and beard sway ever so slightly in a breeze that passes them by. Glancing down at the dogs, frowns. "Yes, I'm a stranger. You needn't be so suspicious of me, however. I mean no harm." He smiles down at them before glancing back up at their walker, just in time to notice her golden eyes.

"Well now. Aren't we a curious one, hmm?" Merlin's own eyes flash gold for a moment while he uses his magical sight to take in more of the person before him. "A curious one indeed." He continues, his eyes returning to normal. "It appears," he says, looking down at the dogs, "that the one walking you isn't completely what she seems. Though I'm sure the lot of you knew that already, hmm?"


With the cigarette smoke clouding her senses, she doesn't bother sampling the air to determine what make and model of supernatural being he may be. New York seemed to be as infested with them as rats, as of late. Instead the smoke coiled around her pretty features, a jacket much too thin for this chill worn open and unflinching to the cold. A small little smile played over her lips as she shrugged and muttered noncommittally,

"What were you expecting?"

The hand unoccupied by a cigarette offered back out his matchbook, but not before dropping to scratch behind the ear of a large, red setter. At the touch, the tension went out of the pack and they surged forward, their leashes dropped to wander and sniff and wriggle as dogs are want to do. Sycophants, all of you, came the note of rebuke from their handler, but there was no malice in the emotion, her humor persistent as cold noses and dirty paws accosted the stranger.

"Just little ol' me."


"'Tis not oft one sees someone other than a human mortal walking such a pack as this." Merlin explains. He shakes his head at the offer of the matchbook back. "You may keep it. I sense you may require it more readily than I." He nods, though his attention is now on the dogs who surround him. "Such a good group!" He lets them take in his scent before petting them each in turn. "You'd all make a mighty pack, I can tell. A mighty, might pack indeed! Much like the mighty wolves, you'd hunt and hunt. You each may even given a wolf pack a challenge."

He can't help but chuckle to himself. "That actually reminds me of a…oh, nevermind." He chuckles again, however. "I am Merlin of Camelot." He introduces himself, both to the dogs as well as to Skali. "'Tis a plasure."


"A single wolf would tear their throats in mere minutes, after hamstringing a few just to play with them. But that's neither here nor there. They are amusing in their own little ways."

The woman's voice cut in smoothly as he gushed over the assorted pets, a scruffy little terrier seizing the opportunity to keep the attentions of the Wizard by balancing on its hind legs and batting at the air in a begging fashion. The scoffing noise from the woman twitched an ear but did not shame him into more dignified behavior. Terriers rarely cared for the opinions of others.


Her head tilted and with a twitch of her hand, the animals around him breathed as one unit, drawing his scent into some collective knowledge that made the woman smile faintly,

"I believe we've met once before but I was not wearing this skin."


"Such as that may be, we needn't have informed them of such a fact. All they require is a happy life with joyful surroundings." Merlin speaks softly as he leans forward, ruffling the fur upon the head of the terrier, and lightly scritching at its chin. "Dogs serve their purpose amongst humans, and that is fine enough."

Standing tall once more, he bows slightly to Skali. "A pleasure, Skali." He tilts his head ever so slightly at the mention of having met before.

His heightened, mystical senses activate once more as he studies more of her being, hoping to get a hint. "Ah, yes! I know where I recognize your essence from, I do believe. You are one of the great wolfish ones of Asgard! Yes! I do remember now." He bows slightly. "And now your mention of a wolf's behaviour makes even more sense."

He scratches his nose slightly. "I was welcomed as a member of a wolf pack once. They were quite the pack, too! I consider it to be one of my proudest moments."


Skali smiles at being recognized, having allowed a bit of Asgardian magic to evidence itself with a rekindling of her eyes, the edges blurring in molten gold. As he spoke, she looked wistfully over the small pack, letting her own hand fall on its own accord to the hackling spine of a wary collie mix who had kept his distance from the stranger. She appreciated his caution even if it was based in fear instead of aloof superiority.

"As well it should be. Their wild cousins are not usually so forgiving with humans nor as welcoming. It must have been duly earned?"

A hanging inquiry for the story as she tapped a bit of ash off the edge of the smoke and looked casually about. It wasn't the neighborhoods for bistros, but the corner store had coffee brewing and a moldering old bench and iron chairs chained to the graffiti ridden wall . Skali led the way with an expectation that she would be followed, and sure enough, the hounds quickly trotted in her wake with leashes dragging, obviously unnecessary observations of the 'law' liberally interpreted. She took a seat and looked expectantly at the magician,

"Buy a girl coffee? I have nowhere to be."


"Oh, don't be so silly." Merlin says to the collie as he pulls a little treat out of his sleeve and throws it in the dog's direction. "I'm no threat!" Okay, that's not entirely true. He could be quite the threat. But he wasn't actually going to hurt any of them. He had no reason to. Besides, he often stayed away from violence if he could avoid it.

He gives Skali a knowing look and taps the side of his nose as if it explains it all. "My life has oft been tied quite closely to nature, and to the beings that live within it." He explains. "My connection to the wolf pack, and becoming one of their kin, was deserved, certainly. As you say, they are not as forgiving to humans, nor as welcoming."

Following the Asgardian and sitting next to her on the bench, he rests his staff next to him and holds out a hand before him. Muttering a few words, a mug of coffee appears in his hand and he offers it to Skali. "A coffee for you, your Wolfness."


Despite her nigh immortality and godlike powers, the sudden appearance of coffee delighted her more than it should have. The knowing smirk altered just slightly with surprise before broadening into a grin. From within the jacket, she drew out a silver flask and topped off the black brew with something that smelled strong before happily settling back to sip at it. The terrier from before trotted over and leaped into her lap, a bit of scrabbling on her jeans drawing rake marks of dirt across the attire. She gave his butt a little help and he settled in happily, as did the other four at their feet.

"Does that come from your close ties to nature too? You have the roast on it quite perfectly. Almost a shame to ruin it with liquor. Almost."

Black coffee, dog fur, whiskey and a cigarette. The Asgardian deity was a very happy pup indeed as her hand moved over the broken coat of the dog in her lap and she regarded Merlin with amusement,

"What brings you so far into this hive of technology, cement and iron then?"


There's amusement in his eyes as he watches the little dog scramble onto the Asgardian's lap. The flask of alcohol and its addition to the coffee gets a raised eyebrow from Merlin, but he remains silent. He's not one to judge. He's added plenty of alcohol to his drinks over the years. "I've over a millenium and a half of brewing drinks without the help of 'modern technology'. I've learned a thing or two about properly brewing tea and coffee, among other beverages." He explains. "Some of which I've had to learn to brew over fire pits. It takes a well practiced hand to know exactly how much wood one needs in the fire for the strength of the heat to brew the perfect drink." He explains. "When you've journeyed as oft as I have, with as many people who enjoy strong drinks to keep them awake as I have, you learn to make the perfect brew." He chuckles softly.

He sighs, looking around the land in which they both currently inhabit. "I came here because I had sensed a great disturbance. A darkness descending upon the land. I felt that my expertise would be useful. As it turned out, it was useful. Since then, I've decided to stay. At least for the time being. I love to live in nature, but there are times when one must give up what one loves in order to best serve the greater good."


Skali listens surprisingly well, as did most of canine-kind, quietly watching him over the edge of the cup even when she lifted it to take a sip. The warmth radiated out of the ceramic into her hands, and though she did not need it to be comfortable, it still brought her some small joys of normalcy returning. As his words turned towards what had brought him here, she scowled a bit and grumbled,

"That's what I keep being told. Don't kill things, Skali. Stay in human form, Skali. Stop getting dog hair on everything, Skali. Get a job, Skali."

Pauses in her dialogue to purse her lips and inquire, "You've met Strange, yes?"


"Don't…don't kill…" Merlin furrows his brow ever so slightly. "To a certain extent, that makes sense. But to tell a wolf not to hunt? 'Tis in your very being to hunt prey! From my vantage point, if you were to hunt animals, that would be perfectly acceptable. And who are they to tell you not to get dog hair on things? You should be permitted to be in wolf form if you desire." He shakes his head, seeming baffled.

"Strange? Mister Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme?" He offers a nod. "Aye. I know him. I am presently living in his Sanctum. I agree with him on most things, I'll admit."

Scratching his nose again. "I do not know his reasoning for imposing these rules. However, if you do not harm humans, I see no reason for you to not be in your wolf form, and neither would there be a reason for you to not hunt."


Skali lets his opinion hang for a moment as she paused in petting the dog in her lap to take another drag, pursing her lips as if mulling something over even as she exhaled slowly.

"Technically they aren't rules. They're suggestions. I did try to eat him. And the young thing that always follows him about. In my defense though, she ran. You never run from a wolf."

She waved her hand in the air as if it were nothing of note before smiling sweetly. This time, her teeth seemed a bit sharper, her eyes carrying more heat than before.

"He is an amusing sort. And he let me use his shower. So for that, I suppose I am grateful."


"Ha! I'm sure he didn't care much for you attempting to eat them." Merlin clears his throat, his facial expression going from amused to serious rather quickly. "I shouldn't find it so amusing. He's been rather kind to me." He takes a deep breath in and lets it out slowly.

"Strange is a city man, through and through. I do not know how much experience he has with nature, and those that live within its bounds." He says softly. "However, as Sorcerer Supreme, 'tis his duty to protect this realm from threats, perceived and credible. If he saw you as a threat, he would…suggest certain precautions. Which is what he has appeared to have done." He explains.

"To deny you part of your nature, however, seems rather cruel to me. Perhaps we may find ways to permit you to continue to hunt, however."


Skali did not seem to share his understanding of the severity of the situation. Gods usually don't grasp mortality quite as firmly as they should, no matter how long they pretend at being human. Her shoulders were tossed in an easy shrug as she sighed and stubbed out the cigarette, having smoked it down to the nub.

"I fear it is not that simple. Would that it could be. My appetites were sized for Asgardian boundaries, and even within those, we are under the rule of Odin. Well, were."

There's a twitch of her lips there, something indulgent like pride flitting across her gaze as she murmured,

"Unlike the wolves here, the Varg have no purpose other than to give birth to chaos. My kin may disagree with me on that point, but they are pets of the court. I never did complete that Obedience course to satisfaction."

It was nigh treasonous what she spoke so freely to a stranger, but perhaps the actions of her grandsire had emboldened her. Regardless, she returned to her coffee and huffed,

"But enough about me, what do you miss of the forests? They so rapidly disappear. It is hard to find anywhere not thrumming with technology, signals, human eyes. Parasitic little vermin."


"Well, Asgardian appetites are often more grand than those of the mortals of Midgard." Merlin agrees, nodding ever so slightly. He chuckles at the mention of an obedience course. "A Vargr completing an Obedience Course. What do they expect of the vargar?" It may be noted that he uses the Norse names, as opposed to the anglicised versions.

"Wait…Skali…Vargr" Concentration is evident all over his face. "You're not related to Skoll, child of Fenrir, are you?" Obviously it's a name he knows, though he doesn't know that Skali and Skoll are one and the same.

"The forests? I miss the hum of nature. I miss the very evident change in seasons. I miss being able to sense the thrum of the earth or feeling the distant thundering hooves of a pack of wild animals. I miss the fresh air and wide variety of creature I could run into on any given day. And…I miss being able to slip back to my abode and have time to myself, should I desire it."


Skali almost chokes on her coffee at his question, or perhaps she had just hit a vein of whiskey floating unmixed on top. She sets down the half-finished cup and flicks her eyes to it expectantly, obviously demanding a refill as he waxes poetic. She does not begrudge him the lyricism in common conversation, smiling faintly as the imagery nudges the slumbering parts of her that hungered for the wild into waking. The flask was pulled at to set the fur beginning to press underneath the human skin back to settling.

"I am Skoll, kin of Fenrir and Hrimhari, my name is Treachery and my bite the death of suns. But Skali will do."

In her lap, the little terrier perked up at whatever thrum of energy speaking her true name had sent through the pack, and she murmured a word of calm to rest their heads once more. No war to fight today, children. Only proper introductions.


"Aha! I had felt that your name was familiar. I know of you through stories. I have heard much of you through the many tales your name has invoked…Skoll." Merlin's pronunciation is rather spot on regarding the names. As if he's fluent in the languages they're spoken in.

Reaching his hand out to the mug, he flicks it slightly and it fills up with more coffee. "There you are, more hot coffee to drink." He smiles gently.

"Canines certainly react to hearing your other name, don't they?" He seems more curious about the reaction, rather than concerned.


Skali balances out the black coffee to whiskey ratio while he speaks before stowing the flask once more. The idle chime of the shop door adjacent to their seating area marks a patron leaving, and a few of the more wary beasts turn their attentions that way though Skali seems unperturbed. An odd sight they likely seem, pointed hat and a pack of dogs talking over coffee on the filthy streets of Hell's Kitchen. Yet perhaps it's their location that saves them from any lingering attention.

"Names have power"

The explanation was offered up half-heartedly, obviously content with keeping those secrets. Before he could press further, she steered the conversation once more,

"So what do you protect this world against at the moment?"


There's certainly a glance to the patron who leaves the shop, though Merlin, too, pays them little mind. He nods, sighing. "'Tis true, I suppose. Names can certainly hold much power. Worry not, I shan't inform the Sorcerer Supreme of yours. Afterall, 'tis your name to give, not mine."

He smiles a little. "Oh, I mostly just protect Midgard from minor annoyances at the moment." He explains. "Sorcerers and sorceresses who wish to claim power over the populace. Magical objects of great destructive power that are harming others. That sort of thing. But then…I've been protecting Midgard from such things for a millenium and a half. It takes much for me to be surprised any more."


Skali laughs at how blase he is about the various threats threatening to tear their reality apart around them, having experienced a similar emotion of exhaustion after a hundred years here. Boredom wasn't the right word for it, nor did she float about possessed by some crushing ennui of purpose. Everything just felt hollow, and when it actually held weight, that weight hit her much harder than it did in her youth in this realm.

"It sounds interesting enough. Strange spoke of similar occupations and then recommended I get a day job until I could be used to such ends. So here I am."

A lazy gesture to the leashes as she seemed to be only weakly amused at the current predicament. At least she had coffee.


"Oh, it certainly has its moments, I suppose, yes. Such as when I thought that ragnarok was finally coming to us. But it turned out I was incorrect." Merlin laughs. "How wrong I was about that! But I've never been so happy to be wrong. Could you imagine having ragnarok come? That wouldn't be fun at all!" He shakes, eyes a little wide.

"I find that people find it useful to have an occupation here. Something to keep them busy." He says as he looks around. "Although, I suppose most people require monetary funds in order to survive. Which makes sense, I suppose. Making one's way in the world today certainly takes everything one's got, it seems."


Skali raises an eyebrow at his musing, sipping the coffee sloooooowly as he speaks of dream when the sky crashes down, her muscles could finally open up to their full potential, the lithe play of sinew and violence while the worlds pulled apart in a churning crescendo of screaming before beautiful, perfect silence. She swallowed the hungry smile that almost traced her lips and instead managed,

"Yes, good that it wasn't that."

It sounded like entirely too much fun, but she kept that opinion to herself while her hand stroked the wiry hide of the sleeping creature in her lap, closing her eyes as she took a particularly long draw so as to swallow the fire in the edges of them at the mention of Ragnarok.

"Yes, it will be a few weeks before I have an apartment, I suppose, but that is the way of things. Unless, of course, a person can conjure up money. Even then, it's my understanding that all magic has a price."


"Magic is a mysterious thing." Merlin murmurs. "Or…rather not so mysterious, I suppose. Much like with anything, the use of it may have its affects. Certainly any sorcerer or sorceress could conjure you up some funds. However, it might be difficult to see what affect that may have in the long run. Tea and coffee? Very little affect. I know from experience." He explains.

"However, I am sure you shall acquire the funds you require for lodging." He offers with a smile. "If there's one thing I know of Asgardians, 'tis that they are resourceful and tend to get what they want." He chuckles lightly.


"Of course." She acknowledges with a smile of knowing tracing her own features. The cup was set down finished once more and the dogs rose before she did, stretching and yawning with wagging tails as they looked keenly up at their handler, sensing her intention before she announced it.

"Thank you for the coffee, Merlin. I enjoyed the conversation as well. It is a pleasant distraction that we should repeat sometime."

The terrier hopped down with a chiming of tags and shook himself off, prancing down the sidewalk a bit. The motion inspired the rest of the pack to begin straying as well, Skali rising to her feet and tilting her head to one side,

"Send Strange my regards and little Lorna as well. I'm sure we will see each other again."


Standing as his conversation companion does as well, Merlin bows ever so slightly. A snap of his fingers has the coffee mug disappearing while his other hand reaches for his staff. "'Twas a pleasure, Skali." He bows once more. "I certainly look forward to future encounters."

"I am sure that they shall…jubilant in receiving your regards." He says with a quirked eyebrow and a sly grin. "Until we next meet!"


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