1964-02-03 - Valentine's Devisings and Viking Vices
Summary: The Sorcerer Supreme picks the prior Sorcerer Supreme's brain for ideas. A Varg joins in. Snark ensues.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
skali merlin strange 

With the closing of the front doors behind him and the sound of the wards clicking locks into place, the Sorcerer Supreme leaves his abode for the chill of the growing dark. Glancing around, the basic sweep of the neighborhood brings him to the conclusion that, for once, all is settled to his general satisfaction. His sigh fogs in the wane light of the sunset and he glances over at the friend by his side, no one other than the past Sorcerer Supreme.

"I appreciate you coming along, Merlin," he says quietly, leading the way down the steps and to the sidewalk; the path is emptying quickly of folks returning to their homes from work and errands. With hands in pockets, he sets the direction as eventually the little tea shop owned by old Mrs. O'Riley and the pace to leisurely. The brushing of wind is brisk and invigorates after the lazy warmth of the Sanctum. "It's good to get out and get some air. Inasmuch as I appreciate the mansion, it gets stuffy." A few more steps and it seems like he's chewing on something, not quite able to say it just yet, but, eventually, the murmur should reach the old Wizard:

"I was hoping you might have some clever ideas for Valentine's Day. It's coming up and Wanda deserves a proper…showing. No, not showing, er…proper…holiday."


Dressed warmly in his usual attire, Merlin putters beside the current Sorcerer Supreme, his staff making a dull 'thud' each time it lands upon the ground. Adjusting the sword and its sheath attached to the belt around his robes, he nods to Strange.

"Aye. We were not made to spend the entirety of our days locked inside, four walls constantly the elements on our behalf." He grunts softly. "No. We belong as much to nature as it does to us. We are meant to have some of our days out where the breeze is fresh and the skies may grant us an ever cleansing rain, to bring us into a new day."

He chuckles softly to himself. "And as often as I have spent in castles and estates large and medium, I oft find myself most at home in a humble cottage in the woods. A single room for all my amenities. My bed, my stove, a little sitting area, a small fireplace. 'Tis all I truly need." He speaks softly, wistfully, as if remembering a place long ago.

"Ah, yes. The day of remembrance for Sancti Valentinius." Merlin opts for saying his name in Latin. "Born just a few short centuries before I, if my memory serves." Tilting his head slightly, he smiles. "Having difficulty trying to decide what to give her? What would be an acceptable showing of your love, without making it seem too meretricious while simultaneously not appearing to be profligate? Am I assuming that is where you wish for my assistance? Attempting to give such a gift, and figuring how best to present it to her on the day?"


"Yes, not meretricious or profligate or chintzy or anything that makes either of us out to be a sybarite." Strange gives the old Wizard a small smile before gathering his thoughts. "I don't think she's 'impossible to shop for', as the saying goes, but…" His admission is interrupted by a huff of a laugh and a helpless shrug to bring broad shoulders to ears and back down. "I would like to find something beyond a simple bouquet of red roses or chocolates. I'm not even certain if she likes chocolate, now that I consider it." This is a rare sight, the Sorcerer Supreme hesitant in the knowledge of his Consort. "Honey, yes, fruit…oranges. She could eat oranges until she bursts at the seams."

Observing his toes as he walks, the Sorcerer tries to avoid a crooked grin of affection, but doesn't succeed. "I wonder…I wonder if a destination rather than gifts would be best. I've never shown her the farm I grew up on. Talk about fresh air and rain and that's what I think of first. Yes, I know, I don't seem the farm type, but I assure you, I can bale hay with the best of them…though I might be a bit rusty. Never needed hay bales for neurosurgery."


The door three row houses down from the magical being's trajectory to dinner opened, and out slipped a dark haired lass. Her thighs were slobber stained, her hands a bit tinged by dirt, the wool of her jacket covered with little strands of hair. Yet despite these things, Skali claimed the sidewalk with her usual airs of dignity, chin lifting as she drew in the scents of the night air with a small smile and found herself regarding two unlikely figures approaching.

For a moment, her figure sways with indecision, then her head tilts to catch the edges of their conversation and she casually glides into step behind them without introduction other than,

"Nothing says romance like the smell of horse shit."


With a small nod of understanding, Merlin ponders the question. "Consider the gifts she endeavoured to give you for Christmas." He says after a moment. "They were more than just baubles which could be found at a store, regardless of cost. They were gifts with stories, histories belonging to them."

He smiles a little. "A farmer's boy, hmm? Well, neurosurgery and farming have more in common, I think, than many might realize. For instance, they both deal with the care and upkeep of a person. And one's brain does not work properly without proper nourishment, which pertains to its upkeep. A neurosurgeon maintains said upkeep in those time when said brain's person is incapable of taking care of it themselves."

When the voice from behind them chimes in to the conversation, he raises a finger, though doesn't look back just yet. "Horse 'shit', as you call it, can be quite romantic. It can be used in one's gardens for strengthening the plants therein. Likewise, on the hunt, it can cover one's scent from predators and prey alike. And few things are as romantic and strengthening of a bond than hunting together. Or…" He pauses briefly. "That used to be the case."


Nodding to himself, the good Doctor travels along, his eyes downcast to the pavement as he listens to Merlin. Thus, he misses out on noting the presence of the Varg-in-human-guise entirely, yet another strike for his generally sharp mindset this evening. He's got a point, Wanda's presents were an adventure as well as a gift, a delightful bundle of physical objects and memories alike; the latter would last beyond some of the presents themselves and be far easier to access. Hmm. How to treat one who knows how to treat…?

He has his mouth open to opine in regards to the parallels between agricultural husbandry and the art of realigning delicate nerves when the familiar voice slices cleanly into the conversation like a honed halberd. Merlin takes over the initial retort and it leaves Strange to pause and glance back at the fur-covered young woman. At least, bits and strands here and there rather than an entire fur coat soaked in dried ichor — much more socially-acceptable. His lips curve to the tart words from the old Wizard, all truth, and adds with his own cheeky note, "Lady Skali, who else. I can see you rolling in it. It's a single note in the perfume though, you'd need other things. Dead animals. Pond muck. What else did old Atticus roll in…oh yes, chicken shit." Steel-blue eyes crinkle at the corners. "I don't think my mate would approve if I came home smelling of that."


Skali snorts out a laugh of derision, tossing back her hair as she rolled her eyes to the sky. Winged bodies sent guttering shadows as dark wings crossed over their heads and interrupted the street lamps warm glow. Whatever they were, they disappeared into the darkness and rooftops though the woman's attentions lingered heaven-bound a bit longer as she spoke,

"Ah yes, gardening. Nothing says love like plunging your fingertips into manure slick dirt in February. Great idea, Merlin."

The teasing tone was turned towards Strange as he interjected, rolling back her shoulders with no abatement of her confident pluck and step.

"I didn't realize we were planning on spending Valentines Day together, gentlemen. A hunt, a fuck and a good coating of filth? Please, you make me swoon!"


"Obviously you've never spent a winter in Northumbria, my dear wolfish one!" Merlin quirks an eyebrow as he turns around. "Nothing in Northumbria says 'romance' more than becoming filthy in manured dirt in mid-February. 'Tis a romantic venture unmatched by even the love-struck standards of your kind." He chuckles.

"'A hunt, a fuck and a good coating of filth?' We've not been reading Old Merlin's old diaries, have we? I could swear I wrote something akin to that about a thousand years ago, give or take a century." There's a pauses as he considers this. "Or was it 'A hunt, a fuck and a good coating on the umiak?"


Raven-black eyebrows nearly disappear into his hairline in a flash of honest surprise, though it's quickly replaced by muted mirth that has Strange rolling his lips to keep it all inside. No. No, he will not laugh at the forgetful Wizard. It's rude. Even if it's terribly funny as hell.

"I am not coming back to Wanda after some hunt smelling of horse shit, much less indulging in anything else." The Varg is given an arch look softened still by that suppressed laughter. "This is Valentine's Day, not some Wild Hunt — though don't get me wrong, it might as well be some Wild Hunt when the stars align just right and you're in the right place at the right — " He shuts his mouth. "Never mind that."

Sighing, he gives Skali the keen once-over so well-known to the Sorcerer Supreme and nods to himself. "No dried blood. You're making progress. Still, you're covered in hair. Shed much?"


The fall of her boot heels matched the stride of the two men, trotting along with a toss of her dark curls and a laugh,

"I like you."

The proclamation was full of teeth, and she nudged Merlin with a hip, a kindred spirit in the Magician that welcomed her presence in an unexpected way. A head cants towards the commentary from Strange and she rolls her eyes with a groan,

"Romance isn't exactly something we dwell upon, especially entire days committed solely to such a wallowing. Why not live every day for the one you are bonded with?"

The wolf trailed off with a low growl that was more animal than human, obviously confused by the concept behind such a transitory show of affection, much less one with such significance.


Casting a side-long glance at Strange and giving him a quick wink, Merlin chuckles. "No, no. You'd take her on the hunt with you, of course! Oh, what a glorious hunt it'd be, let me assure. I'd set up all the details. I could even," he waves his free hand back and forth, wiggling his fingers, "transform you two into glorious predators, keen for the hunt!" He smiles widely.

He grins toward Skali. "I assure you, the feeling is mutual, Great Wolfish One."

He lets out a small sigh. "We humans have a tendency to wallow, 'tis true." He murmurs. "However, when we have bonded, truly bonded, with one we care for, even days of wallowing cannot fully extinguish our true feelings. The ways of the wolves are much more direct, I'll give you that."


"Sometimes I'm not sure if I like either of you," Strange mutters to himself, though it's a blunt-edged jest. Helpful? In weird, back-handed ways, yes, both of them. Appropriate for modern society, these ideas tossed around? Not exactly.

"Thank you, Merlin, but I have no idea if such a thing would appeal to Wanda and frankly, I'm not sure I want to pursue that. It doesn't appeal to me like it might others. I have little interest in ending life." Doctorate of medicine, after all, with the mantra as follows: first, do no harm. Regardless, his statement rings true. "Valentine's Day isn't an end-all though, Lady Skali. Merely a helpful aid to those who have slid on the wayside in expressing their affections. I certainly don't feel that Wanda suffers any lack." Maybe that's a surprising statement to hear from him, considering the reserve both show in public around one another. "We're bonded and it's a holiday. Why not celebrate it? I was considering a destination, but…" And he shrugs in quiet uncertainty.


"Humans also seem to lack an appreciation for anything fun."

The Asgardian sniffed dismissively, running a tongue over her lips as she let the two men opine on love and the expression of such. Favoring quiet for a moment, she looked up at the power lines over their heads as they paused on a street corner and the sight of bodies perching there returned a smile to her features. Skali rolled back her shoulders with a faint cracking of her vertebrae and an appreciative sigh for the relaxation of tension there.

"Overly complicated. Give her what you may fail to give often, the thing that will cost you the most. Your time and attention, perhaps? Certainly the world can run itself for a day."

The thought was surprisingly bereft of a mocking edge, something wistful and perhaps a tad wanting instead in the notion. Clearing her throat, she seemed to shake away whatever sentiment threatened to break her arrogant removal from their struggles and added,

"Although you wouldn't have to kill anything. You could also just play with it for a bit and listen to it scream. That's quite fun."


"As you wish, Mister Doctor Strange." Merlin bows ever so slightly. No turning people into mighty predators. Apparently that's frowned upon by some people. He'll keep note of that.

"That's not fair! I appreciate lots of fun. If I didn't, I wouldn't have been welcomed by that pack. A story I realize I've yet to tell you, Skali. But I shall in time, I promise! 'Tis quite the tale!" He does sigh, however. "I don't think our dear Sorcerer Supreme has much of…well, let's say an 'appetite' for that kind of playing either. However, if you'd care for that fun, I know this marvelous place to go." There's a glance at Strange. "Don't worry, it's not on Earth. It's a realm made up almost exclusively of predators." As if that should make things better.

"Besides, there's a point to be had by just spending time with Miss Wanda. I can certainly take upon myself your duties for a single day." He offers to the present Sorcerer Supreme. "Although, I might have an idea for a gift as well…"


A glance following the direction of the Varg's eyes proves to note birds on a wire — large black birds, not crows…but ravens. Hmph. The things a predatory Asgardian draws. The Sorcerer squints at the avian entourage, ever suspicious, but when he can't immediately note anything beyond their presence, he decides it must be akin to how they follow wolves. After all, who knows when a kill might occur and the scavengers might pick the spoils from the bones.

Still, the Varg has a point. To give her a day in his presence without the weight of the mantle…that is singular. "Hmm. That's not a half-baked idea, Lady Skali." What? A compliment of sorts? Nah, totally misheard. Side comment. Nothing to celebrate.

Then she has to go and ruin it with screaming victims and yes, Merlin is right, Strange has no appetite for suffering, and both of the beings accompanying him are granted an eyeroll and sigh that ghosts white in the cool air.

"Yes, please, no screaming, shrieking creatures. Merlin, tell me your idea has no screaming, shrieking creatures."


Glancing up, as the others do, Merlin lets out a gruff little laugh. "Look at the hrafn! Or hrafnar. I mean ravens." He shakes his head. That's what happens when you speak a bunch of different languages fluently. "Greetings, ravens. Your presence honours us!" He gives them a deep bow, while continuing to look up at them.

Once upright again, he turns his attention to the younger sorcerer. "No, my idea does not involve screaming. Although…" He raises an eyebrow, but then shakes his head at whatever thought had crossed his mind. "No. That would be a terrible idea." Scratching his nose, he says, "My thought is for a pair of…something. Jewelry of some sort. Two rings, two bracelets, or some such. Once properly enchanted and worn, the two of you shall know sense the other's wellbeing wherever you are, over the realms. And should one of you be in danger, the bracelets shall call to each other. They shan't be able to open portals, but it may be possible to imbue them with a charm to permit the two of you to know the other's general location while wearing them."


Beaded red eyes peer down at the two magic users as they are hailed, the birds tucking their wings a bit tighter before beginning to preen. There's something odd about the creatures, not only in their willingness to travel on the wolf's heels at night, but their size, their coloration, the odd sheen to their feathers when the light hit them just so. All the same, the conversation turned away from the pair of brothers, and Skali's jawline relaxed as the men distracted.

"You aren't able to do that without an enchanted object?"

She came back to their conversation with a lift of her eyebrows, a note of surprise in her voice as she shook her head bewildered.

"How lonely, even when pair bonded. That is a necessity. If you don't have that already, the Merlin's gift would be invaluable."


The birds preen and so does the Sorcerer Supreme. No apology will be offered for the smug edge to the smile he gives both them, paused beneath a streetlight as they are.

"I've covered that particular gift already and then some." He'll leave it at that. No need for details. If they're curious, they can inquire further and he might divulge details. "Still…the idea of a vacation isn't half-bad. I might consider that." He glances back up at the birds, unable to shake the feeling of being watched, but does brush it off as general hypersensitivity on his part. "Maybe chocolate…" The murmur is somewhat distracted in nature He comes back to himself with a blink and that confident flash of a grin. "You couldn't say no to chocolate, could you, Lady Skali?"

Oh man. He just asked that.


Every now and then, Merlin's gaze takes him back up to the ravens. There's something slightly off about them, certainly. "Skali…Skali…" He reaches out a hand to pat her on the shoulder. "Perhaps you know of this better than I…didn't Odin Allfather once have a pair of ravens named Huginn and Muninn?" He asks casually. "These ravens just made me think of that. I always found it curious that 'Huginn' means 'thought' and 'Muninn' means 'memory'…though sometimes it means 'mind'. Depending on the context. Isn't language fun?!" He beams at both Skali and Strange.

"Oh! I love chocolate. That reminds me of a special batch of chocolates I made quite some time ago for a couple. They request that the chocolates be filled with a very special potion that…" He clears his throat. "I believe our dear Sorcerer Supreme, in all his greatness, might be too young to hear this story. I apologize for even beginning it."


Something like a laugh echoed over their heads at Merlin's prattling, the dark creatures taking to the heavens and wheeling away with an imitation of 'THOUGHT THOUGHT THOUGHT' cawed into the skies they merged with. Skali narrowed her eyes just a bit, something shifting almost accusatory in their departure as she muttered distractedly,

"Yes, funny all the things names can mean."

Though she did not speak to her own, letting out a lowly huff instead as she pulled a cigarette from her jacket pocket and motioned for a needed light from one of the two magic users. Their company had some silver lining.

"I prefer red meat."

She finally offered up, shooting the Doctor a lingering consideration of bemusement laced with a raising of her eyebrow in 'Really?' disbelief that he would ask such a question.

"My preference is for fresh though, free-range, rare. Very rare."

And despite herself, she grinned toothily and giggled just a bit.


His attention drawn by the departure of the ravens, Strange watches them go and narrows his eyes. Should he catch sight of them again, they'll receive scrutiny sufficient of the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Lucky chance they escaped…for now.

A curt laugh greets Skali's response at first. Of course, not chocolate, whatever was he thinking. "Lady Skali, as always, you disturb me." The mocking bow of his head is accompanied by a thin smile. Behave, it seems to warn silently. "But Merlin — finish your story another time. We're in polite company. We wouldn't want to blister ears and ruin delicate natures. And thank you, I haven't been called young in public for a while now. It's an honor." Smirk. So much smirk. "I think Wanda would be suspicious of a potion, however, so not an option. Though, that does give me an idea…" His gaze focuses beyond the old Wizard's shoulder, going distant as he muses wordlessly.


"What unusual ravens those were…I hope I have a chance to meet them again. I like ravens. I once asked a raven what it liked to eat…it was rather rude to me when I asked it that." Merlin frowns at the memory. "But those ravens seemed ever so slightly more amicable." Ever so slightly.

"Ever the wolf in everything but look, aren't we?" He chuckles ever so lightly at Skali's words. "Not that there's judgement." Or much of it anyway. He reaches out his free hand to her and, with a flick, a flame bursts forth from the tip of his thumb. As she lights her cigarette, he continues, "I usually prefer my meat closer to rare. Not fully, but I suppose that's the human in me. I've lived more as human than any animal."

Bowing his head to Strange, Merlin smiles. "You're welcome, I suppose. I must apologize as well. I realize you are fully grown. You are an adult, after all. When you reach my age, you get a bit foolish and start thinking of everyone as younger than they are!" There's a tilt of his head. "What are you thinking of? If you require assistance in retrieving it, I am certainly more than happy to assist."


Skali drags in smoke and lets it exhale in lengthy tendrils, her lungs healing almost as quickly as they were damaged by the filthy habit. Under Strange's admission, she simply preens like the ravens so recently dismissed, her amber eyes twinkling a bit at the edges as she quips,

"Wouldn't have it any other way."

The young woman's attentions shift towards Merlin with a laugh, shaking her head as she jerked the hand bearing a cigarette towards the other man,

"Blame him. I make a much better wolf than a human but SOMEONE did not appreciate my extinction inducing appetites in such a form."


A wave of a hand accents the dismissal of the apology after the Sorcerer comes back to the present, guided by Merlin's query. "When you're as old as you are, it becomes habit. I'll revel in my youth. I'm still putting together ideas for now. Wait, blame me?" His keen gaze flicks to Skali, cigarette and all, and he wrinkles his nose in disgust. Yes, the rare adult male in this decade adverse to the act of smoking. He'd rather inhale incense any day.

The slow head-shake and a wry smile follows. "I prefer to avoid acts of extinction. They're difficult to reverse." He sighs again, glancing up to the night sky. Dark now but for the sneak of the crescent moon from behind the streaks of cloud. "Hmm, getting late. Merlin, we should get back. I don't think the tea shop is open at this point. Mrs. O'Riley prefers to be in bed by 7pm with her book and nightcap." The tilt of his head is back the way they came, down a few blocks, to the Sanctum they both call home.


"The trick to not garnering the attention of the Sorcerer Supreme? Do not eat so many animals as to adversely affect the population. And, of course, don't harm humans. Both help in keeping the Sorcerer Supreme's attention elsewhere." Merlin says to Skali, giving her a wink. "If you'd like to know more, just ask. I know a lot about his position." Because of reasons. And those reasons being that he once held said position.

"Oh, cockatrices and Viking vices! I was really hoping to discuss Mrs. O'Riley's ancestors with her again. I do believe we're getting closer and closer to finding one I knew!" Of course, it would be quite the feat if they did, but he hasn't given up hope!

Bowing slightly to Skali, he says, "If you do desire the hunt once more, I do believe I can assist in finding you an appropriate hunting grounds. One that shall not disrupt Midgard's animal populace. And perhaps it shall be a solution that the Sorcerer Supreme, too, approves of." He smiles at the both of them. "But for now, I suppose I shall read a book on regarding the more ancient gods of this planet." Yay for reading!


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