1964-02-12 - A Strange Deal
Summary: Hilde and Strange end up getting tea when she needs to hide off the street. He offers her a deal to clear her debt to him. Fate shifts.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange brunnhilde 

A rare afternoon of sunshine means that the rays of light filtering into the Sanctum draw reactions from all inside. The Fae kitten, Aralune, takes to sunbathing in sublime feline relaxation, belly-up to absorb all the ambient warmth she can, and as the good Doctor walks by the indolent creature in the living room, he risks rubbing toes on that fluffy belly.

Mrrrr… comes the quiet warning along with one firm thumping slap to the dress shoe, claws retracted. Warning given, chuckle in response.

"You're not as scary as you think you are," the Sorcerer reminds her curtly; the Malk twitches an ear in response and goes back to dozing. His travels take him to the coat closet and then out the front door, clad in black and crimson per his usual habits. The scarf snugs up around his jawline and Strange rolls shoulders to help it settle beneath the winter coat. He's out of Mrs. O'Riley's take on a Himalayan breakfast blend of tea, one close save for some elements he can forgive — after all, only the acolytes at Kamar-Taj know where that one herb grows within the snowy crags of the mountains — and so his path is towards the tea shop, a few blocks out. Not the only one on the street, he nods to passerbys who offer up the silent greeting first. Each sigh ghosts for the chill in the air; it's still February and winter's grasp is unrelenting.

As he walks, he muses to himself, eyes wandering simply for the act of it. Always, even as certain thoughts are attacked from all directions, rotated and sampled and molded by mental hands, he's low-key aware of the Mystical and supernatural pings in the neighborhood. That being said, a familiar one reaches his attentions and causes him to draw up to a slower pace. Mmm, steely blood and poppies. It's been a while. Wherever she might be or approach, eventually, those Sight-brightened eyes finally locate her and a smile slowly curves those lips.


It's the sense of power on the air which probably would draw his eye as Hilde is doing a pretty good job at hiding in her long coat. Not that the Valkyrie in her likes hiding, but she doesn't like being followed, and she swear she has been for the last little while. Just a hunch. Wary, ice eyes flicker behind her one more time before she takes a hard turn around a corner and then spots Strange dead ahead of her. Excellent, someone to help her blend in. Or fight back. Or both, if need be.

So, he will abruptly get his arm taken by her as she slings thin limbs around his upper arm like they were old friends and lovers. "Darling! It is so good to see you. I've been waiting so long. Tea? Yes? Why don't we get tea? That lovely shop you like so much! Come now!" Hilde's voice is a bit too loud now, almost putting on a show for whatever eyes she swears are on her. Surely she's not the one they need, she's with THIS man. She's not that great an actor, but she's doing her best to make a show of it as she half drags him to the tea shop down that side alleyway.


Even as Strange does a quick stutter-step in surprise for the sudden assignment of gentlemanly escort, those dark brows winging high to nearly disappear into his hairline, he realizes that this is a nervous Hilde — despite the taste of iron on the back of his tongue, she's clearly a bit nonplussed and hey, he'll play ball.

"Of course, tea, I'll follow you," he says, pitching his voice for clarity and resounding joy in such a perceived plan. Not too difficult, the man can do stentorian whipcrack command like no one's business and has been known to yell at demons. Hey, it gets their attention, okay? Double-time, quick step, he helps lead the way to the tea shop and opens the door with brisk purpose in mind. A wave from old Mrs. O'Riley follows the jingling of the shop bells and he nods back to her quiet reminder that she'll be with them in a moment, up to her elbows in scone dough. When the old woman's back is turned, Strange disengages his arm from the thin woman's grasp and quickly flicks a scarred hand towards the large window panes. A glamour falls down it like a bucket of soapy water thrown against the glass and anyone who passes by, anyone shy of his level of Mystical power, will see naught by a few couples, one small family, all enjoying tea — no sign of the pair in winter coats, one accented with crimson and the other decidedly pale.

"Care to explain, Deathscort?" The nickname is tossed out to soften the tension even as the Sorcerer turns back to face Hilde, hands stuffed away into pockets and a keen narrowing to his eyes.


Of course, Hilde would only because dead in a boring, stuffy, totally too normal tea shop if she was trying to be a boring, stuffy, totally normal person. Not a woman the FBI or worse should be watching. So, she leans on his arm and smiles far too beatifically, a little stepford house wife, really, as they move for the door's interior. She breathes just a bit easier as they are inside, not holding onto his arm quite so forcefully as he's clearly decided to play ball. But then she looks across the place, nose wrinkling just a touch, "…I don't suppose they serve coffee?" She asks. Sacriledge!

Then she feels just that trickling brush of magic, even if she cannot quite tell what has been done, it seems to set her at ease. She sighs and gives him a small nod, freeing his arm as quickly as she took it and then moving to slip out of her jacket. She might actually be more skin and bones than she had been previous, or he might just not have seen her for sometime. Even as her body walks more self assured, it's like her mortality is… paper in water. Sadly, there is no book to be a back up. At least, not in this realm. "…FBI. I think. Or… other bad men. I have no clue who Barney's pissed off but he's gone into hiding and now they're breathing down MY neck and I think killing them will just make things messier… but I am very tempted to make some messes. At least they would die warrior's deaths. I'd be sure."


Even as that faint smile melts away to a thin line of concern, Strange is glancing back out the windows. He wanders closer to them, taking the opportunity to check both directions of the sidewalk before remaining there by them, looking back at Hilde. Too-skinny Hilde, with the incandescent burn of the Valkyrie in her veins, and now pursued by the FBI to boot.

"I know it's tempting to consider it, but do me a favor and avoid this temptation. You'd be kicking a beehive."

Mrs. O'Riley's little wave beyond the counter brings the good Doctor over and the order is put in for his usual along with the darkest blend possible shy of a cupp'a joe, since coffee is something the little Irish woman wouldn't serve here.

"Not your lady," she comments quietly, squinting at the pale stringbean even as money changes hands. Strange chuckles once.

"Not at all. Simply a friend in need of the best cup of tea this side of the Atlantic Ocean."

"Oh, you charming cad, git. I'll bring it to your table. Scones?" A nod and a few more bills are exchanged — Hilde's body could use the calories, it seems, even if he can't touch them for fear of a sick stomach. The tall man passes by Hilde and comments,

"The back table there." The centrally-located round table, set for two, allows the inability for anyone to sneak up behind the Sorcerer as he shucks his coat and slings it across the chair closest to the wall. Once seated, he actually shifts the chair back to literally touch the wall and seems more comfortable for it. "I ordered you the blackest tea she has. No coffee, but it should be tolerable." Folding his arms slackly, in white dress shirt, the Sorcerer tilts his head to one side. Eyes flick up and down Hilde before he sighs. "What did you get yourself into this time with the FBI, Hilde?" No nickname. This is serious business now.


While Strange is studying the windows, he probably will see one of those black, unmarked Sedans driving just a bit TOO slow down the street. Could be a sleeper car. Could be someone lost in New York City. Maybe Hilde was paranoid. Maybe she was right. Who knows? But there are no men in suits waving guns, looking to try and raid the tea shop. Everything is achingly, normally, utterly too quiet out there. Just a car driving slowly, then it's gone around the corner.

Hilde sighs and hangs her jacket up, revealing her medic's pants and messy, button down shirt. She has specks of blood and other things on her, enough to say that she hasn't changed since her last shift but she also doesn't really care. She nods to his comment about the table and goes over there, plopping carelessly down into one of the seats as she calls over to the woman, "…Nah, he don't cheat ladies. Only thing he likes to cheat is death." It's meant to be friendly and teasing, Strange getting a pointed smirk. She's doing that too-casual, pretend like everything is fine dance.

The too-black tea gets a slight look, not thrilled, but beggers and choosers. She carelessly drapes her leg over the chair's arm, frown deepening as he asks that question. "Ain't nothin'….ain't me. All Barney's shit."


The moue is mildly unimpressed, mostly accepting that nothing has changed. "Still involved with him? Even after he's…'gone to ground' without telling you where he is?"

Hilde is spared the lecture for the arrival of the tea and scones. Giving old Mrs. O'Riley a twinkling smile that is returned with a fond tutting and reminder that she'll be behind the counter if they need anything, it leaves him to pour out. His own cup is blackberries and sage, a bit of honey and cream added; Hilde's, as aforementioned, is some deep, dark blend that would kick most tea drinkers in the teeth for its strong taste and caffeine level. This is Chai's rougher bare-knuckle boxer of a cousin. Steam wafts up from both cups as the good Doctor sets aside the silver teapot on its trivet and draws his saucer closer to him. The warmth, as always, soothes the old aches of abused knuckles, and he glances from the surface's swirl of dissipating cream to the Valkyrie. His voice is pitched low to maintain privacy.

"Mind who you joke to about cheating death. Mrs. O'Riley knows of the Little Folk. She might believe you and begin to get curious. I'd hate for you to be questioned by her. She's a stubborn one." Boy, aren't they all in this shop. Sipping at his tea, Strange pops his lips before shaking his head. "I'm not sure that I can help you with this, Hilde. If you don't know my feelings on the matter of Barney, you're smart enough to guess. My appreciation for his antics is thin." His expression hardens minorly though it keeps majority professionalism. "Eat a scone," the good Doctor adds, nodding towards the plate. "They're very good." Doctor's orders and all.


"…I would call you father, but I have a feeling that might piss off some very strong people you'd really rather not piss off. So, I'll just say you're dad-ing *real* hard right now and it ain't the best look on you. Brings on the gray in your hair." Hilde is still teasing him, even as he's being more serious and worried. She gives him an even more pointed look, but does scoop up the scone and breaks off a small bird bite of it. Little pieces eaten like she was a picky squirrel. Hilde might have the Valkyrie in her head, but she still has a LOT of Hilde habits. THis being one of the strongest of them. No wonder she's skin and bones.

Then a sigh comes, looking from the glare at him down to the scone in her hands. "…I knew gettin' into it with my killer what he was and what the risks were. Don't mean I'm just gonna up and leave. It's worth it when things are good. And he always comes back from these things smelling like death. It's… Real nice." SHe almost sounds turned on, talking about it that way.


Has this Asgardian been hanging out with Tommy? Because it feels like this vein of teasing would parallel the one shown by the pale-haired speedster. The old jokes. Always with the old jokes. Not his fault that hard work silvered his temples earlier than normal. Dignified, please. It's dignified.

In a true 'Dad' moment, Strange returns that pointed look with an unamused expression blatantly projecting the unspoken comment of, 'Oh really.' That she begins to eat a scone keeps her from getting a proper Dad comment in return; little wins, the skin-and-bones blonde really does need more weight on her.

At the slightly-unraveled melody within her words, the Sorcerer purses his lips and glances down at the steaming tea in his hands. Fingertips drum on the ivory surface of the cup. Yep, mildly awkward, for sure, but still…

"I suppose I can understand the lure of that to a Valkyrie. Twisted and frankly, a bit disturbing, but…I do understand." A small smirk curls. "If you're ever in need of interesting company, I've recently come into contact with someone who likely reeks of death. She's delightful if you can get past that prickly exterior — and the teeth." Taking a long sip of tea prevents an immediate explanation. "Will you go to ground as well then?"

It seems there's no talking the waifish blonde out of remaining in contact with the gunman.


"…Ah…the wolf woman, yes? She assisted me once. Before I knew who I was, really… I liked the way she smelled. I should go tell her thank you, yes, and steal a bit more of her company as well." A small, thoughtful sound echoes in the back of HIlde's throat. It's considering but also weirdly… Hungry? Not in a way that is all about scones. In a way that is about remembering how good Skali smelled. "…would be nice to have a warm body while he's gone." Oh yes. She's contemplating that sort of companionship with the woman. Women don't count as cheating, right?

Then she takes one more half bite of the scone, having gotten through half the thing before putting it down like a picky child. SHe then goes for her tea, letting it hover between her tiny, cold hands. At least it would help warm her. "…go to ground? It's… not really my style. I can handle things. I will not run like some coward, not from these mortal soldiers… "


In putting down her scone, Hilde may or may not be privy to the battle going on behind Strange's eyes. On one hand, yes, the two women might be inseparable given the manner in which their Asgardian traits run. On the other hand, is a Valkyrie hooking up with a Varg really a good idea? Seems like their tendencies would be mutual gasoline on a fire and…oh dear.

"Skali Kineseeker, yes," he mutters, shaking his head slightly. Note to self: do not enable this meeting. Bad Sorcerer. Also do not mention this to the old Wizard living at the Sanctum. In fact, pretend you never said anything, Doctor.

"It wouldn't be running, it would be…hmm, what is that old adage…?" Even as he draws the tip of his pointer finger down one line of his goatee, Strange is elsewhere for a moment. He comes back with a snap of said fingers that gives off a literal spark, like a flint struck. "Ah, something about running away to fight another day. Muster forces and gather warriors and something like that." A wave of his hand dismisses the thought. "Perhaps come up with a plan that involves minimal bloodshed." A subtle emphasis on the words shows the tendencies towards a healer and a shepherd, though they are silvery veins through the bedrock of tempered power of the mantle.


"…Minimal bloodshed." Hilde just *stares* at him, one brow lofted, her head lulling a bit to the side. Did he remember who he was talking to? She clears her throat, "…Minimal Bloodshed is like… saying… okay, go have sex, but really, just the tip. It don't work that way, Doc. Or at least, not if you're doing it right." Yes, Hilde might just be trying to make him choke on his tea, maybe on purpose. But she has a point. In her mind, at least

She takes a small sip of her tea, sinking back to drape herself a bit more across the chair, clearly not buying into those suggestions, so she's content to move onto other thoughts. "…Tell me more about this Skali. I was very drunk when we met. I almost forgot about her. Where can I find this deathbringer? I should bring her whiskey as an apology. ANd offer of friendship."


That disdainful eyebrow is lofted right back to the Valkyrie. With dignity and impeccable manners, Strange drinks his tea and considers precisely how to reply without digging himself deeper into the hole he's so delightfully started.

"If I must be honest, Deathscort, you lack imagination." The smirk curls darker for a second before he assumes that more polite smile once again, all the mirth contained in the twinkling eyes. "Skali Kineseeker is an acquaintence of mine recently returned to society. I have no idea where she lives currently or what she may be doing at this time." In the truly irritating manner accorded to nearly all Mystical types — and another reason why bandying promises about idly with them is never a good idea — the words he speak are purely truthful…and no doubt annoyingly unrevealing.


While he might not be lying, Brunnhilde can all too well sniff out someone who is trying to avoid answering questions. SHe leans a bit closer, narrowing her eyes as she studies him up and down. "You… you don't want me talking to her, do you? Something about it makes you very, very nervous… As if she and I would go on some happy murdering spree in New York." Hilde grins a bit, proud and totally amused by the situation. She leans back in her chair and takes a sip of her tea once more. "I promise you, it wouldn't be a spree… and no one would really notice. She and I are, no doubt, quite good at what we do. I'll track her down. I can… smell such people." Now that Hilde's been reminded she exists and is sober, there is definite plotting behind her eyes. "And i have plenty of imagination. That's part o what scares you."


"What scares me is that imagination could be put towards uses that avoid ending lives and it seems that you ignore them." A snort and Strange shakes his head slowly. "Still…I see that I won't be changing your mind. Be mindful, Deathscort. I don't appreciate blind killing. Skali knows this well enough." A pointed finger briefly aligns towards her from his grip around the tea cup, tick-tocks back and forth, and then curls away.

His keen gaze shifts to a couple passing by the glamoured window and dismisses them as normal before he murmurs, "I believe I have the right to ask you a favor, Hilde Norris, after how you arrived at my Sanctum." There's some gravity to his expression as he eyes her. "Do me one. No needless bloodshed. Not with her."


The woman is languishing, sitting there like a cat with cream, until he brings up the fact that she owes him a favor. He is not wrong. She knows this. Her ice pale eyes narrow a bit more on him, setting her tea aside as well so she has no food or drink to distract her from his older, stern features. She stares hard at him for a handful of heartbeats, considering that thought.

"…Yes. I do owe you, I have said this before. I am not a woman who cheats on her debts. But… that is a very broad thing to ask. What would you consider needless? WHat does the world ocnsider needless? I will not be trapped into an overly broad promise where you may say I went back on my deal later."


"I acknowledge that you are not one to cheat on your debts. You are a singular woman of much honor." Thus is the accord avowed and the Sorcerer continues steadily. "I ask for no unwarranted bloodshed or death. Taunts do not count. You don't get to 'accidentally' punch someone's nasal cartilage into their brain during a fistfight over who called someone's mother a whore first." Hey, they both worked in a hospital at some point, there's a story or two floating around about a patient brought in DOA from such an event.

"Self-defense is the only exception. This entails that you have used justified, reasonable levels of force to avoid injury or death to yourself." Strange pauses before adding, "If it would hold up in a court of Earthly law, I cannot hold you accountable of abusing my favor." He doesn't seem happier for laying down said rules, but perhaps committed to his request. "If you do find Lady Skali, do remind her that pulling a tiger's tail does not justify killing said creature in self-defense." What's this? A little smirk? He does like tweaking the Varg's tail.


The ice eyed woman narrows her gaze at him unhappily, her small jaw set. Clearly, she is not comfortable with this. Hilde speaks nothing for several moments, thin lips in a little line, but that line deepens as he comments about the fist fight. She looks down at her little, spindly hands. "…do you actually think this body even capable of such a feat? I… as much as I may wish, sometimes, am not the warrior I once was. This body is… frustratingly fragile. Useless." She half huffs, glaring down at her skinny self for a few moments.

"…That being said, I do not feel comfortable with your terms. Mortal courts are as fickle as mortal hearts and the law is never near so clear. If you insist in this being the way I repay the debt, I shall not be able to deny you, but I also will not be… happy with it. You trap me in another box out of lacking trust, when I have done nothing to abuse your trust as such. Those mortal soldiers in the black suits? They have started this. They are the hunters now. I would not hunt them in turn if they did not pick up their weapons first."


"They can't say I didn't try," he murmurs as his eyes slide back from the glamoured window back to her again, sitting there unhappy and pale. "If you can't agree to these terms, which I think are perfectly reasonable, then your fate is your own, Hilde. This includes the repercussions of your decisions. I'm not your boss, I'm not your father — I'm the Sorcerer Supreme." And all that entails. His shoulder lift and fall. "I don't seek to trap you. I seek simply to avoid death. After all…if I can cheat it, I might as well help others."

Finishing what's left of his tea, Strange then pours himself a quarter-cup more before pausing with tea pot held aloft, inquiring wordlessly if the Valkyrie wants more. Aloud, he says, "This doesn't mean you can't call upon me for help, Hilde, remember this. Should you get in over your head, utilize your powers to send a message to me. Think and project. If my apprentice can reach me across dimensions, I have no doubt you would be able to as well."


A slight shake comes to her head in offer of the more tea. SHe's barely drank half of her current cup, clearly not near so much a tea drinker as he is. But she's managing through it for something to do when she cannot have a cigarette. Oral fixation is a habit which spans many races, Asgardians including. She stretches out a bit more and crosses her long, lanky legs at the ankle, a slight sigh escaping her throat. Almost guilty. Almost.

"My fate has always been my own. And, while I bask in death and will always do what I can to usher souls to their proper place, I have never been one to 'unnecessarily' kill. You should know me well enough by now. That is not my style. When a soul's time is there… it is time. Not before. No, I will not cheat to keep someone alive, but I do not take them out of some sick sense of joy. Valhalla has no need of more souls. They will come with their time. I… am somewhat fucking pissed you actually think I would."


A humming sigh escapes the Sorcerer before he sets down the tea pot. The steaming tea is sipped, its temperature just too hot to avoid burning lips, and so cupped once more between his hands for the warmth that soothes and dulls old pain.

"Did I ever say that you would be the one causing the bloodshed and death?" He lets her think for a moment. "You can no more deviate from your appointed duties than I can. The Vishanti are hard taskmasters as is your Mistress." No need to mention her name; it would be folly to assume that she's so far as to avoid hearing it across the Mystical planes. "No, you are Deathscort. I assume you take pride in your responsibilities. What I don't assume is the infallibility to fall to it. I would know. If anything, Hilde…don't encourage her." Strange manages to hide all but a bit of the weariness that haunts him; crow's feet appear at the corners of his eyes.


The woman narrows her eyes on him a bit more, considering that older face, the crow's feet at his eyes, the hesitation on his lips. HIlde's just sighs, that look far more guilt inducing than any of his other words. "I can promise you I will not… encourage her to kill anyone before their time. Is that sufficient? Much as I do not go around forcing early deaths, and I tell you, I could… The amount of drugs they let me touch alone in a single shift…" Hell, Barney had stolen one and nearly killed her by accident! "But, I don't. I won't start just because I have made a new friend. I also will not live in constant fear and paranoia because soldiers in suits decide I am worth hunting."


"If you can promise me that, Hilde Norris, I will hold your debt fulfilled." The Sorcerer absolutely will and holds out a scarred hand into the distance between them. Take his hand, it makes the exchange complete, the promise binding, and might feel as if low-grade static briefly tickles her palm before dying out — a simple reaction of Mystical power to Asgardian supernatural abilities.

Regardless of whether or not the Valkyrie shakes his hand to seal the deal, he thinks no less of her. She is her own being, with her own limitations and obligations. "As far as the FBI goes…you are clever. I think you can hold your own, whatever comes." At his neck, the crimson scarf shifts a bit, not a trick of the light but the relic loosening to allow for some loss of retained heat. "Do what you will. Remember that I'm around."

If it is her fate to come to blows…then so be it.


There is a heartbeat or two as she watches his hand, some weird bit of fate heavy in the air. Even she can taste it, though she doesn't understand that. Surely it was just the weight of an agreement between two powers. Hilde finally reaches out, wrapping her palm around his and giving a heavy, firm shake of her hand that suddenly feels far less delicate than it looks. He's shaking hands with the Valkyrie, not just Hilde Norris. "…It is done, then." She affirms, breath catching just a bit at the magic in the air. Something great has changed here. Strange might feel it even more than her.

Then her fingertips come back and she picks at another tiny piece of the scone, popping it past her lips. "I have held my own so far… but this is the first time they have come without Barney present to draw their ire. It… is a new challenge. I am sure it will be fine."


If he does feel the shifting, Strange doesn't let on to it other than the stretch of his fingers once released from the mutual gripping of hands in the traditional gesture of agreement. It's something to consider back at the Sanctum, during a session of meditation. Occassionally, the Sorcerer can suss out certain ribbons of fated future. There's always the sly chance that the furling twist captured in Astral attention could belong to a spirit out of its element in a body not its own.

"You might seem small to them. Dare I say it, scrawny?" Poke-poke at the Deathscort. "They're underestimating you. I hope you don't come to blows." Saluting her with his demi-tasse, the discussion turns to lighter things and the witty banter known between the Death-Cheater and Deathscort, two beings bound to opposing factions who can still find time for a cup of tea.


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