1964-05-06 - Our Favorite Roberts
Summary: Rosemarie and Kai discuss poets over her lunch break.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
kai rosemarie 

Another day, another shift at the library. At her information desk, the little bastion of organization that might as well mark the last point of human contact before the veritable maze of the Sciences section of the shelving, Rosemarie wears a little frown of concentration. She's figured out the issue of a missing journal, but not how to get it back — the account is settled too, no huge burden on her part. After all, that was part of the promise made.

Still, in as much as she attempts focus, the movements of her pencil are not all streamlined and methodical. She knocks over her card stack at least once and grumbles while collecting them all again. It's clear that her mind is at least halfway elsewhere entirely and keeping it present, in the here and now, is not too unlike attempting to reel in a deep-sea sporting fish. Line taken, line regained…whirrr, off goes her brain again. It's almost useless, but she perserveres.

After all, she's under minor scrutiny now from the staff. A first-edition Newton doesn't just appear on a regular basis.


So much has been going on lately, and to Kai, the best thing for it is getting on with the business of living. He's doing normal things today. Getting a library card is normal. He comes up to the counter with his requisite identification and proof of address. He stands in line without complaint. He's tied Kevin outside; he doesn't plan to be here long.

He smiles when he sees Rosemarie, and he comes up to her. "Hello!" he says, greeting her like an old friend. "I'm here for my card, so I can do more reading."


A familiar voice, what's this?

Looking up from adding another name to contact in regards to extreme late fees, Rosemarie recognizes the would-be bard from the park. All too easy to return that smile and her freckles dimple.

"I wondered if I would be seeing you." This young man causes no stutter for her. He's sunshine and daisies to her, nothing but sweet puppy fluff, nothing to give her reason to get nervous — and he's a sweet-talker to boot. "I'm happy to help you get a card." A shadow of doubt ghosts by, there and gone, over her as she wracks her brain for his name. "…Kai, right? You've got your identification and proof of address?" She asks this as she spins in her chair, over to the files carefully marked in her handwriting. She leafs through the papers found in one marked "Applications" and pulls out the correct form.


Kai hands over his paperwork. He's from a terrible neighborhood. Somehow, he makes it work, clearly. As he fills out his application, he says, "That's right. I'm Kai." Though the name he writes down is Gerhard Alfsson. "How have you been, gorgeous? Things have been dreadfully dull." Lies. Well, sort of. Grief and anxiety are often rather boring after awhile.

Not that any of that shows on Kai's face. He jots down his information, and his handwriting is a flowing script, rather nice for someone of his disposition. He learned to write in the olden days.


The poised slant of his handwriting is given a lingering appreciation, the librarian's head tilting ever so slightly to get a better view. She would brag to have fairly nice printing herself, but nothing like that. It has a touch of calligraphy to it. With hands folded on the desk, the very image of librarian propriety, she gives Kai another small smile.

"For a library, we're not having a dull week. Things here got…exciting as of a few days ago." Hmm, how to describe this without letting on too much. After all, there's a press release in the works. "We acquired a very rare book from a very kind patron. It's in the process of being verified, but our manager of archival collections is through the roof." That's probably the fairest description of events. Ignore the light blush suffusing her cheeks — blame it on the excitement of the find!


Kai passes over the neatly filled application. "Ooh, a rare acquisition? Anything good? I bet there's a line to check it out, huh? Unless it's one of those that doesn't get checked out?" He leans against the desk and mentions, "You know, a good friend of mine sells rare books. He's got a little shop near Central Park." He wrinkles his nose. Ugh, zombies.

"Have you gotten to see it?" Kai asks, lowering his voice. "What is it?" Stuff that's not for him? Cue sudden interest.


Rosemarie takes back the application and skims over it. A nod for the rarity, oh yes. She glances up at him in light of the bookshop.

"Does he? I'll have to stop in and see what he has." The nonchalant lean of Kai on the desk brings her gaze down to his elbow and back up. She's not precisely territorial, but very few folk manage the easy air that he projects. It's refreshing.

A little lip nibble then, drawn up for the secretive drop in volume on his part. The unconscious scan of the library around them is for the fact that, indeed, it's not for anyone to touch, currently stashed away behind archival glass and doors with soooo many locking mechanisms. The Smithsonian would be proud.

She drops her chin and scoots more into the desk to close the distance. Her voice is equally as quiet. "I was the one t-to t-take it to the archival r-r-room." Dang it, stutter. "It's v-very old, K-Kai. The m-manager says late 1600s." Blushing still more.


Kai rattles off the address to Loki's bookstore. For all Kai knows, he may prefer to have books without actually selling any, but what harm can it do to throw a little business his way? Kai's just so comfortable in his lean. Standing without leaning must be so terribly difficult.

The leaning one's eyes widen. He's not used to seeing things anymore that predate him. Not in America, anyway. "Wow," he says, "Like, wow. That's out of this world." Her blush delights him, of course, and he grins. "What was it like to hold?"


Her mouth disappears behind her fingers in a show of modesty he's seen before. Still, the giggle slips forth, more embarrassed than amused.

"It w-w-was…old." Another little rill of laughter, muffled behind her hands and she shakes her head. "I already s-said that, d-d-didn't I. The c-cover was p-plain, no writing except f-f-for the ins-side. L-Latin. It even smelled old save f-for the c-c-c-c-cologne." Rosemarie tucks hair behind her ears even as she attempts to divert attention from herself by fiddling with the stack of cards on her desk. Mmm, dat cologne.


Kai's brows lift. "Cologne?" He shakes his head, then. "I wish I could take a crack at it. My Latin isn't all that great, but…" But with Allspeak, it doesn't have to be. "That's so far out you got to see it." He gives her a rakish smile and leans in closer. "There's no need to be nervous, doll. I promise you I'm harmless. Look, how long are you imprisoned by employment today? I shouldn't leave my dog alone for too much longer, but if you get to handle old books, I'd love to carry on a conversation."


"Y-yes, c-cologne," mutters she of the bright red cheeks beneath his musings on handling the book himself. Bart would probably break the kid's fingers first for even attempting it, unfortunately. Under this library's version of Fort Knox, the tome from the 1680s.

Glancing up from her card, Rosemarie finds him even closer into her personal space now, grinning like a total charmer, and she retreats to sit back in her chair. A quick drumming of fingertips atop the surface of her desk, pursed lips, and finally she looks up at him again. The faintest smile, still uncertain, lingers in her expression.

"L-lunch t-t-time is s-s-soon enough," she demures. The large clock hanging on the wall above the front doors reflects the truth of her statement with hands easily seen from any line of sight not blocked for shelves. "I n-normally sit on the st-steps if it's n-nice and it w-was-was sunny earlier."

Dog? But she has a cat.


Kai draws back as well, though he makes it look like the most natural thing in the world, no less intimate, somehow. He takes that uncertainty as progress and that smile gains dimples. In his eyes, there's nothing of leering, but rather happiness, the simple joy of living.

"Why don't we sit on the steps together?" Kai suggests. It's a nice day, the sun his shining, and you can smell spring in the air. The air of New York, not necessarily the best fragrance, but damn it, it's home.


Distance gains him the dividend of her smile creeping out a little more from hiding.

"I-I-I w-will m-meet you out th-there sh-shortly, if y-you w-want to g-go? Your f-form is good," she adds, holding it up to accent her point before setting it off to one side, in the completed paperwork stack. It'll get turned in, processed, and the library card will show either before Kai leaves the property or in the mail if forgotten to be addressed before they go their separate ways.

"We-we-we — " A sigh, bit of a self-corrective 'hmph'. "We can talk about old books." Tah-dah, success!


In response to being told his form is good, Kai says, "I get that a lot." He winks. Then he unleans, righting himself as he says, "I'll be on the steps with my dog. Did you meet him? He's a good dog." If Kai keeps saying it enough, it might be true. Loki feeding him people food isn't helping, but of course the trickster would have a hand in complicating something as simple as keeping a pet.

Kai stretches, and he says, "I'll see you in a few, doll. I'd love to talk books." On that note, he saunters on out to where Kevin waits, tail wagging wildly upon seeing his person emerge.


The wink is met with a breathy giggle, a little eyeroll, and then she's back to composed again.

"N-no, I haven't m-met your dog. I'll m-meet you and him out th-there." She watches the young man maks his way over to and through the front doors before giving a shuddering sigh. This is…novel and…goofy. Books. They're talking books. Totally safe waters. Pushing her stack of cards to one side, she leaves the bastion of her desk to go punch out and grab her lunch.

It's not five minutes before she emerges, in her knee-length skirt and matching solid-color blouse, and Kai's not hard to find. He's the one looking particularly pleased with the world around him and possibly being lovingly molested by a rather scruffy-looking small dog. Rosemarie walks over carefully, hesitant to get too close to the animal simply because she doesn't know how it will react to her. That and she might be speckled with Siamese cat hair. It always goes with her, wherever she goes, to some degree.


The dog is on Kai's lap, licking his face and wiggling. From his perch, he surveys the world. Kai's lap is a great deal taller than an animal who has be declared by some an overgrown squirrel. When he spies the approaching Rosemarie, he barks, then barks again, a bark that tapers off into an 'awoowoo.'

Kai pets the dog. "Hold off, killer," he says. Then, to Rosemarie, "He's a coward. You're perfectly safe." When Kai addresses Rosemarie, Kev hops off his lap and body-wiggles his way toward her, whining with joy. A new best friend? He smells cat and pauses, cautious. Some cats are nice, some are mean. A doggy can't be sure.


Rosemarie does freeze up as the dog gets to barking. Oh dear. Still, she's brave enough to offer the back of her hand for the pup to sniff, leaning down in order to allow it. Hopefully she's not looming!

"H-he s-seems n-nice enough, I s-suppose," she says hesitantly, ready in a moment's notice to jump back in case of teeth. The Otherness within her body stirs to the jump in blood pressure and imparts an extra edge to her reaction timing in general. It also lets in the faintest change of color about her pupils, a gold bleeding into cinnamon-brown.


The pup sniffs Rosemarie's hand, then starts licking. Puppy kisses! Kai watches the spectacle. "You have no dignity, Kevin. You fall all over yourself at the sight of a pretty girl." Kev doesn't need dignity, not when there's attention to be had. Kai just shakes his head. That dog.

His quick gaze darts to Rosemarie's face, her eyes. He only smiles. Everyone has something, he's convinced of it. "I'll keep him out of your way while you eat," he says. "My friend has introduced him to the notion that people food is for dogs. He's impossible."


Kevin, for his efforts, earns a small chin-chuck scratch of sorts. Rosemarie isn't a dog person, not really, but she can make exception for the friendly ones, like Kevin.

"I d-don't think m-my l-looks have anyth-th-thing to d-do with his interest. P-peanut b-butter sandwich," she explains, lifting up the brown paper sack in her other hand kept beyond reach of that wiggly dark nose.

Considering that Kevin is likely kept from interferring further, she'll sit down beside Kai, on the side not privy to the wiggly pup. Indeed, a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, and a Dr. Pepper, glass bottle and red-and-white labeling and all. Her secret sin, an addiction to the soda pop. Sometimes, the sweet caffeination is all that gets her through the second half of her shift.

"He sh-shouldn't have p-p-people food." The opinion comes after giving Kevin a side-glance past Kai. "Bad habits."


Kai pats his thigh to draw Kevin over to the side opposite Rosemarie and her sandwich. Kevin may make sad eyes and look forlorn and starving, starving to death! But he won't make a bid for the sandwich. He's too cowardly. Or let's call it discreet. Kai soothes the ache of hunger with scratches under the chin and behind the ears.

"He's a walking bag of bad habits on four legs with fur," Kai says. "He chews, he digs, he barks, he begs." He pats Kevin's head. Kevin looks at Rosemarie with the saddest of sad eyes. "But he's my buddy."


Unfortunately, Kevin's saddest of the sad, big ol' puppy-dog look is deflected. It simply doesn't register on Rosemarie's radar. If anything, she gets the impression of being stared at. That's nothing new — her Lola, aforementioned Siamese, does it all of the time — but still, it's only staring.

If Kevin were to drool, that might gain more of the librarian's attention and probably a grimace.

After a big bite of her sandwich and a mouthful of that bubbly Dr. Pepper, she dusts off the fingertips of one hand of bread crumbs by rubbing them together.

"Old b-books. Have you h-handled any? Or d-does your f-friend have some?" He of the bookstore down by the Park.


Kevin is polite about his drool, smecking it back, which only serves to make him look hungrier. As for Kai, he doesn't even look at the sandwich or any of it. He'll have lunch later. He's only barely past breakfast, himself. He's a late riser.

Ah, but the topic of old books! That gets a spark of keen interest. "I've handled some at my friend's shop, and I had a few pass by in my day." Hell, he even wrote one or two of them, but they were new back then. "He loaned me a book of poetry recently from the 1700s. People were so wordy back then."


Rosemarie's brows jump high. "Oh! 1700s?!" The wordiness doesn't matter much to her, it's the date of the publication. "Loaned you a book that old? He m-must trust y-you a l-lot! W-w-what b-book? The t-title, I m-mean. T-tell me about it." She disappears into her sandwih after this, expecting a full report on the volume. This entails author, book name, examples of poetry — geez, maybe even a recitation or two!

Kai would earn an amazing number of brownie points with the librarian for reciting poetry. After all, she's a romantic at heart, even if said heart flutters for someone else.


Kai days amiably, "Oh sure, he trusts me. He has every reason to." He thinks for a moment, then says, "I can't remember if it was just poems from that era. The book did look awfully old, though. I know he's got an interesting personal collection." In the freezer, because the arcane ink gives up its words in the cold. Kai's life is not like others' lives.

Kevin's ears are ruffled, which briefly distracts the dog from the lunch in progress. He licks Kai's fingers and wags. Then it's back to the vigil. "Anyway," Kai says, "it was poets of the era. I'm more of a contemporary man, myself, but you can't beat the old poets for turning a verse. Robert Burns is particularly evocative if you, like, figure out what he's saying. It's all in Scots' English."


If Rosemarie ever has the chance to see this personal collection, in the freezer, there's…going to need to be some explaining.

She takes a big swig of her drink and manage to burp very, very quietly behind her hand. A nod and she opines, "B-Burns is r-rather difficult to f-figure out sometimes. S-speaking of Roberts though, I like F-Frost. Robert F-Frost. The Road N-Not Taken." A fond smile curves her lips as she pauses in lifting her sandwich. "M-my grandfather w-would recite it to m-me. It's…melancholy, somehow, m-makes you think about choices a-a-and the f-fact that y-you can choose only one r-road."


Kai's lips twitch at a smile, not that he noticed the burp, no no. "Burns is practically legible compared to my second favorite Scottish Robert, Tannahill." He lifts his chin and quotes, "Yon caul sleety could skiffs alang the bleak mountain, and shakes the dark firs on the stey rocky brae, while doun the deep glen bawls the snaw-flooded fountain that murmur'd sae sweet to my laddie an' me." He smiles, winsome, and shrugs a little. Like, whatever.

"Frost is good," he says. "Evocative. I'm partial to Fire and Ice." Perhaps too relevant given whom he means to come home to tonight. "But The Road Not Taken is quite good, I agree."


Her chewing visibly slows to hear the recitation of Tannahill's poem. Holy smokes, that's an accent. Those were English words? Er, rather, that was English?

"That w-was very good!" say Rosemarie with a clear mouth. Sandwich all gone, sorry, Kevin. "Tannahill. I'll h-have to l-look him up." A sip of soda. "I d-do like Fire and Ice, but it's so short. It l-lacks…punch to me." There's a questioning lilt to the statement, as if she's not completely certain that she imparted her opinion correctly. "The b-book given to m-me w-wasn't p-poetry. It was a science b-book." Her tongue slips out to clean her upper lip as she admits this.


Kai says, "I spent some time in Scotland. I picked up a few things." Like his first and, until Loki, his only love. Such brief creatures, these humans. He continues patting Kevin, who starts to look forlorn but resigned as lunch disappears. How could it have not been for puppies? Starving puppies! Puppies who are getting round little bellies now that they're not eating garbage on the street? Kai says, "I like Fire and Ice's brevity, and that last line: and would suffice. Understatement masterfully used."

But then lunch does come to a close, and Rosemarie has to get back to work. Kai needs to get home and probably listen to his vinyl while high. It's an important part of his day! As he gets to his feet, he says, "See you around, Rosemarie. I'll be by the library again, or maybe at my friend's shop."

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