1964-05-25 - A Wellness Check in Wildflowers
Summary: The good Doctor checks up on a particularly Dire(wolf) patient. Musings, friendship, peace - it's all pretty saccharine, folks.
Related: Whirlwind of Teeth and Fur
Theme Song: Farmer's Hand (Instrumental) - David Davidson
skali strange 


The days stretched. With the onset of summer, the heat was oppressive and constant - a curse even Asgardian deities couldn't avoid. Unless of course they plucked up their existence and moved it North, which Skali had been doing regularly since the onset of mid-May in New York City. Upon finishing her morning walks, pocketing what little cash she could earn in such a meager fashion of existing, she slipped into a more comfortable skin and popped across a continent.

Thus the wolf found herself sprawled in blooming ocean of wildflowers and lichen as the day stretched into seemingly infinite horizons, still bloated from the moose felled earlier that afternoon and slumbering deeply. Occasionally a fly would buzz too close, an ear would flick, she would resettle and peace would be restored in this small corner of the world.

*

And wouldn't it just be Fate that a certain Sorcerous fuddy-duddy in battle-leathers and crimson Cloak Gates in nearby — not too nearby, must not startle Vargs, asleep or not — in the process of going down his check-list of check-ups. A good Doctor must follow up on his patients. Thus, Strange finds himself knee-deep in the field of riotous floral color and even he is brought to a halt momentarily. The Gate fizzles down into open air as he inhales and exhales.

Gosh, that's an odd expression on him: fondness with a liberal swirl of mourning. Maybe there's a childhood memory at play through his mind. Still, not long after, he's striding slowly towards the resting Direwolf.

"Skali Kineseeker," comes the call, at a perfect pitch to simply 'be' within the expanse of wilderness. Not too loud, not too soft, like a blue jay calling out warning for a wolf.

*

The muzzle twitched as the magic threads pulled back together behind the gate, weaving reality into form once more. A slow whap of the tail on the ground sent pollen into the light breeze in a swirl, thump-thump-thump of greeting. Luminous golden eyes opened in the languid fashion of something full and content, watching his approach with a wry smile curving her lips that became all the more distorted upon such a monstrous maw as the bones rearranged to answer his call in the low, thick voice of her true form. It was a deep rumble that touched the soul, melodious in its power,

"Fancy seeing you here."

The wicked teeth that had attempted to pull the flesh from his bones glinted in the liquid sunlight hovering around them.

"Should I change into something more comfortable?"

It was a polite way of asking how much the Doctor still trusted her.

*

Strange flashes teeth right back in a short bark of a laugh.

"No, remain as you are," he replies evenly as his long strides carry him over to the Varg. She looks terribly comfortable splayed out in the bed of wildflowers, as if she belonged here over anyplace else, and for a second, he marvels at the fact that those ivory fangs very much wanted to bury into his sternum and remove it soundly from his torso not weeks back. "This is your wellness check, Skali. Indulge me," asks he of the loosely-folded arms and mild smirk as he stands by her feet, " — as your doctor."

Bah-dum-cht.

"Any residue in your system? Lingering malaise? If the counter-spell to heal was too much in one sitting and caused damage, I do need to know." He runs his eyes down her sleekly-furred and muscled form, large as it is. He always seems to forget how big this Varg is until he's standing close to her.

*

The way he confidently approached was appraised. If a wolf could raise an eyebrow, she would have. As it was, an ear twitched and she rolled onto her elbows, crossing her front paws as if they were going to have tea. It was a refined poise with which she received him into her company, abruptly abandoned as the distance closed and she reached one leg forward, then the other, prowling to her feet in a long stretch that took entirely too long to complete. A shoulder met with his hip, pressing hard against his frame as she affectionately dragged the remnants of blood still on her scruff against a pant leg.

"My middle name is malaise. Thousands of years of existence tend to do that to a girl."

With the required infusion of sarcasm, she answered truthfully. The sound of her voice could be felt through the backs of his knees as it pulled up from the depths of that narrow chest.

"I can't speak to the effects of your healing on a mortal. I recover quicker than humans. The same spell may have killed one of them"

A pause lengthened the distance between her words as she drifted away from him, returning to her trampled down bed amongst the permafrost with a glance over one grizzled shoulder to opine,

"Perhaps that would have been for the better."

*

"Skali Kineseeker…"

The name is offered with gentle rebuff, his brows doing the same. Having been properly greeted now and with the battle-leathers needing yet another washing for it (at least there's a good scouring spell to help along with hydrogen peroxide…), he can indulge in some frowny-face. "That you live is to be treasured. You frustrate the ever-living hells out of me now and then, Varg, but…" He sighs, relaxing where he stands. "It would be a shame to have the world without you. I count you as ally."

*

Every time he used her full name, her hackles fluffed just a bit higher, blood pumping just a bit thicker, and the air cloying at her census all the sweeter. There is a magic in true names, and the more the Sorcerer Supreme called her by such a title, the deeper the brand burned. A deep shiver worked down her spine, and she shook herself off to extinguish it sizzling into the tips of her guard hairs before sitting and watching regarding him with a disaffected air.

"I don't intend to frustrate you? I only do what you ask when you ask it of me. In my own way, perhaps, yet I ask nothing of return. Is that an ally? Or perhaps would you be tarnished with my friendship?"

The wolf's eyes flashed with laughter, her grin a menacing rip in the jawline of teeth and black lips. The huge, wedge-shaped head tilted slowly as if letting the question linger as long as she had in pressing against his scent and forcing it upon her hide by proximity.

*

A slow shake of his head accompanies a chuckling, warm and at ease. "Friends? I suppose we can count one another friends. Tarnished, however, no." In a move perhaps surprising, he seems to buckle backwards at the knees. The crimson Cloak enacts its accord — or rather his accord, and hammocks in place. Whatever mounts hold up both ends are invisible and like as not to be screwed into reality itself. He looks Supremely comfortable now with collars acting as head-rest and booted feet crossed at the ankles. The end result is a sling hovering about a few feet from the ground, at easy eye-level alongside the Varg should Strange turn his head. "Stained, yes," and he points at the rusty smudges on the battle-leathers. "But I'd expect nothing less." He smiles before gesturing to the field as a whole. "How did you find this place?"

*

The gymnastics of the cloak were met with a bemused sort of expression, waiting for him to recline into the embrace of the mystical fabric before she lowered her head into his lap. The weight of it was evident now, the ridges that defined where the eyes were set, the pronounced crest along the back of the skull, even as the thick fur of the scruff pooled in his lap and she sighed happily.

"Wolves do not keep friends. We only know pack."

And there was a weight to those words, a suggestion of what she was trying to communicate without becoming sentimental. Yet in it lay an offer of something powerful and distant, a wild camaraderie unimaginable to the common man. With her head resting patiently in his lap whilst ears pinned back in hope for a scratch, she answered his question without looking at him directly,

"There are few places on this earth I don't know. I lived as a wolf for thousands of years before ever playing at humanity."

*

Taken aback at first by the lupine head across his stomach, for the skull is huge and the jawline noted in its strength and impress to his torso, Strange then very carefully rests a scarred palm atop her skull. A petting? Perhaps. It's nearly more of the same cautious exploratory touching she saw so very long ago, when a Siberian tundra and distrust separated them. He finds the processes of the bones, notes the thickness of the cartilage in those noticeably large ears, buries fingertips into the markedly-longer growth of fur beginning near to the back of her head. The fur seems softer here, coarse where it should be along the neck, but warm and downy beneath it all. Eventually, his fingertips find the crook of jaw and ear and gently massage at the skin.

"I am humbled." Insects drone about. A lazy bumblebee circles his boot-toes and lands for a moment before moving on to more pollen-dusted petals. His eyes lid lazily as he indulges in this moment, still distantly collecting information as he murmurs in delayed reply, "You must have seen much in those years, Skali. You had a pack then, I presume?" His touch remains gentle, sweeping up around around the base of an ear to smooth at the crest of fur before retreating and smoothing more still along the wide flat of her jaw.

*

The answer takes a while to find her, even as she enjoys the way his hands inspect her structure, find the places where Midgardian Wolf and Asgardian God diverge in construction. Parts that form an approximate whole, though the one beneath his hands is certainly divine in origin, a trust placed in his trespassing to understand the nature of what she sought so desperately. And it hung in the air even after she admitted it quietly, the feeling of teeth and tongue forming letters that a true canine's jaws could never find,

"Never."

The ears flicked and she quietly regarded him from the corner of those golden eyes, a vulnerability evident in the way she so casually disregarded him with the obvious observation,

"There are wolves here, but no varg. Though that is the point of exile. To be alone."

*

A thumb brushes back up and along the flat of the Varg's cheek again. Strange's brows knit in a frown of unspoken sympathy. He understands a brush's sweep of the full spectrum of the loneliness that she must have endured and it still manages to harrow him to his bones at times. Keeping the pity behind his teeth seems respectful in a way. It does the Midgardian Wolf no good; the Asgardian and walker among mankind may appreciate the sentiment in mobile facial expression more-so.

"Indeed, it is," he agrees quietly, finding a place beneath and behind her ear to bury his fingertips and work at the velvety undercoat he finds without pinching or tugging. "I…imagine that immortality is a hard burden to bear at times." The subtle lilt of query bends the musing. The paired rise of brows underlines its inquiring undercurrent.

*

Skali chuckles as they both allow the admission to pass into unspoken oblivion, the smile reaching the eyes even as they close and she sighs. There is a contentment to the sound, the sort of exhale that pulls from the pores of ones bones as she sinks into his touch and her haunch gives an involuntary twitch.

"Oh I die. Though I know not the time nor the hour, my death is what I'm named for. Or was."

The jaws twitch and then stretch open with a yawn that exposes the darkness of her gums, the blackness of that tongue, seemingly filed to a Draconian point instead of lolling thick and soft as a proper dog's should. The saliva shines in the sunlight, pooled at the base of doubled canine teeth angled back like some horrible python's maw. Then her jaws snap shut, and the monstrosity is forgotten. She sinks to the ground beside him, resettling her head across his chest until she can count every last thud of his heartbeat and murmurs softly,

"It's why I stayed here. If I could not control when and how I died, then the most I could hope for was choosing how to live."

*

My-my, dark Varg, what teeth you have. Strange pulls his hand away at first simply to allow her to yawn, but there's a noted hesitation to return to touching her while he's admiring the number of doubled teeth and that supernatural tongue with its color. However, the return of the weight upon his chest, above his first few ribs, is apparent invitation to continue. The length of his forearm rests against that heavily-muscled neck as he scritches idly at the crest's base along her skull, where it blends into the rest of her guard-hairs.

"I have the distinct suspicion that you and Lady Death wouldn't shake hands in a cheerful manner." His chest shifts in a muted laugh; he's careful not to jounce Skali's head too much. This is…precious, this picture, in the most surreal way. "For this, I believe we can be friends, Skali Kineseeker." And with this comes that same weighty insinuation as earlier. Pack indeed.

Maybe it's enough to entice a burrling sound of amusement from the Varg. The Sorcerer will ignore the mess on his battle-leathers any time of day for peace like this. It is sacred in itself, a gift from Gaia and his Bright Lady that the earth keeps its silence save for the unending shift of life around them. From bluebell's roots and the sunshine saved in leaves to the gracing passing of butterflies and bees alike — the rustling of the breeze and birds in the sky — the rush of a distant stream and a retreating herd of deer that caught the scent of Direwolf.

Life. It goes on while they doze, but even the immortal need their moments of grace.

*

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