1964-08-12 - A Golem's Heart, pt I (A "What If" Tale)
Summary: In this next installment of an epic cat-fight, Stephanie Strange narrowly dodges another attempt on her life and learns that the Winter Soldier is after a precious relic within the city of Prague. There's a kitten, possessed bullets, and a door gets blown to smithereens - you know, the usual madness.
Related: The "What If" Tales, Hell Bear Don't Care
Theme Song: This Means War - Sleepthief ft. Joanna Stevens, Adam Amos remix
bucky strange 

Stephanie's no fool. Of course she's taken what traces of that assassin she can. Sympathy is never to be wasted. But she'll have noted something odd about it…..after a few weeks, its ability to take a charge, as it were, has faded. As if the hairs had never belonged to a human at all.

Though she's definitely had other things on her mind. Namely…..the sorcerers of Europe are being murdered, one by one, and artifacts taken. EVerything from hedge witches with oracular teacups up to the leaders of some of England's occult orders….with pieces of regalia dating back past the Conquest vanishing. Many, but not all, are amongst those that traded hands in the hectic days around the second World War.

Which is why she's currently in one of the most magic-sodden cities in Europe, that citadel of the occult, Prague. And waiting for her on the Charles Bridge, that most touristy of sites, is a young man, a former rabbinical student….and supposedly one of the few remaining who posess the secret of the Golem.

No use gritting teeth over lost sympathies. Someone else, on the far other end of the connection, tampered enough to make it impossible to trace. Unfortunate, but naught to be done about it — which is why the petite Sorceress strides in her ground-covering way towards the bridge in question.

Summer brings heat to the air, but the sunset and consequent night breeze brings everything to comfortable climes. Not a droplet of sweat graces her silvered temples despite her pacing. Clad in her storm-blues and a decidedly crimson sash about her waist, Strange ignores any interested glances or side-comments. She's on a mission and it could be construed as a desperate one, an aggressive counter-move against the rash of deaths and missing relics throughout Europe. It's difficult to bring the elusive tigress of the Mystic Arts from her glen, but there she is, making a sharp turn onto the wide expanse of the bridge. The statues stand tall in their various guises and her eyes are already a-glow with a touch of the Sight. Not possessed at the moment, a single one of them, but she's already on tenterhooks as it is. This is a very open area, even with the expanse of the river on both sides and the length of the crossing.

The student gains a curt nod from her once eye contact is made. There's no denying that it is the Sorceress Supreme, especially with that air of self-confidence (very much at war internally with a wariness on par to a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs). Twitchy fingers indeed.

"«Greetings,»" murmurs Strange once she's within hearing distance, utilizing the local language. "«I received word that you had information for me? Avi, yes?»" Rather presumptive on her part, the name — the message reached her via multiple points of the Mystical channel.

He's dark-haired, pale of face, narrow of body, and wears browline glasses that look like a remnant of the Cold War. Not old - mid-twenties at his latest. And as soon as she comes in reach, he's taking her arm, drawing her along the bridge towards the Castle. The whole area is alive with magic, old and new - perpetually washed by the river, which brings its traces, and they, in turn, are caught on what looks like a weir woven on the upstream side of the bridge. A net to seine magic from the river….and funnel it along the bridge, mostly to the Castle. "Come, come," he says, in decent if accented English, all but hustling her. "We dare not remain out in the open. But yes, we have much to discuss."

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 57

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 83

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d100 for: 51

Avi will have to forgive her for the momentary balking at the sudden interlocking of arms, gentlemanly enough as the gesture is in the end. No one generally escorts the Sorceress Supreme anywhere, but she rapidly concludes it's the perfect guise for conversing about such delicate matters without drawing too many eyes in the process. Simply a walk between associates — or lovers, if one is romantically-inclined on judgment quick-draw.

"I'd prefer an enclosed room myself," she agrees quietly in her Midwestern-accent, betrayal of her origins as American. "The Castle and its wards should work well — "

A odd point of red light appears on the nape of the young man's neck, something she catches in her peripheral vision. What is…that?! SHIT!!!

"DOWN!!!" She might blow out the rabbinical young man's eardrum for the sudden shout as she wheels about, disentangling her arm and drawing up a violet-hued Mystical shield in a broad half-sphere before them. Mundanes react appropriately; shouting, pointing, clutching children closer still. Hopefully Avi listened. Theoretically, the shield should slow a bullet down to a pointed punch if not stop it entirely.

Less than a heartbeat later, a round pings off her shield, caroming away with a tiny screech like a frustrated bat. Another hits, square on…..and there's the spectacle of it caught in mid-air, lodged *in* the shield. It should be an impossibility, but there it is. For it bears the tiniest charge of magic, a jacket of sorcerery mingled in its metal. She can feel it all but fighting to get through, a tiny mote of malice that knows it's meant to kill the magically capable.

Behind Stephanie, behind the shield, Avi makes a gulping noise that would be hilarious, if he weren't so utterly terrified. "It's him!" he says, or, more accurately, squeaks. He's clutching convulsively at her arm, but he's not moving, anymore. "I knew he'd come!" And there is, again, barely distinguishable, the flat report of a suppressed rifle.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 67

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 25

"Avi, you're — stop, you're jostling me!" Strange is quick to spit like a cornered cat after flinching at the initial bullet impacts to the shield. No doubt the distant sound of a fired gun reaches the other tourists on the bridge.

The reversal spell, with emphasis on redirecting the Sorceress-seeking projectiles back at their attacker, suffers from the half-distraction. Even as she attempts to bolster the barrier with another influx of power, the chill of proper anxiety is suffusing her extremities. This has the decided flavor of a past snowy afternoon.

Oh gods…her again!

And there's that tiny screech again. The first round returns, bounces off the shield again with the enthusiasm of a stupid child for a faulty trampoline…..but it does seem to head back towards another of those famous tourist sights, the Petrin Lookout Tower. The one lodged in the shield fights for an instant longer, gutters like a birthday candle, and expires with what feels like a sigh of black magic, tumbling out of the shield to clink on the stones of the bridge.

Avi, of course, is not waiting. He's dragging her along, clearly afraid that if he passes beyond the verge of her shield, the would-be witchkiller will get him.

No more rounds come - most of the tourists are looking around in confusion. Was that a light show? Lucky for Strange, no one was quick enough off the phone block to catch the Sorceress with her metaphysical pantyhose around her ankles. There will be no youtube shaming later. It's a lucky day, for some version of 'lucky'. In the 'no one's brains are spattered all over the replica saints' kind of way. "We have to *run*," urges Avi. "He'll come! He can track us, somehow. We have to get behind the wards."

He? Avi gains himself a quick, confused and sharp glance before Strange busies herself with locking her knees and generally being the recalcitrant combatant. Offense at another assassination attempt curls heat of self-righteous anger through her and if anyone's got Mystical attention on her or is sensitive nearby, it's not too unlike the air being charged before the incipient bolt of lightning. Her aura snap, crackles, and pops and there's nothing childish about it.

"I'm dealing with this right — Avi, dammit!!!" The brunette is literally stumbling as the young man locks elbows with one of her arm and the shield weakens momentarily, to be seen in the shift in translucency. Thank the gods they're far enough down the bridge that it'll be a harried rush not lasting more than six seconds.

But that's a hellaciously long six seconds counted out by heartbeats racing at triple time and calmly as a metronome in turn — and that shield bobbles slightly despite the locked muscles in Strange's arm outstretched before her, fingers in a rictus of a mudra. Ankles and calves flash on the stone and from beneath the violet hemisphere. The one with the scope can probably feel the glancing pressure of amaranthine eyes in the direction of the Lookout Tower.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 51

Maybe it's adrenaline as overload. Maybe it's Avi's panic obscuring things like smoke - for whatever the stage of his academics, his magical training has barely begun. And thusly, he's leaking energy, spurred by fear. But….that glance finds only a blurred presence, indistinct, in the direction of the tower. It does not, however, take Holmes's deductive skills to figure out who the shooter must've been.

Their pace is drawing the eye of the tourists on the bridge, as that fear transmits itself through the previously placid mass of humanity, as if through a school of fish or flock of birds. It's only mild confusion, thus far. No one's really twigged to what's going on. Not yet.

Throwing another look towards the Tower, Strange attempts to pinpoint that hazy presence, but all for naught in the sense of accuracy. Oh yes, imagination runs amuck and there's only one person in her recent cataloguing of humanity who would attempt such a thing. The shielding continues to hold, but it flickers as they near the bastion. Her heart's in her throat, thrumming at a ridiculous pace, and this throws off the stability of the spell, grounded as it is in the more rigid tenants of Mystical mandalas.

It hits her, a suspicion as to how to cause maximum chaos and enable a hasty retreat at the same time.

"SHOOTER!!! SOMEONE'S GOT A GUN!!!" Her voice should carry well enough, possible match thrown to the leaking gasoline of growing worry in the crowd around them.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 38

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d100 for: 41

Janie does have a gun. And Strange can feel that strange sensation, like a screw twisting loose and rattling free, that means one's grasp on this particular Fate has slipped, just a hair. Lucky for her, so has the shooter's. There's an odd, metallic, almost cheerful 'ziiiiiing!', like someone scraping a pick down wired guitar strings. And Avi stumbles, red blossoming on the back of his shoulder. But it takes no anatomy to realize that's only lodged in the back of his shoulder, hitting nothing lethal.

It might've hit bone, but he's still running, not even really conscious of it. She can see the blood start to darken the back of his black jacket…..and feel the malice of the thing lodged in him. Then they're turning down a street that must surely be parallel with the shooter's line of fire. No more shots come. For behind them is the rising wave of panicked yells and screams, and that means the timer has begun in earnest. Jane's perch is hard to displace from, and in this age of the fear of organized terror, the police in European capitals are swift and eager as hounds.

From past medical experience, the Sorceress knows that adrenaline and a lack of active acknowledgement will keep Avi up and moving until his body literally slams on the brakes, be it from shock, blood loss — you name it. A bullet to the blade of the shoulder is no kinder than any other flat surface of the body.

"Avi, keep running!" Strange pants, even as they disappear into the shadow of the archway and emerge out the other side. On to a side street and safety seems so very close. Still — she attempts to keep that violacious shielding up, even as it continues to lurch about more dramatically now for her foreshortened running stride verses that of taller Avi. "Keep going, don't stop! Find us shelter and I can work from there!!!" Her voice is high, strung out from gasping for air.

There are sirens in the distance….heading towards the bridge. The skin between her shoulder blades crawls, as they turn yet again. Heading towards the castle, and putting her back to the park. But that sense of eyes on her back has faded. Have the cops driven away the shooter? Or has she gone for other means to pursue her prey?

Avi's fumbling at a door in a wall, having dodged around an alley corner….past a Starbucks of all things. They're like roaches, everywhere. "Here," he gasps. "Here. A safehouse." She can feel another layer of wards brush past her, like invisible curtains….then he's clattering up the stairs. Must be an apartment over the commercial properties below. She can see his aura ripple and flicker, the tide of adrenaline that's borne him along starting to ebb.

The scent of coffee fades as they both charge up the stairs, gravity's pull against their ascent the final marker in adrenaline loss and the quick onset of fatigue.

"Go-go-go-go-go!!!" Strange pants, pausing at the top of the first landing of the stairway to look back down towards the alleyway below. Avi continues on and still, she freezes, waiting, battling with Words at the tip of her tongue as the seconds pass. From about her waist, the red length unfurls and clasps to her shoulders. The crimson Cloak spreads wide behind her, not too unlike the hood of a cobra. Each thump of her heart sounds loudly in her ears and slowly, she raises her scarred hands up above her waistline, the shield slowly more opaque as intuition wars with prickly hubris.

"Come on…" she whispers, pinpointed eyes bright with the Mystical energy suffusing every nerve in her body. "Come on…!!!"

But there's quiet, for now. No pounding footsteps. No lurking presence rattling the doorknob and peering in the keyhole. Avi's lurching like a drunk, but he's drawing the curtains and the blinds. Surely that hunter can't see through those?

They're in a clean little flat of four rooms - the living room, marked with a scarlet trail of droplets as he stumbles into the bedroom. There's a kitchen off to one side, and a bedroom door straight ahead.

Quiet gives the Sorceress a reason to retreat into the apartment and slam the door shut. The locks are all turned with vehemence and Strange whispers some hasty, thin Words to strengthen them Mystically. It'll take some serious effort to break through the locks, at least — who knows of the quality of the door itself, should kick come to its surface?

Too easy to follow the trail of blood after the reeling rabbinical man. "Avi." The Name is said with a hint of Sorcerous force behind it, as if to stir the wounded young man from whatever shock might be slowly taking over him. Her chest still rises and falls and her aura hasn't settled one lick; it still crackles with disturbance. "Avi, you need to let me see the wound. Stay awake." The command books no argument. No small wonder this woman fought against Death herself; failure is not an option.

The face he turns on her is gray with fatigue and bloodloss, but who is a mere Durmstrang student to argue with the Sorcereress Supreme? He certainly wouldn't dare. Instead, he nods, and sits down limply on the toilet in the little bathroom. "There are first aid materials under the sink," he says. He's pawing feebly at the black jacket. That's a loss.

"No time for that," replies Strange tersely as she takes in the external effects of the bullet's damage within his face and posture. A few steps bring her up beside him. "Rotate, shoulder towards me."

She helps him get the jacket off and then whatever shirt lies beneath it, catching up and keeping him aright should he begin to wobble. Despite her stature, there are some serious lean muscles beneath that storm-blue battle-leather. "Son of a bitch," she hisses, eyeing the wound site. Indeed, into the shoulder blade, and she does some quick calculations. "Hold him up." The command is for the Cloak, impromptu nurse, and the fabric wraps around the young man with no more pressure than necessary to keep him from collapsing into a limp bundle on the floor. "Avi, this may sting."

A quick shot of an icy numbing spell, not too unlike a huge injection of Novicaine, and she goes to work — by working her small, scarred fingertips in to find that bullet. Poor Avi. Regardless of his reaction, her intent is to fish out the projectile and then slam a healing spell into him rather rudely. Mistress Death isn't getting this one!

He makes all sorts of uncouth noises. Oh, her magic does its work, numbing the pain, but….god all mighty, that feels weird. And then Strange's outerwear is supporting him. "You have a blanket for a familiar?" he asks, vaguely, trying to follow the Cloak with his eyes. Then there's the jolt of healing magic, and he's coughing in shock. No blood on his lips, thank God - the round did jam against bone.

But now it's a little malicious presence in her hand, still somehow containing magic, like a shard of a spell…..and almost aware, in an animal way. It even turns a little of itself, nuzzling into her palm as if it could reshape itself into that former sharp point and burrow in like a parasite. There's no rifling on it, of course.

Teeth flash in a snarl down at the bloodied bullet attempting to breach the scarring of her palm. Quick to spit out a sharp few Words, the projectile is contained within a hovering globe of shielding not too unlike the attempt to deflect its brethren shot earlier. The young man's blood is burnt from the burnished surface of the projectile in the process, leaving the fracture piece of foreign enspelling upon it.

The Cloak unwinds slowly from around Avi, allowing his own muscles to take control of keeping his face from the bathroom tiling and Strange huffs. "Cloak." It's a distracted correction for how she's pacing from the bathroom and out of the bedroom to the main living room, the furling hem in crimson the last to be seen on each turn. Her focus is all for the bullet hovering in open space within its containment above her palm. "Point me to the one who pulled the trigger," she purrs in venomous malevolence, taking brutal advantage of Mystical sympathy.

This means war.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 76

She can feel its struggle, its minute defiance….but it yields. It's only a tiny little thing, not at all sentient. Obediently, it turns like a compass needle, pointing back the way they came.

Even as Strange's lambent eyes shift to follow its alignment, she's swallowing thickly. Son of a bitch. It's pointing towards the gods-damned front door.

"Avi." It's a quick hiss even as she slowly sinks into a battle-ready stance, knees bent and the bullet still hovering as compass rose towards that direction. Unconsciously, she bares her teeth again. "Avi, hide yourself!!!" Another quick, rough spit of a command as the air draws in close around her. The crimson Cloak seems to ready itself as well, drawing in tightly about her and quivering in a fine thrum, as if knowing it might need to deflect a potential attack. The Sorceress waits on a tightrope wire's edge, so very ready to obliterate anything that so much as breathes beyond the threshold.

But there's nothing there. She can feel it questioning, that little piece of misshapen metal. There's no sense of anyone immediately beyond, nothing lurking.

At first.

Then something scratches - quick, impatient, imperious. Raking, not at the doorknob, but at the bottom.


And the Mystical cubic force of a fully-grown charging Indian elephant smashes through that front door and takes it to smithereens. Shards of broken wood and metal hinges and sparkler-bright magic in silvery-red hues explode out into the hallway, a proper detonation if there was any. Dust swirls through the air in its wake, lit within by random remaining twinkles of offensive enchantment and Strange is equally quick to disappear behind another bruise-blue shielding spell, this one in a complete sphere about her body. She can be seen through it with hands shining like fallen stars and loose clothing as well as Cloak riffling in an invisible breeze.

There is no clatter of dropped weaponry. No tumble of a body down the stairs, no fleeing feet. Down the little hallway, barely more than a landing, that leads to the stairs down, nothing stirs. The dust startles to settle.

Then, first one, then two, pointy black ears appear above the top of the stairs. Followed by a pair of green eyes. "….rrroooowl?" says a small voice interrogatively, before a black kitten hauls itself up onto the landing and then comes scampering down the hall, tail up, sure of her welcome.

She'd be loathe to declare that she didn't flinch at the sudden appearance of the kitten, but — indeed, the little black scrapper nearly gets bowled back down the hallway and is saved by the abrupt cessation of the next spell. Strange literally bites her tongue, the sharp lance of pain knocking the incantation from its mental tracks as the creature approaches the apartment's gaping doorway.

A little gasp marks Avi's presence behind her rather than hidden away as originally requested and boy howdy, can that petite Sorceress glower.

"Avi, I told you to hide!" she growls, momentarily averting her eyes to catch sight of his shoe, sleeve cuff, hand, before glancing back towards the black kitten.

"My door," he says, plaintively, sitting down on the couch with the air of a man sitting down before he falls down, heavy as a sack of sand. The kitten goes blithely skittering past Strange, ignoring cosmic power as cats so often do, and leaps into Avi's lap, purring. Then, belatedly, "I am sorry, Sorcereress."

Strange relaxes from her battle-stance only in the manner of the archer adjusting posture; the bow-string of her next spell remains drawn tightly in her mind, singing Mystically to be released. Those scarred hands remain upheld and the shield lightens, indicative of its intensity of defense and concentration by caster.

"Don't apologize, there's no reason to," she replies quietly, voice still full of steel. She ascertains the open doorway and the next sigh is more resigned. "If anything, I owe you a door. Allow me." Even as the shield falls entirely, the pieces of door, minute and stake-sized alike, are rising from the hallway floor and gravitating back towards the lintel. "A cat is a good familiar," she adds, an invitation for side conversation while she attempts to fix the door she so very busted.

"Who's a good familiar? Yes, it's you! It's you!" Blame stress and the wound and all the magic, which can be intoxicating. Because Avi is petting the kitten, who is purring like a German motor. Then, after a cough, he remembers himself. "Forgive me. Ah…..the killer who attacked us. He has attacked many….and won against most of those," Shock in his voice, albeit restrained. He's still in the stage where he can believe that magicians are necessarily invincible, especially against such petty things as mundane weapons.

Involved in knitting the pieces of the door back together, Strange surely can't be blamed for her distant-sounding reply, even thoughtful as it is.

"Not 'he'. Not a 'he' at all." Another large shard melts back into consistent placement, seeming to have never been sent to smithereens down the hallway in the first place. Nearly done. "She attempted my own life before. If I corner her, she'll wish she didn't." As the sun rises and sets, so mote it be. This is war, after all. "I'll savor the look on her face when I do." A slow sigh suddenly halted. "Oh, yes, the Golem. Tell me more."

When she looks back at Avi, perhaps to query that following silence, she'll find him gaping at her, even as the littlest familiar indulges herself in grooming dust and magic from her fur. "…..she?" he parrots back at her. "How do you know?"

With the door fully knitted back to completion, Strange breaks the mudras and her focus and then stands up fully. Another sigh and she looks at Avi with a smile that doesn't quite come to be. Rueful, absolutely.

"She's hunted me before. I returned fire, if you will, and came to blows with her. She is an exceptional hand-to-hand fighter, with…a steel arm as well. Perhaps not steel, some type of metal. No mistaking her sex, Avi, not during that whole…debacle." Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, she turns to eye the door again.

Something…something just won't lay down entirely within her mind. Sixth sense, maybe? Or lingering adrenaline and survival skills in that portion of her lizard brain.

"What else do you know?" he asks, humbly, as he gets himself up off the couch. "And would you like tea or food? There is not much here, but some…" The kitten wanders over to give Strange a very critical sniffing, before reaching up to put her paws as high on the sorcereress's leg as she can. Hey. Hey. Pay attention to me.

"Unfortunately little," replies said Sorceress after a long moment of silence. "I was able to utilize some hairs left behind on the Cloak after our spat, but their sympathetic resonance failed far more quickly than I expected. I suspect the Darker Arts, Avi. She should not have been clouded to my Sight so quickly. I would have continued searching, but your missive reached me."

Okay, kitten, fine. Little munchkin is picked up and slung half over the petite brunette's shoulder like some ragdoll. Never mine the tiny claws to the battle-leathers, it's easy to stitch back together with enchanted thread.

"The Golem, Avi. This was your missive. Tell me of it." Her eyes, still faintly shining with frosted-lilac light, flick to the young man and linger. "Tea, please," she adds, neglecting to mention any need for food entirely.

Good. Because the kitten starts kneading with enthusiasm, and purring. "Yes," Avi says, quietly, brushing at himself, as he goes into the small kitchen. "Yes, of course. I do not know where it is. Not the thing itself. Only one does, and he has gone into hiding for fear of this killer. But….it is not enough to know of the Golem. One must have the Golem's heart…and that is not far from here. Hidden, but….not well enough, I fear, for this one. And if she can not find it….her masters must know I know where it is."

Strange nods to herself, beginning a slow pacing back and forth across the expanse of the living room. She can hear the preparation of tea in the background even as she flicks through the annals of her memories regarding the Golem and its history.

"Let's keep it simple then," she replies as she paces back towards him, hands steepled and angled outwards, a walking saint in celestine and carmillion. The kitten is left slung across her shoulder to do as it pleases, be this hang there and knead or flump to the floor or become some sort of bizarre furry stole. The crimson Cloak remains still, likely to avoid attracting its attention. "You tell me where to find the heart, we beat the coward at her own game, and toast it over a steaming cup of caj, hmm?" That charming grin is a good part smirk in its own way, showcasing dimples and coyness alike despite what crow's feet linger at the corners of her eyes, only give to weariness in her figure.

The kitten rides proudly on Strange's shoulder, balancing. Look at me, I'm a real familiar now. Yes, I am. Avi goes through the motions with the ease of long familiarity. He smiles back at her, hesitantly. Someone's going to end up with a wizard crush. These things do happen. "The KGB Museum," he says, without hesitation. …..what the….

That smile slips away to be replaced by a pensive frown on her part.

"I'm sorry, did you just say the KGB Museum?" She likely heard him correctly, even with the purring of the kitten's ribs nearly smushed against her ear, but still…what.

There's a tiny raspy tongue on her earlobe. "Your hearing is perfectly good, Sorcereress," pipes up a little voice, from her shoulder. Kitten has advice. And snark. "I did," Avi affirms. Kitten gets a scolding look. "Mesic, be respectful."

Snarky kitten is nearly squished between shoulder and said ear for the sudden lick and voice. Muttering a quiet curse (not Curse) under her breath, Strange cranes her head to eye the little black runt.

"Mesic." A little touch of the Sorceress's Mystical finger presses upon the Name, not too unlike a tigress raising whiskers and lips briefly at an errant cub. "Thank you." Back to Avi, those steely-blues go. "I can fortify your apartment until further notice before I leave to fetch the heart. Will that do? Or does your mentor have a safe-house?"

Mesic, not lacking in sass, tries her teeth against the curve of Strange's ear. Not even a nip, just a press. Avi clearly does not like the idea of being left alone. "I don't know," he says, honestly. "This killer, she has magic." He looks at the bullet, where it remains hovering.

With a one-eyed wince, the Sorceress reaches up and scruffs little Mesic. The kitten is detached claw by little claw if need be and then put upon the ground.

"Git, you," she mutters before glancing at the bullet. Indeed, it remains hovering, though she'll have to align herself before the door again to see if it's shifted in compass needling towards the shooter. "I can't have you come with me, Avi. It's not safe. Who is your mentor?" Strange asks again, her eyes shifting back to the young man. The scent of steeping tea slowly wafts into the living room.

There's a backwards glance from Mesic, but she struts off to the kitchen and starts crunching kibble. Avi inclines his head, for a moment. And then he says, softly, "Rabbi Loew." Which is rather like claiming your English teacher is William Shakespeare.

The rabbinical young man may blush all the more for the pointed attention upon him now. This is the quicksilver observance of all Strange can see in the moment, devoid of emotion and completely analytical, the same focus she once granted the broken bodies beneath her scalpels.

"Really." It's not disbelieving, just…asking for a secondary affirmation, perhaps.

He spreads his hands in a helpless little gesture. Avi knows very well how absurd it sounds. "It is true," he says. "He has been with us since the war." Which war needs no naming.

"I don't doubt you." And by her tone, she doesn't. Strange nods once and yet continues to frown at Avi. "Does your Rabbi Loew have a safehouse? It seems counter-intuitive for him to ignore the need for such a thing, especially in light of the war and his actions during its progression."

Her pacing takes her back towards the bedroom briefly before the about-face. It's graceful, in a way, sending the Cloak to furling about her person briefly. It also brings her to the bullet and she pauses to ascertain its current alignment of direction on what invisible compass it sits upon.


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