1964-08-25 - Dogged Travels
Summary: Poor Lindon, stalking horse for the Sorcerer Supreme — and wards and librarians always tattle.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange lindon lamont 

Poor Lindon. Life may have been easy for a few days, possibly a week. Who knows if the visions hit him like freight trains and left him befuddled beyond reason or if they spared him to a few days of enjoying the nice weather?

Still…if only the Archive knew what stalked him. Steel-blue eyes dominate a rather darkly-furred face — and this time, no feline, but the other common-place and domesticated species: the canine. It's easy to keep up with the librarian when one has four long legs meant to take the wear and tear of herding cattle and treeing wildcats. Lean muscle under a sleek, short-haired coat of black-blue means he could, in theory, trot through the night given a good reason. Those flop ears and whippy tail combine with the rakish build to take the pitbull-ish edge from initial impression, but the Blue Lacy hound is a rarity outside of the Midwest. People give him space…and he chuffs for it, human laughter contained within jowls.

The eldest of three is entertaining his impish streak today — and testing his pseudo-apprentice in all one fell swoop. Sorcerer Supreme, in guise of dog, approaches Lindon from behind at an easy lope, light eyes resting on him as target of mischief.

Work, home, the next day and work, then home. It's the life Lindon has dreamt of. It's uncomplicated. He likes uncomplicated. He's got a bag of groceries, and he's going to go home and make dinner for himself and Lamont. Then there will be quiet time in the library with the kittens. Bliss.

He doesn't see his doom coming. He's like a calf that has strayed but is enjoying its stroll. The groceries hang low in a mesh bag with hands he holds, arms swinging just a little with his stride. People tend not to notice him, and he also likes this.

Those light eyes narrow all the slightest as the dog considers the bag of groceries. That wet-leather nose twitches to catch the scent of what could be something delicious — and his canine stomach gurgles even as the Sorcerer's mind beneath it grimaces. In the end, with tongue-tip perches atop lower teeth, the Blue Lacy hound kicks up the pace and rounds out in front of Lindon, errant member of the library's herd of workers.

Planting himself in place with body long-side facing the man, the dog lifts its triangular flopped ears and stares. The crimson handkerchief about the canine's neck gives it the impression of having a home and not being some stray from an alleyway. He waits to see what reaction he gains. That lanky tail slowly waves back and forth, no true indicator of feelings with its neutral plane of motion. After that…the grocery bag is the next target.

You know, for science…and to keep his erstwhile apprentice on his toes.

This time, Strange will stay entirely silent until the very last possible, logical second.

There is chicken in that bag, double bagged for freshness (and not getting chicken juice on everything), but even double-bagged, tonight's cordon bleu can still be smelled, and it smells delightful to a doggy nose. There is also meaty cat food in tins.

Then there is a dog, and Lindon startles, limbs flailing. "Augh! Nice dog!" Big dog. Maybe not huge, but bigger than Lindon would prefer. It looks strong, too. "Good dog," he says gently, holding out a hand to stave off the beast. "I know you smell cats on me, but…"

His groceries! Lindon tries to pull the bag back, but all that does is cause a bundle of celery to tumble out onto the pavement. "No! No, not good doggy!"

Not so good doggy, indeed! No one taught this one to sit or stay or not jump, the scoundrel!

What a great sound from Lindon though. The Blue Lacy lolls his tongue out and there's a highly-amused 'urf!' before the handkerchief-bedecked monster dives for the bag. The tug-of-war is brief and fierce, the celery definitely counted as a loss and a few of those cat cans rolling away into the street, but in the end, the dog has the better grip and jaw-strength to wrench the bag from the librarian's hands.

Wagging that whip-like tail like mad, he darts around under any grabby hands and prances away down the street, nearly side-stepping as he looks back at Lindon. A dozen feet away, he stops and makes a burring 'urf' sound again through closed teeth. The chicken in the bag shows for the angle of the opening and a few cans still remain in the bottom, magically inclined to stay put. Wag-wag-wag: someone's enjoying themselves immensely.

Poor Lindon, so awkwardly he sets about gathering up what he can. The celery, the cat food, a box of the rice dish he means to serve as a side, a loaf of bread, squished. Soup cans. They all lead a trail toward the dog, and Lindon tries to collect it all. "No, no, no, no, no," he groans.

He gets to the dog, though he gives it a wide berth, his arms laden. "Put the bag down," he says in a sing-song, placating tone. "Just put the bag down, good doggy." He's waffling on this good/bad dog thing. He's also got no free arms to make grabby with, and people are going about their business New York style.

The Blue Lacy tilts its head to one side as Lindon approaches, his arms occupied with lost items, and that tail swishes a little faster still.

Bipbipbip — more angled retreat, not too unlike the trick-stepping of the Andalusian stallions so famous for banner-manes in snowy white and light hooves. Always just out of reach, never relinquishing the strap of the bag from ivory teeth. If the dog looks positively like it's attempting to not laugh — well, anyone making the observation wouldn't be wrong. Note that nothing else spills from the bag at this point.

"What a cute dog," a woman comments to her husband as they walk by. "So helpful, attempting to carry the groceries." Wag-wag-wag, that tail.

"Should be on a leash," mutters the husband, giving Lindon an unimpressed look. Tail go less wag, squinty-squint from dog's steely-blue eyes.

Lindon offers the woman and her husband a weak smile. "Yes, he's something else." The husband gets an apologetic look. "Yeah, he should be." And whoever's dog he is should be getting that lecture. He pats his leg. That summons dogs, right? "Come here," he says, trying to sound brisk and bright. "Bring me the bag, boy."

Meanwhile, he's harboring dreams of lecturing someone out there so much, for so long. About dog safety. And the sanctity of a man's groceries. He creeps a step closer to the dog, holding out that hand. So cautious. He doesn't want to get bitten!

He can probably almost hear the thoughts as the dog gives him a dismissive look, ears flicked slightly back. Come here? Come here, the man says. Oh ho, how silly, these hairless bipeds, come here. Nay. Shan't.

That nose sniffs back and forth at the approaching hand and the Sorcerer is momentarily diverted for what he can pick up from it. How fascinating — skin-salt, parchement paper, metallic ink, pencil carbon, cat, aftershave, chicken oils, fish essence from the cat cans, the pale greenery of the celery, and even more. Beneath it all, the Sight does this weird amalgamation of it all and underneath he can catch impressions of Archival notes: musty tomes, sterile air, and the clotting of dried blood from past nosebleeds, a possible reaction to a mind overwhelmed.

Woe betwide Lindon if he ever tries to sneak off again. This hound dog's got his scent now.

Bipbipbip — a little dance away again and the ears perk forwards. Another little tilt of the head gives the dog a puppyish air. A teenaged boy walking past dares a sudden patpat between those velvety ears and laughs.

"Did your dog bag your bag, man? Far out." Someone's been smoking the reefer. The Sorcerer wrinkles his nose and freezes long enough to consider the implication that someone just patted his head.

Yeah, how doe sit feel, Strange? Become a dog, get patted.

Lindon groans. Teenagers. "Yeah," he says with an exasperated sigh. He gives the dog a pleading look. How he suffers, and how he's been led away so easily off his usual route, should someone try to find him.

"You can have the chicken," he offers, as if the dog can understand him. No, he's just talking to try to win the dog over, nice and friendly. "Just give me the rest. We can have a nice salad for dinner. Lamont will be okay with that."

Another tilt of the dog's head, the opposite direction now, and he appears to come to a decision. The bag is set on the cement between them with noted delicacy for a canine and jowly lips are licked to remoisten them as he lifts his head, ears raised and tail slowly slicing through the air behind his muscular haunches.

Then, in utter opposition to the supposed earlier intent, he goes about collecting the handful of cans that rolled away from the satchel initially. Sure, they're lightly slobbered upon given the lips on the breed, but one by one, they're returned into the bag itself, even stacked carefully as not to further mismold the chicken within.

Once the task is complete, the Blue Lacy takes a few steps back and sits, observing Lindon again. On the dog's chest, visible in just the right angle of sunlight, a weird marking in silvery-white, more an Escher's stamp than anything else…unless you know your esoteric sigils.

Lindon just stops and stares. He knows esoteric sigils much more than he knows dogs. He peers, and he says, "You're not a normal dog, are you." Thankfully sans the condescending 'boy.' No, for cats it's ittle bittle kitty witty. For dogs, it's 'you're a dog.'

He ventures a step closer. "Are you someone's familiar?" he asks. Is this a kidnapping attempt? He looks around. He's not on his route. And he stands torn. Leave the chicken and go back to familiar turf, lose the chicken and dinner. Resolute, he steps closer to the bag and says, grudgingly, "Good dog." Still, he peers at that sigil and racks his mind for where he might know it.

Oh, it's — it's so strong, the inclination to say something right now, but the Sorcerer decides on a little bit longer — a little bit more of testing the disguise since there's suspicion but still no identification. Indeed, where is the limit between canine anonymity and Sorcerous identity?

Science. It's all for science.

The bag is left unmolested and so is the librarian, though those light eyes fall to his reaching hand and back to his face, questioning in a way.

Then, rising to his paws, the Blue Lacy trots back the way they were originally traveling and glances over his shoulder at Lindon. Well now, come along, he seems to say, even quarter-turning again to 'urf' at the man.

Lindon puts all his groceries back in his bag. The poor wilted tops of his celery. He gathers up the bag then, mindful of his squished bread, which shall have to become stuffing for a roast chicken. He looks at the dog, and in some ways, he's a dense person, especially when it comes to reading people.

But the dog? The dog he understands. He follows after, but it's because he has to go that direction anyway to get back on his route. Which changes every other day, but today this is it and it must be adhered to because the moon will fall from orbit and kill all life on Earth if Lindon deviates from The Routine.

"You're a weird dog," he informs the Blue Lacy. Sigil on the chest, playing follow the leader. This is why he likes cats.

A routine can be understood, even if the one wearing this canine guise and handkerchief-Cloak has his interrupted regularly. Having been a suitable interruption for the librarian's task of shopping, he considers his job half-complete. The question is…how much wonderment can he squeeze from Lindon by not only keeping easy pace ahead of the man, but also leading them directly back to Lamont's residence?

Follow the whippy tail and cattle-dog haunches and tah-dah: unerringly, they end up on the sidewalk that eventually meeting with the front gates and walkway of the mansion proper. The Blue Lacy looks back over his shoulder at Lindon and…smiles? Oh yes, that's a definitive smile upon doggy lips, flashing teeth to boot.

Lindon's brow knits with confusion as the dog keeps walking along his route. He knows the dog isn't following him because the dog's in front of him. Is it following his scent from the other day? Even for a dog that's a tall order, not to mention why would the dog do this?

Yet the dog leads him all the way home, and he follows with growing wonder. The dog must be someone's familiar. It's the only logical thing. Where is that sigil from? Surely he knows it, somewhere deep down. When they get to the gates of the manor, he stops and tells the dog, "If I bring you in, you'll chase my cats."

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d2 for: 1

The dog seems to consider Lindon again with that unusual level of sentience behind those bright blue eyes. He then sniffs at the cement by the gate before flopping down upon his side, that tongue still hanging out slightly. Another few sniffs of passing air currents and then the attention is back upon the librarian.

Lips lined in black coloration seem to smile again and form the words in baritoned English with a frosting of Mid-Western twang. "The only tail I chase belongs to the Witch, Lindon." A slap of that lanky tail on the ground and he adds, "Abracadabra," followed by a chuff of a laugh. No change in form, not just yet.

Lindon probably knows that sigil now: the Anomaly Rue, stamp of the Vishanti. The handkerchief might make sense as well for all that it wiggles a corner hem up at the man.

Lindon gives the dog a flat look. Bad dog. He doesn't have the guts to say it, but it's written there on his face. Naughty, naughty dog. "Strange," he says. "My bread." That's what this is about, not worrying the bejeezus out of him and making people talk to him on the street.

Plus his cheeks color at the mention of the Witch and tails being chased. "To what do I owe the honor?" His bland tone doesn't make it sound much like he's finding this an honor, not at all.

"The honor of my acquaintance, unfortunately." Strange at least has the werewithal to lay back those ears, canine equivalence of an unspoken apology. "I was out testing the disguise and saw you and couldn't resist. I certainly didn't expect the groceries to go everywhere." His tone is calm, not in the least amused, and he meets the librarian's eyes again, thwapping that tail against the cement once.

"I'll have you note that I do have something to offer for what duress I put you through. A dinner reservation." The Sorcerer then names off the premiere restaurant in New York proper, a place where reservations mean potentially paying the doorman as well as planning months in advance. "It's no skin from my back to change the name on the reservation. I haven't told Wanda of it just yet and I can always schedule another reservation."

Lindon's eyes widen. "You'd do that? For me?" Over a bag of groceries! Lindon stammers, "That… that's… I… thank you!" Good dog! "That'll be great. Maybe Lamont and I can still get that tailored suit we've been thinking about." Because off the rack, with his long limbs and thin frame, have not been kind to his sense of style. He can't go to that restaurant with wrists showing and highwaters at his ankles.

"All's forgiven," Lindon says, suddenly animated and smiling. "Do you want to come in?" He opens the gate, making way for the dog to do just that. "You should stay like a dog," he says, "for when Lamont gets home. We can trick him." Beneath that staid librarian exterior, there's a librarian with a sense of humor.

Rising to his paws, the Blue Lacy hound indulges in a stretch both forwards and backwards, momentarily showcasing the quintessential 'Downward-facing Dog' of yoga. A full-body shake and the Sorcerer nods his head.

"I have no issue with staying in this form. All's the more to practice and that wisdom," he murmurs, following alongside Lindon. "I offer because you were my stalking horse, Lindon, and I did it without warning. Karma would look poorly upon me if I didn't bring favor as well as smushed bread in my wake." Another chuff of a laugh, more bark this time, and he pauses before entering the mansion to allow the wards to recognize him. Change the skin, but the eternal, internal light of the Sorcerer Supreme changes not. A brush of appreciation for the shadowy spells and he pauses in the foyer.

The whole place is magnified to him now with the ability to pick out individual scents. That black nose twitches away even as he eyes his surroundings. "I have no inclination to chase the kittens, by the by," he informs the librarian as he accompanies him. Claws tick-tick upon wooden flooring as he pads along. The presumption is they travel first to the kitchens to put away product getting too warm.

"I appreciate your adherence to karma," Lindon says. He goes into the kitchen to put groceries away. "That's good," he says, "I've heard some dogs get along with cats all right."

The same might not be said of cats getting on with dogs.

They come tumbling downstairs to greet Lindon, the giver of pettings and cuddles, and they stop short, fur floofing up, backs arched. They prance sideways in unison and Pye, eyes huge, spits and hisses. Athena hides behind her, letting slip a low 'rrrrrrrr.' At the merest movement Strange makes, Pye swipes the air and spits again. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Lindon glances at the kittens. "Babies," he says in a lilting tone, "It's okay, it's Strange. He's a friend." Kitties get baby talk. The dog gets an awkward, apologetic pat on the head.

The first pat lands. The second gets ducked and the Blue Lacy sidles away from Lindon, giving him a hard glance.

"That's disturbing, stop it," he grumbles, moving off to the mat beneath the kitchen sink and sitting there. The kittens are observed and he wiggles his nose at them. "They smell like hair and fish." Perhaps the librarian knew this — maybe now he does. "I'm not offended. I can't imagine Aralune getting along any better with this form until she recognized me. I won't risk it without Wanda around regardless. You remember what happened the last time someone dealt with Malk scratches."

Oh yes. That wicker basket. It must be around here somewhere…

"I thought dogs liked that," Lindon says. The kittens keep a wary eye on the dog, but they don't run. No, they're not ceding their territory to… to a dog. The wicker basket is by the door, making a lovely umbrella stand. Lindon tries to mold the bread into some loaflike shape again, but all is lost for it. He stashes it in the breadbox.

Aralune sure liked Lamont," he says with a small smile. Aralune is so pretty. Of course she's capable of doing no wrong, even if it did have Lamont hallucinating.

Pye is the bravest of the kittens. She creeps forward, eyes dilated, nose sniffing wildly, and she looks deeply offended. How? WHY?! The dog smells like a dog. What the actual… Kitty creeps closer, hisses at Strange just to let him know things aren't cool here, and smacks her chops, drooling in her caution and outrage.

"I'm not a dog," …say the dog, probably earning himself a moment to laugh about later. "— and the kittens don't smell like roses or blackcurrent tea. It's not something I'd appreciate at length." He eyes the approaching Pyewacket with mild interest. The Blue Lacy hound manages to sit entirely statue-still and if Lindon's beginning to understand the Sorcerer's inclinations towards humor, the kitten will be allowed another foot of approach before the reaction comes. Consider it a test.

"It concerns me at times, how much Aralune appreciates the amount of bad luck attached to Cranston. I've taken to shutting her away for his general safety. Plus, how in the seven hells am I supposed to run my lessons when he's in the midst of a Fae hallucination?" Shutting his mouth sharply stands in for a click of his tongue.

"To be fair," Lindon says, "They are mostly hair and fish." He glances down at them, brows lifted and a dumb grin on his face. "So fierce," he says. Pye growls. Athena hisses. She's staying back while Pye comes closer. The merest movement on Strange's part gets a swipe and a hiss and tiny paws prancing back. Slowly, she makes a foot's worth of progress. This great unknown, who smells familiar but is a dog. She will get to the bottom of this. She is Lamont's cat to a T.

"I'd like to think his luck has gotten somewhat better," Lindon says. "He's got a nice home life, and things have been rather nice." He glances to Strange, and the urge to put down a bowl of water and some chicken is strong, but he resists. Instead, he puts the kettle on for tea. "That might be an interesting lesson," he says. "Keeping control while in the midst of a Fae hallucination."

"Yes, perhaps that would be a lesson in and of itself, how to continue functioning through the effects of a Malk scratch." The Sorcerer in hound form does sound contemplative of the notion. "You know, for the innocent front you put forwards, Lindon, you are purveyor of terribly intriguing ideas now and then."

The brave approach of Pyewacket eventually earns her the response of a sudden foward pounce, nowhere near her little fluffed body and accompanied by a low woofing "Boo!" — but certainly abrupt enough to induce some alternate reaction from the kitten. He settles back into his sit and that thin tail whaps the mat. "And while you stand there clutching your pearls, I'm ensuring that they have a healthy respect for dogs. We lost half a litter of kittens once on the farm to the neighbor's cattle-dog when I was young." Lindon gets a side-glance with perked ears. Hey, the logic is sound.

Lindon admits, "I've had talks with Maximus where I couldn't stop talking and it's a wonder the world is still standing." He shakes his head. Sometimes he can't help it. Words just comes out. He sets out three cups for tea, expecting Lamont home any moment now. Just preparing tea for a boyfriend and a dog.

Ever see a kitten try to escape in every direction at once? Paws flail, panicked hissing and spitting flies freely. On the smooth wooden floor, scrabbling paws run in place. When Pye finally bounces away her hindquarters are dodging this way and that. Athena, just watching, hisses and smacks Pye out of general nervousness.


Lindon's shoulders shake with silent laughter.

The wards…..Strange remains Strange, even in his fursuit. The wards know and have admitted him. And the master of the house isn't within reach, or Lamont'd've come boiling out of whatever corner he'd been lurking in to greet him, with that signature on the radar. Just Sorcerer, Archive, and two kitties.

And then Strange, at least, can feel the wards' attention turn elsewhere, that presence in the basement perking metaphorical ears in greeting, and that familiar smoky signature insinuates itself along the warding lines, touching and testing like a spider plucking its web to see what it's caught. A jolt of surprise, and then the footsteps on the walk are audible, the key in the lock….followed by Lamont in a terribly comfortable if faintly old-fashioned seersucker suit and panama hat. The latter he hangs in the hall way, before coming to find them.

"You should probably stop talking at some point when you're around him," replies the Blue Lacy dog to the librarian and then he abruptly stiffens. Those triangular folded ears lift and he turns his head towards the direction of the main entryway. Indeed, on top of the animal's legendary possible sixth sense for the metaphysical, his Sorcerous senses do ping to the wards announcing the arrival of the master of this manor.

"Don't tell him. It's a test," whispers Strange quickly and then he settles onto his side on the mat, just a good old hound-dog interested in what Lindon's doing with whatever's on the countertop beyond his immediate sight. The crimson handkerchief about his neck settles suspiciously flat and unwrinkled despite being worn around a canine neck. No sunlight to catch on the interesting marking on his chest here and thus, he's simply gunmetal-black in coloration, from nose to toes and tail — save for those steely-blue eyes.

"We don't see each other as much," Lindon says. "And yeah, it's a bad habit." He glances in the direction the dog looks. He knows to trust the Sorcerer's instincts. He doesn't stiffen though, he just smiles and pours the tea. "Hello, darling," he calls out, and no, he says nothing, he just winks at the dog before Lamont steps into the room.

Meanwhile, the young cats dart past Lamont, running away, hissing and spitting and fleeing like the hounds of hell were snapping at their hind paws. Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope.
Lindon considers the dog, then takes the chicken out of the fridge. "If you're good, I'll let you have some."

He heads back to the kitchen, having removed tie and suitjacket. So he's just in a crisp white dress shirt and those subtly striped pants. The cats' apparent panic has him peering in. And then there's the dog. A beat, two, as he looks from Lindon to the hound and then back again….settling finally on Strange. "That seems a useful guise," he tells Strange. "Though passersby remark dogs more than they do cats, I think. Stray cats are everywhere. Purebred dogs…..not as much." Then there's amusement creeping in to the lines around his eyes. "I'm sorry," he adds. "If I'd known you were coming in this form, geshe, I'd've stopped and picked up a box of milkbones."

The hound looks over from Lindon's dressing of said chicken at the Shadow and has time to indulge in one guileless whop of whippy tail to the mat before it appears that the wards have ratted him out. Damn wards.

A grin, complete with tongue, follows the sass and the Sorcerer yawns widely, showing off ivory teeth on par with wolves. "If I'd known your wards had the demi-sentience to record my presence as Sorcerer Supreme, I wouldn't have bothered. You'd be surprised at what New Yorkers will dismiss — or perhaps not," he says in a sudden change of tack. "Oh, and Lindon suggested that I subject you to a lesson in resisting the hallucinations of a Malk scratch during the next lesson. I think it'll be of sufficient challenge. Wanda has a store of catnip on par with none other." He looks to the librarian. "An excellent suggestion, Lindon."

Lindon says quickly, "The words just came out, Lamont." He gives his darling a look of appeal. He knows how Lindon blurts out ideas from amusing to dangerous without thinking about it. "But you have to admit, it would be a useful thing to now how to do, all things considered." He smiles weakly. I love you? Says that smile.

He busily sets back to preparing dinner. Not cordon bleu tonight, not after the Bread Fiasco. The squashed loaf of bread that couldn't be saved is being torn up and soaked in broth to make a stuffing for what will be a roast. "Anyway, I didn't realize you were home. I was just trying to get dinner on." And giving Strange Ideas.

Oh, thanks, honey, says the look that Lamont shoots Lindon. But the Shadow's all cool amusement still. "You have a very distinctive aura," he concedes. "They recognized you that way." More accurately, that presence in the basement did - it's been more awake since he trotted it out on Illyana's little adventure in Limbo. At the mention of the Malk, he inclines his head in assent. "I'm sure," his voice is bland, but there's that rueful look in his eyes. Aralune, his fluffy nemesis. "I am just home a moment ago," he adds. He forgets that the wards aren't 'audible' to Lindon, as it were.

There's a soft snort from hound-Strange as he lays his head on his paws, bright eyes no less attentive for the relaxed sprawl on the mat.

"The curse of the aural fingerprint," he grouses, somewhat to himself. Lindon was fun to lead along, he'll admit that with a cheeky sheepishness. Lamont would have been twice as fun, but alas — another time, perhaps, as another guise. It's educational after all. One must be attentive of one's surroundings. Who knows what hides behind the innocence of a simple creature at times? A sigh and he abruptly raises his head. "Is that tea I smell?"

A tea-hound, even as a hound. Who would have guessed.

"Oh, yes," Lindon says. "It's one of those herbal brews that you like. Lamont and I like it, too." He gestures to the tea service and asks Lamont, "Would you, dear? My hands have chicken on them." Alas for the kittens, no begging tonight. They're hiding under the credenza in the dining room, tails aswish.

Lindon does seem confident in the kitchen, in ways he doesn't outside. In fact once he's in this haven, he flows so much more easily. It's all about comfortable, safe spaces. He hasn't even told on Strange. Why? Because he's a good friend.

And there's an ease with the two of them together, in the shelter and privacy of home. Strange is a friendly observer, after all. One of the few they needn't hide from. "Of course," Lamont says, setting the kettle on, measuring out scoops of the loose tea into steel diffusers. Strange, of course, will have to lap from a bowl…..but he can save that step for last.

IT should be absurd, this one-time dark avengers being perfectly domestic….but then, age mellows even the hardest of hearts.

"Oh, very good."

The Blue Lacy rises to his paws and indulges in one last nose-to-tail shake before bouncing up onto hind feet. Mist in moonlight and celestine intermixes with the mirage-heat from the desert and then, no more hound. Instead, Strange in his usual 6'2" of Sorcerous form, complete in battle-leathers and Cloak that hangs to his boots. His smile is all charm for a passing second before it settles as he leans on the ledge of the kitchen sink, arms crossed before his chest.

"I'll take a cup, not a saucer. I'll also not stay for dinner, just for tea. I'm expected elsewhere soon enough." Ah, the life of the Guardian of Earth's Reality — never a quiet moment unless it's stolen. "You may as well tell him of the dinner reservation, Lindon," adds the good Doctor, looking far too pleased with himself in a muted way.

"The roast will take awhile anyway," Lindon says. "But plenty of time for tea until then." Once he gets it in the oven, he washes his hands. He takes the transformation in stride. He's used to these things by now, living with a wizard and befriending another.

Certain entities are not used to it and already firmly in the land of Nope. From under the credenza, there's a plaintive 'rrrrr.' Lindon laughs nigh silently. "She's your familiar," he tells Lamont. "By the way, they don't like dogs."

Then he perks up as Strange reminds him. "Oh! Doctor Strange is giving us a reservation to…" Here, he rattles off the name of an expensive and exclusive restaurant. The kind that gets booked out for weeks. "I was just thinking maybe I could get that tailored suit so I don't show up with my wrists and ankles showing."

He is momentarily taken aback by that….and in then nicest way. "Of course," Lamont says, finally, smiling slowly. "I know just the tailor….and he'll do rush work for a little more. I'll take care of it." He turns that smile on Strange. "Thank you. To what do we owe the honor?"

Strange gives his pseudo-apprentice an enigmatic glance before smiling lop-sidedly, an attempt to deflect the inquisitive line of conversation.

"Karma is the great leveler of us all in the end." An equally enigmatic reply shadowed in amusement. "If your tailor knows of Martin Greenfield or is part of the firm, I do recommend them. Their quality is bar none and they have a history of servicing the presidency." He points a finger at Lamont from his folded arms. "You might as well tell them that I sent you. They might waive the rush fee."

After all, the good Doctor would know how to wear a fine suit given his history of neurological society meetings and speeches. He still wears one just fine — simply ask Wanda.

Lindon explains to Lamont, "He ran off with my groceries and squished the bread." Which is going to be stuffing, so it's not a total loss. No sandwiches tomorrow, but lots of leftovers. Twin lilac blue noses peek out from under the credenza, sniffing the air. Such a pack of brave souls, these two.

"All right," Lindon says, hands dried and nothing to do for awhile, he rubs his hands together and says, "Let's have that tea." He comes to Lamont's side, comfortably close. Strange is a friend, no need to pretend.

"I'll remember that," Lamont says. He doesn't kiss Lin, that'd be a bridge too far, but he does snake an arm around Lindon to pat his side fondly. Then he's serving the tea- guest first, of course. "If you apologize like that every time, you can steal as many groceries as you want," he teases.

Strange accepts the cup of steaming tea with a polite nod of gratitude. A savoring sniff of the rising scent and then a sip.

"Very good," he murmurs, an echo of his earlier sentiments. There's not a flinch or hint of recalcitrance to be found in the proud man who looks calmly between Lindon and Lamont both after being exposed of his earlier shenanigans. "If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that librarians tell on you. I couldn't even borrow a book on Astral projection without inducing the wrath of Kamar-Taj's librarian." Another sip of tea. "I borrowed it regardless. And I'm not going to steal groceries the next time."

Uh oh. Next time.

"That's right," Lindon says, lifting his chin. The librarian always tell. Fear the librarian. He peers at Strange when he says he borrowed the book anyway. Blasphemy! Recklessness! The things that could have happened to that book! He shakes his head, and he tuts. He tuts, Strange.

He leans in against Lamont, teacup in his hands. "Wait, next time?" Yeah, that's not getting past him. "I'm going to end up being wary of every cat, dog, pigeon, and rat I see."

And Lamont is going to have to finetune his wards. His expression gets thoughtful, and he gives Strange one of those lazy little smiles. Challenge accepted.

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