1965-07-03 - Living
Summary: Steve and Kai talk over a strawberry pancake.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
kai steve-rogers 

It is finally happening. Kai finally gets to make a Dutch baby pancake without all hell breaking loose all over the place. No tiny metal goats, no Bucklings (alas), just a quiet kitchen save for his melodious humming as he transfers the pancake from the iron skillet to the plate. It's big. It's eggy, and it's already got butter pooling in the middle from the butter it's been cooked in. The Elf has sliced strawberries on hand, not to mention the whipped cream. So there he stands, at the counter, artfully arranging berries in an attractive outward spiral.

The goat made it outside. Eventually. Somehow. There was some scrambling, a Hail Mary move or two, and it took the coordinated efforts of the Brooklyn Boys to wrangle the little creature. Outside, the Captain ordered, and thus, it was left to its devices in the back of the manor. Who knows where the little rascal is now.

Perhaps drawn by the smell, a tow-headed man looks around the kitchen door. "I wondered if it was you, Kai" and in walks Steve, in dress slacks and a white undershirt beneath an unbuttoned dress-shirt. He has an empty coffee mug in one hand and a moderately-sized sheaf of paperwork in the other. "So. Is this the actual legendary Dutch baby?" He pauses to look over the Elf's shoulder at the confectionary.

Kai has left out little bits of metal for the creature, just in case. A couple nails, a stray washer. The Elf is a soft touch. He looks up at Steve and grins broadly, with dimples on display beneath the thin beard. "It is," he says. "And you're just in time if you want to try it." He continues fanning out strawberry slices on the pancake, then he pipes on the whipped cream. The decorating he has taken to naturally. It's just art with different supplies. A dab here, some tracing a ring around the edge. Not too much! The excess he scoops into a bowl with a spoon. "Let's share it," he says. "Isn't it your birthday tomorrow?"

The Captain side-eyes the continued creation of the culinary masterpiece as he pours himself another cup of dark coffee — so dark, one could float a horseshoe in it — and he still thinks it better than what they scrounged up in the trenches all those years back.

Kai's question brings him to a pause, the emotion absolutely genuine given the momentary stillness and loft of wheat-gold brows. Then he smiles, almost bashfully, and replies more to the cup of coffee than to the Elf. "Yep. Suppose it is. I wasn't thinking about it at all." He makes his way to the table and sets down both mug and pile of paperwork before looking to Kai. "Birthdays…were never a big deal for me. Didn't have much to celebrate when I got older either," he admits quietly, still wearing the calm little smile. "Buck always made it special somehow. An extra comic-gazette or a donut from one of the bakeries nearby." Things that cost barely a quarter, if that. "If we'd had one of those, however," and he nods at the Dutch baby, " — I would've been celebrating for days."

"Then consider this day one of your celebration," Kai says as he brings the pancake and the bowl of extra cream over to the table. He then fetches two smaller plates, forks, and the leftover strawberries. He pours himself some coffe, though he almost drowns it in half and half. Finally, he settles at the table. "I think birthdays are neat, the idea of celebrating someone for a day. I bet it meant just as much to Bucky."

With a glance to the paperwork, he says, "What's this?" Rather than put his paws on it, he instead serves up a generous portion of the pancake for Steve, then one for himself.

"Paperwork for storage," says Steve as he sits himself down and then scoots the chair into the table. "Thank you." — that gratitude for the large serving of Dutch baby and he then takes up the bowl of excess cream. His heaping plate-ful needs an additional dollop. And maybe more strawberries too; these he takes one by one and buries beneath a little more cream. Because, y'know, calories and all.

"Nothing overly exciting," he continues in regards to the stack of sheets. "Loose ends that I'm working to tie up since I came to. Far less exciting than birthdays. Buck did his best, though, don't let me make it sound as if he didn't try. Those things — the comics, the sweets… We didn't have much. It meant more than most people would think." He forks himself a bite of the dessert and…makes the happiest humming sound of contentment heard out of Steve Rogers in some time. Only once his mouth is clear does he comment, "This is about the best thing I've eaten in years, Kai. Very, very good."

Kai watches somewhat pensively. Then he beams. "Great! I'm glad you like it." He has been trying so hard to master at least a few simple cooking techniques. Sometimes Lambert needs help in the kitchen, especialy with his eyesight going. Kai piles some berries onto his plate and a big dollop of whipped cream. "I'm glad you came by. I was hoping someone would." He tucks in to his own, and for a little fella, he can put away the chow. "I remember how much those things cost back then," he says. "Til the war started, then I went to Europe. Ended up in the Belgian Resistance of all things."

"Right. You have all those years under your belt." Steve then tucks into his portion of the Dutch baby. Companionable silence hovers for a time and eventually, after another big gulp of coffee, the Captain asks, "The Belgian Resistance, huh? What was your rank?" His blue eyes consider the Elf, with his youthful glamour, and internally, he reminds himself that there are more things in heaven and earth and what-all. Magic. Still weird.

"Me?" Kai says, grinning. He shakes his head and says, "Corporal. It's hard to ascend too far when you have to constantly remind people you're older than fourteen. I was even told if I were older I'd make Sergeant. It's why I started letting my beard grow out. I've got a young face. Now I can get away with eighteen, maybe twenty." He dips one of his berries in his pile of whipped cream. Mmm. "I didn't have much ambition, though. My favorite thing was hanging around the Americans. After the war, I came back because I missed the place."

Steve laughs, the sound bright in the kitchen. "Missed the Americans? We're that interesting? Well, I suppose if you're not used to us, we're pretty interesting," he amends before forking up another bite. "Paris after the war was…I'll let Buck tell you about that." The wry little smile is accompanied by a faint blush. He switches subjects smoothly enough. "I'd say…yes, twenty. No more than twenty-one at most. I bet you had the nurses worrying over you all the time — and then perplexed when you came in with nary a scratch."

"I've always loved Americans," Kai says. Then he laughs. "They thought I was a big faker just trying to get female attention from the nurses if one of the boys brought me in. When I did get hurt. I can usually shrug off a bullet." He preens quietly. Twenty-one. Aww yeah. Thank you, magic beard. "By the time you boys joined us, though, I was doing translation work and hanging out in canteens." The mention of Paris gets a small grin from him. Oh, he knows. That Buck.

"I bet they appreciated your translation skills, what with that ability of yours." Steve still doesn't understand it, but in the case of the Elf whom he trusts explicitly, he's not going to linger over such a thing. "You play music for the men in bed then? Tell them jokes? When you were in the infirmary? Moral's an important thing to keep up in a tough situation." He finishes off the last bit of his first serving of Dutch baby and seems content to work at his fresh cup of coffee after setting down his fork. But just wait. In reality….the man's a bottomless pit.

Kai sets down his own fork to portion another slice for Steve. Oh, the pancaking is not over, not by a long shot. "Yeah, I tried to keep morale high," he says. "I think maybe that's why they didn't chase me out right away. I liked to visit people. They're so fleeting, mortals are. So fragile. But they were my mates. Being on the other side of those battles now, I can look back with pride at the way they used what little time they had."

Oh huzzah, more Dutch baby! It's like the burgeoning cook knows that not only is his audience appreciative, but also always grasping for nutritional energy. Steve burns hot metabolically; no wonder coffee means nothing to him.

"Thank you," he murmurs after being portioned the slice, trying to keep his voice soft enough as to not interrupt Kai's words. He listens, eyes upon the Elf, and nods when appropriate. A melancholy crosses over him before he seems to shrug it away and gather up another forkful of pastry. He then volunteers solemnly, "Everyone should be proud of them. They sacrificed their lives, or part of them, to ensure that freedom was made available for all. They fought the good fight. Good men and women alike." Silently, he lifts his coffee mug in salute.

Kai echoes the salute with his own coffee. "May the Valkyries see them to their rest within the great halls of Valhalla," he says solemnly. "I actually met Bucky once, briefly, back in Belgium. Didn't know him from Adam, and never dreamed I'd ever see him again. I was in a canteen playing cards, trying to trick Americans out of their money."

Steve sets aside his coffee with an expression of blatant surprise again. "You ran into Buck? Scamming people out of their money?" Oops, now there's the unimpressed glower. At least he doesn't actually tsk at Kai. "…was Buck trying to win money on cards as well?" That's what he's calling it now: winning money…just in case his oldest friend is implicated in this con artistry.

Kai's eyes widen in the face of that glower. Instant innocence, just apply Elfish sincerity. Surely Steve must have misheard or misunderstood! Why, this poor, sweet lad is barely old enough to be torn from his mother's breast let alone be savvy at the art of cheatery. Sadly, the beard does cut a little youth off that youthful innocence. Still, he could probably sucker his share of people who didn't know better. "Oh, no. Bucky was just drinking," he says. "I won enough to have a drink, so I took a load off and hung out with some Americans, and he was one of them."

A certain Sorcerer would see right through this little charade. Steve, however, of most noble and trusting heart, simply nods and dismisses the entire suspicion of guilt. Of course Kai wasn't actually stealing money. He was winning it.

"That's something pleasant to learn," he comments. More whipped cream and strawberries are spooned onto his second plating of Dutch baby. "I wonder if he remembers you. You should ask him sometime."

"Yeah, he does," Kai says. "We kind of had a 'wait don't I know you' moment and talked about it. I looked younger then because of this." He strokes his fingers over his beard. "I miss the music sometimes," he admits, "and the dance halls. I loved to dance. I love to dance now, but it's different." He eats more slowly than Steve, intent as he is on giving the man most of the pancake. After all, it is the first day of his birthday celebration. "I bet Bucky hit the dance halls," he says, "and I bet everyone wanted to dance with you, but you were too shy."

The Captain works at his Dutch baby with his fork, moving strawberries around beneath the homemade whipped cream, before he replies, "Buck's always been the one with the easy hand, easy smile. The dames always fall for him. I'm used to playing second fiddle." An easy shrug pegs the statement as a personally-accepted truth. "Nobody wanted to dance with a little guy anyways, someone they could step on. I stopped trying. During the war, there was no time. After the war, it…still didn't seem important."

Kai shakes his head and says, "Nah, you gotta dance, man. You could have your pick of the ladies now." His eyes are bright and focused, and he's just bristling with life today. Like a living battery for good vibes. "Or dance by yourself, if you want. Just feel the music moving through your body. It's one of the greatest feelings alive. I'll show you how sometime. Even Loki dances, once in awhile."

With a big mouthful of Dutch baby, it takes him a second to reply. "I believe that you could get the Prince to dance, Kai. You've got this thing about you. I've danced by myself," he then admits with no qualms. "Turned the radio on to see what was playing and it was a good tune. I wasn't paying enough attention to remember the lyrics, but if I heard it again, I'd know it. I can't see myself going to a dance hall these days though." Steve tap-taps the small pile of official documents with the blunt, unused end of his fork. "There's always something to do."

It is entirely within Kai's nature to grab those papers and fling them away while claiming the problem is solved, but he's too busy glowing at the praise Steve gives him. "He's very graceful," he says, "it would be a shame for the world to never see it." Getting people to dance is an important public service. "I'm sure Stark could hire someone to do the paperwork," he says. "The important thing is you should take time to live. You're such a good person, you should have nice things."

"I have nice things…and I can continue to have nice things without ever dancing in a hall," he says with a point of his fork at Kai. Then it's to eating the Dutch baby. Look at the dessert disappear at an alarming rate, interpresed by sips of coffee. Steve eventually adds, "I'm sure Tony could find someone, but I need to do this part myself. It's a personal thing."

"With his personality?" Kai says. "Oh, yeah. To file papers. No, I dig it, man. You gotta do things your way. As long as you're taking that time to live, then I won't badger you. I'll just keep feeding you when I can." He portions a few berries onto Steve's plate. "And if you need any help doing personal things, you can always ask. You'd never believe it, but I can be very discreet."

"I believe you, Kai." It's no lie given the tone and lack of guile in Steve's expression. "If I ever need your help, I'll ask after it. I might in the future, with this." He cants his head to indicate the stack of papers. "But not with the forms, with…something else. I dunno." He frowns down at the last few bites of his Dutch baby. "I've got this gut feeling and I've learned not to ignore it over the years. There's something funny going on. …ehn, I'll check with Buck. He's got a good head to check my instincts."

Throwing back the rest of his coffee, the Captain then finishes the rest of his dessert. "How's the gallery coming along?" He asks simply to hear of it even as he picks up each little crumblet with a wetted fingertip to completely clear his plate. Always the good listener, Steve Rogers.

"Oh, it's great," Kai says. "Hardly any controversy at all, and everything I've made on it I've given to the community center in Mutant Town. Once this installation is phased out, I'll put in another. Soho's really changing these days. Mark my words, it'll be a happening place, soon." He grins, adding, "I could do an entire exhibit dedicated to Loki. He would probably love it." He drinks his coffee, watching with satisfaction as most of the pancake disappears. "Speaking of which, I should probably head home. Kev will need a walk before Loki gets there."

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