1965-08-13 - Elvish Roses
Summary: Strange comes to see Kai about a prank and ends up lingering in Alfheim for awhile as an honored guest.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange kai 

Kai's parents and entourage are quite a surprise for Kai's grandmother. The young Elf has managed to genuinely surprise and startle the older woman. He's bought himself a 'you can't get mad at me' token for the visit by bringing home the prodigal daughter and son-in-law. It's a sizeable mansion, room enough for all, with grounds people can get delightfully lost in.

At the moment, Kai is walking in the extensive flower garden, where silvery roses lend their sweet scent to the clean air. His finery is a little toned down now that he's not at court in Asgard, but the cut is timelessly Elvish. He's ostensibly alone, though his parents are around somewhere.

Never in his life has the Sorcerer Supreme been pranked like this. Opening his front door, Strange is already planning out where his feet might take him on today's errands when BOING — he literally bounces off of some invisible surface! A stumble backwards and a defensive hand upraised is followed by a wide-eyed stare. His mouth opens and closes in confusion before he cautiously approaches the door again.

Is the Sanctum attempting to keep him within?! Against danger or…?

…no. Even as he summons up the warding spells on a thought, he can already tell that the mansion is behaving normally…for whatever defines 'normal' in his household. The spells report nothing odd but for the impress of innocent fingerprints on the outside of the door, the accompanying material inert.

He reaches out carefully and presses his hand against the invisible barrier. It feels familiar…and tears with enough pressure, tape coming free of its stick upon the outside of the door.

It's saran wrap. He knows this stuff.

Punked. He's been punked!!! The air around him flickers up in a violent tornado of irritation and now he wears the Master-blues of his mantle rather than mundane clothing. Even as he's tearing down the clear plastic, one of his neighbors calls to him,

"I tried to tell them to bum off, Stephen, but they didn't! Someone with blond hair handed off bills. They had weird-looking ears." Strange pauses before calling back,

"…did they looked pointed?"

"Actually, yes, now that I think of it," the old woman replies. "Crazy kids these days."

"Not a kid, but an Elf," the silver-templed man mutters darkly under his breath. "Thank you, I'll deal with it," he shouts back, waving a hand to hail the conversation ended. Once the saran wrap is all removed, it's a simple matter of returning inside and locating the errant Elf's Mystical signature.

Oh, look, Kai, it's a Gate! Right in front of you! And Stephen Strange stepping through it and towards you looking thunderous. "Eyvindrson," he growls, strumming the True name with the power of his mantle.

Kai has, in all the business with his parents and whatnot, entirely forgotten he paid off a ne'er-do-well to saran the Sorcerer Supreme's door. He's admiring a particularly delicate bloom when the Gate's red-orange sparks start to form. Thus is he reminded, and he wraps his hands around his stomach, laughing. The tricksy Elf has no sense of self-preservation.

Wards delicately lick at the Stephen's aura, testing and tasting. Who is this? They're not aggressive so much as inquisitive. People don't just show up to cause violence here. They inform the sorceress who lives here, though, and she makes her way toward the garden. Another Outsider invited? They'll have to put out another plate for lunch.

"Oh my God," Kai says as he blinks back tears. "You are so mad right now." No sense of self-preservation.

A scarred finger almost blips off of Kai's nose as the good Doctor growls, momentarily wordless in his sheer depth of annoyance. It points directly in the Elf's face and Stephen actually stoops a little to bring his face closer.

"You do not prank the Sorcerer Supreme!!!" He says, voice tight with exasperation. "It is simply not done!!!" That having been said, he draws himself up as tall as possible in contained affront and takes note of the localized wards. His eyes slide to one side, going distant as he does some subtle grazing of metaphysical touch in turn — Greetings, pardon the abrupt arrival, no harm intended. The man knows he's no longer on Earth and this certainly isn't Asgard. The atmosphere itself is even different and as he inhales in order to release another sharp sigh, he realizes it's incredibly clean.

"So." He's still not impressed given how he's doing his best Grade-A glower at Kai. "This must be your home."

Definitely not Earth, and most certainly not Asgard. All around are beautiful, green rolling hills, with distant mountains white-capped and majestic. The Valley of the Moon Elves is some lovely real estate. The stately manor may well be millennia old, and yet every stone is pristine. From the garden, the land opens into vineyards soaking up the sunshine of a near perfect Spring day. Birds sing and wild bees bumble and bounce between flowers, doing their good work.

Kai blinks a bit as his nose is blipped. He tries not to smile, but that just makes him smile more broadly. He's proud of himself, the bastard, practically preening where he stands. "I promise I won't saran wrap your door or pay anyone else to do so again." As if he'd repeat the same prank twice.

Footsteps come up the path, and the impending presence is an old one, with genteel power carefully retrained. Coming into view, she is a slender thing, fragile-seeming if one didn't live and breathe magic. The lady of the house in a silvery gown that glints like moonlight on snow. There are strands of silver shot through her golden hair, and she wears her age gracefully. She bears the weight of age, and of responsibility and heartache, though she offers Strange a polite enough smile.

"Hello," she says to him. Taking in the scene with a glance, she asks, "What has he done this time?"

Kai scoffs. How very dare!? He's innocent!

"You'd sure as the seven hells better not," the Sorcerer has time to shoot back to Kai in a low growl before he notes the approach of the older Alfheimian — saved by your grandmother, Elf, because there was more reproof a-coming. He keeps his arms folded until he can make a basic identification of her, even at the closing distance, and then lets out a self-soothing sigh. The irritation is buried away beneath smooth layerings of genteel manners and he even manages to turn that scowl into a relatively charming if thin smile aimed at the matronly Alfheimian.

"Nothing of terrible importance," he replies to her in an even tone. "Simply reaffirming friendship in the manner of his choice. I understand that my arrival was sudden and ask forgiveness for not doing so at the front door rather than your gardens." He holds out a palm and adopts the air of a courtier as he introduces himself. "Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme of Midgard." The intention is to take the Alfheimian's hand and at least bow over it. No kissing.

The lady inclines her head politely and says, "If you mean to turn him into something, please make it something I can undo later. His mother would be beside herself if anything permanent were to happen to him." She sighs softly, and she gives Kai a Look. "She pampers the boy."

Kai says, "It was just a joke. Reaffirming friendship." He flashes Strange a broad smile. "I didn't want you to forget about me." Another look from his grandmother causes him to choose quieting down. For now.

The lady drifts closer and gives the Midgardian her hand. She is all elegance. Kai can fake it, but even his skills are a pale shadow of this creature who embodies it. "Lastriel, daughter of Mirion, Lady of this House and Grandmother to Hjuki Eyvindrson. It is a pleasure to meet you, Sorcerer Supreme." She curtsies low in respect. Magic is well and alive here, and its power worth noting. At least for the older Elf. Kai still looks innocent and a touch put upon.

Lastriel gestures to Stephen and says, "Might I offer you some refreshment? I apologize for the boy. Midgard is fine for Midgardians, but our young require much needed structure I fear he lacks."

"I'm fine," Kai mutters.

Even the Sorcerer Supreme has a stilted difference in the bow he enacts over the offered hand — again, no kiss, but the proper and polite deference is given without bringing himself down from his own pedestal.

"An equal pleasure in turn to be present within your demesne, my Lady. However, not this time in terms of transformation. Consider it a notch added to the required tally as such," Stephen informs the Alfheimian matron. Kai is given a quick and significance glance as if to impart, You hear that? There's a tally.

Given the mastery of the Arts in both Midgardian and Alfheimian alike, the triggered feedback loop between them is brisk and concise rather than brain-twisting and ending in yelps and numbed fingertips. The Sorcerer senses the deep-rooted power she holds within and through the balance she keeps with the lands about herself; it dances through his senses with the whimsical whisper of moonlight and the contented sigh of knowing peace. In return, his is the taste of primal flashing petrichor and the way that the earth inhales just before dawn, when the sky is bluing and the dew still clings to the grass — of life, the good old Midgardian kind.

All of this in a blink. Strange releases the gentle capture of Lastriel's hand and nods. "I would gladly accept your offer, my Lady. Hjuki meant well, I'm sure. He is young yet." His smile takes on the air of a smirk restrained. Neener-neener, Elvish youngling.

Kai assumes a stance one might expect from an Elvish noble, poised and proud. Innocent of all wrongdoing. A tally? He's sure he has no idea what Stephen is talking about. "I'll go arrange something to eat," he says.

The Lady's eyes widen a touch as she samples that taste of Strange's power, and she curtsies again in respect. He is someone important, here in her home, and she would never dream of saran wrapping his door. Perish the thought. No, he must be welcomed and cared for. When she rises from the curtsey, she tells Kai, "It is done, go fetch your parents."

Kai's brow furrows, he looks briefly mutinous, but then he says stiffly, "Of course, Grandmother." He turns to head elsewhere in the garden, and the Lady leads the way for Stephen.

There is a lovely room with windows a plenty from which to observe the gardens, and it's there that she brings Stephen. "He is," she agrees as an afterthought. "Very young. And foolhardy. He may outgrow it in a couple hundred years."

The Sorcerer does fall into step beside the matron of the family, but not after giving Kai's back an interested look. Ah-hah. Now he begins to understand where the streak of foolhardiness may stem from. Nature or nurture? Something to suss out at another time, when family doesn't gather about either of them.

Once within the room, he makes his way to one of the myriad windows to better see the sprawling expanse of floral beauty. The roses are a thing of particular beauty, with intensity of color he rarely sees upon earth and usually not without a touch of magic atop that. Partially silhouetted before the panes, he turns his face to listen to Lastriel before turning to face her in three-quarters profile. "I take no offense at his actions, my Lady. He is young, I agree, but he has been a staunch ally of mine ever since I met him over scones. If anything, his youthful misconduct reminds me that I must not take life too seriously. He makes me laugh and that is a thing of rarity." Strange reports this with a solemn smile.

Lastriel tilts her head thoughtfully. "Has he?" she says. "Good lad. He might redeem himself with good associations yet. You I approve of." She shakes her head. "An Asgardian Prince. What was he thinking?" She gestures to the most comfortable chair at the table, for the honored guest of course.

As Elvish servants come to bring wine and covered dishes, Kai enters in front of a pair of Elves holding hands. One is a dainty woman who favors Lastriel's fine features, her golden curls loose and gleaming. The other is a taller Elvish man who exudes sensuality with every careless move. They say Kai has pleasure elf blood on his father's side, and those roguish looks may well confirm it.

"Mother, Father," Kai says, "This is Stephen Strange. He's a friend of mine. He's a powerful Sorcerer in Midgard." To Strange, he says, "This is Lady Solva and my father Eyvindr."

The Elves curtsey and bow respectively. "We can't stay," the lady says with an apologetic look at Lastriel. "We're taking some of the Midgardians into the village. It was nice to meet you though, Master Strange."

Strange inclines his head in silent gratitude for the compliment regarding approval. Always nice to be on the good side of the matron of the house — the seat of power rests there often enough. "I believe he was thinking of his heart, my Lady," opines the Sorcerer even as he takes up his seat at the table. Indeed, it is exceedingly plush and one might be able to sit for hours without ever developing soreness of spine. The armrests even seem inclined to act gently upon the scars running up his forearms, hidden away beneath wrappings and sleeves. He's nodding in obvious approval when Kai arrives with his parents.

There's no helping the moderate amount of surprise on his face. The Alfheimians are always a thing of beauty and he can see where each parent offers up their halves in his mein and personage.

"A pleasure to meet you both in passing," he replies to Solva in particular, since she last addressed him. "Enjoy leading your tour." The flare of curiousity is tamped save for where it sharpens in his eyes; still, not polite to pry, though rest assured he will figure out which Migardians are here on this world, one way or another.

Kai's father murmurs, "We'll be back tonight." He's got a sonorous voice that lends itself to singing. He gives Kai's shoulder a squeeze, and Solva kisses her baby boy's cheek, getting a somewhat annoyed glance for her troubles. Mom! Not in front of the Sorcerer Supreme!

They depart, and Kai wipes off his cheek. Bleh, his dignity. He starts to sit, but then pauses and says, "Grandmother," while pulling out her chair. Once she is seated, he sits nearer to Strange.

Lastriel tells Strange, "Yes. That's why he needs structure." She then nods to Kai. Good boy, getting her chair. While one servant pours a delicate white wine, the other reveals the contents of the dishes. On the menu today is a delicate dessert of unearthly beauty. There is a fruit here that has the crispness of an apple, with the sweetness of a pear and the slightly sour afternote of citrus. The dessert consists of those sliced and arranged like the unfurling petals of a rose resting upon a bed of something like cheesecake only silkier, drizzled in a light, sweet treacle that shimmers.

"I hope you will overlook our modest offering," Lastriel says, "I'm afraid Hjuki's lot has been eating us out of house and home."

Strange keeps his amusement to a minimum at the subtle cringe on Kai's part to having his cheek kissed. He was there once, after all, way too adult to warrant his own mother smooching his cheek in affection. He observes the self-conscious attempt at etiquette on the young Alfheimian's part as well and decides that yes: this is most definitely the source of the proposed "acting out" that his grandmother describes. The yolk of manners is a heavy one at times.

"My Lady, this is a feast for the senses," he replies to Lastriel, letting his eyes rove as he speaks. "I couldn't find offense even if I tried. So rarely do I get to sample the food of the other worlds beyond Midgard." And that's Strange actually considering risking an upset stomach over the beautiful dessert laid out on the table. He glances over at Kai and gives him a small smile. "This is positively grandiose compared to my normal fare." A bit of an inside joke that, between the two of them.

Kai perks up, then looks sorrowful as he says, "Oh, that's right, Grandmother. The Sorcerer Supreme can't sustain himself on our food." Faux pas, Grandmother. Ha ha. He smiles at her, sweet as sugar, and toys with his wineglass.

Lastriel takes note of the information with an uptick of her brow, and she asks Stephen, "Is there anything more to your tastes that we can acquire for you, Sorceror Supreme?" She doesn't miss a beat, and there is no great humiliation to be had, alas for Kai.

"It's possible that I may be able to appreciate this fare, my Lady," Strange replies, giving the younger Elf a side-glance. "It is the fare of Midgard that turns my stomach, against my druthers. The cost of magic, as likely you know, runs in many veins." That being said, he looks to the dessert and then for a serving utensil of some sort — or maybe it's that the servants will dish? Or even Lastriel herself, acting the perfect hostess.

There is silverware on linen napkins with filigree of grapes and leaves along the handle. The wine is light and crisp, with an aftertaste of sweetness that isn't too sweet. It's probably got a kick like a mule. Lastriel raises her glass and says, "Very well, what a relief that is." She glances at Kai. Nice try, small pants. She then toasts Strange with her glass and sips. Which is Kai's cue to drink a lot less delicately.

The dessert is, of course, an experience for the senses. The scent is inviting, the fruit crisp in the mouth, with a little crunch in the pastry beneath the cheesecake, which melts in the mouth. It doesn't just taste good, it feels good to eat. Even Kai sits up straight and eats delicately out of respect for the food.

After taking a dainty bite, Lastriel asks, "How fares Midgard? I've heard there's talk of war, but when isn't there?" A look silences Kai before he can weigh in. He's not the one being asked.

The wine is a pleasure to drink. Even as it slips over his tongue, Strange can feel the ever-present weight of Midgardian duty lift to a degree. The dessert is sumptuous. Even as he takes a second bite, nausea doesn't loom and the muscles of his stomach don't crump in an effort to force the 'poison' from his system.

Wiping at his mouth just in case of pastry niblets in his goatee, he replies to Lastriel, "I admit that it feels like humankind does take exception to peace from time to time. The people of Midgard may squabble, but I have faith that when things of terrible import threaten the sanctity of their world, they will band rather than fall to the wayside over their differences. It is a favored trait, I believe, the resilience."

Lastriel considers the answer, and she nods, accepting the words at their value. "I've never been," she admits. "I don't see myself leaving my valley any time soon, but the boy raves about the place, and it did raise him." Kai has never been so quiet. He's such a good boy, eating his dessert while the grownups talk.

"Your faith in their resilience speaks well for them," Lastriel says. "And your role? I can tell you're an important man, Sorceror Supreme."

"My title speaks for itself, if I may opine as such without sounding the braggart. I hold the mantle and, as such, utilize my access to the Mystic Arts to protect the reality of Midgard from incursion by otherworldy forces. First and foremost, the flow of mankind's Fate must not be disrupted. It is not for outside influence to intervene," Strange explains before taking another bite of the dessert. Mmm-mmm-good. Kai is given another sideways glance. …creepy how he can actually be quiet.

"A noble and unenviable position," Lastriel says, "that you must stand by while they make their mistakes. It would always be my instinct to guide and to correct." She glances toward Kai, but briefly. "We are truly honored to have you in our house, Sorceror."

Kai almost says something snotty. Almost. But Strange gives him that sidelong look, and Kai realizes something beyond horrible: he's outnumbered. Not only that, but if he acts like a child in front of Strange… well, he'll be seen as a child. So he merely smiles thinly and goes back to eating.

It's a delightful repast, but not a long one, and once Kai finishes, he washes down the last bite with wine and suggests, "I could show Stephen around, Grandmother." He must separate these two before they bond further.

"The honor is mine to be present, my Lady," replies the Sorcerer with a polite smile towards Lastriel. Uh-oh indeed; these two are most definitely bonding over the understanding of dutiful purviews and polite manners.

He glances briefly at Kai when the young Elf poses his question and then back to the Elf's grandmother. "I wouldn't mind a tour of the grounds and garden, if it's no imposition? My fiancee, back on Midgard, would be utterly infatuated with the roses that you grow here." He saw one bush, in fact, with blooms that matched the hue of the Witch's scarlet coat in eerie accuracy. His plate is cleaned of the light repast and there's naught but one last mouthful of the crisp wine left in his glass.

"Oh, then you must bring her some," Lastriel is quick to say. She glances Kai's way, assuming (and often rightly so) that he's up to something, but he did pose the question so politely, she inclines her head to him with permission to be dismissed, and she rises to her feet so that she might curtsey for Strange again. "A pleasure to have met you, be you welcome in my home at any time."

Kai waits until she takes her leave before telling Strange, "She doesn't say that too often. The rest of us are strictly on probation." When he's sure she's for real gone, he slouches. "I thought she'd never go."

"A pleasure likewise to me, my Lady. You have been most gracious. I shall be certain to speak with you again ere I leave." It's a promise accompanied by a formal nod from Strange, who has also pushed back in chair in order to remain standing as she departs from the fine room.

He allows himself a little laugh after Kai's most truthful opinion on things. "Nonsense, Kai, she doesn't seem that bad," he says, amusement galavanting through his words and eyes in stark contrast to the aloof conduct he put forth not a minute ago.

"She's a dragon lady," Kai insists. He leads the way back out into the garden. "She was encouraging you to turn me into something! I was there, I heard it." He heard his version of it, at any rate. "She's the establishment, man. She's the po-po and the Man wrapped into one."

The garden remains beautiful, and there is a gardener about somewhere who would be happy to help the Sorceror select blooms for his lady love. After a moment of thoughtful silence, Kai's voice wavers with laughter. "I wish I could've seen your face when you stepped out your door."

That face is Strange's excuse for not laughing. His lips even roll shut. He's impressed — it's been some time since he's seen Kai so rattled by another living being. He walks along the young Alfheimian in silence, nodding helpfully every now and then as wonders if he can actually feel the irritation radiating from the Elf. They emerge into the garden and when approached by the gardener, the Sorcerer is taken aback. To have help picking roses for Wanda?

"Thank you, but I am content to choose for myself. I have no fear of thorns," he says with a kind smile. Their path takes them to one of the many paths lined by the impossible number of breeds of roses, recognizable and not. Strange glances over at the young Elf again and rolls his eyes, comfortable enough to do this in Kai's presence.

"It works well enough on Billy," he grouses quietly.

Kai grins at Strange, all dimples and sunny cheer. "I'm not sure where he is, but he's around here somewhere. We had fun in Asgard, and he's perfectly safe. Safe as houses. He summoned a snack for me called Doritos. They're wonderful. The kind in the blue bag are the best." Yes, after that beautiful, edible art he just enjoyed, it's Doritos he longs for.

"It is good to see you," Kai admits. "I miss you when I'm away. I miss our talks, and I miss your perspective."

"…I miss knowing that my child is safe on Midgard." More grousing from the Sorcerer, who gives his walking companion a narrow-eyed glare. "I shouldn't need to remind you of my personal definition of 'safe as houses' and what the consequences entail otherwise." Because imagination is always worse than explanation.

"And I'll ignore that you might be buttering me up…and thank you, Kai. It's nice to hear that I have wisdom worth sharing and company as well. I do wonder what you're up to when you're away from Midgard…when you're not buying off ne'er-do=-wells to vandalize my Sanctum." Another flat look shot at Kai even as he pauses to then consider one of the bushes.

Kai spreads his hands. "He's in one of the safest places there is," he replies. "Nothing exciting ever happens here. It's why I keep leaving." It is pretty pastoral here. Not politically charged like Asgard.

The Elf smiles serenely and insists, "I'm not buttering you up. I genuinely like you." There's an extra dimple at the mention of the vandlization. A harmless prank! He comes up to the bush Strange studies and says, "Those are pretty."

"They would match her eyes, I think, if tucked into her hair." What a decidedly saccharine thing to escape the stoic Sorcerer's mouth. The petals are a warm peachy-gold that somehow encapsulates the gradient of the fruit from pit to fuzzy skin, just as soft as the latter and finer yet, and smell almost of honeysuckle and something else he can't put a finger on. He makes a sound of consideration to himself before standing completely upright again.

"Thank you, Kai," he then repeats, giving the Elf a small smile. Yes…all's forgiven, fine. "I believe you that Billy is in safe hands here." He scans the surrounding gardens and the relative wild peace of the world as he can see it. "I understand too why you might chafe. It is peaceful. Perhaps you need to be tumbled by Fate once or twice in order to appreciate it more…?" He teases, of course, grey as the humor might be.

Kai grins at Strange's words. Oh, how he loves romance. "A good choice, I think," he says. "Maybe sometime your lady can come have dessert with us. She has a sweet tooth if I recall." At least this is a guest he's inviting with his grandmother's blessing.

"I just like the bustle of the city," Kai says. "The noise and the lights, and the music at all hours, and those walk-up shops with the Chinese noodles. New York City's my town. This is all well and good to visit, but…" He pauses, then allows, "But perhaps you're right. Once I've seen everything there is to see, I'll settle down."

Strange reaches out and brushes a fingertip almost daringly across one of the broad petals. Ooh, soft as visually expected and then some. If only he could find sheets with that same level of supple warmth. But wait…just maybe…maybe magic might do it. He continues sampling the velveteen surface of the rose petal even as he looks at Kai.

"I could live here easily. Eh…mind, not easily, but gratefully. I got used to the city with time. Still…sometimes, the silence but for the dance of the wind in the trees and watching the sun set over the golden hills…that's where my heart lies." He seems vaguely melancholy for the wishings of his human heart, sans mantle, and then seems to brush it aside on the next breath. "I wonder if I could replicate this texture…" the man murmurs almost to himself, peering at the rose.

"I'm glad to know there are places like this I can go," Kai admits. "I remember when life was that quiet, when I was a kid in Scotland. London was so full of life, and then all of a sudden the nights were so quiet you could hear your heartbeat." His brow knits. "Maybe it's that I'm not used to quiet places lasting." Only Kai would find a measure of security in ongoing chaos.

He glances at the rose, and he says in a low tone, "Stephen, my friend, I wouldn't put it past you to be able to do anything."

The silver-templed man's goatee bows to one side as he allows himself a true and relaxed smile.

"Remind me of that often, Kai," he says, only half-jesting as he glances to the young Elf. "It is good to hear that someone else holds that sentiment beyond myself. I understand, in a way, what you mean of quiet places lasting. Peace is…" He pauses to think, his fingers dropping away from the silky surface of the rose petal. "Ephemeral. A blessing. I wonder sometimes if it is a blessing simply because it does not last. Without insult to your home world, Alfheim may be an abberation…but a welcome one."

Kai looks around the garden, perhaps with eyes a little jaded from seeing it all before, or just the brashness of youth. "It's always peaceful," he says, "but we know it's because over in Asgard, Odin rattles his sword. "Nothing this good ever comes for free. We're just lucky that Odin is a benevolent protector." He smiles a little. "Can't believe I'm talking about my father in law." Not by law, but damn it, the Elf can be stubborn on this.

"Anyway, I like showing it off. To you and the others. I want you to know there's somewhere you can escape to, even if it's for a bit of wine and a sweet. People like you deserve blessings."

"Hmph." It's a little laugh, almost touching upon the beginnings of derisive. "Not only Odin," the Sorcerer corrects lightly, considering the other rose bushes growing around them. Ooh — that one has…impossibly blue petals, not just some claim at the color that's actually grey.

"…and thank you yet again, Kai, for sharing your home with me. It's hard to find new experiences after you've learned how to cross the veils of realities in your various daily journies. This…this was new," he admits.

Kai smiles broadly, and he claps Strange on the arm as he says, "Of course. What I have is yours." One cannot fault the Elf on his generosity, even though what he technically has here is his grandmother's. Unless his parents bless the realm with another heir, this will all be Kai's someday. "I'll get you some honey to take with you," he adds. "Something for the missus. She's a lucky girl, to have a man who can travel the breadth of reality to bring her presents."

The Sorcerer waves a hand, having a rare moment of embarrassment, mild as it is.

"I'd hope she thinks so," he says quietly, still unable to repress the small grin. "Honey would be something out of a dream, I'd think. I remember the small jar that I took home from Mister Petropolous's restaurant. I don't think I've ever seen honey disappear that quickly. It was enjoyed and I, in turn, enjoy seeing her happy."

"Of course you do," Kai says, "You old softie." He pauses to wave down a gardener with a request to pack a jar of honey for the Sorceror Supreme.' When the gardener runs off to do that, Kai turns his attention back to Strange. "He called me milord," he says, of the gardener. Who did in fact do that.

Kai gives a pleased little wriggle, then laughs. "Milord." Utterly ridiculous, to him, to have an honorific. "It makes us better people, doesn't it? To have someone to make happy?"

"I think it makes us humble and kind." It's a true sentiment, even if a short one, in terms of thinking beyond one's self. "Now you know how I first felt when I attained the title of 'Master' at Kamar-Taj. Careful now. It might wear thing more quickly than you'd expect or like," the good Doctor warns even as he watches the gardener disappear towards the main house beyond the gardens. "Master this, Master that, and then comes the responsibilities." He almost singsongs this, watching for Kai's reaction knowingly.

Kai pulls his head back and wrinkles his nose as the R word. "Yeah, that's why I'm going back to Midgard," he says. "They can keep 'milord' here in Alfheim, and I'll just go back to being 'hey you' on the street." No responsibilities for this Elf! Not on his watch. "Besides, you've earned your title. All I ever did was get born." He shoots Strange a hard look for even mentioning responsibilities. What's the man trying to do, jinx him?

Hard look, meet the sly and cheeky expression that invariably snares the Witch's attention. There be the humor gamboling about behind his steel-blue eyes. Strange diverts his attention to the blue roses, choosing to walk over to them now.

"Of course they can keep 'milord' here. It's a title regardless of its earning…and it'll probably chase you like your shadow, Kai." Can't stop this man from spilling wisdom now, oops. Might be the wine?

Kai's eyes narrow. See, Strange, this is why Kai pranks you. He follows after Strange, content to let the Sorceror set the pace and destination. "I'll have you know I worked very hard to reunite my parents," he says, "so that they can have another child, so that that brat can be milord or milady and I'll just be 'hey you' on the street. My parents are still young. They could decide to have more children. Especially if I continue to prove such a disappointment."

The soft click of a tongue is gentle reprimand from the silver-templed man, even if he's almost nose-deep in the bloom that smells of the ocean and somehow…coconut?

"We're all a disappointment at some point, Kai. Do not be unnecessarily hard on yourself. If it's your hope that your parents have another child to take your place, then I'll add in my happiest wishes that they do so. You would be discontent here, I can tell."

"Oh no, I'm not hard on myself. I've worked hard on being a disappointment. I have it all planned out, you see." He gestures to himself with both hands and explains, "If I'm a ne'er-do-well who can't be trusted with so much as a parsnip let alone a whole estate, then I get to party all the time in New York and not have to learn anything about winemaking."

He beams. Yes, Stephen gets it. "Besides, can you really see Loki wanting to settle here? Asgard is his home, and when he's ready to return there permanently, where else will I be but at his side? He enjoys the intrigues."

"That the younger Prince enjoys intrigue…I will grant," Strange replies with a smirk towards the rose he's looking over. He is, without a doubt, wondering if the bush will bloom on Midgard. …perhaps a request during another future visit to the Lady Lastriel. "You're a pair, that's certain enough. How you make it work…not unkindly, but I don't believe I'll ever understand. I say this knowing full well that many think the same of myself and Wanda. Still, there is peace. A blessing." He feels at the ice-blue petals and ooh — just as soft as the doubloon-gold rose. Yep, there's going to be some puttering about with spellwork now.

Of course the Lady Lastriel is happy to provide Stephen with clippings, she too is generous when she considers someone a friend. She just doesn't try to befriend the entire multiverse like certain young Elfs do. "What is there to figure out?" Kai says. "I adore him. He takes my breath away, and what he asks of me, I'm compelled to provide out of a deep desire to see him happy. And he never asks of me what isn't in my nature to give." He strokes his chin, then adds, "We don't fight very often, but the last time we did, steel was drawn. No one got hurt."

Strange straightens from the tropically-scented rose to consider Kai with lifted brows.

"You drew steel on one another?" The faint frown must be disapproval, checked by friendship. "I…don't remember the last that Wanda and I got into an argument. I'll…" He sighs and laughs ruefully. "I have said stupid things in my…frustration, yes, and she in her difficulties understanding the world around her, but at one another…? No, not so."

Still. Imagine it for one second. The Vishanti's Conduit and Chthon's Chosen at each other's throats.

"He asked if I was provoking him and I said so what if I was," Kai says. He notes the disapproval, but there's little about him that speaks of remorse. "I don't even remember what we were fighting about, but we never fought like that again."

Perhaps Kai does imagine that. "Okay, Loki and I fighting are just to blokes having a go, but you two are dangerous. It's good you don't argue."

"I try…exceedingly hard not to argue, yes." The Sorcerer seems reticent even to comment on it, his expression gone pinched about the eyes and lips. "It does nothing to aid in keeping what peace we can about the Sanctum. It does not mean that we don't have our moments of ineptitude. It means that we discuss rather than yell. I…almost cannot fathom what would come of a true argument." He grimaces and shifts in place, his eyes slid elsewhere along the garden path.

"Still, you have the right of it, in never drawing steel again. I can't imagine having a sword fight with Wanda." It's apparently enough of a thought that he half-smirks in passing.

"Oh, gosh, I imagine he would've skewered me without breaking a sweat if he wanted to," Kai says. "He's got centuries on me, and I'm not even a fighter by training. But I couldn't just back down, and show him I wasn't invested?" He shakes his head. "I know he wasn't going to hurt me. He needed to know I know."

Kai thinks about his words, then nods. Yeah, he stands by them. "Does Wanda fight?" he asks. "I've never seen her handle a sword. I just see her at the restaurant."

The Sorcerer tilts his head a little, watching Kai think. He must appreciate whatever he sees, for the small smile grows in passing.

"Always good to stand by what you've said. The strong keep their promises." Even the newting tallies. "I've observed that Wanda is lethal with a dagger. Her prowess in close-combat situations outshines my own," he says, it being no small admission. "I presume she is a fair shot with guns, considering she has her own sidearms. A sword? I wouldn't put it past her to have dabbled in swordsmanship as well and not in terms of a hobby. She is in deadly earnest when we spar, rare as that may be. No quicker way to be taught to watch your guard when there's suddenly the edge of a training blade against your throat."

Ah, the tally. And yet, Kai has learned nothing. "That's good, that she can defend herself. I do well with my knives, but brute strength has its place. But you know me, I'd rather talk my way out of a situation, but sometimes when I'm Avenging, I have to get tough."

He sighs softly, full of infatuation as he says, "Loki is deadly. He's like a beautiful, sleek serpent. Isn't there something about danger that's lovely?"

The Sorcerer notes the preference in the Elf's fighting styles and files it away. Always useful to know, in case he needs to borrow a friend to skew the outcome of a fight. In regards to the query about danger?

"Nooooo-ho-ho," he replies, an incredulous laugh breaking up the word. "No, it's not lovely at all. No. It's called 'danger' for a reason."

"But when she has a blade to your throat," Kai presses. "You're telling me that's not the least bit sexy?" He waves a hand and adds, "We already know, for this exercise, that you know she's not going to hurt you. But she could. That doesn't do it for you?" Kai looks like he disbelieves. "Maybe it's just the Ljosalfar in me seeing the beauty in all things, but I think the Sorcerer doth protest too much."

Here comes the scowl. "And I think the Elf has no idea of how the Sorcerer's fiancee was trained in fighting. It is not my place to share history, but allow me to assure you, most seriously, that she does not spar in jest. She does not hold her blows. If I am standing there with a training blade at my throat, I have done something wrong and have been informed, whether I like it or not, of another manner in which I could die. I know few being who appreciate the warning. Ergo, with her? I also do not spar in jest." Strange has folded his arms now to boot, a visual wall against further prying. He's smiling, but only barely.

Kai's brows lift, and he takes in the scowling Sorceror Supreme, Master of the Mystic Arts, and he remains somewhat dubious, but he doesn't push his luck. Instead, he holds his hands out peacefully and says, "All right, all right. In all fairness, Loki and I do not spar. I am ridiculously outclassed and I know it."

Then, with a wicked glint in his eyes, he says, "Besides, when we're together we're far too amorous to give a thought to strategy and combat." There, Strange. Picture that. Try to unsee it.

"And now we're discussing the habits of the bedroom and not the sparring room and this is not what I walked into the garden to do," Strange says with a scoff. He gives Kai a mild glare in passing on his way back over to the golden-petaled roses. Yep — definitely asking the Lady Lastriel for a clipping of this bush. He'll make it grow on Midgard, one way or another, magic notwithstanding.

"Your grandmother would allow me to take a young sprout of this back to Midgard, do you think?" he asks, expression gone formal once more. Nothing like the grandmother to put an immediate damper on ardor.

Kai laughs, clasping his hands together in delight at the glare. "Neither love nor war settle well with you," he says, "my contentious friend, sometimes I think you enjoy being in a mood." There's no venom in the words, nor scolding. Whatever his perception is, he accepts the Sorceror as is.

"I'm sure for you, she would agree." Though he doesn't adopt the same formality, mention of her does dim his mirth somewhat. "It's a nice choice, if you don't mind me saying so. Quite lovely."

"Good. I intend to ask before I leave," he informs the young Elf. The idea of working at keeping the bush alive seems to settle him, being a more neutral point of conversation as is, and the mild prickling of hackles settles.

"It's not that love doesn't settle with me, Kai — and I do not enjoy being nettled about certain things. You may be cavalier with your love-life, but I am not and will never be as such. I could lose her at any time." The admission is soft and yet steely. "I don't take it for granted or find it a manner to joke about."

Kai tilts his head curiously. "Do you think I'm cavalier? Nothing to me is more important. Don't mistake my humor for a lack of concern. I'll never love like this again, and I worry every moment I see him it will be the last. If I make light, it is of my fears, so that they won't cripple me." He shakes his head. "No, I don't take what I have for granted, not at all. But as you say, if it isn't your way, I'll respect that."

It's then that the gardener brings out the honey for Strange, and he informs Kai, "Your grandmother would like you to fetch your horned friend from the lake." He doesn't elaborate.

Kai gives Strange a slight bow and tells him, "It was good to see you, Stephen. I should go, before the geese get restless." There it is writ upon his face: he is not cut out for rural living. But off he goes to take care of the situation before fowl play is involved.

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