2019-04-14 - Veterans Of an Old War


Kai visits Coney Island and meets a couple other old-timers there.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Apr 14 07:28:27 2019
Location: Coney Island

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Theme Song



It's evening, and the place is just starting to light up for the night. There's something of a crowd here in spring, though the weather is still cool enough to deter a portion of the masses. Walking the midway is a young blond with startling blue eyes. His golden curls obscure the tapering of his ears, but those fey eyes give him away as… well, if not beyond human than at least a staggering specimen of the species. He's in a cableknit sweater against the cool air and jeans, and he's got his hands wrapped around a coffee cup. Coney Island must be a place of wonder to him, the way he stands there, gazing at the midway with a small, nostalgic smile.

He's not the only one. There's a boy with long brown hair, pulled back into a low ponytail. He's wearing a Brooklyn Cyclones t-shirt and jeans, and he's got a sketch kit under one arm. The metal arm is somewhat hidden, in that he's got an opaque, flesh-colored sleeve on, ending in a black leather glove. And absurdly, over the sleeve, he's got one of those tattoo sleeves. A full-sleeve tattoo is decent concealment, at first glance, especially in the dimness of the evening. Standing off to one side, gazing at the spectacle.

Kai doesn't quite look old enough to have nostalgia, but this place, it has history. When he sees the artist, he smiles at him, and as his wandering brings him that way, he says, "This place has changed so much." His accent is English. "It boggles the mind, and yet it's still like I remember." He takes a sip of his coffee. "Except lattes, those are new. I like them."


"Can't complain about the coffee either." Clearly, that brown-haired boy has taught the other man behind them a thing or two about sneaking up on people. As if he belonged there, here steps up one Captain Rogers to Bucky's open side to take his place in an easy walk. "Better'n what they used to call it back in the trenches by a long shot," he continues, flashing both Elf and Bucky an easy smile.

He's in a light windbreaker in blue and black overtop a long-sleeved thermal shirt and jeans. Combat boots complete the outfit — along with a baseball cap sporting the Dodgers. This half of things has forgiven the team, at least. "Anyone seen the elephant ear stand yet?" he asks. "I've been thinking of one for days now."


"That way," says Buck, jerking the leather-clad thumb down the boardwalk. He grins at Kai. A look for Kair, bright-eyed. "Yeah. Coney doesn't change much, thank god. Too much of New York does." So little is as they remember. "I'm gonna make you eat, like, five and then ride the Cyclone," he threatens Steve, quietly. "For old times's sake."

Kai glances quickly to Steve, and those startling eyes brighten. "Oh, hello," he says, as if Captain America were a friend. In a way, isn't he? He's America's friend, and Kai spends a lot of time in America. He offers his hand, warmed from the coffee cup. "I'm Kai," he says. "Kai Alfsson. It's a singular honor to meet you." He asides to Bucky, "You as well. I haven't been here for ages, and the week I return, look who I run into."


Bucky gets a nice little side-glare for his comment at first. Holding back his smile to something more polite than a smirk, Steve returns the handshake offered to him by the Elf with gentle strength, firm and friendly. "Nice to meet you, Kai. Steve Rogers." The way he introduces himself has a wry amusement, as if he's very certain he's already been identified. "Don't listen to this guy here, he's nothing but trouble."

Steve's attention flicks back to Bucky. "You think I'm gonna hurl this time around? You underestimate me. You're on. You eat five elephant ears too and we'll see who survives."


There's a surprised glance to Steve. "You know who I am?" he asks. He's gotten used to life as STeve's shadow. But it doesn't seem to bother him. He does, however, put out a hand, too. "I'm always trouble," he agrees. "But mostly I go by Bucky Barnes."

Steve gets a dry look. "Yeah? Steve, you know I'm a bottomless pit."

Kai shakes both their hands, and he has an underlying strength his small frame doesn't imply. "Sure," he says, "I saw you at the museum. Captain Rogers and his lifelong friend. I think we might have met once, Sargent Barnes. Ardennes, 1944." He rubs at his chin. "I didn't have the beard then. There was that canteen, I was drinking soldiers under the table to win bets."


"Eat three turkey legs too and then it's fair, isn't it?" Steve's brows dance upwards and dare the other man to disagree. His attention shifts to Kai and he listens to the explanation as to how he knows of the Soldier, of all people, and he laughs quietly to himself.

"Really? I don't remember this, but then again…hmm. '44." He rubs behind one ear and lets his eyes wander down the midway in thought. "Probably in some meeting. God knows there were enough of those. You lose money to him?" he asks of Bucky, shooting him an amused glance before he looks to Kai. "You've probably got an iron liver to pull off that stunt."


The comment has Buck freezing under the onslaught of memory - the blue eyes get bigger and bigger. "Yeah," he says, slowly. Then, more brightly, "Yeah! God, I remember you! I thought you were a Finn, must be the accent." He turns to Steve. "This is the guy who put Dumdum under the table, remember?" Steve only saw the aftermath….Buck doesn't add that Steve was busy in some SSR meeting, making doe-eyes at Peggy.

Kai beams. "He was a big fellow, if I recall correctly. Yeah, I don't remember seeing Captain Rogers there, but you I remember," he says to Bucky. "You could hold your own around a pint." To Steve, he says, "I've got a constitution on par with an Asgardian. Poor bastards never saw it coming. Kept me fed and clothed for the winter, though, and I was part of the Resistance, so I gave back. Man, those were crazy times, weren't they?"


"Think that was the only time I saw Dumdum lose," comments Steve thoughtfully, his own brows wrinkled in his own personal flashback to the incident. Poor Dumdum. Yeah, he remembers well enough how the Englishman groused for days afterwards. "Seems a shame that I missed it now, especially if you were involved." He elbows Bucky very lightly, more a brush of the angled arm against the man's own.

"And it seems like a fair exchange to me," he comments to Kai. "I remember a few hands of poker to stave off the cold between engagements where I earned an extra layers or two."

And the rest of the Howling Commandos learned to fear Steve Rogers' poker face.


Except Bucky. Bucky has always known him too well. "Yeah. Dumdum never got over it. He was sure you had antifreeze for blood," he tells Kai, nodding. A grin at Steve, sidelong, curling. "Kai Alfson. But you're not ASgardian? I keep running into them. It's like they all got a wild hair to visit New York, or something."

"I'm from Alfheim," Kai says amiably. "One of the Nine Realms, the home of the Light Elves. I'm afraid my people don't get out much, so you won't meet very many on Midgard. I grew up here, though. Any time I spend away from New York is too long. I went back to Alfheim in 1966. I guess a bit has changed." He looks around, taking it all in again. "Some for the better, some not."


Steve steps aside to allow a young pair of siblings to continue running and giggling up the midway, headed for a ride in the distance. Here comes oldest sister, popping her bubblegum and looking at if she has SOOOO MANY BETTER THINGS TO DO, OMG. The Captain is sure to avert his face so as to avoid identification and smirks to himself as he eyebrows at both Bucky and Kai.

"Time changes everything," he agrees more solemnly than the now mild smile might allow. "Though Barnes isn't wrong. The Asgardian Embassy's in a constant state of flux. If you think you might know a face, visit there."


"It's crazy, yeah," Buck says, leaning himself against the boardwalk railing. He looks contented, in his way, the pale eyes half-lidding. It's Coney Island with the Captain and an old friend from the war - another survivor. "Nice to meet someone else who remembers it all." When all the human veterans are fading, like a tide retreating down the beach, leaving the few holdouts stranded like shells on the sand.

"I might peek in and see who there is to see," Kai says. "I have a little winery in the Valley of the Moon Elves, and we stay out of Asgardian politics as much as we can, but this could be a good way to rub elbows with the important people, maybe get a little recognition." That ought to drive his grandmother batty. He smiles playfully. "I'm just glad you two are still around. So many of my old friends are, well, old."


The good-natured smile hasn't disappeared from the Captain's lips. He nods at first to the shared sentiments and then looks away, out towards the water and the winkling lights of boats out on it.

"Takes a lot more 'n a few potshots to take us out of the running," he replies quietly as he glances back to both of them, his face still partially shadowed by the Dodgers baseball cap. "Figure we'll be around for a while yet. Barnes has it right though. It's a gift to find someone who was there."


That hat. It has Buck darting off on a conversational tangent. "Did you know the Dodgers moved to *LA*?" he asks the elf, indignant. His tone drips with scorn. How very dare, baseball team. "I mean, LA, of all places." You can practically hear the swearwords deleted in deference to Steve's tender ears.

"I know," Kai says, "LA, of all places. The bums." He doesn't seem too terribly bent about it, though. But he's a New Yorker at heart, so he has to at least give a nod toward outrage. "But things are still pretty good, I guess. They have cameras on phones now, and you don't have to call someone to talk to them, you just send a text. I'm still figuring out how to set up an Instagram page. I'm often confronted with interesting food I'd like to photograph."


A snort is Steve failing to hide the sudden upswing of amusement at the old, old, very old stance from the Soldier. "Dead horse, Barnes," he says, fond laughter in his tone. A taptap to the brim of his hat signifies where he stands: die-hard fan, forgiving of what time and social pressures did to the team's residency.

At the mention of cell phones, however, the Captain does look a bit more droll. "Still glad a face-to-face conversation has merit," he comments rather drily. "Though the lingo is beyond me sometimes still." The admission is accompanied by a glance to a nearby toddler who flings his pacifier away beyond the railing. Steve glances back over to Kai in particular and thumbs at the incident.

"You say 'yeet' there, right?"


Bucky rolls his eyes. Buck will ride a dead horse into the next county, if given the opportunity. "I should do that with that hat," he mutters, giving it a look. But he forces a more pleasant expression, as he looks back to Kai. "Yeah. I'm still getting the hang of it. Text messages…I don't get it. Going from the telegram to the phone was a step up. This seems like a step back."

"Is ''that'' what it is?" Kai says, then he laughs. "I suppose no one says 'groovy' anymore." He takes his phone from his pocket and says, "I know what you're saying, but I still want to get your contact info if you both don't mind. Face to face conversations still have quite a bit of merit, but the phones make them easier to arrange, and it's so good to see people who were there." He pauses, then adds, "And if you ever need help fighting evil, I've dabbled."


"You leave my hat alone, you punk," mutters the Captain. "It's a collectible." Only public presence keeps the blond from literally raspberrying at Bucky. The toddler wails for his pacifier, to no avail; that will teach him to test gravity in yeetings, poor kid.

He looks away from the squirming youngling and back to Kai. "Sure, I've got a number to share." His own phone comes out, a thing about three years behind in technological standards and plain glossy black, no covering — and no scratches or fractured glass. "Think you're right though," he adds to Bucky in particular with a rueful half-smile. "Maybe it'll change again while we're around."


"Pfft. You were in the Ardennes in '44. That's more than dabbled," Buck insists. But he's also got his phone out, even with a rebellious expression on. The hat gets a sly look. It is not long for this world.

Kai rattles off his number. He then says, "After the war, I came back to New York and helped people where I could. Fighting crime, that sort of thing. Didn't always get on so well with the police, but they didn't find out about most of my nocturnal activities. Now everyone's wearing a mask, it seems." He grins. "Maybe this time around I'll just enjoy myself, open a studio, sell some art." Not likely. He looks like the sort who can't leave trouble alone.


Steve's thumbs fly over his phone's screen as Kai shares his number. In a second, he shoots back a text with a confirmation as to his own identity, simply that of 'Steve Rogers'. He does, unfortunately, miss the meaningful glance given to his headwear. Woe betide you, hat, luck's not in your favor — going abruptly missing from Steve's possession just became a real risk.

"Seems like a good plan to me when things are quiet," he comments as to Kai's plan as he slides his phone away into his back jean-pocket again. "Less likely to rub elbows with the cops by opening a studio."


"I'm gonna go get you guys elephant ears." Kai is not consulted. He will eat them, it seems, whether he wants to or not. Whereupon he vanishes into the crowd. Kind of like a ninja.

"Ooh, thank you," Kai tells Bucky before he disappears. He's an Elf, of course he can put away insane amounts of sugar. To Steve, he says, "You're probably right. I can't just run off after every sad luck story. I should be laying low, getting my bearings. But ''if'' there was danger, and ''if'' you needed a hand, I can hold my own in a fight, and I'd follow Captain America to the ends of the Earth."


Kai gets a warm smile from the Captain. "I appreciate this, Kai. Thank you." It's not just a polite reply; the dignified earnesty is present if quiet, like a ripple on a slow-moving river. "Get your bearings 'nd if there's trouble you think you want a hand with? Text me." He glances back towards the elephant ear stand and laughs to himself. "Barnes might tag along if he's bored." He squints. "What…he said five, not six, that punk." With that mutter, he begins to walk away.

"Nice to meet you again, Kai. Until we meet again," Steve says with a little wave before he disappears into the crowd to go argue how many elephant ears he needs to eat before attempting the Cyclone.


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