2019-04-24 - Lords and Soldiers


A walk in the park leads to deep conversations.

Log Info:

Storyteller: N/A
Date: April 24th, 2019
Location: Central Park

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Theme Song



Hard to believe, but he's sometimes seen in public without Steven. And now Buck's doing laps around the Reservoir, dressed in jogging pants and one of his Cyclones t—shirts, long hair pulled back. He's maintaining a pace that the average human could only keep up for a few hundred meters….but by his expression , it's only a decent jog for him. Utterly unconscious of the looks he's getting from some of the other runners. The arm is, as it so often is, covered with that absurd sleeve that makes it look at a glance like he's merely got a sleeve tattoo.

Kai is walking along with a travel mug in one hand and a leash in the other. Attached to the leash by a rhinestone collar is a pug in a sweater. The pug is on the spectrum of so ugly she's cute, and the sweater is a pink affair with 'talk to the paw' knitted across the back. He stops as he sees Bucky running. Besides, the dog needs a break from all that huffing and puffing along.

Head down and looking over her notepad, Betty mutters to herself before slipping the item away in her purse. It was a long, well…few days by now, and the dirty-blonde's mind was swimming. It was swimming and she was drowning. Brushing her hair back and out of the way, the woman sets her eyes out to explore her surroundings. The sun was setting shortly but at least the late afternoon air was warm enough. Her strides are smooth and she's sure to stay out of the way of anyone jogging about. She, too, spots faces she saw a few days ago. Should they notice her, all she can offer them is a tired, practiced smile.

When he spots Kai, he slows to a halt. Flushed, sweaty, but not even perceptibly winded. Were those just warm-up laps? Maybe so. But then he spots the dog, and his grin appears. "Who's that little butterball you got there, Kai?" he asks. Even assassins love dogs. Then there's Betty, and the smile fades. He lifts a hand to her in greeting.

Kai glances down at the dog and says, "This is Princess. I have no idea who she belongs to. Her owner came out of her house, asked if I was the dog-walker, and before I could reply, she shoved some money in my hand and told me to be back by five." He shrugs. Stuff like this just happens to him. "You're a cute little butterball, aren't you, little round dog?" he coos at Princess, who huffs and puffs and wags her ridiculous corkscrew tail. Meanwhile, Kai glances over at Betty and brightens. "Oh, hello."

The reaction is somewhat divided. Bucky sombers and Kai beams. Nibbling her lower lip, she offers the pair a wary wave before inching closer in their direction. "Hey. Sorry." She addresses Bucky first. "I'll keep moving so I don't intrude." She offers them both, glancing at the dog briefly.

"You're not intruding. This is Kai, an old friend of mine. I'm Bucky," he says, as if remembering that maybe they didn't exactly get proper introductions done at the bar. "Uh, I….don't think I got your name the other night."

"Yeah, you're not intruding on anything," Kai says. Princess waddles over to Betty, sniffing and snorting. Poor thing has been bred with a smush-face that makes breathing difficult. She seems happy to see Betty, though. "Aw, she likes you," Kai says. He leans down and scoops the dog into his arms so she can see people closer to eye level. The dog grunts and wags.

"I remember," she nods in Kai's direction. She had met the Elf before thanks to Koa, Sif, and Keiko. "Bucky," she repeats, offering her hand out habitually. "Betty, it's Betty. Nice to meet you formally." Her head cants as she asks, "How is your sketching coming along?" Then to the dog, she takes a step back and offers it a smile, along with Kai. "Did you find a good place in Brooklyn, Kai?" Conversational and oddly stiff, the woman looks between the pair in turn.

He takes her hand, shakes it firmly. His gaze searches her face, as if seeking any sign of recogition. "Good to meet you." A sidelong grin for the dog. "She's cute, though I feel like they bred both the brains and the health out of those poor little guys." Then he's looking between them. "You guys know each other already?"

Kai says, "Yeah, she's a sad little thing," Kai says and he gives the dog a cuddle. The dog licks his nose and he laughs, turning his face away. "We met the other day," Kai tells Bucky. "It was amazing, a man walked out of a building covered in glitter. It was like an intensely localized pride parade. Lady Sif was there, so I hung around to escort her back to the Embassy." To Betty, he says, "I haven't found anything yet, but I'm staying in the Embassy for now."

Betty Brant parts her lips to speak, Kai covering the basics as she nods. "That's where I met you, too." She tells Bucky. "Before the bar, I mean. That place is um…special." She decides, squinting off and nodding at her selection. To Kai, "Queens is a great place, too, if you're looking elsewhere. If your heart is set on Brooklyn then, I'm sure you'll find a place." Pause, "The Embassy? It's…Asgardian? Are you Asgardian, too?" To Bucky, she eye's his sleeve, her brows knitting together before softening. "Trying out a new look?" She inquires.

"Something like that," he says, innocently. She did only see him with the long-sleeved shirt on, before. "Oh, neat. Lady Sif? Haven't met her yet, though I've run into a few Asgardians around here."

Kai inclines his head to Betty and says, "I'm from Alfheim. We're close allies with Asgard, and they're kind enough to let me use the Embassy. Lady Sif and I have been acquainted before, and it's good to see her again. She's great, Bucky. Fierce as they come." He perks up, then adds, "I got us a ride to Asgard and Alfheim, when you want to go on that trip. I said it was for political reasons."

Betty Brant nods then, just listening as the two converse. She smiles and glances at the dog, turning her head away and eyeing down the path leading toward the other side of the park. "That sounds amazing. I hope the pair of you have a great trip, when you take it." Looking toward Bucky, she asks, "What other Asgardians have you ran into, if I may ask."

Bucky grins at Kai, eyes brightening. "Oh, that's great. I'll talk to Steve. See when we can get the time to go." Then he looks back to Betty, "Uh, Prince Thor. Prince Loki. Uh…..another big blond one that isn't Thor. I don't think I got his name."

"Baldur?" Kai supplies helpfully. "Those are the princes, all right. I've never met them, but I'm just a minor lord from Alfheim. We don't really rub elbows with the royals." He gives Princess another cuddle, then puts her down so she can sniff around.

"Loki, Thor…Baldur." Sighing, she gives a low whistle and rubs at her eyes. "This is insane." Another brush back of her hair she gives the pair a smile. "I'll let you two get your travel plans all set up. I should get going. Enjoy your evening, gents. Bucky, um…Lord Kai?" She attempts, rubbing at the nape of her neck.

"Yeah, Baldur," says Buck, nodding. "That must be the guy." He's watching Betty with some curiosity. "You, uh, find any solutions to the problem you were asking about the other night?" he wonders.

Kai laughs brightly and says, "Today, I'm Dog-walker Kai. Just Kai is fine. I'm here to get away from being a lord for awhile. I just want to enjoy myself, meet intresting people, and apparently acquire dogs." He glances down at Princess, who is laying down, getting dirt on her nice pink sweater. "Isn't that right, Princess?" The dog looks up at him, tongue lolling.

Betty Brant steps back and turns to leave. The question from Bucky causes her to pause. She stares and at length, she nods. "I think so. Just coming to grips with it. Thank you." Soft in voice, but genuine, she smiles and eyes Kai. "Kai it is. Have a good one, guys." A wave now as she turns to leave, her legs moving her away from the pair and the squishface puppo on the ground.

He nods at that, but doesn't seem entirely sold on the idea. "I'll see you again at that bar, I bet," he says, quietly. Then he's grinning at Kai, conspiratorially. "Dog walker Kai, eh? That's hilarious. YOu're too nice a guy, Kai."

Kai grins and says, "Nah, it's fine. I was just taking a walk anyway. Besides, I get to trot around this sweet girl for awhile. Reminds me of the time I had a dog while I was living here. They're great conversation starters. I was thinking of getting another one." He sighs softly. "I hate being alone, and I'm not exactly set socially, so maybe a pooch would take the edge off."

"I'd'a thought there'd be plenty to do at the Embassy," he says, thoughtfully. "Dogs are great. Never had one myself, though. Never lived anywhere I could. You should come by and visit me and Steve sometime. We got a nice place in Brooklyn. I don't even need to polish the roaches."

Kai shrugs. "Not really. I have a suite there, but I don't really do anything, and the people coming in and out usually have somewhere to be." He smiles again and says, "I'd love to come see you guys. I promise, I'm a delightful third wheel." Yeah, he's figured out those two are more than friends. He's not blind.

Bucky gives him a sidelong look, at that. Yeah, he's a little pink. "You're not a third wheel. You're our friend," he says, simply. "I mean, we still live pretty quiet, so….well, we could play cards."

"I'm used to being a third wheel," Kai says, "don't worry about it. I don't attract nice people, and I'm don't date bad guys, so…" He laughs then. "We're not going to play cards. Were going to drink Firefly wine and tear things up. Feats of strength, boasting, and other revelry. Have you ever partied with the Asgardians? It's an experience you could learn from."

"I haven't. I hear there's gonna be a party at the Embassy sometime soon," he says. "And sure, sounds good. Steve needs to get drunk, and so do I, and it's damn near impossible here."

"You just need a proper drink," Kai says. "I spoke to Fandral at the Embassy, and he was mentioning a party. I'm giving up some wine to the cause. It's something mortals can handle in small amounts. We don't want to go around poisoning the populace."

"I do need a proper drink," Buck agrees, with a little laugh. "No denyin'. And I bet it's better than the hooch we had during the war," He shakes his head reminiscently, nods at the path. "Let's walk a little. I think Miss Huff and Puff there has recovered a bit."

Kai pulls a face. "That stuff we drank during the war was an insult to my bloodline. But I did it anyway." He nods to walking and tugs Princess along. "She's actually a nice little dog. I hope they're nice to her. I might not get back by five, but I already decided I won't steal her. I need a dog who can run when I need to run."

Bucky looks down at her. "Yeah. Poor little thing. I feel sorry for dogs in New York, it's a damn near impossible place for them. Better than it was."

"Yeah, dogs need a place to run around," Kai says. "And the ability to run. This poor thing was bred to just lay there and struggle to breathe. But she seems happy enough. Don't you, Princess?" Princess knows her name, and she wags, huffing proudly.

He stoops to scratch behind her ears, gently, with the human hand. "Right? Some of the stuff humans do to pure-bred animals….I don't get it. She has the heart and instinct of a wolf, but this ridiculous little body…."

"People are ridiculous," Kai says. "I don't know why they do the things they do. I like dogs, though. I like cats, too. I was thinking of getting a cat, but you can't really take a cat for a walk. I like to explore and they prefer to stay in." He laughs a little. "My dog wanted to be friends with cats so badly, and they always swatted him. Finally, we went back to Alfheim and my grandmother's cat decided to be friendly. He finally got his kitty friend."

"What kinna dog you thinking of g etting here? An earth dog? Or do they have dogs in Alfheim?" Buck wonders, as he straightens.

Kai shrugs and says, "Some mutt. I don't know. We have dogs in Alfheim, and they're fine beasts, mostly made for hunting or protection. We don't really breed them into ridiculous shapes like they do here. A dog need to be able to breathe, and run, and fulfill its purpose."

He even bends down to scoop up the pug, cuddle her for a moment. "Poor little wheezer. YOu do your best," he tells her, to her little black-masked face.

The dog cuddles and tries to lick Bucky's face. She's a happy little dog, for all her wheezing and grunting. "She does," Kai says. "And she's done really well. I've carried her in spots, but she's done a lot of walking herself. Short spates, slow pace. We won't be outrunning any wolves any time soon."

He permits it, laughing a little. As she starts to wriggle, he does set her down again. "Hopefully we don't have any wolves in Central Park. Didn't, last I knew."

"Oh, they've come before," Kai says. "Not native to here, of course, but summoned to the Wild Hunt. The dark elves found a way into this world. There were wolves, vicious elk, dark elvish riders armed to the teeth." He shudders. "The guy I was with, he thought it would be fun to put me through my paces, I guess. Let me tell you, wolves are fast."

There's a somber nod from him, at that. "I've never dealt with ….with magical ones. But I've fought earth wolves in Siberia," Buck allows. "And they were no joke."

Kai shakes his head. "No, they're not. The magical ones aren't great, either." With a small smile, he says, "I died, you know. Had my throat ripped out. My friends actually went to the afterlife and pulled me out again. My lover…" He shakes his head. "He had already moved on. I was supposed to stay dead, you see."

"That's too bad," Buck's voice is low. "We both came back from the dead, then. I was supposed to stay dead, too."

Kai shrugs. "Sometimes breaking up isn't enough," he says. "It was fifty years ago. I'm over it. I just… I don't trust easily. I see happy couples, and feel a twinge, but I'm all right these days. Alfheim is a peaceful place to recover from a broken heart. I'm sure my grandmother will gladly find me an appropriate wife who will be perfectly nice."

Bucky starts to amble down the path. Lazily, slow enough for even little pug pads to keep up. "You guys do arranged marriages?" he wonders.

"Not really," Kai says. "Rather, not officially, but one of these days there's going to need to be an heir, and it's unlikely I'm going to find someone the old-fashioned way. If it's just for the paperwork, it might as well be with a woman. I'll be kind to her, of course. I'm not a monster."

"They can't just pass it on to whoever's next, in terms of your family? Brother, cousin? I dunno how that works for you guys," he says, as the pug tugs to go after him. "Had a guy I fought alongside in Europe who was a lord of some kind, if I remember right."

Kai shakes his head and says, "I'm an only child. I suppose it could go to a cousin. My mother might still have another child, but I doubt it. She didn't really want me, but I surprised her." He waves a hand. "It's all just complicated lists of names on paper. I don't really care about it, but.

"A surprise, huh?" he says, with a funny little quirk to his lips. "That was my little sister. Kind of a …late present, as my mom used to say," There's a momentarily wistful look in the pale eyes.

"I don't think mum ever called me a gift," Kai says with a laugh. "Though she did say I was a blessing when I got them out of prison. Long story, they stole something. I didn't have a traditional upbringing."

That makes him consider. "What's a traditional upbringing, for your people?" he wonders, as Princess huffs and puffs along with them. "Do you live with just your parents, as kids? OR a big castle?"

"We tend to grow up in Alfheim, for starters," Kai says. "And we're not brought up to be pickpockets and lookout for criminal parents. They've reformed, though. They were young and looking for adventure. I think they got more than they bargained for." He waves his hand dismissively and says, "No big castle. Not for me. We have a nice manor, one of the nicest around, but it's not a castle."

Bucky gives him one of those little, impish smiles. "I guess I assumed everyone in that part of the worlds had a castle. Never lived in one myself, though I helped take a few, when I was in Europe."

"Oh, I've stayed in castles," Kai says. "I've even stayed in Asgard's castle once. It's not a castle the way you're thinking of the ones in Europe. It's…" His gaze goes distant. "How does one describe Asgard? It's otherworldly. It's massive. It's glorious. My manor is a hovel by comparison, but it suits us."

"I dunno why you guys give us the time of day at all," Buck's voice is thoughtful. "We're little, grubby, and short-lived here, by comparison. You've got magic and not technology…."

"I love humans," Kai says. "First of all, you lot practically raised me. Second, magic is just fancy technology. Even though you all change so quickly, culturally, my heart is here. I grew to enjoy the rapid changes. Alfheim moves so slowly, if it moves at all. You're not grubby or little. The people who literally took me out of Hel were mortals." He smiles sadly. "Time has taken its toll on them, but they were fine people. Heroes."

"'m glad you are here," he says, with real fervor in his voice. "Someone else who remembers me frm during the war." ANother anchor, another bulwark, another vote for James Barnes versus Zola's monster.

Kai says earnestly, "I'm glad you're here, too. Someone I haven't lost to time. I remember when Captain America went down in the ice, you know. I wondered how all you lot were getting on. It was so sad. I was in Paris by then, and even there, there was weeping in the streets."

His voice has gone soft, as if trying to ward off memories. "I was gone by then. I….fell off a train in the mountains. I died, or close to. But our enemies found my body and turned me into this…."

Kai nods solemnly. "The war took its toll," he says. "I came out of it lucky. I lost friends, but I was still myself, and I survived. I'm well aware not everyone had that luxury." He hesitates, then lays a hand on Bucky's shoulder. "We survived," he says emphatically.

"I look forward to drinking your health at the Embassy," Buck says, forcing the grin back to his lips. No being grim. The touch he doesn't seem to mind.

Kai grins, dimples returning easily. "And I to yours," he says. "And I'll take you and Steve as far away from the war as a body can get. Peace personified." He scoops up Princess, who is in need of a rest. "It'll be a good time. You'll see, though, why I had to come back to New York. I need the sound of people around me."

"Sounds g ood. We could use a vacation. Drinking, being outdoors…..Steve will never take a trip, unless I force him to," he says, laughing a little.

"Well, tell him it's diplomacy. He would be insulting the Alfheimian nobleman if he refuses his generous offer, and that the goodwill of the sorceress, his grandmother, could come in useful someday. She has been known to show favor to those she likes, and she's a great and powerful entity." He sighs a little and adds, "She really is, you know."

Fingerguns for Kai, both gloved and not. "That'll be a good excuse. He used to do PR tours all the time, remember? I bet he can charm elves, too," Buck nods, so very certain. "I bet she is. Magic is terrifying."

Kai grins. "I bet my gran will love him. He's a good boy, dutiful, and he's got a good heart. She'll tell me I could stand to be more like him, if only I were more disciplined." He rolls his eyes. "It'll be worth it, though, to see you two having some downtime. Just a weekend, and if anything in Midgard happens that requires you two, one of the Asgardians will let us know, I'm sure."

"Perfect," he says, with a smile that's a little dreamy. "You guys…..you don't care about guys pairing up, right?" Only the faintest quaver of uncertainty in Buck's voice at that….but the look in his eyes is wary.

"Honey, I'm queer as a three dollar bill," Kai says. "It's one of the few things my grandmother doesn't care about. We don't have the same religious background you guys have here. No one ever told us it was wrong, so…" He shrugs. "One of the few ways I prefer Alfheim, truth be told."

Bucky lets out a long sigh. "That'll be a relief," he says. "It's hard, here, sometimes, though it's much better than it was. I'll talk to him about it. It may take a bit for him to work out the time…."

"We've got nothing but time, so just let me know," Kai says. "In the meantime, I'm at the Embassy and always happy to have friends come over. You two can relax and be yourselves. No one's going to care, especially behind closed doors."

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