2020-05-01 - Tea and Buckle


Ambrose drops by to check on a Valkyrie.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri May 1 05:46:22 2020
Location: Queens

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Only so recently, the modern-day, rag-tag equivalent of the Scooby Doo Gang had returned from the sandy wastes outside of Basra. Ambrose had survived the affair handily with great thanks in part to the mental bolstering of his other half, but he had noticed how the others had fared as well.

As such, he presents himself after a furtive ride on the subway to feed the Bane and soothe it at the front door to the Karensky household. Resting atop one gloved hand in a glass baking pan covered in foil, Kent's own homemade blueberry-clove buckle — made by Ambrose himself, so the exact quality of the dessert might be in some question. His other hand rises to knock at the door. The silver-haired Jackal then takes a half-step back and glances around a touch nervously. He doesn't think anyone followed him here, but it doesn't mean the fine hairs on his neck don't rise.

"Lady Astryd…?" he half-calls out, volume checked on the off-chance of someone overhearing such a formal title.

The blonde who opens the door is a lot more casual than Ambrose has ever seen in a T-Shirt that says "Walking Dead" on it and a pair of yoga pants. "Ambrose? Were … we expecting you? Come in." The woman asks, holding the door for the man so he can enter. "Is something wrong?"

She peers around as well, up and down the street, even the house is a fair way back.

"Fenris is around somewhere, shall I tell him you're here?" That could mean he's almost anywhere, given the bond the Valkyr and the God Wolf have.

Ambrose is formal as is his wont, because leaving the house in a t-shirt alone is still nearly tantamount to Victorian undergarmentry display. Beneath his long-coat is a button-down in a deep blue nearing black and jeans in concession to modern fashion; rather than combat boots, Oxfords.

"Oh, um, no, you were likely not expecting me," the Jackal says, smiling just a touch awkwardly. "By all means, do inform Lord Fenris that I have arrived if you wish."

He does enter the abode, almost skirting in like a blown leaf, and only seems to relax once the front door has been shut. "I…well, Kent and I rather thought you appeared…shaken," he explains delicately, hazarding at the Valkyrie's pride in matters. "I thought it best to bring over some of Kent's blueberry buckle." The foil-covered baking dish is lifted to bring attention to it. "This pairs splendidly with many a cup of tea and…"

He rolls his eyes about and off to one side, clearly somewhat sheepish about the whole affair. "We did wonder if you and Lord Fenris were well after the excursion to the…with the chained personage and…yes."

It's like he's silently begging her to take the dessert off his hands now with how he glances down at it and back to Astryd again in her yoga pants and t-shirt that only now he reads. It makes him snort faintly; his lips twitch and betray him. Irony abounding.

"Oh. Good. That we weren't expecting you… You are always welcome however." Astryd is quick to add the last. She's pale again and looking drawn as she leads him into the lounge. There's evidence here that she's been home for a while, a book (trashy romance - there's some tartan and a castle on the cover) rests on the coffee table, the remote to the TV on the arm of the couch where some crochet lays. That … looks like a baby blanket she's making.

Taking the buckler, the Valkyr smiles - it softens the stern lines of her face a little. "Tea then. Give me a moment to get that in order and we can talk."

Leaving Ambrose to make himself comfortable, the Valkyr disappears. In not much time, she returns with a tray laden with teapot, mugs and the buckle. "You would like to know the story of Tammuz and I?"

Getting comfortable for the Jackal requires shucking his coat at the hanging hooks by the door and then ensconcing himself in one of the chairs bereft of any of Astryd's personal items. It is manners long-instilled in him not to infringe on personal space — the curse of the Bane's bite certainly aided this habit. Settling in with hands rested on the chair's arms and legs with ankle crossed at his knee, he briefly wonders about aiding the Valkyrie, but she does seem to do as she pleases. He decides to remain a seated guest.

When Astryd returns, he looks up from thoughtfully frowning at the blanket in particular. It's a curious frown, non-judgmental, and he glances up, pale eyebrows lifting. "Of course, my lady, should you wish to share it. I will spot you an explanation in turn, as you'd like," replies the gentleman-thief with a small, true smile that dimples one side of his lips.

Astryd wouldn't say no to the assistance but she would never ask a guest to aid her.

"The blanket? It's a hobby. When I have time, I make them and donate them to the neo-natal units. They often like knitted goods for the little ones and I like the pattern. I also like the thought that something I crafted goes to life and not death."

Rearranging the couch a little, the blonde pours tea and distributes it before curling up there. "Do you remember, Ambrose, when we went to retrieve Loki's bow in that Garden?" She starts. He should. She'd taken him and others on a quest for that - and it had involved them all being transported out without … her.

"Ah. A good cause," replies Ambrose as he takes his demi-tasse of tea with a grateful nod. His own small plate is amply served with a scoop of the blueberry-clove buckle and he sits back in his chair, resting the plated dessert plus spoon on his thighs. A sip of his tea and he nods in approval before setting it aside on the nearby table tucked against the side of the furniture.

"I do, as a matter of fact. It was a grand fiasco and adventure both." His eyes, still lit within by Bane-glow, find Astryd's face unerringly now, his expression sobering. "I also have vague memory of your return not being one of immediacy."

"It was not immediate. I had intended on buying time for you all to depart and leaving myself by the Underways." Astryd confirms. "Tammuz had other ideas, caught me and chained me. Fenris … came looking when I did not return in a timely fashion. They … fought."

It seems that she's glossing over a lot of things there but Ambrose can tell she will answer if asked. "When we left, Fenris had ensured the God would try for me again anytime soon…"

"I had expected to see him again - just … not like that."

His set of face solemn, Ambrose listens. His brows invariably knit in what must be some form of consternation at the god stupid enough to attempt to chain this particular Valkyrie. They part and lift again as he nods, clearly sucking on a canine tooth behind his closed lips.

"I certainly did not expect to find a single living thing inside the tomb myself," he agrees after a clicking-pop of suction released from tongue to tooth. "I understand well why Lord Fenris would have fought. I would do the same if someone took Kent from me. You are…" The master-thief pauses a moment to search for words.

"…merciful to have released him, in my opinion. I thought I heard my mate counsel him to left there. I would have done the same. I do not share your more virtuous manner of mercy, my lady."

It seems he's not going to pry. Victorian manners and all.

"What is between Tammuz and I, is between him and I - and Fenris …" Astryd says quietly. "We took something from him and he sought to redress the balance. What is you Midgardians say? He chose poorly. But he did not deserve that and I do not know why he was chosen by Gurim or the Void - if indeed it was Gurim that had anything to do with it - but he did not deserve that and I could nothing else."

"Your mate, Kent, was concerned that we would unleash the thing inside him. I had faith in you and whatever you were doing." The blonde takes a sip of her tea and fixes Ambrose with a cool grey look. "You said that place was were you … left your past behind, I believe. Was that where you found the bane?"

A goodly volume of his tea vanishes between Astryd's thoughts. It had been paused lifted to his mouth, after all, in case of need for words on his part. As it stands, he nods towards his Valkyrie host before she changes tacts.

This requires him to set aside his tea again and swallow a touch more carefully. Even so, he meets and holds those grey eyes a cast different than the eyes of Kent, these the shifting grey of the old waves of London fog over the Thames.

"I lost my past there," he quietly clarifies, again adopting a more delicate sense of speaking. "It was…where I was taken by the curse, yes." A fluttering twitch of emotion flickers through his face, but he clears his throat and steels his spine nonetheless. Some of Kent's own mental bolstering keep the worst of the old, old panic at bay. "My platoon and I trespassed upon the site when it was revealed from the sands. I lost men. Only myself and another survived. He also died not long after. You…know well enough of Oliver," the Jackal finishes in something just above a whisper, his gaze diverted off to one side as he scratches at his jawline.

"I had not realised we would be visiting there. Things have been a tad … quick … here for a while and I'm so … " she gestures. It's no secret to Ambrose that all is not well there, he's seen her wane and the creature that is bound to her.

"You had thought Oliver lost, did you not, until recently? It was Gurim who offered him a second chance? I'm sorry for your pain in all that but you would not have met Kent if it had not occured, correct?"

Ambrose nods acknowledgement of both the Valkyrie's state and that yes, he had thought Oliver just another pale ghost of memory in his mind. His glance up lingers on her face and she appears to say just the right thing. A faint huff leaves him, but his lips turn up at the corners.

"No, I would not have ended up in Shanghai as I did and we would not have come to daggers drawn as we did…at first," he allows with a flick of his brows. A slight tuck of chin comes after, his attention shifting to the buckle now. He spoons up a bite, but doesn't eat it just yet.

"It is…bizarre how Fate plays with the unspooling of our lives. If some wise woman had told me I would be alive now, in the twenty-first century, married, and with two children, and be sharing a cuppa with a genuine Valkyrie? I would have scoffed." A quick flicker of a grin is almost boyish at Astryd. "I am truly honored to be considered a proper visitor to your home, Lady Astryd, it is…" He seems briefly overwhelmed by the active realization and swallows. "Truly, it is an honor," he says firmly and nods curtly.

"Fate is a cruel mistress or cruel mistresses, as the case may be, but it does play a part in our lives. It is why Fenris … and I" Astryd does pause as she adds herself to that list "… are so careful about what we tweak. As a young Valkyr, I had great dreams of riding into battle for Odin and escorting the dead to Valhalla. I never imagined, even in my wildest dreams, that I would be a Raven of Fenris and able to walk the Underways of others. It is strange, is it not how things turn…"

Sipping her tea, Astryd is lost to her thoughts for a moment and blinks as Ambroses tone firms. "You are a friend, Ambrose. Such as I have them. I … do not connect with mortals easily - your lives are so fleeting, normally, that our outlooks differ a lot."

She's not spoken on how she and Fenris met, nor on the troubles assailing her. "Daggers drawn? Oh, this is a story, I must hear …"

"Oh. It was…rather a simple affair." Is Ambrose faintly blushing now? He gestures with his spoonful of buckle as he explains, not exactly meeting Astryd's eye. "I thought he had a relic, I wanted it enough to challenge him for it, he…used his mentalism to turn the tables, and I found it offensive enough to shoot him through the shoulder. It became this…long, drawn-out affair wherein at one point or another, one of us decided it was better to cease attempting to incite a war at every moment and to coexist. That was a year or two into things, as it stands." The Jackal does affect a long-suffering sigh. "Still…his presence was able to calm the curse and…needless to say, we found the means to coexist peacefully."

That is very much NOT the total truth, the whole truth, and nothing else for it, but now the man's cheeks are definitely redder than usual. A more entertaining variant of things will no doubt be garnered from Kent (who lives to tweak his other half more deeply mired in Victorian prudery).

"But you and Lord Fenris, no doubt your meeting was more chivalrous?" he asks, then stopping up his mouth with his bite of buckle.

"So a long and drawn courtship, I take it?" Astryd smirks, finishing her buckle and wiping her mouth with a serviette. A cloth one, not a paper one! With her cup set down, the Valkyr takes up the crochet and begins to work at it, not really looking at what she's doing as she's done this for a very long time.

She doesn't miss the blush and makes a note to ask Kent should she ever see him again. "I'm sure you have some fond memories of that time." She's being … blase.

"Chivalrous? I don't know I'd say that. Fenris was tethered by Gleipnir, Tyr was cursing the loss of a hand and I had been assigned as my Lords warden. All the Valkyrs knew he was dangerous. A beast nothing more. A beast who would eat the sun and end us … " She shakes her head "That is all I needed to know, back then. I was … young."

"Fond memories, yes," murmurs the Jackal down at his buckle, clearly attempting to aim his scrunched smirk down at his dessert and not give away how immensely flustered he is at the entire affair. He does glance up when he feels he's regained more of his composure and spoons another bite of buckle into his mouth. It's not half-bad, but Kent does make it better — must be the ratio of clove to cinnamon or something within the spices, he muses to himself.

"Ah-hah. I thought you to be one enamored with the idea of courting danger, my lady." Now it's apparently his turn to very blandly note, "I suppose it was his teeth that you admired most? Or the air of dread, perhaps? It does twist the innards."

"Your mate is a very good cook, Ambrose. Please convey my thanks for the treat. It is nice … when someone does that. Fenris has been cooking a lot lately, he's been insisting I sleep when I can. And think of the stories you can tell your grand children, great grandchildren and beyond should you ever meet them."

There's a soft snort to his teasing "I wasn't so much, when I was young but tending Fenris, I came to know him and discovered he was more than the Beast we had been told." It's a quiet retelling, for a moment the Valkyrie is lost in those memories. "Through our conversations I came to realise that he was more by Fate than any of us and that he was … tired I suppose … of being the destroyer. He wanted more for himself and in time, so did I."

Having garnered his reaction in her snort, Ambrose merely allows himself a coy little smirk inferring a cat with a canary feather stuck in whiskers. Now far more self-satisfied in air, he finishes another third of his serving of buckle before he thinks to chime in once more.

"I understand deeply the wish to be one's own pawn, free of Fate's machinations. I did not understand Fate until Kent explained it to be. He apparently learned of its intricacies in his time at Shambhala, when…when we were separated." He gestures with his spoon towards Astryd and adds, "I attempted this recipe myself, so do not be afeared to tell me if I used too much salt or sugar or the like. It is Kent who normally makes it, yes, and I will let him know it is always welcome here."

A sigh. "We do not have grandchildren yet, insofar as we are aware, but should that day come, then…yes, I suppose there will be grand tales to tell." His smile is softer now, apparently genuinely pleased by this idea.

"You were seperated? Was that recently when I went to find him, or previously?" Astryd asks trying to patch together a potted history of Ambrose. She notes the cat who got the cream look from the gentlemen thief. "The recipe is good, Ambrose and my compliments to you. It's a nice balance of flavours."

"I became more bold as I came to understand Fenris. And yes, that air of dread … doesn't quite twist my innards." There's the teasing again. "I petitioned Odin to release him, to let the God Wolf find another way. For my betrayal, as the All Father saw it, I was exiled from Asgard. Banished to the corner of the nine realms with no weapons and no access to the bifrost to travel. I think it was about then I decided that being meek wasn't a trait that … suited … me."

"Grandchildren are wonderful things, Ambrose. Particularly when you can rile their parents by spoiling them." There's something a little wistful in the way she speaks.

"Then young miss Mira and mister Sterling should do their best to remain childless with whomever catches their eye, else I get it into my head to rile them in my spoiling of their own offspring." It's fond tease aimed at the absent daughter and son-in-law in question, no doubt tucked safely away at the manor in Upper East Manhattan. "They have no significant others than I am aware of at this time," he further clarifies. There's a teensy note of protective-Dad-growl in there, just a tich.

"I am sorry to hear of your banishment, however. It seems…rather heavy-handed," muses the Jackal. "Still, you appear have made the best of it. One can recover from anything if one simply walks it off…even death, I hear." A wry little twinkle goes through his Bane-lit eyes even as he sips his tea.

"It was death which separated us." Ambrose grows solemn again. "Or rather, the unintended deception of it. His plane went down in the high mountains of the Himalayas not but two years into our time together. I received word of the wreckage, burnt to the hull, and no bodies. It…I did not break me, but it gave me impetus to leave Shanghai and to travel to India. You know well enough my history there, I suppose."

"Ah, when the time comes, if it comes, you will enjoy immensely, I'm sure. I got to spend so little time with my grandchildren - it was always time for me to move on before they had grown too much." That could make sense as she barely aged and that would cause questions she might wish to avoid.

"But I was always able to return to my lord." And now, they're dealing with those recalcitrant children of his.

"The exile? It took a while, but I was able and I was willing. I studied with others and learned more of my power. Odins reaction … is very Odin, I must say. He saw my petition as a defection and … corruption… I guess. I did not know until I reached Midgard some thousand years later that my Lord had been banished some time after me. He was not, of course, at that time my Lord."

She blinks at the story and shakes her head. "I'm sorry to hear that. You went searching for the answers to the wreck or something else? Is that … where you met Rachana and the Cult, Ambrose?"

Drinking the rest of his tea, the master-thief then sets aside the empty cup on the chair-side table once more. There's no more than a scraping bite or two left of the buckle now. He considers it for a short period of time before looking up at Astryd again.

"I was grieving…and enraged at the entire world for taking him from me. I knew there was no answer to be found in a burnt-out hull half-buried in a blizzard's snow. The cult…and Rachana, they offered me what I saw to be a compass-north when I was lost. Everything I loved I had lost. What was left to me but to survive? To indulge in what skimmings of happiness I could find and the curse is…passionate in encouragement to feed," he decides, still not completely certain he's explained it correctly by the thinning of his lips. "All the while, Kent was safely in Shambhala, exacting his own art under the tutelage of masters, apparently knowing that we would one day find one another again — something about Fate."

He shakes his head. "But you found Lord Fenris after another…thousand years? I cannot imagine such a time separated."

"There's more tea if you'd like it…" Astryd gestures to the teapot as she turns the row on the blanket she's working. She listens though and there's the faintest of smiles, her face still as pale as before though. "It's somewhat … annoying … at times, is it not when your partner has such knowledge, or perhaps faith, and forgets to share it with you?"

"I'm sure you can't. Not many can. But then, I am over 3000 years old. It was but a blink in my life, really. Found, I suppose you could say that. I walked the Underways and made my way here, to come out in a battle where he was fighting. It was an … interesting … reunion that evening." It might explain though why they don't seem to mind being separated for decades at a time though.

"I think you've far more patience even than Kent himself — far more than myself," opines Ambrose with a half-smile. He does reach for the teapot and pours himself a new cuppa, taking a moment this time to dress it with a dollop of cream.

"And it is annoying, yes, though the art of being able to simply think at one's partner how he's a dratted spindleshank does save the general public from many verbal arguments." When Ambrose sits back in the chair again, he eats the final bite of buckle and places this aside. More tea, yes — for now, he's content having had his serving of buckle. He looks at Astryd and then narrows his eyes. There is the sense of distancing, as if he might be borrowing the Bane for a temporary sensory boost, before he seems to simply observe her.

"You seem pale. I would offer you a blood transfusion, but those are messy things and while I might be still walking, I would prefer not to be the walking dead." Yes, a crack at her shirt, and a faint smile.

"Among my kind, I am classed as reckless and impatient. Longevity gives a very different outlook, I think. But back then, we did not know we would be reunited and even then, we did not expect a partnership that would span the ages. But it has. He took me as consort and made me his Raven, breaking the final ties I had to Odin."

The shirt, as far as Astryd is concerned, is hilarious. She *hates* the show but a Valkyrie wearing the name of it? She chuckles. There's no comment on silent conversation with ones partner though she does cast Ambrose a knowing look. "I … Fenris is still bleeding me regularly to keep the curse at bay. It takes some of my … spirit, I suppose you could say and leaves me weak. Combined with the Maeljin that has attached itself to me …" Did Ambrose know about that, she can't remember. "… it is a constant state of being exhausted."

The pale-haired Jackal frowns. "Maeljin… I am unfamiliar with the creature, though the name portents nothing good. I would offer assistance in its removal, but I am no user of magic beyond my curse and the ring. Perhaps Kent might have some wisdom in matters? His is a masterful skill at concocting incenses which might help purify your aura, if that is what it feeds upon? A thought — you and Lord Fenris have lived far longer than the both of us and if this is a lingering malady, it may require more than our short-lived wisdoms," he demurs with a spread of his hand off his tea cup.

"No doubt it influences you now and then…?" It's a polite addition of a thought, accompanied by lifted brows, a tilt to his head surely seen time and time again. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the red-eyed and curious mongoose indeed, Kent aptly named him in Shanghai.

Astryd gives a soft snort at the thought. "A spirit that latches onto strong emotion according to Fenris. Mine, it feeds on the reckless nature, which is why the bleeding has some effect but … I can feel it feeding from time to time."

The word 'maeljin' doesn't translate for Ambrose nor does it translate for any of the Asgardians.

"I wouldn't be opposed to your assistance, Ambrose. Fenris suggested I ask the Finder but I … I'm not ready to make that kind of deal."

Influence her, oh yes.

"The Finder does drive a hard bargain…" agrees Ambrose, though with a note of distance yet again. Someone is admittedly remembering running into Scathach, she of the red hair deliberately changed to fluster him. "Though in my estimations, she has delivered every time in fairness within the bargain agreed upon. She rather seems to leave the rest of us to muck things up." He smirks before taking a deep sip of his second cup of tea.

"I shall speak with Kent on matters. Even if he does not know specifically of an incense or oil that might stave off the worst of its feedings, I am sure he might, in his wisdom, have something which might aid. I shall bring it next we meet, if you agree it is an aid you might accept?"

"The Finder bargains are fair and she had already my vow for another task we had before us. I gave that willingly but I … "Astryd shrugs. This affects her more than the others, it is a price she's willing to pay. "It makes us appreciate our gains all the more, I believe."

"I shall like that, Ambrose. Respite is welcome. Speak to Fenris as well, if you like. He may know more the spirit or where information can be gained. Now, shall you stay a while longer? If so I'll make us more tea and with your permission, maybe put some music on and just be … companionable."

By his shallow dimpling, just a touch prideful, the Jackal is pleased to have been asked to stay longer.

"If you do not mind, perhaps yes, I shall linger a while more. You are welcome to put on what music you wish. If you've want to continue your knitting, I shall find a book and read. I have wiled many hours away lost in a good tale," he shares before reaching to take up his empty plate and spoon balanced atop it. "But I would be no good guest were I to let you do all of the work. Allow me at least to take plates to the sink. Kent has trained me in this, at least." His laugh is warm. Astryd has succeeded in a rare thing: truly earning the Jackal's friendship.

"I shall allow you to keep me company as I brew the tea." Astryd smiles, making her way to the kitchen. "Alexa, play Post Modern Jukebox." She calls out as they move.

"Help yourself to our library, Ambrose. I think you'll find somethings in there very enlightening. I know we have a number of first editions." And likely books that are no longer in circulation.

It will be a good afternoon and the Jackal has achieved something that few Midgardians have done - broken through the aloof shell the Asgardian Valkyrie surrounds herself with.

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