2020-06-19 - To Those Absent


Ambrose reports to Loki of the presumed loss of Oliver as both agent to Gurim and erstwhile lost soldier to the Jackal. Thank god for whiskey and tea. A barbecue is planned for the future!

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Jun 19 23:55:35 2020
Location: Cover Story

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Loki has been having a lot of fun lately, or maybe 'fun' with Malekith and his wild hunt. Portals, dimensional hijinks, flirting with danger, you know - the usual. In truth the Trickster actually /does/ enjoy getting into trouble about as much as he does getting out of it.

In any case, there's still things to be done at the store, at the moment he's actually cleaning a few shelves, and checking over the books. He tends to do this by hand sometimes, it helps him think.

Which, being Loki, might be a matter of concern for some. Focused on his thoughts, he does the cleaning and sorting on autopilot.

The front bell of the store rings in its tinkling, chime-like way, to announce an arrival from the bright early-summer evening. It's Ambrose, certain as he always is to close the door behind him, and then to scan across the store. Tonight? He appears tired — drawn — darker under his eyes than even before. It brings his Bane-glow pupils to an eerier brightness within the rings of cerulean-blue. Still sporting hair and scruff moonsilver-pale, he walks in a little farther before lifting his voice.

"Your highness?"

He doesn't seem to care if there are other patrons present by the choice of title. Hands slip away into a light-weight jacket in black, beneath it a plain t-shirt in hunter-green. His slacks are khaki today, boots as always on his feet.

There is indeed another patron, a middle-aged woman looking through an older book in the sitting area. Loki has been keeping half an eye on her, but when Ambrose enters, he looks over and notes the man, after all he's on the wards and such. Loki's presently dressed in slacks, a vest, and a long sleeved shirt, the slacks and vest emerald green, and the shirt saffron.

The Trickster's brow furrows as he sees obvious signs of fatigue and stress in the man. He moves from the area he was cleaning, wiping his hands with a handkerchief as he nods. "Hello, Ambrose." He answers the hail. "Do please come in, might I offer you a cuppa?" This asked as Loki moves behind the counter to help that woman as she makes her mind up to purchase the book.

Ah, there's the Trickster God. Ambrose nods greeting as Loki approaches and then, almost belatedly, a deeper nod, as if he'd half-forgotten in his state that it was most proper.

"I think a cuppa might be good, yes," replies the Brit with a small grin. "I will seat myself." He's trying, at least. His movements are slower as he makes his way towards the reading area with its comfortable chairs and low table, where tea has been served before. Once he's settled, his face half-disappears behind his hand spanning his eyes; his elbow rests heavily on the arm of the reading chair.

Polite words to the woman as she makes her purchase, a friendly and charming smile offered by him and returned by her, and then she makes her way out with a friendly enough nod to Ambrose on the way. Loki follows after, and then closes the shop, actually turning the sign about himself before he returns to the sitting area with a tea service, tonight's blend is an Assam Mangalam Black, the tea poured a sparkling copper-red that has a lovely body and a sort of malty-fruity flavor and a hint of spice. Shortbread cookies are served along side the tea as well.

Once the tea is poured, Loki lets Ambrose prepare it as he prefers, aware that the ritual helps calm the man considerably. His own is taken straight, Loki usually doesn't add stuff to his tea, not always, but often enough. "You look tired, Lieutenant. Is everything quite alright?"

Ambrose appears out from behind his hand when he hears the Trickster God approaching and then arriving. Sitting upright in the chair now, he murmurs a soft gratitude for the tea poured in its rubescent glow of color against the white interior of the cups. A splash of cream for him and a little stir with one of the spoons off the tray; it indeed seems to at least take a few of the lines away from the outside of his eyes.

Loki asks and the Jackal sits back in his chair again, the tea held up above his lap with both hands around the mug. There's a lingering hang of silence before he speaks, his voice tight around its edges. "I report the death of my erstwhile sergeant, Oliver. The Lady Astryd, Lady Sif, and myself stopped an attempt by him to tear a hole in reality. He and his threats are no more." Delivered with a blandness almost metallic and a gaze dropping down to his tea, then sipped.

One doesn't get to be a masterful manipulator without noting details like that, and Loki has very very few peers in that regard. Crossing one leg over the other, and resting his saucer on one knee he listens to the report. "Well, considering that being good news, I wonder at your mien, you seem rather down." He sips his tea, and then frowns faintly, adding a bit of honey and stirring before 'mmm-ing' and looking to Ambrose again. "Did you have some lingering feelings for the man? He /did/ try and nearly succeed to murder you and steal you power a few times, yes?"

"And he very nearly succeeded, yes…and my power is not returned," notes the master-thief more quietly now. His eyes remain downcast, half-obscured by his dark lashes. Another sip of tea seems to bolster him enough to continue.

"It is…" His throat works. "It is good news. Oliver was a pawn in Gurim's plan and one well-used in the end. He died telling me of how he was another sacrifice." Ambrose's hand rises to rub its heel across one eye and back through his silver hair, mussing it up all to hell. "There is still guilt." Pressing on is difficult, but he tries nonetheless. "I thought to convince him to return to us, to the side of the truth and the reality of this world. I did not expect him to…to willingly throw himself on a sword."

Unfortunate about your power, Ambrose. Would that I could do something to assist, but…" A hand is raised, fingers splayed and palm towards the Master Thief. Loki is no stranger to regrets, but he seldom feels much in the way of guilt when someone who tries to kill him is paid in kind. Granted, he doesn't have a lot of people he is close of enough to feel any great sense of loss for in that same circumstance. Save for a very few people, Loki doesn't open his heart that often or that much.

This does not mean he can't understand the feelings. "Unfortunate that he could not be turned." Another sip of his tea, and a cookie taken. "For what it is worth he is now free of that vile wolf, so that is something. Further, he did make his own choices, did he not? Free will is a very real thing, my friend. You cannot be held responsible for the choices another makes, not unless you compel them."

"Yes." Wearily, the Jackal agrees, his Bane-bright eyes rising again. "Free will is of the utmost importance in all things, even if it brings one to foolhardiness or worse." To death, he likely means. "Still…I grieve. I both expected to do as such and hoped I would not. He was… I counted him as a brother in arms if not in blood. He was my sharpest eyes in the platoon. The irony is hateful, that he was blinded by Gurim."

Cookies are ignored as Ambrose simply sips his tea again, gone silent now.

"Well, the exercise of free will is rather central to my nature." Loki states gently. "And inspiring others to exercise theirs in ways that serve them ill is also fairly central to my nature." Loki nods his understanding about the grieving. "Irony is *always* hateful, all that varies is degree." And this is said with a heartfelt understanding that is irrefutable and speaks of personal experience.

Loki sets his tea and saucer down, and leans forwards, elbows on his knees a moment err he gets up and vanishes, when he returns he's holding pair of short crystal glasses, and a bottle of private label whiskey that looks to be more than fifty years old. Wordlessly he opens the dusty bottle, and pours the dark gold-brown fluid into each of the glasses, a couple fingers worth. The bottle is set aside and he offers Ambrose a glass and raises his own in a toast. "To those absent."

Again, the Jackal nods, still wordless and fighting with the knot in his throat. Tea makes its way past the lump, but not easily. It's when the silhouette of the Trickster God vanishes that he looks up, startled despite himself.

"Bwuh — your hi — "

And there's Loki again, now with what must be liquor by the label and color of the bottle's contents. Setting his tea side, Ambrose gratefully takes the glass of whiskey and echoes the lift of it. His mouth works wordlessly for a moment before he adds, "Those unrepenting bastards."

The master-thief then proceeds to throw the whole glass's volume back in a few fluid gulps before sucking in air through his teeth. It's probably supposed to be a sipper, but perhaps he'll sip at the next offering — if he gets one after that behavior.

Almost certainly a sipper, this is some /very/ good whiskey, very VERY smooth, a smoky quality to it. If the date on the handwritten label is accurate, this stuff is pushing sixty years old. Sipping his own, he watches Ambrose toss back the entire glass and then reaches for the bottle, pouring him a second drink, this cup a bit more full.

Enjoying his whiskey rather more than Ambrose did, the Magus of Asgard grins at the response offered. Still, the switch to something stronger, that was a fairly good call. AND he even provided /good/ booze, so that's something.

Loki might not often feel guilt, but that doesn't mean he's insensitive. Not always, anyhow. "So, how are your mate and children?"

"Thank you, your highness," comes the murmur to the second glass. This one intends to be sipped, apparently, now that the taste has been properly connected to quality and he can feel the warmth blossoming out into his innards from the first glass. Ambrose again leans back into the chair, resting the glass and forearm along the chair's arm in turn, his eyes on Loki again. Between the tea and the knowledge of a pleasant buzz soon to arrive, he seems to have worked around the lump in his throat — for the moment.

"They are well. Kent has been working at developing an incense to better protect us against further intrusions from the Void. The property remains safe; nothing wishes to tangle with its guardian," he's sure to add, in case it seemed like he insinuated otherwise. "Mira, at least, is aware of why I ask after curfews. Sterling, he…he struggles, but between us all, he does not require kiddie gloves." A faint grin and laugh. "He takes after his father and mother both. His pride is draconic." And yes, that is a slant pun given fifty percent of Sterling's heritage.

"Of course, Ambrose. You're a guest in my home, I do very much try to treat guests right." As opposed to uninvited visitors, very different things in his mind. Unwelcome vistors—well, those are often even more fun than guests. The whiskey really is rather good, and as old as it is would probably be quite pricey on the market, and Loki considers it just fine for a sipping drink with a friend. One more thing to add perspective to his age.

"I should like to meet your Kent and Sterling at some point. I know Sigyn would as well, perhaps a barbecue or dinner out?" Yes, Loki likes barbecue. Especially if Sigyn is running things, of course she's the best cook ever, really, so he's a tad spoiled in that regard when they're together. Loki smirks at the last comment. "Correct me if I am wrong, was his mother not a dragon?"

Ambrose lifts a pointer finger off his glass in the direction of the Trickster God at the question, then nodding minutely.

"The Lady Mireau, one of my tutors…back when I accepted the idea of tutelage." Chuckling curls up behind his teeth briefly, almost a growl in the back of his throat. "Not that I am so prideful these days as to acknowledge that I do not know everything…but — " And a wave of his free hand off the arm-rest to dismiss the line of thought. "Yes, the young lad's mother was a storm-dragon who thought it amusing to dabble in the affairs of mortals. Why she stayed as she did in…such a place, I do not know. Then again, she was young for a dragon, but old in the eyes of all of us. I am certain at some point, she had been worshipped." The Jackal snorts, takes a sip of the liquor. "Kent was unaware of her true form at the time." How delicate, all the insinuation to follow.

Clearing his throat, Ambrose continues. "As to meeting them, of course, your highness. Sterling is quite fond of barbecueing and would be at the elbow of the griller with all his curiosity in tow. He is…blunt — not thoughtless, but certain that what leaves his mouth is acceptable…even when it is not. He is better than first he found our family, but I will beg patience with him."

"Storm dragon Lady Mireau, not someone I've met before, but that isn't exactly a unique situation. I have met very few dragons, truth be told." Sipping his drink, Loki shakes his head at the hubris of that statement, but—he's just as proud, possibly more so, allegedly. "But you have a fair amount of experience for one so young, yes." Again, scale. Loki /looks/ to be late twenties to early thirties but he's almost three thousand years old, his concept of youth is a bit skewed. A grin as the dragon's dabbling is made clear. "Ah, she took a human form and seduced him?" A bark of laughter. "And the result was a child. That's something I'm quite familiar with, though not /precisely/." After all, he's a mother too, and the 'happy event' was not one he expected, teach HIM to take the form of a mare to distract a stallion! Literally a mare, literally a stallion.

"Barbecues are like camping out in the wild…but more civilized." A smirk. "I rather like open flame cooking, call me old fashioned." Ancient fashioned? He nods about Sterling's manners. "I will so make note. Personally, I am more inclined to cut a child slack than an adult, but forewarned is forearmed, is it not?"

There is, of course, a twisted streak of curiosity as what precisely on earth Loki means by the familiarity with seducing in another form, but Victorian propriety has long kept Ambrose from prying into such sentiments. He simply colors faintly at the cheeks and ears and sips his whiskey yet again. What are the off-chances it'll come up in conversation at the barbecue after all? Surely no one's going to ask Kent about the how-in-the-worlds of Sterling's existence.



Ambrose allows himself a little preparatory sigh, just in case.

"He is nearing eighty years now, Sterling, having been born in the…late Twenties, I believe. Nineteen-twenties," the Jackal clarifies further. "Not so long after Kazimira, actually. He is no child, but Kent and I, we did not have a hand in his upbringing. You will note how his mother raised him quite quickly."

In truth Ambrose knows about the other form - he and Kent /did/ send Loki a Mother's Day card, in fact it is propped up on his mantle still due to the amusement factor. Loki confirmed for him that the bit about him being Sleipner's mommy was in fact exactly what happened. And yes, Ambrose blushed then too.

As to the topic coming up, Loki doesn't mind. Sure, Sleipner isn't all that smart, but he's still proud of him. He's THE horse for the Norse, the iconic apex of equinity. Okay, sure, he's fallen in with a bad crowd being Odin's steed, but still.

"Ambrose, you do realize that eighty years makes him a toddler by Asgardian standards, right? Barely starting to walk." Yes, Loki knows that's not how other races age, but…half-dragon, that may very well alter things, mentally if not physically.

The idea of Sterling as a toddler is enough to make the master-thief seated across the tea table blurt out a laugh. "Ah, yes, of course. He would be very young in comparison to any of your people," comes the agreement. "Regardless, patience with him is deeply appreciated. He means well, for the most part."

Ambrose neglects to mention the rare truthfully-enraged spats of the past, when the half-dragon was absolutely seeing just how far he could push the demi-immortal Jackal.

"Shall I contact you when we find a time to enjoy this barbecue? There should be no issue having it at the Manor." Talbot-Atherton Manor, he means.

"We age roughly a hundred times slower than Midgardians generally do." Loki agrees, pouring himself a bit more to drink. "So yes, even at what…ninety something? He's not even a year old by our standards. Granted, we physically mature faster until we're able bodied, but still more slowly than one from Midgard would." He raises the glass. "To patience with family." An irony considering Loki's family history and such.

And strife? In a family? Loki would be SHOCKED!

"That would be delightful, I'd offer one of my other homes across the globe, the garden out back being too small for a gathering, but most of them are in dreadful need of repair, my wife had just checked out our villa in France and was appalled at the condition of the manor, if not the grounds. Talbot-Atherton Manor would be quite fine."

"Then in the backyard of my home it shall be." A last lift of his glass and then, still despite decorum and the fact of the whiskey being something to be sipped, he throws back the volume of the second glass. Another little insuck of air through his teeth and the glass is then set down on the tea table. "I shall speak to Kent on matters. He will be pleased to entertain, I think."

Loki is then given a look questioning and just a touch guilty.

"Forgive me, but I intended my visit to be brief. May I impart upon you for transport back to my abode? I know better than to attempt to ride the subway in the state I shall be in shortly."

What with two delightful glasses of whiskey on an empty stomach.

"Outstanding, I'll bring Sigyn along, as well." Loki seals the bottle once Ambrose tosses back the remainder, and offers it to the Master Thief. "Share with your mate, if you'd please." He rises when Ambrose does then, and chuckles softly at the request for transit. "Of course you can." He waits a beat until the request is formally repeated, because he's Loki, and then with a gesture the Master Thief would vanish from Cover Story and materialize very smoothly indeed just outside the service entrance to Talbot-Atherton manor. The entrance being either a joke, a security measure, or knowing the Lord of Lies - both.

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