Who: Christine Palmer and Stephen Strange What: Surprising no one, ‘pillow talk’ doesn’t exist for these two. Discussion about other character done with permission. When: After this thread (backdated to the day of the time jump) Where: Christine’s place in Tribeca Rating/Warnings: Green (although nudity and reference to FTB occurs) Status: Complete
And what was old was new again, Christine thought as she stretched in bed. She hadn’t intended on sleeping with Stephen again, and from the languid looks he’d given her he hadn’t expected her not to try. It wasn’t like they hadn’t cuddled before, even in her underwear. Or in bed.
It was nice though, to do that , something she’d thought would never really happen again. They had so much history, maybe a bit too much, and she’d always ensured to keep her boundaries which was so hard when again -- so much history. Besides, she’d always felt so comfortable with him. When she’d invited him for platonic cuddles, she really had wanted just that.
Best laid plans and everything.
It was also nice to know that it was like riding a bike. Or a Stephen. And goddamn but was she in a good mood now.
“I like this level of friendship we’ve reached,” she said casually, her head laying on his chest while she gave a little yawn of contentment. “I mean, we’re amazing friends, I always knew that. It’s nice to know we’re amazing friends who can have fun in bed.” And she was going to quell anything further considering he’d always made it clear where his boundaries were. Although they’d just had sex…
“Hey, wanna hear some gossip that I shouldn’t say at all because I swore I wouldn’t, but now I’m reminded of and you won’t tell anyone because I’m your only friend?”
It was Stephen. He probably already knew in some universe exactly what she was going to say about Bruce.
Who doesn't like recycling? Or that's what Stephen would have said if he wasn't feeling so warm and comfortable with Christine half laying on top of him. It was the first time in a while that he slept without his astral form going on a book binge. Not that he hadn't gotten some work done. He read through one and a half spell books while talking to Christine before their sarcastically joking innuendo and increasingly long stares into each other's eyes got to be too much.
He was supposed to be beyond all this. He was focused, precise, dedicated, single-minded but flexible with coming up with solutions to complicated problems, the foremost being a demon stuck in his friend and pupil....
Then he wound up sleeping with his ex. Sigh.
What could he say? She was persistent and perky.
And they had history. That tended to blow through a few of those set boundaries. Evidence? This moment.
"It is a brave new level of friendship we're forging," he said in a wry tone, peeking down at her. He liked the blond hair on her. It suited her. So did work gossip, since that was the standard preface to something being said that shouldn't when privacy policies were in place. "Go ahead, only friend. I'm all yours. Obviously. Even my ears."
“And everything else right now,” she added cheerfully, turning around so she could face him. And give him a kiss while her hand strayed to the night table where left-over Chinese food was waiting.
She was hungry and she’d burned off some calories.
“So,” she started, sitting on her heels, the blanket long forgotten, and the nudity well accepted. “I was chatting with Bruce the other day about some woman admirer he has. I have no idea who, don’t ask, but I guess she’s pretty persistent and he was confused, bless his heart. I couldn’t get a feel for why he was so flustered and then he said he hasn’t had sex since getting in touch with his angry side. He said he’s not sure how that would work, if the Other Guy would come out and harm his partner. I tried to get him to talk about what it’s like when he masturbates, but he wasn’t too keen on talking about it. Anyways, long story short -- can you imagine? I had no idea what to say but now I feel bad for him.” She nibbled at the end of her egg roll and tilted her head. “I want to help him.”
Of course she wanted to help. Give her any hard luck case - himself included - and Christine would be tireless in her efforts to make things better.
While she ate her other 'happy ending,' Stephen watched her. Not only was the view exceptional, but what she was saying was causing him to think on how that could be measured and noted. If he was given any problem, Stephen would try to find a solution. Even if it was unorthodox.
"You could suggest a very private MRI while experiencing arousal to see if there are any fundamental changes," he said, reaching out to rub one hand over her knee as he pondered the possibilities. "Perhaps even an electroencephalogram as a secondary testing measure. If orgasm can be reached, then it's possible to gauge if the brain activity appears abnormal compared to the average. An MRI is easier for an actual comparison of the activity in the sensory cortex, motor areas, hypothalamus, thalamus, and substantia nigra. And if he's looking for anything that might cause him to act out, then look for abnormal activity in those motor areas. Primarily the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, and cerebellum."
That made the most sense, and Stephen propped himself up to reach over for an empty Chinese food container.
"Did you eat the last happy ending," he asked her, with a wry smirk.
“Hmm?” His sudden question about food threw her off and she looked down at her hands. It was only half-eaten, so she offered it to him while she thought some more about what he said. Reaching for a napkin (and really, if she was alone, she probably would have wiped her hand on the other side of the bed, but she didn’t need a lecture from him so napkin it was), she wiped her hands clean before draping her own arm over his leg.
“We know there’s a fundamental difference between masturbation and copulation. Masturbation, while it would provide the basic functions, is devoid of that vulnerability and intimacy that personally, I think is at the underlying issue here. If Bruce can’t lower those walls, we won’t be able to properly assess or gauge his reactions to a real world situation.”
Where would she get a private MRI? She could probably ask Tony, but then she’d have to explain and that was no fun. Jane could probably build one, but again -- explanations. She could probably pitch it to her medical director, say it’s research which he kept prodding her to do, and she wouldn’t have to publish anything … give him some bull-shit excuse…
“We’ll have to find a willing participant.”
Another pause. She tapped her fingers on the side of his knee, the list of women in their group filtering through her head but none of them seemed to fit the criteria. After all, he’d gone to her for answers, not one of them ..that she knew of.
Oh. She could do it. That would be the easiest. She wasn’t going to delude herself into thinking Stephen would be interested in anything more, no matter what she wanted...and she was okay with it. She was okay with it when she kissed him during their Robot Chicken marathon. She was okay with it when she let him take her clothes off. And she was okay with it now, even if she knew she kind of wasn’t. They were friends...unfortunately.
“I could do it.”
It was true there would be a difference in tactile sensation, and Stephen was pondering that and the neuro pathways involved while eating the other half of a room temp egg roll. Someday, Christine was going to get food poisoning. And one day, if she kept dropping bombshells like that, he would asphyxiate on what he was eating.
Sure, they were friends. Unfortunately. But he was also ok with everything that happened that night. Including the Robot Chicken marathon. Even if he had his books open the entire time while multitasking for a spell to remove a demonic entity, and Christine did divert his attention with kissing.....
He coughed a few times while squinting at her, and finally got out an astounded sounding, "You?"
It wasn't like he could be jealous about it. Even if he was feeling some dull far off twinge of what might be jealousy, especially after they did this and Christine was still proposing she'd do that with Bruce Banner.
Because there wasn't any telling what might happen if Banner lost control, perhaps he could talk her out of it? Or should he?
He should. There still had to be some rationalizing going on, and he liked to think that Christine was a rational person. Despite the weirdness she encountered.
"Uh, that's dangerous to you if you did volunteer. I think it's a better option to find a third party who is more...durable. If something goes wrong, the likelihood of you dying because of an experiment rises exponentially."
By that, he meant super powered or able to take a giant green punch. Christine wouldn't survive that, so from that standpoint alone, it didn't make sense and was too risky.
Unfortunately for Stephen, once Christine got an idea in her head (case in point), it was hard to dislodge her from it. It wasn’t that his concerns weren’t valid -- they were, absolutely. She’d seen on TV the damage the Hulk could cause, she’d seen it in the way everyone seemed to talk reverently about The Big Guy.
Christine also had a tendency to lean heavily into the optimism bias. Nothing bad would ever happen to her. Why would it?
“I don’t know any durable third party volunteers,” she said decidedly. “And besides, Bruce and I have a connection. He wouldn’t hurt me. I’m trying to help him. This is the best way to do it.”
No, it really wasn’t. Part of her was watching to see if there was any other type of reaction out of Stephen, but predictably it was just a very rational, well-thought out answer.
“Thanks for working this out with me.” She grinned and leaned down to give him another kiss, lightly nibbling on his bottom lip, while her hand lightly trailed against his side. “And now I have to shower. Wanna come?”
Strange tended to lean toward the 'That's an idiotic plan and I'm going to tell you why' side of the spectrum, so he was staring at Christine like he knew better.
"Your connection lasts only as long as he's himself. That's why this is a stupid plan, and I know you're not a stupid person. So maybe that should lead you to the realization that it really isn't the best way to do it."
There was his reaction. Everything in him said NO as firmly as possible, even if everything in Christine said YES. It was flatly spoken, as rational as ever, and Stephen was looking at her like he was pinpoint focused (but ready to roll his eyes at any second).
At least he had the courtesy to wait until after the kiss ended, until after he rested his hand over her hand, before he even bothered rolling his eyes.
"I might as well," he said, tossing the last bite of the egg roll into one of the chinese food boxes. He'd portal those out of there into the trash, before she did poison himself. "Only because it conserves water."