|Dr. Stephen Strange (doctor__strange) wrote in avengers_logs,|
@ 2020-07-03 17:28:00
|Entry tags:||-complete, ned leeds, stephen strange|
Ned was not tired. He didn't have time to be tired. He was working on a new program that was going to not only make him super rich and help people, but hopefully impress people enough at school that he'd win the computer award. He wasn't naive enough to think girls would fall all over him, but... well, girls like a guy with award, right? With Betty no longer in the picture, he was single and ready to mingle again - as long as mingling wasn't actually just standing in the corner of a party being ignored.
He hadn't slept all night trying to fix the code in the programming. He had three Mountain Dews to encourage him to stay away, but it seemed like even the sugary caffeine of the green drink couldn't keep him from nodding off. When he woke up, he was... at school? He looked down quickly. At school in his pajamas. "Oh my God it's one of those nightmares.."
Honestly, sometimes Doctor Strange didn't know what he was walking into, even with a spell net over the city all newcomers arrived in. Having it trigger at a school was a change of pace. He quickly portaled into the boy's bathroom and cast a spell to make his clothing resemble that of a school administrator.
He knocked on the classroom door before entering, and looking around, caught sight of the one thing that didn't look right in this picture.
"Ned Leeds," he said, crooking a finger at him. "You're needed in the office as part of a school board investigation involving..." He looked down. "Wearing inappropriate attire. We're going to have to call your parental supervisor."
Well, at least he looked and sounded convincing.
He tensed when he heard his name and turned around. The guy was not someone he knew from school. He looked intense, too. He offered his best ‘I’m innocent’ smile - a smile he was getting better at since covering for Peter all those times - but at the moment it was a bit dicey since he was apparently in one of his worst nightmares. Ned hated the idea of getting in trouble at school.
“Uh, yeah. Sure. Okay. I just, uh, you know, thought it was pajama day?” He was walking out of the class though. “You know, school spirit and stuff? Go team.” He brought his hand up in a fist like a bad example of a cheerleader and then laughed awkwardly too that cut off when he made it outside the classroom. Suddenly there was panic. “Please don’t tell my mom and dad. I swear it won’t happen again and I’ll do community service or whatever. Just don’t call home!”
Once they were in the hallway, he looked around to make sure the coast was clear and focused on Ned.
"You're not in trouble. I'm Doctor Stephen Strange, and I'm here to tell you...." Stephen Strange stopped before he continued, remembering he should try to be more sympathetic. Particularly after the storm damage he caused, by turning down the Thor's request to portal Loki to freedom.
He banked on the fact that Ned was as smart as Peter Parker, and he might catch on to his point before he even made it. "...do you know what the Multiverse is?"
Ned was entirely focused on the introduction, he almost didn’t catch the question. The question was set aside for a moment, though, as Ned blinked and his face lit up. “Oh my - God.” He managed to at least stage-whisper his last word of his freak out. “You’re that guy Peter told me about! Doctor Strange. From the space time? The time wizard guy dude who can do all the cool -” He made some awkward waving hand gestures like he’d seen in the anime Avatar, but they weren’t as cool “- stuff.”
He suddenly frowned. “Why do you look so normal?”
Stephen eyed the teenager for a long, long time, with his head slightly turned. It was a wary expression, and he squinted at the word 'stuff.'
"I'm not like the Last Airbender or anything, but.............."
That pause was so pregnant, it was nearly giving birth.
"................yes," he finally said. Then he took a look down at himself. "It's a conjuring spell. To blend in. You'll need to follow me. A teen in pajamas going into the bathroom with a grown man isn't a good look."
He waved his hands around and with a bright shimmer of golden fiery magic, Ned's pajamas changed to a t-shirt and pants. He nodded toward the nearby boy's room and waved a hand so the door opened as if by unseen hands, as Stephen walked inside and turned, waiting for Ned to follow.
Ned did not freak out. Instead he looked utterly excited as his clothing changed around him and he looked down at himself in amazement. “This is so cool.” He followed without any hesitation which probably wasn’t the best move, but Ned believed that this was Doctor Strange and he knew he was on the side of the good guys - at least according to Peter. What could happen?
He walked into the bathroom, kind of hoping it would turn into a different place like a TARDIS or something, but when he got in there it was just the same slightly-gross smelling boy’s bathroom. He sighed a little, but got over it quickly. “I know what the multiverse is, by the way. Same Earths, similar people, different choices. I mean, it’s a pretty simple concept? Not that it’s ever been proven, but like, I believe it. In one version of Earth I like to think I’m tall and totally an Avenger.”
The Boys Bathroom. It wasn't a smell that Stephen missed, but this at least afforded them some privacy. The sooner they got through this, the less they had to smell...those smells.
"In this one, you're in a similar Earth, but you're still short and not an Avenger." Stephen couldn't hide a smirk if he tried. "You're in a different, parallel universe. It's like slipping through the cracks and entering a new Ned. And there's a network for people in similar situations. The Avengers Network."
He paused to let that set in.
Did Strange really have to remind him that he was still short? The thought brought a little stubborn pout to his lips, but it went away with the mention of the Avengers Network. “Dude, that name is so cool.” He paused and then his eyes lit up. “Wait, does that mean I get to be part of that network?!” There was hope there and then sudden wariness. “But.. you just said I’m not an Avenger. How can I be part of The Avenger Network and not be an Avenger? Won’t I see like super secret superhero stuff that only superheroes are - you know what? Never mind. I accept.” He’d basically be stupid not to, really.
Stephen blinked a few times and then smirked a little bit. This went better than it usually did. And he realized the importance of everyone, preferring to see the big picture where people were concerned.
This might be ironic, coming from someone that worked alone 99 percent of the time.
"You're like an Avenger, only without the avenging. Without someone to support a hero, they wouldn't last long. Or do their jobs well. That's probably why this universe chose to pull you into it. You're needed."
He turned to one side while the illusion fell away, revealing the Mystic garb and red Cape, that waved hello as its master opened a small portal and pulled a backpack through it.
"Here's the welcome package. A Star-laptop, Stark-phone, password, and the brochure. My business card is included, in case you have any questions and need to find me. Do not...." Here's where he paused to give Ned a hard stare. "...ever...tell any outsiders you are from another universe. Or about the network."
He looked kind of proud of that. Doctor Strange was basically confirming to him that the ‘guy in the chair’ was definitely an important role - something that meant a lot to Ned. He even nodded as if to say ‘yes, of course, I’m super helpful.’
Something in him relaxed entirely… until Strange was in his superhero outfit and Ned’s expression went back to surprise and fascination. The cape waving hello was definitely new and he lifted his arm and waved slowly and a little dumbly as his expression seemed to say ‘uh… hi?’
He blinked and tried to recover. “Right! Right. No outsiders.” He nodded. “You can totally count on me! I kept Peter’s secret for like, a really long time. So I’m really good at that.”
Doctor Strange nodded back and held out the backpack for Ned to take. One lower corner of the cloak lifted up and twisted, making what looked like the cape version of a thumbs up. Strange ignored it, but there was the smallest twitch under one eye.
"All right," the doctor said, as though unsure. But if this was Peter's friend, there's little doubt that he already swore his friend to secrecy. "Make sure to read everything. There's a party for Captain America's birthday on the Fourth. Governor's Island. Everyone on the network attends. Do you need a note so you can go home with this, or do you want to go back to class? Where you will absolutely not lose this backpack."
Because that would be bad.
Ned really liked the cape. He wondered if he could do some sort of charades game with him. He couldn’t help but at least give the cape his own thumbs up before his mind was brought back to Strange. “Fourth of July. Right.” It hadn’t quite hit him that he was being invited to Captain America’s birthday, which was probably a good thing for Strange, really.
“Uh… a note?” Maybe he should have wanted to keep learning, but he wasn’t even sure if he had his stuff with him considering the whole pajama thing. Plus now he had a backpack with apparently some very important things he shouldn’t lose. “Probably better to go home and put all this stuff, you know, somewhere safe.” And then freak out a little in private.
The cloak reacted to conversations and was a truly loyal piece of outerwear. But it was also a pro at charades, and so luring could happen if there was a visit to the Sanctum someday.
"Right." Strange had a good feeling about Ned at least, in that he seemed to mean well. It would, hopefully, mean less trouble in the long run, and be easier to settle in.
It was a better sign that he was asking for the note, based on sound reasoning.
With a wave of one hand, a blank slip of paper appeared and he held it out to Ned.
"Show this to anyone in the office," he explained. "To them, it will look like a signed release for a medical appointment. It'll keep things less suspicious if you cover the bases. I'll wait here in...this stall."
He entered a stall and cringed at the toilet. Even the corners of the cape wagged around wildly like oh no, it did not want. Quickly, he exited and checked the stall next to it and it didn't look offensive.
"This stall. Run back and I'll portal you home."
“Okay.” He nodded, looking at the blank note. He moved to go to the door and then paused and turned around. “This, uh - this doesn’t say anything embarrassing, right? Like that I’m going out for a colonoscopy or something?” Because that would be entirely too much information for the ladies in the officer to know about, thank you. Of course, Strange was already in the second stall by then so he just decided to read too much into the secretary’s reaction when he got to the office and left.
He didn’t actually run back. One, because running sucked, and two because running would get him in trouble so he walked quickly. He realized belatedly that people probably thought he really needed to pee as he opened the door. Back in the bathroom, he walked up to the right stall and… knocked.
The secretary had seen enough doctor notes that said 'check up for swollen tonsils' that she didn't even question it. She had Ned sign out and he was free as a bird.
The stall door opened and revealed a portal, which looked like it had Ned's bedroom on the other side. Doctor Strange was standing there, waiting.
"I used a locating spell. If this isn't your bedroom, you need to let me know right now."
Someone walking into the room would get a very big surprise if it wasn't..
Ned was first like woah, a portal but then his eyes fell on his boxers strewn across the floor and his unmade bed. His mom had been right - he really should clean his room because ‘who knows what could happen’. Why were mothers always right?
“Uh… nope. That’s definitely my room.” He offered a sheepish smile like ‘haha, I’m so teenagerie’ and then walked up to the portal. “Never, uh… gone through a portal before.” But he wanted to… even if it was a bit scary. Okay, a lot scary.
Ned closed his eyes and held his breath like he was going underwater before holding up his arms and then stepping through cautiously. Once he was on the other side, he opened his eyes slowly - one, then the other - and they laughed. “I just went through a portal! So cool!”
While it was a relief that particular location spell worked, Doctor Strange was giving Ned a strange stare (literally and figuratively) as he passed through the portal. Particularly at the raised arms. It was almost like looking at someone swimming for the first time.
"Yes, you did," he confirmed and the cloak gave another thumbs up. "Good job. I'm going to close this soon, so you might want to keep your limbs out of the way, unless you don't like having them."
Before he did that, he asked in a very serious tone, "Do you have any questions?"
Ned quickly pulled his hands to his body like he was going to lose a limb already and looked to Strange for a visual confirmation that his hands-to-chest approach was going to be safe enough.
“Uh… no?” He binked. Wait, did he? A thoughtful look crossed his face somewhere between thinking and constipation. “So… basically I’m just not home anymore, but I am home, right? Like none of my parents have evil goatee -” He cut himself off while staring at Strange. “- nevermind. Nope, no questions.” He followed that up with an over-compensating grin.
"Your parents won't have goatees and won't be evil versions of themselves. They won't be nicer versions either. They'll be exactly like the parents you knew. Just so you know, Coraline, there's no door to go back where you came from either."
So sayeth the man with the Evil Spock goatee.
It wasn't exactly comforting. Then again, Doctor Strange's bedside manner wasn't exactly comforting either.
"If you think of anything else, you can reach me on the network. Ok, buhbye."
The cloak waved one corner in a bon voyage motion as the portal closed in on itself, leaving Ned in his new (or old) exact copy of his bedroom.
Ned had to be a little impressed that Strange made a pop culture reference. He could appreciate that and it even made him smile a little.
Once he was gone, Ned blinked and turned around in his room in a bit of a daze. So… he should probably clean up his room, then.