Who: Steve Rogers, Stephen Strange What: re-intro, Steve arrives in NYC When: Following Thor's mind-leeching. Rating: Green
Dr. Strange just arrived home from 'castle Asgard' and removing another mind leech, when the spell over the city raised an alarm. He hung his head forward, closed his eyes, and cast out his consciousness in search of who it was that arrived this time.
It wasn't a new arrival. It was Steve Rogers.
It seemed as though the instability struck again. And he had no indication that his friend Bucky Barnes was present anymore. Or, if he was, that he was aware at all of what was going on.
"No rest for the wicked," Strange said, knowing full well that he would be the wicked one not getting any rest in this scenario.
The spell gave him a location and he kept his sling ring on, opening a portal and walking through.
Steve was a little baffled as to how he got to New York. Last he knew he was in Wakanda. This felt too much like when he woke up after being in the ice for seventy years. Fortunately, nothing seemed to have advanced in technology like last time so he assumed he hadn’t jumped another seventy years.
Then suddenly some guy who could be Loki’s better looking stunt double was suddenly right in front of him. Steve stopped walking but didn’t back up. “Ok.”
Come on. No need to be insulting, even if he was the better looking one. Stephen was dressed better than that. It was Tibetan chic with an old red cape thrown on.
Dr. Strange gave Steve Rogers a hard look, and let out a long suffering sigh.
"You don't remember me at all, do you?" he asked, his expression as weary as his voice sounded. "Hi. I'm Doctor Stephen Strange, master of the mystic arts. I'm helping the Avengers now. Apparently. It just...happened. Sort of like you showing up here just...happened."
If Steve hadn’t woken up after being frozen this conversation might seem a little weird. Weirder. He didn’t bother answering the question since it was obvious that he didn’t remember him. What followed didn’t really explain a thing.
“Things like this don’t just happen, Doctor.” Steve’s voice was calm, but it was obvious that he wasn’t going to budge on this one. “You said you work with the Avengers?” Now he knew this guy was full of it. There were no more Avengers.
"Well, Secret Avengers. It's a thing. You know what? It's Stark's fault." There, that covered everything. Well, as far as the Avengers went. The rest of it, Stephen didn't look happy admitting at all. "I broke the universe."
After a tense pause to let that sink in, he added, "Sorry. I was saving the original universe from a dark entity who wanted to feast on everyone's souls, and I rewound time while two dimensions were merged, like...a thousand times or so. Brought back a friend from the dead. I died a thousand times. Or so. It split the timeline in two and now things are...uhh...it's complicated."
When all else fails, just summarize it with the worst relationship status on Facebook. Even being single was better than 'it's complicated.'
"Do you want to go get some coffee and talk about it?" Stephen offered, trying a more conciliatory approach. This was Captain America. He grew up hearing stories about Steve Rogers. Everyone did. Meeting him wasn't something that happened every day, not even to neurosurgeons turned sorcerers.
Steve listened to the explanation with as neutral an expression as he could manage. None of this made any sense. How do you break the universe? How do you die a thousand times? One thing he did understand: You don’t play around with forces you don’t understand.
“Did it ever occur to you to not mess with the universe or is arrogance part of the whole playing with magic deal?” Because the only other magic slinger he could think of was Loki.
So much for coffee.
"They...put the warnings after the spell," Strange intoned, unenthusiastically. It wasn't like he didn't know he was arrogant (he knew), but being told that by Captain America really did solidify that Stephen Strange was a master asshole, along with a master of the mystic arts.
"By that point, I didn't really have a choice. It was let the demonic entity consume the planet, or stop it. Our creed is to protect the planet from mystical or cosmic threats. If I have to be an arrogant jerk to do that, then I'll gladly take the flack for it."
The cape shrugged a little, because Stephen certainly wasn't doing so. What Stephen did do, was hold out an arm to one side, make a spinning motion with one hand, and opened a small portal. Through which, he pulled out a parcel wrapped like a Tibetan Christmas present.
"This is for you," he explained to Steve, holding the package out. "Stark set this up for the people who have been displaced. It'll help you sign on to the network, and there's the key to an apartment at Thirty Warren. You don't have to stay there if you don't want to. You're not wanted anymore. Ross is off your backs."
That all when right over Steve’s head so he ended up accepting the package without really thinking about it. He finally seemed to snap out of it when he recognized a name. “Stark?” he asked before finally looking at the package. “Tony’s here?” A better question would be how he and Tony would get along after...everything.
“Who else is here?” He needed more information.
"Yes, he's been working with me since I told him about the instability," Strange said, getting right into work mode. It was easier to slip into that than let awkward pauses reign supreme. "There's some info in there about Stark suing the government over the Accords and wiping them out. Ross, apparently, had a grudge match with Stark and shot him out of the sky."
Stephen was quiet for a moment, before drawing in a deep breath and rolling his eyes a little. It was the classic expression of anyone who had been around Tony Stark for longer than five minutes.
"There's a few people who have been brought here. I believe the universe is doing that to balance itself out, but the instabilities are sometimes wiping out memories. It's Stark, me, you, obviously. Thor and Loki. Their mother. Nick Fury and another Agent. Pepper Potts and a woman named Darcy Lewis. Wanda Maximoff. Hope van Dyne and Scott Lang. Some people from space who call themselves the Guardians of the Universe...."
Strange drew in a deep breath before saying, "It fluxuates. Often. It gives, and then it takes away. Which you'll probably want to read about on the network."
And sadly, Stephen knew that it might do a mass take-away again. Unless they stopped it. He wasn't willing to irritate Captain America any more than he already had, and there was plenty of information online.
It was a lot to take it. Steve listened patiently but he still couldn’t make heads or tails of what this Strange was telling him. The Accords were gone. Ross tried to kill Tony. Geez! He looked down at the pack and decided the best way to handle this would be to treat it as intel for a mission.
“Guess I better get caught up so I can help out.”
"I think we could use the help," was Strange's reply and he looked almost grateful. He knew it had to be a lot to know, all of a sudden, so he was backing off the further information. "Stark's been doing what he can. And sure, we don't get along. But it's taken a toll. On everyone."
Stephen was sure that if Stark didn't have to fight, he wouldn't. The guy seemed happier in his lab or around his girlfriend.
He turned and opened a portal to 30 Warren, so Steve could have a quick escape, and get up to speed at his own pace.
"Here. Cheaper than a taxi," Strange offered. "If you have any questions, I'm on the network too. Don't hesitate to ask. And, uh...." Another awkward pause ensued. "...sorry about breaking the universe."