1963-10-20 - Honey and Blood
Summary: The Sorcerer Supreme is still ill, so he goes to the odd, reclusive healer in the scrap yard in Queens for help. Duke gives him a cure, but Strange will have to do his part.
Related: Dr. Strange's series of sickness
Theme Song: None
strange duke 

Dio's Scrap Yard is at the far end of Queens, on the edge of Bowery Bay. It's not the place one would expect to find a mystical healer, what with the water treatment plant on one side and the bridge to Riker's Island on the other. But, this is the place. The name is oddly fitting, if Duke lives up to his reputation at all.

A very large yellow mastiff greets Strange at the gate. It has piercing, intelligent eyes and it paces around him, sniffing, before heading deeper into the sprawling scrap yard. After a few paces, it looks back expectantly. The dog leads the way through the scrap and crushed cars, past little green gardens tucked here and there in gaps in the metal maze. Some chickens are roaming free and a goat gambols carelessly across the top of a line of cars.

The garage at the center of the yard is open, the large doors rolled up. A huge blue car crouches — yes, crouches — in the centre, in a circle of sigils. The horns on its hood are draped in floral garlands, the hood is set with pillar candles and more flowers and, in the center, the head of a goat with a single lily on its brow. A tall, bronzed man — shirtless, barefoot, wearing shabby jeans — is smoking a cigarette and holding what seems to be a serious conversation with the car.


How amusing. He's never been led around by a dog before, much less a massive specimen of seemingly-intelligent nature. The Sorcerer Supreme takes in his surroundings with quiet, attentive interest. The goat, reminding him of a recent conversation with a certain Asgardian, makes him snort. The animal glances over at him with those odd eyes and bleats before summarily dismissing him.

Strange shivers within the depths of his black coat, even beneath the warming wrap of the crimson scarf about his neck. It's been unnaturally cold and not helpful at all for his immune system, that has been able to rid his body of all but the lingering sense of a draw. It has been a nightmare-brought-to-life once already. He will not have it happen again.

The quest for a cure brings him to the Scrap Yard and before the Mystically-fascinating scene in the centrally-located garage. He takes in the blue car, accouterments and sigils and all, as well as the man leaning against the vehicle. He must be cold…?

The good Doctor clears his throat, attempting to interrupt the conversation (is he talking to the car….?). "I'm here to speak with Duke?" His voice is rough still, showing the signs of the slow-but-certain wear of the venom on his body.


There's a pause, then the man turns around with a swish of his very long, black hair. "Me," he says, as though he needed a moment to confirm that fact. He puts his cigarette between his lips so he can point at himself. The other hand is on his hip, thumb through a belt loop, seemingly forgotten.

"You're sick," he says, narrowing his eyes as he looks Strange over. He points to a couch close to the front of the garage. "Sit. Beer?" He doesn't wait for an answer before ambling deeper into the garage to rummage in a fridge. The dog noses Strange very gently in the leg and whines as if to say «sit down before you fall down, monkey».


"Er, no beer, thank you," Strange manages before another cough. He thought the tightness in his lungs had gone after his last healing attempt, but the cold seems to have brought it forth again. He glances down at the mastiff as his leg is nudged and offers it a half-smile. He's uncertain whether or not to pet it, but pat-patting it on the head seems…offensive. Instead, a brief ear scratch is offered before he steps further into the garage.

He's careful to step outside of the sigils, more careful still not to disturb them from their place with an accidentally-placed foot, and most careful to stay out of reach of the car. A blink of his Sight grants him a confusing melange of auras to it, not quite demonic, not quite innocent, possibly sentient.

Okay, sentient clothing is one thing. Cars that can think? A whole other world to him. A rather freaky one, but over the years, he's been getting better and better at just accepting the oddities that life brings his way. It comes with the mantle.

"I'm Dr. Strange, of Greenwich Village," he says towards Duke. "I heard you have a cure for vampire venom." The scarf hides the healing scars of the vicious attack on him by Dracul's Bride.


"Yep," Duke says, as though he's admitting to have a particular set of spark plugs. "Let's see what's wrong with you. Scarf off — figure it got you in the neck, yes?" He comes wandering back with his beer in one hand, cigarette in the other. He takes one last drag before putting the cigarette out in an ashtray on one of the workbenches that line the garage.

He's an odd one himself, as odd as the car. He, the dog, and the car all have something in common but it's hard to say what, exactly.

"Not all things that have the same name are the same thing," he says, with a certain lack of focus. He puts his beer down on a crate that's serving as a table between the couch and a shabby, mended recliner, so he can crouch in front of Strange. He's unusually… maybe lovely is the word. There's something a little bit luminous about him, even beyond the exceptional qualities of his physical form. "Depends on the vampire. Depends on the purpose. What kind?"


Settled down as he is on the couch, Strange feels like it's a visit to the physician's office meets the spiritual healer of some ancient tribe. He unwinds the scarf to show Duke the bite site.

"Yes, I'm exceptionally aware of the differences in names," he murmurs, eyes averted to the side as he holds his head still for inspection. Terse, but not out of spite, out of discomfort. Normally, he's the one doing the doctoring, not being put under the microscope. "Sorceress, older in age and experience. I was out for a walk and apparently crossed into their territory in Hell's Kitchen." A light cough breaks his explanation and he clears his throat. "She ripped free when I shoved sunlight into her face, tore loose when she took exception to it."

A period of time where he inhales and exhales slowly, wearily. "I've healed myself all but for a sense of compulsion. I…" and his voice fades out for a second. Shame colors his words faintly, though he delivers them as evenly as possible. "I nearly killed someone sleepwalking. I won't have it happen again."


Duke makes a thoughtful noise in the back of his throat. His hands are work-rough but gentle as he explores the injury. He presses gently, to bring blood and fluid to the surface, catches a few droplets on his thumb. They glisten there when he holds his hand up to inspect at the tiny globules in the watery Fall sunlight.

"It's only not in the body," he says cryptically. "It's moved." He pulls a lighter from his back pocket, brings up a flame, and sticks his thumb in it. His flesh doesn't blister or even redden in the time it takes the fluid to sizzle into nothing but a black smudge clinging to the whorls of his fingerprint.

"I can fix it." Duke wipes his thumb on his jeans as he stands. He scoops up the beer again and takes a drink. "You want to wait? Or come down?"


"Wonderful," Strange mutters as his new physician moves to leave him. It was like hearing officially of a terminal disease diagnosis; Duke's spoken words echo his gut-deep fears.

He had most definitely winced and hissed when the man's thumb brought new blood to the surface of the healing scabs. The fact that he's burned away the blood droplet brings a growing sense of respect to the oddly-timeless healer before him. That this Duke knows the Mystical properties of one's life-essence tells the Sorcerer that he's not dealing with some random Joe Schmoe of the Arts.

"I'll come down," he adds, rising to his feet with a grunt. It's harder in the cold; his joints are stiff with a phantom sense of rheumatism. Nonetheless, curiosity is one of Strange's defining traits. Seeing another Mystic's larder? Yes, please.


Duke leads the way to the back of the garage, skirting the car. "That's Tex," he offers, gesturing to the car with his beer. "Coz watches the gate, makes sure people pay," he adds as the big yellow dog trots off in the other direction.

At the back of the garage, the doors of a bombshelter are open, leaving a rather treacherous hole if you don't know what you're looking for. There are stairs down, though, it's almost civilized.

Underground, there's a short hall and another set of open doors, beyond that it opens up into a large vault. Someone, likely over some years, has converted the extensive living area into a kind of makeshift hospital, pharmacy, and chemistry lab. Here and there are signs that this isn't all mundane, alchemical jars and old texts, strange things brined in shimmering fluid floating in huge jars. There are a couple beds, couches, an office chair at a desk, stools at the various workbenches.

Duke grabs a rubber band from around a drawer pull and uses it to drag all that long hair back into a ponytail. The fall of it hid deep scars down his back but they don't seem to bother him by the way he moves. "Make yourself at home."


Strange hasn't named his Cloak just yet, but he does mull over the idea in light of learning that the blue car, horns and all, has a Name. He offers a thoughtful 'hmph' as he watches the mastiff walk off towards the far front gate. The crimson scarf is looped loosely around his neck.

He follows the man downstairs and into a place that he would enjoy spending quite a bit of time poking around. Nothing there disturbs him. In fact, he's so fascinated that he initially misses the spoken offer. Everything in the room appeals to him in some form or another, drawing from surgeon's past and current mantle's experiences.

No, he wasn't going to tap his fingernail on the glass jar that held the still-beating heart of a sixth dimension Second-Circle demon-gheist. …okay, yes, he was, and leans back with a mental reminder to himself that this isn't the Sanctum and he can't go around opening bottles to sniff at them.

"I'm sorry? Oh, yes, alright," the Sorcerer corrects his own question halfway through, remembering now what he'd heard. He decides to sit on a bed and takes a moment to feel at the blankets lining it. Well-used, but in the sense of a motherly touch - he can even smell the faint aroma of protective herbs that were used in its washing. "What's the answer to this then?" he asks, steel-blue eyes now focused intently on Duke. "A pill? Herbal tea? An incantation written by Faust in the middle of a fever-dream?"


"Honey," Duke says thoughtfully. "Honey and blood. And a few other things." He lifts a heavy jar, an odd six-sided thing with a clamped lid, and holds it up. It's full of what must be honey, gold and glowing even in the artificial light, but in it purple flowers swim like anemones. They look like passionflowers but they're larger, bigger than a person's palm and so much more purple, as though they were the first thing ever to be that color in the world. "When you get home, put it in tea or take it straight." He sets the jar on a wide, empty work bench under a row of lights. "You'll sleep. When you wake, take it again, until you stop having the dreams. You'll know when you stop having them."


"Blood," the good Doctor repeats with mild distaste. He's had quite enough of blood lately. "Well, at least it won't taste terrible." His shrug pulls on the scarred tissue at his neck and his grunt of pain turns into a loose coughing fit.

After he can breathe again, Strange emerges from within the crook of his elbow. "Forgive me if this sounds assumptive, but I was told that you are quite learned for a healer. Stop having the dreams? This sounds like there's still a risk of me sleepwalking regardless of this honey-blood you're recommending."


"No walking." Duke rescues his beer and drains it, leaving the bottle in a sink where he washes his hands thoroughly. "Not physically. You'll sleep, in your bed or wherever you lie. That's what these are for." He taps the jar. "To calm you and to sink you deep in sleep but also to bring out the vampire. Right now, it lives in you, not manifested. I can see it but it's just a ghost in your blood. You can't fight what isn't there. That's why you're still sick. This will bring it to you, so you can fight it. It will come out in your sweat and in your dreams."

Duke goes about gathering more jars from around the lab, including a small, squat blue jar that looks like the kind an apothecary would use. "Vampire is more than one thing at once. It is curse and disease. You have to fight both. I could cure you outright," he explains, "burn it out of your blood with something so strong it would wash everything clean. But a man like you?" He brings out a beautiful wooden box and sets his hand into the place for it on the top. The box clicks open and he takes a small crystal vial, chased in silver, from it. "A man like you needs to fight what ails him. Or you won't rest. It'll leave a scar on your self." He sets about mixing the floral honey with a shimmering powder and some finely ground onyx seeds. The vial remains unopened for the moment.


Strange eyes the jar tapped by the healer's fingertip with some suspicion. He'd rather not be so unconscious to the world, but…in light of his recent walking-nightmare, there is always the soothing thought of his roommate keeping a close eye on him, even if he's close to death in such a deep rest.

He chews at his bottom lip as he watches Duke get to work mixing up the rest of the herbal components of the blood-honey concoction. "No easy way about it then…" the Sorcerer finally mumbles, interlacing his fingers and hanging both hands as well as head.

It is a damndest thing, in every sense of the word, to be inflicted with this poison. He has so many other worries on his mind right now. All Hallow's Eve is drawing near, the time of thinnest veils between worlds, and he must be at full strength. The dark of the moon makes him particularly nervous.

"I assume you mean some sort of Astral fight, separating myself from my sleeping body?" he asks, glancing up at the healer. He assumes that Duke understands the concepts he's suggesting.


"Go walking outside the body? You won't go far. Both of you are in one place now." Duke gestures to indicate Strange's body. "But not together. Out of phase. It's weak. You're weak. Neither of you wins. When you sleep, the dream is a Coliseum, a place for the struggle. Maybe some will come watch. You're awake in it. The vampire that is becoming you is awake in it. It can't go around in your body. Neither can you. You fight it, draw it out of your bones. Your body fights it."

Duke holds up the crystal vial. "It knows its own kind — its master. It'll stop hiding and come out so you can beat it. The flowers will keep you safe from walking around, getting hurt. When you wake, you go back to sleep with it. When you win, you stop taking the honey. You put it aside in case anything comes back to you, a little bit creeping out of the corner of your liver, maybe. But you're strong. It won't be long. And your body will be healed when you wake. No cough."

Duke opens the little vial — whatever is in there is not something most people would want to touch. It's got an air of something ancient and vile and familiar, that thing behing the Bride. Duke uses a glass rod to remove a drop, which he adds to the little blue jar.


He looks down at his hands once Duke goes back to concentrating on creating the little concoction. They shake in a sudden burst of his nerves and Strange has to press his palms together tightly to keep it from showing.

This all sounds fine and dandy…maybe. He has a good base in martial hand-to-hand fighting from his time in Kamar-Taj. He doubts that he'll be cut off from his connection to the Mystic Arts. Another summoned splash of pure sunlight, perhaps, and he'll be done with this battle in one fell swoop.

Depressingly, it probably won't be that easy. What with the healer's comment about his liver leaking vampire venom… It'll likely be a task.

"So…repeat again and again? I wake up in a cold sweat, maybe I haven't set something on fire, and I take it again if I'm not sure that the compulsion is gone?" Pardon his attitude, the Sorcerer is immensely unsettled.


"You'll know because you win," Duke says, looking across the work bench at Strange with a sharp grin. "You will kill the thing. It will be clear. You know what Death looks like, no?" He puts the vial back in its box, then caps the little jar.

"You're afraid." Statement, not question. "You're bad at it." Another statement. There's sympathy in his expression now. Or maybe that's empathy. "Here." He goes to another part of the lab…that is a liquor cabinet, not a locker, but things are eclectic in here. What he has in hand looks like a bottle of moonshine, both literally and figuratively. There's a shimmer to it. Duke pours a little into a tiny jar that can't hold much more than an ounce, then he corks it tightly.

"When it's over, drink this." Duke puts both jar and vial in the center of a piece of torn silk which he gathers up into a bag with a couple practiced knots. When he's done, it's a neat little red package that he brings over to Strange. "Can't have a thing like you walking around distracted. It will help at the end."


That Duke knows about his brush with Death is enough to rock Strange back from his defensive stance on the whole thing. Very, very few folk know about that. He literally sits up, remains wordless while he watches the healer twist on a seal to prevent the honey-blood concoction within the vial from spilling anywhere but into his future cup of tea.

There's a delay in him reaching out to take the offered silk bundle, an equal hesitation in accepting it, and more silence as he looks down at it in his hands. Such a small-seeming solution for such a big problem.

A sigh, part-laugh, and he meets Duke's gaze with one eyebrow arched. "I'm not the first person to tell you this, but you are something else entirely, aren't you?" Practitioner of Mystic Arts to Healer Extraordinaire, compliment and question all in one. "And the other jar? What's in it then that should keep me from being distracted?"

Distracted. An interesting word choice on the part of Duke.


"Something else? I hear that. Can't tell you what, just that it's true. If I remembered, I'd let you know." Duke shrugs as though he's indifferent to being consigned to ignorance. "The French call it Eau de Vie. It's…well, it's nothing if you make it from fruit picked here. That's made from fruit from the Other Garden. This one, the fruit, it purifies, but might boil your blood if you took it now. After? You won't feel a thing. Might make you a bit drunk, would watch it casting spells. But it's just so you know for certain. When you kill the thing — and I promise you'll know when it's dead, I can't tell you how, but what I know, I don't forget — you'll already be clean. Worst thing that might happen is a tingle somewhere. But it won't. You're strong. The vampire is strong. It wants to win. It'll be a good fight."


"You make it sound like people should be paying to watch this fight," Strange says wryly as he rises to his feet slowly. Another wince. He'll be glad to past this mess and back to simply giving himself migraines pouring over tomes at all hours. The little red silk gift is carefully pushed into the bottom of one of his coat pockets before he extends a hand out to Duke. "Thank you, truly. What do I owe you? Or rather, what will I owe you if you don't take payment currently?"

The Mystic sort are always so suspicious of debts, but this Sorcerer will follow through on whatever payment Duke demands once he's free of the vampiric influence in his blood. His hand trembles, ever-so-slightly, as he waits.


"Oh. Money." Duke looks vague. "I'm bad at money. Coz handles that." Yes. The dog does the finances.

"I don't want anything. I'll ask you for something some day, but it won't be for me. I never want anything and I don't need anything right now. You can do things I can't so, someone comes to me for help and I can't do it, maybe you help them instead. Fair enough?" Duke offers Strange his hand.


"Fair enough," the Sorcerer responds with a small smile and shakes Duke's hand.

Always. Always with the feedback.

This feedback, however, is kind and deeply empathetic in a sense that Strange notes at a soul-deep level. Within him, the remnants of the vampiric venom squirm away from the feeling that floods him. It's peace. Peace like waking from sleep to realize that one is fully rested and no stresses rest upon their shoulders. Peace like the first breath of spring that begins melting the icicles on the trees, that brings promises of life to the cold vales of the forest. Peace like a favorite song that plays in the darkest of times and causes a stuttering heart to right its pace once more. Peace that the rising of the morning sun grants a fearful child. It's beautiful - and it leaves Strange staring at Duke with his mouth somewhat agape. He dropped the man's hand who knows how long ago.

"You're something else," he finally repeats, offering a huff of a laugh. "Thanks again. I should get back since I have this great battle to fight." It's an attempt at humor, at least, and he walks to the stairs that lead back up to the garage. "Is your dog going to show me to the gate then?" A question asked over his shoulder in a paused step.


Duke looks curiously at Strange for a long moment, then shakes himself like shedding water. "Yes, he'll show you the way. I need to clean up here. And don't mind Tex on the way out. He won't bite."

As if on cue, there's a thump-thump of a hundred-fifty pounds of mastiff bounding down the stairs. He pokes his head into the lab and barks once, shortly.

"We worked it out," Duke tells Coz, who wags his tail vigorously and gives Strange a doggie grin, tongue lolling out. "When I'm done here, we'll go for a Drive." That gets another bark, a chest-shaking woof of approval.

«Come on.» Coz romps toward Strange, then back to the stairs, encouraging him as though he were a puppy. «This way. Good boy.»

"If you need me, if it gets worse for some reason, send for me. I'll come to you," Duke offers. "Can't have them getting their cold hands on you. That'd be bad for all of us." Whatever Duke knows or doesn't know, he's right about that. The last thing New York City needs is Dracula holding the Sorcerer Supreme's leash.


"I'll definitely send word, though I expect this will do it," Strange replies, patting his pocket. "And gods help any other cold hands that try to get me." He offers Duke an edged smile.

No one puts the Sorcerer Supreme under their control without his knowledge. Actually, no one does - period.

"Well, lead the way then," he says towards the wriggling mastiff, unable to help chuckling at the loose skin on the dog's body that shimmies as much as his whippy tail. Clump-clump-clump, up the stairs, and then across the floor of the garage. Tex, the Named car, is given a thoughtful look and shrug of shoulders as he passes by, once again avoiding all the sigils on the floor surrounding it.

He's escorted to the gate and leaves the grounds of the Scrap Yard before he summons up the Gate leading back to the Sanctum. The Scrap Yard, with its chickens and goat and odd blue car and odd dog and equally odd keeper is…fascinating. He'll have to return at another time. The Gate collapses behind him as he steps through it, leaving behind a puff of staticky smoke that blows away on the wind.


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