1963-11-02 - A Rose Unbecoming
Summary: Strange and Wanda enjoy a pleasant afternoon out together, when competition arrives, threatening Strange's calm… Gauntlets will be tossed.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
mordo wanda strange 


"Anyways, I think it'll be a nice place to have it. The front of the shop is inviting and the O'Rileys wouldn't mind if I took over for them. Mrs. O'Riley is fond of me, after all," he adds as he grins down at Wanda. The pair stand outside the O'Riley's tea shop, the little place that Strange calls home-away-from-home when not ensconced in the Sanctum with his own blends. "I overheard her mention retiring, so I can scoop it up and make sure they get a good sum for it instead of being swindled simply because they're old. It'd be easy enough to have a permanent Gate into another dimension of a room in the back, with more seating and maybe alcohol on demand?"

A question directed towards the young woman. Strange glances around them as he awaits her reply - they're always worth waiting for, she's wonderfully and brutally honest about his ideas. It's taken some getting used to, but now that the Hellmouth is wiped from this reality, she's likely seeing a side of him that she hasn't seen in a while, if at all: the charming side. Dressed in his dark Belstaff coat and crimson scarf, her Sorcerer checks at his reflection in the small window of the tea shop and adjusts the collar of his coat offhandedly.


The raven watching the pair is probably more curious than most.

Due to the fact that it is not an ordinary raven, and its emerald eyes focus upon both Strange and Wanda with an intelligence not found among 'normal' examples of the species.

When the bird alights upon a bench outside the teashop, it gives a single glance around at the street, and quickly… unfolds into Baron Karl Mordo, wearing a fashionable suit, and carrying a newspaper under one arm. He sits down on the bench, with his back to the shop and its occupants, and opens the paper for a cursory read.

"The latest in stock prices…" he murmurs to himself, suppressing the urge to yawn. "I should have saved this for this evening."


The shorter, slimmer woman accompanying Strange carries herself like someone fifteen years older in the ways of the world, yet clearly has time's favour. She might well possess an IV running straight into her veins with an elixir derived from the fountain of youth. Her hands pressed deep into the pockets of her coat conceal her habitual gloves, a necessity now the turning weather favours temperatures closer to 10 than 20 (Celsius). A scarf might be an excellent addition given her tendencies to rely solely on her sumptuous leather trench to keep her warm.

"Mrs. O'Riley would retire from the kitchen?" This, apparently, is a matter of social importance and a crisis of the second water. The first might constitute the Cuban Missile Crisis. "Her scones shall be missed." In a scale of zero to Wanda, this is also a tragedy. Look, guys, there's an asteroid! Deeper matters beg for greater consideration, and she walks alongside the good Doctor in silence for a time. Interestingly, she carries a bag over her shoulder, battered and stained, that practically radiates the essence of sorrow to the Sight. "Gates can be tampered with. More secure than physical rooms, however. Something that responds to those of ability might be a good key to the ban."

Her book pulsates with anguish, seemingly agreeing with the horrors of stock prices and lost scone opportunities. Invest now for happy tummies.


"Well… I'm sure I can find a way to perhaps have Mrs. O'Riley send in a batch of scones weekly, perhaps as part of a paycheck. I mean, I intend for them to live comfortably after I buy the property from them." It'll be easy as pie and lucrative for the old couple. Plus, he's excited, in an odd way, to finally have a place for everyone to meet that isn't his living room. It probably stems from his need for privacy.

That Strange missed Mordo's arrival, even with the raven transforming flawlessly from bird to man, should say much for what is truly on the Sorcerer's mind - and eye. He's even distracted enough to take only mild notice of the bag. No Sight utilized yet to ascertain the contents. The pair pauses at the corner at the end of the street, the good Doctor glancing down again at Wanda.

"It'll be neutral ground, with no one being able to even pass through the Gated entrance if they intend to cause trouble, and those with the ability of the Arts will be able to enter along with guests, as long as they are truly guests. I can cast wards similar to the Sanctum. They'll be discreet but unbiased. I'll make it work. After all, I am the Sorcerer Supreme. You have so little faith in me?" A charming grin, full of twinkle that reaches his light eyes.


"It's a wonder your head makes it through the Sanctum door," comments Mordo from the bench. Of course, that doesn't stop him from making his voice heard to Strange and his companion down the street a bit. "I've often considered having it widened all the same — merely the top half. Where is the Ancient One's 'Ston-ed Wall of Humility' when one needs it…"

The swarthy man snorts derisively at the bench, and turns the page of his newspaper. "Apparently, satin gowns are on the way out…" remarks he in a dry tone of voice before getting up to follow his friends/rivals/playthings… "Riveting…"


What, not enjoying everyone and their cat showing up in the parlour of the Sanctum and somehow earning a place in a growing dormitory? Having to worry about if they step through a doorway into the closet containing the carnivorous grimoires made from beasts and men of impossible appetites? Surely that is not a major detraction from guests for the Sorcerer Supreme.

Wanda constitutes a far more paranoid version of the two mystics. Yet the constant chattering of the book at a low level assaults her senses, dimming them a fraction, speaking to the peculiar nature of whatever reading materials are intended for her nightstand. Assuming she has a nightstand finer than a broken crate under an overhang in Hell's Kitchen. The vibrations of an unravelling spell are but a drop in the ocean of sensation feeding around her, and she tips her head as her veiled gaze takes in the whole of the street. Access points, heights, ingresses, suspicious cars and odd pedestrians receive her bleak regard, and the narrowing alights on the bitter fellow rustling through the day's news, as if the world might stop and worry about him. Alas for Mordo, it moves on oblivious of his opinions.

One blink, all it takes, for the burn of her incandescent pupils to flare alizarine.

Strange's grin falls upon a grim hardening of her expression, the dip of her head subtly in the bench's direction. Calculations tally up with the fierce precision of supercharged German engineering, tapping into place. "Will it keep out snakes?"


It's a hard thing to do, processing two very different happenstances in a single moment.

Wait, she's frowning now, what I did say? Hold on, THAT VOICE. Freeze, Stephen. Don't move. Think. Her head, she nodded behind me.

The witch before him is privy to how the grin fades into a grimace than then melts into a momentary snarl before being snuffed out as completely as water thrown over a campfire. He's going for a professional sort of neutrality as he turns, hands stuffed deeply into the pockets of his coat, and espies his old friend sitting on the bench a dozen feet back, flicking through the daily newspaper with supreme nonchalance.

No Sight. Not yet. Not right now, while his heart is racketing about his chest cavity like a trapped canary.

"The only thing I've considered changing within the Sanctum is the propensity for the wards to be more thorough with their initial greetings. After all, I've made some enemies lately." A statement of truth; after all, not everyone wanted the Hellmouth closed and banished. Strange's voice is calm if not a little cool as it carries towards the bench.


"If the Sorcerer Supreme is not cultivating enemies, Stephen," replies the baron as he walks up behind the pair of magi. "Then you're doing it wrong." Mordo smiles to Strange, giving Wanda a polite, slow nod of his head.

"Hello, old friend."

Mordo doesn't say anything more than that, but remains quietly standing there, looking between Strange and Maximoff, allowing them the opportunity to 'play their next hand' so to speak. He does, however, glance down at the newspaper one last time before tucking beneath his left arm.

In weather: there is a cold front coming in.


"Never trust snakes in a teahouse. Especially not ones with silver tongues and wanton ideas." Strange can surely have no doubt of exactly which snakes she means, the ones that live in sub-pantry six and possibly respond to the growing corruption in the world by excitedly whispering in tongues to their journalist correspondents. Saucy tongues.

Wanda's strenuous objections come in a flat tone just this side of deadpan, something which could be chalked up easily to her fluid accent that straddles the German-Slavic divide. Though markedly a hint of sardonic humour, the kind that part of the world excels at, lies there all the same.

It is up to Strange to decide upon his reaction, which of those colourful slices the ticker will land on in a dreadful game of reaction roulette. The witch's eyes remain alight beneath her lowered lids, giving her something of a somnolent cast to her tawny features. Some might find it fetching, even seductive in a sense. Every coquette in late Renaissance and early Baroque art mastered the technique, and again among the devoted French masters two centuries later. Now?

She tips her hand, in a sense. "Tea will bring out good people. It is civilised as alcohol is not." She's no prohibitionist in the making, but sensible on that fact.

Now just maybe the newspaper print is starting to turn into a dizzying meltwater of ink, twisting around to find all the saddest of stories. Stories of houses burning down and job losses. Stories of accidents on the bridge.

Stories of betrayal. That one stands out crisp and clean, all else blurry.


The Baron is far better at polite cat's-pawing around the elephant on the street than the good Doctor happens to be. The man's smile is returned with an edged grin that Strange cannot help. The expression may curve his lips, but it dies in his light eyes.

"Karl," he replies shortly to the Baron. To Wanda, he glances over and nods stiltedly after a moment. Duly noted.

Roulette indeed. How to approach this, after the warning he was given? Denial combines with the hope of redemption to pool in his stomach like sugar-laced arsenic. No. No Sight. Let their long-standing friendship buoy them towards the truth. He doesn't want to rake Mordo with the Sight. It can be construed as an unforgivable slight from target to caster.

His gaze returns to the suavely-dressed magician before him and finally, he attempts to remain cordial. "What brings you here, of all places?"


Mordo turns from Strange to Wanda and smiles.

"Wanda," says he — instead of answering his friend's question. "To see you again, I'm sure the pleasure is all mine. You look well." At the mention of Wanda's name, something stirs inside the baron's chest — literally. An emerald-green serpent pokes its head out, then immediately flies out of Mordo's jacket to coil around his neck and shoulders.

It boasts fangs made of what appear to be rose-thorns, and feathery wings of many different colours — not unlike the rainbow. As soon as it alights upon his shoulder, the feathered serpent shifts colour like a chameleon to blend in almost perfectly with Mordo's skin-tone and suit.

"Ah, you're awake," he tells the snake.

"He isss now," the quetzacoatl replies in a sibilant whisper, before glaring from Mordo, to Strange, to Wanda and back to Strange. "Three," it hisses. "Three isss…"

"Complementary," Mordo interjects, keeping the snake from likely saying 'a crowd'. Then he motions toward Wanda. "Actually, Stephen, I and Seth here wanted to see Wanda — he is doing well, my dear. I thought you'd like to see."

He looks back at Strange.

"Seth was a gift."


Demurely lowering her head gives no place to conceal her face, turned at a quarter angle as it is, for the garnet-speckled headband stretched from ear to ear assures Wanda's lovely features stay visible to all. Mostly. Her lowered sooty lashes hide her almond eyes. Light strikes the altered planes, concealed under her high cheekbones and gathering along her full mouth to intimate the slight curvature of a smile invisible head-on.

"The pleasure is mutual," she replies, a brief hesitation before the lattermost word. Correctly selecting one from a limited vocabulary matters volumes. "It seems the ambiance agrees with me."

Ambiance of what, her silence does not affirm. A lady must have some secrets, even one dressed in a corset and black dress as she is. By all accounts her fashion sense is entirely askew from anyone but Milan's tastes. Or Courreges' shocking cigarette pants and hiphuggers. Nose bleeds, gentlemen.

Seth receives a slightly more curled smile. A smirk or the cat's greeting to the mouse. These things are ever so tricky, especially when she downed a German mongoose not more than two hours ago.

"A gift he gave himself," she says sotto voce to Strange.


"I see." Low and growly and it pertains to both speakers who have now addressed him.

Robert Louis Stevenson, a clever quotation on her part, and one that surprises Strange behind the forefront of his chaotic thoughts. He wouldn't have pegged Wanda for being so well-read. She's full of surprises!

His icy eyes linger on the quetzalcoatl-like creature. "It seems the little reptile is doing just fine." Perhaps the witch shares his spoken sentiments. "I'm sure you're enjoying his presence so far. He suits you." Another thin smile.

The good Doctor rolls his shoulders and takes a step back. It's an unconscious outer display of the need to place safe distance between him and the Baron. But for whose safety? Perhaps the curling of his fingers into fists can be seen beneath the dark fabric of the coat. "I'm glad that you two have been properly introduced."


The faintest of frowns crosses Mordo's brow as he considers his friend, glancing occasionally over at Wanda and then back. Taking a breath, the swarthy baron lifts his chin a bit and projects more concern into that quizzical frown.

"Are you quite well, Stephen?" he inquires in a friendly tone.

"Thiss iss a public health announccement…" the quetzalcoatl, Seth, interjects in an impish voice. It is unclear as to whom he might be insulting, if anyone, or merely voicing his displeasure at having been woken up — without a snack.

"Hush," Mordo tells the camouflaged snake, although a passer-by — a woman walking with two children engaged in conversation, glares at the baron. She clearly believes that she is the object of his imperative, rather than the little snake invisible to her eyes.

"He said what you always say, Mommy," the youngest of the two children — both boys — remarks, and gives Mordo a grin before the mother tugs on the lad's arm and hurries them along.

"Offssspring sssmell," Seth comments.

Mordo glares at him, and then finally shifts his attention back to Stephen and Wanda. "I really cannot stay," he explains after a moment. "I promised Seth some fresh flowers — ."

"A rossse a day keepss the — !"

Mordo quietly clamps a finger and thumb over the snake's mouth, and gives it one last 'look'. "As I was saying, we are shopping for flowers. You, Stephen, should drink some tea. This is not a good pallor for you." And he motions to the other man's complexion with his free hand. To Wanda, he adds:

"Look after him for me, would you, my dear?" Referring to Stephen.


Whatever statements are made, they act as a lightning rod between the Ancient One's former apprentices. The tawny-skinned sorceress draws a step to the side, her gloved hands still safely ensconced in the protective burrows afforded by her coat pockets. Elbows tucked near to her flanks afford no likelihood that passersby will strike Wanda in their haste to get away from a man who talks to his bare snake in the middle of the street.

Some antisocial behaviours are too terrible to turn a blind eye upon.

The mother hastening her children away warrants the very light shake to her head, Wanda's dark hair curling in heavy, lush spirals around her narrow shoulders. Rasping upon the burgundy leather, the weight speaks in its own mellifluous way to Seth the quetzacoatl. "Belly fat and tail wagging." Yes, that must be exactly what the snake intended to say.

Her bland expression once more returns to Mordo, the guarded nature he encountered all along squarely in place now. In other words, she resembles exactly every twenty-something ever known to walk the world of man, wholly unimpressed with authority and any superior, be they dressed in green or scarlet or a three-piece pinstripe Savile Row suit. "I will make sure he eats only the black roses and none of those other teas and essences. They do so stain. Those kind of stains require so much elbow power to get out."

Her tone is nearly bored, her heavy-lidded gaze yet averted. "And I'm terrible on my knees."


Boy, if the good Doctor's pallor was questionable before, you should see the spots on his cheeks now. And the tips of his ears. The fists in his pockets grip tighter still before loosening up to allow him to stretch his sore joints briefly. Then back to the fists.

Clearing his throat sharply, he avoids glancing over at Wanda and instead replies to the Baron's offered concerns. "I'm fine, Karl, thank you. I'll be fine. Just fine." His eyes had flicked to the winged snake and narrowed nearly shut even as he inhales and exhales slowly.

He caught that little side comment, thank-you-very-much.

"The nearest flower shop is down the way there. I hear they have lovely roses." A pause and it looks like he's chewing on the inside of his cheek. Oh, screw it.

"Karl, why would Wanda tell me that your aura is oily?" Fair warning. The next step is blinking the Sight over his ice-blue eyes.


Mordo goes quiet for a while.

When he removes his fingers from Seth's blunt muzzle, the feathered serpent begins to make another comment: "Thiss iss the moment when the lady findss the rassh her lover hid before m — ."

Mordo snaps his fingers.

Seth promptly turns into a rainbow-petalled rose which he then sticks in his collar. There. "That iss not fair…" the snake can be heard remarking. Mordo, meanwhile, shifts his attention back toward Wanda and Strange.

"Drink some tea," he replies in a gentle voice. The voice of a friend. "If after then you truly doubt me, Stephen…" A slight pause. "Use the Sight, and See for yourself. For everything else…" Another pause.

"Jealousy is not the province of the Sorcerer Supreme." When the sentence is spoken, a very (seemingly) disappointed Baron Mordo shape-shifts into a green-eyed raven, and flies away into the sky. On the ground where he had been standing, lies an object:

A rainbow-petalled rose.


The rainbow-petalled rose took its secondary shape at the whims of a sorceress caught in the turbulence of time, and it shall again by the flick of her fingers. Uncoiling thorns form long delicate tines barbed in iridescent coils, and the body no longer takes on the long, sleek coil of a snake but a respectable black quetzal.

The bird shakes its noble head, the resplendent head plumes struck back at an alarmingly fine angle. The peaky little collar of feathers around its neck flutter a searing red. For after all, its very name means the tall, standing plume of feathers around its neck and the Greek name literally references to its long mantle behind.

It shivers on its feet and hops about, uttering a treble syllable chord to serenade the pair, and then gives a sharp beat or two of its trembling wings.

Then it is off like a shot, the addition of a forceful push originating from the sorceress' subtle gestures that crook her fingers in explicitly delicate mudra. However fast the raven might be, the quetzal fast on Mordo's tail-feathers rockets into the sky in his wake, possibly to overtake and surpass.

"Success is not the realm of the unrequited suitor." When the sentence is spoken, a very (seemingly) unimpressed Scarlet Witch turns to Strange, and gestures at the teahouse. On her shoulder blade where she tugged on the strap lies a weight.

"I have a forbidden grimoire for you."

That's how you court the Sorcerer Supreme.



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