1963-11-12 - Life Worth Living
Summary: Hilde comes begging a Strange ally for help when she's certain Barney is going to die. Barney reacts less than well to his life being saved.
Related: Barney being shot and nearly dying logs
Theme Song: None
strange barney brunnhilde 

"Dr. Palmer will be available for questions at this point."

"Er, Dr. Strange, what about—"

The good Doctor holds up a single finger, not deigning to turn around, and the room goes silent once more as he finishes buttoning up his black coat. With smooth tosses, the crimson scarf is wrapped about his neck and then he turns, granting the single overly-inquisitive intern a /look/.

"Dr. Palmer will answer your questions," he repeats calmly, slowly, with all the charm of a great white shark. Not a peep from the rest of the group, some of whom glance aside at one another in mild alarm. "Thank you," Strange adds with a professional smile before exiting the adjoining room to the surgical suite.

His travels take him out towards the large hospital entry room and he steps aside to allow a nurse to push a wheelchair-buoyed young woman clearly in labor. A little sympathetic wince and then out the doors into the night.

The good Doctor pauses off to one side from the main doors and practices a short round of centering breaths. It's always nice to be back in the surgical suite, but it does leave him rather short of patience. Sitting aside has never been his forte, never was when he actively practiced, and the shaking of his hands deep within his pockets never abates.


While she was a capable medic, Hilde was not a miracle worker. Not in life, at least. Her miracles came in other areas. She also wasn't a surgeon and the man she'd been clinging to so close last week, well, he probably needed a surgeon. And he wasn't going back to the hospital. So, sucking up pride, worry, and just how angry he'd be that she was considering bringing someone back to the bolt hole, she checked in for the next time that Dr. Strange would be at the hospital. She was lucky with the timing, at least. She's been outside since just after his lecture started, waiting in the chill of the late-autumn evening, wearing a black jacket too large for her skinny frame. She has no cares.

She takes another drag off that somewhat crumpled Lucky Strike between her lips — she's clearly not been kind to the soft pack in her pocket, but it's not so bent as to not burn and that's what matters. She tries not to shiver against the night wind, but she really didn't want to go back inside. Her broken wrist still hangs at her side, currently wrapped up in a cast. There are brown, dried stains on it. Probably blood.

The moment he comes outside, her eyes go a bit wider. Just who she was looking for. She straightens up, double timing it over to him…"Dr. Strange. I… I know you just finished working but… I…I gotta favour to ask…" She looks both nervous and a bit humbly ashamed. Nothing like the proud Valkyrie that momentarily flashed in her eyes.


The abrupt approach is enough to make him rock back half a step before he recognizes the young woman. Oh, just her. A favor?

"Nurse…Norris, right? No, medic," he corrects himself, remembering how she, in turn, had offered the title during their last conversation. Before the check-in desk. In the front foyer of the hospital. With her…escort-who-totally-ran-from-the-police. A sigh that fogs in the air before him. "I did just finish working, yes, but clearly, you would like my assistance. Please…explain." Don't take the dubious tone too harshly.

The good Doctor's got a bet with himself as to the recipient of the favor.


A slight nod is given by the timid stick of a woman. She's even polite enough to drop her cigarette to the ground and kill it with her boot so she's not breathing the smoke in his face. Some people don't like it. A nervous, attempting at being almost kind smile crosses her lips, "Yeah, but…Hilde, Hilde is fine, really. Uh… Fuck. I'm sorry. I hate this but…" Her eyes flicker behind her, looking to see if anyone else is around. Hopefully not those cops? But really, anyone at all will make her wary.

Her voice drops a few decibles instead, just a whispering sort of a rasp now as she mutters, "So…I… I know you do stuff. Miracle worker. You got… cheats, somehow. And it feels weird as shit and I dunno what or why…but… I need your help. Or, well…Barney, he does. And he's not a bad guy, he really isn't… but he can't show up here, you saw the last time…"


Strange has to lean in a little closer to hear her over the ambient sounds of the outside hospital, with approaching and departing sirens, the muted chatter of voices, cars coming and going.

His brows knit once she finishes speaking and he cranes his neck. The parking lot is clear of police activity, as are the surrounding streets. The only flashing light - those of ambulances.

"Cheats, Hilde?" he asks with a sardonic note. "You profess to need my help, but I seem to remember a rather interesting statement from you last we spoke. What was it… Oh yes. 'Can't save them all, Doctor'. And your man is clearly wanted by the law," he adds, dropping into utter seriousness. He slowly shakes his head twice. "I'd be aiding a fugitive and that wouldn't look good to the police were I discovered."


A slight cross of guilt cuts through her ice blue eyes as he questions the word 'cheats'. Maybe that was a poor word to use. As an ambulance's lights flash, her head jerks up, looking in the direction of that bus on sheer habit. Something crosses her features there, an aching. She clearly misses it, undoubtedly off work with that wrist. She tries to shake the thoughts off, though, and looks back to him. She was here for a reason.

Something he says, though, makes her brows furrow in genuine confusion. "…I… I never said that. I'd never say that. I'm… I'm an EMT. I try to save them too." And it's not the denial of someone backtracking their words. She looks genuinely confused. Her words ring of truth. She doesn't remember giving that statement at all. "And he's not a bad man… he really isn't. It… it's complicated, what happened. Why they want him. He doesn't deserve it… He doesn't hurt women or children. He… he tries to protect people." She might be deluding herself a bit there, but she does also seem to believe those things. At least, definitely the last two sentiments.


The denial is not received well by the one who was on the receiving end of the Valkyrie's spiteful stance.

"Complicated." Strange continues frowning and maybe Hilde catches it, maybe she doesn't - his irises gain a lightening in color even as he tilts his head up slightly. Was it the light? …magic?

With the Sight, the good Doctor looks her over once more. Where is the brave death-harbinger? The one who merrily stepped across his non-existent grave and smiled with all the sweetness of graveyard angels? The Medic is a confusing sight within the Sight. He can see traces of residual supernatural energy, but they're incredibly muted, like the low-level glow of phosphorescence in caves.

He blinks away the vision granted to him by the Mystic Arts and gives the thin young woman another suspicious once more before shrugging. "Alright, Hilde. What does he need?"


Part of her catches it, something instinctual in her, or perhaps part of her that remembers that initial brush, it pulls back and away. Shy. A touch scared. That brave harbinger seems no where near this shy ghost of a woman. Even in her spirit, so much of it is mortal. Simply mortal. Echoes of the other, line a distant, dim lining or undertone, but no where near so present as whatever he brought out that night. She swallows back tightly, looking down and away from those lightning eyes.

"I know this isn't your specialty and… I… I have no good reason to give you to help. You have no reason *to* help me… Us. People like us. You're some rich doctor. We're…" Trash. Low class. The sort of people that live in tenaments and die forgotten in alleyways. But she doesn't actually voice those words or thoughts, even if they are there behind her tone. "… not like you. But please. I… don't know anyone else. I think he's coming down with an infection? I got the bullet out but… fuck, it collapsed his lung. I'm not a surgeon. I'm not even a nurse. I keep'em alive long enough to gett'em here."


A roll of his eyes followed by a grumble of sorts. Well-played, Medic Norris - the rich doctor refusing to stoop to help her wounded man.

"Fine, Hilde - lead the way." Spoken quietly but gently, with a sense of conviction. His time in Kamar-Taj woke a sense of duty that reaches beyond his ego. He extends a hand in the general direction of the parking lot. "Where is he laid up?"


There is still something hurt-animal-frightened about Hilde. Worried she's making the wrong decision. But, if it's possible, she looks MORE tired tonight than the first night they met. Eyes sunken, cheeks thin, the paranoia that comes after days without any good sleep. That's the whole bend and look to her body right now. Of course, maybe she's been playing nurse maid that long and *hasn't* slept in 40 some hours. It's possible. She hesitates, not really having expected him to say yes. Now, to risk their little home…

It was worth it. Better than risking his life. She seems to make that resolute decision after another heartbeat and then turns on the ball of her foot, beginning down the street. "…Not too far. Midtown. It… It ain't special or anything, but it's home now. I can take you." She murmurs softly. Then she begins to pound the pavement.


It takes very few steps for Strange to catch up to Hilde and they walk side by side for a time. They cross a street or two and put some distance between them and the hospital proper. The night air is cold, but clear in a way, with no foreboding sense of approaching rain or deeper chill.

An alleyway looms to his right and he stops walking. "Hilde, there's a quicker way. What is the address?" He withdraws his hands from his pockets and idly stretches his fingers in various ways.


"Uh… it's not that far. Taxis cost money. Just up on 87th street, above the pastry shop on 9th…" Hilde explains. It's not really the sort of place that has a 'street' address. Hell, it might not even be a totally legal residence. But, she's given him that much of the address, which is probably enough.

She's also staring at him wary and confused, because she has this sinking feeling he's not talking about a taxi. She huddles down into her jacket just a bit closer than she was before, the cool air just cutting through every layer she has. She isn't a woman who holds heat well.


"Oh, well…much closer than I expected," the good Doctor murmurs. He places his hands back into his pockets and looks around. No one lingers on the streets, not without nefarious reasons…or reasons of cheek.

"There is a quicker way to reach your…fallen friend," he decides on that particular title, "but it might…startle you. Both." Is that…a ghost of a smile? Does Strange have the capacity for such audacity in the face of a potentially heart-stopping situation? No worries, he's noted how she shivers. It may sway his decision.


This guy cheats death, surely he doesn't cheat physics too? That's not the way things work! How little does Hilde Norris know. The tall skeleton of a woman just stares at him in doubtful confusion, good hand shoved in her pocket, the other still hanging rather uselessly at her side. "Uh… I'd… I'd rather not startle him. But… quick is good, I guess." She looks nervous as all get out, but who knows how much time her friend hand.

So, with a steadying breath and a slight brace of her shoulders, she gives him a short nod. "Just…just do whatever. Do it. There's an alleyway 'round the corner… can you go there? You know the place? Smells like dog food." Oh yes. THAT alleyway. Of course, everyone knows it!


"This alleyway will do just fine."

Wait, doesn't he care about being mugged? Or being startled by a stray alleycat? Or tripping over a body?! Apparently not. Once he's a good twenty feet in, nearly lost to the shadows of the building looming above him, Strange eyes the air before him and gives a decisive nod. Outstretched hand, one brought back as if to half-draw a bowstring…and then, an odd light. It crackles like a sparkler at first, orange-red fire-flecks of energy, but then it expands before him…until a Gate is opened. Should Hilde venture in a few steps, she'll see that it leads to the door to their bolthole, not beyond the threshold. See? He's behaving. No need to Gate into the bolthole.

"Well? Are you coming or not?" His voice reaches from down the alleyway and he's clearly unable to keep that lilt of amusement out of it. Needling a Valkyrie. Such a Strange thing to do.


Everything in Hilde's world says she should NOT be going down an empty, quiet, dark alleyway with a relative stranger. But, really, she was trusting him with the knowledge of their little hole of an apartment, that's the same as trusting him with her life. So, after another wary moment, she begins to creep down the alley after him, "Doctor, this is a dead end…" She insists quietly, her raspy voice echoing just slightly off the brick and dank pavement below.

But then that sparking begins. She jerks back, suddenly wondering if something is on fire. "Doc, watch ou-… Oh." He's doing it. He's causing those sparks. What in hell? Blue eyes narrow warily as she tries to figure out just what he is doing but the biggest thing she figures out is, on the other side, is their DOOR. Her heart leaps into her throat. "…what… the… ever loving… fuck." She breathes out. If there was ever color in her face, it's gone now.

"I've… this isn't real…" She protests again, even as he calls to her to step through. But she's walking forward. If she's finally gone insane, she might as well go all the way down the rabbit hole. But then they are stepping into that dank, third floor little hall in front of a metal door that looks like it should lead to some janitor's closet. She reaches up to the brick wall at the side of the door, standing on her tip toes. A brick moves too easily and suddenly she's pulling out a key. She's gone awful quiet since going through that Gate. Shock is a hell of a thing. Slightly shaking hand shoves the key into the lock of the place, pushing the door open.

Inside is a single room, well, it's trying to be an 'efficency'. A big futon bed thing in the corner where a probably very unconscious form is wrapped up in a coocoon of blankets. A crossbow in an open case rests on the floor next to the bed. A little two person table. Kitchenette in the corner. A single, spare door to the bathroom. No real furniture, a few suitcases that are messily open with clothes strewn all around them.


Forgive the good Doctor his faint smile. He has a streak of petty humor every now and then; blame it on the ego that lies beneath his mantle in relative dormancy. For the most part.

"It's as real as you," he replies quietly, even as he follows behind her. Which 'you'…? The Gate is dismissed and falls apart as easily as charred paper in a breeze. This leaves him to join her in the shadowy hallway, with its cobwebbed ceiling corners and to watch silently as her clever hands uncover cleverly-hidden key and then…into the dragon's den. Or the murderer's den. Hopefully he doesn't get shot.

His steel-blue eyes stray to the bundle of blankets on the ratty futon. His patient? Strange waits near to the now-closed door to this little abode. Despite his mantle, he is pensively apprehensive. After all, this man ran from the police.


The sound of the door came a second or two ago, the key in the lock — the one from the wall outside, so it had to be Hilde. She steps into the room with a man in tow that was SO not expected, but when she left, Barney was barely conscious again and running a fever. Which was making him shiver MORE. And she was out of morphine. So, desperate times and desperate measures.

"…Barney? It's… it's me. I… got some help… You awake?" She calls across the room, her rasping voice as gentle and reassuring as possible as she tries not to jar him even if he IS conscious. She's moving quickly to the side of that bundle on the bed, some weird dread in her that she's going to come back to him not even breathing.


Feverish. This time, Barney is exactly where she'd left him, in bed. Sweat is causing dark, straight hair to clump and stick to his head, but there is that occasional involuntary shiver that causes his body to shake. His eyes are half-closed even if he seems 'asleep', but there is a reaction to that door. Her voice that calls out registers in the back of his head, and so far, he doesn't consider her to be a threat, even in his fever dreams. Beside his bed, an uncocked crossbow with 5 bolts in a 'quiver' of sorts that is attached to the body.

'Some help'

Barney rolls over at the voice, blinking bleary eyes over and over to try and focus on a thought, on that bit that he can hear and sees…

Is that someone else? Who..

In the next second, his hands are fumbling in a desperate attempt to grab his crossbow; the act of a man that trusts no one, and to protect what little he does have. He fails, miserably, but that doesn't keep him from trying.

The apartment, should strange look at it, looks sparse but for the little bit here and there that obviously looks like a lady's touch. Nothing on the walls, nothing that would even begin to make it look as if it's anything resembling a long-term residence.

"Hilde.." is hoarsely whispered.. "Why you?" He trusted her.. of everyone? He's a dead man… The crossbow drops again, out of his fingers due to both the weight of the weapon, and that his muscles convulse again with the chill of the fever.


Hands up! Strange places palms up and out in a two-fold show of innocence in intent to injure and to begin conjuring up a defensive shielding spell. No longer fingers spread, now formed into mudras and beginning to glow with the barest spell-light.

Then the clattering crossbow thumps to the floor. Thank the gods above and below it's so well-made; no errant bolt flies to cause damage.

Slowly exhaling, the good Doctor's glowing eyes shift to Hilde. "You should have brought him to the hospital sooner." He begins to make his way across the room, step by slow rolling step, hands still held around the level of his waist in case the need for a spell arises.


As Barney half collapses in his show of machismo with that damned cross bow, Hilde just *runs* in his direction. Well, dashes the few feet between them, immediately reaching for his shoulders, trying to guide that crossbow away. Her pale brow is tightly knit in heart sick worry and a touch of anger that Barney just keeps pushing himself. "Dammit, Barney. You're burning up and you can't even hold your own damn weapon. There's only so much I can do with morphine and stitches." There's that slight crackle of tears at the back of her throat, "I don't care if you hate me forever," Lie, "But I wasn't going to let you die." Truth.

Then her icy eyes are looking back to Strange, especially as he scolds her about not bringing him to the hospital sooner. "You…saw what happened. I wasn't going to bring him just… just have him lose his life another way. I usually can put him back together, this time is just… real bad. And the fever…" Hilde might be proud, but she's not so proud to admit that occasionally emergency medicine isn't enough. She kneels on the bed next to her shivering companion, trying to ease him back down. "..Barney, lay down, please…breathe and calm down. Let him *help* you. We can move again when you aren't half dead." She hisses. She knows he's going to be fighting this.


Barney's pulling up his legs again to try and curl up into a ball in an attempt to get warm even while sweat sits as a light sheen on his face. No fire in the fireplace; and the little bolthole may be feeling a little chilly, though not too bad. He's watching the pair of them with a fever-ravaged gaze, and as they approach, as the both approach, he's pulling the covers back and trying, weakly, to get to the other side of the bed. Between his state and his wounds, it's not working all that well.(Sadly his pistol is across the room.)

"You brought him.." and it sounds sadly accusing. "He'll tell.. I ain't got time. I.. I need to go.." His eyes dart from one to the other, landing back on Strange, staring at him, not recognizing him from the other day. His words are for Hilde, though..

"I trusted you…"


"Yes, well, what's worse - being in jail or being dead?" Rhetorical sort of question to Hilde and clearly, Strange would choose being behind bars than being laid on a slab. "You're right again though, he's looking pretty rough."

The good Doctor reaches the side of the bed and watches the wounded man attempt to escape from him. He's granted a stern, somewhat impatient glare, tempered by pity and an odd sense of kinship. There's steel in this one. The Sorcerer has seen it before, back at Kamar-Taj, in another body entirely.

But even steel bends, must be mended at times, else it break entirely.

A different mudra entirely, gestured so lightly and idly from the right hand that both non-casters may miss it entirely. It's a brush of warm spring air, redolent of green grass and lingering dew and the promise of midday warmth - a lullaby of a soothing spell, intending to relax the man back into the bed.


"…Barney, please…please. Hate me… kick me out… but lay down and let him help you…" Hilde's far too caught up with the man who is twice her size, sick and half dellusional, so she completely misses whatever Strange does, but it certainly does help her actually get Barney back down onto the bed and no longer fighting her touch or the reassurances of her hands.

She crawls half onto the bed above him, hands lingering on his shoulders for a heartbeat or two before one comes up to comb back through his stringy, cold sweat dampened hair. Somehow, his skin looked worse, clammy and feverish, than even when he was in shock. Moisture-glassy eyes turn from Barney, back to the doctor. "…Can…can you even help him? I know it's bad… Fuck. I… I'm sorry. I'm so sorry…" It's not entirely clear who she's apologizing to. Probably both of them. Probably the whole damn situation. Her hands never leave touching Barney in some way, though. For all their mutual oddness, it's clear the two were firmly a bonded pair.


If it was just jail, Barney could weather it, he could. There is no option for jail for him. He gets caught by J Edgar's men, he's put down like a dog. He runs afowl of Carter's organization, the one that has sort of brought him out of the cold but has left him on the porch while all have their dinners inside in the warm kitchen, he's put down like a dog or handed over to the FBI. But there's no explaining that. Even Hilde probably doesn't know exactly what sort of position Barney is in; just the vague 'he can't be caught'.

Of course, if they just killed him, it might be a mercy. There is so much the FBI has their hands in that 'disappearing' might be a 'thing', too.

Barney's on that edge of the bed, and he curls up, trying to stay warm, trying to protect himself, trying to…

And the magic unfurls in a gentle, soothing balm. It's encouraging, promises warmth, rest and peace at its end. The fever-assaulted body of Barney shivers again and he blinks at the so very strange feeling that comes over him as he moves slowly, carefully back to his spot that is dampened with his sweat from the last day. Hilde's ministrations are met with a look, a stare, and that hint of disappointment and disbelief in the betrayal. "Lemme sleep… tha's all… jus' sleep…"


Barney has arrived.


A slow exhale of relief escapes the good Doctor as he sees his spell get to work. It would have been far more difficult to attempt to heal the man if he'd still been thrashing about. There's not a hint of magic to him, no lean towards the abilities in the Arts, so the next step must be hands-on. It's the only way to ensure a complete reknitting of all injured bones and organs.

"Keep him there," Strange orders Hilde quietly, attempting to avoid drawing much attention to himself as he unwraps the crimson scarf from around his neck. Wait…was that a tug of resistance against being removed? His attention goes instead to taking off his coat and then, after a moment with his back towards towards the bed, the scarf is unwound with ease. Both garments land roughly near the small table; maybe the coat slides off, but the scarf - it stays rather effectively.

He unbuttons the sleeves of his dress shirt - dark navy-blue rather than white - and rolls them up as he walks over. Scarred hands shiver once and then become completely controlled. Perhaps Hilde can sense the subtle draw-in of air around him, maybe even Barney too, in his semi-lucid state. "I'll need to place my hands on him in order to work. Is he going to have an issue with this?" Hilde is granted an arched brow.


It's not until that slight tug of air, or is that magic, that Hilde really feels it. But goodness, she feels it. That 'cheating', the power that was utterly the antithesis to what thrums through her own bones. It makes her shiver a bit, like someone who is being tickled by static electricity, her breath catching just a moment. That's when her eye drops to the scarf which, by all rights, should be slipping off onto the floor. But it's not. Maybe she's seeing things. Hilde tries to shake her head clear and look back to the doctor from where she's half kneeling above Barney's head.

"…Uh… yes, probably, but… I'm here. I've got him. He… he just doesn't… he ain't that way with men, you know?" Or blacks, or pretty much anyone who isn't a white lady. Hilde knows her Barney. Still, she leans down, meeting those betrayed eyes, the look alone from Barney making her throat tighten a bit as her fingertips smooth back through his hair once more. "…Barney, you gotta stay still. Let the doc work. Better than the hospital, I promise you that… but you gotta let him work, or I'm gonna sit on your arms and I might actually win this wrestling match for once. So, don't tempt me." A ghost of a smile crosses her features with that, but her fingertips also fall to his shoulders. She'll pin him down if she must.


Sleep.. that's all. Barney's woozy, fuzzy and has absolutely no defense against magic. There isn't a thing that would point to it in his mind that it's being used, regardless. "Sleeep.." is murmured, and he's trying not to look at her now. When Hilde touches him again, the desire to move away again is clear and oh so evident in glassy eyes, but where the spirit is willing, the flesh is so very, very weak.

Even if Strange didn't have 'permission', per se, there wouldn't really be a thing he could do about it. "G'way.." comes quietly. "'M'good.."


"I'll go away soon enough, believe me," Strange mutters as he walks over to the bed and kneels down beside Hilde. "Move so I can see the wound sites."

He lets out a quiet hum as he peels back the ratty sheets to reveal the sweat-glossed chest of the barely-coherent man. "Wonderful." Spoken dryly. "Anterior sucking wound, right upper quadrant, bullet…removed - " A glance over at Hilde, the likely candidate for retrieving the foreign object, "Well done, Hilde. Another wound…knife? Lateral, ah. Relieve the pressure of a collapsed lung, yes, I remember you mentioning that." He pushes aside any weak attempts to deflect him with relative ease as he checks pulse, pupil reaction to light, and then leans in close to see what he can in the dingy light. "Anemic, pleurisy caused by dyspnea…"

The good Doctor shakes his head slowly and glances over at Hilde again. "You're lucky you found me when you did." Wiping his hands on his dress pants, he then inhales and exhales slowly. The sense of prickling in the air around him increases. Was that a mote of magic flickering in and out of existence, like a firefly? Another? "I can fix this, but not with morphine and sutures. The infection needs to be burned from his blood. He's too far progressed. This will take something different…do you understand?"

A canny look to the Medic now.


The lanky medic moves her fingertips enough that it's easy for Strange to get to the site of the wound. She's done a good job with it, even has two stitches in the worst one and plastic tape over top to create a seal so his lung doesn't collapse again. She even got the bullet out pretty smoothly with her off hand, considering one of her palms is still in a cast. But there is only so much an EMT can do in a sketchy little apartment with stolen medical supplies. So she helps brace Barney quietly and stares with too-wide, worried eyes.

"…I didn't… call you for morphine and sutures. I can do that. It didn't help." Hilde whispers quietly, full well aware of what the man might be able to do. There is a reason he cheats death, she was just taking a gamble that he'd be able to do it in THIS instance, considering she had no real details of what he was capable of doing. "…Just…just do it. Please." She whispers quietly, the pads of her thumbs stroking back and forth over the tops of Barney's shoulders, trying to rest and reassure him.

"…Barney, you hear that? You're lucky I drug him up here. Fucking lucky. You can hate me, but… but your life is worth it. He's gonna help."


In good times, Barney is not medically savvy beyond battlefield dressings. Stick a bandage on and hope for the best. And keep going. When that doesn't work? Seek out someone either trusted or someone that that isn't in a position to tell, patient/medico priviledge aside. No room for trusting in that, period. And now, when that doesn't work? Run to ground and curl up and it's back to hoping for the best. No one will mourn anyway.

Now, though? The words buzz over him, and there isn't one that stops to sink in. Barney can feel Hilde's fingers on him; they're warm, for once. The man is a compliant patient simply because there is nothing else he can be. His wounds are red and angry, his skin a sheen covered pale in comparison, if not a little grey, thanks to the blood loss and anemia. Blue eyes are more closed than open, and the man is pretty much lost in his own little world.


"Well then…keep him still." Probably a somewhat useless command - the man is clearly on the edge of cardiac distress - but the Surgeon in him lingers. Now? For the Sorcerer.

The lights in the room flicker (was that a power surge?) and then he exhales slowly. Eyes shutter off as he forms his scarred hands into mudras of gyan and prithvi - grounding and concentration, stability and serenity. Around them, swirling into existence with the silent peace of starlight, comes the healing spell. Hues of the sky spectrum dance and light the room counter to the dull yellowed glow.

"Changa", is the whispered Word and then Strange presses his hands on Barney's chest - one above his struggling heart and one against his ribs, below the site of the knife wound.

It's like the cool whisper of a spring rain after a muggy day; the press of a washcloth to fevered brow; the sip of water after struggling in the heat. Muscles begin to regrow, bones to reknit, and the infection is chased through his bloodstream with the unapologetic tenacity of the magic. Cornered, it stands no chance and its consumed entirely, evaporated away. The Sorcerer watches his progress with half-lidded gaze of distant concentration; his irises? Alight with amaranthine and the Sight.


Much of Hilde's life is spent being relatively useless. She's the one that ushers on the dead, takes the patients she knows won't make and holds their hand. Sometimes she pretends to fight, or she'd lose her job, but most of them are gone and she knows it. Her use is not to the living, even if she is a capable medic. But this is a different kind of uselessness. She's moved enough to the side that she needed to fully pull up on the bed, giving Strange room to work. She shifts one hand beneath Barney's head, pulling it into her lap instead of against that sweat strewn pillow. One hand remains in place on his shoulder, but there is no need to pin him now. He's too far gone. She can do naught else but watch.

Well, Hilde can't. Brunnhilde, the part of her lining the back of her spirit, can feel that energy all too well on the air. The Valkyrie rears up, half railing against her physical captor and the mortal woman's attachment to this man who should have been her's. Emotions and duty are strange things. She doesn't fight it, but there is an Otherness in her spirit, something wary and uncomfortable as she watches the magic in the room, cheating her out of a dead warrior. Strange will get the DISTINCT sensation of being watched, if nothing else, and judged. But no poppies today. Hilde's eyes just slightly silver over and she's too quietly distant for watching such a procedure.


There is nothing, nothing but the shallow breathing of lungs that have suffered enough trauma to not want to inflate completely. The rasped breaths that threaten to stop, haven't yet. Whether this is due to his personal stubbornness or his level of overall health, who knows?

Barney is in his own world, in his own mind, a place where there is very little but cold. It's when Strange begins his own personal ministrations in the form of magery that the beginnings of warmth, the flickers of light start to creep forward.

The dark and the strange mix of heat and cold begin to be replaced, slowly but surely with health. The battles waged within his own body grow silent with the progress of magic. Each strand of capillary, vein, artery; nothing is missed. Every drop of blood in his body undergoes that change, the shift from the weary battle of fighting off death to embracing life.

Barney groans under the weight of it, both uplifting and heavy. It's a relief but not a release.

A deeper breath is drawn, his body fully believing that a hard pull is necessary to bring in only a little, he rolls to his side and starts coughing. A hand clutches his side in recalled pain, even if there isn't any there. Muscle memory, which undoubtedly will disappear. Beyond that, a groan that marks the exit of a successful breath.


The good Doctor pulls away now, task complete, incantation dispelled. Giving Hilde a faint sardonic smile - why, hello there, Valkyrie - he then gathers up his coat and scarf. He tosses the scarf lightly about his neck. Something else carries it the rest of the way to snuggling closely to his person.

"You know how to stabilize him from here on out, Hilde. Don't give me reason to visit again." Said gruffly, but…is that a twinkle in his now steel-blue eyes? Maybe he enjoys needling the silver-eyed being that lingers quietly beneath the Medic's psyche.

Perhaps the two are too involved with one another to hear the door to the bolthole open and close. Outside the hallway, a Gate is drawn and then dismissed once its caster steps into the Sanctum's Loft. The Doctor has left the building.


Strange leaves, heading towards Greenwich Village [out].


Strange has left.


Oh no, the Valkyrie doesn't miss that look at all. Hilde releases a breath that is almost haughty, so unlike the shy, uncertain medic, but whatever the being might think is very quickly dismissed as Barney rolls over onto his side and starts coughing. Coughing was a good sign. A great one. Well, coughing without crackling or his chest sucking in protest. She'll take it. All of Hilde's consciousness rushes back into being, fully in control of her own head as she scrambles back to the ground at Barney's side, leaning in front of his face.

She barely notices Strange leave. She's only got eyes for Barney.

"Hey!….hey, breathe, take it easy, breathe… your body is… you're still gonna be rough around the edges. Your body's gotta remember how to do it right. I'm right here… Breathe with me, please…" Hilde takes in a slow, deep, coaching sort of breath as her one hand rests against his cheek and other at his shoulder. Frantic blue eyes search for his gaze, looking for lucidity that hasn't been there in days.


Cold air into the lungs, and Barney is near hyperventilating as he pulls in breath after breath, the coughing fit not quite yet subsiding. He can hear her voice, feel her presence. Isn't she gone?

The touch that comes assures Barney that she is actually still there beside him, guiding him up and out of the mess he'd managed to find himself in. His own gaze doesn't so much lock as at least find her own blue eyes, and he's trying, he is, to breath.. and ends up facing down again, coughing. There's nothing to bring up, thankfully, so the retching results in absolutely nothing but the body finalizing its purging of all that was dangerous to it. Finally, with her coaching, he's there… and rolls onto his back, "Oh god…"


Probably it'd be wise to run and get water, but Hilde can't quite bring herself to leave his side yet. She keeps rubbing one hand against his shoulders, even as he doubles down in another vicious cough. "In your nose, Barney… slow… you…were kinda forgetting how to do this…" Hilde half teases him with a tired, hiccupy sort of chuckle that isn't all that amused, but she's trying. She's scared and half delirious with exhaustion herself. It was worth it to hear him actually breathing, actually coughing. So she does her best to guide him and remains kneeling on the floor at his side.

When he finally rolls over onto his back and manages to speak, Hilde exhales a breath she'd half been holding. At least he didn't choke on his own air (it'd be a horribly sad thing to die coughing after being saved from all that.) She sinks forward, half resting on his chest, that hand from his cheek going into his hair as she looks up to his face and just listens to him breathe, to that ragged tattoo of his actually-again-functioning heart. "Hey…there you go…that…That's better. You with me? Finally?"


Barney lies there for a few long heartbeats (now that it's not in danger of stopping on him!), his hand slowly but automatically reaches up to rest upon the side of her head, his fingers in her hair. It's a few breaths beyond before he tries to actually speak, and it's hesitant, to say the least. "Goddammit.." How nice that the first words deliberately spoken are curses? "Motherfucking.. dear god.. what the fuck just happened?"

Apparently there's not a lot of memory there… and Barney looks down, though blonde hair and a weary Hilde cover his chest. "Finally…"


The feel of his fingers in her hair gives a minor reassurance that maybe he isn't going to hate her forever. Maybe he's even almost forgiven her already. Or, more likely, he doesn't really remember what happened. Hilde should have gotten help days ago, before he got so bad. She tilts her head just enough she can press into the touch of his fingertips, like some starved cat looking for affection. The curses just make her smile a bit wider. They were music to her ears and very much more her usual Barney.

"You… you were shot. Pretty bad… spent the night half dead in a building… your *brother*," Yes, he's getting a glare about not even TELLING her that he had a bother, "Drug you back here the morning after. Had a collapsed lung. You…remember any of that?" She asks gently, not certain how far back the memory loss goes. But, best to start every story at the beginning. She remains half draped over him, just happy to be near, though she looks like a woman who hasn't slept in days. Maybe that's not all that uncommon for her.


There is a chill to the room; the fireplace hasn't been lit again, so Barney pulls the blanket up to cover that bit that isn't being covered by Hilde's head. (Strangely enough, his shoulder doesn't hurt anymore either!) He rolls his head forward to take a look at her, resting there, nodding his head as the recent past is recounted. "Yeah, remember that.. remember Clint bein' here." At least his presence. "After he left, though?" He rocks his head back and shakes it. "I just remember bein' mad. Scared. Like.. I had to run. I had to go, and I even thought I made it to the door or somethin'." Hallucinations, there. "But I couldn't get out. Couldn't make it. Everything kept pullin' me back here."


As she feels him just slightly shiver, actually shiver, not a fever shiver, Hilde immediately picks herself up and shifts the blanket more around his shoulders. She may be a touch over protective now, but it's been a long few days. She then reaches her good hand down, tugging at the laces of her boots so she can free them and kick the heavy things off, though she's not really paying attention to what she's doing. Her eyes are still entirely for him. The end of the story about having to run makes her jaw set slightly, a pinched guilt behind her eyes.

She could lie. She probably should. But Hilde was never good at lying, expecially not to him.

Boots off, she shifts from the ground to sit on the edge of the bed next to his hip. She had planned on crawling under the covers with him, but it seems that plan is delayed. Her small hand comes down, resting on his chest again, though there is now blanket between her fingertips and his skin. "…You… it got real bad, Barney. I got the bullet out of you but god knows what shit was in that building. And there was still fluid around your lungs and… your fever spiked. You got real sick. You… you were probably dyin'. You were dyin'. I know… you know how I know this shit. I… I know. So… I got help. I had to. Couldn't just… let you die like that. And you can hate me, or run, or whatever… but that Dr. Strange guy. He… he's different. He got a touch to him… so I begged him to help. He did. He … came up here. Saved your life." Hilde quietly braces herself for the anger to come, all of her a line of tension.


She really probably should have lied. It'd have been easy, and it would have helped everything along. No thought has been given to the miracle-working of his Hilde; it simply was something he's come to expect, after she's patched him up so many times over the course of their 'relationship, whatever that means.

Blue eyes watch her, and they start to turn, a wariness comes creeping in as the recounting progresses. Barney's not detecting any lies, per se… why would she when she comes to the part of having someone else invade their little bolthole. The one place where he's felt somewhat safe. Safe enough, anyway, where he ran to ground.

"Goddammit.." There was a reason for him cursing when he came further to his senses. "Goddammit, Hilde.." Barney swears again, and rather than staying under the blankets, he moves to swing his feet over the side, though as he does, he spies his crossbow there. Paranoia, no doubt. Or the fact that what she says is true, and he was unconsciously trying to protect himself now that this place is no longer secure. "Do I fucking have to find a place that you don't know about?" He's coming on a full-on pissed offed-ness, though it's a little questionable if he'll actually be able to support his own weight so soon after—

"I swear.. why don't you just ask the whole fucking neighborhood up."

Shoulda let him die.

"Shoulda died.. if'n I was that stupid." And he was. "I deserve it."


As he pulls up out of the bed, Hilde jerks away like some startled cat. So much of her hoped maybe it was just the fever, maybe he'd be more reasonable, but something deep down in her knew this would be the way. She's seen his temper before, it's just often not directed at her. So, she pulls back away from him enough he can try and move as he pleases. For the first time in several days she doesn't dash to his side as he's trying to get up and move. Hopefully he CAN hold his own weight. She stands back, like some broken tree, her body slightly bent, shoulders curled inward, the cast on her arm still stained with his dried blood and some of her shirt sleeves too.

It's the question about him having to find a place she doesn't know about which hits her the worst, though. After days of sitting vigil over his barely breathing body, that's what she gets. She should scream, defend herself, tell him how stupid he's being, but it's not in her. She blinks, a tear cutting free from her eye lashes and tracking down her cheek, then she turns, moving shakily for her own bag once more. She should have packed up and gone the first time. She knew it was smarter.

"N-no… No. I couldn't let you die. I…I said it… when you were. You can hate me… but it ain't worth you dying. No one else knows. The Doctor… we know his secret as much as… he knows ours… Leverage, against him… but I wasn't gonna let you die." Forced back tears crackle at her voice as she tries to pack as hastily as possible.


The vestiges of what Hilde had done with the bolthole in order to turn it into a living space is only now seen; from the sheets on the bed to the little things around the place that make it looked 'lived in' and homey. Barney's on a tear, though, and one that he knows he'll probably regret later, but that simply isn't enough to stop him. Not now.

Besides, Barney isn't the smart brother.

One bare foot hits the floor, the other.. and Barney is a little wobbly, but manages to keep upright. First step.. second, and he is close enough to a chair, something, to hold on to in order to stay on his feet. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a place the goddamned FBI forgot about?" The one was compromised by.. oh god, yes.. Hilde. This one, now? "I don't even know if there's another. I can't fucking afford for anyone to find it. Not anyone."

And here he'd been, wanting to come 'home' so he could be found by Hilde.. his Hilde.. and what he needs is a serious kick in the ass. But that probably won't come.

"I gotta go to SHIELD.. they may be looking for me because I haven't checked in. They might put me down yet." First.. a shower.

Barney watches, stares as Hilde starts packing her things, his feelings warring behind blue eyes. "Think about it, Hilde. You think they're gonna believe a word I say against a guy like him? Seriously. He walks into a PD and he says, 'Oh, he's there, officer', and there isn't a goddamned thing I could say or do."


Her things were scattered everywhere. Taking care of him had, pretty much, been the only goal of her mind the last few days so cleaning had been no priority. Now, she's like some skittish dog who has been yelled at, bent and ducking around the room as she tries to get her things. There's still a bloody satin night down at the far foot of the bed and those stockings. She should have thrown them out, but it never really came to her mind. She had more important things. She pauses at seeing them but is sure as hell not wearing them again, so she doesn't put them in the bag.

The depleted medical kit comes next, her eyes down, not daring to look at him as he yells. It's just brings a few more tears cutting down across her cheeks, her chest tighter with them. The aching sadness and hurt of his words wars a moment with the anger of her own betrayal. She's not good at defending herself but, once in a blue moon, she thinks she's in the right. He doesn't get yelled at, but he does get a rasping, tearful: "I *DID* think about it, Barney. I'm not fucking stupid. But I… I couldn't let you die. And if you hate me for saving your life fucking hate me. But you'da been dead by tonight if I did nothing. I couldn't sit there and listen to you stop breathing. I couldn't. So fucking trust me, I thought long and hard about it and you were worth more to me than a god damn apartment. Even if I'm not worth more to you." She violently tugs on her boots with those words before shrugging a bag over her shoulder.


She knows things. That is what Barney's told people before. That she's not stupid, not ignorant. The woman knows things. Life and death are her 'things'. He'd defended her to Strange, even, in the hospital, where he'd brought her for that wrist.

She'd meant more to him than his own safety.

"I thought that's what you do when you can't save 'em, Hilde. You do.." and Barney waves a hand in general gesture in the air. "… something." He's not mocking. He just really doesn't know what it is she actually does. It's beyond him.

"Great. But in the end, it's the same. I have to find a goddamned apartment, house, room.. fucking, I don't know. Maybe go back to that cold-ass building where I spent that night. But get it.. I might not have died this time, but now it's winter. They fucking know I'm alive and around, so that means that they'll be doin' the same thing I am. Looking for forgotten homes." So, the upshot? He's out on the street.

Barney turns around; there's no reason to light the fireplace. He needs to get his stuff together in order to leave. The pair are departing, but for different reasons, but yet the same, ultimately.

"And I have shit to do in the city still."


"..it…It is what I do. I just couldn't do it… for you." Hilde whispers, face covered in silent tear stains. She's not a sobbing woman, at least not in front of him. Her tears are the silent death of a thousand cuts. She stares up at him, eyes a strange blue-silver for just a moment. So hard they are brittle. "…I couldn't let you die." And there is something more behind her voice as she says that. It's tearful, but not rasping. An admission that she broke something *sacred* for him, even if she doesn't understand what. She may have betrayed him, but she betrayed herself as well.

Not that he cares.

"…" Her lips part, looking for something else to say. Good bye. Have a nice life. I love you. So many sentiments hang in the air as she just stares him down, but none actually make it to breath. Instead, duffle over her shoulder and medical back in her hand, she just turns away to go. She pushes the door open and steps out into the hallway, leaving behind little else than dead candles, a bloody nightgown, and memories of that now dead-fireplace.


Barney packs his crossbow away, back into its case, the bolts removed from their 'quiver' that is attached. Each one is pulled, yanked from its clip and set into the case beside the weapon, the violence in which he does that her 'response' from him, which is to say, wordless. Soon enough, he's looking over the place and his gaze lights upon the burnt out candles, the blood soaked bits of clothing, cloth.. and exhales in a sigh.

Lifting his attention again, Barney catches the last step out of the apartment by Hilde. He should go and tell her he was being stupid, that she takes good care of him like no one else ever has in his life… all truths. All unspoken as once again he finds himself alone. This time, however, it's his fault.

Instead of doing the smart thing, Barney finishes up packing his suits in order to put them in a safe place, and he's out the door, no more than five minutes behind her.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License