1963-11-17 - Trip the Light Fantastic
Summary: Too bad for Doctor Strange, he has to attend a work function. To liven things up, he takes the Witch as his date. She has to wear a dress. *Shock!*
Related: The Miserable, Wretched Truth
Theme Song: Johann Strauss - Blue Danube
strange wanda 

Parcel delivered, set on the side of the bed - her side of the bed, where it can't be missed. It's the result of yesterday's odd display of a catalogue, a pen, and a little note that read: "Circle the one you like the most. - SS"

There's the sounds of rustling in the bathroom of the master bedroom. The bedroom has the heaviness of a recently-finished shower to it, along with the light scent of his cologne - cedarwood and deep spices, clove and nutmeg, the frizz of ginger and oakmoss, to further accent those woody scents, musk in the sense of silvery-grey. On his side of the bed is laid an immaculate suit, clearly cut precisely to the lines of his frame, white bowtie, not black. Dress shoes, tucked close to the bed, shine with polish.

Clearly, the Sorcerer Supreme has something up his dress sleeve.


No complaint to be found here, that he chooses such a fine ensemble.

Kimono dress? Charming but unhelpful for dancing. Schiaparelli-inspired mermaid? A definite dog-ear but inappropriate. High-necked swing dress, charming but again not helpful. All these poofy ball gowns and slinky cocktail outfits are a foreign language she cannot understand. It upsets her.

Who wears a suspicious droopy bag with one sleeve as a dress to an event? Are they running away from a clawed ogre?

Easy to be the gentleman, the choices are so much fewer. Hers, on the other hand, is another issue altogether. Black gloves run to the elbow, and her strapless gown at least has some familiarity. Corsets are not so difficult. The shimmery skirt looks not to have much volume… if she stands still. Currently she is turning around and around, the sheer obsidian skirts rising. At first glance, the silhouette is rather slim indeed. But the volume is an illusion on a turn, organza and other fabrics put to use. It might give the gorgeous scarlet bulls-eye scarf worn overtop an unnatural sheerness, the way it melts in a shimmer of garnet threads.

The scarf that would normally go around her shoulders is tossed on the bed. The time he spends showering, she spends tearing into a box and staring at the shimmery frock that melts like moonlight through her hands, the product of either Mr. Givenchy or one of his protégés. She has a few moments to stare at a thing worth more than she probably is.

Wanda might give another harder look at the shoes. So thin and not-runnable-in. At least they have a lower heel than 'kill me by falling down the stairs.'

A huff and a sigh, she lands on the bed. It's exactly like Breakfast at Tiffany's or My Fair Lady, except the Cockney accent is horrid and hers is not.



The shoes were a shot in the dark, give him some credit. He did think about whether or not she would fall down the stairs wearing them, though. Half-credit?

The man in question emerges from the bathroom in a gust of escaping steam and pauses on his side of the bed. Arms fold within the confines of his red bathrobe and then, he laughs.

"I tried giving your exact measurements, but clearly, I missed. I apologize, Rakshasi. Allow me to help with the zipper." His hair is perfectly coifed, though those damnably-untamed fringes of his bangs do escape (only a handful of strands, but enough to make him sigh internally - worse than a cowlick, these things). Goatee, perfectly trimmed to exacting lines, face and neck freshly shaved and exuding that warm scent of his cologne. "And don't worry if it's a little loose or tight. No one will be focused on such details, not where we're going. If they do? Tsk." And he pauses on her side of the bed, head tilted to one side fondly as he smirks one-sidedly down at her. "They have far more important things to worry about."


Exact measurements are not explicitly hard to get from a person whose clothes do not understand words like 'space,' 'baggy' or 'blousy.' On the contrary, there is something for hiding a zipper at the back where arms do not like to reach.

"They think I have a «maid»?" The Tibetan is necessary; English doesn't supply her what she needs. They will have language lessons in German any day now. "Yes, they should not look. Worry about their feet. Not me. I will not be focused there either, Trishul." Her thumb trails down her hip and feels at the light fluff of the skirt, dreamspun and dredged from the sea of the dark. A colour might have been desirable, here, but the abundance of peculiar yellows and bright sea foam greens and blues did her in to choose something less likely to show various stains. Wine, blood, the like.

Wanda looks like a flower knocked over in the wind, though she hitches her arms up to avoid being too entrapped. The silk scarf is dragged into a twisted coil, and she knots it around her upper arm, some kind of armband for a cause. Albeit a red one, and a very happy 60s design at that. "Is this the right one? All the dresses are so skinny or they are sacks." But not gunnysacks. "I cannot see how they dance in them."

Pragmatism meets a sigh, and she peers up at the good Doctor, then rolls abruptly onto her stomach for the zipper. The skirt makes a delicious crushed noise. Perfect. Legs kick. Fine, she's fourteen. So airy, gauzy, and perfect! …for a knife to hide under it.


"I can't explain it to you either, Rakshasi. However, I won't let you fall over. I promise."

He's such a charming cad, with how he brushes fingertips down her visible spine - simply to see her reaction - before carefully drawing the zipper up. Fabric comes together with a burring shush and then, she's all wrapped up, as pretty as a parcel. "There we are," he murmurs. To whom? "Lovely." From this angle, of course. The fit of the dress is incredibly flattering to her curves.

Removing himself from her immediate presence (it's a compliment to her, truly), he goes about beginning to put on his own evening wear. Robe tossed nonchalantly on the bed and then dress pants. Dress shirt, but the buttons - they take forever. Strange finally finishes hooking the last one in before his attention must now zero in on the damn cuffs. Not as loose as his normal shirts, stiff with a bit of starch. This…will be a pain.


The loveliness of an image as theirs begins with all the hard work behind the scenes. No one in front of a camera ever considers the hours of painstaking tailoring, tucking, pinning, and knotting or zipping required. Nor is there any heed paid for the endless going back and forth between this tie or that one, the pocket square or the bowtie? She can appreciate these difficulties only by witnessing them firsthand while Strange tries to make the most of them, in large part because it's like watching an autopsy in reverse.

Wanda has to figure out the best way to get up, which means slithering backwards until her feet touch the floor and she can rise with minimal crumpling of the skirt. "Sometimes we saw them dancing in Berlin. At the New Year. Ladies in their dresses had help to get through the door." This notion deserves an impish wrinkle of her nose, but she at most gives the audible equivalent. Her twined scarf is unleashed at a prime moment, then.

While he's distracted worrying about those crisp pants and dreading the march of the penguins — err, buttons, the silk scarf snaps harmlessly against his side. She drops it on the bed, shaking her head. "Maybe it isn't needed." The gloves are easy to manage, but the business of her shoes requires more work. But there's a distraction, and she beelines back. "Are those where you stab the cloth with your…" They have a name. She cannot remember in English, and Tibetan isn't very helpful either. "Sleeve rings?" A hopeful note. Maybe someone should've laced the corset tighter for the appropriately airy debutante voice.

"I'll have to wear my charms somehow, but I can give you one for your sleeve." Earrings in place of cufflinks? Worse?


Enjoy the face he's making. That one, right there - where his tongue is held between teeth and even showing slightly as he focuses intently on hooking that cuff button into place. Whew. Success. Now to the other one. The gentle snap of her scarf grants Wanda a brief side-glance, squinty but still lightly amused, before Strange returns to fiddling with the button.

"Yes, cufflinks would go here. I'm not sure where they went, however." He gives the side table near him a glare. 'They were sitting there earlier, but I suspect the wards haven't caught all of the loose spirits yet. I'll probably find them years from now in some odd place around here. Like in the silverware drawer or tucked behind a dusty tome in the basement." The Sorcerer sighs in quiet frustration, but then glances over to her at her her suggestion. It's…not half bad, in light of the other options available to him. "If you have a spare charm, I'd be happy to wear it. However, I probably won't need the protection."

She offers charms and he smiles at her confidently. "I can summon the Eye to my person from any dimension, so I'm not incredibly concerned about the protection of my person. I do acknowledge that I'm not invincible, however, so…if you are concerned, Rakshasi, I will wear one of your charms."

Once they've solved the problem of missing cufflinks, it'll be on to the bowtie and suit jacket.


A bright look shines in the cores of Wanda's eyes, a raspberry stain suspended deep in a wheat pilsner. Her mouth lifts up at the corners for the faintest brushstrokes of a smile. Effort may be required to decipher its finer points and whether a smirk was the original intent.

Be assured the details are stamped on her mind until Yaga comes to steal them away for the good of every elder power ever.

"Cuff links? What the police use to lock your arms together." Her eyebrows descend in a vee, eyes narrowed at the prospect of confinement. "The spirits want your cufflink to bind?" Of course these conclusions are easy to draw because English idiom makes no sense.

Strange is swished last, and he better get used to it. It's the only way that dress allows her to move, a ripple of chrome on black water trailing all the way behind her where the iridescent layers show their little secret a beaded hem that weights the flyaway gossamer, shining droplets of hand-sewn crystal.

Fetching her claret coat, she peeks into the pockets and just how many are there? A whole cabinet worth. A bit of fussing and she gathers something different, a pair of coins. They aren't large, but they are stamped with a profile of two different figures. One is decidedly more feminine. Their posts are fairly long and capped with a T shaped tube, making them fairly long and versatile enough between a pin, a narrow brooch or even earrings with that chrome like backing. Cufflinks, then.

"Here," she says. "Be careful using him. He saves you from harm only once. Price paid to Hades, da?"


Strange looks from the antique cufflinks in her offered palm to her face. "I'm sorry, but…Hades? As in, the god of the underworld."

Why is he even asking, she doesn't go around yanking his chain and making statements involving the deities by name in a joking manner.

Regardless of her answer, the gold coin cufflinks are accepted carefully and slipped into place with even more care. He rotates his wrists to look at them and tilts his head from side to side once or twice before nodding. "That'll do."

The bowtie is a delightful ease compared to those cuff buttons. In and out, overtop, through and then a quick tug to align both sides to equality. His jacket, finely-made and sumptuous to the touch in its raven-like sheen, slips over his shoulders with ease and completes his immediate ensemble. All that are left are the little touches and he'll add those as they come to mind. But for now, after tugging slightly at the lapels and fiddling with the collar a bit more, he turns and strikes a little pose, arms out held to his sides and a twinkling grin on his face.

"Well? Your opinion matters most."


Probably not. Hers is a path winding through the Balkans, begun in territory that admired the Greeks and then overcame them, bred with them, and conquered Egypt. Osiris is Hades is Pluto. Give half a dozen names to the Underworld gods, they might well all reflect the same.

"The place, yes. I have honoured Hekate many times. She is much diminished in this age." The golden coins hold their dual reliefs, king and queen, god and goddess, shining in their wide-eyed, laurel-crowned profiles at one another. There is at least a symmetry and balance of their pairing, facing inwards as if they cannot bear to be parted by a shoulder width. "But she has power yet, and she answers to the blessed realm under the earth. It is not a challenge to your Vishanti. The charms a gift of me, one I give freely tonight."

That being said, she has absolutely no qualms about staring at Strange while he weaves his bowtie. The witch probably hasn't ever watched such before at close range. She stares with open curiosity, and then reaches out to fix the point of his collar with a tweak of her fingers. It might seem contrary but it really does stand still. "Mm." A thoughtful look crosses Wanda's face.

"I suppose you'll do. I like your leathers better," she announces flatly, raising her bare shoulder.

But that trail of rose petal pink down where a necklace should be doesn't lie.


"And I accept them freely," Strange replies, with utter gravity in tone and intent. All the better to aid in the charm's strength.

He doesn't move while she fiddles with his collar, though it was just fine where it was. Cheek. "In light of our recent conversation involving my apprentice, the blush about your neck is a clear indicator that you like the battle-leathers only slightly better," he murmurs, giving her that singular one-sided smirk of his. His steel-blue eyes twinkle shamelessly. Who can fault him? It's a high compliment, especially coming from the woman standing before him.

Even as he takes one of her hands with gentlemanly grace, and plants an equally-charming kiss to her knuckles, his eyes rove and tell her other things entirely. "You have…spectacularly good taste in clothing, Rakshasi. I hope you know that." Purr? Not quite, though headed down in that direction. "But we must go. Are you all set? Our ride awaits."

For the wards have just whisked by to tell him of the chauffeur who knocked ever so politely at the doors of the Sanctum and then retreated back down onto the sidewalk. The limousine sits at the curb's edge, engine idly smoothly.


"I am wearing a sack I can almost see my legs through, no proper weapon, and my coat is over there." A gesture made to said garment she rifled through in search of the missing French crown jewels carries a light curl of the sorceress's hand, and then once more she steps back to her appropriate place. Which is in front of him, all said and done, fluffing out the skirts to give at least a hint of a widened silhouette. It is, however, hopeless without being in motion. Their fullness will only come by dynamic flows of energy, rather than stasis. That's rather the point.

Strange smirks and the world slows down an iota. She lifts her chin, immune.

Until that bloody dimple shows up and then she will have to stare archly down her splendid nose. "Thank you." When it comes to compliments, she's since learned to accept his recommendations. Dark eyes glitter as they soak in the shadows, and through that, attain a shade deeper to copper than cold. It will be something of a surprise a limousine is waiting.

Especially as she carries that beloved coat, it's just not expected, and her pace in those fancy shoes falters. No falling over.


Sack? Oh, she of little faith. If only she knew precisely what he went through to procure that dress. Oh well, not worth explaining. She looks positively radiant, like the glitter of sunlight off of amber and obsidian.

He is able to stop her from faceplanting at the sight of the limousine by simply having an arm for her to hold. No overt saves, not for her. She has impeccable balance, even in the heels, and more grace than she gives herself credit for as Strange helps her into the backseat of the long towncar.

And then, they're off. He settles in beside her, slouching slightly on the leather seat and tugging at his bowtie, before he glances over at her. Lit in patterns of passing streetlights, she's just…glorious.

"I hope you're not nervous," he murmurs, intertwining his fingers with hers. The black gloves are the nicest touch and seem to give her the aspect of being streamlined in shadows. "It's merely a dinner party. I was invited by an old friend, Dr. Killinger, from Presbyterian Hospital. He's accepting an award and wanted to make sure that I saw it." A quiet laugh and he shakes his head. "We were quite competitive within our respective fields. I believe he's taken my place as head neurosurgeon there."


Oh she of great faith. Press the right buttons and the man's pride becomes his armour and a suitably scintillating force to wrap her up inside. It might simply beg for further actions, higher peaks.

Strange wins points for offering his arm. Dress up the witch, is she still anything other than a wildling with combed hair? Is it a mystic transformation of the base components into something sublime, alchemy via cosmetics and a good bath? Partly. Though a fair bit of it comes to slipping into the giant saloon car, and basking under the approving, if calculating, gaze cut from cobalt and the finest steel. He tells her all she needs to know in that look.

He gleams like fresh cut obsidian, traced by a vein of silver, and the patriarchal features beloved of ancient sculptors gain a profound balance. Take a few broad strokes of charcoal, smudge, and the razor definition of his cheekbones and brow easily take form on the mind's canvas. Here and there, adjustments for articulated features on a more expressive face than might be expected for a man of his gravitas.

Her hand meets his, and she stops circumspectly staring at his reflection on the glass. "A dinner party?" Dinner means food. Beyond that… "I'm not a total savage. My brother and I hunted at them often. In Berlin, Isfahan, a few Indian cities."

She's never far from the roots. Perhaps she is. "Are there things not polite to talk about? I know some."


The quiet chuckle is offered in mild affront. “I never said you were a savage, don’t put words in my mouth.” Gentle recrimination, softened further still by a reassuring squeeze of her hand within his. He has the sense that he has brought her out of her comfort zone, somewhat, and watches her carefully now. “The generally-accepted rule is the big three: sex, politics, religion. I highly doubt anyone at this dinner party will bring up anything of the sort and I’m more than happy to curtail those discussions. It isn’t the correct venue.” The fleeting flash of lamplight briefly halos his face as he shakes his head sharply, lips pressed flat.

The limousine takes a corner, smoothly and controlled, and the good Doctor glances out the window. “We’re close.” A shift of steel-blue eyes back to her. “It should make sense that we shouldn’t go around discussing the Arts or the supernatural creatures that exist. After all, these are mortals. It’s hard enough for them to understand portions of the New York Times, much less the real reason people kept disappearing in Hell’s Kitchen.” His smile, outward amusement at the thought of Killinger listening to an explanation in regards the Mirror Dimension, fades at the inevitable gravity of the matter. Yes – mortals cannot know of their powers. Too much. Too much for the standard person on the street, much less an MD/PhD himself. It’s not an overnight process, reorganizing one’s brain to accept magic. “Regardless. If you get uncomfortable, let me know. It wasn’t my goal to make this a trial. It’s supposed to be a dinner date.”

Flash – there’s that grin of his. Then, the limousine is slowing down and comes to a halt. A quick inhale and exhale from the good Doctor and then he sits up in his seat. “Ready?”


Correct venue. This is the world they are headed towards in a steel chariot led by one hundred and more American horses. The very word makes Wanda flinch. She gives pause to piecing together the underlying meaning, and to ready herself for another kind of battlefield, a social one.

The artful adoption of a correct face and the proper manners takes more time than the essential diction. She simply runs quietly through a series of vowel sounds, enunciating them one by one in German. Then Tibetan. Back to German for the consonants, taking away the lilting, softer Slav-imbued influences of her more commonly used languages.

Then she reaches to pull up her glove over her forearm from where the opera-length construct slouched down. "I won't smoke," she warns. His steely gaze meets smoldering copper-gold, and the mention of the mortals not knowing is practically cause for her to roll her eyes. Not quite there. Strange has her mildly tamed on that front, but not by much.

"Of course we say nothing about them. Aliens in papers are bad enough." Her bare shoulders lift and fall, strobing shadows on the diagonal. "They would ignore me anyways. I am not from this country."

Truthful statements those may be, they hold a particular zest of sarcasm if one knows what to look. The bite of lemon under sweet tart filling, for example. But that being said, she holds out her hand to him when they get there. Fussing with the seatbelt will be awkward, but so everything is in a gown that practically deserves its own stellar ZIP code. SIP code?


A wrinkle of disgust around his nose appears along with the grin. "I wouldn't ask you to smoke. No one seems to understand what it does to your lungs." They won't, not for a good time yet. The tobacco companies keep that tidbit under their hats for many years to come.

"I doubt they'll be able to ignore you, Rakshasi," Strange says softly, even as he draws her from the limousine with the firm and guiding hand of a gentleman and into the cool night air. "If they do, they're dead." They've arrived at the Hotel Astor, just off of Times Square proper, with all of its flashing signs and groves of people, locals and tourists alike. The chauffeur is tipped handsomely by money that came from…somewhere on the Sorcerer's person. He gives her opera-gloved hand on his arm an encouraging squeeze even as they approach the entrance. Security guards, clothed as hotel staff, ensure that no one without proper dress enters the hotel at the moment.

One man moves a half-step, as if to intercept them at the door and perhaps demand a written invitation, but the good Doctor squints and clicks his tongue even as he draws to a stop alongside the wide-shouldered guard.

"Peterson, you should know better." The burly man returns the narrow look before breaking into a broad grin that seems at odds with his craggy features and button nose.

"Doctah Strange, I'll be — hanged," he amends, eyeing Wanda on the Doctor's arm and granting her a polite nod. "Didn't recognize yah at first with that facial hair. Killinger will be glad to see yah. He's been waitin' to lord this'n ovah you for a while now."

"I'm sure he has. Took him long enough, didn't it?" They share a laugh and then Peterson opens the door to the lobby for them.

"Speech for him, eh?"

"Me? Never. Not without a lot of champagne first," Strange calls back over his shoulder. The guard laughs again before allowing the door to close once again. "Peterson is the head of security that the hospital hires. We used to cross paths all the time," the Doctor murmurs to her even as he draws them off to one side of the plush lobby. Already, they're drawing stares and he wants to be sure she's ready. "They'll ask you questions, Wanda. Do you have any first?" he asks quietly, even as his eyes go distant over her shoulder. Clearly, they're already being advanced upon by someone familiar with the Doctor.


The agreement on tobacco is something they can be grateful for. Smudging sage may be one thing, but ingesting toxic chemicals directly into her lungs will not go over well for a girl whose system already rejects meat for the most part.

The claret coat she habitually wears does not, in any sense, match the fanciful confection of a dress that slips off her in a phantasmagoria of chromed nightfall. Moonlight shot through the weft reveals itself only in eclipsed turns, veiled by the length of the gauzy skirt. She ought to shuck it for the best impact, in truth, though Wanda doesn't even think of it. Instead her gloved hand rests lightly upon Strange's forearm and casts far too much heat for a mere young woman, proof of her metabolism devouring energy at an accelerated rate.

Look at the grocery bill for proof of just how hard she's working to regain the lost kilogram restoring her brother took from her.

They drift through a world alien to her, at least in a social context. She knows how to move among them and stab or isolate while Pietro delivered a killing blow at speed. She can incapacitate in the hallway, the kitchen, the ballroom. But stay and dance? That's a whole other ballgame, and these are not Stasi officers or escapees from a regime that burned on the fields outside Berlin. Silent and polite, she nods to the fellow who descends upon them with that atrocious accent, something too thick for her to cut through easily.

Doctor Strange, go right ahead and field that one. Her head tilts and the pile of shadowy curls throws back fire, dark as night around that fey face. "Only names. Names said right are important. Tell me who I should know, I will do the rest."


"That I can oblige you," he replies even as he takes two measured steps to place himself at a diagonal between her and the blustering man.

"Shtrange!" The good Doctor is enveloped in a hug, even if he did hold up both hands as if attempting a silent plea to stop the intent, and reluctantly returns the hefty manly slaps between his shoulder blades with swats of his own. He coughs once or twice, attempting to smile in the middle of regaining the air in his lungs as the white-mustached man says most jovially, holding him by the lapels at arm's length, "Ve haf not sheen you for shome time now! Vere haf you been?!" It's an accent out of Eastern Europe and Strange has to repeat the sentence within his mind in order to dissect it.

"You'd be surprised, Baron Eglenstein. A few years in Tibet did me some good. I needed to get away from the medical profession."

"But, I heard uf your hands. You are vell? They had shome short of…vitchcraft dere zat ve do not here in zee United Shates?"

"Witchcraft!" And the good Doctor laughs as if it's the most amusing thing he's heard in said years. "No, just some excellent healers and an old teacher who had some spare time for me."

"Ah, very goot." The Baron gives Strange another solid swat on the arm before his eyes shift to his guest. "Und who do vee have here?"

With all the poise and grace of a practiced socialite, Strange retreats to stand beside Wanda and takes her hand once more, holding it aloft as he replies, "Baron Timateus Eglenstein, please meet Wanda Maximoff, my…consort."

Consort.Consors, of Latin origin. 'Together through destiny', becoming 'sharing' or 'partnership'. Pertaining especially to royalty. Mind you, Baron - the Sorcerer does not share and no matter how hard he attempts to charm the beautiful young woman wearing the latest star-dark froths of night-celestial fashion, he will fail.

Strange's eyes run once more over his date and then back to the Baron. Cue one-sided smirk. Down, ego. Down!


This bumbling baron, unlike another baron, seems to have little problem about squashing a very tall man indeed. The mustachioed bandit will have to worry about Wanda, who by dint of limbly entanglement, is pulled right along with Strange and extricates herself only at the last moment from being the weird filling in a sandwich no one is quite sure they want. Is that liverwurst or some other fabulous mousse paste made from a duck, a tangerine, and the dreams of the fourth empyreal circle?

The accent from Eastern Europe at least is entirely familiar. In German, she notes as an aside, "The joys of painting did him well."

Title does not exactly stand the baron higher in the world than anyone else. Call it a fallout of being on the run, dispossessed by everything and everyone in existence. She does, however, venture to offer Strange's peculiar Kaiser friend a nod. Please don't let him look like Kaiser Wilhelm II. Atavistic memories might be concerning.

No bending at the knee, no bobbing curtsey. She has a lift of her chin in a jaunty little nod, the gown twinkling. A complete lack of jewels afflicts her, except for those garnet barrettes. How can one feel naked presented so?

The momentary unease rising in her veins has few outward signs. Pupils constricted, perhaps. A momentary pause before answering, the posture straightening up to her full height.

"Good evening, baron." Her English is passable. She can make a better show in German like there's no tomorrow, and let him think the Doctor's snagged another girl off the incipient Hippie Trail.


"Ah, shall ve call her your duchess zen? Your Herzogin? Or perhaps Prinzessin? Nein, ihre kleine gehtete!" The Baron exclaims, reverting to German entirely. 'Little treasured one', he has proclaimed of Wanda - rather loudly - and the stares either sharpen or faces turn away to gossip.

From the Doctor, a slow, resigned sigh. This is apparently not the first time that the Baron has heralded Strange's presence at events, with or without a gloved hand on the Doctor's arm, and always with the sound and delighted fury of new discovery.

The Baron takes the delicate hand uplifted into his pudgy fingers and presses a white-whiskery kiss to the black opera glove. "You are most radiant zis evening, Hergozin Maximoff. Perhaps I vill steal you avay for a dance vhen your Doctor is not paying attention." Of course, the Baron says this with a cheeky grin.

"And maybe you will finally stop drinking Schnapps, Baron," Strange replies after a chuckle and decidedly-toothy grin. "I couldn't ignore her if I tried."

Saved by the bell - literally. The head waiter strikes at a crystalline bell to draw the group towards the main ballroom proper. With a final bow and teasing wink towards Wanda, the Baron departs and leads his little gaggle towards the room. A little spate of soft chuckling escapes the good Doctor before he glances over at his guest with a slight wince.

"And that's the start of it. I apologize in advance." He notes the red leather of her coat and offers his forearm out. "May I take your coat, my lady, before we go to dinner?"


The little treasured one is over five feet tall, she'll have you know, and in heels she approaches a respectable height, even above average. Never will she be so tall as the blithe brother who got the better genetics in some respects, but Wanda does straighten a little further when the booming baritone sweeps an announcement as good as any herald.

"«We are missing trumpets,»" she murmurs under her breath, Tibetan this time, all too aware that Strange does not share this particular vein of communication.

Presumably she is translating on his behalf. Her hand remains lightly curled around his forearm, arm tucked in place where they will revel and adore one another with the disgusting ambivalence for humanity all around them. Isn't that how the world is supposed to go. "Too kind," she says in their common vein. "The night is passing fast." A quiet reminder for all involved, or perhaps one of those nice social fallacies is put into play with all the grace an outsider to the New World rules can muster.

Ding! It does, notably, make the consort to yon Sorcerer Supreme jump. Not a Pavlovian response; her lips thin slightly and she wordlessly apologizes through her lashes. What on earth about a bell would terrorize a twenty-something?

Sniper fire is just the beginning.

"No saying sorry. I am able to do this. These are your…" What are they? "Working associates. You will be honoured. They will remember this night." Squaring up her shoulders, she gives him leave to slip the coat away. "Please."


The scarlet leather coat is retrieved most respectfully from her figure and immediately handed off to the seemingly-magical appearance of another waiter - the murmur of ownership given as "Strange and party" - to which a nod is given and the penguin-like man vanishes off to the coat room.

"Dinner isn't terrible," he murmurs as, glove on sleeve, they join the tail end of the group filtering into the Hotel Astor ballroom. Even the good Doctor, having attended a function here a few years back, can't help the fond sigh as he scans the broad expanse of space before and above them as they enter it. "Always impressive, the sheer size of the place. It's amazing how it's still not big enough to contain the heads of its guests at times." He winks at her, knowing full well that it could be taken as a somewhat self-recriminating statement. One of the head waiters comes to Strange's un-attended side and murmurs to him, pointing off towards a certain table to the right, quite near to the stage. The good Doctor's eyes slide and narrow in that direction before another smile curves his lips. It shows a flash of teeth, a hint of social malice, as he nods and murmurs back to the man.

"Apparently, we're expected by Dr. Killinger at his table," he says to Wanda as he leads her across the ballroom's blood-red carpet. Each dining room table is clothed in snow white, set with pristine china and silverware, dotted with crystalline flutes and wine glasses alike, graced with bouquets in lively autumnal colors with flowers from other regions of the world entirely, and needlessly lit by single candles in silver mounts. The overhead lights are more than enough to see into far corners and up into the seating that extends in half-rounds from the walls.

The table is set for six and four seats already occupied. The man of the night, accepting honor amongst peers, rises to meet them even as they make their way between occupied chairs.

Dr. Killinger is nearly of equal age to Strange, though more salt-and-peppered throughout his combed hair rather than the clearly-delineated silvering about the good Doctor's temples. The man, wearing spectacles, immediately offers a hand to his past comrade, giving him a smile that only somewhat reaches his eyes.

"And here I didn't expect you to join us, Stephen. I heard you were off in Tibet chasing miracles in the slums. Find anything of interest?" His eyes, a rather flat hazel, flick and linger on Wanda before dismissing her wordlessly.

Strange returns the handshake with the smallest wince around his narrow steel-blue eyes (Killinger didn't need to shake his hand that hard!) and gives Killinger a cool smile. "I would explain my discoveries, but you don't believe in miracles last I checked, Richard. Although you finally succeeded in assuming my place. I suppose that's miracle enough?" Offered lightly and with all the teasing venom the good Doctor can inject into his demeanor which grows slyer by the minute. "Oh, my consort, Wanda Maximoff. Wanda, this is Dr. Richard Killinger. We worked in the same department at Presbyterian for many years."

"Enchante," Dr. Killinger replies with another raking look. His eyes return to Strange and then he smiles. "Please, join us at the table."


Away, o coat of unwanted shades and colours! Begone, ye unnecessary garment that will no doubt cause a great deal of consternation to a waiter unprepared for its many pockets. At least they know naught of the knife.

That glorious architecture of the ballroom does not fail to impress, though its overawed enchantments may require a few quiet moments to truly sink in. Open space weighs upon them in the manner of cathedrals, where arches and vaults create an illusory expanse of eternity within narrow walls. Such tricks exposed to the architects here are not so long departed from the Gothic buttresses of Europe's holy sites. "We fit." An obvious statement but then, deadpan commentary is very much her art. Strange's lead on that front will be followed. She studies him in among a school of piranha and social-climbers of the worst sort, those endowed with letters after their names and terrible amounts of knowledge about the ailments and endowments given to every last one of their pricy clients. Anomalies, and predators one and all, hostile and territorial about their claims. Pride is a strange beast among such kings of their respected fields, but she pays no heed to any of them, except the man she entered with.

Pity, Baron, that's the man she's leaving with. Future fates hang upon it.

Killinger hardly registers as a business of consequence. When he looks upon Strange as though he can look through him and see behind the human façade, the consequence is utterly calm and blameless from the sylph in her dark dress. Forfeit hostility, respond with the utmost grace. "Mr. Killinger." Her hand is offered.

Burn bright, blood dappling her dark hair and eyes the tawny, unreadable golden brown of a tiger, she is a touch fey. She no doubt embodies everything that men in the west dreaded of their eastern counterparts, those children of the crossroads between invasion and conquest, faith and paganism, civilization and barbarity. A smile is allowed. "Thank you. Such shoes to fill, that must take so much effort. This must be a very special occasion to get away."

Point. Set. Spike to the jugular.


The black gloved hand is looked upon as possibly dangerous for a brief moment before Killinger takes it and plants a stilted kiss to the back of it. Trapped by niceties, well played. Perhaps she felt the quickest tensing of his grip about her fingers at her blasé comment. He then laughs hollowly.

"She's precious, Stephen, what a find."

With that, Killinger turns away and returns to his chair. Strange releases a slow sigh and gives Wanda the most sliding of glances. "Easy now, he's nervous," he whispers, even as he leads her over to one of the two free chairs. He chooses to sit beside Killinger - all the better to fend off any social rushes, at least from that side - which leaves her to be seated beside another woman. She's a bit older than Wanda, not by much, and rather…effervescent.

"Oh, you must be Dr. Strange's date! Hi, I'm Wendy. Our names sound so alike, don't they?" A white-gloved hand is offered in a facsimile of the greeting, more limp-wristed and slack-fingered.


She's not a find at all. An excavation of a terrible sort, an unwelcome revelation maybe. However, there is still an arch formality in her frozen bearing as far removed from the Earth as the stars, faintly twinkling, at the edges of the human spectrum. Her fingers brace against Killinger's, warm despite the black satin sheath veiling every digit, and the firmness there suggests no limp-wristed arm trophy. She is merely as she seems, a young lady of questionable ethnic extraction matching wit inside the bounds of propriety.

"The speech will be worth waiting for," she adds as a blithe response. She is precious. He is, evidently, dismissed to his own thoughts. Yet there suggests a truth she, like everyone else, will be listening. German and now daggers, the slips of motion carry doctor and witch together towards the table. Interruption will come by way of a parallel, and she accepts another hand, gives another smile, this one tempered by the sure certainty of herself. "His consort," she replies, an easily overlooked correction. The tip of her head to the side allows a questioning mask to descend. "Miss Wendy. Yes, they do. As long as they remember to bring the right drinks to the right girl." Palms touch and skate away. At least they aren't asked to kiss one another's cheeks. "Are you Doctor Killinger's… date?" Please don't be Wendy Killinger, his daughter, the Ivanka to his Drumpf.

She fluffs her skirts out as she sits, and the ridiculous gossamer quality of them takes up a whole waterfall to the ground by itself. Beads glimmer. A noteworthy look back to Strange follows, and she says, "Swede at fourth table on the wall. He keeps looking your way. Jealous of your suit, I think."


"Not your usual type," comes the murmur to the good Doctors ear, too low for all to catch but himself. Strange holds up a scarred hand to the tilted bottle of wine (the pour is averted) and asks for soda water - the waiter nods and scurries off. Another point of interest to pounce upon. "And soda water? Where's the rip-roaring Stephen Strange that I knew so well? Don't tell me you've gone soft on us."

"While in Tibet, I was reminded that a strong body houses a strong soul. I elevated my mind rather than linger in the past." Hess grateful for the soda water that appears at his elbow and thanks the waiter quietly. "No more smoking or drinking. Just soda water, tea, and fresh air. I haven't felt this good in years." He grants his old work associate a mild smile, almost insolently imparting forgiveness for the jibe tossed his way earlier. Killinger responds with a snort and disappears into his wine glass even as he scans the room beyond their table.

The young Wendy giggles, a bubbly sort of sound, and shakes her head. "Oh no, not me! Killinger's wife had to work, she's a nurse in the pediatric ward. Though, between you and me," and the young woman's voice drops to a near-whisper as she leans in close, "they aren't a happy couple. I'm pretty sure he has having an affair. She might be having one too. It's scandalous!" The waiter appears to ask on drink requests and Wendy pulls away to dab a fingertip lightly against rouged lips. "Hmm. I'll have a — Sex on the Beach," she titters, looking between waiter and Wanda as if savoring any overt reactions. "You should try one of those, Wanda. They're so very good." The waiter takes Wanda's drink request and disappears with silent functionality. Wendy, on the other hand, seems rather put-out at Wanda's brief comment to the good Doctor and waits impatiently for the fascinatingly-foreign woman's attention to return to her. The light tappity-tap of heels on floor is heard from beneath the white tablecloth.


Swede at the fourth table, what, suit, where? Strange follows his consorts dark-amber gaze to said table and locates the man. There's the odd shock of meeting gazes, of being caught in the act of staring, and the blonde man averts his attention just as quickly back to his own table. The silver-templed man looks over at Wanda with a mildly-amused expression and shrug.

"I have no idea who he is. I'm not sure why he'd be jealous of my suit. I'm not the only one wearing the style this evening." Cue cluelessness in the face of lack of exposure.


Just now green tea is beginning to filter through the community, mostly in California, away from the Chinatowns and Japanese grocers. They no doubt shift tastes and begin the long, long march towards healthy living and fad diets. Asking for tea is practically impossible outside certain corners of English correctness. Imagine the two of them in a bar, the teetotallers and designated teleporters. Wanda is acutely aware of the waiter's presence and, doubly, that odd convention she cannot request anything for herself. Therefore she does not give a request to said lovely server, resting her hands lightly in her lap. More than possibly, this does not bother her. Is it wise to eat and drink the feast of the otherworld?

The bubbly giggle and the soda water probably have an equal number of brain cells demonstrated in their fundamental existence. But surely she exists here somehow, and the witch asks, "What is your job at the hospital?" Three guesses on 'I don't work there, Daddy just sent me here to get some philanthropy exposure. Strange receives a light touch of her fingers against his arm, nothing awkward or profound, a mere reminder of proximity. "Did you work with her?"

They're distracted! Meanwhile, that one Doctor Nilsson gives the most focused of looks at the table and doesn't even turn his white-blond head away again, the wretch! He has at least three pots of coffee to his name on order, like all good doctors and Swedes, and likely already fantasizes about cigarettes and shiny black jackets. How dare he be denied the joy of a good coat? The scrutiny must be terrible.

"Maybe he remembers you from somewhere." A guess, on her part, and not a terribly bad one at that. Wanda skims a look around the other participants in search of anyone out of the ordinary, already tapped into the Sight. It might be easier to ask when she is not drawing on it.


Wendy is outwardly thrilled to have the focus back on her. Oh, this foreign girl is so deliciously different! Must get her to talk more for the accent.

"I'm a receptionist in the pediatric ward. It's an easy job with easy hours and I get to come to these events!" Hands are upturned, spread wide, to gesture to the entirety of the shindig. "That's how I know about Dr. Killinger's wife and her possible affair." Once again, voice dropped low and confidentially. Her eyes glitter. Oh, come back now, stop talking to your man! More tappity-tapping and then she has the attention back. "But how did you meet Dr. Strange? He's quite the grab, you know. A lot of women are jealous of you. We were all so curious when he disappeared." She takes a moment to sip at the brightly-hued drink before her and allow the statement to settle with her seat-mate.

"Honestly, I have no idea," Strange murmurs back to Wanda before glancing again at the table. The Swede still stares and it becomes a contest of looks, with the good Doctor's eyes growing narrower by the second in a vague and growing discomfort, before Killinger speaks to him again.

"What are you up to these days, if you still claim to hold a doctorate but don't apply it?" The red wine is swirled around his glass with a sense of bored disdain. Giving his old workmate that same blandly-forgiving smile, Strange goes on to explain how he consults on a regular basis at the hospital and teaches the interns. No mention of Dr. Palmer or other connections about the departments (or a certain Medic who moonlights as human but is something else entirely), just an entirely-fair summary of his entirely-non-Sorcerous side gig. The reply granted begins with another snort. "Teaching, you? I don't remember you being inclined to spend any time explaining yourself beyond how you didn't have time for anything but the most complicated cases. Tibet changed you, Strange."

The good Doctor sips at his soda water and nods. A humming sigh followed by a thoughtfully-lilted, "It really did, didn't it?"

"Didn't heal up your hands though, did it? Hell, it still looks like you let a train run over them."

"Yes, they ache now and then, but some physical therapy and active use helped with the relative dexterity." Hey, a little boost of magic isn't cheating too much, is it? Strange wiggles them with an ease belied by the scarring. Maybe Wanda will sense the tiniest riffling in the air around him. "I don't suffer much for it. Are you speeching before or after dinner?"

"After," Killinger replies, looking over his spectacles at the small menu on the table before him.

The menu is given a look that stays shy of melancholy by the good Doctor. The explanation that he ate before he came, while true, will go over badly.


A receptionist. Someone translate that for Wanda later. She ought to start carrying a little notebook to write these odd words down, and refer to them later. "You like helping people?" The question comes as a nudge for Wendy, possibly to shove her down the rabbit hole back to professionalism rather than ending up as that girl with her nude dress pushed up, tears in her hosiery, and a story about how aliens abducted her.

Exquisite chandeliers glitter upon them, the abundance of gold and white hearkening to some neo-Versailles in the heart of New York splendour. For a precious few moments, she is merely a girl dressed up in a splendid gown, surrounded by the keenest medical and academic minds in the Northeast, a carnelian or tiger-eye thrown among diamond minds. Their jewel box is beautiful, treacherous, and unforgivably alien.

"Jealous? Me? Why?" A blink breaks the spell, enchantment going up in flames by the myriad implications every proud doctor's wife or surgeon's mistress might somehow be irritated by her mere presence. Her back straightens, pointed chin lifting. "How sad. I would like to know the ladies who work in the hospital. Do you… do tea and coffee after? When the men drink?"

The comfort of putting her hands back in her lap where no one wonders if a knife is fiddled with distracts her, briefly, before the murmuring around the table. She glances at Strange. Then the very slightest smile follows under Killinger's vibrating words, the attempts to find a barb that lands. The wait will be a long one.

"The doctor is not a slouch, as you say," and oh, how very European she sounds. "His mind is sound. We have worked together on studies. Theories. Maybe one day worth putting on paper." Healing by hex is arbitrarily so strange, so impossible, it's going to require about twenty-nine chapters just to explain how she does it. Though if any of them want their fundamental genetics rearranged, it's probably more than possible between an alliance.

Giving Strange a smile, she briefly touches the slim line of her corset. "Thank you." Just loud enough their eavesdroppers might overhear. "Given how delicate I am now, and this…" The mildest slip of her gaze aside almost gives an illusion of blushing. Almost. "It would be sad to leave early being… indisposed? Yes?"


"Of course I like helping people!" Wendy flashes her seat-mate a momentary look of annoyance before smoothing it away from her features. "It's wonderful working in the pediatric ward. All the parents come in so nervous and then leave with their babies. Everyone's smiling. It's fabulous." She sips at her drink again and side-eyes Wanda with a sudden surge of crafty demeanor. "Meeting the ladies? No, we all go home and do housework. But you really ask why? Because he's Dr. Strange. I've heard he can do amazing things with those hands of his…and I don't mean just surgery." A conspiratorial wink follows the hushed words. The young woman leans back into her chair with another pert 'ugh' and takes a large sip of her alcoholic drink when her side comment might be lost to Wanda's sudden shift to her man once more. This is no fun.

Thank the gods above for all of Strange's years in the social scene. Her word choices could not have been more potentially inflammatory to the embers of gossip. His gaze lingers on her long enough to catch the fleeting hint of absolutely-cutting amusement and he has to think lightning-fast in case the eavesdroppers did hear.

"I know you spent many hours writing up the dissertation too. I used to forget to eat as well. They have the fruit and vegetable plate if you're getting hungry enough to be uncomfortable." The good Doctor retreats into his glass of soda water even as Killinger clears his throat.

"Dissertation?" Clearly, his old colleague is not convinced.

"On the studies of healing through heat. It's a simple enough concept. Heat relaxes the muscles, allows greater blood flow, ad nausea. Basic physiology, Killinger."

Saved again! This time, by the waiter coming around to take orders. Strange passes, of course, having to offer up the excuse of having eaten before arriving. A snort from Killinger and mutter of, "Still not quality enough for you."


Do not go lightly into the sisterhood of commiserating fiends, Wanda Maximoff. She leans in slightly towards Wendy to better hear those conniving tones that pretend to be English, cutting through the chaff to reach the core of what she is saying. "Perhaps you work there but want to work in another part of the hospital." Let's assume that perhaps she wants to work with cadavers. Wendy in the morgue would be a great old time. Put that lipstick on Grandma Jenkins, girl!

The conspiracy needs better material to work with. Ugh meets the simple side comment, "Yes, he can make his tie look very good."

Swedish Nilsson is back to staring like a hawk, and making comments to his unfortunate host, who may well be regretting an exchange with Stockholm's finest hospitals. Maybe he can exchange this one for a Spaniard…

Watch all the hawks otherwise circle and descend, thinking they have a rabbit in their midst. A nod is met, and she agrees to Strange's suggestions. "Too long in one position, putting all thoughts to a single point. It is hard on body and hands."

Writing hands, dirty old doctors. But nonetheless, she gives the server a passing look. "Nothing yet. The company I am quite eating up."


At this point, Wendy decides that this Maximoff girl is clearly no fun at all and proceeds to wear a lightly-irritated moue that makes her rouged lips into a little rosebud. Of course, her seat-mate on her other side, her actual date, is more than happy to draw attention back to himself and finally, the consort to the good Doctor is left alone. Perhaps a good thing!

Dinner proceeds with little talk, seeing as everyone else's mouths are full at disjointed times and Strange seems disinclined to do anything other than consider the distant form of the Swedish man with perpetually-growing amusement. Maybe he does know him from somewhere…but where?

We won't bore you, reader, with the speech. It was as expected: equal parts gratitude, equal parts Killinger patting his own damn shoulder. Applause is given, some honest, some with slack effort. Wanda is given an oblique glance and the good Doctor leans in to whisper in the middle of smattering hands, "He's drunk enough, he'll leave us alone now." True to the prediction, Killinger immediately disappears into the crowd. The announcement is made that the dance floor is open and couples filter out pair by pair, for various reasons: showing off, testing the waters of one another's fortitude in the face of public eye, rarer still for the honest enjoyment of the activity. Those who clearly know what they're doing shine amongst the others.

"So…shall we dance?" Those steel-blue eyes twinkle mirth and mischief at the Witch even as he holds out his palm to her.


For the love of Mother Earth, she's gone! Please let her flounce off. Please let her fall in the fluffy ambrosia and fruit, and be forced to withdraw back to the ladies' room to powder her nose in despair. Please?

Wanda does not want to entertain that notion nearly at all. Any closer and she may just make it happen, and the staff will have no idea of how a pan of crème brulees turned into heathen 60s trash dessert served up cheaply. Marshmallows! Fluff! Unthinkable for a pudding. The brunette wrinkles her nose, the effort intense. We shan't bore you here, either, by the situation that will lead to Miss Wendy and her date spending a tipsy evening looking for a package of vanilla pudding they suddenly have an intense, inexplicable need to eat right now.

"Oh, good. Now I can stop worrying they do not understand anything except Latin and dead medical words." Is that speech over? Is Killinger sauced? Is the Swede dreaming of a bikini team? Her hands clap together for a challenge set before her, and if the opera gloves muffle the sound, so be it. "I am prepared for the duel."

Bravado before making an utter disaster of oneself proves the rule of the day. Easy when she has eaten and drank nothing, and now is asked to perform with a damn faerie king. This will surely end with kingdoms turned into cobwebby ruins and a pair of demonic red shoes running across the land while they both fall through a strange tableaux of especially questionable, inappropriate designs that trick the mind into thinking it's somehow a children's spectacle instead of raw, urgent, lust-stricken passion for public consumption.

Dancing. Not Labyrinth.

Palm meets Strange's palm and Wanda reaches the first stage without falling over, though she surreptitiously wiggles a little jig thing under her dress. They can't guess whether she is sword jumping or rapidly practicing her waltzing steps. Or that there's a damn knife there.


The odd movements beneath the skirt catches Strange's eye, but he's too much the gentleman to inquire after it - publically. At the Sanctum, he'd no doubt cross his arms, raise an eyebrow, and offer some tart inquiry as to whether or not there was a mouse in her dress. Or something. But! Not here, in the scintillating ballroom of the Hotel Astor.

No doubt eyes linger on them as he draws her beside him out onto the polished floor. The band, a small contingent of brass, woodwinds, and a rather jazzy bassist, begin a selection of easy-rhythm hits, some spanning back to the 1920s and the era of ragtime, flapper girls, and swing in smoky bars. Resplendent in black-and-silver and black-and-amber, the pair lingers on the peripheral of the group as Strange leans towards her to murmur,

"This is a simple two-step. Watch the pair in the pink and black." He nods to a couple clear across the dance floor who tip back and forth in a clearly tipsy manner, but manage to keep passable time. "It's easy to start. I think the waltzes will start a bit later. Though I can request something if you know of a particular song?"


A mouse under her skirts or the desire to perform one of her cultural inheritances? For there are only two types of dance Wanda knows to do well, and one isn't permitted in such ballrooms and the other would never be displayed here. It's an act of faith rather than entertainment. One day he might be invited to do witness, and the good Doctor can share his opinion then.

"Anything I know is rude to this crowd. Country dances. Ancient festival dances. I might show you how we worship love of Parvati and Shiva, but you have already seen the start of that." The idle comment made there is met with placing her fingers in a very deliberate mudra, and the light tap of her toe against the ground resounds with the rhythm of a different beat, a different kind of movement than the band strikes here in all their respectable, timely levels.

Her adjustments there are simple. She steps nearer to him, and holds up her hands a little higher, focus fully away from him and the woman in the pink polyester and satin monstrosity of a dress that flows in a pyramidal line all the way to her ankles. How fraught! But the Maximoff can guess the details, for patterns and extrapolation are her gift.

Garnets sparkle with a toss of her head. "No Transian revel for us tonight. Show me how to dance the way you know."


Ohhhhhhhh, the minx.

"I do recognize that particular start, yes," he replies quietly. A ripple of reaction runs down his spine and prickles at his scalp before he rolls his shoulders to will it away. "We'll practice the two-step first then, and I can request a song once you're comfortable."

Wanda is led a bit further onto the floor and then arranged in a respectfully-refined manner. After a few moments of adjusting hands to various resting points and grasping her hand lightly within his left, her left resting on his sleeve, he picks up the beat. "Right…left…right…left…" The murmured chant corresponds to the foot she should move, mirrored to his, and sooner than expected, they move in perfect time with the plucky beat of the deep-toned bass.

"Very good, Miss Maximoff." Zzzip. A slow circle in place is easy enough to do and acceptable within this social sphere. Strange allows himself a full measure of dancing before he drops his chin slightly to look dead into those dark-amber eyes. "You shine, «Beloved», you know. Like a gemstone in rubble. Like a treasure in a tomb. Like…a candle in a dark room."

People may make light of how the world grows infinitely smaller when dancing with a beautiful woman, but as of now, the Sorcerer has no eyes for anyone but the Witch.


The day that Wanda cannot do a right-left step is the day someone puts her in a box. She can count off and measure paces like no one's business. Combining that to the act of movement with so stable a teacher as Strange is, admittedly, a mild and forgiving lesson. Many factors in her favour assure listening to the cadence of his voice rather than the music carries her along.

It takes so little time to fall into something of a fugue state when she hardly pays attention to the musical cues, only mildly aware of the clarinet's goosy voice or the breathy playfulness of a flute trilling past the three violas and a violin humming the counterpoint on coppery strings. Her eyes eventually almost shut to blot out the world.

If there's any doubts how she perceives things, let that be apparent now. The Sight gives some inkling of where to start, but blocking of her eyes means the other senses engage to heightened degree. she feels for the pressure shift in his scarred hands and the tensing muscles of his inner arm, the slightest sway when they shift direction and proceed ahead of time.

Now, that they might hit the wall or fall into the Arskei dimension, ruled by the half-ephemeral spirits who click and chant like whales, she has no power over. There is a different intoxication of proximity, his body so tantalizingly close and his guidance sweeping them through an ocean of satins and jacquards, wool coats and polished leather shoes.

No one else is in position to see her gaze roil dark ruby under her lashes, and then lighten towards a more violet-shot concoction, nor likely catch her biting her lip in a plaintive mark of concentration.

The Sorcerer has burned up the contract with the world, untethering her from everything. The categorical rejection of the world at arm's length leaves her peculiarly and totally aware of so many things usually in abeyance except when he's asleep and she drowsily skates at slumber's edge, watching as much as feeling his chest rise and fall in a miracle of breathing.

"Like a gentleman among peasants?"


"I'd like to think that I'm a gentleman," he replies with that singular smirk of his. Carefully, he leads them out of the way of a giggling, laughing pair of dancers who have clearly been into the champagne as early as they set foot into the ballroom. "They're enjoying themselves."

Wine-hued rubies, meet ice-kissed amaranthine, as Strange notes the shift in both irises and in aura. Her magic teases along his bared skin with the familiar heat and sensations like diluted capsaicin oil. In return, his should grace her shoulders and neck with the teasing whisper of the post-winter vespers.

"I'd make some joke about this being a magical thing, but it might be in poor taste." The good Doctor's chuckle at his own clever pun is lost as the piece of music ends and the dancers all pause to clap. He joins in briefly before canting his head slightly to one side, eyes squinted, as a familiar piece begins next. "I think…this will do."

Whom is he speaking to precisely? It doesn't matter. He takes up her hand and waist once more as the strains of Strauss's 'Blue Danube' begin to echo about the ballroom. "This is the box waltz. One-two-three, one-two-three," he counts softly, in time with the flutes and low hum of the bass. "Actually…" And the Sorcerer Supreme's eyes narrow towards a generally unoccupied section of the dance floor, off towards one of the side doors that leads to the hallways in the hotel. "Follow me."

They wind their way towards the open twenty square feet of floor and Strange once more assumes the lead, arranges her hands, and gives her a twinkling smile. "Ready?"

As he takes the first step, there's the sudden silvery glow about his upraised hand, the one holding Wanda's fingers intertwined, and the move carries them through the malleable crystalline delineation between this reality and the Mirror Dimension. Within it, the music distorts and then becomes clearer on some visceral level, tamed and bent to the will of the practitioner who controls the entirety of the little section of paralleled space. The vivid lighting of the ballroom proper refracts in to create ambient rainbows and heighten the sense of color until the scarlet in her eyes seems to burn into his brain with its intensity.

"I have the worst time sharing," he admits quietly, nearly seeming to hold his breath in priming for her reaction.


Splendors and wonders dash all around them, and Wanda will be able not to describe a one. Maybe she'll remember a bowstring on the neck of a violin, the way the glissando became a lively conversation with the cellist. Smears of raven soot wings resound in the halls of memory already, the figures reduced to so many astral ghosts parading around. A shiver runs down her back.

"One day I will show you the White Rose dance hall. The place remembers its dancers," she murmurs between shattered applause and the settling of the string section into their next movement.

How they critique the performance by dashing away is surely worthy of note, attesting to a dislike of that elder Strauss. No doubt, someone now murmurs about the attitude of the arrogant doctor and his bizarre guest, consort he called her. What airs! They can nod and approvingly wheel around the dance floor, certain of their smug superiority. They don't know why the woman utters a surprised sound, and how that rare smile bordering on a chuckle — it's there in her eyes — moments later when they step outside anyone's sight at all.

Their spectacle deserves to be entirely different. In the Mirror Dimension, her aura sings off the acute angles and severe facets that capture the sound like a crystal set and broadcasting it further within the Sight's confines, as though the veil of mundane life is torn back. Though that mighty river was never blue, the Danube's majestic current through the hinterlands of Austria carries along practically anyone to the most famous of waltzing tunes. How not? Even an amateur, a newcomer, can practically feel the music moving her along, the lagging sweep of her foot almost certain. Once more they are back in position, Strange guiding her through the steps, though she ceases to brace her gloved hand upon his arm long enough to smooth the floor out with a gesture and an invoked word. "Rasys." Any imperfections fade out, vanishing from sight, though the actual dimensions don't change.

Another brief departure once her palm is returned to its proper place, for instead of fully extending her arm, she brings his and her entwined hands back towards her breast for a moment. A kiss delivered to each knuckle she punctuated by a word, counting them off, as the beat is: "One, two, three, one, two, three."

She awaits his lead, having satisfied her own curious traditions. Wanda's expression is still somewhat amused, shaped to the reverie of black gossamer flooding around the obsidian pillars, a dream conjured where they might dance upon the sea under the moonlight. Strange embodies certain to her disorder, the smart turns he enters so much easier and graceful than she, who has to think at a level to keep moving, drawing the waltzing box, and help if it gets more vigorous. In the fugue of romantic longing, letting the music uplift her is much smoother than if she consciously tries to dance.

Talking is too hard, not when one is drunk on the bubbly champagne of being apart, close, and almost within sight.

"Poor Ash Girl. She could have danced all night with her prince and not been made to go home, leaving her glass shoe behind. She should have learned this trick," she muses, and shivers. The dance is a cipher for many other things.


Of course their vanishing turns a few heads and causes a few utterances of inane babbles or perhaps even curses - all dismissed as the liquor talking or the odd interpretation of peripheral vision. Clearly, the arrogant Doctor and his odd consort merely disappeared behind another set of dancers or perhaps down that hallway. The most gleefully-wicked plan to peer down its lengths, find the cracked door, catch the act of disheveled clothing and far too much skin for decency.

They'd be so disappointed, no doubt, to know of the twinkling Other-Ballroom privy only to the two practitioners.

The Sorcerer and Witch now wheel in their own celestial dance within the glow of complimentary auras, doubled upon each other, until the air within the Mirror Dimension takes on a warm and velvety feel. He gives her a tender smile at the benediction of lips to knuckle and then takes said lead with ease. The box waltz - a simple, elegant tradition long-ingrained into his muscle memory.

"Ash Girl," Strange ponders aloud through a graceful turn until the allusion clicks. "Ah, Cinderella, with the glass slippers. The Grimm Brothers wouldn't have given her the ability, unfortunately. Magic is mostly left to the villains in those tales."

What's this now? There's an aural fog that gathers about their feet in fluid swirls of metallic star-blue, incandescent scarlet, eternal amaranthine and…they're…waltzing on air? Dancing on clouds? Hold up, now…the good Doctor is secretly a romantic?! From where, within the confines of his labyrinth mind, is this unconscious manipulation of the Mirror Dimension coming from?

"I hope you've at least managed to enjoy some of tonight," he says quietly, unable to bring himself to truly shatter the moment. Her hands blaze against where they rest, be in palm or sleeve, and his fingertips dance in a brief flexion against the small of her back as he executes a double turn. There's a flash of his teeth and a twinkle of crow's feet at his eyes; don't make her too dizzy now, Doctor.


Trust him to paint a dreamscape out of living reality. The breathing reflection of the world they exist inside will of course answer to his whims. Media in sunbeams and halcyon mists glorify an empyreal canvas, awash in the forgiving muted watercolour that so often tinges the far horizon when the sun drops from its court and forfeits the right to gather and celebrate to its nocturnal kin.

Sylphs and spots of white light initially tinged scarlet erupt around them. At first no more than sparks, bumbling fireflies of light on a radiant course, but they drop towards the ground and lurk among the haze skimming in silver purpled waves. One, two, three, one, two, three, and their rotation joins the couple. Their own dancing lights lend a fae quality to the realm, especially as the pinpoint stars keep emerging from the emptiness, twirling around one another and spreading out. Stardust to go with the mist, a touch of the celestial to join the terrestrial. When their roles switch - he of the sky, she of the earth - it's only for the artistic embellishment to raise romance to a high peak worthy of troubadours.

His grip is likely the firmer, and thus his lead the more direct. Her own faults, mistimed steps or lag, surely can be forgiven? If not there shall be peppered smiles and a regrettable tip of her head, acknowledging yes, she just kneed his calf slightly.

But then has doubt any place here? No. "Every night with you is good." Okay, damning praise, this can be exceeded before the amaranth bleaches from his gaze and those cobalt eyes resume a stern, guarded state once more. "I like your company best. Being seen as your…" Her tongue cleaves to her palate and refuses to easily form the word, but it has to. "Consort. I saw the look in your eyes. That was fulfilling."

The stars all collectively chime. Here, that might be rather loud, and their vibration midair has the unfortunate byproduct of giving away her emotional state exactly at it is. Some have butterflies in their stomachs. She apparently uses a miniature galaxy to project the flutters in the same way. +1 to the ego of Doctor Stephen Strange.


The ringing of ephemeral bells might be loud, but it's also entirely appropriate given the current fae-realm state of their surroundings. The good Doctor recognizes it on some level as kindred sound to the harmonious meshing of their auras in a once-upon-a-time's meditation practice.

He also acknowledges the presence of the condensed novas, but again, at a distance. All that matters is the celestial body within his hands that follows with such uncanny grace. If she missteps, let her be assured that he takes no notice of it.

"I mean no insult with 'consort'," he murmurs in light of the visible and audible hesitation of her usage of the world. "It has noble origins, despite what others may think. Latin, I believe, something about 'sharing a destiny'. It's /just/ archaic enough that we can - well, myself, at least - I can laugh at their misinterpretation of it."

Trust Strange to wield his intelligence like a double-edged sword.

Another set of turns, a subtle testing on his part that he sincerely can't resist, and the Witch follows with a natural aptitude that leaves him nearly incandescent with pride and adoration. It is with a noticeable calming of his overall air that he notes the near-ending cadence of the Danube waltz. Perhaps she can sense the following shift to intent concentration in the slight narrowing of his gaze, in the crafty subtle rise of the corners of his lips and lines of his goatee.


Silver bells call not to a hunt; they call to the patrons of the fae, yon crescent moon in all her splendour and the contingent court of glittering sparks, courtiers in attendance upon their queenly mistress. Rivulets of dust illuminated by the passing quartets come alive, shot through by plum and shots of ultraviolet lightning. Her spectra favours the extremes, deep infrared and the swing to the opposite side.

Bits of forked lightning play to and fro, jumping from point to point, giving them direction through the interdimensional ballroom. Crystal facets playfully reflect their images twirling by, dancers caught in a whirlwind of autumnal glory. Black on black images appear in fractal phased worlds, their countless likenesses in every quantum corner of universes without count. Here is merely a reminder of the endless existence, and a crossroads doubly over. Him, the guardian, her the centre of creation as they know it here.

A step, a step, another step. She rotates on an axis, led by the greater star, his gravity keeping her in a proper form as the music is pushed along by her own rotten imaginings. The breathless whisper of a laugh follows another stumble, this time forcing her to kick her skirt away vigorously. "I like to think this is easier in shorter attire. If not right."

It might just be whisked away on a thought while he explains himself, the choice of the words that anoint her as his, and totally his, claimed by no other. The colour in her cheeks is fair. "We use too many words wrong. They become different. Awful is meant to mean frightening, causing awe." See, she knows a little English. It's just very hodgepodge. Let him chuff with pride, and she will consider his salt and pepper jawline. They rotate, shifting to a twirl, and she squeezes his hand.



The blush is worth the explanation. "Latin was far easier to learn in the long run, yes."

The name? Perfectly timed and worthy of an equally-adoring response. Luck is on his side — no Mystical Arts or time manipulation here, just simple luck — and the music comes to its classical close.

She is led into a twirl that rotates her on her toes and sends the diaphanous skirt of the dress aloft within the flow of the star-lit fog. Then — swish. It's a dip, right into the arms of the Sorcerer Supreme, who looks down into her eyes with that damnably dimpled smile.

"Yes, Wanda?"


Another twirl and they separate, her dropping like a stone towards the floor. Stars halt in their revolutions, the chime of alarm echoing from one radiant point to another to another. As one their collective voices vibrate at a high trill worthy of regard, for it shudders through the body in one sympathetic wave that crests and folds upon itself.

The flood of her dark hair probably touches the floor, or nearly, a flag dipped in surrender of a kind. Wanda looks up, her eyes widening, tongue pressed to her lips as she nervously blots the rose curve. A dimpled smile meets a toothier one, if only for where the bite lands to the inner lining of hers.

He wants her to talk? The music finishes in the ballroom beyond and they'll take up another melody of Strauss' set, albeit one far more obscure.

Her arms rest around Strange's neck, a bracket. They could fall forever, like that.


What? Sorcerer has the cat's tongue? Color him just plain pleased.

It's inevitable, the kiss. The predictable end of time spent dizzying oneself across an ocean of mist-bourn stars and through the thick radiance of the sunset captured in nearly-tangible light. The gauntlet thrown into the face of the world and all of its awful terrors to be found in past, present, and future - - lobbed into the teeth of the few that would contrive to separate them - - fair pitched into the nose of the gods, who would deny their fate-touched conduits simple happiness, with all the spice that the human soul can muster.

As Strange comes up for air, she might recognize that he's near-drowned himself as he inhales deeply and seems to fight a lightheaded lassitude in the forced blinks. "We should - - ahem, we should get back. Unfortunately, we're likely missed, if only for target practice." A scoff of a laugh. Though, note how his hands never take leave of their places on her body, however needed to bring her to a standing position once more.


Whatever has got that glorious tongue? He's the raccoon face-first in a bowl of milk, and so chuffed with himself.

Trust this to be the moment she flips gravity or enforces some kind of transformation to them and the world. One murmured sound and colours invert, time stutters, or they end up lurking on the edge of the world's steepest and longest slide.

It can wait until after Agamotto rubs his nose and runs off to cry to Oshtur he's been mistreated again and Chthon won't stop creeping using his CCTV network intended to keep tabs on the Sorcerer Supreme, totally, Mom!

Let them forget everything about burdens and cares for a moment. No more aliens or Asgardians or asinine politicians, no more grumpy doctors and surgeons parading it around, simply them. The touch of a kiss that becomes a singular union of sky and earth, the point at which air and temporal cares cease. Let's just face it: she really likes getting practice kissing him. It's an effortless endeavours full of joy like marchpane comfits at Christmas. Their lips brush again and the retreat he might be considering is cut off by another of them, the slip of her tongue past his teeth shameless. Wanton!

Well, who else on earth is going to wear a scarlet badge but her? The witch smiles, a tad drugged, and slides away without breaking his grip, if only to face away towards the direction from whence they came. All the more snaggable, really, his handholds firm in their places and her dress shining in the starlight etched upon every fold, every plane in high relief. That's the only way Strange is getting her back in there. "I thought we might leave by the window and run like children for the subway."


"As tempting as that is, we need to at least bid everyone a fond farewell," Strange replies with a genuine laugh. Of course there was a mocking twist to the sentiment of said departure. Fond. Pfft.

It's a shame to leave behind the little universe they've created, all from pure imagination drawn from the rapturous font of the human soul, but…all good things must come to an end. After all, how can another wondrous happenstance begin otherwise?

He's careful to time his exit in the middle of another song, something infinitely more rousing and big-band than the ponderous waltz that has passed, and both appear from behind the shimmer invisibility of the Mirror Dimension into the shadows by the wall. There's a brief once-over between the two of them — bowtie is straightened, lapels balanced, opera gloves drawn up to appropriate length on arms, bodice brushed off with infinite amounts of restraint — and then the good Doctor and consort appear once again in the public eye.

The goodbyes are short and sweet — like antifreeze — and then, thank the gods above, they leave behind the hectic scene of opulence and celebration of momentary mortal triumph over death. The valet at the door is quick to bring Wanda her scarlet jacket and then the limousine pulls to the curb with professional timing.

So what if the sleekly-dressed couple seem to disappear into the back with noted haste? The driver smiles to himself. He'll get them home soon enough.

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