1963-12-01 - Science and Magic Over Tea
Summary: When Dr. Strange stops by at Xavier's school, a lot more gets discussed than his wayward apprentice.
Related: Boarding School, The Mad King's Offer
Theme Song: None
strange xavier moira 


Nestled within the wrap of his black winter coat and wrapped at neck by crimson scarf as well as hidden Eye of Agamotto (beneath both bright scarf and buttoned jacket), Strange sighs and gets to pulling open a Gate. This one will take him to the highly-revered Institute, where so many months ago, he enrolled his apprentice Illyana for lessons in social graces that he could not provide. The oculus, rimmed in crackling lightning, opens up to reveal the Foyer proper of the building and he strides through it from the Loft of the Sanctum. Luckily enough, he managed to time it as to not scare off any students (he has done that before, whoops). By the time it closes, he merely looks like a visitor recently arrived with hands stuffed deeply into pockets. Even if the front doors never opened and shut.

Looking around in benign interest, the Sorcerer Supreme then closes his eyes and tucks his chin slightly. The word are spoken psychically, with mild finesse; this is a skill he continues to develop.

"Professor Xavier, this is Doctor Strange. I'm in the Foyer. Do you have a moment? I'd like to discuss Illyana. Whom I do not sense here."

*

The 'work' with Weapon-X has changed again. It means Moira's working hours have changed also. Weird hours now, sometimes over nights, weekends, whatever hours WON'T be noticed by regular people. She's reported the program going more underground and that she's closer on names to give them all. Progress, but unnerving progress. That means she's actually home to do more real work with the institute tonight, standing down with Xavier in the labs as she has him hooked up to ANOTHER new set of machines. She's determined to figure this 'coma' out, while he's projecting.

"…Alright…are those diodes comfortable? I mean, I realize you are not aware, bu I'd rather you not half blistered because I pinched your scalp off while I was doing this. And, well… I rather like that scalp, you know. Can't have you going bald of anything." Moira murmurs to him, a wry smile flickering across her lips. She is rather completely oblivious to the visitor upstairs, just about to flip on their newest testing machines.

*

"Yes, let's not do that." Charles agrees with a bit of a smirk. For his part Charles is.. well, it's an unusual situation.

On the one hand he's sitting on one of the chairs in the lab, seeming asleep as much as anything while Moira fiddles with the equipment for whatever she means to check next.

On the other though, he's perched casually watchful on the top of one of the machines, which would probably be a very bad idea were he not also insubstantial and glowing faintly blue.

"Let me hop back for a moment and I'll let you know if there's any difficu—" the translucent image of Charles cants his head. Though his range is lessened in this form, he's still every bit a telepath, and the smile that breaks out on his face suggests something has caught his attention. "Right," Charles says, clapping insubstantial hands. "We have a guest."

«I was hoping you'd find time to stop by,» the amiably accented voice chimes in response in Strange's mind. «Though…? I hadn't expected it to be about Illyana, is something the matter?»

*

"…Dammit, are you talking to someone else? Well, I mean… THINKING at them? While projecting? And I don't have this damn thing turned on!" Moira huffs, quite annoyed. She's missing valuable data! She flips on the machine, seeing if she can catch a few readings at least, "Go, go…go ahead. Tell him we'll be right up. No. Don't get back in your body yet. Talk to him while you're in a coma. And not in your body. Come on. It's a challenge." Moira finishes fussing with the machine, hoping to get a few blips of *something* while the Professor greets their guest. But still nothing but that strange, very occasional in the pre-frontal cortex. So odd. She sighs and kills the machine.

"No joy… we need… new machines. New rules for this. I don't know…" She then reaches up, carefully removing all the various connections she'd just so delicately placed against his skull and threaded in the back of his hair. She combs her fingertips through his dark hair, smoothing it back into place. "…There. You almost look presentable. Let's go see who is here for tea…" She does take a moment to steal a single kiss. Then she's stepping back from the machines and grabbing her crutch she'd rested aside. She limps her way back to the stairs with Charles and up. Apparently, she's nosing in on this meeting.

*

The smallest flinch at the Professor's voice reaches him with enviable clarity. The good Doctor opens his eyes slightly, looks left and right to be certain the man hasn't snuck up on him, before closing off sight and concentrating once more.

"By your lack of surprise, I feel like I'm missing something as well as her. I was told by one of her friends, a miss Lorna, that she no longer attended school. I expected to be informed of this?"

A sudden intrusion of footsteps that shatter his concentration and Strange glances over to see a student wandering by. The quizzical once-over is met by the cool surgical glare, the one meant to incise beyond basic appearances, and the student hurries on a bit faster. No doubt he's going to gain a reputation as 'that totally grumpy dude who stood in the Foyer and glared at me'.

Back to shut-eyed focus. "Regardless, it appears that we should talk in person. Shall I wait here?"

*

"I'm talking to you in much the same way, really. Though if it will convince you that I can be of help in this task you've taken on, then by all means. I'll be right back." Charles' projection stands up on the machinery and pushes off up through the floor. Thanks to his telepathy, he has at least that bit of advantage in not startling students— he can tell no one is looking this way just at the moment. With an effort of will he projects a solid seeming image of himself overlaying his astral form, which turns a corner to greet Strange with a somewhat puzzled smile. "You'd be right; did you not get my letter? For that matter, I'm fairly certain one was sent when Illyana moved away as well, as the two of you had described her as your charge. But there's a library with very nice chairs just this way. I need to finish something up, but I'll be there directly in just a minute and we can talk properly."

Moira may have been expecting him to wake up any moment now that he was out of sight, but he doesn't wake up just yet. Charles does send a sense of appreciative affection though when he senses her taking the time to make him presentable rather than looking like..well, someone who just had electrodes all through their hair.

*

Well, at least he LISTENS to her. As the projection escapes the room, Moira just chuckles a hint to herself and gives a small shake of her head. The readings aren't all that helpful, but it was worth a try. He's not quite yet back to his body yet, but that's alright. It'll take her a good bit longer to take the stairs than him anyway, so she might as well get a head start. She smooths his shirt lapels and then moves for the door of the lab.

When Moira does get up stairs, eventually, Strange will catch sight of a 30-something woman with the sharp, intelligent eyes of a scientist. He's seen eyes like that before, probably genius-level intellect. Her name has been in countless journals at the very forefront of genetics and genetic mutations. She's still in a white lab coat and looks perfectly normal and healthy, well, other than the fact that she heavily leans on a crutch. The way she walks says she probably has barely any use of her left hip and leg. But she's managed around it quite well and has the experienced gait of someone who has become quite accustomed to her injury and done a lot of therapy to retake a normal life.

*

What an odd impression. It's as if the psychic voice suddenly took form and it's wavering slightly, as if coming from a distant place down a valley.

Opening his steel-blue eyes, Strange glances back towards it and nods thoughtfully as he takes in the floating image of the Professor. He walks over just a step or two to peer closer — and if Xavier were to note any sort of change in color of his irises, more towards faintly-glowing lilac than the normal blue, he wouldn't quite be seeing things.

"Now that's a trick I haven't seen just yet, your version of an Astral Form. Not the Arts, but…still, you've broken the veils between the planes." Curiosity piqued, but still, he sighs and looks mildly exasperated. "Mail, of course. It would never have gotten to me. Yes, please, I'll wait here."

Wonderful. Made a proper fool by the United States Postal Service. The good Doctor shakes his head once more.

At the arrival of another person, female, corporeal form and utilizing a crutch, he gives her a quick once-over. Quickly enough, he can tell she's sustained massive amounts of nerve damage to critical junctures and there's a sense of wry sympathy that softens his sharp expression.

"So sorry for whatever happened to you. I see they weren't able to help much." Even as he walks over, he brings out a heavily-scarred hand as evidence to his droll statement in the offer of a possible handshake to Moira. "Hurts when it rains, doesn't it. Dr. Strange, I'm here to speak with the Professor."

*

Though Charles' point of awareness is indeed floating, theoretically invisible, he'd thought he'd presented a convincing enough image of himself as he normally is that he wasn't expecting Strange to notice anything amiss.

Of course he wasn't expecting the good Doctor to be seeing into two planes at once, or for that matter ever considered his little trick might overlap with Strange's inscrutable specialties. Both images of Charles, his astral form and the one he's projecting of himself look highly intrigued. "This is something you've seen before?"

Though then Moira makes her appearance, and Charles steps back as introductions are already being offered. His expression flickers slightly when Strange focuses on Moira's injury though all he says is, "I'll be right up," vanishing right after.

Thanks to Moira, it shouldn't take him terribly long to get his whole self back upstairs.

*

The darkhaired woman seems a bit surprised to see the man there. He looked familiar, somehow. Had she seen his picture in a journal somewhere? Neuromedicine, wasn't it? It's when he says his name that her mind finishes making the connections and her eyes go a bit wide, "Dr. Stephen Strange! Yes… I read your paper in Nature on outside electrical stimulations of neurons in brain dead areas. It was… fascinating. Goodness. I didn't know you and Char… Ah, Professor Xavier were friends! Come, come…" She's trying to motion him in further. Even as his scarred hands get a flicker of an all too sympathetic look. Yes. She knows far too well. "…they did what they could. For both of us. No mind, on to better things, come." She does, ever so gently, grip his hand in a soft shake before she starts leading back to the library for tea.

"Do you like tea, Doctor? We tend to prefer it in this house over coffee… or, at least, I make a better pot of it… Charles should be here any…" And then the handsome man is coming through the library door to meet them both and Moira's eyes flicker up, smiling immediately, "Perfect timing. I was just going to manage us some tea. And you didn't tell me you were friends with Stephen Strange. I thought I'd met all the brilliant minds you liked to keep around." She might actually be a little science jealous.

*

A glance towards the vanishing Professor, even as Strange finishes shaking hands with Moira and looking rather pleased at the recognition.

"Oh, that article." That was…a while back, wow. He's come so far from that echelon in accepting his current mantle. He follows the dark-haired young woman into the library, taking in the Institute's layout on the way. Beautiful woodwork, classical arches and thick carpeting. He likes his Loft more, but don't blame him too much. He's half-tempted to encourage the Professor to start burning incense. After all, certain types of smokes, from the burnt wicks, quicken the mind and expand simple contemplations beyond normal range.

The good Doctor muses silently, of course, up until he realizes that he's been asked a question. "Tea, please." And he follows her line of gaze to see the man himself arriving in the library, looking decidedly more corporeal than before. "I'm not the most social type, as you're probably aware," Strange remarks lightly in Charles's defense — of course, with a charming half-smile that curves one line of his goatee. "Don't blame the man too much."

*

"Yes, you can be a bit elusive at times, though it's starting to sound as if that might have a good deal to do with a problem with the post? As to tea, I believe we still have some of that Darjeeling blend I seem to recall you being partial to." Charles remarks to Strange as he too enters the library.

"And I see you've already met our inimitable Doctor Moira MacTaggert," he adds, greeting her with a fond smile. "Perhaps I should make the tea, or I fear the matters I'd hoped to discuss will be at cross purposes with the two of you getting properly acquainted." he tilts his head at Moira, silently asking whether she'd like him to do just that.

*

A slight arch of her brow in Charles' direction, as he offers to make the tea, and she gives a little wave of her free hand. "Well, if you know this man's tea preferences already, who am I to stop you? Doesn't make me less jealous." Moira is clearly teasing, the warmth between the pair that of old friends and perhaps more. Comfortable nerds, those too. Especially having just come out of the lab? It's practically rolling off of them — the good moods from a long afternoon researching in good company. They just radiate *nerd*. Happy, genius level nerd. So, she flashes Charles one last smile and then is content to limp her own way over towards the sitting area near the little fire place. It was the most comfortable right now.

"…So, Doctor, you will have to forgive me. I lack Charles'… immediate ability to understand what a person might need. What brings you here today? I didn't see anyone in the Professor's appointment book, so I am rather guessing the visit wasn't planned?"

*

"You know me too well," Strange replies to Xavier with a grin. Darjeeling will do in a pinch. Clearly, the Professor is in charge of tea, so he follows once more behind Moira, keeping just slightly behind and to her weak side (as to catch her, should the crutch give in sudden mishap — ever the gentleman, especially in light of mutual understanding as to the rare failure of medicine in the face of near-immutable damage).

The sitting area is quaint, reminding him a bit of his own living room, and his smile appears again with a hint of fondness. This is a proper place to chat, tea and all. Glancing over at Moira from his scrutinizing of the fireplace, he gives her a stilted nod and a brief wrinkle of his nose.

"I recognize that I might be taking advantage of his genial personality in arriving without warning, but I found the moment of time that I might not have later in the day or week. Believe me, I'm already eating crow about not receiving his letter regarding my ward, Illyana Rasputina. If he wants to scold me about not planning ahead, I'm fine with it." Both scarred hands emerge in a gesture indicating an acceptance of said allegations. He then gets to unbuttoning his coat. Beneath, a dress shirt in deep maroon and dress slacks in black. The scarf remains around his neck, interestingly enough, even as he drapes the black coat over the black of a nearby chair and then settles in. One shoe rests atop his knee as he settles in, hands interlaced at his belt. "Although, Doctor," he says, emphasizing the world in mutual respect, "your name does ring a bell. If you dabble so deeply in genetics, I may have a request for you. But first, Charles needs to return with that tea. Plying me with tea so I'll agree to whatever you're asking after?"

The last question called to the Professor with a teasing disregard for the fact that this is a library, geez.

*

The water is on, pot and cups being prepared as Charles hums idly to himself and sends back to them both, «Well, if you're going to insist on drawing me into the conversation… I did have something I'd hoped to ask you. Though to be perfectly frank, it may be rather more than a one-cup favor. You see, a man recently arrived at our school who should have had no way to locate it. There have been other unsettling episodes from time to time, and I can't help but consider that that amazing gate you use to visit might not be something only you can manage.» there's a concerned tinge to his thought, even if the tone is light.

*

While Moira probably wouldn't be comfortable with the thought that Strange is walking behind her with those considerations, pride is a fickle thing, she is happy to simply get off of her feet and comfortable in that high backed chair around the fire place. Off her feet, she looks startlingly normal for a world renown geneticists. Younger than most would think her, and prettier in an all-American kind of way. Especially in that blue dress beneath her white lab coat. She simply doesn't seem the person one would expect on the front of mutant genetics. Yet, she sits in this house, comfortable and confident as anything else.

Since Charles as resorted to the using mental communications, instead of yelling across the room like heathens, Moira easily falls into echoing her thoughts back to his mind so he can project them between all three. She's been around him enough that talking in such away, even between others, seems to come natural to her now. «Well…perhaps, if you could help Charles with this, I could be far more easily persuaded to help with your request. I am curious, I'll admit…But Charles' concern truly is pressing. We have a whole household of students to protect here.»

*

It must be very weird to anyone walking past the trio of adults to see them all comfortable near the fireplace, eyes flicking to one another and lingering, even squinting as if to consider spoken ideas. But no one is talking. At least not aloud.

With all the languor of a large hunting cat, Strange settles back deeper into the high-backed chair and gets to circling thumb tip about thumb tip. These idle movements help him to focus further as he adopts an almost somnolent expression, one needed to aid him in actively projecting back to Charles, and, in turn, to Moira.

"I suspect that you, perhaps both of you, know a Princess Crystalia of Attilan. Red head, green eyes. She spoke to me not a day ago over tea along with miss Lorna." Steel-blue eyes shift to Charles, across the room. "Opening Gates between the veils of reality within this realm is unfortunately not limited to me, no, Charles, though please make me aware immediately if you find anything of the sort occurring on these grounds. Is he at it again, this madman she spoke of? She already has a token of protection from me. Has he threatened other students as well?"

*

If he was being perfectly honest, Charles is utterly terrible at curbing his body language when speaking mentally, especially in comfortable situations. Perhaps it's only fair that he telegraphs what he's thinking, since he can already tell what everyone else is. It's all the more apparent when he rejoins them, distributing tea. He shakes his head, thinking «Thankfully he hasn't threatened any of the students as of yet.» He puts a healthy dose of milk in his tea before settling into one of the remaining well stuffed chairs.

«Though he was the one who brought the matter to a head, yes.» Charles thinks soberly around a sip from his cup. «Even if he's not thus far acted violently, it rather highlights how dangerous it could be if someone who would could appear right in the middle of our home without warning. Is there any chance what you did for Crystal could be done for the school itself?» He tilts his head, slightly curious about how focused Strange seems to be when replying mentally. Is it just a habit of meditation, or something else?

*

Since Charles has come to rejoin them, Moira doesn't bother to make either of them focus mentally again. Speaking aloud is just as acceptable for the rest of the world, they might as well do it too! She nods in agreement to Charles' worries, "…We have all ages in this school, Doctor, and… not all of them are as martially capable as some others. It's a *school*. I know the children are, sadly… in for possible violence and issues when they go out of these gates, but if there could be a way to protect them inside…" Moira adds to Charles' words, a warm, quiet plea. Her motherly protectiveness over the kids was far too clear.

Then, speak of the devil, one of the younger ones half toddles, half wanders into the library, having heard voices. The girl was probably barely six and already in pajamas, bu clearly not sleeping. Moira blinks, "Lettie… dear… why are you awake? Goodness, come… did you not get a story tonight? Come…" Moira pushes herself up onto her crutch, abandoning her own tea before it gets drank. "Gentlemen, you'll have to excuse me. Someone has to get a young lady to bed. I'm certain you can handle this. Doctor… Leave your card with Charles and I'll be in touch about the other assistance I can give?" With that, and a clipped smile, Moira limps over to the door to gently usher the girl out with a tender, loving hand and some gently murmured words.

*

Those dark eyebrows rise a little higher as he considers Charles's request silently for a few moments. Then Moira pipes up…and damned if she doesn't make the critical point that there are indeed all ages at the Institute. He takes a big sip of tea and is in the process of putting aside the cup when the little one wanders in. No doubt the softening on his face is somewhat foreign to Charles, if he notes it in the good Doctor's expression, and the young woman does receive the response of,

"Of course, Doctor MacTaggert. Good night." This now leaves the two men to speak quietly of the heavier things in life, which apparently includes a ward surrounding the entire school.

"Well, it wouldn't be impossible to do," Strange murmurs, considering his friend in the chair angled opposite to him. "It would take some time, effort, preparation. I'd need to gather the necessary ingredients and be guaranteed no intrusions during the process. It's the same as laying down the lines for trip-bombs, in a sense. Jostle me or my work and sometimes things explode." A wry sort of grimace from the Sorcerer. "I'd also need to know what you need kept out and its permanence."

*

"Whatever resources we have that might defray your effort or cost would be at your disposal." Charles replies, his usually bright expression now quite serious. "The winter holiday is coming up if that's enough warning; some of the students will be visiting family, and the others we could relocate temporarily to allow you to work. As to the specifics, on that I'm dependent in large part on your expertise. What I want is to stop anyone who hasn't been given permission from appearing on these grounds. Perhaps some sort of warning if beings from…other dimensions as you put it, were approaching. What would you recommend?"

*

"Oh, just that? Oh, that's easy enough. That's quite a bit like the wards around the Sanctum," Strange replies after setting aside his tea cup once again. Nearly empty and he's considering getting up to pour more, but in a minute. "Do you want sentient mobile spells or just a warning system? Actually, no, I take that back, you," and he has to pause to laugh and wave a hand about, "you don't want mobile spells. I might find them charming, but they would probably scare visitors."

His eyes shift to the fire and he narrows them in thought. "How soon would you need them? Is waiting for the winter holiday too long? Are you able to keep the students safe until I can gather the resources?" Attention back to Charles now. "I don't underestimate you in the least, Charles. Gods below, what you could do if you applied your abilities. I probably don't know the half of it."

*

A wry smile shows on Charles' face at the comment on mobile spells. "Possibly, if they could be convinced to only disturb whom they're reporting to." For the sake of the students, he's willing to be interrupted whatever he might be doing. He missed Maximus' arrival because he was in Cerebro, his mind focused elsewhere, an alert at that point would have been welcome indeed.

"Break starts December 13th. But if you could be ready significantly before then, then I'm prepared to take steps to clear the school sooner, yes."

Charles meets the Sorcerer Supreme's gaze, his own level as he doesn't deny those suspicions. The truth is he's just as happy to appear harmless, his passion has always been to nurture rather to intimidate. But even he was once not in complete control of his powers, and he does Strange the courtesy to not laugh the matter off. "Generally I would say without a doubt. I can put off outside business long enough to stay here until then, but.." he shakes his head a bit then, a grimace showing. "But there are beings in this world, perhaps whole races of them that my mind simply can't reach. There are facilities I can't see into, that's why I've been experimenting with…an astral form, did you call it? It would seem your expertise may have more answers for me than I'd first anticipated."

*

No? He was hoping to get at least some sort of positive affirmation in light of his compliment, even a shoo-aside of sorts. Did he overstep his boundaries as friend? Then Strange remembers Charles's strong belief in helping rather than reacting to events. It's a facet of his own mantra of 'First, do no harm' and reminds the good Doctor of why he holds the young man closer than most others he knows. Like does attract like and strengthens it to boot.

The Sorcerer suddenly has to repress a delighted grin at the subject of Astral Forms. Real quick, wrap up business, however. "Spells are as literal as you set them to be, for good and bad intentions. A spell set to alert you alerts only you and attempts to continue doing so, even if you're unconscious. If you die, the spell disintegrates. I'm happy to set immobile wards similar to those I keep around the Sanctum. They would chime for you, within your mind," and he taps at his silvered temple lightly, "in the case of unwanted visitors or attempts at bypassing them. They can be taught to be flexible in the definition of what you consider unwanted. For example, I may allow a member of one family in while keeping another out. Simple enough when explained to the wards. They won't be emotionally predisposed to anything but loyalty, brutal and plain. If that's what you want, give me…a week. Another day if you want mobile wards. Both?"

Charles's answer is accepted with a nod and the Sorcerer finishes his tea. "Mmm, wonderful," and he sets it aside to rub hands together with surprising dexterity in the presence of scarring. "Now, Astral Forms. According to my knowledge of things, you can separate from your body in a form of out-of-body manifestation. In doing this, you attain an Astral Form and exist on the Astral Plane. The veils between this world and that Plane are thin, easy to manipulate, hence the ability for souls to move back and forth between them. Some ghosts aren't ghosts, if you get what I mean, Professor." A wry smile once more. "I meditate to achieve it. How do you do it?"

*

There's a bit of a rueful look from Charles as he catches the moment of confusion from Strange. If anything, he considers it heartening. It's always good to know there are people who have considered the things he could do, and are at ease with him anyways. Admittedly, that's much the way he feels about Strange himself.

"I have to routinely write short answer prompts for teenagers, I feel I should be up to the task of handling the overly-literal." Charles notes with a chuckle. "The seventh, then." he agrees, already considering ways to compensate for the disruption. That will be a weekend, so classes won't be an issue.

As the topic turns to Astral forms, Charles catches up a bit with his own tea consumption, listening attentively. "The soul?" he repeats with a bit of a rueful smile. "Oh dear.. you'd best not let Moira hear you say that, she's dead set on working this all out." he considers Strange's question, taking another sip of tea. "My mind is nearly always outside of my body to one degree or another. As best I can put it, I simply learnt to put -all- of it out of my body at once."

*

"Interesting," the good Doctor responds to the concept of the mind leaving the body. He draws a fingertip down one line of his goatee before speaking again. "You can call it the soul if you want to. Mind, soul, spirit, Astral Form. I tend to think of it as my spirit more than soul, I suppose, though perhaps those are so closely intertwined that it doesn't matter." Two fingers twist around one another in unconscious reinforcement of concept.

"You know how curious I am, Charles. Care to separate your mind from your body once more? I'd be most interested in seeing it again."

Emphasis on the action verb, as if it has more than the standard implication. "I can't remember, have you watched me use the Sight before? It's nothing too startling, I promise, though my eyes will glow a bit. It allows me to See your Astral Form where it might be invisible to others."

*

"I noticed it just earlier in the foyer," Charles replies, looking at Strange sidelong. "Though if you have prior to that, I wasn't aware." he laughs a bit at the request, shrugging his shoulders. "Academic curiosity is hardly to be considered a sin here. At least this time I shan't have to fuss with a mess of machinery."

Charles settles back in his chair, uncrossing his legs and resting his elbows on the armrests when he tilts his head. "In all honesty, I'd very much like to know more myself. Perhaps you would allow me to watch you even as you watch me?" Charles wonders, waggling his fingers by the side of his head a moment? "I'd be very much interested to see the matter through your eyes, as it were."

*

A little laugh and jaunty point towards the Professor at the revelation that he did notice. He was paying attention then, very good. No way to startle him then. "Of course, quid pro quo and all that. I'm happy to separate my Astral Form if you have the patience for a little meditation." Charles is the single telepath the good Doctor trusts around his squirrely Mystical mind.

"If you please, just a quick in and out," he says with the accompanying gesture of invitation, palm up. A blink, noticeably slower than the standard human biological habit, and the steel-blue eyes have gone once more towards a low-burning lilac.

*

Charles chuckles, nodding. "Alright, then." He touches the side of his head, borrowing Strange's perception for his own, so he too can see just how this works from the perspective of a master of the mystic arts.

That done he takes a deep breath and lets it out, eyes falling shut— and there, just like that his Astral form unfolds from his body, floating a bit over the small coffee table between them. Usually he would present an illusion in the minds of those around him he wanted to see or hear him, but this time he leaves off all of those bells and whistles, watching curiously through Strange.

*

No true drama to the Professor's Astral Form appearing; he appears to relax just as Strange would in deep meditation.

The Sight enables him to see the Form and it's fascinating. Not so different from what he might see in another Astral Form, though this has a precision to it that perhaps many others lack. Whereas his own may even fray in its outline, Charles has a crystalline quality to his form that mirrors his clothing and corporeal body exactly. Clear-cut and defined.

"Hmm. I wonder if the fact that you consider your Astral form to be of your mind in origin gives it such clarity." Being so incredibly sensitive to psychic intrusion, he suspects that what he did feel was the nudge of the telepath's mind. No need to worry. Duly noted. "Give me a moment or two and I'll join you shortly."

The Professors, both Astral and physical, are given a smile before Strange closes off those lambent eyes. A minute passes as he settles back against the chair, arms laid on the rests, legs uncrossed. A slow inhale and, similar to Charles, he exhales and with a swish of Mystical energy, he too departs his body.

He should be seen to the Professor as facsimile of himself in dress wear, maroon and black, crimson about his neck, though with a subtle glow to his skin and eyes that never leaves him in this form. This is the Sorcerer Supreme unchained by physical barriers and the edges of his form wisp subtly as if unable to contain the power he possesses. "And here we are, both in the Astral plane." Strange grins.

*

«Yes, that's just me.» Charles affirms when Strange is musing on the nudge to his senses. «And it would seem you view me much as I do myself, mystic sight and all.» Charles notes with interest. It is a different sort of apparition than Strange is used to, clear and crisp but monochrome in a sort of faded glowing blue instead of the vivid coloration of his own form with it's faint haze of mystic energy.

From Charles' perspective however, Strange is the interesting one when he too manifests his astral self. For how long Charles has been taking jaunts on the astral plane it really hasn't been that often; he's never encountered anyone else there, and his astral self is clearly fascinated. "Here we are!" he agrees. "Can you hear me now, weather I speak in your mind or not?" he wonders.

*

"I can, both ways. It's always made more sense to me to talk aloud when in Astral form. I haven't noticed many people hear me when I do, unless they're sensitive to such things. Psychic or they've heavily studied the art of Astral Projection." The good Doctor grins, glancing back at his resting body. "It's impossible to sneak around some people. I bet you'd be included."

Strange flits over to the fireplace briefly before shooting straight up into the air, just shy of the ceiling. "Wow, that's a lot of books." He whistles lowly as he scans the many shelves. "I didn't know you had a collection like this, Charles. I should visit more often." The lean man darts back down to hover before the Professor once more. "So how did you come upon your ability to take on an Astral Form if you've never studied magic? And don't tell me you have because you don't have an ounce of a signature on you," he adds with a truly-amused laugh.

*

"Very likely." Charles agrees; based on a student, or more accurately a friend of a student who has tripped that sense before, it's a bit more than speculation on his part.

Charles floats after Strange at a more leisurely pace, noting with dry amusement, "If you go any higher, it will have to be impressive to distract from the equally extensive dust collection. But my family has been a hoarder of books for some time, I'm afraid." from the almost fond regard he gives the shelves, his veracity on that last sentiment may be a touch suspect.

The two end up facing one another again in about the midpoint of the room judged on all three axis.

The latest question elicits a flicker of a grimace, through Charles shrugs nonchalantly. "No, I admit until very recently I was a devout skeptic of spells and sorcery." he admits, amused at the degree to which that has since been proven wrong. "And I suffered a rather serious injury as a child. I can only suppose it had something to do with the shock. Suffice it to say trying to distance myself from it worked far better than I had anticipated."

*

Strange nods. He understands all too well the concept of an unexpected change leading to further expansions of the mind. His hands bear the marks of unfeeling Fate.

"It's not uncommon for sudden life events to make us question a good number of things. You seem no worse for the wear for it," he adds in a respectful tone. His attention flicks back to the books and the Sorcerer smirks. "I think you should come to the Sanctum one time and see my collection, if you're not bothered by the concept of magic. There are some very interesting books that discuss the metaphysical connections of alchemy, for example, that might appeal to your logical mind."

He watches a student begin to pack up her books at a far desk with a hint of wistfulness. "Ever feel like you want things back to where they were before your life got complicated? Eh, never mind," and he scratches at one silvered temple momentarily with a wry laugh.

*

Oh, I don't know." Charles chuckles, also watching the student. She pauses when she notes the two men apparently sleeping, and visibly takes pains to walk more quietly as she exits. "There's a lot I wouldn't trade." this house actually being full of a sense of life and family now being high on that list.

"As to your books, quite the contrary," Charles says, ghostly hands spreading without any remaining hint of occult concern. "I would very much like to see them. Having discovered there is, after all some solid matter to what I took to be fancies, I would like nothing better than to increase my understanding. How else are we to coexist with each other or our world without it, after all?" the platitude comes with a self-aware smile, though it doesn't seem to make him any less earnest for it."

*

That self-aware smile is returned by the Sorcerer with one of quiet appreciation and esteem.

"When you have some free time, call me or simply drop by. I'm generally around the Sanctum and if not, will return soon." His Sight-brightened eyes shutter off for just a moment. In a quick frisson of expanding Mystic touch, he takes in the general well-being of the Institute. Some of the occupants are still awake, lying in bed, talking, pacing. Some are nearly asleep, hovering on the edge of restful slumber. Others are well within their dreams. All are alive, vibrantly so, and those who swim through nightly reverie are granted a breath of protection to their journeys by his light passing. He knows of nightmares. Let none exist here tonight.

Strange looks at the Professor once more before he murmurs, "This is a precious thing you watch over here, Charles, this peace. Especially in this time." He sighs, becoming a touch melancholy. "As Sorcerer Supreme, I feel obligated to warn you that it may not hold. I'm sorry that I can't grant you more than this, my friend, but duty compels me otherwise. Believe me that the wards I cast will grant you as much protection as I can manage."

*

"I'd very much consider visiting," Charles replies with a bemused expression, "Only after the apparent fate my letters have suffered, I wonder if I currently have the address to a black hole in place of your home? Is there any arcane protocol I ought know before I dare try the knocker?" and for a moment his smile is much more amused..until the change in topic sobers his expression.

Charles glances out towards the rest of the building himself, vaguely aware of the shift in the general mental landscape as Strange wards the dreams of those sleeping. He shoots his friend a quizzical look. "..I think that peace has already been shaken." he says quietly.

He's never wanted this place to be separate from the world, even if it is meant to be a safe haven from it. And those living here were far from unaffected by the tragedies that have recently rocked the nation. "Though I intend to defend it with everything I have." he adds, and that is nothing but a statement of simple fact. "..And so I don't suppose you could tell me what makes you say it may not hold, even if you cannot tell me more about why?"

*

Strange seems to chew on the inside of his cheek for a second before replying carefully, "Because the Institute is a place of sanctuary and many people resent or misunderstand peace. We both know this. The future isn't set in stone as is. It…can manifest in variations of a single thread, though it doesn't drift far from its original fated path. If I told you more, you might prepare incorrectly and then it would be my guilt to bear if you suffered for it." His shoulders rise up from their little droop, as if recalibrating the weight of the knowledge on his shoulders. Still, those glowing eyes remain shuttered. "Please don't dwell on it, Charles, though I know it's easier said than done. Who knows? I could be wrong." Though there's a glitter that may signify he's never been wrong. Or at least never admitted to it.

Back to a safer topic, though one last point: "Look up the concept of time-space paradox. It helps. As far as the Sanctum goes, no — just knock," the good Doctor explains. "The wards will tell me it's you and then we can discuss the metaphysics of alchemy. You'd be surprised how many real-world applications could potentially exist."

*

The explanation is accepted respectfully, though Charles' mouth quirks— he's aware of the theory, but where Stephen Strange is concerned, he tries not to assume much of anything applies without first verifying as much. "Fair enough. I have a new student that could perhaps benefit from your insight— though that's a matter for another time. For now, perhaps you could write me up a list of what preparations we can make in advance for your help? Besides," he adds, "Our tea is getting cold."

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