1964-06-12 - The Platypus and the Magician
Summary: The Living Vampire seeks out the Sorcerer Supreme for assistance.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange morbius 

A quiet early evening with the Witch off running her errands on the Path means some quiet time to himself. This is the one day of the week where old Mrs. O'Riley keeps later hours and Strange takes advantage of this. He's at his usual place, in his usual chair with his back to the wall, and — as usual — nose-deep in some old tome. This time, it's a triste on Atlantis from the Greeks and he muddles through it while he sips at his blackberry-and-sage tea. A little slurping sound proves his level of detachment from his surroundings before he rolls his lips, licks at them, and sets down the cup upon its saucer.

Flipping a page means a little schiff of sound and then he's back to it, leaning three fingers against his temple as he concentrates on the dead language.


The soft ringing of the bell on the front door to the tea shop interrupts the peace and serenity of the outlaying area. Simple and sweet, the silvery tone resonates over the sound of the street outside before it falls silent again with the shutting of the door. Shutting out of the world.

Not all of it, however.

There is very little about the figure that enters that doesn't scream 'you don't belong here'. Swathed in a tattered overcoat and hood from which stringy lengths of black wavy hair spill from, he (presumably from the broader build) is dressed too warm for the weather, every inch of his skin covered and taking care to keep his face concealed with a generous bow of his head. A strip of black hair on a deathly pale chin beneath a mouth with too many teeth inside it are the only immediately glimpsable features as he shuffles toward the counter.

There's a weight to the way he carries himself, however. His posture doesn't immediately scream 'predator', but there certainly is something off. Homeless, likely. Though a turn of that hood attempts a glance down the way, toward the Sorcerer Supreme's table. A blood red eye set into sunken skin glimpsed behind a shock of black wavy hair.


Licking at his thumb pad, Strange then carefully separates the aged pages before turning one again. Yes, he just did that. An archivist might have an apoplectic fit. Thankfully, this particular tome is resistant to moisture per a very clever if not ancient charm woven into its very being. Atlantis was a very wet place, after all. He only has eyes for the book…at least, until old Mrs. O'Riley speaks up.

"If yer lookin' for hand-outs, lad, I ran out earlier today." She's no wilting wallflower, this Irish matron with a spine of steel, but even she looks unsettled from behind her counter.

His gaze slowly rises up the newcomer's body, observing what he can from whatever counts as shoes, and up to the hooded face, in which sits that off-colored eye in rubescent hues. If this being has any inclination towards the Mystical, he'll see the celestially-hued aura of the Sorcerer Supreme fracture from its glass-pond stillness to disturbed ripples about him. There's no static in the air, not just yet, but…the scent of petrichor is a suddenly intrusive note atop baked goods and the various teas.


Oh! Sanguine attention falls from Strange's table swiftly as he's addressed, lifting his chin slightly to regard the older woman; his nose has a peculiar slope to it as well. Pale as a sheet—no, pale like a corpse.

"No…" Morbius' voice is soft, somewhat nasal and accented with soft rolls on his 'R's and a decided lack of ability to use the 'sh'digraph. Russian? No. Greek. A practiced ear can differentiate. "Madam, I have money, yes." A pale hand wrests itself from a pocket; digits long and angular, his skin looking somewhat papery and puckered on his bones at the moment and fingernails too thick to be, well, normal. Like the retracted claws of an animal. They do not look terribly friendly as they sink back into the confines of his jacket. "Something warm. Anything warm. Pah-leeze." Another snatched glimpse toward Strange's table stolen. Assuring that the man remains.


A certain Witch would know the difference in linguistics in a heartbeat. Strange is much harder-pressed even as he listens closely. The secondary check-in is enough to ratchet up his pulse by another few notches. Something is…not quite right here. Some variables are not adding up.

2 + 2 doesn't equal 5.

He watches the newcomer in his ragged clothing with the intensity of his own brand of predatory interest. Defensive, mind you, more like a large hunting cat noting an intruder upon territory and weighing the off-hand chance that a simple snarl will shoo them away.

Old Mrs. O'Riley nods, looking relieved that the man is a customer rather than someone without money. She would have felt terribly guilty sending him off empty-handed. "I've got some scones comin' outta the oven shortly. Will yah be wantin' some tea too then? Menu's right there," and she tap-taps the paper sheet taped to the counter's surface. He could get just about anything given the variety.

The Sorcerer reaches for his tea and exchanges tome for both hands about the demi-tasse. He sips at it and all the while watches silently.


Magic does not touch this creature, whatever it is. And whatever it may be, it reads as human…sort of? His aura is in a state of flux; a cast of cloudy gray dims the shades like a cataract over a person's eye, which seems normal for someone dying or sick, but there is nothing wasting about the way his aura acts. It is active and moves like an animal's. Always watching, always listening, learning, calculating. Deep reds support the sunset-yellow-oranges of a calculated, scientific mind; yet fearful yellow dazzles the edges, trying to bully a vital, active aura into normalcy and failing miserably. Not a hint of earthy green to give him grounding or health, nor the higher spiritual realms of purple nor— no, wait— a dark, muddy blue incites fear of truth, of expression, of self. Lightning shocks of black thread throughout, like veins in the circulatory system, adding self-loathing, unreleased anger, frustration and troubled past to this conflicting, non-sensical mass of an aura that seems to be actively warring with itself. An elongated, but still young (relatively) life force ebbs and flows in uneven pulses, as if not sure if it's there for the long haul or about to give out just yet. Not a great impression. But not magical.

Emaciated seeming fingers pull a wallet from his breastpocket, trembling for a moment as he carefully plucks out a bill with his fingernails and murmurs, "No. No scone, please. Just tea. Just…" another spike of a glance toward the far occupied table and swiftly away, pivoting smoothly to show Strange his back. "Just tea, please. Honey. Black. The tea, that is, please. Thank you, madame." Polite but nearly stuttering with his words. His aura deepens; sanguine and anxious as he sets the bill on the counter and takes a physical step back from it.


The minute lift of his chin at the matte-black coat, turned to face him in lieu of the man's face, is one of Strange's tells of interest. Oh dear — curiosity hasn't killed him yet, but it's certainly led to some burnt fingers. Scars. Nightmares. You name it. Still, it reigns in this moment and he slowly blinks. The rise of his lids reveal frosted-lilac irises, the Sight suffusing the natural blue to mimic his own aural hues.

Fascinating, the story told to him in spikes of frenetic watercolor strokes. It's those black veins that bring him to narrow his look. He's seen those before…but it's the fluctuations of brilliant life that throw him for the final loop. Blinking again suppresses the Sight and he sighs, the steam rising from his drink swirling out from him.

"Shepherd's Tea," he says, cultured baritone loud enough to be heard by both newcomer and shop-owner. Old Mrs. O'Riley looks around the stranger to him and nods, giving him a faintly relieved smile.

"I think yer right, Doctor. That'll do the lad some good." She takes the money, makes appropriate change, and pushes it back towards the man. "Sit wherever yah like, lad. I'll be over with yer tea shortly." Turning to the back prep counter, she goes about getting a pot and cup ready.


The third party in the small shop inserts his opinion into the mundane task of choosing one's tea, pulling back by merit of conversation Morbius' attention. A shift of one worn shoe pivots him around once again toward the Doctor, plucking at the tip of his hood with two lengthy fingers, obscuring the majority of his face. Quiet, he considers the choice, then nods, slowly, shifting back toward the counter to gather his change up and shove it into a pocket that should have at least several holes in it, judging by the repair of the rest of the article of clothing.

"Thank you, Madame," murmuring quietly, his mouth moves slowly, carefully forming those thin-sounding words. Punctuating them with a shuffle-shift of his shoes against the floor, Morbius considers the choice of table and finally that of the Sorcerer Supreme. Hesitation stiffens his frame for a moment, but rather unfortunately for dear Stephen and his hopes for making progress on that book, the cowled man strolls in his direction, his thin, papery hands hanging loose at his sides, visible and weaponless, but one look at his nails says that 'weaponless' is not the same as 'not dangerous'.

"Shepherd's tea," his words are low, almost delicate sounding as they trip over the flick of his tongue, lips moving minimalistically over the awkward bulge of his teeth, still visible with the heavy lean forward of his hood. "I have not had it in some years. Thank you…for the memory. You," fingers uncoil in an articulate flower of a gesture toward the man, or perhaps it is to his clothing, which wouldn't necessarily be hard to describe to someone. "Are Doctor Stephen Strange, yes?" Well, so much for coincidence.


The book might as well not exist for the rapt, scalpel-sharp attention the unknown man receives, especially when Strange's full name, including title, is lisped to him.

"I am he," replies the Sorcerer quietly, managing an unflustered professionalism despite the silent warning in the intensity of his gaze. "I don't believe we've met, however. Your name?" He leans back into his chair fully, resting with a confidence despite the delicacy with which he holds his cup of tea.

Mrs. O'Riley is quick to bring a kettle to boiling, but is having trouble finding where she placed the honey. It had been busy earlier in the day and she mutters to herself as she begins rifling through the contents of the counter, both atop and in cupboards. It takes time, given her age and stiff joints, which means the Shepherd's Tea might be a bit longer in forthcoming.


"No, no," the softly purring voice confirms they have indeed not met. From the glimpse at his aura, Strange /knows/ the figure is wrought with anxiety, though he does not shake. He does not shift his weight on his feet. The outward signs of his anxiety are few, even seem to calm a little under that laser point focus he's tossed. Animal instinct. Do not seem afraid, or else.

"My name is Doctor Michael Morbius," Morbius articulates carefully in that rolling accent, his lips moving as little as possible to manage the words. Long, spindly fingers gather and flower across his chest, pointed nails resting delicately as pins against the fabric of his jacket. Arrogance does not touch his voice, regardless of his prizes and renown in some circles. He further explains. "I seeked…sook? Mm. I have been looking for you. To…confer on a matter."


Now the name given to him…some bell rings and it's not the silvery ring of the trio inset to be triggered by an opening door. There's a vague connection in the Sorcerer's mind to papers — no, journals? Journals from Europe, they'd have to be, given the heavy accent. Strange nods slowly, acknowledging that he was sought and he's been found.

"Well, you found me," he comments lightly with a lazy outwards gesturing of one hand, palm up. "Pull up a chair, Doctor, and we can confer about…whatever it is that's on your mind." Do note that there's no other chair at the table, meaning that it's entirely up to his guest to decide where to place himself. "You call tell me how you came across my name. Oh, I believe the sun has set now, if you're concerned about the ambient light." It's tossed out as a mild, helpful notation.

Poor Mrs. O'Riley. Still can't find that honey. Something goes thunk behind the counter and Strange cranes his head to look around the tattered height of black coat. "I'm fine, lad," comes the creaky growl, and the Sorcerer smirks to himself before turning his attention back to Morbius.


Morbius inclines his head, hood inclining with the gesture as he turns to search the area for a seat once offered. Plenty of small tables speckle the little tea shop and spindly fingers wrap around the back of a chair relocating it easily in a hand with little effort exuded. A mindful tap of legs down on the floor once more opposite the side of the table Strange settled at. Before sitting, the clatter in the kitchen draws attention in that direction, arching an upswept eyebrow mutely. A faint look of curiosity, some very human concernor just jumpy paranoiathe pale creature settles down into his relocated seat, folding his hands together on the surface of the table. A studious sort of gesture, ignoring the fact that his fingers seem half mummified and tipped with talons.

Lazily does Morbius cast a sanguine glance toward the window. "My visage is more reason to keep myself cowled, Doctor." Rolling his attention back toward the man across the table from him. "We share a previous profession, but it was not that which brought me to your name. You came to my attention thanks to more current happenings and activities. I am afraid I may have exhausted my own talents in…this area."

In spite of his previous comments on keeping himself hidden, clawed fingertips reach inside his hood, pressing the cowl back to fall to his shoulders to give Strange an unobscured view of the man's face. The tips of pale pointed ears sticking up through lank waves of dark hair now visible, though they are not the most concerning of his pale, inhuman features. "Have you had any encounters with vampirism, Doctor?"


Strange too briefly entertains in observing what few passersby pass the shop window beyond, not a one of them looking within. They all seem to be on their way home from various tasks — work, shopping, social affairs. It's no huge surprise to him that the hood remains up. He has the distinct and steadily-growing suspicion that those ruddy eyes have little natural explanation in line with albinism.

He should have put the tea down earlier, dammit, and the demi-tasse makes a quiet clink on its saucer even as the cowl reveals one of the many hunches zipping about his quicksilver mind.

As the Witch once said so elegantly: effing black flames of Karma on a stick.

Even as his chair slides backwards for the sudden retreat, clattering to its side at the end, the Sorcerer is making rapid gestures. With the sound of delicate glass shattering a thousand times over, its echoes in windchimes and hollow metal, the immediate vicinity is pulled into the Mirror Dimension. Better to tackle this problem there than in the presence of old Mrs. O'Riley.

"I knew it! Did the Count send you?! You back off!!!" Even as he snarls, the crimson scarf unfurls into the Cloak of Levitation about his shoulders. Hands freed of necessary gestures now glow with violently-neon-gold light and flickersnap, now sport the paired mandala-blades favored by the graduates of Kamar-Taj. Their counter-rotating rings move slowly as the script within hums and sings to some otherwordly tune. Strange's eyes glow too behind dark, slitted lashes, the same hue as lightning behind stormclouds.


One would think that with the array of senses that Morbius has, he should have read enough into the conversation and climate to understand that throwing his cards on the table like that was a bad idea. But desperation makes fools of us all. And circumstance has made Morbius very, very desperate.

Even before the outburst pinning all sorts of suspicion on Morbius, the flashpaper-quick tingle of the ethereal brushing Morbius' skin makes the hairs across his skin stand on end a split second before the world becomes surrounded by prismatic walls. If that wasn't enough to be considered an attack on him, the brilliance forming in the sorcerer's hands rouses a visceral response in the pale creature; Morbius' features contort with a snarl as he presses to his feet, knocking his chair over backwards in his haste. A pale hand splays defensively over his face to block from the light, claws extending like a jungle cat's nails like some bad Nosferatu cliche as Morbius turns his head away and hisses, a mouth full of extended canines and laterals sharpened to points bared.

A quick boot to the under side of the table they shared moments earlier, propelling the piece of tea time furniture toward the sorcerer. "You're a madman! You know nothing of what you speak!" His accent sharpens and spikes.


The table's scraping across the floor warps weirdly with the acoustic effects of the dimension. A quick leap grounded in years of dodging attacks as Sorcerer Supreme (plus a boost from that ever-perceptive Cloak) allows Strange to avoid being clothes-lined by it. His landing is near-silent and he takes the high ground, assuming a martial pose once again.

"Don't I?! You and your kind, skulking around, leaving despair and death in your wake!" Nearly-invisible scarring on his neck flares in phantom pain, making his knee-jerk teeth-baring deepen more for a passing second. He has no sharp canines like the ones currently menacing him from not a dozen feet away.


"What have I done!?" Morbius hisses back at the figure poised atop the table. Yelling back and forth, posturing rather loudly in the prismatic surroundings the sorcerer has conjured. Morbius' hands are splayed wide to his sides like ten spindly daggers, hunched down in an aggressive, feral stance, bearing his teeth, those eyes seem to glow with crimson outrage. "A madness has fallen over you, Magician. I come to you for assistance and you babble nonsense!"


"I don't care to think of what you've done! You're threatening me and that's one hell of a mistake!" It feels rather like yelling at an arch-predator and somehow keeping it at bay with a flashlight and making oneself look bigger. Posturing, it's all about the posturing, even in the world of the big, bad, and supernatural.

Strange himself keeps up the bluff — biggest, baddest, most proficient at the Arts beyond the pale. He hasn't been attacked, but any second…now….wait, what? Maybe Morbius himself can see the stiff and readied lines of the Sorcerer's stance settle ever so slightly as he eyes the vampire.

"…did you say 'assistance'?" The word is dripping with acidic disbelief, the consonant hissed a bit. "What vampire in the seven hells needs my assistance?"


Morbius' fierce countenance morphs into a grimace of a grin, sharp and vicious, as he laughs at Strange's indignation. "Threat!?" Red eyes flare to life in a glowing crimson wash in his eyes, drowning out his pupils and making him look all the more inhuman. The hackles on the back of his neck raising his hair up in back, the fear response in him just waiting for the first sign of an attack as his eyes flick back and forth between Strange's hands. "I can show you what threat is if that is what you wish, magician, but you are a novice if you believe I've begun to 'threaten' you." Injustice dripping from Morbius' tongue as thick as his rolling accent, but he does not attack, even with his blood raging in his ears like acid. Whispers of the devil himself surging in his head.

"YES! Assistance. I speak English, do you!?" Morbius pants in that heavy accent and shakes his head, adrenaline making him shake and eyes spark. Urgency takes over his frame. "Strange. You…are no sorcerer supreme. I was mistaken." With that, with no understanding of the mirror realm, the vampire will try to turn and flee.


He frowns in confusion as this Morbius actually turns tail in the dimension. …nope, this won't do.

Answers are needed. What vampire does not come gunning for the Sorcerer Supreme, having had the man at a massive disadvantage?

…what vampire also calls him a simple magician?


Dismissing one mandala, Strange simply exerts his will upon the crystalline walls that reflect reality beyond and they shore up abruptly, closing off any sense of escape. "Don't toss my mantle around lightly, blood-sucker. I am Sorcerer Supreme and the real threat here." His baritone is smooth and low, the growl of a guard dog simply watching now. "You could be an ashen smear on the floor, but you're still animate. Now…let's try this again. Assistance?" With a roll of a foot, he lifts from the table, the crimson Cloak flaring up semi-widely behind him. Back a few feet, he floats, never losing altitude. The single Mystical tieshan remains active, glowing with presence but not forcefully.


Morbius, fully intent on launching himself /through/ the front store window to escape, skids to a halt as he watches the window turn prismatic, cutting the world beyond them into tiny reflective bits of itself. Adrenaline screaming through his veins as his exit becomes, well, if not blocked, there is certainly a sense of danger in just trying to crash through whatever the sorcerer has erected.

Spinning around on the toes of his feet with the agility of a supernatural dancer, Morbius hisses at Strange dismissively in that gliding Greecian accent, "The Sorcerer Supreme is the greatest magical practitioner in zee realm! YOUR actions prove you unworthy." Morbius has decided and declared, a low-rolling groan of a laugh contorting his smooth accent into something more expected of a sinister vampire when Strange reminds him what he could be.

Morbius scoffs at the threat an instant later and spits on the floor between then disdainfully. "I do not discuss delicate matters with attackers." Cautious, the vampire slowly straightens himself back into the poise and posture of a man rather than a feral beast backed into a corner, even if his eyes continue to glow that sickening sangine shade. A clawed hand waves around the area. "Drop this…trick if you want to speak civilly. Otherwise let. Me. Go."


The smile that Morbius next receives is so chockful of repressed mirth that it twinkles in Strange's eyes before dying out into a cool smirk.

"Civilly? Hmm, civilly. I've been incredibly civil given your kind's proclivities. Let me see…" At his throat appears, in a flash of citrine light, the Eye of Agamotto. Its inset gemstone winks brightly before calming. "I must still be the Sorcerer Supreme. That perk comes with the title," he explains dryly. "Have you been touched? Accosted? I don't believe I've set a single finger or spell upon you. This is simply another dimension where the mundane won't see our true natures in action." A lazy break of his wrist dismisses the remaining mandala and he then folds his arms, looking down his nose at Morbius. "You asked for assistance, I'm listening. Speak."


A very unimpressed look greets Strange's smirk as Morbius rolls his shoulders back slightly, fierce features smoothing out to something once again more human than monster. "Your presumptuousness is incredibly pedestrian." Flinging underhanded commentary back and forth, Morbius stays where he is, keeping a close eye on the 'Sorcerer Supreme', as he's snarkily dubbed. "Do not bark orders at me, Strange; I am not a dog. Considering your reaction, I can safely assume you've encountered vampirism before, then."


A 'hmph' dismisses the accusation of pedestrian canine-like qualities.

"An excellent assumption. They paid dearly for their actions against me. However…you haven't done anything beyond bluster and look appropriately undead." Strange never drops the red gaze, bold fearlessness shown in the action. He makes an educated stab in the dark at the definition of 'assistance'. "Did you get turned against your wishes? I'm aware of how to reverse vampirism, but it becomes more difficult as time passes. The symbiosis of the virus…curse, spell, whatever you want to classify it as — it becomes deeply intermeshed with the body. An acute case is painful but doable. Chronic vampirism…" He peters out, waiting to measure the response given to him.


"I am not undead," Michael narrows his eyes, glaring at Strange in indignation. The same sort of indignation that comes when someone misidentifies a Japanese person as a Filipino.

His response is measured and cultured, once again falling into that deep sense of control and care which Morbius carried himself with before their little showdown. A slight narrowing of his eyes as Strange informs him of his experience and findings. The possibilities. Fingers slowly curl and release with a certain restlessness that betrays a remaining urge which is being ignored, though the specifics are not entirely clear. "But you have cured it. You have seen this done."


Hmm. Not undead. But he looks undead, so…if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and has a bill…it's a platypus? Strange remembers back to the aura he saw earlier and measures it against his knowledge of vampires at the speed of thought. Hmm.

"I have seen this done, yes. I'm…intimately familiar with the process." Slowly, he descends to land upon the floor of the tea-shop's compliment in the dimension. The Cloak relaxes about him in smoothly-flowing lines, its collars remaining on-pointe and, for the moment, inanimate. "Your energies read as conflicting." So he agrees with Morbius's earlier statement, even if the Sorcerer is about as trusting as a cornered wildcat. "Despite classifying yourself as a vampire, you're not undead." An upwards lilt grants a questioning to the statement. "Do you have a pulse?"


"I do," Morbius shoots back, conversational, but quick fire as the two doctors exchange information as swiftly as possible, like a consult. Just with a lot more hissing, posturing and mysticism. "I am alive. I did not come by this," Morbius lifts his clawed hands up, looking down at his palms and the curved talons from his fingertips. "state…by being bitten, but through scientific means. Unfortunately, I have exhausted the realm of scientific understanding to reverse it."


"Hold on, one second." Strange accents this with a quick horizontal draw of his hand before his body. "You managed that through science?" Oh no, now he's really curious. Morbius, what have you done. With marked control, the Sorcerer takes a few steps out from around the table while remaining within reach of it, still apparently wishing to keep it nearby in case of use such as: shield, projectile, charmed battering ram…you name it.

"How in the seven hells did you manage that?! The latest journal in neuroscience — it didn't even touch on — you had to have published something. How?!"


It's a marked moment when Morbius isn't sure if he should be proud or embarrassed. Perhaps a bit of both. Science bros can kiss the most unpleasant part of his pasty ass.

Though he was never a prideful man before, there there is still a sense of pride as he modestly inclines his head toward Strange, lifting his chin high again. "Neuroscience was not the avenue I proceeded with; I am a biochemist. I was born with a blood-born disease and cured it, though, there were some…" Morbius trails and looks at his hands again, then back to Strange. "Side effects." A mad scientist vampire. Goodie. "I worked in Greece during the war and the civil war with the communists. Much of the papers were commandeered at the time by the various powers that be, but I was very prolific still in my career. You could find papers which hinted at the early stages of discovery." Oh, and a Nobel Prize, but Morbius allows Strange to discover that on his own if he's actually interested in looking up the man who somehow scienced himself into a vampire.


"I intend to search these papers out then," Strange replies. "Biochemistry…huh. You must have had access to some very rare components. Still…how?" The Sorcerer travels another step closer, curiosity weighing out over prudence. An arm's reach beyond the table now, though his hands are folded more loosely now, as if he knows that by leaving its space, he's risking something.

It's probably that Morbius could be construed as a 'tame' vampire and some people confront their fears head on in risky ways.

"What have you tried to rid yourself of it?"


Morbius observes carefully while Strange slowly approaches like a man approaching a rabid raccoon he's cornered. There's an unappreciative narrowing of his unnerving sanguine gaze as he stares the cautious sorcerer down. "Not terribly rare." Just smart. The insinuation hangs there in the air. "Am I sensing some doubt in your tone, Doctor? I may not be an egotist, but I will not suffer the criticism of others when I am very clearly living proof of what is possible."

Morbius releases a breath. "I'm not certain you would understand it all if I were to explain it to you, but nothing of mystical means. I am, admittedly, a novice in this realm. Which is why I was seeking you out."


"I see." Strange returns that circumspect look, equally unimpressed with the implication of being not intelligent enough to understand it. Ah, science nerd battles. The Neuroscientists always made fun of the Biochemists back at Columbia.

He then sighs, shrugging his shoulders. "Well, you found the right man. If I can undo it, I will. Give me…three days." Ah, the Mystical number three. "I'll combine what I know with further research in the matter. It'll come in handy somehow in the future, I'm sure…" A grumbling drop in volume accedes that vampires will probably ping on his radar again. Somehow. Inevitably. "Care to meet here again? It is unspoken neutral ground. You can expect to speak with me unaccosted."


Morbius arches a brow and looks around at the prism that he's found himself presumably locked within. The same brow arched as he turns the look on Strange, "Neutral grounds, you say." A certain level of skepticism hanging in the air around the man, though Michael does indeed nod and slowly lift his hood back up over his head, obscuring the dark waves of his Mediterranean hair and some of his deathly pale features. "Yes. If you need more information, I can direct you to the surviving papers on my work that's applicable. Simply put, I was focusing on certain proteins and genetic strands found in the blood and DNA in vampire bats modified by electrical impulses. Attempts with reversal have yielded nothing, though I will admit that my work has been, uh…less consistent."


Skepticism, meet perfectly understanding and completely unrepentant lurking grin. It doesn't show completely, just ghosts at the corners of Strange's mouth to cause faint dimples.

"I understand enough, I think. I have your name, which means finding the journals will take some digging…but I have contacts." Just because he was overseas for a few years doesn't mean he didn't make certain to keep access to archival information. "Three days, neutral ground. I won't promise it simply because this is a trust exercise, in some…mucked up way," he grouses. The collars of the Cloak flitter.


Morbius' eyes flicker slightly toward the collar on the cloak while it flitters a little bit, shifting back to the man it mantles. "Of course. I am not expecting some— pardon the word choice— magical solution to fix everything over night. However, desperate times…" He trails off, leaving the rest to the ether, unspoken. "I have no reason to attack a man willing to confer on these matters, not that that will put you at ease when dealing with me, but I can't help myself."


More of the tension leaves Strange's body. It's now simply a cautious stance he engages in, the hair-fine tension to create distance still there but not as obviously anymore.

"I acknowledge what you are, but also that you've done no harm." There's a formality to it, a weight to the words as if it's almost a ritualistic exchange. "You are of neutral party to me. I will aid you as I can…Doctor." He finally, for the first time since their encounter slipped into the Mirror Dimension, glances away. He waits, patiently, for the retreating back of old Mrs. O'Riley to disappear into a back room of the shop before glancing back to Morbius. "Ready to go back to the real world?" The shadows of dimples appear again. Gods, but the man loves his showmanship.


Satisfied over the exchange, ritual and all, Morbius lifts his chin a hair, then nods. The title does surprise him however, his brows lofting upwards slightly with the word. "You have my appreciation, Doctor." Formality, again, though it may seem no less genuine for it. Another glance over the prismatic shield in the little pocket dimension he has built. Finally granted enough ease to actually look at the space around him and scrutinize it curiously. "For now, yes, perhaps." Those odd eyes roll upwards and around, processing still with that brilliance of his former self. "There is still so much we do not know at large." For all his showboating, it's hard to say that Morbius is 'awed' by this display, but approaches it with intrigue, not nearly at ease enough with his company to grant him that satisfaction. Another light tug at the tip of his hood with clawed fingertips to inch it over his face, Morbius inclines his head gently to Strange and waits. Though he isn't certain for what.


Nothing too crazy happens. Strange first glances to one of the collars of the crimson Cloak. In a delightful display of relic finesse, it summarily loses metric yards of fabric volume to curl about his neck once more as a scarf. The fringed tassels shift about and then settle, almost conveying contentment. Then comes the tricky little gestures, flashes of fingers set in nearly-impossible angles and alignments to one another, and as fast as the dimension came on, it collapses around them with another faint lingering ring, like someone dropping a set of windchimes in an airplane hanger.

"Quick, before she comes back in. We'll have to let her blame it on her memory," he murmurs, snagging his chair and uprighting it before sitting again. A sigh and he eyes Morbius across the table. "Unless you'd rather go, in which case…I'm not stopping you. Three days, Doctor." With tea cup in hand, it's as if he were never ruffled.

Which is lies.


Magic falls, the prism falls and it's all very anti-climactic in a way. Subtlety isn't an art lost on him, but there was still that expectation. It's Strange's voice that calls him back to the moment once again, several swift steps forward to grasp the table and move it back to its original location, effortlessly. Not that moving a coffee shop table is a great feat by any means. A momentary glance toward the area where the older woman was making his tea. "It may be better if I go. I've taken up enough of your time, Doctor." A couple steps away, then glances back toward the table and the man who sits at it. "Nice scarf."


"Careful, you might give it a complex," the Sorcerer replies before giving Morbius a faint nod. It's more duelist to duelist than proper respect, but there's the safe-guard of neutral grounds and a promise of no bloodshed to keep a hesitant trust a-float. "Until next time."

From the back room bustles old Mrs. O'Riley and she pauses at the end of the counter, seeing both men there by the table again. A very confused blink-blink and then she scowls at Strange. "Young man, where were you?"

Strange manages to look perfectly innocent. "I…was sitting here, reading my book and speaking with my fellow doctor about various…sundry things?" The questioning lilt implies equal confusion. Only the twinkling in his steel-blue eyes could be the give-away.

Mrs O'Riley then shifts her focus to Morbius, in his cowl, and she frowns at him too. "You in on this trick, lad?"


And nobody even lost their honor, and not a drop of blood spilled. For the best.

Morbius nods and turns to take himself out when Mrs. O'Riley returns from the back and centers her attention on Stephen to start the interrogation. He pauses just a moment too long before that gaze is turned on him as well and the threat of Mrs. O'Riley's wrath is upon him. "I'm not sure what you mean, madame. I'm no magician. Can't even do card tricks."


Both gentlemen are privy to the best scowl that old Mrs. O'Riley can muster.

"Fine, play it like that, will yah. I'll tally this'n on yer account, Doctor." She points at Strange, who simply rolls his lips in against a laugh and tries to look more innocent. "As fer you — " This is Morbius in question now. "I can't serve yer tea without the honey, so you'll need to come back another time. I have a note on his ledger stating this." 'His' being the continually open tab that the good Doctor keeps here at the shop. "Just come in and you'll get yer tea."


Morbius keeps inching toward the door once that spotlight leaves him, but for being a vampire with super speed, he's just not fast enough to stop the woman from turning back to him, one hand on the doorknob. "You're too kind. I'll be back. Say, a few days? Thank you for looking." Hey, good timing! He'll even have a nice drink waiting for him.

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