1964-06-16 - Farmer's Market Fiasco (A "What If" Tale)
Summary: The Sorcerer practices disguise and patience while the eldest Prince of Asgard indulges in correcting bullies and honey.
Related: The 'What If' Tales.
Theme Song: None
strange thor 

"It's just a test…just a test…" The low mezzo-soprano murmur is cajoling even as the one speaking meanders through the Greenwich Village farmer's market. From all around the outskirts of New York proper, the wares are varied. The fruits and vegetables of the seasons are filtering in now and each stand showcases its wares proudly. The hunt is on for a particular stand, out of northern New York, and the cases of honeycomb as well as jars of golden, sugary deliciousness up for a few paltry dollars. Well worth the time, effort, and cost in the case of keeping peace in both the Sanctum and reality proper.

Steel-blue eyes scan both sides of the narrow side-road and the sigh to escape pert lips is long-suffering. "Dammit, I forgot how short I am like this." The dark-brunette, with her silver streaks of hair tucked behind ears, wears the storm-blue battle-leathers so familiar to another build entirely. About the hourglass waist, a sash in brightest red. The Cloak, of course, in disguise. Perhaps another drama student out on the lamb, skipping class in lieu of fresh goods for the fridge?


"Your comfort with changing your form thusly is… unnerving, good Doctor," says Thor with a low rumble, and looking everywhere but at Strange. "I still do not understand why thou would shift thy form to a frail and winsome lass, Strange," he says. If Strange stands out even a little, it pales in comparison to Thor — hulking already at six foot four, he wears glittering armor of Asgard, a flowing red cape, and has hammer and helmet hanging from his leather belt.

"Are you dodging some villain who seeks to ambush you? Or is this some other, more nefarious plot?"


More prickly than usual, Strange glances over — nay, up…up-up-up at Thor. 5'5" doesn't make for an imposing presence without the steely glint in her eyes.

"I have to stay alive to continue to be Sorcerer Supreme, yes? One day, some enemy practitioner might attempt to enchant me to this state and expect me to be confused. I'm telling you, your highness, the look on their face when they realize that this doesn't change a damn thing…gods below, it'll be damn worth it. Be prepared. You know, Boy Scouts." The brunette pauses and shakes her head. "No, never mind, you wouldn't know of the Boy Scouts. As far as comfortable? Hmm," and the petite Sorceress shrugs. "One can't be close-minded and remain Sorcerer Supreme. 'Impossible' means nothing to me anymore. One has to be…cosmopolitan? Worldly — otherworldly."


"I cannot fathom what sort of enemy would blunderingly attack you with such complex magics," Thor snorts, unphased by the tiny-but-fierce glare from Stephanie Strange. "And to what end? A ritual designed to do nothing more than be … mildly inconvenient for you?" he inquires, brow tilting. He looks down at Strange and it's clear he's chivvying the Sorceror a little just for fun.

"I think you just like dressing like a woman," Thor says, amusement on his features. He laughs for no reason and walks through the crowd with a heavy booted stride, trying to find the vendor's stall.


The roll of the Sorcerer's eyes is accented with a scoff dripping of disdain.

"The number of things I need to wear on my body in order to remain acceptable in public is infuriating. No. I do not like dressing as such. If you can't fathom such an enemy, it's no surprise to me that your brother is the Trickster between the two of you." The dark-brunette pauses before a stand featuring some citrus fruit and considers the two picked up, one in each finely-boned hand. "Perhaps I should mention your disdain for such 'parlor tricks' the next I speak to him. I have a feeling that you'd reconsider your opinion on walking about as the fairer sex if it were set upon you without warning."

The Asgadian Prince is given a coy smile over Strange's shoulder before Strange goes back to picking out five of the oranges with care. Must pick the best.


"My brother is a trickster because he lazed about during weapons training days," Thor tells Strange, rolling his eyes tolerantly. "But the power of Thor knows not gender or appearance, good Doctor. Mjolnir is my strong right arm and my might flows from a stout heart and bold nature," he remarks, picking up a melon. He squeezes it once, then breaks it open to inspect the interior. "Hmm. Your fruit looks sickened, friend," he tells the splutteringly outraged merchant. There's nothing wrong with it. Melons just look weird.


Strange sighs. Long-sufferingly.

"Add that to my total, please," the Sorceress says to said booth-keeper, " — and stop touching the products, your highness, seven hells." The citrus and the broken melon go into a bag and that seller continues giving Thor the most concerned glare. "He's not from around here," and the charming grin normally reserved for functions with the social elite is showcased in the feminine form. "Come along then, your highness." Not about to tug on the Asgardian, Strange instead strides boldly onwards down the narrow street. The banner with the bees isn't far now, it's at the end of the block, and the pace is brisk — at least, for someone 5'5".


"I cannot help he's selling rotten fruit!" Thor protests, booming at Strange. "It fell apart in my hands, how is that -my- fault?" he grumbles, a little crossly.

Smiling affably at the stares of confusion from the crowd, he falls into pace behind Strange and rubbernecks at the swarm of people and the various things for sale.

Strange makes it ten feet before she loses Thor again. He stops to gawk at a tent full of kitchsy bricabrac — little carved wooden figures and glass butterflies that look terribly fragile.

He reaches for one.


"You know, I could attempt a brief charm upon you, if you admit to the curiosity. Honestly, look me in the eye and tell me that…you're…" Pausing in place, Strange scans the milling crowd. How on earth did a blonde Asgardian over six feet of height manage to disappear again?! "I'm going to curse him. I really am. Screw diplomacy," the Sorceress growls as she backtracks. Oh no. THAT STALL.

"YOUR HIGHNESS." The whipcrack of the voice crosses the street itself to break upon him even before the petite brunette is stomping towards him, bag swaying at her side. "Your highness, the fruit was not rotten and stop touching things! Gods below, you're worse than Tommy and that is saying something!"


Thor snatches his hand back at the last moment, looking around in confusion. "Hmm? What is the point of such a stall, then?" he demands of Strange, huffing crossly. "I merely wish to examine the goods, is it such a crime to handle them and inspect the wares for quality?"

"Hey, are you saying this ain't good enough for you?" the artisan snaps, hearing the discussion. "This ain't Chinese made crap, man, I work hard on this!"

Thor looks around at the bricabrac on display, brow furrowing in confusion, and looks to Strange, then back at the man.

"Really?" he inquires, dubiously.


"Your highness, whatever you're thinking, stop. Stop right now. Stop thinking. The honey stall is right there," and Strange points with forced calmness towards the end of the street. Look, the bumblebees! They're not far! Shiny jars! The whole point of this expedition besides practicing blending properly into the mundane folk in another guise.

"Your highness. Thor." Just a hint of willpower brushed upon the Name has a faint magnetic draw to the Sorceress. "Leave the artist alone. The wares will get sold without your assistance." Tightly folded arms accent curves found nowhere on the normal lean build of the Master of the Mystic Arts — and fuddy-duddy Supreme.


The street vendor starts to turn red and bristle with fury. "Listen, PAL, the day I let some greased up Shakespeare — festival wannabe — !"

"Mind your words, puny mortal!" Thor booms, raising his voice and making the stall contents rattle. "I offered no insult but what my eyes beheld, and if thou are the craftsman you claim, then my insults should not offend you!"

And then Strange is interdicting, and Thor's growling anger subsides as the Sorceror Supreme pushes into the stall and starts pushing Thor out of position by dint of sheer willpower.

Thor grumbles angrily, the ground vibrating, and moves to follow Strange.

"That's right, Princess, get outta heah," the vendor sneers. "You and your girlfriend."


Five and near one-half feet of spine suddenly straightens even as they've successfully disengaged from the stall's immediate vicinity. Another slow sigh and Strange turns to Thor.

"Walk away. Don't listen to — your highness, don't — stop, no — "

Oh gods below. The stall. The artist. The butterfly bricabracks!!!


Nope. Thor's already got 'that smile' on his face and turns back to the shopkeeper, walking into the booth with a broad shouldered disregard for his bulk, where he towers over the vendor. To his credit, the potbelled fellow thunders up to Thor and gets in his face, jabbing a finger at Thor.

"I said get out!" he snarls. "You and your dame ain't welcome here, and if you don't like my goods, then get bent!"

"The good Doctor is not 'my dame'," Thor tells the vendor, the two of them splitting the difference of the tent's threshold. "She is in fact a man, trapped in a woman's body."

"…so he's yer BOYFRIEND?" the vendor laughs, giving Strange a speculative, judging look.


The will is strong in this one to avoid slowing running a delicate hand down the face, high cheekbones and all.

Teeth flash in a grimace before the Sorceress mumbles, "Why. Why did I include him? Why?" The questions are more rhetorical than anything else, something for Strange to mull over in retrospect after he manages to avert disaster and a possible street-brawl. "Thor, the man has two brain cells to rub together and he'll lose them both the next time he's caught alone and bored. Leave the idiot be." The stall-keeper is given a gimlet glare complete with irises slowly flushing frosted-violet.


"I don't care for your tone, friend," Thor tells the vendor, the two fellows bumping chests.

"I don't like your HAIR!" the vendor snarls, shoving Thor. Well, he tries, anyway. He blinks and pushes again. Thor doesn't budge.

The big blonde grabs the vendor by the front of his shirt and shakes his until his teeth rattle. The things on display rattle dangerously as he jostles a tent pole with the artist.

"No one insults my hair," Thor growls, picking the man up an inch off the ground.


And now with the chest-bumping! They're like two bulls in a paddock, snorting and hemming and hawing and bawling and Strange is content, beneath the marked disapproval radiating from the petite form, that no one's been manhandled.

Man, thinking it made it happen. Dammit, brain. "Your highness, he's an idiot, just drop him!" The Sorceress puts the bag of fruit down on the booth's counter and leans on it. "Thor, I really don't want to have to enspell anyone, so put him down. Please."


"Thor? Thor! Oh shit!" the vendor gasps, realizing that this isn't just some lout in cosplay. At a good time, too, because Thor is about to bring the house down around the man's ears.

"God! I'm sorry! Please don't smite me!" he whines, cringing. "Sheesh, take whatever ya want!"

Thor looks at Strange, then back at the man and drops him on his heels. "The God of Thunder has no need for your wares, merchant," Thor says, stiffly. "But pray to your deity for gratitude that Doctor Stephen..ie Strange interdicted on your behalf."

He turns and walks away, jaw set and muttering in irritation.


The Sorceress makes sure that the Asgardian is well on his way to leaving the stall before gathering up her bag.

"Deities," Strange amends, pinning the stall-keeper with that same glowing glare, making damn sure that the Mystical light is seen. "Three of them. I expect to hear it as I walk away." A finger jammed in the man's direction accents it…and boy, does the Master of the Arts behave by not setting an curse on the man. Bad luck is the Witch's forte anyways.

"You probably killed one of his two brain cells through the panic alone," comes the quiet comment as the petite brunette catches up with Thor on the way to the honey stand —


"Then that would have left him with but one to spare," Thor grumbles, a bit miffed at having gotten worked up for a fight and then been told to step down. "The fool deserved a sound thrashing, and he's lucky you stepped forward and intervened," he says.

The big blonde god scowls at someone passing, and the mother 'eeps' softly and grabs her children, hustling along away from the angry Nordic looking fellow.


"No, no thrashing was needed. He was all bluff. He could talk the talk, but couldn't walk the walk. We'd call him a sack of rotted feed back in Nebraska. Gassy and useless." The Sorceress glances back at the retreating family and shakes her head again, the strands of loose wavy hair jostling her jawline for all of a second. "Your face will get stuck like that."

Strange finally reaches the stand and gives the keeper, an older woman with bronze hair just beginning to silver in places, a friendly grin after a moment of forcing down the rush of adrenaline sluicing through the feminine frame. "Two jars of your summer blackberry, if it's in. Oh, and a box of honeycomb as well, same kind."


"Honey?" Thor examines the goods on display, and immediately picks up one of the expensive artisan bottles and starts fingering it. "I thought bees existed only on Asgard," he muses. "'tis a fine thing to find such a commonality with Midgard!"

Without asking permission, he pops the small mason jar open and sticks a finger in it, then rubs honey against his teeth. "Mm! And this 'tis fine honey!" he beams. "'tis good as any I've had at home. And it comes in other flavours"?" he asks, reaching for more bottles.


Strange accepts the first two jars and holds one up to the sunlight. Perfect. The exact golden glow sought and even with the layerings to prove its perfectly natural origins. This makes the best tea-honey with its berry notes and near-caramel sweetness.

"Bees are native to Midgard as well, though I don't think they share the same sting. The bees of Asgard surpass the pain scale for — " Glancing over, the Sorceress simply watches, jaw hanging slightly open, as Thor literally samples the wares with all the affection of a black bear in a pick-ah-nic basket.

Even as Tamara, the bee-keeper, stares at the blonde Asgardian, the expletive gives her cause to look to Strange. "Add the jars to my total, please," mumbles the brunette.

"I will," replies the bee-keeper, looking back to Thor. "Y'know, you're making your friend pay for a lot of honey. It does come in different flavors, but those aren't the sample bottles." And she reaches out a sun-spotted hand to rest atop the broad expanse of his reaching hand in turn. "These are the samples here, the smaller ones." Her other gesture includes the bottle sized in volume to salt and pepper shakers rather than the mason jars. "We have the blackberry, the wild clover, the fireweed, and the lemonbalm. I keep the best in the back." There's the sneaky saleswoman grin.


For a few minutes, Thor is happily busy enjoying the samples and feeding his sweet tooth. The beekeeper works patiently with him, clearly amused by his antics and pleased with his effusive praise for her wares.

After Strange starts getting impatient, Tamara kindly rounds Thor up with a few bottles of honey — which Thor turns out cannot pay for, as he has no Midgardian currency. Cue Strange again.

His treats in hand, Thor's sour disposition is gone by the time the two leave, and he is eating honey right out of the jar like a happy bear. "A most excellent conclusion to our venture, friend Strange," Thor tells the Sorceror Supreme.


Before leaving and as Tamara was handing back the change, Strange managed to whisper, "You have the patience of a saint. May your next yield be as fruitful." The bee-keeper is pleased as pie for the kind words, but little does she know that they're more than just compliments: they're Words. It's all about the intent.

"Yes, I'd rather pay an extra forty dollars than need to explain to the police why you got into a scuffle over gaudy butterfly decor at the farmer's market," replies the Sorceress, eyeing the Asgardian Prince archly despite the small smirk. "If you know how to make mead, use it in the brewing process. Or tea. It goes well with tea." The opinion is offered lightly, fully knowing that Thor wants nothing to do with the leafy brews in general.


"Mead. I don't … do tea," Thor tells Strange, grumbling.

"But aye, 'twill be most suitable for mead," he agrees with Strange. Looking to the sorceror with a smile, his face falls and he looks away, shifting his shoulders uncomfortably.

"I am unsure I will grow used to you in this guise, my friend," he tells Strange. "Comely a lass as you are, 'tis difficult for me to wrap my mind about it. Loki's penchant for drama is well known, and his affinity for such disguises. Perhaps 'tis why this turn of whim unsettles me," he admits.


"I don't share your brother's penchant for drama. In the vast multiverse, I am powerful. I don't hold the mantle in jest." The Sorceress shifts the bag on her arm with a faint grimace. Must keep hands free. "However, I can be taken off-guard and I don't appreciate it any more than the next person does. Consider, your highness, how you would react if you suddenly lost your arms but gained extra legs. Or perhaps you were blinded but instead given the hearing acuity of a field mouse. You could react, yes, but how successful would you be in the panicked seconds of attempting to adjust to your circumstances? I do not have the pleasure of a few moments — I can't say, 'Hold on while I locate you in this pitch-black room by the sounds of your breathing'. By that point, the enemy will have attacked and my life is at risk. If I fall, the wards upon this reality fail."

Said comely lass glances up at Thor again. "This is but an exercise and not permanent in the least. Allow me to demonstrate. Hold these." Whether Thor likes it or not, the bag containing the citrus fruits, one broken melon, and a myriad clinking collection of honey bottles plus one box of honeycomb is shoved at him. Assuming it's held, the petite brunette steps agilely between two stalls. Down the steps of an under-set stairwell to the building behind them and flash — it's a quick burst of golden light barely caught against the shine of sun upon the bricks. Rolling shoulders, the lean form of the Sorcerer Supreme appears again, smirk and retrofitted battle-leathers and all.

"Child's play," he comments in that better-known baritone of his, taking back the brown paper bag.


Thor's eyes glaze over a little as Strange starts lecturing him. He holds the bags obligingly when she ducks into the alley, looking a little confused for a moment — then Stephen Strange returns, and Thor is all smiles.

"Ah, hello again, my old friend," he says cheerily. "'tis welcome to see you in your familiar skin once more. I know 'tis a simple magic for you, but I still welcome the return of your face," he chuckles.


Shifting the bag in his arms, Strange grins.

"I admit that I'm far more comfortable in this guise than as anything else. Still, my errand is now run and exercise complete. We walked past one of the acolytes of the Seventh Sun and he had no idea who I was. Perfect." The Sorcerer holds out a hand, palm rotated palm up, in expectation of the traditional wrist-clasping of the warrior caste of Asgard. "Until we meet again, your highness."

The handshake is firm, certain as it always is, and the two gentlemen depart to their separate ways.


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