1964-08-23 - A Parent's Nightmare
Summary: Vic has a deadly accident, but with parents like his, even death gets complicated.
Related: http://marvel1963mush.wikidot.com/log:1964-08-24-feeling-better
Theme Song: None
strange vic wanda 

The phone call comes from Devizes, of all places. That finicky and plane-hopping collection of grimoires and tomes from all places apparently had a break-in. How? No one's sure, but the manager returns Strange's curt line of questioning with equal terse wording — he's unamused and somewhat frightened, if he were to be completely honest.

"I'll be there shortly. If the thief left tracks, don't touch them. I can track them. Yes, shortly." And with a light clatter, he hangs up. A sigh, a pensive glower, and then he's turning on his heel. The bookshop last appeared not far from O'Riley's and it'll be an easy Gate to throw. A gesture to shift daily dresswear to mantle-blues and the crimson Cloak whisks to alight upon his shoulders with near-prescience. The Gate opens within the alleyway a few stores down from the tea shop and with a light glamour overtop his person (any mundane who looks upon him finds their interest simply sliding away abruptly — ooh, pigeons!), he strides out to the sidewalk. No difficult to make his way through the moderate foot traffic. It's the street traffic to beware; those taxis are hurtling about at this hour.

There's Devizes, front door unnaturally left open, and to be honest, the Sorcerer is looking forwards to a little challenge and lesson-teaching.

It's one of those things that lives in memory forever, all the little details, like how the sun was shining, how much like Victor Strange's son looks when he's spots his dad from the other side of the street, and how he perks up when he sees him, as though just a glimpse has brightened his whole damn day. Waving with one hand, the other around a bakery box (he's bringing baklava to his mother), he starts across the street.

The truck comes how of nowhere, speeding, swerving on the road. Vic's speed doesn't save him, but it does spare him from getting splattered all over the road. He bounces off one corner bumper with an audible smack, shattering the headlight and causing the hood to buckle. It spins him off and he bounces on the pavement like a rag doll. The bakery box bursts open, baklava goes everywhere. The truck? It takes off, coming up onto the sidewalk to drive around the taxis in its way

It's not like with Victor. The youth's body is whole. Just… broken. At the very least, his neck, legs, one hip shattered. But his face looks pristine, eyes closed, blood soaking into his curls.

The creaking squeal of an axel fighting momentum's pull on a top-heavy build causes Strange to look away from approaching the teleporting bookshop.

"Idiot," he mutters, watching the truck's path approach from that short distance.

Wait, was that his name? Another few degrees of turn, enough to warrant pausing and rotating in place, brings him to see Vic across the way. Oh, a box of pastries for Wanda — thoughtful as always, that kid.

Indeed, how adrenaline treats him to such a sight. Far too late — and how the brain makes those splintering lightning-cracks of deduction faster than the body itself can react. He seizes up in place, unable to process what he just saw, and it's the soprano shriek of someone nearer to the prone body that breaks the rictus of disbelief. It carries, pulls attention further, and then he's shoving people aside, heedless of slowing traffic, his own fractured, throat-raking shout echoing from the walls of the buildings that line the street.

"NO! NO NO NO!!!" The raspberries will be brutal on his knees, the bruising possibly bone-deep, for how he skid-drops next to Vic's body. Shaking hands hover over the limp form and with an atonal half-sob, he suddenly gathers up the youth. Blood stains his battle-leathers now, but he's heedless, heaving for air and rattling in his own skin and the weight of a body without life is heavier than gravity itself.

A crowd gathers. Someone's called the police, surely, and an ambulance is on its way. The Sorcerer is in another place entirely and he clutches Vic him, unwilling to allow anyone else near. The very air around him crackles with Mystical energy becoming untethered.

The crowd gathering around parts for Strange. No one needs to wonder what those cries mean. Vic all but rolls into his father's arms, unresisting, broken. He's still warm. Life has only just fled, and now begins the first few minutes of the worst thing a father can go through. The knowledge that he'll cool, that there's no forcing life back into the dead. His features are peaceful, though. Maybe he felt no pain. For how quickly the truck came out of nowhere, maybe the youth never even saw it coming.

No one interferes with Strange, save for one woman who asks quietly, "Is there anyone I can call for you?" She's known loss, herself. Everyone else just mills, murmuring. A mother murmurs to her child walking by on the street, "Come on, Johnny, quickly now." The kid doesn't need to see this.

Eventually, there are sirens in the distance. There's nothing they'll be able to do though, police or paramedics. Except offer their condolences and start the paperwork.

Breathing through a windpipe already burning makes for rusty sounds. The Sorcerer wants to scream, but there's never enough air to do it. Instead, the bulwark for emotional stability strains more as the sobbing becomes more intense, buried in those dark-blonde curls so reminescent of a lost brother. There's no reply for the woman asking about phoning because there is no reply he can give.

Perhaps through some manifestation of willpower lashing out like an enraged bear, there's a sudden burst of kinetic energy from about his aura. Folks are shoved rapidly away, some to their behinds and sides, and then the very reality around the kneeling man in crimson Cloak fractures, melts to reflective slag and —

The Mirror Dimension. A healthy bet would ride on deific interference. After all, there's little logic in their Conduit right now. Logic solves nothing. Death defies logic. The scent of oil and tarmac and what laundry detergent Vic last used and the shampoo in his hair — it's in the next quavering inhale and the denial bounces like a lost ball down the stairs into the dark basement with the interference of the weeping.

"No-o-o-o…" A little rock, useless, as that cold intellect reminds him that lost critical minutes could mean all the difference — if there were a heartbeat.

Blood, the great equalizer. Wanda's kith and kin hold powerful ties to the witch. Call it a curse of connecting sundry points throughout the world. Maybe it's the harmonic effect that makes her such a fine vessel. Perhaps she reflects the deeper sympathy tying Earth to other places and beings, a growing awareness brought about by deepened cosmological and physical comprehension. The further humanity pushes, the more they recognize the web that binds?

Blood, the great connector. What empowers the spells of sacrifice boasts that link between life and power. Only the power-hungry and overly ambitious use life to channel energy needed for dark magic. The connection can reverse, too, flipping the current back on its source in an offering to the donator. Kindness, hope, even health. A dim precognition of what could be at any moment haunts her waking hours at a subliminal level. Pietro, of course, is the great moon to her sun. Her children are equally potent satellites. And her consort…

Blood, the great binder. When a thread snaps, perturbations travel through the medium until rushing against distant shores linked by the same psychic ocean. One wave carries energy converted in the narrowing mental shallows to height, and topples over. A second follows, momentum squared over the individual headland marking her sovereign mind. Whatever she does, did now, the brunette goes to her knees. Stitches plunge into her skull and reflect outwards into a staggering halo, a familiar and dully resonant presence forcing her to reach out.

Out. Out.

The instinctive seizure of the senses isn't magic. Not by a long shot. Hers is the fundamental means to reorder the universe to her liking, an intuitive snatch at fading threads gripped in ephemeral fingers. Legs insensate to the ground are forced to move, forced to take her out of the chamber and across the terraced cobbles until hitting the ground. She extends a halo of mana into a spear that she slams into the ground, deep through soil to bedrock, anchoring herself. An ugly but useful premise, the expenditure of energy tears open the doorway to the Witch Road. It swallows her in its fecundity.

Probabilities switch and flip on their magnetic axes, forced to the same true north point. Except north is the Witch's reflections, ripping other gateways off their anchors to align them in a grand conjunction where all routes are one route, and one route opens to the savage meditative concussion spinning in the brain, the soul, the heart.

Blood, the great medium. She spills hers on poppy-bright on the bosom of Mother Magic, kismet kissed on the palm. A price paid, paid for them all, paid for none. Flowers wind around her and the gale force breeze slams her flat backwards through the rift onto a broken crack on the pavement. Gas vaporizes where she lands, flowers erupting around her feet. "Where is he?" The imperative in that tone demands answer.

The sudden invasion of the dimension is but a pebble tossed into foam-stricken waters. It's the sinking of the stone into the sense of the here and now that brings up the man's face.

Abject pain. Inarticulate agony paints hollows and blotches of flush over shock-pale cheeks. Tears run in wide translucent and vertical war-stripes and the captured luminescence of refracted lightning on stormy ocean floors glints in his eyes.

Wanda. His mouth forms the name bereft of oxygen to support it. The red of scarring is stark against white knuckles as he holds Vic's body tighter to his chest. The youth's legs sprawl one across his thighs and one down to the pavement captured within the dimension, ankle turned to an obscene angle that no living person could tolerate. Bloodied knuckles hang down to brush against Strange's knee.

Wanda, I — "…I — " Speech is impossible still. Another gut-heaving sob, screwing up of features that tack on years of age for the depth of lines.

Pain takes an odd shape once pushed back far enough to breath. Wanda is no stranger to this particular rough-edged country full of gritty sand and torturously sharp planes. Agony seeps into the pores of her skin and washes out on the exhaled breath purging her of any toxins. Give her ten seconds to reorient herself when the upheaval throws her entirely off-course, the sorceress learning the landscape of an unknown land.

Sweet surrender to the silence burning in her veins would be too easy. Locked into that corset, she straightens where the inflexible metal bones demand her upright. War-stripes painted on the harrowed face of her better half send a surge of inchoate rage through her, bleeding through the tips of her fingers. Almost without trying, the lotus bands form; bespelled yantras open in pointed blossoms, staggered along the red-shifted amaranthine course they took. Her incarnadine pupils are more alarmingly near to blood seen under a pitiless desert sun, the truth of her own habits overwhelming the swamped bond.

Why is the doctor in this situation incapable of parsing it?

Is she that cruel? That heartless, a pitiless monster?

Questions for another time, or no time so appropriate as this, ones she cannot answer. Heal thyself. It's an old adage beyond the time of Greece. Certainly she remembers an Atlantean sorceress shouting it at her on the field when she lay in the dirt, face to the moss, breath torn from her sick, heaving lungs. Heal himself.

Twist an ankle once, all's the more likely it'll happen again. Time heals all, but scars are proof that grief leaves its mark upon the soul as well as the skin. A body is a body to the brutal separation of surgical skill from emotional wellspring…until it's family. Impossible to do anything but react at first, calling forth the first and foremost identity as human beneath the trappings of the mantle and the cosmic power imbued from its citrine diadem.

Strange never touched upon the lost brother, not aloud and not willingly even in glancing conversational hits from the sensitive old wound. It is utterly cruel of fate to deposit him in this moment, to shove him so rudely back into a miasm that torqued his path further away from healing and towards the dividends of his tenure in the operating room. And brother Victor was much older.

This is his child in his arms, scintillating possibility wiped cleanly from the slate by Death's damp rag.

With sight shut for the burn of eyes, he simply continues to kneel with the prone body in his arms, his entire frame shaking with each shuddering, lamentative exhale. Quieter now, not much to say for echoes of his heartbreak from the slowly-shifting reflective facets of the dimension.

He's not attentive enough to catch the shift of bones knitting together again beneath skin for his Consort's wish upon reality. Within, somewhere deep within his subconscious, he notes the Mote — but it's a distant speck of light through the maelstrom of his current state.

Damage on the same stressed joint or weakened connection with life really doesn't equal a broken ankle or repeatedly sprained wrist, does it? Wanda remembers not so much the pattern of breathing needed now as the admonishments of her foster father.

Stop showing weakness. Your emotions running away like horses will lead to disaster. Rein them in. Curb them by your will.

It hurts, frankly, to equal his voice and the fading memories of his face. It blurs into Erik's face and another voice altogether, crisp-crackled in steely reverence for becoming perfect and unassailable. Her fingers twitch and curl to the protective placement of her palms. Here her assistance can be limited to the most brutal applications of her art or the finest control, neither suitable. She's not the neurosurgeon at the top of his class.

The hollow internal pit aches dimly, a rapidly spinning neutron star, for Strange. For him rather than herself when those old defenses prove perfectly adequate to the duty she requires of them. Not like Pietro when the soul-scarred mystic went to her knees in defiance. Today she stands, an emblem of defiance.

Her yantras blend the mysticism of a hidden city of time and mastery parallel to his with the feminine spark, witchcraft forged in a weird, nebulous alliance for its purposes. Magic cuts and slices through the manifold displays of nested triangles and circulating bands. Here six points in Tibetan rotating with the secret names of the benevolent powers, there sixteen pyramids locking in their alignment.

"You can fix the breaks. This is your place." A purposeful statement, eminently reasonable. Is there a reason she doesn't feel?

A heavy exhale followed by a rough sniffle. Raising his face up again proves it unchanged, still streaked with salt and water, his irises reflecting the tenuously-controlled crackling of power about his person.

Strange stares at his Consort, long enough to slide into the realm of uncomfortable, for it's vacant at most and vaguely betrayed somehow. Animation comes after another exhale, a flexion of fingers around a cooling body.

"I can."

It lacks certainty. He can. Can he? Turning his face aside, he wipes it on his shoulder and is briefly aided by the collar of the Cloak, its silky touch not thinking twice to act as handkerchief.

"This time I can," he rasps, biting his bottom lip heavily as he dares to look down at Vic. Sleeping — the kid's just sleeping. The child's prayer is obscene to him a second afer it crosses his mind and his expression collapses again, his shoulders dropping even as he adjusts his grip about the prone form.

"You can." He may doubt his own capacity in grief, absorbed the silver-white veneer of pain and misery for loss. Nothing inures a man to it, much less faced with his own blood and forked lineage in another sense. She sympathizes with Strange on some level, held at a heavy remove from the immediacy laid at her feet.

"You have." Faith may be in short temporary supply. She owns a helpful amount of that, trademarked and flagged for his use, a gentle vibration pushed along their joint connection of a sort.

"You are." The third promise in the statement afflicted by a neat triune unity, as it so deserves to have on the cusp of these things. Her assistance may be limited as she wheels back the energy into a neater mudra, a wellspring of probability that hasn't focused fully on its last shape.

There are a lot of little things going on inside Vic, after the initial shock of being killed has settled. It's subtle at first, severed veins coming back together, bones repairing little by little. His head would has stopped bleeding, which isn't so unusual for someone who's died, but beneath the caked on blood, the skin has knitted smooth.

Small and subtle, little things. Tiny repairs. It's the damaged spinal cord that's the real doozy, but in the end, it's just another structure to be repaired.

Small things become big things. As the spinal cord repairs, and the bones of his neck, his head jerks violently. Maybe it's just the body settling.

The Sorcerer nods jerkily and shifts Vic in his arms one last time. There's a very risky spell he can attempt, forged from the tendrils of relation between the two of them. In the case of the Mote glowing within the youth like a muted coal, it would be possibly stronger than the standard effect of recalling a lost soul to an empty husk of a body.

Granted, it sure as the seven hells and every variation of the theme of the damned place would annoy Lady Death — but frankly, my dears, he doesn't give a damn, not now, not when everything is raw and blistered and that brush of a soulbound thumb along his cheekbone reminds him that there is, in fact, something that can be done.

Because he can.

A cycle or five of breaths and then barometric pressure around Strange drops dramatically. Misty opalescence, that milky prismatic moonbow-light, begins to sparkle about him, more fairy-dust than actual present illumination. He's got a literal Word on the end of his tongue, the beginning of the incantation, when —

Did the body in his arms just move? The animation in his frame drops away again, contributing to the tight hold about Vic. There won't be a single missed incidence now, not with the Sorcerer Supreme eyeing the youth's form with a delicate balance between bated, painful breath — the hope against hope in basest mundane leanings — and a goodly amount of wary trepidation…because sometimes, terrible things come in the guise of innocence.

The body did in fact move, and Vic's head doesn't loll like it was before. There's structure holding it in place. That odd broken angle has been fixed. There, that cord was the difficult part. With it intact, so many things can happen. Of course there's tissue that's degraded since the onset of death and the accompanying lack of oxygen. Those repairs have been ongoing. He's still in such bad shape.

But there comes a point not long after the spinal cord has sorted itself out that a spark fires inside, that mote glowing brighter.

He draws a sudden breath, cracked ribs complaining. Then he slumps again in Strange's arms. But his chest, it rises and falls. In his neck, a pulse flutters.

To the Sight, even glassed over by tremulous tears, Strange can see that spark — that sudden surge of the Mote like a puft of fresh air upon tinder — and his throat closes off again. Teeth flash as he grits his teeth in a momentous attempt to rein in the wildly-bucking emotions that slap about within his psyche like contained baking soda and vinegar.

With utmost care and a delicacy on par with how he'd treat no one but the Witch and his family, he carefully shifts aching, creaking knees to a less abusive angle. Pins and needles in his booted feet are ignored as he adopts a sloppy criss-crossed folding of legs, never once relinquishing his supportive cradling of Vic's body. The facets of the dimension continue rotating and reflect back the storm-blue, crimson, black leggings and scarlet mandalas, dispersing flecks of moonlight from a spell aborted, and the rise and fall of tentative breathing.

Clearing his throat, he risks a whisper: "Vic…?"

Vic's eyelashes flutter, and then those peaceful features contort into a grimace. With life comes pain, and he's still in such bad shape. That hip is going to take awhile to put itself back together, and the gods only know what all this has done to his internal organs.

But he's alive. His body is doing the things, breathing and heartbeat. That's still not the end-all and be-all of life, but that pained face? That's brain activity.

"Dad," he whispers, and his breath comes swift and shallow. "I don't feel so good."

Oh, but pain means life, indeed, and there's a moment where the good Doctor nearly forgets every premise of not moving a dramatically-damaged body and almost clutches the fated near-fraternal twin to his deceased younger brother flush to his chest. Thankfully, there is a string of indelible logic throughout the bicarbonate fizzling of ridiculous relief and slowly-encroaching wave of joyous incredulation. Thus, Strange simply swallows past that damned lump in his throat and murmurs back,

"Just keep breathing. Don't move. Your mother and I are here." A quick glance to Wanda, sparkling and beckoning, and back to Vic. "You need to be stabilized before I can attempt a healing spell." His voice is rough but true, attempting the firm solidity of medical training after the brief drown in despair.

Vic's blue eyes find Strange's, so like his own, and he tries his best to smile, to show that everything's okay, but everything hurts, and the edges of that smile carry a helpless desperation. It hurts. It hurts so badly. Still, he takes a breath, lets it go, and miracle of miracles, repeats the process. He's warm to touch. He's moving, though scarcely.

With a small nod, cut short by the headache he's got to be suffering, he says, "Okay." Still, in all this anguish, the mention of his mother brings a sense of ease to him. Mom and Dad are here. Everything is going to be okay. "If it's okay, I think I'm just going to lay here for awhile." He's not even sure where 'here' is, but with his hip and leg broken, he's not walking anywhere just now.

"No one's going anywhere," Strange replies, a grin twisting his lips until he fights it completely down again. There's a steely core to those words, something that the Lady Death just hates to sense beyond the myriad distances between realms and worlds.

And indeed, no one does, at least not for the next few increments of passing time, whatever that may be. A gentle querying thread of healing magic eventually reaches out via the careful impress of scarred palm to Vic's chest and the Mote might catch hold of it, even utilize it to bolster its own attempt at realigning the most delicate structures of the human body. They won't be leaving the Mirror Dimension until a limping exit can occur, at bare minimum, and it'll be a Gate back to the Sanctum rather than stepping out into the street once again.

Beyond the dimension, people are definitely entertaining wonderings of hallucination-causing drugs and the gubberment and the police are interrogating the EMTS who really don't care for it, but…life goes on.

The break-in at Devizes? Oh — it's resolved not long after and the thief is very sorry for breaking and entering.

Strange goes home.

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