1964-09-16 - Strange Class
Summary: Bruce drops in on a Strange lecture
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange bruce 

It's a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing, lecturing at Columbia. Someone called in a favor that had to be years old, but Strange is never one to renege on a deal. After all, the Mystical community holds promises and agreements as currency and to break one is not only anathema, but sometimes very dangerous.

Nothing more dangerous here, however, than the former-neurosurgeon's gaze resting on the poor soul in the very front row who's managed to fall asleep during his guest-lecture. The conduction of myelin sheaths around nerve cells isn't a difficult topic — why on earth is the guy asleep? Someone realizes that the kid's about to receive a rude awakening and titters.

"Hey. You. In the front row. WAKE UP." The good Doctor already has a stentorian tone; the microphone magnifies it tenfold and the kid jumps in his seat; papers go scattering through the air. "I didn't come here to babysit. Either pay attention or leave. Door's right there." The kid gets one last eyebrow before he clears his throat and leans back on the lectern. "If you have further questions, I recommend Doctor Palmer. We did a few tours around the surgical suites here and she doesn't mind answering questions at all." In fact, she does, and it's a long-standing point of friendly pranking between them to send clueless interns in their relative directions. "Alright, git." With that, he flicks off the projector and turns to search out his cup of tea, placed off to one side on a small collapsible desk.

Bruce is sitting three fourths of the way back in the lecture hall, close to an exit door that he looks in no hurry to use. He smiles a little when Strange gets on the kid's case. Anyone knows that you sit in teh back rown if you want to nap. Bruce has been the opposite of this kid. Of course, he's a little older, and this stuff is pretty darn basic, but Bruce came in to try to slip in some innocuous questions to the guest lecturer. He's heard of Strange. He has been sitting a little forward on his seat.

Now, however, he looks around when it looks like there isn't going to be a question and answer session. He raises his hand anyway, "Doctor Strange? Do you have time for a question? " He asks it anyway to make sure it gets asked. He clears his throat, while a few students turn to him. Most have seen him in the class before and just think he's a weird professor who has nothing better to do. "Has anyone conducted research on the effect of radiation in the proceessyou just described?" The he sits back, not enjoying the extra attention, but interested in the answer.

His brows rise as Strange turns back to face the audience. Indeed, some students are giving Bruce some glares and rolled eyes. Man, the guest lecturer was going to let them go, why you gotta ask questions?! The good Doctor sets the tea cup atop the surface alongside his brief note sheet (more a list to tick off of things the students needed to hear to fulfill his favor) and then eyes Bruce across the many rows of heads.

"If anyone's done any research on such a thing, it's off the books, without a doubt. I can't see it being successful. Human nerve conduction suffers greatly after exceeding a certain absorbed dosage and it's invariably lethal." A shrug. "Humans make terrible lab rats anyways. We all complain too much." A few laughs gained for his dry-humored comment. "Anything else?" The silver-templed man continues pinning Bruce in his seat with the attention.

Bruce's face registers his disagreement with Strange's broad comment, but decides he is not going to push that particular point. He is at first pretty oblivious of the glares, not understanding the desire to leave any class early. He picks up his journal he has been jotting in, and when Strange asks if there is anything else, his face lights up at the chance. "Well, actually, yes…" Okay…he's catching a rising negative sentiment in the room. "But I can come down and ask, because it's not really related to this particular topic. If you just have a moment," he tacks on. "I've read your work. It's brilliant," pretty nice compliment coming from Bruce. Not that Strange would know this, however.

A faint smile breaks the lines of Strange's goatee.

"I appreciate that. We'll talk. The rest of you, git." No one's inclined to linger, not with the tersely-spoken man clearly setting them free to grab coffee or chat in the halls or scramble to the next lecture. Everyone else filters out, one- or two-by-two in the aisles between sections of seats, and pretty soon, the room is basically cleared out save for the two men. The good Doctor takes another sip of his tea and clears his throat.

"Not many people ask after radiation, especially in a Neurosciences 2000 lecture." His words should reach Bruce upon his approach and Strange's air takes on a sly curiosity. "…hobby?" It's a mildly teasing question, testing in a way.

Bruce is like a salmon trying to swim upstream through the departing students. He considers how they would scatter if they knew what was inside him. However, this is people being people in an environment that is very comfortable to Bruce. Well, it was more comfortable whn he was being asked about his interest in radiation. That's the risk of his research though. He purses his lips, "Weeeelll, yeah. My background is in radiation, and I often start from there when I ask questions." He shrugs to try to downplay the seriousness of it. "The other question I had was more along the lines of brain surgury and personality disorders. As a surgeon, maybe you saw that study on the woman with dissociative personality disorder who was shot in the head during a robbery. She survived with some neurological damage, but strangely enough, her extra personality, so to speak, had been exorcised from her mind. Do you remember that case?"

Leaning on the lectern again, Strange fiddles with the pen last left by the previous professor. It taps against his scarred palm lightly as he squints at Bruce, seeming to rifle through his memories.

"Perhaps. There have been some similar cases since I retired from the medical field and frankly, my current job takes up a lot of brain power as is. Run through the major details of it and we'll see if it jogs my memory."

Bruce says, "I'd like to hear about different cases. I have heard about cases where the opposite happened. Where some sort of trauma caused the disorder to arise, but I have never heard about the opposite case except in the case of a labotomy, which had other significant ramifications than just addressing the personality disorder." Bruce goes into detail about the surgery at the level that would indicate he's no slouch at any of this science stuff. When he stops, he adds, "So if it can be identified where the base of the disorder resides in the brain, it might be successfully trated through surgery." Asking for a friend, he is inclined to add. "What do you think?""

As Bruce expands, one can see Strange's steel-blue eyes begin to light up. Ooh, now they're talking his jargon and it's like revisiting an old friend to hear the words fly with precise accuracy — not a single diagnostic term is misused by the other man. In the end, the good Doctor tilts his head minutely from one side to the other and then opines,

"I'd be leery around permanent damage, as you mentioned before. It's not impossible by any means, but no scientist wants to run the risk of turning someone into a vegetable for the sake of science. Well…no one with a conscience," he amends, perfectly aware that some folk merely recite the Hippocratic Oath to graduate and get on with it already, geez, where's my surgical fee? His fingertips drum on the lectern's surface, a precise rhythmic pattern. One-two-three-four. "You're not a student, however…or are you? Bored? Stooping to join the masses? You should be involved with faculty research at this point, given what you know of the disorders and their ramifications."

Bruce smiles bashfully and shrugs, "No. The name's Bruce. I'm not a student. This is my …hobby. I have another job. I'm just naturally curious, I suppose." He pauses, "And I would have to disagree." He voices what Strange was thinking, "There are plenty of scientists who would endanger their subject or others just to prove a theory." He rubs the back of his neck. "The ethics of this sort of research are interesting, though. Would it be worth the risk of turning someone into a vegetable if that person was seriously endagering others with his disorder? Say, Dr Jekyll. Hypothetically, if you thought you could pinpoint the location in the brain responsible for his evile transformation and personality, would surgery be justified?"

"Bruce. Doctor Stephen Strange, as you no doubt heard at the beginning of lecture." The Doctor eyes the other man and collects up his cup of tea before pacing off a few steps. His other hand hides away in the pocket of his dress slacks and it's a second or two before he turns on his heel in a sharp movement. Not a single drop of the dark brew is spilt for it.

"I would weigh the quality of life as potential carrot-ism before I made the decision. Could the person continue to function and be allowed the basic tenants of ethical comfort? If not…hmm. I would then weigh the risk they present to society as a whole. Could they be contained by the usual means — a facility, maximum security, sedation. If not that, then…other means would be needed." The faintest light-play through his irises changes them briefly towards frosted-violet.

Bruce nods, "One person's qulaity of life can't weigh that heavily against the lives of hundreds of people, can it? " His mouth remains open, but then he decides not to push it too much farther lest he give himself away and shuts his mouth. He's not all that sure how many know the secret of Bruce Banner outside of the government. "I understand that you don't do that sort of surgery anymore. That's a shame, but are there surgeons capable of that sort of precision?" Bruce bits his lip. He just needs to shut up. At any one time, however, he has three or four leads on potential cures…or at least safe resolutions to his rage monster problem. This potential lead has merit.

Strange walks slowly back over to the lectern, never dropping eye contact with the other man as the expansion upon weight of lives against another comes into consideration. The demi-tasse is set down with a quiet thunk and he sighs, watching his reflection come into focus on the tea's surface once the ripples settle.

"I'm sure that a few have attempted to step into my shoes," he replies quietly with a sardonic smirk, well-aware of how self-inflating that statement is in this moment. Those light eyes flick back up to Bruce. "However, every life is important. Everyone has a reason for existing and a soul with which to burn brightly. Some flicker like a candle, some blaze like wildfire, but no one is more important than anyone else. We all live, we all die. Why fight our existence? Perhaps Fate has a plan for this…individual with split personalities." His attention sharpens on Bruce and one can almost see the wheels turning behind those lashes. "Are you asking for a friend…?" Again, that testing humor lurks in his words.

Bruce laughs, "That's what they all say, right?" He grins and hopefully plays this right. Dr. Stephen Strange is not s tupid man. "I'm not asking for a friend, but I do know an individual. I was curious. Curiosity killed the cat, right? " He rubs the back of his neck again and stands before Strange, his hands gently wringing one another. "Given the opportunity, I think this guy would try it. His quality of life can't get much worse than it is. Anyway, I suppose I should let you go on your way. I'm sure you have important things to do. I appreciated your lecture and time." The pull of wanting to escape is becoming so great. Bruce wonders if the Hulk can hear, if he knows what Bruce has in mind and is trying to get him away from there through his subconscious.

"If it doesn't kill the cat, it might cost one of those mythical nine lives." The good Doctor's rejoinder doesn't negate the interest he has in the man. It's not too unlike being stared at by some potential predator. Flicker-flash, does he ever attempt to piece together the one true reason for this line of questioning. Another sigh and he gives Bruce a rather aloof if even a tad impish smile.

"You're welcome, Bruce. If this…individual has further questions, please, send them my way. They can speak to me in person at 177A Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. I won't be lecturing again anytime soon. Someone had to cash in a favor." Strange nearly rolls his eyes at this fact, but professionalism staves off the expression.

"Yeah, okay…I'll let them know. I guess if it gets too out of control or the quality of life gets too bad, he might look for a referral." He smiles and holds out one of his hands to the doctor. "I knew you didn't do this often, that's why I jumped on the opportunity." He steps away from the doctor and towards the door.

Bruce receives a firm handshake in return for his offered hand, nothing overtly assessing in the pressure and with no hint of the masculine bravado that sometimes shows when self-confidence is low. No lack of self-confidence here, no-no. More like an excess of it. How his Consort tolerates Strange, the world may never know.

"Again, I appreciate your attendance. Good luck with your search on answers. Maybe if we cross paths again, I'll have come across something new." He watches the other man go with marked interest giving him reason to nearly squint. Hmm. Therein lies a mystery…and does the good Doctor ever love mysteries. Something to mull over tea.

The door to the room shuts with a thud-click of the bar engaging. Collecting the porcelain demi-tasse and the list of notes, Strange glances about the auditorium to make sure it's clear. No one around anymore? Good. Leaving by the door is so…mundane. The sparkling oculus upon reality opens to the living room of the Sanctum after a few idle gestures and he steps through it, circumventing New York traffic entirely. Ah, the perks of being Sorcerer Supreme.

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