1964-11-04 - A magical engagement
Summary: Billy learns the good news, and considers his magical education
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
billy strange 

Imagine the sheer…normalcy of a phone call coming from the Sorcerer Supreme. No mythical raven landing on a windowsill with rolled note in-beak; no wispy sylph of warm wind to whisper in one's ear; not even a sudden rift upon reality in sparking gold. Nope. A phone call, issuing an invitation to talk over tea. How…foreboding? Strange was rather vague, in the end, not entirely giving a reason for the opportunity to chat.

Still, he's prepared for the arrival of the child who takes most after his Consort in ability and shares his dimples. Cream and honey are available to stir in, found in darkly-glazed containers, and there are a few different satchets to choose from. Billy can name what he wishes, it'll likely be found in some blend or another. Dressed in a plain white button-down and black slacks, it's the indoor slippers that give the man an approachability. He's nervy enough, however, to be pacing in the foyer as he holds his cup of tea without sipping at it, awaiting the knock.

Riiight. Something is up when there's vagueness and normalness, so Billy is quick to head for the Sanctum. Its really not that far away, he could walk it in a matter of minutes, but Billy is Billy. So its not like after the inivitation is given that he blinks through time and space to appear just outside the door. Knock! When the wards inevitably come to puppy-sniff him up, he bears it with more grace and less grimacing then he used to. Still. He nods along to Strange when the door is answered, "Heeeyy." He flashes a dimpled grin, though a bit of the nerves show in the expression, "Tea, earl grey, hot." he declares when that is brought up, though he does add more then what almost anyone would find sensible an amount of honey into it after. "What's up?"

Indeed, a prompt opening of the door reveals the Sorcerer and he flashes Billy an almost grateful grin. That was fairly quick hang-time between dial and arrival. "Hello, Billy, come in, please." The wards are familiar with him now and ruffle his hair lightly before they dart back into the confines of the mansion.

Earl Grey is available and once his son is settled with a cuppa sweetened on levels that Wanda would approve of, perhaps even with a moonbow smile, Strange gets to making his own. He's got a dark blend shot through with summer's berries and autumn's spices, something that needs only a single spoonful of honey to find perfection of taste. Standing by the fireplace in the living room, where the tea stand invariably rests, he glances up at Billy with a half-smile.

"What's up? To start, the ceiling. Followed by that, another two floors and the roof." He continues in true Dad Style. "The sky beyond that, with its layers of atmospheres, and eventually, the vacuum of space. Perhaps a satellite or two, even Sputnik." Sipping at his tea, he nods to himself before pacing a few steps closer to the fire. The cold has been getting into the joints of his hands lately and the warmth feels, plainly, nice. "But honestly, I have news in regards to your mother and I." A glance thrown over his shoulder is mild as milk, save for a twinkle Billy might recognize as mischief.

Billy smoothes out his hair in a very mild display of vanity, but the look he shoots the retreating wards is at least not a glare. Setttling in, he lifts his tea and takes a slow sip, nodding with satisfaction as its sweet-content is appropriate. He gives a long-suffering sigh when Dad tries to be Dad funny, "The only reason I'm not conjuring something to throw at you is that you can probably conjure something bigger to throw back. I'm not so good with the conjuring at the moment. Well, snack food I'm good at, but that's the exception that proves the rule." Still, he sips again and eyes Dad over the rim, "Is she pregnant or something? I do need to get born at some point, and I'm curious to see if holding myself will tear a hole in the space-time continuum due to paradox, or if Doctor Who is full of timey-wimey doohickery." Of course, Doctor Who _is_ in its second year of running now, but likely not outside of Britain.

"Timey-wimey doohickery…" Strange repeats dubiously, wearing more of a partial smile now. "I like that. It has a…je ne sais quois to it. But — " and he points at Billy with a finger extended from about the tea cup. "No to pregnancy, though you've gained a great deal of maturity in addressing this possibility. Well done."

Another sip of tea and he sighs heavily after swallowing. The free hand goes into the pocket of his dress pants. After another few seconds, he rotates to better face Billy, gaining more of usual quiet decorum that he wears as easily as the Cloak.

"Your mother and I are engaged. Formally. I proposed to her not a few days back and she accepted." Light eyes rest upon the young man, awaiting his reaction, even as the good Doctor's formality starts to melt away the straight lines of his goatee once more — it reveals that ghostly smile, gamboling amusement behind his mask of aloofness.

"I have decided to embrace the fact that my parents are sexual creatures and though the idea is still a little gag-worthy, I am going to adult about it." Yes, Billy uses adult as a verb, but then the rest of it sinks in and he blinks, and boom! Weapon's power are diverted to Dimples, and they are bright, "Ooooh. Congratulations! That's great! I wasn't sure if you were ever going to, if there was some sort of conflict-of-interest in the whole mantle thingy. But, still! Church wedding? Or beach wedding? Oooor, central park wedding? Gosh, when I'm like a million years old and gay marriage is legal I'm going to totally have a beach wedding." Pause, "Waaay to make the moment about yourself there, Billy." He laughs, delighted by the news. "So. It's about time!"

Strange nods and shrugs, shedding the rigidity of stance and expression entirely for something more happy and still somewhat self-depricating. He's not about to scuff a foot on the carpet bashfully, but it's plain that he's pleased as pie about the whole outcome. Prideful, even.

"Yes, it's about time, I suppose. We haven't discussed the finer details of the wedding yet, but those will come sooner than later. Though…Tommy. She should know." He frowns before rolling his lips briefly. "Do you think you could pass on word to her? Or I could call her, I suppose — or Wanda could. Vic too, though I suspect…yes. Billy, if you could tell both Tommy and Vic about this and impress upon them that it needs to remain a point of confidentiality? Within the family for now, please. I presume that Wanda will tell her brother of it soon enough, and…there's still informing her father of the engagement." Aw, not so much fun when the weight of the effects of a decision come to the fore. Rueful sigh of acceptance. "If there's some conflict with the mantle, I'm…not aware of it. Yet."

At the not-quite-toescuffing, Billy snickers behind his cup, trying to be subtle about it. BUt he's grinning.. until confidentiality comes up, at which point he lowers his tea, and looks baffled. "Why is it confidential?" He tilts his head, "I mean I know Family-of-the-Lord-of-all-Magics is a whole target of opportunity thing, that there's a whole set of enemies we inherit by virtue of a connection… but is it any different? 'Consort'.." And yes, Billy sets his teacup aside to air-quote, then lifts it up again, "…verses wife, either way, if someone got their Wanda-napping on, well, two things would happen. One, she would make them seriously reconsider their wisdom and sense of self-preservation, and Two, you'd blow whatever is left of them when you got there, up to heck and back." He shrugs, not especially worried, "I'm not sure if wife is more-targety then 'consort'. Or am I missing something entirely?"

"I don't expect anyone to attempt to kidnap Wanda…and frankly, in that scenario, I wouldn't need to step in, much less blow anyone to kingdom come. She would take them apart on the atomic level." Sipping at his tea, Strange looks no more settled for this knowledge. "I watched her slag half of a Greenwich Village street, down the molecules of air that surrounded a Shalomon grub, before she regained control. I pity anyone who tries anything with her," he says quietly.

"But still, titles are important. 'Consort' implies incalculable affection, yes, but separation all the same. Wife…" How his heart torques in his chest to pain slightly, a new level of worry having been discovered. "There is little separation there. Plus, Billy…we prefer our privacy, your mother and I. If it makes little sense to you in terms of titles, at least help us keep our lives as calm as possible? We — at least, I — deal with enough as is."

Billy inclines his head soberly at the description of what would happen should someone try to kidnap Wanda, but his expression is a little grim at the thought, "Me, I'm more worried about my other parents and little brothers. Its why I sorta go by the whole codename, thing. Everyone on the magic-side of my family are pretty excellent at taking care of themselves. If someone napped my muggle-family? They'd have me over a barrel." He shrugs, then adds, "nd it doesn't really matter if I understand or not, though to be honest I don't quite— my other parents have a newspaper clipping of their wedding announcement in the paper— its enough you ask me to keep it quiet, so I'll keep it quiet for that reason alone."

The young man is given a gentle smile. "Thank you, Billy, I appreciate it. Remember, you're welcome to discuss it with Vic and Tommy, but outside of our immediate family, let Wanda and I make the announcement as a whole. We may not put a clipping in the paper. Again, fine details. Still being discussed." Finishing most of his tea in a single gulp, Strange then proceeds to pace along the fire-heated brick of the hearth.

"You do know that if your other parents and your little brothers are in trouble, you can come to us? I guarantee you, we will spare nothing to keep them safe. I speak for myself, if not for Wanda, when I say that they may as well be extended family." He gives Billy a lingering look. "Are you concerned for them at this time?"

Billy nods his head to the first, grinning slightly, "Well in general, I think sharing anything with Tommy short of where your secret stash of chocolate is, is prolly the assumption. I've known her for like negative ten years! Or something like that. She doesn't always have the best judgement in the world, but never in a super *bad* way. I've known Vic less, but he seems…ernest. Sincere." He then pauses, and gets more serious, "Oh, I know you would, but… you may think of them as extended family, and I appreciate that, but I don't want them to know you guys. To them I'm just Billy, the kid with a talent for chemistry, who goes to college to be a chemical engineer and has a prestigous internship. I don't know when— or if— I'll be ready to let them know about… any of the rest of my life, my real life. They don't even know Teddy is anyone but my roommate. I don't think they could handle…any of it." And that makes him sad, but it is what it is. But he shakes his head, "I'm not *specifically* concerned. Its a sort of general, all-the-time, recognition that they are an attack vector for *me*."

"Yes, that's an old itch for myself as well… Wanda. You." His regard rests upon Billy with amiable fondness, something grown over the past months in place of the distance that used to separate them — absolutely more from the good Doctor's end of things, he with the suddenly-appeared young adult children from a future unseen. "Tommy and Vic. Even your uncle Pietro, pithy as he can be. You're all vectors. I understand as well, about keeping your lives separate. It's not too different from my attempt to keep the general public from knowing how thin the veils between the Worlds are at times." A long-suffering sigh here.

Time to steer the conversation to potentially more balmy waters. "A beach wedding, however? Wouldn't you be concerned about the sand getting into places? Seagulls eating the cake? Mmm," he swallows his mouthful of tea and continues, " — and don't forget the potential for sunburn."

"It's… a little hard. Keeping things from them, even though they're things I don't think they are equipped to properly handle." admits Billy, shaking his head slowly, and sipping again from his tea if only to cover for the hesitation of his answer, "In the future, they knew I was gay. They accepted me. Here, they don't know. I almost let it slip, but a side-comment made them look at me in confusion and I realized the rewrite of their memory to this time period was quite… complete. Add onto that the whole, reality-warping super-heroing? I remember a time when I told them everything. Now I actively lie to them. Its not a good feeling." He nods his head then, "I've tried to keep your… status … to a secret-ish since I know outside the Magic Community you don't want it known, but in Narnia? There's a fridge and a magnet on it with a notecard, 'In case of emergency, call Stephen and Wanda at number. He's magicboss and she scares demons.', so they know in some vague way. I'm the only one who deals with magic or magic-adjacent stuff, so there's always some *chance* I might get in a bind and they gotta know who to call."

That said, he adds with a handwave, "I like beaches. Sand happens. So what? Everyone in relaxed, casual clothes, a sunny day,… The smell of the sea, the sound of waves, the clear blue water— this would be in Hawaii of course— its about the nicest thing I can imagine. I admit I might need to learn to cast Ward vs Seagulls, though."

"Seagulls are nothing like the demons from the seventh circle of Hell. Or raging Maenads. Or offspring of the thirteen-tentacled horrors of the Pit. I can easily ward them when the time comes." Meandering to his chair, Strange sits down with a quiet grunt. The empty tea cup is set upon the side table and he leans back into the plush of the chair, watching Billy with paternal interest. "It'll come…sooner than later, I think. Call it a premonition. Still… I'm sorry that you've been placed in that situation, needing to repeatedly deflect the truth of things from them. It must be difficult. Would that I could remedy it without further impacting reality itself."

He settles an ankle on opposite knee and gives at least the impression of being comfortably relaxed in front of the young man. "You've done a very good job at keeping the general public from fear by not revealing us to them, Billy. I assure you, it's for the better. The world in this time doesn't need the extra paranoia of wondering what they cannot truly see floating about daily. The notecard is a necessarily evil, if it can even be counted as such a negativity," and he scoffs, flicking a hand dismissively before setting it back on the arm of the chair. "We'd arrive at the drop of a hat if you were in trouble, son." Another warm little smile.

"I still haven't quite gotten my mind around the entire idea of warding. What you have around here… I get they are protective powers, but they seem to have both *awareness* and some degree of autonomy that I don't entirely understand. Its almost like you made magic guard-dogs that have an animal's cunning but a knowledge that goes beyond what animals can do, but are almost alive. I wouldn't know how to even begin such a thing, and I wouldn't think of trying until I had a full, detailed plan on what was involved." Billy's admiration for warding is plain, but he adds after a moment with a slightly grim tone, "It is what it is: we can't really do anything about it. The sad part is? I think you'd like my dad. He's a doctor, a heart surgeon. Good. Reliable. Stable. Funny. He's that guy no one hates, and even when he succeeds, everyone just nods and is okay with. He doesn't mind being wrong, but he's not wrong very often. He's ernest in wanting to learn, to try, to face the challenge and *try*. He's not perfect: he likes martini's a little too much, but he's not a drunk and never lets it get in the way, and he's not mean. He just likes giving in to… not worrying about stuff, when he can." Billy shrugs a little. But then he lifts his teacup in faux-toast, "Oh, I get that, the general secrecy. There's just this fuzzy line of who is In the Know, and who is Not In The Know, that I am sometimes a little uncertain about. I try. But its not always clear." But then he smiles, dimples, "Oh I know you would. But part of adulting is standing on your own, too. Or, at least, learning how."

Strange listens to the expounding upon Billy's other father with interest. Perhaps one day, they might cross paths — though the heart surgeon will part ways with no knowledge of the true nature of the Sorcerer's duties and shadow of protection cast over his son.

"He seems like a man that one could admire. Good people, as my father would have called him," explains the master of the mansion. "He raised you well." If there's any melancholy in this missed parenting opportunity, it's kept close to Strange's chest rather than shown openly. "I would thank him for it if I could." A little nod grants a modicum of respect for the father not present. "I'll do what I can to step in where he can't. After all….yes, wards are complicated things."

Upon a silent mental summons, they wisp from the walls in curls of silvery starlight and wend over to the two men. The majority of them coalesce around the lines of shoulders beneath formal white shirt, though they do ruffle Billy's hair again — they might just have a sense of humor to boot, only with immediate family members. "The wardings came with the Sanctum when I became its master. I admit that I bolstered them, added additional charmings and modifications. The world has changed since they were laid down. No need to be caught with archaic enspellings against new dangers. They're tied into the Dragon Ley Lines that run beneath the Sanctum," and he points downwards towards the carpeted flooring. "That grants them their power. Nothing but the gods themselves can breach this place, Billy — and I mean multiple gods, not singular." Still…a harrowing thought, despite the small chance of such an attack. "The level of autonomy and sentience in in their spellwork. In the…weaving and the wording, if you will. I prefer them to have an ability to make a semi-educated decision as to the safety of this place and its inhabitants."

"He is." Billy agrees softly, on Good People, but he doesn't say more then he's already said. Either he hears what Strange holds most closely, or more likely, he simply finds it a difficult subject in and of tiself. He can't help but laugh briefly, as he re-positions his hair into Optimum Cuteness, such as can be done with no mirrors available, at least. Gods gives him pause; he's coming to grips with that particular worldview-alteration with some difficulty, "You say in one breathe, dragons, and another gods, and say so without a whole lot of weight. Or I fail at reading weight. The world is weirder then I ever imagined, even before I got my powers. Yet… I don't seem to quite *fit*, you know?" He shrugs. Its not a depression or sadness, him not fitting. Just a curiosity, an oddity. "There's Wanda of course, and some of what she does I read as like what I do. But the world seems to be full of rules and I don't know how all those rules work, or which apply to me— and why others don't. Dragon Lay Lines, for example. They empower the wards. I know with near-certainty nothing I ever cast will give a care at all for where I am. I'm not at all sure just how my power would interact with wards, for example. I don't say that as wanting to break these? But what if someday I need to break into an evil wizard's dark tower? Can I? What would be the effect? Is it a contest of wills, or my will against… lay lines? I just *don't know*. I don't seem to operate on the same rules as other people do." He pauses a moment, "You're a dog person, aren't you? Because both your cloak and the wards remind me of semi-sentient dogs."

The silvery wards linger about, slowly circling around between the back of Strange's neck and the high-backed chair itself, like some Saturnal ring in gravitational flux. He smiles with an enigmatic note, mostly to himself, as Billy finishes speaking.

"We're anything but normal in this family. Speaking so lightly of such poentially disturbing things would probably be construed as a coping mechanism by a psychologist. However, to me, these things are a normalcy. My reality became a multiverse when I accepted the mantle. I compartmentalize." He shrugs lightly. "I have my nightmares and sleep as I can. Your mother helps provide stability." An interesting stance, given her true nature as born of chaos. "You may never be normal. You may never fit in. It may take many years and many incidences to discover precisely what your powers may do. They are great, Billy…and it's to be lauded that you acknowledge this by using them carefully."

The interruption comes in the form of a side door to the living room creaking open. Instead of a human, rather, it's a Malk — Aralune, she of the Fae cat in silver and black stripes, blinking bright jade-green eyes, minces over to the Sorcerer Supreme. She's getting larger now, easily around thirty pounds of near-adult muscle weight, and nearly as tall as his knees at her shoulders. With a loud 'prrrrp', she carefully leaps into Strange's lap with a grunt and sprawls across him. Her purr fills the room, far louder than the average house cat, and she's a lazy draping that leaves her tail and forelimbs dangling from both arms of the chair.

"I am a dog person at heart, yes, but I have a soft spot too for other creatures," he murmurs, giving Billy an amused glance as his fingers find a good scritching spot behind a broad ear. Aralune stretches her black-stocking paws, revealing pale talons nearly as large as a small falcon. Eeep. Good thing she's tame!

The stance may be interesting, but Billy just accepts it. Mom's in his view are a special kind of comfort, and though Wanda has never been exactly motherly in a traditional sense, she cooks paella and she hugs him despite not being a touchy person. For Billy, that's enough. So he just nods acceptance of her providing stability. "I'm still working on it, making my own normalcy. As for the power… I see it as a responsibility. I'm not sure if God, or a god, chose me to have the power, but I have it. Its mine. All power has either a responsibility attached to it, or a drive to abuse it. That's the nature of power, I think. I want to be the first option. I think I can be proud of myself if I'm the first option. But I'm wary of the second option. Especially since I know some— most?— people don't pick that option on purpose." He eyes the fey-cat with a quick grin, "I admit, I'm more a cat person. I prefer a peer more then a pet, and something about cats says, ownership is questionable. Even mundane, unmagicy cats. Who are not large with scary talons."

Aralune is absolutely at home in her lolling length, the tip of her tail flicking in charcoal-black in and out of sight of the chair's frame from Billy's angle. Her nearly-shut eyes rest upon the young man and given her lack of reaction to his presence, he may count himself as accepted. Thus decrees the non-human queen of the Sanctum, in all her fuzzy disdainful majesty. The young man probably smells like some magical combination of Big Fuzzy and Soft Fuzzy in the Malk's mind.

"Oh, this one has no true owner. I expect her to start talking any day now." A tickle under the chin has the Fae cat perking her whiskers forwards and angling her head for better contact. "She feeds off of our bad luck. Thaumavore. It's rather nice to come home and know that nothing will be clinging to our auras for long. Don't ever let her scratch you. Their claws carry a hallucinogenic venom. I have the antidote, but it's still not pretty. Regardless…remember that I'm proud of you, Billy." It's an abrupt turn in conversation, but the Sorcerer Supreme is true in his statement; it's nearly a palpable thing, the faint sunlight of his pride in the young man. "So is your mother. We're proud."

Billy is stuck between embarassment and pride, at Strange's last words. He ducks his head and finishes his tea, but does add, "These questions I have, of my power, and how it interacts with these rules I don't understand… I want to explore. Safely. I'd like you to ward up a cabin in the woods or whatever, and I try to get in and work against your intent. Practice. I can figure out this stuff with someone I trust, so as to not make it be a question if I really need to face someone's wards. Plus maybe you can think of ways to ward against what I do: surely I can't be the only person besides Mom who does what I do. We can't be unique. But… a contest, for learning? I'd like that."

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