1965-04-20 - Telepaths Suck
Summary: Billy reports back to Dad about the telepath that bested him.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange billy 

There's a knock as usual, and when Strange answers, a worried looking Billy steps in and gets a heavy look-over from the wards— wards that will report there's an active ward surrounding Billy's mind at the moment, quite potent in fact. It's the first ward type thing Billy has ever done himself as far as anyone is concerned. "I need some tea. Ideally with something fortifying it, if you're not majorly in objecting to alcoholic tea?" He's tense.

The Sorcerer looks Billy over after the wards report in and his brows knit into a furious frown. Checking the odd surge in parental tendency (read as: a surprising spike of protective anger), he actually puts a hand between Billy's shoulders and walks him into the living room.

"Have a seat. I do have whiskey around, but if you can grant me a clear explanation as to the circumstances of the defensive Mystical construct around your mind before I pour, that would be best." The crystal decanter lives on the mantle above the fireplace, next to the coin jar with the iron bits in easy reach, and this Strange retrieves even as he's watching the young man with intense interest.

"Someone mind controlled me…" Billy's tone is incredibly grave at that, though he doesn't mind being ushered in, "…into casting a spell." His tone of voice indicates that mind controlling him to do anything else at all would have been a better circumstances. His voice drips of dire woe. "That I can actually be *mind controlled* into casting a spell is something I've never, ever, ever considered in my life; I just assumed I'd have to have the will behind it for the magic to work, but it didn't. He made me stop, and freeze all of the Planners in place, and I did it. It almost got everyone killed, he intended it to get everyone killed. The spell only lasted a little while when he intended it to last long enough for his minions to kill us, is the only bright side."

Even as he listens, Strange is collecting two highball glasses from a nearby cabinet. His motions slow and then come to a halt, leaving him standing on the hearth with a spectacular stillness to him. An inhalation and it seems that the very air vibrates around him within an inch. The fire gutters low, nearly down to the embers, and the shadows of the Sanctum briefly gain a nearly-sentient depth.

He closes off suddenly lightning-bright eyes and whispers, almost to himself, "Shhh." The ambient glow of the fireplace returns and the silvery wards curl back up into a corner of the room rather than slowly slipping tendrils about, seeking what perturbed their master. "No one is dead? Are you certain that your warding hasn't trapped something within?" he asks, his own voice serious on a scale rarely heard.

"None of us were seriously injured, though Teddy had minor wounds, but he heals incredibly fast. They killed two civilians before we arrived— did you hear about the robbery at the diamond exchange? This was that." Billy settles down in the chair, and sort of cringes at the texture of the Sanctum changes with Strange's mood. "I can't be entirely certain but I'm pretty sure. I can drop the defenses while in here, if you want to look for yourself. I'm… well Kaleb on my team has a sort of mind control himself, we're going to be working on other passive defenses because I can't very well have the mindward on all the time. It's worse. He knows my name: he read my mind and he knows who I really am. I don't even know what all he knows, only that he named me Mister Kaplan when he revealed himself."

Strange nods, tight-lipped. The clunk of a highball glass on the chair-side table is rather loud in the silence that follows Billy's further revelations. A slosh of whiskey — straight — goes into his glass, but no more than a finger at most. The other glass, set on the other side-table, gets about the same in volume.

He sets the decanter aside and then remains standing, his hands going behind his back. In his Master-blues, his is an almost militaristic air, charged as it is with minute twinklings of magic. This is pure proof of how perturbed the Sorcerer is; rest assured that his other half will notice along the thrumming lines of their soul-bond.

And then begins the pacing before the fireplace. "I would like to look, yes, but only with your explicit permission. Mind magic is…especially questionable to me. Personally. The chance, the merest off-chance, of causing severe and irreversible psychic trauma is never worth the risk, not even at play." He walks over to Billy as he speaks and then stops before the young man, looking down upon him. "Do I have your permission? On my soul-sworn mantra and with all the care I possess, I assure you that there will be no tampering on my part. If I find anything, I'll be certain to tell you immediately as well as discuss what I can do to remove it."

Billy lifts a hand and makes a vague gesture over his face, that's all, and the warding vanishes. He gives Strange a sort of odd look at all this swearing and assurances, and shakes his head at it, "You're my dad." he says simply, "I trust you. You don't need to do all that swearing. I don't have any secrets from you and I know you'll always do what's right with regards to me." But he does take up the glass and take a small sip, and winces: whiskey isn't his drink. But he takes another sip. "So yeah. Of course. You have my permission. You have my permission to do whatever you need to do."

An extra ounce of gravitas enters Strange's mein. He nods and attempts a smile, almost as if to cover nerves on his part. It's one thing to operate on a patient, one never met before in one's life. It's another thing to attempt to rifle through the very mind of one of your own offspring.

"Alright then." The acknowledgement is as simple as that. He bends at the waist while rubbing his fingertips together on separate hands, as if gathering static at their tips. "Close your eyes and relax. I'm not going to tell you to clear your mind because you may not be able to do it, but it will make things easier if you can manage some semblence of mental composure." Lightly-textured fingertips, three on each side, come to rest on Billy's temples. The Sorcerer doesn't lean in too closely, even as he shuts his own eyes and his face gains the slack of concentration, the intensity betrayed only by crow's-feet at the corners of his eyes.

Billy will feel something akin to cool mist rushing about his scalp, beneath his hair, before the subtle intrusion almost akin to a voice in one's head. Present, not overwhemingly so, familiar in the way that kin can be.

Billy closes his eyes and actually manages to clear his mind quite well: he's good at meditation.

Billy's mind is unlike anyone elses— save perhaps Tommy— and on the first touching of his thoughts that becomes completely obvious. Its chaos. Oh, *who he is*, his personality, his values, his behavior, those are all set and clarion clear. But his history, his life before he came to here, is a shattered mess of jumbled memories that don't match up or fit together into anything like a coherent shape. How he manages to remember anything of his past is remarkable. He always said his memory of the past-future were a mess. To the mind magics, that's blatantly obvious.

But the memories of the last two years are clear. And his memory of yesterday quite clear: the stark terror when flying above the others he casts lightning down at the human-guised robot, only to suddenly feel a presence in his mind that utterly overrides his will. The feeble struggle. The mind rifling through his mind, thoughts and memories in short order so that it knows even how to force him to cast. Wecan'tmovewecan'tmovewecan'tmove.

The memory of that mind is there, but there is no lingering presence. It was not mind magic, but simple 'natural' telepathic ability.

There is a hateful glare Billy remembers giving the man who wielded him as a weapon against his friends: Tall, pale green skin, a head half again too large for his body, black hair. The Leader.

The Sorcerer's dark brows begin to knit as he relives the most immediate sequence of memory. His own lips thin and part in a snarl, an empathetic reaction, given how closely-tied he is in this moment to the flow of thoughts. He fixes the details of the foreign man in his mind, down to the color of the being's eyes — the one called Leader — before slowly lightening his touch. As the tide recedes, he withdraws from the crystalline chaos of his son's mind and even as he opens his eyes, he's slowly inhaling.

"…that son of a bitch," Strange spits, taking a long step back and then to one side, scarred hands curled at his sides. "I should — " and he stops himself visibly, his cheekbones rising high and prominent in passing as he clenches his jaw. "I saw nothing left behind, only the memory itself," he reports to Billy, attempting to lower his inner ire. It's hard when the corners of one's eyes are now smoking pale, translucent wisps of energy, like silver-lavender candlesmoke.

Billy nods, lifting a hand up to rub at his forehad, murmuring, "Illithids bane, illithids bane, illithids bane, illithids bane, illithids bane." The magic of the ward forms up around his mind, seeming… sharper, almost offensive instead of being purely defensive, as the ward was before. The previous ward could block a telepath, this? By the look of the magic, it might hit back. He takes a deep breath, and a longer drink, and a wince given at that. "Yeah, I'm not at all a fan. The only good thing I can think of the experience is the spell lasted barely long enough for him to escape, not long enough for his robot minions to kill us. I want to say that means if someone forces me, the spell will be… blunted? Weakened? Still, the idea of someone using _my_ power?" He sighs softly, "The only justification I know for someone to be able to do what I do, to force their will on reality, and for it to be okay? Is if they do it within a moral and ethical understanding of right and wrong. That someone could use my power through me to do anything? It makes my skin crawl."

"It's disturbing and utterly unethical," Strange growls. The fire gutters again, but only briefly as the man composes himself once more. He twiddles fingers at his sides, feeling the stinging of over-extended nerves remind him that making fists until his knuckles whiten isn't entirely a wise idea. He steps over to his own glass and throws back half of it with a quick sniff.

"It's reassuring to hear that your own limitations inacted upon the attempt in turn. It's a buffer, but…not enough, unfortunately." He turns to face Billy again, expression grim. "You said that someone in your team was going to tutor you on these defenses? Kaleb? I wasn't aware of this ability of his."

Billy's quiet for a moment, as the fire dims and things get grim, but then he nods his head. GRim is the appropriate mood. "Kaleb can control sound. He can utterly remove my ability to spellcast— when we go after this guy, he'll be a key buffer in case he gets past my ward— he can do sonic attacks… but he can also do this thing. Its not quite mind control. Its not telepathic. Its .. I don't know how to explain it. He can make suggestions that are tuned so perfectly that people will obey them. But will to resist his thing, we think, would be the same will to resist a telepath. Or at least, its a start. I can't allow someone else to wield my power. My power is my responsibility. If he were to do something with it more serious, it would be _my_ responsibility that it happened even if it happened against my will."

Strange swirls the amber liquid in his glass as he considers Billy once more. The wisps remain at the corners of his eyes, proof of his ire under tight control. Each blink sends another fine riffle of smoke.

"I doubt that another opportunity will come along for this…Leader to succeed again. You are aware of the attempt — this was his mistake. Leaving you to know of it. What precisely, however, is Kaleb going to do? Teach you this ability?"

"I can't be warded at all times, the spell just… doesn't last. I can dismiss it whenever I want, but its not like… permanent. Spells augmenting people aren't permanent, I don't quite understand their duration. Now when we go for him, yes, I'll make sure the ward is up. But what about if he comes for me? He knows who I am. There's only so many Billy Kaplan's in the phonebook. He might catch me off guard." Billy pauses a moment, and he winces, "I assume he's going to make me do various embarassing things until I build up the will to make it stop. Like, oh, standing on one foot and hopping like a fool."

The very idea of someone subjecting Billy to humiliation is enough to make his father become very still once more. The silvery wards swish down and around him, like the ghost of a dragon, before idling off into the room proper again.

"There are foci. Charms. Imbuements in objects themselves that linger far longer than a spell itself, ungrounded as it may be," Strange reminds quietly. "Do you need me to strengthen the wardings around your apartment?"

"Yeah, I don't know how to do that yet. The closest I've come to is what I call 'standing spells', the wardrobes. I.. wait." Billy pauses, looking thoughtful, "If I could make a standing spell of the ward, I… should experiment with this. I need to find a telepath willing to help me out, but I've made contact with the mutants at Xavier's Institute, so I should be able to get one to help me practice." He nods his head, "That's a good idea. A standing spell on a necklace or something." There's a moments pause, on wardings, "Can you ward against telepathy? … or robots? I don't entirely understand wards. I, uh, built the mindward on pure instinct in a moment of panic."

"It was effective, what you built," the man comments before he throws back the last of his drink. The highball glass is set aside before he chooses to sit down in his own chair, finally. Strange takes a moment to rub at one of his temples, fighting the onset of a headache, before he considers Billy again.

"You can ward against just about anything you wish. The difficulty comes in the precision of the warding. Can you ward against getting wet? Yes. But what about temperature? What about location? What if you wanted to shower?" He lifts a hand in a form of shrug. "A standing spell could work, one way or another. It sounds like you've already got assistance in developing your defenses further. What would you have me do?

Billy hesitates, thoughtful, tentative. He finishes his own glass and eyes it for a long moment, "I didn't come for you to do something, I just thought, you should know. I know if I need saving, you'll help me. But … well, if you have any advice for how to defend against this sort of assault? But if you could ward our apartment against telepathy, when I sleep, if he came… that would be bad." Billy cringes, "The robots, Teddy can handle. He's strong enough to juggle cars and throw trains. But telepathy around the apartment is a problem. Also… what we talked about yesterday? Warding my other parents place? Now that someone knows ME, I think that's more important then ever."

"Yes, I can see where the need would increase for the warding about the other location. I believe I can get it done within the next day, and I don't require your presence. I can lay something down as easily externally on the property as internally — and no one will be the wiser or observe me doing it." Strange allows himself the ghost of a prideful smile in passing. "The boons of being Sorcerer Supreme as well as continued learning," he comments. "In regards to advice…practice." Again, another lifted hand, and he looks resigned to hand out this particular counsel. "A spell inset within an object is only as present as the object itself. This particular defense has to come from within. In terms of my own practice, I chose to approach it visually, within my mental eye. I built up my layers, brick by brick, over time, and had a fellow practitioner test them. They passed." A wryly-amused expression flashes across his face. "He tests them as need be when I ask it of him."

"Isn't that the same thing Kaleb is suggesting doing? But you had, err, a look on your face. About the hopping on one foot." Billy flushes slightly and he shrugs, "But yeah, I'll find a telepath for the standing spell in the necklace of.. Dymphna, the patron saint of shrinks and mental health professionals." Billy shrugs again, "But thanks. For my muggle parents. This guy, he'll find them before he finds you— unless he read about you in my mind. I can't be sure he didn't. He might have compromised the whole family through me." Billy ducks his head to hide the shame.

With his head ducked, Billy might miss the momentary sharky look his father adopts. His irises flash nearly silver again at the thought of delivering his especial brand of come-uppance in the case of an attempt at hunting himself…or even Wanda.

"We are, all of us in this family, perfectly capable of holding our own against what the world may send against us," he reminds the young man quietly, expression gone paternal once more. "If he comes to speak with me, upon his head be it. If he attempts anything with your mother, well…I doubt that I'll need to step in. She has her own brand of justice." A sigh and then a nod.

"I must have mis-heard earlier, in terms of who was going to attempt to make you hop about on one foot. I'd rather it be a friend who understands his limits than a psychopath imposing his will. I would like to be kept updated of your progress in this, Billy. I can even test your advancement myself, if you wish me to."

"If you see a green guy with a stupid goatee and a head a half size too large, don't listen to him speak. That's the guy who murdered two people. What he did to me, its nothing compared to that, in justice needing." Billy waves a hand a bit, but then he nods, "Yeah, Kaleb… is a friend." There's a certain tentativeness to that word. "Or, rather, I know we're on the same side. His twin brother I trust more, but I know he's not an enemy, and I know works to do good. He's going to make me hop to help me, so I can build the will to resist even if a ward isn't up. I trust his intention." But he nods then, "I'll keep you updated. And I welcome testing. This… that someone can do this to me, is the most frightening thing I've ever heard of. And its extremely dangerous to the …well, reality. I can't allow it. So, I need to be tested by anyone who can test me."

"I can't allow it either." As loathe as he appears to have to say it, there it is, quietly and firmly nonetheless. "You know that I'm here to support you, Billy. When you arrive, I will test you — and I will do it assuming that you have been practicing regularly…as an apprentice might do," and the Sorcerer smiles slightly. It fades after a moment. "I'll have to tell your mother of what happened, but I believe that I can do so without risking her temper or her haring after you for more details. She may contact you regardless, so…my suggestion is baklava."

And Strange gives his wisest nod yet.

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