1965-04-29 - Semantics
Summary: Tony and Strange have a lively conversation.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
tony strange 

Sometimes a man just wants to talk to someone on his level, even if the topics they have in common are almost nil. Bucky's question about who Tony relates to struck a nerve. He tried out a 'war' story with Steve and it was okay, but he's not sure he nailed it or got the point. For someone as socially 'on' as he is, saying something and meaning it is hard work.

So he's come around to the Sanctum, and he's brought fine whiskey to present to the Sorcerer Supreme. Tony Stark knows his whiskey. Smooth, warm, with a hint of smokiness. Thus is it presented with a glib, "Thought you might be interested in this."

In his light black jacket overtop a forest-green dress shirt and dark jeans, Strange is decidedly…mundane today. He takes the bottle and holds it up to the light shining in from the windows in the sitting room.

"Hmm. I wouldn't say no to a finger of it. It's been…a trial of a week." Handing the bottle back to Tony, he turns and walks to fetch two highball glasses. "What brings you to haunt my stoop, Stark? This is twice in so short a time. Do you have more to report to me?" A small curl of friendly smirk to shot towards the man over Strange's shoulder.

"That good?" Tony says, of the week Strange has had. He's dressed in black trousers and a red button-down under an undershirt, hiding the blue glow on his chest. Red's a good color on him, so is gold. "There aren't any good benefits on a Sunday night," he says, "so who will I drink with and mock lesser beings?"

He looks around the place. Nng, antiquity. "How do you keep this house up?" he asks. "There are a lot of curved surfaces. You'd think they would collect dust." He smiles wryly at Strange. "Nothing more to report, though. I'm usually just the guy who fixes stuff and pays for it."

The baritone chuckle can be heard as he turns back from fetching the glasses, walking back over to his guest. "I'm honored to be included in your spare, benefit-free time. I have the wards as butlers. But ah, yes, that's right — you can't See them." Subtle emphasis on the word implies the capital letter. Setting aside the glasses, he then looks off towards a shadowy corner of the Sanctum and lifts a hand towards it. To his eyes, the guardian spells waft out from the wooden infrastructure and attend upon him. They swirl about him in a cyclonic fashion before settling about his neck, almost as a stole.

To Tony, the air might feel to drop a few degrees and move of its own accord, out of the blue, considering none of the windows of the sitting room are open. "Here…" Strange murmurs and gestures once more, the subtle glow about his pupils increasing by a lumen. Out of nowhere, it will appear that he has a pale blue fog lingering above his shoulders. "There. Can you see them?"

Tony follows Strange's gaze with his own. Magic may not be his bag, and in his day to day he might not even think about it, but he's a curious soul. His hair prickles on the back of his neck as the temperature goes cooler. "Is that an endothermic reaction?" he asks. "There's something pulling energy out of the air."

Then Strange gestures, and Tony looks into the air at the pale blue fog. He reaches for it to see if he can trail his fingers through it. "What is it?" he asks. "Where does it come from?"

"Simplest put, energy. An endothermic reaction, yes, likely a side-effect of the presence of the wards." The spell itself is barely palpable to Tony's touch, feeling more like a collection cooler air and perhaps the minutest friction of electrostatic, akin to touching the surface of the finest microfiber cloth. It doesn't seem to react to the presence of fingers within it, more attuned to the Sorcerer instead. An extension of his arm and the spell curls down and around it to coalesce about his scarred hand. Strange watches it with a small and fond smile.

"It comes from within this reality proper. I try hard not to draw from other realities and dimensions unless I absolutely must. For every action in that instance, there's generally a reaction, and some are less than savory from the beings who live in these alternate realms."

"It's a sustained reaction," Tony comments, more or less to himself, and his interest is definitely piqued. He watches the spell curl around Strange's hand, then studies the man himself. He moves slowly enough to be stopped, but the scientist in him just has to know and touches Strange's cheek. There's nothing intimate about the action; he's taking the man's surface temperature.

"So it follows rules," he says. "Is there a repository of this 'energy' that you tap from? I know it's from this reality but where does it come from?"

Within his demesne (and far too proud to flinch away), Strange allows the soft touch against his cheek, though don't mistake the flintier glint in his eyes as silent warning. The warding spells themselves reverse their original course and swirl back up and behind the Sorcerer's head, to showcase that looks almost like a halo behind his dark hair.

To Tony's touch, the man's skin is body-warmth, good old 98.6 F. The biggest difference? More of the finest micro-frisson of what the scientist might construe as static, though this contains a fluidity impossible; the Sorcerer's natural aura, hypercharged through his mantle.

"It follows what rules I and the original architects of this Sanctum ask of it. That it happens to follow one of the rules of science is happenstance," and he grins rather toothily, as if pleased to buck the boundaries of known logic. "The repository is below our feet. A ley line, and the largest one in North America."

Tony's eyes narrow as he explores the impossible almost-static-but-not, lifting his touch away from skin but remaining within the aura. The glint in Strange's eyes is noted, but Tony doesn't seem worried, he's weighed his odds. The last thing he wants is to harm the wizard. There are Things To Be Known.

"Still, it has rules," Tony says. He glances down as the ley line is mentioned. Nope, can't see nor sense it. He lowers his hand and nods to himself. Then he says, "Are you really so bent about parallels to science? What exactly do you think science is?"

"You're asking this of the top neurosurgeon of our generation." There's no excess pride, merely the statement of fact and the set of his jaw. "I thought I knew what science was once, Stark." Strange's voice is quiet as he turns to reach for his glass. Gathering it up, he sips at it and mulls the liquor about his tongue. "Mmm, not half-bad. What I knew was severely restricted," he continues, looking back at the genius-inventor once again. "Science has much to learn before it begins to understand what the human mind alone can conceive. My only limitation is my imagination and my willpower."

Tony holds up a finger and says, "Doctors, even the best, knows a lot of scientific facts about biology, maybe chemistry, but you're telling this to the top engineer and scientist of our generation. Astrophysics and quantum mechanics aren't exactly something that a neurosurgeon needs to worry about." So there, he's not calling neurosurgeons useless. Just. Not scientists.

"Science is the business of understanding," Tony says. "The thing about it, is that it's always changing, always evolving. The more we know, the broader it is. The worst mistake a person can make is assuming science is static just because it deals in what's known. It also deals in what's not."

He takes up his glass of whiskey and takes a small sip. He's measuring his doses of booze when he's out and about. Damned Rogers, making him want to be a better person. "Real science is excited about that statement," he points out. "That there is much to learn. I posit that even magic follows rules."

By the time Tony finishes his thought, Strange has taken a stiff-legged stance and crossed his arms. With a faint wrinkle at his nose and the whiskey glass almost forgotten in his grip tucked where it is against his ribs, he even squints.

"Magic defies rules, Stark. I won't disagree that science is about advancements. Gods know that I was on the cutting edge of neuroscience as it was, those years ago. I was nearly a god myself." His smile is more snarl, sharp at the old scar of lost accolades. "In turn, I would never assume that science isn't constantly evolving. I merely assert that science has a long way to go before it can understand what I can do with a snap of my fingers."

And he brings up his readied fingers, scarred as they are, with an expression almost daring Tony to test him.

Tony's brows lift, and he glances at that scarred hand, then to Strange's face. "You're good," he says. "Wouldn't deny it. You're the best at what you do, it's in your nature. It's why I like you." He's torn. He has so much to talk about, but he really wants to see what happens when Strange snaps those fingers.

"I'm not saying your mojo follows science's rules. I only mean it follows its own. It would have to. Even if that rule is 'from your mind to your fingertips.'"

He tilts his head. "You really don't like the idea of working within a system, do you." His gaze flits to those readied fingers. Hmm.

The impending release of the snap is delayed and hangs like the Sword of Damocles, sharp like Strange's attention upon the genius-inventor.

"I like the idea of bending rules to my whims rather than being subject to them," the Sorcerer admits quietly with no hesitation. "Knowledge once gained can rarely be forgotten. My world is no longer a small and lonely planet in a nicely-organized solar system, Stark. I cannot be limited by rules. Not now, not ever again." Behind him, the guardian spells slowly fade out of sight, no longer commanded by their master to remain within view of the visitor. The ambient drop in temperature remains about the men.

Tony really wants to know what the snapped fingers will do! Yet, at the same time, he knows it can't be good. Is it weird that that makes him want to provoke them even more?

"You're preaching to the choir," he says. "The best thing about rules is breaking them. Coloring inside the lines is the most tedious kind of mediocrity. But!" Here, he holds up a finger, "all I'm saying is every system has its share of order. Chaos, too." He's then compelled to mention, "The solar system isn't all that neatly organized. We're one gamma burst from a neutron star, a galaxy or two away, from the end of life on Earth." For some reason, that fact makes him feel better.

"How mundane, a gamma burst." Strange lowers his hand, but keeps the fingers engaged. They tremble faintly as they're tested by his resolve in turn. "I'm concerned about things beyond that, Stark. However, let's be clear: I don't break the rules. I merely bend them." The emphasis comes with a small nod.

He turns away as he sips at the whiskey. The clunk of landing comes from him setting it aside. "Are you so concerned about order? A professed rule-breaker such as yourself?" Slowly turning in place, he faces Tony again. Oh, look — still holding the snap at bay.

"Not at all," Tony says. He takes a sip of his whiskey, savoring that sweet smoky flavor and the familiar burn. "I'm marveling at finally meeting an ego bigger than my own." He punctuates the words with a bright, chipper smile. "It makes me wonder what a man of such unspeakable capability is so worried about what a 'mere' engineer thinks of him."

He watches those unsnapped fingers as he paces, not restless but waiting. "I'm interested in systems, and the way order and chaos play with each other within them. It's how I figure out what it is that I do. That and never being satisfied with the answers to the questions 'how' and 'why.'

"What I'm really curious about though is what you're threatening me with, and why."

"Really." The Sorcerer raises a dark and unimpressed eyebrow at his guest.

"I never threaten, Stark. I act. You're curious as to what may happen if I release the potential stored within the friction of my fingertips. You're also attempting to goad me to do it." The vanished smile returns with a rather smug note. "If you ask nicely, I may demonstrate just how much I can bend your science to my whims. As I mentioned before, imagination has no bounds…and the impossibilities are endless."

Tony regards Strange with intense interest. "I'm curious," he admits. "You're an interesting person with interesting capabilities among millions upon millions of mundane dullards. Very little surprises me, but you do stuff that does. Is it such a bad thing to be impressed? I'm not used to holding the sentiment."

Another drink, though his eyes never leave Strange. "I've seen you bend the rules of known science. I know you can. What I can't figure out is which nerve I've touched," he says. "If it's because I question, don't take it personally. I only question things I find interesting."

He laughs twice quietly. "I'm not offended. Rest assured…you would know if I was offended." The hand holding the snap in stasis is lowered and the digits relaxed entirely. Strange wiggles them during a side-glance, ascertaining their flexibility, before turning and walking away to stand before the fireplace. "I'll be honest with you, however. I don't care if you're impressed. I might have once, long ago." He glances back at Tony over his shoulder.

"You may question as much as you like. All I ask is that you do not underestimate the Arts. Do not mock it, not in this Sanctum. This is a hallowed place on this earth. It was chosen as such before even the gods dared to set foot upon it." His gaze lingers. "Do not limit yourself to the narrow crack of the door. Magic is an entire universe beyond it."

"I never underestimate what I don't understand. Hell, I don't underestimate the things I do understand." He gestures to himself, brows lifting. "I'm sorry, did you think I was mocking your thing? I'm trying to conceptualize it. Comparing it with scientific principles isn't mockery, Doctor, it's the highest form of praise. See, you may think my 'mere' science is a joke, but it's the only thing worth taking seriously. I'll ignore your insults about it, because science doesn't have to care what you think of it to do its work, and I know my own relevance."

He studies Strange over another drink. "Are you really so disconnected from the natural world you hold that much disdain for it?"

"You attempted to posit a limit upon it. I dislike limits." Strange looks back to the fire again and sighs. "And it's the opposite, Stark. I hold the world and all in it with the greatest regard. Without it, I do not exist, and ergo, neither does this reality. That is the scope of my purview: the entire universe that we know and hold dear. The air we breathe, the beat of a living heart, and the stars that twinkle in the night sky. My reach extends even beyond that, in turn."

He pauses for a time. The Sanctum has its fair share of creaks and groans, as any old mansion might, and something rustles about upstairs given the brisk sound of phantasmal feet. Strange ignores it all. "Disdain, no. Not at all. If anything, I have been accused of caring over-much at times. When you can see the entire picture, it becomes difficult to avoid meddling. You understand, this difficulty. You are a staunch believer in science. So am I, Stark." He meets the man's eyes again. "I can mock it because I know its limits and I am an old friend to it. I like it no less for having been educated of its limits in turn. I merely ascribe to a different calling now."

"Limits are nothing more than the boundary of current understanding," Tony says, "and the conviction that nature follows rules. Which it does right up until it doesn't. The Big Bang theory tells us how the universe formed, but not what set it off. Nothing about our knowledge of its creation accounts for its creation, if that makes sense. Regardless, if you drop an apple and bowling ball from the same height, they hit the ground at the same time. Maybe it's better for your dislike of limits to suggest that there might be constants. Ones you understand that I don't. I only mean if you will a.. what is it called, a ward? If you will that into being, you're reasonably sure that a ward will come and not, say, a thousand butterflies bursting out your eyeballs. That's all I mean."

A glitter of humor shows in Strange's scrutiny. "That's quite the visual. Are you certain you've never seen that happen before? It takes an imagination to come up with something like that. Maybe you're not as narrow-minded as I initially suspected." His smile sharpens. "Egotistical, however, yes. I'll grant you the constants," he continues after facing Tony once more, his hands behind his back almost in a militaristic air. "That much I can agree upon."

Tony spreads his hands and says "I'm an imaginative guy." Then he holds up a finger and asks, "And it's not that egotistical if you're just that good." Then he points at Strange. "We see things more the same than we do differently. Semantic differences aside."

He's forgotten his boy-scouty ways regarding the whiskey and has a stiff drink. Then he sighs. "Man, it's nice to talk to someone who can hold his own in a conversation." Because for Tony? This is fun.

"A compliment. Stark, you're too kind. And a drink to boot," Strange says as he wanders over and collect his briefly-ignored glass. A throw-back of the golden liquor and he clears his throat as he considers the remaining drop at the bottom. "…another time, perhaps," he murmurs, setting the container aside. No sleight of hand today with bottomless drinks. "Regardless, yes. I appreciate the ability to converse with someone who can hold their own, as you put it. However, I must send you on your way. The whiskey I can keep, for another time and another discussion."

He walks towards the entryway door, glancing back at Tony. "I have a cult meeting to get to, you see, and they're always annoyed if I run late. Punctuality is oddly important to them." The sly smirk is no indicative of lie or truth. Who knows?

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