1965-05-12 - Stephen Strange and Peter Parker -- and science!
Summary: They discuss science, or what science is.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
peter-parker strange 

Stepping out of the most exclusive of labs— which isn't far from Tony's office since its where his personal projects get worked one— we find one Peter Parker. He's dressed in jeans, a plain white t-shirt, and a button up blue, grey and white stripede shirt over that, though its not actually buttoned up. He's absorbed in the notebook he has open before him, a pencil in hand as he jots down what looks to be some… very complicated math.

A baritone, just shy of sonorous and yet precise by diction, travels well enough in the hallways of Stark given their architecture.

"Off the premises? That's unfortunate. I'll stop by another time. Yes, let him know that I wished to speak with him. No, no," and the tall silver-templed man in the black blazer waves a dismissive and scarred hand at the receptionist. "It's not pressing. An appointment? No." His laugh is warm and, yes, presumptuous. "Mr. Stark never seems to mind when I drop in unexpectedly. My name? Doctor Strange. Thank you," and with that, he turns away from the desk. Bright eyes catch movement off to one side, accompanied by the sound of doors closing, and he allows himself a smile. "Ah. Peter, right?" In dark dress pants, shined shoes, and a white dress-shirt, Strange doesn't give the appearance of a patron of the Mystic Arts — at least, not today.

Peter looks up and doesn't immediately recognize Doctor Strange out of his sorcerer supreme outfit, but after a couple blinks he offers a quick grin, "Mr. Strange." He folds up the notebook and tucks it under an arm, and steps over to the reception desk where the Doctor is being turned away, and there he offers a hand. His grip is very carefully strong but not too strong; there's something very precisely controlled in the gesture. "Here to see Mr. Stark? He's not in, I'm pretty sure." Pause, "Would you like to wait for him in the lab?"

Strange returns the handshake, and the barest trembling might be felt on the disconnect of his grip.

"No, not today. I was…in the neighborhood and thought that I would drop in. Well, rather, walk in rather than arrive in a more potentially-startling manner." He smirks the slighest. "If you spend enough time in Stark's labs, I'm certain you'll be present for this. I'm apparently worth a few signatures on NDAs." His hands slip away into the pockets of his blazer and he studies Peter. "What were you working on today then, Peter?"

Peter hesitates a moment, then gives a shrug, "I've an internship here, Mr. Stark moves me from project to project depending on where he needs me." The idea of Mr. Stark 'needing' a college kid might be an unfortunate turn of phrase, it certainly can't be right, right? The question has him unsure, though, "Well… artificial but realistic skin." He finally decides its not especially secret, "One application will be for burn victims, just as an example. I can't talk about all the applications, though. My major is in chemistry, with a lot of additional personal studies focusing on biochemistry."

"Ah, I see." Despite the age gap, Strange's small smile grows truer. "I understand. Don't let me make you feel pressured into telling me. If Stark feels that it's appropriate, he will tell me himself. Or let it slip. Either one of these things, he seems to vacillate between the two methods." An outstretched hand indicates they might walk and talk even as the Sorcerer takes the first step back down the hallway towards the front doors of Stark Industries.

"Artificial but realistic skin, however…that's a fascinating application of material. I presume the make-up of the skin is biologically accepted by whatever host cells it is grafted upon?"

Peter follows along, nodding his head slightly as he grins, "Well, some applications are like, Avengers business, and you're not an Avenger. But you're more or less on the same side as us, right? So I don't mind talking about it some." He then nods his head with an easy smile, "In theory, though we haven't gotten close enough to start testing biocompatibility, but right now…" He opens his notebook and gestures— the math he was writing out before is under a diagram of a very, very complex hydrocarbon chain, "I'm going for biologically neutral; note the goal is not to restore sensation completely, though it would somewhat, this is primarily a cosmetic prosthetic." He pauses, "Is 'Doctor' like, a medical doctor?"

Strange tilts his head to look over the sketching of the molecules, noting the mathematics involved with it, and then nods.

"Once upon a time, yes. I was in the top echelon of the neurosurgical sciences. However, life — and Fate — have a way of…how to put it." He clicks his tongue before glancing back at Peter again. "Rudely shaking things up when one gets too comfortable. I retain the title by proxy of my past successes. I sometimes take time out of my day to consult at various practices and hospitals around New York." He looks again to the open notebook. "Biologically neutral, however, is the best place to start, yes. Something the body won't reject or give cause for infection. The Avengers, however? No," and he laughs again, more softly, gaining that charming curl of pride about his lips. "I'm not an Avenger. I am something else entirely."

"Hey, if someone told me when I was 14 that a school trip would get me bitten by a spider and turned into a guy who can casually throw a car without noticing it weighed anything at all?" Peter laughs, an easy smile, and shakes his head, "I believe in Fate and its ability to set us whee we're going without any regard for where we thought we're going. It's good, though." He nods to Strange, "To be able to hold onto what you can of your old life. That's me, here. And it sounds like you, consulting. even if its not all the time."

Peter glances down at the notebook again, thoughtfully, "Yeah, but actually, I'm working in parallel a similar compound with a completely different application. Spray it on a wound, and it seals it up, and has antiseptic properties, so its like a biologically neutral general sealant, for emergency first aid. Significantly reduces infection, stops blood flow, etc. I'll have to develop a solvent so that, later, a surgeon can remove a portion of it at a time and repair damage."

Strange's small and crooked smile is parts wistful in passing.

"I would have it that Fate butted out of my personal life from time to time, but alas — she does like to muddy the waters," he comments quietly. "A spider, however…? You'll have to explain that to me, considering you have no…true sense of the Mystical about you. At least, not that I have encountered yet as my time as the Guardian of Reality." The tonal inflection capitalizes each word. He nods in harmless greeting to a Stark Industries security guard as they exit out into the main lobby. The man doesn't return the gesture; of course, on duty.

"Stark must be aware of the potential applications of these things — the graft and especially the sealant, in terms of the war? In returning soldiers and veterans of past wars alike?" he asks even as they approach the front doors of the building.

"My school went to this science lab of this company, General Techtronics Corp, they were sponsoring a science field trip. In one of their labs, they were irradiating spiders, testing the effects on the webs they produced. One got away. Bit me. So." Peter keeps his voice low as they approach the front doors, "It bit me. I was like, ow. The next morning, I had abs, could sense the future, and get hit by a train and not be so much bothered by it." He shrugs, "But yeah, Mr. Stark knows. Well I haven't told him of my idea for the second application of the skin-like-material, but when I do, he'll understand the implications. Its what first came — well second, burn victims was my first — to mind when I started thinking about this project. I'm not smarter then Mr. Stark. He'll get it. But… its why I'm so focused. I can't imagine those poor guys… if we can help them…"

A hand alights briefly on Peter's shoulder in a pat. "I understand, in perhaps more ways than one, about the drive to aid others — to use your knowledge and passion to help society. Your motive is far purer than mine was towards the end of my career. Never let pride shackle you. It will bring you low." He doesn't quite roll his eyes, but the insinuation of rue is present enough. "Stark will recognize the sealant's importance, I assure you. If not, merely let me know. I will impress it upon him." And by the tone of his voice, Strange is certain he can accomplish this as need be.

His light eyes run up and down Peter's body and return to his face, accompanied by the loft of one brow. "You don't look like a were-spider, however, so it's not a curse, whatever granted you these…abilities you mentioned. Perhaps it was this radiation that allowed the symbiosis…if you could call it that." A little shrug.

"Pride shackle me?" Peter doesn't immediately appear to understand, but though he's proud of many things, he's tethered to humbleness. "I'm not sure what that means." he admits. He nods, "Oh, he'll recognize it, I'm sure of it. There's no way Mr. Stark won't think of something I've thought of. He's Mr. Stark." The mild tone of hero worship is there in the notes of his voice. Tony has gathered under his wing a genius of a generation and has already completely won him over. But he has to laugh softly, "I can't explain it, as I have no usable sample of before or after. Somehow I took on… certain traits of the spider. Its the Spidey-Sense that most confuses me, because frankly I can't find any scientific way to explain it at all." That does worry him slightly; but this kid is such the consumate scientist.

"Ah," and Strange grins. "That expression — I know it well. There are things, and will be things, Peter, that cannot be explained by science. Not yet, anyhow. I have faith that humanity will continue to expand its scientific knowledge, considering that we tend to reach for the stars." He glances up as they leave the building proper and emerge into the night. It's not brisk, only a little cool as the day might be after being sunny. "As long as this Spidey-Sense fits into the puzzle that is your life, you could be content, hmm? But no…" and he regards Peter once more. "You'll keep searching for the answers. I can tell. I was once like you, in a way." His smile, while crooked, is still true. "I'm not less like you, if you will…burdened with the need to understand it all. Why this? Why that? 'Why' indeed, the word to plague a scientist. My purview simply extends beyond science these days."

"But are there things science can never understand, Doctor Strange? Because I don't believe that's true. I don't think there's anything I can't figure out, eventually." Peter's humility falls away in that statement, but he says it with utter sincerity. "I'm content its there, it keeps me safe. That doesn't mean I don't want to understand it… if I could understand it, maybe I could expand it somehow, grow it, train it. Maybe its more then the one moment in the future, maybe its a second. Maybe I could grow it to sense a danger to things besides just me, or bigger then me. I don't know. I don't know I can, but I don't know I can't. Not knowing bugs me." He shrugs, "I can't not always look for answers, Doctor. I'll always be that guy or I won't be anything I recognize as myself."

Strange's eyes flick back up to the stars above, barely visible beyond the glow of the city lights.

"I miss the farm sometimes," he mumbles to himself before laughing faintly. "No wonder Stark likes having you around. We discuss the same thing regularly over drinks: whether or not science itself has a limit. For example, if I claimed that I could stabilize a black hole…would you believe me? Or does that defy all current standards of scientific logic? And would you be able to sleep knowing this…?" Too late now, given his grin.

Peter doesn't even *hesitate* so sure is he, "Science isn't a thing, it isn't a field, there can be nothing outside of science. Science is simply the search for understanding of the universe according to the principles of hypothesis, testing and evaluation." He nods slightly, "If you can demonstrate an experimental success, then you can do it. There's no such thing as scientific logic, Mr. Strange: there's the tested limits of our understanding according to the principals of science. I have no doubt that most of them will prove flawed or limited in some time eventually, as they've always been for centuries. *Questioning* the status quo, the established understanding, is at the very heart of science. Anyone who thinks they *know* something contrary to a displayed data point isn't a scientist, and hell, I'd say anyone who says they *know* anything at all isn't one either. A scientist operates not on certainty but a preponderance of the evidence, according to tested theory. Scientists don't define facts. We approach, always approach, a more perfect understanding of the universe, while never, ever, reaching our goal." Young Peter is a true believer. Then again, his true belief allows for a very, very wide acceptance of some odder things. Being bit by a spider might have helped that. Softly, "What keeps me from sleeping. Mr. Strange, is not what others can do. Its what I fail to do."

A slow nod greets this revelation.

"You're absolutely at home at Stark Industries," Strange murmurs before shrugging his shoulders. "Perhaps my scientific approach to my current understanding to Reality around us is based more on faith than fact these days. My powers do not have limits. My imagination is my limit, Peter. I do not need data points to tell me what I can accomplish, though I appreciate having them as a fallback in my logical reasoning. I am beyond them. I rely on the unexplained to vouchsafe the world around us. It was a revelation learning this, but…it has its benefits. Namely that the world doesn't come crumbling down around us."

"Do your powers not have limits?" Peter looks at Doctor Strange for a moment, "Can you silence the burning fury of the sun? Yes? I don't want to test that hypothesis, but I'll accept it and set it aside. Can you nullify gravity on the planet? Yes? Again, I accept your claim and set it aside. Can you bring back the dead to live? If you tell me that, I'll swear a lifetime of doing anything at all you could ever ask to have my uncle back, because the shame and grief of his loss haunts me every night. I don't actually believe in god." Peter shrugs a moment, "But if your power has no limits, then you could do that for me. I don't think you can, though. I think your powers *do* have limits. You might just not have fully defined what they are, or the rules they operate on. I understand that feeling, since at least one of my powers operates on rules and to limits I don't fully understand."

"You presume to know an awful lot for nineteen years of age," replies the Sorcerer quietly. "And yes, Peter. I can bring the dead back to life, but at a cost that does not make it worth the risk."

Strange shakes his head slowly. "I too have lost family and the knowledge that I can potentially return them to this earth is a heavy one. However, again — there is a cost that you would not be willing to pay. I refuse to do so. Fate will have her way in those that leave our lives and I do not presume to flaunt Lady Death moreso than I have already done. I don't expect you to understand and that is an acceptable place to be now, in this moment."

"I know what I know, I presume to knowing only what I can imagine otherwise." Peter says softly, looking away. The very idea that its _maybe_ possible to bring his uncle back, paints his face with a longing and pain and suffering that is hard for him to hide. "Cost is as much a limit as anything else, Mr. Strange. I understand cost. I understand cost so much it hurts. I would never pay a cost that my uncle would not pay to save his life, and I know precisely how much he would pay to live: and what hurts is how so very, very small that of a cost he'd accept. Still." He looks, straight-faced, back to Strange, "Cost is a limit." He shakes his head slowly, "With great power comes great responsibility, my uncle told me as he died. Not knowing, in that moment, he wouldn't have died at all if I had chosen responsibility a day before. Why do you think I do this, be Spider-Man?" He looks around, lowering his voice a moment there to be sure, "Someday I'll make up forhis death." He won't.

A period of stillness follows Peter's admission. Nearby, cars drive by and the blur of tires on concrete is a familiar sound with the hum of the city itself, a place never truly silent. Eventually, Strange moves, shifting his weight to one foot.

"You set a hard trial for yourself in attempting to rectify something beyond your control. If I may. My mentor, a woman infinitely older and wiser than me — truly, she was several thousand years old — once told me that if I wished to control a river, I would do so by surrendering control to it. To simply 'be' within the time and place, and I could access immeasurable power. I've found this to be true. Don't limit yourself to what you know alone, Peter. You limit yourself in turn." He suddenly rolls his eyes and scratches at one silvered temple. "Gods below, look at me. I'm turning into her. Somewhere, she's laughing at me."

Taking a few steps away, the Sorcerer glances back at Peter. "Stark's lucky to have you here, working with him. You're going to do great things, I think, given enough time on this earth." One scarred hand rises and fluidly draws a circle on the air. Firefly-sparkles crackle to life at his design and reality itself parts to reveal the interior space of someplace warm and shadowed: the Loft of the Sanctum. "I'll stop by again soon, see if I can't say hello to you in the lab. Have a good night, Peter." And with that, Strange steps through the oculus before it collapses into thin air behind him.

"It was mine" Peer tries, but his words are lost to the circle of sparkles athat fold space and time, or at least, that's how he interprets it. And Peter is lost to the wonder of the how and why and it begins running deep, deep algoirthms based on relativity and — the key seems to be exotic matter, what if Strange has access what does it.." Peter shakes his head slowly, having absorbed all Strange said, but processing it in a different order. He nerded out in the middle. The rest of the words… Peter considers.

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