1965-05-30 - Let The Games Begin
Summary: Tony and Stephen discuss Tony's upcoming procedure.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
tony strange 

Tony doesn't use any fancy tech to try to break into the place to visit. He's nice like that. There's a phone call involved, and he comes over dressed in the height of fashion, of course. One has to keep one's reputation sterling or, in his case, artfully tarnished.

Tea isn't his jam, but if there's a fine alcohol on the menu, that's what he's holding as he sits across from Strange. "So you know my intern. That's fun. He's a smart kid."

"Yes, Mister Parker has an impressive array of knowledge in his field. I'm not surprised that you've taken him on. After all, your laboratory must be like a candy shop for him," replies Strange before blowing the rising steam from the surface of his dark tea. It curls and disappears before he sips at it. Blackcurrent tonight, something dark to keep his busy brain a-glow a while longer. After all, there are books to be read and answers to seek. Tony was offered whiskey from the decanter on a nearby shelf, something golden and mellow and rarely touched by the Sorcerer save for celebrations and those roughest days.

"However, if he webs me again, I shall have to demonstrate precisely how effective the material is against Mystical removal." Which, according to the implication, is very little verses what the man can conjure up. "Though, speaking of removal. If you need suggestions as to surgeons who have talent enough to help you replace your reactor, I'm happy to drop names." Strange considers the man from his seat, his personal high-backed chair. Tonight, it's black dress pants and a crisp white dress shirt, cufflinks in gold.

Tony smiles crookedly. "Hey, you invaded his space without warning; he was merely defending himself. You can't fault the kid for defending himself." The mental image of a webbed Strange will keep Tony warm for years to come. He sips the whiskey, savors it. This is the good stuff, and the good stuff is to be made the most of.

His nose wrinkles at the mention of surgeons. "It's not that big of a procedure," he says. "I just need someone to pull this one out and put the other one in. I'd do it myself, but there's a non-zero chance I may go into cardiac arrest. It's hard to keep your hands steady while you're having a heart attack."

The noncommittal sound from Strange firmly dismisses the logic of startling the young man. Ah, ego. He extends his pointer finger from around the warmth of his tea cup and gestures to Tony with a thoughtful frown.

"I've said it before, but it bears repeating: you should be in an operating theatre when this is attempted, Stark, not in your laboratory or penthouse or anywhere else. Cardiac arrest is not something to take lightly. I'm not saying this because it's merely common sense; I am a doctor as well as guardian of life in this reality," he reminds the man tersely.

Tony leans back, glass in hand, and he tilts his head as he regards Strange. "The thing is," he says, "there is no one trained for this procedure. It has only been performed once, and that's by me. Sure, I'll give you the operating theater, better safe than sorry, but the process is more mechanical than medical. I suppose if you can find me a surgeon with small hands who can follow instructions, I can work with that."

"You'll work with it, if you're interested in seeing your next sunrise," Strange insists quietly and no less sternly. A sigh and he too leans back into his chair, social mirroring present as it always is in many circumstances. His gaze slides to the fireplace, where the logs burn low in their bed of coals, not providing much heat or light. The nuance is homely despite these lackings; after all, summer is sneaking into New York with increasing temperatures and longer daylight hours.

"Small hands," he muses as he runs through his mental directory. "Doctor Nina Braunwald is someone I could approach. Her specialty is thoracic surgery, specifically around the heart itself. She is currently the deputy chief of the Clinic of Surgery for NIH. The National Institute of Health," he clarifies. "Otherwise, there are…also other methods." He extends the consideration almost hesitantly, his eyes sliding back to Tony once more. They linger upon him, half-obscured by lids as is.

"Can she plug in and unplug a cord?" Tony asks. "It's not exactly like that, but it's close enough." There are those out there that brag endlessly about the complexity of their arts, and here he is dying on the hill of how simple it is. So easy a scared intern could do it!

Tony meets Strange's look. "What," he says. "What other methods? It is literally going to entail popping the old one out and the new one back in."

A brave man to meet that flat look, still shuttered as it is. Strange's face drains of animation save for the faint wrinkle of nose and thinned lips. His tongue slips up beneath his lip to suck on a canine before he audibly clicks it, briefly revealing the white tooth.

"Anyone can plug and unplug a cord, Stark. It's a matter of making certain that the lightbulb remains alight." He can play jargon. "Insofar as the other method? Magic." To make his point, he lifts his resting hand from its place on the arm of the chair. A fluid gesture of fingers and little motes of golden light begin to dance around the spoon rested upon the tea saucer. It lifts and rotates in place, light glinting muted on its surface. "What I'm uncertain of is how the power may interact with the reactor. I understand it holds immense electrical potential and I suspect that types of magic may hold their own in turn. Interrupting a current can be disastrous, especially in terms of, oh, say…a heart." He arc a dark brow at Tony even as he conducts the spoon back to lying inanimate on the saucer once more. The twinkles vanish entirely.

Tony watches the little motes as they dance. There is keen interest in his eyes, he makes no attempt to hide it. "You have a point," he says, "there's a lot of power tied up in the arc reactor, and this new one will have even more. That's an interesting thing to study, how magic and arc technology interacts. You'll have to come by the lab sometime when we can find out." He does have a ballistics lab for these sorts of things.

After a moment's thought, he asks, "What kind of restorative properties does magic have? I imagine it can do things modern medicine just can't do."

"Magic has limitless potential. The only limitations come from our human selves. From imagination and the ability to channel the magic itself, in terms of…power. Though, that's not entirely the word." Strange brings a fingertip to draw down one line of his goatee as he considers. "It can do many things involving the human body, yes, but healing is a difficult aspect. A surgeon learns to put a spine back together piece by piece through many years of practice and study. Magic is the same way. Given it has a metaphysical basis in energy itself, you can't just flood a body with a healing spell and expect the body itself to react accordingly." He gestures with his free hand in a half-shrug. "I've watched bodies go into cardiac arrest rather than being healed by someone mismanaging the spell itself, in allowing too much Mystical energy to enter the body. To cure cancer? It would still take time and a body strong enough to cope with the energy potential." He sighs and shakes his head. "If that makes any sense…"

"It makes sense," Tony says. "Bodies are horribly, hilariously fragile, and they don't have a forgiving margin for error. Trust me, as the one guy in our merry band of heroes who can't do anything but make cool toys, I'm well aware of how crunchable I am. I'm not surprised how easy it is to throw everything off by dumping energy into the system."

Tony leans forward. "So can you do it? Cure cancer?" He waves a hand and says, "Some bodies probabaly can't take the energy potential, sure, sure. But it's possible, isn't it."

For the first time since Tony's arrival, a smile threatens the stern sanctity of the good Doctor's lips. He says the old adage with as much grudging and yet fond respect as usual:

"The impossibilities are endless, if one lays aside assumptions. Yes, one could cure cancer with magic. I know a man who continues to walk through magic alone. His spine was cleanly severed in a construction accident and, yet, from time to time, I have tea with him. He gets up to reheat the kettle on the stove and defies all medical logic." His salute with his cup is wry and he takes a huge swig of warm tea to wet his throat. "I have healed myself from time to time, though it is an immense drain on my own source of energy and sometimes impossible to do. Were one to be in a place of severe injury, one could even accidentally cause their own death by attempting to avert it."

"Huh," Tony says. "That's interesting." A small smile plays upon his lips. He's found some way to frame it in a way that makes sense to him. Like having braces or crutches made of magic. Sure, that works. "Obviously the preferred method of staying alive is don't get hurt in the first place. Good advice, when it's feasible. He holds up a finger and says, "And yes, I'm aware of how that sounds coming from the guy who doesn't want to bother with an operating theater. It's just that I don't think this procedure is a big deal." He pauses, then drops his gaze and admits, "and I don't want anyone else seeing it as a big deal. I spend my time around super heroes. I'm supposed to be a peer. These people will never need to see the inside of a doctor's office again in their lives. I don't need them getting yet another reminder that I'm just a guy."

Strange holds his tongue in manners at the upraised finger, though he still wrinkles his nose. Anything involving the heart is a big deal to the former neurosurgeon; no one's going to change his mind on that.

"If I may," he begins quietly. "You're not just 'some guy', Stark. Young Parker looks up to you. At the very least, you are an example of where someone lacking physical prowess, or super powers, can become, in essence, a superhero themselves. You do realize that I am equally as…breakable? In this, we are peers." A little nod accents his point.

"Young Parker could break me in half without batting an eyelash," Tony points out. "He wouldn't, he's a good kid, and I take the responsibility of guiding him right seriously, but at the end of the day, he's superhuman, and I'm just a super human." He smiles crookedly.

Then he glances down at his drink, the smile fading. "I just assumed you could magic anything away if it tried to hurt you. One of the drawbacks of technology is I've got to actually have it at my disposal in order for it to be any use."

"The Mystic Arts is similar in many ways. Many practitioners are able to influence reality through the use of mildly- and moderately-complicated spells. As Sorcerer Supreme, I have access to higher powers. If I do not have the concentration available to me — the inherent energy reserves, the ability to remain clear of thought and to be able to project my intentions with said clarity… How to put it." The Sorcerer smirks, enjoying his rare moment of self-deprication. "I am the fork in a socket. With a flick of my wrist, my willpower can be imparted upon reality, but it takes energy and effort. I'm immortal, yes," and his lips part to reveal a thin sliver of ivory teeth, "…but there are limitations in turn. I am, as you are, a super human…not someone imbued with super powers."

Tony arches a brow dubiously. "I don't know, immortality seems like you've got a leg up on the average Joe." His lips pull tight in a parody of a smile, and he lifts his glass do his lips again. The familiar burn of whiskey is a comfort, especially since it has been scarce lately. Damned Cap. Damned Parker. Turning him into a funcitonal human being. He shakes his head and glances aside. "These days, I feel mortality more than I ever did. If I dwell on it, I can almost hear the ticking clock, you know? It's just as well I've never been offered immortality because I don't want to think of what I'd do for it."

The Sorcerer grows equally distant, in his own way, his smile melting into the ghost of such an expression.

"Immortality is a far heavier burden than most suspect. What I had to do for it…" His gaze slides to one of the windows of the parlor, tall and half-shuttered by drapery, and lingers. Small motes of dust dance in the wane light that falls through to cast a slant rectangle upon the carpeted flooring. "It doesn't bear repeating." Strange sips at his tea and, finding it lukewarm, rises to pour more hot water into it. The ever-warmed tea pot does its job well and an observant mind will note that the steam never stops escaping from its spout, no matter how many hours or words pass.

"I wouldn't dwell, Stark. The mind runs itself into the ground over the philosophical difficulties of outliving your loved ones, I assure you. Rest well knowing that you have lived another day and have many more to live yet." He says this with noted gravity and almost a sense of ritual formality, each word seeming to be carefully formed and enunciated.

"Yeah, I imagine it's got a few catches," Tony says. His gaze drifts to the motes, and God forbid he should ever seem circumspect. It's just not in him. Rather, those eyes are bright and delving, always searching for something. "What can I say?" he says, turning his attention back to Strange. "I've got a well-honed survival instinct. "If I can't beat death, I'll do everything I can to put it off."

Tony shifts where he sits, relaxing. "As for loved ones…" He shrugs a shoulder. There is no outright denial of there being loved ones to miss. Before he can make the claim, too many faces come to mind. What the hell, he actually has friends now. And there's the kid. Parker. Seeing him grow old and die would be too much of a bummer. "Speaking of mortality, are you going to talk to that surgeon friend of yours? Stress discretion. Or hell, why can't you do it?"

"You mean Doctor Braunwald? She is the soul of discretion and will likely be more as such once I explain the necessity of aforementioned circumspection." The silver spoon adds another half-spoonful of honey to his steaming tea and clinks softly against the sides of the cup as he stirs.

"Why can't I do it…? In theory, nothing in the world is stopping me from doing it. However, as we briefly discussed earlier, I am concerned of the interaction of the magic that I would be using in conjunction with your arc reactor." He points with the spoon at the round glow behind Tony's shirt. "I'm not about to be responsible for causing a myrocardial infarction. A doctor's mantra is 'First, do no harm', and a heart attack is one hell of a harming." He samples his drink and returns to his seat now, having found it to his liking. "If — if — it is possible that I would not harm you, then…yes. I would do it myself."

"That's right," Tony says absently. "You'd mentioned. We should play with magic and arc reactor tech just to see what it'll do. If the answer is 'nothing' then there's no reason you can't plug me in. If the answer is 'something' then that's when the fun begins." His eyes brighten as he smiles. Fun. "If it's really fun, maybe I could make you something."

Strange snorts even as his teeth flash in a broad, pridefully pleased smile.

"…yes, Stark, fine. I'm in agreement that some experimentation is in order if I'm going to consider aiding you in replacing your arc reactor. Shall I simply arrive as is my wont and step into your laboratory, crackling with the cosmic energy of the universe? Or would it be better for your underlings if you wrote me into a calender and, thus, you can shoo them away before I arrive? I don't want to endanger anyone's job…or sanity." What a Cheshire Cat grin on display before he seems to tamp down the confidence to something more formal.

"I was thinking we'd meet in one of the ballistics labs I'm not using at the moment," Tony says. "It's underground, thick concrete walls. It'll be a good time. I'll set up a time and date, and maybe we'll record it for science." It's science if it's written down or recorded, after all.

Tony's grin echoes Strange's. Now that he accepts magic exists, it's time to enjoy it. "If we discover something cool, I'll make you a device just for the satisfaction of knowing it exists."

"You're welcome to call and let me know when you've set this date. If I'm not occupied at the time or have foreseen that I will be, I'll attend. I suspect that nothing you can create will be able to harness the power that I am conduit to, but…if I am proven wrong, it will be a learning experience and a chance for me to see where potential weaknesses lie," the Sorcerer allows. "Is your ballistics lab sturdy enough to take what I can channel? I ask this in no joking manner and with no ego behind it. I don't wish to bring down earth upon our heads."

"I don't know what your upper limits are," Tony admits, "but it's designed to contain an awful lot of force. I figure if you don't do anything like open up a dimension and turn reality inside out, we'll be fine." He takes a sip of whiskey, then says easily, "We're just going to have a little fun. There's no reason it needs to escalate." Famous fucking last words. With a vague gesture, he adds, "I doubt I'll create anything to harness you. I'm more interested in seeing what can be opened up." He smiles. On a fundamental level, he will always love things that go boom.

A roll of laughter follows the famous pronouncement of 'just a little fun'. "No one can harness me," he agrees, eyes a-twinkle. "Well…save for the gods and I'd rather not put that on idle display. I suspect they would be annoyed at my reaching for their granted boon without dire need for it. Honestly, I hope necessity never comes that you observe such a display." His free hand lifts and seems to whisk away the concern brought up.

"I'll be certain not to overwhelm your meters. What, would you have me hooked up with electrodes? Or read the ambient energy in the atmosphere itself? …if your machines can even make sense of it."

Tony strokes his chin. "Could I get away with that?" he asks. "I was just going to give you a prototype and say have fun. Sure, read the ambient energy, see what can be sensed. I'm curious what you can do when given a lot of energy. That's all it is. Sometimes science isn't all that complicated." He was bragging earlier about how simple his designs were. It could be that their complexity is simply something he takes for granted. "Let's say you can control the way you interact with it, and let's say that control can be focused." He spreads his hands. "Let the games begin."

"Indeed. Games." Strange reminds himself to be cautious and it carries into his tone, rendering it far more oratory than before. The sparkle in his eyes, very nearly something literally lambent, hasn't gone away in the slightest. "If you want to see what I can do with a lot of energy, we'll need to go into a contained area…or rather, another dimension. But first, this escapade in your ballistics lab. Your arc reactor takes precedence to my demonstration."

Leaning back into his chair, he hums a sigh. "You know…in a way, I've missed dabbling about in the sciences. The explained and relatively-explained is a place of comfort. Old mental pathways and habits. Like an old sweater, well-worn and loved. I'm looking forwards to this."

Tony inclines his head and says, "I'm happy to provide. Especially if you're going to live forever, you need to stay on top of what's new. You don't want to be a hundred years old and you don't even know how to use a handheld computer." As if those behemoths will ever be handheld. "You've got to enjoy it after I'm gone. Do it for me."

It's one of those rare moments where Tony does seem genuinely content. "You know, I enjoy these little talks. Even when it gets competitive, but not only then. I look forward to seeing what we come up with."

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