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Stephen Strange ([personal profile] sadgamaya) wrote2017-10-18 08:11 pm
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Step into another realm...
ingeni: (06)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-19 03:46 am (UTC)(link)
[It's been months since the accident, he thinks. Since he woke up connected to a car battery in a dark cave and told that he would serve a new master now. After the first escape attempt, he'd learned that trying further would be unwise - not because of his own life, Tony might be willing to risk that, but others'? He can't sacrifice anyone else, not after Yinsen.

On the bright side, he's upgraded from the car battery. He still has to plug in periodically to charge, but it's better than being shackled all the time. Not that he isn't chained anyway, after his escape attempt. Kept in the dark, away from tools, away from any sort of mental stimulation, until he's ready to submit properly. His hands are shaking by the time he's let back out, a tremor that only stills when he's working.

His masters always have plenty of work for him to do. Weapons, stockpiles of them. Missiles, RPGs, whatever they ask of him. He's passed from one to another, shuttled around with a burlap sack over his head. He'd started out offering ransoms - more money than even they would see in a lifetime, if only they'd free him. But instead, he's trapped here in the mountains of Afghanistan. A half-wild thing, he's stopped speaking to anyone, only nods and does what he's told. His skin's acquired burns and scars; he's no longer the cocky, self-assured billionaire in a fitted suit. The days and nights blur into one, and Tony doesn't notice, doesn't keep track deep underground. He's little more than a machine himself, slipped back into an emotional distance he hasn't felt since childhood.

It's better this way.]
ingeni: (06)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-19 04:46 am (UTC)(link)
[English. The man is actually speaking American-accented English, although it takes a moment for the language to sink in. When it does, Tony almost wants to weep for the opportunity he represents.]

Please get me out of here. [It takes him a moment to remember how to speak - nobody cares if he talks, and so he doesn't - and his voice is rusty, hoarse with disuse. But his tone is still pleading, so unlike the old Tony. Tony Stark never would have begged before.] I'll do anything you want - give you anything - just don't let them have me again.

[Kill me if you aren't going to save me, he thinks, but doesn't say.]
ingeni: (12)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-19 05:44 am (UTC)(link)
Miniaturized arc reactor. [He stumbles over the words, almost unable to believe his luck. He'd been waiting to be passed from one member of the Ten Rings to another, and now - suddenly - he's not. He doesn't even care what this guy might do with him, because it's a future he hadn't had ten minutes ago, one that doesn't involve constantly making weapons for warlords, hours spent bent over a forge or a crucible, with soldering iron or blowtorch in hand. For the first time in far too long, Tony dares to allow himself to hope.]

There's shrapnel in my chest. This keeps it from entering my heart.

[He'd had to go back to the car battery after the escape attempt, before they'd let him repair it, however imperfectly. His masters were reluctant to allow him to fix something that could have been turned against them, but they'd had no choice, not if they wanted to keep their prize alive.]
ingeni: (03)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-19 07:17 pm (UTC)(link)
[Tony's barely even registered his surroundings before the world is falling away like shards of glass, leaving behind...the world? Yeah, okay, maybe he's hallucinating. Usually that only happens when he's been left in the dark for too long, but maybe he's finally snapped.

(Joke's on him, he snapped long ago.)

And while the old Tony might have made some kind of Terminator crack at that line, been flippant and snarky, this one just seizes at the opportunity before it disappears.]


-Not on purpose, anyway.

[Okay, so maybe there's the ghost of a joke left in him somewhere.]
ingeni: (13)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-19 10:20 pm (UTC)(link)
[Tony reaches out to touch the sparks with his free hand, but thinks better of it and draws his fingers back. There's a slight tremor in his hands - largely psychosomatic, but still noticeable, and still quite real.]

Wouldn't a hallucination tell me I wasn't hallucinating?

[On the other hand, most of his hallucinations are of his parents, and this guy definitely isn't Howard Stark, hiding in the shadows and casting aspersions. Telling him that if he'd been better, he would have escaped, would have saved Yinsen. Telling him that he could have gotten out of this with just a bent paperclip, that Tony wasn't worthy of the Stark name.

So, okay, he's not hallucinating. Which means that, yes, he's just teleported to something that looks like a monastery, and there's sky and sunlight and Christ he's torn between crying at the sight of it and being terrified by the open space.

Tony laughs harshly at the question. There are a thousand tiny hurts all over his body, burns and bruises and cuts and scrapes. It's simply part of his life, and he doesn't notice them unless they impair his ability to function. (And they're quite strict about that: punishment should never impair his ability to function.) He's not sure how to answer, so he just goes for a simple:]
I'll live.
ingeni: (13)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-19 11:03 pm (UTC)(link)
I've been kept in a cave making weapons for terrorists for fuck knows how long, not at a goddamn spa. How do you think I am, Obi-Wan?

[The grease-stained, dirty tank top hangs loose on his frame, as do the pants. Not that Tony's great at self-care the rest of the time, but nobody seemed to care much when (or if) they fed him. Sometimes he'd be informed that there wouldn't be food till he was done with his project, and he was lucky if he got much, even then.]
ingeni: (08)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-20 12:08 am (UTC)(link)
[Tony narrows his eyes. Okay, so he used to have one of the most recognizable faces in the world, but now he looks like shit. Hobo shit. Like he's been wandering Kathmandu trying to get the Ancient One to notice him shit.]

Tony Stark.
ingeni: (04)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-20 01:14 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, surprise.

[Tony tries for jazzhands and falls a little short.]

Being blown up'll do that, I guess.

[He's not surprised; you disappear into the mountains of Afghanistan for months and people will assume you're dead. It's a good reminder to update his will the next time he's on the same continent as his lawyer, though.]
ingeni: (06)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-20 01:40 am (UTC)(link)
[His brain is fuzzy, and it takes him a moment to recall facts from what seems like a lifetime ago. The name sounds familiar, but he doesn't quite place it yet. Stalling, he takes the hand, gaze flickering to the scars on the fingers, and shakes it.]

So you were a doctor, and now you're a Buddhist monk or something?
ingeni: (08)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-20 02:07 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, great, I'll just get out my laptop and check my email.

[So dry. On the other hand, he's pretty sure he'd fork over his entire fortune for a bath, so he should probably shut up and stop being sarcastic.

(Of course that's the first defense mechanism to return. Of course.)]
ingeni: (13)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-20 02:24 am (UTC)(link)
I- thanks.

[He can't quite muster a smile yet, but the gratitude is evident in his eyes. Which, Tony would like to say for the record, definitely aren't prickling with tears at all, even if they do look a little wet. It's just allergies or something, okay?

Tony gathers up a pile of clothing and spends far too much time luxuriating in hot water, scrubbing himself as clean as he possibly can, trimming his hair and his beard. His hair is still longer than he would like, and uneven in places, but at least he looks presentable.

And then he looks down at the clothes.]


Strange?

[He calls out, wrapping a towel around his waist.]

Strange, how the hell do these clothes work?
ingeni: (15)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-20 02:47 am (UTC)(link)
I've spent enough time getting in and out of them, I think I'm familiar.

[God. He stops for a moment, stricken - peers around Strange at the mirror again. He hadn't really taken notice earlier, but a stranger stares out at him now. He looks ten years older, flecks of gray in his hair and beard. His cheeks are gaunt, and so is the rest of his frame. The billionaire playboy is well and truly gone. He wonders who would want to sleep with him with a giant hunk of metal in his chest, let alone everything else.

If Strange weren't there, he'd probably just break down and start sobbing in a way that he hasn't since he was about five. Instead, his fingers tighten on the waist of the pants, the only outward sign of his turmoil.]


Not what I'd wear to a board meeting, but it'll do.
ingeni: (12)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-20 03:15 am (UTC)(link)
[Nobody's touched him like that since Jarvis died. Not in a genuinely comforting way - shit, it's more human contact than he's had in months apart from the kicks and blows. But it's thinking about Jarvis specifically that makes him break down, thinking about all the times he comforted him after another one of his dad's tirades. Thinking about Howard berating him when he'd been locked in the dark with no one but him and the ghosts of his past.

Tears roll down his face and soak into his beard, and his shoulders shudder with silent sobs. Tony buries his face in his hands, embarrassed for losing his composure so thoroughly in front of someone he just met an hour ago - for losing it at all, in front of anyone. (His father would have shouted at him for that, too.) He's a fucking mess, and he doesn't know how to be anything else anymore.]
ingeni: (11)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-20 03:35 am (UTC)(link)
[Eventually, the tears subside. Tony knows damn well they won't be the last, but hopefully he'll be able to keep it to when he's in his room alone, so he won't have to be embarrassed like this again. For now, he reaches out and grips Strange's forearm in silent gratitude, wiping the tears away with the back of his other hand.]

So, you said something about food?

[His voice is still shaky, but his stomach growls. If he wasn't used to going without, he probably would've collapsed by now. (It's funny, how little time it takes someone to adjust from an abundance to privation. Less time than you would think, under the right circumstances.)]
ingeni: (06)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-20 03:59 am (UTC)(link)
[The soup, as it turns out, is goddamn amazing, at least for someone who's lived largely on whatever scraps he's been thrown for months. Wong isn't a fancy cook, but he's good at the basics, and as Tony stays with them, he starts regaining a little weight, putting color back in his cheeks. Wong trims his hair more neatly than he'd done himself.

Once Tony finds a box of tools, he starts making repairs on the (frankly ancient and cobbled together to begin with) electrical system. He still can't sit idle for fear of punishment, for fear of the thoughts that creep in his head. Wong brings whatever supplies he needs when he asks for them, although hell if Tony knows where or how he gets them. Not in Kathmandu, that's for sure.

He settles into an almost comfortable rhythm with the two men as the days pass by. He can't sleep in the dark anymore, he discovers. And when he shows up in the morning with dark circles under his eyes from sobbing into his pillow all night, neither of them comment. (Not that Wong says much anyway.)

Although the library is full of magic tomes, Tony still itches to read them, just to open them and absorb the knowledge within. He doesn't care what kind of knowledge it is, doesn't care that he's not even sure he believes in it; it's there and he wants it. Wants to be able to retreat into books when he can't sleep, just like he did when he was a child.

And then, one day, Stephen tries to teach him to meditate. They sit together in the antechamber, legs folded into a lotus position on the floor. Stephen seems to clear his mind effortlessly. Tony's hands tremble on his thighs, his fingers twitching, and for the tenth time, he tries to count his breaths.]


Shit.

[If there's one thing Tony's never been able to do, not ever, it's clear his mind.]
ingeni: (13)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-21 01:38 am (UTC)(link)
[Tony could probably learn Sanskrit if he put his mind to it. He's never been quite as facile with languages as his father (jokes about cunning linguists aside), but, hey, it's not like he's got anything better to do. And the way Strange talks about magic as if it's a distant cousin of science is...intriguing. Especially when he uses programming analogies.

He can appreciate the offer, at least, even if he's less than successful at meditation itself. He knows that it would help if it actually worked. Even though he spreads himself out on the floor instead of sitting, the background chatter in his mind persists.]


My brain just won't shut up.

[It's a problem he's had all his life, honestly - he's never slept well because he's too busy thinking, and why waste time on sleep when he could be doing so many other things? Except now his brain spins its wheels uselessly instead of building chains of thought, exploring numbers and lines of code that stretch out into infinity. He's never wanted to silence his brain before, because in silence, there's nothing.

Because silence means being alone.

Because silence means giving up control.

And even for a man who's been enslaved - maybe especially for a man who's been enslaved - giving up control of his mind is hard to do.]
ingeni: (08)

[personal profile] ingeni 2017-10-21 07:24 pm (UTC)(link)
[Tony just stares at him. For all he listens patiently to Stephen's talk of magic, for all he's told himself that magic is just a different kind of science with its own rules, there is no equivalent in his realm of ordered, logical thinking for astral forms. It's something Tony equates more with hippie New Age crystal chakra bullshit (although if pressed, he might try to find a more polite way of phrasing it to Strange. Or he might not; magic aside, the man has a similar sense of blunt, dry humor).

But, hell, even if Tony doesn't understand what he does, it has clear, demonstrable results. And Strangr either knows what he's doing or is good enough at bullshitting to make it sound like he does, a trait Tony's always been able to appreciate. So he shrugs, although the gesture isn't really visible from where he is on the floor.]


Astral projection. Sure, why not?