Actions

Work Header

Understudy

Work Text:

When Darcy Lewis meets Stephen Strange, she is standing on his stoop looking like a drowned rat. Her hair is sticking to her face, the sudden onset of rain surprising her on her walk to the ominous address, and she is legitimately shivering. She’s bundling her arms under her over sized cardigan, trying to keep warm despite the chill that pierces her whole body.

“Dr. Strange?” she squints at him, unsure. She knows the hour must be later than she originally anticipated, because the man in front of her is wearing what looks like linen pajamas or robes. He definitely isn’t dressed like any doctor she’s seen before. His own glance trails down her body, noting her waterlogged shoes and lack of coat, obviously unimpressed.

“Unfortunately,” he replies. “What do you want?”

“I’m sorry, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t absolutely critical. I was just at Metro-General and a doctor gave me this,” she says as she holds out a small card with her shaking left hand. The ink is bleeding, but he seems to recognize the neat script of 177A Bleecker Street written on it.

“Dr. Palmer sent you, did she?” Strange pushes the door back to let her enter. He obviously has determined she’s not a threat by how he turns his back to her. His cloak billows out behind him before detaching from his shoulders to float away. Darcy follows Strange in, distracted by how disappointed the cloak looks, which makes no sense considering it’s a freaking cloak, before realizing she hasn’t answered him. She nods, glancing around the foyer as she shudders with cold.

“She said you’d probably be able to help me. But now I’m not really sure if she’s not insane, sending me at apparently midnight to Grimmauld Place in the rain.”

He rolls his eyes, looking not entirely surprised by the Potter reference, but decides to ignore it.

“Well, what can I help you with... miss-?” he leads into the question, leaning an elbow on top of the banister, eyebrow quirked. His entire countenance is focused on her with a precise focus and she notices the shadows of his attractive bone structure in the dim light.

“Darcy Lewis. Sorry. I meant to lead with that,” she mutters, before shaking her head to clear her thoughts and try again. She pulls her right arm out from under her sweater so he can instantly recognize why the Metro-General doctor gave Darcy his address. Darcy’s hand, or what should be her hand, is translucent as if it were made of glass. She tries to wiggle a finger which prompts a splinter of cracks to appear against the glass ‘skin’ and she winces.

“So like, I’m an intern, right? For this amazing brilliant scientist who’s seen things you can’t even begin to imagine-” Darcy huffs a new breath a moment as his eyes narrow in a try me expression, “-and we were working on one of her experiments and one thing led to another... can you fix this?”

Strange steps closer to her, tall figure imposing into her personal space and she swallows. She looks up at him and feels a flutter of attraction as he takes her hand that maintains the glassy form to about halfway up her forearm. His expression sharpens as he inspects the ailment and she stiffens, realizing she is beginning to lean into his warm body. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to notice.

“Shouldn’t be too difficult. Come along,” he brusquely turns and begins to walk up the stairs. Darcy grimaces as she begins to climb the stairs, feeling bad about dripping water all over the carpet.

“Oh,” Strange turns and waves his hand disinterestedly. A blast hits Darcy’s form and she finds herself dry once again, although not particularly warm.

“Thanks,” she mutters, tugging at her hair with her left hand. She sighs, glad to have dry hair but knowing it’s instantly tightened up into a giant ball of frizz, so she likely looks even more ridiculous.

After they arrive at the library, he instantly snags a handful of books to look at and she meanders around, exploring. Careful not to touch anything, assuming the room is just as dangerous as Jane’s lab, she’s fascinated by how normal everything seems. There’s chess sets and yellowed maps and even weapons attached to the walls, like a museum. It's a lot less magical than she expects. He leads them into his office, dropping the books on his desk as he shuffles through the texts.

“So what do you do here?” Darcy asks.

“I monitor the planet for threats,” he says shortly, obviously distracted by what he’s researching.

“Yeah? Very interesting work? I bet you have your hands full,” she replies, coming up to his work table and peering over his shoulder. “Human modifications, huh.”

“Something like that. Hold out your hand.”

Darcy obeys, trying to keep her hand as still as possible. Her form has been shaking between the constant anxiety and cold, since one false step on the way over and she could have shattered her hand. It was amazing she’d managed to keep her head for the entire hour long walk from Metro-General Hospital. Anxiety spikes again with the uncertainty of whatever procedure he’ll find necessary to fix her.

“Judging by how soaked you were, why didn’t you take a cab from Metro-General?” Strange asks her as he begins to swirl his fingers in circles around her hand, light building there to obscure his efforts. “I expect this would have been a lot more difficult if had you slipped in a puddle.”

“Uh, did you miss the part where I said I’m an intern? I pretty much just get paid in free boarding and food. Which, considering New York cost of living expenses, is nothing to sneeze at,” she grumbles.

“So where is your boss? Shouldn’t he be checking to make sure you’re alright?” he asks. The space between his hands glows and she feels a stinging sensation. Wrinkling her nose, she shakes her head.

She didn’t realize I’d been hurt. She would just have panicked and been a mess, so I locked down the lab and sent her to bed. Which, honestly, is why this is my fault. She’d been going for 50 hours by that point. I had a bit of a bad day and lost track of the time. We usually just eat, sleep, then science. It’s very dull,” Darcy replies. “But she’s finding different levels of success, so I can’t say it’s not worth it.”

“Sounds dangerous, however,” Strange murmurs, focusing on her hand. Darcy nods.

“Ouch!” she exclaims suddenly when a searing pain overcomes her hand, which is a testament to Strange’s focus that he doesn’t even flinch.

He shushes her and she whispers out an apology. She stares at his hands, which have slowed their turning motion, and frowns at the many scars she can see lining from under his sleeve to the tips of his fingers. Glancing up, she notes his entire focus is on the problem in front of him and she bites her lip.

A moment passes and the light fades away. Strange closes his hands around her own hand, and Darcy feels a spike of different nerves hit her as his long elegant fingers begin to inspect the flesh that is once again there. She should be relieved, her hand isn’t a weird brittle material any longer and there was minimal pain. Instead, her heart kicks up a notch and all she can think of is how the pads of his fingers are meticulous in their tracing of her skin. Strange pulls her hand up a little closer to his face, presumably to check every groove with his own critical eyes.

Her mind goes into overdrive, thinking about this handsome man inspecting her body with such care and she blinks furiously. He has such gentle hands, I suppose it’s necessary in this line of work, never know how volatile certain things could be. I bet he is very generous with his time, methodical with everything he does. Would he peel my clothes off and leave such careful attention as he revealed my skin?

He releases her hand, she lets out a breath as inconspicuous as she can.

“How does it feel?” he asks.

Darcy’s thoughts ratchet right back up, wondering if he somehow knows just how far she is imagining him doing various inappropriate things to her. She blinks in succession again, before the question connects with him motioning at her hand and she nods furiously.

“It’s great!” she squeaks, causing a slight flush of embarrassment over her cheeks. Strange squints at her suspiciously, before nodding.

“Well, I’m going to assume you have no way of payment, by the way you went on about being broke,” he looks unimpressed but not surprised. She grimaces again, stuffing her hands into her pockets.

“I can come by and help with cleaning or something. I don’t like the idea of owing you something,” Darcy mutters, blush creeping down her neck. She glances around, noting how tidy everything is except perhaps his desk. “I could maybe scrounge together ingredients for some baked goods, too.”

“That won’t be necessary. Just... try to avoid this in the future, right?” Strange dismisses her with a wave of his hand and she gapes as she finds herself at the foyer of the building once again. The door opens up and she feels disappointment slice through her. The unspoken ‘get out’ is loud and clear.

“Thank you,” she mutters quietly before walking out onto the rainy street. The door shuts softly behind her.


~~~


About a week later, Darcy finds herself on Bleecker street once again, this time holding a cardboard box. Taking a deep breath, she stands up at the stoop and knocks at the door. Before the last hit connects, however, she finds herself teleported into Strange’s office with him eyeing her critically.

“Miss Lewis,” Strange drawls out, looking just as handsome with those sharp aristocratic features that she remembers. “What brings you back? No injury, I hope.”

Darcy shakes her head, mentally kicking herself to not get tongue tied.

“I thought I’d drop off a small token of my appreciation for helping me the other day,” she begins, the words rushing out of her in an obviously nervous way. Placing the box on his desk, he leans forward to look down into it before darting his eyes back up to her face.

“There’s a loaf or two of zucchini bread, half a dozen blueberry muffins, half a dozen cranberry orange, and y’know, I didn’t know if there were any dietary concerns so I made the brownies vegan-” Darcy rambles off, pointing at various locations of the box where each item is properly wrapped. “Over here is eggless chocolate chip cookies and here’s my resume if you want to see any references on what a hard worker I am.”

Strange’s expression doesn’t waver, which makes Darcy smile weakly, trying to be cajoling.

“I mean, I did look online for an application to your magic school, but apparently this is Grimmauld Place and barely exists without admittance of the Secret Keeper. But... I was hoping maybe you could teach me some of your fancy magic?” her voice pitches higher as she gives a smile.

He leans back in his seat, glance sharp as he takes in her form. Darcy bites her lips together, trying not to bounce on her toes.

“Why would I do that?” he asks.

“Well, I work with some crazy science, and you don’t want to be put out fixing me or mine all the time, right? I mean, I know where you live and everything. I can be very convincing if someone I love is hurt. Honestly, it seems like the best plan to have some sort of magical ability anyways, since I’ve seen some pretty gnarly things come from off planet and-” she explains and he interrupts her.

“What ‘gnarly things’?”

“Oh! Uh, I mean there was that giant robot of doom in New Mexico back when Thor first came and then the thing in London-” Darcy’s interrupted again.

“Thor?” he tilts his head. “Odinson?”

Darcy nods. “He used to date my boss, Jane Foster.”

Strange hums for a moment, as if churning the information over in his mind.

“Alright.”

Darcy breaks out into a huge grin. “Really?”

“Assuming you have any aptitude in it, yes. I’d rather not have to go chasing after any disasters that Dr. Foster or her ex could bring, so having you there to alert me is sound reasoning,” Strange gives an elegant shrug, rising from behind his desk to stand in front of her.

Darcy tenses, his proximity immediately throwing her mind down a very different path from their current conversation. Thoughts of him wrapping his arms around her and inspecting her secrets thoroughly. He reaches down to lay a gloved palm on her upper chest, fingers lining up with her collarbone, which makes her eyes widen and breath shallow. The pressure is solid and makes Darcy wonder about him using that same hand to explore lower. There’s a jolt of energy that passes through her, as if he’s testing her in some way she can’t determine, while she stares up into his face.

“I guess we’ll see what you can do, then, Miss Lewis,” he murmurs at her, stepping away. “You’ll find Wong in the library. He’ll get you started with some light reading.”

Darcy blinks a moment before finding herself teleported into the area of library she hadn’t seen before, with the aforementioned Wong frowning at her. He points at a pile on dusty tomes his desk and she sighs. She isn’t surprised.


~~~


The next few weeks pass in a haze for Darcy. After she’s making sure Jane isn’t about to explode anything important, she’s neck deep in textbooks that border on the absurd. She splits her time between studying in the basement laboratory that Jane occupies, studying in their small studio apartment upstairs, and studying in the building she is corrected into calling “the Sanctum” within five minutes of her first session. Strange isn’t usually involved too much in her lessons, usually pointing out where she should be starting before wandering away to let her figure it out for herself.

If a world renown surgeon can get past the folly of magic, so can I, she thinks to herself a lot. It’s not that she doesn’t believe in magic, it just always seems out of human reach. Obviously Dr. Strange is an exception to that. After he agreed to her schooling, she’d looked up his past achievements and had been surprised by his legitimate status as a doctor. He’d worked at the same hospital as the Dr. Palmer, who at the time of meeting Darcy had shuffled her out of the ER as quickly as she could without drawing suspicion. So it was no surprise that the attractive Dr. Palmer knew of him and spoke of him in such an exasperated tone.

Darcy wants to know how Strange got involved with magic, especially so proficiently in such a short amount of time, but is afraid to ask considering the news articles about his accident. It seems to be a turning point in his career, which she guesses is when he found himself looking for other solutions. But Darcy doesn’t ask him about it, her past “not a relationship but more than a fuckbuddy” escapade completely shutting down any possibility of that. She knows better than to dig into a man’s past who hasn’t invited it. She’s been burned before.


~~~


She’s at the Sanctum one day, in a small room with no furniture, struggling with the stupid sling ring and ruing the day she ever thought this was a good idea. Transporting with a portal from her building to the Sanctum will be a lot easier than the long walk she currently employs, but the idea just bends her brain a little too much for her to accurately manage it. Darcy thinks about all the times she’s watched Strange leave at night through them, a mixture of jealousy at how effortless he is with his magic and disappointment that he definitely holds interests elsewhere. Like perhaps Dr. Palmer, a woman who is definitely beautiful and smart and accomplished, unlike Darcy. The female doctor is probably a cool balm to his prickly soul.

Trying to swirl the portal open again, she growls as her attempt putters out with sparks.

“Work, damn it!” she grumbles under her breath.

“It’s nice to see your studies are not being neglected despite all of your hours with Dr. Foster,” Strange’s voice calls out from the doorway of the room. Darcy jumps.

“I thought you left for the night,” she says, blinking in surprise.

“I did and returned,” he states simply, walking with a confident gait the rest of the way into the room. “I do live here, you know.”

“You do?” Darcy frowns. “I thought you had some fancy apartment uptown.”

“Ah, no. That was sold.”

“Oh.”

Strange’s assessing glance makes Darcy wish she’d done something more attractive with her hair than just throw it up in a messy topknot. Her clothes are passable, just a basic t-shirt and jeans with little taco-cat socks, since her boots were tossed off the mat as soon as she’d arrived. He looks positively predatory in comparison and she gives herself a little mental shake, hating how her brain immediately jumps to all sorts of inappropriate thoughts. The very attractive man keeps reminding her of a person she’ll likely never meet again, Strange’s tall form and dark looks akin to him, and she can’t help herself.

“What is holding you back?” Strange asks, stepping beside her to take her hand with the sling ring on it. Darcy tries to hide her astonished reaction to his closeness, eyes widening slightly as she lifts her eyes up to his face.

“S-sorry?” she stutters out, her heart suddenly racing so fast that she’s certain he can hear the frantic beats.

“I struggled for many weeks with the sling ring. There was nothing wrong with my abilities, just with my intent,” Strange murmurs, looking down at her.

Oh, that voice could melt clothes off a woman’s body, is Darcy’s errant thought. Fortunately, she doesn’t say it aloud. She throws out the next thought instead, which is what she always says when she begins to struggle.

“Despite all this training, I’m worried I have no talent for it. It’s not like I received a letter,” she mutters in reply, trying to ignore the way his form presses up against the side of her.

Strange makes a sound that is akin to a polite snort.

“You seem to be picking up everything in good time. Slower than I did, but I am a prodigy,” he gives a small grin. Darcy turns towards him and huffs in exasperation, knowing the joke is far more true than he’s letting on.

“Okay, I’ll keep at it then. Did you need something?” she finally says. Strange still hasn’t released her hand, tall form still in her space while he toys with the sling ring on her fingers, continuing to remind her of that other man long ago. That man hadn’t pulled away either, but toyed with her endlessly, making her want with an frantic need.

Blinking back the memories of him, she realizes Strange is watching her with a quiet look, monitoring her reactions.

“Need something? No,” his voice drops again and she feels the desire she’s been trying to ignore pool in the bottom of her gut. “However, I wanted to check on you.”

Darcy isn’t so clueless to dismiss the way he’s leaning into her, and while her brain is a bit stuck on the why, she’s not going to question it too deeply.

“If you’re not opposed,” Strange leans down to leave a kiss on her cheek.

Darcy isn’t sure what brought this on, having resisted saying anything to him even the slightest bit flirtatious, his similarities to her old flame dangerously familiar. Pushing herself into the path of men who simply weren’t interested beyond some pretty basic carnal desires is a rather unfortunate habit of hers. However, who is she kidding? She welcomed it the last time it happened and is damn sure to enjoy herself this time too.

With his interest clear, suddenly Darcy feels a lot more in control of the situation. A grin spreads across her face and there’s a moment where Strange looks a little bit surprised by her openness. Shooting up on the tips of her toes, she brushes her lips against the sharp angle of his cheek, arching an eyebrow.

He opens his mouth to say something but she silences him, mouth capturing his bottom lip and he emits a groan instead. Bringing up her hands, she pulls down on his lapels to gain some sort of height so she can kiss him properly. Strange wraps his hands around her waist, picking her up temporarily before setting her feet down on a conjured step.

“Neck pain is abominable,” he mutters as she pulls away with questioning look.

“It’s your penance for being too tall,” she snickers, and he rolls his eyes. Darcy uses the distraction to start tugging at all the various folds and straps of his rather too complicated clothing.

“Seriously, you’re a goddamn cliche, Strange. Always have to look the part of whatever skill you’ve mastered, huh?” she grumbles, unable to make heads or tails of the clothing. Strange looks smug as he flattens his palm against her lower back, sliding under her t-shirt which she knows is practical in comparison.

“I earned these clothes, you know,” Strange replies, pulling her shirt over her head and focusing on her chest encased in a cotton bra. “And you’ve definitely earned yours as well.”

Darcy snorts, a small sort of pride building in her at putting a man with such talents into a bit of a trance. He darts his eyes up to her face for a quick moment, finding the clasp with his hand before using a small spell to undo it. She arches an eyebrow, challenging him to do more, I know that’s nothing for you, you can spell this whole room together or to pieces.

Strange pulls her bra off, and Darcy pinches at his clothing. Making a frustrated sound at her insistence, he vanishes his tunic top in an instant and presses her back against an invisible wall he must have spelled into place there. Darcy makes a happy sound, the beauty of skin against skin feeling wonderful. She feels downright pinned up by this position in the air, held by his will of invisible spells, his lips coming down against her collarbone as he begins to explore.

Darcy is caught in a swirl of lust she’s not felt in a long time. Her hands begin to seek along the skin at nape of his neck, trailing along his shoulders as he palms her breast in one of his hands. Strange kisses along her skin, examining her breast with the same precision she imagines he’s always worked with. She bites her lip and hisses through her teeth when he licks at her nipple, a tilt of his head as he watches her reaction. An entirely too pleased expression enters his eyes as he pulls her nipple into his mouth, lathing attention on it with his tongue.

She throws her head back, almost expecting to hit something, but the conjured wall only reaches up to her shoulders and her hair tosses back. The movement causes her to arch further into Strange, who moves to her other breast as if to not neglect it.

“Oh lordy,” she breathes out as he brings his hands down to spell open her jeans.

“No, I’m definitely a master, not a lord,” he bites down gently along the side of her breast. Darcy feels a temptation to smack Strange upside the head for being a smartass but he pulls down on her jeans and instantly starts caressing her ass in appreciation. Her thoughts split between approval and annoyance, so she rebukes him with a simple pinch on his shoulder.

Strange’s fingertips trace against the decorative edge of her underwear before hooking around the material to tug gently down. They only make it halfway down her thighs before he releases them to bunch up with her jeans at her ankles. His slow hand strokes back up her inner thighs and his expression looks entirely too smug by the dampness he finds in between her legs.

She murmurs incoherently as he begins to gently search the area. He lets her slide gently down onto a conjured shelf as her legs begin to tremble. Strange presses a finger into her, making her whine and begin to tug at his pants. He uses his other hand to grab her wrist and pinning it above her to the conjured wall where it stays bound.

“Patience, Miss Lewis,” he grins at the surge of arousal he can feel against his hand. She glares at him, knowing she can’t match any of the spells he’s used. It’d be stupid to try and would likely amuse him.

“Are you quite do-” Darcy begins to grumble at him before cutting off into a moan as he rubs his thumb over her clit.

“It’s quite fascinating to see how you react to everything,” Strange murmurs in that low voice again. “I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone quite so open with their feelings.”

“Gah, don’t bring feelings into this. Just fuck me,” Darcy hisses as his thumb circles around her clit. “I don’t have all night.”

An odd expression overtakes Strange’s face before he narrows his eyes, pulling his hand away. Vanishing his pants, Darcy barely gets a chance to glance at his cock before he’s pressing it up into her.

“Oh fuck,” she whines, the stretch of him much more intense than she expects. He’s large and just edging too much but goodness if she doesn’t love the sensation anyways. It makes the act that much more impersonal, like they’re simply rutting like a pair of animals, and Darcy relishes in it. She knows she’s being used, but she’s using him in return, and that makes it wrong and wonderful and she’s about to bite her lip open with how many exclamations that are threatening to burst out of her.

Strange’s brow furrows in concentration, and she takes her free hand to stroke the nape of his neck, encouraging his roughness. She knows her body, and knows he’s done more than enough to prepare her for his thrusts. He drops his forehead against her shoulder, hands tilting her hips to sink into her easier.

Darcy starts to lose track of her thoughts, pleasure coursing through her as he begins to increase his pace. She can see the muscle where his neck meets his shoulder and finds herself biting into it, his sweaty skin salty on her tongue and he groans in approval, quickening his pace. She’s not even sure where this primal compulsion to mark him like an animal comes from, but she’s not going to miss the opportunity.

Strange keep his hands on her hips, guiding into her forcefully, but she suddenly feels a ghost finger brush up against her clit and she releases her bite on his skin to cry out.

“Oh, oh, more,” Darcy begins to babble out as he increases the pressure on her clit with the synchronized strokes of his cock and he hums in agreement.

“Lewis,” is his desperate whisper, barely audible over her own heady breaths. He gives an urgent series of thrusts which causes Darcy to come to pieces around him, a rolling pleasure pulsing over her.

“Yes, oh my god, yes,” Darcy cries out in a breathy voice before biting down on her lip hard to avoid his speaking out his name. He gives a few sporadic deep thrusts and reaches his own release with a deep groan.

A very charged moment passes as they both catch their breath. Strange suddenly pulls out of her, eyeing her carefully for her reaction which she ignores. Her butt is a bit numb from being pressed against this odd invisible wall for so long, and after a moment she realizes what a picture she’s posing for him. Almost completely naked with her jeans and underwear wrapped around her ankles and her goddamn taco-cat socks still on, for goodness sake.

Darcy gets an eyeful of his muscular body right before Strange conjures his clothes back onto himself.

Show-off.

Darcy rolls her eyes and starts pulling up her pants. He reaches down to grab her bra and shirt to hand over to her, of which she just throws the t-shirt on. It’s not like Strange isn’t intimately acquainted with her breasts now, anyways.

“So, the sling ring,” he prompts, hands clasping behind him. Darcy frowns.

“Are you for real right now?” she asks, utterly flummoxed.

The invisible shelf she’s been leaning against disappears and she yelps as she falls backwards. Granted, it’s at most a foot or two from the cushioned ground, but falling isn’t a fun sensation to be surprised with, so she glares at him.

“Was that really necessary?”

“The sling ring, Miss Lewis,” he prompts again.

Scrambling to her feet, she notes that the aforementioned ring is still on her left hand.

Oh, I’ll fucking show him a portal. I’ll show him the most giant ass portal ever and wipe that superior look off his face.

Concentrating, she turns her mind to her room in the little 2 bedroom apartment that she and Jane share. Knowing that she’s going to get this and sure as shit is going to show Strange she isn’t a lost cause makes all the difference and the portal shimmers to life instantly.

“What the fuck,” she mutters, glancing back at Strange who looks even more smug. Damn it.

“Looks like my suspicions were correct,” he smirks which makes her want to reach into her room to grab a pillow to whack him in the face.

“What suspicions were those, mister?” Darcy purposefully digs with a lack of title but knows it’s weak. Strange simply grins as if knowing he’s gotten under her skin.

“Your intent was pulled between multiple things. Most notably, your distraction due to your primal attraction to me. You’ve been far more combative in the last five minutes than you’ve ever been in our acquaintance. You’re no longer distracted, correct?”

Darcy blinks. A moment passes before she scowls, knowing he’s right. Damn. Taking a moment to collect her thoughts, she sighs in acceptance. There’s nothing for it, she thinks. Turning back to him, she twists her lips into a devious grin.

“I guess you might have a point. Want to come over and help me work out some other spells I’ve been struggling with?”