Day 2, June 23, 2015
He was… surprised, yeah that’s a word, when I showed up at the hospital the next day asking for him. Him being so kind had my family manners nagging me to give him something, so I baked masa. Only a few people can make masa, it’s a blessing I got from my mother, so I thought even if he is rich, he’s still going to be at least marginally impressed, and best case, he’ll have never had it before. It took long enough to perfect the kitchen for the sentient bread after some friends in Jersey lent me the space. So here I stand, anxiety through the roof, flinching at every medical personnel who passed me by, hoping and praying the Stephen Strange could find my call worthy of his time. Don’t get me wrong, he scares… the shit… out of me. But he was kind, and I was a little dependent on him yesterday.
He does eventually appear coming down the hall when I glance up and around for the ten-millionth time. His brow quirked at the plate in my hands covered in foil. His presence making my fingers tremble as I’m hawk-vigilant for any sudden moves.
“What are you doing here?”
That sentence has the potential to be so cruel, but this one, it was almost concerned. My shoulders, which I hadn’t realized were practically at my ears, lower just a bit.
“I-in honor of my family name I’m - bringing you something.”
I spit it out so my resolve won’t falter. When he doesn’t respond, any ground he’d made to calm me is lost, body tense to run. Just as I opened my mouth to spew an excuse to leave he raises a hand to get my attention, working a little too well as I flinch.
He mutters, lowering the appendage but it stays within my field of view. Glancing left and right and finally watching as I jerked away from a nurse passing me, he seems to make a decision.
“We can talk outside.”
He offers. My response a shaky exhale and a nod, waiting for him to pass me so I can keep an eye on him. Yesterday I had a rug tugged out from under me, so my emotional state had me leaning on him, but today I was back on high alert. Even hyper-aware of the swish as Strange held the door for me. I check for traps in the door frame before accepting the assistance. Gaze locked on his hands for any hint I have to flee, I again almost run into him when he stops, wincing as I just barely steer around his side to face him.
While Strange himself is a cause for discomfort, yeah… fresh air is helping. No bleach and air freshener smell to spark bad memories.
“Yeah. Thank you. I-um- hmm- This is an apology for me being a wreck yesterday. I wasn’t going to buy you something because you probably make more with a single surgery than I do a year, but I knew I could possibly make a passable gift with this- this- it’s Masa, a portugese sweet bread? See it’s from my father’s family but no one currently alive could make it until my mom tried it and I guess she passed the skill to me so I was hoping even though you probably have seen everything, that I could make a decent gift with-”
“I’ve never heard of it before.”
Well that’s a surprise and a half.
“I don’t just spend my free time sampling exotic breads.”
“I wasn’t saying you did I just-....”
I trail off.
“You didn’t have to give me anything.”
“I-I know. Guys like helping damsels in distress and believe me I’m aware of what I was being yesterday.”
He almost seems off put by my statement, his nose wrinkling a little as a crease formed between his brows. It’s not until his shoulders shake a little that I realize he’s trying not to laugh. Oh. Okay, that’s a better response. Still. I’m not exactly comfortable.
I demand, almost brusk.
“You’re straightforwardness is refreshing. That’s all. I deal with a lot of talking around the bush.”
“Yeah well, we don’t pay you guys to do that. We pay you to tell us what’s wrong and how to fix it, we wouldn’t ask if we didn’t want to know.”
The laughter cuts off. My snap startling him. I’m continuing before he can say anything.
“And furthermore. I understand trying to be kind to someone’s feelings and not wanting to overwhelm them, but when someone’s life is in the balance the priorities should rearrange accordingly. And with all the talking around you guys do, you shouldn’t take patients saying ‘I’m fine’ at face value. I know the law covers your asses if the illness is fatal enough, and tests are expensive, but again, doctor, do your job. And- and-!... gah! Thank you. For tolerating me. Have a nice day!”
I shove the plate into his hands and storm off the opposite direction. Heart pounding in my chest as I turn the corner before pressing my back to the wall and sliding down to sit on the sidewalk. Well done on that gratitude Mads….
I sit there for who knows how long, it was noon when I headed out and now it’s pitch black outside, the only reason it looks like dusk is because I’m in New York. Legs have been passing me by all day, but one set stops. I don’t even look up, curling my knees close in a defensive ball as I shove my head down to fluff my hair in a warning to stay away.
“How long have you been sitting out here?”
While it is a question, it doesn’t really sound like he’s asking anyone but himself. I hear a shuffle, but refuse to look. A light pressure on my arm sending a low growl from my throat. The touch retreats.
“You could’ve been hurt out here by yourself. It’s almost four in the morning.”
Four?! I glance up meeting the ice blues I knew were there.
“You shouldn’t be on the streets this late. Come with me.”
He slowly gets to his feet, hand gently offered.
I look at the appendage like it’s a snake waiting to bite me, but hesitantly take it, standing up to follow him back into the hospital and into the elevator. I huddle in the corner until the door opens. It’s then I recognize where he’s taking me. His office. My knees stiffen and I stop. Strange only getting a few feet away before he turns toward me.
I fight myself, chewing my lip and flexing my fingers, before I nod and catch back up. He holds the door for me again, and once more I check it, before being led to a couch.
“I’d feel much better about your safety if you slept here.”
“I still have a while on my shift.”
Every nerve in my body is screaming at me to run away and escape back to my hotel, but he’s right, a single woman traveling alone at 4 in the morning is a bad move. My gaze almost seems to grind as it drags over to the couch. I guess my best bet is to stay here. Though I more likely than not will have to pass out from exhaustion to get any sleep. As I settle down and move the pillows, he leaves into the hall, guess he’s busy. Why was he even outside?
Day 3, June 24, 2015
I grumble a little, rolling over to shove my face in the pillow, getting to sleep was always the problem, sleeping into the afternoon was never an issue. Pulling the blanket over my head to block out any light I startle when the door opens. Pushing my head to the back of the couch. Couch? Where am I? I sit up with a start only to freeze when Strange enters my field of view. Memory returning as I locate myself in his office.
He mutters, chuckling quietly as he adjusts the items on his desk a little. From his groomed appearance he must’ve headed home at some point
“Hope the couch was to your standards.”
My response slightly muffled as I burrow back into the blanket.
“Not~ much of a coffee drinker.”
“Not much for tea either. All of it tastes like dirty water to me.”
“That what do you prefer?”
“Hot cocoa. And I mean disgustingly sweet american milk chocolate hot cocoa. I like dark european chocolates for anything else, but my USA cocoa is sacred.”
“Uh huh, I see”
“Floral chocolate is gross though. In any capacity.”
“Should I be taking notes?”
“Absolutely. There will be a test.”
“It'll be a surprise~”
“That’s comforting. Well. While you plan that I have a brain that requires my attention.”
“Ah- have fun.”
“It’ll be a few hours, so I may not be done in time to see you off, but I’m glad you stayed.”
I dip my head, looking at the couch cushions until the metallic swish of the door knob jolts me to speak.
“Thank you.- for.. being there. Again.”
“Not a problem. Stay safe.”
And with a click he disappeared behind the office door. I get to my feet and finger comb my hair to be presentable before leaving the hospital for my hotel to actually wash up for the day. A feeling begins to gnaw at me as I cross the threshold of my room, that all that’s happened is too much of a coincidence to be an accident. I glance up at my ceiling.
“Are you trying to put me here?”
Sighing, I plop down on my bed.
“If you want me to stay in New York, just give me a hint. Okay? And tell dad I said ‘Hi’.”
Maybe I should doze a little longer before functioning today.