By TypingKira 11 Comments
Last time, in chapter four, Emil acquired a Siberian tiger she named Karenin, called Strange a chicken, and found herself in Chinatown facing a very dire threat -- Ian McNee, who seeks the power that our young heroine has been endowed with. How will our girl make it out of this one, and can she do it without losing her place in the Sanctum?
The problem with a man like Doctor Strange is that he is far too direct. So instead of, perhaps, getting McNee away, he called to him his Cloak of Levitation, which I was sure was a normal sight for the residents of Chinatown, and started with the intimidation process.
I took a deep breath and tried to breathe. McNee was here because of me. So if I gave in to the basest of my protective instinct, to attack, then we were all screwed. If he saw what I really could do, not only would he only want my power more, but I could run the risk of hurting people with a power I couldn't control.
Or even run the risk of Doctor Strange kicking me out. And though that wasn't his style, I still had to think of the what if's.
“Emil, calm down,” urged Wong. “You are beginning to emit energy.”
“We have to help Stephen,” I said.
“I am aware,” he said. “But I have been given orders to stay by you.”
My fingers started trembling as I glanced behind me. Strange was hovering above the ground, the cloak a million billowing yards of deep red fabric, and McNee stared him down, his hands glowing. I looked at Wong and realized my hair was moving on it's own. I swore quietly. “Wong, forgive me for what I'm about to do.”
I slammed my hands flat against Wong's chest, and sent him to the ground, sliding the little way across the floor and into a bookshelf.
Pushing the door open, I stepped out onto the sidewalk, and McNee's eyes met mine. “Well well, look at what we have here. Barely on the edge of control. You know, you're a shockingly hard brat to find, miss Emil.”
I shuddered from the sound of his voice, yet even as he stepped closer, I couldn't move away. “Stay away from her!” shouted Strange, and he muttered something in a language I didn't know, then sent McNee skidding back on the cold ground. McNee had already thrown up an invisible shield, so he was unharmed.
My fingers trembled, and I tucked my hands under my elbows to stop them shaking and to hold myself together. I closed my eyes and breathed. Any sudden or wrong moves, and I'd probably shatter every window in Chinatown.
“Emil, get inside,” ordered the doctor.
“I can't. . . I can't move!” I cried, biting my bottom lip.
Doubled over, I tried again to breathe deeply, to calm down. McNee had to be messing with me. He had to be. Unless . . . not unless I was having a build up. Which couldn't have been possible, I hadn't had a build up since I was ten!
“What's wrong, princess, got a tummy ache?” called McNee.
“Shut up!” I shouted, straightening out and pushing my hand forward, sending McNee flying back through an alley and onto another street.
But that was it.
A whirlwind caught me and Strange, the cloak whipping around him. My heart pounded and my short hair smacked my face and neck. I could feel power leaking from my every pore, forcing itself free, but even as it did, I couldn't stand. I was getting weaker by the second, as literally all the energy in my body ripped itself free.
Strange held his hands out in a weird gesture, and I vaguely realized that he was trying to keep my tiny meltdown localized in a sort of backwards forcefield, keeping me in as opposed to something else out.
Glowing flowers and petals appeared in the gale, and my legs gave out though I didn't fall. I don't know how long I was trapped there, but eventually, I was aware that I was on the ground, the cold street underneath me. It was still, and Strange was bending down to lift me up.
Karenin laid on my bed with her head on my pillows, near me, with her milky breath in the air. I didn't want to move though. I hurt all over. I felt sick to my stomach, both literally and metaphorically. I had completely lost it right in front of Strange, and what was more, he was going to be pissed.
I hauled myself up to my elbow, then sighed and flopped back down and fell back asleep.
When I opened my eyes, I was in the same place, at the end of the hall. So I was dreaming again, I realized. This time the door that was open was on the left, and a harsh white light came out of it. The wood floor didn't have any glass on it, but it was a little tacky, like it hadn't been mopped after having syrup spilled all over.
Looking down, I gasped.
All over the floor were blood spatters and dribbles, like a macabre Jackson Pollock painting. When I got to the door, I looked in and saw Strange standing in front of an operating table, in full scrubs, the little cap and face mask on the table. His hands were wrapped up in white gauze, haning again at his sides.
“Either you were a really bad doctor, or just did bad stitches,” I teased.
“I guess so,” I said, taking one of his hands. I started unwrapping it as I looked around. “SO how long has it been since you practiced medicine?” I asked.
“Years, master Strange? Well, apparently you're still stuck in an operating room.”
As I looked around, it occurred to me that the room probably had nothing to do with medicine, but more to do with healing. I was almost done unwrapping his hand, when he put the other wrapped one over mine. “Don't.”
“One word answers are not going to tell me what you want, Stephen. Talk to me.”
I realized that he was younger this time. The gray in his hair was gone, a few of the lines in his face shallower, but still visible. His eyes looked so sad, and he seemed. . . broken. “Where do I start?” he wondered aloud, and I looked around. It seemed so clean. . . but the blood on the floor. “Seems to me like we start at the bottom and work our way up.”
I grabbed a mob and the bucket from the corner, and set them down in front of Strange, smiling up at him.
Then I opened my eyes and looked around, I realized that it was light as sunshine filtered weakly through the clouds and the curtains. I still hated this room.
I took forever showering and brushing my teeth, getting dressed in a plain black v-neck t-shirt, a pair of plain jeans, black boots with thick heels, and a zip-up sweater. I didn't feel like doing my hair, so I just tied it back in a blue ribbon.
He was not going to be happy. I'd be lucky to get away with being yelled at. But if he kicked me out then that was it, where would I go? I breathed a silent prayer, then made my way downstairs and to the dining room, where Strange sat in his usual seat.
I stood in the doorway awkwardly. “Doctor Strange?”
“Come in, Emil.”
He didn't look mad, exactly, but he definitely wasn't happy. His long fingers were laced together and pressed against his lips. He watched as I stepped closer, and noticed a circular board in front of him.
That arrogant bastard! He wasn't thinking about me, he was playing his game! “Sir? About . . . about yesterday --”
“You should have stayed in with Wong. There is one standing rule in this house above all others and that is that you do not ever, ever harm or put your hands on Wong. He is my dearest friend, my closest companion, and my servant, and you are only the apprentice.”
“Sir, I. . . I didn't mean to hurt Wong.”
“He is unharmed. But if you ever hit him again, I will have you out of this house so fast it will make your pretty little head spin, do you understand?”
I nodded. “Yes sir.”
“And stop looking like a child being scolded. I know what you thought would happen – I won't turn out out. If I were to punish you for spirit, then I'd be doing the universe itself an injustice.”
I blushed a little, then rubbed the back of my head shyly. “Um. . . alright then.”
“Do you care at all for board games?”
“Depends, is that pai sho?” I asked, and he looked up in surprise. “Why yes, it is. You know of it?”
“Tchh, I'm only the pai sho champ of the Pacific Northwest! I beat out Michelle Lao three years in a row.”
I sat down and took the box of round tiles, opened it up, and waited for Strange to make his move. “Thank you,” I said, as we both placed our first pieces.
“Giving me a chance. Not turning me out. Playing obscure Chinese board games with me.”
He chuckled, and placed another tile. I did too. “Good move,” he said.
Another tile, another returning move.
“You're wearing an awful lot of black today. Any reason?”
“Black can make just as much statement as my usual vibrant hues,” I pointed out.
“True,” he nodded.
I kept my free arm tucked in front of my chest, resting on the table. Strange's free hand was out on the table, open, palm up. His fingers twitched ever so slightly, mostly his pinky and ring fingers. I put my hand on his, and the fingers stopped moving.
For a second, the doctor looked like he was going to be angry with me. “My hands bother you?”
“I thought they bothered you. They don't bother me at all.” I looked him in the eyes and smiled. “I know that you keep them behind your back, or crossed under your arms, or in your pockets, so no one sees that they still shake. It doesn't bother me one bit. But I think it bothers you.”
“They are old habits I've forged over time. I stopped caring about my hands a long time ago.”
I placed another tile on the board. I wondered if he realized I was in his head for the past two nights.
He gripped my hand and told me to close my eyes, and I took a deep breath as I felt my energy flow away. The wind breezed around us again, and a few flowers materialized, then fell to the tablecloth. “Where's Wong?” I wondered aloud. Letting go of his hand as casually as I could and using it to reach across the table and fill a cup of tea.
“He asked for a few hours out. I think he said something about the dentist and grocery shopping. Probably needed socks too.”
“Ah,” I said, blushing as I looked into my cup. I took a sip of the hot brew, then looked at the tapestry hanging on the wall. “You know, I still have to sign up for school.”
“Did you have a school in mind?”
“The nearest community college.”
“Community college? Surely you've got the resources to attend a university --”
“Most of those schools aren't accredited. And community college is fine.”
“What's your major?”
“What are you going to do with that?”
“I don't know yet,” I smiled, cradling my teacup. “I just want to do something simple.”
“That doesn't seem to suit you at all.”
Does it really not suit her? Well, this is an interesting situation -- will Emil ever know if Strange is aware of these dreams? Will McNee ever be beaten? And will this power ever really be controlled?