~I am genuinely surprised that there are not more stories about Doctor Strange and Everett Ross meeting in the Marvel Universe yet. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are such great actors and I would honestly LOVE a them to have a scene together in Infinity War or even Thor: Ragnarok. Anyway, here's my little fic (recently revised).~

Now, Doctor Stephen Strange was never one to work closely with any group other than his fellow mystics. It was just too complicated for normal people - simple as that. A Sorcerer's job was to protect the earth from mystical threats, after all. Robots taking over the world and other such problems weren't really his responsibility.

This meant for him that joining the more public groups like the Avengers and Shield were out of the question, which was fine in Stephen's book. They seemed to be a bit too high strung, even for the former practitioner.

A large majority of people didn't believe in magic, anyway, giving him good reason to avoid media attention. Press was both messy and unkind. Christine already suspected that he's joined a cult... It would be even harder to convince the television stations that the "previously famous and celebrated neurosurgeon" had gone completely rouge. The reporters wouldn't have to look too hard for evidence - not if his cloak was drifting anywhere near Stange.

Unfortunately for Stephen, it was a hell of a lot easier to explain himself to both local and international police forces with a handy little SHIELD badge. One flash of that and all doors were opened. It was almost as magical as his sling ring was, if not more so.

Stephen didn't really care all that much about his identity being known or shuffled into a government database - the neurosurgeon already was well documented in public records anyway. Hell, his name was even a suggestion in Google. Joining their super-secret boyband wasn't terribly difficult for a man of Stephen's power, it was just a major hassle. Documents to sign, interviews to go through - it was always the official paperwork that drove Strange up a wall.

Did the doctor have to join SHIELD? No, not really. For the most part, the sorcerers were not solicited by government agents. In all honesty, he didn't have to, but Stephen didn't want to spend another week being labeled a dangerous criminal at large by a misunderstanding South African government, which resulted in the lack of personal I.D. and being found in an unfortunate place. It took personal experience for him to realize that sling rings aren't too helpful when you've got a mass of special operations agents holding you down...

The recruitment process was boring as hell, as expected. Strange swore up and down that even medical exams were more exciting. At least he got to learn something there. The sorcerer had to get fingerprints taken, DNA collected, powers assessed, forms filled out, etc. It all took an unnecessarily long amount of time.

Paperwork wasn't even the worst part of it - not by a long shot. After all, the Cloak had come along. His scarlet colored, sentient companion was more mischievous than a kid with a power complex. This was never a good thing in formal procedures.

Stephen tried his best to explain to Cloak that no, it isn't normal for capes to move - even Thor's - and yeah, it'd be a real pain in the ass if the cloak decided to flit around like a punch-drunk cardinal in a high-security facility. In hindsight, Stephen really shouldn't have given his friend so many ideas...

It barely took five minutes for the cloak to trip one of the agents escorting the sorcerer to the application room. Within seconds, for about twenty SHIELD agents to point their various weapons at the Doctor. Christ, Stephen thought, are these people actually threatened by this ratty old cape?! Needless to say, they were.

Even after a stern talking to and threat of severe punishment (which really just meant being put in the washing machine rather than being hand washed by Stephen or one of his disciples at the New York Sanctum) the Cloak of Levitation still caused trouble. Upon the insistence of some high-ranking stiff, the relic's antics created a whole other set of papers to fill out. Thankfully, Stephen had his patience that day.

At the end of the unnecessarily long engagement with the security organization, Doctor Stephen Strange was finally allowed out. Carrying a freshly printed SHIELD badge and a policy booklet, Strange received fewer hostile glances than before. He secretly reveled in his new authority. That annoying escort before was now, by policy, his subordinate. A smirk graced his face before coming to a new realization.

Despite his new power on board the Helicarrier, Stephen didn't really get a sense of respect from others around him. Now, finally realizing his ridiculous garb, he felt more like a circus monkey...

Now, most SHIELD agents have seen some pretty outlandish characters. However, a guy actually willing to dress up like a character from an RPG was a bit much for them. Chuckles followed the sorcerer as he strode towards the exit bay. Stopping to tuck his ID card into a hidden pocket on what the other agents saw as an obnoxiously ornamental tool belt, the sorcerer smiled. If Stephen was going to be a monkey, he had to at least put on a good show.

Planting his feet in the intersection of two corridors, Strange looked around. A handful of lingering and curious agents surrounded him, all with varying levels of interest. He could see a few pretending to read the reports they carried, trying to look as nonchalant as possible.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Strange announced in his head, now for the finishing act!

With a sudden extension of his arms, Stephen had the attention of all. The Cloak rippled unnaturally behind him, mimicking a blanket caught up in a vortex of wind.

With eyes closed, Stephen mentally willed his relic to lift him. Pointing at the floor and mumbling meaningless "spells" for effect, the level of drama had raised dramatically. Conjuring up a hole in the floor below him, the magician revealed a portal to the underside of the Helicarrier. Tiny cars filled the streets below. The tips of skyscrapers were hundreds of feet out of reach. Some agents swore that they even felt the immense pressure difference created by the spell.

All of a sudden, the man's eyes opened wide, shining with an unnatural light. Screams and gasps pierced the small area as Strange's body suddenly remembered the presence of gravity. He fell, lifeless, towards the city over a thousand feet below. The only thing remaining was a ghost-like shadow floating where the physical body had been before. Its haunting likeness to the sorcerer gave all observers the most peculiar chill. It just wasn't, natural...

The golden-rimmed portal below the phantom began to close, making static-y hissing sounds as it got closer to the center of its origin. Once the sparks met, an explosion of crystal projections filled the room. A flash of pale light cleared the corridor of all signs of the sorcerer, leaving the SHIELD personnel with nothing but their mouths agape and papers strewn across the floor.

Below the hulking mass of the Helicarrier, the limp form of Doctor Stephen Strange hung suspended by the Cloak. The bright crimson fabric shook, nearly dropping its master in a fit of non-verbal laughter. Smiling to himself, the astral form of Strange floated back towards his body.

He barely got past the initial rush of rejoining his physical body before Stephen burst out in a fit of laughter.

"At least the ending was entertaining," he choked out through giggles. The Cloak's collar curled in agreement.

The leisurely float down through the clouds gave Stephen time to recall his deal with the organization. SHIELD would give him an internationally recognized pass to escape questioning governments and wouldn't rely on the man to take care of any regular missions. It was a great deal for the sorcerer, especially since the last thing he wanted was to be at someone's command.

The only catch was that, in emergencies, it was highly suggested that Strange show up if he wanted to keep his membership. It had been more than a year and a half since that day and Stephen had never been paged, even during war struggles and the controversial rebellion of a certain Captain America. It just didn't happen.

This is precisely why the summons he received earlier was so peculiar to the doctor... What in the world could be going on that Stephen, the Master of the New York Sanctum, of all people had to be called in? With a heavy sigh and a quiet swish of his cloak, the tall man strode into the briefing room, mentally preparing himself for the worst.