-Unbetaed, non native speaker so please kindly point out any mistakes.
Some parts have been corrected by Pom_Rania.
When Peter walked into the study in the Sanctum, he didn't expect to see that Doc was meditating and levitating in lotus position. It was even more jarring seeing Doc was wearing a grey sweat shirt and black loose pants. He thought Doc was always his sorcerer outfit.
Seeing him in normal clothes emphasized the point that Doc was still a human, albeit the weird one as he levitated. Peter tried to remove yesterday's image of him being unconscious and helpless.
"Hi, Pe-, Spider-Man, I didn't expect you to come in so early. How can I help you?" The Doctor uncrossed his legs and landed on the floor. The Cloak flew out to do whatever the Cloak did in her spare time. Peter needed to investigate about it later.
"Hi Doc, I think now the cat is out of the bag. So you can call me Peter."
Doc smiled. It was good to see him finally smile. "Sure, you do look like a Peter. Why are you early? I thought you finished school at 3"."
"There was some emergency." Looking at his aghast expression, Peter quickly added, "No, that has nothing to do with me. I didn't patrol today. The boys' bathrooms at my school were leaking so we could go home earlier. Not without extra homework though."
"Good for you. Not so good about the state of our public schools though." Doc smiled but Peter noticed it didn't reach his eyes this time. It was as if he went through the motions to entertain Peter. He noticed that Doc still glanced at the door sometime, less often than yesterday but he still did it as if expecting some attacks.
He tried not to call him out on that because he knew Doc had his pride. At least he was improving so that was a right direction to go. He blurted out something else to avoid the topic he had in mind. "Why are you not wearing your robe? I thought sorcerers always wore them all the time."
"It depends on each individual. I only wear it when I'm on duty. It takes too long for me to wear it because all the sashes and strings. Usually I use magic to tie them up because of the condition of my hands. However, Wong has grounded me for a few days asking me to recuperate and no magic. I can't actually tie my sashes without magic. So if you want some tea, I need to make it the old fashioned way. Let's go to the kitchen."
Peter hadn't even thought about the effort it took to wear Doc's outfit. He felt sorry for Doc but he knew Doc didn't want his pity. "It's too bad because I thought your outfit is the coolest of them all."
Doc's smile was more genuine this time. "Really? I'm surprised because mine is just what sorcerers usually wear. I'm glad I don't need to wear leotards, thighs, and onesies."He shuddered, looked at Peter, and realized his mistake. "Sorry, I didn't mean to insult your suit."
Peter laughed. He wasn't the only one who put his foot in his mouth. "None taken. I also like Thor's outfit."
"I can agree to that. He looks good in everything even in sweatshirts. Must be the Asgardian prince thing." They arrived at the kitchen. "But it really didn't make up for his clumsiness. My door is ruined." Doc looked surprised at the condition of his kitchen. "So is my kitchen."
Peter remembered the time he dropped all the soda cans on the floor when he heard his name being mentioned by Mr Stark. "I know right, he is what? God of Thunder and Clumsiness!" He saw one can at the corner that he missed and pushed it behind his other foot. Luckily Doc was too busy cataloguing the damage to his kitchen so he didn't notice Peter's voice rose an octave.
Doc finally turned to look at him. "Peter, are you OK? You look like you have seen a ghost. I can assure you all the ghosts in my Sanctum have been exorcised."
Right, yeah, only Doctor Strange would make something like an expression into a literal thing. "So ghosts are real?!"
"Yes, but you really have nothing to worry about. Most of the time ghost stories are produced by overactive imagination. I take it that you don't come here to talk about clothes and ghosts."
"No, I just want to check on you as I promised yesterday."
"Thank you. You don't have to. I'm fine."
"Are you sure? Don't lie to me."
Doc looked downward. "Well, I'm better than yesterday. You know what, you should order a takeout. You must be famished."
Peter rolled his eyes. It was so typical for Doc and Mr Stark to deflect when they were asked something personal. Doc was being upfront yesterday because he was under drugs influence. But he certainly couldn't say no to free food. "Yes. I'm. You should also eat."
"I don't feel like it."
Peter used his most famous weapon — his puppy dog eyes. "Please, Doc. I won't eat if you don't. You don't want to get me undernourished, do you? It'll be bad for the neighbourhood."
Doc sighed. "Fine, you can order for me but please no junk food. Your puppy dog eyes should actually be weaponized."
Peter secretly revelled in his triumph. He ordered some Thai takeaways because he knew Doc loved Thai food. He felt slightly guilty that he kept using Doc's money to buy food and Stephen was not loaded like Mr Stark. In fact, he didn't know how Doc made money. He needed to ask that next time.
Doc meditated while Peter browsed using his StarkPad and watched the good doctor while they waited for the food.
As soon as the doorbell rang, Peter run to the front door to pay for the food. He noticed that Doc used cash instead of credit cards. He wondered whether cards were too materialistic for sorcerers. But how about money?
Doc only took a little bite but Peter said he would keep watching until he ate the whole portion so finally Doc relented. The Cloak who had returned from her vacation as soon as the food arrived nodded her approval once Doc finished his food. Peter smiled internally. Sometime adults were just children in older bodies.
"Let me wash these first. Please go to rest, Doc. You look tired." Doc certainly looked like he needed to rest. Yesterday's ordeal must have taken a lot out of him.
"No, let me do it. I'm the host. You have helped a lot Peter. I don't really know how to thank you properly."
"You protect this realm from multidimensional threats. Don't discount yourself too much. So me rescuing you is like me rescuing this realm. It's good sometime to help not only the neighbourhood but the whole realm."
"You're very wise, Peter. I never think about it that way. How about we wash them together?"
It actually ended up with Peter did the washing because he knew Doc's hands still hurt. Doc did the drying and putting up the dishes. The Cloak stayed away from them because she didn't like to get wet. They finished the chore in less than ten minutes.
They went to sit at one of the libraries. The Sanctum seemed to have a lot of libraries.
As soon they were seated, Peter said, "Sorry Doc to invite the Avengers into the Sanctum yesterday. I could rescue you but I'm not good in helping someone mentally and talking some sense into you so I call the big guns."
"I wouldn't say that about you. You did really great job in calming me. If you don't want to become a scientist, you can always become a therapist. Don't discount yourself too much." Doc winked as he threw Peter's words back at him. "As for talking some sense into me, I'd like to see the Avengers try. Even my master the Ancient One and Wong have given up on that saying that I'm the most stubborn person they have met and my master had lived for more than 600 years." Peter's interest was piqued at that but it's a question for another time. "I'm not upset that you call the Avengers for help, Peter. I should thank you for that. Even if they couldn't talk some sense into me at least they could help me see that I shouldn't blame myself for falling into a trap."
Peter breathed a sigh of relief that Doc was not upset about that. "You really shouldn't. It's a mistake anyone can make." He bumped Doc's shoulders. "That actually humanizes you, make you more relatable and likable as you can make mistakes."
"Who is supposed to like me? The public? My work is supposed to be in secret."
Peter rubbed the back of his head. "This came out wrong. That makes me like you even more. Not that I don't like you before. I do. You're cool. It's just as if you're different than the rest of us— you're much more powerful. You're like a god, well, not likeThor but a god in traditional sense. People respect you but they don't think you're a human. But yesterday's event proves that you're very human. Even more fragile than some of us. This brings you at the same level as us. So people are not afraid of you. Not that they were before since you are not evil. I'm not really sure where I'm going with this but my point is we understand that you're human like the rest of us."
"I could have shown them my MRI scan, my X-Rays, and my scars to prove that I'm very human. Thank you, Peter. Despite your ramblings, I think I get what you mean. Am I that scary?"
"Well. You being all mysterious with your cheekbones and turning your coat collar up so you look cool. Sorry, I'm quoting Doctor John Watson but it seems appropriate for your case."
Doc groaned. "Not you too. Did you just quote Sherlock? Sophie likes to turn up her collars so I have nothing to do with it." Hearing her name being spoken, Sophie straightened the collars up and pet Doc's cheekbones. "Would you please stop? Not you, Peter. I was talking to Sophie." Sophie stopped and looked offended as she flew away. That Cloak had more personalities than some of Peter's classmates.
"Sure. Blame it on all Sophie. What's wrong with Sherlock? It's such a cool show. I'm sure people have told you that you look quite like Sherlock Holmes."
Doc rolled his eyes. "Yeah, you're only the 912,635th people to say so."
Speaking of scars, Peter remembered what he saw on Doc's body last night. He was not sure whether it was appropriate to ask but might as well since Doc seemed to be more open to talk at the moment.
"Doc, I saw the scars in your body. A lot of them seem fatal. Now I know for sure now that you're mortal. How are you still alive with all those scars? Not that I'm complaining that you're alive. I rejoice about that because you can show me some cool magic and give me some free food." He closed his mouth with both hands. "I mean I like you for being you, the magic and free food are bonuses."
"Never change, Peter. I also like you being you. As about my scars, it's my burden to bear, you don't have to hear it."
"But I'd like to. Please. Perhaps it could ease your burden." He unleashed his puppy dog eyes again.
Doc sighed and started to tell him about the Dark Dimension and its ruler, Dormammu. Some people who actually wanted the Earth to be ruled by Dormammu. He mentioned about the damages done by Dormammu and his followers. Doc managed to reverse some of the damages and deaths using the Time Stone. (Peter thought Doc was a total badass. He saw what he did in the subway but to be able to do that in larger scale and also resurrect people was totally out of this world.) Doc told how he challenged Dormammu in his realm and killed by him so many times. Each death restarted a time loop. Dormammu caught on and tried to prolong his deaths by torturing him first but eventually he would still succumb to his injuries. It was not for nothing though, Stephen learned more and more about Mystic Arts with each death so his deaths didn't go to waste. Finally, Dormammu got sick of him and left Earth alone.
Peter was speechless at the end of the tale.
"Are you OK, Peter? Sorry to drop too much information on you. Perhaps I should filter out about the deaths as it's too much."
Peter came up and hugged the doctor. "Doc, you're amazing and you don't even think that you're. You keep worrying that you'd turn evil. You even did all that in secrecy, unlike the Avengers, public is not aware of what you've done."
Stephen seemed uncomfortable with the compliment and the hug. It was one thing about yesterday when he was drugged but today he was sober. Since Peter didn't release the hug, he finally hugged Peter back.
Peter released the hug and grinned. "That's more like it. That's why you mentioned about Dormammu in your dream."
"Did I? You didn't mention it yesterday. I thought I've dealt with my trauma. Sorry."
"Did you remember our conversation about stop saying sorry? You really shouldn't. I know I'll be traumatized with so many deaths. Anybody sane will. How are you still sane? How many times did you die?"
"I question that myself. I don't think I'm sane but as long as I get my job done, I'm fine with it. I stopped counting after more than 1,000."
Peter would like to hug the doctor again but he might not appreciate it. So he looked Doc in the eye and said, "Doc, if you start whining about not being a good person again, I'll web your hands and feet together. I know you can free yourself in a few seconds but it's just a reminder."
Doc was taken aback by Peter's earnestness. "Duly noted. Since you practically the only one person besides Wong and maybe Mordo who knows my history, you can just call me Stephen."
"I don't think I'm ready to tell you about him yet. I still try to figure him out myself. Shouldn't you go home to your parents, Peter? They must be worried for you for being out all the time."
Peter felt a pang of guilt. Doc had been sharing so much but he barely told Doc anything. He thought Peter's parents were still alive.
Peter made a decision that he hoped he wouldn't regret. Well, Doc, Stephen could protect himself, well, most of the time so he wouldn't be harmed if he knew Peter's secret.
He took off his mask. Stephen tried to stop him but it was too late.
"Hi, my name is Peter Parker. I know it's alliteration so that was hypocritical of me to complain about other names. It's not like it would be hard for you to figure out my identity since you know I go to Midtown High and my best friend's name is Ned. I'm an orphan. My uncle and aunt raised me. My uncle died not too long ago so it was only me and my aunt. Any other question?"
Stephen grew solemn. "Why did you tell me all of this? I know you value your secret identity so much."
"Because I trust you, Doc.. Stephen. You've shared so much with me. It's not like you can't guess my identity if you want to. You made that clear in our first meeting. So my sharing is a symbol that I trust you."
"Thank you, Peter. I won't share your identity with someone else. You just need to tell me who already knows your identity so I won't divulge it by mistake."
Peter groaned. "I think there are more people who know my identity that I'd like to. I think most Avengers know it by now. Speaking of them, are you sure you don't want to join the Avengers? They have free medical and dental. Not to mention plenty of free food."
Stephen smiled at the mention of free food." I'm sorely tempted by the free food but unfortunately no, my job protecting this realm is already busy enough so I don't think it's fair for me to join the Avengers. Besides, my line of work doesn't do well in the limelight. Speaking of the Avengers, if you need me to remove any of their memory or even mine to protect your secrecy, I'll do it."
"Stephen, I mentioned earlier about you being scary. Now you're doing it again."
"Sorry. Ah yes, I really shouldn't apologize too much. Sorry."
Peter shook his head. "You're as hopeless as me. Don't go to remove anyone's memory just yet. I believe all those people who know my identity have kept their promises. I'll keep your offer in mind. Thanks. There is one thing that I was wondering. Well, two. First, why did they keep you unconscious? Second, if I didn't rescue you, would Wong or someone else do?"
"You really like to ask questions. You're lucky that I do too. I think they were afraid I might astral project and asked for help." Peter made a mental note to ask about astral projection later. "They also bound my hands so it would be hard to do any spells without free hands. They really studied me so well but I wasn't even aware." Stephen shuddered. "As for your second question, I think Wong or other sorcerers might realize I was missing after a couple of days and use some tracking spells to find me. It might be too late by then. So thanks again, Peter."
"No worries, Stephen. Will you be OK for now? Well not now but in the future."
"I hope so. I'm trying to overcome my fears and my failure. Perhaps one case or two might build up my confidence. I think we both learn the lesson that we need to have backup in case something goes sideways. Or at least we need to let others know where we go. Please remember that, Peter. I learned it the hard way."
"I will, Doc. Well, at least I'll try to. It's very hard to do because emergency crops up all the time. At least Mr Stark puts tracking devices in my suit. He could also track my heart rate and temperature in case I'm in any danger. Perhaps you could ask Mr Stark to do that to your robe or something." Stephen looked scandalized by that. "Cap also offered less invasive methods to track my phone. But that meant I need to carry my phone all the time. Some places don't get great reception."
"I can help using tracking spells. Less invasive than those tracking chips. Since I know your aura, I can also track you in case you need it. But that's for me tracking you. I don't want any of those devices near me."
"There is the least I can do to repay you."
"There really is no need, Doc. I enjoy your company. Who knows I might need some free medical advice in case I have a headache or something."
"I really don't mind doing that, Peter. But perhaps not for minor headaches when I'm in the middle of interdimensional crisis. Besides the cell reception at other dimensions is terrible." Peter noticed that Stephen smirked as he said that so at least he was starting to return to normal, well, normal for Doc's standard.
"I'll keep that in mind Doc. You're the coolest. You know both medicine and magic. Ned is dying, metaphorically of course, to see you. Is that OK if we both hang out with you one day?"
"I think it should be fine, Peter. Any best friend of yours is fine for me."
"Thanks, Doc." He went to hug Stephen again and the doctor seemed to accept it more willingly this time. He hoped everything would be OK with the doctor and they could spend a day hanging out without any crisis.
-Stephen was not completely OK yet but there were at least two more arches in this story where he and Spidey learned more about each other and healed. The plan for the next arch is for Stephen to rescue Spidey from the Nightmare's realm.
I plan to update my other WIP stories first because keeping up with so many WIPs is exhausting and I only have my muse to blame, I wonder whether I should continue those arches in this story or in a new story.
-I wrote draft of this chapter before Infinity War so I'm surprised that Stephen wearing casual is indeed canon.
-Some trivia facts about Doctor Strange's body from the comics: screenrant dot com /doctor-strange-body-weird-trivia-facts/
I know it has nothing to do with this chapter but it's just cool to know.
-I really hope they're in characters. Stephen might overshare in this chapter but I blame it on the drugs he hadn't expelled completely. Or Peter's puppy dog eyes. Comments and feedbacks are welcome.