~ Ciara and Strange ~

It was nearing mid-afternoon as Ciara Duncan walked purposefully through the streets of New York City. The woman strode through the crowded sidewalks and lanes, and let her thoughts focus on the pleasant clacking of her boots against the pavement. A fresh breeze pushed her along, passing along the tantalizing scents of spring rain and freshly baked bread from the corner bakery.

Ciara let her forest green eyes dart about, taking in her surroundings cautiously. It didn't seem like she'd been followed, but one could never be too careful. Especially when there were always special groups on high alert for 'new recruits'.

Being a rather talented individual herself, Ciara knew that she would have made quite a few higher ups happy as a lark, if she'd allowed such a thing. But she had stayed off of the radar for a long time, and she intended to remain that way. The limelight was for fools, or glory hogs, and she was neither. She much prefered working in the shadows when she was needed, than pulling a Tony Stark and announcing her presence to the world. Though she had admittedly admired Stark's chops when she'd first watched his press release.

After waiting for several long minutes at the corner, Ciara was satisfied that she was in fact alone. So, without further adieu, the delicate woman crossed the street in a flash and found herself at the threshold of her destination.

The building was several stories tall and appeared ancient, though it had obviously been well attended over the years. In truth, there wasn't much that stood out about it, save for a strange symbol that spiraled across the top window that adjoined the roof.

It was this symbol that had so thoroughly captured Ciara's attention, as she had made her way through the vast city. Luckily, she knew a thing or two about magical signs, or she never would have been able to find this building on her own. At a glance, Ciara never would have suspected this average building to have been the New York Sanctum. But to her credit, she hadn't given it a mere glance.

The Sanctum was hidden in plain sight. Everyday people passed by in droves, all remaining comically blind to the wonder that sat underneath their very noses. It was rather incredible to think about, if Ciara was being honest, though she was far from surprised. The mundane, giftless masses of the planet earth often overlooked the unexplainable for the comforts of ignorance and safety. Magic and super powers were too frightening to comprehend, apparently. Poor sods.

As Ciara ran across the street, the hood of her jacket slipped down, revealing her stunning ginger tresses. Being a born and bred Scottish Lady, red hair was just a run of the mill attribute, though Ciara would have been lying if she said she didn't love her natural flame shade. It was one of her features that she had come to adore over the years.

With a tentative hand, the red head knocked on the door to the Sanctum. She waited after several hard raps, before knocking again. She repeated this process three times, while waiting two minute intervals between rapping. When no one had come to answer the door after her fourth time, Ciara snorted. She had traveled all this way for a reason, and she wasn't about to come back tomorrow.

Taking matters into her own hands, the woman reached down for the handle. It was locked. Smart, but it would take more than a lock to keep her out. Ciara grabbed the door handle with both of her hands, and focused the power that coursed within her veins. For a breath nothing happened. . . until quite suddenly, a small tendril of black smoke arose to engulf the knob. In the space of a second, the locked clicked, and Ciara was pushing the door wide.

With a smirk, she entered the Sanctum. As she closed the door behind her and began to ascend a massive staircase that led up into the sanctuary, her senses whipped into overdrive. She was in unknown territory now, and it wouldn't do to be caught unawares.

Her feet were silent on the marble steps, so unlike how they had sounded outside. She could be quiet when need be. And she found the need, as she finally reached the top of the staircase.

As she was about to move further in, Ciara felt a cold feeling pass through her. It started in her legs and erupted all the way up to her scalp. As the feeling was manifested by goosebumps and chills, Ciara forced her posture to relax.

Someone was watching her.

A gentle sizzling sound echoed in her ears in the great entry hall, interrupting the calm almost instantly. And Ciara knew that her assumption was right, even before she turned around to gaze at the one who'd snuck up on her.

It was a man. He was on the taller side, and looked to be in his late 30's or early 40's. His hair was a mixture of gray and dark brown, and the facial hair he sported was much the same. A red cape clung to his form, while in his hand a dazzling line of pure energy sparked and crackled. A mythical weapon? It must have been the source of the sizzling noise she'd heard.

If he'd drawn a weapon, he must have thought she was an invader. A point of view which she prayed she'd be able to disprove. She hadn't come to the Sanctum to make enemies, but rather to gain an ally.

"Oi," she said pleasantly, her Scottish accent quite noticeable as she addressed him. "Hold the phone, dearie. I'm not here to fight." She immediately held up her hands in a submissive gesture, to prove the point. "I'm just here to talk, lovie. So you can put that sparkly whip back where you found it. I'm not looking for any trouble, and if I was, I surely wouldn't have knocked for ten bloody minutes before entering."

The man lifted an eyebrow at her, though still showed no signs of lowering his magical weapon. "You say you came here to talk?" He sounded skeptical, not that Ciara blamed him. She had come in uninvited.

She nodded, "Aye."

His mouth quirked, though his gaze remained guarded. "So talk."

She made a face. "Sorry lovie, but the topic I need to discuss is a wee bit personal. It's only meant for one sorcerer's ears." She shrugged, her green eyes dancing in the light of the chamber. "I wish to speak to the Mystic Master of this Sanctum. I hear he goes by the name of Strange."

All was silent for a drawn moment before. . .

"It's Doctor, actually," the man interjected, and surprisingly enough he let his magical weapon fade with no more than a small crackle and pop. "Doctor Stephen Strange."

Ciara's mouth cracked into a smile, as she lowered her hands back down to her sides. "You're the Master, eh? Well, color me surprised." He didn't look like a Mystic Master, but what did she know.

"Pleasure to meet you, I'm sure." She slowly offered her hand for him to shake, not wanting to give him the wrong impression. "Ciara Duncan, gate-crasher supreme."

Strange studied her for a brief moment, gauging his odd visitor, before he finally accepted her hand. They shook firmly, and a new curiosity burned in the man's eyes. "Ms. Duncan. I guess I should welcome you, despite your rather unorthodox entrance. . . So, what is it exactly that you so urgently needed to speak to me about?"

Ciara let go of his hand, before she said simply, "Why, I'm here for a spot of magic, of course."

It was several minutes later that Ciara found herself sitting across from Strange in a parlor of some sort. The decor was older, but clean and nice enough. It reminded the woman of a high end library, and hosted just as many books.

As they settled comfortably, Strange broke the silence. "So, now that we're sitting down, do you mind telling me your business here at the Sanctum, Ms. Duncan?" When she nodded he continued, "You say you need magic. I'm afraid you're going to have to be a bit more specific than that."

"Aye, I know. I was just being cheeky," Ciara said, shifting in her chair. "If you are the Master here, you'll have a wide arsenal at your fingertips."

"Odd way of putting it," Strange said. "But yes, I am the Master here, from necessity."

"I believe you." The woman's earlier smile slowly faded, and it wasn't missed by the man that sat opposite her.

". . . I'm actually looking for someone to retrieve lost memories. I've been seeking magic users and super humans alike, but so far no one has been able to help." She paused. "So when I heard there was a new Mystic Master in New York, I decided it was worth paying you a visit. Money is no issue, name your price. Or I'm willing to negotiate for other types of currency, if you'd prefer a different payment. As long as we come to an agreement."

The Mystic was silent, thinking on what he'd been told. "The lost memories are yours, I take it?" Strange clarified.

"Aye, they are. I can't remember anything past the age of 19. . . the same day my powers awakened."

Doctor Strange's eyebrows shot up at that. "Powers?"

"I can manipulate magical energy," she replied. "I don't have an exact name for it, though I know it's similar to your gifts, in a manner. Which is why I offered other meansof paying you." Her eyes twinkled. "If you help me, I'd be more than willing to return the favor. . . Say if you were ever in a bind and needed someone with a magical skillset. . ."

Strange considered for a long moment. "Well, to be entirely honest with you, Ms. Duncan: I haven't had any experience with memory spells or magics. But that being said, I would be willing to look into it on your behalf, if you'd like me too."

Ciara's smile returned. "I would be grateful to you, lovie. Any help you could give would be appreciated."

Strange mirrored her, with a small smile of his own. "It will take time to research, but I'm willing to try . . . on one condition."

Ciara looked at him expectantly, and when she didn't speak, Strange continued. "The next time you visit- promise me you'll wait until I come to the door."

Ciara's eyes widened comically, before she snorted with laughter. It was the last thing she'd expected him to say. But somehow the sudden lapse of dry humor suited him.

"I'll do you one better, Doctor Strange." Reaching into the depths of her jacket, she pulled out a card with a single phone number on it. "When and if you have any information, give me a call and we can set up a meeting of your choice. That way I won't startle you or intrude."

Strange took the card, chuckling as he tipped his head to her. "I'd appreciate that."

Sensing that the meeting had reached a close, Ciara rose from her chair. "Thank you for your time, dearie. I hope to see more of you in the future, whether you can cure my memory loss or not. You seem like a capable sort of fellow."

The man's expression was rather unreadable, though Ciara could have sworn she saw a positive light in his emotive eyes, as he rose and walked with her back to the Sanctum entryway. "I look forward to it, Ms. Duncan."

"Ciara, lovie," she corrected.

They shook hands once again, as Strange opened the door for her. "Until we meet again, Ciara."

"Goodbye Doctor Strange," she returned pleasantly before turning and taking her leave. "Good luck on your research. . . You're going to need it."

A/N: So I originally posted this over on Deviantart as a commission, but I thought I'd share it over here too. ^^ Ciara is pronounced Kee-Ra, for any of you wondering.

Also I have to confess, even though this was my first time writing for Stephen I had a blast. I absolutely love Doctor Strange! He and Steve are my favorite Marvel Heroes, so it was nice to try my hand at writing for him. ^^ Ya'll can expect more Strange stories in future. Now that I've got a taste, I shan't stop. This story will have multiple parts, but I can't stay how many for sure.

If you guys like this please drop me a review! I'd love to hear what everyone thinks!


Disclaimer: I do NOT own: Doctor Strange (character, film, comics, or franchise, etc.) Marvel Universe (studio, franchise, characters, films, or comics, etc.), or Benedict Cumberbatch.

Ciara Duncan belongs to RosesHaveThornes