Stephen laid in the bed and stared up at the ceiling. Another night had gone by with hardly any sleep. Another nightmare that had woken him up in a cold sweat and heart pounding. Each time different than the last and each time had him frighten as if he were a child afraid of the dark. It was getting to the point where he dreaded going to bed. He knew what would happen when he closed his eyes. Torment and lack of sleep. It felt like torture. He was exhausted, he felt sick and all he wanted was the blissful peace of sleep, but the nightmares would not let him. He could feel tears of frustration creep up in this throat, but he cleared it away. He refused to give into it. He looked over at the clock and saw the red glowing numbers that it was almost noon. He had been in bed for hours and did not have the energy to move at all.

He had procrastinated(avoided) speaking to that therapist Wong suggested. He felt uncomfortable speaking to someone about this problem even though it was painfully obvious that he needed the help. He felt that this is something that he should be able to fix. Who else knows his own mind better than him? However, there was a part of him that was a little worried that he was probably beyond help. That maybe the stress and the anxiety has gotten the best of him and there was no going back to normal. Or whatever normal meant nowadays.

Perhaps, he should speak to that therapist. It's possible that she could have some solutions and who knows, combined with Western medicine, he might-

His thoughts were interrupted when he heard a soft knock at his bedroom door. Before he could say anything, he saw Christine poked her head in.

"Hey." She said softly.

Stephen sat up. "Christine."

She smiled and let herself into the room. She was wearing a green sundress with a denim jacket and dark brown purse and sandals to match. Her long, brown hair was2212qq1231qq123 made into a messy French braid with loose strands of hair framing her face. She was dressed for the warm summer of New York. She looked lovely, Stephen thought.

"Uh, what are you- um…" Stephen stammered.

"Your friend Wong let me in."

"He did?"

"Yeah, he said that you might not be feeling well. Is everything okay?"

"Yeah. Everything is fine." His smile was forced.

"Stephen." Christine was not convinced.

"What?"

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I said everything was fine."

"Wong told me that you haven't been sleeping."

"What?" Stephen said, annoyed.

"Yeah, we had a little chat before I came up here. This place is huge, it was a long walk."

Stephen rolled his eyes and fell back to his bed. "I'm fine." He's been saying that a lot lately.

"From the way he tells it, it doesn't sound like you are. I was hoping you would tell me." Christine replied concerned. She stood at the foot of Stephen's bed, leaning on to the bed post. "He sounds worried about you."

"Wong? Worried about me?"

Christine smiled, "Is that so weird?"

Stephen sat up again, "From Wong? Yes. He's not the warm fuzzy, caring type."

"Well, he does care about you, it seems like."

"I really doubt that. What are you doing here?"

Christine sighed, "I've been thinking a lot lately. About what happened with you and… things. I was hoping that maybe we could talk. We haven't really spoken since that day your… friend died."

Stephen looked down at his hands on his lap. The Ancient One's death was still a sore subject, "Talk about what?"

Christine slowly walked over to the other side of the bed where Stephen sat, "About… us."

Stephen looked up, surprised.

"I've been thinking about what you said. About how you didn't want me to go. And I knew at the time you had to go and saved the world from Dormammu but I had to admit… I didn't want you to go either."

Stephen's heart began to beat fast.

"I missed you, Stephen." Christine said. "Even though, I was angry, and I didn't reply to your emails while you were gone, I still missed you. So, I hoped that maybe… we could…"

"Be together?"

Christine nodded, "Yeah." She walked slowly towards Stephen.

"Christine, we tried that already and it didn't work out."

"I know but things are different now."

"Yeah, I'm different. I'm not the same man you knew me months ago."

"So don't you think it would be a good way to start over?"

Stephen's felt his stomach stir. The idea did appeal to him, but he still hesitated.

"What about your Strange policy?" he smirked.

"I don't care about that," Stephen watched as Christine walked slowly to him. "I just know that I want to… be with you."

Christine reached and gently cupped Stephen's face. Her thumb caressed Stephen's cheek and he couldn't help but closed his eyes at her touch. He did the same thing to her the last time they were together at the hospital. He remembered how he waited with bated breath for her lips to touch his but she kissed his cheek instead. This time, he got his wish. He gasped softly when he felt Christine's lips on his. It was a soft, chaste kiss like she was expecting him to push her away but instead, he immediately melted into the kiss. Taking that as an invitation to go forward, she deepened it and Stephen groaned. He was so tired of feeling so scared. He just wanted a moment of peace and right now, Christine seemed to be the one who can give him just that. He heard her moan when he had inadvertently brushed her tongue with his. Wanting her to be closer, Stephen quickly pulled her up, letting her straddle him with her knees on either side of his hips and settled her gently onto his lap. He immediately wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer to him. He let out a short gasp as she wiggled on him. He broke the kiss and quickly latched onto her neck, sucking and licking. She threw her head back and sighed contently, offering her neck to Stephen. He felt her hands go to the hem of his shirt, trying to push it up with shaky hands. He shivered when he felt her cold hands on his bare chest. His lips left Christine's neck and quickly found her lips again. He kissed her long and deep, savoring her taste. Christine gently rocked her hips on him, and he could feel himself getting aroused. Maybe this is what he needed to finally relax. Maybe this time he will finally get some sleep and not dream about Dormammu again. Maybe…

Wait.

Something Christine said…

Stephen broke the kiss again and pulled away from Christine.

She let out a soft whine of protest and breathed heavily, "W-why did you stop?"

"How did you know?" Stephen whispered roughly.

Christine looked confused. "What?"

"Dormammu. How did you know… I never said…"

"Stephen, what are you talking about?"

"You said you knew I had to fight Dormmamu. I never said that."

"Yes, you did. You told me."

"No." Stephen shook his head, "I didn't. I didn't tell you where I was going… because I didn't know what I was going to do yet."

"Stephen, don't be silly." Christine chuckled and tried to kiss Stephen again, but he held her back.

"Something is wrong."

"What is?"

"This isn't right. This isn't…" Stephen looked around his room. A realization came to him. "I'm dreaming."

Christine scoffed, "Stephen, come on. You're clearly awake."

"No, no. I am not. This isn't real."

"Stephen, look at me," Christine held his face, forcing him to look at her. "I'm real. I am right here."

Stephen felt confused. He could feel her. Her warm body was sitting on top of his, her hands on his face. And the kiss, that was real. It felt real. Was it? But it didn't feel right.

"Something is wrong." Stephen said, growing agitated.

"You haven't been sleeping, Stephen." Christine said, "This is what happens when you're not getting enough sleep. You're a doctor, you should know."

"But you knew about Dormammu!" She couldn't have known. Could she? Did he tell her? "You knew! How did you know?"

"Damn it, Stephen." Christine said sadly. "I was hoping it wouldn't come to this."

"What?"

"I was hoping we could have played a little longer."

Stephen's brow furrowed in confusion. He suddenly let out a small grunt as Christine punched him on his chest. The hit made him cough and he felt something warm and metallic on his lips. He used his hand to wipe it away and was shocked to see a smear of blood. But then something else caught his eye. Christine's hand. Lodged deep within his chest. Pain blossomed everywhere. He could feel her hand gripping tightly around his heart. He looked up at Christine in shock and saw the mad glint in her eyes. Her bright, green eyes. She smiled cruelly at him and twisted her hand. Stephen jerked and yelled out in pain. He could feel more blood rising in his throat. He gasped wetly.

"Time will tell how much I love you." Christine said mockingly. She quickly pulled her hand back, ripping his heart out of his chest.

Stephen gasped loudly as he suddenly sat up in bed, drenched in sweat. He flailed around, desperate to untangle himself from his covers. He fell to the floor and landed with a sharp cry as his head connected with the floor. He panted loudly, bordering on hyperventilating. He was panicking. His heart was pounding, he was disoriented and all he could think was that he needed to get away from the danger. But where was the danger? The danger had manifested in his mind. There was no running away from… that. His stomach rolled as he recalled the image of Christine's hand holding his heart, dripping with his blood. He could feel the gorge of nausea travel up to his throat as he made a dash to the bathroom. He made it just in time as the vomit spewed forth from his mouth and into the toilet. He gasped and gagged and retched loudly. Hot tears formed in his eyes from the force. He threw up until there was nothing left. His throat burned and his stomach cramped from dry heaving. His body felt spent. He barely had enough strength to reach over to flush the toilet. He felt like he was too weak to stand so he pushed himself away from the toilet and sat against the wall with his knees drawn up. He let his head fall on top of his knees, exhausted. His whole body began to shake as the adrenaline started to dwindle down and the chills setting in. He tried to get his breathing back in control. He brought his shaky hands up to his face to wipe off the tears and sweat and then threaded his fingers into his hair. He gently pulled; the pain helped grounded him. He fought off a sob that he felt began to surge up from his throat. That dream. It felt so real and so… wrong. It wasn't just the image of his heart being ripped out and the blood. It was the fact that Christine was the one who did it. In his rational mind, he knew that Christine would never hurt him. She would never be deliberately cruel to him or to anyone. It was the act of intimacy that occurred between them that left a feeling of… perversion. He felt exposed in a way, felt extremely vulnerable and he hated that.

Stephen was startled when he felt something soft brushed against his bare feet. He looked up to see the cloak literally hovering over him. Stephen sighed in relief. The cloak managed to look worried. If it had a voice, Stephen knew exactly what it would be saying.

"I'm, uh…" Stephen sniffed loudly, wiping away the last of the tears. "I don't think I'm okay." His voice trembled along with his body.

A few seconds of silence passed until a gently whish of fabric came over Stephen. He felt the warmth of the cloak envelope it's self around him. He didn't resist nor fight it and let it cover him completely as if it were a blanket to protect him from the cold. In fact, if Stephen didn't know any better, he would say that it felt more like a hug. Stephen burrowed his nose into the cloak's collar and sighed. His muscles releasing the tension and melted into the warm embrace.

tbc


Aww Cloaky cares about Stephen. Even if Wong doesn't. This was my first time writing a romantic(sort of) scene. I hope I did okay. Please let me know what you think and leave a review! 3