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I don't know what my future holds, but I can't go back.
— Doctor Strange

A gifted but immensely arrogant surgeon, Stephen Strange's life was changed forever when he was badly injured in a car accident, leaving him to unable to perform surgery or even the most basic functions. Desperate to fix this, Strange squandered his entire fortune on experimental treatments and drove everyone who cared for him away, leading to him travelling to the city of Kamar-Taj on a chance tip from a man who healed his broken spine. In Kamar-Taj, Strange was saved from muggers by Karl Mordo, a student of the Ancient One, who brought him before her. Strange was sceptical until the Ancient One sent Strange hurtling through the Astral Plane and the Multiverse. Strange begged to be taught by her, and his persistence impressed her enough to agree.

Strange would prove to be a gifted student, learning many advanced techniques at a rate much faster than previous students, and his thirst for knowledge led to him reading forbidden texts and discovering the Eye of Agamatto, a powerful relic capable of controlling time itself.

After the Ancient One's death and banishing Kaecilius and his followers to the Dark Dimension, Strange became the new keeper of the New York sanctuary as well the Masters of the Mystic Arts.

Battle vs. David Haller (Legion) (by BeastMan14)

They say when you're knocked out, your senses come back to you, one by one. Strange had doubted this, but as he pulled himself off the sidewalk, he reckoned there was some grain of truth to it. First, he smelled burning, which made sense as most of New York City was on fire. Second, he tasted blood, which also fit because he had, to his memory, hit his head when he had fallen, or rather, been blasted out of the sky. He staggered to his feet and further surveyed his surroundings, hoping that the splitting ringing in his ears would fade. He could see scattered bodies throughout the ruins of the city, with a few heroes he recognized laying dead.

He could see Iron Man's armor, skittering and sputtering as it lay lodged in a wall. Thor was nearby, slumped over his hammer, while the headless corpse of Captain America, decapitated with his own shield, was not too far behind. (But didn't Stark keep the shield?) Finally, the ringing stopped, and Strange heard the ominous hum of music coming closer. Oddly, it sounded a lot like...Bowie?

I count the corpses on my left, I find I'm not so tidy...

Conjuring a quick shield, Strange whipped around, cringing at the pain in his sides, to see a young, tan woman wearing a red cotton wifebeater and jean shorts, sitting atop a pile of corpses Strange recognized as the heroes who stopped the Midland Circle crisis. By her side was a radio, blasting the song (Strange swore he could recognize it but not at the moment) as she closed her eyes and crooned along to it.

I've cut twenty-three down since Friday...

His stomach dropped the moment he laid eyes on her. Because wherever she went, the other one, the boy, the monster, wasn't far behind. Strange tried to take cover, hoping to get the drop on her, but her eyes, one green, one a pale blue, snapped open as soon as he made a motion for a car. She grinned, a cold, catlike grin, and stood up, grabbing the radio as Strange turned to face her, hands shaking.

But I can't control it, my face is drawn, my instinct still emotes it...

As she stepped closer to Strange, she beamed and pointed excitedly at Strange, who felt an odd chill down his spine, before yelling, "Hey, David! It's the other magic man, he didn't die when you zapped him!" Strange hurled a crimson band at her, but she easily sidestepped it and replied, "Whoa, trippy." Strange tried to ready another spell, but his hands simply wouldn't move. With a cry of pain, he fell to his knees as the bones in his legs snapped, and he looked up to see him, the one that had caused all this slaughter, descending from the sky. His eyes were yellow, his hair standing straight up, and he wore a blood-red vest and leather pants.

I'll slash them cold/I'll kill them dead...

Strange tried to stand, but the boy kept him pinned with one hand as he landed next to his friend with a fiendish pout.

"Now, Lenny," he whined, "I said I was the Magic Man."

The woman, her name was apparently Lenny, looked at Strange and shrugged in false sympathy, "Sorry, man, guess there can only be one."

I broke the gooks/I cracked their heads...

They both laughed at this, at Strange watched helplessly, arms and legs pinned to the ground as he tried not to scream at the worst pain he'd ever experienced. It was like the accident, only he wasn't granted the mercy of being knocked out.

"Highlander," the boy responded, before turning back to look at Strange and smiling as he levitated Captain America's shield over Strange's neck, a look of inspiration flashing across his face.

I'll slice them till they're running red/but now I've got...

"That's given me a great idea." With a flick of his hand, he sent the shield hurtling down at Strange, and just seconds before it connected with his neck, he awoke, panicking and sweating, in his bed in the Sanctum Sanctorum.

...the Running Gun Blues!

His hands flew to his neck, his arms, his legs, all of which were in working order. It had all been some form of horrific dream. But, it felt too specific, too real to be a dream. It must have been something more. In one clean motion, Strange got up from his bed, slipped some nearby sandals on, and silenced his phone, which was playing the same damned song as the nightmare despite the fact that he hadn't set it. Odd.

He pushed the thought to the back of his mind as he headed to the library. He had some reading to do, about dreams, premonitions, and potentially, demons, or whatever the hell that kid had been. As he descended the stairs, Strange failed to notice a rat, watching from behind a case holding a mystical axe, it's eyes a pale, sickly yellow.

Elsewhere...

As he gazed through the rat's eyes, Farouk smiled. This world had many heroes, many of whom could've posed a threat to David, but he felt that the Sorcerer Supreme would be the biggest challenge, or at least the most entertaining to witness. It had been the culmination of several weeks work, of planting bad dreams and creating a general sense of uneasiness, but it finally appeared to be paying off.

Suddenly, like a guitar screech through a slow jam, a woman's voice snapped Farouk back to where he actually was: his favorite cafe in Paris, a place where he had spent many days in his youth.

"(What can I get for you sir?)" Farouk, mildly annoyed, turned to look at the waitress, a blonde, slim thing that, were it not for her crooked nose, Farouk likely would have found attractive. He forced a smile.

"(Yes, I will have the ristretto with milk. I have a friend who will be joining shortly. He will likely want waffles, preferably with whipped cream and syrup.)"

The waitress nervously flipped through her handbook, before replying, with a hint of sympathy, "I am sorry, sir, but we don't serve waffles here anymore.)" Farouk glared at her, and after a moment, her eyes unfocused and she continued, all emotion gone from her voice, "But I will ask them to make it special." She tucked her notebook into her pocket, then headed back inside.

"Why are you doing this, man?" Another screeching voice cut through the blissful peace of mind and Farouk looked over to see Lenny, the girl whose form he had so effectively used, sitting across him. He would've talked to her, but he preferred not to be looked at like a madman.

"You've got a body, so why don't you just go back to where-" With a wave of his hand, her form dissipated, trapped back inside the resort of his mind, alongside Oliver, who had accepted his role much quicker. The girl was wrong: he had a body, but not his body. If he wanted to find his body, he'd have to find the last of those damned monks, and he'd never find the monks if he had Division 3 and David on his back the whole search. Division 3 could be dealt with easy enough, as they were no different from SHIELD or any of the other numerous groups who had tried to stop him, but David? David was...different.

As if the mere thought of the boy summoned him, Farouk felt David's presence before he actually saw him. Farouk wondered if the boy knew how strong he was, or at least how he changed the aura of a room by merely entering it. He heard the door swing, and heard a polite, if hurried, "Pardon me." as David pushed through the other patrons to angrily sit down at the table across from Farouk. He was panting, perhaps from running or that neat teleportation trick he does, and he looked, per usual, upset.

David angrily pointed at Farouk, who smiled politely as he waited for a greeting. "No more running, asshole," he said, practically growling. "We're ending this, right here, right now."

Farouk chuckled as he saw the waitress emerge from the kitchen, holding his coffee and David's waffles on a small silver tray with a cover. As she set them down in front of them, confusing David, Farouk replied, "Of course, but first," he opened the cover to show David his favorite breakfast, prepared just how he liked.

"Waffles?"

Elsewhere...

In the short time he had known Stephen Strange, Wong had grown used to finding him surrounded by stacks of books and various artifacts, learning everything he could about whatever subject came to him. But when he descended the stairs to see books scattered everywhere, and Strange struggling to unlock one of the forbidden texts, Wong struggled to hide his surprise.

"Strange! What are you..."

Strange looked, his hair messy and with a wild look in his eye, and grinned when he saw Wong approaching. He jogged over to Wong and thrust the text, Wong recognized it as one about the realm of dreams and how to control it, into his hands before tapping on the lock.

"It's great you're here, Wong. I need your help opening this book."

Wong looked at the book, then the desperate-looking Strange, with increasing confusion, then set it down on a nearby table.

"Why?"

Strange waved his hand, causing a chalkboard with a drawing of a man with spiky hair sitting atop a mountain of skulls to slowly wheel itself to the center of the room. Around the young man were various theories with question marks next to them, including "Follower of Kaecilius?", "Lord Nightmare?", and, oddly, "Moriarty?" Strange walked up to the board and pointed at the drawing.

"Because I need to know who he is. I've been having dreams, nightmares, about him, where he brings death to Earth, and I need to understand what they mean. And to learn that-" Strange walked over to the table and pushed the book back into Wong's arms.

"-I need you to open the book."

Wong looked at Strange skeptically, then, with a sigh, waved his hand over the lock, causing it to glow a bright orange before clicking open and clattering to the floor. As soon as the lock fell, Strange snatched the book away from Wong and began scrolling through the pages, mumbling to himself.

"Dream lords...the Endless...dream divination...summoning...alteration...ha! Dream interpretation!" Strange stopped flipping at the page labeled Dream Interpretation and began reading, as Wong looked nervously over his shoulder.

"I should warn you, Stephen, that the realm of dreams is one that should be treated with caut-" Strange waved him away.

"Yeah, yeah, I got it, Wong. I just need to see if I can track this man down before it's too late."

Wong gave Strange a nervous look, but stepped back to allow him space to work. He had never seen him quite this rattled before.

Elsewhere, in Paris...

David had come to this cafe with the intention of killing Farouk (or helping him, he hadn't actually been 100% sure on that). But now, here he was, eating waffles. He hadn't really eaten since the club, and these waffles were good, but he knew that he needed to approach Farouk from a position of strength, not one of shoveling waffles into your mouth.

"Enough!" David pushed the plate away, his shout drawing the attention of the cafe once again. Farouk smirked, an already unpleasant gesture made worse by the fact that he did using the face of one of his friends, and leaned forward, lowering his shades to make eye contact with David.

"What's the matter, dear David?" Farouk smiled wider as David seethed, "Don't like the waffles?" He waved the waitress over, and she blankly stepped forward, standing beside Farouk, who gently placed a hand on her back.

"This girl ordered them just special for you." The waitress, her face completely serene, began to tear up, in clear pain, while everyone else continued with their meals and conversations.

"I'd hate to hurt her feelings, David." David gritted his teeth, trying to get into the woman's mind, only for Farouk, the bastard, to block him at every turn. After a few more moments, Farouk relented, taking his hand off of her back, and she quickly walked back into the kitchen, tears rolling down her cheeks but totally uncertain as to why. She'd never remember, no matter who she went to, why she had been crying in front of customers.

Farouk folded his hands and placed them on the table, watching as David attempted to plan his next course of action. Finally, David leaned forward and hissed, "Now, I get to talk-" just as a mysterious orange crackle formed under his chair, briefly silencing him. David looked at the floor, confused, then yelped in surprise as the crackling turned into a full-fledge portal and he tumbled, chair and all, through it.

Alone once again, Farouk dabbed his lips with a napkin, stood up, and left a small tip for the waitress before leaving the cafe. "No, my child." He thought to himself as he walked down the street, blending with the crowd. You do not.


David felt as though he had been falling for about thirty minutes when his chair landed with an unceremonious thud in the middle of...somewhere. A general scan of the room showed he was in some sort of mansion, surrounded by books, while a fireplace crackled ominously next to him. Directly in front of him was a green armchair and a massive window resembling an eye. He tried to stand, but small, bright-red bands strapped his hands and legs to the chair. David groaned, "I don't have time for this." and attempted to stand again, but a voice, calm and commanding, gave him pause.

"I wouldn't try if I were you. No one's broken the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak in a thousand years."

David turned at the sound of the voice to see a man with salt and pepper hair and a goatee ascending the stairs. Most confusingly, he was wearing a red cape and blue robes, while a bronze necklace hung around his neck.

"I've seen some strange stuff in the last couple months, but wizards? Wizards are a bit much."

The figure sighed as he took his seat across from David.

"We prefer the term "Sorcerers"."

David blinked, and suddenly the "Sorcerer" was holding a book in his hand, flipping through it and mumbling to himself as David struggled with his bindings. The silence got to David, and he eventually cleared his throat, getting the Sorcerer's attention.

"You mind telling me where I am, exactly? Or better yet, who are you, besides a-" David made a lifted his hands in mock theatrics, "-"Sorcerer"?"

The Sorcerer closed the book and set it aside, where it vanished as soon as David blinked again. The man looked at David with interest and leaned forward, as if studying him, before he finally replied, "My name is Dr. Stephen Strange, but what's more important is...who are you?"

David rolled his eyes. Stephen Strange? Bullshit, that's not a name.

"Who I am, asshole, is someone who is very pissed, because you just blew months of work so you could take me to a freaking mansion in godknowswhere!"

Strange sighed again. The man in his dreams had been much more talkative, but at least the spell had worked. All Strange had to do was picture his face, focus intently, and he had him. Now the real trick was trying to figure out who he was.

"If you have to know, we're in the Sanctum Sanctorum, and I've brought you here to determine-"

"Oh come on."

David's annoyance gave Strange paused.

"What?"

"You're "Dr. Strange" and we're in your "Sanctum Sanctorum"? Sounds like bullshit to me. Now, let me out, or I'm going to have to tear this place apart, piece by-"

One of the bands appeared and wrapped itself around David's mouth, and his eyes flared in outrage and surprise. He continued mumbling, presumably some sort of profanity, though it was (thankfully) hard to hear. Strange continued.

"Now, as I was saying, I've foreseen disturbing images about you, and I'm not letting you go anywhere until we determine exactly why I've been getting these dreams."

Now that pissed David off. This guy had dragged him all the way to his weird house because he was having bad dreams? As Strange continued talking, David realized the only way he was getting out of here was if he busted out himself. Now, he just needed a plan, which was quickly formed when David laid eyes on the books, scattered about. Now, he just needed to keep Strange talking.

"Alright, you wanna know who I am: My name is David Haller, and I'm a mutant. Not just any mutant, but a really powerful one who was looking for another mutant who has spent the entirety of my life thinking I'm a crazy person, then stole two of my friend's bodies to use for his sick, twisted games."

Strange blinked, already confused, and tried to ask what a "mutant" was before David cut him off.

"And because of you, I lost him after hunting him for months, because you had a bad dream. There, Dr. Weird or whatever your name was, does that sum things up?"

Strange stopped to process the glut of information that was just thrown at him, distracting him long enough for David to hurl several of the books at him, knocking him out of the chair. Strange was on the ground for just a moment, but it was all David needed. With a grin, he snapped his fingers, the Bands of Cytorrak wavered, before giving in and turning to simple ribbons after a second snap.

David stood up, triumphant, as Strange struggled to his feet, jaw agape in shock.

"The Bands! How did you-"

David waved his hand, sending Strange hurtling out the window, then headed for the stairs, a smirk on his face. That had been easier than he thought.

As he descended the stairs, David looked down in confusion as the stairs stretched endlessly beneath him, each step being replaced by another. He stopped to try and catch his bearings when he heard Strange speak up from behind him.

"That was...rude."

David pivoted in shock to see Strange floating in the air, his cloak levitating him through the broken window. Before David could even question how exactly he was flying, Strange waved his hands and conjured a whip, wrapping it around his legs and knocking him to the ground. When David tried to stand, a blast of wind sent him tumbling down the stairs.

Floating after him, Strange sighed as he descended the stairs, watching as David struggled to pick himself back up.

"Honestly, I tried to be nice here, but-"

He was cut off by a large bronze pot slamming into his chest, knocking the wind out of him. Taking a second to inspect what hit him, Strange realized that this young man seriously just hit him with the Cauldron of the Cosmos. Before he could inspect for damage, dozens of books came hurtling at him, all collected and thrown by David. With a cry of shock, Strange managed to form a shield, sending the books tumbling to the floor. When Strange lowered the shield, he realized David was gone, and felt David's presence behind him seconds too late.

With one light push, David sent Strange flying out of the Sanctum, smashing through the doors and tumbling into the street, where people rushed out of the way and gawked at him as he pulled himself up and the cloak dusted him off. Giving a nervous glance at the people who looked at him in confusion, Strange gathered himself and took off into the sky.

I can't let anyone get caught in the crossfire.

Exiting the Sanctum, David watched as Strange flew away and angrily floated after him. He wasn't getting away that easy. As he followed Strange into the sky, he saw a glimmer of...something. Almost like a kaleidoscope? As the Mirror Dimension washed over him, David simply felt off, almost lightheaded.

Strange smirked. The kid was in his domain now.

"You're clearly powerful, David. So it looks like I'll have to step things up."

David hadn't felt this bad since the time Lenny bought drugs from a sketchy chemist, and as Strange suddenly morphed into a dozen, then two dozen, then finally almost a hundred versions of himself, he began to wonder if maybe this entire fight was a bad trip. All of the Strange moved in sync and fired a blast of crackling orange energy, the beams slamming into David and causing him to scream in pain. It felt like being trapped in a microwave. David just ma

Strange continued blasting David, moving constantly to keep him off-guard. If he was anywhere near as powerful as the dream suggested, he couldn't let him get an attack out or he was done for. As the blasts wore him down, David gritted his teeth and tried remembering Melanie's lessons, to focus on a single subject, to clear your mind, and...Syd. David's mind flashed back to the first time he saw Syd, how she smiled warmly when their eyes met, how she agreed to be his girlfriend without hesitation, and how she had told that this, all of this was real. And she was out there, somewhere, searching for him, and he couldn't get taken out here.

And just like that, his mind was clear. Closing his eyes, ignoring the pain, David searched the mind of each Strange until one, finally, started to make noise.

He's almost finished! I just need to-

Forming an energy shield to deflect the blasts back into various Stranges, David grinned. No more cat and mouse nonsense. With a snap of his fingers, all the duplicates burst into flames, collapsing into ash in a matter of seconds. Strange, panicking, tried to fire another whip, but David turned it into a snake, forcing him to drop it. His skin crackling with energy, David flew at Strange, who formed another shield just in time for the mutant to smash into it, shattering it and sending him hurtling down to the city below.

Dazed, Strange made a note to thank the Cloak later as it managed to steer him towards a rooftop, which he hit with an unceremonious thud. Strange groaned as he attempted to stand. Something was definitely broken, but he'd have to worry about it later. That is, if there was a later. David landed gently on the rooftop and groaned as Strange pulled himself to his feet.

"Please, please, don't get up."

Wiping blood from his mouth, Strange conjured a eldritch staff and lunged forward, cracking David over the head and sweeping him off his feet before he could react. When Strange tried to knock him out, David moved his head out of the way, just missing it as it cracked into the ground. David rolled away from Strange, waving his hands so the staff would collapse into sand. Strange, confused, let the sand collapse into the ground, then formed a sword and slashed at David, who stumbled back and tried to avoid it, wincing as it cut his arm.

"What is with you and glowing weapons?"

He was starting to regret not taking Kerry up on the offer of sparring lessons. As Strange made a stabbing motion forward, David sidestepped and then flung Strange to the end of the rooftop, where he tumbled over the side with a cry of shock. David breathed a sigh of relief, then mumbled, "Oh, shit." as he ran to check on Strange. But when he looked over, he didn't see a body on the streets below.

As David remembered that Strange could fly, he heard a distinct crackle, the same he heard in the cafe, right before a whip wrapped around his neck and he staggered back from the edge. As Strange's grip tightened around his neck, he grunted out an apology to David.

"Don't *hrm* worry, you'll just wake *hrm* up back in the Sanctum."

Gasping for air, David flailed for something, anything to grab. He just needed to get his hands on Strange and he could end this quickly. As his hand grazed his forehead, David screamed as he furiously sent out a psychic blast that brought both of them to the ground.


Strange awoke not on the gravel of the rooftop but on a soft, if somewhat stiff, couch. Gone were the noises of New York, the chatter, the car horns, all of it replaced with just the sound of a ticking clock. As Strange pulled himself up, he groaned and held his temples to ignore the mild aching in his head.

"Ah, Stephen, nice of you to join us."

Strange looked to see David, now dressed in a fancy tweed jacket and holding a clipboard, sitting across from him. Strange looked around the room, bewildered, then down at what he was wearing. Instead of his robes and the cloak, he was wearing an orange and white jumpsuit, remarkably similar to the one David had been wearing when he appeared in the Sanctum, while they appeared to be in some form of therapist's office, complete with stacked bookshelves, degrees hanging on the wall, and a picture of David smiling next to a blonde woman and their two children. More importantly, a chain was wrapped Strange's waist, preventing him from standing. He chuckled.

"Let me guess: your "happy place"?"

David looked over the office with a sad expression, then shrugged.

"More like a prison, if I'm being upfront with you. But it has it's moments."

David leaned back in his chair, the moment of weakness gone in favor of a casual smirk. He clicked his pen, set it against the clipboard, and looked at Strange with a curious expression on his face.

"But enough about me. We're here to talk about you, Stephen. So: what made you want to become a surgeon?"

"How did you-"

David tapped the pen to his forehead and smiled again.

"I know everything about you, Stephen. You might be a wizard, or sorcerer, or a dabbler in the dark arts or whatever, but trust me: the only place I'm ever really in control is here."

As he stared David down, the pieces started to come together for Strange. David was clearly a telepath of some form, on top of his other powers, and while that was a skillset largely unfamiliar to Strange, he had dealt with the Astral Plane before. And if David said this was the only place he was in control, then he must be in some form of simulated environment. The only question was: how exactly was he supposed to get out of it?

"I can hear your thoughts, you know-" David mumbled as he wrote on the clipboard, "-and I wouldn't bother trying to break out until you've told me about your little "dreams"." He flipped the clipboard over to reveal a crude drawing of a giant monster stomping on a stick figure with a goatee and a cape.

"Because, Stephen, I can control everything that happens in this plane, and you don't escape unless I say so. So, talk."

Strange smiled. So it was the Astral Plane, and if it was the Astral Plane, then all Strange had to do was close his eyes and...

David's gasp of surprise told Strange that he had activated the astral form, and now he could simply float out of the chains. David stood up and stared at the floating, blue Strange with a mix of shock and confusion.

"Yeah, I know what the astral plane is, kid."

With a grunt, Strange grabbed David by the shoulders and hurled him through the door of the study, sending him tumbling into drab, white hallways of Clockworks. David ducked as Strange flew after him, dragging himself backward as the almost ghostly form followed him down the hall. Strange smiled as David looked on in terror.

"Now, when we're done, I'm gonna wake and take you back to the Sanctum, then we'll figure out what to do with you."

David got up and ran around the corner, forcing a sigh from Strange, who slowly floated after him. Strange heard a faint hum of music, but he couldn't quite place it.

"Come on, don't run! Haven't we both had enough of-"

Play this

When Strange turned the corner, he stopped gloating at the sight of David, in full Ghostbusters attire, wielding an authentic proton pack, as Ray Parker Jr. began blaring through the loudspeakers. Strange let out a yelp of pain as the pack fired a burst of energy, knocking him back into the wall. The beam wrapped around Strange, and David laughed as he smashed Strange back and forth into the various walls before letting his astral form collapse onto the floor, groaning.

With a snap of David's fingers, Strange was back in his normal body, and he rolled over to see David, now wearing a vintage safari outfit, grin as he loaded a hunting rifle. Strange stumbled tried to conjure a shield, but nothing happened, and his attempt to fall back was cut short by two red-tailed darts slamming into his back. With a final groan, Strange collapsed into a comical heap, and David planted his foot on his back, keeping him in place. With a grunt, he rolled Strange over and looked at him, stroking his chin in contemplation. It was time he figured what the hell this dream Strange had been having was.

stop music here

David tapped his fingers to Strange's forehead, and he let out a cry of pain as it all came rushing to him at once. Almost an observer, he watched in horror as some future version of himself slaughtered hero after hero as Lenny clapped and cheered, finally ending by slicing Strange's head off. Stumbling away from Strange's prone form, he breathed, in and out, trying to calm himself as memories of his slaughter of Divison 3 came back to him. There was only one person capable of that and it was...

"Farouk."

He must've known David was going to catch him, that bastard, that monster, so he made Strange think David was a threat so he had an escape plan. It had almost worked, if David hadn't beaten him. And now, now he was even more pissed off. David sighed as he stood up and ended the dream, causing both him and Strange to awaken with a gasp.


Strange awoke with a shout and nearly lunged for David, who held him in place with telekinesis and held up a reassuring hand.

"I know about the dream, and if you just give me a second I can tell what exactly is going on."

Strange, frozen in place, sighed.

"Well, you may as well go ahead, seeing as how I can't move."


"So when you talked about "mutants", you were telling the truth?" Strange, rubbing his wrists, inquired as he and David sat on top of the rooftop. After a long conversation, David nodded, rubbing his temples in annoyance. Strange, sheepish, stood up and offered his hand to David in apology.

"Well, then in that case, I apologize for letting myself get manipulated so easily. If this Farouk is as powerful as you say, I can't help you find him, but I can at least put you back on his trail."

With a wave of his hand, Strange summoned a crackling orange portal that led to an alley outside of what David recognized as the cafe. With a grin, he started to go through, then stopped to shake Strange's hand.

"Thanks, and I'm, uh, I'm sorry for making a mess of your "Sanctum"."

Strange waved his concern away with a chuckle.

"Look, that's not the first time it's been destroyed, and it certainly won't be the last. Consider it...payback. And if you ever need help, don't be afraid to find me."

David smiled, then stepped through the portal into the cafe. As it closed behind him, it left a small business that said only "177 Bleecker St." Looking it over, David mumbled, "Well, I guess that's how I can find you." before tucking it into his pocket and walking back into the street. Farouk was gone, but he couldn't have gone far. If he knew Farouk's tastes, he'd almost certainly be in the nightclub district.

His smile replaced with one of determination, David pushed through the crowd. If he hurried, maybe he could still catch him.


Epilogue...

Strange returned to the Sanctum to find Wong lifting bookshelves and rubble to restore things to their original position. Wong looked at Strange, angrily shook his head, then went back to work.

"I leave to grab lunch and you destroy the Sanctum. Typical."

Strange, using the Eye, reversed most of the damage with a wave of his hand and scoffed.

"I didn't destroy the Sanctum, the kid did. It was all a big misunderstanding anyway."

Wong sighed, "Next time you have a misunderstanding, perhaps try taking it outside."

As they restored the last of the damage, Strange replied, in annoyance, "I did." then added in a grumble, "Eventually."

Suddenly, the door opened, and Strange and Wong turned to see a bald man in a wheelchair enter.

"Oh, we're not open right now, sir. Perhaps you could return later."

The man surveyed the room, then turned to look at Strange with a smile.

"I'm afraid I don't need any supernatural assistance at the moment, Stephen."

Strange started a reply, then looked at the man in confusion. Wong paused as well, taking a step back as the man wheeled forward.

"Wait, do I know you from somewhere?"

The man shook his head and rested a finger on his temple.

"No, but you did once. My apologies, but I can't have anyone learning about us quite yet, no matter what my boy gets up to."

In an instant, the man vanished, and Strange and Wong couldn't quite remember what they had been doing. Or where half the day had gone. Or why part of the Sanctum was trashed.

"Wong, do you...what were we doing?"

Wong shrugged, then replied, "I was going to get lunch, I believe. Or did I get lunch?"

Strange tapped his breast pocket, then opened it to see that he was one short. Something had happened, but he had forgotten it now. Like a bad dream.

Expert's Opinion

While Strange was a more experienced and skilled fighter, David was able to overcome this gap through a mixture of sheer variety and power. For all of Strange's skill, he just couldn't go toe-to-toe with David for long, nor did he have anything to counter his telepathy or control of the astral plane. David was simply too strong for the Sorcerer Supreme.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

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