2019-08-20 - Aftermaths and New Beginnings


Strange offers comfort and pasta to Rachel after a difficult choice.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Aug 20 08:27:09 2019
Location: RP Room 4

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Theme Song



It's mid-afternoon, probably around 3 or 4 pm, when Stephen receives a garbled text from Rachel. Her text typing, which — at the best of times — isn't great, is very poor. A true post-millennial, she doesn't use much in the way of capitalization, or punctuation. Even if she had used them, it doesn't make a lot of sense, without context.

Munin: i did it btu im meltnig dwn when yuo have tiem pls hlp nede isolatoin

After some puzzling over the pidgin English, it seems that Rachel's done something, but she needs help finding isolation, for some reason. She does add about fifteen different crying/sobbing emoji at the end of it, which probably does spur on some anxiety about what state of mind she's likely in, and curiosity to find out what happened. What she did.

Her loft apartment…is pretty swank, to be honest. With really neat, Rachel-vibed decor and decoration, a wide-open, airy floor plan with some places made private with interesting dividers, some with furniture, and some actually walled off, and a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows with privacy tinting so that she can see out, but no one can see in…it's the kind of place most New Yorkers dream about.

However, this little New Yorker is having a rough day. In the entryway of her apartment, just inside the heavy industrial door with its tons of locks, there're the disheveled remains of a picnic basket that looks to've been hastily repacked, and just left on the floor. Then, a couple of flip flops kicked off, which led to her room. Rachel may be found curled up in her bed, crying into her pillow. There's a thick smell of dank weed smoke hanging in the air in her room…and, it looks like she just flopped down face first on her bed, her phone held loosely in her hand.


A simple scrying at least lets him determine that Rachel isn't in immediate danger or even any danger at all, beyond emotional turmoil. He can, at the least, do his best to offer comfort. He does not rush or teleport, because she needs Stephen, the man who cares about her, not Doctor Strange swooping in through portals through rune-torn rifts with the scent of power on his fingertips.

He does let himself in, a simple spell decrypting her passcode and opening the door. Using magick on electronics could be a tricky business, but he was getting the hang of it.

He takes a moment to tidy, picking up the remnants of the basket, tossing aside that which was refuse and bagging it in plastic, tying off one end. The salvagable parts he salvages, through refrigeration or simply putting them on a shelf.

When he does finally open her bedroom door, she'll see him in a simple black t-shirt and slacks, a leather belt at his waist. His salt and pepper hair has been freshly trimmed - she caught him at the salon. He smells good, having had an almond-and-avocado facial to keep his pores open.

He comes in and sits at the foot of the bed, reaching in with a long fingered hand and taking her phone, setting it aside.

"Go take a shower," he instructs softly. "Take your time. Get dressed. I'll make you something to eat." he says. He simply seems to assume she'll comply, reaching up and brushing a lock of hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear, "It will be all right," he says, placing a soft kiss at her temple and then leaving her to her business while he goes to the kitchen.


The waves of guilt, self-reproach, and fear are even thicker than the pot smoke that's wafting lazily around her room. It's harsh, and heavy, and Stephen can tell she's doing her best to hold it back, but failing miserably to keep it completely contained. It's taking so much energy to keep it from pouring out like a burst dam that she's having difficulty moving. She doesn't let him go, right away. Her nose red, her cheeks flushed, her lashes glistening with tears, she wraps her arms around him and just cries for a few minutes, for as long as he'll allow her to. She sniffles pathetically as he kisses her gently on the head, and she goes to do as he bids, walking with a dragging gait.

He can hear her shower start up and the shifting sounds of the water as she steps into its spray and displaces it. She's in there, at least, and he can focus on other things for a while. She lets the spray hit her face full on, forcing her to stop crying for a bit as she holds her breath for as long as she can manage. Then, she lets it soak her hair and beat down on her neck. She really just takes a good fifteen minutes of letting the water pelt her with its forceful stream before she gets to the nitty gritty of showering. She washes her hair, she scrubs her body, she does her skincare routine…all the things she normally does, and had already done earlier that morning…but, hey. After all that crying, it's good to do something that's invigorating and refreshing, on a more normal, regular basis. It kind of helps reset her mood a bit, to where she's a little numb by the time she's done.

She wraps up in a towel and blow dries her hair, slipping into her house-shoes that she reserves for from-the-shower-to-the-bedroom-and-back-and-vice-versa trips. She only realizes she hasn't brought a change of clothes into the bathroom until she's done cleaning up from her shower, rinsing the shower out, clearing the drain of hair and whatnot, brushing her teeth…that sort of thing. Swallowing thickly, she just goes for it. Cloaked inside a big towel, she scampers from the bathroom to her bedroom and closes the door so she can get dressed, her cheeks a little flushed as she leans against the door. But, she doesn't want to keep Stephen waiting. So, she gets herself together and dresses in comfort clothes, an oversized t-shirt (white with a large Kuromi head at its center) with a grey sports bra beneath, and some soft, stretchy black pajama pants. She pulls on a pair of black socks with little skulls and bats on them, and slips her house slippers back on. Then, she exits her bedroom, sniffling and looking for Stephen in her kitchen/dining area.


By the time she's emerged, he's put together something resembling a meal. There's a smell of garlic and butter in the air, from the bread browning in the oven, although he's mitigated it enough that it's not overwhelming, just a pleasant tang at the back of the throat. The spaghetti he's finished with, dropped into a colander in the sink and steaming noticeably as he puts the finishing touches on the sauce burbling away on the stove.

When Rachel emerges, he takes her hand and gently leads her to the table, urging her to take a seat. He reaches behind his ear and draws, of all things, a joint, offering it to her and then she can see he has one of his own at the counter, laying atop a lid to keep it from burning the surface. He doesn't seem to be particularly high, though, merely relaxed and comfortable.

"I take it you had your talk with the young man. I also take it you paid an emotional price for your honesty," he says, stroking her hair in passing as he goes to mingle sauce and pasta in a large bowl.

"Doing the right thing isn't always easy. Walking away, leading him on. "Ghosting", as I believe the term is. All of those options were in front of you. You chose the hard way. I'm sorry it left you bruised, but I'm proud of you for doing it all the same," he says.



Rachel's small hand grips his as he leads her to the table, and she sinks down in the chair gratefully. She feels so exhausted. So drained. She can't help but be amazed as he gives her a joint, smiling gratefully with fresh tears trying to well in her red-rimmed eyes. She accepts hers and lights it with a lighter she tks into her hand from a bowl of them nearby. She gets it started and then draws heavily on it, taking the deep hit into her lungs and holding it there for as long as she can, slowly exhaling…and very little of the smoke is visible.

She exhales more fully in a sigh, nodding her head. "I did it," she agrees, repeating herself. "I broke his heart, Stephen. I didn't… I hoped he didn't like me as much as he did, but… I hurt him so much. And, I was so stupid about it," she says miserably, her words growing thick with tears as they try to come back full-force. "Yes, please," she says pathetically, even as the tears break free and she cries more. "It's just," she sniffles sadly, "I've experienced these things before, but it was never *my* fault. It was hard and hurt and was very sad, when it was someone else experiencing it, and it was someone else's blame… Because it was *my* fault, and *I* was the one responsible for causing him pain…someone I truly care about, and love, but love as a friend…" She breaks down into tears, again, even as she pours more and more parmesan on her food. She does love her parmesan, does Rachel. Even in the worst of times.

"I invited him and his brother to a picnic. In retrospect, I know I shouldn't have done it today. I should've waited for it to be just the two of us, so he could have that memory, untainted by my stupid, stupid bad decision. His little brother was so happy. They were putting on a play of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the park, and I packed so much food, and they were both so happy…" she gulps for air. "And, I ruined everything. I broke his heart, and I gave him a consolation prize of an empathic memory of how I truly feel for him, because I thought that might make the sting less, if he knew how genuinely I do care about him and it wasn't all just bullshit that people say and don't mean…" She buries her face in her hands, her hair falling forward to curtain her sorrow, though waves and waves of it are spilling out in a maelstrom from her weakened defenses.

"I hurt him so much and there's nothing I can do to help. I mean, I could, but what kind of monster would that make me? I'm so tempted, Stephen, to make him feel okay. To /make/ him feel better. It's so ugly, the selfish urge in me," she weeps, wiping the flowing tears from her face, trying to get a grip on herself. She reached for the joint, again, taking another heavy toke on it.


He listens to it all, carefully. Stephen's a good listener, always has been. He was terrible at bedside manner, once upon a time, but never because he didn't listen. Only because he always thought he knew best and didn't particularly care about the opinions of others. That, at least, has changed.

"There is no right way, no clean way to do such things," he says softly. "Matters of the heart come with tangles and thorns. All the more so with your gifts, where you feel not only your own feelings, but those of others. It's an incredible burden to bear. I have seen older souls than you buckle beneath its weight," he says.

"He will heal, in time. That is also the nature of hearts. Even when they seem to be broken into a thousand pieces, they mend."

He takes the time to make plates for both of them, taking another toke from his own blunt before he serves. He gets out the garlic bread, a piece for each of them, laid on a napkin beside each plate. None of this cutlery, none of these plates, seem familiar. Yet here they are.

"As for the last, it was an urge you did humor. You're stronger than you know," he says. He squeezes her fingers softly as he takes a seat next to her, rather than across. "You did what you had to do and you did it the best you knew how. That's all we can do."


Rachel watches through tear-blurry eyes as Stephen calmly does the things he's doing, admiring how he tokes on his blunt, how nice he looks today, and the way he serves her first. She sniffles and uses a nearby box of tissues to blow her nose when he's otherwise preoccupied with the bread. She comes to another break in her crying jags and she hiccups oxygen in the way people sometimes do after a hard cry. She takes another drag and puts her joint aside to get ready to eat. She takes a moment, however, to look at Stephen as he sits down. "Thank you," she says softly. "This is so monumentally unfair to you. I know it is. You're practically being a saint, right now. Drying my tears as I cry over another boy. But, you know that it's special circumstances. I… He's probably the best friend I've ever had, and I know that's sad. Even though I'd just crushed his heart, he even had the strength to tell me that he only wanted me to be happy. He said he didn't want me out of his life… And, I could feel how hard it was for him to swallow what was happening, and say that. To be bigger than his knee-jerk emotions wanted him to be," she exhales.

"It's just a shitty situation that can't be fixed quickly," Rachel nods. "You're right about that. It's just… This is the first time I've ever had to do something like that and I tried really hard to make it as painless as possible, but…there's no real way to do that and I just… I feel like shit, Stephen. I feel like a monster," she leans her head to rest on his shoulder, smelling very fresh and clean. "Thank goodness you don't think I am," she adds softly, sliding her arm around his waist, her food momentarily on hold, despite the need to eat. She didn't eat much at the picnic because she was nervous about having to have the talk with Robbie. Her tummy grumbles, as if to punctuate that fact. But, her priorities seem to be being close to Stephen, breathing in his cologne, feeling the warmth of his presence. "I know the timing is weird, but…you look so handsome, today," she says very quietly.


He kisses her on the top of the head again, a dextrous hand stroking her back, "Thank you," he says in response to the compliment. "You, of course, are lovely as always, in spite of the puffy eyes," he teases.

"There's nothing saintlike about offering you the comfort you deserve. What you did was unpleasant, yes, but hardly monstrous. Most people do it, sometime or another. I'm sure I've broken a heart or two, especially in my youth, although, unlike you, I was likely far too callous at the time to take the full measure of the damage I did. I am very pleased to meet you now and not then. My unenlightened self was something of a bastard," he says.

"No, not monstrous. What you did was human, one of the most human things you can do. Which, of course, is why it hurts so much. As I believe a movie once said, 'Life is pain, princess. Anyone who says differently is selling something'."


Rachel closes her eyes and listens to his deep voice rumble through his chest as he speaks, soothing words and soothing sounds. She nods her head in understanding. "People who don't have the ability to feel others' emotions as I do… Well, it's not exactly easy for them, depending on how they feel about the other person…but, it's definitely a different experience to what I had to do. You're right about that, too. If only I didn't care about him so much as a friend. If only he was someone whom I only knew in passing.. If only he wasn't a teammate…" she exhales a sigh. "It was doomed to be complicated from the start." She sniffles and smiles, looking up at him with her pink-rimmed lavender eyes, "Extra points for the Princess Bride reference."

Then, her tummy starts making more vigorously voiced demands and she grins sheepishly. "I'm starved. Thank you for making this delicious meal for us. These plates and this silverware," she says with raised eyebrows. "They're lovely, Stephen," she murmurs as she picks up her fork. She's feeling a little better. It's easy to tell, because her empathic overflow has mellowed considerably to something that's slightly numb and definitely nicely stoned. She digs into her food, taking a large bite of the garlic bread as she considers something Stephen said. "Do you think," she asks around a wad of cheeked bread, holding a hand in front of her mouth so as to not be gross when she talks with food in her mouth, "…do you think that it's perfect for us to be together at the ages we are, now? Because," she chews a second and inhales before continuing, "I definitely feel like we're at great points, and we complement one another."


Strange takes up his own food, making quick and measured work of it. He's not the surgeon he once was, perhaps, but he's still effortless with a knife in his hand, easily selecting and twirling bites of pasta around his fork before wiping his mouth with a soft napkin.

"Gifts like yours don't tend to come without a price, unfortunately. There will always be that double edge for you, that your senses may give you access to feelings you'd rather not know. People try to hide their ugliest selves beneath a veneer of civility. Falsefaced. But you see through to the visage underneath and seeing the world as it really is, well, that's rarely a pleasant experience," he sighs.

"Which is why we try to make it better, of course."

He sets aside his utensils, "I don't know about perfection. But I know I'm ready to be with someone and that you're the someone I want to be with. The rest is something we'll have to discover together, if you'll have me," he says.


Rachel considers his words quietly as he eats, making a sizable dent in her own food as she does so. She begins cleaning her plate of marinara by sweeping garlic bread along its surface, eating the results with a slowly diminishing appetite. "It's people I can't read well that I have a hard time trusting. Yes, it sucks to feel the lies someone's speaking as they do it with a straight face, but I know I can't trust them and move on. But, people whose emotions elude me? Or, worse, people who seem to have none? The former make me uneasy. The latter are anathema to me and make my stomach hurt. Empty, hollow… Awful." She gives a little shudder, her body gently bumping up against Stephen, sitting next to her.

"I didn't mean, like, literal perfection. I meant that I feel like you're… Well, you said it yourself: you're glad it's the you of today that's with me and not the you of yesteryear. You'd probably have chewed me up and spat me out, back then. Meanwhile, I know I need someone who's ready for the challenges he'll face being with me. At my best, but especially my worst. Someone who can handle it, come what may," she exhales softly. "If that doesn't scare you off, then I hope you'll have /me/."


He smiles and takes his time with the garlic bread. He enjoys the crunch of it, the sinful buttery quality that triggers his saliva. The harsh kiss of the garlic. "But you have a hard time reading me, don't you? DOes that mean you have trouble trusting me? I can open myself if you like, but my emotions having full reign can be dangerous. Magick is often powered by emotion and I don't like being sloppy,' he says.

Finished, he puts his plate away and hers when she's done, moving to stand beside her where she sits at the table. "I don't know that I'd have chewed you up. I was thoughtless and selfish, yes, but rarely cruel. I'd have wanted you, yes. I imagine most men do," he says, reaching out and brushing a finger along one of her carved cheekbones, "I don't get scared very much, Rachel. Not anymore. I have lost too much. And I am far, far too potent," he says. He takes her hand and lifts her to her feet. "If I want you and you want me, well…then I think the time for talk is over," he says.

And then he kisses her, taking her into his arms, his hand sliding around to cradle the back of her head, strong, present and assured.


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