Title: Relic Rivalry
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Doctor Strange, Thor, and a pair of fractious magical objects. (Also a Christine Palmer cameo.)
Setting: Coda to the mid-credits scene in Doctor Strange.
Summary: Doctor Strange never meant to start an eternal feud between his cloak and Thor's hammer. It just sort of happened.
Disclaimer: They belong to Marvel. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Upon watching the teaser encounter between Doctor Strange and Thor, I found that I really wanted to see their not-quite-inanimate companions have a disagreement… and this happened. I'm probably taking liberties with Mjolnir's capacity for independent action, but for comedic purposes, I think that's forgivable.
Submitted for the prompt word "Best" at Fan Flashworks.
Doctor Strange never meant to start an eternal feud between his cloak and Thor's hammer. It just sort of happened.
His first mistake, he conceded to himself later, was probably in giving Thor an unlimited source of alcohol. His second was in coming anywhere close to pitting his ego against a demigod from another world. Of course he should have known better by now… but evidently he was still learning to take the Ancient One's admonishments to heart.
After Stephen rose from his chair, Thor lingered for a few moments more, taking full advantage of the bottomless mug of ale he had been treated to. The doctor opted for patience as a show of good faith, and sidled over to admire the fabled Mjolnir, which rested on an antique end table near the door of the study. To Stephen's lifelong eye for beautiful things, the hammer was an exquisite piece of craftsmanship; but it was also much more than that. He didn't know whether it was the kind of magic-imbued relic he was familiar with, or merely the work of some unknown alien science, but his sorcery-honed senses could certainly feel its aura of power from where he stood.
What Stephen really wanted was to put his hands on it… but he wasn't quite sure how its owner might respond to that.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Glancing back at Thor inquisitively, he gestured to the weapon. "May I?"
By this point, Thor was looking quite a bit more relaxed and indulgent than when their meeting began—which perhaps had something to do with the ale. He raised an eyebrow, and a rather ominous smile lifted the corners of his mouth as he inclined his head. "By all means."
Gratified, Stephen returned his focus to Mjolnir. Although it was unnecessary in learning what he wanted to know, he couldn't resist tugging the glove from his right hand. Then with bared skin he touched the hammer, his scarred and quivering fingers gliding tentatively over the metal. The contact heightened his sense of its power, sent it resonating through him in ways that would never be perceived by those without mystic training.
Thor looked on with what appeared to be tolerant amusement, and possibly even a hint of expectation. Taking that as permission, Stephen closed his hand firmly around Mjolnir's handle, and pulled with all his strength.
He knew the legends, of course. So he wasn't surprised when the hammer refused to budge a single centimeter from the tabletop.
…Not that it wasn't just a little disappointing. After all, to save mankind from an interdimensional devourer of worlds, Stephen was once prepared to spend eternity dying in all sorts of unpleasant ways. If that level of self-sacrifice didn't make someone worthy to wield the weapon of a god, he couldn't imagine what did. He could only conclude that, much like the Cloak of Levitation which had embraced him with all his flaws, Mjolnir operated on its own eccentric and perhaps questionable judgment of character.
He let go of the immovable object and turned to Thor, with a shrug and a faint smile of chagrin. "I guess you saw that coming."
"Rest assured that it's no cause for embarrassment." The Asgardian's voice bore a condescending note of mock consolation. He looked more than a little smug as he strode forward and picked up the hammer without effort, casually flipping it. "The very mightiest of Earth's champions are among my friends—yet only one of them has proven worthy to wield Mjolnir."
Now shamelessly showing off, Thor raised the magic mug in his left hand to take a long gulp of ale, even as his right hand continued to flip Mjolnir end over end. Simultaneously fascinated and somewhat nettled, Stephen watched the weapon lift off from Thor's palm and spin upward in the air… and he just couldn't help himself.
At a small gesture from the sorcerer, the Cloak of Levitation launched itself from his shoulders and flew at Mjolnir, its lower edges stretching forward to ensnare and wrap tightly around the hammer's handle.
It was an impulsive experiment. Truthfully, Stephen more than half-expected that Mjolnir would just drop like an anvil—in the process likely pinning the Cloak between itself and the floor until Thor deigned to free the garment. Which would surely only do further damage to Stephen's dignity, and give Thor even greater entertainment.
However, that wasn't what happened. Instead the hammer remained suspended in midair, held securely by the folds of the floating Cloak.
Thor quietly choked on his ale.
For his part, Stephen blinked, trying valiantly to keep his own surprise from showing on his face. "Well, what do you know."
"…Ah," Thor murmured, exhaling a long breath. He nodded his head bemusedly, like a man acknowledging the cleverness of a joke played on him; but a distinct spark of irritation glimmered in his eyes, and when he spoke, the note of strain in his airily genial tone betrayed its forcedness. "A very tidy trick indeed, magician. Your cloak is obviously a thing of impressive power… but then, it is merely an object. And thus, of course, not subject to Mjolnir's judgments of worthiness.—Unlike its wearer, eh?"
Fighting back a vindictive grin, Stephen turned to pick up the glove he had previously laid aside. "Oh, sure. But still… you know. It's gotta be something to be the master of a relic that trumps the legendary hammer of Thor."
Behind him he heard a sudden sharp rustle of fabric, accompanied by a small gasp of surprise from the Asgardian. He knew that could not possibly be a good sign—and it was confirmed when he turned to see a jumbled flash of silver and red hurtling toward him.
"…And that's the story of how the Cloak of Levitation got into a brawl with Mjolnir over which is the best magical-relic companion."
"Uh-huh," murmured Doctor Christine Palmer, as she carefully applied a butterfly bandage to the small cut that rimmed the black eye Stephen was developing. In spite of her flat tone, her own eyes sparkled with a charming mixture of amusement and only half-sincere jaded incredulousness. She glanced up at the Cloak—now hovering sheepishly in a corner of the empty exam room where Stephen had opened a gateway. "Well, that's what you get for picking the flying carpet from Aladdin as your sidekick."
The Cloak visibly sagged in dejection.
Stephen smiled wearily. "Actually, the Cloak picked me—and earning his approval is not easy, so don't go hurting his feelings."
"Yeah…?" Christine studied the Cloak. Her expression softened into something almost like fondness, and she reached out to stroke its collar in the same way she might scratch a cat behind the ears. "Well, you did have the good taste to realize how dashing you'd look on Stephen, so I forgive you. Just don't pick fights, okay? I'm counting on you to look out for this guy."
Perking up, the Cloak affectionately swirled around her once, as Stephen watched with a warm feeling that nonetheless ended in a faint pang. He had missed and needed this: the way Christine could still ground some part of him in the ordinary world, even when she was face to face with the madness that was now his normal. He could never again belong in the reality she knew, but he didn't want to forget what it felt like.
He stretched out his hand as he stood, and the Cloak came to him, settling on his shoulders.
"You don't really believe a word I said, do you?" he asked Christine.
She wrinkled her nose at him with a playful air of wryness. "Stephen, believing you're hanging out with Avengers now is even harder than believing you've become some kind of all-powerful wizard."
"That's sorcerer, thank you."
"Got it. So then, if you were telling the truth, where did you leave Thor?"
"Last time I saw him, he was still laughing his Asgardian ass off in my study. …I knew I should only have given him tea."
Christine blanched. "Wait. You were drinking with him?"
"No. But he was. And we still have unfinished business, so I'd better go make sure he hasn't given himself alcohol poisoning by now.—You know, if that's even possible for him."
Briefly Stephen rested one crooked hand on Christine's shoulder, leaning down to place the very lightest kiss on her forehead by way of thanks. Then, somewhat reluctantly, he turned and opened a gateway back to the Sanctum; but as he stepped through the sparking circle, he heard her call out one more question.
"Do I even want to know what 'business' you have with a Norse-god Avenger from another planet?"
"Nope," he answered succinctly, and the gateway flickered shut behind him.
2017 Jordanna Morgan