Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Stephen Strange.
Setting: During and after the events of Doctor Strange.
Summary: The shifting of Stephen's priorities was not an easy process.
Disclaimer: They belong to Marvel. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Originally written for the prompt "Fool's Gold" at Fandom Weekly. (Trivia: at the time of writing, the particular watch I based my description on was priced at over one-hundred-eighty thousand dollars.)
The limited-edition Patek Philippe Nautilus lay smooth and heavy on Stephen's palm. He turned it over in his hand, admiring every detail of its design: the distinctive horizontal embossing on the blue face, the flawless polish of the white gold casing and band. Without a doubt, this watch was the proudest acquisition among all his luxury timepieces.
…At least until an even more spectacular one came along.
More than the beautiful look and exquisite craftsmanship of high-end watches, what he enjoyed about them was their meaning. He had worked hard for the riches and recognition that came with his success as a doctor. A wristwatch that cost more than some people's mortgages told the world he could have everything he wanted—and he was proud of it.
Smiling to himself, Stephen carefully set the watch in its place among the others in his collection, and closed the drawer.
The broker clucked his tongue as he methodically collected the last of Stephen's watches, one by one, and packed them for shipping. Slouched dejectedly on a lone chair across the room, Stephen thought he might have silenced that maddening noise by strangling the man, if only his hands still had the strength.
He stared down with bitterness at the scarred and twisted things that trembled uncontrollably in his lap. Months after the accident, he had still found no way to fix them.
The multiple surgeries he had tried, and which failed him time and again, were costing him everything. His watches, his antique grand piano, the valuable artworks that once adorned his walls; he had always reveled in possessing such finery, but now it meant nothing to him. All he wanted in the world was simply to regain the steady hands that had earned his wealth in the first place.
But he had learned so very painfully that he could not have everything he wanted, after all.
Battered and bruised after a skirmish with a pesky interdimensional beast, Stephen limped into his study in the New York Sanctum. He sank down wearily at his desk, stilling the tremors in his fingers by pressing them tightly to the cup of tea he held. Its warmth soaked into them, easing the ache that was ever-present in their reconstructed joints.
For a moment he stared down at his hands cradling the cup. After all he had experienced, all he had become… the one thing he once sought to fix about himself was the one thing that hadn't changed at all.
It was possible. He knew that now. The Ancient One explained the method to him before she died, and even in his relatively short time as a sorcerer, he had grown more than skilled enough to work out the exact ritual. He could restore his hands, return to his work as a celebrated neurosurgeon, and begin to reclaim all of the lost things he had once treasured.
Yet even with that in mind, those trappings of wealth and status still felt utterly unimportant—and in a very different way than they had when he traded them for the slightest glimmers of medical hope.
It's not about you.
It had taken her death to make him understand. If there was anything he wanted for himself now, it was to justify her faith in him; to be what she had believed he could be.
He would not take back his old life. Instead he would remain at the New York Sanctum as its master, and continue to wage the sorcerers' age-old battle against threats from beyond. Where his surgical talents may once have benefited thousands of lives, his innate gift for magic could help safeguard billions. His efforts might never even be known to the world he meant to protect… yet somehow, the man he had become was alright with that.
Once again, he had the chance to have everything—but his most surprising discovery was the peace of mind he found in choosing not to.
2017 Jordanna Morgan