~ Part Two ~
It was almost three in the morning when Ciara Duncan's phone rang. At first, the sound startled her and she almost melted the mobile with her untethered magical energy; but she luckily caught herself just in time. Having been in a deep sleep, it was quite the rude awakening. Though she found herself reaching over and answering the offending call all the same.
"Hello?" Her voice was harsh from sleep, and her Scottish accent was far more noticeable than usual, but her tone was still light. Wouldn't do to rip off some poor sod's head before she knew why they were calling her in the wee hours of the morning.
"Hello," a deep voice returned. "Miss Ciara Duncan?"
"Aye," she mumbled. "An' who is this?"
"Doctor Stephen Strange. We met sometime ago at the Sanctum." His tone was almost amused as he elaborated, making Ciara's eyes pop open. "You paid me a visit, looking for a 'spot of magic', as you so eloquently put it, for your lack of memory. You left me your number in the off chance I found something useful."
Ciara rubbed the sleep from her forest green eyes with her free hand, smiling despite herself. "Of course, lovie. Sorry for my confusion, my head was all mushy from sleep."
"...Oh… I woke you. My apologies, I didn't take the time into consideration."
"No worries, ducklin'. I told ya to contact me day or night, and I'm not taking that back now." She laughed softly, turning over and unplugging her phone from her charger in a single movement. "So, you found somethin' that could help me?"
"Ah, yes." He seemed to pick up the conversation with gusto now, and her smile grew wider. "I've found a passage on old recollection magic that could shed some light on your memory loss. Mind you, it isn't concrete. There are still some kinks I have to work out of the spell itself, but it does look promising."
"That's lovely ta hear, Doctor," Ciara's heart flipped hopefully in her chest, but she didn't let it color her words. "Shall we set up a time and place to meet, or do ya need more time to figure out the details?"
"I figure I'll have it all memorized by tomorrow. I'd say sooner, but there is a lot of text to sift through and the formula itself is turbulent in practice." Strange admitted. "Just come by tomorrow afternoon and if I'm not ready you can give me your input. Sound good?"
Ciara would have liked nothing more than to happily screech her answer from the tallest rooftops in that moment, but luckily for Strange (and his eardrums) she had some self restraint. Instead she answered calmly, if not a bit teasingly.
"Ya sure my gate-crashing won't be unwelcome this time around, Strange? I'd hate ta startle ya again. Seeing as yer helpin' me and all."
She could hear him chuckling on the other line, and she joined in without prompting.
"Gatecrash away, Ms. Duncan. I'll be prepared this time, so feel free to just walk in."
"And ya won't draw a weapon on meh?"
"No weapons," he promised with another laugh. "Just answers… and perhaps some coffee."
Ciara pushed her ginger locks from her face, her eyes dancing as she gazed up at the ceiling of her hotel room. The Mystic Master truly was something else. It'd only been two weeks since she'd visited him, and he already had something for her. He worked fast and efficiently, she'd give him that.
"Aye love, that suits me jus' fine."
"Glad to hear it," Strange said, and Ciara felt as though he really meant the sentiment. "I'll see you tomorrow then."
"Until tomorrow, Doctor. Thank you fer callin' meh'."
"Sure… And, Ciara." He paused, then added simply before hanging up. "Go right back to sleep. You're going to need your beauty rest."
As the phone call clicked off, Ciara's brow rose in amusement once again. His word choice not lost on her. "... Did the lovable bugger just call me pretteh?..."
"Ah, Miss Duncan, welcome. You're just in time."
"Doctor, good ta see ya."
Ciara beamed up at Strange as he opened the door upon her second knock. Apparently he hadn't forgotten his invitation to her the night before.
As he led her back towards the study were they had spoken during her last visit, Ciara had to force herself not to run down the halls. She was so antsy and excited she could have put her fist through a wall, but she wouldn't ruin the Sanctum's hallways in her passion. She'd just have to wait and try to keep her cool. . . However unlikely that plan was.
As they entered the library-like study, Ciara noticed that a new addition had been made to the decor. In the exact center of the room now rested a love seat with a single pillow on one end. When the woman glanced at the Mystic Master in question, his cheeks colored a bit before he gestured to it.
"The spell I found seems to have a draining effect, so I assumed you'd like to be comfortable during the process."
Ciara shrugged before she walked over and plopped down onto the couch obediently. "Thanks for thinkin' of meh. This'll do nicely."
Strange seemed relieved at her willingness, before he pulled up a chair, so that he sat behind the spot where Ciara's head would be. This was obviously done with purpose, and the woman didn't question it. He'd done the research and hard work, now she would do her part without a fuss.
"Explain it to meh, Strange. So there's no misunderstandin' or disturbance on ma' part. I can be a wee bit finicky when I'm not kept in the loop."
The Mystic Master nodded his understanding before he grew more comfortable in his chair. His posture was straight as an arrow. Ciara wondered if it was from instinct or deliberate thought, though her attention was brought back by his next words.
"The spell I found is an ancient one, but it looks reliable. I read the text cover to cover and as a whole it was pretty straight forward." His blue eyes were warm as he explained, and Ciara's forest green mimicked the action unknowingly. "Once you are ready I will summon the mystic energy needed and I will access your mind. From there I will make contact with your soul- or astral self- to try and regain the memory you've lost. There's no guarantee it will work, but I figured it was worth a shot."
Ciara nodded before laying back onto the pillow and staring up at the Mystic with an easy grin. "I'm ready whenever you are, Doctor."
Strange hummed in agreement, before he slowly reached out with his hands to place one at either of her temples. As his fingers accidentally brushed against her face, Ciara noticed for the first time that his hands were shaking and marred with scars. He'd been in an accident of some sort, and yet it didn't effect his disposition or powers, something both impressive and touching.
He seemed flustered at his blunder and began to apologize, but Ciara stopped him cold, by reaching up to take his hands into her own. His gaze snapped down to hers at the unexpected contact, and she stroked his knuckles peacefully.
"Thank ya, Stephen," she said quietly, using his name for the first time. "I cannae tell you what this means ta meh."
Strange's expression melted from surprise to an unreadable one, though he squeezed her hand with his own. "I'm glad I can help you, Ciara. . . Though fair warning, it's a painful spell." He paused, regarding her openly. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Pain or no pain, I'm in this all the way." She patted his hands again, before letting them go and lying down flat on the loveseat. "Do your worst. I'm not going anywhere."
"Spoken like a true Scot," Strange said, making her laugh. "Close your eyes."
Ciara obeyed, letting her green orbs fall shut. And then before she could register anything else, the woman was enveloped in blinding white pain.
Red hair… The color of a crimson sunset. Short cropped but still stunning- matching hers in vibrant ginger hues. Her fingers run through the strands as she combs them with her fingers...
A dilapidated building with leaky ceilings and musty floors. Countless miserable faces… all children. So many unloved children...
Two little hands holding onto one-another as tight as they can, and a soft lullaby tinkling between two little voices- one from a boy and the other a girl. A lullaby to pass the long nights and desolate days among the forgotten children. . . .
* O * O * O *
Ciara screamed, violently shifting on the loveseat as her entire body was scalded internally. There was pain… so much pain! And visions that made her very soul weep, as she blindly reached out to them.
"Shush, Ciara," Strange bid her, his hands resting on her temples, as he tried in vain to soothe her. "Just breathe. Look through the pain and tell me what you see. You have to look through and see the memories."
"Orphanage!" Ciara breathed out, as more tremors passed through her body. "A orphanage! So many children… So many lost ones." She cried out more as she reached up to hold Strange's hands again. "Please! I can't see 'em! It's too much!"
Strange pursed his lips together before he made a decision. The Mystic Master focused his third eye and leaned down to rest his forehead against the shuddering woman's. He too closed his eyes and joined his mind with hers.
"I'm here with you, Ciara," he said. "Now help me focus the memories."
Ciara breathed shallowly through the pain and reached out for Strange. When she felt his presence within her mind, she continued onward into the past, letting the images and voices wash over her once again, though this time in stunningly focused detail.
* O * O * O *
"I love ya, Duncan. Ya know that right?" Little Ciara said, kissing the boy on the forehead, which made him rub his face with the back of his sleeve.
"Aye, I know that. Ya never stop tellin' me, Ciara."
"And I never will, ya wee shite." Ciara punched his arm, making him wince, before they both laughed.
"Don't make such a big deal o' it!" Duncan said bashfully. "You're bound ta love meh, being my sissy and all."
"We might be twins, Duncan, but I would love ya even if we weren't." She hugged her brother tight, letting her little fingers twine in his ginger hair that matched her own. "Yer my everythin', now and forever."
"Me too, Ciara," he said, hugging her back. "Now an' forever."
Fresh tears fell down Ciara's cheeks as she watched her younger self embrace her lost twin. A pit formed in her stomach as she mourned his absence and her own lack of memory. She had promised him forever, and now forever was long gone.
"Duncan was never my name… it was ma' brother's," she whispered past the tears. "Oh Duncan…"
Strange opened his eyes briefly, to gaze down at Ciara sympathetically. "Do you want to stop?"
"No," Ciara said. "I need ta know what happened. . . I need ta know how I came ta forget 'em and the rest. . . I need the truth."
Doctor Strange studied the woman for a long moment, before he once more allowed the spell to take over. The pain was instant, but this time Ciara didn't flinch. She needed to know, and the only way to know was to move forward.
* O * O * O *
Ciara sat alone crying, her head buried in her hands. Duncan was gone and she was now alone in the world. . . So alone and so cold. . .
The nineteen year old girl wept freely, as the moon rose high in the heavens, unaware of the being that watched her from the shadows until the ethereal voice interrupted her soft cries.
"Why do you weep, child?"
"Because I have lost everything," Ciara sobbed, not realizing who she addressed. "I cannae go on like this! I wish it would all jus' go away!"
The voice hesitated for a breath, before asking, "I could make you forget, child. I could give you power and purpose; a meaning far greater than yourself. . . . But not without cost."
"I'll give anythin' I have," Ciara gasped. "Just take the pain away. Please."
"Very well," the voice answered. "Then heed me child of earth and man. In the days to come you shall be my warrior, my shield, my pawn upon this plain of existence. My rock and representative in the War for the Infinity Stones. You will consume my power and my reason upon this day; your destiny changed and molded for my purpose. I rebirth you Ciara as a Child of the Morrigan. . . ."
The Morrigan? Surely not the Goddess of War and Destiny? Surely not the eternal Crow herself?
Ciara's misty eyes had gone wide in recognition at the name, but before she could question it, a glowing light had enveloped her and all went dark. Her memories receded into themselves until all that remained was the echo of a children's lullaby and an impression of loneliness.
* O * O * O *
As Ciara and Strange opened their eyes sometime later, both were quiet. There wasn't much to be said after such an unexpected revelation. Instead Ciara merely embraced the Mystic tight as silent tears trickled down her face.
"Thank ya, Doctor. I now know the truth."
When she pulled away there was a new light in her forest green eyes, that made both her and Strange exchange smiles.
"When ya need ma' help, you need but ask. I'll be here for ya day or night. Like you were there fer meh."
"I hear friends do that, from time to time." Strange said calmly, his blue eyes warm despite his obvious fatigue from the spell.
Ciara regarded him before clapping his shoulder affectionately. "Aye, friends indeed... I'll see yeh around, Strange. Ya can count on tha'."
The Mystic Master smiled and dipped his head in a sign of respect as the woman turned and took her leave. Both knowing that it was only a matter of time before she came back.
A/N: So here's the second part~ What do you guys think? Are you enjoying the story? Do you like Ciara and Strange as a duo? I honestly love the idea of an outspoken lady keeping pace with Stephen Strange, but that might just be me. Please drop me a review and let me know what you guys think of the story?
Also, if any of you are interested in Ciara's Bio please private message me. Here original creator RosesHaveThornes has made a pretty extensive biography for her. ^^