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The Hands Dealt (Doctor Strange ficlet)


VoOs

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Just a short post-accident caretaking scene between Christine and Stephen. 

 

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And then, conforming to Murphy’s Law, he gets sick. Miserably sick. Upper and lower respiratory tract infection, fever, the works. The coughing makes him wince and grit his teeth against the pain as the phlegmy convulsions wrack through his broken body, and yet it’s clear to Christine that even with this added discomfort on top of aching bone fractures and severed nerves, his wounded pride is still what’s hurting him the most.

As further salt in the wound, another pressing problem soon presents itself in the form of a relentlessly runny nose. With his shattered hands still in plaster casts he’s obviously unable to hold a tissue, let alone maneuver it to blow his nose or to catch his increasingly frequent sneezes.

Initially he adamantly refuses to let her help him. She’s not surprised in the least, and to some degree she can understand it, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to let him drown in his own fluids rather than swallow the temporary humiliation of having her or one of the nurses wipe his nose for him.

It’s a battle of wills, but she has the high ground. Though her advantage offers her no satisfaction whatsoever.

“So now you want to take away what little dignity I have left, is that it?” The broken growl of his voice is barely intelligible at this point, and his acidic glare from across the hospital bed is undercut by the bloodshot swelling of his eyes and their sheen of fever glaze.

A sickly concoction of pity and anger rises in her throat but she forces it back down, down. Runs her right thumb over the nails on her left hand, over the chipping, dark blue polish before responding:  

“You think this is dignified, do you? Can you even hear yourself? You sound like a clogged drainpipe.”

He sniffles for what is probably the tenth time in the last minute, unwillingly illustrating her point.

“Stephen, come on…”, gently, even as her patience is wearing thinner by the second.

“I'mb doh’t – hh…!”

And there it is. It was only a matter of time. His eyebrows rising in a ticklish slant, his eyes slamming closed, his beleaguered nostrils flaring wide for an agonizingly outdrawn, three-part inhale - “hehh'heh'hh-!” - and judging by the rather… productive sound of his sniffles earlier, she thinks it’s safe to assume that things are about to get ugly.

To hell with it. To hell with his pride. She’s taking matters into her own hands. In one, decisive motion she gets up, pulls a handful of Kleenex from the box on his bed stand and cups them over the lower half of his face, meeting his forward-downward lurch with a soft, steady pressure.

ehh–NZHGHhihh!”

She can feel the layers of Kleenex between his nose and her palm bellying out with the blast of his hot breath; only a second later he’s sighing and hitching his way toward a follow-up. She gently pinches her fingers around the quivering outline of his nostrils and waits, encouragingly meeting his gaze when his eyes open just a fraction before fluttering shut once more.

I'mb… heh'uhh… agai’d-hh…!“

“It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

“-heh’HNGZSSHh!”

“Bless you.”

“…’nNGXSH!”

“…and bless you.”

Finally, the tension seems to drain from his body and he falls back against the pillows with a raspy groan and the wettest of sniffles, the sound of the latter convincing Christine that she made the right call when she decided to go rogue with the Kleenex.

“Don’t… don’t remove your hand,” he says, defeated, and she can’t tell if the flush rising in his cheeks is from fever or chagrin.

“Alright. Blow, then” she instructs, and he seems to deflate like a punctured tire. “Go on. I promise you, the alternative is much more… undignified.”

He must have come to the same conclusion himself because he finally does as he’s told, soaking through another two handfuls of tissues before his sinuses sound tolerably cleared out.

Folding the last wad of Kleenex in half, Christine carefully wipes around the rims of his now reddened nostrils, making sure he’s presentable before reaching over and lobbing the spent tissue ball into the nearest bin.

Turning back to her bedridden ex, she risks a smile:

“Look at the bright side. At least Nic wasn’t here to witness that.”

At the mention of Dr West, Stephen’s expression hardens, he draws a breath as if to speak but she’s having none of it.

“Did I say Nic? Sorry, my bad, I meant: He Who Must Not Be Named. Seriously, Stephen, can we not do this now? You can blame Nic for everything later, if that’s what you need, but for now… just focus on getting better? On beating this cold, for starters? Please?”

His pale gray eyes in the sterile hospital light, unmoving, turned inward, and she knows she’s not getting through.

Small steps, she reminds herself.

“My shift starts in twenty minutes. Do you need anything else before I leave?”

“No.” And then, a glimmer of something; the man actually has the sense to look a little guilty.

“Thank you”, a barely audible mutter, but she’ll take it.

“Feel better, Stephen. See you tomorrow.”

 

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Saw the movie on Friday and definitely thought of a few scenes that were perfect for a fic.  I kept hoping someone would write something.  Thanks for doing so.  I'm in love with it. You definitely have Stephen down.

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The incoherent sound I made when I saw this! :wub: So so lovely, I adore Stephen’s initial stiffness and wounded pride, the battle of wills and then Christine’s gentle decisiveness… :3

1 hour ago, VoOs said:

“It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

Also, my heart :cryhappy:

1 hour ago, VoOs said:

“Did I say Nic? Sorry, my bad, I meant: He Who Must Not Be Named.

Welp :lol: 

1 hour ago, VoOs said:

“Thank you”, a barely audible mutter, but she’ll take it.

No, really, no.. :blush::heart: 

 

Thank you so much for writing and posting this, it was so wonderful! <3

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I've just seen the movie this afternoon and your fic is... well... astounding. It fits perfectly the movie and the characters. Thank you for sharing and feel free to post other missing scenes if you have the time and wish!!!

22 hours ago, VoOs said:

“Did I say Nic? Sorry, my bad, I meant: He Who Must Not Be Named.

This was priceless...:D

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Omg yes yes yes. Stephen strange! Stephen strange! :wub:

This movie has like risen to top faves for me , I freaking loved it. And I am so glad you made this because I was dying for it. And you did an amazing job. Your wording is so pleasant. The firm tenderness of Christine, the helpless wounded pride of Stephen. It's too good. Cries for him though:(((  I feel like their is so much care taking potential to write about with him. Ugh. So dreamy. Also I think the sneezes were perf. Loved it. 10/10 u rock. Ima chill now. Lol. :')))

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Thank you all so, so much. <3 There was just so much fic potential in that movie (and in the DS comics in general, really), I'm definitely tempted to tackle a few other scenarios in the future. Something including the Cloak of Levitation, preferably.

Oh, and if anyone's interested: a drawing also happened. (not related to this particular fic, buuuut... still?)

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/14/2016 at 4:00 PM, VoOs said:

Thank you all so, so much. <3 There was just so much fic potential in that movie (and in the DS comics in general, really), I'm definitely tempted to tackle a few other scenarios in the future. Something including the Cloak of Levitation, preferably.

I can't tell you how many times I've read your short fic.  I do hope you will write some more.  And I wouldn't mind something with the Cloak. :wub:

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