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I'm Going To Watch You Shine

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“You know you’re a bit of a smartass,”

“Me? Have you even met yourself-oh wait you have!” America practically guffaws at him, giving a quick nod of thanks to the waiter bringing her a side of ranch for her pizza.

“Don’t talk with food in your mouth,” Strange admonishes having to remind himself America had practically raised herself and her manners came few and far between:

“And yes I have met myself. But let's not forget your own words, I’m different from the rest,”

“And yet you being a smartass remains a constant. At least the other you could speak Spanish,” America says this without looking up.

Her full attention on dipping her pizza in an abundant amount of ranch before she folds the hanging bits of cheese back onto the slice and digs into her delicacy.

“Are we still on about the spanish?” He has to ask, still feeling the slightest tinges of embarrassment that came with the topic.

“Dude, you have like some crazy sort of memory. You translated an entire book you were reading the other day with another book, and you don’t know spanish?” She continues, something coming to mind:

“Weren’t you a doctor? How’d you talk to patients and families?” America points out, physically pointing her pizza at him as if the greasy treat would force him to answer.

“I am a doctor,” he corrects, still keeping up with new and improved medical journals, “And there’s interns for that. At least I have an excuse, what’s yours?”

“Is being a nexus being that was being hunted by one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse not an excuse?” Internally he tries not to cringe at how easy-going she was with that statement. 

He’d learned very quickly she joked to cope with a lot of things, but it never failed to take him off guard when she did so.

“A smartass wouldn’t be buying you pizza,” He says, turning the attention away from that morbid topic, and himself because he actually didn’t have any more rebuttals as to why he wasn’t the smartass he knew himself to be.

“Only a smartass would point out they bought me pizza,” America snarks right back, able to keep up with him in a way most people couldn’t. 

Another testament as to why she’d become his ward in this vast multiverse.

“So what I’m hearing is next time you ask don’t buy you pizza,” he threatens the thing she loves most, his tone entirely joking if not a little hard to keep up the appearance of their banter. 

The both of them knowing full well he would buy her pizza anytime she asked.

“So what I’m hearing is you don’t want to admit you're a smart ass?” 

“All I’m saying kid is that there’s better things to eat than pizza. Healthier things too,” He plays the part of a concerned doctor well, it’d been his job after all.

Anyone else would call it chiding, it likely was since the matters of feelings were a war he never fought head on, but America saw beneath all that to where those emotions were residing.

“Okay dad,” She drags the words out in the same way an actor would in a bad play but she’s laughing. 

Strange thinks that and that blessed word have ingrained themselves into his mind.

The referral feeling oddly right.

“Next time when you pick some fancy restaurant I’m going to embarrass you by ordering the chicken tenders,” 

He knows now she says it in jest, but he’s willing to bet she actually would if given the chance, and the grin that thought brings him he cannot hide.

“Well that is the kids menu,” He returns, feeling as his smile turned smug at his admittedly perfect retort.

The girl practically squawks, going a bit red in the face, with no other response than what they both knew to be a given fact:

“You smartass!”


“It was one time! I had to pull you back when you did the same thing,” America argues entirely petulantly, stomping her feet in a way that proves just how young she is, especially in his eyes. 

“It was not one time America, and it’s not standard for red to mean go. This is the third time I’ve had to stop you from walking in the path of a moving vehicle,” Strange returns right back with a sigh. 

Nearly seeing her get hit by a disgruntled taxi driver, a lane splitting motorcycle, and some assholes Ferrari all in the span of one day trip had shed his lifespan a couple years. 

Needless to say he had some obvious trauma about the danger of automobiles, and he did not want her in any way to be on the receiving end of their or their driver's wrath.

“It’s New York! It’s not like you guys exactly adhere to traffic laws. If I jaywalk ten other people are doing it with me,” 

Strange will argue wholeheartedly she’s not a stupid girl, but those words show clear as day to him an ignorance only children have.

An ignorance she hadn’t had before because she couldn’t, having needed to stay on her toes to survive. 

He doesn’t understand why it’s suddenly flared up now, perhaps because her newfound stability made her feel safe?

Or because she was simply experiencing that level of angst that came with being a young teen?

Who was he to say he understood children? Especially traumatized multiverse hopping ones?

“That’s far from the argument you think it is,” His posture changes in the same way hers does now, instead of shrinking away like she sometimes does to his authority, she rises. 

Sizes him up. If he’s honest he’s reminded of the first time he met Tony Stark, in fact he’s sure he’s using the same tone he did then too.

“Can’t hit all of us,” Her nonchalance is joking and entirely too serious. The contradiction shouldn’t be possible, but she makes it happen. 

America makes a lot of impossible things happen, and his temples throb because of it.

A headache forming, his hair surely going more gray.

“America-” 

“You’re seriously grounding me for this?” Any trace of her former sarcasm is gone, instead there’s an almost violent indignation that keeps him stock still. 

America mirroring it on a dime before her upset had her shoulders faltering. 

A just barely there sign that she wasn’t sure if she should continue to push even if another part of her desperately wanted to. 

He takes it as a sign to continue, that maybe she accepted the circumstances even if she wasn't fond of them.

He wasn’t a parent, but even he knew punishment meant nothing to someone if they didn’t understand why they were receiving it.

“Until I’m sure you won't walk right into traffic, yes. And considering you just said you’d do it on purpose. Yeah kid, I’m grounding you,” 

“You can’t ground me!” 

“Ah yeah, I think I can kid,” His head tips up with a disbelieving smile on his lips at her audacity, yeah she was fighting back. 

Maybe his tone hadn’t needed to be so condescending when he pointed out she’d just admitted to willingly walking into harm's way. But she had to hear how ridiculous she sounded, didn’t she?

“Who do you think you are? My dad?” The words come out in a way he can only describe as mean. Maybe because the shere hurt and bewilderment they leave him with is heart stopping. 

They shouldn’t affect him as they do, they shouldn't affect her as they do. 

But he can tell by the regret that immediately paints her face and her entirely slumped posture, that can almost be considered a cower, it does.

Instinctually he slumps with her, feeling wrong even when he knows he’s right. Wanting to apologize when it’s him who she’d effectively harmed, but she needs to understand. 

“No,” it’s a lie if he’s ever heard one, but he doesn’t let his voice falter when he says it because she has parents. She is not his kid even if she is his ward and responsibility now. 

It doesn’t matter that he cares, or it does matter. Maybe it matters all too much that he does care when her already short stature shrinks in his presence.

“It doesn’t matter kid, you’re grounded. Deal with it,”

America returns to her room without another word. He supposes that’s for the best as he holds her sling ring in his scarred hand, having confiscated it just in case. 

Strange knows by morning it will be sitting there waiting for her on her nightstand. He also knows she won’t use it.


“Dad,” The word presses into the side of his throat as he inspects her injuries, it hooking into his heart as her blood coats his hands. 

Things had been so quiet as of late, he should have expected something to happen, that one of the Scarlet Witch’s monsters were just extremely late to the party.

“I know, I’m here. I’m not going anywhere,” He assures, trying to look away from her bent arm, as his throat dried, all its moisture seemingly moving up to his eyes.

“My head,” She complains, not that he can blame her. Blood coated her hair, practically gushing. Head wounds demanded to be heard with the sheer amount of blood they let off even for the smallest of wounds.

“It’s the concussion, I need you to stay awake,” He explains hastily, getting to his feet with her held protectively in his arms. 

Holding a child is a whole new experience he doesn't want to think about, especially when the cause in this scenario was so morbid.

“I’m cold,” she chatters out against his throat, practically shivering. 

Instinctually his head tilts in command, his cheek brushing against the cloak of levitations lapel all it needed to start moving to cover her.

“If I give you my cloak can you promise me something?” He asks, needing to keep her up and aware. 

His ultimatum was untruthful because his cloak was going to be around her whether or not she kept her promise.

“Was’hat?” He isn’t certain if she’s asking what he’d said or what he was asking her to promise so in case it’s not the far more important matter of staying awake he reiterates.

“You promise to stay awake for me okay? We have to get you to Christine,”

“Christine?” He can physically feel her brow raise in question, he’d be endeared if he wasn’t so afraid he was about to lose her.

“Yes Christine, she’s going to help you feel better,” He assures, breath caught in his throat as he adjusts her accordingly so he could portal them to the hospital.

“You do that,” Comes out solemnly with a startling amount of clarity. 

This his self-deprecating mind misunderstands, hearing that she wanted him to help her, and he just couldn’t do that. Not anymore, not with his hands the way they were.

“I wish I could, that’s why we have to get you to Christine,”

“You make me feel better,” America sniffles with all the honesty in the universe, her tears dampening his collar.

He’s forced to swallow the lump that forms in his throat, several of his own tears slipping now, she made him feel better too and now she was suffering.

“You make me better-no no no, America stay awake,” He urges when her head lolls a bit more heavily on him. His hands tremble, barely able to make a spark in his panic.

“But-”

“No buts, you promised you’d stay awake,” He doesn’t mean to be stern, not because it hurts as his teeth clack together, but if she sleeps she could very well die.

“I did? Okay,” She murmurs softly, having roused up in the slightest at the alertness in his tone and the rumble of his chest. It’s all he needs to startle his concentration back into working order.

The portal opens and he doesn’t hesitate to call out:

“Palmer?” It feels wrong that he doesn’t even know if she goes by her own last name anymore now that she’s married.

“Down the hall,” a very startled nurse instructs, and he changes tactics:

“Christine!”

“Stephen-Oh, this way now. You can put her there,” The woman jumps from where she was rounding the corner, immediately leading him into an empty room.

“She’s concussed, there’s trauma to her left side and her right arm is broken,” Strange lists off. 

“Is she allergic to anything?” 

“No,” He’s certain of that, the other Christine had helped a lot in that department.

“Okay, I’m going to set her arm you’re going to have to hold her still,” Christine instructed, knowing it was either drug the girl so they could do it later - which wasn’t going to work well with her concussion - or get it over with.

“What?” Stephen asks, attention having been diverted to wiping the blood off the girls face with a spare rag.

“Stephen hold her still,” Chrisine repeats, and things go on from there. A complete blur in his mind, as he washes, puts on scrubs, and lets Christine get to work.

“Who is she?” Christine asks after all is said and done, a comforting hand on his shoulder as Stephen holds America’s good hand in both of his own.

“My-my student,” something else entirely almost comes out.

“Do her parents know-” 

The former sorcerer supreme is shaking his head before the question is even fully out of her mouth, the look in his eyes telling enough. 

He really didn’t know if America’s parents were dead, but at the moment they were lost, and he couldn’t account for anything beyond that.

“How long has-”

“Your wedding, that monster was after her. She’s been in my care ever since,” He answers easily enough.

“What happened?” Whether or not she means how she got these injuries, or what had happened with the tentacle monster to bring her into his care, he doesn't know so he goes with the most relevant option.

“Another one of those things came back. I know you’re wondering why me. She has powers, powers that can be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands…”

He trails off, never able to lie to Christine even if she wasn’t his - she never would be - and nearly explains how he doesn’t know if he’s the right hands either.

“She’s lucky to have you,” Christine assures, reading his thoughts in a way only she could.

“I couldn’t prevent this-” He starts.

“But you're here, and that’s all that matters,” Christine assures, giving his shoulder a squeeze to hammer it home, and of course he believes her.


“Why won’t you wake up?” America cries, hands shaking the unconscious man’s shoulders. 

Her free hand moving to lightly tap at his cheeks in the hopes it’d spur him into action.

“Stephen, Stephen please,” the teenager begs, bad arm twitching in its sling. Her recovery still in order.

“They’re still here, they’re still after us. Come on we have to go,” She urges, hearing movement in the adjacent halls, the thuds telling her it wasn’t the kind sorcerers she knew. And if it was they were fighting.

“Levi, wake him up,” America ordered on her last leg, knees pressing hard into the floor below her as her head fell onto his chest. Heart still thankfully beating proudly as the cloak brushed at his features.

“Damnit,” She cried helplessly, tears slipping and soaking his tunic, “Please. Dad, I need you. I can’t fight them alone, I can’t get us out of here,” her sling ring was useless with her hand out of commission.

Well, no, she guesses it wasn’t. The sorcerer who had helped her from Wanda didn’t even have a hand so why couldn’t she do this?

Why couldn’t her spells just be a bit more reliable? Getting lost in her frustration, America misses when he actually wakes.

“America?” His voice is weary, it gaining strength near the end as he noticed her tears. A protective drive immediately kicking him into high gear.

“Yes, yes. Stephen get up. We have to go now,” 

Strange follows without complaint, getting to his feet and carefully pulling her up with him before portalling them out of Kamar-Taj - where they’d just finished having tea with Wong - to the Sanctum Sanctorum.

“Lock down the sanctum,” he tells the nearest sorcerer, his hand moving to the back of her neck in a paternal gesture as he led her down the halls.

“Who are they? And what are the weird symbols on their foreheads?” She has to ask, only having gotten glimpses of their assailants and their melting eyes.

“Zealots,” He replies casually, something else obviously on his mind. Likely a plan of attack.

“I don’t even know what that means,” America is forced to respond, really having no clue.

“Just,” Stephen sighs, not annoyed with her but rather the situation and stops her in front of the two of their rooms, “Please kid. Stay in your room or even mine,”

“But you were just passed out! It’s not safe for you on your own,” America protests.

“It happens and I won’t be on my own,” He assures, knowing he had plenty of other sorcerers on his side. He couldn’t risk her recovery with her trying to help him now when he could handle it.

“For a head doctor you don’t seem too concerned with that statement,” 

“America,” There’s a long pause after he says her name, knowing she’s right and understanding her need to be on his side because he had the same need in wanting her there, “Please,”

She isn’t happy about it, he sees that with how her face falls and her chest heaves before she throws herself into his arms and squeezes him tight with a simple instruction:

“Be careful,”


The spell the zealots cast is powerful, a mind-altering spell that could last centuries if the trigger wasn’t found or if the affected couldn’t break through it. 

Casting it on a self-deprecating man such as Doctor Strange is plenty effective.

Wong knows this as he effectively obliterates the foes. A dead man’s spell still unbroken as he’s forced to contend with his friend.

Strange’s eyes hold a hye of purple mist, the only physical marker of a malice filled possession that marked him as an enemy.

Wong refuses to kill his friend, so when he calls to his sorcerers the command is to contain. To get the sling-ring off his fingers and lock him up until they could find what would break the spell.

It’s a struggle. One that lasts far too long before they get the man contained by rune like spells and enchantments, but he’s effectively stopped. Unable to cause any harm.

“C’mon Strange, fight it,” Wong requests, watching as the possessed man paced back and forth behind the glass, clearly irritated. Piercing eyes look for any fault with their capture and seem to find none.

An idea comes to mind, one that Wong hopes he won’t regret but something in him knows he has to try it. If there's a chance at anything giving Strange the willpower to come back to himself, it's America Chavez.

Fetching the girl from Strange’s room, America takes in the information with wide eyes.

Practically running past him in her haste to get to Strange. He follows at a much slower pace, the situation feeling all too personal for him to intrude on fully.

Especially when he reaches the doorway and sees her hands pressed to the enchanted glass and Strange still pacing, not even sparing her a glance. 

“Stephen? I told you, you shouldn’t have fought them alone,”

A raised brow is sent her way but easily dismissed, his pacing then continued. 

The slight acknowledgement is enough for America to curl her fingers against the glass, forehead tapping it as she frowned.

Brows pinching in thought and enlightenment comes to her by a simple word that sat heavy on her tongue always:

“Dad,” the mist around his eyes disappears.

“I don’t understand sir,” A fellow sorcerer admits after the fact, looking to Wong for answers as they watch Strange back to himself again be doted on by Miss America Chavez.

“Progeny is a powerful force, far more than any spell,” Wong elabores, watching fondly as America played doctor on the great Stephen Strange, administering butterfly bandages to his cut temple.


“Not like your dad doesn’t have it handled,” Clint Barton, Hawkeye, passes off. 

His attention on splitting up the arrows in his quiver, apparently to hand off to the other Hawkeye. 

America feels her heart jump at the referral.

Merely nodding in response, not having noticed Strange himself had walked up then.

Apparently having heard the exchange but saying nothing to dispute it. He doesn’t even seem perturbed, as if he hadn’t minded in the slightest.

America isn’t embarrassed to admit, she doesn’t mind it either. Not at all as she leans into his side, him accepting her presence with an arm around her shoulders. 

“It’s already been dealt with, now can you tell your ward I don’t do autographs,” footsteps follow his words and the new Hawkeye Kate Bishop immediately looks crestfallen. 

At this America sends her father a pointed glance, and in acquiesces and a roll of his eyes he signs his name on a napkin with a sloppy scrawl that Kate looks nothing less than pleased about.

The young woman immediately gushes to the older archer in excitement.

“Your dad’s awesome,” Kate tells her later and America is quick to respond:

“Yours is pretty cool too,”

The two veterans of Thanos overhear the conversation with awkward smiles lighting their faces.

“I bet no one ever told you this job seems to come with adopting kids,” Clint grins, adjusting the strap of his quiver on his shoulder, and holding his hand out for the sorcerer to shake since they’d been brothers in arms again today.

Stephen takes it easily, “No, no they did not.”

“A daughter certainly changes things, I know that for certain,” Clint pulls away, and spares another glance at Kate now introducing America to Lucky.

“That it does,” Stephen agreed, giving the girls a minute more before sending them home.