Everything is white.
Spider Woman’s face comes into view, looking out into the void, wind blowing back her hair.
“We’re in one of your moments, aren’t we?” she says, taking her mask off.
“Yes,” a voice replies.
“Why do we look solid?”
“Because we are. This place recognises astral forms.”
“Where are we?” Spider Woman asks, removing her mask.
“Amongst the Winds of Wakkum,” Dr Strange replies.
“They are sentient, yet need our bodies to breed, our emotion to interact.”
He cups her chin with his hand.
“Oh,” she says.
“Our mood will dictate their mood. What transpires in their community, what is birthed into it, for decades to come, depends on us.”
He kisses her.
Later, she is lying naked, supported by, covered in, rolling winds. Waking.
“They seem to like the after sex even more,” Jessica says.
“Every mood has its strength,” Strange replies.
He is watching the winds, in the lotus position, naked, hovering two feet higher than her.
“See those winds over there?” he asks, as even more swirl in and around his mouth, gently curling up his nose, rolling into the cup of his ears.
“Like sliding knots?”
“We, and the winds, have birthed them. Atmospheres, gentle kisses, tempests.”
“Wow, full on.”
They say nothing for a while. Jessica gets up, leaning into Strange’s back, one of her hands on his knee.
“Tell me,” he asks her. “Why did you do this?”
“I don’t know. Because I could? To affect the battle somehow?”
“Sex as a weapon?”
“I’m grateful for this… interaction, Jessica. I do not mind.”
“Well, no anyway. Well, yes. A bit. I dunno. It felt right. I’m worried about my friends, though.”
“This moment is timeless, Jessica. No matter how long we stay in it, it will linger forever. Loop for all history. And we shall always return to our bodies not a blink after we left them.”
“I see,” she leans her lips into the back of his head.
“The battle can’t be avoided,” he says. “It does not go by.”
Jessica walks through the void to look at the winds beneath her, weaving into and out of each other. She holds her hand out, so one, thin vertical wind can run through her fingers. It has the slightest texture, on one side, of a never-ending tentacle, little suction cups, mixed with the occasional eye.
“In the battle, in our bodies, I’m inside your spheres, aren’t I?”
“When we get back, we fight?”
“To the death. Come, Jessica. You think you have flown before…”
An enormous wind, shaped, roughly, like a spilling glass of wine, its inside arching, throws Strange into the air.
Just behind him, another wind, shaped like a horse’s main does the same to Jessica.
The winds raise and raise them, to their enormous brothers, throwing them about, passing them to each other on tongues, catching them on thin streams of never-ending fingers, shaping, in their middle, into leaping house-sized water buffalos to ride.
“Such speed…!” Jessica says, in wonder. “I… I’ve got no bearings, but I can feel it…I…”
As fast as she is travelling, Strange rises in front of her, unaffected, other than the ruffle of his hair. She reaches her neck out and they kiss.
“You have not told me everything, though, have you?” Strange says.
She looks at him.
“What spy does?”
“Our moods, I told you, affect what they are, the winds. Our emotions birth what they will be.”
“I…” she says, noticing darker winds rising behind Strange, that have snakes shapes protruding from them. More and more snakeheads roll from the jet streams, darker, and darker in tone.
A black snakehead-shaped cloud as big as a giant wave opens its mouth wide, consuming Strange.
“Whu…?” says Jessica.
She fires at it, but her venom passes through.
Dr Strange then appears in a ball of light that is dissipating the snakehead. Jessica huddles into him, looking over her shoulder as the winds turn bad.
“Tell me, Jessica,” Strange says.
She looks, pleadingly, into his eyes.
Winds buffer Strange’s dome, knocking them about.
“I…” she says.
The winds begin to roar. Her hair is blowing sideways, even through the dome, she has to shout to be heard.
“I WAS ABUSED! OKAY? YOU HAPPY!? GROWING UP, WITH HYDRA! TRAINED IN ‘THE ART OF SEDUCTION’ HOW COULD I NOT BE?”
“SEXUALLY? WHY HAVE YOU NOT TOLD ANYONE?”
“WHY THE HELL SHOULD I? IT’S MY FIGHT!”
The wind dies off. Strange talks.
“Because you are a hero.”
The winds die off further, rolling blacks shift to greys. Jessica looks hard at him.
“A hero who lives in shadows,” she says.
“Who used to. You’re an Avenger, now, Jessica. What would be more heroic than putting your soul out there for all to see? Showing someone as mighty as you has survived such stuff. That you refuse to be a victim. That you’ve thrived?”
“Not… not on the inside.”
“Yet here we are…” he softly whispers.
Head lowered, lost behind her hair, Jessica Drew cries. Not a lot, just lets the tears roll.
Strange catches one on his finger, watching as it slides onto the next.
He has had so much sex simply because he has lived so long. It is all the same to him. A tool of trade, hollow. But, within this intimacy, with this fascinating woman who thinks herself plain, this strong woman who thinks herself weak, the tenderness of the moment, the rawness of her emotion, burns deep into his soul like the sweetest of scars.
She has given him something so sublime he can never repay.
Strange leans in, stops. She reaches, slowly, the rest of the way, for their first real kiss - tender, full of hurt and healing. Their last kiss.
She makes motions for sex.
“Are you sure…?” he holds her hands.
“I’m sure…” she works her way past them.
Time passes without going anywhere, the winds swirl.
“Has telling someone helped?” Strange asks.
“Yes,” she says. “Very.”
“Come, look at this…” he says, rising.
Winds shaped like clouds part. In their centre, above him, a lot of winds have banded into one, forming a heart some 300ft high, its arteries made from jet-streams, connecting it to the shifting clouds.
“It… it’s beautiful…” Jessica says.
“Their gift to you.”
“Their gift and thanks. They have been in your lungs, your veins... It is your heart.”
Strange knows that in a world of winds, nothing lingers, nothing lasts, but knows, too, somehow this will. The heart will be a uniting purpose that will bind the creatures, give them a centre to push against. It will be a chalice, to pick up, then hand on, to take turns at maintaining, interacting with each other to make it possible, as they pass through.
It is not just art. In giving of her soul, Jessica has given the winds some of their own. From here, anything is possible.
Strange doesn’t bother telling her such stuff. Jessica can feel it, as sure as he does.
She watches him watching the heart.
“Have you just used me, Stephen…?” Jessica asks.
“A little… and not at all.”
She takes his answer in.
“You’re weird,” she smiles.
Light comes from Dr Strange’s fingers. Cute little transparent gargoyles and cherubs lift his and Spider Woman’s costumes.
“Stephen? This moment, was it worth it?” she asks.
He turns to look at her. She is dressed, but for her mask.
“Oh…” he says. “Oh, yes, Jessica. Oh, it has saved me! You have saved me. I am ready now.”
He lowers to his knees, then lowers again, head bowed to the ground at her feet, arms submissive and wide.
“Um, one last thing?” Spider Woman asks. “You said this moment will loop. You should have told me.”
“Jessica, with all my power I still don’t know if there is a God or not. Such is faith. I hope so. But I do know that time is not linear, it is a pulse. All of existence happening in the blink of an eye. Everything you do, repeated, in some part of reality, for eternity. Relived, again and again.”
“I don’t get it?”
“Have you not had a moment, in your life, on a dance floor, in love, in pain, unable to sleep, or even simply needing to go to the toilet, that you thought would last forever? Well, somewhere in time it did, and you are still there.”
“But, I don’t want that! So many of those moments have been hell!”
“Then move out from your past. Keep doing good in this life,” he kisses her feet gently. “Revel in existence. You are so mighty, Jessica Drew! Be glad to be alive.”
Then, they fade, and the Winds of Wakkum, left alone, howl and mourn.