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John swallowed, attempting to keep from coughing. When his throat became dry coughing would ensue and his throat always got dry when he was nervous. Today he would be tested to see if he could come back from wherever Strange stranded him. He'll probably send me to Iceland. Maybe I shouldn't have been such a smart ass.

Master Strange clapped his hands and class began. John attempted to keep his mind on the techniques, but he kept getting distracted by his own thoughts of being dumped in the middle of god knew where—the frozen tundra, a volcano, the middle of the ocean. Though he went through the defensive movements with his partner, his mind wandered until he felt a sharp slap on the side of his face. Outraged he whirled around. "What the fuck?"

"Keep your head in the game, Watson," Strange bellowed, "and no swearing during training."

John nodded, then mumbled, "Yes, Master Strange." You piece of shit mother-fucker.

Strange came to his side, whispering in his ear. "That wasn't very nice."

Forgetting protocol, John's mouth flew open. "You can read minds?"

Strange let him squirm, then smiled. "No, but what would I find in the darkest reaches of your mind, John Watson?"

John flinched when Strange reached out and lightly touched his forehead. "I would never hurt you, John." Then he clapped his hands again. "Class, we are now going to practice getting out of a hold when some opponent grabs from behind. John, come up in front of the class with me."

John could feel his heart rate spike. Rat bastard, he knows I hate being watched. He then took a deep breath and with a slight limp came forward, standing in front of Strange.

Strange smiled. "I'm going to grab John and it is a surprise attack."

John licked his lips, waiting for Strange to grab him. What's taking so long? Is he checking out my ass or what? When he finally attacked, it took John' breath away. Well, nice to know he's not holding back. Before he could recover his balance, Strange strengthened his hold, until there wasn't a sliver of daylight between them. He then pushed his whiskered cheek against John's, whispering in his ear. "Come on, dammit, you have three seconds before I choke you out."

John willed himself to relax, fighting the panic that rose in his chest. In vain he attempted to sweep Strange's feet out from underneath him. Slipping on a patch of gravel, he went down. Strange was on him in an instant, not letting up. When he felt Strange's hand rub along his throat, he knew he was going for a choke hold. Don't fight it, relax. He then let his body go limp. Strange's body sank deeper into his own, groin to groin, molding into his own.

Strange's eyes widened and he gasped, relaxing his hold. John shifted his hips, then kneed Strange in the gonads. He smiled in triumph, until he observed Strange in the fetal position, pale and gasping for air. Shit. Then the Doctor in him took over. "Strange, oh god I'm sorry. Why weren't you wearing a cup?"

Tears streamed from Strange's eyes and he shook his head. Another teacher rushed forward, and began to teach the class, while John looked down. He knew that he should return to class as well but he insisted on staying by Strange's side. "I'm a Doctor. I need to make sure he's okay."

Strange lay there clenching his teeth, then when he was able, got to all fours and stood up. John steadied him. "I'm really sorry, Strange."

Strange's eyes had an odd look in them. "It was my own fault. I said I wouldn't hurt you. I never said you wouldn't hurt me. Go back to class, John. I will be there in a moment."

Strange stood off to the side, seething, not because John had gotten the better of him. It was how he did it. The way he moved his hips, trapping their groins together in an arousing mesh of flesh. It was confusing and frightening. Though he knew that he shouldn't test John while he harbored such anger, he walked to the front of the class with an aura of calm.

"Well, let this be a lesson to all of you. Even a Master Supreme needs to wear a cup when training." The rest of the class laughed, then he beckoned to John. "John Watson, please come here. Are you ready for your test?"

John looked into Strange's eyes. God, I am so screwed. He's still pissed. Then Strange moved his arms and they both disappeared into a vortex of light, that deposited them into the desert.

John glanced around him. "You're stranding me in the desert?"

Strange smiled. "Have fun, Doctor, but that's your game, isn't it? You should be used to the desert." Then he left John alone, fighting off the needles of guilt that pricked at his conscience.

The desert. He left me in the desert and not just any desert. I'm in Afghanistan. I know it. John rose his hands up in a circle, knowing that the small bit of light that emerged wasn't enough to get him home.

Strange dismissed the class and waited for John's return. He paced a few moments, then went to the library. Wong looked up when he entered. "So, how did Watson do?"

"He's still out there." Strange then began to look through stacks of books.

"How long has he been out there?"

Strange looked over at Wong. "Not long enough to be concerned, yet."

John sat down in the sand, willing himself to relax. He moved his hands, then sighed when a few sparks popped back at him. Shit, I'm going to die out here. A small beetle crawled along the dunes and he watched its progress with interest. Then it stopped, losing its balance and John looked up. Oh Christ, it's a sand storm. I'm fucked. Taking his shirt off, he wrapped it around his head, covering his ears, nose and mouth.

Strange no longer made a pretense of being worried. He was.

"So, are you going in to get him?" Wong asked.

"I can't, it will undermine his training. If I go in, he must bring us both back or he will fail." Strange glanced at the book in his hands, then handed it to Wong.

"What if he's dead?"

Strange glanced at Wong in irritation. "Thanks for the encouragement."

Wong shrugged. "I'm just saying, students have died before during the sling ring test."

"Well, John Watson isn't, not on my watch." Then Strange made his portal and was gone.

John sat hunched over, knowing that if the storm worsened he wouldn't be able to breathe.

"John? John?" He turned around to see Strange standing beside him fighting against the wind. "You'll have to bring us both back."

"I can't."

"Yes, you can," then Strange threw his sling ring into the howling wind.

"What did you do that for, dumb ass?"

Strange opened his mouth to reply, just as a gust of sand blew in. He sputtered, then looked down at his belt for the dagger within its folds to cut a strip of his uniform off to cover his face. He pulled the material taut, then gasped when his hands shook causing the blade to slice into trembling fingers.

John looked over to see blood pouring down Strange's arm. Jesus, what's he done now? He ran over gathered Strange in his arms and faced down the storm in defiance.  

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