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I can't believe I actually wrote Phantom Stranger/Dr. Thirteen crack.  Elle?  Choir?  I BLAME YOU FOR MAKING THIS HAPPEN.

Dr. Thirteen detests the Phantom Stranger.

That shyster, constantly popping up out of nowhere, always wearing that silly cape and medallion like those sleight-of-hand magicians at children's birthdays--of which he's hardly a step above.  Dr. Thirteen knows that the Stranger has legs, and he knows the man can use them, but the way the spook acts, you'd think he couldn't walk through a door without pulling a dramatic exit/entrance.

Pfah.  Dramatic entrance!  More like a vanishing act, emphasis on the "act." Dr. Thirteen suspects that the Phantom Stranger does it purely to annoy him and dangle fake "supernatural forces" in his face.  The constant refusal to walk like a normal human being certainly can't be blamed on weak lungs, the way he pontificates on and on about "portents of doom" this and "sinister doings" that.

Not that Dr. Thirteen actually thinks the Phantom Stranger can appear or disappear.  That's ignorant fiddle-faddle.  The Phantom Stranger may be mysterious, yes, a walking, talking, engmatic pain in the neck, but his existence is no more mystical than Dr. Thirteen's is.  There's an explanation for everything.

And Dr. Thirteen has the Phantom Stranger's number.  He knows what the man's about.  The Phantom Stranger is an actor.  Some cracked C-movie actor who inherited a pile of money, because how else could the man travel as much as he did?  When science failed, he must have taken to the occult to soothe his crippling psychological problems, as so many did.  And when Dr. Thirteen, Ghostbreaker, started barging in on those comforting delusions, threatening the Phantom Stranger's mental comfort, an obsessive bond was formed.  Logical.  Inarguable.

Obnoxious.  He now has his own personal Shakespearean stalker.  Who can't move five feet without pitching down a smoke bomb and sneaking away.  Who can't utter a single sentence without tossing a couple Gothic adjectives like "Stygian" or "lugubrious" into it.  Who sticks to Dr. Thirteen like glue, whether he be in New York City, the Arctic, or Haiti.

Awful as it is, Dr. Thirteen wishes his wife were as devoted as the Phantom Stranger seemed to be.  Though then again, if Maria were as demented as the Phantom Stranger proved to be, he probably wouldn't be able to stand her.  It would be terrible to lose that equilibrium with her.  They get along so well; they know each other's habits.  They never fight.

They don't do much of anything really, not anymore.  They go on cases.  Maria sighs.  He suspects she's tired of his work, that she doesn't take it as seriously as he does.  It would be nice not to feel guilty about dragging her across the world, but his work is the only thing that gets his blood up anymore.  Without it, he'd surely go insane.  The Phantom Stranger, at least, seems to understand that passion, even if he comes from the opposite direction.  The Phantom Stranger, at least, follows him out of free will, even irrational.

That doesn't make him any less obnoxious.  The Phantom Stranger calls him TERRY, for crying out loud.  Not even Dr. Thirteen's father--not even his WIFE--calls him that.  Not anymore.  She used to.  Which is why it enrages him even more when the Phantom Stranger uses the name, pretending such intimacy, being so condescending, so KNOWING...

For being a crazy old actor with delusions, the Phantom Stranger is observant, Dr. Thirteen has to give him that.  Observant and resourceful.  He hates the Phantom Stranger for using those traits to figure out how to aggravate him, and he hates the Phantom Stranger for knowing him well enough to succeed.  All it takes is that impassive stare, a little cape billow, a, "Good evening, Terry," and Dr. Thirteen already has to grit his teeth.

He's tried to hit the Phantom Stranger numerous times, but the trickster always utilizes his billowing cape and some freak accident--a flash-bulb, fog, light reflecting off swamp gas--to get out of the way.  For someone dressed like a circus refugee, he's deceptively nimble.

Except once.  For all his aura of impenetrable omniscience, Dr. Thirteen has found out that the Phantom Stranger CAN actually be taken by surprise.  It was during a frustrating faux poltergeist case, something Dr. Thirteen was sure the Phantom Stranger was behind.  That alone was enough to fray his temper, but when he'd gone in and a flying household object had hit him upside the head, he'd lost it entirely.  The Phantom Stranger had always been annoying, but he'd never been DANGEROUS.  He'd never actually HIT him with anything.

Apparently it had never occurred to the Phantom Stranger that Dr. Thirteen would fight back.  Perhaps he assumed Dr. Thirteen would be too stricken by the blow to react.  Instead, he got a good fist to the mouth.  The solid smack of knuckles against jaw was a sensation Dr. Thirteen would treasure for many a year to come--the look on the man's face alone was priceless.  It seemed nobody had ever dared laid a hand on the mighty Phantom Stranger before.

Except then the Phantom Stranger had lost HIS temper and armlocked Dr. Thirteen against a wall, ranting on about "evil forces." Dr. Thirteen had heard the Phantom Stranger project like a Shakespearean ham, but he'd never actually heard the Phantom Stranger honest-to-god ANNOYED.  Well, good.  See how HE liked it for a change.

For a sideshow in a cape, the Phantom Stranger was actually surprisingly strong.  Dr. Thirteen was no slouch in a fight, but he found himself suddenly, humiliatingly restrained.  Trying to move sent frissons of pain up his shoulder.  He tried to throw himself backward, to kick, but that cape concealed everything, and all he managed to do was bang into the Phantom Stranger's body.

And then Dr. Thirteen really did freeze.  Not because of the arm lock (surely he could've squirmed free of that eventually), but because of the rather obvious bulge against his backside.  He'd known the Phantom Stranger was a delusional nutcase; it really shouldn't have been that shocking to think he might be a pervert as well.

The Phantom Stranger seemed to notice, because suddenly he didn't seem annoyed anymore.  His voice returned to its usual stentorian tones, edged with a hint of smug satisfaction.  Ending all hopes that it was the charlatan hiding poltergeist paraphernalia in his pockets, the Phantom Stranger gave Dr. Thirteen's rump a good rub.

Dr. Thirteen thrashed, but the warning grip on his arm tightened, sending a pang to his shoulder, and he stopped.

The Phantom Stranger then proceeded to molest Dr. Thirteen in front of four teenagers and two old ladies, all while calmly spinning some fairy tale about a headless horseman, and afterward he even had the gall to tell Dr. Thirteen that he was indeed a very good "ghostbreaker."  The cape hid it all.

Oh yes.  Dr. Thirteen HATED that Phantom Stranger.  And one day, he would expose that fraud for what he was!

Date: 2009-08-06 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was cracktastic.

Date: 2009-08-11 05:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
SQUEEEEEEEE AWESOME! :DDD I am SO glad you wrote this! And I will gladly take the blame. Which I call credit. WHEEEE

So many LOLz at the second-to-last paragraph.

And throughout, really.


And Dr. Thirteen has the Phantom Stranger's number.




Is it thirteen?

<3 Elle

Date: 2009-08-11 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

And Stranger's number is 1-800 MYSTERY

Date: 2009-08-11 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Feel PRIDE in your dirtyness!!

*mental image of Dr. Thirteen sitting by the phone with a scrap of paper which reads "1-800-MYSTERY"...dialing a few numbers...putting down the phone...picking it up again...putting it down...picking it up and dialing quickly, then slamming it down as soon as someone answers*


Date: 2009-08-12 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I can see him doing it, just to be a pain.
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