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First to go are the cufflinks. They’re pearly white, and clatter when they get chucked up and over the dresser. Oops. 

Tony reaches for his tie and loosens it in short, jerky motions. There’s weights behind his eyes and a stiffness around his neck, not just from the starchy collar on his shirt.

His room is eerily quiet – as if FRIDAY can sense the mood he’s in. For once, he’s kinda’ glad he can’t hear the busy New York traffic. Tony isn’t even sure where his phone went – but he’s too tired to look for it, as it’s most likely buzzing off the table anyways.

Tony gets the top button popped off his collar and sits at the foot of the bed. He pushes up his glasses, digging the heels of his palms into his eyes. He breathes.

Rigidness sticks to him like a vice. A day of sitting up straight, hands folded neatly, nodding along and playing nice and holding onto a sliver of hope. 

Light flashes in the far corners of his vision, and Tony doesn’t even look up when he hears the portal close.

“Tony.”

It’a not hard to force a smile. He rubs a hand to the back of his hair, glasses now falling lopsided over one eye. “Doctor.”

Stephen’s face is open and worried, and Tony doesn’t really have the energy to deal with that today, so he looks away as Stephen says, “Are you alright?”

“Saw all that, did you?”

“Did I – of course I did. Wong and I watched the trial from the sanctum.”

“Then you already know.” Tony waves, chucking the glasses back on the bed and running another hand through his hair.

“They’re off their fucking rockers.”

“Hey- at least we’re not going to jail.”

“They won’t even thank you, Tony. Nobody notices that you stick your neck out like that.”

“They’re my friends, Stephen,” Tony snaps. “They’re horrible and never listen but they’re my friends. I won’t let them go back to— to being prisoners of the state just for protecting the earth.”

Stephen steps forwards. Every foot closer drains him, Tony’s shoulders sagging with his eyes. Stephen steps between his legs. Hands cover his own, and Tony lets his arms drop, finally closing his eyes when Stephen’s fingers take over in his hair. They scrub gently, shakily, from his temples, back to his neck. Tingles run through his blood like magic, yet magicless.

His touch is an instant relaxer. Tony can smell Stephen's cologne, and he doesn’t even bother resisting the urge to bury his face in Stephen’s chest. He's not in the Kamar-Taj robes, so Tony can feel his body heat through the fabric of his t-shirt. 

Stephen’s voice is a little kinder this time, but still full of disbelief. “Ten hours on the stand…”

“I never know if I’m doing the right thing,” Tony sniffs. “I think I am – try to, you know? But I never – I don’t know what to do. They want to rewrite the accords.”

“I know.”

“If they don’t sign... it’ll be the war all over again. No ten-hour trial will stop that.”

“Tony.”

“I can’t-“ He bites off, because he can do this. He’s done this before, he’ll do it again.

 

Burdened with knowledge.

 

Tony breathes in deep. He opens his eyes, and Stephen is looking down at him, now gently running his thumbs in circles around his ears. There’s a slight tremor to it that’s so distinctly Stephen, that Tony's heart wrings like a wet shirt. 

They’ve been doing this for who knows how long. But now that Stephen is a constant in his life, Tony isn’t sure how to live without him. He’s an addict that way. It was hard to wave off the drugs and harder to quit the alcohol, nearly impossible to leave Pepper, and a piece of cake to fall in unrequited love with a wizard.

“It pisses me off,” Stephen mumbles. “I can’t even defend your name.”

Tony outright laughs, “I appreciate the thought, but you act like this is the first time I’ve made a no-no with the president.”

“Tony-“

He reaches out and hooks a thumb in Stephen’s beltloop, jerking him and forcing his eye. Tony’s voice is like steel, “They don’t know you’re involved. They don’t know about you at all. It is a hundred, billion times better that way.”

Stephen gives him a look, like he agrees, but he's not happy about it. His hands fall to the base of Tony's neck. They rub against the start of the scar there, slightly hidden by his collar. Circular. The size of a space-tyrant’s glove. Tony leans into it.

“Too much rests on your shoulders.”

Tony grins, lopsided. “I’m a Stark. We’re born with broad shoulders and lots of problems.”

Stephen returns the smile, and jokes in a tone,  “Don’t you just wish the multiverse would save itself?”

“It’d really take a few kinks out of my back.”

“I have a great remedy for that, you know.”

Tony perks up, “Magic?”

“No.” Stephen unbuttons the next button on Tony’s shirt, and Tony’s eyes flick down, and back up.

“Oh – sex?”

“No!” Stephen laughs, and works the buttons down to his waist. “A bath. It reduces inflammation.”

“Oh,” Tony breathes. The lights suddenly flick on in the bathroom, and there’s the sound of running water. “Join me?”

Stephen tugs the last button free. He pushes the shirt off Tony’s shoulders, helps him peel it off, one sleeve at a time. Stephen sets it aside, totally ignoring his question. “Have you eaten yet?” His fingers gently skim Tony’s bare arms. 

“I had coffee at the court house.”

“That’s a no,” Stephen steps away, leaving Tony with sad grabby-hands. “Strip, I’ll see if I have anything.”

“Any – food? You can’t cook for a damn, baby.”

“Cash,” He corrects, digging into his back pocket and pulling out a twenty. “I’ll be back with Chinese.”

“Oh god,” Tony moans, “it’s like you know me.”

“Bath.” Stephen points, with a hard stare, before he disappears in flecks of gold. Just as quick as he came.

Tony sighs, wriggling in frustration. He kicks off his shoes in the way his mother would scold him for - you'll scuff the heel! - but Tony flings them towards the closet with his toes, and they kinda' make it. There’s a blue light pulsing at the corner of his coms – twenty unread messages. Nice.

He’s so, so, so tempted to crawl in bed, but he can hear the water gushing, and something mystical rummaging in his cabinets; so Tony unzips his suit trousers and leaves them on the floor as a future problem. He’s jumping on one foot, peeling off a sock when he sees a box of Epsom salt float across the bathroom, and pour itself into the bath. The surprising part is that he’s mostly unphased.

Magic used to keep him up at night; its so wrong, very real, but too new, too expansive. But as things change, as time goes on, Tony has learned to associate magic with Stephen, and all the nice things that come with. Instead of, you know, alien armies and death. 

Tony peeks in, and watches steam rise from the water. It’s already swirling with a low aroma of soap, and the animalistic urge to cannonball in hits him like a smack to the face. Quick, he chucks off his underwear and steps in and oh fuck – yes, not better than falling asleep on his feet, but worth it anyways.

It turns his skin red, a little too hot – but Tony turns it hotter. He sinks in and lets it burn up to his ears.

Tony doesn't remember what he paid for this tub, but it was probably a pretty penny. Partly because its cool, and mostly because he’s convinced it’s a secret Decepticon. It has lights and jets and its so big Tony can stretch out and still not reach the end. He blows bubbles into the water and sighs again, attempting to rid the stress from him like a second skin. He wants to dig his nails into his arms and peel it off, shed like a snake and be left clean and soft and different. 

His brain still runs the trial like a bad dream. He needs to call Cap, he needs a conference with T’Challa, he needs to talk to Pepper about the stock drop and the relocation and rebuilding Avengers HQ –

The water shuts off on its own, and Stephen walks in carrying a takeout bag.

“You are the light of my life,” Tony sighs.

“I went to the non-gmo place you’re always on about,” Stephen uses his teeth to rip open a straw and punch it through a plastic cup, and Tony kinda swoons. “The old lady already knew your order.”

“Isn't she the cutest?” Tony snaps his fingers, "Lin, uh," snap, "Liu." 

"I believe it was Liao. You were close,” Stephen says.

Tony lightly taps the rim of the tub. “Water’s warm. Hop in.”

Stephen hands him a drink, and a paper carton of orange chicken, “No.”  He sits on the rim and breaks the chopsticks, before handing those to Tony as well. “You look about half-a minute away from passing out.”

“Uh, don’t I usually? It’s a look, they say.” Tony makes a little crab grab towards Stephen with the chopsticks, before digging in. 

Stephen watches him, and almost smiles, “Glad to see you can still run your mouth.”

He looks all pretty like that, perched on the edge of the tub, strands of hair in his face. Tony really wishes Stephen would stop dancing around and just get naked with him – but Strange is strange (ha) about stuff like this. Things that might be on the edge of intimate. Even if they’re already there. His head hurts too much to think about it.

Tony almost drops chicken in the tub, so he sits up a little more to eat over the side.

“Babe.”

“Hm.”

“You eat?”

“At the sanctum.”

Tony nods. He chews a little, swallows, and says, “How long you think we got until the next one?”

Stephen already knows what he means. “Don’t think about that right now.”

“Years? Months? Hours?” Tony taps his chopsticks, “We won’t be ready again. We’re too busy fucking – fighting each other.”

“There are never-ending cosmic forces from outer dimensions that attack earth’s reality almost consistently,” Stephen says, not helping – “But I’d never sleep if I thought about it every night. Some things are best left for tomorrow.”

“You saw how well that worked out.”

“Not too bad, I’d say,” Stephen shrugs. Obviously referring to the fact that he is no longer the texture of beach sand. Tony sets the container on the floor, a little ways away from the tub, and stabs his chopsticks in it.

“But-“

Stephen grabs his jaw in one hand and holds it, forcing eye contact. Tony swallows. His eyes are icy pale. “Tony. If you don’t stop I’m going to erase your mind and shove you in bed.”

Tony gasps, fingers coming up to cover Stephen’s, “You said you’d never!”

Stephen makes a face like try me, so Tony sighs, and leans his head into one of his hands. The food helped, but he still can’t quite breathe right. 

“My head feels like the inside of a shake-weight.”

Stephen leans down, careful not to slip as he continues to cradle Tony’s head, and lays a soft, long kiss against his lips, “Your brain is infinitely more complicated than that.”

Tony’s chest squeezes all kinds of ugly sap, and his eyelashes definitely don’t flutter-

“Hell, I wanna’ keep you,” Tony barely whispers.

Stephen blinks, “What?”

Tony inhales; he jerks away saying, “Alright, enough –“ and sinks back into the bubbling water. But Stephen is staring, and he refuses to break eye-contact, and Tony hates it so he continues, “You know. It’s just – this thing, with us — didn’t really start off super serious, but when you do shit like this it makes me feel like it is serious, so, you should just, um. Go.”

Stephen’s face doesn’t even change. He blinks slowly, and then something sharpens, in his eyes, until he’s standing.

“Alright, move over.”

“What?”

But Stephen is grabbing the back of his collar, and pulling off his shirt. His hair gets all ruffled, and he barely spares a moment to push back his bangs. Tony scooches over, the water sloshing, and watches in a stunned silence as Stephen unties his shoes one by one. He peels off his socks, setting them aside. His shirt gets folded on the counter along with his ring. His belt slides through the loops with a leather hiss, and clatters to the ground. Jeans, then underwear, he undresses with purpose – then he’s so beautifully naked, Tony just stares numbly has he climbs on in, one leg after the other.

The water level rises. Bubbles hide them from the waist down, but Tony is still staring, mouth dry as hell. They’ve had sex on every feasible surface of Tony’s room, but he never gets enough time to sit and stare. The humidity draws water down behind Stephen’s ears, and his hair is going frizzy, and water droplets stick to his arms like gold –

The tub may be large, but Stephen still has those longass gazelle legs, so he folds them up and rests his arms on his knees and stares Tony down like this is an intervention.

“I’m going to say this slowly, because you are emotionally obtuse,” Stephen says, and Tony scoffs, but he’s steamrolled right over. Stephen speaks too deep and low for the size of the bathroom. “I am obsessed with you.”

“Oh,” Tony breathes. The world gently comes to a stop.

“Please stop thinking this is casual,” Stephen sighs. “I can only try so hard to convince you otherwise.”

Tony scooches closer, kicking his way around Stephen’s hip bones, until he can throw his arms around Stephen’s shoulders and share the same breathing space. His heart is beating kinda' weird, in the way it used to when there was a solid chunk of metal in it. Stephen holds him. 

Tony says, "For the record, I'm aware of my emotional obtusity." 

"Then what’s the holdup?"

“Everyone leaves me, Doctor.”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic,” Stephen hums.

“It’s genetic.”

“Do all Avengers come with daddy issues?”

Tony outwardly laughs, caught off guard. He runs his hands up the really nice muscles around Stephen’s back and kisses him. “You’re mean. I really like you.” So, so much. 

“I assure you the feeling is mutual. Now turn around, dickhead.”

Tony bites lip and grins, “Why...are you going to wash my hair?”

“Yes.”

“I thought this only happened in movies.” Tony turns, and a little bit of water goes over the edge, but whatever. He might be a little giddy. Stephen spreads his legs and fuck! yes! Tony scoots back between them, and sets a hand on either side of Stephen’s knees.

“Only the ones with big tubs,” Stephen says. He reaches over to the shelf and plucks off a bottle – he uncaps it, smelling it and moving onto the next one.

“You’re too tall,” Tony wobbles his knee and kicks at Stephen’s feet, which very much reach the end of the tub. Hm. “And – what are you doing?”

“This one...” Stephen mumbles, scooping a handful of water over Tony’s head, “...smells the most like you.”

“You’re cheesy,” Tony decides. “Maybe we are good for each other.”

“Now you’re getting it.”

Shampoo lathers into his hair. Stephen’s hands aren’t strong enough to scrub very hard, but it’s soo soothing, Tony sits back and purrs.

He remembers when they started this – when Tony dragged him up the stairs three months ago and Stephen said Stark – I don’t – my hands – I haven’t since-

And Tony grinned, oh baby, there is so much you can do without your hands –

Stephen’s thigh is soft; Tony runs his nails over muscle and lets Stephen pour more water over his head. Stephen massages down his neck, slippery from the shampoo. It smells like lavender and it’s totally the one Tony uses on a regular basis. The soap lathers bubbles. “Close your eyes,” Stephen says, and Tony feels more water run down his face.

He’s not sure if FRIDAY or Stephen dimmed the overheads, but someone did. Tony waves his hand over the holo-controls, and the lights on the tub kick on, glowing a gradient rainbow.

A bottle cap clicks; Tony keeps his eyes closed. He feels conditioner lather into his hair, and he tries to keep still. Tony squeezes his knee, and Stephen crowds it towards him, almost pulling Tony flush against his chest. Orange magic tingles down his neck and into his shoulders, relaxing him like a drug, and Tony moans – “Dude. You’re gonna’ turn me on if you keep that up.”

“Oh no,” Stephen deadpans, “Whatever will I do.”

Water gushes down Tony’s neck one last time, but now Stephen’s hands follow, down his shoulders and around his chest, finally pulling Tony close enough to rest his head under Stephen’s chin. 

Tony wipes his eyes with the side of his hand and opens them, wiggling to get comfortable, despite being so slippery. Stephen turns off the jets, and the water starts to settle. Stephen traps him in his big-ole noodle arms, and Tony does not complain one bit. He’s not thinking about the trial, or the multiverse, or his twenty missed calls. He’s thinking about pretty wizards and Chinese food.

“Do you like this?” Stephen asks genuinely. He presses a hand flat against Tony’s chest, and his skin glows orange, making him shudder and squirm. Tony has to bite his tongue.

“It’s – weird.” Tony says. “I think I like it. How do you do that?”

“I guess the easiest comparison would be electricity. But not quite, it’s – well. Mystical energy.”

“Cryptic, I'm not surprised.” Tony runs his hand up Stephen’s thigh as high as it’ll go, and is very not-subtle about shoving his ass in Stephen’s crotch. 

“You’re trouble,” Stephen mumbles in his ear. Tony’s arms break out in goosebumps. 

“I can only try so hard.”

Stephen still struggles in curling his fingers tightly, but he can spread them wide without shaking too much. His hand slips down into Tony’s inner thigh, and Tony isn’t sure how much longer he can will the erection away – so he doesn’t bother trying anymore. 

“You know I really like your hands, right?”

Stephen goes silent.

“Not in a weird way,” Tony corrects. He steals one of Stephen’s hands, studying the scars. “They’re just long and pretty. You don’t have any wonky nails either.”

Stephen presses his lips to the back of Tony’s neck and hums. He hums another kiss to his ear, and then his temple, almost meeting wet hair. 

"There's something you don’t hear every day." 

Stephen’s left hand gets a grip under his thigh and pulls, hiking Tony up higher, and forcing him to spread his legs. Tony scrambles to get a hand on the edge of the tub, and makes a noise when Stephen actually sucks down behind his ear. He’s hard against his lower back, and Tony feels his face go red. 

Stephen’s right hand splays flat against Tony’s navel, mapping the length of his stomach in a lazy way. He pointedly ignores where his dick is now lined against his hip, and Tony shivers from it.

It’s so different, with Stephen. It’s one thing to be desired. But something else to be adored.

Tony groans, “We are too old to have sex in a bathtub.”

“Who said anything about sex in a bathtub?”

“Me, obviously,” Tony says, turning around and straddling Stephen’s lap. The porcelain is going to be hell against his knees, but whatever, he can finally look Stephen in the eye and kiss him.

Stephen gets his legs under himself, so Tony can actually sit in his lap, rather than kneel. He braces his hands at Tony’s lower back and kisses slippery wet. Tony gets his tongue in his mouth and Stephen meets him for it. His teeth are so sharp Tony always feels like he’ll cut his tongue; he never does, but sometimes he tries. Maybe he’ll bleed copper, maybe Stephen will lick it all up.

“You are,” Stephen breathes, “fucking beautiful.”

Tony jerks - plants a palm on Stephen’s shoulder, the other reaching between their legs to line up their cocks and frot like they’re eighteen, fuck.

 Stephen’s lips are hotter than the water, his tongue scalding in Tony’s mouth. He kisses dirty for a Doctor, but they always are the dirtiest, Tony has said. He hasn’t been wrong yet. 

Tony likes the brush of facial hair, likes the smell of aftershave, likes the way Stephen twitches when he wiggles in his lap.

Stephen makes a grab for his ass, and suddenly Tony is wide awake. Good morning America. 

“You’re fixing my back tomorrow,” Tony states, as he reaches over towards the shelves and pats around for the baby oil, because this is happening right the fuck now.

“A, I’m not a chiropractor,” Stephen lists. “And B, I watched you carry a bus off a bridge last week.”

Tony wiggles up a little so his hips are above the water, and Stephen helps hold him there. Tony slicks his fingers and reaches back and keeps eye-contact when he does it, because he knows Stephen eats that shit up. True to fortition, Stephen plants his feet and grinds up against him, fingers nearly slipping on the backs of Tony’s thighs.

“I used to be suuper stretchy.” Tony breathes through it, sitting back on his own fingers and gripping a hand on Stephen’s shoulders to keep himself steady. “Like, legs behind my head stretchy. Natasha had me doing Yoga on Fridays for a solid year but I stopped going and I’ll probably never uttanasana ever again.”

“I can get you there,” Stephen purrs, really low and rumbly. “Flexibility is an entire study at Kamar-Taj.”

“Oh god, can you uttanasana? That would be so hot.”

Stephen pets up the side of his hip, to steady a hand at his back. He kisses him, mumbling something like maybe – and Tony can tell he’s getting impatient, because the kiss is quicker, something more along Tony’s pace.

He loves to get him like this – the great Doctor Strange a little more frazzled, a little less put together.

Tony knows the fatigue will hit him like a train later – but they won’t last long anyways. Tony just wants to suck on his tongue as long as he can before he passes out. Stephen is kissing him like they’re gonna die, and Tony might actually die, his heart is going so fast his chest feels hollow, fingers a little more shaky when he tries to stretch them. He slips out his fingers and flicks them in the water, and groans when he finally lines Stephen up and fully sits on his cock.

Tony hisses, blinking a few times to clear away the white. 

Everything is scalding hot, and Tony realizes the water has gone warmer. He’s not sure if Stephen knows hes doing it (but if so, thats sexy as hell).

Stephen buries his face in Tony’s shoulder and squeezes him tight around the waist. He can feel Stephen moan before he does, rumbles deep in his chest.

“You-“ Stephen breaks off into a curse.  "Fuck, be careful."

Never been careful in his life, thanks.

Tony squirms; it’s a little sore but not any less good. Tony holds his breath just so he won’t miss the sound Stephen makes when he starts to ride him. It’s not fast, not anything crazy, but Tony is hard as fuck and he’s shaking already, just from Stephen gripping the back of his neck and fucking up into him – too shallow to make him come, but maddeningly close.

“Fuck,” Tony grits between his teeth, and slides his hands down Stephen’s chest, past the scar on his side, back up to his shoulders because honestly, they’re the best handlebars. “Y-You’re something else.”

He tries to enjoy the moment, tries not to rush – to chase anything – to just sit there and not think about the world. Stephen is holding him like – not like he’s fragile, but like he’s important, and fuck if that doesn’t make Tony dizzy.

Water sloshes over the edge of the tub. Stephen kisses him, but Tony noses away from it, trying to watch his face, the tick in his jaw, the fuzziness in his eyes – all the stuff that gets Tony super off.

Tony’s knee slips and the angle changes, and Tony fucking chokes, a spike running down his back so fast; he digs his nails into Stephen’s arms and moans like a whore in hell.

Stephen is saying something – but he fucks him deliberately, water rolling up and back, the lights pink, now yellow, now blue.  

“I’ve got you,” Stephen says, “Fuck, I’ve got you,” and oh shit, Tony reaches between his legs, where his dick is trapped between them, and squeezes.

Stephen’s neck seems like a nice place to settle down and make a home – so Tony faceplants in it and holds out as long as he can; until he feels Stephen’s legs shaking, and his stomach drawing tighter, and his breathing go wonky.

“Gimmie more,” Tony prompts, “Come on –“

“We’ll soak your floor,” Stephen laughs, breathless, and snaps his hips up, and god. Yes. Tony will remember this forever. Specifically tomorrow. 

Trembly fingers skim down his back and Tony is a goner, coming on a hard exhale and one last thrust, grinding down and closing his eyes. The best part is the liquid deep baritone beneath him, Stephen squeezing his waist surprisingly hard, toes curling down by the end of the tub. His name has never sounded so good.

The water takes a while to settle. Tony lets the fuzzy feeling in his bones bleed from him.

There’s a chilling moment, where all he can hear is Stephen breathing – and Tony holds onto it. Sometimes, when he’s watching this man distort reality and summon portals and conjure weapons – he doesn’t seem real. Like if Tony reached out, his fingers would slip right past him.

But nah, he’s just a guy drawing imaginary circles on Tony’s back, chilling in his bathtub.

They kiss ‘cause they can. ‘Cause the sex is A1 and they’re happy here, in this moment.

The sound of dripping water pulls Tony back to earth. He peeks over the side, and sighs. Yeah, the floor is kinda fucked.

“Uhh, any chance you can summon a magic mop?”

Stephen hums, and kisses the side of his face. That sounds like a no. Tony looks down to the mess on Stephen’s stomach and splashes some water on it – earning an unimpressed look from Stephen.

“Classy.”

“Don’t even go there,” Tony says, and rocks back one last time while Stephen is still oversensitive. He jerks from it, and Tony laughs, planting a fat kiss on his mouth and sitting up off his lap. His legs are a little shaky as he stands.

“Ugh, I’m all pruney.”

“Your skin cells are just waterlogged,” Stephen says, watching Tony try not to slip and fall as he gets out of the tub. “Give it five minutes.”

“I read – heard, something, someone – you know they think we shrivel up in water because it gives us a better grip? Like – they think it’s evolutionary.”

“Idealists,” Stephen rolls his eyes. “Stop reading science journals that aren’t proof-read.”

Tony throws open the cabinets under the sink, and tosses a towel or two onto the floor to soak up most of the water. He wraps one around his waist, and hands another to Stephen when he stands up out of the bath.

Tony makes it halfway into the bedroom when he really starts to feel the world sway sideways, “Oh shit, I’m tired.”

“I should get going,” Stephen says. He towels off his hair, and Tony watches because he’s pretty as hell-

Wait.

“What?” Tony blinks, “You’re just going to fuck me and leave?”

“Tony.”

“Gonna’ hit it and quit it?”

“Tony.”

“Pump and dump-“

“You never sleep well when I stay over,” Stephen sighs, stepping back into his boxers. “Also never say that again.”

Tony has barely popped a fresh shirt over his head when he whines, “I dont sleep like, ever. Come on, please. I really-“ need you. He pauses.

Stephen sees the look on his face, and understands anyways. 

“I’ll stay.” Stephen steps up to him and towels off Tony’s hair for him. “Because I know you’re tempted to answer those thirty two calls.”

Tony groans, and looks over to his holopad on the wall, “Its thirty two now?!”

“Tomorrow,” Stephen spins him around, throwing the towel somewhere and marching him into bed. “We’ll handle it.” 

We. 

"Well I don't want to be that guy," Tony crawls onto the bed, tossing his discarded glasses onto the bedside table. He tries not to sound embarrassed. "If the sanctum needs you, then go." 

Stephen crawls in after him, "Well maybe I want you to be that guy." Tony scoffs, and Stephen flips down the covers, "The sanctum is fine." 

It's really only natural to turn over on his side, his back to Stephen, and yank the sheets up to his shoulders, "It's not like I need you." It comes out colder than he meant it - and anyone else would've taken offense. But Stephen knows better than to argue back, and that's almost more frustrating. Instead he leans over to click off the lights - and also knows better than to use magic to do so. It fucks with the house circuitry, and Tony has chewed him out over it half a dozen times.

He settles in against Tony's back, arm over his waist, and finally says, "I know you don't." 

Tony swishes around his tongue. "Then why?" 

"Hmmmm," Stephen drawls, softer now that it's dark. "You're quite stupid for a genius." 

Tony kicks back at his calf, and Stephen laugh breathes over his ear. 

"I enjoy your company, most times," Stephen says. Tony rolls his eyes. But he continues, "And I enjoy doing things for you, when I'm so inclined." 

"Like washing my hair?" 

"Like washing your hair," he affirms. "Like watching you balance chopsticks over the edge of a soapy bathtub. Or discovering an element. Or saving the world. I enjoy all of you." 

The sheets are nice and cool. Their bodies are soft and clean, hair still damp, clothes clinging from the moisture. It’s quiet and perfect and worth remembering.

Tony rolls over in his arms, so he can face Stephen nose to nose. 

"I don't need you." 

"I know." 

"But I want you." 

Stephen smiles at that, lopsided, and barely leans forward to peck his mouth. Tony scrunches up his face and grimaces, "Ugh, we forgot to brush our teeth." 

"Oh, hold on," Stephen says. He lifts a hand off of Tony's hip to draw a tiny symbol circle with his fingers, no bigger than an apple. It glows like a nightlight, orange only for a moment, before he leans over once more to kiss Tony again. This time he tastes like toothpaste, mint fresh, and Tony parts his lips in surprise. Stephen's tongue skims his for only a moment; but Tony feels that weird, magic tingle sizzle in his mouth. He pulls away and licks at the back of his teeth - and they're clean. 

"That's amazing," Tony brings a hand to his lips. "Definitely keeping you." 

"Don't get used to it." 

"Oh, I'm gonna'. Do you think we could market that?" 

"Tony." 

"The kiss of fresh. Oh - is it like patient zero? If i go kiss someone right now, do they get a cleaning?" 

"Well, not exac-" 

"Consider; we start like, three kissing booths at Coachella. By the time it spreads you'll hardly smell all the pot - it'll just smell like -" Tony yawns, "- Colagate." 

Stephen sighs, "Technically its Crest. I only used what you had in your cabinet." 

Tony flops to his back, and yawns again. Stephen is warm, and he sneaks closer, propping his head on Tony’s shoulder. It'll probably go numb, but Stephen is kinda' cuddly when you least expect it, and, well. So is Tony.

"I'd ask you to teach me," Tony says. "For practicality reasons only. But it goes against my core values as an engineer." 

"I quite like your core values," Stephen mumbles. His voice makes Tony's eyelids droop, so he closes them and hums. "I think magic is a little too slow for you." 

"You're right. I'll figure out some kind of toothpaste dissolvant- like a cyanide pill you bite into. Maybe long-lasting enough that it spreads through oral contact, cause, you know, that's the fun part." He pauses. Then says, "That'd be one minty-fresh blowjob." 

That gets a short, breathy laugh.

"Glad you're feeling better," Stephen says, turning his nose up to kiss a mark on Tony's neck, before he curls protectively over Tony's side, and drifts to sleep. 

Tony's brain won't turn off for a while. Too much to think about. But he's free to run his hands through Stephen's hair as much as he likes, and Stephen's shoulders lift and fall steady enough to lull him within the hour.