"So what do you think of him?" Bedisa asked, perching on his shoulder. Tony smiled when she nuzzled his cheek.
"What can I say?"
"Tony, we're one. You're intrigued." He scoffed. "I know because I am, too."
"Do you think he's insane?" she added after a break. He chuckled. "Oh, I know the answer to that. I thought Brennan was great when he growled at Capsicle."
"Intrigued is too nice a word for it." Tony grinned. "We both know which one would be more accurate."
"Whiskey?" Tony offered.
"Just one glass."
Stephen was looking out through the window, thoughtful. Brennan was curled in a corner, watching them evenly. Bedisa flew to Stephen's shoulder, but he flinched, Cloak flaring. Bedisa then landed on his head, settling down.
"Here," Tony somehow made the glass appear in Stephen's shaky hand. The taller man was distracted.
"Why is your daemon touching me?"
"Because she likes touching people. Are you shy?" Tony teased, knocking glasses. "To new people."
"To new people," Stephen replied half-heartedly.
Tony glanced at Brennan, but he seemed to have curled in on himself a bit more. Perhaps not a good idea to touch him.
"So, tell me a few things about you, new guy." Tony sat down on the couch.
"Is this a late job interview?" the doctor inquired drily. "What happens if I fail?"
"You don't unlock the Tony Stark friendship package. But you already have a few brownie points after today."
Stephen looked away.
"I'm sorry if I..."
Tony quickly cut him off.
"Don't you dare apologize for the best moment of my day. Rogers' face? Precious. Thank you. This counts as an early birthday present."
Stephen's lips twitched into a smirk and he finally took a seat on the couch, though nowhere near Tony. Still, progress was progress.
"Not one of my proudest moments, I have to admit," Stephen began, taking another sip. "But he was crossing a line."
"He does it often, but you're the first one to ever defend me."
"I don't know if you've noticed, but he wasn't at the meeting today."
"I didn't. I was too busy arguing with Rogers."
"Look at that, I got you to have a sense of humour!" Stephen smirked. "Where has it been hiding?"
"It only comes around once in a blue moon."
"So I can call myself a blue moon?"
"I don't know. You're more of a red one."
"Well, your newer suits seem to be gradually dropping the yellow."
"That's..." Tony paused, thinking about it. Huh, Stephen was right. Then, after a few moments of introspection, he began laughing. "You've been staring at my suits this whole time!" Stephen's eyes widened.
"No, I haven't... this is just... I really haven't..."
"You have a crush on me!"
The sorcerer was blushing.
"Now you're taking things too far!"
Bedisa croaked, displaced by the agitation, and flew off.
"Ok," Tony conceeded, still chuckling. "Sorry."
"For your information, I have an eidetic memory."
"And my ass looks better with each suit."
Stephen looked away.
"Come on, say it," Tony goaded.
"Jeans are my best ass suit."
"There's not enough alcohol in that bottle to make me say that."
Tony cackled. Not a problem. He'd get another if he had to.
How could he be so casual around someone like him? Someone broken? A monster? Stephen sighed, staring at himself in the mirror. He messed his hair a few times, trying to understand how Stark could let his daemon touch others just like that. Brennan rubbed himself against his hip and he absently pet him.
"You're not crazy, Stephen," he assured. "Stark and Bedisa don't think so."
"It's a close call, to be honest."
The daemon managed to sneak around him and push him away. It was easy for anyone who knew to look to see that his human was ashamed of himself. He would barely look at his daemon when they were in public. Who did that but people who hated themselves?
"You should spend more time with people who like you."
Stephen magically changed into his sleep clothes. Brennan followed him to bed, used to his bouts of silence. He settled next to him, resting his head on his human's belly, whose hand found his head and began petting. Brennan sighed. At least Stephen wasn't distant to him anymore.
"Stark likes you."
"Because I scare his enemy."
"Stephen, you forget I'm your other half. I know how you feel."
He stayed silent.
"Promise me that if he asks you to hang out with him again, you won't reject the offer."
"That I can do."
The Avengers were wary of them even as they saved each other's lives on the field. Fortunately, their morals and work ethic weren't affected by the obvious distance. Soon enough, Stephen resigned himself to it. Brennan stopped trying to befriend the other daemons, not that he had made much of an effort in the first place. Tony and Bedisa were an exception.
Rhodey knew something others didn't. Dhriti sniffed at Tony, curious. Bedisa landed on her back.
"We know what you two are thinking," Dhriti told the bird, walking away from their humans.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Still, Bedisa was preening.
"That Strange man and his daemon."
"Of course you'd think that."
"I know you disagree."
"Not particularly. Not anymore. We liked the American flag and look where that left you. Now, yeah, we don't like this one, but we don't hate them, either." She jumped on a table, forcing the bird to flap her wings to stay balanced. "At least there's no chance of splitting the team in case history repeats itself."
Bedisa croaked, displeased.
"That won't be the case."
Tony and Stephen were having one of their now usual drinks when Bedisa landed in front of Brennan.
"How tall are you?"
That was a weird ice breaker for a daemon. He lifted his head to acknowledge the attention.
"Can you get above a door?"
He assessed the question, unused to this sort of attention.
"Yes. And if not, I can use magic."
"Great. I know you can go pretty far from your human, so follow me."
The big daemon stood up and glanced at Stephen, who seemed to be in deep conversation with Tony. The genius had monopolized his attention as always and although Stephen had yet to put a name to that warmth twitching in his chest around the other man, Brennan knew. Thoroughly distracted, neither man seemed to notice their daemons leaving.
"Where are we going?"
"Isn't this the sort of question one asks before leaving?" Bedisa teased, landing on his head. "Oh, nice view. Can I stay?"
"Yes. So where are we going?"
"My secret stash, then the meeting room."
"To do what?"
"Prank the patriot."
Brennan didn't seem perturbed by the prospect.
"We'll put red and blue glitter in a bucket on the door." She was excited.
"Okay." Might as well.
It turned out to be fun. Bedisa was excited and kept making fun of the others, telling him funny stories or things she'd seen from some hidden corner.
"So yeah, this is one thing Pepper is looking forward to. Strange?" Tony stopped, assessing his newest friend. Yes, friend. He'd slapped the label on the other man, there was no shaking it off now.
The sorcerer had abruptly tensed, eyes widening. He took a step back to rest against the table behind him and put his glass down on it, then pressed both hands to his chest. He didn't seem scared or in shock, just surprised.
Tony looked around, but couldn't find their daemons. Figures. What was Bedisa doing? No matter, his daemon was perfectly capable of looking after herself and she was feeling happy, so he wouldn't worry. Instead, he focused on the man in front of him.
"Hey, give me something to work with, Stranger."
Stephen closed his eyes, lips trembling before he covered his mouth with a hand. The Cloak twitched, as if scared, then drew tighter around him.
Tony quickly pulled a chair over and tugged on the Cloak to guide its master to sit. Stephen did so, releasing his mouth and opening his eyes. He didn't acknowledge the Cloak wiping his tears.
"I'm sorry," he chocked out.
"No, don't be sorry. Just... take your time." Tony fiddled awkwardly, then sighed and chose a project. Stephen didn't like to be touched, much less when he was vulnerable. He'd learned that the hard way. However, before Tony even got started, the sorcerer fully regained his voice.
Tony turned towards the other man, curious.
"So? Bedisa is usually happy enough for the both of us."
"I..." Stephen shook his head. "You don't understand. I haven't felt him be happy since... since the accident."
"Oh." Tony winced. That had been ages ago.
"I'm sorry I freaked out." He stood up and sipped at his drink, leaning over the table. "I just..."
Tony made a point to place his hand on the surface, next to Stephen's.
"It's fine. This is good, isn't it?"
Stephen nodded, looking down. Tony took a step back.
"It's... yeah, it's good. I haven't realized how much we missed it. His new form, I... daemons don't touch him and people stay away from me." Which was a way too nice way of putting it.
"Fools." Tony approached again, tempted to touch. "Blinded by prejudice." Stephen's lips twitched into a smirk as he glanced at the engineer.
"I never told you when Brennan changed."
"The accident?" Tony guessed, because he'd thought it was obvious. Stephen shook his head. "Discovering magic?"
"Neither. It was..." Stephen took a deep breath, hesitating.
"Hey, you don't have to tell me."
They'd finished with the glitter by the time their humans were assaulting them with feelings. Bedisa, unlike Tony, had no qualms about touching Brennan. She was on his shoulders, nuzzling him and letting her wings wrap around him. For his part, he was turning his head to lick at her wings.
They figured returning was probably a good idea.
"I want to tell you. I want you to understand." Stephen grabbed Tony's hand. "I... I died. Using the time stone. Many times. Horrible ways, for many years. I..." His free hand fisted in his robes over his heart. "I couldn't stand looking at him at first."
"Still can't, sometimes."
"It reminds me of everything."
"And that horrible form... is that really what I am now?"
"Hey." This time, Tony's call seemed to reach the other man. Stephen stopped speaking, his gaze focusing on Tony. "Good. That's it. Eyes on me. Match my breathing."
"I'm not having a panic attack."
"No, but you're getting lost in your head." Stephen lowered his gaze in shame. "Eyes on me." Tony waited until the other man had obeyed before continuing. "You're not a monster, Stephen. Your daemon isn't one, either. Can I make you believe that?"
The sorcerer nodded, then took a wary step back, already reeling at the tiny physical contact.
"I wish you could."
The daemons walked in. Brennan immediately rushed to Stephen's side. Bedisa flew to Tony's shoulder and pulled on a strand of his hair.
"I didn't mess up. Promise."
Bedisa cowed at her human's words.
"Well, I surely didn't," she retorted. They'd been having fun when their humans suddenly got all sad.
Stephen was hugging Brennan close, arms wrapped around his other half. The daemon wrapped his front paws around his human.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
The thin wail coming from Brennan was unnatural, but the two seemed to be reconnecting. Tony and Bedisa left them for a few moments, until Stephen hesitantly called for Tony.
"Over here," the engineer answered. "I made you tea."
"Oh. You didn't have to."
"Well, I already did and I'm not drinking that, so enjoy."
Bedisa wasn't around Tony when Stephen took the cup of tea and drank.
"I'll soon be out of your hair. It's getting late."
"You could spend the night in that room I offered you. Do you even use it?"
"Of course. I hide in it when Wong has chores for me."
"Gotcha. I won't give it to Peter."
Steve Rogers always had to be the first to meetings. Not because he walked first in his group, but mostly because he was always early to them. So when Tony came in (fashionably late, as always), the blond only had leftover glitter on himself, but enough for it to be obvious. Bedisa was laughing so hard she almost fell to the ground.
Dhriti and Rhodey were giving their friends deadpan looks.
"How did you lift that bucket so high?" Dhriti asked. Bedisa was still laughing, but she answered.
Stephen had just smirked in amusement when he'd seen the glittery captain, but Brennan had seemed to laugh.
"Did he?" the wolf asked drily.
Scott had begged Tony to let him bring Cassie to the Tower for a short visit. Needlessly. The moment he'd said "my daughter", Tony had immediately accepted. Scott wanted to do something nice for his daughter. Why on earth would Tony refuse him?
Cassie was definitely excited to visit the Tower, but the visit had grown boring after a while. The gym was cool, but not exactly a place for her. The meeting rooms were uninteresting, but her father had expected that. He'd been planning to watch a movie in the main living room, maybe make the day cool by bumping into someone more popular than himself. How cool would it be to get his daughter a picture with the Black Widow or Captain America?
They did meet someone, just not who he'd been hoping. Stephen Strange. The sorcerer was wearing normal clothes for once, daemon standing beside him to watch TV together. Some sort of medical drama. Nevermind.
More importantly, Cassie loved ugly things. Scott watched her eyes widen and take heart shapes. Her daemon immediately turned into a sparrow and flew straight towards Brennan. Cheliiyan was caught by Scott's daemon, but Cassie was in front of Stephen before her father could stop her.
"Your daemon is so ugly!" The sorcerer shot the other man a questioning look. "I love her! Can I touch her? Please?"
"Umm... him," was all Stephen could muster because did this child really just say all that?
"Ah, sorry. Can I touch him? Pretty please?"
Scott seemed to pop out of thin air, hands on Cassie's shoulders.
"Pumpkin, maybe you shouldn't bother him..."
Cheliiyan escaped and landed on Brennan, then turned into a ferret, slithering all over the place. He settled on his back, circling. Nope. He turned into a lizard. Nope. A mouse. Then a hamster. Brennan didn't react. He was staring at Stephen, communicating in that way one could only with their daemon. Cheliiyan finally settled. Sparrow.
"You do know that touching someone's daemon is something two people do only when they're very close, right?" Stephen asked Cassie. That wasn't a no.
"Oh. I'm Cassie Lang. Daughter of Ant Man." She extended her hand.
"Doctor Stephen Strange," he replied, carefully shaking her hand. Luckily, she didn't comment on his scars.
Cassie perched on the sofa next to him, so Scott had to reluctantly follow.
"If we're intruding..."
"I was watching Grey's Anatomy. You're rescuing me," Stephen replied.
"You don't like it?" Cassie asked.
"The medical inconsistencies are impossible to ignore and there isn't half as much romance in a normal hospital, we're all too tired. Yes, I'm a real doctor," he added, a bit snappy.
"Then why watch it?" Cassie was undeterred.
"A friend recommended it."
"That's not a good friend."
"He's a... different kind of friend. I had implied that magic made him redundant that day, so I don't know what I had expected."
"No longer necessary. He invents things."
Tony Stark. Yes, he was capable of that, Scott mused. He soon made himself comfortable, because Cassie didn't seem interested in leaving and he couldn't find a genuine reason to. He always told Cassie not to judge a book by its cover. Friday had turned off the series when the girl had sat down and Stephen was answering all her questions. He could've left, the way he sometimes did in the middle of boring meetings because there was no way all magical emergencies were when he was bored.
"Can I touch Brennan now?" Cassie suddenly asked.
Stephen was looking at Scott. Scott's daemon ducked behind him. What to do? Could he say no? Cassie caught on and stared at him too.
"If that's alright with Doctor Strange."
"I'm sorry," he said, a bit forced, after he exchanged a look with his daemon.
Cheliiyan chirped a complaint when Brennan moved. Scott tensed at Cassie's side, ready to pounce. Only insane people had imaginary animals as daemons. Only insane... Ok, many people said one thing, but their daemon did another. That was the fun of daemons.
Cassie was overjoyed when the demonic daemon settled in front of her. Stephen was unreadable, but that made Scott pause and reassess. This was not an insane man. This was a man letting his privacy be violated for a child. Cassie extended a hand, letting Brennan come to her. Scott wanted to remind her that a daemon wasn't an animal, but he was too busy staring at both the other man and his daemon at the same time. That way, he was able to notice the stutter in Stephen's breathing when Cassie touched Brennan's muzzle, then moved up.
"Wow," she breathed out, scratching lightly behind a pointy ear. She then trailed her hand down the short mane, reminiscent of a horse. Cheliiyan jumped on her wrist when she got to him. She paused when she got to the place where the fur abruptly changed colour. "What animal is he?" she asked.
"None," Stephen admitted. He sounded... off, so Scott tugged on Cassie and she let go, but her daemon returned to the comfy place he'd found between Brennan's shoulders.
"Dad said you go to other worlds. Doesn't it have a name there?"
Scott's eyes widened. Of course. That made complete sense in a sad way. Who knew what had happened in another dimension to lead to-?
"It doesn't." Stephen stood up. "I'm sorry. I have to go." He abruptly spun around and left through a portal, Brennan jumping in before him.
Cassie and Scott stared at the empty spot for a few moments, reeling from the abrupt departure.
"Daddy, did I do something wrong?"
"Not exactly..." Still, he began explaining how she shouldn't go around touching other people's daemons.
"Since when are you and Scott buddies?" Tony asked. He wasn't jealous. No, really.
Bedisa had claimed Brennan like a nest, cawing at anyone who approached, not like many dared to. It was funny, but then Scott's kookaburra had snuck behind her and the other daemons witnessed a fight between two birds on Brennan's back.
"Since when are you monopolizing my social interactions?" Stephen asked in turn.
"I miss the old days, when I was your only social interaction and I could have you all to myself, Stephanie." Tony considered the eyeroll a victory. "No, really."
"He brought his daughter to the tower and she apparently likes ugly daemons, which seemed to be a compliment."
"Ah, you should've seen the toy he got her for Christmas. Abhorrent. The stuff of nightmares. Dunno where he found that thing." Tony took Stephen's glass from his hand when the sorcerer went for another sip. "That still doesn't answer my question."
"I let her touch Brennan."
Tony, unlike Scott, knew Stephen's body language by then. He noticed the lowered gaze, the subtle tension in his muscles and the way his daemon seemed to twitch at the reminder. The engineer didn't like that.
"Why did you let her? It was a rude request."
"None of your business."
"Maybe, but your privacy was invaded on my turf. Do I need to have a talk with Tic Tac?"
"No. It's fine. We... We wanted it." The Cloak flared, covering him further.
"See, you're saying that, but you're acting like it was a traumatic experience." Silence. "Look, Stranger... I'm your friend. Which one was it?"
"Can't both be true?" the sorcerer finally admitted.
"Yeah, they can."
Tony refilled his glass and left it on the table. After a few moments of consideration, he returned to his inventions. Stephen needed space. Hmm... new model arc reactor. Would that even work? Bedisa was all over Brennan and he seemed to appreciate it. Ok, so that didn't work. How about...? Oh, now we're talking.
"If I let you touch me, what would your first choice be?"
"Hands," Tony replied immediately. "Wouldn't want to scare you off." Hmm, ok, now with the extra power... Oh, he can try to see how many times he can use that blast.
"Wrists, arms, shoulders. Maybe your cheeks. Not your neck. If you don't freak out, maybe a hug." Tony hugged Rhodey, Pepper and Happy all the time. Peter, too. Sometimes some of the Avengers. Hugging was good. His therapist encouraged it. Apparently touch starvation was a thing, highly likely for single people these days. Yeah, definitely a thing, if he looked at Stephen.
Bedisa and Brennan froze, staring at their humans. Tony stopped mid dramatic hand twitch.
"I said ok." Stephen shrugged off the Cloak, then stood up and approached the engineer. "I trust you." He lifted his hands in offering. It was fine. They'd touched hands before, accidentally or on purpose.
Tony spun around and looked at the offering.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." No. His body language was smacking Tony over the head with huge NO signs.
"Tell me to stop and I will."
Stephen just nodded, so Tony slowly took each hand in one of his. He lifted them, palms up, and felt the scars on the back, then slid his fingers to Stephen's wrist. The scars continued. Tony then moved over the long sleeves, pressing down a bit to make sure he was felt. He squeezed on Stephen's thin shoulders, gauging his reaction.
Outside his field of view, Brennan licked Bedisa, snake-like tongue trailing over feathers.
Tony moved one hand to Stephen's cheek, gently tracing the prominent cheekbone. The sorcerer closed his eyes, but didn't seem overwhelmed, so Tony didn't move any further and just let him assimilate the experience, relax his muscles...
"Can I kiss you?" Tony suddenly asked. Stephen's eyes snapped open, but he didn't step away. "Please tell me I wasn't misreading."
"You weren't," he assured as he leaned down. "I thought I was mishearing."
Tony met him halfway. The kiss was slow and gentle, a careful brush of the lips. Stephen's hands migrated to Tony's shoulders, making the engineer press closer.
Still, the sorcerer abruptly broke the kiss, taking a step back. Tony leaned forward, but didn't follow him.
"I really like you," he said instead, like a call. Stephen nodded.
"I like you too. I just..." Stephen shook his head. "Would you even like me like this?"
"This." He gestured to himself, then his daemon. "Me. I'm broken, Tony. Damaged. Look at me. I-"
"I'm looking," Tony stated, interrupting him. "You're perfect." Stephen laughed drily. "Let me prove it to you."
"How, Tony? How can you show me when I won't even let you touch me? When even the thought of holding your hand makes my skin crawl?" Stephen waved away the Cloak. "I want to believe you. I want to believe that I can... be liked by someone, at the very least, but... How?"
"I guess you'll just have to trust me on that." Tony sighed. "Can you do that? You trusted me to touch you. Can you trust me again?"
Stephen nodded, looking down.
Bedisa rubbed herself against Brennan's head.
"Can't believe that asshole is late again," Clint complained, spinning in his chair. "No offence, doc, but if even you're here, then Tony is waaay too late."
"None taken," Stephen assured. "He is quite late. Friday?"
"Boss is stabilizing a new element."
"Tell him to come over."
"He has been ignoring me for the past two hours."
Stephen rolled his eyes and looked at Brennan.
The daemon stood up and left. Everyone was speechless.
"You let Tony touch your daemon?"
"Ah, no. But I figured seeing him would be chastising enough."
Rhodey shrugged. Dhriti couldn't get that far from him.
Five minutes later, Fury finally lost his patience and began without Tony.
"Doctor Strange, you said you had a new type of enemy to show us."
"Yes." The sorcerer stood up and went to the board.
He looked smaller without his daemon, Natasha mused. There was an undercurrent of arrogance to him, but he wasn't dangerous or repulsive, just a bit intimidating. His clothes were weird, but most of their group was strange enough for him to fit in.
"Now, these creatures are very dangerous in groups, but-"
He stopped abruptly when an explosion rocked the building. Everyone stood up.
"Tony!" Rhodey and Bruce immediately ran off to check on the inventor.
Natasha turned to check in with Fury, only to find herself distracted. The ex director had managed to catch an unconscious Stephen Strange just before he would have hit the floor.
Tony was... a reasonable degree of fine. He had some mild burns and bruises, but he would live. Brennan, on the other hand, had taken the brunt of the explosion. Bruce and his lemur were immediately on the bigger daemon, trying to tend to his wounds.
"Tony, you're fine," Rhodey assured. "You're okay." The engineer shook his head in response. Bedisa was croaking loudly, sounding more like she was wailing.
"I think I just killed Stephen."
Stephen came to slowly, like he was swimming against a tide. His body was heavy and he felt that he was hurt, but there was no pain. Painkiller? No, he was a different kind of numb, like a part of him was missing, but should be hurting. He couldn't remember what had happened. One moment he'd been explaining those stupid magical bugs to the Avengers, then nothing.
His eyes somehow opened. He was in the med bay, hooked up to an iv.
"Hey." Tony's voice.
The engineer helped him take a sip, talking.
"Wong said you'd heal Brennan when you woke up. I... God, it was stupid. My new element was unstable so it blew up. Brennan took the brunt of the hit."
"You were late. We started without you, but I'd sent-" Stephen suddenly jumped up, swaying. Tony had to stabilize him, but the sorcerer had already noticed his daemon in a healing sphere nearby. "Help me up."
Tony obeyed, at first careful, but Stephen didn't care about physical contact at the time. His other half was hurt. He frantically staggered out of Tony's arms and knelt next to the sphere. He pressed his hands to it and closed his eyes, chanting.
The sphere glowed for a few moments, then broke. Brennan gently floated down, Stephen collapsing on top of him. He was trembling, but it didn't stop him from pulling himself up to check on his daemon, gently shaking him.
"Wake up, please. Brennan, please. Wake up. I need you. You're my better half! I need you..."
Tony averted his gaze, Bedisa lowering her beak. It was his fault. It had been his experiment.
Brennan shivered, making his human gasp. Stephen hugged Brennan close, sobbing in relief. The daemon whined weakly, wrapping a paw around his human.
After a few moments, Stephen pulled back, on his knees. Tony hesitated, but when Brennan stood up and walked away, he went to his boyfriend.
The sorcerer didn't answer. Tony went in front of him and extended his hands. He was nervous as hell. What if Stephen blamed him?
Bedisa landed next to Brennan and croaked once, for attention. The bigger daemon sat down and licked her, wrapping his paws around her before he whined.
"Hey," Stephen replied after a while, still looking down.
"How do you feel? Want me to help you back to bed?" Tony offered.
"I'm better. And no."
"Please talk to me." The sorcerer was distant, unreadable. "I'm worried."
"I'm..." Stephen lifted his head, eyes teary. "Yes. Bed."
Tony reached to help, but Stephen pulled him down, hugging him tight. The engineer gently squeezed him back, until he realized that Stephen was trembling.
"Hey, you're ok."
"Wong had cut us off," Stephen muttered.
"Wong had used magic to separate me and Brennan. To let me heal." So he could heal Brennan. It made sense.
"But you're back now, right?"
"Yeah." He sniffled once, then leaned back on his knees. "Yeah, we're back together."
Tony nodded, aware that the experience itself could be traumatizing.
"Let me help you to bed, baby."
Tony helped Stephen up. The sorcerer made a portal to his room at the sanctum. Their daemons rushed in, humans following and falling together in bed. Stephen cuddled close to Tony, sighing.
"Are you ok, Merlin?"
Bedisa curled around Brennan's head.
"I just need some rest," Stephen added.
"Okay. I'll be here."
Tony followed Stephen's lead for the pace of their relationship. That didn't mean he wasn't subtly pushing for more. So when Stephen woke him up with a kiss, he didn't hesitate before deepening it, arms wrapping around the other man. Stephen kissed him slowly, throughoutly, with purpose, making him moan. Then he pulled back.
"Stephen!" Tony complained.
"I... I want you to touch Brennan."
"Whenever you want."
Tony stood up, hesitating. Brennan quickly came to him. He'd honestly expected this moment to be a bit more dramatic, but Tony would take it.
"Are you sure?" He wasn't looking at Stephen as he asked. Bedisa landed on the sorcerer's shoulder. Tony extended his hand, letting Brennan make the choice.
The daemon briefly hesitated, then gently pressed his massive head on the engineer's callused hand.
The change was instant. Tony heard Stephen gasp from behind him. Brennan's tense form seemed to relax a bit, moving closer to lay his head on Tony's lap, who began rubbing his mane. A heavy weight fell to his back.
"Stephen?" Tony asked when a pair of hands settled loosely on his hips. "Hey-"
"I'm good," Stephen breathed out. "Really good." Bedisa was rubbing his head with her beak, mussing his hair.
Tony smiled, rubbing along the huge daemon's neck and moving down, to his torso. Brennan kept leaning more and more into him, obviously relaxed. Tony was flattered to be allowed to touch. He let Bedisa touch others all the time, but others rarely returned the favour so he could now indulge himself. He only paused when Stephen moaned lightly against his back.
Stephen reached over to pet his daemon himself. Their hands met over the short fur, fingers intertwining.
"Hmm?" he rumbled against his lover's back.
"You ok, Merlin?"
"More than ok." He took a deep breath. "Thank you."
"And, as I was saying..." Steve hesitated. "I don't know how to take you seriously." He wildly gestured towards Stephen. Truth be told, the normally stoic sorcerer had a raven on his head. Bedisa seemed to have nested there. His fluffy hair, a bit longer than Tony's, made for a perfect spot.
"Then don't," Tony said, chuckling when his boyfriend kicked him under the table.
Stephen shook his head a bit, but the raven croaked, holding strong.
"She won't move," he stated monotonously. "Please proceed."
"Ok..." Steve sighed, continuing. It seemed like just the previous day Stephen had yelled at him, imposing daemon roaring in his face. They'd both moved on from that, but synchronizing that man with the one who had a bird nesting on his head was challenging his imagination.
Tony winked at his sorcerer, who fondly touched the feathered daemon on his head, making her human shiver.
"... great teamwork..."
Brennan stirred, dislodging the kookaburra on his back.
"... and I think we're done here. Doctor?"
"We're good. No new mystical threats."
"Ok. Thank you all for coming."
Tony rubbed behind Brennan's ears, grinning when Stephen closed his eyes in pleasure, then pulled his lover to his private floor, daemons following eagerly. Despite Stephen's complaints, Brennan was leading the charge.
"Think they'll last?" Rhodey asked the others.
All the spies seemed optimistic, so he figured he had to start getting along with Strange.