Where is Tony?
Where was Tony Stark?
That was that main question that the Ex-Vengers were always asking themselves. This wasn't because the man had vanished off the face of the earth. No, he was always around. The face of the New Avengers. Leading beside Captain Marvel with an ease that Steve wished he could have had with the man. So, yeah Tony was around and active but at the same time...he wasn't.
What happened, you see, was the Rogues were brought back to the states by T'Challa. Only when it was clear there was going to be needed. The world would need all the help it could get. Yet, it was clear the countries affected by the Civil War had not forgotten what happened a couple years ago. They would hold off on their justice for now. When this was all over was another story.
That was fine. The former Avengers were confident they would be able to face the charges placed against them. Their trump card is Tony Stark and his team of lawyers. So they thought at least. They didn't think the chasm between Stark and themselves was that big. Yeah, they didn't like him all that much but they were still teammates. They also felt like Tony had to help them. This mess could have been avoided if he hadn't signed the Accords. Well, were they ever wrong...
After the initial 'welcome back' which was more like an 'oh, you're here', they never saw the man again. Okay, that was a lie. They saw him from a distance but never got to interact with him. He didn't stay at the Compound which made their lives difficult. They couldn't just go to his room. No matter what Steve, Natasha or even Clint had tried. Steve was no longer considered the Avengers Team Leader, so no one on the new team listened to him. Natasha couldn't sneak up on the man because he was always with someone. Clint tried pushing his way through one time which ended in disaster.
Their newer members didn't have any better luck. Scott was not allowed to touch the Ant-man suit unless it was for training or battle. Pym and Van Dyne taking it back as soon as they were able to. Wanda had made mention of trying to get his attention with her powers. Not entering his mind but trying to affect the items around him. Yet, whenever her powers got close, they would be blasted away. One time was fairly violent, landing her on her ass. Sam was the only one who seemed to have the bright idea about trying to catch Tony on his way in or out of the building. It was clear he wasn't staying in the New Compound. So he would have to leave.
So, with that plan in mind, the Rogues scouted out all the doors to the Compound. Of course, there were more doors than there were people to watch them. FRIDAY was not helpful in the least, seeing as she was still looking after her Boss and wouldn't aid them at all. So that had to try to figure out which doors to watch. Eliminating what they thought were obviously the wrong choices like the garden doors. It left them with the front door, back door, landing pad entryway and the garage door. There were the emergency exits as well but those were triggered to set off an alarm if used. If Tony used those they would have stumbled upon him. Not because he set them off but trying to disable them.
Making the plan and putting it into action was one thing. Getting results...that was another.
Tony still managed to get inside the Compound even with them watching the doors. This happened every day. Leaving nearly as easy too and no one ever caught him. The group was stumped. How? How was Stark managing to do this?
They didn't get an answer until a few weeks later. By now, they had long given up watching the doors. For some reason, they were thinking the answer laid within Stark's Lab at the compound. Of course, he wasn't there and they didn't see anything out of the ordinary either. Least, not from the windows, they were not allowed inside the Lab and didn't even have access to it. As they were leaving, something strange caught their attention.
It was shining gold that seemed alive as it created a circle shape. A portal of some kind. Stepping out of the portal and into the Lab was Doctor Stephen Strange. He looked around for a second and didn't seem to take notice of them outside the window. That was not true as the man was very observant. The Rogues couldn't help but smirk. If Strange thought he could find Stark here, he was wrong. There was some sense of satisfaction that came from knowing Stark didn't even trust his new allies with his location.
That wasn't true though...
The Sorcerer turned around and seemed to be speaking to someone behind him. They couldn't see who he was talking to because of the angle of the portal. That changed when Strange reached into the portal and pulled through Tony Stark. After a brief exchange and some wavy hand gesture that ended with a kiss on the forehead, before the Sorcerer disappeared and Stark started working. Completely ignoring the ones outside his window.
That is how it was being done!? He was getting portal-ed into work every day. Well shit. No wonder they haven't caught up with him. Now, it was more obvious than ever they were being made fools of. This new team was keeping Stark away from them, that they knew. They didn't think they would be going to this extent though. Did Tony even know what they were doing? Not letting him deal with his own mess? This was his fault after all.
So, they began heading to the Tower one day, obviously, that was where Stark had Strange take him. That had to be it. Yet, when they tried to gain access to the Tower it was revoked. Too soon afterward Colonel Danvers showed up taking them back to the Compound. They were not to be outside of the Compound...so if Stark was in the Tower they wouldn't be able to get to him. Yet, from what they heard...he hasn't been to the Tower in weeks. Least not according to New Avengers.
The Tower was being remodeled and the living areas were currently unlivable. Not that stopped Tony from living in his workshop there but he had to be sleeping somewhere. He looked too healthy for that. Like he was actually sleeping and eating properly. Least there was one good thing that came from this war. It was a burn to realize that it was not because of them he was getting better. That was shot down by Carol as soon as it passed through Steve's head. It was because of his new team that actually cared for him. That burned.
Thinking of any other places that could check came up empty. Where else could he be? There was no Malibu Mansion anymore so he wouldn't be there. His childhood home was still an option but Steve knew with how he reacted to the video...there was little chance the man was there. He wouldn't have wanted to be surrounded by the mementos of his dead family. Not yet anyway. The way he was acting was proof of this. He still wasn't over Siberia.
Frustrated, they all spent time doing something to relax. Steve hit the gym. Clint and Natasha would frequent the shooting range. Wanda would stay in her room using her powers to move thing around as she tried to keep it together. Sam and Scott made use of their time with talk and research. They were all trying to figure out what to do. They needed to talk to Stark. How were they supposed to get him to fix the mess he caused!? He owed them that much. Right?
The rest of the Compound didn't seem to agree.
"Do you think they'll ever figure it out?" Tony asked Stephen as he leaned into the Sorcerer's chest.
"Honestly?" Stephen asked drawing his arms around the engineer to keep the man in place, "No, they seem to think you can't live without any form of technology. They would never suspect that you would be living with me. Not that I at all mind."
Stephen's place was obviously devoted to Magic so there was no massive amount of tech there. Tony may not have understood magic, in fact, he feared it to a great extent. Yet, the billionaire was okay with Stephen using it and explaining it to him the best he could. It was because he knew Stephen wouldn't hurt him. Any other time magic had been involved with his life it had been to hurt him. The mage understood that. He didn't hold it against Tony like almost everyone else had. His old team anyway.
When it became clear that the Ex-Vengers would be back, Tony had a panic attack on the spot. Still not over what had happened to him because of them. He had to come clean about everything that happened to the New Avengers. He did with some coaxing but when they heard what all happened, the group was shocked. What stung though was Tony didn't think they would believe him. The genius had proof but still thought they would have taken Captain America's side. They didn't.
It was then the New Avengers tried to come up with a plan to make sure Tony wouldn't be left alone with anyone from the former team. Tony was more than a little confused on why. As if he was never on the receiving end of care before. His bewildered face only proved this. There were Rhodes, Potts, and Hogan but that was it.
The Compound was easy to take care of. Someone would have to tag along with Tony everywhere. Not that this was too much of a problem. The genius had things to do all over the Compound with different people. Trading him off to someone else would be easy and not disrupt their own work flow either. Planning out their courses would be predictable but with so many of them? The Rogues wouldn't push too much of their luck.
The problem was where Tony could stay. Obviously, the Compound would not be the best place. If he used his room there, it could be broken into. The Tower was okay but the group would definitely look for him there. They had to think outside the box. That was when Stephen offered up his place. They were dating so it made sense in the long run. No one outside their group knew it either. Besides a kiss on the cheek or forehead could be seen as something to do with his spells to the non-practitioner. Stephen did place a protection ward on Tony after hearing about Maximoff...so it could be plausible.
Both men had fallen into the relationship not thinking much would come of it. It was purely a physical attraction at first. As time went on both men found themselves falling into a routine around each other. Tony had managed to even out his schedule when Stephen came along. He felt more alive than he had in the recent years. Sleeping next to the other man aided in keeping his nightmares at bay, leaving him well rested the next day. Stephen found a challenging but open mind in Tony. The genius with boundless questions. There was also part of him that still clung to his time as a practicing doctor and knew the other man needed to be cared for. It couldn't be anyone though, it had to be someone as stubborn as billionaire himself. If not more so.
Stephen couldn't stay around Tony 24/7. They both had work to do but by the end of the day, the Sorcerer could portal them both away. They put this into practice about a week before the other group came back. It flowed well and became part of their routine with only a few hiccups. They were more determined to keep an eye on Iron Man and the former Avengers than they thought. When they realized the damage the group could do without any restraints, it was terrifying. All focused on only one man too. That part was sickening.
"Well...I mean my tablet and cell phone are still tech," the genius replied, "I can still do my work here. I just need to go to either the Compound or Tower to make the plans reality. That all. Not what I am used to but I can adapt."
"Yet, it is not a wall to wall workshop, my dear," Stephen whispered into the other man's ear causing him to shudder. The one of magic smirked to himself as Tony shuffled all the closer. Tony loved having Stephen hold him. It made him feel safe. Something that he was not accustomed to. Yet, Stephen willing did so and seemed to enjoy it too.
The two were on Stephen's bed cuddling. Where they had most of their conversations. The second most common place was the kitchen. It had been a long day for both of them, so they didn't talk much in the kitchen. They just ate quickly and headed into the bedroom to change and talk. Anything beyond lazy kisses and cuddles would have to wait till another time. Right now they were debating on whether the old team would ever figure out where Tony was being hidden. They knew the new team was behind it but so far...they haven't connected the dots. Stephen found the whole thing amusing and Tony was happy for the support.
Everyone by now knew that the old team expected Tony to fix everything for them like he had before. The new team wasn't going to let that happen though. Tony was only allowed to work on things for his permanent team. Not the ones that when this ends will be sought after by the countries they had wronged on personal agendas. Once the hammer starts coming down, they will try to run. The New Avengers won't let that happen either.
Still...thinking further than that was too much to think about tonight. Too much for the future. Too much from the past. All that truly mattered was the present. Right now, Stephen had his hands around one of the most beautiful and brilliant men in the world. Unlike those before him, he would not squander such a gift. Now if only he had more time to cherish it than he currently had.
"Time for bed, my dear," the Sorcerer whispered to the billionaire. It was high time for both of them to rest. They had too much on their plate as of late. The up and coming threat keeping them both apart with preparations. It made them both change schedules so they could have time together. No matter how little it was. Tony nodded in agreement, sleep would do them both good.
Stephen turned Tony's face toward him with a gentle force. Pressing a soft kiss to his lips, the Sorcerer maneuvered them both to a lying position. The genius complying with no complaints, snuggling into the mage's chest. Knowing he was safe there. The sheets were pulled up around them and the caress of fabric on their cheeks told them of their silent watch. The cloak would watch over them.
As their breathing evened out, they drifted further into comfortable darkness. Neither concerned for anything else but the other in their reach. In time their secret wouldn't be that anymore. The old team would figure out what was going on between them soon enough. It wasn't like they would have to answer for anything, the old team's opinions mattered little to them. It was only going to be a headache when the time came. Till then, they would enjoy their secret a day longer and every day that followed.