Stephen ambled down the Sanctum's halls, still in his pajamas with a silk robe tied loosely around his waist. Last night had been rough, from a massive attack by the Sinister Six to hours of drinking at a charity event, he was certainly exhausted. Somehow, his feet led him the right way, through the foyer, around three corners, down a hall, and into the kitchen. When he got close, he could smell something absolutely delicious wafting through the air.
"Wong?" He called, stepping into the room.
His best friend and partner in crime was waiting for him, stirring away at a pan with headphones on. He didn't move much to the music but his foot was tapping and he was humming under his breath. Stephen watched, awestruck, as Wong dumped the contents of his pan onto a plate and laid it on the table. When he finally noticed Stephen, he managed a small smile.
"Good morning." He spoke up, turning to the sink.
"What uh. Good morning, I mean-- what's all this?"
"Did all that alcohol make you forget what breakfast is?"
Stephen balked but made his way to the table. His beloved Cloak slipped off his shoulders, still in the form of a silk robe, and kindly pulled his seat out for him. Stephen muttered a gentle 'thank you' as he sat. There was oatmeal with fruit and brown sugar, an omelette with cheese, peppers, and sausage, a petite fruit salad, crumpets slathered with butter and jam, a tall cup of coffee, a cup of orange juice, and a few strips of bacon.
"Why...?" Stephen asked again, eyes wide.
Wong leaned in, a tenderness shining in his eyes. He pressed a soft kiss into Stephen's messy hair, giving him a playful wink.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Strange."
Metro-General Hospital was busy as always, traffic pouring into and out of the building nonstop. People came in with everything from the flu to a minor sprain, a major fraction to anaphylactic shock. At least one patient came in comatose, multiple having been in the same accident.
Christine reveled in her five minute break. As much as she loved her work, today was far too busy for to both keep up and remain sane. Grabbing her drink from the vending machine, she chugged half of it in one gulp, letting out an exhausted sigh.
"Doctor Palmer, to the front desk, Doctor Palmer, to the front desk."
Christine swallowed thickly. She couldn't be in trouble, she was too well-behaved. Did another onslaught of patients need her expertise? Binning the remainder of her drink, she took off down the halls, caught the elevator, and made her way to the front.
"I hope I didn't interrupt."
Stephen Strange was there, waiting for her, a small box in one hand and a slim bouquet of roses in the other. She slowed her pace, confusion and conflict visible on her face.
"I thought you deserved a proper break," Stephen explained, shrugging nonchalantly. "It is Valentine's Day after all."
"What if I say no?" Christine replied, hands set defiantly on her hips.
"Then I'll leave these with you and be on my way."
Christine dragged her gaze between Stephen's outstretched hands and his face. He was such a different man now, kind, warm, genuine. She took the gifts, tucking the bouquet into her elbow (lilies, her favorite) and fumbling with the box. She opened it and gasped. It was a watch, hung on a chain. Its face was shattered, it's leather band cut off, little dents and bumps etched into the metal backing. When she turned it over, her heart clenched.
Time will tell how much I love you; Christine
"I hope it brings you peace of mind as it has for me all these years." Stephen spoke softly.
"Oh, Stephen," Christine gushed, a single tear rolling down her cheek. "I. I can't. It's--"
"Dinner? Please, it's been so long and you deserve to be spoiled a bit."
Christine clasped the chain around her neck. The watch was a little heavy but sat perfectly against her collar. She ran her finger along its face, tracing every crack and uneven seam.
"Dinner... Sounds lovely."
"Are you sure this is the right place?" Stephen pulled his coat tighter around himself. "When you described a fun trip, I wasn't expecting alien slums, no offense."
"None taken," Thor beamed, leading the way. "I was told by a very reliable companion that this place is real and genuine. Trust me."
"I do." Stephen sighed through his nose, though a small smile lingered on his lips.
Thor's hand was tight and warm around his, leading the sorcerer through throngs of interdimensional beings and an array of alien kind. It felt like Detroit, cold and filthy and sad. Stephen had been aching for a break of sorts and, while he knew Thor wouldn't lead him astray, he felt the claws of anxiety beginning to scrape down his heart.
"Aha! Here we are!"
"Thor, this is a brothel."
Thor flushed, eyes wide, lips pressed firmly together. The building was a garish pink, all sorts of feminine beings idling at the entrance in a variety of slinky clothing.
"It's... Advertising." Thor countered.
"Yes. For a brothel."
Puffing out his chest, the Asgardian pushed onward. He reached the door, knocking with confidence. A partition slid back, exposing three pairs of eyes accompanied by a hoarse gravelly voice.
"Are ya here for paradise?" It questioned.
"Yes, we are."
The eyes looked them up and down before the partition slid shut and the door flew open.
Inside was a scene straight from Stephen's dreams. Everything was a soft pale green, baths and massage chairs and saunas filling the open space within. People ambled around in towels, sipping at brightly colored drinks, soaking in crystal blue water and inhaling sweetly scented steam.
"Oh, wow." Stephen gaped, one hand tucked into the crook of Thor's arm.
"Do you like it? I know you've been working hard and since it's the Midgardian day of love..."
Stephen looked up to Thor, a goofy grin spread across his face. He craned his neck, pressed a kiss against his jaw.
"Thank you," Stephen said, leaning against his partner. "I love it."
"Yeah, chill out, you'll mess up your hair!"
"Don't squeeze the bouquet too hard!"
"Who forgot the chocolates?"
"Will you all calm down?!" Logan grit his teeth, trying his best to remain relaxed. "Quit freaking out, it's. Gonna be fine."
"You don't sound so sure, dude."
"Yeah, well," He sniffled loudly, readjusting his tie. "You guys are stressing me."
"Oh! There it is!"
The students of Xavier's institute raced down the mansion's gravel driveway as a familiar ring of crackling fizzling light opened a few feet away. Dr.Strange waltzed out, immediately jumped by a throng of chittering children.
"Wow, I really like your coat!"
"Are you here for Logan?"
"Guys, guys, relax!" Stephen laughed, powerless as someone latched onto his arm and a few others pushed at his back. "What's the rush? What's going on?"
"Uh, hullo, Stephen."
Logan stood at the mansion's doors, a bouquet of red roses in one hand and a heart-shaped box in the other. He looked dashing in a dark blue waistcoat and matching slacks, a golden tie sat at his throat. Someone had attempted to tame his wild mane but no avail.
"Wow," Stephen grinned, looking him over. "You look spectacular."
"It wasn't my idea," Logan rumbled, rolling his eyes. "I was pretty much held hostage by the kids."
Stephen looked back over his shoulder at a dozen or so smiling faces. He huffed a laugh, shaking his head.
"Well, they have excellent taste."
"Do you uh. Wanna get out of here?" Logan quirked his brow, still looking a little uneasy. "I know its early but uh places tend to get real busy on Valentine's Day and--"
"Hey," Stephen laid his hand on Logan's shoulder, squeezing gently. "I don't care, as long as I'm with you."
He leaned in closer, their lips meeting in a soft kiss. Stephen stroked his thumb along Logan's cheek, breathing in the smell of cheap cologne and chocolate. When he pulled back, Logan was finally smiling.
"Does that mean I can take this shit off?"
Stephen tipped his head back and cackled.
"What kind of surprise could be so intense, you had to blindfold me?" Stephen finally spoke, fingers prodding at the bandana around his eyes.
"Hey now, don't you dare," Steve replied, gently prying his hand away. "It's special, have some faith in me."
Stephen groaned. As much as he loved Steve, he was sick of stubbing his toes on every other step. The man might be a great team leader but he was pretty horrible at leading Stephen around. Finally, Steve stopped. There was a rattling of keys and the telling click of a door opening. He wound his fingers around Stephen's shoulders, steering him into the exact perfect spot.
"Alright, take it off."
The blindfold fell away and Stephen let out a surprised laugh. Steve's humble little apartment had been decked out in all sorts of Valentine's Day decor. Pink and red streamers were draped around the room, pink and red balloons sitting in every corner. Steve's beloved little cactus had a friend now, sat beside a reddish pink succulent. The couch's pillows were pink and red and a few romantic comedies sat in their cases, strewn across the coffee table.
"What's this all about?" Stephen beamed, his brows drawn in.
"Well," Steve folded his hands, looking almost shy. "I know you're always so busy and stressed out so I thought a nice casual date would. Y'know. Work well."
Stephen picked up a few of the movies. Love Actually. Crazy, Stupid, Love. The Proposal.
"Mamma Mia?" Stephen snickered.
"Clint and Tony gave me the names, I uh. Y'know. I wouldn't know what's good."
Setting down the movies, Stephen made his way back to Steve, a delighted smile on his lips. He draped his arms around Steve's shoulders, pulling him in close.
"I ordered pizza, too," Steve's voice got quiet, baby blue eyes downcast. "I hope you don't mind it's not that fancy, I thought--"
Stephen silenced him with a kiss, slow and warm and languid. He sighed as two strong warm hands rose to cradle his shoulders, holding him tight.
"It's perfect," Stephen gushed when they broke apart. "But I'm gonna have to grill your movie choices, it's my duty."
"Hey, I don't mind," Steve replied, chuckling. "It's a learning experience, I can handle that."
Stephen let his head fall back. He wanted another glass of wine but knew one more would drop him from tipsy to properly drunk and he wasn't quite sure yet which one he wanted. Dinner sat warm and full in his stomach, steak and potatoes and bruschetta and lobster. He could still taste champagne and chocolate mousse on his lips. Loosening his tie, he unbuttoned his dress shirt, toeing off his shoes as he settled deeper into the couch. Suddenly, something obscured his view. Two warm hands curled over his eyes, callused and familiar.
"Another movie?" Tony inquired, his voice a little slurred. "Or maybe it's time to retire."
"That's a little severe," Stephen quipped. "I'm not that washed up yet, am I?"
Tony snickered, dropping his head to press his skin against Stephen's. They stayed like that for a while, breathing each other in. Stephen could feel the whisper of kisses against his hair, long his temples, the subtle scruff of a goatee. He was tired but happy and unsure of what he wanted next.
"I have a third box of chocolates if you want."
Stephen groaned. He definitely didn't want that.
"How are you supposed to make tender romantic Valentine's love to me if I'm about to puke?" Stephen argued, sticking out his tongue.
"Okay, gross, point taken," Tony replied, finally pulling his hands back. "What do you want then?"
Stephen glanced at the clock, out the window, admiring the night sky, before looking down at his hand and the silver band sat upon his finger. He tilted his head back to meet Tony's eyes, grinning with adoration in his voice.
"I want one more glass of wine, and I want you."
Tony exhaled, his face unreadable. Craning his neck for a tender kiss, he moved to pour one last glass. When he passed it over, their fingers touched.
"Finish that up," Tony crooned, his eyes lidded with desire. "And meet me in the bedroom."
He left with a wink and Stephen closed his eyes, drinking slowly. He didn't want the night to end. Not yet.