There were many things Tony Stark could handle, and pain was one of them… but this? This was not something he signed up for. The aching in his chest was no longer only caused by his now shattered sternum.
His suit was offline. In Siberia. How could Ca-…Rogers…leave him here? What were the other Avengers thinking? Had Rogers told them what he’d done? It didn’t matter. They were clearly on Steve’s side, no matter what they said.
How could they not see that Tony was only trying to help? Tony could feel his heart closing off to the emotional anguish. His team. They didn’t care about him. Never did. He wasn’t important. Why would anyone care about a screw-up?
Pepper...Rhodey…Peter…Oh God…Peter… Was he okay? May was going to kill him. Wait. He was already dyin-…dead…he was already dead. The world didn’t need a mentally unstable Iron Man anymore…
These were Tony’s last thoughts as he drifted from his barely conscious state into oblivion.
There was a terrible pain in Stephen Strange’s chest. Nothing he did seemed to soothe the ache in his soul. He stood looking out of the New York Sanctum’s window, pressing circles over his heart, hoping to ease the pain away. Nothing his brilliant mind came up with could sensibly explain why, all of a sudden, he pictured frightened chocolate eyes in his mind whenever he closed his own blue ones.
There must’ve been some reason for the pain and images, and Stephen would be damned before he believed they were coincidences. You didn’t just spontaneously daydream about someone you’ve never met, let alone see their eyes in such detail, for no reason.
‘The multiverse is rarely so lazy.’ Stephen thought as he continued the circular motions. There was a dull, inconsistent throbbing in his sternum as if someone was pounding on it with a hammer to no apparent rhythm. Levi, as he affectionately named the Cloak of Levitation, was now tapping him on the shoulder, asking Stephen to follow him.
As Stephen followed Levi down to the base of the stairs, he saw Wong, his best friend, standing there with a concerned expression.
“Stephen. We have known each other for quite some time,” Wong said, “I know when something is troubling you, my friend.”
Stephen sighed. Now was as good a time as ever, he supposed. As he sat down, so did Wong. Then…he began to recount his problem to his closest friend. After half an hour, three cups of tea (with honey of course), and a couple of mild gasps of pain from Stephen, Wong decided to speak his piece.
“Ah, I believe I know the cause of your pain, Stephen,” Wong replied as he tried his best to keep the smug smile off of his face. His friend had been a loner since the accident, not seeking help or friendship. The news Wong had for him would either change everything or drive him into an even more secluded part of his mind.
“Well? I don’t have all day, Wong!” Stephen cried desperately. Future Stephen would deny any and all suggestions of said response existing.
“Stephen. You are the Sorcerer Supreme. With all you have read, I am sure you can recall some of what I am about to tell you.” Wong stated simply. “Every Sorcerer Supreme has a great weight on their shoulders, Stephen. Sometimes it is too much for one person to bear, other times they have been able to stand on their own. However, fate does not want the possibility of a Sorcerer Supreme that cannot handle the power and responsibility. To counteract this threat, it was determined by fate itself, that every Sorcerer Supreme was to have a second half. A soulmate if you will.” Wong continued. “Stephen, you have only recently become the Sorcerer Supreme. The ache in your heart is quite literally an ache in your soul. Fate has decided you are ready to meet your mate.” Wong finished.
Stephen sat there in silence for a total of three minutes before eloquently replying, “What?” Externally, Stephen was calm and collected. His internal demeanor was an entirely different story, however.
‘A soulmate? Me? Who could possibly want to be with me? Scratch that. Who in their right mind would even consider me as loveable?!’ Stephen took a deep breath, wincing as the pain he’d been experiencing came back with a tidal wave of force. Suddenly, an image flashed in his mind. It was the same pair of frightened eyes, only this time, there was a face to go with them. It was a man, probably in his mid-forties, was lying on a hard cement surface with a terrified look in his eyes. He had a goatee and short brown hair that looked incredibly soft to Stephen. He looked familiar like Stephen had seen him somewhere.
“Wong. I think my…soulmate…might be in trouble. Either right now or sometime soon.” Stephen gasped. Wong looked shocked. Clearly, the images Stephen was seeing were not pleasant, and given his accompanying pain, Wong could safely say that Stephen’s soulmate was in danger.
“Stephen, I need you to try and look around your soulmate. Where are they?” Wong prompted.
“Oh God! Wong, I think my soulmate is Tony Stark! He’s wearing something that looks like the Iron Man suit, but it’s not in good shape. I can’t tell.” Stephen whispered towards the end. Wong looked shocked but quickly reigned in his surprise for the sake of his friend. Right now, they needed to find Tony Stark…or his look alike.
“Picture him in your mind, Stephen. You know how the sling ring works. Trust your training. We will find your mate.” Wong calmly said.
Stephen pictured those cocoa eyes, usually so full of life, they were reduced to this look of absolute terror. He saw Tony’s face: his lips, his nose, his cheeks. Then Stephen imagined Tony in his Iron Man Suit. He continued to use this imagery until slowly, ever so slowly, a portal sparked to life. Stephen looked up from the pocket of air he’d been focused on, and his heart stopped. He let out a cry of anguish as his soul recognized its mate, and consequently, said mate’s condition. There was his soulmate. Battered. Bruised. Bleeding. The doctor in Stephen looked onto the scene in horror, before his soul decided his mind could play catchup later, as he launched himself through the portal.
The last thing Wong saw before the portal snapped shut was an image he will never forget. Stephen, the Sorcerer Supreme, was sobbing over the still form of Tony Stark.