When Mordo first arrived at the temple of Kamar-Taj, he could never seem to get warm. Even after the a long battle, or a short training session, there was still never enough heat to keep Mordo's body from shaking. Even after besting Strange (again) in a show of combat, Mordo still could not find a warm spark to hold onto.
"You're quite handsome you know," Strange said with a grin at the end of their match.
Mordo was never one to give into compliments. Not when he students were trying to coax and easier sparring session out of him, not when other masters were trying to persuade him into switching daily duties, or when Wong tried to help him clean the library. So, needless to say, Strange's attempt at flattery fell on deaf ears.
The pair had already finished the days sparring session, and Strange had completed the day flat on his ass after Mordo's well timed punch to his chin. Mordo had to admit, Strange was improving, but his physicality and presence was still lacking. He had much to learn.
Strange had a kind of flexibility to him, Mordo admitted that, but there was only so much a mortal's mind could comprehend. There were some forces in the multiverse that couldn't be tricked, or outsmarted. They needed to be dealt with. The best way around was a straight line, after all.
Mordo leant his hand to Strange and pulled the man up to his feet.
"I mean it though," Strange said again as he wiped the last specs of dirt from his cheek.
"Mean what?" Mordo aksed.
"You're handsome. And trust me, I'm from New York so I know a good looking guy when I see one."
Mordo tried not to roll his eyes, "Strange, perhaps it would be more beneficial if you focused more on your studies and less on-"
"Your good looks? Sorry, I can't really help it teach." Strange said with a smile.
Mordo just shrugged, and turned to walk back into the temple. Strange was in one of his moods, and Mordo did not have time. There were too many threats to the natural order that needed to be discovered. Kaecillius and his zealots were still at large. Strange's attempts at humor would have to wait for another day.
Mordo always found refuge in his isolation. It was only after the events of training, when the luster of the day had worn off, could Mordo really begin to understand his sense of place within the walls of cold Kamar-Taj. This temple always made Mordo feel like he was sitting in an ice box. Was it the breeze from the mountain tops that came from the north, or was it something else? Perhaps Mordo had lived too long amongst his relics and mystic scrolls. He was beginning to feel the cold, even by the warmth of the fire's glow.
Strange was not the first person to compliment him on his outward appearance. There had been students who lingered after class to stare at him. There had been the occasional comment, and side glance. Even The Ancient One had smiled once as he passed by her. But Strange was the first to comment openly about it.
Mordo shook his head. Just more foolishness to ignore. However, the evening when Mordo entered his room, instead of the dull gray of his walls, he was greeted by a vase of flowers. Little dandelions that floated in a vase too big for them. There petals were painted with frost and, even though their stems were hidden, Mordo could tell their roots were still firmly attached.
"Strange." Mordo sighed. No one else in the entire temple would think to enter another person's quarters without permission, and worse yet, no one else would dare leave a gift behind. Strange had no concept of boundaries. Every time Mordo, or Wong, or whoever else, presented Strange with a boundary Strange would cross it within hours. While Stephen's thirst for knowledge was commendable, his lack of respect was not.
"What, are you more of a rose guy?" Strange asked from behind Mordo's back. Mordo didn't even need to turn around. He could imagine Strange's face just fine. A worn out old mug, fresh from the baths. A loose smile across his face, and a wicked glint that made Mordo want to roll his eyes. Did women in New York find this attractive? Because, really, all Mordo could think about was all the time Strange was wasting, and how that much closer the world was to its destruction.
"Where did you get these?" Mordo asked.
"I just opened a quick portal and plucked them from some lady's greenhouse."
Figures, Mordo thought. "You really shouldn't use your magic so frivolously. There are consequences to every spell we cast. Each one-"
"I've heard that speech before Mordo," Stephen said as he crossed the threshold of Mordo's doorway. Strange didn't even wait for an invitation, but that was no longer surprising.
"I mean what I said, you know." Stephen crossed the divide between them, and Mordo still did not bother to turn around. Stephen's footsteps fell heavy, and clumsy against the wooden floor. Even Mordo had more sense than to allow his presence to be known so widely. A good sorcerer knows how to mask his comings and goings. Enemies are everywhere, after all.
"Strange," Mordo said, "I appreciate your compliment, but-"
Strange had crossed the divide with no hint of remorse or regret. "You're very handsome. Kind of like a prince of a far away kingdom."
Actually, Mordo was a Baron, but that was not information Strange needed to be privy to.
Stephen wrapped his arms around Mordo's waist, and squeezed. And Mordo, for all of his ironed discipline and strict boundaries, allowed the intrusion. Mordo allowed Strange's beard, which hadn't been kempt in months, to tickle his chin. Mordo allowed Strange's fingertips to brush against his chest, feel his shoulders roll, and trace an outline where his heart was.
"Man, you're such a dreamboat," Strange said without the hint of irony. Mordo may not know too much about America's ways, but he did know the word dreamboat wasn't used lightly….or at all really. But Stephen always had his own way of moving through the world, as did Mordo. To some men, rules simply could not hold their candor.
"Well, I thank you for the compliment." Mordo kept his words frank and clipped. There was no need to indulge in Stephen's curiosity too much.
And Stephen slowly dotted the nape of Mordo's neck with his lips. One gentle kiss after another. Pink lips against black skin. Unyielding strength decorated with an intimate flexibility. Stephen was pure flame, engulfing whatever he wished whenever he wished it. Mordo was pure stone. Reliable, unshakeable, strong in the face of whatever came his way. Two opposites that had no right to exist side by side. And yet here they were.
"Mordo?" Stephen whispered.
"Yes, Strange?" Mordo asked.
"Would you mind if I slept here tonight?"
And, even though it went against every inch of Mordo's own code, a teacher and pupil together in the same bed, Mordo could not bare to turn Strange away. "I suppose," Mordo said as he untangled himself from Strange's grasp. Mordo took his great hands, and cupped Stephen's chin. "But only for tonight."
And with a wave of Mordo's hand, the door to his quarters closed, keeping the chill of Kamar-Taj at bay, if only for one night.