"You have the makings of a fine warrior, Stark!" Thor says, and slaps him on the back. Thor's beaming, so Tony supposes it's a friendly gesture, but he's known IEDs to have less of an impact.
"Thanks," he says, wheezing, and then fully registers what Thor said. "Hey, what do you mean, the makings of? I'm an excellent warrior! Pepper, tell him how awesome I am."
"Uh huh," Pepper says, not bothering to look up from her Blackberry. No doubt she's involved in something trivial and boring, like the financial restructuring of Stark Industries. Tony does not feel validated.
"I get no respect," he tells Thor. "No respect at all."
"A true leader earns the respect of his followers," Thor says. It's a little like being lectured by a very earnest golden retriever puppy. "The Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, they choose to follow me only because I have proven myself worthy to wield the mighty Mjolnir!" He brandishes his war hammer over his head and almost takes out a light fixture; as it is, several of the ceiling tiles are dented. Tony represses a sigh; he's pretty sure Fury's going to make him pay for them.
"That is... very touching," Tony says dryly, sticking his hands into his pockets. "Really. I'll totally bear that in mind the next time Pepper organises a team morale boosting day."
Pepper does look up from her phone at that. One eyebrow arches upwards. "Tony Stark, you know I'd never arrange anything that tacky."
"Take it back," Pepper says, "or I'll tweet those photos of you. And yes, before you say anything, you know which photos I mean."
"You have the mind of a true Machiavelli, Potts," Tony murmurs in genuine admiration.
"Thank you," Pepper says demurely, that serene, Madonna smile on her face meaning that Tony should no doubt be on his best behaviour for the next few days—or else. "Why don't I go see if the others are ready? You two can just continue... strategising." She clicks out of the room on perilously high heels before Tony can stop her, which is probably a sign that she needs yet another raise. Lots of people have said that Tony isn't very self-aware—hell, some people have written editorials in the Wall Street Journal about it—but he knows enough about himself to revere anyone who can just slip around him that effortlessly.
Thor scoffs a little as the door closes behind Pepper. Tony doesn't think he's ever actually seen a person scoff before outside of a nineteenth century novel, but somehow Thor pulls it off. "Your Miss Potts is too cautious, man. What need do we have for strategy when right is on our side? What foe can stand against us when we band together as true warriors?" He thumps Tony on the back again, but this time Tony is braced for it; he only staggers a step or two.
"Uh, in this instance, I think actually we need it a lot," Tony says. "What with the whole, you know, potential end of the world type thing that's—"
"You worry too much!" Thor interjects, spreading his arms wide. "Where is your courage?"
"Usually at the bottom of a bottle of twenty year old Glenfiddich, actually."
Tony wouldn't have thought it possible for the man's face to light up even more, but now he's practically glowing. "Now that's what we need! Some ale and some mead to lift our spirits! Battle song and brotherhood, eh? Come, we shall fetch Loki and go in search of some of this Glenfiddich of yours."
"Uh," Tony says. He's met Thor's little brother once, briefly. The whole experience was uncomfortably like sitting across a table from a malevolent, scheming cat that's evolved to have opposable thumbs and superpowers and isn't afraid to use them. "That mightn't be such a good idea. His... hair sort of frightens me." As excuses go, it's hardly the best, but he's under pressure here and it's true that the long, lank slick of Loki's hair doesn't make the best first impression. That's even without considering the ridiculous helmet that Loki wears most of the time—Tony knows that the long curves protruding from it are supposed to be horns, but they look oddly like rabbit ears. They give him ill-timed flashbacks to the time he picked up a bunch of cos players at a convention held at a Stark Industries-owned hotel and had almost been kicked out of his own property for indecent behaviour.
"Nonsense!" Thor says. "A man's virility only increases with the length of his hair! No wonder you Earth men needed my help. You should let your hair grow, Stark—it will aid you in your attempt to become a true warrior."
"Uh huh," Tony says.
"Also," Thor says helpfully, and apparently totally earnestly, "many more maidens will wish to fornicate with you."
"Okay!" Tony blurts out, because despite what Rhodey and Pepper and... okay, a lot of people may think of him, he has no desire to discuss his apparent sexual inadequacy with a Norse god. "Let's go see about getting you and me drunk, huh?"
"I would be delighted to quaff ale with you, my friend!" Thor says. Then he places his hammer down on the conference table—and really, Tony's got to introduce him to Freudian theory because there's no way a guy wields something that size in public without having some deep-rooted sense of inadequacy going on; or at least, a deep-rooted love of phallic symbolism—takes a step forward and hugs Tony. Or at least, Tony assumes that's what he's aiming for. It's a lot like being attacked by one of those giant snakes in the Amazon that kill by squeezing the life out of people, only Thor radiates heat like a furnace and there's a rumbling coming from deep in his chest, as if he's purring with happiness. Tony feels his feet leave the ground.
"I'm very glad to have returned to Midgard," Thor says when he deposits Tony back on the ground once more. "Your people are most welcoming!"
"Sure," Tony says, taking a deep breath and discreetly trying to check for cracked ribs, "you betcha."
He has a strong feeling that tonight is going to be a tequila night.