Well, Tony thinks with a groan as he reaches up to cradle his pounding head, that could’ve gone a lot worse.
He could have ended up dead, for one thing, which is always a possibility when he carries through with these idiotic plans of his - Pepper would’ve had a fit if he’d told her about this one - or the Asgardians could have just left him on the battlefield, decided he wasn’t worth the trouble of bringing him back to camp, or he could have made it through the entire fight without taking a scratch, which, yes, is an outcome much to be desired normally, but absolutely useless in terms of Tony’s plan. Yeah, the idiotic one.
So really, the fact that he’s woken up lying in the dirt in the middle of the Asgardians’ encampment with heavy cuffs around his wrists means that everything’s going his way.
Though he probably should have considered bringing some aspirin with him, because ow.
His bare hands are freezing, fucking Russia, fucking winter, fucking winter in Russia, but they feel good as he presses his fingertips gently against the throbbing pulse in his temple, awkwardly thanks to the cuffs holding his wrists together. He still hasn’t opened his eyes but he can tell that these cuffs won’t be easy to slip, if their ridiculous weight is anything to go by. Solid metal, heavy, did he say they were heavy, and thick, covering at least two inches of wrist, nothing like the human handcuffs he’s practiced at getting out of, to have an extra safeguard when he lets people chain him down in the bedroom.
But now isn’t the time to be bitching about his less-than-stellar accommodations; he’s here for a reason, and that’s not it. Really, he doesn’t actually want to slip his cuffs.
No, Tony’s on a mission.
He has five days to collect as much data about the Asgardians as he can. Five days. He can survive whatever they throw at him for five days. He needs this, needs to know what they’re up against, since nobody who’s already done this has said a word.
Not one. Not during debriefings, even when the cameras are turned off, not under truth serum, or hypnosis, not with anything that SHIELD’s desperate enough to throw at them to make them talk, and Tony doesn’t want to think about how desperate SHIELD is right now. All of that, everything they’ve tried - Tony rocked up to one guy with a bottle of scotch and his best no-judgment face, and that didn’t fly either - something’s still holding them back.
But Tony needs to know the variables involved if he’s going to do anything about working this out. Tony needs information, and if he can’t get it from the people who know, he’ll just have to find out for himself.
Of course, he’s in violation of Fury’s orders to keep himself safe; Tony’s valuable, since his suits are nearly the only things that put a dent in the Asgardians. But Tony’s the last person on Earth to give a shit about Fury’s orders, and Fury should have seen this coming; he knows it’s not like Tony follows orders anyway. And maybe he did see it coming, after all. Frankly, given that the Iron Man plans are on file, he’d probably be pretty relieved if Tony didn’t get given back at the end of the week with everybody else.
But he will be. Probably. The Asgardians have returned four hundred and sixty-one of the four hundred and sixty-seven people they’ve taken, so all Tony has to do is make sure he keeps his head down just far enough that they don’t execute him for anything, play nice and notice everything he can, and get back to his lab and start making actual progress on beating these alien bastards.
Tony draws in a breath of cold, sharp air; it kicks him into gear, calm and alert, and he opens his eyes.
He’s lying on his back, staring upwards at what would be the sky if the Asgardians didn’t fuck around with things that shouldn’t be physically possible, like, say, shields of pure energy surrounding their camp. The shield looks different from the inside; all Tony’s ever seen of it is this giant gold bubble, shimmering and glowing and giving absolutely no legitimate readings to his sensors. From in here it’s tiny, so much smaller than the real arc of the sky that it’s ridiculous, like they’re trapped under a bowl or something. The shield’s transparent enough to see clouds drifting along in the real sky outside, and a slim crescent moon sitting about a foot above the horizon, just in Tony’s sight. Night and day, all mixed up into one glittering psychedelic yellow canvas.
It almost feels like magic.
Obviously it’s not. Tony’ll buy magic in terms of any sufficiently advanced technology, but he refuses to believe in the pure Harry Potter stuff. Everything the Asgardians are doing has an explanation under the laws of physics, and if all goes perfectly, that explanation is exactly what Tony’s here to learn. The Asgardians just have a hell of a projector, that’s all, it’s just a supersized planetarium. But given that the supersized planetarium is also what’s keeping out every long-range bomb, missile, rocket and weapon that SHIELD’s thrown at it, Tony doubts he’ll ever be allowed close enough to find out what makes it tick.
But he’ll learn something else. Find a weakness in their weapons or armor or strategy. Something.
Tony inhales another deep breath and the cold pricks his lungs like needles. Fuck, he misses his suit’s internal heating right now. And his gloves. And scarf. And thermal jacket. He glances down at himself to double-check, but they have left him his pants, thank god, and the arc reactor, and his boots and his shirt, though they’ve shoved the long sleeves up to make room for the shackles.
Said shackles are a dark metal, thick and heavy just like they feel, with a decorative red enamel inlay close to his wrists, and a solid, hinged piece connecting the two cuffs with a few inches of space between them. He tests the range of movement and it’s definitely less than a conventional pair of handcuffs, the metal cutting into his wrists whenever he bends them, and no room to twist them around each other. Looks like the Asgardians take chaining up their prisoners pretty seriously.
Then again, if SHIELD ever manages to capture an Asgardian, Tony’s fairly sure they’ll be pretty damn serious too. Throwing out the Geneva Convention serious.
Tony shakes his head - he’s here to spy on the Asgardians, not worry about his own side - and gets his hands to the icy ground to push himself upright. His head protests, but only a little, so he doesn’t have a concussion; even if he does, there’s nothing he can do about it, so no point in caring.
He’s near the edge of a group of about twenty people, all soldiers in various uniforms, since Earth, as such, doesn’t really have an army and SHIELD’s had to pull together whatever they can find. Tony’s not even in any army and he’s still been roped in. The humans are surrounded by a ring of Asgardians, full armor, spears and shields, and not kidding around, actually paying attention to the people they’re guarding. Most of the other prisoners managed to sit up before Tony did, boot camp training at work, and though the dirt and blood scattered over them makes it obvious they were in an extremely active war zone until recently, nobody’s grossly wounded with missing limbs or anything.
They’re all wearing cuffs the same as Tony’s - the Asgardians came prepared, they must have a warehouse of these things - and they’re all disarmed, no Iron Man suits, no knives, no guns even though they’re almost totally useless. But apparently, nobody recognized the fucking-enormous-bomb potential of the arc reactor.
Not that Tony plans to use it as a bomb. He’s going to get his intel, pay whatever price it costs, and go back with a head full of secrets and a chest full of non-moving shrapnel. Easy.
Tony turns at the low voice and meets Agent Romanoff’s eyes. She’s sitting mostly upright, legs sprawled a little across the ground; her hair’s fallen into a relatively fetching mess of curls, and her eye makeup has successfully remained immaculate, because even streaks of black ink are terrified of what Natasha Romanoff will do to them if she ever looks less than stunning. That, or she’s got a tube of eyeliner in her pocket and touched herself up.
“Listen,” she says quietly, glancing around to check for anyone who can overhear, “I know you’re planning something stupid and heroic, but I need you to lay low, alright? Don’t try sneaking around anywhere. I’m here for a reason. I don’t want you to get in my way, and I don’t want you to get caught and make things more difficult for me. You tough it out and don’t try anything, clear?”
“Two pairs of eyes are better than one.”
“You’re just a civilian, Stark, you’re only going to cause trouble. Leave this to me.”
Like hell, Tony doesn’t need her permission and his plan isn’t that stupid-
There’s a loud ringing CLANG and Tony jerks around to see the Asgardian soldiers pounding their spears against their shields, and stepping aside to form a gap that one man strides through.
Long blond hair, red cape, warhammer and built like a tank - it doesn’t take a genius of Tony’s level to recognize the Asgardian commander, the one who leads every charge and fucking laughs as he slaughters people, swinging that hammer through the lines and setting off earthquakes with it, and maybe Tony is a little bit in over his head here, because whatever he thought the Asgardians do with their captives every week, for some reason he didn’t think this guy would be involved.
His armor’s heavy on the blue-dyed leather and silvery metal, thick mail over his arms and an elaborate breastplate that looks mockingly ornate, gaps everywhere that invite a sniper’s shot to the heart, except for how many times they’ve tried that and haven’t even broken skin. He looks even taller from down here, like a giant statue posed above the humans slumped in the dirt, all power and menace and all he’s doing is standing there.
He’s looking them over with something intense lurking in his eyes, something interested or intrigued or searching, fuck if Tony knows - all he knows is that he’s not cowering any more than absolutely necessary, and he holds his head up high and stares right back. He’s not giving in and this isn’t over, and it doesn’t matter if he’s wearing shackles and is dumped in the middle of the enemy camp, he’s still got a mission here and he’s not on vacation.
The giant’s eyes flick across him and then return, still and searing, and Tony lifts his chin a little more and holds the gaze, because he is not - ever - bowing before this monster. Even if he isn’t going to stand up and make a big deal out of it.
Then the blue storm of his eyes is gone, but not far - landing right next to Tony. On Agent Romanoff.
He hears a little gasp and the sound of her boots scraping across the ground as she shifts, and then the Asgardian laughs and strides through the group, people scattering out of his way, except for Romanoff who’s all but paralyzed, her breathing fluttering in panic. But Tony knows something’s going on here, she said she came here with a plan, her own mission, and Romanoff’s the best at what she does, so everything’s okay, just peachy. But it sure doesn’t look like it when the Asgardian stops right in front of them and grabs Romanoff’s arm and hauls her upright.
She gasps again and glances up at his face, lowers her eyes almost instantly and shivers in his grasp, pulling away just enough that it’s clear what she’s doing, but Tony’s seen her fight and she’s not even trying. She’s got a plan. It’s all deliberate. She’s not really terrified, not really staring hell in the face…
The Asgardian raises a massive hand and rakes through Romanoff’s hair, and she tilts her head to the side like she’s trying to avoid it but she just makes it easier for him. He grins, teeth huge and bright in his blond beard, and wraps an arm around Romanoff’s waist and hurls her up and over his shoulder.
Tony’s heart is pounding and his mouth goes dry. The Asgardians don’t play by human rules, that’s been clear since they landed, and the patterns of injuries on the survivors are telling, but this - yeah, Tony knew what they did, knew what he was signing himself up for, but actually seeing Romanoff picked out by the Asgardian commander to be his fucking sex slave, seeing it is different - and he knows Romanoff’s had training and she’s here to spy, so this is exactly where she wants to be, but Tony’s still watching a woman being carried off to be brutally raped for an entire week-
The Asgardian stops and turns back, and meets Tony’s eyes again. The hand not holding Romanoff over his shoulder curls and uncurls by his side, and then he gives that terrible grin and Tony’s blood turns to ice.
“This one,” the Asgardian says loudly, his voice deep and powerful, and his hand rises to point right at Tony. “With the insolent eyes. Give him to my brother.”
“Yes, my prince,” someone says, and then two Asgardians grab Tony by the arms and yank him up to his feet. He’s shoved along, stumbling, pushed too damn fast to get his balance and he’s so numb his boots are slipping on the ground, but they don’t let him go and they don’t stop, and he’s marched straight after the swaying red cloak of the Asgardian commander - prince - and he’s trying not to think about drowning in blood but the image won’t go away.
Focus, he thinks desperately, focus and do your job, and he lets the guards steer him and just opens his eyes and looks around. Focus, this is a great time to focus, because they’re walking him straight through the camp and there isn’t even a bag over his head this time, and there’s got to be something useful he can see.
Tents, soldiers, Romanoff hanging down the commander’s back-
Tony inhales and just makes himself look and fucking think.
The tents are large and elaborate, heavy canvas, looking like nothing you’d find in a camping store, in line with the medieval feel to their weapons and armor. Large fire pits are scattered between the tents, well-made with stones ringing the fires and logs lying on their sides acting as benches; most of the fires are low right now, but there are stacks of fresh wood next to every one. The Asgardians are settling in like they didn’t kill a thousand people today, taking off their armor and boots and carrying what can only be called flagons of ale, sitting around and poking up the fires or ducking into tents, and it’s bizarre because they just look like people. This could be a goddamn Ren Faire and nobody would be the wiser.
Except for the ones cleaning blood off their swords, polishing out dints in their armor, bandaging up the rare, very rare, scratch.
Between two tents Tony sees a glimpse of a low wooden building, logs lashed together, that’s apparently a stable, a soldier leading in a damp and tired-looking horse. He can smell horses too, now he thinks about it, that digested-grass odor, and that’s alongside the smoke from the fires and the oily armor polish and leather of the two guys flanking him, and his own sweat after holding them off for an entire day. The camp’s loud, too, all shouting and clanking metal and the cracking of the burning wood, canvas flapping in the light breeze, even the heavy steps of his guards like an executioner’s drum.
But he’s not going to die, it’s not like that, they don’t do that.
Tony sucks in another raw breath and when he looks back up, the commander’s gone like he was never there, no long blond hair and no billowing cloak, and no Agent Romanoff, either, and Tony hopes she’s as prepared for this as she thought she was.
Hopes he’s prepared for it, too. But he’s done sex before, done captivity before, so what’s the problem?
True, he hasn’t done both at the same time…
Tony’s jerked to a halt outside another tent, this one a bit larger than most of the others, a green pennant stuck in the ground by the entrance, and a guard standing on the other side. He nods at Tony’s escorts before one of them holds open the flap of the door and the other one shoves Tony inside.
It’s dark after the bright light from the energy shield, and Tony blinks and stares before he can make anything out.
There’s a single tent pole in the middle, and smaller ones at each corner to define the shape of the room. A glass lamp hangs from each pole, casting steady, warm candlelight. There’s a wide, low bed - and not a mattress or a camp bed or anything, a serious full-on bed - against the far wall, piled with pillows and thick furs that would make a vegan have a seizure. Woven rugs in dark colors cover the ground, so there isn’t one bit of bare dirt visible. In one corner there’s a stand with a large basin and pitcher and a mirror, probably the equivalent of the bathroom. More central, a large table with scrolls and papers spread over it. A lounge with a footrest, a book lying closed on the seat and a chest beside it, which is where Tony, at least, would keep more books.
This is the tent belonging to the commander-prince’s brother, so he’s probably a prince too. Tony’s looking at the height of Asgardian luxury while invading somebody else’s planet, and he has to admit that all things considered, it’s pretty luxurious. The furniture’s well-made and carved with intricate patterns that Tony can barely make out at this distance, and not even Fury has this much personal space in the field.
“Come on,” a guard grunts, and Tony’s wrestled over to the center pole and shoved to his knees, and then there are two hands on his arm and the cuff is unlocked. He makes himself stay still and not try to seize the opportunity to run, because he doesn’t want to go anywhere and his survival instincts can shut the fuck up right now, and it’s not like he’d get away with the second guard still holding him back. Tony’s arms are dragged forward and the cuff’s locked back on, and the guards step away but that helps Tony exactly not at all, because now the cuffs are on the other side of the pole from his body and he’s stuck.
Kneeling and chained to a tent pole.
He snarls and surges back to his feet as best he can with the pole right in his face, and the guards turn back from where they’re just about to duck out of the tent. One of them shakes his head and leaves anyway, and the other one raises an eyebrow. “Some advice, if you’ll take it: you want to be kneeling when he arrives.”
“Yeah, of course I’m going to take advice from somebody who knows so much about what I want.”
The guard shrugs. “I assumed you’d want to please him. Forgive me if you’d sooner die a dishonorable death. He is not kind.”
“Who’s he?” Tony shouts, but the guard doesn’t answer and slips out of the tent with a swirl of yellow cape.
God-fucking-dammit, Tony’s chained to a tent pole in the middle of the Asgardian camp and he’s just got to wait for whoever’s tent this is to show up and claim him, and apparently he’s not kind.
Tony shudders and his knees lock in rebellion, because he isn’t giving up and he’s not going to surrender, but he really doesn’t need to make things any worse for himself. He slowly sinks back down to where the guards put him, hating the submissive message this is going to send, but he has a job to do and that doesn’t include being killed for standing up.
Besides, it’ll all be worth it when he gets released and knows that much more about how to bring these guys down and save the world.
He settles into a position where his heels aren’t digging too hard into his ass, and starts waiting.
Tony swallows again even though he’s so dehydrated it’s no help, and groans and arches to extend his spine, stretching out the awful ache from kneeling here in the cold for what feels like hours, though to be realistic it’s probably been less than one. But that’s still long enough for his thoughts to have run in circles, again and again, like somehow he’s going to forget anything he’s seen here, like maybe if he thinks really hard he’ll come up with some more data to analyze and go over something new.
But dammit, he had maybe ten minutes out there and that wasn’t anywhere near enough, he’s pretty sure he didn’t see anything of value - but it’s not like he thought this was going to be easy. He knows the Asgardians fuck their captives, knows they beat them, too, he’s seen the injuries on the people they give back, so Tony knows the price he’s going to have to pay for the information he wants. And he’s willing to pay it, he just wants something fucking worthwhile in return-
There’s a slap of heavy fabric as someone pushes into the tent, and Tony straightens up and holds very, very still, facing away, back towards whoever’s just come in, stomach churning with icy anticipation. Here we go.
“What,” he hears, the voice cold and hard, “is this?”
Tony doesn’t answer, which is good because apparently the speaker wasn’t asking him. “One of the human soldiers,” says another voice, this one rougher, another damn guard, “for your pleasure, my prince.”
“I can see that,” the first man snaps, the prince, the brother of the Asgardian commander and the man who - probably the best word is owns - owns Tony for the next week. “Why is he here at all?”
“A gift from your brother, my prince.”
An irritated sigh. “Another one? Yes, obviously,” the prince adds sharply, cutting off the guard. There’s a soft sound that might be a foot tapping against the rugs on the ground. “Well, then. See that I am not disturbed.”
“Of course.” Metal clanks - armor shifting as the guard walks away - and then the heavy flap falls shut and seals Tony in with the Asgardian prince with the cold voice.
Tony barely catches the sound of his boots as he walks forward all but silently, a whisper of fabric as he moves, and then Tony sees the edge of a thick black cloak hanging around the prince’s legs, knee-high boots and black leather pants, and a harsh hand grips him under the chin and forces him to look up.
Tony stares into a face which is all sharp angles and fine bone structure and pale skin, with searing green depths for eyes and narrow lips, ever so slightly twisted. The hand on Tony’s chin is thin and strong, long fingers curling tight around his jaw and holding him motionless, and the man’s so tall he’s had to bend down to reach Tony at all. It makes strands of his longish black hair, slicked back over his head, creep forward to frame his face. He’s wearing a green shirt under the long cloak, which is pulled around to hang over his front, with a gray fur wrapped around his shoulders and falling maybe to his elbows. He looks fierce and proud and every inch the prince Tony assumes he is, and he could break Tony’s neck right now without even trying.
The prince sighs, lets Tony’s face go and takes a step back, head tilted as he looks down at Tony.
“Damn Thor,” he mutters, which makes absolutely no sense, and Tony just swallows and bites his tongue - literally, ouch - to make sure he doesn’t complain about the reference going right over his head.
Not that that’s hard, considering their relative positions right now.
The prince drums his fingers on his thigh, and meets Tony’s eyes again. “Your name?”
Tony releases his tongue and tries not to glare outright. He’s a spy here, more or less, he’s playing nice and trying not to get himself killed or even simply left chained to this tent pole for the entire week. He needs to buy the freedom to move around somehow, even if he would rather have chewed his own neck off than give up this easy if he’d really been taken against his will. “Tony Stark.”
The prince tips his head and his eyebrow rises like he’s amused by something. “Is that all?”
Tony shrugs. Close enough.
“Come now,” the prince says, chidingly, and paces a step to Tony’s side, making his cloak swirl and the edge of it brush Tony’s knee. “I’m sure there’s more to you than that.”
Fine, whatever. “Anthony Edward Stark.” Fuck you very much.
“There,” the prince says, and keeps pacing, going around Tony in a circle from the sounds of his cloak against the rugs. “Was that so terrible?”
Tony doesn’t answer, keeping his eyes straight forward and not moving them even when the prince comes back around in front of him, black leather, black cloak. “And your task?”
It slips out before Tony can do anything and he braces for a blow, or something, doesn’t matter what but getting mouthy is really a bad idea right now - but the Asgardian just chuckles and walks away, slides the book off the lounge and onto the closed lid of the chest instead, then drops himself down elegantly, long legs folded over each other at the ankle, elbows braced on the armrests, fingers tented. “Your task. Your role as a soldier, the way you serve your people.”
It’s probably not information Tony should be volunteering, but on the other hand, what can this guy do with it? What difference does it make?
Well, Tony’s the designer of the Iron Man suits, but he doesn’t have to share that much. “Forward scout.”
The Asgardian’s eyes light up. “A spy!”
“No,” Tony corrects in a hurry, definitely not a spy, “I said a forward scout.”
“One who watches and traces the movements of the enemy army, reporting back the slivers of their gleaned information? A spy, Tony Stark, let us be honest with each other.”
“Sure, why not. Whatever you want. Not that you need my permission.”
The Asgardian grins, sharper than his brother. “Spirited, aren’t you?”
Dammit. Even with practice, Tony sucks at this. Shut your damn mouth!
The prince leans forward and folds his fingers down so his hands are interlaced. “Since we’re being honest, I am Loki.”
It tastes pointed and ominous in Tony’s mind, the soft sound at the start overruled by the sharp click of the k, like a dagger hidden under silk. It goes with his knife-like smile.
“And?” Tony asks.
Loki’s eyebrow twitches amusement again. “And what?”
“And your task?”
Loki’s eyes narrow gleefully, and apparently he likes Tony’s ‘spirit’, since he’s not breaking his neck for speaking up. Good thing, too, because Tony clearly can’t keep his mouth shut.
“Hmm.” Loki stands up again, cloak falling around his legs, the fur around his shoulders rippling with the motion, and paces slowly back and forth. “Ask my brother, and he will tell you that I serve a necessary if far from glorious function, though when I trouble myself to fight like a man I do it well enough. Ask the soldiers, and they will tell you that naturally a prince’s place is beside his brother, at his service in all things, and though they may pretend it unworthy of them, they appreciate my contributions. Ask me…”
He trails off, an inviting lift of his tone at the end, and Tony bites. “And you’ll tell me what?”
Loki turns his head and his eyes meet Tony’s, now smooth and calm like a still lake. “And I shall tell you nothing, for unlike my brother I am not in the habit of giving away secrets.”
Score one for Agent Romanoff, then, if the commander’s got loose lips, but more importantly… Tony scoffs. “Yeah, nice try. You did just give away that your job is a secret, you know.”
Loki stops dead, the lake frozen solid, and Tony swallows and tries to pull away from the pole, but it stays sturdy and the cuffs stay on and there’s no end to Loki’s stare…
“I did,” Loki breathes, and sweeps across the room to palm Tony’s cheek in one hand, his skin ridiculously warm. Loki slides his hand towards the back of Tony’s head until his thumb is tracing the shell of Tony’s ear and a finger has curled down into the soft spot behind Tony’s jaw.
“Spirited, and you’re a clever one, too,” Loki whispers, an almost manic grin slowly stretching his lips. “Perhaps there’s value in you after all. You caught that without even trying, well done.”
Tony doesn’t move. Loki could crush his head right now from this position, or rip it right off his neck… but Loki sounded pleased. Like he was praising Tony for being clever, for catching that - whatever he was talking about, it made no sense and it’s not like Tony can think clearly with Loki’s hand on him like this, fingertips swirling patterns over his skull, thumbnail scratching ever so delicately against his ear.
“Perhaps I should accept you,” Loki murmurs thoughtfully, and pulls Tony forward to press his cheek against Loki’s leather-clad thigh, the cloak falling over his side. Tony shivers in the sudden warmth, the faint smell of Loki’s skin and sweat filling his nostrils. “You’re the first prize Thor has managed to offer that is to my tastes.”
It’s the way he says tastes that does it. Oh god, Loki likes him.
Which is good. For the plan. It’s just that Tony was kind of expecting to be held down and gang-banged by a couple dozen Asgardian soldiers, not personally appreciated by one smirking arrogant prince. It’s flattering, sort of. In a sick, abuse-of-prisoners-of-war kind of way. Because that’s what’s going on, no matter how nice Loki’s being about it, and Tony twists his wrists to make the heavy cuffs cut into his skin because hello, he’s still chained up here.
Loki sighs and steps away, hand gone, and Tony rocks back upright, sitting on his heels, knees parted and the pole between them so his arms aren’t stretched to breaking, and he stares after Loki as the cloak sways with his steps, the fur stirring in the disturbed air. “But perhaps not, after all,” Loki says almost to himself, but he’s given Tony plenty of slack so far and since he’s into Tony being clever and spirited, maybe he wants him to talk back.
“Why not?” From everything Tony’s seen, the Asgardians have no rules regarding the treatment of their prisoners and there is absolutely nothing stopping Loki from fucking Tony until he’s bleeding and begging for mercy, for death, for anything to make it stop. There’s nothing keeping Loki back - except, apparently, Loki himself.
And here Tony thought Loki liked him.
Loki turns back and smiles with absolutely no sincerity in it. He steps closer, and walks right past Tony’s side, trailing his fingers through Tony’s hair again. “You are an ill-presented gift, Tony Stark. Make no mistake, if Thor had come to me and offered you himself, implored me to accept you as a token of his heartfelt apologies and begged on bended knee that I let go of my anger against him, things would be very different. As it is,” Loki goes on, like a force of nature, like he doesn’t care and it doesn’t matter whether Tony understands or not, “I’m not going to do what he merely wants of me.” His fingers run back through Tony’s hair, and dammit, what is this fascination with his hair? “But I must admit, it does displease me to reject you.”
Displeases Tony, too, because rejection is exactly what he doesn’t want. He’s managed to land himself in an ideal situation here, because he’s bound to overhear Loki, a prince and the commander’s own brother, talking about something important; maybe he’s got maps or battleplans that Tony could get a look at. And it’s not like Tony will do any better if Loki turns him away - yeah, god only knows what’ll happen to him then.
And suddenly, everything’s easy. Because all Tony’s doing now is trying to charm his way into Loki’s bed, and he’s done this way too many times to hesitate.
Tony blinks, lowers his eyes just a touch demurely, and then glances up through his lashes. “Maybe I don’t want to be rejected,” he offers softly.
Loki stops cold and just looks down at him. Loki’s lips curl inwards slightly like he’s tasting something sour. “And I do not wish to yield to my brother’s desires. He wants me to lay with you, and I will not.”
Loki grins slowly, and cups Tony’s chin and lifts his head up sharply, almost pulling Tony out of his sitting position. “Resolve that, clever thing.”
Don’t dare Tony Stark, fella, ‘cause you will lose. “You don’t want to fuck me. Okay, we can work with that.” Tony shrugs and raises a pointed eyebrow. “So just don’t.”
Loki’s grin shifts to a frown. “That is all you have to offer me? You wish to simply stay here and give nothing in exchange? Why should I let you do that? I like you, Tony Stark, but don’t think that alone will persuade me to accept your company for this week.”
“Oh, I’m not finished. I’ll take a guess that you might like this - Thor’s annoying you, I’m not the first guy he’s thrown at you and you’re starting to get sick of it. So keep me around, let him think he’s finally done it right, and he’ll leave you alone.” Tony gives Loki his blinding sales smile. “And the best part is you don’t actually have to fuck me. Just tell him you did. I’ll play along. Hell, I’ll tell him you’re the biggest I’ve ever seen and I couldn’t walk for hours after, and you won’t have to lay a finger on me. Situation resolved?”
Loki’s eyes practically glow. “Very good. Yes, I think that is acceptable.”
Tony tosses his head jauntily. “I live to serve.”
“Well, then, we have a tale to tell.”
Great. That was easy. Much better than expected, and-
Tony’s face explodes with pain.
Loki slams him nose-first into the tent pole, and then Tony feels Loki let go of his head and reach for his cuffs instead. They click open, and Loki grabs Tony’s arm and his shirt - the world spins and Tony’s flying halfway across the tent. His back hits something hard - the leg of the bed, and he crawls forward and struggles upright. Loki’s hands catch at his shoulders and push him flat to the ground, and a heavy warm weight pins down Tony’s thighs - fuck, Loki’s sitting on him, straddling him, and Tony can feel the bulge of Loki’s crotch against his ass and he grits his teeth and forces himself not to fight, to just lie here and take it, but fuck, everything was going perfectly and why’s Loki turning on him now?
Sharp pain splits the skin down his spine and Tony bucks and gasps for air, and Loki fucking tuts at him and pins him down with a hand on his head, pressing it into the rugs, and his other hand must have a knife or something because he keeps cutting Tony’s shirt off, two streaks across his shoulders and down his arms, sharp and stinging, and he can feel the thin lines of heat where his blood spills over.
Loki yanks Tony’s boots off and he just rips Tony’s pants to shreds, and then his weight’s gone and his hands haul Tony out of the remains of his clothes and drag him naked to a clear spot. Loki snaps the opened cuff back on his wrist and then Tony’s shoved to his knees and ends up with a face against Loki’s boot. He stays still and breathes, he knows what he’s here for and he’ll survive this and he’s had worse - the shrapnel in his chest burns in reminder, twitches against the magnetic field-
Loki’s hands brush almost tenderly over Tony’s shoulders to lift him up a little and then wrap something around his neck and pull it - snug, not tight, just resting against his skin without choking him, and there’s a little metal clicking sound from his nape and Loki’s fingers doing something - fuck, it’s a collar, a leather collar around Tony’s neck like he’s Loki’s pet, Loki’s slave.
Loki’s hands slide over his shoulders and his fingers touch something at the front of the collar and pull Tony down - a leash, he’s on a fucking leash, and Loki ties the end around his cuffs so he’s completely bent over, on his knees, naked and bleeding and panting hard and he can’t do anything, has to give Loki what he wants.
I can take it. Saving the planet here, I can take it.
But they had a deal! Let’s not, and say we did. And Loki liked it, so what the fuck is going on with this?
Loki straightens up again and Tony sees the black leather of his boots pace away. “Guard!”
There’s the sound of the tent flap opening and the clank of armor, and Tony’s skin crawls because someone else is looking at him, and sure he’s been caught in situations like this before but now it’s real, he’s an honest-to-god prisoner of war and it’s so fucking obvious what’s going on here, and dammit, he’s the world’s best engineer and he’s survived torture and captivity already, but none of that means anything with the guard’s gaze on his bare ass, cuffed hands pressed flat against the ground.
“I want wine and my riding crop, and then absolutely no disturbance until morning.”
Riding crop. Tony tries to shift without actually moving anywhere. Of fucking course the Asgardians have riding crops. BDSM, too. But it could be worse, it could be a lot worse, Loki could be into fire play or mutilation or something, but all Tony has to do is get smacked around a little, he can do that, and if Loki was making up the entire thing about not doing what Thor wants, then he can bear getting fucked, too.
Loki’s back, and he pauses by Tony’s side; one booted toe brushes the bare skin of Tony’s thigh and he shivers.
“I do apologize,” Loki says like he hasn’t just ordered equipment to be brought to him so he can beat Tony, “but soldiers gossip, and Thor will listen if they say they heard nothing from us. They expect screaming.”
“Maybe I’m just not a screamer,” Tony pants, and Loki only laughs.
“Oh, everybody screams in my bed.”
He paces away again - seriously, the guy does not know how to stand still - his movements smooth and fluid. “You agreed to enough of a show to fool anyone who cares to take notice, Tony Stark, and therefore you will scream.”
Yeah, technically, he did agree, and if Tony wants to stick with Loki they’ll have to be convincing, but Tony was really thinking that the whole let’s not fuck part would carry more weight. But that doesn’t matter, he’ll let this go all the way if Loki wants, because Tony’s here for exactly one reason and that’s to work out how to get these bastards to leave Earth the fuck alone.
Even though it’s already too late for that.
The guard clanks back in and there’s the sound of something heavy being placed on the table - god, Tony hopes that’s the wine, they’d better not have ten pound riding crops - and then he’s gone again without a word, and it’s just Loki and Tony until morning.
Naked on his knees, it doesn’t feel like Loki’s decided not to fuck him.
Something touches his lower back and he jerks, and Loki’s toe prods him in the ribs. “Hold still.”
The folded leather tab of the riding crop slides over the knobs of Tony’s spine, running down the burning cut from Loki’s knife, and Tony just waits there, every joint locked, welded to the next, as Loki traces what feels like an infinity sign through the small of Tony’s back.
“You’re quite beautiful, you know,” Loki says, almost sighs, “and I’m nearly sorry to do this to you.”
The crop disappears and Tony’s body tenses, he can’t help it, he knows it’ll hurt less if he relaxes but he can feel the pain already and he can’t not-
Tony shouts at the sharp burst across his shoulderblade, stinging agony sinking bone-deep, and he gasps for air and digs his nails into his palms to feel anything apart from the throbbing star of pain-
Diagonally opposite and even harder, outshining the first with ease, and Tony’s throat is raw and his eyes are burning, and Loki doesn’t stop, the crop falls again and again and Tony jerks under the blows, bright and hot and sharp, but he doesn’t beg and doesn’t try to get away, he just stays there and takes it, lets it happen even if he can’t think of why-
The crop hisses and-
Tony’s whole back is on fire, a dozen coals buried under his burning skin, and then the end of the crop traces between them, a curved river down his body, and through the pain he hears Loki’s chuckle and the sound of the crop hitting the ground beside him.
“There now, I think that would be enough to break your resistance, don’t you?” Loki says, and then he’s kneeling close to Tony and his hands are unlocking the shackles around Tony’s wrists and tossing them aside. He pushes Tony’s knees back and lets him unfold himself flat, lying chest-down against the rugs, and Loki stays there, fingers gently massaging the puffy skin on Tony’s wrists where the cuffs were. Tony can hardly breathe, the pain crushing his lungs to powder, and he doesn’t know what’s going on, but he’s pretty sure that aftercare wasn’t part of the deal.
Not that he remembers the part where whip me bloody got in there, either.
Tony turns his head and forces his eyes open to look at Loki, who’s wearing a calm and clinical expression like nothing’s going on. “What’s…” God, he sounds wrecked. Tony swallows and wrestles the words out. “Just tell me - what the hell you’re doing.”
“As I said. We have a story to tell, you and I, and an entire camp watching us. Do you really think yourself the kind of soldier who would submit to my advances merely for my asking? No, you would have fought me, Tony Stark; so here you lie, bruised and exhausted and marked. Defiant, but brought down into obedience. Now you need not be turned out to roam the entire camp looking for a welcome place to lay your head, and I will be spared Thor’s pathetic attempts to give me another prize more to my liking. Though why he cannot simply apologize for his ridiculous behavior…”
So it is part of the deal, but Loki… Loki’s either taking things way too seriously or treating it like a game, beating Tony up just so it looks like he’s beat him up. And then there’s some fight going on between Loki and his brother - Thor, Prince Thor, the commander - that Tony’s caught in the middle of. Tony should remember that, maybe SHIELD can play them against each other…
“Ah, well. Deep breath,” Loki says, and then he’s rolling Tony to his back-
Tony flinches, pain punching deep, woven rugs like sandpaper against his skin, and Loki shushes him and rubs at his shoulder.
“Deep breath,” he chides.
Right. Because Loki doesn’t actually mean this.
“Oh,” Loki says softly, and his finger traces the reactor slowly. Tony’s blood goes cold. “What is this?”
Tony swallows. “Private.”
Loki doesn’t look put off in the least. No, he’s staring like he’s never seen anything like it - not that Tony imagines he has, but it’s unnerving to be the focus of that much intensity. Loki’s lips part ever so slightly, and his fingers slide across the glass, making shadows dance through the light on his face. “It’s powerful.”
Tony hisses, “It’s private,” and sits up to push Loki away-
Pain flares through his torso, welts from the riding crop searing, and Loki pushes him back down. Tony falls limply and gasps in relief when the angry heat fades.
“Alright, not now,” Loki says, and rubs at Tony’s shoulders again. “Not while I’m marking you. Poor timing, I understand; I can wait. But you’re doing well, just a little longer…”
Tony’s eyes roll back. Fuck, Loki wants more?
Loki brushes Tony’s hair away from his face almost tenderly. “This is the part where you scream, sweet thing. I will think no less of you.”
“Screaming at wha-aaaaah-”
Loki bites at Tony’s chest, teeth slicing skin and deeper, and raw pain lances through Tony’s body and sends his head spinning. Loki pulls back and leaves a circle of stabbing agony, Tony’s blood pounding, and Tony fights to lift his head and sees the ring of teethmarks in his pec, blood trickling over his skin, and smeared dark on Loki’s lips, and everything whirls and Tony drops back, dizzy and sick and he’s just seen his blood on this guy’s mouth - “What - the fuck - was that?”
Another bite, hard and deep in Tony’s shoulder, and then heat streaks down his ribs as Loki rakes him with his nails. Tony chokes for air and finally shoves at Loki’s chest to push him back, and Loki just grabs his hands and holds them flat against the ground.
Gently, lightly, just enough that Tony can’t move, but no pain, no force.
“There, shh. That’s over. Look at me.”
Tony drags his eyes to meet Loki’s, calm and green and nothing like the crazed lust he should be filled with right now, and Tony coughs or whimpers or something because this doesn’t make sense and he just wants to know what’s going on.
“It’s alright. Just for show, I promise. No more of that.”
Loki lets him go, and rubs his warm hands over Tony’s stomach, firm and grounding, a steady beacon through the haze of pain, the bites and the welts from the crop and whatever Loki did with his nails. It all fades under Loki’s touch, steady and rhythmic, soothing away the hurt just by being there.
Just a game. Loki’s story. Just about making Tony look like he’s been brutally abused - the riding crop to beat him into submission, and then Loki getting carried away, no restraint, no rules to obey…
And because it’s just a game, trying to let it hurt as little as possible.
Except Loki goes lower, and then he’s touching Tony’s cock - “Wait-”
“Struggle and it will only hurt you.”
Loki’s wrapping something around Tony’s cock, but it’s the brush of his fingers over Tony’s skin that’s sending hot sparks along Tony’s nerves and Tony doesn’t even know if it’s pleasure or pain, because Loki’s touching him there-
Tony grinds his head back into the hard cold ground and feels his skin crawling, but he can’t tell if it’s towards or away from Loki’s touch, and everything’s so fucked up and he knows he’s in pain and his nerves are screaming but somehow it’s only making the pleasure feel - more, and something feels good, the soft caress of whatever Loki’s putting on him or the careful working of Loki’s fingers, and Tony’s pulse is pounding but thank every god in the universe that he’s not getting hard because then he would just die of shame and be grateful for it.
“Soldiers gossip, remember,” Loki murmurs, low and sinful, in Tony’s ear, “and you may be sure I would have punished you for your impertinence.”
“Thought you liked me spirited,” and Tony doesn’t even sound like he’s at the end of his rope. “Make up your mind.”
Loki’s smirk floats above him in the fog. “Oh, I have.” The smirk vanishes, and Loki’s breath curls in Tony’s ear. “And I do.”
Then Loki’s gone, leaving Tony lying there panting for air, and he pushes himself up on his elbows to see what the hell Loki’s done to him.
There’s a thin strip of soft leather laced around his cock in a criss-cross pattern, a spiral straight up and then an almost-too-tight loop just below the head, then spiraling back down, perfectly symmetrical to the layer below, the two ends of the leather tied definitely tightly around the base of Tony’s cock in a way that suggests the Asgardians have discovered cock cages and what they’re for.
It looks like exactly no fun. But it’s not like Tony plans to let orgasm denial get in the way of what he’s trying to do here. For god’s sake, it’s not like he planned to get involved in orgasms at all. His own, that is. He expected theirs, that’s part of the plan.
Spying, right. Got to notice everything, bring it back, find a way to smash these guys.
Well, Loki’s… complicated…
“That’s it. No more,” Loki says, those hands now resting on Tony’s thighs. “Catch your breath. Here.”
Loki lifts a hand and holds something out to him, and Tony forces himself to focus. It’s water, a brimming cup Loki’s picked up from somewhere, and Tony swallows at the sight and his throat does the sandpaper thing again.
He struggles upright and reaches for it shakily. Loki makes a small noise of concern and props Tony up with one hand, steers the cup to his lips with the other, and Tony glares because he doesn’t need to be fed like a child…
Cool water pours down his parched throat, glorious soothing relief, and Tony gulps faster, clutching at Loki’s wrist to hold the cup exactly where it is. He drains it and gasps for air, since breathing didn’t matter while there was water, and Loki moves the cup away for a moment before it’s full again and he gives it back. Tony drains this one without stopping too, savoring each time he swallows without the awful dry pain, breathes again when he’s done and lets Loki lie him back down flat against the rugs. His head is finally clearing enough to think.
And enough to notice how much pain he’s actually in. It’s spread out into a hot layer under his skin, wrapping his entire torso, pulse not exactly hammering through his flesh but definitely more present than it should be. His hand comes up to touch one of the bite marks, the swelling and the bloody gashes from Loki’s teeth, and Loki makes one of those calming shh noises and pulls Tony’s hand back down. “Don’t pick. It’s nothing crippling. It will heal.”
Loki doesn’t answer him. But his thumb strokes slowly across Tony’s palm. It’s almost nice, that Tony doesn’t have to do this alone. That Loki has at least bothered to notice that this isn’t easy.
Loki swallows, and then stands up in a rush and drops Tony’s hand to the floor. “Undress me.”
Tony blinks his vision clear and stares up at Loki, half turned away like he doesn’t care where in the room Tony is. “Huh?”
Loki throws a single derisive glance over his shoulder before he resumes staring at whatever he’s staring at. “Just because I will not accede to my brother’s wishes that I fuck you does not mean you are not my prisoner, Tony Stark, and I have given you a command.”
Undress me. Right.
Tony rolls onto his front; his back throbs with pain but it’s manageable, and he slowly staggers to his feet. Loki’s waiting, but he’s not tapping his feet or clicking his fingers or anything that suggests his patience is limited, and he beat Tony up in the first place so any delay is his fault.
On the other hand, slave masters don’t exactly have to bow to logic, do they. It’s not Loki who’s going to suffer if he decides Tony’s taking too long.
Tony swallows and steps forward, leather-bound cock bumping against his thighs - it kind of itches, but he can deal with it - and the leash of the collar hanging down his chest, rubbing against the arc reactor, as if he needed any more humiliation today.
Loki’s taken off the cloak at some point, and he’s left in a dark green shirt and black leather pants, and the nice boots Tony noticed earlier. It’s all very elegant and composed, and now that’s Loki’s given up on the concern angle, Tony can definitely see the princely side to him. All haughty and arrogant, expression coldly distant, a man with absolutely no problem kicking his prisoner down where he apparently belongs.
But Tony can’t deny that Loki looks good this way. Like a marble statue. There’s something simply beautiful about him no matter what’s going on here.
And it doesn’t matter what’s going on here. Loki’s clearly calling all the shots, and Tony’s only job is to follow Loki’s lead, and sneak around behind his back. His pretty face doesn’t come into that equation.
And Tony’s stalling.
He walks around Loki and steps in close, close enough to see the curl in his lashes and hear the soft parting of his lips as Tony reaches out for him.
Tony’s fingers are shaking. But only slightly.
Loki’s loose green shirt is laced shut from his throat down his sternum, and Tony slowly works the ties open. Loki lifts his arms slightly but that’s all, like he’s really going to make Tony do all the work here, and Tony grits his teeth and wraps his fingers around the hem and pulls it up.
Loki’s chest is pale and toned, wiry muscles cut and firm, coiled strength written under every inch of flawless white skin, and Tony’s swallow is from an entirely different kind of nerves. Yes, Tony’s a prisoner here, and yes, if Loki does fuck him Tony will still be far from enthusiastic, but it might not… might not be the end of the world. Could be worse.
However many Asgardians in this camp, and only twenty human prisoners to go around… Tony shudders, hopefully hidden from Loki’s sight as he pulls the shirt off over his head. Could be a lot worse.
He gets a second to himself when he turns away and drops the shirt over the lounge, sucks in air and schools his face into something calm, completely indifferent, before he turns back.
Loki’s boots are next, and that means kneeling. Tony just does it, like it means nothing to him, the rugs against his bare shins and the way his neck naturally bends as he studies the unfamiliar buckles down the side of Loki’s leg. Loki chuckles and his fingers comb through Tony’s hair.
“You look good down there,” he says, and Tony’s skin does something funny at the sound of Loki’s voice, something between a shiver and a flare of heat.
“Sure, why not,” Tony throws back, starting to work at the buckle that is nothing like anything he’s ever seen. “Kneeling wasn’t included in the deal, but hey, I’ll throw it in for nothing.”
“Ha.” Loki’s fingers scratch softly at the back of Tony’s head, and it feels really nice except for the fact that it’s how you’d pet a cat, and Tony resists the urge to purr sarcastically. “I know you don’t mean it. You merely surrender to my small requests so I’ll remain appeased when you do defy me. A word of warning, it won’t work. I will not treat treachery lightly.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you’d like that,” Tony mutters, finally getting the first buckle undone - it’s a pull to the left and then the right, these things are complicated - and moving down Loki’s slender, firm calf to the next one. “Not like you enjoyed smacking me around for no reason.”
“Oh, I never said that.”
Tony’s not going to think about that, not going to go anywhere near whatever arrangement of priorities Loki has that means he isn’t going through with throwing Tony across his bed right here. He just stares at the gold buckles and the black leather straps holding Loki’s boots to his legs, and keeps at his task. It’s simple now he’s got the trick of it, the repetitive pull-bend-pull patterns, and the buckles come loose one by one. Then Loki’s lifting his leg and Tony holds the boot to the ground for him to step out of it.
Loki’s bare toes curl in the air as he lowers his foot again, and Tony glances away and crawls around to his other side. This one goes faster, Tony’s fingers almost flying; he’s wired circuits requiring magnification to even be seen, while drunk, so it’s not like this is posing anything of a challenge.
He’s a naked collared sex slave to an Asgardian prince who’s more than a little really fucking weird, but he’s okay.
Tony gets the second boot off and stands it upright beside the first, and that only leaves Loki’s pants.
Tony’s been in a room with naked men before, okay, tons of times, but there’s something about this that makes it different.
Yeah, like the fact that he intends to let Loki fuck him if it comes to that, there’s a difference right there.
Kind of. It’s not like he’s never been fucked before, either. And a couple times it wasn’t brilliant and he only let them keep going because kicking them off sounded like too much work. But he was never actually unwilling - the Ten Rings didn’t even hint at it - and it’s only this time that Tony doesn’t have a choice.
Sure I do. Just I’ve already made it.
This was his plan and he’s fighting for an entire world - for Pepper - and if that means taking Loki’s pants off then Tony’s damn well going to do it.
There’s a belt with a gold buckle, a little larger than the ones on his boots but it opens to the same sequence of pulls and folds, and a set of laces like that on Loki’s shirt, and then everything’s loose and Tony just slides his thumbs down the inside of the waistband and pulls. The black leather flows smoothly over Loki’s skin, revealing the arches of his hips, and then Loki’s cock is hanging in front of Tony’s face.
Okay, not going there.
Tony looks down at what he’s doing instead, because staring close-up at alien genitals was not in the deal. He’s still pretty sure Loki’s going to fuck him sooner or later - come on, he’s Tony Stark, there are very few people who don’t want to do that - but that doesn’t mean he has to get a good, detailed eyeful first.
Loki steps out of the leather pooled around his ankles, legs long and elegant, muscles trim, and Tony stands up and turns around very quickly. He takes the two strides to the lounge to lay the pants out straight; there’s probably something special he’s meant to do - normal leather at least has to be treated right - but Loki doesn’t say anything and Tony doesn’t do anything either.
He sucks in a breath. That wasn’t so bad. “Now what?”
Loki reaches around him to grip the leash and give a gentle tug. He leads - yes, leads - Tony over to the bed, and pushes him down to the mattress, and hang on, are they going to - but Loki said that wasn’t the plan here-
Loki makes that tutting noise and guides Tony - gently, hands going no lower than the reactor - to lie across the foot of the bed, and then he crouches down and ties the end of the leash to the bedframe somewhere, leaving enough slack that Tony shouldn’t be able to strangle himself.
Loki strokes Tony’s hair again. “There. A proper well-used prize.”
He stands up smoothly and slides into the bed himself. His movements are relaxed and languid - no body modesty here - as he throws the thick furs over his long legs and his chest, and settles down in the pillows. This bed’s so big Loki’s feet aren’t touching Tony at all; Tony’s aren’t hanging over the edge, either, which he’ll very much appreciate come morning. He glances around and steals a fur that isn’t covering Loki and tucks that over himself, and digs into the mattress with his shoulderblades. It’s actually fairly comfortable, tolerable as far as this sort of thing can be, and despite the injuries and the leash, Tony might even get some sleep tonight.
Everything’s going according to plan. He’s totally fine.
“If you snore, I shall gag you.”