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Pizza Parlor

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Olive oil and vinegar, extra goat cheese, chicken, spinach, red onions and roma tomatos.

Tony hated that order. Not the order itself, but rather what it represented. He peeked out into the dining room from the kitchenette window and frowned. Sure enough they were back, laughing and acting like they owned the fucking place. Which they didn’t. At least he had that as a small consolation prize. Stark’s Pizzaria and Bar was one of about a dozen little privately owned hangouts in a university town where most of the bigger businesses were owned by the parents of the kids who went to the university. But like most college kids, they weren’t interested in five star restaurants in between exams. They wanted a place close enough to the dorms that they could walk back after getting drunk on a Saturday night. And in this, Howard Stark had chosen the perfect spot. They were within spitting distance of Asgard U, and to their credit, served some of the best pizza and Italian food in town.

So even during summer break, they kept a steady business going.

Tony made a noise of disgust and started spreading garlic butter on the hand tossed crust. This was where he would be spending his summer. Serving the spoiled trust-fund babies s that he could hopefully scrape together enough money to afford his next year’s books at MIT. It was kind of a comfort to know that the same group of university guys who were waiting on their order wouldn’t last a semester at his school. Asgard U was the kind of place where you took horseback riding and water polo as extracurricular in order to prepare you for a life of only fifteen million a year to survive off of.

While Tony was wondering if he could afford a car by third year, these guys were complaining about driving their father’s old BMW.

No seriously! He could hear them from where he was.

“I’m telling you it’s a disgrace!” The big blond one said, leaning back in his chair. “Dad said he won’t buy me a Jaguar unless I get my grades up to snuff.”

“Well then, maybe you should spend a bit less time with your girlfriends and a bit more time in the library.” Said the one across from him. A tall, willowy looking dude bout six shades too pale.

Tony didn’t like the university students. He didn’t like this group in particular. But that one dude…

He finished the pizza and picked it up with the wooden board, sipping it into the hearth style oven. “Ten minutes on the Greek special!” he yelled out and saw his father raise a hand in acknowledgement. He could still hear the group talking. It was Friday, but still early for the crowds. So the dining hall was empty except for the game on the big screen tv.

“Oh so it’s my fault I’m not like you?” The blond one laughed, crossing his arms over his meaty chest. “Not my fault girls find me interesting.”

“Girls find you pretty. There’s a difference between being interested in someone and just wanting a taste.” The lean guy said with shrug. “When was the last time you kept a girlfriend for more than a month?”

“Better then not having one at all.” The blond dude sat up, taking a sip from his coke and looking across the table. “Look, Loki you’ve been here a year. I kinda hoped you might…you know…socialize a little.”

“You mean ease dad’s worries about me.” He countered and shrugged. “I won’t pretend to be something I’m not. I thought I at least had your support…”

Tony suddenly felt like he was intruding on an intensely private conversation and began clanging dishes around as he washed them, distracting himself till the pizza was done. He knew both these guys by name. The big blond one was Thor Odinson, overall not a bad dude. Tipped well, only marginally stuck up. He was sort of what you expected from a frat boy who got in on a sports scholarship, playing quarterback for the Mighty Mjolnirs. Dating more girls at one time than even Tony could handle on his best day. When he came in with his football buddies, Tony didn’t mind him.

It was the brother, the one who ordered the pizza, that irritated the crap out of him.

Loki Odinson. Freshman on campus, full academic scholarship, smart as all hell and smug about it. He didn’t join his brother often, but when he did he always seemed to make a point of mocking the little Pizzaria. The kitchy mock Italian décor, the preserved bottled of veggies in olive oil that had never once ben opened, the macaroni art (which Tony had done in preK thank you very much you asshole). He regarded it all as tacky and then proceeded to order the most pretentious thing on the menu.

You gotta problem with a meat lovers, asshole? Tony thought to himself and cut the pizza into squares. He slipped it into the serving tray and put it on the heat lamp to be taken out.

His father stopped him. “Pepper’s on break, you’re taking it out.” He instructed quickly, checking over receipts.

“Aw come on dad.”

Howard looked at his son, then to the table. He sighed. “Look, I know their pricks, but sometimes you gotta decide what’s more important: your pride, or your drive.” He shrugged. “And frankly those guys tip enough to pay for my rent and your dorm room so hup two.” He said and smacked the counter twice to hurry him up.

Tony groaned, but picked up the serving tray and marched.

The one thing he really hated was the way Loki’s green eyes looked at him whenever he approached.

It was…hell I don’t know…predatory. Eager. He half expected the pupils to dilate like a cat when it saw a shiny toy.

The dude just lived to fuck with him.

Loki ignored Thor entirely when Tony showed up with the pizza. “Did you make sure to put extra goat cheese on this time, Anthony?” he said in the most exasperating tone as he flipped Tony’s plastic nametag.

The way he insisted on calling him Anthony made his spine crawl. But he smiled with a sort of vapid air and nodded. “Only way to get more is to milk the goat yourself.”

Loki arched an eyebrow. “Oh? Is that how you end up with stains all over your apron?” he pursed his lips, looking at the messy work attire.

“Sorta the point of an apron isn’t it?” Tony said back. He could only get so snarky with a customer. “Keeps my normal clothing safe for preferred stains of my own choice.”

“And I can see you have plenty of those as well.” He took off his sunglasses, toying with the ear hook in his mouth as he looked Tony up and down with speculation. “Do you even wash your clothing before you come to work or do you just sniff for whatever smells the least filthy and go with that?”

Tony felt a twitch behind his eye and worked to keep that smile plastered on his face. “Well you know not everyone has a maid to make sure their cardigans get pressed in the morning.” He said and nodded at Thor with as much of a casual hello as he could. He was determined to walk back to the kitchen without incident when a voice run out that just made him want to hurt someone.

“Yoohoo! Pizza boy! You seem to have forgotten the garlic sauce!”

If his father hadn’t given him a look of stoic sympathy, he might have lost it right then and there. “Yeah surecomingrightup!” Tony answered without turning and walked into the kitchen, hunting through the boxes of ranch, BBQ, alfredo packets until he found the garlic dipping sauce. He grabbed a handful of about six and went back, doing everything but slapping them back on the table. “Enjoy your pizza.” He said dryly.

A hand suddenly grabbed the front of his cargo pants. Tony looked down, eyes wide as saucers when he saw Loki grin wickedly up at him. He took out a fat wad of cash, all fifties, and folded them neatly into the button above the zipper. “For your troubles.” Loki said with a tone of nonchalance. Thor put his face in his head and shook, giving his brother a look of long suffering embarrassment. The thinner brother seemed to take this as his cue and stood up to go without taking so much as a second glance at the pizza. “And next time I come in here, try and have a clean shirt on.”

Thor started to get up. “Look I’m sorry about him. He can be a shit sometimes but he’s going through some personal stuff right now…”

“Look don’t sweat it.” Tony answered back. “It’s not a big deal. I deal with worse than him all the time. Besides…” he hefted the cash. “At least he paid for being a shit.” Thor kinda smiled at him, obviously embarrassed by and for his kid brother. Tony took the chance to escape back into the kitchen before the situation could get any more awkward. He was gripping the money so tightly he didn’t realize it until his palms sweated, dampening the paper. For a moment, he considered tossing the cash into the trash, but there had to be at least $200 bucks there. That was a couple of books he wouldn’t have to beg the student loans office for.

He shoved it into his tip jar and promised himself not to think about who had given it to him.

***

He actually succeeded in not thinking about it until his next paycheck came in and he went to deposit the money in his savings account. He sent it in through the deposit slot and sat there in his dads old car, waiting for the slip of paper to come back.

The intercom buzzed on: “Excuse me sir, the cash deposit you sent in has a folded piece of paper with it. Did you want us to throw that away?”

Tony looked up, blinking a few times in confusion. “What? Uh…yeah sure.” He absently answered and turned back to his own thoughts. He heard the whoosh…clunk sound of the returning unit in the pipes and reached out to take it, curious about the two notes in the container.

One was a slip from the bank showing a deposit of $232 cash.

The other was a slip of notebook paper that had been meticulously folded into a neat little square.

Tony opened it up, not sure what he was expecting.

555-9827
-Call me

He wouldn’t have recognized the handwriting if it hadn’t been for the couple of times Loki had paid with a credit card and signed with a flourish. Tony crumpled it up and tossed it in the floorboard of the car without a second thought.

When he got back to work he uncurled the note and looked at it again. Tony thought about throwing it away, then folded it back up and stuck it in his pocket.

He then forgot about it for a month until he final remembered he was out of clean cloths and it fell out in the dryer, all rumpled with barely legible numbers. Tony just sort of stared at it for a while, debating about just throwing it away for good. Hell it had been a month after all. Thor and Loki hadn’t even visited the pizzeria in that time. So in all likelihood it was just a bad prank. Loki’s attempt at a totally unfunny joke.

He threw it into the trash.

Maybe fate is a kind, gentle thing who wants what is best.

Or maybe she’s a fickle bitch who ships people.

Tony was willing to bet on the latter when he saw Loki walk in. He was alone, sipping on a smoothie from one of the places up the street and making it obvious he wasn’t here for the food. He searched the place languidly until his eyes landed on Tony. His brow furrowed and he strode to a booth, looking around impatiently for a menu despite the fact that it was printed above the counter.

Pepper gave Tony a pleading look and he shrugged. Let the bastard wait. He though, the realized if he didn’t go over there it would be Pepper who was stuck dealing with this asshole. He took one of the print out carry out menus with him and slapped it in front of Loki. “What can I get for you?” Tony started trying not to look him in the eye.

Loki picked up the menu and hummed. “Nothing here really suits my tastes.” He started.

“Well then make something up. You can customize your own pizza…” He started and then gave a short gasp.

Loki’s hand hung lazily on his pocket, just two fingers crooking into the folds. “I don’t want pizza from a shitty little dive.” He instigated, his grin coming back as he made sure Tony was watching his face. “I want sushi…or something equally high class.”

Tony closed his eyes, sighed, and took two steps back. “I can suggest Sakura up the street but we don’t serve sushi here. Closest thing I can suggest are the pepperoni roll ups.”

Loki seemed put out. “I don’t want to go alone.”

“Have your brother take you.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “He’s dating some new pre-med girl, Jane something. Stupid oaf is really over a barrel for this one. Besides, my brother is defiantly not the kind of company I want tonight.” He argued and took a firmer hold on the pocket of the jeans.

Tony licked his lips subconsciously and breathed out a heavy sigh through his nose. “Okay. Uhm…I don’t know what kind of guy you think I am…”

“Oh I think I know exactly what kind of guy you are, Anthony.” Loki drawled out. “After all, you have something of a reputation for…summer romances.”

That was it. Tony went red around the cheeks and clenched his jaw down hard. “No. No you don’t.” He insisted angrily. “Yeah, you know what. I’m bi. So what? Not like it’s any big secret.” He shrugged it off. It wasn’t. Even his dad knew and it wasn’t any big deal. But the fact that Loki would try to use that against him didn’t just piss him off. It told him a lot about Loki’s…personal problems. “Believe it or not, not everybody has to deal with an unsupportive family.”

Loki started and his face sneered up like he was about to shoot his mouth off. But Tony cut him off. “Look, if you’re interest, good for you. But I’m not. At least not in a guy like you.”

“Oh? And what exactly is wrong with me?” Loki snapped, irritated by this outright rejection.

“Uh, you’re an arrogant prick for one.” Tony answered like it was obvious. “You come in here flashing money and act like you can just have whatever you want. And then when I don’t respond to your passive aggressive flirting you leave your brother to apologize for you.” The pizza boy chuffed like it was kind of pathetic. “Dude, nobody likes that guy.”

The college freshman grit his teeth and stood up. “You’ve got a lot of pride for somebody covered in flour and pizza sauce.”

‘And you’ve got a lot of fucking gall for somebody who’ve never had to get dirt under their fingernails.” Tony snapped back. “You wanna ask me on a date? Ask me on a fucking date. But don’t pussy foot around it and think you come off as aloof and charming!” Tony started in and realized that the rest of the customers were watching them with curious glances. He backed off, not wanting to harm his father’s business. But when he looked back around, Loki was headed out the door, his pretty face not giving a single backwards glance.

Good riddance.

***

The pizzeria closed at just after one a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. So by the time Tony got off work he was somewhere between bone tired and dead. He tossed his apron in the dirty hamper, clocked off for the night and grabbed his cell phone, asking his dad if he needed any help before being told to go home and get a few hours shut eye before tomorrow. He smiled, knowing Howard would still be there another hour or two, going over the receipts for the night. Right now all Tony could think about was shower and sleep, and even then not in that order.

So he was not in the mood to see Loki, leaning against the dilapidated fence in the ally way, looking like he was disgusted to even find himself there.

Tony stopped, made a noise in the back of his throat, and walked past him without even a hello.

Loki did a double take, snorted, and then walked after him. “Why don’t you just take the car?” he jerked him thumb back to the old Pontiac.

“It’s my dad’s and he needs it to drive home.” Tony said shortly.

“So you’re just going to walk it?” Loki asked and saw Tony nod. “How far do you live?”

Tony thought about it. “Three and half miles…give or take.”

The university student blanched. “Three and a half miles? On this side of town?”

“No. Half mile on this side of town. Three miles on a side of town you probably wouldn’t be caught dead in.” Actually that was a bit harsh. It was a town built around a university after all. True, like any city it had its divide between the poor streets and the affluent, but Howard was smart with money. They did alright. Never great, but alright. He just wasn’t keen on having Loki follow him there and make sarcastic commentary about his home, neighborhood and family.

“Why don’t you let me drive you?” Loki offered, taking out the car keys and clicking them. Tony nearly dropped his jaw when he saw a dark green Porsche parked across the street flash it’s headlights.

He stopped dead in his tracks. “That…is your car?”

Loki shrugged. “Yeah I guess so. I wanted a Jaguar but dad says I have to pick a major first.” He walked over to it, perhaps with little more swagger to his step now that he had Tony’s attention. “Well…do you want a ride or not?”

Tony hesitated. Okay he was not so car fancy he would let this bastard drive him home! Not by a long shot. He shook his head. “No thanks.”

Loki bit his bottom lip and took a step towards him. “I’ll let you drive.” He promised, tossing the keys at Tony.

Three and a half miles by foot means cutting through other peoples yards and over obstacles like streams. That quickly becomes five miles in a car.

Still, that wasn’t to say Tony wasn’t enjoying the smooth ride.

“Stop over at my dorm, I need to pick something up.” Loki said, pointing to one of the fancier housing dorms on the campus. Even a place like Asgard U had rules. Freshmen had to live in the campus dorms, where as sophomores could join a frat house. It made Tony a little more than nervous to see the dorms with the name Odinson emblazoned on a plaque as the major contributors to having it built. “Do you want to come up?” Loki asked, trying to look as though he didn’t care one way or the other. “I might be a minuet.”

But Tony wasn’t falling for that trick. “No thanks. I’m good here.” He took the keys out of his pocket and tossed them at Loki. “Wouldn’t want you to think I’m running off with the car or anything.” He said with a smile at just how put out Loki looked. It was kind of nice seeing that he was such a petulant little shit as he walked up the steps to his dorm room with a quick pace. Tony did notice that he had a nice ass on him. Hell he could notice that and still not like the guy, right?

It took Loki ten minutes to get whatever he needed and come back down. Assuming he had actually been getting something and not just soothing his wounded pride. He gave Tony back the car keys and they headed for Tony’s house, driving the rest of the way in silence. When they got there Loki just slipped out of the car without looking at him, taking the car keys back and speeding off as fast as he could with a frustrated look on his face. Tony laughed, maybe feeling a little better that he’d actually gotten under the spoiled bastards skin so easily just by refusing to…

The car turned at a cross section, screeching the tread off the tires as it turned around and the turbo hit, pulling up with a jerky start right in front of Tony.

“Lose something, princess?” Tony couldn’t help himself.

Loki got out of the car and walked over the grass towards him. He took a deep breath and sucked in his lips a little, glaring at Tony as though the man infuriated him to no end. Finally he chuffed. “Go on a date with me

Tony paused, considered, than let a smile tug at the corner of his lips. “I’m sorry could you repeat that? I don’t speak arrogance.”

Loki gave an indignant little noise and jerked back around. “Do you want to go on a date with me?” he spat out, almost like a threat. When Tony took just a little too longer to answer, Loki’s eyes got wider. “I’ll pay. We can go somewhere nice…or you can pick.”

Tony snorted and shook his head. “You’re kind of clueless aren’t you?” he started in and let himself get just a little closer. “You’re new to this aren’t you? I mean like you just came out and all…”

Loki licked his lips nervously. “Dad’s not exactly big on the whole gay son thing.” He explained shortly.

“Yeah. Yeah I mean…I kinda figured. Look…” Tony said firmly, putting on his no bullshit face. “One date. No pressure. No games. Just. One. Date.” He help up a finger for emphasis. “And from there…well…we can see how it goes.” He offered and was charmed despite his best attempt at staying neutral by just how relieved Loki looked.

Something sort of spur of the moment his him and he touched Loki’s shoulder gently, almost in commiseration with him. He leaned in close and their lips touched in a warm, experimental press. A tingle went through him, starting in the chest and moving through to his stomach. He peeked and saw that Loki’s eyes were closed and his hand moved to touch Tony’s voluntarily. “Okay. Two dates.”

Chapter Text

They were on their third date.

The first had been just shy of a disaster. Loki had picked somewhere Tony couldn’t have afforded to go if he saved for a month. The kind of place where a suit and tie are required and Tony hadn’t been keen on wearing his dads out. Loki had of course namedropped and gotten them in. Then the whole menu had been in French and Loki had ordered something for them that looked more like artwork than something edible.

And that’s when Tony had realized what was going on. “You know something, princess?” he said, leaning forward with a wry grin. “You’ll get a lot farther with me if you don’t try so hard to be aloof and impressive.”

Loki had turned bright red, chewed on the end of the fork hesitantly, and then said in a soft tone. “Would you rather go get a burger?”

“Yeah.” Tony had said back. “I’d much rather go get a burger.”

They’d done the same for their second date, opting for Mexican. The night had gone a lot better, and Tony had let it end with a kiss at the door that left them both a little surprised.

And then he’d taken initiative and called the number.

So now they were sitting in the front seat of his dad’s car, watching a movie at the drive-in. They could have gone to a theater, but Tony liked the kitchy surroundings. Besides, this way they had a little bit more privacy.

When Loki’s fingers tangled with his, Tony felt a little flush of warmth. They hadn’t done much yet. A couple kisses. A finger on the hem of his jeans, shyly asking for something that neither of them were really ready to do yet.

But they were getting there.

It took Tony about five seconds to realize that for all his posturing, Loki was shy with sex stuff. He figured it out when he put an arm around Loki’s shoulders, pulled him close and slid his fingers down the contours of his back and Loki’s breath hitched. There was a familiar glint of apprehension and Tony smiled. Loki pushed forward, kissing against Tony’s neck, working his way up to the lips as he felt ready. It sounded graceful, but it was as much the two of them fumbling around in the car, trying to enjoy one another for whatever this was turning out to be.

Tony made a low groaning noise as he realized just how turned on he was getting and felt it press on the inside of his jeans. He wrapped his arms around Loki and started to push his weight against him.

The small noise of fear from the paler young man made him pull back. “Lokes?” he asked softly.

“Uhm…” Loki put a hand to his chest, gently pushing him back. “I…I don’t know.” He swallowed, looking up into those big, clever brown eyes.

Suddenly Tony got it. “Loki…we don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for.” He promised. “I mean I want to. But I’m happy if you just wanna make out right now.” He would be jerking off when he got home, but that was fine. He was getting a sense of something about this guy. There was a lot of attitude and bluffing. And that usually meant he was compensating for something. Lack of experience? Most likely. Heck he remembered his first time with a guy. Nervous as all hell. Wondering who would be on top. Trying to cover it with sarcasm and jokes.

If Loki wasn’t ready, he wasn’t going to push it.

“I…like what we’re doing right now.” Loki answered, a little bit of an apologetic grin on his face. “But, there is something I do want to do.” He reached down with caution and rubbed against the strained crotch of the jeans.

“I would really appreciate that.” He admitted freely, biting his lower lip. Loki undid the button and slid down the zipper, his mouth finding Tony’s neck as he nuzzled there, obviously hot for this.

It was a summer night, and under the lights of movie projected on a wooden screen, Loki took it out and handled it generously. Tony tried to control his breathing, make it last a little longer. Loki kissed up on him, his palm squeezing tight as he laughed lightly, enjoying getting him off. His cock was a sturdy thing and Loki was really thrilled to feel it’s weight up against his fingers. He wanted to do more. But right now this was all he could handle emotionally. When the flow of semen came out the top he chuckled, and it satisfied something deep inside that he was able to do this.

Tony gasped, suddenly feeling really nervous and foolish. “Just a sec…” he reached across Loki and fumbled through the glove box for some wet naps to clean himself up with. When he was done he shoved them into the finished popcorn box and smiled over at Loki. “Hey.” He coiled Loki’s hair in his fingers, still a little breathless. “Would uh…would you like anything?” his fingers dipped low against the chest, wandering around the abdomen as he toyed with the button down white shirt. He really wanted to see more of Loki.

But the instant his fingers started to undo the buttons, Loki grabbed his hand with apologetic firmness. “Not yet.” He asked in a frightened tone. “I…I like it just I’m not…”

“You don’t need to explain anything to me.” Tony promised softly, kissing his lips again and letting the joy wash over him. “Look if you want something I’m here for it. I want to give it to you. But if you’re not ready then hey we don’t have to do shit you don’t want to do. I’m not that kind of guy.”

“No, you’re not.” Loki hummed, laying a comfortable head against his shoulder. “You’re a really great guy.”

“Not just a slob with pizza stains on his shirt?” Tony joked and Loki gave a chuckle.

“Well you did change before we left so I guess you at least listen well.”

Tony stroked down his shoulder. They had entirely lost track of the movie plot in the last half hour, so there was nothing to do but sit here and wait until the next movie from the double feature began. “Hey, my parents are having a 4th of July BBQ next weekend.” He remembered, looking down at those green eyes. “You can come if you want. Dad said he wants to meet you.”

Loki blinked several times. “Your father wants to meet me?”

“Yeah. Well I mean don’t take it too seriously. They just want to know who I’m hanging out with you know. Who I’m…dating.”

Loki smiled a little. “Are you asking me to go steady, Anthony?”

“Not if you keep calling me Anthony.”

Loki kissed his neck and collarbone. “I’d like that. My dad usually drags us up to the lake house for the fourth, but it’s all his business guys trying to act outdoorsy.” He rolled his eyes. “Fucking bunch a half assed blue bloods.”

“Geez you got a mouth on you.” Tony kidded. “But yeah my mom and dad really want to meet you.”

Loki nodded.

***

Since they’d gone out in Tony’s dad’s car, Loki had to get dropped off first. The Odinson house was like something out of a gothic horror, only much better kept up. It was one of the oldest houses in town and sat amid other houses just as old. Loki had told him the code to get in past the front gate so he could drive him up to the front door. They shared a quick kiss and Tony told him what time to be ready next Saturday.

When Loki closed the door and Tony turned around, there was a much larger figure right behind him.

“Hey.” Thor said in an agitated tone. “You got a minuet?”

***

They sat at a table, drinking coffee at one of those hipster barista places where there was poetry night and open mic night. Thankfully tonight was neither. Thor looked obviously out of place here, but it was a good place to talk without people getting into your business.

“Look I’m not here to do the big brother thing and tell you to lay off or some stupid shit like that.” Thor started, stirring his coffee without looking at Tony. “I just, ya know, wanna make sure everything is okay.”

“Like, okay how?” Tony crossed his arms.

Thor scrunched up his face a little bit, like he was tasting his words in his mouth. “Alright. Uhm…you seem like a decent guy ya know. I know my brother gives you shit sometimes and all that but you seem okay. I just want to make sure this isn’t…you getting back at him.”

Tony stiffened. “Uh, okay. I guess that’s a valid concern. No. I actually like your brother. Yeah he was kind of a jerk at first but you know, I guess he just didn’t really know how to ask me out.”

Thor nodded. “Okay. Good.” He visibly eased and took a long sip from his mug. “So, you two doing okay?”

“Just the third date man. Nothing major. But yeah it’s nice.”

“I know this is coming off like really weird. But dad…he doesn’t want to be involved in Loki’s…”

“Boyfriends.” Tony finished. “Yeah Lokes kinda filled me in on the whole family situation.”

Thor looked up with surprise. “He did?” he seemed worried when Tony nodded. “How much did he tell you?”

“Is there something he should have told me? Like do I need to be wary of black vans or something?”

“No! No nothing like that just…” The blond man tossed his head from side to side, wondering how much he could say. “Loki’s gotten hurt before, by someone he really liked.”

“Like a break up?” Well okay. It’s not like nobody ever got a bad relationship. So maybe that’s why he was so hesitant about the sex thing.

“No.” Thor stated and leaned forward. “Look, I know he really likes you so I’m asking you not to tell anybody this okay?” He waited till Tony nodded and then sighed. “Okay couple years back Loki was dating this guy I knew from my football team. He seemed alright, they were doing okay and starting to get real close. Then one night, when they were supposed to be out together, I saw him in one of the team hangouts around town. He was laughing with a bunch of other guys I didn’t know and bragging.” Thor’s jaw clenched and his muscles stood out firmly in his t-shirt.

“Oh shit.” Tony muttered.

“Yeah they uhm…they beat him up pretty bad. I returned the favor and forced the asshole to take me out to where they’d dumped him on a side road out of town. He was unconscious, but I managed to get him to the hospital. He didn’t wake up for three days but hey at least he woke up.” Thor tried make light of it, but it was obvious how much it made him furious.

“So did the guy end up in prison?” Tony asked.

“No. No dad uhm…dad didn’t want the scandal out.” Thor shook his head. “He asked me and mom to keep quiet about it. Said it was for Loki’s own good so that he wouldn’t be humiliated in front of everyone. Dad did what he does best I mean, killed the dudes scholarships, that guy will never get further than being a gas station attendant for the rest of his life.”            

“But he basically wanted it to go away.” Tony surmised. “Okay, that explains a lot actually.” He thought of something and debated bringing it up. But if he was right then it was something he needed to know. “This might be getting TMI but I need to know so I don’t make a mistake because I don’t know something.” Tony licked his lips nervously. “Did they…rape him?”

Thor frowned. “No. No it uh didn’t end up like that. About the only good thing was that it didn’t end up that way.” He handled the coffee cup with both hands. “Look I just don’t want him to get hurt again. Okay he’s my little brother and I don’t have a problem with who he is and him liking guys. I don’t get it but I’m not a dick about it like some people.” He spat out. “I just don’t want him to get hurt. You’re the first guy I’ve even seen him interested in since then. I think it’ll really ruin him if…”

“I’m not. Not going to hurt him.” Tony promised. “I’m not an idiot I could tell there was something off. He was really nervous at the drive thru.” He cut himself off before he said something Thor probably didn’t want to hear. “But I’m just telling you I’m not going to intentionally hurt him. I’m defiantly not going to let anybody do that to him.”

Thor gulped down another swig of coffee and sat back. “Don’t tell anyone and don’t let Loki know I told you.” He advised.

“I won’t.” Tony promised faithfully. He tried to smile. “So, he really likes me, huh?”

Thor returned the smile. “Won’t stop talking about you. When you called to ask him on another date he practically started giggling.”

They looked at one another and laughed, the atmosphere easing.

Tony looked up at Thor, the the concern drawn across his brow and the tension of his body. “I like him.” He said. “A lot.”

Thor smiled. “I’m glad.”                                                                               

***

Loki was a little shocked when Maria hugged him close, welcoming him into their backyard like he was already family. “Hello dear. Oh we’ve so been looking forward to meeting you. Tony!” she barked sharply, bringing her hand up to the back of his head. “Go get him a drink for goodness sake I raised you better than this!” she ordered sharply. “Howard! Put a couple more I’m sorry darling would you like a burger or a hot dog? Maybe a bratwurst?” she asked, her speech brisk and friendly.

“A…a hamburger would be lovely thank you.” Loki stammered out as Tony brought him back a Coke. “Your mother is uh…”

“Insane?”

“Loud.” Loki corrected. “But good. She reminds me a bit of my mom actually.” He chuckled and looked over at Tony. “Thanks for inviting me.” He smiled and jumped when Tony took his hand firmly.

“Don’t be nervous. My mom and dad are cool with the whole thing.” He promised. “Nobody here will give you shit if we hold hands or kiss or anything.”

“Good to know.” Loki smiled as a plate was brought to him with a burger the size of his head and Maria directed him towards the buffet table piled high with food. She seemed to be under the opinion that the rich didn’t know how to feed themselves and proceeded to pile Loki’s plate so high he had to double stack them just to keep it from breaking.

“So this is him?” A young man walked up with short blond hair and a cocky attitude. “You the guy that’s going to steal our Tony away?”

“Hey come on Clint.” Tony punched his shoulder roughly. “Yeah this is Loki. He’s the reason I haven’t been our drinking with you guys in a while.”

“Well shit next time just bring him. Nat and Steve and everybody are wanting to meet him anyhow.” Clint clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Just don’t order a French beer and everything will be cool. Nat already orders Russian vodka and I don’t know if we can take another bilingual drinking contest.”

“You told them.” Loki huffed.

“I told them. It was funny.” He shrugged as Loki smacked his chest playfully and they started eating.

“I like this.” Loki said. “I mean right now I would probably be trying to avoid talking to anybody while dad had our meals catered and tried to convince Jotun Industries to merge with his firm.” He chuckled, taking a big bite of jello salad with marshmellows. “I like this better.”

“Better then roast duck with orange sauce and tanning on a yatch?”

“Do I look like I tan?” Loki asked smartly and they chuckled.

“So how’d you wrangle a free weekend then?” Tony said, sipping his drink.

“Oh I told him I signed up for a summer course.” He waved it off. “He wasn’t paying much attention and Thor backed me up so…”

“Thor’s a pretty nice guy.” Tony said. “He cares a lot about you, ya know.”

Loki nodded absently. “Yeah well, he’s kinda taken care of me my whole life. I men I got the usual stuff when I was a kid. But he always kept them from getting at me. Thor was always the popular one with the sports group, and he doesn’t exactly look like the kinda guy you want to mess with. So if he told people not to touch his little brother, they left me alone.” He took a healthy bite of the burger and hummed. “He was the first person I came out to. Didn’t even flinch just accepted it. It meant a lot to me at the time.”

“How’d your parents take it? If I can ask?” Tony started. He had what Thor told him in the back of his mind, but he couldn’t ask about that directly. They were just getting to the part where disclosing personal information was a must. So it was safe to discuss family.

Loki shrugged. “Mom was fine. She said she sorta figured it out and was just waiting for me to tell her. Dad…” he gave a long pause. “Dad didn’t want to talk about it. He just told me to be discreet, not to get myself into any trouble.” He gave a false smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “I think the best he could make of it was ‘At least you we won’t have to worry about you knock some girl up.’ And that was kind of it.”

Tony reached next to him and gently put a hand on his, their fingers intertwining and they leaned towards one another softly. In the chaos of a neighborhood party, for moment there was a bubble surrounding them that no screaming child with a sparkler could penetrate.

“You’re parents are really relaxed about it. How did you manage that?” Loki asked suddenly.

“Oh well, I’m bi. I dated some girls in high school, but I always had this kind of attraction to dudes to. I kept my head down in the locker rooms and tried to make sure I covered it with the usual sarcasm and all. But my first year at MIT there was this guy, Bruce. We bunked together and he didn’t really have any family so I brought him home for Christmas break. We…fooled around. Couple a times and I realized I like guys a lot to. We were kinda together for a while, but his scholarship fell through and he had to go back home.” Tony thought for a moment and then confirmed. “We stay in touch, but he’s moved onto a new relationship with this cute girl named Betty.”

“And have you...moved on?” Loki asked, the fear in his voice more obvious than he thought.

“Yeah. There’s this new guy I like. Kind of an ass at first. But if you can get past that he’s really sweet.” Tony ran his fingers up Loki’s wrist and they looked at one another till Loki started giggling like an idiot and covered his face. Tony tilted his chin up and gave a kiss with just enough to let him know that it would have been more intimate if his parents weren’t less than three feet away.

There was a cracking sound in the sky and the evening flooded with bursts of color. Children squealed and pointed and the parents drank their beer and held babies in their laps. Loki and Tony sat on the picnic table, letting in sink in that they had just made the step from hanging out to being boyfriends.

Chapter Text

A nice thing about a university town is the attempt at shoving culture down your throat every late spring through early autumn. Tony wasn’t that much into art, but Loki loved the local artists and how they just set up their booths with a million and one things they’d built out of beads and clay. There was also more friend food than any human being should be allowed to consume in a single afternoon.

And Loki realized how cute Tony looked after biting into a funnel cake and getting powdered sugar all over his face. He was tempted to do a lot of things, but what he ended up doing was wiping some of it off with a finger and licking it off, delighting in the knowledge that his boyfriend was watching. He turned his head to the side, avoiding the clear gaze of desire as he sipped from his strawberry lemonade.

They hadn’t had sex yet.

He wanted to. Holy crap he wanted to! But Loki had his own reasons for holding off. And he just wasn’t ready yet.

Tony smiled at him.

Oh my fucking god I want to be ready.

Loki couldn’t help himself, he turned away again, trying to do anything but look into those gorgeous, heartfelt brown eyes. The way they made him feel. The stupid, giddy way he wanted to laugh when Tony would grin. Part of him wanted to be more guarded in the man’s presence. After all, it was just the first week of August. They’d only been on five dates, six now. In another month and a half Tony would be headed back to MIT, a four hour drive from here and Loki would be starting his freshman year at Asgard U.

It was a summer romance. And Loki was trying to convince himself not to become too invested in it.

Tony’s hand reached across the table and touched his fingers, covering them with sticky powdered sugar. Loki felt his chest beat hard.

And then he froze.

“Princess?” Tony took immediate noticed. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

The younger man took a steadying breath, biting his bottom lip hard. “Nothing.” He said in a lying tone. “I…I just think I saw someone I know…knew.” He corrected himself quickly. No. Nonono. No not here. Please not in front of him. He stood up smoothly, straightening his shirt. “Look uhm, can we meet by the apple butter booth in a bit? I just want to go say hi?”

“Yeah, okay.” Tony followed the direction of his gaze. About three booths down he could see a couple of greasy looking guy about his age glaring at Loki. He stood up, slipping a hand around Loki’s upper arm and gave him a protective look. “Hey…you know I’ve got your back right? If you need something…”

Loki smiled and removed his hand. “It’s fine okay. I just need to go take care of something and I’ll be right back.”

Tony let him go, but watched where they were headed. Loki didn’t look at the greasy dude, but the second he passed him that guy and his friends turned and started following him. It gave Tony a bad feeling all over. He hesitated though. What if this was something Loki really didn’t want him involved in? What if he had his reasons? He wanted to follow. Something in his gut screamed that his boyfriend was headed into a bad situation. But things could often be so much more complicated. He just couldn’t get rid of that feeling…

Loki’s jaw clenched. “What the fuck do you want Joel?”

“The fuck do I want?” The bruiser looking guy shook his head. “You and your fucking dad ruined my life!”

“You ruined your own fucking life.” Loki barked back. “Nobody told you to fuck me over like that!”

“Nobody made you hit on me either, you fag!” The guy named Joel pushed towards Loki, backing him further into the allyway.

“You did this once already…” He threatened, noticing Joel’s comrades coming in to trap him. “How’d it feel when my brother broke your jaw?”

“Lot better then you’re gonna feel in a minuet.” He moved, his arm extending and Loki took a fist to the stomach, bending over as he felt sick. “Fucking little pretty boy.”

Loki caught his breath, sinking to the ground. “You certainly thought so.” He gasped out as one of the other men came around behind him, grabbing his head and forcing him down.

“You know what? Yeah. Yeah I thought you were a pretty little rich boy.” Joel kicked him in the shoulder, he friends starting to join in. “Fucking little rich boy. You get your daddy and big brother to do all your shit for you!”

Loki jerked and tumbled with every contact. He tried to curl into a ball like he had the first time, protecting his vital organs.

“What the fuck! Hey!”

There was the sound of a scuffle. Loki pulled up, daring to look as he saw Tony bounding in, his fist making perfect contact with Joel’s eye. Two more people, one of whom he didn’t know, a red headed girl who could apparently high kick on point, and Clint, grabbed hold of the other two. The fight ended shortly after, the red haired girl giving Clint a quick check over before nodding at Loki and walking as if she was standing guard at the ally entry.

Tony wrapped his arms around Loki carefully, looking at him like he was a fragile thing. “Come on. We need to go to a hospital.” He grunted, wrapping his arms around his injured boyfriend.

“No. Tony I’m fine.” Loki winced as he was carried in Tony’s arms like precious cargo, cradled against the broad, strong chest.

“Like hell you are. Look Natasha’s gonna call the police. Her uncles a cop so he can help look for those fuckers. But right now we need you to be okay. We’re going to the hospital.” Tony insisted and they headed for an unfamiliar Cadillac in the bank parking lot. Turned out it was Clint’s. He might have broken a few speeding records getting them there and once Loki was checked in, smiled at the pale, small man.

“You know if you got beat up so you could break up with Tony I wouldn’t blame you. The guys a prick.” He grinned as Tony smacked the back of his head playfully. “Look I promised I’d call Nat when we got here. She texted me and she’s down at the station giving the cops a description and they want a statement from me. Back in a couple hours.”

Tony smiled at his friend and turned back to Loki. But the green eyes were downcast and sad, and he was blatantly refusing to look Tony in the eyes. “It wasn’t your fault.” Tony insisted, scooting close to him on the hospital bed. Loki just sort of shrugged and moved away, acting like he didn’t want to be touched. Tony wanted nothing more than to reach out and hold him close. But at the same time he didn’t want to do anything that might make him more frightened. “Loki, babe were those the guys who…” he stopped himself, remembering that he wasn’t supposed to know.

But it was too late, Loki’s head snapped around. “The guys who what?” He frowned darkly and Tony’s look of deep concern said it all. “Thor.” He surmised. “God damn him! Just once can’t he mind his own business!”

“It wasn’t his fault! Lokes he just wanted to be sure that it wasn’t going to happen again.” Tony swore and laid a gentle hand on his boyfriend’s knee.

Loki pulled back. “I don’t want any bodies pity. I don’t need it!” he turned away.

“It’s not pity!” Tony snapped and then both men went silent as the nurse came in to check his information. There are few things in the world as hateful and awkward as needing so desperately to talk to someone and not having the privacy to do so. But Tony wasn’t the sort to just shove off. The second the nurse was gone he laid back in. “It isn’t pity. It’s concern. Your brother cares about you. I care about you.” Tony put a hand on his. “Were those the same guys as last time?”

Loki bit his lower lip. “One of them was. Joel. He was the guy I was…dating. I didn’t know the others.”

Tony fumed, gritting his teeth. “Well this time we’re going to do something about it. We can file a police report, bring them up on assault charges…”

The pale man gave a bitter laugh. “What good do you think that’s going to do, Tony? Fuck, last time they left me in the middle of nowhere and I was in a coma for three days. And you wanna know what happened?” He looked desperately up, his bottom lip trembling. “I have to see him every fucking time I go get gas!” His voice was choked and raw, tears slowly starting to threaten at the edge of his eyes.

Tony didn’t hesitate. He brought Loki into his arms and cradled him. Everything seemed to break at once, Loki clinging to his shirt fabric and bawling out against his chest. Tony rubbed a soft hand in his hair, willing a protective barrier around them, whispering soft little noises to Loki. He didn’t tell him to shush or try and quiet him. He just sat there and let the grief pour out. He didn’t want to say any of the stupid things like ‘It’s going to be okay.’ Because right now in this moment, nothing really was going to feel okay. It probably hadn’t felt okay in a long time. He didn’t want to say something arrogant, like ‘I’m here for you.’ Because that made it sound like he was the solution to all Loki’s problems.

What could he say? What could he do to show…

“I want to help.” Tony said suddenly and Loki looked up at him, sniffing. “I want to help. Whatever that means to you.” He smiled. “Look if you want me and Clint to go beat the crap outta this guy then I’ll go do that. If you want him to leave and never come back, we’ll send Natasha. You want to go to the cops, I’ll be there with you.”

Loki wiped his eyes and frowned. “What if I want to drop it and never talk about it again?” he asked shortly.

Tony bit his bottom lip and cringed. “If…that’s what you want. I don’t have any kind of right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.” He admitted.

Loki sat up. “Tony you don’t understand. If I go to the police this becomes public. Dad would be furious! Everything would come out!”

“Loki they attacked you!” Tony insisted.

“It was my own fault. I shouldn’t have followed him.”

Tony stopped. He licked his lips and asked what was on his mind. “Why did you?” Loki wouldn’t look him in the eyes and Tony slid his hands up and down Loki’s back. “Why did you go with him?”

A slow shake of the head. “I…I didn’t want you to know. I saw him watching me in the crowd. I was afraid he was going to make a scene.” Loki trembled and covered his face in his hands. “I just didn’t want you to know about that!” He buried himself in Tony again, shaking and crying out everything as his boyfriend comforted him.

Tony rubbed his back and held him, not letting go even when the nurse came in a second time. “Look you don’t have to make any decisions today.” He told him. “Let’s just make sure you’re okay enough to go home from this.” Loki sniffled and nodded, agreeing to that much. He agreed to go while the nurse did a physical, even though Loki wanted him there. He wasn’t a blood relative so they could kick him out at any time. Better just to go along and come back in when the check over was done.

Tony walked out into the waiting room and looked for a magazine.

“So, you’re him.”

It wasn’t a question. Tony looked up to see a man, perhaps fifteen years his father’s senior looking him over speculatively. There was nothing malicious or disparaging about his glance. More like he was just sizing Tony up. He was well dressed, serious looking, and had the baring of someone who was used to having things go his way.

“I’m guessing your Loki’s father.” Tony said, unable to keep all the sarcasm out of his voice.

“You’re Howard Stark’s boy. I’ve met your father on the city council. Good man, smart. Potential to do so much more than run a pizza parlor.” He said and walked forward. “Thank you for ensuring my sons safety. You may leave now.”

Tony stiffened. “I’d kinda like to here that from Loki…sir.” He added, hoping the man wouldn’t press for him to go. He couldn’t legally stay if a family member wanted him kicked out. They had only really let him into the room because he was the one who brought Loki in and he might have information.

The older man’s eyes bore into his with a sort of apathetic discrimination. “I assure you, he is in good hands. You may leave, now.” And he took a step forward.

Tony felt a heavy fury in his chest and his muscles clenched up. Some warning went off in the back of his head and he sucked it back. “Okay. Sure. Let Loki know I’ll come around to check on him tomorrow.”

“He will need to rest for a while until he has recovered his senses.” The imposing man said. “I would advise that you not call until you have been called.”

Yeah, fuck that. Tony said as he walked out the automatic doors.

Chapter Text

Tony called that evening.

He heard Odin’s voice answer, but the second he spoke he was hung up on. So he called again.

And again.

When the receiver went dead the fourth time he wanted to grab the keys, drive up to their little mansion and bang down the gates. But Tony was smarter than that. Keep your cool. You won’t be helping Loki if you cause a scene. Besides, the real world didn’t work that way. You didn’t just go banging on your lovers gate against a disapproving family and expect to get anywhere.

Loki is an adult. He gets to make his own choices. I just need to know he’s okay.

Tony took a deep breath and dialed the number again. “Before you hang up!” he shouted the second someone said hello. “Please, please just tell me he’s doing okay.”

There was a long pause on the other end of the line. “I’m okay.” The voice said, a tremor in the tone.

“Loki.” He whispered, a weight coming off his chest. “Hey. Look I’m sorry I didn’t come back in but…”

“I know, it’s okay.” Loki sounded quiet, like he was whispering. But he also sounded thrilled to hear Tony’s voice. “I miss you.”

“You too.” Tony answered then heard someone talking in the background.

“It’s for Thor!” Loki yelled back and Tony could do nothing but listen as the phone scuffled and was switched over to a stronger male voice.

“Hello?”

“Yeah uh…hey Thor.”

Another long pause. “Hello. It’s good that you called.”

Is it? Tony found himself wondering. “Oh…it is?”

A small chuckle. “Yeah, we were worried. Didn’t want you to get scared off or anything.”

Tony smiled. Thor wasn’t what you could call a genius, but he was quick on the uptake. “Nah, I don’t scare easy.” He promised.

“That’s good. It helped you know. You helped a lot. I’ll talk to dad, see if I can get some time.”

Translation: I’m dad’s favorite. Let me see what I can do. “Okay. Just let him know I miss him. Let him know…just tell him to take care of himself.”

“I will. I promise.” Thor said and coughed. “I gotta go. I’ll do what I can.”

No promises, but I’m in your corner. “Thank you.” Tony heard the line go dead and he hung up, sated for now.

“Heck of a family aren’t they?”

Tony turned to see his father standing in the doorway, looking at him sympathetically. “Err, yeah their real interesting.”

Howard nodded and shifted his position. “I’m going to grab a beer. Want one?”

“No dad I think I’m gonna turn in early.”

“Tony.” Howard’s tone was firm but sincere. “Come have a beer with your dad.”

The young man looked at him, not 100% sure where this was about to go. “Uhm…yeah okay.”

They sat out on the porch, watching the sun set over the horizon. The beer had gone warm before Howard started to turn to his son and speak. “You know I never had a problem with it.”

Tony took a long drink, letting him talk.

“I mean it…well it floored me at first. I kept thinking to myself, was it something I did? Something I said? Did I not play catch with him enough or something?” Howard sat back against the swing, arms stretched out. “I mean I didn’t think there was something wrong with it. But when you’re a parent you just can’t help yourself. You look at every decision your kid makes and all you can see is a world of trouble. You worry that this is going to get them hurt. That people are going to want to hurt them for it. That the world won’t see just how amazing of a kid they are, past this one insignificant little trait that shouldn’t even matter.”

Tony looked at his father. It wasn’t that Howard wasn’t a good father. He just wasn’t the type of man to sit and talk like this.

“But I never stopped seeing you as my son.” Howard said. “Hell I even liked Bruce. He was a good kid, smart. Great future ahead of him. That’s when I realized you didn’t inherit my taste in women….er…partners.” he chuckled a little.

“You got mom.” Tony supplied helpfully.

“No kiddo. Your mom got me. I was into the blond, giggly, long legged girls. And here comes your mom, brunette, all hips and trim waist and a smile like a firework…” Howard smiled. “You know she slapped me the first time we met?” He said like it was the best day of his life. “I was hers from then on. I just didn’t know it yet.”

Tony couldn’t help but laugh.

“This Loki, he seems like a good kid. Shy, get the feeling his parents don’t exactly approve of his lifestyle.”

Tony nodded.

“Thing is, when you’re a parent, all you can think about is protecting your child. And sometimes that leads you to make the wrong decisions, even when you try not to. What you think is keeping them safe, sometimes means you’re isolating them. What you see as keeping their secrets really means you’re taking away their right to tell.” Howard took another long sip of beer. “And the hardest thing to do, as a parent, is to let go. Because letting go means you have to let them make their own mistakes and you can’t reach out to catch them.”

Tony sat forward, unknowingly mimicking his father’s posture. “I really like him dad.”

“So do I. So does your mom. He’s gonna have to put on some weight though. She’s worried he’s not getting fed enough.” They shared a laugh and Howard nodded. “Give this a little time Tony. Wait for a call back from him.”

“I got hung up on.”

“I noticed. But sometimes you gotta give enough time for things to be absorbed. Loki knows you cared enough to keep calling back. And from the sound of it someone over there is lending a hand. It’s not a bad situation. Just give it some time.” Howard put a hand on Tony’s shoulder. “Whatever happens, your mom and I are here for you.”

“I know.” Tony looked over at Howard. He took in the site of his father, drinking a beer, still fit, maybe with just a little bit of sag. But good looking for a man nearing fifty. Howard had never once judge his life, just accepted outwardly, even if there was an inward struggle, that he might not know if he should call Tony’s new someone hun or sport. “Dad?”

“Yeah Tony?”

“Thanks.”

***

Tony saw her the second she walked in. She just looked so…out of place here, wearing a Vera Wang champagne suit that matched her hair flawlessly. Tasteful, well-made jewelry that said I-have-so-much-money-I-don’t-need-to-show-it. She was looking around as though searching for someone and smiled as she saw Howard, waving to him. Tony knew he had never seen the woman before, but Howard seemed to know her.

They spoke for a few moments, than Howard gestured to Tony, asking him to come over. Tony dusted pizza flour off onto his apron, clapping his hands together a few times to cast off excess dust before going to see what was up.

“Anthony Stark.” She spoke in friendly tones, holding out her immaculately manicured hand to shake his. “I am Frigga, Loki’s mother.”

Tony blinked for a moment, sizing up the situation. Of course! He should have suspected as much. “How is he?” was the first thing to come out of his mouth.

Frigga seemed greatly heartened by his asking. “He’s doing much better thanks to you.” She smiled and turned back to Tony’s father. “Thank you so much Howard.”

“Not a problem. Good to see you again Frizzy.”

Frigga smiled and took a seat on one of the booths, indicating that Tony should do the same.

“Frizzy?” he asked, unable to repress his curiosity.

“Your father and I knew one another in high school. Not romantically, but I introduced him to your mother.” She explained. “And when he applied for a business loan to refit the old hardware store into a Pizza Parlor, as bank president I signed off on it.”

“So he decided to talk to you about this?” Tony asked, not sure how he felt about his father taking that step.

“No. He decided to make sure we could talk about this.” Frigga enunciated. “You and my son have been dating for a little over a month now. And yet I’ve not been permitted to meet you?” she sounded concerned, yet seemed to be gently teasing him as well. “Can you blame a mother for being a little miffed?”

Tony chuckled lightly. “Okay. Okay so we are still…dating?” he asked hopefully.

Frigga smiled. “Do you still want to be dating?”

“Yes! Yes...ma’am.” he corrected, a little surprised by his own outburst.

Frigga on the other hand seemed greatly charmed by this. “I understand you met my husband?” she caught the look on Tony’s face before he remembered to cover it with politeness. “Yes, Odin can be a bit of a trial at times. But he does mean well. He just wants Loki to be happy.”

“It doesn’t come off that way. I mean I know Loki has been hurt. I know he doesn’t trust a lot of people…”

“He doesn’t trust anyone, save myself and Thor.” Frigga explained. “That’s why I was so heartened when I found out about you. Anthony, you are the first person he’s shown interest in since the incident. We didn’t even know until this happened.” She shook her head. “In some ways he is just as stubborn as Odin. Just as headstrong. I think he wanted to show he could care for himself before…”

Tony nodded. “I noticed. Loki doesn’t want anyone to have to protect him.” He thought about how Loki had gone off to talk to Joel himself, just for the sake of not having to bring Tony into it. He thought about how the men would wrap himself so tight some times, just to avoid risking anyone getting to close to him.

“He’s a strong young man. I am terribly proud of him. But he has let you in Anthony. He’s been lighter, more open since you two started dating. I would be a fool not to let that happen.” Frigga smiled and laid a hand on Tony’s. “Why don’t you come for dinner this Friday? I know Loki would love to see you. And a formal introduction to the family would go a long way towards making everyone feel a lot more comfortable.” She added hopefully.

“How would Odin feel about that?” he couldn’t help but ask a little bitterly.

Odin is not the one inviting you, now is he?”

***

When Loki turned to look at him, Tony couldn’t hold back his smile. “Hey babe.” He whispered under his breath when Loki threw his arms around him. He looked better. Still a little bruised, but much better. Tony wrapped his arms around Loki and gave him a quick neck kiss, still wanting to provide the best appearance he could. Thor came down the stairs and gave him a hard smack on the shoulder, overall seeming to be in a good mood to see Tony back.

‘Glad we didn’t scare you off.” Thor said, seeming genuinely happy to have Tony there. “Okay look he’s gonna put you through the ringer. All the usual question I get when I’m dating a girl.” Thor warned him. “Just don’t bullshit him. Be relaxed and just be cool. Be cool.”

“I’m cool.” Tony assured him.

“Be cool.” Loki reiterated nervously.

“Is there something happening I don’t know about?” Tony looked around, his nerves steadily going from mild to anxiety riddled.

“No!” Loki said and then bit his lip. “Yes. Okay, mother’s been talking to him.” The younger man confessed sheepishly. “She said she talked to you and you seemed like a lovely young man and he should at least do you the courtesy of meeting you. So that’s a good thing.”

“Yeah once mom’s on your side, dad’s just a matter of time.” Thor agreed heartily as Frigga came around the corner.

“Boys, stop pestering him.” She ordered strictly and gave Tony a fond smile. “He really is thrilled to meet you. You mustn’t let these two frighten you off like this.”

“We met before. At the hospital.” Tony reminded everyone with a shy rub of his neck.

“Hardly the best setting for an introduction.” Frigga said and guided Tony over. “Loki, Thor, off with you. Go check on the rolls or something.” She shooed them off, bringing Tony around the corner and fussing over him with all the decorum of a mother. “Don’t worry so much! You look like you’re going to be put in front of a target! I promise all the rifles are locked away up stairs.”

Tony jumped so hard he almost missed the sly way Frigga was grinning at him. “You know Loki must get his sense of humor from you.” He groaned out. “Okay, okay. I’m fine. Really. I promise. Little nervous but I swear it’s fine.” Tony smoothed back his hair.

“Good. Odin is waiting for you in the drawing room.”

Tony had just enough time to wonder who the hell still had a drawing room before the door opened and he saw Odin sitting there waiting for him.