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The Boys Of Summer

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"Remember how I made you crazy? Remember how I made you scream?" - Don Henley, The Boys of Summer


 

There’s a spark in the night that seems to light a fire in everyone’s soul.

It’s the start of summer, and teenagers everywhere are more than ready. Nothing can stop them now. All they want to do is find a party with the right mix of music and alcohol and drugs to create the ultimate high. Every boy’s on the hunt for the perfect lay and every girl’s out for that first kiss that’ll make her appropriate gossip for the ladies room when school starts back up again in the fall.

Except for the seldom few. The outcasts. The leather-jacket wearing cigarette smokers. The losers who everyone quietly envies. The party crashers. The outwardly strong and the mentally weak. The dirty crooks who are feared as much as their admired. They’re the bastards to let you know exactly how full of shit they are. Every girl wants them, and every boy wants to be brave enough to indulge their rebellious side and take a card out of their book.

In strolls the group’s commanding officer – the takes-no-shit man, the tough bastard, the one. Loki Laufeyson’s his name and he’s six feet two inches of pure sass and there’s not a soul on the planet that he can’t make. To his right is Thor, his brother by law but not by blood, and he’s already looking around for the lucky girl he’s going to make his tonight.  That’s the thing with these guys; they always get what they want. Next to Thor is none other than the brains of the outfit. The ultimate scum that always gets the girl, Banner is always on fire for one band or another. He always tries to see what beauts he can lift from the loser host’s bedroom and tonight will be no exception.

And then there’s Tony. Shy little Tony. Pretty little tanned-skin, hazel-eyes, no confidence to his name, Tony. He doesn’t know what he wants – never has, probably never will. Lucky for him, he doesn’t get much of a choice in what’s going to happen to him tonight. You won’t hear a peep out of him though. That’s exactly how he likes it.

They party’s already in full swing by the time they arrive. Some song is blaring loud but there’s not a single lyric is being absorbed. A song like this is all about the beat and the rhythm and whether it makes you want to fuck or dance or fight and with a bit of luck it’ll make you want to do all three. Loki takes his place by the counter, eyeing everyone in the room. The world and his wife have turned up and he can tell that not even half of them even know the host. He doesn’t care – it’s just another venue. Just another place to stay. His folks – Thor’s folks – kicked him out when he was barely sixteen after a big argument with Daddy about naughty little Loki kissing other boys. He’s been drifting ever since. The only thing he lives for now are parties like this one and occasional school appearances and the alcohol his friends so graciously donate to him. The rest is a blur of random bedrooms and alleyways and the lumpy old couch he calls a bed. His eyes sweep the crowd, looking for what he wants. There’s only one prize tonight and he’ll be damned if he’s not going to win it. Tony. Pretty boy. That guy.

“Hey, Ton,” he calls out strongly, his relaxed one-elbow-out pose a mere detail. The real stories behind those eyes – behind those striking icy blue eyes – but nobody ever sees them, they’re constantly hidden behind those damn Wayfarers he lifted room some kids house last winter.

“Yeah, Lo?” Tony’s reluctant to let his eyes land on those dark glasses. He’s a wreck every time Loki’s in his space – the two of them have too much history for even the best of apologies to fix. They’ve fought each other until death was named the prize and they’ve shared too many cigs to even try to count. But those kisses. Those god damned motherfucking kisses, the heavy lip-smacking, too-much-tongue make out sessions and those fleeting butterfly pecks. The pretend ‘I love you’s. Those are what keeps Tony around and quiet. Those are what keeps him alive.

“C’mere.” He beckons the smaller boy over with a nodded of his head. The bump and crash of every other person in the room means nothing to Loki as his only possession takes his place at his hip. That’s where Tony should always be. “What’s the matter?” his voice is detached, he’s asking purely as a formality. The cig he pulls from behind his ear is crumpled and bent but he’ll be fucked if he’s not getting his fix. He looks to Tony for the rest, and without missing a beat the smaller boy’s lighter is out, giving purpose to Loki’s cancer stick. Tony inhales deeply. It’s his favourite smell, and fuck the word ‘hazard.’

“Nothing ‘m fine,” the younger boy says.

“Good. You up for something tonight?” Loki asks, as if Tony has a choice. Loki’s never forced him, no. But then again, he’s never had to. Willing, eager little Tony’s always up for the job, always up for being Loki’s plaything on those nights when it’s too cold and nothing’s worth the fight and all there’s to do with the night is fuck until you can’t feel anything any more or until you pass out or both. Tony’s good for that. He likes being roughed up a bit. That’s the best part of being a chew toy. You get touched. You get noticed.

“Sure. Just say when,” the smaller boy shrugs, like it’s no big deal. His small hands are digging in those oh-so-tight pockets and he comes out with a strawberry chap stick. His hand comes up to his lips absent-mindedly. It’s supposed to be seductive but at this point Loki just wants to get it all over with. Sure he watches for a minute but it isn’t long before he’s grabbing Tony’s hand and the lip balm has been put away.

They make their way upstairs and everyone is smart enough to pretend like they don’t know what the pair get up to. Bodacious little cheerleaders and their hunky footballers step smartly out of the way like nothing is going on at all.

“Where to?” Loki asks, holding Tony’s twitchy little hand still. Tony glances up and down the landing.

“Bathroom’s boring,” he decides. “How about here?” he jabs his thumb towards the direction of a bedroom and Loki simply nods, allowing the littler boy to lead the way.

When they’re in there, Loki lays on the bed and watches Tony expectantly. After a minute, he sighs.

“Well?” he says, irritated that Tony hasn’t caught on yet.

“Hm? Oh! Yeah, yeah.” The younger boy grins from ear to ear like a cat that got the cream and wrestles himself out of that tight little biker jacket and wrenches his feet out of the converse sneakers. The jeans take a little more work but eventually he’s down to just his boxer shorts and crumpled t-shirt. Loki grins and flashes him an encouraging wink as Tony steps out of his remaining garments. When he’s down to his skivvies, he climbs onto the bed and soon has Loki naked too.

Loki wastes no time in grabbing Tony by his hips and pulling him close for a rough kiss. Tony’s more than up for whatever it is Loki wants to do, so long as he calls Tony his for that short time and makes him feel that kind of special that Daddy never could.

“Y-You gonna show me a good time?” Tony whispers, and fuck, that tween drawl shut put Loki off but if anything its more endearing, makes him want to crush his lips against Tony’s – so that’s what he does. And with a response like that, Tony doesn’t need an answer. Loki fumbles, somehow removing his glasses without breaking the kiss and tossing his forgotten cigarette stub into an ashtray on the side.

The only light comes from a dim crystal lamp but that’s all they need to see; Loki knows Tony’s body like the back of his own hand. The kid’s his muse and canvas. Tony’s special, beautiful, and he doesn’t even know it.

“C’mon, Ton,” Loki whines. “You’re so motherfucking pretty tonight. You gonna let me have you?”

His arms are wrapped maybe a bit too tightly around the younger’s frame, but neither of them care. Tony nods his head once and that’s all the damn consent that Loki needs. So fuck if the kid is only seventeen. Give it a few months, he’ll be as legal as they come. Loki bears that in mind as he trails kisses lower than Tony’s face, kissing down his neck, nipping with his teeth just to hear the kid moan for him. Tony’s shivering as if it’s sub-zero inside but his skin heats up more and more with every touch Loki delivers. All this foreplay BS is purely to keep the smaller boy happy; Loki could go without every single time and be no less satisfied for it. But he knows how much Tony loves it and he’s got to keep his play toy sweet.

“Mmng. C’mon Lo,” Tony begs, and Loki’s only too happy to oblige, pulling Tony’s thighs gently from each side to separate his legs, kissing down to that trail of hair that starts at his bellybutton and eventually combines with the dark thatch around his manhood. He never breaks eye contact, not for a second, and so he isn’t surprised when Tony’s erection bumps his chin. He giggles there.

“I love how hot you get for me,” he comments, coming up to meet Tony’s lips again. His hand goes over the edge of the mattress and he feels in his jacket pocket for the tiny bottle of lube that he knows is there. He places it teasingly on the bedside table, right in Tony’s eyeline if he bothers to turn his head. But he doesn’t – he keeps staring up at Loki with those pretty little eyes, the pupils so damn dilated that they’re almost black.

“Fuck. You’ve been practising?” Loki asks, and Tony immediately knows what he means, what with the way he’s squirming and panting for Loki’s pleasure.

“Trust me, Lo. You’re the only practise I need,” he smirks, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. Loki’s too far gone too notice though, and Tony’s not entirely sure that he’d care even if he did.

“Is that so?” Loki guides Tony’s hand down to his erection – he’s hard as a rock and not about to go back now, not until he gets what he wants. Tony gasps at the contact, shutting his eyes and nodding, but that’s not enough for Loki. He rocks his hips so they brush together and Tony moans.

Yes!” it comes out as something between a groan and a scream and that’s what pushes Loki over the edge. His playful smirk is wiped away in favour of a positively evil one.

“Right. Well, let’s get down to it then,” he says, and he slicks up two fingers.

Seconds later, he’s knuckles-deep inside Tony, waiting. Waiting for the right types of moans and whimpers; the ones from pleasure, not pain. That’s when he knows. When he knows Tony’s ready for him. He doesn’t want to hurt the kid, he never wants to hurt him – not in a bad way, at any rate. The good moans come all too slowly, but Loki wastes no time when they do. He presses his tip to Tony’s entrance and bites his lip.

“Ready, babe?” he whispers, and Tony only nods. He pushes in slowly, until he’s stuffed to the hilt. Tony grapples at him, using the long black hair to pull the older boy down for a kiss. Slowly, Loki’s hips start to rock, pumping in and out as he tries to ignore Tony’s sobs. They’re just a part of the deal, they’ll go away soon enough. Till then, he’ll swallow as many as he can into the kiss and try his damn best to make the kid feel good.

He knows he’s achieved something when Tony breaks the kiss with a gasp, gripping the sheets with sweaty palms, his toes curling.

“Fuck, Lo! That spot! Again! Fucking faster!” he pants, like he knows Loki wants him too, and the older boy is only too happy to oblige. He picks up the pace and gets that bit rougher like he knows his boy likes. He loves hearing that he’s giving Tony what he wants. He knows it’s all pretend, knows that they’d both get off either way, but it’s nice for Tony to give permission for Loki to treat him like a punching bag; sure, he’s still getting hurt, but at least now he wants it. And Tony? He just loves to be touched. He considers this kind of contact a favour. So fuck if he’s being taken advantage of. Loki’s perfect for him in the most imperfect of ways; both are too fucked up to fool around with anyone else and so they have each other and secretly, that’s all they want.

Eventually, it all becomes too much for Tony and he spills all over both of their chests and stomachs. His scream can probably be heard downstairs, but neither one fucking cares. Loki follows soon after, releasing inside Tony’s spent body much more quietly, digging his nails into the kid’s shoulders so hard it’s a wonder he doesn’t take all the skin off.

“Fucking hell, you’re great,” Loki leans in to kiss Tony’s cheek shyly as he pulls out of the body. “Such great taste, I’ve got. I’ve picked a good one.”

The mood is lost, but that’s okay. They’ve both gotten what they wanted and now they’re going to carry on with their lives as if none of this happened, as if none of it had to happen. They’ve never been much into cuddling and all that sentimental shit, and so Loki simply sits up and starts to get dressed, and is shocked when Tony doesn’t do the say.

“Hey, chin up,” he says, tucking his fingers under Tony’s chin in a pseudo-affectionate way. “Something wrong?”

“No. Nothing’s wrong,” Tony replies, his eyes desperate to clink to that pale-blue gaze. But he knows he has too, else those eyes will be in his mind all night, even follow him into his dreams.

“Good. So smile, okay? Smile, you’re too pretty not to,” Loki comments and for the first time that night, Tony’s lips are pulled upwards into an actual smile. Loki thinking he’s pretty is enough to make him smile for the rest of the night, and Loki’s smiling right along with him. What he needs right now is a cigarette and some fresh air. Tony knows the drill, and gets dressed as quickly and quietly as he can. Hey, maybe if he isn’t so clingy, Loki will share his cig with him, just like old times.

Loki heads to the door, holds it open to let his toy go first. Everyone they pass politely ignores them, pretending it wasn’t over an hour ago that they last went up the stairs, pretending they don’t know what happened, pretending the pair don’t both have major sex-hair right now. They step out onto the decking and the fresh air is the rush they both need.

“Tony!” Banner’s voice comes, and the tall boy is in front of the pair in seconds. “There you are! I’ve been looking for you for ages, Thor and I want to blow this joint he knows about this- hey, what’re you smiling like a pair of loons for, huh?”

“Oh, no reason,” Tony replies, with a sly glance at Loki, because how can the real explanation make sense to anyone when it doesn’t even make sense to them?

Chapter Text

"Come on, you gotta listen unto me, lay off that whiskey and let that cocaine be." - Johnny Cash, Cocaine Blues.


 

Loki doesn’t stay long after they leave.

The others go to this other party, ‘cause Banner’s heard one of his coke connections is going to be there and they’re all dying for their next fix. In all honesty, so is Loki, but he can’t afford it right now and doesn’t want another loan. Still, he walks there with them, hanging to the back of the group, Tony trotting loyally along beside him. That makes the taller boy smirk, and he offers his precious cig to Tony, the closest thing to a caring gesture the two of them ever really get. Tony accepts gratefully, taking a long drag and blowing out rings of smoke to make Loki smile.

“I suppose I’d better go,” Loki sighs, when the cigarette is down to a stub, and he grinds it under the heel of his Doc Martens.

“You don’t have to,” Tony says, bravely. “I’m not going to take anything either. We could hang together.”

“Nah,” Loki shrugs dismissively. “Thanks for the offer, kiddo, but no. I’m shattered anyway. I’ll just call it a night.”

“Do you have somewhere to stay tonight?”  Tony looks worried and Loki laughs, though behind the dark glasses, tears spring to his eyes ‘cause he’s so damn touched that the kid cares so much about him.

“Yeah, ‘course I do,” he shrugs. “I’ve got Steve’s place, remember? You shouldn’t worry about me. It’s not healthy.”

“Not healthy,” Tony repeats with a chuckle. “You’re a walking heart attack waiting to happen, Lo. Of course I’m gonna worry about you.”

“I’ll assume that was a compliment,” Loki chuckles, leaning down to press a soft kiss to Tony’s forehead. And then he leaves – there’s no goodbye, they never say goodbye – simply a waggle of fingers and a silently cool stroll away. Tony watches his retreating back until he’s out of sight, before he dashes to catch up with the others.

Loki takes the long way back, though he’s not entirely sure why. He doesn’t cry, despite how much he wants too, ‘cause if he gets back with wet cheeks and red eyes, Steve will want to know what’s up and how can he tell Steve when he doesn’t even know himself? So he puts that false I-don’t-even-care smirk on and adopts that too-good-for-you swagger and walks down the path to Steve’s front door. It’s locked and he doesn’t have a key but he knows where Steve hides the spare one so that’s not a problem.

“Honey, I’m home,” it’s an ongoing joke they have, Loki shouts it every time he walks through the door. But it’s not home, not really. Not for Loki, anyway. Steve’s just an old friend – an old friend of Thor’s, if you’re going into specifics – who took pity on Loki when he got kicked out. So for that past almost-two-years, Loki’s been crashing on Steve’s couch. They get on okay; Steve’s sweet and polite, as if he’s stuck in the 1940s, and he’s one of few people alive who’s willing to put up with Loki’s bullshit. He provides somewhere to sleep and food for the rare occasions Loki decides to eat and he lets Loki smoke inside the house, and Loki appreciates that, truly, even if he doesn’t really say as often as he should. Or ever.

“Hi,” Steve’s still up, and that surprises Loki because it’s gone eleven thirty and Steve’s really into early nights. “This is early for you.”

“Yeah. The others left for some drug party, I wasn’t in the mood,” Loki shrugs, sitting beside Steve on the sofa which is his bed. “This is late for you.

“There was some documentary on that I wanted to watch,” Steve indicates the TV, flickering in the otherwise dark room.

“Documentaries at this hour?” Loki smirks, knowing that’s not the truth. Steve blushes, clearing his throat.

“Yeah, uh… well maybe Phil came over for a while too,” he says, awkwardly, and Loki grins. Phil Coulson is Steve’s long-term boyfriend. Loki knows they fuck like rabbits every time Phil is over but Steve’s so damn conservative in front of people that even the word ‘sex’ practically makes him pass out. Loki doesn’t like Phil much; he’s often heard him complain as to how Loki doesn’t pay rent and treats Steve’s front room like a ‘doss house’ and he always panics in those situations because one day, instead of defending him, Steve might turn around and agree with Phil and then Loki’s fucked because he hasn’t a clue where else he could go.

“How’s Tony?” Steve asks, raising one eyebrow. Steve’s the only person who even tries to understand what happens between Loki and Tony, and Loki’s grateful for that, grateful that he doesn’t get judged.

“Tony’s good,” Loki shrugs in an off-hand way, like he doesn’t really care. “He went to that party with Thor and Bruce.”

“Didn’t you want to go with him?” Steve asks, head on one side. Loki shrugs.

“Nah,” is all he offers in the way of an answer.

“Hey. You alright?” Steve cocks his head on one side.

“I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” Loki forces out a shaky laugh and Steve shrugs.

“No reason. Except I’ve never known you turn down a ‘drug party’ before. Plus its almost midnight, you’re indoors, and yet you’re still wearing sunglasses, which probably means you’re trying not to cry, or you’ve already been crying and you don’t want me to know. Plus this is the first time in months you’ve come in and not been drunk,” Steve reels off his reasons, counting them off on his fingers. Not for the first time, Loki mentally curses Steve for his almost military observational skills.

“I’m just tired,” Loki says, vaguely. He’s always been good at lying, but he’s had too many drunken crying sessions to Steve for the blond to even consider believing him anymore.

“Is it Thanos?” Steve asks quietly, and that makes Loki mad.

“No. It isn’t fucking Thanos. Why is it that every time I’m upset everyone assumes it’s Thanos? I’m done with Thanos. That ship has sailed. The shit with Thanos is well and truly over. Finished. That’s all, no more, bye-bye, the end,” the pale boy snarls, but Steve isn’t even taken aback by it any more. He’s used to Loki’s outbursts now, he’s seen him much angrier than this. Steve just takes a deep breath.

“Okay. So not Thanos,” Steve says, as calmly as he can. “What is it then?”

“It’s nothing,” Loki insists wearily, pushing a hand through his hair. “Really, Steve. It’s nothing. I’m honestly just tired.”

It’s not a lie either. Loki is tired – not only physically, though sleep is all he wants right now. He’s drained emotionally too, his mental state stretched to the borderline of sanity. Tony’s the only thing that keeps him going, but he won’t admit it. His pretty little Tony and his body and all the things he does and the fact that he doesn’t care if Loki’s a total fucking basket case. That’s all that makes him happy these days.

He doesn’t say all that to Steve, but the blond understands and gets to his feet, switching off the TV and retrieving the pillow and crocheted blanket that are supposed to make the couch more comfortable for Loki but really don’t help very much at all. He pats Loki’s head before wishing him a good night. Loki waits until he hears Steve go into his bedroom before he finally allows himself to cry.

Back at the party, Tony’s itching to go home, but he doesn’t know how to tell Bruce and Thor without ruining their night and so he keeps quiet. Right now, he’s watching them do lines off of a glass coffee table and can’t help thinking how bad the residue stains are going to be and how much his dad would kick his ass if he did that on their table. He wishes, not for the first time, that he could text or call Loki except Loki doesn’t have a cell. He used to, Tony remembers, but he sold it months ago – for drugs or for food or just to pay some kind of lodge to Steve – and now they have no way of communicating except for school and parties and if one goes to visit the other. The latter doesn’t happen as much as Tony would like.

Tony’s leaning against the railing on this dude’s balcony, drinking something brightly coloured and carbonated. It’s sweet but he can taste the alcohol in it. That’s okay with him though. As if sex with Loki isn’t intoxicating enough, he wants – no, he needs – to be drunk when he gets home.

Thor spots him and stumbles over, too full of alcohol and cocaine to even walk in a straight line.

“Are you okay?” he asks, in what Tony knows he thinks is a quiet voice.

“I’m fine,” Tony lies, and Thor puts his arm around him.

“Don’t worry about Loki,” he says, shocking Tony. Thor knows what they get up too – he must do, everybody does – but he’s never so much as mentioned one boy to the other before. “He’s headstrong and stubborn and arrogant, but he’ll be okay, I promise.”

“I know,” Tony lies again, knowing how much Loki would hate them discussing him like this.

“He’s fond of you, you know,” Thor tells Tony, unnecessarily. “He often tells me how beautiful he thinks you are.”

“What?!” Tony straightens at that, and he’s fucked if he can stop the shit-eating smile that cracks his face. “He said that? Like he actually used the word ‘beautiful’? About me?”

“Sure he did. I mean-” Thor didn’t get the chance to finish his sentence, due to him cutting himself of by turning and vomiting into a potted plant behind him.

“Oh my god!” Tony panics, he’s never dealt with vomit well, whether his own or somebody else’s. “Uh… hang on. I’ll go get you some water, okay?”

Thor doesn’t respond and Tony’s off like a shot. He goes to the kitchen and dumps the contents of a red cup down the sink, rinsing it out a couple times to get rid of any traces of alcohol before he fills it with water. He feels a hand on his shoulder as he turns to leave.

A tall boy stands behind him – taller than Thor and Loki, and they’re the tallest people Tony knows – and is looking down at him with concern.

“Are you alright?” his voice is high, cultured, and it reminds Tony of Loki. He finds himself smiling.

“Uh yeah, I’m fine,” he says. “This is for my friend. He’s just been sick and I guess he kinda needs it.”

“Oh. Is he alright?” the boy asks. Tony nods.

“He’ll be fine. I’ve seen Thor bounce back from plenty worse than this,” Tony thinks he sees the boy’s eyes flash at Thor’s name, but it happens so quick he convinces himself he imagined it.

“Oh. Well. I’m Thanos. I was going to ask for your number, but I can see you’re busy,” he says. “So here’s mine – text me some time, okay?”

“Uh sure, thanks,” Tony accepts the piece of paper, a little flabbergasted but too concerned about Thor to focus on it right now.

When he looks up again, Thanos is gone and he concentrates on getting Thor better. He finds Bruce bent over the blond when he gets back to the balcony, but Banner is no more sober than Thor is and really isn’t much help.

“Tony!” he looks glad to see the smaller boy. “Fuck! There you are!”

“Yeah,” Tony moves to put a hand on Thor’s back. “Hey, Big Guy. You alright? Here. Drink this. Its water. It’ll make you feel better. You just drink that and I’ll take you home, okay?”

Thor doesn’t answer, but he nods and takes the cup from Tony with shaking hands and sips from it gladly. When he’s done, he crumples the cup into tiny ball (not for the first time, Tony is amazed by the blond’s strength) and then throws it over the edge of the balcony.

With quite a lot of difficulty, Bruce and Tony manage to support Thor all the way home. He has his key, but its tucked into the front pocket of his skinny jeans and neither one is too keen to get that up close and personal with the blonde almost-giant. So instead they knock on the door and hear a lot of disgruntled mumbling behind it, then heavy footsteps coming down the stairs.

Tony swallowed, trying to stand up a little straighter as the door opened.

“Father!” Thor chuckles, collapsing against the man on the doorstep. Tony doesn’t understand how he can. He’s only met the guy a few times but Odin terrifies Tony, chills him to his very core. He’s a little shorter than Thor, around Loki’s height, but built like an ox and he always wears this scowl, which is made all the more terrifying by his god damned eye patch (Thor said he lost his eye in a war injury, but he didn’t specify exactly what kind or even which war.) Despite his strict demeanour and terrifying appearance, he insists all of Thor’s friends call him Odin. Come to think of it, Tony isn’t even sure he knows his surname. Thor’s is Odinson, and Loki’s had been until he changed it in his sophomore year. Tony guesses it’s some Norwegian thing, and doesn’t like to think on it too much.

“What on earth…” Odin pushes Thor back slightly, so as to get a good look at him.

“He’s a little drunk,” Banner says, needlessly, and Tony guesses that Odin can see that.

“He was sick,” Tony provides, and that one crystal blue eye turns to him. Tony swallows. “He vomited at the party. I guessed he wasn’t well, so I thought maybe it was best if we brought him home. I think he just needs to go to bed, sleep it all off, you know?”

“Yeah. What he said,” Banner contributes. Odin takes a deep breath, then almost-smiles at the small boy.

“Thank you Anthony,” he says – and Tony’s damned if he knows how Odin remembers his name. “You’re a good man. The way you care for my boys, it’s truly a blessing. Thank you.”

“No problem,” Tony’s throat is dry as he croaks out his response. They all say their goodbyes, and it’s not until he’s halfway to his own home that Tony really registers what Odin has said.

The way you care for my boys. Boys. Plural.

Chapter Text

"Let the good times roll, we can let go. Everybody knows there's a party at the end of the world." - All Time Low, Hello Brooklyn


 

It’s a while before Loki sees anyone again.

Thor comes to visit him at Steve’s one afternoon, on his way home from helping out at his uncle’s hardware store. He lends a hand there through the summer, earns himself a bit of extra cash. Loki used to as well, way back when, but when he and Odin had their fight he stopped speaking to most of the family.

Loki knows Steve would have no problem with him inviting Thor inside, but Loki steps out onto the front step anyway.

“How are you?” Thor asks, patting Loki’s arm gently. Loki winces away from the touch. It’s not that Thor hurts him, not per se. But since leaving his old home and since Thanos, Loki doesn’t eat much and he’s pretty fragile.

“I’m fine,” Loki shrugs, taking a long drag. “What’s up?”

“Nothing. Why must something be up?” Thor raises one eyebrow and Loki shrugs again.

“Why else would you come to see me? Another party this weekend?” he’s almost hopeful; Phil’s been spending a lot of time at Steve’s house as of late and Loki will take any excuse to get out of there as often as possible.

“I shouldn’t need an excuse to visit my brother,” Thor frowns and Loki laughs sarcastically, a harsh parody of the real thing.

“We’re not brothers,” he comments, and Thor frowns deeper.

“Loki. I am sorry about what father said…” he says, uneasily. Loki raises one eyebrow.

“You don’t have to apologise,” he says, and it’s as close to kind as Loki gets these days. “Not your fault your father’s a prick. Anyway, it’s nothing to apologize for. I want to kiss the daft old bastard. Best thing that ever happened to me, finding I’m not related to that fucking creep.”

 “You don’t really feel that way,” Thor says, electing a third shrug from the dark-haired boy. “And anyway. Father is sorry too. He misses you.”

“He does? He said that, did he?” Loki’s voice is dripping with cynicism. Thor sighs heavily.

“He never says anything like that, you know he doesn’t. But that’s how he feels, I’m sure,” Thor swallows. There’s a pause, and then he sighs. “Mother misses you too.”

Loki pauses, taking a drag and holding the smoke for a long second, before blowing it out through his nose.

“How is Mum?” he asks, in as casual a tone as he can muster. “She okay?”

“She wants you back. I want you back. Come home, Loki,” Thor says, desperately. “Please.”

“I don’t have a home, Thor,” Loki can’t keep the sadness out of his voice. “Not anymore.”

“Loki…” Thor sighs, and the slimmer boy quickly diverts the subject.

“Have you seen Tony? Is he okay?” he asks.

“He asked me the same thing about you yesterday,” Thor chuckles. “We’re going over to Banner’s house later for video games – me and Tony and Clint and Natasha – you should come. It’ll do you good to get out and socialise.”

Loki knows that Thor is really saying he should stop moping around and feeling sorry for himself. He considers replying with some snide, sarcastic comment. But Loki agrees with him, for the first time in years, and he just sighs.

“I suppose I might tag along,” Loki says, like he could care less. “Will Bruce’s parents be there?”

“I highly doubt it,” Thor chuckles, knowing what Loki’s getting at. If there’s one thing they can rely on Banner for it’s that he’ll have a stash of something good hidden away for when his folks aren’t in town. It’s generally a good time, plus Banner generally lets Loki crash in his guest room if he’s too wasted to make it back to Steve’s. “I’ll pick you up on my way over, around seven, okay?”

“Okay,” Loki says, trying to supress a grin at his former brother’s retreating back.

It’s just gone seven when Thor swings by Steve’s to collect Loki, and around a quarter past when they arrive at Banner’s house. It’s a nice enough place; a three bedroomed, white-washed Cape Cod, with butter yellow window shutters. It’s in a pretty good neighbourhood, with above-ground sprinklers and inflatable pools and skipping ropes littering front yards. It never ceases to amaze Loki how somebody like Banner can live in such an unnervingly ordinary place.

Thor doesn’t seem to notice, and he strides up the front door and raps on it with confidence. Loki stands at his shoulder, pushing his sunglasses back up his nose and running a hand through his hair, brushing it off his face. It’s hot out, in the high nineties, and Loki sweats inside his jacket. But he doesn’t go out without it, can’t go out without it. Oh, Tony’s seen, of course he has, but he knows better than to say anything, or to ask about it. Loki doesn’t mind Tony seeing. It’s the rest of the world he’s hiding his shame from.

After a chorus of ‘no you go get it!’ and a little bit of scuffling from inside, the door opens and Natasha stands there. She’s a fresh-faced girl with flame-red hair that comes in curls to her shoulders. She could be very conventionally pretty if she bothered with things like fake tan and girlie dresses and pink lipstick, but she doesn’t; the smudges of eyeliner are days old and she wears torn jeans and battered old Doc Martens and a flannel shirt that Loki suspects came from a charity shop or her brother’s wardrobe.

“Hey, guys,” she says, with a smile that lasts less than half a second. She’s not miserable exactly. More… indifferent. To everything. “Come on in.”

The boys follow her through the hallway and into the living room, where they find Bruce and Clint sitting on the couch, each clutching an x-Box controller. Half-full beer bottles, as well as several empties, litter the floor around a crate of full bottles. Loki grabs one as he passes, making his way to the other end of the couch, where Tony sits cross-legged on the floor.

“Hi,” Loki says, as he drops into a similar position next to the smaller boy.

“Hey, Lo,” Tony grins, and that’s enough to make Loki feel okay again. Tony’s own hand is curled around the neck of a bottle, and he tries to hide the grimace as he swigs it, but Loki notices and laughs. Tony’s not much of a beer drinker, never has been. Something to do with the smell, Loki remembers him saying, it reminds him of his dad. Something like that. “How you doing?”

“I’m okay,” Loki lies, and he smiles. “What about you?”

“I’m good. Great, even,” Tony replies, with a wide smile that seems genuine. Loki’s more than a little surprised at the response – Tony’s happy enough, sure, but he’s never known the kid be cheerful. It makes Loki panic and it takes him maybe a little bit too long to choke out that he’s glad for Tony. In amongst the shock there’s a pang of something else. Something unpleasant, but not unfamiliar. Loki’s jealous. Not only because Tony’s happy and he isn’t, but because he’s known Tony for years, done all sorts to try and make him smile and laugh and – though his attempts usually work – he’s never made Tony smile like that before. Whatever it is must be good.

Maybe even good enough to make Tony consider losing Loki.

It’s only a couple of hours before Loki’s beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol and whatever the hell it is he’s been smoking. Somewhere in that time, Tony’s found his way into Loki’s lap and is currently straddling the taller boy’s thighs, his hands resting on the back of Loki’s neck. They’ve been kissing for a while now – Loki’s lost track of the time but it must be close to an hour – and they’re only vaguely aware of the wolf-whistles and snide comments that are becoming increasingly infrequent from the others.

Eventually, the pair are broken apart when they’re hit with a throw pillow.

“Either stop it with the tonsil tennis or get yourselves a room,” Banner comments. “It’s getting kind of disturbing now.”

“Okay,” Loki stands up, only hearing ‘get yourselves a room’. He holds a hand out to Tony and smiles.“Come on, Ton.”

“What?” Tony’s dazed, not so good at handling his alcohol or his narcotics. “Oh! Oh, yeah, okay.

He takes Loki’s hand and the pair stumble off in the general direction of the staircase. They hear Clint and Natasha laughing, egging them on. Thor chuckles too, though he’s uneasy talking about his brother’s sex-life in such away. Banner simply calls out that he’ll castrate both of them in they have sex in his bed.

They find the guest room after five minutes of stumbling, and fall onto the bed. They kiss for a while, all saliva and tongues and sloppiness, before Tony sits up with a heavy sigh.

“I gotta go take a piss,” he mutters.

“Attractive,” Loki comments, with a snort. Tony laughs too, then kisses Loki’s forehead.

“I’ll be right back, okay?” he slurs, and he staggers from the room.

No sooner has Tony left, his phone beeps in his jeans pocket, strewn across the bedroom floor. Loki’s not in the habit of reading other people’s messages, but he knows Tony doesn’t really get many. Assuming it will be someone from downstairs telling them to keep the noise down, he goes to retrieve the phone, thinking he can reply with some (probably not) hilarious comment that’ll shut them up. What he does find stops him dead in his tracks.

New messages: (1) Thanos

Sounds great, how about tomorrow at four? :) X 

Chapter Text

"I thought I knew what love was. What did I know?" - Don Henley, The Boys of Summer


 

Loki stands in front of the bathroom mirror, hands shaking as he pushes his hair off of his face to inspect the damage. Split lip. Black eye. Nose red and swollen, most likely broken. Bruise around the size of a fist on his left cheekbone. Deep cut just above his right eyebrow. All in all? Not the worst he’s ever had.

He can’t stop the tears that pool in his eyes as he stares at his reflection. He can’t believe this is himself he’s looking at – he’s six-foot-two and on the high school track team and doesn’t take anybody’s shit. This… thing… in the mirror is pathetic. Far too skinny and far too pale and covered in the marks that say he can’t stand up for himself. That he’s weak.

Loki and Thanos have barely been together for three months, but when Loki got kicked out and had no place else to go last month, Thanos was quick to offer him a place to stay. Things turned sour pretty quick. Loki knew before that Thanos has a temper, but he never dreamed that he could be so violent. Especially not towards Loki. He’s crazy, Loki’s decided. Completely and utterly mad. Loki doesn’t know where he is with him. One minute he’s all about smiles and kisses and cuddles. The next, something will happen - maybe they’ll be out and some other dude will smile at Loki, or maybe Loki will drop a plate when he’s doing the dishes – and he changes. His teeth clench and his jaw sets and he starts. Calm at first. Soft, gentle, almost.

“C’mon, Lo, just tell me why. I’m not about to lose my rag. I’m a reasonable guy, aren’t I? Aren’t I?”

And then he starts yelling. He tells Loki that he’s a slut, that he’s clumsy, that he’s pathetic, he’s ugly, he’s stupid, and that he doesn’t deserve Thanos. Loki gets scared then. He babbles desperately, agreeing with everything Thanos says in an effort to pacify him. It hasn’t worked yet.

To his credit, Loki hit Thanos back at first. He used to think he was a half decent fighter; when he and Thor would squabble as kids, he’d generally win, and he’d been told many a time by his PE teacher that he had a ‘mean right hook’. But Thanos easily overpowered him, having height and strength and stamina on his side. He keeps repeating that Loki will ‘learn his place’ one day soon, even if Thanos has to beat it into him.

At the sound of the door opening, Loki freezes up, his whole body tenses.

“Loki?” a voice calls.

“Loki? Loki, c’mon, buddy, wake up!”

When Loki’s eyes snap open, Steve is standing over him, a worried expression on his face. He’s breathing heavily, soaked in a cold sweat. Steve backs up sharpish, holding his hands up as if to show he’s not armed.

“You okay, pal?” Steve asks. “You were kinda yelling.”

“Yeah I’m fine… I just… bad dream, y’know?” Loki pants, running a hand through his hair. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“It’s okay. I was getting up for work soon anyway,” Steve assures, though when Loki glances at the clock he sees it’s only four thirty. Steve could’ve had an extra hour in bed if he wanted too. “You look worn out. What time did you get back last night? I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I don’t remember,” Loki confesses, and it’s true. He can’t remember much at all after sex with Tony - he can’t even remember leaving Bruce’s house, in fact. Judging by the smell of pot and cheap cologne that lingers on his jacket collar, it was Thor and Clint who escorted him back to Steve’s. “Before one.” He vaguely remembered Bruce saying his parents were due back from the airport at three and he wanted a couple hours to clean up.

“You want some cocoa?” Steve places an affectionate hand on Loki’s shoulder. “It’ll help you get back to sleep.”

“Thanks,” Loki smiles, smoothing his hair down as best he can. When Steve returns with a mug of cocoa, he peers at Loki for a second, then sighs.

“Look, go in my bed if you’re going back to sleep,” he says. “You’ll sleep better there than on the couch.”

“You sure? ‘Cause I’m fine here,” Loki says, cautiously. He’s apprehensive to accept things like that from Steve. He knows it’s a big ask just to sleep on the couch. Steve does a lot for him just by putting a roof over his head. He doesn’t want to take more than he deserves.

“Of course I’m sure,” Steve says. “I worry about you. You need to sleep.”

“Well. Thanks,” Loki says, giving Steve a shy kiss on the cheek. “You’re a good guy, Steve.”

“Am I? You were a kid who had nowhere to go. I did what anyone would do,” Steve blushes – he’s always so modest, never wants to admit how great he is. Still, as long as he knows how grateful Loki really is, that’s all that matters.

_

It’s twelve noon when Loki wakes again.

He slept, but it was troubled. He tossed and turned a lot, his hair sticking up on one side and the other stuck flat against his face. Steve’s blankets are tangled around his legs and his neck aches from the position which he slept. But he’s not focusing on that. He can hear yelling downstairs. Steve’s home on his lunch break, and it sounds like he and Phil are having a fight.

“…in your house is one thing, that’s fine. But giving him your bed? Fuck, Steve! He’s not your kid!”

“No, he’s not my kid,” Steve says, and Loki notes he sounds distinctly less angry than Phil. “But he is a kid, Phil. He’s barely eighteen. He has nowhere else to go. What, do you expect me to make him sleep on the streets?”

“Well, he obviously got kicked out of his mom and dad’s place for a reason,” Phil shoots back. “He’s a fucking junkie, Steve. When was the last time he paid you any kind of rent?”

“Well… I dunno a couple of months ago, but the kid has no money,” Steve’s voice is wavering.

“Really? When was the last time he came back here high, huh?” Phil says, and there’s a moment’s hesitation before Steve replies.

“Last night,” the blond’s response is barely audible through the floorboards, but Loki catches it.

“So he has money for drugs, but not to pay you rent?” Phil’s voice is softer now, gentler.

“He has nowhere else to go,” Steve replies, his voice wobbling.

“Come here,” Phil says. “Look, I know you’re worried about him, and it’s sweet – really it is. But you can’t keep letting the kid use you like this. He’d be fine away from here, trust me. We see their kind all the time on the force. Teenage runaways turned junkies. They always find somewhere to stay.”

“I don’t like to think of him somewhere like that,” Steve says. There’s a pause, then a sigh. “He’s Thor’s baby brother, anyway. It’d crush him to see the kid suffer.”

“You just do what you think is best, hon,” Phil says, and they fall quiet.

Loki bites his lip and swallows. He hates when Phil and Steve fight because of him. He doesn’t mean to cause arguments between them, of course. He’s just… in the way, sometimes. Not deliberately. He feels horribly guilty every time he causes a fight, but he’s scared too. With every argument, Steve seems to be closer and closer to agreeing with Phil. It won’t be long before he does put Loki out, and then he’s well and truly up the creek without a paddle. Steve’s right; Loki has no place else to go. He’d love to go back home but there’s no way Odin would allow that, not after the fight they had the night Loki left. The only place he could even go to would be Thanos’ place. He’s pretty sure if he begged hard enough Thanos would take him back, let him move in again. But he’d rather sell his right arm than go back to Thanos.

And anyway.

Thanos has Tony now.

Chapter Text

"You could be good for me, I've had the taste for danger. If I'm smart then I'll run away, but I'm not so I guess I'll stay." - Madonna, Beautiful Stranger


 

It’s early when Tony arrives at the statue of the town founder in the town’s centre – three fifty rather than four o’clock.

Thanos is already there waiting, leaning against the statue, playing a game on his iPhone. He looks up when he hears Tony’s footsteps approaching and smiles at the shorter boy.

“Hey, you,” he says. “You’re early.”

“You’re earlier,” Tony shoots back, with a small smile. “Where do you want to go?”

“I know this great little coffee shop – it’s kinda out of the way, down one of the backstreets,” Thanos says. “We could head there if coffee is cool with you?”

“Coffee is great with me,” Tony grins, allowing Thanos to lead the way.

The night he’d gotten the curly-haired boy’s digits, making sure Thor got home safe was at the forefront of his mind. Even after that he toyed with the idea of walking Banner home – the guy was notably more sober than Thor, but still drunk enough that allowing him to walk home alone was probably a bad idea. In the end, Tony just called him a cab and made sure he got into it and gave the driver the right address. Howard Stark was out when Tony got home, so he had time to be sad and lonely. He got that familiar old ache to contact Loki, and knowing he couldn’t was painful.

Then he remembered he’d been given a very Loki-like boy’s number and texted it. The two hit it off immediately, have texted each other every day since the party. This is their first date – though Tony’s not exactly sure he should call it a date, not sure what Thanos would think – and Tony feels nervous, like he has a whole swarm of butterflies in his stomach. He’s never really been on a date before – he’s been taken to dances and had under-the-bleachers make out sessions and Loki… happens. But he’s never been on a date date before.

He can’t help but admire the laid-back manner that Thanos has. Even his clothes look chill – he’s wearing blue and white Bermuda shorts and a white tee with flip-flops and sunglasses pushed on to his head, keeping his curls from falling into his eyes. He has a bounce in his step when he walks and he talks animatedly with his hands. It’s not like this walking with Loki. Loki wears all black – or all dark colours – underneath his brown leather jacket and he lopes along with a slouch like he’s constantly got a weight on his neck. He doesn’t really say much and he always has one hand pushed dean into his jeans pocket and is usually smoking with the other. Tony feels bad for thinking it, but Thanos is a lot more pleasant to be around.

They get to the shop in ten minutes and each get a coffee. They sit in a table by the window and Tony blushes slightly when Thanos’ toes graze the side of his leg.

“So… who were you at that party with the other night?” Thanos asks, with a smile. “Not a boyfriend, I take it?”

“No. I was with a couple friends… Bruce Banner and Thor Odinson,” Tony says, and he sees that same flash of familiarity flash across Thanos’ face at Thor’s name. “You know him?”

“Sort of,” Thanos says, vaguely. Tony nods like he understands, because everyone seems to ‘sort of’ know Thor. “So… do you have a boyfriend?”

“No. I’m single,” Tony says, and the second the words leave his mouth, he regrets them. Can he honestly say he’s single with whatever he and Loki have going on?

But then, as far as he can tell, Loki’s just using him for the sex. The taller boy has never shown any interest in anything other than sex and the odd heavy make-out session when he’s too fucked up to walk straight, let alone get his pants off. He doesn’t even seem interested in snuggling after, which Tony would like. A lot. He likes Loki, but is keeping what they have going on instead of a relationship a good idea? Tony’s not sure.

“Hey! Earth to Tony,” Thanos squeezes the shorter boy’s fingers with a laugh. “You alright there, honey? Thought I’d lost you for a minute.”

“Yeah, sorry,” Tony says, feeling himself blush at the casual way Thanos calls him ‘honey’. “Uh… yeah, yeah. I’m single. I’m guessing you are too?”

“Yup,” Thanos pops the ‘p’. “Have been for nearly two years now. Last relationship didn’t end so well and I just haven’t been able to get back out there, you know?”

“Oh,” Tony’s a little taken aback by that. “What happened? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“Oh, nothing, really. I think he was cheating on me,” Thanos shrugs. “I’m sure he had other guys on the side. But he denied it and we had this huge fight and he stormed out and said he never wanted to see me again. Sent his friend to pick up the crap he left at my place and refused to talk to me again.”

“He sounds like a total asshole,” Tony says.

“Oh, he is, trust me,” Thanos laughs. “But you’re not.”

“I can be,” Tony assures him, but it’s playful. It’s only then that he notices Thanos’ hand is still on top of his. He flips his so it’s palm up and curls their fingers together.

This, he thinks, is what he wants.

 

Chapter Text

"Now, I don't understand what happened to our love." - Don Henley, The Boys of Summer


 

Loki licks his lips, smooths his hair down, straightens his jacket. 

He's nervous and kicking himself for it. He keeps telling himself its no great feat to go and visit a friend. People do it every day. It's the most inane, humdrum, everyday task. And yet his heart is racing, his mind spinning, his palms slick with sweat - though the last one probably has something to do with the phenomenal heat today. He wipes them on his jeans, knocks on the door, waits. 

It's been months since he went to Tony's house. His memories are hazy, altered with time and substance use, but he remembers enough to hope like hell that it's Tony who answers the door and not Howard. This is stupid he thinks, for the umpteenth time. He came here on the spur of the moment to... what? Ask Tony on a date? Beg him not to leave? Not to be with Thanos? Warn him? Loki's not entirely sure. All he knows is that when he replays memories of the things Thanos did, and replaces himself with Tony, it fucking breaks him into smithereens. He can't have it. Won't have it. He's going to protect Tony at all costs. 

The door swings open and, sure enough, the little brunette is standing there. He's in drawstring pants and no shirt, his hair tousled and messy. Loki's drawn him from his bed, he realises. He's so pretty in tiredness that Loki almost doesn't see the perplexed expression on his face. 

"Uh... Lo?" Tony says, confused. Loki tries to smile. 

"Hi," he says, and even he can tell it sounds false. 

"Um. No offence but... why are you here?" the shorter boy asks, and Loki falters. He thought Tony would be happy to see him, the way he always is. Wouldn't ask questions, would just give him that pretty little smile and they could just be them. Loki almost says because I wanted to see you but stops himself at the last minute. That's too god damn corny.

"Bored. Thought we could do something," he shrugs. "Unless you have plans, of course." 

"No. No plans," Tony says. "Uh... come on in, I guess." 

Loki follows Tony into the house, through to the kitchen, where Tony switches on the coffee machine. Things are heavy between them, tense and awkward. Since Loki dropped out of school, they rarely see each other during the day. He realises too late that Tony in the morning is almost a totally different person to Tony on a Saturday night. The shorter boy clears his throat. 

"So. Um. What... what was it you wanted to do?" he asks, tentatively, and Loki shrugs. 

"I have a little money. We could go out to lunch? On me," he offers, and he expects Tony to be happy 'cause it's so rare Loki offers to pay for things. Instead, Stark frowns. 

"Uh... where did you get money?" he asks. Loki licks his lips, a nervous habit, and shrugs. There's somethings he can't tell even Tony. Like how he's figured out that if he flutters his eyelashes and bites his lip in the right way, guys in sleazy bars are more than happy to pay handsomely for ten minutes of his time in the alley out back. 

"Okay," Tony drags the word out, elongates it. "Well... shouldn't you be paying Steve?" 

"I..." Loki begins. Truth is, he already gave most of the cash to Steve for rent. He kept twenty five bucks back so he could take Tony out, though that was clearly a waste of time. "It doesn't matter. I'll go. It was stupid of me to come here." 

"No, it wasn't," Tony catches Loki's elbow. "Loki, stay. I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. Lemme go get dressed and then we can go out, okay?" 

"Okay," Loki says, and the ghost of a genuine smile finds its way onto his lips for the first time in ages. 

__ 

Lunch is an awkward affair, though Loki foresaw at least that much. 

They go to a diner and Loki just really picks at his sandwich, eating the little bit of salad garnish and not much else. He does put away several cups of strong black coffee, though, and Tony can't help thinking that that amount of caffeine can't be good on an empty stomach. Tony himself eats more than Loki, though not by much, and there's still a lot of food left on both of their plates when the waitress comes to take them away. There's a tense silence, which Tony breaks by sighing heavily. 

"This doesn't feel right," he says. 

"No, it doesn't," Loki agrees. 

Because it's not them. They don't do shit like this, shit like dates. That's what normal people do. And they're not normal people; they're Tony and Loki. They're all wound up in their own tragic version of romance, and to hell with what everyone else thinks. 

That's exactly what's running through Loki's head when he stands and offers his hand to Tony. 

"Let's get out of here," he says. "I want to show you something." 

They leave the diner and Loki leads the way to a dilapidated apartment building about ten blocks over. The two of them climb up the fire escape, Loki in the lead, confident and lithe in his climbing, Tony scrabbling several ladder rungs beneath him, until they reach the roof. Loki hoists himself up and assists Tony in doing the same. Then the taller of the two goes to a corner and sits. Clearly he's made himself something of a safe space up here; there's an old lawn chair and several upturned plastic crates that act as seats and a faded, stripy beach towel serving as a blanket. 

"You come here a lot," Tony says, and it's an observation rather than a statement. 

"Yeah," Loki nods. "When I need to forget everything." 

"The view is great," Tony says, and it is. They can see the whole city from up here. 

"Not why I come," Loki shrugs. Tony wrinkles his nose and Tony smiles. "Listen." 

There's the faint hum of cars on the street below and the chirp of the birds overhead and very little else in the way of sound. There's very little that goes on in this part of town, and there doesn't need to be a lot of activity. Tony frowns. 

"I don't hear anything," he says. 

"Exactly," Loki sighs. "Lovely isn't it? No shouting. No loud music. No fucking assholes jumping down my throat about stupid bullshit. Just... quiet." 

"That's beautiful," Tony says, and he sits next to Loki on the milk crate. The older boy takes out a cig, lights it, offers it to Tony. It's just like old times, them sharing a smoke and swapping kisses between drags in the comfortable silence they so often find in each other's company. 

It's Loki who ruins it. 

"Don't date Thanos," he breathes, against Tony's lips. 

"What?" Tony pulls away. 

"He's bad news, Ton. Trust me," Loki says. 

"How do you know?" Tony demands. 

"I can't say. But, please, believe me. I just know. He's an asshole, you don't want to have anything to do with him," Loki promises.

"I don't mean that. How do you know I've been seeing him?" Tony gets to his feet. Loki doesn't. 

"Well, I saw some messages on your phone and I..." he begins. 

"Unbe-fucking-lieveable," Tony's almost yelling now. "You went through my phone?" 

"I wasn't snooping, it just said you had a message and you weren't in the room and I-" Loki stammers. 

"You what? Just thought you'd look through my private shit?" Tony scoffs. 

"No. No," Loki says. "I was just curious, is all, but Tony you gotta-" 

"I haven't 'gotta' do anything, dickhead," Tony says. "I'll see whoever I damn well please. You're not my fucking boyfriend." 

"Look, I understand why you're mad at me but-" 

"Are you jealous? Is that it?" Tony says. "You're jealous that I've found someone who I'd rather spend my time with. Someone who treats me like an actual fucking human being instead of some kind of fucking sex toy." 

"Tony, don't be like-" 

"I'm not being 'like' anything, asshole," Tony says. "You're. Not. My. Boyfriend. You have no right to tell me who I can and can't see. Thanos is a sweet guy." 

"Sweet?" Loki repeats. "He'll let you think that and then he will fuck you up. Trust me." 

"Give me one good fucking reason why I should trust the guy who snoops on my phone to find out who I'm texting," Tony snarls. "You know what, Loki? Go get fucked. Thanos is nice. He's sweet to me. He's actually interested in what I have to say. He actually wants to make conversation with me. He doesn't act like he's got a grey cloud hanging over him the whole time we're together. That's you. That's all you. And maybe I'm tired of it. Maybe I want a real fucking relationship instead of being somebody's chewtoy. Go find somebody else to work out your fucking Daddy issues on." 

"Fuck you," Loki's on his feet too now, and if he and Tony were the same height they'd be nose-to-nose. As it is, they're more nose-to-chin. 

"Well that's all you ever seem to want to fucking do with me," Tony says. "Go fuck yourself. Dick." 

And he turns to walk away. 

"Fucking go to hell, then," Loki yells after him. "But don't come fucking crying to me when you realise that I was fucking right.

Chapter Text

"God shine your light down here, shine on the love, the love of the loveless." - Eels, Love of the Loveless.


 

As soon as Tony gets home, he calls Thanos. 

He does it to spite Loki more than anything, and because he's so fucking mad that he needs the calming presence Thanos has become in his life. As soon as they meet up, he kisses Thanos, practically shoves his tongue down the taller boy's throat. They've kissed already, but they were just little pecks. Thanos is surprised at first, but he quickly melts into it and pulls Tony closer by his belt loops. 

When they break apart, the taller chuckles. 

"What's that in aid of?" he asks, and Tony shrugs. 

"Happy to see you, I guess," he says. "Come on. Let's go get dinner." 


As soon as Loki gets to Steve's, he goes out into the tiny back yard and smokes half a pack of cigarettes in twenty minutes. Steve comes out shortly after, finds Loki lying on the grass, sits down beside him. 

"You okay, bud?" he asks. Loki shrugs. 

"Had a fight with Tony," he says. Steve winces. 

"What about?" 

"He's dating Thanos," the words tumble past Loki's lips, and Steve stiffens. 

Steve's the one person who knows everything about Thanos and what he did. Loki confided in him one tearful, booze-fuelled night. It was Steve who got Loki out of there, Steve who provided Loki with a place to stay. Loki owes his life to Steve, and he knows he can tell him anything. 

"Did you not tell him?" Steve asks, and Loki sighs. 

"Tried to," he says. "He got mad at me for looking at his texts." 

"Oh, Loki," Steve puts a hand on the younger man's arm. 

"I hate my life, Steve," Loki says it so matter-of-factly that he could've acknowledged the blueness of the sky or the close humidity of the summer air. "Maybe I should just do the world a favour and..." 

"Don't talk like that," Steve says, putting an almost fatherly hand on Loki's arm. "I think you're depressed." 

"Yeah, no shit," Loki scoffs, 'cause he's known that since well before Odin kicked him out. He can pinpoint the exact day his life went to shit, and it was the day Odin told him he's adopted. He was never meant to know. It was blurted out in a fight, because they'd always fought, and Loki had entered a spiral of turmoil. He'd been lied to. All his god damn life he'd been lied to. He was second best. Always second best, always everybody's second best. And now, it seems, he's Tony's second best too. 

"Maybe... maybe you could see about getting help?" Steve suggests, and Loki actually laughs there. 

"Yeah, like I can afford that," he mutters. 

"I could help you, loan you some money..." Steve begins, but Loki shakes his head. 

"No, Steve," Loki says. "You do so much for me already. I'll be okay. I'll be fine. Trust me." 

He knows Steve doesn't, but counts his blessings that the blond stays quiet anyway. 


 

It's late, after dinner.

Tony may or may not have had one glass of wine too many, and he stumbles into Thanos' apartment. He's giggling though he can't remember what the joke was, and takes a good look around.

"Nice place," he comments, and Thanos smiles.

"Thank you," he says. "It's really nothing special."

"No. No, I like it," Tony says, thinking of his own house, or of the couch where Loki sleeps.

Damn it, don't think about Loki right now. 

Tony finds his way to the bookcase while Thanos goes into the kitchen to fetch more wine. He has a massive selection of books, mostly Shakespeare and poetry anthologies. He recognises one of the names.

"We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams, wandering by lone sea breakers and sitting by desolate streams,"  he reels the quote off almost absent mindedly, and is startled to find out Thanos is now standing behind him. 

"A poetry connoisseur yourself?" he says, and Tony shakes his head. Thanos laughs. "Oh, so you just like to randomly quote O'Shaugnessy, do you?" 

"No L-" he's about to say that Loki used to tell it to him. It's Loki's favourite, he knows it by heart. He's told it to Tony so many times that he could chant it backwards too if he wanted to. But he's not speaking to or even thinking about Loki any more. "I read it in school." 

"Thomas is my favourite," Thanos pulls a book from the shelf, flicks to a page, recites "Do not go gentle into that goodnight. Rage, rage against the dying of the light." 

Another that Loki quotes frequently. Tony felt like an idiot when he didn't realise immediately that the "goodnight" is death. He feels that it gives the poem an altogether more sinister feeling. 

"Here. You can borrow this, if you like. Get to know my favourites," Thanos holds the anthology out, and Tony reluctantly takes it. He doesn't like poetry all that much, really. Not when it isn't being read to him by Loki. 

Stop fucking thinking about fucking Loki!! 

To take his mind off it, he all but throws himself at Thanos, who's initial surprise wears off almost instantaneously. 

Tony only breaks the kiss to ask the way to the bedroom. 

Chapter Text

"You're a monster, a beautiful monster. A beautiful monster, and I don't mind." - Ne-Yo, Beautiful Monster.


 

It hurts, how much Loki misses Tony. 

The smaller boy refuses to even talk to him. He won't even come to parties any more if he knows Loki is going to be there. Loki's tried everything - borrowing Steve's phone to send texts and make calls that went ignored, having the others pass on messages that he never got replies to. He even got desperate and went to Tony's house again. There he was greeted by a very stern-looking Howard Stark and informed that "Anthony is out with his boyfriend." 

Boyfriend. That one word cut Loki like the sharpest knife. That night on the roof is all too clear in his memory. "I'll see whoever I damn well please. You're not my fucking boyfriend." And, of course, Loki knows that. He's never been Tony's boyfriend, never intended to be. But God damn it all, he genuinely cares for the kid in a way that he doesn't care for anybody else, and he's terrified of what Thanos might do to him. 

Still, as far as he can tell they're happy. He went to the library one day, used their dusty old computer to log into his long-dormant Facebook account. Pictures and statuses show that, by all accounts, the pair of them are as thick as thieves. In every photo of the couple, Tony is smiling like a cat that got the fucking cream. Maybe Loki just needs to accept that Thanos makes Tony happy in a way that he never could. And Thanos... maybe there's something about Loki that set him off. Maybe he's not that bad a guy after all. 

It's with that thought in mind that Loki begins his way back to Steve's place, fishing in his jacket pocket for his last cigarette. 


 

The only light in the darkened room comes from the flickering of the TV screen, and the dim glow of Tony's cell phone. 

Please just talk to me. I'm sorry I got angry - Loki. x 

Tony sighs heavily, taps the 'exit screen' button yet again. If there's one positive thing he can say about this, it's that Loki's persistent. He's received a non-stop stream of text from Steve's phone for the past two weeks. Begging, pleading for friendship. Tony's yet to humour him with a response, but that hasn't deterred Loki. At first it was gut-wrenchingly sweet. Now it's just annoying. 

"Who're you texting, babe?" Thanos asks, glancing sideways at Tony's phone. 

"Nobody," Tony replies quickly, locking the screen and sticking the phone in his pocket. Thanos sighs. 

"Nobody seems awfully keep on you," he says. "Nobody seems to do nothing but text you as of late." 

"It's nothing to worry about," Tony is confused, because Thanos isn't usually bothered by this kind of thing. "Just... an old friend." 

For a second Thanos looks like he's gonna blow up. But only for a second. Then he smiles, relaxes his tensed up shoulders. 

"Alright. Sorry about that babe," he shakes his head. "I didn't sleep too great last night. I'm a little crabby, is all. I shouldn't be taking it out on you." 

"It's fine," Tony replies, though he feels weirdly uncomfortable. "I'm just uh... I'm gonna run to the bathroom." 

"No problem, honey," Thanos beams at him, before turning back to the TV. Tony gets to his feet, scurries to the bathroom, and locks the door. He turns on the taps to mask the sound of his voice, sticks his hand in his back pocket and - nothing. Shit. He'd intended to call Steve and ask him to pass on the message for Loki to kindly leave him the fuck alone. His phone must've fallen out onto the couch. With a resigned sigh, he switches off the taps, flushes, and heads back to the living room. 

"Ba-" he begins, but he stops dead in his tracks when he realises that Thanos is scrolling through his phone. "Sweetie, what are you doing?" 

"Loki?" Thanos looks up. "You've been texting Loki?" 

"How did you know my passcode?" Tony reaches out to take his phone, but Thanos moves it out of his reach. 

"Why the fuck have you been texting Loki?" he snarls. 

"I haven't been texting him," Tony points out. "He's been texting me. Give me my phone!" 

"Is there something going on between you two?" Thanos demands. 

"Don't be stupid, Than," Tony sighs. "As if." 

"Sure sounds like it," the taller glowers. "What was it he said? Please baby, I didn't mean it. Let me see you, babe, I can explain. I'm sorry I upset you, honey. Does that really sound like I'm being stupid?" 

"Something happened," Tony confesses. "But it's ancient history now. How do you know Loki anyway?" 

"What kind of 'something'?" Thanos is still refusing to hand the phone over. Tony sighs heavily. 

"I dunno. Just a... a thing," he says. "don't even know what it was. It was just some dumb fling that he took to be more than it was. I ended it and he can't take it, so he's been fucking harrassing me for weeks about it." 

"Bullshit," Thanos scoffs. "Do you think I'm a fucking idiot, Ton? You run around texting my whore ex and I'm supposed to believe that it's all 'ancient history'? DO I REALLY LOOK THAT FUCKING STUPID TO YOU?" 

Tony springs back a step, startled at hearing Thanos raise his voice. No sooner as he done it, he hits the ground. A sickeningly familiar stinging sensation in his cheek tells him that Thanos has slapped him so hard it's taken him off his feet. Horrified, he stares up at his heavily breathing boyfriend. For a second, Thanos looks furious, like he's about to hit Tony a second time. Then realisation dawns on his face, and his hand drops to his side. 

"Shit," he whispers, dropping to his knees. "I'm sorry, Ton. I didn't mean it. Come here, baby." He pulls Tony into a hug, which the younger is too baffled to resist. He's even more baffled when he hears Thanos' breath catch in his throat, feels warm, wet teardrops on his head. "I'm so sorry baby. I'm so so sorry. It's just... look you remember I said about my ex that fucked me around big time? That was Loki, babe. Just the thought of you and him... you're so much better than that. I just don't want to see you hurt by him, that's all, sweetie. God I'm so fucking sorry." 

"We're over," Tony whispers, and he's not entirely sure if he means Loki or Thanos. The latter takes it to mean the former, and presses a kiss to Tony's forehead. 

"I know baby. I know," he says. "I believe you, I do. Just... just bad memories, you know? I'm sorry. Please say you'll forgive me?" 

Tony swallows deeply, takes a heavy breath, and disentangles himself from Thanos' arms. 

"Okay," he nods. "Okay. I'm going to go home now." 

"I understand," Thanos sniffles. "I'll text you later?" 

"Sure," Tony nods and then silent and confused, walks out of the apartment door and heads home, all the time plagued with just one thought. 

What the fuck just happened? 

Chapter Text

"Cause you're hot then you're cold, you're yes then you're no, you're in then you're out, you're up then you're down." - Katy Perry, Hot n Cold


 

As soon as Loki enters Steve's house, the blond hangs up the phone, seeming in a rush to do so. It's an odd mannerism for generally-relaxed Steve, but Loki's too antsy to notice it. He strides straight through with a short 'hello' to Steve over his shoulder as he passes. As soon as he hits the back yard, he's another cigarette lit. It's not long before Steve joins him, with a mug of coffee and an apologetic expression. 

"Loki I need to talk to yo-" he begins. 

"What's wrong with me, Steve?" Loki blurts out. "What is it about me that makes people want to fuck me over?" 

"What do you mean?" Steve's expression switches from sorry to worried. 

"Tony. Thanos. Da-Odin," Loki reels off. "What is it about me that makes everybody I fucking care about want to hurt me so bad? Was a horrible person in a past life? Is this some kind of fucking punishment?" 

For good measure, Loki kicks Steve's garden bench. All he succeeds in doing is stubbing his toe, and he mutters every curse word he knows under his breath to make it feel better. Steve sucks a breath in through his teeth. 

"Loki... all of that stuff... it's not necessarily your fault," Steve tries, lamely. "Especially Thanos... it's not anything you've done, per se. It's just... just..." 

"Just what?" Loki scoffs. "Just bad luck. Come on, Steve. You're not stupid. Even I'm not that unlucky. There's one common denominator in all of this and it's me. Maybe things would be better if I just..." 

"Don't even finish that sentence," Steve puts his coffee down, places his hands on Loki's shoulders. "Things are rough right now, I know. But it'll get better. And... and.... I'm here for you, bud. Til the end of the line." 

"Thanks, Steve," Loki says, and he means it. There's a pause. 

"Maybe... I know this sounds dumb, Loki, but maybe if you took a break from the drugs for a while," Steve says, tenderly. "It's not like I mind or anything, you know, do what you want. But it might do your mental health some good if you left it all alone for a bit." 

"Yeah, maybe," Loki shifts uncomfortably. He's been using more heavily recently. Out of courtesy and respect, he doesn't bring any illegal substances into Steve's house. But it's pretty hard to mask the white residue under his nose, or the blown out pupils, or that musky herbal fug that he brings in with him almost every time he goes out. He's not really got any intention of stopping any time soon. Now he doesn't have Tony, joints and lines are all that's keeping him from going completely out of his mind. But what Steve doesn't know can't hurt him. He'll just have to be a bit more careful. 

"Sorry, I interrupted you," Loki breaks the awkward silence. "You wanted to talk to me about something?" 

"What? Oh, um, yeah," now it's Steve's turn to look uncomfortable. "It's just that... well..." the blond clears his throat. "Um... can you maybe just double check you wipe your feet when you come into the house? I found mud tracked into the carpet the other day." 

"Uh... yeah, sure no problem," Loki replies. "I'm sorry about that." 

"It's fine," Steve replies. "Is your cup empty? I'll go inside and do the dishes." 

He lied, Loki thinks, as he watches the blond's retreating back. 


Tony inspects the damage in the bathroom mirror. 

His cheek is already starting to bruise a little, and it's a little swollen. It'll be a hard one to cover, but Howard has given him worse in the past. He's sure he'll manage it. Since he left the apartment, Thanos has been blowing up his phone with apology texts and voicemails, begging for forgiveness, imploring Tony to come back and slap him back to get even. So far, Tony has ignored all of them. When he's satisfied that he'll be able to do something about his face, he sits on the edge of the bathtub and buries his head in his hands. He's got so much to think about now. 

Loki and Thanos had dated. Loki was the ex Thanos had lamented about. But why had Loki tried to warn Tony off of Thanos? Because he didn't want to share his sloppy seconds? Cause he didn't want Tony to know that he'd cheated, that he'd screwed Thanos around? 

Or because of the way that Thanos had acted tonight? 

No, that can't have been true. Thanos is too sweet to be like that. That was the first time he's ever lost his temper. He's a nice guy. It was a one off. He was upset because he thought he was losing Tony to the ex who broke his heart. That's all. He wasn't thinking straight. It was a single moment of blind madness. And Thanos was sorry. Truly sorry. Why else would he have been so upset by what he'd done? Why else would he have left so many calls and messages? He wanted - no craved - Tony's forgiveness, and he'd stop at nothing to get it. It was silly to think that gentle, sweet, kind Thanos could in anyway be a violent bully. 

Right? 

 

Chapter Text

"And then I'd go and spoil it all by sayin' somethin' stupid like 'I love you'" - Frank Sinatra, Somethin' Stupid 


 

Tony's never really developed a liking for wearing make up. 

The stuff sits heavy and itchy on top of his skin, and more often than not it brings him out in a rash if he uses it for more than a couple of days in a row. But he's set on hiding the bruise that Thanos left, so he dabs on a layer of foundation and does his best to forget about it. He does a pretty good job, considering all the years it's been since Howard left a bruise severe enough to need covering. To the untrained eye, it'd look like there was absolutely nothing wrong with Tony's face whatsoever. 

Unfortunately, the first eyes that hit him are not untrained at all. 

He hadn't been warned that Loki would be at Banner's house, and it's been so long since Loki hung out with them he didn't even expect him. When he enters the living room and Loki is in his usual spot - cross-legged on the rug, with his back leaning against the sofa - the air becomes thick with tension. Loki's wearing those damn stupid glasses, so Tony can't really see his eyes, but he knows the older is giving him the once over. He has a quick up-and-down look himself. He notes that Loki has lost weight, that his complexion has sallowed and his hair is greasier than usual. He looks rough as hell, and Tony quickly suppresses the twinge of guilt that threatens to flood over him. 

"Hey, Ton," Loki breaks the awkward silence with his usual, casual greeting. Even his voice is different. Softer, more rough around the edges. Like he's not using it enough. Usually, at that point, Tony would drop into position beside Loki, and they'd spend the rest of the day chatting and ignoring the fact that the rest of the world exists. This time he forces a tight smile. 

"Hi, Loki," he replies stiffly, and he wedges himself into the space between Thor and Natasha on the couch. 


 Tony looks good. 

Loki tries to push the thought out of his head. But every time he glances over at the couch, it springs back. He just looks so damn good. He's caught a nice tan, built up a bit of muscle mass. His hair is neatly combed and his clothes are well matched. Even his skin looks better. Almost too much better. 

Loki knows from days long past that Tony used to use make-up to cover up the bruises a drunk Howard would leave behind. Several stained pillows and mouthfuls of bitter-tasting foundation were what revealed to Loki that Tony's mistreatment was worse than he let on. Heck, it was a trick he used himself a couple of times with Thanos, before the latter realised and hit the roof about it. He feels rage bubble up in his chest, though he does his best to push it down. When Tony gets up to grab some more beers from the kitchen, Loki is quick to follow. 

"Are you okay?" Loki asks, softly. He reaches out to touch Tony's shoulder, but the shorter steps smartly away and Loki's hand falls uselessly to dangle at his side again. 

"I'm fine," is Tony's curt reply. 

"How... how's Thanos?" he's trying to keep it cool, but he can't help the way his voice catches in the middle. Tony bristles. 

"Thanos is great," he says. 

"You look fantastic," Loki tries. 

"Thanks. You too," Tony is carefully selecting the coldest bottles from the fridge. Loki tries to laugh there. 

"No I don't. I look like shit," he says. "I feel like shit. I miss you, Ton." 

It comes out so genuine and heartfelt that even Loki is surprised. Tony is glad that his back is to the older boy, because tears spring up to his eyes and threaten to overspill at any moment. Part of him wants to say that he misses Loki too, tell him all about what happened last night, apologise for what happened on the roof that horrible night. That isn't the part that wins. 

"Yeah, well, you should've thought about that before you acted like a complete asshole," he snarls, more aggressively than he intended. He turns on his heel to face the taller. "Thanos told me about you and him. About you cheating. You broke his heart, did you know that?" 

Loki just blinks at Tony is horrified surprise, and the younger starts to take his leave with a bucket full of beers in hand. Before he can reach the door, Loki stops him with a hand on his arm. 

"If you're going to see him later, wash your face first," Loki advises. "The make up just makes him more mad." 

On that note, Tony heads back to the others, and Loki heads back to Steve's place. 


 

Once again, Loki finds Steve finishing a phone call. This time, he catches the last part of it. 

"...so upset yesterday, I couldn't tell him," Steve says. The voice - Phil's voice - on the other end buzzes angrily. "I know, I know, but I'm just waiting for the right time. I don't want to make him worse or - gotta go babe, bye." 

"Was that Phil?" Loki asks, shifting his weight awkwardly from foot to foot. Steve clears his throat. 

"Yeah... it was, yeah," he sighs. "Loki listen... I tried to tell you yesterday... look, sit down." 

He indicates the sofa-slash-Loki's-bed, and Loki perches on the edge reluctantly. Steve sighs again and wrings his hands together. He takes a deep breath in, closes his eyes, holds for a second and reopens them on the exhale. 

"Phil and I are moving in together," he states, matter-of-factly. 

"Oh. Like he's moving in here or..." Loki doesn't want to finish, because he knows what it will entail. Steve sighs. 

"He and I have found a place," he says.

"Oh," Loki repeats. 

"We're not moving in for a month," Steve says, uncomfortably. "You can stay here, still, 'til we move. And I'll help you find somewhere... somewhere else." 

Loki wants to tell Steve how stupid he's being. He could sell himself in every alleyway in the city for a month and not make enough to afford his own place. But he hasn't the heart to do it. So instead he forces a weak smile. 

"Okay. Thanks," he says. "I'm gonna uh... I'm gonna go and have a cigarette." 

fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. 


 Tony doesn't know why he takes Loki's advice, but he does it. 

He washes the cover up from his face before he goes back to Thanos' apartment. As soon as his boyfriend opens the door, Tony's pulled into a bone crushing hug, and Thanos is repeating apologies again. 

"Here, come into the light, let me look at you," Thanos turns Tony's head and lets out a small sound of sadness and desperation. "Oh, I'm such a horrible boyfriend. God, you must hate me." 

"I don't hate you," Tony reassures him. "I should've told you what was happening. If anything, it's my fault. I'm sorry." 

"It's okay, babe," Thanos sighs. "Just maybe... maybe let me know if he's bothering you in future, yeah?" 

"Sure. Yeah, of course," Tony nods. 

"I love you, babe," Thanos tells him and where the hell did that come from. They've barely been seeing each other for a month. Tony's aware that from the start Thanos has been really into him. But 'love' is a bit too much too fast. Still, the heart wants what the heart wants and all that. Realising Thanos is staring at him hopefully for an answer, Tony forces a smile. 

"I love you, too." 

He's not sure it's true at all. 

 

Chapter Text

"Lonely is the night when you find yourself alone. Your demons come to light and your mind is not your own." - Billy Squier, Lonely is The Night


 

"Look, Lo, this one is nice,"  Steve circles another listing in the newspaper. Loki allows his eyes to scan over it rather than really reading it. Studio. Three-seventy square feet. Kinda scummy part of town. And way outside of what Loki can afford. He forces a smile. 

"Yeah looks good," he says, lamely. "I'll um... call the realtor for a viewing." 

"I'll come with you," Steve promises. At least his smile is genuine. 

The music is so loud the floorboards jump with every beat. The coffee table vibrates with it. At least, that's what he thinks is happening. He can just see himself in the mirror, though his eyes refuse to focus fully through lines of white and streaks of residue. His pupils are blown, his hands shaking, his breathing hitched. 

"I'm so fucked up." 

He doesn't know if he says it in his head or out loud. Either way, nobody is listening. 

"Yo, pretty boy, sniff it or pass it along!" 

Somebody else yells at him across the room. 

He doesn't need to be told twice. 

It's the kind of place euphemisms like 'unique charm' and 'up and coming neighbourhood' was invented for. Still, the damp on the walls has been painted over and it's on the right side of the building to get the sun for a lot of the day. Steve asks all of the right questions, and Loki rubs at a questionable stain on the carpet with the toe of his sneakers. He can't even afford this crap-hole. He can't look up. If he does, he'll cry. 

 The kid on the other couch is smaller than Loki. 

He has this tousled chocolatey brown hair and these wide hazel eyes.

He also has a stud in his nose and a tattoo on his neck. He's a little too excited about the coke and the beer goes down too easily for him. His clothes aren't right either, the denim button down and well-cut chinos a far shout from the oversized band tees and tighter-than-tight skinny jeans to which Loki has become accustomed. Still, he finds himself fixing his hair a little and grabbing another beer before he walks over to introduce himself. 

The kid on the other couch is not Tony. 

But he's the next best thing. 

"So, you like it?" Steve asks Loki with a hopeful grin as soon as they're outside. 

"S'okay," Loki shrugs, trying to remain nonchalant. There's a couple of seconds of silence. "Bit pricey for me though." 

"I've told you, Lo," Steve sighs heavily. "I don't mind you loaning you the money until you get on your feet." 

"And I've told you," Loki shoots back. "I owe you enough already." 

"You don't owe me a damn thing and you know it," Steve scolds. Loki swallows. 

"I owe you my life, Steve." 

He starts to cry. 

The kid is drunk and high enough that at least he's easy to get into bed without too much persuasion. 

He's trying too hard to be impressive, and it has the exact opposite effect. He squirms and moans like he's trying to imitate some porn star, and if Loki cared enough he'd hope that it wasn't the kid's first time. But he decidedly doesn't care; he didn't even bother to find out the kid's name. He won't be needing it, anyway. 

He takes the kid from the back, so he doesn't have to look at the tell-tale signs that it's not his Tony underneath him. If he squints his eyes, he can just about pretend that it is. 

It's Tony's name that tumbles past his lips as he climaxes, with fistfuls of the kid's hair. 

Steve was surprised to come home to find Loki's few possessions packed away into a backpack, and Loki smoking his last cigarette on the back step. 

"Hey, did you decide on somewhere?" Steve sounds hopeful. Loki shrugs. 

"Not as such," he says, much calmer than he feels. Steve sits down beside him. 

"What d'you mean?"  the blond asks. 

"I can't afford any of the places we looked at-" Loki begins. 

"Bud, I'll lend you the money," Steve cuts in. 

"-so I'm gonna go stay with a friend." Loki finishes as if he was never interrupted. Steve blinks at him, confused. 

"Which friend?" he asks, and Loki shrugs. 

"Nat's parents are on vacation right now," he says. "I'll crash at her place for a couple weeks. And then... then I've a buddy out of town who says I can have his spare room." 

It's a bare-faced lie. 

If Steve knows that, he hides it well. 

As the kid starts to dress himself, he turns to Loki, flashes him a wary smile. 

"Do you have somewhere to stay tonight?" he asks, and Loki is too fucked to tell if it's supposed to be an offer or not. Even if it is, he doesn't want to be around this kid for any longer than he needs to, so he nods. 

"Yeah, I'd better get home soon," is his only farewell as he shrugs on the leather jacket and heads downstairs. 

He picks up the first unattended cell phone he comes across and uses it to dial the number he's spent months trying so hard to forget. His heart stops when the ringing does. 

"Hello?" a voice that sends a shiver to the pit of his stomach. 

He clears his throat. 

"Hiya, Than. It's Loki." 

Chapter Text

"I cannot pretend that everything makes sense, but does it really matter now if I do not know how to figure this thing out?" - Lifehouse, Unknown 


 

Over the two-and-a-half weeks since Thanos slapped Tony, things have been...strange. 

Thanos hasn't so much as raised a hand to him since, but he did fly off the handle when Tony laughed at some dumb joke a barista made. He made a lot of stupid accusations that didn't make a whole lot of sense, but when Tony threatened to walk, he calmed down and apologised. Explained that he wasn't trying to be an asshole, he was just insecure. After what happened with Loki and everything, he's terrified of being cheated on again. It destroyed him. And Tony is so fucking gorgeous, baby, can you blame me for being so afraid that other men wanna put their hands on you? 

Aside from that singular incident, he's been as sweet as sugar. A little too sweet, if Tony is honest. It's nice to know for sure that somebody is actually into him for a change, but the constant cuddling and pawing and kissing and general affection is getting a little exhausting. Not to mention the constant chorus of I love you twenty or more times a day. Still, he's never really been in a relationship before. Maybe this is just how it is. And anyway, he really shouldn't complain. Kinda doesn't make sense for him to complain about his partner being too nice to him. After Loki, that's certainly a refreshing change. 

Loki himself has well and truly dropped off the radar since that last get together at Banner's house. Even Thor hasn't heard a word from him. Tony silences the worry that screams in the back of his head with a false it's probably for the best. Still, he can't stop thinking about that evening in Bruce's kitchen; the heart breaking sadness and sincerity in his voice when he said I miss you, Ton. And that comment, right before he left. The one that keeps replaying over and over in Tony's head; 

The make up just makes him more mad. 

What had he even meant by that? Is there more to Thanos than Tony knows? That was the first time Thanos had lost his temper so badly - so how would Loki know?

Unless it wasn't the first time. 

But it must have been. Thanos had said so himself. Loki has more to gain by lying than Than does. Right? 

Trying to ignore the memories of Loki right after he moved out of his parent's place, all black eyes and bruises he insisted came from bar fights and pissed off dealers, Tony wishes his boyfriend goodnight. 


 

Loki wakes in sickeningly familiar surroundings. 

Thanos isn't in bed any more. He always was more of a morning person. 

Loki steals a glance at the digital clock on the bedside table. Nine thirty. Still decently early. His head his pounding, even the soft morning light filtering through the curtains too much. He's sore elsewhere too and not just from spending so long wandering aimlessly yesterday. Thanos never was especially gentle with him on that front. 

He fishes around the room for his clothes, and uses the mirror on the back of the door to fix his hair. He spends as little time as possible, trying to ignore the fact that he looks like absolute hell. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath to steel himself before he makes his way through into the kitchen. 

He finds Thanos at the counter, fiddling around with the coffee machine and flicking through a book at the same time. Loki stops in the doorway, clears his throat awkwardly instead of announcing his presence. To his surprise, Thanos looks up and smiles at him in a way that seems almost genuine. 

"Hey, good morning," he sing-songs. "I didn't wanna wake you, you seemed pretty out of it last night. Thought you might need your sleep." 

"I... uh... yeah, thanks," Loki stammers. He clears his throat again. "So um... I should probably head off..." 

"You're not staying for coffee?" Thanos frowns. "I kinda feel like we need to talk." 

Loki is about to say no, he really ought to shoot off, he has somewhere to be. But Thanos can see through him like glass, always knows when he's lying. So instead, Loki just nods and sits down at the counter, allows Thanos to pour him a coffee. There's a couple of seconds of awkward silence. Thanos is the one to break it. 

"So what was that about last night?" he asks, quietly. Loki shrugs. 

"I dunno, man," he says. "I was really fucked up. Needed somewhere to crash. You popped into my head." Another pause. "Thanks for letting me stay." 

"I'm seeing someone now," is all Thanos says in reply. 

"Tony Stark," Loki answers. "I know." 

"You're not gonna tell him about this," it's not a question. 

"Don't worry, I won't," Loki shakes his head. 

 "Why didn't you go back to your pretty boy?" Thanos still sounds pleasant enough, but there's the edge of a threat on his voice that used to make Loki's heart race, and now only really makes his blood boil. "Steve?" 

"Steve was never 'my pretty boy'," Loki rolls his eyes. "He was a mate who helped me out of a shitty situation. A shitty situation that you put me in, I might add." There's a tense pause and then "He's moving in with his boyfriend. The boyfriend doesn't think much of me." 

"So he kicked you out?" Thanos says, and Loki detests the way he looks so damn pleased by that. 

"I wouldn't put it quite like that," he all but snarls. Then he sighs. "But, essentially... yes." 

"Doesn't look like such a good mate now, does he?" Thanos quirks an eyebrow, smug. "Where are you planning on going now, then?" 

"I'll stay with friends 'til I'm sorted," Loki lies. He's shocked and repulsed when Thanos reaches over the counter to caress his hand. 

"See, Lo," he says, softly. "If you'd just learned to fucking behave yourself instead of overreacting like you do, you'd never have gotten yourself into this silly mess, would you?" 

Loki doesn't know what to say, so he says nothing. 

"There's always a space for you in my bed, baby. You know that," it's not so much a whisper as a serpentine hiss. Loki meets his eye, appalled but not all that surprised. 

"Last night was a one off," he's not entirely sure who he's trying to convince. "You're with Tony now." 

Thanos tuts. "Come on now, Lo. Tony told me you and he had a fling," he says. "Don't act as if I'm stupid. I know he was the one you were messing around with behind my back. If anything it'd be getting even." 

Loki swallows because fuck Thanos is starting to scare him. He plucks any courage he can find from the depths of himself. 

"I love Tony too much to do that to him," it's barely more than a breath, and it's the first time he's ever admitted it out loud, but Thanos catches it. 

"Oh, how sweet," he coos. Then he draws his hand away, stands up straight. "You'd best be getting on if you're not planning on staying, then. I have to go to work." 

Loki nods once, goes to retrieve his backpack from the bedroom and heads towards the door. He pauses when he reaches it, turns to face his ex boyfriend. 

"Tony's a good kid, Than," he says. "A really good kid. You'd be a fucking idiot to hurt him." 

With that, he leaves. 

Chapter Text

"Somewhere in this city is a road I know, where we could make it, but maybe there's no making it now." - Lifehouse, It Is What It Is.


 

Tony doesn't really know what pushes him to go to the rooftop on Sunday. 

Maybe it's the fight he had with Howard that morning, though that's no new occurrence. Maybe it's the stress that he's feeling over the fact that he still can't find a damn summer job. Maybe he's looking for some respite from the constant barrage of messages asking if he's coming to this party or that booze-fest this weekend. 

Or maybe he knows exactly why. 

Maybe it's because, for the entire weekend, Thanos has been more than usually clingy and he's getting sick to his back teeth of it, just wants a moment of peace. 

He isn't exactly surprised to find Loki there. 

He's sitting on the edge, feet dangling, examining the sky while idly smoking a cigarette. Evidently the heat has finally gotten the better of him; the brown leather jacket is cast aside, and Tony tries his best not to look at the cuts - both scarred over and fresh - that decorate the pale flesh of his arms. He doesn't acknowledge Tony's presence, not until he sits down. Then, without a word, he passes his cig across and allows the shorter to take a drag. 

"Steve kicked me out," he says, softly, after several long moments of silence. 

"Holy shit," Tony replies. "I'm sorry about that." Another long pause. "Where're you gonna go? Back to your parents'?" 

"Nah," Loki shakes his head. "Thought about it. Came damn close, actually. Got to the end of the path before I changed my mind. Too much bad blood there." 

"So then... where?" Tony asks. Loki just shrugs silently, heaves a sigh that is sadness and dejection and resignation all rolled into one. There's uncomfortable quiet until the cigarette is gone, and Loki immediately lights another. 

"Will you be okay?" Tony asks, and he knows it's a stupid question as soon as it leaves his mouth. Because this is Loki he's talking to, and Loki isn't okay, whether he's got somewhere to stay or not. 

"Sure I will," Loki attempts a shaky laugh. "You know me." 

They fall into silence again, the only sound around them the gentle rushing of the breeze. Tony examines Loki's profile. He hasn't been taking care of himself at all, that much his clear. The circles under his eyes strike a sickening resemblance to bruises at this point, and his skin is sallow. Tony realises, with a sensation that feels like a punch to the gut, that Loki has been crying recently, his eyelashes still glistening wet. He lets his eyes fall to the pale bared flesh of Loki's arms. The newest cuts fall just shy of the fatal point, as if he'd been tempted but unable to go through with it. He bites his lip. 

"I'm sorry for the things I said," it comes out before he can stop it. Loki almost smiles there. 

"Don't be. It was all true," he shrugs. 

"Yeah, well, I maybe could have been a little more tactful about it," it's a weak attempt at humour, but they both laugh because it's better than nothing. 

Loki surprises Tony when he asks how things are going with Thanos, and he seems to be sincere about it. Tony shrugs.

"He's so... so... clingy," he says it without really meaning to. "I thought I liked him a lot, but he seems to like me a lot more than a lot. He wants to be all over me all the time when we're together, and he won't stop with the texts and the calls when we're apart. And he keeps going on about how much he loves me. I dunno, it's just a lot. Things have gotten real intense real fast and I just... I feel..." he trails off, unable to find the words.

"Trapped?" Loki fills.

"Yeah. Trapped," Tony nods once. Loki surprises him when he leans over and plants a kiss on his cheek.

"You're a good kid, Ton," he says. "You're a really, really good kid. You're beautiful and you're smart and you're funny. Just promise me you won't ever let him make you feel different, okay?  You deserve better than that." 

"I..." Tony doesn't know how to respond. "Thank you." 

"I mean it," Loki looks at Tony, more earnest and sincere than he's looked in a long time. "You deserve the world, kid. My only regret is not giving it to you when I had the chance." 

Without really thinking about it, Tony leans forward and kisses Loki square on the lips. 


 

Tony's surprised to see Thanos' car parked up outside his house when he arrives home. 

His boyfriend springs out and pulls him into a bone-crushing hug as soon as he spots him. Tony's alarmed to realise that he's crying. 

"Where have you been?"  Thanos demands. "I've been worried sick. You weren't answering your phone and your dad said you weren't here and I just... I... God, I'm so glad you're back." 

"I uh... I didn't feel so good," Tony lies. "Went for a long walk to clear my head. Phone must've died. I'm sorry." 

"It's okay, baby, it's alright," Thanos coos. "You should've said if you didn't feel good, though. I'd've taken care of you. Next time let me know when you're going somewhere, alright? Then I don't lose you." 

"Sure, hon, I will," Tony replies, with a nod. 

"Come back to my place? Let me look after you?" Thanos smiles. Tony swallows. He doesn't really want to go. He just wants to go inside, heat up some ramen, and curl up in his own bed. He wants to wrap the duvet around himself and enjoy the taste of Loki that's still lingering on his lips. 

But he can't say that to Thanos. 

Instead, he forces a smile back. 

"Sure. Sounds like a great idea."