He’s on book duty today. He fucking hates book duty, so you can probably guess that by the time he gets home, he’ll be super/ultra/mega-pissed and definitely not in the mood for Thor White and the Four Dwarves. But then, when is he ever in the mood for their bullshit?
But, anyways. Book duty.
Loki hates book duty because he despises the Dewey decimal system with the passion of a thousand night stallions. It’s not that he doesn’t understand it (of course he understands it). Loki just believes that, while a smart way to organize a library, it’s a massive waste of time to keep up when ninety-five percent of the student body doesn’t give a flying fuck about following it. He’s lost count of how many times he’s found a book about something like astronomy written by Somebody Douglas in the mythology section between books by Asshole Reyes and WhoDat Riback. Do you know how fucking aggravating that is?
But, it gets him his wages, so Loki’s learned not to complain too much about it to anyone besides Fenrir, Frigga, and Tony.
Loki’s pulling a biography on Charles Dickens from between a book about Norse mythology and another about sirens when a face suddenly appears on the other side of the shelf. He almost screams like a girl when he sees it (and believe me, he’s done that many times before), but thankfully he possesses good self-restraint and a hefty desire to keep his job. The face laughs, and Loki glares in response.
“Fuck you,” Loki hisses, resisting the urge to shove the book back onto the shelf and smash his friend’s nose in with it.
“Aww, Loki,” Tony drawls, and Loki can hear the laugh in the man’s voice as he adds, “Did I scare you?” Tony grins, poking his face further into the shelf. Loki won’t have it.
Briefly but firmly reaching through the shelf to thrust his hand at Tony’s face, managing the man all the way out of the shelf when he does, Loki turns back to his cart and drops the Charles Dickens biography next to a volume of World Book.
“You ask the stupidest questions sometimes, Tony,” he replies in a voice loud enough for his friend to hear but still low enough to be considered library-appropriate. There’s no heat in the comment, though, and both of them know that.
As Loki pushes his cart further down the aisle, his eyes quickly and expertly scanning the shelves for irregularities, he can hear Tony’s light footsteps and instantly tell that the man is jogging around to meet him. By the time Tony gets to him, he’s reordering three books by the authors’ last names. The last librarian must’ve gotten confused, he thinks with a sigh.
“I spy a topography book on the eleventh shelf, my friend,” Tony easily points out, leaning against a series of Greek epics.
“Look at you go, paying attention to books,” Loki jests, throwing Tony a smirk. He brushes a lock of hair out of his face and goes on, “I think my poisonous, bibliophilic influence is rubbing off on you, Anthony.”
Tony shoves Loki’s shoulder somewhat forcefully, jokingly, and groans, “Obviously I need to stop hanging around here so much. This is what? The third time this week I’ve been to the library? That’s fucking scary.”
Loki’s smirk turns into a grin as he gets on his tip-toes, extending his long fingers to try and reach the book, to no avail. Even Thor probably couldn’t snatch that book.
“You come because you love me,” Loki replies in a slightly strained voice, quickly adding, “And no ‘that’s what she said’ in the library.”
Tony laughs rather loudly at that (Loki knows it’s because he guessed Tony’s potential response to his first statement with near-total accuracy), and Loki barely stops himself from shushing him. After his chuckling subsides, though, the man simply asks, “You need some help, shorty?”
Loki regains his normal height and gives Tony an even look. “I’m not short, Tony,” he indicates curtly, nodding despite himself and answering his friend’s question with a, “Yes, please.”
Tony grins and kneels, and Loki momentarily considers making a joke about bowing or something before ultimately deciding against it. Instead, he gingerly moves to rest his thighs on each one of his friend’s broad shoulders, involuntarily clutching at the shelf next to him when Tony grasps his legs and rises from his crouch in a fluid motion. Tony peers up at him.
“You okay?” he asks as Loki balances himself on his shoulders.
Loki huffs, replies, “Mmhmm,” and starts searching for the rogue topography book Tony located. He vaguely wonders why the hell someone would put such a book in the mythology section, especially so high up, before finding and removing the object.
Placing his hands on the shelf so he doesn’t spontaneously fall and bust his face on an encyclopedia of mythical creatures, Loki says, “I got it.”
Tony slowly eases onto his knees again, letting Loki down and not moving until the man’s feet are firmly on the ground. When he gets up, Loki is placing the topography book in his cart. He follows him keenly as he moves down the aisle.
“Are you afraid of heights?” Tony asks absently, moving to walk in step with Loki. Loki can’t help but snort at the question.
For some reason, people have assumed that Loki was afraid of heights his entire life. Both of his parents and all of his cousins thought so. His classmates at school believed it. Fuck, even random people at the rock-climbing or roller coaster stations at the fair thought he was acrophobic. At first, Loki was irritated by the seemingly baseless theories. He had not one idea why everyone thought he was so terrified of heights. But then it dawned on him:
In situations regarding such heights, he was almost always next to/around Thor in some way, shape, or form.
The first time the Skywalkers moved into a new house, Odin and Frigga decided to get Thor and Loki a bunk bed, both to save some space and give the brothers a sense of adventure and fun when going to bed (as if they really needed one; they already had each other). As soon as the thing was assembled, Thor had been almost violently adamant and vocal about claiming the top bunk.
Now, if you don’t pay very close attention and have a propensity to make offhanded assumptions, it could either seem like a) Thor really fucking liked the top bunk, b) Loki disliked the top bunk, or c) both. It makes sense in an incredibly stupid way to think Loki is afraid of heights based on a comparison between he and Thor’s enthusiasm and desire for the top bunk; Loki actually didn’t care all that much, so you could say his want for the higher ground paled drastically next to Thor’s.
Makes sense, right? Right. (Wrong.)
The same thing happened at school and at fairs. Thor was always passionate about his aspiration to use the monkey bars or get on the huge, deadly slide of huge death, to climb to the top of the tallest rock-climbing wall or ride the scariest, riskiest, most physics-defying roller coaster of all time. By contrast, Loki would either be particularly apathetic or only mildly interested in these activities. He’d much prefer to do something like read a book or get his face painted (the sissy).
It wasn’t that he was afraid of heights. Loki just isn’t an adrenaline junkie like his brother.
“No,” Loki easily replies, rearranging a couple of books as he does, “I’m just not a fan of breaking my neck, that’s all.”
Tony breathes a tiny laugh, ever-watching of Loki’s actions. “Smart cookie,” he notes, and goddamn, Loki really fucking loves Tony. He really does.
“That’s me,” he replies, perfectly comfortable with Tony’s trailing after him.
The next hour pretty much goes on just like that, with Tony following Loki like a lost puppy, helping him sort and fix the shelves, asking stupid questions that are exactly and so utterly Tony, and Loki half-working and half-listening to his friend. Occasionally, one of them will say something that has the other (or both of them, because that tends to happen with Loki and Tony) laughing so hard that they have to stop walking, or Loki has to tell Tony to shut up before he gets fired, or Tony has to be an asshole and tickle Loki or something and just make everything worse because that’s what he’s best at.
Tony really isn’t that good for Loki’s health/work life/emotional stability. Then again, Loki honestly doesn’t care about that, especially if it means going home is a little more bearable due to the wonderful mood Tony puts him in. They’re pretty great friends if you haven’t figured that out already.
Despite that, Loki is actually starting to get scared of the prospect of Tony visiting him at the library so often. He really likes his job, and, even though he likes Tony more, he needs to make his money.
During his break (which is a meager twenty-five minutes), Loki and Tony escape to the employee lounge, where Tony buys Loki a Pop-Tart (instead of the Wheat Thins he wanted, fuck, Tony) and a Root Beer (instead of Dasani, Tony).
“So what’s it gonna be?” Tony asks, leaning back in his chair and sipping from Loki’s A&W. The man scratches idly at his brow (Loki automatically knows that means he’s itching for a cigarette) and adds, “On a scale of one to 9-11, how bad will the damage be today?”
Loki delicately breaks the corner off of his blueberry Pop-Tart and nibbles thoughtfully at it. “I predict that it’ll somewhere around forest fire on the damage scale,” he replies, watching Tony somewhat apprehensively from where he sits atop the break table. He forces an easy smile (even though he knows Tony can tell how fake it is), asks, “Care to be my extinguisher?”
Thor White and the Four Dwarves haven’t met Tony yet, and Loki has contemplated (many, many times) the advantageousness of having his friend as a buffer, a sort of happy pill to numb the effects his brother’s antics have on him.
Tony frowns a bit, scratching his brow again. As Loki thoughtlessly snatches Tony’s hand away from his face and relocates it to his lap, Tony answers, “You know I’d love to, but I might not be able. Pepper asked me to wait for her to call me because she needs a ride to a party or something.”
Loki’s expression mirrors Tony’s as he takes another bite out of his Pop-Tart, distractedly playing with the man’s fingers. He mentally notes how thin and pale his hands are compared to Tony’s tan, worked ones, and the observation leads him to realize that that comparison applies to both of them in general, which then makes him wonder why that difference makes him feel so inferior when applied to him and Thor, and so at home when it’s about him and Tony.
Life is funny that way.
Loki realizes he hasn’t said anything for awhile when Tony asks, “Loki?” He’s using his quiet, short voice, the one he only uses when he’s trying to tell you to piss off or when he’s worried. This time, the latter is the most likely.
“Hmm?” Loki hums, looking up to meet Tony’s eyes. He kind of regrets the decision now, though, because Tony’s watching him really intently and suddenly, Loki’s not holding his hand but Tony’s holding his and his eyes are soft and nothing exists but them and–
Loki doesn’t like to feel that way, because it’s like falling into what you thought was a bathtub but what really turns out to be an ocean. Actually, everything about Tony feels like that, but it’s when he’s practically on his knees for Loki that it turns unpleasant.
“It’s okay,” Tony says, and goddammit, Loki already knows that. The man is studying his face when he says, “You can always stay at my place.”
Loki shakes his head a little too quickly at that, looks down to hide how off he feels all of a sudden. “I can’t, actually,” he replies, and when Tony makes a confused noise, he clarifies, “If I leave my house to Thor for one night without any supervision, I could come back and find it totally nuked or something.”
Tony is silent for a few moments, and Loki knows that means he’s trying to think of something to say that won’t upset him further or sound patronizing. Loki passes the time by eating his Pop-Tart and squeezing each one of Tony’s fingers; it’s his way of telling his friend It’s okay that you make me feel awkward and small.
Finally, Tony sighs and says, “Fine, Loki. I just worry about your mental health, that’s all.”
Loki feels Tony squeeze his hand back, and he anticipates what’s coming early enough to meet his friend halfway. Quickly raising his head, Loki leans forward and shares a brief, solid kiss with Tony, smiling a bit when the other man does.
To a bystander, that might have automatically meant Love, marriage, and a baby in a baby carriage. To Loki and Tony, that meant You’re my best friend so I can do this with you. To Loki alone, that meant He’s way too affectionate but I love him anyways. To Tony alone, that meant I love him more than life.
There’s a lot of different kinds of love playing into this, if you haven’t noticed.
“I’m not completely insane, yet. Don’t worry,” Loki replies, finishing off his Pop-Tart and taking a long drag of A&W (oh God, would you take a look at that sugar intake?). Thankfully, Tony’s hangdog, wistful expression fades into his default shit-eating smirk.
“You sure about that?” he drawls, leaning forward to steal Loki’s A&W again. Tony grins, adds, “You’re a little cray-cray, in my humble opinion.”
Before Tony can drink from his can, Loki snatches it right out of his hand, leaving the man completely bewildered and cupping air. Loki downs it, drops the aluminum can on the table beside him, and leans over to press a comparatively teasing kiss to Tony’s forehead. He hops gracefully to the floor, starting for the door and calling in a mischievous tone, “Only crazy for you, love.”
It would be accurate to say that he’s not totally lying. He’s actually being pretty damn truthful, for once.
Loki’s fixing to exit the break room when suddenly, two thick arms wrap around his middle and he’s being lifted off of the ground and oh my God oh my God oh my God.
Loki starts screaming. Like, uncontrolled, unanticipated, animalistic howling kind of screaming.
“Tony!” he wails as said man starts spinning him around in the air. He’s kicking and flailing around like a freaking octopus, yelling loud enough for the whole goddamn library to probably hear him, “Let me go!”
Tony laughs a huge, beautiful, completely douchey laugh and replies, “But I can’t! I just love you so much!”
“TonyTonyTonyTonyTony…!” Loki is shrieking like a cat submerged in water, reaching around to slap at Tony’s face and body or whatever he can actually get his hands on. He thinks he lands a blow on his cheek, but he can’t really be sure because he’s freaking the fuck out so damn bad.
Tony suddenly stops spinning him (he doesn’t put him down, though), and then both he and Loki are just sitting there, panting like dogs. The man rests his face against the small of Loki’s back, and Loki can feel the sharp curve of Tony’s nose, the warm gusts of his breath through his shirt as he says, “I always wanted to hear you call my name like that. Granted, I wanted you in my bed when you did, but this works.”
“Asshole,” Loki snarls, not really that angry, and digs his heel into Tony’s thigh, hoping to deter his friend. It doesn’t work, though. Of course.
“How’d you guess?” Tony asks, running a suggestive hand up Loki’s front and laughing, “That’s where I was gonna put my dick.”
And then Tony starts spinning him again and Loki resumes his screaming, writhing like a fish out of water in his friend’s grip. If only he was as slippery as one.
“Oh my God, Tony, stop!” he cries, his yelling giving way to wild laughter as Tony grins and chuckles against his back. Loki hates it but he loves it, hates the feeling of being held off the ground against his will, hates the turning and the vertigo but loves that Tony’s the one holding him, loves that he’s being held at all and so tightly.
And then Kitty has to walk into the room.
Loki and Tony freeze, watching Kitty in abject fear. Her eyes widen when she sees them, and Loki knows that her astonished reaction is not only due to the unusual nature of the situation, but also because of the fact that none of his coworkers have ever seen him in such a carefree and unrestrained position (even when Tony’s around).
Before she can say anything, Loki forcefully tells Kitty, “Do not tell anyone about this, understand? I can’t have Professor X hearing about this and firing me.” He emphasizes his command by pointing at her, and a part of him feels really guilty about doing that because Kitty is probably the sweetest, most innocent librarian here. Plus, she’s a freshman, and, unlike Thor, Loki doesn’t plan to make a habit of terrorizing the underclassmen.
It’s just that he can’t lose his job because of Tony.
Kitty nods quickly, pushing her glasses up her nose and clutching her bag closer to her. She looks a little scared and small standing in the doorway like that, and fuck, does Loki feel like a dick.
And then Kitty says, “I just came to tell you that Kurt says your break is over and…” She pauses, blushes. “… and to stop fooling around with your boyfriend.”
Then Kitty practically runs away, the door swinging shut behind her. Tony still has Loki hoisted up in the air, and he can’t get his friend to the ground fast enough before the starts spontaneously combusting from anger.
“Fucking Kurt,” Loki mutters, running a frustrated hand through his inky hair. He turns to look at Tony, who has his arms loosely crossed and a pensive expression on his face. The man is watching him almost curiously.
“What?” Loki asks, just a bit irritated. Tony smiles a little, and, while the expression is mostly innocent, Loki’s eyes are practiced enough to see the hint of mischief in the grin.
“So am I your boyfriend now?” Tony asks, simpering playfully. His smirk turns into a pleased laugh when Loki shoves him by his shoulders, and Loki is just so happy that Tony knows just how to tease him into a better mood.
Sighing softly, Loki moves to hug Tony, smiling when the man hugs him back. “You know I’m your best friend, Tony,” he replies.
“Aw, damn,” Tony whines good-naturedly as they pull away from each other. He trails Loki to the door, ever the man’s lapdog.
Before exiting, though, Loki stops and turns to Tony, watching him with thoughtful, serious emerald eyes.
“You know that saying, ‘just because somebody doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have’?” he asks quietly.
Tony goes still, gazing heavily at him. Loki gets that falling feeling again when Tony reaches forward and takes his hand, squeezing it gently. All he can hear is the man’s breathing.
Finally, Tony says, “Yeah, Loki.”
Loki doesn’t smile, but the expression on his face couldn’t be described as a frown or an apathetic mask. It’s a tad shy of satisfied, just barely noticeable, but Loki knows Tony can see it.
“Remember that,” he says, walking out of the break room.
Tony follows after.