If Tony Stark were the type of person to follow protocol, he would have submitted regularly-timed status reports on the development of his new bug. (Or, as S.H.I.E.L.D. would call it, his new remote-controlled covert listening device with video capabilities.)
As it was, Tony kept his records between himself and JARVIS, and field-tested the bug by dropping it onto Loki's cloak mid-fight. There was always the possibility that the Avengers would win and all Tony would get was sound and footage of a S.H.I.E.L.D. holding cell, but Loki did not disappoint. He ran circles around the Avengers, as usual, riling up Thor before escaping via teleportation.
It took every ounce of self restraint Tony had to contain his grin during the post-battle debriefing. He unleashed it the second he made it out of the meeting and back into his workshop, where he could check on his bug in peace.
"Everything running smoothly, JARVIS?" Tony said, practically bouncing into the chair in front of his workstation.
"The bug has been successfully deployed and remains undetected by the subject."
"We got video?"
"Two hours, forty-two minutes, thirty-seven seconds and counting."
"I'd rather let you be the judge of that, sir."
"Good answer." Tony snapped his fingers. "Roll it."
Videos opened up on two of the monitors in front of him; one live feed, and one of previously recorded footage. A quick glance at the live feed revealed what looked like an empty kitchen, small yet stylish, full of granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. Not too different from what Tony had in most of his houses.
Tony looked over to the recording, which started from the moment the bug had been deployed on Loki's cape. It was dizzying to watch, with flashes of green as Loki's cloak billowed in front of the lens and completely random changes of scenery when he teleported.
"Fast-forward," said Tony, sitting back in his seat to watch the blur for anything interesting.
The battle with the Avengers ended, but Loki continued teleporting around for the better part of twenty minutes before arriving at his destination: the kitchen from the live feed. The bug dropped off his cloak and scurried across the floor and up the wall, nestling itself in a corner of the ceiling. With the video still on fast-forward, Loki zipped around his apartment at lightning speeds, which was funny, but not quite what Tony wanted.
"Resume normal playback," said Tony.
Loki abruptly slowed to his normal stride, re-entering the kitchen after shedding his armor off-screen and changing into t-shirt and slacks. He sat at his table in a comfortable slouch, raised one arm in the air, and made a twisting motion with his fingers. A second Loki materialized standing behind him, identical down to every last wrinkle in his t-shirt, and stepped forward, looking down at Loki with a casual curiosity.
"Pause!" said Tony. "JARVIS, isolate the last ten seconds of footage and copy to new folder labeled 'Magical Analysis'."
"Resume normal playback."
Loki reached up and grabbed the clone's jaw in his hands, locking eyes with it.
"You," he told the clone, "are magnificent."
The clone went from wide-eyed surprise to a wicked grin.
"No, really!" said Loki, practically cooing his compliments. "You are!"
The clone chuckled. Loki released it and tipped his seat back, gracefully balancing the chair on two legs. The clone took a seat next to Loki and leaned forward, propping its chin up on steepled fingers. It listened intently as Loki launched into a play-by-play account of his fight with the Avengers. It was the perfect audience, laughing and gasping at all the right intervals.
Tony, meanwhile, stared at the screen, mouth twisted to one side in confusion. Whatever he'd been expecting Loki to do in his spare time, this wasn't it.
Also, he was pretty sure Loki was exaggerating some of the details in his story, particularly when it came to how quickly and soundly he had defeated the Avengers. It hadn't exactly been the superhero team's proudest moment, but come on. They'd landed a few good hits. The least Loki could do was–
Tony's train of thought was interrupted by a clattering sound from the live feed.
"Pause." He swiveled his chair to face the other monitor, where a slightly-rumpled Loki pressed the start button on a coffee maker almost as fancy as Tony's own. Tony waited for something more to happen, but Loki continued to stand at his kitchen counter, watching his beverage brew.
Just as Tony was about to give up on his live surveillance and go back to Storytime with the God of Lies, Loki's clone, now shirtless, stepped into the kitchen. It put a hand on Loki's shoulder, spun him around, and caught his lips in a hungry kiss.
Tony's jaw dropped.
Loki pulled away and smiled indulgently at his doppelganger, who responded by running a long-fingered hand through his hair and planting further kisses on his slender neck. Loki licked his lips, and the clone dropped to its knees in front of him, deftly undoing the fastenings of his pants.
It was impossible for Tony to see exactly what was going on, thanks to the bug's position in the corner of the ceiling. Whatever the clone was up to down there, it made Loki inhale sharply, biting his lip, eyelids fluttering shut.
Tony ran through every equation he had memorized in his long and storied career as a child prodigy turned adult engineering genius. They all failed to distract him from the growing tightness in his oil-stained work jeans. Every number and symbol he conjured up paled in comparison to the sight of Loki moving his hips in shallow thrusts and fisting his hand in his clone's sleek black hair.
Tony could solve this problem. All he had to do was tell JARVIS to cut the feed. Scratch that, he didn't have to say a word. He could reach forward and manually shut off the monitor. Push a button. Surely he could push a button. He wasn't that far gone yet.
It was then that Loki gently nudged his clone off his cock and jerked his chin towards the kitchen table.
The clone smirked, an infuriating Loki smirk, the same one he wore when Mjolnir flew by his head and missed his face by inches. It moved to the table, leaning the back of its upper thighs against the edge.
Loki stalked after it, placed a hand on either shoulder, and pushed it flat on its back. He leaned in, fitting himself in between the clone's spread legs and bending his head down for a deep kiss.
Distantly, Tony realized that the voice quietly muttering "what the fuck" over and over again was his own, as was the hand absently stroking him through his jeans. He briefly considered removing the offending appendage with a laser cutter but settled on using it to clutch the arm of his chair in a punishing grip, his eyes never once leaving the screen.
Loki trailed his hand down the top of the clone's thigh in a lingering stroke, and its slacks simply shimmered out of existence. He shed his own pants somewhat less magically, and hooked one of the clone's knees over his shoulder.
"You wouldn't," Tony breathed.
Seconds later, he was forced to conclude that Loki, in fact, would, as he watched him fuck his own clone on top of his kitchen table.
The clone arched its back as Loki entered it, with no pain that Tony could see from his perspective. Apparently Loki had a lubrication spell on hand. Tony briefly wondered how often this sort of thing had to happen for Loki to have prepared such a spell. His wondering came to a halt as the visuals in front of him short-circuited his brain once more.
Loki took the clone's cock in hand, stroking it in time with his long, slow thrusts. He raised his other hand in the air and twisted his fingers sharply. A second clone materialized behind him, stark naked, and stepped forward to put its spidery hands on his pale hips. It pressed its lips to Loki's neck, and Loki turned his head to meet its kiss.
Finding his hand in his lap again, Tony gave up.
"Turn over," said Loki to the clone on the table, pulling out entirely and stepping back to allow it room to reposition itself. The clone rolled obligingly and bent forward, resting its head on its arms. Loki swiftly re-entered it, eliciting a gasp and a moan as he set a more punishing pace.
The clone behind Loki continued its ministrations, trailing its lips from Loki's earlobes down to the base of his neck, pressing feather-light kisses interspersed with ones that left bruises. Its hands roamed all over his chest and sides in tactile appreciation of his lean musculature.
Tony licked his own lips absentmindedly as he struggled blindly with the zipper on his jeans, his eyes still locked on the monitor. After what felt like an eternity he finally had them undone and began stroking himself in earnest.
Onscreen, Loki's thrusts slowed to a halt. He caught one of the standing clone's roaming hands and brought it to his lips, sucking the slender middle digit.
"You filthy fucking bastard," Tony groaned, to himself as much as to Loki.
The standing clone let its other hand fall to grip Loki's waist and moved its hips forward, slowly pressing into its master. Loki bit his lip again; whether to suppress a sound or a smile, Tony couldn't be sure.
The clone on the table looked back over its shoulder impatiently, and Loki ran a hand through its hair, murmuring reassurances that it hadn't been forgotten.
The clone behind them grinned wickedly before pulling out of Loki almost entirely and thrusting back in. Loki gasped and laughed, letting the standing clone set the pace for all three of them. He slipped his hand around to the first clone's front, stroking it in time with the roll of his hips, and bent his head to press a kiss to the back of its neck. The clone hummed in appreciation, the hum turning into a moan as Loki's thrusts became deeper.
The standing clone's hands continued to wander, coming to rest on Loki's ass, one on each cheek, clenching hard enough to leave finger-shaped bruises. It picked up the pace, grinding into Loki as though it wanted to become one with him again. Loki didn't seem to mind, though the clone's tongue on the side of his neck may have served as something of a distraction.
As much attention as the standing clone lavished on Loki, Loki transferred to the clone on the table. He rubbed its back and pet its hair, leaned in to lick at its ears and whispered things Tony's microphone couldn't quite pick up, but which seemed to please the clone to no end.
Tony muttered obscenities as the clone on the table came with a hoarse shout, its back arching against Loki's chest. He was determined to last longer than Loki, but the bastard wasn't making it easy. Tony barely outlasted the second clone, whose thrusts stuttered to a stop as it sank its teeth into Loki's shoulder.
"Fuck," Tony panted after his own climax, eyes still on the screen.
Loki's face contorted with ecstasy, head thrown back, slender throat bared, mouth held open in a silent shout, before he collapsed forward onto the clone on the table. The clone behind him ran its hands over his shoulders and kissed the mark it had left with its teeth.
Less than a minute of post-coital exhaustion later, Loki dismissed the clone behind him with a roll of his shoulder and stood up, slipping out of the clone on the table. The clone turned over and propped itself up on its elbows, cocking an eyebrow at its master.
"What a mess we've made," Loki murmured. "Clean it up, won't you?"
The clone glanced at the tabletop, smiled at Loki, then bent its head to lick up the smear of its own semen.
Tony briefly forgot how to breathe.
The clone finished its task a little more slowly than necessary, doing an incredibly thorough job. Loki watched it with his head cocked to one side and an appreciative smirk. When it was finished, he put his hand on the back of its head, spidery fingers tangled in dark hair once again, and pulled it up for one last kiss. It disappeared as he stroked its back, leaving him kissing air for a fraction of a second.
Tony's jaw hung open as he watched Loki clean himself off with a wave of his hand. Loki pulled his slacks back on, went to the sink, washed his hands, then picked up the coffee he'd brewed at the beginning of this whole debacle and poured himself a mug.
"JARVIS," Tony said, his voice coming out choked and distracted. "Please tell me we have that recorded."
"Indeed, sir," said JARVIS. Tony silently thanked the AI for not judging him out loud.
As Tony watched Loki sip his lukewarm coffee and stroll out of the kitchen, he made two very important decisions. One–
"JARVIS, have the bug follow Loki whenever it's possible to do so without blowing its cover."
And two, there was no way in hell Fury was ever getting his hands on this footage.
This is where the Archive Warnings start to apply.
Over the next week or so, Loki didn't meet the Avengers in battle. He did, however, spend a lot of time with himself in his apartment. Tony developed something of a routine, instructing JARVIS to go over the footage and pull out anything interesting to set aside for Tony to watch in his spare time. Whenever he took a break from reconfiguring the suit or training with the team or, God forbid, doing his job and designing something for his company, he went into his basement, locked down everything, and watched the Loki show.
He had JARVIS separate the Loki files into two categories: What The Hell, for when Loki was using his clones to style his hair or talk over movies, and What The Fuck, for when Loki and his clones got a little more intimate. As much fun as What The Hell was, Tony found he preferred What The Fuck. He was in the midst of re-watching a particularly amusing incident in Loki's hot tub when the mansion's alarms went off.
Tony quickly closed the file and ran to put on the Iron Man suit, cursing the day he joined Fury's stupid boyband. He took back those curses when he realized he probably wouldn't have those files in the first place if he wasn't an Avenger. Having the footage made being at S.H.I.E.L.D.'s beck and call totally worth it. That and the opportunity to save the world, of course.
Things got a little awkward when he arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and discovered he and the other Avengers were expected to take down the man he'd been beating off to scant minutes earlier.
"What's going on?" said Tony in the most casual tone possible as Loki used his magic to fling a parked car at the Hulk. The Hulk smashed through the car and launched another one right back at Loki, who dodged the projectile and vanished. He reappeared behind the Hulk and tapped it on the shoulder with his staff, disappearing again before the Hulk turned around and bellowed with rage to find its prey missing.
"What does it look like?" said Hawkeye's voice over the comm channel. He was positioned on the museum's roof, taking aim at the scene on the street below. "Somebody's pitching a hissy fit."
"Loki's trying to lift ancient Egyptian magic wands from the Met." Captain America's voice, followed by the sight of his shield arcing through the air in Loki's direction. At the moment it would have connected, Loki disappeared with an echoing cackle. He reappeared on the opposite side of the street and shot a bolt of green energy at the Cap, whose shield barely returned in time for him to block it.
"Wait, the Egyptians had magic wands?" said Tony.
"I know, right?" said Hawkeye. "Who knew. They look more like boomerangs than anything else, but–-"
His chatter was interrupted when he somersaulted to the side to dodge a magical blast from Loki, who had appeared quite suddenly beside him on the rooftop.
"–-I guess they're the real deal. Loki seems to think so, anyway."
"Less channel clogging, more Loki-stopping!" said Captain America.
"Verily!" said Thor, descending rapidly and leaving a small crater where he landed beside Hawkeye. He gave Mjolnir a casual toss that would have crushed Loki's head had the latter deigned to stay in place instead of dissipating like so much green fog.
Tony sighed and flew high, surveying the area from above. This was going to end like every other battle with Loki. The Avengers would fail, and Loki would get away with whatever he was trying to accomplish and go home to have celebratory sex with his clones.
Actually, that last bit didn't sound so bad. Tony found himself hoping Loki would hurry up and win already.
"On your left, sir."
"Thanks JARVIS," said Tony, whirling around to face the area JARVIS indicated on his screens, repulsors out and ready to fire. But there was nothing in front of him.
"JARVIS, you feeling all right?"
"My diagnostics indicate no malfunctions."
"Okay, because you're telling me there's a Loki where there's no–-"
With a blinding flash of green light, Loki appeared precisely where JARVIS had said he was and aimed his staff at Tony's head.
"Oh, shit." Tony shot away up into the air, barely avoiding the magical blast.
Loki vanished again, this time manifesting on the street below in front of Black Widow, who backflipped out of the way of his attack and retaliated with her Widow's Bite. It passed right through where Loki used to be.
"Approximately one hundred and thirty-five degrees to your right, sir."
"You sure about that?" said Tony as he turned to aim at an empty spot in mid-air.
"According to my calculations, Loki will be there in precisely-–"
Loki appeared. Tony fired, almost halfheartedly, expecting Loki to dodge. Instead, Loki caught the repulsor beam square in the chest. It slammed him backwards into a nearby wall, where he hung suspended for a split second, fixing Tony with a look of shock and rage before plummeting to the ground. He vanished before he hit the pavement.
"Finally!" said Hawkeye.
Tony stared at the place where Loki had been. "Not that I'm complaining, JARVIS, but how the hell are you doing this?"
"I've been monitoring Loki's magical activity for no less than nine days, sir. It leaves a very distinctive energy signature."
Oh, right. The official reason behind the bug. Tony grinned inside his helmet and did a celebratory loop in the air.
"Directly above you, sir."
Tony flipped onto his back and fired before he saw Loki. Another hit, this time to Loki's shoulder. Loki looked angrier than ever when he disappeared.
"Ninety degrees to the Hulk's left," said JARVIS.
"On it!" said Tony, diving down to street level. He landed and aimed his palm where he could begin to see a faint green mist forming between himself and the Hulk, something he never would have noticed if he hadn't been looking for it.
"Iron Man!" said Captain America. "What are you–-"
Tony didn't have time to answer before Loki manifested, facing the Hulk. Tony hit him in the back. Loki stumbled forward, barely ducking down in time to avoid the Hulk's punch, then rolling to the side and vanishing again.
"What's wrong, Cap?" said Tony, unable to keep the glee out of his voice. The battle of science vs. magic had been going on for far too long, and science was winning at last.
A heavy sigh came over the comm. "Next time, tell me when you're going to try something that looks like friendly fire," said the Captain.
"You don't trust me?" said Tony. He launched the suit into the air again to get a better view of the battlefield, ready to go wherever Loki chose to reappear.
"It's not about trust, it's about communication," said Captain America. "How'd you know Loki was going to be there?"
"JARVIS is picking up on his energy signature," said Tony. "Speaking of, hey JARVIS, where's he gonna show up next?"
"It would appear that Loki has left the battlefield entirely, sir."
"Wait, really?" said Hawkeye. Tony zoomed in on him and Thor on the rooftop. Hawkeye looked almost as gleeful as Tony felt. Thor seemed a little crestfallen, judging by the slump of his shoulders and his slack grip on Mjolnir.
"For now," said the Captain, taking control of the team once more. "Let's get this place cleaned up."
Tony spent most of the post-battle debriefing mentally speculating on what Loki was doing at that very moment. Since it had taken Loki a while to get home after their last fight, he might not have arrived yet. When he did, he'd strip out of his armor-– no, he'd make one of his clones take it off, slowly so as not to aggravate any of his injuries, which would manifest as minor but impressive-looking bruises. Then the clone would start to kiss it better, and Loki would kiss the clone back, and the whole scene would turn into soft, tender–-
"What the hell are you smiling at, Stark," said Fury.
Tony sat up in his seat and forced his fantasies to the back of his mind, though he didn't drop the grin.
The grin was still in place after the debriefing ended and he was allowed to return to his mansion and his workshop in the basement. He fired up the monitors with a snap of his fingers and leaned back in his desk chair.
"Live feed, JARVIS!" he said with a clap of his hands.
The picture snapped onto the screen: Loki's apartment, the living room, sparsely decorated with cream-colored rug, walls, and couch, all of which were pristine and free of stains.
Except for that curious red-orange smear on the arm of the couch.
And the faint pink spatter on the wall next to the door leading into the hallway.
And the red trail on the rug leading out of the room to a pair of boots being dragged down the hall.
Tony furrowed his brow in confusion as the bug crept along the ceiling, obeying its programming to follow Loki. There was a curious keening sound coming through the feed, and Tony opened his mouth to ask JARVIS to run a diagnostic on the bug's mic before the camera re-focused and the entire scene came into view.
Loki marched down the hall, face twisted in fury, armor discarded, leaving him bare-chested with blackening bruises on full display all over his torso; the aftereffects of the Iron Man's repulsor blasts. He'd summoned one of his clones in an identical outfit, with identical bruises, and was dragging it down the hallway by its hair. The strange whining sound was coming from its mouth as it grabbed for Loki's wrist and kicked its legs, trying to get its feet back under itself and relieve some of the pressure on its scalp. Its nose was dripping blood and bruising rapidly.
Tony's eyes widened. This was not the scene he'd signed up for.
"Would you stop that miserable whining!" said Loki, giving the clone's hair a good yank on the last word. It obliged him with a shout of pain, and he grabbed it by the arm and threw it ahead of himself into his bedroom. The clone landed on its hands and knees; when it tried to crawl away, Loki stopped it by stomping on its ankle.
"One simple mission!" he said over the clone's incoherent pleas for mercy. "Taking a single artifact, barely under guard! And still you managed to fail. Then again, failure's not exactly new to you, is it?"
He flicked his wrist in the air and a lethal-looking whip appeared in his hand. He lashed the floor with it and both Tony and the clone winced as it cracked.
"Destroy Jotunheim?" Loki shouted. "What kind of a plan was that? Even Thor, the quintessential meathead, knew it was a bad idea, but you had to go ahead and prove. Him. Right!"
Loki highlighted those his last three words with deafening whip cracks, the leather landing directly across the clone's kidneys.
"Not one moment of rational thought!" said Loki, raining down blows upon the clone, who whimpered and writhed helplessly on the floor. "No, it was all Odin this and Allfather that and–" in a mocking falsetto "–'why won't Daddy love me?' Look at you! There's your answer! No wonder you can never win!"
The clone clawed at the bedpost and tried to pull itself away from its furious master. Loki was having none of it. Casting the whip aside, he launched himself bodily at the clone and threw it onto its back before he planted his knee firmly in its groin. It shouted in pain and tried to curl in on itself, but Loki grabbed it by the hair and wrenched its head back so he could aim a punch at its jaw. It covered its face with its hand, and Loki broke its fingers, then grabbed it by the wrist and pulled its arm straight before punching in the back of its elbow, snapping the joint and dislocating its shoulder for good measure.
As the clone wailed in anguish and tried to comfort its broken arm with its good one, Loki threw both limbs out of the way and pummeled its torso with inelegant punches, leaving immense bruises blossoming in his wake. Tony heard at least two ribs crack under the punishment. The clone's unbroken arm got in the way again and it, too, was snapped. Its screams were shut up by a second offhand hit to the jaw. Loki filled the air with screams of his own.
"Worthless! Stupid! Agr! Nithing! Nithing! Nithing!"
With his left hand closed tight over the clone's throat, he raised his right hand into the air and summoned one of his trademark daggers. Tony watched in horror as Loki aimed the blade and prepared to strike.
The clone managed to wave its fingers feebly, and Loki disappeared.
Loki–-for the broken and bloody figure on the floor was not a clone, but Loki himself, Tony realized–-lay quiet, his breaths shallow and trembling. The camera on the bug was high-def enough to pick out the tracks of tears down his face amongst the bruising. Tony wished he'd gone with a cheaper model.
Hell, Tony wished Loki would move. He was looking more and more like a corpse by the minute.
"Should we inform the authorities, sir?" said JARVIS.
Tony flinched, startled out of his horrified stupor. "What?"
"He appears unwell. S.H.I.E.L.D. facilities could be most helpful in providing medical assistance."
"And how do we explain the fact that I bugged his hideout without telling them?"
"There are a few Good Samaritan laws that could protect us from any legal persecution."
Tony had given JARVIS a personality, but he didn't remember giving him a conscience. He rubbed a hand over his face, sighed heavily, and looked back to the screen.
Loki still hadn't moved. Tony was considering saying "to hell with it" and calling S.H.I.E.L.D. for medical intervention when Loki stirred again. His lips moved over clenched teeth, saying words too softly for the bug to pick up, and his left arm slid quite independently back into its socket. His ribcage buckled and re-knit itself under the skin. If the stiff flexing of his fingers was any indication, his hands, right arm, and left elbow had done much the same thing.
Slowly, Loki put himself back together and staggered to his feet, gripping the foot of his bed with one hand and leaning heavily on it. He took a deep breath, pushed his hair out of his face, and limped towards the kitchen.
"Sir?" JARVIS prompted.
"Gimme a minute," said Tony, his mind racing. All that footage, hours upon hours of Loki talking to himself, working with himself, fucking himself. Tony had watched it all and laughed. And now this...
Tony clamped his hand over his mouth and willed the bile rising in his throat back down into his stomach.
The bug, still programmed to follow Loki, scurried across the ceiling into the kitchen. Loki came onscreen again, bent over the sink, one hand on either side. The sound of running water didn't quite cover his shuddering sobs.
"Turn it off," said Tony.
"Sir?" said JARVIS.
"The bug, the monitors, everything!" Tony snapped. "Shut the whole program down!"
The workroom went dark. Tony sat there, staring into space for what felt like hours before getting out of his chair and going to his cabinet to pour himself one shot, two shot, three shots...
An indeterminate number of shots later, he was back at his workstation, monitors on, supervising the transfer of every video he'd ever saved to a small, sleek, portable hard drive. With that done, he wiped the originals from his server and sent an email.
I have something of yours. Name time and place. I'm sorry.
Tony woke up with a pounding headache and about five hundred unanswered emails in his inbox, only one of which piqued his interest. It gave him a place (an address that, when Googled, turned out to be a local coffee shop), a time ("Tomorrow afternoon, three o'clock"), and a brief message ("You are far more clever than I gave you credit for, if you can find this email address. Rest assured it will not work again.").
Tony blinked, re-read the email, then looked to the clock in the corner of his screen. "2:14," it told him.
Forty panicked minutes of showering, dressing, and driving later, Tony stepped hesitantly into the coffee shop. It was an off day, or an off hour, and the shop was relatively un-busy. The barista looked downright bored as she wiped the counter and rearranged the cupfuls of straws and stirrers. Like most shops in this neighborhood, its customer base consisted of hip twenty-somethings dressed in skinny jeans and driver's caps. It was one of the few locations where Tony could find people with facial hair more elaborate and meticulously maintained than his own.
He had a difficult time spotting Loki, and spent a few minutes wandering the dimly-lit shop, peering into dark-wood booths and smiling his apologies when he found only aspiring novelists crouched defensively over their MacBooks and androgynous couples bonding over shared knitting projects. The last booth in the farthest corner of the shop contained a tall, slender figure in a black peacoat and green-striped scarf, seated with his chin balanced in his hand staring out the window at the damp, drizzly weather. He looked too serene to be the broken and beaten man Tony remembered from the video feed, but a split-second, piercing green side-eye left little doubt as to his identity. Tony ran a hand through his hair before he walked over.
"So, why here?" said Tony as he slid into the seat across from Loki, who did not so much as glance at him as he approached.
"You Avengers are notoriously loathe to endanger innocent lives," said Loki, sounding almost bored. He removed his hand from his chin but kept his gaze on the window. "The shop is quiet, yet contains enough civilians to make you and your probable backup contingent hesitate before attacking me."
"What if everyone in here is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent?" said Tony.
"Possible, but unlikely," said Loki, leaning back in his seat and tapping his fingers idly against the cup in his hands. "Even so, I doubt they would pose a challenge." He took another sip, finally looking Tony in the eye. "I've heard you wish to return something that belongs to me."
Tony pulled the hard drive from his jacket pocket and slid it across the table until it was centered between him and Loki. An expression of faint surprise flickered across Loki's face before it was suppressed.
"This is mine?" said Loki, tapping the drive with the tip of his index finger.
"It is now," said Tony.
Loki looked down at the drive, then back at Tony, his expression one of flat, faint impatience. Not uncommonly seen when Loki was dealing with those he called mortals. "I was expecting something a little more vintage. Possibly more Egyptian."
"Sorry, no magic wands today," said Tony. "Just a shiny new portable hard drive courtesy of Stark Industries."
"And how is it mine?"
Tony meant to be direct and to-the-point about this, he really did, but when he opened his mouth, he found it more difficult than he'd imagined to look a supervillain in the eye and admit to spying on his most intimate moments. He closed his mouth again, hesitated, and settled on a gentler lead-in.
"You're probably wondering how I was able to predict your movements the last time we fought."
Loki raised an eyebrow, but seemed otherwise unfazed by the change of subject. "I confess to a small curiosity."
"Your magic leaves behind a pretty distinct energy signature," said Tony. "I developed a program to trace it."
"And consumed with guilt at using methods the Odinson would declare dishonorable, you have delivered the program to me," Loki said, sparing another glance at the drive. His voice practically dripped with condescension as he added, "How noble of you."
Tony cringed inwardly. He knew Loki was being sarcastic, but Loki had no idea, not a fucking clue as to the extent of Tony's "dishonorable" behavior. And if Loki did know, Tony didn't think he'd stop at sarcasm. This confession was looking like a worse and worse idea with every passing second.
"There's a little more to it than that," said Tony, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Loki noticed, of course he did, the bastard, and raised both eyebrows. Tony took a deep breath and––
"I bugged your apartment," he said, the words coming out in a barely-comprehensible rush.
Loki blinked. "I beg your pardon."
Tony continued talking at hyper-speed, only able to speak at all by keeping his eyes locked on the table between him and Loki. "Ten days ago, I infiltrated your apartment using a covert listening device with video capabilities. I've been watching everything that happened there ever since. You looked great in that dress, by the way. And I agree with your assessment of the Lord of the Rings movies. But the point is my surveillance let me analyze your spellwork over time and that's why I was able to beat you yesterday. And then..." Tony found his mouth had gone dry and forced himself to swallow. "I saw what happened after that. Yesterday evening. With you and your..."
He finished off the sentence with a vague wave of his hand, still staring at the table rather than his conversation partner, and waited for Loki to respond. For a second, he thought Loki might have disappeared, teleporting away as soon as Tony's confession got awkward, but he could see Loki's hands wrapped around his coffee cup. Or what used to be a coffee cup. Tony's eyes widened as he took in the sight of the soggy cardboard mess clenched in Loki's hands. The remainder of the coffee poured out between his fingers, hot enough to steam. Tony winced and dared a glance up at Loki's face. Loki's wide-eyed stare burned through him, and Tony found himself unable to look away.
"Doesn't that hurt?" Tony blurted, half-heartedly waving his fingers at Loki's coffee. Loki didn't seem to hear him.
"What did you see," Loki said, his voice quiet and perfectly, inhumanly level.
Tony wished Loki had shouted, flipped the table over and stormed out. He didn't want to watch today's carefully put together veneer shatter back into the broken mess of last night.
"What did you see," Loki repeated, louder, crushing the last of the cup in his hands and leaning forward. Tony wanted to tear his gaze away from that face, pale and marred by minute tremors, simultaneously displaying the barely-contained fury of a disappointed parent and the raw shock of a betrayed child.
"Everything," Tony said.
Silence reigned between them. Tony prayed Loki would just hit him already, make it quick. At last, Loki looked away, out the window, and Tony felt like he could breathe again.
"I'm sorry," Tony said when he couldn't take the silence any longer.
"I don't require your pity, mortal," said Loki, his voice cool and controlled once more. He turned back to the table, his face an expressionless mask, and released his coffee, drying his hands on a napkin as though there were nothing strange about the mess.
"It's not pity, it's sympathy," Tony said automatically, then winced once he realized his mouth had gotten ahead of his brain, as usual. Loki didn't seem to notice.
"'Sympathy for the devil,'" he said, maintaining his deadpan tone. "That's what you call it, yes?" Before Tony could reply, he went on. "To be truly sympathetic, you must have some comparable experience in your own history."
Tony couldn't help it; he perked up a little. There was his opening. He could fix this, repair his latest fuck-up in a long line of fuck-ups, if only he could make Loki see––
Loki noticed the change in his demeanor and raised an eyebrow. "Do you consider us to be equals, Stark?"
"More like two guys who have some things in common," said Tony, working to keep a grin of sheer relief off his face. "For example, we could both be described as narcissists with daddy issues. That came out wrong," he added quickly as Loki's jaw clenched. "I mean... my dad wasn't that great, either. Essentially ignored me while he was alive, and couldn't be bothered to tell me that I was anything more than an obnoxious mistake until after he was dead. So I think I can relate to whatever's going on between you and the big cyclops in the sky. Maybe."
Loki spent a long moment studying the remains of his mangled coffee cup.
"How would you like to die, Stark?" he said at last, without looking up.
"Crushed underneath a pile of beautiful, buxom women," said Tony, mentally plotting escape routes for himself and the other customers. "Why d'you ask?"
"Because I thoroughly intend to kill you for this insult," said Loki, leaning in, "and I think it's only fair that you have some say in how it's done."
Shit. So much for easy reparations.
"I'm sorry, okay?" said Tony. "I didn't think about what I was doing, I saw things I shouldn't have––"
"Recorded," Loki hissed.
"––recorded things I shouldn't have, but I've deleted all my copies and I'm offering you your own." Tony tipped his hand, gesturing to the hard drive on the table between them. "It's yours. Keep it, burn it, I don't care."
"And where are S.H.I.E.L.D.'s copies?" said Loki.
"They don't have any," said Tony.
Loki raised an eyebrow at him.
"I'm serious," said Tony. "They don't know a thing about any of this. I never told them I had your place bugged. And God help me, I never will."
"Oh, yes, you are in desperate need of divine help," Loki whispered.
"I just..." Tony sighed and ran a hand over his unshaved face. "The things I saw––"
"Don't need to be spoken of," Loki finished for him.
"If you ever––"
"––need help or anything––"
"–reach out, okay? You don't have to come to me," said Tony, "I know you don't like me. You can find a therapist or something. They're sworn to secrecy. Well, sworn to keep non-disclosure agreements, but same thing."
Loki continued grind his teeth.
"...Right." Tony slid along the bench and got out of the booth. "That's that, then. See you next time you try to take––"
The end of that sentence died in his throat as Loki's burning gaze met his.
"You can't honestly think I'm going to let you leave," said Loki. Tony resisted the impulse to swallow nervously.
"Look, I gave you the files––"
Loki stood smoothly, pocketing the hard drive as he did so. "You think your absolution can be contained in two terrabites?"
"Well, the files don't take up the whole drive, but that's not the point. I was honest! I apologized! That's good, right?"
"And you believe that makes up for what you've done?"
"I'd call it a decent start, yeah."
"I'm afraid I have to disagree."
Loki grinned, an expression Tony had seen before, not only in battle but also on camera. It usually happened before something exploded or got fucked. Fear and arousal warred in Tony's brain. He blamed that for his poor reaction time when, seconds later, Loki blew up the coffee shop.
Pepper's face wasn't a bad thing to wake up to.
Tony could've done without the fuzzy vision, the headache, the beeping of medical equipment, and the mixed expression of concern and anger on her face, but overall, having Pepper be the first thing he saw was pretty good.
"Hiya, Pep," he said, or tried to. It was missing a couple syllables and some air. Geez, his throat was dry. He tried to motion for a glass of water or something stronger with his hands, and found the left one splinted and the right one full of tubes.
"You let S.H.I.E.L.D. put an IV in my right hand?" he said. "I needed that to build a replacement for my left!"
The sentence as a whole was one part slurring and two parts mumbles, but judging by the narrowing of Pepper's eyes, she got the gist of it.
"You..." She stopped, closing her eyes and shaking her head before trying again. "You aren't going to be building anything for at least another six weeks."
"Two weeks," said Tony.
"There's no negotiation, it's a medical fact," said Pepper.
"Tony, you have a broken hand, a concussion..." She trailed off, screwing her eyes shut again.
"And you're mad at me for it?" said Tony. "What, did I miss another board of directors meeting? Because––"
"You nearly died!" she said, and when her eyes opened Tony saw that they were brimming with tears, spilling down her cheeks. "Again!"
Shit. Shit shit shit. Yep, she was crying, he hated it when she cried, hated it even more when it was all his fault and there wasn't anything he could do to fix it.
"Pepper––" he said, but she was having none of it.
"You had giant shards of glass sticking through your ribcage, one of them barely missed your spine––"
"––you went out for coffee with a supervillain, are you out of your mind!?"
"For God's sake, look at yourself!" she shouted. "You're a giant bruise!"
"I've been called worse!" said Tony, and he was proud of himself for speaking so clearly until he realized it was because the drugs were wearing off. He winced involuntarily as the pain of being caught in an exploding coffee shop came back to him, and again at the look on Pepper's face when she noticed.
"Oh, God, Tony––" she started.
"No, no, it's fine, I deserved that," he said.
"Tony," Pepper hiccuped, and her eyes were still red and puffy but at least she wasn't actively sobbing anymore, that was good, "what were you thinking?"
That question would become something of a theme in the coming weeks. Apparently S.H.I.E.L.D. medical considered him to be physically fucked-up enough that they didn't want to aggravate his injuries with unnecessary stress, so he was temporarily excused from debriefings.
This didn't stop the rest of the Avengers from trying to conduct their own. They were only allowed to visit one at a time, which was good, because Tony didn't think he could keep up with the alibi he didn't have if he had to face down an entire tribunal. One-on-one, he could bullshit his way through.
As usual, the good Captain's strategy resembled a stern kindergarten teacher mixed with a militant Bob Ross. He gently berated Tony's complete lack of judgment and offered a shoulder to cry on in the same breath. Tony barely kept from rolling his eyes at him, and felt he deserved a medal or at least a drink for showing so much restraint.
Bruce was better, even if he was only allowed to visit if two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents stayed on guard at the door. Science bros didn't ask uncomfortable questions; they were too busy talkin' science, which suited Tony just fine.
Rhodey gave him a lecture with echoes of Cap, but without any of the Mister Rogers sugarcoating. Tony took the verbal lashing as stoically as he could, which meant he shouted right back at Rhodey and nearly pulled stitches. By the end of it, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were peering in the doorway, hands on holsters, ready for trouble. The only trouble they found was Tony and Rhodey hugging it out and definitely not crying, because that would be weird and completely unmanly. Eventually the agents left them alone.
Thor was predictably awkward. The big guy squeezed into the tiny molded plastic chair and twiddled his thumbs, doing his very best to come up with conversation topics that weren't related to his psychopathic brother. Tony could see the struggle on Thor's face, the scrunched-up nose and bit lip telegraphing every near-slip of his tongue. They ended up talking about the weather, which was completely ridiculous, especially considering that Thor had complete control over the damn thing.
Pepper was, of course, a constant. Her visits consisted mostly of kisses and comforts. He offered her a promotion when she walked in with a Starkphone for him to use; she gently reminded him that she was already CEO and there wasn't much room to go up from there.
Tony didn't know what he was expecting from Natasha, but her visit was the worst. She came in all kind smiles and soft voice, making socially acceptable small-talk. Everything about the situation screamed normality, which was so far from normal for her that Tony found himself in a nervous sweat. He almost wished they were conversing in an interrogation chamber rather than a hospital room. She never asked about Loki, didn't say a damn word about the series of stupid decisions that led him to his hospital bed, but Tony couldn't shake the creeping sensation that she didn't need to ask; she knew.
Barton didn't visit at all. Tony couldn't blame him.
"––arbucks exploded earlier this morning; unconfirmed involvement of the supervillain Loki––"
"––eyewitnesses claim Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, was on the scene, but failed to––"
"––no deaths reported, but over a dozen casualties, with one victim in critical––"
"You can turn those off," said Tony, leaning forward with his elbows on the shiny black conference table and his head in his hands. He was in trouble. Big, big trouble. So big, S.H.I.E.L.D. hadn't let him go home after medical discharged him. No, he got sent directly to a one-on-one debriefing with the head honcho himself. Fury had spent the last fifteen minutes showing him footage from the day of Loki's attack.
"Thank you for giving me your permission, Stark," said Fury as the news stations on the multiple monitors behind him went silent. "It means a lot in light of the fourteen people who saw you and the God of Mischief conspiring in a coffee shop and got blown up for their troubles."
"We weren't conspiring!" said Tony. "We were just having coffee!"
"You were 'just having coffee' with the alien psychopath who tried to take over the world last year," said Fury. "You seriously expect me to buy that?"
"I messed up, okay? I get it." Tony couldn't shake the feeling he'd already had this conversation with someone else. At least he'd never masturbated to Fury. Now there was a mental image he didn't need. "Let me explain."
"Oh, please do," said Fury.
Tony opened his mouth and realized he didn't have a damn thing to say in his defense.
"I'm waiting, Stark."
"It was a trap," Tony blurted.
Fury raised an eyebrow.
"Well, a double-trap," said Tony, his mind racing to catch up with his mouth. "See, JARVIS intercepted a message from Loki to Thor trying to arrange a meeting. Clearly an attempt to separate our favorite God of Poptarts from the rest of the group and take him down, right? So I figured I should step in and make sure Thor never got the message. But I also realized this was a prime opportunity to catch Loki off-guard, so I forged Thor's reply and went to the meet-up myself."
"You went to confront him alone," said Fury. Coming from anyone else, there probably would have been a question mark at the end of that sentence. As it was, Fury somehow managed to sound even more unimpressed than ever before.
"Not my greatest plan, I admit, but it seemed like a good idea at the time."
"And the hard drive?"
"I thought maybe if I had something material to offer Loki, he wouldn't be so pissed off that I'd showed up instead of his brother."
"What did it contain?"
"Absolutely nothing," said Tony. "I'm not a complete idiot. Genius, actually, remember?"
"Debatable," said Fury. He crossed his arms and fixed Tony with a one-eyed glare.
"Anything else you want to know?" said Tony. "'Cause I've got a company to run and some armor to design... painkillers to take..."
"We're done," said Fury, waiting until Tony had gotten out of his seat to add, "for now."
Tony threw him a pair of peace signs as he left the room.
The trip back to the Tower was uneventful. Happy knew better than to say anything more condemning than "Welcome home, sir," and Tony made a mental note to give him a raise.
Tony went straight to his workshop. JARVIS greeted him warmly instead of with a scolding, which was a little surprising, since the AI knew exactly the extent of Tony's fuckups. Tony figured JARVIS knew from experience that he wouldn't listen. That, or Pepper had kindly asked the AI to refrain from talking about the issue for a while.
Tony threw himself into one of his office chairs, spinning a bit from the momentum, and booted up his screens. His email popped up first, just as he'd left it on that fateful afternoon when he'd run off for his less-than-successful coffee date. Right in his face, larger than life, was the message he'd gotten from Loki.
He stared blankly at the screen for a split second, then swept his hand across it, crumpled the email up, and threw it in the virtual trash can.
"JARVIS, pick an in-progress project from the last six months at random and lay it on me. Let's get to work."
It was easier said than done. Armor upgrades, bow designs, potential tests for uru hammers and vibranium shields; he couldn't focus on anything for more than fifteen minutes. He timed it. A new polymer for extremely stretchy stretch pants made the record, clocking in at fourteen minutes and thirty-two seconds of Tony's precious attention span before he scrapped it.
And of course, because JARVIS was using a truly random number generator to select projects, and because it was technically an unfinished project, an empty file labeled "Project Reindeer Games" came up. Tony wiped the screen blank, throwing his whole body into the gesture with maybe a little more violence than was strictly necessary.
Exasperated with his life and choices, Tony wandered over to the minibar and poured himself a tumblerful of something clear and expensive, hoping to dull his mind enough to stop thinking about––
"Sir, there's an intruder in the workshop," said JARVIS, and almost at the same instant a second voice chimed in with,
"Good evening, Stark."
Tony nearly dropped his tumbler. The voice was low, smooth, and completely unmistakable. He swallowed hard and turned to see Loki leaning back casually against the hood of the Jag, arms crossed over his chest, dressed in t-shirt and slacks; the outfit he usually reserved for his apartment, if the videos Tony used to have were any indication.
Thinking of the videos set off an ache in Tony's head and a heat in his groin. He redirected his focus to the situation at hand, which was looking more and more like his own imminent demise.
"Shall I call for the rest of the team, sir?" said JARVIS.
"That won't be necessary," Tony said. This was his mess, it was his responsibility to clean it up. Like the Ten Rings and all his misplaced missiles.
"Mute," said Tony, and JARVIS fell silent. It was just him and Loki now.
"Hi," Tony managed to say, and congratulated himself for it. He put the rest of his brain to work figuring out what Loki could possibly be doing here.
The obvious answer, killing Tony, was labeled "probable" and cast aside. Though, if Loki was wearing his casual clothes, he probably wasn't looking for a fight. Maybe Tony had a chance after all. He might not have his armor, but he was still a genius. (Billionaire, etc.) Then again, Loki without armor was still an alien god. No matter how you looked at it, the power balance was not in Tony's favor. All attempts at analysis ended as Loki pushed off of the car and strode towards Tony.
"I've been seeing someone," Loki said, his gaze never quite meeting Tony's eyes as he spoke. "A therapist, as you suggested."
"Oh?" said Tony. Somehow he doubted Loki had called ahead to make an appointment with the receptionist. He imagined some poor man or woman held captive in their own office while a deranged diety with daddy issues ranted and raved at them.
"She believes it would do me good to interact with someone apart from myself," Loki continued. "Apparently too much time alone isn't good for you."
"So I've heard. Never put much stock in it, though," Tony said, backing up as Loki advanced closer still. The back of his thighs hit the top of one of his work benches and he braced his palms against it, trying and failing to look like it was something he'd meant to do.
Loki stopped, standing less than a yard from Tony, well within his personal bubble.
"Trouble is, there are so very few people left in this miserable world who enjoy my company," Loki said.
"Aw, c'mon, that's not true," said Tony, forcing a smile. "Someone for everyone, right?"
Loki returned the smile with a smirk of his own. "The therapist thought I might do well to seek out new friends online, or perhaps in coffee shops much like the one you and I met in recently."
Tony swallowed hard.
"But then I realized," said Loki, politely ignoring Tony's discomfort, "I do have someone who appreciates me. Enough to watch me for hours on end, at any rate."
His green eyes finally met Tony's, and Tony wished to hell they hadn't.
"Just how long have you spent looking at me, Stark?" said Loki, his voice barely above a whisper. "How many nights alone in the dark with only my unassuming image for company?"
"A few," said Tony. Honesty seemed to have kept him alive so far. Maybe his luck would hold if he kept it up.
"More than that, surely," said Loki. His grin was wicked and self-assured. But there was something in his tone, some barely-audible undercurrent, a slight hesitance that pleaded for confirmation.
Tony nodded. Loki stepped in, and now they were chest-to-chest, with no room for escape.
"Tell me," said Loki.
"Most nights," said Tony, and Loki put his hands on Tony's arms, barely pressing with his fingertips. "Every night. Any spare minute I had went to watching you."
Loki hummed thoughtfully, examining Tony's chest with both eyes and hands, graceful fingers dancing over muscles, circling but never touching the arc reactor. Much like Tony had seen Loki do to himself a hundred times before: first the study, and then... Tony let his eyes drift shut as he leaned into the touch.
"I can't keep my eyes off you," he said, rambling, saying anything to keep Loki going. "You're gorgeous."
Loki's hands drew back abruptly and Tony opened his eyes to find Loki's face inches from his own.
"There's flattery, and then there's pandering," said Loki, his jaw set, tone flat, all attempts at seduction gone from his features.
"You think I'm pandering?" Tony raised his eyebrows in an imitation of Loki's inquiring look. "Have you seen yourself? Kidding, I know you have, from several angles. You know you're sex on legs, you just want to hear me say it. So I will: you're amazing."
Loki remained stone-faced, though Tony noted the bob of his Adam's apple as he swallowed.
"Oh come on," said Tony. "You're what, six foot three? That's statuesque right there. Your cheekbones could cut adamantium––not literally, of course, that shit's indestructible, but what I'm trying to say is damn those things are sharp. Sharp is good. Your cheekbones are good. Long neck, long legs, wait, long's not a very good word, is it? I think the one I'm looking for is 'elegant,' or maybe 'statuesque' again? 'Regal,' let's go with 'regal.' But seriously, those legs, how are you real? Hang on, let me check."
He raised his hands and carefully placed them above Loki's hips. He felt Loki tense underneath his touch, but Loki made no attempt to move away. Emboldened, Tony stood on his toes and placed a chaste kiss on Loki's lips.
There was a tug of pain at the back of his skull as Loki grabbed a fistful of his hair and forced his tongue into his mouth. Tony fought back for a split-second before he relaxed and let Loki set his furious pace. Loki wanted control? Tony could give him control. For now.
He couldn't, however, shut the goddamn hell up.
"Fuck," he panted when Loki pulled away to breathe; even immortal supervillains needed air, apparently. "Oh, God––"
"Do you think you deserve this?" Loki said, his voice a furious whisper as he maintained his grip on Tony's hair. "Do you believe you deserve the attentions of a god after all you've done?"
Every thought in Tony's head was screaming fuck yes, but for once in his life his mouth was smart enough to answer––
"Then tell me, mortal, why am I doing this?"
Because you can't believe anyone would find you attractive enough to seek you out after they've seen you at your worst. Because even when you were strong and honorable and true and good, no one would look at you twice. Because the only person who'll give you a chance is a self-centered asshole who'd just as soon gang up with your big brother to beat you into the ground. Because after everything I've done, everyone I've let down, every trust I've broken, every life my tech has taken, I don't deserve anything better than a monster like you.
"To punish me."
Loki smiled that same dangerous, blow-the-place-to-smithereens smile, though this time he followed it up with another bruising kiss that sucked Tony's breath away.
Tony's hands wandered down from Loki's hips to grab the ass that had remained tragically hidden by that awful cape every time he and Loki clashed in battle. He got in one good squeeze before Loki released his hair and grabbed his wrists. They were pinned against the wall above his head before he had time to blink, and since when had he and Loki been anywhere near a wall?
Oh, teleporting. Right.
Then Loki's thigh was pressing into Tony's groin and Tony stopped caring about where he was or how he got there.
Eventually Loki got bored with Tony's lips and moved on, trailing nips and kisses down along his jawline and back up to his ear, grabbing Tony's jaw in one hand and wrenching it to the side to do so. Tony put up a token resistance, causing Loki to growl into his ear and turn the licking of Tony's earlobe to a bite. Not enough to draw blood, but enough to make Tony's stream of "fuck yes you're fantastic you beautiful bastard fuck me already you goddamn tease" chatter end in a shout.
Loki pulled back, and Tony saw that he was wearing an expression so infuriatingly smug that Tony had no choice but to try to kiss it off his face. Loki dodged the kiss and Tony redirected his lips to the side of Loki's neck, determined to suck a mark onto it, magical healing factor be damned. Tony figured he was coming close to succeeding, given the way Loki's breathing stuttered and speeded up, his pulse fluttering under Tony's tongue.
Tony didn't have long to gloat before Loki got his revenge by grinding his still-clothed groin into Tony's. The roll of his hips left Tony gasping expletives, and the feel of Loki's hand snaking down between them to palm Tony's dick through his work jeans shut down the verbal centers of Tony's brain entirely.
"Okay... that... unfair..." Tony stuttered, and Loki laughed softly into his ear before running his tongue over its edge. His fingers kept tracing the outline of Tony's dick, the teasing not-touch bringing Tony dangerously close to coming in his pants.
Just as Tony thought he was going to lose it, Loki dropped his hands to his sides and took a full step backward, leaving Tony scrambling against he wall for support.
"What the fuck," Tony said when he had enough air to do so.
Loki grinned, cold and calculating, his gaze running up and down Tony's body, taking in his new, disheveled look.
"You know," said Tony, "this would go way faster if you'd undress me with your hands instead of your eyes."
"Patience," Loki said, looking like the living definition of the word as he did so, standing ramrod straight with his feet apart and hands behind his back. He lifted his chin as though he needed to do that in order to look down at Tony, like he wasn't already almost a head taller. Every inch distant and disinterested in the pitiful mortal before him, and Tony might have almost believed it if it weren't for the raging hard-on fighting to get out of Loki's slacks.
"Yeah, right," Tony said with a snort. Loki's eyes narrowed.
"Kneel," he said.
"Make me," said Tony, unable to keep the shit-eating grin off his face. Loki matched it with a smirk that promised terrible things to come, but said nothing.
"Let me guess," said Tony. "You want me to get on my hands and knees and crawl over there like a good little mortal?"
Faster than Tony could react, Loki lunged forward and grabbed him by the collar. Tony was pulled flush against Loki, nose to nose, his toes barely scraping the ground before Loki dropped him and put his hands on his shoulders, shoving Tony down to his knees before he could regain his balance. Tony grunted in pain as his kneecaps hit the workshop floor, gritting his teeth. Nothing was broken, but it was definitely gonna bruise.
"Or that," said Tony at Loki's crotch. "Yeah, this works too."
"I trust you know what's expected of you," said Loki.
"Since when do I do what's expected of me?" said Tony.
Loki tangled his fingers in Tony's hair and gathered a sizable hank of it together in his fist. "Since now."
"What happened to patience?" said Tony.
Loki pulled out a few hairs. Tony winced, then stuck out his tongue, licking the cloth over Loki's cock. Loki rolled his eyes.
"You may use your hands," he said.
"Nah, this is way more fun," said Tony.
Loki's hand twisted in his hair again; if this kept up, he'd have a bald patch by the end of the night. Tony figured it might be a good idea to do the smart thing for once in his life and lifted his hands to undo Loki's slacks. Then he sat back on his heels and marveled for a bit at the complete lack of underwear beneath those slacks.
"Of course the God of Mischief goes commando," he said. "Why wouldn't the God of Mischief go commando?"
"Stark––" Loki began, his tone getting close to angry.
"On it," said Tony, and proved his statement true by taking Loki's cock in his hand and its head in his mouth.
It'd been a couple decades since Tony Stark had sucked dick, but it turned out the experience was a lot like riding a bicycle. He dutifully bobbed his head, working the shaft with his hand while giving Loki a smoldering look through half-lidded eyes. Loki said nothing, didn't so much as flinch. Tony kept at it for a few minutes before Loki pressed the heel of his hand against Tony's forehead and shoved him away.
"Pitiful," said Loki.
"What?" said Tony. "I thought I was doing alright!"
"For a mortal," said Loki. Tony would have retorted but his mouth was kept shut by Loki grabbing him under the jaw and pulling him to his feet with as little effort as it took Tony to lift a briefcase. Pain flared in Tony's knees as they unbent, leaving him distracted. A shove to the center of Tony's chest, right over the arc reactor, and Tony's back hit the wall. Loki stepped forward and grabbed both of Tony's arms, pulling him forward to tuck them behind the small of Tony's back before pinning him against the wall again.
"The hell are you––" Tony started to protest, but the answer became perfectly clear as Loki knelt, one hand still on Tony's stomach to keep him pressed to the wall. "...Oh."
Loki didn't seem to think that deserved a verbal response. Instead, he put his other hand on the side of Tony's hip and leaned in to undo the button of Tony's jeans.
With his mouth.
Tony had gone a little soft while he was sucking Loki off––he wasn't that young anymore, all right, and besides, giving a blowjob wasn't nearly as fun for him as getting one––but the warmth of Loki's breath on his groin and the thought of what such a talented tongue would be doing in a few moments had Tony back to full attention in seconds. He tried bucking his hips, but Loki's hands kept him firmly in place as Loki pulled down the zipper with his teeth. For a split second, Tony had freedom to move as Loki used the hand on Tony's hip to yank his jeans not just down but entirely off, so fast they nearly ripped. But Loki's put his hand back in place almost as soon as Tony realized it was gone, and then Loki was mouthing his cock through his briefs and okay if this kept up they wouldn't even have time to get around to the fucking blowjob.
"Not that I don't... appreciate the show," Tony gasped out, "but if you don't get on with it..."
"Oh?" said Loki, breathing the syllable against damp cotton before pulling back to look up at Tony with probably the world's most superior expression on his face. "If I don't, then what?"
Saying I'll come in my fucking pants felt a little too much like admitting defeat for Tony's taste.
"I'll tell JARVIS to set off the alarms," he said instead.
Tony had expected a chuckle, maybe a cocked eyebrow or a "foolish mortal!" He did not expect Loki's face to fall back into an expressionless mask.
"Whoa, wait, what's wrong?" said Tony as Loki got up from his knees and tucked himself back into his slacks.
"If you're going to be a spoilsport, I see no reason for me to remain here and play along," said Loki. He ran a slender hand through his dark locks, brushing loose hairs back into place.
"I was kidding!" said Tony.
Loki turned his back and began to walk away, apparently deaf to Tony's protest.
"Oh come on," Tony snapped. "What are you, twelve?"
Loki continued to ignore him, having reached the elevator and begun punching in––how the hell had he gotten an access code!? What, was that his plan? Walk out through the fucking front door in front of Thor and everyone and leave Tony behind to answer all the questions with his pants down?
Upon reflection, Tony had to admit it sounded like pretty good revenge. Still couldn't let it happen, though.
"Like JARVIS is even a threat to you," Tony said, just as the elevator beeped and began its descent to the workshop. He had ten seconds until it arrived; better make 'em count. "You snuck in, you could sneak back out before anyone noticed. And wouldn't you want people to notice, anyway? Granted, banging me, not exactly a high-level achievement, but can you imagine the look on Cap's face if he came down here and saw us? It'd blow his tiny Boy Scout mind."
No sooner had Tony finished his last word than the elevator arrived with a cheerful little ding! Tony held his breath, but Loki didn't step into it. Didn't turn around, didn't say a word, but didn't get on the elevator, either. Tony had more time. That was good, very good.
"It was a joke," he said, holding back a sigh of relief. "Setting off the alarms hurts me way more than it hurts you, and you know it. So get over here and fuck me."
Loki turned a quarter of the way around, keeping his back to Tony but looking over his shoulder with a contemplative smile.
"What's the magic word?" Loki said, and fuck him, fuck him, no wonder all of Asgard wanted to punch him in the face so bad, the smug son of a bitch.
But instead, Tony swallowed his pride in favor of the promise made by a silver tongue against his ear and answered:
Loki's smile split into a grin, and he spun on his heel to return to Tony.
"That's all I needed to hear," he said, his voice soothing and sweet, all innocence. Then he stalked up to the wall and ripped off Tony's briefs.
Literally. Tore them down the seams and tossed the pieces to either side. Tony supposed he should be more upset about that, but it wasn't like he couldn't afford replacements. Besides, it was totally worth one ruined pair of briefs to have Loki's insufferable, chatterbox, lying mouth on his cock and oh god, they did not call him Silvertongue for nothing. Tony's last coherent thought was how he could definitely see why Loki considered him an amateur in this particular arena, and then his brain kind of devolved into a fuzzy land of "fuck yes" and "fuck yes" and "You know what would be awesome? If this never, ever, ever stopped happening." He tried to say some of these things out loud, since Loki seemed to appreciate praise, but his mouth produced mostly groans and some seriously intense moaning instead of actual words. Loki seemed okay with that.
In a split-second between tongue-lashings, Tony focused his eyes enough to look down and catch the expression on Loki's face, which looked way more satisfied than anyone with a cock in their mouth had any right to be. Tony tried to change that with a thrust of his hips, but Loki pinned him again before he could so much as twitch. Then he did something with a swirl of his tongue and a swallowing in his throat and Loki's hands on his hipbones became the only thing holding Tony upright.
"F-f-f-fuck," Tony said, half-falling and grabbing Loki's shoulders instinctively. Loki batted his hands away, never once letting up with his mouth. Tony could feel himself losing control, the building of pressure in his groin, and was ready to crack the back of his skull against the wall and let go when Loki stopped moving; no sucking, no licking, no breathing even.
"You motherfucker," Tony said when he realized what was happening. He tried to move his hips again, to get any kind of friction between Loki's mouth and his dick, but Loki held him firm, waiting for him to come down before he let Tony's cock fall out of his mouth. He licked his lips and raised an eyebrow up at Tony.
"You... How can you be smiling at me like that at a time like this?" said Tony. "This isn't funny!"
"I beg to differ," said Loki. He pressed his lips into a thin line that curled up at the edges; the bastard was holding in laughter. Tony groaned in frustration and hit the back of his head against the wall.
"What. The fuck. Do you want," said Tony.
"Supreme rule over the Nine Realms would be nice," said Loki. "For now, your attention will do."
"You have it," said Tony. "For fuck's sake, you've had it this whole cocksucking time, now just..."
Loki raised both eyebrows.
"...please," Tony said, speaking through gritted teeth. "Fuck. Me."
"If you insist," said Loki, his tone light and playful, as though he were agreeing to eat a second slice of cake. He stood up and kissed Tony's lips again, biting the bottom one as he pulled away, but apart from that he made no move to further the fucking agenda.
"How do you want to do this?" said Tony.
"I should have you on all fours like the dog that you are."
Loki didn't look impressed with Tony's rapier wit. But he did grab Tony by the shoulder and flip him around so fast that Tony almost didn't get his palms up in time to prevent his face from hitting brick.
"You could just ask," said Tony over his shoulder.
"Previous experience would indicate that you don't take verbal commands well," said Loki, idly trailing a finger down Tony's spine. The workshop seemed a couple degrees colder all of the sudden, and Tony looked down to see his t-shirt had disappeared.
"Where––" he started to ask.
"It was in the way," said Loki. "Now it's not."
Loki's finger continued its lazy path down Tony's back until it hit his tailbone. Tony was about to make a suggestion about lubricants and their possible location within the workshop when he felt his insides turn suddenly cool and slick.
"Did you just magically lubricate my ass?" said Tony.
"Would you prefer I breach you without preparation?" said Loki.
"Okay, new rule," said Tony. "Next time, you warn me first."
"How presumptuous," said Loki, sounding beyond disinterested. "Not only do you assume there will be a next time, but you think you can set the rules. I believe the word I'm searching for is 'cute'?"
"Fuck you too, buddy," said Tony.
"I doubt you'll get the opportunity," said Loki.
Tony definitely had something to say to that, but the air he took in for his retort ended up being expelled as a wordless grunt of surprise when Loki lined up his cock with Tony's ass and shoved it in.
It had been a while since Tony Stark had been with another man, and Loki's thrust didn't get him as far as he'd probably intended, even with magical lube easing the way. Tony hissed in pain as Loki pulled back and tried again, but didn't tell him to stop. He deserved this. They both did.
A few more thrusts and Tony had loosened up enough for Loki to settle into a rhythm, nearly pulling out his full length and forcing it back in every time. Each movement either dragged Tony down or forced him up against the wall, sometimes to the point where he was left standing on his toes. Tony adjusted his arms so that his forehead could rest on them as Loki pounded him from behind, filling him up and using him more thoroughly than any of his previous partners ever had. Tony pushed back against Loki, loving every second of it. There was just one problem.
"Are you... arthritic or something?" Tony managed to grunt.
"Hardly," said Loki, his hips never stopping as he conversed.
"I'm only asking 'cause... pretty sure most people... with healthy joints... can fuck faster..."
Loki slowed his thrusts down even further, dragging himself in and out of Tony before stopping entirely with just the head of his cock inside. Tony tried to push back, maybe set his own damn speed, but Loki slapped his ass and held him in place, keeping a firm grip over the swiftly-forming bruise. Then he leaned down so his lips were brushing the tip of Tony's ear.
"You know precisely what you need to say to get what you want," said Loki with a swift nip to Tony's cartilage.
"I'm a billionaire, here's my platinum card?" Tony guessed. Loki slapped him again, and sweet fuck, it hurt twice as much the second time, enough to make Tony shout.
"Try again," Loki said.
"I'm an Avenger, I can get you Captain America's autograph?"
Slap number three made Tony's knee buckle, but Loki held him upright easily.
"My patience wears thin, Iron Man," Loki hissed.
After a few gasps to get enough air back in his lungs to answer, Tony said, "Please?"
"Please fuck me faster."
"And to whom are you referring?"
Oh no. They were not playing this game. Not now. Tony turned to look over his shoulder and yeah, why did he bother, Loki's face was doing exactly what Tony had suspected, twisted to keep from laughing at the little mortal man he had pinned down in his own home, begging to be used. A long-fingered hand wound its way through Tony's hair, and Loki cocked an eyebrow. At last, Tony dropped his gaze to the floor and sighed before looking up again and steeling his face into the most sincere expression he could manage, which, not to brag or anything, was pretty fucking sincere.
"Loki, please fuck me faster."
Loki shifted, starting to move again, but Tony wasn't done.
"I want you to fuck me into this wall until I'm smeared across it. I want to be feeling what you do to me tonight for the next month and a half."
Was it Tony's imagination, or did Loki's hand tense slightly in his hair? Tony smothered the grin that threatened to spread on his face.
"I want to be so fucked up by the end of this that anyone who looks at me knows exactly who did it––you, by the way, in case you weren't following––and why." Tony swallowed. "The answer, FYI, is you're a god and I'm not worthy."
"...I get the distinct impression you're mocking me," said Loki.
"Okay, well, sorry about that, 'cause that wasn't what I was going for here," said Tony. "I'm out of practice with the whole 'contrite' thing."
Loki narrowed his eyes.
"I suppose I can make allowances for inexperience," he said, "if you're willing to take instruction."
"Does the instruction come with rulers across the knuckles and paddles on the ass? The whole Catholic-school shebang?"
"Do you see any priests, Stark? I hardly see why you'd need one; you've been speaking to your god directly for the last half-hour. Unless you wish for someone to administer your last rites once I'm finished with you."
"Wait, you actually got that reference?"
"I can Google," Loki replied, and while Tony was pondering the implications of Loki's fetish familiarity, Loki withdrew entirely, flipped him around again so they were face to face, then hoisted Tony up with one hand, threw his knees over Loki's shoulders, and gave him the increase in velocity he'd asked for.
"Whoa!" was all Tony had time to say before he was forced to throw his arms around Loki's shoulders and hang on.
The god effortlessly held him up, one pale palm braced against the cement brick as he bent Tony in half, fucking the snark right out of him, the pace as hard and fast as ever. Tony's upper back and shoulders crushed against the wall with every thrust and there was no way he wouldn't be feeling this tomorrow, or the day after that, or probably a month from now... apparently Loki was taking that portion of his dirty talk very seriously. But the pain was getting harder and harder to feel with Loki so deep inside him, barely panting above him, so completely in control and there was nothing Tony wanted more than to make him lose it.
With that in mind, Tony clenched around him, very deliberately, and got to see Loki's face tense, brow twitching, lips trembling for less than a second before he regained control and set about punishing (rewarding?) Tony by somehow finding a way to fit himself even deeper inside him and yeah, Tony was definitely converting to Norse paganism after this. Pure, animalistic pleasure built up in his groin, all of his muscles tensing, and...
...someone was laughing.
Tony opened his previously-involuntarily-screwed-shut eyes. Yes, it was Loki, who else would it be, coming to a halt balls-deep in Tony and barely holding back guffaws.
"Hey!" said Tony, wiggling his hips as best he could with next-to-no leverage, trying to get Loki back on task. "I'm trying to have literally divine sex here, can the laugh-in wait?"
Loki ignored him, actual tears of mirth coming to his eyes as he brought his hand up to cover his mouth, biting his knuckles.
"What the hell is so funny," said Tony.
"I seem to recall being told..." Loki couldn't keep a straight face. Tony couldn't decide if that was charming or alarming. "How was it put? 'There is no version of this where you come out on top'?"
"Oh," said Tony. "Right. That."
Loki convulsed with laughter, bending almost in half to rest his forehead against the wall over Tony's shoulder. Tony would have complained, but Loki started moving in him again, still chuckling as he restarted his rhythm with rolls of his hips that tickled Tony's insides in a way that temporarily made him forget why he was so angry at Loki in the first place. Soon he was back to being pounded full force by the cock of an angry god, which Tony had no complaints about.
A weight on Tony's shoulder got his attention. He opened his eyes to find Loki's hand coming down off the wall and trailing across Tony's shoulder and chest. It lingered over the arc reactor in a way that made Tony's heart skip a beat from a sick combination of lust and fear, then continued its spidery walk down his abdomen. At last, the hand found its way down to Tony's dick. Long fingers ghosted over the head and shaft, and the pain of Tony's scrapes and bruises seemed to melt away entirely.
Tony tried to thrust up into the touch, but that only made Loki pull his hand up out of reach to grip the inside of his thigh, pulling Tony's legs up and further apart to let Loki get deeper into him. Which, yeah, felt awesome, but wasn't quite what Tony was looking for. He grit his teeth in frustration, re-angled his hips, pushed back against Loki, anything to put off what he knew he had to do. Only when he couldn't take it for another second––he'd be damned if he let Loki bring him to the edge and ruin it again––did he unlock his jaw.
Loki laughed lightly into Tony's ear, hot breath on Tony's cheek and neck. The hand returned to Tony's cock and he moaned with relief as Loki stroked him, taking him firmly and twisting, pulling, borderline-hurting, and all Tony could do was beg for more.
Then Loki lifted his hand off Tony's cock and wrapped it around Tony's throat. Tony probably should have taken that as a warning, but he lifted his chin to let Loki get a better grip. Tony was already panting for breath when Loki started to squeeze.
Tony's vision whited out, the tower's alarms blared, and Loki finally, finally let him come, convulsing in Loki's arms, clenching around him, not sure if he was dying and even less sure if he cared.
When he came back to reality, seconds or minutes later, blissed the fuck out, Loki was still pounding into him. There was an entirely different kind of pounding coming from the elevator door. Tony turned his head to investigate but Loki grabbed his jaw and forced him to look Loki in the eyes as he lost it, completely lost it inside Tony, and was it wrong for Tony to want to put that on his resume? Gave a Norse god one of, if not the best orgasms he's ever had...? It seemed to roll through him in waves, made him a shuddering mess, but still Loki held Tony up, and yeah, that was hot. And then it was over, nothing left but tremors running through both their limbs and Loki softening inside him.
And the aforementioned tower alarms.
Loki, who'd dropped his head to rest on Tony's collarbone, lifted it again, laughing breathlessly, then took Tony's already-bruised lips in another kiss.
"JARVIS!" Tony shouted once Loki pulled away for air. "Turn off the alarms!"
Tony's ears rang in the alarms' absence, but the pounding at the elevator door continued, accompanied by shouts that sounded an awful lot like Cap and possibly Thor. Shit.
Loki didn't seem too worried about it as he let Tony's knees slide down from his shoulders and dropped––gently, but still dropped––Tony onto the ground. Tony landed on his feet and glared up at the ceiling.
"What did I say about alarms, JARVIS," said Tony. "'Cause I remember it being something like 'don't set off the alarms.' And then, suddenly, someone is setting the alarms off, and I'm honestly confused here, because like I said––"
"Sir, your vital signs––" came JARVIS' smooth reply.
"Were completely under control," Tony finished for the AI. He sighed and ran a distracted hand through his hair, like he could calm it down after what it'd just been through. "At least you kept the elevator doors shut."
"That... isn't my doing, sir."
Tony frowned up at the ceiling, then turned to Loki, who was already magically clean and half-dressed.
"That would be me," he admitted with a charming smile as he pulled on his shirt. No, wait, Loki had walked in with a green shirt, Tony knew he had, 'cause it'd complemented his eyes. So where had he gotten a black AC-DC t-shirt from...
"You son of a bitch," said Tony.
"I hardly think that's the thanks I deserve," said Loki.
"Give me back my shirt."
"What the hell do you mean, no?"
"I mean I am keeping your shirt, and you will let the matter drop, or I will let the elevator doors open."
"Oh, come on––"
"You owe me, Stark."
Tony would swear the temperature in the workshop dropped a full ten degrees when those four words left Loki's lips. The look on Loki's face was even colder. The icy silence held for a few seconds, then the corners of Loki's mouth quirked upward, though the half-smile didn't reach his eyes.
"The remains of your jeans are somewhere in this workshop," said Loki. "The enchantment I placed on the elevator doors should hold for... two minutes, perhaps three. I wouldn't depend on it, though. Good luck with your alibi."
With a nod, Loki vanished. In his wake, a pale green appointment card floated down to the floor.
Tony reminded himself to breathe, and forced a shivering hand (not trembling, shivering; the workshop was cold and he was naked except for his socks, of course he was shivering, that was totally normal) forward to pick up the card. The handwriting on the back was tall and thin, in dark green ink, with deep grooves left behind by the pen nib.
Same time next week?
Thanks to my fantastic betas, and to all of you for waiting so very, very patiently for the final chapter.