The thing that S.H.I.E.L.D so often forgets, Loki thinks, is that it operates on the consent of others. If Thor refused to fight with them, there would be little they would be able to do reign in a god. They are only able to operate because powerful individuals lend themselves to S.H.I.E.D’s cause. Without that acquiescence, they cease to be.
And the point of the matter is that Tony Stark never woke up and decided to make a stand for justice. He never wanted to simply make the world a better place (and Loki knows this better than perhaps anyone else, maybe even better than Stark himself.) He’s not Captain America.
Iron Man came into being because an obstacle was in Tony’s way and Tony needed to survive. And that’s simply how Iron Man has continued to survive. There is an obstacle, and Tony takes a stance against it. And for a time, that stance was with S.H.I.E.L.D. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Tony stood for the things that S.H.I.E.L.D wanted him to stand for.
Which is why Loki is perhaps all the more baffled that Fury and all his little cohorts have decided to lock Tony up. They plan to write him off — which is something that has always failed spectacularly in the past. They think they can extinguish Tony and fake something on the public scene just because they have the Iron Man suit. They think they can write Loki into a bigger villain than he is — a cause for concern because it appears as if he was the one that destroyed Iron Man.
But as Tony has always said, he is Iron Man, and Loki has no plans to let go of either any time soon.
In the same matter that S.H.I.E.L.D forgets what it is they control, they forget what he is. They forget that he is a god too. They forget about all the ranges of powers he has that they have never experienced firsthand.
And he lets his magic crawl into their prison before he ever steps foot there. It races through the walls, embeds itself in the ground. It traces a path to Tony that is all too easy to follow; he can feel the hum of the reactor in Tony’s chest. He can feel the worry that quietly seeps underneath Tony’s skin, an emotion that is usually so foreign to the man.
Loki walks down the halls as if he owns the entire building — the entire planet. He makes it past the outer doors, past places where he needs security clearance. He brushes by the guards that have been set up, until he comes to the room that Tony has been confined to. He wonders what part of Fury thought that this would work.
When he lets himself take up space and air once again, he is standing in front of Tony. And despite everything, even Tony looks up in surprise. It brings a smile tugging at the corners of Loki’s mouth, the motion sharp. He lets one of his hands slide across Tony’s cheek. There is more grey in his hair than Loki remembers, and the stubble upon his face has gone from charmingly carefree to messy.
His eyes dart momentarily to the side, and then he pushes himself off the bench and closes the distance between the two of them. Their chests bump together, because Loki refuses to take a step back. He considers tangling their legs together. He considers pushing Tony back down on the bench. He could take him here, he thinks. He knows that there must be someone watching, some kind of camera recording every image. And Loki is in mood to hide himself. He thinks he might give them tangible proof of Tony’s supposed treachery.
“Time to go?” Tony drawls, and he sounds more like himself. He can see the color flushing Tony’s face again, and it makes Loki feel all the more predatory.
Before he can even answer, Tony leans in and claims his mouth. There’s too much teeth in the kiss, but that’s exactly what it should be. They match each other, Loki parting his lips for Tony’s tongue, before almost instantly biting at the end of it. He tastes blood and that makes it all the better. He lets his hands roam over Tony’s shoulders, the tips of his fingers deftly tracing the metal of Tony’s reactor through the thin fabric of his shirt.
He doesn’t know how anyone found out about them, and neither does he care. He’s always understood that Tony is his, that he fits more readily by his side than Thor’s.
“Time to go,” Loki confirms, looking down at Tony’s mouth as he answers. He starts to pull back, figuring that Tony will follow.
“My suit,” Tony says, hesitating for the first time.
Loki smiles again.
“You never do listen to Thor, do you,” he says simply. “Technology and magic are the same in Asgard. And I’m a master of magic.” He holds his hand out to Tony, his long fingers hanging in the air, preparing to cast a spell. Tony nods, as if reassuring himself, and steps after him.
It’s easy enough to get them back out of the facility. He cloaks them with the same spell he walked in under, and within seconds, they’re outside. But before they reach the gates, they’re stopped. Loki is not surprised. A part of Loki suspects that this was always part of the plan.
Thor and Captain America stand between them and freedom. Loki can see the concern written against Thor’s brow. It’s clear that Fury has sent them to try and talk Tony into doing the honorable thing. As if there’s anything honorable with accepting an ill-deserved punishment. Loki has long since written off such things. And so he is the one that sends off the first barrage of attacks, trying to keep Tony away from anything that could end in an “accidental” death.
Even as he sends his magic careening through the air, causing Thor and Captain America to dodge to the side, he can feel Tony’s suit moving up to meet them. He can manipulate it so much better when Tony isn’t fighting him for control inside of it. It moves effortlessly through the walls, practically threatening to bring the entire building toppling down. It’s intoxicating to feel his magic blending so flawlessly with Tony’s creation.
He is distracted by it — that’s the simple truth of it, and he doesn’t move quickly enough when Thor throw Mjolnir at him. He takes the hammer hard against his shoulder. He can hear something crack and is sent spinning around until he collides with the ground. A laugh wells up inside of him despite the pain, because he doesn’t think Thor has ever struck a blow so true — not against him. He’s danced around all their fights before, and finally, finally, Loki has figured what he must do to make his brother fight him.
“Loki—” Tony’s voice is sharp somewhere above him.
There’s an explosion to the right of them (at least, what Loki perceives to be his right.) A flash of red and gold, and then the suit has landed beside them. And now, it is indeed time to go. He can hear his voice tell Tony that, even as he’s trying to get to his feet again. He’s remembered how to breathe, and with every breath, another spell unwinds itself in his mind, allowing him to picture an easy exit.
“No,” Tony says in his stubborn voice that has always brooked no argument.
Even Loki is a little surprised by the sudden turn of events. He watches as Tony climbs into the suit; he can feel his magic fade from the circuitry as Tony takes command, his conscious flooding the computer’s system.
And this, he supposes, is exactly why it always had to be Tony. He loves the way that Tony can still surprise him — he is a true maker of mischief, an agent of chaos who has so beautifully masqueraded as a hero. That pretense is one that not even Loki has been able to pull off successfully.
He stays where he is, and watches as Iron Man rockets off the ground, flitting through the air until he collides with Thor. His brother is too slow to move, and Iron Man easily tosses him through one of the perimeter walls, and it crumbles to the ground.
Even Captain America is surprised. He’s off a beat when Iron Man turns and attacks him as well. The sound of Iron Man’s first colliding with Captain America’s cheek is audible and Loki already longs to see the bruise that will form from such a hit. The Captain loses his footing and that’s all Tony really needs. Iron Man presses forward, continuing to deliver blow after blow.
Loki can hear the sound of more soldiers, more agents arriving somewhere behind them, but it’s all rather irrelevant. It’s enough to cast a spell that renders the guns useless — he doesn’t even need to blink while doing it, which is quite good, because he doesn’t dare tear himself away from the sight of Iron Man beating Captain America senseless.
Iron Man retreats only when Captain America remains on the ground. He flings himself into the air again, and catches Loki around the middle in a way that makes his shoulder throb. But then they are gone, up into the air, and leaving the base further and further behind. Loki wraps his fingers around Iron Man’s arms, and lets his magic plan a destination into the suit’s trajectory. He makes sure they won’t be followed.
The American government does everything they can to decry Iron Man. They paint him as a traitor in every way that they can. They tell people not to trust Tony Stark. They tell them to hate him. They say it would be dangerous to do business with him.
And yet, they forget. They forget that the brilliance of Iron Man lies in the fact that people know who he is. They are slow to distrust Tony — especially when Tony holds a press conference. He smiles, and he teases, and he reminds everyone of the past troubles he’s had with the government, and he persuades them that this is nothing. He says that the Avengers have wronged him, but he, Iron Man, won’t wrong the world.
Tony and Loki watch from where they are curled up in bed together. Tony curls his tongue languidly along Loki’s as he spouts lies on the television, which are eagerly swallowed by the awaiting public.
“You were always a favored son,” Loki whispers into Tony’s mouth — and it’s true, because Tony already owns so much of the world, that it seems a shame not to claim the rest of it. He has the money and the charisma and the technology; he’s always been a great leader. Born a prince in an entirely different sense of the world.
The two of them, Loki thinks, will set the world alight.