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Two Sides of the Coin

Chapter Text

Tony Stark was a man of many weaknesses. He had his strengths too of course, everyone does, but no one would deny his weaknesses.

And he certainly had a weakness for beautiful people, especially when put together with a bed, or really any other surface. That being said, he was still unsure how "Loki" and "bed" had ended up together. The man trying to destroy the world wasn't his usual bedmate, no matter what people like the self-righteous Steve Rogers might think about his extracurricular activities (Though Tony continued to do his damndest not to think about Steve and his bed. That blond head was not his and he needed to stop it).

Though, come to think of it, Tony was more than willing to blame that blond for this whole mess. Perhaps if he wasn't so distracted by thoughts of Rogers, his childhood dream walking around in front of him and thrumming with repressed desire, he wouldn't have fallen for the trickster's god's manipulations.

Yes. He really wanted to blame Rogers for all of this. Unable to have him, Tony got into bed with the wrong person.

Well.

That wasn't a first.

Bedding a megalomaniacal god bent on destroying at least some worlds was.

o-o-o-o

Loki Laufeyson strolled up the steps of the townhouse where the latest soiree was being held. The God of Mischief was bored, but not quite so bored as to attempt another attack against a major city. He was still stinging with the failure of his last attempt and had no desire for an immediate encore. He brushed an absent hand over the lapel of his black suit coat, the dark green tie he wore highlighting his eyes as he offered the doorman the invitation he'd called to himself.

Stepping into the building, the slender being looked around and handed his coat, scarf and walking stick to an attendant. He swept through the foyer, every inch the royal prince of Asgard he had been in his former life. He hardly acknowledged the doormen at the entrance to the main room, green eyes scoping around the area, categorizing the people lit brilliantly by the lights and the mirrors that circled the space. Everything seemed ablaze with light, the women's jewels capturing it and fracturing it, the windows offering a dark contrast which the Jötunn turned Asgardian could appreciate.

Loki strolled along the edges of the crowd, listening to conversations and smirking at the tell-tale signs of lies. As God of Lies he was well versed in finding truth. The woman who doted on her husband to his left had been with three separate lovers that week, he would stake his life on it. While the man ahead of him in the navy suit—barely acceptable for such a night out as this—who wore diamond cuff-links had just lost well over half of his fortune to a bad business decision. That wouldn't stop him from buying drinks and trinkets for whoever he was trying to impress though, of that the dark-haired world-less one had no doubt. The question was whether or not to find a way to out these people tonight, or simply drop hints with the press later.

Of course, no such party would be complete without Tony Stark. He breezed past the doorman, barely flicking his invitation out. The gold embosses paper had said "plus one" but he was alone that night. Frankly, since hooking up with the Avengers, and since Pepper decided it was, in fact, quite weird to be romantic together, he'd had less of an inclination to bring along vapid women more interested in the jewels and alcohol than him.

Besides, he was trying to be responsible, not a rumor mill. Pepper would have been so proud.

Which wasn't to say he was entirely responsible. He pulled his sunglasses down slightly as he looked around the room, not caring that it was in fact already dark outside. Besides the glasses, he was dressed in a dark suit with an equally dark shirt underneath it, a red and gold tie standing out.

The traitor of Asgard looked toward the door, idly, as a murmur went up in the corner nearest him. One eyebrow arched sharply, he should have known that Stark would show up and planned accordingly. As it stood now, he could hardly magic himself away without notice of those around him. He was here to cause chaos, true, but there was no fun in it if he could not bear witness to it. And who knew, Anthony Stark might be the best way to cause said chaos. Deliberating for a long moment, the man finally made a decision and wove his way slowly, but purposefully, toward Stark. He would pause every so often when a particularly blatant lie caught his attention, smirking as the thread of the truth behind it became clear to him.

Tony tried not to wince when he heard several snide comments about how odd it was to see him without a drink in hand, but he only smiled charmingly and moved his way across the room. He glanced up, seeing a tall man coming through the crowd, frowning behind his glasses. There was something about the man that his brain informed him he should really recognize, and probably flee from but he wasn't placing it.

Loki's green eyes moved from the latest young debutant who was lying about some inconsequential thing or other to his target and he couldn't help but smirk slightly. He reached the shorter man's side and offered him a slight bow, "Mr. Stark. So good to see you here tonight."

"I'm sure it's excellent to see you as well," Tony replied, expression smooth.

A smile curled the god's lips, "You have absolutely no idea who I am do you?"

"Not quite," Tony agreed. "Though I'm sure I've seen you before."

"Well, a rare case of honesty in this room. I am rather surprised that it comes from you, though I suppose I should not be." Loki smiled again, an expression that was never long gone though rarely touched his eyes, "Usually when you see me I'm not in a suit."

"Yes, well, I'm sure," Tony started babbling and froze quite suddenly, having finally looked at the other man's face for a long moment, the features clicking in his head.

Right. Well, he'd not been expecting a chaos god at his soiree. Now he just had to figure out what he could do to get everyone out, and possibly an alert to the other Avengers.

Loki's grin turned a tad more feral, at the underpinnings he thought he saw in Stark's recognition, "No need to fear. I give you my word that tonight is all about alleviating boredom, not some great plan of death and destruction."

Tony laughed, the sound strangled. "Of course that's what you would say in a situation like this, isn't it?"

"I gave you my word, Stark, what more do you want?" Loki asked, the grin fading to a placid smile, but something cold flickering into his eyes.

"Collateral assurance would be nice," Tony said, rolling his shoulders. "Because last time I checked, your word doesn't mean all that much. It comes with the whole trickster god title and all."

"I have never broken my word," the taller man replied. "Nor allowed others to break theirs."

"Or you're just saying that," Tony said, snagging a drink from a passing tray, more to give his hands anything to do then to get drunk with a god bent on destroying the world, last time he checked, standing right there.

Loki picked up a martini from another tray, knowing how little Midgardian drinks affected him, "Well, if you doubt me-" he broke off before he finished that thought, thinking of how the results could easily turn against him. He might not break his word, but others had perceived it as such in the past.

"If I doubt you?" Tony asked, chin tilting slightly to the side, his body otherwise tightly controlled.

The trickster shook his head, "Never mind. Obviously you will not be satisfied unless I do nothing all night, which really rather defeats the purpose of even coming out."

"Maybe you should flex your muscles in not doing something devious," Tony shrugged, taking a sip of the champagne and thinking even that was a mistake. "Why'd you come out then, if not to do harm?"

Loki sipped at his drink, considering the taste of it and deciding it wasn't the worst he'd had since falling, "One does not have to do harm to see chaos."

"So what, you're going to expose society to its darker self?" Tony huffed.

"Perhaps, I have not yet decided," came the quiet response, accompanied by a smirk.

Tony blinked once behind his glasses, trying not to think that exposing society to itself actually sounded more fun than these parties usually were. "So what are your schemes then?"

"I'm not scheming tonight, Stark. I am simply bored."

"Trickster gods get bored?" Tony laughed.

"Trickster gods live in a state of boredom, as there is nothing truly diverting in any of the nine realms that won't get me killed or maimed," Loki rolled his eyes, sipping at his drink still a phantom pain ghosting through his lips.

Tony Stark absolutely refused to agree with him. Leaning back on one heel, his crossed his arms over his chest and dangled the mostly full glass from one hand, looking the other up and down. "Nothing?"

The taller man smirked, "Well, there are some diversions that could work, I suppose. But for a lasting diversion? It is the small things that keep boredom in check. Like coming to parties like this and seeing just how many lives could be ruined by one grain of truth."

"Oh, quite a few. I would know," Tony said, thinking he really should have called Thor by now to deal with his brother.

"Did you know," the Asgardian began conversationally, "that the woman over there in the low-backed crimson dress is wearing the jewelry gifted to her by three different men present here tonight, none of whom are the husband she is currently coiled around? He believes that she purchased all of the pieces. The dress was his gift, and the shoes her own investment," he added off-handedly.

Tony glanced over, recognizing the woman. "You know, I'm fairly certain I slept with her before."

"Funny, I don't doubt that at all," Loki murmured, his gaze sweeping around. "Oh, and there's the man who cost his best friend everything in a bad investment deal. But you wouldn't know it to look at either of them, both look more than happy to spend money, though both owe more than they will make for the next four years."

"So you, what, come to parties and see everyone's petty secrets?" Tony arched a brow behind his glasses.

"Something like that. There haven't been any really interesting ones this time or I would see about dropping a word in the wrong ear about them. As it stands now, the most I could probably do is wait for the woman's husband to get drunk and convince him to break her latest lover's nose. Hardly worth the effort, honestly," Loki sighed and considered his glass for a moment.

Tony blinked behind his glasses, trying not to chuckle. "Well, if things aren't worth the effort whatever are you going to do?"

"I have yet to decide," the god sighed again, but a smirk graced his features. "Don't you think it a bit dark for those glasses?"

Tony shrugged. "I have to make some kind of outrageous fashion statement or it isn't much of a party."

"I would say that tie does admirably on its own."

"Do you like it?" Tony smirked, thinking he really should have called someone ages ago. But the god really didn't seem to be moving toward havoc or destruction at all.

"Did you know one of my titles was the god of fire?" Loki asked, considering the colors again.

Making a face, Tony let his eyes drift down to the tie. "Damn. You're right, it was. Well, I'm certainly not wearing it in honor of you."

"And here I was all ready to be flattered," the taller man drawled.

"Well, now that you've ruined my tie for me, I'm going to have to find someone obliging to take it off. How do you think that makes me feel about my night?" Tony returned, the sound easier than it should be.

"Oh, I'm sure you can find someone willing to do so." Loki waved a dismissive hand, "Perhaps you could be that lady's latest lover; that would certainly spice up the evening if it was your nose getting broken."

"Please," Tony huffed. "I am not nearly so stupid as to take an obvious lover, nor one likely to get my nose broken."

"Well, in that case, who would you have remove it for you?" A smirk coiled around Loki's lips, his eyes watching Stark intently.

Tony rolled his shoulders, waving his glass. "The night is young. I'm sure I'll find someone in the corners of this place."

"I've had the chance to peruse most of the guests here and I will tell you now that most of them are incredibly dull."

"Well, there goes my night," the shorter man said, rolling his shoulders again and smirking. "Who would you suggest as interesting then?"

"Oh I already made my suggestion, but that was more my amusement and interest than yours I suppose," the chaos god responded, his green gaze sweeping around the room again.

"That doesn't count," Tony shook his head. "Since that was simply an invitation to get my nose broken. Besides, she's not actually interesting beyond a spot of violence."

"I told you, I am bored and it would do me good to see something change in this evening," Loki came dreadfully close to complaining.

"Should I call in your brother?" Tony offered.

Loki's eyes narrowed for the briefest of moments before he cleared his expression and offered a lazy smile, "I can think of something far more delightful than a fight with Thor, which will no doubt result in little more than property damage that you will have to pay for and Fury will have to explain away."

Arching a brow, Tony smirked at him, aware he'd hit a button. "And what could that possibly be?"

"Well," oh if Odin could see him now...A smirk curled the corner of Loki's lip at the thought, "I need a diversion and you need to be divested of that tie, yes?"

Tony blinked once, tilting his chin down to look at the god over the top of his glasses. "I'm not usually propositioned by gods you know." People were already staring at them though, considering how long some stranger had caught Tony Stark's attention.

"I should certainly hope not. If you were I would hardly consider you novel," his green gaze moved away from Stark and met the eyes of a couple of the party goers boredly.

"Why, you flatter me," Tony said, running through his head everything that was a very bad idea. "Calling me novel."

"Do I?" Loki's brow arched slightly, "In the end I suppose it could be seen that way. Novelty is rather like beauty, fleeting and in the eye of the beholder."

That got a dark chuckle out of the smaller man. "So let me guess. My novelty has a time limit and probably has to do with how badly we kicked your ass recently?"

The trickster's smile thinned slightly, "Potentially. But novelty only lasts so long after all. Your decision if you wish to see whether I truly consider you novel or not, I suppose." Loki shrugged, placing his empty glass on a passing tray and briefly considering a second but determining he didn't care for the taste enough. He should have had champagne.

Tony glanced down at his full drink and shrugged. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well, the first order of business would be leaving here, unless you have some pressing reason to stay," his tone indicated that he highly doubted that, "and the second determining where we go."

"You've already seen my penthouse," Tony said, dropping his full glass on a passing tray. "And I'm not even sure I want to see your accommodations."

"I have taste enough, but I do not allow others into those quarters. So your penthouse may be best indeed."

"The question would have been if I wanted to see your taste," Tony said, tapping a finger on Loki's chest, thinking he was possibly out of his mind, and turning gracefully.

The taller man looked momentarily affronted, brushing a hand over where Stark had touched him and falling into step with the other, "Well, as I apparently have to tolerate yours for the night I can hardly see that as a bad thing. What, do you think I decorate with skulls and blood? I am God of Mischief, not of Death."

Tony didn't even question the use of the word tolerate, since whatever this was had been Loki's idea. "I'd expect more booby traps."

Loki rolled his eyes, "I do rather hope you're not planning to take the long way back."

"The long way back?" Tony asked, arching a brow and glancing at him once the cool night air hit his face.

Shaking his head, the trickster caught Tony by the elbow, murmured a few words under his breath and allowed the magic to coil around them. When the green-black smoke and chill cleared they were standing in the center of Stark's penthouse.

Tony stumbled back, looking around quickly. "Alright. That's disturbing."

Loki arched an eyebrow at that, "It is merely magic, and far more efficient than sitting in any traffic that this city provides."

"You have a way into my house," Tony said, taking his sunglasses off and dropping them on the counter.

"I have a way anywhere. It is simply easier when I have seen the place before. If I have not it requires a spell to show me where I am going as well," the god explained with a shrug as he strolled over to the large windows and looked out over the city.

Tony thought he should have gone with the woman with three lovers and get his nose broken. "So. You have a magical way into my house. Why have you not ravished me before?"

"I do not desire a partner who is not willing," Loki answered, not turning from the window even as his gaze darkened.

Tony huffed out a laugh, trying to push down how much it bothered him that someone had a way into his house whether he wanted them or not. He had extensive security measures for a reason and his chest ached. "So, my question is, can you read people's minds, or only see their lies?"

"It depends on the person," came the response. "Mostly, I can only see the truth behind the lie. As the master of lies, that is part of my gift. To some extent that means I can read a person's mind, but it does not grant me access to anything not lied about."

"I'll just have to be sure not to lie to you," Tony smirked, chest still hurting in remembered pain.

Loki smirked in response as he turned from the window, "A lie is not only what is spoken, Anthony. Sometimes it is what is left unsaid."

Tony felt a rush of fear but shrugged. "Oh?"

"Sometimes. Not always, but there are some lies that are told in the way a man carries himself rather than what he says," the god waved a hand dismissively. "It hardly matters. I do not seek them out unless I am in that mood."

"So what are you in the mood for?"

"Oh for the love of all things you consider holy," Loki murmured under his breath, "have we not already danced this dance at the party?"

Tony smirked, shrugging and holding his hands out. "I figured out I'm a novelty."

The taller man rolled his eyes again and caught one of Stark's hands, pulling the other toward him abruptly.

For a second Tony tensed, before melting into the touch, knowing exactly what to do in a situation like this. Molding their bodies together, he glanced up. "I think you have a tie to remove."

A wave of his hand and the tie came untied. Loki took one end of it between his long fingers and slid in slowly off of Stark's shoulders, setting to work on the top buttons of his shirt as he leaned down and captured the smaller man's lips in a demanding kiss.

About to protest that magicking his tie was cheating, Tony pressed up into the kiss instead, letting his arms rest on Loki's shoulders, one hand tugging at his hair.

Loki smirked into the kiss, taking Stark's lower lip between his teeth and biting down, not enough to draw blood, but close. One arm wrapped around the smaller man's waist to hold him there, strong but conscious of the strength, as he used his free hand to undo the rest of the buttons of the other's dress shirt.

"You don't waste time do you?" Tony laughed, hand not buried in Loki's hair finally coming back around, undoing his tie the proper way.

"Would you prefer I give you time to think through who you're planning to sleep with?" came the response, mirth hidden in the trickster's words along with a hint of some other unidentifiable emotion.

The smaller man blinked. "Think that would make me change my mind?"

"One can never tell with mortals, you are fickle creatures." Let his words be what was heard, and not the fact that of course it would. Who in their right mind wouldn't back out when they remembered and thought honestly about who they would be bedding?

Muttering something about votes of confidence, Tony pulled the taller god back into a kiss, missing the underlying words entirely. This time he was the one to bit at Loki's mouth.

That action earned a dark chuckle from the god of mischief as he pulled Stark closer. He ran a hand under the fabric of the other's now open dress shirt, sliding the fabric off first one shoulder and then the other.

Tony tried not to stiffen, realizing there was only his undershirt now between the arc reactor and the goddamn god of mischief, grinning easily instead and working Loki's jacket and shirt off quickly, efficiently.

The god of lies felt the motion, drawing back slightly to glance down between them where the soft glow of the arc reactor shone through the white undershirt and reflected on his too pale skin. He didn't say a word, leaning in to kiss the smaller man again, "We should probably find a bed."

"I have one of those," Tony agreed.

"Good. The floor does not seem especially comfortable. I have no desire to execute a blind transportation, though, so I believe this is your lead."

"I'll have you know I have the best flooring in Manhattan," Tony declared. "Some rugs just for these sorts of occasions, not that I've ever actually used them but," he babbled as he stepped back, using the front of Loki's undershirt to pull him along.

"Anthony, do shut up," Loki said as they reached the bedroom. He pulled the other close and kissed him once more, backing up to the bed.

"Anthony," Tony huffed in annoyance but allowed the kiss to shut him up anyway, crawling back on the bed once his knees hit it and dragging the god with him.

Loki stiffened slightly at that, but allowed himself to be pulled onto the bed. His hand trailed down Stark's stomach, deftly unclasping the smaller man's belt.

Wiggling, Tony grinned, pulling the last shirt up over Loki's head, smoothing out his hair. "You have really nice hair, you know?"

The god smirked, "I do try to keep it in decent condition." He drew his hand away from the other's waistband, settling it instead on the hem of the other's undershirt, not moving the cloth yet, his green eyes sharp and attentive to the slightest change in the scientist.

Tony blinked. He'd had practice with this sort of thing after all. "Are you waiting for something?"

One of Loki's brows arched, but he didn't answer, simply sliding the shirt up, pulling it over Stark's head and leaving the black hair tousled, "Not a thing."

"Good," Tony said, for a moment one hand coming to cover the reactor before he slipped it back into Loki's hair, pulling him into another hard kiss.

The motion toward the reactor had been expected and the god of lies pressed down into the kiss, turning it demanding as he finally gave up on trying to deal with their slacks without seeing and simply utilized tendrils of magic to remove them.

Tony half laughed and half growled into the kiss, "That's unfair," he panted when he drew back for breath but grinned anyway.

Loki smirked in response, "How is that unfair when we both are in equal states of undress?"

"Magicking away clothes is cheating," Tony returned, nipping at Loki's ear.

"But ever so much simpler," the sorcerer replied, leaning down to nip at the smaller man's throat.

"Well, sure, but you haven't convinced me it's superior in any way yet."

"Did I intend to?"

"Maybe?" Tony tilted his head to the side on the pillow. "Not entirely sure I know what your intentions are."

"Well," he leaned down, biting the other's collarbone, "at the moment they cycle around the idea of ravishing you tonight."

Shifting, Tony just grinned. It'd been a while since he'd found a partner to actually banter with. "I signed up for that I suppose."

"You very much did, there is no supposing about it," Loki murmured against the bite mark. Someone to trade barbs with and actually present a decent wit was someone the trickster had not had the pleasure of bedding before. Asgard was filled with warriors and most of Midgard seemed filled with idiots, but Anthony Stark presented a different mental acuity altogether.

"Alright, I signed up for it," Tony smirked, sprawling back over the bed in invitation.

The lie-smith smirked down at him before pressing a harsh kiss to the smaller man's lips. A hand trailed down Stark's throat and slipped to the side to give the arc reactor a wide berth as Loki traced it down to the other's hip, the grip tightening almost possessively there.

For a moment Tony didn't react, unsure what surprised him the most before pulling at Loki's shoulders.

Loki slid their bodies together, ever half-aware of how fragile a Midgardian's form was. He was a trickster by nature, but even then he could only tease and tantalize for so long before desire took him as well.

Chapter Text

Tony had just enough time to fall asleep before suddenly JARVIS woke him back up. "Sir, Happy is calling at the car and he's not pleased."

"Happy's not happy?" Tony asked, blinking sleep from his eyes and registering the fact that someone else was still in his bed. Oh yeah, the god of chaos was still in his bed. He tried not to quietly panic.

"No sir," JARVIS deadpanned. "Shall I put his call on?"

Loki's brow rose from where he had been stretched out on the other side of the bed. The voice was not something he'd been expecting, "Well, this will be interesting."

"I'm not sure I want to be your entertainment," Tony huffed, rising from the bed and wrapping himself in a blanket to walk over to the window, which lit up as he approached. "Alright, put Happy on."

A brief moment and his driver's voice came on, "Sir?"

"I hear you aren't happy with me," Tony replied, using his free hand to try and smooth down his hair.

"Well, you usually let me know if I don't have to drive you home."

Loki choked back a laugh at that.

"Sorry," Tony said, glancing back at Loki and frowning. "My bedmate sortta kidnapped me away." The god of chaos looked not in the least apologetic.

Happy sighed, "Alright. Will you be needing the car tonight again?"

"Not tonight. Sorry for taking off without warning you," he said, still frowning at Loki. "Next time I'll make sure to let you know, okay?"

"Alright, sir. I'll be by in the morning then." Happy hung up, giving Loki the opportunity to actually laugh.

"You made my driver worry!" Tony protested, crawling back into bed.

"No," Loki shook his head, stretching a bit, "You made your driver worry."

Tony's eyes traced the stretch, trailing a hand along the other's side. "You're the one with the fancy transport."

The slender god hummed slightly at that touch, "So obviously I should be apologizing to a man who you probably don't want to admit me to."

"Sounds right," Tony nodded.

"Worrying your driver is hardly the worst thing I've done, or that I will do," Loki murmured, pulling the smaller man close enough that he could nip the other's neck, moving up to his jaw line.

Making a soft sound, Tony tilted his head back. "Point. Destroying the world, that's your worst bit. Pissing off one guy? No biggie right?"

"Exactly. You're not really going to insist on me apologizing are you?" He murmured before latching onto the other's jaw for a moment.

"I could be convinced not to," he agreed.

Loki drew back, his long slender fingers trailing down Stark's side, "Well, I'm known to be rather persuasive."

"I think calling you the what, wordsmith? Covers that," Tony agreed, humming and pressing against the other man's side. He caught one of Loki's hands, bringing it up to kiss the fingertips.

"Liesmith," the god corrected absently, his green eyes half-lidded.

"I've heard both," Tony shrugged, more focused on the line of the other's body and especially the hand he was covering in kisses. Loki smirked a bit at that, his fingers curling slightly away from the attention. He leaned in, his free hand tracing the contours of the smaller man's body, skirting around the arc reactor and giving it a decent berth.

"Are we at round two already?" Tony asked, tilting his head.

"Are we?" The trickster responded.

"I asked first," Tony returned, sticking his tongue out.

"So mature," came the reply. "It depends on if you are ready or not I suppose." His fingers traced over the other man's thigh as he spoke, patterns vaguely resembling runes tracing under his touch.

Tony rolled his eyes. "Let me guess, gods have a fantastic recovery rate." He frowned slightly, glancing down at where he could feel the patterns.

"We can, yes," Loki smirked, "though it changes from one to the next."

"Yours seems fine," Tony mumbled, nuzzling at Loki's chin.

The taller man tilted his head back at that, his smile relaxed, "Well, there's a certain level of stamina afforded and practiced by magicians."

"Freaking magic," Tony muttered, more focused on kisses and touches rather than what they were talking about.

"Don't complain about the magic," Loki murmured, leaning in to place a biting kiss on Stark's mouth.

Spine tensing, Tony returned the kiss just as hard, filing that information and reaction away.

The god of mischief didn't register how much he may have revealed with the sentence, mentally set on distraction and diversion. One of his hands moved to slip behind Stark's head, his fingers tangling in the other's hair as he pressed into the kiss.

o.o.o.o

The next morning, Tony blinked himself awake, looking around his bedroom. It only took him a moment to remember why half the bed was rucked up and he considered the empty space for a few moments.

With a sigh, he pushed himself up, meandering to the bathroom as JARVIS came back online, the light flickering on. He meant to just take a shower, since there was some Avengers conference or other that morning and stopped dead at the sight of himself in the mirror. "Son of a bitch!" he yelped. Taking another step forward, he tilted his chin and frowned at the rather obvious hickey as JARVIS stopped his prattle about the weather.

"Sir?"

"That bastard," Tony said, tracing the bruise. "I can't hide this! I'm gonna..." What could he threaten a chaos god with?

"Well, if you're 'gonna' do anything, I suggest you figure it out shortly as he's still here."

The billionaire paused. "Come again?"

"He's still here," JARVIS said, voice bland. "In the living room."

Loki was reclining quite comfortably on the couch in the living room, the clothes he wore were not the ones he had arrived in the night before, though those were nowhere to be seen either. The book in his hand was one he'd called to himself, a collection of tales in Latin. It was hardly his favorite language, but he had yet to go through this book. He glanced toward the bathroom, smirking behind the book at what he could hear.

Tony stormed into the living room moments later, freezing at the sight of the god still on his couch. "You're an asshole, you know that?" he greeted him with.

Loki looked up innocently, "Whatever is the matter?"

"I may have an amazing reputation as a playboy, but really?" he asked, referring to the hickey. "A little more subtlety?"

"It will fade given time," the taller man shrugged, turning his gaze back to the book.

"I have to deal with Steve goddamn Rogers today!" Tony protested.

The god didn't look concerned, "And what is your point? After all, you said yourself you have quite the reputation."

"But he's going to be so self righteous, and that's not even dealing with the other eye rolls I'm going to be getting here," Tony said, running a hand through his rucked up hair again.

Loki arched a brow, finally closing the book, "When is the meeting?"

"In fifteen minutes," Tony said, glancing at the windows were JARVIS had helpfully put up a clock, his messages, and several reports on everything from Baseball scores and Stark stock.

"Well, I was going to offer to fade it for you, but I certainly cannot do it that quickly, and it would only be the same sort of effect created by utilizing, what's the word, cover-up?"

"Cover up is tacky," Tony said, shaking his head. "Besides, I'm not sure your magic and me are a good mix right before walking into a room like that."

Loki considered that for a moment and then realized exactly how bad a plan it would be, "Right. No, it likely would not."

"I mean, between the SHEILD agents in all colors of the rainbow and specialties, and our own demigod? I'll deal with the whistles and eye rolls and smothering blond fury."

"Then you would do well to arrive showered at the very least, would you not?"

"Shower, yes," Tony agreed, still eying the other strangely. "You want one?" There was an invitation in there but it wasn't as blatant as his usually were.

Loki looked at him over the top of the book he had started to return to, "I've already showered, thank you."

Tony rolled a shoulder. "Wanna make breakfast then?" Unsaid was the question of why on Earth the other was still there. Though Tony really didn't plan on having JARVIS kick the god out, he hadn't expected him to stick around.

The other considered and then nodded, "I can see what I can create from what you have in your kitchen." He closed the book, waving a hand and sending it back to his residence.

"I happen to have a pantry stocked by the finest chefs," Tony protested. "And Pepper approves the choices, which is saying even more."

"We shall see," Loki murmured, rising. "I shall have it ready, or nearly so, by the time you are done. Now go."

Tony waved a hand, retreating to the bathroom and sagging against the door. "JARVIS?" he whispered.

"Yes sir?" the AI asked, own voice down several volume levels.

"The god of chaos is cooking me breakfast, right?"

"Unless I am missing something, yes sir, I believe he is."

Tony just shook his head slightly, trying to adjust to that before pulling what little he had on off and turning the water on hot.

Loki made his way to the kitchen, waving a hand to open all the cupboards before going through them and finding ingredients as he went. The trick would be to make a decent breakfast that was palatable to both Asgardian and Midgardian tastes in a short amount of time. As delightful as it might be to make Stark miss the meeting, there was so much more pleasure to be taken in scrying the reactions of the others to the blemish on the inventor's jaw. Finally finding things he thought would work appropriately, the god of chaos set to work, approximating the time he had as about twenty minutes and functioning under that assumption.

It took about twenty minutes for Tony to drag himself away from the hot water and put himself back together. He glanced at his watch, noticing the meeting was already starting and shrugging his shoulders. No one actually expected him on time.

Loki heard him emerge from the bathroom and dished up the relatively basic fare he had made: pancakes with berries, scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage with a cup of coffee. Setting a plate down on the table for Stark, he fetched his own, "Have a good shower?"

Tony just blinked at the food. "That..." he blinked again. "Yes," he finally added in reply to Loki's comment.

"That is good to hear," the god folded himself gracefully into one of the chairs.

The billionaire was trying to remember what life looked like twelve hours ago. "So... you actually made breakfast. A lot of breakfast." And more than even Pepper tried to get him to eat.

"I said I was going to, did I not?" Loki queried, sipping at the tea he'd brewed for himself.

"I own tea?"

"No. And even if you did it would not be of the right sort."

"Oh," Tony said, considering the fact that tea had been magicked into his penthouse and not sure whether that or owning it would have disturbed him more. Taking a bite of the meal, he blinked before looking back over at the god. "So, you're still around."

Loki shrugged slightly, picking at his eggs, "I have nothing pressing to be done today. And nowhere better to be."

"That's quite flattering honestly," Tony said, realizing how very hungry he was.

"Well, take that as you will," the god of mischief replied, watching the smaller man out of the corner of his eye.

Tony shrugged. "Hey, I can occupy a god's time. If I ever told her, Pepper would be aghast at how big my head's getting." He moved through the plate of food quickly, enjoying it more than he expected.

Loki smirked at that, nibbling on the meal he'd made. He was still trying to convince himself that he was actually hungry, having stayed set him a bit off kilter.

Once the plate was empty, the smaller man considered it, and considered the clock again. Almost half an hour late already.

Loki rose, his own meal two-thirds finished, but he didn't think he'd finish the rest, "You're a good deal late now."

"It's expected of me," Tony said, pulling the plate with food still on it toward him.

The god arched an eyebrow, but nodded slightly, "And you always play to expectations."

"Only most of the time," Tony protested, suddenly not feeling quite so hungry anymore.

"There's surely no shame to following expectations, especially since one can then turn them on their heads," he replied, glancing at the plate.

Tony crossed his arms over the table, looking the other man over. "And you're about turning expectations on their head?"

"Sometimes," Loki answered, not entirely certain what to do with the look.

The mortal only arched a brow. "Do I wanna know what I am?"

"A diversion. I believe we went over that last night."

"I meant expectation wise," Tony shrugged. "Fit into them or not?"

"Into my expectations? I went in with few at all," Loki answered, taking one of the plates to the kitchen before returning.

Tony tilted his head, frowning. "I meant with other people," he said, shaking his head. "See, stuff like this is expected of me, but not you as far as I was ever aware. But you know what? Forget it. I should get going."

The Asgardian considered him for a long moment, "No. It is not what most expect, but I am not what most expect."

"Well, that's entirely true," Tony said, putting on his most charming smile.

Loki looked him over, his attentive green eyes sweeping over the other's features, trying to pinpoint the lie he could feel. He thought he caught a hint of it and found himself mentally recoiling from it, it hit too close to home, "Well, I thank you for a diverting night, Mr. Stark."

"I'd say you're welcome but that sounds arrogant, even for me," Tony said, rising. "Now, I have a meeting to attend."

Nodding slightly, the god of mischief strongly considered ruffling up the other's hair, but decided that the mark on his jaw was enough. He paused for a moment before waving a hand and vanishing in the green and black smoke they had arrived in, leaving a faint chill in his wake.

Tony frowned at the smoke and the coolness. Shaking his head, he rose, dropping the other plate in the sink where it would be taken care of and he headed to his Avengers get together, sunglasses firmly over his eyes and cocksure attitude in place.

o.o.o.o

Steve Rogers was in the middle of the latest debrief which he was supposed to be overseeing when Tony finally arrived. The super-soldier glanced at the clock, "Tony, you're late again. And-" He broke off, blinking, "What is that?"

"What is what?" Tony asked, sliding into his seat. "Sorry for being late everyone—" no one looked impressed. "—Busy guy and all that." He tried not to react toward Steve, who'd just drawn every single person's attention to Tony, and his jaw line. Fantastic.

"This is late even for you," Steve frowned. "What kept you?"

Tony just arched a brow, dropping his glasses onto the table and giving Steve a long look. "Come on, golden boy, put two together."

"Don't you usually just get JARVIS to kick them out?" Clint said from down the table. Thor had his head tilted to the side, considering Tony intently and the inventor decided he should have skipped this entire thing.

Steve blushed a bright shade of red, every sensibility he had offended.

Natasha smirked from where she was tipped back in her chair, "And I don't recall your past conquests leaving such remarkable signs of their presence."

"While I love all the attention my love life is getting," Tony shrugged. "Didn't we have business?"

"I don't know, I sortta want to know who'd be audacious enough to do that," Clint replied.

"I'm certainly curious," Black Widow nodded her agreement, glancing at Steve who was turning an interesting shade, though he didn't seem inclined to protest much.

The inventor only managed not to roll his eyes. "My lover is none of your business. It was a very nice night and they made me breakfast this morning. Can we find a crisis to deal with now?"

Thor just frowned at him. "Something seems... off, Man of Iron. Are you sure there was nothing wrong last night?"

Tony felt his spine tense and was very glad he didn't let Loki use any magic on him, if Thor could sense any presence at all. "Nothing strange, nothing bad, moving on."

Steve cleared his throat, nodding once, "We do need to actually have a meeting finished for once."

"Then let's finish the meeting!" Tony said clapping, even as Thor continued considering him.

Natasha's brow rose sharply at that, but Steve seemed too relieved to be able to actually continue and finish the meeting to notice how odd it was that Tony Stark was anxious for a meeting to take place.

Chapter Text

It was three weeks and some change before Tony ran into Loki again. He'd thought, for a moment, that things were going back to normal, since he hadn't heard from the chaos god. Unfortunately, normal meant going to parties he had no interest in and making subtle but odd fashion choices.

Loki was bored. He'd been mostly honest when he told Stark that he lived in that state, but he'd found things to occupy his mind for nearly a month and was once again completely bored. And so, conjuring up an invitation, he strolled into the party of the week, the suit a slightly different cut than the last time, but the same color scheme. His gaze swept over the assembled people, looking for someone to entertain him. Arching a brow, he made his way along the wall, brushing off the lies he heard all around him, until he came to stand behind Stark, "Imagine seeing you here."

It took a lot of effort for Tony not to jump out of his skin. "Bored again?" he asked, regretting the scotch he'd had already.

Picking up a champagne flute from a passing tray he nodded, "Out of my mind with boredom, or very nearly."

"So you come to another party?" Tony arched a brow. "Personally I thought you'd try to take over some minor mystical kingdom."

Something flickered in Loki's eyes at that, "If I could find the root of Yggdrasil in this world I might consider that, but as I cannot seem to locate where that is, I fear you shall have to tolerate my presence at more society galas."

"See, here's the thing," Tony said, making himself let the tray pass without taking anything. "Society galas are the most boring places on the planet."

"But once in a great while I can catch a lie that makes it worthwhile," the Asgardian replied, sipping at his drink. "It is rare, but it is better than re-reading the tomes I have already perused time and time again."

"We have got to introduce you to more of Earth's society," Tony said and blinked once at the 'we.' "I mean, seriously, I think a fair or something would be more entertaining than this. Besides, if you liked us, maybe you'd be less likely to cause destruction and shit."

"No, Anthony, I fear there you are mistaken. I wreaked havoc upon my childhood home, why should I do any differently in a home that is not mine?" Loki's brow arched.

"Still," Tony shrugged. "Seeing more of it might keep you entertained."

"You expect me to wander, unhindered, among the innocent populace and not cause damage and mischief?" Examining his nails, the former prince of Asgard spared Stark hardly a glance.

"Oh god no," Tony said quickly. "No, you're missing my point. I think I am too. Point is, you need a tour guide or something."

That earned a sharp bark of laughter, "And are you offering, Stark?"

"I haven't decided yet," he said with a roll of his shoulders. "I am bored out of my mind at the moment though, so, yes?"

"I doubt there could be much of interest going on at this hour, could there?" The god glanced around, sipping his champagne. He didn't fully doubt that there was, but at the same time he was so rooted in where he was raised and the fact that when there was something of any note going on in Asgard, rarely was there anything of further interest occurring elsewhere in the realm.

"Depends on your taste, I suppose," Tony shrugged. "There's movies, bars, carnival down near the water front, joy rides in a private jet, sports, and hey, there's always sex though I'm sure that novelty has worn off."

"I think you had mentioned showing me other parts of Midgard, but I must admit the view from your penthouse is astonishing." He smirked, "Almost enough for me to regret wreaking any havoc that would cause some of those lights to be extinguished."

Snagging another drink off a passing tray, Tony downed the scotch in almost one go, unsure at all what to make of that sort of a statement. "Yeah, well, I rather like the penthouse and the lights myself."

"I suppose that leaves us still with a set of options, does it not?"

Tony grinned easily, wondering how much alcohol he was going to need to get through whatever he just offered. "Well, if I'm going to play host, it's your choice."

Loki considered him for a long moment, a sly smile finally sliding into place on his features, "Well, I have seen my share of taverns of Asgard, and though I am not the sort to drink as much as Thor, I might not mind to see if your 'bars' hold more truth tellers than your galas." Besides, he was a shade curious to see the effects on Tony Stark as well.

Letting out what could only be a high pitched giggle, Tony clamped his mouth shut. A bar. Why had he offered a bar. "Great," he said, smile loose and easy and entirely a lie again. "I know just the place."

The god of chaos smiled easily at that, "Wonderful, shall we allow your driver to take us this time?"

"Yes, let's make Happy happy," Tony said under his breath, spinning on his heel and leaving without a backward glance at anyone there.

This was even more diverting than their last encounter. Following Stark out of the room, Loki allowed his gaze to sweep over a couple of the guests, murmuring a truth spell as he crossed the threshold and smirking as he heard the uproar start in the far corner of the room.

Tony paused at that sound. "Was that you?"

"Was what me?" Loki glanced at him innocently.

"Right," Tony declared, having already texted Happy for the car.

"Just be glad I waited until you exited to cast that spell," the liesmith murmured, stepping out into the cool night air.

"Sure," Tony muttered, the car rolling to a stop at the curb and he slipped inside quickly.

Loki considered the transportation for a brief moment before ducking down and joining the smaller man in the back seat, "Rather a nice car you have. Somehow I expected something flashier."

"I'm flashy enough in every other way possible," Tony shrugged, and wondered if he just might suggest the penthouse rather than a bar.

"This is true. Your suit certainly isn't all that subtle." Leaning back in the seat, the god glanced at his host, "You may need to tell your driver where you've decided to take me." His words indicated that a change in plans would not go amiss, though he was still curious to see what happened if Stark had even one more drink.

Tony half hoped Happy would call in Pepper or call in his night for him when he named the pub.

His driver glanced at him in the mirror with a brow raised, "You sure, sir?"

"No," Tony shrugged, leaning back in the seat, still in total command of his own space. "I think pretty lights might be enough for tonight," he said, glancing at Loki. "And it's not like I don't have my own bar."

Loki's lips curled up at that, "I've had my fill of people for the night, anyway." The noise that had been set off with the truth charm had been enough chaos for the moment. He simply sought diversion now.

"Back to the Tower then, sir?" Happy asked, already turning the car in that direction.

"Please," Tony said, considering the man—being? god?—next to him and smirking slightly.

The driver nodded slightly and wondered if he should call Miss Potts about this latest man their boss was taking home.

Loki leaned his head back against the seat, chuckling, "You know, I used to wonder what you people found so desirable about your lights. They're cold, impersonal in many ways. I can't help but think that it makes you feel like gods to stand among the stars as you do from buildings like yours, Stark." Alright, the use of his magic and the flood of truth had probably been a mistake. Midgardian alcohol couldn't affect him without drinking enough that most residents of the realm would probably expect alcohol poisoning, but the intoxicating effect of a spell that successful and that focused was almost as good and he suddenly remembered why he avoided them.

Blinking rapidly, Tony considered him. "It's something like that," he said, shifting in his seat and certainly not wearing a seat belt so he half turned, propping one elbow on the back of the seat. "Depends on the lights though. Some are warmer or colder than others." He paused another moment. "You like my lights then, huh? You must not have seen them that one time."

"It was daylight and I was preoccupied," the other responded. "And no, your lights here are all cold. Impersonal as I said. They have no life of their own, you control their brightness, where they shine, how they shine, when they shine."

"Don't you like control?"

"There is a difference between control and bondage, Anthony," Loki murmured, his eyes drifting shut. He knew that in this state he could school his expression, but his eyes would give him away.

That got a laugh out of Tony which he thought was a bad idea the moment it left him. "I'm sorry, you think my lights are in bondage?"

The god of fire opened one eye, fixing Stark with a long look before he closed it again, "Have you ever seen a fire? Not one in one of your fireplaces, but one in the open air. A controlled one, such as a campfire. Have you ever seen the dancing of a torch's flame?"

"Yes," Tony said, arching a brow. "So?" Honestly, he'd exploded enough things into fire on national television it was getting to be a rote joke.

"That is free light. A light that changes a single expression into a multitude. A light that darkens a corner one instant and illuminates it the next. It is not fixed in the way your lights are. There is spirit to it," Loki's eyes opened, his gaze on the ceiling of the car, but his focus ages away.

It was then Tony remembered exactly how old the other man was. "Big fan of fire then? Do you know, I think I've started more than a few of them. The other thing is they're unpredictable, dangerous, and can bet out of control really damn fast."

Loki offered a half-shrug at that, "God of chaos, god of fire. Fire not only gets out of control, it is expected to. But even when it does, there are few things to match its beauty."

Tony tilted his head. "Naw, I'm still sticking to utterly terrifying."

Smirking slightly, the Asgardian nodded, "I do not recall saying that beauty precluded terror."

The smaller mortal just felt really glad when Happy stopped in front of the tower, stumbling out of the car quickly.

Loki unfolded from the car, murmuring something that may have been thanks to the driver, before glancing at Stark. "Are we taking your route up or mine?"

"Uh," Tony managed, blinking at him. "The elevator is serviceable and safe, I swear." But on the other hand he really didn't want to walk past the doorman or anyone else in the building.

"And how many witnesses do you wish to have to the fact that I will be in your bed tonight?" The taller being countered with a smirk.

"I still prefer the idea of you using the damn door," Tony returned.

Loki blinked at him, for a long moment not comprehending before recognition dawned. "Oh, I see." He held out a hand to the other, even as he focused on the spell needed to see where he was going.

"Huh?" Tony managed, even as he put his hand in the other's.

The moment their hands touched, Loki pulled the other with him through the next weave of his spell. The smoke and chill around them cleared to reveal the hallway outside of the penthouse door. Glancing at the smaller man, the god could only hope that he had gotten it right. He'd erred in an interpretation before and the results had not been pleasant.

Looking around, Tony tried to figure out his bearings, realizing he was in fact standing in the hallway outside his front door. For a moment he blinked at it before covering his eyes and laughing. "Oh, god. Okay, you know what, that works. That works just fine." Then he was moving quickly to get the door open, dragging Loki along behind him.

The god of chaos permitted himself to be drawn inside, covering up his uncertainty, still not sure he'd actually done right in that action as his mind flickered to the remarks on his magic from their last night in the penthouse. Brushing the thoughts aside, Loki smirked and sent his gaze sweeping over the penthouse, "You never change anything here do you?"

"I change it plenty," Tony protested. "When I'm living here full time, which I'm not."

His brow twitched upward, but Loki nodded, finding at least some sincerity in the words. He had a habit of adding things here and there as he found them and thought them to be of interest or of use and as such his own rooms rarely went three days without some addition or subtraction of objects.

Tony was moving through the apartment, mind attracted to the bar before he thought the plan through, rambling about the house in Malibu, and the Avenger's mansion and Loki didn't really want to gothere, did he?

The god shook his head, chuckling, "No. I do not think my appearance at said mansion would be wise. And Malibu would be a good deal warmer than I care for." He strolled over to the bar, "I just find the lack of a personal touch here strange I suppose."

Tony considered him a moment, aware that just because a god was in his living room did not mean he needed to share anything. But he shrugged, leaning his elbows against the counter. "If you want personal touch, it's going to be my lab. Places like this are just set pieces."

"The lab here in New York, or one you have squirreled away somewhere else?" came the query as Loki continued his path past the bar and over to the large windows.

"You'll have to excuse me if I don't give you the location of my lab," Tony said, eyes trailing after the tall figure.

A knowing smirk played over the Asgardian's lips, "What, don't you trust me?"

"No," Tony replied bluntly. "Drink?"

Offering a half shrug, he nodded, "A drink wouldn't go amiss." His gaze focused out the windows as he mentally dispelled the remaining effects of his truth spell from earlier, a harmless enough bit of magic, but the conversation in the car had set him even further off-kilter and he couldn't have that. This was to be a diversion, not a time when he revealed anything of himself. "Do you prefer this city or your home across the country?" He asked after a moment.

"Does it matter?" Tony asked, mixing drinks.

"Not especially I suppose. Idle curiosity is all."

Pausing a moment, Tony shrugged. "Every fancy house has its perks, it's hard to play favorites with what's all but your kids, you know?"

Loki turned his head to pin Stark with a long look at that, no semblance of a smile on his face for a moment before the corner of his mouth twitched upward, "I can only imagine."

The smaller man leaned back on his heels at the first look, blinking rapidly and trying to figure out if he'd imagined that or not. This was a very bad idea, he really needed to remember that and not invite the god of chaos and mischief home next time they ran into each other. But... if Loki was already here...

Brushing off whatever had just happened, Tony held out a glass. "Here."

Turning fully and taking the glass, Loki offered him one of his more common smirks, "Thank you for the drink." He sipped at it, his brows rising. It was one of the better tasting drinks he'd obtained in his time on Midgard.

Tony returned the smirk, knocking his own back.

"You Midgardians have rather a large selection of drinks, do you know that?"

"We like to be inventive in our ways of killing and or harming ourselves," Tony shrugged. "Pick up smoking yet?"

Loki snorted at that, "No. Disgusting scent, nothing like pipe smoke, which I might also mention I can't stand, or that of alchemy."

"But we have a wide variety of drinks," Tony grinned. "Ever try something fruity with an umbrella? Or milkshakes. Or soda. We have just about unlimited ranges of beverages." He could almost feel himself getting looser and more talkative, but at least it was about unimportant things like milkshakes.

The god's brow arched, "I meant in the alcoholic department, but you do rather have a wide variety elsewhere. I prefer things rather less sweet. There was an incident with the figures you lot consider the Greek Gods and their Ambrosia and Nectar." He wrinkled his nose, "But no, I don't believe I've sampled a few of those you mentioned."

"You wouldn't happen to be able to nab some of that ambrosia, would you?" Tony grinned. "Because I'm sure that would taste fantastic."

Loki grimaced, "It tasted horrid. Do you know they bathe in the stuff? It's like thinned down honey and they bathe in it. Or at least Hera's been known to. Besides, rumor has it it's toxic to humans."

The shorter man just laughed. "You're so judgmental."

"You're not the one who had to sit at dinner with them for hours." Loki returned dryly, "They all smelled of it in some way or other. Apparently they use it as a perfume as well. I will never understand the Olympians."

"Any luck understanding the humans then?" Tony asked, already with a second drink.

"Oh you lot are simple enough. Peel back enough layers and many of you are exactly the same. It's only through the constant reiteration of 'you are unique' that you all come to believe it."

"But we have a wide variety of drinks," Tony quipped back, absolutely not reacting to what the god just said.

That earned a short laugh as Loki sipped at the first drink Stark had poured him, "Yes, you do at that. Which I have to admit is nice in its own way."

"So long as we're good at something," the inventor deadpanned.

"Oh, I never said you Midgardians aren't good at several things. I simply said you're not all as unique as you think you are."

"Uh-huh," Tony said, leaving his glass on the counter and taking the last few steps between them, one arm going around Loki's waist and the other going for his tie. "At least I can assume I'm good at one thing, huh?"

The Asgardian blinked before his lips curled up into a smile and he set his own glass down, "A couple of things, but yes, for once I do believe you'd be safe in that assumption."

"Well, you're here again, so yeah, I figured safe in that assumption," Tony said, offering him a grin.

Loki leaned down to kiss the other forcefully, his fingers moving up to actually undo Stark's tie this time. Tony laughed shortly at that, as the smaller man pressed up into the kiss, his own hands working quickly on the tie and shirt. Deftly removing the tie, the god of chaos turned his attention to the buttons of the other's shirt, not breaking the kiss. Moving into the kiss, Tony pulled one hand through Loki's hair, the amount of alcohol in his system making him bolder.

Loki smirked against the kiss, quickly divesting Stark of his shirt and suit coat. One of his arms moved to wrap around the other's waist and pull him close as the other cupped the back of Stark's head.

Hooking a leg around Loki, Tony used that to push himself up higher. "No obvious hickies and no magic your brother can pick up, alright?"

Loki almost froze at that, "I thought I had avoided the magic last time."

"Yeah, well, he picked up something and if there's an emergency in the next few hours I really don't want him sniffing me like a puppy, okay?"

The world-less one's grip tightened just slightly, almost possessive at that thought, "I shall keep it in mind."

"Cool," Tony managed, noticing the tighter grip and putting it down to anger towards Thor. "Will you cook me breakfast again?"

"If I am here in the morning I will consider it," the trickster responded, leaning in to nip at the other man's lower lip.

Humming, Tony pressed back into the touch.

Chapter Text

Sometime in the middle of the night, Tony startled out of a nightmare, not moving a muscle as he woke up and attempted to remember where he was and that the arc reactor was glowing in his chest and everything was fine. Shifting his eyes to the side, he also tried to remember who was in bed with—oh right. Loki. Why was Loki in his bed a second time? he asked himself, eyes tracking over the other's side and frowning slightly at the other's position and the lightly glowing wards sunk in. "Holy shit."

Loki's eyes snapped open. He placed very specific wards around himself to alert him should anything move while he slept. Uncurling rapidly from the tight ball he slept in, his right hand glowed with a defensive spell and he rolled toward the voice with the intent to cast his magic. Just before he did so, he processed where he was and what had likely happened. His bedmates never woke before him, but it appeared that Stark had. The light from his spell lit the room briefly before he retracted it again, though his green eyes were wide and his expression wary as he watched the smaller man.

"Um," Tony managed, his own eyes wide. "So, note to self... do not wake gods up abruptly. Do you always sleep like that?"

"Like what?" Loki asked as he shifted back and stretched, cat-like, to loosen the kinks that were in his back.

"Uh," Tony started, getting very distracted by the stretching. "Curled up in a tiny ball with magic?"

"I do not like to wake and find something has changed without my knowledge," the sorcerer answered. "Wards are the easiest way to do that."

"And those require the position?" Tony asked, curious.

The liesmith found himself nearly fumbling for a decent excuse as he smoothed down his hair from where he slept with his fingers tangled in it, "A smaller area is easier to place a ward around." In all honesty, he usually started out sleeping uncurled, but something in his subconscious insisted on presenting as small a target as possible when unable to defend himself.

"Right," Tony said, stretching himself back out on the bed, a hand coming up to cover the arc reactor.

Loki's gaze swept over him, considering for a long moment before he nodded, "It is hardly the strangest thing to sleep in such a manner."

"You certainly have stranger," Tony agreed, still trying to shake the nightmare.

Drawing his eyes back up to meet Stark's, the god of lies murmured, "You have slept ill."

"It's fine," he said and swallowed hard. "Actually, you know, not sure I'm tired anymore," he added and scrabbled out of bed.

Loki frowned slightly, both at the abrupt removal of the other and at what he felt coiling in his chest. It couldn't be concern, could it? He rose, gracefully, pulling on his undergarments from the previous night, "Anthony, what is it?"

"What is what?" he protested, pulling on an undershirt and pants.

"The dream which sends you fleeing," came the reply as the slender god pulled on his slacks and considered the pros and cons of putting on the same shirt he'd had during the evening or fetching one from his residence.

"I could just be done sleeping you know," he said, stopping and turning and suddenly weighing the pros and cons of just shoving the other back into bed and curling up around the taller form. Which was insanity talking. "There's always work to be done."

"You could be, but you are not," Loki replied simply, finally deciding that he might as well spare Stark the excess of magic. He was feeling charitable at the moment, though he couldn't figure out why since the smaller man had seen him so vulnerable.

"What," Tony started and swallowed. "What would it matter to you?" he suddenly wanted more layers between the arc reactor and the god. Not that layers would actually stop anyone.

The other looked at the reactor and then shrugged a shoulder slipping from the bedroom to find the rest of his clothes, "I never said it did."

"You asked," Tony shot after him. "That implies some concern."

Loki nearly froze as he laid his hands on the shirt he'd been wearing. He straightened and let his mask fall into place, his tone shifting to the smooth, almost bored one that he used frequently, "That implies concern with most. With me, Anthony, it simply implies curiosity."

"Concern for getting an answer then and good god, do you mind?" Tony snapped, coming into the doorway. "No one calls me Anthony."

The god of chaos pursed his lips at that, "At least I use your name."

"As opposed to what?" Tony demanded, crossing his arms over his chest, which had the added bonus of covering the arc reactor.

Loki looked at him for a long moment and then shook his head, "You've still yet to use mine."

For a long moment the inventor blinked at the god before he laughed, flabbergasted. "I'm sorry, was that a problem, Loki?"

Something in the chaos god's jaw tensed, "Not a problem, and certainly not entirely unexpected."

"Right," Tony said, giving him a long look. "Because reminding myself that I happen to be sleeping with a chaos god is a great plan, isn't it? I mean, is Loki even your legitimate, real name or do gods have more than one? I don't even know," his voice was harsher than it should have been all things considered, but he was on edge as it was.

Loki's eyes narrowed, drawing what he had hoped would be a calming breath, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. Snapping up his suit coat he shook his head firmly, "No. Of course it isn't a good plan, I never said it was." His green gaze swept over Stark for a brief moment, his tone growing progressively icier as he spoke, "Loki is the name which Odin and Frigga bestowed upon me. It is my name. If you are quite finished I will leave and you need not worry about sleeping with a chaos god any longer."

"You know," Tony said, pausing. "Just because you twist everyone's words doesn't mean you need to twist mine the same way."

The teleportation spell already half-formed in his mind, the sorcerer banished it and blinked at Stark for a long moment, "I would have thought your words were quite clear without any twisting on my part."

"Well," Tony thought back on them. "Okay, sortta. But here's the thing, Loki god of chaos who occasionally tosses me out windows and tries to rule the human race, not to mention the guy we used to talk about in mythology classes seems different from the guy who tells me he's bored at parties." The inventor shrugged. "But if you have other places to be, don't let me keep you."

"Loki is my name. It has been since I came to my place in the palace of Asgard and shall be until long after Ragnarok," he looked around. "I get bored, and as I would rather not utilize that boredom in ways that will cause permanent damage to myself," a phantom pain ghosted through his lips and it was all he could do not to run his tongue over them to check for blood, "arriving at ever more boring parties seems my only recourse."

"Sure," Tony shrugged again. "Besides, I'm not so sure how much you know about my reputation, but how often do you think I even know the names of the people I sleep with?"

"My assumption is rarely," came the reply before Loki shook his head again, "nor, I suppose, do you bring them back twice."

"So you're pretty ahead of the game, don't you think?" Tony arched a brow at him. "Twice, and I know your name. Doesn't mean I'm used to using people's names, alright? Are you this defensive about everything?"

"Defensive? Whatever could you possibly mean by that?" Loki asked, letting the suit coat drop onto the arm of the couch.

"Never mind," Tony said abruptly, going to stand at the window instead, arms still crossed over his chest. It was almost dawn, but the sky was mostly dark.

The god of chaos watched him for a long moment, finally shaking his head. Of all the humans in Midgard this was the one he tumbled into bed with. Perhaps he was as mad as some claimed, "You are no less protective of what you consider important to you."

Tony glanced at him from the corner of his eye. "Perhaps not," he managed. "Maybe we're both tight lipped bastards."

Loki moved over to stand at the window, but just out of reach, "Perhaps."

For a long moment, Tony just considered the city as the sky began to slowly lighten. "Don't often watch the sunrise anymore," he murmured. "So, Loki," he added, saying the name carefully. "Staying for breakfast again?"

"Do you wish me to?" The question came quietly, his gaze focused on the point where the light was spreading from rather than face Stark at the moment.

The smaller man just shrugged. "You cook better than anyone I know." It was a backward way of saying, yes.

That earned a quirk of his lips, a shadow of his usual smirk, "Do you have a meeting this morn?"

"No," Tony grinned. "I mean, I think there's something Pepper wants me to put in an apperance for later, but that's not until the afternoon."

"Then I need not make the same meal as before. Good."

"Good?" Tony asked, arching a brow. "Was that meal bad?"

"No, but it was rather lacking in anything sweet, barring the berries," Loki murmured.

"Oh," Tony managed. That hadn't been the other's best cooking. "So, I'm assuming I'd just get in the way of any kitchen endeavors, and it's too early to mix drinks, but I'll be moral support, okay?"

That earned a bit of a smirk, "It is far too early to mix drinks. I shall see what I can put together."

"Great," Tony said, plopping down on the couch, and finding a tablet stashed away underneath several newspapers on the coffee table.

Loki finally turned away from the window, entering the kitchen and considering what would make a decent breakfast that day. Finally settling on something he set to work. He had little enough opportunity to make meals, and though he typically ate little in the mornings he knew that it was different for others. And the amount of honing he'd been using on his magic was requiring a bit more of him as well, so a large breakfast certainly wouldn't go amiss.

A little over thirty minutes later, the Asgardian dished up the food. It was not unlike the previous meal, only the pancakes were replaced with what some might call a crepe, folded over berries with freshly made honey cream over the top. "Do you require coffee, or would you prefer something else this morning? The food is ready."

"I inhale coffee," Tony replied, glancing up and blinking at the amount of food. "So, yes?" Rising, he drifted over, looking at the plate like it was one of the most amazing things he'd ever seen. Alright, so Loki was three up on his usual bed partners.

"I'm sure there is something in Midgardian physiology that rejects the amount of coffee you claim to consume," Loki murmured as he poured Tony a cup of coffee and fetched a glass of water for himself.

"Course there is, doesn't mean I don't do it. Also something about the lack of sleep, alcohol and way I throw my body off high places in a metal suit," he shrugged, taking the coffee.

"You will age before your time if you keep it up," the former prince of Asgard set his plate down and folded into one of the chairs.

Tony couldn't help but laugh then. "I'm being kept alive by a blue glowing thing in my chest that can be ripped out of it. Well beyond aged before my time, sweetheart."

Loki blinked at him at the form of address, but quickly recovered and shrugged slightly, "A valid point I will grant you."

Tony grunted, paying more attention to his food for a long moment. "I suppose that's not something you'd have to worry about is it?"

"Immortals have their own set of concerns," the other replied, picking at his food much as he had the last time.

"Oh, I'm sure," Tony said. "Just different ones, huh?"

"Yes, like how to put off the end of the universe," came the wry response.

The inventor gaped for a moment, fork poised halfway between plate and mouth. "Alright, yeah, that's a bit different. Good luck?"

Loki grinned, though it came nowhere near his eyes, "Well, as I am sitting here today I would say that a solid amount of progress is in place to keep it averted for a while yet."

"Cool," Tony declared, chewing thoughtfully. All he knew about Norse mythology not related directly to what either Loki or Thor had done on Earth was that there was some wolf, and possibly some ravens. He felt a little out of his depth in the conversation, and hated not knowing what the other was alluding too.

"Something like that," the slender god murmured, casting about for a topic that didn't turn his mind to endless years of pain and torment followed by death and all destruction.

"So, good food, again," Tony said, taking another gulp of coffee.

"It's simple enough to make, and I've had a long time to perfect it," Loki answered, sipping at his water.

"Really? Why?" Tony asked.

"Because I have been around for eons as your realm tells time," he chose to answer the more surface level of the questions.

"Right," Tony said, busying himself with the food again and wondering about the wisdom of small talk when their entire lives were on different scales.

Loki sighed, considering the meal. He knew he ought to eat, but at the moment he didn't much care for the idea. He finally convinced himself to actually eat it rather than simply push it around the plate, "You mentioned a 'Pepper' earlier. The name is familiar, and I am nearly certain I should know it. May I ask who that is?"

"Uh," was all Tony managed for a moment. "Well, you could call her my mother and manager figure, only she'd protest she's damn well not old enough to be my mother but functions very well as my sister and on occasion baby sitter. But that's only when I've been missing all my important meetings again." He paused, trying to actually say something coherent and kind about the most important person in his life. "She's been my friend since we were children and she's stuck around."

The liesmith studied Stark for a long moment, trying to find a reply to that. It was an alien concept, to have someone who stuck around for him and not for who he was, "You are very lucky in such case."

"Yeah," Tony said, considering the other's expression. "She's basically the most important person in my world."

"You've known her your whole lives and she's still here," he managed, somehow, to keep the amazement and confusion out of his voice.

"Yes," Tony said, nodding and tilting his head at the god across the table from him. Considering Loki's relationship with Thor, he didn't press the issue. "So, hey, Loki. If my novelty hasn't entirely worn off at this point, there's another dreadfully dull party I can ditch out on later this week."

The god of chaos arched an eyebrow at that, "Are you asking to set a date?"

Tony's eyes widened in horror for half a second, "God, no. Just saying, if you got bored between now and then. It's not like I'll be expecting you," he said, standing and swiping his empty plate and cup off the table, retreating.

Deciding he'd had enough to eat, Loki rose taking his glass and plate to the kitchen, "If I get bored, perhaps I'll arrive. We shall have to see."

Tony hummed, dropping the dishes on the counter and looking out the window again, enjoying the view for the moment rather than think about anything they'd just said. "You know, if villainy doesn't call or something."

Loki smirked, "Unlike good deeds, villainy makes its own schedule and tends to be a shade more predictable."

"Please," Tony laughed. "I was never good at making any sort of schedule. You could never seduce me to the dark side with that argument."

"And who says that was how I meant to seduce you?" The wordsmith rejoined.

"Well," Tony drawled, turning finally to look the other over. "I suppose you're right. There's only been one seduction going on here."

Loki smirked, "Well, I should be on my way and let you prepare for that whatever it was this afternoon."

Tony made a sound of distaste at that. "Gotta make it up to Pepper," he muttered, trying to convince himself to do just that. But he was a little more focused on the angular form in front of him.

The sorcerer's gaze swept over the other slowly, taking in every aspect. He finally shook his head, he still needed to find Yggdrasil's branch and staying any longer in this penthouse certainly would not help him do so.

Just as the god of chaos was about to dismiss the necessity of returning to his spell books that day, the phone rang. Loki very nearly jumped out of his skin, calming slightly when he registered what the noise actually was.

Tony jumped, whirling around. "What?"

"There is a Steve Rogers for you on the line, sir," JARVIS replied, voice smooth but if it could inflect, Tony was sure he'd hear disapproval.

"Come again?" he managed, smoothly.

Loki's brow arched, "I do believe your illustrious super-soldier is calling, if the caller identification is correct."

"Course it is," Tony said, still trying to wrap his mind around the idea of "Steve" when Loki was standing right there in front of him. "Alright, JARVIS, put the call on," he said, moving over toward the glass windows, which flared up instantly into his usual round of reports and phone calls.

Loki settled himself on the couch to listen in. Steve's voice came through clearly, "Tony, I probably should have called later. Hope I didn't wake you."

"I am frankly, shocked, disturbed and offended you even tried to call me this early," Tony deadpanned right back.

There was a brief pause as Steve sorted out whether to apologize or take it as sarcasm and apparently settled on the second, "Can you come down for an hour or two of training with the team today?"

"Only if there's a buffet."

A sigh accompanied the next words, "We need to figure out how best to work as a team, since the last skirmish was a disaster. Training's in an hour if you can make it?"

"I'll see about working it into my schedule," Tony replied, already flicking a few things off the wall.

Loki watched his motions attentively, listening to what sounded like a smile in Steve Roger's voice. "Thanks, Tony. Hope to see you there."

"See you then," Tony replied, still looking like he was completely unaffected by the idea that Steve Rogers had called for a training session.

Steve rang off. The chaos god on Stark's couch tilted his head to one side, trying to figure out the lie he could feel weaving in the air that the smaller man presented. There were too many threads for him to feel like fully unraveling it at that time, he finally decided. There was a skeletal shape taking form and he would see if the rest came in due course.

"Something up?" Tony asked, turning and leaning his back against the window, trying not to think about what Loki had done several months ago. The windows had since been reinforced several times.

The god shook his head, a brief flash of the glass shattering under Stark's weight flickering across his mind's eye, "Are you going to go then?"

"Why? You planning on crashing our training? Cos that would just not be cool," Tony smirked but at the same moment decided to move somewhere else.

Loki smirked, "As entertaining as that would be, I would prefer to make it through today with no broken bones." 'Our' training. So he would be going then likely.

"Probably your better plan," Tony agreed, moving across the living room.

He rose from where he was seated as Stark moved. Stretching languidly he watched the other from the corner of his eye, "So the session is in an hour?"

"Yes," Tony said, eyes drawn to the stretch again. Was he seriously this easy?

"Pity," he hummed, running a hand over his neck and turning his head at just the right angle to expose a good portion of his throat.

"You're playing dirty, aren't you?" Tony asked, looking him over.

Loki smirked at him, a glint in his green eyes, "I have no idea what you're talking about. Surely one such as I wouldn't stoop to that."

"Uh-huh," Tony replied, heading into the bed room to gather what he'd need. "Which is why you're going to do your thing and leave and I'm going to get there on time, right?"

Following him, the taller being chuckled, "I don't recall saying that."

"I could say no, you know," Tony said, not looking back at him quite yet.

"But you won't, will you?"

Finally looking back over his shoulder, Tony's eyes tracked up and down the other and he mock sighed. "Probably not."

The god moved smoothly over, an arm wrapping around Stark's waist from behind, "That is good to hear."

Humming in his chest, Tony leaned up to kiss the taller again, threading his hands through his hair.

o.o.o.o

Almost an hour later, Tony lay spread out on the bed, arms wrapped around Loki's more angular form when JARVIS flared back to life. "Sir, you're supposed to be training in two minutes."

Making a sound of annoyance, Tony leaned over, nipping at Loki's ear. "You're a bastard aren't you?" he hummed.

Loki smirked at him, tilting his head away, "As far as I know I was born legitimately. I do believe you're running late again though."

"Conniving asshole then," Tony said, nuzzling against his neck before pushing himself back.

Laughing, the god sat up and stretched as he considered where his clothing had ended up.

"Someone is going to kick my ass for this I hope you know," Tony muttered, under his breath.

"It is far earlier than you would usually awaken anyhow, so I see no reason why they should be surprised," Loki responded.

"You're right," Tony said, smirking as he pulled on the clothing to go on under the suit. Leaning over the bed, he leaned in to kiss Loki again, the movement slow and languid considering how late he was running.

The god of chaos leaned up into the kiss, returning it just as leisurely before he could think about the motion. He drew back after a moment, rising to find his own clothing.

Tony smirked, watching him a moment before turning, typing a couple commands into JARVIS. "I'll see you around then," he said, carefully inflecting it to not be a question.

Setting to work buttoning up his shirt, the taller man nodded, "You had best go before you are too late to excuse it."

Laughing again, Tony swaggered out of his own bedroom, moments later stepping into the suit and taking off toward the Avenger's mansion. Loki finished gathering up his clothing before he looked about one last time and vanished in a swirl of smoke.

o.o.o.o

Arriving fifteen minutes after Steve had mentioned the time, Tony stepped into the Avenger's mansion, heading down to the main training room and gym.

Steve looked up as he entered. They had already started training, but he called a halt, "You made it." The soldier sounded surprised.

"You could give me the benefit of the doubt, you know," he returned, glancing around to see everyone else already there.

"Well, it's rather early for you," Natasha commented from where she stood.

"I can do early." he said with a shrug. "Just doesn't mean I always choose to, but alright. What sort of training have you gotten us out of our beds at an ungodly hour for?"

"Hand to hand training," Steve answered promptly. "Some of us are rather severely lacking in training for anything beyond distance weapons."

The smaller man blinked once, sighing. "I hope that's not a jab just at me."

Natasha shook her head, rattling off her assessment of it, "Clint's rusty with it, Cap uses his shield too much, and half the time Thor relies on his hammer more than anything, which since no one else can take that from him makes some sense, but still."

Clint made a sound of protest but the others nodded. Thor looked half put out at Natasha, and the other half of his expression seemed focused on Tony, as if trying to figure something out again.

Black Widow shook her hair out of her eyes, "So, we'd better see about partnering up again since our numbers have changed."

"Great," Tony said, making his voice purposefully bright. He thought if Loki had been there he would have seen through it and shook the thought out of his mind.

Natasha considered the team, glancing at Steve for the go ahead before pairing them off for the training.

"Great," Tony muttered when Natasha came to stand in front of him. "Keeping in mind how rusty I am with all this, please don't boot me halfway across the room and back, okay?"

She nodded once, "I'll make sure you stay in this part of the room. Wouldn't do to have you out of commission if we get called up."

"Thank you for that consideration," Tony muttered. He regretted it several minutes later when he was once again flat on his back on the ground. "So, are we learning things or are you taking pent up sexual frustration out on me?"

"It's not my fault you're running slowly today, Mr. Stark," she answered. "You should be learning what I'm doing if nothing else. And changing your stances accordingly. But you don't seem to be." She placed her foot on his stomach, just enough to keep him down, "And if I was dealing with sexual frustration you would be bloody."

"I'm not sure I'd like the idea of sex with you," Tony managed. "And I'm not a visual learner. How can I correct my stances if I'm just supposed to be looking? Walk me through it would you?"

"I wasn't offering." She stepped back, nodding once, "On your feet."

"I have bruises on top of bruises," Tony grumbled, pushing himself to his feet.

"Cry me a river is I believe the right response to that. Come at me again," Natasha instructed.

"Oh like hell," he said, shaking his head. "Show me what I'm supposed to be doing first."

"I can't do that unless I see the error again. It's too ingrained for me to aim my attacks correctly." She paused, finally adding, "I promise you won't end up on your back again."

Looking her over again, Tony sighed before going through the motion again.

Natasha sidestepped and caught his wrist, "There's your issue. You telegraph your motions too much. I can tell where you're coming from and where you're planning to end up. And the amount of force you use, while good, gives me the momentum to carry you through the motion onto the ground."

Considering that, he leaned back on his heels. "Alright. So how do I not telegraph?"

"Relax for one. Your muscles tense just before you swing, and you rarely end up not shifting your weight before you lunge. Also, look briefly at where you're aiming, but don't focus." She sought through her memory for something to use as an example of the last thing, "Have you ever played the child's game 'I spy'?"

"Uh," he paused, trying to think of it. "Once?"

"You might ask someone to play it with you again, the idea is to pick a target and make sure that everyone thinks you've picked another by keeping your eyes away from the first one. Focus on where you're not going to hit rather than where you are. At the moment it's the best I can tell you," Natasha admitted. "Especially since I think your suit will telegraph worse than you do. At least it's almost too heavy to flip depending on your opponent."

Pursing his mouth a moment, the inventor nodded. "Well, the suit isn't exactly known for being subtle, you know. Besides, I won't do hand to hand in the suit."

Black Widow actually grinned at that, "No. It really isn't. And I suppose that's probable. Don't rule out the possibility, but it's probable that you won't."

"So, let's focus on when I don't have the suit, huh?" Natasha nodded once and they returned to their training.

Chapter Text

A week later, Tony and Loki met at another boring social function, slipping out of the party without notice for another tryst. It was the third time they'd met that way, but the only time they'd actually even hinted at the intent to meet there, and Loki was gone by morning.

o.o.o.o

It was a quiet week.

Until a dragon showed up on the Mall in Washington DC.

Loki had heard tell through different whispered channels that the Midgardians were in possession of one of the great spell books. He had heard it from enough different sources that he felt it was worth an examination, but he could hardly risk detection while he searched for it. Having cast a locating spell and found the book he had promptly set to work on one of the more complex illusions he could create. It had been a long time since he had given something form without all of the negative effects of breathing life into it.

Some part of him did not want to deal with the repercussions of destroying the capital of the United States. The dragon was highly detailed, but its flames left no burn marks, and its form disturbed barely a blade of grass. Even with that, it was a solid being and would remain so until the spell faded or someone was able to "kill" it, whichever came first. It was only supposed to be a distraction, something to keep people alarmed and panicking.

Once the dragon was loose, the trickster god slipped into the right building and cloaked himself with invisibility long enough to locate the book and confirm it was what he sought. Sending the volume back to one of his residences, he re-emerged to see how his dragon fared.

The Avengers had been called in the moment a dragon was found in the nation's capital. They hadn't had the time to really get to work on the creature but were advancing.

Loki's gaze flickered around the Mall to see that the civilians were being evacuated. He sent a protective spell that glimmered ever so slightly to shield a set of school children. If one of the young girls had long dark hair, bright green eyes, and pale skin it was of no consequence.

Glancing toward where the Avengers were attempting to down the dragon he rolled his eyes, of course they would be without the one of their number who might have some idea of the creature's weak points. Where was Thor when he actually handed him a monster designed with him in mind?

Instead, Thor was in New Mexico at the time, visiting Jane so it was the rest of the team, trying to put together their teamwork skills in defeating the dragon.

"Guys," Tony said, swooping in from above. "Is it just me or is there not any damage around?"

Steve glanced up, raising his shield as the dragon directed a blast of flame in their direction, "No damage, but there's enough heat off this thing it should be cooking us where we stand."

"But it's not," Clint said, having planted himself on the rooftop.

"Okay, just so long as I don't end up being slammed into the Vietnam Wall or break some other monument, okay?" Tony said, swinging himself down on top of the dragon.

Natasha slid to a stop next to Steve, "Where do we even hit this thing?"

"I have no idea, it's gotta have weak spots though," Cap replied, rolling out of the way as the dragon snapped at them.

Loki rolled his eyes from where he was perched on the top of the museum of natural history. The lot of them would be dead if that thing were actually designed with more than distraction in mind. This could only go on for so long though before he knew he'd lose interest completely and he was hardly one to deny knowledge to others. Taking careful aim, he considered how much magic he had and what he would still need it for.

A bolt of magic shot out, hitting Hawkeye's bow and the archer's hands. Acting quickly he redirected his magic to Captain America's arms and shield. Briefly considering the pros and cons of doing anything at all to the Hulk he fired again, adding a bit of reasoning the creature's normal blind desire to "smash". He took aim at the Black Widow, but she didn't seem to slow enough for him to get a decent lock on her. A final spell came to life between his hands, taking a moment to make sure it would meld properly he threw it towards Iron Man. The trick with the last was to make sure that the technology wouldn't reject it. If only he'd been able to hit the woman they would have had the last key to locating the weak point, he could only hope that someone had enough knowledge to remember some myth of the Wyrms.

Tony blinked, eyes darting over to the side by the museum. "Any idea's whose work this is? Because I have three guesses and a sudden boost to my suit."

Clint paused. "Something funny about my bow too, suddenly."

"My shield's carrying differently," Steve commented and glanced at Natasha who shook her head. She wasn't feeling any difference in what was going on.

"If you're saying what I think you're saying, Iron Man," she started, "why would he give you a boost?"

"Damned if I know," Tony said, checking the readings again with JARVIS. "But it seems a lot like magic, which means it's probably Loki." Considering the dragon again, he flew in, aiming a few blasts at different areas, searching out where its armor could be weakest.

Loki frowned, he was going to have to give Stark a lecture about the finer points of mythical creatures and their weaknesses. His gaze moved to Captain America as the soldier drew back his arm and let his shield fly. Perfect. The trickster focused on the magic humming around the shield and sent it through an arc that was just off of the one that it had been thrown from. Hopefully it wouldn't be too noticeable, the shield hit the dragon behind its left foreleg, sending the creature stumbling before the red white and blue disc boomeranged back to its owner.

Tony paused. "Okay, legs? Are the legs a go?"

"Might be worth aiming for," Clint agreed, sending his arrows that way, even as Tony started glancing around, trying to place where Loki might be.

The trickster smiled to himself when the archer finally took the hint as did the rest of the team. He vanished from his vantage point, cloaking himself in invisibility and settling near enough to hear the team.

One of Clint's arrows lodged at just the right angle and, Steve's shield hitting the same spot on the other side of the beast, the dragon dissolved into green and black smoke, spreading out across the Mall before vanishing entirely.

Tony landed near where the head had used to be. "Okay, so who's creeped out now? On the other hand, at least nothing got destroyed, which was different."

"What was the point of that anyway?" Clint asked, making his way down from the building.

"Distraction?" Tony offered, eyes scanning the area and having JARVIS also scan for magic traces.

"Yeah, but what was he looking for in that case?" Steve asked as Natasha went to go make sure Hulk wasn't causing damage somewhere.

"We're standing at the center of a mile of museums and monuments," Clint shrugged.

"Maybe he was stealing the Declaration of Independence," Tony quipped.

"Some mystical something probably," Steve replied, missing the reference entirely. "Would be nice to know what all they've got that might be of worth to a chaos god, but they probably don't even know."

"Things like that are hidden in the strangest places," Tony said with a completely straight face even as Clint cracked up behind him.

That earned a roll of Cap's eyes, "SHIELD's probably got some information on it."

Loki's eyes narrowed from his hidden vantage point, the quips Stark was using were covering up a truth and he'd be damned if he left before he found out exactly what it was.

"If SHIELD knows what it's looking for," Tony returned and Clint bothered to look offended for a moment.

Steve shrugged, "I'm sure they've got someone who has an idea of what someone like him might look for."

Tony shrugged his shoulders in the suit. "Alright. So, we don't have any real damage control to do then. Are we packing it in?"

Nodding, Captain America radioed Natasha to return to the Quinjet once she'd found Hulk and convinced him to come. "Yeah, we may as well head back now. Are you coming back to the mansion, Tony?"

The smaller man shrugged. "Any reason to do so?"

"Just thought I'd check," the soldier answered, returning the shrug.

Loki, however, nearly recoiled as the truth behind Stark's words hit him full in the face. Eavesdroppers never hear what they wished to, and never had those words felt truer than in that moment. He had heard and seen enough, vanishing without his normal smoke, but leaving behind a chill that cut through cloth and flesh to strike the marrow.

Tony frowned at the new readings on his suit, raising his eyes to an area off to the side, even as Clint suddenly shivered. "Did it just get really cold to anyone else?"

Steve nodded very slightly, "Yeah, no breeze though. I suggest we get a move on before anything else around here shifts."

"Sure," Tony said, and waved a hand. "I'll see you guys around for the inevitable debrief when Fury gets his hands a hold of this."

"Yeah, hope tomorrow and you'll hear the details of time soon," Cap advised before heading toward where they'd stashed the Quinjet.

Muttering something under his breath, Tony took off, flying for a while before returning to the Penthouse, not sure what exactly to think about Loki showing up, or that chill that probably meant the trickster had left.

o.o.o.o

It was a couple of hours after they had all left the Mall when a knock came at the door of the penthouse. The sound was almost hesitant, like the person on the other side wasn't entirely certain he or she should be there.

Glancing over at the door, Tony glanced up at JARVIS. "Who is it?"

"It appears to be Steve Rogers, sir," the AI butler replied.

Tony paused a long moment, frowning, before he went to the door. "Rogers, I wasn't expecting to see you—"

Steve stepped inside, a hand going to Tony's cheek as the door closed behind him, "I wanted to see you." He hesitated, seeming uncertain about his next move before he leaned down and pressed a tentative kiss to his teammate's lips.

The smaller man tensed completely, freezing. "Erm, Steve," he said, putting a hand on the other's chest and pushing lightly. It wasn't enough to move the larger man but Tony hoped he'd take a hint. "What are you doing? Are you sure you weren't hit by some stray magic or something?"

The blond blushed a bit as he took the hint and stepped back, stammering an apology, "Sorry. No, I don't think I was. I just...I've kinda wanted to do that for a while."

"You... you have?" Tony gaped at him. "But you, you've never..."

"Well, I couldn't just go and kiss you at the mansion could I? I mean...maybe I could've, but..."

"But," Tony stammered, just staring at him a moment before deciding that looking a gift horse in the mouth was probably not his best plan. Hands going out, he tugged the taller man closer.

Steve moved closer almost hesitantly, his hand brushing over Tony's jaw, "May I?"

"May you...?" Tony blinked. "Um, I'm going to say yes."

That earned a lopsided grin from the other as he leaned in and kissed Tony again, an arm circling the smaller man's waist, holding him there loosely. Tony let several long moments pass with just the slide of their mouths together, his hands for the most part staying on the taller's shoulders.

One of Steve's hands slid down Tony's side to rest lightly on his hip as he hesitantly pressed a little further into the kiss.

Sucking in a breath, Tony wrenched back. "Steve, hold on a second, what are you doing?"

The super-soldier looked down at him for a moment in apparent confusion, "What do you mean?"

"I mean," he took another breath, hands dropping down to Steve's hips and staying there. "I mean, what do you want? You just come running in here and, and what?"

"And what what? I...I mean I came here looking for you. I thought that was at least sortta clear. I can go if you like?"

"No, that," Tony shook his head, laughing. "Wasn't quite what I meant. I just, it's sudden. Do you know what you're doing?"

"Sortta? I mean...I know why I'm here, just maybe not exactly what I'm doing?"

"Oh," Tony managed, trying to repress the flush of desire that caused. "I mean..." he trailed off when suddenly JARVIS beeped. Steve looked up, blinking slightly at that, but he didn't say anything at the moment.

"What?" Tony demanded, glaring at the window.

For a moment JARVIS didn't respond, and when he did he sounded almost confused. "Sir, there's a call for you."

"Can they wait?" Tony snapped.

"Sir, it's Steve Rogers."

The Steve who currently had his arms wrapped around Tony paused at that, not stepping back, but he was holding the other loosely enough that it wouldn't take much for the other to pull away.

Tony looked quickly between the man there and the window, finally stepping back and moving quickly over. "You're joking, right?"

"Sir, I would not," JARVIS protested. "All indications are that Steve Rogers is on the line."

The blond still standing near Tony's front door moved over and sat down on the couch. Damn.

"Put the call on," Tony said, moving a hand across the screen in front of him and trying not to lean against it.

There was no denying that the voice that came over the line was Captain America, "Tony? Glad you're back home. I wasn't sure which number to call so I figured I'd try there first. Listen, Fury wants us for a debrief, and you know how he'll get if you don't make it."

"He wants a debrief?" Tony asked. "Now?"

"We just got out of a very confusing battle. Of course he does. Fifteen minutes at SHIELD HQ," Steve's voice answered.

"And you're... back at the mansion then?" Tony asked, slowly.

"Yes? Shouldn't I be?"

"No idea," Tony said, turning and leaning back against the window.

The figure on his couch eyed him warily, before sighing and returning to the natural form of Loki, liesmith.

"...Alright. Well, I'll see you at the debrief then. Fifteen minutes, and try to make it on time this time."

"Oh, I won't," Tony said, eyes trained on Loki as his stomach curled.

Steve hung up. Loki, meanwhile, kept his gaze focused on the floor in front of the couch rather than on Stark. He'd erred. As he always did, it should no longer be a surprise.

"What was that?" Tony ground out.

"I thought it was what you wanted," he answered honestly, no guile in any of his words.

"You... how?" Tony demanded, hands tense at his side.

"He..." Loki drew a deep breath, "You lie to him. It's obvious what you mean when you look at him, when you speak to him, but you never say it. You never act on it. I thought that was what you wanted," he repeated, trying to dismiss the wrenching he felt in his gut as concern over the reception. His gifts had a way of backfiring on their giver.

For a long moment, Tony's jaw just worked before he shoved off from the wall, taking the space between them quickly before straddling the chaos god and pinning his shoulders back against the couch. "It was not what I wanted," he said, a snarl still in his voice. "Maybe you're right. That I want him. I have since I was in middle school and he was a stupid action figure my father used to talk about. But I do not want you as him."

Loki's hands moved to the other's shoulders instinctively, but he stopped himself just short of shoving the other off of him, he wasn't sure how far he would throw Stark if he attempted that. It wasn't quite panic that lit his eyes at being pinned by someone angry with him, but there was the briefest flash of fear in them before he gained control of himself and drew a breath, murmuring, "My mistake. I fear I have erred in my judgment."

"You are damn right you did!" Tony snapped.

Green eyes skirted over Stark's face and Loki swallowed, trying not to look anywhere near as vulnerable as he suddenly felt at having made another lapse in the gift someone desired. His voice was quiet when he spoke again, "I'll go, if you will get off of me."

"You're a piece of work," Tony murmured, hands moving up to tangle in Loki's hair. "You create a dragon illusion that doesn't actually damage anything... and then this. What do I do with this?"

Loki stilled at the touch, watching him warily and ready to depart in an instant if anything turned harsher than it had been a moment before, "What do you mean?"

"Why turn into Steve and show up?"

"Because I thought it is what you wanted," the god replied, confusion mixed with irritation briefly crossing his features.

"Alright," Tony said, shifting slightly from where he was still above the other. "Let's try it another way. Why give me what I want?"

Loki shrugged a shoulder, "Well, I did accidentally force you to travel to your nation's capital today."

For a long moment Tony frowned at him, hearing JARVIS beep and say he really needed to head out if he didn't want Fury to put his head up on a spike. "That's not really a reason, you know."

"Must I have a reason?"

"Maybe not," Tony shrugged one shoulder, ignoring JARVIS entirely to lean down and kiss the leaner man viciously. "Do not ever pretend to be someone you're not in my bed."

Loki let out a startled gasp at that. Whether from the kiss or the words, he couldn't say with any certainty, but he was unsure how to respond to either. An error in judgment such as he had committed was rarely received with anything but a rapid rejection at best. He drew a breath before his hands moved from where they still rested uncertainly against Stark's shoulders down to the other's waist. Hesitating for the first time in a long while, the god of chaos pressed up into a kiss, leaving it to the other to take out the anger for what he'd done as he pleased.

"Are we clear then?" Tony asked, a breath away from another kiss.

"Yes. I shall not be anyone but myself when I come to your bed."

"Good," Tony said, a smile on his face for a moment then. "And thanks, you know, for avoiding complete property damage of the capital."

"I was hardly there to infuriate your government, though the look on the All-father's face should I manage to cause war with Midgard and Asgard might be briefly amusing. It would hardly have suited my purposes," this was an area he finally felt secure in again and his tone slipped toward dismissive.

"Still," Tony said, pressing him against the couch. "It's nice not to show up in the newspaper for something like destroying the Washington monument." He leaned in for another kiss, this one slower but still a hard press of their mouths.

Loki hummed against Stark's mouth at that, his grip tightening ever so slightly on the other's hip. He should let him go, he really should. If the other was late the rest of the Avengers might get curious.

Pressing down, Tony arched his back slightly to better kiss the dark-haired god, shifting forward. That elicited something very close to a whine from the back of Loki's throat as his eyelids fluttered and he ran a hand around to the front of Anthony's waist and down, tracing the waistline of the other's pants.

"Well, since you're already here," Tony murmured against the kiss, working on pulling the shirt Loki was wearing off.

"You're going to be late again," the god of chaos drawled, barely breaking the kiss to divest the smaller man of his shirt as well.

"Don't remind me," Tony said, biting Loki's lower lip lightly.

"You can't just miss this one, can you?" the son of two kings and heir to none murmured as his fingers traced patterns over the other's chest almost absently.

"They can wait," Tony replied, using his grip on the back of Loki's head to pull him forward again.

o.o.o.o

A while later, Tony shifted, leaning back and considering the chaos god still under him, grinning. "So, Fury is probably going to kill me. Any parting words?"

Loki considered him solemnly for a moment before smirking, "Fare thee well, you have been a noble warrior in what time you have had upon this earth, may Valhalla be open unto you."

Crossing his arms over his bare chest and leaning back, Tony Stark glared at him a moment before shifting forward again and biting one of the marks he'd left on Loki's throat. "Thanks."

The Asgardian grinned faintly, tilting his head back, "Was that not what you meant?"

The smaller man rolled his eyes, thinking of best how to step back and actually make himself remotely presentable for a briefing he was beyond late for. "No. How about any insights to what actually happened today so I have some sort of a bargaining chip for my life?"

"There was a dragon released in the Mall of your capitol. I needed to fetch something."

"You're very difficult, you know that?" Tony said, leaning down and finding his shirt again, considering it before going to his room to find another one. "What were you looking for, and seriously, why?" He came back out of his room, giving Loki a long look, new shirt still in one hand. "Why make a dragon that did no damage?"

The chaos god sat up, reaching for his own clothes and starting to pull them on, "I see no reason to destroy a source of knowledge such as exists in that location. And what I was looking for is not really something I'm interested in sharing with SHIELD, if you'll kindly pardon me."

"Not even to keep me alive to continue doing this?" Tony joked, leaning forward and running a hand through Loki's dark hair.

Appearing to consider that, Loki leaned back and smoothed his hair down again, "When you put it that way, I can only say that it was not something that was on display. It was left in the vaults to collect dust and quite likely to rot away to nothing, which truly would have been a shame." He shook his head, "You people really have no idea of the treasures you possess."

The smaller man blinked at him once and grinned. "We often don't." Reaching a hand out, he traced over several of the marks he made on Loki's neck with his thumb. "Will you stay here? Or come back later?"

"I was hoping to get some research completed tonight," came the reply. He reconsidered after a moment, taking into account the mess he'd made of his attempt at offering Stark a gift of sorts earlier, "I may be able to return later, however."

"No big," Tony shrugged, stepping back. "If I survive this briefing it's probably going to be a boring night. I'll be more then able to figure out something." Smoothing a hand over his own hair he grabbed the keys to one of his sleek sports car on the way to the door. "I'm sure I'll see you around."

"I am sure you shall," the god replied as he gathered the last remnants of his clothing. He certainly could bring the spell book to the penthouse, but it was possible that he would need some of the other accoutrements that he kept at his residence. Pausing for another minute, he finally came to a decision and vanished.

o.o.o.o

A very fast drive later and Tony was stalking into SHIELD headquarters, swagger and smirk firmly in place, aware he'd done little to bother to hide what he'd been doing rather than attend the debrief. He might as well go down in style after all.

Nick Fury looked up as the inventor entered the room, his one eye narrowing dangerously at him, "So glad you could grace us with your presence at last, Mr. Stark."

"I'm sure I didn't miss anything important," he said, grin firmly in place as he slid into his seat.

Natasha shook her head at him from across the table, "Did you make it back to bed between our return and now, Tony?"

"No," he said, grin still firmly in place. "Not nearly all the way to bed." Clint shot him a long look before shaking his head, really not willing to press anything further.

Fury was still glaring at the late arrival, "Alright. Back to business. The dragon didn't cause any damage, and you all say it turned into smoke. The news says similar things. I want explanations on why. And on what was the point of the whole thing."

"We think he was using it as a diversion, sir," Steve offered quietly.

"A diversion from what, Rogers? And why not have it wreck everything as well?" Fury looked at Cap and then around the table.

"He was looking for something in the archives, or in the back storage of some museum," Tony said with a shrug, leaning back in the chair and looking for all the world like he was about to put his feet up on the table, hair still a little wild from earlier. It probably didn't help that the tee-shirt he was wearing rode rather low on his neckline.

Natasha, Steve, and Fury all turned to stare at him, though Natasha spoke first, "You sound pretty sure about that. And it still doesn't explain the dragon."

"Sure it does. If whatever he was looking for wasn't on display he'd need the time to find it. Besides, do you really think he'd be the type to destroy knowledge?" Tony asked, wishing he'd remembered his sunglasses on the way out the door. "So, the dragon doesn't cause damage to sources or materials he might need later, but keeps us distracted enough to find what he wants."

Black Widow's brows rose as she considered him, but she leaned back in her chair and looked at Fury. Nick, for his part, still looked unimpressed, but gritted his teeth and nodded very slightly, "That's possible. Rogers and Barton mentioned a magical boost, anyone got any light to shed on that one?"

"No idea, but my suit's power went up," Tony shrugged.

"Anyone?" Fury glanced around.

Steve shrugged very slightly, "He's shown he likes to give a challenge, but maybe he got bored?"

"Why let you beat him?"

"If he was bored he wouldn't stick around to watch us keep struggling with it, so why not end it?" Cap offered. It might be easier to say anything more conclusive if Thor had been there, but as the thunder god was out of state for another day that point was negated.

"So what's the point of debriefing if we have no ideas?" Tony asked, still lounging back in his chair, getting odd looks from time to time from the various people around the table.

"The point, Stark, is to figure out what we know, and what we might know and see if we can act on it," Fury answered sharply, frowning at him.

"We're guessing," he replied, flippant. "That's not knowing anything and certainly a pointless exercise in dragging us all over here when we have more important things to do." Technically, he wasn't guessing. That didn't mean he necessarily believed what Loki had told him, but he appeared to know more than anyone else in the room. Mainly though, Tony just wanted to get away from the stare of one Steve Rogers. It wasn't the blond's fault he suddenly had a memory of kissing him stuck in his head. Mentally he reminded himself he hadn't ever actually kissed Captain America, and started running through an equation for designing a better blast radius for the suit instead.

"We went over much of what was known during the time you missed." Fury growled, "How much did he up the power on your suit?"

"Don't remember," he said, mind too distracted by other numbers.

Natasha glanced at Fury and the way his jaw tensed again. She spoke first, "Could Loki overload your suit? Or gain manipulation of it somehow?"

That got Tony's attention. "What? No."

"You're sure?" Black Widow looked at him for a long moment, "If there's the slightest chance I'd like to know, because if I'm walking into battle with a bomb at my side that the enemy can set off it would be nice to be aware of it. On the other hand, can he shut it down?"

"Oh, I'm the bomb now?" Tony asked, pushing his chair back and standing. "No, he cannot get into my suit. I have a system of safe guards. However, being given a power boost is entirely different, and something the suit takes in after Thor ratcheted my power levels up that one time. Now, if you'll excuse me," he snapped, and not waiting for anyone's permission turned and stalked out.

Natasha watched him go, not unduly surprised, though she blinked when Steve's chair scraped against the floor. Cap glanced at Fury, "I'll go see if I can calm him down, but don't count on him coming back in." With those words he exited the room, glancing up and down the hall and spotting the smaller man, "Hey, Tony, wait up!"

Stopping before he thought the motion through, Tony turned. "What, Capsicle?" It was an old nickname and one he knew better than to pull out. Most of the time.

Steve's eyes narrowed, but he chose not to rise to the bait, "She didn't mean it like that. She's just worried. Heck, I'm worried. But not about your suit since I trust you when you say he can't get in it," he quickly added. "My shield was acting strangely during that fight and if there's a chance he can use any of us against the others it would be nice to know."

"Next time? Call someone else the walking bomb, alright?" he snapped, shaking his head. "Look, I know my own suit and I know his magic—sortta. I know it is magic and magic and science don't mix. So leave off."

The other reached out to set a hand on Tony's shoulder, his expression varying slightly between hurt and concern, "Hey, I didn't say that, and like I said, she was worried. We've all got something lethal in our hands out there and it's a risk we take. I think we're all just a bit shaken up by today. We don't actually think that about you, Tony."

Jerking his shoulder down, Tony rolled it out of the other's grip. It wasn't even what the other man was saying—it was what Loki had shown up looking like earlier. "Alright, thanks. Look, you're getting worked up on my account over nothing. I'm fine." Everyone in the world should have been able to see through that lie when he pulled it out and yet no one except Pepper ever seemed to.

Steve hesitated before drawing his hand back, "I don't think it's nothing. It was out of line for her to say that, and you're sure you're fine? Cause the way you stormed out sure didn't look like it."

"I'm Tony Stark," he said with a grin. "If I didn't storm out of a meeting at least once a month, I'm below my quota. Besides, the entire thing is a farce when it comes to figuring things out."

The grin was met with a worried frown, "I just, I don't want you to leave with bad blood here, y'know? I mean, shucks, I can see needing to cool down, but maybe don't let it simmer while you're waiting? And debriefs are helpful sometimes, maybe not all the time, but it gets the perspective from just about everyone who was there rather than just the one view from the report."

For a moment Tony couldn't remember why he'd ever considered kissing this man. "Uh-huh. Enjoy your boy band," he said, turning on his heel again.

"Tony, just wait a minute, would you?" He sighed, "That…I just mean…y'know what? Never mind. You want to have your big exit, take it. Just remember we don't see you like that. You're not a walking bomb, you're the smartest guy on the team and God knows we need you."

Stopping, Tony's shoulder's sagged minutely. "What else were you going to say?"

"Mostly that," Steve admitted. "You're an important part of this, Tony. Just cause we don't always say it, and sometimes say things we really shouldn't, doesn't mean it isn't true. Heck, I'm pretty sure some of us wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for you."

"You are such a boy scout," Tony said with a small shake of his head and a fond smile. "But if that's all?"

The corner of Cap's mouth turned up into a slightly rueful smile, "Yeah, that's all. Take care, Tony." Waving a hand at him, Tony took quick strides outside, really not wanting to deal with anything currently in that building.

Chapter Text

Loki finally set aside the spell book after having spent hours poring over the tome and trying to see if it really was all that the rumors had claimed. Thus far it appeared that while it would be of use, many of the spells were simply the groundwork of more complex incantations. Which probably meant it was to be used in accord with another volume. It always seemed to be the way, he would find what he thought was the last component only to discover that yet another, rarer piece was still needed.

Closing the book, the Asgardian rose, smoothing his hair down, and placing a sealing spell on the cover of the tome. He glanced toward the clock on his wall, nearly hidden behind a shelf of books and crystals. There were a few options for what to do with the rest of his night, but after the events of that day and the magic he had used at the Mall, practicing spells was probably the last thing his body needed. He picked up his overcoat and scarf, draping them over his arm before vanishing.

His final destination hadn't been entirely solid in his mind and he was moderately surprised to find himself standing outside of Stark's penthouse. Hesitating for a moment, Loki finally knocked on the door. He was already there, he might as well make the most of it.

There was a brief scuffling sound, and something got knocked over before Tony appeared at the door, blinking owlishly at the chaos god. His hair was rumpled from falling asleep on the couch, and he'd been out drinking for most of the afternoon.

Loki arched an eyebrow at the other's appearance, "May I come in?"

"If you'd like," he said with an unsteady shrug.

Stepping inside, the god of chaos set his coat down near the door, "You reek of alcohol."

"That happens when you drink a lot of it," Tony shrugged.

"Did your meeting go that badly?" He glanced over his shoulder a the smaller man.

"Oh that was fine," Tony said, waving a hand.

Loki turned to face him, crossing his arms over his chest, "You're completely drunk and that was fine?"

"Yeah?" Tony offered, still leaning unsteadily on the door. "Why?"

"Because you look like death," the god murmured, but shook his head. "I should not have come."

"Then why did you?" Tony asked, tilting his head and looking the taller over for a moment.

"You had asked me if I would, and I never gave you an answer," he answered with a shrug.

"You're very pretty, you know that?" Tony asked, only having half listened to Loki's answer.

That garnered a long blink, "And you, sir, are very drunk."

"You say that like it's an unnatural state for me," Tony said, taking a step forward, and sliding a hand behind Loki's head. "Doesn't change the fact you know. I think the same thing the rest of the time too."

"You..." The liesmith searched the other's eyes and words and tone and form for any hint of a falsehood and found none. He started to step back, his green eyes widening as he shook his head, unable to explain that, "That...you can't mean that."

Tony stumbled when his support moved back. "Course I do," he tapped at Loki's chest. "You are very pretty." He would have used some other adjectives too, but his mind was not supplying them.

Loki offered him a ghost of a smile, shaking his head as once again he found no lie waiting for him in the words or actions. He ran a hand through Anthony's hair for a moment, "You are drunk, but I don't know that it's a bad thing tonight."

Tilting into the touch, Tony offered him the ghost of a smile. "That's not something I'm used to hearing." Mostly from Pepper or Rhodey, who had long since gotten scolding him down to an art. Shifting his head again, he moved forward to lean against the taller, needing and desiring physical touch even more when inebriated.

"I find that only a fair trade," the god of mischief murmured, his arms going around the other in support.

"What's fair trade?" Tony asked against his chest.

"Saying something you're not used to hearing after you have done the same."

"I'm surprised you're not used to hearing it," he muttered. "It's sort of obvious."

Loki's brows rose, "That is your opinion, Anthony."

"No it's not," Tony murmured, swaying slightly against the other man. "It sneaks up on you sure, but there's very few people who wouldn't think you pretty. Probably your personality that puts them off."

"Well, that's not something that will change any time in the near future," the god replied, steadying the inventor.

Tony giggled. "No, I wouldn't think it would."

Loki smirked at him, leaning down and kissing the other briefly, "You don't sound like you mind much."

"I don't," Tony said, pressing into the kiss. "Enjoy you as you are," he smirked.

The son of Frigga looked taken aback for a moment before offering a bit of a smile, "Which I do suppose is a good thing." He tightened his arm around Stark's waist, pulling him a bit closer.

"Glad you approve," Tony said, pressing himself up and down against the taller.

His breath catching at that motion, the Asragrdian leaned down and captured the other's mouth in a biting kiss. Melting down into the kiss, alcohol making him pliant, Tony made a soft, long sound into the kiss, simply holding on. Loki smirked slightly against the kiss, his hand slipping under the smaller man's shirt and tracing up his spine.

"God," Tony breathed. He shifted, arching his spine against the other's cool fingers. His hands came up, not quite pulling on Loki's hair but very close.

Loki tilted his head further down to nip at Anthony's throat, his gaze drifting toward the door to the bedroom even as he considered the other's assurance that there were rugs actually designed with the idea of comfort in mind.

Taking another shaky breath, Tony traced a hand across Loki's face, drifting down and stopping near the corner of his mouth.

Loki completely froze at that touch, his mind suddenly years ago and realms away. He could feel hands on his head holding him still and the hard floor of Asgard's great hall against his back. His green eyes wide, and pain shooting across his lips, he could swear that he was able to taste blood again as the needle was stabbed through them.

One hand shot up to grip Stark's wrist tightly as the Asgardian regained enough of himself to yank back from the touch. He could feel the mortal's bones and how fragile they were and came to his senses before he did any permanent damage to the wrist, "Don't touch those." He released Stark's wrist and took a step back, away from the other.

Mouth twisting in pain, Tony raised his eyes to look at Loki's. "Okay," he managed, pain in his voice but otherwise he didn't react to it.

The god's eyes swept over Tony's face, reminding himself of where he was and that the other had meant no harm in the touch. The pain was phantom, non-existent or at least not in existence anymore, "I..." He drew a breath, "I-I'm sorry, I should not have done that."

"I noticed the scars before, you know," Tony said quietly, still swaying slightly before he shook his head, making his way over to the couch and sinking back down again.

Loki hesitated for a long moment before moving to the couch and perching on the far arm, "I have no doubt of that, I just do not take well to them being touched."

"Yeah," Tony laughed, the sound directed at himself as he looked over his wrist, assessing the damage and dismissing it. "I noticed."

His gaze darted toward the other, a glance directed at the bruise already forming on the other's wrist, "Did I hurt you badly?"

"It'll hurt more in the morning," Tony shrugged. "But it's not that bad. I get worse bruises testing stuff in the lab."

"...I should not have reacted that way, you could not have known."

"I'll ice it in the morning," Tony said, weighing the pros and cons of just falling asleep on the couch again.

Loki dropped his gaze to his hands, "I should let you sleep, you look as though you need it." Besides, it was best for him to go before he managed to do more damage. He couldn't afford another memory arising out of nowhere that night.

Giving him a long look, Tony rose again, and though still not quite steady, he managed to hook an arm around Loki's waist as he walked toward the bedroom, pulling the taller god with him.

Startling at that, the Asgardian almost dug in his heels to avoid the motion, but let himself be guided into the bedroom. He offered the smaller man an uncertain look at the choice though, "You're certain you want me here?"

Tony made a noncommittal sound, but the fact his arm was still around Loki's waist as he tumbled into the bed, taking the other with him, was the proof he was willing to give.

The god startled, but turned over, kicking off his shoes and loosening the cuffs and collar of his shirt. He glanced at Anthony again, but left it alone not sure he wanted to press the issue.

The smaller man twisted around for a moment before he settled behind the other, pressing his face against Loki's cooler skin.

Loki lay still, drawing deep breaths and hoping he could calm his heart rate down. He wasn't certain he could sleep with someone so close, though if he dismissed his extra wards it might be possible. Hesitating for a moment, he considered turning to face the other and quickly dismissed it again as unviable. He finally just murmured, "Do sleep, Anthony."

"With you here, like this?" he managed after a few breaths.

"If you think you can," the Asgardian answered softly.

Tony laughed. "I'm just trying to decide..."

That garnered a smirk as the taller being finally turned over to face him, "And here I thought you needed sleep."

"Oh, I do," Tony said, sliding a leg over Loki's. "But I've never been known to do what's needed or healthy for me."

"And you'll remember this come morning?" The other asked, smirk still in place but something in his eyes that belied it.

"I have great memory retention," Tony replied. "Why?"

He shook his head, "No real reason." The god leaned in and kissed the smaller being with slightly more gentleness than usual.

Tony sighed, pressing up into the kiss and wrapping his arms around Loki's shoulders.

The god rolled them over, Stark underneath him. He braced himself over the smaller man while not breaking the kiss. Nipping at the other's lower lip, he hummed against the kiss, "You make so little sense."

"I make little sense?" Tony protested. "How am I not making sense?"

"When taken in context of yourself I suppose you do, but you do not respond as many do."

Tony batted at his chest. "How do you think I should respond then?"

Loki smirked down at him, "Do you really think I'm going to offer you step-by-step guidance of how you should act around a trickster god if you wish to appear remotely normal?"

"Write me a list sometime," Tony smirked.

The taller being shook his head slightly, leaning down to kiss his lover hard.

Tony made a soft sound of want, arching up into the kiss and pulling Loki's head down further.

Loki chuckled, though the sound caught in his throat as he ran a hand over Anthony's skin under the other's shirt.

"You are very pretty," Tony said, drawing back enough to catch the other's green eyes for just a moment before allowing himself to be distracted by another kiss.

Loki shook his head very slightly, but simply returned the kiss, dismissing any thought outside of the other's touch from his mind.

o.o.o.o

The next time Tony woke up, he thought he could see dawn coming in through the windows.

Loki shifted slightly, blinking himself drowsily awake. He was doing his best to ignore the fact that he had left his wards down over night. Turning his head he watched his bedmate for a long moment before stretching languidly.

Tony shifted, burying his head between Loki's shoulders, letting the cool skin soothe his headache. "I didn't know you cuddled," he managed, sorting through his thoughts.

"Cuddled?" The god murmured a bit blearily. His eyes may have been open, but without the magic he usually used to make himself wake he was still coming out of the haze of sleep.

Grinning against his shoulder blades, Tony traced a figure on the god's stomach, hands wandering aimlessly. "Never mind."

Loki blinked slowly, looking down at the other's hand, "What are you doing?"

"Nothing," Tony said, tracing an equation for flight across Loki's skin.

The Asgardian closed his eyes, tilting his head back and focusing on the touch to see if he could decipher it. It came up as numbers and mathematics, not as anything he was used to seeing written, but the motion was a familiar one—he had the habit of tracing runes half the time. Opening his eyes again he smiled lazily, "Numbers, Anthony?"

Starting on a graph, Tony just smiled lazily. "Hm. Yeah."

That earned a faint laugh, "How very you."

Tony just snorted. "How very me indeed. Do you mind?"

"No, I don't believe I do," Loki answered lazily.

Humming, Tony nuzzled against the back of Loki's ear, still tracing patterns and equations into his skin. "Loki," he said the name carefully. "What happened earlier?"

The trickster's gaze locked on the wall, his body tensing, "What do you mean?"

"Well, there's that whole thing from earlier, and the fact my wrist aches, and a whole host of other things, including your reaction to the word pretty. So, how many issues did I hit in twenty-four hours?"

Loki smiled lazily, "A half dozen at least." He sighed, finally answering honestly, "Probably only two or three, in truth."

"Do I get to hear them?" Tony asked, for the moment paying more attention to Loki's ear then any answer.

"I..." He tilted his head away slightly so he could concentrate, "People don't usually...well, I'm not entirely sure what to tell you."

"Well, you can start somewhere," Tony said, dropping his attention to Loki's neck, tracing over some of the marks he'd made the afternoon before.

The god swallowed at that, "Most don't see me as you do. I am a trickster, and given their preference I am sure many of my lovers would have taken me as someone else when given the choice."

"What's the point of sleeping with someone if you aren't actually sleeping with them?" Tony asked.

"To ignore the fact that you cannot have the one you wish," Loki answered simply.

Tony snorted. "Alright, ignoring whatever happened this afternoon? Who do you think is out there I couldn't have if I really wanted?"

That garnered a faint smile, "Very few, I am sure."

"Besides, asking you to be someone else because they'd prefer to bed that person... that's unfair." He frowned, fingers still moving and nose buried somewhere in Loki's hair.

"There are few things in any realm that are fair, Anthony. And rarely did they need to ask," came the murmured response.

"So what, you automatically changed forms for them?"

Loki closed his eyes with a sigh, "Sometimes."

Tony mumbled something that didn't sound pleased before trailing a string of kisses along his shoulder. "Okay. I don't know, I'm more honest when hung over. But, I don't need you to be anyone else. If I wanted them, I'd be chasing them. Okay?"

A corner of the trickster's lips quirked upward, "I'll keep that in mind."

"Good," he said, and paused as his fingers went through an equation he'd been working on for weeks. Suddenly he was out of the bed, scrambling around for his tablet, typing the new numbers in quickly.

Loki startled at that, sitting up, "What...?"

"Just a second," he said quickly, hands moving across the screen, smiling as it checked out and he quietly typed in a command to JARVIS to go through the results again and institute them. He slid back under the covers, leaving the tablet within reach. "Just a passing thought."

The sorcerer shook his head, chuckling, "Can't have that get lost after all."

"No," Tony agreed, shifting around so this time he was laying in front of the other rather than behind.

Loki hesitated for a moment before reaching out and combing a hand through Stark's hair, "I probably ought to be on my way in the near future."

"I'll probably just go back to sleep," Tony murmured.

"Shall I leave you to that then?"

"If you have someplace to be," Tony shrugged. He wouldn't mind the other staying, but he could hardly expect it either.

Loki shook his head, but he really ought to be gone before the urge to admit anything about his scars arose.

"Well, it's up to you of course," he said, offering the other a strained smile.

Considering the other for a long moment, the Asgardian slid a bit further under the blankets, "I have to say I'm rather comfortable here at the moment."

That got a small smirk. "Well, I have very nice beds."

Loki returned the expression, "You do indeed, though I can't say how the others compare to this one."

"I think one's too hot for you, and the other is well... only a hallway or two away from your brother," Tony said. "Though, with air conditioning, you might enjoy Malibu. It has a nicer view."

"I can handle the heat, I just do not tend to prefer it."

"Well," Tony rolled his shoulder, one hand resting on the hollow of Loki's hip. "I mean, the jet has a nice enough bed too, but it's a jet."

Loki smirked, "That does seem rather to require flight to experience that particular bed, just on principle."

"I think it's the idea behind it," he replied. "I haven't used the jet in a while."

"Usually it's best to have an excuse to do so, though I suppose you use that suit of yours a good deal more now?"

Tony laughed. "The suit's faster. The jet only comes out if someone else needs a ride too."

That earned a grin, "Which makes sense, it still means that your jet goes rather unused. You may need an excuse to take it up again."

Tony smiled. "Sure. Maybe sometime."

Loki found himself relaxing again as he stopped trying to figure out how to evade anything regarding his scars and simply allowed himself to enjoy the other's company.

o.o.o.o

The next afternoon found Tony at SHIELD headquarters, trying to discuss security measures and response times, and a new technology with one of the scientists there. Honestly, he should have been bouncing his ideas of Bruce Banner, but the man had turned into the Hulk earlier that morning and hadn't fully calmed down yet since.

Steve came down the hall from a meeting with Fury, stopping by the labs to see how the scientists were doing, greeting several of them by name before he spotted Tony. He made his way over, listening in the vague way he tended to when science was discussed. It interested him, but most of it tended to go a bit over his head.

Glancing over, Tony noticed the soldier and wondered if he could get away with ignoring him. Personally, Tony disliked dealing with other scientists, but it was part of being a team, and it was sort of nice to have a sounding board. Finally, the woman needed to get back to her work, and Tony turned to Steve. "Need anything?"

"Came down to say hi to some of these folks and saw you." The blond shrugged, "Wanted to see how you're doing."

"Perfectly alright," Tony said, crossing his arms over his chest, arc reactor showing through the tee-shirt he was wearing.

Steve looked like he was going to press the issue in some vague way, but his eyes were drawn to the dark outlines of the bruise on Tony's wrist, made all the more startling in the glow of the arc reactor, "What happened?"

"Look, would you drop yesterday already?" Tony said, not realizing what Steve was referring to.

Cap shook his head, finally reaching out and brushing his fingers over Tony's arm just above the bruise, "I did. I meant this."

Eyes going down Tony considering strangling a certain god. "Oh. That. Accident."

Steve frowned, "Accident? Those look like finger marks."

"Oh, do they?" Tony asked, looking down. They did. If he protested accident again, it was going to look like he was covering something.

"What happened, Tony? Who did this?"

"Dummy," Tony deadpanned back.

Steve looked completely unimpressed by that, his frown deepening, "Tony..."

"What? Nothing of note happened, it was just some stupid accident. I'm not in some abusive relationship that's unhealthy for me, or whatever you're starting to get worried about," Tony dismissed. After all, he was pretty sure no one would describe Loki as a "relationship."

His teammate looked at him for a long moment and then sighed, "Fine, I won't ask. Or rather I won't ask more, but if you need anything, get a hold of me, yeah?"

Tony's jaw worked for a moment and he nodded. "Sure. Just, don't come up with any stupid theories about this, alright? It really wasn't anything."

Steve still didn't look like he believed that, but he finally nodded, "Alright. You say it wasn't anything, I'll take you at your word. You coming by the mansion any time soon?"

"Does that mean I should do more team bonding or something?" Tony asked.

"No, it means it's technically your house and we never see you."

"I have lots of houses," he said, grinning easily, not noticing the lie in that type of smile anymore.

"Pepper said you haven't been to Malibu in a while either," Steve rejoined, the comment holding some significance since that's where Dummy was.

"I have a lovely penthouse too you know," he replied. "Would it make you feel better if I ended up in Malibu for a while?"

"That's not what I said, and not what I meant and you know it." Steve sighed, "Fine. Whatever you choose to do, Tony. I just hope you know what you're doing."

His grin would have blinded the press. "I'm Tony Stark," he said. "I always know what I'm doing."

Steve offered him a bit of a crooked smile and finally nodded, "Alright, well I gotta get back. Take care, Tony."

Waving him off, Tony nodded. "Sure, you too."

Steve finally turned and left, heading back to the mansion.

Rubbing a hand over his mouth, Tony considered before taking the opposite way out, deciding Malibu really did need a good dusting off.

Chapter Text

A handful of days later, Loki found himself in the hallway outside of Stark's penthouse. He really needed to find a different distraction, but nothing cleared his head quite the way a night spent in Anthony Stark's company did. He'd been holed up in his chosen place of residence pouring over multiple tomes for the last few days and making discoveries in their depths that he hadn't seen before in all his eons of studying magic. Rather than consider what that actually meant he rapped sharply on the door, it was late enough that Stark ought to be home.

Except there was no sound from the inside and the door didn't open.

He frowned at that, trying again. When there was no answer to his third attempt he finally gave up and appeared in the penthouse, looking around.

JARVIS flickered to life at the intrusion. "Are you looking for my creator, Mr. Loki?"

The slender being startled, whirling at the sound before recognizing it, "I was, yes."

"He is currently not residing here," JARVIS said, sounding like he didn't want to give that information out but he wanted the god in his space even less.

"So I can see," Loki frowned very slightly. "Where is he then?"

"My master is at another one of his houses," JARVIS replied. "He has a limited number of them."

"Considering how well he appears to get on with certain teammates I will make the assumption it is not the mansion then," the god nodded once. "Thank you." With that he vanished.

If he'd been programmed to do it, JARVIS would have sighed.

Loki spent the better part of the next hour trying to find a scrying spell that would give him not only a glimpse of where Stark was, but also how far away it was. Once he had those two bits of information he wove a teleportation spell like he hadn't done for many years. Closing his eyes he only hoped it would get him where he needed it to.

He opened his eyes to find himself standing in a corner of what appeared to be a garage, but that wasn't entirely an accurate assessment, he quickly amended. Stark was seated with his back toward him at a workbench and there was a good amount of engineering materials scattered about. A lab then. Anthony's lab. In Malibu. The god of chaos stepped from the shadows, speaking just to see the other's reaction, "Your butler informed me that you weren't at the penthouse."

Eyes snapping wide, Tony froze, hands suddenly going flat against the keyboard he was working on, and the screen almost squawked in protest at so many buttons being hit at once. Breathing back under control, Tony whirled. "What are you doing here?"

Watching Stark for a moment, the trickster filed that reaction away and determined not to attempt that for a long while yet, "I went by the penthouse to clear my head and was informed you were here and not there." He considered that, "Actually I was informed that you were elsewhere, I had to discover the here part myself."

Tony looked over at one of his screens, and something scrolled by, possibly shameful. "Right. Good boy JARVIS, I'll give you a biscuit later." He leaned back against the edge of the work table, a hand covering the arc reactor again, unconscious in the movement. "So you wanted to stop by to clear your head?"

Gaze drifting to the arc reactor, Loki reminded himself to look into what he could find about that, perhaps ask Stark sometime when he was drunk. The god of mischief nodded very slightly, "Something like that. Mostly I needed to actually get out of my residences and interact with someone in a modern tongue."

"Well, I do have a very modern tongue," Tony said, distracted still and swallowed again past his dry throat. Standing, he went to the fridge he had packed away in the corner, Dummy coming up to bump against him in confusion on his way. Patting the droid, he rifled around quickly before turning back to Loki, water in one hand. "And you can transport all the way out to Malibu?"

"Not daily, and not frequently. I have not had to weave a spell of this sort for quite some time, and would rather not do it often." Though he'd moved out of the shadows, Loki had positioned himself so he was leaning on one of the worktables to lend him some support while his legs stopped shaking. Between rebuilding his normal scrying spells, sending out a last minute one to glimpse where he would be ending up, and then transporting thousands of miles his body was tired, though his mind was attentive.

Tony looked him over, taking in probably more than the other wanted him to notice—but Tony was good at noticing details. "Good to know where some of your limits are."

Loki frowned slightly at that, "Shorter spells would have been better, but I did not wish to appear in the middle of one of your highways."

"Right," Tony said, glancing over at where JARVIS was directing assembly on the other side of the lab, You dropped something important and he winced.

"May I ask what you are working on, or should I leave as I came?"

"Well," Tony tilted his head. "You don't need to show yourself the door, but you might excuse me remaining somewhat tight lipped on the subject and Dummy!" he snapped out as the helper careened off the wrong way. "Please don't make me threaten you with donation again!" The droid whistled and carried on exactly as it had been.

Loki tilted his head to one side, watching the two droids, "You built them?"

"Yeah," Tony said, moving over to make sure things were on track, shutting off the 3D display as he went. "A long time ago."

That garnered a slight twitch of the god's lips upward. "They are more your children than anywhere you reside," he spoke, referencing a conversation from weeks before.

Tony's shoulders stiffened and he swallowed finally. "I, yeah, you could say something like that."

Loki's gaze turned back to Stark at that, "Have I said something wrong?"

"No," he said and regretted it, the lie obvious. The thought of his possible "children" being his creations in a much more literal way then he could ever have been Howard Stark's made him want to throw something, or possibly get very drunk again.

The youngest prince of Asgard finally moved away from the table he was leaning on and made his way over to the other man, "I did not mean to bring up bitter memories. I simply meant..." he shook his head, "Never mind. I won't justify it. I did not mean to bring those up."

"Yeah, I know what you meant," he said, turning away again and making sure things were progressing as they should be on the newest version of the suit he was building.

I am not certain you do. Loki sighed, but nodded, "I should leave you to your work, I suppose."

"Most of it is self sufficient," Tony said, not turning yet.

Loki bit back the questions that sprang to his lips, glancing around and pausing at the sight of a small glass cube, holding what appeared to be an early version of Anthony's arc reactor. He picked it up, considering the words etched within it, murmuring them, "Proof that Tony Stark has a heart."

Tony's head whipped around at that and he thought his heart—or arc reactor rather—lurched. He'd forgotten he'd had the thing reframed after the battle where it had been the only thing keeping him alive. It was the only award in his entire lab.

Running a finger along the edge of the cube, the Asgardian considered it for another moment before finally setting it down carefully again, "I'm surprised people find the need of proof."

Swallowing, Tony tried not to think too hard about Loki's fingers and his heart being so close together. "Lots of people need the proof of that."

Loki shook his head, speaking before thinking, "Then lots of people are fools."

For a long moment Tony just stared at him. "Come on, I'm the playboy billionaire, known for creating weapons. You know my nickname used to be the Merchant of Death, right?"

"That was before I came to Midgard, so no I was unaware of it." The god of chaos shrugged slightly, "I still think that it is rather unfair to judge you as heartless."

"I didn't do anything to dissuade them of the notion," Tony said, shrugging and eyes looking at the tiny arc reactor he built in a cave, not adding aloud, Except Pepper.

"Though you have since. Has the public's view changed?"

"I managed to privatize world peace for a while," Tony replied with a grin.

That earned a wry smile, "And then along came the supervillains."

"Something like that," Tony agreed. "Well, and it couldn't last. Military people are such morons." He was thinking more specifically of Ross than anyone else, but the idea of war itself was, to some degree, moronic on its own.

"Warriors need something to fight for," Loki responded, not necessarily contradicting him.

"Well, we have supervillians now," Tony said and something crashed behind him.

The god of chaos glanced toward the sound, "Yes, you all rather do. And a ragtag bunch of warriors as well."

Making a small "heh" sound, Tony looked over his shoulder to make sure nothing had gone too far out of control. "So, you came an awful long way."

"It is rather a distance, but it was not really out of my way, when I could be back in a moment," though likely not for a couple hours if he didn't want to collapse when he returned to his accommodations.

Tony considered him, not commenting on how he'd been leaning against the nearest furniture after appearing. "Well, I have a very nice house here. At least everyone tells me it's a nice house, and I do find it rather tasteful if a bit ostentatious myself."

Loki glanced toward where he could see the stairs up to the main house, "Was that an offer for a tour?"

"If you give me a minute," Tony replied, turning to make sure there was nothing else he needed to deal with or that couldn't be left out. He left his lab to its own devices plenty of time, but usually he had some preparation beforehand.

Watching him for a moment, the god nodded, "But of course." He would hardly ask the other to leave anything that needed tended, he himself would not come away for such a request after all.

Turning to see if there was anything he actually could understand at a half-glance, Loki paused. He moved over and picked up what appeared to be a half-made shield greatly resembling the one carried by Captain America, "Anthony?"

"What?" Tony asked, turning after his last sweep.

The chaos god simply lifted the shield and arched an eyebrow.

"What about it?" Tony protested, looking it over. "I mean, that was from a couple years ago."

"What is it? Or rather what was it intended to be?"

"A shield prototype," Tony shrugged. "It never got very far."

"Quite the design," he murmured, testing the heft of it and the weight it likely would have carried had it been finished.

"Never lived up to the original," Tony replied, shifting from one foot to the other.

That earned a long look, "No I do not suppose it did." He finally set the half-made shield down, considering the white star on it again.

"Something bothering you?" the inventor asked.

"Why would it be?"

Picking up the shield, Tony turned it over a couple times. "You have really expressive eyes. Also, you picked this out of the entire lab."

"It seems a familiar design," was the only answer he received.

"Yeah, because I think Captain America brained you with one really similar once," Tony said, one eyebrow inching up.

"Yes, he did," Loki answered. "You admire him greatly."

"Sure I do," Tony said. "Teammate and teamwork and all that."

The god arched a brow at that, but shook his head, "No, it's more than that." He sighed, looking at the prototype again, "You love him."

"What?" Tony practically squawked, hands tightening on the shield he was still holding. He'd once worked so hard on it, but in the last few months it'd been used to level things or as a doorstop more than a serious project. "No," he said, shaking his head. "I have a schoolboy crush, sure. It may have gotten worse after seeing him in person too, but love's going a bit far. Adoration and hero-worship? Sure. But love requires more than that." His fingers curled around the edge of the prototype and he hoped there was no lie—even to himself—in there for the glimpse of truth it might have revealed.

Loki looked at him, confusion creasing his brow, "You...I thought..." There was no falsity to the other's words or thoughts. It was genuine, but how could he have been so wrong on that count?

"What'd you think?" Tony asked, putting the prototype back down and kicking it under the table.

He shook his head, "I do not know. I seem to be continually mistaken around you, and I'm not accustomed to it."

The inventor smirked, stepping around the other and letting a hand rest on his waist. "Mistaken?"

Loki blinked down at the hand, but nodded very slightly, "Somewhat. I just am still unsure about your opinions of Rogers. You lie far less about him that I had thought."

Tony laughed softly. "There's really no point in lying to you is there?"

Loki smirked at that, "Lying to a god of lies is not something to be recommended, no."

Tony leaned up, kissing him instead of replying. Rather than dwell on the thoughts any further, the god wrapped an arm around Anthony's waist and drew him closer as he tilted his head into the kiss.

After a moment, Tony drew back. As much as he was willing to postulate sex in the lab, he was fairly certain that would leave him too vulnerable, emotionally, to the other. The lab was his home, not the rooms above. And usually only Pepper and Rhodey got to see this one. "Still interested in a tour?"

Loki offered him another smirk and shrugged slightly, "If you're still interested in giving it."

"I should really print up brochures or something," Tony said, leaving one arm hooked loosely around Loki's waist. "The house is interesting enough for it."

That garnered a quiet laugh, "Yes, but if you did something like that then you would have to consider opening it up to a more public tour."

"Still. I'm sure the SHIELD agents could do with a bit of culture," he said, taking the stairs.

o.o.o.o

A while later, Loki lay tangled in the sheets of Stark's bed. His hand rested behind his head, his gaze on the ceiling. A self-satisfied smirk toyed at the corner of his lips, "I think I prefer the other bed a bit more, but this one does have its merits."

Tony made a soft sound from where his face was smashed into the pillow, on his stomach. "Oh, god, you're comparing my beds."

The trickster chuckled, "You've mentioned in the past that you had nice beds. I agree, but I think the one in your penthouse is better."

"What makes you say that?" Tony asked, rolling onto his side.

One of the god's shoulders moved in a half-hearted shrug, "I'm not entirely certain. It's just fractionally more comfortable."

"This one has a better view," Tony said, glancing out over Loki toward the water.

Tilting his head in that direction, Loki nodded very slightly, "That may be true. It certainly is a stunning view."

"Most people would kill, or at least do massive bodily harm for it."

"You should see—" He broke off, shaking his head slightly, "It is a beautiful view."

"Most mortals," Tony amended, nuzzling his head down on Loki's chest.

His hand moving to absently card through the smaller being's hair, Loki smiled again, "Even by Asgardian standards."

"Well, I'll consider those pretty high standards," Tony said, lifting his head and shifting it to be more securely tucked against Loki's chest.

"They can be, though we don't have quite the same view of the sea you have here," the god murmured, his hand moving down to Anthony's shoulder.

Shifting into the touch, Tony hummed. "Well, so long as you like it."

"I do. And I rather like that it can be enjoyed from inside as well."

Tony smiled against Loki's chest, trying not to think about how bare and impersonal the bedroom was.

"There's not much here that marks it as yours, Anthony," the chaos god remarked after a long moment.

"Everything personal is down in the lab," Tony said. "I'm not used to people I know being in this room."

"Which I suppose makes some sense," Loki admitted, his fingers tracing patterns on the bare skin of Stark's shoulder.

Tony grinned, tapping Morse code into Loki's stomach. "You came an awful long way to check out my other bed."

Loki smirked, "Well, I couldn't check out the one nearer to me since, as you may remember, there's a certain thunder god down the hall."

"And that's not someone I want to explain this to," the smaller man murmured. "I think he'd attack me instantly with that hammer."

Loki offered him a long look, "If I didn't end up on the wrong side of it for seducing and corrupting his friend and brother-in-arms."

"I don't know," Tony murmured. "I'm not sure he talks about me the way he talks about you when drunk."

That garnered a long blink, but the god dismissed the thoughts with a shrug, "It matters not as we shall not be seen there together."

"Suppose not," Tony said, tapping his fingers against Loki's thigh. "He misses you."

"No. He thinks he misses me. What he misses is what we had," he had been down this track in his thoughts too many times since Thor had appeared on Midgard after Loki's own fall.

"Either way," Tony said. "He thinks he misses someone. Your brother's not a bad sort you know."

"He's just brash and arrogant and beloved and blind to the shadow he casts for others to stand in."

"So which of those irritates you the most? The beloved bit or the arrogant one?"

Loki frowned, his hand stilling from where it had been running up and down the other's side, "It matters not, and is certainly not your concern."

"It's just," Tony shook his head, entire body tensing as he realized he was annoying a chaos god and there was a truly lovely set of windows nearby. "He misses you. I don't like seeing families screwed up."

"Then look away, because this one will not be repaired," came the sharp reply.

For a moment the smaller man couldn't decide whether to pull away in anger or to drop the issue. Shifting, he rolled over, straddling Loki's long legs and looking down at him. "You're like broken glass, you know that? Fine. I'll drop it. But I'm serious. So at least think about it."

Loki's expression was dark as he looked up at the other, "I shall think about it when it comes to my mind. No sooner, no later."

"Alright," Tony said, shifting in his current position.

The god smirked up at him after a brief moment, his hands moving to rest on the other's hips, tracing small circles there.

Making a pleased sound, Tony smirked at him. "Well, I'm sure there are other things to occupy your mind."

Grinning wolfishly, Loki trailed one hand up Stark's side to cup the back of his head. He leaned up to meet the other halfway, offering him a biting kiss, "I can think of a few."

Bracing his hands on either side of Loki's head, Tony pressed the full line of their bodies together. "So long as they're inventive."

o.o.o.o

Quite a while later, Tony looked over his rumpled and empty bed. Rolling over, he pushed himself up, dressing to check on the lab. After making sure things downstairs were progressing, he pushed himself back. "JARVIS?"

"Yes sir?"

"Get Pepper on the line, would you?"

A few minutes later Pepper Potts' voice came on, "Tony?"

"Hey, Potts," Tony said, running a hand through his hair.

"Everything okay?"

"Sure it is," he replied, shooing Dummy off. "Just, if you're stopping by the mansion tonight, do bring ice cream would you?"

"The Malibu house? Or the mansion itself?" She confirmed, calculating how long it would take her to get to either place.

"Malibu," he said, quickly. "The one actually nearby Stark headquarters. I am not asking you to fly out to New York with ice cream."

"If you're calling me at this time of day for ice cream I'd damn well fly it to New York and you know it," she answered. "I'll be there in fifteen."

"One of these days, I'm going to get something below your radar."

"No you won't," Pepper replied. "I'm hanging up now. I'll see you shortly."

"See you soon," he said, waving a hand and JARVIS helpfully cut the line.

Fifteen minutes later, almost exactly, Pepper arrived in the hall outside of the lab, tapping once on the door with the handle of the ice cream scoop to let Tony know she was there. She input her code for the door and stepped in, "I come with ice cream and toppings, just like you like."

"You are a goddess and I am not worthy," Tony said, climbing out from underneath one of his vintage cars, covered in engine grease.

"Something like that," she agreed as she set two bowls down and dished up ice cream, more for Tony than for her. Prepping his ice cream just how he liked it she set the bowl down on the edge of his workbench, "You going to tell me what's got you like this?"

"Not really?" Tony offered, already eating. "How's business been lately? Stark running like it should?"

"Stark's running just as it should. Smoothly, and nothing you need to sign this week. Business is on the rise again." She looked him over for a long moment, "You do realize calling me to bring you ice cream while you're working when you don't ever remember food exists when you're working is a sign, right?" It was as close as she was going to get to pushing that day.

Tony shrugged. "I like ice cream. It's a nice food to eat."

She arched an eyebrow, but nodded, "What are you working on?"

"Well, I was building a new suit, but then the engine really needed pressing work."

Pepper just nodded again, "And how's the new suit coming? I see Dummy still hasn't been sent to the college, so I take that as promising."

"It's going well," he said around a mouthful of ice cream. "It needed a lot of modifications after the last few battles." And the fact that the last supervillian had totaled his old suit.

"Well, that's good that you've got an idea of what those'll be. I've been watching the news reports of your battles again," she admitted, taking a bite of her own ice cream.

He stopped, giving her a long look. The stress of watching Iron Man's battles and fearing for his safety every day was the reason they had long since called it quits romantically. "Have you now?" he tried for neutrality.

"Just because we're not dating, doesn't mean I don't worry. Usually I end up tuning into the reports after the fact when they know how badly you all have been hurt."

"I've been doing well with not getting my ass kicked the last few battles," Tony said, grinning.

She offered him one of her small smiles, "Yes, I'll give you that. Though that suit of yours keeps taking a beating."

"But," he said, pointing the spoon at her. "It's improving all the time and I haven't ended up in any hospitals."

Pepper nodded, conceding the point, "Though I still say that's not for lack of trying. JARVIS is under orders to let me know if you do, though, I hope you're aware."

"Your co-opting of my butler is not unexpected," Tony said, grinning again and reaching for more ice cream.

"Good," Pepper smiled in response as she continued eating her first bowl of ice cream slowly, savoring it. "So, you came all the way out to Malibu to work on your suit and ask me to bring you ice cream. I feel spoiled."

"You know you're my most spoiled, lovely girl," Tony said. "I should spoil you more often, honestly."

"You do so every year for my birthday," she informed him. "I got a lovely necklace last year."

"Did I ever see it?" Tony asked, tilting his head.

"It was that sapphire and aquamarine one I wore at the New Year's Party. It goes really well with that dress 'you' bought me a few years ago, which screw society I still wear when I feel like dressing up."

Tony laughed. "I'm glad that my gifts go so well together. I have impeccable taste."

"Of course you do. I think it's time to change colors for gifts this next year though."

"Maybe a green palate," he said, without thinking about it and looked momentarily horrified. "I mean, red and gold. It would look great with your hair."

She arched a brow at him, "We'll see. Green would probably be better than red, honestly, but I've been thinking about gold for a while."

"No no," he said quickly. "Green would make you look like a Christmas tree. Very tacky. Go with red. Show your support for your boss and all that."

"Red washes me out," Pepper retorted, "I'll go with gold, maybe a ruby necklace this year in a gold setting and a dress to go with it next year."

"Sounds tasteful. Go with that," he said with a firm nod, tucking back into the ice cream. It was only a few more bites before he connected the cold taste to Loki's cooler finger tips.

Pepper was watching him carefully as she set her empty bowl aside, "I haven't had to run damage control in the papers in a while."

"I've been busy," he said, frowning slightly as he realized he still had no idea why Loki was so much cooler to the touch. Leaning back, he typed a few commands into the console, opening a file to start research.

Tilting her head to look at the screen, Pepper looked away after a brief moment, "Rather busy I'd say. Well, I've brought the ice cream, and you look like you're going to hole up here for a while longer, am I right?"

"Well," Tony shrugged. "Maybe?"

"How long before you go back to New York?"

"Not sure," he said, turning back to face her. "Depends on when the next crisis is, I suppose. I'm pretty happy back at this lab to be honest."

Pepper offered him one of her small smiles, "Good. I like being able to stop by and make sure you're eating."

"I'm here all week," he said, waving a hand. "Next time you can bring something more substantial if that would make you feel better."

She shrugged slightly, "If I think you haven't eaten I'll bring more food. You remembered to call me for something to eat so I figured this was alright."

He grinned at her. "See, I'm getting better at these sorts of things."

Pepper smiled, leaning over and kissing his cheek, "Yes, you are. I need to get home for tonight, but I'll swing by to check on you later, okay?"

He waved an arm. "Should I promise to try and sleep tonight while we're on a roll?"

"I think you should, yes. That way if an emergency does come up you might actually have rested."

"No rest for the wicked!" Tony protested.

"Tony Stark has a heart, and therefore is not wicked," Pepper rejoined.

Tony nearly choked, considering who had just picked that statue up earlier that way. "Those with hearts can be wicked," he muttered.

His childhood friend looked at him for a long moment before she shook her head, "I don't believe that for a moment. Go back to inventing, Tony, but you're not wicked and you've paid for your sins."

"I wasn't even talking about me," Tony muttered but he nodded, offering her another smile.

Pepper offered him one of her faint half-smiles, "I still stand by the fact that the wicked don't have hearts. They don't feel compassion. The broken do, though." She shook her head, no idea where the conversation had taken a turn, "Take care, Tony."

"I'll keep that in mind," he said, stomach turning over. "Take care of yourself too."

She paused at the door, but finally turned and made her way up the stairs and home.

Chapter Text

Returning from Malibu, Tony decided to humor Steve Rogers, moving the scant belongings he needed at a given time to the Avenger’s mansion and putting up with all the team building exercises the Captain enjoyed so much.

Which meant when he finally picked up a book on Norse Mythology, he was in the same house as Thor when he started reading it.

Before he could really think it through, Tony stormed into Thor’s room, dropping the book on his lap. “What the fuck is wrong with you people?” he demanded.

Thor blinked up at him from where he was sitting up in his bed, blond hair rumpled and sticking up at odd angles. “Come again, Anthony?”

Tony really wished Asgardians would stop using his full name. “Norse mythology is you people, right?”

Finally processing, Thor lifted the book, letting the pages fall open. “These… myths you have. They are not usually the real story, or the whole one.”

“Alright,” Tony said, snatching the book back and opening it to a page he’d read too many times. “What about this one?”

Thor’s expression became a mix of horrible emotions Tony wasn’t sure he wanted to look at—pain, anger, guilt and betrayal were all on the god’s face. “The time Loki tried to trick the dwarfs,” he said, voice hollow.

“Yeah,” Tony said, suddenly feeling like he should never have asked Thor. But he’d seen those scars, and his wrist throbbed with the thought of the bruises it had borne. “So, it happened?”

“Yes,” Thor said, face wrecked.

“It,” the mortal paused a moment, and pressed on. “The legend, according to this book, says you held your brother down while they sewed his mouth shut.” He’d read the myth several times over in horror—he was sure he could repeat it word for word at that point. Some days he really did not appreciate his memory retention.

The blond god just looked sadder, eyes tracking over the page. “Yes,” he said finally.

“You’re kidding,” Tony managed. He’d really been hoping the answer was no.

“I am not,” Thor said, voice still soft.

Tony dropped the book back on Thor’s lap, the inventor running a hand through his hair. “But… you liked your brother. Why the hell would you do something like that to him?” His stomach turned over with the memory of Loki’s expression when he’d gotten near the scars, and based off the dark-haired god’s reaction, his memories were not pleasant of the incident.

“The justice of the realms if harsh,” Thor replied, eyes going distant. “But the dwarfs, even more so. He’d made a deal with them and tried to trick them out of it. The dwarfs demanded his head. That is all in the book I believe?” he asked, looking back at Tony.

“Yes, but—” the dark haired man started.

“It was between holding my brother down while they sewed his mouth together, or watching him die,” Thor continued, meeting and holding Tony’s eyes. “I did it to make sure he survived. The thread came out in time and he was able to speak again.”

Swallowing hard, Tony finally nodded. “So you were, what, protecting him?”

“Yes,” Thor said, handing the book back.

Tony shook his head, drawing away from being handed anything. In confusion, Thor set it down and Tony scooped it up from the bed. He ran his left hand through his hair again. “Sorry for the midnight interruption.”

“I am curious as to why you decided to do this research,” Thor replied.

Tony rolled his shoulders. “Better to understand you and our enemy. It seems fairly straight forward and sensible.”

Thor smiled at him, the expression creaky after the last few minutes. “Neither of which describe you.”

Tony returned the strained smile. “I’m turning over a new leaf?”

Laughing, the sound hollow, Thor shook his head. “Alright. If you have further questions… just ask me. I shall try to answer them.”

“Thanks,” Tony said, looking at the ground, already sure he wouldn’t take the offer up. “I’ll let you get back to sleep.”

Off the god’s rueful smile, he knew there would be no sleep for either of them again that night.

Before dawn, he was back in the penthouse, ignoring Steve’s half-worried message the next morning.

o.o.o.o

It was the following night that Loki chose to finally come out of his self-imposed isolation of research.  He found himself, once again, at the door to Stark's penthouse and he paused for a moment before knocking on the door.

Tony looked up, tilting his head up. "Hey—"

"Loki is standing outside, sir," JARVIS replied without even waiting for Tony to finish his question.

"Oh, let him in," Tony said, feeling sore from the last battle and not inclined to actually move.

The god arched a brow as he heard the door unlock and the latch click.  He stepped inside, looking around, "Anthony?"

"Yeah," Tony called back out. "Over here."

Weaving his way through the penthouse, the god of mischief stopped at the doorway to the bedroom, "Am I disturbing you?"

"Not at all," Tony said, bringing his knees up to hide the cover of his book. It was flimsy and he wasn't consciously hiding it. "Just got thrown into a building recently. You're welcome to come in though."

Loki's gaze dropped to the book, but he didn't ask, setting aside his coat and scarf as he entered the room and moved over to sit on the other side of the bed, "Yes, I had briefly heard tell of that incident."

Tony snorted, shifting from the center of the bed more toward one of the sides. "Hear a lot about our battles?"

"Not much.  I tend not to listen overly much to what goes on outside of what I need," the other replied, kicking off his shoes and moving to lean against the headboard.

Tony blinked at him once, trying not to read anything into the fact that Loki had heard of this particular battle—about him—when he might not otherwise pay attention. "I've noticed you've been wrecking less havoc lately. Not saving up for anything big I hope?"

"Researching. The thing I took from your halls of knowledge was not quite what I had been expecting, though it opens many doors to those that would seek them."

"And that's been working out for you then?" Tony asked carefully, tilting his head toward the other.

Loki shrugged one shoulder, "Somewhat.  There is much to be learned from it, though not what I had expected."

"So what brought you here?" Tony asked, shifting around slightly and wincing when it pulled on some of his bruises.

"I had need to get away, to clear my head and draw it away from my research and the runes."

"And you always seem to come to me while clearing your head," Tony remarked. "What are you researching that's taking so much time anyway? I'm not sure I want to be clearing your head if it's going to end in harm."

"I seek the interwoven branches of Yggdrasil," Loki answered honestly, though several half-truths had leapt to his mind at the question.  "I am trapped here with no hope of finding the other realms as freely as I once did.  I once had nine worlds in which to play, and now I am forced to resign myself to just one."

"Oh, well, if you're screwing with the other worlds, that's fine," Tony said, managing a smile.

The trickster's lips turned upward into a crooked grin, "Regardless, I have spent two weeks seeking and building and I had need of rest for my eyes and my mind."

"I think there's some party downtown," Tony said, meeting Loki's eyes and trying not to stare too hard at that grin.

"Clearing my head does not entail boredom enough to tolerate Midgardian social galas," came the response.

Tony laughed at that. "So, what could I possibly do to clear your head then?"

"Well, you are rather a diverting pastime," the god answered lazily, his gaze flickering to the book again.  "What were you reading when I came in?"

Having been expecting a kiss, it took Tony's brain a half second to catch up. "Oh," he said, waving the book around slightly. "Just something to pass the time."

Arching an eyebrow, Loki tracked the book, finally reaching out for it.

Swallowing, Tony relinquished it, hunching his shoulders slightly as he was unsure how the god might react. A cloud passed briefly over the taller being's face, but he dismissed any evidence of it quickly, "You would seek to understand the Norse myths? How will you know what has been, what is, and what will be?  Not all of this is what has gone before, much of it is prophecy."

"I was figuring so when I started reading about the deaths," Tony replied. "But, it's not bad to have some grounding."

"Do you have questions?" Loki offered, uncertain which answer he wanted to hear more.

"Sure," Tony said, taking the book back on putting it on the table by the bed, turning back to Loki. "Would you answer any of them?"

The fallen son of Asgard considered the mortal for a long moment, "Unless I find them too personal, yes.  Ask your questions, Anthony."

He paused a long moment, trying to think of where to even begin. "Your myths are really screwed up, you know that?" he asked, softly. "How many kids do you have?"

"Two," Loki answered softly, "two precious treasures."

"Which two?" Tony asked, trying to ignore the way his stomach turned over. "I mean, depending on the legend..."

"My beautiful Hel, and my courageous Fenrir," Loki answered, his eyes turned toward the ceiling, but his gaze realms away.

Considering, Tony nodded, shifting around to rest a hand on Loki's shoulder. "So, just the two."

The god's body tensed slightly at the touch as he nodded, "Yes.  Just the two.  Sleipnir was a gift unto Odin Allfather though parts of that myth still hold truth, and Jörmungandr has been in your seas since long before I came to the realms."

"Well, the legends have to screw up some things right?"

"It makes it easier for them, I believe.  Explaining away the monsters in Odin's halls as children of chaos," Loki answered.

"It makes some sense," Tony said, shifting back. "Mortals like tidy answers."

"So do gods," the god of chaos hoped he sounded less bitter than he felt.

"I've never been one for tidy answers," Tony said after a moment, shrugging.

Loki drew a deep breath, looking at the other for a moment, "What other questions have you?"

"Frankly? For the more general questions I've been asking Thor. He likes talking," Tony said. But there'd been only that one time he'd asked a specific question about Loki and the expression in the other god's eyes still made him shudder.

"He does at that, and he shall until the day the worlds fall to ruin I am sure," the younger prince of Asgard shook his head at the thought of his not-brother.

Tony laughed, and slumped down against the headboard. Loki smirked, shifting onto his side and propping himself up on his elbow to pres a kiss to Stark's lips, rather than dwell on the tales of Asgard and the prophecies therein.

Letting out a soft breath, Tony pressed into the kiss, one hand coming up to tangle in Loki's hair. "You're right. This is a much better plan."

The immortal smirked, leaning in to nip at Stark's jaw, "Of course it is.  Why use words when they are unneeded."

"One last question," Tony murmured, the touch having reminded him. He'd been considering not bringing it up at all, already bruised as it was. "Why are you colder?"

Loki stilled, memories of changing skin and red eyes appearing unbidden in his mind, "Colder?"

"Your skin," Tony said, catching one hand and kissing his fingers lightly. "It's cool. Not cold, not freezing. But cooler than most people."

"It is a trait of my people, I believe," the prince of two realms replied.

"I'm pretty sure Thor's not," Tony said, keeping Loki's eyes.

"Thor is one among many, just as I am," the god of lies responded.  "You have had a thin sampling of those from other realms."

"You don't have to answer the question, I was just curious," Tony shrugged. Except that was a lie, he realized a moment later and nearly cursed. He really wanted to know and didn't believe a word Loki was telling him.

His green gaze flickering over the other's face, Loki frowned slightly, "No.  You desire a more direct answer.  That, I will not give you as you tread too near something Thor himself knows naught of." Or Thor knew naught of it so long as the Allfather had not told him.

"So, it's not just an Asgard thing," Tony said quietly.

Loki paled as he realized what he had begun to reveal.  He drew back, "If this line is continued I will go without hesitation."

Tony's hands went to his shoulders, stopping him. "Alright, alright. I wanna know. But alright."

The god stilled, his expression wary, "We shall speak no more of this?"

For a moment it looked as if Tony really wanted to press but he nodded. "We won't unless you want to."

Nodding once, Loki relaxed and an easy smile fell into place on his features. Tony blinked at the smile, hands moving up to trace over Loki's face. "Alright then."

Tilting his head slightly into the touch, Loki leaned closer to the other and pressed a demanding kiss to Anthony's lips. Pressing up into it, Tony made a soft sound. The taller being smirked against the kiss, his long fingers tracing down the other's side, ghosting over the skin and instinctively avoiding any bruises.

Tony wiggled down so he was laying flat on his back, pulling the god down with him.

Nipping at the other, Loki bit down just a hair harder than usual on the other's lip.  The motion was intended as distracting, but the god could feel possessiveness rising up in him even as he tried to quash that thought.

Gasping, the inventor arched into the other's touch. "Let's not give me any more bruises tonight, okay?"

Keeping his first response at bay, the Asgardian smirked, "But of course, Anthony.  As you wish."

"You are just not dropping that full name thing are you?" Tony asked, tilting his head to the side on the pillow.

Trailing faint bites down the other's throat, Loki chuckled against the other's skin, "I like how your name feels on my tongue."

The smaller man shuddered at that. "Oh. Okay then."

"Do you object?"  The other being all but purred as he began slowly removing Stark's clothes.

"Not at the moment," Tony replied, bringing his hands up finally to return the favor, pulling Loki's shirt over his head in a quick, jerky motion. The motion garnered a short laugh from the god as he moved back up Anthony's body, tracing each dip and hollow that had grown more familiar over the course of their trysts.

o.o.o.o

For a while things settled into something like a routine. Tony would create amazing things that even left Banner staring at him like he couldn't figure out where his ideas came from. There would be battles, and Tony would end up having to fix his armor. Several months passed, where Loki would show up whenever he felt like, and Tony never kicked him out of his bed.

For a while, in other words, Tony thought he was entirely capable of pulling whatever this was off.

Loki son of two kings spent the months pouring over the text stolen from the vaults, practicing new spells and finding strength for old ones.  He still could not find the root of Yggdrasil he sought, though he only paused when he needed to find a new ingredient for a potion, or on those nights that he chose to spend in Anthony's bed and not his own.  He grew used to casting a scrying spell to confirm the other was alone before appearing.

One night the spell took longer than usual to locate Stark, finally finding him in a private box at the opera.  The god of mischief regretted that his spell did not permit him to hear, only to see, and so he had no idea what he would be appearing at.  Shaking that thought aside, he located appropriate clothes and vanished from his accommodations.

Appearing in the box, hidden from the view of the rest of the audience, Loki bit back a curse at his luck. Die Walküre.  Of course it would be that one.  The slender god moved forward, leaning down to wrap his arms around the small man, resting his chin on the other's shoulder, "I never took you for one to enjoy this sort of pastime."

Nearly jumping out of his skin, Tony tilted his head back. "I usually don't."

He nipped lightly at the other's earlobe, "Then what changed your mind for such a commitment as this?  You do know that it is two more nights if you want the entirety of the tale, do you not?"

"Pepper was making a fuss and there's a charity connected in here somewhere, I think," Tony replied. "Two more nights?"

"If you wish to hear the full tale.  I take this to mean you missed last night, then."

"Yes, I did," he said, looking back at the stage and swallowing at the cool line of Loki's body behind him. "There's a summary I can read right?"'

"I am certain you can find one.  Likely one for the next two nights as well," the god replied, folding himself into the chair next to Anthony's.

Tilting his head to watch the other, Tony shrugged. "I mean, the music is very classical and I'm sure cultural."

"Yet you have no idea what they are saying, do you?"

"They have a translation," Tony said, pointing to where the words were scrolling above the stage.

The god of mischief and chaos smirked at that, a brow rising at the scrolling words, "So I see..."

"Don't you dare do anything to it," Tony said, giving him a quick look. "I'm pretty sure I paid for the damn thing."

"I will hardly cause permanent damage to it," Loki assured him.

"If this gets cancelled and I have to come back a second night, we're having issues too," Tony said. "I'm supposed to be cultured or something, but I'm really not cultured enough for two nights of opera."

That sounded more like a challenge than anything the god had been offered thus far.  He absently wove a small spell in his mind, the green glow twisting around the fingers of his right hand, pausing to form a ring around the third finger briefly, "I will be sure that this won't be cancelled."

Tony's eyes snapped down to the green light. "I am not going to like this, am I?"

Loki smirked at him, "I never said that."  He gestured with a flick of his wrist and the screen blinked for a moment before his magic settled itself comfortably in with the technology and the view of it.  The words scrolling across it shifted into a script that, though still in English took far more concentration to decipher than most had when listening to a separate language entirely--especially one sung as it was that night.

The smaller man gave him a dark look. "You're a piece of work."

Leaning back in the chair, the other smiled, "You can claim a mechanical error, and the show can go on, as it is doing what it was supposed to.  The screen reads in English.  What do I receive such a look for?"

"Because now it's just about impossible to read," Tony said, squinting at the script. "I was sort of paying attention to the plot you know."

"Then let me translate for you," the god offered, simply.

"There's going to be a catch to this, isn't there?" Tony asked, eyes snapping back to the god.

"What sort of catch could there possibly be to me murmuring the words into your ear?"

Tony made a sound in the back of his throat. "Oh, there it is."

Loki smirked, "Do you object, Anthony?"

"I think that offer is going to severely hinder my ability to stay for the whole show," he replied. "Pepper is going to be very miffed."

"Ah, there is the trouble.  You think she would object to you leaving early then?"

"She'd be disappointed I'm sure," Tony said, trying to keep his eyes on the stage.

Loki subtly slid his chair nearer, leaning in to murmur in the other's ear, "Are you willing to take that risk?"

"I'm thinking I should say no, but I'll probably say yes," Tony managed, swallowing hard at the breath on his ear.

"Wonderful," the Asgardian purred.  He turned half his attention to the stage and began softly translating the opera, his lips centimeters from Anthony's ear.

For a while, Tony really did try his hardest to pay attention to what was going on in the opera, eyes glued to the stage, but it didn't last for very long. Loki could feel the shift in the other's attention and he smirked, some shred of his mirth creeping into his voice even as he translated the tale of the Valkyrie.

"Hey," Tony asked, still not pulling his gaze away. "That transport thing you do. Can it take two people?"

"I have taken you with me in the past, where do you wish me to carry you?"

Finally turning his head, Tony grabbed Loki's tie and dragged him into a hard kiss. "If you can get me back before the end of the opera, somewhere with a bed. Or anywhere private for that matter, I'm not picky."

The other smirked, knowing there was plenty of time still left in that night's performance.  He wrapped an arm around his sometime lover and called up an image of a room he knew well, though he would have to seal the other door and darken the window once they reached it.  He pulled Anthony through the spell with him, appearing in his own bedchamber, immediately weaving a seal on the door that only he could open and darkening the window though he intended to keep the other distracted enough that he would not seek where he was.

"This is new," Tony managed, before grabbing the taller and dragging him into another punishing kiss, holding onto both his lapels.

Dashing aside any thoughts of why he had brought the other there, Loki moved his hand to tangle in Anthony's hair, the other one straying to the knot of the tie and undoing it.

"You can be such a tease," Tony muttered into the kiss, working his hands down and only half unbuttoning the other's shirt before pulling at the waistband of his pants.

"And you are in a rush," Loki responded, his hand moving away from the other's throat.  A flick of his wrist undid the buttons on both their shirts even as he guided the smaller man back toward the bed.

"I meant that translating stunt," Tony said, flopping backward and pulling the other. "Haven't seen you in a while and you show up in public?"

Loki caught the other's lower lip between his teeth for a moment before he responded, "It would have been in private, but I found you at the opera house instead."

"I have a life and obligations," Tony replied. "I'm not your call boy or anything. I can be in public." He was mostly teasing.

That earned a smirk, "Yes, you most certainly can, and I do have to say that Opera is as good a place as any to see you."  He leaned down, nipping at the other's ear, "You are your own person, and I would have it no other way."

For a moment Tony just blinked at the ceiling before lunging, rolling them over. Pinning Loki to the bed he pressed their mouths together, tangling his hands in the other's longer hair.

Loki broke the kiss to tilt his head back and laugh, the sound deep, dark, and rich.  The motion exposed his throat, an act not quite of submission nor of surrender, but a give for the take that had been exchanged.

Obliging, Tony bit lightly at Loki's collarbone, making his way back up his neck to smooth along his jaw. The god arched at that, a sound of pleasure, of want, of need thrumming in his throat even as his breathing quickened. Tony smirked against Loki's jaw, pulling him back into another kiss.

Loki's bright green eyes were half-lidded as he tangled a hand in Anthony's hair and pressed into the kiss.  Perhaps it was the familiar setting, the feeling of safety knowing the rooms and wards, but the slender being was far more pliant in the small room than he was in the penthouse at Stark tower.

Pulling back from the kiss, Tony considered him a moment, his hands going down to the god's hips. "This is different," he said, kissing Loki's ear.

Feeling his magic thrumming around him, the sorcerer tried to draw his concentration back from where it was scattered around them, "Different?"  Where was his silvertongue when he wished for it?

Tony grinned, pressing his mouth to Loki's shoulder. When he'd gotten there, he'd been more then prepared for a rushed event, feeling oversensitive to everything. Somewhere it'd turned more languid. "Yeah."

The youngest son of the house of Asgard could feel himself coming undone under the mortal touch.  His breath caught and he tilted his head back further to give the other better access, "Good different?"

Tony processed that he wasn't going to get back to the opera. "Oh, I'm sure I'll manage just fine with it," he said, laughing, the sound low in his chest.

Loki chuckled, though the sound seemed broken in half as he arched against the other, "G-good."

Breath catching, Tony ran his hands from Loki's waist along his thighs, grinning.

A moan leapt, unbidden and unchecked, from the immortal at that touch. If the great Asgardians could see him now...but they held no place in this chamber, in this private cave protected by the magic he wove.  His eyelids fluttered shut momentarily and his back bowed, breath coming sharply even as he felt a flush of heat through his being.

Still grinning, Tony leaned in for another kiss, as his hands worked on drawing other sounds and moans from the god. The kiss, when Loki returned it, was desperate and binding, the liesmith never more honest than he was in that sparse set of moments.

o.o.o.o

A while later, Loki lay stretched out in his bed, his mind as blank as he could allow it to be after the time spent with the other above him.  If he was uncertain in his actions and feelings after such a night, he would not worry about it then.  He turned his head to offer Anthony a lazy smile, "I fear you have missed the end of the opera."

Nuzzling against Loki's chest, Tony laughed. "You think?"

The smile shifted into a nearly wolfish grin, "I do in fact." His long fingers carded through the smaller being's hair, "Whatever will you tell those who ask where you went?"

"They'll come to half of the right conclusion without me having to say a thing," Tony replied, shifting his head slightly. "They'll think I got distracted, or ran off somewhere for sex. They'll just not figure out the who bits."

"A common cause for your disappearances from public, then?" Loki queried, brushing aside the twisting in his gut at the possible answer.

Propping his chin up, Tony considered him a long moment. "My reputation says it is."

The prince's gaze swept over his bedmate, "You remind me of Fandral some days..."

"Who?" Tony asked, making a face.

"One of Thor's companions.  The Warriors Three: Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandral.  It is a flickering resemblance, but once in a while."

"You don't sound terribly impressed with him," Tony said, arm draped over Loki's side, tracing equations into the sheets. It was taking a lot of effort to stay laying down, and not go exploring.

Loki blinked at that, "I never meant to convey that.  Of the three he might be the most tolerable.  Though I admit I say that with some misgivings."

"Tolerable," Tony repeated. “Yeah that’s a ringing endorsement.”

"Fandral is a dandy, but a deadly warrior all the same," the god explained.  "He does not think with his stomach as Volstagg, nor is he silent as the shadows as Hogun.  He is...Fandral.  He is desired by many, and has a reputation that rivals yours, due to his time building it."

"Hey, if I can rival a god's reputation as playboy, I think I'm doing pretty good," Tony said, pushing himself back.

The other rolled his eyes, catching the smaller man before he could pull away too far, "You are making light of this."

"Of what?" Tony asked, freezing.

"Of a compliment, of a simple off-handed statement," of the fact that I have not willingly spoken of Asgard since I fell.  "I meant only to say that there are days when I wonder how much of that reputation of yours has actually been true at any point. You dance around things that you do not wish to deal with, and I am not certain that is not one of those things."

"I slept with you at the drop of a hat, didn't I?" Tony asked and wished he could hit himself.

Loki released him abruptly at that, "And if you regret that you have only to say the word and I will leave you be."

"That wasn't what I meant," Tony said, feeling his stomach twist again. "But if I have a reputation for sleeping around, I had to start it somewhere. So don't try to analyze it or whatever you're thinking."

The god watched him for a long moment before finally nodding, "Very well. I shall avoid trying to analyze it as you say."

Taking another deep breath, Tony pushed back again to sit up fully this time, looking around the room. "I should get home."

Loki nodded once, "Allow me to get dressed and I'll take you."

"I don't really have an option, do I?" Tony asked, eyes tracking over the room and fingers itching to touch and explore things. "Since I'm pretty sure I couldn't get out of here without at least some of your help."

That garnered a faint smirk, "How perceptive.  No, you don't really have much of an option."

Tony felt one of his hands twitch, remembering the last time he'd been trapped anywhere. "I'd find a way out eventually," he said, voice very low. "But I really don't feel like taking the time right now."

Loki glanced at him, "I would not keep you here long enough for that, nor against your will."  He hadn't intended to bring the other to his room in the first place. 

Rising, he moved over to a small wardrobe, locating his clothes.  They were as close to his comfortable clothes from Asgard as he could find in the realm he was in.  The loose-sleeved green shirt fit well under the long tunic-like black vest and the black trousers completed it.  He picked up his boots and moved back to the side of the bed to put them on, not looking at the other for the moment.

Tony watched his movements, swallowing past his dry throat. When Loki started pulling on the boots, he remembered that he should probably at least partially dress as well. Scrambling out of the bed, he found his clothes, putting them on quickly.

Loki ran a hand over his hair to smooth it down, glancing at the other again and offering his hand after a moment, "Shall we?"

Nodding, Tony placed his hand on the chaos god's. Closing his hand around the smaller being's, the god of mischief focused, pulling them both through his spell to stand amidst a dissipating chill outside of Stark's penthouse door.

Looking between the door and the god, Tony sighed. "Thanks."

Loki nodded slightly, "I shall leave you here.  Good day, Anthony."

"It's more like good night," Tony said, not having dropped his hand yet.

That earned a brief smile, "I suppose that is true."  His gaze dropped to their hands before he leaned in to kiss the other briefly, "Good night."

Tony drew back as if burned. "Good night," he managed, trying not to think how much this felt like a cliché of a date.

Loki stepped back, something flickering in his eyes briefly before vanishing in a wisp of smoke and a winter's chill.

Tony's head thudded against his own door. "That was not a date," he muttered. "There was kissing in front of the door after being walked home and it means nothing." Sighing again, he opened the door, slamming it behind him. His mind whirling with equations, he set to work, figuring sleep would not be his friend that night. 

Chapter Text

Sitting on one side of the table, and working on a tablet in his lap rather than paying any attention, Tony's head snapped up when he thought he heard a certain name. "What was that again?"

Natasha glanced at him, but repeated herself, "I said that it's been a long time since we've heard from Loki and frankly it's a bit worrisome."

"Oh right, that guy," Tony said, and was aware of Thor glancing at him from down the table. "He probably got distracted by something more cosmic."

"That's the thing," Agent Romanoff responded. "There have been no signs of distress outside of our world that indicate his presence either."

Steve nodded slightly, "Would be nice to know what he might be planning at the moment."

Tony cleared his throat, looking back at his tablet. "He's the trickster god, not the god of destruction. He could be doing something entirely focused on his own goals." Such as seducing a billionaire at the opera, Tony didn't think too loudly.

"It's the end of those goals that's concerning," Cap spoke again.

"The man of iron is right," Thor said, shrugging. "His goals are not always destructive. At least, they used to not be."

"Any thoughts on what we might be needing to plan for, then, Thor?" Natasha asked, glancing at him.

"I have long since stopped being able to predict my brother," Thor said, a shadow on his face and Tony was paying very close attention to the tablet suddenly. Clint craned his neck to see what Stark was working on and he subtly moved it so the archer couldn't see.

Black Widow considered the god of thunder, but nodded, turning her attention back to cleaning under her nails with the tip of her knife-blade.

"So, no conclusions there?" Tony asked, still poking away at the tablet, sending notes to JARVIS.

"No. Not on that subject apparently," Steve sighed, shaking his head. He hated the unpredictability of the job sometimes.

"All our other supervillians seem tucked in at the moment," Clint added.

"Which means something's going to blow up in our faces within the next week or two, I'm sure," Natasha said, glancing at the archer.

"Always does," he said with a grin at her and Tony grunted.

"Won't that just be exciting."

o.o.o.o

It wasn't a society gala.

But Tony Stark was making an appearance at the party anyway, the loud beat of the music humming in his ears. It'd been quite a while since he'd thrown his own crazy party, and he mused that it was probably time to do that again soon.

Loki had arrived a few minutes before Stark. Having grown bored with his work and not feeling up to any major mischief, nor to tolerating the blathering of society, he found himself at the club where the party was being held. It had been simple enough to get in and get a drink and he was currently leaning against one of the walls, his green eyes focused on the people on the dance floor.

Turning his head, Tony noticed Loki and tried not to freeze, carefully returning his attention to the blonde that had attached herself to his side as soon as he walked in.

The god's gaze drifted away from the dancers, sweeping absently over the rest of the crowd and stopping on Anthony Stark and the woman coiled around his arm. Frowning slightly, he started to set his drink down but stopped himself before he could. Whatever was coiling in the pit of his stomach had nothing to do with that sight and going over there would certainly serve no purpose.

Making his way around the room, Tony flirted with everyone who might be worth it, including one of the drink servers. Finally coming a few feet away from the chaos god he paused, as if hesitating in his nonstop movement around the room and through the people there. Having tracked the others progress through the room, Loki drew a deep breath to keep his voice even as he turned to the other and offered him one of his smirks, "I was not expecting to see you here."

"I get around," Tony replied, shifting one shoulder back. "But it's good to know you aren't actively stalking me."

That earned a laugh, "I should not think I have cause to do so."

"Well it's not like I ever know what's going through that head of yours," Tony shrugged.

"It is good to know that some of my intentions still remain intact," Loki murmured, looking toward the dance floor again.

Tony finally looked over at him, noticing once again how much taller the other was. "So what are your intentions then?" he asked, trying not to think about what had happened last time they'd encountered each other.

"To keep my thoughts my own," he answered simply before glancing at the other once more. "And you? What are your intentions at the moment?"

"I think one of them was to dance," Tony shrugged, already turning around to head the other way.

Loki held out a hand to the other, "Then act upon it."

Tony's shoulders tensed as he turned back. "With you?"

The god's expression changed but little as he arched an eyebrow in a challenge, "Do you object to that?"

Tony's jaw worked for a moment but he could hardly back down from such an obvious challenge. "Why would I?"

"That is what I am asking you," Loki smirked. "If you do not object, then shall we dance?"

Taking the hand, Tony pulled the taller toward the floor, moving backwards. The Asgardian chuckled as they stepped onto the dance floor, allowing the rhythm of the music to begin to guide them into the dance.

Tony couldn't quite help but grin. "You're moving awfully formally for the type of music."

Loki smirked faintly, "It is a habit I suppose. Considering the court in which I was raised I am fortunate to know at all how to dance I dare say."

"You're graceful enough for it," Tony said, moving closer with the music.

Loki moved along with the other, the steps and music pulling them ever closer together, "You have a level of grace yourself that surprises me."

Smirking, Tony shook his head, one hand coming up to rest on Loki's waist. "Even now?"

Loki's hand ghosted down the other man's side briefly as he smiled in response, "Well, not so much now, I suppose."

"I would hope not," Tony laughed. "How many times have you ended up in my bed again?"

"Several, though I believe I have lost exact count."

Tony hadn't but he grinned anyway.

"And once you ended up in mine," Loki all but purred as he drew Tony closer when the music permitted.

Inhaling sharply, Tony grinned at him again. "Yeah, there was that one time. Mine is still more comfortable."

That garnered a quiet laugh, "I will grant you that. There is not much one can do in that respect on a sorcerer's budget."

"You have budgets?" Tony asked, trying to pay attention to the conversation more than the dance. "I thought you'd just steal everything you needed."

"Theft is not a natural state for me," Loki answered, something shifting in his tone. "One can only steal what one needs for spells so many times before the magical community turns against you. And so, yes, I function on a budget."

"Right," Tony managed. "Budget. That must be galling." The song changed, something slower with a deep beat.

Loki rolled a shoulder in a half shrug as he pulled the other a shade nearer at the change of song, "It is an adjustment, but not the greatest one I shall make."

"What's the greatest one?" Tony asked, shifting into the touch, trying to focus on anything except how close the taller was.

"Living on Midgard," the trickster lied, his hands straying lower.

"How's that going?" Tony asked, his own hands slipping from the other's hips around to his spine.

"It is an adjustment, but I find it to my liking more often than not," Loki murmured, tilting his head down to be heard clearly by his partner and no other.

Tilting his chin up, Tony grinned, fingers curling in the fabric of Loki's jacket. "So long as we please."

Smirking down at the other, the god pulled him even nearer, their bodies almost pressed against each other, "Oh you please very well."

Sucking in a breath, Tony arched into the touch, closing any space left between them. He really didn't want to look into what that 'you' actually meant. Loki's breath caught almost imperceptibly at that, his hand trailing down the other's spine as they danced.

"If nothing else, we have good music and drinks," Tony said, tilting his head back.

"You have music and drinks that are decidedly your own realm's," Loki half-agreed.

"I'll still take that as a compliment."

"And if that was not my intent?"

"You give us few enough, I'll still claim it," Tony said and jerked back a step when the song ended and another took its place.

Loki didn't release him fully, "Done so soon?"

"It's been two songs," Tony managed. "Also, people are staring." Which was entirely true, but they'd been doing that the entire time anyway.

Pursing his lips, the god of chaos stepped back, "And of course the stares of others stop you."

Tony laughed instead. "If they stopped me, I would never have danced with you. But I do have a reputation." Considering the party, he was sure Pepper would have plenty of reason to kill him tomorrow, but he didn't want to admit to the god that he had just about admitted, somewhere a newspaper could see, that they were together.

He wondered if he should call to send flowers to Pepper's office so they would be there in the morning.

Loki's eyes narrowed slightly, "Of course. Your reputation."

"You're rather dismissive of it."

"It holds importance to you, so I can hardly be that dismissive of it."

Reaching a hand up to hold his tie loosely, Tony frowned at him. "Then why do you look so annoyed?"

"Because you put far too much stock in it," Loki replied, pulling back from him and batting his hand off of his tie.

Tony scowled. "What? You're the god of fucking lies and you think reputation isn't something to put stock in? Surely you had some honor or something to uphold. Or is it just that you don't like your reputation and want to ignore everyone else's too?"

The god frowned at him, "You presume too much, Stark."

"I haven't heard that one in a while," Tony huffed.

A muscle in Loki's jaw twitched, "There is a difference between upholding your honor and the amount of reliance you have upon the mask of a reputation you carry. It is a coward's move."

"Excuse me?" Tony said, voice dropping. It was almost lost beneath the beat of the music, except for the slight widening of his eyes.

The god knew better than to push this, but Stark's barbs had hit far too close to their target for his liking, "I am certain you heard me. You tout the reputation that others have bestowed upon you and you hide behind it, from everything."

"Right," Tony said, stepping forward again. "I'm the one who's hiding."

Loki's expression dared him to press that, "What else would you term it?"

"I have a company," he started. "People that rely on me. A team. People I care about. Reputation is a part of that and you well know it. What happens if it comes out that I'm sleeping with you? Can you just imagine the headlines?"

"One more dance is hardly going to cause that," Loki snapped.

"Don't you know the Earth custom?" Tony asked. "A hundred years ago and three dances would mean we were engaged."

"This is not a hundred years ago," he managed to grit out between clenched teeth, as irritated by the conversation as by the fact that he couldn't figure out why he was arguing for it.

"No, it's today," Tony agreed. "And Stark Industries is all about the future." Suddenly he jerked forward, dimly thinking he was really going to have to make sure there was something on Pepper's desk the next morning as he pulled Loki down into a kiss. The motion was familiar, and after five months he knew exactly how to melt into the taller man's form, biting hard at his mouth.

The Asgardian stiffened at the contact, but returned the kiss almost viciously. Ignoring the voice in the back of his head that insisted this was just Stark trying to prove something, the taller man leaned down, tilting his head to get a better angle. Hand tangling in the taller's hair, Tony stepped back, leaving a parting bite on Loki's lower lip. He watched the other for a moment before turning and abruptly walking into the crowd.

The trickster god stood stock still for a long moment, catching his breath and trying to pick up the threads of his thoughts whirling about him. Stark had kissed him. In public. And promptly left. He could feel his temper rise, but he simply turned on his heel and shouldered through the crowd to reach the door and leave.

Moments after leaving the dance floor, the blonde from earlier slid up to Tony. "That man seems to have left," she said, gesturing to the door and smiling coyly.

Taking a breath, Tony didn't even turn his head. "Did he now?" he asked, suppressing any reaction to that. "Well, that's probably too bad for him and very good for you."

o.o.o.o

After he had left the party, Loki took a long walk to try to clear his head. He found his thoughts chasing themselves round and round in his mind until he was able to banish most of them. He would hardly apologize for anything he had done that night, but it would not go amiss to at least speak to Stark calmly.

He knew it would get them off on the wrong foot, but he couldn't seem to care as he appeared in the central room of the penthouse rather than outside the exterior door. His gaze flickered around, pausing on the door to the bedroom, he could feel lies within, though he could not place the root behind them.

Tony lay curled in bed, the blonde from earlier on the other side of the mattress.

Loki moved over to the door, pausing before tapping on it and pushing it open. He absolutely froze at the sight, his eyes sweeping over Stark and the blonde. He didn't even have the courtesy to sleep with someone with dark hair.

Tony snapped awake the same moment Jarvis recognized that Loki was there and sent up an alarm. "What in the name of—" Tony started and froze when he saw the god.

The girl at his side woke up and blinked at the dark-haired man in the doorway. She opened her mouth to ask what he was doing there, but was cut off. Loki's stance and tone was every inch that of the royalty he was raised as, his order imperious even as it was ground out from his clenched jaw, "Get out."

She gave Tony an offended look and he shrugged. "I would have kicked you out in the morning anyway."

The blonde scowled, but climbed out of the bed, taking her time gathering her things, but having trouble finding one of her shoes. Loki's patience quickly wore thin and he picked up the ridiculously high heel, holding it out to her, pinched between his thumb and forefinger, "I believe you know your way to the door." He all but pushed her out of the bedroom, his expression brooking no argument. Waiting until he heard the main door close he turned his gaze on Stark.

"I wasn't expecting you tonight," Tony said mildly, making a conscious effort not to pull the covers up.

"So I can see," the god's tone was icy. "So you chose to bring a blonde home with you instead."

"Reputation," was all Tony replied with, carefully meeting the other's eyes.

Loki's jaw tensed, "Is the problem the form? That I am male and it causes difficulty for that reputation of yours?"

Tony was avoiding certain news stations for the next month. "Partly," he said.

"That is hardly a difficulty," the sorcerer snapped, his form shifting and softening. After a bare few seconds Loki no longer stood in the doorway, but an elegant woman, her black hair down to her waist and her bright green eyes focused on Stark, her chin tilted up at an imperious angle and her mouth drawn in a hard line, "Do you forget who I am?"

For a moment Tony's jaw worked, no sound coming out. "Yes," he breathed finally, eyes huge in his face.

One dark eyebrow arched, the action and features entirely the chaos god, albeit in his feminine form, "Yes?"

"I forgot who you were," Tony said, dragging his eyes up to Loki's and keeping them there. "At least, I never figured you could do that."

"I can do many things, Anthony Stark. I simply do not find the need of them, but I do not take kindly to being set aside for the next available pair of warm arms."

"You think in the last five months I haven't slept with anyone else?" Tony shot back, nearly wincing at the fact that it had been five months since whatever this was started.

Loki's jaw tensed again and something dangerous leapt in her green eyes, "I had considered it a possibility and believed it a false thought."

Tony laughed. "That was stupid of you then." Which wasn't to say that between Loki and the Avengers and everything else in his life, he'd been sleeping with alot of other people but he was, and always would be to some level, Tony Stark, playboy.

The god's hands clenched, her form rippling, seeming unable to settle for a brief moment before Loki's typical form stood once again in the doorway, his green eyes alight with anger and magic, "So I can see evidence of before me."

"Why are you surprised?" Tony asked, finally rising from the bed, sick of having to look so high up to the other.

"I am not surprised, Stark. I knew who I was tumbling into bed with." He absolutely refused to admit the emotions twining around his anger were, in fact, hurt and betrayal.

Taking a step forward, Tony arched a brow. "Then why do you look so angry?"

"Because for some reason I had believed you capable of some form of monogamy." The god shook his head, "I will not knowingly share my lover with others."

"I'm not capable?" Tony repeated, taking the words like a challenge. "I've never tried."

Loki looked down at him, his face impassive, "Nor would you, I think."

"No one's ever given me a reason to try," he snapped back. "And it's not like you gave me your letterman's jacket and said we were going steady. You show up when you're bored. How is that an exclusive relationship?"

"I show up here when my mind is clouded," came the sharp reply. "You ask much of things you know not."

Rolling his eyes, Tony shook his head. "So, am I getting any answers to those things I don't know?"

"I have come to you. I have sought your bed. For nigh on half a year and yet you still fall in with others."

"Is that an implication you want to go steady?" Tony asked, trying to make it snarky and nearly cursing when it came out softly instead.

Loki's jaw tensed again, "It is an implication that I do not want to walk in on you with another ever again."

"You're going to have to give me a lot more then that if you expect that," Tony returned.

"What would you have of me?" the god demanded. "I have come to you, and taken you to me. I have answered questions when I have been asked them. You know more of me than any other mortal who has ever walked upon the ground of Midgard. I have tried to please you. What more can I possibly do?" His tone was angry, but there was a hint of desperation creeping into the god of chaos' words.

After staring at him another moment, Tony sunk back down on the bed, pulling the covers back over his lap. "Alright," he said, faintly. "So, exclusive then?"

Loki hesitated for the first time since appearing in the bedroom. He finally nodded, "But only if you truly think you can do such a thing. I will not be taken for a fool, nor, what is your term, cheated on."

"I won't take you for a fool," Tony said, simple in that reply.

"Good." The god leaned down, pressing in for a harsh kiss.

Hands coming up to bury themselves in Loki's hair, the inventor pulled him down further into the kiss. Loki used one hand against the mattress to balance himself as he guided the smaller man back a bit further and down the rest of the way onto the bed. His magic thrummed within his blood and he found himself reaching for it as he had not considered doing since their first night, months before.

"What are you doing?" Tony asked, one hand scrambling along Loki's back.

The sorcerer drew back enough to look at the other being, "How do you mean?"

"Something," Tony said, mouthing at Loki's neck. "Feels different."

"I wish to try something. Will you trust me? For this one night?" Loki murmured, tilting his head back slightly.

Working his jaw a moment, Tony finally nodded. "Alright." The immortal offered him a bright smile at that, turning his attention fully on the other and the touch his magic afforded him.

Chapter Text

It was a while later Tony actually remembered how to talk. "I have a question," he said to the general vicinity of the ceiling.

Loki's green eyes opened from where he'd begun to allow himself to drift, "And what is that, Anthony?"

"Why am I only now finding out there's magical sex to be had?" Tony asked, flat on his back. Loki hadn't done much with his magic other then weave spells that deepened pleasure, but that had been more than enough.

"Because up until now I've never used it as more than keeping my bedmate from remembering who they are with," the god murmured, his gaze tracing over the planes of Anthony's form.

That got the inventor to roll over onto his side. "Come again?"

"You have sharp hearing and high memory retention I have a hard time believing you did not understand me." Loki's green eyes turned away to focus on the weave of the sheets.

"So, you use magic to make the people in bed forget who they're with?" Tony said, looking somewhere between angry and aghast.

"We've been over how my shape-changing helped with that," Loki reminded. "It's...not entirely to make them forget, more to distract them so they believe the lies they wish to."

Blinking at him another moment, Tony rolled over again, hooking a leg around Loki and drawing him closer. "Right," he said, dropping it there and ignoring the way the thought made him want to hit someone.

The chaos god smirked slightly, "Well, and I liked proving to myself that I could leave you gasping without it."

"Which you did," Tony said, still feeling boneless. "Thoroughly and many times."

Loki leaned in to kiss his lover slowly, "And I intend to continue to do so."

The inventor tried his hardest not think too much about that. "Okay," he said softly, leaning in for another long kiss.

o.o.o.o

Morning light starting to come through the windows woke Tony up, and he thought first that he should go to the lab and check some things out. His second thought was centered on the fact his nose was buried in black hair and his arms were wrapped securely around cool skin.

Taking a deep breath, Tony smiled, considering how best to proceed. Finally, he wiggled back, extracting himself from the chaos god.

Loki stirred slightly at that, his eyes opening a slit, "Where are you going?"

"Go back to sleep," Tony said, kissing his temple.

Arching an eyebrow almost half-heartedly, the magician smiled faintly, allowing himself to burrow under the covers a bit further. His mind flickered over a couple of replies, but couldn't latch onto one solidly and he left the comment unanswered.

Kissing his cheek lightly, Tony slid out of the bed, pulling on pants and heading for the kitchen. "JARVIS?" he asked softly.

"Yes sir?" the AI replied, keeping his own volume down to match Tony's.

"You have recipes on that database, right?"

Just over a quarter of an hour later, Loki emerged from the bedroom. His hair was still ruffled and he was only half dressed as he blinked at Anthony from across the room, "Breakfast?"

"Yeah," Tony said, looking up from where he'd gotten two take out boxes already in hand. "Well, I attempted breakfast."

That earned a faint smile, "So I see. Where did you finally order in from?"

"A very fancy place down the block," he said, moving the food from the boxes to the plates. "Where did you learn to cook anyway?"

"The kitchens of Asgard," the prince answered as he moved over to sit at the table.

Tony plopped a plate in front of him. "Huh. I'm surprised they let you in. Dad's cook tended to chase me out with a spatula. Though that might have more to do with the chemistry experiment I tried to pull when I was five."

Loki smirked, "Well, there may have been a not so subtle threat in how I asked."

The corner of Tony's mouth quirked up, "Ah. There you go. Should I ask?"

The taller being chuckled, "I informed him that I was bored and that I wished to learn how to cook. When he refused I offered to find some way to entertain myself...I may have implied staying in the kitchen while I was doing so." He shook his head, "I had only just started with animation spells."

"And to think old John was worried about chemistry," Tony said, shaking his head with a smile.

"I think he was afraid I was going to bring his pots, pans and knives to life," Loki grinned. "My intention was to see if the spell worked on wood first, so it would likely have been the table before I tried anything metal."

"Please don't make my table come to life," Tony said, barely suppressing laughter.

Laughing lightly, the god shook his head, "No need to worry about that."

Tony smiled at him, continuing to eat at a quick pace. "You must have been quite the horror as a child."

The chaos god picked at his food as per usual, "Not especially. I was quiet about it most of the time, it was only once in a while that something like that would arise. As I recall it, anyhow. You would have to verify that with my mother or one of the other Asgardians for the truth of the matter."

The smaller man froze, fork halfway to his mouth as he tried to consider the ramifications of something like that. "I'll keep that in mind."

Loki's fork stilled for a brief moment where it was picking apart the eggs on his plate. "Regardless, I mostly remember just following Thor into trouble."

Tony smiled at that. "I'm sure I want to hear those stories at some point," he said, rising. "But I need to get to the lab today."

The god nodded once, rising as well, "Of course. I'll let you go then. I'm certain there is work I should be doing as well."

Leaning over, Tony kissed him, almost getting entirely distracted by it for a moment. Loki smirked against the kiss, one hand moving to cup the other's cheek, "We both have work to do..."

"I'll see you later?" Tony offered, testing.

The god smiled slightly, "I'll do my best to be here."

Feeling his stomach turn over, Tony smiled. "Then I'll be back," he said, retreating to shower and get dressed. Loki smirked, going to fetch the last of his clothes and disappearing.

o.o.o.o

Slipping into the mansion with his hair still damp, Tony attempted to get down to the lab without encountering anyone. Pepper was standing in the hall outside of the entrance to the stairs, "Tony Stark, you have some serious explaining to do!"

"I do?" he asked, trying for innocent.

She held up the papers she'd gotten that morning, the society pages at the front, "Who is this?"

"Oh, that," he said. "I... forgot to get flowers on your desk didn't I?"

Her eyes narrowed, "Yes. You forgot the flowers."

"Right," he started as suddenly Thor slammed into the room.

"Man of Iron!" he bellowed and Tony nearly tripped over his feet moving backwards.

"Who is this?" Pepper demanded, ignoring the thunder god.

Before Tony could even open his mouth again, Thor continued. "You lay with my little brother?" he thundered and Tony paled.

"Did you see the paper too or something?" he asked and for a moment Thor was brought up short.

"Paper? No, but I can sense his magic all over you. I've sensed it before, did you think me stupid enough to not recognize it?"

And suddenly Tony remembered the other, very logical reason Loki had never used magic on him before. "Oh damn."

"That's who this is?" Pepper's voice rose to as near a shriek as she ever got, "You're sleeping with the god of chaos?"

"Well, technically, he's the god of fire and mischief, and a lot of other things too," Tony protested.

"The point still stands! How long have you been seeing him?" Pepper shook her head, shuffling the newspapers she held. "The Times, The Post and the National Enquirer all have pictures of you!"

"I have been sensing him these past six months, have I not, Man of Iron?" Thor demanded.

"Five months three weeks and five days," Tony protested quickly.

"You have any hours to add in there?" Pepper asked softly.

"I could probably give you an estimate," Tony muttered.

Thor just gaped at him. "My little brother!" he repeated.

Pepper's hand moved to cover her mouth, "Almost six months...Tony..."

He shook his head at her slightly.

"When were you going to tell us?" Thor demanded. "If it has been neigh half a year?"

Steve came around the corner, obviously having just come from a run, "What's been nearly half a year?"

Tony felt his stomach drop when Thor replied for him. "That Anthony has been seeing my brother."

Cap's blue eyes widened, "Seeing? As in...?"

Pepper was still staring at Tony in shock and so didn't even think about it as she handed over one of the papers. Tony made a sound of protest, trying to intercept it.

Steve took it, gaping at the paper, "You've been seeing him?"

"Well," Tony started, considered the picture in question and sighed. "Yes."

"For six months?"

"Almost," Tony said, snatching the newspaper. "Can I read the article that's about my own demise?"

"You're not demised," Thor said, somewhat calmer but still glaring at Tony.

"Why are we verbing that noun?" Natasha asked, pausing at the sight of the group.

"Oh hell," Tony said but rather then explaining, just handed her the National Enquirer, Clint appearing at her shoulder.

Black Widow's eyes widened, "That's quite the kiss they've got on the cover there. Is that Loki?"

"That is Loki," Tony replied, shoulders tensing and Clint looked horrified, amused and almost sick at the same time.

"They've been seeing each other for six months," Steve informed them helpfully.

Natasha's brow arched, "So that would mean that that debrief you were late for about Loki was..."

"You mean the one I obviously missed due to sex?" Tony asked and Thor looked stricken for a moment. "Yeah. That was pretty much him."

"And the..." Steve gestured vaguely at his chin, his voice almost strangled.

"Would have been the first time," Tony asked, looking around at his teammates and wishing this conversation was really not happening.

"I knew there was something I could sense," Thor muttered.

Pepper watched Tony for a long moment before speaking again, "If you all are done?"

Steve shook his head, "Yeah. Just...guess telling you to make sure Fury doesn't find out is kinda pointless now."

"Not if he reads the paper," Tony muttered.

Pepper sighed, "Alright, all of you, shoo."

Clint nodded, taking off as quickly as he had appeared with another laugh. Natasha shook her head, taking the Enquirer with her. "I wanted that," Tony protested but didn't follow her.

"You can get one at any supermarket," Pepper reminded him, shooting Steve a look until Cap finally left as well, though Thor remained steadfastly there.

Pepper eyed him, but sighed, "Let's go down to the lab. We can lock them out then."

"Great," he said, turning. "That's where I was trying to go in the first place."

"I would have words with you," Thor said, voice low and Tony's shoulders tensed.

Pepper eyed the god, but finally nodded, "I get to be there though."

Thor nodded. "Of course," he said, sweeping a hand before him to allow her to go first, offering a gallant bow. Tony shook his head, making his way quickly to the lab before Banner woke up and found out too.

Pepper reached the door to the lab, typing in her code and opening the door. Tony went inside quickly, plopping down on a chair before turning to the thunder god. "Six months?" Thor asked. "So that time you came to me, in anger, asking me about his scars... was because you were with him?"

"Yeah," Tony said softly. "Did you ever see that bruised wrist I got for a while?"

Looking sad, Thor nodded. "He gave you that?"

"Touched his scars," Tony shrugged.

Pepper leaned against the workbench, "And the time in Malibu?"

"He poked around my lab," Tony said.

"The one..." It dawned on her, "The award I had made."

"Yes," he said quietly. "As well as that old prototype." He glanced at Thor. "Your brother's sortta jealous, you know?"

Pepper shook her head, glancing at Tony, "Well, the whole country's going to be talking about you now. Any chance I can get warning that I'll be running damage control ahead of time next time?"

"I'll try," Tony said softly. "It wasn't really supposed to become national news."

She offered him a faint smile, "No, I don't suppose it was..."

Thor considered him another moment before finally nodding. "Are you happy with my brother?" he asked and Tony nearly choked.

"I, yes?" he offered, swallowing hard. "I think so."

Pepper offered him a long look, laced with some almost unidentifiable emotion, "Oh, Tony..."

He managed not to wince at her. "Pepper," he said.

Pepper glanced at Thor before speaking again, "I know you can't predict your brother, but...six months? What does that mean for him?"

"Even his arranged marriage barely lasted so long," Thor said with a shrug.

Pepper blinked once at that, glancing at Tony, "Good to know..."

Tony carefully kept his expression neutral. "That he did not mention." Thor shrugged.

"Thor, do you need anything more?" Pepper asked, her gaze on Tony.

"I would speak to my brother," Thor said and Tony nodded.

"I'll pass along the message," he said past a very dry throat.

Tony's childhood friend kept her expression impassive, waiting for the god to leave so she oculd actually speak to Tony. The god hesitated, looking like he wanted more answers but he nodded and finally left, Tony sagging in his chair once he was gone.

Pepper looked at him for a long moment, "You going to be alright? Honestly."

"Honestly I just agreed to enter into an exclusive relationship with the god of chaos," Tony replied, running a hand over his face.

Her eyes widened, "An exclusive relationship. With...God, Tony."

"He told me it had to be just him or he wasn't doing it," Tony said, not quite meeting her eyes. "And I think I stepped into deep water the second time I allowed him in my bed."

"I think you're way past deep water by now, Tony. Six months...I mean even a month..."

"Oh, I was way out the sea the moment I told him I didn't want him using a Steve Rogers glamour to have sex with me," Tony replied.

Pepper just blinked at him, "Oh Tony...you don't ever just get into these things do you?"

"Apparently I do not," he agreed, finally meeting her eyes.

She offered him a faint smile, "I expect to hear if you need me for anything."

"You will," he said. "You already did in some ways. The ice cream, remember?"

"Right, though I didn't know what it was for."

"Well, you still helped," he said, giving her a soft smile. "And that's what's important, right?"

The red head nodded, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, "It is, yes." She shook her head, not addressing him for a moment, "JARVIS?"

"Yes, ma'am?" the AI asked as Tony narrowed his eyes at her.

"If he doesn't contact me, you have all my numbers and you know I want to hear."

"Yes ma'am," the voice agreed, sounding almost smug.

"Thank you all for the vote of confidence," Tony muttered.

"We don't doubt you, Tony, but I don't trust a god of chaos with you," Pepper responded.

"I suppose I can find that acceptable," he said, leaning back.

"Anything I can get you to bring by when I'm done with meetings today?"

"I'll be running tests," he said. "If you feel the need to feed me I think Thai would be lovely."

She smiled and it very nearly reached her eyes, "Thai it is. Have a good day, Tony."

"Good luck," he replied. "If you need me to make statements I'll work something up."

"I may just take you up on that," she answered, heading for the door.

"I'll live in terror until the moment you do," Tony called after her. "Have a good day in the office, honey!"

"I always do. Have fun inventing, dear," with that, Pepper was gone.

Tony sighed, leaning back further in his chair and wishing he had Dummy and You to distract him at this lab. There was something about the robots he built in college that was comforting. "Well," he said, clapping his hands to motivate himself. "Tests. Let's work on those tests."

Chapter Text

Loki had taken to working with the radio on softly as background noise and a couple of days after the public kiss he and Anthony had exchanged he was seriously considering the merits of scrambling the broadcast of every media outlet that could possibly have voice. There still hadn't been an official statement and the speculation made the god wish to strangle someone. He pinched the bridge of his nose and reached over to change the station, just in time to hear the announcer state that Tony Stark had finally given a statement earlier that day.

Listening carefully, the liesmith stared at the radio as Anthony spoke. "Oh, look, a press conference. I'm surprised you people even let me near these anymore. No, hands down, no questions yet. Yes, I'm sure by now all of you have seen the pictures of me and another man dancing and kissing. No, they were not photo shopped, no, they are not a publicity stunt. I don't care how much the O'Reilly factor is going to nail my ass for this, and I honestly don't care if anyone decides to take their business elsewhere over this. That man is my lover and I fully intend to keep him around for quite a while to come. No, you don't get to hear who he is because that's my business, not yours."

If more was said, the god didn't hear it, having vanished from his apartment. He appeared in the central room of the penthouse without thinking about it, "Did you mean that?"

Tony startled badly enough to drop the tablet. "Did I mean what?" he asked, back plastered to the couch.

"What you said. What is all over the airwaves. Did you mean it?"

"Would I have said it otherwise?" he asked, rising and trying to remember exactly what he had said and not placing which part had set the chaos god off. "I mean, that's a good thing right?"

Loki nodded, still looking completely shocked by it as he stepped forward and pressed a hard, desperate kiss to Anthony's lips.

Hands coming up automatically, Tony pulled away after a moment. "What did I say?" he murmured softly.

"You didn't deny it. You said you didn't care if you lost business over it. You..." Loki shook his head slightly, his green eyes still wide.

"If I was going to deny it, I would never have been seen with you in public," Tony whispered. "I've played this game far too long to screw up in that way. But, yes, I meant everything I said."

The god leaned in for another kiss, pulling the other close. Tilting his head back into the kiss, Tony hummed. One of Loki's hands slipped under the other's shirt as he pressed down into the kiss.

"I should say things in public more often," Tony laughed.

Loki chuckled as he nipped at Anthony's lower lip, "You've admitted me to your country, I don't know how many times you can do that."

"Well, I haven't said it in Spanish, Italian, French, Arabic or Chinese yet," he said, smirking. "Course, I can only speak two of those languages anyway."

The god laughed at that, relief washing over him, "No, not yet."

"I certainly could," Tony said. "With a translator for some of them."

"It's not necessary," Loki murmured, nipping at the other's jaw line.

Grinning again, Tony tilted his head back. "Do I even ask how you were listening?"

"I use the radio as a background noise when working."

Tony blinked once."Huh," he decided before pulling Loki's face back up.

Loki kissed him again, the motion less desperate this time. Tony hummed into the kiss, wrapping around it. The god moved them back a few steps, until Anthony's back was against a vertical surface—though Loki didn't fully process which surface that was.

The shorter man startled, eyes going wide when he ran into the window. "Loki," he managed.

The taller being pulled back slightly, "Yes?" His green eyes widened slightly as he realized where he held the other, "I..."

A slow grin spread across Tony's face and he wrapped his arms around Loki's shoulders. "Just don't throw me out again, okay?" he asked, the lights from New York below them lighting up the night sky.

Returning the smile, Loki leaned down, kissing the smaller man deeply, "I promise."

"Then we're good," Tony said, grinning into the kiss.

The god smirked at that, sliding Anthony's shirt off over the other's head, "Good."

Shifting, Tony wrapped his fingers around Loki's waist, slipping up under his clothes. "You planning on staying around for a while?"

"How do you mean?" he asked softly, tilting his head to kiss the smaller man's throat.

"Nothing," Tony shook his head. He'd declared to the entire English speaking world he was keeping Loki around with no idea how long the other was actually planning on staying.

"I don't intend to leave you," the god of chaos murmured, the words he spoke not fully sinking in.

"Okay," Tony said past a dry throat, feeling the glass against his shoulder blades.

Loki's hands traced over Anthony's bare skin before settling at the waistband of his pants, the god offering another kiss. Making a sound of want in his throat, Tony worked on pulling the god closer while leaving enough space to drag his clothes off.

o.o.o.o

Later that night, after they'd finally crawled into bed and fallen asleep, Tony Stark woke up, shaking the instant his muscles unclenched from the nightmare.

Loki woke more abruptly than he usually did without his wards, turning to look at the smaller man, "Anthony?"

"Y-yeah?" he asked, shifting around to bury his face in Loki's shoulder blades and allow himself a moment to recover where the other couldn't see his face.

"What have you dreamt of?"

"A cave in the desert," he muttered. "It was years ago."

Loki drew a deep breath, carefully turning over to place a hand on the other's cheek, "You're shaking."

"I'll be fine," he said, moving back a bare inch. "It's just a dream of an old event."

"Old events haunt us for all our lives. Whether they be our actions or those of another," Loki murmured. "I won't let you come to harm."

Eyes widening for a moment Tony didn't respond. "A little late," he said after a moment.

"Further harm, then," the immortal corrected.

For another moment, Tony remained silent. "There's an irony here," he said, voice soft. "That I'm not sure I want to think about."

Loki offered him a faint smile, "I cannot say that I wish to think on it either. But my point stands."

"It's an interesting point," Tony said, pushing himself up and drawing his knees to cover to arc reactor.

Drawing back enough to prop himself up on one elbow, the god considered him for a long moment, "We both have far too many waking terrors and wounds..."

Tony snorted. "Something like that," he said, one hand absently tracing the scars on his chest.

Loki reached out a hand to still Anthony's in its motion, but stopped himself just before he touched the other, "I wonder if we shall ever be able to lay our ghosts to rest."

"It's not about laying them to rest," Tony shrugged. "It's about moving the fuck on and living life anyway."

"Which is all well and good until you don't know which life you're supposed to live."

Pausing, Tony frowned and glanced over. "Huh?"

The god of chaos dropped his gaze at that, "When you find out you're not who you thought you were. What do you do then?"

He thought about the desert, about Yinsen, and swallowed. "Then you make yourself who you want to be," he replied.

Loki shook his head, "It's not that easy. When what you want to be is who you were, but it's all a lie. There's no returning to that."

"Then don't return and what are you even talking about?" Tony asked, just getting more and more confused.

"I am not the son of Odin All-Father and Frigga his bride. I found it out the day Thor was banished from Asgard," the younger prince of Asgard murmured.

Tony had missed the fact Thor ever got banished but he decided whatever tale that was could wait another day. "Parents aren't the most important thing, you know," he said, carefully keeping bitterness out of his voice.

"No, that can be true. But I am not even of Asgard. Nor of their nearest realm. And Odin lied to me about that for centuries."

"So where are you from?" Tony asked.

"Jötunheim," Loki's voice dropped until it was barely audible. "I am the son of the king of Jötunheim. The child of monsters, and the prince to the enemies of Asgard."

"Frost giants," Tony repeated, having actually read enough to understand that now. "Aren't you a little... small?" he managed, brain working desperately to process.

"Odin found me abandoned in the temple on the day he stole the heart of the realm from them. Up to his elbows in Jötunn blood and he saved a child to use as a political pawn," the god of chaos finally glanced up, shaking his head. "He kept his actions hidden from all of Asgard, though I know not how much he has since told them."

"Thor still calls you brother," Tony pointed out. "Though, I'm not sure he'd actually care about your heritage since he seems the loyal sort. So does it matter where you were born?"

Loki drew a deep breath, making sure they weren't touching, before he offered a half-shrug, "In most cases I might say no. But to be a Jötunn..."

"Have you ever acted like Jötunn?"

He ticked his transgressions off on his fingers, "Well, let's see. I let them in, twice, I took the throne of Asgard, I sent the destroyer to kill Thor and his friends, and I attempted to obliterate an entire realm. From what I have heard of the Jötunn? Yes."

Tony blinked and figured it was time for a new tactic. "Okay, so a little chaos got spread around then, some destruction. But you're still able to make yourself who you want to be. I went from creation to Merchant of Death and came out Iron Man. You're in America now and we're all about the self-made man."

Loki considered him for a long moment before sighing and finally coming to a decision, "Even in your America there are people judged by how they look, not by their actions, am I mistaken?"

There was no way Tony could deny that. "No, but that doesn't mean we still don't like the self made."

"Then here, I may have some promise, but in the realm that I have called home for the last several centuries? It is very much about your heritage." He drew a shaky breath, "Would...would you like to see, to know the final answer to that question you asked me weeks ago regarding my temperature?"

"Do you want me to?"

"I will show you. But I ask that this conversation not carry on farther than that."

"This conversation?" Tony asked, frowning slightly.

"I have no desire to continue to speak of Jötunn, Asgard, or the idea of the self-made man, for I know what actions I have taken since coming to your realm," he murmured in response.

"Alright," Tony said softly, keeping his expression neutral.

Loki closed his eyes, concentrating on the form he was shedding and the one he was taking on. He allowed the heat and color to bleed away from his flesh, the pale skin giving way to deep blue with the swirling marks of Jötunheim's royal house on his brow. He swallowed hard and opened his eyes—no longer a bright grass green but a fiery orange-red.

For a long moment Tony just stared, blinking before he reached a hand out carefully to feel Loki's cheek, drawing back when he found the skin much colder. "JARVIS," he said softly and the panel on the wall moved to indicate that the AI was listening. "Bring lights up fifteen percent and hit the temperature up seven degrees."

Loki's eyes widened, something bordering on panic creeping into his voice causing it to shake ever so slightly, "Anthony, don't. Please don't."

"Shush," Tony said, rolling over to straddle the taller as the room brightened slightly, carefully keeping himself from touching his skin, and bracing his hands on either side of his head.

Loki's breathing accelerated, his gaze darting about for an escape, "Anthony..."

Ignoring him, Tony leaned over carefully, kissing him as deeply as he could without touching him anywhere else. The Jötunn sorcerer stilled at that. He hesitated for a moment, trying to determine how to react before he leaned further into the pillows rather than into the kiss. Mouth starting to go numb, Tony drew back slightly, wetting his lips and feeling them start to regain feeling.

Loki's gaze flickered over the other's features, "I...Wh-why?"

"Why what?" he asked, cocking his head to one side.

"Risk frostbite for a kiss. I can return to my other form easily enough," his tone was uncertain, confused.

"Because given enough time it is entirely my intention to find some way of sleeping with you in this form," Tony replied, leaning over to lightly kiss one of the raised marks on his face.

Loki gaped at him, "You...truly?"

"Uh-huh," Tony managed, not feeling articulate, too distracted by tracing the different marks.

The prince of two realms smiled at him in disbelief, "I..." He closed his eyes, leaning slightly into the touch on the birthmarks.

"Probably need some sort of lotion or salve for the skin," Tony was musing aloud. "A special condom to keep out the cold," he added, already working on how such devices would function. "Because, ugh, you're beautiful."

Red eyes snapped open at that, one brow arching in disbelief, "You can't be serious."

"Entirely," he said, fingers inching over to tangle in Loki's hair, and the inventor grinned when the strands didn't nearly freeze his fingers off.

Loki tilted his head into the touch for the briefest of moments before reverting to his Asgardian form and leaning up to press an insistent kiss on the smaller man's lips. Tony grinned even wider. "But for now this is good," he said, tilting his head in for another kiss, biting at the god's mouth.

o.o.o.o

Nearly two weeks later, Loki was at a small coffee shop near his residence. He knew himself capable of making better food than this place offered, but he couldn't be bothered that day. His focus had been shot to pieces since showing Anthony his Jötunn form. Sipping at the weak tea the barista had made, the god of chaos allowed his gaze to drift toward the television in the corner of the room. What he saw made him freeze.

The news which had been playing docily enough had been cut off with a live broadcast of the current battle the Avengers were involved in. The god's gaze was focused on the screen, trying to spot the recognizable flash of red and gold that indicated Iron Man's suit. There was no sign of it among the combatants. Before he could consider better of it, Loki exited the shop and called his armor to him and into place, vanishing in a cloud of smoke.

Stepping out of the smoke near to the battle, the god of mischief looked around frantically. He sent a spell flickering out before him to locate Anthony and finally spotted him—without his armor. He raced over, catching the other by the arm and pulling them both through his next transportation spell before an errant blast could catch either of them.

The big bad wrecker of the day had appeared when Tony Stark was leaving a meeting, even his briefcase suit nowhere to be found. Watching the creature smash into a building, Tony had calmly called in the cavalry and hoped someone would remember to bring a spare suit with them.

Thor was doing battle with the creature and the other's were at most a minute out when he suddenly felt a wrenching and looked up to find Loki holding his arm.

Loki pulled them through, waving the last wisps of his magic away and only then realizing he'd drawn them to the smaller man's lab. He hadn't been there, and hadn't sent a seeking spell—they were lucky not to have ended up halfway through the wall. His gaze darted about before focusing on Stark, "What were you doing out there?"

"Walking, actually," Tony said, dusting his suit off and taking the sunglasses he'd been wearing off, giving them up for a lost cause with one lenses cracked.

"You didn't even have your suit!" The god exclaimed.

"Well," Tony said, glancing down at himself. "I have a suit. But I was in a business meeting!"

"And then what? You just thought waiting for the team to arrive rather than get off the street was a good idea?"

A frown appeared between Tony's eyes. "I was getting other people off the street first."

"Oh, right. The hero," Loki's lip curled ever so slightly at that.

"Excuse me?" Tony asked and one of the panels on the wall flickered, JARVIS waking up and asking what was wrong. Tony waved him off, eyes trained on the god in front of him.

"You heard me. Always playing at being the hero, that's you." The liesmith couldn't handle the emotions he could feel roiling within him when he had know that Stark was in danger, and he certainly didn't wish to deal with what had possessed him to show the other his third form.

"You act as if that's a revelation," Tony snapped back.

Loki shook his head, his tone condescending, "Oh, it's certainly not. I just, for some strange reason, expected more of you than others."

"People who expect things from me tend to be disappointed," Tony said, flicking another piece of plaster off the shoulder of his suit.

"You know, Thor finds you Midgardians so amusing, I can't help but think he's missing how incredibly boring each and every one of you is," the taller being remarked.

The smaller man froze. "Come again?" he asked, frowning at the other.

"I am quite certain you heard me. You all think you're so unique, while each and every one of you is a composite of others, tear away your facades and what are you? Take you for instance, Mr. Stark."

"What bee got in your fucking bonnet today?" Tony demanded, shaking his head and striding for the door.

Loki's eyes narrowed, a word from him sealing the door firmly, "What are you, Anthony Stark?"

"Lots of things," he said, pulling once at the door and scowling before turning around. Leaning back against the door, he crossed his arms over his chest. "But I have the feeling you want to tell me something specific so why don't you just go?"

The god's gaze swept over him, the knife of his words poised to find the weak points in the shield Anthony Stark had built, "You're a superhero, except it's not your own idea as you grew up on stories of Captain Rogers," the name was laced with contempt. "A brilliant scientist, but wait, your team has another one—albeit rather prone to destructive rages. A billionaire playboy, but those are a dime a dozen these days from what I can see. So what are you?" He drove the blade home, "You're a sad little boy crying for his father's attention and approval in a tin suit."

Tony's jaw worked, unable to actually force any words out for a long moment. "At least I never had a father's love to squander," he shot back, remembering pieces of conversation with a crestfallen Thor and hints Loki had dropped of his parentage.

Loki's lips curled back in a silent snarl before he took aim again, "No, you never did. You never were good enough for the great Howard Stark. So when he gave you no attention you sought it elsewhere. Up until this ragtag team, your father ignored you, your father figure took a hit out on you, your secretary is here because you pay her, and the only real friend you had beat the living daylights out of you with your own suit. It's no wonder Howard ignored you. You're not much to speak of. The media rips you to shreds when they're not playing to your ego."

"Yeah, but I sure as hell caught your attention," Tony muttered, eyes wide and trying to process exactly what was going on.

"You were an amusement, Stark," the god of lies responded icily. "And to everyone else you're a liability. Look at your team. Agent Romanoff is exactly that, a well trained agent, with history stretching back further than Captain Rogers. Rogers, an American icon, a super soldier, and a folk hero who you can't hope to ever measure up to. Banner's a brilliant scientist who doubles as a wrecking ball. Barton's a sure shot. And Thor? He's Asgardian, which as much as I am loathe to admit it means he's a full step above the strongest, bravest, and most reckless of you. And he's certainly more durable. Even your handlers bring more to the table. All you have is a house they can use and a lab full of trinkets." Turning this blade shouldn't be causing the trickster as much pain as it was, but he would be damned if he let it continue.

For a handful of seconds Tony Stark was struck speechless. "Go to hell," he said, voice soft. At least now he knew where the insult came from and hopefully what it would mean.

Loki stiffened at that, "I am trying and have been trying for a year. You leave her out of this." He shook his head, trying to regain his icy calm, throwing his last barb, "You're nothing, Stark. Nothing more than a little boy playing dress-up in his father's clothes." With those words, he waved a hand to release the door and vanished, the temperature throughout the lab dropping several degrees.

Tony had snarled at him when told to leave Hel out of it, considering the wide range of people the chaos god had brought to the table. "Why not insult Dummy too while you're at it?" he yelled to the empty room before turning to stalk upstairs, being confronted with Hawkeye coming down, briefcase in hand.

"Dude, Stark, where the hell were you? We could have used your help and I even went through the effort to get your suit for you—" Clint started and stopped dead at Tony's expression.

Pepper Potts came rushing down the stairs. It had taken her an extra ten minutes to get to the mansion after JARVIS called her because of closed streets. She pushed Clint aside and stopped in her tracks at the sight of Tony.

"Don't start," he told her evenly as Clint backed up several steps.

She shook her head, "I wasn't going to. JARVIS called me." Pepper glanced at the archer, "Go on back upstairs. Keep the others away for now. And you say a single word and I'll break that bow of yours, got it?"

"I have more bows," he said, automatically, setting the briefcase down. "I'll just leave this here," he added and took the stairs quickly.

Pepper watched him go before looking back at Tony, "I'm not even going to ask if you want to talk about it. But are you going to be alright?"

"If I ever figured out what happened," he replied and paused a beat. "I was an amusement, apparently."

Her eyes widened and she started to reach for him, but stopped herself, "Oh, Tony, that can't have been true."

"No," he said, and shook his head. "At least I didn't trust him for thirty years first."

Pepper frowned at that, "Tony...Is there anything I can do?"

He shook his head again. "No. I don't know."

"You can't have just been an amusement. Not for six months," she murmured.

"You're over estimating either him or me," he replied, looking around the lab and suddenly wishing he was in Malibu.

"He's an idiot then," Pepper spoke simply. "To give you up, to do whatever the hell it is he just did to you."

Tony's smile was sardonic. "Well, he possibly saved my life somewhere in there, but we'll never really know."

She pinched the bridge of her nose, her patience breaking, "Anthony Stark, stop traipsing around this issue. You're hurt, badly, and for once in your life would you let me help you?"

For a moment he didn't reply. "How would you even start?"

His childhood friend looked momentarily pained, "I don't know. I just...I want to help, Tony. Please don't lock yourself away after this?"

Swallowing, he nodded. "I'm going back to Malibu, barring any Avengers based emergencies. It's closer, isn't it?"

Pepper nodded, "I'll be there the day after tomorrow. I have a big meeting tomorrow with some shareholders and then I can be in California for quite a while, alright?"

"Alright," he agreed. "I'll be fine, Pepper."

She shook her head, "Not for a while you won't. I expect to find you conscious and not suffering alcohol poisoning when I get there, got it?"

His smile turned strained. "I'll try to avoid that."

Pepper sighed, "Just...be careful. I'll see you in a couple days."

"I promise to still be alive then," he said.

"You need me sooner than that you call me, got it?"

"I will," he said, voice going quieter. "Mostly because I know if I don't, the AI will, and I'd prefer to be the one to do it."

"JARVIS worries, as much as an AI can," she offered. "We all do." Hesitating for a moment she held out a hand to him, "I'll be there soon."

He nodded, already turning to the lab to find some sort of distraction.

She watched him for a moment before retreating up the stairs and into one of the side rooms, "JARVIS, what happened?"

"Loki transported them both in," the AI replied. "And something went wrong. They fought. I'll have the tape sent to your office, ma'am." Even the AI didn't feel like repeating some of the things they said.

"Send it to my computer, I'll deal with it there," she instructed as she headed for the door.

"Very good, ma'am," JARVIS said.

Chapter Text

The first night back at Malibu, Tony slept in the lab, draped over the work bench. He woke up with his back aching.

The second night, after fruitlessly working on a god tracker as well as aimlessly working through some sort of powder for skin that could keep the cold out—justifying that it could be used in arctic expeditions, or in battle against frost giants—he dressed up in a well pressed suit and went to the nearest party. He didn't get entirely drunk, but he did end up dragging back some nameless girl only to kick her out the next morning.

The third day a worried Steve Rogers showed up and Tony kicked him out. When Pepper found him he hadn't quite passed out of alcohol poisoning, but it was a close call.

The fourth night he talked to JARVIS about the feasibility of selling the penthouse attached to Stark Tower, and instead spent the day on remodeling sums. That night when he went out, he picked someone up with dark green eyes and it didn't help a thing.

On the fifth day after Loki had torn him apart, Pepper finally finished arguing with herself and borrowed Tony's jet to take a trip back to New York for the day. She strode into the Avenger's mansion, anger, stress, and frustration rolling off of her in waves. Locating Thor she tossed the disc she had made of the fight down in front of him, "Convince me not to track down your brother and break his kneecaps—at the very least."

Thor blinked, lifting the disc up. "Ah, Jane has been trying to show me more of these. What does this have to do with my brother?"

"This is the recording JARVIS took of what he did to Tony that has left him completely broken," Pepper answered, her voice too even.

The place behind Thor's eyes snapped and he handed the disc back to her. "I believe you understand how to play this better than I do."

She nodded once, moving over to the TV and sliding the disc into the player beside it. Taking a step back she crossed her arms to watch the same scene she'd seen unfold a dozen times in the past four days. Throughout the surprisingly short tape, Thor's jaw tensed further and further. "I was not aware," he said when it finished.

Pepper ejected the disc, "I didn't expect you to be. No one was. JARVIS couldn't even let me know it himself, he had to send it to me."

"My brother—" Thor started and shook his head. "How is the Man of Iron doing?"

"Well, he hasn't drunk himself into a stupor, but I'm pretty sure that's not from lack of trying. He's taken two different women to his bed in the past four days, and the most I've seen of him outside the lab was when he picked them up."

For a long moment, Thor considered. "It has been a long time since I had a way to speak to my brother."

"So there's no way to let him have it for doing this then?" Pepper asked. It was days like this that she really wished she had taken up some pastime that would let her take out her aggression where it would either be productive or not damage someone badly.

"I will look for him," Thor said. "I would have words with him over this."

"Thank you," she murmured. "I...I'm going to leave the disc for Steve. Just so he doesn't try coming to offer Tony comfort again. Have him break it for me when he's done with it, would you?"

Thor nodded. "Thank you, for showing me this. I hope to use this knowledge wisely."

"See that you do." Pepper left, stopping by Steve's room long enough to drop off the disc before taking the plane back to California.

o.o.o.o

It only took a moment in Tony's presence for Thor to realize something was wrong. He'd walked into the lab after making his way to Malibu and walked back out before Tony noticed he was there over the blaring music. "Brother," he said, once out on the patio of the mansion. "I would have words with you. Now. Loki, come here!"

There was a long moment before a bright green flash of magic shone on the roof, dissipating to leave the sorcerer perched on the eaves, "Have your words, then, Prince of Asgard."

Thor blinked, having not actually expected that to be so easy. "Have you lost whatever mind you still had?"

Loki's eyes narrowed slightly before he leaned back, resting on his hands and smirking lazily, "I've no idea what you mean, brother."

"I am sure you have every idea," Thor said, gesturing downwards. "What purpose does this serve?"

"He had outlasted the use I had for him," the liesmith answered.

"If that was the case it would have happened long ago," Thor said, shaking his head. "Your relationship with him has lasted almost as long as your marriage. I am not a fool, Loki, and I recognize your work."

The god of mischief arched an eyebrow, "Then do enlighten me, brother. What do you recognize here?"

"I saw the tape of your last interaction," Thor dropped between them. "You have shot people down like that before. It is only because they are getting too close."

His expression shuttered off completely at that, "I have no idea what you are implying, Thor."

"You looked as pained as he did," Thor said. "What do you hope to get out of breaking a mortal's heart, brother?"

"That is none of your concern, Your Highness," he answered icily.

"It is when my team mate is hurting and my brother is being an idiot."

"Stop calling me that," Loki snapped, finally sitting up fully.

"You are my brother," Thor shrugged. "Whatever happens."

The dark-haired god narrowed his eyes again, "I do wonder why I bother speaking to you anymore."

For a second Thor looked like he'd been struck before he rolled his shoulders. "You haven't bothered, in a very long time. You spoke to Anthony plenty it seems."

"Do you honestly wonder why I stopped bothering?" He'd found the chink in his brother's armor and he would use it if it diverted conversation from Stark, "We've not been close in eons and it's only grown worse since your coronation day."

"You mean the day I was banished and by the time I returned you were trying to destroy an entire world?" Thor returned, aghast. "We were plenty close before, then, brother, but everything since..."

"Oh do not take that tone with me. You would have dragged Asgard into war to accomplish exactly what I was trying to do," Loki's lip curled into a sneer.

"I learned," Thor said, quietly.

"And what did you possibly learn, Thor? What could you have learned that would change your mind so greatly about the monsters in Jötunheim?"

"They are part of our universe, and it is worth protecting all," Thor shook his head. "You are trying to distract me."

"I have no cause to distract you, Thor. There is nothing further for us to discuss," Loki responded, still perched on the roof, appreciating the height difference it gave him over the other god for once.

Thor rolled his eyes. "You have every cause," he said. "Since I was questioning your treatment of Anthony Stark. Do you know what he's working on down there, right now?"

"If you saw the recording then I am sure you know I care not at all," the smaller god responded.

"He's working on something to protect the bare skin from cold. I believe he muttered about arctic voyages, but I think it's something different, don't you, brother?"

Loki paled very slightly, "I am certain that if he says it is for arctic voyages then that is what he intends it for."

"Bare skin?" Thor asked, arching a brow.

"I have no idea what goes on in that mind of his. I never did."

"Why do you do this, Loki?" Thor asked, shaking his head. "What do you gain from it?"

"Freedom."

"From what?" the blond god demanded.

"My decisions are my concern, Thor. Keep your prying for those who care," Loki answered.

"You are a fool," Thor replied.

"Says the man who befriends mortals daily."

"You consider friendship foolish, don't you?" Thor sighed, shaking his head at his brother again.

"I consider friendship with those that will perish within the next fifty years, if you are lucky that they live that long, foolish."

Something shifted in Thor's eyes. "That's because when you give your heart you do it fully and are unable to give it up."

Loki's jaw tensed, "Then you seem to have the answer to all of your questions today."

"Brother, don't do this," Thor said, shaking his head. "Please."

"Don't do what?" Loki asked sharply, looking down at his older brother.

"Do this to him and to yourself," Thor said, crossing his arms over his chest.

"You say you saw the recording. If so, you know that request is futile."

"Watching the tape showed me you were in love with him."

Loki froze completely at that, managing a weak "You're lying."

"I know you too well," Thor returned and narrowed his eyes slightly, considering. "And from your reaction I can only surmise I was correct."

The god of lies pulled himself together, shaking his head, "He was an amusement. A distraction. Nothing more."

Thor sighed, finally going so far as to rake a hand through his hair. "Brother, do you know yourself so little?"

Loki looked at him for a long moment, "No, Thor. I know myself too well. And I will not have that weakness."

The broad shouldered god shook his head. "You do. You always have."

His brother's jaw tensed, "If you're quite finished?"

"Did you know he started reading the myths?" Thor asked, not finished at all. "He came into my room at midnight, yelling about it all, demanding answers. He was angry at me, not you."

"He asked me about the children when I found him with the book," Loki admitted quietly.

Thor's expression became guarded, wary. "Fenrir misses you," he said, trying to sound mild. "So does mother. But you know what was most striking? Of all the tricks you played, all the pain you unleashed, the only legend that made the Man of Iron angry? Was when you tricked the dwarves. And he certainly wasn't annoyed at your part in it."

The god of chaos dropped lightly from the roof to land beside his brother finally, "I have done much damage in my time, but this is one cruelty I do not think I can make recompense for."

"You could try," Thor returned calmly.

"I wouldn't even know how to start, and I am not certain I am willing to do so, yet."

"He is downstairs," Thor said with a small shrug.

Loki took a half-step back, his gaze flickering toward the house, "I...I will take what you said into consideration, Thor."

"Good," he said with a quick nod. The smaller god considered his brother for a moment before he vanished. Sighing, Thor decided he really did not want to know how Anthony was doing, opting instead to head home.

o.o.o.o

Loki stepped out of the weave of his transportation spell and into the lab where Anthony was working. He made certain he was visible in the other's periphery—it would do no good to startle him any further than that. Which might have worked if Tony was anyone else. When working his entire focus narrowed to the device suspended in front of him, music blaring in the background.

The god drew a deep breath to steel himself and took a couple of steps forward, speaking up just enough to be heard over the music, "What are you working on?"

The smaller man froze, entirely screwing up the circuit he was working on. Reaching over, he slammed a hand down on the volume, shutting the music off before finally glancing up. "A lie detector."

His gaze darting around, never resting on the smaller man for more than a brief instant, Loki nodded slightly, "I see..."

"So I figured I could start testing it on Natasha, since she's the best liar besides you I know," Tony said, voice carefully mild.

"Sif." The liesmith advised mutedly, "Natasha is mortal, or mostly so. It is a different physiology."

Finally Tony turned around to meet his eyes. "You think this is for you then?"

"I think that if you want to cover more than the human eventualities you will likely want to test it on those of another realm," he answered, glancing away. "Considering the different creatures and such that you have need to deal with, you may want to think about it."

"So, Sif?" Tony asked, rolling a capsule around in his hands.

Loki nodded very slightly, "Sif. If you can convince her to allow you to test it."

"I'll keep that in mind," Tony murmured, still looking him over. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm still not entirely sure. I..." he shook his head, "Probably I should not have come."

"Probably thinking you're right," Tony said.

"I..." He closed his eyes, cursing himself for being unable to form the sentence he needed and make it sound sincere.

Considering him, Tony used a hand to gesture over to another work bench. "By the way, I think I figured out how to keep skin from getting frostbite. You think the Asgardians might like something of that nature?"

Loki's gaze came up, looking at the other for a long moment, "I am certain they could put it to good use."

"Good to know my work can be useful," Tony said, lounging back in the chair but keeping his gaze on Loki's eyes.

The god looked away first, "I shall leave you to it then."

"You didn't come out all this way for this," Tony said, eyes narrowing slightly.

"Thor summoned me to talk on your patio," Loki admitted, faintly.

Tony's eyes widened and then closed as he tried to process that. "He... right. Okay, that's probably normal wherever you people come from."

"He was here. And...he was displeased. I am sorry. I'll go now."

Tony made an irritated sound in the back of his throat. "He was displeased? And you're sorry? For what?"

"He is Thor, he rarely grows angry without a thunderstorm to herald it. And...I..." He could admit it, couldn't he? He wasn't truly a coward, was he? "For trespassing upon your time today." Apparently the answers were no and yes respectively.

"Well, tell him thanks for not causing a thunderstorm then," Tony said, turning away.

Loki closed his eyes and drew a steadying breath, "You shall see him before I do." With those words he vanished again, retreating to New York.

Folding his arms on the table, Tony thudded his head between them. When he finally propped his chin back up, the little plaque Pepper made him caught his eye. "Proof that Tony Stark has a heart," he muttered, letting his forehead hit the desk again. "I really wish I didn't."

o.o.o.o

Several days later, Tony approached Thor. "I need to get to Asgard."

Thor blinked. "You..." he started and shook his head. "Is there a particular reason?"

"Well, the lie detector worked great on Natasha, but, well, I figure I need to test it on Asgardians too, to be the most effective."

The blond god gave him a very long look.

"You don't lie well," Tony said quickly.

"Is not Asgard a drastic step?" the thunder god asked after another moment.

"Sure," Tony shrugged. "But you really don't want to see the step that I'm going to be taking to draw your brother out after I get this thing working. Think it's doable?"

The taller paused a moment and nodded. "It is... achievable..."

Natasha entered the room at that moment, "What's achievable?" She glanced between the thunder god and their resident inventor.

"Getting the Man of Iron to Asgard," Thor replied and Tony shrugged.

"You're going to Asgard?" The agent arched an eyebrow, "Unsanctioned?"

"There's sanctions for these sorts of things?" Tony asked, blinking as if the very idea had never occurred to him.

"The Director would figure so, rather than let you cause an inter-realm incident."

"I'm not going to cause an inter-realm issue," Tony protested. "I just want to test something is all."

"My people are always ready to welcome a hero and my friend," Thor added, frowning at her slightly for the implication his sanction was not enough.

Natasha shook her head at both of them, smiling faintly, "I still think it best if you at least take someone along who can cover your asses with Fury."

They exchanged a look. "You're just volunteering because you want to see the place," Tony shot back but Thor beamed.

Black Widow grinned at that, "Of course I am. A home of such renowned warriors? Who wouldn't want to?"

"Banner?" Tony offered and Thor clapped him on the back.

"I shall make the preparations!"

"How long will those likely take, Thor?" Tasha asked.

"Not long at all," he said. "A matter of hours even," he said, considering. "It is more than anything attracting Heimdall's attention."

"Perfect," she replied, offering him a smile.

Tony looked between Natasha and Thor. "I'll go pack, then, shall I?"

"Do you want a hand with that?" Black Widow checked.

"I'm pretty sure I can pack my own equipment," he huffed, leaving quickly.

She watched him go and glanced at Thor, her expression serious, "You think this'll help or hurt him?"

"I am not sure," he said, own expression matching hers. "He thinks it will help him though."

"Then let's hope it does."

o.o.o.o

Shortly thereafter, Thor, Tony and Natasha stood in Heimdall's observatory, the imposing god in gold armor staring them down impassively.

"Well that was different," Natasha murmured, looking up at Heimdall before glancing at Thor. "How long has the bifrost been repaired?"

"Not long," he said, shaking his head slightly.

Tony clutched the case holding his instruments over his chest, thinking how odd the glow from the arc reactor looked surrounded by so much gold and otherworldly colors. He realized the gatekeeper was eying him oddly and gave the other a massive grin.

"Anthony Stark," Heimdall greeted. "I feel like I've seen much of you."

"You enjoy being the voyeur then?" Tony asked, remembering the prophecies he'd read and resenting the gatekeeper on sight. Thor looked mildly alarmed.

Natasha shot Tony a look, "Don't start..."

"I started nothing," Tony said, glancing over at her.

"Keep it that way," she had tried for more of a question, but it came out sounding more like an order—which she knew wouldn't work.

Tony narrowed his eyes at her and suddenly Thor had a hand on his back, pushing him lightly past. "Hey—" he started to protest and Thor shook his head.

"Heimdall and Loki have never gotten along," Thor muttered. "Please, let us go."

"Yeah, I sortta picked up on that," Tony said under his breath but allowed himself to be steered. "I don't like him."

"Hush," Thor said.

"You don't like a lot of people," Natasha muttered as they headed out of the observatory. "Norse myth dealing with that hasn't happened yet, so you can stop glaring."

"It's not just that," Tony protested.

Thor scowled. "I should never have let you get me drunk on human mead."

"Damn straight," Tony said, starting to look cheerier. "You have no idea the stories you told me about your time here."

Natasha rolled her eyes skyward before directing her attention to the long walk to Asgard's capital along the bifrost, "We should have sent ahead for horses..."

Tony stopped dead when he finally raised his eyes. "Oh my god."

Thor grinned, clapping him on the shoulder. "The walk will give you time to absorb the surroundings," he said, and soon regretted it as Tony pelted him with every question possible about the bifrost and city as they walked. Natasha laughed to herself, Thor should have known better. Though even in her amusement she listened carefully to his answers, filing it all away.

They finally reached the main hall and Thor look relieved for others to deal with Tony. Volstagg looked up from where he was putting together a rather large plate of meats and cheeses. A wide grin split his features, "Thor! My goodly friend!"

Tony startled, holding the briefcase up over his chest again as Thor roared in approval. "The Warriors Three!" he beamed, throwing his arms out and Fandral grinned at him from where he was polishing his sword.

Natasha arched an eyebrow as the third member of the Warriors, Hogun, offered Thor a faint quirk of his lips and a nod in greeting.

Thor glanced between Hogun and Natasha and laughed, his face lighting up again when Sif came around the corner. "And Sif!" he beamed, quite happy to steal some of Volstagg's food on his way over to lift the slender woman in a hug.

"Thor, it is good you've returned," she said, kicking him in the shins and he put her down quickly. Her eyes went over to Natasha and slid over to Tony, stopping there. For once, Tony looked entirely out of place.

Black Widow sized the other woman up, quickly categorizing her as a dangerous opponent, but a far better ally. She wasn't so kind in her opinions of the Warriors Three. Volstagg made some half-hearted protest when Thor stole a bit of his "small repast." Hogun approached silently to stand beside the large, bearded man. Natasha re-categorized him rapidly as a potentially strong ally, if not one she would fight back-to-back with.

Fandral poked his head around Volstagg. "Who have you brought with you then, Thor?" he asked, giving both Natasha and Tony what he hoped was a charming, seductive grin. Thor looked horrified for a second.

"Natasha and Anthony."

"Okay you have got to stop that," Tony snapped out, finally breaking out of his daze when presented with too many Asgardians.

"Stop—" Thor stared with a frown.

"The Anthony thing," Tony said. "My name is Tony and I'm quite happy with it."

Natasha smirked at Fandral, oh that could be fun, in a 'no way in hell, but you're welcome to try' sort of way, though her glance at Tony held a glimmer of concern.

Fandral moved his interest to Tony. "Well, then, Tony, welcome to Asgard—"

"I wouldn't," Thor said, knowing his friend too well.

"Wouldn't?" Fandral offered, looking over at Thor innocently as the larger god looked him down.

"He is Loki's lover," Thor replied, hopping to stop Fandral in the bud.

"Former," Tony protested, a hand coming up as he glared at Thor and Sif looked at the mortal in a whole different way he was sure he didn't appreciate. "I ask everyone to respect the former bit."

"The point still stands," Natasha murmured.

Volstagg blinked, and looked at Thor, "How long?"

"Does that matter?" Tony demanded and Sif answered almost before he finished speaking.

"Yes."

Hogun nodded once, backing Sif up.

"Well, frankly it's not your business—" Tony started.

"Over six months," Thor answered for him and for a moment Tony looked like he was going to hit the god with the briefcase.

Volstagg froze with a piece of meat halfway to his mouth and Hogun's brows rose toward his hairline. The red-headed Warrior gaped at Thor, "Six months? A half a year?"

Thor nodded.

"Does that matter?" Tony repeated, disliking the way Sif was considering him.

Hogun finally spoke, "The only reason his marriage to Angrboda lasted longer was the treaty."

"And the children," Fandral added.

"Look, this is not about my sex life," Tony protested. "He made his thoughts on me very clear and—okay, actually this is sortta about my sex life but not really!"

"Then what is it about?" Fandral asked, tilting his head to the side in confusion.

"I'm trying to make a lie detector," Tony said after a pause and Sif gaped at him.

"You want to detect the god of lies when he lies?" she asked.

"Basically," Tony shrugged. "By the way, he recommended testing it out on you." Really, he thought. If this was any other situation the way her eyes widened would have been comical beyond words.

"But why would you need to test it on Sif? Or on any of us for that matter." Volstagg asked, frowning slightly.

"Because humans are different from Asgardians and—and honestly I'm not walking into Jötunheim for this so Asgardians make better test subjects."

"Jötunheim?" Sif asked with a frown.

"Did I say Jötunheim?" Tony asked, grinning in a way that put Fandral to shame.

"What has Jötunheim to do with this?" Volstagg just ended up looking more confused.

Natasha shrugged a shoulder and spoke up finally, presenting what could be a passable excuse, "He's been reading the myths the Norsemen handed down to us for the first time. The locations are still scrambling in his head."

"That's insulting," he said, glancing over at her and bit his lip. "But we'll go with that."

"So what is the truth?" Sif demanded.

"Nothing," Tony said, quickly and tried not to look over at Thor. "It's really just mixing sounds up, stuff like that. Anyway, so, can I do some tests and get some read outs, please?"

Natasha had shot him a look at his protest. So much for even the semblance of a viable lie. Hogun shrugged and Volstagg nodded, "If it will aid you."

"Great," he said, dropping the brief case on the table and setting the work up quickly, wishing he'd remembered his sunglasses.

Chapter Text

Several hours later, Tony's hair was a mess from how many times he'd run a hand through it and the frown between Thor's eyes was not letting up. One of the palace servants entered the hall and approached the Crown Prince, "Your Highness?"

"Yes?" he asked, inclining his head as Tony started swearing rapidly at a piece of technology. Fandral looked impressed.

"The King and Queen request your presence and that of your guests."

That got Tony's attention. "Come again?"

"Would you like to meet my parents?" Thor asked.

"No," he replied, abruptly and blunt and for a moment all the Asgardians looked shocked.

Natasha drew a deep breath and glanced at her teammate, "Tony..."

The servant looked uncertainly at the prince, "What shall I tell them, your highness?"

"We'll be there momentarily," Thor answered. "All of us." Tony glared at him but shrugged after another moment. The servant bowed and hurried away to let the rulers of Asgard know.

For a moment Tony and Thor had a staring contest. "I'm not getting out of this, am I?" Tony sighed, starting to pack the instruments up and snapping the case shut.

"You have all the information you need, do you not?" Thor asked.

"Yes," Tony muttered.

"No, you do not get out of it."

"It's not as bad as all of that, Tony," Natasha murmured. "Just try to keep your mouth shut and everything should be fine."

Both men gave her a look. "Have I ever kept my mouth shut?" Tony asked.

Moments later they were ushered into the throne room of Asgard, Tony nearly cracking his neck when he craned it to look around.

Frigga offered them a gentle smile from her seat at Odin's right hand. The Allfather's single eye swept over the three of them, "Welcome back to Asgard, my son. Welcome, honored guests."

"Yo," Tony said with a lazy wave.

"Mother, father," Thor greeted with a smile and Tony choked on how much love was on everyone's faces and in Thor's tone.

Natasha bowed slightly, "Your majesties."

Odin rose from his throne and moved down the stairs, "What brings the three of you to Asgard?"

"My companion, A—Tony Stark had a request to run some tests," Thor said, gesturing back to the inventor.

The Allfather's brows drew together, "Tests?"

"Well, your son is a horrible liar," Tony shrugged. "I mean, this son, not your sortta kinda other son. He's a really good liar which was entirely the problem."

Thor bit his lip. "He was attempting to create something that required understanding Asgardians."

Frigga's gaze held understanding, but Odin still looked unconvinced, "And just what was that thing?"

Thor stumbled for a moment and Tony shrugged. "Lie detector that worked on non-humans."

"And you wish to use it for what purpose, exactly?"

Tony arched a brow and shrugged after a moment. "Honestly? Who do you think I would use an Asgard lie detector on except your resident, or not so resident, god of lies?"

Odin considered him for a long moment, "That presumes you would ever be able to focus it upon the trickster."

"It does," Tony agreed and Thor started to look more uncomfortable. "But considering how often I've managed to get him, well, around, I might be able to manage it in a vaguely timely fashion."

The Allfather looked at him skeptically, "Loki Liesmith is not one to do as is wished of him."

For a second the inventor just looked at him before he started laughing, unable to help it. "I noticed that."

Odin scowled at him for a moment, before Frigga's voice rang out clearly, "You have treated him well, Tony Stark. For that I thank you."

Tony blinked. "I've what?"

She rose, moving down the stairs, "You have done well by my son, even if he has not done well by you."

Tony paused, looking to Thor. "How does she know this when your father doesn't?"

"What do I not know?" Odin looked to his wife.

"The Norns gave my Loki's thread many years ago, the knots have recently become untangled," Frigga answered.

"... Right," Tony managed, having not come across that in a book before.

Natasha spoke quietly, "Frigga is an all-seer. She just does not speak what she sees."

The Queen of Asgard nodded very slightly, "You speak the truth."

Tony looked vaguely horrified for a moment and then nodded, inclining his head to the women. "Well, thank you then. I still think you're wrong, but thanks."

Frigga glanced at her husband who was still glowering. Odin spoke, directing the question at Tony, "So you have been close enough to him to expect that your device will work."

Even the glare from the Allfather didn't daunt Tony Stark. "Yup."

"I do not see the wisdom in trying to comprehend one such as he," Odin remarked. "Loki has ever been changeable and the cause of more harm than good."

"More harm than good?" Tony asked, spine bristling. "Like you haven't done your share of that."

"Excuse me?" The Allfather looked down at the mortal as though surprised someone would speak in such a way—with the exception of his sons.

"You're as much of a lying bastard as he could ever hope to be," Tony returned. "I mean, don't you know the whole thing about learning from the best? Because most people realize lying to a son for millennia is a bad plan but you seemed to miss the memo and look where that just about got everyone."

Odin's eye narrowed dangerously at that, "You have little place to say anything of that sort, Tony Stark."

"Yeah, but then who the hell does?" Tony replied and Thor started to look worried, putting a hand on Tony's shoulder. "Because you, sir, are quite the piece of work." Natasha took a half-step forward, glancing at Thor as she put a hand on Tony's other shoulder. This was one of those potential inter-realm incidents that they didn't need.

Odin drew himself up to his not unimpressive height, "You test our hospitality and patience with your words."

Tony rumbled something under his breath before looking back up. "Yeah but I'm not the one who considered my kid war booty or lied for several hundred odd years."

"He was never just that, and the lies told were for his own good," Odin replied coldly.

Something snapped behind Tony's eyes. "You don't tell kids lies for their own damn good! Did you miss how much that backfired on you? He calls himself a monster, you asshole and you certainly haven't done much to help lately! Your intentions may be fine but your execution sucks. He's the scared kid who was told not only is there a monster in the closet but it's him and alright, he may have overreacted, but it's every world in the realms that suffered for it, not yours."

Odin tensed, his jaw tightening, "He would have become what he is with or without the lies."

"Like hell," Tony snapped. "You know what? Screw you. I'm going to get this damn thing to work and then I am going to try and help him while you enjoy whatever it is you think you're doing." He turned to go, forgetting that Natasha and Thor were both standing right behind him and looked flustered for half a second. Natasha stepped out of his way, not saying a word. Fury was going to be pissed if this caused an incident with the King of Asgard. It was probably to their benefit that the Crown Prince was on their team.

Frigga shot her husband a long look to let him know exactly how much trouble she was holding him in before she spoke, softly, "I would speak with you, Tony Stark, before you leave."

For a moment he looked like he really just wanted to storm back to Earth but Thor's expression stopped him. "Okay."

The Queen of Asgard moved toward the door, "Walk with me?" He nodded, hitching the briefcase up as Thor and Natasha followed a much more discrete distance. Frigga made her way through the corridors, "You care deeply for my son, for that I thank you, though it costs you."

"He doesn't care about me," Tony returned and rolled a shoulder. "But thanks anyway."

The queen shook her head, "He cares more for you than he would dream to admit. Else you would not know enough to be so thorough in your denunciation of Odin."

"Some of it I got out of Thor," Tony muttered to the ground. "Besides, it didn't take much to scare and confuse him. I do recognize those scars."

Frigga paused at the archway which led to the gardens, "You hope this lie detector will enable you to find the truth in him?"

"Frankly, I'm trying to stop caring about him," Tony said, looking at one of the walls. "And that would be helped by making sure I know when he is and isn't lying."

"I wish you luck with your device then. It is many a long year since Loki has chosen to tell the truth more than lie, and far longer since anyone was able to make him do so," she sighed. "I wish you well, Tony Stark. May you find what you're looking for."

"Thanks," he managed, trying not to actually look at her.

Frigga considered him for another long moment and then finally seemed to come to a decision, "Take care. If you and your companions wish for steeds to take you to the observatory, Thor knows the way to the stables. Good fortune go with you, Tony Stark."

"Good fortune to you as well," he murmured, still not wanting to meet her eyes.

The queen sighed softly, glancing back to where she could see her eldest son and nodded slightly to let him know that she was finished.

Thor returned the nod, leading his two human friends to the stables. Once they reached the bifrost, Heimdall gave Tony a long look.

"You are a very interesting one," he said, expression blank.

"Oh fuck you too," Tony muttered and Thor shoved him toward the opening portal.

Natasha pinched the bridge of her nose, but the three of them quickly found themselves returned to earth. "Well, that was eventful..."

"I got what I needed," Tony said and Thor gave him a long look.

"I think it would be wise for you not to return to Asgard for a while," he said finally.

"If ever," Natasha muttered. "Alright, I'm going to go for a run or something before Fury comes to ask me where the hell we've been. If you hear from him, have him call back."

"Of course," Thor said when Tony made a sound of protest. Black Widow nodded once to her teammates and left to get changed and head out.

For a moment Thor and Tony stood staring at each other. "I need a drink," Tony muttered, heading inside, the blond god trailing after.

Almost the instant Tony reached the liquor cabinet, there was a flash of green light, a slight puff of smoke and the temperature dropped. Loki stood in the center of the room, his eyes wide, "What did you do?"

Tony nearly dropped the bottle he'd pulled out. "Jesus! A little warning!"

"What did you do?" He repeated. "The magics are flighty, startled. Something's happened in the realms and the source traces back here. What did you do?"

"I may have chewed the Allfather out in his own court," Tony said, trying to ignore the fact his hand was shaking slightly as he poured the scotch, Thor watching the pair.

"You did what?" Loki gaped at him before whirling on his older brother, "And you let him?"

"He was... making some points," Thor muttered to the ground. "I was too shocked."

The trickster's gaze darted between them, "How did you even get into Asgard?"

"The bifrost was repaired," Thor replied. "Finally. He wanted to do his tests."

Tony went through another tumbler of scotch.

"Tests?" Loki looked toward the mortal, "The lie detector you were working on. You went to Asgard to test it."

"Yeah," Tony replied. "Sif agreed to it and everything. Even got Hogun in on it, though he couldn't lie worth a damn. It's always the quiet ones, you know? Oh, and Fandral was useless too."

"I told you that Sif would be your most likely candidate," the liesmith murmured. "She is genuine, but more than capable of deception should she wish it."

"Yes, well, I have tests, things are going along splendidly, all is well, please go away," Tony said, knocking back another drink and Thor carefully took the bottle from him.

Loki flinched at that, "I...if that's what you wish."

Tony slammed the glass down and looked around for a moment, trying to find the bottle. "No, it's not, but what the fuck are you doing here?"

"I...have asked the question I came to ask. I shall infringe on your time no further," the slender god spoke quietly, subdued.

Tony crossed his arms over his chest. "Look, you can't keep doing this."

Loki finally glanced at him, "Doing what?"

"Dropping in like this. I will create a damn shield to keep teleporters out if I have to."

The god visibly flinched at that, "I...will stay away if that is what you would like. I am sorry."

"You're sorry?" Tony repeated. "I'm not actually entirely sure I believe you."

Loki looked completely lost at that. His gaze darted around the room, focusing on his brother for a long moment, "There's nothing I can do to convince you of sincerity, is there?"

"I don't know," Tony shook his head and crossed his arms as Thor slipped out of the room. "I don't think I understand you at all and I really hate that."

"I...do not know what to tell you. I do not consider myself that difficult to understand, but I am in my own head."

"You're not difficult to understand?" Tony asked, bracing himself against the table. "So why the hell did everyone look at me as if I was crazy when I said I was your lo—your former lover. No one believed I'd been with you so long. You could start there."

"I have never taken a lover for any true length of time, barring my wife. That dissolved along with the treaty it was supposed to protect and she died shortly after," Loki shook his head. "Two weeks was the longest, as I recall, though there was no great affection on either of our parts."

Tony gave him a long look. "So I must have been really fucking amusing."

Loki winced at that, "I shouldn't have said that. It wasn't true."

"Then why say it?" Tony asked. "Because you said a whole lot that day."

"Words are my weapons. They have been for centuries. When I feel cornered or on the defensive I use what comes easiest to me. In many cases it is the most cruel words I can find."

"Great," Tony drawled. "That's just great, isn't it? When did I corner you?"

"You didn't. I did. I cornered myself. Each and every time I saw you I gave another piece of myself that I didn't realize I was releasing," Loki murmured, shaking his head.

Tony gave him a long look, entirely unimpressed. "You know, it's not every day I go to another realm to yell at someone's father for them. My own daddy issues tends to stop that."

The wordsmith looked at Anthony for a moment, "I certainly didn't expect you to do that. I just..." He dropped his gaze again, "I'm sorry, Anthony. I didn't mean for any of this to happen. And I certainly did not mean for it to come to this."

Looking at him a moment, Tony started laughing, a bitter edge to it. "Right. You didn't mean to do this."

"That is not what I said," Loki kept the sharp tone from his words as best he could. "When I said those words I fully intended for them to hurt you. To drive you away. I, however, never intended for it to get to that point."

"Oh take your intentions and—" Tony cut himself off, finding where Thor had tried to hide the bottle.

"I just..." Loki sighed, "I am sorry, Anthony. I'll be on my way then."

"You're such an idiot," Tony said and shook his head, taking another quick drink before leaning toward the other, "You can tell all lies right?"

The god leaned back slightly, "Wh-when they're spoken or given, yes."

"Then you'll have to tell me if I'm lying when I say I love you," Tony said, almost declaring the words as a challenge rather than a confession.

"Y-you aren't," he managed, eyes wide.

Tony spent another moment staring at Loki's eyes before turning, slamming the door behind on him on his out of the room.

The Asgardian closed his eyes and buried his head in his hands for a long moment. He consciously knew he couldn't stay there, but it was a long while before he could convince himself to move and seek out his brother. He entered the room quietly, coming up behind where the thunder god was, "Thor?"

The larger god didn't look surprised to see him, looking up from the meal he was attempting to create for the other Avengers. "Loki."

The younger of the two brothers looked completely lost as his hands fluttered uselessly, trying to find something to do with them, "What do I do?"

Thor gave him a half pitying look and realized he shouldn't. "I do not know brother. What do you want to do?"

"What I want to do has effectively been negated by what I have already done," he nearly snapped.

Thor rolled his eyes. "Brother..."

"Thor, please. I have hurt him so deeply, I don't even know how to apologize. You know that for all my strength with words, sincerity and supplication have been a great pair of weaknesses for me."

"Then start by answering my question if you ever hope to speak to him again civilly," Thor said. "What do you want to do?"

"I want to heal the wrong I have done," Loki answered honestly, quietly.

"Why?" Thor asked. "If you want to apologize to him you're going to have to figure out exactly what you're apologizing for and how. Practice with me."

"Because..." The words stuck in the trickster's throat, his silver tongue turning to lead. Hopelessness tinged his green eyes, "Thor, I don't think I can say it."

"Then you'd better learn to say it."

"How does one learn to admit love?" Loki asked, begging for an answer without realizing he'd given it in part.

"Well, hopefully not by phrasing it as a question," Thor said, with a faint smile. "Practice in front of a mirror?"

"Oh that will go well, I'm sure." Loki sighed in frustration, "Thor, I love him. I fear that fact, but I am certain of it. It is nearly impossible for me to admit it though. What am I to do? He wouldn't believe me if I did tell him, I have seen to that."

Thor smiled again. "He has a lie detector. Given a few days I fully believe he'll have it functioning to his own satisfaction. Besides, I believe you underestimate the Man of Iron."

"And you perhaps overestimate him, brother. He has ever so many wounds and I have poured salt onto all of them."

"But he is the type to heal from his wounds. Or at the very least move on," Thor said. "He's still standing, isn't he?"

Loki finally nodded, drawing a deep breath, "You will alert me to when he has finished his lie detector?"

"I shall try," Thor said, with a nod. "You might consider some... mortal style soul searching."

"I shall consider it," the younger god murmured.

"Fare thee well then, brother," Thor said with a small smile.

Loki nodded once before stepping through one of his transportation spells.

o.o.o.o

"Have you finished?" Thor asked, poking his head down into the lab.

Tony nearly dropped the instrument he was holding. "Okay, now I'm pretty sure that there's an ulterior motive in there."

"I would like both you and my brother whole," Thor said and Tony gave him a long look.

"Right. Yes, it's as done as I could ever make it."

A handful of minutes after Thor left, Loki tapped on the glass of the lab door, "Anthony, may I come in?"

"I would say no but that won't stop you," he said, looking at something under a magnifying glass.

"It might," he replied.

"Come in then," Tony muttered. "I assume your brother and you are talking again?"

"Somewhat. But I came to speak with you."

"What do you have to say?" Tony asked, finally turning and leaning against the chair.

"Have you finished your device?"

"As much as I ever could," Tony said.

"Then use it. What I have to say I would have you know as truth," Loki spoke simply, but he was unwilling to risk the other doubting him. He was not certain he could repeat himself.

Crossing his arms, Tony gave him a long look. "Alright." Quietly, he moved to place the machine near where Loki was seated next to his worktable. There was only one thin wire connecting the god to the actual machine. Once done, he stepped back.

The youngest prince of Asgard drew a deep breath, "The words I spoke to you in this lab were not truth. They were the lies that I have seen you tell yourself over the course of several months. I gave them voice because I was frightened of what you do to me. Of what I had revealed to you. You are one of the bravest men I have ever had the honor of knowing. You are kind when you wish to be, and sincere in your loyalty and love. I struck at every weakness I could find because I feared to admit, even to myself, that I love a mortal." He fell silent, trying to find the remainder of his words.

For a long moment, Tony didn't reply, simply staring at him and then the machine and back up. "You're an idiot," he said, voice very low.

"I am aware of that," Loki answered quietly. "I felt you had a right to know. It is my own cowardice that caused me to say what I did. It should not have happened, but it did, and I wish to find some way to start making amends."

Still staring at him, Tony moved forward, carefully yanking the wire away from Loki. "That's the past already," he replied.

"The..." Loki blinked at him for a long moment, "What?"

Hands coming up, Tony pulled him into a passionate kiss, tangling his fingers in the other's hair. "What you said were words," he said, drawing back and holding Loki's eyes. "I'm not sure I can go through that again. But they were words. Give me time and I'll forgive you."

The god looked up at him in disbelief, "I...I am sorry for what I did to you." He reached up, tracing a hand along the side of Anthony's face.

"Good," he swallowed. "Don't do it again."

"I won't. You have my word, my oath." The second the last two words left his mouth, Loki felt his binding magic twist around and settle at the back of his mind—a constant reminder of the promise.

Tony's eyes widened. "God damn it, Loki," he said, voice breaking and pulling into another hard kiss. The god of chaos leaned up, pressing into the kiss, his hand moving to tangle in the smaller man's hair.

"I missed you," Tony managed, mouthing Loki's jaw. "I'm not supposed to miss people or cause inter-realm incidents."

Loki tilted his head back, drawing in a sharp breath, "I missed you too. By the Tree, Anthony. Did you truly yell at the Allfather for me?"

"Well, snarled more so," Tony said, grinning. "Your mom liked me."

"Of course she did," Loki murmured. "I love you, so of course Frigga liked you. What did you think of her is the question."

"Sure," Tony grinned, a shudder running up his spine. "You are never not allowed to say that again, by the way."

The god of mischief smirked, "What? That I love you?" The words came easily when the tone was filled with an intent to tease.

Tony grinned, grip tightening. "That," he agreed, pressing closer.

Loki's hands trailed down to the other's hips, "I shall keep that in mind."

Making a small whimpering sound, Tony dragged him even closer. "Loki, come on."

"In your lab, Anthony?" The god slipped a hand under the other's shirt. "That is rather a lovely wall of glass which separates it from the hallway..."

"Please, they've caught me at worse things," he said. "Besides, Pepper's the only one who'd come down." Tony bit Loki's ear.

Loki hummed at that, his other hand moving to unhook Anthony's belt, "Well, as that's the case..."

The shorter man groaned, suddenly pulling at Loki's shoulders, walking backward and almost stumbling. Finally he maneuvered them behind the main desk, hidden at least somewhat from the glass windows. Once there he pulled Loki down on top of him.