Chapter 1: There Were Invitations?
It was already dark out when Thor banged his way into his brother's room, the door nearly unhinging.
Loki looked up from where he was curled up on his bed, a book in his hands, "Thor, when the door's closed it usually means to knock."
"There is a party tonight!" the blond boomed. "And we are going."
The smaller of the two brothers just arched an eyebrow before turning back to his book, "Have fun then. I'll be staying home."
For half a second the larger brother's face fell before he shook his head. "No, brother. You always stay in. That's not the point of college!"
"No, you're right. The point of college is to study, get a degree and hopefully go on to a career. Unless I am greatly missing something," Loki replied, dryly, reaching for a bookmark.
"You are," Thor protested, stepping further into the room. "Come on, brother! You have to live a little. What are you even reading?" he asked, plucking the book out of Loki's hands.
The black-haired man sat up straight, reaching for the book, "Give it back! I don't care for the parties you go to. I have my dance club for social interaction."
"It's a club," Thor replied, still looking at the book. "That's different. You should meet more people."
Loki finally managed to grab the book, "If I go tonight are you going to drag me out to any others this quarter?"
"If I say I won't will you come?"
The younger brother sighed, and finally nodded, "But only if you promise not to drag me out again before break."
Thor made a face. "Must you be so adverse to sociability and fun?"
"I hardly consider these revelries fun, brother," he rose from the bed, stretching.
Thor rolled his eyes. "Just... smile, alright?" he said, already leaving.
His brother offered him a grimace instead, finding a less rumpled shirt and switching it out with the one he was wearing.
"Come on, brother!" Thor called from the door.
"Coming!" He snatched up his jacket and pulled the door to his room closed before joining his brother, passing the taller blond on his way out of the apartment.
By the time Thor and Loki finally arrived, the party was already in full swing. Though it wasn't at his apartment, the host of the night was Tony Stark, which meant it would probably go down in the annals of parties everywhere.
Said host was not really enjoying it however.
Steve Rogers looked around, trying to locate the host of the evening. He finally spotted him and made his way over, offering the smaller man a bit of a grin, "Hey, Tony. Not a bad turn-out for you tonight."
Tony turned, blinking in some surprise and his eyes lit up slightly. "You came," he said, sounding a little surprised. "Well, I certainly have a good turn out now."
The blond's smile brightened, "Well, I got an invitation, figured I ought to at least show up."
"There were invitations?" Tony blinked once.
"Sort of? Pepper mentioned it on our way out of class a couple days ago," Steve answered with a shrug.
"So you came," Tony said, with an easy grin. "How sweet."
The smile took on a confused edge, "I thought I'd at least stop by anyhow. See how it was going."
"And how are you finding it?" Tony asked, still grinning and looking more relaxed.
"A bit noisy, kinda crowded, but not all that bad."
"Really?" Tony asked, crossing his arms over his chest. "I'm surprised. You don't seem the type to show up at parties. Like those thrown by me."
Steve half-shrugged, "I'll probably clear out early, but I don't mind when they're getting warmed up."
"But, that's the most boring part," Tony protested.
The blond offered him a long look, "Yeah, it's also the part that makes it so I can get up in the morning."
"Oh please," Tony waved a hand grandly. "That's not the point of a good party."
"Some of us like to be awake for class," Steve answered.
Tony gave him a long look. "Oh please. Firstly, that's the whole point of throwing parties on the weekend, and secondly, class is hardly all that important."
"Some of us think it is," came the response, accompanied by a small frown.
Shrugging again, the slender man waved a hand. "Well, yes and no. Skipping out on one class is hardly going to end the world though."
"Is school really that much of a joke to you?" Steve asked incredulously. "It's better to have those for emergencies than for a hangover."
"You gotta live a little," Tony shot back, eyes flickering.
"Well, not everyone can reach my standards," Tony replied, puffing up slightly as someone ran into his shoulder on the way to the bar and he brushed them off.
Steve looked him over, shaking his head, "No, they can't. So I'll 'live a little' in my own way, if it's no trouble to you."
"Well how's that then?" the shorter asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Going to the early part of parties, and getting up in the morning for classes, work, and or a run," the blond replied.
"And the fun there is...?" Tony asked, tilting his head and smirking.
"Not being groggy all day, which means enjoying daytime activities more."
Tony rolled his eyes. "But, don't you enjoy the nighttime activities?"
"Not all of them," Steve answered.
"Then which ones do you enjoy?" Tony asked, not quite leering but more than prepared to.
The blond blinked at him, taken aback even as the faintest of blushes tinged his cheeks., "I don't think my activities, day or night, are really your business."
"Business? No. But I'm curious."
"You know that old saying about curiosity? You might keep it in mind."
"But satisfaction brings the cat back," Tony replied, smirking. "Besides, my curiosity brings about such lovely results."
"Well, you're going to have to live with curiosity then," Steve answered with a frown.
"I'm good at finding things out," Tony said, reaching a finger to tap him on the chest. "You could give in now, it was a simple question."
Steve took a half step back, "You've been drinking already?"
"What?" Tony frowned. "Have I—? No."
"I don't see why you're pushing about that question," Steve shook his head.
"I'm just interested in knowing more," Tony shrugged.
"Like what I do with my nights? A little personal don't you think?"
"Depends on what you're doing with them," Tony laughed. "Besides, it's not like mine aren't all but public knowledge. Perhaps I just expect the same."
"Some people like their privacy," Steve replied, shaking his head.
"It's over rated," Tony shrugged, the music starting to pound at the back of his head and maybe he really should start drinking as more and more people started entering the space.
The blond shook his head, "Well, I should go say hi to some other people I can see. I'll see you around, Tony."
"Sure you will," Tony muttered, fully expecting it not to happen but grinning up at Steve anyway. "Have fun and try to actually relax."
That earned a small laugh, "I'll try."
"Yeah, you try," Tony said, clapping him on the shoulder and weaving away before Steve could walk away himself.
The blond watched him go before shaking his head and slipping away into the crowd as well.
The party continued in full swing, Thor finding several of his friends, and all but completely abandoning his younger brother along the way. After leaving Steve, Tony flirted and otherwise blended in, though he only really started drinking when he noticed the bright smile the blond was turning on a curly brown haired girl.
An hour in found Tony sitting on the table in the dining room, swinging his legs and smoking as he surveyed the party. Rhodey had long since stopped coming to his events, and Pepper had begged off tonight. Which meant when he got to this point of the night, there was no one to distract or entertain him, and he was starting to feel itchy, wanting something to happen.
Loki was beyond unimpressed with the noise and the crowd at the party. He was still trying to determine if there was anything he could extort from his brother for dragging him to the party, but couldn't seem to think of decent leverage that would actually make that idea work. He ducked into the dining room, finding it fractionally less crowded than the living room and entry. That wasn't to say it didn't have its own crowd, but he finally felt like he could breathe again. God, he hated these things.
Taking another drag of the cigarette, Tony's spine straightened slightly at the sight of the dark haired man entering the room. For all he could see was that the man was the only sober person in the entire room--probably in the entire party and he grinned.
His green gaze sweeping around the room, Loki sighed when he found yet another place his brother wasn't. He was long since ready to leave, but even with that still had to find some excuse to get the keys from Thor if he was going to take the car. He paused when he spotted the smaller man on the table, but shook his head, stepping further into the room.
"So, I'm surprised," Tony said, when the other came closer and could actually hear him. "I thought I knew all the gorgeous people on campus already."
Loki blinked at him for a moment before shaking his head, "There aren't that many of them."
"Perhaps not, which is why I thought I was well aware," Tony replied with a smirk. "Where have you been hiding?"
"Oh you meant me?" Loki rolled his eyes, "Not in your area of the school apparently."
"Which is a crying shame, I have to say. Who did you think I meant?"
"I had no idea, I tend not to listen to those who have been drinking too much."
Tony rolled his eyes. "That's hardly me. Not at this point. I haven't drunk enough to be tipsy yet. So, who are you?"
"Why don't you tell me who you are, first?" Loki responded, leaning a hip against the table.
That got a half shocked look from Tony. "That's a hell of a thing to say to the host of the party, you know."
The taller man's brow arched as he looked him over, "Oh, so you're Tony Stark."
Tony held a hand out with another smirk, his left hand still holding the cigarette. "I'm just surprised it took you that long to know."
"I don't usually attend these," Loki answered. He eyed the hand and finally shook it, "Loki Laufeyson."
"Alliteration," Tony remarked, taking another drag before he used his grip on Loki's hand to drag him closer.
He stiffened at that motion, nodding briskly, "Yes. Makes it easy to remember."
"I think you're easy enough to remember all on your own," Tony smirked, finally snubbing out the cigarette, leaving a free hand. "But it's a nice name."
"Thank you I think," Loki attempted to pull his hand away.
Tony wrapped his free arm around Loki's waist instead. "It was a compliment. As if calling you gorgeous wasn't enough of one."
He startled, very tense, "What are you doing?"
"Looking," Tony smirked, before rising suddenly, letting Loki go only long enough to stand on the table. Taking Loki's arms again, he tugged, insisting the other join him. "The light's better up here."
Loki dug in his heels, his green eyes widening, "No way in hell."
Tony tugged on him again. "Host of the party. Get up here."
His gaze darted around, but he finally grit his teeth and got up on the table.
"Was that so hard?" Tony grinned, and then one of his hands came up and touched Loki's dark hair. "You should come to more parties."
Loki tensed again, tilting his head away from the touch, "I don't care for them."
"You should come to more of mine, specifically," Tony amended.
"I don't come to parties. I don't care for them. Too noisy and crowded. Besides, what makes yours so much different than others?"
"Well, I'm here," Tony smirked. "Right now we'll say that counts for something."
Loki looked singularly unimpressed with that, "Of course, and that greatly improves everything I'm sure."
"Don't you know that it does?" Tony grinned, resting both his hands on the other man's waist and holding him there.
His hands moving to cover Tony's and start to push them away, the taller man shook his head, "I was in fact unaware of that. Let go."
Instead Tony leaned forward and kissed him. It was a perfectly logical thing to do for Tony and he was trying to ignore the parts of his mind still functioning enough to tell him the ways this could be a bad plan.
Loki tensed completely, yanking back away from the kiss and shoving the host back, "Get off!"
Tony stumbled half a step back and shrugged. "Must I?"
The other just stared at him for a moment before hopping down off the table and striding from the room. Where the hell was his brother?
For a moment Tony stared after him before plopping back down on the edge of the table, fishing out another cigarette.
Loki finally found Thor off to one side in the living room. He reached his brother's side and held out his hand, "Keys. Now."
The blond turned in some confusion to him. "Brother! There you are!"
His green eyes narrowed, "We're leaving. Keys."
"Is something wrong?" Thor asked, blinking, mind not entirely processing.
"I'm sure you'll hear about it tomorrow. We're leaving. And before you get the idea to ever drag me to another one of these things again let me remind you that I know where you sleep and I have an infinite imagination," Loki growled.
Thor blinked, finally fishing out the keys to his truck and dropping them in Loki's outstretched hand.
"Are you getting a ride with someone else, or coming home now?"
One of Thor's friends shoved at his shoulder. "Take him home. He's drunken more then he should already."
Loki nodded once at that, grabbing his brother's wrist and starting for the door.
Pepper Potts arrived at Tony's apartment around noon the day after the party, knocking to let him know she was there before letting herself in, "Tony?"
There was a grumbled sound from the bedroom and a scuffle before Tony emerged, wearing lounge pants and looking rumpled and annoyed. "It's early. What are you doing here?"
"It's noon, and you need a new suit."
"Noon is early and you know it and what?" he blinked at her owlishly for a moment before muttering something dark. "Please tell me you at least brought fuel first."
She held up the bag and tray in her hands, "I come with breakfast and coffee."
"And this is why I put up with you," Tony said, sinking into a chair at the table, already pulling up the screen he'd built into it ages ago and tapping a few commands.
She set the food and coffee down, shaking her head, "You know you love me."
"No, it's definitely the food and coffee. There's no other way I'd let you drag me out to buy new suits at this time of day."
"It's the best time for it. And there's a really nice store that I've been meaning to drag you into for a while now." His friend settled down into one of the other chairs, "How was the party last night?"
He shrugged, working his way through the coffee and the fast food breakfast. "It happened. I may have made an idiot of myself in public, which is entirely to be expected and drank too much. What's this store called?"
"Does it matter?" She asked, arching an eyebrow.
"No," he grinned. "How'd your quiet night of finishing projects go?"
"Efficiently. I got the projects finished and actually got to sleep last night, so that was good too." She smirked, "And I'm not dealing with a hangover this morning either, which is even better."
Tony rolled his eyes. "Please. What is it with everyone and insulting hangovers?"
"They're painful and make the next day hell?"
He waved a hand again. "Ruin? You give the hang over too much credit. Come on then," he said, rising. "Let me get dressed and we can go."
Pepper smiled, "Alright, go get dressed. I'll be downstairs."
He waved her off, heading back into the bedroom. It only took a while for him to re-emerge, hair tamed, sunglasses on, and wearing jeans that cost more than a pair of pants ever should have.
Pepper smirked at him, "Looking good, Tony."
"Please, Pep," he said, glancing at her over his glasses. "When do I not?"
She grinned, "Do you want me to answer that question?"
"I'm sure I know the answer," he said, sticking his hands into his pockets as they walked. "And it's probably when I'm very drunk or you're very disappointed in me or both."
"Actually, mostly just the drunk bit. But it's not often."
"Please. Considering how many people sleep with me when I'm drunk? I'm sure I'm at least a little attractive then too," he said and paused. "Well, except when I got rejected last night."
His friend blinked at that, "You got rejected last night? How? Who?"
"Some kid—dark hair, green eyes, only sober one at the place? Almost shoved me off the table," Tony said, pushing the sunglasses further up his face.
"...He was sober and you pulled him up on the table?"
"He was pretty!" Tony protested. "How did you not let me know we have someone like that on campus?"
"Because I still have no idea who you're talking about?" She responded as they finally reached the suit shop and she stepped inside.
"Well, it," Tony started, knowing he remembered the name but unwilling to just drop it between them. He was trying to figure out another way to describe the other when he walked into the shop and stopped. "Oh."
Loki looked up when his manager told him that the new customers were his to deal with, and there was a definite implication that it would be best to make sure they came back too. His green eyes widened and then narrowed when he spotted Tony Stark just inside the door. He pasted on a smile and made his way over, "Welcome in. Is there anything we can help you with today?"
Pepper offered him a smile, "Loki, I didn't realize you worked here."
His smile turned slightly more genuine as he greeted her, "Pepper, good to see you. Yeah, I've been here for a while. What can we do for you?"
"Tony needs a new suit," she replied with a half shrug.
Tony had snapped his mouth shut when the dark haired man walked over, finally turning to Pepper and pointing at the sales clerk. "Him."
Pepper blinked, trying to process that in context before turning to her friend, "You mean...Tony!"
"What?" Tony protested, spreading his arms out and eyes sliding over to glance at Loki through the sunglasses.
"Oh, so you've heard then," Loki murmured before turning to Tony. "What sort of suit are you looking for, sir?" Pepper just shook her head at both of them.
"You're a lot nicer today," Tony drawled before he could think about it.
"And you're less drunk," the clerk grit out before he realized what he intended to say.
"I was barely drunk," Tony protested. "You can tell because I'm standing today."
"The point still stands."
Pepper cut in, "We're looking for something for a charity event next Saturday."
Tony rolled his eyes behind the sunglasses. "Why am I going again?"
"Because you missed the last four, and you can at least have the decency to show up to one."
He made a face before turning back to the clerk. "Navy pinstripes, or the nearest thing, three buttons. Go fetch."
Loki stared at him for a long moment, before smiling thinly, "Size an measurements?"
Pepper offered him an apologetic look before rattling them off. She watched him hurry off to see what he could find before she turned on Tony, "You could try to be a little nice."
"He just about pushed me off a table," Tony said. "And that was being nice. I could have given him the run around of everything I didn't want first."
She sighed, "You hauled him up on the table in the first place, didn't you?"
"It had better light," Tony muttered. "Oh, and by the way, you know him?"
"Better light? Really, Tony? And yeah, he's in one of my dance clubs on campus."
"So you did know who he was and not tell me," Tony pouted at her a minute.
"Well, he's Loki. I guess I don't really think about it," She shrugged in response.
Tony shot her a dark look from behind the glasses.
"What? Yes he's gorgeous, no I didn't think you needed to know about every pretty guy on campus. Especially since you're still hung up on Steve Rogers."
"I am not--" the shorter started to protest and snapped his mouth shut. "Pep, there are days I wish I didn't know you."
"Love you too, Tony," she responded dryly as Loki returned with the requested suit.
"I hope this is satisfactory?" He glanced from Pepper to Tony.
Tony gave it a quick once over. "It might need some taking in," he replied. "So, do you like suits then?"
"We have a fitting room where we can see what needs to be done so that it fits you properly," Loki offered, ignoring the second question.
"Sure," Tony drawled, voice honey. "You didn't answer the question."
"Do I enjoy suits? That entirely depends. I enjoy fashion, but not suits specifically," the taller man answered as he started to lead them to the fitting area.
"So what fashions do you like?" Tony asked, following on his heels.
He rolled a shoulder, "Those that have some inspiration in the past. It's difficult to specify."
"I'll accept picture aids," Tony smirked.
"I don't have them on me," Loki replied. "But for your sake I'm sure I can dig some up somewhere."
"Cool," Tony beamed, aware that the other had just all but agreed to see him some other time.
Loki handed over the suit as he unlocked one of the fitting rooms, "Here you are."
"My hero," Tony snarked, slipping into the room quickly.
Glancing at Pepper, Loki offered her an arched eyebrow, "Is he always like this?"
"I can hear you," Tony protested, stripping quickly to pull the suit pants up, considering.
"Good," Pepper responded.
Loki shook his head, "Is the suit satisfactory?"
"It's looking like it," he said through the door, getting the jacket over the band tee shirt he was wearing, and stepping out to show Pepper more than the clerk, since she tended to like it when he was dressed properly.
Pepper made an appreciative sound, "It works, well even."
Loki's gaze swept over the suit critically as he considered how it hung and the way it fit. Lingering over the cut of the shoulders he nodded slightly in silent agreement.
"Well," Tony grinned. "That was easier than usual."
His friend smiled, "Great, I need to find myself a dress next, so we'll buy this and then deal with that?"
"Yeah," Tony said, giving Loki another look through the glasses before shutting the door between them again.
Loki just blinked, shaking his head, "Can I do anything else for you, Pepper?"
The redhead glanced at him, "No, but thanks, Loki. I think we've got it from here."
Tony exited moments later, very practiced on the art of getting in and out of suits quickly. "You're getting the commission though, right?"
The clerk looked at him, "I hope so?"
"I'll put in a good word," Tony grinned, suit draped over one arm.
Managing another thin smile, Loki nodded slightly, "Thank you."
Still smirking, Tony moved to walk around him, free hand brushing along his hip for a moment.
Loki startled, taking a not so subtle step away from the smaller man. Pepper sighed in something akin to frustration as she followed Tony.
Chapter 2: You Expect Me to Dance
Chapter by victoriousscarf
Loki was settled at a table in one of the quieter cafes on campus. Admittedly quiet was only a relative term when it was compared to the Student Union, but it would do. He had headphones on and a stack of magazines at his side. He had one of his textbooks open in front of him, next to the sandwich he had been absently eating for the better part of thirty minutes. He kept getting distracted and working through another design sketch though.
Entering the seating area with his coffee, Tony glanced around, adjusting his sunglasses with his free hand. Spotting the dark head, Tony slide into the seat across from him, setting the coffee on the table.
The other glanced up and shut off his mp3 player, "What are you doing?"
"Drinking coffee," Tony said, lifting the cup slightly to show that his intentions were clearly pure and caffeine oriented.
"Why at this table?" He slid the stack of magazines into his book bag.
"Because it had the best view of the quad," Tony deadpanned. "What magazines were you looking at? Where they girly ones you're embarrassed to be seen with?"
Loki's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, "They're for a class."
"What class?" Tony asked, propping his chin up with one hand and arching a brow. "And can I see?"
"One of my design classes, and no you may not."
Tony stuck his tongue out. "Design class?"
Loki nodded once, "Yes, design. What are you studying?"
"Me?" Tony blinked, eyebrows going up. "That's a question people still ask? So are you doing design as a major then?"
"I still ask that question at least. And," he shrugged, "yes, it is sort of my area of study."
"Only sort of?" Tony asked, breezing over the question on his own areas of study. "You seemed pretty intensely focused there. You focus like that on everything you do?"
"When it is something that matters to me."
Tony blinked once behind the sunglasses, wondering if he could get Loki to focus on him like that. "Well, what were you designing then?"
The other man shut his sketchbook that had been propped against the table, "A style that would reflect one of the four elements."
"I'm not going to be allowed to see it, am I?" Tony sighed.
"It's still in progress," Loki answered. "No one sees my work while I’m still working on it."
"Can I see it when you're done then?" Tony asked, a brow going up.
Loki rolled a shoulder in response, "Perhaps."
Tony stuck his tongue out again before taking a long sip of coffee, allowing the liquid to wash warmth and some semblance of consciousness wash through him. He'd been at the lab too long the night before, and had countless unchecked messages from Pepper reminding him to eat.
"You never did answer my question about your own area of study," Loki remarked, putting his text and sketch books away.
"Well," Tony started and paused. "Engineering is going to be your safest bet. Physics, some chemistry, math, and computer sciences. So stick with engineering."
That earned a long blink, "A wide enough variety there?"
Tony shrugged, having long since finished a master’s degree in engineering, and now only sticking around due to boredom and a desire not to have to move out into the real world. He was already on the road to another couple masters and a PhD in all likelihood while most people his age were struggling to finish a bachelor’s. "Not nearly."
Arching an eyebrow at that, Loki nodded after a moment, "What brings you to this cafe today? I would have thought the Student Union more your style."
"This is closer to the lab," he shrugged, stretching his shoulders out. "And my apartment."
"I see. Location is everything, then."
"Basically," Tony agreed with a tired smile. "It also has better coffee, which is pretty much it's winning hand."
"Not getting enough sleep?" Loki queried, taking the top slice of bread off his sandwich and picking at the contents.
"Sleep?" Tony returned, joking and serious at the same time. "People get enough sleep?"
That earned a half-laugh, "Supposedly."
Tony snorted. "I'd never know. That's what coffee is for, right?"
"The other thing that I've heard is that living on caffeine alone is damaging," Loki murmured, finally having taken the sandwich apart to his satisfaction and returning the top slice of bread to it.
Tony considered the small pile of things he'd taken off the sandwich, nabbing them. "There, see, food. I'm eating it."
That earned a long blink, "For all you know I was planning to eat that."
"With the derision you used picking the stuff off?" Tony said, munching through an onion.
"Alright, you may have a point," Loki conceded. "There are certain things that really should not be used on a sandwich."
"Poor unloved ingredients," Tony said, giving him another grin.
The taller man chuckled, "And yet you seem not to mind them, so they aren't going to waste at least."
"What would you do without me?" Tony drawled.
"Finish my homework in peace?" Loki offered.
Tony smirked, finishing off the onions. "Hey, so, any plans this weekend?"
He paused, the sandwich halfway to his mouth, "What?"
"It's a simple, every day question," Tony said, pushing the sunglasses higher.
"Not really, no. Why?"
"Because I'm going to be bored out of my mind in a very nice suit on Saturday," Tony replied, setting the lines out so they could be an invitation or simply a statement.
Loki looked him over for a long moment, "Is that an invitation, Mr. Stark?"
"You're much more entertaining than anyone who's going to be there," Tony returned. "So, yes?"
"And why would I have any cause to say yes to that invitation?" his expression was impassive and his voice bordered on disinterest.
"No idea," Tony replied, sipping the coffee. "You already tried to push me off a table once."
Loki scowled at him, "You're the one that hauled me up there when I said no."
Tony just continued smirking at him, tilting his head to the side. "Well, yeah. But still, seemed extreme."
"You kissed me. For no reason, and with no provocation."
Tony's hand stilled on the coffee cup and he looked floored for a moment. "You have no idea about what causes people to kiss another, do you? Besides, you act as if I'd hit you."
Loki eyed him warily, "I'd already protested your contact, what made you think I would possibly be alright with a kiss?" And alright, he put it down to some sort of bet half the time someone showed interest in him. Even beyond that, it had been public and unexpected--neither being something he cared for.
The engineer stared at him a long moment. "Okay, so what do you think is due provocation for a kiss?"
"I...I don't know, I just don't think kissing someone you don't even know is appropriate."
"Approp—oh good god, you're as bad as Steve Rogers," Tony said, rolling his eyes. "You're pretty. That's provocation enough."
Loki's eyes narrowed, "I disagree. You know nothing about me. At all. Save that you think I'm pretty." He shook his head, "Figures."
Tony could list off plenty of things he knew. "What figures?"
"Nothing. Forget it," Loki set his sandwich down, suddenly not feeling all that hungry. He wrapped it up and dropped it into his book bag before closing the backpack. "I should get going."
Opening his mouth to say something, Tony snapped it shut. "So that's a no to Saturday?" he asked, changing tactics.
"I don't know yet," the other answered quietly.
That got Tony's eyebrows to make a break for his hairline. "Well," he started and paused. "Just let me know."
"Yeah. I'll maybe see you around. And I'll let you know by Saturday," Loki murmured as he rose.
"Well, letting me know by Sunday wouldn't be all that effective now would it?" Tony returned.
The taller rolled his eyes and shouldered his book bag, "You'll know before Friday night." Tony waved at him, wondering exactly why he'd even asked.
Pepper glanced at her watch before knocking on Tony's door and then entering, "Tony?"
"Yes?" he asked, tripping out of one of the apartments side rooms. It was supposed to be a second bedroom.
"I'm going to be late for my club, come on," she looked him over.
He gaped at her a moment. "Come again?"
"I have my tango club and you're coming tonight."
"Okay, that's what I'm a little shocked by," he said, running a hand through his hair, which had grease in it. "I'm coming tonight, why?"
"Because we have no decent leads... okay that's a lie, we have two decent leads. And I'm sick of dancing with the ones who can't lead it."
"Pep," he said, with a small frown. "Can't you just like, hang out with the good lead or something? I was working."
"And you've been working since Monday. You can take a couple hours and pretend to be a human being for a while."
He made a face at her. "It's, what day is it? Anyway, Saturday is soon. I'll be human then."
"It's Thursday. And you're going to enjoy yourself tonight, alright?"
He blinked at her again before stepping back. "Right, you just, stay there," he said, gesturing to her vaguely. "I need a new shirt."
She arched an eyebrow, "When was the last time you had coffee?"
"You don't want to know the last time I had coffee," he replied. "Which means you really don't want to ask me when I last ate either."
"We'll go by a coffee shop on the way, and get you a scone or something too, alright?"
"Sure," Tony said, already retreating to pull on clothes that resembled what other people were seen in public with.
Pepper leaned back against the wall by the door, checking the time again and determining the best coffee place to stop on the way to campus.
Finally Tony re-emerged, wearing clean jeans, and having ran a wet brush through his hair, sunglasses firmly planted on his face but actually having put on a button up shirt for Pepper's sake. His friend grinned at him, "Looking good. Let's go get you some coffee."
"Please," Tony grinned.
A short while later they arrived at the club, coffees in hand and Pepper had made certain that Tony had eaten something as well. Tony sipped at the coffee, other hand texting Rhodey to please come and save him.
-I'm all the way across campus and i trust pepper more then you- was all he got back and Tony scowled.
-You don't understand. She's taking me to dance club. You have to save me.-
-Have fun, dancing queen.-
Pepper glanced at him, "It's not that bad, Tony."
"It is and more," Tony protested.
"You're exaggerating,” she rolled her eyes and looked around trying to figure out who was there.
"Pep, I'm being seen in public. At a tango club. And you expect me to dance," he said, finally shoved his phone away with distaste and turning his entire attention to the coffee.
"There are worse things," she responded.
"Starving to death."
He gave her a long look. "Right. That's a very pointed jab at me, isn't it?"
Pepper offered him an innocent smile in return, "What would make you think that?"
"Probably the fact I haven't eaten in at least a day," Tony replied, finishing the coffee finally and tossing the cup into the nearest trash.
"That would be it," she nodded.
Loki entered the room where the club met, approaching Pepper with a smile, but he paused when he spotted Tony and his expression shuttered. Tony stopped as well, giving Pepper a sidelong look. "Please tell me you had no ulterior motives,” Tony managed.
She shook her head, "I told you. He's Loki. I don't think about it."
The design student chuckled at that, "Thank you for the warning that you were bringing him, Pepper."
"She gave me no warning either and how do you not think about it?" Tony demanded, switching his attention rapidly between them.
Pepper shrugged, "Because..."
"I tend to sweep under people's radar," Loki finished for her.
Tony looked him over once, a long look and blinked rapidly behind the dark glasses. "Right," he said, neutrally.
"So you dance then?" the taller man arched a skeptical eyebrow.
"Yes," Tony said, a small frown appearing above the glasses between his brows. "You do too then?"
"Yes," Loki answered, glancing toward the floor as the start of club was announced.
"Any good?" Tony asked, leaning back on one heel and crossing his arms over his chest.
"Moderately," the other replied, looking him over skeptically, "Are you?"
Tony smirked at him. "Yeah."
Pepper glanced between them before shaking her head, "Are you two quite finished?"
Loki offered her a smirk to match the one Tony was giving him, "That depends. Do I get first dance with you this evening?"
The red head hesitated, "I should probably stick with Tony since I dragged him out here. Next week?"
That little frown was back and Tony looked put out for being talked over—even though he did it to countless people on countless occasions. "You know, you haven't gotten back to me yet."
"I still have a day," Loki answered.
Pepper frowned, "Got back to you about what?"
Tony didn't answer her, just staring at the taller man for a long moment. Loki considered Tony for a minute, "So you can dance then."
"I said so, didn't I? Why?" he asked, a smirk curling the corner of his mouth. "Don't think I can?"
"I think I'd like to see you prove it," he held his hand out to the other man.
For a second, Tony's eyes went wide behind the shades, before he carefully planted a smirk on his face, taking the hand. "You sure you're ready for such a thing?"
"Can you follow?"
"Can't you?" Tony asked, arching a brow but nodding. "If it would make you feel better, I am quite capable."
"Of course I can, but you're the one proving you can dance."
"And following is more proof of that?" Tony asked, settling easily into the follow position with his hand on Loki's shoulder.
Loki considered him as he guided him into the steps of the dance, "If you've been trained as a lead, then I might say so."
Tony smirked again. "Maybe I'm just flexible." He put a hint of emphasis on the word.
That garnered a sly smile, "Maybe so. But I hardly think one dance will truly let me know that one way or the other."
"What would?" Tony asked, curious as he flowed into the steps of the dance. It had been a long time since he'd done anything on a dance floor, and even longer since he'd followed for anyone, but he remembered all the steps so long as Loki could actually lead them.
"Your flexibility? I can think of a few things, but a couple are hardly fit for public ears," Loki responded, leading them through the dance smoothly and easily.
Pepper pulled her phone out, her eyes locked on the two men on the dance floor.
Tony laughed. "You think about my flexibility?"
"At the moment?" Loki smirked, "Yes."
Tony pressed a breath closer, eyes coming up to meet the other man's, even through the darkened glasses. Taking his hand off Loki's shoulder for just a moment he took the glasses off, hooking them on his shirt pocket before placing the hand back. "What are your opinions and observations then?"
"I find that the tango suits you. And you're right, you're rather flexible."
Tony smirked, moving suddenly out of a turn to come back into the lead position, pushing Loki into the next move before the other could fully comprehend. The taller man nearly stumbled at that, but caught himself and moved easily into the follow's role so long as Stark could lead.
That was the point at which Pepper texted the part of their trio not present. -Rhodey, you need to get over here now-
-Across campus and busy- came the quick reply as Tony just grinned wider, shifting the pair of them closer in the dance, moving into the steps he preferred.
For the most part, Loki had been leading him in the international style Tango, the one where the British had gotten a hold of the dance and tried to standardize it. While Tony knew the steps and after years could do them perfectly, he'd always danced the more personal form of tango, the closer one.
-Don't care. Tony's tangoing.- Pepper watched carefully, frowning.
Loki was far more used to leading and it showed even as he moved smoothly through the follow's part. He was accustomed to the international style and the Argentine that Tony was leading brought a faint touch of color to his cheeks.
-You took him to club- came the disinterested response.
Tony slid his hand more firmly along Loki's shoulder blade, holding him that much closer before carefully spinning the other out and dragging him back in just that inch closer.
-Where we dance international. This is Argentine. And it’s who he's dancing with. Get over here-
Loki grinned at that, his breath hitching and his green eyes alight. Vaguely aware the rest of the floor was basically empty except for them, even though the music kept playing, Tony dropped Loki into a dip and pulled him back up.
Finally Rhodey texted back with a -Fine im coming but this better be important-
The designer's grin was wide, his eyes sweeping over Tony. His attention entirely focused on his dance partner, he barely noticed the lack of other couples. Had he realized that he might well have called the dance off, but it was unlikely.
Hearing the music start to shift Tony swung Loki out again before pulling him in even closer and dipping for the last cord, eyes trained on Loki's green ones. Loki's breath was shallow, quick and his eyes wide, "So you can dance then."
Tony's grin just widened. "Glad you think so too."
"Are you as skilled in other areas?"
Stepping back, Tony spread his arms. "Depends on which areas," he said, tilting a brow just slightly.
Loki looked him over speculatively, "Perhaps this conversation is more suited to privacy?"
Tony stepped back, glancing around the room before smirking again, turning and walking away from the main floor. The other man's lips curled into a smirk as he followed after him.
Once in the hallway and around the bend, Tony turned, crowding Loki against the wall and kissing him hard. Loki startled slightly but returned the kiss eagerly, his hand moving to tangle in the other's dark hair. Grinning into the kiss, Tony titled his head to press the other further against the wall, hands resting on his hips. Loki's breath caught in his throat as his free hand moved to the small of Tony's back, pulling him closer.
"Come home with me," Tony whispered, mouth going to Loki's ear.
Nipping at the other's ear, Loki smirked, "Thought you'd never ask."
Letting out a breathless laugh, Tony dragged him away from the wall and outside, moving rapidly. Loki laughed as he let the other guide him back to his apartment.
Pepper glanced at the clock on her phone and turned, going to find Tony and narrowly avoiding swearing when neither he nor Loki could be found.
Once inside the door, Tony pushed Loki against it, returning them to the position they had just been in. Loki pressed into the kiss, his long fingers ghosting down Tony's side.
"How do you slip under people's radar?" Tony asked, drawing back just enough to look at Loki's eyes again, the rest of their bodies pressed together.
"Lots of practice," the other replied.
"Don't practice anymore," Tony muttered, biting his neck.
Loki tilted his head back to give him better access. His breath caught, "I...that's a lot you're asking me to stop."
Propping his chin on Loki's collarbone, Tony glanced up at him again. "Is it?" he murmured before returning to trailing kisses along Loki's neck and down to the juncture of his shoulder and neck. "I don't care, you're gorgeous."
"G-god, Tony. I think you're out of your mind, but I'm not sure I care."
"Oh, I never cared if I was out of my mind," Tony smirked, hands trailing down and pulling up on the hem of Loki's shirt.
Loki caught his breath and his focus long enough to turn his attention to the buttons on Tony's shirt, "Good I suppose."
Tony laughed again, pressing close so that getting buttons undone suddenly became a very complicated affair. Loki leaned down to kiss the other, "Bedroom?"
Letting out a sound of want, Tony pulled the other against him, falling into a dance hold without thinking about it before moving backward quickly, actually spinning Loki a few times to keep the forward momentum going or he would have just said damn it all and tripped them onto the floor. That earned a faint laugh from Loki as they finally reached the bedroom and somehow made it onto the bed itself. He finally managed to get a hand on the other's shirt buttons again, fumbling with them, but shifting enough to nip at Tony's throat. Arching into that touch, Tony pressed him further against the bed, hands tangled in his hair.
Loki eventually divested the other of his shirt, his hands trailing over the planes of Tony's body, exploring as he leaned up to press a biting kiss to the other's lips. One hand still in Loki's dark hair, Tony's other drifted down to wrap around the slender man's waist, rolling their bodies together.
Well, hope everyone likes the tango. Of your two authors, Victoriousscarf is the one who's actually done Tango (and loved it) but there really are two very distinct styles of it. International/American Tango, which was really the attempt to make it suitable for ball room dancing and the best way I have of describing it is really, it's like the British got ahold of it. Argentine tango is the really sexy one you see most of the time in films and stuff.
Chapter 3: You Are Much More Interesting Than Economics
Chapter by victoriousscarf
Fifteen minutes after the tango solo, Rhodey finally walked into the club, heading for Pepper. "Now, seriously, what is this all about?"
"You're late," she snapped. "He's left. Taken his dance partner back to his apartment if I'm right."
"He—what?" the other student blinked at her in some shock. "Pepper, I live across campus! How was I supposed to get here in time to stop that. Is it really so bad?"
"Did you hear about his party last Friday night?"
"I heard it happened," he replied, slowly. "Was there anything else I needed to hear?"
"Did you hear about the guy he hauled up on a table in front of a room full of people and kissed?"
Rhodey gaped at her before shaking his head slightly. "Let me guess. You're about to tell me that's who he took home with him?"
"That's exactly who he took home with him. I'm pretty sure he's going to end up dead this time," she muttered.
"Look, Pep, there's not a lot we can do," Rhodey shrugged. "But I'll stop by in the morning to make sure he's still alive, okay?"
"I'll even take him food," Rhodey assured, looking heavenward.
She offered him a slightly grateful smile, "Thank you. Thank you for coming out here too."
"Yeah, yeah," he waved her off with one hand. "What else am I gonna do?"
"Well, you could have dug in your heels."
"When it comes to Tony?" he arched his brows at her. "I would never do such a thing. I know far too well at this point. Besides, you shouldn't be left to deal with him on your own."
Pepper's smile turned relieved, "Still, thanks, Rhodey."
"Course," he said, patting her on the back. "Now, if there aren't any more crisises?"
"No, you can head home or back to whatever." She sighed, shaking her head.
"I'll see you tomorrow," he said, already going back for the door. Pepper watched him go before leaving as well.
Loki blinked himself slowly awake to sunlight coming in through the bedroom window. He frowned in confusion as he tried to remember where he was and tensed as he remembered. He sat up, glancing around frantically for his clothes. His eyes narrowed when he couldn't find them. Listening, he finally thought he could hear someone in the main room. Gathering up the top blanket, he wrapped it around himself and stepped out of the room, pausing in the doorway when he finally spotted the other.
His clothes were neatly folded on the chair nearest to the bedroom door, and Tony was in the kitchenette, for all the world looking like he was arguing with the wall while cooking breakfast. "No, you don't understand. Last time it was too salty. Don't give me your perfectly balanced equations on optimal taste, there was too much damn salt."
Loki scooped up his clothes, blinking in confusion, "What are you doing?"
That got a confused look from Tony, who smiled when he saw the other was awake. "What does it look like?"
"You're cooking. And...you washed my clothes?"
Tony shrugged. "Both seemed the polite thing to do. Since none of my clothes would come close to fitting and would you really want to go home in those after last night, unwashed?"
The other blushed slightly at that, "No. Thank you." He disappeared back into the bedroom to get dressed.
Tony watched him go a moment before the eggs on the stove demanded his direct attention again and he pulled them off the burner, swearing.
Returning after a moment, Loki arched an eyebrow as he pulled his shirt over his head, "Having trouble out here?"
"Not at all," Tony muttered and glared as the wall pinged at him. "Don't start."
"I didn't? Just asked about the cussing," the other offered in mild confusion.
"Not you," Tony said, offering him a blinding smile as he used the spatula to dish the eggs onto a plate.
That earned a long blink, "Then who?"
"JARVIS," Tony said, using the utensil to point to what was a computer panel stuck into his kitchen wall, as if that explained everything before handing Loki a plate.
The other man took the plate, his confusion growing more palpable, "Right...Alright then."
Tony just grinned at him again, sitting at the table and gesturing for Loki to chose whichever of the remaining chairs he liked, already using the built in computer screen there to flick through the morning's newspapers.
Loki settled down opposite him, still watching him almost warily, "So...you made me breakfast."
Arching a brow, Tony looked back up at him. "Yeah?"
"Do you do that often?"
"No," Tony said, breezing past the word as if it didn't mean much and going back to considering the weather report.
"Then..." Loki shook his head and turned his attention back to the food in front of him.
"Then?" Tony asked, looking up again and something unguarded flashing behind his eyes.
"Why?" He glanced up, quickly covering his uncertainty.
"You tried to shove me off a table," Tony said, as if that explained the entire universe. "Besides, you dance a good tango."
"Which..." he shook his head, grinning. "You dance far better than any other partner I've had."
"I don't believe that," Tony waved the comment off with a fork. "I mean, there's plenty of people at that club. But which what?"
"You both lead and follow expertly, and passionately. You dance better than, alright perhaps almost, anyone else. Though you dance both parts that well. Most do one or the other." He shrugged slightly, "I'm not certain me trying to push you off a table explains breakfast."
"It explains forty-two percent of breakfast," Tony smirked. "So, you like my passionate dancing then?"
Loki's lips curled into a mirroring smirk, "I certainly do. It's not often I see a partner as passionate."
"Which is too bad," Tony said, still gesturing with the fork. "People should be more passionate."
"I would say people are scared of passion," he rejoined, picking at the eggs.
Not even bothering to ask who else that might be, Tony cut right to the issue. "Are you?"
Loki rolled a shoulder, "I would not say so."
"Then it sucks to be whoever's scared of it because they're missing out on plenty," Tony said, returning his attention to food for a moment. It was obvious how he could forget to eat, since he kept forgetting about the food in front of him that he himself had cooked.
Finally setting his own fork down, Loki rose to take his plate to the sink, "I probably ought to be going..."
"It's still early," Tony said with a shrug, leaning back and looking up at him.
He glanced at the clock, hesitating, "Are you sure?"
"Sure," Tony drawled, still looking up at the other from his sprawled position on the chair. "I have nowhere to be for quite a while."
Loki leaned against the counter, "Where did you learn how to tango?"
Blinking, Tony shrugged, actually taking the time to consider how to reply. "When I was younger, mom was really big on being socially acceptable and fit socialite company. I made her year by asking for tango lessons."
That earned an arched brow, "You mean you voluntarily took dance lessons?"
"I even demanded them," Tony said, grinning again. "Not that I had to demand very hard, mind."
"But whatever possessed you to do that? I mean, beg pardon, you don't seem the sort."
That got a laugh out of Tony. "Okay. you're partly right. Pepper wanted to learn how to dance, and she really liked watching things about the Tango."
"So..." Loki considered that, "So you asked for lessons for her sake?"
"Basically," Tony nodded, leaning forward again and talking with the fork. "Her mom was the house's maid... nanny, well, basically her mom was the woman who ran the house because my mother was too spacey to remember which days we were having guests or that her own son probably needed to eat at regular hours. And after being forced to watch yet another ballroom movie of longing, I told my mom I wanted dance lessons and that Pepper was coming too since I refused at point blank to be forced to dance with strangers. Mom was so damn ecstatic about me being socially acceptable, she didn't mind paying for Pepper's lessons too. And thus, I can do a mean tango."
The taller man tilted his head on one side, "There's more to you than most people think, Tony Stark."
Tony's answering smile was somewhere between predatory and bitter. "There usually is."
Loki nodded, a ghost of a smile on his features, "No kidding. Everyone's got something more to them, but you've a great deal."
"Any luck figuring out what that deal it?" Tony asked, leaning forward an inch more.
"Not really. Though you're capable of more genuine care apparently than many might credit you with."
Eyes widening slightly, Tony leaned back, looking at Loki again with an expression more wary then it had been. Before he could come up with the proper mask or reaction, a loud knock came on the door and Rhodey was suddenly pushing himself in. Loki looked toward the door, his expression startled before he allowed it to slip into an almost bored look. His green eyes were attentive as he watched the third man enter.
Rhodey stopped, looking at the slender man for a moment, before looking at Tony and finally taking in the dishes. "You made breakfast," he said, shocked.
"Yeah?" Tony offered, tilting his head back as Rhodey sank into a seat at the table, dropping the take out bag and coffees on the table.
"Well, more for me then," he shrugged.
"Aw, you brought me breakfast, honeybear?" Tony drawled as sweetly as he could.
"And coffee," Rhodey said, giving him a dark look.
"Such a sweetheart," Tony continued, batting his lashes and Rhodey kicked him under the table, smiling at his yelp.
"Dude," he said, shaking his head. "I wanted to make sure you were still breathing."
Loki rolled his eyes at that, "Why is it every assumes I'm going to kill the people I sleep with? My brother has informed me that if I don't he will. And now this?"
Rhodey and Tony both looked over at him, Tony's eyes going a bit wide again and Rhodey snickered. "I think it had more to do with Tony rather then you," he said, popping a hashbrown in his mouth. "He tends to make people want to kill him."
"I resent that," Tony said, glancing back over at him and stealing one of the coffees.
Biting his lip in an attempt to hide a grin, Loki chuckled, "Well, I suppose I can't blame you for that concern."
"See?" Rhodey said and Tony kicked him under the table. "Hey, I'm the one who brought you coffee."
"So?" Tony asked. "Let me guess, Pepper sent you? I like how you come when she calls but you don't when I need you to save me."
"I trust her judgment more."
That earned a laugh from Loki, "Do your friends often do this, Tony?"
"Once in a great while," Tony said, giving Rhodey a long look, which he shrugged off which practiced ease, even though he carefully shoved the breakfast sandwich that was Tony's favorite toward him, other hand pulling out his phone to text Pepper under the table.
-He made him breakfast-
-He did /what/? This is bad, Rhodey-
Loki glanced between them before nodding very slightly, "I should probably head home."
"It's Friday," Tony said, springing from his seat quite suddenly as Rhodey watched him, texting Pepper still.
-He's still here too.-
The other nodded, "Yes I have work this afternoon, though fortunately no class. What are you supposed to be doing?"
Tony waved that off, like it didn't matter. "No, tomorrow's Saturday. I think you were supposed to have some kind of answer for me?"
Rhodey blinked once, before looking back at his phone. -Is there something going on sat?-
-...Just the charity event I'm dragging tony to by that gold silk tie he owns-
"Well, had you asked for my answer yesterday I would have told you no flat out." Loki looked him over, "What time?"
-Well he has a date to it now- Rhodey replied, trying to keep his expression as neutral as possible, glancing over in time to see Tony's eyes light up, sending off a second message before he got a reply. -Make sure tony wears his shades-
"It starts at one, so if you get here by twelve fifteen," Tony said.
-He has a date. With loki? To the charity event? And the shades...Damnit-
Loki ran down his work schedule in his mind and then nodded, "I think I can make that."
"Great—" Tony said just as Rhodey started speaking.
"Well, it was nice to meet you," he said, a clear request for the other to get the hell out.
Glancing at Rhodey, Loki hesitated but nodded once as his expression closed off again, "You too." He glanced at Tony, "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow," Tony agreed, walking him to the door. "You have everything?"
"Yeah." Loki offered him a faint smile before kissing him briefly, "I'll see you then." With that he slipped out.
Tony stared after him, closing the door and turning back to one very unimpressed political science major at his table. "What?"
"You just made a date with someone," Rhodey said, "And you cooked him breakfast."
The shorter man scowled at his best friend, slinking back over to grab the coffee again. "Don't start."
"Start?" Rhodey said, innocence. "I didn't start. I'm just telling you what I always tell you and what you always, always, ignore. Be careful."
Tony rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Tell Pepper I'm fine and go pester someone else."
"I brought you coffee," Rhodey pointed out and Tony grinned.
"Thanks, honeybear," he drawled and the other man rolled his eyes, standing.
"Yeah, yeah. I have classes so I'm taking the rest of the food and going. Remember to eat the rest of the day, alright?"
"Yes, mother," Tony said, rolling his own eyes and seeing Rhodey out.
Thor was sitting on the couch in the apartment's cramped living room, a book on his knees that he was attempting to wade through, only everything else in the apartment was more interesting. Loki unlocked the front door and entered, not quite smiling, but his expression close to that, "Good morning, Brother."
"Brother!" Thor said, bounding from the couch and happy for yet another distraction. "You did not come home last night."
The younger sibling took a half-step back at that exuberance, "No, I didn't."
Thor looked him over, and when it was clear that his brother was not physically harmed in any way and in clean clothes he grinned broadly. "Good for you! Who's the lucky girl?"
Loki blushed at that and hating the fact that he knew he was doing so, "That's none of your business."
"But," Thor started and paused. "Was it not good?"
"I don't recall saying that. But whether it was good or not does not make my sex life any of your concern," his green eyes narrowed slightly.
"So you did sleep with someone last night!" Thor said, lighting up again.
Loki rolled his eyes, gritting his teeth in a mockery of a smile, "Yes I did, now will you leave it be?"
"But, I want to know more," Thor whined. "And you are much more interesting then economics."
"I'm not going to tell you any more. And your economics homework needs done just as much as my design work does," his younger brother responded. "Have you had breakfast yet?"
"I can feed myself," his older brother said, making a face.
"Just checking." He disappeared into his room for a moment before locating his sketchbook.
"Where did you even meet them?" Thor called out.
"Tango club," Loki lied easily. After all, there was a technical truth in there.
"Really?" Thor looked impressed. "Well, it is good to know there is something useful about that club after all."
His brother shot him a dark look, "I happen to like that club, thank you very much."
"I still worried that you just stood there and glared at everyone else and only went to tell me and father you were being social," Thor replied, with an easy smile.
"I go because I enjoy that dance, Thor. We've been over this. Just because you can't get your mind around it does not mean that I do not go for the social aspect as well."
Thor just grinned at him again, expression easy. "You are so prickly."
Loki rolled his eyes, locating the piece he was currently working on, "So you claim."
His brother just laughed again, trying to focus on economics.
Thank you all for the wonderful response, we really appreciate it!
Chapter 4: You Look Artistically Rumpled
Chapter by victoriousscarf
Tony looked around the large ballroom, frowning at it and heading instead to where the party spilled out into a garden, taking a glass from one of the moving trays.
Loki's green gaze swept around the room, but he followed Tony preferring to stay close to the other rather than deal with a press of people he had absolutely no connection to.
"Drink?" Tony offered, gesturing around. "Take anything that suits your fancy."
He shook his head slightly, "Thank you, but I'm not especially thirsty at the moment."
"That's not actually the point," Tony said, weaving around a table and dropping smiles where he was supposed to. "It's to have something in your hand and something to laugh into when someone says a painful joke that's not funny."
Considering that, Loki finally relented and picked up a glass, "You usually avoid these, don't you?"
Tony glanced back at him, free hand shoved into the navy suit's pocket. "What gave you that impression?" he asked and then nodded anyway.
"Your conversation with Pepper when you bought that suit," he replied. "Which, might I say, looks very good on you."
Grinning, Tony did a tiny turn. "I'm not sure whether it's your taste that was impeccable or mine."
"You're the one who requested it. I just sought the right cut and size."
"Never underestimate the cut and size," Tony replied, looking him over. "As I'm sure you know."
Loki smirked at that, "Oh I'm well aware."
Returning the grin, Tony nodded at an older couple as they walked by. "You look nice."
"Thanks," the other replied, glancing down at his dark grey suit and green tie. It was a couple of years old, but still fit comfortably and was in excellent condition. "I still am not quite sure where I managed to find this."
Tony laughed. "You work in a suit store," he said, pulling on Loki's green tie before smoothing it back down.
Loki smiled sardonically, "I work in a suit store that I can't afford to shop at."
A tiny frown appeared between Tony's eyebrows and he really wished it wasn't such a nice function or he'd slide his hand into one of Loki's pockets. "Okay. I sort of figured they'd at least give you enough of a discount for like, one suit, but okay. But hey, this one looks fetching."
"Oh there's quite a good discount. But in addition to tuition? I'm far better off shopping somewhere a little less high-end," Loki responded, glancing around. "How long do you have to put in an appearance here?"
"Not sure yet," he said, looking around for a flash of red hair. "Honestly, not long. Just smile at the right people, shake a few hands, and drop an unseemly amount of money."
"A common enough occurrence?" Loki sipped at his drink, glancing up as Pepper finally located them.
"Common enough," Tony agreed. "Pep," he said brightly, having managed to actively avoid her all Friday after Rhodey left.
"Hello, Tony," She offered him a bright smile but glanced pointedly at Loki. There would be talking at a later date.
Tony wrapped his free arm around her waist, leaning in to kiss her cheek. "No going after him," he muttered, pulling back.
"I wasn't planning to," she returned. "You and I need to talk, though, Tony."
Loki glanced between them, "Should I—"
Pepper shook her head, "No I'll corner him later."
"She knows where I live," Tony sighed. "I can only avoid her twenty-four hours at a time, I swear. I should lock myself in the lab in the name of science again."
"I'll manage to get a pass of some sort, and you know I will," Pepper replied.
"It worked for forty-eight hours last time," Tony replied, finally sliding his arm from her waist to wave to an elder man in a blue suit who nodded in return before moving on.
She rolled her eyes, "They will kick you out if you look malnourished."
"That's what lab assistants are for," Tony said. "Jane's a sweetheart and she always feeds me." He glanced at Loki from behind the shades before snapping his attention back to Pepper.
Loki's brow rose at that, "Jane?"
"Yeah she does..." he waved a hand, trying to place it, "Astrophysics? Physics that have to do with space."
The other just blinked at him for a long moment before shaking his head, "Good to know."
Pepper nodded, "She keeps him fed anyhow."
"You know her?" Tony asked, arching a brow slightly.
"I know of her," Loki answered.
"Huh," Tony said, smirking rather than react. "I didn't know science majors were that much of a hit around campus."
The taller man shook his head, "My brother has been mooning over her for months. That is all."
Tony opened his mouth to say something when a man came up and slapped a hand down on his back. Giving a full body twitch, he turned, grin in full force by the time he greeted the other socialite.
Loki's brows shot up at that and he glanced at Pepper who had a smile plastered on her face, "Does—"
"Ten minutes and then you can both leave," she murmured in response.
Moments later, Tony turned back to him, looking for all the world like a feline with his tail lashing in irritation. Glancing toward Pepper he arched a brow in question.
"Five more minutes, Tony. You can make it that long," she answered the silent query.
"I can handle five minutes," he said, using his free hand not already holding a glass to pluck champagne from a passing tray, draining it in a moment and putting the glass back down before the tray had the chance to move away.
She offered him a long look, her gaze darting to the glass that had already been in his hand, "Right. Alright, I'm trusting you to stick around for those last five minutes—I have some other people to check in with."
"I'll stay," he said. "Look, I even have someone to corroborate my story."
Pepper glanced at Loki, "Make sure he stays?"
"I promise nothing if there's a repeat of the last encounter," he responded.
"The last encounter?" Tony asked, having not registered his reaction and thinking instead of Tango club.
His childhood friend had, however, and she nodded, "Fair enough. See you guys later." With that she slipped away.
Tony blinked, looking after Pepper. "You just agreed. What the hell?"
Loki watched her go, "You really aren't comfortable here. She could see that I'm sure."
Tony actually scowled at him. "I'm fine."
The other looked taken aback briefly, "Mostly, yes you are."
Turning, Tony moved across the expanse of garden, stopping by a fountain that he sat it.
Loki hesitated for a long moment before following him and sitting down near him, "Tony? I've overstepped haven't I?"
Tony glanced over at him, pushing the glasses further up. "Overstepped what?" he asked, voice light.
The other looked him over for a moment before shaking his head, "Nothing apparently..."
The short man glanced at him over the shades a moment. "So, how are you enjoying the taste of the high life? I mean, beyond what you get with dressing these people."
Loki rolled a shoulder in a half-shrug, "It's different. Filled with an awful lot of lies though," he murmured.
"You say that like's it's a surprise," Tony drawled. "So, recognize any of your suits?"
"Besides the one you're wearing? Not many. There are a couple, but mostly it looks like competitor's clothes."
"Well, if you give me your store's business cards or something, I wouldn't mind handing them out as a walking advertisement," Tony said, taking a sip from the glass he still held and really wishing he could smoke.
Loki offered him a faint smile at that, "I may just have to do that."
Tony just grinned at him again before spotting someone else in the crowd. "Stay here a minute," he said, handing Loki the glass he still held and weaving his way over quickly. The other took the glass, blinking in confusion after him, his green eyes tracking Tony's movement through the crowd.
Tony stopped in front of a distinguished looking man in a dark green suit, shaking his hand and talking animatedly for a couple minutes before shaking the same hand again and retreating quickly to Loki. "Alright, I've officially smiled and waved at everyone that needs to be smiled and waved at. We can go now."
Loki offered him a smile, "Very good. Shall we then?"
"Please," Tony said, actually holding his arm and draining whatever remained in his glass after he took it back.
Glancing around to see if he could spot Pepper one last time, Loki gave that up for a lost cause and started for the door, "Where to?"
"Do you have anywhere to be?" Tony asked, glancing at him sideways.
He shook his head, "Not today."
"Cool. Because as dashing as you look in that suit, I sortta want to see what you look like while I'm getting you out of it."
That elicited a blush from the other which he focused on banishing, "You have quite the way with words, Tony. Though I've got to admit to wondering the same about that suit."
Tony just grinned as he looked at the blush. "Come home with me then."
"I think that could be arranged."
Humming, Tony curled up around Loki's shoulder, considering his dark hair. "So that almost made up for the party."
Loki glanced at him before rolling his eyes, "I'm never going to live that down am I?"
Tony laughed. "I meant the one we just walked out of, but I'll say this just about made up for that one that I will never let you live down too."
His lips quirked slightly at that, "I expect that you eventually will let me, since it was your fault in the first place."
In reply Tony bit lightly at his neck. "Well, you have to admit now that kissing you was a good idea."
"It nearly got you pushed off a table," Loki reminded as he tilted his head and granted Tony better access.
"Yeah, but, I got you here," Tony said with a shrug. "The ends and the means and all that stuff."
"You are impossible, you know that?"
"How so?" Tony asked, still paying attention to Loki's neck and finally moving down lazily to his collarbone.
"The ends justify the means?" Something shifted in his tone, but it returned quickly to amusement, "You kissed a stranger in front of a crowded room and because I ended up in your bed it justifies it?"
"Uh-huh," Tony said, glancing up from where he was still kissing Loki's collarbone.
"I may have to grant you some of that, but it's a flimsy justification for many things."
That actually got Tony to pull back, bracing his elbows on either side of Loki's shoulders. "Uh, what're we talking about?"
Loki blinked at him, "What do you mean?"
"Flimsy justifications," Tony said, a finger tapping his shoulder.
"Ends. Justifying means. It's a ridiculous excuse used to cover a multitude of things," the other shrugged a shoulder.
"Well, yeah," Tony agreed. "But they work so very well to get you here." He made a face. "You don't think I'd always use that line do you?"
"I should hope not. It's so horribly clichéd," Loki responded before leaning up to kiss the other. Tony's back tensed but he leaned into the kiss, relaxing as it continued. Loki's hands trailed down the other's sides as he turned the kiss a bit more insistent.
Tony smirked. "Didn't we just do this?" he asked, one hand already traveling down Loki's chest.
The other drew a sharp breath, but grinned, "Yes. We did." He just didn't care to deal with the conversation any longer.
Tony hummed into the kiss, keeping his touch light for the moment. "Eager?"
"Something like that?" Loki bit at the other's lower lip.
Tony's brows furrowed for a moment, returning the kiss again automatically. The taller man smirked as he rolled them both over, not breaking the kiss. Tony jumped at that, actually drawing back from the kiss. "What—"
Loki drew back slightly as well, looking him over, "Are you alright?"
"Um," Tony managed, eyes wide. "I'm suddenly here. Why am I suddenly...?"
"Would..." Loki's gaze swept over his features and he rolled off of him. Propping himself up on his elbow, the sales clerk considered the other man.
Tony pushed himself up on his elbows, disliking lying flat on his back. "So, um, hi."
Tony blinked at him once before rolling over on his side. "Fine."
Loki's brow arched skeptically, but he didn't press, "Alright then."
"Come back over here," Tony muttered, pulling at his hip.
The other obliged, moving over, a hand tracing down Tony's side. The shorter man pulled him closer again, wrapping arms around his chest and kissing him hard. Loki returned the kiss, pressing into it, even as he let the other guide him. Threading a hand through Loki's hair, Tony hummed. "Should I let you get back home, ever again?"
"Eventually my brother will start asking around about me," he replied. "But not for quite a while yet." Hopefully.
"So, I can't, like, kidnap you to a Stark owned island as my personal sex slave?"
That earned a long blink, "I think Pepper might object to that. And my brother would hunt you down to kill you."
"Right. Let's avoid the hunting and killing then," Tony grinned, kissing the other lazily.
Loki smirked, "That sounds ever so much simpler."
Tony laughed, pulling him closer. "I'm not really the simple type though."
"Well, I'd like to finish my degree before you cart me off to a private island to service you for the rest of my life," Loki replied, nipping at the other's jaw.
Tony started blinking rapidly and nodded after a pause. "Right. Yeah... finishing school is good."
Loki's brow arched, but he didn't comment. trailing biting kisses down the other's throat. Humming again, Tony tried not to think about having anyone in his life for the rest of it.
When Thor returned to the apartment, he banged his way into his brother's room and blinked. He then set about hunting through the entire place for his brother, and when he came up empty, returned to the living room with some confusion, double-checking the work schedule that Loki had taken to putting on Thor's bulletin board so he wouldn't pester his brother about it.
Loki returned home about an hour and a half later, the top button of his shirt undone—the tie in his coat pocket—and his hair still looking very slightly rumpled.
Thor considered him over the Xbox controller, a slow grin spreading over his face. "Have fun?"
Loki shrugged out of his suit coat, "Not really your concern, brother."
"No, but I'm curious," Thor grinned, leaning on the back of the couch. "You look artistically rumpled, of course I'm curious."
"You're always curious, though it gains you no knowledge."
"Loki," Thor whined. "You were out all day."
"I went to a luncheon," he answered finally. "Did I forget to write it on the calendar?"
"Yes," Thor said, looking at his hair again. "With who?"
"Are you enjoying your benefits with them?" the blond asked, arching a brow.
His brother smirked, "More and more."
"Will I ever get to meet them?" Thor asked, turning back to the game he's paused.
"I'm not sure. I've only been with them twice."
Thor glanced at him sideways, forgetting to pause again and suddenly a dragon swooped out of the sky on the screen and he got distracted swearing at it for a moment. "Twice?" he said finally, still doing fierce battle.
"Tango club," Loki reminded, picking up a book he'd discarded the night before. "Not even a week, so I see no reason for family introductions yet."
"Ah, so it is your mysterious tango partner," Thor grinned. "Good for you."
His younger brother rolled his eyes, "I will never understand your fascination with my sex life."
Thor laughed. "It's because you so rarely have one."
"Thank you for that..." Loki shook his head. "I'll tell you what, if this lasts longer than two months, I'll introduce you to him. Alright?"
Thor grinned again as his game character stood triumphant over a dragon. "Alright, brother."
The dark-haired sibling nodded once before turning his full attention to his book.
Pepper showed up at Tony's the following afternoon around three. She knocked and let herself in as was her habit, "Tony?"
There was a pause and the music scaled back its volume and Tony appeared from the back room. "Pep," he greeted. "Please tell me there's coffee involved."
"There is always coffee involved," she held out the aforementioned beverage.
"And this is why I put up with you," he said, drawing the coffee in close before starting to inhale it. "So..."
She sipped at her own latté, "So, what's going on?"
"Well, I've almost figured out a voice module for JARVIS," Tony replied, watching her over the brim of the coffee cup.
Her brow arched, "This is good, I look forward to hearing him when he has a voice. But you know that's not what I meant."
"Really? You'll have to be more specific," he said, turning around and retreating into the small kitchenette.
"Alright, I'll be more specific then. What’s going on with you and Loki?"
"Very nice sex."
"And a charity luncheon. And breakfast," she added.
Tony just raised his eyebrows at her. "Yeah? You forgot the dance, but that's all still just lead up to great sex."
"Breakfast, Tony. After the first night."
"So?" he asked, climbing onto the counter to unscrew the panel in the wall that housed JARVIS. "I got sick of takeout food."
"Tony, Rhodey and I are allowed to be a bit worried. You never cook people breakfast."
He muttered something that might have been directed at the panel. "Yeah, I have."
"That's actually our point," her tone softened slightly.
He stopped, finally turning on the counter to sit on it, spinning the screwdriver between his hands. "Okay. Don't worry."
Pepper looked him over for a long moment, "You know that's not an easy task. But I'll try, alright?"
"Good," he said, taking another swallow of coffee. "So, what can you actually tell me about the guy?"
"Not much really. He's studying fashion design, he's great at the tango, he's quiet, has an older brother, and apparently works at a suit store."
Tony gave her a long look. "You're right. That's a puny list."
"He's also very nice, as long as you stay on his good side. I've talked to someone who didn't and they said he can be absolutely cruel then." Concern sparked her gaze briefly, but she shook her head, "He's also part of a pretty close knit circle, though I'd say he's on the outer edge of it in some ways."
"Edge of a close knit circle?" Tony's eyebrows went up really high but he honestly didn't want to think about what people would say about his own circle.
She shrugged, "I couldn't get much more than that. Natasha knows someone in the circle, but she couldn't say much about Loki."
"You—" Tony paused, considering her. "Wait, did you actually start asking around?"
"Of course I did. I take precautions," Pepper replied.
Tony's eyes narrowed slightly. "But you couldn't find all that much."
"He keeps to himself."
"I'm not sure you I feel about you checking up on people I sleep with," Tony muttered, finishing off the coffee.
She sighed, "Tony, I worry, I look into things. You know this."
"You don't look into any of the others I've slept with," he returned.
"And I didn't start really looking into him ‘til Rhodey texted me Friday."
"Breakfast is not the impending apocalypse," he said, rolling his eyes.
"No, but I figured I should know who you were making eggs for."
"I think I can find that out on my own, by actually talking to the guy," Tony said, still looking put out and a little confused.
"You asked me what I know about him. Most of that I knew before. It's just the bit about the small circle I didn't," she answered with a shrug.
Tony sighed, nodding. "Right, right."
"I'm not going to apologize for worrying about you, Tony."
"I know," he said, finally offering her a smile. "Now, will you feel better about everything if I actually cook you food too?"
Pepper offered him a faint smile at that, "I think that could greatly improve things, yes."
"Cool," he said, sliding off the counter.
VS adds: Also, just in case anyone is at all wondering what game Thor is playing, it is entirely the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Mostly for the fact that it's based roughly off Norse mythology, which is an idea that amuses me greatly, but also because many of your author's conversations have been cut off by the abrupt appearance of a dragon in that game. ((I still think Meadow doesn't believe me when I say I can beat the dragons)).
Chapter 5: You Are Very Exhausting To Be Around
Chapter by victoriousscarf
It wasn't often Tony actually went to social events on campus—he tended to make his own society after all, and most of that was better left off campus. Except, there was some big movie screening outside, and Jane, being stuck with him in the lab since Monday evening made enough big brown eyes at him that he agreed to attend.
It had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that she might have a connection to Loki. It was because she was right, his entire social life was getting drunk and he really should enjoy wholesome aliens being blown up from time to time.
Loki arrived at the movie screening. He'd been in the middle of a couple of designs, but he'd promised Thor he'd give Jane his brother's apologies. Especially since it was at Loki's insistence that his brother wasn't leaving the apartment while sick. His gaze swept over the assembling students and he smiled briefly when he spotted Jane. Perfect. He could drop off the message and head home, no trouble at all. "Jane!"
The science major looked up, her smile confused, "Loki? I didn't think I'd see you here. Where's—"
"My brother's not feeling well. He wanted me to come tell you that he's sorry he's not going to make it tonight."
She blinked at him, "Did he lose my number?"
"Your..." Loki stared at her for a long moment, processing that. Had he been hovering again? He had a tendency to do that when his brother was sick—he'd blame it on his mother, but she'd never had that practice to the point where one sent her away, "I don't know. I just know that he sends his apologies."
Tony had been dealing with another fellow lab-mate and had momentarily lost track of Jane. "Who lost who's number?" he asked, appearing at her shoulder and grinning quite suddenly.
Jane shrugged, "I don't know if he did or not. Loki just came to tell me his brother can't make it."
"Probably he lost his phone," the fashion design student muttered, his gaze darting to Tony and then back to Jane.
"Does he do that often? Because, I swear, phones are such a pain to keep track of," Tony said, still grinning like something wonderful had fallen into his lap.
Loki shook his head, "He's not feeling well, but no he doesn't usually."
Still grinning like the cat with the canary, Tony moved past Jane, sliding an arm around the taller man’s waist. “So, I hear there’s an event happening here now, are you sticking around?”
“I…” He shook his head, “I was planning to head back home actually. Like I said, Thor’s not feeling well and I really ought to be home.”
“But, he sortta sent you all the way out here,” Tony grinned, talking into the side of his neck. “You were, what, hovering? I mean, if he has his phone and Jane’s number I think he wanted you out of the house. So stay.”
“I told you he lost his phone,” Loki murmured, though it was a weak excuse that hardly deserved the name. “What movie is it, anyway?”
“I have no idea,” he admitted, turning back to look at Jane. “Though I think I was promised aliens?”
Jane nodded, “Some old alien movie. Something about classic sci-fi or something like that.”
Loki’s brow arched, “Interesting. I’m going to be made to stay aren’t I?”
“Oh yes,” Tony said, tilting his head back and grinning. “I mean, maybe not the whole time, though I wouldn’t want to offend dear Jane by leaving early but,” he leaned just a little closer, pressing his side against Loki’s.
The other bit his lower lip, a faint smile gracing his features, “I suppose I can be convinced to stay.”
“Cool,” Tony said, looking around the lawn before sitting down, pulling Loki from around his waist. “So, Jane,” he said, conversationally, ignoring the warmth at his side. “How goes the science?”
Loki startled, but folded his legs alongside him, leaning against Tony as Jane answered. “Well, sciencey. I keep thinking I’m getting close to a breakthrough or something, but it keeps slipping away at the last minute. Always seems like there’s something just around the corner, you know? Some big discovery just waiting to be unveiled.”
“That’s usually how it works,” Tony agreed. “I think I had three prototypes blow up on me this week alone. I’m just happy my hair is still intact.”
Jane grinned at that, “Yes, I heard tell about that. Glad your hair’s still there too.”
Loki glanced between them, “It’s rather nice hair.”
“I’m quite fond of it,” Tony agreed, pulling his knees up underneath him and leaning his head against Loki’s shoulder, curling himself around the dark-haired man.
Moments before the film actually started, a voice called out over the crowd. “Do my eyes deceive me? That is Loki sitting there isn’t it?”
“Fandral, please,” the girl standing next to the blond shook her head. “Try to be quieter.” But her eyes traveled over the crowd and widened when she did in fact spot Loki and the shorter man curled around him.
Volstagg blinked in confusion at the sight of Thor’s brother, “That is him, isn’t it?” Hogun looked at the other and shrugged slightly.
Sif nodded, leading the other three over. “Hello,” she said, looking down and Tony blinked, looking the four over.
“Um,” he said, glancing between them and Loki.
Loki’s eyes widened and he stared up at them, “Sif. Hogun, Fandral, Volstagg. What are you doing here?”
“Could ask you the same thing,” Volstagg remarked.
“Maybe I’m here to enjoy the movie,” the dark-haired man offered.
“As are we,” Sif said, sitting down on the other side of Loki from Jane and Tony. “Your brother was supposed to come. Seeing you here is surprising.” She glanced at the clinging limpet on Loki’s other side again and Tony just raised a brow at her.
Fandral plopped down behind them. Loki shrugged the shoulder closest to Sif, “He’s not feeling well, and sent me to tell Jane he couldn’t make it tonight.”
Volstagg sat down next to Fandral, “Is his phone broken?”
“Am I backing you up on this one or not?” Tony asked, trying not to smirk obviously.
Loki offered him a long look, before glancing at Volstagg, “He’s lost it I think.”
“Or his brother was hovering,” Tony added helpfully. “And he needed the place to himself for a while.”
Loki scowled, “I do not hover.”
“Yes you do,” Hogun finally spoke, earning him a dark look from Loki.
Tony blinked. He had mostly been teasing. “Right. So.”
“Who are you?” Sif asked, giving him another long look.
“Me?” Tony asked innocently. “I’ll just let you figure that out for our own, I’m sure it won’t take that much time. Besides,” he said, glancing at Loki again. “I really didn’t know your social circle included a band. I mean, not like a high class band but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them around campus.”
“I think I might be insulted by that,” Fandral said, still sitting behind them.
“They’re my brother’s friends,” Loki justified.
“But still your circle,” came Volstagg’s comment.
“I’m in my brother’s circle. That’s what it is,” he replied.
“Right,” Tony said, considering him a long moment in the flickering light the large blow up screen was giving off as the film started. “Still, I feel like this could have been pertinent information.”
Sif just frowned at him, miffed at how Tony had brushed aside the question earlier. “You’re not good with pertinent information either, are you?”
“How is their band pertinent information?” Loki frowned in confusion. He glanced at Sif, “His name’s Tony.”
Tony whacked his side with his free hand. “You travel in better circles then I’d given you credit for, of course it matters. I mean, there is a factor that makes me less ashamed to be seen with you.”
Loki scowled at him, “Alright, that’s it, I need to get home.”
Tony’s eyes widened and his grip tightened. “Home home?”
The other tensed slightly, “Yes. Home home. My brother’s sick and if I don’t go home I’ll feel guilty about it in the morning.”
Tony stood with him, forgetting for the moment others were actually there. “I can get you home long before morning,” he pointed out.
Loki looked him over for a long moment, but shook his head and ignored the feel of Hogun’s eyes on them, “I really shouldn’t.”
“Let me walk you home,” Tony said after another moment.
The taller considered him for a long minute and then finally shrugged, “Alright…”
“Don’t sound so disappointed,” Tony said, frowning as he whacked Loki’s shoulder. “It’s not often I make the gesture.”
Loki offered him a faint smile, “Well, let’s go then.” He glanced at the others, “Good night, all.”
Jane looked up, “Tell your brother to get well soon.”
“I’ll pass on your sentiment.”
“See you in the lab,” Tony said, waving at Jane. “Try to work on those breakthroughs and all that.” She waved them off, Loki pulling Tony’s arm as he started away. Grinning, Tony let himself be tugged, not quite plastering himself to the other’s side strongly enough to make walking difficult. “So, you have friends then. That’s nice.”
Loki’s lips quirked into a faint smile, “Yes, I have friends. You needn’t be so surprised.” He drew a deep breath, “We could go by your place before I head home…”
Tony let one of his hands drop to Loki’s waist. “Am I the easy one or are you?”
He startled slightly at that, “Both? Neither? I don’t know.”
Other hand tangling in Loki’s hair, Tony turned enough to pull Loki down into a hard kiss, not nearly caring they were still only at the edge of the quad where the movie was being held and who knew who was passing by. Loki tensed but pressed into the kiss, one arm wrapping around the other’s waist and pulling him close. His other hand moved to rest on Tony’s hip.
“So, coming back with me?” Tony smirked, drawing back slightly.
Loki smirked down at him, “Yeah, I think so. At least for a while, but I have to be home by morning.”
“I’ll get you home,” Tony promised, nipping at his bottom lip.
“Then maybe we’d better go before this gets out of hand?” Loki suggested, running a hand down the other’s side.
“After you, darling,” Tony drawled.
Taking a step back, the other smirked and started in the direction of Tony’s apartment, “You coming?”
Collapsing back into the bed, Tony curled up on Loki’s shoulder. “Few more minutes.”
Loki glanced at him, smiling lazily, “What?”
“Until I’m willing to let you leave,” Tony replied, nuzzling against him. “Since, I did promise to let you go before morning I figured I should stick to that. Possibly set a precedence.”
That earned a faint laugh, “I see. Yes, a few more minutes. I’ve no real desire to move enough to leave yet, anyhow.”
“Could drive you, you know,” Tony said, wrapping an arm around his chest.
Loki shifted enough so he could run a hand along Tony’s arm, his lips curling upward, "And I certainly wouldn't be averse to that."
Tony laughed. “I think you’re going to regret saying that.”
The other smirked at him, "You know, I don't think I will."
"You haven't seen what I drive yet," Tony said, smoothing a kiss over Loki's collarbone.
The taller titled his head back at that, "Do I want to know?"
"You can see later," Tony replied, unable to stop from planting small kisses everywhere he could reach.
Loki reached up tilting the other's chin up and pressing a hard kiss to his lips, "I suppose I can live with that."
Tony hummed his approval of the kiss, finally pulling back. "You are very exhausting to be around."
Something flickered in the other's eyes, but he smirked, "I'll take that as a compliment."
Tony groaned. "Exhausting because I keep wanting to have sex with you. It's all very annoying. Even I'm supposed to go a certain amount of time without my libido kicking in."
Tracing a hand down Tony's side, Loki bit back a laugh, "Poor thing."
Grinning again, Tony kissed his ear. "Do you ever have slow days at the shop?"
"Often," Loki admitted distractedly.
"I should come in," Tony said, nuzzling at his ear. "Come in one time when you're slow. I always need a new suit and you might need the distraction."
The other's brow arched, "You can't be serious."
"Aren't I?" Tony asked, glancing up at him.
"But what?" Tony asked, tilting his head to one side.
"What sort of distraction are we talking about here?"
"I don't know," Tony smirked. "What ones are you open for?"
Loki glanced at him with a faint smile, "Well, we have to keep in mind that I have to keep working there."
"I'm sure those changing rooms have seen sex before," Tony smirked. "It's rich people. They throw money at a problem and except no one to care about their vices. Which is exactly what I'm proposing to do. At any rate, I'm sure you could use another suit commission and we could take a long time picking one out."
The other swallowed hard, but a smirk pulled at his lips, "I suppose that could be arranged..."
"Sex in the changing rooms optional," Tony added. "If I can manage that."
Loki grinned, tilting his head enough to nip at the other's jaw, "If you can manage it."
"We've had this talk, about you and what you do to my libido," Tony grinned.
"I plan to make sure that continues, I hope you realize."
Tony pushed himself up at that, swinging himself over to straddle Loki's waist. "What continues?"
"That effect on your libido," Loki answered, ghosting his fingers down Tony's sides.
"Oh, I would not worry about that," Tony said, eyes flaring. "At this rate."
Laughing, the other leaned up, one hand twining behind Tony’s head and pulling him down to meet him with a kiss.
"Now, you're sure about this ride thing?" Tony asked, leading the way down the stairs.
"Of course. Why wouldn't I be?" Loki arched an eyebrow, following him.
"No reason," Tony said, shrugging and stopping at the door to the buildings garage, hitting the code in.
Loki glanced around the garage, "So which one's yours?"
"It's not actually one of the cars," Tony said, walking past several nice ones.
"It's...not? Then what is it?" He was beginning to regret the certainty that he wouldn't mind a ride.
Tony just smirked, leaning against a red and gold motorcycle.
Loki paused at that, his tone flat, "A motorcycle."
"Yup," Tony just continued grinning at him.
"That's not a vehicle. It's a deathtrap."
"It has wheels, and it moves forward," Tony said, enjoying Loki's expression perhaps a little too much.
Loki shook his head, "You cannot be serious."
"Do you still want the ride then?"
"It's a motorcycle. I think I might just walk..." Though considering the hour and how tired he was feeling a ride might be better, even if it was on one of those things.
"I promise not to crash," Tony rolled his eyes.
Loki eyed the bike warily again, "I...suppose it could be worse."
"It allows for more body contact," Tony pointed out, fishing the keys from his pocket.
That finally earned a smirk, "Alright, fine, you may have convinced me."
Tony grinned again, fishing out the helmets he wasn't actually stupid enough to drive without, having heard the speech from Pepper and Rhodey far too many times. "Here," he said, tossing one back and straddling the bike. Loki put the helmet on, getting on the bike behind the other, slipping his arms around Tony's waist.
"Do hold on," Tony said, kicking the bike into gear and in short order roaring out of the garage. The other tensed, leaning closer and glad he'd given the other directions beforehand.
Enjoying the ride, Tony finally stopped in front of the apartment building, giving it a very long look. Loki stepped off, pulling the helmet off and offering it to Tony, "I should head up."
"Will I ever get an invite up?" Tony asked, folding his arms over the bike's bars.
Hesitating, the other nodded, "Yes, but with Thor not feeling well, tonight's probably not a good plan."
Grinning, Tony nodded, seeming more than happy to accept that. "I'll see you around? And I was serious about that bored bit."
Loki smirked, "I'll see you around, and you'll hear from me when I'm bored."
Tony gave him a sloppy salute. "I look forward to it," he drawled.
"Good night, Tony."
"Good night," Tony replied, putting the helmet back on and kicking off.
Loki watched him go before heading up to the apartment he shared with his brother. He stepped inside and shed his coat before heading to bed and trying to get some sleep.
Chapter 6: You Would Never Be Brave Enough to Date Me
Rhodey blinked at Darcy, as they sat in the main student union, books spread between them. "No, come again?"
The smaller girl just rolled her eyes. "See, this is why I'm better then you in every way possible."
"I will buy you an iTunes gift card if you explain this in a way that makes sense" Rhodey protested, gesturing to the homework and Darcy brightened just as Rhodey noticed a certain angular, dark-haired student walk by. "Oi!"
Loki startled at that, glancing in that direction and moving over. He recognized the girl at the table first, "Good afternoon, Darcy." He paused, trying to place the other student present.
"Oh, hi Loki," she said, waving a hand at him and flipping determinedly through the book in front of her, trying to find the suitable passage for her paper—and to convince Rhodey she was right.
"I'm not sure we introduced ourselves," Rhodey said, eying him again. "Or that Tony bothered to introduce us in any way."
"Oh that's where I know you from." He extended his hand after another moment, "Loki Laufeyson."
"James Rhodes," he said, accepting the hand as Darcy looked up quickly.
"Wait, Tony?" she asked, looking at Loki again.
The dark-haired man glanced at her, "Yes, what of it?"
"No, I really don't want to know," she said, shaking her head quickly. "The stories I hear about that man would make someone's hair curl, I swear."
Rhodey gave her a half offended look. "That is my best friend."
"Your best friend is entirely whacko," she shrugged. "Sorry. I hate to be the one to tell you, but after this point, you should have seen it yourself."
"Whacko might be going a bit far, Darcy," Loki murmured. "Eccentric perhaps."
"No, the reason he's not institutionalized is because he's charismatic and rich," she said, nibbling at her muffin.
Rhodey sighed, before looking at Loki in some surprise for the defense.
He rolled his eyes at Darcy before glancing at Rhodey and speaking to him, "How do you know this crazy one?"
Rhodey considered. "Well... I think it has to do with meeting him when I was this high," he said, gesturing to his height when he was about eleven. "And never getting rid of him since."
Loki smiled, shaking his head, "That's good to know, but I meant Darcy."
"Oh that crazy one," Rhodey said as Darcy's eyes snapped up and Rhodey laughed nervously. "Ex-girlfriend."
"Very ex," she agreed. "But you still need help on the homework and have nowhere else to turn."
Loki laughed at that, "Brave man."
"Now I know I'm insulted," she said, narrowing her eyes at the taller man.
"She's good at this," Rhodey shrugged. "When she can explain it."
"You just can't keep up."
The other man grinned, "I meant for dating her. And come now, Darcy, there's no need to be insulted."
"Right. You would never be brave enough to date me," she said, rolling her eyes and picking a nut out of the muffin she was eating.
"So the question is, who's he brave enough to date?" Rhodey asked, remembering too well the sight of Tony making breakfast.
"How did this become about me?" Loki asked, picking up the nut and nibbling at it.
"Because you're here and I know who you slept with."
Darcy dropped the muffin. "Loki had sex? With who? Why am I only hearing about this now?"
"Because my sex life is no more your business than it is my brother's," the fashion design student replied testily.
"Oh my god!" she stared at him. "You're heartless."
He smirked at that, though the amusement didn't reach his eyes, "You'll live, I'm sure."
She rolled her eyes but Rhodey just considered him again. "You never did answer my question."
"Which question?" Loki asked, arching a brow even as he considered his best exit.
"About who you're brave enough to date," Rhodey said, crossing his arms on the table and leaning forward. "Because whacko or not, you'd be surprised how protective people get."
Resisting the urge to take a step back, Loki offered a hesitant smile at that, "I intend to date him until he breaks it off."
"He, whacko," Darcy muttered under her breath, counting points on her fingers.
"Really?" Rhodey asked, looking at him dead center. "Because I really don't think you have any idea what you're getting into."
"Oh my god!" Darcy yelped, processing. "Loki!"
Loki pursed his lips, meeting Rhodey's gaze, "I have no intention of hurting him." He glanced at Darcy, "Mention this to Jane or my brother and your iPod will not be seen again."
"That's what they all say," Rhodey replied as Darcy let out an indignant squawk of protest.
"You stay away from my iPod!"
"I mean it. I wouldn't hurt him. I see no cause in it. I find your protectiveness commendable, but by the time you received news of anything I might have accidentally done to him I am certain Pepper would already have broken my knee," Loki spoke quietly, but firmly.
"Right," Rhodey said, leaning back. "You know Pepper. So that's somewhat reassuring."
"She and I attend Tango club together," the other man mentioned.
"Yeah," Rhodey nodded. "I remember. Pepper's the one who sent me over with breakfast to make sure he was still breathing only to find him cooking."
"Tony Stark cooks?" Darcy blinked. "I don't believe it."
"Only rarely," Rhodey replied, keeping Loki's eyes.
Loki let those words sink in before he inclined his head, "I'll be careful."
"Well," Rhodey relented slightly. "It's been, what, a week?"
Darcy blinked rapidly as Rhodey nodded. "Do you know what that even means in Tony Stark's world?"
"I can take a guess, but if you would like to enlighten me feel free," Loki’s tone was even.
Rhodey laughed. "You might as well expect a ring. There's only one person I could name that's lasted nearly so long."
"And let me guess, that's not your place to tell me about?"
The dark skinned man laughed again. "No. And he had more going for him then you do."
Loki pursed his lips again, something cold settling in his expression, "Thank you. If the two of you will excuse me, I have a design project I need to finish."
Looking him over again, Rhodey nodded. "You have a better chance though," he added. "Good luck."
Inclining his head, the other turned and left, heading for a relatively secluded table.
That Thursday, Loki was pleased to end up with Pepper as his dance partner at club. “I don’t know if I’ve asked you where you learned to dance Tango so well, before,” he remarked mid-way through the dance.
“Hm? Oh, Tony and I took lessons together when we were growing up. His parents were willing to pay for both of us, which was really nice of them, frankly. I mean, I was just the nanny’s daughter after all.”
Loki smiled faintly, “So he really did ask his mother to get you lessons as well?” There was something endearing in that thought. It wasn’t that he doubted Tony, more that he liked to have confirmation from another source no matter what he was checking on.
“He…what?” Pepper appeared to be considering it for the first time, “I mean, I suppose so?”
“He mentioned asking for lessons so you could learn to dance,” Loki murmured. “Did you not know that?”
“Well, no. I mean I probably should have, but no he never mentioned it and I never really questioned it. You mean he went through dance lessons for me?” Her eyes lit up slightly.
Loki nodded, “That’s sure what it sounded like from when he was telling me.”
Pepper grinned as they finished the set and started the next one, “Wow.”
Pressing his sunglasses higher on the bridge of his nose, Tony glanced around the courtyard opposite the science building, watching the milling students.
Pepper spotted him from where she'd been waiting and approached quickly, slipping her arms around his neck, planting a quick kiss on his cheek, "You are the sweetest man I think I know."
"Pep!" he said, eyes going wide. "We're in public!" He returned the hug quickly though.
She stepped back, still smiling widely, "Sorry, you were the sweetest kid I think I ever knew."
"What brought this on?" he asked, trying to sort.
"Loki was my lead last night."
Tony blinked again. "Um," he said, tilting his head. "Oh, that bastard."
"I think it's sweet. And he didn't mean to tell me," she offered.
"Really?" Tony shook his head. "However did the subject of me come up then?"
"He briefly mentioned the dance lessons. He thought I knew already."
Tony scowled. "Last time I tell him anything."
Pepper smiled faintly, "I still think it's sweet."
"I've matured since then," Tony pointed out.
"That doesn't make it any less sweet when it happened. And I wanted to thank you. So I'm going to go fetch coffee and probably some food. What do you want to eat?"
"Today feels like a bagel day," Tony declared and paused. "You never figured out the dance lessons before?"
"Well, I mean I suspected, but I never had conclusive proof." She shrugged, "Do you want to come with me to the bagelry, or shall I bring it to you?"
"I can walk," he said, wrapping an arm around her waist as they went, companionable.
She glanced at him, "So how is that thing going, by the way?"
"That thing? You mean the Loki thing?"
"Yes, the Loki thing."
Walking for a while, Tony stopped talking long enough to really consider. "Energetically," he said, finally. "Fairly often. I don't really know."
"It's been a week now hasn't it?" She pressed gently.
"Yeah," he said, glancing over. "It's been a week."
Pepper nodded slightly, "Do you want it to last?"
That almost made the inventor stop in his tracks. "Do I want it to... It's a little early in the game for that sort of thing, isn't it? Sure, I like how often I get laid with him, by him, but..."
"I'm not talking long-term, Tony. I just mean do you want it to keep going like it is?"
"For now? Yes, I can emphatically say yes to that," Tony nodded.
She smiled at that, "Good."
"Good?" Tony asked, finally dropping the arm from her waist to open the bagelry door for her.
She nodded, "Yes. Good."
"Any particular reason this is good?" he asked, searching her face.
"Because you seem to be happy," came her simple answer.
"Appearances can be deceiving," he said after a long pause.
Pepper sighed softly, "Yes, they can. Are you not happy with what's going on?"
"No," he said, staring with intensity at the menu. "Not yet."
Watching him for a long moment, she bit her lower lip, "Tony what's wrong?"
"What do you mean?" he said, glancing over at her and taking the glasses off for good measure.
She searched his eyes as she replied, "I mean not everything's going to end badly. Give it a chance."
"Sure," he replied, glancing away again. "It'll all work out."
Pepper sighed, "It will."
"Bagel?" Tony said, moving forward quickly.
She nodded decisively, "Yes, bagel and coffee."
"Good," he said, turning his attention on that rather than thoughts about things working out or lasting.
Loki was curled up on his bed, books scattered around on the coverlet and phone sitting on the bedside table. He frowned at the homework he was currently in process on, finally setting it aside and picking up one of the books that was open to his right. He hesitated and picked up the phone when it chimed to let him know he had a text.
-It's Friday. Come out with me?-
He blinked at it for a moment before replying. -Where?-
-I don't know. It's Friday, there's parties everywhere.- Tony replied, his texts all punctually correct.
-I don't do parties. I thought I made that clear?- Loki shook his head, starting to turn his attention back to his work.
-You have no life. Anywhere you want to go out?- came back a few moments later.
He rolled his eyes at that. -I have a life. And no. I was planning on a quiet evening in.-
For a little while it looked like he might actually get that before there was another text. -Since I don't know if your brother is feeling better, pizza and a movie at mine?-
Loki hesitated, looking at the work scattered around his room. It was Friday so he had a couple days still. He made a quick decision and got up without disturbing any of his papers. Yanking on his shoes he texted back. -Sure. You want me to pick anything up on my way?-
-We can order in the pizza. Movies of your choice.-
-You have a number of movies?-
-No. You can pick that out too if you like.-
-I'll bring some. Be there soon.- He exited his bedroom, slipping the phone into his pocket as he went over to the DVD rack he and his brother had. Locating a few films, Loki slid them into a small bag and grabbed his coat. He left and made it almost halfway to Tony's apartment before he processed what he was doing. He was honestly going over for something that felt like a legitimate date. Shaking his head he considered texting Tony that he was actually afraid he'd caught whatever his brother had had, but dismissed that thought. Soon enough he was standing outside the other's door and knocking.
Moments later, Tony arrived at the door, looking as usual like he'd just come stumbling out of a daze when he got focused on some project. His face lit up in a grin. "You made it," he said, swinging the door further open. The jeans he was wearing had seen better days, but at least looked comfortable, and he was wearing one of the tank shirts he often wore in the lab.
Loki returned the grin, "I told you I would. Did I interrupt something?"
"Not really?" he shrugged. "I actually got the voice box to shut back off so I'll work on---anyway, no, come in."
"Voice box?" He asked, stepping in and shrugging out of his jacket.
Tony plucked the jacket from his hands, going to hang it up. "Experiment with JARVIS. Um, a southern drawl doesn't fit it, and I can't figure out how to get the voice to change," he shrugged.
Loki laughed, "Well, I'm certain you'll figure that out."
"Eventually," Tony agreed with a grin.
"Any idea what sort of voice will suit?"
"Not yet," Tony said, walking backward. "Any requests on the chance that we are ordering pizza?"
"I'm not too—" He cut himself off before he said that he wasn't picky considering what a lie that was, "What were you thinking of?"
"I tend to go a bit teenage turtle on pizza, which means anything and everything except the anchovies, so it's your choice," Tony replied, rolling one shoulder.
That earned a wry smile, "I prefer something more along the lines of garlic chicken. No mushrooms though if their recipe uses those."
"Garlic chicken," Tony nodded firmly. "I can do that. Low on the mushrooms. Make yourself comfy, I'll deal with that," he said, waving a hand toward the couch.
Loki nodded slightly, moving over to the couch and settling down on it gratefully sinking back into the cushions. Moments later Tony joined him, plopping down on one end and curling his legs up, looking the other man over.
The other student offered him a faint smile, "A quiet night in then. What happened to your plan of a party?"
"I did that last week," Tony shrugged, eyes still tracking over him. "And many weeks before that too."
Loki shifted slightly under the scrutiny, "I see." He motioned to his bag, "I brought a few movies to give us some options."
"Cool," Tony said, tilting his head in that direction before leaning forward and slipping a hand around the back of Loki's ear.
Startling slightly at that, the other blinked at him before leaning into the touch, "How was your week?"
"Oh, you know," Tony shrugged. "Childhood friend found out secrets from her dance partner, had some good sex toward the middle there, progressed in the name of science. It was a good week. Yours?"
"Made progress on my designs, may have accidentally let slip something I wasn’t supposed to, and had some good sex toward the middle there as well."
Tony grinned, leaning forward. "Ah, well, I suppose I can forgive some slip ups. How do you feel about sending out the week with some more really great sex?"
Loki smirked, a hand moving to tangle in the other's hair, "I'm certainly not against that idea."
"Oh good, because otherwise we might have a problem," Tony breathed before closing the distance between their mouths.
Pressing into the kiss, Loki let his free hand settle on the smaller man's hip, drawing him a bit closer. Making a noise in the back of his throat, Tony moved around to throw one leg over Loki's waist, settling back down. Drawing back a hairsbreadth, Loki nipped at Tony's lips, "How long until you expect the delivery guy?"
"Um," Tony blinked, trying to get his brain to refocus there. "Twenty minutes."
Smirking, he nodded at that, "Good to know." He leaned in to catch Tony's lips in a hard kiss. Tony laughed against his mouth, pressing their bodies closer together.
By the time the pizza arrived, Tony had Loki mostly put back together, but his own hair was a lost cause entirely. The thick strands were just about impossible to tame back down without extra help, so he answered the door looking thoroughly debauched. The delivery boy gave him a long look but knew better then to question Tony Stark, silently handing over the pizza and accepting the payment.
“Food,” Tony said, turning and closing the door with his foot. “So what movies did you bring anyway?”
Loki stretched slightly, reaching for his bag. He pulled out the films as he listed them, “Casablanca, West Side Story, The Fugitive, and Ocean’s Eleven—the new one with George Clooney.”
Tony blinked at him, plopping the pizza down on the couch where they both could reach the box with no trouble. “That’s eccentric,” he said, tilting his head.
“They’re less eccentric than they could have been,” came the response. “I enjoy movies, but my mood tends to change about which one depending on the evening.”
That got a grin from the other man. “Well then, my eccentric,” he said the word warmly, almost as an endearment. “Since it’s your choices, you choose something.”
Loki’s lips curled into a faint smile, “Do I get any input from you?”
Tony laughed. “That’s just another way of making my choose, isn’t it? Fine then, the caper.”
Picking up the selected movie, he handed it to him, “If you wouldn’t mind putting it in? Every player’s fractionally different after all.”
That got a laugh from Tony as he slinked upward. “I’m not sure you could find mine,” he said, as it was a player built into the actual TV itself, the slot in the back revealed by the push of another button. Once it was settled he returned to the couch, considering the way Loki was sitting and optimal pizza eating. Shoving at Loki’s legs he curled up along his side, happily munching on a slice. Loki glanced at him before draping his arm around the other man’s shoulders, nibbling at his own slice of pizza. He offered Tony a bit of a smile as he settled in to enjoy the evening in the other’s company.
Chapter 7: Do I Get to Debauch You Before You Go?
The next morning Tony woke up, having tangled up in the sheets and Loki during the night. Hefting himself on one elbow, he considered the other student for a long moment, a slight frown between his brows.
Finally, he shook his head, sliding out of the bed and heading to the kitchen, working on the switchboard for JARVIS that had been pulled out the night before. Sliding that back in, he turned his attention to making breakfast, ignoring JARVIS’ helpful comments about proper ingredients.
Loki woke a short time later, sitting up and running a hand over his hair to try and smooth it down somewhat before getting up and grabbing some of his clothes. Pulling on his pants he slipped out of the bedroom and paused when he saw Tony in the kitchen again, “Morning.”
“Good morning,” Tony replied, slipping over and wrapping his arms around Loki’s waist, humming in appreciation for the fact he hadn’t put a shirt on yet.
Running a hand over the other’s head and down his back, Loki smirked, “Apparently I need to come over every Friday night. I swear I eat better on Saturday morning when I do.”
Tony’s eyes widened, something flickering over them. “Yeah,” he said, tilting into the touch and brushing it aside. “Well, if you feel like it, I’m sure I’ll be able to provide.”
“Well, I suppose we’ll see,” Loki’s smile softened. “Thank you for having me over again.”
“Do I get to debauch you before you go?” Tony asked, canting his hips against the taller and grinning up at him. “I’d accept that as payment for breakfast.”
Loki drew a sharp breath at that, his arm tightening around the other, “I suppose that could be arranged.”
Hands coming up to cup Loki’s chin, Tony pressed up to draw their mouths together, movements slow but sure. He only pulled back when the oven beeped, giving Loki a crooked grin as he slipped back to finish breakfast.
Smirking, the other trailed after him and leaned against the counter to watch him, “You know I ran into your friend from last weekend a couple days ago.”
“Friend?” Tony asked, dropping the food onto plates. “Oh, you mean Rhodes?”
“Yes. Him. He was studying with a friend of mine in the student union.” He shrugged, “Seems campus isn’t as big as I think it is sometimes.”
“Depends, some days. Who was he studying with?” Tony asked, desperately wanting to know what Loki and Rhodey had talked about, but sure he would get a straighter answer out of Rhodey.
“Darcy Lewis, Poli Sci major and a woman not afraid to speak her mind,” Loki wasn’t quite certain why he’d brought it up beyond how surprised Rhodes had seemed the week before when he found Tony making breakfast—not to mention the conversation about the length of time they’d already technically been seeing each other.
Tony laughed, handing Loki a plate. “Oh, god. You know Darcy? I can’t tell if I’m surprised or not.”
The taller man took the plate with a grin, “Well, she’s Darcy. She knows a great many people. I find her entertaining most of the time, though she seems convinced you’re certifiably insane.”
That just got another laugh. “Well, I’m sure she does. That’s because she usually only sees me at my worst or hears stories from Jane. You though, you get to see me at what some might agree is my best.”
A smile curled the corners of Loki’s lips, “I’ll take that in such a case. It’s a good time to see you.”
Tony’s eyes widened as he very carefully salted his eggs. “Thanks.”
“I’m not sure that’s something that needs thanks, but you’re welcome I suppose.” Loki hesitated, stirring his eggs around on his plate as he weighed his words to Thor the previous week versus what he was considering at the moment, “Would… that is, Thor’s starting to feel a good deal better, and I was wondering if you’d like to meet him in the next week or two?”
The short man paused, fork halfway to his mouth. “Um,” he started, blinking and then shrugged. “Sure. Why not?”
Biting the inside of his lower lip the other offered Tony a faint smile while trying to sort out what the hell he’d offered that for, “Great. I mean, you’ve pretty much met everyone else I consider of import who is in the near area. So when we have a free evening perhaps?” Free evenings could be a long time in coming, or so he told himself.
“Yeah, I’ll check the calendar,” Tony murmured, fidgeting with the fork. “I mean, this week is this week so… maybe the next one or two?”
Loki picked at his food, nodding very slightly, “I’ll check with Thor and see if he has any time within the next couple weeks?”
“Sure,” Tony said, forcing his spine to relax but not quite meeting the other man’s eyes yet. “Just let me know, yeah?”
His green eyes swept over Tony and he paused for a moment, “If you would rather not you only have to say so. It…may be far too soon.”
“Did I ever say no?” Tony asked, eyes flickering to his for a moment and away. “Just, unexpected I guess but really, it’s finding room in the planner I’m sure Pep keeps of my schedule and whereabouts.”
“I, well, no you didn’t. I just… if it’s not something you’re comfortable with,” he shook his head. “You seem rather busy during the week, so maybe you could let me know and then if Thor doesn’t have time that lines up we won’t worry about it?” He dropped his gaze to his plate, pushing the food around a bit more when he realized it looked like he’d eaten even less than he actually had.
“Loki,” Tony sighed, watching him. “No, it’s fine. But if you don’t eat, I’m going to have to feel insulted and then where will we be?”
The other offered a ghost of his usual smile, “You sound like my mother. And you shouldn’t feel insulted, the food’s quite good.” He took a bite to appease Tony, “Thank you for breakfast.”
“Good. Because you’ll need the energy for the very rambunctious events I have planned,” Tony grinned crookedly at him.
Loki smirked at that, “Well, when you put it that way I suppose I should probably eat a bit more, hm?”
“That’s certainly a good plan,” Tony replied, waving the fork at him. “So eat.” Shaking his head slightly, Loki turned his attention to the meal dismissing thoughts of their conversation to be dwelt on later after he left Tony’s apartment.
Pepper stopped outside the science building on Wednesday when she spotted Loki. Jane wasn’t in that day and she didn’t have time to run all the way to the lab, “Hey, Loki!”
The fashion design student paused, “Pepper? I’ve been trying to get a hold of you. Did you get my text?” He’d sent her a concerned missive earlier that morning when he realized he hadn’t seen Tony anywhere since Saturday morning.
“Tony’s been holed up in his lab for the last few days. I was going to give his lunch to Jane, but she’s apparently out today or something. I have a class I have to be at in like seven minutes which means I can’t run this down to him and make sure he eats it.”
“He hasn’t eaten?”
“He forgets unless someone reminds him when he gets like this. Can you?”
Loki considered the time and the meal, “Which lab?”
“Oh thank you. Just go in and ask for the lab Tony’s using this year. They’ll point you right to it.” She handed off the food and left before he could protest.
Loki blinked after her before entering the science building and asking for directions. It took him quite a while to find the right lab. Entering he grimaced at the volume of the music but moved over to where he could see Tony working. He set the lunch bag down next to the other, his gaze sweeping around the room and the accumulation of different projects.
For a moment Tony continued tying two wires together before he processed the fact food was next to him. “Oh, food,” he said, glancing over, hair tousled and grease in it. “Oh!” he said, actually seeing who had brought the food. “Loki. What do I owe this pleasure to?”
Loki arched a brow at him, “Really involved in your work then? Pepper sent me with food because she had to get to class.”
“Well, it’s almost like Christmas, you bringing me food,” Tony murmured, turning on the stool and pulling Loki in, nuzzling against his chest.
The other tensed slightly, but quickly relaxed and ran a hand through Tony’s hair, “You’re covered in grease. What are you working on?”
“Stuff,” Tony said, putting his chin on Loki’s chest and looking up at his face. “What day is it?”
“Wednesday. Late afternoon,” came the answer, accompanied by a smile. “You’ve been in here long enough I texted Pepper asking where the hell you’d gotten to.”
A slow grin spread out over Tony’s face. “Miss me?”
“A bit. It was strange not seeing you at all the last few days. She mentioned you haven’t been remembering to eat?”
“Food?” Tony asked, laughing. “I forget, yeah. Forget a lot of things when I’m in the lab,” he reached over, fumbling to turn down the loud music.
“Get really into your work then?” Loki grinned, “That seems rather fitting.”
“Does it?” Tony hummed, hands tracing patterns on Loki’s hips. “God, I think I missed you.”
The taller man smirked, an arm snaking around Tony and pulling him closer, “You tend to get very focused. When are you thinking you’ll be coming up out of the lab again?”
“It’s Wednesday, did you say? Shit, I think I missed appointments and stuff with my advisor. I should probably go home and sleep,” he said, tilting his head and standing finally from the stool, nuzzling against Loki’s neck.
Loki tilted his head to draw away and kissed the shell of Tony’s ear, “You probably should. And then call your advisor maybe? But going home may be a very good plan too.”
“Are you offering to take me?” Tony smirked, leaning his chin back.
Leaning down to offer him a biting kiss, Loki grinned, “I certainly could do that.”
Tony came back with his eyes glazed over. “Okay. Fuck. Let me get things put back together to the point I can come back to them.”
The other stepped back, smirking, “I suppose I could allow that. Take all the time you need, I’ll wait.”
“Great,” Tony said, pressing their mouths together quickly before sliding away, shoving gears into drawers and closing down several of the computer screens sitting around the room.
Loki leaned against the main workbench, his gaze sweeping around the room, “Are all of these projects yours?”
“Yeah,” Tony said, typing in a few commands. “No one else would even try to find anything in here. I mean, honestly.”
“What all are these? Seems like rather a lot of them.”
Tony laughed, the sound actually bright. “I’ve been here a long time,” he said, shrugging and closing down the last screen, waving to a corner. “That’s what I actually came in here to finish, which I did on,” he paused. “Monday.”
Loki strolled over, careful not to touch anything, “What is it exactly?” He glanced at the other, “And you finished it on Monday and stayed down here anyway?”
“Well, that is something my advisor decided I needed to finish or else I wouldn’t be getting my master’s in physics. I disagree with him that it’s a pointless device, but there you have it and it’s done now.” He moved back to the table in the middle, where something round with a lot of coils. “This is what I was working on since.”
“Master’s?” He followed Tony to the table, “And this is?”
“Um, renewable energy source, if it ever works,” he replied, making a face at it. He was so sleep addled he was being entirely honest. “That’s for the engineering PhD, if I could ever, you know, get it working.”
Loki tilted his head on one side, “I’m sure you’ll—wait, PhD? How old are you?”
Tony grinned, leaning against the table and watching his expression. “Twenty-one.”
“Twenty-one? But how-how old when you started your degrees?”
“Um,” Tony tilted his head back. “You want me to remember things when I haven’t slept more than six hours in three days? Alright, I graduated with a BA when I was seventeen.”
Loki blinked at him for a long moment, “And you’re working on a PhD now? Wow, Tony, I’m impressed.”
“That impresses you? I thought that was my prowess in bed,” Tony smirked, shrugging his shoulders. “Be impressed when I change the world.”
“I will be, but I can be impressed now too, can’t I?” Loki coiled an arm around the other pulling him close, “And to think, so few people know just how smart you are.”
The shorter man blinked wide eyes up at him for a moment, grinning. “You can be one of the few then,” he murmured, tilting up to kiss him.
Loki pressed down into the kiss, pulling the smaller almost flush against him, “What else do you need to get dealt with before we head out?”
Tony wet his lips, slipping from the other’s arms. “Nothing,” he said, picking up his sunglasses and putting them over his eyes, shrugging into a jacket over the old tank he’d been wearing and that was looking particularly grease stained. Picking up the food, he gestured for the dark haired man to proceed him. “Please, let us go.” Smirking, the other student slipped out of the lab ahead of him, starting toward the main door of the building.
Following him, Tony opened the food that Pepper had sent, starting to eat what he could as they walked, his apartment not far from the lab for a reason. “So, you’re done for the day then?” he asked around a chicken drum stick.
Loki nodded, “Yeah, I was headed home when Pepper stopped me. No work tonight either, so I’ve got the rest of the day to myself. Though I should finish a couple sketches tonight.”
Still eating with one hand, Tony slung the handles of the bag over his forearm, slipping his other hand into Loki’s back jean pocket. “Well, if you have your sketchbook, I hear drawing in bed is good for creativity. Though I’ll probably pass out at some point fairly early.”
Startling slightly at that, Loki smirked and slid an arm around Tony’s waist, “I always have my sketchbook so I suppose we’ll have to see if you’ve heard right.”
Tony looked up at him through the lenses of the shades, smiling. “Tell me the results of your experiment in the morning?”
“I have a relatively early class, but if you’re up I’ll let you know.”
“Next time I see you then,” Tony shrugged, finishing what was in his hand and licking his fingers off.
“I shall be certain,” his gaze drifted to Tony’s lips and fingers as he lost his train of thought.
Smirking knowingly at him, Tony took his hand from Loki’s jean pocket to open up the apartment building, taking the stairs quickly. “Good. I figure it won’t be too long at any rate.”
“It never seems to be,” Loki agreed, following the other up the stairs and greatly appreciating the view.
Tony laughed, fumbling for the keys and getting the door open quickly, moving to drop the food on the counter before whirling to shove Loki back against the closing door, hands on either side of his hips. The taller man leaned down to press a forceful kiss to the other’s lips, pulling him closer with one hand while the other moved to trace circles on Tony’s hip.
One hand searching the door to make sure it was locked, Tony laughed against the kiss, drawing Loki in deeper. “God, you’re pretty. What would I do without you and your food?”
“Starve probably,” he replied with a laugh against Tony’s lips. He drew back just enough to bite at the smaller man’s lower lip, “God…”
“Yes?” Tony asked, sweeping his mouth across Loki’s cheeks to his ear. “What about god now?”
The other shuddered at that touch, “Y-you’re going to drive me mad, I’m sure of it.”
Tony laughed, biting his ear. “Would you mind?”
“It would be a wonderful sort of madness,” Loki grinned, trailing a hand down Tony’s side to trace along the waistband of his pants.
Tony groaned. “Bed, now,” he said, tugging insistently on Loki’s waist. “Food later but, fuck, bed now.”
The taller smirked, nipping at the inventor’s jaw line as he guided him backward toward the bedroom, “I think that sounds like a brilliant idea.”
“I’m known for those,” Tony laughed.
A short while later, Tony sat shirtless in his bed, munching through the food Pepper had sent and trying to stay awake long enough to actually put fuel in his body. Loki had fetched his sketchbook and was currently sitting against the headboard with his knees drawn up to support the book as he carefully reworked a couple of details on his latest design.
"Do I get to see any of those?" Tony asked, waving his fork toward the book.
"I think I already mentioned that no one sees these until I'm done with them," he replied, barely glancing up.
"Do you have any finished ones?" Tony asked, considering what page of the book he was open to. "Besides, you saw my lab in all its state."
Loki bit his lip, considering for a long moment before closing the sketchbook and re-opening it to the front, "I have a few in here, only the last few are still technically in progress. Though, honestly, I don't think any of them are quite as done as I'd like."
Tony scooted over, propping his chin on Loki's shoulder.
Flipping slowly through the pages of different clothing designs, Loki kept his gaze focused on the pages and his mouth shut. No one ever saw these initial sketches, just the finished pieces with the colors and fabric swatches in place, but he kept those in his portfolio which was slid under his bed at home. As he saw the different drawings go by, Tony nuzzled against his shoulder. He matched the other's silence for the moment.
The design student finally reached the end of what he was willing to even consider showing someone and closed the sketchbook, "They're not much at this point."
"They're well done," Tony said, a hand coming up to tangle in Loki's hair. "You're talented and frankly from what I understand of fashion, they're amazing."
Loki arched a skeptical eyebrow but shrugged slightly, "They're something anyhow. We'll see if they go anywhere I suppose."
"You're not really the type to give yourself credit, are you?" Tony asked.
"What do you mean? I have no issue giving credit where it's due."
Tony tilted his head at him. "Good. Because you deserve a lot of credit."
That earned another skeptical look, but Loki nodded slightly, "If you say so."
"I say so," Tony insisted.
The other turned his head just enough to kiss Tony lightly before returning his attention back to his sketchbook. Watching him a moment, Tony slid back to the other side of the bed, finishing the plate and setting it aside before stretching out alongside where Loki was still sitting.
"You should see about getting some sleep," Loki remarked, still sketching in details on one of his latest designs.
"I like this too much," Tony said and looked like he wanted to kick himself.
That earned him a long blink, "What?"
"Nothing," he muttered, burrowing under the covers.
Loki reached over and ran a hand over Tony's hair briefly, "I like it too. Try to sleep."
Bright eyes looked back up at him from the cocoon Tony made for himself. "I like the idea that it's normal for you to be doing homework in my bed," he said, voice soft.
The design student smiled softly at that, "I do too. It's...nice."
Shifting closer, Tony threw an arm around Loki's hips and sighed softly. "Good."
Loki glanced down at the arm, smiling again, "Get some sleep, Tony. I'll be here when you wake up."
Tony looked for a second like he had no idea what to do with that but he nodded slightly, hitching the covers up again and finally let himself drift off. Shaking his head, Loki turned his full attention to his sketches while Tony slept.
Having slept solidly through the late afternoon and night, Tony woke up when dawn was just starting to creep over the sky. For a while he dozed on and off, nuzzling against the back of Loki's neck from where the other was on his side.
Loki slowly blinked himself awake, smiling faintly as he reached over and twined his fingers with Tony's, "Mm. Morning."
"Morning," Tony hummed, kissing his shoulder. "When's your class?"
"Ten. So I should probably consider moving."
"It's not that late yet," Tony said, hands sliding around his waist.
Loki smirked, carefully turning around in Tony's arms, "I suppose that's true..."
The brown haired student grinned, pressing closer. Leaning in, the taller pressed a biting kiss to his lips, "Do you have anything you're doing today?"
"Um, making things up to everyone I missed," he replied. "Though everyone expects me to miss appointments and meetings when I'm in the lab."
"Alright, well, let me know how this weekend's looking, hm?"
"I'll be sure to keep you updated," Tony laughed.
Loki grinned, "Good." He tilted his head down to nip at Tony's throat, working his way along his neck and down to his collarbone. Tilting his head back, Tony laughed.
Smirking again, Loki continued in his attentions, trailing kisses down the other's chest. He stretched up again to actually kiss Tony, a hand tangling in the other's hair as he turned them over enough so that Tony was on his back, the design student's fingers trailing down the other's side. The smaller tensed suddenly, hands going to Loki's chest but not pushing.
Feeling the change, Loki drew back slightly, "Tony?"
"Yeah?" he asked, fingers curling around to Loki's back.
"What's wrong?" His green eyes swept over the other's features, seeking the answer.
"Wrong?" Tony blinked up at him, taking a deep breath. "Nothing," he assured, pulling Loki down but his grip was more hesitant than usual.
Loki's kiss was almost hesitant, testing the waters as his hand traced a pattern on the other's hip. Tony tilted his hips up, shifting, clearly still uncomfortable with the position. The other finally drew back again, rolling off of Tony and propping himself up on his elbow.
"Where are you going?" Tony asked, not moving except to glance over.
"Over here. You're obviously not comfortable with that and I'd kinda like to know why, but it probably isn't my business." His gaze skimmed over the other, "Your lead, Tony."
For a second the other man scowled at him. "It's nothing. Alright," he amended to himself. "It's not nothing, but it's nothing that matters. Get back over here."
Loki's brow arched but he finally nodded, sliding over and kissing the other again, "If you're sure."
"I'm really not," Tony said softly. "But do it anyway."
The other hesitated for another moment before swinging his leg over the other and supporting himself so most of his weight was on his arms and not on Tony. He kissed the smaller man gently before trailing kisses down his neck and chest, lavishing him with attention.
Tony shifted, arching slightly into the touches, hands stroking Loki's back and hair. "Come on, darling," he said past a dry throat and still trying not to panic about being laid on his back. "Don't tease."
Loki looked up at him and shifted up to kiss the other again, tenderly and deeply, as he canted his hips down, his fingers tracing patterns on Tony's hips. Tony just dragged him down deeper.
Chapter 8: I Slept For Six Hours and Fell Off the Work Bench
Tony breezed into the cafe he knew Pepper always studied at on Thursday. She said she liked the atmosphere or something like that, but at least it meant he knew where she was once he'd seen Loki off, revamped JARVIS' voice control another five times, and finally dressed.
He was barely keeping a lid on what felt an awful lot like panic when he slammed a cup of coffee down in front of her.
Pepper carefully closed her textbook and looked up at him, "Hey, I didn't expect to see you out and about today."
"Why not?" Tony managed, pushing his shades a bit higher on his nose and nursing his own cup of coffee.
"Because if you were out of the lab I'd expect you to still be sleeping or talking to your advisor like you usually do." Her gaze swept over him, "What happened?"
"Well, Loki brought me food," Tony replied and stalled, trying to get his thoughts in order. Everything he wanted to say felt like it was slipping away like equations did when he got well and truly hammered.
Pepper nodded slowly, "Yes, I sent him with that..."
"Please don't do that again," Tony said, hand tightening on the cup. "Ever. Because, by the way, I think I slept for six hours and then fell off the work bench. Do you remember what I'm like when I haven't slept?"
Paling, she nodded, "I...will keep that in mind. What happened?"
"Well, first I showed off my Ph D level work, then we went home, and slept together. Which is just fine and-and fantastic actually. But then he stuck around long enough to work on homework in my bed and it felt perfectly normal and nice and that is not the reaction I'm supposed to have to something so fucking domestic," Tony replied, teeth gritted. "Pep, what am I doing?"
"He...you...." She looked him over again, "Panicking. With him? I, I'm not even sure I know."
"You are of no help," he said, hands clenching and unclenching on the side of the table, trying not to think about the other thing he wasn't going to actually admit to Pepper. He hated the idea of lying on his back, the very thought made bile and panic raise in his throat, so why on god's earth had he allowed Loki to roll him over?
She dropped her gaze to the table, "You're not going to like what I think."
"I don't like what I'm thinking, so we'll add it to the list," Tony shrugged.
"Even sleep-deprived, I can't see you doing most of those things. And if something that domestic felt normal?" Pepper bit her lip, "You sound like you might be falling for him."
"No," Tony said, the word dropped between them on the table. "There is no—No. Pep..."
She sighed, "I told you you wouldn't like it. What's your suggestion for the cause, Tony?"
"I don't have one," he said, hands coming up before he forced them back down on the table. "But I don't do relationships. Don't we remember the clusterfuck of my life that was the last one?"
Pepper nodded very slightly, "Hard to forget that one. And I may be wrong, I just...you're really comfortable around him. And not in the 'I'm sleeping with this guy bi-nightly' sort of way either. Or not just that sort of way."
"I don't want to be comfortable," Tony said, petulant.
"It might not be a bad thing."
"How is it not a bad thing?" he demanded, hands coming up again and he settled them down enough to take a few swallows of the coffee.
"Well, do you like him?" She asked, tapping her pencil agitatedly against her notebook.
"Well, I-" Tony started and looked pained for a minute. "Of course I do. That doesn't mean he's material to settle down and built a fucking cottage with."
"And that's not what I'm suggesting, but would it be so bad to try an actual relationship?" She asked, "I mean, there are worse things, and you don't look like you have all that many options before you."
"I could lock myself in the lab until he graduates. Or fuck it up. I've really got that second one down to an art," Tony shrugged, leaning back slightly.
Pepper pinched the bridge of her nose, "Tony, not everything you touch falls to pieces."
"You're right," he nodded. "Machines tend not to. And you. But you're superhuman and don't count."
"And Rhodey. And Jane still gets along with you."
"Rhodey's in the same group as you, and Jane gets work study. So, basically, she's paid to put up with me," Tony pointed out.
Pepper sighed, "You might be able to make it work. But if it's not something you want to try then don't."
"Pep," Tony said, after staring at her a long moment, actually looking lost. "I really don't know what to do."
Running a hand through the ends of her hair, she considered him for a moment, "You know this isn't an area I know how to give advice in, Tony. But you also know that whatever comes I'm going to be here and I've got your back. I would say try it, you can't live in fear of screwing something up, or you'll never get anything done."
He gave her a long look through the shades. "You sound like a fortune cookie."
"Well, do you want my advice or not?” She frowned slightly, “Because at this point I'm flying blind too and all I can say is what I just said. You like him. You've said it yourself. So stop over-thinking it and enjoy it."
"I know," he said, running a hand through his hair. "Thank you."
"If you need anything you always know where I am and how to reach me. You'll make it through this one way or the other, Tony, you always do."
Tony's smile was strained at best. "Just because an event has occurred in the past does not mean it will continue to do so."
"This is not the same situation. You'll make it."
Fandral considered the table in the corner over his bagel, having watched it since Tony Stark came sweeping through the cafe. "I wonder if they're having a lover's tiff." Darcy shot him a long look over her notes.
Loki glanced up from where he was going over his teacher's comments on his latest batch of designs, "What? Who?"
"Stark. I'm not sure I've ever seen him so animated," Fandral said, pointing with his pen.
The other glanced in that direction, a frown settling between his brows, "They're not dating."
Fandral blinked over at him. "You sure? Personally, I always felt they just said that."
"Trust me. They're not dating," the dark-haired man replied, turning his attention back to his drawings. "I've danced with Pepper enough to know that."
"Then what's got Stark so worked up?" Fandral asked and Darcy looked half concerned, tracking the student's hand motions as he talked to Pepper. "I mean, the guy acts like a machine fueled with alcohol."
"Fandral, you're being exceptionally harsh in your judgments today," Loki muttered, his gaze moving up to where Tony and Pepper were talking.
"It's Tony Stark," the blond shrugged, missing Darcy's increasingly annoyed look. "The only thing he actually cares about are those shades he always wears."
The design student's eyes narrowed, "I have serious doubts about that."
"Serious ones," Darcy agreed. "I think he likes his bike too." Her eyes slid over to Loki, half asking him a question.
Loki glanced at her, and hesitated before he nodded very slightly though it was accompanied by a shrug. He thought he had an affirmative answer to the question, but he wasn't certain, "Yes, his bike. And his work."
Fandral frowned at both of them for a moment. "I know he was getting handsy a few nights ago," he said, watching Loki especially. "But surely you don't actually like him? He's lazy as a brick. I mean, as far as anyone's ever figured out he doesn't even study anything."
"Which is why he gets a lab?" Darcy asked, arching a brow.
"Well, sure, he does science," Fandral shrugged. "But that's because of who his dad is. Not because he's good at it."
Gritting his teeth, Loki drew a deep breath, counting backwards from ten, but finding it helped not at all, "Fandral, you're being an ass. Tony Stark does more work than you do, and is possibly the most brilliant guy I've ever met."
The blond blinked, a little taken aback by that. "What?"
"You heard me. Now back off."
"But," Fandral blinked at him, ignoring both his bagel and homework. "Loki, you don't seriously..."
"Don't seriously what, Fandral?" The taller man's green eyes narrowed again, daring the blond to push the issue.
"Think he's a decent person," Fandral hissed, lowering his voice to not be quite so over heard.
"And why shouldn't I?" He challenged, "Have you even bothered to consider that maybe rumors and gossip are just that?"
"Dude, you haven't seen him at parties," Fandral replied. "Because you never go to them."
"I've attended one of his. And I still think you're being too harsh."
"What possibly makes you think that?" Fandral asked. Honestly, he wasn't sure why he was pressing the issue, except he was fairly certain he'd never heard Loki defend anyone before.
"Maybe I just dislike seeing people talked about behind their backs," Loki snapped.
Fandral actually laughed at that. "You think he doesn't?"
"Not so much," Darcy said, having tried to focus on her homework.
Shaking his head, Loki snapped his sketchbook shut and slid it into his bag, "I think you're being unreasonable and you should back the hell off."
"Seriously, Loki. If you're getting involved with Tony Stark, I think we should be worried."
"And I think that if I was it would be none of your business because it's my personal life."
"It won't remain like that long if you end up with Stark," Fandral shrugged.
"Fandral, seriously. What bee is in your damn bonnet?" Darcy said, shaking her head.
Loki's eyes narrowed as he watched the blond, "You know, I think you might be jealous."
"Come again?" the blond drew back.
"That's the only thing I can figure at the moment for your entire response to this. You're pushing issues that you have no right to, at all. And I'd appreciate it if you stopped."
Fandral threw his hands out. "I just can't see you sleeping with the campus bicycle is all."
That did it. Loki shoved the last of his work into his book bag and stood up, slinging the bag over his shoulder, "And if I chose to do so? What then? You are incredibly cruel to someone I think you've probably had one conversation with in your entire time here. If even that!"
Across the cafe, Tony's head snapped up, eyes going wide behind the glasses as he noticed Loki so close in the same space. How had he missed that originally?
Fandral gaped at him a moment. "Loki..."
His jaw tensed, "What, Fandral?"
"I just don't think you know what you're getting into," he managed as Darcy glanced over, noticing Tony's sudden attention.
"I am a grown man. And whether you think I'm making the right decision or not, I am making a decision." Loki shook his head, "If you're so worried about it, tell Thor and have him try to talk me down, but so help me don't even think for a moment you have any sort of right to do so."
Shoulders tightening, Fandral finally nodded.
Drawing a deep breath, Loki nodded slightly to Darcy, "Good day, both of you."
Darcy waved him off as Tony rose suddenly, scrambling to follow Loki when he left.
Loki made it out of the cafe and around the corner before he leaned against the wall and let his body relax. Closing his eyes he drew a steadying breath, had he honestly just done that? Damn.
Moments later, Tony skidded around the corner, coming to an almost full stop. "Hi."
His eyes snapped open and darted over to the other at that, "Tony."
Tony glanced around before stepping forward and a hand going almost automatically to Loki's hair. "You okay?"
Managing not to pull away from the touch, Loki nodded, "Are you? You and Pepper seemed to be having a pretty intense conversation there."
"Me? I'm always fine," Tony said, smile strained. "What happened in there?"
"Oh nothing. Fandral was just being an idiot," Loki shrugged. "So nothing new there."
Tony bit back the comment he wanted to make about the blond seeming the type. "Do I want to ask?"
The other shook his head, "No, probably not."
Tony swallowed, looking at his hand still in Loki's hair and seriously considering locking himself in the lab for two years. "But you're good?"
Loki dropped his gaze, still leaning against the wall because he didn't trust himself not to be shaking without that support, "Yeah, I'm good."
Tony's other hand wrapped around his waist. "Okay," he said, noticing the slight tremor but leaving it be.
Offering him a slight smile, the taller reached up to run a hand through Tony's hair, "Didn’t expect to see you again today..."
Tony laughed. "Yeah, I didn't really think you were around either."
"Not that I mind. It's good to see you."
"Is it?" Tony asked, pressing a bit closer.
Loki slid an arm around the other, "Yes, it is."
Tony leaned up, kissing him hard. The taller man stiffened slightly at that, his eyes widening, but he didn't pull away. "Right," Tony said, drawing away and putting a hand on Loki's chest. "I think, that is..."
Loki shook his head slightly before leaning down and kissing him instead of pursuing anything Tony was saying. To hell with what anyone else said.
"I was going to say I should let you continue your day but I like this more," Tony murmured into the kiss.
Smirking slightly, the other finally drew back, "Continuing our days is probably the best plan."
"You make that so difficult," Tony muttered.
"Well, tomorrow's Friday and I don't work til late on Saturday."
Tony made a sound in the back of his throat. "Was that implication of tomorrow then?"
Loki smiled, "It may have been. Text me to let me know what tomorrow night looks like for you."
"Alright," Tony said, swallowing past whatever else he wanted to say. "Go... go about your day then."
Leaning down to kiss the other briefly once more, he stepped away, "Have a good day, Tony."
"You too," the shorter managed. "Try not to yell at anyone else, okay?"
"I'll certainly do my best. Take care," with those words he turned and headed off to find somewhere quiet to settle in until his last class of the day.
Tony let out a long breath when he left, heading back toward the lab. Maybe some loud music and taking apart an engine to put it back together would help.
Friday afternoon found Steve Rogers on his way back to his apartment from class. He paused when he spotted Tony and jogged to catch up to the other, "Hey, Tony."
The shorter paused, as if not quite believing who was jogging to catch up to him. "Um. Steve. Hi."
"How've you been? Haven't seen you around much."
"Oh, this and that," he managed. "Last time was what, about three weeks ago?"
"Something like that, yeah. So, hey, there's supposedly a pretty great party going on tonight. Not saying it's necessarily on par with yours, but it sounds like it could be fun."
"Well, no one could probably top mine," Tony managed, realizing it'd been three weeks since he'd even thought about parties and nearly winced. "Are you going?"
"Was kinda planning to, and wanted to know if you were," Steve answered.
Tony blinked him, suddenly quite glad his shades were still on. "I have no other plans tonight," he managed.
That earned a bright grin, "Great. It's at that red house down on sixth, you know the place?"
"Red house, Sixth," Tony repeated, nodding. "And you're actually, willingly going?"
"Yeah, nothing pressing needs doing this weekend, figured I'd see what the hype was about for later parties this time around."
"You," Tony gaped at him a minute. "What brought that on?"
Steve shrugged, "Haven't been getting out as much as I like recently."
"How much would you like then?" Tony asked, raising a brow behind the glasses.
"Not really sure, just more than I have been."
"Well, you should have goals," Tony laughed. "It might do you good."
That earned a grin, "It might at that. Well, my goal tonight is to head to this party. Think we'll be seeing you there?"
"I'm sure I can pull off an appereance, if you want me to," Tony replied.
"It'd be nice to see you."
"Well," Tony said, patting him on the shoulder. "I'll certainly try then."
"Great! I'll hopefully see you there then," Steve offered him a bright smile and a wave before he headed off.
Tony stopped to stare after him. "Damn it," he muttered.
Tony realized he'd been staring at his phone like it could bite for far too long when with a muttered curse he pulled it toward him, calling Loki.
The design student set aside his book and picked up his phone, cradling it against his shoulder, "Hello?"
"Hey," Tony said, a bit too brightly.
"Tony? What's up?"
"Well, it's Friday evening," Tony said. "There weren't plans persay, but, well, you said to let you know what's up."
"Yes, and so you are? So what is up?"
"I know it's not really your thing," Tony said, trying not to make a face at the wall. "But I got invited to a party. I mean, it's nothing I have to stick around for or anything but—"
Loki cut him off, "Where is it?"
"Red house on Sixth," Tony replied. "Why? Did you want to come?"
"I might show up. I haven’t really got much else to do tonight."
"Alright," Tony said, cautiously. "I mean, I'd like to see you and all, don't think I wouldn't just..."
"...Just?" Loki's tone turned wary.
"Well," Tony shrugged, even though the other couldn't see him. "Last time you shoved me off a table. I know we've both grown at people and all—" but he really didn't like the thought of Loki seeing him at what he considered his worst, and didn't that thought just terrify him.
"...If you don't want me to come you have only to say so."
"No, no, come," Tony said. "If you want."
"We'll see. I might come by a bit later."
"Okay," Tony said, tilting his head. "I mean, if you don't, I can always call you later."
"Well, figure I'll be there, and if I'm not give me a ring later, alright?"
"Okay," Tony replied, voice warm before he could stop it.
"I'll see you tonight, Tony. Take care."
"You too," Tony managed, hanging up before anything else was said.
So sorry about the length of time between updates, I lost track of this one and was supposed to update it last week. Deepest apologies!
Chapter 9: I'm Not Really Looking To Seduce Anyone
Entering the party, Tony looked around, feeling jittery in his own skin again. Which wasn't entirely unusual, but he didn't like it. Looking around, he spotted a head of blond hair and headed over quickly.
Steve looked up as Tony approached, offering him a grin, "Hey, you made it!"
"You look surprised," Tony said, laughing. "I mean, me, turn down a party invitation."
The other shrugged slightly, "Well, you didn't seem completely behind the idea earlier, and you've been away from the scene for a week or two from what I heard."
"People noticed that?" Tony blinked, nearly swearing. "You're kidding."
"Tony Stark missing a weekend of partying, some people sure did."
"I really don't like some people," Tony said, laughing again to cover his annoyance. "Did you miss me or something?"
Steve rolled his shoulder in a half shrug, "You could say that."
"Really?" Tony grinned, unable to keep himself from slinking a bit more into Steve's space.
"Well, yeah. It happens, you know." Steve offered him a bit of a grin, "What've you been up to?"
"Science," Tony said after a pause. "And I did get dragged to Tango club."
Steve's brows rose at that, "Tango club? Really? How'd that go?"
"There was dancing," Tony shrugged. "Do you ever dance, Steve?"
"Not really, and not well," came the answer.
"That's too bad," Tony said, poking at his shoulder. "You just need lessons is all."
Steve offered him a bit of a grin, "Well, I may have to look at that someday maybe."
Tony pushed his shoulder again. "That is the most roundabout way possible of saying something like that, you know? It's just dancing."
"Well, yeah, but it's also not something I can really see myself doing. Y'know?"
"Why not?" Tony asked. "You're graceful, athletic... the girls love it, or so I'm told on many occasions."
"I don't know if I really have the time."
"Oh come on," Tony laughed again. "Don't you want to seduce people through dance?"
Shrugging slightly, Steve offered a faint smile, "I'm not really looking to seduce anyone, honestly."
Tony looked him over. "You're not?"
"No. Why would I be?"
"Well," Tony gestured to him. "You're you. Why wouldn't you be?"
A frown settled on the blond's features, "What's that supposed to mean?"
Tony gestured to him again with both hands. "Um, you're you. Which means you're a very handsome man. Why wouldn't you want someone?"
"I didn't say I didn't want someone, I said I didn't necessarily want to go about seducing someone."
"They don't go together?"
"Depends on how you define seduction I guess," Steve shook his head. "It's not something I'd associate with how I like to get to know people I guess."
"How do you know people then?" Tony asked, flicking a finger over Steve's chest.
Steve took a half step back at that, "Coffee, lunch, talk to them, get to know them."
"You'd save the kitten up the tree, wouldn't you?" Tony murmured, meeting his eyes and looking strangely fond.
"What?" The blond looked momentarily confused, but finally shook his head, "Maybe, something like that."
"So, no girlfriend then?"
"Not yet, no," Steve answered, though his gaze moved around the party instinctively at that.
"Why not?" Tony asked again, tilting his head.
"Haven't asked her yet."
"Why not?" Tony asked, eyes going a bit wide. "So, there is someone then?"
"Well, I don't want to risk the friendship getting awkward, but more than that, I guess I haven't found the right time." Steve smiled faintly, "Yeah, there is."
"Who is it?" Tony couldn't help but ask and wondered if he actually was as masochistic as he was once accused of being.
"I doubt you know her, but it's Peggy Carter."
"Of course it is," Tony murmured, having met her a few times. "She's... quite a fit for you, isn't she?"
Steve smiled crookedly, "She's a real doll. And a bit of a spitfire when she wants to be."
"Yeah," Tony said, voice going a bit soft. "She is all that. So I'm going to have to repeat the question as to why you aren't dating."
"Cause I still haven't asked her out," Steve shrugged.
"Is she here?"
"I think so? I'm not sure. I haven't seen her yet."
"You should probably ask her," Tony pointed out, flicking his chest again. "Anyone in the world is, or would be, happy to have you."
Steve offered him another grin, "Thanks, Tony. I may have to do so..."
"Yeah, do so. Because, I mean, good god Steve, have you seen yourself in a mirror lately?"
He blinked at that, "What?"
"What do you mean what?" Tony asked, tilting his head.
"I mean....I'm not sure what I mean."
"Oh come on, Steve. You're sweet, you’re gorgeous, I don't even want to know how much you work out, you're smart and... I'm done now."
Steve blushed slightly at that, "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Tony. Guess we'll see how it goes, huh?"
"I like giving votes of confidence," Tony said, leaning back slightly, one hip forward.
"Well, I'm going to see if there's anyone else I know here. Maybe catch you later?"
"Sure," Tony said, brushing a hand over Steve's chest. "See you around."
Loki had arrived a short time before and weaved his way through the party until he located Tony. He'd come across the other with Steve Rogers, tall, handsome, blond, Steve Rogers and stopped. That had been a handful of minutes before the blond left. The design student hadn't gotten close enough to hear a word said, but his eyes caught every movement and all of the signals each was giving off in their body language. He could almost hear Fandral's "I told you so" as he watched from where he stood off to Tony's left.
Watching Steve leave, Tony sighed, running a hand through his hair and turned. His eyes widened when he saw Loki, not really realizing how very guilty that might make him look. Green eyes narrowing, Loki turned on his heel and started for the door without a word. "Um," Tony managed and went after him. "Hey, wait. Where are you going?"
"Home. I shouldn't have come."
"Why not?" Tony said, catching him around the waist and whirling him back around.
Loki yanked away from his touch, his eyes flashing, "Why not? You're honestly asking me that?"
"Yeah?" Tony replied, blinking.
"I will not be a second choice, damn you." The taller student narrowly managed to keep his voice even.
"Um," Tony blinked again. "Come again?"
"Steve Rogers. That name ring a bell?"
"Sure, yeah, it's Steve. But what on Earth do you even remotely mean by second choice?"
"What do you think I mean? I would say it's pretty damn apparent."
“No, it's really not?" Tony managed. "I'm serious. What does Steve have to do with anything?"
Loki gaped at him, "You're kidding right? Watching you with him I'd have to be blind not to see you want him."
Tony's jaw worked for a long moment. "No, you must be kidding. You think you're seconds to that?"
"Why wouldn't I? I mean, God, look at him. And I'll bet good money he was at that party three weeks ago and brushed you off."
Tony couldn't even begin to deny that. It had actually been true at the time. "He's off to ask a girl out."
"And if he wasn't?" Loki challenged.
"How can you ask me something like that?" Tony demanded, eyes narrowed.
"Well, the way you were acting around him makes me feel like it's a relevant question!" the other snapped in response.
"He's Steve," Tony protested. "Come on, Loki. It's Friday evening."
"Yes, Tony, it is. And what point are you making about that?"
"Well," Tony shrugged. "Calm down already and come home with me?"
"Oh like hell." Loki shook his head, "I think I've had enough for the evening. Enjoy yourself, Tony. I'm going home."
"No, wait," Tony said, jerking forward.
The other took a solid step back to evade him, "Why should I?"
"Please?" Tony tried in a last ditch attempt.
Loki considered him for a long moment, but finally shook his head, "No. I have other things to deal with tonight. Good night."
"Loki," Tony called again.
He tensed, but shook his head once more. He couldn't do it, he had to leave. Without another word he slipped through a gap in the crowd and left. Tony stood standing in the middle of the crowd, gaping after him.
Short order found Tony at the makeshift bar, doing his utmost to get as drunk as humanly possible in as short of a time as possible. He glanced up at one point, seeing a broad shouldered blond looking as down as he was. "What's your story then, sweetheart?"
The blond gave him a long look."The girl I like brushed me off. For homework."
"Homework can be important," Tony said with a shrug.
"On Friday night?"
"Point," Tony run a hand through his hair. "Hey, my lover brushed me off because he was jealous of someone who's dating someone else so hey."
"Cheers," the blond said, clinking their glasses together and Tony laughed.
Loki spent a few hours trying to calm down and focus on the work he probably needed to get done that weekend. He could put it off until Sunday, and God knew he'd been doing that recently, but he needed something to take his mind off of Tony and Steve. Finally giving that up as an effort in futility, he picked up his keys and coat and left the apartment letting his feet take him where they would.
The walk calmed him down, and he started to process the evening again. He probably at least owed it to Tony to listen to what he actually had to say about the situation, though some part of him didn't want to admit that. Turning down Tony's street he eventually found himself at the door to the other's apartment and he drew a steadying breath before knocking.
Tony started up in bed, glancing over at his bedmate, trying to remember how on earth a blond ended up in his bed and not—fuck. Scrambling out of bed, he'd barely gotten his pants on as he made his way to the door.
Loki considered whether he could retreat before the other answered the door, or if Tony was even likely to be in yet. He shook his head and knocked once more.
Yanking the door open, Tony blinked owlishly at him, in complete disarray. "What?"
Loki looked him over, a frown settling between his brows, but he reminded himself to give Tony the benefit of the doubt, "I came to apologize."
"Shit," was all Tony managed.
"May I come in?" That benefit of the doubt was only going to stretch so far.
Tony's hands snapped out to block the doorway. "Um," was all he managed as he could hear whoever it was he brought home stir in the bedroom.
"Yeah?" he asked, voice strained as whoever it was woke up enough to poke their head out of the bedroom.
Loki paled as he spotted the blond over Tony's shoulder, "You..." He shook his head, his gaze darting between them, not sure who he was more mad at, "You bastard son of a bitch."
Thor's eyes widened in shock and Tony looked like he really wanted the earth to eat him. "Look—"
The design student shook his head, backing up again and turning to leave, "Whatever you're going to say, I don't want to hear it."
"But—" Tony started and Thor finally spoke.
"Why is my brother here?"
"Your—" Tony stared at him in horror for a second before running after Loki, slamming the door behind him and only hoping Thor would be gone later. "Loki!"
The other paused at the bottom of the stairs, glaring at him, "What? What could you possibly have to say to explain this?"
"Probably nothing that you'd believe," Tony admitted.
"Good guess." He shook his head, "I...god, when I think...damn you."
"When you think what?" Tony asked, voice dropping.
"Fandral was right. There's three words I never thought I'd say."
"Who was right about what words?" Tony asked, feeling his stomach turn over.
"I didn't know what I was getting into. I never should have let this happen." Loki shook his head again and turned away, "I should have seen how hung up you were elsewhere."
"You son of a bitch," Tony muttered, coming down the last few stairs to be level with Loki. "You don't understand anything, do you?"
"Don't..." His eyes narrowed, "Enlighten me then, Tony. Because from where I'm standing it looks like you fell into bed with the first tall, broad, blond you encountered."
"You think it was because he was blond?" Tony gaped at him. "Seriously?"
"Does it really matter? The point is that whether he was blond or brunet you still...You know what? Forget it. I can't do this."
"Loki," Tony tried again, actually reaching for him.
The other stepped back, avoiding the contact, "What? Do you honestly think there's anything you can possibly say to justify this?"
"No, there's not, I know there's not, but I," Tony shook his head. "I did a really stupid thing, I know, but—"
Loki took another step back, "I'm not ready to talk about this, Tony. I...I can't."
"Will you be able to?" Tony pressed.
"I don't know."
"Please, Loki," Tony said, voice soft.
The design student hesitated, but shook his head, "I don't know, Tony. I can't deal with this right now, and I don't know when or if I will be able to."
"But I," Tony started and snapped his mouth shut.
Loki bit his lip but shook his head, "I need to go. Maybe I'll see you later."
"Alright," Tony said, voice strained as he drew back. The other man hesitated, but shook his head one more time and left.
For a long moment Tony just stood there, still in only his pants. Finally he ran a hand through his hair and decided it wasn't safe to go back to his apartment in case Thor had figured out Tony'd just cheated on his little brother. Instead he turned his steps toward Pepper's apartment, wrapping his arms around himself for warmth.
Pepper had gone to bed early and so was asleep when the knock came at her door. Groaning, she got up and went to answer the door. She blinked for a long moment at Tony in her hallway before stepping aside, "What happened?"
"Please just tell me you have an extra shirt around here," Tony said. "Oh, and I really fucked up."
"I'm sure I've got an extra of yours here somewhere. Are you locked out or something? And what did you do?" She reached over and turned on the light in her living room before going and starting a pot of coffee.
"While I'm actually pretty sure I left my keys, you know as well as me that's what JARVIS is for. No, I'm currently hiding from the very large blond that's in my apartment who has probably put together the fact that I just cheated on his younger brother—with him."
Pepper froze at that before turning around to look at him, "You....oh Tony..."
"I said I fucked up, didn't I?" he said. "Um, shirt?"
She pointed toward her bedroom, "Bottom right drawer of my dresser. Should be on top. Let me guess, Loki's already found out?"
"Yes," Tony said. "He was coming to apologize."
"Apolo—Did...what's the outlook there? Is he even considering talking to you?" She could take a guess, but she wasn't sure she wanted to.
"He said he didn't know," Tony shook his head. "But he certainly stormed out. Funny way to meet his older brother," he added, hunching his shoulders.
Pepper slipped past him to fetch the shirt, "You two...haven't talked much about Thor, have you?"
"No," Tony said and paused. "Um, have you?"
"Not much, but enough to know why Loki Laufeyson and Thor Odinson are brothers. Most of its from the grapevine, but Loki confirmed it when asked." She tossed one of his older shirts to him from the bedroom door.
Tony blinked. "Um, those are different last times," he said, pulling the shirt on.
"They are, yes." Pepper moved over and poured a couple cups of coffee, "Loki was apparently Odinson as well until he turned 18 when he legally had his name changed back to his birth name."
"Birth," Tony sighed, rummaging in his pockets to see if he had any cigarettes. Pepper would kill him for smoking in her apartment, but she had a balcony. "He's adopted then? Shit."
She offered him one of the cups as she nodded, "Yeah. He's adopted. And you slept with the biological kid in the family. Which is a difference that from what I can tell matters a whole lot more to him than to the rest of his family. Give him time and maybe he'll talk to you again?"
He gave her a long look, hating the advice. "Can I sleep on your couch for the rest of tonight?"
Sighing, she nodded, "Yeah, you can sleep here tonight."
"Thanks, Pep," he said, not even being able to muster a smile.
"Try calling him in a couple days, Tony. Give him time."
"Good night, Pep," he added for good measure.
She finally took the hint, and nodded, "Night, Tony." With that she slipped into her bedroom, tossing a pillow and blanket out to him a minute later.
Catching them, he made a small cocoon on the couch, curling up with his knees to his chest.
Thor left Tony's apartment as soon as he'd gathered up all his clothes, which was harder when he was still half drunk, not being able to recover as quickly as Tony.
Reaching their apartment, he knocked on Loki's door. Loki was sitting on his bed, his knees drawn up to his chest and his forehead resting against them, "Go away, Thor."
"I wish to talk, brother," Thor said, voice subdued. "Even if it is only the assurance we will in the morning."
"I'm not going to want to talk any more then." He drew a deep breath and lifted his head to rest his chin on his knees and fix his gaze on the door, "Come in."
Hesitantly, Thor pushed the door open and leaned his head inside. "Brother..."
"If you're coming in, come in, but stop hiding behind the door," Loki's tone was sharp, but there was a small note of defeat underneath his words.
"Alright," Thor said, rubbing one hand over his forehead. Entering the room, he closed the door for no reason he could fathom. "I'm sorry," he said, shifting his feet.
"Yeah. So's he. A damned lot of good that does me."
"I didn't know," Thor said. "He might have but I didn't."
"Neither of you had met the other." Loki shook his head, "I...I don't know, Thor. It hurt so damn much."
The blond hesitated, before coming to sit on the far edge of the bed. "I don't understand why he was feeling so lonely," he murmured. "But I cannot excuse what he did to you. Or what I might have done to you."
His younger brother swallowed hard at that, "He was alone and lonely there because we had a fight and I left him at that party."
"It still doesn't make it right," Thor snapped.
"And what about you?" Loki returned sharply, "What could possibly have possessed you to do that?"
Thor waved his hands. "I'm not dating anyone. I have no lover. I may love someone but we are not together. There was too much to drink and he has such expressive eyes."
"Well, you'd best hope Jane doesn't find out. I certainly won't tell her, but I would guess that your justifications won't do you much good. As to dating me...we're..." He drew a shaky breath, "We never officially said anything about that."
"But," Thor frowned. "You were happy with him. And together for quite, well, maybe not quite some time but several weeks."
"A couple of weeks does not a relationship make, Thor."
"No, but," Thor frowned again.
Loki sighed, "But what?"
"It still does not seem right," Thor said after a pause. "What are you going to do?"
"There's not a lot I can do. Avoid him until he stops trying I suppose," the younger brother focused his gaze on the wall across from him.
"Will you be happy with that?"
Loki shrugged, "I'll adjust. I always do."
"That is hardly the same thing," Thor protested.
"No, Thor. I won't be happy with that, but I also know I won't be happy trying for a relationship with someone I don't trust."
"I am sorry," Thor said, voice soft.
Drawing a deep breath, his younger brother offered him a ghost of a smile, "I know. And maybe in the morning I'll be more able to accept that."
Thor leaned over, drawing him into a quick hug that he knew would only irritate the other. "In the morning then," he said, standing.
Loki curled further in on himself and nodded, "Close the door on your way out."
"Of course, brother," Thor murmured, shutting the door behind him.
The dark-haired man eventually shut off his light and tried to settle in for sleep, though he knew it would be a long time in coming if he ever did see it that night.
Chapter 10: Is there anyone else I would be trying this hard for?
It wasn't the next day, which Tony spent working on JARVIS' voice unit, but the one after that that Tony walked into his lab, spotted Jane sitting where she always sat and stopped dead for a long moment. Turning on his heel, he left just as abruptly as he'd walked in. Jane glanced up from the calculations she was working on and frowned in confusion, but shook her head and decided it was probably just Tony being Tony.
Fifteen minutes later he returned with a hazelnut mocha, and a bag full of every type of doughnut and candy bar he could find, dropping the entire array on her desk and moving quickly back into his own lab.
Jane blinked at that for a long moment before opening the bag. Her eyes widened and she dug out her phone, calling Pepper. It rang a couple of times before the other answered. Without so much as a 'hello' Jane started in, "Pepper, I think Tony's fattening me up for some ritual slaughter. What's going on?"
There was a long pause on the other end of the line, "What do you mean?"
"I mean I have a mocha—my favorite mocha I might add—and enough sugary delicacies to put me in a coma on my desk suddenly."
"...Oh. He's apparently apologizing for something."
"For what though?" Tony's lab assistant picked up the coffee and considered it warily.
The pause on the other end was longer than the last one, "I don't know. But whatever he thinks he's done wrong, accept the apology and feed the sugar to other people if you don't want it all."
"...Alright then, I'll do that. You don't even have a hint?"
"No. I gotta get to class, talk to you later, Jane."
"Yeah, bye, Pepper." She hung up and sat back still staring at the bag on her desk.
A minute later Tony poked his head cautiously around the door again. "Do you have the data from last week's tests?"
Jane offered him a long blink, but nodded, "Yeah, let me find it here." She dug through the data she had and finally came up with the right printout, offering it to him.
"Thanks," he said, taking it and moving to retreat again.
"Tony?" She stopped him.
"Yeah?" he asked, shoulders tensed.
"Everything alright?" She didn't really expect an honest answer, but the food had thrown her for a loop.
"Sure it is," he said, offering her a charming smile. "You just looked underappreciated was all."
She offered him a smile, but still looked moderately skeptical, "Well, thanks. You got all the right stuff here to make a girl feel appreciated."
"I try my hardest," he said, smile looking a bit more strained.
"Need anything else at the moment besides that data?"
"Just that, darling," he replied.
"Alright, well, I'll be out here if you need anything else."
"Thanks," he said, retreating.
Having locked himself in the lab for several days—because he was a coward and no one should have been surprised by that—Tony finally decided he needed to emerge into humanity again.
Showering, he napped before heading back toward campus, the drive for coffee overriding his other functions. Seeing Thor across the quad, Tony ducked into the nearest cafe, keeping one eye on the door as he ordered coffee.
Tony looked around, once he had the caffeine in hand, noticing a blond head above the crowd. Making his way over, he plopped the coffee down in front of Steve, following the cup.
Steve blinked at the coffee cup and then at Tony, "Hey. What brings you here?"
"Coffee," Tony grunted, taking a rather large gulp of it. "You?"
The blond motioned to the notebook he had open, "Homework."
"It's always homework on this campus," Tony sighed. "Did you ask Peggy out?"
"Yeah," Steve smiled at that. "She said yes."
"Told you she would," Tony said, grinning at him over the edge of his coffee cup.
"You sure did. I gotta thank you for giving me that push, don't think I woulda got around to it otherwise," he admitted sheepishly.
Tony snorted. "You're sortta silly, aren't you?"
That earned a rueful nod, "Yeah, you could say that I guess."
Tony stared at him a long moment. "Yeah, I really could. I've been all but hopelessly in love with you the last three years and the only person in the world not to notice was you."
Steve just blinked at him for a long moment, his mouth hanging open, "You...I...Tony, I..." He struggled to find the right response to that.
The shorter man gave him a long look and sighed. "No, it's fine. I mean, sortta."
"No, it's not really. I'm sorry I didn't...well, you probably know better than anyone how blind I am in that area, huh?"
"Yeah," Tony said, and swallowed. "I really don't know why I told you that now."
"Well, I guess things have changed a bit. I just gotta wonder why you didn't tell me sooner," Steve replied quietly.
Tony shrugged, working slowly away at his coffee. "Well, you were always you, this bright, sane spark. Besides, you as much as anyone should know how well I do with relationships."
The blond rolled a shoulder, "Sane sparks are needed around here. And I think you sell yourself short, frankly."
"No, I don't," Tony shook his head. "I know you were only on the outskirts when I was with Obadiah, but seriously. I am selling no one short here."
Steve frowned at that, "That was not something you can blame yourself for. Your problem is that since then you've self-sabotaged because you don't want it to happen again."
"See, this is why I never told you," Tony said, though he actually smiled as he tapped the cup. "I mean, I never wanted to self-sabotage you."
That earned him a bit of a smile, "Well, I thank you for the sentiment, but surely you've eventually got to end up in a relationship you don't do that to?"
Tony looked at him a long moment. "I just sabotaged my best shot at that."
"You...what? You up for explaining that?"
"Well," Tony considered the coffee in front of him intently. "There was someone. The reason I wasn't going to parties the last couple weeks? Was because I decided I'd rather stay in and eat pizza and cuddle on a couch. I mean, that's... pretty unusual. I never even tried something like that with—well, you know with who. But remember how I said everyone could see I was in love with you except you? He sortta... freaked."
The blond studied him for a moment, before shaking his head, "So, talk to him. Explain, apologize. It can't be that hard, can it?"
"Yeah, that all sounds great until I got myself very drunk and found a blond to sleep with."
Running a hand over his face, Steve sighed, "He found out?"
"Yes. I'm a horrible person, and the worst part is, the big blond was his brother. Adopted brother, I think."
"Oh, God, Tony." Shaking his head, the blond considered him again, "Even with all of that, there's got to be some way to apologize. You care about him right?"
"I do," Tony admitted, turning the cup around. "Which terrifies me."
"Does he care about you?"
"I don't know," Tony said, looking down. "It's one thing for me to stay in Friday night and sleep with someone for three whole weeks. I have no idea what that means to him."
"Who is it?" Steve finally asked.
Tony considered him a long moment. "Loki Laufeyson."
"You...I've only met the guy a couple times, but I don't think I've ever seen him date someone, or heard about him doing so either. So, you might see. Either way...try actually wooing him. Not seducing, wooing."
"So is that thing about the dating reassuring or not?" Tony asked. "And, um, wooing?"
"Means he probably actually cares." Steve considered how to explain that, "Well, to start with you need to apologize. No two ways about that. And then see if he's willing to start over, it won't be a clean slate by any means, but a second chance can't go amiss. And this time...make sure something beyond sex and cuddling is involved."
"There's more to it than that?" Tony asked. "Like, like what?"
"Dinner? Coffee? Talking?" The suggestions came in quick succession.
"We sortta did the coffee and talking thing. I figure pizza doesn't count as dinner?"
"It could, but not entirely. And did you talk about anything important, Tony?"
"You might try that too. But before any of that, you've got to manage to talk to him."
"Well, yeah," Tony sighed. "I sortta tried but then I locked myself into the lab for three days."
"Give it another try. And don't just retreat to your lab if it doesn’t work. It might not work the first time. Or second as the case may be."
"Right," Tony sighed. "Or the third or fourth."
"I wouldn't push too much too soon. But give it another try at least. And don't assume it's going to take four tries."
"Alright," Tony said, squaring his shoulders slightly. "So, your vote is to apologize, several times, and dinner?"
"To begin with, but yeah that would be my suggestion. Apologize repeatedly and once that's accepted see about dinner."
"I'm so glad you're seeing someone else," Tony laughed.
Steve grinned slightly, "Should I say thanks or ask what you mean by that?"
"You'd be far too tempting single now that I've confessed after three years," Tony said with a smirk.
"But in the end I'm not going to be the one who'd do best with you, I'll bet you anything," the blond responded with a smile.
Tony laughed. "You keep saying that."
"Well, that's ‘cause I think it's true. Peggy's my match, at this point. And I'll bet you Loki's yours."
"I hope so," Tony said, eyes straying around the cafe.
Steve glanced at his watch, "I gotta get going. Good luck, and you should be able to find me if you need any more advice, or just someone to talk to who isn't Pepper or Rhodey."
"Which is exactly why I'm talking to you," Tony laughed and froze quite suddenly, seeing a flash of dark hair. "See you later," he said, bolting. Steve watched him go before gathering his things and leaving.
Tony chased after the dark hair. "Loki! God, would you please slow down?"
The design student glanced at him, but didn't pause as he lied, "I've got a meeting I have to be at."
"This second? With who?"
"Some classmates. Not that it's your business."
"Come on," Tony said, catching his arm. "Please, just a minute."
Loki instinctively pulled away, "Fine. You have a minute."
Tony blinked. "I haven't seen you in a couple days here."
"You want longer than that, you're going to have to walk with me. What do you want?"
"I want to talk, and I can walk," Tony said. "I just want to talk. How have you been?"
"Fine. You?" Loki turned and started walking toward where he could at least claim he was supposed to meet the classmates that he'd made up on the spot.
"That's it?" Tony narrowed his eyes. "It's been days and fine? God, Loki."
"What do you want me to say, Tony? That I'm doing well? Sorry, that's not happening right now," the other snapped, finally looking at him again.
"I'd actually prefer you to not be doing well," Tony said after a moment. "But yes, I want to hear what you actually have to say."
"I'm surviving. Work's good and school goes on. Beyond that, it's not your business."
"Loki," Tony said, hand going to his arm again. "I'm sorry."
Force of will kept him from shying away, "Yeah? So am I, hell of a lot of good that does."
"Then what would do good?"
"Leaving me alone."
"No," Tony said, voice flat. "I will not. I—" he winced, nearly biting back his words before realizing that wasn't going to help. "I care too much."
Loki flinched at that, "You have a hell of a way of showing it."
"I'm showing you now," Tony declared.
"I can't do this, Tony. I...I have to go."
"No," Tony said again, desperate. "Please."
A brief pained look flickered over Loki's expression, "Tony, I can't. I don't think you get how much I can't."
Tony caught his other arm, pulling him around to fully face him. "Then explain it to me."
Loki yanked back as though he'd been burned, "I don't have the time or inclination right now. Back off."
"You don't get it, do you?" Tony said, shaking his head and stepping back. "I'm sorry."
"I know you are. So's Thor. It doesn’t mean I'm ready to forgive you at all."
"What can I do?" Tony asked, throwing his arms out.
"Today? Leave me alone. Beyond that, I don't know." Loki shook his head and turned to head toward the library.
Tony followed on his heels again. "I want to try. Please, just give me something."
"I haven't got anything to give you, Tony. I don't know what you can do."
"Then I'm not going to stop trying," Tony declared.
Loki glanced at him and sighed, "Whatever you say. Good day, Tony."
"Good day," Tony managed, watching him go.
Sif knocked on Loki's door, having finished a study session with Thor. Loki looked up from the sketches he was going over, "Who is it?"
"Sif," she said, rolling her eyes. "How paranoid are you about your own inside door?"
"Come in. Thor's been knocking once every three hours or so and if he apologizes one more time I may commit fratricide," Loki explained softly once she had opened the door.
"Oh," she said, a faint smile playing around the corners of her mouth. "You're right. Sometimes I forget who you live with."
He arched a brow at that, "Close the door behind you."
She shut it. "And how do you fare today?"
"Just fine," he lied smoothly.
"Loki," she said, giving him a long look. "You know you can't lie to me."
He dropped his gaze at that, "How do you think I'm doing, Sif?"
"Badly," she said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "But I'd still like to know more."
"Like what? Like the fact that someone I care for slept with my brother because we had a fight? The fact that I'm pretty sure I was his second choice to begin with? Or the fact that even while I know logically I should hate him, every time I see him I want to forgive him for it—knowing, mind you, that it could happen again with someone not Thor?"
She folded her hands in her lap and gave him a long look. "You want to forgive him?"
"I...maybe? I don't know. I don't know what to do, Sif. It hurts. Too much."
"Then what do you want to do?" she asked. "Because it's not been that long."
"I want to ignore it ‘til it goes away. I want it not to have happened. Neither is going to work."
"No, it's not," she agreed.
"What am I supposed to do, Sif? I can't just avoid them both forever. I think Thor would drive me mad before that worked."
"Well," she said after a moment. "That means you should probably deal with Thor first."
"I have to figure out how to forgive them don't I?" He looked more resigned than pleased by that idea.
"At least your brother," she agreed. "Stark? You don't have to. That all depends on if you want to."
"I...I don't know if I do or not. It's...I'm all confused and I hate it."
Sif sighed, reaching a hand out to pat his shoulder. "You'll make it. I know you always do."
He shied away slightly from the touch, "Thanks. I'll figure it out...and I'll do what I can to start forgiving Thor." Glancing toward the door, the young man smiled faintly, "I should probably at least make sure he's eating balanced meals..."
"Please," she said. "The last thing we need is Thor in crisis. Deal with Thor first, then worry about Stark, alright?"
Loki nodded, "Alright. I can do that." His green eyes moved to her, sincerity in his tone, "Thank you, Sif."
"Anything I can do," she said with a faint smile again.
"I'll talk to Thor, just have to finish this sketch first."
"Am I ever seeing that sketchbook?" she asked, teasing, fully expecting him not to answer any differently than he ever did.
Loki froze at that and shook his head, his gaze dropping to the book, "No."
Smiling, she patted his knee, standing. "I figured not."
He swallowed hard, but offered her a faint smile, "And yet you still ask."
"Habits die hard," she said with a graceful shrug.
"Maybe someday you'll get to see them."
"Hopefully," she said. "Or you'll have a great show one of these days."
Loki smiled mirthlessly at that, "Sure I will."
"Oh, I'm sure you will."
"Well, either way, I'll see you around, Sif."
"Good luck with your brother," she said, certainly not on the side of Tony Stark in the least.
"Thanks. Take care."
Slipping from the room, she nodded to Thor on the way out. "Be nice to your brother."
"That's what I have been doing!" Thor protested.
"Quieter then," she shook her head, shutting the door behind her.
Loki was at work just about a week after his conversation with Sif. In that time he'd been doing his best to go back to some semblance of living normally with his brother though he was still locking himself in his room more than he had before. He had also been trying to figure out exactly what to do with the gifts Tony kept sending him by way of apology. He'd attempted to get someone to return them for him, but they wouldn't and he couldn't bring himself to do it himself. He glanced up as one of his co-workers sidled up to him, "Customer just came in, he's all yours."
The design student sighed faintly, but put on a smile and went to greet the customer. Freezing when he saw who it was he silently swore vengeance on his co-workers who were well aware of just how little he wanted to deal with Tony Stark, "Mr. Stark. What brings you in today?"
"I need a tie," Tony said, crossing his arms over his chest. "And you've been avoiding me."
"What situation would you be wearing this tie for? And I have done no such thing," Loki responded, starting over toward the display of ties, already considering which ones would suit Tony and his taste the best so that he could get the other out of the store quickly.
"Just a tie," Tony shrugged, not really needing another one. "I just want to talk."
"I'm not interested in talking, Tony."
"Well, I am," Tony replied, trying to lean around Loki to meet his eyes.
Loki remained focused on the ties, finally locating one he thought would suit, "Will this one do?"
Tony blinked and scowled, wishing he could say no. "A red one instead," he declared, shaking his head. "Look, it's been days. Just let me talk to you again."
"About what? I don't see what we have to talk about." He went through their red ties, scowling when he didn't see one that truly fit Tony.
"There's everything to talk about," Tony protested, still following close on his heels any time he moved.
Loki drew a deep breath, "And I'm at work. I can't just stop and talk to you."
"Then dinner," Tony said. "This was the only place I could think of where you wouldn't run away instantly. Again."
The taller man just stared at him, "Dinner? Why would...I...." He swallowed hard, "I don't know if I can do that."
"Coffee, then," Tony said, one hand bracing on the tie display. "I just want to talk. We never actually did just that."
Loki hesitated, glancing at him, "We, no we didn't. I just..." Drawing a deep breath he gathered his thoughts again, "When?"
"When can you?" Tony returned, relaxing slightly.
"Wednesday afternoon." It would give him a few days yet to remind himself of what a bad idea this probably was.
Tony scowled at the time, but nodded. "Alright," he agreed, though it sounded like he really did not want to. "Wednesday. But first, I have one question for you," he added, moving around to pin Loki against the tie display, one hand on either side of his hips.
Loki tensed at that, his green eyes wide as he glanced around for an escape, "Yes?"
"Is there anyone else I would be trying this hard for?" Tony asked, voice low. "Loki, I'm Tony Stark. I can have anyone I want, including people who try to push me off tables. You might want to seriously consider the fact I'm even trying to make this up to you, let alone the pizza on the couch or the lab or anything else that's happened. I don't do goddamn love confessions, what more do you want from me?" He paused, taking a deep breath. "I screwed up, I know. I'm even sorry. So just..." he stepped back, pushing his hair out of his face. "Please, let me try again."
The other's gaze darted to his face, seeking out further clues to his words, "I...We'll talk. I just...I have time Monday rather than Wednesday. Coffee then?"
"Coffee then," Tony agreed, unable to fight back a grin.
The corner of Loki's mouth twitched upward as he finally located a red tie and offered it to the other, "I'll see you then."
Tony glanced down at the tie and smiled. "You have good tastes," he said faintly.
"I just have some guess at what you like," Loki answered quietly.
Tony's smile turned a shade sadder. "That's true."
"I...should get back to what I was working on. I'll see you Monday for coffee."
"Alright," Tony said, taking the tie and turning.
Loki watched him go before returning to work for the rest of the day. Now to figure out what the hell he was doing.
Chapter 11: You Can't Live Life by Algorithms
Tony arrived for coffee early. Which was a strange event in and of itself, but he figured he really needed to set the stage for doing things right.
Loki arrived a few minutes later, having argued with himself about it right up until he finally stepped into the cafe. His gaze swept around the shop and he wove his way over to where Tony was seated, "Hello."
"Hey," Tony said, glancing at him over his sunglasses, before remembering that he'd put them on and carefully taking the shades off and setting them to the side.
Settling into the chair across from Tony, the design student wet his lips, "Well...how are you doing?"
Tony rolled his shoulder. "There have been better times. You?"
"As you say, there have been better times."
"Been some worse times too," Tony shrugged, turning the cup around on the table, focusing as much on that movement.
Loki dropped his gaze to the table and drew a deep breath, "Was there anything you actually wanted to talk about?"
"Yes," Tony said, watching him. "You. Me. Us. What happened."
He traced a finger over the table as he sighed, "I'm not sure where we should even start there. Or if we should."
"Where else would you start then?" Tony asked.
"I don't know. This...isn't something I expected to have to deal with, and I'm confused by it and I don't like that feeling."
"Then start with what's so confusing."
Loki finally glanced up at him briefly, "I want to hate you. I should. But I can't seem to. I should be righteously furious at you, but all I feel is hurt and tired."
Tony's eyebrows twitched together. "We weren't in a relationship. You had never sat down and said you wanted whatever we were doing to be exclusive."
"Yeah, a lot of good those justifications have done. I've been telling myself that since it happened, and it hasn't changed a thing." He finally looked up, meeting Tony's eyes, "I have to know, honestly, if I've ever been something you settled for because I was there."
"No," Tony said, shaking his head. "You weren't ever something I settled on or came at second best."
"Really?" Loki looked skeptical, "So the fact that you're obviously pining after Steve Rogers while in a...something...with someone else doesn’t mean you're not settling?"
For a moment Tony considered informing Loki that he had no idea what he was talking about and bit it back, taking a long moment to order his thoughts. "Steve is... Steve is complicated. I can explain but it takes time. Frankly though," he said, eyebrows twitching together. "I am somewhat insulted that you think I can't love two people at the same time. That my heart is so tiny as that."
Loki drew a deep breath, "I...I just, I can't help the doubts I have, Tony. I'm sure you're able to love more than one person at a time, and that may be what scares me so."
Tony tapped one finger against the table a couple times. "Let me put it to you this way then. That conversation you saw but clearly didn't over hear? I was trying to convince him to buck up and ask the girl of his dreams out already."
The other's eyes widened slightly at that, "You....seriously?"
"Seriously," Tony nodded. "They're dating now, by the way, and are sickeningly cute. I should never have encouraged it. I think I'll be made godfather at this rate. Which would be... a mistake, and I don't think Peggy likes me," he shook his head. "The point being, Steve Rogers is out of that equation and frankly, if I had ever been willing to try a relationship with him, it would have been years ago."
Loki studied him quietly for a long moment, "Why wouldn't it have been recently?"
"Because I'm not good at waiting, and three years is a long time to wait for anything," Tony said. "Besides, I haven't been inclined to try for any sort of a relationship recently."
He considered the smaller man for a long moment, "Why? And if you weren't inclined to try for a relationship then why sleep with me for three weeks?"
"You missed this, but my last relationship was the talk of a campus for a while," Tony said, carefully keeping his face neutral. "So I never really wanted one again. The fact that I was, am, willing to try for you when I never did for Steve? You might want to really reconsider the 'being taken for second' stance again."
There was a long pause as Loki tried to sort out exactly how to respond to that, "I...I can't go through this again, Tony." He hesitated, "If-if we try this. It has to be exclusive."
"Just so you know, and I know," Tony said after considering him a long moment. "You do know exactly what you're asking me, right?"
"I believe I do. But do clarify, if you think you need to."
Tony paused. "It means an actual relationship. I mean, sure, we've had more than a little sex in the past but..."
Loki fixed him with a long look, "Tony, I'm not saying any of this is going to be easy. Hell, it's probably going to be one of the hardest things we do, but I want that. I'll admit part of the problem this past week and a half was that you slept with my brother, but a large part was knowing you'd chosen someone else." He shook his head, "If you don't think we can pull off an actual relationship, then we get up, we go our separate ways and we try to build a friendship. If, on the other hand, we both want to do this, we try our damndest to make it work."
Tony stared at him a moment. "Just so we're clear," he managed. "You terrify me."
The other's gaze dropped to the table again, "Good to know."
Tony laughed, not entirely sure why. "That might also be one of the highest compliments I could give you."
That earned a blink as Loki looked back up at him, "It...you have some of the strangest compliments."
"I do," Tony agreed, nodding. "Because the thought of being with someone scares me. The fear I'd fuck up again—because I'm really very good at that—and even the fact I want to try for you is terrifying. But I do. That's a yes."
"You...really?" The other smiled faintly, relief mixing with his uncertainty.
The corner of Tony's mouth twitched. "I don't think you realize how good I am at screwing things up but yes."
"Well, you can only screw my brother once, and if we can work through that, I think we'll be alright."
Tony finally pulled off a real smile. "Right. Well, when you put it in that light..."
Loki offered him a crooked grin, though there was still something hesitant about it.
"So, we," Tony started, unable to figure out words like he usually could.
"We're truly going to try this?" Loki asked cautiously.
"Yeah," Tony said, glancing down at his long since cold coffee. "Yeah I want to."
"Then I suppose first things first is me making sure Thor and Sif are aware you're off-limits, though Thor's still guilty enough that I may just have to call Sif off."
Tony blinked. "Um, yes. Good."
"And we'll figure it out as we go?"
"I guess so. Dinner?" Tony offered.
Loki offered him a half smile and nodded, "Dinner sounds good."
"Do you still have that suit?" Tony asked, the ghost of a smirk on his face.
"Only if you wear that red tie," the other answered, mischief glimmering in his eyes.
Eyes widening, Tony grinned. "I believe it can make an appearance."
"When and where?"
"How about I deal with the where and we just worry about the when?"
Loki's brow arched, but he nodded. "Well, I still have Wednesday evening."
"Wednesday evening then," Tony said with a grin. "I can pick you up, barring your brother or his friends trying to lay out an ambush."
"I'll make sure they don't," Loki offered him a smile. "I will warn you that you're likely to get a couple of talks about hurting me again, but beyond that I'll see what I can do."
Tony managed to not even make a face. "I'd deserve them."
"Still, I'll try to talk to them before that comes up."
Tony gave him a close lipped smile, considering for a moment before standing.
Loki hesitated, looking up at him, "I...."
"Can I?" Tony asked, softly. "If we're going to try this again."
The other's eyes darted over his features, but he nodded, "Yes."
Leaning down, Tony kissed him, trying to keep it soft and quick, only getting distracted along the way. Loki's hand moved to cup Tony's cheek as he pressed up into the kiss. His touch was gentle, almost hesitant, but quick was hardly an apt description.
Finally, Tony drew back with a smirk, eyes looking a little distant. "I'll see you Wednesday."
Grinning faintly, the other nodded, "See you Wednesday."
Hand trailing over Loki's hair, Tony smiled at him again before turning, tossing the cold coffee in the trash on his way out.
Later that same day, Pepper entered the library and paused when she spotted Sif. Hesitating for another moment she made her way over, stopping with her hand on the empty chair next to the other woman, "Is this seat open?"
"It is, but if you're here on behalf of Tony Stark, it is not," Sif said, not looking up from the book she was pouring over, high ponytail of dark hair draped over one shoulder.
The redhead wasn't about to be deterred, she sat down in the chair and set her bag down next to it, "You're really not one to give someone the benefit of the doubt are you."
"It's generally safer not to," she said with a shrug, eyes finally flickering up.
"What a way to live..."
That got Sif's attention. "Excuse me?" she asked, marking her place in the book with a pencil and finally tilting her entire face up.
"Always distrustful," Pepper responded, shaking her head. "Tony made a mistake. A big one. I just want to know where you're going to come down when he manages to fully apologize and start making amends."
"So you are here on behalf of one Tony Stark," Sif said with a scowl.
"Well someone has to be."
"Why come to me then?" Sif asked, flicking her ponytail off her shoulder to lay along her back.
Pepper tucked a lock of her red hair behind her ear, "I want to know what sort of damage control I'm going to have to run if Loki accepts Tony's multiple apologies."
"I'm damage control?" Sif asked, eyebrows shooting up. "Shouldn't you be talking to Thor?"
"I probably will end up talking to him, but I saw you first."
"So what exactly do you want to know?" Sif demanded. "That I'll, what, back Stark's bids for forgiveness?"
She shook her head, "I want to know that you're not going to block them."
"You seem to think I have a lot of influence on Loki then," Sif shrugged.
"I don't know if you do or not. I just know how much hell I'd give someone for hurting Tony."
Sif considered her a moment, as if in a new light. "And has anyone ever hurt Stark in such a manner?"
"Do you think I'm so protective without a root cause?"
"So, what would you have done then, if whoever hurt Stark came sniffing back around asking for forgiveness?" Sif asked.
Pepper's jaw tensed, "A restraining order for a start, and probably castrate him for a second. But there are a few crucial differences in what happened then and what's going on between Tony and Loki."
"Really now?" Sif drawled. "Enough that I very well shouldn't try to castrate Stark?"
"Tony's at least always been honest about who and what he is."
Sif snorted. "Yes, the entire world knows who and what he is. That isn't helping."
"I'm going to sound really callous, but I'm going to say it. Loki will recover. It'll take him time, probably quite a lot of time, but he will recover. Three years later and Tony still self-sabotages to avoid anything resembling a relationship. He is absolutely terrified of the thought. And he cares more about Loki than I've seen him care about anyone," Pepper's tone was brisk and to the point.
Sif just quirked an eyebrow. "So, you're trying to tell me that Stark, what, sabotaged what he had with my friend because he was a scared little boy?"
Drawing a deep breath to calm herself a bit, the redhead nodded slightly, "More blunt than I'd like to put it, but basically. Tony went through hell three years ago and the fact that he's even trying to apologize says a lot for what he thinks of Loki."
"He has a very odd way of showing affection then."
Pepper's eyes narrowed, "It takes two to tango, dearie. He wasn't alone in that bed."
Sif gave her a very long look. "Don't call me that. Secondly, I don't see Loki falling into another bed."
"Think what you will, if Tony didn’t care he wouldn’t be trying so damn hard to apologize."
"I'll keep that under advisement," Sif drawled.
Pepper's jaw tensed slightly and she rose, "Fine. Let Loki know I wish him well if you see him."
"Good luck with Stark," Sif returned, already turning her eyes back to the book.
Tony shifted again, wondering if he shouldn't have brought flowers before rapping the back of his knuckles against the apartment door.
Loki exited his room, yanking on his suit coat as he went and passing Sif and Thor where they were in the living room, "Don't get up or anything." He reached the door, answering it with a slightly uncertain smile, "Hey."
"Did you want us to get up?" Sif called from where Thor and she were watching the football game.
"Hey," Tony said with a faint smile.
Glancing over his shoulder to where Sif and Thor were, he hesitated, "I'm just about ready to go. You can take your chances in here or wait where you are."
"I'm good out here," Tony said, a little too quickly as the TV hit a commercial break, Sif and Thor both turning to look at him. "Or the car even. Can I retreat to the car?"
Loki hesitated and then nodded, "Yeah. I'll be down in a few minutes."
"Great," Tony said as Sif stood, meeting him at the door.
"Or you could stay," she said, an almost dark smile on her face.
"Be nice, Sif," Loki murmured.
"I'll be perfectly charming," she replied. "Go finish getting dressed."
She rolled her eyes as Thor joined her. "I promise he'll be intact."
"Emotionally too, right?" Tony quipped. Loki eyed his brother and Sif warily, but slipped into his room to finish getting ready, leaving the door ajar.
Both Sif and Thor stared Tony down, who just blinked at them for a moment of silence. "So, should I have, like, brought flowers for the both of you too?" he asked, eyes darting to Thor who frankly looked deeply uncomfortable to be seeing him again.
"No," Thor rumbled. "God, no."
"Do I even need to give you the speech?" Sif asked, tilting her head to one side.
"Um, no," Tony shook his head. "Please, please don't. I'm sure I can fill in any threats more imaginatively then you could say them."
"Good," Sif nodded. "Then just be aware the threats are there."
"Check," Tony nodded and Thor considered him another long moment.
"What happened—" Thor started and Tony cut him off.
"No, don't. I'm not thinking about it, we can avoid each other as much as humanly possible or we could even attempt a friendly sort of sharing each other's space again sometime. Honestly, I'm as uncomfortable as you are to see you again so just don't."
"I'm not sure I ever trust you to be honest," Thor said after a moment and Tony winced.
Loki emerged again moments later, straightening his dark green tie, "Thor, Sif. Lay off. We're going to try and make this work and I would appreciate you not making this harder."
"They're being surprisingly gentle, this being my first time and all," Tony shrugged as Thor shifted uncomfortably again.
The other looked skeptical at that, but nodded, "Well, shall we?"
"Please," Tony said, sliding an arm around Loki's hips and only realizing that might be moving a little too fast at Sif's half scandalized and angry look. Loki placed a hand over Tony's on his hip, offering Sif a look before starting out the door.
Sif shook her head as she watched them leave. "This is a bad idea."
"It is his to make," Thor shrugged. "Just... remind me never to sleep with a stranger again." Sif laughed, assuring him she would make sure he remembered that.
Tony turned the delicately stemmed glass a couple times under the light, considering the sparkling champagne. "We're completely useless at small talk, aren't we?" he asked, after twenty minutes and once the salads were mostly cleared away.
Loki smiled faintly, "I've always found it dull and inane, frankly. Small talk I mean."
"So do I," Tony laughed, shaking his head. "It's an equation I could never figure out, how much smiles it needs, or "good" or inane questions. But I mean, we really suck at it."
"Well, we might have to see about finding something else to talk about, or the rest of the meal is going to be frightfully dull."
"The food will be excellent," Tony pointed out.
Loki laughed quietly, "This is true, but we should still see if there's anything to be talked about."
Tony grinned. "Well, I can't really talk in public about how much I like your suit, so there goes that topic too."
"Well, yours looks rather dashing. Did you ever find a voice clip for JARVIS?"
"Yeah," Tony grinned. "I now have my very own British butler."
"Oh that's perfect. I can't wait to hear how he sounds."
Tony's jaw worked for a moment, wanting desperately to tell Loki to come back with him that night and barely keeping the words restrained. "I'm sure you will."
Loki offered him a faint smile, unwilling to invite himself back, "I certainly hope so. Is he still as opinionated about the salt?"
Tony rolled his eyes. "You give an intelligent machine cooking information..."
"And suddenly it's an expert."
"He sure thinks he is," Tony said, sighing. "So yes. He's still very opinionated about the proper amount of salt used in any dish. Please, for the love of god, never start him on thyme or cream either. My coffee will not be able to take the second one again."
Loki laughed, "I'm certain it makes sense in his algorithms."
"You can't live life by algorithms," Tony said, something flaring behind his eyes quite suddenly.
"No. You can't," his gaze flickered over the other but filed his question away for somewhere private.
"There's not really an equation for love," Tony continued, looking down at the glass again. "Or for hurt or joy or any of those things. It just... doesn't work."
"That's why humans feel, there has to be something to catch that part that's not able to fit neatly in logic," Loki murmured.
Tony offered him a grin, a shadow of his usual expression. "Life would be easier if it was an equation."
"It would, but nothing worth having is ever easy. I just can't imagine paring things down to mathematics," he responded softly.
Tony looked at him a long moment before laughing. "You know my life is paring things down to mathematics right? The glow of the sun, the source of energy? But, emotions and shit? It really doesn't work. I think the day it does will not be the brightest day."
Loki grinned, "Oh I know, but if you can pare everything down, suddenly everything becomes too simple."
"I like simple," Tony muttered darkly and grinned. "I wouldn't even want to see the equation of us."
Loki smirked, "I think it might even surpass your abilities to decipher."
"It'd be a mess, but probably a very glorious one," Tony said with a grin as the waiter deposited more food in front of them.
"Oh quite probably," Loki murmured his thanks to the waiter as the man departed.
Tony considered him over his very expensive fish, invitation bubbling up in his throat again. "Any plans after dinner?"
That garnered a faint smile, if a bit uncertain, "Not yet."
Tony's finger circled the flute again. "Do you want to make any?"
Loki considered him before nodding, "I certainly wouldn't be averse to it."
"I mean, I'm sure there's somewhere else, more exciting we could go to or—" he fumbled again.
"Or, I could let my brother know not to wait up and come back to your place."
"Yeah," Tony said, voice dropping like a stone. "You could do that too."
Loki couldn't help but smile faintly, shaking his head, "We really don’t know the meaning of slow do we?"
"No," Tony agreed, grin showing off all his teeth.
"Well, as long as we're aware of that."
Tony laughed again. "Well aware. So very aware."
Tony was even more aware of how much he hated to wait the moment he started taking the stairs to his apartment, aware of Loki at his back in a way he hadn't been since the night of the tango.
Shoving the door open, he hit the panel by the wall to silence JARVIS for the time being, crowding Loki back against it the moment it was closed. "Can I—?"
The only response he got was Loki leaning down to press a desperate kiss against his lips. Groaning deep in his throat, Tony shoved Loki harder against the door, tilting his head. Loki's arm moved to wrap around Tony's waist and he pulled the smaller man flush against him, his free hand moving to tangle in the other's hair.
"Missed you," Tony managed, hand tangling in Loki's tie. "And fuck, remind me to get you into a suit more often."
The taller man nipped at his lips as he responded, "Missed you too. I guess you'll just have to take me places where I need the suit more often then."
"I intend to," Tony gasped, rolling their hips together and smirking. He pulled on the tie, claiming another kiss.
Loki moaned against the kiss, his hand moving down to grip Tony's hip, "Bed?"
"Oh, do talk sense more often," Tony said, nuzzling against his neck before finally stepping back.
"And here I thought I did that frequently," the other murmured, keeping an arm around Tony's waist.
"Say it when I'll listen," Tony shrugged, pulling him with him as he walked backwards, moving like he did when dancing.
Loki smirked as he spun the other around on their way through the bedroom door, reversing their positions and pulling Tony on top of him as he fell back onto the bed. Straddling his waist, Tony leaned back, looking at him a long moment, tie still held loosely in one hand.
Loki smirked up at him, one hand moving to rest against the other's hip, "Everything alright up there?"
"Better then," Tony smirked. "Just, god you’re gorgeous."
"You're not so bad yourself. Though you're still wearing too many clothes."
"Oh, well, that I can change," Tony laughed, shimmying out of the suit jacket before pulling off the red tie and unbuttoning his shirt, making a show of it.
Loki's smirk turned toward a slight leer even as he twisted under the other to shrug out of his own suit coat, "You, Tony, are exquisite."
Tony's hand reflexively twitched on his chest, where there was a tiny scar before smiling. "If you say so," was all he managed before pressing Loki back down into the bed with a harsh kiss, working a hand between them to work on Loki's buttons. Loki's gaze drifted to the scar, but he was quickly distracted by the weight of the other even as he pressed hungrily into the kiss.
Chapter 12: I Move Ever Onward
A while later Tony curled up on his side, hand resting over Loki's heartbeat. "We only get to fight again if we can have such amazing make up sex afterward."
"I think we could probably arrange sex like this without the fight preceding it," Loki responded, his smile languid.
"I don't know," Tony laughed. "Keeping all that passion up all the time? Exhausting probably."
"Well, it doesn't have to be like this all the time, but a fight probably would be more trouble than it was worth."
"True," Tony said, licking at the shell of Loki's ear. "Let's not fight. Let's just have so much sex we're too tired to fight."
Loki shuddered at that, "I think that could be arranged. Though there should be pauses to talk too..."
"Right," Tony murmured, voice lazy. "Talking. Should we talk?"
"Well, I have questions, but you're probably not going to want to answer them."
"Might as well ask anyway," Tony said, mind in a happy daze.
Loki traced a hand over the other's chest, pausing over the scar momentarily, "Why do you panic when I turn you onto your back?"
Tony's hand actually jerked around to slip between Loki's hand and his chest. "Too vulnerable."
"Who did this to you?"
"A boy fully approved of by my father," Tony said, rolling his shoulders. "It didn't end well."
Loki's expression darkened, "He's the cause behind your fear of being on your back, too, isn't he?"
Tony nodded but shrugged the next moment. "The scars are old. They don't matter anymore."
"Old scars matter just as much as new ones," Loki murmured, running a gentle hand through Tony's hair.
"The past is the past," he replied. "And I move ever onward."
Loki considered that and finally nodded, "Alright. Ever onward then."
Tony considered him for a long moment. "It's just... I don't talk about it. I wouldn't know where to start."
"Sometime's the beginning's the best place. You have to lay the ghost to rest some day. It doesn’t have to be today, but someday."
"Right," Tony said, not looking at all like he actually believed him for a long moment. "I'll keep that in mind. Any ghosts of your own you need to bury?"
"Not of past relationships." He shook his head slightly, "Mostly it’s things you probably already know or have found out."
"Probably, but," Tony shrugged. "If there's anything you feel like actually saying. We could have a whole, I don't know, confession time or something."
That earned a faint, mirthless laugh, "Yes because I can completely see us doing that."
Tony slung a leg over Loki, drawing him closer. "Sure, why not?"
"You're serious?" Loki's brow arched, even as one of his hands moved to rest comfortably on Tony's hip.
"If you are," Tony said, tilting his head back and burying it in Loki's neck instead.
The taller man drew a steadying breath before nodding, "I think so."
Tony traced a hand in small circles on Loki's hip.
"God, where to start? Do you have any idea what it's like to grow up completely in someone's shadow? Only they don't realize they're casting it, and so you can't actually hate them for it." He sighed, trying to word it right, "I've...well, always come second I guess is the best way to put it. Second child, second place, second strongest, second friend—and when I did end up with a friend first they usually attached themselves to Thor right quick. Everywhere but in certain academics and mother's eyes. Though that was mostly because Mother is incapable of playing favorites in the same way as other people."
Tony blinked at him, and winced visibly. "So, you really didn't want to come second to a certain blond, did you? Then I just hit the other worst person possible, huh?"
Loki smiled faintly, "Something like that, yes." He lay back against the pillows, his hand curling around Tony's waist, "I was fourteen when I found out that I wasn't Odin's son, and things started to feel like they actually made sense when it came to favoritism. I mean, technically I'm not Frigga's son either, but it's different with Mother. The first and only time I pulled that line out, the look she gave me and the conversation we had made certain I never did so again.
"And then I chose fashion design rather than any number of other things that might have made Odin proud, and only managed to land partial scholarships so I get to work in a suit store while Thor landed a full-ride. I'm not saying he didn't deserve it and that perhaps I sound rather petty, but it still chafes."
Tony leaned over, kissing his chest lightly. "Well, your job at least is tasteful."
That earned another faint smile, "And in the fashion industry, bottom rung though it may be. Oh, and as a side note, unrelated to my issues, if Fandral starts in on you it's because we sort of attempted dating a couple of years ago and I decided that it wouldn't work long term."
"Good to know," Tony drawled. "That was the blond you yelled at that one day, right?"
"Yeah, that was him." He rolled his eyes, "He's...rather a dandy. He can be nice enough sometimes, but there was no world in which I could see us being suited."
Tony laughed. "Good to keep in mind. I'll try not to be a dandy."
"You might be able to get away with it, but I think you spend too much time working with machines and ending up with engine grease in your hair for that to happen," Loki grinned at him.
Tony laughed. "You're right. I get way too messy."
"Endearing?" Tony's brows shot up.
"Well, when you actually eat. I like seeing how focused you get, and that state of disarray evidences it."
Tony ran a hand through his hair and smirked. "You mean like my current disarray, and how focused I get on you?"
Loki returned the smirk, "Exactly."
Hesitating, Tony reached a hand out to bury his fingers in Loki's hair. "Well, um, you remember that guy? That I mentioned earlier? I'm not good at starting at the beginning. But he shoved me out a third story window and I finally changed the locks. That's basically what happened."
The taller man blinked for a long moment as he processed that, his jaw tightening as the words sank in, "He pushed you out a third....What..." He drew a deep breath, something dangerous lighting his eyes, "What happened to him?"
Tony shrugged. "I didn't die. I wasn't even all that injured. There was a conveniently placed pool, I think it was. It doesn't matter what happened to him."
"He pushed you out a third story window, Tony. Why the hell?"
Tony propped himself up, shaking his head. "I don't remember anymore. I said no about something. Look, it just," he shook his head again. "I don't want to be vulnerable like that again. It's why I don't trust people."
Loki moved with him, resting a hand gently on his cheek and murmuring, "It's why I terrify you." He met the other’s gaze, "I know they're just words until I prove them, but I give you my word, my oath, that I will do everything in my power to keep you from getting hurt. By me especially, but by others as well."
"Well," Tony said past a suddenly dry throat. "They're very nice words."
"And I mean each and every one of them."
Swallowing, Tony leaned back down, slamming their mouths together and clinging. Loki leaned into the kiss, his arms moving to wrap around the smaller man, protectively.
Tony woke up slowly, which was unusual when he had someone else in his bed. Propping himself up he considered Loki for a long minute, bringing a hand up to thread it through the other's dark hair.
Loki tilted his head into the touch as he blinked himself gradually awake, "Hm? Oh, morning..."
Leaning down, Tony pressed their mouths together lightly, nuzzling almost more than kissing. "Morning."
Running a hand over Tony's hair, Loki smiled faintly against his lips, "Sleep well?"
"You could say that," Tony murmured, smoothing his mouth over Loki's cheekbone.
"Good to hear," Loki replied softly, his eyes drifting shut as he focused on the contact.
Tony smirked. "So, breakfast?"
"Hm? Oh, yes. Breakfast. That’s probably rather a good i—What time is it?"
"Um," Tony shuffled around. "Ten thirty."
Loki breathed a soft sigh of relief, "Then I've got an hour. Breakfast is probably a good idea."
"Good," Tony said, tilting his head down for another kiss. Pressing up into the kiss, the taller man smirked. "One of these mornings, you cook," Tony said, batting his hip as he slipped out of the bed. "Also, did you ever call your brother?"
Loki started to form an agreement to the first comment when he processed the question, "Oh, hell. No, I forgot."
Laughing, the sound low in his chest, Tony fished out a pair of jeans and went to the kitchen, whistling.
Loki took a moment before getting up and finding his slacks. Pulling them on he fished his phone out of his jacket pocket and texted his brother to let him know he'd see him after classes that afternoon.
-Youre at starks arent you- he got in return from his brother, the text message sounding slightly put out but not surprised.
-Good luck brother and be careful- Thor sent back.
-I will Thor. Have a good day.- He set his phone down and slipped out of the room to join Tony.
The shorter man was still whistling as he worked on breakfast, JARVIS helpfully adding things as Tony went, his voice having been turned back on after last night. "Sir, I really don't think—"
"Shush," Tony said, waving a hand at the panel.
Loki's brow arched, "Is that JARVIS then?"
"That is JARVIS. AI, meet Loki. Loki, my mechanical butler."
"Charmed, I'm sure," the wall panel drawled.
"A pleasure to meet you, JARVIS." He moved over to wrap an arm around Tony's waist, "Arguing about the salt again?"
"Basil, this morning," Tony said, arching his back against Loki and humming.
He nipped at Tony's ear as he smirked, "I see. Too much or too little?"
"Too much," Tony rolled his eyes.
"Basil is not supposed to smoother the food, sir," JARVIS replied.
"How much did you put in?"
"That is not relevant, the taste is," Tony protested and if possible the wall panel would have rolled its eyes.
Loki laughed, "Alright, you have a point there."
"I have lots of points," Tony said, turning and dragging Loki into a kiss.
"Sir, it's going to burn," JARVIS said when Tony didn't show any signs of drawing back.
The other man chuckled, "That you might want to deal with. Unless this is a ploy to get me to make breakfast today."
Tony laughed, shaking his head. "No, no,” he said, drawing back and turning the oven off, considering it. "Yeah, it'll do. Come on, eat."
"It smells delicious."
"Let's only hope it is," Tony laughed, handing him a plate.
Loki smiled as he settled at the table, "Oh I'm sure it is."
Tony leaned over to kiss him again before sitting down across the table, flicking through the morning's reports while eating, darting quick glances at Loki and smiling every few seconds.
The taller man, turned most of his attention to his food, though he was utilizing his normal practice of picking at it more than eating it. He met Tony's eyes a couple of times a smile playing about his lips. God, he'd missed this.
"You never eat much, do you?"
"What? Oh, no I don't really. Never have."
"Should fatten you up," Tony teased.
Loki smirked, "You're welcome to try. Mother's been at it for years and still hasn't succeeded."
"I can be more persuasive," Tony shrugged.
"Do you intend to bribe me to eat then?" Loki's brow arched.
"I'm sure I could think of something to use."
The grin he offered in response was teasing, "Oh I'm sure we both could."
"What would you bribe me for?" Tony asked, titling his head.
"At the moment there's not much. Though some weeks it might have to do with how much time you're spending locked away in the lab."
Tony laughed. "I'll work on that. But if it's in the name of science there isn't much I can do."
Loki smirked at that, "And I would hardly ask you to abandon it in that case. Entice you for a few minutes break, perhaps, but drag you away? Hardly."
"I can do breaks," Tony smirked.
"Good, then I shall have to see to it that you take them."
The shorter man just laughed again, standing and dumping his plate into the sink. "Speaking of which, I believe there is science calling my name right now."
Loki rose, setting his plate in the sink as well, "And I have a class to attend."
Tony wrapped an arm around his waist, leaning in for a languid kiss before pulling back. "We'll never go slow, will we?"
Smiling faintly, Loki shook his head, "No. I don't think we will. But I'm not certain I mind that."
"Good," Tony said, grinning and holding him closer for a moment before moving back into the bedroom to actually dress and shave. Loki watched him go before following to retrieve the rest of his clothes and see about making himself presentable enough for class.
Walking into the lab, three or so weeks after he got Loki back into his bed, Tony stopped dead when Jane glared at him. "Um. So, are you and Thor finally dating now?"
She frowned, "Yes. We are. And I suddenly understand the bag of donuts too."
"He's the type that believes confessions are good for the soul, isn't he?" Tony managed, taking half a step back.
Jane nodded, "Yes. He's very honest when he's guilty and he can't lie worth a damn, unlike some people who I won't name."
"I can take a guess at them," Tony said, making a face. "You weren't dating at the time."
"That's beside the point. You were, and we could have been if one of us had just asked."
"But you weren't then," Tony protested. "And, um, I didn't even catch his name, before. I had no idea."
Her eyes widened slightly, "You didn't even get his name?"
"If I did, there was way too much alcohol," Tony said. "Um, so no. No, I didn't."
"I have every right to be mad at you, I hope you realize."
He sputtered a moment. "You do?"
"Not as much as some, but yes. But I'm going to have to forgive you, too, because of the abject apology before I knew what you were apologizing for."
He smiled faintly, still looking on edge.
"But you owe me at least one more mocha," Jane remarked, locating the data from the last round of tests and holding it out to him. "And probably a vow to stay away from my boyfriend when not accompanied by your own or me."
"Check," Tony said, nodding. "I don't really want to be left alone with him anyway. I'll go get that mocha now, shall I?"
"Yeah, and when you get back the test results'll be on your lab table."
"Great, I need those," Tony nodded, already stepping backward toward the door. Jane watched him go before entering his lab and putting the results down next to his workspace.
Tony trailed a hand along Loki's back, leaning against the wall. "I still can't believe you managed to find the one place that holds monthly tango dances."
His lover smirked, "Of course I managed it. I enjoy the dance, and with you here it's even better."
Tony grinned, pressing closer to his side. "When you put it like that."
Loki offered a hand to him, "Shall we see if we can scandalize those present?"
Tony laughed. "Didn't we do that five minutes ago?"
The other's grin turned mischievous, "And you're saying we can't do it twice before leaving?"
"Oh god no," Tony laughed, already whirling him out onto the floor. "I think a few new people came in."
Loki's laugh was sharp and his eyes alight with the simple pleasure of the dance as he let Tony lead him through the steps. Pressing closer to him, Tony led the dance, not even having to adjust for the height difference anymore, completely in control of each motion.
As the dance drew to a close, Loki leaned in to murmur, "Do we want to stay for one more scandalous dance or shall we slip away?" It may have presented an option, but a glimmer in his eyes indicated he was far more inclined for the second choice.
"I sortta want everyone to know exactly where I'm taking you," Tony smirked. "If they don't already."
"Well, that's an easy thing to do." The music came to a close and Loki drew him even closer before leaning down and kissing him, hard.
Tony pressed eagerly into the kiss. "Alright. Let's go," he said, drawing back and dragging Loki with him. Loki laughed, feeling the looks they were receiving and reveling in them as he followed the other out.
On their walk back to the apartment, Tony kept getting distracted with kissing Loki again, nearly running into a lamp post at one point. Chuckling, Loki kissed the other again as they reached the door to the apartment building, "Your place has too many steps. Have I ever told you that?"
"Yeah," Tony said, feeling his stomach turn over again at the thought of how much time they'd had to tell each other things. "Every damn time we stumble home and you have to go up them lust addled again."
Shaking his head, Loki nipped at Tony's lower lip, "Well, it still has too many stairs. And it will continue to have too many stairs."
"I like my apartment," Tony replied. "I've settled into it quite well thank you."
"I like it too. It's very much a place that reflects you," came the response as they made their way up the stairs, though Loki paused on the first landing to press a harsh kiss to the other's mouth.
"How about this? Next year I'll install an elevator," Tony laughed, holding Loki in the kiss for a long moment.
"The two of us in a space that small, even for a short time? I think that the stairs are safer."
Tony laughed again, shoving Loki up the stairs. "Can you imagine if other people wanted to ride it?"
Loki smirked, "Hence my concern."
"Stairs then," Tony said, shaking his head. "Only a few more years here anyway."
"Where are you settling after school?" Loki wrapped an arm around the other as they finally reached Tony's door.
"Not sure," Tony said, nuzzling against the side of his neck. "New York, or California. Maybe."
The taller man tilted his head to expose his neck a bit more, "New York always sounds like a place of promise, though the rumors I'm sure are greatly exaggerated."
"It's pretty," Tony said. "If you like lights that sparkle at night and feeling like you're on top of the world." He pressed Loki against the wall, still kissing his neck as he fumbled to get the door open.
Loki's breath caught, "It's also rather expensive while you're getting started there."
Tony laughed. "Not the problem," he said shoving the door open and dragging Loki inside.
"Is for some people," came the response as Loki kicked the door shut behind them, pulling Tony flush against him.
"Not for me," Tony replied, drawing back slightly. "Keeping in mind this is three years down the road and if I think about that I'm going to scare myself witless again—if you're with me it's not going to be for you either."
Loki offered him a gentler smile as his hand moved up to tangle in Tony's hair, "We'll deal with that when we reach it. If I'm with you then, you're right it won't be."
"I hear there's a booming fashion industry there," Tony said, paying attention to his collarbone rather than three years.
Tilting his head back, Loki let it rest against the door, "Yes, there is. It would certainly be the place to enter the industry."
"Then I vote vacation home in sunny California," Tony said.
"I could certainly live with that plan."
Tony hesitated again and nodded. "Good. It's a nice plan."
"But for now..." Loki leaned down to capture the other's mouth again and backed him toward the bedroom.
"For now," Tony agreed, dragging Loki along with him.
And with that we leave these two to their plans and future. We just wanted to thank you all for taking the time to read, and respond to this story. We hope you enjoyed the ride as much as we enjoyed writing it.
For those of you who have read our Two Sides of the Coin work, or who enjoy our FrostIron writings we've been in a bit of a tangle concerning our future in this corner of the fandom. Our Note concerning our future in it can be found here: http://magical-notes.livejournal.com/12619.html we'd really appreciate hearing your opinions and thoughts.
Thank you for reading and we hope to hear from you.