When Thor had developed a strange attachment to the waffle iron, Tony hadn't been too weirded out. Well, that's a lie, he'd been freaked (come on, Thor would talk to it like a sentient being, how is that not freaky, no matter how often Steve claims that it's kinda sweet it's just freaky okay, and Clint can shut up about glasshouses), but let's be honest, Thor is a harmless puppy all things considered. He doesn't listen when Tony tells him that the waffle iron is supposed to stay in the kitchen and instead drags it around with him sometimes, but he mostly takes it into the living room together with a bowl of batter so he can make waffles while they watch TV, which Tony deems socially acceptable. People eat in front of the TV, and if Thor wants to have his waffles fresh, that's fine. There's the whole incident when the waffle iron dies- breaks, it breaks, because it's not a person it's an appliance, not even somewhere in between like Dummy or Jarvis and Tony will never, ever do anything to change that, ever. But Tony takes Thor to buy a new one and if they end up with heart-shaped waffles, well, that's okay. It's supposed to be a Scandinavian waffle iron anyway, which is oddly fitting, and so it has the foreigner bonus, as does Thor. Heart-shaped waffles are manly.
But then there's some political maneuvering and a couple of rapid-fire, big missions that end up with a couple of villains captured, and suddenly Loki is living with them. This is more due the former than the latter (apparently Loki did an about turn and was on their side during this whole thing, and suddenly he and Coulson are best buddies which is weird on so many levels) but the result is that Loki might not be an Avenger by name (at his on insistence) but he lives with them and eats with them and comes along with them when they're having a "quest". Their quests being the missions, though Loki treats them like fun trips where everybody dresses up and heads out to wreak chaos. Tony grows rather fond of this attitude of his; the others eventually get tired of Tony's snarking but Loki never does, and so the two of them banter back and forth endlessly. The result is that the others sometimes get a bit annoyed with them both, but it's prime entertainment for Tony. A nice side-effect too is that Loki gets integrated far better into the group, because that doesn't go all that well at the beginning. Understandably so, Loki messed things up for them for quite a while, but Loki isn't the only one of them who doesn't exactly have a clean slate. All things considered, Steve is probably the only one of them who would genuinely have the right to judge Loki based on the fact that Steve's slate isn't just clean, it's polished, it's gleaming, but Steve is way too good for that.
All in all, Tony finds to his surprise that he enjoys Loki being here. After about two months he's fully integrated in the household and appears to be comfortable, which shows itself in the form of pranks.
This is how the waffle-coffee embargo happens.
At first it's funny. The waffle iron looks perfectly normal, Thor drizzles dough into it and closes it, and when he opens it he finds that his waffle has a funny shape on it. At first it's faces, ranging from the Avengers to people from Asgard (though never Odin, Tony notes), then rune messages that from Thor's reaction seem to range from amusing over insulting to disturbing, but then Clint gets involved and things take a turn for the juvenile. Meaning Thor ends up with penises on his waffles. Which Thor doesn't find as amusing, he gets a sad puppy look on his face like somebody stole his kitten, but he still doesn't react in the way Loki obviously wants him to. So eventually Loki starts to mess with the flavor, and that's when Thor finally decides to strike back.
It's all good-humored, of course. But it seems like there's a long (and they're Asgardians, so that means long) tradition of prank wars involving Loki and Thor, and knowing Thor, even when things are good-humored, they're still serious business.
And Loki has grown emotionally attached to the coffee machine.
It's one of the fancy ones (though this one's extra fancy, come on, everything in Avengers Tower is) with pads that makes about a billion different kinds of coffee and espresso and cappuccino and latte and insert fancy Italian coffee name here and even several kinds hot chocolate. Honestly, Loki isn't the only one who is emotionally attached to the thing; Tony is deeply in love with it, as is Bruce, and Natasha and Clint as well. Steve and Thor appreciate it as well though to lesser degrees, as does everybody who comes to visit them, because it's just that awesome. It's custom-made, of course, because coffee is serious business wherever Tony lives, and really most of the Avengers are coffee-fueled seventy percent of the time. Excepting Steve, on whom caffeine has no effect, and Thor, who's been banned, because Thor plus caffeine is a receipt for disaster.
Which naturally is why Thor decides that the coffee machine is a good way to retaliate.
Tony has no idea how he does it, but he messes up all the pads. The coffee that comes out of it is suddenly of a different color (such as neon pink or poisonously green, including strange aftertastes to go with it), and that's only if you're lucky; if you're not you get an orange juice out of a cappuccino pad or something alike. As a result the Avengers tower is suddenly filled with caffeine-deprived, ill-tempered monsters. Coulson sends sympathy interns with loads of coffee, because Thor didn't just mess up their favorite machine; he made it so all the other machines in the building suddenly don't work anymore, which doesn't just hit the Avengers hard but also all the other offices in the lower floors. To top it all, Thor is nowhere to be found to be yelled at when they discover the debacle. By the end of the day everybody is near-psychotic, Loki most of all, because in their caffeine-deprived irrationality people keep taking their frustration out on him. The things they say are not nice, and yes, Loki gives as good as he gets, but that's not the point.
Thirteen hours after the last confirmed use of the coffee machine (Loki had made himself a hot chocolate at around four in the morning), it starts working normally again. Within the hour everybody goes from caffeine-deprived to overdosed, jittery and manic. Clint and Natasha and Steve go back to beating each other up in the gym, only this time out of a surplus of energy instead of frustration, and Loki, Tony and Bruce start a multitasking brainstorm in the community lab (they each have a private one, but a private lab is like an underwear drawer: you don't let anybody else in, neither to see your lingerie nor to see your worn comfort boxers in that lovely off-white color that you've had for the better part of ten years) that involves each of them doing at least three things simultaneously, some of them together, and a lot of babbling and a continuous flow of coffee. About three hours after they start they slowly start to emerge, zombie-eyed and dazed and possibly having accomplished two impossible and five highly unlikely things. Or maybe a bunch of useless crap, they can't quite tell anymore.
Yeah. Not a good day.
When Tony wakes up the next day the first thing he does is check on the coffee maker – he isn't the only one to have that impulse, everybody else is a bit clingy as well. Loki seems to actually have camped right next to it and sits on the counter, staring at everybody who enters the kitchen with narrowed eyes like a hawk guarding its young. "I know how he did it," he informs Tony darkly. He's petting the coffee machine, it's a bit ridiculous and Tony would make fun of him for it if he hadn't found himself doing the same subconsciously every now and then.
No. Thor seriously messed up with that one, and when he returns (from a hotel he spent the night at with Jane apparently, paying in cash which explains why Tony couldn't find him) everybody takes great care to inform him of that. This involves a lot of yelling, which is how Tony and Loki realize Thor is back to begin with – Clint comes across him in the hall and starts yelling at him. Loki and Tony don't move a muscle; they can hear Thor come closer to the kitchen by the sound of the others berating him – Steve's disappointed speech, Bruce's forced calm "that wasn't your best idea, Thor", Natasha's angry hisses right in front of the kitchen. Then Thor enters, forehead wrinkled with confusion – it must be dawning on him that he really overdid it with messing with the coffee machine – and Loki explodes from his crouch (he really did a great impression of a hawk, Tony makes a note to Jarvis to take a picture from the security tape for him) and starts to screech at Thor. Over the next twenty minutes they all find out that prank wars yes, messing with the coffee machine NO, NO THOR BAD, and Thor involving Edda (who Loki clearly does not like) was more than just a bit not good. Thor is contrite and everything, he clearly sees one of the points Loki makes (that involving people who aren't directly involved in the prank war isn't good), and Tony gets the impression that it was Edda's idea too. Going by Loki's expression, this mysterious Edda person hasn't heard the end of it yet either.
While listening to Loki yell (in at least two languages, possibly more, Tony doesn't understand more than half of it) Tony makes a decision. Once Loki slows down somewhat, Tony takes over. It feels a bit like kicking a puppy, Thor already looks contrite, but messing with the coffee machine really, really wasn't okay.
"And that's why," Tony finishes his speech, "I'm taking the coffee machine and the waffle iron."
Loki whirls around and stares at Tony with an expression of utter betrayal on his face; Thor's face looks exactly the same, it's almost comical. Scratch that, it's hilarious, and Tony enjoys it, because while he didn't care about the waffle iron and the things Loki did with it, he does care a lot about the coffee machine, and yesterday was one of the worst days in recent memory. It really was.
"Tony no!" Loki exclaims.
"Not my waffle iron!" Thor adds, eyes wide and pleading.
"Why are you doing this to me?" Loki continues, and wow. Tony always thought Thor was an expert at the kicked puppy face (and he is), but somehow Loki's face has a lot more effect on Tony. Perhaps he's grown a little resistant to Thor's after prolonged exposure? He wouldn't have thought so, but it would be an explanation.
"Because you definitely started it," Tony says firmly.
"I won't let you." With a wild expression Loki throws himself at the coffee machine, wrapping both arms around it. "You can't take it away from me!"
Tony narrows his eyes and crosses his arms. "This is my custom-made coffee machine," he explains very slowly. "I can take it wherever I want."
And he does. Body-checking Loki out of the way, which involves a few well-placed tickles, Tony takes the coffee machine and carries it down into his lab. When he comes back the waffle iron is nowhere to be found and Thor is wearing an innocent expression, but Tony doesn't even have to ask Jarvis; utterly spiteful, Loki points towards the linen closet.
This is how Tony ends up hording the waffle iron and coffee machine. He makes it up to the others (innocent bystanders caught in a horrible war) by buying another coffee machine, one he doesn't care about, and putting it in the kitchen, but he still ends up on everybody's shit list because apparently the others do not appreciate at all being made collateral in a three-way stand-off between Tony, Loki and Thor for the second day in a row, especially not if their coffee is involved.
Whatever. It's a matter of principle. Tony calls the coffee machine Droptopper because Pepper recently brought him Dutch licorice and it sounds fitting and whatever, he's never been the most creative where naming things is concerned. Two of his currently active AI's have names that are abbreviations (JARVIS and DUM-E) and the other two are called U and Butterfingers. Any questions? No? Good.
The next three days, Tony buries himself in the lab, because there he has everything he needs to live which is coffee and science. Also a bed and a shower and a couple of snack foods Pepper keeps forcing on him in an attempt to encourage him to eat when he gets into one of his moods (she theorizes that if he sees it he might be reminded to eat, which actually works to a point) but that's not mandatory in his opinion. He also doesn't have moping friends in there who scowl at him whenever he makes an appearance, which is the best part. Really, he could've stayed there forever (or at least for a couple of weeks) if it weren't for Steve.
Steve is Tony's best friend, no questions about that. But Steve can also be rather annoying with his inherent goodness and need for harmony. Unfortunately, one of Steve's strongest character traits is his incredible persistence (or stubbornness, however one might want to put it), and Tony has learned through trial and error that ignoring him doesn't work in the long run.
That's why he developed a set of codes for Steve. Nobody is allowed into the lab unless he explicitly invites and accompanies them in, which doesn't happen all that often; the underwear drawer comparison applies. But by necessity (meaning his friends' persistent nagging) Tony made up some codes that will at least give people the means to contact him if necessary, as well as an absolute override code that nobody has but Steve and Natasha and that they are only to use in case of absolute emergency; it's not really necessary because Jarvis will alert everybody and open up if Tony has a heart attack or something, but just in case, mostly because Steve feels better with it. There are a couple of other codes, though, that Tony can meet with counter-codes, a sort of non-verbal communication that measures Tony's need for alone time against Steve's need for, well, Tony to not be alone. For example, if he locks himself up in his lab under code Not Now Dear I Have A Migraine (which he has), Steve has to use his Level 3a Case of Emergency counter code, secretly known as Tony We Long For Your Company And Also Need Your Wise Counsel (Steve isn't too fond of Tony's creative code names, which is why Steve's codes don't have them where Steve can see), which is below You Need To Eat Tony (Level 2f in Stevespeak) but above Come Play With Us Tony We Yearn For Your Incredible Wit And Overwhelmingly Handsome Face (Level 3b).
"Mr. Rogers, Sir, longs for your company and wise counsel," Jarvis says very dryly, lowering the volume of the music in order to be heard. If Steve had used 3b Jarvis wouldn't have interrupted him, it's not strong enough to counter Migraine-level lock-down, but alas, he hasn't. It's really unfair that Tony isn't allowed to be too dramatic with his lock-down code usage, otherwise he'd be using You Kissed My Sister right now. Steve could take his 3a and go home with that, because Steve would never abuse his codes. It somehow takes the fun out of temper tantrums.
With a sigh, Tony saves the code and quickly jots down some notes on what he's planning to do next with it before he turns around in his chair, facing the glass door and Steve. "Right, fine, let him in."
Steve raises an eyebrow at him as the door opens. "Are you finished yet with your temper tantrum?"
Crossing his arms, Tony scowls. "I really don't see why I'm supposed to be the one throwing a temper tantrum. Thor is the one who hurt Droptopper." Maybe he should name the waffle iron too, but for that he'd have to fudge with it some first (he can't just name something if he hasn't messed with its innards, that's just wrong) and the poor thing has been messed with enough lately.
"Droptopper?" Steve blinks, then shakes his head, clearly pushing it aside as a Tony Oddity. "Nevermind. Tony, you need to give back the waffle iron and coffee maker."
"Droptopper," Tony corrects. Then he frowns. "This is a 3a? How is this a 3a? You're kidding me right? I know for a fact – because I'm the one who set up the account for him and who explained- well okay I'm the one who got Pepper to set up the account for him and explain credit cards to him – that Thor has a bank account, he could just buy a new one. And I did buy a new coffee machine, which suits everybody well enough, you all just drink perfectly normal coffee anyway, you weirdoes." Which isn't true, Clint has a thing for fancy triple-shot frappuccinos with two different kinds of flavor and whipped cream, but he can go to a coffee shop or something, there's more of those in New York than people Tony sometimes thinks.
"Tony," Steve says seriously, stepping right in front of him and putting his hands on Tony's shoulders. "You need to give them back."
Tony pouts. "No."
They stare at each other, and it feels remarkably like the staring matches Tony had with his nannies growing up where they'd tell him to do something and he'd refuse to. Except with considerably less abandonment issues being the reason for his refusal.
Steve's mouth tightens. Pulling Tony up, he starts to drag him out of the workshop and up the stairs.
"What are you doing?" Tony complains. "I was in the middle of something!" Which is true, but he's always in the middle of something and Steve used a 3a, so it's not like he honestly expected to be able to get back to it.
Wordlessly, Steve pushes Tony into the kitchen, where Loki is sitting on the table (he has a thing for perching in high-ish places, though it's not as extreme as Clint's fetish), knees pulled up to his chest and arms wrapped around them. He's staring moodily at the new coffee machine. When Tony comes into the room he expects there to be some sort of reaction in the form of a hissy fit, but all he gets is a baleful look out of the corners of Loki's eyes. Tony's honestly a little disappointed – not that he's jealous or anything of the reaction Thor got, but really. Loki could pay a little more attention to him.
"He's been like this since yesterday," Steve hisses.
Okay, Loki is moping, and he's much more demonstrative about it than Tony is. That takes some skill, because Tony is a drama queen and everybody knows it by this point, but come to think of it, the same is true for Loki. Tony doesn't quite see the point.
Sighing noisily, Steve takes Tony's arm and pulls him over into the living room, where Thor is sitting in pretty much the same pose as his brother, only on the sofa, and he's staring at the little side table they put there for him for his waffle iron, because it's the perfect size for the waffle iron plus the bowl of batter, and it has a second shelf on which things like powdered sugar, sugar sprinkles, jam, chocolate sauce and maple syrup have found their permanent home. A second set with the first being in the kitchen, but this one is just for Thor and his waffles, because it's just too much trouble to have to go back and forth all the time (first world problems ahoy! Tony is a poster child for those, thank you very much).
"Wow, they take their kitchen appliances serious, don't they?" Tony comments when Steve pulls him back into the hall to talk. "Also, where is everybody?" The tower isn't normally this empty unless there are smaller missions involving just one or two Avengers afoot, and Jarvis would've told him if there were.
"I wish I could find this as amusing as you do," Steve replies. "They went out. Clint said he finds the emofest too depressing, whatever that means."
Tony grins. "Come on, Cap, admit it, this is a little funny. They're moping because of a waffle iron and a coffee maker, how is this not funny? Though the coffee maker is awesome and custom-made and worth moping over, honestly, but the waffle iron, well."
Steve sighs. "You have to give them back, Tony. You've made your point, everybody's learnt a lesson where the coffee maker is concerned."
"Who says I was trying to make a point?" Tony complains, crossing his arms again. "Honestly, I was just trying to protect my property. Besides, I bought a replacement coffee maker that works perfectly fine, I don't know what everybody's problem is."
"I don't know either," Steve admits. He's not much of a coffee drinker, it doesn't do anything for him caffeine-wise, and he finds it bitter. "But apparently yours is the best."
"Of course it is, it's custom-made."
Steve shrugs. "Loki wants hot chocolate with foamed milk and whipped cream. Apparently, only your coffee maker can do both at the same time. He won't even touch this one."
Biting his lower lip, Tony glances at the kitchen.
"Come on, Tony," Steve takes the opening, "They won't do it again, they're sorry. Don't you think you're overreacting a little? It wasn't Loki's fault Thor touched the coffee maker, and anyways none of us knew you're that emotionally attached to it."
"It's custom-made," Tony informs Steve haughtily. Not just custom-ordered, but custom-made. Tony had his hands in it, literally. It's practically his baby. "Also, its name is Droptopper."
Steve waits patiently. Eventually, Tony sighs gustily. "Fine. Come help me carry."
Together, they bring the waffle iron and Droptopper back into the kitchen. Steve takes the other coffee machine and mutters something about donating it to the poor guys in the offices below, which Tony knows means he'll be gone for at least an hour because they won't let him just leave without some obligatory sharing and caring. The people working in the tower are supposed to be too professional for hero worship, and if necessary they are (for example nobody tries to sneak-take pictures of them inside), but that's just not how human nature works most of the time, and Steve genuinely cares about how their children are doing. It's sort of horrible in a sweet kind of way.
Tony puts Droptopper in its proper place and steps back, waiting for a reaction from Loki. When none is forthcoming he turns around and finds that Loki is fixating him with a scowling pout of truly epic proportions. For a moment they stare at each other; then Tony sighs and takes Loki's special, big mug out of the cupboard. He throws some mini marshmallows into it for good measure and then makes Loki his cup of hot chocolate with mint syrup, whipped cream and foamed milk. In hindsight, he didn't really consider Loki's addiction to hot chocolate when he took Droptopper.
Loki takes the hot chocolate like a tribute he's long overdue, but when Tony hands him the spoon to skim off the whipped cream, foamed milk and melting marshmallows (that honestly make up about a fourth of the contents of the cup) he already seems vaguely appeased. Tony watches for a while as Loki, legs unfolded and crossed now, flicks his tongue out to lick the cream out of the spoon. He looks perfectly content and perfectly cat-like. It's unusual how quiet he's being, and the mood between them is a bit strange, vibrating with a tension Tony can't define the origin of. He finds himself wanting to reach out to pet Loki, which, well, weird. Okay, the Asgardians do like body contact and especially to cuddle, they all learned this quickly with Thor and Loki, it turned out, is no different. It's a proof of how accustomed they all are to Thor, who likes to pull people seemingly randomly into very prolonged hugs, that none of them batted an eye the first time they found Thor and Loki cuddling on the couch. With the others Loki hasn't cuddled yet, but he does touch them both casually and by this point also on purpose with barely any hesitation.
Remembering all the times Loki touched him, Tony decides that maybe it's not that weird after all, and Tony did touch back before (Tony is tactile too, though in a different way than Thor and Loki), so he reaches out and runs his fingers through Loki's soft hair. Loki doesn't react in any other way but to glance at him before he concentrates back on his hot chocolate, but Tony doesn't think he's imagining the way Loki tilts his head almost imperceptively into the touch. So Tony continues cupping Loki's head and carding his fingers through his hair. This is not the first time he's doing this, touching Loki's hair, he knew from experience how soft it'd be before he touched it, but it's the first time he's doing it for this long, and it's far less casual than usual.
Loki calmly spoons his hot chocolate. Once all the whipped cream, marshmallows and foamed milk are gone he puts the spoon away and starts to sip, face calm and peaceful. Once it all is gone he puts the mug away and finally looks at Tony.
As if burned, Tony pulls his hand away; mostly reflex, not at all because of Loki's expression, which remains open and relaxed. Loki reacts with a strangely guileless smile and pushes himself off the table, right up against Tony's body. Belatedly Tony takes a step back, but Loki follows him. Wordlessly he cups Tony's face, hands warm from the hot chocolate, leans in and presses his mouth to Tony's. That, they definitely have not done before, except maybe once. Twice, if drunk kisses count. More, if pecks mostly to the cheek or temple count, but they don't, because this is not middle school.
Loki's mouth is warm and tastes of chocolate, and Tony sort of wants to nibble on his lips so he does, but he also wants to taste his tongue so he does that too. He sort of wants everything at the same time, and Loki pulls back far too soon in his opinion; he didn't even get to do half the things he wanted to. Strangely, he's still breathless.
"No more messing with kitchen appliances," Loki murmurs. All Tony can do is nod dumbly, and Loki laughs and then he's gone, leaving Tony behind in the kitchen.
Okay. Well, at least he's in a better mood now.
Tony clears his throat and decides to maybe go tell Thor that the waffle iron is back. Thor probably won't kiss him (unlike Loki, Thor doesn't do that, and maybe Loki doesn't do it either except with Tony, but Tony isn't sure he's quite ready yet to think about what that means) but there might be hugs, so he might as well get it out of the way now.