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The Devil You Know

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Yes. Loki decided he was craving tuna.

He smothered a yawn as he padded across the kitchen floor, bare feet slapping on cold tile, and swept his gaze over the rows of cabinetry. He grinned to himself as he extricated his quarry from the bottom cabinet.

Loki forewent finding a can opener and popped the lid with magic, leaning his hip against the counter. Licking the juices along the cover, Loki gazed about at the house he had come to know well these past few weeks. Sleek, modern furniture Loki was doing his best to dishevel and large picture windows framed the world beyond.

Loki found himself dangerously close to calling it “home” instead of “Stark's mansion”.

The tuna cover flopped to the counter with a metal clink,and Loki dug into the main course with a spoon whisked from the nearest drawer. He preferred this time of night, just before dawn when all the world was still and he felt like the only person awake and alive. It was a heady feeling, being the only source of motion in such stillness.

But that was shot to Hell when footsteps and a pair of voices floated down the hall. A door slammed, and the steps grew closer.

Loki stiffened, only to decide that he had no reason to, and went back to his tuna.

The footsteps were drawing nearer, and Loki knew that they were following the lights on in the kitchen. So much like flies, these humans.

Loki perked his ears at the sound of voices.

“See?” A man's voice, gruff. Hawkeye's, he believed. “Told you someone would still be up. I'll bet you fifty bucks it's Tony.”

“Ugh. Not taking that bet.” A female voice, with the tiniest Russian lilt. Hello, Black Widow. “Probably with some new tramp, with his pants down around his ankles.”

Loki smiled to himself and leaned more comfortably against the counter. He toyed with the idea of changing his shape to match Tony's, only to decide that, for once, being himself would be more fun.

He had been wondering where these two had been the past few weeks.

Finally a pair of familiar, black-clad figures passed under the kitchen archway, all slouching steps and tired smiles. Then Natasha spotted him, freezing like a deer in headlights before grabbing Clint by the elbow and tugging. Clint grunted and pulled to a stop, giving her a questioning look before following her line of sight. He started and cursed, immediately reaching for his bow with half his usual grace. Natasha fell into a battle stance.

Loki smiled and continued eating his tuna.

“Good morning,” he said cheerily. “Would you like some tuna?”

“Jarvis, sound the intruder alarm,” Clint said, staring down his bow.

“It's alright, Jarvis,” Loki said blithely. “There's no need. Though perhaps you should wake Tony. Also, add tuna to the shopping list.”

“Yes, sir,” answered Jarvis' computerized voice.

What?” Clint sputtered, glaring up at the air around them. “Don't take orders from him! He's the enemy! Now sound the frigging alarm!”

“Language, sir,” Jarvis said disapprovingly. “And I see no intruder, here.”

“Loki, what did you do?” Natasha said in a voice menacingly soft. Her eyes threatened violence.

“Oh, I doubt it matters what I tell you,” Loki sighed. “You are unlikely to believe it. For the record, I'm here in a friendly capacity.”

“Forgive me if I don't believe that,” Natasha muttered.

“I just told you you wouldn't, did I not?”

A new set of footsteps, running down the hall. Loki tried not to visibly perk up when he recognized Tony's tread.

“Hey, guys,” Tony panted as he juddered to a halt in the kitchen doorway. “What's up?” Then the scene before him seemed to penetrate his sleep-fogged brain. His eyes widened. “Oh.”

Loki discarded his tuna and sauntered over to Tony's side.

“Stay back!” Clint growled, tightening his grip on his bow. “Tony, you might want to grab your armor.”

“Uh, yeah, about that.” Tony nervously shuffled from foot to foot and scratched behind his ear. “Loki's not – I mean. I sort of invited him over.”

Loki looped an arm around Tony's waist and tilted his head to rest on Tony's shoulder. He gave Clint and Natasha a sideways glance and smirk.

Clint lowered his bow half an inch, eyes going round like saucers. He and Natasha exchanged partly horrified looks.

“Okay,” Clint said slowly, still staring at Loki and Tony but turning his head slightly to address Natasha. “Either Tony's lost a few dozen IQ points while we were gone, or Loki has cast some sort of spell on him.”

“My money's on the latter.”

“Mine, too.”

Loki rolled his eyes. Next to him, Tony looked offended.

“Excuse me,” he said. “But neither has happened here. If Loki had been working magic on me, don't you think Jarvis would have picked up on it and called you guys? Or how about Steve and Thor? They've been here, you know.”

“Actually, sir,” Jarvis primly cut in, “Loki has been using some magic on – ”

“Not that magic!” Tony all but squeaked, waving his arms in an abortive gesture. His face turned tomato red. “I meant violent or manipulative magic. Very different from... that.”

Loki hid a chuckle behind his hand. Clint looked like he was going to be ill.

“Look,” Loki laughed. “I will leave, if it – ”

“No,” Tony said sharply. Loki arced an eyebrow at him, and Tony offered a sheepish smile in response. “No, you shouldn't have to. We were gonna have to have this talk at some point, so. Yeah. Stay?”

Loki heaved a great sigh as though greatly put-upon. “If you insist,” he answered, gently cupping Tony's jaw.

“Okay,” Clint said in a strangled voice. “Clearly we got off the jet after landing in Bizzarro World.”

Natasha opened her mouth as though to say something. Instead her jaw just hung there for a while.

Tony wrapped an arm around Loki's shoulders. “Okay, why don't we all sit down and talk about this, huh?”


The vaguely horrified expression hadn't left Clint's face, but at least he had finally put down his bow. Within reach, of course. “You're dating Loki,” he said.


“You're... dating Loki.

Tony nodded. “Yeah,” he said slowly. “That's what I just said.”

Clint let out a rather colorful stream of curses. Loki lounged on couch with his feet in Tony's lap and listened.

“We're in Afghanistan for a month,” Natasha said wearily, “and this is what we come back to.” She muttered something in Russian. “Really, I should know better than to leave you here alone.”

Clint mumbled something in agreement, crossed his arms across his chest and scowled. “So,” he griped, “what're you going to get him on Valentine's Day, anyway? A bouquet of dead babies?”

“Clint!” Tony hissed. “He's a mother!”

Clint did not seem to know how to respond to that.

Loki chuckled and poked Tony's stomach with his big toe. “Your friends are handling this better than I expected.” He paused to consider Clint's words. “But what is this 'Valentine's Day' you speak of?”

“Uh,” Tony mumbled with his usual eloquence. He put a hand on Loki's foot and started rubbing small circles along the arch without even realizing it. Loki sank back into the cushions and all but purred. “It's this day where couples celebrate their relationships, yada yada. Lots of mushy stuff, really. S'been a while since I've even had to celebrate it.”

Loki mulled over these words. “I... see,” he murmured. “And how do these couples 'celebrate their relationships'?”

Tony looked at Clint with a “help me” expression. Clint held up both hands palm out in a “you're on your own” gesture.

“Well,” Tony explained, shifting uncomfortably, “sometimes they give each other flowers or chocolates or cards or just... something. I dunno.” Then his eyes lit up. “Oh, and there's sex. Lots of it.”

“Sex,” Loki echoed.

“Yeah, yeah,” Tony insisted, warming up to his “explanation”. “Like, tons of sex. It's actually a law, you know. You must have marathon sex on Valentine's Day.”

Behind Tony, a voice gravelly with sleep said, “I'm leaving the room now.”

Tony started and glanced over the back of the couch in time to see Thor's retreating back. “Sorry, Thor!” he called.

Loki leaned back and closed his eyes, still smirking. “I'll be sure to clear my schedule,” he said. “When is it?”

“Like, ten months from now,” Tony said. “February tenth.”

“Fourteenth,” Clint corrected.


Loki opened his eyes and frowned. “My goodness,” he said. “That's soon.”

Tony blinked down at the green-eyed god. “It's a once a year thing, Loki.”

“Oh,” Loki mumbled. “Wait, you do this celebratory thing once a year? Can't you just do it once every century and call it a day?”

“By 'do it' I hope you mean the celebrating. Like, literally the celebrating.”

“I'm still sore from our last round of the other kind of celebrating, so please.”

Clint and Natasha rose from their couch. “Leaving the room now, too,” Clint informed them. The two retreated in the same direction as Thor. “Hey, Thor,” Clint called. “Got any brain bleach?”

Tony looked down at Loki, who stared back at him with eyes glinting with mischief. “Still sore, huh?” he asked. There was a hint of disappointment in his voice.

Loki's smirk curled higher. “Not that sore,” he answered. One foot bent to stroke up and down Tony's thigh. Tony visibly swallowed before turning back to the god with dark eyes.


“Oh gods, yes.”