Chapter 1: New Beginnings
Loki could feel his so-called father’s gaze upon him, crawling up his skin, seeing through him. He refused to meet Odin’s eye, afraid of what he’d see there; the disappointment he already knew was present, but was afraid of confirming. “Would you have me executed, father?” He asked bitterly. “Are you regretting having stolen this relic? I am but the son of your enemy. What use am I to you alive?”
Odin frowned, shaking his head slowly. “Loki, I will never regret raising you as my own son. However, my own feelings cannot change your actions, which I don’t approve of.”
The God of Trickery laughed a humorless laugh, finally meeting his father’s gaze. “What then? Will you kill me? Would you have me locked in a cage for the rest of my life?”
Odin turned to the window, clasping his hands behind his back as he observed the Asgardian skies. There was a stretch of silence before he finally spoke, his voice hard. “No.” Taking a few steps closer to his adoptive son, he stood at his full height. “I’m going to grant you a chance to redeem yourself; to learn responsibility that Thor, too, had to learn.”
Loki hadn’t a chance to speak before his armor was torn from his body and everything faded into darkness.
Loki opened his eyes, disoriented and confused. He felt…warm. And exhausted. And shockingly fragile. He sat up, realizing he had been lying in a public park in what looked like New York. With a glance at the skyline, he saw the Stark Tower and suppressed a groan. Of all places Odin could have sent him, he chose the one place Loki would never willingly return to.
There was something horribly, grossly wrong.
Loki looked down at his clothes and realized that they were what a mere mortal would wear. They held no regality. Plain shirt and a pair of black jeans. With a confused frown, he attempted to summon his armor, but nothing happened. He felt none of his familiar magic.
And that’s when he realized exactly what Odin had meant by ‘learning responsibility like Thor had’. He was a mortal; weak, fragile, and powerless. He sat on the grass, trying to let the revelation sink in. He honestly had no clue whether to feel angry or devastated. It felt as though a piece of his soul had been stolen, like something was missing. From him. He was incomplete.
Resigned, he stood from the grass and moved to an empty park bench, leaning back and pulling his knees to his chest. Anger and betrayal, he decided, were the two emotions at the forefront of his mind. He was nothing without his magic, and Odin must have known that. Now, as he sat in his pathetic mortal clothes in a pathetic mortal world, he tried to plan out what his next move was.
It was pretty obvious what it had to be, though, even if the former-god didn’t like it. He’d been stripped of his powers and his dignity—his pride was the only thing that still had to go. And he knew exactly how to remedy that. That is, if his brother could even forgive him for all that he’d done. As much as it pained him to do so, he was willing to meet Thor half way.
He sat for another ten minutes trying his hardest to overcome his pride.
No, he wasn’t moping.
With a resigned groan, he stood and began walking. With every step he took, he tried convincing himself to turn back. He could totally find a better option. He remained steadfast, though, until Stark Tower was just ahead of him, shining in the sunlight like a beacon of hope and hopelessness. He reached a tall gate with a camera and a set of buttons, seemingly acting as his last obstacle before coming to his goal. The buttons had small labels, designating the type of visit. ‘Press interview’, ‘delivery’, ‘meeting’, and ‘personal’; Loki hesitated before pressing ‘personal’, listening to a short beep before a small screen lit up, Tony Stark’s incredulous face appearing. “Okay…right. Look, I’m sort of hung-over right now, so I think…I think I’m mistaking you for someone else.” The man said, trying to get his eyes into focus.
Loki smirked, shaking his head slightly. “I don’t think you’re mistaking me for anyone, Mr. Stark. But don’t worry; I’m not going to kill you.”
Talking to a small screen was…weird to say the least.
“Right. Uh…right.” Tony seemed to have some issues figuring out what was going on, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
“Look, can I come in? I have matters to discuss. I must speak with Tho- my brother.”
Stark took a breath in, closed his eyes, and then glanced at Loki again. Finally, there was a buzz above the ex-god and the gate opened slowly. “I’m only doing this because you could just teleport in anyway, so I’m staying on your good side.”
The screen flashed to black and Loki pushed his way through the gate, looking up at the building in front of him. Stark was wrong about the teleportation, but he let it go. There would be time for explanations when he was sure they weren’t going to kill him on sight.
He made his way up the well-manicured driveway and to the front door where Mr. Stark was leaning against the doorframe, sunglasses concealing his eyes. “I would have thought you’d be wearing your metal armor.” The Asgardian said simply as he approached the shorter man.
“I could say the same about you. Your ensemble seems a bit…casual today.”
Loki nearly bristled at the comment, but shrugged it off. “Might I ask where my brother is?”
“He should be here any-” the sound of heavy footsteps could be heard in the hallway and soon, Thor emerged, stopping in his tracks when he saw his brother.
The god looked at his younger brother, disbelief in his eyes. “How did you escape?!” He nearly yelled, causing Tony to visibly flinch.
“I didn’t escape,” Loki said defensively, “This is my punishment! Father stripped me of my powers and sent me here, much like he did you. I’m stuck here.”
The God of Thunder took a moment to process the information he’d just been given, scanning his brother’s eyes for any trace of a trick. After a few tense moments, he breathed out and launched himself forward, engulfing Loki in an eager embrace. “I am happy to hear this, brother! You are welcome here.”
Tony took this moment to interject, raising an eyebrow at the taller blond. “Uh, shouldn’t you be asking before inviting people into my tower? And in case you’ve forgotten, your brother attempted to kill the entire team, and succeeded in murdering many more S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. I don’t know how comfortable anyone around here is going to be with someone like that living under the same roof as them!” his voice became gradually louder until he seemed to remember his hangover, rubbing his eyes briefly.
“I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak as though I wasn’t here, Mr. Stark.” Loki said irritably, taking a few step towards him. “And don’t speak as though you know all of the details! You don’t!”
“I may not know your side of the story, Loki,” the brunette spat, “But I do know that because of you, Phil Coulson is in the hospital, barely hanging on. I know that you possessed one of my teammates, forcing him to kill. I know that you’ve cost the city of New York millions of dollars in repairs. So excuse me for weighing what I know against your side of the story.”
“Listen, mortal, you couldn’t possibly fathom my side of the story. You think I was the one in charge? Think again! I was taking orders in order to protect my own life, so-”
Loki was admittedly not expecting Tony Stark’s fist to come into contact with his nose. Stumbling backwards, hands going to his face, he glared up at the offender. “Yeah, well, last time I checked, you’re mortal now, too.”
Tony turned to walk back inside, but Thor grabbed his shoulder roughly. “Mind your actions, Man of Iron! I understand your hostility towards my brother, but at this moment he is helpless and trying to make amends for his previous wrong-doings.”
It was obvious Thor didn’t want to turn his brother away, and it was understandable. Loki was finally trying to reach out to him, and it wasn’t outside the realm of possibilities that they could repair their relationship. Tony understood this, and looked over to the God of Mischief, who was holding a blood-coated hand to his nose. “Look.” He began, taking his sunglasses of and perching them atop his head. “Even if you manage to convince me, there are still four other people living in the mansion that you’re going to have to talk to. Not only that, but S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t going to let a war criminal, mortal or not, frolic around town. Nick Fury is going to demand more severe consequences than having your magic taken away. I don’t know how these things work on Asgard, but here on Earth, when you murder someone, you get locked up in a tiny jail cell for a very long time.”
Thor thought for a moment, hand tightening around Mjӧlnir. “I will go to Asgard and speak to my father. I will be back shortly. Can I trust my brother in your hands?”
Tony raised an eyebrow before nodding, replacing his sunglasses. “I’m willing to stand down if he is.” Thor seemed satisfied with this answer, and was swinging Mjӧlnir, leaving with a boom of thunder. Stark looked over to the demoted god, whose hand was still held firmly against his nose. Blood dripped onto the ground, and he almost felt sorry for Loki.
It would probably help if the god hadn’t murdered some of his colleagues.
Finally, he sighed and motioned for Loki to enter the mansion. “Let’s get you some ice for your face.”
The taller man followed Tony in silence, ego bruised and head aching. He wouldn’t know what to say, in any case. ‘So how’s the fighting evil?’, ‘This is a lovely home, I didn’t get a good look at it before I threw you from a window.’ No, those probably wouldn’t go over very well with Mr. Stark.
When they finally reached the kitchen, Tony pointed to one of the stools around the island counter while he grabbed a paper towel and held it under the faucet. Walking around to stand in front of the god, he kept his face emotionless. “Here, move your hand. I can’t tell what kind of damage I did until this blood is gone.” Loki did so, reluctantly. He would be lying if he said he didn’t expect the billionaire to be rougher than he needed to. However, Tony was surprisingly…gentle. “Well, I didn’t manage to break anything. It’s kind of a shame, really. It’s not every day you get the opportunity to punch the God of Mischief in the face. It would be so much better if I could say I broke his nose.”
“I assure you, this is grounds enough for bragging.” Loki sniffed, trying to ascertain whether or not he was still bleeding, and watched as his host moved to the freezer and pulled out a handful of ice cubes, wrapping them in a dish towel.
“Hold that on your face.”
Loki looked skeptical. “And what is that going to accomplish? Trying to remind me of my heritage?”
“Um…no?” Tony paused, confused. “It’ll help with the pain. That is, unless you want to sit there the way it is. It’s your face.” The Asgardian snatched the homemade ice pack, looking like a pouting five year old. Tony smirked briefly, but soon realized who was sitting in front of him. Masking his emotions, he sat on the stool next to Loki and looked him in the eyes. “I need to know, on the off chance that you end up living under my roof, that you aren’t going to go off on a killing spree the second you get your powers back. Besides Thor, I’m the only one who isn’t going to try and kill you without a second glance, so you’d better be honest with me.”
“I mean no harm to the humans, not anymore. I don’t think you listened very well when I said I was taking orders. While I will happily admit that tricks and mischief are my specialties, I don’t take an immense amount of satisfaction out of killing.”
“You seemed pretty satisfied last time I checked.” There was a dangerous tone in Tony’s voice, and he pretended that he didn’t notice the way his eyes began to tear up when he thought of all the lives lost in the fight against Loki.
“That was…it was different. I couldn’t possibly expect you to understand half of what was going on with the Tesseract, but I truly have no wish to do any more harm.”
“You’re the God of Lies. How do I know you aren’t scheming something right at this very moment?”
Loki adjusted the ice pack and drew his lips together. “Tell me, Stark, do you know what it’s like to be overlooked by your father for someone else? To feel obligated to do everything in your power to make him notice you, regardless of whether or not it’s destructive? My life has been full of disappointment and the inability to live up to the expectations set by Thor. My previous actions were those of a son trying to get his father to notice him for the first time.”
Tony nodded, though Loki wasn’t looking at him. The god, instead, was looking at the countertop, free hand fidgeting uncomfortably in his lap. “Actually, I do get it. The father situation, I mean. My father wasn’t exactly the greatest role model. Only, instead of a brother, I had science to compete with. And science never loses.”
He hadn’t actually intended to say that out loud. Once it was out there in the open, he once again realized that this was Loki he was sitting with and wished he could take the words back. He cleared his throat, standing abruptly. He didn’t want to admit that he and Loki were alike, and it was easy to see how the Asgardian had become so…well, so fucked up. Grabbing a soda out of the fridge, he decided it was time for a subject change. “So let’s say you do gain the approval of everyone in this house. Are you prepared for what S.H.I.E.L.D. might do to you? I don’t think Nick Fury is the type of person to forgive so easily. Like, have you ever seen a movie called Pulp Fiction?” Loki shook his head. “Well, he’s like this guy in that movie who shoots people and…well, no, the guy in the movie actually ends up being a pretty forgiving character in the end. My point here is, you destroyed his helicarrier and killed his agents. He probably won’t be as forgiving as everyone else.”
Loki set his ice pack on the counter and smiled a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “I can’t say I’d blame him. I never thought the All-Father would give me this punishment, so I suppose I was prepared for something more severe. If Mr. Fury wishes that I get put in a prison, I won’t argue.”
Tony was massively thankful when he heard Thor return with a boom, because he was getting way too close to understanding the man sitting across from him. And that probably wouldn’t be a good thing. He wasn’t at his best, in the first place. He could most likely still be considered drunk, if not buzzed, and he was liable to do something stupid. Like invite Loki into his home.
“I am happy to see the both of you alive!” Thor said, clapping Loki on the back, not noticing when his brother flinched away from the contact. “I have spoken to my father, and he has explained the situation to me.”
“Is he going to force me to play nice with his youngest?” Tony asked, scoffing slightly.
“He says that it is entirely up to you mortals as to whether or not you would like to provide shelter for Loki. As he puts it, it is part of the learning experience.”
Loki stood from his stool, looking from his brother to Tony. “I can see that this is going to be far more trouble than it’s worth. I’m sure I’ll be able to find another home to live in.” He turned towards the hallway, ready to leave as quickly as he could, realizing how bad of an idea it was to show up there in the first place. Before he could take more than two steps, though, he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned around.
“Look,” Tony began, looking entirely unsure of what he was doing. “I’m not saying that I trust you completely, but I think it’s safe to say that you don’t want to slip cyanide into our orange juice. I’d be willing to set you up with a room here, and since I own the building, it’ll be pretty hard for the rest of the team to object. With Thor to watch over you, you won’t be able to do anything excessively evil. There would be rules, though. A lot of rules. You’d be like a preteen with overbearing parents. Is that agreeable to you?”
Tony had no idea what he was doing, but the words were spilling out of his mouth before he even had a chance to think about it. Something about Loki’s demeanor—mixed with the influence of alcohol and the fact that they actually had something in common—made him sympathize with the god. Even if it was only a little bit.
And hey, no one ever said that Tony Stark was a man who thinks things through.
Loki, in turn, straightened. “I don’t find it disagreeable.”
Thor grinned, wrapping both men in his arms, laughing jovially. “Then it is settled! I thank you for this grand opportunity, Tony Stark! And I am truly happy to have you here, brother! I hope we can once again be a family.” Tony opened his mouth to say something when he heard a click of a gun being cocked, and he immediately disengaged from the embrace and turned to see the offender.
Natasha stood near the door, gun pointed at Loki’s head. It was amazing how menacing she still managed to look when in jeans and a tank top. “What is he doing here?” She asked, venom pouring from every syllable. She certainly was living up to her title.
Tony stepped in front of the god, though he was substantially shorter, and put his hands up. “Natasha, stand down. It’s alright.” She made no move to put her gun away, and Tony let out an impatient sigh. “Loki isn’t here to hurt anyone; he’s officially as mortal as you or me. Well, mostly you.”
The red-head seemed to relax, but she kept the gun trained in front of her. “How do I know he isn’t possessing you? Just like he was with Clint.” Okay, so if Loki was a touchy subject for her, they were going to go through hell trying to convince Agent Barton, but they’d cross that bridge when they got there.
If they got there.
“It’s physically impossible for him to possess me because of the arc reactor. Believe me, he tried.” Tony tapped the circle of light through his shirt. “I’m using my own free will here, Tasha, and I would appreciate it if you just trusted me and put the gun down.”
Finally, she seemed convinced and slowly, hesitantly, set her gun to the side. “You didn’t answer my question. What is he doing here?”
Thor, seemingly oblivious to the hostility in Natasha’s voice, stepped to the front of the trio and smiled. “He is here to make amends for his wrong-doings and serve his punishment as a mortal, and Tony has agreed to let him stay here!”
The thunder god’s excitement was lost on Agent Romanov, who simply looked incredulous. She almost looked like she’d been betrayed by a loved one, staring open-mouthed at Tony, not quite believing. “Why would you agree to that, Tony? He may be human, but that doesn’t mean he’s harmless. Even humans are capable of murder. Just because he has no magic doesn’t mean he isn’t going to try and kill us all as we sleep.”
“I know it may seem far-fetched, but can you just trust me here? I…for some reason, I actually trust him,” Tony couldn’t believe he was actually saying that out loud in front of Loki. It’s not like the Asgardian needed an extra ego boost or anything. “And I’m prepared to take full responsibility for any of his actions.”
Oh god, what was he signing himself up for? He almost wished he had the ability to take the words back, but a look at Thor convinced him otherwise.
“The Man of Iron will not be taking sole responsibility!” The blond said proudly. “Loki is my brother, and I will take responsibility as well.”
“Can I speak for myself?” Loki asked irritably, glaring mostly at his brother. “I know the things I’ve done have been wrong, and I’ve given you no reason not to shoot me right now. But I’m not going to kill anyone. If anything, I just want to be on my best behavior so that I can get my powers back and return to Asgard. Once I get my powers returned to me, it’s doubtful that you’ll ever see me again.”
Natasha took a calming breath in before letting it out in a huff. “Let the record show that I will not hesitate to shoot if you do something out of line. I’m not happy about it, and I would prefer it if you kept your distance. But if Tony and Thor are willing to be your keepers, then I have no right to stop them.” She sent Loki one last look of distaste before turning on her heel and leaving the scene, leaving the trio to process the situation.
“Well, there’s one down, three to go.” Tony muttered, wondering what the hell he’d gotten himself in to. He wasn’t Loki’s ‘keeper’. If anything, he was like…a landlord slash probation officer. “Jesus Christ, this is probably the worst day I could have chosen to have a hangover.” He grabbed his can of soda off the counter, taking a huge gulp.
“Thank you, Tony.” Thor said, smiling gratefully.
“Yeah, well,” Tony looked at Loki, “Don’t make me regret it.”
Loki would never admit it, but he actually felt a sense of happiness; a sense of being wanted. Of being trusted. Trust wasn’t something he was given very often, seeing as how he was the God of Lies, and he’d forgotten how important it could be. “I assure you, I will be on my best behavior.”
Tony crossed his arms, leaning against the counter. “Okay, ground rules. You won’t leave the house without an escort. Other than your escort, one other Avenger will know where you’re going to be at all times. At least one other Avenger. Don’t touch my alcohol.” Tony nodded at his words, pointing at Loki. “That’s a big one. Don’t touch my stuff. Don’t break my stuff. That’s a no-no. Anything to add here, Thor?”
“I would advise against pranking, brother. We can revisit this rule once my friends are certain to laugh, but as it stands currently, they’re liable to kill you.”
“Right, that sounds good.” Tony agreed. “Uh…let’s see. I guess the biggest thing here is, just don’t be a dick. If I think of anything else, I’ll be sure to tell you. For now, I guess we should give you a room. And then call the team over for a little chat.”
Steve was the first to make a move after Tony finished speaking, nearly knocking over the coffee table that separated them. The team was gathered around on the couch as Tony explained the situation. “Do you hear yourself right now, Stark? Think about what you’re asking us to do!” The soldier said, fierce blue eyes shining with rage.
“I have thought about what I’m asking, Cap, and I think you guys need to trust me on this.”
Bruce cleared his throat, shaking his head. “I’m going to have to agree with Steve on this one, Tony. This is Loki we’re talking about. We have no way of knowing if he’s telling the truth or not, and I don’t know if I’d be comfortable having him so close to the team’s secrets. We’d be left vulnerable if he decided to go back to his old ways.”
Tony looked irritated, clenching his fists at his sides. “What about you, Clint? Any kind words to say?” he asked sarcastically.
“Actually…I wouldn’t mind that much. If he stayed here.” At these words, most of the team looked at him in shock. They were probably expecting him to be furious at Tony for even suggesting it, especially since all Loki had put him through. He appeared calm, though. “I mean, I’m not going to be his BFF, and there will be no sleepovers and painting each other’s nails. I’m just thinking…if he were to go back to being all evil, wouldn’t it be better to have him close by? I, for one, would be thrilled to have the opportunity to get first blood.”
Natasha, who’d been quiet until that point, uncrossed her legs and leaned forward. “Are you sure, Clint?” She asked quietly, barely loud enough for the rest of the team to hear. “You know what he did to you.”
“Yeah, and I’m not forgiving him.” Clint explained defensively. “I’d just rather have him under the watch of the six of us rather than having him in some dilapidated apartment complex where he could hurt innocents.”
“Well, that’s four against two.” Tony said, feeling very self-satisfied as he looked over at Bruce and Steve. “Anything to add to your arguments here, fellas?”
Steve didn’t look the least bit happy, but he knew when arguing was futile. “I expect him to be a model house mate if he’s going to be living here. He needs just as much responsibility as everyone else.”
“That can easily be arranged.” Thor agreed, the glimmer of hope once again returning to his eyes.
Bruce sighed, clearly resigned. “I don’t want him in my lab.” He said, referring to the R&D floor right underneath Tony’s. “I don’t particularly want him anywhere near me, but I’m willing to compromise.”
Tony nodded, rubbing his hands together. “I’m so happy we’re all able to agree on this. So, how about we bring in the guest of honor? Thor, would you go fetch your brother?” He was verging on panic-mode, if he was being honest with himself. His team—his friends—were putting their faith in him, and it would be his fault if any of them got hurt. It would be his stupidity that allowed it. He could only imagine the guilt he’d feel if he was woken one night by the screams of his friends as they were murdered. He severely hoped he was making the right choice.
Well, too late to go back now, in any case.
Thor re-entered the room, ushering Loki in front of him. The dark-haired brother looked uncomfortable being the center of attention, but he tried to keep his emotions masked. No one was pointing any weapons at him yet, so he counted that as a good thing. “You’re officially our house-mate.” Tony said, smiling weakly, though no one noticed. “Do you have anything to say that might make them feel a bit better about this situation?”
Loki cleared his throat, rubbing his arm awkwardly. “I truthfully do not wish for any trouble. I will attempt to stay out of everyone’s way, and I thank you for your reluctant hospitality.”
After that, the others filed out pretty quickly, choosing not to stay around for any small talk. Steve was the first to go, nodding at Tony on his way out. He was soon followed by Natasha and Clint who wanted to get some training in before the day was over. Bruce made the excuse that he had to check on a very important time-sensitive experiment, but at least had the courtesy to smile at Tony and the two gods before exiting.
“I feel that that went about as well as could have been expected.” Tony grumbled, falling backwards onto the couch, closing his eyes. His head was still killing him, and he mainly just wanted to take a few sleeping pills and jump right into bed.
“Thank you, again.” Loki said quietly, sitting in one of the recliner chairs. Tony didn’t have to open his eyes to know that he was sitting straight, looking like he belonged in a museum curator convention or something. “You didn’t have to do this. I would have blamed you if you’d turned me away.”
“Brother, I would have found accommodations for you.” Thor assured, setting Mjӧlnir on the floor beside his feet. “You would never have had to do this on your own.”
“And at least this way,” Tony added, “we can keep an eye on you. Make sure you aren’t doing any nefarious planning.”
There was a stretch of silence as Tony absorbed the situation. He was lying on his couch with a beast of a hangover, after just inviting a criminal, slash god, slash sorcerer into his home, in the company of two Asgardians, one of which was delighted and jubilant, and the other slightly less so.
Yes, the billionaire thought, his life was so full of fuck.
“Right,” he said, standing quickly and ignoring the head rush that came immediately afterwards, “I’m going to let you two have some brotherly bonding, uh, time, so I’ll be in my room if anyone needs me. Please, don’t need me.”
In the hallway, he ran a hand through his hair before he reached the elevator. “JARVIS, do you think I’m making a mistake?” he asked as the doors glided close.
Out of all calculated outcomes to this situation, it’s impossible for me to say, sir.
“Well that’s helpful.” Tony muttered. “JARVIS, I want to know when Loki leaves the premises, unless accompanied by me. Block his access from the R&D floors, with extra security on Bruce’s lab.”
Doing so as we speak, sir. Anything else?
“I suppose we’re going to have to call Fury at some point.” A groan. “No, scratch that. That’s something that needs to be done when I don’t feel like I’m dying from alcohol poisoning.”
The elevator doors slid open, and Tony made his way down the hall to his room. “To sleep or not to sleep?” He asked himself, eying the bed. It was only the afternoon, after all, and if he fell asleep now, his entire sleep schedule would be fucked.
Or, fucked-er than it already was.
He finally settled on taking out his tablet to edit some designs, leaning back against his headboard. However, his plans to not-sleep became harder and harder to stick to as his vision began to swim and his work began to blur. He realized he was fighting a losing battle and set his tablet aside, letting sleep take him.
Loki stared out of the window of the room he’d been given, trying to get over his pride. While he felt no hostility towards the mortals at this point, it was still hard to sink so low as to ask them for assistance. It was easy to see they weren’t very happy about it, either, and he couldn’t get over the feeling that he was intruding—that he was an unwanted addition. It felt too familiar to him. After all, he’d spent most of his life on Asgard feeling similar, if not in a more subtle way.
He thought back to when he’d fallen from the Bifrost and spent what had felt like an eternity drifting, powerless to stop. That’s when he arrived and took Loki in, making him feel accepted and useful. When he’d been asked to lead the Chitauri army and return with the Tesseract, he wasn’t in a very good state of mind, and he could only think of the people who should have loved him but had betrayed him. His father passed him over for the throne; Loki would show him how capable he was of ruling. Thor had shown certain affection for Earth; Loki would show him what it felt like to lose. And He had been so kind; it only seemed like the logical thing to do.
Retrospectively, Loki realized that there was a lot he’d overlooked simply for the satisfaction of being wanted. He felt ashamed—not only of himself and his actions, but for ever thinking the way he did when he first attacked Earth.
So he could honestly say that he wasn’t lying when he’d told Mr. Stark that he’d willingly take whatever punishment SHIELD had for him.
Well, except death. He wouldn’t be so cool with that and would probably (definitely) put up a fight.
There was a knock at the door and Loki turned from the window at the sound. “It’s unlocked.” He called, just loudly enough to be heard. He was expecting it to either be Thor or Tony, but he was surprised to see Captain Rogers instead. The soldier didn’t look particularly murderous, but that didn’t stop Loki from tensing visibly.
“I’m not here to beat you up.” Steve said, putting his hands up. “I just want to talk.”
“I’m not really in a position to refuse.” The god said, once again turning to the widow, putting his elbows on the edge. He felt Rogers do the same, but didn’t look over.
“You have to understand, we’ve spent far too much time trying to stop you and prevent you from killing any more people.” A bird flew across a backdrop of blue sky, and Steve paused, choosing his words carefully. “It’s hard for us to trust you. You’re the God of Lies. I’m here to tell you right now that if you are lying to us about reasons for staying here and you attempt to harm any one of my team mates, I won’t hesitate to kill you. You’re walking on thin ice here, but I…well, I’m willing to give you a chance. People can change. I know that more than anyone. Power corrupts, and Thor has told of stories of when you weren’t so, you know, evil. I’m willing to give you a second chance if you’re willing to give me your word that you won’t hurt anyone.”
Steve put his hand out and Loki took it hesitantly, unsure of whether or not it was a trick. “What’s the catch?”
“There is no catch. As long as you try to stay on your best behavior, I’ll try my best to keep my suspicions to a minimum.”
Steve smiled as he shook Loki’s hand, his entire demeanor different than it had been earlier. “You have my word that I shall be on my best behavior. As I told Agent Romanov earlier, I just want to earn my powers back and return to Asgard. I wish for no more trouble.”
“Sounds good.” The blond said, nodding. “I’ll send Thor to get you when dinner’s ready.”
Tony woke gradually, thanking all of the gods that his headache had diminished substantially. He yawned, stretching before hopping out of bed. “JARVIS, start the shower please.” He said through another yawn. The thing he hated most about taking naps in the middle of the day was the fact that it left him yawning and drowsy for a while afterwards.
Pulling his clothes off, Tony tossed them haphazardly around the bathroom before stepping into the shower. His head may have felt better, but he was still in the ‘shower-food-water-coffee’ stage of getting over his hangover. Sometimes he wondered why he didn’t just quit drinking alcohol.
But then he remembered: it’s alcohol.
After fifteen minutes of hot-water-bliss, he stepped out and grabbed a towel from the rack, wrapping it around his waist before making his way into his bedroom, shaking his hair slightly. He had just opened the top drawer of his dresser when his bedroom door opened.
Loki stepped in, plate of food in hand, not yet noticing the state of undress Tony was in. When he finally looked up, his face turned a bright shade of red and he immediately looked at anything else in the room, nearly dropping the plate. “I’m, uh, sorry, Mr. Stark.” He said, the words coming out in a rush. “Captain Rogers thought you would still be hung-over, so he told me to bring you some food so I’ll just, er, leave it here.” He set it on top of one of the shelves before practically fleeing the room, slamming the door behind him.
Tony couldn’t help but smirk, and he knew he’d never let Loki live it down, if only to see him turn that shade of red again. Maybe Loki would actually be kind of fun to live with. In a scary ‘we’ve-tried-to-kill-each-other’ kind of way.
Chapter 2: Shades of Black
In which Tony and Loki develop feels and Fury's fury is avoided.
Do you realize that this is the fastest chapter update that has ever happened to one of my fics?
It's because you guys are amazing and I love you.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
From Tony’s perch at the kitchen counter, he saw Loki sit down on the other side of the island, the light from the bulb above the stove casting a shadow over his face. “Yeah. I guess the same goes for you, huh?”
“I can’t stop thinking. I suppose too much has happened today.” Loki muttered. His long hair was ruffled in a few places, and he looked exhausted. Of course, Tony supposed, he would be too if their situations had been reversed.
“You know what sounds good? Cereal. You want some?” Tony asked suddenly, opening the bowl-cabinet. He set one out for himself and held another one up, looking at Loki for an answer. “Cereal is the best at 3 AM.”
“Sure, why not.”
The billionaire nodded and pulled a box of Reese’s Puffs out of another cupboard, pouring some for himself before handing the box to Loki as he grabbed the milk out of the fridge. The god looked at the box for a moment, not quite sure of the box’s contents. A look at Tony, who had already shoved several spoon-fulls into his mouth, seemed to convince him otherwise and he poured a small amount into his bowl. “So,” Tony started, swallowing, “I never knew all it took to make you run away was a little nakedness on my part. Should have tried that in the first place.”
Loki sputtered into his bowl and Tony mentally high-fived himself for his ability to make the god lose his composure so easily. A part of him felt bad because Loki had already been through a lot, but the other part of him was simply having too much fun. He usually listened to the fun part. “It-it was unexpected and I didn’t want to be rude.” The Asgardian explained quickly, trying to be nonchalant about eating his cereal. Instead, he just looked as though the cereal had personally offended him and he was getting his revenge by chomping it to smithereens.
Tony smirked, trying to hide it but failing horribly. “Right, okay,” he paused to suppress a laugh, sniffing to cover it. “But speaking of clothes, or lack thereof, you don’t have any, do you? Well, besides the ones you’re wearing right now.”
The Asgardian stopped chewing, furrowing his eyebrows as though this thought had just occurred to him. “Huh. I’ll just have to borrow some of Thor’s clothes for the time being.” Loki looked over at Tony to see the man giving him a skeptical look. “What?”
“No offense, but you’re kinda scrawny compared to your brother. I don’t think any of his clothes would fit you very well.”
“Then what do you suggest? Public nudity?”
Tony snorted, unable to hold back the laugh that followed. “Oh my god, let’s do that.” He said between giggles. “Can you even imagine Steve’s face?! It would make it all worth it. Yes, let’s go with that.” Loki raised an eyebrow, trying to look as though he wasn’t amused, but the corner of his lip was quirked upwards and he couldn’t hide the smile in his eyes. Finally, Tony stopped laughing at his own joke and shook his head as an attempt to regain composure. “As funny as that would be, though, I’ll just give Thor some money and he can take you shopping.”
“I don’t need your charity, Mr. Stark, I’m perfectly capable of-”
“It’s not charity. It’s…I don’t know, let’s call it a loan. I give you money for clothes, you pay me back later. And considering your only other options are A: borrow Thor’s clothes and look like a kid, B: Walk around naked (and while Steve’s face would probably make the whole thing worth it, I think someone, probably Natasha, would shoot you.) or C: wear the same clothes for the undetermined length of time you’re going to be here, I think this way would just work better.”
Loki looked as though he wanted to disagree, but he kept his mouth closed. Tony’s argument was difficult to counter (to which the billionaire would say something along the lines of “of course it’s difficult to counter, I’m Tony Stark. You can’t argue with me.”) but he truly didn’t want to be looked down upon because of his situation. He was still technically a god, thank you very much. He forced out a reluctant ‘thank you’ and shoved more Reese’s Puffs into his mouth, watching Tony out of the corner of his eye. He had to admit, the man was a lot more complicated than he’d originally believed, and he was coming to realize that Tony Stark had many more layers than met the eye. His first impression had been nothing good; the billionaire seemed like a self-serving, rebellious alcoholic at a first glance, and while that was still mostly true, he wasn’t that simple.
If he had been that simple, Loki probably wouldn’t be eating cereal with him at three in the morning.
“So, for the time being, you aren’t allowed in the laboratories. They’re nothing special, though, so I don’t think you’re missing much.” Tony explained as he placed his empty bowl in the sink, turning to look at the Asgardian, analyzing him. “And I’d recommend giving Bruce some space until he gets used to you. If he Hulked out on you in your current state, I think he’d break you.”
Loki scoffed, but he had to agree. “Duly noted.” He said. “Of course, I think I’ll be keeping my distance from most everyone. I can tell when I’m not desired.”
Tony tried his hardest to ignore the way he sympathized with Loki’s grief-strained voice. He knew how it felt to be stuck somewhere no one wanted you, and it wasn’t fun. “Hey, you have Thor. And me.” He added as an afterthought, thinking it was the considerate thing to say. He told himself to shut up before he said something stupid, but he didn’t think he could do anything stupider than he already had, considering how the previous afternoon had progressed. It could only get better from there, right? “And the others just need some time. As long as you’re honest with them, they’ll start to warm up to you after a while.”
Tony wondered, briefly, why he was acting so differently towards Loki and when it had started. He was still the sorcerer who had been the biggest pain in the ass to the Avengers and who, until recently, had been considered 100% evil. There are moments in life, though, where you learn something about a person that you had previously been in the dark about. This piece of knowledge can repaint a person, and suddenly you understand them more than you ever thought you’d be able to.
More than you ever wanted.
Tony hid a yawn behind his mouth and took a few steps away from the counter on which he was leaning. “Anyway, I’m going back to bed before the sun comes up.” He put a hand on Loki’s shoulder, trying to give him the best ‘it’s-going-to-be-all-right’ look as he could. “Just remember, Thor’s first experience on Earth consisted of getting hit with a van and then tazed. You’ve had it easy.”
The touch lingered longer than was strictly necessary, but Tony was gone before Loki could say something, leaving the god confused at the fluttery feeling he had in his stomach.
He blamed the strange Midgardian food he’d just consumed.
When Tony walked out to the kitchen later that morning, he was greeted by the sight of Steve making pancakes for the two resident Asgardians, actually smiling.
Oh god, he was smiling.
What had Loki done?
Slightly alarmed but keeping a poker face on, Tony grabbed a mug from the cabinet and poured himself a cup of coffee, trying to determine if Steve was under Loki’s control. He looked…normal. His eyes weren’t all glow-y, but it didn’t explain how he was able to be in a good mood around Loki. “Good morning, Tony.” He said, flipping a pancake. “Want some breakfast?”
“Thanks, but no, Cap. My breakfast consists of coffee, and sometimes even more coffee.” He took a sip of aforementioned beverage, leaning on the counter beside the stove. Narrowing his eyes, he looked over at Steve. “You’re in a largely better mood than you were yesterday. Anything I should know?” He avoided using any outright-accusatory statements considering Thor and Loki were only a few feet away, but the implications could be heard in his voice.
“Thor was just telling me about the first time he’d tried cooking with Jane.” The soldier said, smirking. “And how he’d almost set the entire stove on fire.”
Tony chuckled, but shook his head in disbelief. “Okay, new house rule: Thor and Loki aren’t allowed to use the stove without adult supervision.”
“From what I’ve heard, that rule should apply to you, too, Tony.” Steve said, pouring more batter into the pan, smirking.
“Pepper agreed to secrecy!!” Tony squeaked, slamming his coffee onto the counter. “I had no idea rice could be that flammable, and the curtains would never have caught fire if-”
Sir, you have a visitor. JARVIS chimed in, breaking Tony from his soon-to-be tirade.
“Is it Pepper? Because I need to have a word with her.” He muttered grumpily.
No, sir, it’s Director Fury. Should I let him in?
Tony froze, eyes immediately landing on Loki. “Shit. Okay, here’s what’s going to happen. Loki, you’re flexible, right? Good. Get into the pantry.” He grabbed Loki’s elbow, dragging him over to the pantry door and shoving him in, closing the door before the god had time to adjust. “Stay in there, and don’t make a sound! JARVIS, let Fury in. Steve and Thor, Loki was never here. We don’t say anything. There’s no way he even knows Loki’s here, unless someone told him, so we’ll be fine. Just play it cool. Offer him pancakes. Everybody likes pancakes.”
Tony took a seat where Loki had been previously, drinking his coffee while looking aloof as possible. “Good morning, Mr. Fury!” Thor boomed, smiling. Tony turned, trying to look a little bit surprised by the visit. And also trying to look as though he had nothing to be guilty about.
“Would you like some pancakes?” Steve offered cheerfully, holding out a plate.
“Do I look like I want pancakes, Captain Rogers?” Fury asked, crossing his arms. Steve set the plate down, looking away from Fury’s eye as quickly possible at the look the man had sent him. “I think you know why I’m here, so let’s cut the bullshit.”
“Look, I was going to call you just as soon as I could but he-”
Fury cut him off with a look. “I don’t think you understand the severity of this situation, Mr. Stark.”
“I understand that this is a very severe situation, Director, but I would appreciate it if you would just hear me out.” Tony crossed his arms, meeting Fury’s eye.
“I’m sure you’re already aware of the questionable press the Avengers, and by extension SHIELD, have been getting, and if you keep this up, we’re going to have to go to drastic measures.”
“But he’s already here, and-”
Fury raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, what?”
Tony felt panic rise in his chest, officially lost. “I’m sorry, but I think there’s been a misunderstanding. Refresh my memory, why are you here?”
“I’m here to talk to you about the fact that the journalist for the New York Times has been trying to get a hold of you for a week now, but has been consistently blown off.” His eyes narrowed suspiciously. “But now I’m interested. What were you talking about?”
He could still save this situation. He’d never mentioned Loki. Everything was okay. They didn’t have to have this conversation.
Tony was about to say something when there were some crashing noises in the pantry and a string of incredibly colorful language went through his mind. “Excuse me for a moment.” He said, walking over to the pantry and slipping inside as though it was the most natural thing in the world to do. “What do you think you’re doing?!” he whispered harshly, ignoring the fact that Loki was practically pressed right up against him. He felt one of the shelves jutting into his ribs but ignored it, feeling his heart pounding in his head.
“I’m so sorry that you seem to have an inability to stack your junk food properly.” Loki whispered back, just as abrasively, trying to move his elbow to a more comfortable position but knocking over a few more things in the process.
“We were so close to being safe here, but now-”
The pantry was suddenly flooded with light and Tony and Loki looked over simultaneously to see Fury holding the door open, scowling. Steve stood behind him, looking as though he was on the verge of a panic attack, a hand held over his mouth as he looked frantically from the occupants of the pantry to the SHIELD director. Thor had obviously gone to reach for Fury’s shoulder, but missed, his arm slowly returning to his side.
There was a long stretch of silence as Fury stared at the two in the pantry, his face emotionless. Tony just tried his best not to look like a deer in headlights, but he couldn’t tell how good of a job he was doing.
And if he looked like a timid kitten, well, who could blame him? Nick Fury is one scary motherfucker.
And the whole ‘mega-poker-face’ was actually a lot scarier than if he was outright angry. At least if he was obviously angry, Tony knew what to expect and how to react. With this, he had no clue. He could be thinking of dozens of different ways to kill them without getting caught. Tony didn’t even have his suit with him.
“Mr. Stark, would you care to explain to me why there is a war criminal in your pantry?”
“He came free with the remodeled countertops?” Tony asked weakly, wishing he wasn’t stuck in a corner. Fury didn’t say anything, and the playboy sighed, knowing when it was time to spill the truth. “He was sent here by his father. He’s powerless, he wants to make up for everything, and he’s staying here.”
“I don’t think that’s your decision to make, Mr. Stark. Loki’s current status would allow me to take him into custody without question, putting him away without a trial.”
“I understand that his status gives you the right to do all that stuff, but I’m saying that I’m not going to let you take him.”
“You don’t have that authority.”
Tony stood up straighter, feeling Fury’s height advantage. “I may not have the authority, but after all I’ve done for SHIELD, I should think I’ve earned a bit of trust from you guys. So trust me when I say Loki isn’t going to do anything evil while under the Avengers’ watch. I’ll make sure of it.”
“I must agree with the Man of Iron, Director Fury.” Thor said, stepping towards them. “Loki can learn, and would it not be better to have him on our side than in prison? He would be a powerful ally in the future.”
Fury was quiet for a long moment, but he wasn’t going for a gun, so Tony felt that he wasn’t going to get shot in the immediate future. That was probably a good thing. Finally, the perpetually angry man breathed out quietly, his glare remaining steadfast. “You are the most idiotic genius I’ve ever met, Mr. Stark, and I will be holding you personally responsible if anything goes wrong. I want constant updates. Should you fail to keep me updated, I’m going to be forced to assume the worst and take whatever measures I find necessary. Do you understand me?”
Tony nodded, looking a lot more confident than he felt. “It’s clear is crystal, Nick.” He said, just to get under the man’s skin. Which probably wasn’t a good idea, but when had he ever passed up a chance to piss off Fury?
“And also, if you don’t get in touch with that journalist, I will shoot you in the foot. Get on it.”
Turning on his heel, Fury made his way out of the room without even a second glance, leaving the remaining men to figure out what had just happened. “Does anyone else feel like that man just needs to take some yoga classes and go on a long vacation?” Tony breathed finally, squeezing his way out of the pantry to chug the rest of his now-lukewarm coffee. “I have to wonder if he had his name legally changed to ‘Fury’, because it fits him a little too well.”
“That went…well.” Steve muttered as he scraped some burned bits of pancake into the trash. He’d been paying too much attention to the argument at hand and too little attention to the food cooking on the stove.
“Loki, I’m telling you right now that if you make me regret doing this, I’m going to make you regret ever coming here.”
“I told you I would take whatever punishment he had to give me!” Loki said defensively. “You didn’t need to do that. I would have gone with him without a fight.”
“Yeah, well. I wanted to. It’s done. Be thankful.” With a sigh, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, taking out his credit card and handing it to Thor. “Go with your brother and buy some clothes.”
“Do you think that’s the best idea, Tony?” Steve asked, pulling him aside.
“Loki promised us that he’d be on his best behavior and-”
“No, I’m talking about Thor.” Steve explained quickly with a glance at Loki, who was raising an eyebrow at the two. “In case you’re forgotten, last time Thor was trusted with clothes shopping by himself, he bought that hideous Hawaiian shirt.”
Oh, right. Tony remembered that shirt. He made Thor promise to never wear it in public under any circumstances. “You have a good point there, Cap.” He agreed. Unfortunately, that left him to go shopping with Loki. And if he was honest with himself, he didn’t want to find himself growing closer to the god than necessary. Resigned to his fate, he snatched the credit card from Thor, replacing it in his wallet. “Okay, new plan. I have to buy some…stuff, so I’ll go shopping with Loki.”
Tony was sitting across from Loki in the food court, asking himself why he thought it was a good idea to bring the Asgardian to a shopping mall. It was like taking a five year old to Toys-R-Us with a built in candy mart. Loki was in awe of everything, but Tony had to count his blessings that he hadn’t started yelling and attacking things like Thor had. He was too sober for that kind of thing.
Loki took a sip of his fruit smoothie, trying to observe everything that was going on around him. “We don’t have anything like this on Asgard.” He said absently in Tony’s direction. “Everyone is in such a hurry.”
Tony looked around as well, taking in all the sights. “I guess a lot of people have strict agendas.”
The billionaire let Loki finish his smoothie in silence, drinking his own cup of Starbucks coffee. His attention remained mostly on the man sitting across from him, watching the way the god’s hair fell in his face. When the god finally finished, Tony couldn’t be more thankful and they made their way through the crowd, sunglasses concealing their identity. Not that many people noticed them, anyway. They were far too busy herding their children around or convincing their lovers to spend massive amounts of money on them.
- Soon, Loki felt himself pulled into one of the stores, looking over at Tony. “Go find things you like. Actually, no, let me rephrase that: find things that look casual that you like. Nothing too fancy. By that I mean, I will set anything made out of leather, metal, and that looks like it belongs on Asgard on fire. Got it?”
“Um…” Loki looked around, unsure of himself, but nodding slightly anyway. “Where do I start?”
Tony sighed under his breath, but smiled, motioning for Loki to follow him over to a shirt display. It was like he was chaperoning an elementary schooler. “See something you like, and go to the changing room to try it on.”
Loki nodded, though he looked unsure still, and Tony went over to a bench near the dressing rooms. After about ten minutes he noticed Loki’s head peek out of one of the stalls. “Tony?” He asked timidly.
“Yeah?” Tony asked, looking over.
“I’m, uh…stuck.” Tony blinked a few times. “Help?”
Trying not to laugh while simultaneously facepalming, he stood and made his way over to Loki’s stall, where he slipped in quickly. The god was essentially shirtless, with the shirt he’d just tried on hanging from his hair where a button had been caught.
And no, Tony did not take the opportunity to check Loki out.
Not at all.
Though, he had to admit that Loki was pretty hot.
In a completely ‘I’m not even interested because he’s straight and evil and not human’ kind of way.
Drawing his lips together in an attempt to look as serious as he could, Tony began untangling the button, wondering how it was even possible to get something that tangled in such a short amount of time. He would have suspected magic under different circumstances. “You have got to be kidding.” He muttered as his efforts seemed to make the tangle worse. “Well, at least we’re even now.” Loki reddened visibly at this comment, but Tony was too focused on the button. Finally, after some internal cursing, he pulled the shirt free, handing it to Loki. As he did so, he caught their reflection in the mirror and his breath nearly caught in his throat as he locked eyes with the taller man, hand still grasping the shirt. A few long moments passed as they held eye contact, but Tony finally forced himself to look away, backing up towards the door. This was not a situation he wanted to be in, because he was likely to do something he’d regret. “Right, so, you know not to do that again. Be careful. I’m just going to, uh, go do stuff. Find me when you have a few things you want.”
Nope. Tony did not just have an almost-moment with Loki. He practically fell out of the dressing room, deciding that he needed a shirt. Desperately. He didn’t even care what color or style it was, he just needed to look at all the shirts and pick one so he could think about shirts and not about shirtless Loki.
He’d been browsing for a while when he finally saw Loki approaching him, several pairs of pants and shirts in his arms. He grabbed the first decent looking shirt in his size and they made their way to the cashier where Tony handed over his credit card without even looking at how much it all cost. He just wanted to go home and talk to Pepper and maybe drink a lot of alcohol.
Yes, alcohol was a very good idea.
Loki looked at himself in the mirror of his bathroom, adjusting the green button-down shirt Tony had bought for him. The same one that had gotten caught in his hair, but he tried not to hold a grudge. It wasn’t horrible, he decided, even if it was a Midgardian style. It was better than the clothes he’d shown up in, to say the least. Looking into his own eyes, he couldn’t help recall the earlier events in which Tony had helped him with the shirt.
He sighed at the thought of Tony, feeling guilty for all the man had done for him. He knew it wasn’t his fault, but the human had been kinder than he had to be, and Loki felt as though he didn’t deserve it. He knew he didn’t deserve it. In a way, he had wanted Nicholas Fury to arrest him and put him in jail because he hoped it would alleviate some of the overwhelming guilt he felt at the thought of all the trouble he’d caused. But Tony still took him in. He should have been mad—furious, even—at the audacity Loki showed even showing up at their doorstep.
But he continued to surprise the god with his actions.
There was a knock at his door and he turned off the bathroom light, walking across the carpet to open it. Thor smiled brightly at the sight of his brother in new clothes, giving him a once-over before clapping him on the shoulder. “Steve would like to know if you would like to assist him with the dinner preparations.” The younger brother nodded hesitantly, feeling that everyone was putting too much trust in him. He had the perfect opportunity to poison them all, if he wanted to. He supposed, however, that Captain Rogers planned it that way.
“I have missed this, brother.” Thor said finally, looking sincerely over to his brother when they reached the elevator.
Loki tugged at his sleeve awkwardly, not entirely ready to give up his pride and apologize to his brother. “I’ve missed it, too.” He said quietly, staring at the floor.
It’s not that he was still mad at Thor. He’d essentially gotten over all of his hostile feelings, even though he still felt inadequate compared to his brother. A lot of that was no fault of the blond, though, and fell instead on the fact that Loki simply looked down on himself because of what he was. He could still remember the good times he’d experienced with his brother, and he was no longer angry. He only wished he could change who he was so that maybe he could stop hating himself so much.
Thor seemed to understand Loki’s silence, and the two made their way into kitchen where Steve was waiting, reading the back of a Hamburger Helper box. He smiled when the gods entered, handing a knife out to Loki. “Help me cut the veggies?”
“Peppperrrrrrrrr.” Tony whined into the cell phone he was holding against his ear with his shoulder, rotating some blueprints on his tablet. “That’s not fair. You know that’s not the answer I wanted.”
“Tony, you sometimes have to accept the fact that the answer you get isn’t always the one you want. There’s no sense in me telling you what you do or do not feel.”
“When become so not-fun?”
“Since you ran off with the Avengers and gave me your company.” Pepper said seriously.
“Oh. Right. I’ll take you out for coffee sometime to make it up to you, I promise. Oh, that reminds me, how are you and what’s-his-face doing?”
“Jude and I are doing quite well, and I’m happy to see that you were able to move on so quickly.”
Tony scoffed, setting his tablet aside and switching the phone to his other ear. “Me asking about some emotions that I may or may not be feeling doesn’t say anything about whether or not I’ve moved on.”
“Riiiiight.” Pepper didn’t sound convinced. “So tell me, what’s her name?”
“I never said anything about a ‘her’.”
“So then what’s his name?” the playboy made an undefinable noise, but Pepper just laughed. “Tony. I was your assistant years before we started dating. I know a few things.”
“I just…” Tony paused, trying to figure out the right words. “Starting a relationship with this person, who shall remain unnamed, would be impossible. For starters, they’re straight. At least, I’m pretty sure they’re straight. That’s not even the main issue, though. Dating this person would probably be frowned upon by a lot of people, and not because he’s a man. And I don’t even know if this is just one of my impulsive decisions or not and I just…ugh. I need alcohol in my system.”
Pepper sighed from the other end of the line and Tony could hear somebody talking to her. “Look, Tony, at this point you should be able to differentiate between feelings you have for a one night stand and feelings. Just…I don’t know, talk to him or something. I have to get to a meeting, so I’ll talk to you later. I’m going to hold you to that coffee date.”
“Have fun, Pep.” Tony said, pressing the ‘end call’ button before letting the phone fall onto his bed. He just had to get assurance that Loki was straight, and then he’d be able to get over this tiny infatuation and move on. It was simple, really. The most complicated part would be actually finding a way to get the information without looking suspicious.
It shouldn’t have even been a problem, Tony scolded himself. Loki was…well, Loki. He’d killed people. Then again, so had Tony, even if it was unintentional. He once again found himself coming to the conclusion that they weren’t so different; that Loki maybe wasn’t as evil as he seemed to be at first glance. And that was a dangerous thought, indeed, because once he let himself think that he realized that what Loki probably needed was love and acceptance.
Nope. That train of thought had to be stopped right there.
Tony launched himself off his bed, wishing he’d bought more alcohol when he was shopping. Reality was closing in on him, and he really didn’t appreciate those thoughts.
Somehow, Tony managed to be the last one to arrive at the dinner table, getting stuck with the last open seat.
Which, of course, was right across from Loki.
The god in question looked rather uncomfortable to be sitting at a table with all of the Avengers, and he kept his head down for the most part, seemingly trying to disappear. If he had his magic, Tony was pretty sure he would disappear. Clint was talking about some TV show he was in the middle of, but Tony was busy tuning him out, thoughts turning to devising a scheme that would allow him to find out Loki’s sexuality. He was narrowing it down to sneaking gay porn into the Asgardian’s room when Natasha elbowed him in the side. He looked up abruptly, his train of thought completely derailed. “Huh?”
“You still with us, Stark?” The red-head asked. “You look like you’re dangerously close to a comatose state.”
“No, I was just, uh, thinking. About suit repairs. Lots of brainstorming and such.” He said, realizing that he’d nearly finished his food. Talk about ‘space case’. He glanced over at Loki, who was looking at him with a weird mix of concern and interest and he looked away quickly, ignoring the way he stopped breathing for a moment. He really had to fix that. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head.
The idea slowly evolved into a scheme.
A horribly, terribly, devious scheme.
“So,” He said, looking at the table’s occupants, “Anyone up for a movie?”
Next chapter will hopefully be up in a couple days, but I still have some school work to do, so that /may/ get in the way, but I'll probably put it off until last minute and work on this.
Chapter 3: Movie Nights and Jealous Enemies
In which the team watches a scary movie, Tony gets yelled at, and the plot thickens.
So there are a ton of people who I need to thank for helping me with this chapter. Melon and Kitty-Bane who let me bounce idea off of them and just be a fangirl in general. Nick, who was my real-life motivation who yelled at me for leaving the last chapter on a cliffhanger. And, of course, everyone who read/reviewed/etc, because I guarantee this wouldn't have been up until next week without you guys.
This chapter literally kicked my ass.
I played 90 games of solitaire in order to avoid writing.
I had 4 rough drafts, which I scrapped.
But I finally got it the way I like it, and I hope you like it, too!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony liked to think of himself as a genius when it came to a lot of things—engineering, charm, physics, robotics, etc—but he definitely considered this plan among the huge list of his greatest accomplishments. He almost couldn’t suppress a devious grin as the rest of the team and Loki made their way into the living room.
The plan was almost painfully simple. They were going to watch a scary movie. House of Wax, to be more precise. Loki, clearly, would end up scared out of his wits because he was unaccustomed to Midgardian films and Tony, ever the knight in shining Iron Man armor, would be there to comfort him. He would see how far he could push things based off of Loki’s reactions. And pushing boundaries was something he did oh-so well. Tony, Loki, and Clint sat on the couch, with the Asgardian in the middle. The archer didn’t look particularly happy about it, but it was a choice between the couch and the floor, and his decision had been made. Natasha had claimed the recliner chair, leaning back and putting her feet up, looking for the entire world like she owned the place. Of course, being the only woman on the team, she had a right to that attitude. Bruce, Thor, and Steve made themselves comfortable on the floor and Tony was having a hard time keeping a straight face at seeing how unsuspecting everyone was. “JARVIS, lights please.”
The lights dimmed until the room was almost completely black and Tony pressed the play button on the remote, sneaking a glance over at Loki as he did so. He still felt entirely unsure about his own feelings, but if everything went horribly wrong, he could at least blame the fact that he flirted with everyone. It was strange, really. He didn’t do infatuation. He did one night stands. The last real relationship he’d been in was with Pepper, but it had ended with a stupid remark on his part to which Pepper responded with throwing a container of yogurt at his face. She’d apologized later, but it was over between them, and it was for the better, Tony thought. She needed someone who she didn’t work for; she needed to separate work and pleasure.
Tony did lust, not love.
And lust just didn’t work with the brother of one of your teammates, who happened to be evil and also not human.
However, the playboy knew the difference between lust and actual feelings, and he like stopping actual feelings in their tracks. They led to pain. All the same, it was a lot easier to differentiate between love and lust when he could determine if he even had a chance.
About ten minutes into the movie, Tony leaned over. “Just tell me if it gets too scary for you and if you need a hand to hold.” He whispered, smirking at the sharp intake of breath that followed. That was a point on his scoreboard.
Things happened in the movie. Steve left the room to get popcorn when the first sex scene appeared, looking awkwardly away from the screen during the second. Poor Rogers and his delicate sensibilities. Tony subtly put an arm around Loki, making it look like he was resting his arm on the back of the couch. Clint tried not to look disgusted.
Loki, though, didn’t seem to be bothered by Tony’s touch. Or he was just too enthralled by the movie to notice. Either way, Tony wasn’t letting himself get too comfortable with the idea the Loki was okay with it because that went against his plan. His plan, which he had officially named ‘Operation: Loki is Straight’, included making sure the god wasn’t going to reciprocate any feelings. The playboy wasn’t calculating any other outcome into the mix; he wasn’t prepared for what would happen if Loki was okay with everything.
Throughout the first half of the movie, the playboy inched over until their knees were barely touching, keeping his focus on the screen the entire time. Loki was either really, really into the movie or he had a non-existent personal space bubble, because he wasn’t even reacting. Whatever. Tony totally wasn’t enjoying every sweet moment.
In the movie, the main character was running away from the bad guy and the music was building up, and nobody spoke a word. Tony took the opportunity to drop his hand slightly, rubbing absentminded circles into Loki’s shoulder. Even if the god was going to say something in response, he wouldn’t have been able to, because three things happened all at once.
First, the main character in the movie let out a shrill screech as the music built to a crescendo.
Second, a hand was placed on Clint’s shoulder.
Third, the archer screamed like a little girl, startling Steve, who then spilled popcorn all over the carpet and Thor’s lap.
“JARVIS, lights!” Tony yelled, Loki all but forgotten. He launched himself to his feet, prepared to fight, but relaxed when he saw that it was only Pepper. Unfortunately, the woman was looking down at the black-haired Asgardian sitting on the couch, looking ready to kill.
“Tony!!” She yelled, pointing. “Loki’s on the couch!”
“Yes, Pepper I know that, just listen to me for a mo-”
She didn’t even hear him, swinging her purse back in order to hit Loki. Because that would clearly do so much damage.
Tony hurried to the back of the couch just as she swung, taking the brunt of the attack. Being as gentle as possible, he grabbed her wrist and held her arm still in an attempt to calm her down. “Pep. Hey, Pepper, listen to me. I know that there’s a,” surprisingly attractive “war criminal on the couch, but we know. It’s cool. Let’s just calm down here and put the purse down. Can we do that?” Carefully, he let Pepper’s wrist go, poised to grab her again if necessary.
She just glared harshly at the playboy, looking ready to kill. “Tony, can I talk to you in the kitchen please?” She asked, her voice calm.
But the calm was scary.
The calm didn’t hide the acid that Pepper’s voice contained, ready to destroy Tony at any moment.
The billionaire, knowing full well what was coming, just followed Pepper into the next room quietly.
Once in the kitchen, Tony made a beeline to the fridge, deciding that he couldn’t face this conversation without alcohol. Reaching the very back, he pulled out a bottle of Kahlua and removed the cap, taking a swig. “So, to what do I owe this joyous visit?” he asked cheerily.
Pepper took a breath in, trying to find her inner peace. “Tony, am I the only one who thinks it’s kind of…weird, for Loki to be on your couch?”
Tony pretended to think for a moment, tapping his fingers on the glass bottle in front of him. After a moment, he nodded slowly. “Nooo, I’m pretty sure everyone finds it pretty weird. Even I do, to be honest. But it’s not too bad.”
“So you’re obviously aware of the situation, but do you mind explaining to me why?!”
“Because, Pepper, he’s mortal right now. That’s what Odin decided as his punishment. As soon as he’s earned his powers back, he’s gone.” No, that thought didn’t make Tony a little bit sad. That would be crazy.
“And you’re just letting him live here?! Do you realize how easy it would be for him to kill you?” Pepper’s voice was frantic, but at least she wasn’t yelling.
“I’m getting really tired of people questioning my judgment. Yes, I know how easy it would be for him to kill us, but I trust that he won’t.”
“Tony, you’re acting like…” She stopped, head snapping up as though something had just occurred to her. Which, it had. “Oh my god, when you called me earlier you were talking about…no, no, no, Tony, what are you thinking?!”
Tony groaned inwardly at his assistant’s excessive use of his name, wishing she hadn’t chosen that night to show up unexpectedly. His plan had been going so well. “Let’s not have this conversation right now, Pep. Please? I understand that it’s all kinds of stupid and that I’d probably be better off sleeping with different women every night, but I don’t care. And it’s not like it matters anyway, because I know it won’t happen. So let’s not do this right now. Please.” Tony took a few sips of his booze, wishing that he could just sink into the floor. He loved Pepper, really, but she wasn’t going to accept this. And having this conversation in the middle of the kitchen where anyone, including Loki, could walk in made him nervous.
“I have to ask,” she said seriously, “Are you possessed? Did Loki possess all of you and now you’re his minions? Because I honestly can’t even fathom why else you would let him live with you. Does S.H.I.E.L.D. know about this?”
“No, Pepper, I’m not possessed. No one else is either. And yes, Fury stopped by yesterday. Loki isn’t evil anymore.”
“You can’t know that, Tony. He could be waiting for the perfect opportunity to take you all out at once and you’re just…you’re giving it to him.” Pepper looked and sounded distressed, as though having Loki as a house mate was the absolute worst thing that could ever happen in the world.
Tony shook his head, focusing on his alcohol for a few long moments. Pepper wasn’t wrong. But he knew Loki’s personality, and he highly doubted that the god would ever willingly put himself into the situation at hand. He didn’t think he was in any immediate danger. “I know you don’t understand this, and I don’t expect you to. But I’m asking you to trust me. I’m taking responsibility for everything that might happen.”
Pepper looked reluctant, biting her lip as she tapped her nails on the counter. “Fine. But when you get your arc reactor torn out of your chest by him, I’m not going to be here to put you back together.”
The team had continued the movie after Tony and Pepper had their conversation in the kitchen, after which Pepper left without saying anything, and Loki knew it had been about him. As Tony returned to the couch, the god glanced up at him, seeing the way his forehead was crinkled and the downward quirk of his lips. Loki felt a bit guilty, knowing for a fact that he was the one causing all of the stress and worry. He couldn’t blame anyone for being suspicious of him, because he would be, too. But Tony…Tony didn’t have to be so adamant about standing up for him.
Loki’s eyes were on the TV screen, but his mind was far, far away. As he began to doze off, he didn’t do anything to stop himself. Someone would wake him up once the movie ended, he figured, and he could go to his own room to sleep.
“Should we wake them up?”
Natasha, Clint, and Steve were staring down at the couch where Tony and Loki had fallen asleep, curled around each other. “Tony would probably want that.” Steve said, without much conviction in his voice.
“Yep.” Clint agreed, crossing his arms with a smirk. “The couch isn’t very comfortable to sleep on.”
Natasha chuckled as she pulled her phone out of her pocket, snapping a couple pictures before replacing it and turning to her teammates. “Let’s get them a blanket. We wouldn’t want them to get cold, now would we?”
Tony woke up to the scent of Axe and some sort of spice, feeling a body pressed close to his. His joints protested as he tried to stretch, and he felt panic rise in his chest momentarily before he remembered where he was. And who was with him. Knowing that he wasn’t in some sort of life-threatening situation should’ve comforted him to some extent, but a new bout of panic rose for completely different reasons.
Their legs were tangled together and Loki was half on top of him, thankfully still asleep. Tony’s mind was screaming ‘too close, too close, too close,’ because Loki was a few inches away from nuzzling the playboy’s neck and it felt amazing in a completely panic-filled way. Setting his resolve to escape the room before the other occupant of the couch woke up, Tony began inching Loki off of him. When he finally was able to move, he launched himself to the floor, but just as freedom seemed to be within his grasp, his leg got caught in the blanket someone had draped over them and he went tumbling to the floor. He landed with a loud thud, and he barely missed attacking the coffee table with his face. Muttering a few of his favorite curses, he rolled over onto his back and looked up at Loki, who was miraculously still asleep. Carefully, he freed his leg and used the coffee table to help him to his feet, determined to leave the room before anything else could go wrong.
The only thing Tony’s plan had succeeded in doing was making the feelings worse and discovering that his teammates would leave him to sleep with someone who could easily kill him in his sleep.
Not that he believed Loki would actually kill him, just as he’d assured Pepper. But the possibility was still there, and he would have expected Bruce, at the very least, to be a bit more cautious.
And okay, maybe he was just bitter about the fact that his plan had blown up in his face. The results of Operation: Loki is Straight were entirely inconclusive and he was realizing that Loki wasn’t going to leave his mind without a fight. Thinking about it, he felt his frustrations grow as he tried to rationalize with himself. Yes, Loki was attractive. He might even go as far as to call the god gorgeous, but that was a fact accepted by everyone, however reluctantly that may be. But Loki’s hotness didn’t change the fact that Tony had been thrown out of a window by the man.
This man had destroyed half of New York.
This man had taken and destroyed so many lives.
Orders or not, that wasn’t something that could magically change. Tony Stark, the Merchant of Death, knew this all too well.
Still, Loki wasn’t just a criminal. Tony would love it if he could lead himself to believe that bad guys were some unfeeling creatures whose only goal in life was evil, but the truth was, it wasn’t black and white. People had reasons for doing what they do, whether it be revenge, greed, or justice. Loki did, too, and that made everything so much more difficult.
Stepping lightly, Tony made his way into the kitchen. He tried to pop his back a few times, but gave up, deciding that the couch was probably one of the worst places to fall asleep. And he’d fallen asleep in a lot of uncomfortable locations. Natasha was standing by the toaster, newspaper in hand, and she glanced up briefly as the billionaire walked in. “Sleep well?” she asked. The amusement was so clear in her voice, and Tony didn’t doubt that she had a few hi-res photos of the entire incident, which she would use as blackmail if he ever did something to offend her.
“Fuck you.” Tony muttered, but it held no real hostility. It was too early and he wasn’t caffeinated well enough to be witty. Although, he didn’t really want to put effort into being witty around his traitorous teammates.
“Well, Sleeping Beauty certainly has some attitude issues in the morning.” The assassin said, folding the paper as her waffles popped from the toaster. She set them on a plate, propping her elbow on the counter as she looked at Tony. “We figured one of you would wake up sooner or later and tell the other one to go away.” She explained after a moment.
Tony took a sip of his freshly poured coffee, giving her a skeptical look. “Right. Because it certainly didn’t have anything to do with possible future blackmail.”
This earned a shrug. “I see an opportunity and I take it. Besides, you two looked comfortable. I don’t see what’s bothering you so much.”
“You don’t see what’s bothering me? Natasha, it’s Loki.” Tony shook his head in disbelief for a moment before realizing something. “Wait…you did that as revenge, didn’t you? I make you live with him, you make it easier for him to kill me.”
“I thought you were sure he wasn’t going to do anything of the sort.”
The billionaire took a calming breath, fist clenching and unclenching at his side. Of course he knew Loki wouldn’t kill him. They were past that. But Tony wasn’t about to tell Natasha the real reason he was so irked. “But you don’t think I’d like to keep at a safe distance? Nat, if Loki had decided to go back to his evil ways last night, all he would have had to do is pull this out of my chest!” He tapped his arc reactor a couple times to make his point, remembering the conversation he’d had with Pepper the night before. “There’s a difference between keeping him at an arm’s length and handing him my life on a silver platter.”
There was a shuffling at the door and Tony turned to see Loki fleeing down the hall.
Taking a sip of his coffee, Tony turned back to Natasha and tried not to look as though he wanted to stop the Asgardian. He wanted to, though. Natasha tore off a piece of waffle and put it in her mouth, quirking an eyebrow at him. Her eyebrows could tell stories. She didn’t even have to say anything for people to know what she was trying to communicate to them. It was part of what made her such a good teammate and assassin. “What?” Tony asked.
“Aren’t you going to go talk to him?”
“And why would I do that?”
“Because you just offended him, and I’m pretty sure no one else is going to do it. You never know. He could set something on fire out of anger.”
“I…” Tony really had nothing to say to that. He didn’t want to offend Loki, but at the same time, he didn’t really want to go apologize. If the god was mad at him, it would effectively put a stop any feelings that the playboy was having. You can’t fall for a person you never speak to. “Fine.” He muttered finally, setting his coffee cup on the counter. Then, after a moment of deliberation, he took a few more gulps and slammed the cup down, turning down the hallway.
Loki should have seen it coming. He hadn’t given Tony any reason besides his word to trust him, and he scolded himself for thinking the man didn’t suspect him. Tony may have been the most supportive of the Avengers besides Thor, but that was the thing. He was still an Avenger. They were enemies. The god sat down on the edge of his bed, telling himself it didn’t hurt; that what Tony thought didn’t bother him.
Even the God of Lies had issues lying to himself.
He’d taken too much, he chastised. When he’d woken up in the middle of the night to find the human by his side, he should have left. He should have woken Tony up and they could have laughed it off and gone to their separate rooms. But when he’d woken up to the warmth he felt…
He felt like maybe he finally wouldn’t be pushed away.
Groaning, he pushed his face into a pillow, wishing he could be back on Asgard where he’d gotten used to the fact that people pushed him away.
After a few minutes, there was a knock on the door, but he ignored it.
“Can I come in?” Tony called.
Loki removed the pillow from his face and turned his back to the door. “It’s your house; you can do whatever you wish.”
A sigh could be heard. “Would you mind if I came in?”
“I actually get a say in things? I was under the impression that you wanted to distance yourself from me.”
Loki hesitated for a moment before relenting. It’s not as though he had much choice in the matter. “Fine.”
He didn’t bother turning to the door as it opened, closing quietly soon after. Tony sat on the other edge of the bed so that their backs were facing each other. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. What I said to Natasha was true, but I didn’t mean it. I know that you don’t want to kill me. I just…” he ran a hand through his hair, sighing. He had no clue how he was going to explain this one away. “They still think you’re evil, at least somewhat. And I feel entitled to at least a little bit of anger over the fact that they would leave me with someone they thought could kill me, regardless of my feelings on the issue.”
Loki didn’t say anything.
“And I’m always irritable in the morning anyway, so.” Tony felt like he was losing the battle, fidgeting slightly at his sides. He felt Loki’s weight shift at the other side of the bed and looked over his shoulder to see the god standing and walking around the edge to stand in front of the playboy.
“Why am I irritable?”
“Why are you trying to convince me that you’re okay with me staying here? That you don’t…despise the thought of having me under your roof? I don’t understand you, Tony Stark. You don’t have to continue lying to me.”
Tony looked up to meet Loki’s eyes just as the god turned away. He’d seen the shimmer of tears, though, and he immediately felt like he was in way over his head. “I’m not lying!” he said, standing. “You may not understand me, Loki, but I understand you. Or, what you went through, anyway. I know how it feels to have a father who pushes you away. I know what that’s like, okay? I can relate to you and I can see…I can see things from your side.” He reached for Loki’s shoulder, turning him around so they were facing each other. “If you had wanted to kill me, you’d have already had the chance to do so. Several times.”
“I threw you out a window.” Loki reminded him quietly.
Tony smiled. “I punched you in the face. Out of those two situations, which one of us lost the most blood?”
Loki didn’t say anything, but tried to hide a slight smile by drawing his lips together. Slowly, Tony brought his hand up to the god’s chest, right above his heart. Or, where he assumed his heart would be. Loki wasn’t exactly human.
“I don’t trust you entirely. I can’t lie to you and say that I’d believe whatever you told me, but I know how to tell when someone’s telling the truth. I know that you aren’t going to trick us. I think it’s safe to say that you learned from your mistakes, just like I learned from mine. So, no, I’m not lying when I say that I’m okay with you being here. Because I am.”
Tony didn’t move his hand. They stood like that for a few moments, just looking at each other. Tony’s mind was yelling at him to stop and put distance between them because he still had no clue what was going through Loki’s mind. Opening his mouth to say something, he was suddenly cut off when his phone began to ring. “Hello?” He answered, finally able to tear his eyes away from the Asgardian in front of him.
“Suit up. We have a situation.”
Tony stiffened, shoving his phone back in his pocket. “Duty calls. Don’t leave the house.” He said quickly, rushing out of the room and to the elevator. Relief spread through him as he realized the situation he’d just been in and how it could have gone horribly, grossly wrong.
Tony arrived on the scene just as Steve dodged a bullet from a HYDRA agent, ducking behind his shield. “What do we have here, Cap?”
Hawkeye took out one of the agents behind Thor just as Steve knocked one in the head. “HYDRA agents.” Obviously. “They broke into that building over there, but we don’t know the reason.”
“Not that we know of, but it’s probably best to assume that there are.”
With a nod, Tony flew up to the top of the building, kicking in the door and making his way down the stairwell, repulsors at the ready. He didn’t run into anyone until two floors lower, where there was a group of civilians cowering in the corner. It only took about twenty minutes to clear out the building, with Hulk taking citizens down to safety while Tony incapacitated the HYDRA agents.
“Do you see anything they might have been in there for?” Natasha asked through the com as Tony landed on the ground a few feet away.
“There’s nothing that I can see.” Hawkeye responded. He was still inside the building, scouting for any leftover agents or any wounded civilians.
S.H.I.E.L.D. showed up a while later, taking away the agents and asking questions. Agent Hill, standing in for Coulson while he recovered in the hospital, approached Steve, arms crossed. “Are you sure there’s no motive?” she asked.
“It’s an office building.” Captain Rogers explained simply. “The people we’ve talked to who were in the first floor when the attack happened say that they had no clue why they were targeted. No one was severely injured, and the agents we fought didn’t even try that hard.”
Hill nodded, scanning the area. “We’ll try and get some of them to confess. Thanks for coming so quickly, Captain.”
Steve smiled, shrugging. “Happy to help, ma’am.”
Tony walked over, flipping his faceplate up as he did so. “Afternoon, Agent Hill. Cap, I’m going back to the mansion. Call me if you discover anything else. Something tells me that this isn’t the last we’re going to see of HYDRA.”
“JARVIS, I need a personal file created with all of the information we can get on HYDRA.” Tony said, sitting on his workbench. He pulled up some schematics on the screen before sighing and realizing that his mind wasn’t going to escape the god who was a few floors above him.
They’d shared a moment.
It was getting harder to deny that fact that Loki wasn’t just an enemy. He was complex and intelligent and Tony needed to put a stop to these feelings before they got out of hand. He knew that he had this mindset where he wanted things he couldn’t have. Pepper had pointed it out in the past.
But normally, it just took him a certain amount of money.
This time, he was dealing with a person. Well, Asgardian. Money can’t buy relationships, and it definitely can’t make a straight man gay. And he was still pretty sure Loki was straight. Tony went to his bar fridge at the edge of the room and poured himself a glass of scotch, wishing he had an excuse to get absolutely plastered.
He could do it anyway, of course, be he knew the rest of the team would give him that disapproving look they always did. Plus, with the hunch that HYDRA was planning something, he didn’t want to be drunk when they made a move. He couldn’t be as reckless as he was before the Avengers Initiative. He had a team now, and his actions brought them down with them.
Taking the last sip of his scotch, JARVIS spoke. Sir, Captain Rogers is requesting entrance. Would you like me to send him away?
Tony shook his head, shoving his glass to the side. “No, it’s fine JARVIS, let him in.”
The doors slid open and Steve walked in, still looking a bit wary of all of the technology. It would take a while, though, for him to get used to it like the rest of the world. “What can I do for you, Cap?” Tony asked.
“I’ve been thinking,” the soldier started, crossing his arms as he leaned on the table beside Tony. “about what you said earlier. It would make sense for HYDRA to have an ulterior motive. But what if their ulterior motive was Loki?”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s say they somehow found out that Loki was back on Earth.” Tony nodded, not liking the direction of this conversation. “They were the ones who were originally searching for the Tesseract. What if they planned on using Loki to get it back somehow?”
The playboy shook his head. “But there would be no way for them to get Loki. He’s under house arrest here, and like it or not, it means he has our protection.”
Steve nodded, turning his face to the floor in thought. “What else would HYDRA want, though?”
“Money? Weapons? I don’t know, Cap, but how would they even be aware of Loki’s return?”
The soldier shrugged, frustrated. “I have no idea, Tony, but we can’t rule it out. Who knows? Maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. will get answers from the agents we captured today, but until they do, we have to start thinking for ourselves.”
Tony didn’t want to admit it, but he knew Steve was right. It would make sense for HYDRA to be after the Tesseract, and it couldn’t be coincidence that they start acting up just as Loki returned.
But Loki was powerless.
If HYDRA got their hands on him, he wouldn’t be able to do anything to fight back. And for some reason, that scared the shit out of Tony. Did they even know if Loki was mortal or not?
“I have to agree that we need to keep an open mind.” Tony said finally, pushing the negative thoughts from his head. “But unless we absolutely have to, I think we should keep Loki far away from any of the crime-fighting. We don’t need him getting caught up in these affairs, because I’m sure there are people who would love to see him dead.” True enough.
Steve sighed, obviously tired. “Okay. But…I think we should keep an eye on him.” Tony gave him a look, and he was quick to clarify. “Not because I think he’s going to cause trouble, but for his own safety.”
“Well, well, Captain Rogers. Worrying for Loki? You certainly changed your attitude.” Tony said, clicking his tongue slightly.
“He’s…not as bad as I thought.” Steve said, straightening. “But think over what I said. Either way, we need to be on our guard.”
He made his way out of the workshop and Tony felt the sudden urge to break something. Why did it have to be Loki? Of all the people he could have agreed to house, it had to be the one that he would find the most fascinating.
And who would, of course, cause the most trouble.
Trouble and Loki came hand in hand, however, and Tony severely hoped Steve was wrong. Because at the moment, Tony just wanted to find out if he even had a chance with the trickster, and see where things went from there. He didn’t want Loki getting himself killed over a piece of alien technology because he was suddenly mortal. Giving up any hopes of being productive, Tony turned the workshop lights off and headed out into the hallway, feeling positive that S.H.I.E.L.D. would get the necessary information out of the captured agents, and that it definitely wouldn’t have anything to do with Loki.
Thanks for reading, everyone!
I have so many ideas for this, and the plotline just keeps writing itself. I hope to be working on this like crazy, but I'm going to have no time to write until after wednesday. (Remember how I kept mentioning that I had homework? Weeeeellll I may have been putting it off. But I only need to write like, a page and a half and email it to my group and everything will be okay.)
I love you all! Thanks for being so amazing <3
Chapter 4: Fragile Boundaries
In which HYDRA's plans remain a mystery and Tony falls deeper in love.
This would have been updated way sooner if my life didn't get so busy this week.
Thank you guys for all the feedback and kudos! It's crazy how much motivation it gives me when I've had a long day.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A week had passed since the initial HYDRA attack, and no one had managed to gain any information. S.H.I.E.L.D. interrogated the agents they had in custody, but every single one of them was refusing to talk, which pissed Fury off to no end. Out of the twenty three agents they’d captured, they figured at least one of them would talk; spill some sort of information that they could work with, even if it was just something like their favorite coffee shop. But the plans remained a mystery and they were no closer to figuring out what felt so off about the attack. Tony was growing more frustrated, and was in the process of convincing Fury to let him interrogate some of the prisoners. The director, however, was adamant about the fact that his agents had it under control. He insisted that the Avengers wait at the mansion until given further orders.
But there was something Fury wasn’t sharing, and Tony knew it.
He would have pressed harder for more information, but he was a bit preoccupied. He’d been spending most of his time locked in his workshop, focusing on suit alterations and reading through pages upon pages of information Jarvis had pulled up on HYDRA. His isolation may have also had something to do with the raven-haired Asgardian he was housing, but he’d never admit to anything.
Loki was powerful in a way that Tony had never imagined.
They were so alike, and the playboy—reluctantly—accepted the fact that he could have become just as evil under different circumstances. Both of them were responsible for monstrosities that their fathers, who already held such contempt for them, would have looked down upon. Both of them had killed. Both of them had destroyed.
To Tony, Loki was a breath of fresh air. Intelligent, powerful, beautiful. The playboy was falling fast.
Normally, he’d use his power or his charm to seduce the one he wanted, but this wasn’t so simple. If Loki took things the wrong way, Tony would probably have two angry Asgardians ready to break his neck. Thor seemed like the kind of brother who would go to enormous lengths to protect Loki’s honor, and Tony already knew he could pack a punch.
“Jarvis, delete any files pertaining to Captain Steve Rogers.” Tony muttered, reading through yet another classified file on Captain America in his search for viable information on HYDRA. He already knew all of that. Hell, if he wanted to know any more, all he had to do was walk upstairs and ask the super soldier himself. He didn’t want to read the same information, nearly verbatim, over and over again.
About a third of the files on-screen vanished and Tony groaned, knowing it was practically a futile effort to do any research at that point. It didn’t matter what HYDRA had been up to in the past; these were new plans. New schemes. The good guys were in the dark, stumbling around while the bad guys sat back and laughed.
Tony glanced down at his watch, considering heading up to the kitchen and grabbing something to eat. It had been…well, a while since he’d last eaten, to say the least. Sleep would probably be good, too. Pepper would be so proud if she knew he was making these decisions all on his own. He shut down the computer, feeling like he needed to be doing more but knowing that he’d be useless in battle if he was falling asleep. The lights of his workshop slowly blinked off as he left and made his way to the elevator, absently running over information in his mind, trying to come to conclusions he hadn’t gone over already.
He was on autopilot mode, and didn’t even realize he was in the kitchen until he had a soda in one hand and a slice of leftover pizza in the other, finally realizing how hungry he was. “Working hard?”
Tony looked up to see Clint, grabbing a bag of chips out of the cupboard. “Always.” He said with a smirk.
“We were getting ready to send someone down there to make sure you were still alive. Steve wanted to drag you up here to eat dinner with us, but Pepper said you get this way sometimes.”
Tony swallowed the mouthful of pizza he had, washing it down with a swig of coke before clearing his throat. “Pepper was here?”
Clint perched himself atop the counter, swinging his leg as he ripped into the bag of chips open. “Only for a little while. She wanted to make sure we were all still not-evil and all that.” he said, shoving a handful of chips into his mouth.
Huh. Tony figured that Pepper would still be a little mad at him after their argument, but he’d at least expect her to say hi or something. Yell at him for his unhealthy habits. The usual. “Well, you guys don’t have to worry. I don’t work myself to the point of passing out these days.” Just to the point of almost-passing out. There’s a difference.
“Steve was the most worried.” The archer shrugged. “You know how he feels about healthy lifestyles and all that.”
Tony finished his pizza, tossing the plate in the sink and standing. “Well, I’m going to catch up on some sleep and make mommy and daddy proud of my healthy habits. Maybe I’ll even get a raise in my allowance! Wake me up if anything happens.”
“Sure thing, bro. Sweet dreams.” Clint said in a sing-song voice, hopping off the counter and heading for the living room, probably to watch some horrifically mind-numbing marathon. Tony let out a yawn, walking down the hall to the elevator. He was finally being hit with the exhaustion he’d built up over the week, all of the caffeine having already left his system.
He wanted to be there the moment anything came up, even if it meant getting a total of two hours of sleep for the span of a week. If S.H.I.E.L.D. finally cracked one of the HYDRA agents or there was another attack, he felt that he needed to be there. If Steve was right—if Loki was involved somehow in some sort of evil plan—he felt it necessary to be there to stop it. He felt strangely obligated to make sure Loki stayed away from any and all troublesome situations.
Of course, he rationalized with himself, he wasn’t going to be fulfilling any duties if he was falling asleep on the job.
He slipped into his room quietly, throwing his shoes off and stripping to his boxers before flopping down on the bed and falling asleep almost as soon as his head his the pillow.
Loki had to admit, Midgardian literature wasn’t as bad as he’d originally thought. Ms. Potts had brought him some books to keep him occupied—and, he suspected, too busy to be evil—and while some of the books were absolute trash, there were a few he wouldn’t mind reading again. As he sat on his bed, surrounded by hardbacks and paperbacks, he briefly wondered how many of the stories were based on the truth. The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, and The Fault in our Stars seemed like they were pretty realistic, but others, like Lord of the Rings, were obviously fantasy. They were good, though, and he hoped to go to a bookstore when he next left the house.
Without knocking any of the books to the floor, Loki stood carefully and stretched, deciding that it was time for a break. There were only so many books he could read before his head began to ache, and he needed to stretch his legs before his muscles turned to dust. As he made his way out into the hallway, he nearly ran into Tony, freshly showered. He looked more exhausted than he usually did, and Loki suspected that he hadn’t been getting enough sleep. There were faint circles under his eyes—darker than they normally were. “I was beginning to think you’d moved out.” The god said, smirking, ignoring the way his heart began to flutter.
Tony returned the smile, but there was something in his eyes that seemed…unsure; almost as though he was determining how to react to the Asgardian. “Just getting some work done. Repairing the suit, things like that.” He paused before his face morphed into a cheeky grin. “Why, did you miss me?”
Loki recalled the brief moments a week earlier, before Tony had been called to work, mind scrambling to say something that sounded at least somewhat intelligent. “Considering the fact that you, Thor, and Captain Rogers are the only ones even remotely comfortable in my presence, I can’t say I would have been opposed to your company.”
Okay, and so maybe he found Tony more interesting than he should have. Maybe he had…thoughts about the two of them. But what he said was completely true. He could see the way Agent Romanov’s hand hovered over her gun when he walked into a room before she remembered he was supposed to be there. He noticed the way Dr. Banner and Agent Barton avoided him when it was possible. Tony didn’t act that way, and it was nice to feel wanted for once. Or, at the very least, not like he was an unwanted addition. Thor and Steve were nice, but his brother could be a bit much.
“How are you and Thor doing, anyway?” The playboy asked. “If you don’t mind me asking.”
Loki paused, thinking, as Tony leaned on the wall. “We are doing…well. It’s not the way it was when we younger, but I don’t think we can ever go back to what we had. Too much has changed; too many facts have come to light.”
Tony smiled slightly before clapping Loki on the shoulder. “Well, at least you aren’t trying to kill each other. That’s pretty much a new record, right?”
As he moved back, the Asgardian’s eye was caught by the faint blue shining through Tony’s shirt, and without thinking he pressed a palm to it, feeling the playboy tense up as he did so. “What is this?”
Tony took a deep breath, but made no move to remove the hand from his chest, though his instincts told him to do so; screamed at him to find a way to protect himself from the potentially dangerous situation he was in. He didn’t like people touching his arc reactor. It was his fatal flaw, and his greatest weakness. “You could call it a reminder of my past mistakes.” He said quietly, a hint of regret laced into his tone. “It’s keeping me alive.”
With his index finger, Loki absentmindedly traced the circle’s edge, fascinated and seemingly oblivious to Tony’s discomfort. “You will die if it’s removed?” Tony nodded, briefly thinking how easy it would be for Loki to rip the arc reactor out of his chest, leaving him to die right there in the middle of the hallway of his own home. Instead, the taller man simply withdrew his hand, looking up to meet Tony’s eyes. “That seems inconvenient.”
Tony let out a breathy chuckle, unsure of what he was expecting the other to say. “It may be inconvenient, but it’s one hell of a night light.”
This was the point, normally, where Tony would say something witty about joining him one night to check it out, but this was Loki. Not some cheap blonde whose name he wouldn’t remember in the morning. He had to keep the flirting to a minimum (because let’s be honest, he wouldn’t be able to help himself sometimes). “Have you settled in?” He asked, deciding a subject change would be the best for his sanity.
“Yes, thank you. Ms. Potts brought me some books, and I’ve been staying out of trouble.”
Oh, Pepper. What would Tony do without that woman? “I hope she got books that you actually like.” And not something potentially offensive or suggestive. He could imagine his assistant buying something that made fun of magic or something, and that probably wouldn’t sit too well with Loki.
“I’ve enjoyed a lot of the books so far.” Loki said, shoving his hands in his pockets before continuing hesitantly. “Are you and Ms. Potts…?”
Tony blinked before shaking his head quickly. “Pepper? And me? No, no, no, no. Not anymore, at least. We used to have a…thing, but it ended and now I’m happy to have her running my company. I’m kind of hard to put up with, in case you hadn’t gathered.”
Loki nodded slowly, as though he was thinking over the answer he’d just been given. Tony wanted desperately to know what was going through the god’s head, but kept his mouth shut and sighed suddenly. “Well, there’s always work to do, so I’ll leave you to your books.” He smiled before pushing himself off the wall, turning around and mentally punching himself in the face. Why couldn’t he just act like a normal person around Loki?
Aside from the fact that he was a superhero and Loki was an ex villain. They weren’t exactly ‘normal’ to begin with.
Tony heard Loki move behind him, and then felt long fingers close over his wrist. “Might
I join you?”
The genius swallowed past the breath that was suddenly caught in his throat, telling himself to say no. Letting Loki into the lab would be a very bad idea. It would be crossing boundaries and leading himself into temptation, which would end in disaster. He wasn’t good at self-restraint. “Are you sure? I’m going to be doing a lot of science-y type things. It might be boring.”
Loki’s hand tightened. “Like I said before, you’re one of the three who can stand to be near me. And science does not affect me like it affects my brother. I’m…fascinated by it.”
Tony took a quiet breath in before letting it out gently, trying to hold himself back from ripping his wrist away and finding a nice rock to hide under. Did Loki have any clue what he was doing? “Well, if you’re sure you aren’t going to be bored, I’m okay with it. I’m not your babysitter.” He warned just as Loki finally released him.
He began walking, knowing for a fact that the god would follow behind him. He should have said no. He should have just politely declined and been along his merry way. He should have been keeping a safe distance, not letting his emotions get the best of him.
The elevator ride was quiet, and Tony glanced over every so often, trying to find a chink in Loki’s metaphorical armor that would let him in on the inner workings of his mind. He was usually so good at reading people, but Loki wasn’t the usual type of person. He was a god. Did gods even have sexual preferences? Thor fell in love with Jane, but it’s not like he’d ever stated exclusively that he was just into women. It was an interesting thought, but the billionaire chastised himself for even asking it. He shouldn’t have let his feelings get to this point. And thinking about Thor’s sexuality wasn’t something he really wanted to do. Ever.
He felt like bashing his head into the wall for getting himself into this situation.
Typing the passcode into the door of the workshop, he wondered briefly what Loki was going to do to keep himself occupied. Tony was going to…well, look like he was doing something. Maybe he’d add night vision to the suit or something. His original intent had been to do more research into the Tesseract, but he didn’t want the god’s questioning gaze upon him. The Tesseract would most likely hit a little too close to home, so suit repairs were the best option. Even though his suit was already in perfect condition.
“So…don’t break anything.” He said, approaching his computers, glancing over his shoulder.
“I’m not my brother.” Loki mumbled quietly, and Tony guessed that it was mostly a side thought. The god was running his fingers along a few of the spare parts that were lying around, twisting the wiring through his fingers. “Is there anything I could help with?” He asked after a moment, coming to stand behind Tony.
Tony spun around in his chair, not quite believing that Loki had just offered to be useful. There’s a difference between being slightly interested in science and actually being willing to participate in science. Of course, while Thor was the type of person to yell at the smoke alarm, his younger brother seemed much more suited for the human world. Realizing he had yet to answer, the playboy stood abruptly, trying to think of something the Asgardian could help him with. Honestly, he did most of the work himself, and for everything else, he had his robots.
“Well…” He was at a loss. “I really don’t think there’s anything I desperately need help with at the moment. I’m just going to be enabling night-vision on my helmet, and that’s a solo job. And unless you can…actually, never mind.” He’d been about to say something about HYDRA, but it would have been a hypothetical question anyway.
That, and it technically wasn’t Loki’s business.
“Unless I can…?” Loki inquired, quirking an eyebrow.
Tony sighed, cursing his ability to get himself into horrible situations. “You wouldn’t be able to, anyway. Don’t worry about it.”
“Is it about HYDRA?”
Okay, where was Loki getting his information?
It was Tony’s turn to quirk an eyebrow. “Somebody’s been keeping you in the loop.”
“I’m observant, Mr. Stark. I’m bound to pick some things up around here.” Loki crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back on one of the work tables, and Tony had to think about scientific equations to keep his mind from straying elsewhere. “Remind me later to ask you for any blackmail you may have gathered. I owe Natasha for taking pictures of us on the couch.”
Oh, hey. That’s a subject they’d never breached before. Tony turned around to hide the flush that was sure to be spreading across his cheeks, picking up some papers a rustling through them. Did Loki even know they’d fallen asleep together? The playboy had been pretty stealthy when sneaking out, except the part where he fell on the floor, but they’d never brought it up.
“I was unaware Agent Romanov had photos of that.” The god said simply, well aware that the situation had happened. His voice didn’t show any particular emotion, and Tony didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing.
He scoffed, setting the papers down and turning back around. “I’m sure she’d love to forward them to everyone, too.”
“You sound so bothered by that possibility.”
Loki shrugged. “Why would I care about peoples’ petty opinions? There’s nothing wrong with falling asleep at someone’s side, and I don’t think anyone could think any less of me than they already do.”
Tony wasn’t going to argue the point that what they experienced was more along the lines of cuddling than falling asleep at each other’s sides. He sighed, though, understanding where Loki was coming from. “I don’t think it’s you that they’d be paying attention to, however.” He said without thinking.
“Ah. It would illustrate how easily you let your guard down around the enemy.”
Tony couldn’t ignore the hint of sadness in Loki’s voice, and hated himself for the way it pulled at his heart. These feelings that kept showing up were exactly what he didn’t need, because once Loki had his magic back, he was gone.
“Hey. You aren’t the enemy.” He said. Turning to the computer screen, he pulled up a picture of a group of HYDRA agents, placing a finger on the screen before looking back at Loki. “These guys are the enemy. You’ve shown you can change, and don’t even think that I’d let the enemy chill out at my house.”
“You astonish me, Stark.” The god said, smiling slightly to himself. “You are, by far, the most interesting human I’ve met.”
“I sincerely hope that’s a good thing.” Tony appreciated the fact that there was ample space between them, knowing that he’d probably do something stupid otherwise. “That is a good thing, right?”
Loki smiled, propping himself up on his elbows, looking over the table at Tony. “I suppose it depends on the way you look at it. I should think-”
Sir, Mr. Odinson is requesting access to the lab. Should I grant it to him?
Tony almost had to laugh at the look that crossed Loki’s face as he was interrupted; a mixture of distaste and frustration. It was understandable, however. Thor could be a little clingy. Weighing his options, Tony finally nodded, minimizing his computer tabs. “Let him in, Jarvis.” Then, with a look over at the god, “Sorry, but it could be an emergency.”
“Man of Iron!” Thor boomed, glancing at his brother momentarily. “Director Fury has called upon us.”
Tony suppressed a groan. It clearly wasn’t an emergency because Thor looked mostly calm, but the playboy really didn’t want to deal with the S.H.I.E.L.D. director just then. Or, if he was being honest, ever, but he usually made the best of it. “It’s a shame I already took a nap today.” He muttered. At this, Loki hid a grin behind his hand, earning the thunder god’s attention.
“Brother, should you not be in your chambers?”
“There’s only so much solitude one can take.” The younger brother said, glaring weakly at the blond.
“But you should not be bothering Tony Stark. He is a busy man.”
Tony understood perfectly what was happening. Thor, in an attempt to keep Loki on everybody’s good side, was trying to keep him quarantined. A trickster cannot trick if he lacks an audience. With an eye roll that neither of the Asgardians noticed, the inventor stepped forward to stand beside Loki, placing an arm around his shoulders. “Relax, Thor. If I didn’t want Loki around, I would just kick him out. It’s not a problem.”
The Thunderer looked happier at that, but it was easy to see that he didn’t want to impose a burden on anyone. He was taking responsibility for his brother, whether Loki liked it or not. “I do not wish for you to feel obligated to spend time with him.”
Tony nearly rolled his eyes again. You could take the rivalry out of the sibling, but you couldn’t take the sibling out of the rivalry…or something like that. “The only thing I feel obligated to do is be awesome 110% of the time. Believe me, Thor, you don’t have to herd your brother away from everyone. I know you’re just trying to be the responsible older brother here, but I think he knows when to give someone their space and when to reach out.” He realized that he was still destroying his own personal space bubble, as well as Loki’s, but he figured it wouldn’t hurt to indulge just this once. “But I appreciate your concern. Really.”
“I am glad to hear this, Tony Stark.” Thor said, beaming. “But perhaps we should go to the rest of our friends before we are late.”
Tony nodded, reluctantly putting his arm at his side. “Yep, we wouldn’t want to be late for a S.H.I.E.L.D. meeting.” He said sarcastically. “Hey, I have to shut everything down, so you can head up without me. I’ll be there in a sec.” As soon as Thor was out of the workshop, he sighed loudly. “Jarvis, upload all of the HYDRA files to my phone. I’m going to need something to do during the meeting.”
Very well, sir. Would you like me to synch them with the mainframe?
“Nope. I just need some reading material, so you could even send them to my email, if you felt like it. Whatever’s easiest.” Tony pulled his phone out of his pocket, checking the download progress before looking over at Loki. “Whelp, looks like we have to cut the tour short.”
“Thank you.” The god said, taking a few steps closer. “Sometimes it feels like Thor doesn’t trust that I’m done being his enemy. I wish he would realize that I’m my own person, not a child.”
“No need to thank me.” Tony said quickly, recognizing the fact that the table no longer acted as a barrier between them. With the table gone, he felt his self-restraint begin to dwindle. “I don’t mind having you around.”
“There are many reasons, I think, that I should be thanking you, Mr. Stark.” The taller man said as he got closer and closer, making Tony want to escape. He felt tiny and overwhelmed, and he just wanted his heart to stop beating so damn fast.
And suddenly, Loki was hugging him.
It was just a hug. Tony hugged Clint. Tony hugged Bruce. Tony would probably hug Natasha if she wasn’t really scary all the time. But the fact remained that he didn’t have all of these feelings for any of them, and Loki was so close and he just wanted to yell at the god for being an enabler.
He didn’t yell, though, because he was too busy telling his arms to do something other than hang awkwardly at his sides.
“I, uh,” he cleared his throat, making a mental list of all the things he could potentially do that would be considered highly inappropriate.
It was a very long list.
“Not killing me is thanks enough.” He said finally, patting the god on the back, hoping to be released. “But I should get going before the team leaves without me. Wouldn’t want Fury angry at me. Again.”
Loki let go, taking a step back. “Of course not.” He said, smiling.
Tony liked his smile.
Not the psychotic, ‘I’m going to take over the world and subjugate the entire earth’ kind of smile, obviously.
But the simple smile that made Loki seem human.
Tony was finding that he liked a lot of things about Loki, and he was almost tempted to push a few more boundaries and find out how far he could go before the god’s powers were returned and he left forever. However, the playboy really didn’t feel like pissing off Thor, and attempting to get in Loki’s pants would probably do just that.
“Will you be okay if we leave you home alone?” Tony asked, mostly joking as they walked over to the elevator. There was a part of him that almost wanted Loki to say that he didn’t want to be left alone, because Tony would be happy to stay with him. Fury would have his head, however, and the meeting was probably important.
“I am not a child, Stark. I’m completely capable of being left alone.”
Tony smirked as the elevator doors slid closed. “You sure? It would be easy to call a babysitter.”
Loki looked entirely unimpressed, glancing over at Tony. “I may be mortal, but I believe you underestimate my abilities.”
Opening his mouth to speak, Tony paused for a moment. “How long do you think you’ll be this way?” He inquired seriously. Half of him—the helplessly infatuated part—hoped it would be a long time. However, the rational part of him hoped that he could just end it quickly, like tearing a Band-Aid off.
“I hadn’t really thought of that.” Loki said, fidgeting with the hem of his shirt. “It’s Odin’s decision to make, and I highly doubt my punishment will be swift.”
Good, Tony thought.
“What a shame. Looks like you’ll be stuck here with all of us good guys, unable to seduce any Asgardian women, for a while yet.”
A strange look crossed Loki’s face. “That…isn’t one of my concerns.” He said, eyes fixed on the doors. Tony studied him from the side, a spark of hope igniting somewhere in the back of his mind.
Unfortunately, the doors opened all too soon, and Tony was met with the sight of his team, apparently waiting for him. Loki slipped away before the playboy could say anything more, and Tony was soon whisked away to the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.
Fury stood at the head of the table, arms clasped firmly behind his back as he looked over the Avengers, who were looking at the photo that had been placed between them. Tony’s cell phone had been entirely forgotten as he looked down at the paper, incredulous. “And what’s this supposed to mean?”
The photograph was blurry, probably taken with a crappy cell phone camera, and it was of Loki in the middle of a public park sitting on a bench. “This photo was found on one of the agents we currently have in custody.”
“And you didn’t think to tell us?” Natasha asked. She was calm, but there was a hint of danger in her voice that would scare the shit out of most people.
Fury sighed, turning his gaze to the floor. “We didn’t think it was relevant at the time. We had hoped to gain more information, but these guys are good. Better than we thought.”
Tony’s grip on his phone tightened. “You knew we were letting Loki live in the mansion and you didn’t think it was relevant?? In what world would that not be relevant?”
“In a world where we would have been able to find out what they were planning, Mr. Stark. And to be quite honest, I was half expecting Loki to kill your ass the moment you let your guard down.”
Tony slammed his fists on the table, knocking his chair over as he stood. “So what makes this information so relevant to us now?! Maybe if you’d stopped being so goddamned arrogant in the first place, we could have figured something out!”
“Tony, calm down.” Steve admonished, but his anger was clearly boiling just beneath the surface.
“Sit your ass down, Mr. Stark.” Fury growled. “I will admit, these people are better than we assumed. However, we still don’t know any more than what we did a week ago.”
“Well, you’re wrong on that account.” Tony said bitterly. “We know that Loki is somehow involved in their plan, whether he knows it or not. Now that the ones who are actually living with him know this, we can keep an eye on him.”
Taking a calming breath, the playboy shoved his phone in his pocket.
He hated to admit that Steve had been right.
And he definitely hated to admit that the thought of HYDRA getting their filthy mitts on Loki made him feel way too protective of the god.
“And what if he’s working with them?” Fury asked seriously.
“We would know!” Thor protested, his hand tightening around Mjӧlnir’s handle. “I would know if my brother was planning to harm anyone.”
“Thor’s right.” Clint said carefully, loudly but calmly. “Loki’s been nothing but well-behaved since we started this whole thing. He’s had hundreds of opportunities to take us out already. I think that if HYDRA wants to use him somehow, he has no clue.”
Tony did not want to deal with all of this. He’s expected to learn something useful at this meeting, but the only thing it had done was manage to piss him off. “Well this was fun.” He mumbled sarcastically. “But I have better things to do than sit around and argue with all of you. I’m going to go do something useful.” He started towards the door, feeling angrier than he’d been in quite a while.
“Do you think I only called you in here to show you this, Mr. Stark?” Fury asked, crossing his arms as Tony reluctantly stopped in his tracks.
“Let me guess, you have more good news?”
“As much as I hate to admit it, none of my agents are going to crack these guys. I’m granting you your request to go talk to them.”
Twenty-three HYDRA agents, five cups of coffee, and two arguments later, Tony stormed into the mansion’s kitchen. While he’d gotten more information out of the agents than S.H.I.E.L.D. could, it was still close to nothing. He’d learned that one of the agents was named
William. He’d learned that he appeared shorter in real life than he did in pictures.
The only piece of useful information he’d managed to retrieve was the fact that they didn’t know where Loki was, and that was something to be thankful for.
But it had been a long, headache-inducing day, and Tony found it hard to be thankful for anything.
“You were gone for a while.”
Tony nearly jumped at the voice which seemed to appear from nowhere, turning from the fridge to see Loki sitting on one of the stools at the island counter. “A hero’s work is never done.”
“Was it as bad as you thought it would be?”
“You have no idea.” Tony said, grabbing a cheese stick and closing the fridge door. He was in no mood for actual cooking. He took a seat across from Loki, too exhausted to bother with the whole ‘distancing himself’ plan. “I should have just called in sick. Fury drives me up the wall sometimes.”
“As I’m sure you do to him, as well.” Loki said, smirking at the look he got from Tony.
Loki had never had anything you could call ‘domestic’. He’d never been one for relationships when he was younger, and Thor had been the one to get the most attention anyway. Relationships hadn’t been at the forefront of his mind, in any case. But the books he was reading told tales about love; the splendors and the pain. He wanted something like that. He wanted to act on the impulses he felt when he was around Tony. He knew, though, that if he did, it would obliterate the trust that he’d earned already. And that was the last thing he wanted.
“I’ll have you know I pride myself on my ability to annoy Fury.” Tony said, shoving half of the cheese stick into his mouth. “It’s too much fun.”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“Well, I’m sure you can imagine.” Tony laughed, stifling a yawn. “So tell me,” he began, resting his chin on his hand. “what do you know about HYDRA?”
Loki shrugged, taking a moment to think. “Very little. I understand that they are a terrorist organization and they’ve had dealings with the Tesseract in the past, but that’s the extent of my knowledge.” He paused. “Should I know more than this?”
“No. Yes. I don’t know, I just…” Tony wondered if he should tell Loki that HYDRA could be planning something involving him. After all, he had a right to know, even if it was confidential information. However, the full plan was still a mystery, and he didn’t want Loki to worry about nothing. “Just thought you might have dealt with them in the past.”
Loki scoffed. “I prefer to keep my distance from mortal terrorist organizations, thank you very much.”
Tony observed the way Loki was able to look like royalty, despite his clothes. There was an air about him that made him seem regal, and it was charming. It was hot. Tony wanted-
“I hope you didn’t eat the last of the chocolate pudding.” Clint said suddenly, bursting into the kitchen, Thor on his heels.
Tony cleared his head of any and all dirty thoughts that his mind may have been conjuring, looking anywhere but the man sitting across from him. Because seriously, what if Thor was a mind reader or something and he’d never told the team? The only images he’d be getting from Tony would be of naked Loki, and that would be very bad. Thor would murder him. Slowly.
The playboy sincerely hoped Thor lacked the mind-reading ability.
Clint grabbed a pudding cup, staring down at the two men sitting at the counter. “How’s your face, Tony?”
Tony grimaced. He may have possibly gotten into a small scuffle with one of the HYDRA agents, which could have ended with him getting punched in the jaw before Fury ordered someone to drag his ass out of there. “My face is beautiful, as always.” He said.
“All he said was that you looked shorte-”
“You didn’t hear the tone of his voice, Barton.” Tony argued. He wasn’t proud of the fight. It happened, and he blamed it on the fact that he was irritable and had already interrogated twelve agents.
“Well, I’m glad he only bruised your face and not your ego.” The archer said with a smirk.
“It didn’t even hurt.” Tony insisted. He was lying, of course, but he’d never admit it.
“Right. Well, I’m off to bed. It’s late, and I actually have a normal sleep schedule.” Clint tossed the now-empty pudding cup in the garbage before sticking his tongue out at Tony, making his way out of the kitchen.
Thor looked at Tony, and then to his brother. “I must agree with Hawkeye.” He said slowly. “If I wasn’t so exhausted, I’d join you two in conversation.”
“It’s fine, big guy.” Tony assured. “We’ll have another late night conversation again in the future, and we’ll be sure to include you.”
The Thunder God smiled at this. “I will hold you to this, Man of Iron. Good night, both of you.” Clapping his brother on the shoulder, he left Tony and Loki alone.
Tony suddenly felt Loki’s fingers on his jaw as the god reached across the counter. “Does it hurt?”
“It’s nothing I can’t handle.” Tony said, mentally high-fiving himself for the way he kept his voice even.
“That’s not what I asked.”
Tony sighed. “Yeah, it hurts. But I’ve had worse. Of course, you could always kiss it and make it better.”
A look of confusion crossed over Loki’s face, but he didn’t remove his hand. Shit. Shit. Tony hadn’t meant to say that out loud. It just kind of…escaped.
“I don’t see how kissing a wound would have any effect.” Loki said.
“It doesn’t. Wouldn’t. It’s a, uh, mortal thing, I guess you could say. I was joking, anyway. I forgot that you might take things a bit too literally.”
Loki still looked unsure, but he withdrew his hand. “You people come up with the strangest things.”
“Yeah, well, Asgardians are pretty weird from my perspective, too.” Tony took a shaky breath before standing. “It’s been a long day. I think I’m going to go to bed.” He said.
Loki stood as well, nodding. “It seems to me that you should sleep more.” He agreed.
Tony stopped abruptly as Loki leaned down and pressed his lips to the playboy’s jawline, right where a bruise was most likely forming. His lips were soft as they brushed against skin, and Tony forgot how to breathe. “Good night, Mr. Stark.” The god said quietly, breath ghosting across Tony’s neck.
And then he was leaving, and Tony was in the process of restarting his brain, trying to figure out what the fuck just happened. He wanted to call Loki back and demand answers, because, what?
Instead, he just stared at the door, his heart beating in his ears.
Perhaps Thor wasn’t the one he should have been worried about having mind reading abilities.
I have a ridiculous amount of ideas for the next chapter, and it should be out much sooner than this one was. Hopefully. I only have one class this week, so I have extra time.
I also want to know if you guys want any kind of smut? I honestly have no clue as of right now, so TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT.
WHAT YOU REALLY REALLY WANT.
And it's probably time to go to bed when you start quoting the Spice Girls. You can find me on Tumblr as the-penultimate-avenger so follow me, if you want. I answer questions and stuff. So it would be cool. C:
Until next time, guys.
Chapter 5: Don't Take My Stuff
In which Thor and Loki bond, Coulson is released from the hospital, and a party is held in his honor. Dances are shared and PopTarts are consumed.
I restarted this chapter four different times. I'm happy I've finally written it to a point where I'm satisfied, because it was getting a bit frustrating this week!
Thank you guys for all of your feedback and such! It's a huge motivation to update at least once a week.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Loki slammed his book closed, drawing in a shaky breath; scolding himself for being so goddamned impulsive. His heart was still pounding from the simple brush of his lips against Tony’s skin—something that could barely be considered a kiss, yet was still so intimate.
It had been a blatant disregard of personal space and boundaries, and Loki didn’t want to push his feelings onto Tony. It had been a moment of sheer impulse that he sorely regretted. Midgardians weren’t as accepting of those types of things, as he’d learned from books and television, and he didn’t want Tony to find him disgusting. He’d only just managed to earn the man’s trust; he didn’t want to destroy it all in one swift movement.
He tossed the tome he had in his hands onto the bed, feeling that he needed to do something other than read. His mind was miles away, and the words crossed his vision, only to be forgotten moments later. He stood gracefully and straightened his shirt, sneaking down the hallway into the elevator. The near-silence of the mansion was soothing, with only the light whir of machinery to interrupt his thoughts. He much preferred the quiet, and it was in that regard that he and his brother had always differed. Thor loved noise; roaring crowds and groups of friends shouting jovially. Loki, however, loved the peace and quiet when he could let his mind run free, uninterrupted.
With a remorseful sigh, Loki settled onto the couch, folding his legs underneath him. He closed his eyes, content to sit in the silent dark. It was comforting, knowing that he was completely safe in this place. Darkness had once held so much uncertainty, but he could enjoy it now without the tug of fear in the back of his mind.
“Does something ail you, brother?”
Loki’s eyes snapped open to see Thor standing over him, clad in a pair of repulsive cartoon print pajama pants and a plain black t-shirt. “I thought you were in bed.” The younger stated.
Thor sat down beside his brother, leaving some space between them and crossing his legs. “I couldn’t sleep.” He said simply. “Would you like to share your troubles with me?”
Loki was unable to suppress the small smile that graced his features, recalling the late nights on Asgard when he and his brother would talk about anything and everything until Frigga told them angrily to go to sleep. “I feel…out of place.” He said truthfully, smile fading. “I don’t belong in this household with these people. I’m going to make some horrible mistake and lose their trust yet again.”
Thor placed a hand on Loki’s knee, giving him a look of encouragement. “We all make mistakes, brother, but it’s the manner in which we handle them that counts. You shall not lose their trust if you don’t wish to.”
Loki only wished it was that simple. Matters of the heart, especially love, were much more complicated and delicate. Losing trust based off of good and evil was a completely different story. He hoped that Odin would make haste in returning his powers so he could be done with these feelings. “Thor, how did you fall in love with Jane?” he asked carefully. For the first time in what felt like an eternity, he felt like he could finally talk to his brother like an equal. It felt natural.
Thor was taken off guard, but he was relieved that Loki was actually talking to him. “It just…happened. She did not think me insane for saying I was of Asgard. Quite the contrary, actually. She took interest.” The blond stopped, a fond smile gracing his lips. “But why do you ask?”
Loki considered lying, but he felt compelled to be honest with his brother; the way it had been before Loki had discovered his true heritage. “I’ve grown fond of a human.” He said, his voice nearly a whisper. His eyes found a stain on the coffee table and focused there, avoiding Thor’s gaze.
“Tony Stark.” The Thunder God said. It wasn’t a question, but it was pretty easy to figure out. Thor wasn’t an idiot.
Loki could practically feel the look of pity that was being sent his way for falling for someone so unattainable. “Be wary, brother. The Man of Iron is well known for his wandering affections.”
The trickster laughed a humorless laugh, turning to Thor. “Don’t worry for me, I know that. I am not foolish enough to think that he could return the feelings of someone he so long counted as an enemy.”
The words hurt to say, but he knew that they were true. Thor frowned, his hand moving to Loki’s shoulder, squeezing lightly. “He is not one to see the world in such black and white terms as friend and enemy. There is always hope, but I do not wish to see you with a broken heart.”
Loki was silent for a few long moments, emotions passing visibly over his face. “I’m sorry, brother.” Loki said after an instant’s hesitation. He didn’t say for what, but Thor understood. As they sat together on the couch, speaking to each other as they had when they were children, they let their feelings come to the surface after so long.
The Thunder God leaned over and wrapped an arm around Loki’s smaller frame. “I know.”
Tony watched as Natasha landed another hit to Steve’s shoulder, grappling backwards before the super soldier could properly retaliate. He didn’t have his shield with him—they were only sparring, after all—and Natasha moved too quickly for him to get a hold of. “Come on, Rogers, you aren’t going to always have your shield with you.” The spy taunted, fists raised in a defensive stance. Her breathing was only slightly heavy and there were tendrils of hair escaping the bun she’d tied at the top of her head. Steve, in response, lunged forward and caught Natasha’s wrists, using them as leverage to throw her to the ground.
She didn’t stay down for very long, however, and made quick work of tossing Steve to the ground as well. Tony smiled, his fingers travelling across the screen of his tablet and got to his feet. “Don’t kill each other, you two!” He called behind him as he made his way into the hallway.
“Sir, Ms. Potts is downstairs. She says it’s important.”
Tony smiled, hoping that she’d actually bother talking to him this time. “Tell her I’m in the workshop, Jarv, and then automatically open the doors for her.”
“Doing so as we speak, sir.”
Tony nodded slightly to himself, tucking his tablet underneath his arm as he pressed the elevator button for the workshop. He closed his eyes, leaning against the wall as he thrummed his fingers against his leg. He was tired. The events from the previous night had prevented him from getting any sleep, and his mind was going 110% the entire time. The touch of Loki’s lips shouldn’t have been so baffling, but it was, and the genius had never experienced such frustrating feelings.
The elevator doors slid open and he walked to his computers, setting his tablet on the table before bringing everything else to life. It wasn’t long before he heard the gliding of doors behind him, followed by the click clack of Pepper’s heels. “Morning, Pep!”
“Tony, what are you doing tonight?” She asked, not even bothering to say hello first.
Tony thought for a moment. “Well, I was probably going to finish putting night vision in the helmet.”
“That can wait.” Tony quirked his eyebrow at his assistant questioningly, wondering what she’d signed him up for this time. “Phil was released from the hospital today.” She explained. She leaned on the table beside Tony, her fingers tapping on her purse.
“So what does that have to do with me?”
“We’re throwing a party for him.” Pepper said with a smile. “All of the Avengers are coming.”
“What about Loki?” The playboy asked distastefully. It would be a recipe for disaster if they brought him along, but leaving him home alone to go to a party seemed irresponsible. Asgardians were completely unaware of simple things. Like not to put foil in the microwave. Thor had been on Earth far longer than his brother, and that still seemed to be an issue.
Pepper bit her lip, before nodding to herself. “We’ll bring him along.”
The woman just nodded more enthusiastically as though she’d just thought up the most brilliant plan, standing up straighter and placing her palms together.
Tony was actually kind of worried that she’d overworked herself and was finally going crazy.
“No, it’s a really good idea.” She insisted. “Loki will have another chance to apologize for his actions and do more good deeds. Phil will get to say ‘I told you so’ and it’ll be a great opportunity for Loki to gain some social skills.”
Tony shook his head. “Pepper, do you really think it’s a good idea to invite Loki, the god who almost killed Coulson, to Coulson’s party?”
“Yes, Tony, I do. If all goes horribly awry, I’ll take the blame, so stop freaking out about it.” She gave him a stern look, which effectively halted whatever argument he may have been forming. “Now, the party starts at 8. Wear something nice, but not too nice. I’ll text you directions and everything later, I still have a lot to do. Tell the rest of the team and Loki and I’ll see you at 8.”
After a brief hug, she was already rushing back into the elevator, leaving a very confused Tony in her wake. The playboy scratched the back of head before sighing, wondering if Pepper had finally been driven off the edge. He had to remember to force her to take some time off. Maybe send her and her boyfriend on a cruise or something. “Jarvis, relay that message to everyone in the house.”
“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather tell a certain Asgardian yourself, sir?”
Tony grimaced. The thought of telling Loki himself brought back thoughts of the feelings the playboy was suffering from. “I’m sure.” He said, a note of finality in his voice.
With a flick of his wrist, the screens in front of him vanished, leaving Tony to stare at the opposite wall. How could things not go wrong? He could only imagine Phil shooting Loki in the face with some ridiculous lazer gun that he keeps in the bowl of pistachios on the coffee table. That seemed like something Coulson would do.
Best case scenario: Loki gets tazed within an inch of his life.
Worst case scenario:
Tony didn’t really want to think about that.
What was Pepper thinking?! Tony could understand wanting to make Loki apologize, but there had to be a better way of going about it. Maybe by means of a note or something. Sending a note would probably cause far less bloodshed.
Feeling no anticipation for the party, Tony made his way into the elevator. He might as well make some lunch, he figured, before everything went to hell in a helicarrier. Chaos always went over better with a full stomach.
When he walked into the kitchen, Thor was seated at the counter with a box of Pop-Tarts, munching on them with no regard as to the crumbs that were falling onto the countertop and his beard. He watched as the playboy walked over to the fridge, gaze unwavering. It was actually kind of creepy, Tony thought briefly as he poured himself a glass of orange juice. Thor was just…staring.
Fleetingly, he considered the fact that maybe the Thunderer really could read his mind and that he was thinking of all the ways he could murder Tony. Turning back to the fridge, the genius tried his hardest to think of anything except Loki, on the off chance that Thor really had become some sort of telepath. Which, of course, was pretty unlikely, but there was always a chance.
“Man of Iron!” He boomed suddenly.
And no, Tony did not jump. That would just be ridiculous.
Turning around slowly, cautiously, just in case Thor was about to crush his skull with Mjӧlnir, Tony took a sip of his orange juice. “What’s up?” he asked quietly, hoping he was able to keep his voice even. There were too many thoughts going through his head to be entirely sure, though.
Thor was still seated at the counter, still eating toaster pastries, so the billionaire decided that death wasn’t in his immediate future. “Would you be opposed to having a relationship with another man?” The blond asked seriously.
Tony just stared for a few moments, his brain taking a few moments to process what had just been asked. His orange juice had begun to pour over the side, and he set the glass down quickly, clearing his throat. “Uh…no?”
Thor nodded, shoving the last Pop-Tart into his mouth before standing abruptly, leaving the kitchen. He mumbled something that sounded like a ‘thank you’ but his mouth was too stuffed full of food to really understand.
There was some kind of weird drug in the water, Tony decided as he stared after the retreating form of the god. There had to be. There was no other explanation as to why everyone around him kept acting like lunatics. Or maybe everyone was conspiring against him, slowly driving him insane.
Honestly, wouldn’t put it past them.
Loki was reading in one of the chairs in his room, which he’d moved near the window, when there was loud knocking on his door. There was only a single person who could knock that loudly unintentionally, so the trickster dog-eared the page he was on and heaved himself towards the door. “To what do I owe this visit, brother?” He asked before he even saw who was on the other side.
Thor smiled brightly, placing his hand on Loki’s shoulder. “I have good news!” he exclaimed, slipping into the room and sitting on the bed, unaware of the look he was getting from Loki. “Anthony Stark is not opposed to relationships with men.”
Loki felt a bolt of panic run through him. “How do you know?” He asked quietly, staring wide-eyed at his brother. What had Thor said? What had he revealed…?
“I asked him, of course.” The blond replied easily.
Loki just stared at him for a few long moments, horrified at the possibility of Tony discovering his feelings. If Thor had led slip a single piece of information, Stark could easily connect the dots. He was a genius, after all. “Did you mention me at all?”
Thor shook his head. “Of course not. I do not wish for him to discover that which you would rather keep in the dark.” Thor looked almost offended at the thought.
Loki took a deep breath, trying in vain to calm the erratic fluttering of his heart. He told himself that it wasn’t as bad as he thought; that Tony would not assume anything from the simple question that Thor had asked. Thor hadn’t even mentioned him, so there was no trail that could lead back to him. He ran a hand through his hair just as Tony’s artificial-intelligence-housekeeper chimed in overhead.
“Mr. Stark would like me to inform the both of you of a party being held tonight in honor of Agent Coulson’s release from the hospital.”
“There must be some mistake.” Loki said, not entirely sure of where to address his complaints. He ended up craning his neck around, eyes scanning over the entirety of the ceiling. “I don’t think I’d be invited.”
“Ms. Potts was quite adamant that you attend.” Jarvis responded.
Loki furrowed his eyebrows, frowning. Agent Coulson was the one that ended up in the hospital because of him. Why would his presence possibly be wanted at the man’s party? Did he feel bad for injuring the man to such an extent? Of course. But he’d been doing what he had to in order to escape and keep the Tesseract within his possession. He never thought he’d have to face the man that he’d nearly killed, especially under such conditions. “Are you absolutely sure that she wasn’t adamant that I don’t attend?”
“She believes it would be a good opportunity to prove that your intentions are good, as well as to apologize.”
“This is fantastic, brother!” Thor said, clapping Loki on the shoulder. “Son of Coul is a great man, and will surely forgive you.”
Loki didn’t feel so certain. He could recall—in great clarity—the moment the Chitauri scepter had pierced Coulson’s chest. The words they’d exchanged. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agent didn’t seem like the kind of person who would forgive the Asgardian who nearly murdered him.
“The party is at 8:00 this evening, and the attire is semi-formal.”
Loki heaved a heavy sigh, feeling nearly overwhelmed by the turn of events.
“You’re looking healthy, Coulson.” Tony said when he greeted the agent at the door of his apartment. His arm was in a sling, but other than that, he hardly looked like a man who had been in the hospital for over two weeks. He looked like the same old Coulson.
“And you haven’t gotten yourself killed yet, Stark.” The agent replied easily, smiling.
The playboy was actually feeling a lot more nervous than he should have been as he returned the smile, stepping into the apartment. He knew that once the rest of the team had said their greetings, Coulson and Loki would see each other and something would happen—though he didn’t know if it would be bad or really bad. With a glance at the small coffee table in the center of the room, Tony could see no bowl of pistachios in which a gun could be concealed, but that didn’t mean there weren’t guns hidden in every single nook and cranny of the apartment. It could even be like in Men in Black where the wall actually moves to reveal an entire armory.
Tony took a deep breath and told himself to stop freaking out.
Once everyone but Thor and Loki had stepped in, the group stared at the door apprehensively. “It is good to see you well, Son of Coul!” Thor exclaimed.
“Thank you, Tho-” Coulson’s eyes landed on Loki, who was standing awkwardly behind his brother, almost like a five year old hiding behind his mother. There were a few moments of silence in which the tension could be felt, as though it were a physical entity inflowing around the room.
“My sincerest apologies.” Loki began, sidestepping Thor. “If the circumstances had been different, I never would have wished harm upon you.”
“And you’re…good now?” Coulson clarified, glaring.
“I would not describe myself as ‘good’, agent, but I’m certainly not evil.”
Coulson’s lip twitched, smiling dangerously.
There were a few seconds in which he just looked at the god, nothing in his stance giving away animosity of any sort. It almost appeared like he was speaking to an old friend, but everyone in the room already knew differently.
However, he suddenly surged forward, decking Loki in the face with his good arm. Loki fell back a few steps, hand going instinctually up to his nose, but it didn’t appear that Coulson wanted a fight. Instead, he extended his hand. “Now let’s call it even.” He said with a small smirk.
Loki took the man’s outstretched hand somewhat awkwardly, shaking as best he could while applying pressure to his nose. Nodding, he spoke quietly. “Thank you.”
Slowly, the tension dispersed and the group seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief once they assured that Loki wasn’t going to meet an untimely demise at the hands of an angry Agent Coulson.
Reluctantly, Tony approached the black-haired Asgardian. “How’s your nose?” He asked quietly, trying not to look at Thor. He was still a bit freaked out by that afternoon’s staring, honestly. He had no clue what Thor did or didn’t know, and the blond gave nothing away in his expression.
Loki checked his hand for any blood, shrugging when he found none. “I think that Agent Coulson should take some lessons from you, Mr. Stark.”
Tony smiled at that, looking up to meet Loki’s eyes. “It seems that you’re making a habit of getting punched in the face. You should stop that. It might mess up your good looks.”
Loki’s eyes widened slightly, and he could feel the heat rising in his cheeks. Tony’s eyes widened, as well, but for a completely different reason. He needed to learn to think before he spoke, because he was going to get himself into a horrible situation one day. He was thinking Thor and Mjӧlnir. Loki and Tony stared at each other for a few moments, both of them grappling to find something to say. With every passing second, it became more and more awkward, and it was a road leading swiftly to disaster. They were saved, however, when Pepper rushed forward, two plastic cups full of punch in her hands. “Would you two like drinks?” She asked chirpily, glancing at Tony with something not-so-happy.
“Thank you, Ms. Potts.” Loki said, taking one of the cups and practically hiding behind it.
“Tony, can I talk to you for a moment?” Pepper asked, her smile much less cheery than it had been a few seconds earlier.
“Uh, sure, Pep.” Tony replied, one last glance at Loki. He followed his assistant over to the snack table where she shoved a plate into his hands and began stacking chips and other assorted foods onto it.
“Tony, I know how you are at parties. Don’t do something you’re going to regret, okay?” She said quietly, glancing over to where Loki was standing with Thor. “If I catch you drinking anything alcoholic, I will tell Jarvis to disable the science channel for a week.”
“Hey! Bruce watches that channel, too!” Tony protested, shoving a cheeto from the plate into his mouth.
Pepper just gave him a look, taking the plate into her own hands. “I’ll work around it. My point is, you aren’t the best at anything other than one night stands, and I don’t think you want him becoming one of those.” She put a finger to his chest, smiling. “No alcohol.”
With that, she was off to mingle with the other guests and Tony was left with a cup full of punch and a wildly beating heart.
He was so accustomed to flirting thoughtlessly with people he didn’t harbor romantic feelings for, and he wasn’t used to having to censor himself. Sometimes, he just spoke without thinking. Charming remarks were his forte, and he barely put any effort into coming up with them.
With a sip of the too-sweet punch, the genius made his way to one of the couches, setting his cup on the coffee table. There were a surprisingly large amount of people milling around the room. Coulson was standing near the door with Natasha and Clint, smiling brightly. There was a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in one corner whose eyes were scanning the room suspiciously, as was their trade. Maria Hill stood near them, more suited for the social scene. She was talking to Pepper and some man who looked vaguely familiar to Tony—most likely Pepper’s boyfriend. Bruce, who hadn’t actually wanted to attend the party at all, was talking to a nice-looking blonde who Tony would have been interested in if Loki had been elsewhere.
The Asgardian in question was standing next to Thor, his arms crossed and his lips drawn into a thin line. He looked like a trapped animal, and it didn’t suit him.
Ten minutes later, when Director Fury arrived, Coulson was actually angrier at him than he’d been at Loki.
“Those cards were vintage!” he cried, pointing accusatorily at his boss.
“It was a moment of desperation.” Fury said in response, keeping his voice quiet.
It was an argument that everyone had honestly been expecting.
Once things calmed down—after Fury promised to use his connections to track down a new set—someone suggested putting music on and Clint volunteered enthusiastically to be DJ. There were quite a few upbeat songs, during which Tony remained seated, judging Hawkeye’s taste in music, until Steve took a seat next to him. “What’s wrong, Cap? Unable to shake your groove thang?”
Steve rolled his eyes, leaning his elbows on his knees as his eyes scanned the crowd. “I’m not really sure how to dance to this modern music.” He confessed. “I mean, I can barely dance at all. This all just seems…complicated.”
Tony heaved a sigh, setting his long-empty cup on the table in front of him before standing. “Come on, I’ll show you.”
“Tony, I don’t-”
“Rogers,” Tony interrupted, “I have nothing better to do, and you’re going to need to learn at some point. Up.”
Steve, defeated, followed Tony to a less-crowded area and attempted to follow what Tony was doing with his hips and legs. Unfortunately, he looked more like someone with a honey badger down his pants than someone who was actually dancing. The obnoxiously-auto tuned song ended and Tony suppressed a smile at Steve’s dejected look. “Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it. Eventually. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a couch to reclaim.” He didn’t want to be caught dancing more than he had to, and he wasn’t going to be the one to teach Steve how to dance. That was a job for a wizard. If he was honest, if he couldn’t have any alcohol, he almost wanted to go home. He liked Coulson—he was a great man, after all—but the party wasn’t his type of party. He liked parties with booze and blondes and strobe lights.
Sending one last smile Steve’s way, he turned abruptly and ran right into someone.
And, of course, with Tony’s luck, how could it be anyone other than Loki?
“Sorry.” The playboy said, feeling suddenly way too close to the god. He felt short compared to the other man, and the feeling of being overwhelmed made him want to flee.
Clint chose that moment to start a slow song, and Tony quickly realized that most of the people on the dance floor were coupling up and getting ready to slow dance. “Er-” he began awkwardly, eyes drifting over to the couch.
“Would you like to dance?” Loki asked quickly, eyes on the floor.
It took Tony a moment to really hear what had just been said, but his heart nearly skipped a beat when he did. A million responses ran through his head—half of them questions—before he finally cleared his throat. “Sure.” He whispered, swallowing hard.
Loki looked surprised at Tony’s response, uncrossing his arms unsurely. “Uh…which one of us leads?”
“You’re taller.” Tony stated, attempting to ignore the way all coherent thoughts flew from his head. It wasn’t a situation he’d felt very many times. A few times in high school, but he’d never felt the breath-taking feelings he was at that very moment. “The taller one leads, right?”
Unsurely, Loki brought his hand to Tony’s hip, twining the fingers of his left hand with Tony’s. Tentatively, he brought his eyes up to meet his dance partner’s. He looked like he wanted to say something, even opened his mouth for a few moments, before pulling his lips into a thin line.
“This is new.” Tony said, if only to fill the silence. The pair began to move to the beat, trying not to step on each other’s feet. “And here I’m the one usually leading.”
“I’ve only danced a handful of times.” Loki admitted. He felt Tony’s grasp on his hand tighten for a fraction of a moment. “And it’s the first time I’ve ever danced on Midgard.”
“Is it much different on Asgard?” Tony was trying desperately to pay attention to the dance steps. The close proximity was testing his willpower, and he would only have to move forward a few inches to capture Loki’s lips in a kiss. He wanted to bring them closer together, envelop himself in Loki’s warmth—his aura.
“Asgardian dances are far more extravagant.” The god explained. In order to be better heard over the music, he moved his head so that their cheeks were nearly touching. “The dancing itself is similar, however. Two people, moving as one across the floor, melding into a sea of other dancers.”
Briefly, Tony wondered if this was how the women he seduced on the dancefloor felt; a flurry of emotion and desire. A desire to be closer—a desire to become two participants in a far more intimate dance. It was an intoxicating feeling, and it felt as though he was falling into the green of Loki’s eyes. “I’m sure you don’t have the faster songs on Asgard, though.”
“We do have higher-tempo songs, but not like the music that’s popular here.” Loki could feel Tony’s breath on his neck, sending shivers racing down his spine. “The popular Midgardian music sounds more like grinding metal. I much prefer the sounds of instruments being played.”
“Remind me to tell you Thor’s reaction to dubstep.” Tony said absently.
Loki took a deep breath, closing his eyes. “Did Thor…say anything strange to you today?”
Tony hesitated for a moment, wishing he could have the ability to decipher Loki’s thoughts. “Kind of.”
“I, um. What was it? If you don’t wish to tell me, I’ll understand, I just…” He trailed off, not quite sure how to explain his personal involvement in Thor’s interrogation of Tony.
“He, uh, asked me if I’m opposed to a relationship with another man.” Tony said, trying to keep his voice straight. There was no way that Loki could know his feelings. No way. It was impossible for the god to suspect anything other than platonic emotions, so he told himself to stop worrying. “And I’m not. I mean, people are people.” He explained quickly.
“I apologize if Thor made you uncomfortable in any way.” Loki had closed his eyes, now he was just swaying to the music. Tony took the opportunity to examine the way the god’s cheekbones connected to his jaw, ignoring the impulse to run his hand across the pale skin.
“There are things that Thor could have done that would have been far more uncomfortable.” The playboy said, recalling the first fight he’d had with the God of Thunder. Thor could pack a punch.
Loki smiled, opening his eyes. They danced in silence for the rest of the song, both of them trying to figure out what was going on in the other’s head. Tony felt almost drunk, though he’d not had any alcohol, his heart fluttering in his chest every so often. He expected Loki to be able to feel his heartbeat, but if he did, he made no sign of acknowledgement. Finally, the song came to an end, Clint abruptly changing to some horrible pop song.
“I, uh.” Tony said, hating the way his mind wasn’t working. “I think I’m going to get some fresh air.”
Without a backward glance, Tony dashed into the hallway, repeatedly pressing the ‘down’ button on the elevator. He needed to breathe air that was free of Loki. He needed a moment to clear his head and ensure that he didn’t do anything stupid. After too long a moment, the elevator doors slid open and he lunged inside, pressing the ground floor button. While the elevator made its descent, Tony tapped his foot impatiently, trying his hardest not to pace. His heart was beating too fast, his cheeks flushed.
The lobby manager of the apartment complex barely even looked up from his magazine as Tony passed, fleeing into the cool night air. He rubbed a hand across his face, leaning against the brick wall next to the alley entrance. He’d just shared a dance with Loki. Loki had asked him to dance. It still felt unreal. Closing his eyes, he felt his heartbeat calm slightly as a breeze wafted against his skin
He heard the cocking of the gun first. Before he could even open his eyes, he heard the shot; felt the sharp hot pain in his chest. There was a shadowed figure fleeing down the alley, and he was helpless. His hands flew up to clutch his chest, trying to stay on his feet but losing to battle against gravity. He fell forward onto his knees, hearing his name being yelled over his heart beating in his ears.
Loki stepped out of the apartment complex, onto the sidewalk, just as he saw Tony fall forward. Panic filled every fiber of his being as sprinted forward, unsure of what to do. Tony’s eyes were fluttering, trying to stay open and the god knelt down beside him, hands trying to find the bullet wound. “Tony, stay with me.” He muttered, his hands quickly becoming covered in blood as he scrambled to find the source.
Loki had no clue what to do. His hands were shaking too severely to get Tony’s shirt off, let alone find a way to stop the bleeding, and he was beginning to hyperventilate, tears pooling in his eyes. He was used to having the power to fix things like this, but he was left helpless, watching Tony struggle to keep consciousness. “Odin!” He yelled suddenly, his voice strangled. “I can’t let him die! Please, just give me enough power to heal him. I don’t care how long you make me stay here, but please let me heal him! I- I can’t let him die.” He placed his hands over the wound, closing his eyes and willing the magic to come. Just as he thought Odin was choosing to ignore him, he felt the familiar spark in his blood, his hands glowing a deep green.
Focusing on Tony’s chest, Loki willed the bullet out. It was a few inches away from the arc reactor—for which Loki was thankful, because he didn’t think he could fix that—and as the bullet came away from flesh, the tissue began fusing together. Loki palmed the bullet, feeling the magic leave him yet again. It left him with a less-empty feeling this time around, but he couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to himself.
Tony began to stir and Loki shoved the bullet into his pocket, his hands still covered in Tony’s blood. “To-”
Hands were placed around his throat before he could finish, cutting off his breath, nails digging painfully into sensitive skin. He tried to pry the hands off of him, but they wouldn’t budge, and he felt himself being dragged backwards into the alleyway. He struggled against the force pulling him, trying to find some sort of foothold that would allow him to fight off the offender, but his shoes had no traction and his struggling only seemed to be hurting him. Tony was sitting up, looking around in confusion. Loki tried to yell out his name, plead for help, but he could only make a coughing noise because of the strangulation he was experiencing.
“Don’t make a sound.” The person holding Loki whispered dangerously in his ear, pulling him into a shadow. “If you try to speak—if you try to escape—I will have Mr. Stark murdered before your eyes. Do you understand that?”
Loki nodded, his eyes never leaving the confused form illuminated by the nearby streetlight. The hands on his neck loosened fractionally, but he still couldn’t breathe comfortably. Tony was standing, his hands tearing at his blood-stained clothes. He scanned the area, his eyes travelling right across the shadow Loki and his abductor were concealed in. He began walking away, back to the apartment building.
“Walk.” The abductor commanded, turning Loki in the opposite direction. Loki did as he was told, panic and fear flooding his veins. At least Tony was okay he told himself, hand curling around the bullet. He’d saved Tony’s life.
Tony’s re-entrance into the apartment was an awkward affair. At seeing the blood on his clothing, everyone stopped. Pepper rushed forward immediately, hands tearing at Tony’s shirt in an attempt to find out how injured he was. “Tony, what happened? Are you okay??!”
Tony’s eyes scanned the room for Loki as he nodded. “I think so, at least.”
Pepper discovered the bullet hole in his shirt and nearly let out a cry. “Tony, were you shot?!”
“I think so.” Tony replied honestly. He could remember the pain. He could remember falling to the ground, watching as the shadowed silhouette fled into the darkness.
“But…where’s the wound?” Pepper’s voice was confused as she prodded Tony’s skin looking for the bullet hole. She couldn’t find one, however.
Tony swallowed, his eyes once again trying to track Loki down in the crowd. He remembered the god above him, looking frantic. It had seemed so vivid; he didn’t think it was a dream. “I think Loki healed me.”
At this, Thor stepped forward. “His powers have been returned?”
Tony shrugged. He didn’t have the answer, honestly. “Hasn’t he come back in yet?” Thor and Pepper shook their heads and Tony felt unease rise in his chest. Loki should have returned before him. “If his powers have been returned, would he just go back to Asgard?”
Thor shook his head. He knew of Loki’s feelings, and highly doubted he would just leave at the first opportunity he got. “I would know.”
“Right.” Tony said, unsure. It was entirely possible that Loki had chosen to wander off. He felt fingers close around his wrist and looked over to see Steve, his brow furrowed.
“HYDRA?” He whispered, too quietly for anyone other than him and Tony to hear.
Tony felt as though a bucket of ice had been poured over his head. If Loki had been taken—after saving his life—the playboy didn’t think he’d be able to forgive himself. “Fury, I think it’s time to get back to work.”
Thanks for reading!
In the last chapter, I asked if you guys wanted smut. I've gotten some mixed feelings on this, which I already addressed on my Tumblr, but I know not all of you follow me/have a Tumblr, so I'm saying it here, too. A lot of people seemed kind of worried that it would just be AND SUDDENLY SMUT and it would mess up the flow and everything. You really don't have to worry about that, guys. I was asking for the sake of later chapters, and if something less PG wrote itself in, I wanted to know if you guys would be okay with it.
I'm keeping this pace, however, and I don't think there will be any smut--if there is any at all--in the next few chapters.
I hope to have the next chapter up sometime in the middle of the week, but I'm going to be incredibly busy for the next five days, so I'm going to have to sneak writing in.
Thanks for being awesome, everyone! <3
Chapter 6: Knight in Shining Iron Man Armor
In which Tony searches for Loki and Loki gets rescued.
I had two pages of this written this morning, and then I felt bad because it had been a week since I last updated, so I focused and got it done.
This was written after watching nothing but Supernatural, so I almost accidentally crossover'd. (I might actually work on an Avengers/SPN crossover, but this definitely isn't it.)
Thanks for your feedback, everyone! It always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony felt cold.
The kind of frigid feeling that melded into his bloodstream, freezing his heart and creating a feeling of dread that refused to leave him. He felt as though his arc reactor had been violently ripped from his chest, even though it remained safely in place. Loki had been captured because of him; because of his idiocy. The situation played itself over and over again as Tony thought of all the things he could have done differently. If he’d chosen to stay inside or had been paying more attention—if he’d not gotten shot, he would have been able to protect Loki. Loki would still be there.
The mansion’s kitchen was quiet and the playboy was making a mental list of all the ways he could make Fury’s life hell for not letting him stay and help in the search. The team, save for Thor, had been sent home. S.H.I.E.L.D. had promised updates if anything happened, but Tony had a feeling they weren’t putting all of their resources into the search.
“Tony, you should be asleep.”
The genius looked up from his cup of coffee that had gradually been growing cold, nearly jumping at the touch of Pepper’s hand on his shoulder. “Would if I could, Pep.”
Pepper frowned, moving to the opposite side of the counter to sit, taking Tony’s hands in her own. “Listen to me. This isn’t your fault. HYDRA would have gotten him one way or another and they’re the only ones to blame for this. Not you.”
Tony scoffed, shaking his head in mild disbelief. The rational part of his mind had been telling him the same thing for however many hours he’d been in the kitchen, but he refused to listen. The only Avenger awake, he’d been sitting at the counter torturing himself with thoughts of losing Loki. Every so often, his hand would travel to the blossom of red that remained on his shirt, a reminder that he’d be dead if it hadn’t been for the Asgardian.
And he wasn’t even able to protect the man who saved his life.
“I could have done something.” Tony insisted, not entirely sure who he was trying to convince. “I should have-”
“Should have what?” Pepper’s hair was tousled in a few places because she’d fallen asleep on the couch. She looked exhausted. “You couldn’t have known that they were going to choose that exact moment to attack, so stop blaming yourself. We’ll get him back.”
Tony was silent for a few long moments, staring into his coffee cup. They’d get him back sooner, he though bitterly, if he was there helping with the search. “We danced, Loki and I.” He said finally, smiling briefly at the memory.
“I saw.” Pepper smiled as well, like a proud mother.
Tony heaved a frustrated sigh and pulled his hands from his assistant’s grasp, running one through his hair while the other came up to cover his mouth. “What am I doing, Pepper? This has gotten way out of hand. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do if something-” he swallowed a lump that was quickly rising in his throat, “if something happens to him.”
“Nothing’s going to happen to him, Tony.” Pepper assured.
“Gah, it’s not even just that. It’s…all of these feelings. I don’t know how to handle them, Pepper, you should know that. I don’t do love. I don’t do permanence. Hell, I can’t even remember the last time I slow danced with someone at anything other than a Stark gala, and half the time it was only to woo my dance partner.”
The strawberry blonde sent him a tired smile, standing up to pour herself a cup of coffee. “Love is a natural thing, Tony. I know that there are so many things that could go wrong, but our relationship isn’t a good model to go off of. We didn’t work out. But you and Loki…you two are like-minded and I think you’d be good for each other. Just…” she stopped for a moment, her mouth open as she thought of the right words, “Just don’t run away at the first thought of long-term commitment.”
“Yeah, Tony, you do.” Pepper gave her boss a hard stare before smirking, taking a sip of her coffee. “Get some sleep, I’m heading home.”
“Right now?” Tony asked, glancing down at his watch. “It’s nearly three in the morning, Pep. You’re always welcome here.”
“Thanks, but your couch isn’t as comfortable as my own bed.” She moved to give him a quick hug, her keys clutched in her hand. “I’ll see you later. And stop worrying, okay? He’s okay.”
The S.H.I.E.L.D. control room was bustling with agents and Tony glared at each and every one of them through his sunglasses. Were they even trying to find Loki? He was pretty sure he saw one of them on Facebook and another playing BioShock, but he held his tongue and tried to calm himself down. To his left, Steve cleared his throat. “Have you made much progress, director?”
“They don’t want to be found.” Fury replied shortly, crossing his arms at the note of accusation in Steve’s voice.
From the other side of the room, a computer beeped, ‘no results found’ flashing in the center of the screen. The agent seated in front of it let out a frustrated groan and spun his chair around to face Fury. “Sir, I don’t understand why we’re putting so much effort into this. Loki destroyed half of the city. Wouldn’t it be simpler to just leave him with HYDRA and let the problem sort itself out?”
Tony surged forward before he was even aware that his feet were moving. He grabbed the front of the agent’s shirt, yanking him to his feet and bringing his face in close. “Correct me if I’m wrong here, but you’re saying that you would leave a helpless human in the hands of one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations out there.” His voice was low; dangerous and dripping with venom. “Yeah, Loki was our enemy. He was a douche. But you don’t understand the full story, and in case you’ve forgotten, he also saved my life last night. So if you have some personal issue in finding him, I suggest you leave. Before I do something I regret.”
“Mr. Stark, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t take it upon yourself to dismiss my agents.” Fury approached the two, his gaze distinctly lacking the anger that was present in his voice. Tony let go of the slightly taller man’s shirt, shoving him backwards slightly before crossing his arms. “That’s my job.” Fury continued. “Agent Wayne, it’s clear to me that you aren’t going to be an asset in this search, so go home.”
Tony thought that the punishment wasn’t severe enough, but just observed as the agent grabbed his coat and silently left the room. The silence that had crept up during the argument—if you could call it an argument—quickly dispersed as everyone returned to work so they didn’t suffer the same fate as their colleague.
“Director, isn’t there anything else you can do?” Steve asked quietly, placing a hand on Tony’s shoulder as both a warning and a comfort.
“Captain, we’re doing all we can at the moment. Wherever HYDRA took him, they did a good job of covering their tracks. Thor’s out on the streets looking for things we might have missed and we’re inspecting nearly 40 different camera feeds.”
Tony bit his lip in order to suppress the smart-ass remark that was sure to surface and shrugged away from Steve. “Right. Well, you guys can stay here and play the waiting game, but I’m going to go do something useful.”
He turned to leave and Steve opened his mouth as if to protest, but just stood wordlessly as Tony stormed into the hallway.
He knew that S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t have unlimited power, and he was grateful that they were at least putting in a little bit of effort, but that didn’t stop him from being pissed off. He felt like he needed to be doing something; scouring every inch of the planet to find Loki. And if he couldn’t, he’d do it all over again.
“Tony, where do you think you’re going?”
The playboy turned to see Natasha, closing the door to the control room and closing the distance between them. “I’m going to find Loki.”
“And how do you expect to do that?” the spy asked, crossing her arms. “Unless you implanted a tracker in him without telling us.”
“I have to at least try. I feel useless sitting around here watching people on computers.” Tony shoved his hands in his pockets, his hands curling into fists.
“Tell me something, Tony.” Natasha said quietly, her eyes knowing. “What is it about Loki that has you so infatuated?”
“I… I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Tony, don’t lie to me, I can see right through you. Just answer the question.”
The genius hesitated for a moment, feeling as though Natasha’s gaze could see through him, making him feel like he needed to put more distance between them. “He and I are…alike. I understand what he went through, and it makes sense that he turned out the way he did. I don’t think he’s evil, Natasha. I think he’s a misunderstood hero.”
Natasha nodded before pulling her phone out of her pocket. “Look, you aren’t going to find him on your own. You need help.”
“And what are you suggesting?”
“I can help you.”
“And why would you want to do that?”
The spy raised an eyebrow, smiling slightly. “It doesn’t matter how I feel about Loki, HYDRA is our enemy and if they want him, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop them. If they managed to do something to him, you and Thor would have the most personal attachment and go off and do something stupid. We need both of you at the top of your game.”
Tony nodded his head thoughtfully, acknowledging the logic behind Natasha’s argument. If Loki got killed by HYDRA, damn straight he’d do something stupid. And Thor wasn’t the most forward-thinking when it came to his brother. It was kind of a hit first, ask questions when his enemies were dead kind of situation. “Okay. Where do we start?"
Loki awoke with a groan. His head was pounding and he tried to move around to assess the damage. Opening his eyes, he was happy to see that he was alone and in one piece, even if he felt worse than he did after his fight with the Avengers. He was in a room; small, cold, and smelling of rotting oranges. He was on a mattress that had been laid out on the floor, but the floor would have probably been more comfortable to sleep on. There were no windows; only a door that looked like it could keep even Thor out.
Loki got slowly to his feet, feeling the room spin as he did so. Approaching the door, he looked out of a small opening that was covered in metal wire, seeing a guard standing at the opposite wall. “Where am I?” He asked, managing to sound superior even as his legs were threatening to drop out from beneath him.
“Look who’s finally awake.” The guard replied, taking a few steps closer to the door. He appeared well-armed, but even if he wasn’t he could probably rip Loki to shreds without even trying. “I have to say, I’m surprised. The drug should have kept you out for a few more hours, at least.”
“I demand to speak to the one in charge.” Loki said evenly, his hands going to the door to keep him from swaying. He refused to show weakness to someone so unworthy.
“I don’t think you’re in a position to be making demands, pretty boy. We may need you alive, but we don’t need you in perfect condition.”
The threat made Loki realize that he was really in over his head. He was still a mortal. Odin had given him just enough of his powers to heal Tony, but that was it. Feeling much less courageous, he cleared his throat. “If it’s not too much trouble, could you please alert your boss that I’m awake and would like a few words?” He asked, the polite words twisted with malice.
“I don’t think that will be necessary.” A new voice—distinctly feminine and British— chimed from down the hall. Soon, a woman came within eye-shot and she smiled sweetly at Loki. “He already knows that, love. Unfortunately, he’s a bit busy, so you get me instead.”
“And you are?” Loki sneered, breathing deeply and trying his hardest to remain on his feet.
The woman was slightly shorter than him with dark hair that cascaded down her shoulders. “My name doesn’t matter. In fact, we aren’t here because of me. We’re here because of you, Loki Odinson. Or, do you prefer Laufeyson?” She smiled at the Asgardian’s grimace before continuing. “You have information that we want.”
“Oh, do tell, what would that be?”
Without warning, the woman shoved her fist onto the door, sneering as Loki fell back. “Don’t take an attitude with me. It won’t get you anywhere.”
Loki swayed, but managed to stay on his feet, closing his eyes as the room spun again. “My apologies.”
“We want the Tesseract. Guess who last had it in their possession.”
“I don’t have it.” The god said as though it should be obvious. Were his kidnappers blissfully unaware of the fact that the Tesseract was back on Asgard under the careful watch of Odin?
“You may not have it, but you have access to it. You’re going to bring it to us.”
“I am unable to do that.” Loki said, biting back anything that would potentially get him killed.
“Stop lying!” the woman shouted.
“Stop being a moron!” Loki threw back, his head pounding at the volume. “Aren’t you wondering why I haven’t teleported out of here by now?”
“We drugged you.”
“Drugs wouldn’t affect my powers you idiotic quim! I am on Earth because I’m being punished for my earlier actions. I’m about as human as you or him right now, and I don’t have access to Asgard until I’ve proven myself.”
The woman glared for a few moments, her lip rising in the corner. “We saw you just before we took you. You healed Tony Stark. You can’t lie this time, Loki Laufeyson. There’s no way that you’re going to get out of this.”
There was a brief moment in which Loki considered arguing, but anything he said would be taken as a lie. He was, to use a Midgardian vernacular, completely fucked. Taking a deep breath, he stepped towards the door once again, his eyes growing dark. “You don’t have to believe me, but it would probably benefit you if you did. Now, tell me,” His hand which was pressed against the cold metal of the door curled into a fist and he leaned in so that his face was nearly touching the screen. “Did your men lay a single finger on anyone else after I was taken?”
The woman kept her face straight, staring the god straight in the eyes. “That for me to know and you to find out. Now, I think we’re done here.”
With that, a metal plate slid over the opening in the door, leaving Loki with a feeling of cold dread. He managed to get back to the mattress before falling to the floor, thoughts going to Tony and the team. He didn’t want them getting killed because of him, least of all the genius who’d let him into his home.
After a few minutes, the Asgardian finally succumbed to sleep, the drug still flowing through his system.
“So this is where you got shot?”
Tony nodded as Natasha pressed her fingers to the asphalt as though it would bring her an answer. Thor stood beside the playboy, looking worn out and distraught. “I have already searched here, with no luck.” He explained.
He’d only given them a brief summary of his search, but it was enough to make it clear how desperate Thor was to get his brother back. He’d already lost him once, he wasn’t going to let it happen again. He’d even returned to Asgard to speak with Odin, but the journey had brought no answers, only more questions. Loki was apparently out of Heimdall’s sight, which could never be a good thing.
“You’re powerful, Thor, but I have knowledge that you don’t.” Natasha explained, straightening and making her way further into the alley.
The Thunder God nodded, though he seemed to take offense to the comment. He eyes wandered over to Tony and a questioning look crossed over his face. “Why are you here, Man of Iron?”
“To search for Loki? I think that’s obvious.”
“That is not what I meant. What are your intentions? You could be back at S.H.I.E.L.D.”
“I could, but I don’t feel like it.” Tony knew where Thor was going with the question—why was he bothering searching for Loki. Why did he care so much? That was dangerous territory, and Tony decided to change the subject before he was on the receiving end of Mjӧlnir. “Find anything yet, Natasha?”
“There are footprints, if you look closely. Two different pairs. I’m not even going to ask what this grime is.” She said, looking at the black smudges that had gotten on her hand before wiping it on her pants. “And right here, she crouched down in front of the wall, pointing. “Bloody fingerprints.”
Thor, alarmed, stepped forward. “You don’t think-”
The spy put a hand up to silence the blond, shaking her head. “I’m going to assume it was Tony’s. From what I can tell, Loki healed Tony before being dragged over here to this wall. If it was his own blood, we’d see a trail.”
Tony’s hand gripped his briefcase—which held his suit—tighter, staring at the fingerprints. “Well, as nice as it is that you’re having so much fun playing detective, I don’t see how that helps us find him.” He also didn’t see how S.H.I.E.L.D. was so bad at some simple field work.
Natasha glared, but pointed further down the alley. “This is a process, Stark.” She snapped. “Life isn’t always full of instant gratification, so deal with it.”
Tony and Thor followed their teammate, sharing a look.
“What is our personal investment in this endeavor?” Thor asked without looking over.
Tony nearly rolled his eyes at Thor’s persistence, thinking of something to say that wouldn’t bring his feelings into the light. “He saved my life.”
The blond Asgardian seemed to take this in, his fist that wasn’t holding Mjӧlnir clenching and unclenching at his side. “Anthony Stark, I should not be telling you this,” he started, taking a breath before continuing. “but-”
“We’ve got tire tracks over here!” Natasha called, interrupting Thor.
Tony whipped out his phone, taking a picture of the tracks before sending them to Jarvis to analyze. “This will hopefully tell us what vehicle they drove away in.” he explained at seeing Thor’s look of confusion. He went to the other side of the alley and looked onto the street. “They should have been captured on that traffic cam.” He said, pointing at a camera just above one of the stoplights.
Ten minutes later, they were in the coffee shop across the street, waiting for Jarvis to get the results back to them. They were sitting near the window, sipping overpriced coffee drinks, with Tony staring out the window. He imagined the van driving by, Loki shoved in the back, and everyone who just went on with their lives. It pulled painfully at his heart, but made him even more determined to find the god.
Suddenly, his phone chimed and he pulled it out of his pocket, smiling when he saw the message. “We’ve got our make and model!” He announced. “I’m forwarding this to Fury, let’s get back the HQ and catch us some HYDRA agents.”
The look on Fury’s face when he learned that Tony had actually made progress in his search was priceless. Nonetheless, they checked their camera feeds for a van that fit the description Jarvis had found, and they found a surprising amount of results.
“I have to say, Mr. Stark, I’m impressed.” The director said, nodding as his gaze swept over his agents.
“As nice as that is, I wasn’t trying to impress you, Fury.” Tony replied.
Steve sent him a look that clearly said ‘play nice’, but he ignored it. Honestly, if a team made up of Natasha, Tony, and Thor could figure out that much in less time than it took Fury to do his hair in the morning, S.H.I.E.L.D. needed to reconsider the people they hired. Maybe put a bit more of the budget into training.
“We’ve found a location, sir!” One of the agents—the one who had been playing BioShock, actually—chimed, turning to look at the director.
“We’re going to get a team together.” Fury said, but Tony was already opening the briefcase.
“Sorry, Nick, but I’m not waiting for you to assemble your agents.”
“I’m going with you.” Thor stated, his eyes bright and alive with hope.
Fury gave them a look, but he knew when it was futile to argue. “Keep your comms hooked up. We’ll have a team there within twenty minutes, don’t do anything stupid that would get your ass killed until we show up. Understand?”
Tony, already in his suit, gave the S.H.I.E.L.D. director a cocky smirk before flipping his faceplate down. “It’s nice to know you’re concerned about my ass, Fury.”
When Loki came around again, there was a plate of food and a bottle of water sitting a couple feet away from the door. The bottle hadn’t been opened, so he removed the cap and downed half of it in a couple seconds. He chose to ignore the food, unsure of whether or not they’d drugged it, and preferred to be safe rather than sorry. He’d be better off if he could think through situations, not focus on trying to remain standing.
He waited for a few moments before finishing off the water, tossing the bottle into the corner of the room. Shouting could be heard from the hallway, but Loki couldn’t make out any of the words, even when he stood and placed his ear against the door. The shouting came closer, followed by gunshots, then a thud against the door.
Loki took a few steps back and the metal plate over the opening slid up, revealing the bright eyes of the Iron Man helmet. “Tony?” The god asked incredulously.
“In the flesh.” Tony replied, opening the door. “Are you okay? Can you walk?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” The god said, his heart fluttering. He hadn’t expected to be saved so soon, and especially not by Tony. He was relieved to see the man safe, however, and had to resist the urge to rip apart the suit and wrap the man in his arms.
“Come on, let’s get you out of here.”
Once he was out of the room, Loki took the opportunity to really look around. He’d been kept in the basement level of a normal looking house. The guard that had been outside of his door earlier was on the floor, his gun lying out of his reach, the barrel twisted upwards. They made their way up a creaky set of stairs and Loki saw even more HYDRA agents scattered across the floor.
“Brother!” Thor rushed towards Loki, catching the trickster in a bone-crushing hug. “Have they done anything to you?”
“I’m fine, Thor.” Loki insisted, trying to escape from the embrace. He hurt in places he didn’t even know existed, and would rather not be bear-hugged, lest he break in two.
There were a few S.H.I.E.L.D. agents milling around, putting handcuffs on people and taking inventory. Most of them avoided Loki like the plague, but it was understandable. At least they bothered to show up at all.
“I must go to Asgard.” Thor said, taking an unsure look at his brother. “Do you need me for anything?”
“Go, Thor.” Loki replied. “I’ve suffered worse.”
Tony brought his faceplate, grabbing one of the nearby agents. “Do you guys have this covered?”
“Yes, Mr. Stark.”
“Great. I’m taking Loki back to the mansion; don’t forget to tell Fury that Thor and I did most of the work.”
With a slight grin, Tony motioned for Loki to follow him and the made their way outside where a car was waiting. Climbing in the backseat, the Asgardian watched as the playboy’s suit morphed into a briefcase, leaving him in a pair of wrinkled pants and yet another band t-shirt. He took a seat next to Loki before poking his head into the front seat. “Thanks for coming on such short notice, Happy.”
“No problem, boss.”
Loki took one last look at the house he’d been kept in and closed his eyes, realizing how bad things could have gotten if he hadn’t been saved. He was already sore and he’d only been there for a day. He shuddered to think of how much worse of a condition he could have been found in.
“S.H.I.E.L.D. will want a statement.” Tony said, turning in his seat. “But I’ll tell Fury to fuck off until you’re ready.”
“I’m the one who should be thanking you.” The genius said seriously, his hand moving to his chest. “You saved my life.” He seemed to realize something in that moment and looked up at Loki’s face abruptly. “Does this mean you have your powers back?”
Loki shook his head. “Odin gave me only enough power to heal you, but he apparently doesn’t think I’m ready yet.” He said, hoping Tony wouldn’t inquire into why Odin thought he was worth saving. He’d rather not have to explain the breakdown he’d nearly had when he found the playboy.
“Huh.” Tony pulled his lips into a thin line before running his hand over his forehead. “Well, at least you’ll be here to help us get these guys. Did they tell you what they wanted? Or, no, never mind, don’t answer that. Like I said, you don’t have to say anything until you’re ready.”
When they returned to the mansion, Tony ushered Loki into the bathroom where he pulled a med-kit out of the cabinet. “I figure you’d rather not deal with doctors right now.” He said, earning a grateful nod from the Asgardian. “If you could, take your shirt off for me.”
Tony turned his eyes down to the peroxide he was opening as Loki dragged the shirt over his head. There were only a few cuts, creating lines of red on otherwise pale skin. Gently, the playboy dabbed at the worst ones with the peroxide, hearing Loki’s sharp intake of breath. “You’re in pretty good shape, all considered.”
“You’re to thank for that. If you and my brother had shown up any later, I’m sure I’d look much worse than I currently do.”
Tony set aside the peroxide and grabbed a few Band-Aids, trying to apply them without pressing down to hard. “The cuts will heal fine as long as we keep them clean.” He said, rolling the Band-Aid wrapper in his fingers and flicking it towards the trash can. “We can’t do anything about the bruises.”
“I’ve had worse.” Loki reminded, his hand going to one of the bandages just over his ribs. “My head’s in the worst condition, however.”
Tony opened the medicine cabinet and grabbed the bottle of aspirin, handing it to the god. “That should help.”
Loki took the bottle, eyes scanning over the label almost suspiciously before opening it and dry-swallowing one of the tablets. He put the bottle in his pocket, looking up at Tony.
“I’m glad you’re safe.” He said quietly.
“I could say the same thing about you.”
Tony smiled, bringing his hand up to card through Loki’s hair slightly. “Don’t do anything stupid like that again, got it? I may not feel like saving you next time.” That was a lie. He’d save Loki as many times as he had to. “So, what do you say to some food?”
“I say that that’s the best idea I’ve ever heard.”
Tony closed the med-kit and shoved it back in the cabinet under the sink as Loki pulled his shirt back on gently.
When they entered the kitchen, Steve was already at the counter. “I thought everyone would be hungry.” He explained with a sheepish smile, pouring tomato sauce over a large pan of spaghetti.
“Oh my god Steve, I could marry you.” Tony said overdramatically, nearly drooling at the sight of the food on the counter in front of him. “I can’t even remember the last time I had spaghetti.”
Within ten minutes, the rest of the team had migrated to the kitchen with the promise of food, slowly moving into the dining room and situating themselves around the table. “Oh my god Steve, this is the greatest thing ever.” Clint said through a mouthful of pasta, earning an elbow in the side from Natasha.
“What he means to say,” The spy said with a smile, “is thank you, Steve.”
“You’re welcome. I hope you all like it.” The soldier said, twirling some spaghetti around his fork neatly. “And I’m happy you’re okay, Loki.”
“Thank you.” Loki replied politely, his eyes travelling down to his plate. He couldn’t remember ever having someone care about his well-being as the Avengers did, and it filled his heart with unfamiliar warmth.
“You’re up late.”
Tony looked up at the voice, seeing Loki standing in the doorway of the living room. “I normally am.” He responded. “But you, one the other hand, should be in bed. You’ve had a long day.”
Loki walked over to the couch and sat down beside Tony, pulling his knees up to his chest. “I spent most of my day asleep, actually.” He said.
Tony frowned, feeling that he should have punched each and every HYDRA agent he’d come across a little bit harder. “How’s your head?”
“Much better, thanks.”
“So, I…” Tony looked up at the black TV screen, wondering if he was being too impulsive, “I never got to thank you for the dance.”
Loki’s face grew red and he was glad for the darkness of the room. “Not only have you punched a god in the face, but you’ve danced with one as well. Congratulations.”
“I think I should be congratulating you.” Tony said, smirking. “Tony Stark doesn’t dance with just anyone.” Feeling himself wandering into territory lead solely by impulse, Tony yawned and stood up. “I’m off to bed. I’m only human, after all. Good night.”
“Good night, Tony.” Loki said, watching as the man left the room. Once he was sure Tony was gone, he let out a sigh and leaned his chin on his knees. “I love you.” He whispered to the empty room. One day, he would make Tony his.
Thanks for reading!
Here's a fun fact: the entire time I was writing the scene between Loki and the woman, I was imagining her as Bela from SPN. (I almost named her that, too, but that would be going down crossover road, so I didn't.)
I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter :)
Chapter 7: You Should Know
In which Loki tries to hint and Tony makes mistakes.
I'm constantly surprised by the feedback this story gets. Thank you so much to everyone who's read up until this point. It wouldn't exist without your support.
This chapter is mainly a 'get from point A to point B' type of chapter, and I'm looking forward to the next chapter. The next one's going to be a fun one :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony was becoming ever more frustrated with his inability to figure Loki out. They were at the debriefing meeting in one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s conference rooms discussing the events of the previous day, but Tony’s mind was far from the subject at hand. Instead, he would glance over at Loki when the god wasn’t looking, eyes tracing every inch of his face.
“47 agents in custody,” Fury said, pacing across the floor, “and every single one of them refuses to speak. It makes you wonder how HYDRA trains their agents.”
Tearing his gaze away from the Asgardian across from him, Tony cleared his throat. “Maybe you guys just aren’t as good at your job as you like to think.”
Okay, so he was still a bit angry at S.H.I.E.L.D.
But he felt that his anger was completely justified.
“And I suppose you could do a better job, Stark?” Fury bit back in return, glaring.
“In case you’ve forgotten, Fury, I was the one who saved Loki in the first place.” Tony ignored a look from Thor. “If I’m going to do your job for you, how about you pay me?”
“We’re too busy paying for all the shit you break.”
“What about the woman?”
“We have 26 female agents, Mr. Odinson, you’re going to have to be a bit more specific.” The S.H.I.E.L.D. director snapped. He took a deep breath, turning his body away from the playboy, and slid a file over to Loki. Tony secretly prided himself on his incredible ability to piss Fury off.
The file was filled with photos of the captured HYDRA agents and Loki scanned quickly over them, shaking his head after looking through them twice. “She’s not here.”
It was a scary thought, if he was being honest with himself. She wasn’t a normal agent, that much was clear. She was a higher up. Perhaps even second in command. The fact that she got away meant that there was someone walking free who, quite possibly, had the power behind her to destroy Loki’s life.
“Are you sure, brother?” Thor asked, sliding the file in front of him, not that he’d be able to magically find a picture of the woman.
“I’m sure.” Loki insisted, fists tightening in his lap.
“Can you tell us what she was like?” Fury inquired.
Loki’s eyes were drawn to the table as he thought. “She was slightly shorter than me, although she could have been wearing heels, I’m not sure. She had dark hair, long, and she spoke with a British accent. I only saw her for a few minutes, but I don’t think I’d forget her.”
“Did she say anything?”
“She told me that I needed to retrieve the Tesseract for her boss. She seemed to be under the impression that I still have my powers.”
Fury nodded, jotting something down on a piece of paper. “That’s another thing I’m pretty damn confused about. You say you don’t have your powers—that you’re mortal—but somehow you saved Mr. Stark’s life? That just doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Loki let out a sigh, opening his mouth to speak, but closing it again a few moments later. He glanced over at Tony before looking back to the director. “When I saw Tony get attacked, I called out for Odin to give me enough of my powers to heal him. He did, but it only lasted for a few moments. It was enough to heal Tony, but then they faded once again. End of story.”
Fury seemed to accept this, but stood, straightening his coat. “Thank you gentlemen, I’ll be in touch.”
He left the room, the door closing behind him and Thor was the next to stand. “I apologize for departing so soon, but I have a date with Lady Jane.” He smiled, almost sheepishly, and Tony waved it off.
“Go. Have fun with your girlfriend. Tell her I say hi!”
“My thanks, Man of Iron!” Thor said happily, clapping the shorter man on the shoulder before leaving the room in a rush. Tony glanced almost awkwardly over at Loki, unsure of what to do next. He glanced down at his watch before clearing his throat. “So do you want to go anywhere before we go back to the mansion…or anything?”
“N—well, actually, if it’s not too much trouble, could we stop by a bookstore?”
Loki was good at planning. The way he saw it, it was basically part of the territory of being The God of Mischief. If he didn’t put time into planning things, he may as well be the God of Chaos or something. And, if he did say so himself, he was pretty damn good at making plans.
They arrived at the bookstore and Loki slipped away, making his way into the romance section. It took him a while to find what he wanted, but once he pulled it out, he knew it was the one he needed to get. It was a relatively small paperback with two men on the cover. The smaller man stood in front, shirtless with his eyes closed and arms reaching back to wrap around the neck of the taller man behind him. The taller man, with jeans hanging low on his hips, had his arms wrapped securely around the other’s torso. Rose petals littered the floor around them, and the title—Good Friends, Bad Habits—was scrawled at the top of the page in some curly font.
There could be absolutely no question in anyone’s mind about the subject matter of the book. Just the way Loki wanted it.
Of course, the Asgardian didn’t normally read such books, so he tracked down the sci-fi/fantasy section to find something he’d actually read. He needed erotica for his plan, however. Thor had gone to all the trouble of figuring out Tony’s sexual preference, so Loki figured he’d put the information to good use. Dropping hints seemed to be the best course of action, in any case. If Tony wanted to pick up on them, it was his choice. That way, Loki wouldn’t be forcing the mortal into anything undesirable.
It took him less than five minutes to find a book that suited his tastes. With the erotica tucked casually under his arm, Loki made his way to the magazine section where Tony stood, skimming through some engineering articles with his sunglasses low on his nose. “You ready to go?” He asked, tossing the magazine to the side.
Suppressing his smirk, Loki nodded. “Oh, there’s something else I wanted to look for!” He said, pretending to remember something suddenly. “Would you mind holding these while I look for it?”
Tony took the two books that were being held out to him, doing a double take when he saw the cover of the romance novel. “Uh sure.” He managed to say, watching as Loki disappeared behind a bookcase.
So what if the Asgardian was purchasing porn? So what if it was gay porn? It wasn’t any of Tony’s business.
With a slight blush, the genius flipped the book over, eyes scanning over the synopsis on the back. He didn’t even notice that Loki returned until the god cleared his throat quietly, causing Tony to jump, nearly knocking over a display case. “Did you find what you wanted?” He asked, shoving the two books back at Loki as he felt an intense heat spread through his cheeks.
“No, I suppose they don’t have it.” Loki replied smoothly, turning to walk towards the registers.
The checkout girl smiled up at him as he set the books on the counter, Tony sliding up beside him a few moments later. “This is a great book.” She said, holding up the fantasy novel Loki had chosen. “The movie’s really good, too, but nothing compares to the book. This guy’s one of my favorite author’s and he’s written an episode of Doctor Who, as well as a Batman comic.” The girl went on and on, oblivious to the fact that neither of the men were paying much attention. “And it’s really cool because he’s married to one of my favorite musicians and they’re absolutely perfect for each other!”
“I’m sure the book is wonderful.” Loki said, trying his best to be polite. He didn’t need the author’s biography for Odin’s sake.
“That’ll be $16.22.” The girl said with a smile, placing the books in a plastic bag. “You should read his other books, if you get the chance. They’re really good, too. Um…” The girl looked down at her hands with a blush, smiling shyly. “Maybe we could get some coffee sometime and talk about them?”
Had this girl just asked him out on a…date?
“As nice as that would be,” he said slowly, unsure of how to reject someone’s offer for a date, “I’m afraid I’m already in a relationship.”
The checker looked from Loki to Tony, then back to the god, nodding with understanding. “Oh gosh, I totally should have realized. I’m so sorry! I mean, with the erotica and you two here together, it should have been obvious. You two are cute together, though!”
Loki had never been so confused in his life, realizing that the girl was under the impression that he and Tony were together. The situation sure had turned itself around quickly.
“Thank you.” Tony said before Loki could think of a proper response. “I’m lucky to have a boyfriend like him.”
Loki felt himself being led out of the store, into the passenger seat of Tony’s car. “Didn’t she realize that you’re way too old for her?” The playboy asked with amusement, starting the engine.
“I…What just happened. Back there, I mean. Did she think…did you just act like we’re…together?”
Tony chuckled, flashing a smile at the god before backing out of the parking spot. “She can think whatever she wants. I just figured it would be quicker if I didn’t correct her. And it sure seemed like you were too shocked to do it.”
“I wasn’t shocked.” Loki muttered defensively. “I was just surprised. I wasn’t aware we acted like we are in a relationship.”
“Well, whether we do or not, she should learn to hit on people her own age.”
Loki smiled out the window, replaying Tony’s words in his mind. ‘I’m lucky to have a boyfriend like him.’
He wasn’t going to delude himself into thinking that Tony meant any of it, but just hearing the words leave his mouth was enough to set his heart aflutter. It didn’t hurt to pretend, just for a few moments, that he and Tony were right for each other.
“So tell me, Tony,” Pepper began, stirring two packets of sugar into her cup of coffee. “How are you and Prince Charming doing?”
Tony rolled his eyes, taking a sip of his iced latte. “I think I’m going crazy.”
“I think you mean crazier.”
Tony smiled sarcastically before rubbing the bridge of his nose. “I’m pretty sure it’s just me seeing what I want to see, but it kind of seems that he does all of these things that are specifically geared to drive me mad. Like, I’ll just be standing in the kitchen eating some cereal and he’ll totally get in my personal space to open the cabinet behind me.”
“Have you considered that maybe he’s trying to tell you something?” Pepper asked as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I mean, maybe he’s trying to tell you that he likes you back.”
Tony shook his head, looking to the side where a mother sat with her two daughters. “I seriously doubt it.” He muttered grimly.
Pepper gave a small, sad smile, putting her hand on Tony’s forearm. “Tony, have you ever considered that maybe you’re just in denial?”
“I’m not—Pepper, no, I’m not in denial. I just…don’t think love comes that easy.”
“No, it doesn’t.” Pepper agreed, leaning closer to look Tony in the eyes. “But sometimes you just need to stop slamming the door every time opportunity knocks.” She tightened her grip slightly before leaning back into her chair, moving a lock of hair behind her ear. “You’re never going to get anywhere with him if you keep pushing away the possibility of being more than friends.”
“I don’t even know if he considers us friends, Pep. A few months ago he was my worst enemy.”
“You seem to forget that he saved your life.”
“I save lives all the time, but it doesn’t mean I’m friends with everyone who lives because of me. It’s just the right thing to do.”
“Tony!” Pepper said, exasperated. “Stop being so damn stubborn!”
“I’m not being stubborn! I’m just… I’m protecting myself.”
Tony’s gaze drifted around the room again and Pepper let out a sigh, her look of frustration morphing into one of sympathy. “Tony, sometimes you protect yourself from the wrong things. You have to leave yourself vulnerable. I mean, Jude and I…” the strawberry blonde smiled sheepishly, reaching into her purse. “If I tell you something, do you promise to keep it between us?”
“Pepper, of course. What is it? Are you pregnant? Did he convince you to move to Canada?”
“No, Tony.” She pulled a small black box out, opening it and setting it between them. “Jude asked me to marry him.”
Tony stared at the ring for a few moments, admiring the way it glimmered slightly in the light. “I…whoa.” He said, still trying to process the situation. “Pepper, that’s wonderful!”
“I know.” Pepper closed the box with a fond smile. “But let this be an example for you, Stark. Good things happen. Love works out.”
“But what if it really is me seeing what I want to? What if Loki wants nothing to do with me?”
“Stop worrying, you moron! If he didn’t want anything to do with you, he’d make it obvious.” Pepper took a sip of her coffee, shaking her head. “You know, for someone who’s so smooth when it comes to one night stands, you sure do suck at relationships.”
“And this is news?” Tony raised an eyebrow, look saying ‘you dated me, you should know’.
“I’m just saying. I know how you are, and I don’t expect you to be perfect at all the touchy-feely stuff, but I would at least expect you to stop being a high-schooler and get your shit together.”
Tony had to admit, Pepper had a point. If Loki said no, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Hell, Loki had nearly brought around the end of the world once, and it wasn’t going to happen because of Tony’s romantic feelings for him, requited or not.
“I worry about you sometimes, Tony.” Pepper said seriously. “You are a genius when it comes to technology. But when it comes to human emotions, you just don’t get it. It’s even worse with your own feelings. So do me a favor, okay? Don’t mess this up.”
When Tony returned to the mansion, he found Bruce and Steve sitting on the couch watching some action movie. “You want to join us?” The archer asked between explosions, his eyes barely leaving the screen. He had a bowl of popcorn in his lap and had shoved his mouth full as he spoke.
“No thanks.” Tony said, leaving the room just before Clint yet out a yell at one of the characters in the movie. The playboy rolled his eyes, entering the elevator, his fingers hovering over the button for his workshop. After a few seconds of deliberation, he pressed the button, ignoring the impulse to go speak to Loki in his room. He was feeling brave, but not that brave.
As the doors slid open, he made his way into his workshop and he brought his computers to life. “Jarvis, bring up footage from the suit during the rescue.”
“Anything in particular that you’re looking for, sir?”
“Uhh…” Tony thought for a moment before pressing a few keys on the screen. “I want to see if there are any women that aren’t dressed like a regular HYDRA agent.”
The first view of the video brought up nothing new. Tony started out by kicking the door in, taking out two agents with a well-placed repulsor blast. Things went smoothly from there, and the genius couldn’t find anything out of place. It wasn’t until his fourth time viewing it—after telling Jarvis to enlarge to picture two different times—that he saw it. A door on the basement level, barely visible, slipping shut almost silently. “Send this clip to Fury, Jarvis.” Tony muttered, feeling defeated at having missed something so vital. She had been right under his nose, and he’d just let her escape. “It’s time for S.H.I.E.L.D. to earn their paycheck.”
Sitting back on one of the work benches, Tony considered heading up to Loki’s room and confessing his feelings. After getting up five different times, only to chicken out and sit back down, he decided that he wasn’t going to get anything done while sober.
He went over to the mini-fridge he kept in the corner of the room, pulling out a bottle of scotch and taking a swig.
An hour and a half later, he was sufficiently drunk and felt as though he could take on the world.
He stumbled to the elevator, setting his resolve to confess his feelings, but the elevator opened on the ground floor instead. Steve raised an eyebrow when he saw the state Tony was in and shook his head. “Tony, are you drunk?”
“I’m not drunk, Captain Bossy Pants.” The billionaire said, pointing accusatorily. “I’m just a bit buzzed.”
“Right.” The soldier replied, clearly not believing a word. “Well let’s get you to bed.”
“But I have to go talk to Loki!” Tony argued, trying to move past the super soldier. Which, of course, went about as well as trying to push through a wall.
“Tony, you’re drunk. Whatever it is can wait until morning.”
“You don’t understaaaaand. Steve, it’s important. Really important. I don’t need to go to bed, okay?”
Steve heaved a sigh before shaking his head. Responsibility won whatever battle was being waged in his head and he firmly pressed the button for Tony’s floor. “I don’t know what inspired you to get drunk, but you’re going to bed. I’m not going to argue with you, Tony.”
“Oh my god, Steve. I own this mansion and I can kick you out if I want to!” Tony tried to shove the soldier, only to feel the ground shift beneath his feet. Everything inside of the confined space of the elevator was spinning, and the genius fell forward, clinging to the captain and clenching his eyes shut to stop the spinning.
“Oh…my apologies, it looks as though I’m interrupting something.”
Tony opened his eyes to see Loki standing at the elevator doors, looking awkwardly to the far wall. “Lokiiiiii!” the playboy said. “I was just coming to talk to you.”
“Huh. Is that what that was?” Loki sounded…hurt? Tony couldn’t be sure due to his inebriated state, but he shoved himself away from the soldier to stand in front of the Asgardian.
“Steve was just helping my face not get introduced to the floor.” He assured.
“Loki, I’m leaving him in your hands.” Steve said from the elevator, his voice exasperated. “Just put him to bed and maybe get him some water. He’s too stubborn to listen to me.”
“Is he…is Tony drunk?” Loki asked incredulously, focusing once again on Tony who seemed to be swaying slightly.
“Have fun!” Steve called as the elevator doors closed.
“Loki, I was coming to talk to you.” Tony said, grinning.
“We’re going to go with Captain Rogers’s advice here, Tony. Let’s get you to bed.”
“All you have to do is ask.” Tony replied flirtatiously.
Loki’s eyes widened at the implications in those words. “You require sleep. Come on.”
“I don’t want to!” Tony whined.
“Stop being a child, Stark.” The god warned. “You can either go without a fight, or I’ll force you.”
Tony smirked, taking a step forward to place a hand on the side of Loki’s face. “Forceful. I like it.”
Ignoring the heat in his cheeks, Loki stepped back, feeling overwhelmed. It was almost tempting to just leave the playboy in the hallway and return to his own room, but he knew Tony would probably do something stupid. Like choke on the carpet or get his hand stuck in the heating vent or something. “What can I do to make you go to bed?” He asked, deciding compromise was the only way to get through to the boozed up human.
“I’ll go to bed if you come with me.”
“You’re testing my resolve, Stark. You’re drunk out of your mind and you need sleep. Come on, let’s go to your room and we can talk this out in the morning.” Loki tried to coax the playboy into the elevator, but it didn’t work.
“I came up here in the first place to talk to you, I’m not leaving.”
“We’re talking!” the god was getting a bit frustrated, wishing he had his powers so he could at least shut Tony up. The billionaire was even worse drunk than he was sober.
“No, that’s not what I meant.” The genius said. He took a few steps forward until he was almost pinning Loki to the wall. “I wanted to talk about us and all of these things that I feel when I’m around you.” Tony made some sort of motion with his hands, but it only looked like flailing.
Loki closed his eyes, slowly building up the resolve to push the shorter man away. Under any other circumstance, he would be overjoyed. But Tony was drunk and, most likely, looking for a quick fuck. Loki refused to be just a one night stand. He wouldn’t bring himself to such a level. “You’re drunk.” He reminded, pulling away.
“Don’t talk to me like you know what I’m talking about!” Tony said, seeming unsure of what he just said, contradicting himself. He blinked a few times to clear his vision, taking Loki’s hand in his own. “I wouldn’t be saying these things if they weren’t true.”
Loki wanted to believe it, but he knew how humans could be when under the influence of alcohol. He took a deep breath, removing his hand and placing it on the playboy’s shoulder to keep him at an arm’s length. “How about we negotiate?” He asked slowly, as though he was dealing with a child. “I’ll let you come to my bed, but only if you promise to sleep. We’ll talk things over in the morning, okay?”
Tony seemed to consider this before deciding it was acceptable and nodding. Loki led him to the room that was only a yard or so down the hallway, pointing to the bed. “Lay down, I’ll get you some water.”
Tony did as he was told, sinking into the plush blankets and pillows of Loki’s bed. He was nearly drifting off when the Asgardian returned, holding out a glass of water. “Drink this, it will help.”
“Thanks.” The billionaire muttered, downing the water in only a few seconds before lying back down. With a smile, he patted the area beside him, beckoning Loki over.
“Tony, don’t do something you’ll regret.” The god said, taking a few steps towards the recliner chair he’d moved over to the window.
“I like it when you say my name.”
“Go to sleep.”
“Were you aware that you have sinfully beautiful eyes?”
“I can’t hear you, I’m asleep.”
“Seriously. You’re just, like, perfect”
“Tony.” Loki said emphatically, about ready to throw a book at the man occupying his bed. “Go. To. Sleep.”
There were a few moments of silence. “I’ll go to sleep if you come over here.”
“That would be irresponsible of me.”
“Look at how many fucks I give about responsibility. I promise I’ll shut up if you just come over here and lay with me.”
Loki had never felt so torn. Every fiber of his being wanted to give in and move across the room, but his mind told him no.
Of course, if the only thing they were going to do would be sleeping…
With a loud sigh, the god got to his feet and climbed into his bed, slipping under the covers. Tony pulled him closer, an arm around the taller man’s waist, and Loki enjoyed it, despite his better judgment.
He soon found himself drifting off, drinking in the scent of Tony and feeling the playboy’s body pressed close against his own.
“Do you think we should wake them up?”
Bruce and Steve stood at the door to Loki’s room, staring down at the two men intertwined on the bed. Bruce had his arms crossed, leaning against the doorframe. “I don’t know, it could be awkward.”
“Do you think they…” Steve blushed, “Uh, fondued?”
“You know? Do you think they, uh,”
“Are you asking me if I think they had sex?”
Steve nodded timidly and Bruce furrowed his eyebrows. “Well, their clothes are still on, so let’s just stay out of it.”
“Well…do we just leave them like this?”
The scientist shrugged, shoving his hands in his pocket. “I don’ necessarily want to deal with a hungover Tony.”
Steve nodded, biting his lip slightly as he looked over at Tony and Loki once again. They looked…almost cute. In a completely weird way. “Right.”
Shutting the door gently behind them, Bruce and Steve made their way away from the room.
A few moments later, Tony opened his eyes carefully. His head was killing him. He felt as though he’d been Hulk Smashed. He moved slightly and realized that he was curled up with…wait, was that Loki?
He couldn’t remember how he got there. His mind was drawing a blank, and quite frankly, he was seriously afraid that he’d done something that he would severely regret in the long run. He cleared his throat slightly, ignoring the taste in his mouth and tried to get up carefully. Unfortunately, gravity seemed to be working against him and his legs buckled the moment his feet hit the floor.
“Are you alright?”
Tony looked up as Loki poked his head over the mattress, blinking a few times. “I’m good.” The playboy said, his heart beating faster. “I, uh… I hate to ask this, but did I…do anything last night?”
Loki dragged himself upright, draping his legs over the side of the bed. He hated to tell himself ‘I told you so’, but he did anyway. Tony sounded completely aghast at the idea that he’d done something with Loki, and the god knew it had been about being drunk and looking for a quick fuck. “No.” He said simply.
Tony pushed himself off the floor with a frown. “Look, I’m sorr—”
“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” Loki said quietly. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a shower. You can find your way out.”
Tony watched wordlessly as Loki stormed into the bathroom, almost slamming the door behind him. So he had done something. He should have known. With a sigh full of regret and unspoken feelings, he left the room silently.
Loki let the hot water cascade against his skin as he tried to hold in the sadness he suddenly felt. Tony had only taken his hints to mean that he’d be open for a one night stand, which was the opposite of what he wanted. Had he really allowed himself to become so starry-eyed, losing track of what was true and what he wished to be true? He was better than that. At least, he thought so.
He stood there until the water ran cold, letting the water chill his bones before finally stepping out and wrapping a towel around his waist. “I shouldn’t have given in.” He told himself, his reflection frowning at him from the mirror. “I should have sent him to his own room.”
Tony dialed Pepper’s number, holding his cell phone to his ear. He was lying on the floor of his workshop, the lights dimmed, and feeling like an idiot. After a few rings, Pepper answered. “Tony?”
“Hey Pepper.” Tony replied.
Tony almost laughed at how in-tune Pepper was to the sound of his voice. She could tell that something was wrong in an instant, even over the phone. “I may have done something stupid.”
A pause. “Oh?”
“Last night I…” Tony took a breath, feeling his heart tug painfully. “I got drunk. And I have no idea what I did, but I woke up with Loki. We were in his bed and our clothes were still on, but I think I said something to offend him.”
Pepper sighed loudly. “You’re an idiot, Stark. Look, the only way to fix this is to talk to him—while sober—so you’re going to have to get yourself out of this.”
“I just feel so…” Tony closed his eyes. “Awful.”
“I thought you’d learned your lesson about getting drunk. Tony, you were doing so well.”
“I didn’t call you to have this conversation.” Tony warned, though he knew his assistant’s words were true. “I just…what do I say? How do I fix this?”
“That’s something you’re going to have to figure out on your own. I’m kind of busy running your company at the moment.” There was a muffled voice in the background. “I’ll call you later, okay? Don’t mess anything else up. No more alcohol. Go eat something and drink a lot of water.”
There was a click and Tony was submerged into the noise of his own thoughts. He refused to let it end before it even started. He’d fix it. Somehow.
But first, he needed to get some food and fix the hangover that was currently killing him. Then he’d fix things.
As usual, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING. The next chapter will be up within a week, I promise.
Chapter 8: Matter of Time
In which Tony and Loki think about each other and HYDRA once again enters the picture.
I am constantly surprised by how many hits this story is getting. I LOVE getting feedback, and you guys always leave me the nicest comments. Thank you so much for continuing to stick with me, and I hope you like chapter 8. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony dodged Clint’s punch, jumping to the side and looping an elbow around the archer’s knee, knocking him to the training mats. Clint rolled into it, springing back up in a flash and leaping forward to throw yet another punch at his sparring partner. The sounds of heavy breathing bounced off the walls as Tony elbowed Clint with particular strength, causing his teammate to double over. “I think it’s safe to say I won that one.” The playboy said, his voice lacking any sense of victory. He wasn’t fighting to practice, he was fighting to fight. He was in a bad mood and sparring was his way of venting.
Especially when alcohol was off the table.
Releasing a breathy laugh, Clint fell to the mats, back to the floor as he tried to get his breath back. “Yeah, only because that was totally unfair.”
Tony just raised an eyebrow, rolling his shoulder and stretching slightly. “You only think it’s unfair because you lost.”
The archer rolled his eyes, sitting up and grabbing a water bottle. “So tell me,” he took a few gulps of water, eying the playboy, “who pissed in your cornflakes this morning? And, yesterday morning, for that matter.”
“Nobody pissed in my cornflakes, Legolas.” The genius quipped, draping a towel over his neck.
“Right. Well, I don’t think you’re fooling anyone. You’ve been pissy for the past two days, Stark. And I’m pretty sure I know why. Or, at least, who the cause of it is.”
“Oh, yeah? Then tell me, who’s the one who pissed in my cornflakes?”
“I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Loki.”
Tony opened his mouth to say something, then closed it when Clint’s guess fully hit him. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Really? Because for the past two days, you two have been treating each other like awkward ex-girlfriends who keep adding you as a friend on Facebook. Whenever you’re in the same room together, the tension is unbearable and I honestly can’t tell whether Loki is going to kill you or bake you a cake.” Clint paused, turning to look Tony in the eyes. “We’re a team, you know. I consider us friends. Don’t treat me like I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
Tony heaved a sigh, grabbing Clint’s water bottle and taking a drink. “Honestly, I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
“See? Now I know something went down. I want details.”
“I offended him.” Tony replied simply. “There. End of story.” Re-capping the water bottle, he tossed it back to Clint as he turned for the door.
“Just apologize, you moron!” Cling called as the door to the training room clicked shut.
Tony almost had to laugh at the redundancy of the archer’s advice. He’d tried apologizing. Oh, had he tried apologizing. Every time he approached Loki to start the conversation, however, the god either made a hasty retreat or fully immersed himself in whatever conversation he was having at the time. Tony wanted to talk, but Loki didn’t want to be talked to. The Asgardian was one stubborn bastard.
One stubborn, beautiful, charming, intelligent bastard.
The one thing that actually managed to frustrate Tony more than being given the cold shoulder was the fact that he couldn’t even remember what he’d done to offend Loki in the first place. As hard as he tried to remember, there was a blank in his memory that he couldn’t think past, and his mind insisted on filling it with worst-case scenarios.
He knew what alcohol could do to him. He knew that it was entirely possible that he’d acted like a douchebag, but he sincerely hoped he’d had enough forward thinking to realize that Loki wasn’t some blonde bimbo he could fuck and forget. It was horrifying to think that he could have treated the god as anything other than a complete gentleman. Loki deserved so much more. Tony had no clue what Asgardian dating protocol was like, but he doubted it had anything to do with one night stands and dating jerks.
As Tony felt the elevator move, he let out a sigh and ran a hand through his hair. He’d never felt like such an idiot before. He’d offended people and he’d pissed people off, but none of them were Loki. Loki had already been through so much, and Tony didn’t want to be the cause of any more pain.
Thor glanced over at his younger brother, worry evident in his eyes. Loki was quieter than he usually was, more subdued and sullen. He was lounging on the couch beside Thor, a book open in his lap. His eyes were still though, focusing on something other than the words. He was too caught up in thought to read, and that was a worrying thought, indeed.
The Thunder God opened his mouth to say something, turning to his brother, when Tony walked into the living room. At his entrance Loki looked up, slamming his book closed and standing abruptly. Thor watched as his little brother stormed silently out of the room, leaving Tony staring after him with an undefinable look on his face.
“Does something trouble you, Anthony Stark?” The Thunder God asked, raising an eyebrow with a suspicious glance to the door his brother had just walked through.
Tony heaved a sigh, looking rather defeated. “Nope. Nothing at all.”
Loki was well aware of the fact that he was acting like a child, but he couldn’t really be bothered to care. He was protecting himself; rebuilding the wall around his heart that had been torn down when he’d been stripped of his powers. Of course, with the way that Tony had acted, it’s not as though he would care very much. Keeping his distance from Tony would end it there. If the playboy got any more under Loki’s skin than he already was, the god was most likely going to get his heart broken, and he refused to let that happen.
He slipped into his room, closing the door behind him and tossing his book on the bed. He couldn’t keep this up—all the fleeing and avoidance. It was exhausting, and on top of his already-rattled state of mind, Loki didn’t know how long he’d be able continue living under the same roof as Tony without having a mental break of some sort.
He wanted to escape. At least if he was back on Asgard, he wouldn’t get his expectations up about what people thought of him. He’d thought that Tony was different. Tony seemed to understand him and they had a certain chemistry that seemed like it was actually worth something.
Loki didn’t know how long he’s been lost in his own reverie, but he jumped when there was a knock at his door. Blinking out of his stupor, he stood up a bit too quickly and opened the door, trying to keep a passive face. He fully expected it to be Tony, or maybe Thor, though he’d become a bit less clingy, but he was admittedly surprised to see Clint Barton.
Hawkeye didn’t look entirely comfortable, he posture stiff and awkward, but he gave a slight smile anyway. “I was wondering if I, uh, could talk to you.”
Keeping his face emotionless, Loki nodded and stepped back, ushering Clint into the room. “Is there something you need?” He asked politely.
Clint leaned on the desk, crossing his arms and looking awkwardly from Loki to the carpet. He appeared uncomfortable, as though he was itching to reach for a weapon in case Loki decided to strike suddenly. “Look, I know it’s none of my business,” he took a moment to sort out his words, taking a deep breath, “but I think it would be good for everyone in this house if you and Tony fixed…whatever it is between you.”
Loki pulled his lips into a thin line, feeling himself grow tense. Had Tony told anyone that there were issues between them? “And what would you know about whatever it is that is going on between Mr. Stark and myself?”
The archer shrugged. “Honestly, I just know that he did something to offend you and that you two have spent the last two days pouting at each other.”
“I have been doing no such thing!” Loki said defensively, his mask finally breaking.
“Whoa there, calm down.” Clint said, putting his hands up in defense. When he was sure Loki wasn’t going to stab him in the throat with a pair of scissors, he stood up straighter and shoved his hands in his pockets. “All I’m saying is that you and Tony aren’t doing anyone any favors by having this attitude. He does stupid things, okay? That’s basically the norm for him, but he’s usually well-meaning. I just think it would be best for everyone if you two, like, made up or something.”
“And what if I have no desire for reconciliation?”
Clint let out a huff before rolling his eyes. “Then that’s your choice, I guess. But here’s just a reminder that you’re living under Tony’s roof, because Tony let you live here. Like I said, he has a tendency to do stupid things, but you shouldn’t hold it against him.”
“Why do you care, anyway?” Loki asked, feeling the familiar tug on his heart that normally had something to do with Tony. “I’ve given you no reason to assist me in any way.”
“Tony’s a friend and a teammate, and I don’t want him distracted in battle because of you.” Although it might make him a bit more lethal. “And it’s obvious to everyone in this house that you and Tony are fighting for some reason, and it’s getting ridiculous. Tony’s been in such a bad mood lately, he almost made Steve cry. I’m pretty sure he would have made Banner Hulk out if Natasha hadn’t been there. You’ve gotten under his skin.”
Loki didn’t know how to respond so he just shrugged noncommittally. He told himself that he was irritated because he didn’t need anyone telling him what to do, but he knew deep down inside that Clint had struck a nerve. Apparently Loki had gotten under Tony’s skin, just as much as Tony had gotten under Loki’s skin.
It didn’t mean anything, however.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” That god said finally, watching as the archer left the room, closing the door behind him.
Loki took a deep breath, feeling his heart beating in his ears. He wasn’t aware that everyone in the household knew that they were at odds, but it was unsettling to know that he was wearing his heart on his sleeve. He closed his eyes briefly, feeling lost, before taking a few steps forward and flopping ungracefully onto the bed. He didn’t want to give up Tony’s friendship, but at the same time, just being around the man created a static charge in the air around them. It was intoxicating, and it would pull Loki in with ease.
As Loki stared up at the ceiling, he wondered how long he’d be stuck with the Avengers. HYDRA remained a threat to him, especially if the British woman hadn’t been captured, but Loki could face them on his own once he had his powers back. He was in a position where he had no choice but to seek the Avengers’ protection, but he was tired of being a burden.
He stayed like that for a long time, swallowed by the plush comforter of the king sized bed. However, he soon became restless and rolled off, heading into the hallway. He was resigned to the fact that he’d have to deal with Tony sooner or later, but he wasn’t going to seek the man out. Really, Tony was the one who had to apologize, so Loki only had to cease his avoidance and allow the man to approach him.
“Jarvis, run diagnostics on the suit’s hydraulics system.”
Tony was in his workshop, Black Sabbath blasting in the background, in an attempt to tear his mind away from the issues of real life. Science was much easier to work with. He didn’t have to deal with offending science or having science backtalk him.
“Again, sir? I’m nearly certain the hydraulics are just as they were ten minutes ago.”
Okay, so science didn’t usually backtalk him.
“Then check the internal systems or something. Just find something that I can fix.”
Tony pulled up another screen, watching the scan. Everything seemed to be in perfect working condition. Hydraulics were fine, the system was fine, and movement was brilliant. There weren’t even any scratches or dings on the suit’s surface.
The genius let out a groan, dismissing the screen and crossing his arms. There were a lot of projects he could start working on, but a lot of them were for the team and he still needed some feedback. Muting his music, he turned off the monitors and left the room, determined to find something to do.
He wanted to ignore the elephant that was taking up space in the center of the room. Loki had been his singular thought for almost two days straight, and he kept telling himself that he wouldn’t be able to force the man into any conversations. As much as he really, really wanted to apologize, he needed to give the man some time. Whatever it was that he’d said or did under the influence of alcohol was his own fault, and he was just going to have to deal with the consequences.
The playboy made his way into the living room, which was thankfully empty, and sat back on the couch. He flipped through a couple hundred channels before tossing the remote down and laying back, closing his eyes. It wasn’t long before he was sleeping, allowing whatever procedural cop show that was on lull him to sleep.
He was dragged out of unconsciousness as he felt…was that a hand in his hair? He opened his eyes slowly, trying to ascertain whether he was dreaming or not. Unfortunately, when he saw whose lap his head was laying in, he was entirely unsure which he’d have preferred.
Loki was watching TV—some ridiculous reality show and he’d somehow managed to move Tony’s head to his lap without waking him up. The god’s hand was curled in Tony’s hair, carding through it absentmindedly every so often. Tony managed some sort of questioning sound, his chest clenching up in both panic and elation.
“That was quite eloquent, Mr. Stark.” Loki said without looking away from the television, a small smirk gracing his features. His elbow was on the arm of the couch with his chin resting upon his hand.
Tony was confused. Beyond confused, actually, because Loki was willingly putting himself within speaking distance of the playboy. Briefly, he wondered if he was having some sort of lucid dream, brought on by the amount of stress he was dealing with. “Excuse me for being a bit startled.” He said, not bothering to sit up and remove himself from Loki’s lap. Hey, he didn’t get himself into that position, and at least it would prevent the god from running away again. “You’ve only been ignoring me for the past two days. Care to explain why I’m in your lap?” Tony crossed his arms, staring up at Loki’s face.
The god finally looked down, his eyebrow raised. “Say Yes to the Dress is on.”
“There are like, five other places you could have chosen to sit.”
“The couch has the best view. It’s not my fault you chose to sprawl yourself across it and fall asleep”
Well, Tony had to admit that the view was pretty dang good.
And he wasn’t talking about the TV.
“Why the sudden change of heart?” Tony’s voice was low. Suspicious.
Loki paused for a few moments, his gaze travelling to his hand that was holding the TV remote. He fidgeted awkwardly before letting out a breath. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Loki, you know what I’m talking about. And whatever it is that I did to offend you, I’m sorry.” Tony had the urge to reach up and touch Loki’s face, but he restrained himself. He was still on thin ice. “Booze fucks me up, and I probably wasn’t thinking things through.”
Loki smiled sadly. “I know you weren’t.” he said quietly. “And that’s why I acted the way I did.”
“Look, I hate to ask this but…what exactly did I do?” Tony asked hesitantly. “I can’t remember anything. I honestly have no clue what I’m even apologizing for.”
Loki didn’t know what to say to that. How was he going to explain why he was so upset because Tony hit on him? Tony would either think that it was because Loki was disgusted by him or that he had wanted the flirting to be sincere. “You came onto me.” He said, whispering.
“I…right.” Tony had figured as much. “Did I…did I say anything you found particularly offensive?”
“No. Yes? I just…” Loki felt compelled to be honest, but his heart was tugging painfully and he felt a lump growing in his throat. The stress and chaos of the past weeks were overwhelming him, and he felt like he was breaking. “You treated me as though I was inconsequential and meaningless.” He said, his voice rising in pitch as he spoke. Tony sat up, his hand automatically going to Loki’s shoulder. “And it really wouldn’t bother me so much, but I thought…I was under the impression that there could be more to ‘us’ but the realization that you don’t—” Loki stopped, putting a hand over his mouth and closing his eyes. “I’m sorry.”
Loki launched himself off the couch, heading for the door. He only got a couple of feet away before Tony grabbed his wrist. “Loki, hey.” He said trying to get the Asgardian to calm down.
Loki struggled to free himself from Tony’s grip, doing all he could to escape. Tony wasn’t having that, though, and fought to get Loki’s other wrist as well. “Loki, listen to me.” He coaxed, waiting for the taller man to chill out. “Whatever I did, can we just forget that it happened? I wasn’t thinking straight, and I should have just done this in the first place. Can we start over?”
Finally staying still, Loki was able to pull his wrists away. He crossed his arms, trying to put a protective barrier around himself, as he glanced down at his feet. “I don’t think I’ll be able to forget it, Tony.” He said. The last thing he wanted was to be pushed away yet again by someone he loved, but it was a better option than letting Tony believe that what Loki felt was merely platonic. “I can’t pretend like a part of me didn’t…want your words to be true.”
Looking up at Loki, Tony tried to process the god’s words. Green eyes met brown and he took a deep breath. “I don’t mean forgetting that it happened.” He said, speaking deliberately slowly to prevent him from rushing the words out. “I mean, giving me a clean slate and another chance to do this.”
Tony was in over his head as his discretion was thrown out the window. He reached up, lacing his fingers in Loki’s hair before dragging him down and capturing the Asgardian’s lips with his. His heart was thrumming in his chest, sending shock waves throughout his body. Slowly, his actions caught up with him and he waited for Loki to pull away. The god didn’t however, and they remained like that for a few moments, lips moving slowly together to an unheard beat.
Tony’s hands travelled down to Loki’s hips and the god wrapped his arms around the shorter man’s neck, lacing his fingers together. The playboy had never felt so perfect in his life—as though he was exactly where he was supposed to be. He’d kissed plenty of people before with far more fervor than this, but kissing Loki was different. It made his heart race and the air surrounding them fill with energy, immersing Tony in breathlessness.
“This is what I should have done in the first place.” Tony said, breaking away and leaning his forehead against Loki’s. “I am so sorry if I made you feel meaningless, because you aren’t.”
The quiet moment was destroyed as Tony’s phone went off.
It’s a very very, mad woooorld.
Tony grimaced before answering. “Gotta work on your timing there, Fury.” He said, his lips still tingling.
“Maybe you should tell that to HYDRA, Stark.” Fury bit back.
At the mention of HYDRA, Tony automatically tensed and looked up at Loki. “You’re going to have to clarify. What happened?”
“There was a break in. Security cameras picked up a woman who fits the description Loki gave us.”
“Was anyone hurt?”
“That’s the weird part. She somehow managed to sneak past every guard in the place, break the HYDRA agents out, and leave a note in my office with no one catching her.”
“Looks like your agents are sleeping on the job there, big guy.” Tony said, though he was internally panicking. If every single HYDRA agent had been broken out, the chances of them coming for Loki again were high.
“This isn’t a laughing matter, Stark! We need you and your team down here now. This thing may be more serious than any of us had thought.”
“We’ll be there.” Tony said, his voice flat. He replaced his phone in his pocket and turned to Loki, trying not to show the panic that he felt. “Duty calls.”
“Oh, it’s nothing. Just some routine Avengers…stuff.”
Loki shook his head, looking as though he wanted to step forward, but he didn’t move. “Don’t lie to me. I can see that you’re worried about something.”
Tony closed his eyes for a moment, shoving his hands in his pockets awkwardly. “It’s HYDRA. I’ll explain when we get back, okay? Fury needs us in as soon as possible.” Loki nodded reluctantly, and Tony tried to smile. With a moment’s hesitation, the playboy leaned down and stole one more kiss before turning and leaving, a heavy loud of mixed emotions blossoming in his chest.
Loki was startled from his position on the couch when he heard a bang from down the hallway, emanating from the elevator. He placed his book on the coffee table as he stood up, moving so that he could see the doors of the elevator. There was an extended silence before yet another bang, one that shook the building, and smoke began drifting from the crack between the doors. Loki glanced around for anything he could use as a weapon, but he came up short.
Somewhere in the living room, Natasha had probably hidden a handgun and Clint had probably stashed some arrows, but the was a loop that Loki wasn’t part of, and he had no time to search before the elevator doors slid open.
Or, more correctly, were pried open.
There were two HYDRA agents holding the doors on either side and three more dropped in from the elevator shaft—which was mysteriously void of an actual elevator.
“It’s nice to see you again, Mr. Laufeyson.”
One of the agents stepped forward, catsuit accentuating her hips. She removed the mask that covered her face, revealing her utterly terrifying smile. And Loki would admit, he truly felt a shock of terror run up his spine at the sight of her.
The British woman pulled a phone out of the utility belt on her waist, smile never wavering, and slid the device over to Loki. “We were only mildly inconvenienced when you were rescued.” She purred. The picture on the phone was of Tony and Loki in the car, being driven away by Happy. “But it actually turned out in our favor. Who would have ever imagined that you would become an ally of the Avengers. Sure came in handy, though. Not only were we able to easily track you down, but you’re a weakness to them now.”
Loki glanced from the woman to the picture on the screen, trying to come up with some sort of plan. He managed to discreetly get to the dial pad on the phone and slowly dialed the only number he knew—911. “So who are you?” He asked in an attempt to distract the woman.
“As I’ve said before darling, I’m not important. It’s my boss you should be worried about.”
“Then tell me who your boss is. I’d like to be informed of the kind of scheme I’m being forced into.”
“Come now, you’ve forgotten him so easily? He used to be your boss too, you know. That’s hurtful, Loki. I don’t think he’s going to appreciate being so easily forgotten.”
The name immediately popped into Loki’s head. It was on the tip of his tongue, but he refused to say it. The phone felt suddenly cold in his hands and he severely hoped that the person who had probably picked up on the other end of the line had figured out something was wrong. “I still can’t assist you.” He said, stalling. “I’m powerless and I can’t return to Asgard. Even if I wanted to retrieve the Tesseract for you, I’m stuck in Midgard.”
“You said that last time, but,” The woman put a hand on her hip, paying no mind to the agents on either side of her, “we saw you heal Tony Stark. I simply cannot fathom how you could do that without the use of magic.”
“It was a momentary occurrence. I asked Odin to give me enough power to heal Mr. Stark. He gave it to me. I healed Tony, and then the powers were gone.”
“And that brings up another question that has simply been burning a hole in my mind. You healed him without a second thought. What does he mean to you?”
Suppressing a sneer, Loki glanced around the room subtly. “It’s none of your business.” He snapped. He had to figure out some way to escape; give the authorities enough time to catch the HYDRA agents. He mapped out all of the exits in his head, trying to keep a steady glare on his face as he did so. The elevator apparently wasn’t an option, and even if it was in perfect working condition, he wouldn’t be able to make it past the agents. To his right was the door to the kitchen, from which he could access the stairwell—most likely his best option. The door behind him was a utility closet and the hallway beside it was a dead end, ending with a storage room.
Loki took a deep breath, mentally counting down from five. When he reached zero, he tossed the expensive-looking phone to the British woman’s feet, making a dash for the kitchen as she looked down. He’s almost made it past the doorframe when there was a shot fired, grazing his side. He caught himself as he stumbled forward, running through the pain. He clasped a hand to his side as he finally reached the stairs, using the handrail to launch himself forward.
He heard the heavy footfalls behind him and grimaced every time his running jolted his injury, but he continued his ascent until he reached the floor that housed Tony’s room. Tony’s room would be the safest and probably have something that could be used as a weapon. After a turn into a hallway, he lunged for the door and slammed it shut behind him, locking it.
Dragging a gulp of air into his lungs, he rushed into the connecting bathroom, feeling safer with two doors separating him from his assailants. He heard them pounding on the outer door, making a mental note to apologize to Tony later. His first priority, however, was examining the damage done to his side. Unbuttoning his shirt, he removed it gingerly, throwing it to the side and turning to the mirror. There was a single red gash stretching across his skin, below his ribs and above his hips.
There was blood everywhere, and Loki grabbed a terrycloth from the rack, running it under the faucet. He dabbed gently at his side, trying to clean off as much blood as he could without causing himself too much pain.
It was made especially difficult by the fact that his hands were shaking, adrenaline still flowing through his system. The pounding on the door stopped, but he was too preoccupied to notice. The blood was flowing too quickly and instead of trying to wash it away, Loki settled for holding the cloth there, applying as much pressure as he could. As the adrenaline faded, a sense of cold began flowing through him, clouding his vision and making him dizzy.
Gradually, he crumpled to the floor. The last thing he saw was the bathroom door open, but he didn’t know who the person was. He simply let himself fade into unconsciousness, accepting the fact that he wouldn’t be able to put up much of a fight anyway.
Tony was in the middle of a sentence when his phone beeped. Trailing off, he grabbed it out of his pocket and unlocked it, eyes going wide when he saw the message on the screen. “Looks like we found them.” He said, managing to keep his voice panic-free.
Well, for the most part.
He was too busy activating his briefcase suit to care, and he tossed his phone to Steve. The soldier’s look went from baffled to horrified in an instant and he began barking orders, only ceasing when he saw the look on Fury’s face.
“I’m flying ahead.” Tony said, leaving no room for argument as he leapt out a window. He’d left Loki where he was vulnerable, and while the Avengers mansion was probably one of the safest places, the defenses had been torn down.
Tony had set up an alert system that notified him whenever emergency numbers were dialed in the immediate vicinity of the mansion. Given that Loki was the only one home, there were very few possibilities as to what situation he could be in.
When he finally reached the mansion’s rooftop, he opened the door and came to the shocking realization that they’d disabled Jarvis. He had to admit, HYDRA was getting way too good at their jobs, but it only made him want to kick more ass. He did a quick scan of the top few floors, life signs detected right beside his bedroom.
Well that was weird.
He practically flew down the stairwell, opting for the more subtle route. The agents were caught completely off guard when he swooped in, knocking them out with ease.
“Well, well, Tony Stark coming to rescue our little god once again.”
Tony turned at the voice, already knowing who it was from the accent. “Well, well, the British bitch trying to kidnap him once again. Because it obviously worked so well the first time.”
“The first time may have been a bit messy,” the woman waved a hand dismissively, “but we certainly did learn from our mistakes.”
Tony’s eye caught a splotch of blood on the carpet, eying the guards to see if either of them were bleeding too profusely. Neither were, and the playboy realized that the blood could only belong to one person—the one they were there for.
“Get it into your head that Loki isn’t going to assist you in getting the Tesseract. Every one of your attempts to get him from us is only going to end in disaster, so maybe you should just give up.”
“I’d like to see you try to beat us.” The woman remarked, opening her mouth to say more.
However, she was caught off guard by the roundhouse kick that came from behind as Natasha’s foot caught her shoulder. “I got this, Tony.” The assassin said, pinning the Brit to the ground with a boot.
Tony nodded and kicked in the door to his room. It was easy to fix, and there was no other way in once it was manually locked it Jarvis was offline. He made a beeline for the bathroom and aimed a repulsor blast at the doorknob, knowing that Loki was behind the door. Slowly, the door swung open after its lock had been effectively destroyed and Tony nearly gasped at the sight of his favorite Asgardian crumpled on the floor.
He was still visibly breathing, however, and Tony scooped him up delicately, carrying him out into the hall.
He was going to get Loki to a hospital.
Then he was going to break the hand of the man who’d shot at him.
And then he was going destroy HYDRA, tearing it apart agent by agent if he had to.
Because nobody fucked with a friend of Tony Stark and got away with it. The consequences were doubled when it was someone Tony loved, and Loki had managed to win his heart completely.
I get the feeling that there are only going to be a couple more chapters, but who knows? It's kind of been writing itself, to be honest.
I really love it when you guys leave me feedback, and the next chapter will be up in about a week. I have a history final coming up for the college summer class I'm taking, so I hope that goes well. Once the class is over, I'm going to have a lot more time to focus on writing.
That is, before I start my senior year.
I love you guys :)
Chapter 9: One Who Covets My Defects
In which Loki is doped up on pain meds, information is gathered, and interrogations are performed.
Whoa, hey guys. Sorry that this is both slightly late and slightly shorter than usual; not only did real life sucker punch me, but I kind of got caught up in a Destiel AU. However, I'm pretty sure there's just going to be one more chapter after this, so that's pretty exciting. I hope you enjoy chapter 9! Feedback is welcomed and appreciated!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony stared down at the pale form on the hospital bed, his hand tangled in Loki's hair; hair that was held in stark contrast to the too-white of the room. He didn't belong in a hospital, confined and weak. Loki had lost a lot of blood, but he was stable. The S.H.I.E.L.D. doctors had stitched him up easily enough and put him on some sort of drug to dull the pain. They warned that it would take a while for the god to return to perfect physical condition, however, and the injury was placed in a very unfortunate location. It would be way too easy to tear the stitches, so Loki couldn't move around very much. On the bright side, he'd be treated like a princess until he healed.
"Tony, you should go home."
The genius turned at the quiet voice, his hand slipping quickly from Loki's hair. Bruce stood in the doorframe, his shirt rumpled, a worried smile on his lips.
"I'm fine." Tony insisted. He refused to leave Loki alone again. "Someone should be here when he wakes up."
"That person doesn't have to be you. Thor is just down the hall; I'm sure he'd be more than happy to take your place."
Tony shook his head stubbornly. He was tired—of course he was tired, it was almost one in the morning and he's been in the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters hospital for almost twelve hours. But he couldn't leave. He needed to be there for Loki.
"You need to sleep, Tony. Have you even eaten anything?"
"I can sleep here, Bruce." Tony said, shaking his head.
This earned a sigh from the other scientist, and Tony felt a hand on his shoulder. "I'll get you some coffee and a sandwich, then." His hand tightened slightly before dropping to his side and Tony sent him a grateful smile.
"Thanks." He said quietly, watching as his teammate walked away. As soon as he was sure Bruce has left the room, he once again turned his attention to Loki, his hand travelling to the god's face. He looked so…fragile, and Tony couldn't help feeling responsible. He'd thought that his mansion would have been enough to keep HYDRA out, that out of all the places he could be, Loki would be safe there.
But he'd been proven wrong.
He pulled out his tablet and his Bluetooth, hooking them up and leaning back in his chair. "Jarvis, how much security feed do we have from before the break in?"
"Security feed was working fine until exactly 30 minutes and 21 seconds before the emergency call went out."
"Any clue how they managed to do it?" Tony asked, keeping his voice low so he didn't disturb the quiet that had settled over the room.
"At this point, sir, I have come to no conclusions."
Tony figured as much, but he'd held onto a shred of hope. HYDRA was more powerful than they'd originally thought, especially if they were able to override the mansion's security measures and take Jarvis offline. It was worrying, knowing that there was a force armed with more knowledge than Tony himself had, and the Avengers had gotten on the wrong side of it.
Tony's attention was dragged away from his tablet as Loki began to stir, opening and closing his eyes a few times before he could make out his surroundings. "Loki? Hey, are you okay?"
"Yeah, it's me." The playboy, unsure of how comfortable Loki would be with any contact, placed a hand on his shoulder. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm not quite sure yet. I'll let you know when I figure it out."
Tony smiled, his hand impulsively trailing upwards to shove Loki's hair out of his face. "What do you remember?"
Loki grinned, clearly still under the effects of whatever drug they'd given him, and tilted his head to the side slightly. "I remember kissing." He said matter-of-factly, hand suddenly on the back of Tony's neck, coaxing him down. "I'd like more of that, to be honest."
Tony let out a brief noise of surprise as he was dragged downward, his mind waging an internal battle on whether or not to give into the temptation. With much difficulty, he pulled away, putting his hand over Loki's. "We can't."
"Why not?" Loki asked indignantly and Tony put a finger to his lips.
"Because you're doped up on some sort of painkiller and anyone could walk in."
And even though they were already up to their necks in trouble, Tony was actually legitimately afraid of how the team would react if they caught him fondling their temporary house-mate. Sure, they were accepting, but it just wasn't the right time. Everyone was already under so much stress, they didn't need anything else to add to the burden.
Besides, if someone walked in while they were in Loki's hospital room, someone might think that Tony was taking advantage of him and then everything would just go to hell in a helicarrier.
The genius let out a sigh, scooting his chair a few inches closer to the hospital bed before leaning back. "Is there anything else you remember? About the attack?"
Loki was silent for a few moments, his eyes glued to the ceiling as though it held the answer he was looking for. "I…they blew up the elevator, I think. And then there was gunfire and the smell of blood."
Glancing towards the door, Tony entwined his fingers with Loki's in an attempt to calm the god down. "Look, all that matters is that you're okay."
Loki turned his head to the side, green eyes seeking out brown ones. "Did they—did she escape?"
"She, as well as four other HYDRA agents are currently in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s custody. This time, they're breaking out the maximum security cells."
Loki nodded, his thumb rubbing circles into Tony's palm. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. "I know who they're working for." He said quietly, opening his eyes again, but focusing on something behind Tony. "He's the same one that…no, he didn't give me orders." His hand went limp, his voice breaking. "I was aware of what I was doing but I was so… so angry that I just wanted to see buildings crumble. I wanted to see blood pool at my feet. I felt so much bitterness and hatred towards that which my brother held close and I—I didn't care who I had to destroy to see him suffer." He met Tony's gaze, his eyes glistening with tears that he refused to shed. He looked suddenly too old and too weak, and Tony wanted to erase the agony he saw. "But I regret it every day, Tony. I wasn't in the right state of mind."
"Look, it happened, okay?" Tony said, pulling Loki's hand up and pressing a kiss to his knuckles. "My slate isn't clean, either. I," he took a breath, finding the words surprisingly difficult to say, "I was number one in the weapons manufacturing business, at one point. They called me the Merchant of Death, but I didn't care. You know what I did care about? Money. Fame. The ability I had to get anyone I wanted in bed with me. I honestly thought everything I was doing was okay, that I wasn't hurting anyone. Until one day, I discovered that my friend—the man I trusted and considered a father figure—had been selling my weapons to foreign countries.
"Honestly, I…I don't know if the signs were there and I was just choosing to ignore them or if he really was that great of a liar, but I discovered his deceit when I went overseas to do some weapons testing; you know, showing people how amazing they were. So I could get even more money." Tony smiled sadly, his eyes far away. "I was in a convoy with some U.S. soldiers when we were attacked by my weapons. I would have died right then if the terrorists hadn't figured out who I was." He took another deep breath, unsure if he could go into detail about all that had been done to him by the Ten Rings. "Long story short, they hooked up a car battery-powered electromagnet to my chest so the shrapnel wouldn't pierce my heart and they put me to work building weapons for them."
"How did you escape?" Loki asked, a look of horror in his eyes. He probably hadn't been expecting the impromptu story-time, and especially not something so personal.
"Instead of weapons for them, I built a suit. It's how Iron Man came to be, actually. I fought my way out and finally escaped. I rebuilt the electromagnet into what you see here—the arc reactor." Tony grinned as though he was showing off his baby, tapping his chest where the circle of glowing light was just barely visible. "My point here, Loki, is that, yeah, you killed people. But so did I. It took me a long time to forgive myself—hell, I don't even know if I really have yet, but I'd rather have a contrite Loki than one who was still trying to kill us."
"Our situations are different, Tony. You had no clue that your weapons were being used in such a way. I knew what I was doing, and yet I still did it. If either of us deserves forgiveness, it's you."
Tony sighed, hating the note of self-loathing in Loki's voice. He knew it well. He and self-loathing had come to be good friends over the years, and it hurt to see it reflected in someone as wonderful as Loki. "Loki, you aren't perfect. No one is. But answer me this: would you change things if you could?"
"Of course I would."
"Well, there you go."
Tony was about to continue when there was a slight knock on the doorframe and his hand slipped easily into his lap. "They only had turkey, I hope that's okay."
Tony nodded to Bruce, motioning to the small bedside table. "I don't like being handed things." He said briefly, though everyone had already heard it before. Bruce set down a Styrofoam cup and a sandwich wrapped in saran wrap, smiling slightly at Loki as he did so.
"It's good to see you awake." He said, before turning back to Tony. "I'm heading back to the mansion. Don't push yourself too hard, okay."
"Yes, mother." Tony muttered, reaching for the sandwich. Bruce patted him on the back before leaving and the genius took a bite of his food, realizing how hungry he actually was. He was good at ignoring things like that. When he set his mind on something, his focus was unchangeable and it was nice to have a teammate who reminded him to do important things like eating and sleeping.
"How long have you been here?" Loki asked, trying to sit up. Tony pushed him back down to the bed, however, shaking his head.
"Don't move, you're going to tear your stitches."
"Answer my question, Stark."
"I've been here for a while, okay?"
Loki sent the playboy a disapproving look, frowning. "Don't worry because of me. I'm fine."
Tony gave a slight eye-roll. "I wasn't worried. I just had nothing better to do. The rest of the team was here anyway, and it's not like I wanted to hang out in a debriefing or something."
"Right." Loki smiled warmly and scooted over a few inches, gently so as not to jostle his side, and motioned for Tony to join him. With a glance towards the door, the playboy sighed without much conviction and re-wrapped his sandwich, placing it on the bedside table and climbing onto the bed.
"It's your fault if your brother kills me."
"If Thor kills you, I'll kill him. Nobody gets to destroy my things, and I'm not letting him lay a finger on you."
Tony craned his neck over slightly and captured Loki's lips with his, chaste and brief, before laying his arm across the Asgardian's chest, careful not to touch his side. "Go to sleep, crazy."
Tony couldn't deny that his feelings were overwhelming, but he'd try and ignore the impulse to run because it was Loki. He finally had the chance at a relationship that went beyond cheap pick-up lines and sex; he wasn't going to throw it away because the thought of leaving his heart out to be broken scared the shit out of him.
"What do you have on her?"
Tony looked through the interrogation window at the woman sitting at the table, crossing his arms over his chest as he glanced over at the S.H.E.I.L.D. director.
"We have fingerprints, but those have brought up more questions than answers." Fury said, eye scanning over a file he had in his hand. "We have the same set of prints in our database already, from almost thirty years ago."
"Do you have a name?"
"Mr. Stark, the only thing we have is this set of prints. No name, no address, no nothing. We got the first fingerprint sample in the late 80s. S.H.I.E.L.D. was doing a recon mission in India and she somehow managed to slip into the base and ransack the place. The only things missing were a camera and the entire food stock. These prints covered nearly everything in the room."
"Okay, that's…weird." Tony tried to make a connection between HYDRA and India, but there weren't any significant ones. HYDRA was active all across the globe, so it would make sense that they had a division there, but something still felt off. "Wait, if that was in the late 80's, she couldn't have been more than, what, 10? 12? How does a kid as young as that break into S.H.I.E.L.D.?"
"You're asking the wrong person." Fury shook his head, looking just as lost as anyone else. "Like I said, more questions."
"Well shouldn't you have one of your men get in there and start asking them?"
"Actually," Fury turned to Tony, face showing no signs of any particular emotion. "We were wondering if you wanted to do the interrogation."
Tony was surprised, but managed to mask it. "I wouldn't be opposed to it." He said, faking indifference. He would have weaseled his way in to question the woman at some point anyway; this was just making it easier for him. "What, are your men too afraid to speak to the woman who slipped past them unnoticed?"
Fury responded with a glare and Tony had to suppress a laugh, knowing that he was right.
Ten minutes later, the door to the interrogations room was being closed behind him and he was strutting forward, taking a seat across from the woman. She looked much the same as she had two days prior, but she looked exhausted and a lot less sure of herself. There was a purple bruise painting the side of her face where Natasha had kicked her, her hair partially concealing it.
"Well, well, well, Tony Stark, in the flesh. Isn't this a surprise?" The woman smirked, leaning forward, her elbows on the table. "Only, it's not a surprise," her voice was barely a whisper, "because I've been expecting you."
Tony scoffed. "Couldn't have come up with something a little more original? Or is that like, standard for all bad guys?"
"It's simply the truth." The woman shrugged, examining her fingernails. "The Avengers have adopted Loki as a little pet, and now you're coming to defend his honor. It's almost cute, really."
"You know, I think we got off on the wrong foot. You breaking into my house, me calling you a British bitch and having my teammate roundhouse kick you. What do you say we start over? I'm Tony Stark, and you are?"
The woman hesitated for a few moments and Tony actually thought she was going to stay quiet, but she held out her hand. "Olivia." She said simply. It could have been an alias, but it was at least something to work off of.
"So I happen to know that you're working for the same person who was Loki's boss during the whole Tesseract snafu."
"Did your little lap dog tell you that?"
"He might have said something like that."
"Well, he was telling the truth. Congratulations on taming the God of Lies, Mr. Stark."
Tony raised an eyebrow, pointing a finger at Olivia. "Is that jealousy I hear? Loki got away, but you didn't. Is that what's going on here? Because Loki escaped with the Tesseract, you're now forced to clean up his mess." The woman was silent and Tony shrugged slightly. "Silence isn't going to faze me. I can just keep talking until something cracks you. So you can either answer my questions as I ask them, or I'll be forced to come to conclusions myself, understand."
"Well, you're a persistent one, aren't you?"
"Let's change the subject a bit, shall we? How did you get into my mansion?"
Tony's voice was serious as he asked the question that had been burning a hole in the back of his mind since he found Loki. He was irked, and rightfully so. When they'd taken Jarvis offline, it nearly corrupted the entire database. Tony had to reload from memory, and even then, any sort of security footage from inside the house while HYDRA was inside was gone.
"Oh, did you like that? I thought it would impress you if we took the alternate route in."
"I'd certainly like to know how you did it."
The woman just shook her head, a faint smile ghosting over her lips. "And you think it's just that easy? Ask and it shall be so?"
"Then how about this? You give me information; I give you information in return." Tony thought it was worth a shot, considering the fact he had nothing else to bargain with. It wasn't his department to trade information for a comfier cell or a new roomie. His options were limited.
"What kind of information would you have that would be useful to me?"
"I don't know—just ask me things. As long as the answer doesn't threaten national security, I'll answer as honestly as possible."
"So I can't threaten national security? Where's the fun in that?"
"Take it or leave it."
"Answer my question first."
Olivia let out a sigh, nearly rolling her eyes. "Well, first, we set up a frequency emitter that shut down matching frequencies, such as your security measures. After that we used a few short-range explosives to blow the roof right above the elevator shaft."
"How did you know where to set the charges?"
"We threatened the contractors."
Tony knew he should have hired his own construction crew, but shrugged it off. There would be time to tell Pepper 'I told you so' when he wasn't in the middle of an interrogation. "Okay, so—"
"I was under the impression that it was my turn to ask for information, Mr. Stark. If you don't mind."
He did mind, actually, but a deal was a deal. "Go right ahead." He said, the words polite but his voice lacking conviction.
"You were the one to rescue Loki the first time. I would have assumed that Thor, being his brother—at least in name—would have been on the front lines. But there you were, rushing in before the bells of war had even sounded."
"That didn't sound like a question." Tony said, uncomfortable with the direction she was taking the conversation. He knew for a fact that there were S.H.I.E.L.D. agents behind the interrogation glass, listening to every word that was being exchanged in the tiny room. They were probably recording the thing, too. He didn't want his life to be the center of break-room gossip, and certainly if it was about he and Loki.
"That was just my observation. Here's my question: what is he to you?"
Tony leaned forward, resting his hands on the metal table. He'd heard somewhere that crossing your arms was a defensive stance and could indicate lying, so he thought he'd better be safe rather than sorry. "He's my friend."
"Why, should he be?"
Olivia shrugged, amusement shining in her eyes. "Would you rush into the lion's den for any of your friends?"
"Yes, I would. My turn. Why does your boss need the Tesseract?"
"Ambitious, aren't we." Tony crossed his legs, breathing a bit easier after the subject change. "He needs it for his plan. Beyond that, I'm not entirely sure. You see, I'm just a temp. Loki was the one he wanted, but the little snake betrayed him. Now, my only job is to retrieve the Tesseract and be on my merry way."
"So you were previously a HYDRA agent?"
"Until I received my promotion, yes." A pause. "What are you hoping to achieve in this interview?"
Tony shrugged, not entirely sure of the answer. He'd discovered how his mansion had been broken into, and that was really the only information he was interested in besides anything that would protect Loki in the long run. Of course, he decided, if he got as much info as possible for S.H.I.E.L.D., they would be in his debt. That would probably be a good ace to have up his sleeve later, so he figured he was doing a pretty good job.
The interrogation lasted another twenty minutes or so, during which Tony managed to discover Olivia's reason for being in India and the approximate location of one of the HYDRA hideouts in New York. Oh yes, he would demand recompense for his craftiness.
Loki, it appeared, would be safe in the immediate future and that fact would probably help Tony sleep a bit better at night.
Loki opened his eyes, trying to adjust to the darkness of the room. His side had woken him—he'd probably moved around too much in his sleep—and he let out a sigh. Carefully, he stood and moved over to his chair by the window, grabbing a book off the dresser. He'd only been out of the hospital for a day and he was already beginning to miss the pain meds that they'd had him on originally. According to one of the main doctors, prolonged exposure to the drug could cause hallucinations and severe side effects, but the god was almost certain it was a lie.
More than likely, the doctor felt bitter about having to treat the man who had nearly destroyed Earth.
Man, some people sure could hold grudges.
Flipping to his bookmarked page, Loki turned on a lamp and tried to focus on the words instead of grudges that may or may not have been held against him. He deserved them. When he was only about half way through the page, there was a soft knock on the door and he called for whoever it was to enter. Thor poked his head around the doorframe, seemingly surprised that his brother was awake at such an hour. "I thought you might want one of these." He said, holding up the bottle of prescription painkillers Loki had been given.
Loki simply smiled. "Thor, you're the best."
The Thunderer handed the bottle to Loki, along with a glass of water and moved to sit on the bed, observing as his brother swallowed one of the pills. "How are you feeling, Loki? Overall?"
"I'm…actually really well, to be honest."
"How are you and Tony doing?"
Loki couldn't hide the slight smile that graced his lips at the mention of the genius and he took another sip of water, free hand tapping out a rhythm on the cover of his book. "Tony and I have…progressed. I don't know how we're going to go forward in the future, but he cares about me and I care about him. And don't tell him I told you, because he fears that you'll fill the protective older brother role and kill him for destroying my innocence."
Thor raised his fist smiling. "I promise not to kill the Man of Iron as long as he does not hurt you. He is my friend, just as you are my brother, and I only wish for the both of you to be happy."
Loki only smiled at Thor, feeling truly accepted for once in his life. He'd never stopped and thought about the possibility that his brother wasn't casting a shadow over him, but creating a protective bulwark to shelter him from the harsh realities of the world. The feeling filled him with warmth that he soon realized was not solely emanating from his emotions.
An electric-like feeling was coursing through his veins and he stood abruptly, knocking the glass of water to the floor. Thor surged forward, but Loki pushed him away, closing his eyes as the truth of the situation hit him. Odin had finally decided to return his powers to him, deeming him worthy. He finally felt complete once again, as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
"Are you alright?" Thor asked, trying in vain to find out what was ailing his brother.
"I'm fine." Loki said, standing straighter. "I am a god once again." Before Thor could even respond, Loki was healing his side and summoning his armor. "I have business to attend to. Goodnight, Thor. I should be back by morning."
And with that, he was gone.
So here are just a few fun facts. I was dangerously close to giving Olivia an actual backstory, but then I punched myself in the face because you guys are here for the FrostIron. Also, her name is based off of Olivia Dunham in Fringe. I'm unoriginal. And right before the interrogation scene, I watched Lie to Me, so I almost accidentally Lightman'd everyone. Sorry.
The next chapter will hopefully be up sooner than this one was, but no guarantees. Thank you so much for sticking with me up to this point, you guys. It means a lot.
Chapter 10: Don't Let Me Down and Down
In which an attempt is made on Loki's life and more trouble is thrown his way than he would prefer.
First and foremost, I need to apologize for the absolute late-ness of this chapter. When I was first writing it, my computer crashed and autosave didn't save it. Then, school started and trigonometry stole all of my time away. However, this chapter is slightly longer than usual, and I hope that makes up for everything. Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony bobbed his head slightly to the beat of the Black Sabbath song that was blasting through his workshop as he welded some parts together, his welding mask hiding his face which was surely contorted into some sort of frown. To say he was in a bad mood would be a bit of an understatement. To say that he felt that a hole had been violently ripped into his chest, a pain throbbing just beneath his arc reactor that he knew wasn’t from the shrapnel, wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
Loki was gone.
Jarvis had woken the genius at some ungodly hour of the morning to tell him that the god had vanished from the premises, and that was that. There was no sign of him throughout the day, and despite the fact the Tony sincerely hoped he would return, his hopes were beginning to wane.
“Sir, Agent Romanoff is requesting entrance to your workshop. Should I tell her you’re busy?” Jarvis said, lowering the volume of the music slightly.
Tony turned off the welder and raised his mask, suppressing a groan. He didn’t want to deal with Natasha. He didn’t want to deal with anyone, truthfully, but he couldn’t shut himself in his workshop forever. “No, just…” he let out a sigh, “just let her in. And shut off the music.”
The music ended abruptly, cutting off in the middle of a guitar solo. Tony heard the door of his workshop sliding open and turned to see Natasha, looking stern. “We need to talk, Stark.”
“And what could you possibly want to talk about, Romanoff?” Tony quipped back, a note of annoyance in his voice.
Natasha’s face grew slightly softer, an almost sad smile gracing her lips. “How are you, Tony?” she asked, and Tony didn’t have to ask what she meant by the question.
Natasha may have been cold sometimes, but she was still human and she cared for those lucky enough to be considered her friends. Tony knew this, but he still couldn’t help but bristle at her tone; sympathetic and pitying. At that moment, he didn’t want anyone’s sympathy—he just wanted to spend some quality time with AC/DC and a bottle of scotch.
Unfortunately for him, there was a blatant absence of any alcohol in the mansion due to the incident a couple weeks prior. If his personal stocks were empty, he would bet money that nobody else had anything more than some cooking wine, and he wasn’t that desperate.
“Look, as much as I appreciate your sympathy, I’m fine.” He said, pulling the welding mask completely off and tossing it on one of the nearby tables.
“That’s not why I’m here.” The assassin said, taking a breath as she frowned slightly. Hesitantly, she pulled a flash drive out of the pocket of her jeans and pushed it into Tony’s palm. “These are S.H.I.E.L.D. security files. Fury sent them over without comment. I guess he wants us to come to our own conclusions.”
Tony closed his hand and watched as Natasha smiled unsurely, a strange mix of emotions playing behind her eyes. She made her way out of the workshop, leaving the billionaire in silence.
When he was completely alone, he looked down at the unassuming flash drive in his palm, knowing that whatever the footage contained, Loki had something to do with it.
And judging by Natasha’s attitude, it wasn’t going to be good news.
“You had so much potential, Loki. But you threw it all away.”
Loki nearly groaned, regretting his decision to break Olivia out of S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters so that she could lead him into the HYDRA base. It had seemed like the easiest plan at the time, but he wasn’t so sure after about an hour of putting up with her. He was doing his best to ignore her incessant insults, but she just kept throwing them his way. He considered briefly, as they walked through the hallway of an abandoned warehouse, that it would be worth it to just kill her and be done with it. He was already there; he could find the rest of the way on his own.
He refrained, however, because the thought of Tony’s reaction made him cringe. He wasn’t a killer anymore. He didn’t want to be one. Thinking back, he never really did. He only wanted the power that came with being a ruler—an opportunity that was ripped violently away from him when he learned that he was never going to be King of Asgard.
“Take a left here.” Olivia instructed as the hallway broke off in either direction.
Loki did so, steering the Brit so that she was walking in front of him. He had tied her hands behind her back, just tight enough to be ever so slightly uncomfortable. After all, she’d put him through much worse. He didn’t feel very sympathetic. The hallway was dark, the lights overhead flickering occasionally and creating a buzz that seemed to echo off the walls. The warehouse was, admittedly, a perfect place for rats like HYDRA to hide.
They walked in silence for a few minutes, Loki bringing a flash of magic to his fingers every so often almost subconsciously. He’d been without his powers for far too long, he thought, and he was quite enjoying the ability to use them whenever he needed to. He felt complete again as he stirred the air with his magic; he’d grown accustomed to the empty feeling in his soul that Odin had left him with, but it felt fantastic to be whole once again. What he didn’t enjoy, however, was the fact that bringing Olivia along meant taking the slow way. He felt bad about leaving the mansion so abruptly, but he had acted on impulse.
His only worry at the time was to get revenge; revenge on the being that had led him so astray. Thanos. He was Loki’s one loose end that had unraveled to create a gaping hole. He needed to fix it; not only for himself but for those he considered his friends. He had been given the chance to turn over a new leaf and start fresh relationships with those who had once wished him dead. He wasn’t going to turn it away.
Loki stopped, looking at the woman. Something in her voice wasn’t quite right—there was a note that said something indecipherable—but the god ignored it. They had made a deal; she show him the HYDRA base and make herself scarce and Loki would, in turn, let her have her freedom. It wasn’t exactly a fair trade, but he was willing to take it if it meant dealing with the bigger problem.
“You’re going to have to untie my hands for me to unlock this door.” Olivia snapped, motioning her head towards the complicated looking computer setup beside the lock.
Loki did so with a snap of his fingers, eyeing the woman warily. She took a moment to stretch her wrists, rubbing gently at the red marks. With a glare at the taller man, she placed her hand on the fingerprint scanner before typing in a code. “Like I said, Laufeyson, you had potential.” She muttered quietly.
“What do you mean by that?” Loki asked in return, taking a careful step forward.
“Do you really think I would just lead you to Thanos without a second thought?” She asked, continuing to type something on the small keyboard. “I made a better second-in-command than you ever did, and I wouldn’t give up that rank for something as simple as freedom.” She smiled, happiness ghosting across her face for a brief moment. “Goodb—”
Olivia pressed the enter key and there was suddenly a blinding light and Loki was barely able to turn around and shield his face before a blast sent him flying across the floor.
He hit his head, and everything began flooding in—colors and scents that burned and made him gasp for fresh air that wasn’t available.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that he should use his powers to teleport to safety, but his body was too focused on dragging itself away from the intense heat of the fire to really care. He managed to get to the next bend of the hallway without any severe burns and he pressed his back against the comparative cool of the wall. The air was still thick with smoke and heat, but he was able to breathe a bit easier.
He felt like a fool.
Olivia was given a choice between loyalty and freedom, and in the end, she made her decision. She had chosen death and, Loki could only assume, had tried to take him out in the process.
Trying to blink the pain out of his eyes, the Asgardian heaved himself off the floor, leaning on the wall and focusing on the fire. The logical first step would be to put it out before the entire building burned to the ground, so that’s exactly what he did. Slowly but surely, the fire dispersed and the temperature dropped to an almost-normal level.
When the fire was extinguished, smoke still clung to the air, but the hallway was once again bearable. The door that Olivia had stopped in front of had been blown across the hall and split in two, the wood charred. Loki put a hand over his face and approached the doorway, searching for signs of any more explosives. The room was the center of the smoke and a haze prevented clear sight distance, but the god could clearly see a glowing blue from deeper inside the room.
From behind his sleeve, he took a deep breath and walked forward, absently glancing at the floor for any sign of a corpse. Olivia must have been too close to the initial explosion that she turned to dust—a nearly painless death. There were worse ways to die, of course, but she could have been one of the good guys. Just as she believed Loki had potential, he saw the same in her. The god pushed that thought to the back of his mind, though, choosing instead to focus on the task at hand. He could ponder lost possibilities later, after his mess was cleaned up.
Stepping around debris that littered the floor, Loki squinted to keep the smoke from his eyes and stopped when he came upon a desk. His eyes widened when he saw the scepter that was perched atop it, surrounded by some sort of glass barrier in order to protect it from, he assumed, the explosive that had been set up.
It was impossible though, wasn’t it?
The scepter was supposed to be in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s custody, not back in the hands of their most hated terrorist organization. Someone fucked up somewhere. With a flick of his wrist, Loki shattered the thick glass, plucking the scepter off the desk and turning it in his hand, trying to examine it. It felt familiar and seemed to glow brighter once it was held in a familiar hand, but it still didn’t explain its presence. With one last fleeting glance around the room, Loki teleported to an alley a couple blocks away, nearly collapsing once his feet had hit the ground. He’d done too much too soon and he was physically drained.
He let himself lean against the wall for support, completely disregarding whatever grime was getting absorbed by his shirt. He spent a few moments breathing, in and out, relishing in smoke-free oxygen. He could hear sirens in the distance, heading for a fire that had already been dealt with, and he smiled slightly before he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Tony couldn’t believe what he was seeing on the screen, his mind was making up multitudes of excuses for everything that was going on. When the video ended, however, he was left with hard evidence that was difficult to justify. The videos showed Loki breaking into S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, tracking down Olivia’s cell in solitary confinement, teleporting away with her. Whatever he was planning, it wasn’t on the list of things one would consider ‘good’. Questions were flying through the playboy’s mind, each more painful than the last. Had Loki been deceiving them the entire time? Had he been in league with HYDRA? Had every word out of his mouth been a complete lie?
Tony closed his eyes and swiped his hand across the screen, making the video files vanish. He truly wanted to give Loki the benefit of the doubt, but it was made difficult by all of the evidence stacked up against him. Staring at the blank screen for a few moments, the genius stood with his hands in his pockets and tried to decide his next plan of action.
With a sigh, he put on his poker face and headed to the elevator. They would just have to find Loki before he could cause any trouble; Tony’s feelings on the matter didn’t play into the equation.
He found the rest of the team looking grim as they crowded around the island in the kitchen. They looked up when they saw him, each with their own version of sympathy. “Are you okay, Tony?” Steve asked.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Tony replied in return, his voice hard. He may have been falling apart on the inside, but he was first and foremost an Avenger. He had a job to do.
“You just seemed…close… to Loki.”
“Right. Well, are we going to sit around asking about my feelings or are we going to prevent the havoc that’s sure to show up soon?”
Steve looked down at his hands, dejected, and Bruce cleared his throat. “I think we need to think about this logically.” He said as Tony sat down on one of the stools. “We don’t necessarily know that Loki and HYDRA are working together. We already know that he’s an unpredictable force, so we can’t automatically believe that the most obvious solution is the right one.”
“What else could he be planning?” Clint asked. His face was unreadable, but the way he was tapping his foot on the floor made his nervousness evident. He’d probably been expecting the tables to turn.
“That woman held him in HYDRA’s custody!” Thor reminded. “I find it hard to believe that my brother would want to team up with someone so quickly after they’d done such a thing.”
“We have to take into account that they shot him.” Natasha added, earning a look from Clint. “He couldn’t have been lying about being mortal, and we know for a fact that they would have left him there to die.”
“That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been planning this the entire time.” Clint frowned. “For all we know, this was just a game for him. Odin let him off with a slap on the wrist, so he devised a plan to get the Tesseract back and continue terrorizing Earth.”
Bruce removed his glasses, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Let’s consider the options here. When Loki came here, he was completely mortal, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t have killed us if he wanted to. If he wanted to pick up where he left off with the Chitauri, don’t you think he’d prefer to have us out of the way?”
“What if he was just planning on scouting out all of our weaknesses so we’d be easier to kill in battle?”
Bruce glanced over at Clint. “I can’t see him as the sort of person who would pass up the opportunity to get us out of the way. We aren’t the only enemies he has.”
“We may not be his only enemies, but Loki likes challenges. Where would the challenge be if he killed us in our sleep?”
Tony let out a frustrated sigh and stood abruptly. “Arguing isn’t getting us anywhere. Whether or not Loki’s doing something nefarious, fighting amongst ourselves isn’t going to help. So are you guys going to continue this little spat or are we going to go do our job?”
Tony ignored the concerned looks that the rest of the team sent him and turned to leave the kitchen. He was going to suit up, regardless of whether he’d be joined by his team or not. Clint and Bruce both had valid points; Loki was unpredictable and, as such, his actions could come completely out of the blue.
And honestly, Tony had no clue who he’d rather side with.
He was angry with Loki. Not only for leaving without any warning at all, but because the team could have helped him with whatever he was planning. He didn’t have to go out on his own and piss off S.H.I.E.L.D. yet again. That is, if his plan was working towards the greater good.
No, things would be different if Loki turned out to be a traitorous bastard. At least then Tony’s anger would be justifiable.
Either way, he wasn’t going to sit back and wait to see what would happen. If some serious shit was going to go down, he was going to be there to stop it.
“Jarvis, patch into the emergency service feeds and forward anything that sounds suspicious to the suit.” He said once he was in the suit.
“Of course, sir.”
Tony let himself be encased in his suit, wishing he could put the same sort of armor over his heart. He’d put it on the line, only to have it decimated by a certain raven-haired Asgardian. The billionaire would be adding it to the massive list of his life’s regrets, he thought as he pulled the helmet on.
“Stark, we’re ready up here.” Natasha said through the comm system and Tony would be lying if he said he wasn’t surprised that the team had worked everything out so quickly.
“On my way.” He replied, lowering the suit’s faceplate. His numerous years of pushing his feelings to the back of his mind were finally paying off and he could almost convince himself that they weren’t going to find the man that he had been slowly falling in love with.
Up in the kitchen, the team had returned to their circle and were discussing the most likely places that Loki would go.
“Does the S.H.I.E.L.D. file on HYDRA have any information on buildings owned by the group?” Bruce asked.
Steve shook his head, fingers subconsciously going to the manila envelope that rested on the counter in front of him. He’d read through it so much that he could practically repeat the entire thing verbatim without having to actually look at it. “If they do own any buildings, they’ve been good about keeping that information off the record.”
“What if they left the city?” Natasha asked, loading her pistols. “Loki has his powers back—who’s to say he didn’t take Olivia across the globe? HYDRA has well known roots in countries such as Germany.”
“We can’t rule that out completely,” Steve agreed, somewhat reluctant. “but I doubt it. I’m still not entirely sold on the fact that Loki and HYDRA are working together in the first place.”
“What if Loki’s back on Asgard stealing the Tesseract?” Clint questioned, crossing his arms. “If he was working with them, wouldn’t that be his first move?”
“My father would never allow that!” Thor slammed his fist on the counter, causing Steve to jump. “I have faith that my brother really has changed. We must not assume the worst.”
“What about any abandoned buildings?” Natasha asked, trying to quickly diffuse the situation. They’d only just stopped arguing. She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and nodded slightly at her own suggestion. “Think about it: abandoned buildings are the perfect place to hide. They aren’t under any current contracts and it would be easy to run a terrorist organization out of one.”
“You might be right there, Agent Romanoff.” Tony said, walking into the kitchen. He raised his faceplate, keeping his face neutral. “I had Jarvis patch me into the emergency feeds and there’s just been a call about an abandoned warehouse downtown. Apparently, there was some sort of explosion.”
It was easy to find the warehouse that they were looking for.
Smoke was billowing into the sky and fire trucks surrounded the building, the firemen huddling outside. “Doesn’t look like they’re doing much fire extinguishing.” Clint muttered from the roof of the building across the street.
“The fire’s already out.” Natasha said, the crackle of the comm system breaking her voice. “All that’s left is smoke.”
“Any sign of Loki?”
Natasha changed the zoom on her binoculars, searching the gaping hole in the roof of the warehouse. “I can’t tell,” she said, scanning the rubble, “but it’s hard to see anything.”
“Guys,” Steve whispered, his voice barely audible, “I found him.”
“He’s a couple blocks away from the warehouse, in an alley. He looks to be in pretty bad shape. I’m going to approach him, head for my position.”
“Roger that, Rogers.” Clint said, a smile in his voice, as he dropped down from his position and headed for the fire escape at the edge of the office building.
Meanwhile, Steve slinked into the alley, walking quietly, his eyes never leaving Loki. The god was slumped against the wall with the Chitauri scepter clutched in his hand. That was suspicious. There was no way Loki could even have the scepter unless he’d broken into S.H.I.E.L.D. and stolen it. When he was within touching distance, Steve reached out and grabbed Loki’s shoulder, spinning him around.
Before Loki even had a chance to react, he felt a knee make contact with his stomach and immediately doubled over, dropping the scepter in the process. Steve Rogers stood above him, decked out in full Captain America uniform, the star in the center of his chest glistening slightly in the dim light. If he was there, the rest of the team was sure to be close at hand, and he was barely able to suppress a groan.
“You don’t understand,” he managed out, his words coming out in a gasp as he tried to regain the air that had been knocked out of him.
“How did you get this?!” Steve demanded, picking the scepter off the ground and gripping it tightly. “This is supposed to be in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s possession, but here you are with it. Is there something I’m not understanding about that?”
“If you would just let me explain—”
Natasha and Clint ran around the corner just then, eyes growing wider at the sight of the scepter. “Is that what I think it is?” Natasha asked, glancing down at the ground where Loki was slowly trying to pull himself back up.
“Bruce,” Steve spoke through the comm this time, “Call Nick Fury and tell him that they’re missing an important piece of weaponry. Also, ask him to send over a transport unit, there’s someone we need to bring in for questioning.”
“Got it.” Bruce replied.
Suddenly, there was a boom of thunder and Thor landed beside the soldier, anger shining in his bright blue eyes. “We trusted you, brother!” He shouted, walking over to the vulnerable form. “We gave you our trust, opened our home to you, and yet you still choose to betray us in such a way?!”
“If you would just listen to me—”
“I’m done listening to your lies, Loki.” Thor spat. He had really believed that he had his brother back and the realization that it had all been a lie finally broke him. His hope of bringing his family back together was gone. It was a heartbreaking sight to see someone who had been so hopeful lose faith in his own brother.
“I gave you a second chance,” Steve said quietly, handing the scepter to Thor, “so don’t expect another one.”
It wasn’t the way Loki had wanted things to go. Instead of realizing that he was trying to help them, they only saw that he had stolen the Chitauri staff and had blown up a building. Even he had to admit, he would suspect himself if he was in their positions. Carefully, making no sudden movements, he propped himself up in a sitting position, back against the wall.
It was then that he realized that Tony was nowhere to be seen.
He ignored the way it filled him with a heavy sense of guilt and dread. Tony was probably thinking the worst, as well; he was probably so disgusted with Loki that he didn’t even want to see the god.
The colorful group stood in silence until a S.H.I.E.L.D. transport unit pulled up to the sidewalk, followed soon by a Honda owned by Coulson. “Captain,” he greeted with a barely suppressed smile before looking down at Loki, “I take it he’s the one we’re taking?”
Steve merely nodded, handing the scepter over to the agent. “We found him with this. I was under the impression that it was still in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s possession.”
Coulson looked troubled as he turned the staff over in his hands, paying no mind to the armed guards who were hauling Loki into the back of the transport truck. “I was under that impression, too. However, it appears that both of us were wrong.”
“Sir, would you like us to ride in the back with Loki?” Natasha asked.
“Just don’t piss him off, okay?” the older agent asked. “We don’t need him blowing anything else up. Captain, you can ride in my car. It would be an honor to have a hero like you riding shotgun.” He paused, looking first at Thor and then scanning the immediate area. “Where’s Tony? Shouldn’t he be with you?”
“I think he wanted to get to headquarters so he could be there when they brought Loki in for questioning.” Steve explained, happy to have the subject change. He didn’t see himself as a hero; he saw himself as a simple kid from Brooklyn who chose to do the right thing.
“I shall go with my brother.” Thor said, a bitter tone on ‘brother’. Even someone as strong as Thor had their limits. You could only hurt him so many times before he just…broke.
“See you there.” Steve said, waving behind him on his way to Coulson’s Honda.
In the back of the transport truck, Loki stared at the opposite wall, choosing to ignore Hawkeye and Black Widow completely. They weren’t going to listen to him. He hoped that he’d be able to clear things up once the questioning began, but it was obvious that he’d made a huge mistake. And to make things worse, he had no idea if Tony would even consider forgiving him. He’d left the mansion without a word, which was one of the things the playboy had said not to do. Of course, the rules had been set up when Loki was a mortal and he was technically a free man once again, but he should have said something. He should have explained to Tony what he was going to do so that he wouldn’t be in his current predicament.
The drive to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters was uncomfortably quiet and Loki could feel Thor’s glare practically burning a hole through him. If looks could kill. Finally, the truck stopped and two armed guards opened the back doors, yanking Loki out. The three Avengers followed in a much more graceful manner and they made their way into the massive building.
Tony sat at a table behind the one-way glass, waiting for Loki to be brought into the adjacent room. He had chickened out—choosing to avoid any contact with the god rather than facing him like he’d originally intended. He tapped his fingers on the table he was leaning on, silently telling himself to get it together. He was a grown man, not some high school girl with a crush.
The door opened behind him and Fury walked in, taking the seat next to the playboy. “You know this falls on you if he really is up to his old tricks.”
Tony let out a sigh. Fury sure did know how to make a guy feel at home. “Yes, I know Fury. I invited him into my home, I promised to take full responsibility, blahblahblah. I’ll have you know,” he pointed at the director, eyebrow rising, “I agreed to those terms when Loki was still powerless. I don’t think I can still be held responsible when he’s been reinstated into Howarts.”
Fury just stared for a few moments before turning his attention to the interrogation room beyond the glass. “They’re bringing him in now.”
The room opened and Loki was deposited at the stainless steel table in the center, one of the guards handcuffing him to the table leg. Agent Coulson walked in soon after, nodding a thanks to the guard before taking a seat across from the Asgardian. “I didn’t think we’d meet face to face again so soon. Especially under these circumstances.” Loki didn’t respond and Phil set a clipboard on the table, pulling a pen out of his shirt pocket. “Do you know what you’re being arrested for?”
“I do. However, you do not understand the full story.”
“Okay, you say that, but let me tell you what I do know. For the past couple months, you’ve been living in the Avengers mansion, powerless. The precise moment your powers return, you leave and break into S.H.I.E.L.D. Is that correct so far?”
“Then, after breaking in, you found the cell of the most important HYDRA agent we had in custody and left with her. I can only assume that, at the same time, you broke into storage and stole the scepter we found you with.”
This made Loki react. He sat up straighter, a pleading look in his eyes. “Incorrect.”
“The, do tell, how did you come into possession of it?”
“I broke that woman out so she could lead me to the HYDRA base of operations. She was working for the same person I was, Thanos, and I believed that if I could find how she was communicating with him, I could track him down and then kill him. She led me into a trap, however, and entered some sort of detonation code for a bomb in the room next to us. I managed to get to safety and quell the resulting fire, but when I entered the room, the scepter was sitting in a bullet-proof casing. I was not the one who stole it, HYDRA did. I was merely removing it from their possession.”
Tony stared through the glass at the God of Lies, mixed emotions twining themselves around his heart. Loki honestly didn’t look as though he was lying. Tony knew a lot of liars—and the way their faces looked when they were deceiving someone. He’d seen the same face in the mirror whenever he’d tested his blood toxicity levels when the arc reactor had been slowly killing him.
Loki’s face as he spoke to Coulson was not the face of a liar. Of course, Tony thought bitterly, he was most likely biased and Loki was an incredibly talented liar. It was in the god’s job description.
“Let’s say you’re telling the truth,” Coulson said skeptically, “why would you have left in the dead of night without telling anyone where you were going? Don’t you think doing so would have prevented this entire situation?”
“I should have said something. I know that now, but I was acting on impulse at the time. I realized my mistake too late, but I am not the enemy here, Agent Coulson. I know you have no good reason to trust me, but please; This life—a life of friends and having a family once again—means way more to me than ruling a world.”
“Would you care to explain to me where Olivia, the HYDRA agent you broke out, currently is?” Coulson didn’t let his emotions flow through his voice, but Loki seemed to recoil slightly at the question.
“I can only assume she’s dead.”
“You escaped the explosion and she didn’t?”
“I—” Loki hesitated, realizing that he didn’t have a way to explain it without bringing further suspicion on himself. “I believe she meant to kill me, but I suppose I’m tougher than she was led to think. She was directly in the line of fire.” He hesitated for a moment before deciding to hand over the entire truth to Coulson. Withholding information would be counterproductive. “She and I had made a deal. She would lead me to the HYDRA base and I would let her have her freedom. She chose loyalty to Thanos instead.”
Coulson gave a slight nod before crossing his legs, leaning forward on the table. “Would you care to tell me about Thanos?”
From behind the glass, Tony took a sharp intake of breath and subconsciously sat up straighter. He was angry with Loki, but he knew the story of Thanos was personal. It would be just as uncomfortable for the Asgardian to tell that story as it would for Tony to explain in great deal what happened to him with the Ten Rings. Ripping a piece of paper out of the legal pad that was sitting on the table in front of him, he scribbled out a quick note for Coulson, Fury reading over his shoulder the entire time.
Coulson, Loki’s telling the truth about Thanos. Unnecessary information.
Tony sprang to his feet and tapped a fist on the glass, gaining the agent’s attention. He handed the paper to a guard an instructed him to give it to Coulson without saying anything, especially about the person who wrote the note.
The guard did so, entering the interrogation room without a single word and handing the note to Phil. The older agent quickly read the note before letting out a huff of breath, probably feeling frustrated at Tony’s interference with his interrogation. “Actually,” he muttered, crumpling the note in his hand and shoving it in his jacket pocket, “Nevermind.”
“You need to release me and let me deal with Thanos, Agent Coulson. He won’t give up the fight until I’m dead and this world has been decimated.”
“I apologize, but I don’t have the authority to do that.” Coulson got to his feet. “I don’t even know if you’re lying to me right now, and I’m not willing to take that risk.”
Loki watched as the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent slipped out the door, a helpless look in his eyes. Tony noted this, pushing his sleeve up slightly to glance at his watch. Part of him wanted to believe the Asgardian, but he reminded that he had no reason to besides his personal involvement with the man. Loki was attractive. Loki had made Tony believe that there was something between them. But Loki was also the God of Lies.
“What do you think, Stark?” Fury asked, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms over his chest.
“You’re asking for my opinion? Wow, I’m honored. Would you like me to tell you my honest opinion, or do you want me to tell you what you want to hear?”
Fury glared harshly, though he looked tired. He hadn’t been expecting to deal with Loki again. “I want to know if we’re dealing with a bigger threat than Thor’s little brother.”
“I don’t know.” Tony said honestly. “It looked like he was telling the truth, but it’s hard to tell with him.” He took a deep breath, mentally deliberating with himself before turning to Fury. “Can I talk to him?”
“I don’t know how good of an idea that is, Stark. You’re the one who got us into this mess in the first place.”
“Indirectly. I was merely trying to keep the peace.”
“It doesn’t matter, because now I’m stuck cleaning this shit up.”
“Just give me fifteen minutes to talk to him, and if I can’t decide if he’s telling the truth or not, I’ll let you do whatever you wish.”
“You’ve got ten minutes.”
“Fifteen, and I don’t want anyone listening in.”
Fury’s look was skeptical, because really, Tony was asking quite a bit, but after a few moments, he relented. “Fifteen minutes, no more.”
Tony smiled slightly before walking into the hallway and entering the interrogation room, not looking up at Loki until he was seated across from the god. “Loki.” He greeted, ignoring the flutter of sadness and exhilaration that blossomed in his chest.
“Let me guess, they sent you in here to get a confession from me?”
“No, actually. I’m just trying to figure out whether or not you’re lying.” Tony clasped his hands together on the surface of the table, choosing to look at them instead of the man across from him.
“Tony, please,” Loki reached forward, taking the billionaire’s hands in his own, “you have to believe me. I just want to end what I started. Thanos wants the Tesseract back, and he’s not going to give up until it’s within his grasp. I can’t let him get it.”
“You were gone for an entire day, Loki.” Tony resisted the urge to snatch his hands back, and instead looked into Loki’s green eyes. “I didn’t think you were coming back.”
“I will always come back for you, Tony. But I will not let Thanos continue to threaten me. As long as he lives, Earth is in danger.”
Tony didn’t show how much the words affected him, but his heart skipped a beat. “Look, I want to believe you. But even you have to admit that your actions were pretty suspicious. You left in the middle of the night when you—no, hang on, you have your powers back. Why aren’t you just teleporting out of custody?”
Loki smirked, leaning forward so he could whisper and still be heard. “Do you really think I’d just teleport away if I wanted to prove my innocence? I take it you didn’t notice the fact that I’m no longer handcuffed to the table.”
Tony, admittedly, had not noticed that particular fact, although he should have considering the fact that Loki’s hands were still on his. “That’s a, uh, pretty strong argument in your favor, I’ll give you that.” He muttered as Loki leaned back in his chair. “But you could still be lying. Trying to clear your name and get into our good books.”
“Of course, I could just kill you all and get it over with. You know, if I was truly evil.”
Tony tried, but he couldn’t suppress the smirk that came across his face. “I’ll have to keep your powers in mind, then. Won’t need a safe word.”
“Nevermind, it’s not important.” Tony smiled slightly to himself, feeling much more lighthearted than he did a moment previously. “Okay, you got me. But really, why didn’t you tell anyone? You could have at least told Thor, you know, left some sort of a message. It would have made a lot of things easier.”
“I know that now, trust me.” Loki mumbled, exasperated. “I guess…I guess I merely wanted to get it out of the way. The sooner I could fix the things I broke, the sooner I could just…live my life.”
“Okay. You owe me for all the hell you put me through today, but I’m convinced.” Tony said, still bitter about how worried he’d been for Loki. He wasn’t just going to forget how devastated he’d felt. “The others are going to be harder to convince of your innocence, though.”
Loki smiled, a genuine shine in his eyes. “Thank you.” He said quietly. Hesitantly, he leaned across the table and planted a chaste kiss on Tony’s lips, moving to break away almost immediately.
Tony, however, wasn’t having any of that and placed his hand at the back of Loki’s neck, pulling him forward and reclaiming his lips. Loki, in turn, swung his legs onto the table and moved forward until his feet were resting on either side of Tony’s legs, his neck craning downward in order to deepen the kiss. Tony really hoped the Fury had made good on his promise, otherwise it would be an awkward situation to explain.
“We shouldn’t be doing this.” He whispered against Loki’s mouth, but he made no move to pull away. He found himself lost in Loki’s scent, mesmerized by the heavy smell of smoke that hung to the Asgardians clothes. “I wasn’t allotted much time to speak to you.” There were so many thoughts that were coming to Tony’s mind—thoughts of handcuffs, interrogation room tables, and one particular God of Lies—but he focused on the feel of Loki’s lips against his.
“Don’t want to be caught fraternizing with the enemy?” Loki joked, his fingers rubbing circles into the playboy’s shoulders.
“It’s a bit late for that.” Tony said. At least half the team knew he and Loki were close, and after all the times they’d been caught in some compromising position, it wouldn’t be hard to make a guess. “But it would be nice to avoid Fury’s reaction, at least for the time being.”
Loki smiled, leaning in for one last kiss before returning to his side of the table and returning the handcuff to his wrist. “Thank you, Tony. At least you’re on my side, and that’s all I need.”
Tony took a moment to compose himself before pulling his poker face back on. His time was almost up, and he didn’t want to leave the room looking utterly debauched. “For a while there, I honestly thought you had betrayed us. If I never feel like that again, it will be too soon."
“If it makes you feel any better, I feel horrible. I don’t believe Thor will be willing to believe me any time soon, and I would kill for a shower right now.”
“No, I feel better knowing that you’re still on my side.” From the other side of the interrogation room mirror, there was a knock and Tony heaved a sigh, getting to his feet. “I’ll try to put in a good word for you. I’m sure I can sweet talk Fury somehow.”
With that, he was gone, leaving Loki to stare after him. The god felt better knowing that he hadn’t completely ruined his slowly-budding relationship with Tony, but Thanos’s was a threat that still loomed over him, and he didn’t think S.H.I.E.L.D. knew what they were up against.
However, it was going to be a lot easier to face his problems with someone at his side, armed with the knowledge that he wasn’t fighting the battle alone. He had the Avengers—though they had yet to be converted—and he had Tony. Though he felt mentally and physically exhausted, the thought made him feel stronger, as though he could make it out of there alive.
But the battle was just beginning.
I hope you liked it! This was originally going to be the last chapter, but that idea forced itself out the window about half way through. There is a strong possibility of smut in the upcoming chapters, so beware. I'll post an edited version on FF for those who are offended by such things.
It might take a little while for the next chapter because I've been in school for a week and I'm already failing trig. I'm just completely stupid when it comes to math. So I'm going to be focusing on not breaking down because of that class. As always, thank you guys for the wonderful feedback that you always leave me :)
Chapter 11: Here We Go Again
In which Tony devises a plot to help Loki out of custody and HYDRA is yet again up to no good.
Heeeyy guys. Yeah. This took a really long time. Senior year sucks. (I dropped trig so that at least gives me time to write, but when I'm not working on homework, I'm filling out college/scholarship apps.) And then I had numerous technical difficulties. So I apologize for that and I will sincerely try to update quicker this time :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony wished for sleep to take him, but his mind was plagued by thoughts and images of Loki in captivity and the entirety of New York being destroyed by some other-worldly being. No matter how many times he tossed and turned, repositioning himself with the hopes of finally falling into unconsciousness, his mind would still wander and he would find himself staring up at the ceiling with a frown adorning his lips. "Jarvis, lights." He muttered after what seemed like an eternity, his voice thick with an incurable exhaustion as he sat up and ran a hand through his hair. The room was suddenly illuminated and Tony nearly jumped when he saw the figure pressed into the chair in the corner of the room. "What the hell are you doing here, Loki?"
Loki stood, allowing himself a smirk, before sitting at the edge of Tony's bed. "I got tired of lying in the cell they confined me to."
"Won't they notice if you're gone? You're kind of one of the most important prisoners they have at the moment."
Loki shrugged, falling back onto the mattress with a small, tired smile. "I left a projection of myself there. As long as nobody makes physical contact with it, they won't know the difference."
"Good to know?" Tony ran a hand through his hair again, feeling exhaustion's gentle tug on his mind. "And how do I know you weren't planning on killing me in my sleep? Or, better question, why were you watching me sleep in the first place? It's kind of creepy."
"I've only been here for a few minutes, Anthony, so you have no reason to feel 'creeped out'. And as for your personal well being, I do believe we've been over this."
Tony glanced down at the slim figure lying across the foot of his bed, letting out a heavy sigh. "Well, it's time for this mortal to get some sleep." He lifted the comforter slightly, motioning for Loki to join him. "You look like you could use some sleep, too."
Loki drew his lips into a thin line before smiling, climbing underneath the blanket. "I didn't find it very restful in that cell, so you would be correct."
Tony turned on his side to face Loki, enough space between them so that they weren't touching. "You know, we would both be in deep shit if anyone found us together."
Loki smirked, the light in his eyes was diluted by the promise of sleep. "That's why locks were created." He brought his hand up to rest at the side of Tony's face, long fingers carding gently through his hair.
"Jarvis, lights please." Tony all but whispered, leaning forward as the room was swallowed in darkness. His lips found Loki's, a gentle brush that nearly took his breath away as their bodies came closer, legs finding each other. Their breaths mingled, ghosting across both their faces as they kissed slowly, both of them too tired to do much else.
There was something intimate about kissing in bed. It was where Tony was the most vulnerable, and as they lay there together in the dark, it was their way of letting the other in—if only for a moment.
"There needs to be more of that. But not right now." Tony muttered, snaking his arm over Loki's side as he pulled away. "I think we both have things to do tomorrow, and it would be pretty suspicious if we were both falling asleep in our seats."
"I must agree." Loki whispered back, leaning his face against Tony's chest where the arc reactor was faintly glowing through the thin fabric of his shirt. "I'll hardly be able to clear my name if I can't even keep my eyes open."
"Then go to sleep, idiot." Tony teased, his eyes having already drifted shut.
"Good night, Tony."
"Mm." The playboy mumbled in reply, the fingers that were draped across the trickster's side slowly tracing circles into the fabric found there.
Tony had no trouble falling asleep after that—the object of his previous worries safe in his arms. He'd fallen asleep with people by his side too often to count, but he took a certain amount of comfort in the fact that Loki could offer just as much protection as he could if the need arose. He wanted to get lost in the god's all too familiar scent of Midgardian body spray and spices, their bodies drawn close.
Tony didn't love people. 'Love' in the romantic sense, in any case. He cared for people, which was a certain type of love, but he didn't do what the movies would call 'true love'. No, he didn't love people; he just loved a single person. That person, of course, was probably the worst target for affections based simply upon previous actions. But this was Tony Stark, and nobody ever accused him of making wise decisions. So despite the fact that Loki was from another world and had tried to kill him in the past, he was determined to make it work.
Tony awoke with Loki half on top of him, long fingers curled tightly in the fabric of his shirt. The billionaire glanced over to the clock on his nightstand, letting out a groan when he realized that S.H.I.E.L.D would soon be realizing that Loki was no longer in his cell. "Hey, Sleeping Beauty," he mumbled, shaking Loki's shoulder gently, "it's time to get up."
Loki let out a sigh, nuzzling into Tony's shoulder. "What time is it?" He groaned, voice heavy with sleep. It was so different from his usual state that Tony couldn't suppress the smirk that came to his lips at the brief thought of twisted domesticity.
"It's just after five AM." He responded quietly, looking down at the god's form and brushing a strand of hair from his pale skin.
"I'll be honest," Loki mumbled, rolling over onto his back and stretching until his joints popped satisfyingly, "the last thing I want to do today is put up with a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D agents."
"Unfortunately for you, you don't have a choice in the matter."
Loki glared halfheartedly before pushing his hair out of his face with a yawn. "Don't start with me, Stark."
"Ooh, someone's a bit touchy in the mornings."
"You'd be touchy too if you were technically under suspicion for a crime you didn't commit."
Tony rolled so that he was on his side, facing Loki, and ran a hand across the god's stomach. "We'll convince them somehow. They can't hold you forever."
Loki's eyes fluttered shut as Tony's fingers roamed over his stomach and up his chest. "I'm not going to be able to bring myself to leave if you keep doing that." he warned, clutching the billionaire's hand in his own.
"Then at least they'd throw us in a cell together."
Loki just rolled his eyes, getting to his feet. "I should leave."
"You should." Tony agreed, getting to his feet as well. His actions didn't match his words, though, as he pulled Loki's mouth down to meet his for a brief kiss. It felt foreign waking up to someone he actually wanted there. Normally, it would be some bimbo whom he barely remembered having sex with, let alone actually remembering her name. It was refreshing, waking up to Loki.
"I'll see you... later? I suppose it's up to Fury if he wants to interrogate me today or not, but knowing you, you'll barge in anyway."
Tony smirked, wrapping his hands around Loki's waist and pulling him close. "It's not my fault that you're so irresistible."
Loki let out a laugh, wrapping his arms around Tony in turn. "You're a flirt, Mr. Stark."
Tony, with another glance at the his digital clock, let out a sigh and disentangled himself from the Asgardian. "I would think that that would be obvious by now. But it's time for you to be on your merry way."
Loki nodded, and then he was gone.
Tony stared at the spot in which the god had been standing for a few short moments before letting a heavy sigh and pulling his shirt over his shoulders and making his way into the connecting bathroom. He could taste Loki on his lips—the taste of forbidden fruit and a love long-sought after. "Jarvis, hack into S.H.I.E.L.D's security footage for the solitary confinement cells and feed that into our system."
"Of course, sir." The AI replied as expected and Tony nodded to himself before stripping and stepping into the shower and turning to water on. The almost too-warm water cascaded over his skin and he felt himself flinch slightly before the temperature adjusted slightly. He felt far more rested than he originally thought he would, and he was already brainstorming all the ways he could convince the team—as well as Fury—of Loki's innocence. It should have been as simple as explaining all that he knew, but he had to acknowledge the fact that he was biased. Everyone else had been suspicious from the get-go, and it was doubtful that even Thor would immediately go back to rooting for his brother.
Thanos was another problem entirely, but one that would have to be solved along with the Loki situation. If what the Asgardian said was true (and Tony firmly believed that it was) then Earth was being threatened by a force far stronger than Loki and a Chitauri army. That was a scary thought, because they'd had enough trouble dealing with just that. While they were past the point of arguing and bickering over every little thing, the team was not without their problems.
Tony turned the shower off and stepped out, wrapping a towel around his waist in a poor attempt to remedy the sudden temperature change. He wished that the situation were different. The team had only just tentatively given in in the first place, and the trust they'd put in both Tony and Loki had been violently betrayed. It wasn't going to be an easy task to make them see the truth.
"Sir, Director Fury is on line one. Should I put him through?"
"Go ahead, Jarvis. It's not like I have anything better to do." Tony responded, unable to work up the heart to roll his eyes at Fury's timing.
There was a pause before Fury's voice crackled over the intercom. "Mr. Stark."
"Good morning, Director." Tony said, grabbing another towel from the rack and running it through his hair a few times. "I must say, Fury, your timing is truly impeccable. I hope you know that I just got out of the shower. I'll leave my current state of undress to your imagination."
"All joking aside, Mr. Stark," Fury obviously wasn't having any of Tony's shit that morning, "we still have a bit of a situation on our hands."
"Actually, you have a situation on your hands. I have a company to run."
In reality, Tony didn't do much but make the occasional appearance and sign some paperwork every so often, but it was a great fallback excuse when he needed one. He was sure Pepper would appreciate a visit, in any case.
"You seem to forget that this situation is your responsibility, Stark, as you stated when you took Loki off the streets in the first place."
"Fine, Nick. What do you want me to do?"
"Quite frankly, I want you to tell me what you think of this whole thing."
Tony furrowed his eyebrows as he walked into his bedroom, opening his dresser to grab a pair of boxers. "I'm sorry, but did you just ask my opinion?" he questioned incredulously.
"I'm at a loss here. I wasn't expecting this heap of Asgardian trouble to wind up back on my plate any time soon, but here he is. On the one hand, I could put him away for the rest of his long-ass life for his numerous crimes against humanity. But on the other, if this 'threat' he keeps mentioning is actually something viable, then who else do we have who has even the slightest chance of figuring out what we're up against?"
Tony nodded and pulled on a pair of pants. "Do you really want to know what I think, Fury?" He paused, though the question was rhetorical, and went to sit on the edge of his bed. "I think Loki's telling the truth. I've seen hundreds of liars in my lifetime, it's part of the job description. I've gone to parties where every single person in attendance was lying through their teeth because they thought it would be beneficial to them. I saw that look in the mirror every day when I was slowly dying because of my goddamn arc reactor and I refused to admit it to anyone. But I don't see that look in Loki's eyes. He's a talented liar—hell, that's in his job description—but nobody's that good. I say give him one more chance. Send him back here to the team" to me "and we can keep an eye on him and help him make any preparations he needs to in order to fight off Thanos."
Fury was silent for a long moment, and Tony was sure he was glaring at his phone or something as equally angry-looking. "Thank you for your input, Mr. Stark. I need to consult the council, but you'll be hearing with me within the next couple days."
The line went silent and Tony wanted to rip apart the metaphorical red tape that Fury seemed to worship. He buttoned up his crisp white shirt and tried push down the frustration that was quickly growing in his chest. Fury, at least, hadn't said no and disagreed completely, so there was a shred of hope. But it was them against the world, and the odds were that the world wouldn't be as forgiving.
His hair still slightly damp, Tony made his way down the hallway and into the elevator where he pressed the button for the kitchen, where he was sure at least one of his house mates would be. He needed to start slow, he told himself. It wouldn't work if the entire team was gathered together at once; no, he needed to be more subtle about it. He'd start small with suggestions and hints, and then work his way up to full-blown persuasiveness. It was going to work—it had to.
It seemed as though fate was smiling upon him that day, because the only person in the kitchen was Thor. The god sat on one of the stools at the island, Mjölnir at his feet. There was a box of Pop-Tarts in front of him, mostly-empty by the looks of it, and Tony took a seat across from him. Thor had been in a mood since they'd captured Loki. It was obvious in everything he did. His eyes weren't as luminous. He didn't stand as tall. He hadn't just lost a battle, but he was under the impression that he'd lost his brother as well.
"Morning, Point Break." Tony said casually when the blond didn't look up from the box of toaster pastries.
"Oh. Good morning, Tony."
It was clear that small talk wasn't going to be a very viable option. "Thor, I know you think that your brother is the bad guy here, but you of all people should know that he isn't."
Thor looked up to meet his teammate's eyes for the first time that morning, a hidden anger clouding in his eyes. It wasn't necessarily anger towards Tony, however, but a misguided anger at his brother. "How can you say such a thing, Anthony Stark, when you know what he has done?"
"You don't know the full story. Look, I know it seems bad. But you have to trust me when I say that everything your brother has done, he's done for us."
"You say that, but I still struggle to find any truth in his lies. I do not know what he has done to earn your trust so solidly, but I must warn you that he is a talented deceiver."
"You think I don't know that? Thor, work with me here for a moment. You're the one who convinced me to let him into my home in the first place, so I did. You're my teammate—my friend—and I put my trust in you, even though I was skeptical. Now, I think it's my turn. All I'm asking is that you give your brother one more chance, okay?" Tony held the Thunderer's gaze for a few long moments, trying to show his sincerity through his expression.
"And what if it turns out that you've been fooled?" The blond asked, voice dripping with self-deprecation and regret. He was thinking of all the times he'd trusted Loki, only to have his trust betrayed and his heart broken.
"Then you can say "I told you so" and I won't try to stop you when you lock him up forever. But I'm almost certain that he's telling the truth this time. If I could—look, there are things going on that you don't really know about, and if I could explain to you how I can be so certain of his temporary alliance, I would. But it's complicated."
Thor's expression changed as he fidgeted with the edge of the Pop-Tarts box, tearing the cardboard slightly. "Forgive me for asking, Anthony Stark, but is there something...intimate...going on between you and my brother?"
"Intimate...how?" Tony asked, unsure of whether Thor was going to throttle him for deflowering his younger brother or congratulate him on making a new friend.
"Loki told me of his feelings for you, Man of Iron, and his intentions were clear. I am merely inquiring about the current state of affairs between the two of you and if he's accepted you as a friend and confidant."
Tony tried his best not to look like a deer in the headlights, but he'd honestly never expected Loki to be so straightforward with his brother about anything, especially anything pertaining to his love life. "I suppose you could say that."
The Asgardian nodded silently to himself before allowing a small smile. "Then I shall choose to trust you for the time being. Loki doesn't bare his heart easily, so if he's already taken to you, I have no choice but to believe your words."
"However, Anthony Stark," Thor continued, eyes becoming dangerous, "Loki is still my younger brother, and if I find that you hurt him in any way, I will be forced to act like any older brother would."
Tony nodded quickly, trying not to shrink away from the large hand that inevitably clapped over his shoulder. "It was nice talking." He managed to squeak out, using his height to his advantage and pulling away. "But I'm a busy, busy man, so excuse me."
He ducked into the hallway, a heat rushing into his cheeks as he absconded. That had been the first time since high school that he'd had any sort of 'over-protective family lecture' and he didn't know whether to laugh or flee. It could be said, no matter who the speaker is, that Asgardians of any type are far scarier than middle-aged fathers with shotguns, older brothers who happen to be on the football team, and even the occasional fortune-teller aunt who threatens to put a curse on you if you lay a single finger on her beloved niece.
Asgardians definitely take the cake when it comes to intimidation.
Feeling slightly better knowing that he at least had Thor on his side, Tony made his way down to the workshop where he brought up several different S.H.I.E.L.D video feeds and information spreadsheets. One day, Fury would get a system capable of blocking the billionaire's hacking abilities, but that wasn't the day. The firewalls came down effortlessly, as usual, and Tony actually had to wonder if they were even trying anymore. It was about as transparent as Fury was going to get, in all honesty.
"Jarvis, do me a favor and call Pepper for me, would you?"
"Of course, sir, patching you in now."
There was a brief moment in which all that could be heard in the workshop was a dial tone, until Pepper's bright voice finally broke through. "Hello?"
"Pepper!" Tony exclaimed, smiling. "How's my favorite woman doing today?"
"About the same as usual," Pepper responded, the eye roll practically audible, "still taking care of your company. But that's not why you called, is it?"
"First of all," Tony began, offended, "I just love talking to you. I'm appalled that you would think any different. Second of all, how do you do that thing you do where you convince people to agree with you?"
"I wasn't aware I did a thing."
"No, Pepper, you do a thing. You've done it to me a thousand times. It's like some Jedi mind trick where you get people on your side. How do you do that?"
"You mean being my charming self?" Pepper asked simply, the sound of papers shuffling in the background. "Look, Tony, I don't know what you're planning, but I don't necessarily want to be a part of it. However, I can tell you that you need to tell people something that they want to hear. It's like giving a kid ice cream in order to get him to go to the doctor. You can't be too pushy, but you still have to be persuasive."
"You know I love you, right Pep?" Tony asked, smiling to himself.
"I have to wonder sometimes. Stay out of trouble Tony. And I expect you to get your paperwork in on time. I have to get going, so I'll talk to you later."
"Thank you Pepper!" Tony managed out before the line went dead. "Jarvis, could you pull up a diagram of the tower for me, including the location of the rest of the team."
"Certainly, sir." Jarvis chimed, and a small 3D model appeared from a projector, a maze of red and blue lines that symbolized floorplans and electrical systems. An orange dot was placed at the precise location of each Avenger and Tony memorized each of them in his head. Thor was still in the kitchen and Clint was in the lower training floors, most likely brushing up on his aim. Natasha was in her room, while Bruce was on the balcony of the party deck.
Tony took a breath before ultimately deciding a plan of action. He wasn't going to be able to help Loki if he had no one to back him up, so there was no other way around it.
With a nod, he shut down his systems and left the workshop, on his way to do some persuading.
Loki leaned his head against the cold concrete wall adjacent to his small, S.H.I.E.L.D-issued cot and attempted some breathing exercises. He could hear agents outside of his cell, voices merely soft whispers, and the occasional click-clack of someone's shoes. He was going to go crazy, he decided, if something didn't happen. It had been nearly three hours since he'd left Stark's bedroom, and Fury hadn't shown his face once.
Finally, the heavy door that seemingly separated the god and immediate freedom swung open to reveal a barely-smiling Agent Coulson, clipboard tucked beneath his arm. "Good morning, Loki." He offered.
"To what do I owe this visit, Agent Coulson?" Loki asked in return, getting to his feet only to see the guards on either side of Coulson tense.
"Follow me." The older agent said simply, turning his back to the Asgardian. It was a gesture of trust, Loki realized after a moment. It's a rule not to turn one's back to their enemies, and Agent Phil Coulson was no exception. He did it intentionally—subtly saying to Loki that he wasn't without friends in S.H.I.E.L.D.
"We were visited this morning by two HYDRA agents." Coulson continued once they were in the elevator. "Our initial thought had been that they came to break you out, but as we can all see, that's not the case."
"What were they here for?" Loki asked, internally laughing at the thought of needing help escaping. He was perfectly capable of doing that himself, thank you very much.
"Well, that's the thing. We're not entirely sure. We checked to see if anything obvious had been stolen, but we still have everything."
"I don't understand." Loki said quietly after a moment, trying his best to put the puzzle together in his head. If they hadn't been there for him, and they hadn't been there for the scepter, what else could they have been there for?
"Neither do we."
Coulson opened the door into a conference room where Tony, Thor, and Fury were seated at an enormous wooden table. "Nice of you to join us, Odinson." the director said.
Loki walked forward and took a seat directly across from Tony, unsure of exactly what situation was transpiring. "Would you mind telling me what this is all about?" He asked.
"It seems we were mistaken." Fury said. "With the evidence that has been placed before us, I can't see any reason for you to be held captive any longer."
"Evidence?" Loki didn't want to sound so skeptical, but he was honestly lost.
"Well, first we have your initial plea of innocence. Not strong evidence by itself, granted, but grouped with the fact the, had you been working with HYDRA, they would have broken you out, stands as a pretty solid argument. And then we have Mr. Stark here who solidified your case even more with his, and the rest of the Avengers', faith in you. He may have also added something about the fact that you could have left any time you pleased.
"Now, we aren't fully releasing you. You need to wear this," the director pulled some sort of electronic bracelet from his coat, sliding it across the table, "and you can't leave New York. Do you understand?"
The god cast a glance over to Tony before nodding, picking up the metallic ring in front of him and sliding it over his wrist. It let out a small click and tightened to the point of almost being painful, the green light on the edge flickering on.
"That will ensure that you remain where you're supposed to be." Fury explained. "If the light is green, you're good. If it turns orange, you're within ten miles of being out of bounds. And, of course, if it turns red—which it had better not—you're off the grid and we will be forced to send agents to retrieve you."
"That's...agreeable." Loki said, ignoring the urge to fiddle with the bracelet and loosen it somehow.
"Good. Here are your clothes, Mr. Odinson. You're a free man."
Fury stood from his chair at the head of the table and walked out of the room, coat billowing behind him. "I have work to do, as well." Coulson said simply with a smile. "Have a nice day."
"They're certainly in a hurry." Tony said offhandedly, stretching slightly. "Although, I can't blame them. If I were them, I'd want to clean my hands of any and all Asgardian drama, as well." At this, Loki sent him a look and Tony immediately looked regretful. "Look, I didn't mean—"
"I'm going to go get changed. Excuse me." Loki bit out before anyone else could say anything.
Tony looked over to Thor for help, but the blond only put up his hands. "As you Midgardians say, this is not my circus, and therefore, it is also not my monkey."
"I've never heard that said, big guy." Tony muttered in response. "Look, you can head back to the tower if you want. I'm going to go apologize. Thanks for helping me with Fury."
"It was not a problem, Man of Iron. However, if you are proven incorrect, I will be forced to go to extreme measures."
Tony blinked once before Thor was out in the hallway. He let out a sigh and followed soon after, turning left down the hall instead of right. Yet again, he felt like a complete moron for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. He had a knack for that, apparently. With a quick glance to make sure no one was around, he stepped into the spacious bathroom and did a quick check for shoes under the stalls. Seeing only one pair—obviously Loki's—the billionaire locked the door and scooted the potted plant up against it for good measure.
Loki stepped out of the stall clad in his black jeans and green button down, the grey jumpsuit that S.H.I.E.L.D had issued him folded neatly in his arms. "Hey. I'm sorry." Tony said quietly as he took a step forward, approaching Loki the way he would a scared cat.
"Are you sure I'm not the one who should be apologizing for my 'Asgardian drama'?" Loki quipped in return, his voice harboring a touch of ice.
Tony frowned and closed the distance between them, setting the grey jumpsuit on the counter before snaking his arms around Loki's waist, ensuring that escape was impossible. "I didn't mean it that way, and you should know that. I live off of drama, Loki, and yours is nothing compared to all of the shit I've had to deal with in my life. I only meant that if I were Fury—director of S.H.I.E.L.D with about a billion things to do on a daily basis—I'd want to clean my hands of you. However," Tony paused dramatically to bring his face in closer, eyes locked with Loki's bright green ones, "I happen to be Tony Stark who, it can be said, is far different from any S.H.I.E.L.D agent that has ever existed. And as such, I quite enjoy having you around."
Loki pursed his lips, looking down at Tony's shirt where the arc reactor was barely shining through. "I'm worried." He admitted after a long moment. "HYDRA and Thanos are a dangerous combination and I don't want you getting hurt."
"Everything's going to be fine, okay?" Tony reassured, placing a hand along the taller man's jaw and bringing their lips together. He was, in all honesty, addicted to Loki. The lips that were soft and rough at the same time, the hair that ran like silk through his fingers, and the body that pressed against his so perfectly.
They shifted until Tony was the one with his back pressed against the edge of the counter, Loki fighting for control with his tongue and with his body. "I take it you forgive me?" the playboy mumbled against Loki's lips, smiling.
"I suppose I have to this time." Loki muttered back, nipping at Tony's lip. "I'm not so sure about the next time, however. You should be cautious, Anthony Stark."
Tony half-heartedly nudged Loki with his hip but fell back into their rhythm soon, fingers slipping under fabric and breathing becoming heavy. Tony felt Loki's hands travel from his shoulders down to his hips, long fingers rubbing small circles into the small of his back. "Or what?" He asked cheekily, hopping up so that he was seated on the counter, using his legs to pull Loki closer.
"Or I'll be under the impression that you hate me, and that, of course, would entail that you wouldn't get to do this anymore."
"You have a point." Tony admitted, smiling as he leaned his forehead against Loki's, enjoying the closeness that they shared. "Look, everything's going to be okay. S.H.I.E.L.D let you go and you (mostly) have the team's trust."
Loki opened his mouth to speak when there was a loud crash from the hallway, the door to the bathroom crashing inwards. Tony felt splinters hit his shoulder but he tried to ignore them, trying to see past the sudden dust that clogged the air. He felt hands on his shoulders—hands that he thought were Loki's, but he immediately knew otherwise when he felt himself pulled to the ground. Someone was injecting something into his neck and panic began to rise in his chest, the situation reminding him too much of the Ten Rings. His mind was going everywhere at once; he tried to get a lungful of air, only to feel the dust in his mouth. He couldn't see Loki, and he was realizing that he'd spoken too soon.
He'd definitely spoken too soon.
Oh hell a cliffie. I honestly hadn't intended that when I started, so I /do/ apologize. I hope to free up some time so that I can actually get stuff done, but good lord senior year. I JUST WANT TO GRADUATE ALREADY is that really too much to ask?
I'm still the-penultimate-avenger on Tumblr if you want to check me out there. Thanks for reading, you guys. You're awesome :)
Chapter 12: Fix You Up
In which Tony and Loki are strong and a few things are resolved.
This is where I bow my head in shame and apologize profusely for how long it took me to update this damn thing. I don't really have any excuses, save for the same old school stuff, so I'm REALLY sorry. I've just had some ridiculous writer's block and it's just been not good. However, here's chapter 12 and I hope you enjoy :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony was brought into consciousness all at once, panic rising in his chest before his eyes were even open. His first thought was to glance frantically around him, ensuring that he wasn't going to be imminently tortured. He coughed, the taste of drywall coating his tongue, and looked around through swimming vision. He was in some sort of cage—though it looked more like a dog kennel from his perspective—but the rest of the room seemed to be in pretty good shape, from what he could see. Clearly not the place one would expect to wake up in after being kidnapped. Moving slowly, he tried to ascertain how much damage had been done as his memory began to clear. The back of his head felt pretty banged up, which was survivable.
The scattering of splinters and debris that covered his shoulder wasn't too overwhelming, either.
Hell, he was even pretty sure he had a sprained ankle, but that wasn't even the worst injury he'd ever fought through.
No. None of that worried him. The thing that made his entire being grow cold as panic shot through him was the fact that his arc reactor wasn't working. Or, more correctly, was working at roughly 10% power. The light was dimmer and would flicker off every so often, and Tony knew that he could only last so long with it in such a state. Only a few hours, he would imagine, depending on whether or not it died completely. The arc reactor was the only reason he continued to live in the first place, and there was no one around who could patch him up. He needed to get to his lab, and he wouldn't be able to do that from inside a cage. He needed to escape—there was really no way around it.
Taking a deep, calming breath, the playboy readjusted himself so that most of the pressure was taken off his injured ankle and he sat there for a moment, listening. There were voices emanating from a room nearby, both male, not loud enough to make out what was being said. There was no doubt in Tony's mind that he was currently in HYDRA's custody, but the question remained: why him? It wasn't him they wanted, it was—
And then it made sense.
The agents had found Tony and Loki locked in a bathroom together. There weren't many situations that could be more compromising than that. And certainly, they hadn't expected the two to be romantically involved at all. Allies, yes. Friends, perhaps. But none of them would ever have guessed that Tony Stark, New York's biggest playboy, and Loki Laufeyson, the one who almost destroyed that very city would be found sharing loving touches in a bathroom at S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters.
Of course, Tony thought, it became the perfect opportunity for them. Loki wouldn't break if it was his own life on the line, but if it was the life of someone he loved...well, Tony appeared to be the perfect bait to force Loki to their every whim.
And Tony wouldn't let that happen.
With a quiet groan, he repositioned himself so that his feet were against the door. The lock looked flimsy, at best, and a few good kicks would most likely break it. Steeling himself, Tony put all of his force into shoving his feet into the gate, trying not to make any noise when the pain in his ankle flared up. There was no time to pause, however, because he knew the HYDRA agents would hear him—had probably already heard him—and would be hurrying to prevent his escape. He took a deep breath before once again throwing his legs forward. Something connected to the gate cracked and one more kick and he would be free.
Ignoring the searing pain that was shooting up his leg, Tony gave one last kick and the door swung open, the lock laying uselessly on the floor. The billionaire stumbled out, quickly scanning the room for anything that he could use as a weapon. Unfortunately, there was only a ballpoint pen sitting on the desk in the corner and a lamp, both of which would be close-combat. He could hear footsteps coming down the hallway—if there was any doubt in his mind before that it had been HYDRA, the doubt was wiped away, as the approaching persons were clearly wearing heavy boots—and limped over to the window.
Opening it as quietly as possible, Tony slipped through the small opening before shutting the window once again and assessing his newest predicament. The house he was being held in was two story, and it was just his luck that he'd be on the second. He stood precariously on the small ledge, trying to see a way down that wouldn't add to his growing list of injuries. Normally, he would have just tried to fight his way through, but he was in no state and the clock was ticking. His first priority was letting everyone know that he was okay, and then fixing his arc reactor.
There was an oak tree a few feet away, and Tony eyed it warily. It seemed like his most viable option, but there was still only about a 60% chance that he'd be able to jump onto it unscathed. There were shouting voices from the room he'd just escaped, and in a moment of pure impulse, he leaped from the ledge, reaching out for one of the branches. His fingers just brushed it, however, and his body was instead slammed into one of the lower branches before he managed to get a grip on something. From there, he let himself fall the rest of the way and he glanced back at the window to see if they knew how he'd escaped. So far, they seemed to be oblivious, and Tony limped away from the house, attempting to stay in the shadows. He was in a part of town that he wasn't familiar with, and he could barely see Stark Tower shining in the distance.
Trying to look like he wasn't a bloody mess in need of immediate medical attention, Tony walked as fast as he could down the sidewalk. With every step, his ankle nearly buckled underneath him, but he refused to slow. If anything, it made him more determined to get away from HYDRA's clutches. While it was true that he needed to patch himself up, he wouldn't let himself be the reason that they got to Loki.
He needed to warn Loki that he was okay.
Well, 'okay' wouldn't be quite to word Tony would use, but he refused to be the reason that HYDRA won.
It was another twenty minutes of walking before he finally came upon a cafe and nearly stumbled inside. Taking a seat at one of the booths, as near to the back as possible, Tony took a deep breath as the waitress approached him. "Are you all right, sir?"
"I need to use a phone, actually. I think I'll be slightly closer to 'all right' if you can do that for me."
Alarmed, the young woman reached into her pocket and handed Tony her cell phone, watching as he dialed Pepper's number. It had hardly rung once before there was a frantic, "Hello?!"
"Pepper. It's me."
"Oh my god, Tony, are you okay? Where are you? Are you hurt? We were all so worried—"
Tony couldn't help but smile before he cut his assistant off. "Pep, I need you to calm down. I'm at a cafe," he put his hand against the phone and looked at the waitress, "Where are we?"
"Mayris Coffee." The waitress replied, unsure of what was going on.
"Mayris Coffee. I'm...well, alive, and that's what counts. I need someone to come pick me up. And bring the spare reactor." He let out a shaky breath before continuing. "How's Loki?"
Pepper didn't speak for a moment, and Tony almost thought that the call had been dropped, but she cleared her throat almost awkwardly. "He's...well, he's here. Here, being my apartment. Fury thought it would be the safest place since HYDRA already knows how to get into both S.H.I.E.L.D HQ and the tower."
"I'm sensing a 'but' coming. Pepper, what's wrong?" Tony asked, immediately worried. Something wasn't right.
"Loki won't wake up. We don't know what's going on, but it's almost like he's in a coma."
Worry tore at Tony's heart, but he acknowledged the fact that Loki wasn't in any immediate danger. He hadn't run off to save him, and that was good enough for the time being. "Look, you can tell me more later, but I need you here. Grab the spare reactor, and hurry."
"Tony..." Pepper sounded unsure, with undertones of concern, but she knew when to ask questions and when to keep her mouth shut. "I'll be right there."
Loki glared ahead, face revealing none of his true fear. Thanos wasn't actually standing in front of him, he had to remind himself. Or, more correctly, he wasn't actually standing before Thanos. He was unconscious somewhere on Midgard, but his mind was here. With Him.
"You have caused trouble." Thanos said, his voice wrapping around every fiber of Loki's being and chilling him.
"The only trouble you've dealt with is trouble you brought upon yourself." Loki bit back. He refused to show weakness of this man who could barely even be considered a man. "The Tesseract has been sent away, and I know no where. Perhaps if your Chitauri armies had been stronger, they would have been able to conquer Earth. As it stands, however, Earth is in one piece and I would wash my hands of you."
"Would you so easily forget the kindness I've shown you, Jotun?" Thanos questioned in return, earning a sneer from the Asgardian.
"Is that truly kindness, in your eyes? I might have agreed with you at one point, but I see now that it wasn't kindness at all. It was manipulation. You took a suffering and broken soul, twisting me to do your bidding. But I am stronger now, and I shall not fall for the same act."
Thanos finally turned from the backdrop of star and galaxy clusters, a twisted smile reaching his face. "And what makes you so sure you have a choice, my little Jotun?" He took a few steps forward, hatred and cruelty flaring in his soulless eyes. "The ones who obey me now—HYDRA, they're called. They aren't the best, certainly not as good as you, but they're sufficient. And they have your dear Tony Stark."
Loki felt fear seize his chest, but refused to let it show. "Tony Stark? What makes you believe that he's dear to me?"
"Don't play stupid with me, Loki Laufeyson. The fear in your eyes now is the very same fear I saw when I first pulled you from the blackness of space. I have it on good authority that you've...let's say, bonded, with Mr. Stark. I will give you two options. Go against me and I will kill him. Slowly. And I shall let you witness it as the life leaves him. Or you can do as I say."
Loki hesitated for a long moment before swallowing. "And if I do as you wish, you will have him released?"
Thanos seemed to think this over for a moment before lowering his gaze to Loki. "No. I will still have him killed, but it shall be a swift death and he will feel no pain. You must have some punishment for going against me."
Loki was about to say something—unsure of whether he'd begin to yell or not—when another person appeared. "We have bad news." the man said. He was middle aged, and Loki had seen his face before. The man didn't even notice the troubled Asgardian, however, and moved to stand directly in front of Thanos.
"What is it?" Thanos asked. His voice was dangerous, and the newcomer seemed about ready to pass out from fear. There was a tremble in his hands and whatever news he was bringing was obviously a bit worse than just 'bad'.
"Tony Stark has escaped us, sir. We're searching now, but there's no sign of him."
It was then that Loki recognized the man as one of the HYDRA agents and relief flooded through him at knowing that Tony couldn't be used as a way to control him. "What were you saying?" Loki asked, both men looking over at him simultaneously. "I will explain this only once. Earth isn't yours, nor will it ever be. I am not trusted with the Tesseract. Every attempt you've made at capturing one of the Avengers or capturing me has been a complete and total failure. I would suggest giving up, Thanos," Loki said, trying to ignore how much Tony's cockiness had rubbed off on him, "because this can only end badly for you. Olivia tried to kill me, and failed. And without her, look at what your little army has become. I will tell you this, however; the Tesseract is on Asgard. That is as specific as I can get, for I know nothing else. Now release me. If you think you truly have the power to take over Earth, I would have you try, but it seems to me that Earth is protected by a group who you have no chance to defeat."
"You have changed." Thanos said after a long pause. They HYDRA agent disappeared into the background and Loki had to try his best not to let a smile slip through. No particular emotion was attached to the statement, but the god knew that he had won.
"I have." Loki agreed. "I am no longer a killer. I have learned to accept that family is not bound only by blood. You and I agree on one thing—and that's the fact that I've changed. For the better. I am willing to let you go, loathe as I am to let you corrupt more innocents, so long as you leave Earth for good."
"Your petty planet can offer me nothing now. I will leave, and you shall not hear of me again. However, I will ask you this; do you really believe that the mortals will accept you? That Tony Stark could actually care for a being as pathetic as you? You are nothing, my little Jotun. You belong nowhere. You cannot return to Jotunheim, and Asgard still is not your home. You will wander, lost, just like I found you. Killer or no, you cannot change who you are inside."
Loki drew his lips into a thin line, shaking his head. "Your attempts to break my spirit will do nothing. Return me to Midgard."
Thanos frowned, defeated, and Loki felt the world around him fading. Goodbye, my little Jotun, he heard inside his head before opening his eyes to the blinding golden light of Pepper Potts' spare bedroom. He looked around to see Steve sitting in a chair near the bed and Clint leaning against the wall by the door. "Where's Tony?" He choked out, his voice rasping. He'd have to ask how long he'd been out later, but his main concern was of Stark and his whereabouts.
Steve stood abruptly to push Loki, who was already half-standing, back down onto the bed. "Whoa, not so fast there tiger. Clint, could you grab a glass of water please?" When the soldier was sure that Loki wasn't going to disappear the moment he let go, he took a step back and returned to his chair. "You had us worried there, Loki. What was that?"
Clint returned with a glass of water, handing it to Loki with thinly-veiled concern in his eyes.
The Hawk had actually been worried about Loki's well-being. That was a stunning new development, to say the least.
The god took a small sip of water before sitting up despite a look of warning from Steve. "Where is Tony?"
"Relax, he's fine." Clint said. "Pepper's picking him up as we speak. Now can you tell us what that...episode was all about?"
Loki took a deep breath, Thanos' words playing in his head. He didn't belong on Earth, a fact that he already knew, but he felt more at home there than he had anywhere in a long time. "I was having a chat with Thanos."
"Thanos? How is that possible?" Steve asked, his brows furrowing in confusion.
"How it's possible isn't the important part." Clint cut in before Loki could even begin to explain. "What happened?"
"I pointed out the obvious—that he cannot possibly hope to conquer Earth with ones such as you protecting it. Then I told him the truth—I do not have access to the Tesseract. He realized that any further attempts to get me—get us—would be futile. He has agreed to leave us be and spread his corruption elsewhere."
"It doesn't seem like the most...permanent fix." Steve said quietly, looking down at his shoes.
"But you're right," Clint said, smirking, "he won't stand a chance against us, even if he does come back. And HYDRA will certainly lose the edge they've been flaunting for the past couple months."
"That's very—" Steve stopped when he heard the door of the apartment slam shut and voices coming from the front room. Loki launched off the bed, ignoring the head rush that came soon after, and hurried to the front room where Happy and Bruce were trying to keep a mostly-unconscious Tony on his feet. They managed to get him over to the couch and Loki felt fear grip him.
Stark was pale, with a bruise blossoming on his face. There were spots of blood on his clothes and he looked like he'd taken a pretty bad beating. Bruce was pulling the playboy's shirt of with steady hands, revealing an arc reactor that was far less-bright than when Loki had last seen it. "Is Tony—is he going to be all right?"
Bruce smiled up at the god, doing his best to look reassuring. "He should be just fine as we replace this." Happy opened the brief case he was carrying and handed over an arc reactor which Bruce took and set on the couch beside Tony's head. Pepper, seeing the scientist's hand going for Tony's chest, turned quickly as color left her face.
"God, at least I'm not the one who has to do this. Been there done that." She said with a nervous smile when she saw Loki looking in her direction.
Bruce removed Tony's current arc reactor, flinching when it gave off a few sparks, and quickly slid the new one into the empty chest cavity. It lit up almost immediately, glowing brightly, and Loki let out a breath he didn't know he was holding when he saw Tony's eyes flutter open. "Okay. I've had enough near-death experiences to last me...well, forever." He said, taking a few deep breaths.
"Well maybe if you'd actually told me where the damn arc reactor was, I would have not only been able to get to you sooner, but I wouldn't have had to tell Bruce to grab it and meet me back here!" Pepper said, voice nearly hysterical. "God, Tony, I'm not even in love with you anymore and you're still giving me heart attacks!"
"Whoa there, let's not get all weepy." Tony said, trying to push himself into a sitting position. He seemed to have a bit of trouble, but leaned his back on the head of the couch with a helping hand from Happy. Quickly, his eyes scanned the room, flicking from face to face until he spotted Loki and his entire form seemed to relax. "I was told you were in a coma." He said, ignoring whatever else Pepper was going to say. He'd get verbally berated later; he had to make sure his Asgardian was doing okay.
"I was." Loki affirmed.
"Well, uh, good for you. For waking up, I mean." Tony said, realizing that the entire room was looking between them. There was so much more that he wanted to say, but not while he was in the presence of his team members, the woman who was in charge of his company, and the man in charge of the rest of his life.
"Tony, you should probably do something about your shoulder and back." Bruce said with a grimace, and the billionaire remembered the veritable junk yard that was buried beneath his skin.
Now that he actually thought about it, it really hurt. Along with just about everything else on his body. "Oh. Yeah." He said. "You kind of forget about that kind of thing when trying to escape from men who want you dead. Speaking of which, what are we going to do? It's only a matter of time before they strike again, and I'm not combat-ready."
"Loki actually fixed all that." Clint said, smiling over at the Asgardian. "Sweet-talked Thanos into leaving us alone. Which of course, means that HYDRA won't be targeting us. Specifically, anyway. I'm sure they'll still have plots that need foiling."
Loki would be lying if he said he wasn't surprised when he suddenly had an armful of Pepper Potts. It seemed to him that she needed a vacation, because she was simply under too much pressure, and it couldn't be healthy. "I was wrong about you, and I'm so sorry!" She said, and Loki tried to figure out where to put his hands. He finally just patted her on the head and took a step back.
"There is no need to be sorry." He muttered with a smile. He wasn't used to people being so affectionate towards him, and it was making his head spin. With a glance around the room, Loki quickly realized that they were missing someone. "Where is my brother?"
"We tried calling him, but...well, he's with Jane." Clint explained as though it made all the sense in the world.
Steve's ears turned a light shade of pink when he realized the implications of Clint's statement.
Tony took this moment to clear his throat, trying to stand up despite his ankle. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm starving. Who wants food?"
"You're not going anywhere until we get you at least a little bit patched up." Pepper admonished, shoving him back down on the couch.
"Pepper, I'm fine. And food will help the healing process!"
"Tony, you aren't leaving my apartment until someone does something about your shoulder."
The woman sighed. "Look. If you stay here and have someone fix you, I'll go pick up some food. How does that sound?"
"Will you pick up shwarma?"
Pepper rolled her eyes but nodded anyway. "Fine, Tony. But only because you're injured."
"I think we're gonna head back to the mansion." Steve said, motioning to the rest of the team.
"But shwarma sounds go—"
Clint was cut off by Steve's look. "Then we'll get some on the way to the tower, won't we Clint?"
Loki saw the archer's eyes move from him to Tony and wondered how much everyone actually knew about their relationship. "Right." Clint muttered. "I need to do... some stuff, anyway. So. Lead on, Captain, my Captain."
Happy nodded along with them. "If you don't mind, boss, I'm going to take my leave, too."
"Thanks being there, Happy." Tony said, smiling. "You're a life saver."
Everyone filed out all at once, sending knowing looks behind them, and Tony couldn't help but roll his eyes. "I suppose I'm the only one here to help you, then." Loki said, moving to sit beside Tony on the couch. He nearly cringed at the sight of the man's bare shoulder, though, and reached a hand out to carefully touch the bloodied skin.
"How does it look?"
"Like you're in need of a doctor." Loki said honestly. Tony's shoulder had taken the brunt of the explosion and bits of metal and wood had worked their way into his skin. Biting his lip, the god brought his other palm up and held his hands just above the damaged skin. "This might sting a bit."
"You're not—no, don't magic them out!" Tony complained.
Loki just raised his eyebrow, focusing most of his attention on the task at hand. "And why not?"
"Because you just woke up form a coma. I don't want you straining yourself."
"It is well within my abilities to heal you, Tony. It's either this, or I call Ms. Potts and tell her to take you to a hospital. Your choice."
Tony huffed, but turned around anyway. "You know, most boyfriends would just be content to grab some pain killers. My shoulder really isn't that bad."
Loki's magic faltered for a brief moment at the mention of 'boyfriends'.
It sounded so official; so normal. Almost as though they were regular people.
"Is that what we are?" the god asked hesitantly, focusing on mending Tony's shoulder.
"I would certainly hope so," Tony said, wincing as a particularly large shard of metal was removed from his shoulder, "because that's the impression I was under. Why? Do you not...want that?"
"Of course I do." Loki replied quickly, the calm of his voice hiding the fact that his heart was beating faster and his breathing coming quicker. "It's just...strange, I suppose. On Asgard, there would be a long courting process. I never really expected you to return my feelings, in the first place, but now...well, look where we are."
"I had thought," a sharp intake of breath as Loki's magic began mending the skin instead of just clearing the wound, "I had thought the same thing."
"Does this hurt too much?" Loki asked.
Tony shook his head stubbornly. "I'm fine."
Loki smiled as Tony's shoulder finished healing. "Are you sure that nothing else hurts?" he asked with his voice low, hands moving from shoulder to waist.
"Well, if that's the case..." Tony smirked mischievously and turned so that he was facing the god. "I think I could probably think of a few more things that hurt."
"Is that so?" Loki questioned. He moved so that he sat cross-legged facing Tony, smile gracing his lips. There were a few inches between their knees—so close to touching but not quite there.
"Can I ask you something?" Tony asked seriously. When he received a nod from Loki he continued. "Where are you going to go from here? I know you said that you were going back to Asgard when this whole thing was over, but I would at least think some things have changed since then. And, well. If you wanted to spend some more time on Earth, Stark Tower has enough space for you, and I think everyone would accept you with open hearts."
Loki looked down at his hands in his lap, biting his lip. There was no ignoring the way his heart fluttered at the statement; he was being welcomed. And after everything, it shouldn't have come as such a surprise, but part of him still couldn't help but doubt. "Are you sure you would want that?" He asked, mind once again going to Thanos and the words he had spoken. Loki didn't want to acknowledge that any part of Thanos' statement was true, but after a lifetime of doubting both himself and the world around him, it was hard to believe 100% of Tony's words.
"Why wouldn't I want that?" Tony asked, brows furrowing as he watched the Asgardian. "Hey, Loki, what's wrong? Look at me."
Loki did so hesitantly, met by Tony's worried gaze. "It's nothing. I simply...do not wish for you to feel obligated to do anything. I do not wish to be a burden."
Tony shook his head, reaching out to grab Loki's hands in his own. "The only possible way for you to be a burden on me is if you go back to being all evil and murderous. Until that happens, I want you in my life. Okay?"
"Good." Loki allowed a small smile as Tony reached behind his neck to pull him down for a kiss. Just as their lips met and Loki's eyes slipped close, the front door to Pepper's apartment slammed open and Thor entered the room, looking worried as hell.
"Brother! Are you okay?!" The Thunderer asked, completely unaware of the moment he'd just stepped in on. He seemed to take in Tony's lack of shirt and the close proximity of the playboy and his brother and narrowed his eyes. "I was in New Mexico. I apologize for not being here sooner."
Loki tried not to be too awkward about putting space between himself and Tony, but he could feel Thor's eyes on him. "I'm fine. There was no need to cut your date short." he assured, clearing his throat.
"No need?" Thor asked incredulously. "Of course there was need! When the message on my electronic communication device informed me that the Man of Iron had been abducted and that you wouldn't awaken, I feared the worst."
Loki's heart tugged painfully, remembering Thor's look of pain during their confrontation on the cliff. "Put your mind at ease, brother." He said, getting to his feet so he could put a hand on the blond's shoulder. "Tony and I are both alive and breathing."
"I see that, and I am thankful." Thor nodded before looking around the rest of room. "Where is the rest of the team? And Lady Potts?"
"Pepper is getting food," Tony explained, reaching for his shirt on the floor. He was about to pull it over his head when he remembered the massive amounts of blood covering it and grimaced, dropping it once again. "and the rest of the team is back at the mansion."
"Thanos will not be a problem any longer." Loki added.
"This is fantastic news!" The blond exclaimed, reaching forward to pull his brother into his arms. "We must go to Asgard and tell our father what you have done!"
Loki looked back at Tony, still in his brother's embrace, and let out a small sigh. "Yes, I suppose we must. But can we not stay here with Tony? It seems mildly inconsiderate just to leave him."
"Don't you worry about me, Reindeer Games." Tony called. "Pepper will be back soon, and I can survive on my own. Go have your little family reunion. We can pick up where we left off later."
Loki smirked, though he felt his cheeks flush slightly, and took a step back from Thor. "I'll hold you to that, then."
"Are you sure you're okay, Tony?" Pepper asked, taking a bite of her salad. She was lounging on one side of the couch while Tony had the other, though the playboy needed much more room in order to accommodate his ankle.
"What do I have to do to convince you that I'm not going to die in the immediate future, Pep?"
"Maybe if you didn't do this to me on a weekly basis, we wouldn't have this problem." The strawberry blonde glared, though all that was contained in her look was affection.
Tony adjusted his leg so that he could rest his ankle on the ice pack Pepper had given him without straining the rest of his leg. "It's part of the job description." He said easily with a shrug.
"So I see you and Loki seem to have something going on."
"And how on earth could you possibly know that?"
Pepper smirked, pointing her fork in the direction of her boss. "Like I've said a million times before, I know you. So, have you slept with him yet?"
Miraculously not choking on his food, Tony reached for his cup of soda before speaking. "What? For your information, though it happens to be entirely none of your business, no."
"I would say I was surprised, but I'm really not." Pepper said, almost nodding to herself. "I know you're capable of making things work, Tony. And I'm really proud of you for coming this far with Loki."
Of course, Tony's mind added, they had to deal with HYDRA, evil aliens, S.H.I.E.L.D, and a number of other setbacks before they could even get anywhere with their so-called relationship. "Yeah, well. He's worth it." Clearing his throat, the playboy took another sip of his soda before turning the tables. "And what about you and Jude? When's the wedding? Am I invited? How much are you going to let me pay?"
"We haven't really discussed it yet. Ideally, we'd like to have summer wedding. And no, you aren't paying for any of it, Tony. While I appreciate the sentiment, we're perfectly capable of handling it ourselves."
"Come on. Just a little bit of it. Like, I could pay for catering or a venue. I mean, really, Pep. It's the least I can do for you. You just saved my life."
"I didn't save your life, Mr. Stark." Pepper sighed, using the voice she reserved for the sole purpose of treating Tony like her boss. "All I did was drive you here. Bruce did all the saving."
"Okay, so you may not have saved my life this time. But I owe you for so much more than that. You were the one who helped me with Loki, after all. And you're doing such a good job of running my company. I just think that I have an obligation and a duty to give you a wedding to fit a princess."
The woman rolled her eyes before breathing a sigh of defeat. "We'll talk about it later, okay? We haven't even discussed details yet, but we'll see what sort of bills we can stick you with."
"Thank you, that's all I'm asking for." Tony quipped, practically grinning.
They sat in relative silence for a few minutes, finishing their food and enjoying some brief introspection before Tony finally spoke. "Hey, could you help me with something?"
"That depends on what it is."
"Okay, so, as loathe as I am to admit it, I need help wooing Loki. One night stands are easy because you just have to flash around some cheap jewelry and they're in your pocket, but I want to buy him something that really means something. I just...god, Pep, I just really don't want to lose him. I want to show him how much he means to me and I'm willing to go to possibly insane lengths to do so."
"Okay. We'll see what we can do."
I'll be honest. I'm really not liking how this chapter came out. However, I'm hoping to make the next one shine in comparison. We're kind of winding down here, and there will be only one or two more chapters. Happy New Year's, everyone! I hope you have a great one.
As usual, I LOVE feedback, so feel free to leave me a comment. Seriously. Constructive criticism is beautiful, just like every single person who has stayed with me on this journey <3
(Also, I'm pretty sure Ao3 messed up most of my italics. So. That's fun.)