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Unforeseen Side Effects

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Tony Stark says very important things all the time but no one ever takes him seriously, not even when they really should. So when Tony says he's going to buy an island, sure, no one listens to him because apparently they think that kind of "hyperbole" doesn't need a response. The thing is though, Tony Stark actually can buy an island so he does and now the Avengers have an island that they can use as needed. Do they ever thank him for it? No. They don't even treat it as a learning experience for the next time he says something a little off beat but definitely right.

So when Tony Stark says, "You know what Loki really needs is a Xanax," everyone except Steve ignores him.

"Tony!" Steve says. If he had pearls, he'd be clutching them. "He is actually trying to destroy the world."

"That's what I'm saying," Tony says as he loads a vial filled with green liquid into one of his wrist-guard missiles. "Does that sound like the action of a calm, rational, non-neurotic person to you?"

Before Steve can beg Tony to be serious for just one single solitary moment, Thor booms out, "Brother! What is this madness?" without even a hint of irony.

Fury says something phenomenally useless over the intercom like, “What’s the situation, guys?” Tony keeps ignoring him, because the situation is the same as it was thirty seconds ago.

Thor is the only one capable of advancing on Loki right now. His god-like strength and his child-like outrage that Loki would do such a thing are each measured out in slow, deliberate steps. It’s like he’s wading through glue, trying to force his way through the terrible pressure surrounding Loki. But then something changes, some new stage of the destruction is entered, and the pressure that was so previously impenetrable, now turns inwards and seeks to drag them all in. If Tony didn't have rockets on his feet he probably would have been sucked right inside the vortex. Steve, caught off guard, needs to be grabbed by the wrist and pulled back down to the ground.

Thor nearly stumbles but he catches himself with his heavier-than-even-the-apocalypse hammer. He spreads his feet into a wide stance, heels digging into the ground, but still he slips forward, inch by inch, toward the vortex of immense energy over which Loki stands, suspended in midair. The pull just keeps getting stronger, because that's what happens when you create a black hole with black magic.

Everything around them is in a whirlwind, Loki at the exact center, and still Tony licks his index finger and holds it up to test the breeze. (The fact that his index finger is sheathed in his armored glove makes the gesture even more for show.) Steve looks like he would throttle him, if only he could stand on his own.

"Thor?" Tony calls out, "I'd like to apologize in advance for this."

The thunder god doesn’t hear him. He's swinging Mjolnir around looking he's about to do something phenomenally foolish like attacking Loki while he's busy being thing conduit for all the destructive forces in the universe (or something, none of the Avengers could fathom precisely what he was doing). This would no doubt mean Thor would be sacrificing himself in some terribly noble way, probably he's already thinking of the songs that will be written about it. In a way it's almost cruel to steal his thunder (pun very much intended) but Tony is going to do just that. Thor opens his mouth to let out some sort of mighty battle cry, but Tony's missile fires, zipping over Thor’s shoulder and heading straight towards Loki's heart.

Loki's magic stops it an inch away from reaching the mark. He looks down at Tony, and smirks. Tony smirks even harder, because half a second later gas explodes from the missile, and both Loki and Thor take great, startled gasps of it.

It only takes a second for the gas to clear away, and when it does it looks like nothing at all has changed. Fury asks for an update anyway.

"There's still a vortex, we’re still going to die. Maybe," Tony tells him.

Steve looks appalled, "Tony, what the-"

"Wait." Holding up his fingers, Tony counts one, two, three, and then everything goes still.

The wind stops, the dust settles, and Loki's feet are back on solid ground. There’s a perfect silence while Loki stands there looking around at the landscape wiped clean of everything - every plant or bug or stone, nothing left but the bedrock – with a mild curiosity. Then he looks up at his brother. Then things start to get really weird.


"Tony what did you do to them?" Steve asks.

Saved our lives and theirs as a bonus, he thinks but does not say. Steve hadn't seemed too happy with that answer the first time. "So yeah. Remember when I bet Thor a beer he couldn't stand still for six minutes?"

"No-" Steve starts to say, but Tony just keeps right on talking. "I was actually doing a deep scan of Asgardian physiology. If they can be affected by something like alcohol or an opiate then it stands to reason they can be affected by psychiatric drugs, right? I was going to bet him another beer he couldn't handle getting stuck with a needle to do some tests, but Loki kind of sped up the need for the experiment."

Nick Fury takes a deep, unhappy breath. "You thought drugging both a villain and our friend with an untested cocktail of psychotropic chemicals while one of them was trying to open a black hole in the middle of Utah would be a good idea?"

Tony thinks about that for a moment. "Maybe not a good idea. But it was an idea. And it did work. I mean, you gotta give me that, right?"

Fury pinches the bridge of his nose, "We need to work on your definition 'work.'"

Tony looks like he's going to say something smart, but he is interrupted by this sort of purr-giggle-sigh noise that's coming from deep in Loki's throat. Thor is sitting crossed legged on the floor of Tony’s living room. Loki himself is sitting quite happily in his lap, braiding Thor's hair with his nimble fingers.

"I'm thinking I maybe I went a little overboard with the dosage." He clears his throat before muttering, "That's all."

Loki and Thor continue to pay no mind to their conversation. Or their presence. For about six hours now, the only thing they've been aware of is each other. Back in Utah Fury even shot a gun off at close range and all it got was a giggle.

Loki finishes one braid and starts another. "We used to do this when we were children, remember? Mother would throw us both caterwauling into the bath and, after we were half-drowned, she would give me the combs because I was the only one who could get the tangles out without you bellowing like you were being murdered. Then I'd braid your hair so that it wouldn't be tangled again in the morning."

Pepper makes an "aww" noise from the corner where she's tucked herself into to make an important call. Whatever CEO is on the other line must ask her about it, because immediately after she's blushing and stammering. "Oh, nothing. I just heard something. Saw something. A baby. Rabbit. A baby rabbit. Listen," she says, straightening her back, and walking out of the room. "The point is we've got to come down on those percentages."

Loki finishes the plait only to slide his fingers through the knots and undo it again. Thor looks positively bashful, but his hands don't loosen their grip on Loki's hips at all.

"Are you sure it wasn't an, um.” Steve hesitates.

"Wasn’t a what?" Tony prompts.

"An aphrodisiac?" Steve asks almost primly, but not quite.

Mentally Tony reviews the chemicals again. "Relatively sure. I'm not going to say it's not an aphrodisiac, but I am going to say that this just might be what you get when you strip away centuries of responsibility, anxiety and regret."

With no shame at all, Thor pulls Loki down into a deep, wet kiss.

Fury stops pinching his nose so he can glare at Tony. "You get incest?"

"Maybe," Tony says, shrugging hugely. "I don't really know. I never read much Freud."

Thor breaks the kiss and presses his forehead to Loki's. "I remember when we used to sneak out into the stables at night to hide in the hay with our horses and dream of where we could ride them." Thor says, whispering his own favorite memory to make Loki smile. The thing about Thor is that his whispers are more like normal person's regular speaking voice, so everyone in the room shifts around looking uncomfortable because they can't help but eavesdrop.

"When the sun rose we would have to run back to our beds so that the maid would not find us missing, but not before we'd gotten all the hay from our hair. We'd run our fingers through each others hair, half asleep, combing it loose. I never said how much I liked it." His thick fingers slide through his brother's dark hair easily and Loki makes that purring noise again.

"When will it wear off?" Steve asks.

Tony purses his lips, it's a good question. He tips his head from side to side like he's doing complex calculations. It goes on long enough that it becomes absurd, and then a little longer. "I don't know," he says finally. "See that's the thing about an experiment."


The writers of Norse mythology believed that earthquakes were caused when Loki, bound to the earth by the entrails of his children, writhed in anguish as the poisonous venom of a snake dripped onto his bared flesh.

And really they were kind of right. If you stick only to the bits about Loki, bound, writhing and bared flesh. And added an enthusiastic Thor.

Tony Stark is amazed his house is still standing but is not too surprised to discover the Governor of California would like to have a word about the very mild, but hour long earthquake felt by seventy percent of the greater Los Angeles area.

"My scientists tell me that your house happened to be the exact epicenter of the quake."

Tony takes a second to mull over how to reply before deciding to play dumb. "Did they?"


When he gets home, Tony changes out of his suit into a t-shirt and jeans, steps out onto his patio and pops the cap off a beer. With all the time he spent yesterday answering questions and not being congratulated on saving the world he forgotten to congratulate himself on a job well done. He reclines back in one of his deck chairs and stretches his legs out in front of him.

Nearby Loki stands in the middle of the neat strip of grass between Tony's pool and the edge of the cliff his property is built on. Behind him, Thor drops to a crouch and launches himself at his brother's back. He doesn't seem at all surprised that instead of tackling Loki to ground he flies straight through him. Loki's double disappears, but Thor has gotten hold of the real Loki's ankle and is dragging him out from under the giant fern he'd been hiding behind. Thor laughs in triumph while Loki scrabbles frantically at the grass.

"Behold Loki! God of chaos, and the terror of Asgard."

Steve stands rigid as a sentry beside him, looking concerned. "I'd like to think that even you can't be so unflappable. This isn't even a little bit strange to you?"

Loki, nearly pinned, wraps his legs around Thor's waist and tries to kick him off. He doesn't succeed at much beyond rubbing himself against his brother a bit lewdly against his brother but neither of them seems much bothered by that fact.

"Strange?" Tony takes a thoughtful sip of his beer. "You know, I'd say it's strange but I'd be saying it to a previously frozen super soldier. I'm not sure we get to call people strange."

"Tony, even you must-"

Years of practice lets Tony ignore Steve's attempt to chasten him easily. "Strange is the six months ago that guy kidnapped Pepper and trapped her in a nightmare in order to trick her into revealing secrets about me and that was before using her as live bait. Strange is that I'm not trying to kill him. He's probably even getting grass stains on the clothes I lent him."

Pepper was a remarkably resilient woman, but she'd doubted reality for weeks after. For too long after there would be moments when she stared hard at Tony, or her friends, closed doors, and even her own hands like she expected them to suddenly change and reveal something more monstrous. Tony had nearly killed himself trying to beat the shit out of Loki before Thor intervened.

That same Loki is now laughing, completely carefree, as he tries to shove a handful of grass into Thor's mouth. Tony doesn't know of any easy way to kill an Asgardian, but Tony was the guy who created a new element in a basement with the supercollider equivalent of a My First Science Kit. He could figure it out.

But he wouldn't.

"I don't know," he says, sipping his beer. "Maybe I'm never going to find anything strange ever again. Seems pretty freeing." He looks at Steve, and reaches into the sweating bucket of ice and brews at his feet and pulls out a bottle. "I know it doesn't affect you, but just. Take a load off."

At first it looks like the Captain is going to say "no" like he always does, especially when Loki melts into the ground, disappearing completely. There's a fretful second where it looks like he's actually gone for good and Steve just tenses with the chance to say "I told you so." But then Loki reappears behind Thor and puts him in what might be a really weak choke hold or a really fierce hug.

Steve relaxes, shoulders dropping down. "Okay." He takes Tony's offering and sits on the chair beside him.

"Thanks for staying, by the way." Pepper had taken one look at the kissing and gone home to her new boyfriend. Smart girl.

Steve acknowledges Tony's gratitude with just a slight nod. "Well. It's just until these two are back in their right mind." He stares at the beer in a quiet moment of contemplation. "You know, I feel a little guilty."

"I'm not surprised," Tony says. "I mean, please explain."

Steve glances over, and for once his look is more wry than offended. "With everything that was going on, I'd sort of forgotten they were brothers."

"Really?" Tony asks. "Did you somehow miss Thor screaming 'brother' at any and all opportunities when they fought?"

Steve laughs, "No. Hard to miss that. There was just a lot to take in, you know, when I came to. I guess it got pushed to the bottom of the pile as a minor detail." Loki laughs maniacally as he pulls his brother's hair, Thor does in fact bellow like he's being murdered. "But they had centuries of a childhood together."

Thor has finally managed to shake his brother off his back and now has Loki pinned to the lawn. They're sun-gilted, cheeks pink with exertion, their boisterous laughter giving way to exhausted panting. Before Loki can escape again, Thor lowers his mouth to cover his.

Immediately, Tony and Steve decide to find the horizon fascinating, lifting their gaze from the lawn to squint out at the parched hills in the distance. "And apparently an amazingly adventurous puberty," Tony says, just to diffuse the tension.

"I'm just saying I get it now," Steve says. "Why Thor let him get away with it so many times. So. Now there's at least one more thing that makes sense to me. That's nice."

Tony isn't sure what to say to that. He turns away from the landscape to try and read the look on Steve's face.

A long, low moan comes from the pile of limbs on the lawn. "But now," Steve says, finishing his beer in two long swallows, before getting out of his chair to go inside. "I think I'd really like to forget they're brothers again."


The thing about Tony's LA home is that it's secluded, but not exactly hidden. So if people are going to have sex in broad daylight in the backyard, there's a possibility someone is going to see them. And there's another slight possibility that this person will have a camera with a high powered zoom. And there's still yet another chance that this person is going to sell some of the more risqué-without-quite-being-pornography pictures to a tabloid rag in order to accuse Iron Man of having trashy gay sex parties.

Tony is definitely going to mention this to Thor and Loki when they finally start paying attention to anything he says.

They weren't, however, currently listening to a damn thing he says, so he teases Steve. Because he's there and he's the only one in his house who will listen to him. "Apparently you're my mysterious live-in boy toy."


Tony tosses the paper down next Steve's honest to God actual steak and eggs breakfast. "Would you like an allowance?"

There's a picture of all of them, him and Steve on the patio, Thor and Loki on the lawn, framed in such a way as to make it look like the smiles on his and Steve's faces are there because they're watching the shenanigans going on right in front of them.

Steve picks up the paper in his hands for a closer a look, and that look leaves him fairly horrified. "What?"

"Okay, fine. You can get an allowance." Tony says, he laces his fingers behind his head and leans back in his chair. "But first you gotta give daddy some sugar."

The punch comes next is not really a surprise.


Tony has gotten so used to being universally ignored by Thor and Loki that it takes him too long that Loki just said something to him. He's in the kitchen making a sandwich, and Tony takes the crafting of his sandwiches quite seriously. He'd just applied the exact perfect amount of mustard, no more, no less, when Loki had tried to speak to him.

"I'm sorry, what?" He needs to slice the tomatoes next, but that's something that needs his complete and total concentration, because the thickness of a tomato slice can literally make or break a sandwich.

Loki is dressed in loose pants and a shirt with the neck suspiciously stretched out. His long, white neck is marked up and his hair is not combed. He is the very definition of well fucked. "You are the one to responsible for that strange concoction, am I correct?"

"Possibly." It was Tony's personal philosophy to never admit he was responsible for anything unless he knew the price tag attached.

Loki's lips quirk, amused. "Well then, possibly I owe you some thanks."

"Oh you don't have to thank me, any benefit to you was strictly coincidental. I just wanted you to stop trying killing everybody and ruin all my stuff in one go." Tony picks up one tomato, hefts it in his hand and gives it a slight squeeze. He set it aside with a frown and picks up another tomato instead. "Where's Thor?"

"Oh, sleeping." Loki raises a sly eyebrow. "Heavily."

"Really? That's funny, because I haven't slept heavily since you guys got here. Guess I'm the only one."

Loki doesn't look even a bit guilty. "I don't suppose you know what it feels like. The effects of the spell you cast."

Tony is first and foremost a scientist. Sort of. Anyway, he can't stop himself from abandoning his sandwich so he can find out more about the effects of the drug. "And what do you feel like?"

Loki's face turns soft and thoughtful before he answers. He tips his head to the side, exposing his neck again. Tony is used to seeing Loki completely grim faced and in ridiculous amounts of rigid armor, like he was just wholly sculpted from gold, leather, and marble. All this vulnerability is a little disconcerting.

"It feels like I can breathe," Loki says. "It's like I had stopped breathing and never realized."

"Sounds nice."

Loki's eyes flash in a way that usually means Danger! Danger, Tony Stark! But that's also because there's usually a quite obviously dangerous thing happening at the same time, too, like knives flying at Tony's face, or a hellbeast coming up through the floor. In Tony's cool, comfortable kitchen the strange iridescence of Loki's green eyes is only intriguingly exotic.

"It should be terrifying,” Loki insists. “Realizing you know what it's like to drown without dying." He takes a deep breath, "And yet I am not bothered. I've looked everywhere within myself and I find no fear, no anger. Just vague shadows easily ignored in favor of..." Loki’s smile is like a secret, "brighter things."

"That's not going to last forever." Tony has to point that out even though he really doesn't want to. "You understand that, don't you?"

Loki nods. "I understand that I've been given a glimpse of something I might have if..." he trails off, lost in thought. After a beat, he notices Tony again. "If," he says again, like that's all Tony needs to know. "But perhaps you don't understand what an astounding thing you have done for me."

"Oh I know I'm astounding. Don't worry about that."

Loki grins, showing his teeth and everything, and it's not terrifying at all. It's actually kind of sweet. "What gift can I offer you, Tony Stark? I mean this sincerely. What do you desire?"

Waiting for his answer, Loki leans forward, and Tony feels a little uncomfortable. "You know, usually when you use that seductive tone, you're about to try and kill me."

"I'm only trying to be kind."

"Too kind." Tony says, partly because he feels like he's got carte blanche to ask for anything at all and literally everything about Loki is seductive right now, sex written all over him, the little marks and bruises spelling it out in bold letters on his skin.

"I assure you,” Loki promises him. “I have no desire at all to kill you."

"But suddenly I find that I almost do." They both turn their heads and find Thor standing at the door, arms crossed, looking positively stormy. What is Tony's life that Loki is earnestly trying to be sweet to him and Thor doesn't announce his arrival to a room by bellowing, "My friends!" at the top of his lungs?

"Hey, Thor," Tony says, immediately trying to back away from Loki, but getting trapped by the counter behind him. He slips out sideways and faces the full six and then some of unhappy giant slayer in his kitchen. "You're up early this afternoon."

Thor frowns, "And you are up to something that looks as though it would vex me."

"I didn't know you felt that way about sandwiches." Tony notices the knife he selected to slice the tomatoes is laid out on the cutting board, and tries to slide it back into a drawer as subtly as possible.

Thor crosses the kitchen in three long strides and places himself squarely between Tony and Loki. Tony can see Loki just over Thor's shoulder. The bastard is smiling. "Brother," Loki says, touching Thor's back lightly. "Calm yourself."

"I will be calm if there is good reason to be," Thor insists, but already he is melting a little because Loki's fingers are traveling up his spine and curling comfortably around his neck.

"Then be calm because I wish it," Loki says.

Thor doesn't argue with that, and neither does Tony. For once he's actually relieved when Thor puts his back to him and sweeps his brother into a deep kiss. Because that is his life now: brothers kissing is the lesser of two evils.

"Okay, good, I'm just gonna-"

Thor suddenly lifts Loki up by the hips, forcing Tony to dive forward and whisk his sandwich fixings to safety before Thor can deposit his brother right on the middle of the counter.

"That's- you know." Tony says, nearly dropping his tomato. "That's not sanitary."


"So I've got some good news." Tony says, plopping himself down on a stool next to Steve's worktable.

Steve doesn't look up from the engine he's disassembled. "Do you?"

"The drug is wearing off."

"And how do you know that?"

As if on cue, a heavy boot kicks open the door to the garage. Thor strides in carrying Loki, who's helping him out by keeping his legs tightly wrapped around Thor's waist and sucking on Thor's neck for dear life. Steve looks completely flabbergasted.

"Well, the first indication was Loki tried to have a conversation with me. The second was Thor got jealous and decided to claim Loki in the kitchen. Lucidity and insecurity, two things we haven't seen them experience in at least 36 hours."

Thor sets Loki down right on top of a drafting table. This frees up his hands again and he shoves them up the back of the shirt Loki is wearing. Briefly he glares at Tony before visiting another fierce kiss on his brother’s lips.

Tony sighs, "Still waiting on rationality, though."

"Wh-" Steve stutters when Thor grabs a handful of Loki's hair and pulls hard enough that Loki's back achieves a breathtaking curve. "Why are they doing that in here?"

In their enthusiasm Thor and Loki knock over a jar of pencils. The pencils go skittering across the table and the jar rolls over the edge, cracking but thankfully not breaking. They don't seem to notice, but really it can be hard to pay attention when you have a tongue in your ear. "Well first they were doing it in the kitchen. Then they were doing it in the living room. Finally I decided this was the place that had the most surfaces I could wash off with a hose."

"That's… valid, but why on earth do you need to monitor them?" Steve looks at Tony with a kind of hilarious narrow focus. It's as if he wishes he could switch off his peripheral vision entirely.

"I don't want to," Tony says. "They're following me. Or rather Thor is following me to teach me a lesson about Loki being hands off, and Loki is letting him. I think he's still evil even with the Xanax in his system. Just lazy."

"I. See." Steve shakes his head to clear it, "Well. That is..." he must see something out of the corner of his eye, because they grow huge and he looks right at Tony with even more determination. "Very unfortunate." He claps Tony on the shoulder, like he's sending a good solider out to die, and starts to leave. "Good luck."

"Where are you going?"

Steve looks over his shoulder, puzzled. "I'm getting the hell out of here, obviously."

"No, wait please." Thor sucks a new bruise on his brother's neck. Loki's mouth opens on a gasp, and close again, white teeth sinking into his swollen bottom lip. "You gotta help me. I can't just sit in a room alone with this going on. I need moral support!"

"Moral s-" Steve thankfully stops walking away. "What are you even talking about?"

"I'm talking about the buddy system. I'm talking about never leaving a man behind." Steve starts to look he's not buying it anymore, and Tony blurts out, "This is going to drive me crazy if I have to sit through this. Just do me a favor and help me ignore this."

"Tony. No." Steve turns and takes another step.

"Please!" Tony says. In the background Loki sighs, pleased with the results of shoving his hands into the back of Thor's jeans.


"Please." If he sounds desperate it's because he is.

Steve gives him a hard stare like he's searching for any evidence that this is all just an elaborate prank being played on him. Tony holds his breath until at last Steve sighs unhappily. "Fine. Okay."

He sits back down on the bench and they both resolutely turn their backs to the flagrant display behind them.

"Okay," Steve says again. While he fumbles to think of something to say, Thor hums appreciatively at something Loki does. "Um. How about that weather?"

"Really? That’s the best you can do? This is California, Steve. It's sunny and 72." Tony probably should immediately resort to baiting Steve again, especially since he only just barely agreed to be his maintaining-sanity-buddy, but unfortunately humor is one of the only ways Tony can actually maintain his sanity. "Just like it was sunny and 72 yesterday."

"It isn’t always."

"No, actually it is."

"What about the forecast for next week?"

Tony makes a show of checking his phone. He looks over to his left only just enough to get Steve into his peripheral vision and nothing else. "Cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms actually."


"No." Tony says immediately. "Sunny. 72."

"Oh." Tony can see Steve snort, and relax his shoulders just a bit. "Walked right into that one, didn't I?"

"You do that a lot." This could work. Maybe a minute has already passed. One minute out of who knows how many. A space between his shoulder blades starts to itch like a physical manifestation of impatience, but he doesn't let himself think about it. Keep calm, he tells himself, bait Steve. "Did they not have jokes back then?"

"We had jokes. But no one had yet perfected your exhausting sarcasm. Was that your first invention?"


Steve finally smiles, a small one like he doesn't want Tony to notice. "I try."

It would have been almost like any other time he finally teased the Captain into showing he wasn’t all apple pie and sunshine, except for that fact that Loki chooses that exact moment to make this noise, this high, unabashed whine. And it's not just that it's sexy, though it is, but it's just so open. Intimate. Tony's gut twists with the sound of it, as if Loki's naked want was calling to his own. Pleasure seeking as he proudly proclaims to be, it's been a while.

Thor makes his own noise, a low growl deep in the barrel of his chest that's crazy primal, like untamed beast kind of primal. It should be ridiculous but for some reason it's not and Tony starts to think he's losing the war on against the insanity of this situation.

Tony can't help himself. "This is-"

"No it's not." Steve says immediately. Tony glances over, and sure enough the Captain's hands are clenched. He's trying to hide it by crossing his arms over his chest, but they're definitely clenched.

"It's a little-"

"It isn't." Steve won't even let him say it. "They're brothers."

"Adopted, technically."

"You're splitting hairs," Steve says, frowning. As if that were the absolute worst thing Tony could be doing right now. God, he wishes there were other things he could be doing right now.

The itch between Tony's shoulder blades is getting worse. Surely at some point even an angry god is not going to pay attention to whether or not someone is sneaking out of a room, and just focus instead on whatever it is he's doing to make Loki so breathlessly vocal. Tony just needs to see if Thor is still trying to keep an eye on him or not.

"I'm gonna peek."

"What?" Steve sounds even more disapproving of that than he did about splitting hairs. "No, you're not."

"It's not like I want to. But for the sake of my sanity I've gotta have an idea of how much longer we're going to be here."

"Tony, don't."

He does.

"Oh." He means it only to be a glance, but they got their shirts off at some point, apparently, so there's all this sun kissed gold skin pressing against Loki's more unearthly pale. Loki's long legs are hooked at the ankle, his knees up and bent to keep Thor as close as humanly possible. Really though, keeping his brother close should be the last thing Loki needs to worry about. Thor's half wild, shoving himself against Loki like he'll only be happy when he finally succeeds in getting under Loki's very skin. Thor's also whispering, actually whispering, words that Tony can't quite make out. He keeps repeating something over and over like a prayer and Loki nods, eyes tightly shut, making the same promises.

Tony turns back around.

"See I told you." Steve looks at him, expectant. Tony keeps trying to remember how to swallow. "Oh my god, something has actually rendered you speechless. If only there was a way to call this up at will."

Keep calm, Tony remembers, bait Steve. "That's not a bad idea. If I filmed it I bet we could make some money."

"Shut up."

Shutting up is a bad idea, because the gasps and sighs and high, little wanting noises are now joined with slick sounds that Tony really doesn't want to hear, but keeps listening for. He realizes his leg, hooked on the bottom rung of his stool, is bouncing nervously and he can't stop it. He wonders how many times he'd have to bounce his leg to work off the massive amount of sexual tension he's currently suffering, but it's not a hypothesis worth testing. He's going to wait exactly one more minute, and then he's getting out of here and locking himself in his room for some quality time.

Steve licks his lips, and Tony finally notices there's a fine sheen of sweat forming on his forehead. Tony finds himself thinking that's kind of awesome. "This is-" Steve almost admits, but he stops short.

Victory. "Isn't it?"

Steve closes his eyes and rubs his face like he's trying to wake up from a bad dream. "I think I hate my life."

"That’s funny because I'm starting to have a good feeling about mine." Tony waits another thirty seconds. He gets up as quietly as possible and says, "I don't think they're going to notice if we can sneak out now."


The next day, Thor comes down to the kitchen full of apologies instead of threats. He's in right mind again and has a rough idea of what had transpired over the past three days. He practically shouts his apologies to the heavens. Or at least to the entire neighborhood.

Tony patiently listens, sipping his coffee throughout Thor's lamentation for his behavior. Behind Thor, Loki eats a few grapes and doesn't look sorry about anything.

"You know what?" Tony says finally. "I'm not mad. Don't even worry about it."

Because Tony says really important things all the time and no one ever takes him seriously, not even when they really should. Yesterday afternoon, though, he and a certain flushed and flustered Steve Rogers had spilled out of the garage and into Tony's living room, leaving the sounds and heat of some really good sex behind them.

But when Tony had asked, in all seriousness, "Do you wanna?" Steve had taken him seriously enough to look him dead in the eye and say, "Jesus. Yes."

Which was pretty awesome and frankly almost worth all the trouble.