The morning hits him like an incredibly rude bucket of ice pouring itself over his head, and he seriously considers just taking a fucking day off, before he remembers the thing.
It should probably worry him how fast he gets up after that.
He gets dressed in a blur, chugs a personal record of coffee, and is out the door before his alarm clock even goes off.
He spends the drive to school checking his face in the rear-view mirror, inwardly cursing himself from being an idiot, and failing miserably at not thinking about- uh, the thing.
The thing that has nothing to do with anything, ever, and he shouldn’t be thinking about it, and they don’t even have a name for it.
It’s stupid, anyway.
Tony shouldn’t be this stressed about it- it’s Steve, he can handle Steve, they’ve known each other forever, they were the ones each other had gone to for each of their first breakups, the first time they told someone ‘so hey I think I might be attracted to guys,’ they’ve literally cried on each other’s shoulders (which Tony will deny even if he’s interrogated, hand to god, and his fucking parents had just died at that point, he has an excuse, fuck you)- basically, they’re going to be friends forever, whether they like it or not.
It’s like that with everyone else, too- Natasha and Clint met at about the same time Steve and Tony did, and Thor and Loki are brothers, so.
Their parents are friends with everyone else’s parents, and hence their friendship had been sealed before they had gotten any chance at getting anyone else.
Bruce- okay, Bruce had been Tony’s lab partner in second grade, and it had all been downhill from there, mostly involving failed experiments that ended up blowing the top off the lab of their primary school, then their middle school, and finally their high school.
Probably even their college, when they get around to it.
Peter had been a surprise, though. An exchange student, freshman year, fitting into their tight-knit group like he had always been there- unexpected, but not unwanted, and he’s as close with all of them as any of the others are.
Anyway, the thing.
The thing that they apparently do now, and Tony still doesn’t really know how it had started, he’s just glad it has.
He turns the key in the lock, switching off the ignition, shrugging off his jacket as he gets out of the car.
Of course, this sort of screw with his whole ‘being in love with him’ thing, but whatever, he’ll take what he can get.
“Hey, has anyone seen Thor today?”
Tony glances up from his tablet. “Hmm? Nah, I saw him on Saturday.” He crams half a bagel into his mouth, grinning at Natasha’ disgusted look as he chews loudly. “Why, is he not calling back?”
Natasha flicks her phone open. “Nope.”
Clint leans on the locker next to hers. “Dude. That’s weird. Thor always calls back. He once called me back at midnight ‘to make sure I was not in fear for him.’”
Tony nods. “Yeah, sounds like Thor. He’s probably sick, or something. Where’s Loki?”
Natasha shrugs. “Haven’t seen him.”
Tony shifts his jaw from side to side. That’s… getting disturbingly normal, actually. “Uh-huh. I have his maths class in second period, I’ll talk to him.”
“If he shows up,” Clint says, raising one eyebrow at him.
Tony starts to say something- it was going to be hilarious, witty and cunning- when Steve walks around the corner in semi-tight jeans and Tony’s brain sort of dribbles out his ears.
Okay, now it’s getting dangerous. He could walk into a wall one day. He’s pretty sure he has walked into a wall a few times because Steve had been wearing something revealing, or had stretched at the wrong time, or had even fucking bit his lip or something else that he’s seen Steve do a million times that really shouldn’t turn Tony on but really, really does.
Seriously. He could really fuck something up. Competing companies could use this to their advantage. He could lose his inheritance.
“Hey, Steve,” Clint says, giving Tony a weird look as he pats Steve on the back. “You know how you’re awesome and-”
“I’m not letting you copy my English exam.”
Clint withdraws his hand from around Steve’s shoulders. “You are a horrible person and I hate you.”
“I’m sure you do.” Steve shoots Tony an amused look as he spins his locker dial, and Tony tries to rearrange his face to make something that vaguely looks like he’s not being utterly consumed by the urge to leap on Steve and kiss him senseless.
Steve opens his locker, shuffling through it for his folder before stopping and frowning.
Tony snaps into action. “If that’s a stink-bomb, that was totally Clint.”
Clint starts to say, “Well, fuck you, too,” but Steve cuts him off.
“No, it’s- uh, a note?” Steve glances at Tony, who shrugs.
Steve reaches into his locker and comes out with a folded piece of paper- it looks like it’s been ripped out of a notebook.
He unfolds it and blinks at it. “Um.”
Clint cranes his neck. “Dude.”
“What?” Tony starts forwards, but Steve turns it around so he can see it.
Natasha’s eyebrows raise. “Ashes, ashes, the first falls down,” she reads, and leans backwards on her high-heels.
Tony clicks his tongue. “Well, that’s not as creepy as fuck at all.”
“I didn’t do it,” Clint says, raising his hand. “Just putting that out there.”
“It’s probably just a prank,” Steve says, crumpling the paper and lobbing it into the bin- he’s never littered in all the years that Tony’s known him, and for some reason that fact makes Tony feel all warm and fuzzy inside for no fucking reason.
So no, the note doesn’t worry him. It’s a weird trick played by a freshman trying to look cool in front of their friends by putting a misquoted nursery-rhyme into a Junior’s locker.
No big deal.
Afterwards- after the screaming, after slamming his fist at the door, after running so hard he feels like his organs are going to come loose and bang around his bones, he thinks back to that moment, how it should have gone differently, how he should have paid more attention, and how he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Steve’s mouth.
When Tony’s phone goes off at three in the fucking morning, he expects his dad to be on the other end.
Then, a trigger goes off in his brain: oh, yeah, he’s dead, oops, as he reaches for his phone, his hand blindly fumbling over his bedside table.
His hand hits something hard- motherfucker, why does he keep that piece of shit lamp, he doesn’t even use it- and then something else that skitters across the desk and to the floor.
Tony groans, flopping sideways, the urge to just roll over and push his head under his pillow growing by the second, before his eyes focus on the screen:
Tony frowns, his hand missing the phone twice before closing around it. “Loki, if you’re not dead and-slash-or dying, I swear to god-”
“It’s me,” Peter says, his voice high and panicked and too loud for three a.m, and Tony manages not to wince away from the phone. “I’m using Loki’s phone, he’s- Jesus fucking Christ, Tony, he just crawled up to my fucking room.”
Tony blinks, suddenly feeling more awake. “He- what? Peter, your room is on the second flo-”
“He climbed up the pipe,” Peter says, his voice escalating. “He- fuck, Tony, there’s blood everywhere, it looks really bad.”
Tony sits up, adrenaline swooping through his body and lingering at his feet. “What happened?”
“I don’t know, he’s- he just keep saying he’ll sleep it off, but there’s a lot of blood, Tony, fucking hell-”
“Where’s he bleeding from?”
Peter stops, and Tony hears a slight rustling sound, like paper being pushed off of a desk. “I- don’t know, there’s just a lot of it.”
Tony swallows, trying not to imagine how Loki’s blood is probably bitter in his mouth- “He can’t be that badly hurt if he climbed up the pipe, it’s a long fucking climb.”
He hears Peter’s throat click on the other end, hears his shaky exhale. “I didn’t think of that, he-”
“Nosebleed,” Tony hears Loki slur, and then Peter saying his name, and Loki mumbling something like ‘m sorry about the sheets, I’ll clean them later-
Tony presses the phone harder into his ear, like that will help. “Loki, man, you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he hears Loki’s reply a few seconds later. “I’m fine, I just- some guys jumped me, Peter’s house was the closest-”
Peter squeaks, “So you climbed up to my room instead of knocking on the door?”
“Your parents are intimidating,” Tony hears Loki snap, and then his sharp intake of breath.
Peter says, “Loki, are-” before Loki cuts him off.
“I am fine, okay? Just- just shut up, this wasn’t worth you calling anyone, Peter.”
Tony hears Peter’s irritated, “Would you let someone take care of you for one second-” before Toy hears a scuffle on the other end of the phone, and Peter yell-whispering Loki to ‘lie the fuck down, all of your blood will fall out of your nose and you’ll bleed out, do you want that on your gravestone, you fucking moron,’ before the call cuts out.
Tony blinks at the phone.
Loki’s obviously worse than he says he is, because Peter had had to be pretty freaked out to start cussing like that, he was almost Steve-worthy of not cussing unless someone had a foot off or something-
Steve. Steve would be good here, he’d drag Loki’s ass to the hospital to get him checked out, and Loki might even listen.
He balances the phone on his fingers, considering.
They’d all come around if Tony asked, if Peter asked, if Loki asked, even if they think they wouldn’t- Natasha would be over there in less than ten minutes, with frizzy bed-hair and a glare that could fell an elephant, much less a cop that had pulled her over for speeding thirty seconds ago, same with Bruce, and Steve, and Thor.
Clint would bitch about it for the next year, but he’d come without a second thought.
Hell, Tony’s pretty sure they’d all jump on a fucking grenade for each other at this point, or at least he would.
His phone goes dark, sucking the rest of the light from his room except for the blinking clock.
Tony sits there in the dark, his phone cooling in his hands, rubbing the screen against his knee and trying not to think about how far he’d go for all of them.
When he jerks awake for the second time that night, he’s half sure it’s a dream before he looks over and his screen is lightning up again, motherfucker-
He snaps it open. “What?”
“Has Thor contacted anyone since you saw him on Saturday?”
Tony tries to assemble his thoughts into mid-coherency. “Steve, what- no, we all saw him on Saturday and he hasn’t called back since then, I told you.”
“Shit,” Steve says in a hurried exhale, and Tony sits up, because first Peter swearing and now Steve, which equals apocalyptic kind of bad.
“What’s going on? Is Loki okay?”
“I- Loki? Oh, god, what happened to Loki?” Steve’s voice raises a few octaves, and Tony can feel adrenaline pooling in his feet again, because what the fuck-
“Jesus, he’s fine! He showed up at Peter’s house all bloody, but he’ll be fine, he’d tell us if he got into something- what’s happening with Thor?”
He yanks the clock into place- 5:33 a.m.
“We don’t know,” Steve says. “We don’t-” he swallows, making a frustrated sound in the back of his throat, and Tony wants to fold his hands around the back of his head, kiss him until its better again, and that’s a stupid fucking thought and he shouldn’t be thinking it.
“He’s fine, as far as we know,” Steve says. “He’s just- missing.”
Tony bolts up, grabs for his keys, tries to remember where the fuck his pants are. “Missing? What the fuck do you mean by missing, he’s probably just out with the others again-”
“They’re all here,” Steve interrupts. “Except- except for Sif. That’s why we’re worried. They- the police say its foul play.”
Tony knows what that means, knows it from crime shows and police reports, but it doesn’t actually hit him until Steve says it: