“Giant robot sharks flying around Manhattan,” Tony says. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. I need a fucking drink.”
“Can the chatter, Iron Man,” Cap says over the comm.
As Tony watches, hovering, one of the sharks notices him. It turns slowly, a port on its top opening. Something that is very obviously a gun rises up and immediately begins firing on him.
“Giant robot sharks with freaking laser beams,” Tony amends, dodging as he speaks. “Any clue who came up with this great idea?”
“Nope,” Clint replies. “Doom, maybe?”
Tony raises his gauntlet and fires, but the shark doesn’t seem to mind the blast at all.
“Arrows are no good on these fuckers,” Clint says, and Tony laughs.
“Thanks for the newsflash, Hawkeye.”
“Geepers crow criminy dutch,” Cap says, and for him that’s the equivalent of a cluster f-bomb strike.
From the street below, Tony can hear the Hulk rampaging around, no doubt looking for something appropriate to smash.
“Sir,” JARVIS says. “Miss Potts is on your left.”
“What?” Tony abandons shooting at the shark (it wasn’t doing a damn bit of good anyway) and frantically scans the area.
And there she is.
Standing there in the living room window of her new apartment watching The Avengers vs. The Giant Robot Sharks With Freaking Laser Beams Saturday Afternoon Matinee Battle like some stupid civilian who doesn’t know any better.
Naturally, the shark that Tony had been fruitlessly shooting at notices her too. Its laser cannon swivels, aiming –
What happens next happens so fast that Tony almost can’t follow it.
The shark fires.
Loki is suddenly there – fucking Loki! – standing in front of Pepper, shielding her, the green magic shimmering all around him, and the shattering glass that should have cut her to pieces falls harmlessly to the floor instead.
He’s in full Asgardian battle rig, with that stupid horned helmet that must weigh a fucking ton and he’s raising his hands and they’re crackling with green magic and the shark is gone it’s just gone and Cap is saying something absurd over the comm, something about all the sharks being gone and then Natasha chimes in to say that it’s raining candy of all the damn things (“You know, those little red and white Starlight mints you get in restaurants,” Clint adds helpfully) it’s raining candy in New York but that’s just so fucking insane that Tony doesn’t even know how to reply.
And Loki is standing there smirking at him like that cat who’s gotten the cream.
“Fucking Loki,” he mutters, and heads for the window.
He lands smoothly, his boots crunching on the shattered glass, grinding it into the carpet and he knows Pepper’s gonna be pissed about that. Oh well.
He flips up his faceplate and moves toward her, ignoring Loki like he doesn’t even exist.
“Pepper! Jesus! Are you all right?”
“Yes, Tony.” She gives him a weak smile. “I’m a little shaken up, but I’m fine.”
“Tony Stark saves the day,” Loki says sarcastically, and Tony turns, glaring at him.
“You listen to me, you sneaky little fuck – ”
“Tony!” Pepper exclaims. “He saved my life! You should be thanking him!”
Tony would be willing to bet everything he owns that it wouldn't be possible for the God of Mischief to look more obnoxiously satisfied with himself.
Loki shimmers, and his armor and that stupid fucking helmet dissolve away into black trousers tucked into black suede boots and a flowing emerald shirt made of some kind of silky-looking material. Tony can see the glint of gold around his wrists and at his throat.
“Brother!” a booming voice exclaims, and Tony turns to see Thor coming in for a landing. The huge blond god is grinning from ear to ear. “How is it that sweets have fallen from the sky? I sense your hand in this, for it seems your sort of mischief!”
Loki actually smiles. “The sharks were a bit bothersome, and so I changed them to candies.”
Candy, Tony thinks wildly. He turned them all into fucking candy like it was no big thing. Jesus. He’s more powerful than we ever imagined. And right on the heels of this horrifying realization comes another: He’s just been playing with us all this time.
But Tony being Tony, he just can’t keep his mouth shut like a sensible person.
“And where’d the sharks come from in the first place, Reindeer Games?” he asks snidely. “Betcha I can guess.”
“And yours would be as good as mine, Stark,” Loki replies with a shrug. “I have no idea from whence they came.”
“You will not speak so of my brother!” Thor booms, and raises his hammer meaningfully. There is a distant rumble of thunder.
Tony sighs. “Really, big guy? Isn’t one of your little bro’s names ‘Liesmith’?”
Thor glowers, but says nothing.
“Listen,” Pepper says, and they all turn to look at her. “Why don’t we all just sit down and talk about this like – ”
Tony has had enough of this insanity.
“No, you know what? I’m leaving. I’ve got tons of stuff to do, there’s a dent in my nice shiny new armor, the weather forecast today calls for candy all afternoon and I forgot my damn umbrella, and I need a fucking drink.”
He moves toward the window, passing close to Loki as he does.
“You listen to me, asshole,” Tony says very quietly. “If you even think about touching Pepper – for every single definition of the word ‘touch’ that exists in the dictionary – I am going to find you and – ”
Loki laughs delightedly.
“Oh, Stark. What makes you think that I have not already?” he asks, and shows Tony his teeth.
Without even thinking about it, Tony raises his gauntlet and fires, hitting Loki in the center of his chest at point blank range and propelling him across the living room and through the wall.
Pepper is screaming and there’s a roar of anger and he’s being grabbed by huge strong hands and thrown backwards out of the window (and what is it with these guys and throwing people out of windows, anyway?) and his faceplate snaps down and the rockets ignite and he’s no longer falling.
The skies have darkened ominously and lightening flares in the distance. I might’ve made a really big mistake here, he has time to think, and then he’s being chased by an absolutely livid God of Thunder.
Cap is yelling over the comm, demanding to know what’s going on around here, and Tony is doing his best to avoid Thor, and he’s sure that the fact that he’s suddenly laughing hysterically isn’t doing anything to improve Thor’s temper.
Welcome to my life, he thinks, and then: I really need a fucking drink.
Behind her, Thor is roaring with anger and Pepper is pretty sure that he’s pushed Tony out the window, but she knows that Tony is in his armor and is in no danger of plummeting to his death, and so she doesn’t even turn around.
Instead, she runs through the new hole in her living room wall, into the hallway, and through a new hole in her bedroom wall, where she finds an unconscious Loki sprawled out on the floor beside the bed.
She kneels down beside him, and for a moment she can’t credit what she’s seeing.
“Oh my God, what did Tony do to you?”
She tries to think if Tony ever mentioned modifying his suit to include weaponry that can turn people blue.
Because Loki is blue.
And not only that, there are some kind of strange designs all over his skin. Surely nothing that Tony could invent would do that… would it?
He’s so cold now that the air around him is chilled; Pepper shivers and wishes briefly for a coat. She feels at his neck for a pulse, and when she touches him her fingers burn with the cold.
He opens his eyes, and Pepper gasps.
“Oh my God what did he do to you oh my God oh my God…” she moans, for his eyes are as red as blood.
And bizarrely, he begins to laugh: Eh heh heh heh heh heh, as though this whole horrible situation is the funniest thing ever.
“It’s not funny!” she yells, and he laughs harder. “You are blue! Did you know that? Somehow, Tony turned you blue!”
His laughter immediately stops.
“Ah,” he says, pulling himself up into a sitting position. “I was unconscious, and the glamour failed.”
“You noted before that I am Jötun. What you see now is my true form.” He turns his face away from her, and his voice burns with shame and self-loathing. “You must think me revolting.”
“What? No, no. You’re… this is you, right? I mean, it’s fine. I don’t… it’s fine. Why would you think… you can’t… you were born this way, right? Like Lady Gaga.”
What did I just say? she thinks, mentally kicking herself.
Meanwhile, he is looking at her again, his brow furrowed in puzzlement.
“I know of no Jötun lady by that name.”
“Yeah, she’s not a Jötun lady, she’s a singer, she – look, never mind. Forget it. That was stupid. I just…”
Without really thinking about it, she reaches out with one finger to trace the line of one of the designs on his cheek. Surprisingly, he allows this.
“Loki, it’s fine.”
After a moment, he reaches up for her hand without actually touching it.
“You really mustn’t touch me if I am… like this. I am too cold, and you will burn yourself.”
“All right,” she agrees, and stops.
He closes his eyes, and the blue and the strange designs fade away, and his skin is pale again. When he opens his eyes, they are emerald green.
He comes to his feet in one smooth motion. “I do so love your former betrothed,” he tells her, and offers her his hand. “He’s incredibly violent!”
Pepper laughs as he pulls her to her feet.
“What on Earth did you say to him?”
“I may have implied certain things about the nature of my relationship with you.”
“So you see…” He shrugs. What are you going to do, right? the gesture seems to say.
“You certainly do have a way with people,” she tells him. “Come on, let’s go into whatever is left of the living room and have a drink.”
He follows her through the holes in her walls, and she doesn’t see the very satisfied smile on his lips.