Tony Stark. Visionary. Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist. Super-hero. Iron Man.
Spooked by thunder storms.
Not scared of them, definitely not, just spooked. The Iron Man wasn’t scared of anything. That didn’t mean, though, that he didn’t have the right to jump a little when the freaking apocolypse was happening in God’s great heaven. Or, the gods’ great heaven, as he’d recently learned— the sky belonged to Thor and his little alien buddies.
Now, one would think being friends with the god of thunder itself would dumb down this little fear— excuse me, quirk— concerning storms. Oh no, it made it worse, if anything. Sometimes Tony couldn’t walk to the kitchen without having to dodge lightening bolts. He didn’t know if Thor was just trying to keep everyone on their toes or if he just felt thunderous sometimes. He tried his best not to find out, just tried to be cautious.
One particular night, though, Tony woke to WW3 and it had nothing to do with Thor. The storm outside was an act of nature itself, not a happy/angry/drunk blonde with a hammer. It was one of Malibu’s many ground-shaking storms, nothing uncommon and everything unwelcome, and a particularily loud one. The engineer lay on his back in the bed that was four sizes too big for him on purpose, with his head on the bare mattress instead of one of the thirty silk pillows lining the headboard. He’d stripped himself down to a sheet and kicked off the goose-feather comforter and 100%-best-quality-cotton blanket.
“JARVIS, moniter weather patterns in the immediate West-coast area using National Oceanic and Atmospheric data,” Tony mumbled, looking at the rising storm through his window-wall, where little glowing screens were popping up on his orders, “pull up precipitation levels, wind speed, and air pressure, and display radar and satellite images. Alert of all warnings.” Talking to his computer(which promptly replied, “yes, sir”) always calmed him down. When he couldn’t control the weather(and he was working on that), he could control his house, so he gave it as many commands as he could. Glancing at the window, where dozens of little graphs and readings were bouncing and glittering, he nodded internally and turned on his side. Can’t pull anything on Tony Stark, Mother Nature. He was prepared for anything.
Except for, maybe, the God of Mischief popping into the middle of his bedroom.
It had happened during the loudest crash of thunder he’d heard all night, so he’d sat up on instinct and was met with the one of the world’s most mentally disturbed criminals, soaking wet and windblown and staring at Tony with magic in his glowing green eyes. A bleating cry immediately sounded on the PA and the window/wall/screen flashed a dangerous red.
“JARVIS, cancel the alarm,” Tony called, and he wasn’t sure why, until he’d looked closer at Loki and realized why his subconcious had said that.
Loki was shivering. From the rain, obviously, but there was something other than magic in the Trickster’s eyes that told Tony another reason he’d shown up shaking in his midevil leather boots. He was afraid, and from the way he cringed like a wounded animal at the next flash of lightening, Tony guessed it was from the harsh display of elements outside.
The Iron Man recalled all the way back to the first time they’d apprehended Loki. They were on their way to SHIELD HQ when they were interupted by a certain grabby older brother. Thor had come down with a bang, literally, and Tony remembered clearly the look on Loki’s face; it was that of a child, scared, lost in a crowd, hearing monsters in the closet. That little light show had only lasted for fifteen seconds; this storm had been going on for hours.
The pale deity stood rooted to his spot, glancing around anxiously but not really looking at anything. His back was bent to match his knees, almost like he was going to pounce. Tony cleared his throat and he almost did.
“Uh,” Tony began, but wasn’t really sure where to go after that. His enemy in his bedroom, his suit was no where near, and both men flinched at loud sounds the sky made. This wasn’t exactly a situation you got into everyday. Night. Was it still night? “So, uh, not much for thunderstorms, huh?”
Loki turned his gaze on the engineer with such ferocity that Tony shifted his weight on his elbows. Tony continued, “you’d think growing up with Thor would have the opposite influence on you.”
Something changed in the god. He stood a little straighter, but his cast his wide eyes at the ground. His hands were grabbing at the thin air in front of him. A second later, another flash and a crash shook the house and rattled both the windows and Tony’s nerves, and the man of Iron could have sworn he heard and actual yelp come from the leather-clad menace in the middle of the room. Actually, he was closer to the bed, now. Was he inching?
Tony weighed his options. One, he could call the Avengers and arrest Loki while he was emotional incapacitated. Two, he could go grab his suit and fight the god himself. Three, he could do something completely unprecedented.
“Hey,” he said, “get over here.” Tony nonchalantly patted the bed beside him. This was stupid. What did he even hope to accomplish by any of this? This was really stupid. Even Loki’s facial expression seemed to think so. That all changed, though, when another natural nuke hit and Loki was next to Tony in a flash of green light before the thunder had even cleared.
The god was curled in on himself, his long, armor-clad arms closed around his shoulders and his knees up in a fetal postion. It looked… strange, to see someone who Tony knew had so much power in such a pathetic state. It was a real reality check for him. For so long, Loki had been the troublesome, sadistic, messed up little sociopath with a magic mind-melting stick and a lust for glory. Now, all Tony could see was the broken little brother with no place to turn but his own enemy’s house.
Why had he come here in the first place, Tony only now took the time to think about, why not Steve’s apartment or Bruce’s lab, wherever it was nowadays? Why Tony?
He looked down to ask him any one of these things, only to find that his new house guest was now breathing evenly in what could only be a releived sleep. Tony almost smiled, but reminded himself that Loki was getting the sheets wet and he was still the bad guy and that it was already 1:42:39 AM. He tugged at the sheets and rolled over to a dry spot on the bed and fell asleep with a murderous maniac at his side.
* * *
The next morning was gray and breezy with broken bits of palm trees hanging off the edge of the cliffs that Tony’s mansion was built on. The smell of the automated Kurig wafted in and out of Tony’s nostrils and forced him back to the waking world. He absently wondered if that was one of the Nine realms Thor often swore to, and then remembered last night’s late-night guest.
Tony flipped over and violently tore at the covers, trying to find some kind of clue that he hadn’t dreamt that, because in some distant part of his mind he wouldn’t admit existed, he kind of wished he hadn’t.
There was no Loki. The sheets were dry. The pillows were stiff. There were no puddles or scuff marks on the floor. No sign at all that Loki had been there the previous night.
Other than a note that was left on the window, written in curly green magic letters, that Tony saw when he rolled over.
“This never happened and it never again shall.”
Tony smiled because he knew that it had, and it would.