Tony ran. Faster than he had ever run before. He ran from a drunk father, a disinterested mother, servants who regarded him as a privileged brat. He knew exactly how he was discussed behind supposedly closed doors. From both the servants and his parents views. He tried to get his father interested. He had built a circuit board when he was four. He tried to live up to his father’s expectations, to become the golden boy that his father adored. Captain America. Every other 10 year old spoke that name with reverence. With pride. Tony spoke that name with jealousy. He hated his country’s national hero. He’d just made the mistake of saying that within his father’s hearing.
He ran for the cover of the trees, beyond a clearing. Red marks now adorned his small body, across his cheek, around his wrists. Wet, hot, salty tears ran down his cheeks, blinding his vision. Branches caught at his clothes, small tears down his t-shirt and shorts. The hot sun beamed down, blinding him as he ran out into the clearing. He collapsed into a small heap, crying at the world. Breathless sobs racked his body, his face pressed down into the green grass. He laid there, his emotions flooding out, crying until he could cry no more. When he could once again see, his breathing slowed but still shallow, he sat up, rubbing his eyes.
That’s when he noticed him.
Another boy, about his age. His dark hair was slicked back, barely touching his shoulders. He was dressed in leathers, black and green. His pale face was lined with tear tracks, his eyes red rimmed. They both sat and stared at each other, unwillingly to break the silence.
“Hi.” Tony ventured, his courage – or stupidity – not failing him now. The pale boy stared back.
“Hello.” At least it was a start.
“I’m Tony. Tony Stark.” No flash of recognition at the sound of the surname.
“Loki. Loki Odinson.” Tony cocked his head slightly.
“That’s a funny name. Where are you from?” Tony shuffled closer. The pale boy – Loki – didn’t cease his staring.
“Asgard. Where are you from?”
“New York. Where’s Asgard?” Loki’s face knitted in confusion.
“It’s one of the nine realms? Where’s New York?” Tony gave a giggle.
“You don’t know where New York is?” Loki shook his head.
“I don’t know where I am. Or how to get home. My dad was shouting at me, so I teleported. But I haven’t mastered it yet, and I don’t know how to get home.” Loki’s eye’s were filling with tears, his face scrunching up. Tony got up, and made his way over to the pale boy, and incased him in a hug.
“Don’t worry. Parent’s always come looking eventually. Even mine.” Loki looked up at that last part.
“Why? Don’t your parents notice you?” Tony shrugged.
“Not really. If my dad’s not drunk, he’s mooning over Captain America. My mum has never really cared about me at all. They wouldn’t even search themselves. They’d get the servants to do it, and they would just moan about me being a waste of their time, why should they bother.” Loki looked slightly shocked.
“My parents would notice my absence. Even if it was because I hadn’t turned someone’s hair blue. Then they would get worried about what else I could be doing. If it was my brother, then there would be a full scale search party.” Loki muttered the last part to himself.
“We’ve both got rubbish parents then. And how do you turn someone’s hair blue?” Loki grinned.
“Like this.” He snapped his fingers. Tony grabbed a fistful of unruly hair, and brought it down in front of his eyes.
“It’s blue!” Tony exclaimed, delighted. Loki laughed a happy, chiming sound.
“That is SO cool! Can you change it to other colours?” Tony asked, eager. Loki snapped his fingers again. Tony now had a head of rainbow hair. His eyes widened, his mouth falling open.
“Wow.” The Tony’s face fell.
“What is it? Don’t you like it?” There was a slight tremor in Loki’s voice.
“No! I love it! But I can’t give you anything in return.” Tony looked and felt heartbroken. Loki promptly gave Tony a hug.
“You don’t need to give me something.” Tony nodded vehemently.
“Yes, I do. You’re my friend. Friend’s give each other gifts. I’ve got nothing to give you.” Loki’s face was shocked.
“You... You said I was your friend.”
“Only if you want to be.” Loki was very still.
“No-one’s ever called me their friend before.” Tony looked scandaled.
“Then the people in Asgard aren’t very nice then.” Loki giggled.
“You can say that again.”
“The the people in Asgard aren’t very nice then.” Loki and Tony both dissolved into hysterics. When they both calmed down, Loki stuck out his hand.
“Are we friends? Definitely?” Tony nodded.
“Best friends.” Loki’s eyes widened.
“Then shake on it.” Tony grabbed hold of Loki’s hand.
“From this day onward, I, Loki Odinson, is hereby best friends with Tony Stark.” Tony grinned.
“Best Friends Forever.” Loki nodded.
“No matter what trouble we’re in.”
“We’ll always come and comfort.” The two boys shook hands. “Amen.” Tony finished. Loki looked confused.
“Amen? What is that?” Tony looked baffled.
“Don’t you go to Church?” Loki shook his head. “Amen is what you finish with when you say a prayer. It seemed like a good moment to use it.” Loki nodded, though he still looked confused.
“What is church?”
“It’s where you go to pray to God.” Loki rested his chin on his hand.
“I thought no-one prayed to us anymore.” Tony looked baffled.
“I... what... never mind.” Loki smiled. He liked this Tony Stark, full of brazen purpose.
“Tony?” Tony stilled at the voice carried through the trees.
“Ummm... looks like they’ve discovered I’m missing.” Tony’s face was crestfallen. Loki’s fell slightly too.
“Until we meet again, Tony Stark.” Tony slowly got up, and pulled Loki to his feet.
“See you later, Loki Odinson.” And with a parting hug and a wave, Tony disappeared off into the trees. Loki screwed up his face, and managed enough magic to teleport him back to Asgard, where he was met by furious guards and a gleeful Thor.
Neither of the young boys had noticed the binding, white, rope-like magic that had tied itself around their enclasped hands. When both the boys could feel the pain and the sorrow of each other facing their parents, they wondered. For, in that meadow, Loki had performed magic his older self dreamed of.
Loki Odinson and Tony Stark had binded their souls together that day. And neither one of them was prepared to let that go.