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The Archetypal Fruit

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“You know, I knew a guy who got into trouble like you once,” Hecate mused

Loki arched a brow her way. “Pardon?”

“Well, they didn’t exactly date, at first, but he left courting gifts, believe it or not.”

“I still do not follow.”

“You want to steal a bright-burning future for your own, lately, do you not?” Daughter-in-law as she was to the trickster god, she felt more than secure conversationally prodding him over tea, while they awaited Hel’s return from her nightly vigil. “Even though he is at times the only one keeping his own world out of eternal darkness.”

Loki’s eyes narrowed shrewdly. “Do not compare me to Hades. I get enough of that sort of mix-up on Earth.”

“‘Earth’ now is it?” she teased lightly. He was unimpressed by that particular taunt so she moved on swiftly, “The difference, darling, is that the Devil of common Earthly myths these days is an enemy.” She raised both eyebrows pointedly. “Whereas I consider he and his wife to be quite good friends of mine.” She then took a long sip of tea, slow enough to allow him time to process.

“You’re suggesting a time-share arrangement?” he asked slowly.

“Yes.”

“I believe we’ve already got one.”

“I’m talking a little more permanent.”

Realization dawned across the trickster’s expression. “Oh.”

“Finally. I thought I would need a hammer and chisel next to get through to your brains. Or possibly a pickax.”

“I’m not exactly... trusted.”

Hecate reached over to pat his cheek absently. “Neither was Hades.”

Loki’s face twisted in a slight grimace.

“You’re realizing how sappy it is you didn’t think of tricking him into this ages ago, aren’t you? That. Is. Adorable.”

“Please don’t rub it in.”

She rubbed a circle over one of his cheeks just to be contrary, withdrawing her hand just quick enough he couldn’t decide yet whether or not to bite it before she was already out of range. “You’ll have to thank me at some point.”

“I will,” he muttered.

“Our debts covered, then?”

Loki swore. Of all the people he cherished having a little leverage over, if only for his own paranoid sense of mind, his daughter’s wife had been one of them; however, she had, somehow, gained his implicit trust over the centuries. “Yes.” He shot her a sidelong look. “In full.”

The sly goddess of gateways and crossroads smiled softly at him, looking a bit sincerely touched. “No immediate wrath? No new plans to ensnare with new debts?”

It was his turn to smile in a way that set her off-balance: affectionately. “No.”

He wasn’t entirely surprised when she set down her tea to hug him.

Nor was he surprised that moment was when Hel finally finished defrosting and removing her formal armor to come rejoin them. She raised a brow at them both. “Am I missing something?”

“He trusts me!”

Loki rolled his eyes and muttered a bit, but didn’t exactly struggle, until Hel strolled up and smacked the side of his head.

“About damned time.”

“To be fair, it’s not exactly recent, there just hadn’t been opportunity to show it, but she cornered me with advice I rather needed more desperately than I am at all comfortable with,” Loki sighed, grasping his daughter’s hand and pressing her knuckles to his cheek. “Otherwise, lacking such trust, I’d have caused you both a lot more trouble and been killed long before now, I’m sure.”

“This is true,” Hecate mused. “I supposed I could’ve noticed that sooner.”

“So you’re both fools.”

They peered up at her, until she settled in on the couch beside her wife and settled an arm around both of them. “At least you’re my fools.”

They murmured in agreement, before Loki disentangled enough to reach for his tea again, and pour Hel a cup.

She accepted it and took as sip as Loki resettled on the couch and Hecate retrieved her own cup as well.

“So you’ll be keeping your mortal then?” Hel asked only once her father had taken half a sip.

Luckily, he’d caught her watching and had braced for an alarming question. He swallowed sharply and cleared his throat. “I’ll be attempting to steal him soon, yes.”

~~

Tony Stark was not entirely unfamiliar with Loki supplying strange foods from his travels. Once the god had found out about his lover’s broad interests in matters epicurean, he’d started finding human-safe bits to bring back to once-again-Stark tower.

After his break-up with Pepper, and his stumbling headlong and quite accidentally into a new and much more unwise series of hookups with the god of lies, Tony had to admit that keeping Loki’s visits secret would’ve been a lot harder if the Avengers hadn’t moved to their own base.

But back to the treats.

Surely only Loki could be responsible for the almost unearthly-delicious aromas ready and waiting for him back in his Chicago hotel suite for no aptly explained reason. The thought made strange sensations happen in his chest, like all other times the trickster had gone out of his way in small ways to just... take care... of his human lover.

“Woah,” Tony’s mouth was watering and his stomach growling, because he’d long ago stopped trusting hors d’oeuvres at most business-related parties Pepper made him attend these days––even ones he threw himself. Too many close calls with suspicious food poisonings that affected only him, and two incidents with roofies, no matter how tight security was, had made him a paranoid man, that way.

So he’d effectively made it through the night on coffee and soda, regretting ever having dried out only a bit petulantly.

Now the inventor was working on not salivating too much to talk as he glanced around for the god, but found him not in sight. “Uh, Friday? What’s with the dinner spread if there’s no god of mischief to lick the dessert off of? Is he in the bedroom or something?”

“No, sir. Mr. Lyesmith is not present, nor has he been detected within these rooms. This meal was delivered under Pepper’s request, sir. You behaved admirably in public, but your personal detail informed her you had not eaten. This was delivered while you were in-transit.”

“I thought that drive took longer than usual...” He still felt strangely disappointed, just a little. And also chided himself sternly for instantly leaping to the conclusion Loki must be around. It suggested his wishful thinking was overall Loki-inclined, and while that was too true, it didn’t do well to encourage it in himself. Surely.

“It did,” the AI confirmed, “but only by about ten minutes. The chefs responsible for catering the party also provided dinner to many of your more expensive special guests, as means of further improving relations.”

“Ah, yes, sales pitches with plenty of presents. Cool. It smells heavenly.”

He sat at the table and lifted the first-course dish’s metal lid away. It was a cornish hen, with apple stuffing, and a honeyed glaze that shone like gold somehow. It had been skillfully deboned entirely, despite the bird’s small size, wrapped around the stuffing until it was like candied dumpling-skin for the filling inside.

Tony fairly inhaled it. The second course included figs and roasted bits of apple, with apparent curls of edible-gold-leaf pressed against spirals of pear, each atop a medium-rare medallion of beef.

The medallions didn’t last long.

The third and main course was full of richly spiced and tomato-stewed chicken, topped with pickled lemon and more of that curious gold garnish, and the crunch of crispy fried seeds of some sort. The rice and grilled carrots and red and yellow bell peppers alongside it on the plate were the perfect mild compliments.

The dessert almost took Tony’s breath away. A round pastry which, once cracked open, unleashed the smell of an orchard at high noon, cinnamon, and something almost like juniper. It came with a ginger-cream, thick and cold, to pour over it little by little, to cool the filling without soaking the crust. It wasn’t over-sweet, and Tony might have made any number of indecent noises while eating the creamy, caramelized innards with relish. He thought he might have felt a few firmer spots, like an entire apple might have been used, core and all, only to be softened and broken down somehow in the cooking process.

Upon finishing it, Tony recalled something vaguely. “I thought Pepper said she usually preferred the meals she served guests to be seasonal?”

“She does, sir, yes.”

“Apples aren’t actually in season yet, around here.”

“Actually, now that you mention it, sir... sir?”

Tony had started to get up, but then saw stars for a moment and stumbled back into his seat. His whole body seemed to be tingling. He blinked several times to clear his gaze and it was almost... clearer than he remembered it being, since aside from the light over his head at the hotel penthouse suite’s small but refined dining table, the room had been relatively dimly lit. Looking around, the inventor realized no other lights had been turned on.

“Sir, are you alright?”

“I think so,” he said slowly, “but I may have a lot of questions.” He took a pen out of his pocket: a fairly sturdy metal one. He took the lid between two fingertips, and squeezed. The metal dented without much effort and Tony’s lips twitched. “Let me guess. I’m the only one who got an apple-themed feast tonight?”

“Well... actually, yes, sir. I was unable to detect the difference until you mentioned it, suggesting interference.”

“Yes. That.” Tony re-pocketed his pen and rubbed a hand over his face for a moment, then froze, sniggering. “Oh my god, we’re both such idiots.”

“Excuse me, sir?”

“Not you,” he assured. “You’re right as rain. No, this is... somebody else, and I.” He rolled out of his chair and toward his suitcase, pulling out one of his larger tablets and beginning extensive energy scans of the tower. After a few minutes he did detect traces of magic around his dinner table and timed the energy-release as having happened shortly after plates had been delivered by catering. He also detected older traces of similar activity in Pepper’s suite up the hall suggesting Loki had placed the food delivery request in the first place, making sure Friday would believe the ploy.

It took him longer to hone his equipment to find the more recent trails of magic, given how good Loki was at covering his tracks. Within half an hour, Tony found him, and nearly cracked up laughing.

The fucker was in another hotel right across the street, able to see at least the silhouettes moving behind the hotel’s security glass, until Tony turned all the lights out. The inventor was torn between laughter, irritation, and something a bit more sickeningly heart-warming. Loki had literally cooked an entire small (and frankly exquisite) feast in order to ensure he’d eat every bit of a golden apple before he could stop and think.

Because of course the god of lies knew Tony too well to try that approach directly.

Tony’s commitment and fear-of-rejection issues would have irrationally flared up, a fight would’ve started, damage would have been done to both of them. The inventor supposed he should be pissed off at being tricked, but instead felt... elated.

Nothing soothed the fear-of-rejection issues quite as much as Loki’s being so much worse, he’d been afraid to ask, but determined enough to make happen what he could and face the consequences later. Tony was those consequences, and now he couldn’t help but want to offer his own pomegranate of sorts, in turn. Something filled with the seeds of innumerable future ideas. Get a bit of his own back, maybe, as well as make a point.

“Friday, do me a favor and write something in letters of light on that North-facing window there? Enough that it can be seen through the glass, say, from that building over there, please.”

“What message, sir?”

~~

Loki had been curiously watching the silhouette of Tony Stark ever since the billionaire had discovered the feast awaiting him. The fact his heart warmed because even the sight of a mere shadow-facsimile of the man projected onto the window informed the trickster loud and clear that the man clearly enjoyed the meal, made Loki feel absolutely ridiculous. Of course he enjoyed it. The trickster’s extensive travels and training in mystic arts had required him to be able to feed himself on whatever native flora, fauna, and fungi might be available, and he took pride in doing it well.

He held his breath when Tony stood a bit too quickly after finishing the apple’s final pieces, and the headrush of power made him stumble. The man then did something with his hands Loki couldn’t identify, and once the power surge in him subsided Tony fairly leapt from the table, light following in his wake as he pulled something from his bag and then... there was a light source between him and Loki’s current position. He lost sight of the inventor.

After several minutes, Loki retired to a nearby chair, still idly watching, but also pouring himself some savory Alfheim brandy over ice as he did so, pulling the glass and flask from the air, and the ice from his own Jotunn abilities.

Halfway through the glass, and roughly twenty-odd minutes after he’d lost sight of Tony, Loki noticed red letters appearing on the dining-room window of the inventor’s penthouse suite, clearly projected by his new AI. Loki finished his glass in one swallow and rose to his feet slowly, squinting a little as he translated the crackling electric-red script. It took him a few seconds.

I love you too, Jackass.

Loki might have almost embarrassingly stumbled when one of his legs threatened to give out at the same time he tried to step still closer to the glass be certain he read that right.

Because that had not been the reaction he had expected from Tony Stark, honestly.

But judging by how close his heart felt to beating fast enough to explode from his chest, Loki was almost too elated to hesitate. Then he recalled it might be a-

More letters appeared: No trap. I’m serious. Come here, I need you.

The trickster teleported into Tony’s penthouse for the second time that evening almost before he finished fully translating what he’d read.

Then there was Tony Stark, tie undone and jacket thrown off, tablet now out of harm’s way on a nearby side-table, staring up at the god of lies like he was a bit stunned that had actually worked. “You believed me.” He waved a hand a bit, and Friday obligingly turned off Tony’s red-light invitation, which he would have to make jokes about later someday. Ha. Maybe something about forbidden fruit.

Loki nodded. He was stiff, for once his words failing him. He might have been wearing a collared shirt he’d taken from Tony some time ago, one of black with green pinstripes, with the sleeves rolled up to elbow to conceal they were too short for his arms. He looked delicious in that shirt, black slacks, and bare feet, even with his tongue apparently frozen to the roof of his mouth. He also looked ready to bolt at any moment.

So the human had to talk fast, to keep him here. Quick Tony, quick. “Good. I, uh, meant it.” Okay. Lame, but serviceable.

The god swallowed thickly, but still said nothing.

“Closer?” Tony asked.

Loki stepped forward until their legs nearly touched, but made no attempts to reach out; although he let Tony reach out, grasp the fabric of the front of his stolen shirt, and pull the god a little closer by it.

“You want me forever, do you?”

“Yes,” Loki whispered, his gaze unwavering.

The inventor nodded, smiling a bit disbelievingly. “This place still needs me.”

“They can have you in spring, or when your... heroic duties call.”

“You don’t need to stay away while I’m in the light. You know I love how you cool me down,” Tony murmured, pulling him close enough now their lips brushed.

“As you may wish. Your reason may be almost twisted as mine, but that is reason enough I might be willing to be ruled by you, depending on the season.”

“You mean when I’m not playing pet?"

“I do you love you as my pet, but Tony, I more particularly love... all of you.” He put up no resistance, and furthermore reached out to cup his lover’s face in one hand, when that finally made Tony snap, and pull him close enough to kiss, slow and deep and tasting wonderfully of apples. Then Loki’s other hand grasped the inventor’s shoulder and began slowly pushing him back, the more boneless Tony became under the ministrations of his lover’s mouth exploiting every well-learned trick good for making Anthony Stark’s higher brain faculties evaporate. Loki had collected quite a lot of them.

By the time Tony’s back met the bed, he found himself across the middle of it, albeit diagonally, with Loki’s hand sliding from his shoulder to the bed for support, an in that moment of haze alleviation they parted for air. “Keep kissing me like that, I’ll definitely remember why I enjoy being your pet, though.”

Loki smiled and trailed his lips down his lover’s jawline. “Is that what you need of me, my love?” he purred.

An acute shiver ran all the way down Tony’s body, making his breathing ragged a little with it for a moment. “Say that again.”

“Tony...I will call you my love as many times as you may require.”

The inventor whimpered.

“You have my word, Tony my love, that I am yours, and will be so long as you wish me to be, and that you will forever be my love,” Loki murmured in his ear, feeling his beloved shiver again, this time at the tingle of power from the god’s blood forging his word into his bond between the both of them.

Tony then abruptly flipped the god over and straddled his waist, cupping Loki’s face in both hands in lieu of pinning him, which surprised the trickster enough to have the same effect. “If you’re mine, I mean to infect every part of your life.”

Loki turned his head enough to kiss one palm. “And I yours. Unless you’d prefer to hide me away seasonally, as now.”

The inventor leaned in and smirked a little. “I’m not that much like Persephone, and of the two of us, I’ve got the throne and am from the ‘lower’ realm. In fact, if anything-” He nipped the god’s lip. “I stole you, Loki. I just never expected you to accept what I can offer.”

The trickster’s eye’s lit up then. “You did steal me. You tempted me away from the rest of all the gods, and all my hiding places, into your world.” He pulled Tony down closer then. “We can tell the press that, in any case.”

“Wow, I love you so much right now, come––mmmyeahthat-” He didn’t let the god dominate this particular kiss, instead teasing and nipping and rebelling until Loki seized the back of his neck and pulled him down closer, while shifting Tony’s hips down their bodies until he could wrap both long legs around his waist.

The feel of that caused the inventor to emit an embarrassing gasp and shudder. He’d always had a thing for legs, and the feel of Loki’s around him was never anything short of blissful. “That a hint, Loke?”

The rest of their clothing abruptly vanished with a flicker of magic. “Rather, yes.” He sounded breathless and kept accidentally rocking his hips in small motions and then stopping himself, as Tony started to reach for a bottle of lube, only to find a convenient and familiar-looking vial of it already atop the sheets so he needn’t reach far.

He wasn’t surprised when the cap self-opened once he picked it up, and quickly slicked his fingers. “You are unfairly gorgeous when you blush halfway down your chest, like that.”

Loki tried to glare at him, but then his head tossed back and his eyelids fell shut briefly as the inventor pushed two fingers into him, slow but not altogether gently. Arching his back a little as Tony’s fingers curled, the god allowed himself to whimper. It had been a fairly long while since he had allowed his human lover this liberty, but then again, it was seldom Loki ever craved to feel opened up, and claimed and owned by any other being quite like he needed from this man, right now.

He thus writhed and lost track of himself slightly as the inventor’s head dropped between his legs and those clever fingers continued opening him up. There was a brief break in the fog as they both chuckled a little at Tony’s comment on how much less his fingers felt they might break this time being related to apple-based perks.

Then those fingers drew away and Loki all but whined.

“I’ve really never seen you like this,” Tony panted, his face suddenly close. “You really okay with this?”

Loki nodded fervently. “I’ve laid my feelings bare, Tony. It’s your turn to make me feel possessed... please?”

The inventor made a noise like a whine and a moan and was instantly so much closer, one hand in the god’s hair gripping hard, and his lips brushing his Loki’s. “You having trouble believing I want you?” After pulling them both to the edge of the bed, he pushed into the god’s body, all at once, making Loki gasp sharply. “Because fuck, Loki, I crave you so much I quit booze, and regularly wake up reaching for you, you bastard.”

Emitting a low gasp, Loki panted out Tony’s name with a stutter.

“I love feeling owned by you,” Tony continued, biting at Loki’s neck, but still not moving his hips further, his free hand keeping Loki’s pinned flat against the bed, “but I think I like the idea of owning you as well even better. If I’m half as gorgeous like this as you are, I can see why you kept coming back.”

That pulled a low moan from the god under him. “It’s not you I doubt.”

Tony hummed at that, biting harder. “I see, then. You just need reminding I can pull you apart.”

“Regularly, if you’re particularly persuasive,” Loki offered, turning his head enough to meet his lover’s eye when the inventor sat up to peer down with further intrigued interest.

“Oh really, now?” He began to pull out slowly. As slowly as he could.

It successfully made the god of lies squirm. Delightful. “Y-yes. Presuming you truly want all of me, my love.”

“Yeah, always,” Tony promised. “I’ll never be done with you, Loki.” And to prove his point, he began to steadily pound his lover into the mattress without mercy, biting at his throat and occasionally Loki’s nipples when the god’s pleas reached certain particularly fervent pitches. After one such bite brought Loki to a scream that signaled his fall over the edge, Tony nearly followed except he heard an abruptly harsh command, “Don’t you dare stop, Stark, d-don’t f-ngghh!”

So perhaps it had started off commanding and drifted off into almost-sobbing noises of pleasure until Loki was clearly growing hard again. The overall effect was still such that Tony came so hard his eyes nearly rolled out of his skull.

When what followed next involved him being turned over onto his stomach himself and Loki suddenly close behind him, he was unsurprised, but also whined, his cock aching at the overstimulation of rubbing against the sheets as Loki slid a lube-slick finger into him.

“My love, you now have recuperative powers on par with my own. Allow me to introduce you to them,” the trickster purred.

“G-gonna k-kill me FUCK ahh how does that... how are you...”

“You are very good to me, my love. I feel very grateful, and inclined to reward you extensively.”

Tony was fully hard again just at those words, and really, that was hardly fair. It made him gasp and wheeze a bit embarrassingly, as well as writhe around Loki’s now two fingers fucking into him, catching his prostate fit to make him whimper, but he forced himself to find words. “By being good to me?” He then gasped as in response those fingers left and Loki pushed into him abruptly after only that brief preparation, rough just as he knew his inventor preferred.

Accordingly, Tony moaned in a way he never would publicly admit to being capable of: nearly a wail, but more sultry, savoring the ache.

“By being ever so good to you,” Loki promised.

Feeling muscle tension melting under the rumble of that voice from the base of his skull down through the rest of his body, Tony gave a long sigh, then, leaning back into Loki’s embrace. “Then claim me again, please, my god?” He glanced up to meet the god’s gaze through his eyelashes shamelessly.

Because Tony, too, knew precisely how to shut off the higher faculties in his lover’s brain almost faster than the speed of light, and his rapturous scream fifteen minutes later proved just how rewarding he found such tactics to be.

~~

Two weeks later, in the middle of a meeting with Pepper and Loki over how to handle the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the press, and possibly con them a little if necessary, in order to arrange for Loki’s peaceful integration into life on Earth, Hecate appeared, looking a bit annoyed.

Everyone at the table before her appeared surprised, but only Loki looked less than utterly baffled; he appeared only moderately confused and a bit concerned.

“Hecate, Queen’s consort of Helheim,” Loki greeted a little formally, raising one eyebrow slowly. “Please meet Tony Stark, my betrothed, and Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries and its greatest sole bastion of sanity.” He gestured. “What brings you here?” he asked carefully.

“So I made the mistake of betting with Sif where Hel could hear it, and Hel offered a prize roughly equivalent to double or nothing, which I should’ve known better than to take, and the upshot of which is... I owe the pair of you a large boon.” She pointed between him and Tony.

Pepper looked more concerned than confused, now. “What bet exactly?”

“That I was right about certain archetypes.” She cleared her throat and looked straight across the table at Loki, jabbing a finger towards him. “You failed me!”

“I tried to warn you not to compare me to Hades,” he said coolly. "I'm far too peripatetic."

“Wait, what?” Tony asked. “Wait, did you seriously give him that idea? He didn’t just decide to get impatient and trick me?”

It was Loki’s turn, then, to avoid eye contact with the rest of those present.

“Yeah, it was. He was so won over it honestly hadn’t occurred to him,” Hecate teased, grinning broadly now.

“That’s a little bit adorable,” Pepper muttered.

“Right?” Hecate shot back. “I like this woman. You two could learn a thing or two from her, I’ll bet you.”

“They know better than to take that bet,” the redhead attested, staring the boys down until they nodded solemnly.

“Right.”

“Absolutely.”

Hecate nodded at Pepper, but felt just slightly unnerved.

“So, a boon,” Tony mused.

“A... specifically large boon,” she confirmed.

“Well, we’ve got our plans in place for integrating Loki into society down here on Earth, but well, you two do need some political wrangling done in Asgard, right?” Pepper suggested brightly.

“Should be easy enough for you, Hecate, to see me exonerated in some way that will embarrass Odin a bit without incriminating you, and all of my concerned parties,” Loki approved. “What think you, Tony?”

“I think she should have to work with Sif,” he suggested.

Hecate stared him down for a moment. “Shit. They really were right.”

Loki smiled sweet poison, and Tony’s grin widened too, and the god of lies said, “Good luck to you, then, in persuading Sif to aid you in my exoneration.”

“You are a pair of bastards. Also Hades has invited you to dinner sometime next solstice, while Persephone is at the peak of enjoying being away from her mother,” she taunted them vaguely, seeing them both make strange faces before she waved at them, and vanished in a puff of deep blue smoke.

“Dinner with Hades,” Tony mused. “Still got to be less awkward than with Odin.”

“There is that,” Loki sighed. “Where were we?”

“Dr. Doom contingency plans to make you look good, next time he attacks somewhere, I think,” Pepper said, sorting through her papers. “I figure your teleportation powers evacuating people we’d otherwise never be able to reach might get you some really good press, if you’re willing.”

Loki hummed. “Better than striking at him directly, for a start.”

“Save offending him directly for when he overpowers us somehow?” Tony asked.

“Seems more practical, presuming the ideal way for this to progress is slowly, giving the general public time to digest the idea of my being...” He gestured vaguely.

“Not so bad after all?” Pepper suggested.

“I suppose.”

“Basically that, yeah,” Tony agreed. “Ideally, anyway. Knowing us... we should have plans for when it inevitably explodes all at once at the worst possible times, too.”

“Agreed,” Pepper and Loki said, not quite in unison, but still close enough that they exchanged odd looks.

Tony smirked at them both. So maybe he had a type, and maybe that type was “competent, in control, and droll of wit” but that wasn’t so bad. Apparently, if Loki was to be believed, the god and goddess rulers of the underworld Hecate was more familiar with were... similar of humor. Gallows humor, perhaps.

Fitting, not that either of them would ever let the other die again, or even fake it. Not without the other's permission and involvement, in any case.