„Tony!“ Bruce whined.
„I know, I know,“ the billionaire with a brand new super strong body sighed. „I just want to make it perfect. You know, like-“
„Like he is. I've heard it about seventeen times already, Tony,“ said Bruce.
„About seventeen times? You know, seventeen is a pretty exact number, nothing you should connect with the word about. If you said about twenty or about a hundred, that would be something completely different, but when you say about seventeen-“
„Sorry, sorry!“ Tony squeaked. „I can't help it, I've only had this new apple-improved body for a few days, my mind's on fire!“
„Yeah, I've noticed. Trust me, we all have. Especially Loki.“
„He's only thrown me out of the window once so far. That's probably not bad.“
„That's just because he raided my stock of chamomile tea two days ago.“
„Did he? That explains a lot. Like... Look, he can't overdose himself with it, can he? Because he's been unusually calm lately.“
„Your trip out of the window was only yesterday, Tony.“
„Yeah, but he looked almost bored when he threw me out,“ Tony frowned. „I'm like... hundred percent sure he was yawning when I landed back in the apartment. Oh, shit, now I'm worried about him. Brucieee...“
„Tony, I know Natasha's already threatened you with something similar, but keep pissing me off and you'll find out very soon if that new body of yours can take what Loki's did. Also, you're gonna have a new hole in the floor to repair.“
„Brucie-bear, you wouldn't. You couldn't. Or could you? Do such a horrible thing to me? Oh, you could. That's it, my heart is broken. I think I'm gonna cry.“
„Tony Stark, I swear-“
„I know. Shit, I can hear how annoying I am, but I can't help it. I did two days' worth of work in two hours, my brain is overloading. I'm waiting for the moment my head literally bursts into flames!“
„Well, keep pissing Loki off and the moment could come really soon.“
„That was mean, Brucie.“
„Yup. I know,“ Bruce nodded. „Now, will you let me work again, or will you keep talking about your proposal?“
„Talking about my proposal, of course,“ Tony shrugged. „Because... Bruce, I don't know how to do it. I just want to make it perfect. You know, like-“
„Jarvis!“ Bruce shouted. „Could you please tell Loki to come and pick up his boyfriend? And I'm going to need the chamomile tea back, I'm afraid...“
Loki sighed as he laid the sleeping billionaire on the workshop couch.
„This will be better for him,“ he murmured. „I had no idea it would be this bad. I should have expected it, he's a genius after all, it was obvious his brain would be affected more than the rest of his body.“
„But it can't... hurt him, can it?“ Bruce frowned.
„No. No, definitely not,“ Loki shook his head, gently stroking Tony's hair. „His brain is just trying to get used to its new abilities. Once it does, it will calm down, and Anthony will be his usual annoying self, only a lot smarter. But he will be able to control it.“
„Are you sure?“
„Do you have any... experience with this kind of thing?“
„In the books I have read, those few mortals who have been given an apple often became... hyperactive after the transformation. Their bodies have, to be more precise. They weren't able to control it, they often trained for hours and hours, working themselves almost into unconsciousness. But those were warriors, while Anthony is an inventor, he works with his brain mostly. Of course, his body has also been affected, but not in a way I expected, it was more about his libido than-“
„That's enough information for now, Loki, thank you,“ Bruce smirked. „Have you brought me my tea?“
„Your tea? I don't have your tea. Why would you think I had-“
„All right,“ Loki sighed and in a flash of green light, a box appeared on his palm. „But I need it more than you. If I am to keep him out of the workshop in the next few days, I am going to go mad without this. I cannot keep him sedated forever, that would be very bad for him. I have to wake him up in a few hours.“
„Well, you should have thought about this before giving him the apple.“
„Excuse me? My father gave it to him, Anthony ate it, I wasn't involved anywhere in the process.“
„Except for the fact that you became the love of Tony's life and he wanted to be the love of yours, for the rest of it?“
„Yeah, except for that,“ Loki smiled and kissed Tony's temple. „Come on, love. We're gonna put you to bed.“
Tony tugged at the magically reinforced handcuffs tying him to the headboard. Neither of them gave way.
„You have got to be kidding me,“ Tony growled, trying to at least wiggle out of his blindfold. Unsuccessfully, of course. Loki had made sure of that.
„Hush, my love,“ Loki whispered straight into Tony's ear, instantly sending a shiver down Tony's spine. The new skin was also too sensitive, Loki's breath on his neck, oh god...
„Is this your plan how to make the next few days more pleasant for me? No objections, of course.“
„Days? I don't think so, my dear Anthony. But a few hours...“
The breath was on the other side of Tony's neck now, and...
„Wait,“ the billionaire frowned. „Something's not right.“
The chuckle came from the left, definitely. But the gentle bite that followed came from the right. And then the kiss on the temple from the left, but an instant later the voice from the right...
„What exactly would that be, my love?“
„Well, either you are teleporting back and forth around me, which I don't think, because I can feel your magic when you teleport and I can't feel it now, which means that answer B is probably right, and answer B is that you've fucking called in your clone and in that case take the fucking blindfold off right now because I need to see that!“
„Impatient, are we?“ asked the voice on the left.
„But where would be the fun in that, my sweetest love?“ asked the one on the right.
„We are here to entertain your brain...“ whispered the one on the left and Tony sighed as one hand brushed his thigh.
„Keep it busy so you don't go mad,“ purred the one on the right and a hand was placed on Tony's stomach.
„This is how you wanna keep me from going mad? Because this is definitely not gonna work, Princess! I think I might only go mad much faster.“
„Oh, don't be so melodramatic, love,“ giggled the voice on the left. „I assure you it is going to be very much all right.“
Tony gasped for breath as a pair of lips suddenly closed around his right nipple.
„And if you're a good boy,“ the voice on the left continued, „I might consider taking the blindfold off.“
„Okay. Okay,“ Tony nodded as another hand, a third one, started caressing his body. „A good boy, I get it. I'm a good boy. I'm definitely a good boy. Am I a good boy?“
„Good boys, sweetheart...“ mumbled the voice on the left. „Good boys are quiet.“
„Oh,“ Tony frowned. „You know, that might actually be a bit of a problem...“
The next time Tony walked into the workshop (the morning after the very interesting night with two barely distinguishable Lokis), Bruce immediately ran to stand between his project and the billionaire.
„No. Don't even look at it, I don't want your advice, I don't want your opinion, I don't want anything from you. What are you even doing here, Loki was supposed to keep you entertained!“
„Oh, bud he did,“ Tony grinned. „Don't worry, I feel much better today. It seems all my brain needed was a nice, uhm... workout.“
„You call it a workout?“ Bruce smirked. „Because I think I can imagine how did Loki keep you entertained...“
„And you are absolutely right,“ Tony nodded. „But really, a bit of physical activity and I am perfectly normal. Well... not normal, but... me-normal, you know.“
„I do. It was about time, too. Still, don't you dare look at my project, because I don't need to hear your smart ass comments.“
„Don't worry. Right now, I've got my own project to work at. And I'm afraid being a genius won't help me in this case.“
„I warn you, Tony, if I, at any point of this conversation, hear the word perfect, I'm gonna throw you through that wall. Or maybe that wall. Any wall, really.“
„Oh. Yeah. Sorry about that, my brain was kind of going in circles.“
„I kind of noticed.“
„Okay, but now for real. I meant it when I said I wanted something p... uhm... flawless. But I don't really know what. I mean... He's a prince. You've seen their fucking... golden realm. He's had everything growing up, then not so much, okay, but hey, he's living with me, he's used to all the luxuries I have. So how can I surprise him? What can I give him? Do I fill my living room with red roses, do I buy a ring with the biggest diamond available... I don't know.“
„I don't think Loki needs those things, Tony,“ Bruce shook his head and leaned on the desk in front of which he was standing. „He's not a gold digger, he loves you, he wants you, not your money...“
„So what? Doesn't mean he shouldn't get them. He's my Princess, I want to treat him as one.“
„Oh, damn, you really are head over heels for him.“
„Uhm, yes?“ Tony smirked. „I thought it would be obvious from the fact that I chose to make my life, uhm, a couple years longer. Just a couple.“
„I still don't think Loki expects you to spend thousands of dollars only to propose to him. He will say yes even if you just buy a ring-“
„Buy a ring? No, I can't buy any ring I see, it will definitely have to be custom-made. Nothing common for Loki, definitely not. Remember, it has to be able to last thousands of years.“
„Okay, but apart from that, I think Loki will be happy even if you simply get on one knee when you two are alone, give him the ring, tell him you love him and ask him to marry you. I don't think he's the type who likes grand gestures.“
„Excuse me?“ Tony gaped. „Are we still talking about my Loki? The full-tilt diva? I know I would want grand gestures if I were him, and he's much worse than I am!“
„In that case, do you know what would be a good idea? You could ask Thor what is the traditional way of proposing on Asgard, and then you could-“
„Asgard. You mean the culture which made Loki insecure and ashamed of the most important parts of his personality? Like being a sorcerer, or occasionally being a female, or preferring to fight with daggers, or basically being clever, or, you know, the Jotun thing in the end... Yeah, no. And then of course the proposal probably requires something like slaying a dragon and dragons are not exactly common on Earth, you know? All things considered-“
„A bad idea, yeah,“ Bruce nodded. „You're probably right.“
„Get used to it, it will happen more often now,“ Tony grinned. „But I really don't know, Bruce. Maybe I should take him somewhere nice. He's not fond of hot places, but... What about Iceland? Would that be a bad idea? Or... Norway, you know. Something like that. Or should I take him to England? I think he's fond of England. He's also fond of my private jet. And the bed there, if you know what I mean.“
„I know exactly what you mean, Tony, don't worry. And I repeat, you don't need to take him anywhere.“
„You know what you are, Bruce? Tony frowned. „Absolutely useless.“
„Well, I'm terribly sorry for disappointing you,“ Bruce shrugged. „But I'm not a Loki-expert. Perhaps you should ask-“
„Oh. Oh!“ Tony gasped. „Barton, of course! Oh, thank you, Brucie. Maybe you're not that useless! Jarvis!“
With that, he ran for the elevator. The door slid open just as he reached it.
„I meant Thor, you know?!“ Bruce yelled after him.
Then he went back to his project.
Tony was slowly starting to think that his teammates hated him. To be completely fair, this suspicion wasn't completely groundless. They didn't exactly hate him, of course. They were mainly annoyed a little.
Especially after yet another thirty minutes Tony spent in his living room, talking about proposing to Loki.
Would it be impolite to take the batteries out of my hearing aids so I don't have to listen to him?
„For the millionth time,“ Clint whined. „And I've told you yesterday, and the day before that, I don't know how you should do it, Tony!“
„And I told you, i don't expect you to tell me,“ Tony said. „I just expect you to listen and nod and maybe say something from time to time.“
„Like please, go away?“ Clint suggested.
„No, more like... Yes, Tony, five hundred roses should be just enough. Or what a beautiful ring, or... I don't know, just think!“
„Five hundred roses sounds very stupid and I haven't even seen the ring yet!“
„Because it hasn't arrived yet, obviously,“ Tony shrugged.
„Then why are we talking about all... Natasha! My love, my queen, save me!“
Natasha stopped dead in her tracks and stared at Clint for several seconds.
„What have you done to him, Stark?“ she then asked.
„He's talking to me. Talking, Natasha! I never thought I'd say it, but please, can I be deaf again?“
„Oh, it's about Loki again,“ the assassin nodded. „Yes, Tony, I think a choir singing his favorite lovesong would be a little too much.“
„What's Loki's favorite lovesong?“ Clint frowned.
„That would be Iron Man,“ Tony grinned. „And how the hell did you know I was thinking about that, Natasha?!“
„I made Jarvis give me access to your computer history. Nice ring, by the way. And nice toys. Although I suppose those are not for the proposal itself. And I have to admit I'm not sure for which one of you-“
„Loki,“ Tony grinned. „Okay, that's no for the choir. Oh, hell, I'm so fucked. I don't know how to propose, I don't know when to do it... I've not exactly done this before!“
„Good for you. That increases your chances of him saying yes, I don't think Loki would like used goods,“ said Natasha.
„Baby, I've been used so many times...“
„But just... wait,“ Clint frowned. „Loki's already told you he'd say yes!“
„That doesn't mean I don't want to do it perfectly. Quite the opposite, that's exactly the reason to do it perfectly!“
„In that case, you shouldn't plan it,“ said Clint.
„What?“ Tony blinked. „Of course I-“
„No. Just listen to me, Stark,“ Clint sighed. „If you plan it, then yes, it will be perfect. On the outside. It will be like from some of those romantic movies Natasha's so fond of but will never admit it out loud.“
„Thanks,“ the assassin smirked. „I will make you regret this, don't worry.“
„But,“ Clint continued, „it will be... empty in the same way. It will be too perfect, too... artificial?“
„Then what am I supposed to do?“
„Well, first, you will of course have to kneel before him. Loki will never say yes if you don't kneel.“
„Not kneeling was never an option. Okay, so what next? Flowers, a speech... No? Nothing? And what about the timing? When am I supposed to ask, eh?“
„How should I know? I've never proposed to anyone, either!“
„Liar. You've proposed to me,“ Natasha grinned.
„That was during an undercover mission and it was your idea, honey.“
„But you were the one who proposed. In public. So go on, give advice to our poor Stark...“
Clint sighed and rolled his eyes.
„Okay. Poor Stark, I think I should... I don't know. Just wait for the perfect moment, I guess. And I don't mean an artificially perfect moment, I mean a completely natural one. I don't know, the moment you look at him and you just know this is it, the right time, the right place and you want to spend the rest of your life with him. Or something like that.“
„That sounds... Good,“ Tony frowned. „And you couldn't have told me when I asked you before?“
„You never asked,“ Clint shrugged. „You kept babbling about carriages and white horses and fireworks... You know, if you don't know what to do with your money, feel free to give some to me. I still don't have the dog you promised me back in Asgard.“
„Excuse me, I promised you a dog? I allowed you to have one. Did you expect me to pay... Oh, of course that you did. Fine, take the credit card, adopt a dog, buy everything you want for it and if it pees on the carpet, you'll be the one cleaning it up, are we clear?“
„Absolutely,“ Clint grinned. „Thanks, Tony!“
„Fine. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go wait for the perfect moment. Let's hope it doesn't come before the ring arrives...“