So the war of brothers was over. Thor returned to his kingdom to be crowned and Loki... well, Loki decided to stay on Earth. Nobody knew what was the reason behind his decision, but to be honest, nobody even tried to find it out. Loki was crazier than a loon, and trying to get inside his head was pointless. The only thing that counted was that the god had burried the hatchet and made a holy promise not to threaten Midgard again. That was why he was allowed to stay and do whatever he wanted, as long as he played it nice and cool. All the Avengers kept an eye on him but it seemed that the trickster had forgotten about his hostility towards Midgard and its citizens.
To everyone's suprize Loki was doing extremely well. Not only has he managed to find an exquisite apartment to live in but he also made a lot of money, practically in no time, though what was most surprising was that he didn't need to do anything at all to raise a fortune. People, who previously had feared him, started to fall in love with him. They found him incredibly attractive and fascinating, soon becoming an icon of fashion – the greatest designers were fighting with each other to create outfits for him and have Loki as a model, presenting the newest fashion on the catwalk. The god appeared on a few covers of popular magazines and on TV, and thousands of people watched him interviewed. There were even rumors about a few suicides among schoolgirls who suffered from an unrequited love for the deity. The Loki-mania has started for good.
Of course, there were still many people who smelled a rat about Loki’s sudden change of heart towards Midgard, but they were in the minority. Tony Stark, the only man brave enough to confront Loki face to face during the Chitauri invasion, was among them. The billionaire has never forgotten how the arrogant god had attempted to turn people of the Earth into slaves and his heart was still full of anger and suspicion. He was trying not to get too close to Thor's little brother, but at the same time he was doing his best to keep a watchful eye on the mischievous little bastard. Just in case the dark-haired deity plotted again the human race again. Just in case.
Although Tony did not share the hysterical enthusiasm of the masses towards the Asgardian, he had to admit to himself that he had a fair measure of respect for the deity. The bitter taste of failure hadn’t broken Loki down, but given him the strength to start everything anew. Even if he had failed to become the ruler of the Earth he had still managed to turn most of his haters into worshipers. Now, that was a talent!
Tony was full of admiration for people who knew how to turn defeat into victory;he found them fascinating. Sometimes he found them desirable too and that was the problem, as Loki was probably the most beautiful creature Tony has ever seen in his life. Beautiful, arrogant, moody, full of mischief, and extremely dangerous. The billionaire was not a kind of person to believe in love from the first sight but he couldn’t deny that the god’s beauty struck him the moment he first lay his eyes on him. The moment the mortal saw the god, his heart was conquered.
If Tony had met Loki under different circumstances, maybe he’d have been able to overlook the nasty personality of the god, to befriend the trickster or even to try to become something more than just a friend for him. If they had met before the god threw the unarmed man out of the window just because he didn't like his big mouth and cockiness. If only Loki realized, that the man’s annoying blabbering was not aimed to enrage him, but to cover a sudden feeling of having being spellbound and charmed.
But now both of them were prisoners of the past, defined by the roles they had played. A hero and
a villain, always fighting on opposite sides of barricades. Tony was no fool. He knew well that Loki would never find any Midgardian worthy to let them step into his life, as he considered the human race as a lesser species. There was no sense in dreaming about something that he could not reach, so Tony decided to lock the door of his heart against any warm feeling he might have developed for the Asgardian and throw away the key. It was better this way.
Tony managed to convince himself that the only feeling he had for the god was anger. It was not easy, but it also was the only possible way to be. After all Loki was nothing more than a bothersome bastard, right?
Despite Tony's attempts to avoid Loki, the billionaire was not able not to meet the deity from time to time. The leader of Stark Industries had some obligations that could not have been neglected – for example, the company's charity events and parties.
Surprisingly, Loki took part in a few of such meetings, trying to play as one of the most generous
guests, who were joining their forces to financially support those in need. Tony always felt very uncomfortable while talking to Loki or even staying in his presence, but as a polite host he had to grit his teeth and pretend that everything between them was perfectly fine. Everyone knows that such kind of behaviour is very wrong and unhealthy, but if you are a person who's always in the spotlight you need to behave impeccably. No matter what you really think or feel.
So there was a party being held - on Friday 13th, of course - that Tony had to attend. He really didn't feel like putting on his ‘social face’, and he hadhousands of more interesting things to do, but obligations are obligations, and even billionaires are not always free to do what they want. So he went, despite a feeling that he should stay at home. Acting against his own instinct has never been good for him, but this time Tony really didn't want to let his fans, friends and co-workers down.
Ignoring his instinct was not a good idea - Tony knew it as soon as he entered the party room. The first person he noticed was Loki, talking to one of the female guests. The girl was beautiful – long, brown hair, hazel eyes and legs that could take you to heaven and back. She was exactly what Tony would like to find in his bed that night. Unfortunately she seemed to be very interested in
her interlocutor. Her eyes were literally devouring Loki's body and her intentions were far too obvious. She wanted to seduce him and she wanted it badly. It was easy to see that the god was not as much interested in her as she was in him, but as soon as the god noticed Tony the expression of his face changed from "neutral" to "insulting" and his eyes started to glitter with scorn. As if the god tried to say: “Just watch me Stark! My one word is enough to make this girl crawl for me and
fulfill my every wish. Your mortal women are so easy!”
Watching the talking couple gave Tony a deep sting of jealousy. He was a ladies man and he hated competition in flirting - and he hated Loki for winning the hazel eyed beauty's interest so easily. The success of the enemy was like a slap on his face. He was too ambitious, he knew it well,but losing to the god of mischief was not an option to consider. So why not to try to steal the girl from the thief and cut Loki down to size? It could be fun! Real fun! Tony started to walk towards the couple and his smile was getting wider and wider with every step.
- - -
Loki really didn't want any trouble or a fight with the Iron Man. He had had his share not so long ago and the memory of a bitter defeat still brought pain to his heart. He had failed at becoming the ruler of Midgard and he has learned that mortals were tough to fight with (especially those in iron suits or those with a tendency of turning into green, mad monsters) and totally not worth to become his slaves. But they were quite funny as his admirers because, as it turned out, they had a tendency to worship him from their own will. He should have taken a different path of conquering the Earth from the very beginning. Had he only known it before!
As Tony approached him and the lady, and started conversation, Loki realized that the nonchalant mortal wanted another victory over him., this time the girl as the reward. Would he let this cocky man to win again? Not in a thousand years! No-one was equal to him when it came to a battle of desire! He smiled back at his oponent and started to spill his charm over the girl. When he
spotted a spark of annoyance in Tony’s eyes he realized that he was on the right path.
- - -
There was no check-mate and no winner of this game. The girl got bored with both of them. Impossible, but true. Twenty minutes after starting the conversation they were watching her go away, with a short, fat, bald man who stepped in, when they were in the middle of an elegant but fierce exchange of opinions. There was nothing more to quarrel over; their prize had run away.
Loki was secretly relieved that none of them has won. It seemed to be a fair ending somehow and he really hadn’t wanted the bother of making the Iron Man angry. So once the discussion was over he reached out his hand to Tony and said: ”It was a pleasure to talk to you, Mr Stark, but I'm afraid that I have to go now.” For a moment Tony was looking at Loki's hand with suspicion, but eventually he shook it, and the moment his hand touched the fingers of the trickster he got struck by a green lightning. Or to be precise – he was hit by some kind of electricity that has left Loki's palm. It didn't hurt but left a feeling of funny tingling in his fingers. Nothing unpleasant or to be afraid of. Probably a common effect of touching a god by a mortal. Tony has soon forgotten about the phenomenon and no one in the room has noticed anything, not even Loki, but it would have been better for the god of mischief to realize what had happened, as this short interaction between them had changed a lot of things around them.