“Look, are you sure you can’t get us out of here?”
Tony shared a glance with Thor like they somehow still needed to communicate the absolute futility of a brute-force approach. “I fear any disturbance of the earth will only bring it down upon us,” Thor said.
They all looked up at the cave-in blocking the mineshaft above their heads; it was kind of impressive, if you happened to be the sort of person who was impressed by cave-ins and not either terrified of suffocation or pissed at the interruption of your dinner plans.
Natasha nodded. “He’s right, Cap. Everything up there looks pretty delicately balanced. Shift anything the wrong way, and it’s all coming down.”
Steve ground his perfect white teeth and clenched his heroic jaw, but nodded sharply. “Other options?”
Tony shrugged, feeling the torn-up shoulder plate of the armor scraping unpleasantly against the rest. “Jarvis took some scans before I lost the connection. Looks like the only sure way out was right above us. Bit of luck – well, actually, a shit-ton of luck, and yes that is an official standardized measurement – and we might find enough of a hole that we’ll starve instead of choking to death.”
And as if the situation wasn’t bad enough, the wedged-up rocks above their heads chose that moment to sprinkle earth into their hair, in a way that was uneasily reminiscent of a handful of dirt tossed onto a coffin.
Tony glanced up again; things looked stable enough for now, but then they’d looked stable when he’d flown up ten minutes ago to take a look, only to get clubbed by a falling boulder.
Desperate times, desperate measures. “But I kind of have a plan.”
The team relaxed by a fraction. “Tell us?”
“Gimme a minute, I’m not sure if it’s going to work.”
Tony stepped away a bit, muted the helmet speakers and called up his phone contacts. He’d tried this before, only to be stumped by the complete lack of signal, but he wasn’t relying solely on human technology this time.
He flicked through the menu and selected Loki.
Tony wasn’t sure who’d be unhappier: the team when they found out he was sleeping with their resident mildly evil demigod, or Loki when he found out that Tony would be late for their dinner date on account of being buried alive. On the other hand, he’d rather be yelled at than dead.
Though depending on how angry Loki was, he might end up yelled at, and then dead.
Tony sighed, but had no more time to contemplate his imminently unpleasant future, as Loki worked his magic – literally – and answered the call.
“Why, Stark, this is a pleasant surprise. Are you not spending the day with your little hero friends after all?”
Tony grimaced. “No, I am. That’s sort of the problem.”
“Problem?” Loki’s voice sounded like it didn’t know whether to stay amused or get worried. “What kind of problem?”
“Well, uh, we got caught in a cave-in and there’s no way out. I’m wondering – uh, if you’re not doing anything, that is – and it’s not like I only want you for your magic skills, which are awesome and sexy and fabulous, but-”
“You want me to drop whatever it is that I’m doing and swan in to save you?”
“Well, then.” Loki had definitely made his mind up about how he felt; there was a very evil grin hiding inside those words. He was taking the ‘God of Mischief who just happens to be sleeping with a mortal’ angle and not the ‘may have accidentally gotten more invested in this mortal than I was planning, must save him right the fuck now’ angle. “Ask me nicely, and I’ll consider it.”
Tony glanced up at the cave-in; it appeared to still be holding steady. The team were a bit nervous, but waiting for him to carry out his plan, so he had time there, too. And he wouldn’t have been Tony Stark if he didn’t flirt in the face of death. “Well, you know our dinner plans?”
“Yes…” Loki almost purred.
“I wonder if you’d prefer skipping straight to dessert? I’m thinking something involving maple syrup, whipped cream, chocolate-coated strawberries…”
“Oh, my favorite.”
Tony grinned, trying not to get hard in his pants at the thought of how Loki looked when he took those strawberries between his teeth, slicing smoothly through the flesh, brushing the melted chocolate over his lips for Tony to kiss off, slow and reverent…
A slightly rough exhale from Loki suggested he was struggling for decency just as much as Tony.
“I must admit, you’re very persuasive.”
“You wait until I’m begging you for your cock.”
A soft laugh. “I look forward to it. Alright. I’ll come for you.”
“Fantastic,” Tony said, and prepared to end the call and tell everyone their ride was on the way-
“But,” Loki said, and Tony’s jubilation slunk off to go hide in a corner. Loki was the God of Mischief, of course it wasn’t going to be that easy...
“Only you. If the others want to leave, they’ll have to pay the same price.”
Oh, shit. “You mean-”
“They must ask me. And ask me nicely.”
When the starvation kicked in down here, Tony was definitely going to be the first one killed and eaten.
“You’ll still come get me if they say no, right?”
Loki chuckled, the somewhat warm and pleasant one. “Oh, I have plans for you, Stark.”
“Great. Gimme a couple of minutes to… relay your demands, and we’ll see what happens.”
Tony heard the seduction in Loki’s grin. “I cannot wait.”
The line went dead, and Tony exhaled a slow breath before popping his helmet off to address the others.
“Okay, I have good news, bad news, and worse news.”
Natasha rolled her eyes at his grandstanding. “And?”
“The good news is, somebody’s coming to get us out. The bad news is, it’s Loki.”
Tony got disapproval, shock, confusion – no surprises there. Thor’s face was caught between joy and suspicion. “You are in contact with my brother?”
Tony wished he’d left his helmet on to hide his blush. “Sometimes. Sometimes I am in contact with him, yeah. Sometimes it’s more like he’s in contact with me.”
Natasha narrowed her sneaky all-seeing spy eyes and Tony wondered if he’d said too much. Then again, there were even odds that when Loki showed up, he’d greet Tony with a flamboyant personal display of affection just to see the expressions on the Avengers’ faces, so there wasn’t much point in being discreet anymore.
Besides, they’d been doing discreet for the past couple of months and Tony didn’t do discreet very well. He was sure the strain was giving him gray hairs.
Clint drummed his fingers against his bow. “Okay, so Tony’s ‘in contact’-”
He’d definitely said too much.
“-with Loki, and he’s the one coming to get us out. What the hell is worse news than that?”
“He wants you to ask him nicely.”
The silence was so loud that if the roof had collapsed it would still have been quieter.
Naturally, Loki chose that moment to magic himself into existence.
Clint and Natasha both swung their weapons up, and Tony groaned and waved his hands. “Can you please not shoot the guy who’s here to save your asses? Really don’t think that’s his definition of asking nicely.”
Loki grinned, and raised an eyebrow at Tony before eyeing the two assassins. “I’m being quite restrained in my request as it is. I really don’t demand all that much. Be grateful I’m not insisting that you kneel and swear fealty.”
“Brother,” Thor growled, stepping forward, “is this really the time for your tricks?”
Loki’s eyes flashed dangerous amusement, and Thor’s hair turned green and started floating up toward the ceiling in blatant defiance of both gravity and good taste.
“That is a trick, Thor. Rescuing you is an act of goodwill. I suggest you start being nice to me, or next time it won’t be just your hair.” He turned slowly in a circle, meeting each of the Avengers’ eyes one by one, giving Tony a very brief wink. “Perhaps you need to be reminded that I am the only one who can leave at this point, and it is entirely up to me which of you I bring along. So. Who doesn’t want to die today?”
Tony’s hand shot straight up.
Loki gave him a slight wave of acknowledgement. “Yes, I heard you before. I have not changed my mind in the bare minute since we spoke.”
Tony grinned smugly and put his hand back down.
Bruce cleared his throat softly. “Loki, I’d appreciate it if you helped out.”
Loki smiled, and inclined his head gracefully in a regal gesture of acceptance.
Bruce eyed the others sideways, particularly Clint and Natasha, who were still glaring and fondling their weapons. “It’s not that big a deal,” he muttered, “just get it over with and we can all go home.”
Steve squared his shoulders and actually took a step forward. “Could you please get us out of here?”
“‘Us’? No, no, Captain, you can’t ask on behalf of your followers. But that will do for you.” Loki smiled brightly and turned to face Thor, Clint and Natasha. “Next?”
Clint was running his fingers over the fletching of an arrow and Natasha’s thumb was balanced on the safety of her gun. Thor’s hand was resting on Mjolnir, hanging from his belt, the grim stance somewhat ruined by his exceedingly stupid-looking hair. He opened his mouth to speak. “Brother, take us from-”
“Ah-ah,” Loki chided, waving a finger. “That rather sounded like an order to me. Try again!”
Tony sighed relief; Loki was feeling generous today. That, or Tony would have to pay him back for Thor's second chance later. That might take extra whipped cream. Maybe the hot fudge sauce.
Thor went almost purple with the attempt to swallow a thousand years of pride associated with being a god, the heir to the throne of the most powerful realm in the galaxy, and having a body that made male models give up their careers and go into accounting. “You know Mother would scold you if you left me to die.”
“Ooh, threats!” Loki said, sounding pleased. “You’re so amusing when you try to be cunning.”
“Thank you,” Thor said, relaxing, and Loki arched an eyebrow.
“Oh, do you think I’ve acquiesced to that pathetic attempt at asking for my help? I said you were amusing, not that you were successful.”
Thor wore an expression best described as constipated. “Brother, please…”
Loki waited, but no more was forthcoming, and eventually he sighed. “I suppose that’s the best I can expect from you. Very well.”
He turned a little to face Clint and Natasha. “Now, do you intend to be polite to me or would you truly rather die?”
Natasha narrowed her eyes ever so slightly in response to the open challenge.
Then her entire demeanor changed – her hands flew up to clutch each other nervously, her eyes widened in fear and panic and her voice fluted like a scared little girl’s. “Please, please, don’t leave me here, I don’t want to die, please-”
And Loki knew it was all fake, he knew it, Tony could see him staring, hunting down flaws in Natasha’s acting, but her eyelashes were actually wet and the desperate hope in her face looked completely genuine…
Loki grinned, and tipped his head in a salute. “Very good, Agent Romanoff.”
Scared-little-girl melted away in an instant and Natasha straightened up again, the cool professional.
That left just one Avenger, and all heads turned to Clint, still wearing a mutinous expression and stroking the fletching of his nocked arrow.
“Well, Agent Barton?”
Clint looked like he was seriously considering staying behind and finding his own way out. Tony wanted to grab him and shake some sense into him. It really wasn’t that hard, Loki wasn’t asking Clint to pour maple syrup all over himself and lie back to moan and arch as Loki’s talented tongue worked its way over every inch of skin…
“Come on, Clint,” Steve said, Big Important Leader voice on. “We all did it, just take your medicine and say please to the man.”
“God,” Loki corrected, without missing a beat.
Clint folded his arms, archer-ly biceps bulging. “Why should I?” he asked mulishly. “Far as I’m concerned, he owes me one.”
The Avengers winced, but Loki went thoughtful and took a step forward. “Would you call things even between us, then, if I help you now? All debts paid?”
Clint rolled his lip between his teeth before nodding grudgingly. “Okay.”
Loki grinned. “Deal.”
He raised both hands and snapped his fingers dramatically, and the mine flared with white light.
When it cleared, they were all standing in the communal living room of Stark Tower, home and safe – or, as safe as they could be with an as-yet-unsatisfied Loki hanging around.
Loki himself wasn’t there, but Tony would have bet his company that he wasn’t far away. Three floors up, in fact, sprawled naked over Tony’s bed and already running through his limited store of patience.
Tony flipped the manual catch to unfurl the armor and stepped out, heading for the kitchen and its dessert supplies. The other Avengers were mostly shaking dirt out of their hair (Thor and Natasha, Thor back to his normal blond) and looking like they wanted to disembowel somebody (Clint).
Steve caught at Tony’s arm just as he was about to leave the room. “Where’re you going?”
Tony sighed and gave Steve a look. “You remember how Loki said I’d already done my share of the begging? When I called him?”
“Well, I made various sexual and culinary promises in exchange for getting him to show at all, and it’s time to pay up.”
“What, right now?”
Tony shrugged. “Either I can go to him, or you can make him come down here looking for me. Your choice.”
Steve dropped Tony’s arm like a hot potato. “What are you waiting for?”