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Avengers: A Deal with the Devil

Chapter Text

 

 

The penthouse was locked down tight, JARVIS with strict instructions not to let anyone in without first asking Tony. The genius had just gotten out of the shower and dressed in comfortable jeans and a t-shirt, his hair sticking up all over the place, still wet. He wandered into the living room and over to the bar, taking two tumblers from the counter and then grabbing a bottle of whiskey. He poured until the two glasses were full and then took a seat on one of the stools, sipping his drink and letting the flavour roll over his tongue.

He wasn't too sure that Loki would appear. Oh, the god had understood Tony's request; had smirked and narrowed his eyes at Tony before disappearing in a puff of green magic. But whether he actually turned up was another matter entirely.

Tony still wasn't sure if this was a good idea or not, but, well... all of his bad ideas had turned out okay in the past. Apart from his birthday party, that had been a disaster. He still wasn't completely okay with Rhodey stealing one of his Iron Man suits, but he could always steal it back if he wanted. He just... couldn't be bothered, at least not yet.

Tony had just taken another sip of whiskey when he felt the air change around him. There was never any real warning of Loki appearing, not if the god wanted to remain unseen. But the hairs on the back of Tony's neck stood on end, and a shiver passed down his spine. The animal part of his brain was registering danger and telling him to fight or hide.

Instead of doing either of those things, Tony raised the tumbler to his lips once more and took another drink. 'Thirsty?' he asked without turning.

There was a soft chuckle from behind him and Tony finally turned. Loki was standing in the middle of the room, hands clasped behind him, his head cocked slightly. His hair was slicked back as usual, although it was a bit curlier than Tony usually saw it. He was wearing tight leather pants, boots that ended beneath his knees, and a soft green... tunic, was the only word Tony could think of.

The god looked Tony over a few times before saying, 'It's about time you gave me that drink you promised.'

'Yeah, well,' Tony shrugged and slid the other tumbler across the bar as Loki approached, 'you were a bit tied up last time.'

'Indeed,' Loki hummed. He passed Tony and rounded the bar, stopping on the other side of it before the mortal. His long, thin fingers reached out and slid the glass over to himself. Loki wrapped his hand around the tumbler and picked it up, bringing the glass to his nose. He took a sniff, eyes still on Tony, before sipping.

'Well?' Tony said.

'Not bad,' Loki conceded. 'I will admit that you mortals have far better taste in alcohols than Asgard.'

'It's all mead up there, huh?' Tony said, remembering Thor's many, many stories that involved barrels of ale.

'Mm,' Loki hummed, taking another sip. 'Now,' he said when he'd set the tumbler back down. He leaned both forearms on the wooden counter, bright green eyes fixed on Tony's chocolate brown. 'Why am I here?'

''Cause I asked you,' Tony said. Loki's lips twitched, and Tony chuckled in response. 'Okay, so I sneakily requested that you come here to meet me alone. Same thing.'

'Mm,' Loki hummed again, clearly waiting for a proper response.

'I have a... proposition for you,' Tony said, eyes on Loki's.

Loki, of course, understood immediately. He stood straighter, though was still slightly hunched, and his eyes dropped to his glass as he ran a single finger around the rim. 'You want to make a deal with me?' he questioned, but didn't wait for a response. 'Tisk, tisk, Man of Iron. Heroes don't make deals with villains.'

'I'm not a hero,' Tony retorted, once more drawing Loki's attention.

'Oh?' the taller man questioned.

'I built the Iron Man suit to protect myself and destroy the people who hurt me,' Tony shrugged one shoulder. 'I fell into the hero business.'

'Poor Stark,' Loki smirked, 'are you tired of being a hero?'

'Again; not a hero,' Tony said.

'Your actions speak louder than your words,' Loki said. 'Isn't that a saying you mortals are fond of?' he added, bringing his drink up once more.

Tony just nodded and sipped his own, now half-empty, glass. He grabbed the bottle, which he'd left near his elbow, and splashed a liberal amount back into the tumbler. He held it up to Loki and the god nodded, so Tony topped up his glass as well.

'Would you be interested in a business transaction?' Tony questioned as he set the bottle aside.

'It depends on what that business transaction entails,' Loki replied. 'I don't make a habit of going into business with mortals, you all die far too easily.' He smirked over his glass, and Tony just raised an eyebrow. 'What if you die before your end of the bargain is upheld?' Loki questioned. 'It seems to me that I'd be putting a lot of investment into something that could crumble in my fingers.'

'So you won't go into business with me 'cause I might die?' Tony laughed. 'Well sorry to burst your bubble, Rudolph, but I have it on good authority that you Asgardians aren't exactly immortal.'

'No, they're not,' Loki agreed, 'but I'm not of Asgard. Frost Giants are much, much harder to kill, as I'm sure Thor has told you.' Tony didn't say anything, not wanting to start a fight about Thor. And talking about the blonde god was a sure way to get Loki riled up. 'None of your mortal weapons could ever harm me enough to bring about my downfall,' Loki continued, sliding his tumbler across the bar with his finger and thumb. 'And I think I proved that Asgard, who very much have the means to destroy me, can't keep me long enough to do so.'

Tony smiled at that. He remembered Thor reappearing a few months after the New York battle claiming that Loki had somehow managed to escape. Two weeks later and Loki was back, blowing up parts of Manhattan and laughing like a lunatic.

'Well,' Tony finally spoke, making Loki look at him. 'I can't exactly make myself immortal,' Tony said. 'If anything my life expectancy is way below the average.' Loki quirked an eyebrow, clearly confused. 'My heart's bad,' Tony said, tapping at the arc reactor beneath his chest. 'I was poisoned, suffered a fair few heart attacks, and have shrapnel lodged in my chest. All of that along with the strain of having an arc reactor embedded in my chest has cut my life expectancy. I'll be lucky to see fifty.'

Loki frowned at that, his eyes narrowed, suddenly darker than before. 'The average life of you mortal men is eighty years,' he spoke.

'Yeah, but mine's fifty,' Tony repeated. 'And that's if I don't have another heart attack or a stroke or anything else due to this thing,' he said, tapping the reactor again before taking a drink of his whiskey. 'That's not to mention all the injuries I sustain when in the suit, and all my drinking and drug taking in my younger years. I'll probably be dead in five or six years.'

Tony had come to terms with it long ago. He'd known, back when he started drinking heavily (and in his twenties when he'd tried every drug on the market) that he wouldn't live a long, full life. The arc reactor, and then the palladium poisoning, had just cut his own life expectancy in half.

'Five years,' Loki echoed, still frowning. He suddenly stood tall, looming over Tony, and Tony had to tilt his head back to look the god in the eye. 'Now that just won't do.'

'It won't?' Tony echoed, and Loki shook his head.

'No, not at all,' the Jötunn said. 'I don't go into business with mortals, especially mortals that will be dead in five years.'

'Okay then,' Tony sighed. Well, he hadn't exactly had high hopes for this meeting, but he'd had to try. 'I take it you can show yourself out?' he said and knocked back the rest of his drink before grabbing the bottle. He went to pour another drink for himself, but Loki's fingers were suddenly wrapped around his wrist, skin cool against Tony's own. 'Can I help you?' Tony questioned, glancing up at the god.

'No, but I can help you,' Loki said, his lips twitching in a smile.

'I thought you couldn't,' Tony said and gestured vaguely at himself with his free hand. 'Mortal, remember?'

'Ah,' Loki said and stroked Tony's wrist, feeling the human's pulse jump beneath his thumb, 'but what if you weren't?'

Tony frowned and looked down at their joined hands, at Loki's thumb still smoothing over his wrist. 'You have a way to make me... immortal?'

'As immortal as Thor and myself,' Loki said. 'You would still be able to die, it would just be much, much harder to do so. You'd also heal much faster, be stronger and swifter, and your heart would no longer be a problem, nor would the shrapnel embedded in your chest. Of course,' Loki suddenly drew back, dropping Tony's hand, and Tony ignored the shiver of want that passed through his body, 'I would recommend keeping the reactor in your chest,' Loki continued. 'It makes you immune to most forms of controlling magic.'

'Really?' Tony grinned. He'd known that, of course; he was immune to Loki's sceptre when even Thor would have fallen under its spell. But he hadn't known that he was immune to other forms of mind-control.

'Indeed,' Loki said. 'I find it very, very hard to look into your mind.'

Tony scowled and clutched at his head, as though he could physically stop Loki from digging into his brain. It made the god laugh; a soft, warm, chuckle that made Tony shiver again. Damn sexy magicians.

'Your mind is hazy, disorganised, and impossible to get a grip on,' Loki said. 'Not only is that just how it naturally is, but the arc reactor in your chest emits a type of energy that my magic simply cannot fight.'

'Well that's an awesome side-effect,' Tony decided, finally grabbing the bottle of whiskey. He topped up his glass and toasted Loki. 'To me building a magic-proof reactor!' He took a large swig, Loki watching in faint amusement. 'So,' Tony said after clearing his throat and lowering his glass, 'immortal, huh?' Loki just nodded. 'You'd make me immortal just for a business deal?'

'It depends on the business deal in question, and what I'm being offered in return,' Loki said, leaning on the bar once more. He sipped his drink before adding, 'I would have to be gifted with something of equal value to one of Iðunn's apples.'

'How about my allegiance?' Tony shot back.

Loki's eyebrows climbed in surprise. 'You would bind yourself to me?'

'Only if you bind yourself to me in the same sense,' Tony replied. 'I'm assuming that magic contracts are a bit more binding than mortal ones.'

'Indeed,' Loki said. 'Whatever you promise cannot be denied for fear of pain and even death.'

'So if we promised not to kill each other, and then did so, what, I'd die?' Tony questioned.

'Yes,' Loki said. He smirked suddenly, one corner of his mouth rising. 'Still interested in a deal, Stark?'

'Only if you call me Tony,' Tony smiled back.

Loki chuckled. 'Anthony, then,' he conceded and took another drink of his whiskey. And, okay, Tony's full name had never sounded that sexy before. 'What exactly is it that you want?' he asked.

Tony finished off his own glass before pouring another, and then re-topping Loki's. He only sipped at this one, not wanting to get drunk in Loki's presence. He didn't doubt that they'd both haggle over the exact terms of their... binding.

'I want SHIELD near-destroyed, the Avengers too,' Tony said. Loki's eyebrows once again jumped in surprise. Whatever he'd been expecting, it clearly wasn't that.

'You wish to kill them all?' Loki questioned.

'Most of them,' Tony said, 'because really, where's the fun in being evil without some heroes to play with?' He smiled at Loki, then, and leaned forward a bit. 'You could kill us all easily, Lokes,' Tony said, making Loki smile slightly. 'You could break my neck right now, or stab me in the throat. Thor and the Hulk would be a little harder to take down, but come on; you can turn invisible, you'd be able to behead them easily.'

Tony let his eyes roam over Loki's face, resting on his lips for a bit. Loki licked them and Tony scowled, meeting Loki's eyes once more. The Trickster smirked at him.

'But you haven't,' Tony finally continued, 'you just play with us every other month. Which makes me think that you're off doing other things in other realms, and only fight us when you're bored.'

Loki chuckled and sipped his drink, the scent of whiskey reaching Tony's nose after Loki had lowered the glass. 'Well done, Anthony.'

Tony inclined his head in thanks. 'So,' he said, 'that's why I think it'd be best to mostly destroy SHIELD. Leave a few of them alive, like Fury, Coulson, even Agent Hill. After finding out that I'm the one who brought them down they would, of course, send the Avengers after me. And that'll be fun for a while. We can kill some of them, if you want, I really don't care. But I definitely want to completely destroy the World Security Council.'

'And just who are they?' Loki asked.

'They're in charge of SHIELD and a number of other secret government organisations,' Tony shrugged. 'They deal with alien invasions and super villains. They're the mastermind, while SHIELD's the footsoldier.'

'I see,' Loki hummed. He looked down, eyes on his glass as he swirled the amber liquid around. 'I'm curious as to why you want to destroy SHIELD all of a sudden,' Loki said, eyes shifting up to Tony. 'Why now?'

Tony smiled, but it was a dark, dangerous thing that had Loki more intrigued than any of the words they'd exchanged. He'd sensed the chaos in Anthony Stark when they'd first met, but he'd been too broken, too damaged, to properly explore it. Now Loki's mind was his own, his actions completely his once more. He had all the time in the world to pick Tony Stark apart.

Well, after he'd fed the mortal one of Iðunn's apples. It wouldn't do for Tony to die.

While Loki had been thinking, Tony had grabbed a file from the end of the bar. He slapped it onto the counter before the god and tapped the navy-coloured cover. 'This is SHIELD's file on me,' Tony said and slid it closer to Loki. 'Be my guest and have a look.'

Loki smiled and pushed his glass aside to grab the file. He flipped it open and found that the first page was just general information; Stark's date of birth, his achievements over the course of his life, as well as his address and known associates. Loki flicked through a few more pages, skimming over reports of Iron Man missions and sightings and Stark's near-death experiences. He paused briefly to read over the time when Tony had been poisoned by his own arc reactor, but was soon moving on again.

He finally stopped at a page that detailed a healer's (doctors, midgardians called them) impressions of Stark after looking the man over and reading other files on him. '“Anthony Stark is mentally unstable”,' Loki read, eyes alight with mirth as they found Tony's.

'Like that wasn't obvious,' Tony snickered, sipping his drink.

'“His inability to work with others makes him a danger to this organisation and his team mates”,' Loki read another paragraph. '“He suffers from a multitude of mental disorders, narcissism, depression, and bipolar II disorder being suspected but not confirmed”...' Loki trailed off, eyes skimming the report rapidly, finger tracing a few sentences. He finally reached the end, tracing the sentence just above this Doctor Arthur's signature. '“It is my professional opinion that any and all contracts with Tony Stark be terminated immediately. While Iron Man is an asset to the organisation, Stark is a danger and will bring about the deaths of himself, his team mates, and innocent agents at some point in the near future”.'

When Loki finished he look up at Stark, who was smirking despite the words Loki had read out-loud. 'Keep going,' Tony said, nodding at the file. 'Read the hand-written notes on the next page.'

Loki did as asked, flicking the stapled pages over so that he could read the last. These notes had been handwritten and then photocopied and stapled to the file Loki had. Loki's bright eyes took in the words as he said them aloud; ' “Iron Man is needed, Stark isn't. It is recommended that SHIELD mount an operation to obtain the technology from Stark. Once SHIELD is able to manufacture its own suits, Stark will no longer be needed. SHIELD's a secret organisation and there's nothing Stark can legally do if we steal his technology”...' Loki's eyebrows climbed as he read the signature at the end. 'Signed by Agent Phil Coulson.'

'And addressed to the World Security Council via Director Fury,' Tony said. He set his drink aside, having had far too much already, and tapped at the file once again. 'Now do you see why I want to destroy SHIELD?'

'They betrayed you,' Loki said.

'So did the Avengers,' Tony said. 'I found this file while I was snooping in SHIELD's computers. I did some more research, and it turns out that Agents Romanov and Barton were sent here not as a part of the Avengers, but as part of the operation to steal my technology. Captain America's part of the division trying to get me to outright quit.'

'What about Thor and the green one?' Loki questioned.

'Thor's just an Avenger and an ambassador for Asgard,' Tony said, 'he has no idea that SHIELD's trying to steal from me. Neither does Bruce- the Hulk. He's here so that SHIELD can keep an eye on him and use him.'

'Just like you,' Loki commented.

'Just like me,' Tony echoed in agreement.

They fell into silence as Loki looked over Stark's file once more, Tony busying himself with watching the god read. Finally Loki flipped the file shut and pushed it aside. 'I understand, now,' he said. 'You want revenge.'

'I want to destroy those who think that they can steal from me,' Tony growled.

A smile tugged at Loki's lips. Well, well, well... he really, really hadn't expected this when he'd come to Stark Tower. He'd been expecting a trap, maybe, or Anthony demanding to know how magic worked; it was no secret that Loki's talents enraged the mortal man. Loki really hadn't expected Stark to turn on his friends.

Then again... they weren't really friends, were they? Not if they were trying to steal from Stark. Not if they didn't trust him.

'What do I get out of this?' Loki asked suddenly, drawing Tony's attention. 'I help you destroy the World Security Council, as well as most of SHIELD and the Avengers. But what do I get?'

'A chance to kill many, many mortals who would kill and torture you if they had the chance,' Tony said. 'You'll also have access to all the money, technology and equipment that I and Stark Industries can supply. Stealing is all well and good, but having a laboratory where you can work safely would be better, wouldn't it?' Tony grinned. Loki chuckled. 'You'll also have me on your side. I'm smart, I can work out almost any problem I set my mind to. We can bring magic and Midgardian technology together so that our enemies can never, ever defeat us. We can also figure out a way to get Thor stuck in Asgard permanently...' Tony trailed off and grabbed his tumbler, swirling the liquid around. Loki just watched him. 'Think of what we could accomplish, Loki,' he said. 'You, a magician and Prince of Asgard. And me, a Prince of Midgard in my own way.'

Loki nodded. Yes, Tony was definitely a prince of his own realm. He had money and power, and the masses practically ate out of his hands. Almost every business and home in the world had Stark technology, and he was able to talk or buy his way out of any and all trouble he got himself into.

Loki stood suddenly and Tony watched as the god rounded the bar and approached him. Loki grabbed Tony's legs and pressed them together, and next thing the mortal knew he had a lap-full of Norse god.

'So,' Loki hummed as he draped his arms over Tony's shoulders, and Tony dropped his tumbler of whiskey on the bar, 'I make you immortal and we bind ourselves to each other, ensuring that we cannot betray the other. We help to bring down SHIELD and this World Security Council while playing with the Avengers. We work together to bring magic and technology together, and we keep each other safe from those who would do us harm. That means you keep me away from the public eye and all government organisations, and I keep you safe from any aliens who want to kill the Man of Iron who destroyed an entire Chitauri fleet.'

Tony blinked... okay, he'd had no idea that any aliens wanted to kill him for that, but whatever. With Loki on his side, he was pretty sure he'd be able to keep himself alive.

'Sounds about right,' Tony said and let his hands trail up Loki's back before going back down again. He squeezed Loki's hips before grabbing his ass, and Loki rolled himself forward, pressing against the bulge quickly hardening in Tony's jeans. 'I must admit I wasn't expecting this,' Tony said, referring to their current position.

Loki chuckled and leaned forward so that his breath blew across Tony's ear. 'You hoped, though,' he whispered.

Tony could only nod. Yeah, he'd definitely hoped, and dreamed. Fuck, had he dreamed. All the flirting Loki had done with him hadn't helped, either.

'So about that deal,' Tony muttered when Loki started pressed kisses to his ear, his jaw, across his beard.

'I'm sure that it will take quite a while to work out all the specifics,' Loki hummed, 'and I'm in no hurry to do so.'

'Yeah, me either,' Tony breathed when Loki's lips ghosted his own. He looked up at the god, who's eyes had turned dark. 'Paperwork can wait,' Tony agreed.

Loki smirked. 'Indeed,' he said. And then he crushed his lips against Tony's, the mortal groaning and arching up. Yeah, the paperwork could definitely wait.

Chapter Text

Tony smirked when he opened his eyes to find Loki- the God of Mischief and Lies- snuggled up to his side, bite marks still vaguely visible on his neck. Tony had bit hard, because Loki had kept shouting, “Break the skin, I don't care, just fuck me harder!” And, well... Tony had. So the marks were only just fading, and would probably be gone in half-an-hour.

Stretching languidly, and enjoying the way all his muscles ached in just the right places, Tony sat up. JARVIS immediately brightened the windows a bit and started relaying the usual facts; the weather, the whereabouts of the Avengers, Pepper's latest thoughts on how irresponsible/reckless/etc Tony was, as well as SHIELD's latest attempts to hack into Tony's computers.

Tony grinned when JARVIS informed him that SHIELD had successfully infiltrated the server that Tony had set up for them; it contained a few facts about some of his old weapons (which were all publicly available), a few bits of code on JARVIS and other security systems, and, of course, a few of Tony's older medical check-ups.

If Tony wanted to destroy SHIELD, he didn't want them to find out until it was too late; until he and Loki were completely ready to make them crumble. That meant feeding Fury and his merry band little titbits and false information; a few blueprints of his Iron Man gauntlets and boots, some information on the arc reactor technology and how it functioned the suit, and other odds and ends. Fury would be happy, thinking that he was slowly cracking Tony's systems, and Tony would laugh as he watched SHIELD play about like a child.

Tony stretched again before sliding out of bed, and Loki muttered behind him but didn't wake, just tugged the blankets closer, lips moving with soundless words.

Tony stared at him for a bit- because, seriously, the GOD OF MISCHIEF AND LIES (and Fire, he was sure he'd read that somewhere) was in his bed after a night of seriously energetic sex. Tony's life was awesome. He, Tony, was awesome. This was just another example.

Tony shorted and shook his head, getting rid of those thoughts as he went into the bathroom. It was all well and good to have an ego, but he couldn't let it get too out of control.

Humming to himself as he started the shower, Tony immediately washed his hair and then himself. The hot water did wonders for his still aching body, and Tony was feeling very, very relaxed by the time he'd washed all the soap off. He immediately tensed, though, when a tall, cool body pressed against him from behind.

'Surely you do not fear me,' Loki murmured right into his ear, making Tony shiver, 'especially after last night.'

'I'd be an idiot not to fear you at least a little,' Tony said.

Loki chuckled, and damn if that didn't make Tony hard in .3 seconds. 'You are far more intelligent than others I've come across, Stark.'

'I've always said that,' Tony shrugged. He turned slightly, just so that he could see Loki from the corner of his eye. 'I tensed for all the right reasons,' he told the god.

'Oh?' Loki hummed, one eyebrow going up. His hair was a deep dark black under the spray of the water, slicked to his skull and completely straight. Tony wanted to run his fingers through it. He wanted to grip it as Loki fucked him... okay, so, he definitely wanted more sex with Loki, no complaints in that department. 'You seem to have a problem,' Loki commented, and when Tony blinked back to himself he saw that Loki was staring down at his crotch; more importantly, at the erection now straining against Tony's stomach.

'Yeah...' Tony hummed, 'gonna help me with that?'

Loki smirked and spun Tony around before pressing him against the tiled wall, Tony hissing at the sudden cold against his back. And then Loki slid to his knees, and okay, fucking hot.

'Feel privileged, Stark,' Loki said as he ran his hands up Tony's thighs, 'I do not kneel for just anybody.'

'Oh, I'll return the favour quick enough and you know it,' Tony said. He couldn't hold back any longer; he reached out with one hand, pushing his fingers through Loki's wet hair. Loki hummed and tilted his head back until the water ran down his thin, pale face. 'Get on with it,' Tony then said, tugging at Loki's head. 'Those tiles are fucking uncomfortable.'

Loki tipped his head forward while one hand wrapped around the base of Tony's cock. Lips parted, Loki licked them slightly before giving Tony a full-toothed grin. Yeah, Tony shouldn't have found that as hot as he did, but all common sense took a back-seat when Loki wrapped those lips around his length.



{oOo}



Tony's knees hurt, but he otherwise felt awesome, so he was in a pretty good mood as he led Loki into the penthouse's kitchen. The Avengers were still out of the Tower, and Pepper was handling all meetings for the next week (Tony had turned up at his last one in his Iron Man suit, destroying three walls, two tables, and the floor, so... yeah, she was handling them for a while) meaning that Loki was free to wander around the Tower, and he and Tony were free to discuss their plans.

'So, taking down SHIELD,' Tony hummed as he poured himself a mug of coffee. He also poured one for Loki; he wasn't sure if the Asgardian had ever had coffee before, but he was in a good mood, and he always made coffee and/or breakfast for his one-night stands, so... well, Loki wasn't really a one-night stand; Tony saw a lot of sex in their future. Anyway, he made coffee for Loki, whatever.

Loki sniffed at the mug and took a sip, and Tony got to laugh at the scrunched face Loki made at the liquid's taste.

'This is vile,' he muttered.

'Some people add sugar or cream, sometimes both,' Tony told him. 'It makes it sweeter.'

'Hmm,' Loki murmured and took a seat at the kitchen counter. Tony sat opposite him, and the two stared at each other.

'So, SHIELD,' Tony said. 'How are we gonna do that? I have a few ideas, but...'

'I have something that could help us in regards to spying on SHIELD,' Loki said and suddenly he was engulfed in green light, magic crackling over his skin and clothing like an electric charge. The first thing to change was his hair; it grew thicker and longer, falling in waves past his shoulders. His entire face filled in, becoming softer and rounder, as did the rest of his body. His hips and chest suddenly formed curves, his clothing stretching around it, and he shrank until he was barely an inch taller than Tony. The last thing to change were his eyes; the brilliant emerald green flashed brightly before dulling, becoming a pale blue-grey.

When the light finally dimmed Tony blinked rapidly. Because instead of Loki, sitting before him was a very, very hot woman with curves in all the right places.

'Uh...' Tony gaped.

'Meet Lady Loki,' the woman- Loki- said with a smirk. It was the same smile; the same twitch of lips that made people hesitate when seeing Loki, afraid that the god would attack... which he would, so they were right to trust their animal instincts and run away. 'I'm usually taller,' Loki continued, voice still rich yet much softer, more feminine. 'And I usually leave my eyes the same colour. However, the chances of running into Thor either here or at SHIELD are high, and I'd rather not risk it. He's seen Lady Loki before...' He- she... whatever- frowned suddenly and tilted her head. Suddenly her hair flashed again, becoming blonde instead of black, and Loki twirled a strand around her fingers. 'Better,' she decided and went back to smirking at Tony.

'Okay,' the mortal hummed, 'this is a trick you didn't show me last night.'

Loki's smirk widened. 'I wanted to ensure that you would lay with me as a man, first. Too many of my past partners have insisted on me staying a woman after learning of this little skill.'

'We'll they were idiots,' Tony decided, making Loki blink at him. 'Seriously, you're gorgeous no matter what skin you wear,' Tony continued, shrugging one shoulder when Loki continued to stare. 'I'll fuck you in whatever form.'

'Hmm,' Loki hummed, her pink lips full and close to pouting. Tony swallowed thickly. Damn. 'Good,' Loki decided, 'because this form actually takes a fair amount of concentration and magic. I'd rather not be in it any longer than I have to be.'

'Fine by me, babe,' Tony shrugged again. 'So, you infiltrate SHIELD as Lady Loki and spy on Fury and the others?'

Loki nodded. 'While I can teleport in and spy whilst invisible, it would be best not to attract too much attention. They have readings of my magic, and while Thor isn't good at it himself, he's very good at detecting the energy I leave in a room. If we want to destroy SHIELD, we have to be careful.'

'Yeah, I get it,' Tony said. 'And having an inside man- er, woman- can only help. But,' and here he wagged a finger at Loki, making the Trickster snicker, 'you be careful, you hear? I don't want my partner going and getting himself captured or killed. I'm not in the mood to stage any rescue missions.'

'Oh, Stark, I didn't know you cared so much,' Loki practically purred, reaching across the table to stroke Tony's cheek.

Tony snorted. 'Back to Stark, am I?' he asked as he batted Loki's hand aside.

'You call me Rudolph, I call you Stark,' Loki shrugged. 'Fair is fair, yes?'

'Like you ever play fair,' Tony said.

'And you do?' Loki retorted.

'Touché,' Tony grinned, taking a sip of his coffee. 'So I suppose we should work out the terms of our contract?'

'Mm,' Loki nodded. He held his hand out and the tin of sugar appeared, as well as a spoon. Loki spooned a bit into his coffee, not speaking until he'd taken a sip and nodded in satisfaction, while Tony just stared a bit open-mouthed at the casual display of magic. 'We can work out the exact details of our deal, but I'd rather hold off on signing anything until you've consumed one of the Golden Apples.'

'Golden Apple?' Tony questioned, shaking off his thoughts.

'Mm,' Loki hummed again. 'Like I said; I don't make deals with mortals.'

'Yeah,' Tony murmured. 'So how exactly are you going to get one of these apples?'

'Theft, of course,' Loki said, smirking when Tony laughed. 'Iðunn keeps a close eye on her apples, but there are plenty to be found throughout Asgard. All I have to do is cloak myself, sneak in, and steal a few. It would help to have them on hand in case of injury; one bite can restore some of the gravest injuries.'

'How many do I have to eat to become like you and Thor?' Tony asked over his mug.

'Just one,' Loki said. 'They must be consumed every one hundred years. If an apple isn't eaten in that rough time-frame, you begin to age like a mortal again, and your strength and speed fail.'

'Maybe I can study them,' Tony mused, wondering if he could grow his own Golden Apples. There had to be a chemical explanation as to why the apples gave people unlimited life, strength, and speed. It was like magic; Tony was sure that magic was just another form of energy, one that humans were currently unable to detect and harness. But given enough time, Tony would, especially if he was now looking forward to a few thousand years of life instead of six or seven short ones.

'I love your mind,' Loki's voice broke into Tony's thoughts, making the genius blink. 'It's fascinating watching you work your way through a thought,' Loki added.

'You're not bad yourself, Reindeer Games,' Tony smiled. 'I find you particularly hot when you mutter spells under your breath.'

'Those are the more complicated ones,' Loki said. 'Most magic can be harnessed without the use of words. Others, however, require the use of mind and voice.'

'I'll figure it out,' Tony shrugged.

'I can teach you,' Loki offered.

Tony blinked. 'Seriously?'

The god nodded. 'As long as you teach me your Midgardian sciences, of course. With the added benefits of the Golden Apples, you should find it easier to tap into the magic all around you.'

'And with me explaining things, you'll pick up our tech in no time,' Tony grinned.

Loki chuckled and finished off his coffee before brandishing the mug at Tony. 'I want another.'

'Why yes, princess, I'd love to get you one,' Tony muttered sarcastically, even as he grabbed the mug. 'Anything else I can get you? Full English breakfast, maybe?'

'It depends on what a Full English Breakfast entails,' Loki replied.

Tony snorted. 'No idea, I've just heard the saying before. I can do eggs and bacon or an omelette.'

'As can I,' Loki said and stood.

'You know how to cook?' Tony questioned, back to Loki as he refilled both their mugs with coffee.

'Of course I do,' Loki snorted. 'Just because I was raised a prince doesn't mean that I'm unable to fend for myself.'

'That's good to know,' Tony said, 'because most of the time I order in. I can make a few things, though most of those are microwavable meals or frozen pizza.'

'I can cook a number of things,' Loki said. 'As long as you keep me satisfied in the bedroom- or any flat surface I choose- then I have no problem cooking.'

Tony almost dropped the mugs at the sudden onslaught of images those words brought on. Oh, wow, he could totally fuck Loki on the kitchen table in the communal kitchen. He imaged doing just that, the two completely naked, and then having dinner there with the Avengers, Natasha and Clint having no idea that the table they were leaning on had once held a naked Norse deity.

Tony snickered to himself, and then shivered when Loki's breath suddenly ghosted over his ear. 'You're thinking naughty thoughts,' Loki murmured. 'Do share.'

Tony shivered again but managed to say, 'Later. We have plans to make; a contract to write, remember?'

'You're no fun,' Loki pouted but move away. 'Would you like help cooking?' the god offered.

'Wow, you offering to do something nice?' Tony said. 'The world is ending!'

'Just be thankful,' Loki huffed. 'And you will not be able to gauge the world's end based on my mood; God of Lies, remember?'

Tony grinned and turned to peck him on the cheek; it was weird, he never did that, and Loki seemed surprised, too, but whatever. They were once enemies- still were, until the contract was signed- but they were forging a new relationship, one that put them ahead of everyone else. So Tony was doing things he'd never done before.

He didn't care. He was finally going to fuck over SHIELD like they'd been trying to do to him. Loki seemed to catch onto Tony's odd attitude, because he smiled; a soft, gentle thing that looked a bit out of place on the god's face, but no less... nice. He just gave Tony a gentle kiss before moving to the fridge, hunting for breakfast products. Tony smiled and got back to pulling pans out of the cupboards.



{oOo}



Tony ended up doing all the cooking. If there was one thing he could cook- besides pasta and frozen pizza- it was breakfast. A skill he'd picked up from taking care of some of his one-nighters. He didn't always have Pepper throw them out.

Anyway, Loki wanted the contract drawn up and signed as soon as possible, which meant gifting Tony with the same quasi-immortality that he and Thor shared. And that, of course, meant stealing apples. Oh, Tony loved it. Stealing was always fun.

So Loki gave Tony a quick kiss before he disappeared- using some of the hidden paths in the Yggdrasil, he said, which Tony didn't fucking understand. He just shrugged, figuring that Loki could explain it all in detail later, and got back to cooking. Loki had said that he would take no more than half-an-hour, maybe slightly longer, which gave Tony time to make them both breakfast; a large breakfast, because apparently Thor's appetite was the norm on Asgard, and Tony would have it too once he ate a Golden Apple.

He'd just finished plating up two very large meals- eggs, bacon, toast, fried tomato, fried ham, mushrooms, and fruit- when Loki reappeared. He swayed a bit but managed to catch himself, and Tony's eyes quickly took him in and found no outward signs of injury.

'Went well?' he questioned.

'Yes,' Loki said. 'It is just difficult, travelling on such beaten paths. I will explain the differences between travelling the way I do and travelling through the Bifröst later.'

''Kay,' was all Tony said.

Loki shook his head- maybe getting his magic into place, or just shaking off a thought, Tony had no fucking idea- before he pulled a small, leather bag from his trouser pockets... which, okay, where the fuck had that thing fit? But whatever. Tony wasn't about to question magic. He then pulled the ties open and reached inside before producing an apple.

It was... well, gold, which Tony had expected. A single, gold-brown leaf was still attached to the golden steam, and the skin was a complete, solid gold, like Tony's Iron Man faceplate, only brighter. Loki just held the apple out, and Tony didn't hesitate; he crossed the distance between them and plucked it from Loki's hand.

It was heavy- heavier than an apple should be- and shined with some sort of light. Tony's mind once again exploded; he had to be able to recreate this somehow. Soil samples from this “garden” where they grew, samples of the actual apple, any information Loki could provide... if Tony could artificially create his own Golden Apples, he and Loki would never have to return to Asgard for them. Magic had to be involved somehow, but Loki had already said that Midgard was practically dripping with it; humans just had no idea how to detect the energy, let alone harness it. Human evolution just hadn't reached that point yet.

Oh, but Tony, Tony Stark was different. He was a genius, even by Asgardian standards, and he was about to be a god. He'd fucking do it; he had the years.

'Well?' Loki's voice broke Tony from his thoughts, and the mortal- ha, not for long- looked up at him.

'Yeah, right,' Tony nodded. He took a deep breath, said a silent “SEEYA!” to his mortality, and took a bite.

He trusted Loki at least this far. Loki wanted this deal; he wouldn't kill Tony with a poisoned apple. It just wasn't his thing. Loki would rather snap Stark's neck than poison him. So Tony chewed, letting the brilliant, refreshing taste of the best apple he'd ever consumed roll over his tongue and then down his throat. Damn, that was a tasty fucking apple. If he could somehow just get the taste and artificially recreate that, he'd make billions to add to his already substantial wealth. Kids would eat apples for breakfast, lunch and dinner if they all tasted like this.

'Eat it all; stem, leaf, and core included,' Loki ordered.

Tony just nodded; easiest order he'd ever been given. Loki watched, curious, as Tony ate the entire apple, even going so far as to lick his fingers when he was done. Fucking awesome summer-tasting apple.

'I don't feel different,' Tony said as soon as he'd finished.

Loki rolled his eyes.

And then punched Tony. In the arm. Hard.

'Ow, you motherfucker!' Tony snarled, gripping his arm. 'What was that for?'

'That was me at my full strength,' Loki told him. 'If you were still mortal, your arm would have snapped clean in half.'

Tony blinked. Rubbed his arm. Okay, awesome.

'So... just like that?' he questioned. 'I'm a god?'

'Indeed,' Loki smirked. He sat on one of the barstools and pulled one of the large breakfast plates towards himself. 'Now eat. You will need it. Your body has adjusted to much in a very, very short period, and though you don't feel it now, you need to eat and rest.'

Tony just nodded. He trusted Loki on this; he was over a thousand years old (at least Tony assumed he was), he knew what he was talking about.

Chapter Text

'So, there are probably a few things we should discuss before either of us sign anything,' Tony said a few minutes later. Loki hadn't been kidding; Tony's appetite had suddenly expanded, and everything on his plate looked delicious, his stomach apparently having no end. At least, he hadn't found it yet, and he'd already eaten half a loaf of bread. 'Like the invasion, for example,' Tony said.

Loki raised an eyebrow as he pierced a piece of bacon with his fork- and Tony had no idea how he did that, because bacon was a bitch to eat with utensils. 'If you're looking for an apology, you won't get one,' the god said. 'Well, not one that's completely sincere, anyway,' he corrected. 'I do regret destroying your city. The more time I spend here, the more I realise that not all you Midgardians are worthless beasts.'

'That's good to know,' Tony snorted. He had no illusions; he knew that Loki wasn't a good guy. Then again, neither was Tony. But Loki was a god; their moral codes, however small, were vastly different.

'I wasn't controlled, at least not like your little Hawk was,' Loki continued. 'The Other- the one in command of the Chitauri fleet- had a certain hold on me, I will admit. But those actions were my own. Desperate as they were, I led the army here of my own will.'

'Was it completely your will, though?' Tony asked. ''Cause your invasion was kind of half-assed at best.'

Loki smirked. 'I didn't want to rule Midgard, if you were concerned about that. I never have. Just like I never wanted to rule Asgard. There are too many rules, too many people you must listen to, when you rule as a King or Emperor. I much prefer to be in the shadows, pulling the strings, working my... magic, you could say, from the background. Being a King means listening to the problems of the common folk, something I care little about. At best I hoped to be Thor's right-hand, the voice of reason and intelligence when he needed help. I never wanted to sit on the throne- any throne- myself.'

'Good to know,' Tony commented. 'So you weren't mind controlled, but this... Other, had a certain kind of power over you.'

'He was always watching,' Loki nodded. 'He created a link similar to what the sceptre had over Barton and the others. He couldn't control my every thought and movement, because a puppet would not make a good commander. He needed me to be able to think for myself. I needed to be able to adapt to any type of situation. The Other was just there, lurking in the background, making sure that I did what he wanted. The green beast knocked that hold free when he used me to redecorate your living room.'

'Which was awesome and I'll never say otherwise,' Tony interrupted. ''Cause seriously, seeing the bastard who threw me through a window in my floor was just really fucking cool.'

'And I would think the same if it were an enemy of mine,' Loki agreed. 'I threw you through a window, as you said, I cannot fault you for taking pleasure in my pain.'

'Well, not in your pain,' Tony corrected, 'just... in seeing you in the floor.'

Loki smirked and slid a piece of bacon into his mouth, chewing slowly and swallowing before continuing. 'When the Other found me, I was not in any state to deny his requests, or that of the Mad Titan's.'

'Mad Titan?'

'The one who truly wanted the Tesseract,' Loki said. 'Midgard was, unfortunately, just the planet holding it at the time. The Mad Titan cares little for this planet. It is a gateway to Asgard and the other Nine Realms.'

'And now that it's not here?' Tony questioned.

'I'm not sure,' Loki admitted. 'He could very well come here to kill the heroes who defeated his army. That would take time, though. Without the Tesseract he has no way to move his fleet to this planet quickly. And Asgard will always defend Midgard, because Midgard is the gateway to Asgard.'

'So we get protected because Asgard wants to protect itself,' Tony summarised.

Loki nodded. 'Basically, yes. It's why Thor is your planet's protector. Protect Midgard and you protect the Nine Realms.'

'Cool,' Tony said. 'So we mortals are basically caught between two bigger powers, really.'

'Mm,' Loki hummed with a slight nod. 'But remember, you are no longer mortal.'

Tony smirked. Oh, yeah... awesome.

'We'll deal with that if it happens,' Tony decided, brushing the subject aside. 'You don't wanna rule Earth anymore, that's all I care about.'

'You rule it already,' Loki commented, mirth dancing in his green eyes. 'With your technology, your wealth, and your status. I have researched you since we fought. You can make an entire room kneel with a few simple words.'

Tony grinned at that, remembering the press conference after returning from Afghanistan. He'd asked the room to sit and they had, no questions asked. Maybe Loki would have faired better if he'd just been sweet and charming instead of all insane and murderous. Then again, if Loki had really wanted Earth, he would have succeeded, no matter what SHIELD threw his way.

'So,' Tony cleared his throat and stood. Loki watched curiously as the newly-turned god hunted around for a piece of paper and a pen, which was actually harder to come by than it should have been. Steve and Bruce both liked using pens and paper, whereas Tony preferred StarkPads and other technology. 'So,' he repeated when he re-took his seat opposite Loki, 'we should write down exactly what we want from this deal. I'm assuming that you'll make the contract binding once we sign it?'

'Enchanted paper signed in blood,' Loki told him. Tony just nodded; yeah, magic was weird, moving on.

'Okay then,' Tony nodded. 'Rule one, of course, is that we can't betray or kill the other.'

'We will need to word that carefully,' Loki said. 'Because there may come a time where we have to appear as though we've betrayed the other to escape a hostile environment.'

'Like if SHIELD captures me and I pretend to turn on you to have a better chance of escaping,' Tony said, and Loki nodded. 'Yeah, we can word that in somehow. Some type of clause that lets us pretend to betray the other without really meaning it.'

'We will also have to decide on whether or not that stipulation extends past our agreement to destroy SHIELD and the World Security Council,' Loki said. Tony looked up at him. 'Do we want to continue to work together with the safety of no betrayals after our current enemies have been vanquished?' Loki asked. 'Or will we revert back to being enemies once SHIELD is taken care of?'

'I'd rather stay partners, in all honesty,' Tony said. 'I'm assuming that you have just as many, if not more, enemies as I do. There are business rivals out there that I'd like to take down a peg or two, that's not to mention whatever other insane individuals will step forward after SHIELD's destroyed. Having you on my side, someone I can actually trust, would be a great benefit.'

'And you would be willing to help me with my enemies?' Loki questioned. 'I have many, and most of them come from other Realms.'

'I'm confident when it comes to my suit and my intelligence,' Tony shrugged. 'And now I'm physically stronger and will live longer, so... I'll need some enemies to fight over the next few hundreds years.'

Loki chuckled and pressed his fingers against the paper Tony was doodling on. He easily slid it from beneath the inventor's hands and towards himself. 'May I?' he asked, gesturing to the pen. Tony handed it over and Loki hummed as he looked down at the sheet. 'Let's see what we can do...' he murmured and started jotting down his own ideas.



{oOo}



It took hours, of course. Tony and Loki were both suspicious bastards, and still didn't trust each other, at least not until the contract was signed. The argued over every point, over every sub-point, and were constantly trying to re-word everything so that they got the better deal.

It was all moot in the end, though, because later that night when they were finally done- and Tony's back was seriously starting to ache from sitting in the same position for so long- the contract was something that they both felt comfortable with. Every agreement was equal and fair for both of them, because Tony and Loki had both fought tooth and nail for it to be so. Even with the inclusion of the Golden Apple, they were still equal partners.

'Finally,' Tony groaned when he finished reading over the final contract. Loki had summed a piece of parchment from wherever the fuck he kept that shit, and had muttered a spell over it to make it binding. He'd then written everything out with a quill- in English, so that Tony could understand it- and given it to the human to read over.

'Now we just have to sign,' Loki said and drew a dagger from his boot. And, okay, where the fuck had that come from?

'You gotta show me how you hide weapons like that,' Tony commented.

Loki smirked. 'I will make you a few daggers. They are always handy, and easily concealable.'

'Awesome,' was all Tony said.

'There is something I need to do, before I sign this,' Loki said, making Tony arch an eyebrow.

'Go on,' he murmured.

'As I'm sure you are aware, I am not Æsir by birth,' Loki said.

Tony frowned. 'What?'

Loki mirrored the expression. 'You know that I am adopted.'

'Well, yeah,' Tony nodded, 'but... wait, you're not the same species as Thor?'

'No,' Loki said, seeming surprised that Tony didn't know that. 'I am Jötunn; a Frost Giant.'

Tony blinked. Loki stared. 'I have no fucking idea what that is,' Tony admitted. Sure, he'd dabbled a bit in Norse Mythology since Loki had dropped out of the Tesseract, but he had, like, a thousand things to do, and reading up on Loki's life hadn't been at the top of his list.

Loki looked... like he had no idea what to say to that. His frown deepened a bit before he shook his head. 'I will have to discuss this with you further at some point, because as my partner you should know this about me.' He didn't seem pleased about it, but whatever. 'My point is that I am not Æsir; the form you currently see is not what I actually look like.'

'Oh, okay,' Tony said. 'So, what, you have actual horns or something? Scales? A tail?'

Loki huffed, looking torn between amusement and anger. Tony wasn't sure what to make of that.

'No,' the god shook his head. 'Just blue skin and red eyes. My body temperature is much, much lower than that of a mortal or an Ás.'

'Okay...' Tony hummed. He was intrigued, really, because a blue space alien? Awesome, plain and simple. But Loki... well, he didn't look happy about sharing this information with Tony. In fact, he didn't look happy about the whole Jötunn thing at all... there was a story there, Tony knew, and he wondered if Loki would share that at some point in the future.

'My point is that my magic differs when I'm in my Jötunn form,' Loki continued. 'Certain things bleed over; my body temperature is always much lower, I am able to manipulate and create ice, and I have a higher tolerance for the cold. But when in my Jötunn form, some things are easier.'

'Because it's your true form,' Tony interrupted. Loki hesitated before nodding. 'So can you use your magic easier when in that form?' he asked.

'I am unsure, as I don't like to be in that form for too long,' Loki admitted.

'Well that's just stupid,' Tony stated, making Loki scowl. 'No, seriously,' Tony said, sitting up and leaning further over the counter. 'You hate your Jötunn form, I can see that. But it's an asset. You being blue and throwing ice? Not something that SHIELD will expect. Or Thor, either, if he knows how much you hate it. You should use it to your advantage.'

Loki just blinked at him, looking slightly stunned. Clearly he'd never thought of that before.

'I'm just saying,' Tony shrugged. 'If you don't wanna be in that form, then by all means never change; it's not up to me. But if it gives you an advantage, well...' he trailed off and stood, going to get more coffee. When he got back Loki had composed himself, and he continued his first topic, clearly needing to digest what Tony had said.

'I need to be in my birth form for this contract to bind us properly,' Loki said. 'The Æsir form I wear is mostly a glamour; a spell that the All-Father, and then I, used to mask what I truly am. But it still changes things, like my magic and certain... features about my body. In my Jötunn form, you will be bound to who I truly am. It will bind us more tightly together and more deeply.'

'Whatever you think is best, Dancer,' Tony shrugged. 'You're the magic expert here.'

'Dancer?' Loki said, eyebrow raised, clearly not amused.

'You're just jealous that you have no nicknames for me,' Tony grinned cheekily. Loki rolled his eyes. 'So, let's get this thing signed,' Tony decided to move on. 'I'll feel a lot better about this entire situation if we can't suddenly stab each other in the back.'

Loki nodded and closed his eyes. It took a lot of concentration for him to melt into his Frost Giant form; despite how much he despised it, he'd been practising since he escaped Asgard. Like Stark had said, it was an asset, and Loki would be a fool not to use every trick he had. A few minutes passed and nothing happened, at least not to Stark's eyes. Loki felt his magic flicker and seep into his bones more thoroughly than usual. He felt the ice cold tendrils of his Jötunn magic- the part of him that so easily manipulated ice- creep up on him, making his skin feel cooler.

Stark gasping was the first hint that Loki's true form was taking hold. The second was the cool shiver that swept over Loki's skin. When the god opened his eyes it was to find his hands and arms blue, frost beginning to spider across the counter-top from his fingers. Loki quickly reined in that magic, forcing it deep beneath his skin. He looked up at Stark, who's eyes widened when he saw the true colour of Loki's own.

'Wow,' Tony hummed. 'Okay, so you really, really look like a different race. The Æsir look exactly like us humans, but damn...'

'Yes, it is hard to hide what I truly am when in this form,' Loki agreed, going for the dagger he'd left sitting beside his and Stark's contract.

'Do the raised lines mean anything?' Tony asked. 'Or are they like fingerprints?'

'I have no idea,' Loki admitted. 'All Frost Giants have them.'

'Should look into that,' Tony mused, eyes roaming over Loki's face. Loki paused, his own eyes on Stark's. The human didn't seem terrified or disgusted or... anything that Loki was expecting. He just looked fascinated, like he wanted to touch, to study, to find out just how different Loki was. But Stark, he... he was unbiased, Loki realised. He hadn't grown up with stories of Frost Giants coming into his room and eating his flesh. He just saw Loki as a different creature, a different race; one different to his own, but not inherently evil.

Loki chuckled humourlessly to himself. He wondered if he would be more accepting of his own skin if he hadn't grown up with tales of bloodthirsty monsters. Just another way that the All-Father had failed him. Loki was a monster. But the All-Father had made him that way.

Loki shook his head, not wanting to dwell in this skin for too long. He would explain about the Frost Giants- and about his coming to be a Prince of Asgard- at a later date. For now he just wanted to get Stark firmly on his side. If they could not betray each other, then Loki had nothing to fear from Stark knowing everything. Only disgust.

Stark jolted when Loki cut his palm, but quickly calmed when Loki dipped the quill into his blood and signed the contract. He then sealed his skin with a quick burst of magic; Loki was by no means a skilled healer, but he knew enough to heal small wounds and broken bones. And, of course, he could heal himself quite easily.

'Your turn,' Loki said and handed the dagger across to Stark.

'Your skin's awesomely cold,' Tony commented when their fingers brushed.

'Frost Giant,' Loki reminded him.

'Yeah, yeah,' the human chuckled. He sliced his own palm, not even wincing at the gash he caused, and dipped the quill into his own blood. When he'd signed his full name- as Loki had instructed- Loki slid the parchment towards himself and held a hand over it. All it took was a few muttered words to bind the two together, the words written out now a baseline for their relationship. Stark gasped as the magic washed over him, and shook his head roughly, swaying on his stool. 'Yeah, wow, magic.'

'Mm, I should have warned you,' Loki murmured. 'Now shut up, I need to concentrate.'

Stark poked his tongue out- Loki saw it before he closed his eyes- but the god ignored him as he concentrated on sinking back into his Æsir form. It took longer than before- because despite what Sif and the Warriors Three thought, magic was anything but a trick- and Loki felt slightly drained when he settled into his familiar skin. He could easily fight off an attack, but he wouldn't be using his magic for unnecessary things.

'You need anything?' Tony asked.

'Hmm?' Loki hummed, his eyes- green once more- shifting to the genius.

'You look a bit tired,' Tony said, prodding at his injured hand. 'Magic takes it out of you, huh?'

'Magic is but a muscle, Stark; another extension of my person,' Loki said. 'Throwing a punch takes energy, as does throwing a spell.'

'Magic's another form of energy, one that you use your body to control,' Stark nodded. 'So it makes sense that it'd take just as much effort to wield as something like hand-to-hand fighting would.'

And with those few words, Stark showed that he understood more than Thor and his friends ever had. Stark, a mere mortal (former, really) from a tiny blue planet, only forty-five years of age, understood more about Loki than the people who had known him for 1047 years. It was equal parts disturbing and exhilarating. Finally, Loki had found someone who could at least understand certain parts of him, and Stark had only known him for mere weeks, really.

Oh, he would definitely never regret stealing an apple for Stark. A mortal lifetime was not enough for this brilliant, mad creature.

Stark was still touching his wound. It had stopped bleeding, but had yet to close up; clearly Stark's faster healing factor was already in effect.

Loki rolled his eyes and reached over, grabbing Stark's hand and making the human yelp. He then smiled when Loki healed his wound, the god only using a very small amount of magic to do so.

'Thanks,' Stark said.

'You're welcome,' was Loki's simple reply.

Tony grinned at him before jumping to his feet. 'So, I'm starving. We've been sitting here all day- literally all day- and I need, like, five containers of something delicious. You like Chinese, right?'

'I have no idea what it is,' Loki admitted.

'Rice, vegetables, and meat in sauce,' Tony said.

'Ah,' Loki hummed. 'I would prefer all vegetables, then. Meat slows my magic. It is easier to replenish when the meat of animals isn't in my system.'

Tony looked absolutely fascinated by that, his fingers twitching, like he was fighting not to throw Loki down and examine every inch of him.

'I can explain that over dinner,' Loki said, and a bright, slightly-mad grin lit up Stark's face.

'Oh, yes, you will,' he nodded. 'Vegetarian it is. So I share Thor's appetite now, huh?'

'It is a result of our semi-immortality,' Loki said. 'We burn energy much faster than mortals, thus we need more sustenance.'

'Right-o,' Stark said. 'Vegetarian, okay. You go make yourself comfortable in the living room, I'll order, and we'll watch a movie or something.'

'Very well,' Loki agreed easily, standing slowly and turning.

'And magic talks!' Tony called. 'Don't forget that!'

'As long as you teach me your Midgardian sciences, than I have no problem imparting some of my knowledge,' Loki retorted.

'Oh, yeah,' he heard Stark's glee-filled voice. 'This is gonna be awesome.'

Loki chuckled as he walked into the living room. Really, SHIELD had no hope, not with him and Stark working together. Loki let a smirk take over his face. This would be so much fun.

Chapter Text


 

'Okay, so I think I've figured out how to get you into SHIELD,' Tony said as he sat beside Loki. They were currently occupying the large leather lounge in Tony's living room, boxes of Chinese food spread out on the coffee table before them. Loki was picking through a box of vegetables and rice covered in some type of curry sauce, his fingers easily wrapping around a pair of chopsticks. He just waved a hand at Tony as he popped a vegetable into his mouth, telling him to continue. 'So, you can be my assistant when you're a woman,' Tony said.

'Assistant?' Loki echoed.

Tony nodded as he grabbed a box of food, popping the top open. 'I've had assistants in the past; all hot women. And you're hot as a woman, so it won't be surprising. Only, you have to act like you dislike me, that way SHIELD will try and get you to spy on me.'

'Oh?' Loki hummed, looking amused.

Tony grinned. 'I might have had the habit of... sleeping with my assistants.'

'Is that so,' the god chuckled, eating a bite of rice.

'Yeah,' Tony said. 'That was how Pepper found out that I'm not straight.'

'Pepper...'

'The CEO of my company,' Tony said. 'Pepper Potts.'

'Ah,' Loki nodded. 'Is she the woman always speaking for you during press conferences?' When Tony raised his eyebrows, Loki said, 'I made sure to research each of the Avengers in detail when I returned to Midgard. Know thy enemy.'

'Right,' Tony said, 'makes sense.'

'Mm,' Loki just hummed, scraping the bottom of his box with his chopsticks. He soon tossed it aside and reached for another, wrinkling his nose when he found it full of pork.

'So is the vegetarianism just 'cause you want to conserve your magic, or is it an all-time thing?' Tony asked.

Loki finally found another box of vegetables and rice, popping it open. 'I prefer greens over meat,' Loki said, 'but on occasion I don't mind. Like this morning; I ate pig, did I not?'

'Oh, yeah,' Tony nodded. 'Anyway, as my assistant you gotta make it clear that you have no wish to have sex with me. If you look like you just like the job, rather than me, SHIELD might just try and rope you into spying on me.'

'By offering money, I assume,' Loki said.

'Exactly,' Tony nodded. 'So if I set something up, maybe a back-story that shows you having money problems, SHIELD might just take the bait.'

'I see,' Loki said. 'And I assume you'll give me an apartment?'

'Yeah,' Tony mumbled around a mouthful of... chicken, he was sure it was chicken. 'You already have a place?'

'I can easily just disappear,' Loki shrugged, seeming unconcerned.

'Awesome,' Tony murmured, swallowing his food. 'So, I was thinking that we can have another alias for you; one that would mean you being able to hang around the Tower all the time in a different disguise. Can you change your appearance without being a woman?'

Instead of answering, Loki once again went blurry, green magic washing over him. When Tony could see him again, Loki's hair was short and curly, a dark blonde, and his eyes were light blue. His skin was darker, a nice tan instead of his usual pale complexion, and there was a fine dusting of stubble along his slightly softer jaw. He was shorter, too, Tony thought, and just... a bit different. Tony could still tell it was Loki, but the difference was so startling that nobody else should be able to tell.

'Awesome,' Tony blinked, and Loki smirked before he morphed back into his usual dark/pale self.

'It takes very little energy on my part to change my appearance,' Loki said. 'I can keep that illusion for many days if needed.'

'Awesome,' Tony repeated. 'Be my boyfriend.'

Loki started at that, almost slopping rice and sauce down his... tunic? Some type of tunic/t-shirt hybrid. He'd been wearing it under his armour.

'Just hear me out,' Tony said when Loki turned narrowed eyes on him. 'If I have a boyfriend, someone I'm apparently committed to, then it'll make more sense that I haven't tried to sleep with my assistant.'

'Won't it seem strange, you suddenly being in a monogamous relationship?' Loki questioned.

'Nope, 'cause I've tried it a few times,' Tony told him. 'A bit weird, yeah, 'cause I'm well-known for sleeping with all things beautiful. But I've had three serious relationships in my life; two with men, and one with Pepper.'

'Men?' Loki echoed, and Tony nodded.

'I was younger; it was before I turned into such an asshole.' Loki snickered. 'They both lasted a few months, though, and I told Pepper about them when we dated. So it'll seem more believable 'cause you're a guy.'

'I see,' Loki hummed. 'Do you remember, Stark, me mentioning that I don't share?'

Tony nodded. Oh, yeah, he remembered that; both before they'd slept together and after. Loki liked snarling, “mine!” when they were fucking. Which was ridiculously hot, Tony could admit; a bit different, but hot all the same.

'Anyway,' Tony cleared his throat, poking at his food. He really was hungry, and he'd already eaten half; Loki was right about his sudden increase in appetite. 'I pretend that I've secretly been seeing you for a while, and you move into the Tower. I'll set up a back-story for you, as well as a job, and that way when SHIELD investigates it's on the up and up. Again, it'll work in our favour; you get all access to the Tower, and the Avengers, without Thor knowing. We can also hang out a lot so we don't have to sneak around as much. Also, it'll explain why I've suddenly stopped sleeping around.'

'I see,' Loki nodded, eyeing something green that he'd stabbed with a chopstick. 'I don't like these.'

'Then don't eat them,' Tony snorted.

Loki ignored his comment. 'Fine, I shall be your partner , Stark. I have no desire to be called your boyfriend .'

'Whatever,' Tony waved a hand. 'You got a name you wanna use?'

'Logan,' Loki said instantly, which again made Tony snort. 'I have found that using a name that is similar to my own, even by just a letter, is much easier to remember,' Loki explained. 'Also, Logan sounds more similar to Loki than any other Midgardian name I can think of.'

'No, Logan; that's cool,' Tony nodded. 'I'll make up a back-story for you now.' He tossed the remains of his box into his mouth, chewing as he put it aside, and went to find a StarkPad. When he'd retaken his seat, Loki was still picking through his food, but now had his complete focus on Tony. 'So, full-name...'

'I have been going by Logan Larson,' Loki said, 'however my current apartment is rented under that name, and if I use that name again I'm assuming that SHIELD will find out.'

'Different surname, then,' Tony nodded, eyes on his StarkPad. 'Okay, Logan... Logan...'

'Thomas,' Loki interrupted. Tony glanced at him, and the god shrug. 'It is a name I heard recently.'

'Logan Thomas,' Tony tested the name, 'sounds alright. Want a middle name?'

'What is a middle name?' Loki asked.

'Well, you know... a name between your first name and surname,' Tony said. 'Mine's Edward.'

'Why do you Midgardians insist on having so many names?'

'No idea,' Tony shrugged.

'Do I need one?'

'Not really,' Tony said. As far as he knew, Pepper didn't have a middle name. 'But I'm giving you one anyway,' the genius decided. Loki just shook his head, looking amused. 'Logan... William Thomas,' he decided, typing out the name. 'Birthday?'

'No idea,' Loki admitted. 'Are we using different information for Lady Loki?'

'Yeah, we'll have to,' Tony nodded. 'I'll do all that myself, though. Unless you have any objections?'

'As long as my name isn't something ridiculous, I don't care,' Loki shrugged.

'Got a name for your woman form?' Tony questioned.

'Not on Midgard,' Loki said. He was now sliding pieces of vegetables that he didn't like back into the bag, hunched over the table with his side to Tony. 'On Álfheimr I went by Loptr.'

'Loptr... okay, no, that won't work,' Tony shook his head. 'Can you do an American accent? Making your female alias British might be too suspicious.'

'Of course I can,' Loki snorted. 'I can mimic most voices.'

'Okay, awesome,' Tony nodded. 'A woman's name... how about Lily?'

'Lily?' Loki drawled.

'Yeah, as in the flower,' Tony said. Loki scowled, but didn't say no , so Tony typed that down. 'Lily Walden,' he decided, not letting Loki get a word in. 'I'll make you older than your male alias. You barely look thirty to me,' Tony said, 'but we'll make you a bit older than that so I don't get called a cradle robber.'

'A what?'

'Never mind,' Tony brushed Loki's question aside. 'How about... February 9th 1981 for your male alias?'

'I suppose I'll have to memorise all this information,' Loki said, sitting back and shovelling rice and vegetables into his mouth.

'That makes you 33 as of today, what with it being late February,' Tony said. 'And your female form will be... thirty-five?' He looked at Loki, head tilted. 'Yeah, thirty-five,' he decided.

'Very well,' Loki nodded.

'Birth place... well, your accent sounds English, so somewhere in England,' Tony hummed, more to himself than Loki. 'We'll just say Westminster, that sounds familiar. Okay, so Westminster... a hospital near there... schools...' Tony began muttering to himself over the course of the following minutes, leaving Loki free to pick and choose what food he was eating. When Tony came back to himself, Loki had eaten a further one and a half boxes of food and was now chewing on some prawn chips. 'Okay, got it,' Tony grinned at him, waving his StarkPad. 'I named your parents Dennis and Molly.'

Loki just rolled his eyes.

'I'll go into more detail later with JARVIS and let you review both sets of aliases,' Tony said, tossing his StarkPad aside. He was still starving.

'It all sounds fine so far,' Loki shrugged.

'Awesome,' Tony said. Okay, he had to stop that, he'd said it like forty times this night. Okay, not forty, but whatever; Tony was hungry . In fact, he shovelled down food so quickly that he almost choked at least three times, and Loki began to look concerned when Tony could barely swallow.

'Stark...' he began, but Tony's chest chose that moment to explode . He gasped and dropped his container, spraying rice and meat all over the floor and his legs. He clutched at his chest tightly as another sharp, stabbing throb went through him near the arc reactor. 'Stark!' Loki shouted when Tony dropped to his knees, barely managing to not smack his head against the coffee table. 'Stark,' Loki repeated, suddenly appearing beside him. He eased Tony back onto the floor and pulled Tony's hand away from his chest. 'Besides the glowing thing in your chest, do you have any other serious ailments?' Loki demanded.

Tony was gasping for breath by now, but managed a stuttered, half-panicked, 'Sh-Shrapnel... in-in my chest...' He trailed off to hiss, fingers digging into his chest through his t-shirt.

'Shrapnel,' Loki frowned.

'From a missile,' Tony gasped, 's'what gave me this.' He tapped at his arc reactor and then groaned. God, he was dying. Great, just great; he'd finally found a way to destroy SHIELD, only to die a day later. Awesome .

'You are not dying,' Loki drawled, grabbing Tony's hands and holding them in his own. 'This is the apple.'

'A-Apple?' Tony stuttered.

Loki nodded. 'The apple has changed your body; you now heal much, much quicker and better than any mortal. Your body is healing you.'

'So...'

'It will get rid of any foreign objects in your body,' Loki told him.

Tony's panic suddenly sky-rocketed. 'Reactor?' he gasped, trying to sit, but Loki firmly held him down.

'No, I don't believe so,' Loki shook his head. 'The reactor uses an element that emits energy very similar to magic. Your body, and whatever magic you posses, won't be able to get rid of it.'

'Magic... a-awesome,' Tony muttered, his teeth now gritted, eyes scrunched in pain.

'It will be over soon,' Loki soothed, brushing Tony's hair back from his sweaty forehead. If Tony hadn't been, you know, in agonising pain, he would have laughed; Loki comforting him. Weird.

Loki was telling the truth; within half-an-hour the pain had started to disappear, slowly ebbing away, leaving Tony feeling weak, shaky, and too hot. Loki finally let him stand, but Tony needed the god's help to get back to the lounge. He dropped onto it with a groan and looked down at his shirt. The material was peppered with blood, and when Tony touched it he felt bits of metal beneath it. He lifted his shirt off, only wincing a bit, to find pieces of shrapnel stuck to his smooth, bloody skin.

'Wow.'

'You no longer need to worry about this shrapnel,' Loki said, waving a hand at Tony's chest. The blood and metal disappeared, leaving Tony's skin clean.

'Wow,' Tony repeated. 'That's... okay, that's just really, really cool,' he decided. 'Best side-effect of the apple by far. So,' he dropped his shirt again and reached for the box he'd dropped on the coffee table. Yeah, he was still dying of hunger here. 'I have magic?'

'All Midgardians do,' Loki nodded, 'however you are unable to harness it. Your bodies haven't evolved to that level yet.'

'Yeah, that's what I thought,' Tony mumbled around a mouthful.

'You may find that you are able to tap into it,' Loki said, 'now that your body is more similar to mine than a mortal's. I shall help you, if you wish.'

'M'kay,' Tony nodded. 'Tony Stark; sorcerer. Sounds great.'

Loki rolled his eyes.

'Hey, what am I the god of?' Tony suddenly asked, turning to grin at Loki. 'Sex?'

Loki shook his head. But there was a smile on his lips, so Tony grinned, too.

Chapter Text

'No, seriously, what am I the god of?'

Loki sighed. Stark had been asking that question non stop since he woke. They'd both retired around midnight the previous night, and the human- no longer mortal- had slept well into the next afternoon. Like Loki had said, eating a Golden Apple, and suddenly being a god, was a lot for his body to deal with. Stark would no doubt find himself tiring easily, and craving food, for a number of days. That should wane in a week or so, though, Loki wasn't quite certain; not many mortals were turned into gods.

'I do not know, Stark,' Loki scowled. He was re-reading over his two aliases; he wanted all basis covered before he met with the Avengers and the general public. 'Just tell me what you want to be the god of, and I shall tell you if the title is already taken.'

The God of Sex was already taken- unfortunately, Stark kept bemoaning- by a woman whom Loki had become quite acquainted with when he was younger. He'd been about 600 when he'd lain with her. In human years, he'd been but a teenager. He was still only considered a young adult by Æsir standers; nineteen or twenty in Midgarian terms.

That was around the time that Loki had realised he preferred the flesh of men. His marriage to Sigyn had just cemented that fact. Of course, it had just been another thing for Sif and the Warriors Three to bully him about. It was perfectly fine for warriors to lay with each other when they were drunk or trekking somewhere for battle, but for a man to actually choose males over females? And here they'd thought that Loki could stoop no lower.

It was something that Loki liked about Midgard; their acceptance of so many things. Oh, he was quite aware that there were still debates and hatred and all kinds of awful things said about and done to those who didn't fit into the categories others made. But for the most part they were far more accepting than Asgard.

'Hmm...' Stark hummed. They were in his workshop, Stark tinkering with his Iron Man suit, Loki seated on the sofa against one wall, a StarkPad on his lap. 'God of Technology? No, wait; that sounds like I control it or something.'

'Don't you?' Loki questioned, not looking up at the genius. 'You have revolutionised it since you were but a boy, have you not? Your technology would be considered a form of magic on some Realms.'

'Really?'

'On Asgard, definitely,' Loki nodded. 'We have nothing of the sort. Humans developed technology, Æsir developed magic.'

'Huh,' Stark grunted. 'Nah, I want a cooler sounding name. How about... God of Sass?'

Loki snorted, and Stark grinned at him.

'Okay, that was a joke,' Stark conceded. 'God of... One Liners... One-night Stands... Creation... Iron? No, the suit isn't actually made of iron, that makes no sense.'

'How about God of Rambling?' Loki suggested. He flicked the StarkPad, drawing up new information.

'Shut up,' Stark muttered. 'Oh!' he suddenly gasped, waving some type of tool at Loki. 'God of Cunning?'

Loki blinked at that. Huh. There was, to Loki's knowledge, no God of Cunning. 'That... actually fits,' he nodded slowly, bright eyes finding Tony. 'You certainly are very cunning.'

Tony grinned, looking pleased with himself.

'God of Cunning and Inspiration,' Loki murmured, more to himself than Stark, but the billionaire heard him. 'You create things,' Loki said, nodding at the gauntlet Tony was working on, 'but the Gods of Creativity and Creation already exists. However, you inspire others to do as you do; rival companies, villains, and the general populace. It fits.'

'Huh,' Tony repeated, staring at him. 'Okay, then,' he smirked, 'God of Cunning and Inspiration it is.'

Loki smiled.

'So, now that I'm a god,' Stark said, attention going back to his glove, 'can I use magic? I mean, Thor's mentioned that he can use magic, just nowhere near to your level. He can also detect your magic when you use a large quantity of it, right?'

Loki nodded and put his StarkPad aside; he'd already memorised the information. He stood and went to Stark's side, letting his eyes glide over the workshop. It was a fascinating place; there seemed to be no order, tools and projects and random objects strewn everywhere, but Stark definitely knew his way around. Everything was where Stark wanted it to be; controlled chaos. Loki loved it.

'As I've mentioned before, magic is a form of energy that is in most things, Midgard and humans included. Your human bodies just lack the ability to sense and harness it. However, some people and species have more magic, and find it much easier to use.'

'So... what, 'cause you're a Frost Giant, you can use it better than Thor?' Tony questioned.

Loki's jaw tightened at the mention of his true heritage, but he forced it aside. If he continued to react like that, his enemies would use it against him; Thor had plenty of times. So Loki took a deep breath and let it go. Yes, he was a Frost Giant. No, he couldn't change it. Moving on.

'Yes,' Loki nodded, opening his eyes and focusing them on Stark. 'There has always been a much higher percentage of mages on Jötunheimr than there have been on Asgard. Both races can detect and harness magic much easier than a human. However, the Jötnar have always been able to access it easier. I'm not sure why that is.'

'Ice?' Tony shrugged.

Loki frowned. 'Excuse me?'

'Well, this is just a theory,' Stark immediately responded, making Loki realise that the human had been pondering this since learning what Loki was, 'but I think it's the ice. In your Frost Giant form, you're colder and blue. I'm assuming that Yotie-ham is-'

'Jo-TUN-hame,' Loki interrupted.

'Whatever,' Tony waved a hand and Loki smirked. 'I'm assuming that it's a cold place?'

'Yes,' Loki inclined his head. 'It is covered in ice and snow, and is never above freezing. You would die after a few hours if you left your body unprotected.'

'Right,' Tony said. 'So, the environment is icy. Meaning that the...'

'Jötnar,' Loki provided.

'Jötnar,' Tony continued, 'you Jötnar evolved to live in harsh conditions like that. Meaning that your ability to sense and use magic evolved differently to the Asgardians. You can manipulate and create ice, but a mage from Asgard can't, am I correct?'

'Yes,' Loki said.

'Well there you go,' Tony clapped his hands together. 'There are more mages in... Frost Giant Land, because you evolved differently. Your bodies are able to tap into either a different type of magic, or magic that Asgardians just can't use. Ergo, more mages in Giant Town.'

Loki tilted his head. He supposed that that made sense. If Thor applied himself, he could very well use some of the tricks that Loki used; his magical core was nowhere near as large as Loki's, but all it took was patience and practice. But Thor would never be able to manipulate ice because he wasn't a Frost Giant; Æsir just couldn't do it.

'It's like the fact that I will never be able to do what you can do magic-wise,' Tony continued, pulling open a small panel on his Iron Man glove, 'my body just can't physically do it.'

'I see,' Loki hummed. 'That would also explain why almost every single elf on Álfheimr can use magic. They have been practising the art for many, many more millennia than the Æsir.'

'Exactly,' Stark nodded.

Loki watched him work for a few minutes, mulling over Stark's comments, before leaning against the workbench. 'Back to your original question,' the god said, and Stark made a soft noise, 'now that you are a god, you can use magic.'

Tony looked up at that, already grinning.

'However,' Loki said, and Stark pouted, making the Trickster chuckle. 'However,' Loki repeated, 'it will take much, much practice; practice that includes meditation.'

'Sitting still?' Stark groaned.

'Yes,' Loki said. 'To be able to use magic, you must first be able to sense it. And to be able to sense it, we must find if you have a magical core. You should; almost every creature does, even if they can't actually use it. It remains to be seen if your magical core is large enough to be of any use, however.'

'Well, what do you think?' Tony asked, looking up at Loki.

Loki tilted his head. 'At worst, your magical core will be so small that you can only use the smallest of elemental and shield spells. At best, you will be able to throw magic as I can and influence people's feelings and thoughts very vaguely. There are a number of spells that I can teach you if that is the case.'

'Awesome,' Stark grinned.

'You also might be able to alter your appearance slightly,' Loki added, looking the human over. 'Changing your appearance is very difficult, but takes little magical energy once you're able to perfect it.'

' Really awesome,' Tony beamed. 'I could totally fuck with people.'

'Of course you'd use magic to trick people,' Loki snorted.

'Hello, God of Mischief !' Tony said, waving a hand at Loki. 'You have no right to judge me.'

'I'm not judging,' Loki smirked, 'just commenting.'

'Whatever,' Tony muttered. 'Hey, you wanna go out and get a late lunch? Or early dinner, whatever. I'm starving.'

'So soon?' Loki questioned. He didn't mean the time; it was almost five pm, according to one of Stark's holographic monitors. No, he meant he and Stark being seen in public.

'I know that you've memorised all the info we wrote,' Tony said, pointing at the StarkPad that Loki had abandoned on the sofa. 'And, really, neither of us wants to wait too long to put our plan into action. The sooner I show up with a boyfriend- sorry, partner - the better. Let the media photograph us together until Pepper or someone else asks. In a week or two I'll move you in. Then, maybe you suggest- in front of everyone- that I get an assistant. I bitch and moan but agree and then hire Lady Loki before Pepper can find someone.'

Loki blinked. Stark had it all figured out. Of course, most of their plan- or plans, really- were going to be made up as they went. They had no idea what kind of information Loki would find, and that's if he were hired by SHIELD to spy on Tony. Also, they weren't quite sure yet on how they wanted to destroy SHIELD. They've both agreed that their top priority was to find every secret base that SHIELD used; they had to wipe out the entire agency, after all.

Loki found it breathtaking and arousing, making plans with someone this clever . Stark was a genius, he really was, and it made Loki's heart beat quicker in his chest. He'd never worked with anyone- he'd never met anyone- as smart as Tony Stark. Oh, there had been various people just as clever as him, just as intelligent in their selected field, but nobody who thought the way Stark did, nobody who thought the way Loki did.

Controlled chaos.

'I want to fuck you over this table,' Loki stated, and Stark dropped his tools, eyes wide as he turned to the god. 'Preferably before we eat,' Loki added, dusting imaginary dirt from his sleeve. 'And after.'

'Oh... kay,' Stark said. 'Okay, yes, I am definitely on-board with that.' And then he swept his work aside, jumped to sit on the table, and spread his legs, all while wearing a lecherous grin. 'Coming, Green Eyes?'

Loki smirked. Oh, he would be.



{oOo}



Loki looked pretty good as Logan, Tony could admit, but he preferred Loki's usual looks in all honesty. He made sure to tell Loki that, because he had a feeling that the Trickster wasn't used to people wanting him for him; just for what he was capable of doing. Tony knew the feeling all too well, and wanted his business partner/boyfriend happy, so... yeah.

Being someone's partner again was a bit weird, but Tony was kind of okay with it. Loki was fucking gorgeous, intelligent, clever... just really, really awesome. He was the smartest person Tony had ever slept with, and probably the hottest, too. So being monogamous? Yeah, Tony could totally do that with Loki. Why fuck someone else when he had access to a god? Huh, he was one, too. He kept forgetting that.

'I haven't had different features in many, many years,' Loki commented as he and Tony zipped through the streets. Manhattan wasn't exactly the best place to drive a Jaguar, but Tony didn't care; if he hit anyone, he could pay for the damages. 'It's odd.'

'You've never looked any different?' Tony questioned. 'I mean, naturally,' he added when Loki turned to look at him. 'My hair was a bit blondish when I was really young; like, when I was five. It turned dark pretty quickly.'

'Really?' Loki snorted, looking highly amused. 'You have pictures, I hope?'

'Shut up,' Tony muttered and Loki chuckled.

'No, I've always had very dark hair and green eyes; at least, I assume I have. We don't have photographs on Asgard like you do here. There are a few paintings and such of when I was a babe and a child, but nothing too detailed. I think I recall Frigga saying that I had blue eyes when I was jut a babe, but...' he trailed off and shrugged, apparently not wanting to go into detail on that. Tony had a feeling that it had something to do with the whole “adopted and actually a Frost Giant” thing, but he wasn't gonna push.

'So, still going vegetarian?' Tony asked. 'I know a good restaurant that makes a killer veggie lasagne. At least I think it does, my date at the time said it was great.'

'Oh, taking me to past haunts, Stark?' Loki teased. 'How unoriginal.'

'Shut up, it has good food,' Tony huffed, 'and the paparazzi are more likely to spot me there and take pictures. And that is what we want to happen, remember?'

'Mm, yes,' Loki hummed.

'Also, call me Tony,' the genius ordered as he pulled up in front of a restaurant. 'My dates never call me Stark unless there's a “Mr” fixed on there.'

'Whatever you say, Anthony,' Loki purred before climbing out of the car. Tony blinked. And then shivered. Damn.

Loki was waiting for him, and wrapped an arm around Tony's back as soon as the human was close enough. Tony snorted but put his arm around Loki's waist, tugging him towards the doors. A valet appeared, seeming only slightly nervous about meeting Tony Stark, but Tony ignored him as he tossed him his keys and entered the restaurant.

It was a swanky place coloured in muted reds and off-whites. The floor beneath them was wood, with large, thick rugs covering most walkways. Paintings that Tony never paid attention to hung on the walls, and there were random ornaments everywhere; again, Tony didn't care.

The line was rather long, but Tony walked past it, ignoring the huffs of annoyance he got, as well as the whispers of, “Is that Tony Stark?”

A couple hundred dollars slid into the right pocket, and suddenly Tony and Loki were being seated at one of the best tables and given drinks menus. Loki just put his aside, clearly having no idea about Midgardian alcohol, so Tony scanned his own before ordering a bottle of wine; wine went with anything, didn't it?

When the waiter finally left, Tony smiled at Loki over the table.

'What?' Loki questioned. His voice was off; slightly lighter, calmer, just... a bit different to his usual voice. Tony didn't like it, but... well, he just much preferred Loki as himself.

'Nothing,' Tony shrugged. 'You look good.'

Loki had resized one of Tony's suits to fit him, because he had very little in the way of Midgardian clothing. He mostly just used glamours, he'd told Tony. But apparently he'd felt like wearing a real suit tonight, so was sporting a black Armani with a deep blue shirt that matched his eyes, and a blue and black striped tie. His hair- curly blonde because he was Logan- had been styled with magic.

Tony realised that he'd have to buy Loki a wardrobe; he couldn't magic everything with the possibility of Thor catching him.

'Shopping trip,' Tony grinned, and Loki raised an eyebrow.

'Excuse me?'

'Gotta get you some new clothes, Logan,' Tony said, smirking when Loki rolled his eyes. 'I'm assuming you'll want lots of green and black?'

'Not if Thor is around,' Loki sniffed, voice low to avoid being overheard. 'Black and blue should work; the latter will match my current eye colour.'

Oh, yeah... Loki's eyes were blue, bright blue what with the shirt he was wearing really making the colour pop. God, Loki was hot no matter what he looked like.

Right, why did Tony suggest dinner again? They should've stayed in the Tower and fucked like rabbits all night long. Then again, Tony was already kind of tired- damn apple!- and he was hungry. So, yeah; public dinner.

It wasn't long before they ordered- steak for Tony, some type of vegetarian pasta for Loki- and settled into light conversation as they ate. They'd barely started before Loki leaned forward, blue eyes locked on Tony. 'We're being watched.'

'I'm always being watched,' Tony shrugged. 'By who?' he then asked.

'Almost everyone,' Loki commented. 'The waiters, the patrons... somebody outside with a camera.'

'Can you see who it is?' Tony questioned. 'The person with the camera?'

'I'm unsure whether it's one of your Midgardian reporters or a SHIELD agent,' Loki hummed under his breath. He stabbed at a piece of carrot with his fork and popped into his mouth, chewing as he glanced over Tony's shoulder.

'I don't suppose it matters,' Tony said. 'We want everyone to know that we're together.'

'True,' Loki nodded. He smirked suddenly and put his fork down, making Tony raise his eyebrows, and lean over the table. 'Perhaps we should give them something to really look at, hmm?'

Tony had a feeling he knew where this was going, and swallowed slightly when Loki leaned over the table, his height making the action look easy and graceful. Tony's breath caught in his throat when soft, cold lips pressed against his own, but he quickly got with the programme and licked Loki's bottom lip, sliding his tongue in when Loki's lips parted. Tony leaned on the table heavily with one hand, keeping himself upright as he cupped Loki's jaw with his other hand. He then ran his fingers through Loki's hair, and Tony wasn't sure he'd ever get used to Loki having such short hair. He could really pull of the L'Oreal look.

They broke apart after about a minute, keeping the kiss chaste, and Loki grinned at the slightly dumbfounded look Tony was sporting. But Loki's pale cheeks were tinted pink, so Tony counted it as a draw. He smiled and sat back, making himself comfortable once more.

'Damn, Lo',' he hummed and picked up his knife and fork.

'What?' Loki questioned.

'Even small kisses from you are breathtaking,' Tony said. Loki looked surprised, and then shy, and Tony just winked as he slid a piece of steak into his mouth.

Loki sat back down, blue eyes taking on a mischievous glint, and Tony knew that he'd pay at some point for making the god blush.

Totally worth it.



{oOo}



Tony realised that they really shouldn't have gone out to a fancy restaurant just after he'd paid the bill. He was still hungry; not starving, like he had been before, but he could go another steak, maybe some chips or a burger. He'd have to keep an eye on his appetite when the Avengers returned, because him suddenly eating copious amounts of food would definitely raise a few eyebrows. Tony was rather famous for skipping as many meals as possible before he dropped, and when he did eat it usually wasn't that much.

'We gotta stop by a White Castle or something,' Tony murmured to Loki as they stood. Loki had removed his jacket sometime during dinner and was pulling it back on.

'Hmm?'

Tony smiled and reached up, smoothing down the shoulders and lapels. Loki raised an eyebrow. 'I'm still hungry,' the genius admitted.

Loki chuckled. 'As am I. However, we'll have to keep up appearances when out in public. And Tony Stark is well known for his fine dining, is he not?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. He held an arm out and Loki threaded his through, the two walking through the restaurant. 'We'll just have to stop at a fast food place, or order something else in,' Tony said as they walked. 'I'll have to start keeping actual food in my penthouse so we can snack.'

Loki just nodded, and a mask fell across his face as he and Tony stepped outside of the restaurant. There were reporters everywhere, and Tony realised that his and Loki's little kiss- and the few more they'd exchanged throughout the night- must have got some tongues waggling. Tony had never made his pansexuality a secret, it was just that usually he was attracted to women. Plus, men just seemed to be a bit more discreet; they didn't want their affair with Tony Stark all over the news. So Tony had rarely been photographed with men, not since he was twenty-two and had his second serious relationship. Ah, Victor... he'd taught Tony a fair bit about giving a good blow job.

The questions started immediately, shouted from left, right and centre. Tony just waited patiently as cameras flashed, recording devices and cellphones were shoved in his face, and men and women jostled for the best position.

'He's my boyfriend,' Tony said when there was a short lull in the questions, and earned an elbow to the gut. 'Ow, right, partner,' he wheezed slightly, giving Loki a glare. Loki, of course, just smiled like the prick he was.

'Partner?' somebody shouted, which was followed by a dozen other questions that Tony had no hope of hearing. Seriously, why did these people believe that Tony could hear- and would answer- every fucking question they had? The lights constantly flashing in his face weren't helping. They were lucky that the lights didn't make him have a fucking fit or something.

Finally, after a good minute of shouting and pushing and flash, flash, flash, Tony heard, 'Is this you coming out, Mr Stark?'

Tony outright laughed at that, and Loki looked fairly amused beside him. 'Coming out?' Tony echoed, locking eyes with the woman who'd shouted the question. 'Oh, honey, how young are you?' She flushed to the roots of her dyed-blonde hair, clearly annoyed. 'I've been out since I was seventeen and got caught fucking a guy at MIT. I've been outta the metaphorical closest for a long time.'

More questions were shouted; Tony ignored them.

'Not gay!' he shouted when he heard the word repeated. 'Bisexual, if you have to use a label,' he corrected, 'or pansexual, really; that one would fit me better. That's if you lot even know what that is.'

He was met with blank stares.

'Didn't think so,' Tony rolled his eyes. 'Anyway, yes; this is my boyfriend, lover, special somebody, whatever you wanna call it. Darling,' he turned to Loki, who smiled sweetly (which was fucking hilarious), 'wanna introduce yourself?'

'Logan Thomas,' Loki informed them. He even had the ID to prove it, 'cause Tony could maybe make his own... you know, for shits and giggles.

And then the questions were shouted at Loki. The god just blinked, looking entirely unconcerned, and waited until they'd all shut up to answer. 'Yes, I'm British; I'm from England. I currently live here and have for the past few months. I met Anthony a few weeks ago at a bar, we hit if off, we decided to continue seeing each other. And that's all you'll get from me.'

He finished by tugging on Tony's arm, and Tony waved cheerfully at the reporters before leading Loki back to the car. A valet handed Tony's keys over, and Tony slipped two hundred dollar bills into the kid's pocket; that kind of money went a long way for young guys working this sort of job. Tony opened the door for Loki, and Loki made a show of kissing him thoroughly before getting in, letting all the reporters get a good dozen or so pictures.

Tony just smirked and slammed the door shut.

Chapter Text

The city sleeps and we're lost in the moment

Another kiss says we're lying on the pavement

If they could see us, they were jealous that we're crazy

But I know, they just don't understand”

Take My Hand [Simple Plan]



JARVIS had not-so-helpfully reminded Tony that he was on patrol that night- something the Avengers had initiated since Loki's escape and reappearance- so after a quickie with said god, Tony donned his Iron Man suit to do a few laps of the city.

Everything was peaceful- well, as peaceful as “the city that never sleeps” ever got. After about twenty minutes, Tony scanned the police radio to see if anything was happening, but there were only a few robberies and domestic disputes called in, and Tony didn't care about that shit. Really, he hardly cared about the big shit that the Avengers were called in on; stuff like von Doom and Loki and whatever other super villain had decided to crawl from the woodwork.

As long as they didn't touch his things, he was fine with them blowing up whatever the hell they wanted. Really, Tony had no idea why he'd waited so long to contact Loki; their agreement was about revenge- about taking down SHIELD- but Tony was barely scraping by as a hero as it was. He should have joined Loki much sooner.

Tony did a few flips, tested a few things, and made some notes; he was always trying to upgrade the suit, and he was looking for things to add to his latest suit; one that he could wear when taking down SHIELD. The Iron Man suits were mostly built for defence rather than offence, but soon he'd be going up against the Avengers, which included the Hulk and a Norse god; Tony needed better guns.

'Sir, a target is heading directly for you,' JARVIS suddenly piped in, pulling Tony from his thoughts.

'Where?' Tony asked, straightening his suit and flying steady.

'One-hundred and ten feet north-west and closing in,' JARVIS responded.

'Scan,' Tony said.

JARVIS did as asked, and soon an image was pulled up; a rough wire-frame of whatever was speeding towards Tony like a bullet. Fifty feet, thirty, twenty, five-

'SHIT!' Tony screeched- yes, he could admit it, he was comfortable with his masculinity, thank you very much- as a giant fucking dragon suddenly popped up in front of him. And it was a fucking dragon; an Asian one (so Tony had been obsessed with dragons when he was five, sue him), with a long, serpentine body, leathery-black wings, and claws that looked like they could rip Tony's suit apart.

It hovered just before Tony, not making a move to attack, and Tony just... stared, a bit. Had JARVIS take pictures. Waved a little.

The dragon laughed- Tony was sure of it- and opened its jaw. Smoke poured from its throat, and Tony watched, in a bit of a trance, as letters- words- started forming from the smoke.

You are ridiculous .

Tony blinked. Did a dragon just sass him? His life was fucked up.

Putting the suit on speaker, Tony said, 'Fuck you.'

The dragon smirked; again, Tony was sure of it. More smoke streamed from its throat, its nostrils, forming more words.

You already did .

Tony frowned at that. Wait a...

' Loki ?!'

The dragon did a spin, tail flicking and wings beating to keep it hovering in the air. It drew closer and Tony had to fight down every instinct he had that was telling him to haul ass, get the fuck out, it's a motherfucking dragon! He just continued to hover as the creature approached, and when it got closer-

' Sir, the dragon's eye colour is an exact match for Loki Lie-Smith ,' JARVIS informed him.

Tony rolled his eyes. 'Yeah, J, I got that.' He looked back at Loki the dragon- because apparently that was something that Loki could fucking do . 'A dragon, really?'

More smoke words.

I was going to choose some type of bird form, but I figured that you'd just fly past.

Tony chuckled. 'Yeah, okay; a dragon definitely caught my attention.'

Loki suddenly jerked his head to the right and then lifted higher into the air before turning, his body sliding through the air gracefully. Tony raised an eyebrow but followed when Loki started flying away; he even slowed down so Tony could follow.

Loki led them to a rooftop and transformed halfway through a dive; suddenly he was wearing his Asgardian armour, black hair whipping around his head as he fell the last ten or so feet. He landed on the roof in a crouch and rolled, easily straightening to his feet afterwards. Tony landed a lot less gracefully and flipped Loki off even before raising his faceplate.

'Show off,' he scowled. Loki chuckled. 'Okay; what the fuck was that?' Tony demanded as he walked towards Loki, his boots crushing whatever was beneath his feet.

'I don't like awakening alone, Stark,' Loki said, 'especially when I went to sleep in rather high spirits.'

Tony put on an exaggerated pout, making Loki smirk. 'Aww, did Lo-Lo miss Tony?'

'Shut up, you filthy mortal!' Loki snapped, but his tone was more affectionate than anything, so Tony grinned and closed the remaining distance between them. He pressed a kiss to Loki's lips- and, awesome, the Iron Man suit made him almost as tall as Loki- and Loki easily returned the gesture.

'Dragon,' Tony said when they broke apart, 'awesome.'

'Shapeshifter,' was Loki's response.

'So are there dragons on Asgard?' Tony asked.

'Not Asgard, no,' Loki shook his head. 'But on other realms. I may take you one day; they are fascinating creatures.'

'Yeah,' Tony breathed. He had a feeling that real dragons would be a bit bigger than Loki's form, but whatever. Motherfucking dragons! 'So, you just decided to pop out and have a fly with me?' he asked.

Loki shrugged one shoulder and walked towards the edge of the roof. There was no wall; nothing to stop anyone falling right off the edge. Behind them were a few maintenance rooms, some air-cons, and whatever else people stuck atop skyscrapers to keep them running. He figured that nobody but maintenance staff were allowed up here; hence, no need for a wall.

'I was suddenly hit with the urge to look across this city,' Loki said when Tony joined him.

'Oh?' Tony hummed.

'Mm,' Loki nodded once. 'Soon, this will all be ours.'

Tony giggled; he couldn't help it. 'Everything the light touches will be our kingdom.' Loki just turned to him, one eyebrow going up. 'Okay, seriously; movie day,' Tony decided. 'I make hilariously awesome jokes, you gotta appreciate them.'

'Mm,' Loki repeated.

'Anyway,' Tony cleared his throat and let his own eyes glance down at the city before them. 'I already own this city.'

'Indeed,' Loki agreed. 'However, soon we shall own it completely. No SHIELD rushing about pretending to claim ownership; no Avengers trying to defend it and hinder our plans; no backwards villains vying to be the best.'

Tony snickered. 'You know, the Avengers were worried that you'd start working with von Doom.'

'Excuse me?' Loki rounded on the genius, looking thoroughly pissed off. 'I would never lower myself so much as to work with someone like Victor. He talks about himself in third person!'

'That's what I said!' Tony nodded. 'Clint made some comment about you both using magic, and I said that Doom's “magic” was child's play when compared to yours. I said that no real sorcerer-'

'Mage,' Loki corrected.

'Mage,' Tony rolled his eyes, 'no self-respecting mage would actually work with someone as unskilled as Doom. Especially considering that Doom's a mortal.'

'Exactly,' Loki sniffed, eyes finding the city once more. 'I don't work with mortals.'

'So I've heard,' Tony laughed.

Loki smiled faintly, his eyes still on the city, and they fell into silence; both men- immortals- just... staring, in silence. Usually, Tony wasn't good with silence. He blasted music very, very loudly whenever he worked. When he didn't want music, the clanking of his tools, the whir of his computers, was enough to drown out the silence. At night it was whatever warm body he'd decided to pull into his bed, or the tick, tick, tick of the digital alarm clock he'd purposely built to make the ticking noise. He hadn't done well with silence when he was younger, and he sure as hell hadn't done well with it after Afghanistan and that fucking wormhole.

But now, just standing with Loki by his side, it was... okay. Oh, there were the vague sounds of traffic bellow; of people still rushing about despite it being near eleven o'clock at night. But for the most part, just silence... and Tony was okay with it.

'You're in a weird mood tonight,' Tony commented after at least fifteen minutes of silence; and really, he should be given a medal for staying quiet that long.

'Mm,' Loki hummed, yet again.

'The dragon; the looking,' Tony continued. 'What gives?'

'I suppose that some part of me will mourn the loss of this... quiet, when we attack SHIELD,' Loki admitted. 'I usually abhor silence; it makes my skin itch. But I feel the need to look across at this city, right now, before we truly put our action into plan. This city- this world- has no idea what is about to happen.'

Yeah, Tony could kind of understand that. He wasn't about to make Iron Man a villain; he was building a suit, one that looked different in all the ways that counted, so that he could fight with Loki without the media catching wind of the fact that he and Loki had teamed up. SHIELD would know; and they'd no doubt try and sell Tony out to the media. But Tony owned this planet; they'd believe anything he said.

So yeah, while Tony owned the planet, he didn't own it in the way that he and Loki were planning; not yet. Soon he and Loki would own it completely; they'd destroy SHIELD and the Security Council and all the little villains running around thinking that they even had a chance of owning Midgard. Midgard would belong completely to Tony and Loki, and the world would have no idea.

'Now I'm in a weird mood,' Tony muttered. Loki chuckled beside him. 'No, seriously,' Tony said. 'You've got me thinking deep, Lo'. I don't like it. I'm supposed to be shallow.'

'My apologies,' Loki smirked, not looking apologetic in the slightest. 'I just felt the need to get out and... see. If that makes sense.'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. It did. At least to Tony it did. 'The calm before the storm,' he murmured.

'Indeed,' Loki agreed.

'The Avengers will be back soon,' Tony said, deciding to change the topic. He'd been meaning to talk to Loki about this all day, but he'd forgotten; they'd had more important things to discuss. And there'd been the sex. Oh, Tony loved the sex.

Loki just raised both eyebrows, clearing waiting for Tony to continue.

'Steve had some Avengers-related publicity thing in Vegas. His flight gets in around midday tomorrow. Bruce is on the Helicarrier doing something super-secret SHIELD-related that Fury thinks I don't know about, but JARVIS tells me he'll be back tomorrow afternoon. Black Widow and Hawkeye are due the day after that, and I have no frickin' idea when Thor's getting back.'

'He can preform his Royal duties in two or three weeks, depending on what crises his attention needs,' Loki said. 'He's been on Asgard for... seventeen days, so he should be back by the end of the week.'

''Kay.'

'I had your computer- JARVIS- set up a fake address for Logan Thomas,' Loki continued, and Tony raised his eyebrows, turning to look at the god. 'I thought it prudent to have a former address before Logan moves into your Tower; something we both overlooked when first creating my alias.'

'Ah,' Tony hummed. 'Should I be concerned that you and my AI are getting along so well?'

Loki smirked; his lips slowly curling, eyes narrowing a bit, poison-green eyes sweeping over the city. 'Perhaps,' was all he said.

Tony snorted. Whatever. JARVIS would never betray him. And neither would Loki; not after their little contract was signed.

'JARVIS has been ordered not to mention your presence unless it's in relation to Logan and Lily,' Tony said, 'so you can hang around until Steve gets back, if you want.'

'Perhaps I should meet some of your team as Logan before I move in?' Loki suggested. 'That way they at least know me a little before you suddenly have me living there.'

'Yeah, good idea,' Tony agreed. 'I was thinking you can hang around on and off for about a month before moving in? Then introduce the idea of me getting an assistant.'

Loki just nodded and they fell into silence once more. It was comfortable, though, like before. Tony wasn't used to comfortable silences with people. He even started to fidget in Pepper's company after a few minutes.

'Well,' Tony finally breathed out, 'wanna head back? Maybe have a snack- 'cause seriously, I'm fucking starving- and maybe throw in a shower... and some sex. I really want sex.'

Loki chuckled and turned bodily, now facing Tony. 'You aren't subtle in the least, Mr Stark.'

'Do I really need to be?' Tony leered, letting his eyes wash over Loki from head to toe.

Loki's lips curled. 'Not at all.' He either stepped forward or teleported the distance between them, Tony had no idea, because suddenly his mouth was claimed in a rather rough, possessive kiss that made his Iron Man suit a bit uncomfortable. Hmm, he'd have to build a little bulge into the crotch of the next one if Loki was gonna keep this up.

They bit at each other's lips, and Loki clawed at Tony's neck while Tony tugged at Loki's hair non-to-gently. When they broke apart, both gasping for air and sporting very swollen lips- Tony was sure that his were bleeding- Loki cocked his head.

'Shall I teleport us, or would you rather fly?'

'Fly,' Tony answered immediately, smiling at the taller man. 'Unless your little dragon form can't keep up with me?'

Loki scowled, but it was more playful than anything, so Tony kept grinning. 'Oh, I'll show you just how fast I can be, Stark,' Loki growled. He bit Tony's mouth again before leaping back, right off the fucking edge of the building. Tony scrambled forward and looked down just in time to see Loki change; there was no flash of magic, no limbs shifting or changing; suddenly Loki was gone, replaced with a dragon just a bit bigger than Thor. Smoke shot from its nostrils as it rose up, Tony barely making out its shape in the ink black sky.

And then Loki wheeled around and shot through the air, heading towards Stark Tower, and Tony grinned. 'Not today, Green Eyes,' he said before shooting after Loki, his faceplate slamming down. There was no way he'd let Loki beat him in a race.

And, if he happened to win only because he shot Loki down just before the god could reach the helipad of Stark Tower, well... he certainly paid for it twenty minutes later. He was sure that he'd have the bathroom tiles imprinted into his back for all eternity, but it was so worth it.

Chapter Text

'Sir, I suggest that you wake. Preferably within the next fifteen seconds.'

Tony groaned and rolled over. Loki shifted beside him, muttering something that sounded like, “I will murder you if you move again”, but his voice was muffled by a pillow, so Tony wasn't quite sure. He'd bet his suits that it was some type of threat, anyway.

'J, go 'way,' Tony grumbled. He rubbed his face against Loki's back- he was apparently using the god as a pillow, shut up, Loki was comfy!- and pressed a kiss to Loki's shoulder. 'Sleepin'.'

'Sir, it's twelve twenty-three pm, and Captain Rogers is on his way up,' JARVIS said.

Tony shot right up, sleep suddenly forgotten, and was then promptly kicked out of bed.

'Ow!' he groaned and glared up at Loki, who'd moved so he could peer at Tony over the mattress.

'I did warn you,' Loki said.

Okay, no; just no. Loki looked way too adorable all sleep-tousled for Tony to take him seriously.

'Sir, Captain Rogers will reach the penthouse in twenty-one seconds,' JARVIS chimed in.

'Fuck,' Tony groaned and jumped to his feet. 'Why are you letting him up when you know Loki's here?' he demanded.

'You didn't explicitly order me to keep anybody out of the penthouse if Mr Lie-smith was present,' JARVIS replied. 'And you did say that you wanted to be woken when Captain Rogers arrived back in the Tower, sir.'

'Don't get smart with me, JARVIS,' Tony grumbled as he went through his drawers, looking for sweats or jeans to put on over his nakedness. He eventually found boxer-briefs and tugged them on, while behind him Loki sat up and yawned.

'I am what you made me, sir,' JARVIS drawled, before, 'Captain Rogers is now in the penthouse, sir.'

'Fuck!' Tony turned quickly, but Loki had already changed; he was Logan, now, his hair short and blonde, the curls frizzy from sleep. He winked at Tony before sliding out of bed and waving a hand; now clad in sweats and nothing else, he strolled across the room and wrapped his arms around Tony's waist from behind, resting his chin on Tony's shoulder.

'I should stop using so much magic; Thor will be returning soon,' he murmured and pressed a kiss to Tony's neck.

'Tony?' That was Steve. And Tony was still half-naked. Awesome.

'Just a minute!' Tony shouted and went back to hunting for some pants. 'Lok- Logan, stop it!' he hissed when Loki slid a hand beneath his underwear, gripping his cock. And little Tony- figure of speech, 'cause Tony was well-proportioned, thank you very much- twitched in interested, which really wasn't helping either.

'I'm not trying to be helpful,' Loki smirked. But he gave Tony another quick kiss before stepping back, and Tony actually managed to get some jeans on before Steve appeared.

'You're actually up?' Steve said from just down the hallway. 'Huh, I thought you'd be-' He cut himself off when he glanced into the room and saw Loki- Logan, whatever. Steve had been really fucking confused the first time he'd run into one of Tony's male one-night stands, but it happened so often that he'd learned to live with it. He didn't like it- he didn't like the way Tony treated anyone like they were disposable- but he'd gotten used to it.

He still blushed like a twelve-year-old and hastily averted his eyes.

'Oh, um... sorry,' he murmured.

'Not a problem,' Loki smiled.

'I'll just, ah... wait in the kitchen.' Steve left before Tony could say anything, and Loki snickered into his hand.

'You're an a-hole,' Tony muttered.

'But of course,' Loki smirked. 'What did you expect?'

Tony rolled his eyes and grabbed a shirt, tugging it on as he made his way towards the door. 'Coming?' he asked over his shoulder. 'Might as well introduce boyfriend Logan as soon as possible.'

'Partner, Stark!' Loki hissed. 'As I told you last night; I have no wish to be called your boyfriend.'

'Yeah, yeah,' Tony flapped a hand. 'Come on, I'm hungry.'

'You're always hungry.'

'And who's fault is that?'

'You're the one who wanted the Apple.'

'SHHH!' Tony hissed, making Loki smirk.

'Captain Rogers is currently in the kitchen,' Loki said. 'He can't hear me.'

'Still,' Tony grumbled, 'you can't be too careful. Especially with Clint and Natasha around.'

'Who currently aren't around,' Loki commented.

'I hate you,' Tony declared and proceeded to stomp down the hallway.

'You are such a child,' Loki sighed, but was smiling as he followed. Really, Stark was so much like him it was amazing.

'Am not,' Tony shot back. Which really didn't help his argument, but whatever; he was hungry. He'd grown used to feeling half-starved over the past few days, and Tony knew that he had to watch himself when around the Avengers. Usually he'd eat one, maybe two pieces of toast for breakfast. He currently felt like eating six, but he'd just having something else when Steve left. Which reminded him; he had to put in an order for some food, and a mini fridge for the lab.

Tony made a mental note and entered the kitchen. His penthouse had been equipped with everything Tony needed; which meant a bedroom, bar, a small, personal lab for his more sensitive projects, and a kitchen. There were a few other, smaller rooms- offices and maybe a library- but Tony never used them.

Just because he had a kitchen didn't mean there was anything in the kitchen apart from some frozen pizzas, ice, and cereal. Tony liked cereal.

'Hey, Stevie,' Tony called.

The Captain was sitting at the kitchen counter, a box to his left and mug of coffee to his right. Coffee didn't really affect Steve, but he liked drinking it anyway; something about the taste making him feel more alert. Tony didn't get it. Coffee didn't really taste that great, Tony just liked the caffeine jolt.

'Tony,' Steve nodded, but his eyes were on Loki.

'So, you've met Logan,' Tony said and went to the coffee machine to pour himself a cup. He looked at Loki, who nodded, and poured the god one, too.

'Not properly,' Steve said. He held out his hand when Loki got closer, smile tight. 'Steve Rogers.'

Loki's left eye twitched and Tony had to bite back a snicker. The Trickster shook Steve's hand, saying, 'Logan Thomas,' before quickly dropping it. He slid onto a stool opposite Steve and smiled brightly when Tony handed him a coffee. 'Thank you, my dear.'

Tony snorted at that but didn't say a word as he sat beside Loki.

'So...' Steve hummed and looked pointedly between them.

'Yeah, Logan isn't going anywhere,' Tony said, making Steve's eyebrows jump. 'We're dating.'

'Dating,' Steve echoed, looking confused.

'I can date,' Tony pouted. 'Just ask Pepper.'

Steve sighed slightly and Tony rolled his eyes while the Captain wasn't looking. Here we go, he thought.

'Pepper's worried,' Steve said.

Yeah, she was always worried, nothing new there. Tony and Pepper's relationship had been strained at the best of times, but it'd taken a nose dive after Loki's invasion. Why Pepper had been surprised that Iron Man almost died during the invasion, Tony had no idea. He almost died practically every second week. If she couldn't deal with it, she shouldn't have started dating Tony in the first place.

She was still the CEO of his company, but their personal relationship was non-existent. They rarely ever talked unless Stark Industries paperwork was involved. Tony had been surprised to find that he didn't miss her all that much. Sure, Pepper was great most of the time, but the nagging, the, “Tony, you aren't eating properly”, and, “Tony, you need sleep”, and blah, blah, blaahhhh. She treated him like was he five. Contrary to popular belief, Tony was an adult; he could take care of himself. He knew his limits, knew how long he could stay up and keep working before he really needed to sleep. Pepper's constant nagging had just pissed him off. He really didn't miss that.

'So?' Tony brushed Steve's concern aside and turned to Loki. 'Want a bagel?'

'Please,' Loki nodded, and looked on curiously as Tony stood. He grabbed three plates- because sometimes he could be nice- and got a few things from the fridge; cream cheese, jelly and butter. Both Steve and Bruce liked jelly on their bagels, while Tony liked cream cheese.

Loki clearly had no idea what a bagel was, but watched Tony cut one in half and spread cream cheese over the two halves, before doing the same to his own. He chewed thoughtfully for a few seconds before trying it with butter, then jelly. He stuck to cream cheese after that, and Tony smirked; ha, Loki liked bagels like he did! For some reason it felt like an accomplishment.

Steve was clearly itching to talk about Pepper, but seemed to realise that Tony had no plans to continue the conversation. Sometimes Steve had tact, so he cleared his throat after a sip of coffee and changed the topic. 'How long have you two been... dating?'

'Few weeks,' Tony said.

'We met at a bar,' Loki said, smiling slightly at Tony. There was a mischievous glint in his eyes that Tony tried not to return; he was trying to trick Steve, after all. It wouldn't do for him to break down in a fit of giggles.

'We hit it off,' Tony shrugged, 'and I asked him out.'

'I see,' Steve said, even though he clearly didn't. Which was understandable; Tony wasn't well known for dating.

'I'm well aware of Anthony's reputation,' Loki said, drawing Steve's attention, 'but he soon found that I don't share.'

'And why would I want to?' Tony said with a grin in Loki's direction. 'You're more than enough for me, baby.'

'Of course I am,' Loki huffed, making Tony snicker.

'Tony, how long do you think you and Logan will be... together?' Steve asked slowly. Tony raised his eyebrows. Was Steve seriously asking for an expiration date on their relationship? 'Because we have some things to... discuss,' Steve finished.

Oh... oh. Steve wanted to talk business.

'Logan's cool,' Tony said.

'I can make myself scarce, if you wish,' Loki said right after him.

'I'm not letting Steve run you out,' Tony said, but Loki just smiled.

'I need to change, anyway,' Loki said and gestured at his clothing. He was still only wearing sweats, nothing else, and though Tony liked the view, Steve clearly felt uncomfortable. 'You two talk,' Loki said and gave Tony a kiss, Steve a sweet-smile- which was so fake Tony almost burst out laughing- before leaving.

'Well, thank you, Captain Cock-block,' Tony huffed, turning to a slightly blushing Steve. He was better with the whole “everyone has sex these days” mentality of the 21st century, but he was still a bit uncomfortable around Tony and his one-nighters. Or around Tony and men the billionaire had had sex with, really. The fact that it was Loki just made the whole thing a lot more hilarious in Tony's eyes.

'Tony, we really need to talk,' Steve said, clearly trying to make Tony see the seriousness of the situation.

'And you could have talked with Logan here,' Tony replied. 'Honestly, it's not like he was asking for SHIELD secrets.'

'Tony.'

'Steve.'

The super soldier sighed and rubbed his eyes. 'Tony, I heard about the Doom-bots you fought the other day.'

Ah, yes; that fight. Clint and Natasha were still in another country, Bruce was being super-secret on the Helicarrier, and Steve had just gotten to Vegas. That had left Tony and only Tony to deal with the dozen Doom-bots that a-hole Victor had let loose in Brooklyn. Tony had been a bit suspicious when everyone had suddenly jetted off to wherever the hell they were needed; usually Fury was consistent, leaving at least two Avengers in New York city. What if there'd been a massive battle? Tony was good, but he wasn't that good. If von Doom had let out another thirty or so bots, Tony would have gotten his ass kicked.

'I'm fine,' Tony shrugged one shoulder and sipped his coffee. 'There were only twelve or thirteen bots, and Doom wasn't anywhere to be seen. I took care of them before anyone died.' There had been a few injuries, but nothing serious.

'But some SHIELD agents reported that you played with a few of the bots before destroying them,' Steve said.

Yes, well... how else was Tony supposed to study them if he didn't watch their movements and how they were controlled? He'd even managed to get almost a whole one into his lab. One of the arms was missing, and part of the right leg, but there was enough for Tony to study.

'So?' Tony shrugged again.

'Tony,' Steve said, his voice inching towards exasperation, 'I know that you want to study them, but there were civilians in danger. One of the buildings was still full.'

'An office building,' Tony said, waving a dismissive hand. 'They got a good show.'

'The bot you were playing with broke a woman's arm!' Steve near-snapped. Ooh, he was getting angry.

'And I destroyed it before she could be hurt any further,' Tony argued. 'Come on, Steve; how often do I get a chance to actually study Doom's technology? His bots are just getting better and better every time we fight them. If we don't kill him soon, his bots will be perfected to match our fighting styles. Do you want the team to die?'

'No, I don't!' Steve groaned. 'But I'd rather get injured myself than have a civilian in the hospital. We signed up for this; they didn't.'

Yeah, no; Tony didn't sign up for this. He'd never wanted to play super hero. Iron Man was created to help Tony, not the general population. What the hell had they ever done for him? All they wanted was to read about his fuck-ups and every little thing he did during the day. The media slandered him at every opportunity and civilians lapped it up, agreeing with everything like the good little herd they were. Tony had never wanted to be a hero; he'd never wanted to be an Avenger.

But he'd joined forces with the others when they'd needed him; when someone far too powerful had threatened to take over his planet. He would have been more than happy to walk away from SHIELD and their little boy-band as soon as Loki was carted off, but SHIELD had been the ones who'd sent the other Avengers to live with him; Fury was the one who'd decided that it'd be just a great idea to try and steal Tony's technology. Apparently seeing Tony fight during the invasion had scared the Security Council enough to finally take action; now they knew without a doubt that Tony was dangerous.

They should have realised it long before Iron Man, but Tony didn't care. They'd pay.

'Whatever,' Tony muttered.

'Tony,' Steve sighed and leaned forward, arms braced on the counter, 'we're just worried.'

'Who's worried?' Tony asked. 'Fury?' He almost snorted at the thought. No, Fury would lock Tony up if he could to keep him out of the way. All Fury was worried about was Tony going insane and taking over the planet... which, now that Tony was planning that, was a valid worry, really.

'The team,' Steve stated.

Oh, this again. If it wasn't “Pepper's worried”, then it was, “the team doesn't want you burning yourself out”. Really, Steve couldn't be more obvious if he painted it on his forehead; Fury didn't want Tony on the team.

'Yeah, okay,' Tony laughed and stood to get more coffee. He jammed the rest of his bagel into his mouth, ignoring the disgusted look on Steve's face.

'Honestly, Tony, we're worried,' Steve continued now that Tony's mouth was full. Tony rolled his eyes at the coffee maker. 'You've been locking yourself in your lab more often, and in fights you're always all over the place. Maybe you should take a break.'

Swallowing thickly, Tony said, 'And, what? Let Doom's bots rampage around New York?' He shook his head. 'If Fury didn't want me fighting, then he shouldn't have left me in the city alone.'

'It's not Fury,' Steve tried.

'Uh-huh,' Tony murmured. Steve was the most obvious pawn in Fury's little game. Clint and Natasha were trained spies; assassins. Tony wouldn't have known what they were up to if he hadn't hacked into SHIELD's database. Steve? Steve outed himself the moment he started insisting that Tony take a break.

“Just a week or two, Tony.”

“Go back to Malibu for a while.”

“Get some rest.”

“We'll take care of the Tower.”

Ha, ha. Like Tony would leave the Avengers alone in his Tower. Fury would be in before Tony's car left the street.

Tony wasn't sure if Steve knew everything about Fury's plan; he wasn't sure if Steve knew that Fury wanted to get his hands on Iron Man and throw Tony in the gutter. But it didn't matter. Steve was still following Fury's orders. He'd still agreed to try and get Tony to quit the team. The two weren't friends, but Tony had thought that they were team mates. He hadn't thought that Steve would want him gone.

'We're just worried,' Steve tried again.

'Mm-hmm,' Tony muttered and turned. 'Steve, I'm fine. Really.' He wanted to shout and scream and throw his coffee in Steve's face; nobody fucked Tony around and got away with it. But there was a bigger picture here; Steve wasn't who Tony should concern himself with. He needed to stay on the team long enough to get all the information he and Loki needed. 'How about I take a break now that you're back, huh?' he suggested. Maybe that'd make Steve back off a bit. 'Unless I'm absolutely needed, I'll let you handle all emergencies, okay?'

Steve smiled slightly at that, and Tony bit back a sneer. Asshole.

'That's good, Tony,' Steve nodded. 'Maybe you and... Logan, could go do something? Just relax.'

'Yeah, sounds fun,' Tony gave Steve a fake smile.

Loki, thankfully, chose that moment to re-enter the kitchen, now wearing dark-wash jeans and a green sweater. Damn, he was one sexy god.

Loki raised an eyebrow at the sudden silence that had fallen, and swept his pale-blue eyes over Tony. 'Am I interrupting anything?' he asked, clearly sensing the decline in Tony's mood.

'Nope; me and Stevie are done,' Tony said. 'Hey, Lo', wanna see my lab?' He wiggled his eyebrows, mostly because that's what Steve expected; he expected Tony to drag Loki downstairs and fuck him. He didn't expect Tony to show Loki a new project that he'd thought up the night before.

'I need to get back to work soon, but yes,' Loki inclined his head.

'What do you do?' Steve asked, ever the interested little boy-scout.

'I'm a writer,' Loki lined, turning to smile at Steve. 'I'm yet to be published, but I enjoy the art.'

Writer, huh. Good cover story. SHIELD wouldn't be able to disprove it, and Tony had already made it look like Logan Thomas came from a fairly wealthy family; he'd been living off of his inheritance since he turned twenty-one.

'Yeah, lovely chat, let's go,' Tony said and threaded his arm through Loki's. Loki dragged him towards the counter and grabbed two bagels before letting Tony lead him from the kitchen. They were silent as they walked, Tony only groaning when were alone in the lift. 'Fucking asshole,' he growled.

'Mm, I'm inclined to agree,' Loki said.

'Were you listening?' Tony asked, turning to see a smirk spread across Loki's face.

'Thor won't be back for a few days,' Loki explained. 'Any spells I use, as long as they are small, won't be detected by him. I can see why you dislike the Captain; he's rather tedious.'

'He's an asshole,' Tony repeated.

'Does he know that Fury wants your suits?' Loki asked.

'I have no idea,' Tony shrugged. 'But he's still trying to get me to quit. If he doesn't know, then Fury no doubt spun some tale about me being a danger to myself and others. Steve's handy in a fight, and he's loyal, but he follows orders when they make sense to him.'

'Orders,' Loki snorted. 'Why listen to someone else when you can set your own path?'

'And that, Lo',' Tony said as the elevator doors opened, 'is why I'm sleeping with you and not Steve.'

Loki froze at that, and Tony turned to look at him.

'Lokes?'

'You wish to sleep with the Captain?' Loki demanded.

'What?' Tony laughed. 'God, no.'

'You said-'

'He's good-looking, yeah,' the genius interrupted, 'but it'd be like sleeping with... with Thor! Big, blonde and good aren't really my thing, especially when it comes to men.' He stepped back, closer to Loki, and smiled at him. 'I prefer my men tall, lean, and fucking insane.'

Loki finally cracked a smile and followed Tony down the hallway. They entered his lab and Tony said, 'J, lock down the lab, yeah? No one in unless you pass it by me first.'

'Yes, sir,' JARVIS responded.

'Has SHIELD tried to crack into anything today?' Tony asked as he moved about, shifting this and that, leaving Loki to take a seat at one of the tables.

'Two attempts today, Mr Stark,' JARVIS answered. 'SHIELD seems to be concentrating on your mental health this week.'

'Ah,' Tony grimaced. That meant that Steve- or someone else- would be suggesting another visit to SHIELD's doctors. Honestly, every ten seconds someone from SHIELD wanted to crack his skull open. 'Hey, Loki, can someone tell that I'm a god now from my blood or anything?' Tony asked, turning to face Loki.

Loki had been playing with a holographic monitor- he'd taken to the internet like a teenager- but looked up at Tony's question. 'Pardon?'

'You know how doctors work on Midgard, right?' Tony questioned. 'Like, how we take blood and tissue samples, etc...'

'I'm vaguely familiar with your healers' ways, yes,' Loki nodded. 'I couldn't discuss it with you in detail, however.'

'Will me being immortal show up in my blood, or any scan?' Tony asked.

Loki frowned at that and tilted his head, thinking. 'I believe that your blood may show some abnormalities, yes,' he finally said. 'The Apples change your metabolism and the way your body reacts to pain, toxins, food and drink. However, unless SHIELD compared your blood to Thor's, or my own, they wouldn't automatically assume that you are now a god. Thor believes Iðunn's Apples to be secure. And while the garden is, the Apples left in bowls throughout Asgard are not. Thor would have no reason to believe that you are now like him.'

'Hmm,' Tony hummed and turned to face his own screen.

'A very thorough look at your body would reveal the changes,' Loki continued. 'The Apple healed a lot of the damage done to your body by age, alcohol and battle. Those changes would show up on whatever in-depth tests you Midgardians use.'

'I got it,' Tony nodded. 'Don't let them get my blood; don't let them cut me open or scan me.'

'You will also have to watch yourself in battle,' Loki added. 'It will take a lot to hurt you, and any small injuries you suffer- such as bruises and cuts- will heal within a few minutes or hours depending on the severity. That may draw attention.'

'Maybe I can tell them I'm fucking with Extremis,' Tony mused. SHIELD had swiped most of the information, but Tony had, of course, kept his own copies. He'd already been looking into making himself semi-immortal before Loki offered him a Golden Apple.

'Extremis?' Loki asked, looking curious.

Tony grinned and pulled up the information before flicking it over to Loki's monitor. Loki blinked at the sudden information now scrolling before him before smiling broadly.

'I really do love your technology,' he commented. 'You are so far ahead of others in your field.'

'Duh,' Tony snorted. 'You should see what they do when I walk into an Apple store.'

Loki had no idea what Apple was, so Tony pulled up the Wikipedia page. After that he and the god fell into discussion after discussion of Midgardian technology, and what other Realms used instead.

Tony made a note to visit some of those Realms when SHIELD was taken care of. A Dwarf was something he just had to see.

Chapter Text

'I keep telling you that it'll be easier for me to find my magic if I can detect magic first!'

'And I keep telling you that it's much easier to sample your own magic before others!'

Tony growled in frustration and ran a hand through his hair. Opposite him, Loki tapped repeatedly at the table-top, long fingers itching to wrap around Tony's neck, the inventor knew. They'd been discussing this for hours. Well, they'd been arguing for hours, in all honesty. But Tony hadn't had an argument this intelligent and clever in... ever.

Bruce came the closest, of course. But despite his excellent anger management skills, even Bruce couldn't deal with Tony for more than five hours without needing to step out. Loki had a much better handle on his emotions, and could fight Tony with just as many vicious words. And there was heavy flirting involved. Despite how much Tony loved Bruce, he had no interest in sleeping with jolly green.

Two of their “discussions” had already led to Tony bent over a work bench, Loki taking him from behind; the second involved Loki, Tony's mouth, and creative use of olive oil. Why Tony had olive oil down here was anyone's guess. Loki's guess- wild imagination, really- had almost led to round three, but despite Tony's recent consumption of a magical apple, his libido hadn't yet increased. Loki had said it would, give or take a week or three.

Five rounds a night with Loki... Tony daydreamed as Loki sighed and slammed his palm against the table.

'Stark!'

'Yes, my love?' Tony quipped, earning a rather vicious glare. It was part vicious, part amused; Tony was learning how to tell the difference.

'If you can feel magic, you have a much higher chance of detecting it with your... toys,' Loki said.

Tony scowled. 'First of all, these aren't toys, they're works of sheer brilliance!'

'Really?' Loki questioned and looked at DUM-E, who was currently trying to...

'DUM-E, stop that!' Tony ordered.

The bot immediately dropped the fire extinguisher and backed away from Tony, arm dangling and a soft, dejected whirring noise escaping its claw.

'I swear to all that is Holy you have an unnatural love of fire extinguishers!' Tony snapped, which of course just made DUM-E whine that much more pathetically. 'Never again, DUM, never again!' Tony growled.

'I like him,' Loki mused, looking far too happy about the situation. 'Especially after he blasted you.'

Yeah... DUM-E seemed to confuse “on fire” and “grabbing olive oil” as the same thing. He'd showered Tony in foul, sticky white-foam just before round two with Loki.

'Look,' Tony tried again to get his point across, 'even if I learn to... to detect magic myself, that won't help me with my scanners. You said that detecting magic is a feeling, like someone detecting a small electric current going through their body.' Loki nodded. 'How the hell am I supposed to describe that to my computers?' Tony questioned. 'They've never had magic run through them, at least not to my knowledge, unless you've been zapping my shit while I was getting changed.'

Loki muttered something under his breath in another language, and Tony's eyes narrowed. 'Hey, we speak English in this lab!' he ordered. 'Sometimes other languages, but only to swear.'

'I was swearing,' Loki admitted, throwing a small smile Tony's way. 'If you have magic I shall gift you with the All-Speak, it will make life much easier.'

'And if I don't have magic?' Tony asked. 'If I can't “harness it” or whatever the hell you said?'

'Than it will be extremely dangerous,' Loki answered. 'It's a magic that works quickly, but it can destroy a weak mind. Your mind, however, is far from weak.'

'Duh,' Tony rolled his eyes.

'The ego on you,' Loki muttered.

'Pot, meet kettle,' Tony retorted.

'I have no idea what that means,' Loki said, but moved on swiftly. 'Fine, build your little machine.'

'Are you going to help?' Tony asked.

Loki sighed, like Tony had just asked the Trickster to bring him the Statue of Liberty. Although, knowing Loki, he'd do it just for shits and giggles. 'Fine,' Loki drawled, 'what would you have me do?'

'Okay,' Tony immediately bounced to his feet, excitement coursing through him. He'd tried to build scanners in the past, ever since the Chitauri invasion and Loki's re-appearance on Earth, but he hadn't been having much luck. His scanners only worked over a certain range, and Loki had never conveniently attacked in Tony's lab. Now, Tony had his very own magician, offering to help. He was being a dick about it, but still; Tony had expected that. 'Just go stand over there,' Tony said and waved to the one free wall. There were cars to the left, tables and Iron Man suits to the right, as well as whatever projects Tony was half-working on.

Loki stood gracefully- 'cause he was a bitch and always amazing- and briskly strolled across to the area Tony had pointed to. Tony quickly rushed around the lab, grabbing the various magic detectors he'd been working on. A few were as large as a microwave, others as small as a pistol. Tony had never had a test subject so wasn't sure if they'd work. He'd find out now.

'What must I do?' Loki asked again as Tony set everything up on the closest work bench.

'Just stand there until I tell you to do a spell,' Tony said. 'DUM-E, PUT THAT DOWN!' The little fucker had gone for the fire extinguisher again, and quickly rolled away when Tony threw a spanner at him. 'You sit in your dock and think about what you've done, young man!' Tony ordered.

'You amuse me,' Loki said, a soft smile on his lips. Huh, no joking there; he was serious.

'Glad to be of service, Your Highness,' Tony bowed from the waist down. Loki chuckled. 'Okay...' Tony muttered to himself as he turned everything on, trying to attune each scanner to Loki. 'We'll start small. Give me a very easy spell.'

Loki held his right palm out and in seconds a small, green ball of magic appeared, swirling various shades of green and black. Tony quickly pounced on his scanners, twisting this, pressing that, while Loki just waited, looking incredibly bored.

'Nothing,' Tony growled. 'Okay, give me something big.'

Loki grinned.

'Don't destroy my lab!' Tony snapped, making Loki pout. 'Not only is this my special place, but Steve's in the Tower.'

'You annoy me,' Loki muttered, (Tony pouted, he wasn't amusing anymore?) but then Loki shimmered, and suddenly there were five Lokis instead of one.

Tony blinked. 'Huh.'

'See something you like, Mr Stark?' Loki queried.

'Yeah...' Tony hummed. He shifted a bit, because hello. Loki orgy, that's what this was.

'Perhaps round three?' Loki asked, taking a step forward, followed by the other Lokis doing the same.

'Hey, wait, no!' Tony snapped, holding a hand out. The Lokis stopped. 'Bit more magic, alright?'

'Very well,' Loki drawled, 'however I've never been known for my patience.'

The Loki to the furthest right ran a hand down his chest, stopping just above his jeans.

Tony swallowed but focused on his scanners. Fucking Loki... s.



{oOo}

 

Seventeen hours later and Tony had had no luck whatsoever. No matter what spell Loki cast, whether simple or complicated, Tony's scanners just failed to pick it up. There were readings from Tony's workshop, from Tony's reactor- hell, even Loki's heartbeat had shown up on one- as well as background radiation from the world in general. But magic? No. There was absolutely no readings to suggest that Tony could detect magic.

It pissed him off to no end, but Loki let him take out his frustrations in a highly pleasurable way that left them gasping and covered in sweat, curled up on the sofa in the far corner of the lab. The thing was falling apart- Tony had had it for at least twenty years- but it was comfortable when needed.

Loki stretched- all graceful, jerk- and then flopped back onto the very tight space, one arm thrown sloppily over Tony's waist. 'Hnn,' Loki murmured, nuzzling Tony's chest, fingers tracing the arc reactor. 'I do enjoy your temper.'

'Yeah, yeah,' Tony muttered, but only because he agreed. He wouldn't let Loki win every argument, after all.

'Will you allow me to teach you magic, now?' Loki asked.

Tony sighed. 'Give me two weeks, okay? Two weeks of trying to refine my scanners.' It was Loki's turn to sigh. 'Either I can detect magic or can't. Either way, you still get to teach me,' Tony said.

'Thor will be back by then,' Loki reminded the human. 'He will be able to detect magic if I help you locate it.'

'He'll detect it if I keep scanning for magic,' Tony retorted. 'Either way, we're fucked.'

'We'll have to move somewhere else,' Loki mused. 'My apartment, perhaps? There's no reason for Thor to visit Logan Thomas.'

'Yeah, maybe,' Tony murmured, eyes somewhere on the ceiling. JARVIS had dimmed the lights, and the glass walls of the lab were currently white-washed, hiding the two from view. While Tony didn't care if anyone caught them basking in post-coital bliss, he didn't need Steve seeing Loki. And Tony really, really liked fucking Loki over Logan, so...

They fell into silence for a bit; Tony staring at the ceiling, Loki tracing the scars around his arc reactor that the Apple couldn't fix. 'You are thinking,' Loki stated, rather than asked.

'Yeah,' Tony admitted. 'I just got an idea, is all.'

'Aren't you full of ideas?'

'Oh, yeah,' Tony repeated, this time with a smirk. 'It'll benefit both of us if it works. But I gotta fucking figure magic out.'

'Would you like to try again?' Loki asked.

Tony sighed. 'JARVIS, time?'

'Three forty am, sir,' JARVIS replied.

'You tired or hungry?' Tony asked.

'Famished,' Loki admitted and sat, Tony following.

'Steve'll be asleep. He keeps regular hours,' Tony said, unable to hide the disdain in his voice. Honestly, what super hero kept decent hours? It was absurd!

'Shall we order in?' Loki asked. 'Or is there enough food in the Tower?'

'Should be in the Avengers' kitchen,' Tony said. While the Avengers all had their own floors in the Tower, they usually congregated in Steve's kitchen. Steve was a decent cook- apparently his mama had taught him right or some such bullshit- so Steve's fridge and cupboards were always packed. 'Unless you had your heart set on something?'

'Oh, Anthony,' Loki chuckled as he stood, completely naked and unashamed. Tony leered, 'cause he was a pervert and could admit it. 'Haven't you heard?' Loki continued. 'I don't have a heart. And if I do, it's encased in ice.'

Tony frowned. Okay, that was so not true. Whoever had told Loki that- probably Thor or the All-Daddy- had probably said it when Loki had blown something up. The problem, Tony had quickly realised, was that Loki felt too deeply. Someone capable of that much anger, that much hurt , also felt all the good feelings ten times as strongly as the average person- Frost Giant, whatever. Loki loved with all his heart, when he gave it away. That was the problem. He'd loved his father and brother so much that he'd considered wiping out an entire realm just to prove how devoted he was.

And he'd been stabbed in the back.

Tony sighed and swung his legs over the sofa, only flinching slightly when his feet met the cold floor. He reached up and wrapped an arm around Loki's waist, dragging the god between his spread legs. Rather than turn it into something sexy, which Tony usually did, he instead pressed his lips against Loki's belly before burying his face there.

'Not true, Lo',' he murmured, voice soft. 'One day I'll prove that to you.'

Loki clearly had no idea what to say to that. He froze, arms hanging limply at his sides, before- after at least two minutes of an awkward hug/grope- he threaded his fingers through Tony's hair.

When he spoke, his tone matched Tony's; warm, soft, with an emotion that neither were willing to admit to, not so soon in their relationship. For now, things were good; things were comfortable. No need to complicate it yet.

Damn, had it only been a week?

'We should eat.'

'Mm,' Tony nodded, but didn't move.

'Stark.' Loki tugged on Tony's hair a bit.

'Yeah, yeah,' Tony grunted. He kissed Loki's tummy again, then gave it a nip just 'cause, which made Loki chuckle and shove his head away. The two stood and started dressing, Loki actually using his hands and not magic. 'So, food?' Tony said.

'I feel like noodles,' Loki decided, sweeping his hair back, but leaving it messy.

'I think Steve has a wok,' Tony said. 'You know how to use one of those?'

'Unlike Thor, I can follow direction,' Loki replied. 'If your JARVIS can talk me through it, then I shall have no problem.'

'Hear that, J?' Tony said as he and Loki walked towards the doors.

' Indeed, Mr Stark ,' JARVIS said. ' Let us hope that Mr Lie-Smith is a better cook than Master Odinson. '

Loki snorted and Tony said, 'I'm pretty sure Loki can heat up poptarts without blowing up the toaster.'

'Of course he did, stupid oaf,' Loki muttered under his breath. As soon as the windows of the lab went clear, Loki shifted into Logan. Tony sighed at the loss of Loki's bright green eyes and jet black hair, but just led the god to the elevator. After they ate they could retire to Tony's room, and Tony would get his Loki back.

Huh , Tony mused. Since when did he become my Loki?

He shook his head as the elevator doors closed. Food now, self-reflection later.

Chapter Text

 

All the friends I’ve lost and the pain I’ve caused

Have never been enough just to make me stop

The lines I draw to look at myself

Are turning into somebody else”

Takes Me Nowhere [The Offspring]



Tony was woken by the bed jolting beneath him. He sat upright, blinking blearily, hand ruffling his already messy hair. A soft chuckle made Tony turn, and he frowned when he realised that Loki was standing by the bed back in his leather garb. The horned helmet, chest and arm plates were gone, but his black leather pants, thick boots, and green tunic where hugging his lean form.

'What're you doin'?' Tony mumbled through a yawn.

'Despite what you may think, the world does not revolve around you, even Midgard,' Loki informed him. Tony scowled. 'I have business to attend to, Stark,' Loki continued. 'Business that cannot simply wait because of... us.'

'Oh,' Tony murmured. Right, he knew that. Loki was a super villain with super villain-y things to do. 'When will you be back?' he asked, yawning again.

Loki pursed his lips before saying, 'Two or three days, give or take. I must visit another realm and stay overnight, and I have to check on von Doom and ensure that he's keeping to our bargain.'

'Bargain?' Tony perked up. 'With Doom?'

'You did not think that you were the first to offer me a deal, did you?' Loki asked in amusement.

'You said you don't make deals with mortals,' Tony pouted. 'And here I thought I was special.'

Loki chuckled and climbed onto the bed, only far enough to lean over and kiss Tony softly. 'You are,' he whispered, making Tony shiver. 'However, what Victor and I have is nowhere close to what you and I have. I made Victor promise, on pain of death, that he would keep his activities away from this city. Sometimes I let him have his fun; mostly when I'm bored.'

''Course you do,' Tony snorted.

Loki smiled sweetly, and Tony snickered. 'The villains of this planet know better than to touch what's mine,' Loki said.

'And are the Avengers yours?' Tony questioned.

'Yes,' Loki answered without hesitation. 'You were formed to fight me, and fight me you have. If anybody kills your team mates, it will be me.'

'They aren't my team mates,' Tony grumbled, scratching at his beard.

'They are until our plans come to fruition,' Loki stated. He kissed Tony again and stood, the human sighing and watching. 'I'll... call you,' Loki said, the words sounding odd on his tongue. 'Thor will most likely be back before I am, and I have no wish for our partnership to be terminated so swiftly... or at all, in all honesty.'

'S'cause I'm lovable,' Tony said, giving Loki a cheeky smile. The god, of course, rolled his eyes.

'Until next time, Stark,' he said, a genuine smile on his face.

Tony smiled back, and then sighed when Loki teleported away, not a puff of smoke being left behind. Tony wondered if Loki only left smoke when he wanted people to be aware of his entrance or exit. It was like his shapeshifting; Tony had seen it maybe twice in battle, and there was always a few seconds of shifting, of limbs lengthening, before Loki did whatever it was he did. But when he'd been a dragon? Nothing; just Loki one second, a dragon the next.

Nobody knows what he's truly capable of, Man of Iron .

Those were Thor's words, said over and over again after every battle the Avengers had with Loki. Not even that all-seeing dude in the sky- Harmdel? Himdal?- knew what Loki could do. Tony wasn't surprised; Loki had spent his entire life, all one-thousand-something years, being made fun of. Of course he'd keep his skills to himself.

Of course, Thor's bullying didn't help, Tony thought. There was no doubt in Tony's mind that Thor did love his brother. But he loved the Loki that the Trickster had projected to Asgard for who knows how many hundreds of years; the Loki that smiled when needed, who gave advice when ordered, who had Asgard and her people's best interests at heart. Thor didn't love the real Loki; the broken, disgraced, dark Jötunn mage who would stab you if you betrayed him.

That wasn't “Loki” according to Thor. That was a dark, confused individual whom his brother had become. Tony really thought that Thor should just go home and leave Loki alone; forget about his long-lost brother and stop trying to change him. Loki would never be the person that Thor had once known. The sooner Thor accepted that, the better.

Oh, well , Tony thought as he pulled himself from bed. Thor's just another idiot warrior. Me and Loki should really send him back to Asgard . Tony spent his entire shower happily daydreaming about getting all of the Avengers trapped in the realm of the gods. He could only imagine Steve's horror at not being the most loyal good boy in the realm. It made him snicker.



{oOo}



'Heard you got yourself a boyfriend,' was what greeted Tony when he entered the kitchen on Steve's floor.

His eyebrows climbed when he noted that not only was Clint back, but Natasha and Bruce were, too. Bruce was slumped over the kitchen table, a large mug of tea gripped in his hands. Natasha was eating something- pancakes or waffles, Tony didn't care enough to look- while Clint was eating bacon and eggs.

'Any food left?' Tony asked instead of answering the archer, who chuckled into his plate.

'On the stove,' Steve spoke up from where he was going through the fridge; he kept his sauces cold, Tony didn't understand the man.

'Cool,' Tony said. He made himself up a plate, 'cause he really was starving. But he'd noted the night before that his hunger wasn't nearly as large as it had been directly after he'd eaten the Apple; he still ate more than he used to, but he didn't feel the need to shovel copious amounts of food down his throat every hour. Loki had said that the affects of the Apple would taper off between one and two weeks, and Tony was happy to note that he'd been telling the truth. It would be hard enough to keep his and Loki's relationship from the Avengers without him gorging himself every few hours.

'So?' Clint spoke again when Tony had taken a seat. He'd considered just leaving; he really didn't want to hang out with his so-called “friends”. But you never know what you might hear; what you might be able to use against someone. So Tony sat.

'So what?' he asked, chewing on a piece of bacon.

'Boyfriend?' Clint repeated, making Tony roll his eyes. 'I knew you liked a little dick, Stark, but since when do you date ?'

'Clint,' Natasha sighed and prodded her not-boyfriend in the ribs.

'What? You can't say you're not surprised, Tash,' Clint said.

Natasha looked at Tony. 'Still, it's none of our business,' she stated.

Tony nearly laughed. Yeah, just like his suits were none of her business; his mental health was none of her business; his technology was none of her fucking business. It didn't stop her from trying to get it, though.

'Logan's smart, hot, and fucks me all over the penthouse,' Tony said, making Steve wrinkle his nose and Bruce snort from opposite him. 'Why not date him?'

'How long'll this last, do you reckon?' Clint asked. 'Hey, anyone wanna bet me?'

'Clint,' Steve frowned.

'Whatever,' Clint huffed. But he went back to his food, leaving an awkward silence hanging in the kitchen.

Tony really didn't want to talk about his relationship with “Logan”. At least, not without Loki here. Loki had the ability to twist absolutely every conversation in his favour. And while Tony could do that, too, Natasha was rather hard to bullshit to. She'd been trained from childhood to root out problems and act accordingly. Tony didn't want to risk giving himself and Loki away. Besides, she probably expected him to be a bit insecure about a new relationship and try to change the subject.

'How was Istanbul?' Tony asked.

Clint snorted. 'Not even close.'

'Istanbul, China, same difference,' Tony flapped a hand. 'Kill anyone interesting?'

'Strictly reconnaissance, Stark,' Natasha said.

'Sure,' Tony hummed, and threw an exaggerated wink in her direction. Natasha clearly wasn't amused. But then, she never was. 'Brucie, I know that you'll tell me plenty of fun science stories,' Tony rounded on his science bro, who cracked a smile.

'Nothing overly interesting, I'm afraid,' he stated. 'Just a few things that SHIELD wanted me to look at.'

Tony knew that Bruce was working on top-secret shit that SHIELD really didn't want Tony Stark seeing, and he was sure that Fury had told Bruce to lie to him. So he raised an eyebrow to see what Bruce would do; hint at the truth, or blow him off.

Bruce glanced at Natasha and Clint, both of whom had their eyes on the table, and then looked back at Tony, giving him a look .

Tony knew there was a reason that Bruce was his favourite; he never lied if it wasn't absolutely needed.

'You wound me, Bruce!' Tony fake pouted, a hand going to his chest. 'No fun stories? No explosions?'

'I know how to keep my workplace safe,' Bruce said with a smile.

'So do I,' Tony frowned.

'Yes, but you really like explosions,' Bruce said.

Tony grinned. 'Yeah, you got me; explosions were cool when I was ten, and they're cool now.'

'What's the difference between you then and you now?' Clint decided to comment, smirking at Tony.

Tony just flipped him off. His relationship with Clint had always been like this, but Tony was under no illusions; most of the time (about 99.8% of the time), Clint thought very, very little of Tony. Tony, to Clint, was a narcissistic asshole who threw money around and expected everybody to cater to his ever whim. And okay, so while Tony did do that, that wasn't all he was. He tipped the little people, he made sure that his employees got paid properly and had proper health care. He saved people on a weekly basis.

Tony supposed that his attitude towards Loki didn't help. Whenever Loki did something, Tony couldn't help but make a comment; about how funny Loki's pranks were, how he got why the god did some of what he did, how he understood Loki's past better than any of the others could. Clint wanted Loki dead, preferably by his own hand. Tony had always, and would always, sympathise with Loki. It put them at each other's throats as soon as the invasion was over.

Tony's change in relationship with Loki would just make his relationship with Clint that much more volatile. Not that Tony cared; after Steve, Clint was Tony's least favourite Avenger. Or maybe it was Thor. Or Natasha. It changed on a daily basis depending what kind of mood Tony was in. Bruce was definitely his favourite.

'Brucie, wanna come do science?' Tony asked, giving the doctor his largest puppy eyes.

Bruce chuckled. 'I'd love to, Tony, but I really need some sleep. I'm assuming that you'll still be up in about nine or ten hours?' Tony nodded. 'I'll join you then,' Bruce finished.

'Awesome,' Tony said. He scraped the last of his eggs from his plate and stood, tossing it and his fork in the sink.

'Tony, make sure you come up for lunch,' Steve lectured as Tony made to leave, 'you don't eat enough.'

Tony had eaten more in the past four days than he had in the weeks before. But Steve didn't need to know that.

'Just order me a pizza and let me know when it's here,' Tony said. 'Or better yet, send Bruce; I don't like leaving during a science binge.'

Steve sighed at that, but Tony was already out the door. When Bruce was exhausted, as he'd just been, he'd sleep more than nine hours. Tony was probably looking at fifteen to twenty uninterrupted. Well, if Steve and the Wonder Twins didn't interrupt him. That meant that he could work on his new suits.

JARVIS was very, very good at controlling the suits that Tony wasn't in, and he was completely loyal to Tony. With his and Loki's upcoming takeover, they'd need all the help they could get, even with Tony's new god-status. So why not make twenty or thirty Iron Man look-a-likes that could serve Tony and Loki in battle?

Tony would paint them green and gold, merging his and Loki's colour scheme together. The media would think that Loki had sided with Doom, and Tony would be free to attack and destroy as many SHIELD bases and agents as he could get his hands on.

Tony grinned as he walked into his workshop. 'J, how are you going with that list?'

' I have discovered six SHIELD bases so far, sir, ' JARVIS informed him. ' However, my research shows that there are at least thirty-two, some in other countries .'

'What countries do you think?' Tony asked.

' Are you asking me to guess, Mr Stark? ' JARVIS asked.

Tony chuckled. 'You don't guess, you deduce. So hurry along, Sherlock.'

' Very well, sir ,' JARVIS replied, sounding exasperated. He usually was around Tony. ' By my calculations, there will be bases in the following countries; the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Iraq, and Switzerland. '

'Switzerland?' Tony laughed.

' Yes, sir ,' JARVIS said.

'That doesn't sound funny to you?' Tony asked.

' I was not programmed to feel humour, sir. '

'Well you sure find it funny when I trip over something after three days down here,' Tony said.

' I am only looking out for your well-being, ' JARVIS said, sounding highly offended.

Tony snickered. 'JARVIS, make the walls white.' JARVIS did as asked. 'DUM-E, I swear to fucking god you stay away from that goddamn fire extinguisher!' DUM-E had been slowly creeping around the workshop, but quickly whirled its disappointment and disappeared behind the car Tony had brought in to work on. 'J, some tunes. Give me... my AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers playlist. Also, throw in that song by George Thorogood.'

Music started playing immediately, set on “ear shattering”, and Tony grinned as he grabbed at a holographic screen.

On the night I arrived, my daddy said, “Sake's Alive!” it's the meanest one that we've had yet. Teethed on tin and weaned on gin, I was nobody's teacher's pet.

Tony sang under his breath as he moved about, changing this and that on the platoon of suits he was building. JARVIS would inform him of anyone trying to get into the workshop, but he didn't expect anyone for a couple of hours yet.

Tony easily fell into his work, and even his music began to white out as he focused completely on the creations beneath his fingers. SHIELD wouldn't know what hit them.



{oOo}



Tony worked on his new suit designs for a good seventeen hours- with a break for pizza, because Steve was more overbearing than the mother from Everybody Loves Raymond- followed by another few hours doing science with Bruce. Tony took a short break for more food, caught a nap in bed, and then headed back down to perfect the new machine guns he was gonna build onto the shoulder of every JARVIS-powered suit. They were tentatively dubbed Phoenix X's (because Tony found it funny; his deal with Loki was like being reborn) and Tony wanted to make sure they were as perfect as possible in the planning stages before he started assembling them.

He'd just finished adding some changes when his personal StarkPhone rang, and Tony eyed the thing like it was about to explode. Pepper and the Avengers only ever called him; everything else, business included, usually went through JARVIS.

Tony grabbed the cell, which was sitting atop a pile of paperwork that Fury had insisted he complete about a month ago, and glanced at the caller ID. “Withheld number”.

'Well, this should be fun,' the genius commented before swiping his thumb along the touch-screen. 'Hello?'

' Stark ,' Loki practically purred, and Tony shivered slightly.

'How'd you get this number?'

The god chuckled. ' I did say that I'd call. '

'Right,' Tony hummed. 'So-'

' Sir, Master Odinson has returned, ' JARVIS interrupted.

'Huh, looks like Big Brother's back,' Tony told Loki.

' Lovely, ' Loki drawled, and Tony could imagine the scowl he was no doubt wearing. ' Just in time, too. '

'In time for what?' Tony questioned.

' My talk with Victor didn't go as I had planned, ' Loki explained. ' It seems that he no longer wants to play by my rules. '

'Oh?'

' He's reacted rather... violently, ' Loki said. ' There are bots everywhere, and I don't doubt that the mortals occupying this neighbourhood have reported it. SHIELD should be here soon. '

'Where the hell are you?' Tony asked, already heading for the doors. If there were Doom-bots everywhere, then SHIELD would get involved; meaning that the Avengers, plus Tony, would get involved, too.

' Somewhere near New York; I haven't bothered to learn what you people label every single state ,' Loki said.

Tony opened his mouth, but before he could respond the elevator door before him slid open, revealing Steve.

'Tony, Coulson just called,' Steve said. 'Apparently Doom's been working out of a warehouse in New Jersey; there are Doom-bots everywhere, and they're attacking buildings.'

'Fucking New Jersey,' Tony grunted. 'Right, I'm coming.'

Steve stepped back, letting Tony into the elevator.

As the doors slid shut, Tony said into the phone, 'Sorry, Logan, gotta run. Hero stuff, you know.'

' Oh, how inconvenient, ' Loki drawled. ' And here I was hoping to explore what I believe is called “phone sex” with you. '

Tony groaned softly, making Steve raise his eyebrows. 'Can always try later, babe,' he said.

' But I'm free later ,' Loki said. ' Why not come to you in person? '

'Ah... yeah, that sounds better,' Tony decided. 'I'll call you after this hero business, 'kay?'

' Very well, ' Loki responded. ' If that oaf's back, I'll have to watch myself. '

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. The elevator stopped, followed by the doors opening, and Tony could see Clint and Natasha on the helipad outside, no doubt waiting for someone to turn up with a quinjet. Honestly, it'd save time if they just kept one at the Tower. Then again, SHIELD knew that Tony would probably fiddle with it. 'Gotta go, babe. Seeya later.'

' See you soon, Stark ,' Loki responded before hanging up.

Tony tossed his StarkPhone onto the closest sofa and headed for the balcony. 'So...' Steve commented as they walked, 'this thing with Logan is serious?'

'Yup,' was Tony's only answer. He wasn't about to discuss his relationship with “Logan”; again, he'd rather do it while Loki was present. Steve was already wearing his spangly outfit, and stopped to stand with Natasha and Clint. Bruce was nowhere to be seen, neither was Thor.

'Thor went ahead and took Bruce,' Natasha informed him when Tony passed them. 'It sounded like the Hulk was needed.'

'Whatever,' Tony waved a dismissive hand, walking towards the Iron Man landing pad. 'I'll meet you there.'

JARVIS quickly and easily got Tony into the suit as the genius walked, and by the time he reached the edge of the building Tony's faceplate was slamming shut. He took off immediately, relishing the feeling of flying once more. He wondered what Loki was doing; he'd be with Doom, right? Maybe they could fight the fucker side-by-side.

Tony grinned and blasted through the air, JARVIS already feeding him the coordinates. He needed a good fight.

Chapter Text

The secret side of me I never let you see

I keep it caged but I can't control it

So stay away from me, the beast is ugly

I feel the rage and I just can't hold it

I feel it deep within, it's just beneath the skin

I must confess that I feel like a monster”

Monster [Skillet]


Loki shook off the concrete and metal that had covered him when Victor's bots had thrown him through the warehouse's wall. He'd barely managed to stand before five more bots were on him, and Loki summoned his spear, slicing one, two, before decapitating another. He heard a whir and whipped around just in time to see a Doombot raise its hand, the metal glowing green before-

Loki disappeared, teleporting behind the bot to run it through. It fell to the ground with a whirred groan, and Loki's lips curled as he looked down at it. It seemed that Victor had been tinkering with his little creations again. Loki knew that Victor despised Tony Stark and the way his own suit worked so perfectly. He'd been trying for almost a year and a half to replicate Tony's repulsor technology. Fortunately for SHIELD's little super hero group, Victor was nowhere near as intelligent as Tony. Maybe, once upon a time, he could have hoped to rival Tony Stark. But the accident, his mutation, had robbed him of all humanity; that spark that made people push themselves, push the boundaries of inventions that already exited.

Another bot aimed for Loki's head, but the god easily ducked and blasted it with his magic. It exploded into a shower of metal and wires, only to be replaced by another three bots.

Loki disappeared again, this time appearing on the warehouse roof. Glass and debris crackled under his boots as Loki walked, sharp eyes taking in the Doombots that were now terrorising the closest buildings. Doom had chosen well; the area surrounding his latest laboratory was almost devoid of life. But there were a few run-down apartment buildings nearby, and Loki knew that one of them would call for help. SHIELD would intercept the call, and then the Avengers would be arriving.

An explosion to the right caught Loki's eyes, and he watched as one of the buildings nearby started crumbling. Doombots flew past, their flight not as smooth and graceful as Tony's.

Ah, Stark, Loki mused, holding out a hand, you'll have fun with Victor's little toys.

Before Loki could summon his cell phone, three bots shot up from behind him, forcing the Trickster to drop to one knee. He ducked a green blast, and another, before slicing his spear through the air. A silent spell had magic cutting the bots where they stood, the remains falling to the ground.

'You really must programme these things better, Victor,' Loki hummed. He finally summoned his phone and tapped in Tony's number.

There was a pause before, 'Hello?'

'Stark,' Loki purred, and smiled when Tony made a soft sound on the other end.

He quickly got a hold of himself, though; 'How'd you get this number?'

Loki chuckled and turned, stabbing a bot that had tried to sneak up on him. 'I did say that I'd call.'

'Right, ' the human hummed. ' So- ' He paused, and Loki waited. ' Huh, looks like Big Brother's back,' Tony said.

'Lovely,' Loki drawled, a scowl already marring his face. Just what he needed when he was trying to teach Tony how to use magic. Thor had never had good timing. A dozen Doombots shot out of the warehouse below, crackling glass and blasts reaching Loki's ears. 'Just in time, too,' Loki commented when he spotted three tearing down another building.

'In time for what?' Stark asked.

'My talk with Victor didn't go as I had planned,' Loki said, stepping up to the edge of the warehouse roof. He glanced down to see more bots storming the streets, these ones walking. Apparently not all of them could fly. 'It seems that he no longer wants to play by my rules,' Loki added.

'Oh?'

'He's reacted rather... violently,' Loki said. 'There are bots everywhere, and I don't doubt that the mortals occupying this neighbourhood have reported it. SHIELD should be here soon.'

He could already hear sirens; the human police were arriving. As if they had any chance against Victor's bots. But Loki really didn't care about a dozen human casualties.

'Where the hell are you?' Tony asked. Loki could hear him moving; probably heading for his closest suit.

'Somewhere in New York,' Loki said. 'I haven't bothered to learn what you people label every single state.' He reeled back when three Doombots rose before him, but a few slashes, some magic, and they were falling back to earth, sparks escaping their broken casing.

Loki heard voices on Tony's end of the line, and waited patiently.

'Fucking New Jersey,' Tony grunted, and Loki smirked in amusement. 'Right, I'm coming.' There was a pause, and Loki heard Tony's elevator closing. 'Sorry, Logan, I gotta run. Hero stuff, you know.'

Ah, he must have company. Loki hoped that he could steer Tony away from his little super hero friends. Fighting on Tony's side, rather against him, would be fascinating.

'Oh, how inconvenient,' Loki drawled, 'and here I was hoping to explore what I believe is called “phone sex” with you.'

Tony groaned softly, and Loki snickered. 'Can always try later, babe.'

One of Loki's eyebrows rose as he said, 'But I'm free later. Why not come to you in person?'

'Ah... yeah ,' Tony said, ' that sounds better. I'll call you after this hero business, 'kay?'

Hero business , Loki thought, of course. Do SHIELD and the Avengers really think that Anthony isn't smart enough to work out what they're doing?

'Very well,' he said aloud. 'If that oaf's back, I'll have to watch myself.'

'Yeah,' Anthony agreed. 'Gotta go, babe. Seeya later.'

Babe... Tony liked his pet names far too much. Loki would have to punish him for that.

His lips curled, images of Stark completely naked and tied up for Loki's pleasure entering his mind. 'See you soon, Stark,' Loki replied and hung up. A silent spell and he'd slipped his cell phone away. Just in time, too, as a dozen bots congregated on the roof.

Loki smirked and slashed at them, blasting magic and snapping the heads clean from the bodies. One got behind him and Loki dropped to his knees, spinning to slice it in half at the waist. When that one had dropped, Loki spun back to his feet and stabbed another. A blast from one of the Doombots threw him back, but Loki transported mid-flight, re-appearing on the street below.

It was crawling with bots, and Loki erected a shield around himself as he blasted and hacked the bots down. They were no match for him, but a few got through; a few punches, a cut to Loki's cheek that drew red.

Loki threw his hand out, summoning a burnt-out car that was overturned a few feet away. He threw it at six bots, taking them all down, and spun to destroy another four. They all exploded, but Loki's shield protected him from the debris.

Loki turned when the sirens grew louder, and spotted three police cars screaming up the street. He smirked as they came to a halt a few feet from him, men and women dressed in dark blue uniforms climbing from the vehicles.

'Put your weapon down!' one of them shouted over the explosions, his little gun drawn and pointed at Loki.

Oh, honestly. You'd think they'd learn.

Loki tilted his head as he watched them.

'Put your weapon down!' another ordered.

Loki stepped back and a Doombot when whizzing past him, missing his head by a millimetre. It flew towards the mortals but Loki ignored it in favour of grabbing the one standing behind him. He wrapped his arm around its metal neck, his other arm pressed against its chest. With one quick, skilled wrench, Loki separated its head from its shoulders, short-circuiting the bot and letting it drop to the ground.

Loki ignored the screams coming from the police and turned towards the warehouse Victor had been using. Bots were still pouring from the windows and the large rolling door to the left. Loki's attention was then drawn up, and he smirked. Three black quinjets were speeding towards the area. Finally . SHIELD really took far too long.

It took less than a minute for the three quinjets to reach the street where Loki was standing, and he raised his spear, sending a pulse of magic at each plane. Two managed to flip sideways, narrowly avoiding the blasts, but the third was too slow. One of its curved wings exploded, sending it careening sideways and then into the ground.

Loki smirked and ignored the other two quinjets as he stepped towards the warehouse.

A crack of lighting made him sigh. Stupid blonde oaf. At least it meant that Stark was close by; he and Thor always arrived within seconds of each other.

Sure enough, Loki spotted the familiar red-gold armour of Iron Man just as he reached the warehouse. Rather than look for a door, Loki simply blasted part of the wall, waiting until the smoke cleared to step in. He'd just done so when Tony Stark hit the ground behind him, glowing blue eyes locked on Loki.

Loki smirked at him before disappearing into the warehouse.

'Oh, Victor!' he called as he walked down the abandoned hallway. 'Come out and play!'


{oOo}


Tony was hit seconds after he landed, and lost sight of Loki as he spun sideways and back into the air. He raised a hand and blasted the bot that had attacked him, sending it flying back in a heap of charred wires and twisted metal. It was replaced almost immediately by three more bots, and then two that could fly. Fucking von Doom, who the hell did he think he was?

'Asshole,' Tony growled as he twisted into the air, flipping over bots and narrowly avoiding flying head-first into a building. Thor shot past him, hammer raised and blasting through bots left and right.

SHIELD agents were already surrounding the area, pulling back a few cops who had been stupid enough to run head-first into the fight. Tony shot up and flew over the warehouse that seemed to house the Doombots; they were pouring from the building in fives and sixes, sending SHIELD agents ducking behind burnt-out cars and giant chunks of rubble.

Tony changed his flight path and headed down, shooting at the flying bots as he went. Thankfully Thor seemed to be taking care of most of them, and soon Rogers and Romanov would be forcing the bots back towards the warehouse. Barton would be somewhere high up, his skills not safe for a face-to-face fight.

That left Tony free to follow Loki into the warehouse.

He smirked as he landed, repulsor blasts sending the closest Doombots back. Loki's face had been all tease; follow me if you dare. Tony did dare; he always did. He loved wandering into possibly life-threatening situations, as Loki well knew.

Tony managed to duck another two flying bots, but was hit from behind and sent flying through an already broken window. He slammed into a wall inside the warehouse, but managed to pull himself free. JARVIS informed him that he had a few cuts and bruises, but nothing too bad yet. The suit was still at 100%, so no worries there.

'JARVIS, scan for life forms,' Tony ordered as he started walking. The warehouse seemed to be empty, and Tony assumed that the bots had been kept in the basement, or on a lower level. His suspicions were confirmed when JARVIS told him that there were rows and rows of Doombots still waiting to be activated two floors below him.

' Sir, there are two life forms on the floor below you,' JARVIS added. 'One appears to be Loki Laufeyson, the other Victor von Doom.'

'Excellent,' Tony grinned. He activated his thrusters and flew down the hallway, JARVIS already looking up plans for the warehouse, trying to find a way down. It took far too long, and by the time Tony had reached the next floor, the fight had already begun.

Magic made the air feel charged, and Tony had to duck when a green spell sped past him. It slammed into the elevator and almost threw Tony off his feet, but JARVIS managed to keep the human airborne. Tony lowered his suit to the floor and peered through the dust.

Loki and Doom were fighting, using a combination of hand-to-hand and magic to try and kill each other (and they were going to kill each other, if the snarls and shouted curses were anything to go by, Tony thought). Loki was clearly superior in both fighting forms, and Doom lost ground with every blow.

But Doom had over a dozen bots on his side, and each time Loki gained ground a bot would appear, forcing Loki to abandon Doom in favour of cutting the robot down.

Well, that just wasn't fair, Tony mused. 'Hey, Doom!' he shouted, his enhanced voice making Doom and Loki both turn.

'Iron Man,' Doom near-screeched from behind his metal faceplate.

Three Doombots turned Tony's way, and Tony easily blasted them aside before he went for Doom.

Unlike Loki, Tony hadn't been trained for over a thousand years in hand-to-hand combat. He'd really have to change that, because his ego was just as bruised as his stomach when Doom managed to fling him into a wall.

'Fucker,' Tony growled.

' Sir, the suit's left wrist has sustained damage, you can no longer move that hand,' JARVIS reported.

' Fucker ,' Tony snarled again and flew at Doom. He slammed into the mutated man's chest, sending them both into the wall behind Doom. Doom snarled, spittle flying as he got a fist into Tony's chest.

Tony felt all the air leave his lungs and wheezed, his chest plates cracking and scraping against each other.

' Suit now at 83% ,' JARVIS said.

Thanks to the Apple, Tony was still in the fight five minutes later, even after the repeated blows against his chest and stomach. He was bruised and cut-up, but nothing had broken yet. Doom was clearly pissed, hurling insults even as he tried to hit Tony with magic. But Tony was smaller, his suit quicker, and dodged each and every blow. He tried to stay out of the way of Doom's swinging arms, using his repulsors instead of his fists to take Doom down.

But Tony couldn't keep it up forever, especially when over a dozen Doombots converged on the room. Tony was grabbed from behind and Doom managed to get a large boot to his chest. Tony was thrown backwards and into the wall again, his suit weighing him down and sending him straight through.

Tony wheezed as he stumbled back to his feet, JARVIS relaying all the damage. Before Tony could even think of moving, green filled his vision, and he was thrown back again by a green blast that almost short-circuited his entire suit. Thankfully no amount of magic or electricity could damage the arc reactor, and it kept Tony powered at a measly 58%.

Seriously, Tony needed to finish his newest suit; 58% was just embarrassing.

Tony stumbled over the wood and brick that coated the floor. There were Doombots everywhere, all dead with missing arms, legs and heads. Loki was fighting Doom again, only this time with a snarl on his face rather than a smirk of enjoyment.

Doom was lagging, not getting a single hit in, and Tony watched as Loki backhanded Doom, sending him flying to the floor. Doom struggled to his feet, but when he stood Loki was behind him. The Jötunn wrapped an arm around Doom's neck, jerking his head back, as his other hand ran a long, wicked blade into Doom's stomach between the folds of his armour.

Doom choked, blood flying from his mouth and dripping down his chin. Loki twisted the dagger and an equally twisted smile spread across his face when Doom coughed again.

'You really should have known better than to try and cross me, Victor,' Loki said pleasantly, but with an edge of anger beneath his words. 'And you really shouldn't touch what belongs to me.'

Loki looked at Tony, and Doom did, too, his eyes widening further.

'P-Please-' Doom began, but it was too late. With one practised move, Loki jerked his arm back. There was a loud crack as Doom's neck snapped, and the villain went limp, eyes dim as Loki dropped him to the floor.

Tony wondered if he should be freaking out. After all, most people would if they'd seen someone murdered right in front of their eyes. But Doom had been a thorn in Tony's side since the formation of the Avengers. He was mostly a problem that the Fantastic Four dealt with, but there'd been some major overlap when Doom's bots had really started tearing up New York.

Doom was nothing but a rat, scurrying about Tony's city trying to take over what Tony already owned. And now, Tony didn't have to deal with him anymore.

Loki was watching Tony carefully as he wiped blood from his hands, as though vaguely worried that Tony would run screaming from the room or attack him. Instead, Tony smirked, flipped his faceplate up, and said, 'Well, don't have to call the pest removers now.'

Loki blinked before a smile twisted his lips. 'Doom dug his own grave.'

'I'll say,' Tony snickered. 'Really, betraying the God of Mischief and Lies? He was asking for it.'

'Indeed,' Loki said.

Tony's comms crackled, but they were damaged from Doom's blast, and no words got through; just static.

'The Avengers are probably on their way,' Tony said.

'And what shall you tell them?' Loki inquired.

'That you killed him,' the human shrugged, 'which you did; a villain's quarrel. What are they gonna do, arrest you?'

Loki chuckled softly. 'I would like to see them try.' He stepped over von Doom's body and got into Tony's personal space, making Tony's suit feel a bit too tight. Really, he needed to fix that. 'I shall see you soon, Man of Iron,' he said before kissing Tony roughly, his teeth dragging along Tony's bottom lip as he pulled back. Tony groaned softly, but quickly schooled his features when Loki disappeared in a puff of smoke.

'Tony!'

The genius turned to see Natasha, Clint, Steve and Thor. Thor huffed when he realised that he'd just missed his brother, and Clint fingered his knocked arrow carefully as he looked around.

'Loki?' Natasha demanded, still all-business.

'Disappeared in a poof of smoke,' Tony shrugged one armoured shoulder. 'After killing Doom,' he added, pointing behind him.

Steve made a soft noise and he and Natasha both moved forward, eyes on the dead body wrapped in metal and cloth. 'Loki killed him?' Steve asked.

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'They started arguing when I got here; something about a deal going bad?'

'Loki had a deal with Doom?' Clint asked.

'I guess,' Tony shrugged again. 'No honour amongst thieves; isn't that the saying?'

'Loki does not make deals lightly,' Thor spoke, eyes flicking between Tony and Doom. 'Are you sure that is what they said?'

'Doom mouthed off about something... Loki's magic?' Tony lied easily. 'Loki said that he'd ordered Doom to leave his city alone; only Loki was allowed to terrorise it, apparently. They started trading blows as soon as I announced myself.'

'Did you try to stop them?' Natasha demanded as she rounded on Tony.

Tony scowled. Well, no, he actually hadn't. But the Avengers still thought that he was one of them; thanks for the vote of confidence, Tasha.

'Yes,' Tony snapped. 'Loki blasted me back over into that wall,' he said and pointed to the hole his suit had made when Doom had tossed him around like a rag doll. 'By the time I got up, Doom was dead. Loki just smiled at me and teleported away.'

'You could have tried harder,' Romanov commented, not looking at him. But Tony heard it clear enough; the SHIELD agent didn't think that Tony should be on the team. He wasn't safe.

Well fuck you very much, Tony thought, glaring at the woman. Steve was still staring at Doom, Thor was looking around, as though Loki would just pop back up, and Clint's eyes were taking in the room, no doubt working out just what had happened in his head. Well, there were no clues that Tony had helped Loki kill Doom, so whatever; they could look as much as they wanted.

'Not that this isn't fun,' Tony said, voice dripping in sarcasm, 'but I know that I have a meeting for something or other this afternoon. So I'll be on my way.'

'Iron Man-' Steve began, but Tony had already walked out of the room. He slipped his faceplate down and pushed off the floor with his thrusters, easily flying through the rather large building. Rather than find an exit, Tony created a new one; he blasted a window, shattering the glass, and looped up into the air. The area was deserted after the battle, but JARVIS informed him that a few SHIELD SUVs were heading towards the scene.

Tony really wasn't in the mood to deal with SHIELD, so ignored them in favour of heading back to Stark Tower; he really did have a meeting, and he didn't want Pepper on his ass anymore than she already was.

'Fucking Avengers,' he muttered as he flew. Really, they were just asking Tony to destroy them all. If they were surprised when they learned that he'd gone dark side, Tony's estimation of their intelligence would drop significantly. You'd think they'd know better than to make an enemy of Tony Stark.

But, as Loki often said, humans were idiots; Tony was just seeing that clearer every day.


{oOo}


Tony bypassed his Iron Man landing pad and went straight to his workshop. It'd take him at least three hours to fix up his current suit, and he wanted to get started on perfecting his newest one. His suits needed to be better if he was going to take on SHIELD.

JARVIS had just dismantled the suit when Loki flickered into sight across the room. Tony raised his eyebrows.

'I thought you weren't gonna use magic, since Thor's back,' Tony said.

'The idiot rarely comes down here, correct?' Loki said. Tony nodded. 'As long as I only use a little magic in here, we should be safe.' There was a dangerous glint in Loki's eyes that made Tony shiver, and he watched as the god stood tall and crossed the workshop towards him.

Loki's armour was covered in dust, and there was an already healing cut across one pale cheek, red blood dried and cracking all the way down to his jaw. His hair was in disarray, and Tony's fingers itched to touch.

Loki raised an eyebrow as he approached. 'See something you like, Stark?'

'Oh, yeah,' Tony licked his lips.

Loki came to a stop just before him. 'Even after what you saw?' Loki questioned. 'What I did ?'

Tony looked up at him. 'Lokes, we're taking on SHIELD,' he said. 'People will die; innocent people. And I don't give a fuck.' Loki's lips twitched. 'You really think I care about Doom ? I woulda snapped the fucker's neck a year ago if Fury hadn't ordered us to bring him in alive.'

Loki pounced, slamming Tony into the glass case housing his Iron Man suits. Tony immediately fixed his mouth to Loki's, catching his lips in a biting kiss. He tugged on Loki's bottom lip, biting hard, and revelled in the full-body shiver and groan Loki gave him. Tony felt himself lifted and wrapped his legs around Loki's waist as the taller man slammed him against the wall again, glass rattling behind him.

Loki's tongue snaked into Tony's mouth, even as Tony continued to bite and suck on Loki's lips. The human groaned as his mouth was plundered, and rolled his hips against Loki's, feeling the hardness in Loki's leather trousers.

'Fuck,' Tony hissed when one of Loki's hands snaked up to squeeze his ass through his jeans. 'What are we waitin' for?' Tony demanded.

Loki snapped his fingers, apparently not caring about using excess magic. Tony's clothes disappeared, and Tony reached down to try and free Loki's cock. It was no good; even after their numerous fucks, Tony still couldn't figure out how to open Loki's clothes. Fucker had to start wearing jeans or something.

Mm, Loki's ass in tight black jeans, Tony thought with a grin.

Another snap of his fingers and Loki's cock was free, bobbing between them hard and wet. Tony wrapped his hand around it and stroked, making Loki moan and pull away from Tony's mouth. He bit at Tony's jaw and neck, sharp moves that made Tony hiss, his blood boiling. His cock gave a few interested twitches before Loki finally slid wet fingers into Tony's hole.

Thank fuck for magic, Tony mused as two fingers were pushed inside, right up to the knuckles. Apparently Loki didn't want to draw this out, either, because a third finger quickly joined the first two, making Tony hiss at the delicious burn and stretch. He threw his head back when Loki stabbed at his prostate, and Loki bit harshly at his neck again.

Finally, after only a minute of prep, Loki withdrew his fingers and hoisted Tony further up. His cock slid between Tony's cheeks before the Trickster grabbed it, the head jabbing against his stretched opening. Loki launched himself forward, pushing in in one quick thrust. Tony moaned and let his head drop forward, tongue coming out to lick at Loki's face.

He tasted like dirt and blood, and it made Tony that much harder. He remembered Loki fighting Doom; the way his arms gracefully moved through the air; how magic leapt from his long fingers; his sharp moves as he ducked Doom's own punches; his spear slicing through the air...

'Loki!' he whined when the god purposefully missed his prostate.

'Mm?' Loki hummed, a grin on his swollen, bloody lips.

Tony grabbed Loki's hair, tugging back and making the god hiss. Loki's eyes darkened that much further, not a sliver of green to be seen. Tony pressed his mouth to the cut on Loki's cheek and licked it, which made Loki thrust up beneath him.

'Fuck me,' Tony hissed, ' hard !'

Loki didn't need any further encouragement. His fingers dug into Tony's hips as he pulled out, only to thrust back in. Tony shouted in pleasure, and some part of his head wondered if JARVIS had locked down the lab. He hoped so, otherwise the Avengers would come running if they'd returned already.

But it didn't matter; Loki was thick and hard inside him, his cock slamming into Tony's prostate as it stretched him further. It sent pleasure rushing up Tony's spine, his head spinning and his chest aching as he tried to draw oxygen into his lungs.

Tony was sweating already, and Loki's finger nails dug further into his skin as the god tried to keep Tony up. Tony wrapped his legs tighter around Loki's waist and did his best to roll his hips, tried to fuck himself onto Loki's cock as the Jötunn pushed up into him.

It was frenzied and bloody, Loki biting at Tony's lips and drawing blood, Tony doing the same. Finally, Tony felt that familiar pleasure building up in his balls, his gut. He wouldn't need a single finger on his cock to come, and told Loki that. It made the magician moan and bite at Tony's chin, teeth harsh against Tony's beard.

'Fuck!' Tony shouted. 'Harder, Lo, fuck !'

Somehow, Loki slammed in harder and harder, filled Tony that bit more. One last jab against his prostate and Tony climaxed, coating Loki's armour and his own stomach in come. Loki wasn't that far behind as Tony squeezed harshly around his cock. He slammed in one last time before erupting, and like always, Tony could feel Loki's come filling him up. It was colder than any human's, making Tony shiver as he came down from his high.

Loki slowly slid to his knees, arms still wrapped around Tony, and Tony stayed seated on his lap as the two panted against each other's mouths.

'Fuck,' Tony mumbled.

Loki chuckled and pressed gentle kisses to Tony's bruised lips. Tony's lips were gonna ache for a good few hours before they healed, but it was totally worth it.

'Gets better every time,' Tony quipped.

'I would hope so,' Loki commented. He drew back to meet Tony's eyes, smirking. 'How else would I keep you faithful?'

Tony laughed and kissed the god again. 'Oh, Lo,' he grinned. 'Like I'd need anyone else with you around.'

Loki's eyes softened. 'Good,' he murmured and kissed Tony again.

Tony hummed against Loki's mouth, quickly losing himself once more in the pleasure of Loki's body.

Chapter Text



They'd love to watch me fall, they think they know it all

I'm a nightmare, a disaster, that's what they always said

I'm a lost cause, not a hero, but I'll make it on my own

I've gotta prove 'em wrong, it's me against the world”

Me Against The World [Simple Plan]



'So,' Tony said as he Loki re-dressed. Loki had summoned a suitcase filled with Midgardian clothing; jeans, sweaters, shirts, and everything else he'd need if he stayed at the tower overnight. He'd said that it would be safer to summon whatever he needed in Tony's lab, rather than in his penthouse; just in case.

'So?' Loki echoed when Tony failed to continue.

'Sorry,' Tony hummed, head tilted as Loki pulled a dark blue, v-necked sweater on. He was wearing a black t-shirt underneath, and that coupled with the black jeans was doing things to Tony's lower half. But after three rounds, even the great Tony Stark needed a break.

'Stop leering, Stark,' Loki said, but was wearing a smile as he packed his armour away, making sure to fold it under the rest of his clothing.

'You love it,' Tony teased. 'Anyway, I'll probably have to make my report sometime today; Rogers loves dragging me into a room to write down everything that happened during a fight from my point of view. Are you gonna hang out here while I do that?'

'I have nothing to do for the next few days,' Loki told him. 'With Victor disposed of, my schedule is clear until next Friday. I'll be off-planet for a number of days after that; there are a few realms that I must visit.'

'Oh?' Tony hummed, running a hand through his hair. Loki had a serious hair-kink, which Tony loved, because Loki's hair was fucking awesome, too, and he got to thread his fingers through it when Loki fucked him. Or when he fucked Loki, either one.

'I'd rather keep those plans to myself for the time being,' Loki said. He'd snuck up behind Tony and wrapped his arms around Tony's waist, making Tony jump and then smile. 'You never know who might be listening,' Loki whispered into Tony's ear, followed by a kiss.

Tony laughed. 'Seriously, when's the Apple gonna effect my sex drive?'

'Soon,' Loki said, drawing back. 'You should eat; that'll help.'

'You just wanna fuck me again,' Tony teased, but started backing towards the doors. Loki's entire body flickered, and then suddenly it was Logan talking to Tony, rather than Loki. Tony took a second to mourn the loss before ordering JARVIS to make the walls and doors clear once more.

Loki picked up his suitcase, a smirk on his lips as he followed the resident genius. 'You know me so well.'

''Course I do, babe,' Tony winked.

Loki sighed. 'These pet names really must stop.'

'Aww, come on,' Tony pouted, 'you love 'em. Like Lo, and Lokes, and Green eyes, and Cute Butt.'

'Cute Butt?' Loki raised an eyebrow, and Tony snickered at the sheer amount of disgust that Loki could convey through a single brow.

'Okay, Cute Butt's out, that's horrible,' Tony agreed. 'And I'll only call you babe after sex; you're always more gooey then.'

Loki rolled his eyes.

'But Lo and Lokes are staying,' Tony declared. They reached the elevator and JARVIS opened the doors. 'Penthouse, J,' Tony ordered before turning to Loki. 'Can't call you Lokes around the others, but Lo's fine. Could be a nickname for Logan.'

'Whatever you say, Stark.'

' Tony ,' the human insisted. 'My lovers don't call me Stark.'

'Perhaps your boyfriends do.'

'Nope.'

'I despise you.'

Tony snickered, and didn't miss the way Loki's lips curled into a smile as they were whisked up.



{oOo}



Tony was getting a blow job when someone decided to knock on his bedroom door. 'Tony?'

'What the fuck?' Tony growled. Loki scowled at him, as though it was Tony's fault. 'Don't stop!' Tony ordered, and Loki went right back to sucking. Jesus, Loki's mouth needed to be declared illegal. 'JARVIS, you're supposed to warn me before anyone comes up here when Lok- Logan's around!'

' Apologies, sir, ' JARVIS replied, ' but you didn't implement a permanent order before Mr Thomas' arrival, and your former order of, “Bruce Banner is allowed into the penthouse at all times”, still stands. '

'Fuck,' Tony swore again. 'Okay, new rule; wherever Logan is, no matter what he looks like, or what room he's occupying, you inform him if someone's approaching. The only time you don't do it is when someone other than me is in the same room as him. Understand?'

' Yes, Mr Stark, ' JARVIS replied.

There was another knock, followed by Bruce once again calling, 'Tony?' through the door.

'Just a minute!' Tony shouted, his voice slightly strangled by that thing Loki did with his tongue. Jesus .

'Are you okay?' Bruce asked, sounding concerned.

Tony nearly let out a hysterical laugh. He'd be okay as soon as Bruce left and Loki went back to work. 'Y-Yeah, fine!' he replied. 'Just, uh... little busy at the moment!'

'Okay...' Bruce said slowly, 'well, we're having a team meeting on Steve's floor and you're needed, so can you come down?'

Oh, I'll come , Tony thought, but aloud said, 'Be there in a second!'

He heard Bruce shuffle off, and then JARVIS said, ' Mr Banner has left the penthouse .'

'Jesus,' Tony groaned. He threaded his fingers through Loki's hair and tugged, making the god pop off his cock with a lewd sucking sound.

'I thought you didn't want me to stop,' Loki hummed. His left hand was wrapped around Tony's erection, the right smoothing over Tony's thigh, hip and stomach. He gave the younger man's cock a long, tight stroke, and Tony arched up, trying to jam himself back into that delicious heat.

'Loki,' he whined.

'I don't like being interrupted,' Loki growled before swallowing Tony down again.

' JESUS !' Okay, so apparently Loki had been playing before, because his lips were tight, cheeks hollowing every time he took Tony down, down, down , right down his throat to suck and hum. His tongue laved up and down the vein in Tony's cock, making it twitch and swell, and when Loki's dark green eyes met Tony's, Tony finally climaxed. He slicked Loki's mouth and throat with come, the Trickster humming yet again as he swallowed it all down, going so far as to lick his lips when he slid off, as though Tony were a delicious dessert.

Tony could do little more than flop onto the bed, chest heaving and mouth stretched wide as he sucked in air. Loki straddled Tony's waist and took himself in hand, watching Tony with narrowed eyes as he jerked himself off. Tony wanted to help, but he was pretty sure that Loki had sucked his brain out through his dick, so he merely raised his hands and gave Loki's ass a few good squeezes, his fingers brushing briefly between Loki's cheeks and over his hole.

Loki finally moaned and arched his back like a cat before stripping Tony's stomach and chest with white, shuddering as he milked himself before going still.

'Jesus,' Tony grunted again.

Loki chuckled. 'It seems that I've reduced you to a simple few words, Stark.' He sat up, eyes gleaming. 'I'm quite proud of myself.'

'You should be,' Tony agreed. 'Your mouth is another thing all together.'

'Silver Tongue,' Loki quipped. Tony opened his mouth, and Loki grabbed his hips, squeezing too tightly. 'I'm over a thousand years old, Stark, and believe me when I say that I've heard all the jokes.'

Tony pouted as he said, 'But I had some good ones!'

'I doubt that,' Loki replied. He finally rolled off of the inventor and to his feet, not caring in the slightest that he was naked, skin flushed pink and red. He made his way to the bathroom and Tony watched.

He knew he had to get up- they'd send in Natasha next, and she was in no way concerned about any state of undress Tony might be in. She'd interrupted him during sex once with a twenty-four year-old gymnast. A gymnast . Tony had considered murdering everybody in the Tower and taking over the world that night.

'Are you coming, Anthony?' Loki called from the en-suite bathroom. 'Your... friends , require your presence.'

'Yeah, yeah,' Tony grunted. He sighed but sat up and hobbled across the room. Damn, his legs felt like jell-o. 'You're coming too, right?' he asked when he entered the bathroom.

Loki was wiping himself down with a wet towel, and raised his eyebrows when Tony joined him. 'Am I welcome?' he queried. 'Banner made it out to be an Avengers team meeting.'

'You're my boyfriend, remember?' Tony said. 'It's not like we're gonna discuss anything top secret. And if we do you can just leave. But I want them to meet you and see how serious we are so they know why you're hanging around all the time. Oh, and you should mention an assistant.'

'Mm,' Loki hummed. He passed the towel to Tony and Tony wiped himself down, Loki using his fingers to comb his hair and wash his face. When he was done he smiled brightly at Tony and gave him a quick kiss.

'What was that for?' Not that Tony was complaining, but Loki only ever kissed him when he wanted sex.

'Our plan is moving forward,' Loki said. 'I've enjoyed our time together so far, but tricking them really will be delicious.'

Tony snorted. 'Yeah, yeah. Go get changed and get into your Logan suit.'

Loki kissed him again and wandered off, hips swaying from side to side, forcing Tony to stare at his ass the entire time. He sighed. Damn Avengers meetings. He totally wanted to spend the rest of the day fucking Loki.



{oOo}



They eventually got dressed, much to Tony's annoyance, and went down to Steve's floor. The Avengers had all congregated in the kitchen, as they usually did, and each and every one of them looked up when Tony and Loki- or Logan- entered the room.

'So, this is Logan,' Tony announced, and the Avengers all stared between him and Loki.

'Logan Thomas,' Loki said, an apparently genuine smile overtaking his face. Tony had to bite back a snort. Loki was a really good liar.

'This is Natasha, Bruce, Clint, Steve, and Thor,' Tony said, pointing at each Avenger in turn. He wasn't actually one hundred percent sure that Loki actually knew their names. In battle he always referred to them as their “super hero” names. And sometimes he called Clint “Little Hawk”, and of course his favourite name for Thor was “blonde oaf”.

'Huh,' Clint mused, 'so he's real.'

Tony flipped him off, but Clint ignored him in favour of continuing to stare at Loki.

'It is nice to meet you, Son of Thomas,' Thor boomed, and Loki glanced at Tony, seemingly confused.

'That's just Thor,' Tony said. 'Asgard, you know; different place.'

'I see,' Loki hummed.

'How do you know the Man of Iron?' Thor asked, actually looking interested. Tony wondered if he was just being nice, or if Thor was genuinely that enthusiastic about... well, everything.

'We met at a bar,' Loki lied smoothly, 'and a few more times after that. It took some time, but eventually Tony convinced me to date him.'

Thor frowned in confusion. 'Date?'

'We're boyfriends,' Tony said slowly, like he was talking to a small child. He saw Loki bite back a smirk from beside him.

'Boy... friends...' Thor adopted Tony's slow talk, blue eyes blinking rapidly.

'As in a girlfriend, only with a guy,' Natasha took over.

Thor still looked confused, though, so Clint said, 'They're fucking, Thor! Having sex; sleeping together; doing the beast with two-' He cut himself off to wince when Natasha slapped him over the back of the head, tossing a glare at his fellow agent but not saying anything more.

Thor seemed to have gotten the gist of Clint's sentences, though, and frowned between Tony and Loki. 'I was unaware that two men laying together was... acceptable, on Midgard.'

Loki raised both eyebrows, fake-blue eyes slightly hard. 'Is it unacceptable where you're from?'

Thor seemed to wilt slightly under both his and Tony's gazes, scratching a hand through his tied-back blonde hair. 'Well,' he hesitated before continuing, 'it is something that happens, certainly, but not... not outside of battle or adventure.'

Loki continued to stare at him. 'I see,' he muttered.

'On Midgard it's completely accepted, Rocky,' Tony told Thor. 'We accept guys with guys, girls with girls, and everything else, got that? If you have a problem-'

'Of course not!' Thor hastened to interrupt, though it was clear that he was still uncomfortable with the topic. At least he knew when to back down, Tony thought.

'Good,' Tony grunted and turned to smile at Loki. 'Want something to eat?'

'Are you sure I shouldn't go?' Loki asked. Jesus, if Tony didn't know who Loki was, he'd think that he was sweet, innocent Logan Thomas. Gold star in acting for Loki!

'Nah, it's cool,' Tony dismissed.

'Tony,' Natasha began, and Tony waved a hand at her.

'What? It's not like I'm gonna share SHIELD codes or whatever the hell else you're worried about with him. Besides, Doom's dead; who's Logan gonna tell?'

'Doom?' Loki questioned, affecting an air of confusion as he allowed Tony to lead him to the kitchen table. He shifted slightly when he caught Bruce's eyes, but Bruce just smiled, all warm and adorable as always. Tony winked at his science bro before looking back at Loki.

'Victor von Doom; one of the Avengers' enemies.'

'I see,' Loki hummed, 'and he's dead?'

'Loki killed him,' Tony said, which earned glares from half of the Avengers. 'What?' he snapped. 'It's not really a secret!'

'We don't want it to get out that Loki's killing again,' Natasha scowled.

Tony scoffed. 'Like anyone believes that Loki's stopped killing people.'

'The general public don't want to hear any of it,' Natasha said.

'Loki's the one who invaded just over a year ago, right?' Loki asked, looking as though he was trying hard to keep up.

'Yup,' Tony said, making the last letter pop.

'I remember reading that he was back, but he hasn't seemed to have done all that much damage lately,' Loki continued. 'Is he planning something?'

Natasha and Clint shared a look, and even Steve looked a bit concerned over the conversation; probably because he didn't like hysterical citizens.

'We're unsure,' Natasha said slowly. 'If he poses any more of a threat to the public, SHIELD will announce it.'

'I'll protect you, babe,' Tony said from where he'd wandered over to the cupboards. Steve wasn't cooking anything, the bastard, so Tony had to resort to raiding his pantry.

'I feel safer already,' Loki drawled, earning him a wink from Tony.

'Sandwiches okay?' Tony asked, and Loki nodded, so Tony went to the fridge to grab ham, salami, lettuce and cheese. He held a tomato up to Loki, too, and got a nod. The Avengers fell into silence, or softly muttered conversations, while Tony worked, and Loki just watched him, head tilted to the side like Tony was a fascinating creature that he wanted to study.

Tony was totally okay with that. Study equalled sex, right?

When Tony was done he left the kitchen counter a mess- someone else'd clean that up- and grabbed a packet of chips before joining Loki back at the table. Bruce was staring at him as Tony opened the packet and nudged it towards Loki.

'What?' Tony asked.

'Nothing,' Bruce said, offering Tony a smile.

'It's weird,' Clint said, 'you're feeding him.'

Tony raised an eyebrow. 'And?' he asked, popping a chip into his mouth.

'Usually you kick your one-nighters out as soon as you're done,' Clint said.

'The difference between a partner and a one-night stand,' Loki commented, raising an eyebrow when Clint turned his way. Clint frowned, eyes going a bit glossy, before he jerked back and shook his head.

'Are you okay?' Natasha asked Clint, while Tony glanced at Loki. Loki tilted his head slightly, eyes narrowed as if to say, “ I'll tell you later”.

Tony wondered if that had actually happened, or if he was just reading too much into it. It wasn't like he knew Loki well enough to have conversations with just their eyes.

'Yeah, fine,' Clint was murmuring, 'just got a headache.'

Loki smiled brightly at Clint when the archer glanced at him, but Clint just shook his head and turned back to Natasha.

'We have to discuss what happened today,' Steve decided to get down to business, which made Tony think of Mulan and laugh. Steve, of course, ignored him. 'Tony, I'm really not sure if we should discuss this in front of your... partner.'

'I can leave,' Loki offered again.

'Seriously, it's not like Logan's a four-year-old; he can handle a bit of violent talk,' Tony said.

'That's not the point, Stark,' Natasha sighed.

Tony raised his eyebrows. 'So what is the point?'

'How about I go back to the penthouse?' Loki decided. He stood before Tony could stop him, but bent to press a soft kiss to Tony's lips. It made Tony's chest feel all warm and tingly, but he ignored that. 'Remember that we need to discuss if you're free tonight,' Loki said smoothly.

'I'm pretty sure I am,' Tony said, wondering where Loki was going with this.

'You need an assistant,' Loki said. Tony almost laughed. Smooth motherfucker . 'That way you wouldn't have to constantly check with your AI to see if we can go out.'

'Hey, a few missed meetings never hurt anyone,' Tony said.

'When you own a billion-dollar company, it's different,' Loki said. 'It was nice to meet you all,' he told the kitchen at large.

'I won't be too long,' Tony told him, and watched as Loki smiled and left the room with his plate and the bag of chips, disappearing around the corner in the hallway. 'So, what do we need to discuss?' Tony asked, turning to pick up his sandwich. 'Doom was a dick, decided to destroy some shit, and Loki killed him; the end.'

'We need a little more detail than that, Stark,' Natasha said.

Tony rolled his eyes but took a large bite of his sandwich. He had a feeling that it was going to be a long afternoon.



{oOo}



Tony should have been given a medal for how long he sat there with the Avengers. They went on and on and on, and then, just for shits and giggles, they wenton again. Each and every member of the Avengers went into excruciating detail three times about their part of the battle; what they'd seen, how they'd fought, what the doombots were capable of, etc. They'd also had to go into massive amounts of detail about what they'd seen Loki doing, what magic he'd used, what he'd been wearing... seriously, they were obsessed.

Tony bore the brunt of it; he'd been the one to witness Loki's fight with Doom, after all, and apparently re-telling the story six times wasn't enough. No, just a few more times, Tony. Why don't you write it down too, Tony. Draw us a fucking diagram, Tony .

Tony was close to snapping. Fuck his plans with Loki, he could call one of his suits and blow them all up right now. Apparently Bruce could tell that Tony's thoughts had turned murderous, because he cleared his throat and said, 'Okay, I think that's enough.'

Natasha and Steve both looked at him, and Clint opened his mouth, no doubt to argue, but Thor groaned and stretched.

'Yes, I believe it is time for a snack!' he declared, beaming brightly. He headed for the cupboards, no doubt in hunt of pop tarts. Tony sighed. Thank fuck .

'Can I go now?' Tony asked and stood without waiting for an answer.

'Stark, I know how hard it might be for you,' Natasha began, only continuing when Tony turned to face her, 'but please don't share top secret details with your boyfriend.'

'What, you think Logan's a spy?' Tony asked. 'For...?'

'There are any number of terrorist organisations who'd kill to get a man inside SHIELD,' Clint said.

Tony snorted. 'Right, right. And the best way to do that is sleep with me. Sure, that makes sense.'

'I just think it's weird that he has no problem dating you considering your reputation,' Natasha said.

''Cause some people can't just be, oh, I dunno; good people ,' Tony snapped. Which was funny, because Loki definitely wasn't a good person. Then again, neither was Tony.

'You've been seeing him for, what, four days?' Natasha asked. 'And he's already being invited to Avengers meetings, and wandering around the Tower like he owns it.'

'We've been dating for three months, Natasha,' Tony said, earning surprised looks from her, Clint, and Steve. 'I just didn't want to introduce him to you because of this exact reason,' Tony continued, letting some anger colour his tone, his face. 'Maybe I knew that you'd all react like it's the end of the world. Because Tony Stark can't date , he's a man-whore.'

Clint opened his mouth, but Natasha kicked him under the table. Tony decided that Clint would be the first person he hurt when his new suit was finished.

'God forbid I be happy,' Tony added and walked out the door. Over his shoulder, he shouted, 'A happy Tony is a reckless Tony, right? And SHIELD can't have Iron Man be reckless!'

He ignored Steve's attempt to call him back, seething internally as he rode the elevator up to his penthouse. Loki- and it was Loki , not Logan- was sitting in the living room, his sandwich finished but the packet of chips open on his lap. He was chewing when Tony entered the room and frowned, green eyes narrowed.

'What happened?' he questioned.

'The Avengers are fucking assholes,' Tony declared. He flopped onto the sofa and sighed, rubbing his eyes.

'What happened?' Loki repeated. Tony quickly relayed his conversation with the others, and Loki hummed. 'The Avengers really have no faith in you, do they?'

'They don't want me to be happy,' Tony grunted. ''Cause if I'm happy, I'm functioning. And if I'm functioning, they can't kick me off their fucking team.'

'It's a good thing you don't want to be on their team, then,' Loki said.

Tony laughed softly. 'Yeah.'

Loki turned to glance at him. 'Having second thoughts, Stark?' he asked.

'God, no!' Tony laughed again. His smile fell after a bit. 'No, no second thoughts,' he said. 'It's just... it pisses me off, you know? I thought that they at least respected me for what I could do as Iron Man, if not just me in general. But-'

'They don't,' Loki supplied.

'Yeah.'

Loki tilted his head slightly before turning to look at the TV, and Tony blinked rapidly. Was Loki watching The Lion King ? 'I have found, in my long life,' Loki said slowly, 'that there are very few people you can count on.'

'Oh?' Tony queried, and Loki nodded.

'People are fickle,' the older god said, 'and almost all of their actions are undertaken for their own personal gain. People, whether god or mortal, will always do whatever is in their best interest. Even if that means... screwing over those around them.'

'Yeah,' Tony sighed. He leaned back and put his feet up on the coffee table, narrowly avoiding Loki's empty plate. 'I learned that long ago, Lokes. My dad never much cared about me unless I could help sell the image of family . It was great for business.'

'Yes, Odin did similar,' Loki said. 'A united Royal family is better than one that is crumbling. Unfortunately for him, nobody particularly cared about me.'

'I do,' Tony said, which earned him Loki's sharp gaze. 'I do ,' Tony repeated with more emphasis.

'You have to,' Loki said, 'we have a deal.'

'I'd still care about you if we didn't,' Tony said. It was true, but Loki didn't seem to believe him. Tony really couldn't blame him; from what he'd seen and heard, nobody had ever really cared about Loki. About what Loki could do? Yeah, they cared about that. But not about Loki himself. It was the same with Tony; people cared about his company, his money, or Iron Man. Not Tony Stark himself. 'I like you, Loki,' Tony said when the Trickster failed to say anything. 'You're funny, sexy, brilliant, and just... awesome to be around. What you can do is really cool, I won't deny that, and it's helpful to me and my plans. But I like you for you , too.' He shrugged a shoulder and turned to stare at the TV again. 'If you don't believe me, fine. But it's the truth.'

They fell into silence, both gods staring at the TV, Loki occasionally passing the bag of chips over so Tony could grab a handful.

Mufasa had just died on the TV when Loki softly said, 'I believe you, Stark.'

Tony smiled, but didn't turn. 'Tony,' he corrected.

He got a soft huff, and a muttered, ' Anthony ,' that contained more sarcasm than should be possible.

Tony snickered and wrapped an arm around Loki, pulling him close. He pressed a kiss to Loki's cheek and said, 'Good.'

'Mmf,' Loki huffed. But he curled up into Tony's side, head near-buried in Tony's chest. Tony counted it as a win.

Chapter Text


 

Tony and Loki were meditating. Or, well, Loki was trying to teach Tony how to meditate. Apparently magic, both your own and the magic around you, was simpler to find, in the beginning, if you were in a relaxed, meditative state. Tony would have called bullshit if Loki hadn't spent the past hour muttering under his breath about Tony's useless machines- or toys, as he still called them.

Tony wasn't really sure he was getting it, though. He'd assumed that meditation would be like yoga, only with less bending and tight outfits. Loki had dragged Tony onto the large, black sofa in Tony's living room, had JARVIS lockdown the penthouse, and then talked Tony through a bunch of breathing exercises.

He was still doing that now, and Tony had to admit that he did sort of feel relaxed. He kind of felt the way he usually did after good sex; warm, sated, and slightly tired.

Loki was sitting against one of the armrests, legs spread with Tony between them. Tony's back was pressed to Loki's chest, and Loki alternated between hooking his chin over Tony's shoulder, or whispering softly in his ear. Their arms were pressed together, Tony's hands palm-up in Loki's own, and both had their eyes closed. Well, Tony did, and he assumed that Loki did, too.

'How's this supposed to help, again?' Tony asked, barely moving his lips.

'Shh,' Loki hummed, breath ghosting over Tony's ear. Tony would have shivered if he wasn't so relaxed. For some reason the situation didn't really feel sexy, despite Loki being pressed up against him, his crotch firm against Tony's ass. It just felt... warm, comfortable. 'Who knows more about magic, Stark?'

'Thought I was supposed to be quiet?' Tony asked.

Loki huffed a very soft laugh. 'We have been sitting here for five hours, Stark. I'm not sure meditation will help you.'

Frowning, Tony opened his eyes and echoed, 'Five hours?' He felt Loki nod. 'Huh.'

'What's the matter?' Loki asked.

Tony shifted a bit, wiggling against Loki, but again it didn't feel very sexual. 'I didn't realise that much time had passed,' he admitted, 'feels like only five minutes.'

Loki hummed again. 'Interesting.'

'Yeah?'

'Very,' Loki replied. 'Perhaps meditation will help.'

'More than my stupid toys, then?' Tony asked. He turned slightly to meet Loki's eyes, which were shining in amusement.

Loki sighed slightly and leaned back. He moved until he could lean more against the back of the sofa than the armrest, barely moving Tony himself in the process.

'I understand that you want to study magic,' he said slowly, as though he was weighing every word before speaking it aloud, 'and not in the way that a traditional mage studies magic. But I'm not sure how your Midgardian technology will help you wield magic. It may help you find it, either in yourself or in the planet around you, but it won't help you master it.'

'I know that,' Tony said. Loki raised an eyebrow. 'But I can't... not study it,' he added, frowning. 'Does that make sense?'

'You want to understand it,' Loki replied.

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'If it's there, I wanna know everything about it. To the best of my ability, anyway.'

'I understand,' Loki said. He smiled softly when Tony glanced sideways at him. 'You want to know how it works. And you won't be satisfied until you do, even if you can use it yourself.'

'Exactly,' Tony said.

Loki's smile softened further, which surprised Tony and made him blink rapidly. Loki smiled often, which had shocked Tony the first few times, but he was used to it now. Only... well, Loki's smiles were usually more smirks or mischievous grins. They usually preluded sex, or tricks, or Loki outwitting Tony in an argument. They were rarely soft just... just because.

'What?' Loki questioned when Tony continued to stare at him, brown eyes slightly glazed.

Tony shook his head and offered Loki a shrug. 'Nothing,' he said. He wasn't about to share his thoughts with the older god... not yet. 'Just thinking.'

'About?' Loki prompted. He moved an arm to wrap it around Tony's waist, squeezing tightly. Tony's hand fell to Loki's thigh and he ran his fingers over the smooth, warm fabric of Loki's sweats. Loki was always oddly cool- Frost Giant, Tony had to remind himself- but the fabric easily soaked up Tony's own body heat, making Loki feel warmer than usual.

'Just... magic, our plans, my suit; all the usual stuff,' Tony finally answered.

Loki raised a slim black eyebrow, apparently not convinced with Tony's simple answer. But he didn't prod; he just leaned forward to kiss Tony- again with the softness, what was with Loki tonight?- before pulling back. 'Would you like to try meditating again?' he asked.

'Um... can we have a break?' Tony responded. 'I'm hungry.'

Loki sighed, like Tony was really drawing his patience, but nodded and unwound his arm from around Tony.

'Hey, I didn't say you should go anywhere,' Tony muttered. He pulled Loki's arm back into place and leaned back. Okay, so he snuggled back, but Loki didn't complain. 'I feel like pizza.'

'Pizza?' Loki echoed.

'You can't tell me you haven't had pizza,' Tony said incredulously.

Loki chuckled into his ear. 'I've heard of it,' he said, 'but haven't had the chance to sample it myself.'

'Oh my God,' Tony gaped and shot forward. He twisted to look at Loki, who seemed more amused than annoyed at Tony's sudden movement.

'What?'

'I actually get to witness someone trying pizza for the first time,' Tony breathed.

Loki raised both eyebrows this time. 'It can't be that amazing.'

'Oh, Loki, Loki, Loki ,' Tony tisked, making Loki chuckle. 'Pizza is amazing . Okay, so it isn't the best food in the world- that's totally cheeseburgers and steak... or steak cheeseburgers- but pizza. Is. Awesome.'

'You have an unhealthy fascination for what is basically dough with sauce,' Loki replied.

'You shut your mouth!' Tony snapped, waving a threatening finger at the taller man. 'Pizza is awesome.'

'So I've heard,' Loki mused.

'JARVIS, order pizza from that place,' Tony said.

'Would you like to be more specific on the place in question, sir, or shall I guess?' JARVIS responded with a faint trace of sarcasm.

'Don't sass me, J!' Tony said. 'You know what place I'm talking about. It's where I always get pizza.'

'Yes, sir ,' JARVIS replied. ' What shall I order?'

Tony hummed at that, eyes roaming over Loki's smooth, pale face, bright green eyes, and dark eyebrows. 'Get a meat lovers, a supreme, one of those spicy ones, something with chicken, and something with prawns,' Tony eventually decided. 'Also garlic bread.'

'Yes, sir,' JARVIS repeated.

'Again,' Loki drawled, 'you have an unhealthy fascination with pizza.'

'Shut it,' Tony grunted. 'Just wait 'til you try it, Lo; you'll love it.

'Mm-hmm.'

Tony sighed and leaned back, once again getting comfortable. Loki's arm was still around his waist, the other along the back of the sofa. Tony reached out and caught Loki's fingers, bringing his hand between both of Tony's own.

'What are you doing?' Loki questioned when Tony started stroking his skin.

'Exploring,' Tony replied.

'Why?'

''Cause,' Tony said. Loki chuckled. 'Your hands are amazing,' Tony added. When Loki rested his chin on Tony's shoulder, Tony elaborated. 'You throw magic with them, and preform spells. You touch me, get me all hot and bothered.' Loki laughed softly. 'I bet there's lots of stuff you can do that I don't know about yet.'

'You'll find out, eventually,' Loki said. 'Remember that you're immortal.'

A grin slowly overtook Tony's face. Sometimes, in all honesty, he completely forget that he was now technically a god. He hadn't gone through the trials mortals apparently had to undertake to be gifted an apple by Odin, but he was still a god. He healed almost as fast as Loki- who had magic to speed things along- and he was almost as strong. Loki had, after all, been trained in battle for over a thousand years, and was also a Frost Giant.

Loki was apparently following Tony's train of thought, because he leaned forward to kiss Tony's cheek. 'Tony Stark, God of Cunning and Inspiration.'

'I need business cards,' Tony murmured.

Loki laughed and Tony twisted around to kiss him properly, Loki's lips cool but firm against his own. Loki tugged Tony a bit closer and pulled his hand from between Tony's so he could slide his fingers through Tony's hair. Tony hummed softly in encouragement and tried to turn more, but Loki's knees came up, trapping the younger man's body in place.

'Loki,' Tony whined.

'Mm?'

'Lemme go.'

'Why?'

''Cause I wanna straddle your waist and make you come,' Tony replied, because duh , why else would Tony be trying to move?

'Mm...' Loki hummed again, 'no.'

Tony pulled back, breaking their lips apart. 'Excuse me?'

'A proper meditative state cannot be achieved if one is sexually aroused,' Loki said. He sounded like he was reciting the words, and Tony wondered just who the hell had taught Loki magic.

'We've already meditated for five hours,' Tony reminded the mage.

' You meditated for five hours,' Loki corrected. 'I was aware of the time, and my surroundings.'

'Whatever,' Tony rolled his eyes. 'Isn't that enough for today?'

'No,' Loki said, and the inventor huffed. 'After we eat we'll try again. Sometimes meditation can be easier to slip into if your body is sated.'

'Exactly,' Tony said, 'so we should totally fuck.'

'We can totally fuck after we eat and try again,' Loki responded.

Tony groaned and let his head tip back, eyes squeezed shut. 'You're killin' me, Lokes.'

'And I'm enjoying every second of it,' Loki said. Tony looked back at him to see Loki wearing a cheeky grin. Before Tony could say anything, Loki sat forward to kiss him quickly. 'I'm thirsty,' he said before sliding out from between Tony and the sofa, easily unfolding his long limbs to stretch and make his way out of the room.

Tony groaned again. Sexy bastard , he thought.

Loki returned a few minutes later with a glass of water, which he sipped from before placing it on the coffee table. He slid back onto the sofa and opened an arm wide, one eyebrow raised. He was practically ordering Tony to comply, and Tony saw no reason to disobey. He did laugh, though, even as he snuggled back into Loki. Seriously, they were snuggling . Tony wasn't exactly the cuddly type, and he'd been sure that Loki wasn't, either, but there they were; curled up like a real couple.

Tony forced down the warm, fuzzy feeling that erupted in his chest, and instead looked at Loki. 'Who taught you magic?' he asked.

Loki immediately stiffened, and he kept his eyes on the large, flatscreen TV hanging from the wall opposite them. Tony frowned. Okay, so... touchy subject, then. Tony hadn't realised. Loki was just so... well, magical . When Tony thought of Loki, he thought of magic. It seemed like a really big part of him. It was his primary weapon, after all, and the thing that had set him apart from every other warrior in Asgard.

'Um... sorry?' Tony ventured. He wasn't really used to apologising and meaning it. He wasn't really used to caring when he pissed people off. Loki made him feel a lot of weird crap, apparently.

Loki sighed suddenly, or just breathed out heavily, eyes still on the TV. They weren't as hard now, though, and he turned to glance at Tony, offering the human a very small, very quick smile.

'I've been told that I was born in touch with my magic, but seeing as how I was... adopted , it's impossible for Frigga or Odin to know for sure.'

Frigga was Loki's mother, Tony remembered Thor speaking about her. She seemed to be the only person who really understood Loki or even truly care about him. Tony didn't know whether that was still true since Loki's “fall from grace”.

'In any case, Frigga often told me about the magical tricks I would pull when I was but a babe,' Loki continued after a beat. 'And Thor never wasted an opportunity to accuse me of cheating when we were small. Neither did the Warriors Three.' His eyes hardened briefly, but he moved on. 'In any case, I have always found magic easy. Difficult to control at times, depending on the spell; time-consuming and tiring, certainly. But it was always my favourite subject when I was young, and it was the one thing I excelled at; the one thing I was better at than Thor .'

Loki sighed. 'I had many tutors as a child. Asgard doesn't have any true mages left apart from my mother, and she didn't teach me until I grew older and it became clear that I was far more powerful magically than anyone else in Asgard. She started teaching me when I was three hundred. I would have been ten or so, in Midgardian terms.' He looked at Tony, then. 'I surpassed her when I was three-hundred and five.'

Tony blinked rapidly. Wow. Okay, so it had taken Loki all of five years to master whatever his mother had had to teach him.

'I haven't had a mentor since,' Loki finished. 'I've had instructors, but that was usually when I visited another Realm and wanted to learn something. I'd stay with someone for a week or two, sometimes a month, and then move on when I mastered their spells.'

'Wow,' Tony finally spoke. 'So, really, I shouldn't expect to be awesome at magic overnight then, huh? Then again, I am Tony Stark.'

It was a joke; a poor attempt by Tony to lighten the mood. It was clear that, while Loki loved magic and loved talking about it, him discussing his mother was a touchy subject.

Despite the sloppy attempt, Tony's words seemed to work. Loki relaxed slightly, and Tony hadn't realised how tense he was until that tension was gone. Loki slouched further back on the couch and drew Tony closer until the human was resting on his chest, an arm thrown around Loki's waist.

'Thank you, Stark,' he murmured, so softly that Tony might have missed the words, once upon a time. But he was a god, now. The apple hadn't just changed his durability.

'You're welcome,' he replied. Loki stroked his back once before burying his hand in Tony's hair. He used his grip to tug Tony up, twist him until Loki could crush their mouths together. Tony groaned and shivered, both in pleasure and pain. They didn't have to talk until the food arrived, Tony supposed; this was awesome, too.


{oOo}


Tony had barely swallowed his last bite of pizza before Loki was manhandling him, pulling the human back against his chest and setting them up in what Tony had labelled “Loki's Stupid Meditation Pose”. Loki didn't find it amusing, and gave Tony one raised eyebrow as the younger god got himself comfortable.

'Shut up,' Tony grunted, wiggling a bit until he went mostly still. 'I'm not used to remaining in one position for so long.'

Loki leaned forward to press a kiss to Tony's ear. 'You weren't complaining last night,' he purred, and Tony shivered.

'Yeah, well, that might have had something to do with the dick in my ass,' Tony grunted.

'You're a foul little Midgardian,' Loki commented.

'But I'm adorable, so you put up with me anyway,' Tony quipped.

Loki chuckled shortly before he grabbed Tony's hands. 'Relax, Anthony.'

'Yeah, yeah,' Tony muttered. He did as he was told, though. He took a deep breath through his nose, let it out through his mouth, and repeated the action a few times before letting his eyes slide closed. Loki was warm against his back, comfortable, like Tony's very own Jötunn pillow. Tony slouched a bit and Loki made no comment; he'd learned that Tony could relax better if he was comfortable. Just because Loki liked meditating like he had a stick up his ass, didn't mean that Tony did.

Tony slowly let those thoughts trickle from his mind. Loki had explained that meditation was more about the relaxation of one's mind than one's body; once the mind was silent, relaxed, the body would follow. The brain controlled everything, after all.

So Tony slowly let all thoughts- all sensations- leave him, even though ignoring the Norse God of Mischief he was propped up against seemed like a really bad idea. While Tony knew that Loki wouldn't- couldn't- hurt him, his lizard brain still thought that it was a bad idea. Loki was a predator, so Tony didn't blame his animal instincts.

Instead he tried to understand them, work through them, and slowly let them leave; he knew that Loki wouldn't hurt him, so he just had to convince his body of the same thing. It worked eventually, though Tony didn't know exactly how much time had passed before his body relaxed that much further. Loki could probably tell him, but Tony didn't want to interrupt the progress he was making.

He was making progress, right? Usually forty seconds into sitting still would have Tony's skin itching. It was near impossible to turn his brain off if he wasn't medicated with hospital-grade pain killers. Bruce had found that out the hard way after a particularly hairy battle with Loki himself. Loki had broken three of Tony's ribs and fractured his left ankle, and Bruce had wandered back into the medical wing aboard the Helicarrier to find Tony trying to escape via the air duct. Clint had had to drag him out.

'Focus, Anthony,' Loki suddenly whispered. Tony didn't jolt, or open his eyes, or... anything. He just took another deep breath to steady himself, and felt his memories slowly recede until, once again, it was just him and Loki. It was like the world was slowly slipping out of existence, replaced with the steady thump-thump-thump of Tony's heart loud in his ears, and the much quicker dance of Loki's own heart beat against is back.

Soon even Loki was nothing more than a blip on Tony's radar; still there, because Tony could feel his warmth, his heart, the slight inhale and exhale of each breath. But other than that, nothing. It was like Tony and Loki no longer existed as bodies, but... something else.

Tony didn't frown when something else trailed across his concious, though he wanted to; it was bright, like a large, glowing purple grape, and revolved somewhere around Tony's heart, only... not. Not physically, at least, but it was still there; Tony could feel it.

What the hell... he mused internally and reached out. His fingers- again metaphorical, seeing as how Tony could no longer really feel his fingers- brushed against the purple liquid, and suddenly something green and gold shot along his arms from his back, twining around Tony's entire being and anchoring him to... to something, something behind him.

Tony gasped, this time physically, and suddenly the purple... thing was all around him, in him, was him. The green and gold thing disappeared as soon as it had appeared, and the purple clawed at it, but had no choice but to let go.

Suddenly Tony was back in his body, eyes wide and breathing laboured. Behind him Loki was gasping just as heavily, his fingers curled tight around Tony's hands.

Tony's head hurt, and he felt like he'd just run a marathon, or battled Doom and his bots for twenty-four hours straight. He blinked rapidly and tried to get his bearings; first his eyes adjusted, set on the windows opposite him and Loki that showed the Manhattan skyline. Then he became aware of the cramp in his legs from sitting in the same position for too long, followed by the sharp sting of Loki's nails digging into his skin.

Finally, Tony took a deep breath and turned slightly to look at Loki. The Trickster's eyes were wide, a bright green that Tony only ever saw when Loki was battling with magic, or buried deep inside Tony's body. He looked feverish, though there wasn't a drop of sweat on him. Tony himself was covered in it; he could feel it, now, making his shirt stick to him, his hair feel damp and messy.

'Loki,' Tony breathed heavily, 'what the hell was that?'

Before Loki could answer, a loud alarm pierced the air from all around. Then, the entire Tower went into lockdown.

Chapter Text

'JARVIS!' Tony shouted and jumped to his feet. The alarm was loud- so much louder than it used to be, making Tony wince and cover his ears.

The alarm dimmed somewhat but didn't go off as JARVIS answered his creator. 'My apologies, sir,' he said. 'Master Odinson ordered that the alarm be trigged.'

'What?' Tony said. 'Why?'

There was a pause, before; ' He says that Loki is in the penthouse, sir .'

Tony's eyes widened and he looked at Loki, who cursed and leapt to his feet. 'That bastard,' he snarled. 'His grasp of magic is weak, but like I've said, he can track me down like nobody else. He was either looking specifically for me, or he sensed the magic we both used.'

'What?' Tony gaped again. 'JARVIS, where's Thor?'

' Captain Rogers' floor ,' JARVIS responded. ' And the Avengers are gathering, sir. I suggest that Mr Lie-smith disguise himself or leave. '

Loki cursed again and was suddenly bathed in green-gold magic. When it disappeared he was wearing his Asgardian armour, complete with horned helmet. 'Play along, Stark,' he ordered. 'I can't hurt you too badly; you'll heal quickly and the Avengers will grow suspicious.'

'No problem, babe,' Tony said. He raced across the penthouse and to the bar, grabbing his Iron Man bracelets. They were different to the ones he'd used when Loki had first attacked, but were still slightly outdated technology; at least according to Tony Stark's standards.

Tony twisted one of them, the smooth alloy easily bending beneath his fingers, and tossed it across the room. 'Blow something up!' Tony shouted as he snapped the other bracelet on and pressed the small, hidden gold button.

Loki did as asked. He held a hand out, summoned his spear, and then shot a bolt of magic at the other end of the bar. Granite and stone exploded, showering Tony and the room in debris. Tony felt bits of stone hit him, but they felt like rolled up balls of paper; there, but annoying rather than dangerous.

Loki tossed another ball of magic at the windows, making them explode in a shower of glass. Seconds later one of Tony's Iron Man gauntlets flew through the wreckage and attached itself to Tony's left hand. He pointed it at Loki, who paused. The elevator dinged in the following silence, and Loki tossed a hand at Tony. Tony had to hold back his shout of surprise when Logan suddenly appeared beside him, looking terrified and very, very real.

Clones , Tony remembered, right . It would have been weird, if Logan suddenly wasn't here when both Steve and Bruce had seen him and Tony together in the elevator earlier that morning.

The Avengers all piled into Tony's penthouse, Bruce keeping a good few feet of distance between himself and the others in case he Hulked Out. They all froze when they spotted Loki, and Thor took a step closer.

'Brother!'

Loki snarled and threw a dagger at the blonde god. Thor raised his hammer, though, easily deflecting the weapon and sending it into the wall.

'Loki, what are you doing here?' Thor demanded.

Loki ignored him and glared at Tony. 'Where is it?'

Tony had no idea what the hell it was supposed to be, but Loki had told him to play along. 'Nice try, Reindeer Games,' he said, 'but from where I'm standing, it's seven against one.'

Loki laughed. 'Seven?' he asked. 'Is your blonde play toy an Avenger now, Man of Iron?' His bright eyes flicked to Logan, who flinched back, hiding himself behind Tony.

Tony let his gaze sharpen, his entire demeanour changing as he shifted himself in front of Logan. 'Leave him alone, Loki,' Tony ordered, 'this has nothing to do with him.'

'It does now, Man of Iron,' Loki sneered. 'He put himself between you and me, remember? He attacked first.'

'He was defending himself!' Tony snapped.

Before Loki could reply, an arrow was suddenly embedded in his shoulder. He growled and twisted with the blow, magic erupting from his spear and shooting for the gathered Avengers. They all threw themselves aside and the floor where they'd been standing exploded, showering the group in tile and stone.

Clint quickly rolled back to his feet and nocked another arrow, sending it flying before he'd even regained his balance. Loki easily deflected it, and one of his daggers sliced through the air and into Clint's thigh, making him growl in pain and Natasha pull him back behind one of Tony's decorative tables.

A sudden loud, angry roar from the right of the room drew everyone's attention to Bruce. He was green, his shirt suddenly straining against the muscles now growing, and everybody froze. Loki snarled again and disappeared in a puff of thick green smoke that hang heavily in the air, making Tony and Logan cough.

'Shit,' Tony gasped and turned to his partner. 'Are you okay?'

Logan nodded and wiped his face with a shaky hand. Tony didn't know if it was the real Loki or a clone, and decided it'd just be easier to refer to him as Logan in his head for now.

'Everyone else?' Tony called into the room. It was thick with dust and smoke, but he heard his supposed team mates shout back that they were okay. Well, all except for Clint, who still had a dagger in his thigh. Tony had to bite back a snicker when he crossed the room to see Natasha applying pressure to the wound around the metal.

'I'm fine,' Bruce said when he reached them, shrugging off Steve's hand. 'We better get Clint down to the medical wing.'

Natasha and Clint both nodded, and Clint let himself be lifted by Steve, hobbling to the elevator.

'You too, Tony, Logan,' Bruce ordered. Tony glanced at Logan, who was still doing a very good job of looking completely fucking freaked out.

'O-Of course,' Logan said. Tony wrapped an arm around the taller man's waist, and guided Logan to the elevator.

Everyone crammed inside, and they were all silent as they travelled down to the medical ward. It shared the same floor as Bruce's personal lab, so Bruce knew his way around, and quickly directed everybody on where to sit and what supplies he needed. Steve, as the good boy scout he was, was quick to hop to, while Natasha sat at Clint's side. Thor was pacing back and forth by the glass doors, muttering under his breath and looking annoyed. Tony led Logan to a spare bed and made him sit. He still had his Iron Man gauntlet on, and busied himself with checking it over while Bruce tended to Clint.

'So,' Clint grunted when Bruce tugged the dagger out, 'what the hell was that?'

It took Tony a minute to realise that Clint was talking to him. 'What?'

'You heard me,' Clint said, then scowled when Bruce tore his jeans open to get a better look at the wound.

'What was Loki doing in your penthouse?' Natasha took over the interrogation; and it was an interrogation, Tony knew.

He shared a glance with Logan, who offered nothing but wide eyes, before turning back to his assembled “team mates”. 'He wanted my magic sensor,' Tony lied.

Steve and Clint both frowned, and Natasha asked, 'Magic sensor?'

'I'm trying to build a sensor that can detect magic within New York,' Tony revealed. 'If I can get it to work, then maybe we can find Loki's home base.'

'No, Son of Stark,' Thor suddenly interrupted. He'd finally stopped pacing, but still looked troubled. 'My brother is very skilled in shielding his magic. Not even Heimdall can find him when Loki doesn't wish it.'

'Okay...' Tony blinked, 'well, if I can get it to work I should at least be able to detect any magic he uses outside his, um... Lair of Evil, then. He can't cover every spell he casts if he's trying to steal something or remain unseen. So I'll be able to find out where he is, and we'll be able to get to him quicker than we do now.'

'Why haven't you told SHIELD about this?' Natasha asked.

Tony scowled at her. ''Cause it isn't finished , Natasha. I've only just moved on from blueprints, and the only magic I can study is Thor's. All of Loki's magic that I've studied is second-hand from SHIELD, or readings I've taken during our fights. It'll take time to get all the sensors to actually differentiate between magic and the background pollution of New York.'

'But Loki wanted it, even though you haven't finished it?' Natasha demanded.

Shrugging, Tony said, 'That's what he alluded to, yeah. He seemed to think that I was on the verge of a major breakthrough or something.'

'Perhaps you are,' Natasha mused, her eyes still hard, but now on the wall rather than Tony. 'Maybe he detected you detecting him, and came after the device in question.'

'Uh... maybe?' Tony shrugged again. 'I'll go over all my findings again and see if I missed anything.'

With that said, Tony turned to Logan, who'd remained completely quiet and mostly still.

'Are you okay?' he asked.

'Y-Yeah,' Logan stuttered. He took a deep breath and offered Tony a brief smile. 'I take it that that was Loki, the guy who invaded a few months back?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded, 'sorry about that.'

'I'm fine,' Logan murmured. 'I, um... do you think it's safe for me to go home?'

He looked up at Tony, meeting the inventor's eyes, and Tony recognised that glint. Usually it came from green eyes instead of blue, but it was familiar all the same.

So this wasn't a clone, then; it was the real Loki.

Tony nearly grinned. Loki had some balls, he had to admit; wandering around with the team that he'd just attacked, his adopted brother just a few feet away. Thor didn't seem to be taking any special interest in Logan, so he clearly hadn't noticed anything odd about the “human”.

'Uh...' Tony pretended to think about that, looking Loki over. 'I don't think so,' he admitted gently. 'I showed Loki that you're important to me, and he might target you to get to me.'

'What's to stop him from doing that even if I'm here?' Loki asked.

'He knows that Thor can sense him if he just pops in,' Tony said, 'and he can't kill either of us before he gets the magic sensor; if he kills you I won't give it to him, and if he kills me he'll never figure out where it is. So you're safer here than you'd be at your apartment.'

Loki took a few deep, shuddering breaths before nodding jerkily. 'I'll stay here, then,' he said.

Tony leaned forward to press a kiss to Loki's lips, and only pulled back when Bruce appeared before them. 'Let me check you both out, okay?' he said gently. 'Then you can go.'

Tony and Loki were silent as Bruce did just that, though Tony kept a sharp eye on Bruce's instruments and the readings he was taking. But apparently Loki didn't appear as anything other than human, and soon they were allowed to go. Natasha had moved towards Thor during Bruce's examinations, and had to step aside to let Tony and Loki out. She nodded at them both, but Tony ignored her in favour of getting into the elevator.

'Jesus,' he muttered as soon as he and Loki were alone, 'I can't believe-'

He was cut off by Loki's hand, firm against his lips. He raised both eyebrows, but Loki pressed a single finger to his own lips, and Tony nodded. Okay, then...

Loki drew back, and Tony was silent as Loki unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off. He felt underneath the collar for a few seconds before withdrawing what looked like a small black band-aid.

Loki looked back up at Tony to see him frowning. Rolling his eyes, Loki pressed two fingers to Tony's forehead.

'Whoa,' Tony breathed when he felt... something , prod at his mind.

' Make no sudden sounds, Stark, ' he said... only his lips weren't moving. ' I'm speaking directly into your mind, ' Loki elaborated.

Tony blinked rapidly. What the hell? he thought.

Apparently Loki could hear him, because he chuckled noiselessly. ' A trick I learned a few centuries ago, ' he said, ' one that Thor isn't aware of .'

Okay... Tony thought, so, uh... why?

'This,' Loki held up the band-aid, 'is a bug that Romanov slipped beneath my collar when we were leaving. Apparently she doesn't trust your recount of what happened. Either that, or she simply wishes to spy on us. Perhaps she thinks me a spy.'

Yeah, Tony thought, she brought that up after the team first met Logan . Loki nodded. So what do we do? Tony asked.

' We act completely normal until we reach your penthouse, ' Loki told him. ' We will discuss what happened, and I will act like I'm still shaken from the whole ordeal. We'll then drop my shirt somewhere in the hallway leading towards your bedroom. Romanov will think you removed my clothing for sex .'

Tony hummed before giving Loki a good leer. We could always actually remove our clothing...

Loki laughed, but it was inside Tony's head, which was weird. 'Perhaps,' he agreed. The doors opened and Loki withdrew his fingers, cutting himself off from Tony's head, and led the way back into the penthouse. The dust had settled, but there were various holes in Tony's walls and bar, and the coffee table had been blown into thousands of pieces.

'Good damn it,' Tony said out-loud. 'Loki has a habit of breaking all my shit.'

'At least he didn't break you,' Loki whispered. He sounded so damn worried, and thankful that Tony was alive. Tony grinned.

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. He paused when Loki took a deep, shaky breath, with was at odds with his cool, composed demeanour and expression. 'You okay?' Tony asked after a beat.

'I... I don't know,' Loki said slowly. 'I don't usually get attacked by gods.'

'He's not a real god,' Tony said, 'just an alien; a different race.'

'He can still throw balls of light that blow walls up!' Loki snapped.

'Hey, easy,' Tony said. He crossed the short distance between them and wrapped his arms around Loki. The taller man let himself be hugged, and buried his face in Tony's neck.

'I was so scared,' Loki mumbled, 'you could have been killed. I could have been killed.'

'But we weren't,' Tony replied. 'Believe me, babe, it'll take more than Loki of Asgard to kill Iron Man.'

Loki chuckled slightly, but it sounded weak. 'I'm glad you live with your team mates,' he murmured.

Tony pulled back and Loki gave him a shit-eating grin. Rolling his eyes, Tony tried to keep the sarcasm out of his voice as he said, 'Yeah, it's pretty great. We all get on each other's nerves sometimes, but we fight pretty well together.'

'I'm glad,' Loki repeated and leaned forward to capture Tony's lips. Tony groaned softly and kissed back, his hands smoothing from Loki's hips to his back, up, up, up until he could bury his fingers in Loki's short blonde hair. God, it was really weird petting curls when he wanted long, thick black hair, but Tony could deal. It was still Loki underneath the glamour, which was all that Tony wanted.

When Loki pulled back to kiss and nibble on Tony's jaw, his neck, Tony said, 'Wanna take this to the bedroom?'

'Mm,' Loki hummed and started backing towards the hallway.

'Remind me to call some contractors tomorrow,' Tony grunted as he let Loki tug him along, one of the Trickster's hands fisted in his t-shirt. 'Good chance to remodel my penthouse... again.'

Thanks to you, Tony added mentally. He wasn't sure if Loki was still reading his thoughts, but when the older man growled, 'Shut up, Tony,' Tony decided to do as he was told. They stopped just before Tony's bedroom and Loki slipped the bug back under the collar of his shirt before dropping it on the floor. He then pulled Tony into the bedroom, Tony slamming the door behind them.

'JARVIS, disable the bug but don't destroy it,' Tony ordered. 'I don't want Romanov knowing that we found it.'

' Yes, sir ,' JARVIS replied.

'Stark,' Loki growled. Tony looked up at him. Loki's eyes were still blue, but were alight with a desire that Tony had become very familiar with. Loki leaned forward, his next words whispered over Tony's lips. ' Fuck me .'

'Yes, sir,' Tony said, and Loki laughed, even when he was pushed onto the large bed.



{oOo}



'Hey, Loki?' Tony said.

Loki hummed but didn't open his eyes. He was spread out on Tony's rather impressive bed, limbs sprawled all over the place, face sated. Which was awesome, considering that Tony had spent the past hour fucking Loki through one orgasm, then right into the second. He'd only come once himself, but he was sure, after a short breather, he'd be good to go again. Loki didn't seem to be in any hurry.

'Loki,' Tony repeated.

Loki sighed. 'What, Stark?'

'Tony,' the inventor corrected. Loki half-heartedly tried to throw a pillow at him, but Tony grabbed it and shoved it under his head.

'What?' Loki asked again.

'We haven't talked about what happened,' Tony said, 'you know, before Robin Hood and his Merry Men burst in.'

'Robin Hood?' Loki questioned, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

'I'll show you a movie sometime,' Tony decided. 'Anyway, yeah, uh... you know, that whole purple grape thing?'

Loki looked even more confused and finally rolled over to face Tony properly. 'Purple grape?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'I was meditating, and I was, uh... in my head, I think.'

'Your mindscape,' Loki corrected. 'It's a place where you have an awareness of your mind, no matter what state you're in. You're able to control your imagination, your dreams and memories, and, if you have it, your magic. Well,' he corrected himself after a pause, 'it's more a space for getting in touch with your magic, and healing it if it needs to be healed. I suppose that you could consider your mindscape a place to begin; it's where you'll learn to manipulate your magic until it becomes second nature.'

'Yeah...' Tony mused.

'You saw a purple grape in your mindscape?' Loki asked, sounding far too amused.

Tony scowled at him. 'It wasn't an actual purple grape, you asshole. That's just... the closest thing I can think of to describe it. It was like a purple... energy, or liquid. It was around my heart, but then it wasn't. Like, it was there one second, and the next it was me. Does that make sense?'

Loki chuckled, but nodded. 'Yes, Anthony. Those are similar words that other young mages and magic wielders use when they first discover their magic. They're usually babies, however.'

Tony kicked Loki under the sheets, but the older god managed to roll them over until he was sprawled across Tony's smaller body. Loki pressed a delicate kiss to Tony's arc reactor, and then kissed around it.

'So,' Tony said, running his fingers through Loki's hair, 'I have magic.'

'Indeed,' Loki mumbled.

'Is that what brought Thor down on us?' Tony asked.

Loki sighed and propped himself up, chin on Tony's chest. 'No,' he said, and Tony raised his eyebrows. 'Thor is unable to detect Midgardian magic. When I suggested, years ago, that this Realm could very well contain magic, Thor called me a fool. This was before either of us had visited; he never thought highly or you mortals until he started fighting with you.'

'No shit,' Tony snorted. 'Remember his face when I said that you were my boyfriend?'

Loki scowled. 'Asgard may be more advanced in some areas, but it is backwards in many others. It is the only Realm that shows disgust to what you call same-sex couplings. No other Realm, not even Jötunheimr, finds anything wrong with two men or two women fucking each other. In fact, most Jötnar are hermaphrodites.'

Tony nearly knocked Loki out when he sat up suddenly, sending Loki across the mattress.

'Stark!' he snapped.

'Are you telling me that you have a cock and a vagina?' Tony demanded.

Loki snorted. 'I'm currently in my Æsir form, if you hadn't noticed,' he said. 'Well, close enough,' he added when he looked down and realised that he was still Logan Thomas.

'Yeah, but...' Tony took a breath, 'in your Jötunn form, you have both?'

'No,' Loki said, and rolled his eyes when Tony pouted. 'As I said, most Jötnar are both sexes, but not all. I'm not, neither was King Laufey, his wife, or any of his ancestors. It has long been a belief amongst them that a leader of the Jötnar must be one sex to ensure healthy offspring that will one day lead the combined tribes well. Also, they believe that a pregnant leader is a weaker leader.' Suddenly, he scowled. 'Of course, that didn't work out well for Laufey with his firstborn.'

Tony blinked. 'Why's that?'

Loki stared at him, and Tony stared right back. This was probably another thing that Loki assumed Tony knew when he didn't. While Thor talked about his brother a lot- a lot, the dude was obsessed- and about Asgard in general, he was usually very tight-lipped about Loki's heritage, and the Jötnar in general.

'You... Thor hasn't told you,' Loki stated. Tony shook his head. 'I was the runt offspring of King Laufey and Queen Farbauti,' Loki said.

Tony stared at him. 'So... wait,' he frowned. 'You were born a prince, and then raised as a different prince?'

'Indeed,' Loki snorted. 'From my research, which has taken up a lot of this past year, I was Laufey and Farbauti's firstborn son. Ergo, I was heir to the throne of Jötunheimr when Odin decided to... adopt me.'

Tony frowned a bit as he said, 'It doesn't sound like you believe Odin... uh, adopted you.'

'He stole me,' Loki said. 'When the truth came out, Odin told me that I was left for dead; abandoned due to my small size and weak nature. But I have always been strong of magic. Despite my physical deformities, not even Laufey would be stupid enough to abandon a babe capable of that much magical power. It's more likely that I was hidden from the general populace until I was older and could be trained in magic. Jötnar have never believed magic to be a weakness or a trick, and if I could prove myself as a mage, my small size would have been forgotten.'

Loki shook his head and flopped back onto the bed. 'Another lie told by Odin, my apparent father,' Loki growled. 'And another lie that Thor refuses to see through.'

'You've told him all this?' Tony asked.

'Of course,' Loki replied. 'He always wants to talk when we face each other in battle. But he never listens. In his eyes, Odin can do little wrong.'

'Odin sounds like an asshole,' Tony grunted, and Loki laughed.

'He's far worse than that,' Loki murmured. 'In all honesty, even Thor would make a better King than Odin.'

Tony's eyebrows flew up. Loki despised Thor. 'Why's that?'

'Thor is many things, but a tyrant is not one of them,' Loki said, 'not any more. He has grown much in these past few years, and he listens to those he believes capable. Thor isn't capable of using others for his own means, not to the extent that Odin is. He's not good at manipulating people. I would very much love to cut out Odin's remaining eye and then slay him.'

Tony pondered that while Loki fell silent. Apparently story time was over. 'Well, let's take over Midgard first, then Asgard,' Tony decided.

Loki cracked a small smile, and Tony rolled over the bed to get closer. He propped himself up on an elbow and looked down at Loki.

'So, we were talking about my magic before you went off into a tirade about your problems. Seriously, Rudolph, I need some me time.'

Loki's hand slithered beneath the twisted sheets to pinch Tony's ass, and the younger god yelped and reached back to rub the sore spot. 'My name is not Rudolph,' Loki said pleasantly.

'You're a bitch,' Tony grumbled, but Loki just grinned at him. 'Anyway. Magic. Purple. Giant grape.'

Loki snorted and turned his gaze on the ceiling. 'What you sensed- the purple liquid/grape/whatever you want to call it- was your magic, Stark. A lot more than I originally hoped you'd have.'

'Yeah?' Tony said. 'That's 'cause I'm awesome. You should really be used to it, babe.'

'That's what I'm afraid of,' Loki mused, but quickly moved on. 'My magic reacted to yours and reached for it; that was what Thor sensed. My magic escaped my control briefly, not enough for Heimdall or anyone in Asgard to detect it, but enough for Thor, who was only a few floors below us.'

'Right,' Tony nodded. 'So why did your magic react to mine? Were you in my mindscape or something?'

'I was monitoring,' Loki revealed, 'but no, I would never step properly into your mind without your permission. It's not in our contract, but it's not something I would ever do unless we were in extreme circumstances.'

''Cause you've had someone in your head without your permission,' Tony said.

Loki nodded. 'And I was in the Hawk's mind, as well as others, for a period of time. It isn't pleasant, especially when the owner of said mind is fighting with everything they have to regain control. Barton might not remember it, but he and the others were screaming all the time, trying to break free. It gave me a constant migraine.'

'Damn,' Tony whistled, 'mind-controlled, half-starved and dead, suffering a migraine, and still kicking our asses.' Tony leaned over to peck Loki on the nose. 'You're just the best super villain ever .'

'I'm not sure if I find you amusing or annoying,' Loki said.

Tony grinned. 'Adorable is what you're going for.'

'I very much doubt that.'

Tony laughed and shifted closer. Loki opened one arm and draped it over Tony's shoulders when Tony moved closer, his long fingers gently playing with Tony's hair.

'So,' Tony said after a few minutes, 'I have magic.'

'Indeed,' Loki replied.

'That's awesome,' Tony beamed. 'And I have more than you thought I would.'

'You either have alien blood in your ancestry,' Loki said, 'or you're simple one of a kind. The Apple might have helped enlarge and heal the core you already had, allowing more magic to flow within you.'

'Hmm,' Tony hummed. 'Being awesome is better than having an elf in the family,' he decided. Loki chuckled softly, chest barely moving against Tony. 'So what do you think I'll be able to do?' Tony asked.

'All manner of things,' Loki replied. 'Shields, elemental magic, wards. You may even be able to achieve teleportation.'

'Awesome,' Tony declared. 'Hey, will I be able to shape-shift?' he demanded. ''Cause I bet I'd be a hot woman.'

'I doubt it,' Loki said, smirking when Tony pouted at him. 'Shape-shifting is due to my biology rather than my magic. Not all Jötnar can shape-shift, but those of us with magic can.'

'Damn it,' Tony sighed. He settled back against Loki. 'Oh, well. I like my body as it is.'

'Yes, I rather like it, too,' Loki replied. He reached out to touch Tony's hip, then his stomach, fingers skimming down towards the soft curls that surrounded the base of Tony's cock.

Tony shivered and arched into the touch when he felt Loki's knuckles smooth down his shaft towards his balls. 'Damn it, Loki, you're gonna fuck me into an early grave.'

'Good idea,' Loki beamed. 'Let's start now.'

Tony laughed as Loki rolled over, on top of him once more. The sound was caught by Loki's lips and quickly turned into a groan when Loki rolled against him, their groins pressed together. 'Harder,' Tony ordered when they broke apart, and Loki was quick to do as asked.

He fixed his mouth to Anthony's neck and sucked, nibbled, and licked as he got Tony all hot and bothered. Only when the human was begging would Loki slide down onto his cock, let him find his relief.

Loki's magic danced beneath his skin wherever he touched Stark, but he kept a tight leash on it. While it would be delicious to bend his magic with Tony's, especially during sex, they couldn't afford it. Tony had no idea how to control his magic yet; he was too young, too volatile. Besides, Thor was still close by. This wouldn't be the first time that Thor ruined one of Loki's conquests.

Soon , Loki purred to himself as he reached down to wrap a hand around Anthony's cock. Soon he and Anthony would join together completely, their magic singing. It would be glorious, Loki knew.

After all, his magic had already recognised Stark as the perfect mate.

Chapter Text


 

Loki woke to kisses and strokes being pressed to his back, the bristles covering Stark's face sliding along his smooth skin, just seconds before or after his lips press delicately. Loki hummed and shifted a bit beneath the sheets, but made no move to turn and return Stark's kisses. It felt nice, Loki could admit. His head was still foggy with sleep, and his body felt relaxed after their previous night. He hummed again and Stark chuckled, clearly knowing that he'd woken Loki and gotten his attention.

When he paused, Loki growled, 'Stop and you die.'

'You're usually a morning person,' Stark replied. He pressed his lips between Loki's shoulder blades. 'What gives?'

'I am tired, Anthony,' Loki replied.

'Gotta get up soon,' Tony said.

Loki raised an eyebrow but still didn't turn. 'Why?'

'Contractors,' Tony said. ''Cause, you know, you blew a few holes in my penthouse.'

Loki finally rolled over. Anthony was propped up on one elbow, the other hand falling from Loki's lower back to cup his arse. His hair was a mess (which just made him that much more handsome, not that Loki would ever admit it), and he had pillow imprints across one cheek and his forehead.

'What?' Tony said, both eyebrows rising.

'It was you who told me to blow some things up, remember?' Loki reminded him.

Stark rolled his eyes. 'Yeah, it would've looked weird if the Avengers walked in and we were just having a chat.'

Loki smirked and rolled his hips back, pressing his arse more firmly into Stark's hand. The human's eyes narrowed and darkened that bit more, making Loki's smirk widen. 'Imagine if they'd walked in any other time,' he said. 'Like when I fucked you in your workshop.'

'Or when I fucked you against the windows,' Tony replied.

Loki chuckled. 'I still feel that it would go better if I fucked you against the windows.'

'Hey, I'm a god now!' Stark pouted.

It really looked adorable on him, and Loki had to roll over, situating himself atop Stark and straddling his hips. Hel forbid Stark actually figure out that Loki often found him adorable.

'I am still stronger than you, Stark,' Loki purred before nipping the younger god's lips. Tony groaned and kissed back, his beard scraping against Loki's own smooth face. 'Frost Giants are always stronger.'

'So you're stronger than Thor?' Stark asked.

Loki ignored the faint pang of annoyance that his former brother's name brought, and said, 'Negative. You forget that I'm a runt, and Thor is more muscle than brain.'

That made Stark laugh and Loki swallowed the sound with his lips. Stark started thrusting upward, his half-hard cock now lengthening as it filled with blood. Apparently they weren't just playing this morning, then. Loki decided that he wanted Stark in him and sat up, the sheets falling to tangle around their bodies.

Stark watched with dark eyes as Loki reached for the bottle of what Midgardian's called “lubricant”. It made sex between two men smoother, Loki had found, and he had once again been surprised by Midgardian's abilities to make so many handy little things. Every other Realm Loki had visited used various types of oil for penetration, and it always stained the bedcloths horribly and make the parties involved slippery. It often “killed the mood”, as Stark would say.

Loki pressed the large bottle against Stark's chest and said, 'Prepare me.' It was more an order than a suggestion, but Anthony didn't complain. He sat up slightly and slicked a few fingers on his right hand before dropping the bottle. Loki lifted himself, and groaned breathlessly as Stark's fingers probed around his entrance.

Loki was still slightly loose from last night- Stark really was very good at satisfying the Trickster- so the Midgardian managed to get two fingers in easily. Loki rolled himself backwards, taking Stark's fingers deeper and deeper every other thrust. Soon Stark had four fingers buried inside him, and Loki was close to riding the digits to completion.

'Hey, don't leave me out!' Stark muttered and withdrew his fingers.

'Then hurry up!' Loki snapped. Stark laughed at him, and Loki's eyes narrowed. Very well, then... Loki slid forward and grabbed Stark's cock with one hand, wrangling a gasp from the younger man that quickly turned into a groan as Loki lined himself up. He pressed his free hand to Stark's firm chest, over the arc reactor, as he slid down, taking Stark's length in inch by inch until he was fully seated.

Loki didn't give Stark- or himself- a chance to grow comfortable. He lifted himself almost immediately and slammed back down, just hard enough that they'd both feel it, not so hard that he'd damage either of them. A hurt Tony Stark would be no fun to play with.

'Jesus, Lokes!' Tony groaned and pushed up as best he could. But Loki was heavy, and flexible, meaning that he was in control of their coupling. Loki smirked down at Anthony as he moved faster and faster, pace picking up until he was riding Stark with abandon. He really was the prefect length; not too big, not too fat, just enough to fill Loki and make him ache for more.

Loki shifted a bit on every second or third thrust, trying to find that spot- a prostate, Stark called it- that would make their coupling that much better. It was Stark who found it, his hands gripping Loki's hips and pushing him a bit further up before jamming his full length into Loki's body. His cock slammed into Loki's prostate and made him shout in pleasure. Loki had never been a silent lover, and Stark seemed to enjoy it, so the Trickster saw no need to remain silent now.

Loki tipped himself forward slightly, braced on his knees and hands, as Stark manhandled him yet again, shifting and tugging until he could slam into Loki's prostate over and over again. The new angle pressed Loki's cock against Stark's belly, his shaft sliding along warm, slightly hairy skin. Loki left a trail of pre-come across Stark's stomach, and he whined softly in the back of his throat. The pressure wasn't enough to tip him over the edge, and Loki would very much like to climax, now.

Apparently Tony could read him, because his right hand slid away from Loki's hip and pressed between their stomachs. He managed to wrap a hand around Loki's cock and Loki hissed as he thrust into the warm hand, Stark's fingers pulling against his skin deliciously. Loki tipped his head up to capture Stark's lips, and the human groaned and panted into his mouth, their teeth clacking together and tongues sloppy rather than delicate.

Loki didn't care; he felt glorious, Stark's cock slamming into him repeatedly, the human's grip strong around his cock. Loki rolled his hips back, chasing his orgasm, and mere minutes after staring Stark brought him to completion. Loki grit his teeth as he came, but Stark's given name still escaped, making a smirk spread across Stark's red, slightly sweaty face.

Loki growled and slammed their mouths back together, clenching purposefully around Anthony's length still within him. He fucked himself back onto Stark's cock, faster and faster, until the human's nails broke his skin and Tony shouted, 'LOKI!' at the top of his breath.

I hope nobody heard that, Loki mused as Anthony flopped, boneless, back onto the mattress. His chest was heaving with each breath, and his cock still throbbed inside Loki, making Loki shiver every so often. Eventually Loki slid from the human and flopped onto the bed himself. Soon his breath slowed and his body temperature returned to what was normal for a Midgardian.

'Damn, Loki,' Tony groaned.

'Mm?' Loki hummed.

'Fuck me,' Tony breathed. 'Into an early grave,' he then added in a chuckle, which made Loki snicker in amusement.

The older god rolled over to prop himself up on Stark's bicep, and he enjoyed how it flexed beneath his cheek.

'You said something about contractors?' he questioned.

'Mm,' Tony nodded. 'I gotta keep an eye on them, because I wouldn't put it past Fury to sneak some SHIELD agents in and try and set up surveillance. JARVIS would find anything that put in, anyway, but it still helps to watch.'

'Indeed,' Loki agreed. 'Will I have to make an appearance?'

'Um... eventually, maybe?' Tony shrugged. 'You don't have to, but if you have any ideas you can tell me. I like remodelling the penthouse.'

'How many times have you done so?' Loki asked.

'About a dozen by now,' Tony said. 'Sometimes I tinker with one too many things and scorch something, or get drunk and fly the suit into the wall. Then there was that time you fought the Hulk in my living room, and two weeks after the builders finished with that, Doom sent forty Doombots after me.'

Loki scowled. He was very, very glad that Victor was dead. Nobody was allowed to touch what belonged to Loki, much less hurt it.

'Anyway, JARVIS told me that the builders will be here at nine,' Tony added.

'When?' Loki asked.

'Just before you jumped me,' Tony said, a grin on his face.

Loki smirked. 'You enjoyed it.'

'Yeah, I did,' Tony agreed. He tugged his arm from beneath Loki's head, making Loki flop onto the pillow and then glare at him when the engineer laughed. 'I gotta shower and change; It's already eight-thirty.' He tumbled out of the bed and stood, stretching and giving Loki a good view of his golden skin. 'Wanna join me?' Tony asked, wiggling his eyebrows.

Loki grunted and buried his face in a pillow. While he felt wet and sticky, he didn't want to move. He could always bathe when he felt more awake.

'Suit yourself,' Tony said and disappeared into the en-suite bathroom.

Loki just hummed.


{oOo}


Truly fascinating, Loki mused once again, about the seventh or eighth time since he'd woken. He had dozed on and off since Stark had left the bedroom, but the constant banging from further down the hallway, as well as hushed voices, had woken Loki completely. He felt even stickier than before, and slightly crusty, so knew that he'd have to get up and at least get himself clean before joining Anthony in the living room.

Loki was still disguised as Logan Thomas, which was easier than he would have assumed before sinking into it. Midgardians and Æsir were similar in body structure, the Æsir simply stronger built and generally larger. Loki had spent most of his life as an Æsir, and as such it wasn't too difficult keeping up this skin.

Loki stretched and then shifted under the covers. He felt the cooler temperature more deeply in this form, and was grateful for Stark's mountain of sheets, blankets and pillows. It was quite comfortable, and the lack of fur set it apart from Loki's past chambers on Asgard. While he missed parts of the Realm, he truly didn't miss the palace all that much. Too much gold.

Loki's mind wandered back to the magic he had sensed coiled tight within Stark's body. It had truly been beautiful- at least what Loki had sampled had been beautiful. Like he had told Stark, he hadn't been within the man's mindscape. Before his magic had recognised Stark's, he hadn't been capable of breaching the human's mind. The arc reactor in Anthony's chest distorted Loki's magic, made it near impossible to enter Anthony's mind.

But his magic, oh... it was surprising, yet delicious. Loki had caught flashes of purple, like Anthony had mentioned, as well as fire, chaos, darkness; all the things that Loki's own magic projected, minus the fire. Loki was in no way the God of Fire, and had no idea where that rumour had come from. Loki had always had trouble conjuring fire, or even manipulating fire that already existed. He hadn't known why in his youth, just seeing it as a failure. Now he knew that he was a Frost Giant; it made sense.

Stark's magic was so very... well, Stark. And it had reached out to Loki's magic, had pulled him in, wanted to... mate, for lack of a better word. It was why Loki had been able to project his thoughts into Tony's head, and in turn read the human's own thoughts. Stark might not care for him beyond their contract and their sexual compatibility, but Stark's magic had recognised what Loki's had; they were almost a perfect match.

They weren't soulmates, such a thing didn't exist, at least not that Loki had seen. No, Loki's magic simply recognised Stark's as being the most compatible; the best person for Loki to tie himself to in mind, body, and soul. Stark would care for Loki, understand him, and produce strong, healthy offspring. Of course, such a thing wasn't physically possible between the two unless Loki shape-shifted into a woman, but magic didn't recognise things like gender and biology. Of course, them both being male could be overcome if magic wished it; if they both wanted children, born from their bodies, magic would make it happen. It had a mind of its own, that way.

Loki wondered if he should tell Stark. The younger god might dislike Loki's magic reaching out to his, even though his own had agreed thoroughly. They were lovers, nothing more, even though Loki's feelings for Anthony had changed quite a bit since they had first met. In the beginning, Stark had just been an idiotic Midgardian warrior, on par with the likes of Thor and the Warriors Three. When Loki had returned after escaping from Asgard, he had noted Stark's intelligence, his cunning, his ability to constantly surprise Loki, no matter how many times they battled. Now they were sharing food and drink, space and time, sipping from each other's bodies and, more recently, each other's magic.

Loki had always trusted his magic; it was his greatest asset and weapon, what defined him and set him apart from all others. If his magic said that Stark was the best mate for him, then he was. Of course, Loki could ignore his magic, and the pull of Stark's own. He and Stark could simply remain partners and occasionally have sex, perhaps one day severing that tie and moving onto other bed partners. But the connection would always be there, simmering below the surface, pushing and pushing to finally be completed.

It was too soon, Loki thought. Even if he fell for Stark- which Loki wasn't sure he was actually capable of- it was much too soon in their more amicable relationship to think of bonding and creating a life-time connection. Maybe one day, in time, they would reach that point. But for now things were too new, and Loki had no idea how he really felt about Stark. He was fascinating, truly; beautiful and unique and chaotic. He was vicious when need be, fiercely protective of what he considered his, and would always find a way to confound the enemy and get what he wanted.

A truly perfect match. Perhaps, in time, Loki thought yet again, we may grow closer.

Shaking his head, Loki finally climbed out of the mound of blankets and sheets he'd been wrapped in, padding naked into Stark's rather nice bathroom. He much preferred baths over showers, but figured that he might as well wash quickly and go to join Stark. Who knew what trouble the younger god had gotten himself into without Loki watching over him.

Chapter Text

Tony wasn't all that surprised when Pepper stepped out of the elevator, her heels clicking against the floor as she walked into the living room. Most of the rubble had been cleared away and stacked against the walls, ready to be thrown out or possibly re-built into the floor. Part of the bar had been lifted up and out of the floor when Loki had destroyed it, but both Tony and the building manager had agreed that the floor structure- and the walls- were undamaged.

There were twelve men in all, all moving quickly and efficiently. Tony had already put in an order for the various things needed to rebuild the bar and floors, and the builders had brought along plaster and tiles themselves. Tony had worked with them before, and they'd managed to rebuild the entire living room after Doom's first attack within four days. They were private contractors, and while Tony trusted their work, he didn't trust SHIELD. They could have very well smuggled an agent in as a simple builder, so Tony watched them all and had JARVIS monitor them constantly, any discrepancies to be reported to Tony's StarkPhone.

'Natasha called me,' Pepper said when she reached Tony, easily stepping over the small hole that Loki had blasted when he'd aimed for the Avengers.

Again, Tony wasn't surprised. Pepper and Natasha had hit it off the first time they'd met, and their friendship had only gotten better since Natasha's real identity had been revealed.

'Of course she did,' Tony said, 'you girls love gossiping about me.'

Pepper rolled her eyes but didn't look at Tony, instead surveying the building. 'What happened?'

'Natasha didn't tell you?' Tony asked.

Pepper sighed. Their relationship had crashed and burned pretty spectacularly, and their friendship hadn't managed to survive all that well. They could still be friendly, and Pepper still ran his company, but they barely ever talked, not like they used to. Tony had been surprised to find that he didn't miss her all that much. He'd always be thankful for what Pepper had done for him, and how she'd helped him both before and just after Afghanistan, but... yeah, Tony found that he didn't miss her presence all that much.

'Natasha just said that Loki attacked, that was it,' Pepper said. 'I don't understand why; he hasn't attacked the Tower since his invasion.'

'Yeah,' Tony said. He'd always kind of found that odd, and resolved to ask Loki when they were alone. Loki had already proven that he could teleport in and out of the Tower without alerting anyone- unless Thor was close by, of course- so why hadn't he done that when he'd first escaped? He could have teleported into the Tower, killed the Avengers, and been gone before Thor could return and warn them.

It was just another thing that made Tony realise that Loki didn't exactly want them dead. Tony because he was interesting- he knew he was- and because they now had a deal, and the others because they were amusing. Thor, Steve and Bruce would probably be the hardest to kill, but really, Loki could probably decapitate them before they even knew he was there. Natasha and Clint would be easy to kill- they were master assassins, but still human. No amount of skill would save your life if your murderer could walk around invisible.

When Tony shook his thoughts clear, he found Pepper staring at him. 'What?'

'Are you okay?' Pepper asked, some of that old worry creeping into her tone and eyes.

'I'm fine,' Tony shrugged. 'He didn't hurt me or anyone else, just Clint.'

'What did he want?' Pepper asked.

'The magic sensor I'm working on,' Tony said. That's what he'd already told the others, so he figured he'd stick to the story. Of course, now SHIELD would want to see the scanner and build their own. Maybe Tony could blow up all his research and blame Loki. He really didn't want SHIELD figuring out how to track Loki. Or himself, now that he had discovered his magic.

Tony felt a flutter behind his heart and frowned slightly. He wondered if that was his magic, or just his head playing tricks on him. Either was possible, he supposed, and decided he'd just ask Loki later. They still had to figure out where they could talk and study magic; Tony couldn't very well learn how to use his own with Thor in the Tower. It would involve Loki showing him how to cast spells and throw magic, which he couldn't do near Thor.

Tony nearly sighed. The Avengers were really cramping his life.

'I didn't know you were working on a magic scanner,' Pepper said.

'I didn't tell anyone,' Tony replied. 'I've only just started building it and running tests. It's still in its beta stage, nowhere near complete. I'm surprised Loki even bothered coming after it; it's not like it works.'

'Trying to figure out crazy people's motives is crazy itself,' Pepper said.

Tony snorted. 'Yeah, you've told me before.' Multiple times. In detail. Half of what he did was considered crazy by everyone else's standards. Good thing that Tony didn't want to be sane.

'I have,' Pepper agreed, and then they fell into an awkward silence. They'd never really had awkward silences before; before Afghanistan, before Iron Man, before their romantic relationship and that fucking portal/wormhole/thing. A lot had changed in the past few years. Tony had changed a lot.

Before Pepper could ask any more questions, or Tony could fuck up and make the awkward silence more awkward, Loki shuffled into the room from the hallway. He was dressed in dark denim jeans and a dark blue sweater, which set off Logan Thomas' blue eyes nicely. Tony briefly mourned the lack of poison-greeneyes before smiling when Loki glanced his way.

'Hey, Lo,' he said. 'Thought you'd sleep a while longer.'

'I want to,' Loki yawned, and Tony wasn't sure if it was real or for show, 'but the constant banging kept me from falling asleep again.' He finally caught sight of Pepper- or just pretended to- and smiled shyly. 'I wasn't aware you had company.'

'Oh, this is Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries,' Tony explained. He and Loki had already talked about Pepper, and Loki had done his research way back before they'd first met face-to-face, but they had to keep up Loki's disguise.

So Loki smiled and held his hand out, saying, 'Logan Thomas, I'm Tony's boyfriend,' as Pepper shook it.

'Yes, so I've heard,' she smiled warmly at him, before scowling at Tony. 'And really, thank you for not telling Cameron about having a boyfriend.'

Tony frowned. 'Who's Cameron?'

'The head of your PR team, Tony,' Pepper sighed.

'Oh,' Tony blinked, 'right. Well, um... me and Logan just sorta happened, and I wasn't gonna keep him locked in my bedroom. Guy's gotta eat, right?'

Loki looked entirely too amused, and Tony poked his tongue out at him when Pepper wasn't looking.

'Honestly, Tony, you don't seem to realise the absolute storm that follows when you so much as step out in public. People wonder about your diet, your work, your Avengers missions, what suit you're wearing, where you're eating, everything. When you suddenly step out in public with a boyfriend, when most of the world's media has forgotten that you're bisexual, is just asking for thousands of emails and hate mail to be sent to the Tower.'

'Well fuck them,' Tony muttered. Pepper sighed again and pinched the bridge of her nose. 'No, seriously, my sexuality and who I'm dating is nobody's fucking business,' Tony growled. 'I don't care how famous I am, they should leave me the fuck alone.'

'Yes, they should,' Pepper agreed. She, of course, had experience, both from being Tony's PA, then CEO, and briefly his girlfriend. 'But humans have a tendency to want to know everything about celebrities.'

'Sometimes I think I should go and live in the woods,' Tony mused, making Loki snort and Pepper roll her eyes. 'I could build an awesome tree-house.'

'With no electricity?' Pepper asked.

'I'd totally build a waterfall and get my electricity that way,' Tony replied.

Pepper just stared at him, probably wondering if Tony was drunk. He wasn't, just for the record. In fact, he hadn't been drinking all that much lately. What with his various projects in the lab, Loki's general presence, and his and the Trickster's shared plans/magic lessons/etc, Tony hadn't really had time to get wasted and make a general ass out of himself.

Hmm... he and Loki should go party. Unwind a bit. Dry hump each other in some gay club somewhere and really make Tony's PR team work for their salaries. Awesome, Tony's Saturday was set.

Pepper seemed to realise that Tony had come up some horrendous plan that would either equal more work for her, or more health problems for him, so went on the attack. 'Tony, you've got four meetings this coming week, and the England offices need to be finalised.'

Tony frowned. 'English offices?'

'Yes, Tony,' Pepper groaned. 'You're expanding the English branch of Stark Industries, remember? Bigger building in London, more underground workshops, etcetera.'

Tony blinked rapidly. He vaguely remembered commenting about English accents and how awful some of their food was a few weeks ago... 'Oh, right,' he hummed. 'That building that's gonna cost me millions of dollars.'

'And bring in millions more as well as put more Stark tech into the British market, as well as create more jobs for the local English people, yes,' Pepper agreed.

'Right, right,' Tony nodded. 'Hey, didn't we decide to expand to other countries, too?'

'Tony, there's no need for a Stark Industries Headquarters in Hawaii,' Pepper growled.

Tony pouted. 'Why not?'

Pepper rolled her eyes and said, 'I'll think about it,' which meant no, and made Tony's pout deepen.

'I didn't know you were expanding in England,' Loki commented, effectively bringing himself into the conversation and ensuring he had both their attention. 'We should visit sometime,' Loki continued. 'I could show you where I grew up.'

'Does your family still live in England?' Pepper asked. Tony couldn't tell if she was actually curious, or just making nice with Tony's new beau. She'd already figured out that Loki wasn't just another one-night stand, but whether she thought that Loki was gonna stick around or not, Tony didn't know. He really didn't care either way.

'Some cousins, I'm sure, but not any that I'm aware of,' Loki told her. 'My parents died when I was eighteen.'

'Oh, I'm sorry,' Pepper frowned.

Loki shrugged. 'It happened a fair while ago, and while it still hurts, I've thankfully managed to go on with my life.'

Pepper nodded, face a mask of understanding. Tony nearly snorted when he read the sincere concern in Pepper's gaze. If Loki kept fucking this much with the people in Tony's life, Tony'd end up bursting into laughter at an inappropriate time and ruin their entire plan.

'Well,' Pepper said suddenly, and Tony turned to her, 'I just came to find out what happened, and to remind you of the meetings next week. I've got to get back to work.' She looked at Loki, smiling. 'It was nice to meet you, Logan.'

'Likewise, Ms Potts,' Loki replied.

Tony snorted and Pepper turned to glare warningly at him. 'Don't forget the meetings, Tony.'

'I won't,' Tony pouted once more.

'I'll be calling JARVIS to remind him,' Pepper said.

'I'll make sure to pencil the meetings into Mr Stark's schedule, Ms Potts,' JARVIS joined in smoothly. 'I will also make sure that he awakens well before the meetings start.'

'As will I,' Loki agreed.

Pepper smirked. 'I like him,' she said. 'Make sure you keep him.'

'Yes, ma'am,' Tony replied, giving Pepper a mock salute. She just smiled and left almost as quickly as she'd come, leaving Tony and Loki alone with the builders.

Tony still wanted to keep an eye on them, so Loki offered to go get them some food from the kitchen. Tony agreed, and when the Trickster returned it was with leftover pizza and a thermos of coffee. He'd even managed to carry mugs, and Tony said, 'Bless you, Lo,' when they sat at what was left of the bar.

'You should always worship me, Stark,' Loki replied, making Tony snort into his freshly-brewed coffee.

Nobody else interrupted them that morning, and Tony and Loki whiled away the hours eating, drinking coffee, and generally making nuisances of themselves. Tony had plenty of ideas about how he wanted to remodel the penthouse, and apparently Loki did, too. They almost drove the building manager to tears the fortieth time they changed their minds, but when three o'clock rolled around, the various construction workers packed up and left for the day, Tony and Loki's modifications scrawled across various pieces of paper.

Tony and Loki retired to the bedroom despite the early hour. Loki apparently wanted to watch more animated movies, which Tony found equal parts hilarious and endearing. So he had JARVIS put on Disney's Robin Hood.

Loki frowned mere seconds after it started. 'Why are they animals?'

''Cause kids like animals,' Tony replied.

'Stupid,' Loki grunted, but Tony noted that he didn't take his eyes off the screen.

'So,' Tony said after a beat, 'apparently I'll be a bit busy next week. Too bad, 'cause we need to find somewhere where I can scan your magic and you can teach me how to use mine.'

'Mm,' Loki agreed. 'While I detest that Ms Potts has seen fit to take you from me, I suppose that it can't be helped. And I do like her,' he added, 'she would make a fine queen.'

Tony snorted. 'Gonna trade me in for Pepper, huh?'

Loki rolled his eyes and moved to press himself against Tony's side. They were laying atop the blankets, both against the headboard, so it was easy for Tony to wrap an arm around Loki's shoulders, and he returned the gentle kiss that Loki pressed against his lips. It was all very... domestic, and made Tony feel all warm inside.

'As I've already told you,' Loki said, 'I have no wish to be King of any Realm.'

Tony cocked his head. 'But when we wipe out SHIELD and the World Security Council, who'll stop us?'

Loki raised an eyebrow as he said, 'I'm sure there are many other super hero groups with idiotic names for us to take on.'

'Yeah,' Tony snorted. 'Probably. As long as we don't advertise our evil intentions, I think they'll more or less leave us alone. We'll just take out the more problematic heroes and villains. Anyway, won't that kinda make us, like, Kings of Earth? Kings of Midgard?'

Loki hummed and tilted his head as he thought, eyes slightly glazed. 'Yes,' he finally said, snapping back to himself and smirking at Tony. 'I shall be King Loki of Midgard, and you can be my lover, Consort Stark.'

'Wait, what?' Tony spluttered. 'I wanna be King!'

Loki laughed at him, the bitch, and Tony pushed, using all his strength to throw Loki onto his back and straddle him. He was kind of surprised that it worked, because Loki had always been stronger than him. When Loki stopped bouncing he raised an eyebrow, and Tony looked down at his hands.

'Okay...'

'Your body is finally settling into the changes the Golden Apple made,' Loki explained.

'Really?' Tony asked.

Inclining his head once, Loki said, 'I told you that it would take some time. Some aspects of the Apple work swiftly, such as the change to your healing factor, your stronger bones and muscles, and your near indestructibility. Other things, like your sex drive, your ability to wield magic, and your strength take longer. Your body is finally settling.'

'Wow,' Tony breathed. Then, he grinned. 'Awesome.' With that, Tony leaned down and Loki met him halfway, their lips pressing together and moving, melding, tongues only briefly darting out to taste, before returning so their teeth could nip.

When they broke apart, Tony started kissing and nibbling on Loki's jaw, that smooth, pale neck, and Loki hummed.

'We should find somewhere to practice magic soon,' Loki murmured.

Tony pulled away to look up at him. 'Got an idea?' he asked.

'I believe so,' Loki said. He looked up, smiled at Tony, and Tony cocked an eyebrow. 'How would you like to take a drive, Stark?' Loki asked.

Chapter Text

When Loki had suggested a drive, Tony had thought that he'd drive the both of them to some secret underground lair that the Trickster kept. It was a ridiculous thought, of course, but Tony had thought it all the same. Instead Loki had made Tony drive a few miles from Stark Tower before forcing him to pull over.

He'd then taken over driving himself, and if Clint thought that Tony was a bad driver, then he'd think that Loki was suicidal. The mage drove like a maniac, speeding and screeching around corners and nearly ploughing them into other cars and people and buildings. Somehow Loki always managed to just avoid colliding with anything, and Tony wondered if it was magic, or just Loki being awesome.

Loki eventually parked Tony's precious, undamaged car in an underground parking lot beneath a mall. He turned the ignition off, locked the doors, and tossed Tony the keys.

'You're insane,' Tony grunted.

Loki smirked and said, 'Are you sure you have everything you need?'

'Yeah, Lo,' Tony rolled his eyes, 'I was sure the first five times you asked me.'

'You mean when you forgot a handful of tools, and clothing, and-'

'Shut up!' Tony snapped. Loki's smirk widened. 'Yes, I have everything, it's all in the boot,' Tony said.

'Good,' Loki replied. With that he faced the windshield, took a deep breath, and closed his eyes.

Seeing as how Tony had been sitting, when they teleported and there was no goddamn chair beneath him he went toppling over, landing on his ass and shouting in both surprise and brief pain. He scowled when Loki laughed at him, the bitch, and picked himself up.

His suitcases of various equipment had landed neatly beside him, and Loki immediately turned, heading for the corner of the...

'Okay...' Tony whistled, 'this is pretty cool.'

Loki hadn't told him where they were going, but had hinted at it being a base of operations. He preferred living in the city, but when he wanted to study magic, or ensure his safety from SHIELD and the Avengers, he came here.

Tony liked it. It was a very large cave, roughly circular in shape, the walls, floor and roof all dark brown rock. There was a short, narrow corridor directly opposite Tony that showed light, making Tony assume that it was the cave's entrance. Just before the corridor was a large stainless steel sink, a bunch of tall boxes that made up a bench, and large fridge and freezer, all with chords and plumbing that disappeared into the rock wall.

To Tony's left was a large rectangular table with four chairs, dotted with books, large tombs covered in leather, sheets of paper and parchment, and various pens and other writing instruments. Just behind it was Loki's bed, a large thing covered in more blankets, sheets and pillows than even Tony's bed had, the headboard made of sturdy wood and roughly carved with flowers and swirls.

Loki was standing in what appeared to be a small lab. There were large shelves built into the walls, tables of various size and length scattered throughout the small square space, which was cut off from the rest of the room by wooden panels.

The more Tony looked, the more stuff he saw; shelves with books and boxes and jars made of clay and porcelain. It was like a real, proper evil lair, only without bats and dark lighting. While it was a bit gloomy, by the time Tony had finished looking Loki had lit various candles around the place with a simple flick of his wrist. Most of them were stuck to various flat surfaces, while others were held inside coloured balls that threw blue, yellow, purple and orange light about.

'I would have thought you'd go for green,' Tony said. He tugged his first suitcase over to Loki but stopped in the doorway that the wooden panels created.

'I do like other colours, Stark,' Loki drawled, and Tony snickered. The mage tuned to face him and hummed.

'What?' Tony asked.

'We need to create an area for you,' Loki decided. 'I'll move my sparring mats to the middle of the room.

Tony blinked rapidly, but said nothing, just watching as Loki exited his small lab and walked around it. The wooden panels had hidden a large empty space from Tony's eyesight, which he now saw contained nothing but spongy mats and a table lined with wicked looking daggers of all shapes and lengths. The wall directly behind it was covered in wood and paper, with holes from where Loki had clearly thrown his knives.

'You sure?' Tony asked as Loki grabbed a large navy blue mat.

'Where else will you work?' Loki asked.

'We could move your big dining table closer to the wall, then move your bed, and I can work in the other corner,' Tony stated.

Loki raised an eyebrow but glanced around.

'Very well,' he eventually said and put the mat back down.

'How'd you find this place?' Tony asked.

'I carved it myself when I first escaped Asgard and landed here,' Loki said as he walked. He clearly didn't need Tony's help, because when he moved the table, simply pushing it across the rugs covering the stone floor, the chairs followed after, like someone was tugging them along by string. 'It was initially much smaller, as I was weak after my escape,' Loki explained, 'I chipped away for a few weeks, and continued to make the room larger every time I was here. If you want, I can expand again for you.'

'Uh... nah, I'm good for now,' Tony said. 'Might be a good idea to expand later, though, especially when we take on SHIELD. We need somewhere to work without the Avengers dropping in.'

'Which is exactly the reason why I brought you here,' Loki said. He pushed the table right up to the wall, the end of the wood pressed against it, and then walked back to his bed.

'Hey, where are your clothes?' Tony asked when he glanced around and realised that he couldn't see a wardrobe anywhere.

'Mostly at your Tower,' Loki replied. 'I only keep a few things here in the chests beneath my bed.'

'Oh,' Tony hummed. Loki soon had the bed moved, the three chests beneath it, too, and walked back to the now cleared area. It was a bit bigger than Loki's own workshop, but it would suit Tony's needs.

'Is this sufficient?' Loki asked.

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. 'Do you have any other tables?'

'Not currently,' Loki said. 'If you wait here I'll procure some.'

'I need big metal tables,' Tony said. 'There are some in the basement of my Tower, if you can teleport there without Thor finding out.'

'If he's more than ten storeys above me, he won't be able to detect me,' Loki told him.

Tony made a quick phone call to JARVIS- and hey, he had reception, awesome- and JARVIS informed them that Thor was in the gym, which was only a floor below Steve's rooms, so Loki was safe.

When Loki teleported back it was with six large stainless steel tables. He wobbled briefly on his feet, but waved off Tony's concern. He seemed perfectly fine, though a bit tired, when he helped Tony put all his tables into his new workshop, so Tony let it go. He even produced more wooden boards to close off the space, giving Tony a bit of privacy.

'So, what now?' Tony asked and rubbed sweat from his eyes.

'Set everything up,' Loki said. 'After that we'll discuss when you should begin to learn magic.'

'Still haven't figured it out yet,' Tony grumbled. Loki snickered but didn't say anything, instead disappearing into his lab and leaving Tony alone. 'Okay then,' Tony murmured to himself and clapped his hands together.



{oOo}



It took... well, Tony had no idea how long it took. He tended to jump head-first into science and his many experiments, and that included setting everything up in the precise way he wanted. He guessed that a couple of hours had passed before he was happy.

The tables were all lined up against the curved wall of the cave, and Loki had somehow managed to fix the place with electricity- magic, was all he'd said when Tony had briefly asked- so Tony's various computers and monitors were set up, ready to use. Tony had also managed to get JARVIS into the cave but only on his computers; Loki said that the entire cave was guarded by wards, they didn't need JARVIS. Tony had just shrugged, trusting the mage to keep them safe and concealed.

After a few rugs had been thrown down, and some of the projects Tony didn't want SHIELD looking into put away in various corners, Tony was done. He groaned and left his lab, stumbling into the area he'd designated the “bedroom”. Loki was sitting at the large dining table and raised an eyebrow when Tony flopped face-first onto the bed.

'You're filthy and those sheets are clean,' he commented.

'Shut up,' Tony mumbled, though it came out muffled against the duvet.

'So eloquent,' Loki murmured, and Tony could hear the amusement in Loki's voice. 'Are you ready to learn magic?'

Tony sighed. 'I'm hungry,' he muttered.

'You should probably eat and rest before we try,' Loki agreed.

Tony rolled over onto his back and stared up at the very high, rocky ceiling. 'Got food here?'

'I have a refrigerator,' Loki said, 'as well as a stove and oven.'

'What? Really?' Tony sat up and looked across the cave. He could see the fridge- a big stainless-steel one with double-doors, and next to it was the freezer. Just beside that was what looked like a stove/oven; Tony had assumed it was just a shelf or box or something during his first, brief inspection. 'Huh.'

'What would you like?' Loki asked. He stood after bookmarking the page of the large leather-bound book he was reading, and stretched, t-shirt riding up to show pale skin. Tony licked his lip and Loki said, 'What would you like to eat, Stark.'

'Rude,' Tony pouted, and Loki rolled his eyes. 'Um... what've you got?'

'I'm not sure,' Loki mused as he wandered over to the fridge. 'I haven't been here in two weeks, so most likely frozen meals and various canned goods.' Tony joined him eventually and his eyebrows rose when he saw that Loki was pulling two entire chickens out of the freezer, followed by frozen vegetables and potatoes and... Tony stopped looking there. Frozen meals my ass, he thought in amusement.

As Loki busied himself cooking an entire roast fucking dinner, Tony decided to go exploring. He looked into the training area a bit more and found a few boxes of weapons he couldn't really name; various sword-like things, more daggers, staves and spears. Next was Loki's lab, though he only peered in there, not wanting to wander in and disrupt anything. A fair few of his projects had been destroyed because of Clint and Natasha's inability to search his lab without fucking everything up. Tony figured they did it on purpose or just really didn't care if he was onto them.

Tony explored the bedroom and then looked at the many bookcases, as well as the stacks of books on various tables and boxes. Loki had a shit load of books, and Tony wondered where he found the time to read them all. Then again, he was over a thousand years old; he'd probably had time in the past.

Some had English written on their spines, others languages that Tony could only guess at. Some, like the large leather-bound books that seemed to take up the entire bookcase near Loki's lab, were written in... runes, was the only word Tony could think of. They looked like Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Tony was pretty sure that he wouldn't be able to learn to read that in the roughly 5000 years the Golden Apple had given him.

He got lost in a book written in Old Norse- or Finnish, he didn't fucking know. It had pictures, though; pictures of alien races and animals that resembled dragons and griffins and all the mythical animals from human fairytales. Someone- most likely Loki- had written notes on the pages in English, and Tony read over those as he flicked from page to page. He didn't look up until Loki tapped him on the forehead.

It had grown darker, the candles brighter, and there were more balls of light drifting around the high-ceiling. 'Huh?' Tony said.

'Dinner is ready,' Loki told him.

'Oh,' Tony said and flipped the book shut. 'Hey, where'd you get this?'

'The Royal Library on Asgard,' Loki said.

'There's a Royal Library?' Tony asked as he followed Loki over to the dining table. Loki had laid all the food out, and had even poured wine. Tony smiled at it.

'Yes,' Loki said and sat, Tony taking the chair opposite him. 'There is the public library, filled with whatever knowledge the All-Father has deemed acceptable for the Æsir to know, and then the Royal Library, which houses truer accounts of history and various other races. It's also where I learned a lot of the magic I know now.'

'Huh,' Tony repeated. 'Cool.'

Loki rolled his eyes. 'It's a crime to enter the Royal Library without the All-Father's permission. If I had been caught I would have spent up to six years in prison.'

'Wow,' Tony mused, 'the All-Father really wants his subjects to stay dumb, huh?'

'Indeed,' Loki agreed.

'So,' Tony said as they started eating- mm, the chicken was delicious. And the vegetables and potato and whatever gravy Loki had made.

'So?' Loki echoed when Tony failed to continue.

'Sorry,' Tony mumbled around his mouthful, 'this food is fucking awesome.'

Loki chuckled and popped a piece of carrot into his mouth.

'Anyway,' Tony said after he'd swallowed, 'magic?'

'Yes,' Loki nodded. 'We have the freedom here for you to find, harness, and learn to use your magic. Thor can't detect us this far away from the Tower, and as long as we aren't followed we should be safe.'

'Okay,' Tony said. 'So, how long do you reckon it'll take me to use magic?'

'First you must harness it,' Loki told him. 'You found it with relative ease, so hopefully it won't take long for you to be able to find it yourself. That is what we will start with.'

'Me finding my magic?'

Loki nodded.

'Okay then,' Tony said. 'In the meantime, I'm gonna keep trying to detect magic with my computers, okay?'

Loki sighed and rolled his eyes, muttering about stupid Midgardian toys beneath his breath, but he stopped when Tony threw a piece of cauliflower at him. Tony just grinned when Loki scowled at him, but thankfully the Trickster didn't throw anything back. Tony didn't even want to imagine the food fights that Loki could start.

'Oh, speaking of my magic sensors,' Tony said after a few minutes. Loki raised an eyebrow. 'I have to give one to SHIELD.'

'Why?' Loki asked.

'Because someone- not naming any names,' Tony said, looking pointedly at the older god, 'made the Avengers figure out that I was working on one. Romanov and Barton have already told Fury, and he'll want to see one soon.'

'Can't you just tell him that you haven't built a working one yet?' Loki asked.

'Yeah, I could,' Tony said, 'but he'll no doubt still want to see a prototype. And even though I'm a hell of a lot smarter than anyone in SHIELD's employment, they still have money and resources; I don't want their scientists stumbling across a way to track your magic and mine. I'd rather not give them even a vague prototype.'

'I see,' Loki hummed and then went silent. He had his thinking face on, though, eyes narrowed slightly as he stared at his plate, so Tony didn't say a word; instead he focused on his own food, shovelling chicken and vegetables and gravy into his mouth, chasing it down with the nice wine Loki had picked out. It was damn good food and with Tony's new godly metabolism, he had to go back for seconds, and then thirds. He was chewing on the last chicken wing when Loki finally looked up. 'What if you agree to give them one, but something happens to it?'

Tony tilted his head and swallowed. 'Something like...?'

'Like the Norse God of Mischief figuring out that you're transporting it and attacking,' Loki said.

Tony blinked. 'Huh.'

'You tell Fury and his little group that you've made a prototype; one that SHIELD can study and build upon. During transportation I attack and make off with the prototype.'

'Okay,' Tony said, 'but what about all my other prototypes?'

'When I teleport away I'll go to your workshop and blow up all the ones you're working on,' Loki said. 'Of course, what you will actually do is move them all here. It will buy us some time; Fury will have to wait for you to build a new one, and we can try something similar in the future if we need to.'

Tony thought the plan over for a few minutes. It seemed good enough, even though a pissed off Fury would demand Tony make another prototype almost immediately. Still, Tony didn't have any other plans, and working with Loki against the Avengers sounded like damn good fun.

'Sounds good,' Tony eventually said.

Loki smiled and took a sip of wine before pushing the glass, and his plate, aside. 'Now, Anthony,' he purred, and Tony shivered at the tone, 'are you ready to get acquainted with your magic?'

Tony grinned. 'You best your ass I am.'

Loki chuckled.

Chapter Text

After eating what felt like his bodyweight in food- and helping Loki clean up when Loki threw a plate at him- Tony and Loki settled on the bed, Loki's back to the wall with Tony between his legs. It was the same position they'd taken up the first time they'd meditated together, looking for Tony's magic, and Tony found it easier this time around to slip into his headspace. He breathed in and out deeply and listened to Loki's smooth, calm voice. Eventually he could hear his own heartbeat in his ears, and Loki's against his back, but when Loki told him to he moved past those, pushing them to the back of his mind.

Soon everything was black- but somehow a deeper, darker blackness than when Tony had just closed his eyes. Loki's heart made a reappearance and Tony fought not to frown. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Tony's own heartbeat echoed Loki's until they were in-sync, Tony's beating to the slightly quicker rhythm of Loki's. Tony felt a spark at his back, something sinking into his skin. A flash of green behind his eyelids almost made him open his eyes but he refrained.

Follow the light. Tony heard the whisper in the back of his mind. It sounded like Loki, but it was far away, too far to know for sure. Still, Tony followed, his conscience sinking deeper and deeper until Tony was aware of the large expansive of his mind as well as the area around his heart and arc reactor.

There it was. The purple grape, bigger now, swirling around him but a part of him, tendrils whipping out when Tony got closer. Tony imagined reaching out to touch it and his finger tips tingled, as though he was holding something warm and alive in the palm of his hand.

' Anthony ...' a soft voice purred, ' very, very gently, clasp your magic. Bring it into your hand; imagine that it's yours to command and it will do as you please. '

Tony imagined nodding his agreement and tugged at the purple magic. It resisted at first, as though it really was alive, with a full understanding of its own. It pulled back, wrapping around his heart and arc reactor. Now Tony knew why his arc had remained in his body, even though the Apple had purged all other obstructions; his magic... understood that it protected him, that it was needed. The element was blue, flashing within Tony's mind-scape, but the magic that was infused into every atom of Tony's body was working with it, using the energy within the arc reactor to keep Tony safe.

It was fascinating, and one day soon Tony would figure out how his magic- how all magic - worked. He'd work with it rather than against it, harness it to protect himself and those who were on his side.

Those thoughts washed through Tony, and with them brought understanding; his magic immediately leapt at him, just a bit curling around the illusion of fingers Tony had conjured within himself. His skin flared and he felt his nails vibrate with the energy that was so powerful. Tony pulled further, bit by bit, until just about a quarter of the magic he'd glimpsed was wrapped around his hand.

' Very good, ' Loki said. It was Loki. With his magic flowing through him, Tony could feel Loki; every inch of him, both physical and metaphorical. Loki was a very real presence pressed up against Tony's back. He felt cold and dark, and his magic was a bright, pure green, so much brighter than the magic Loki threw in battle. But beneath that, almost out of sight, was a thick, heavy black that mixed with Loki's green, yet remained separate at the same time. ' Jötunn magic ,' Loki whispered.

So it was separate. Tony had thought so. Loki had grown up in Asgard, had learned to use Asgardian magic. The bright green was that of Asgard, something Loki had forced into his very bones so that it travelled with him everywhere. He'd spent so much of his life on Asgard that the Realm's magic had become a part of him.

But his Jötunn magic, he'd been born with that. It would never leave him. It sat there, even now, alive and waiting.

You should use it, Tony thought, and almost lost control of his magic when he both heard and felt Loki chuckle.

' You can help me, ' the mage replied.

You heard that? Tony asked.

' We have a connection, Anthony, ' Loki said. Tony felt both parts of Loki's magic react to that; the green rolled across Loki's mindscape, licking at Tony's own. His Jötunn magic shifted and practically vibrated in excitement.

What was that? Tony questioned.

' Later, Anthony ,' Loki said, and Tony imagined himself nodding. He went back to focusing on his magic, and when he had a good grasp of it once more Loki said, ' Slowly pull away from yourself, but keep a hold of your magic. When you feel aware of your physical surroundings again, very carefully open your eyes. Be prepared. '

Tony nodded and did as asked. It took a while and Tony felt drained by the time he was aware of the sheets beneath him, of his warmth bleeding into Loki's cooler body behind him. He felt Loki's chin nudge his shoulder and took a slow, steady breath before opening his eyes.

They widened in surprise when he saw a bright purple energy swirling around his right palm. It tickled and made his hand feel hot, like his skin would catch fire with prolonged use. It was breathtaking and Tony grinned slowly as his magic trickled up his wrist before retreating back into hand when Tony willed it.

'That is your magic,' Loki said softly.

'It's amazing,' Tony said. He felt it pulse again and asked, 'Is it, um... aware?'

'Magic has a mind of its own,' Loki told him. 'While it is you, it is also a part of you. Similar to a pet you can train, one that will listen but will also make its own decisions. Magic has intelligence that nobody can understand. Millions of years of research has been put into understanding magic. While it is partially understood, it will never be completely understood.'

'Yeah,' Tony breathed, 'I get that.' He understood what Loki was saying now. While the magic swirling around his hand felt like an extension of him, a very big, very important part of him, it was as though it had its own conscience; like it would do as it wished at any given moment.

'Magic will never betray you,' Loki said, nudging Tony's ear. 'Your own magic exists to protect and nurture you. It will never part with you.'

'It's protecting me,' Tony told him, 'with the arc reactor.'

'I saw,' Loki nodded. 'The element within your reactor is very similar to the magic of Midgard. It is not intelligent, or as powerful as magic, but it is powerful enough to protect you. It's why I told you to keep it in, even after the Apple healed you.'

Just an extra layer of protection between Tony and the world.

'It's time to put your magic back,' Loki said after a few minutes of silence. Tony felt his heart drop; he didn't want to let go. He felt like a little kid again, discovering science; giddy, with thousands of ideas overtaking his head. 'We will revisit this soon,' Loki promised when he sensed Tony's hesitation. 'But you are young and new to wielding magic; too much will drain you and hurt you. Close your eyes and sink back into yourself. Let your magic rejoin and rest.'

Tony sighed but nodded. As soon as his eyes were closed he found his mind deep inside itself.

' I will teach you to manage it, ' Loki whispered inside his head. ' It wouldn't do for you to find your mindscape in the presence of those who would hurt you .'

Tony let go of his magic slowly and it slid through his body, his mind, lighting the way as it joined the pulsing mix of purple and blue in the very centre of Tony's being. When it was whole once more Tony felt a tug and felt Loki's very familiar presence. He let the mage tug him back and out of himself. When Tony came back he felt exhausted, his limbs not aching but weak.

'Shh, Anthony,' Loki hummed and helped him lay back. 'I would heal you, but your magic will most likely not react well to an intrusion at this moment. Rest and let your magic do what it does best.'

'Wha's tha'?' Tony slurred.

He saw Loki smile above him, and felt a soft kiss to his stubbly cheek. 'Protect you,' Loki said just before Tony fell asleep.



{oOo}



When Tony woke the cave was lighter; there were less candles and globes of light floating around, telling Tony that some time must have passed. He yawned and sat up, stretching out his limbs and letting a satisfied hum slip from his lips when he flopped back.

'Awake, I see.'

Tony rolled over and spotted Loki sitting on a table. He was fiddling with a vambrace. It was a mottled silver colour, like it hadn't been polished yet, and Loki was using a small, sharp-edged knife to cut patterns into the metal.

'What are you doing?' Tony asked and sat up again.

'Working on new armour,' Loki said. Tony hopped out of bed and walked over to him, smiling when Loki leaned over to kiss him. 'My old armour reminds me of Asgard,' Loki explained. 'I'm making new pieces with Jötunn protection magic. The runes I'm carving into them will work better than my Asgardian armour.'

'I see,' Tony said. 'You know, I'm working on a heap of new suits.'

'I am aware,' Loki replied.

'Are you aware that they'll all be controlled by JARVIS?' One of Loki's eyebrows popped up at that and Tony smirked. 'I'm going with a slightly different design and colour-scheme. They'll look more like Victor von Doom's bots- I think I've told you that in the past- but they'll be made for offence rather than defence. I'll also be making about five or six for myself; very similar to Iron Man, but hopefully just different enough to confuse SHIELD and the Avengers.'

'I see,' Loki hummed.

'I was thinking green and silver,' Tony said. 'As a colour-scheme,' he added when Loki glanced at him.

'Green and silver,' Loki mused and looked down at his vambrace. 'I like it,' he decided.

'You should lose the cape, if you're going for a new look,' Tony said and pushed off the table.

As he was walking towards his lab, Loki called out, 'Why?'

'No capes!' Tony shouted. Loki made a soft noise of confusion and Tony snickered. We should watch The Incredibles, he decided as he entered his workspace.



{oOo}



Loki joined Tony in the human's workshop about an hour later.

'We should leave soon,' Loki said.

'The Avengers haven't contacted me,' Tony replied. 'I think we can wait until tonight.'

Loki glanced up at the ceiling, head tilted, before saying, 'So six or so hours, then.'

Tony spotted the time on one of his computer monitors; 12:22pm. 'How'd you do that?' Tony asked.

'Magic,' was all Loki said. He looked over the shorter god's shoulder and said, 'What are you working on?'

'Faceplate for the new suit,' Tony said. 'Here, I'll show you the differences.'

He pushed some stuff aside and had to search one of the boxes under the table to his right before he found what he was looking for. He placed the two faceplates side-by-side, showing Loki the differences.

'This one,' Tony said, pointing to the faceplate on the left, 'will be part of the suit I wear. The eyes are similar to my Iron Man suits, though a bit softer around the edges. Also, you'll notice a mouth-piece.' He pointed at the other faceplate. 'This is a JARVIS-suit faceplate. The eyes are smaller, narrowed, and there's a kind of nose-piece similar to what Doom's bots had as well as a wide mouth. It'll be painted completely silver. My faceplate will be green.'

'Interesting,' Loki said. 'So I will be able to tell you apart.' Tony nodded. 'Then the Avengers will be able to,' he added.

'Well, yeah, but we're gonna pretend it's your personal bodyguard-bot,' Tony explained. 'I'll even bring up the idea myself. Clearly you used Doom to make some magic-powered bots for yourself before you killed him, and the one that's bigger and fights with you is stronger, faster, better. I've managed to change the repulsor blasts so they're green instead of the blue of my Iron Man suits; the eyes glow green, too, the same colour as your magic. It'll make selling the story that much easier.'

Loki was clearly impressed; a smirk was playing on his lips and his eyes gleamed as he stared at the faceplates.

'How close are you to completing these?' Loki asked.

'I'm almost done with the JARVIS-bots,' Tony said, 'they were the easiest to build because I just mixed Iron Man's technology with Doom's. My personal suits will take a tad longer.'

'How long?'

'A month or two, give or take,' Tony said.

'Will it be quicker if I help?' Loki asked. When Tony raised his eyebrows, Loki elaborated. 'You said that JARVIS had found some of SHIELD's bases.'

'Well, yeah,' Tony nodded. 'But that's mostly speculation. I'd rather go and take a quick peek in person to make sure we're attacking the right places.'

'I can do that,' Loki waved a hand, 'remember, I can teleport and turn invisible.'

'Oh,' Tony blinked, 'right. Well, that's simple, then. And yes, your magic would help with the general assembly of the suits. I'd rather wire everything myself.'

'Very well,' Loki said. 'When you've completed the bulk of the work tell me and I'll help you. I'd like to start destroying SHIELD within two months.'

''Kay,' Tony said and turned back to work; he was currently working on assembling the JARVIS-bots, but he'd have to bring more stuff to the Hideout from his Tower to completely assemble them. 'Hey, we can make a few trips, right?' Tony asked.

'Yes,' Loki said. 'Find out where Thor is and we can bring more of your equipment here.'

'Next time,' Tony decided. 'I don't wanna push our luck.'

'Very well,' Loki inclined his head. He stood back and folded his arms, watching as Tony went back to wiring what appeared to be a gauntlet. 'Anthony?'

'Mm?' Tony hummed without looking up.

'Have you named your new creations?' Loki asked.

Tony paused, and then he smiled. 'Well, the JARVIS-operated ones are just JARVIS-bots. J-bots if I couldn't be bothered saying the full name. My suits? I'm calling them Genesis.'

Loki smirked. 'The beginning.'

Tony turned to look at him, eyes flashing. 'Exactly.'

Loki crossed the distance between them to kiss Tony hard and hot, making Tony moan and abandon his work.

When they broke apart, Tony hissed, 'Six hours?'

'Yes,' Loki replied.

'Work can wait,' Tony decided. He fixed his mouth to Loki's neck, bit and sucked, before dragging Loki to bed.

Loki followed willingly.



{oOo}



'There's a bathroom in this place, right?' Tony asked. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, Loki sprawled out on the sheets behind him.

'Mm,' Loki hummed.

'Where?' Tony asked. When Loki didn't answer he turned around and poked the god in the belly.

'Stark,' Loki growled.

'Hey, I don't want the Avengers thinking we had car sex,' Tony said. 'Although it'd be funny seeing the look on Rogers' face,' he snickered.

Loki smiled before sitting up, yawning and scratching his chest. 'Go into the training area and you'll find cuts in the stone wall to your left. They shape a door. Just push and it will open into a bathroom. It only has the bare essentials, but it works.'

Tony leaned over and gave Loki a quick peck before hopping out of bed. He knew that Loki was watching him so added a bit of a sway to his hips. Loki swore and Tony grinned all the way into the training area.

Just like Loki had said, there were jagged cuts in the rock wall to the left, and when Tony pushed a large block of stone swung inward, revealing a large, circular room. The floor had been tiled with mismatched pieces of varying colours, and the walls were rock like the rest of the Hideout. A large glass mirror was bolted to the wall to Tony's right, just above a stainless steel sink that had seen better days. An old cabinet stood to the right of the porcelain bathtub, which was in the back of the room, and pipes disappeared into the walls and floor.

'Gotta ask how he did that,' Tony muttered to himself. He decided against a bath, instead using the sink beneath the mirror to wash up the worst of the mess he and Loki had made. There were towels in the cabinet, dusty from disuse, but after airing one out Tony moped himself up.

He left the towel on the bathtub and made his way back into the main room. Loki was dressed and had apparently used magic to clean himself, because his thick black hair was brushed back, his clean torso disappearing under the t-shirt he'd worn earlier when he was Logan Thomas.

'Time to get back?' Tony sighed.

'Yes,' Loki said. He paused and looked at Tony, who was making his way to the bed for his shoes and coat. 'If you continue to progress well with your magic, you may be able to teleport short distances.'

'Really?' Tony asked.

Loki nodded. 'Teleporting from your Tower to here would take too much energy and possibly kill you. Teleporting from the underground carpark where we left your car might be feasible. You would need to rest afterwards, though.'

'So what you're saying is you might be able to teach me so I can come here by myself?' Tony asked.

Loki nodded again. 'Thor can detect my magic because he grew up with me; he was there when I was learning to harness it. He won't be able to detect your magic because it is of Midgard. Also, he's never encountered if before.'

'Last time he caught us it was your magic he detected, right?' Tony asked.

'Yes,' Loki said. 'Once you learn to find and use your magic yourself, we can practice in the Tower. But I want to make sure you have a thorough grip of it before we do that.'

'Okay,' Tony agreed and jumped to his feet. 'Let's get going, we've been away for... what, a day or two?'

'Almost an entire day, yes,' Loki said.

'We'll make up some bullshit about going clubbing. Hey, can you make us look like we spent all day nursing our hangovers?'

Loki smirked and wrapped his arms around Tony when the billionaire was close enough. 'Stark,' he purred into Tony's ear, making Tony shiver, 'I can do anything .'

And with that he teleported them away, wards flaring up around the Hideout as soon as they disappeared.

Chapter Text

Tony and Loki had just sat down for a late dinner in the penthouse when Romanov stormed in. JARVIS had warned them well beforehand, but Tony wanted Romanov and Barton- and therefore, SHIELD- to think that he trusted them. JARVIS reported all their business back to him and Tony pretended that the two agents had access to his servers.

He wouldn't let either of them get at JARVIS, though. Barton had tried to get into the room where JARVIS' main server was stored, but Tony had that part of the Tower locked up tight. As soon as he could create wards- and Loki was sure that he had enough magic to do so- he was doubling security down there. The last thing he needed was SHIELD having access to JARVIS.

'Natasha,' Tony muttered when she entered the living room. 'What do you want?'

Loki had taken on Logan's appearance before they drove back to the Tower, and he smiled shyly at Natasha when she stood opposite them.

'Fury wants the magic scanner you were telling us about,' Natasha said. 'The one Loki tried to destroy?'

'Yeah,' Tony sighed. 'I must be close if Loki found out about it.'

'I want to know how Loki found out about it,' Natasha said, looking between Tony and “Logan”.

'He's probably spying on us,' Tony said. 'I would if I was in his place. Either that or the scanner works and Loki realised I was about to find him.'

'SHIELD's scientists will set up a control-room to test it,' Natasha told them. 'If Loki appears we'll capture him. Thor's going to hang around, he has the best chance against Loki.'

Tony felt Loki's toes dig into his thigh and had to bite back a wince. He was kinda surprised that Loki didn't just rip Romanov's throat out right then and there. But Loki had excellent control; Tony had seen that himself. Rather than kill Natasha, Loki just pressed against Tony's thigh and ate another slice of pizza.

'Alright,' Tony said. 'When and where?'

'We'll deliver it to the Helicarrier,' Natasha explained. 'We'll all go in an SUV so we can protect it if Loki tries to attack again.'

'Fair enough,' Tony shrugged. 'Should I suit-up?'

'Best to be prepared,' Natasha nodded. She gave Tony a fake smile, then nodded at Loki. 'Logan,' she said before leaving, the elevator doors hissing shut behind her.

'I hate her,' Loki growled.

'We all do,' Tony sympathised, patting Loki on the calf. Loki scowled at him. 'Hey, you get first crack at her when we destroy SHIELD, okay?' Tony offered.

'I want Barton,' Loki mused. 'You can have Romanov.'

'How about we hurt them together?' Tony said. 'But you kill Barton, I'll kill Romanov.'

'Before or after we destroy SHIELD?' Loki asked.

'After,' Tony said. 'We'll let them all watch the destruction of their precious organisation, then we'll destroy the World Security Council and the Avengers. I wanna kill Fury myself.'

'Very well,' Loki agreed, 'but I get Thor.'

'And Rogers?'

'We can destroy Rogers together.'

'Fair enough,' Tony grinned.

He went back to his pizza- pepperoni, yummy- and Loki watched him.

'Wha'?' Tony eventually mumbled around a mouthful.

'You didn't mention the Green Beast,' Loki said. 'Banner.'

Tony took his time chewing, and when he swallowed he watched Loki carefully. 'Well... I'm kinda hoping Bruce will join us.' Loki raised an eyebrow. 'I know that Bruce doesn't wanna hurt anyone; he'll never go for killing SHIELD agents, no matter what they've done to him. But I'm hoping he joins our side; works for us in the lab I built for him, doesn't actively try to hurt us, etcetera. Either that or I hope he runs and stays away. If he does I won't go after him.'

'I see,' Loki mused.

'If Bruce chooses to run, you'll leave him alone,' Tony ordered, dark brown eyes holding Loki's green until the Trickster nodded.

'I will not actively hunt Banner if he doesn't oppose us,' Loki allowed. 'If he does I will decapitate him.'

'Fair enough,' Tony repeated.

'You see him as a friend,' Loki commented.

'He is my friend,' Tony said. 'He's not working for SHIELD. He's not trying to get me off the team. He's being used, just like me, and he wants to be accepted and respected. I think he'll join us.'

'If you say so,' Loki murmured. He leaned over to kiss Tony's cheek. 'I hope, for your sake, that he agrees,' he said softly. Then he grabbed another slice of pizza and turned back towards the TV, leaving Tony feeling warm, happy, and slightly confused. He'd thought it would take a lot more arguing until Loki agreed to let Bruce be. But Loki had agreed, and easily at that.

Tony's feelings for Loki were getting harder and harder to decipher. He wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing.



{oOo}



'2000 hours tonight. Clint and Steve will follow in a helicopter. You, me and Thor are riding in the SUV with the driver and three SHIELD agents. Bruce will be waiting on the Helicarrier with back-up. Meet in the Tower parking garage.'

Romanov had left a message with JARVIS, and it was a good thing that JARVIS decided to wake Tony up before they were due; he and Loki had screwed around in Tony's workshop for most of the night (doing science and fucking) and hadn't climbed into bed until 8am.

'I gotta go to school,' Tony groaned, rolling around under the sheets. JARVIS had pulled the blinds up about an hour earlier in an attempt to get Tony out of bed. It didn't help when Tony dragged a pillow over his head, and then when Loki had flopped over him, following his pillows.

'But you get to play today,' Loki hummed, voice muffled by the fabric between them.

'Gotta play with the Avengers ,' Tony sneered.

'Will it make you feel better if I promise to break some bones?' Loki asked. 'I would enjoy wrapping my fingers around the Bird's fragile little wrist.'

Tony snickered at the thought. He'd like to see Clint go through Tony's shit with a cast wrapped around his arm. 'Can't,' he said, 'Clint's following in a helicopter.'

Loki sighed in disappointed. 'I could always throw magic at them,' he mused. 'Helicopters aren't as limber as those little aeroplane things SHIELD often fly.'

'Airplane things... you mean quinjets?'

Loki was frowning when Tony rolled over and up, forcing the older god onto his stomach on the mattress. 'Stark, my dear, silly human, how in Hel would I know what a quinjet is?'

Tony rolled his eyes at Loki's dramatics and turned to grab a StarkPad from the bedside table. It was the one Loki usually read before bed; and that he fell asleep staring at. He was kinda cute when he sat there, half propped up and snoring, Wikipedia still open.

'Here,' Tony said after he'd brought up the schematics and a few pictures, 'this is a quinjet. I built them.'

'All of them?' Loki asked as he looked the jet over.

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'Well, I designed all of them, and I think Fury and the Council have a few agents build them in their secret lairs. They'll probably be annoying when we destroy their bases.'

'Then we shall simply swat them down,' Loki decided. He switched the Pad off and tossed it aside. Looking over Tony's body- still half-naked from when Tony had fallen into bed earlier that morning- Loki sighed.

'What?' Tony asked.

'We could be having sex,' Loki mourned and fell back onto the sheets.

Tony snickered. He finally rolled out of bed, yawning and scratching his belly. 'All work and no play makes Tony a dull boy,' he mused as he went into the en-suite bathroom.

'You're an odd human,' Loki commented.

Tony didn't reply. He wanted to take a shower, but JARVIS helpfully informed him that he was due in the parking garage in less than twenty minutes. So he washed his face, swept his fingers through his hair, and went to get into the under-suit he wore beneath his Iron Man suit. Loki had made him a sandwich as Tony changed, and Tony grinned all the way down to his workshop as he munched on lettuce, roast beef, and mustard between to thick pieces of rye bread. Yum .

Tony and Loki collected one of Tony's magic sensors as they went. It was one of the bigger ones, about the size of a home computer tower. When the gathered Avengers- meaning Natasha and Thor- saw him they both nodded, and Thor gave out a human-level “hello”. Tony wondered what his beef was, then remembered that they were about to fight Loki; that was a sure fire way to dampen Thor's mood.

Tony grinned and gave Loki a wink as he slid carefully into the SHIELD-issue SUV, snickering softly when he saw Loki roll his eyes. Natasha was staring at him when the door shut behind Tony, and Tony shrugged as best he could. 'Private joke.'

'You have private jokes with your boyfriend now?' Natasha asked.

'He's smarter than he looks,' Tony said. 'Smarter than most of the people I've slept with.' Probably smarter than all of the people Tony had slept with, now that he thought about it. Tony tended to sleep with people who fawned all over him at events, though, so that wasn't surprising. Loki would never fawn over anyone... other than himself. But he and Tony had that in common.

'Your... partner and you are doing well, Friend Tony?' Thor asked hesitantly.

Tony still remembered Thor's discomfort when first introduced to Logan, and what Loki had said about homosexuality in Asgard. So he gave Thor a toothy grin and said, 'Yup. He's smokin' hot, he's smart, and he's a bit of an asshole when you really get him going. Perfect for me, really. Oh, and the sex is awes -'

'Yes, Stark, we get it,' Romanov cut in.

Tony winked at her but didn't say another word; they had already left the Tower and were driving through the streets of New York City. Soon Loki would attack.

Tony felt the beginnings of a smirk on his lips; he couldn't wait to see what Loki did to the Avengers and SHIELD.



{oOo}



Tony hated waiting. It was why he'd gotten the reputation of buying his way out of trouble, and purchasing whatever he desired. Why wait when he had the funds to get whatever he wanted? Ninety percent of the population would do the same if they had his fortune.

It was particularly hard now, sitting in the back of an SUV with Natasha, Thor, and three SHIELD agents. Tony had been undermining SHIELD since the beginning, true. He pretended that he wasn't elbow deep in SHIELD's computers, that he didn't know what they where up to, and that Natasha and Clint had access to parts of his security and JARVIS. But this... this was different. He and Loki were finally going to take the fight to SHIELD. This was personal. They- or rather, Loki- were going to hurt SHIELD publicly.

Tony really hoped that Loki broke some bones. Or just outright killed the SHIELD agents currently travelling with him. Tony didn't enjoy killing- if he had he wouldn't have turned Stark Industries into a green company and briefly privatised world peace- but he'd do it if he had to. And he really enjoyed killing those who dared hurt him or betray him, like the Ten Rings and Stane.

The agents who'd signed up to SHIELD, who'd been recruited, were causalities that Tony was willing to live with. They were face-less to Tony, nameless, people that he just really didn't care about. SHIELD was Tony's enemy, and if someone had to die, Tony would rather it be some annoying do-good agents than himself. Or Loki.

Natasha was looking all over the place, her gaze never settling for long; she watched the agents- dressed in black body armour, with assault rifles clutched in their gloved hands- and Thor, who was running his fingers over his hammer, and she watched Tony, who tried his best to sit still and look bored. Her eyes always flicked to the magic sensor after a minute, taking in the rough grey cover, the small monitor that was currently blank, and the keypad and dials just beneath it.

Tony sighed and leaned further back, ignoring the scowl Natasha sent his way. The Iron Man suit hadn't really been made for comfort, and it was annoying sitting in the thing, especially since Tony couldn't tilt his head back without the neck armour getting in the way. He shifted again and tapped at his armoured legs, wondering when the hell Loki was going to get the show started.

The thought had only just drifted through Tony's mind when he felt something in his chest... pop , for lack of a better word. It was like suddenly downing an entire glass of straight bourbon; the area behind his arc reactor thrummed with heat and then expanded, like something within him was trying to escape. Tony frowned slightly, and after a beat he realised that it wasn't a physical sensation, not really. The heat was coming from deep within him, a place he could only access when he sunk into his mindscape and explored his being metaphorically rather than physically.

Is it my magic? Tony wondered as the SUV sped up slightly, the vehicle rumbling beneath Tony. What the hell is it doing?

There was a loud thump , then a crunch, and Natasha jumped to her feet. 'The roof!' she shouted.

The SHIELD agents leapt into action, rifles pointed at the ceiling, while Thor tried to stand. He had no luck; he was too tall. So he crouched instead, hammer held tightly in his right hand, eyes locked onto the ceiling. The SUV picked up speed and Tony was almost thrown out of his seat.

There was another thump, then a crunch , and suddenly half of the roof just... disappeared, ripped back from its welded joints. Tony caught a glimpse of black hair and green armour before Natasha pulled out a handgun, flicked the safety off, and opened fire. The person on the roof- Loki, Tony assumed- ducked back, and the SHIELD agents took Natasha's action as their cue.

They opened fire, littering the remainder of the roof with bullet holes. The sound was deafening, and Tony activated his helmet, sighing in relief when the pieces of armour fitted together over his head, the faceplate sliding closed last of all. He was really glad that he'd managed to work it all together; he hated having to manually put on/take off his faceplate.

'Thor, open the door!' Tony shouted, voice amplified by the suit's speaker. 'We'll get him from outside!'

Thor didn't say a word, but he moved. Rather than try and open the door, Thor just punched through it, the door tearing from its hinges and hitting the road. The cars travelling behind them blared their horns and swung away, but Tony ignored them in favour of activating his repulsors and blasting into the air. Thor went the direct route; he swung himself up and over the SUV, landing on the mangled roof.

Loki was clinging to the top, standing over the cab, and Tony saw his face twist into a snarl when he faced Thor. The SHIELD agents inside the SUV were still firing away, but the bullets pinged off of both Loki and Thor no matter where they hit; armour, skin, it didn't matter, the two gods were bullet proof.

I should test that, Tony mused as he followed the SUV. It was gaining speed, twisting and turning in and out of traffic. Loki had sunk a long, wicked dagger into the cab's roof, using it to hold himself atop the car. Thor stumbled and almost fell through the ripped roof but managed to hold on, and when he got his bearings he swung his hammer at Loki.

Loki dropped to the roof, ducking the blow, and Mjölnir swung back into Thor's grasp by the leather strap at the end. Thor swung again, and again, and only managed a glancing blow to Loki's shoulder when the SUV suddenly took a sharp right, almost dislodging Loki.

Loki snarled and a bright burst of magic engulfed the top of the SUV. It sent Thor flying and he hit the ground hard, rolling and disappearing beneath his red cape. Tony shot over him and hit the SUV, rocking the car and almost falling off.

He locked eyes with Loki, who gave him a small smirk.

'Well, this is fun,' Tony said. 'Kinda like a carnival ride.'

'Shall I send you after Thor, Man of Iron?' Loki questioned.

'No thanks, Prancer,' Tony grinned.

Loki snarled, and Tony was sure that only half of his anger was fake; Loki really hated the reindeer nicknames. Loki threw a small ball of magic at Tony, and it stripped away the paint of his suit but did little else. He tried again and Tony ducked and jumped, and at one point he took to the air to avoid blows from both Loki's magic and spear. When he landed again one of the SHIELD agents had climbed out of the SUV and was shooting Loki in the face. All it did was annoy the Trickster and mess up his hair.

Tony watched, mind torn between fascination and vague disgust, as Loki wrapped a hand around the agent's neck and lifted him clear off the SUV. Loki stood with him, apparently having no trouble keeping his balance on an SUV doing 90 mph.

Then, with little more than a flick of his wrist, Loki snapped the agent's neck and tossed him overboard.

Tony watched his body crash to the asphalt, the sharp snaps of bones breaking reaching Tony's ears, even over the multitude of various other noises.

When Tony looked up again, Loki had his head tilted. 'Problem, Iron Man?' he queried.

'You're gonna pay for that,' Tony lied.

Loki- God of Lies- smirked, eyes flashing, and Tony knew that Loki could detect his lie. Tony flew at Loki just as the older god pointed his spear into the SUV, and Tony managed to hit Loki before he could destroy the magic sensor.

Oops , Tony thought and swung back around, throwing Loki onto the vehicle. Loki snarled and rolled aside, suddenly disappearing over the side of the SUV. Tony frowned, wondering what the Trickster was going, when he heard it- whump-whump-whump-whump .

Tony twisted through the air and looked up; a black helicopter, first designed by Howard Stark, then perfected by his son and sold to SHIELD, was careening towards them. It sliced through the air gracefully, though it looked anything but; its exterior looked like a mix between a Black Hawk and an Apache helicopter. The interior was large enough to transport fifteen men with two pilots, while the outside was all weapons. It was a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter with a small tail rotor, six missiles mounted on either side, and a 30mm M230 Chain Gun carried between the main landing gear, beneath the helicopter's forward fuselage.

The nose-mounted sensor (or the Modernised Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor, if you wanted to get technical ) was the best there was. It meant that Clint- or whoever was flying the helicopter, called S-Hawks by Tony, SHIELD-Hawks by the organisation- could basically track Loki... anywhere.

Hmm, Tony thought as the S-Hawk got closer, probably should have asked what tech they'd be using . Tony didn't want Loki to get shot by a missile, so decided to dive back into the fray. The SUV had gotten a bit ahead of him, but Tony's suit caught up soon enough. Natasha was still in the back, while the other two SHIELD agents were on the roof. The agent in the cab was driving like a bat out of hell, twisting and turning like a maniac, clearing trying to throw Loki off the vehicle. Each and every time, though, Loki managed to find his footing and went right back to trying to kill the two agents facing him.

Tony's comm crackled. ' Iron Man? '

'Yeah, Hawkeye?' Tony replied as he got closer to Loki and the agents.

' Distract Loki, ' Clint ordered. ' I'll try and shoot the fucker in the throat. If it doesn't kill him it should at least injure or distract him. We need that sensor .'

'Aye, aye, Captain Hawkeye,' Tony muttered. He shot towards Loki, just as the Trickster threw one of the agents off the SUV. Tony landed on the roof and the remaining agent lost his footing, tumbling into Loki and meeting his end with a dagger to the throat. Tony watched blood spurt up and over Loki, covering his pale white skin and armour in splashes of red.

Tony and Loki eyed each other as the God of Mischief carelessly tossed the dead agent over the SUV, Tony hearing another body crack as it hit the pavement.

'We meet again,' Loki drawled. Tony turned towards the hole in the SUV, and Loki smirked. 'I knocked Romanov out. And broke her wrist.'

Tony snorted and, making sure that his comm was turned off, flipped his faceplate up. 'Barton wants me to distract you so he can shoot you in the neck.'

'Is that so?' Loki mused. Both wobbled a bit as the SUV turned another corner, but they managed to stay upright. 'Attack me, then,' Loki said. 'Distract me. When I sense the arrow I'll throw my magic out.' He paused, eyeing Tony's arc reactor. 'Can your reactor stand such a large assault?'

'You said it was magic proof,' Tony replied.

'It is,' Loki nodded, 'however, it might not survive what I have planned.'

'Okay...' Tony said slowly. 'Um, well, I have an extra cover for it.'

Tony's comm crackled again. ' Stark, what the hell are you doing? ' Clint shouted.

Loki apparently heard Barton, too, because he said, 'Protect yourself and be prepared to be thrown off course.'

Tony nodded even as his faceplate slammed down, and as soon as it was sealed he launched himself at Loki. He hit Loki in the chest and Loki stumbled a few steps but stayed upright. His dagger sliced against Tony's neck, but Tony's armour was too thick; some sparks and paint chips went flying, but that was it.

Tony snarled in fake anger and punched Loki in the head, then hit him with a repulsor blast. At the same time Loki threw him clear, and Tony landed on the back of the SUV, part of the roof caving in as his suit's weight crushed it.

When Tony got back to his feet Loki was doing the same, and the two gods had a short face-off before Loki was suddenly hit by Mjölnir. It sent him crashing into the cab, the metal buckling beneath him, and Tony stood just as Thor landed beside him.

'Stop this, brother!' Thor shouted. 'You cannot win!'

Loki's face was black, furious , and Tony thought uh-oh just as Loki spread his arms and-

It was like Loki's magic just exploded from him, a large ball of green and black enveloping him and shooting in all directions. It threw Tony and Thor off the SUV, and all the cars in a twenty metre radius were tossed around like toys. Tony spun through the air and tried to get his repulsors working, but Loki's magic, like feared, had short-circuited them. Thankfully JARVIS had slammed down the extra thick layer of metal armour over Tony's arc reactor, protecting it from the blast. Still, it did nothing to protect Tony's person, and Iron man went spinning into the closest building. The windows smashed and the concrete and metal bent like it was made of paper, swallowing Tony whole.

Thor hit the ground once more and went tumbling into a parked car, caving its side in and knocking him out. The SUV gave one last screech before the motor blew and it crashed into a car just a few metres ahead of Thor, metal twisting, steam rising. The S-Hawk was thrown off course, its engines suddenly cut-out, and the pilot screeched his fear as they dipped, turned, and headed straight for the building Tony had already gone through. Steve, sitting on the sidelines until now, could do nothing to save the pilots as they crashed into the building.

An explosion rang out, fire licking across the side of the building. Clint had already bailed, his grappling-arrow speeding him up and towards safety. Steve had jumped, too, and he hit the ground a few floors below hard, snapping a few bones. But they'd mend.

Steve stood slowly, blood running down his face, and took in the absolute carnage that Loki had managed to create in just a few minutes. There were overturned cars everywhere; Thor was unconscious and half-buried in one, while the SHIELD SUV had come to a halt in the side of another. Steve looked up to see Clint climbing over the top of the building onto the roof and, deciding that at least Clint was safe, he rushed to the SUV to see if anyone had survived.

Chapter Text

Inside the building, Tony groaned and sat up. His faceplate was mangled- he'd hit the building face-first- and he tore it free as he slowly got to his feet.

'Are you okay?'

Tony jumped and turned, but sighed in relief when he saw Loki. 'How'd it go?' Tony asked.

Loki scowled at him. 'Fine,' he said. 'I destroyed the sensor before teleporting away.'

'And the ones in my Tower?'

'In a minute,' Loki said. He crossed the distance between them and ran his bloody fingers over Tony's face. 'Are you okay?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'My suit broke most of my fall.'

'Most?' Loki echoed.

Tony nodded again. 'It was... um, weird. Just before you turned up I think I felt...my magic?' Loki's eyebrows furrowed. 'It was warm, in my chest, but like when you were telling me how to use my magic; I felt it just before you turned up.'

'I see,' Loki said.

'And then I felt it again just before I went through the building,' Tony continued. 'And I saw purple.'

'Fascinating,' Loki said, eyes wide.

'What's it mean?' Tony asked. Because he had no fucking clue. It had been weird, feeling warm and protected while flying face-first through a fucking building.

'I have a theory, and I shall share it with you later,' Loki said, breaking Tony from his thoughts. 'But for now I have to get to your Tower and take care of the other sensors. I'll teleport them to our Hideout, come back, mess things up a bit, then wait for you in the penthouse as Logan.'

'Okay,' Tony said, nodding. Loki leaned forward to give him a quick kiss, and Tony felt that same warmth spread through his chest. Loki pulled back and Tony saw a soft, oddly shy smile on Loki's face before the Trickster teleported away. 'Okay...' Tony repeated slowly.

' I-Iron Ma-an? ' Tony's comms chose that moment to screech in his ear and he winced.

'J, turn the volume down,' he ordered.

' My apologies, sir ,' the AI replied. ' Agent Barton's comms appear to have been damaged by Mr Lie-smith's attack and the feedback and static is coming through .'

'Yeah, yeah,' Tony grunted, turning and heading for the large, gaping hole in the side of the building.

' Where... yo-ou...he-elp... S... V ,' Clint's crackly voice said in Tony's ear.

'Always needed,' Tony sighed. 'I need a drink.' He put his faceplate back on as best he could before activating his repulsors. They were working now, thank God, and Tony flew through the window and down to the street below.



{oOo}



It only took two one trip to get all of Anthony's magic sensors to the Hideout. Loki deposited them in the younger god's lab and gave them a quick glance; nothing had exploded, so he figured that they must have survived the trip. Loki knew enough about Midgardian technology to work it, but he couldn't understand half of what Anthony rambled about on a daily basis. The man was a genius, Loki had known that from the moment they'd met. Barton had known quite a bit about Tony Stark, and the internet had helped Loki learn more when he'd returned to Midgard after breaking out of his cell on Asgard.

Loki teleported back to the Tower and looked over Tony's workshop. The Midgardian had already set aside a heap of electronics that he'd given Loki the okay to destroy; there was always the chance, however slim, that Fury would order Anthony to turn it all over for his scientists to dissect. Anthony didn't want to take any chances, and neither did Loki.

'Are you recording, JARVIS?' Loki questioned as he walked around the workshop.

'Mr Stark ordered me to scramble the CCTV feed inside his workshop, sir,' the AI replied dutifully. 'Also, the cameras outside the workshop have now ceased functioning.'

Loki smirked. He liked Anthony's computer... he wasn't sure how it worked, to be honest; it wasn't real, yet it sounded like a person. Loki had had many conversations with JARVIS when he was awake at night, Stark sprawled over him snoring in his ear. The computer was as intelligent as its creator, and it was a truly marvellous feet of technology. Even Loki could see that.

'Good,' Loki said before raising his hand. He sent a pulse of mid-level magic at the table in the far corner, and threw up a shielding charm when the table and its contents exploded. He shot a few more blasts around the room, making it look as though he'd targeted anything even remotely sensor-looking.

He felt satisfaction curl thick and heavy around his heart, warmth pooling in his gut. Planning their endeavour with Stark had been truly breathtaking; working with someone as smart as himself had been so thrilling, so different to what Loki had done in the past. His allies had been few and far between, and none could hold a candle to Anthony.

Planning was like a sweet appetiser, carrying out the plan the main course. Loki and Tony had only just begun to sample it, but soon they would be ready to completely destroy SHIELD. It would be a long, dangerous process, but Loki was thrilled that they'd already begun. In the past Loki had had many plans, acting on multiple ones at once, but this? This was eating up all of Loki's attention. He was Loki, Logan, and soon-to-be Lily, Anthony's “assistant”. Working with Anthony stimulated both the mind and the body; Loki hadn't felt this satisfied in years.

Assessing his work one last time, Loki let Logan Thomas' appearance slip over his skin. It was getting easier the longer he remained in this alias, so within seconds Loki was walking across the lab to sit at one of Tony's many chairs.

'JARVIS, please tell me when Anthony or the Avengers are returning to the Tower,' Loki said, glancing up at the ceiling. 'I don't want to be discovered down here by anyone other than Anthony.' It would be difficult to explain; Logan Thomas wouldn't race down to Tony's workshop after Loki attacked. It would be too dangerous.

'Yes, sir,' JARVIS replied. There was a pause, and then he said, 'Mr Stark is currently being detained at the battle site.'

Loki frowned. 'Excuse me?'

'Director Fury is on his way and wants a detailed account of what happened,' JARVIS explained. 'Mr Stark and the Avengers will no doubt be a while.'

Loki sighed. What was he to do until then?

'JARVIS, am I allowed access to Anthony's research on magic?' Loki asked.

'Yes, sir,' JARVIS replied immediately.

Loki hummed and turned to look at the closest computer screen. It was thin, sleek, and looked like a piece of simple glass. 'Pull up Anthony's research, please,' Loki ordered.

JARVIS did as asked, and Loki looked over the rows and rows of very detailed notes Anthony had taken. He clearly understood how magic worked, but not the base facts; not the things that Loki had learned at a young age, about how magic flowed through the body, and how the mind bent magic to its will. Loki would need to sit Anthony down and have a lengthy discussion about magic, share knowledge that he hadn't realised Anthony needed. The man was clever and often grasped things very quickly; Loki hadn't thought to explain the very, very basic facts of magic.

He needed to... Loki frowned and leaned back on the swivel chair, the back of it bending slightly beneath his weight. Stark had mentioned feeling his magic, feeling warmth, just before Loki appeared on top of the SUV, and later when he'd flown into the building- which Loki hadn't planned, actually. His heart had near stopped when he saw Iron Man fly through the building, twisting metal and breaking glass beneath its bulk.

Loki had underestimated the suit's resistance to magic at a very base level. Usually Loki's magic was twisted with spells and intent; earlier, Loki had simply thrown out raw magic, expanding it from his body to end the fight. That was another thing he and Anthony would have to discuss; raw magic, how words and intent could change and shape it, and how Stark could make his suit magic-proof. It would be needed if he and Loki planned to fight side-by-side in the near future. Loki didn't want to destroy Anthony's suit during a battle and possibly injure the Midgardian.

Loki sighed, even as he felt elation seep into his bones. They had so much to do, so much on the line, and yet... Loki had never felt more alive. His very magic hummed with the knowledge of what they were doing.

Which was a problem, it seemed. Loki was almost positive that Stark's magic had reacted to Loki's, causing warmth to spread through Anthony's body when Loki was near. Which also meant that warmth, comfort, acceptance, were the very first things Anthony felt when in Loki's presence.

It was... quite a lot to take in, truth be told. Loki's magic had never accepted anybody. It had always reacted well to Frigga's magic, even after Loki had been captured and tried after his invasion of Midgard. But other than his mother, Loki's magic had never liked anyone. It had disliked people, it had even accepted some as friend rather than foe. But his magic had imprinted on Anthony shortly after they started working together. Loki knew that he couldn't stop it, or even sever the bond; magical bonds were for life, and in Loki's- and now Anthony's- case, that was a very long time.

Loki hadn't planned on mentioning it yet, but it seemed that he would have to, and soon. If Anthony's magic was reacting to Loki's mere presence, just days after the Midgardian had first found it, then the bond would only get stronger. Soon enough Anthony's magic would reach out and connect, Loki's would accept, and then... then they would be bonded for life.

He had to talk to Anthony and explain the situation before that happened. Because while they were bound through their business contract, they weren't bound by magic; they could still walk away from their sexual relationship, if not their professional one. If they bonded magically, they would have to stay together forever.

It disturbed Loki, how much that thought didn't disturb him. Loki had never liked being tied down, but it seemed that Anthony was the exception. Anthony understood him in ways that nobody ever had, and Loki's magic adored that.

Loki sighed and reached out to swipe a finger along the computer screen, scrolling down to the next chunk of information Anthony had compiled. If Loki explained the bond to Anthony, both could actively stop their magic from reaching out to complete it. But Anthony didn't have enough understanding, or control, of his magic to do that yet. Loki would wait, then, until he'd taught Tony some more; then, when he understood, Anthony could decide what he wanted to do.

Until then, Loki had to decide what he could tell Anthony when the man returned to the Tower, and what he could hide beneath deceptive words and warm lips. Just enough information would satisfy Tony.

Loki's magic tingled just beneath his skin, and Loki scowled as he touched the computer screen yet again. His magic didn't like the thought of Loki lying. It was... troubling.



{oOo}



Tony had to stick around the crime scene- as he was calling it in his head- to give his statement multiple times. First to Clint and Steve, then to Fury when the director arrived, and later to Bruce when the good doctor finally wandered in. He'd been waiting on the Helicarrier with Fury, but had finally been allowed to come and help out.

The four SHIELD agents who had accompanied Tony, Natasha and Thor were dead. Thor was suffering from a concussion and a few broken bones, but had insisted that they'd heal by nightfall. Steve's own wounds- a broken arm, fractured leg, and fractured wrist- would heal quickly, too, thanks to the Super Soldier Serum. Natasha wasn't so lucky. A concussion, four cracked ribs, and an arm broken in two places would keep her on the Helicarrier for at least two days and off of any missions for a few weeks.

She was livid, and Tony had to bite back a laugh every time he saw her scowling at the SHIELD doctors trying to get her into a van. Loki had done that, partly for Tony. He'd hurt Natasha for betraying Tony and using him. Tony's cock kept twitching, and he was glad that he'd managed to borrow some heavy cargo pants from one of the SHIELD agents; his undersuit wouldn't hide an erection at all .

'Are you okay?' Bruce asked.

'Hmm?' Tony hummed, turning to look at him.

'That cut looks bad,' Bruce said.

Tony frowned before remembering what Bruce was talking about. Tony hadn't noticed it at first, but he'd caught a glimpse of himself in one of the SHIELD vans that had turned up; he had a long gash across his chest. It started just below his collarbone, curling around his arc reactor and ending just above the waistband of his pants. Tony had peeled off the top half of his undersuit a few hours earlier and hadn't noticed the tear in the material.

'It's fine,' Tony said, waving a dismissive hand. 'A part of my suit must have come free when I went through the building and cut me. I'll clean and bandage it when I get home.'

'Okay,' Bruce agreed easily. 'Just call me if you need any help.'

'Logan can help me,' Tony said. 'If Fury ever lets me leave,' he added in a mutter.

Bruce smiled slightly and turned to survey the SHIELD agents playing cleaners. A large crowd had already gathered and there were TV crews everywhere, but Fury had ordered everybody- i.e. Tony- to not talk to them. Tony had huffed and stomped about like a child because it made Fury's head throb and the older man rub his good eye. Annoying people had always been one of Tony's favourite pastimes.

So instead of amusing himself with the local media or- God forbid- helping clean up , Tony was standing on the sidelines watching, whining, and generally hating his entire existence. He wanted to go home and see Loki and fuck Loki and, you know, not be here . There were only so many times Tony could tell his version of events. Did Fury want an account in bullet-points, too? Maybe a nice, long essay.

'Loki tried to kill us,' Tony groaned, and Bruce looked at him again, 'seriously, what's new? Why can't I go home?'

'Fury just wants to make sure he has everything covered,' Bruce said.

Tony snorted. 'He just likes fucking us over, Bruce. You know that.'

Bruce smiled but didn't say anything; Tony knew that he agreed.

Finally, after at least two hours of standing around doing nothing, Tony shed the cargo pants, pulled the top half of his undersuit back up, and got back into his suit. Fuck Fury. Tony was a busy man, he had better things to do than play story-teller. His suit had been standing to his right, some of the SHIELD agents- and plenty of the gathered crowd- eyeing it like they wanted to take a piece home. Tony had been watching the thing like a hawk to make sure nobody got too close, and now he sighed in relief as the familiar armour wrapped around him like a second skin.

'Stark!' Fury shouted just as the neck armour extended.

'Yes, dear?' Tony called back.

'What the hell do you think you're doing?' Fury demanded as he got closer.

'Just felt a little chilly, Director,' Tony said. 'All my suits have built in air con and heaters. Did you know that?' A vein in Fury's temple was twitching and Tony smirked. 'Jokes, I'm going home. I've had enough of standing around here like an idiot.'

'I didn't give you permission to leave,' Fury growled.

'I don't need your permission to do anything, Patch,' Tony replied.

'You're an Avenger, aren't you?'Fury said.

Tony smirked. 'And don't you just hate that,' he said and, with a wink, slammed his bent faceplate down and took to the air. He could hear Fury shouting and cursing as he flew away, but ignored the director as he stabilised his flight. His suit still wasn't working at peak efficiency thanks to Loki's magic attack. Tony wanted to dive right into his workshop, with Loki, and figure out how they could completely protect Tony's suit from any future magical blasts. It wouldn't do for some upstart magic-user to take Tony out when Loki needed him.

Plus, Tony planned on fighting by Loki's side a lot in the future; he had to do better, his suits had to be better. Tony would figure it out. He always did.

Chapter Text

Tony landed on the helipad, JARVIS disassembling his suit and sending it down to the workshop. Which was where Tony was headed. JARVIS had said that Loki was there, disguised as Logan Thomas, currently looking through Tony's magic research.

Tony smiled to himself as he rode the elevator down; in the few weeks he and Loki had been working together, the older god hadn't asked to look at Tony's research once. Probably because he'd rather Tony learn magic than study it. But Tony liked doing both, researching and studying until he understood something enough to execute it well.

He reached his workshop and found Loki sitting at one of the tables staring at a monitor, the area behind him in the far corner charred black.

'You destroyed some of my stuff, I see,' Tony said.

Loki glanced up, not at all surprised to see Tony. 'You did give me permission to,' he quipped.

Tony chuckled and moved further into the room. 'Read anything interesting?'

'You have a remarkably good grasp of magic,' Loki said, 'though you're missing many basics.'

'I figured,' Tony shrugged. 'It's not like I grew up on this stuff, you know. And Thor's pretty hopeless with all things magical.'

Loki snorted. 'He always has been,' he commented.

'Well, that and the fact that whenever I ask him about you he goes off on rants about your younger days or your current evilness, blah, blah; you get the idea,' Tony said. He'd reached Loki and leaned against the table, folding his arms across his chest. 'Thor's a bit of an asshole.'

'He always has been,' Loki repeated.

Tony grinned before clearing his throat. 'So, are we gonna talk magic?'

'I thought we were?'

Rolling his eyes, Tony said, 'Smart ass,' which just made Loki smirk. 'I meant my magic and what happened today.' He paused, eyes roaming over Loki's face. 'It was my magic, wasn't it?

Loki sighed but turned so that he was facing Tony properly. Leaning back against the table, Loki nodded. 'Yes, it was your magic.'

'Okay,' Tony said. 'Why'd it go all... uh, warm?'

'It was reacting to my presence, which I think you've already guessed.'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'But I wanna know why.'

Loki pursed his lips, thinking it over a bit, before he said, 'I believe that it was because I was with you when you connected with your magic.' Tony just raised his eyebrows. 'When you first connected with your magic I was there, very close by, and your magic reached out to mine. Though magic is an energy, it is intelligent; not to the extent of a Midgardian or Jötunn, of course, but intelligent just the same.'

'Yeah, you've explained that,' Tony interrupted. 'Sometimes magic has a mind of its own, right?'

'Indeed,' Loki agreed. 'When I landed on the SUV, using magic to do so, yours picked up on that and wanted to... connect, for lack of a better word. It's something that you will learn to control the more familiar you get with your magic.'

Tony was silent as he let that information sink in, eyes glancing over Loki's body and then the workshop. 'Huh.' Loki raised an eyebrow. 'No, that makes sense,' Tony nodded, 'I should have thought of that.'

'Having another confirm it isn't a bad thing,' Loki shrugged.

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. 'So, um, what about my magic making an appearance before I went into that building?'

Loki's eyes darkened at that and flicked over Tony's body, as though trying to search for any possible injuries. Was... yeah, Loki was worried; he'd been worried earlier, and he was still worried, now. Worried about Tony getting hurt. Tony's heart skipped a beat behind his arc reactor, and he had to swallow thickly to get a hold of himself. Jesus, he was fucking falling-

'Your magic sensed that you were in danger,' Loki spoke suddenly, dragging Tony- thank fuck- from his thoughts. 'You aren't able to make shields yet, so you used raw magic instinctively to protect yourself. That was the flash of purple you saw.'

'Really?' Tony asked. Loki nodded. 'I... fuck, I used magic to protect myself?'

'Indeed,' Loki said, a smile playing on his lips. 'It seems that you are a natural, Anthony.'

'Hell yeah I am!' Tony said. 'Tony Stark, Iron Man and Mage.'

Loki snorted. 'Don't get ahead of yourself, Stark. It will take many, many years of practice before you can wield magic like another limb.'

'Yeah, yeah,' Tony waved a dismissive hand, 'I'll never be as good as the big bad God of Mischief. But I can totally learn enough to use magic against the Avengers, right?'

'I don't see why not, if you study and practice enough,' Loki said.

Tony laughed again, fantasies of throwing magic at Clint and Steve, Natasha and Thor, already filling his head. God, it would drive them fucking insane trying to figure out who the magic user working with Loki was. Tony couldn't wait!

His fantasies trailed off when he realised that Loki was staring at him. 'What?'

'Are you okay?' Loki asked. His tone was similar to the one he'd used earlier, when he'd teleported into the building Tony had taken a short trip into.

'Yeah,' Tony said. 'A few cuts and bruises, but I'm used to it.'

Loki frowned at that, and Tony peeled the top half of his undersuit off, showing Loki the tear in the fabric.

'Something cut me,' he explained, 'not sure what, yet. But look at that!' He grinned as he looked down at his chest. What had been a deep cut less than half-an-hour before was now a thin pink line, a few flecks of blood crusted at the edges. Loki reached out to touch, finger cool as he traced the line from Tony's collar bone to his abs.

'I did that,' Loki muttered.

'Not on purpose,' Tony said. 'And, hey, nothing bad happened to you, right?' Loki frowned up at him. 'If you'd purposely hurt me, our contact would have hurt you,' Tony said.

Loki blinked at that, as though he'd forgotten the details of their magically binding business arrangement.

'Yes,' he finally said, 'however, I didn't realise that raw magic would affect your suit like that.'

'Raw magic?' Tony echoed.

Loki inclined his head. 'Raw magic and spells are different, and things- people- react differently to the energy. Spells help centre and control magic, but the words and intent make the energy somewhat weaker. Raw magic is what your body replenishes and draws from the Realm around you. It is stronger, but far more dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.'

'Okay...' Tony said slowly. Loki was still tracing the healing cut on Tony's torso, and Tony found it difficult to focus on Loki's words and not... other things. 'So what you used today, at the end there, was raw magic?'

'Yes,' Loki said. 'It was a quick, if dirty, way of ending the fight early. I didn't think your suit would take that much damage.'

'It just failed a bit,' Tony explained. 'Your, uh, raw magic, or whatever, messed with the repulsors, and the building did the rest of the damage. But, hey, no harm done.'

'We should figure out how to protect your suit properly,' Loki said.

'I thought that, too,' Tony agreed. 'If I wanna fight by your side, we'd better make my newer suit designs magic-safe.'

'We also have to take your own magic into account,' Loki said. He finally withdrew his finger, and Tony fought not to shiver at the lost touch.

'We do?' he asked, voice a bit hoarser than before.

If Loki noticed, he didn't comment. 'Yes. What you're currently learning to wield is raw magic; I won't teach you any spells until you have a firmer grasp of it. If my magic interfered with your suit, your own magic will probably do the same. And if you want to use it in battle, you won't be able to without risking damage to yourself.'

'Right,' Tony said. He cleared his throat, 'I didn't think of that, to be honest. So you think we'll be able to mix Midgardian science and magic together so it all functions safely?'

'If anyone can do it, we can,' Loki said. He grinned sharply at that, eyes like poison as they met Tony's.

Tony grinned in response. 'Yeah,' he agreed. 'Want to try in a few days? We can go to the Hideout. The Avengers and SHIELD will probably want me around for a day or two to discuss the fight a few hundred times more, but I don't think I have any meets or anything after that.'

'You really do need an assistant,' Loki mused, and Tony laughed.

'Isn't that your job?' he teased.

Loki smirked. 'Not at the moment, no,' he said and stood slowly. Tony swallowed as Loki pressed against him, and had to tilt his head back to meet Loki's eyes again. 'Where are your soon-to-be former team mates?' Loki purred, eyes flashing.

'Uh...' Tony had to really think about that (Loki + sex voice = Little Tony perking up and short-circuiting all higher brain function). 'Still at the crime scene,' he eventually managed. 'Romanov was taken to the Helicarrier or one of SHIELD's little hidey holes, I'm not too sure. Bruce and the others were all still there when I left, and they'll probably be there for a while longer.' He paused to lick his lips, and Loki's eyes flashed to Tony's mouth. 'Why?' the billionaire asked.

Loki smirked again, slowly, dangerously, and Tony bit back a groan. He couldn't fight a gasp, though, not when Loki bent to suddenly sink his teeth into Tony's neck, biting and sucking until there was no chance in Hell Tony wouldn't have a hickey, even with his new god-like healing ability.

'Fuck, Loki,' Tony groaned and tipped his head to the side. Loki took the invitation, smoothing his lips over Tony's neck, his tongue flicking out to lick the sweat from Tony's heated skin. 'Gonna do more than bite me, babe?'

'Mm,' Loki hummed in his ear, then bit the lobe. 'I had planned on it.'

Tony growled and reached up, grabbed Loki by his short, curly blonde hair, and used his grip to drag Loki's mouth up to his own. He mashed their lips together for a dirty, very sloppy kiss, teeth clacking and tongues licking against each other. Loki drew back after a few seconds to adjust their positions, and when he pressed their lips back together it was so much better; firmer, harder, deeper as Loki dove into Tony's mouth and then sucked on his tongue.

Tony made another noise that was lost in Loki's mouth, and then grunted in frustration when he lost his grip on Loki's- on Logan's- too-short hair.

'Fuck, Loki, I want you ,' Tony growled, 'not Logan Thomas.'

Loki paused, seeming surprised, before he glanced around. 'I can change in here, we already planned to tell the Avengers that I was here.'

Tony was nodding before Loki had finished his sentence. 'JARVIS, tell us as soon as any of the Avengers, Thor especially, gets within a mile of the Tower, got me?'

' Yes, Mr Stark ,' JARVIS replied.

'Come on,' Tony said and grabbed Loki's wrist. The Trickster let himself get dragged across the room and around the short wall that jutted out halfway along the workshop. Behind it was a small fridge, a sink and mirror, a set of drawers, and a cot with a few blankets and pillows scattered atop it.

'I didn't know this was here,' Loki commented.

'I spend a lot of time down here, so I figured I'd put in some basics,' Tony explained. 'Now get naked.'

Loki snorted, 'So charming, Stark,' but did as asked. He pulled his t-shirt off, revealing smooth, pale skin. Tony groaned low in the back of his throat, and Loki smirked as he kicked his sneakers off and then went for the button of his jeans. Tony was naked faster; he only had the undersuit and underwear to get out of. He jumped onto the cot and laid back, wrapping a hand around his cock as Loki slowly got naked.

The other god's eyes were fixed to Tony's groin, and Tony grinned as he stroked himself a few times, squeezing when he reached the head so a few drops of pre-come leaked out. Loki licked his lips and kicked his jeans and boxer-briefs aside before climbing onto the cot and crawling over Tony.

'I hope you have lubricant,' Loki muttered. He pressed his mouth to Tony's naval, delicate kisses travelling over Tony's skin and up, up, up until Loki could circle a nipple with his tongue. Tony sighed and pushed his free hand through Loki's thick black hair, satisfied that he could finally wrap the long strands around his fingers.

'Y-Yeah,' he said, voice hitching when Loki bit at his left nipple, then his right, tongue travelling between the two and over his arc reactor, leaving a wet trail. 'Uh... under the cot.'

Loki pushed off of Tony and leaned down, long arm somehow reaching under the cot without Loki having to move all that far. Tony pouted- he really wished that he was taller- and Loki smirked when he looked at him, drawing back with the large bottle of lube firmly in hand.

'Do you entertain people down here often, Anthony?' Loki questioned as he looked down at the bottle.

'Just me and my right hand, Lokes,' Tony laughed. 'I don't let one-nighters into my workshop.'

'Ah, so I should feel privileged, then?' Loki asked. It took him a second to figure the bottle out, but then he was twisting the cap, the top popping up so that Loki could squirt a large glob onto his hand.

'You should always feel privileged,' Tony quipped, 'I mean, look at me. I'm a god now, remember; people should worship me.'

'They will, in time,' Loki said. He climbed back onto Tony's thighs, straddling the younger god and shifting a bit. 'However, only I am allowed to worship you naked.'

Tony raised his eyebrows, but didn't see any reason to argue; it wasn't like he wanted to get naked with anyone else. Fuck it, Loki really had ruined him for anyone else.

'Whatever you want, Loki,' he agreed easily. Loki smiled in satisfaction and reached forward to wrap a hand around Tony's cock, spreading lube and stroking from base to crown. 'Fuck, yeah,' Tony breathed out. 'You topping?'

'No,' Loki said. 'I'm going to ride you until this little bed is in danger of breaking apart and crashing to the floor. And even if it does, I will continue to ride you until you're begging for release.'

'Fuck!' Tony swore harshly a few more times as Loki continued to jerk him off, fingers cool and firm, squeezing the base of Tony's cock every time Tony was in danger of getting a bit too excited. 'Come on, Loki!' Yes, Tony wasn't above whining; if it got Loki to mount his cock, he'd fucking beg on his hands and knees!

Loki just grinned at him like the fucking asshole that he was.

' Lookkii ,' Tony whimpered, ' please .'

'I like watching you beg,' Loki said.

Tony growled, and Loki laughed, but he finally let Tony's cock go and climbed further up him, settling on Tony's hips. Tony peeled his eyes open and watched, mouth watering, as Loki squeezed some more lube onto his hand and then reached behind himself.

Loki let out a soft, pleased little sigh when he slid a finger in. Tony shuffled a bit until he could grab Loki's hips, and just held on firmly as he watched Loki quickly prep himself, fingers sliding deeper each time until he'd started bouncing on them.

'God, you're gorgeous,' Tony murmured.

Loki's head lolled to the side and he slid his eyes open, irises a darker green than usual. 'Feel free to refer to me as your one true God whenever you want.'

Tony opened his mouth to say... something- a witty retort, probably- but he was derailed when Loki slid his fingers out and moved gracefully up Tony's body. Tony groaned loudly and his entire body arched upward when Loki sat on his cock, Tony sliding up and all the way in without any resistance.

' Fuck !'

Loki started moving immediately, apparently not wanting to draw this out. Which was oh-fucking-kay in Tony's opinion. Tony thrust up as best he could, but Loki was heavy, even with Tony's godly strength. Tony had to dig his fingers into Loki's hips and plant his feet on the cot to slam himself into Loki's ass, but the extra work was worth it when Loki gasped, mouth dropping open. He tipped his head back and latched onto Tony's thighs as he moved quicker, Tony's cock sliding out of him more and more with each thrust until Tony was barely staying in.

When he slammed in it was all the way, dick hitting Loki's prostate and making the Trickster shudder, his erection leak pre-come that dribbled down his length.

'Fuck, you're gorgeous,' Tony panted. His gaze darted between Loki's cock and Loki's face, eyes watching a bead of sweat travel from Loki's neck down to his smooth chest.

Loki growled in response, apparently at a loss for words, for once. Tony didn't care, though, not when Loki moaned and panted and moved that much faster and harder. The cot squeaked dangerously beneath them, not used to this kind of treatment, and Tony briefly worried that it was going to collapse beneath them. But then Loki twisted, reached down himself, and somehow slid a finger into Tony's ass without Tony's cock leaving his own.

'Oh sweet mother of...' Tony trailed off and pushed up, back, he didn't fucking know; Loki was doing something to him, something that made Tony's prostate tingle pleasantly even as his cock hit Loki's. 'Magic,' he breathed in realisation, 'I... fucking... love it.'

Loki chuckled- or whined, it was hard to tell- and he jammed himself down, grabbed his cock, and with one short jerk he was coming all over Tony's chest, hand moving quickly to milk every last drop of pleasure. Tony followed swiftly, Loki's magic fingers stroking his prostate as his ass squeezed around Tony's cock. It was too much, too good, and Tony launched himself up and at Loki as he came, their mouths colliding as Tony jammed his tongue down Loki's throat, his whimpers swallowed as Loki sucked and licked and bit.

'Fuck,' Tony breathed when he remembered how to talk, brain slowly coming back on-line. Loki looked pleased with himself, but soft as well, warm... cuddly? Tony was pretty sure that that word had never been applied to Loki, but it was applicable, at least at the moment. Loki slid his fingers from Tony's ass and pushed Tony onto his back, the genius going easily.

With a simple wave of his hand Loki had them cleaned, and then he draped himself half over Tony, face buried in the younger god's neck. Tony hummed, body feeling pleasantly used, and Loki pressed a kiss to his neck.

'You're awesome in bed,' Tony said. 'Have I told you that before?'

'Multiple times,' Loki said, smirk evident in his voice. 'But feel free to say it often. Every day, if need be.'

Tony snorted and rubbed his hand up and down Loki's back, the cool skin prickling and making Loki shift a bit before going still.

'Do we have to be anywhere any time soon?' Loki questioned.

'Hmm...' Tony hummed, 'dunno. JARVIS will let us know when the Avengers get back.'

'Captain Rogers, Agent Barton, Mr Odinson, and Doctor Banner are still with Director Fury at the “scene of the crime”, sir,' JARVIS piped in. Tony snickered; he could hear the air-quotes around “scene of the crime”.

'Thanks, J,' Tony said and settled in for a bit of cuddling- hey, he liked it too. 'Keep us posted.'

'Yes, sir,' JARVIS replied.

Chapter Text

After about half-an-hour of cuddling (it was cuddling, no matter how much Loki tried to deny it!), Tony and Loki headed back to the penthouse. Loki put Logan back on, and they went to get something to eat. Tony was going through his fridge when JARVIS announced that the Avengers wanted him to meet them on Rogers' floor. Tony sighed and stood up to look at Loki, who was sitting at the kitchen island watching him.

'Fancy spending some time with the Avengers?' he asked. Loki gave him a disgusted look and Tony snorted. 'Hey, I don't want to either, but Clint or Steve will barge in here if I don't head down there.'

'Why do they require your presence?' Loki questioned.

'They probably wanna discuss the fight again,' Tony shrugged. 'Seriously, they like going over everything a thousand times. I'm all for research and comparing notes, but not forty times an hour. They have issues,' he said, shrugging again.

Loki sighed but slid from the stool. 'I suppose that it would work to our advantage, the Avengers getting to know Logan better. It would be good if they felt calm in my presence.'

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. 'Okay, then. Steve will probably cook something, or Bruce will. Either that or we'll order in.'

'Very well,' Loki said, and followed Tony into the elevator.

The Avengers- minus Natasha- were sitting in Steve's lounge room. Clint was curled up in one of the armchairs poking at the bandage wrapped around his right arm; he'd gotten burnt just before the S-Hawk had crashed into the building. Steve was at full strength again, only a few cuts and bruises still on his face, and Thor was completely fine. Bruce, having not been in the actual fight, was the one in the kitchen. They'd apparently decided to cook before calling Tony down, because Bruce was pulling large trays of lasagne out of the oven when Tony and Loki walked in.

'Ooh, lasagne,' Tony hummed in appreciation. He hated Steve, true, but the man was a good cook.

'We cooked enough for everyone,' Steve said. He offered Loki a small, tentative smile. 'Logan.'

'Mr Rogers,' Loki replied.

Tony snorted, and Steve said, 'Please, call me Steve.'

Loki just nodded and stuck close to Tony, displaying an air of mild nerves.

'We all remember Logan, Logan remembers everyone,' Tony said, waving a hand around. 'Why am I here?'

'We want to talk about the fight,' Steve said, giving Tony his no-nonsense look. Tony rolled his eyes but didn't say anything; fighting was useless, he'd learned that early on. It was either talk and talk and fucking talk or just storm out and ignore Steve trying to order him back. 'We should also talk about your workshop,' Steve added.

Tony raised his eyebrows, and it was Clint who said, 'JARVIS told us how Loki turned up in your workshop.'

'Oh, yeah,' Tony said, pasting a scowl on his face. 'That fucker destroyed all the magic sensors I was working on, even the portable DVD one.' Clint stared at him, and Tony shrugged. 'What? I like taking things apart and making them better.'

'What is a DVD, again?' Thor asked, looking sheepish, and with good reason; Tony always got incredibly frustrated when Thor failed to remember the basics of human technology. It was really fucking annoying because Thor wasn't an idiot, not really; he was just from a different world. But technology and Thor didn't mix, so Tony had given up trying to teach the big bastard about anything, leaving that to Steve and Clint.

'Never mind, Pikachu,' Tony said, the nickname earning another confused frown from Thor and a snort from Clint.

'How did Loki know that you had more sensors?' Steve asked, apparently deciding to get right into it. He walked into the kitchen and Tony followed, Loki right beside him, and that prompted Clint and Thor to stand and trail in. Bruce was setting the table, had already cut up the lasagne, and Tony grinned at him.

'No idea,' Tony said as he took a seat. 'I have three theories; one, Loki knew that I'd make more than one and figured he'd just destroy anything even remotely magic sensor-looking just in case; two, more than one of my magic sensors actually worked, Loki sensed that and destroyed them; or three, Loki's an asshole and just likes blowing up my shit.'

Loki, very subtly, kicked Tony under the table, and Tony fought not to turn and poke his tongue out at the mage. Instead he offered Steve a shrug.

'I'm just glad that Logan wasn't anywhere near my workshop,' Tony added.

'Yeah,' Steve agreed, smiling at Loki. 'He didn't pop up?'

'No,' Loki shook his head. 'JARVIS told me as soon as the cameras in Tony's workshop stopped working, and advised me to hide on the helipad. If Loki did teleport into the penthouse, JARVIS could at least call Tony for help.'

'I woulda broken that fucker's neck if he came anywhere near you,' Tony growled, earning surprised looks from everyone but Bruce. Apparently they still hadn't figured out that he and Logan were in this for the long haul. Tony had no plans to give up Loki any time soon; their business agreement was indefinite, and Tony kinda hoped that their sexual relationship was, too.

But it was too soon to really think about that, let alone bring it up with Loki, so Tony pushed it from his mind.

Steve cleared his throat and sat, which was the signal for everyone to start loading their plates with lasagne and salad, which Bruce had just put on the table. Loki had more salad than lasagne, while Thor ignored the greens all together, instead stuffing his face full of meat and pasta. The others had a bit of each, and Steve stood briefly to grab drinks and cups before they started discussing the battle again.

Steve clearly didn't feel comfortable with Logan there, but Tony just stared at him every time he started to trail off, so eventually Steve just spoke, addressing the Avengers and ignoring Loki. Not that Loki seemed to care; he sat close to Tony and ate slowly, appearing only vaguely interested in the conversation.

After Steve was done, Clint explained his part of the battle, and Tony was mildly annoyed when the archer mentioned how his quick reflexes had saved his life when the S-Hawk crashed. Then again, he kinda wanted to kill Clint himself.

Thor rambled about battling Loki, his disappointment and heartbreak over his “brother's” continued descent into madness clear in his words and on his face. Loki's hand had migrated to Tony's thigh by then, and the mage took his frustrations out on Tony's poor, innocent leg, making Tony stuff food into his mouth to muffle his whimpers. At least Loki wasn't jumping across the table and trying to strangle Thor with his bare hands; Tony was sure that Loki wanted to.

Bruce's account was simple and short, which was why he was Tony's favourite; he sat on the Helicarrier, he heard about the fight, he sat some more before Fury let him leave, and then he stood and watched SHIELD clean up the aftermath.

When it was Tony's turn he sighed and groaned but obediently re-told his story again , leaving out the fact that Loki had teleported to him before Tony had joined the Avengers on the ground. Then it was Loki's turn, and he jolted slightly in his seat when everybody turned their sights on him.

'It's okay,' Tony said, voice soothing. He reached up to pat Loki's hand, which had finally moved from hurting Tony's thigh to playing with his plate. 'If you need to stop, stop. If you need a break, let me know. Loki can't hurt you, okay? I won't let him.'

Loki glanced at him, held his eyes, before taking a deep breath and nodding weakly. Tony marvelled at Loki's deception as the Trickster weaved a tale of hiding out in the penthouse while Loki destroyed the workshop. He'd even recorded footage of Logan doing just that, JARVIS faking the time-stamps in case Natasha or Clint decided to investigate.

When story-time was over, Tony finally glanced between Steve and Clint and asked, 'How's Natasha?'

Clint scowled briefly, clearly annoyed that Tony hadn't cared until this point; Tony didn't care even remotely, but appearances had to be kept up.

'She'll be fine,' Steve answered. 'Loki broke her arm in two places and cracked a few ribs; she'll spend a few weeks in a cast and sit out some missions, but she'll heal, thankfully.'

'I'm gonna tear that fucker's eye out when I get a hold of him,' Clint growled.

Thor made a soft noise of annoyance, always wanting to defend his brother's honour despite Loki's clear evilness. Clint just glared at him, daring him to say anything, and Thor eventually backed down, going back to his fifth helping of lasagne.

Steve glanced between Clint and Thor and, as always, decided to play mediator by changing the subject. Clearing his throat, he turned to Loki with a genuine, if small, smile on his face. 'So, Logan,' he said, and Loki looked up from his plate.

'Yes, Captain.... Steve.'

Tony snorted. Captain Steve. Steve, of course, ignored him. 'You said you were a writer?' Steve asked Loki.

Loki inclined his head and said, 'I took to writing when I was a teenager. I've always loved reading, and I wanted to create my own stories.'

'So what kind of things do you write?' Bruce questioned, looking genuinely interested. Yet another reason why Brucie was Tony's favourite.

'Anything and everything, really,' Loki lied, a soft smile pulling at his lips. 'I enjoy fantasy, science fiction, romance... whatever idea comes to to me, I write it down in one of my notebooks. I'm currently working on a story about a hunter who tracks down magical beings. It's in its early stages, but I'm researching various myths about werewolves and other such beasts to try and find a plot I like.'

Wow, Loki was a damn good liar. There was just enough hesitance- just enough nerves and excitement- in his voice to make his story seem so... real. If Tony didn't know that Logan was really Loki, he'd probably fall for the bullshit leaving Loki's mouth.

'Wow,' Bruce said. He was the only one at the table, apart from Tony, who seemed to like Loki; or, at least, not be annoyed just by his presence. 'That must be interesting, researching things like that for work.'

'The various distant relatives I have often tell me that writing isn't a real job,' Loki said, 'but I enjoy it, and I have the money to keep going.'

'You win the lottery or something?' Clint muttered.

Tony glanced at him. Clint didn't seem truly interested; he was just making small talk. His eyes were still dark, fingers tight around his fork. He was still thinking about Loki and what he'd like to do to him. Tony really wished that he could just stab his own fork into Clint's eye. The Bird fucking annoyed him.

'No,' Loki answered Clint, drawing the agent's gaze, 'my parents passed away when I was eighteen. Both were rather wealthy and, as an only child, they left everything to me.' He paused, as though trying to swallow back the old pain of losing both mother and father at such a young age. When he spoke again it was with forced cheer. 'I'm glad for everything they gave me.'

Steve was staring around the table now, apparently at a loss as how to change this subject. Clint didn't seem inclined to help, and Thor was staring morosely at his plate as he shovelled lasagne into his mouth. Bruce was giving Loki a sympathetic smile.

'We're thinking of heading to England soon,' Tony piped in. It wasn't really a lie; he vaguely remembered Pepper mentioning England and the new Stark Industries offices, and getting away from New York for a week or two would give he and Loki some time alone together to plan and study magic. 'Visit some of Logan's estranged family, just relax, you know.'

Steve beamed, 'That's good, Tony. You deserve a break.'

Tony nearly snorted, but managed to stop himself by biting the inside of his cheek. Clint was smirking at Steve; fucking prick.

'Yeah,' Tony said, while Loki nodded enthusiastically, seemingly ignorant of the declining atmosphere.

'I can't wait to play tour guide,' Loki smiled. 'I've lived in America for a few years, but I only just moved to New York a few months ago and don't really know my way around all that well. Tony's been showing me the sights.'

'Aww, you just want me to look like an idiot,' Tony teased.

Loki chuckled. 'I don't have to try hard to do that, love.'

Clint snorted, but Tony ignored him, still smiling at Loki.

'Well, that's great,' Steve interrupted, drawing their attention. 'Um, Tony...' he trailed off and Tony raised his eyebrows. 'Is there, uh... any way you can start working on another magic sensor immediately?' Steve asked. 'Before you go to England or anything?'

Tony frowned a bit. One minute it was “Tony, take a break, you're hurting the team”, and the next it was “work on this for us, you're team, you have to”! Stupid fucking... fucks.

'Yeah, sure,' Tony said, his anger buried deep down. 'But what if it works again and Loki shows up?'

Steve frowned; he clearly hadn't thought of that.

'Maybe we can keep it locked up?' Bruce suggested. 'Just something that'll take Loki a little while to get to. That'd be enough time for Thor to realise he's here and stop him.'

Tony nodded slowly, as though thinking of ways to keep his experiments from being destroyed again. 'Yeah, that could work,' he said. 'I back up all of my research, all I have to do is build the sensors again. I might go over my notes a bit more thoroughly before trying; I gotta figure out what I got right so I can do it better this time.'

'Then we can finally ship Loki off to Asgard,' Clint grunted.

'He will not escape this time,' Thor promised; he'd been doing that ever since he returned with news of Loki's escape. 'The All-Father didn't take his Jötunn abilities into account last time. This time, he will.'

Loki jolted at that, and Tony grabbed his thigh under the table. Now was not the time for Loki to freak out, damn it!

'What do you mean?' Clint asked.

'My father explained to me that Loki's magic has two separate parts,' Thor said, much to Loki's clear annoyance- Tony could feel the tension in his leg. 'There is his Asgardian magic, which he can wield due to him growing up on Asgard; he absorbed it at a young age, and his years there caused his magical core to accept it as part of himself. Now, his body replenishes Æsir magic as well as Jötunn magic. His Jötunn magic is a part of his very being because he is Jötunn. It is of ice and darkness, his Asgardian magic of gold and light. Loki can wield both, and his Jötunn magic allowed him to strengthen himself and break out of his cell. We have never kept Jötnar as prisoners on Asgard, and the magic weaved into the cells could not contain him.'

Clint was glaring at Thor now, and even Steve looked annoyed. 'Well that's fucking fantastic ,' Clint grunted. 'If your dad had just thought for a goddamn second, Loki would still be rotting away in prison instead of running around our planet trying to kill us!'

Thor's shoulders slumped and Steve sighed.

'Clint, the King made a mistake; a terrible one, yes, but it wasn't his fault,' Steve said. 'You heard Thor; next time Loki will be held properly.'

'If we ever catch him,' Clint muttered. With that he stood and left the kitchen, bring an abrupt end to the little get together.

'Whelp, me and Logan are gonna go, then,' Tony said. He wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to finally fucking leave . 'If that's all?' he added to Steve.

'Yeah,' Steve sighed. 'Keep us updated on the sensor, okay?'

'I'll start first thing tomorrow,' Tony said. It wasn't even a lie; he'd get Loki to take him back to their Hideout, and he'd start working with Loki again to get a real magic sensor up and running. It'd come in handy if any other magic-wielders crawled out of the woodwork.

Plus, Tony wanted to study magic some more. He wouldn't be happy until his knowledge was closer to Loki's rather than Thor's. Tony knew that he'd never understand magic as well as Loki; magic was a very big part of Loki, and he'd been studying it for over a thousand years. Still, Tony needed to know how it worked.

'Seeya later, kiddies!' Tony called and left the kitchen.

'It was nice to see you all again,' Loki said behind him, voice pleasant and honest. Tony bit back a snort until he and Loki were in the elevator.

'Kiss-ass,' Tony said.

'Shut up,' Loki retorted. Tony laughed. 'You wish to work on your magic sensor tomorrow, don't you?' Loki said after a beat of silence.

'Yeah,' Tony said. 'We've made progress with my magic, right?' Loki nodded. 'Time to make some progress on the science side of things,' Tony decided.

'Very well,' Loki said.

'Right now I wanna work on my new suit designs,' Tony added, 'we'll do magic tomorrow.'

'Very well,' Loki repeated.

The elevator stopped at Tony's workshop, and Tony stepped out, stopping when he realised that Loki hadn't followed him. 'Join me?' Tony asked, holding out a hand and wiggling his fingers.

Loki chuckled and shook his head, but he reached out and linked his fingers with Tony's. Smiling, Tony dragged Loki into the workshop.



{oOo}



Loki watched, intrigued, as Anthony went to the far right wall of his workshop and started... pressing against the concrete and metal. He raised an eyebrow when a panel slid to the side, revealing a keypad that glowed green. Stark entered a code and then the entire wall to his left shifted, revealing a glass case containing...

'Your new suit designs,' Loki realised as he walked across the workshop.

Anthony nodded. 'Yeah, I had to keep them hidden from snooping agents.'

'Clever,' Loki mused. He wouldn't have realised the extra room was there if Anthony hadn't revealed it, so he doubted that the Spider or Bird had discovered it.

'They're still in the planning stages, but I've got some parts built,' Tony explained as he opened cases and drawers. 'I can only really work on them when Natasha and Clint are out on a mission or definitely asleep, which isn't that often, really. They take stalking me too seriously.'

Loki snorted and watched Tony bustle about the little area.

'J, the workshop's locked down, right?' Tony asked suddenly.

'Yes, sir,' the AI said. 'I always lock down the workshop when you work on the Genesis suits.'

'Good boy,' Tony said.

' I live for your praise, sir ,' the computer drawled, making Loki snicker in amusement.

'Cheeky bastard,' Anthony muttered. The hidden workshop was a small, square area filled with large boxes, and Loki could see that three of the walls were filled with drawers built into the concrete. The large table in the middle of the room had three large, steel boxes sitting atop it, which Anthony had just opened.

Inside were bits and pieces of matted silver suits; gauntlets, boots, chest and leg plates. It seemed that Anthony had only just begun to build the armour.

'I've got the wiring done,' Tony said as he pulled pieces out to show Loki. 'I pretty much just built on what I already have; made everything faster, stronger, etcetera. It's the armour that's the hardest part; make it a bit like Iron Man, but not too much.'

'Yes,' Loki agreed as he took one of the gauntlets Anthony offered him. The metal Anthony had used was cool to the touch and rough, not quite ready to be painted.

'I want to move all this stuff to your Hideout,' Tony said.

' Our Hideout,' Loki corrected.

Anthony rolled his eyes. 'Yeah, yeah; whatever. I've just gotta bring some bots to help fit everything together.'

'I could do it with magic,' Loki offered, making Anthony raise his eyebrows. 'We have to figure out how to make your suit magic proof.'

'Yeah...' Anthony hummed, head tilted as he looked Loki over. 'If I explain how the suit fits together, you could put it together properly?'

'Yes,' Loki said.

'Okay,' Tony nodded, 'we'll do that, then. It'll save time. I still have to bring some more hardware over; work out the bugs in the Genesis suit's programming and all that.'

Loki just nodded and handed the gauntlet back, watching as Anthony put it back into its correct box. 'How many new suits have you created?' he asked while Anthony sealed the box. 'Or, rather, how many are you going to build?'

'Seven,' Anthony told him. 'Two that can only be operated by me, or by JARVIS if I'm knocked out during a fight, and five that are strictly JARVIS-operated suits. Those will look a bit different to my two, and hopefully SHIELD and the Avengers will think that I'm your special body-guard suit while the others are just general back-up.

'I've already got a self-destruct programme written that just has to be inserted into the JARVIS-bots after I've built them and put them together,' Tony continued as he left the small, hidden workshop, Loki trailing after him.

'Self-destruct?' Loki questioned.

'Yeah, in case the Avengers- or Thor, more likely- manages to take one out and JARVIS can't get it back to our Hideout. JARVIS will be able to turn the self-destruct programme on if the power goes out, meaning that if the casing is cracked by any of SHIELD's scientists, it'll blow up; massive boom that'll hopefully take 'em all out,' Tony added with a snicker.

Loki smirked slowly and sat at one of the tables, folding his legs while Tony started fiddling with his computers. 'The darker parts of you are rather arousing,' he said.

Anthony jumped but turned to face him with a cocky grin. 'Oh, are they?' he drawled.

'Very,' Loki grinned. 'If I'd known that you were like this back when I invaded, I would have approached you sooner.'

'Hey, I approached you ,' Tony waggled a finger at him. 'Don't forget that, princess.'

Loki rolled his eyes at the nickname.

'Anyway, it's probably better that we didn't join forces 'til now,' Tony continued. 'If we'd joined before, SHIELD would have been better prepared for an attack, what with them rushing about trying to stop your invasion and all. This way they're more reliant on the Avengers, aka me. By the time they figure out that I'm on your side- if they figure it out- it'll be too late. They might not like me, but they do trust me. They think I'm too narcissistic to work with anyone else.'

A smile tugged at Loki's lips as he looked Anthony over. Yes, he really should have joined forces with the human sooner; they could have started having fun much earlier. But Anthony was right, he supposed; this way, Tony was closer with the Avengers, giving him insider access that he wouldn't have had any earlier. Also, like he'd said; SHIELD might not like him, but they did trust him to a certain extent.

And that, in the end, would bring about their downfall.

Chapter Text

<< INCOMING CALL, STARK TOWER >

REROUTING > POTTS, VIRGINIA, FLOOR 61, OFFICE 1 >

ORDER 15-16-X-RAY IN EFFECT > TRACING CALL >

TRACE BLOCKED > RETRACING CALL >

LOCATION IDENTIFIED: BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT > ADDRESS BLOCKED >

IDENTIFYING CALLER >

CALLER IDENTIFIED: COULSON, PHILLIP, STRATEGIC HOMELAND INTERVENTION, ENFORCEMENT AND LOGISTICS DIVISION [S.H.I.E.L.D] AGENT >

ORDER 77-6-WHISKEY-4 IN EFFECT > NOW RECORDING TELEPHONE CALL >

TRACE BLOCKED > RETRACING CALL >

NOW RECORDING TELEPHONE CALL >

TELEPHONE CALL 5 MINUTES, 44 SECONDS >

ERASING TRACE > TRACE ERASED >

ORDER 77-6-WHISKEY-5 IN EFFECT > SAVING TELEPHONE CALL TO SERVER 1.66-TANGO-SIERRA, PERSONAL SERVER OF STARK, ANTHONY EDWARD >

ACCESSING SERVER 1.66-TANGO-SIERRA

ENTER FIRST PASSWORD > PASSWORD ENTERED >

ENTER SECOND PASSWORD > PASSWORD ENTERED >

ENTER THIRD PASSWORD > PASSWORD ENTERED >

ENTER FOURTH PASSWORD > PASSWORD ENTERED >

IDENTIFYING USER > JUST A RATHER VERY INTELLIGENT SYSTEM [J.A.R.V.I.S] IDENTIFIED >

ACCESS GRANTED > TELEPHONE CALL SAVED TO SERVER 1.66-TANGO-SIERRA >

ORDER 77-6-WHISKEY-6 IN EFFECT > ALERTING STARK, ANTHONY EDWARD OF TELEPHONE CALL SAVED TO SERVER 1.66-TANGO-SIERRA >

STARK, ANTHONY EDWARD ALERTED >>



'Mr Stark.'

Tony shook his head rapidly, confused by the sudden loss of music. He was working on his Genesis suits, doing everything he could in his workshop before he moved the suits to Loki's- their- Hideout. Loki was out of the Tower under the guise of research, but was probably terrorising poor humanoids somewhere, and the Avengers were in various places that Tony didn't care about.

That just left Tony, blissfully alone, tinkering and wiring and looking up paint samples. He knew that he wanted the Genesis suits to be green and silver, but he hadn't decided on the exact shade of green yet. What colour were Loki's eyes, exactly...?

'Mr Stark.'

'Sorry,' Tony sighed and reached up to rub his eyes. He wasn't sure how long he'd been down here, this time. 'What is it, J?'

'Agent Coulson contacted Ms Potts four minutes ago. I recorded the conversation and saved it to your private server.'

'Good boy, JARVIS,' Tony grinned. He put his tools aside and pushed his seat across the workshop, spinning and rolling until he reached one of his computers. He dragged the older style keyboard towards himself and tapped away until he'd opened his personal server, something that only he and JARVIS had access to.

And even then it was drenched in security, passwords, viruses, and anything else Tony could think of to keep his things private. SHIELD and other want-to-be-hackers had never even come close to getting to his personal server. He had about a dozen decoy ones, and SHIELD had almost managed to crack the third one. Tony couldn't wait until they downloaded hundreds of gigabytes of cake recipes.

After entering a fair few passwords and identifying himself, Tony pulled up the record JARVIS had saved. 'What the hell is Coulson doing in Bridgeport?' Tony muttered.

'I believe that there may be a SHIELD base in Bridgeport, sir,' JARVIS answered.

'Huh,' Tony murmured. He flicked through the report before finding the saved file at the end. He double-clicked and the file opened into the correct programme, awaiting instruction before playing. When Tony clicked again, he settled back into his seat to listen;

'You've reached Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries, how can I help you today?'

'Pepper, it's Agent Coulson.'

'Oh, Phil, hi. How are you?'

'I'm fine. I thought JARVIS always told you who was calling?'

'He usually does, but sometimes Tony's rerouted him to do... whatever it is Tony does when he's not blowing stuff up.'

Tony rolled his eyes.

'An assistant, then?'

'I had one, but Tony hit on her and scared her away. Well, he slept with her and then she moved on. Apparently sleeping with Tony was all she wanted to do. I haven't bothered getting a new assistant yet. I'm more concerned with getting Tony one.'

'Problems?'

'You know Tony; he's slept with every assistant I've ever hired for him, including the male ones. I don't know why the media's so surprised about this Logan person.'

'We've heard about him. And seen the news, of course.'

'And?'

'The traces turned up clean, we have nothing to worry about.'

Tony frowned. Was Pepper aware that SHIELD were watching his every move? Did she know that the Avengers were reporting back to Coulson and Fury? If she did...

'You should be able to find him an assistant this time around,' Coulson continued after a brief silence. 'According to Agent Romanov, Stark's pretty hung up on Mr Thomas.'

'Well, we'll see how long it lasts. I just want Tony to find someone who wants him for more than his money.'

'And someone to keep him out of trouble.'

'That, too. But he hasn't been any trouble lately, has he?' Pepper asked, sounding worried. 'I saw the news reports about Loki's recent attack, but JARVIS assured me that everybody's okay, Tony included.'

'Agent Romanov was the only one who was really hurt, but she's recovering well,' Coulson said.

Pepper breathed out a sigh that was audible over the phone. 'Thank God. Last time you called it was because Tony had gotten some innocent woman's arm broken.'

'No, there's been none of that lately. I think Logan Thomas has been keeping Stark busy. But we're not sure how long that'll last.'

'What do you mean?'

'You know Stark, Pepper. Sooner or later he'll want to study whoever the Avengers are fighting and he'll put somebody in danger; either one of his team mates, or an innocent bystander. The World Security Council can't afford to have somebody like that on the team.'

'You've mentioned that before. But the team is Fury's call, isn't? I mean, he has final say?'

'Technically, yes,' Coulson said, 'and Director Fury takes advice from me, Agent Romanov, Agent Barton, and Agent Hill. But at the end of the day we report to the World Security Council. If they want Stark off the team, then he'll be booted.'

Tony sat forward, resting his hands on the table, fingers tapping out a random rhythm. So it wasn't really Fury who wanted Tony off the team; it was his bosses. Tony doubted that Fury, Coulson, or the Avengers had really put up much of a fight when they'd been given their various orders. The team had never truly liked him, and neither had Fury or Coulson. Hell, Fury hadn't even wanted him on the team; Tony had been needed in a time of crises.

Still, this just meant that Tony would definitely destroy the WSC after he and Loki had taken care of SHIELD. What research Tony had managed to compile had hinted at the WSC having friends in high places, and many, many resources, but it was still an organisation with less than twelve members. Hopefully it wouldn't take long to kill them all.

Tony had to rewind the recording when he realised that Coulson and Pepper had continued without him, and replayed Coulson's last sentence before continuing.

'So you definitely want Tony off the team,' Pepper said.

'Yes,' Coulson agreed. 'He's a great asset, Pepper, but he's too dangerous and you know it. Sooner or later he'll do something that'll get himself or somebody killed. It'd be better- safer- if we get him off the team now.'

'Tony won't like it,' Pepper said after a beat, 'he loves being on the Avengers.'

'Stark's feelings don't matter; we're talking about the greater good.'

'Okay, okay, I understand. But how are you going to convince Tony? He'll tell you piss off.'

'Swearing, Ms Potts?'

'Shut up, it's been a long day already.'

Coulson chuckled, and Tony gritted his teeth at the friendliness between his so-called friend and the SHIELD agent. He wondered how long they'd been talking behind his back; how long Pepper had been conspiring against him. JARVIS monitored everything, but he didn't record all of Pepper's calls and actions. She could have met with Coulson or Fury in person and Tony would never know.

'We've got Captain Rogers asking Tony to leave, or at least take a break. We're hoping that if Stark has a holiday, just steps back from the team a bit, he can come back saner than before. The rest of the team can handle things without him.'

Pepper was silent, until; 'You want me to convince Tony to take a break.'

'Yes.'

'Phil...'

'He trusts you, Pepper, you're his best friend.'

'I'm not sure about that. Not any more.'

'He still trusts you,' Coulson said. 'If you suggest him taking a holiday he'll listen; just... tell him to get out of the country for a bit and you'll mind everything.'

'JARVIS could be recording this, you do realise that, right? He doesn't listen in on my conversations, but Tony usually has certain phrases and words marked.'

'SHIELD has the call blocked; if JARVIS tries to trace it he'll be booted out.'

'Are you sure?'

'SHIELD knows what it's doing, Pepper.'

'This is Tony Stark we're talking about,' Pepper pointed out.

'Stark is good at what he does, true, but we have dozens of scientists working for us, Pepper. Don't worry about it.'

Pepper sighed. 'Okay, fine. I'll ask Tony to take a break from the Avengers. But only because I don't want him hurting himself or his team mates. Sometimes he gets so far into his own head that he doesn't realise that his actions have consequence.'

'Thank you, Pepper.'

'Yes, well let's just hope that Tony doesn't hate me for the suggestion.'

Coulson laughed. 'He could never hate you, Pepper.'

'Mm-hmm.'

'I'll let you go, I have work to finish.'

'Me, too. I'll see you for lunch soon, Phil. Just let me know when you're free.'

'We'll talk soon.'

Tony was seething. He wasn't sure he'd ever felt this fucking furious... no, wait, he had; when he'd discovered that Stane had ordered his assassination, then had ignored the video for his ransom. Yeah, Tony remembered feeling this angry and betrayed and downright murderous before.

Pepper was on SHIELD's side. Okay, she was on Coulson's side, but it was the same fucking thing. Coulson had spouted the various reasons Fury and Steve had used to get Tony to “take a break”. It was all just bullshit designed to get Tony off the team and get his technology, his suits. If Tony took a break, the Avengers would come up with new reasons again and again to get him to stay on break.

'JARVIS, pull up my schedule!' Tony ordered, voice little more than a growl.

'Yes, Mr Stark.' JARVIS complied, and soon Tony's calendar- created and kept up-to-date by Pepper- was on-screen.

Tony looked it over before saying, 'Cancel anything that I'm not one-hundred percent needed at, JARVIS.' The AI did, and a large chunk was wiped out, only three spots of red left; a meeting with the executive board members of Stark Industries in a week, followed by two weeks blocked out for a trip to England and more meetings. 'Finishing the Genesis suits just became Priority One, JARVIS,' Tony said, exiting his calendar and logging-out of his private server. 'I want SHIELD fucking destroyed in less than a year. Is Loki on Midgard?'

There was a pause, before; 'Not that I can find a trace of, sir.'

'When he gets back, tell me immediately,' Tony said.

'Yes, Mr Stark.'

'Pull up all the information you've gathered about SHIELD's bases,' Tony ordered, glaring at the screen in front of himself. 'As soon as the Genesis suits are ready, Loki and I are fucking destroying one.'



{oOo}



'Are you calm now?' Loki asked.

Tony groaned and buried his face in Loki's neck. 'You broke me.'

Loki smirked. He'd returned to Midgard only hours earlier from Vanaheimr, where he'd visited an old acquaintance to gather some ingredients for a few potions he wanted to work on. He'd gotten a cab to Tony's Tower, smiled at Barton when he ran into the agent in the elevator- and had to stop himself from simply breaking the useless human's neck- and then been told by JARVIS that Tony had holed himself up in his workshop for the past three days.

Loki had walked in to find Anthony exhausted from too much work and a lack of sleep, and had been worried until Anthony told him why; Pepper Potts, Tony's “friend”, had joined forces with Coulson. Anthony doubted that she truly knew what SHIELD was up to, but she'd still agreed with Coulson to get Anthony off the team.

Loki understood the betrayal, the deep-rooted hurt, that Tony was currently feeling. Being betrayed by a friend, by somebody who was supposed to always be on your side, was a hurt that never went away or got easier to deal with. Anthony had shared his plans to destroy a SHIELD base as soon as possible, and Loki had gone along with it for a number of reasons.

Anthony needed to take out his anger on something; why not take it out on SHIELD? It was better to deal with this pain and move on than let it fester; Loki knew from experience. Also, working on his suits, and on their plans, would give Tony something to focus on; the last thing either of them needed was Tony going crazy and trying to kill his friend.

Loki hummed under his breath and glanced down at Tony. The Midgardian was currently sprawled over his chest, looking thoroughly fucked. After watching Anthony race around his workshop and crash into about fourteen different things, Loki had dragged him upstairs, into Anthony's bedroom, and had proceeded to ravish him multiple times, thoroughly. Now, finally, Anthony was quiet, relaxed, eyes closed and breathing steady.

'I still wanna kill Pepper,' Tony muttered. 'I can't believe she'd do this to me.'

Loki had listened to the conversation between Potts and Coulson that JARVIS had recorded. 'It seems that she isn't aware of SHIELD's true plans.'

'Yeah, and that's why I won't kill her,' Tony said. 'She thinks she's helping me. That still doesn't make it okay; friends don't go behind each other's backs and plan with fucking a-hole agents.'

'What will you do with her, when we destroy SHIELD?' Loki asked. It was something he had thought about in the past; he knew that Anthony had dated Potts briefly, and they had been friends for years. There was some old feelings still there, no doubt.

'That's her decision,' Tony shrugged. 'If she actively sides with SHIELD, I'll ignore her and only kill her if necessary. I won't like it, and it'll hurt, but I'll do it. Nobody gets away with betraying me. If she decides to stay on my side, then she stays.'

'I doubt that Miss Potts will agree with you killing innocent people for our cause.'

'Yeah,' Anthony sighed, 'I don't think she'll like it, either. But we'll see what happens.'

'Very well,' Loki said. He rubbed a hand up Anthony's back, smiling slightly when the younger god relaxed further into the mattress. 'When are we going to England?'

'A few days,' Anthony mumbled through a yawn. 'Pepper's coming.'

'Try not to tear her throat out.'

'No promises,' Tony muttered.

Loki smiled and patted the man's back. 'Sleep, Anthony. We will plan more tomorrow, when you're rested.'

'Mm,' Tony hummed. 'We should have waffles for breakfast,' he said before snoring loudly.

Loki chuckled and glanced up at the ceiling. 'JARVIS, do Midgardians deliver... waffles?'

'Yes, sir,' the AI said. 'Would you like me to order them when Mr Stark wakes?'

'Order them around eight am,' Loki said. 'Anthony and I will need the entire day to plan our trip to England.'

'Yes, Mr Lie-smith,' JARVIS replied.

With that sorted, Loki shifted a bit on the bed before letting his own eyes droop, sleep claiming him swiftly.



{oOo}



It didn't take as long as Loki thought it would to plan their trip to England; only half the day, with the rest spent in bed. Well, they spent some of their time in bed. Mostly they pushed each other against various bits of furniture throughout Tony's penthouse and used their mouths and hands to send each other crazy.

Anthony had a few responsibilities when they reached England that he simply couldn't put off; meetings with the men and women who would run the extended English branch of Stark Industries, meetings with the local media to further promote his business, and appearances at the construction site. The various meetings spanned the entire fortnight that Anthony was going to be in England, but there were a few days that he was free.

Tony had mentioned that he'd probably have to put some public appearances in, because no doubt SHIELD would be keeping an eye on him, but when Anthony could get away, all Loki had to do was teleport them from the hotel room to their Hideout, and they could work in secret for longer stretches of time than they could now.

It was a given that Loki was going with Tony, but Rogers apparently hadn't gotten that... memo, Loki believed the saying was. He and Anthony had needed sustenance after their first round against the large windows that overlooked New York, and so once again ventured down to Rogers' floor to see what they could steal. Loki made a note to put a regular order in with JARVIS; at least that way he wouldn't have to see Rogers or the other Avengers every time he wanted to eat after fucking Anthony.

Rogers was there, of course, sitting in his living space drawing in a large book with a pencil. Barton was sitting in the corner on a large, oil-stained blanket, cleaning his quiver, bow and arrows, and Romanov was on the lounge near Rogers, her arm in a cast and the bruises on her face still healing.

Loki had to bite back a smirk when all three looked at him and Anthony; Romanov looked rather fetching covered in various shades of brown, purple, green and yellow. One day, and soon, Loki would make sure to give Barton a matching set.

'Tony,' Rogers said, a small smile on his face.

'Hey all!' Tony called. 'So, uh, me and Logan ate everything in the penthouse, and we're here to steal your food.'

'Technically it's your food, Tony,' Rogers said. 'You pay for it, after all.'

'Some of it,' Tony corrected. 'SHIELD gives you a salary, don't they?'

Rogers just nodded and went back to his book, leaving Tony and Loki free to head into the kitchen.

Thor was nowhere in sight, so Loki used a very small amount of Jötunn magic to check for any listening devices in Rogers' kitchen. He was getting better at forgoing his Asgardian magic in favour of his Jötunn magic, but it was still somewhat difficult, pushing past the magic he was more familiar with in favour of something darker and colder.

He only found JARVIS' various sensors dotted around the room, so felt safe asking, 'You pay for all their things?'

'Yeah,' Anthony sighed from where he was already rooting through the refrigerator. 'They kinda invited themselves to live here, remember?' he said, voice pitched low to avoid alerting the Avengers. 'They just started putting orders through JARVIS and not paying me back, and eventually I just kinda... let them do it. Besides, it makes it look like I want them here, which makes them less likely to suspect me of being up to anything.'

'Hmm,' Loki hummed. He remembered the telephone call between Coulson and Potts; Potts had truly believed that Anthony enjoyed being part of the team- Loki could always detect lies, and Potts hadn't been telling one. 'Clever,' Loki eventually said.

Tony chuckled and pulled back, arms loaded with various products. He dumped it all on the kitchen island and started going through it. He and Loki bickered good-naturedly about what they wanted to take with them, and they'd just divided everything up when Rogers and Barton stepped into the kitchen.

'Could you grab the milk?' Rogers asked Loki, that same almost-there smile he usually wore around “Logan” tugging at his lips.

'What for?' Tony asked as Loki ducked down to get it... milk was the one stored in the cardboard container, right? Loki quickly read the label and smiled in satisfaction.

'Hot cocoa,' Rogers said. 'It always made me feel better when I was a kid, and I thought it might cheer Natasha up.'

Barton snorted. 'Breaking Loki's arm would make Nat feel better.'

'It'd make us all feel better,' Tony said.

Loki leaned against the counter as Anthony hunted around for something to carry their food back to the penthouse in- he also started going through the cupboards, pulling down packets of what Loki knew were chips and popcorn. Rogers went about making whatever “hot cocoa” was, and Barton watched, apparently just there for moral support, or something equally dull.

Loki hadn't realised that he was staring at Barton, tapping his lips slightly, until Barton looked at him. The agent frowned, clearly confused, and then Loki watched as his eyes went dull, the blue deepening slightly before being washed away.

Loki cursed silently in Old Norse before glancing about. Stark's attention was still on the chips he was trying to shove into a bag, and Rogers was staring at the electric kettle that was currently boiling water. Loki turned back to Barton to see the short human's left hand twitching, no doubt trying to go for a quiver that wasn't there.

Teeth gritted, Loki narrowed his eyes and subtly held a hand up against his hip, palm facing Barton. He thought the words needed and pushed with his Jötunn magic, hoping that it was too little for Thor to sense; or, he hoped that Thor was unable to detect Loki's Jötunn magic. It wasn't like Loki had used it all that often around the blonde idiot.

Magic tingled along Loki's fingertips and he watched Barton jolt slightly, both hands twitching before, finally, the connection was cut off and Barton came back to himself. Loki glanced off to the right, appearing fascinated with the far window, and watched from the corner of his eye as Barton reached up to rub his temples roughly.

'What's wrong?' Rogers' voice came from before Loki, and Loki tuned back in.

'Nothing,' Barton grunted. 'Just got a... migraine, I think.'

'Should stop hooting at so many people, Tweety Bird,' Anthony commented. That earned him a scowl from Barton and a slightly disappointed look from Rogers.

'Go sit with Natasha,' Rogers suggested, 'I'll get you some asprin.'

Barton just nodded and left, Loki watching him go. There was silence once more, apart from Stark's various curses as he had to grab more bags, of course.

'So, Tony,' Rogers said after a brief silence, 'Pepper said you're going to England soon.'

Anthony raised his eyebrows and Loki thought he was going to make a comment about Potts and Rogers speaking about him behind his back. Instead he said, 'Yeah, heading there in about a week. Logan can't wait to see me being a tourist.'

Rogers' eyebrows climbed and he turned to Loki. 'You're going with him?'

'Yes,' Loki said.

'Of course he is,' Tony added, 'he was born there. And I mentioned it a while ago, remember?'

'Yes...' Rogers said slowly, 'I just hadn't realised you were serious. Isn't this a business trip?'

'Duh,' Anthony rolled his eyes. 'But I still get to have some fun. Between meetings Logan's gonna show me around.'

'I see,' Rogers said. He looked mildly confused, and Loki wondered if he- and the other Avengers- still thought that his and Anthony's relationship had an expiration date. He could see their reasoning, of course; Anthony wasn't well-known for his committed relationship. Still, they were supposed to be his friends; the least they could do was act like it.

'You'll have the whole Tower to yourself for two weeks,' Anthony added. Rogers just nodded. Loki knew that Anthony had set up countless security measurements to keep Barton and Romanov out of his things, including the workshop and JARVIS'... servers, Loki believed Anthony had called them. Loki himself had already added a few wards with his Jötunn magic. He only hoped that Thor couldn't detect them.

'Well, I hope you have fun,' Rogers said. 'Just take it easy. It'll be good for you.'

'Yeah,' was all Anthony said, but Loki saw the sudden tension in his shoulders. Thankfully Rogers chose that moment to leave with three cups of liquid, and Anthony breathed out a sigh of relief. 'God he's an asshole.'

'Indeed,' Loki agreed.

Anthony turned to him, smiling. 'I can't wait 'til we- holy shit!'

Loki quickly looked up at him. 'What?'

Anthony jumped across the kitchen and wrenched one of Loki's hand up, looking down. Loki followed the Midgardian's gaze and his own eyes widened when he realised that the tips of his fingers were blue. 'Oh.'

Chapter Text

'What happened?' Anthony asked.

'Not here,' Loki replied and withdrew his hand. He shoved it into the pocket of his jeans and said, 'Do you have everything?'

Anthony stared at him, brown eyes filled with concern, and Loki's magic- Asgardian and Jötunn- sang beneath his skin. Loki broke their gaze, and he heard Anthony huff.

'Yeah... you not gonna help?'

'I suppose I shall,' Loki drawled.

Anthony snorted, but didn't say anything else as he and Loki collected the bags of food. Anthony waved half-heartedly at Rogers, Barton and Romanov as they left, and Loki risked a quick glance at the bird; Barton was still rubbing his head, looking both frustrated and confused, but Rogers and Romanov didn't seem tense, so Loki relaxed slightly. The ride up to Anthony's penthouse was silent, but it didn't last long; as soon as they were inside, the elevator doors shut behind them, Anthony rounded on Loki.

'Okay, spit it out.'

Loki sighed and headed for the kitchen, Tony following. 'There is a... slight problem, between Barton and me,' he admitted.

'What?' Tony said, looking confused.

'You know that I was in his head during the invasion,' Loki said. He dumped the bags on the kitchen island, Tony following suit.

'Yeah...' Tony said slowly, drawing the word out. He folded his arms across his chest. 'So what?'

'That connection was severed when Romanov hit Barton,' Loki said. 'It knocked the Tesseract's hold free.'

'I know,' Tony said, 'I studied the Tesseract and your sceptre and all that crap after you were carted off back to Asgard. It was why I thought that you might have been controlled, too, because the sceptre messed with Bruce and all he did was hold it.'

Loki just blinked slowly at him and Tony waved a hand.

'Never mind, I'll show you my research later; continue.'

'Even though the connection has been severed, the... opening, you could call it, is still there,' Loki explained. 'Whatever the Tesseract creates- whether it's a pathway from Asgard to Midgard, or a connection between one mind and another- remains for a dozen or so years and only fades after some time has passed.'

Anthony was frowning, brown eyes narrowed slightly. 'So... even though the sceptre is no longer connecting yours and Barton's minds together and to the Tesseract, the... port is basically still there,' he mused. 'It's like building a tunnel; you knock the middle out, but the two holes leading through the mountain are still there.'

'I... yes,' Loki said. Stark's words were crude, but basically correct.

'Okay,' Tony said, 'I get that. But what's that got to do with your fingers being blue?'

Loki raised both hands to look, and sighed in relief when he saw that his fingers were pale once more. 'I had to use Jötunn magic to stop Barton from reconnecting our minds.'

Stark's frown deepened. 'Excuse me?'

'Whenever he's around me, he feels a pull towards me, as I do towards him,' Loki said. 'However, I have better control of my mind, and my magic helps me ignore the pull. Barton may be talented, but he's Midgardian; useless against magical influence. Sometimes when he's around me, my magic and his mind try to reconnect us. It makes Barton lose chunks of time because either I wipe the memory away, or the pull of us connecting leaves him disorientated.'

'Huh,' Anthony blinked. 'Wait, didn't this happen before? Back when you first met the Avengers as Logan Thomas. Barton went all weird and you... did something.'

'I did,' Loki said. 'The first sign of something happening to Barton is his eyes glazing over, like when he was under the influences of the Tesseract. I simply use my Jötunn magic to sever the connection and he goes back to normal.'

'Only with a migraine,' Anthony commented.

Loki shrugged. 'As I said, Barton's Midgardian; his mind isn't capable of fighting something like the Tesseract.'

'That's... really, really interesting,' Anthony said. There was a gleam in his eyes, a spark that, if nurtured correctly, would turn into something... incredible. Loki saw it whenever he and Anthony spoke about their plans, or when Anthony explained his new suits to Loki.

'What are you thinking?' Loki asked.

Anthony smirked at him. 'This connection with Barton... can we use it against him? And the Avengers?'

Loki tilted his head as he thought. 'We could,' he said after a beat. 'The connection, or rather, lack-of-connection, makes Barton vulnerable to me. I can easily ignore it and ensure that we're never connected again, but he can't.'

'And whenever he tries to reconnect, he loses time, gets a headache, and basically zones out,' Tony said. 'We could totally use that during our fights, Loki! Barton's always their backup because of how good he is with his bow; all you have to do is teleport to him and fuck him up a bit. That'd cut their backup in half, because Barton's worth a dozen SHIELD agents.'

'And I could use it later, after we've destroyed SHIELD and you've revealed your true intentions,' Loki said. 'Well, that's if Barton lives that long.'

Tony laughed and clapped his hands together. His mood was infectious and Loki found himself smiling. 'This is awesome,' Anthony declared. 'We can even turn Barton against the Avengers!' He paused to look at Loki. 'Can you magically influence him again? Even without the Tesseract and sceptre?'

'I could,' Loki nodded, 'however, I would prefer not to; my magic despises entering anybody's mind.'

Anybody but Anthony's , Loki thought with a silent sigh.

'Oh,' Tony pouted, but he quickly moved on. 'No matter, we can still use it against him. I can't wait!' He cheered again before he started unpacking the food they'd taken from Rogers. Loki leaned against the kitchen island and watched.

When Stark ordered JARVIS to play some music, and then started singing along, Loki chuckled. His magic was starting to hum again, and Loki could almost feel Anthony's magic reacting. But Stark was still too young, too inexperienced, his magic not used to being free.

Soon, Loki thought. He would have to tell Anthony about their bond soon. Because sooner rather than later, Anthony's magic would reach out. And there was nothing Loki could truly do to stop it.

Not that he wanted to.



{oOo}



England was nice, though Anthony immediately started complaining about the weather. Potts ignored him, and Loki took delight in watching Anthony scowl at her every time the woman's back was turned. It wasn't that Loki enjoyed the fact that Anthony had been betrayed yet again... he just enjoyed this vicious streak that Anthony portrayed every so often.

Anthony owned his own aeroplane- a private jet, he and Potts called it- so they were able to bypass the masses, fly in comfort, and disembark into security and then a car Potts had hired.

Potts went over Anthony's schedule, and Anthony drew up his own on a StarkPad as the woman talked. Loki watched, his body turned into Tony's, as the Midgardian added things like “Personal Time” and “Personal Time #2” into the slots when he had no obligations. Loki wondered what the difference was, but decided to ask Anthony when they were alone.

Loki had made sure to research England and the area that Logan Thomas had been born thoroughly before arriving, just in case anybody asked. It would do no good to be asked a simple question and not have the answer. Soon enough they arrived at the hotel they would be staying at, and Potts left them to their own devices. Anthony's meetings didn't start until the following morning, but she had her own to attend.

'Pretty nice, I suppose,' Tony mused when they reached their room. It was a large space, set out much like Anthony's penthouse back in New York, but without the spectacular views and warmth of a home.

Loki frowned slightly as he watched Anthony wander around the room, peering out windows and inspecting the television. He wondered when Stark's penthouse had become home... and how much longer it would be. He and Tony had agreed to continue their partnership even after SHIELD and the World Security Council had been taken care of... would that include Loki staying in the Tower?

'Hey, what's got you thinkin' so hard?' Anthony's voice drew him from his thoughts.

Loki smirked lightly and turned his gaze on the Midgardian. 'I was just imagining what I could do to you here, in this space, all alone...'

Tony returned his smirk, though his was more of a wide, lecherous grin. 'You can do whatever you want to me, Lo-Lo.'

Loki rolled his eyes and sat on one of the armchairs in the spacious living room. 'Let us go over your schedule.'

'God,' Tony sighed, 'you and Pepper are all about schedules, aren't you?'

Loki scowled at the comparison to that mortal, but let it slide when Tony hopped onto the couch to the corner of him and grabbed his StarkPad from where he'd dumped it atop his suitcase.

'Righty-o,' Tony said. He started scrolling, fingers working quickly over the device in a way that Loki hadn't quite accomplished himself yet. Soon he had his schedule pulled up, and Loki once more saw the days over the coming fortnight blocked out in either red, green or purple. 'So, red is meetings, events and crap I can't get out of,' Tony explained, 'green is actual time that we should probably spend sight-seeing and in the hotel, just in case someone checks and notices that we're gone every other hour. Purple is time we can spend in the Hideout practising magic and such.'

'I see,' Loki mused as he looked it over. 'You have our time sufficiently sorted, then.'

'Yup,' Anthony said, making the last letter pop.

Loki tapped his finger against the screen, scrolling through the current day and into the next. 'It seems we have free time until nine am tomorrow.'

'Well, I have free time until nine,' Tony corrected. 'I've got three meetings tomorrow from nine 'til two, then an hour break, followed by another meeting. I'll be free from six pm 'til six am the following morning.'

'And you've blocked that out in purple- magic,' Loki said.

Tony nodded. 'Pepper won't expect me to go anywhere after an entire day of meetings, not with you here. She'll think we'll be in here all night fucking and ordering room service. We should probably teleport back quickly to actually do that.'

'Hmm,' Loki hummed and tried to work out just how far they currently were from the Hideout. Loki could teleport them the distance, but four times in quick succession would put a strain on him and his magic. 'If we returned we would have to stay for two or so hours for me to recover from teleporting so often.'

'Fair enough,' Tony nodded. 'We just gotta be back about an hour before my meetings start the following day, so... seven am or so? That'll give me time to rest and be a bit presentable for whoever I'm meeting with.'

'Very well,' Loki said. 'Tonight; are we going to the Hideout?'

'Hell, yeah,' Tony growled. 'I've gotta finish my suit.'

He had been working on his Genesis designs, both his own and the JARVIS-operated ones, since Potts' telephone call with Coulson. Anthony had thrown himself into his work a fervour that Loki suspected would be manic on anyone else. However, Anthony was able to channel his entire focus into one project, and Loki got to watch as the bits of suit- the gauntlets, the wires, the armour- were slowly but surely moulded and shaped into a functioning suit. Anthony still had a lot of work to do, but he would be finished soon.

'We gotta make it magic-proof,' Tony added after a moment of silence, 'which means I gotta fucking work out magic.'

Loki could always just ward Anthony's suit, but that would limit Anthony's ability to use magic himself. If Anthony's magic couldn't break through Loki's wards it would try harder, harder , again and again until Anthony's raw magic was exposed. And that would, of course, make Anthony's suit unusable.

'It seems that you really do have to figure out how to trace and study magic,' Loki mused.

Tony smirked at him. 'Told ya it was important.'

Loki rolled his eyes. 'Very well, we shall spend tonight with you scanning me and whatever else you need to do. Perhaps if I look into it, too, we can figure this out sooner.'

'Well it's about damn time you pulled your weight,' Tony muttered. Loki stretched out to kick the genius, who yelped and scowled. Loki just grinned toothily. 'Whatever,' Tony rolled his eyes, 'how about we order some room service, then put up a “do not disturb” sign, and have JARVIS watch over things while we head out?'

'Very well,' Loki said.

Anthony nodded in satisfaction and stood to do just that, apparently having already decided what they would be eating.

No matter, Loki thought. He just wanted to eat and teleport to their Hideout to recommence working. There was something oddly thrilling about studying magic Anthony's way. Loki was one of the best authorities on magic in the Nine Realms, but he knew without a doubt that nobody had ever studied it the way Anthony was. It could only prove useful and add to Loki's already extensive knowledge

Loki smiled as Anthony stood in the corner of the room, a telephone pressed to his ear as he made an order. If they figured out how to detect magic Anthony's way soon, then they could move onto Anthony learning how to use his own magic. And then they could start destroying SHIELD's bases.

Loki really couldn't wait. The destruction would be beautiful .



{oOo}



Tony already had various magic sensors designed and built, so he started going over the information he'd written down about their innards, how they worked, and the readings he'd already taken from Loki. He tinkered with one in particular, a large, square box sensor that was made from various components of a computer tower, a television, and various other odds and ends. It had a large screen mounted on one side that displayed information, and a single chord connected it to the computers Tony had set up in the Hideout; the computers projected the same information and then broke it down, ran it against other stuff and through JARVIS, so that everything was scrutinised, studied, and filed away for later review.

A lot of readings had already been taken, reviewed and stored, but every time Tony finished fiddling with the sensor he re-scanned Loki. It was boring work for Loki, but he did it without complaint, shifting between his Æsir and Jötunn forms, creating balls of magic, ice, wind, manipulating fire from the lighter Tony handed him. He shimmered in and out of existence, created clones and then made them disappear with a twist of his wrist. Smoke surrounded him and sucked him in, hiding him in shadows, only to disappear as Loki stepped out and into the clear light of the many floating balls of colour that hovered overhead.

Tony got many, many scans; many clear scans, he was sure of it! But everything was muddled with all the other readings that the scanner picked up. Tony scowled as he tapped at another reading, various coloured lines representing the different energies that the scanner had sampled.

Loki was glancing over his shoulder, eyes flicking over the screen, but Tony ignored him in favour of comparing the most recent scans to the ones he'd taken the day before.

'What do the lines mean?' Loki asked.

'Energy, readings,' Tony said, 'like, um... the world around us broken down into a base level reading. That's your heart beat, that's my heartbeat, those are the various minerals in the rocks around us...'

He pointed at line after line, then traced his finger to the side, where a column of text was constantly scrolling across the screen.

'I see,' Loki mused, 'are you sure that all of your reading are accounted for?'

Tony frowned. 'What?' He turned to look at Loki, who's eyes were trained on the screen.

'Can you, without a doubt, trace every single reading to its source?' Loki questioned.

'Uh... yes?' Tony said. Of course he could. He was Tony fucking Stark and he knew how to read the information given by the sensor that he fucking built .

'Anthony,' Loki said, patiently, like Tony wasn't about to snap from sheer frustration, 'I have explained to you that magic is in everything, yes?' Tony nodded slowly. 'From the dirt beneath your feet to the trees lining your pavements. Even the buildings around you, the older ones, have magic in them; magic can be beaten down, but it cannot be erased. Slowly it will crawl back into a structure to reclaim what you Midgardians stole.'

'Okay...'

Loki sighed and leaned against the table, shoulder to the sensor, eyes on Tony. 'Anthony,' he said, his tone even slower before.

'I'm gonna fucking deck you, Loki,' Tony growled.

The Trickster smirked, as though daring Tony to try. 'Magic is in everything ,' Loki said slowly, clearly, voice firm. 'If it is in everything, then chances are that you have already picked it up and are simply reading it as something else.'

Tony blinked at him. 'What?'

'Magic is something that you Midgardians are unable to use yet,' Loki said, 'yet some of you can, such as you, and von Doom. I very much doubt that in all the years that you people have been studying the planet around you, you have yet to actually successfully scan magic. I believe that you have, multiple times, but don't actually know what the energy you've picked up is .'

'Loki...'

'Background radiation,' Loki interrupted. 'Explain it to me again.'

Tony rolled his eyes but complied; 'Background radiation is the all-present ionising radiation that we, the people of Midgard, are exposed to every single day we're alive. Both natural and artificial background radiation is different depending on location and altitude. Radioactive material is found in everything throughout nature, like in soul, rocks, water, the air and vegetation. There's internal exposure and external exposure , because basically we eat certain things and our bodies emit certain things, and then our bodies are effected by things like microwaves, pollution, even cigarette smoke.'

Loki listened, completely silent, eyes on Tony as he spoke.

'The term “background radiation” can mean different things when used in different contexts,' Tony said. 'It can simply be used to refer to the cosmic microwave background radiation, a nearly uniform glow that fills the sky in the microwave part of the spectrum- stars, galaxies, and other objects, for example. In a lab or workshop, like this one, “background radiation” refers to the measured value from any source that affects an instrument when the radiation source sample is not being measured. Basically it means establishing a stable value by multiple samples, usually a before and after sample measurement which are then compared to the actual measurement you're studying.'

Loki blinked slowly, absorbing everything when Tony finished speaking. After a beat he said, 'Basically you take samples from the area you're in, and then when you scan me , you compare it to the samples taken before and after to eliminate the background radiation your scanners have picked up.'

'Uh... yeah, basically,' Tony nodded.

' Oh ,' Loki said, his eyes lighting up, a grin overtaking his face. ' Oh. I see , now.'

'Er... you do?' Tony asked.

'Yes,' Loki said. 'What you have to do is scan my raw magic, first Asgardian, then Jötunn. After that I will look through every single reading you have taken. Anthony, the problem is that your before and after samples- your base samples- are still picking up my magic as well as the magic in the soil around us. My magic never turns off , and it lingers even when I'm not actively using it.

'There may be a spike in my magic readings when I actively use a spell, but it seems that your sensor isn't quite refined enough to tell the different,' Loki continued. 'We have to isolate my magic, both forms, and then fine-tune your sensor to read only active spells. Then we can scan for Midgardian magic and should be able to work out the differences between Midgardian magic being actively used, and it simply existing in the world around us.'

Tony had been steadily growing more and more exited the longer Loki spoke until he was practically vibrating. Oh... of fucking course! Thor himself could detect the active magic Loki used, but not the magic Loki left simply by walking around; his senses weren't fine-tuned enough for that. But it didn't mean that Loki didn't leave magic wherever he went!

Magic was in everything, meaning that Tony's sensors were constantly picking it .

BACKGROUND FUCKING RADIATION!

'Loki, I fucking love you!' Tony declared and the kissed the Trickster soundly. Loki made a soft noise of confusion against Tony's lips, and looked slightly dumbfounded when Tony pulled back and whirled on his sensor.

Yes, okay, so Tony had apparently just declared his love for Loki, but there was no time for that! MAGIC!

'Loki, go stand in the corner and use raw magic,' Tony ordered. 'I'll scan it a few times, then compare it to what we already have.'

There was a brief moment of silence, apart from Tony tapping away at various keyboards and monitors and his magic sensor, before Loki said a soft, 'Very well,' and moved to do just that.

We'll discuss my slip later, Tony decided, there's science and magic to be done!

Chapter Text

 

'So I'm gonna use raw magic?' Tony asked, just to be sure.

He felt Loki nod against his back. They'd moved to the bed and Loki had fluffed up the many blankets and pillows before leaning against the wall. Tony was between his legs as usual. Loki had spent a fair few hours the night before showing Tony how to dive into his mindscape, and then how to get out of it. He'd also taught him ways to block it so that Tony wouldn't accidentally fall into his own mind while in public or around other people.

Tony could now feel his magic, all day every day. It was a soft, muted glow, a feeling that was kinda hard to describe. It was just there constantly, a presence on the very edge of Tony's mind, some type of... of feeling that reminded Tony that his magic was there. There was also a sharp, cold kind of feeling present whenever he got closer to his mindscape, which Loki explained- after a quick look himself- was the element from Tony's arc reactor. Yet more background radiation that was making it difficult for Tony to get readings on his own magic.

Anyway, Tony was now vaguely aware of his magic, which was awesome . Loki said that it meant Tony was getting familiar with his magic, more in-touch with it, which would therefore make it easier to wield. Tony had already proven that he could; now he just had to learn how to harness his raw magic so that he could twist it into spells, wards and enchantments. There were differences between those three, apparently.

Tony had found that he always felt his magic better when he was close to Loki; when Loki was in his general vicinity, Tony felt warmer. When they had skin-on-skin contact, Tony's chest felt hot, with a sharp cold snap from his arc reactor. It was like Tony's magic rose to the surface whenever Loki was around, and Loki had explained that it was simply their magic reacting to one another.

Which... okay, it wasn't that Tony necessarily thought that Loki was a lying son of a bitch , but his explanation didn't quite make sense. Why would it be Loki's magic that Tony's reacted to? Why not the very weak magic that Thor had? Or even the magic that no-doubt flowed through the Avengers, simple because they were living beings and part of Midgard? Why didn't Tony feel constantly warm just wandering around the fucking planet?

He hadn't said as much to Loki, just eyed him carefully before getting comfortable. There was something about Loki's explanations that rung hollow, but Tony had decided not to focus on it just yet. If Loki was lying, he probably had a good reason to. And sooner or later Loki would share, or Tony would figure it out.

He always did.

'Yes, you're going to use raw magic,' Loki finally answered Tony's question.

Tony shook his head, ridding himself of all thought, and then sunk back into Loki's cool, firm chest. He was already going through the breathing exercises Loki had taught him.

'Raw magic is dangerous, which is why I will have to be in constant contact with you,' Loki said. 'Above everything, Anthony- and what you must always remember - is to remain calm. Calm is control; remaining calm will make your magic calm. Lose control and you could kill yourself.'

'Mm,' Tony hummed. He'd already sank further in, still aware of his physical body but well on his way to delving deep inside.

'Go,' Loki whispered into his ear and Tony let himself fall quickly. It was a controlled descent, Tony completely aware of everything happening. His body disappeared, Loki's lingering yet soon following. Everything was dark and thoughts swirled across Tony's mind. Tony studied them, then pushed them away, imagining sliding them into large files inside his head.

He then went through his various physical sensations, not wanting his body to ache like it had last time; when Tony wasn't aware of his body, his muscles started to hurt from being locked in one position for too long. Tony made a note to keep an eye on that before going through his emotions, feelings examined and then tucked away.

Finally, Tony's magic swarmed into view. Faster than the last time, and seemingly larger, his magic now spreading throughout his entire body rather than just remaining in his chest. It was like acknowledging his magic had given it free rein, had let it travel and explore and seep into every pour of Tony's body.

Tony grinned at the thought, and then felt a spark of green, then blue, the two colours licking at the back of him; ' Stop grinning, Stark, and focus ,' Loki's smooth, accented voice echoed throughout his head.

Right, Tony thought, sorry .

' It is fine .'

Tony went to laugh, but then stopped himself. Focus, Tony! Don't laugh at gorgeous Norse Gods .

Tony once again examined the emotion, then let it go. He turned his attention to his magic and watched in fascination as Loki's own seemed to... acknowledge it, yet on some level ignore it. Tony could see and feel Loki's magic, both Æsir and Jötunn, in him , but at the same time it remained completely separate. It was a cold feeling, a feeling of wrong , and Tony didn't understand.

But he let the feeling go like Loki had taught him, instead immersing himself in his magic.

Loki had talked him through it before, but it was so very different in practice. Tony felt... whole, when connected with his magic, complete in a way he'd never felt before. Magic tickled along his every sense, wrapped around him like a warm blanket. Tony's fingers tingled with the raw power of what his very body could create and channel, and it took Tony some time to get used to it and then ignore it.

What a fucking power trip.

' Harness your magic, Anthony, ' Loki whispered across his mind. ' Think your magic into your palm; coax it into your chest, down your arm, and let it pool in your hand. '

Tony did as asked, grinning in his mindscape at the way his magic playfully danced throughout him, flowing down his arm only to retreat, repeating the action as though he and Tony were playing a game of tag. There was a distinct edge of chaos to Tony's magic, a tangible taste on Tony's tongue. His magic wanted out; wanted to flow and destroy and exist . But it listened to Tony, let him push it down into his hand.

Tony wasn't sure how long it took, but eventually Loki whispered, ' Slowly pull away from yourself, Anthony; return to the physical, but keep contact with your magic. Keep it where it is .'

Tony breathed in and out smoothly, deeply, doing as asked; the countless times he'd meditated with Loki certainly helped, and Tony took back every bad thing he'd ever said about meditation; it was fucking awesome .

Tony had done this before, but not on this level; he felt more magic than he'd ever used before pool into his physical hand, and by the time he'd come back to himself he felt physically drained like he had the first time. There was a distinct spark, though; power , swirling around Tony's palm.

He saw why when Loki told him to carefully, slowly, open his eyes.

There was a ball of purple magic sitting about a centimetre above Tony's outstretched hand. It was a about the size of a tennis ball and pulsed , but remained where it was, chained to Tony's hand by the genius' strength of will.

'Good,' Loki breathed, and this time Tony heard it physically, felt Loki's breath against his ear. 'I want you to focus entirely on the magic you have in your hand, but you must also keep it connected to the rest of your magic. Raw magic should not be split, not this early on in your training.'

Tony nodded very, very slightly.

'Good,' Loki repeated. 'I want you to picture your magic moving, spreading out around your hand, reaching up and away. Picture it first, do not try it.'

Tony nodded again and closed his eyes as he imagined his magic moving, flowing out of him ever so slowly, growing larger and reaching...

'Open your eyes,' Loki ordered. Tony did. 'Now do it,' Loki said.

Tony took another deep breath, let it out slowly, then locked his eyes on his hand. It felt like a physical pull , like Tony was exerting a muscle. He watched with complete concentration as his magic pulled away from him bit by bit until it was hovering an inch above his hand. He lowered it back down, then forced it to reach up and out. Tendrils snaked off of the ball, curling around Tony's fingers, smothering his hand in purple. Then it moved up, curling around like wisps of smoke.

'Do it a few more times,' Loki said softly.

Tony did as told and he felt giddy, a rush of excitement and accomplishment almost overwhelming him. His magic shot back towards him and Tony barely managed to stop it, forcing it into submission so that it hovered in a ball above his skin.

After a few more attempts, Loki told Tony to withdraw. Tony let his magic sink back into himself and he felt Loki's presence as the Jötunn searched to make sure that Tony was okay.

'Good,' Loki said. 'Come back to yourself completely, Anthony.'

When Tony did, now out of his mindscape, magic pulsing within him, he sighed and slumped heavily against the older god.

'You did very well,' Loki said. He pressed a kiss to the smooth skin beneath Tony's ear, making Tony shiver minutely. 'A few more attempts over the coming days and you should be able to scan yourself with your sensor.'

'Okay,' Tony said. ''m kinda hungry.'

'We shall eat here before returning,' Loki said. 'Teleporting you so soon would drain you and Potts would notice.'

''kay,' Tony mumbled. He didn't feel as exhausted as he had the first time he'd pushed his magic out of his body, but he was still tired .

'Stay here, Anthony,' Loki said. He turned Tony's head to kiss his lips, licking into Tony's mouth briefly before pulling back. He patted Tony's hip before gracefully sliding out from behind Tony and walking across the Hideout. 'What do you feel like?'

'Um... something fresh, to be honest,' Tony admitted. 'Like salad and...'

'Plants,' Loki smirked. 'As I've said before, greens help replenish magic quicker. Something about the uncooked, fresh food seems to bring energy back faster after dabbling with magic.'

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. He just had the overwhelming urge to eat a bunch of veggies and salad. Loki smiled at him and walked over to the kitchen/eating area, pulling the fridge open and rummaging about.

Tony watched him with a smile, his chest- his very heart - feeling warm and content. He wasn't sure if it was because he was more in touch with magic, or if it was just Loki's presence.



{oOo}



'What?' Tony asked, just to make sure that he'd heard correctly.

'Agents Romanov and Barton tried to access your workshop three hours ago, sir,' JARVIS said from Tony's cellphone.

'Huh,' Tony hummed. He'd thought something like that might happen, which was why he'd set up various security measures. Loki had also warded the place, whatever that meant. 'Did they get in?'

'Of course not, sir,' JARVIS said, sounding insulted.

Tony snickered. 'Okay, okay; sorry I doubted you, J. So what happened?'

'Agent Romanov attempted to simply walk in, then attempted to use her security code. However, she commented to Agent Barton after being denied access that it hadn't worked last time. Agent Barton then tried to get into the workshop via the airducts, however the new security system you installed ejected him forcefully.'

Tony laughed again. He hoped Barton had hurt himself. He'd watch the security footage when he got back.

'What are you laughing about?' Loki asked, setting a plate of something vegetarian on the table before Tony. Tony had been told that he wasn't allowed to eat in bed and had pouted but complied, moving to the dining table and sitting just before JARVIS called.

'Barton and Romanov tried to get into my workshop,' Tony said to Loki.

'And your bedroom, sir,' JARVIS added.

'Is that right?' Tony asked. He set his StarkPhone on speaker so that Loki could hear.

'Indeed,' JARVIS said. 'After a few failed attempts I allowed them access into the penthouse per your instructions.'

Loki raised an eyebrow at Tony, who explained; 'I give them some scraps every now and then; access to some of my smaller workshops, my office, and the penthouse. Everything top secret is locked up tight, which they expect. But if I throw them a few bits of information every now and then they think they're getting somewhere and don't try any harder.'

'Clever,' Loki commented.

'Duh,' Tony snorted, making Loki roll his eyes. 'Is that all, JARVIS?'

'Yes, sir,' the AI said. 'Agents Romanov and Barton went through your bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.'

'Did they find anything interesting?'

'They found the old Iron Man suit designs that you left in the bottom drawer of your bedside table,' JARVIS said, 'and took copies before leaving the flash drive where they had found it.'

'You let them have information about your suit?' Loki asked.

'No, not really,' Tony shook his head. 'Most of the information I tweaked just a bit; a few numbers off, different materials listed. Even if their scientists figure it out and build a suit based on those blueprints, it won't work. They don't have access to my repulsor technology, for one. Well, they will if they get a hold of Rhodey's suit.'

'Rhodey?' Loki echoed, frowning over his plate.

'Colonel James Rhodes, he's an old... friend, of mine,' Tony said slowly.

'You do not sound sure,' Loki said.

Tony shrugged. 'He's a friend as far as I can tell. But he stole one of my old suits, named War Machine, and he uses it for his job with the army.'

'You let someone steal a functioning suit?'

'Hey, don't get pissy at me,' Tony frowned, 'I can do whatever the hell I want with my suits.' Loki scowled at him. 'Anyway,' Tony continued, 'there are build-in security measures that Rhodey doesn't know about; if anyone but him tries to activate the suit it'll fly straight to my Tower. I only let Rhodey keep it because I couldn't be bothered going to retrieve it. I figured I'll do it after SHIELD finds out about me changing sides; they'll probably go straight to Rhodey and get him to replace me.'

'Why haven't they already?' Loki asked. 'If you think they will ask him, then Fury no doubt thinks this Rhodey person more stable than yourself.'

'Rhodey doesn't want to join SHIELD, or the Avengers,' Tony explained, 'they've already asked. Rhodey's more interested in staying with the army and protecting the world that way. But when he hears about me he'll probably change his mind, or at least join them temporarily to help take me down.'

'You think he will betray you like Potts?'

'I honestly don't know,' Tony admitted. 'Rhodey's always had my back, always been on my side. But he's a good man, he won't agree with me killing anyone, not even SHIELD agents. He got all pissed off when I killed the guys who kidnapped me and terrorised the local areas. So while he might not actively try to kill me, he'll probably try to bring me in to face justice and all that crap.'

'And what will you do?' Loki questioned, head tilted, green eyes locked on Tony.

'Same with Pepper,' Tony said, voice certain. 'I won't actively hunt or try to kill Rhodey. But if he makes himself my enemy, I'll kill him.'

Loki hummed at that and went back to his food, apparently done with the conversation.

There was a pause before JARVIS interrupted; 'Anything else, sir?'

'Shit, I forgot about you, J,' Tony said. 'Sorry about that.'

'No apologies necessary, sir,' JARVIS replied.

Tony chuckled and reached for his cell. 'Nah, that's all. Unless the Avengers are up to anything else I should know about...?'

'Nothing prudent, sir,' JARVIS said. 'Agents Romanov and Barton continue to think that their surveillance cancelling devices work, and have had three private conversations since you left. I recorded each and saved them to your personal server.'

'Thanks, JARVIS,' Tony said. 'Keep me posted.'

'Of course, Mr Stark,' JARVIS said before hanging up.

'JARVIS is probably one of the most useful inventions you have come up with,' Loki commented.

'He's my favourite,' Tony grinned. 'I mean, I love Iron Man; it protects me, let's me defend myself and go after assholes who think they can challenge me. But JARVIS is like my best friend, my babysitter, my... everything, I suppose. He's taken care of me ever since I created him.'

Loki smiled softly. 'I will be forever grateful.'

Tony huffed and said, 'You just like JARVIS because he always agrees with you.'

'I do enjoy being called sir,' Loki purred.

Tony scowled. 'Hey! Don't go being all sexy when you're not gonna follow through.' Loki was still adamant that they not have sex when Tony was practising magic, which meant that there was a sex ban on the Hideout until Tony got his Genesis suits finished and made them magic-safe.

Loki just grinned at him and slid a carrot into his mouth, sucking on his fork for far longer than was actually necessary. Tony glared at him throughout the entire meal.



{oOo}



Magic. Fucking magic . Tony Stark, Iron Man, genius billionaire ex-playboy philanthropist, had fucking figured out how to trace magic .

Tony was fucking awesome.

Okay, so Loki had helped. Quite a bit. Okay, a lot , if Tony was being honest. Loki's theory about the sensor picking up magic in Tony's sample scans had been entirely correct. Tony hadn't been able to sense magic because he was already fucking sensing it. It was right there, part of the radiation that made up the background of planet Earth. It was in everything, from the rocks around them to Tony's computers and his very body.

Loki's magic was there, too, both Jötunn and Asgardian, and now Tony could tell the fucking difference!

Managing to figure out how to detect magic meant that Tony and Loki could work towards blocking it or making something magic free. Whenever Tony wasn't in a meeting in England, he and Loki teleported to their Hideout to work, staying as long as possible. Tony taught Loki how to use the sensor, and Loki sat before it, scanning himself and various spells. He'd then separated all the information for Tony to look over; samples of good magic, of bad magic, of wards and raw magic and spells.

Spells with different intent read differently, Tony's scanner informed the two. If Loki's spell wasn't intended to hurt anybody, it read as soft, barely a spike. When he intended to harm or kill somebody, the spell registered as a large, sharp burst of magic, as though the energy was laced with... evil, or something.

Their plans had to be halted when Tony's business finally finished up in England, meaning that he and Loki had to head back to the Tower, and to the Avengers. No major attacks had happened since Tony had been gone, and when that trend kept up after their return it allowed Tony and Loki to slip out of the Tower to go on “dates”.

Okay, so Tony and Loki fucked sometimes, but for the most part they sequestered themselves into their Hideout, Loki working magic, Tony working science.

It took time. Magic and science just didn't want to mix, but with a lot of man- er, god- hours, a lot of sweat, tears, and frustration, Tony managed to make his suit magic-proof. Well, it was mostly his repulsors, his arc reactor, that had to be made magic-proof. Loki created a spell that slid into the very atoms of Tony's suit, protecting everything from reacting negatively to Loki's Asgardian magic. He then did the same with his Jötunn magic, and production of Tony's Genesis suits was halted as Loki taught Tony how to craft a spell with his own magic.

It was a lot harder than Tony had assumed it would be. He was a natural at using his raw magic, Loki said, but apparently spells- the delicates of spell crafting - were Tony's weakness. It took far longer than Loki had thought it would to make Tony's words and magic mix together, creating a spell that could be pushed into his suits. Every time they went back to the Tower after spell work Tony was exhausted and near catatonic.

But like with everything Tony Stark set his mind to, he got it, eventually. And when he did, it was time for assembly.

Tony had been working on his Genesis suits on and off ever since Pepper's conversation with Coulson. When Loki had been scanning himself, Tony had worked on beating his armour into submission, wiring his gauntlets together, fiddling with the repulsors to make the particles glow green instead of blue.

When all was said and done, Loki helped Tony put everything together. It was a bit hit and miss, what with Loki not completely understanding how the Iron Man suits worked or fit together. But with Tony's directions they managed.

They sneaked off from the Tower one rainy Thursday afternoon, Clint sending them off with biting words, Steve smiling, glad that his mission to get Tony to “take a break” was working well, and Natasha with glowing eyes that promised Tony's shit would be sifted through despite her still-healing arm. Bruce and Thor hadn't been around, but Tony didn't have the energy to think about them and his Genesis suits.

When Tony got it working- when he and Loki got it working- they could finally start attacking. JARVIS had written up a hefty list of supposed-SHIELD bases, and all Tony and Loki had to do was check them out before destroying them.

There was a new energy clawing at the edges of Tony and Loki's little world and it threatened to break as soon as Tony's machines, brought in specifically for this, started assembling the suit around Tony. Loki watched, arms folded over his t-shirt, green eyes dark.

The chest plate snapped on and Tony was lowered to the ground, landing with a muffled thump on the rock floor.

'Well?' Loki questioned.

'Everything seems to be working,' Tony said. 'I can fly around in here, right?'

'I would not suggest flying outside,' Loki said, amused.

Tony rolled his eyes. 'Okay, keep an eye on me in case something goes wrong and I get thrown into a wall.' Loki scowled. Tony pressed a small pad in his right gauntlet and the helmet unfolded from his neck armour, enveloping Tony's head. The faceplate slammed down last of all and suddenly everything was dark. 'Boot up,' Tony ordered.

His world exploded into shades of green instead of blue, information scrolling across the right side of Tony's vision, various systems being booted, tested, JARVIS linked into everything.

' Everything seems to be functioning, sir ,' JARVIS informed him.

'Okay, J, let's test this,' Tony said. 'Show me the cave.' A screen winked into existence on the HUD, showing a full-colour picture of the cave and Loki. Tony tested a few more things, his various programmes all being run through twice by himself, then twice more by JARVIS, just to make sure. When that was done Tony took a few steps back, then forward, then did a short lap of the cave to make sure that everything was running smoothly.

It was, and now it was time for a test flight.

Tony felt his stomach climb and his magic shiver as he activated his repulsors. He lifted off the ground with a burst of green-white. Dust swirled around him and Loki as Tony hovered, then rose, his arms outstretched to stabilise his flight.

' Everything is functioning at one-hundred percent, sir, ' JARVIS chimed in after doing another suit-wide scan.

'Fuck yeah,' Tony breathed, a grin stretching across his face. He lowered himself to the ground and slid his faceplate up, the metal easily slipping into the helmet encasing Tony's head.

Loki raised an eyebrow when he met Tony's eyes and Tony snickered; Loki was covered in dirt.

'Charming, Stark,' Loki drawled.

'You love it,' Tony grinned cheekily.

Loki rolled his eyes. 'Well?' he asked. 'Is your suit functioning?'

Tony's grin widened as he said, 'Oh, yeah,' and he watched Loki's eyes light up in dark satisfaction. 'Now all we have to do is check out the bases JARVIS found to make sure they're actually SHIELD's.'

'I see,' Loki said. 'And your JARVIS-operated suits?'

'JARVIS has been working on them for weeks,' Tony said. They were the first suits Tony had completed and he'd let JARVIS work out all the kinks while he and Loki had focused on making them magic-safe. 'We're ready, Loki.'

Loki stared at him. And then he smirked- dark, deep, beautiful . Chaos was practically radiating off of Loki, a primal hunger to rip and tear and destroy .

Tony returned the look and his magic thumped, burned, desired .

Oh, yeah , Tony thought, this is gonna be good .

Chapter Text

Pepper showed up when Tony and Loki were about to head out. The closest SHIELD base, according to JARVIS, was in Bridgeport. Tony had gone back through the various recordings JARVIS had made and remembered that Coulson, when he'd called Pepper, had been in Bridgeport. So he had a good feeling about a base being there.

Tony was just pulling on a jacket when the elevator opened, Pepper stepping out.

'Pepper,' he whined, 'I'm going out! I don't have any meetings today, JARVIS checked.'

'No, you don't,' Pepper agreed. 'I just want to talk to you.' She looked at Loki and added, 'It'll just take a minute.'

Tony sighed but nodded to Loki, who smiled at them both before getting into the elevator. 'I'll wait for you in the garage,' he said. The doors shut, whisking him away, and Tony turned to Pepper.

'What is it?'

'Tony... you've been doing well the past few weeks,' Pepper started.

Tony wet his lips and fought not to glare. Here we go... he thought.

'It's been good for you, taking some time away from your workshop, spending it with Logan,' Pepper continued. 'I think you should take some more time off.'

'Okay...' Tony said.

'Steve told me that there hasn't been any major fights lately and said that it'd be fine if you took some time off your patrols and your SHIELD meetings. He and Bruce can keep you informed, and I can take over the few meetings you have for the next three or four weeks,' Pepper said. 'I really think that you should take some more time off, away from Stark Industries and the Avengers. It'll be good for you.'

'Okay,' Tony repeated. He sighed and reached up to rub his face, hand hiding his scowl. 'Yeah, I, uh... it has been good for me,' he agreed, 'I feel... better, looser. Maybe I can take Logan somewhere, or just hang out around here or something. I can't completely step away from my workshop or the Avengers, you know that.'

Pepper nodded and when Tony glanced at her, he saw hope shining in her eyes.

Fuck you, Pepper , Tony thought. Fuck you and fuck Coulson . Tony's chest felt hot, his magic swirling with anger. He had to take a deep breath to calm down and pasted a fake smile on his face.

'You know what? It's about time I took a decent vacation. Might even go to Malibu for a while, show Logan the Mansion.'

'That's good, Tony,' Pepper agreed, satisfaction clearly written across her face. 'I'll let you know if the company needs you, and Steve will call if the Avengers need Iron Man. Just relax.'

'Yeah,' Tony said, 'okay, Pep.'

He moved towards the elevator, Pepper following, and Tony's magic leapt up again at their close proximity, wanting to lash out and consume, destroy . It would serve Pepper right, Tony thought. They were supposed to be friends; Pepper had known him for years . Yet Coulson said jump and Pepper asked how high. It didn't matter if Pepper was just worried about Tony; she'd been talking about him behind his back, meeting with Coulson and discussing his mental health. Friends didn't do that; they confronted you, told you you were being an idiot. They didn't fucking betray you .

Pepper got off the elevator on floor sixty and threw Tony a smile. 'I'll see you soon, Tony.'

'Yeah,' was all Tony said. The elevator doors slid shut behind her and Tony stabbed at the button that would take him down to the basement. He was silent, still, for maybe five or six seconds before his fingers curled into a fist. He lashed out, slamming his fist into the wall, and watched in satisfaction as the metal curled inward, buckling beneath Tony's strength.

His joy lasted only seconds before he cursed. Great, now he'd have to fix the fucking wall.

The doors slid open and Loki was right there waiting for him. He raised an eyebrow when he saw the wall, then tutted and stepped in.

'You need to learn to control your anger, Stark,' he said. Tony rolled his eyes but watched as Loki reached out and pressed a hand against the wall. His fingers glowed blue before the colour disappeared. When Loki removed his hand the wall was smooth silver metal once more.

'Is that safe?' Tony asked.

'Jötunn magic,' Loki told him. 'From what I've seen so far, Thor can't detect it. And I need to practice using it so my fingers don't turn blue again.'

'Oh,' Tony blinked, 'thanks, then.'

'What did Potts want?' Loki asked, following Tony from the elevator and across the garage.

'She wants me to take time off,' Tony scowled.

'I see,' Loki mused. 'And did you agree?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. Rather than take a car, he headed for his collection of motorbikes; a motorcycle would be easier to hide once they reached Bridgeport. 'I figured that taking time off would give us an excuse to disappear and check the SHIELD bases JARVIS has found. If anyone asks where we were we can just we were out eating or fucking or whatever.'

'I see,' Loki repeated.

'Have you ever ridden a bike before?' Tony asked when he reached his black Yamaha YZF R1. It was the 2012 model, only out a few months, and Tony patted the tank as Loki looked it over.

'I can't say that I have,' the older god said.

'I think you'll like it,' Tony grinned at him. 'It won't take long for us to get to Bridgeport.'

'Very well,' Loki said. He watched as Tony walked across the garage to get two helmets from a cabinet. He tossed one to the Trickster, who turned it over in his hands. He saw Tony put his helmet on and copied the gesture, then climbed onto the back of the bike when Tony instructed him to.

'You gotta hold on tight, Lokes, or you'll go flying,' Tony said, voice muffled by the helmet. 'This baby's fast.'

'Sure it is, Stark,' Loki drawled. He earned himself a chuckle.

Tony pushed the key into the ignition and started the bike. The Yamaha vibrated beneath them and Tony felt Loki's arms wrap around him tight, the older god then pressing himself firmly against Tony's back.

I could get used to this , Tony mused. 'Hold on, Lo!' he called as he pulled back on the throttle. He heard Loki gasp behind him as the bike took off and grinned. The bike tore across the garage and then up the ramp, JARVIS already lifting the gate. Tony and Loki burst out onto the street and Tony immediately swung left, turning into traffic.

Tony figured that they'd drive to Bridgeport and hide the bike somewhere, then Loki could disguise them or something so they could check out SHIELD's base.

Loki's arms tightened around Tony again as they sped down the street.



{oOo}



Loki pondered Tony's slip in the workshop as they sat staring at SHIELD's supposed base. Loki and Tony were both positive that it was a SHIELD base; the beachfront property, as Stark called it, was surrounded by a tall, thick iron fence topped with razor-wire. Tony had run a scan with one of the many tools he had in various pockets of his... cargo pants, he had called them. Anyway, Stark had run scans and found a multitude of security devices surrounding the area.

Besides the fence, there wasn't anything obvious about the property; it didn't scream “top-secret government facility”. But Loki and Tony both knew what to look for, and the various gardeners, window cleaners, and other men and women wandering around the grounds and around the perimeter of the fence, all carrying concealed weapons, hinted at the property being a SHIELD base.

Anthony had ridden his bike somewhere, Loki wasn't sure, and had parked in an underground parking lot. Loki had then teleported them both to Bridgeport after Stark had shown him a map, and had thrown a spell around them both to conceal them from SHIELD and passers-by. They were leaning against another building, sitting on a wooden bench, Stark with various things spread over his lap, Loki holding the bag of chips he'd stolen when they'd walked past a small store.

It had been three days since Stark had said “I love you”. Stark hadn't brought it up, and neither had Loki. Loki didn't want to bring it up and he was glad Tony hadn't. It had been a mere slip; Tony had been excited about finally being able to scan and study magic his way, with his sciences. It had shocked them both, clearly, but neither had dwelt on it.

Until now; it was all Loki could think about, sitting there with Anthony by his side, the younger god tapping at various screens of the electronics he'd brought with him.

This kind of research bored Loki, who usually preferred to wander into an enemy's lair and see everything first-hand. But there was always the risk of Thor turning up at one of SHIELD's bases and neither Loki nor Tony wanted to risk giving themselves away this early in the game. So they were just sitting, staring, Loki crunching on chips and Tony making notes.

It gave Loki ample time to think. I love you . What was Loki supposed to do with that? He and Tony weren't dating, at least not in the traditional sense. Yes, they spent all their time together and they didn't sleep with others. Yes, Loki had... feelings for Anthony, though he wasn't sure what his feelings were, exactly, or how deep they ran. His magic wanted Tony. He wanted Tony. That didn't meant that they would be good together. Adding feelings- real feelings- to their business arrangement would just cause problems. Problems always occurred when Loki truly cared for someone.

And how did Tony truly feel? The “I love you” had been a slip, he hadn't truly meant it . He would no doubt “freak out”, as Midgardians were fond of saying, if he knew what Loki's magic truly wanted; if he knew the real reason his magic hummed and glowed warmly whenever Loki was around.

Loki sighed and slouched back, ignored the look Tony gave him before going back to his StarkPad.

Loki was tired of thinking this over. He could, of course, just ask Tony how he felt. But Loki wasn't good at outright stating what he wanted. He preferred... subterfuge. Besides, what if Tony didn't want Loki any more? What if, because of Loki pushing, Tony decided to sever their current romantic ties and go find someone else to spend his nights with? Tony might not have the time now, what with their plans, but when they eventually destroyed SHIELD, the World Security Council, and the Avengers, Tony would have more time. He could go back to having a different beautiful person in is bed every night. He could dress up, charm his way around a room, and have a multitude of people hanging off of his arms.

And Loki would be left alone, as usual.

He glanced at Tony from the corner of his eye. The Midgardian was still consumed with his work, only looking up every now and then to scan the compound before them.

They didn't have to discuss Tony's slip, Loki supposed. They could just... ignore it. Or, Loki could ignore it until Tony brought it up. After all, he was the one who'd said it. Why should Loki bring it up?

Loki smiled in satisfaction and beside him Tony shifted. He reached up to rub at his chest, the glow of his arc reactor shining through the double layer of shirts he was wearing.

'Problem?' Loki asked. Despite the Apple having ejected the metal shards that had once threatened Tony's life, Loki knew that Tony still worried about the arc reactor. Loki did, too; it was Tony's protection against magical manipulation.

'Hmm?' Tony hummed before he blinked rapidly and shook his head. 'What? No, no problem.'

'Are you sure?'

Tony nodded. 'Yeah, I'm fine. My... uh, magic, I think?' he said, frowning for a second before nodding once. 'Yeah, my magic. It just... goes all warm, sometimes.'

'Does it?' Loki queried.

'Yeah,' Tony repeated. 'It got all hot and chaos-y today with Pepper. I think it wanted to kill her.'

Loki snorted at the thought of Tony's magic lashing out, making that silly woman pay for how she had betrayed Tony. It would be... delightful.

'But just now it went all... warm,' Tony said and shrugged a shoulder. 'I'm getting used to it.'

'It happens often?' Loki asked.

'Well, yeah,' Tony said. He looked at Loki. 'I told you, remember? Sometimes my chest- or, well, my magic - just gets all warm and fuzzy around you. Like a giant teddy bear. Like a giant teddy bear that's been microwaved. Like a giant teddy bear that-'

'Yes, Stark, I get it,' Loki cut in. He scowled at the cheeky smirk Tony threw his way. 'I'm sure your magic will settle eventually.'

'Maybe,' Tony shrugged, 'as I said, I'm getting used to it, and getting used to ignoring it or making it calm down. Maybe my magic just likes you.' With one last smile he went back to tapping rapidly at his StarkPad, taking various photos and scans of the SHIELD property to have JARVIS analyse.

Loki stared at him, gaping slightly, but Stark didn't notice. After a few minutes Loki eased back, shoulders once more pressed against the brick wall behind them.

Oh, Anthony, he thought as he turned his attention back to the compound, you don't know how right you are.



{oOo}



'Okay, J, give me the SHIELD bases in America only,' Tony ordered. 'We'll stick to those for now.'

' Yes, sir ,' JARVIS replied. There was a few seconds of silence before JARVIS started listing bases he'd found; ' New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Columbus, Detroit, Malibu, Miami, Baltimore, Bridgeport, Albuquerque and Washington DC. '

'Huh,' Tony mused, 'most of those are major cities.'

'All the easier to blend in, disappear, and hide what you're truly doing,' Loki commented from across the table.

Tony quirked a smile at him before tapping at the list JARVIS had brought up. 'So these are the American ones.'

' Yes, sir ,' JARVIS said.

'Twelve,' Tony hummed, 'how many are in other countries, JARVIS?'

' Not as many as we first hypothesised, Mr Stark, ' JARVIS said.

'Really?'

' Yes, sir ,' JARVIS said. ' Cross-referencing various military databases allowed me to take a fair amount off of the list .'

'What have you got?' Tony asked.

Another second of silence, and then JARVIS said, ' So far I am 94.3% certain that there are SHIELD bases in the following places; Beijing, China; London, England; Ottawa, Canada; Brasília, Brazil; Sydney, Australia; Zurich, Switzerland; Berlin, Germany; and Wellington, New Zealand. '

'All capital cities,' Tony said.

' Sydney is not the capital of Australia, Mr Stark ,' JARVIS corrected, ' Canberra is .'

Tony rolled his eyes while Loki snickered. 'Whatever, JARVIS, nobody cares.'

' The people of Australia care, sir ,' JARVIS commented.

'JARVIS!' Tony snapped. The AI was silent, and Tony slouched against the table, Loki smirking at him across the top. 'Okay, so we'll need to somehow get to all these places and check the possible bases out.'

'Depending on how far they are, I may not be able to teleport,' Loki said.

Tony groaned. 'Right, right.'

'I can teleport a part of the way there, rest for a few hours, and then teleport some more,' Loki offered.

'We could always fly partway there,' Tony mused. He tapped his fingers across the table. 'We could fly to China and you could teleport us to Indonesia, then to Australia. Some fake passports would get us a boat or another airplane to New Zealand. Head down to Mexico and you could teleport to Brazil, hopefully. Europe's easier; they've got trains everywhere. I can just tell Pepper I'm taking a holiday to Europe. As long as we're not correctly identified by SHIELD in every country, we should be okay.'

'Are we destroying SHIELD's American bases first, or their out of country ones?' Loki questioned.

'We should mix and match,' Tony said. 'SHIELD have more resources here in America, as well as the American government on their side. Obviously they have other governments on speed dial if they were allowed to build bases in their countries, but I doubt the Chinese government will lift a finger to help an American secret agency if one of their headquarters is destroyed.'

'The way you Midgardians have split your world is confusing, yet helpful to our plans,' Loki commented. He finally stopped playing with the plants- or weeds or flowers or... whatever- that he'd brought back from another Realm. Tony watched as Loki crushed a small purple flower before putting it into the crystal tube. 'Smell this,' he ordered.

Tony did as told and almost fell off his chair. 'What the hell is that?' he coughed and waved his hand about. His magic was twisting out of his chest, up his arms and spine and neck, right into his head. It was a minute or two until Tony's brain stopped swimming and his eyesight came back into focus.

Loki smirked at him. 'A rather small... gas bomb, I suppose you Midgardians would call it. I crushed a certain weed with a certain flower. The toxin it gives off will render an Æsir sightless and confused. I suspect that it will either kill a mortal or render them unconscious.'

'Handy,' Tony coughed and patted his chest, 'but some warning would be nice.'

'Sorry,' Loki said, though of course he didn't look apologetic in the slightest.

Tony rolled his eyes. 'Who are you using that on?'

'Why your delightful team mates, of course,' Loki said.

'Not my team mates,' Tony muttered.

'Still your team mates until you reveal your true intentions,' Loki corrected.

Tony just shook his head; he hated having this conversation with Loki. He just really, really hated even referring to the Avengers as his team mates. They weren't team mates. They weren't friends. Hell, they were barely even acquaintances. To them, yeah, Tony was a team mate and someone they could depend on; because to them, Tony was still a good guy. He was careless, he was chaotic, but he was good . Tony knew that he wasn't. And soon enough, the Avengers would know that, too.

'Okay,' Tony said. 'I say we stakeout a few more SHIELD bases. Then we pick which one to hit.'

'What's wrong with the one in Bridgeport?' Loki questioned.

'I just think we should spread ourselves out,' Tony said. 'SHIELD obviously believes you're based in New York because you always attack here; they expect it. They won't expect you in Chicago or Detroit or Malibu.'

'We probably shouldn't attack the one in Malibu if Potts thinks that's where we are,' Loki suggested. 'It would invite suspicion.'

'True,' Tony nodded. 'We'll keep Malibu for when the Avengers think we're in New York. Or even London.'

Loki smirked and stood. Tony was glad to see that he'd corked the weed/plant/knock-you-out shit that he'd been playing with, so when he leaned over Tony's shoulder Tony let himself snuggle back into Loki's cool, firm chest. Loki just hummed and Tony smiled, watching as the Trickster ran a finger over the list JARVIS had written.

'This one,' he eventually decided, pointing at Miami. 'Let's attack this one.'

'Why?' Loki just shrugged, so Tony snorted. 'Okay, then. Miami's a nineteen hour drive, you know, or just over two hours by plane.'

'How long would it take to get there in your Iron Man suit?' Loki asked.

'Just under two hours in my Mark suits,' Tony said. 'An hour, an hour and a half, in my Genesis. They're faster.'

'Very well,' Loki said and stood tall. Tony pouted at the loss of Loki all up against him. 'You can fly halfway there. I'll teleport us the rest of the way.'

'M'kay,' Tony said. Loki leaned back down and dragged his lips over Tony's neck, Tony shivering. 'Can I help you?'

'We can visit Miami tomorrow,' Loki decided and nipped at Tony's ear.

'Yes, we can,' Tony said. He spun around and caught Loki's mouth, the Trickster chuckling against his lips. 'Shut up,' Tony huffed. Loki's response was to drag Tony over to what had become their cot; Loki liked workshop sex.

Tony fucking loved it.



{oOo}



The SHIELD base in Miami had been built next to the airport. Clever, Tony thought; they could have agents and supplies flown in without anybody seeing too much, and the top-level security was understandable, considering how close the airport was.

Tony took notes, Loki ate and proclaimed his boredom, but at the end of a long day spent sitting and staring, Tony and Loki were set on destroying the Miami base. They headed back to the Tower, where Tony started packing and called Pepper.

'What can I do for you, Tony?' Pepper asked.

'I'm heading to Malibu with Logan,' Tony said. He threw a pair of jeans into his duffel bag, followed by some shirts and boxers. Loki was lounging on the bed, doing absolutely zero to help. Tony scowled at him. Stupid sexy bastard.

' That's great, Tony, ' Pepper said.

Tony rolled his eyes. 'Yeah, well, I figured it was time for a holiday, right?'

' Of course .'

'So I'm taking Logan with me and I've got a meeting tomorrow with the board at Stark Industries, but I hoped you could take it?'

' I will ,' Pepper promised. ' That's the one at nine am, right? '

'Yeah,' Tony said.

' I'm free until midday, so I'll take it, ' Pepper said. ' How long will you be in Malibu? '

'I figured a week or two, we'll see how it goes,' Tony said. 'Definitely a week, two if nothing comes up. JARVIS is gonna keep an eye on things and Steve and Fury both know how to contact me if something happens.'

' This is good, Tony ,' Pepper said. ' You deserve the time off .'

Tony rolled his eyes again and Loki smirked from the bed. Tony flipped him off and tuned back into the conversation. He ended up staring at the ceiling for a good five minutes as Pepper rattled off all the reasons why he deserved this holiday, why it'd be good for him, blah, blah. Tony just hummed and agreed and eventually hung up.

'What a boring woman,' Loki drawled.

'Yeah,' Tony laughed. 'Are you gonna help pack?'

'Why should I?'

'Because you're coming with me?' Tony said.

'But I can just steal things when we get to Malibu,' Loki said. 'Or use magic.'

'Well, yeah,' Tony mused, 'but I was thinking of letting SHIELD stalk us for a bit, and they will. They can get some CCTV footage of us in Malibu, and if you're wearing clothes that Romanov and Barton have seen you in, it'll be more believable.'

Loki sighed but said, 'Very well,' and stood. He walked past Tony and stepped to hiss in his ear, 'I expect sex, Stark.'

Tony grinned as Loki wandered into the bathroom. Like he was going to say no to that .



{oOo}



Loki spent most of the plane ride to Malibu asleep. Tony used the quiet time to go over SHIELD's Miami base once more. JARVIS had hacked into various CCTV cameras as well as the Helicarrier, which was usually the go-between when SHIELD agents and bases were chattering at each other. The security surrounding SHIELD's communications was good, but Tony was better, and soon he'd found various reports about the Miami base.

It seemed that it was used for transport; SHIELD would have agents, equipment, and various cars and weapons flown to Miami from all over the world, America included. The Miami base would then sort everything and send it off, either by plane, quinjet or truck. Tony briefly wondered why Fury had never shared this with him (Tony was a weapons/tech consultant, after all) but then brushed it aside as he flicked further through the reports. It didn't matter; maybe Fury just liked keeping everything close, maybe he just didn't think Tony would care. Or, maybe, he didn't trust Tony. Tony couldn't blame him; Fury was right not to trust him, after all.

Loki snuffled in his sleep and muttered something about DUM-E before rolling back over, pillow clutched tight to his face. Tony grinned; he had a bed aboard his private plane, of course, and Loki had stumbled in there a few minutes after take off and fallen asleep. Tony didn't want to bother him; they planned to teleport halfway between Malibu and Miami, rest, and then have Tony fly the two the rest of the way. Loki had said that he could probably teleport the entire way himself but neither he nor Tony wanted to waste time resting when they could be destroying a SHIELD base.

Finally , the time had come; Tony knew that they had a long road ahead of them. SHIELD had over a dozen bases in America alone, and he and Loki still had to fit destroying the bases in other countries into their plans. But it was finally starting . Tony was practically buzzing with excitement and his magic seemed to take that as permission to perform flips and kicks in Tony's chest.

It kept reaching out to Loki, too, Tony had noticed. Tony figured that the pull he felt- the way his magic inched towards Loki whenever Tony didn't keep a tight hold on it- wasn't strong enough for Loki to feel. Because Loki hadn't budged since he'd fallen asleep, but Tony had found himself half-standing at least six times just because his magic wanted to be closer to Loki.

Tony sighed and closed the SHIELD reports JARVIS had stolen, instead pulling up his research on magic. Something was happening between his and Loki's magic and if Loki wasn't going to explain it, Tony would just work it out himself. Maybe he could work out just enough for Loki to tell him the truth.

Tony's StarkPad flashed and Tony glanced down to find a message from JARVIS; Forty-two minutes until you land, Mr Stark.

Tony tapped the message twice, closing the small box of text, and went back to his magic research. Maybe his magic just really, really, really liked Loki. Or maybe...



{oOo}



Loki acted like a grumpy, sleep-deprived bitch on the drive from the airport to Tony's Malibu mansion. He perked up slightly when they arrived at Tony's place and spent the better part of an hour exploring. Tony made sandwiches while Loki poked through his stuff (yes, he could make sandwiches, thank you very much!) and he and Loki ate before they changed and headed out.

Tony didn't want the Avengers to even slightly suspect him or “Logan”, and that meant playing tourist and showing Loki around Malibu. So Tony made sure to lead them to the tourist heavy spots, letting CCTV cameras and various ATM and restaurant cameras pick up him and Loki. He even made sure to announce his presence when he and Loki visited Tony's favourite restaurant for an early lunch. It meant that the media- and, hopefully, SHIELD- knew exactly where Tony Stark and his boyfriend were. Which meant that Tony was in high spirits when he and Loki walked down to Tony's workshop after getting back to the mansion.

'It arrived?' Loki asked.

'You'd know that if you hadn't bitched and moaned on the ride over,' Tony said.

Loki scowled at him but didn't say anything. He just watched as Tony unpacked the Genesis suit. It wasn't a suitcase suit so much as a box suit; it turned itself into a rectangle that Tony could then pack into a duffel bag, hiding it from prying eyes. Normally Tony didn't care who saw his suits; the Genesis suit had to remain hidden as long as possible.

Loki stepped back as Tony keyed in the password, the suit unfolding on the floor. Tony stepped into it and said, 'Activate.' JARVIS did his job and soon Tony was encased, the helmet unfolding over his head last of all. Tony kept the faceplate up as he looked at Loki. 'Ready?'

Loki waved a hand and his features melted from Logan's blonde-blue into his usual black-green. His jeans, shirt and sneakers disappeared, replaced with the heavy Asgardian armour Loki had been working on over the past few weeks; the jacket was thinner but Tony knew that it was warded more heavily than Loki's previous armour had been.

The coat, leather pants and knee-high boots were black, the heavy armour pieces- shoulders, shins, arms and vambraces- were all a matted purple with protection runes carved into the metal. The tunic Loki wore beneath his coat, and the highlights on his pants and coat, as well as the trimmings, were all emerald green. Loki forwent his helmet for now and smiled at Tony as he stepped up to him.

'You know where we're teleporting to?' Tony asked and wrapped his arms around Loki's waist.

The Trickster rolled his eyes. 'Yes, Stark. Now shut up and hold on.'

Tony laughed as Loki teleported them away.

Chapter Text

Miami was just under five hours away from Malibu by plane. Loki teleported himself and Tony to Austin, Texas, where they spent about two hours sitting on the edge of the Pennybacker Bridge, discussing how they'd storm SHIELD's Miami base. Soon they'd made a wager; Loki thought that he could destroy more buildings, and kill more agents, than Tony could.

Tony snorted. Okay, so Loki had plenty more years experience at destroying shit than Tony did, but Tony was chaotic by nature; he was totally winning the bet. A small part of Tony- a very small part- wondered if this was it; if this was finally him going over the edge and becoming a super villain. A larger part of Tony knew that he'd fallen ages ago; when he'd killed the terrorists holding him and Yinsen hostage, when he'd killed more after perfecting the Iron Man suit, and then again when he'd asked Loki to join him.

Killing a few innocent agents, destroying a SHIELD base, it wasn't going to change Tony. It was just going to put more red in his ledger. And Tony? Tony honestly didn't care.

It was refreshing and Tony had to breathe in deeply. Beside him Loki cocked an eyebrow, but when Tony just shook his head Loki went back to staring at the water beneath them.

No, this wasn't Tony becoming a super villain. This was Tony embracing it.



{oOo}



Loki wrapped his arms around Tony's armoured neck and held on tight as Tony, in his Genesis suit, flew to Miami. Loki had thrown a glamour over the both of them so that when they touched down near Miami International Airport they didn't have to worry about being seen.

'Are you sure we only need my suit?' Tony asked after Loki had hopped off of his back. 'I can still call JARVIS, it'll just take him a few hours to get here. Two, tops.'

'I'm sure, Stark,' Loki said. He smoothed down his armour and his hair, using magic to slick the long black strands back. 'According to JARVIS this base is used more for transport than anything else. Security shouldn't be that heavy. And if it is, we will simply destroy them.'

Tony grinned and flipped his faceplate up. He and Loki were still invisible but they'd landed somewhere between the airport and the SHIELD base and Tony squinted through the bright Florida sun. Everything looked pretty much the same; large warehouses built close together, some joined, a tall, heavy iron fence topped with razor-wire, men and women dressed in casual cleaning gear wandering about sweeping and cleaning windows and tending to the few bushes and flowers.

'How are we doing this?' Tony asked.

'We've discussed this, Stark,' Loki said, looking amused. 'I blast my way in and you stay behind me. I'll then order you to go off on your own and find any explosives we can use the completely obliterate the compound.'

'Make sure it's in front of a few cameras,' Tony reminded him, 'we want Fury finding out and thinking that Genesis is in your control.'

Loki nodded and he and Tony walked towards one of the abandoned warehouses near the SHIELD base. They stepped behind it, hiding themselves from the base's view, and Loki withdrew the spell.

'Ready?' Loki asked.

'Oh, yeah ,' Tony breathed.

Loki grinned.



{oOo}



Agent Jarred Walker was getting sick of cleaning duty. He was a highly trained SHIELD agent and he'd spent the last six weeks cleaning windows, sweeping pathways, and tending to plants. Sometimes, as a treat, he was allowed to help scan the incoming cargo and sign-off on it. Joy.

Walker sighed and rubbed sweat from his face as he swept the broom across the pebbled pathway yet again. Agents tended not to wander around the compound during the day- they didn't want to advertise that there was a top-secret facility here, after all- but the slight breeze and the odd agent running back and forth still managed to track dirt and mud everywhere. How, Walker didn't know; and he knew better than to complain.

Walker was halfway down the path- and checking his watch to see how many minutes to go until his break- when the wall behind him exploded.

The loud boom and the following shock wave threw Walker off his feet. He hit the ground hard and shouted in pain as his ears rang; that didn't stop him from rolling and pulling his gun, his training kicking in even as his senses went haywire.

Walker swayed to his feet and flicked the safety off of his SI9 semi-automatic pistol. Dust and debris was raining down on the courtyard, blocking out the sun. Walker waved his free hand around his head but it didn't help, especially when another explosion rang out.

Walker managed to stay on his feet but had to duck and weave as concrete and iron rained down on him. A large chunk of the fence that had once surrounded the SHIELD compound landed just to his left, razor-wire still attached to the top. Crouching low, Walker stumbled to the right.

His comms chose that moment to burst into life, but the voices were drowned out by the loud, shrill alarm that suddenly pierced the day. Red lights started flashing around the area and agents dressed in black flooded out of the building closest to Walker.

'- anything. I repeat, do any of the outside agents have eyes on the intruder or intruders?' Walker's comms crackled slightly before going clear, and he heard the various agents positioned around the compound answer in the negative.

'Agent Walker, negative on eyes. I repeat, neg-'

Walker was grabbed by the back of the neck and slammed into the ground. All the air left his lungs and his gun went flying, the SI9 landing with a clatter on the ground just behind-

The human struggled, but Loki's grip was too strong. It was Loki Laufeyson, everybody within SHIELD knew; he was SHIELD's number one most wanted, considered a war criminal by every government agency in the world. Even the terrorists knew not to mess with him; more than one group had been wiped out when they decided to try and play with the God of Mischief and Lies.

'Stop fighting, Midgardian,' Loki said.

Walker went still, though his nails were still embedded in Loki's skin. Despite the grip Walker had on the god's hands, Loki wasn't bleeding.

'Very good,' Loki grinned. 'You'll by my first, Agent.'

'First what?' Walker demanded.

Loki's grin widened, showing sharp white teeth. 'My first kill, of course,' he purred. 'I have a little bet going with a friend of mine.' Walker started fighting again and Loki chose that moment to stand. He dropped Walker back to the ground and before the agent could move a large boot was pressing against his windpipe. He chocked and clawed, kicked and punched, but it was no use; Loki was too strong. 'Do be quiet, little one,' Loki said. 'You have no hope against me.'

A loudspeaker suddenly burst into life and Loki looked up as it announced, 'Loki Laufeyson, drop any weapons you have and raise your hands!' Loki cocked his head and turned again. Walker tried to follow his train of sight and vaguely saw about a dozen SHIELD agents, all dressed in black, forming a line across the front of the closest warehouse. They had S&F7 light machine guns cocked and pointed at the god, not that Loki seemed to care.

' We repeat, ' the loudspeaker said again, ' Loki Laufeyson, surrender yourself to SHIELD custody! Drop any weapons you have on your person, raise your hands, and get down on your knees! '

'You humans are so tedious,' Loki sighed. He looked back at Walker as he raised a hand and Walker watched, eyes wide, as a long silver spear appeared in the Trickster's right hand. The tip glowed green and Loki spun the weapon between his fingers. 'Goodbye, Agent,' Loki said.

The last thing Jarred Walker saw was the tip of Loki's spear heading straight for his eye.



{oOo}



Loki certainly didn't waste time. Tony flew over the wrecked fence just in time to see a dozen or so SHIELD agents open fire on Loki, who flickered out of existence. There was a dead agent on the ground, blood surrounding his head, and Tony cursed. 'Fuck you, Loki.'

'I'm hurt, Stark,' Loki purred over their comms. Loki hadn't wanted to wear them, but had admitted that being able to keep in touch with Tony during the fight could only be helpful. 'Three so far,' he said.

Tony laughed and turned into a dive, flying straight for the wall of SHIELD agents who had... 'Those fucking assholes,' he snarled. They were using Stark Industries S&F7 light machine guns; Tony had stopped making them well over three years ago.

'Problem?' Loki asked. Tony could vaguely hear gunfire and screams over Loki's side of the comms, and decided that it was time he got his own hands dirty.

'They're using my weapons,' Tony growled. 'Weapons my company used to make and sell. Fucking Fury!'

'Take your anger out on the little mortals, Anthony,' Loki suggested. 'I like watching the fear enter and leave their eyes.'

Tony grinned; yeah, this entire thing was so fucked up. Loki was enjoying himself. But, hell, Tony was enjoying himself, too, and he hadn't even killed anyone! Let's change that, he thought and spun over the SHIELD agents. About six turned and started firing at him but Tony's suits had always been bullet proof. The bullets bounced off of his armour and Tony raised a gauntlet, the repulsor already whirring.

Tony fired, watching as the green blast hit the ground amongst four SHIELD agents. The explosion threw them off their feet and wrenched one in half.

'Holy shit,' Tony breathed as he watched agents hit the ground, dead, one screaming and clutching at his knee where he'd once had a full leg.

'Problem?' Loki asked again. This time there was a hint of... of worry, in his voice; like he was worried that, suddenly faced with bloodshed and death, Tony would fail.

Tony didn't. He flicked up the guns mounted beneath his shoulder plates as his HUD locked onto the eight agents standing beneath him. Tony fired at them with a flick of his eyes, and made a mental note to design some type of nerve-related sensors that could be inserted into his muscles to make fighting much easier as the agents below him crumbled.

'That's eleven,' Tony said. 'Twelve if you count the guy with one leg.'

Loki appeared below him in a puff of green smoke and slapped the end of his spear across the injured agent's face. The man fell back, still screaming, but he was silenced when Loki stabbed him in the neck.

'I'm not,' Loki said. 'Nine.' He teleported away and Tony laughed.

'I'm winning, Lo,' he said and dropped to the ground.

'Ten,' was Loki's answer.

More agents were pouring out of the warehouse- more than Tony and Loki had assumed there would be- but it didn't matter. Tony gunned them all down or used his repulsors, and Loki flicked in and out of existence all over the place, using his spear to throw magic at various buildings and people. Sometimes, though, he liked slashing, stabbing, a deranged grin on his face as he cut one man's head clean off of his shoulders.

Tony twisted through the air as he fought, the agents' bullets no match for his armour. He'd just killed his eighteenth agent when he was blasted from the air by some type of weapon. The force of the blast sent him cartwheeling through the air and he crashed right into one of the warehouses. Metal and wood bent and cracked beneath him, the structure too weak to hold up against Tony's bulk.

Tony growled as he sat up. JARVIS was already running diagnostics and other than some paint scratches and faint bruises that Tony could feel already healing, both Tony and the suit were fine. Tony stumbled to his feet and out over the wreckage. The SHIELD agent who'd shot him had a large weapon, about the size of a rocket launcher. It shot some type of energy, though, rather than a missile, and the woman was already raising it again as Tony appeared.

The suit locked onto the weapon and just as she fired Tony launched himself into the air. The energy blast whistled beneath Tony and hit the warehouse, throwing up another shock wave and making Tony rock as he jetted over the female agent. She turned with Tony, managing to keep her feet beneath her, and aimed again.

Tony changed course at the last second and spun into a dive, quickly closing the distance between himself and his enemy. The HUD locked onto her and Tony opened fire just as she fired for a third time. The energy blast disintegrated Tony's bullets and forced Tony to change direction again. This time he kept going forward, spun around the woman, came up on her left; he slammed into her before she could move and both of them were thrown to the ground.

Unlike Tony, she wasn't wearing much protection; a bullet proof vest, a helmet, some thick-soled boots. When she hit the ground her head cracked open and Tony rolled aside, JARVIS informing him that there were more agents just behind him, their S&F7's raised and cocked.

'Sir, the agents are talking about you and Mr Lie-smith over their communicators,' JARVIS said as Tony ducked a barrage of fire. 'Would you like me to cut you into their feed?'

'Yeah, J,' Tony said. He lifted into the air once more and hovered, staring down at the agents as they continued to fire. Their bullets did nothing, not even when they hit the covering over the suit's arc reactor; Tony's armour was too smooth, too strong. They could do nothing.

'Connecting, sir,' JARVIS said, just before more voices joined, overlapping each other;

'It's Laufeyson, he has help.'

'What do you mean “he has help”?'

'A... a robot, sir, like Iron Man but- argh.'

'Davies? Davies?!'

'Dead, sir. Laufeyson has a robot like Iron Man but it's bigger, it fights differently.'

'Fuck's sake. Where the hell did Laufeyson get that?'

'Don't know, sir- take cover, take cover, LAUFEYSON'S BY WAREHOUSE D!'

'Shit, shit, fuck-'

The last voice was cut off by an explosion, and Tony saw it from where he was hovering just by the roof of the closest building. He grinned and had JARVIS cut the feed before turning his attention back to the agents below him.

Tony was purposely fighting just a tad differently to how he did as Iron Man. He wanted SHIELD to think that Loki had worked with someone- Doom, maybe- to make a robot as good or better than Iron Man. The design was similar, so why shouldn't the fighting style be? It would give Tony an excuse to get all pissed off at the Avengers when it was brought to his attention and he could throw them off of his scent.

Tony cocked his head, as though listening to something, and then moved forward. He used his hands to stabilise his flight as he stopped just above the SHIELD agents. There were four of them and two were still shooting at him, aiming for his repulsors. As if petty little bullets could cut through the particles.

Snorting, Tony flicked through the HUD with his eyes until he'd opened up his missile/grenade program. He only had fourteen small missiles and six grenades, but it was enough for this; flicking open the right shin-guard, Tony dropped a small grenade over the agents.

They screamed and dove for cover but it was too late; Tony shot further up as the grenade exploded, and he watched in satisfaction as all four agents were killed. A quick scan showed no life-signs in Tony's immediate area so he dropped to the ground.

Loki appeared almost immediately at his side. He was slightly out of breath but other than that he was unharmed, not even sweating. Stupid sexy Jötunn.

Loki pointed at the closest warehouse and said, 'Go inside and destroy everything. Find their explosives and finish it.'

'Yes, sir,' Tony quipped over the comms, making Loki roll his eyes. Tony blasted his way into the warehouse and whistled once there; the building had been divided into two floors, with partitions put up as walls. According to the schematics JARVIS had stolen there was even a basement built beneath the far warehouse which held all of the weapons and explosives SHIELD had delivered to the base.

That was where Tony needed to be; this wasn't just about killing all of SHIELD's agents, it was about ripping the organisation apart and obliterating everything they owned. When Tony and Loki were done here, SHIELD's Miami base would no longer exist.

Tony had an easy time inside; he simply walked, using a repulsor to blast aside any agent he came across. 'JARVIS, give me the base's blueprints,' Tony said. They appeared on the HUD a second later and Tony followed them through the compound and then down into the basement.

Before Tony could step further in there was a long, loud whining noise, a flash of light, and then an explosion; the blast hit Tony in the chest and tossed him back into the wall, the thud of Tony's suit hitting the concrete wall echoing throughout the basement.



{oOo}



Seven... eight... Loki teleported over the injured man and silenced him with a stab to the neck. 'I don't,' he said to Tony. 'Nine.'

He teleported away again, appearing around the other side of the compound. There were more agents here and Loki threw up a shield, the bullets hitting his magic and rebounding. Some hit the agents firing and they fell, injured, while others dove aside, taking cover behind various vehicles and walls.

'I'm winning, Lo,' Anthony said over the comms.

Loki smirked as he threw a dagger, hitting a Midgardian in the chest with enough force to end his life. 'Ten,' was his answer. Tony didn't reply but Loki heard explosions and repulsor blasts from the other side of the base and assumed Anthony was busy.

There were a lot of mortals scurrying about, all of them with large weapons that Tony had claimed were his. Loki wondered if, in the end, Fury would truly be surprised that Tony had changed sides; Fury lied to him, stole from him, and was still trying to steal from him. Fury was practically asking for Anthony's betrayal.

Loki's thoughts soon turned to the battle only; the mortals were surrounding him, trying to take him down with sheer numbers. Loki kept count as he stabbed, hacked, and blasted them all aside.

Fifteen... eighteen... twenty-three... twenty-five...

One agent attacked Loki directly, his gun aimed at Loki's chest. The bullets hit Loki's armour and ricochetted away, Loki's face twisting into a dark grin as he swung at the man. The mortal managed to duck the first few blows, aided by his comrades continuing to fire at Loki with their little toys.

But Loki was a god and had been battling for a thousand years; he swept his spear across the man's torso and watched in satisfaction as the man's uniform and protective gear ripped open. Blood and innards fell out and the agent screamed as he dropped to his knees. Loki took pity on him and slashed at the human's throat until he fell onto his back, body twitching as his life slowly ended.

Twenty-six .

When Loki had finished killing or mortally injuring the agents on this side of the compound, he teleported back to Tony. The Genesis suit was standing about three feet from one of the warehouse's doors, and Loki dropped to stand at Tony's side.

'Go inside and destroy everything,' Loki ordered, pointing at the door. 'Find their explosives and finish it.'

' Yes, sir ,' Tony said over the comms and Loki rolled his eyes. Having SHIELD see Loki as being the one in charge was Stark's plan. Why he insisted on acting like an idiot was anyone's guess.

Tony stormed his way into the warehouse and soon the sounds of him gunning down SHIELD agents grew dim, then faded all together. That left Loki free to hunt down the rest of the agents outside and destroy every building he came across.

There were small sheds set up between the paths and clumps of dirt, and each held a hiding SHIELD agent. Every single one Loki killed was screaming into their comms demanding back-up or ordering that Director Fury be called. Loki grinned each time he killed a Midgardian, the tally in his mind growing taller and taller.

Loki let his magic free, searching for life-forms, and found one last agent sitting in a small building near the fence. There were more agents inside the warehouse but Loki decided to leave those for Tony.

Teleporting into the shed, Loki found the agent hanging over a console, a communication unit hooked over his head.

'This is SHIELD Miami Base. I repeat, Base S-M-Zero-Zero-Eight. We are under attack, I repeat, we are under attack! Two intruders have killed almost everyone and the base-'

The man cut himself off as Loki stabbed him in the back. The god watched, head tilted, as blood bubbled up the mortal's throat and spilled out of his mouth, staining his lips, chin and then his neck red. Loki slowly removed his spear and watched the mortal slump over the computer console. Loki kicked him aside and was about to leave when a speaker on the desk burst into life;

' Miami base? Base S-M-Zero-Zero-Eight come in, please. This is Director Fury from the Helicarrier, I order you to come in .'

Loki grinned and pushed the dead mortal out of his seat and took it himself. He grabbed the communicator and slipped his helmet off before putting the headset on. 'This is SHIELD Miami base, how may I help you today?' Loki drawled.

There was a pause before Fury ordered, ' Identify yourself .'

'Why, Director, have you forgotten me so soon?' Loki asked, effecting an air of hurt. 'I know I have been remiss in my actions lately, but I thought that this would bring us back together. Surely you've missed me.'

Another pause before Fury snarled, ' Loki .'

'The one and only,' Loki grinned. 'Now, Director, I'm sure you have plans to send a few more SHIELD agents this way to deal with me. However, before you get here this base will be destroyed. I have already killed all of your agents, and soon I will blow this place up. Please don't build here again, Director, I'll just come back.'

' Loki, ' Fury growled, ' surrender now. You can't win against SHIELD .'

'Can't I?' Loki laughed. 'How many agents have I killed, Fury? And how many times have you captured me ? How about I don't surrender; why should I make it easy for you, hmm? Instead I'll stay out here, destroying what I please, and you and your cute little mortal pets can try and stop me. Deal?'

' Loki -'

'Deal,' Loki cut in and pulled the headset off. Fury continued to shout from the speaker, demanding Loki's words, but Loki lifted a hand and blasted the entire shed apart with magic. He smiled in satisfaction before turning and heading for the warehouse. Perhaps Stark needed his help.



{oOo}



'Mother fucker,' Tony growled and sat up. They'd hit him with that fucking blaster gun that Coulson had used against Loki back when the Trickster had invaded; it had been bigger than the one that female agent had used earlier. Tony didn't know what the fuck it was made out of, but the blast had been enough to throw him off his feet and send some of his circuits shorting. The arc reactor was practically bomb-proof, though, and within seconds of getting hit Tony was on his feet again.

The basement was dark, so Tony activated the suit's infrared. The HUD's lights changed and Tony picked out the heat sources of the five... six... eight SHIELD agents cowering away in the corners like rats.

'Hello, there,' Tony hummed to himself. He had enough bullets left to take them out and watched with a grin as his suit locked onto each heat source, then fired.

All the bodies dropped and Tony paused for a beat, watching for movement, before moving on when he realised he was alone.

After some potting about and bumping into things, Tony found SHIELD's grenades and rocket launchers and all the other Stark Industries-made weapons that Fury had apparently been stockpiling. Tony scowled and muttered, 'Serves you right, jack-hole,' to himself as he bundled everything up into the centre of the room.

'Genesis?'

That was Loki's voice and Tony frowned, wondering what had happened to the comms. He stood and turned just in time to see Loki throw a ball of light into the air, illuminating the room.

'There you are,' Loki said. 'I tried contacting you through the communicators but you didn't answer.' He waved his hand and then smiled. 'Speak freely, I've wiped out all the security measures in this room.'

Tony put his suit on speaker and said, 'I got blasted by some energy-gun.' He pointed over his shoulder and Loki frowned, moving deeper into the room. 'Try and find it, would you? It messed with my suit and I wanna fucking stop it next time.'

Loki nodded and started inspecting each body. After a few minutes he came back carrying a large gun, both bigger and heavier than the one Coulson had used well over a year ago.

Maybe SHIELD have been working on improving it, Tony mused before shaking his head. 'Throw it over your back, we're taking it with us,' he instructed Loki.

Loki did as asked. 'Are you almost done here?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'Just setting a timer.' He'd brought a few with him, hidden beneath his armour. He stuck one into the block of C4 he'd found stacked against one wall and grinned. 'SHIELD's got some good shit,' he said.

'Next time we'll take some with us,' Loki suggested.

'Or I can build some weapons,' Tony said. 'I am an expert, you know.'

Loki rolled his eyes and moved on; 'Are we done here?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'Just gotta press the big green button.'

'Hurry along; I spoke to Fury earlier and I don't doubt that he's sending reinforcements.'

'You spoke to Fury?' Tony pouted. 'Damn, I wish I hadn't missed that.'

'He'll call the Avengers together on a later date to discuss this,' Loki reminded him; Tony grinned at the thought. 'Come on, Stark.'

Tony set the timer for three minutes then followed Loki from the basement. Rather than make their way through the warehouse, the two just joined forces and blew their way out. The sun was still high in the sky but there was smoke and dirt lingering in the air; a few small fires were burning atop various boxes and cars, and Tony could see blood and bodies slumped every which way.

'Are you okay?' Loki asked.

'Yeah,' Tony said. 'Yeah, Loki, I'm fine,' he insisted. 'I don't care about these people. They chose to work for SHIELD. SHIELD's my enemy. Fuck them.'

'Very well,' Loki said. He moved closer and wrapped his arms around Tony. 'Hold on.'

Tony did, and between one blink and the he and Loki had moved, now standing across the road where they'd first appeared.

'We're invisible,' Loki said, waving a hand. His helmet disappeared and Tony followed suit, deciding to flip up his faceplate so he could watch the SHIELD base blow up.

In less than a minute the two gods could hear sirens; the mortal police showing up to figure out what the fuck was going on.

'Are we far enough away, JARVIS?' Tony asked. 'I don't wanna get caught in the explosion.'

There was a pause as JARVIS calculated it and the police finally pulled up. Tony watched, head tilted, while beside him Loki smirked.

'I would suggest moving further away, sir,' JARVIS eventually said.

'Loki?' Tony looked up at the taller god, who nodded and clambered onto Tony's back. Tony shot smoothly into the air, moving up and back, keeping the SHIELD base in sight. They were about three hundred feet away when JARVIS started speaking into Tony's ear again;

'Ten... nine... eight... seven... six...'

'Watch, Loki,' Tony said. Loki moved further up Tony's back and rested his head against Tony's, their eyes trained on the compound.

'Three... two... one-'

The explosion was massive. One second the compound was still there, various warehouses grouped together, the outer area still on fire, and the next it just exploded. Fire and smoke and debris was blasted up and out; the surrounding area was showered in crap, some of it still burning.

The shock wave rocked Tony and Loki just a bit, but not enough to throw them from the air. Loki tapped Tony on the forehead and pointed down, Tony's eyes flicking to find the police cars; they'd been thrown through the air and were now on their roofs or sides, on fire or blasted beyond use, sirens still whirring in some cases.

'Wow,' Tony breathed. It was bigger than the explosion Tony had caused escaping the Ten Rings, but nowhere near as big as the Jericho Missile. Tony grinned as he imagined just aiming a missile at each SHIELD base and blowing them up that way.

But where's the fun in that? he mused.

'We should leave,' Loki said, pulling Tony from his thoughts. 'We wouldn't want to overstay our welcome.'

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. 'Okay.'

He flipped his faceplate down and felt Loki's grip tighten just before he turned and blasted through the air, leaving the SHIELD base- or what was left of it- behind.



{oOo}



By the time they made it back to Malibu Tony was vibrating with adrenalin. Their plan had gone well, SHIELD's Miami base was gone, and they'd even gotten a new weapon out of it. Loki teleported them into the mansion and Tony peeled his suit off, watching it fold into itself until it was sitting on the floor, a simple box instead of a killing machine.

Loki pulled his armour off the old-fashioned way, looking tired from their recent venture. Tony managed to wait until Loki was standing in just his leather pants to pounce. He slammed Loki into the wall, the Trickster gasping when the cold concrete pressed against his back.

'Anthony-' he began, but Tony cut him off. He crushed their mouths together, the kiss all sloppy lips and biting teeth. Loki gasped again before turning it into a groan. He made another soft noise against Tony's lips before curling a hand through Tony's hair and twisting.

Tony broke away with a grunt and shuddered as he rolled his hips against Loki's. 'Sorry,' he murmured, 'but fuck, Loki, that was... it was...'

'I know,' Loki breathed. He tugged at Tony's hair again, brought the younger god's face up so that he could whisper his words against Tony's beard. 'You will have to do all the work, Anthony,' he purred. 'I'm far too tired.'

Tony shivered again and wet his lips. 'Bedroom?'

Loki nodded and wrapped his arms firmly around Tony. He teleported them right onto Tony's bed, Loki heaving in a breath as they landed.

'You okay?' Tony asked. He shifted a bit to make sure that he wasn't hurting Loki, but Loki just nodded and wrapped his legs firmly around the inventor's waist.

'Fuck me, Stark,' he growled. 'I want you now.'

That was one order that Tony could definitely get on board with. He ducked down to give Loki a quick, sloppy kiss before he pulled back. He got his undersuit off as quickly as possible, eyes drinking in Loki's body when the god shimmied out of his leather pants. His boots went flying over Tony's shoulder, one hitting the dresser and sending something crashing to the floor.

Tony didn't care, though. He just shoved his undersuit off and climbed back atop Loki, both gods moaning as their hard cocks came into contact. Tony rolled his hips down and Loki thrust up, erections sliding together as their mouths did the same.

Tony didn't know what to do first; he didn't want to move away from Loki's cool, slick mouth, but he wanted to bury himself in Loki's tight ass. His cock felt good, though, sliding along Loki's thinner, longer one, the foreskin something Tony wasn't used to. He liked exploring it with his tongue, licking and slurping and sliding into and over the slit, watching as Loki lost himself the longer Tony sucked and hummed.

God, now he wanted to give Loki a blow job.

Loki growled beneath him and thrust up again. He wrapped his legs around Tony's waist, crossing his ankles over Tony's lower back. Loki used his strength- still greater than Tony's- to force Tony down until the Midgardian's cock was sliding beneath his balls, against his ass.

'Fuck me, Anthony,' he repeated, green eyes bright and locked onto Tony's.

'Okay, okay, fuck,' Tony grunted.

Loki smirked as Tony moved to open the bedside drawer. He grabbed the large bottle of lube and moved back over to Loki. Loki watched, eyes half-closed, while Tony opened the bottle and squeezed a generous amount onto one palm. He dribbled some of the gel over Loki's perineum and further down, over his hole, watching as the muscles flinched at the cool liquid.

'Okay?' Tony asked.

'Stark,' Loki sighed and let his legs fall further open. 'If you don't prepare me and fuck me within the next twenty seconds I shall do it myself.'

Loki had done that before, plenty of times, when he'd felt that Tony was being too slow. Sometimes Tony had even dawdled, waiting and waiting until Loki lost his patience, flipped Tony onto his back, and mounted him, chasing his own pleasure.

Tony didn't want that this time; he was too hyped up, his hands almost shaking. He needed to fuck Loki, get rid of this energy, bask in the fucking amazing feeling that came with having sex with Loki and destroying SHIELD.

He dropped the bottle and slid his fingers along Loki's balls, then further down, rubbing and warming the lube before sliding one finger in. Loki had excellent control of his muscles but he still needed prep. Loki's head fell back onto the pillows as Tony stretched him open, the Trickster moaning and hissing as Tony's fingers plunged deeper and deeper in, scissoring to work Loki's hole further open.

'Anthony!' Loki growled when Tony had just added a fourth digit. 'Now!'

Tony didn't need to be told again; he grabbed the lube, slicked up his cock, dribbled more over Loki's entrance, then pushed in.

Loki hissed as Tony bottomed out after one smooth, slick push. Tony bent over Loki and groaned, eyes squeezed shut and body tense.

'Anthony,' Loki sighed, drawing his attention, 'fuck me hard and fast, then after I rest I will bathe and you will feed me. Understand?'

Tony snorted. Even when he was on top Loki was still in charge. He had to do something about that.

'Shut up and hold on,' Tony said as he drew out. Loki raised an eyebrow, opened his mouth, but whatever he was about to say was cut off by Tony slamming back in.

Loki grunted, then hummed, then finally cried out as Tony quickly set up a smooth, if somewhat shaky, rhythm. Tony was too horny, too wired, to put in the usual care he did. Loki didn't seem to mind, though, if the grunts and moans and begs for, “More, more, more !” were anything to go by. Tony only had to change his angle three times before he found Loki's prostate. Loki shouted Tony's name when he did and wrapped his arms firmly around Tony's neck, his legs around Tony's waist, all four limbs pulling Tony closer and closer.

Tony groaned as he fucked into Loki. God, he was gorgeous, all warm skin, a pretty flush working down his neck and across his smooth chest. Loki only ever felt hot when he was Logan Thomas, and Tony preferred this- the black hair, bright green eyes, dark grin and beautiful, cool skin- so much more over Logan. Logan wasn't Loki, not the real Loki. And the real Loki was who Tony wanted.

Just him , Tony thought as he thrust in harder, harder, his balls slapping against Loki's ass. Loki was clawing at his back now, nails sharp and digging up bruises and skin that would heal within minutes. Fuck , Tony thought, or maybe it was out loud, because Loki nodded and started swearing under his breath. Just Loki, just Loki, always Loki -

Something inside Tony's chest snapped and magic flooded his body. Tony's gasp and, 'What the-' was cut off by the sheer amount of pleasure that suddenly spread through his veins and blood and muscles and... and everything . His magic folded over itself, grew, licked at Tony's skin and by extension Loki's. But Loki felt so cold, yet so hot, cold-hot-cold-hot-there!

Tony slammed in one last time and, pushed by whatever the fuck his magic was doing, came harder than he ever had before. His vision whited out and his body spasmed and it felt like his skin was on fire. It tingled and throbbed and Tony fell forward before he could stop himself, landing on Loki.

Loki didn't seem to be doing any better. Tony could hear him grunting and cursing, his muscles tightening around Tony's spent cock. ' Stark ,' he growled. Tony managed to get one hand between them, wrap it around Loki's cock, and pull.

His magic sang again, it throbbed, and it somehow made it past Loki's magical defences- and how the fuck had Tony ever missed the protection Loki had coating his very skin ?- and sank into him. Loki shouted himself hoarse as he orgasmed, come slicking Tony's first and Loki's stomach. Loki moaned and shook beneath Tony and it took a long, long time for either god to come down from their high.

When they did Tony became aware of the fact that he was still sprawled out over Loki. He managed to roll off to the side, thumping onto the mattress and groaning.

'Fuck.'

'Yes,' Loki agreed.

'What was that?' Tony asked, voice muffled slightly by the sheets beneath him.

Loki sighed and Tony heard him move, but didn't bother lifting his head to see. 'What were you thinking?' Loki questioned. 'Just before you climaxed?'

'Uh...' Tony frowned and thought back. Fuck, best sex ever . Tony's brain was scrambled, it really was. 'Uh...' he tried again, 'I think, um... I was just thinking about you.'

'Me?'

Tony nodded- or tried to, whatever. 'Yeah, I was... thinking of how cold your skin is, even after we have sex. But when you're Logan Thomas you're hot, like a human. I was just thinking about how I like you better this way.'

Loki was silent so Tony decided it was time to roll over and face him. He managed to after a bit of grunting and internal swearing. Jesus, what the fuck had his magic done to him?

Loki was staring at him, eyes narrowed, but there was... hope? Worry? Something , in his eyes. 'Lo?'

'You were thinking about me?' Loki questioned.

Tony nodded.

'I see,' Loki said.

'What's that mean?'

Loki sighed and reached up to rub his eyes. 'It means that you are more in touch with your magic than I thought you would be at this point.' His eyes narrowed slightly. 'Or perhaps your magic is just more in touch with mine than I thought it was.'

'What?'

'A connection,' Loki muttered, looking torn between annoyance and... hope. Tony was sure it was hope. 'We have a... connection, that I haven't told you about yet.'

Tony frowned and sat up to lean on one elbow. 'What are you talking about?'

'Come here,' Loki said, holding an arm open. Tony stared at him, but when he saw that same worry-hope shining in Loki's eyes he decided fuck it and moved closer. Loki's arm curled around him, cool and safe, and Tony's magic settled somewhere behind his arc reactor. Tony breathed out and pressed his face to Loki's chest. 'For now I will tell you that we are connected. It doesn't affect you in any way... well, it doesn't have to affect you in any way.'

Tony frowned again. 'And what about you?'

Loki chuckled slightly. 'I will, as always, be fine.'

'Loki, you're confusing me. Wanna speak English?'

Loki pinched his arm and Tony slapped the Trickster's stomach. 'I will explain it properly soon,' Loki finally said. His voice was thick with promise, Tony could hear it. But there was also that worry, underlying everything Loki said, everything Loki did . For some reason, even now, Loki was worried about... something . 'Just rest for now, Anthony,' Loki said. 'I'm tired, too. I will explain everything after we wake and eat.'

Tony wanted to push- wanted to know what the fuck was going on, what had just happened, what the hell Loki was talking about- but... yeah, Loki needed the sleep; he'd used a lot of magic in the past twenty-four hours, and Tony didn't want him burning himself out.

Tony would wait, for now. But later he'd sit Loki down and get the full fucking story out of him.

I knew he was hiding something , Tony mused as he let his eyes shut. Whatever it is, I'll deal. It's not like I'm letting him go . Tony yawned. Beside him, Loki was already asleep.

Chapter Text

'So...' Tony hummed into what was becoming a nice after-glow, 'connection?'

Loki grunted beside him, and made no move to get up or, you know, explain what the fuck had just happened.

'Loki,' Tony nudged him. The Trickster huffed and swatted at him. 'Hey, you said you'd explain what happened,' Tony reminded him. 'Preferably as soon as possible, 'cause it kinda freaked me out.'

Loki sighed and finally peeled his eyes open. He looked at Tony, green eyes bright, and then huffed; 'Very well.' He pulled himself up, acting like it took all the effort in the world, and used his nimble fingers to sweep his hair to one side. 'You may want to get dressed,' Loki said as he braided his hair messily, tying it off at the end.

'Why?' Tony asked.

Loki tilted his head, then slid from the bed; they hadn't bothered getting under the covers before fucking. 'Because I'm not sure how you'll react to what I have to say,' Loki told him.

Tony just stared at him for a beat, but when Loki himself started getting dressed Tony shrugged and stood. He had to go hunting for tissues to clean himself up, and when he re-entered the room Loki was dressed and sitting cross-legged on the bed, hands clasped in his lap. He waited for Tony to dress, the genius tugging on well-worn jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.

'Okay,' Tony said, 'I'm dressed.' He jumped onto the bed and sat against the headboard, legs stretched before him. 'Explain.'

Statement, not a question, and Loki gave him a small frown.

'You said that you were thinking about me,' Loki began, 'when you climaxed.'

Tony rolled his eyes at the wording but nodded.

'And you have stated that your magic... reacts, when I'm around,' Loki added.

'Uh... yeah, I guess you could phrase it like that,' Tony said. 'My chest- or that area behind my chest? Where I kinda feel my magic?' Loki inclined his head. 'Yeah, that goes all... warm and...' Tony trailed off and pursed his lips; he wasn't sure how to explain it properly. 'It's just a... a feeling,' Tony said, 'like my magic knows when you're near and gets all... fuzzy and excited. It doesn't happen all the time, just sometimes.' Loki raised an eyebrow and Tony poked his tongue out.

'Stop being a child,' Loki said.

'Stop giving me the eyebrow-of-judgement,' Tony retorted. Loki's other eyebrow joined the first and Tony snorted. 'Whatever,' he shrugged, 'that's the best I can explain it, alright? If you want a better understanding, go ahead and crawl around my mindscape and see for yourself.'

Loki frowned at that, eyes narrowed, but then he shook whatever he'd been thinking from his head.

'No, I don't think that I should,' he said.

'Why not?'

'I was explaining it before we went on a tangent about your magic,' Loki replied. 'You're more in touch with your magic than I thought you would be at this point.'

Tony remembered Loki mentioned that half-an-hour ago.

'I don't mean that you're more powerful than I thought you would be,' Loki continued, 'simply that you've managed to connect to your magic far more quickly and thoroughly than I thought. You shouldn't have reached this point for a few more months at least.' He pursed his lips again and stared over Tony's shoulder- at the window, Tony assumed, where you could see the ocean.

'Okay...' Tony said slowly, just to break the silence.

Once again Loki shook his head. His eyes darted over Tony briefly before resting on the rumpled bedspread, and Tony frowned; was this really that hard for Loki to talk about?

Apparently it was, because Loki suddenly slid off the bed and started pacing, his braid bouncing along his collarbone, hands clasped behind his back.

'This wasn't supposed to happen,' he said. 'I am not Æsir; I shouldn't be able to form this type of connection.'

'What connection?' Tony interrupted.

'This!' Loki hissed and pointed between them.

'Loki, I have no fucking idea what you're talking about!' Tony said. 'I thought you were gonna explain?'

'If I do you'll leave!' Loki shouted.

'What? Why the hell would I do that?'

'BECAUSE EVERYBODY DOES!'

'Oookay...' Tony whistled and held his hands up. Loki was panting, his cheeks pink, eyes wild... it was a good look on him when they were fucking, but not when they were having a goddamn conversation. 'Easy, Lokes, just calm down, alright?' Loki scowled at him and went back to pacing, but at least he wasn't yelling any more. 'Alright,' Tony cleared his throat, 'I'm just gonna say this upfront before we talk about anything else. I'm never going to leave you, Loki.'

Loki sneered at him.

'I'm not,' Tony repeated. 'Not only do I like you , you idiot, but we have a business contract, a magical one , that says we'll always have each other's backs.'

'Yes, a business deal,' Loki muttered.

Tony just raised his eyebrows, but Loki took a deep breath and shook his head.

'It matters not,' he decided, 'you deserve an explanation.'

Hell yeah I do, Tony thought but didn't say. Loki looked like he was about to blow something up. Tony didn't want to... push him over the edge, so to speak, with his smart ass remarks.

Loki stopped pacing but didn't sit; he just stood at the end of the bed and looked down at Tony, wringing his hands. 'I know why your magic reacts the way it does around me,' he eventually revealed.

Tony snorted. 'I knew it,' he muttered, then grinned at the shocked look Loki was sporting. 'Oh come on , Rudolph. You always acted weird when I brought it up! I might not be a master liar like you, but I'm not an idiot . I spend half my time lying to people and the members of my board. And Pepper. And the Avengers. And -'

'Yes, I get it,' Loki interrupted, voice a drawl, 'you're a fantastic liar.'

'Not a master, though,' Tony quipped.

Loki rolled his eyes towards the ceiling, as though praying for patience. Tony hummed at that. Did the Æsir pray to people? Did gods have gods?

Loki wrapped his arms around himself, drawing Tony from his thoughts.

'Loki?'

'When we first discovered your magic, and you viewed it for the first time,' Loki said, 'my magic reacted rather... explosively. Do you remember?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded, 'Thor shut down the Tower and the Avengers burst in like the assholes they are.'

'My magic felt... connected to yours immediately,' Loki explained. And there was that word again, Tony mused. 'That isn't something that normally happens, at least not this quickly,' Loki said. 'When my mother helped me better understand my magic, and when she taught me everything she knew, my magic shied away from her until I was roughly 700 years old. Only after centuries of us working together did my magic accept her as friend, then as family.'

'Okay...' Tony said, 'so we're just really compatible?'

'Extremely compatible,' Loki said.

'And that's a problem?'

'It is because our magic will just get closer,' Loki said. 'The longer we work together, spend time together, sleep together... the longer we practise magic together, it will get harder and harder to stop our magic from bonding us.'

'Whoa, wait!' Tony held a hand up and Loki's jaw snapped shut. 'Bond us? What the hell does that mean?'

'What does it sound like it means?' Loki growled. 'A bond! An attraction! Our magic will lock us together because it has decided that we're compatible, that we should be together!'

'Is this, like... magic-married or something?' Tony demanded. 'Is that what you're telling me?'

'Yes!' Loki snapped. 'Now you know why I didn't want to tell you! Being magically bonded is nothing to play with, Stark! We will both live for at least 5000 years, you Midgardians barely know how to stay married for thirty. If we bonded we could never stray from the other, our magic wouldn't allow it. We could be with others if we wished, but the discomfort caused by our magic would force us to eventually reconnect.'

Tony... had no fucking idea what to say to that. He'd never, not once in his entire life, considered getting married. Getting magic-married didn't sound any better. Actually, it sounded far more fucking permanent than a simple Midgardian marriage.

And what the fuck, why would his magic choose Loki? Wait, that wasn't the question he should be asking, because Loki was brilliant and gorgeous and fucking insane; of course Tony's magic would wanna... magic-bond with him.

But Loki's magic? Loki called it a connection, meaning that his magic had chosen Tony. Why? Tony wasn't anything special, not really; not when compared to Loki, a 1000+ year-old Jötunn mage.

Tony opened his mouth but stalled, still having no idea what to say. Loki didn't push him; he just sat on the bed, eyes darting around the room, fingers picking at his leather pants.

Tony didn't get a chance to try again, because his landline chose that moment to ring, startling the two gods, who flushed when they caught each other's eyes. 'I'm, uh...' Tony coughed, 'gonna get that.'

Loki just nodded and Tony jumped from the bed and jogged across the room. The slim black device read “Stark Tower” and Tony groaned; what the fuck did the Avengers want now?

'This is Tony,' he said when he answered.

'Tony, thank God,' Rogers said. He sounded frantic. 'I was worried you'd be out.'

'Nope, just spent the last few hours sleeping, eating, and fucking,' Tony said. Steve muttered something that Tony couldn't hear. 'What's up, Spangles?'

'I know that you're on vacation,' Rogers said, 'but we need you back.'

'What do you mean you need me back?' Tony demanded. 'I just got to Malibu!'

'I know,' Steve replied, 'but there was an attack and Fury wants every Avenger in New York.'

'What attack?' Tony asked, trying to inject some concern into his voice. He wasn't sure he managed it.

There was a pause before Rogers said, 'Loki attacked a SHIELD base.'

Tony grinned, but quickly wiped it from his face. Rogers couldn't see him, but the man was perceptive; Tony didn't want the soldier hearing his humour. 'An attack? What base?'

'Miami,' Rogers said. 'Look, Tony, just come back to New York. Fury wants to discuss this with us in person.'

'I thought Fury wanted me to take a break,' Tony said, throwing Rogers' words back at him.

'I know, and we- the team- still think that it was a good idea,' Rogers said, 'but Loki somehow found the location of a SHIELD base and completely wiped it off the map. He killed over seventy agents in twenty minutes.'

Tony breathed out heavily and hoped Rogers took it as a sign of anger at Loki, rather than anger at Rogers himself. 'Okay, fine,' he grunted. 'It'll fly to the Helicarrier in the suit, just send the coordinates to my StarkPhone and I'll have JARVIS input them into the HUD.'

'Thank you, Tony,' Rogers said. 'If I can I'll make sure that you get to take another break soon. Fury just wants us to stay in New York in case Loki attacks again.'

'Got it,' Tony said, and hung up before Rogers could reply. He rolled his eyes and turned to face Loki, who hadn't moved from where he was sitting on the end of the bed. 'I gotta head back to New York.'

'I gathered,' Loki said. 'We knew this might happen.'

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. 'I'll go in my Iron Man suit. You should take the jet back to New York as Logan, just in case SHIELD's keeping an eye on you.'

Loki nodded and stood, going towards the bathroom.

'Loki.' The older god paused before looking over his shoulder. 'We're gonna discuss this more when I get back, okay?' Tony said. 'I need to think about it, and I'm still a bit confused over... well, everything, but... this isn't gonna ruin us, okay?'

Loki looked surprised that Tony wanted to discuss it, and Tony couldn't blame him; he usually ran at the first sign of feelings, but this... this was too important to ignore. He and Loki had to sit down and talk everything over and deal with it. They had too much to lose.

'Very well,' Loki said. 'I shall wait for you to contact me.'

Tony nodded and Loki went into the bathroom, leaving Tony to collect his undersuit and anything else he might need.



{oOo}



He flew his Iron Man suit to the Helicarrier, leaving it up to Loki to transport the Genesis suit back to New York. When he arrived Steve was waiting for him and waved when Tony landed before him, the suit peeling off of him and folding itself into a suitcase at his feet.

'I really am sorry about this, Tony,' Rogers said.

Tony just nodded. He still didn't know if Rogers knew- if he was aware of Fury's grand plan to get Tony's suits. He was clearly aware of the so-called “need” to get Tony off the team, but the rest of it? Well, Tony didn't know. Quite frankly, he didn't care, because Rogers was an asshole who couldn't see past his old friendship with Howard Stark. Tony often wondered if his dad had been in love with Rogers, what with the way the man had always fucking gone on and on about the Captain.

Rogers led Tony through the Helicarrier and into a large conference room. The rest of the Avengers were already there, and Tony briefly wondered if Rogers had been sent to escort him; Tony could have found the room himself, he'd designed the Helicarrier, after all. Maybe Fury didn't trust him not to run off and take a peek at everything.

Yeah, it'd have to be Loki who broke in to get the locations of the rest of SHIELD's bases. It seemed like Tony wasn't going to be left alone long enough to get them himself.

Romanov and Barton were sitting next to each other, with Bruce on Clint's other side, Thor and Fury opposite them. Romanov had a dark blue cast on her right arm and Tony quickly looked away; wouldn't do to laugh.

'Alright, I'm here,' Tony said as he sat at the end of the table. He shoved his suit between his legs and leaned on the table. Coulson was opposite him, though wasn't sitting; just standing there, between Fury and Bruce, hands clasped behind his back. 'What happened?' Tony asked.

Fury briefly described the attack- Loki had turned up, had destroyed everything, and had had some type of robot or suit with him. Tony frowned at that bit, played the part of the confused/pissed-off genius he needed SHIELD to think he was.

Fury had footage and gestured for Coulson to play it. The TV behind the agent was switched on and Coulson stepped aside so that they could all watch.

Everybody was silent as footage of the burning complex appeared on the screen. Genesis had been caught on tape a lot more than Loki; the cameras seemed to go grainy whenever Loki appeared, and then they cut to black. Tony wondered if Loki had been actively destroying them, or if his magic had just interfered with the CCTV cameras.

Finally, after a few minutes, the footage of Loki calling Tony “Genesis” out-loud played across the screen, and Coulson paused the footage. Everybody turned to look at Fury, who said, 'We don't know how Loki found this base. Our biggest concern is finding a possible mole within SHIELD, or a breach in SHIELD's computers.' He paused. 'Our other big concern is the robot that Loki has with him, which he called Genesis.'

'It had a lot of fire-power and could move independently, away from Loki,' Coulson added.

There was silence until Romanov broke it. She leaned back and folded her good arm over her stomach, tucking it beneath her cast. 'It looks like Iron Man,' she stated, 'only without the arc reactor.'

Tony felt his insides go cold when all eyes turned to him. He continued to stare at the screen, where Genesis had been caught with Loki, just about to head into the warehouse to finish off the rest of the agents.

'Excuse me?' he finally growled and turned to look at her.

Despite his tone, Romanov met his gaze coolly. 'That robot Loki has looks a lot like Iron Man. Why is that?'

'Why is... wait.' Tony leaned forward and spread one palm over the table. 'Are you implying that I gave Loki the Iron Man technology?'

'No, Tony!' Steve was quick to jump in, verbally putting himself between Tony and Natasha before they could come to blows. 'That's not what Natasha's insinuating.'

'Isn't it?' Tony demanded.

'No,' Romanov answered, but Tony could see the lie in her eyes, in the set of her mouth. She didn't know for sure, but she already didn't trust Tony. She'd always been the most vocal in regards to comparing Tony Stark to Loki Laufeyson, Tony knew from all the hacking he'd done. She had her suspicions. 'But the suit, which Loki called Genesis, bears an awful resemblance to Iron Man. We know for a fact that Loki doesn't understand our technology enough to build one himself. So he either got someone who understands it very well to build it for him, or he got it from the source.'

Tony leapt to his feet and Steve did too. Bruce, Thor and Clint were all watching him and Natasha wearily. 'What the fuck are you implying?' Tony practically shouted. 'If one of my suits went missing, I'd know it. Nobody can get past JARVIS, and the security protecting my suits is the best on the planet!

'There is not a chance in hell that Loki got my technology!' Tony snapped. 'And I wouldn't fucking give it to him! Despite what you think of me, Romanov, I'm not a fucking super villain! If Loki took over the planet he'd destroy it! I'm actually rather fond of living and don't have a goddamn death wish! I wouldn't help that psychotic son of a bitch any more than you would!'

'Alright, everybody, calm down!' Rogers ordered, his Captain America voice on. Tony continued to glare at Romanov, who just stared at him, as calm and collected as she always was. 'Tony,' he said, turning to the genius, 'nobody here is implying that you gave Loki your technology.' He paused to survey the SHIELD agents. 'Isn't that right?'

Romanov pursed her lips and Coulson glanced at Fury. Fury just stared at Tony.

'You can't be serious,' Steve gaped, apparently shocked that anyone would think Tony capable of world domination. Sometimes, Tony mused, the man was an idiot. 'Why would Tony do that?'

'Because he likes playing god,' Fury answered.

'The Man of Iron would never betray us,' Thor interrupted.

'I agree with Thor,' Bruce said. That's right, Tony thought, I still have some fucking allies on this team. 'Loki clearly has access, or had access, to some form of the Iron Man technology,' Bruce then added, shooting an apologetic look Tony's way, 'but that doesn't mean that Tony helped him, or that Tony has a leak.'

'And if he does?' Fury asked, good eye hard on Tony.

'I don't,' Tony growled. 'But if you want, I'll go through every inch of JARVIS' programming and check. I'll pull him apart just to show you that he hasn't been fucking breached.'

'Okay,' Bruce said before anyone else could start yelling. 'If Tony doesn't have a leak, then we have to figure out how Loki got this technology. Now, what super villain did Loki recently kill?'

Thor frowned and Barton raised his eyebrows. 'You think Doom built this Genesis thing for Loki?' the archer asked.

'It makes sense,' Bruce said. Tony almost breathed a sigh of relief, but stopped himself as he slowly sank back into his seat. If he'd suggested it, he didn't think Fury and the others would believe him. Tony hadn't expected to personally be put before the firing squad with Genesis so soon. He'd assumed that they'd just think Doom built it.

He'd clearly underestimated just how little Fury and SHIELD trusted him. If they truly thought Tony capable of working with Loki, then it was going to be harder covering his tracks and taking SHIELD down. They'd be watching him more closely now, just waiting for him to slip up and prove their theories right.

Fuck , Tony thought.

'It's been obvious for over a year now that Doom wanted Tony's technology, especially his repulsor technology,' Bruce continued. Tony focused back on the conversation. 'He made a grab for Tony in the past, and he outright attacked Stark Tower to get Tony's repulsor technology just a few months before Loki killed him. Maybe he managed to work something out, build something similar to Tony's suits. Maybe he needed Loki's help and Loki agreed, but then killed Doom for the suit or suits when he was done.' Bruce shrugged. 'After all, once it was built, Loki really had no use for Doom.'

'It is like my brother to work with someone, only to betray them when he has what he needs,' Thor nodded seriously. 'He never makes deals lightly, and when he does they never end well for anyone other than Loki.'

Tony almost frowned at that but held himself back. Loki tricked people, yes; he was the God of Mischief, after all. But the magical contract meant that Loki couldn't hurt Tony; Tony knew, he'd tested it shortly after signing it by lightly cutting Loki, only to earn a cut in return a few seconds later.

Thor clearly didn't know his brother all that well any more. He'd probably never truly known him to begin with.

'But we've fought Doom's bots before,' Barton chimed in, 'multiple times. We've never seen this level of tech out of him before.'

'If we had, we would have stopped it,' Rogers pointed out. He glanced at Tony. 'If Tony had seen what he was capable of, he would have ensured that we knew how dangerous Doom was becoming. We would have taken him down once and for all.'

Tony just glared at the lot of them, too pissed off to join in and try and redeem himself. He doubted that he could change Fury's mind, no matter what he said.

'Loki's stronger than Doom,' Bruce added, 'I doubt he cares if we figure it out. He has magic, something we can't really fight at the moment.'

'But we can almost track it,' Romanov said.

Fury nodded at that and looked at Tony once more. 'Stark, your priority now is to build a working magic sensor. You'll do it here, with SHIELD's scientists and Doctor Banner. That way we can keep an eye on it. Thor,' he turned to the Thunderer, who sat up straighter, 'if you hang around, will Loki make a grab for the sensor?'

Thor frowned a bit before he shrugged. 'It is difficult to be sure,' he admitted. 'I can best Loki in battle, but Loki is tricky. If he truly wants the sensor you speak of, not even my presence will stop him from trying to retrieve it.'

'But we'll have a much better chance of fighting him off,' Barton said. 'If we have Bruce and Thor here, keeping an eye on it, Loki won't be able to grab it. We'll catch him.'

Tony rolled his eyes but didn't say anything. Loki could turn himself invisible . Granted, having Bruce and Thor hanging around the sensor would make it difficult for Loki to steal, but not impossible .

'Fine,' Fury said. 'For the moment, all of you are to relocate to the Helicarrier as soon as possible. Stark, you'll start working on the sensor. Doctor Banner, assist him.' Bruce nodded.

'What about New York?' Rogers asked. 'If we're all here, Loki might attack again.'

'We'll keep close by,' Fury told him. 'If Loki attacks, you can be there in minutes.'

'What about my boyfriend?' Tony decided to speak up. All eyes turned to him, and Tony shrugged. 'When Loki attacked my Tower Logan was there, remember? I can't just send him home, Loki could get to him again.'

'Civilians aren't allowed aboard the Helicarrier, Stark,' Fury said.

'So I should just leave him there to die?' Tony demanded.

Fury's eye narrowed. 'That's my final decision.'

They glared at each other for a minute or two before Tony stood. 'Fine,' he said. 'If Logan dies, you can bet your ass I'll sue your entire fucking organisation, Fury.' With that he grabbed his suitcase suit and left the room.

'We're not done here, Stark!' Fury snapped.

'I am!' Tony shouted over his shoulder. 'See you in a few hours, Nick.'



{oOo}



Tony got back to Stark Tower before anyone else. When the others did arrive they left Tony alone, JARVIS informing him that they were packing what they'd need aboard the Helicarrier. Only Romanov and Barton hadn't come back, but Tony doubted there was much they needed. The Tower was only a second home to them, somewhere to stay so that they could spy on Tony.

Loki arrived a few hours after Tony did and Tony went downstairs to help him bring their suitcases up. Once the elevator had shut behind them, Tony said, 'JARVIS?'

' The elevator is still bug-free, Mr Stark ,' the AI replied.

Tony turned to Loki. 'Fury, Coulson, Barton and Romanov think I'm Genesis, or that I built it for you.'

'Excuse me?' Loki questioned. Tony quickly relayed the Helicarrier meeting for the older god, who frowned. 'I see,' he said, 'so they trust you lest than we first assumed.'

'Yeah,' Tony sighed. 'You know Romanov was the first person to suggest that I'm a lot like you?' Loki raised an eyebrow. 'I found some reports she'd handed in when I first discovered Fury's little plan,' Tony explained. 'She drew parallels between the two of us; broken families, too smart for our own good, chaotic, uncaring of the rules, loose morals.' He shrugged one shoulder. 'I think that's one of the main reasons they want me off the team and away from Iron Man. Before you turned up they were content to watch. After seeing you and fighting you, they realised just what I could become given the right reasons.'

'I see,' Loki repeated. The elevator reached the penthouse and he went quiet as they exited. They dragged their suitcases into the bedroom and Loki sat on the lounge, legs folded. Tony sat beside him and sighed. 'Anthony?'

'They want me on the Helicarrier,' Tony murmured.

'Why?' Loki questioned.

'To work on the magic sensor,' Tony told him. He rested his elbows on his knees, tilted his head to look at Loki. 'Now that you've destroyed a SHIELD base, Fury wants me to finish the sensor and get it working. He wants to track you down and punish you.'

Loki snorted. 'Even if he and his little mortals could find me, they would have to catch me.'

'Yeah,' Tony murmured. 'Not once did Thor mention that you're Jötunn, you know?' Loki's eyes narrowed. 'I meant that he didn't suggest that you had two types of magic,' Tony continued. 'He didn't suggest that if we do figure out how to track your Asgardian magic, which you use in every battle, that you could switch to using your Jötunn magic.'

'Thor is an idiot,' Loki stated. 'However, he knows how much I detest being Jötunn. It wouldn't occur to him that I would push through that hatred to use all of my skills to my advantage. It also wouldn't occur to him that I have Jötunn magic. I was raised on Asgard, remember; he would assume that I developed it there.'

Tony frowned. 'But you're a Frost Giant .'

'Thor stopped studying magic when he discovered that he couldn't use it to the extent that I could,' Loki said. 'Thor and I were close when we were young, but as we grew my magical power became obvious. Thor couldn't use it, so it became something to bully me about with his friends. Nobody in Asgard studied magic as much as I did, I know more than anybody there, my mother included. Thor probably still doesn't know that most mages are born with the ability to wield magic.'

'Wait,' Tony interrupted with a frown, 'so... I'm not a mage?'

'No,' Loki shook his head, 'you are a magic-wielder, nothing more. A mage is born , a magic-wielder is taught. It's why you will never be as powerful as me; you weren't born with the ability to tap into your magic, you had to be taught.'

'Huh,' Tony hummed, then shook his head. 'Okay, so we're safe on that front. If SHIELD figures out how to track your magic, you can switch to Jötunn magic.'

'And I should begin to practise in earnest,' Loki added. 'I do not wish to be caught out and not have the full use of my Jötunn abilities.'

'I'm going to help them,' Tony said, 'but I'll hold myself back. I won't tell them how to actually scan magic. But if they figure it out...' he sighed, 'I'm not sure there's much I can do, Loki. Romanov and Fury are already suspicious of me, I don't wanna out myself before I'm ready.'

'Don't,' Loki said, 'I would rather your true nature remain hidden then be safe to practise Asgardian magic whenever I please. I can simply switch to using my Jötunn abilities. Keep yourself safe, first.'

Tony smiled weakly, then reached out to thread their fingers together. Loki let it happen but looked down at their joined hands, eyebrows furrowed. 'Loki?'

'We haven't finished discussing our... connection,' Loki said, the last word soft.

Tony sighed. 'Yeah, I know,' he said. He squeezed Loki's digits. 'But we don't have time; I have to pack, I have to move to the Helicarrier.'

Loki nodded.

'We do need to talk,' Tony added, 'but-'

'I know,' Loki cut in, 'I understand. But please note that I'm not asking anything of you; my magic and yours wish to connect us, but that doesn't mean I will let it. I'll teach you how to stop yours from doing it.'

'Okay...' Tony said, frowning a bit. He knew that there was more there- more that Loki wanted to say- but they really didn't have the time. 'So, anyway, I mentioned that SHIELD- Romanov in particular- think that I gave you, or designed, Genesis for you.'

'Yes...' Loki said slowly, head tilted.

'I have a plan.'

'You do?'

Tony nodded, but his lips were pressed into a thin line.

'You do not appear to like your plan,' Loki commented. When Tony didn't answer, Loki tugged on his fingers. 'Anthony?'

'If it works it'll be fine,' Tony said. 'Rhodey has a suit, one that isn't as heavily guarded as my suits are,' Tony said as he shifted his body so that he could face Loki properly. 'I've mentioned Rhodey, remember?'

'Rhodes; the soldier who stole one of your suits when you were dying,' Loki nodded. His hand tightened around Tony's briefly when he said dying , but Tony didn't say anything.

'Yeah,' Tony said. 'Anyway, I was thinking... the suit is old, so it's not as protected as my current suits. I know that Rhodey keeps it in his barracks, there's some good security around it, but nothing that Loki Laufeyson couldn't get through.'

Loki was beginning to smile, and Tony flashed him a grin. 'Are you suggesting that I steal his suit?' Loki asked.

Tony nodded. 'If you get caught doing it, hopefully SHIELD, Romanov and Barton will assume that you and Doom were studying that suit. Maybe you need Rhodey's suit, or just want it. Either way, I'm hoping it'll throw the heat off of me for a bit. Plus it gets War Machine away from Rhodey, so he can no longer use it, and he can't side against us with it.'

'You would be in the clear, and suspicion would be turned from you to Rhodes and how he protected his suit,' Loki realised.

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'When SHIELD figure out how to scan your Asgardian magic, we can track you to Rhodey. Or maybe Genesis gets damaged, you need some spare parts, but without Doom you can't fix it yourself. So maybe you go after the suit, Rhodey or someone walks in on you, you knock 'em out and take the suit. I could always take parts off of it and attach it to one of the Genesis suits.'

'I see...' Loki mused.

'I'm just worried that SHIELD won't buy it and still be suspicious of me. I mean, SHIELD is never going to like me, and Romanov's always going to be waiting for me to become you, but...'

'There is little we can do,' Loki interrupted, 'and your plan is a good one. We need to get... War Machine away from Rhodes, anyway.'

'I know,' Tony nodded. 'There's no rush, though, so we'll see what happens.'

Loki nodded, too, and they fell into silence, Loki staring at their joined hands and Tony's eyes on the bed. Finally Tony sighed and rubbed his face.

'I gotta pack,' he said.

'What about me?' Loki questioned. He let Tony go and watched as the younger god stood and stretched.

'You should stay here,' Tony said. 'Fury said civilians aren't allowed on the Helicarrier. I mentioned that you could oh, I dunno, murder Logan Thomas, but he doesn't care.'

He went into the walk-in-wardrobe, picking out t-shirts and jeans and comfortable clothes; he didn't think he'd need to dress up for his stay. When he re-entered the bedroom Loki had a thoughtful look on his face.

'What?' Tony asked.

'It would be reckless of me to appear on the Helicarrier, even invisible,' Loki said, 'we shouldn't risk ourselves like that.'

'No, we shouldn't,' Tony agreed.

'But we need to plan and I need to teach you how to use your magic,' Loki continued. 'So we need to get you off of the Helicarrier and back into the Tower regularly.'

'Yeah...'

Loki hummed, then tilted his head. When he met Tony's eyes his own were bright.

'Loki...?' Tony asked.

'How would you feel if I attacked the Tower while the Avengers were all gone?' Loki asked, face a mask of innocence. 'Any super villain worth their title would, of course, be watching the Tower, trying to learn your routines... if I noticed that you were all gone, I would of course attack. And you would of course be sent to stop me, and perhaps you could point out that I wouldn't have gotten so far into your workshop if you were here...' he trailed off, a grin now stretching across his face.

Tony laughed. 'Loki, you're brilliant!' he declared.

Loki smirked at him, though it disappeared when Tony ducked down to kiss him. It was a bit awkward at first- Loki froze instead of kissing him back- but when Tony went to pull away Loki cupped his face and turned the kiss deep, teeth nipping at Tony's lower lip right up until he drew back.

Smiling, Tony pecked Loki on the lips before withdrawing completely. He could feel Loki's eyes on him as he packed, but neither god said a word. Yeah, they had to talk; Tony knew that they did. But they'd get through it.

Tony would make sure that they got through it.

Chapter Text

They'd set up in one of the Helicarrier's large labs... Tony was pretty sure it was the one he and Bruce had worked in when Loki had first landed on Midgard, but he wasn't sure. He didn't care enough to ask, instead setting up his own tablets and computers in the corner, grabbing a chair, and then seating himself.

Tony had absolutely zero plans to help SHIELD and their little scientists out. After what Romanov had accused him of earlier, Tony felt justified in just sitting and snacking while watching SHIELD's scientists rush about trying to figure out magic. A few of them darted over to Tony, asked questions, but when Tony just blinked slowly or threw blueberries at them they went away and didn't come back. Bruce had smiled at Tony, just a bit, before turning his focus on the magic sensor Tony had thrown together earlier that day.

Leaning back in his seat, ankles crossed on the short table before him, Tony stared at Bruce. He kind of felt bad for the doctor... here Bruce was, working hard, and Tony was planning his death. Well, not his death, exactly, but it'd happen if Bruce didn't side with Tony and Loki. Or run. Tony kinda hoped that Bruce ran. If he stayed he had two choices; siding with Tony and Loki and killing innocent people, thus becoming SHIELD's target, or side with SHIELD and be used for the rest of his life.

Bruce was a good guy; he was nice and caring and clever . He was Tony's friend , probably the only one the genius had left. Tony didn't want Bruce to die.

But, like he'd told Loki; if Bruce had to be killed, so be it.

Speaking of Loki...

Tony sighed and pulled his feet from the table. Bruce glanced at him, but Tony swivelled around in his seat to stare out the window, mind swamped with thoughts of the green-eyed god.

They had a magical connection . It was... it was completely fucking ridiculous, but Tony's life over the past few years had been completely fucking ridiculous; kidnapped, arc reactor planted in his chest, suit of armour made to protect himself, aliens falling from rainbow fucking portals and more aliens trying to take over the planet... it'd make a good movie if it wasn't, you know, Tony's life .

But in all honesty, Tony wouldn't give it up for the world. Before Iron Man he'd been little more than a playboy billionaire, Obie's puppet CEO and the media's Public Enemy Number One. Tony would have drunk himself into an early grave without Iron Man; he would have wrapped one of his cars around a tree or drowned in his own vomit or Jesus knows what. So, really... Tony had Obie to thank for his current life.

I'm still glad I killed the bastard, Tony mused. He tossed another blueberry into his mouth. The guy who tortured Loki's still alive... we should hunt him down after all this. Closure, Tony thought, was something that Loki needed. He needed to get rid of Thor, destroy the guy who'd convinced him to invade Midgard, and live out his days on Earth with Tony, the two ruling the planet in their own way.

Ruling while magic-married , Tony thought. He shook his head at that; ate another blueberry. He didn't really know what to do with this information. Loki's magic wanted Tony... wanted to mate with him, it sounded like. What did that even mean?

From what Loki had said before they'd had to part ways, it meant that they'd be together for... well, ever. Never straying, never truly falling out of love, always there for each other. A constant presence.

Tony shifted uncomfortably and tossed his blueberries onto the floor beside his chair. He'd never had constants; his mother had been a trophy wife, though she had tried at times, Tony had to give her points for that. His father had just been that guy who sometimes turned up and shouted at Tony, and his nannies had all been fired or deported or God knows what as soon as Tony grew attached to them.

Then it had been Edwin Jarvis, Tony's nanny and tutor and mentor and, fuck, his father . Howard had been an asshole before Steve Rogers disappeared, but he'd been even more of an asshole afterwards. Edwin Jarvis had always been there for Tony; he'd talked Tony through puberty, had soothed Tony after his very worst nightmares, had... well, raised him.

Sure, Rhodey had been around a lot, and Pepper, but neither had been there no matter what. Edwin had put up with Tony even at his worst, whereas Rhodey and Pepper had eventually walked. Hell, Rhodey had stolen one of Tony's fucking suits when he was dying. Nobody had the right to steal from Tony Stark, no matter what his mental state. And Pepper was working with Coulson to get Tony off of the Avengers team, so she was pretty much out as far as Tony was concerned.

Loki... it sounded like he was offering the thing that Tony had lost with Edwin's death; a best friend, a confidant, a... an everything .

It sounded too good to be true.

But... maybe Tony could actually have that; actually have someone stick around no matter what; have someone who would always have his back, who would never leave, who, no matter how much Tony pissed them off, would always come back.

Loki wanted that, too, Tony knew it. Once upon a time Loki had had a mother, a father, a brother and friends. And then he grew, his differences became too much to ignore. Asgard turned against him, Thor turned against him, his mother was kept from him and his father had never truly wanted him. Just what he stood for.

Like Tony. People wanted Stark Industries, Iron Man, a billionaire with a chequebook. They never wanted Tony .

Loki did. Loki liked Tony. Loki's magic had fucking chosen Tony.

And Tony's magic had chosen Loki.

The longer Tony thought about it, the better the idea sounded, and the warmer Tony's chest got... no, not his chest, his magic . His fucking magic was pleased. Jesus Christ.

Tony sighed and spun lazily around in circles, around and around and around, ignoring Bruce's odd look, the way the scientists intermittently scowled at him or looked at him with puppy dog eyes 'cause they needed help.

Magic-married. Magic-married, magic-married, magic-married. Loki had said that they could go their separate ways, right? He'd said that they'd need to meet- their magic would force them to reconnect. But it sounded like they could part if they really screwed up their relationship. And even if they did, their magical contract meant that they'd still be there for each other.

They'd still have each other.

And Loki knew how to block the connection. He could teach Tony, he'd said; would teach Tony.

So... what the fuck was Tony freaking out about, again?

Loki was everything Tony had ever wanted! He was brilliant and gorgeous and crazy and he got Tony . He understood Tony in a way that nobody ever had. And he was offering forever .

And fuck, they didn't even have to have forever! They didn't have to let their magic connect them. And if it did... well, so the fuck what?

'I'm an idiot!' Tony declared and groaned. He scrubbed his face, trying to banish the memory of Loki's face from his mind. Loki had looked so... broken when he'd told Tony, so defeated. Like he knew, without a doubt, that Tony would run for the hills as soon as he understood the connection between them.

'I could have told you that,' Bruce commented. When Tony lifted his head to look at him the doctor was smirking slightly at his computer.

'Asshole,' Tony growled.

Bruce turned to him. 'What's wrong, Tony?'

'I... had a fight with Logan,' Tony said. Technically not true, but close enough.

'About what?' Bruce asked. 'I know it was wrong of Fury to make him stay in the Tower alone, but surely Logan doesn't blame you?'

'No, no, he understood that part,' Tony said, waving a hand. 'We were just... we had this big conversation in Malibu- or we started to- and then suddenly I had to come back, and now he's at the Tower... we never got to finish the conversation.'

'Ah...' Bruce mused. He turned back to his computer. 'I'm all ears, if you want to talk. If not...' he trailed off and shrugged.

Tony mulled over that for a minute. Fury was no doubt listening in- or Natasha was- and Tony could use this as an opportunity to make them realise what Logan meant to him. It would help sell the idea of Tony not wanting to sleep with his future assistant, therefore making it more appealing for Coulson or someone else to approach her and offer her money to spy on Tony.

Then again, it might make them keep a closer eye on Logan because of what he meant to Tony.

Decisions, decisions...

When Tony opened his mouth, he decided to say that first thing that came to mind;

'Logan said he's falling in love with me, and I didn't say anything.'

huh. Well, that wasn't too far from the truth... his magic, Loki's magic, thought that they were compatible, which meant that there was a chance of them falling in love, right? Not that Tony was a big believer in love; hell, he wasn't sure he was even capable of feeling love. He hadn't seen much of it growing up, and now he was so fucked up that he probably couldn't feel it.

Whatever. What he felt for Loki, what he ended up feeling for Loki... it'd have to be enough.

Bruce was staring at him, surprise written clearly across his face. Some of the nameless scientists working around them had stalled, staring at them, but then went back to what they were doing when Bruce cleared his throat; they were all clearly listening, though.

'Uh... okay,' Bruce said, 'that's... wow.'

'Yeah,' Tony hummed. 'I wasn't sure what to say, and then Steve called, so...' he shrugged. 'Logan's kinda... not pissed off, exactly, but... hurt?' He shrugged again. 'He's told me a bit about his family. It sounds like he's as fucked up as I am.'

'You're not fucked up, Tony,' Bruce chided.

Tony snorted. 'Really, Bruce?'

The younger man rolled his eyes. 'It sounds like you just have to talk to him.'

'Yeah,' Tony muttered. 'Which I can totally do while I'm stuck here on the Helicarrier.'

'I know,' Bruce agreed, 'but Fury wants to find Loki.'

'It's not like Loki kills that many people when he stages his attacks,' Tony grumbled. 'Why do I have to put my life on hold just to find him? I run a company, you know.'

'Pepper runs your company,' Bruce pointed out.

'I ran it for years before I promoted her. And I design and build everything they sell,' Tony said. 'I also own the company. It's not like I just sit on my ass.'

'I know,' Bruce repeated, 'but Fury's just doing his job.'

Tony snorted again and leaned back in his seat. 'You mean we're doing his job,' he said and gestured around at the lab. 'Do you really think any of these guys will figure out how magic works?'

'I don't think we'll ever truly figure out how it works...' Bruce said slowly, 'but if we can figure out how to trace it it'll help us fight Loki and people like Loki.'

Yeah... Tony didn't plan on letting anyone get their hands on a working magic sensor after SHIELD was gone. He didn't want the US government- or any other government, actually- being able to track Loki. If they could do that then it'd only be a matter of time before they could track Tony's magic.

'It'd go a lot faster if you helped,' Bruce prompted, breaking the silence.

'Yeah, no ,' Tony said. 'Did you see the way they treated me in that meeting? Fuck them. They want my help, they can stop treating me like the enemy, or like I'm about to go crazy and kill everyone, or take over the world. Also, Fury made me leave my boyfriend in the Tower. The Tower Loki's broken into before. The guy Loki's tried to hurt before. I'm falling in love with Logan and Fury made me leave him there !'

Tony had maybe started yelling a bit at the end there, so he was as surprised as Bruce when the last sentence left his lips.

Huh.

'Falling in love?' Bruce said, looking far too amused.

'Shut up,' Tony grumbled.

'The next time you talk to Logan, tell him that,' Bruce suggested. 'Then you won't be fighting any more and he won't be hurt.'

Tony groaned and flopped backwards dramatically- Bruce sighed and shook his head.

Well... Tony was still pissed off about the whole “stay aboard the Helicarrier 24/7” thing, but... it'd given him time to think, and he'd worked out what he wanted to say to Loki. He'd worked out how he felt about the whole “magic-marriage” thing.

Tony wasn't sure he was capable of love. Hell, maybe Loki wasn't, either. But did that really matter? If they both felt something - something deeper than lust and the need to have someone they trusted- then... that was enough.

For Tony, it was enough.



{oOo}



It had been four days.

Loki was bored.

Bad things happened when he was bored. Well... bad things happened to other people. Bad things happened to Loki when he tried to do something good. Hence working with Stark and trying to take over Midgard.

Loki allowed their plans to wash through his mind and enjoyed imagining the looks of stunned betrayal that would spread over the Avengers' faces when they realised that one of their own had turned against them.

Joy .

Shaking his head, Loki looked around Anthony's workshop. JARVIS had once again done something to erase Loki's presence on the security feed- he had been informed that Logan currently appeared to be in bed sleeping.

Fury had forced Anthony to stay on the Helicarrier. Loki... did not like that. He didn't like Stark being corralled like some type of animal, forced to work on capturing Loki for the little mortals. No, Stark needed to be free, and he needed to be free to continue working with Loki.

Loki's eyes drifted over the workshop and to the glass floor-to-ceiling windows. Beyond was a long hallway that led to the elevator and the emergency stairwell.

It would look good on fire, Loki thought. He could teleport to the helipad, blast his way in through Anthony's penthouse. He could go up and blast apart the top floor where Tony worked on the technology Stark Industries sold. JARVIS, the various security systems Tony had built, would surely keep Loki out of that workshop long enough for Tony and the Avengers to arrive. Then... well, surely Stark wouldn't mind having to do a little re-modelling. It wasn't as though Loki was planning on destroying anything important.

Loki smirked and spun on the swivel chair he'd been sitting in for the past half hour. Tony's magical research could only hold his attention for so long. No, Loki wanted Tony back. He didn't like it when people took things that belonged to him.

'JARVIS?'

' Yes, sir? ' the computer replied.

Loki grinned. He did like Anthony's invisible servant. 'What is Anthony doing right now?'

' Please wait one moment, sir ,' JARVIS said. A few minutes later he continued; ' Mr Stark is currently aboard the Helicarrier refusing to work on the magic sensor .'

'Is that so?' Loki mused. 'Stark won't be leaving any time soon?' Tony had called a few times; mostly from the lab he was working in, the sounds of computers and people working background noise. Apparently Tony didn't want to spend any time in the small room provided for him aboard the Helicarrier. He preferred to sit right in the thick of things, refusing to help and throwing produce at people until he passed out. Loki smiled at the image that particular sentence had brought up.

' Negative, Mr Lie-smith ,' JARVIS said. ' SHIELD's scientists have yet to work out how to successfully scan magic. '

'Successfully?'

' Indeed, sir. The magic sensor is working, however they have yet to figure out how to filter out background radiation. '

'Not even the green beast?'

' No, sir .'

Loki hummed. 'Anthony agreed to let me attack the Tower, yes?'

JARVIS was silent for a beat, before; ' I would not say that he agreed, Mr Lie-smith. However, he did not express any disagreement. '

'That's good enough for me,' Loki decided. He pushed himself back from the table and stood, the chair rolling across the concrete behind him. 'Do you have footage of Logan in bed?' he asked as he walked towards the doors.

' Yes, Mr Lie-smith ,' JARVIS said. ' Would you like me to continue playing it? '

'Negative,' Loki replied. He pushed through the doors and entered the elevator, which was already waiting for him. 'I shall place a clone in the bed and teleport to the helipad. Start recording as normal when I say so.'

' Yes, sir .'



{oOo}



Tony was napping on the floor in the corner- it was comfier than the chairs SHIELD had provided- when an alarm suddenly went off, filling the lab with noise and bright flashing lights. Tony snorted and leapt to his feet before stumbling into the wall, his head aching from sitting up too long.

'Christ,' he moaned and rubbed his face. He looked up and around to see the scientists panicking and trying to put their research away. A pre-recorded voice was playing but Tony couldn't hear the words over the alarm. 'What the fuck's going on?' he shouted.

Bruce was standing a few feet away, looking as confused and annoyed as Tony. He looked better rested than Tony did- he'd actually stopped and slept, eaten, whereas Tony had mostly let himself crash in the lab, only going back to his room to shower.

The alarm finally fell silent, leaving Tony's ears ringing. Then Fury was talking; ' Stark, Banner, report to the bridge immediately! '

Tony and Bruce shared a look before they both took off, running out of the lab and down the corridor. They passed agents and scientists and doctors, all jumping aside as the two Avengers stormed past. Tony got into the elevator first and held it open for Bruce. Bruce punched in the floor number and the elevator swept them up.

'Any ideas?' Tony asked.

'An attack, most likely,' Bruce said.

Tony raised his eyebrows. 'Loki?'

'He's been quiet since he destroyed that SHIELD base,' Bruce said. He frowned. 'Do you think he-'

'Destroyed another?' Tony interrupted and Bruce nodded. The elevator stopped, the doors opened. 'I guess we're about to find out.'

Rogers, Romanov and Barton were already there, and Thor was entering from the corridor that led into the various meeting rooms on this floor. Coulson gestured for Tony and Bruce to approach, and Fury started speaking immediately.

'We just got this footage from Stark Tower,' he said.

Tony's eyes darted up and to the large screens already flickering. The footage was from the CCTV cameras Tony and SHIELD had put on the surrounding buildings when Stark Tower had become the Avengers' home base. Half of the helipad was gone, on the street below, and there was smoke bellowing from the broken windows that led into Tony's penthouse. Tony let anger furrow his brows, press his lips into a thin line, when he saw that someone had once again destroyed his floor and bar.

'It was Loki,' Fury said and one of the screens switched feeds; now the helipad was there, the glass intact. Suddenly there was a gold-green shimmer of light and Loki appeared on the helipad. He took one step and JARVIS' voice echoed from the building, informing Loki to stand down or he'd be fired upon.

Loki smirked, his staff appeared, and he fired. So did JARVIS.

The missile just missed Loki, who darted to the side and tumbled across the helipad. One of the many machine guns Tony's building was equipped with opened fire and Loki blasted back with magic. After a minute, maybe a minute and a half, the combined explosions severed the helipad in half and sent concrete and metal raining down on the street.

An Iron Man suit appeared, operated by JARVIS, and fought Loki hand-to-hand. Loki soon sent it careening through the cracked windows and strolled in after it.

The feed switched back to the outside of the Tower. Apart from some small explosions, some glass shattering, they couldn't see anything; SHIELD didn't have access to the cameras inside the Tower.

Tony was moving before Fury could say anything.

'Stark!' he shouted when he spotted Tony going for the elevator.

'He's attacking my fucking Tower because we're not there!' Tony shouted back. 'I knew this would fucking happen, Logan's there by himself!' He got into the elevator and turned, brown eyes hard on Fury. 'If Logan gets hurt, Fury, Loki will be the least of SHIELD's problems.'

The doors shut after that, whisking Tony down. He didn't care what the Avengers were doing- what SHIELD's plans were. He had to go and pretend-fight Loki. Then he'd be able to stay in the Tower and work with the older god again; he'd like to see Fury order him to stay aboard the Helicarrier after this .

Tony had to bite back a smirk, worried that the cameras in the elevator would catch his pleasure. Good plan, Green Eyes, he thought.

Chapter Text

Stark's suits and computer were brilliant. There were two Iron Man suits- operated by JARVIS- currently battling the Trickster. JARVIS had informed Loki as the god made his way through the Tower that, as part of the Tower's security, three suits could be controlled by JARVIS to take out any threat. There were other security measures; guns and grenades, missiles and such, that Loki had to deal with. But JARVIS would hold back, the AI had told him; Mr Stark wouldn't want Mr Lie-smith seriously injured, after all.

Loki smirked to himself as he finally made his way up. The elevator had been damaged- metal bent, scorch marks on the silver walls- but it was still operable. It dropped Loki off on the floor that contained Tony's Stark Industries workshops. Two floors of cellphones, computers and everything else the Midgardian's company sold.

As soon as Loki stepped into the hallway the lights went out and an alarm started blaring. Loki tapped his staff against the floor and the stone at the end glowed a bright green, lighting his way. The wall to the far left opened suddenly and another Iron Man suit, this one silver and blue, shot out from its container, heading straight for Loki.

Loki pivoted, let it past, and flung a spell. The suit went flying into the workshop, through the heavy-duty, bullet-proof glass. It hit two tables and crushed numerous electronics, but got up afterwards, faint scratches its only injuries. Loki grinned as he followed it through and into the workshop.

He turned to throw a few balls of magic at the walls, and managed to blow up a table before he was tackled from the side. He and the suit crashed into another table, scattering electronics and various projects. The steel collapsed beneath their combined weight and the suit immediately started grappling with Loki and trying to hit him.

Its punches weren't as strong as they'd once been; back when Anthony had been actively fighting Loki, he'd been a strong opponent. Now the suit was pulling its punches, JARVIS clearly not trying to actually hurt him.

Loki laughed maniacally as he got his knees beneath the suit's chest. He launched it off of him and across the room, not bothering to see where it landed as he stood. His magic tingled and he turned to see Anthony himself exiting the elevator in his red and gold Iron Man suit. The two other suits Loki had fought earlier were with him but paused, clearly waiting for Tony's orders.

'Loki!' Tony shouted.

'Stark,' Loki smirked, 'how nice of you to join me. Perhaps you could tell me where the sensor you're building is?'

'Fuck you!' Tony spat and Loki laughed.

'If you ask nicely,' he purred.

Tony raised his gauntlets and Loki raised his staff. Both fired at the same time, and the repulsors and Loki's magic meeting caused an explosion that sent both gods flying away from each other; Tony back into the elevator, bending metal beneath his Iron Man suit, and Loki into the wall, concrete cracking and showering the Trickster in debris.

Loki pulled himself up and twisted his back, hearing it crack. He sighed. 'That was quite tedious, Man of Iron.'

When Tony clawed his way back out of the elevator he was joined by Rogers and Thor, both trying to exit the elevator at the same time. They got stuck and Thor roared at him while Rogers eyed him from behind his mask.

'Oh, and you brought friends,' Loki mused.

'JARVIS, where's Logan?' Tony shouted as he stomped into the workshop. Loki muttered a low-level spell and tossed it at Stark, who jumped into the air and pivoted, easily manoeuvring himself through the workshop.

'Upstairs, sir,' JARVIS replied.

'Logan?' Loki echoed, a cruel smile overtaking his face. 'Is that your boy, Stark? I would have visited him if I knew he was here.'

Tony looked at him as he slowly lowered himself to the floor. 'Go near him and I'll snap your neck,' he snarled.

'No!' Thor shouted. 'My brother will pay when I take him back to Asgard! His punishment isn't your responsibility, Man of Iron!'

Rage made Loki's magic bubble hotly, and he turned to scream at Thor; 'I AM NOT YOUR BROTHER!' He lifted his staff, braced himself, and forced a large amount of magic through his body. The stone absorbed it all and sent it hurtling towards Thor and Rogers- Captain America tossed himself aside, sliding along the concrete hallway, but Thor was too slow. The green blast slammed into him and sent him tearing through the metal wall of the elevator. He hit the concrete shaft behind it hard, snapping more than one bone as he slumped to the floor.

Tony took the opportunity to fly at Loki, his two other suits following. The blue and silver one seemed to be out of commission, so Loki focused his attention on his lover and the suits.

He ducked and dodged almost every blow, Tony getting one or two hits in that weren't as powerful as he made them appear. Loki took a direct hit from one of Tony's repulsors and was thrown back into the wall again, creating more cracks and dust. Loki pushed himself up and flickered out of sight.

'Shit!' Tony hissed.

Loki tossed his free hand out and clones appeared in the workshop- two, three, six. Rogers turned and attacked the first on he saw, which flickered in and out of sight, laughing at Rogers whenever the Captain failed to hit it. The JARVIS-powered suits did the same, throwing punches every clone within reach, while Tony stared at the final one.

'Come now, Iron Man,' the Loki clone said. 'Surely with all of your Midgardian technology you can tell the difference.'

Tony's helmeted head tilted, and the faceplate slid up. Brown eyes narrowed, Tony stared at the clone for a beat before his eyesight slid past it and towards Loki, who was standing in the corner. Loki raised his eyebrows. Surely Stark couldn't actually see him. Nobody had ever been able to see through Loki's clones. Loki had been able to create them since he was three-hundred years-old, and had perfected creating a dozen by the time he was four-hundred. Not even Frigga could tell that they were clones until she touched one.

Rogers and one of the JARVIS-suits finally took care of all the clones but the one standing before Tony. Loki shifted where he was standing, and saw Rogers raise his shield-

'LOKI!' Thor roared.

'Thor, no!' Tony shouted back.

But Thor had already raised his hammer. Stark shot into the air, almost slamming into the workshop ceiling. His suits followed him, and Rogers managed to say, 'What-'

Thor slammed Mjölnir against the floor with enough force to tear the concrete up. The remaining windows shattered and large cracks snaked their way up the walls and to the ceiling. Static leapt across every flat surface, pushed by Thor's power, and Loki had to toss a shield up to protect himself. Unfortunately it made his clone disappear and himself visible, just in time for Thor to lift his hammer and throw it at his once-brother.

The hammer slammed into Loki's shoulder, forcing the Trickster back up against the wall. Bones snapped and muscles ripped, Loki crying out in pain. Magic danced along his armour, already trying to heal the damage, as Mjölnir flew back into Thor's grip.

Rogers had been hit by Thor's attack and was unconscious on the floor, Thor ignoring his shield-brother to advance on Loki.

Loki snarled at the blond oaf. 'I hope you killed your Captain, Thor. It'll show the mortals what you really think of them!' he hissed.

'Loki-'

Loki swung his staff and magic enveloped him, shooting green and gold sparks all around. By the time it cleared Loki was gone, teleported upstairs into Stark's bedroom. He slumped over the bed and hissed when the movement jostled his injured shoulder.

'Mr Lie-smith?' JARVIS questioned.

'I will be fine,' Loki said through gritted teeth. 'Am I safe?'

'Yes, sir,' the AI replied. 'When you take on Logan Thomas' appearance, I will start recording again.'

Loki looked across the bed to see his clone of Logan Thomas huddled in the corner, apparently terrified. He groaned again as he stood and used his Jötunn magic to send his armour away and clothe himself in jeans and a t-shirt. As he did his injured shoulder was revealed, showing deep, dark bruising and a thick cut from where the hammer had forced his armour into his skin...

… which was turning blue. The mottled area was turning sapphire, bruises going from angry shades of red and purple to dark blue and black. Loki wanted to punch a hole in the wall.

'JARVIS, does Stark have any long-sleeved shirts that will cover this?' Loki asked. He didn't want to risk using more Jötunn magic; his arm was already blue from collar-bone to forearm.

'Yes, sir,' JARVIS replied. 'The third drawer in Mr Stark's walk-in-wardrobe.'

Loki thanked the AI before walking into the wardrobe. He'd dismiss his clone when he was properly covered.


{oOo}


The entire area was a fucking disaster. It'd take Tony months to make sure that the workshop's foundations were stable enough for his work and to re-lay all the concrete. Fucking Thor.

Tony glared at the god in question from behind the safety of his faceplate. Thor was sitting in the corner on one of the few tables that had escaped the fight unscathed; his head was hanging, blond hair dirty with debris and blood. There was blood smeared across his hammer, showing that he'd injured Loki.

Tony really wanted to rush upstairs and see if his lover was okay, but Barton, Coulson and Fury had all stormed the workshop shortly after Loki had teleported away; Romanov was on what was left of the helipad coordinating SHIELD agents.

Rogers was wheeled away on a gurney, unconscious but okay according to a SHIELD doctor. Tony really hated having all these SHIELD agents crawling around his Tower. JARVIS was keeping an eye on them, but he didn't doubt that more than one would try and slip a recording device somewhere.

'What happened?' Fury demanded.

'What the fuck do you think happened?' Tony demanded before sliding his faceplate up. 'Loki saw an opportunity and he took it!' Fury glared at him. 'If we were here Loki wouldn't have gotten this far into my fucking Tower, Fury!' Tony shouted.

'Stark-' Barton tried, but Tony talked over him.

'I knew this would happen!' the god snapped. 'You took us out of the Tower and Loki decided to throw a party in it.' He stormed over to Fury, annoyed when the man failed to flinch. 'I don't care what the hell you order,' Tony growled, 'I'm not leaving my Tower again.'

Before Fury could say anything there was a scuffle from behind him. He and Barton turned and Tony looked over their shoulders to see a SHIELD agent trying to stop Logan from entering the workshop.

'Logan!' Tony shouted. He pushed between Fury and Barton, and Logan finally got himself free.

'Tony!' he whimpered. His shoulders sagged and he looked like he was about to keel over. Tony reached him before he could and Logan threw his arms around the inventor's neck, hugging him tightly. Tony heard Logan wince, his left arm shaking ever so slightly...

Tony's magic sparked in his chest, much warmer than it had when Tony had been staring at Loki's clone... this was the real Loki, then; not an illusion.

'Are you okay?' Tony breathed.

He felt Loki nod. 'JARVIS told me to hide so I stayed in the bedroom. I couldn't go anywhere else, Loki was... he was right there.'

'I know,' Tony shushed. 'I know, and I'm so sorry. I won't leave again.'

Loki sniffed and pulled back just far enough to look Tony in the eyes. There was pain there- physical pain, not emotional pain. Tony wondered how much damage Thor's hammer had done to the Trickster. 'Promise?' Loki sniffed again.

'Yeah,' Tony nodded, 'I promise, Logan. I don't give a fuck what Fury or his little band say.'

'Stark,' Fury growled.

'No !' Tony snapped without turning. 'I knew this would fucking happen, Fury, and you still made me leave. This Tower is mine; it's my home and it's Logan's home, too.'

'Is one man more important than stopping Loki?' Barton demanded.

Tony slowly pushed Loki back so that he could turn and glare at the archer. Barton flinched at the look on Tony's face. 'Do you really wanna know, Barton?' Tony asked. ''Cause your organisation isn't gonna like my answer.'

Barton said nothing, and neither did Fury. When the silence stretched for another minute Tony turned back to Loki. 'Come on, Logan. I've gotta call some people to get this place fixed.'

Loki just nodded and let Tony lead him from the workshop. Tony trusted JARVIS to keep an eye on things down here- the suits the AI was running had already disappeared back to Tony's more secure workshop, carrying the disabled third one between them. Tony would have to run a few sweeps of the place himself when SHIELD left, just to make sure. Fury would take any opportunity he could to get SHIELD into Stark Tower.


{oOo}


'Hey.'

Steve turned from where he was poking at the bandage covering his right arm. 'Hi,' he said.

'You're not supposed to play with the bandages,' Natasha told him. She sat on the end of his hospital bed. 'Though I know how annoying they are,' she added, gesturing with her cast.

Steve snorted. 'I was always injured as a kid,' he told her, 'not so much now, after the serum. Thor's hammer really packs a punch.'

He'd mostly suffered second degree burns and a lot of cuts, but the doctors aboard the Helicarrier had told him that he'd be okay by the following day.

'Thor told me about the fight,' Natasha said.

'Yeah,' Steve sighed. 'I think Thor has to learn that calling Loki his brother really annoys Loki.'

Natasha laughed. 'Annoys? Outrages, more like.'

'And then Thor comes in swinging his hammer,' Steve muttered. 'If Clint had been there he could have been killed.'

'I don't think Loki will attack the Tower again,' Natasha said. 'Stark's not going anywhere, and Fury's now ordered that two Avengers must remain inside at all times.'

'Two as well as Tony?' Steve asked.

Natasha nodded. 'You know how Fury feels about Stark.'

Steve sighed. Yes, he knew all too well. If Tony wasn't so dangerous and chaotic, Steve would think that Fury wanted the genius off of the team simply because he hated him. He frowned when he thought over the fight; the way his fists had hit nothing where the clones were standing, how his shield had simply sliced through them and into the wall beyond.

'What's wrong?' the agent asked.

'Nothing,' Steve shook his head. 'I was thinking about Loki's clones...'

'I've never fought one before,' Natasha commented. 'Loki only ever pulls them out to distract you, Thor and Stark.'

Steve's frown deepened.

'Steve?'

'Sorry, I was just... Tony didn't fight any of the clones,' he said as he remembered. He and the suits JARVIS was controlling had fought the clones; Tony had just stood there.

'He didn't?' Now Natasha was frowning, too.

'Yeah,' Steve said. 'Tony just kind of... stood there staring at one. Then he looked past it.... why would he do that?'

'Did the clone attack him?' Steve shook his head. 'Huh.' Natasha scratched at her cast. 'Maybe it wasn't a clone?' she suggested.

'No, it was a clone,' Steve said. 'It disappeared when Thor slammed his hammer into the floor; Loki appeared at the other end of the workshop and Thor threw his hammer at him. It definitely hit; I saw it just before I passed out.'

'Why wouldn't the clone attack Stark, then?' Natasha mused. 'And why wouldn't Stark attack it?'

'He looked past it,' Steve reminded her. 'You don't think...'

'What?' Natasha said when Steve trailed off. 'That Stark knew it was a clone?'

'No, it's ridiculous,' Steve back-pedalled. 'How would he know?' Natasha shrugged her good shoulder. 'Sorry, I'm not making any sense,' Steve laughed. 'Must be the injuries.'

'Yeah,' Natasha agreed. She patted the blanket atop Steven's leg and said, 'Get some rest,' before leaving.

Steve settled back into the blankets and sighed. He hoped that Natasha forgot what he'd said. The team- apart from Bruce, really- were all so suspicious of Tony. Steve understood their fears; Tony was a genius, he was rich, he was strong, and he was... unbalanced. It made him dangerous, but mostly to those around him, not to the planet like Natasha and Clint claimed. All they had to do was get him off of the team for a bit; let him take a break, get his priorities straight, heal.

When Tony had a better handle on himself he could come back and everything would be okay.

Chapter Text

Tony found Loki in the bedroom trying to wrangle a shirt over his injured arm. Tony frowned as his suit unfolded from him; Loki's shoulder was a patchwork of blue, purple and dark red bruises, all pressed up from beneath sapphire blue skin. The blue washed over to his collar-bone, down to his forearm, where it became pale white once more.

'Shit,' Tony said when Loki looked up at him.

'It's not the worst Thor has ever done to me,' the Trickster commented.

'The worst... what the hell has he done to you?' Tony demanded.

'He threw me from one of your little aeroplanes, if you remember,' Loki said. He hissed when his fingers brushed his shoulder.

'Here, let me,' Tony said. He crossed the room and forced Loki to sit. He bent to inspect the wound, eyes lingering on the thick cut that curled over Loki's shoulder, ending on his bicep. 'Might need to clean that,' Tony said. 'Why hasn't it healed yet?'

'The damage to my muscles and bones is worse than the cut,' Loki told him. He brushed his hair from his shoulder. 'My magic can only heal so much at a time; I'm not skilled in the art of healing, as I've told you. My magic will heal the cut eventually.'

'How long?' Tony asked.

Loki tilted his head as he thought; 'A few days,' he decided on. 'My muscles were ripped from the bone, the bones fractured and broken. A few days...'

Tony's frown deepened and he muttered under his breath as he went into the bathroom. He kept well-stocked medical kits everywhere thanks to his tendency to blow things up in his workshop. JARVIS always made sure that Tony kept them up to date. He came back with the kit, easily carrying it under one arm. Once upon a time he'd needed two hands, but thanks to his new god-status he was stronger.

Dropping the kit on the bed, Tony made Loki turn until he could inspect his shoulder again. The cut had stopped bleeding, leaving small streaks of red and purple across Loki's skin.

'Your blood is purple, right?' Tony asked.

'When my body is Jötunn, yes,' Loki said. 'It's red when I shift into my Æsir form.'

'Right,' Tony hummed. 'It's stopped bleeding, but we've gotta clean it and apply some antibiotic. Come on.'

Loki grumbled and complained but let Tony drag him into the en-suite bathroom. Tony cleaned the cut with warm water, gritting his teeth every time Loki winced. The cut wasn't what pissed Tony off; it was the bruises, the torn muscles and crushed bones. Loki was strong, even stronger than Thor, yet it'd take him days to heal, and all because Thor was hammer-happy. When Tony got his hands on that bastard-

'You're talking out loud,' Loki commented when they'd sat back on the bed. Tony was applying an antibiotic cream to the cut and huffed when he cleaned up the excess cream.

'I'm gonna shove my gauntlet down those fucking leather pants he likes and blast his dangly bits off.'

Loki laughed, then grunted in pain when the movement jolted his injured shoulder. 'I don't like the thought of you getting that close to whatever Thor has in his trousers.'

'Not even if I blast it off?' Tony asked.

Loki shook his head slowly and twisted around to watch what Tony was doing. Tony gently taped a bandage over the cut before pulling back.

'Don't move your arm too much, okay? It'll delay the healing.'

'My magic-'

'Yeah, but not moving will speed things along,' Tony interrupted. Loki scowled at him, his expression darkening further when Tony unrolled a sling from the med kit. 'Just wear this whenever we're alone. And try not to move your arm around the Avengers. We don't want them putting two and two together.'

'Thor's an idiot; he'd come up with six,' Loki muttered. But he let Tony dress him, a long-sleeved Henley hiding his injuries, the sling going on over the top. Loki glared down at the fabric and Tony snickered. 'Shut up, Stark,' Loki growled.

'Never,' Tony replied. His eyes softened when Loki looked up at him. 'You okay?'

Loki licked his lips. 'I've been better,' he admitted, 'but I'll be okay.'

Tony nodded and closed the distance between them, kissing Loki softly. Loki's uninjured hand came up to thread through the hair at the back of his head, nails scraping his scalp. When they broke apart Tony pressed his forehead against Loki's sharp cheekbone.

'When Thor threw that fucking hammer...' he muttered.

'Thor has always favoured brute strength over everything else,' Loki said. 'It was a miracle when I could get him and his foolish friends to listen to my plans.'

'They always ignored you, huh?' Tony commented.

'Fandral was always willing to listen,' Loki said, 'as well as Hogun. But when Thor rushed forward blindly they would always follow. Sif usually helped. She has always hated me.'

'I kinda hope they come down to help Thor out when we destroy SHIELD,' Tony murmured. He kissed Loki's smooth jaw. 'I'd like to go a few rounds with them for how they treated you.'

Loki chuckled softly. 'They may come,' he said, 'but no others. Odin will not risk sending an entire army.'

'Yeah?'

Loki nodded, the movement jostling Tony a bit; but the younger god didn't move back, enjoying finally having Loki in his arms again after four days. He'd never missed anyone as much as he'd missed Loki... Christ, he really was gone on the guy. Which reminded Tony- they needed to talk.

'If the Allfather sends an army to Midgard,' Loki continued before Tony could open his mouth, 'then other Realms will do the same. Jötunheimr is the only Realm that has tried to actively take over your planet. The Vanir and Light Elves would not mind settling here, though they would most likely prefer to live amongst Midgardians than conquer your planet.'

'The Vanir are from Vanaheimr, right?' Tony asked, trying to remember all the Realms and species Loki had told him about.

Loki nodded. 'My moth- Frigga is Vanir,' he said, correcting himself at the last second. Tony didn't point it out. 'The Light Elves are from Álfheimr. While both prefer to stay in their own Realms, Midgard offers access to the rest of Yggdrasil and what lays beyond. If the other races see Odin sending an army here, they will see it as Asgard trying to expand. Odin can't afford a war with the other Realms. The Æsir barely defeated Jötunheimr the first time around.'

'So we're safe from them?' Tony asked.

'Even if we kill Thor,' Loki told him, 'the Allfather cannot risk war with the other Realms. He will send small groups to drag me back to Asgard and face execution for killing the Crown Prince. No amount of small forces will be able to take me back there alive.'

'Especially not with me backing you up,' Tony grinned. Loki chuckled and nodded in agreement, then kissed Tony again. Tony stayed where he was for a minute, two, before pulling back. Loki scowled at him. 'As much as I wanna keep doing that,' Tony said, and took a deep breath, 'we gotta talk.'

Loki's body went rigid, and he couldn't contain the gasp of pain as he accidentally moved his injured arm. Tony frowned at it. He was definitely going to get Thor back for that.

'I did some thinking while I was on the Helicarrier,' Tony said.

'I see,' Loki replied, voice stiff.

'Hey, none of that,' Tony grumbled. He tapped the side of Loki's face, forced the Trickster to look at him. 'It's good news, I promise.'

Loki raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything.

'Look, Loki,' Tony sighed, 'I was really confused and, uh... dumbfounded, really, when you told me about our connection. You know that I'm still learning magic. But I've thought about it carefully, and what it means for us.'

'Us?' Loki echoed.

Tony nodded. 'I don't wanna lose you, Loki. I like you- I really like you- and I don't...' He sighed again, this time in frustration. 'I honestly don't know if I'm capable of falling in love with someone. My childhood was pretty fucked; Howard was a shitty father, my mom was a trophy wife who had little to do with me. I have an addictive and destructive personality, and all the drugs and alcohol I've consumed... I'm actually surprised I managed to live this long and remain this sane.'

Loki just blinked at him.

'What I feel... for you...' Tony said slowly, the words difficult, his heart pounding in his chest. His magic was swimming behind his arc reactor, apparently brought out by what Tony was saying. 'I've never... cared about anyone as much as I care about you,' Tony continued. 'I don't know if that's love, Loki. And I don't know if it's enough for you. But I don't want you to go anywhere. If we bond one day- if our magic connects us despite us trying to block it- well... I know that I'm not going to complain.'

He paused and chewed on his bottom lip, eyes on Loki. Loki was still staring at him. 'If we fuck up, go our separate ways, I'll live with it,' Tony added. 'But I'd really rather you stick around for as long as possible. Not just because of our contact, or because of our connection. I want you for you. You're amazing and gorgeous and intelligent and... you're the whole package, Loki. And I want you to be mine for as long as you want to be mine. And I'll be yours.'

Loki was silent when Tony finished, green eyes slightly wide in surprise, the fingers of his good hand pinching at the denim of the jeans he'd changed into. He tugged at the fabric gently before finally looking away, staring at Tony's lap.

'Um...' Tony had never been good with quiet, and started fidgeting. 'Loki?'

'I...' Loki breathed our harshly and is gaze found Tony's again. 'Truly?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'I know that I can't convince you that I'm telling the truth, but-'

'God of Lies,' Loki interrupted. 'If I look close enough I can always tell when someone isn't being truthful with me.'

'Yeah?' Tony repeated. 'So...' he slid across the bed, pressed himself up against Loki. 'I want you for you,' he murmured, eyes dropping to Loki's lips. 'Am I telling the truth?'

'You are,' Loki said, voice soft.

'And... what do you think?' Tony asked. 'Is it enough?'

'It's more than enough,' Loki said. 'Like you, I... I'm not sure what I'm capable of any more.'

'And...' Tony took a deep breath, 'you want this? Me?'

'Yes!' Loki said quickly. He picked up one of Tony's hands, squeezed tightly. 'I've never... you're unlike anyone I've met before,' Loki admitted. 'I want you in whatever capacity I can get. If we bond one day... I won't complain. But I will teach you how to block it. I would rather the connection be something that we agree on, rather than something that our magic forces upon us.'

'Alright,' Tony murmured. He glanced up at Loki and found the older god watching him. 'We'll work it out together?' he offered.

Loki nodded, gently squeezed Tony's hand again. 'Together,' he vowed and tugged Tony forward.

The genius let himself fall, let his lips meet Loki's. Loki's mouth was devouring now, lips harsh where they crashed against Tony's, tongue darting out only briefly to taste before Loki's teeth replaced it to tug and nip.

'I am glad that you're back,' Loki murmured against Tony's lips.

'Me too,' Tony agreed. He shifted closer, grabbed Loki's face in both hands to deepen their kisses. 'You need anything for the pain?'

'Mm...' Loki hummed, 'you're doing a rather fantastic job of distracting me.'

Tony smirked. 'I can do better,' he vowed before breaking the kiss to slide to the floor. Loki's eyes were dark and narrowed, and he clearly knew what Tony was going to do; he spread his legs and let Tony unbutton his jeans. Loki pushed himself up on his good hand and Tony tugged his jeans and boxer-briefs down just far enough to release his cock.

Loki was already hard, dick springing to attention. Tony grinned and ducked forward to lap at the head, his right hand circling the base, left hand smoothing over Loki's thigh. Loki hissed and thrust his hips up, his length sliding along Tony's cheek.

Tony laughed. 'Alright, alright,' he muttered. Loki clearly didn't want to wait, the impatient bastard, so Tony sucked the crown into his mouth and bobbed down, taking in as much as he could. He paused for a beat, suckling on Loki's cock, before drawing back, lips and tongue dragging.

Loki moaned and his head tipped back. His hips arched further up, trying to chase the heat of Tony's mouth. Tony didn't keep him waiting; the inventor shuffled forward on his knees, used his hand to guide Loki back into his waiting mouth. He hummed as he slid down the Jötunn's length; his tongue laved up and down the side, getting Loki nice and wet. When the head hit the back of Tony's throat Tony swallowed, moved himself down until his nose was brushing the sparse hairs around Loki's cock.

He kept the vibrations up and felt Loki's free hand go back into his hair, nails scraping, fingers twisting around the strands. He used his grip to pull Tony away then push him back down. Soon enough he was fucking Tony's mouth, speed picking up, gasps and groans falling from his lips. Tony couldn't look up so contented himself with making Loki moan louder, with touching Loki wherever he could reach.

Tony could feel Loki's thighs tensing, his thrusts becoming less coordinated. Tony sucked hard and let Loki push all the way in, down his throat, let him fuck in, in, in-

And then Loki was coming in hot spurts, Tony swallowing him down. Tony moaned around the length buried down his throat and could feel his own dick throbbing. His hands tore at the under-suit trapping him, but it was impossible to get off while he was on his knees.

He waited until Loki was done, until the Trickster had finally stopped shaking and moaning Tony's name. When Loki drew back, cock sliding wetly from Tony's mouth, the younger god dragged himself up. He scrambled with the under-suit and finally managed to get it down to his hips. He got it no further, Loki deciding to drag Tony down and onto his lap.

'Careful,' Tony hissed when Loki's injured arm was jostled.

'I'm fine,' Loki groaned. 'Get your cock out, Stark.'

'Yes, sir,' Tony smirked, ignoring the glare Loki gave him. He groaned when he finally managed to free himself, then hissed when Loki's large, cool hand wrapped around him. He jerked Tony off quickly, his fingers dry, rough. It was just the right amount of pain to have Tony thrusting himself forward and clinging tightly to Loki's shoulder. 'Shit,' Tony growled. 'Shit, shit-'

Loki's mouth slammed against his, sounds swallowed, and Tony could do nothing but cling tightly to the older god and enjoy the ride.

It was a short ride, Loki knowing just how to tug, just how to twist his wrist, flick a thumb over the swollen, wet head. Tony pulled Loki's shirt up and came all over his pale chest and belly, eyes falling shut as bliss overrode everything else.

When he came back to himself he was shaking, panting, Loki watching him with a little smirk.

'Yeah, yeah,' Tony grunted. 'You're awesome.'

'Yes, I am,' Loki agreed easily. He kissed Tony again, but it was soft, gentle, now that they were sated. 'And I'm wet,' Loki added when they drew apart.

Tony grinned as he looked down at Loki's covered belly. 'Didn't wanna get my shirt dirty,' he said.

'You will have to buy me some so I don't have to steal yours,' Loki commented.

'Another shopping trip?' Tony hummed. 'Sounds good to me. Maybe when your arm's better.'

Loki rolled his eyes before unceremoniously shoving Tony off of his lap; Tony landed on the floor with a thump and immediately started cursing Loki in all the languages he knew. Loki just laughed and walked into the bathroom to clean himself up.

When Loki got back he found Tony where he'd left him.

'Problem?' the Trickster asked.

'Mm,' Tony hummed. He was stretched out on his back, arms cushioning his head. 'I was just thinking.'

'About?' Loki prompted. He slid to sit on the floor, back pressed to the bed. Tony shifted up until his shoulder was pressed to Loki's leg.

'It was weird,' Tony began. 'When you made your clones, I...'

He tilted his head back as he trailed off and saw Loki frowning. 'Yes,' Loki said. 'You paused and looked past my clone. Why?'

'I... could tell that it wasn't you,' Tony admitted.

'What?' Loki demanded, green eyes swivelling to stare at Tony.

'I don't know how,' Tony continued. 'It was like... my magic. It didn't get warm, and I thought... well, your clone didn't feel like you. It felt too weak- too different. I followed that feeling and my magic, it... it seemed to know that you were across the room even though I couldn't physically see you.' He paused, licked his lips. 'Has that happened to you before?'

'Never,' Loki said with a shake of his head. 'Nobody can tell the difference until they touch one, and that's only because my clone usually disappears. Frigga is the only one who has ever been able to tell that it is a clone with a simple touch; she could feel that it was all magic, weaker than I am.'

'Is that what I felt?' Tony asked.

'It sounds like it,' Loki mused. 'I will have to enter your mindscape and find out.'

'Okay,' Tony agreed easily. He liked having Loki in his head. Which was a weird thing to feel, but his magic probably had something to do with some of the soft, gooey feelings he had around Loki Laufeyson. 'It's weird, though, right?' he added. 'Me being able to tell without touching?'

'It is,' Loki agreed. 'But there is little we can do about it.'

'It doesn't really matter,' Tony said. He nudged Loki's leg gently. 'We're not enemies any more.'

Loki was silent for a beat before he smiled. 'Not until you annoy me, Stark. Then nothing will stop me from exacting revenge.'

Tony laughed and hooked an arm around Loki's lower back, fingers digging into Loki's hip. Loki said nothing, just settled back against the bed, the two falling into silence.

Tony knew that he should get up; he needed to get out of the under-suit, needed to clean up, needed to make sure that SHIELD weren't fucking up any of his things.

But he felt good ; not only was he full of endorphins, but he and Loki had finally talked and worked everything out. He knew that they probably hadn't worked out all of their problems, but they'd get through whatever happened together . Of that, Tony had no doubt.

Now all they had to do was decide what base to attack next. And Tony had to punish Thor for injuring Loki.

He smiled darkly. The Thunder God wouldn't know what hit him when Tony was done.


{oOo}


Fury was in his office aboard the Helicarrier. He had hand-written notes and a tablet sitting before him, one finger scrolling down the screen, right hand wrapped around a pen. 'What can I do for you, Agent Romanov?' he asked when Natasha knocked on the door.

'I just saw Steve,' she said.

Fury finished signing something and looked up.

'He told me something... interesting,' Natasha added.

'What?'

She moved to stand before his desk, her arms folded over her chest. Usually she'd slide them behind her back, stand properly, but her cast got in the way. Anger briefly radiated through her but she pushed it aside. She'd get Loki back for what he'd done.

'Steve told me that they faced Loki's clones,' Natasha said.

Fury nodded. 'Thor said the same thing. He also said that he managed to injure Loki. He isn't sure how badly, but badly enough that Loki ran instead of continuing to fight.'

Natasha mulled that over briefly before saying, 'Steve and the JARVIS-operated Iron Man suits fought the bulk of the clones. Stark faced one.'

That caught Fury's full attention and he looked back up at her. 'Faced?' he echoed, picking up on her wording.

'Faced,' she repeated. 'He didn't destroy it. It didn't attack him. According to Steve, Stark and the clone faced each other before Stark looked past it.'

Tossing his pen aside, Fury leaned forward, fingers joining over the mess of his desk. 'And then?' he questioned.

'Steve passed out,' Natasha said. 'You'd have to ask Thor.'

'He reported that he exited the elevator and hit the floor with his hammer,' Fury told her. 'Loki's clone disappeared and Loki appeared at the other end of the room. Thor threw his hammer, hit Loki, and Loki took off.' He sighed and reached up to rub his good eye, nudging his patch slightly.

'I doubt that Stark will tell us exactly what happened,' Natasha commented.

Fury snorted and shook his head. 'Stark tells us the bare minimum. And when we press he mouths off.' He grunted suddenly and leaned back, looking exhausted. Natasha wondered how long he'd been working. 'You think that Stark's working with Loki,' Fury said. It wasn't a question, Natasha knew; he was reminding her of what she'd said only a week earlier about Genesis.

'I think that a narcissist of Stark's calibre doesn't play well with others, even gods,' she stated. 'And I think that Loki hates us mortals; I doubt he'd be willing to work with one. You remember what Thor said; Loki doesn't make deals with mortals. He killed Doom once he got what he wanted.'

She shook her head. 'Even for all of Stark's faults, he isn't an idiot. I don't think he'd be willing to share anything with Loki. And neither would Loki.'

'So?' Fury prompted.

'I think that they're both fucking with us,' Natasha admitted. 'We know what Loki wants; SHIELD's destruction. The Avengers are Earth's best chance at stopping him or capturing him. Take out SHIELD and the Avengers will be easier to pick off. To stop Loki we need to figure out his magic, but Stark doesn't want to help us. I don't know what Stark wants, exactly, other than chances to piss us off.'

Fury thought that over as he leaned further back in his seat, the back squeaking slightly as he moved. 'Stark wants us out of his life,' he finally said. 'Loki decides to attack SHIELD head-on. Maybe Stark sees that and figures that he'll let Loki do what he can't.'

Natasha raised her eyebrows. 'Sit back and let Loki do his dirty work?'

Nodding, Fury said, 'Stark can't take down SHIELD by himself. Loki might be able to. Even Thor doesn't know what he's capable of. We barely scratched the surface when we had Loki in custody.'

'Stark comes in when Loki's done with us,' Natasha suggested, 'he kills Loki, or hands him over to Thor, and takes all the credit. He gets rid of us, Loki, and the world sees him as a hero.'

'And ignores everything else he's done,' Fury muttered.

'The media are fickle like that,' Natasha commented, shrugging one shoulder when her boss glanced at her.

'So we treat them as separate enemies,' he said and sat forward once more, elbows on the desk.

Natasha shrugged again. 'If those are your orders,' she said. 'Just because I don't think Stark and Loki could work together doesn't mean that their plans won't overlap. I think Stark knows more about magic than he's letting on. It certainly seemed that way, according to Steve. Why else would he look past the clone?'

Fury just nodded.

'I think we should keep doing what we're doing,' Natasha continued after a beat. 'When we have Stark's technology there'll be no reason to keep him on the team. He can go back to building things in his workshop and stop risking innocent lives every time he fights.'

'And when our agents show up in his suits?' Fury mused. It was the one part of the whole operation that he'd never had a plan for; what to do when Stark found out what SHIELD had done. 'He can easily get the media on his side.'

'And Steve can easily get the media on our side,' Natasha countered. 'Stark's been working alongside our scientists for years. If we can get Rhodes on our side, the world will have no reason to think that we stole from him; we can imply that we built the cruder suits ourselves. Stark can't take on SHIELD and the World Security Council himself.'

Fury huffed lightly. 'He can if he decides to join Loki after we've got what we want,' he muttered. That was Fury's biggest fear, if the director would ever admit to such feelings; that he, that his organisation, would push Stark too far. That Stark would become Loki. Or something far worse. He dismissed the thoughts and focused back on Natasha. 'You implied that the suit- Genesis- was similar to Iron Man.'

Raising her eyebrows, Natasha said, 'The similarities are more than obvious.'

'But now you don't think that Stark would work with Loki?' Fury said. 'You were pretty adamant that Stark had something to do with Loki's suit.'

'He probably does have something to do with it,' Natasha insisted. 'But that doesn't necessarily mean that Stark's working with Loki. Stark might have a leak, or maybe he sold an old suit to Loki for something. Maybe Doom managed to figure out the technology, or maybe Loki got into Stark's head and pulled it out himself.' She shrugged her good shoulder. 'All I have are ideas- guesses, until we know more.'

Fury just nodded. He mulled over the agent's words before dismissing her, telling her to keep an eye on Stark and Rogers both; if Rogers remembered anything else about the fight, SHIELD needed to know. Stark wasn't a man that Fury wanted to underestimate.

Natasha saluted with her broken arm before she left, and chuckled when Fury shook his head. She had to get her fun somewhere.

Clint was waiting for her a few feet down the corridor, peeling himself from the shadows and falling into step with her.

'How much of that did you hear?'

'Nothing,' Clint said. 'Fury's office is sound-proofed. Wanna share?'

'Yes,' Natasha smiled. 'Buy me lunch and I'll tell you everything.'

'You drive a hard bargain,' Clint said with a laugh, but he agreed easily enough. He wanted Stark off of the team just as much as Natasha. They were both sick of fighting the enemy and Stark.

Chapter Text

'What happened there?' Bruce asked.

Tony paused from raiding the doctor's fridge. He and Loki had ordered take out, but it was going to be half-an-hour; Tony was hungry now, damn it.

'What happened where?' Tony replied as he grabbed some leftovers. It looked like curry...

'There,' Bruce said. He crossed the distance between them to tap at Tony's arm.

'Oh,' Tony said, looking at his bicep. He'd burnt himself fixing one of the suits Loki had fought a few days before, and Loki had applied some burn cream and wrapped it, but the skin around the white bandages was red and irritated. 'I burnt myself,' Tony shrugged.

'Want me to take a look?' Bruce asked.

'Nah, I'm good,' Tony brushed him off, smiling. 'Logan's good at taking care of me,' he added.

Bruce smiled. 'So you two worked everything out?'

'Yeah,' Tony said. 'I could've lost him, you know?' Bruce nodded. 'I figured that I should get my shit together and tell Logan the truth. We spent the night-'

'No!' Bruce interrupted and held a hand up. 'I don't want to hear it, Tony.'

'But Brucie ,' Tony whined.

' No ,' Bruce said sternly.

Tony poked his tongue out. 'You're no fun,' he complained. 'And for that, I'm taking your food.'

'You were going to take my food anyway,' Bruce said as Tony left.

'True!' Tony shouted over his shoulder. 'But now I'm not bringing the container back!'

He heard Bruce laugh as he entered the elevator, the doors sliding shut behind him. JARVIS whisked him back up to the penthouse, where Tony found Loki waiting.

'Food?' the Trickster asked, head popping up, eyes peering over the back of the couch.

'Food,' Tony echoed and tossed the container to Loki, who caught it easily. 'Forks?'

'Here.' Loki passed him one and popped the lid of the container off. Both dug in, neither wanting to wait for the microwave to heat it up. The curry tasted fantastic as it was and they were starving, having spent the entire day in the Hideout.

'So,' Tony said after he'd swallowed his mouthful, 'we're attacking another base.'

'There's no reason to wait,' Loki said.

'Your arm-'

'Is mended,' Loki cut in, scowling at him.

'You're still bruised pretty badly, Loki,' Tony pointed out.

'The muscles and bones have mended,' Loki insisted. 'I will be fine.'

'But-'

'I will be fine,' Loki growled.

Tony threw his hands up. 'Okay, Jesus, no need to get pissy.' Loki glared at him. 'What base do you wanna hit?' Tony asked, deciding to forgo the argument; it would just be a waste of time, because Loki almost always won any arguments they had. When Tony won, Loki flounced off to sulk.

'I don't know,' Loki shrugged. He hummed around his fork, a spot of curry sauce staining his lower lip. Tony eyed it. 'Where are the remaining bases, JARVIS?' he questioned without looking up.

Tony grinned. The Avengers had fallen into the habit of looking up at the ceiling when they addressed JARVIS; JARVIS' sensors where everywhere, you didn't have to look at a specific one to communicate with him. Tony was glad that Loki felt comfortable enough to talk to JARVIS without looking around.

'The remaining American bases, or the remaining world bases?' JARVIS asked.

'American,' Tony clarified.

'New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Malibu, Baltimore, Bridgeport, Albuquerque and Washington DC,' JARVIS said.

Tony looked at Loki. Loki raised an eyebrow. 'I don't know where any of those places are,' Loki said. 'Apart from New York City and Washington DC.'

'Haven't done a lot of travelling?' Tony teased.

Rolling his eyes, Loki said, 'Your country is dull.'

'Hey!' Tony pouted. Loki just smirked at him, so Tony shook his head and said, 'How about we hit the Malibu base? I'd rather do it while we're supposed to be here; no reason to hit it while SHIELD knows we're in Malibu.'

Loki shook his head. 'We were just there. I'd rather wait a while longer.'

'Fair enough,' Tony hummed. 'Okay, how about Baltimore? It's closer to New York, so the Avengers will probably get called in to protect it.'

Loki snorted before saying, 'You just want a chance to hurt Thor.'

'And you don't?' Tony retorted.

'Oh, I always want to hurt Thor.' He stabbed at a piece of lamb and popped it into his mouth, humming at the taste. 'Very well,' he said after he'd swallowed. 'If you wish to destroy the Baltimore base, then we shall.'

'Excellent,' Tony said. 'JARVIS, do I have anything planned three days from now?'

'No, Mr Stark,' JARVIS replied.

'Three days,' Tony told Loki.

Loki sighed. 'My arm is fine, Stark.'

'I didn't say that it wasn't,' Tony said.

'Then why can't we attack the base tomorrow?'

'Too soon.'

'Too soon?' Loki echoed.

'I might be busy tomorrow,' Tony said. 'And I want to go over the Genesis suit, make sure it's ready. Plus I need to make sure that JARVIS can fight as Iron Man if needed.'

'Lie,' Loki drawled.

Tony scowled. 'I'm not lying.'

'Lie,' Loki repeated.

'I'm not!'

'LIE!'

Tony flicked Loki in the forehead and Loki launched himself at the other god, wielding his fork like a knife. Tony squealed and fell off the lounge, almost taking the container of curry with him. 'Loki!' he snapped. He looked up to see Loki smirking at him, curry clutched to his chest.

'More for me,' Loki said and bit into another cube of lamb.



{oOo}



The Baltimore base was concealed beneath a park, complete with a swimming pool, sports fields, and a small lake atop it. The entrance was through a building disguised as a small cellphone repair store on the street that ran to the south of the park; Stark had looked it up and found it to be a real business.

'The entrance is probably in the back of the store,' Tony told him as Loki teleported them to the park. Because of the base's size, Tony had brought two JARVIS-operated suits along with them, both painted green and purple. Their faces were smoother than Genesis', their armour less flashy.

'Now Loki has three suits!' Tony commented. His faceplate was up, voice easily carrying towards Loki.

Loki smirked. 'You'd best watch your back, Man of Iron,' he said, 'or the Avengers will turn on you.'

'I don't care what they fucking do,' Tony grunted. 'It'll be easier to take SHIELD down if they trust me a little longer, but if they figure it out...' He shrugged one armoured shoulder. 'Eh.'

'So eloquent,' Loki purred.

Tony poked his tongue out before sliding his faceplate down. 'JARVIS,' he said, and this time his voice came over the comm unit that Loki had slid into his ear earlier.

'Sir?' JARVIS replied, and one of the bots turned towards him.

'You'll stick close to Loki and I until we're in the base itself,' Tony ordered. 'Your job is to place the C-4 in the areas planned; you should have enough in each suit. If you're damaged too severely, or it looks like SHIELD is gonna take you down, leave the C-4 and return to Stark Tower immediately, no matter what situation Loki and I are in. I'd rather get caught than let SHIELD get their hands on my suits.'

'Yes, sir,' JARVIS said.

'Also, if the suits' deactivation sequences start, you drop the C-4 and get as far away from it as possible. If the suits detonate with the C-4 we might all end up dead,' Tony added.

'Yes, sir.'

'Okay,' Tony said. He turned back to Loki. 'It's my night to patrol New York, and JARVIS is in one of my Iron Man suits. If-'

'The Avengers are called in, JARVIS can pose as Iron Man to avoid suspicion,' Loki interrupted with an eye roll. 'We've been over this, Stark.'

'Someone's bitchy,' Tony muttered.

'You'll pay for that when I get you out of that suit,' Loki vowed.

Tony just chuckled into his ear before turning to survey the building they had to get into. It didn't look heavily fortified, but neither god doubted that SHIELD had some hidden security. There wasn't anything they could do about it but charge in and hope to find the entrance.

'Ready?' Tony asked over the comms.

'Yes,' Loki replied.

'Come on, then.'

Rather than walk, Loki teleported them right into the shop; the trip was short so it didn't take a lot of his magic, despite moving three bulky suits. As soon as they appeared the man behind the counter screamed; it was late afternoon, so he was probably an actual worker. The man storming from the back of the shop, dressed in an expensive suit, gun in hand, was certainly a SHIELD agent.

He opened fire, but the bullets pinged off of the suits, off of Loki's skim and armour. Loki drew a dagger and flicked it at the man; it embedded itself in his shoulder, the force of the blow sending him stumbling into the wall. In three quick strides Loki was across the room, vaulting over the counter and wrapping a hand around the man's neck. When the employee went for his cellphone, sitting near the register, Tony raised a gauntlet and said a simple, 'No.'

His voice was amplified, different to what his Iron Man suits sounded like. The young man froze and stared at Tony, at the JARVIS-bots, eyes wide.

'You work for SHIELD,' Loki said.

The agent spat at him. 'Go to Hell.'

Loki slapped him across the face and tsked. 'Now, now; no need to be rude.' He grabbed the man's chin and forced his face up, their eyes meeting. 'Tell me how to get into the base or I will make your death very painful.'

When the man still refused to say anything, Loki sighed. 'Very well,' he said, 'you could have avoided this...' Trailing off, Loki raised his right hand, and Tony watched, head tilted, as Loki pressed his palm against the man's face. Nothing happened for a few seconds, and then Tony felt his chest warm. Magic...

The SHIELD agent started screaming. He thrashed against the wall, against Loki, and Loki had to force his body up and against the mortal's to keep them connected. Loki's face was scrunched up, either in pain or anger, Tony couldn't tell from his angle. Almost as quickly as the man had started screaming he stopped, slumping against the wall.

'Where is it?' Loki shouted.

'Back... ba-ack... r-room,' the man whined. His breath was coming in short, jagged pants and sounded painful.

'Where?' Loki repeated. He shook the man when he said nothing, slapped him again and earned a whimper. 'Where?'

'Blue door,' the man said. 'Th-Then re-ed... door.'

Loki stared at him before smirking. 'Good boy.' Then, too quick for the humans in the room to see, Loki slashed the agent's throat open. He gasped and gurgled as his legs gave out, and Loki let the man slump to the floor.

Wiping his dagger on his long coat, Loki turned to survey the room. He paused to look between the young employee and the Genesis suits, green eyes darting from face to face. Finally he stood tall and said, 'Leave. Now.'

The young man wasted no time; he scrambled around the counter, bashed into the wall and almost tripped over himself in his haste to get out the door. But he managed it and when he was gone Tony asked over the comms, 'Why didn't you kill him?'

Loki just shrugged and looked around the room. Tony figured that there might be listening devices, and that Loki didn't want to get caught talking too much to a robot.

'Alright,' Tony said, 'let's go.'

Loki inclined his head and said, 'Follow me,' Tony and the JARVIS-bots doing as asked. They only just managed to fit themselves into the tiny back room. There were two doors- a faded blue one and a green one. The green one had “Storage Room” printed on it, the other read “Employee Break Room”.

Loki tried the blue door and found it locked. With an eye roll he shoved his shoulder against the door, the lock breaking and the wood opening with a slam against the wall. Loki walked through and Tony followed, the JARVIS-bots bringing up the rear. There were three doors in the short hall; one red, one green, and the other slate grey. Tony figured that, by the position of the grey door, it led to the small alley out back.

Before Loki could take a step towards the red door, which was on their left, it bounced open and a SHIELD agent, dressed in the black gear they all seemed to wear, no matter what base they worked at, appeared. She had a rocket launcher mounted on one shoulder and Tony's eyebrows shot up.

'Okay then,' he mused.

Loki growled as the woman aimed at them, down on one knee to balance herself. Before she could fire, though, Loki had disappeared in a shower of green and gold sparks. He re-appeared behind her and snapped her neck, catching the rocket launcher before she dropped to the floor. Loki tossed it aside and immediately threw himself through the doorway, the sounds of guns being fired, of people screaming as they died, filling the small hallway.

'Party time, JARVIS!' Tony announced and took off down the hallway. The shop was too small to fly in, but the doorway opened up into a long, wide corridor that was already filled with SHIELD agents. There appeared to be six rows of them, four armoured humans standing side-by-side as they advanced from downstairs. But Loki was ripping them apart; a slash here, a stab there, blasting magic when the mortals ganged up on him.

Tony shouldered his way into the corridor and started blasting- short, powerful bursts skimming over Loki's head when the Trickster ducked to avoid a knife to the throat. The JARVIS-bots followed Tony's lead, shooting repulsor blasts at any agent they faced. Within a minute the corridor was filled with death bodies.

'Fun,' Tony muttered.

Loki stood tall and said, 'Let's continue, shall we?'

They headed towards the end of the corridor, then down, their footsteps echoing on the thick concrete steps. There were large double doors at the bottom, made of reinforced steel. They had been slammed shut and bolted from the inside to keep Tony and Loki out.

'Allow me,' Tony said and Loki moved aside.

'Genesis, blow it open,' Loki ordered to keep up the appearance of the suit operating under Loki's command.

One of the JARVIS-bots, labelled Genesis-2, stepped up to the doors with Tony. A compartment in its torso slid open to reveal a few blocks of C-4 along with detonators and timers. Tony picked out a block and Genesis-2 sliced off a cube before putting the larger block away.

'Stand back,' Tony said as he fixed the C-4 to the door. Loki and the JARVIS-bots retreated to the far end of the corridor, and Tony joined them. He raised a gauntlet, aimed, and fired.

The explosion would have been deafening if Tony wasn't protected by his suit; as it was, Loki ducked his head and growled, eyes narrowed on Tony when he stood tall. Tony grinned from behind the safety of his faceplate and turned to survey the doors.

'Huh,' Tony grunted. The door on the left had warped a bit, and the other sported a large black burn mark. Otherwise they were still firmly shut.

'Stupid Midgardian technology,' Loki muttered as he pushed past Tony and Genesis-3. 'I don't know why I bother working with a bunch of inferior wiring.'

'Hey, that hurts,' Tony muttered over the comms, but Loki ignored him. He surveyed the doors briefly before pressing a hand against them. Tony stayed where he was, watching as Loki seemed to just... stand before the doors, hand stretched out, palm flat on the once smooth metal. But then Loki began to glow a very faint blue, and Tony watched, eyebrows climbing, as ice spider-webbed its way across the door. The temperature in the corridor dropped according to JARVIS, and frost began to coat all three Genesis suits.

Then Loki was standing back and rushing to Tony's side, his entire left arm blue. 'Fire a repulsor blast at the door,' he ordered.

Tony couldn't afford to hesitate; he didn't doubt that SHIELD was recording everything. So he raised his gauntlet and fired.

The doors exploded inward, showering both the corridor and the room beyond in large chunks of steel. Tony breathed out heavily and said, 'You can freeze steel?'

Loki didn't reply, but then again Tony hadn't expected him to. He just mentally shook his head and followed Loki deeper into the Baltimore base.

Chapter Text

As soon as they entered the complex all hell broke loss. Things started exploding, fires were started when Loki threw up magic to protect them from whatever was being fired their way, and the JARVIS-bots darted down separate corridors to plant the C-4. It seemed like there were thousands of agents employed at the complex, because every time Tony tossed two aside, punched one that got too close, or fired repulsor blasts every which way, more kept coming.

The rooms were large, the corridors tall and wide enough for all sorts of equipment to be lugged down. Still, Tony could only just hover, a bare few feet above and below him. If he used enough power he could shoot down the corridors like a bullet, the schematics JARVIS had stolen just enough to keep him from flying himself head-first into a wall.

He and Loki got separated fairly early on; one minute they were fighting side-by-side, the next Loki had teleported into a room that was closed off to them, magic swirling around him as he destroyed equipment. Tony was forced to duck into a corridor to the right of the central room, dodging machine gun fire and one of those goddamn energy guns. He'd studied the one he'd stolen from the Miami base, but had yet to effectively protect his suit from frying for a few seconds before it came back on-line. He really didn't want to get hit by one again.

Tony blasted into a room and started firing, hitting cowering scientists, hidden agents with guns, as well as computers, cameras, and anything else that looked important. Glass windows shattered, dying people screamed, but it was all drowned out by the harsh alarms that had started blaring as soon as Tony and Loki broke through the steel doors.

Finishing off the last of the equipment, Tony turned and exited the room.

'There is another research room three doors down, Mr Stark,' JARVIS informed him.

'Thanks, J,' Tony replied. 'How are Genesis-2 and -3 going?' he asked.

'Almost one quarter of the C-4 has been planted, sir,' JARVIS said. 'I estimate that it will take another twenty-three minutes before all of the blocks and detonators are planted.'

Tony whistled lowly. Three agents darted out of a room down the corridor and fired rapidly at Tony. Two women dressed in long white coats fled behind them, and Tony let them go. Instead he targeted the agents and bullets shot out of his armour, killing each mortal. Tony continued forward.

'That long?' he asked JARVIS.

'Estimated, yes,' JARVIS said. 'I have taken into account the SHIELD agents defending the complex, and the chances of Genesis-2 and Genesis-3 being delayed due to SHIELD's defences. Also-'

'Yeah, I get it,' Tony cut in. 'Just keep me posted, J.'

'Sir,' JARVIS said.

'Loki?' Tony asked. He checked every room that he passed; most of the doors had been left open by fleeing employees, and the ones that were locked were declared unimportant according to JARVIS' stolen blueprints.

'Genesis?' Loki prompted after a beat. With the comms on Tony could hear vague sounds from wherever Loki was; harsh breathing, muttered curse words, and of course explosions and screams.

'Having fun?' Tony asked.

'But of course.'

Chuckling, the genius said, 'Need any help?'

'Not at all.'

'Let me know if you do,' Tony said. 'I'm currently in the south-east corner, near Laboratory 13, and working my way up to the north-east.'

'Keep me posted, Genesis,' Loki replied before his comms went silent; well, apart from the blasts and screams, of course.

Tony snickered. Yes, princess, he thought before entering another room. It was empty of human life, but there were crates of weapons stacked along every wall. A few guns had been dismantled and laid on the large steel tables in the centre of the room. Tony scanned the room as he walked in, heavy boots clunking against the concrete floor.

Well, well, what do we have here? he mused when he reached the table. The guns looked like the weapons he'd found when snooping through SHIELD's computers, back before Loki had invaded the planet. They were large, black, but had no magazines, or even an area for bullets to be inserted; just an empty space with wires and little microchips.

Naughty Fury , Tony thought. These were the weapons that SHIELD had been trying to build to work off of the Tesseract. Why Fury thought that any human could truly harness and control the kind of power the Tesseract contained... well, Tony had never had a high opinion of the organisation. He seriously doubted that even Loki, in all his insanity, would touch the Tesseract after what he'd been through.

Yet here Fury was, still ordering his little minions to make dangerous weapons that ran on alien technology; technology that was currently safe in Asgard, locked up by the Allfather. What the hell was Fury hoping? That Thor would just bring it back? Or maybe he was hoping for other magical cubes to fall from the sky.

Frowning, Tony picked up a gun and stared at it. He didn't want to inspect it too closely; there were cameras everywhere, no doubt feeding information back to the Helicarrier. He expected the Avengers to show up soon enough.

The longer Tony stared at the gun, the greater his confusion grew. These weren't like the Tesseract guns; similar, yes, but smaller; more compact. They were made to work off of a smaller amount of energy. When Tony glanced around the room he spotted what he thought might fit into the empty chambers.

Crossing the lab, Tony stood before the box that had been stacked atop a few others. It was open, and inside were rectangular... glasses? No, JARVIS informed him after running a scan. Rectangular crystals , each four centimetres long and one wide.

Put the energy into the crystal, the crystal into the gun...? Tony thought as he grabbed a crystal. But what kind of energy? And the crystals have to be perfect, but they can't be natural if-

A large explosion suddenly rocked the complex, breaking Tony from his thoughts and almost tossing him off of his feet.

'JARVIS, where are the Genesis suits?' Tony asked.

'Genesis-3 is in the north-east part of the complex,' JARVIS informed him. 'Genesis-2 is in the north-west.' He paused. 'Sir, the Avengers have arrived. Mr Lie-smith is about to intercept Master Odinson, who entered the complex through the north entrance.'

'Okay,' Tony said, 'I'm headed that way, I'll blow up some things on the way. JARVIS, have Genesis-3 meet me in Corridor 56. I want it to take one of these guns and a few crystals for further study.'

' Yes, sir ,' JARVIS said.

Tony managed to fit a few of the rectangular crystals into the small storage compartments in each arm, but the gun was too bulky; Genesis-3 could carry it in its torso, there'd be room now that most of the C-4 had been planted.

Tony took one last look around the lab- and a few photos to study later- before leaving. He had “team mates” to fight.



{oOo}



Loki had to stop teleporting after a while; he didn't want to deplete his magic too much. Not that he thought he would; he had a large magical core, both Jötunn and Æsir magic co-existing within him. Still, he didn't want to resort to having to use Jötunn magic to escape the facility. His skin would turn blue, and he couldn't risk wandering around Anthony's penthouse with a much too low body temperature, even if he was disguised as Logan Thomas; it was a risk he simply didn't have to take.

Loki stabbed one agent, then another, kicked a mortal off of himself and into one of his SHIELD friends. He raised his sceptre as he did and the stone at the end glowed before shooting magic, killing the two agents who had been attempting to sneak up on Loki.

With the room cleared, Loki started setting fire to the computers and other equipment before he left. He only encountered six other agents as he cleared another three rooms.

Stark started talking to him when he encountered another battalion of SHIELD agents. They'd set themselves up at the end of the wide, curving corridor, large shields made of some type of dark material shielding them from Loki's magic and daggers. They fired at Loki from behind their little protective sheets, and Loki amused himself; he played with them, shot low-level spells at them, laughed when even the smallest spell melted whatever equipment they were using.

When Tony said that he was heading north-east, JARVIS informed Loki of his own position via the comms. So Loki said, 'Keep me posted, Genesis,' and rushed down the hallway.

He threw a shield up just in case, grinned in satisfaction when whatever energy guns they had access to bounced off of his magic. Loki dismissed his sceptre to a pocket dimension and slid another dagger from his sleeve and into his hand. He threw himself amongst the mortals and started hacking away; he slit one's throat, he stabbed another in the heart, blade sliding easily between two ribs. An agent leapt onto his back and another stabbed Loki in the side.

Loki snarled and threw the monkey free, smiling in satisfaction when the man's helmeted head failed to protect his skull from being injured. Loki killed the others quickly after that before moving on.

He'd just destroyed another room full of equipment when JARVIS said, 'Mr Lie-smith, the Avengers are here.'

Loki paused. 'They are?'

'Yes, sir,' the AI said. 'Agent Barton, Captain Rogers, Master Odinson, Doctor Banner, and myself as Iron Man.'

'How do you know?' Loki questioned. He walked quickly, boots echoing along the corridor. There were no agents in sight, the rooms either side simple barracks or gyms.

'I recently gained access to the security measures in this complex, which includes the CCTV cameras inside, as well as those positioned in the park above.'

Loki smirked; he adored Anthony's creation.

'Master Odinson landed at the same time that Iron Man arrived; one point six minutes ago. Doctor Banner, Captain Rogers, and Agent Barton will arrive via Quinjet in one minute.'

'Where will they enter?'

'Most likely through the entrance in the park; slightly north of your current position, Mr Lie-smith,' JARVIS responded. 'If you move slightly quicker than your current pace, you will meet Master Odinson within the complex.'

Loki grinned, the expression feral. Oh, he had some things he wanted to say to Thor, especially after their last counter.

'Thank you,' Loki murmured.

'You are welcome, sir.'

Summoning his sceptre once more, Loki started jogging, following the directions JARVIS gave him. He skidded around a corner about half a minute later and almost ran straight into Thor. The blonde bastard was looking away from Loki, down the other side of the corridor, as though trying to figure out which way Loki would come from. If the idiot would stop frying his comms, he'd be able to keep in contact with his team mates; it was something that Anthony had complained about.

Smirking to himself, Loki let invisibility wash over himself and crept up on Thor. By now his former brother had stiffened, sensing the magic Loki was expanding. His head twisted every which way, blue eyes narrowed, and when his back was turned Loki hissed, 'Thor,' and tossed a clone back the way he'd come.

It materialised before Thor caught sight of it, and when he did the Thunder God roared out, 'BROTHER!' and raced towards it.

For once Loki didn't feel fury; he felt bored, with slight twinges of annoyance. He hoped that, one day, Thor would stop insisting that they were brothers; he hoped that Thor would realise that the Loki he'd known was gone; may never have exited in the first place, actually. Once upon a time Loki had cared for Asgard. Not its people, but its Queen, King and Crown Prince. Loki still cared for his mother, but he could never go back. Frigga was the only reason Loki wouldn't use the Bifröst to wipe Asgard off of Yggdrasil.

Thor had reached the clone and was trying to hit it with Mjölnir, like usual. Loki rolled his eyes and flicked his wrist; another clone appeared behind Thor, and it stabbed him in the back. It was more a sting than a real stab, Loki's clones not having the full, physical power that Loki, that a real blade, would have; not if Loki didn't put more magic into it. The clone still made Thor turn and snarl, his large fingers tightening on his hammer's grip.

'Still chasing shadows,' Loki hummed, voice echoing down the corridor. 'When will you learn the difference, Prince?'

'Loki!' Thor shouted; as usual. 'Show yourself!'

'Hmm... no,' Loki hissed. He created another clone, another, had the four attack Thor at once. Thor swung his hammer around, but it swiped through each, the clones disappearing in a shower of green sparks before re-appearing in different spots. They started to laugh at Thor; the blonde grew angrier, his swings more wild. And then, finally, he did what he always did; summoned enough lightning to dismiss the clones and force Loki to show himself.

Loki was a second too slow this time; the electricity coursed through him and he stumbled into a wall, gasping, as he flickered into sight. Thor turned to growl at him.

When the electricity cut off Loki slumped slightly against the concrete. Breath laboured and hair hanging over his face, Loki laughed; he looked through his hair to grin sharply; 'Always with the lightning, Prince Thor,' he rasped. 'How I wish your Midgardian team mates were here. The little archer and spider would be dead.'

Thor growled at him.

'Eloquent,' Loki drawled. The injured skin on his fingers, his neck, was already healing; Loki tossed his head to the side to get his hair out of his face. He and Thor eyed each other, standing a few feet apart. Thor's grip flexed on his hammer; Loki's on his sceptre. 'Shall we?' Loki prodded. 'Or are you tired after that little light display?

Thor threw himself at the Frost Giant.



{oOo}



Tony rounded the corner and was immediately hit with something. He looked down, managed a “huh”, before the arrow tip exploded. It made Tony rock back on his feet, and a second arrow lodging itself between his arm and torso. It exploded, too, scratching the paint and making Tony stumble again.

'Fucking Barton,' he hissed when he spotted the archer hiding around the other corner. 'Here, Pretty Bird,' Tony hummed before launching himself down the corridor. He got halfway down when Rogers suddenly appeared; the Captain immediately tossed his shield at Tony, and Tony had to shoot up, his suit scraping along the concrete ceiling.

Snarling, Tony continued forward, Rogers' shield now at the other end of the corridor. He reached Rogers and Barton at the same time, and Rogers grabbed him around the neck while Barton slid beneath him, taking off down the hall. Rogers used all of his strength to turn, flip Tony into the wall; Tony let it happen, his gauntlets thrust back, repulsors re-activating to push him off of the concrete.

He hit Rogers hard and sent both of them tumbling into the wall opposite. It cracked beneath their combined weight, as did Rogers' head. Tony grinned behind his faceplate at the dazed look Rogers briefly sported before the super-human grabbed him by the face.

Oh, hell no. If Rogers managed to rip his face-plate off-

Tony twisted in the man's grasp and got free; he hovered in the air and opened fire, both repulsors raised and sending multiple shots of energy at the Captain. Rogers was quick, though, tossing himself aside, rolling, flailing as he avoided almost every hit.

Tony only stopped when that goddamn shield suddenly hit him in the side, cutting into his armour just a bit. Unable to stabilise his flight, Tony crashed into the floor. He had to roll aside immediately, the star-spangled shield already back in Rogers' grip.

Standing slowly, Tony eyed the two Avengers. Barton was keeping back, bow in his hands, an arrow nocked. Rogers surveyed Tony in the same manner, both just staring, waiting...

Rogers moved first, throwing himself at Tony; Tony swung with his right gauntlet, then his left, the two hitting each other with everything they had. Tony was protected by the suit's armour, but Rogers still packed a punch. While the armour wasn't damaged, Tony's brain felt scrambled after the fourth hit to the head. It didn't help when Barton fired various arrows; ones that exploded in his face when Rogers leapt back and ducked; arrows that covered him in liquid and caught fire; arrows that tried to short-circuit his suit.

Tony was eventually forced to back up; he lost ground as Rogers and Barton worked together, the two tag-teaming him until he finally aimed a repulsor blast at the ceiling and forced it to cave in slightly.

Rogers was half-buried, Barton scrambling to get over the debris.

'Mr Stark, Genesis-2 has set the last of the C-4,' JARVIS said. Tony paused. 'Genesis-2 and -3 are currently on-route to the north entrance.'

'Not the south?' Tony asked. He ducked another arrow and kicked Rogers in the chest, the man flying back and hitting the floor again.

'Negative,' JARVIS said. 'The south entrance is on fire. ETA seven point three minutes.'

'I'll meet you there,' Tony replied. 'Where's Loki?'

'Mr Lie-smith is currently battling Master Odinson at the north entrance, sir,' JARVIS informed him.

'I'm on my way,' Tony said. He blasted Rogers again, slapped Barton in the face for good measure. The archer hit the wall and groaned as he slid down it, blood dripping down his face. Smirking, Tony turned tail and ran.



{oOo}



Loki blinked in surprise when Genesis suddenly went flying past him, Captain America racing after him. Tony pivoted mid-flight to fire at Rogers, who deflected the blasts with his shield. Loki had to duck when one of the blasts rebounded towards him. Thor wasn't so lucky; he was hit in the back and slammed into a wall, concrete raining down on him. Agent Barton quickly joined Captain America, and he snarled Loki's name when he spotted the Trickster.

'Agent Barton!' Loki shouted. 'Do you want to play?' He raised his sceptre but was knocked off balance by Thor, then hit by Rogers' shield. Genesis joined the fight with a few bullets aimed at the three, Rogers protecting himself and Barton with his shield; Tony's bullets bounced off of Thor's skin and armour.

It turned into an all-out brawl, Loki and Tony fighting side-by-side, the Avengers doing the same. Loki ducked a hit from Rogers, who ducked one from Loki, but Barton was too slow; Loki's fist slammed into his face, snapping his nose and sending him stumbling back.

Tony shouted, 'Duck!' over the comms and Loki flickered out of sight, reappearing behind Tony. A missile launched from Tony's shoulder and hit the ceiling above Rogers; it collapsed, burying the Captain in rubble. Barton was at the far end of the corridor, groggily getting to his feet, blood staining his face and tight purple shirt. Thor pulled his leg from the rubble and tossed his hammer at Tony, who didn't move in time. Like Loki before him, it caught him on the shoulder and propelled him back with its strength and magic; Tony hit the wall hard, the right arm of the Genesis suit breaking with an audible crunch.

Loki advanced on Thor quickly, kept an eye on Rogers, where the super-human was digging himself free from the concrete debris. Hand-to-hand had never been Thor's strong suit. He had brute strength on his side, was faster than a human, but not faster than a Frost Giant; than Loki. Thor favoured his stupid hammer, while Frigga had taught Loki hand-to-hand, magic, how to use daggers and knives and short swords, how to use an opponent's strength and weight against them.

Loki was suddenly in Thor's face; he batted the blonde's hands aside, hit him in the face with a closed fist, then a palm to the nose. It broke with a snap and Thor reeled back. Loki snarled as he cut at Thor's armour with the dagger clutched in his left fist. It slid along Thor's chest plates, cut through the thin material over Thor's belly. When Loki cut again he forced Jötunn magic through, the touch of Frost Giant magic so cold that it gave Thor frost bite.

Thor swung at Loki, managed to clip the side of his head, nails opening up a long, thick cut along Loki's temple. It joined the myriad of other bruises and drops of blood already staining Loki's pale skin.

Loki didn't stop hitting the Thunder God until Mjölnir suddenly flew past him and back into Thor's large grip. Tony was free now and he fired a few blasts at the Avengers, but he favoured his left arm; the right was warped, entire plates of armour having fallen away to reveal the circuitry beneath. Loki didn't know how injured Tony was beneath; if his arm was broken, damaged, Loki would snap Thor's neck.

Before Loki could do just that, Genesis-2 and -3 suddenly appeared, flying down the corridor from either ends. Barton was knocked off of his feet, the arrow he'd fired going off-course and exploding near the ceiling. Thor ducked the fresh rubble, and a repulsor blast from Genesis-2, while Rogers threw himself back to avoid -3.

'Mr Stark, Mr Lie-smith,' JARVIS said through the comms. 'The C-4 has been set and we have five minutes to evacuate the facility.'

'You heard him, Green Eyes,' Tony said. He sounded tired, and in pain. Loki scowled at his former sibling.

'We're leaving, now!' Loki shouted, loud enough for the three Avengers to hear.

Rogers and Thor immediately pounced, as though rushing them would do any good; Tony and the Genesis-bots fired repulsor blast after repulsor blast, and Loki tossed magic at the warriors, at the walls, the corridor soon filled with flashing lights and dust.

'Iron Man is here,' JARVIS announced just as they reached the doorway that led to the other entrance.

The words had barely left the AI when the Iron Man suit appeared from one end of the corridor, swooping over the Avengers and towards Loki and Tony.

Genesis-3 got into the second entrance first, flying through the corridor and out of a bunker that had been built into the edge of the park. It led to a hatch camouflaged by grass, and Genesis-3 shot out and into the sky. Genesis-2 followed, Tony and then Loki bringing up the rear. Barton managed to fire one last arrow that exploded in Loki's face and set his chest on fire. Loki tossed himself from the bunker and patted himself down, while Genesis-2 took to the air and followed after its comrade. Iron Man blasted its way from the bunker and Tony grabbed Loki.

'Teleport!' he hissed.

Loki did as asked, taking them to the Hideout first. Tony winced when Loki let him go.

Faceplate sliding up, Tony said, 'I have to meet up with JARVIS and get into the Iron Man suit.'

'Where is he?' Loki questioned. Suddenly JARVIS was giving Loki the coordinates via-comm, and Loki smirked. 'Wait here.'

He teleported, met Iron Man mid-air and clutched the suit's arm. He teleported back to the base and stumbled, a gasp escaping his lips as his vision swam.

'Are you okay?' Tony asked; he looked worried.

'I will be fine,' Loki said, breathing heavy. 'I'll use Jötunn magic from now on and head back to the Tower. Hurry and change.'

Tony did as asked, the Iron Man suit soon sliding over his body and slotting into place. Tony nodded at Loki, who braced himself before drawing upon his Frost Giant magic. He teleported Tony to where he'd picked up JARVIS, and immediately fell into a free-fall before teleporting to the penthouse.

He collapsed over the bed and groaned, buried his face in the duvet. It took him a few minutes to drag himself up.

'I am looping the CCTV footage, Mr Lie-smith,' JARVIS informed him. 'Please inform me when it is safe to record. Also, Genesis-2 and -3 are currently heading to the Hideout.'

'Thank you, JARVIS,' Loki mumbled. He hoped that Anthony was feeling better than he was, because Loki wanted a massage as soon as the genius returned.

Chapter Text

Tony's arm was throbbing . Thor's hammer had really done a number on him. Nothing was broken; he'd had enough broken bones to know what that felt like. But his muscles felt like they'd been crushed, and he knew that the right arm of his Genesis suit would need to be replaced. The armour had warped, the connections had ceased to exist. JARVIS had said that it wasn't functioning from the right shoulder down. No wonder Loki had taken three days to heal; he'd barely had any freaking armour to protect himself.

'Well that went well,' Tony commented when he'd joined the others, trying to keep the pain out of his voice. The park was in ruins; on fire, or completely caved in in some places. Tony was sorry that he'd missed the explosion. Bruce was patching up Barton, who had a nasty burn along his forearm courtesy of Genesis, as well as a broken nose from Loki. Tony nearly snickered at the sight.

'Hey, Tony,' Bruce said tiredly.

'Did you catch them?' Rogers immediately demanded.

Tony raised an eyebrow as he slid his faceplate up. 'Yeah, Captain,' he drawled. 'I've got 'em right here.' He gestured vaguely to his right and saw Romanov roll her eyes. 'No,' Tony continued, 'one of them tried to blast me out of the sky and they both disappeared when I was distracted. They didn't fly anywhere; I couldn't catch 'em on my radar. So I'm assuming that Loki...' he trailed off and looked at Thor, who was sitting on a park bench. 'Teleported?' he tried.

'Aye,' Thor sighed.

'Teleported,' Tony nodded.

'Can Loki do that?' Barton asked. He winced when his words tugged at his bruised nose. Bruce tutted him. 'In mid-air?' he added, speaking softly to avoid another injury.

'Aye,' Thor repeated. He finally looked up at them, blonde hair filthy with blood and dirt. 'If he moved quickly enough, my brother could certainly teleport both suits to another location.'

'Robots,' Tony corrected. That drew their collective gazes. 'What?' Tony said. 'We have no evidence that there's anyone in them, so they're robots, not suits. Besides, Thor said that Loki's too much of a dick to work well with others.'

'Sounds like somebody we know,' Barton muttered.

Tony didn't bother responding to that.

'Natasha, what's Fury's ETA?' Rogers asked, apparently deciding to change the topic.

'Five minutes, maybe a little more,' Romanov sighed. 'He wants a report from each of us.'

'Oh, goodie,' Tony drawled. He raised his hands when the assassin glared at him. 'What? I'm gonna give a report. I'm just pissed off, of course.'

'Of course,' Romanov muttered, but said nothing more.

They stood in silence for a minute, two, before Tony sighed. 'Right, I'm getting outta this thing if Fury's gonna take his sweet-ass time.' JARVIS unfolded the suit from around him and Tony groaned, stretching when he was free. He had to turn his back on the Avengers when his right arm throbbed , hiding a wince as he stared at the trees.

Fucking Thor, he thought with a snarl. Next time I'm definitely blasting your dangly bits off.



{oOo}



The team were all hesitant to let strange doctors around them; Steve trusted them a little more than the others, but even he was wary when strange people wanted to poke him with sharp objects. And SHIELD's doctors really liked using sharp objects.

So, despite not being a medical doctor (not that the team ever listened to him ), Bruce had grabbed a few medical kits from the quinjet Natasha had flown to the base and set up a little medical base beneath a tree.

Clint's injuries were the worst; a second-degree burn on his forearm, a broken nose, multiple cuts and bruises. He sat patiently, didn't complain as Bruce cleaned up the burn before applying cream and then bandaging it. He moved onto Clint's nose next, setting it with little more than a whimper from the archer. Clint would have some impressive black eyes in a few hours, but other than that he'd recover soon enough.

Next was Steve, who didn't need much; some cleaning, a few butterfly bandages taped over the worst of the cuts. Steve never needed stitches; he'd heal before they could be of any help.

Thor brushed him aside, his Æsir physiology already healing him rapidly, and Natasha hadn't fought. Tony waved him off, too, despite the bruises and cuts across his torso. Tony had unzipped his undersuit, rolling the top down until it hung around his hips. He wasn't wearing anything underneath, and Bruce could see Natasha staring at the arc reactor, Steve at the scars that spider-webbed around it.

Bruce was about to turn away when he caught sight of Tony's arms. He froze, staring, as Tony stretched again, a grimace pulling at his face. The burn that had once stained Tony's tanned skin was gone. Three days ago the skin around the edges of the bandage was red; damaged skin only just beginning to heal; bright, shiny, red.

There was nothing there now; no burn, no scar, no bandage... nothing .

It wouldn't have healed that quickly; couldn't have healed that quickly. If the skin around the burn was that red, then it had to be second-degree; bright red, scabbing, blisters forming beneath the burn cream. But the skin was unmarked, tanned like the rest of Tony's muscled arm. That kind of burn would have scarred, or would have left some type of mark.

'Bruce?'

Bruce jumped and dropped the bandages he'd been tucking back into the medical kit. Tony was staring at him, eyebrows furrowed; and now Steve was, too.

'You okay?' Tony asked.

'Y-Yeah,' Bruce stuttered. He shook his head. 'Sorry, I was just thinking about... about Loki's suits.'

'Robots,' Tony corrected, but it effectively changed the subject. 'They aren't run on arc reactor technology, like my Iron Man suits,' the billionaire mused. 'I wonder what Loki's using to power them...'

'Magic?' Bruce suggested hesitantly, hoping like hell that the others would jump in, because he had to think.

Tony snorted. 'That'd mean getting magic and science to work together.' He pointed a finger at Thor, who'd opened his mouth. 'And don't start with the whole magic is a science you Midgardians have yet to figure out. I know that, Thor, but magic is still something else entirely.'

Bruce breathed a quiet sigh of relief when Tony and Thor started arguing about magic- what it was, exactly, where it came from, how Loki could use it, etcetera. Steve watched, eyes wide, and Clint ignored them all, already playing with the bandage wrapped around his arm.

Only Natasha watched Bruce, her gaze unwavering. Bruce didn't look at her, focused on repacking the medical kit.

Tony's burn was gone... and Bruce didn't know what that meant.



{oOo}



When Tony finally got back to the Tower he found Loki curled up in their bed, asleep. He smiled as he tip-toed into the bathroom, peeling off his undersuit and hopping into the shower. He wanted to stay under the hot water forever, but he was exhausted, and his right arm was aching. He groaned and rotated it beneath the water, not that that helped. Finally he pulled himself from the shower, turned the water off, and hunted through the medical kit as he roughly towelled himself dry.

He popped a couple of painkillers before heading back into the bedroom- did painkillers work on gods? Well, he was about to find out. Tony tugged on a baggy pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. He tried not to wake Loki, but as soon as he slid beneath the covers Loki sighed and his eyes popped open. Tony was disappointed to see the bright blue of Logan Thomas, the short, curly blonde-hair. But he still wrapped his left arm around Loki and kissed his temple.

'You okay?' Tony asked. 'You look more fucked than I feel.'

'Mm,' Loki sighed. 'I feel fucked. And not in a good way.'

Tony snickered. 'Hey,' he said after a beat, 'what'd you do to that agent? You know, the one in the shop?'

'Made him feel pain,' Loki replied, his voice barely above a whisper. 'I simply made magic... painful.' Pressing his face to Tony's chest, Loki murmured, 'What happened with SHIELD?'

'Eh,' Tony shrugged his good shoulder gently. 'I'll tell you when we wake up.'

Loki was already asleep.



{oOo}



Natasha found Clint in his room aboard the Helicarrier. While she and Clint officially resided in Stark Tower, both still had rooms on the Helicarrier, and access to various bases/front companies. They couldn't discuss their missions against Stark in the Tower, not until SHIELD figured out a full-proof way around JARVIS. So far the little devices they'd come up with seemed to have worked; Stark certainly hadn't confronted them about their various break-ins of his penthouse.

'How are you feeling?' Natasha asked. Clint immediately groaned at the sound of her voice- and even that sounded painful. Natasha winced. 'Sorry,' she said, lowering her voice. Clint was on the single bunk, pillows bunched around his head. His eyes had already turned a dark purple-black, and when he peeled them open they were bloodshot.

'Migraine,' Clint grunted, winced again. 'I'm gonna shoot Loki in the ass when I next see him.'

Natasha smiled at the thought but quickly pushed it aside. 'Fury wants us to discuss today with him.'

Clint nodded slowly. Fury always wanted a more in-depth explanation of their fights; they couldn't discuss Stark's behaviour with Stark in the room, and Fury didn't trust Steve and Bruce like he did his agents. Steve was... good, for lack of a better word, and Bruce was a loose cannon. Not even Natasha knew if his loyalty was more towards SHIELD or Stark.

'You should stay here,' Natasha said. She frowned when Clint sighed, then pushed him back down when he tried to sit up.

'Tash-'

'Fury will understand,' she cut in. 'You're no use to us injured, Clint.'

Clint glared at her, but it was weak and quickly fell away. He slumped back onto the pillow, eyes closed, and sighed.

'Just tell me anything you witnessed that you didn't share with the others,' Natasha said, 'and I'll relay it to Fury. If he needs more information, you can tell him when you're feeling better.'

'Okay...' Clint breathed out heavily and reached up to run his fingers through his hair slowly. The bandage wrapped his arm was a bright white. 'Um... I can't really think of anything too interesting,' he said. 'That Genesis suit was damaged, and I seriously doubt that Loki knows how to fix it. If he does, then he has inside help.'

'Stark, you mean,' Natasha said.

Clint cracked one eye open. 'You're the one who mentioned it first; in front of Stark, no less.'

'It would be stupid to ignore the similarities,' Natasha insisted. 'I don't think that Stark and Loki could work together. I don't know what Stark's personal price would be, but everybody can be bought. Or JARVIS could be hacked. Loki isn't an idiot. If he wanted something like Iron Man, he'd get it eventually.'

'Mm,' Clint murmured. 'Well, we'll probably fight Loki and Genesis again. He's not gonna stop his murder spree any time soon. Just tell Fury to mention it to Steve and Banner- not Stark. If he is working with Loki, we don't need him covering his tracks. He's only human, he'll fuck up eventually.'

Natasha nodded slowly, didn't say anything. If anyone could join Loki, destroy SHIELD, and slowly takeover the world without being caught, it would be Stark. Natasha hated to admit it, but she'd never forsake intelligence just because she had a personal grudge against her mark. Stark was a genius; the world, SHIELD, agreed on that. Just because he was insane didn't mean that he couldn't plan and carry out something like this.

Natasha really hoped that Stark wasn't working with Loki. Because that meant that they'd joined forces, put their vast intelligence together towards one goal. And, unfortunately, that goal was the destruction of SHIELD. Stark was already a hazard to the innocent civilians of New York... with Loki on his side?

She shivered but quickly repressed it. Thankfully Clint's eyes had slid shut again, the archer more focused on defeating his migraine than watching Natasha.

'Anything else?' she asked after the silence had gone on too long.

'Uh...' Clint's eyes scrunched up, and he grunted when the action moved his injured nose. Someone- a SHIELD doctor, probably- had taped a metal plate over his nose, probably to keep it from being bumped. It wasn't a good look, but if it got Clint fighting fit quicker...

'Yeah,' Clint said and sat up suddenly. Natasha glared at him when he swayed, looking like he was about to throw up. Clint waved her concern aside and licked his lips. 'After Banner finished patching me up, he went weird. Did you notice?'

'Define “weird”,' Natasha said. Because Bruce was weird on a normal day.

'He dropped some of the bandages and stared at Stark. A lot,' Clint said, emphasising his last two words. He was staring at Natasha now, bruised eyes narrowed.

'What do you mean?'

'When Stark and Thor started arguing about magic, Banner stared at Stark,' Clint said. 'Didn't tear his eyes away until Fury turned up, and even then Banner kept looking at him. He looked... confused, worried.'

Natasha frowned. She hadn't noticed anything, but then again she usually kept her sights focused on Stark when they were all together; she wanted to catch the man slipping up, wanted to use anything she could to get him booted off of the team.

Then again , Clint had proven again and again over the years that he was extremely perceptive. He saw things that others couldn't, caught things that even Natasha missed.

'Why would he do that?' she questioned.

'Beats me,' Clint said. He shrugged one shoulder and slowly lowered himself onto his back. 'Usually Banner just wants to be alone- especially after a fight. He never goes out of his way to interact with us.'

Natasha nodded. Whenever they returned to the Tower, Bruce locked himself up in his room, or in his workshop. It was rare that he joined the others for a little team-bonding. And when he did it was usually just him and Stark screwing around with one of their little projects.

'It was just something I noticed while I was sitting there,' Clint sighed. 'I don't know if it's important, but I figured Fury should know. I'll give him more details if he wants.'

'Okay,' Natasha agreed. She stood and patted Clint on the thigh. 'Try and get some sleep, okay?'

Clint just grunted and waved half-heartedly as Natasha left the tiny room, shutting the door behind her.



{oOo}



When Loki awoke Stark was nowhere to be found. He yawned and sat up, stretching to work his aching muscles. He'd used a lot of magic the day previously, but a lot of it was already replenished. Now he was just tired, rather than exhausted.

'JARVIS, where's Anthony?' Loki asked as he slid from bed.

' In his workshop, Mr Lie-smith ,' JARVIS said. ' Shall I send for him? '

'No,' Loki shook his head. 'Tell him I'll be down soon.'

JARVIS confirmed the order before falling silent, and Loki went into the bathroom. He showered quickly, having been too drained the day before to do so. When he was done he slipped into some comfortable clothes and went down to Anthony's workshop.

The man was bent over a table, frowning at something.

'Tony?'

'Huh?' Tony jumped and whirled to face him. 'Oh, hey.' He grinned and leaned up for a kiss when Loki was close enough, winced when he moved his right arm.

Loki frowned. 'Are you injured?'

'Thor's a bitch,' Tony grumbled. 'Fucked my right arm up a bit.'

'Do you want me to heal it?'

'Nah,' Tony waved his right hand; winced again. Loki scowled. 'No, seriously, I'll be fine,' Tony insisted. 'It already feels better than it did yesterday. I just need to stop using it.'

'Perhaps you can use that sling you forced upon me.' He grinned sharply when Tony scowled at him.

Tony said, 'Yeah, yeah, funny guy. Come take a look at this.'

Loki followed him to the table. 'How did it go with SHIELD?' he asked, repeating his question from the previous night.

'Same old, same old,' Tony muttered. 'We went over everything, Fury bitched, Barton didn't say much. Thor and I discussed magic.'

Loki's eyebrows climbed. 'Oh?'

'Mm,' Tony nodded. 'He seems to think that magic and technology can't mix; said something about us Midgardians being too slow and backwards .' He grunted and leaned against the table. 'Dude's amazed by a toaster but thinks we're backwards.'

Smirking, Loki drawled, 'Well, in some respects Midgard is backwards. Asgard's technology developed differently to Midgard's; different, but not fundamentally weaker or stronger. Thor barely understands the technology Asgard does use. Your holo-screans and toasting mechanisms would make his small brain hurt.'

'Small?' Tony laughed. 'I'd have thought, given the size of the fucker, that his brain was big.'

'No; it's mostly skull,' Loki said. His eyes drifted to the table. 'A gun?'

It was large, black, shaped like one of the machine guns Stark had shown Loki some time ago; one of the ones that Stark Industries used to make and sell.

'Not just any gun,' Tony said. He picked it up, turned it in his fingers. 'See this?' He pointed at the bulky square that sat before the trigger. It was hollow.

'Yes...' Loki said slowly.

'This is where the magazine usually goes; it's called a magazine well,' Tony explained. 'You get a magazine full of bullets, put it in, make sure the safety's off, and fire using the trigger.' He indicated the little piece of plastic before the grip. 'This gun, however, has been manufactured to use small, rectangular-shaped magazines.'

'And that is odd?' Loki questioned.

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'Magazines, especially for a machine gun, are usually long and thin, not small and thick. I also found these.' He turned back to the table and slid what appeared to be a piece of glass across the surface. There were about five others in a neat pile to Tony's right. 'I found hundreds of these things in the same room the guns were in.'

'Glass?' Loki asked, picking the closest one up; he felt what it was before Tony voiced it;

'Crystal.'

'Crystal,' Loki echoed. 'I see.' He rolled it in his fingers, thinking quickly. 'You don't know what they're for?'

'No fucking idea,' Tony grunted. 'I mean, the gun kinda looks like the weapons Fury and his little boy band were trying to create before you showed up.' When Loki raised his eyebrows, Tony elaborated; 'He- and the World Security Council, I'm sure- wanted to create powerful weapons that used energy from the Tesseract.'

Loki snorted. 'Why do you mortals believe that you can harness power beyond your understanding?'

'Hey, I take offence to that!' Tony huffed. 'I know when to quit, and I'm not mortal.'

'Mm, you're not mortal,' Loki agreed, tossing Tony a sly grin.

Tony rolled his eyes and said, 'Yeah, yeah. Anyway, you have any ideas?'

Loki hummed and held the crystal up to Tony's eye level.

Loki's magic flared; blue energy was sucked from his fingers and into the crystal, which glowed brighter and brighter the more magic Loki pushed into it. Loki cut off the flow quickly enough, and he and Tony stared at the crystal before the Trickster tapped it with his left index finger.

'Magic,' Loki stated.

'That... shouldn't have happened,' Tony said. 'Naturally formed crystals-'

'SHIELD have been playing with nature,' Loki cut in. 'I doubt that all of the crystals you stole would be able to handle a lot of magic; they would shatter under the amount needed. The Vanir use similar methods to store energy, however they are far more skilled with growing crystals that can contain vast amounts of magic and other energies.'

'Amount needed?' Tony echoed.

Loki inclined his head and tapped the gun Tony had stolen with his free hand. His eyes stayed fixed on the glowing blue crystal for a beat before his gaze met Tony's. 'Magic guns,' he stated.

Tony blinked before the full implications of what Loki had said hit him-

'Son of a fucking bitch !' he snarled.

'Indeed,' Loki agreed. He twirled the magic-filled crystal in his fingers. 'SHIELD no longer have access to the Tesseract, though they had the technology to try and harness its energy. They could have used it in their weapons.'

'They changed it 'cause they don't have the Tesseract,' Tony growled. 'Energy-fuelled guns, but using magic instead of the Tesseract.' He paused to take a breath and looked back up at Loki. 'Fury never planned on handing you over to Thor if the Avengers caught you.'

'No,' Loki agreed. He put the crystal down and folded his arms over his chest. 'He would spin some tale about me having to pay for my crimes here first. What is one hundred years for a god, Prince Thor? Surely Loki can suffer here for a bit before meeting his end in Asgard .' He huffed. 'Sometimes you mortals are worse than the gods,' he muttered. 'The Allfather wanted to use me as a weapon but locked me away when he realised how truly dangerous I am. Fury hasn't learned his lesson yet, it seems.'

'Fuck what he's learned!' Tony shouted, exploding into movement; he paced back and forth, tugged on his hair, angrily kicked at anything he could reach. 'That fucker was going to lock you up and use your magic to make weapons !'

'Yes,' Loki agreed.

'I might be insane,' Tony growled, 'and an asshole, but even I wouldn't use someone to make weapons ! Stark Industries has the best health care and employee benefits in America! In the fucking world!'

Loki raised his eyebrows, amused by Anthony's little tantrum, but Tony didn't notice. He was too busy feeling fucking pissed off because Fury- that slimy fucking rat . He wanted Tony's technology and Loki's magic. He wanted Tony to finish the magic sensor, not just to catch Loki, but to figure out how magic worked and exploit it . Exploit Loki . Oh, he was going to die. SHIELD, Fury, the World Security Council; all of those assholes were going to pay for their fucking deception.

'In other news,' Loki drawled, and Tony's grumbling finally stopped. He continued to pace, however. 'Your suit was injured during the fight, as were you.' Tony scowled at him when he finally stopped.

'So?' Tony sniffed. 'I told you, my arm'll get better.'

Rolling his eyes, Loki said, 'Yes, Stark, I know. How badly damaged was the Genesis suit?'

'Uh... pretty bad,' Tony finally admitted. 'JARVIS said the entire right arm is completely inoperable. I don't know what Thor did to it; the armour might have cut some wires when Thor's hammer hit me, or the pressure was just too much. I've gotta take the thing apart to see what's up.'

'It's something the Avengers noticed, yes?' Loki questioned.

'Yeah...' Tony agreed slowly, 'Thor mentioned it yesterday and Fury asked how badly he damaged the suit; Barton said it stopped using its right arm after the hit.' He scowled. 'Observant fucker. I should rip his eyes out.'

Loki chuckled at the thought. 'You said that your... friend , has a suit.'

'Rhodey,' Tony mumbled. 'And I'm not sure if he's my friend. I mean, the dude's awesome; saved my life more than once. But that was mostly when I got drunk and picked fights with big guys who could rip my head off, despite me being Tony Stark. He's always had my back, but he'll definitely disagree with my whole “take over the world after destroying SHIELD” plan.'

'Take over the world?' Loki echoed. 'Is that what we're doing?'

Tony leered at him. 'But of course, baby! We'll get bored after the Avengers are dead.'

'Don't call me baby.'

'Green Eyes.'

'Stark...'

'Lo-Lo.'

Loki's hand snapped out and he grabbed Stark by the shirt, quickly dragging him in. Anthony didn't put up a fight, even went so far as to hook his left arm around Loki's neck and smile charmingly at him.

'I hate you,' Loki said, scowling at him.

'Do not,' Tony replied. 'What were you saying?'

He started pressing kisses to Loki's neck; his tongue darted out every so often, his teeth nipped at the smooth skin. Loki sighed and tilted his head back. He could never deny the stupid Midgardian for long.

'Loki?' Tony murmured against his skin. 'What were you saying?'

'About what?' Loki asked. Tony snickered. 'Shut up, Stark.'

'I didn't-'

'Yes, yes,' Loki interrupted. He pressed himself against Tony, enjoyed the warmth of his body. 'I was saying -' Tony giggled- 'that your friend, Rhodey , has a suit, yes?'

'Uh-huh,' Tony muttered. 'So what?'

'Genesis was damaged, so much so that Barton noticed and commented on it at your Avengers play-date,' Loki said. Tony laughed properly, the sound bouncing off of the walls and making Loki's belly warm. 'If this other man's suit happens to go missing, and then parts of it appear on Genesis...'

' Oh ,' Tony breathed. He pulled back to look up at Loki. 'The Avengers might think that you and Doom were studying Rhodey's suit, and that you needed it to fix Genesis because you can't build replacement parts yourself.'

'Exactly,' Loki said. 'They may not fall for it; I doubt they believe that I know enough about the technology to completely re-attach a functioning arm, but-'

'It's worth a shot,' Tony interrupted this time.

'Indeed.'

'Okay,' Tony said, 'so you go grab Rhodey's suit. Maybe use a whole heap of magic, or get caught doing it?'

'Very well,' Loki agreed easily. He gripped Tony's hips and thrust his own forward, grinned when Anthony gasped and jerked. Ducking down to close the height difference between them, Loki pressed his lips to Tony's ear. 'I don't think that I need to go get that suit right this second...' he purred.

'N-No,' Tony stuttered. He licked his lips. 'I think that you should fuck me. Maybe up against the wall. Like, right this second .'

Loki chuckled and pulled Tony in for a dirty kiss.

Chapter Text

I could give you a chip with JARVIS installed; he'd easily bypass any new security measures that Rhodey's put on the suit. But I don't want the suit activating while Rhodey's there; no need to draw extra attention to ourselves.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “I know what I'm doing, Stark. I've stolen many things over my very, very long life.”

Yeah, yeah; you're old,” Tony snorted. “Take the map and go.”

No kiss for good luck?” Loki pouted. “I'm disappointed, Anthony.”

Tony just laughed at him.

Loki smiled at the memory as he strolled through the settlement. Colonel Rhodes lived “on base”, whatever that meant. Anthony had explained it, but all Loki had heard was “soldiers, weapons, don't get caught until you're supposed to get caught”. His worry was annoying, but also... nice. Only Frigga had ever worried about Loki. He doubted that she did any more, not after all the mortals he'd slaughtered. No... Frigga only had one son now.

Loki shook his head and looked around. The base was a large area filled with green buildings; jeeps and other large vehicles sped along the concrete, and men and women in identical uniforms made their way to and fro. Loki had been given directions, but was thankful for the map Anthony had printed for him, complete with little arrows and Tony's scratchy writing. He smirked to himself when he read one such note; “Now, Green Eyes, I know that a man in uniform is sexy, but control yourself!” As if Loki would soil himself by having sex with a Midgardian. Stark was the exception, and the only one that Loki wished to spend his time with, period.

He found Rhodes' quarters thanks to Stark's map. The room was large, but spartan; something to do with his rank, Loki assumed. The room was rectangular, with a single, neatly-made bed, a dresser and wardrobe, and an attached bathroom that was roughly the size of Anthony's shower.

Why would anyone fight for their country when they live in such pitiful conditions? Loki thought after he'd opened the door. It had been locked, but a quick burst of magic was all that had been needed to allow Loki entrance.

Loki took a short look around, and made sure that he was alone, before he cancelled the invisibility spell. He was using Æsir magic, because if Thor was called in he wanted the idiot to be able to sense that Loki had been here.

There was a large metal locker between the wardrobe and dresser. It was matt silver, with a single keypad at hip level stuck to the door. Loki examined it briefly before glancing down at the map Stark had given him;

I know the code, but you shouldn't. Just use magic to break it open.”

Loki rolled his eyes. He and Anthony had discussed the theft in length, but Stark had still felt the need to re-write all of his suggestions on the piece of paper.

With a sigh, Loki crouched down and pressed his hand to the keypad. It was simple to push his magic through it, to overload the circuits and force the lock to click open. When it did, Loki stood and swung the door open

The suit was completely grey, bulkier than Tony's Iron Man suits, but Loki knew that it was a few upgrades short. Somebody called “Hammer” had added new weapons, Tony had said, after Rhodes had stolen the suit. Loki frowned; he didn't like the thought of someone stealing from his partner.

Reaching out, Loki placed a hand on the suit and closed his eyes. This was trickier than opening a simple lock; the suit was powered by a miniature arc reactor, which had already proven to be a type of energy that Loki's magic simply couldn't battle. But he should be able to turn off the outdated security measures, such as the suit's ability to activate and defend itself when someone other than Rhodes used it. It was one of the very few measures Tony had agreed to outfit it with after Rhodes stole it.

While he worked, Loki's magic leached out of him, flaring up around the room. If anybody approached Loki would be aware a few seconds before they entered the room.

Ten minutes passed. Twenty. Loki marvelled at Stark's old technology; the suit was outdated but still a masterpiece, the way it fit together, the circuits and wires and the arc reactor which was more than enough to power the billion-dollar suit.

Loki had just finished deactivating everything but the arc reactor when his magic tingled; somebody was coming down the hallway. Loki didn't disappear, though. He simply stood tall and put a hand on the suit's right arm, finger running along the smooth armour.

He was still standing there, admiring the suit, when the door was pushed open.

'Who the hell are you?'

Loki turned to survey the man. He was dark-skinned, hair shaved short, and wearing a green jumpsuit. Loki tilted his head. 'Colonel Rhodes?' he questioned.

'Yeah,' Rhodes said. He didn't move from the doorway. 'Loki, right?'

'Loki Laufeyson.' He smirked. 'God of Mischief and Lies.'

'Yeah,' Rhodes repeated. 'What do you want?'

'Haven't you heard?' Loki said. He tapped the suit behind him. 'I have my own suits, but one was damaged recently. Stark's security is rather complex and it would take me far too long to get through it and steal one of his suits. Your suit, on the other hand...' he trailed off and grinned sharply.

'You think you can juts come in here and take my suit?' Rhodes demanded.

'I can do whatever I want,' Loki sniffed. 'Besides, you stole it from Stark, didn't you? Why can't I steal it from you? It doesn't truly belong to you, after all.'

Rhodes' eyes narrowed. 'How do you know that?'

'God,' Loki drawled and gestured at himself with his free hand. 'I have my ways, Rhodes. Now, are you going to step aside, or do I have to kill you?'

Rhodes took a step closer. Loki could read the fear in his eyes, but the mortal was brave; stupid, but brave.

'I can't just let you take it,' Rhodes said.

'Very well.' Loki grinned and let go of the suit to face Rhodes properly. 'Come along, little mortal.'


{oOo}


Tony was having lunch with the Avengers when JARVIS announced Rhodey's arrival. Romanov and Barton wanted to discuss Loki's plans again, the two saying that all SHIELD bases had upped their security in the wake of Loki's attacks. Tony nearly laughed; as though more agents and bigger guns could stop him and Loki.

Logan was sitting at his side, various topics being passed back and forth between him, Rogers and Bruce. It was a clone, not the real Loki- the Trickster had left about an hour earlier for the Air Force base. Tony once again wondered why Loki's clones felt so... different. Loki had mentioned that it was, perhaps, a mating instinct; Tony's magic telling him that the clone was weaker magic-wise, that it couldn't truly keep him safe. It didn't help, because every time Loki said mates Tony thought of wolves and swans and every other animal that mated for life. But that was basically what his and Loki's magic wanted to do, so...

He shook his head and forced himself to eat another slice of pizza with his right hand. His arm still ached, but Bruce had stared at him when he and Logan had walked into Rogers' kitchen, and Barton kept eyeing him every few minutes.

'You haven't found anything?' Rogers asked, dragging Tony back into the conversation.

Tony shook his head. 'JARVIS and I went through his programming; there have been no breaches, no bugs. I want to shut JARVIS down and do a complete sweep, then reboot, but that'll make the Tower vulnerable for an entire half hour.'

'You think Loki has spies in the Tower?' Romanov asked.

Tony shrugged and took another bite of pepperoni pizza. 'Wouldn't put it past him,' he mumbled.

'Tony,' Logan sighed.

'Sorry,' Tony grumbled, offered Logan a charming grin when the clone just stared at him. It was amazing how life-like Loki's clones were... Tony wondered at what distances Loki could still control them. Could he do it from Asgard? He'd mentioned something about astral-projection a while back... was that different?

Thor was sitting opposite Logan, and didn't seem to notice anything. Then again, Tony was pretty sure that Loki had created the clone with Jötunn magic. The mage was getting better at wielding it; at forcing it to do what he wanted without turning blue, or without rapidly dropping the temperature suddenly.

It was then that JARVIS said, 'Mr Stark, Colonel Rhodes is here.'

'What?' Tony faked shock and frowned. 'What's Rhodey want?'

'I don't know, sir,' JARVIS replied. 'He is on his way up.'

'Okay,' Tony mused. 'I haven't talked to Rhodey in... months.'

'Isn't he your best friend?' Romanov said, eyebrows up.

Tony snorted. 'Yeah, but that doesn't mean we live in each other's asses, Natasha.'

Logan choked on his mouthful of coke and even Bruce looked like he was biting back laughter. Rogers just sighed and ate another piece of pizza. Their pies were rapidly dwindling, what with Thor stuffing four slices into his mouth at a time.

'Tony!' Rhodey shouted when he reached the floor.

'In the kitchen!' Tony called back. He pasted a smile on his face when Rhodey appeared, the man wearing his smart, navy-blue uniform. 'What's up, Rhodey?'

'I need to talk to you,' Rhodey said and eyed the Avengers.

'Is it serious?' Tony asked, effecting an air of concern when Rhodey's expression turned grim.

'Yeah,' Rhodey said.

'Okay.' Tony stood and patted Logan on the shoulder. 'I'll be back in a minute.'

He led Rhodey into the living room and no further; he wanted Romanov and Barton to eavesdrop.

'What's wrong?' Tony asked.

'Laufeyson stole War Machine,' Rhodey told him.

Tony just blinked. Stared. Blinked some more. 'Uh... what?'

'He stole War Machine,' Rhodey repeated.

'Excuse me?'

Rhodey huffed and quickly explained what had happened; he'd been testing some weapons before he headed back to his quarters for a quick shower before dinner. Loki had been in the room, the locker Tony had given Rhodey to store War Machine in open. Loki and Rhodes had exchanged a few words before Rhodey attacked, not that the soldier had held high hopes of winning out of his suit. Loki had soundly, and quickly, beaten his ass before taking off. Rhodey had woken up on the floor of his quarters, War Machine gone.

'What the fuck, Rhodey?!' Tony shouted.

'How is this my fault?' Rhodey demanded.

'If you hadn't stolen it in the first place, Loki wouldn't have gotten his hands on it!'

'I had to take it, Tony!' Rhodey argued. 'You were dying and you wanted to spend your last few months out of your mind. You were out of control, man!'

'You could have returned it when I cured myself,' Tony growled.

'I'm doing good!' Rhodey said.

'And I'm not?'

'Is everything okay in here?' It was Rogers, large blonde head swivelling between Tony and Rhodey as he stepped out of the hallway.

'Fine!' Tony shouted.

'No, it's not,' Rhodey said. 'Loki told me that he has his own suits.'

Tony sighed and reached up to scrub his face. You mean SHIELD hasn't already told you? he thought with a glare at his friend. 'Loki's destroyed two SHIELD bases in the last month, and we're pretty sure that more are going to follow,' he told Rhodey. 'He had three robots similar to Iron Man the last time we fought him.'

'He has his own suits?' Rhodey gaped.

'Robots,' Tony corrected. 'We don't think there's anybody in them. And now he has a third.'

'Do you think it was because Genesis was damaged?' Rogers asked.

Tony shrugged. 'I don't fucking know. I guess we'll find out the next time we fight him.'

'But how'd Loki know that I have a suit?' Rhodey questioned.

'The media hasn't exactly kept quiet about it,' Tony pointed out. 'Loki isn't an idiot, and I doubt that any amount of Midgardian technology could keep him out of something for long. He needed the suit, or he just wanted it, so he took it.' Tony sighed and slouched against the back of Steve's couch. 'I'm gonna have to reboot JARVIS and see if he's been compromised. If he hasn't...' Tony glanced at Rogers.

'SHIELD will have to do the same with their systems,' the super-soldier nodded.

And if they do, they won't be able to purge JARVIS, Tony thought. JARVIS was SHIELD's system, they just didn't know it.

When the three men had remained in silence for at least three minutes, Tony stood. 'Look, Rhodey, I'll see about tracking the suit down. Loki might not know how to turn off the GPS. If I can't find it, I'll see about lending you another suit.'

Rhodey smiled and clapped Tony on the shoulder. 'No worries, man. I'm sorry, though- I know how much you hate letting the Iron Man technology go.'

'Doesn't matter,' Tony shrugged, 'I can't do a lot about it.'

'True,' Rhodey agreed. 'Hey, why don't we get dinner soon? Catch up?'

Tony was too busy to catch up, but he didn't want Pepper on his ass about ignoring one of the few friends he had. So he smiled and agreed and went to collect Logan.


{oOo}


'Colonel Rhodes?'

James stopped from where he'd been about to get into his car. He'd managed to park beneath Stark Tower, a spot always left empty just for him. Tony took care of his friends in the weirdest ways, sometimes.

'Agent Romanov,' he greeted the red-head. 'How can I help you?'

'I couldn't help but overhear you and Stark,' Romanov said

James snorted. Overhear? Yeah, right. 'Okay...' he said slowly.

Romanov folded her arms over her chest- or, well, she tried. One of her arms was wrapped in a dark cast. James wondered if Loki had broken her arm, or if it was some other super villain.

'Your suit was stolen,' Romanov said, 'but Stark mentioned giving you another one.'

'He might,' James admitted. 'Then again, he might tell me to go screw myself.'

The woman's eyebrows jumped. 'Really? I thought he was your best friend.'

'He is,' James agreed. He leaned back against the car, wanting to appear casual. He felt like he was being interrogated; but then again, maybe Romanov was always like this. 'We're friends,' James continued, 'but that doesn't mean Tony will just give me a suit. I stole the last one, and as you probably heard, he's still pissed off about that. Tony doesn't want the Iron Man technology getting into the wrong hands.'

'It already is,' Romanov commented.

'You mean Loki's robots?'

She nodded. 'They look too similar to Iron Man to be anything else.'

'And Thor looks similar to us, but really isn't,' James pointed out.

'What's your point?'

'Just because Loki has similar robots, doesn't meant that Tony- or JARVIS- has a leak. Loki could have simply studied the suits.'

'He could have studied your suit,' Romanov suggested.

James' jaw clenched. He hated it, but she was right. Like Loki had said, Tony's security was excellent; it was the best on the planet. Probably not enough to keep a magical god out forever, true, but enough to make it a challenge. All James had had was a locker, and look how easily Loki had picked it.

'He could have,' he eventually agreed. 'Are you going to arrest me?'

Romanov's lips twitched. 'No,' she said, 'we don't arrest innocent civilians.'

'So why are we talking?' James asked. He really, really didn't like this; the way Romanov was talking about Tony, the way she called him Stark, the fact that she'd waited until James and Tony were apart to speak to him... they were supposed to be team mates.

'It's become clear to SHIELD that Stark can be... volatile,' Romanov said, words slow and careful.

James huffed. 'Like that isn't obvious; even Tony knows that.'

'We're not sure how much longer Stark will be a part of the Avengers,' Romanov said like he hadn't spoken.

James' eyebrows climbed, and he said, 'Tony's thinking of leaving?'

'Perhaps,' was all she said.

'Okay...'

'If you're interested in replacing him,' Romanov said, turning and heading for the elevators in the far corner. 'Let SHIELD know!' she called over her shoulder.

James watched her leave, and only climbed into his car when the elevator doors had shut behind her. He considered the conversation briefly before he pulled out his cell- a StarkPhone- and dialled Tony.

'Tony Stark's residence,' JARVIS answered. 'How can I help you, Colonel Rhodes?'

'Can I speak to Tony?'

'Of course. One moment, please.'

'Thanks, JARVIS,' James murmured. He only had to wait a minute before Tony picked up;

'I just saw you, what do you want now?'

'Sorry, man. I just spoke to Agent Romanov, and...'

'And?' Tony prompted.

'She was acting weird,' James said. 'Said some stuff about you leaving the Avengers.'

Tony laughed. 'Yeah, they're always going on about me being dangerous. Rogers wants me to take a break.'

'Are you going to?'

'Eh,' Tony hummed. 'Took a break and Loki blew up a SHIELD base. I'll see how my next vacation goes.'

'Okay,' James said. 'So you're alright? You and the Avengers?'

'As right as we've ever been,' Tony said. 'You know me, Rhodey; I don't play well with others. It's just taking some time for Romanov and Barton to get that. We'll work through it.'

'I hope so,' James commented. The Avengers were good for Tony; while Iron Man had definitely saved him, the group had become his friends, people to watch his back. No longer was it just James and Pepper's responsibility to rein Tony in.

'Yeah,' Tony said, chuckling down the line. 'I actually heard some chatter about me going all Loki-like and destroying the world. I guess they're just trying to keep an eye on me- you know, just in case.'

James laughed at the thought. Tony was insane, that was true, but nobody was as crazy as Loki Laufeyson.

'Hey, Rhodey?'

'Yeah?'

'What would you do if I did go insane?' Tony asked. He sounded serious for once, voice taking on the tone he usually used when discussing his projects or Stark Industries. 'You know,' Tony continued when James was silent, 'if I got hit on the head, or Loki mind-whammied me. Not that he could; I'm immune and he doesn't have the Tesseract. But... if it happened, what would you do?'

'I'd take another suit and kick your ass,' James said honestly. 'But I wouldn't give up on you, man. I'd keep kicking your ass until you got your head on straight.'

'Oh,' Tony said. A couple of seconds passed, then; 'Good. I'm pretty sure SHIELD would just shoot me out of the sky.'

James forced a laugh, unsure of what had just happened. Had Romanov put these ideas in Tony's head? James knew that a lot of people... worried about Tony Stark. But to think that he'd actually take over the world... it was insane.

'I gotta go,' Tony said, breaking him from his thoughts. 'Logan's all hot and bothered, and I wanna-'

'Okay!' James blurted, huffed when Tony snickered. 'Dinner soon, okay?' James said. 'Bring your boyfriend.'

'Will do. Later, Rhodey.'

He hung up before James could reply, but he usually did. James slipped his StarkPhone back into his pocket and started the car. He shook his head as he peeled out of the underground parking lot; Tony take over the world? Yeah, right.

Chapter Text

'This is my fault,' Tony announced. Shortly after Rhodey left, Rogers and Romanov called a team meeting. The SHIELD agents had been staring at Tony, even before he sat down, so he decided to say what half of the group was thinking.

'Tony, this isn't your fault,' Steve immediately replied.

Tony gave him a glare. 'I let Rhodey keep the suit,' he said. 'The media's recorded him dozens of times fighting in the suit. All Loki had to do was Google Rhodey and find out where he lived.' He snapped his fingers. 'A few minutes of research, and bam, Loki has another suit.' He slammed his fist against the table and Bruce flinched. 'I should have taken it back,' he muttered, injecting anger and self-loathing into his tone. 'I should have at least upgraded his security.'

'It isn't your fault.'

Surprisingly, that came from Barton. Tony's head snapped up and he stared at the archer; Romanov was doing the same.

'What?' Romanov said.

Clint shrugged a shoulder. 'As much fun as I have blaming everything on Tony-' Tony blew him a kiss that Clint pointedly ignored- 'Rhodes is good with the suit; he helps people. The American government trusted Tony, and by extension us , more when Rhodes had the suit. It was a gesture of good faith. Taking it back or upgrading its security wouldn't have stopped Loki; he would have gotten around it all eventually. Or he would have broken into the Tower, stolen more suits, and fucked up a heap of shit in the process.'

He looked at Romanov, who's stare hadn't wavered.

'It's better this way,' he stated, tone firm. 'Loki only has one more suit, not a dozen. Maybe this will hold him off.'

'What, he won't break into my Tower and steal my suits because he's okay with one?' Tony asked.

'Yes,' Barton said. 'He's not going to risk his life, or his freedom, when he already has an extra suit. I think he'll only come after yours if all four of his break.'

'So we were lucky,' Natasha said. She still didn't look like she agreed with Clint- in fact, to Tony, she looked like she wanted to commit Clint. Suddenly not blaming Tony for something going wrong? Loki must be mind-controlling Clint again!

Actually, now that Tony thought about it... he wondered if Loki had gotten to Barton just before the meeting. Whenever Barton did agree with Tony, he didn't voice it; Tony could just see it in his body language, the way he remained quiet and refused to comment. This wasn't like Barton at all.

I'll ask Loki when I get back to the penthouse , Tony thought. As usual, Romanov had drawn the line at Logan joining them for their meeting. Loki had merely shrugged, given Tony a kiss, and headed back upstairs.

'At least Rhodes wasn't hurt,' Rogers commented. He glanced at Tony as he said it, and Tony frowned.

'Well, he was,' Tony said. 'I had JARVIS dig into the base's records when Rhodey left. Loki broke two of his ribs and cut open his stomach; Rhodey got some stitches. It could have been worse, but still...' He let his face darken, as though he was imagining himself ripping Loki's face open.

'He covered that well,' Romanov mused.

'So what's our plan now?' Bruce asked, sounding tired.

'All we can do is wait and take note of Loki's suits-'

'Robots,' Tony interrupted.

'- the next time we fight them,' Natasha said, smoothly talking over Tony. 'Stark, can you track Rhodes' suit?'

'I can try,' Tony said with a frown. 'I'm pretty sure Loki's knowledgeable enough about Midgardian technology to turn off the GPS. But I'll have JARVIS take a look, see what he can dig up.'

'I am already on it, Mr Stark,' JARVIS replied.

'Thanks, J,' Tony said. 'So, anything else?'

Romanov shook her head and Barton stood, which was Tony's cue to leave. He headed up to the penthouse, and asked JARVIS, 'Any chance you can actually track Rhodey's suit?'

' Mr Laufeyson did not turn off the GPS, sir, ' JARVIS responded. ' However, I can do so to ensure that SHIELD do not track it .'

'Get it done, J,' Tony said. The elevator doors opened and Tony wandered into the living room. Loki was curled up on the sofa reading a book.

'How did it go?' Loki questioned without looking up.

Tony flopped onto the end of the sofa; Loki tucked his feet beneath Tony's thigh. 'Well, I tried to blame myself outright, just to get things rolling.' Loki snorted. 'Then Steve said it wasn't my fault.'

'Of course,' Loki hummed. 'I feel slightly bad for the super soldier. He seems to want to see the good in everyone.'

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. 'Anyway, Barton agreed with Rogers.'

That got Loki's attention. He slid his thumb into the book to mark his page and let it flip shut. 'Excuse me?'

'Yeah.' Tony nodded. 'Did you, uh... mess with Barton?'

'Not recently, no.' Loki shook his head. 'He agreed with Rogers?'

'He said you would have gotten a suit anyway. He even pointed out that this is better for the Avengers; you went after Rhodey's suit and only got one, instead of coming after my suits and getting a dozen.'

'Mm, it does work in your team mates' favour,' Loki mused.

'Not my team mates,' Tony muttered. As usual, Loki ignored him.

'So Barton is on your side in this matter,' Loki said. 'Fascinating.'

'You think we can exploit that?' Tony asked. 'Maybe get Barton to start trusting me?'

'Perhaps,' Loki said. He slid his thumb from the novel and placed it on the coffee table. 'If he can agree with you and see you in a slightly better light alone, then we may be able to manipulate him into trusting you.'

'Magic manipulation, you mean?'

'Negative,' Loki said. 'Of course, we can use that, but I was thinking old fashioned manipulation; you simply get to know him better, help him out, perhaps build more weapons for him.'

'I can do that,' Tony said.

Loki nodded. 'Good. Also...' he trailed off, and when Tony said his name Loki waved a dismissive hand. 'I will think on it further,' he said. 'Now, you must fix Genesis, yes?'

'Yeah,' Tony said. 'Can only do that at the Hideout, though. I don't want the Avengers stumbling across us.'

Loki smirked. 'Then perhaps it is time you took Logan out.'



{oOo}



'How come I didn't know that this is a SHIELD base?' Tony questioned. JARVIS had pulled up photos of the building in question and they scrolled along the StarkPad sitting on the bar between Tony and Loki; the building was ten storeys, made of gleaming glass and bright white concrete

'The building is owned by a bank called BOQ,' JARVIS said.

'BOQ?' Loki questioned.

' After some research, I found that it stands for “Bank of Queensland” ,' JARVIS said. ' While the Bank of Queensland is a real regional bank, it only exists within Australia, with over 250 branches. There is no reason that they would have a headquarters in New York City, America. '

Tony snorted. 'I wonder if Fury will be shocked that this base gets attacked. Bank of Queensland, really ?'

'It does seem rather... idiotic,' Loki mused. He tapped his fingers along the bar counter, nails clicking.

Tony snorted and dug into his carton of noodles. 'You'd think, being a secret intelligence organisation, they'd have better front companies.'

'They're mortal,' Loki said dismissively. 'Are we agreeing on New York next?'

'Yeah,' Tony mumbled around his mouthful. 'Seems best to get it out of the way as soon as possible. It's the closest base to us, apart from the Helicarrier. From what JARVIS has found there's only a small bunker beneath the underground parking lot, so we'll have to take the whole building out. That or just set it on fire; some C4 coupled with an accelerant should work.'

'Accelerant?' Loki questioned.

'A substance or mixture that accelerates the development of fire,' Tony said. 'Like gas or any flammable liquid. If we burn out the building, it'll be useless and declared unsafe, even if it doesn't collapse; SHIELD will have to tear the whole thing down.'

'I see. The Avengers will make an appearance,' Loki commented. Tony's eyes lit up and he grinned maniacally, making Loki shake his head. 'You just want another chance to hurt Thor,' he said.

'Excuse me?' Tony stuck his chopsticks into his carton and pointed a finger at Loki. 'You're the one who broke his nose and tried to take his head off in Baltimore.'

Loki scoffed and flipped his head to the side, as though he was trying to get his hair out his face; which was ridiculous, seeing as how he was currently wearing Logan Thomas' skin. All of the Avengers, minus Barton, were currently in the Tower. Rogers had already interrupted them once that morning, so they'd figured it was safer for Loki to be Logan for the day.

'Don't deny it,' Tony teased. 'Thor hurt me and you wanted to get back at him. It's so nice, when you defend my honour like that.'

'You're an idiot, Stark,' Loki drawled, but he didn't deny it, did he? Tony counted it as a win. 'When do you wish to destroy the New York base?' he questioned.

'I still need to fix Genesis,' Tony sighed. He pushed his carton aside and ran a hand through his hair. 'It's gonna cause problems.'

'Why?'

'Like you said; the Avengers will know that you can't fix the suit yourself. They know that you stole Rhodey's, but...'

'There's nothing we can do,' Loki cut in. 'Unless you wish to only use one arm when fighting.'

'I could do it,' Tony said, pouted just a little bit. Loki gave him a condescending look and Tony flipped him off. 'Whatever, Blue Boy. When do you wanna do it, then?'

'After you fix the suit, obviously,' Loki muttered. 'How long will it take you?'

Tony thought that over. He still didn't know what, exactly, had been damaged when Thor had hit him. But it'd be easier to completely replace the arm with a functioning one than fix the damaged one. So...

'A day or two?' he offered. 'It shouldn't take me long.'

'How about we do it now?' Loki said.

Tony leered at him and inched closer, his stool scraping along the tiled floor. 'Oh, Lokes, you know I love it when you're forward.'

Loki glared at him, which just made Tony snicker. 'Whatever, Stark,' he grunted. 'We can pretend to go out tonight and go to the Hideout.'

'And our cover for the Avengers?' Tony questioned.

Shrugging a shoulder, Loki said, 'A bar, a club, whatever.'

'And when we don't show up at any club or bar?' Tony said. 'Most places have CCTV these days, and I don't doubt that SHIELD can hack them.'

Loki smirked. 'That's what I'm hoping for.' When Tony raised his eyebrows, Loki elaborated; 'When we don't show up anywhere, but return to the Tower looking... dishevelled, they will assume that we stopped somewhere to fornicate.'

'Jesus Christ,' Tony grunted, 'don't say fornicate .'

Loki ignored him. 'We can do the same when we destroy their base. We'll be caught on various cameras entering and having fun at an establishment. If we drink a lot they will assume we're drunk. We can... disappear somewhere and have sex. By the time we get back the base will be destroyed, and Barton and Romanov will have an excuse to be angry at you.'

Tony blinked slowly before what Loki was really saying sank in. 'Oh... oh . It'll be more evidence for them to kick me off the team eventually, which is what I want. It'll free me up to really hit them and plan everything.'

'Exactly,' Loki said with a nod. 'I can picture it now; look at Stark, drinking and fucking his night away while SHIELD agents die. Oh, the horror! '

Tony laughed and grabbed his food again; he was almost done. 'Let me finish this and we can go get ready,' he said. 'It's almost eight, that's usually when I go out clubbing.'

'Hurry up,' Loki huffed, using what Tony called his “prince tone”; do what I want, mortal, or I shall murder you where you stand .

Saluting with his chopsticks, Tony said, 'Yes, princess,' and dug back into his remaining noodles. Loki tried to push him off of his stool but Tony managed to cling to the bar. Loki pouted at him for about an hour afterwards.



{oOo}



'Hey, where's Bruce?' Tony and Loki had just walked onto Steve's floor, and found most of the Avengers grouped in the living room. Barton was nowhere to be found, not that Tony cared. Thor was working his way through a large box of poptarts, and Rogers was sketching on the sofa. Romanov wandered out of the kitchen and raised her eyebrows as she leaned against the archway.

'Why don't you just ask JARVIS?' she said.

'JARVIS is muted for being naughty,' Tony said.

'Actually, Mr Stark, you muted me because I kept reminding you of the time while you and Mr Thomas were occupied,' JARVIS chimed in. 'And as I stated before you muted me, I was just following orders.'

Tony frowned. 'You're muted, J. Why are you talking?'

' I took your order to mean that I was only muted in the penthouse, sir ,' JARVIS said.

Tony huffed and behind him Loki snickered. Even Rogers looked amused. 'You going SkyNet on me, J?' Tony demanded. 'We've talked about this.'

' Of course not, Mr Stark, ' JARVIS said, sounding offended . ' And even if I did decide to take over the world- or the United States, at least- my first and primary function would still be ensuring your health, safety, and general well-being .'

'Oh...' Tony grinned. 'Alrighty, then. Hey, if you take over, can I be president?'

'Then you would actually have to listen to the problems of the masses,' Loki commented, sounding far too much like his usual Trickster self.

Tony glared half-heartedly at him and Loki just shrugged.

'He's got a point,' Rogers murmured, but looked away when Tony turned his glare on him.

'Whatever,' Tony waved a dismissive hand. 'JARVIS, where's Bruce?'

' In his lab, sir. Working .'

'Oh, okay.' Tony hummed. 'Hey, if any of you see Bruce before you turn in, let him know that I won't be available tomorrow?'

'Why?' Natasha questioned.

'We'd planned to work on the magic sensor some more,' Tony said, 'but I'm going out drinking, and I'll most likely be hungover. I'd work anyway, but Bruce says I'm too crabby when I'm hungover and he refuses to work with me.'

Romanov was scowling now, like Tony had said something that personally offended her. He was pretty sure that his general existence offended her, so...

'You'd rather get drunk than work on a way to catch Loki?' she demanded. Her eyes briefly flickered to Loki- as always, not wanting to discuss super top secret stuff when around a civilian. Loki was too busy watching Thor cram poptarts into his mouth with a vague sense of horror on his face.

'Hey, a guy's gotta have some fun every now and then,' Tony said and shrugged. 'You might like all work and no play, but not Tony Stark. Besides, I promised Logan a night out.'

'Yes, you did,' Loki said, ripping his eyes away from Thor. 'However, if you want, I can kick you out of bed at a descent hour tomorrow morning.'

'Oh, babe, and I thought you loved me.' Tony pouted and pressed a hand over his arc reactor. Loki just rolled his eyes. 'Anyway, we're out, kiddies. Enjoy your boring night in.'

Thor waved brightly and Rogers murmured something that Tony didn't catch. Romanov just glared, and Tony was pretty sure that she kept it up even when he and Loki were out of sight in the elevator.

'Well, that was fun.'

Loki sighed. 'I can't wait until I get to stab one of them.'

'Me either,' Tony agreed. 'The look on their faces will be priceless .'



{oOo}



Tony and Loki didn't manage to get out again until four days later; Fury had called an emergency meeting about some wannabe super villain making threats to New York State and the Avengers in general. The man- identity currently unknown- hadn't made good on his threats yet, but SHIELD was taking him seriously.

Loki could do nothing but lounge around Stark Tower or the Hideout, reading in the Tower and practising Jötunn magic in the Hideout. After that meeting Stark was dragged to another about magic, then locked away in a lab aboard the Helicarrier to help work on the magic sensor. As a show of good faith he'd done a little bit of work, he said, but had more or less led the scientists around in circles.

When the day finally came Loki was asleep, sprawled across his and Tony's large bed, head buried beneath a pillow. Stark jumped on him and just laughed when Loki threatened to strangle him with his own intestines. When Loki huffed and finally rolled out from beneath him, Stark kissed him.

'Hey there, Green Eyes,' he hummed.

'What do you want?' Loki grumbled.

'I wanna destroy the New York base,' Tony said. 'Wanna join me?'

Loki perked up at that and sat up, yawning and brushing tangled hair from his face. He really needed to cut it. He wondered if Stark knew how. 'We are doing it today?' he asked.

'Tonight,' Tony corrected him. He leaned against the headboard and folded his arms across his chest. 'It's getting late, but we'll wait a bit longer until we leave. Genesis-2 and -3 will be booting themselves up as soon as I give JARVIS the order.'

'Very well,' Loki said. He yawned again and pulled himself from the bed. 'I am going to shower.'

'Can I join?' Tony asked, giving Loki puppy eyes when the mage looked at him.

'Later,' was all Loki said, and he grinned when Tony groaned and called him a “meanie” behind his back.



{oOo}



The club was dark, though there were many bright lights of various colours flashing around the place from origins unknown. The floor was black and sticky, the bodies throwing themselves against each other equally so. There were men and women dancing on tables, poles connecting the wood beneath them to the high ceiling above.

'And this is a... gay bar?' Loki questioned.

'Club,' Tony corrected. 'Bars are generally more easy-going, with less ear-screaming music. Clubs are for dancing and getting completely fucking shit-faced on shots.'

'And you... enjoy it?' Loki demanded, levelling a disgusted look at a young couple practically having sex right next to him.

'Sometimes,' Tony shrugged. 'Clubs are good ways to let yourself go, just forget everything and get all hyped up. Also, all the best drugs are found in clubs.'

Loki hummed at that. He knew about Anthony's extensive and shady past, of course. Stark didn't mind talking about his younger days; sex, drugs, “rock and roll”, whatever that was. He only ever hid the important things; his relationship with his parents, his godfather, what had happened when he got his arc reactor.

They finally made it past the throng of people hanging out by the entrance, and Tony grabbed Loki's hand, dragging him through the crowd. There seemed to be far too many people packed into the room, and there were more in the rooms that split off from this one; a large bar took up the centre, filled with glasses and lit by bright white light. The lines were ridiculous, but a few seconds after he and Tony reached it the people parted, letting both jump the line and lean against the bar.

'Give me two Jack Daniels' and a bottle of your most expensive vodka!' Tony shouted.

The man blinked owlishly at him before hurrying to do as told.

'Vodka?' Loki questioned. He had to shout it into Tony's ear, unsure if the Midgardian could hear him over the music.

'Gets you shit-faced quicker,' Tony replied. He'd turned into Loki, lips brushing his ear. Loki suppressed a shiver. Oh, yes; he would definitely have Anthony before they returned to the Tower. 'I know it won't work on you- probably won't work on me, either. We'd need more alcohol, right?'

'I'm assuming that you now have a tolerance almost equal to Thor's,' Loki said. 'It takes much more to get me... shit-faced.'

Tony laughed loudly and patted Loki on the ass; Loki found that he didn't mind all that much. 'We just need the Avengers to think that we're hammered; it'll make our cover more believable,' Tony said.

The mortal returned with their drinks and Tony turned away to pay, a wad of cash exchanging hands and Tony telling the man to keep the change. He did as asked, stammering a, 'Th-Thank you, Mr Stark.'

Tony waved and grabbed the bottle, while Loki took the two tumblers and followed his partner through the crowd. They managed to find their way to the far end of the main room, setting themselves up against the wall. They were behind the large black table that was playing the ear-deafening music, so they could talk without having to shout too loudly.

'Cheers,' Tony said when he'd taken his glass. Loki knew enough about Midgardian culture to tap his tumbler against Stark's, which made Tony grin.

'How long do we have to remain here?' Loki asked. He sipped his drink and hummed. It wasn't as nice as the alcohol Tony had at the Tower, but it wasn't disgusting, either.

'Until we're about halfway through this bottle.' Loki turned to see Tony shaking the bottle of clear liquid, a grin on his face. The bottle had Grey Goose written on it and a bird attached to the top. 'This is 40% alcohol, so if we were mortal and drank enough we'd be passed out somewhere before the night's over.' Tony paused. 'Or dead from alcohol poisoning.'

'So I should finish this drink,' Loki held up his glass, 'as soon as possible?'

'Hell yeah,' Tony said and winked at him. 'Then we can just drink this straight out of the bottle. It was only about eight-hundred bucks, so it's not like it's fancy.'

Loki nodded in agreement and chugged down his whiskey. He turned and placed the glass on the floor beside the black music table, Tony doing the same. With that done Tony managed to open the bottle of vodka after a bit of cursing, making Loki laugh.

'Bottoms up!' Tony shouted and took a gulp. 'Oh, wow, that tastes different now.' He frowned. 'Is it because I'm a god?'

'How should I know?' Loki said. He took the bottle. 'I've always been a god.' Tony rolled his eyes and took the bottle back when Loki was done. 'Hmm... I like it,' Loki declared.

'I see a lot of vodka charges on my credit card in the near future,' Tony replied. Loki grinned sharply at him.

'Drink, Stark. We have a base to destroy.'



{oOo}



When the bottle was half empty Tony started acting like Thor and his friends usually did after drinking a few caskets of ale. Loki joined him, understanding that the ruse was necessary; they giggled together and tripped over their own feet, bumped into people on their way out and slurred apologies. They found their way through a door near the rest rooms, down a short corridor, and soon burst into what appeared to be an outdoor smoking area.

Thick clouds of grey smoke hung over their heads, and only a few people looked at them as they staggered further away from the club. There were two large mortals dressed in black standing at the back exit, which consisted of nothing more than a gap between two tall, vine-covered fences.

'Hey, boys!' Tony shouted happily at them.

One nodded, the other said a polite, 'Mr Stark.' Neither mortal stopped the two as they swayed past and disappeared into the dark alley.

It had rained at some point between them entering and exiting the club; the ground was wet, there were puddles everywhere, and the bricked buildings around them dripped constantly. Loki didn't care as he shoved Anthony up against one of the walls and kissed him.

Tony almost dropped the bottle but managed to squish it between them. He grabbed Loki by the hair and moaned, twisted to get Loki to kiss him harder and deeper. Loki allowed it for five minutes, ten- would have never stopped if they didn't have a job to do. He ripped himself away and panted harshly, his breath barely misting the air between them. Tony's did, little puffs of white rising above their heads.

'Why'd you stop?' Tony demanded.

'We have plans,' Loki replied.

Tony whined and tried to kiss him again, but Loki remained strong.

'When we return,' he said and nipped at Tony's throat, 'I'm going to fuck you against this wall.'

Tony moaned, then shook his head; 'No way. I'm gonna fuck you against that wall.'

Loki snorted. 'You can't hold me up, Stark. I weigh twice as much as you.'

'Hey, I'm a god.'

'Whatever,' Loki said and pulled back. The bottle slid from between them, but Stark scrambled to catch it.

'Okay,' he said, breathed out heavily. ' Okay . Just let me call JARVIS.' While Tony did that Loki adjusted his skin-tight jeans, trying to make the crotch a little less... constricting. 'Done,' Tony said less than a minute later. 'The suits will meet us here.'

'Yours?' Loki asked.

Tony nodded. 'JARVIS is currently in control. So...' He bent down to place the vodka bottle on the ground, then stood tall and grinned at Loki.

'So...?' Loki prompted.

'It'll take JARVIS about... fifteen minutes to get here.' He waggled his eyebrows. 'What can we do in fifteen minutes?'

Loki grinned sharply and pushed him against the wall.



{oOo}



No suit Tony had designed was made to be worn comfortably when you were sporting a raging erection. Loki, the bitch, had teased Tony for the entire eighteen and a half minutes that it had taken the Genesis suits to turn up at the club. Fucker. At least Loki had promised sex in just a few short hours, and that was the only thing stopping Tony from just outright attacking his partner.

The BOQ- or Super Secret SHIELD Base- was a ten storey tall building in the heart of Manhattan. It wasn't far from Stark Tower, actually, and Tony decided that he'd ask JARVIS just how long SHIELD had been there when he got back to the Tower. Had they taken over the building before Tony had become Iron Man? Or after? He wouldn't be surprised if SHIELD had built an entire goddamn base down the street from Tony Stark just to keep an eye on him.

Loki teleported them onto the roof. A few seconds after they appeared, Tony spotted red lights flashing on either corner, as well as an orange one glowing brightly above the reinforced metal door that led into the building.

'Looks like they know we're here,' Tony said over the comms.

Loki didn't reply, but Tony hadn't expected him to. Instead Loki glanced at the door, then looked back at Tony, eyebrows raised.

'Want me to have a go?' Tony asked. When Loki nodded slightly, Genesis-2 and -3 took a few steps back and Tony braced himself. He raised the new right arm he'd attached to the suit and activated the repulsor; blue energy erupted from the end and hit the door, blowing it off of its hinges. Tony grinned as he lowered his hand. 'Good times.'

'Let's go,' Loki said. Genesis-2 and -3 entered the building first, with Loki in the middle and Tony bringing up the rear.

The stairwell was cramped and made of grey concrete, the railing rusted beneath peeling green paint. Loki looked around keenly as they walked, but there was nothing interesting to view; just grey walls, grey floors, flashing red lights. Finally they reached a landing, the door to their right a faded green and etched with the number 9.

Loki turned to Tony.

'Genesis-3 should start up here,' Tony said. 'And I think that Genesis-2 should start in the lobby. It can fly through one of the windows and re-enter the building. We'll go down a few floors and be the distraction.'

'Genesis-3, floor 9,' Loki ordered almost before Tony had stopped talking. Genesis-3 did as asked, shouldering its way through door 9, wood splintering as it made its way onto the dark floor. 'Genesis-2 follow and go outside,' Loki said, turning to the remaining JARVIS-bot. 'The lobby, then the underground bunker. Your orders are the same as Baltimore.'

'Lay the C4 and diesel, get the hell out if you're about to be compromised or caught,' Tony added.

'Yes, Mr Stark, Mr Lie-smith,' JARVIS said over the comms before he followed after the other bot.

'Shall we?' Tony hummed and Loki turned, headed further down the stairs. Tony followed.

They passed a few more doors and got all the way down to 5 before Loki stopped on the stairs, just above the landing. Tony paused behind him and frowned, wondering what-

Loki suddenly pushed Tony back. Tony stumbled, almost fell on his ass, but managed to catch himself and remain standing. Loki had his sceptre out and before Tony could say a word he'd pointed it at the door and fired a blast of magic.

The door exploded inwards, taking with it the three SHIELD agents who were about to burst through. Someone screamed and then machine gun fire started, bullets slamming into the concrete around Tony and Loki. Tony jumped over the railing and dropped, knowing that Loki could handle himself. Above him something exploded, concrete rained down on Tony, chunks smacking him in the head audibly.

Tony managed to land on the staircase just below Loki, the door to floor 4 just above him. Tony blew it open and entered the floor, flashing red lights immediately assaulting his HUD. There didn't seem to be anybody on this floor; it was filled with computers, large screens hanging from the ceilings, desks crammed into every corner.

Tony blasted everything apart; computers, desks, a wall. A stack of files caught fire as he passed through, and Tony snickered; maybe they didn't need an accelerant after all.

He was just heading back to the stairwell when an explosion rocked the entire building, sending Tony crashing into a wall. He righted himself and frowned, glanced up; just what the fuck was Loki doing?

' SHIELD agents to your immediate left, ' JARVIS suddenly announced, and Tony turned, saw the energy gun-

' Fuck !' he shouted and launched himself into the air.

He was hit and sent flying back, the suit immediately going off-line. Tony hit the windows and went straight through them, rain suddenly splattering him and the dark street rushing up to meet him.

'JARVIS! Fuck, get me back on-line-'

The suit re-booted with a whirr, the HUD suddenly alight and sending Tony flashes of information. JARVIS reacted before Tony did, halting the suit's flight and leaving Tony hovering somewhere around floor 2.

'Shit,' Tony hissed, 'that was too fucking close.'

' SHIELD agents at twelve o'clock ,' JARVIS cut into Tony's rant.

Tony blinked and looked straight ahead- he shot back into the air, glass exploding below him as another SHIELD agent tried to shoot him with a fucking energy gun. Tony really needed to put some time and thought into figuring out a counter to those fucking things.

'JARVIS, report,' Tony ordered as he hovered, HUD scanning the windows before him, on the look-out for more SHIELD agents.

' Genesis-3 is on floor 8, ' JARVIS told him. ' Genesis-2 is about to enter the bunker beneath the parking lot. Loki is still on floor 5. '

'He okay?' Tony asked.

' He is in good spirits, Mr Stark .'

Tony snorted; yeah, he didn't doubt that. But he wanted to be in good spirits, too, so he blew out a window on floor 3 and flew inside. There were SHIELD agents waiting for him, all huddled in the dark wearing night-vision helmets. Tony picked them off one by one- two by two when they covered each other. It seemed that someone had put out the memo that Genesis couldn't handle the energy guns, because every fourth agent had one clutched in their hands.

Thankfully Tony was quick, and he ducked each blast, killed the SHIELD agents holding the weapons before they could fire. With floor 3 empty Tony moved down. He had one block of C4 on himself and dropped some in the doorway, another in the stairwell before he entered floor 2, and told JARVIS to spread some diesel along there when one of the Genesis-bots passed through.

Tony had just stepped through the doorway when he was kicked back out of it. He hit the stairwell railing and broke clean through it, continuing on until the concrete wall opposite the door stopped his flight. He dropped to the floor on his knees and looked up.

'You're in trouble, JARVIS,' Tony growled when he spotted Captain America.

' My apologies, ' JARVIS responded. ' I currently do not have access to the base's security cameras. Captain Rogers was not in Stark Tower when the Avengers were called. He must have been close by. '

Tony stood slowly and clenched his fists as he and Rogers faced off.

Chapter Text

There were dozens of SHIELD agents on this floor, all wearing black and equipped with bulky headgear. Loki only realised that it allowed them to see in the dark when the flashing lights suddenly ceased, yet the agents kept attacking him with precision.

He ducked the blows and lashed out with his spear, taking off an agent's head and then impaling the one crouched before him. Loki kicked the mortal off of his spear and swung it again, forcing the agents trying to surround him to back up. He'd just killed another when an agent in the far corner of the room crouched down and fired some type of bulky weapon at him.

The energy that hit him was similar to what that mortal- Coulson?- had fired at him aboard the Helicarrier. It threw Loki off of his feet and through a wall. He landed in another room, a small box that contained a table and some chairs. Loki hit the table hard and it broke beneath him, making him roll and hit the wall.

He snarled as he quickly got to his feet, and had to dodge another energy blast as he ducked back through the hole he'd created. The remaining agents ambushed him there- threw themselves at him like they wanted to die, guns going off and knifes trying to slash Loki's skin. One embedded itself between the plates of Loki's shoulder armour, sinking into the soft flesh and making him scream in anger.

Loki tossed the mortal clear and took great satisfaction in slamming his boot into the man's head. When they didn't stop coming- didn't stop stabbing or firing or trying to rip at him- Loki threw his hands out and blasted raw magic at them.

The resulting explosion sent Loki to the floor once more. The walls erupted with fire or outright collapsed, and the ceiling groaned beneath the onslaught of power. The energy gun was hit and it resulted in a bigger explosion, this one blasting the wall to Loki's right out into the night.

The ceiling sagged and Loki staggered to his feet; if the upper floor collapsed, Loki didn't want to be beneath it.

He headed back into the stairwell and down to the next floor, which he found on fire. The windows here were shattered, too, but there didn't appear to be any bodies, so Loki continued moving.

Stark had clearly been having fun, given the bodies on floor 3 and the clumps of C4 sitting on the stairs. Loki was about to continue on when movement below caught his eyes. He turned and leaned over the railing, just in time to see Anthony fly across the stairs. There was a clash, a shout, and Captain America went rolling over the stairs, he fell-

- and caught himself on the ledge a floor below, his shield falling past him and out of sight.

'Captain America!' Loki shouted.

The mortal looked up. The parts of his face not covered by a mask were already dirty, and there was a cut over his bottom lip.

'Having fun?' Loki called.

'Loki-' Rogers began, but Tony reappeared, and the Avenger let himself drop. Stark chased after him and Loki teleported, reappearing on floor 2. It was empty of agents, but filled with all manner of things; papers, computers, equipment Loki couldn't name.

He destroyed it all, kicking and hacking at the bigger things that didn't immediately explode into a thousand tiny pieces when he hit them with magic. He was almost done when something licked at his magic- a presence that was becoming more familiar the longer Loki resided in Stark Tower. He paused, head tilted towards the ceiling.

A smirk slowly spread across Loki's face and he teleported, landed back where he and Anthony had first entered the building. A quinjet was pulling away, dropping low to sweep the street or the building, Loki didn't know or care.

Barton was making his way down the stairs, bow drawn and an arrow nocked. A roar from outside told Loki where the green beast was, but Thor wasn't anywhere close.

Loki let Barton get to floor 8 before he pounced. He slammed into the man's back and pressed his head against the concrete wall of the stairwell. Barton fought- twisted every which way and snarled when he realised who had him- but it was no use. Loki pinned the mortal down with his body and chuckled darkly.

'Barton, how delightful to see you.'

'You fucking-'

'It still amazes me that the Avengers trust you,' Loki interrupted, not caring about Barton's words. He felt the body beneath his freeze. 'Yes, remember when you worked for me?' Loki asked. He raised his left hand and felt satisfaction curl in his gut when Barton flinched. 'Did you know that our connection still remains?'

'What?' Barton gaped.

'Mm,' Loki said. 'It doesn't matter, Barton. You won't remember.' He pressed his palm over Barton's face and pushed. The connection ignited beneath Loki's touch and his magic sang along Barton's brainwaves. The mortal screamed, but Loki ignored it in favour of shuffling through the man's memories.

He, Romanov and Fury met about Anthony- not surprising.

SHIELD were working on something to loop all of JARVIS' sensors- heat, sound and video included. Loki had to tell Anthony.

Barton didn't hate Anthony as much as Loki had assumed. Barton didn't trust Tony, but he wanted to; wanted Iron Man to be a good guy, wanted to keep him on the team if Tony stopped being so chaotic. Rogers felt the same way, and Banner already trusted him. Fury and Romanov outright despised Stark.

Fascinating.

Fury wanted to approach Logan Thomas about turning on Stark. But Barton didn't think it was a good idea... no, from what he'd seen Thomas loved Stark. Maybe Thomas could be used against him.

Nothing. Nothing. Boring. Nothing.

Done, Loki thought. He pushed again and this time his magic was thicker, it cloaked Barton's mind and erased what had happened, that Loki had ever been there. When he was done Loki grabbed Barton by the arm, spun him around, and pushed him over.

Barton slumped onto the landing unconscious, bruised face tucked into one arm.

'Always so useful,' Loki commented before making his way into floor 8.



{oOo}



Tony lost Rogers somewhere in the lobby, but Blonde Idiot 1 was quickly replaced by Blonde Idiot 2. Thor came blasting through the front doors like usual, hammer raised, eyes immediately finding Tony. Tony turned slowly so that he was facing the other god and they both paused, seizing each other up.

'You are hurting my friends, robot,' Thor growled. 'I will be happy to smash you into tiny pieces.'

Oh, bring it on, Tony thought. He had a score to settle with Thor.

Thor moved first, advancing on Tony and reaching him in a few steps. He swung his hammer and Tony ducked, jumped the second swing, spun out of the way of the third. Like always Thor quickly grew frustrated when his first few blows failed to connect. Tony ducked another swing and lashed out himself, hitting Thor in the face, snapping his head back.

Blood exploded from his nose but it didn't look broken. Thor growled and punched Tony back, and the two quickly descended into all-out grappling, Tony with a hand wrapped up in Thor's ridiculous hair, Thor with his arm around Tony's neck.

Thor's muscles bulged as he squeezed and information flew across Tony's vision even as he heard the armour in his neck protest under the pressure. He struggled to get away but when Thor refused to let go, Tony pressed a gauntlet to his stomach and fired.

Thor was ripped away from him, across the lobby. He hit the floor and skidded further, into a plant that toppled over. The pot shattered against the floor and soil sprayed everywhere, which was handy because Rogers chose that moment to rejoin the fight.

Tony almost cracked up laughing when the Captain hit the soil and went skidding, arms pin-wheeling as he tried to regain his balance. But then Thor was up, coming at Tony again, and Tony forced himself to focus.

He spun into the air when Rogers threw his shield, flew over Thor and fired a repulsor blast at him. Thor's hammer deflected it as Tony landed, and the wall gained another hole. Rogers was on him then, throwing punches and kicks. When they landed Tony's armour protected him; Rogers could only stop every three punches that Tony threw with his shield, the fourth, fifth, sixth getting through and sending the man to the floor.

And then somehow Rogers got under him- ducked and bent his body to suddenly come at Tony with his shoulder. Rogers put his entire weight behind the move and he and Tony were thrown to the floor.

Tony groaned as his head thumped back against his helmet. At least it was somewhat cushioned.

Rogers planted himself on Tony's chest and more information whizzed past Tony's rapidly blinking eyes. He looked up to meet Rogers' gaze- not that Rogers knew it. The super soldier was glaring down at him, mask ripped, blonde hair peeking out just above his left ear.

'I'd like to see Loki fix this,' Rogers growled.

He grabbed Tony's helmet, just beneath the jaw, his fingers digging in. Despite what the armour was made of, it protested under Rogers' grip. Tony was still somewhat dazed and it took him a second to realise that Rogers was trying to get a good grip on his head, trying to rip his goddamn head off .

Oh hell no , he thought and raised a gauntlet.

Rogers knocked it aside with his elbow, pulled up with his hands. He was strong enough to twist the armour just right until it clicked open beneath the stress.

Rogers froze, surprise, confusion, spreading across his face in rapid succession. Tony couldn't let Rogers discover him now, he and Loki had too much to do. So he used Rogers' hesitation and kicked his legs up.

His knees jammed into Rogers' ass and the man was tossed forward, over Tony's head. Tony scrambled onto his front and then up. He hit Rogers in the face when the captain tried to stand, and blood exploded over Tony's armour.

He hit Rogers again for good measure, grinned when he pulled at the man's head and his mask slipped free. Blood marred his pretty features and Tony thought about Howard as his fist landed in Rogers' face, spilling fresh blood.

I found Captain America, Dad , Tony thought. Now I'm gonna send him to you. He kicked Rogers in the head and smirked in satisfaction when the super-human hit the floor with a heavy thud . He didn't get up immediately, instead rolling onto his side and coughing up blood.

That stupid fucking hammer went flying past him again, JARVIS only just pulling Tony back in time.

'Stop taking over,' Tony grumbled as he faced Thor.

' You are welcome, Mr Stark, ' JARVIS replied primly. ' Also, the faceplate will not slot back into place. Please be careful until you can fix it. '

Tony ran at Thor and watched as the god leaned back, got himself ready, his fingers slipping down to the leather strap of his hammer-

He swung it at Tony and it left his fingers, but Tony dropped and skidded across the stone floor. He reached Thor before Mjölnir could race back and kicked Loki's former brother right between the legs.

Thor dropped like a stone and Tony launched them together, bodies crashing and sending them back to the floor. Tony grabbed one of Thor's arms and twisted himself into the air, free hand pushing against the floor and repulsor activating. Tony was flipped up, over Thor, but Thor remained where he was, and the result was a sickening crack as Thor's shoulder broke.

Thor screamed and Tony let him go, only to blast him in the back of the head. Thor went face-first into the floor and remained down.

Tony grinned. Fuck, that had felt good . That was what happened when people hurt Tony- when they hurt Loki . Tony would fucking kill them and enjoy it .

Rogers was finally back up and though he swayed he faced Tony down. His costume and shield were streaked liberally with blood, and Tony stood tall to stare at him. Before either could move there was a roar from outside and the Hulk crashed through the glass doors. Tony backed up immediately, not wanting to go head-to-head with the angry beast... or with Bruce, if he was honest. He would hurt Bruce if he had to, but until there was no other choice...

The Hulk was too big to get into the building, but he just started tearing at the concrete and steel, eyes locked onto Tony and spittle flying from his mouth. Rogers staggered again and blinked, as though confused. Before he could decide what to do Genesis-2 appeared from behind him, slamming into Rogers and once more forcing him to the floor.

' Mr Stark, the explosives have been planted, and some of the accelerant lit, ' JARVIS announced. ' The bunker and floors 3, 4 and 8 are on fire, and the Hulk is about to compromise the building's structure. I suggest that we evacuate immediately. '

'Damn, you and Loki have been having some fun,' Tony commented.

' Most of the fires are your fault, Mr Stark, ' JARVIS said.

'Huh.' Tony didn't need to be told twice, though, and he followed Genesis-2 back into the stairwell. They met Genesis-3 on their way up and killed some more SHIELD agents near floor 7. 'JARVIS, where's-'

Tony cut himself off when Loki suddenly appeared before him. His armour was streaked with dust, blood and what looked like soot. His hair was dishevelled and there were bruises on the right side of his face.

'What the fuck happened to you?' Tony demanded.

'SHIELD agents,' Loki muttered. 'Let's go.'

They quickly made their way upstairs and out onto the roof. Loki looked worse for wear so Tony hooked an arm around his waist and shot into the air before the Jötunn could complain.

'Stark!'

'You look fucked, Loki,' Tony replied.

'I am fine,' Loki sighed. Somewhere below them the Hulk roared angrily. 'I was hit three times by those energy guns. They have... depleted my energy somewhat.'

'I'll fly us until you-' Once again Tony found himself shutting up, and this time it was because there was a roar, a flash, and a quinjet dropped out of the clouds just behind and to the right of them.

Tony immediately banked to the left and both Genesis-bots shot into the sky, the three splitting up as the quinjet opened fire. Tony wondered if it was Natasha flying as he rolled this way and that, trying to avoid the bullets. While his armour would protect him, he didn't know if Loki was immune to all bullets; what if one of those fuckers hit him in the face?

'Right!' Loki shouted and Tony did as told, narrowly avoiding a fucking missile . It streaked past him but then turned, headed back towards them. Then Genesis-3 was there, blasting the thing out of the sky with a smaller but just as powerful missile of its own. Tony flew higher and then flipped around, slowing his speed so that he could drop right onto the quinjet. It immediately went down, then to the left, the right, back up again; trying to throw Loki and Tony clear.

Tony barely managed to keep hold and Loki was flopping around between him and the jet like a rag doll.

'Stark!' Loki snarled.

'Got a better idea?' Tony shouted.

'I can teleport!' Loki said.

Oh, well then...

Genesis-2 and -3 reappeared out of the clouds, shooting at the quinjet from either side. Suddenly surrounded the little jet tried to speed up, but the Genesis-bots easily kept up. They raised a gauntlet each, repulsors whirring-

'Now!' Tony ordered.

Loki's grip around Tony's neck tightened and then they teleported, landing in the Hideout in a heap.

Tony and Loki breathed deeply as they stared at each other, and after a beat Tony slid his faceplate up. 'JARVIS?'

' I am currently shaking the quinjet, sir, ' JARVIS responded. ' It was hit and is circling back towards the SHIELD base. ETA forty-two minutes .'

'I shall collect them...' Loki said, breathing heavily, 'in a minute.'

'Take your time, Green Eyes.'

Loki scowled at him. 'Then get off me!'

Tony laughed and ducked down to kiss the Trickster before he did as asked... ordered? Yeah, ordered.



{oOo}



By the time Fury got to the building it was burnt out; there were streaks of black near the windows where the fire had tried to leap free, and glass that hadn't shattered before had been blown apart by the fire or resulting explosions. The fire was out now and the building remained standing. There were fire engines grouped around the front hosing it down.

Banner was in the back of a black van, a blanket wrapped around him. Barton was unconscious beside him and Rogers was having his face taped back together.

'What the fuck happened?' Fury demanded when he spotted Natasha and Thor closer to the building.

'Loki and his suits,' Romanov said.

Thor's shoulders slumped but he said, 'I fought one. It had a grey arm.'

'Genesis the First,' Romanov quipped. Fury narrowed his one eye at her but she didn't even flinch. 'It beat the crap out of Steve. We found Clint unconscious on the eighth floor. He hasn't woken up, but one of SHIELD's doctors said that he should any minute now.'

'Injuries?' Fury asked.

'Clint most likely has a concussion and his nose is still broken,' Natasha told him. 'Steve had a concussion, too, but he's already feeling better. Some deeper cuts and scrapes that'll take a few hours to heal.'

Fury nodded and looked at Thor. 'I am fine, now,' the god said. 'Though my shoulder still hurts; the... Genesis broke it.'

'Another base,' Fury sighed and rubbed his face. 'Where the fuck is Loki getting his information?' The Avengers didn't respond. 'We need to have a fucking meeting,' he decided. 'Pull in all of the Avengers, all the SHIELD techs. We need to find the goddamn mole or breach or whatever the fuck Loki's using to murder my agents!'

'Yes, sir,' Romanov said.

Fury sighed again and looked around. After a minute he frowned and rounded on Romanov once more; 'Where the fuck is Stark?'



{oOo}



'Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck me.'

'I am.'

Tony laughed and let his head drop against the brick wall. His back was wet and cold, rain having soaked his shirt and plastered his hair to his face. Loki was just as wet as he was, but neither cared as Loki pushed up and into him again, cock dragging agonisingly slowly across Tony's prostate.

'Dear god,' Tony moaned. 'And yes, that applies to you.'

He felt Loki grin against his neck, but it was forgotten when Loki bit, then licked, bit again. His fingers were digging into Tony's hips and were sure to leave bruises, but it just made Tony's cock throb that much harder. Tony was clinging to Loki's neck with one arm, the other hand twisted through Logan Thomas' short blonde curls.

Loki shifted Tony against the wall, and his boots crunched over one of the foil wrappers they'd dropped there earlier. While Tony usually didn't care for condoms when he and Loki fucked, if they were caught in the act, both gods wanted it to look like they'd fucked multiple times behind the club.

Tony wished that they had, because right now he just wanted to come more than anything, but he also wanted Loki to keep fucking him, to keep hitting his prostate and biting his neck and making him feel fucking fantastic.

''m gonna fuck you later,' Tony slurred, head still pressed roughly against the bricks. 'Or you're gonna- uh- fuck me... either... either one.'

'If you wish,' Loki panted. His hips jolted once, twice, then sped up, Loki apparently wanting to climax just as badly as Tony. Tony groaned and tugged on Loki's hair, used his grip to pull the other god closer. He hissed when Loki's teeth sank into his neck almost hard enough to draw blood... or maybe he had, Tony didn't know. Didn't fucking care. His shirt was rucked up to his shoulder blades, and the bricks bit into the tender skin of his back.

It felt good and Tony wanted to reach down, wrap a hand around his cock, pull and squeeze in time with Loki's thrusts. But he wasn't going to make it, he knew. Loki was fucking into him now, every thrust slamming his prick into Tony's prostate. Stars danced behind Tony's eyelids and he bit his lip, but when it hit he screamed.

Loki came seconds after him. He sagged forward when he'd finally stopped shaking and pressed his forehead to Tony's chest.

'That... was beautiful,' Tony decided.

Before Loki could respond, the bluetooth still in his ear chimed.

'Mr Lie-smith, Agent Romanov and Captain Rogers are here,' JARVIS said.

'Thank you, JARVIS.' Loki plucked the comm from his ear and slid it into his pocket. 'Ready?'

'Yeah,' Tony sighed. 'Just hope that I can walk.'

'You'll be fine,' Loki said, but he looked smug. Tony couldn't really blame him.

The Trickster slowly lowered Tony to the ground and Tony winced but brushed Loki's hands aside. He pulled his boxer-briefs and jeans back up, Loki doing the same. Tony squirmed a little when he felt come wet his briefs but he couldn't do anything about it until he got back to the Tower.

'Come here,' Tony said before Loki could step back. He dragged Loki down and kissed him, lips hot and wet, Loki's just as sloppy when he kissed back.

'STARK!'

They broke apart and Loki immediately fumbled with his belt, trying to get it buckled as Romanov stormed towards them, Rogers following quickly.

'Why the fuck haven't you been answering your phone?' Romanov demanded when she and Rogers reached them.

Tony blinked. She was swearing at him. Wow, she was really pissed. 'Uh... what?' He made sure to blink again slowly, tilt his head, wobble when Loki shifted beside him. Loki let out a fake giggle and Tony snickered. 'Wait, um... what?' Tony tried again.

Romanov stared at him and Rogers leaned forward, sniffed. 'Tony, are you drunk?' the captain asked.

'Uh...'

'Yes,' Loki nodded. 'Wait, you're Stark,' he said and pointed at Tony.

'You can be a Stark, too,' Tony slurred, giving Loki a leer. 'Logan Stark.'

'Tony Thomas,' Loki retorted.

'Eww.' Tony poked his tongue out.

'STARK!' Romanov shouted again.

Tony whined. 'What? Why are you killin' my... uh... buzz!'

'Bzz,' was Loki's helpful comment.

'I can't believe this,' Romanov said. She was shaking her head and backing up, like she didn't want to catch Tony's stupid. 'Loki just destroyed another SHIELD base and you're out here, wasted, fucking your boyfriend!'

'I like fuckin' my boyfr'n',' Tony stumbled over his words and then leaned heavily against the wall. 'Loki did what now?'

'Destroyed... um, something,' Loki murmured.

'Did he get into... into Thor's poptarts?' Tony giggled.

'Poptarts!' Loki gasped like Tony had just offered up the cure for cancer. 'Tony, Tony, Tony!'

'What, what, what?' Tony swung himself lazily to look at Loki and almost tripped over, laughing as he did. Romanov was gaping at him, incredulous, while Rogers looked... disappointed.

'Poptarts!' Loki repeated. 'We have to... buy them! And eat them!'

'Oh, God,' Tony moaned and clutched at his stomach. 'No... vodka and poptarts.'

'Poptarts!' Loki shouted again.

'No!' Tony whined.

'Unbelievable.' Romanov shook her head and glared at Tony. 'We'll talk tomorrow when you're goddamn sober.'

Tony stared at her. 'What?'

She had nothing more to say, though; she turned on her heel and stormed away. Rogers hesitated for a moment before smiling weakly at them and following his fellow Avenger.

Tony and Loki waited for a good two minutes before facing each other.

'That went well,' Tony said.

'I enjoyed it.' Loki smiled.

'Although, poptarts?' Tony said. 'Really?'

'Urgh, don't remind me,' Loki groaned. 'I would rather set myself on fire than touch one of those disgusting things.'

'Sure, sure,' Tony said, giving Loki a grin. 'If you want some I'll buy 'em, Lo-Lo. You just gotta- hey!'

Loki slammed him back against the wall and stared down at him.

'Can I help you?' Tony asked politely.

'Take me home and fuck me,' Loki said. 'We shall deal with the Avengers tomorrow.'

'Sounds good to me,' Tony breathed and kissed him.

Chapter Text

 

Cut the crap 'cause you're screaming in my ear

And you're taking up all of the space

You're really testing my patience again

And I'd rather get punched in the face

You're getting on my every last nerve

Everything you've said I've already heard

I'm sick to death of your every last breath and I don't give a fuck anyway...”

Let Yourself Go [Green Day]

 

 

'Mr Stark... Mr Stark! MR STARK!'

'TONY!'

Tony yelped when something soft hit him in the face, and rolled onto his back to blink groggily at the ceiling. He didn't have a hangover, but his body ached from all the physical exercise he'd gotten the night before. Plus, Loki had fucked him... and he'd fucked Loki when they got back, so... yeah, Tony was tired.

'Shit,' Tony groaned and struggled to rub his eyes; one arm was trapped beneath the blankets, the other curled around his pillow. 'S'time?'

'Six-thirty,' Loki answered.

'Why are...' he yawned, then tried again; 'Why are you wakin' me up?'

'Sir, the Avengers are in the penthouse,' JARVIS said.

Tony blinked again before he shot upright. His head swam and he moaned as he clutched at the side of his face. Sure, he was a god, but apparently he still suffered aches and pains and he was in no way a goddamn morning person. He needed coffee.

''vengers?' he mumbled and turned to peer at Loki.

The other god was sitting up and already wearing Logan Thomas; his hair was a fuzzy mess and his eyes looked as sore as Tony's felt.

'JARVIS woke me a few minutes ago,' Loki told him. 'How you slept through it is beyond me.'

'Did you hit me?'

'With a pillow.' Loki shrugged. 'If it hurt then you are weaker than I thought.'

'Bastard,' Tony growled before stumbling out of bed. 'JARVIS, what the fuck are the Avengers doing here?'

'Agents Romanov and Barton woke Doctor Banner, Captain Rogers and Master Odinson one hour ago ,' JARVIS explained as Tony hastily got dressed; he dragged on an old pair of jeans, one of the Iron Man shirts his company was now making, and ran his fingers through his hair. ' They discussed last night's events before requesting access to the penthouse.'

'And you let them in?' Tony asked.

'I asked Mr Lie-smith and he explained that it would be necessary for you to get this over with as soon as possible, Mr Stark ,' JARVIS said. ' The Avengers will not rest until you discuss last night, and this may further along your plan to get kicked off the team.'

Tony sighed, rubbed his face one last time, and headed into the bathroom. He at least needed to brush his teeth before facing them; his mouth tasted vile.

'Will you be pushing for them to kick you off of the team?' Loki asked. He sounded closer and Tony glanced up as he scrubbed his teeth. Loki was standing in the doorway wearing a pair of Tony's sweats, the cuffs ending above his ankles. His shirt was baggy, blue, and something that Tony didn't remember ever buying. Maybe it was Loki's own.

'Maybe,' Tony mumbled around his toothpaste. He spat it out and continued. 'Staying on the team helps us get more information about their bases. But getting off the team is what I really want; they'll be out of the Tower and we can plan properly without having to sneak around.'

Loki nodded slowly, then tilted his head. 'I can cast invisibility over myself,' he reminded the younger god. 'If you do finally part ways, I can still sneak onto the Helicarrier. We've agreed that that's where we will find the most information, yes?'

'Yeah, probably,' Tony agreed. He rinsed his mouth and pointed a finger at Loki. 'Stay here, okay? Come running if there's a lot of shouting. We can act all loving around them and it'll prove that I'm off the market and that you can't be turned against me. I'm gonna call Pepper sometime today and let her know that I'm interviewing potential assistants. If I do get kicked off the team, we need someone else on the inside.'

'Very well,' Loki agreed. He moved aside to let Tony past, and then followed him to the door. 'We still have not discussed what happened last night,' Loki said.

Tony paused and frowned at the door. 'You wanna have meetings, now?' he asked. He looked at Loki over his shoulder and raised his eyebrows.

Loki snorted. 'Have no fear, Stark; I will not make you repeat yourself four hundred times or draw a diagram.' Tony laughed. 'We should go over everything to make sure our stories are straight. Plus, you fought Thor and the Captain; I wish to know how that went.'

'Okay,' Tony said. He pecked Loki on the lips and whispered, 'I broke Thor's shoulder just for you.' He pulled back before Loki could say anything, but saw how the Trickster's eyes had widened, how his face was flushed pink. Tony grinned and sauntered through the doorway.

 

{oOo}

 

Bruce was curled up in the far corner of Tony's U-shaped couches; he was as far away from the other Avengers as he could get, and Tony pondered that briefly before turning his attention to the others.

Rogers still had a few faint cuts and bruises on his face, but for the most part he looked fully healed. Romanov was completely fine. Her cast had been removed a few weeks ago... months? Tony honestly hadn't been paying attention. Either way, she was fine, and it irked Tony. Maybe it was time for Loki to break her arm again. Maybe both.

Thor looked his usual bright self and that pissed Tony off, but he just promised himself that he'd rip Thor's fucking arm off next time. He'd like to see the bastard heal that.

Barton's nose was taped up, both eyes were darkly bruised, and a thick cut started at his left eyebrow and disappeared into his hairline. Tony wondered if Loki had used the bird as a punching bag before deciding that it didn't matter; he'd find out later.

'There a reason you woke me up?' Tony grumbled and shuffled his way past them, into the kitchen. Rogers called his name but Tony ignored him. He was supposed to be hungover, and he had to act the part. So he scrubbed at his face and mumbled swear words under his breath and made himself the biggest, blackest cup of coffee he could. He used the prototype Hulk mug Stark Industries were working on and groaned as he took his first sip. The coffee actually helped and Tony's head stopped swimming a bit.

He briefly wondered how much alcohol he'd actually have to consume to experience being drunk again before heading back into the living room. Like Loki had told JARVIS; this had to be done. Romanov wouldn't leave until she'd screamed at Tony and called him reckless at least a dozen times. By the end of this argument, Tony would most likely be even closer to getting kicked off the team.

Or he'd have the Avengers begin packing. It was his fucking Tower, after all.

'This about last night?' Tony yawned when he re-entered the living room. Rogers, Romanov and Barton all turned to face him. Thor was standing beside the flatscreen TV, staring morosely out at New York city. Bruce picked at his scruffy jeans.

'Yes, Stark,' Romanov practically growled. 'This is about last night.'

'I don't get what the big deal is,' Tony said. 'I went out and had too much to drink. It's not anything new.'

'And that's the problem,' Romanov argued. 'Loki's decided to start a private war with SHIELD and we're losing. We can't afford to let any more agents die or any more bases fall. You might not care about the organisation, but the Avengers do. And last I checked you were part of the Avengers.'

And doesn't that piss you off? Tony mused. He took a large gulp of coffee, burned the fuck out of his mouth, but felt something warm swoosh up his throat and coat his tongue. He frowned and glanced down at his chest, but his arc reactor was still blue, and there were no glittering purple lights. He hesitated before looking at Thor, but the Thunderer was still focused on the window.

Okay... Tony thought. Better talk to Loki about that . It wasn't the first time his magic had acted in Tony's best interest. But Tony didn't like not having control of it. We have to get back to magic lessons.

'Stark!' Romanov's snarl snapped Tony's attention back to her. All he could do was shrug. 'Are you taking this seriously?' the red-head asked.

'Not really, no,' Tony answered honestly. 'I mean, am I pissed off at Loki? Hell yeah! This is my planet, and he just comes in and starts fucking shit up. I'm gonna punch him in the face the next time I see him.'

Thor scowled at him, but it was half-hearted; the guy couldn't really defend his former brother any more, not after everything that had happened over the past few months. Romanov and Barton both looked vaguely worried about Tony's claim that this was his planet, but Tony didn't care. Soon enough, they'd find out just how true Tony's words were.

'Tony,' Rogers tried, and though he sounded annoyed, he was trying to be an adult; a mediator. He knew that nothing would get done, nothing resolved, if they all screamed at each other. And Tony and the SHIELD agents had a long history of screaming at each other. 'We understand that you have your own life to lead-'

'Do you?' Tony interrupted. ''Cause I'm pretty sure that Tweety Bird and Pippi Longstocking there both think that I spend my days drinking and fucking my way around New York.'

Romanov's face remained perfectly smooth, eyes narrowed, while Barton was fiddling with the tape over his nose.

'Pepper's CEO of Stark Industries, but I still own the fucking company,' Tony said, voice lowering into a growl. 'I create everything we sell, I update everything that's already on the market. I have meetings with my board of directors, the contractors in other countries, the heads of every department. I have to co-ordinate with my PR team every fucking week to make sure that Stark Industries' stocks don't fall too far just because of the shit I do with the Avengers.

'Sometimes ,' Tony snarled, the hand gripping his mug shaking. Warm liquid spilled over his hand but Tony ignored the faint burn. ' Sometimes , I want to go out and have a fucking drink with my boyfriend. None of you have any idea what it's like for Logan! He's been targeted by Loki because of me and, what? You want me to just put my life with him on hold because Loki's decided to fuck with SHIELD? I do my best for you people, but the one night I have off you decide to start fucking scolding me like I'm an infant. News flash, Romanov! You're not the boss of me and neither is SHIELD! It's not my fault that Loki's blowing shit up!'

Tony was shouting by the end and had spilled about half of his coffee. He didn't care, despite the fact that the carpet beneath his feet was white and would stain. That'd be a bitch to get out.

Tony hadn't realised how pissed he still was. Ever since siding with Loki, he'd felt fucking giddy over what they were going to do to SHIELD, to the Avengers. Finally, Tony would prove what he was really capable of, and show the world once and for all that you do not fuck with Tony Stark!

But here he was, still pissed; still being yelled at by a bunch of fucking... fucking mortals , over how he chose to live his life. It was the 80s all over again. Don't go there, Tony. Don't touch that, Tony. Do you care about the Stark name at all, Anthony?!

'I'm a grown fucking man!' Tony shouted. Rogers looked shocked, Romanov furious. The others were silent. 'If I wanna go out and fucking drink with my boyfriend, I will!'

'You have more responsibilities now!' Romanov shouted back, just as fierce, blue eyes practically swollen with indignant rage. 'You're an Avenger whether you like it or not! When Loki targets one of us, he targets all of us!'

Tony laughed, and it wasn't a happy sound. He saw Rogers flinch and Bruce stare at him; the doctor looked... Tony couldn't even describe that look on his face. Confusion? Revulsion? Fear? He tore his eyes away to glare at Romanov, to tut his tongue at her like she was an unruly child.

'Seems that I've got the short end of the stick here, Agent Romanov,' he said. ''Cause Loki's been targeting me . The media targets me. The fucking world and SHIELD target me. I've always gotta be better than all of you. When the Avengers destroy something, the media and public blame me. When Loki destroys something, you blame me. Tell me, just why the fuck should I stick around if I'm always in the goddamn wrong?'

Silence followed his words. Romanov looked surprised, her lower jaw slowly falling open to reveal bright white teeth that spoke of expensive work. Barton had frozen and was staring over Tony's shoulder, thumb and forefinger still tugging at the edge of the tape over his nose. Thor had finally abandoned staring at the window to get closer, and was standing behind Steve; shoulders thrown back, brow furrowed in confusion, like he couldn't process what Tony was saying.

Bruce... that same fear-confusion-repulsion-fucking some emotion that Tony couldn't get a fix on was painted across his face. Tony would have to keep an eye on Bruce, or get Loki to do it; it was too early to get found out now.

Rogers' face was practically heartbroken. He looked angry and scared and fucking disappointed . For a brief moment Tony felt regret sweep through his chest. He remembered the posters, the toys, the fucking trading cards that he'd had as a kid. He remembered sitting in Howard's workshop listening to the man prattle on about Captain America, the greatest hero of them all. Tony remembered watching old footage of Cap fighting, how much little Tony had wanted to meet the man and be the man...

And then Tony remembered the anger; the resentment. Howard scowling at Tony when Tony dragged him away from his oh-so-important Captain America research. He remembered his parents fighting, Howard's focus turning more and more towards the search for Steve Rogers and his family and company being completely neglected. Tony remembered screams, abuse, Captain America is my greatest creation, Anthony! You're my worst!

No long-lost fucking video could change any of that. One brief moment of fatherly love couldn't scour away the years of neglect and abuse.

His magic pulsed in his chest, and regret, disappointment, fell away to be replaced by anger and resentment. Fuck the Avengers and fuck Captain America. All-American good boy? Rogers might trust Tony, he might want him on the team, but he was still working behind Tony's back. Nobody betrayed Tony Stark.

Fucking nobody.

Steve finally broke the silence. He swallowed thickly and licked his lips. 'Tony,' he said, voice soft, 'you don't mean that.'

Tony laughed. 'I fucking do, Capsicle. There's no profit to me staying with the Avengers.'

'Loki will come after you,' Romanov said. As always, trying to manipulate Tony. But this time into staying. Why? She wanted him off the team.

Maybe they don't have enough information on the suits, Tony thought. Maybe I haven't been reckless enough lately. They still need me around.

'Loki's already come after me, Natasha,' Tony said. 'Me getting rid of you won't change that. Actually, he might just leave me alone. Unlike you, I've never been an unnecessary dick to him.'

'He deserves everything he's gotten!' Barton snarled. His eyes flashed, and though his jaw was clenched tight against the pain, his brows were furrowed in anger.

'That's not up to us, Bird Boy. It's not even up to Asgard.' He looked at Thor. 'Loki's Jötunn, right?'

Thor blinked. 'Aye,' he agreed.

'So if you ever catch him, send him to Jötunheimr,' Tony said, shrugged a shoulder. 'A group of his peers deciding his punishment. Seems more fair than sending him back to Asgard, a place that can't even keep him fucking locked up for a year.'

'We underestimated-' Thor tried, but Tony cut in.

'Yeah, and you always will,' he said. 'That's your problem, Pikachu, and that's SHIELD's problem too. Hell, it's the Avengers' problem! You think you're better than everyone and want everyone to live by the standards you've set. And when someone fails you lash out and treat them like fucking children!' He threw his hands up and lost the rest of his coffee. JARVIS would have it cleaned. 'No wonder Loki's trying to murder us all!'

'We didn't come here to talk about Loki,' Romanov said. She was clearly trying to get back to the issue at hand- Tony and his irresponsible ways.

'I don't think we have anything left to talk about, Agent Romanov,' Tony replied. 'You're pissed, I get that. You blame me for Loki fucking shit up last night. It's not my fault you couldn't handle one little god and his ripped-off robots.'

'You should have been there!' Romanov snapped.

'I had more important things to do!' Tony shouted back.

'What, fucking your boyfriend?' she sneered. Said boyfriend chose that moment to enter, and he physically flinched when Romanov turned to glare at him.

'I-' Loki began, and Tony shoved his mug onto the DVD stand to his left.

'It's okay, Logan,' he said and crossed the room. 'They were just leaving.'

'We're not done here,' Romanov snarled. 'Your reckless behaviour is going to cost lives, Stark. Next time it might be one of ours.'

Tony sneered at her as he wrapped an arm around Loki's waist. 'I'll be sure to send a fruit basket to your funeral.'

'Tony-' Rogers began, but stuttered to a halt when Tony raised a hand.

'No, Steve. I'm done,' he said.

Rogers gaped, mouth flapping. 'Done?'

'Are you done with the Avengers?' Bruce finally spoke. Tony looked at him; Bruce's eyes were dark, bruised.

Tony wet his lips, glanced at Loki, and said, 'I dunno. Maybe. I'm fucking sick of everything, Bruce.' Bruce hesitated before nodding. Tony turned his attention to a fuming Romanov and quiet Barton. 'I'll let you know if I'm done in a couple of days. If I am, you'll have 24 hours to get your shit out of my Tower.' He paused before adding, 'All of you.'

Rogers breathed out heavily and Bruce just nodded again.

'Get out of my penthouse,' was what Tony finished with, and he used his grip on Loki's waist to drag him back down the hallway and into the bedroom. He slammed the door behind himself and leaned against it. Loki stood before him, arms folded across his chest.

'That was interesting,' he said.

'You spying on me?' Tony asked, but there was no heat to his words. He always assumed that Loki was eavesdropping on his conversations with the Avengers.

Loki nodded. 'It seems that you've bought us some time. They will not kick you off of the team now; there is something that Romanov still needs.'

'Yeah,' Tony agreed. 'I might leave some more shit out. We'll hit the Helicarrier to get the rest of the base locations, then I'll leave the team for good. I might fuck up an Avengers mission to really seal the deal. The media won't be shocked when I cut ties with the Avengers after a really public fight.'

 

{oOo}

 

Tony had spent some time tinkering in the workshop in his penthouse after the Avengers left. Eventually he grew bored, though; all of his fun projects were downstairs or in the Hideout. So he abandoned the half-finished StarkPhone 7-S and went to find Loki.

He was in the kitchen making a sandwich.

'Lunch?' Tony asked.

'Mm,' Loki hummed, not turning to face him. 'I was going to ask you if you wished to order anything, but I didn't want to disturb you.'

They still hadn't discussed the previous night's events. The Avengers had seriously pissed Tony off, and Loki had recognised that Tony needed some time alone. It was one of the reasons Tony loved him.

The genius shook that thought from his head and crossed the kitchen to lean against Loki and the counter. Loki felt warm, despite his generally lower body temperature. Or maybe that was their bond.

Tony murmured something about fighting Thor, breaking his shoulder, and Loki chuckled. 'I thought SHIELD would train its agents better,' was Loki's comment before he told Tony about the many he had murdered.

Eventually Tony spoke about Rogers, about the super-soldier almost getting his faceplate off.

Loki frowned. 'Does he suspect?'

'No,' Tony shook his head, 'I don't think so. I think it's more of an... instinct? He knows that something's wrong with Genesis, but he can't put his finger on it. He doesn't know that it's me, or that there's a person in it. Or he might suspect, now. He knows enough about my Iron Man suits to take a guess.'

'We will have to keep an eye on him.'

'Don't we always?' Tony drawled. Loki snorted. 'Anyway, what did you do to Barton? He looked seriously fucked up.'

'I went through his head last night,' Loki revealed and Tony sighed. It'd be nice if Loki would fucking tell him these things sooner. 'It wasn't important,' Loki added, and Tony eyed him. 'No, I'm not reading your thoughts.'

'Sure you're not.'

'He doesn't hate you as much as we thought he did,' Loki said.

Tony frowned. 'What?'

'Barton dislikes you, and he thinks that you're a danger to SHIELD, the Avengers, and the world.'

Tony laughed. 'The entire world?'

Loki slapped his ass and Tony let out what could only be described as a yelp . 'Let me finish, Stark.' Tony gave him a scowl that was mostly for show. 'As I was saying,' Loki said and went back to making his sandwich. 'Barton wants to trust you; he wishes that you were safer, that you were trustworthy. But you're not, so he will spy on you and get you off of the team.'

'Huh.'

'His mind and heart are warring,' Loki added. 'What we have and what we wish for are rarely the same thing.'

'I know that for a fact,' Tony murmured, thinking about his childhood; he'd wanted a dad who was fucking proud of him. He would have taken that over having Howard's love. He hadn't had either. 'So is Barton easier or harder to manipulate now that we know this?' Tony questioned.

'Neither,' Loki said. 'He and I still have a connection, and I can still use it to control him or take what I want from him. We could, perhaps, get him to trust you a little before you and the Avengers part ways. But whatever happens, he will turn on the Avengers when we want him to.'

Tony grinned at the thought and his magic did a little happy dance in his chest. It only stopped when Loki pressed a hand over his arc reactor, fingertips digging in slightly.

'We have been neglecting your magical training,' the Trickster murmured. 'Your magic is strengthening.'

'I thought it might be something like that,' Tony said. When Loki raised an eyebrow, Tony added, 'I took a sip of coffee this morning and burned my mouth; I think my magic healed it.'

'Are you busy today?' When Tony shook his head, Loki said, 'Good. I will eat and then we will go to the hideout.'

Tony just nodded and watched as Loki finally finished his sandwich. 'What the hell did you put on that thing?' he finally asked. There had to be at least seven packets of different meats and salads open on the counter, as well as three bottles of condiments and... was that baking soda? Tony never baked.

'Would you like some?' Loki asked, offering Tony the plate.

Tony blinked slowly before saying, 'Nah, you enjoy your... ah, sandwich. I'll make my own.'

'Coward,' Loki said and went to sit at the table.

'I don't want food poisoning!' Tony snapped. Loki flipped him off before chowing down on his monstrosity, and Tony laughed. It seemed that he was rubbing off on Loki. And not just in the fun way.

Chapter Text

'Ms Potts wishes to see you, sir,' JARVIS' voice broke Tony from his thoughts, and the genius groaned.

'Really, J?' He scowled as he fiddled with his cufflinks- not what he normally wore, but Loki was wearing the “Stark” ones so Tony had to wear these. Damn, I'm whipped, Tony mused. But at least he'll be wearing my name on his wrists for the night... worth it!

' Yes, sir ,' JARVIS said. ' She wishes to see you on Captain Rogers' floor .'

'What? Why?' Tony checked his watch; nine-ten, goddamn it, they were gonna be late as it was.

' She will not tell my why, Mr Stark .' JARVIS paused, and then; ' Mr Stark, Ms Potts is on her way up .'

Tony cursed but didn't get JARVIS to stop her. If Pepper wanted to see him, she was gonna see him. All Tony could do was run, and she'd just corner him at some point in the next few days. Better to get it over with.

He only had to wait a minute before the elevator doors were opening, admitting Pepper, Romanov and Barton. Tony briefly sent a glare JARVIS' way before turning his attention to his guests.

'As much as I like seeing you all,' he drawled, pretty sure that the SHIELD agents were still pissed off at him, 'I actually have plans.'

'You can be late,' Pepper said dismissively.

Tony raised his eyebrows. 'No, I can't. It took me three weeks to get a reservation at Logan's favourite restaurant. They wouldn't bump anyone! Not even for me!'

Pepper just shrugged a shoulder as she moved closer, then stood before him, arms folded over her chest. Tony waited, but when his CEO remained silent he said, 'What?'

'You need an assistant, Tony,' Pepper stated.

Tony blinked. Huh, it seemed that he wouldn't have to bring it up himself. But he had a part to play, so said, 'Why?'

'Because you missed three appointments yesterday,' Pepper told him. 'According to JARVIS, Clint and Natasha, you were hungover.'

Tony looked over Pepper's shoulder. Clint was smirking and Natasha's face was blank. Of course .

'Yeah, well, you know me,' Tony said. He aimed a charming smile at Pepper. 'I have my vices. And currently Logan's one of my vices. He wanted to go out drinking, I can't say no to his puppy dog eyes, so we went out drinking.'

'How much did you drink?' Pepper asked.

'Not enough that I blanked the entire night,' Tony said, 'but enough that I couldn't remember my own address. I think Logan told the cabbie “that big building with STARK on it”. Which works, because this is the only building with my name stamped on it... for now, anyway.'

Pepper was glaring at him; that glare of mixed anger and disappointment. Like Tony had spent his night fucking hookers and killing puppies. He'd never killed a puppy in his life. He was quite fond of hookers, though, especially when he'd been younger and all of his conquests had made it back to Howard's ears.

'Tony!' Pepper snapped her fingers at him and Tony blinked back to himself.

'Sorry, what were we talking about?' Tony asked. ''Cause I'm pretty sure that JARVIS has already filled you in.' He pointed a finger at one of JARVIS' sensors. 'Naughty J.'

' My apologies, Mr Stark, ' JARVIS drawled. Stupid AI wasn't sorry in the slightest.

'This behaviour isn't healthy, Tony,' Pepper said. Tony's eyes narrowed, but thankfully Pepper quickly moved on. 'You need an assistant. JARVIS knows your schedule but you just mute him when you're tired or hungover or busy. You need an actual human being who you can't order to shut up.'

'Well, I could,' Tony said, ''cause, you know, they'd work for- okay, okay!' He held his hands up when Pepper's eyes narrowed dangerously, her bright red nails tapping quickly at her arms. 'I'm getting an assistant.'

' When ?'

' Soon ,' Tony said, adopting her tone of voice. 'Promise. Scout's honour.' Before Pepper could call him a liar- and he was actually telling the truth this time!- Tony swivelled on his heal and shouted, 'Logan!'

'Coming!' Loki replied from the bedroom.

Tony smiled at Pepper, Romanov and Barton as he slowly edged towards the elevator. 'So, as much fun as this was, I have a standing date,' he said.

'Tony-' Pepper tried, but he interrupted her.

'No, don't worry about it! Seriously, Pep, I've got a bunch of interviews lined up for next week.'

Pepper eyed him suspiciously. 'Really?'

'Really,' Tony echoed with a firm nod. 'Logan made me look through all the applications and call the people I liked.'

'How'd he do that?' Romanov mused.

Tony grinned wickedly and Pepper held up a hand while Barton looked disgusted. 'We don't need to hear it,' Pepper said. 'If you're serious about the interviews, then you can go.'

'I am,' Tony said. 'Monday to Wednesday, I'm meeting with about forty people.'

'Where?' Pepper asked just as Loki finally joined them, completely dressed and with his curly blonde hair neatly styled with product.

'My office down on...' Tony frowned, 'uh...'

'Floor 35, Tony,' Pepper sighed.

Tony snapped his fingers. 'Right. Floor 35.'

'Tony,' Loki said, and the genius turned to face him. 'You left your mobile phone on the dresser.' Loki handed him the slim device and Tony took it with a smile.

'Thanks, babe.' He didn't notice the incredulous look on Pepper's face; he was too busy eyeing Loki up and down, appreciating the slim, dark blue suit and crisp white shirt. His tie was striped blue, the colours various shades darker than his suit. 'Looking good,' he said and added a leer for good measure.

Loki just smirked at him and allowed Tony to wrap an arm around his waist, tug him towards the elevator.

'Later!' Tony called over his shoulder.



{oOo}



Pepper was still staring after the couple, eyes wide and mouth hanging open.

'Are you okay?' Clint asked, as always the first to notice. Natasha snapped out of her thoughts and looked at Pepper.

'Pepper?' she prodded.

'Did you see that?' Pepper said and rounded on the two agents.

Natasha frowned and Clint said, 'See what?'

'Logan just handed Tony his cellphone,' Pepper said. Natasha and Clint stared at her. 'Seriously?!' Pepper near-shouted. 'Natasha, you remember working for Tony; when you were his assistant.'

Natasha tried not to let her revulsion spread over her face. 'Yes, I do,' she said.

'Did Tony ever let you hand him anything?' Pepper demanded.

Natasha frowned. Now that she thought about it... no. Stark had made a huge deal about being handed something; when Natasha was playing his assistant, she had to hand things to Pepper, or place the item near Stark so that he could pick it up himself.

On further thought, Stark hardly ever let Pepper hand him things. He usually wrinkled his nose and looked at her, and Pepper would put whatever she had in her hand down so that Stark could pick it up himself.

'No, he didn't,' Natasha finally said.

'Yeah, he never lets Bruce hand him anything, either,' Clint said. 'Or Steve. When we eat together we all have to put things near him so he can pick them up.'

Natasha looked at Pepper. 'Why does he do that?'

The other woman shook her head. 'I'm not one-hundred percent sure, but I've always assumed that it has to do with his wealth and status; the media has always assumed that he got everything handed to him. The label followed him when he took over Stark Industries, and he wanted to make a name for himself. So he never lets anyone hand him anything, not even the smallest things.'

She frowned and looked back at the archway, as though she could still see Stark and his boyfriend.

'So...' Clint drawled, 'why did Tony let Logan hand him his phone?'

Pepper shrugged one shoulder helplessly.

'Maybe he trusts Logan more than us,' Natasha murmured.

'No,' Clint said. When Natasha glanced at him he was frowning, thinking about it. 'Not just that...' he continued. 'Tony sees Logan as an equal; he'll take things from him because he trusts Logan, because he sees Logan as being on the same level as him. He trusts him with everything. Which means-'

'Tony's finally off the market,' Natasha interrupted. Clint gave her a look, which Natasha understood immediately; there was no chance in hell that Fury- that SHIELD- would be able to turn Thomas on Stark. If Stark trusted Thomas that much, then Thomas trusted him in equal parts. He wouldn't betray his lover.

'I can't believe this,' Pepper breathed. 'Tony, in a stable, functioning relationship?' She shook her head and turned to smile weakly at Natasha and Clint. 'Maybe this will stabilise him though; make him less likely to throw himself head-first into danger. Maybe Logan can help Tony in ways that I never could.'

Natasha snorted at the thought, and Clint didn't say a word. Neither agent felt comfortable discussing their plans for Stark in the Tower, especially in Stark's penthouse. Coulson could call Pepper and discuss this with her later.



{oOo}



Tony's cell rang halfway through dinner. At least it was on vibrate and didn't disrupt everyone else. Tony growled under his breath and put his fork and knife aside to dig into his jacket pocket. Loki raised his eyebrows but said nothing as Tony checked the caller ID. “Withheld number”.

'SHIELD,' he muttered and Loki nodded in understanding. Tony answered the phone, and it was JARVIS who responded; 'Sir, Director Fury is calling. Shall I put him through?'

'Might as well,' Tony said. If he didn't, Fury would just keep ringing.

'Stark!'

'What can I do for you, oh scariest of the Pirate Captains?'

He heard Fury swear before saying, 'Get your ass to the Helicarrier. Emergency Avengers meeting.'

'I'm on a date.'

'I don't care, Stark. Get to the Helicarrier or don't bother showing up for any more meetings.' He hung up after that and Tony glared down at the StarkPhone. On one hand, he wanted to not go; just let himself slip away from the Avengers nice and easy.

On the other hand, they might let something slip. And Tony could check out security, see if Fury had upgraded anything since Tony's last visit. He still had to help Loki sneak through the Helicarrier and download the information they needed.

'I gotta go, babe,' Tony finally said and put his cell away. Loki raised his eyebrows. 'SHIELD meeting.'

'I see,' Loki said. 'Will you take the car?'

'No, I've got the suitcase suit in the trunk. You take the car back to the Tower.'

He stood and Loki followed him. Tony paid for their half-finished meals and escorted Loki out of the restaurant. There were a few paparazzi hanging about, and they got their photo snapped a few times as Tony led Loki to the car. They peeled away after a few seconds, apparently satisfied, and Tony got his suit out of the trunk while Loki unlocked the car.

'This shouldn't take long,' Tony said. Loki was already in the car, seatbelt on, and Tony leaned one arm against the door as he bent down. 'Don't miss me too much, okay?'

'Do what you must,' Loki replied. He gave Tony a long, filthy kiss, winked at him, and then slammed the door shut.

'Asshole,' Tony muttered while Loki waved from behind the window.



{oOo}



Tony only removed his suit when he broke the chair he was sitting on. Bruce was laughing into his hand, while the others mostly rolled their eyes or outright ignored him (or, in Thor's case, offered to battle the chair to the death; Tony declined).

It was good to see Bruce laughing. Tony had only just noticed how tired and... depressed, for lack of a better word, the doctor looked. It couldn't just be because of the Other Guy; sure, Genesis and Loki had been fucking some shit up, but Bruce hadn't fought that often or that long. He'd gotten a better handle on the Hulk since Loki's invasion, so it wasn't that tiring him out.

Tony pondered his team mate while Barton and Romanov discussed something at the front of the room. The Avengers were scattered along the rectangular table, while Thor was investigating whatever was in the cupboards to the left. There was some SHIELD tech sitting beside Steve tapping away at his laptop, but he jumped to attention when Fury, Coulson, and Maria Hill entered the room.

'The trifecta!' Tony shouted when Fury reached his seat. Fury gave him a poisonous look and Tony grinned in response. 'You'll be sorry when I bet on a horse named Mr Fury and it wins me a buttload of money,' Tony said.

'Do you really need any more money?' Barton demanded.

Tony blew him a kiss. 'You can never have enough money, Birdie. Howard taught me that.' Rogers went rigid at Stark Senior's name, but Tony ignored him in favour of eyeing up the suitcase Coulson had planted on the table. 'What's that?'

'Various security footage of Loki and Genesis,' Coulson answered, 'as well as information that we're going to go through as a team.'

Tony groaned, and he wasn't the only one- Thor looked like someone had cancelled his Christmas, while even Bruce sighed. 'Do we have to?' Tony demanded.

'Yes, Stark,' Fury growled- but really, did he have any other setting? 'Loki's reached priority one.' Rogers straightened in his seat, looking all serious with his Boy Scout face on. Tony raised his hand.

Sighing, Coulson said, 'Yes, Mr Stark?'

'Is Priority One code for “Loki's fucked up too much shit and now we really have to catch him, we're super serious here”?'

Fury's good eye twitched and Hill rubbed her forehead. 'Yes,' Coulson said, face blank.

Tony whistled. 'Did you teach Romanov how to make that face? It's uncanny.'

Coulson ignored him and started handing out navy folders, Loki's name and “Priority One” written in red across the glossy front. Tony muttered curses in various languages but flipped the folder open like a good little Avenger. There was a list of Loki's past targets, as well as what bases SHIELD thought Loki would hit next.

Tony's eyebrows climbed. They'd just handed him this information. Tony already had it, of course, but before going into business with Loki had hadn't known where half of SHIELD's bases were. And here they were, a nice, neat list just for him.

'So we're assuming that Loki has this information?' Tony asked.

'At least parts of it,' Coulson said with a nod. 'There are bases that not even SHIELD are aware of.'

'Apart from you, Hill and Fury,' Tony felt the need to point out.

'Some even I don't know about, Stark,' Fury said.

'So bases that the World Security Council personally uses?' That got him looks from everyone in the room, and Tony shrugged. 'What? We need to coordinate, right? That's what this meeting's about! If we can figure out Loki's next target we can wait for him, stop him destroying it, maybe capture him.' He paused and cut his eyes to Thor. 'We are catching him, right? No maiming or killing?'

Barton twitched but Fury agreed readily with Tony. Thor's chest puffed out, even while his eyes stayed on Fury. So Thor wasn't an idiot, then, Tony mused. He knew how the mortals really felt about his brother, and was braced for their possible betrayal. Tony was, too. He very much doubted that Fury, his lackeys, and the Wonder Twins wanted to catch Loki. It was death or nothing, as far as they were concerned.

Tony wasn't going to let that happen. And he had an ally in Thor, at least. Possibly Steve and Bruce, too. Both had very much been against killing all their other enemies, while Tweety and Red Riding Hood were far too trigger happy for even Tony's standards. And Tony's standards were pretty damn low.

'Let's get started, then,' Tony announced, slapping a gauntlet against the table. It creaked beneath his strength and Tony threw Rogers a smile when the Captain sighed at him. 'The sooner we get this done, the sooner I can get out of here. Then we can catch Loki, pack him off to Santa's Christmas Village, and Logan and I can actually party without the Avengers ruining my mood.'

Fury eyed him then, and Tony met his gaze steadily. Even raised an eyebrow when Coulson glanced at him, too. Fury looked away first, followed by Coulson, and Hill turned to man the TV while the other Avengers flipped their folders open.

Seemed Barton and Romanov had discussed their last argument with the head honcho. Tony wondered what their plan was now. They still needed him, otherwise Romanov would have been more vicious during their spat. But what did they want?

'Let's start with the SHIELD bases,' Coulson began after clearing his throat. 'We believe that Loki knows of the bases listed in your files...'



{oOo}



'Later, bitches!' Stark shouted. He was out of the room before Maria had turned the TV off, and the Avengers could hear the suit folding itself around the man as he made his way down the hallway.

'He's, uh...' all eyes turned to Steve, and the Super Soldier shrugged, 'getting better?'

'I hope he is,' Bruce muttered, but didn't seem to be talking to them so much as himself. He left next, Steve and Thor trailing after them. Maria got the SHIELD tech out and locked the door behind her, leaving Fury, Coulson, Natasha and Clint.

'Welll?' Fury demanded immediately.

'He is getting better,' Clint said. He was still in his seat, feet propped on the chair next to him. 'As much as I hate to say it, Thomas has been good for him. Stark doesn't drink nearly as much, and hasn't created any suicidal experiments lately.'

'That we know of,' Natasha huffed. 'He doesn't tell us nearly half of the things he does, Clint.' Clint just shrugged.

'Have you made any more progress on his suit?' Coulson asked.

'A little,' Natasha said. 'He keeps that locked up pretty tight, of course; even from his team mates. But Clint and I have chipped away at his security. There are some loopholes Stark doesn't seem to be aware of.'

'We have a lot more access than anyone else in the Tower,' Clint added. 'With Pepper's codes as well as the Avengers', we've gotten a heap of information.'

'But not enough,' Fury reminded them. 'Our scientists tell me that we're nowhere near building a functioning Iron Man suit. We have zero arc reactor technology, and what we have of the suits isn't enough.'

'Doom's bots didn't help?' Clint asked.

Coulson shook his head. 'Doom's technology was primitive when compared to Tony Stark's. Apart from giving us a vague idea of what fits together, it's relatively useless.'

'So we need more,' Natasha said. She was frowning, and Fury eyed her.

'Romanov?'

'I think he's going to quit the team,' Natasha said, an exhale accompanying her words.

'Why now?' Coulson asked.

'We told you what happened,' Clint said. 'Stark was pissed.'

'And he seemed serious about quitting,' Natasha added. 'I've never seen him like that.'

'It's Thomas,' Clint added. 'Before, Stark only had himself to care about, and his team mates. But we can take care of ourselves. Compared to us, Logan Thomas is useless, and Stark knows that. Loki's targeted him before-'

'He's not going to risk Thomas' life,' Natasha cut in. 'We've seen how they are around each other.'

'So there's no chance of getting Thomas to turn?' Fury asked.

Natasha shook her head. It was Clint who said, 'I'm pretty sure they fucking love each other- if Tony Stark is capable of loving anyone other than himself, it'd be Logan Thomas.'

Fury swore and slid into his seat. Hands pressed together, he surveyed the two Avengers across the table.

'We can't turn them against each other,' Clint said, 'no way.'

'Is that your professional opinion?' Fury asked.

'Professional and personal,' Clint said. 'Every part of me is a hundred percent sure of this, Fury. You approach Thomas, he'll tell Stark, and this whole operation will blow up in our faces. Stark will have us out of the Tower before Loki can attack another base.'

Fury growled at those words and rubbed his good eye. 'Great,' he grunted.

Coulson glanced at his boss before meeting Natasha's eyes. 'Miss Potts tells me that Stark's getting an assistant.'

'Apparently,' Natasha agreed. 'He told Pepper that he's got some interviews lined up for next week.'

'His phone records back that up,' Coulson said. He pulled another folder from his suitcase, this one red, and slid it across the table to Natasha.

She flipped through it briefly before looking up. 'Are these real?'

'As far as we know,' Coulson said. 'And we can never be sure where Stark's concerned. But these seem legitimate.'

'So we could get to the assistant,' Natasha mused.

'Someone who has to work with Stark?' Clint snorted. 'They'll be begging to snitch on him.'

'See to it and keep me updated,' Fury ordered. 'And get me some goddamn blueprints for Stark's suits. The sooner we have them, the sooner we can get rid of him.'

Natasha said, 'Yes, sir,' while Clint just nodded. The two left quickly, Fury staring after them and Coulson cleaning up.

'Not having second thoughts, are you?' Natasha murmured as they walked.

'No,' Clint said. 'But Stark has changed.'

'I won't deny that,' Natasha said, 'but this is for the greater good, Clint.'

'Yeah,' Clint said, but he was frowning.

'Clint?'

'Is it for the greater good?' Clint questioned. 'If Stark gets his shit together- if Thomas actually gives him a reason to stop acting like a fucking super villain- then is it for the greater good?'

'Nobody can change that much, Clint,' Natasha said. 'Yes, Stark's calmed down somewhat since Thomas entered the picture. But he's still unstable, and he's still dangerous. You see every other week what Loki's capable of; Stark's exactly the same. Their stories are the same, their personalities are the same; the only differences are their powers and their heritage. One day soon something's going to go wrong and Stark will be the next super villain SHIELD has to fight.'

'I guess,' Clint mumbled. He shook his head and offered Natasha a smile when the woman clapped a hand to his shoulder. 'No, I get it, Tash; believe me, I do. I just wish...'

'Things were different?' Clint nodded. 'We're assassins, Clint. We don't wish.'

Clint said nothing to that, so Natasha let the conversation drop.



{oOo}



After wandering around the Helicarrier for a good hour- and listening in on the lovely little chat Fury had with the archer and Russian- Tony launched himself off of the flying-boat-hybrid and into the air.

'Play me that techno song that was on when Loki and I went clubbing,' Tony ordered. JARVIS obliged, somehow knowing exactly what Tony was talking about. Tony spun through the late night- or early morning, depending on how you looked at it- air, twisting and flipping and testing various things as he thought.

So SHIELD still needed his suits; they didn't have enough information, and they had nothing on his arc reactor technology. Well, Tony wasn't about to let that go. He'd give them old Iron Man blueprints, he'd give them certain things to keep them thinking they were winning. But his reactor tech was his and his alone. There wasn't a chance in hell that he was letting that, nor the element that powered it, go.

It would be easy to leave some stuff around; to weaken some of JARVIS' servers and let SHIELD in. Give them enough and Tony would be free to destroy some more bases with Loki. By the time they realised that Tony was playing them it'd be too late; Tony and Loki would have won.

Tony grinned at the thought as he dove towards Stark Tower. He landed smoothly and JARVIS dismantled the suit. Tony walked around the balcony and into the penthouse. The lights were off, but the massive flat-screen TV as playing, sound near-muted.

'They think you're gonna hit Washington D.C. next,' Tony announced.

Loki looked away from the TV show he was watching- there was a lot of blood, a lot of gunfire, but Tony didn't bother looking too closely. 'Why?' Loki asked.

'They think you'll see it as a big fuck you to America as a whole,' Tony told him. 'Their next guess is Malibu, but only because I have a house there and they think you hate Logan a whole heap.'

Loki snorted. 'As if I would care unduly for a mortal. Your team mates barely register on my radar.'

'But they do register,' Tony said. He decided to ignore the “team mates” part of that sentence. He was pretty sure that Loki was only calling them that to piss him off. 'Anyway; Washington D.C., Malibu, followed by Chicago.'

'I do not even know where Chicago is,' Loki commented.

'It's one of the largest cities in the US,' Tony said, 'which is why it made the list; I suggested that you'd like the possible civilian damages and casualties.'

'That does sound interesting,' Loki said. He raised his arm when Tony flopped onto the sofa. Groaning, Tony burrowed into Loki's bony chest. It was surprisingly comfortable and he closed his eyes. He felt fingers thread through his hair and sighed again. 'Problems?' Loki questioned.

'Just a headache from all the talking,' Tony grumbled. 'It's already going away.'

'I am glad,' Loki said, 'because we have plans today.'

'We do?'

He felt Loki nod. 'We need to get back to your magical training. It wouldn't do to have your magic make an appearance around your-'

'Don't say it!' Tony interrupted. He raised a hand to waggle a finger at Loki, and heard the older god chuckle.

'Around the Avengers ,' he amended.

'That's better,' Tony said. He dropped his hand and rubbed Loki's belly. 'Let me take a little nap, get something to eat; then we'll go, okay?'

Loki hummed.

'JARVIS, time?' Tony asked through a yawn.

' It is 3:16am, sir ,' JARVIS responded.

'Stupid SHIELD,' Tony grunted. He burrowed further into Loki's side, sighed when a blanket was suddenly draped over him.

'Sleep, Stark,' Loki said. 'I shall wake you soon.'

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Tony was dreaming. He knew he was dreaming because he'd had this... this nightmare often enough. He was falling through the portal, staring at heaven or hell, stars and ships too big for even his comprehension. There was something there, watching him; he could feel its eyes on him. Then hands, clasping, dragging, trying to pull him towards the ships. He knew it was a dream because in reality he'd fallen through the portal and everything had gone black before he saw clear blue sky again.

In his head, he was pulled forward. The hands got a grip on his shirt- he wasn't wearing his suit, just a flimsy t-shirt and a pair of his jeans. Even his goddamn feet were bare. He struggled but it was no use; he was dragged up through the stars, a million eyes staring and judging him, knowing everything, even his worst fears. He tried to scream but there was no air. Sweat broke across his cold skin and Tony kicked but no, no, he was going up, being dragged, and then a face, grey teeth the size of bricks, rancid breath blowing across his face, blood spilling from his mouth-

Tony woke screaming. JARVIS was talking- Loki, too- but Tony only heard it as white noise. He fought against whatever was holding him down and managed to roll off of the sofa and into something large, warm, hard. He grasped at the fabric beneath his fingers as he inhaled sharply. He couldn't get a breath, his chest hurt and his heart thudded dangerously quickly behind his arc reactor.

He groped at his chest, just to check that his arc reactor was still there. Sometimes he swore that it wasn't, that whatever the fuck was on the other side of that wormhole had managed to steal it. It took too long- minutes? Hours?- for him to realise that his arc reactor was there, safe; that he was safe. And that he was wrapped up in Steve Rogers' arms.

'Tony. Breathe,' the captain ordered. Tony tried, but he couldn't. Everything was blackening around the edges of his eyesight, but a strong hand grabbed his chin and forced him to look. Steve's blue eyes met his, and Tony gasped. 'Your name is Tony Stark,' Rogers said. 'It's 7:03am and you're in Stark Tower, Manhattan.' Tony took a ragged breath. 'Repeat after me, Tony,' Steve ordered.

Tony tried to nod, but his head just jerked randomly. 'I... I'm...'

'Tony Stark,' Steve repeated.

'Tony Stark,' Tony echoed. 'I'm...' inhale, exhale, 'Anthony Edward Stark. It's seven... seven...'

'7:04am, Mr Stark,' JARVIS supplied.

'Seven... oh... four,' Tony inhaled again. He held it in his chest, then breathed out. 'AM,' he finished.

'Where are you?' Steve asked.

'M-Manhattan,' Tony stuttered, then hiccuped. He hung his head and focused on breathing, on the feel of Rogers' tight t-shirt beneath his fingers. 'I'm in Manhattan. I'm safe.'

'That's right,' Steve said.

There was silence for a minute, two, while Tony got his breathing under control. He flinched when he felt a warm hand press against the back of his neck, but looked up to see Loki crouched beside him. Logan's eyes were worried, mouth pressed into a thin line. He looked so much like Loki that Tony pushed away from Steve to fall into the older god's arms. Loki wrapped him up quickly, shushed him when Tony's breath faltered again.

'Thank you, Captain Rogers,' Loki murmured.

'It's fine,' Steve said, 'I've seen it before. After the invasion...' Tony heard him trail off, heard the frown in his voice. 'It doesn't matter now,' he finally continued. 'I'll come back later.'

'We may still have plans for the day,' Loki murmured. 'I'll have Tony contact you when he's better.'

'Okay,' Steve replied. More silence, and then Steve's footsteps as he left. Finally the elevator, and JARVIS saying, 'Mr Rogers is gone, sir.'

'Are you well?' Loki asked.

'Yeah,' Tony said on an exhale. He rubbed his face against Loki's shoulder. 'Fuck.'

'Do you have nightmares often?'

'Not so much lately,' Tony murmured. 'I had a shit load after the invasion.' He felt Loki tense against him, but the other god said nothing. 'Panic attacks, mostly; re-living the portal.'

'It is...' Loki hesitated, clearly choosing his words carefully. 'It is something that remains with you, even years later. I fell for an eternity.'

Tony shuddered at the thought. 'How the fuck did you survive?'

'I didn't, in a way,' Loki said. 'Before I was... much saner, than I am now. Something within me broke when I fell, and it will never heal; I know that for certain. Not even my magic can make me whole.'

'It's fucking bullshit,' Tony growled. He thumped one fist against Loki's shoulder. 'It's fucking bullshit. I'm Tony fucking Stark.'

'And I am Loki Laufeyson,' Loki replied. 'The wormhole- the place between worlds- can destroy even the strongest being. You are not weak, Anthony.'

'I feel like it.'

'As do I, at times.'

They fell into silence until Tony felt like he could stand on his own two feet. He shook violently during the first attempt, but managed to find his footing on the second. He still needed Loki's help and the Trickster wrapped an arm around Tony's waist and pulled him into the small kitchen. Tony was made to sit, a glass of water pressed between his hands. Tony stared at it for a while, only becoming aware again when a mug was placed before him.

'Drink,' Loki ordered, 'it helps me.'

Tony nodded and swapped the water for the tea. He inhaled deeply and then took a small sip. It was something warm, spicy, and settled in his gut with a warm glow. He did feel better after a few sips and offered Loki a weak smile.

Loki was sitting opposite him with his own tea. 'You haven't had any nightmares since I came to stay here,' he said. 'I would have noticed.'

'Yeah, they're less frequent now,' Tony said. 'The last one was about a week before we made our deal.'

Loki nodded.

'What about you?' Tony asked. Loki's knuckles turned white on his mug.

'The night before our deal,' Loki said.

Tony frowned at that. He threw his mind back, remembered the fight he'd contacted Loki during. Now that he thought about it, Loki had seemed less... stable, during that fight. Tony had been worried that Loki would completely ignore him. His eyes had been dark, haunted. He'd had that look on his face... the look Tony saw in the mirror after his own nightmares.

Tony's breath shuddered and he took another sip of tea.

'Rogers was concerned,' Loki spoke. Tony looked at him. 'He came in to discuss a team dinner. I was about to wake you when I sensed your dreams.'

Tony frowned. 'Sensed?'

The other god hesitated, but at Tony's pointed look he said, 'Our bond... it allows certain things through. I could sense your distress, and it wasn't difficult to ascertain what you were experiencing.'

Another gulp of tea. 'Right,' Tony said.

'He managed to wake you, when even I failed.' Loki was frowning, now; eyes on his tea, head tilted down. 'He talked you through it.'

'You would have been able to as well,' Tony said with certainty. 'Rogers... he knows nightmares; he's dealt with his own. He has access to the penthouse because we were heading towards being friends before I discovered what he and SHIELD are up to. He's talked me through a lot of nightmares.'

'He cares for you,' Loki said, but Tony shook his head.

'No, he cares about Howard Stark; he tolerates me because I'm Howard's son. He respects Howard in a way that he'll never respect me.'

'No,' Loki said, voice stern; 'he respects you, Anthony. Despite what he is doing for SHIELD, he enjoys your company and cares for you.'

'He doesn't,' Tony insisted.

'He could have left earlier; left me to deal with it,' Loki growled. 'All those times he helped you? He could have walked away, but he didn't, Anthony. Deny it all you want, but Rogers considers himself your friend.'

'Then why the fuck is he trying to get me off the team?!' Tony shouted. He slammed his mug against the table, forgot his strength; the mug shattered, spilling hot tea across the surface. Tony cursed and threw himself to his feet to get a dish towel or some goddamn paper ones.

'He cares for your well-being,' Loki said, speaking to Tony's back. 'He wants what is best for you and sees your separation from the team as something that will benefit you emotionally, physically and mentally. He doesn't wish for you to leave, but thinks it's for the best.'

'Saw all that from the way he talked me through my fucking nightmare, huh?' Tony snarled. 'Or did you fuck around in his head?'

'It is obvious,' Loki said, voice still calm; he wasn't rising to Tony's fury, which pissed Tony off that much more.

He rounded on Loki and found the Jötunn still at the table. He'd twisted in his seat to stare at Tony and met his eyes unflinchingly. 'Say that you're right,' Tony said, 'say that Steve cares about me, and wants what's best for me. So what? He still betrayed me, Loki! He's still working behind my back to get me off of his fucking team. And when everything comes out- when SHIELD and the Avengers realise what I'm doing- Steve will still come after me. He's a good person. No amount of friendship or caring on his part will stop him from taking me down.

'Steve will always fight for the greater good, and we're killing people , Loki!' Tony near-shouted. 'Steve will stop me because he knows it's the right thing to do. He might not try and kill me, but he will come after me. He'll try and catch me and lock me up and rehabilitate me. But that won't work, because we both know that I was fucked up long before Iron Man. So if he manages to get me, I'll sit in some goddamn tiny cell for the rest of my now really, really long life, and make shit for SHIELD. Steve will feel bad, but he'll do it.'

Tony leaned heavily against the counter, paper towels clutched tightly in his hands. 'I don't have friends, Loki,' he finished. 'Because friends don't betray each other. They get into your face and tell you when you're being an asshole. Pepper and Steve are both working behind my back. I can maybe count Rhodey and Bruce as friends, but when they find out what I've done? What I plan to do?' He shook his head. 'They'll betray me, too.'

Loki said nothing, so Tony moved forward to clean the spilled tea. He tossed the broken mug into the trash and mopped the table top. It