Loki looks damn good in a suit, Tony thinks. It is the only good thing about today. Tony can’t even admire Loki in a suit, because he is waiting with a disturbing amount of patience out in the hallway.Congressman Ross sits behind his desk, hands clasped nonthreateningly on top of it, and looks at Tony with this… disgustingly honest expression. He must have got it from Captain America.
“The fact of the matter is, Mr. Stark, that you agreed to work on the Avengers team with them again, and team cohesion is, according to your leader, terrible.” Tony quirks an eyebrow.
“No, it’s not, and Mr. Rogers is not my leader. Mr. James Rhodes is currently the only acting leader of the Avengers, and is aided by Mr. Jack Maverick. I myself am not a leader or even a full team member, but a consultant at this time.”
“Displeasure has been expressed at Mr. Rhode’s involvement.”
“I do not see how that is a concern; I expressed displeasure at who filled the position of the West Coast head of R&D for SI, and that was also soundly ignored. It isn’t about personal preference. If anyone has a problem with Mr. Rhodes leadership, they will need to either file for an ethics investigation, deal, or quit.”
Ross nods, all agreeable. Damn fanboy.
“Mr. Stark, when you agreed to put the Avengers back on the active roster, there was an impression that you would attempt to put behind you the events that caused your Civil War.”
“Was there?” Tony says, leaning back in his seat.
“It wasn’t in writing. It wasn’t even brought up, except by parties concerned for the health of myself and of The Vision.”
“Nevertheless,” Ross says, “working with people in life and death situations means you must trust them. You have the unfortunate burden of having to learn to trust them, but that it what needs to happen if you are to all form a team.” Tony raises his hand.
“I see lots of plot holes. First of all, life-and-death requires trusting people to do the jobs they are supposed to do. If Mr. Rogers is supposed to block with his energy shield, I trust him to do that. If Ms. Romanov is supposed to set a small explosive, I trust her to do that. What I don’t trust, is for someone to come over the comms and tell me to do this or that. I don’t trust Steven to do strategy. I don’t trust him to lead in a way that does not set up the extremely unhealthy dynamics that were in place before they left. That is why Rhodey is leader. Because he does not have a history of betrayal.
“Second of all, I would not be learning to trust. I would be learning to trust again, and those are two different things entirely. Furthermore, I did not choose to leave the team and demand to come back. I chose to stay and deal with the fallout. If other team members find themselves irritated with me, they are welcome to leave my building and my life,” Tony says. Ross swallows, knowing he’s been gotten.
“Very well, Mr. Stark. I will see you later then.” Loki waits to speak until they are in the car. He drags the thick tail of his braid over his shoulders and begins to tease the end.
“You know, sometimes I almost believe I was wrong about mortals. But then I see something that tells me I am right,” Loki muses as Tony sits in the car, half dead with exhaustion. With the Avengers back and fully pardoned just two weeks after they go and demanding special treatment, Tony has to scrabble to do any planning with them breathing down his neck.
It. Is. Exhausting.
“That’s okay, Lokes. I got a plan.”