Six years ago, Loki had come to Earth with an army that wasn't his. Earth had obliterated it and sent him packing back to Asgard, gift-wrapped in chains.
Six days ago, Loki came to Earth with an army that wasn't his: it was Thor's. And this time there was no Asgard left to send him back to.
* * *
Tony is in the middle of a routine video conference with the budding new branch of United Nations, the Global Security Committee, when the alien spaceship pulls out of hyperdrive and into geosynchronous orbit over Europe, somewhere between Earth and the Moon.
As soon as their phones start ringing all at the same time, the meeting breaks up into the sort of controlled pandemonium that only happens when a group of people are confronted for the first time with a situation they have only drilled and practiced for. (It's already strike one for GLOSEC: people should be calling only the one hotline, rather than each councilperson separately. But they will learn.)
Baby's first crisis, Tony thinks with a wry grin.
And then the words "alien invasion" happen, and the grin falls of his face.
Thor's face appears on the screen. He's missing an eye and his hair is shorter than anything Tony's seen on him before.
"Aw," he says, "you didn't have to gussy up to see me, Point Break. Though you should be more careful with the mascara wand next time."
Thor manages a sort of smile. The skin around his mouth is crinkled with it; the skin around his eyes is not. "Take care how you address the king of Asgard, Tony Stark," he says lightly, not lightly at all.
Ahhh, that's why he looks like he's aged more in the last two years than in all the time they've known each other. Tony is intimately familiar with what a father's death and the inheriting of an empire will do to a man. (He counts his lucky stars he didn't also lose depth perception.)
Tony rests the fingers of his left hand lightly on his collar and gives the camera a little curtsy. "Greetings, Your Majesty, King Thor of Asgard." He rises, face solemn, stiff upper lip and all that jazz. "Welcome back to Earth, Sire."
Thor's eyebrows started climbing from the moment Tony touched his collar, and by the end of his little speech they have practically reached his hairline. "Um—" he starts eloquently.
Hey, just because Tony is a rude asshole doesn't mean he doesn't have extensive etiquette training.
"—you're wearing a collar," Thor finishes.
Oh. So he wasn't marveling at the private display of obeisance, just the public display of submission.
"Long story." Tony rolls his eyes. "You're wearing an eyepatch."
Thor's grin is more genuine this time. "Long story," he choruses. "Think we can come down and talk?"
We?, Tony thinks.
"Sure," Tony says.
* * *
He really should have asked Thor to elaborate upon that "we". Then at least he could have braced himself for the panic attack.
* * *
Tony being a Responsible Person and filling his favorite form (it says a lot about his life that he has a favorite form) while he listens with half an ear to the feed of the hacked security cam.
The negotiations are going well, for certain values of "well" that equal "humans are shamelessly taking advantage of the fact that Thor has a hard-on for this particular spot of land in Norway". So far Thor has accepted Norway using his people as unpaid labor, GLOSEC conscripting them in case of global emergency, having to teach humans all their Sufficiently Advanced Technology for free, gifting the creatively baptized Ark to the Unesco. In return, the UN will kindly allow Thor to take a loan from the IMF to buy the land and the materials.
Apparently losing an eye has turned the His-Majesty-Thor-King-of-Asgard blind to the nuances of carefully impenetrable legalese.
Tony kind of wishes he were there in person to keep his friend from signing the shittiest deal ever (Tony learned a lot about shitty deals when he was screwing people over in his stint as CEO), but let's be honest, it will be a snowy day in Hell before Thor takes an order from a sub. And also Tony's wearing the GLOSEC's collar, and he doesn't want to get disciplined for undermining them. (Again. His ass still hurts from the last epic spanking.)
Anyway. Right when Thor is in the middle of making a speech that amounts to "Yes, please, shove a cactus up my ass with no lube, thank you, and then give me a lemon juice enema so I can really feel it, I will pay you extra for your trouble", Loki comes into the room, says something probably disparaging that Tony can't hear over the sudden white noise in his head, smacks Thor aside, and takes over calm as he pleases, like he wasn't a genocidal psychopath.
The timbre of his voice grabs Tony by the neck and squeezes until he can't breathe, breaks glass against his spine, hurls New York up at him, sucks him into a wormhole and switches off his heart.
Wheezing, he falls to the floor, reaches up, finds his collar strangling him, wrestles it off, hides under his desk. Friday cuts the feed off, but it's too late: in the resulting silence, broken only by his uneven breathing, he dies a little all over again.
Later, when he's feeling human again, Tony watches the rest of the feed.
He can't help but smile, and he wonders what is wrong with him.
Loki says "Citizenship will grant us basic human rights", and Thor stills.
Loki says "We need arable land", and Thor winces.
Loki says "We shall patent that", and Thor blushes.
Loki says "Pay back investor loans with the royalties and the sale of excess production", and Thor shakes his head.
Loki says "Sewage treatment plans" and "Garbage disposal" and "Medical facilities" and "Foster system and social workers" and "Integration program with local schools" and "Taxes" and "Body of law and jurisprudence" and "Sokovia Accords".
Loki doesn't say "I am the king of Asgard where it counts" but Thor quietly leaving the room after realizing he's out of his depth says it for him.
* * *
Tony —sent by GLOSEC to New Asgard, Norway, to observe and report, among other consultants— will confirm that impression in his report: while everyone jumps to attention whenever Thor speaks, nothing says "Loki has been neck-deep in all the aspects of ruling Asgard and making it thrive for four years while Thor was off gallivanting across the realms, too busy being a good man to be a great king" like the way Asgardians turn to him first whenever they have the slightest doubt or problem.
Thor is shadowing him, taking a crash course in how to king, and Loki is taking his time to walk him through it. But until he's ready to take the crown in deed as well as in name, Loki's the one solving headaches left and right, directing construction and juggling finite resources like he's playing the meatspace version of Age of Empires.
Predictably, Loki is fucking everywhere.
Tony's only managed to avoid him by asking random people where he is so he can go in the opposite direction.
Bored (Asgardians are too human-like to appeal to his inner geek, and if he'd wanted to oversee the day-to-day minutiae of building and governing a town he would have stayed on as Stark International's CEO) and desperately wanting to avoid Loki, Tony seeks out Bruce Banner and they sneak into the Ark.
"It's odd," Bruce comments while showing Tony the air recycling system, "he's very different."
Tony's distracted oohing and aahing over the technology (algae that converts CO2 into O2 while also purifying waste water and being edible, talk about multitasking!) to pay too much mind.
"He used to give off unsafe top vibes," Bruce continues, opening another panel for Tony to examine, "but now it's like… Authority suits him, you know?"
"Mmhmm," Tony hums noncommittally. He has noticed that Loki doesn't look like the kind of pathetic top with an inferiority complex that beats a sub within an inch of their life to try to establish dominance, but he's still super uncomfortable around him and he can't pinpoint why. "So, what, you eat this?"
Bruce takes the return to the main conversation in stride. "Some of it, yeah, but most of the excess goes into the protein vats."
Tony turns his head slowly, still up to his elbows inside the filtering system. He probably looks like an owl, but he doesn't care, because lab-grown meat. "What does it taste like? What are the nutritional values? Does it have all the essential amino acids? How much is produced? How do you eat it?"
"Chicken and pork; no idea; I haven't died yet so probably; enough to feed three thousand Asgardians, thirteen other aliens of varied species, and one human for five months; roasted or grilled with a side of algae puree," Bruce answers without missing a beat. He scratches his neck in that self-conscious way of his. "I take it SI's been trying to develop a way to mass-produce clean meat?"
No wonder Loki was so adamant about patents, Tony thinks. Son of a bitch wants to reverse engineer everything in this ship and sell it to the highest bidder.
A man after Tony's own heart. He approves wholeheartedly.
Fuck. He did not just think that.
"Does this ship have any brain bleach?"
* * *
As it turns out, not even days spent mentally preparing himself for the possibility of encountering Loki face to face is enough to stave off a panic attack.
"I hate my brain," Tony says after sorting himself out, apropos of nothing. He's hiding in one the the recently finished houses, where he fled after seeing Loki at the small banquet in honor of Thor's birthday.
The Valkyrie, who was already hiding there when Tony snuck in, offers him her flask silently.
Tony doesn't like being handed things (just because he was assigned submissive at ten doesn't mean tops can boss him around, even when it's something as small as a silent "hold this", "eat this", "use this") but this time he'll make the exception.
He takes a gulp, and promptly coughs and sputters.
Whatever is in the flask might not be brain bleach, but it sure tastes like bleach.
The Valkyrie is laughing so hard that she falls off her chair.
Goddamn tops, Tony thinks, and pours the vile poison out the window onto the soil.
"No!" cries the Valkyrie, horrified. She's drunk enough that there are actual tears in her eyes (though Tony would bet money they are from the previous laughter). "Why didja have to go and do that?" She pushes herself to a relatively upright position, and advances on Tony.
Fucking tops, thinks Tony, and shoots her with a repulsor blast from the gauntlet hidden in his wristwatch.
He gets out of there before she can get back up.
"I can recommend a sensitivity training course," Tony tells Thor later, while they eat. (Turns out that Bruce's succinct "chicken and pork" didn't meant two flavors, just one. Tastes weird, but Tony can't stop eating it.)
Thor looks at him like he's sprouted a second head from his ass. "What?"
"Look, if you're going to assimilate into human society," Tony explains, "you are gonna have to learn about public property culture and how to combat it—"
"What are you talking about?"
"—as well as how to determine what amount of discipline is proportional to the crime—"
"Man of Iron," Thor tries to interrupt.
"—and how to recognize when you've sent someone into subspace—"
Thor covers Tony's mouth to shut him up. "I get it."
Tony goes cross-eyed, staring down Thor's sausage fingers. No, he thinks, you don't get it.
Because Asgardians don't have subs, and their superiority complex means that, as far as they are concerned, everyone else should kowtow to them and obey them blindly, especially mortals. They mock the subs for their easy, automatic obedience and threaten to discipline the tops until they relent. Not even Tony, whom Thor addresses as an equal most of the time, is excepted.
(The only one they leave alone is Bruce, who has always been non-dynamic and can beat them into a pulp if they try anything.)
Asgardians are all tops. But some Asgardians are toppier than others, and the Bethlehem Star of the gaudy Asgardian hierarchical Christmas tree isn't Thor right now: it's Loki.
And Loki, as any good monarch, no matter how temporary, will listen.
Wow. Tony never thought he would be grateful for Thor's currently being unfit to rule, but he lives and learns.
Time to put on my big boy pants and cowboy up.
* * *
"Kneel before me", Loki had ordered once upon a time. Tony had laughed in his face.
"Sit beside me", Loki directs that day. Tony drops to the floor at his feet instantly.
Later, Tony will think: Shit, Bruce was right about this whole kingly air of authority shtick.
Right now, he's too busy concentrating on the heavy and warm hand Loki has on the back of his neck, snug under the collar, anchoring him to reality. He doesn't actually want anything to do with reality —he feels great right now—, but Loki's velvety voice is firm and will brook no arguments, and Tony's one desire is to obey him and make him happy.
As he resurfaces, guided by Loki all the way, he thinks of Pepper and the one and only time he'd allowed her to dom him. She had pulled all the stops —full body bondage, blindfold, impact play, pegging, the list went on— and she had still needed three hours to put him under.
Loki had sent him into subspace with three words.
Tony's ashamed of himself. It's a new feeling. Blushing despite himself, he peers up at Loki through his eyelashes.
Loki is leering down at him and smirking. There is a light in his eyes that isn't disdain or derision, like it might have been six years ago, but a mischievous glimmer instead. "I'm happy to see that Midgard finally recognizes my greatness."
The words give Tony his voice back. "Pft. You wish, Prancer."
Head mostly clear now, he realizes their positions: Loki on his office chair with crossed legs, Tony half-kneeling-half sitting with bent legs to one side like a fucking mermaid, and leaning towards him. If his feet were tucked properly under him (like the posture-perfect way his very traditional mother used to kneel in by Howard's chair every dinner), he would be the poster child for sub etiquette.
A void opens up in Tony's stomach. "Feel free to stop touching me whenever."
Loki thumbs the short hairs at the top of Tony's neck briefly, before removing his hand.
Tony feels its absence like a phantom limb. He stands up and dusts his ass, avoiding Loki's gaze lest he gets swallowed whole again. He clears his throat and says, "We need to talk." And, just in case the asshole thinks he means the little impromptu session they just had, he clarifies: "Ambassador to monarch."
Studiously neutrally, Loki gestures to the chair on the other side of the desk. "Please."
The compulsion never comes. Tony sits, this time because he wants to.
Loki agrees to make Asgardians undergo sensitivity training. He also agrees that he should discipline the new citizens of Norway according to Norwegian law.
"It is only proper," he says with glittering eyes and a smug smirk.
Tony smirks back. He hopes their godly refugees like receiving corporal punishment as much as they enjoy giving it.
* * *
Loki has grown a lot saner. He has less hate and more humor. He's not gratuitously cruel. He pranks Thor often when either of them is stressed and sticks his tongue out at the Valkyrie whenever she throws shade at him. He glides around regally, rather than the predatory stalk he used to have. When he gives orders, he gives off an air of understated authority.
The mere sight of him doesn't make Tony's anxiety levels spike.
The mere sight of him does make Tony wonder what Loki ruling him would feel like.
* * *
"You have been avoiding me," is what Loki opens with after dismissing his attendants.
"Where on Earth did you get that idea?" Tony replies as if he hasn't been avoiding Loki for the past two weeks and hasn't only stopped because he needs authorization to study the Ark's Necklin rods (i.e. the thingies that bend spacetime in five dimensions and allows spaceships to go through goddamn wormholes, what the fuck, Bruce, why algae, why didn't you start there). As if he isn't fully planning on resuming the avoidance afterward.
Loki touches a knuckle to his lips and looks at him through narrowed eyelids. "Hm. So it's only my imagination."
"It has nothing to do with what happened last time."
Loki's eyes drift down to Tony's collar. Tony gulps with an audible click. Loki meets his eyes again. Tony lowers his gaze and fingers his collar for reassurance. Loki stands from his chair and walks over to him.
He may or may not be about to break into cold sweat. The board of directors in his head hasn't decided yet if it's his hackles rising or if it's the heat creeping up from under his shirt that should get their budget approved.
Taking a deep breath to steady himself, Tony tilts his head back to meet Loki's gaze dead on. He notices a lot of things in quick succession (fuck, he's tall; fuck, he looks tired; fuck, he's pretty; fuck, he wants me) but can't do anything about them because Loki's proximity is making his senses go haywire and it's distracting.
"You will say 'please' or 'stop'," Loki murmurs, warm breath fanning over Tony's lips, "and nothing else. Nod or shake your head."
Tony can officially hear his own pulse. He nods.
"Hold onto the desk with one hand and close your eyes."
Tony holds onto the desk with one hand and closes his eyes.
Loki steps away from him so he can no longer feel his body heat. "You have such a handsome face. I want to touch it. Nod or shake your head."
A shiver goes up Tony's spine. He nods.
A single fingertip strokes along Tony's cheekbone, calluses catching on the texture of Tony's skin. It continues up his temple and over his forehead, and down the other cheek.
"Please," Tony sighs, leaning into the barely-there touch.
It's two fingers now, gently stroking his nose. They travel over his mouth, one finger on each lip, and graze the edge of his beard.
"I want to use my fingernails," Loki murmurs, tickling his ear with gravelly voice. "Nod or shake your head."
Tony nods hesitantly.
Loki keeps on stroking his cheekbones, forehead, nose, and Tony relaxes.
And then the gentle touch becomes the bite of a fingernail digging into his skin; just as suddenly, the stings softens as finger pads rub the ache away. Then it's the nails again, three this time, raking lightly down his cheek and across his lower face. Then it's a sharp little pinch on a tiny section of skin.
Tony moans helplessly. His face feels like an exposed nerve; he can barely concentrate on keeping his hand on the desk. "Please."
"I want to slap you," Loki says. "Nod or—"
Tony nods his head emphatically.
Loki slaps him hard enough to make a fleshy sound that echoes in his makeshift office, but not hard enough to turn his head.
The sharp sting is everything Tony never knew he needed in his life.
"Please," he begs, and Loki slaps him again with the back of his fingers, before soothing the aches with tender caresses.
Loki carries on alternating petting and scratches and smacks that always come when Tony least expects them. After only minutes —not even five—, Tony legs are shaking and his dick is harder than vibranium.
And then Loki stops and says, with velvet words, "We'll stop here. You can open your eyes."
Tony does, even though he's sure they are glassy and unfocused. "Why are we stopping?" he manages, voice rough and gravelly.
Loki smirks. "Because I want to."
Bastard. Tony narrows his eyes at him. "Fine. Guess I'll go back to avoiding you."
Loki laughs in his face. "No, you won't."
* * *
Tony does. Loki gives him the authorization to study the rods and he trips into a science rabbit hole and can't get up. For three glorious weeks there is no room in his brain for any thought that isn't related to the mathematical model of Einstein-Rosen bridges and Necklin fields he and Bruce are reverse-engineering from the ship.
Loki ends up having to send someone to fetch him.
* * *
When Tony arrives at Loki's room (Interesting choice of venue, he thinks) collarless, freshly showered and with his ass cleaned out just in case, he knocks casually, as if he weren't already shivering with anticipation.
Except his ardor has ten whole minutes to cool down, because that's how long Loki makes him wait before answering the door. He'd complain, but the look on Loki's face —solemn, serious, stony— shuts him up, and he says nothing.
Loki also says nothing. He says nothing for a good fifteen seconds. He doesn't even move from the doorframe to let Tony in, even though his wet hair is dripping onto his shirt.
…Yeah. Screw shutting up.
"Sorry, guess I left the invitation at home," Tony states acerbically. "I'm sure my name is in the guest list." He raises an eyebrow, daring Loki to send him away.
The acting king of New Asgard regards him intently, searching his face. He must find something he likes, because he says, "It is," and moves aside.
It's not enough space to pass comfortably, but Tony makes the space, as always. He pushes past him, their bodies rubbing against each other. He revels in Loki's sharp intake of breath.
The room is objectively small, as all cabins on ships necessarily are, but it's bigger than Tony was expecting. He's gotten used to the predictably futuristic decoration of the Ark, but the bed (unmade!) being in the middle of the room and the adjoining bathroom are new. A few of Loki's clothes lie strewn over a chair and on the floor in its vicinity.
He's messy, Tony thinks, delighted.
There is a hiss of the hydraulic door sliding shut, and Tony turns around just in time to see Loki sit down on the edge of the unmade bed like it's a jewel-encrusted golden throne.
Loki snaps his fingers and points to the floor in front of him. "Come," he says in his king voice. "Kneel."
Tony's brain short-circuits at that last word. He drops to the floor where he is and has to shuffle on his knees until he arrives at the desired spot. There, he sits on his heels, locks his hands behind his back, and looks up, awaiting orders.
Apparently, Loki doesn't mind at all, if the wide smile on his face is any indication. "Kiss my feet."
Tony shivers, partly in outrage at the request but mostly in overwhelming desire. He leans forward until his face is over Loki's left foot. It doesn't smell bad; actually, it smells pretty good, though nothing like the soap scents Tony is familiar with. He kisses the flat area over the toes. The bones and muscles beneath the skin feel very fragile, and the tickle of the thin hairs against his lips is electric.
The act feels unexpectedly good.
He kisses the other foot, this time meaning it, and kisses it again, longer and softer. He goes back to the left foot and nuzzles it, brushing his nose along the top of the arch and peppering little kisses on it.
"Stop," Loki says from above him, sounding wrecked.
Tony stops. He brings his torso back up to an upright position, still kneeling, and waits with his head lowered for further orders.
"Kiss my hands."
The hands he signed treaties with. That have lifted iron beams in the early stages of construction. That have spanked the asses of high ranking Asgardians that would have taken insult to being disciplined by someone lesser than the king. The hands that had caused Ragnarok, that handle daggers like they are another finger, that reassured and anchored Tony to reality, that slapped him when he asked for it.
Busy hands. Long-fingered hands. Calloused hands.
Kissing them is a privilege.
"Stark," Loki murmurs, taking Tony by the chin and tilting his head up. "You are weeping."
Loki brushes the pad of his thumb over Tony's eye, which closes obediently, and dries a tear. He's so strong, yet gentle. So powerful, yet so careful.
Tony would do anything for him right now, no matter how degrading, if it would make him happy.
"Please," he says into the palm cupping his face. He dares to look up at Loki, who is so beautiful that Tony might start crying again.
Loki's eyes harden. He's not scared anymore of the power he has over Tony. "You have been a terrible guest. I should discipline you."
Tony nods. "Please." He has been rude, while Loki has been nothing but kind and polite to him. He deserves it.
Loki sits back and gestures to his lap. "Lower your trousers and drape yourself on my lap."
Tony obeys, baring his ass to the cold air of the room. Loki's thighs are like marble encased in leather under him, except warm and alive.
"I will spank you now. Twenty times. I want you to count aloud and thank me every time. Nod or shake your head."
Tony nods, and Loki's precious hands fall on his ass. It hurts, and the pain builds and builds. He flinches every time, and he loses count twice, at eight and fourteen, but Loki reminds him of the count calmly. By the time they reach twenty, Tony's ass is on fire and he has the most insistent erection he's had since he was fifteen.
He slumps in Loki's lap, glad the punishment is over with and ashamed at his reaction.
"You've taken your discipline very well," Loki says, soothing his inflamed skin with an inexplicably cool hand. "I will reward you. You may speak, just this once: what would you like?"
Tony doesn't have to think about it twice. Having Loki's hand on his ass had given him ideas. "Your fingers. Please."
Loki conjures lube from somewhere, and gives Tony his fingers.
Later, after Tony has begged to suck his cock and gotten tied up for speaking out of turn, after Loki has sat on Tony's chest and fed his dick slowly into his mouth, after Loki has come down his throat with the sort of moan that fills Tony with satisfaction at a job well done, Loki will untie him and hug him and pet him until Tony regains his wits.
Later, when Tony is dressed and ashamed of himself and ready to flee, Loki will kiss him on the lips and whisper "Thank you", like Tony was the one who did Loki a favor and not the other way around.
Later, when Tony is in bed, lying on his side because his ass hurts too much for him to sleep on his back like usual, he will be unable to sleep, too horrified at himself for letting a top dom him so thoroughly.
And even later, when he touches his lips and remembers the sweet kiss and the strong voice, he will wonder if giving into the instincts he's been fighting all his life might be worth it after all.
* * *
All things must end, especially the good things.
GLOSEC can't afford (literally) to keep wasting their best consultant on observing New Asgard, not when it's established nicely and Loki has finally starting to let Thor back into the driver's seat. No matter how cool the science to be found there, they have other scientists on hand and engineers and anthropologists and xenobiologists and doctors, and Tony can be used elsewhere.
So he comes to terms with having to part from his science bro, his new drinking buddy, his increasingly capable electric golden retriever, and his new favorite top in the world). He says his goodbyes, they throw him a party, and he leaves before he starts begging for Loki to dom him one last time.
* * *
Tony does not miss Loki.
Tony does miss the release Loki brought him.
* * *
Two months later, Loki shows up on his doorstep with a stamped passport, a Marius sweater, and a grin like the Cheshire cat's.
Tony hesitates, and then he realizes that Loki gave in first, again. And this time it counts, because Tony has been fighting himself tooth and nail.
But —and this is a huge "but"—, maybe, just maybe, it's okay if he doesn't.
"Come on in." He steps aside. "Would you like a drink? I'm having one."