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"Right, so, if I lift it, I... I then rule Asgard?" Tony asked. Mjolnir defied the laws of physics as Tony knew them, but then, so did the Hulk. He couldn't resist the opportunity to gather information on it, even so little as how it felt to try to move it. It wasn't as if Thor would ever let Tony really study it.
Thor said blandly, "Yes, of course."
Tony announced, "I will be re-instituting Primae Noctis." He was glad Pepper wasn't able to hear that bit of male braggadocio. Rape jokes were never funny. Sometimes he was a little ashamed of the things he did and said, trying to fit in with the Avengers. Jocks never liked nerds, in his lifelong experience, even when the nerd did their homework for them, and lent them money without expecting payback. The Avengers weren't like that. Probably. But best not to take chances.
He clasped the hammer firmly, estimating what its mass would be if it was a comparable, high quality, sledge hammer. He remembered smashing walls and forging armor. Mjolnir felt good in his hands, natural. He took a deep breath, tensed, and pulled as hard as he could.
On Asgard, in an idle moment, Odin had asked Heimdall to show him Thor who was celebrating with Midgardians instead of immediately returning the Scepter to Asgard's safekeeping. He frowned. Thor was allowing the puniest of his 'comrades' to play with one of Asgard's treasures. And he agreed that the rulership of Asgard accompanied Mjolnir! That... would not stand. He muttered under his breath, and waved his hand."Meet your new master, Mjolnir". The Midgardian could do no harm for the short while the court would tolerate his presence, and it would be a good lesson for Thor to take care what he promised.
"YIKES!" Tony flew backward, clinging grimly to the hammer. He landed on his back, still clutching it. "WOAAH!" he cheered. "Who's your daddy?" He patted Mjolnir.
"NO!" Thor was on his feet, followed by everyone else. He strode over to Tony and held out his hand, imperiously. "Mjolnir is MINE."
Tony blinked. "Yeah, ok, it was just a joke. Sheesh. Here." He held out the hammer.
Thor grasped it. Tony let go. Mjolnir fell to the floor. Thor pulled at it, but it didn't move. He glared at Tony. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" He reached out to take Tony by the throat.
"Hey, no! A little help here?" Tony looked around but the others were just staring. "HELP!" Mjolnir smacked into his hand, and Tony swung it, knocking Thor across the room.
Steve went to help Thor up. Thor shrugged him off and stalked away. Everyone else just gaped like goldfish.
"Uhm." Tony looked at the hammer. Then he twirled it. "Yeah. I'm just... going to take this into the shop. Jarvis! Warm up the scanners!"
"Which ones, sir?" Jarvis asked.
"ALL of them." Tony grinned and headed for the elevator. "Bruce, you want to tag in?"
"Um. Sure." Bruce followed Tony into the elevator. "Thor didn't mean you'd be king of Asgard, you know."
"Sure, sure. This is some kind of temporary glitch." Tony waggled Mjolnir. "I don't want to waste the opportunity to study it. I'll give it back to Thor, later."
"What about the Scepter?"
"Multi-tasking! It's a thing. I'm betting that studying them together will give more clues than looking at either one alone. They each go beyond known science, but in different ways."
Bruce nodded. "But you'll give them to Thor, once we're done?"
"Sure. Really, there's too much power in them to leave them on Earth. I just want to learn how to protect us. Trouble is coming, Bruce, and no one but me is preparing for it."
Bruce sighed. "Yeah, ok, Cassandra."
One week later, Jarvis interrupted Tony's latest experiment to say, "Sir, there appears to be a rainbow on the balcony."
"Yah, huh," Tony replied, reaching for a mug of cold coffee.
"And a rather large equine. Possessing more than the usual number of limbs." Jarvis sounded a bit hysterical.
That got Tony's attention. He looked up.
Odin rode into the lab. Fortunately, it was a large lab. Sleipnir blew heavily, and stretched out his neck towards the work bench. Tony blinked, picked up a bowl of dried apple slices, and held it out for the horse. "Odin? Right? If you're looking for Thor, try the bar. Lately he likes the Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog."
Odin didn't respond.
Bruce stared at Odin, and at the two ravens that flew in with him, and at the eight-legged horse. "Um. I'm going to go now, Tony. Good luck." And he left the lab.
Odin blinked his one eye.
Tony blinked back at him.
Odin sighed. "My liege, the court requests your presence. Asgard must have its king."
Tony frowned and glanced at Mjolnir, which was currently holding down a bag of charcoal. He'd wanted to test the 'Superman makes diamonds in his bare hands' idea. "Sorry? You don't mean me."
Odin heaved an even heavier sigh. "I do."
Tony was about to protest, when an idea occurred to him. "Hey. If I'm king, that means people will listen to me?"
"That is so," Odin replied.
"Great!" Tony picked up Mjolnir. "I just need to tell Pepper I'm going.... do a little demo, get things rolling."
"No, Tony." Pepper said firmly once she got through being surprised by Odin and Sleipnir in the background of Tony's phone call. "The last time you went out of the country for a 'demo' you were gone for three months, and returned with a nuclear reactor in your chest."
"Yeah, but," Tony protested, "this is different! They LIKE me there, I'm king! I NEED this, Pepper."
Pepper scowled. "Luckily, I have capable assistants." Pepper turned her attention to Odin. "We will be able to return home at any time?"
"Of course," Odin said. "Also, Heimdall has created a link to all your communications networks." He didn't sound impressed. "So, you need not fear being out of touch with your court."
Pepper smiled. "Good. I'll be there within the hour. Tony, do NOT leave without me."
Sleipnir found a bowl of pitted dates.
"This is it?" Tony said as they exited the Bifrost. "This isn't like, the royal island retreat?"
Heimdall looked down at Tony. Tony looked up at Heimdall. Pepper nudged Tony. Tony said, "What? It's a legitimate question! How can I rule properly if I don't know the extent of the kingdom! I need to know the total area, the population, physical resources, meet with your scientists- ok, whatever you call them, need to see the Armory, what treaties and pacts you have with other 'Gards', what preparations you have for defending the realm... because hoo, boy, swords and giant hay-burners are not going to cut it when the Chitauri return." Tony looked at Heimdall expectantly.
Heimdall glanced at Odin, who was standing behind Tony.
Tony snapped his fingers. "No, don't look at your former king. Odin has agreed to act as interim advisor, but I expect full cooperation from you, and everyone else. OR HEADS WILL ROLL." Tony glanced at Pepper who winced. "Too much? Yeah, ok, no head rolling, but really, work with me here." Tony patted Heimdall on the arm. "Didn't Thor tell you about the Chitauri? It was nice of you to lend Thor to us for that, by the way. But, let's get real. That wasn't even a feint. That was sending in some of the boys to let off steam, and if they'd kicked our asses, great. I don't know who's calling the shots, but it wasn't them."
Tony took a deep breath. "I've seen the future and I'm not talking pretty pastel unicorns in the clouds visions. We need to be prepared. All of us."
Heimdall nodded. "Yes, my king."
Tony actually did know the art of delegation. He just wasn't much of an artist. Pepper took over the paperwork- parchment work, although she scowled at the parchment. He asked her, "You want Asgard to become a parchment free office? Save the goats?"
Pepper rolled her eyes at him. "Asgard isn't large enough to support the herds of goats this would have taken. They don't have an agricultural..."
"There's a lovely apple tree!"
"Yes. One. Manufacturing is non-existent..."
"They make armor!"
"Individual craftsmanship, with a great deal of it outsourced to other realms. And where all the gold comes from..."
"Yeah... hate to say it, but the economy seems to rely on tribute from conquered worlds? Worlds? Are they all as..." Tony gestured around him..."well, compact? You could probably fit all of Asgard into Central Park!"
"That's a slight exaggeration," Pepper said.
Tony slumped down in the throne, throwing his legs over the arm and looking sideways at Pepper. "Ok, looking on the bright side, once I told everyone a huge asskicking war was coming our way, they were all gung-ho to listen to my ideas. Makes a nice change." He tapped Mjolnir against the throne. "Just want to get things set up here, and then go home."
Pepper patted him on the head. "We will."
"Anthony of Midgard," announced one of the throne room guards. Tony had given up hope of them calling him anything less regal. At least he had nipped the 'Howardson' in the bud. "There are petitioners."
"Petitioners?" Tony sat up and scruffed his hands through his hair. "I don't have time..."
Half a dozen beautiful young blonde women entered the throne room. Really beautiful. Peaches and cream skin, low cut blouses, and none of them wearing armor. And they were blushing.
"On second thought it would be rude to send them away without hearing what they want." Tony grinned. Pepper rolled her eyes.
"You may present your petition," the guard said, striking a pose with his huge halberdy thing. Tony wasn't as up on Asgardian armor as he could be.
The girls nudged one another, and finally they settled on a spokeswoman, who seemed slightly older than the others. She said, "My king, we have come for you to claim your right."
"Right? What right?" Tony asked, puzzled.
The girl lowered her gaze and blushed more. "We are all to be wed on the morrow."
"Oh, congratulations... I should... send a... help me out, Pepper, chafing dish? Is that the..."
The girl looked up at Tony. "The right of the first night, my king. Odin has told us of your vow."
Tony's jaw dropped. "Pepppperr," he squeaked. "I didn't! I really, really, didn't."
Pepper raised an eyebrow.
"Well, I may have said something... but there was mead! And, and... it just..." Tony looked at Pepper. "Please don't make me sit through the sexual harassment seminar again."
The girl was beginning to look impatient. She tapped her foot on the gilded marble flooring.
Pepper took pity on Tony. "Ladies, you don't have to do this. King Tony does not require that sacrifice from you."
All the girls looked at Pepper in disbelief. Their leader said, "Sacrifice? Heimdall showed us the..." she glanced at the others.
"Videos!" the shortest girl said. "Many women enjoyed sexual congress with King Tony! It would be an honor to be initiated by him!"
The leader nodded. "And a pleasure." She smiled and they all nodded.
"Oh, god," Pepper said.
"I knew that was going to bite me in the butt one day," Tony muttered. "Erm... look... I've heard Thor talk about his friend, Fandral? He's very experienced. And much younger than me. I mean, I just... wouldn't you rather have your first time be with an Asgardian, if you're set on this?"
The leader shook her head again. "Fandral is a fine warrior, but he is too tall."
"Too tall?" Tony looked at Pepper, whose eyes suddenly widened.
"Oh," Pepper said.
The girls nodded in unison. "War is coming and the restrictions have been lifted. We have taken off our charms against bearing. Our mothers say it is easier if the first babe is small."
Tony covered his face with both hands. "Help," he said quietly.
Pepper said, "Oh, girls, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but King Tony has taken a vow of non-reproduction."
Tony nodded frantically.
"You see, insanity runs in his family, and he doesn't wish to pass the curse on to another generation."
Tony gave Pepper the stink-eye, and then he said, "Yes, you know, there's a fine line between genius and madness. It's not worth the risk."
The girls sighed, bowed respectfully, and left the throne room.
Tony pouted. Pepper patted his shoulder. "I know, I'm sorry. I don't think you're crazy, Tony."
"It's not that!" Tony flung his hands in the air. "I'm NOT SHORT, damn it!"