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Those Sinned Against

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Well, Tony thinks with a groan as he reaches up to cradle his pounding head, that could’ve gone a lot worse.

He could have ended up dead, for one thing, which is always a possibility when he carries through with these idiotic plans of his - Pepper would’ve had a fit if he’d told her about this one - or the Asgardians could have just left him on the battlefield, decided he wasn’t worth the trouble of bringing him back to camp, or he could have made it through the entire fight without taking a scratch, which, yes, is an outcome much to be desired normally, but absolutely useless in terms of Tony’s plan. Yeah, the idiotic one.

So really, the fact that he’s woken up lying in the dirt in the middle of the Asgardians’ encampment with heavy cuffs around his wrists means that everything’s going his way. 

Though he probably should have considered bringing some aspirin with him, because ow. 

His bare hands are freezing, fucking Russia, fucking winter, fucking winter in Russia, but they feel good as he presses his fingertips gently against the throbbing pulse in his temple, awkwardly thanks to the cuffs holding his wrists together. He still hasn’t opened his eyes but he can tell that these cuffs won’t be easy to slip, if their ridiculous weight is anything to go by. Solid metal, heavy, did he say they were heavy, and thick, covering at least two inches of wrist, nothing like the human handcuffs he’s practiced at getting out of, to have an extra safeguard when he lets people chain him down in the bedroom.

But now isn’t the time to be bitching about his less-than-stellar accommodations; he’s here for a reason, and that’s not it. Really, he doesn’t actually want to slip his cuffs.

No, Tony’s on a mission.

He has five days to collect as much data about the Asgardians as he can. Five days. He can survive whatever they throw at him for five days. He needs this, needs to know what they’re up against, since nobody who’s already done this has said a word.

Not one. Not during debriefings, even when the cameras are turned off, not under truth serum, or hypnosis, not with anything that SHIELD’s desperate enough to throw at them to make them talk, and Tony doesn’t want to think about how desperate SHIELD is right now. All of that, everything they’ve tried - Tony rocked up to one guy with a bottle of scotch and his best no-judgment face, and that didn’t fly either - something’s still holding them back.

But Tony needs to know the variables involved if he’s going to do anything about working this out. Tony needs information, and if he can’t get it from the people who know, he’ll just have to find out for himself.

Of course, he’s in violation of Fury’s orders to keep himself safe; Tony’s valuable, since his suits are nearly the only things that put a dent in the Asgardians. But Tony’s the last person on Earth to give a shit about Fury’s orders, and Fury should have seen this coming; he knows it’s not like Tony follows orders anyway. And maybe he did see it coming, after all. Frankly, given that the Iron Man plans are on file, he’d probably be pretty relieved if Tony didn’t get given back at the end of the week with everybody else. 

But he will be. Probably. The Asgardians have returned four hundred and sixty-one of the four hundred and sixty-seven people they’ve taken, so all Tony has to do is make sure he keeps his head down just far enough that they don’t execute him for anything, play nice and notice everything he can, and get back to his lab and start making actual progress on beating these alien bastards. 

Tony draws in a breath of cold, sharp air; it kicks him into gear, calm and alert, and he opens his eyes.

He’s lying on his back, staring upwards at what would be the sky if the Asgardians didn’t fuck around with things that shouldn’t be physically possible, like, say, shields of pure energy surrounding their camp. The shield looks different from the inside; all Tony’s ever seen of it is this giant gold bubble, shimmering and glowing and giving absolutely no legitimate readings to his sensors. From in here it’s tiny, so much smaller than the real arc of the sky that it’s ridiculous, like they’re trapped under a bowl or something. The shield’s transparent enough to see clouds drifting along in the real sky outside, and a slim crescent moon sitting about a foot above the horizon, just in Tony’s sight. Night and day, all mixed up into one glittering psychedelic yellow canvas.

It almost feels like magic.

Obviously it’s not. Tony’ll buy magic in terms of any sufficiently advanced technology, but he refuses to believe in the pure Harry Potter stuff. Everything the Asgardians are doing has an explanation under the laws of physics, and if all goes perfectly, that explanation is exactly what Tony’s here to learn. The Asgardians just have a hell of a projector, that’s all, it’s just a supersized planetarium. But given that the supersized planetarium is also what’s keeping out every long-range bomb, missile, rocket and weapon that SHIELD’s thrown at it, Tony doubts he’ll ever be allowed close enough to find out what makes it tick.

But he’ll learn something else. Find a weakness in their weapons or armor or strategy. Something.

Tony inhales another deep breath and the cold pricks his lungs like needles. Fuck, he misses his suit’s internal heating right now. And his gloves. And scarf. And thermal jacket. He glances down at himself to double-check, but they have left him his pants, thank god, and the arc reactor, and his boots and his shirt, though they’ve shoved the long sleeves up to make room for the shackles. 

Said shackles are a dark metal, thick and heavy just like they feel, with a decorative red enamel inlay close to his wrists, and a solid, hinged piece connecting the two cuffs with a few inches of space between them. He tests the range of movement and it’s definitely less than a conventional pair of handcuffs, the metal cutting into his wrists whenever he bends them, and no room to twist them around each other. Looks like the Asgardians take chaining up their prisoners pretty seriously.

Then again, if SHIELD ever manages to capture an Asgardian, Tony’s fairly sure they’ll be pretty damn serious too. Throwing out the Geneva Convention serious.

Tony shakes his head - he’s here to spy on the Asgardians, not worry about his own side - and gets his hands to the icy ground to push himself upright. His head protests, but only a little, so he doesn’t have a concussion; even if he does, there’s nothing he can do about it, so no point in caring. 

He’s near the edge of a group of about twenty people, all soldiers in various uniforms, since Earth, as such, doesn’t really have an army and SHIELD’s had to pull together whatever they can find. Tony’s not even in any army and he’s still been roped in. The humans are surrounded by a ring of Asgardians, full armor, spears and shields, and not kidding around, actually paying attention to the people they’re guarding. Most of the other prisoners managed to sit up before Tony did, boot camp training at work, and though the dirt and blood scattered over them makes it obvious they were in an extremely active war zone until recently, nobody’s grossly wounded with missing limbs or anything. 

They’re all wearing cuffs the same as Tony’s - the Asgardians came prepared, they must have a warehouse of these things - and they’re all disarmed, no Iron Man suits, no knives, no guns even though they’re almost totally useless. But apparently, nobody recognized the fucking-enormous-bomb potential of the arc reactor.

Not that Tony plans to use it as a bomb. He’s going to get his intel, pay whatever price it costs, and go back with a head full of secrets and a chest full of non-moving shrapnel. Easy. 

“Stark.”

Tony turns at the low voice and meets Agent Romanoff’s eyes. She’s sitting mostly upright, legs sprawled a little across the ground; her hair’s fallen into a relatively fetching mess of curls, and her eye makeup has successfully remained immaculate, because even streaks of black ink are terrified of what Natasha Romanoff will do to them if she ever looks less than stunning. That, or she’s got a tube of eyeliner in her pocket and touched herself up.

“Listen,” she says quietly, glancing around to check for anyone who can overhear, “I know you’re planning something stupid and heroic, but I need you to lay low, alright? Don’t try sneaking around anywhere. I’m here for a reason. I don’t want you to get in my way, and I don’t want you to get caught and make things more difficult for me. You tough it out and don’t try anything, clear?”

“Two pairs of eyes are better than one.”

“You’re just a civilian, Stark, you’re only going to cause trouble. Leave this to me.”

Like hell, Tony doesn’t need her permission and his plan isn’t that stupid-

There’s a loud ringing CLANG and Tony jerks around to see the Asgardian soldiers pounding their spears against their shields, and stepping aside to form a gap that one man strides through.

Long blond hair, red cape, warhammer and built like a tank - it doesn’t take a genius of Tony’s level to recognize the Asgardian commander, the one who leads every charge and fucking laughs as he slaughters people, swinging that hammer through the lines and setting off earthquakes with it, and maybe Tony is a little bit in over his head here, because whatever he thought the Asgardians do with their captives every week, for some reason he didn’t think this guy would be involved. 

His armor’s heavy on the blue-dyed leather and silvery metal, thick mail over his arms and an elaborate breastplate that looks mockingly ornate, gaps everywhere that invite a sniper’s shot to the heart, except for how many times they’ve tried that and haven’t even broken skin. He looks even taller from down here, like a giant statue posed above the humans slumped in the dirt, all power and menace and all he’s doing is standing there. 

He’s looking them over with something intense lurking in his eyes, something interested or intrigued or searching, fuck if Tony knows - all he knows is that he’s not cowering any more than absolutely necessary, and he holds his head up high and stares right back. He’s not giving in and this isn’t over, and it doesn’t matter if he’s wearing shackles and is dumped in the middle of the enemy camp, he’s still got a mission here and he’s not on vacation. 

The giant’s eyes flick across him and then return, still and searing, and Tony lifts his chin a little more and holds the gaze, because he is not - ever - bowing before this monster. Even if he isn’t going to stand up and make a big deal out of it.

Then the blue storm of his eyes is gone, but not far - landing right next to Tony. On Agent Romanoff.

He hears a little gasp and the sound of her boots scraping across the ground as she shifts, and then the Asgardian laughs and strides through the group, people scattering out of his way, except for Romanoff who’s all but paralyzed, her breathing fluttering in panic. But Tony knows something’s going on here, she said she came here with a plan, her own mission, and Romanoff’s the best at what she does, so everything’s okay, just peachy. But it sure doesn’t look like it when the Asgardian stops right in front of them and grabs Romanoff’s arm and hauls her upright. 

She gasps again and glances up at his face, lowers her eyes almost instantly and shivers in his grasp, pulling away just enough that it’s clear what she’s doing, but Tony’s seen her fight and she’s not even trying. She’s got a plan. It’s all deliberate. She’s not really terrified, not really staring hell in the face…

The Asgardian raises a massive hand and rakes through Romanoff’s hair, and she tilts her head to the side like she’s trying to avoid it but she just makes it easier for him. He grins, teeth huge and bright in his blond beard, and wraps an arm around Romanoff’s waist and hurls her up and over his shoulder. 

Oh god.

Tony’s heart is pounding and his mouth goes dry. The Asgardians don’t play by human rules, that’s been clear since they landed, and the patterns of injuries on the survivors are telling, but this - yeah, Tony knew what they did, knew what he was signing himself up for, but actually seeing Romanoff picked out by the Asgardian commander to be his fucking sex slave, seeing it is different - and he knows Romanoff’s had training and she’s here to spy, so this is exactly where she wants to be, but Tony’s still watching a woman being carried off to be brutally raped for an entire week-

The Asgardian stops and turns back, and meets Tony’s eyes again. The hand not holding Romanoff over his shoulder curls and uncurls by his side, and then he gives that terrible grin and Tony’s blood turns to ice.

Shit.

“This one,” the Asgardian says loudly, his voice deep and powerful, and his hand rises to point right at Tony. “With the insolent eyes. Give him to my brother.”

“Yes, my prince,” someone says, and then two Asgardians grab Tony by the arms and yank him up to his feet. He’s shoved along, stumbling, pushed too damn fast to get his balance and he’s so numb his boots are slipping on the ground, but they don’t let him go and they don’t stop, and he’s marched straight after the swaying red cloak of the Asgardian commander - prince - and he’s trying not to think about drowning in blood but the image won’t go away. 

Focus, he thinks desperately, focus and do your job, and he lets the guards steer him and just opens his eyes and looks around. Focus, this is a great time to focus, because they’re walking him straight through the camp and there isn’t even a bag over his head this time, and there’s got to be something useful he can see.

Tents, soldiers, Romanoff hanging down the commander’s back-

Focus!

Tony inhales and just makes himself look and fucking think.

The tents are large and elaborate, heavy canvas, looking like nothing you’d find in a camping store, in line with the medieval feel to their weapons and armor. Large fire pits are scattered between the tents, well-made with stones ringing the fires and logs lying on their sides acting as benches; most of the fires are low right now, but there are stacks of fresh wood next to every one. The Asgardians are settling in like they didn’t kill a thousand people today, taking off their armor and boots and carrying what can only be called flagons of ale, sitting around and poking up the fires or ducking into tents, and it’s bizarre because they just look like people. This could be a goddamn Ren Faire and nobody would be the wiser.

Except for the ones cleaning blood off their swords, polishing out dints in their armor, bandaging up the rare, very rare, scratch. 

Between two tents Tony sees a glimpse of a low wooden building, logs lashed together, that’s apparently a stable, a soldier leading in a damp and tired-looking horse. He can smell horses too, now he thinks about it, that digested-grass odor, and that’s alongside the smoke from the fires and the oily armor polish and leather of the two guys flanking him, and his own sweat after holding them off for an entire day. The camp’s loud, too, all shouting and clanking metal and the cracking of the burning wood, canvas flapping in the light breeze, even the heavy steps of his guards like an executioner’s drum.

But he’s not going to die, it’s not like that, they don’t do that.

Usually.

Tony sucks in another raw breath and when he looks back up, the commander’s gone like he was never there, no long blond hair and no billowing cloak, and no Agent Romanoff, either, and Tony hopes she’s as prepared for this as she thought she was.

Hopes he’s prepared for it, too. But he’s done sex before, done captivity before, so what’s the problem?

True, he hasn’t done both at the same time…

Tony’s jerked to a halt outside another tent, this one a bit larger than most of the others, a green pennant stuck in the ground by the entrance, and a guard standing on the other side. He nods at Tony’s escorts before one of them holds open the flap of the door and the other one shoves Tony inside.

It’s dark after the bright light from the energy shield, and Tony blinks and stares before he can make anything out. 

There’s a single tent pole in the middle, and smaller ones at each corner to define the shape of the room. A glass lamp hangs from each pole, casting steady, warm candlelight. There’s a wide, low bed - and not a mattress or a camp bed or anything, a serious full-on bed - against the far wall, piled with pillows and thick furs that would make a vegan have a seizure. Woven rugs in dark colors cover the ground, so there isn’t one bit of bare dirt visible. In one corner there’s a stand with a large basin and pitcher and a mirror, probably the equivalent of the bathroom. More central, a large table with scrolls and papers spread over it. A lounge with a footrest, a book lying closed on the seat and a chest beside it, which is where Tony, at least, would keep more books. 

This is the tent belonging to the commander-prince’s brother, so he’s probably a prince too. Tony’s looking at the height of Asgardian luxury while invading somebody else’s planet, and he has to admit that all things considered, it’s pretty luxurious. The furniture’s well-made and carved with intricate patterns that Tony can barely make out at this distance, and not even Fury has this much personal space in the field. 

“Come on,” a guard grunts, and Tony’s wrestled over to the center pole and shoved to his knees, and then there are two hands on his arm and the cuff is unlocked. He makes himself stay still and not try to seize the opportunity to run, because he doesn’t want to go anywhere and his survival instincts can shut the fuck up right now, and it’s not like he’d get away with the second guard still holding him back. Tony’s arms are dragged forward and the cuff’s locked back on, and the guards step away but that helps Tony exactly not at all, because now the cuffs are on the other side of the pole from his body and he’s stuck. 

Kneeling and chained to a tent pole.

He snarls and surges back to his feet as best he can with the pole right in his face, and the guards turn back from where they’re just about to duck out of the tent. One of them shakes his head and leaves anyway, and the other one raises an eyebrow. “Some advice, if you’ll take it: you want to be kneeling when he arrives.”

“Yeah, of course I’m going to take advice from somebody who knows so much about what I want.”

The guard shrugs. “I assumed you’d want to please him. Forgive me if you’d sooner die a dishonorable death. He is not kind.”

“Who’s he?” Tony shouts, but the guard doesn’t answer and slips out of the tent with a swirl of yellow cape. 

God-fucking-dammit, Tony’s chained to a tent pole in the middle of the Asgardian camp and he’s just got to wait for whoever’s tent this is to show up and claim him, and apparently he’s not kind. 

Great. 

Tony shudders and his knees lock in rebellion, because he isn’t giving up and he’s not going to surrender, but he really doesn’t need to make things any worse for himself. He slowly sinks back down to where the guards put him, hating the submissive message this is going to send, but he has a job to do and that doesn’t include being killed for standing up. 

Besides, it’ll all be worth it when he gets released and knows that much more about how to bring these guys down and save the world. 

He settles into a position where his heels aren’t digging too hard into his ass, and starts waiting.

~

Tony swallows again even though he’s so dehydrated it’s no help, and groans and arches to extend his spine, stretching out the awful ache from kneeling here in the cold for what feels like hours, though to be realistic it’s probably been less than one. But that’s still long enough for his thoughts to have run in circles, again and again, like somehow he’s going to forget anything he’s seen here, like maybe if he thinks really hard he’ll come up with some more data to analyze and go over something new. 

But dammit, he had maybe ten minutes out there and that wasn’t anywhere near enough, he’s pretty sure he didn’t see anything of value - but it’s not like he thought this was going to be easy. He knows the Asgardians fuck their captives, knows they beat them, too, he’s seen the injuries on the people they give back, so Tony knows the price he’s going to have to pay for the information he wants. And he’s willing to pay it, he just wants something fucking worthwhile in return-

There’s a slap of heavy fabric as someone pushes into the tent, and Tony straightens up and holds very, very still, facing away, back towards whoever’s just come in, stomach churning with icy anticipation. Here we go.

“What,” he hears, the voice cold and hard, “is this?”

Tony doesn’t answer, which is good because apparently the speaker wasn’t asking him. “One of the human soldiers,” says another voice, this one rougher, another damn guard, “for your pleasure, my prince.”

“I can see that,” the first man snaps, the prince, the brother of the Asgardian commander and the man who - probably the best word is owns - owns Tony for the next week. “Why is he here at all?”

“A gift from your brother, my prince.”

An irritated sigh. “Another one? Yes, obviously,” the prince adds sharply, cutting off the guard. There’s a soft sound that might be a foot tapping against the rugs on the ground. “Well, then. See that I am not disturbed.”

“Of course.” Metal clanks - armor shifting as the guard walks away - and then the heavy flap falls shut and seals Tony in with the Asgardian prince with the cold voice. 

Tony barely catches the sound of his boots as he walks forward all but silently, a whisper of fabric as he moves, and then Tony sees the edge of a thick black cloak hanging around the prince’s legs, knee-high boots and black leather pants, and a harsh hand grips him under the chin and forces him to look up.

Tony stares into a face which is all sharp angles and fine bone structure and pale skin, with searing green depths for eyes and narrow lips, ever so slightly twisted. The hand on Tony’s chin is thin and strong, long fingers curling tight around his jaw and holding him motionless, and the man’s so tall he’s had to bend down to reach Tony at all. It makes strands of his longish black hair, slicked back over his head, creep forward to frame his face. He’s wearing a green shirt under the long cloak, which is pulled around to hang over his front, with a gray fur wrapped around his shoulders and falling maybe to his elbows. He looks fierce and proud and every inch the prince Tony assumes he is, and he could break Tony’s neck right now without even trying.

The prince sighs, lets Tony’s face go and takes a step back, head tilted as he looks down at Tony.

“Damn Thor,” he mutters, which makes absolutely no sense, and Tony just swallows and bites his tongue - literally, ouch - to make sure he doesn’t complain about the reference going right over his head.

Not that that’s hard, considering their relative positions right now.

The prince drums his fingers on his thigh, and meets Tony’s eyes again. “Your name?”

Tony releases his tongue and tries not to glare outright. He’s a spy here, more or less, he’s playing nice and trying not to get himself killed or even simply left chained to this tent pole for the entire week. He needs to buy the freedom to move around somehow, even if he would rather have chewed his own neck off than give up this easy if he’d really been taken against his will. “Tony Stark.”

The prince tips his head and his eyebrow rises like he’s amused by something. “Is that all?”

Tony shrugs. Close enough.

“Come now,” the prince says, chidingly, and paces a step to Tony’s side, making his cloak swirl and the edge of it brush Tony’s knee. “I’m sure there’s more to you than that.”

Fine, whatever. “Anthony Edward Stark.” Fuck you very much.

“There,” the prince says, and keeps pacing, going around Tony in a circle from the sounds of his cloak against the rugs. “Was that so terrible?”

Tony doesn’t answer, keeping his eyes straight forward and not moving them even when the prince comes back around in front of him, black leather, black cloak. “And your task?”

“My what?”

It slips out before Tony can do anything and he braces for a blow, or something, doesn’t matter what but getting mouthy is really a bad idea right now - but the Asgardian just chuckles and walks away, slides the book off the lounge and onto the closed lid of the chest instead, then drops himself down elegantly, long legs folded over each other at the ankle, elbows braced on the armrests, fingers tented. “Your task. Your role as a soldier, the way you serve your people.”

It’s probably not information Tony should be volunteering, but on the other hand, what can this guy do with it? What difference does it make?

Well, Tony’s the designer of the Iron Man suits, but he doesn’t have to share that much. “Forward scout.”

The Asgardian’s eyes light up. “A spy!”

“No,” Tony corrects in a hurry, definitely not a spy, “I said a forward scout.”

“One who watches and traces the movements of the enemy army, reporting back the slivers of their gleaned information? A spy, Tony Stark, let us be honest with each other.”

“Sure, why not. Whatever you want. Not that you need my permission.”

The Asgardian grins, sharper than his brother. “Spirited, aren’t you?”

Dammit. Even with practice, Tony sucks at this. Shut your damn mouth! 

The prince leans forward and folds his fingers down so his hands are interlaced. “Since we’re being honest, I am Loki.”

Loki.

It tastes pointed and ominous in Tony’s mind, the soft sound at the start overruled by the sharp click of the k, like a dagger hidden under silk. It goes with his knife-like smile. 

“And?” Tony asks.

Loki’s eyebrow twitches amusement again. “And what?”

“And your task?”

Damn.

Loki’s eyes narrow gleefully, and apparently he likes Tony’s ‘spirit’, since he’s not breaking his neck for speaking up. Good thing, too, because Tony clearly can’t keep his mouth shut.

“Hmm.” Loki stands up again, cloak falling around his legs, the fur around his shoulders rippling with the motion, and paces slowly back and forth. “Ask my brother, and he will tell you that I serve a necessary if far from glorious function, though when I trouble myself to fight like a man I do it well enough. Ask the soldiers, and they will tell you that naturally a prince’s place is beside his brother, at his service in all things, and though they may pretend it unworthy of them, they appreciate my contributions. Ask me…”

He trails off, an inviting lift of his tone at the end, and Tony bites. “And you’ll tell me what?”

Loki turns his head and his eyes meet Tony’s, now smooth and calm like a still lake. “And I shall tell you nothing, for unlike my brother I am not in the habit of giving away secrets.”

Score one for Agent Romanoff, then, if the commander’s got loose lips, but more importantly… Tony scoffs. “Yeah, nice try. You did just give away that your job is a secret, you know.”

Loki stops dead, the lake frozen solid, and Tony swallows and tries to pull away from the pole, but it stays sturdy and the cuffs stay on and there’s no end to Loki’s stare…

“I did,” Loki breathes, and sweeps across the room to palm Tony’s cheek in one hand, his skin ridiculously warm. Loki slides his hand towards the back of Tony’s head until his thumb is tracing the shell of Tony’s ear and a finger has curled down into the soft spot behind Tony’s jaw.

“Spirited, and you’re a clever one, too,” Loki whispers, an almost manic grin slowly stretching his lips. “Perhaps there’s value in you after all. You caught that without even trying, well done.”

Tony doesn’t move. Loki could crush his head right now from this position, or rip it right off his neck… but Loki sounded pleased. Like he was praising Tony for being clever, for catching that - whatever he was talking about, it made no sense and it’s not like Tony can think clearly with Loki’s hand on him like this, fingertips swirling patterns over his skull, thumbnail scratching ever so delicately against his ear. 

“Perhaps I should accept you,” Loki murmurs thoughtfully, and pulls Tony forward to press his cheek against Loki’s leather-clad thigh, the cloak falling over his side. Tony shivers in the sudden warmth, the faint smell of Loki’s skin and sweat filling his nostrils. “You’re the first prize Thor has managed to offer that is to my tastes.”

It’s the way he says tastes that does it. Oh god, Loki likes him.

Which is good. For the plan. It’s just that Tony was kind of expecting to be held down and gang-banged by a couple dozen Asgardian soldiers, not personally appreciated by one smirking arrogant prince. It’s flattering, sort of. In a sick, abuse-of-prisoners-of-war kind of way. Because that’s what’s going on, no matter how nice Loki’s being about it, and Tony twists his wrists to make the heavy cuffs cut into his skin because hello, he’s still chained up here.

Loki sighs and steps away, hand gone, and Tony rocks back upright, sitting on his heels, knees parted and the pole between them so his arms aren’t stretched to breaking, and he stares after Loki as the cloak sways with his steps, the fur stirring in the disturbed air. “But perhaps not, after all,” Loki says almost to himself, but he’s given Tony plenty of slack so far and since he’s into Tony being clever and spirited, maybe he wants him to talk back.

“Why not?” From everything Tony’s seen, the Asgardians have no rules regarding the treatment of their prisoners and there is absolutely nothing stopping Loki from fucking Tony until he’s bleeding and begging for mercy, for death, for anything to make it stop. There’s nothing keeping Loki back - except, apparently, Loki himself.

And here Tony thought Loki liked him.

Loki turns back and smiles with absolutely no sincerity in it. He steps closer, and walks right past Tony’s side, trailing his fingers through Tony’s hair again. “You are an ill-presented gift, Tony Stark. Make no mistake, if Thor had come to me and offered you himself, implored me to accept you as a token of his heartfelt apologies and begged on bended knee that I let go of my anger against him, things would be very different. As it is,” Loki goes on, like a force of nature, like he doesn’t care and it doesn’t matter whether Tony understands or not, “I’m not going to do what he merely wants of me.” His fingers run back through Tony’s hair, and dammit, what is this fascination with his hair? “But I must admit, it does displease me to reject you.”

Displeases Tony, too, because rejection is exactly what he doesn’t want. He’s managed to land himself in an ideal situation here, because he’s bound to overhear Loki, a prince and the commander’s own brother, talking about something important; maybe he’s got maps or battleplans that Tony could get a look at. And it’s not like Tony will do any better if Loki turns him away - yeah, god only knows what’ll happen to him then.

And suddenly, everything’s easy. Because all Tony’s doing now is trying to charm his way into Loki’s bed, and he’s done this way too many times to hesitate.

Tony blinks, lowers his eyes just a touch demurely, and then glances up through his lashes. “Maybe I don’t want to be rejected,” he offers softly.

Loki stops cold and just looks down at him. Loki’s lips curl inwards slightly like he’s tasting something sour. “And I do not wish to yield to my brother’s desires. He wants me to lay with you, and I will not.”

Loki grins slowly, and cups Tony’s chin and lifts his head up sharply, almost pulling Tony out of his sitting position. “Resolve that, clever thing.”

Don’t dare Tony Stark, fella, ‘cause you will lose. “You don’t want to fuck me. Okay, we can work with that.” Tony shrugs and raises a pointed eyebrow. “So just don’t.”

Loki’s grin shifts to a frown. “That is all you have to offer me? You wish to simply stay here and give nothing in exchange? Why should I let you do that? I like you, Tony Stark, but don’t think that alone will persuade me to accept your company for this week.”

“Oh, I’m not finished. I’ll take a guess that you might like this - Thor’s annoying you, I’m not the first guy he’s thrown at you and you’re starting to get sick of it. So keep me around, let him think he’s finally done it right, and he’ll leave you alone.” Tony gives Loki his blinding sales smile. “And the best part is you don’t actually have to fuck me. Just tell him you did. I’ll play along. Hell, I’ll tell him you’re the biggest I’ve ever seen and I couldn’t walk for hours after, and you won’t have to lay a finger on me. Situation resolved?”

Loki’s eyes practically glow. “Very good. Yes, I think that is acceptable.”

Tony tosses his head jauntily. “I live to serve.”

“Well, then, we have a tale to tell.”

Great. That was easy. Much better than expected, and-

Tony’s face explodes with pain.

Loki slams him nose-first into the tent pole, and then Tony feels Loki let go of his head and reach for his cuffs instead. They click open, and Loki grabs Tony’s arm and his shirt - the world spins and Tony’s flying halfway across the tent. His back hits something hard - the leg of the bed, and he crawls forward and struggles upright. Loki’s hands catch at his shoulders and push him flat to the ground, and a heavy warm weight pins down Tony’s thighs - fuck, Loki’s sitting on him, straddling him, and Tony can feel the bulge of Loki’s crotch against his ass and he grits his teeth and forces himself not to fight, to just lie here and take it, but fuck, everything was going perfectly and why’s Loki turning on him now?

Sharp pain splits the skin down his spine and Tony bucks and gasps for air, and Loki fucking tuts at him and pins him down with a hand on his head, pressing it into the rugs, and his other hand must have a knife or something because he keeps cutting Tony’s shirt off, two streaks across his shoulders and down his arms, sharp and stinging, and he can feel the thin lines of heat where his blood spills over. 

Loki yanks Tony’s boots off and he just rips Tony’s pants to shreds, and then his weight’s gone and his hands haul Tony out of the remains of his clothes and drag him naked to a clear spot. Loki snaps the opened cuff back on his wrist and then Tony’s shoved to his knees and ends up with a face against Loki’s boot. He stays still and breathes, he knows what he’s here for and he’ll survive this and he’s had worse - the shrapnel in his chest burns in reminder, twitches against the magnetic field-

Loki’s hands brush almost tenderly over Tony’s shoulders to lift him up a little and then wrap something around his neck and pull it - snug, not tight, just resting against his skin without choking him, and there’s a little metal clicking sound from his nape and Loki’s fingers doing something - fuck, it’s a collar, a leather collar around Tony’s neck like he’s Loki’s pet, Loki’s slave. 

Loki’s hands slide over his shoulders and his fingers touch something at the front of the collar and pull Tony down - a leash, he’s on a fucking leash, and Loki ties the end around his cuffs so he’s completely bent over, on his knees, naked and bleeding and panting hard and he can’t do anything, has to give Loki what he wants. 

I can take it. Saving the planet here, I can take it.

But they had a deal! Let’s not, and say we did. And Loki liked it, so what the fuck is going on with this?

Loki straightens up again and Tony sees the black leather of his boots pace away. “Guard!”

There’s the sound of the tent flap opening and the clank of armor, and Tony’s skin crawls because someone else is looking at him, and sure he’s been caught in situations like this before but now it’s real, he’s an honest-to-god prisoner of war and it’s so fucking obvious what’s going on here, and dammit, he’s the world’s best engineer and he’s survived torture and captivity already, but none of that means anything with the guard’s gaze on his bare ass, cuffed hands pressed flat against the ground. 

“My prince?”

“I want wine and my riding crop, and then absolutely no disturbance until morning.”

Riding crop. Tony tries to shift without actually moving anywhere. Of fucking course the Asgardians have riding crops. BDSM, too. But it could be worse, it could be a lot worse, Loki could be into fire play or mutilation or something, but all Tony has to do is get smacked around a little, he can do that, and if Loki was making up the entire thing about not doing what Thor wants, then he can bear getting fucked, too.

Loki’s back, and he pauses by Tony’s side; one booted toe brushes the bare skin of Tony’s thigh and he shivers. 

“I do apologize,” Loki says like he hasn’t just ordered equipment to be brought to him so he can beat Tony, “but soldiers gossip, and Thor will listen if they say they heard nothing from us. They expect screaming.”

“Maybe I’m just not a screamer,” Tony pants, and Loki only laughs. 

“Oh, everybody screams in my bed.”

He paces away again - seriously, the guy does not know how to stand still - his movements smooth and fluid. “You agreed to enough of a show to fool anyone who cares to take notice, Tony Stark, and therefore you will scream.”

Yeah, technically, he did agree, and if Tony wants to stick with Loki they’ll have to be convincing, but Tony was really thinking that the whole let’s not fuck part would carry more weight. But that doesn’t matter, he’ll let this go all the way if Loki wants, because Tony’s here for exactly one reason and that’s to work out how to get these bastards to leave Earth the fuck alone. 

Even though it’s already too late for that.

The guard clanks back in and there’s the sound of something heavy being placed on the table - god, Tony hopes that’s the wine, they’d better not have ten pound riding crops - and then he’s gone again without a word, and it’s just Loki and Tony until morning.

Naked on his knees, it doesn’t feel like Loki’s decided not to fuck him. 

Something touches his lower back and he jerks, and Loki’s toe prods him in the ribs. “Hold still.”

The folded leather tab of the riding crop slides over the knobs of Tony’s spine, running down the burning cut from Loki’s knife, and Tony just waits there, every joint locked, welded to the next, as Loki traces what feels like an infinity sign through the small of Tony’s back. 

“You’re quite beautiful, you know,” Loki says, almost sighs, “and I’m nearly sorry to do this to you.”

The crop disappears and Tony’s body tenses, he can’t help it, he knows it’ll hurt less if he relaxes but he can feel the pain already and he can’t not-

THWACK!

Tony shouts at the sharp burst across his shoulderblade, stinging agony sinking bone-deep, and he gasps for air and digs his nails into his palms to feel anything apart from the throbbing star of pain-

THWACK!

Diagonally opposite and even harder, outshining the first with ease, and Tony’s throat is raw and his eyes are burning, and Loki doesn’t stop, the crop falls again and again and Tony jerks under the blows, bright and hot and sharp, but he doesn’t beg and doesn’t try to get away, he just stays there and takes it, lets it happen even if he can’t think of why-

The crop hisses and-

THWACK!

Tony’s whole back is on fire, a dozen coals buried under his burning skin, and then the end of the crop traces between them, a curved river down his body, and through the pain he hears Loki’s chuckle and the sound of the crop hitting the ground beside him. 

“There now, I think that would be enough to break your resistance, don’t you?” Loki says, and then he’s kneeling close to Tony and his hands are unlocking the shackles around Tony’s wrists and tossing them aside. He pushes Tony’s knees back and lets him unfold himself flat, lying chest-down against the rugs, and Loki stays there, fingers gently massaging the puffy skin on Tony’s wrists where the cuffs were. Tony can hardly breathe, the pain crushing his lungs to powder, and he doesn’t know what’s going on, but he’s pretty sure that aftercare wasn’t part of the deal.

Not that he remembers the part where whip me bloody got in there, either.

Tony turns his head and forces his eyes open to look at Loki, who’s wearing a calm and clinical expression like nothing’s going on. “What’s…” God, he sounds wrecked. Tony swallows and wrestles the words out. “Just tell me - what the hell you’re doing.”

“As I said. We have a story to tell, you and I, and an entire camp watching us. Do you really think yourself the kind of soldier who would submit to my advances merely for my asking? No, you would have fought me, Tony Stark; so here you lie, bruised and exhausted and marked. Defiant, but brought down into obedience. Now you need not be turned out to roam the entire camp looking for a welcome place to lay your head, and I will be spared Thor’s pathetic attempts to give me another prize more to my liking. Though why he cannot simply apologize for his ridiculous behavior…” 

So it is part of the deal, but Loki… Loki’s either taking things way too seriously or treating it like a game, beating Tony up just so it looks like he’s beat him up. And then there’s some fight going on between Loki and his brother - Thor, Prince Thor, the commander - that Tony’s caught in the middle of. Tony should remember that, maybe SHIELD can play them against each other…

“Ah, well. Deep breath,” Loki says, and then he’s rolling Tony to his back-

Tony flinches, pain punching deep, woven rugs like sandpaper against his skin, and Loki shushes him and rubs at his shoulder.

“Deep breath,” he chides.

Right. Because Loki doesn’t actually mean this.

“Oh,” Loki says softly, and his finger traces the reactor slowly. Tony’s blood goes cold. “What is this?”

Tony swallows. “Private.”

Loki doesn’t look put off in the least. No, he’s staring like he’s never seen anything like it - not that Tony imagines he has, but it’s unnerving to be the focus of that much intensity. Loki’s lips part ever so slightly, and his fingers slide across the glass, making shadows dance through the light on his face. “It’s powerful.”

Tony hisses, “It’s private,” and sits up to push Loki away-

Pain flares through his torso, welts from the riding crop searing, and Loki pushes him back down. Tony falls limply and gasps in relief when the angry heat fades. 

“Alright, not now,” Loki says, and rubs at Tony’s shoulders again. “Not while I’m marking you. Poor timing, I understand; I can wait. But you’re doing well, just a little longer…”

Tony’s eyes roll back. Fuck, Loki wants more?

Loki brushes Tony’s hair away from his face almost tenderly. “This is the part where you scream, sweet thing. I will think no less of you.”

“Screaming at wha-aaaaah-

Loki bites at Tony’s chest, teeth slicing skin and deeper, and raw pain lances through Tony’s body and sends his head spinning. Loki pulls back and leaves a circle of stabbing agony, Tony’s blood pounding, and Tony fights to lift his head and sees the ring of teethmarks in his pec, blood trickling over his skin, and smeared dark on Loki’s lips, and everything whirls and Tony drops back, dizzy and sick and he’s just seen his blood on this guy’s mouth - “What - the fuck - was that?

“Enjoying myself.”

Another bite, hard and deep in Tony’s shoulder, and then heat streaks down his ribs as Loki rakes him with his nails. Tony chokes for air and finally shoves at Loki’s chest to push him back, and Loki just grabs his hands and holds them flat against the ground.

Gently, lightly, just enough that Tony can’t move, but no pain, no force. 

“There, shh. That’s over. Look at me.”

Tony drags his eyes to meet Loki’s, calm and green and nothing like the crazed lust he should be filled with right now, and Tony coughs or whimpers or something because this doesn’t make sense and he just wants to know what’s going on.

“It’s alright. Just for show, I promise. No more of that.”

Loki lets him go, and rubs his warm hands over Tony’s stomach, firm and grounding, a steady beacon through the haze of pain, the bites and the welts from the crop and whatever Loki did with his nails. It all fades under Loki’s touch, steady and rhythmic, soothing away the hurt just by being there. 

Just a game. Loki’s story. Just about making Tony look like he’s been brutally abused - the riding crop to beat him into submission, and then Loki getting carried away, no restraint, no rules to obey… 

And because it’s just a game, trying to let it hurt as little as possible.

Except Loki goes lower, and then he’s touching Tony’s cock - “Wait-”

“Struggle and it will only hurt you.”

Loki’s wrapping something around Tony’s cock, but it’s the brush of his fingers over Tony’s skin that’s sending hot sparks along Tony’s nerves and Tony doesn’t even know if it’s pleasure or pain, because Loki’s touching him there-

Tony grinds his head back into the hard cold ground and feels his skin crawling, but he can’t tell if it’s towards or away from Loki’s touch, and everything’s so fucked up and he knows he’s in pain and his nerves are screaming but somehow it’s only making the pleasure feel - more, and something feels good, the soft caress of whatever Loki’s putting on him or the careful working of Loki’s fingers, and Tony’s pulse is pounding but thank every god in the universe that he’s not getting hard because then he would just die of shame and be grateful for it. 

“Soldiers gossip, remember,” Loki murmurs, low and sinful, in Tony’s ear, “and you may be sure I would have punished you for your impertinence.”

“Thought you liked me spirited,” and Tony doesn’t even sound like he’s at the end of his rope. “Make up your mind.”

Loki’s smirk floats above him in the fog. “Oh, I have.” The smirk vanishes, and Loki’s breath curls in Tony’s ear. “And I do.”

Then Loki’s gone, leaving Tony lying there panting for air, and he pushes himself up on his elbows to see what the hell Loki’s done to him. 

There’s a thin strip of soft leather laced around his cock in a criss-cross pattern, a spiral straight up and then an almost-too-tight loop just below the head, then spiraling back down, perfectly symmetrical to the layer below, the two ends of the leather tied definitely tightly around the base of Tony’s cock in a way that suggests the Asgardians have discovered cock cages and what they’re for.

It looks like exactly no fun. But it’s not like Tony plans to let orgasm denial get in the way of what he’s trying to do here. For god’s sake, it’s not like he planned to get involved in orgasms at all. His own, that is. He expected theirs, that’s part of the plan.

Spying, right. Got to notice everything, bring it back, find a way to smash these guys. 

Well, Loki’s… complicated…

“That’s it. No more,” Loki says, those hands now resting on Tony’s thighs. “Catch your breath. Here.”

Loki lifts a hand and holds something out to him, and Tony forces himself to focus. It’s water, a brimming cup Loki’s picked up from somewhere, and Tony swallows at the sight and his throat does the sandpaper thing again.

He struggles upright and reaches for it shakily. Loki makes a small noise of concern and props Tony up with one hand, steers the cup to his lips with the other, and Tony glares because he doesn’t need to be fed like a child…

Cool water pours down his parched throat, glorious soothing relief, and Tony gulps faster, clutching at Loki’s wrist to hold the cup exactly where it is. He drains it and gasps for air, since breathing didn’t matter while there was water, and Loki moves the cup away for a moment before it’s full again and he gives it back. Tony drains this one without stopping too, savoring each time he swallows without the awful dry pain, breathes again when he’s done and lets Loki lie him back down flat against the rugs. His head is finally clearing enough to think.

And enough to notice how much pain he’s actually in. It’s spread out into a hot layer under his skin, wrapping his entire torso, pulse not exactly hammering through his flesh but definitely more present than it should be. His hand comes up to touch one of the bite marks, the swelling and the bloody gashes from Loki’s teeth, and Loki makes one of those calming shh noises and pulls Tony’s hand back down. “Don’t pick. It’s nothing crippling. It will heal.”

“You care?”

Loki doesn’t answer him. But his thumb strokes slowly across Tony’s palm. It’s almost nice, that Tony doesn’t have to do this alone. That Loki has at least bothered to notice that this isn’t easy. 

Loki swallows, and then stands up in a rush and drops Tony’s hand to the floor. “Undress me.”

Tony blinks his vision clear and stares up at Loki, half turned away like he doesn’t care where in the room Tony is. “Huh?”

Loki throws a single derisive glance over his shoulder before he resumes staring at whatever he’s staring at. “Just because I will not accede to my brother’s wishes that I fuck you does not mean you are not my prisoner, Tony Stark, and I have given you a command.”

Undress me. Right.

Tony rolls onto his front; his back throbs with pain but it’s manageable, and he slowly staggers to his feet. Loki’s waiting, but he’s not tapping his feet or clicking his fingers or anything that suggests his patience is limited, and he beat Tony up in the first place so any delay is his fault. 

On the other hand, slave masters don’t exactly have to bow to logic, do they. It’s not Loki who’s going to suffer if he decides Tony’s taking too long.

Tony swallows and steps forward, leather-bound cock bumping against his thighs - it kind of itches, but he can deal with it - and the leash of the collar hanging down his chest, rubbing against the arc reactor, as if he needed any more humiliation today. 

Loki’s taken off the cloak at some point, and he’s left in a dark green shirt and black leather pants, and the nice boots Tony noticed earlier. It’s all very elegant and composed, and now that’s Loki’s given up on the concern angle, Tony can definitely see the princely side to him. All haughty and arrogant, expression coldly distant, a man with absolutely no problem kicking his prisoner down where he apparently belongs.

But Tony can’t deny that Loki looks good this way. Like a marble statue. There’s something simply beautiful about him no matter what’s going on here.

And it doesn’t matter what’s going on here. Loki’s clearly calling all the shots, and Tony’s only job is to follow Loki’s lead, and sneak around behind his back. His pretty face doesn’t come into that equation.

And Tony’s stalling.

He walks around Loki and steps in close, close enough to see the curl in his lashes and hear the soft parting of his lips as Tony reaches out for him. 

Tony’s fingers are shaking. But only slightly. 

Loki’s loose green shirt is laced shut from his throat down his sternum, and Tony slowly works the ties open. Loki lifts his arms slightly but that’s all, like he’s really going to make Tony do all the work here, and Tony grits his teeth and wraps his fingers around the hem and pulls it up. 

Loki’s chest is pale and toned, wiry muscles cut and firm, coiled strength written under every inch of flawless white skin, and Tony’s swallow is from an entirely different kind of nerves. Yes, Tony’s a prisoner here, and yes, if Loki does fuck him Tony will still be far from enthusiastic, but it might not… might not be the end of the world. Could be worse. 

However many Asgardians in this camp, and only twenty human prisoners to go around… Tony shudders, hopefully hidden from Loki’s sight as he pulls the shirt off over his head. Could be a lot worse. 

He gets a second to himself when he turns away and drops the shirt over the lounge, sucks in air and schools his face into something calm, completely indifferent, before he turns back. 

Loki’s boots are next, and that means kneeling. Tony just does it, like it means nothing to him, the rugs against his bare shins and the way his neck naturally bends as he studies the unfamiliar buckles down the side of Loki’s leg. Loki chuckles and his fingers comb through Tony’s hair. 

“You look good down there,” he says, and Tony’s skin does something funny at the sound of Loki’s voice, something between a shiver and a flare of heat.

“Sure, why not,” Tony throws back, starting to work at the buckle that is nothing like anything he’s ever seen. “Kneeling wasn’t included in the deal, but hey, I’ll throw it in for nothing.”

“Ha.” Loki’s fingers scratch softly at the back of Tony’s head, and it feels really nice except for the fact that it’s how you’d pet a cat, and Tony resists the urge to purr sarcastically. “I know you don’t mean it. You merely surrender to my small requests so I’ll remain appeased when you do defy me. A word of warning, it won’t work. I will not treat treachery lightly.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you’d like that,” Tony mutters, finally getting the first buckle undone - it’s a pull to the left and then the right, these things are complicated - and moving down Loki’s slender, firm calf to the next one. “Not like you enjoyed smacking me around for no reason.”

“Oh, I never said that.”

Tony’s not going to think about that, not going to go anywhere near whatever arrangement of priorities Loki has that means he isn’t going through with throwing Tony across his bed right here. He just stares at the gold buckles and the black leather straps holding Loki’s boots to his legs, and keeps at his task. It’s simple now he’s got the trick of it, the repetitive pull-bend-pull patterns, and the buckles come loose one by one. Then Loki’s lifting his leg and Tony holds the boot to the ground for him to step out of it. 

Loki’s bare toes curl in the air as he lowers his foot again, and Tony glances away and crawls around to his other side. This one goes faster, Tony’s fingers almost flying; he’s wired circuits requiring magnification to even be seen, while drunk, so it’s not like this is posing anything of a challenge. 

He’s a naked collared sex slave to an Asgardian prince who’s more than a little really fucking weird, but he’s okay.

Tony gets the second boot off and stands it upright beside the first, and that only leaves Loki’s pants.

Tony’s been in a room with naked men before, okay, tons of times, but there’s something about this that makes it different.

Yeah, like the fact that he intends to let Loki fuck him if it comes to that, there’s a difference right there.

Kind of. It’s not like he’s never been fucked before, either. And a couple times it wasn’t brilliant and he only let them keep going because kicking them off sounded like too much work. But he was never actually unwilling - the Ten Rings didn’t even hint at it - and it’s only this time that Tony doesn’t have a choice.

Sure I do. Just I’ve already made it.

This was his plan and he’s fighting for an entire world - for Pepper - and if that means taking Loki’s pants off then Tony’s damn well going to do it. 

There’s a belt with a gold buckle, a little larger than the ones on his boots but it opens to the same sequence of pulls and folds, and a set of laces like that on Loki’s shirt, and then everything’s loose and Tony just slides his thumbs down the inside of the waistband and pulls. The black leather flows smoothly over Loki’s skin, revealing the arches of his hips, and then Loki’s cock is hanging in front of Tony’s face. 

Okay, not going there.

Tony looks down at what he’s doing instead, because staring close-up at alien genitals was not in the deal. He’s still pretty sure Loki’s going to fuck him sooner or later - come on, he’s Tony Stark, there are very few people who don’t want to do that - but that doesn’t mean he has to get a good, detailed eyeful first. 

Loki steps out of the leather pooled around his ankles, legs long and elegant, muscles trim, and Tony stands up and turns around very quickly. He takes the two strides to the lounge to lay the pants out straight; there’s probably something special he’s meant to do - normal leather at least has to be treated right - but Loki doesn’t say anything and Tony doesn’t do anything either. 

He sucks in a breath. That wasn’t so bad. “Now what?”

Loki reaches around him to grip the leash and give a gentle tug. He leads - yes, leads - Tony over to the bed, and pushes him down to the mattress, and hang on, are they going to - but Loki said that wasn’t the plan here- 

Loki makes that tutting noise and guides Tony - gently, hands going no lower than the reactor - to lie across the foot of the bed, and then he crouches down and ties the end of the leash to the bedframe somewhere, leaving enough slack that Tony shouldn’t be able to strangle himself. 

Loki strokes Tony’s hair again. “There. A proper well-used prize.”

He stands up smoothly and slides into the bed himself. His movements are relaxed and languid - no body modesty here - as he throws the thick furs over his long legs and his chest, and settles down in the pillows. This bed’s so big Loki’s feet aren’t touching Tony at all; Tony’s aren’t hanging over the edge, either, which he’ll very much appreciate come morning. He glances around and steals a fur that isn’t covering Loki and tucks that over himself, and digs into the mattress with his shoulderblades. It’s actually fairly comfortable, tolerable as far as this sort of thing can be, and despite the injuries and the leash, Tony might even get some sleep tonight.

Everything’s going according to plan. He’s totally fine. 

“If you snore, I shall gag you.”

Totally fine.

Chapter Text

Tony’s cold and stiff and everything hurts, his neck is chafed raw and his cock’s tied up, and the arm he’s using as a pillow is completely dead in a way that promises agony when the blood gets back into it - and it’s only Friday morning. His first day.

Though it’s pretty obvious he’s already in the thick of it.

Okay, exactly what the hell happened last night?

Loki. Simply put, Loki happened, and that’s all that Tony can be sure of. Loki’s cunning and arrogant, swimming in confidence and definitely enjoys kicking Tony around, for all he’s not really doing that much of it, and his priorities are stacked layers deep and would probably form a four-dimensional fractal or something if Tony tried to lay them out graphically. 

Which is great for Loki. But all that information is pretty much useless to Tony’s plan, because he still doesn’t know anything about Asgardians in general. Are they all sadistic chess masters, or is Loki special on account of being a prince and not giving a fuck about anything? One example isn’t enough for Tony to make any meaningful conclusions. He needs more, so much more than what he’s got so far, nothing that’s happened changes that.

But it’s only Friday morning, and he’s got until Wednesday. Then the Asgardians will throw him back, him and everybody else they took this week, and Tony will pour himself some therapy in a shot glass and drink his way through whatever scars Loki leaves him with, then form a plan of attack with the stacks of useful information he’s going to learn here and he’ll kick these alien bastards off his planet. 

Easy.

Tony rolls to his back, shuffling awkwardly to avoid strangling himself with the short leash that’s still tied to Loki’s bedframe, and hisses at the pain of his weight on his bruises, the stinging flare of pins and needles in his arm, the itch of the leather wrapped around his cock. Then the stiffness of every single joint hits him like a slowed-down tsunami, and the throb of whatever damage Loki did to his nose when he slammed it against the tent pole last night. But only for show, right, because Loki only wants his brother to think he’s having fun with Tony, and isn’t actually going to use-slash-abuse him to the full extent of whatever the hell he feels like. 

Priorities. 

But that should mean that as long as Tony’s careful, keeps on Loki’s relatively good side and doesn’t give him any reason to change his mind, things should be okay. The plan’s still the same, no matter how weird Loki is, and Tony’s just got to work him into a position where he lets Tony see around the Asgardians’ camp. It’s probably going to involve being paraded on this damn leash that Loki’s so fond of, showing off the bruises left by Loki’s riding crop, and doing everything they can to convince Thor they’re sleeping together bar actually fucking in front of him, but as long as Tony learns something useful it’s all going to be worth it.

Liquid splashes, and Tony sits up to see Loki standing by the table, pouring wine into a gold cup, wearing what looks like the same black leather pants as last night, but this time with a complicated green and black and gold jacket, falling to mid-thigh, high collar framing his throat, his hair combed sleekly over the back of his head. 

Loki must hear Tony move, because he turns around with a grin, lifts the cup delicately in his fingertips and walks towards him. The open panels of the jacket reveal an unlaced shirt, showing off his bare chest, all pale gleaming skin stretched over some very nicely built musculature. Not that Tony’s looking. 

“Sleep well?”

Tony raises a pointed eyebrow and glances down at his exposed body, since his fur blanket somehow disappeared during the night, and flicks at the leash with a finger. “How about no.”

Loki’s smirk just stretches, and he holds the cup out to Tony. “Well enough. The camp’s already preparing to move. I’ve had three different soldiers in here since dawn, and you haven’t stirred until now.”

Tony swallows, throat dry, but he cringes at the idea of taking the cup from Loki’s hand - it happens anyway because god dammit he needs a drink. Soldiers gossip, Loki said, so he left Tony on display for the soldiers to gossip about, and they’ve stared at him and seen the reactor and he didn’t even notice-

He gulps the wine, doesn’t even taste it, just needs something to do with his hands and something to focus on that isn’t what he’s actually thinking about, because he’s here to learn the Asgardians’ weaknesses but he didn’t think he’d be revealing his own-

Loki tuts and swipes the cup from Tony’s hand, then leans down and runs his thumb firmly over the corner of Tony’s mouth and down to his chin. “You’ll drown yourself if you’re not careful.”

Loki pulls back and lets Tony see the spilled trail of wine wiped up, and then his thumb pushes forward and into Tony’s mouth, and Tony splutters and pulls back but Loki’s thumb is gone already, just like that. Less than a second. Tony can taste the drops of wine left behind and the barest flicker of something that must be Loki’s skin, and Loki’s just walking away like nothing happened here at all, like Tony’s teeth aren’t still buzzing where Loki’s thumb touched them and the salt of his skin isn’t lingering on Tony’s tongue. 

Tony shakes his head. What the fuck does Loki want from him?

“Lie down.”

Loki’s back, holding a small, opaque glass jar of something, and Tony doesn’t say either why or what is that, just plays it safe for once and lies across the bed like Loki ordered. Loki sits at his side, legs draped off the edge of the bed, and dips a finger into the jar and comes out with a glob of a pale green cream and reaches out for Tony’s face - and Tony grabs Loki’s wrist with both hands. No way is he letting weird alien goo get all over him.

“What are you doing?” Tony snaps.

Loki barely even reacts, just sits there calmly. “You hide it well, but you are in pain. This will ease you.”

“Ease you, maybe, but you’ve got no idea what that crap’s going to do to me! How do you know I’m not allergic and - get off me-

Loki’s smearing the cream all over his nose and it hurts like getting smacked again and Tony gasps for air and curls up, tries to shove Loki away and cradles the awful blinding pain that’s… fading, washing into numbness, like it never hurt at all, and Tony gives his nose a careful poke and doesn’t feel anything.

Huh.

“I did tell you,” Loki says, amused, and pulls at Tony’s shoulder to roll him over onto his stomach. “I know you have no reason to trust me, but do it anyway. It’ll save me so much effort.”

Bullshit, because nothing Tony’s capable of would slow Loki down for so much as a minute. What is this guy’s game…

Oh god, so long as it involves more of this, Tony’s okay with it. 

Loki’s hands are rubbing cool sweeps of cream into Tony’s back, dark flares of pain where he touches the bruised welts from the crop but then there’s nothing, just the warmth from Loki’s hands, soft and smooth - not in a way that says he never uses them, in a way that says he takes care of himself.

Loki moves lower, his touch light and confident, never pressing too hard before the numbing agent in the cream gets a chance to kick in, and Tony might actually be groaning with pleasure and melting into the furs. Loki chuckles and sets his hands on Tony’s shoulders again, and starts unknotting the tension and aches in Tony’s back, working his way down firmly. Thumbs dig hard into his spine; the heels of Loki’s palms knead his muscles into loose bliss, bit by bit, deliciously thorough.

“I have plans for you, Tony Stark, and none of them involve you being too sore to walk.”

“’m I walking somewhere?”

“Perhaps.”

Okay. Okay, good, good for the plan that Tony totally hasn’t forgotten about during his drugged-up massage. He can’t really expect Loki to let him out today, anyway, all things considered. He’s telling Tony to trust him, but he needs to trust Tony too, at least that he won’t make a break for it or raid the armory or anything.

Though if Tony can get away with it, he’s got to give that a try, because the only things that really hurt the Asgardians are their own weapons, and since they rarely ever die in combat or even get disarmed, those are in short supply. 

Loki rolls Tony over again, covers his fingers in more cream and works it into the bitemarks, slow and gentle, small circles, careful not to catch on the scabs - even though he put them there in the first place, the bastard… but it’s hard to get mad about that when he could have done so much worse, and Tony did kind of suggest the whole thing, even if it’s Loki taking it to Oscar-winning levels of performance.

And Loki’s touch feels really good right now.

Loki wipes his fingers clean against Tony’s ribs, and then reaches up to the collar around Tony’s neck to detach the leash. “Stand up.”

Tony does, legs shaking with the cold, and Loki takes hold of his shoulders to steady him. Tony glances up and meets Loki’s eyes; they’re a little more hesitant than last night, flicking between both of Tony’s and then dropping away briefly before snapping back up, and again, like Loki’s trying to make up his mind about something.

“You truly are lovely,” Loki murmurs eventually, thumbs stroking slowly along Tony’s collarbones. “And I have been…”

What?

Tony waits, but Loki just stands there with his eyes on Tony’s chest, tongue flickering across his lips, palms warm on Tony’s shoulders. 

“You finishing that sentence sometime today?”

Loki pulls his hands away and steps back, lifting his chin sharply, all hesitance gone. “There are clothes for you on the bed and breakfast on the table. Do not disturb me.”

He walks over to the table - which does indeed have some covered plates that suggest breakfast - sits down in a chair at the end opposite the food, and leafs through the pile of papers scattered across it. He pulls a rolled-up scroll towards himself, opens it, and starts reading. 

Whatever it is, it’s none of Tony’s business. Maybe he can sneak a glance over Loki’s shoulder while he’s eating. 

Clothes first. Laid out across the bed are a pair of Asgardian pants, leather by the look of them, extremely black, with a gold stripe of intricate embroidery curling around one lower leg like a ribbon’s chosen that place to rest for the night. There’s a shirt, in dark green like Loki refuses to acknowledge the existence of any other color scheme, and a sleeveless leather coat thing in an attractive shade of gray that perfectly compliments the green of the shirt.

Tony shoves both legs into the pants and pulls them up, yanks the lacing tight. The leather acts a little more like really nice denim, conforming to his body, which means the pants are actually pretty comfortable; not exactly soft, but definitely not chafing anywhere and far from stiff. And they fit him perfectly. 

Did somebody measure him while he was sleeping?

Don’t answer that. 

“Mmm,” Loki hums, standing right behind Tony, and turns him around with both hands and just looks at him. Light green eyes scan all the way down Tony’s chest, lingering on the arc reactor - but Loki’s hands don’t move towards it and Tony keeps breathing - and then further down, checking out the tight fit of the pants low on Tony’s hips, tracing over the crests of his hipbones above the leather.

“Oh, it’s going to be so hard to keep my hands off you,” Loki murmurs, doing exactly the opposite and sliding a single finger down Tony’s chest, looping around the reactor and following the contours of his pecs, flicking once across his nipple before going lower, almost tickling over his ribs. Loki’s not smirking, for once; he’s intrigued, eyes on Tony looking dark and intent, almost sensual, and Tony… actually doesn’t mind. Seducing Loki isn’t in the gameplan right now, but given the way Loki’s behaving, it’ll be a sure-fire thing if Tony does give it a shot. 

And yeah, Tony lives off attention. Nice to know he hasn’t lost his touch.

“But then, Thor will be watching us today.” Loki flattens the palm of his hand against Tony’s stomach, thumb teasing at his navel. “And if he doesn’t believe me pleased with his offering, he shall be insufferable.”

“So I get to suffer instead, is that it?”

Loki’s eyes snap up to meet Tony’s. “I don’t plan on your suffering, no.”

He picks up the green shirt and holds it out to Tony. “As I said, it’s only to fool Thor. It won’t take much.”

But it’s not like Tony has a choice, is it? Not like he can say no to whatever Loki decides is necessary to keep up the deception, or there goes any chance of staying in Loki’s good graces and completing the mission. Even though Loki didn’t fuck him, they’re acting like he did, so depending on how cuddly Loki is, Tony can say goodbye to personal space for the next week. Great.

He snatches the shirt from Loki’s hands and drags it over his head. It’s surprisingly warm and comfortable, enough that he probably doesn’t have to worry about winter in Russia. Not that he cares that Loki’s looking after of that sort of thing. Tony isn’t going to be bribed into liking this guy, not going to fall into Stockholm syndrome or anything. It’s about getting information and getting out. Not freezing to death is just a nice bonus.

Loki quirks a small smile and heads back to the table. “Eat. And then I must see my brother.”

And Day One of being an undercover sex slave can really get underway.

This is going to be a long fucking week.

~

Tony has no idea why Loki is bringing him along for whatever he’s seeing Thor about, but it means a free tour of the camp. Like Loki mentioned, the Asgardians are packing up, taking down tents and putting out the fires and stacking up piles of supplies ready to move. It’s all pretty busy, something going on wherever he looks, but Tony has no idea how this is going to help. The energy shield’s still up and won’t come down while they’re moving, so it’s not like SHIELD can plan to sabotage the exact way they fold up their tents. 

But Tony keeps looking anyway, watching them work with smooth, practiced coordination, with absolutely no trouble caused by still being in their armor. These guys are professionals, or at least very dedicated hobbyists. 

And they’re looking back. Eyes follow him and Loki through the camp, lingering on the visible bitemark on Tony’s shoulder and his swollen, bruised nose and the collar around his neck. Tony should probably be limping or something - nobody comes out of this place unscathed, and it’s not surprising given the Asgardians’ strength in combat - but his hypothetical injuries can be hypothetically soothed by that cream Loki slathered him with, and that’s not even a complete lie. 

Loki stops in front of a large tent, still set up, with a red pennant stuck in the ground by the door, matching Loki’s own. “Tell Thor I’m here.”

The guard standing by the pennant nods and ducks into the tent, and a moment later the door flap flies open again.

“Loki!”

The giant blond commander strides out, grins and bearhugs Loki in greeting like he’s just a normal guy under the armor and the massive red cape. There’s no blood on his hands, his hair’s neatly combed and his beard looks freshly trimmed, and this could all just be an elaborate dress-up or a movie set or something.

The blond - Thor - steps back from Loki and glances over at Tony. “I see you at last accepted my gift.”

And there’s reality again. People as property. Slavery, rape, war.

Thor eyes Tony’s nose. “Defiant, was he?”

Loki’s lips curl up at the corners. “For a time. We reached an arrangement. Congratulations, brother. I shall never forgive you for anything, if this is what I’m given every time you seek to buy my temperance.”

“Nonsense!” Thor smacks Loki on the shoulder. “If you never forgive me, I shall cease trying to please you. I confess, I had almost given up hope of success this time. Be satisfied.”

Loki shrugs. “Naturally, I would prefer you did not wrong me to begin with-”

Thor shakes his head and groans loudly, jolly smile vanished. “Loki, enough. You forgive me. Let it end.” He plants a hand in Loki’s chest and kind of shoves him back. 

Loki stumbles, actually tripping a little on the ground, before catching his balance in a hurry.

Tony hasn’t seen him that clumsy. Everything about Loki is all fluid elegance; until, apparently, his brother starts playing rough. Older brother, has to be. Thor’s the important one here. Nice score, Romanoff.

Loki clears his throat, and reaches into an inside pocket of his jacket. “I have the letter.” He pulls out the scroll he read while Tony ate breakfast, and offers it to Thor.

Thor doesn’t take it. “I’m sure what you’ve written is fine.”

“Thor-”

“This is war!” Thor’s eyes practically glow at that last word. “My war. I have better things to be doing than sending letters to Mother.”

Wow. Invading somebody else’s planet, and they still have to write home. 

Check it out. They’re actually capable of acting like people.

There’s nothing but slaughter and blood and chaos when they’re fighting, when they charge again and again and make it clear they love it. If SHIELD get there in time to stop the Asgardians marching into whatever city they find and raiding it like they’re Vikings. Sunrise to sunset, every Thursday, fight or die. 

But now, standing here… they have brothers. Mothers. They bicker with each other, and apologize for things they think they’ve done wrong. Have anesthetic creams and eat bacon on toast for breakfast. Loki’s hurt scowl makes him look exactly like a little brother who’s been put down over something he thinks is important. 

And if Tony were a different man, he might care about that. But even after coming this far, Tony can’t imagine what Romanoff was put through last night, her and the others who were captured this week. Not every Asgardian can be only interested in messing around with his brother. And they do something to their captives that means they never speak a word about what happens in this camp and it’s going to happen to Tony eventually, and that’ll clear out whatever nice things they’ve tricked him into thinking. 

Maybe they are people. That doesn’t mean Tony’s going to forgive what they’re doing.

“Come, we have plans to make,” Thor says. He claps Loki on the shoulder again and ducks back inside the tent. 

Loki sighs and tucks the scroll into his pocket, gently, before turning to Tony. “Wait out here.”

And he’s gone after Thor.

Okay, then. 

Tony heads around the side of Thor’s tent and finds one of the firepits there, complete with log benches; he bends over and shoves one back the way he came. It’s stupidly fucking heavy but at least the ground’s hard enough that it’s not too difficult to heave it along, drag it around the corner and aim it back towards the front of Thor’s tent. 

Sex slave or not, he isn’t sitting in the dirt.

His palms are scraped by the time he’s done, but he’s also warmed up quite a lot, and that cream Loki put on him must be seriously powerful, because he didn’t feel a single twinge from his injuries. 

He drops himself down to his improvised seat and sticks his heels in the dirt. God only knows how long Loki’ll be in there, and since Tony has no idea, he can’t sneak away without a too-high risk of getting caught. So, spying from right here, then, not that he’s seen anything useful yet. Admittedly, he has learned that, like terrorists, the Asgardians don’t include flush toilets in their elaborate camp setup, but that’s not something that’s going to help him.

And maybe nothing will. No matter what he sees, how are they supposed to do anything against this enemy? It’s been months now and they’ve only killed a handful of Asgardians, and they’re still no closer to finding a way to stop them. Tony’s got his factories churning out as many Iron Man suits as they can, at least they give people half a chance against these guys, but he can only get them made so fast. In the meantime, guns do nothing, the bullets just bounce off; knives are a bit better, but not much; missiles-

Missiles are fucking useless, all the heavy firepower is useless, nothing can get through the shield, it’s time they just gave up already…

“Stark.”

“Romanoff?”

Tony glances up to see her standing next to him, in typical Romanoff silent approach style, wearing what must be Asgardian clothes because there’s no way anyone on Earth would have something like that in a place like this. She’s in a flowing dark red dress, with slim, elegant boots under the ankle-length skirt, a dark blue wrap around her shoulders. Somehow the colors suit her perfectly, and the dress softens her, just a little, like she could be enjoying herself at a party or something, like she has other things to do with her life than just murdering people.

She scowls and sits down next to him. “Don’t say anything.”

“I wasn’t going to, and even if I did, they would have been nice things.”

“You only pay people compliments when you want to sleep with them.”

“Paying everyone compliments should be a good character trait.”

She draws in a breath, and nods slowly. “You okay?”

“Okay with- oh.” Right. Sleeping with people. “Yeah, actually, he didn’t… nothing happened. He’s got other things on his mind, apparently, he’s playing some kind of shell game with his brother - the big blond one, I think you’ve met - that involves not sleeping with me.”

Romanoff glances pointedly at his shoulder; Tony shrugs, and tugs the neck of his shirt sideways to cover the bite. “And it’d give it away if I didn’t have a mark on me, wouldn’t it? So I’m okay. You?”

Romanoff’s eyes go kind of distant - but not in pain, in thoughtfulness. Tony’s seen it on her a hundred times, trying to analyze what little they know of Asgardian tactics, or working out ways to get more world leaders to volunteer their armies. “Thor is… It’s strange. He likes talking to me. Asking me about other wars I’ve been in, what kind of training I’ve had. We had a whole conversation over dinner about music. It’s not what I was expecting. But I suppose it’s not surprising he’d be a little curious about the planet he’s declared war on.”

“And…” How is there a good way to ask whether she thinks she’s going to survive a whole week of being fucked by that guy? Tony wishes he saw her come over, can she even walk without pain right now?

“Oh, we had sex,” Romanoff says, the same considering tone as before, like nothing’s different about these words, and maybe for her, nothing is. “He’s…” She actually quirks a smile. “Pleasantly surprising. Considerate.” She lowers her voice, and leans in towards Tony just a little. “I’ve never had a mark like him before. I almost think he’s trying to be generous.”

Tony scoffs. “He threw you over his shoulder and carried you off in front of half the army, I’d call that showing off.”

Romanoff shakes her head. “I hurt my knee during the fighting. He said he noticed and didn’t want to make me walk the whole way.”

“Oh, how gallant.”

“Maybe. He wouldn’t be the first warlord who likes to think well of himself.”

Romanoff shifts closer again, leans in to Tony’s body and buries her face in his shoulder like she’s about to cry; he wraps an arm around her, trying to look comforting or something. She’s got some aim here, the Ice Queen isn’t going to actually break down because of a little captivity. Tony bows his head to get some more privacy. “What’s up?”

“If I get you a weapon, can you kill yours?”

“What?”

“What did you think I’m here for? If I can get a knife, I can kill Thor in his sleep. If you take yours out, that’s their commander and their first-in-line gone in one shot. Can you do it?”

Can he? 

If Tony convinced Loki to fuck him, break whatever resolution is going on about refusing his brother’s presents, it’s possible he wouldn’t tie Tony down the other end of the bed, even possible he wouldn’t bother with the leash at all. Maybe Loki’s the type to fall straight asleep after sex, and Tony knows he could make it good, wear him out a bit. But Tony would have to smuggle the knife in somehow, hide it within reach of the bed, get to it without waking Loki up, and then… 

Loki would wake up. If Tony managed to get the knife in his hand and turned around, Loki would be lying there smirking, alert, glance once at the weapon and say something perfectly in control of the situation, something… If you wanted to play, you should have just asked me.

“Don’t think so. He’s clever, taking precautions. I think he’d notice and he’s way too strong for me to win if he fought back.” And not that he’s going to admit it to a SHIELD agent, but Tony has no plans to die for the sake of victory. He’s still got work to do. 

He feels Romanoff nod against his shoulder. “Don’t take any risks you don’t have to. Thor’s more important, and I don’t want him on guard after a failed attempt on his brother. And I suppose they can’t all snore loud enough to wake the dead.” She snarls the last words, clearly annoyed and apparently sleep-deprived.

Tony actually laughs. “Oh, they can take you prisoner and force you to fuck them, that’s fine, but snoring…”

“He didn’t force me.” Romanoff sits up again, runs her hands over her face and sucks in a deep breath like she’s just had a good cry into Tony’s chest. “Like I said, pleasantly surprising. I’m not saying he would have taken no for an answer, but…” She smiles. “He tried some very effective persuasion first. I had a pretty good time, honestly.”

Tony fakes a groan, because it’s not like the infamous playboy has ever reached the point of TMI. “Dammit, woman, I don’t wanna hear that.”

“Oh, you never know.” Romanoff grins slyly. “Maybe it runs in the family.”

Tony elbows her in the side and she practically giggles. That dress is going to her head, she sounds like she’s having fun too, now. 

They’re exploited prisoners of war, but hey, they can laugh over the idea that they might be enjoying themselves.

It’s at least a possibility. Sex has never been anything to take seriously, as far as Tony’s concerned, and Loki’s certainly not a putrescent pile of nightmare fuel. If Tony has to pretend to be willing to get Loki to be vaguely gentle and not rip him to shreds, as he’s fully capable of doing - how the fuck are Asgardians so strong? - then it probably won’t actually be the worst night of Tony’s life. 

No, there’s not going to be any betrayal here, not with no trust on either side. Nothing Loki can do will compare to the sound of that sonic paralyzer in Tony’s ear, way back in Malibu. 

“Heads up,” Romanoff whispers. The tent flap opens and Loki comes out, face stony like he’s holding some wave of emotion back. He glances once at Tony and jerks his head, follow me, and strides off.

Tony squeezes Romanoff’s shoulder, and gets up to go after Loki.

~

The horse wants to eat him.

“I promise, it’s safe,” Loki says, amused, rubbing at Tony’s shoulders, but Tony’s still stuck in the memory of the huge teeth towering over him, and horses do not look this big on TV, this thing’s massive and it was staring at him and now he’s sitting on it which can’t be earning him any favors and the horse wants to eat him. 

“Look, can I walk, because I am really not okay with this.”

“I’m riding,” Loki says in his ear. “You must stay with me.”

And Tony can’t really argue with that.

Loki wraps an arm around Tony’s waist and tugs him back against Loki’s chest, and it’s stupid but Tony feels a lot better with something solid to lean on. Loki’s voice is a whisper that Tony barely hears over the noise of the camp behind them. “If you truly were my accepted prize, I wouldn’t let you part from me for more than a moment, so you stay.”

“Oh, right. Yeah, I got that feeling when you left me outside your brother’s tent.” He pouts. “What’s so much more important than me?”

Tony’s probing for details, but Loki nips at his earlobe, all playful teeth and soft lips and warm mouth, and a hot shiver runs down Tony’s neck from the touch. Loki sucks on Tony’s lobe ever so slightly, and flicks his skin with his tongue before pulling away and leaving Tony cold. “I told you I don’t give away secrets. Besides, Thor banished his companion, too. The pretty red-haired one you were talking with.”

Tony swallows. “She’s a friend,” he says, neutrally, because Loki’s clearly probing for details too. 

The world rocks under them before Loki speaks and Tony grabs at something to hold onto - the damn horse is stepping sideways and why won’t it stand still-

It stops and Tony catches his balance and his breath, and at least he’s still sitting up here and not pancaked all over the ground, but god fucking dammit, he hates horses.

“Oh, you sweet,” Loki coos, and pats at Tony’s hand, what the hell-

Oh.

He’s apparently gripping Loki’s thigh, that was his anchor, and Tony flinches back and tucks both hands into his lap. No groping here, thanks, even if Loki’s thigh is very nicely firm. 

Loki chuckles at him and folds his other arm around Tony’s waist, too. Then he kisses Tony’s neck - his lips are warm and soft, leaving a tingling imprint in Tony’s skin, and Tony feels his pulse thump. It’s so - affectionate, and Tony doesn’t know what to think about it, because Loki’s also the guy who enjoyed whipping Tony almost to bleeding, and even though it’s all a game, the game is that Loki beat him into submission and then fucked him raw, collared him like a slave, and Tony just can’t see how that fits in with Loki’s behavior now. Christ, it’s practically flirting. Tony’s supposed to be his conquered warprize - why is Loki being nice if the deception is so important to keep up?

“Quite all right to be shy,” Loki murmurs, running a finger down Tony’s arm, towards the hands he’s keeping very much to himself. “For the best, even. I did not win your surrender easily. Yes, you should be reluctant to accept my touch, even now.”

Tony swallows. It doesn’t matter what Loki’s plan is, when he’s running this show single-handed, and Tony doesn’t care about Loki anyway. He’s just got to go with the flow and complete the damn mission. “Thanks for letting me know, I was about to throw myself all over you.”

Loki chuckles. “Please don’t. I’m finding it hard to deny Thor as it is.”

Finding it hard to keep his hands off Tony, and Tony feels definite smugness rising in his chest.

Oh, for fuck’s sake, Stark, get your priorities straight! Tony’s got to focus on what’s important, and it isn’t Loki’s attempt to take the prize for Weirdo of the Year, or his own glee at winning over an alien prince so easily. The Asgardians are about to move camp, march across more of Russia and knock over whatever’s in their way unless SHIELD manages to get in front of them before Thursday, and Tony needs to take advantage of any opportunity that this gives him. They don’t bring the energy shield down, but all the same, it might be weaker when they’re moving. Maybe the generator is fragile, maybe it needs to be moved slowly or carefully. Maybe it’s worth tracking the Asgardians’ movements just in case the shield slips. 

There’s a loud snort from behind them and the heavy falls of hooves, and Tony turns to see Thor riding over through the milling people, pulling up next to them. He looks way too big to fit on a horse, like the armor and the massive shoulders should just overbalance him and drop him to the mud, except that it’s a big horse he’s riding - colossal is the better word, in fact - and then Thor looks like mud would just slide right off him.

He gives Tony a once-over and then smiles at his brother, ignoring Tony like he’s a piece of furniture. “You’re rather taken with him, aren’t you?”

Loki huffs quietly and tugs Tony closer against his chest, slips the hand around his waist under the hem of his shirt and strokes a warm thumb over Tony’s cold skin. Tony shudders and forces himself to sink back into Loki’s grasp like he’s enjoying it.

It’s not very hard.

“You gave him to me, brother,” Loki says. “Would you rather I loathe him, like all the others?”

You idiot, Tony hears appended to those words. There’s a sharp bite in them that completely gives away the fact that Loki hasn’t accepted Thor’s apology at all. Well, gives it away to Tony, that is. Either he sees it only because he already knows how Loki feels, or Thor really is an idiot, since it goes right over his big blond head. 

Thor smiles. No, beams. “I’m glad you’re pleased with him.”

Tony feels Loki’s lips against his neck, and then Loki’s tongue is trailing over his skin, tracing a slow and wet line up to his jaw. “Very pleased,” Loki whispers in Tony’s ear, like he asked the question and not Thor, and then Loki nips Tony’s earlobe again and lifts a hand to his cheek, turns his head and-

Loki’s going to kiss him.

“Excellent,” Thor says loudly. He shouts something and his horse leaps away, galloping off. 

And then… nothing. Loki just leans back and settles himself where he was without even touching Tony’s lips with his. “Damn Thor,” he mutters, and then picks up the reins in one hand and wraps the other arm firmly around Tony’s waist again, this time like a seatbelt, with none of the teasing touches he made before.

With ‘Damn Thor’ watching. Just a game.

Loki flicks the reins just once and the horse starts walking, swaying under them and its ribs rising and falling against Tony’s legs as it breathes, but he can feel Loki’s strength and stability behind him and knows he’s not going anywhere. 

It’s probably more comforting than it should be, but hey, it’s not like he wants to get trampled here. The fact that it’s Loki keeping him upright means nothing. Right now Tony will take his luck where he can find it, and if Loki’s his good luck then he’s staying where Loki puts him. He’s doing whatever Loki wants until he gets the information he’s after. It’s less than a week that Tony has to put up with this, and he’s put up with a lot worse. A little pain, a little humiliation, it’s nothing Tony hasn’t done before and this time he’s in a tolerable amount of control. This was his idea and he knew what he was in for when he let himself get taken.

Except for the horse riding, he could’ve done without that.

Loki’s steering them through the lines of Asgardian soldiers, loaded packs on their backs, tugging carts piled with equipment. The energy shield is moving with them, elongated to match the formation, small yellow sky like a bubble keeping the enemy out.

And maybe, since they’re in the habit of taking captives, keeping the enemy in

It’s a pretty good deterrent against escape, Tony has to admit, knowing that you can’t get away even if you slip the guards. Nothing’s penetrated that barrier thus far, and since physical manifestations of pure energy shouldn’t be possible, he has no idea how to get through it.

“Thor,” Loki mutters, and that’s all the warning Tony gets before Loki cups his cock through his pants.

The hell-

Fooling Thor, just the game, just…

Just Loki pressing his forehead to Tony’s temple and breathing hot in his ear, his fingers claiming and possessive and stroking firmly like they have every right to be making Tony’s blood pound, to be sending fireworks through his skin, and his cock twitches in the leather strip tied around it and the pressure feels - oh god, it’s good, Loki steady and confident and never hesitating once, squeezing him in rhythmic sweeps of sensation, pleasure pouring up Tony’s spine. He’s arching into Loki’s body, his head fallen back and pressed to Loki’s shoulder, and Loki holds him up through the onslaught and keeps going, makes him take more.

Loki’s mouthing hot and wet at Tony’s bared neck above the collar, and Tony’s pressing himself into Loki’s touch because he hasn’t felt like this in ages, wants more-

And then Loki just stops, pulling his hand away, and the swirling sparks inside Tony writhe sickly without anything keeping them going; they choke to death slowly, falling away and going dim. Tony’s breathing falters in jerky steps and his heart settles back to normal, cock softening in the leather binding. It’s an uncomfortable drop after the glittering high that Loki worked him up to, and Tony’s skin feels too small and there’s something raw inside him that’s unsettled and loose, a sparking wire looking for a connecting port.

“Can you… can you not do that again?”

Tony’s panting breaths fill Loki’s silence for several moments. “We have a full day’s march ahead of us,” Loki says eventually. “And eyes watching. What else am I to do with you?”

“We could talk, like normal people, Romanoff said she and Thor did heaps of talking.”

“Talking is not why my brother gave you to me.”

Tony’s this close to demanding that Loki at least finish what he starts, but he bites it back and swallows the words down. He’s not here to get off, not here because he wants to find pleasure or whatever in Loki’s arms. Tony’s a spy and he’s got to do this Loki’s way, and that means shutting up and letting it happen whether he likes it or not.

He’s not going to enjoy an entire day of Loki working him up only to let him down again, and again, and again whenever his brother happens to come past, or when Loki thinks he’s going to come past, or when Loki wants to make a point to the gossipy soldiers on the ground, but Tony’s not here for fun. He can take it. 

“Fine, whatever. I’m all yours.”

Chapter Text

Tony definitely falls off the horse and into Loki’s arms, but he can’t actually feel his legs anymore and he’s so dizzy that he’s just grateful he didn’t hit the ground.

It’s been hours since the pleasure from Loki’s hands and mouth became straight-up hell, forcing Tony to the very edge of orgasm and then reeling him back in, his body winding down before Loki dragged him back up, and then again, and again, and again, and Tony’s so exhausted he can’t even see straight. 

“Thor’s not here,” Loki murmurs, “just let go,” and Tony doesn’t know how he’s supposed to do anything else. He can’t think and he can’t walk, his legs have moved past the bruised ache from all the riding and are just completely numb, he’s hungry and cold and sore and his head is pounding and his cock is chafed raw by the fucking leather cage. He wants to peel himself out of his skin and just stop feeling.

Loki’s holding Tony’s entire weight as he walks them over somewhere, Tony can’t even lift his head to see. After hours of swaying to keep upright on that damn horse every muscle in his body is screaming, if they haven't completely given up on him.

Loki lowers Tony to the ground, steady and careful. It’s not bare dirt, it’s a thick blanket or something, but it’s soft and warm and not moving and Tony almost shakes apart at the feel of something stable after all this time. He’s done, he shouldn’t be because he can normally go for days without rest in his workshop, but he couldn’t stand even if Loki wanted him to.

So it’s good that he’s being nice about it. 

No, it’s not. Loki did this to him, Loki’s the one who’s been working him so close to the edge, heart racing, tension coiling in his body, and then pulling him back, over and over; Loki stuck him on the horse in the first place, made him ride long past what he was capable of. Loki’s - cruel, and sadistic, and Tony needs to remember…

“You must eat.”

Loki’s cool hand cups Tony’s cheek, thumb caressing the corner of his cheekbone.

“It’s only been one day,” Loki says. “You need your strength.”

Tony groans softly, because he doesn’t have any strength left to give. 

“Open your eyes,” but Tony can’t, can’t look at that yellow sky anymore, can’t see the light glittering like tiny crystals, quartz crystals, hot sand under his feet. His skin feels burned, splitting at the seams.

He’s so tired.

“Please…”

It slips out of his mouth on its own, so weak he barely hears it himself, and only knows he’s said anything because his throat aches with it. 

“Can’t… Don’t make me…”

Loki’s hands are both there now, on either side of Tony’s face, and he can feel the outline of Loki’s body close by, kneeling beside him. “It has been one day,” Loki says again. “You cannot have fallen so quickly.”

Tony huffs a breath that was supposed to be a laugh. “Only… human.”

“Yet you fight us for hours without pause, how can this bring you down?”

They swap shifts when they fight, the one thing SHIELD has on its side is numbers, but Tony’s not about to give that away. My secrets, mine. I’m here to steal yours. 

“All I’ve done is tease you.” Loki says it like he thinks it’s true. Like it’s easy to be worked up and pushed back down for hours and hours, like the riding and the cold haven’t done anything. “I did not think - I could have done that for days with-” 

An irritated hiss, and Loki’s hands are gone. Tony hears leather hitting leather, things shifting; then Loki’s fingers are back on him, taking his jaw gently and making him open his mouth. The fingers of his other hand slide between Tony’s lips, brush over his teeth, and he shudders and tries to pull away, god, he can’t take any more of this… But Loki’s just shh-ing at him, and already pulling back; he’s left something on Tony’s tongue.

“Eat,” he orders, and Tony just rolls the thing between his teeth and chews.

It’s sweet and firm until it breaks apart into softer bits, some kind of dried fruit. Tony swallows; it runs warm down his throat and into his stomach, and the heat starts spreading through his body, sweeping instantly into his bloodstream. A glow rolls through him, pain and tiredness washing away, neutralized just like that. If he opened his eyes he’d probably see it all hovering in a cloud around him, smoking out through his skin. 

He twitches and it doesn’t hurt, curls his toes and he can feel it. He hasn’t felt this good since…

Well, he hasn’t been sleeping much with the war on, and he hasn’t been happy with his work since nothing’s going right…

He doesn’t know, and it doesn’t matter.

Tony swallows again, tasting the remnants of it properly, rich and delicious like dessert wine, and blinks his eyes open.

Loki’s still leaning over him, face pale against the dark, low sky, his lips pinched together and gaze wide and nervous. Worried. For Tony.

But he meets Tony’s eyes and smiles, shakily, but it’s there. “How do you feel?”

“So much better that I’m probably high.”

“Good.” Loki’s hands twitch in the air for a second before he turns away again, and Tony sits up and looks around.

They’re in Loki’s tent. Loki’s tent, exactly as it looked this morning, complete with the elegant furniture and the rugs over the bare ground, the lamps hanging in the corners and the bed loaded with furs. They’re up against one wall - right in front of the door flap, in fact, like Loki got one step inside before laying Tony down. 

Tony reaches out and pushes the flap open. 

It looks like like somebody’s playing the morning in reverse. Tents are going up, soldiers throwing around the piles of canvas and managing the long poles with practiced ease; others are building firepits between the tents, organized and well-made, stacking up the fresh wood beside them. More Asgardians are walking past, carrying baskets and boxes. 

They set up the entire camp, every time they stop? The proper stone rings around every fire, the wooden stables, even when they’re only staying there for one night?

Dedicated, disciplined. Even when they’re human, armies with those qualities are hard to take down. 

Tony saw it on the march, too, and he can remember it now that he’s not five minutes from passing out. The soldiers weren’t asking questions about where they were going, they just followed where Thor led, and they weren’t even complaining about how they didn’t know where that would be. 

And they were guarding the other humans pretty seriously. Everyone Tony saw was surrounded by at least four Asgardians, paying attention and sticking close, and constantly touching them, too; Loki’s not the only one playing with his prize. But lucky for her, Romanoff was up on her own horse, led by another soldier, doing nothing more awful than riding beside Thor and batting her eyelashes and laughing prettily at the things he was saying. At least her plans are well underway.

Tony also saw that there are only a couple hundred Asgardians, which sounds too small for the damage they’ve done, in Russia, and in the US and India before that, but then they’re basically unkillable killing machines. They fight, and then they walk for the rest of the week to fight somewhere else the next Thursday. Dying does not appear in that list. 

But Tony’s going to make it appear. He’ll find a way. 

He lets the tent flap fall closed and turns around. 

Loki’s standing by the table, one hand arched with his spread fingertips barely touching the wood, the other wrapped loosely around a gold cup. He’s facing away, and though his head tilts towards Tony by a few degrees, it’s not enough to meet his eyes. 

“You should have told me you felt unwell.”

Tony’s jaw drops for just a second. “I did,” he snaps, “the first fucking time you did it, I said don’t do that again!

“And then you told me to go ahead,” Loki returns fiercely. “You should have told me you did not protest from distaste but from illness! You should have told me when I reached your limits! But you let me-” His hand clenches on the cup, knuckles going white. “If I do you harm, it will be because I mean to. Not because I… because you are too timid to find your voice.”

Tony shoots up and strides the two steps to the table; he grabs Loki’s arm and forces him to turn and face Tony. “Don’t you dare lay this on me, pal. You’re saying that almost falling off the damn horse wasn’t a big enough hint for you? Did it slip your notice I couldn’t keep my head up or what? Thought I was just desperate for you to finish what you started?”

Loki reaches up with one hand and peels Tony’s fingers off his arm like all Tony’s anger is nothing to him. “I said I mistook your strength for an Asgardian’s. I have done such things before and never seen my partner affected so. And I had not the slightest reason to think that you could not bear a single day’s ride.”

With his other hand, Loki raises the cup between them, and tips it ever so slightly towards Tony in offering. “It was not my intent to harm you, Tony Stark. I told you this morning I did not plan on your suffering and I meant it.”

Tony glances down; the cup’s full of clear water, condensation beading on the sides, and he swallows through a very dry throat.

He’s still angry, still remembers the nauseating pain he was in for hours today - the mind-numbing exhaustion, his head spinning, the constant need to sit there and endure Loki’s touch, forcing himself helpless - and for all his pretty speeches, Loki hasn’t managed to actually apologize. But Tony’s also thirsty. 

He reaches out and takes the cup. The water’s cold and soothing, cleaning out the dry burning in his throat as he gulps. 

Loki sighs and his shoulders slump to something more relaxed and less defensive. “Will you eat now?”

Tony lowers the empty cup. “Speaking of eating, what was that you gave me?”

“Something not meant to be shared. But your due for my actions.”

It was like an edible form of that numbing cream Loki put on him this morning, fast-acting pain relief, the cream for physical injuries and then that dried fruit for tiredness. God, no wonder they can’t win against the Asgardians. One bite of this fruit and it’s like they’re coming off the bench completely fresh, and any injuries that SHIELD does manage to land won’t slow them down for a second once they rub that cream in. 

But if Tony can find out where they keep their supplies, he might be able to do something about that. He’d bet they’re not so tough without help.

~

Dinner’s like breakfast, and the lunch they ate bit-by-bit while riding - Loki fed Tony himself, that was almost worse than the rest of his stupid game - heavy on the slabs of meat and bread, fruit around the edges, plenty of wine as if drinking water is the oddity. 

Maybe they’re actually drunk all the time when they’re fighting. 

Loki’s isn’t talking and Tony’s not about to break the silence, especially when stuffing his face is a perfectly good excuse for not speaking up. The food’s somehow delicious, despite having been cooked over the open fires outside, the meat rolled in crisped herbs, the bread a bit like an Indian naan, but thicker, and flavored with something like molasses.

God, he’s eating alien food. But it hasn’t poisoned him yet, and it’s way better than what he was expecting when he let himself get dragged in here. He could still do with a good pizza, but he’s not about to complain.

Plus Loki’s not interested in making Tony go hungry; he’s taking what he wants from each platter and then shoving it back into the middle of the table, well within Tony’s reach. It’s still the only acknowledgement Loki’s giving to Tony’s presence; he’s barely even looked up from his plate since sitting down. Maybe he’s still embarrassed about what happened to Tony today, or maybe he thinks Tony just doesn’t want to talk to him.

Tony almost wants him to drop the act already, to just hold him down and fuck him and get it over with. He knows Loki wants him - his erection was pressed to Tony’s ass all day, so he’s pretty fucking sure on that count - and he knows the routine for the prisoners in this camp, knows what the Asgardians use them for. And then here’s Loki pretending to be all sensitive, horrified at going too far, all contrite and ashamed of himself, like any of his kind have ever had a problem with their actions before.

Loki’s the right hand man to an invasion of an entire planet that’s heavy on the pointless slaughter and marching through city streets like they own them, killing anyone who tries to disagree, and Tony’s been handed over to him as his plaything, no holds barred… and Loki’s just sitting at the opposite end of the table, effortlessly elegant while eating with his fingers.

Tony pours himself another glass of wine. If he’d been picked out by Thor - commander Thor who throws his prizes over his shoulder - he’d probably have been on the floor by Thor’s chair at this point, hand-fed like Loki was into when Thor was watching, cup held out for Tony to drink from. It’s probably where Romanoff is right now.

Except for how she described him this morning. Pleasantly surprising. Trying to be generous. The possessive-caveman shoulder throw was actually a fireman’s lift in aid of her busted knee. Maybe Thor even put some of the numbing cream on it, like Loki did for Tony this morning, because she didn’t look like she was having trouble walking or riding today. Romanoff didn’t mention anything about eating out of Thor’s fingers, and that’s the kind of detail she would have shared as relevant to his character study, marking him as an asshole, or some other technical term. She’s a lot better at reading people than Tony is.

But even he can tell that the Asgardians aren’t simply savage barbarians - they weren’t openly cruel to the other human prisoners today, not getting all that close, as close as they could. Slaps on the back and arms around shoulders, kind of thing. Something way more complicated than straight-up abuse is going on here, even if it’s just that - unlike Loki - the rank and file don’t get nookie on the job.

Well, that’s why Tony came, to work this out. Maybe the Asgardians really do have a sense of decency, that’s something that could be used against them, in the right circumstances. Maybe SHIELD could ‘accidentally’ fail to evacuate a town of… blind orphans, or something, in the Asgardians’ path - they stop, lower the shield to help out, and then…

SHIELD drops a nuke on top of them. Them and the town of blind orphans. 

Or the Asgardians turn out not to have that much mercy after all, slaughter every blind orphan in the town and raid it. And SHIELD, having pulled back to set the trap, don’t get there in time to save anyone. 

Okay, so it’s a shit plan, but it’s not Tony’s job to come up with the plans. An entire room of military strategists will get this done a lot better than him. He just has to get back, break whatever brainwashing the Asgardians pull that keeps their captives silent about what happened, what they saw, and then SHIELD command will do the rest. 

But this is SHIELD, and there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t drop the nuke on the Asgardians and whatever poor bastards they set out as bait. No, Tony knows that’s exactly what they’d do. They’re getting desperate, with the Asgardians being almost invulnerable to conventional battlefield weaponry and the energy shield protecting them on the move. Russia’s the third country they’ve landed in and there’s no sign of them stopping any time soon.

It’s starting to look like the only way this will end is on the Asgardians’ terms. SHIELD has no strength in combat here and they don’t even know how to open up negotiations. 

But that’s why Tony’s here. He’ll think of something, he’ll turn this around, he’ll get these bastards off his planet even if he has to do it single-handed. He lifts the cup of wine, toasts himself, and drains it. It’s good, dark and warm and kind of spicy or something, whatever, Tony barely has the vocabulary to describe wine that comes from Earth. 

He lowers the cup and looks up. Loki’s staring back, looking at him for the first time all night like he’s caught Tony plotting against him, and Tony swallows in a way that isn’t guilty at all. But all Loki does is nod down at Tony’s empty plate. “You are finished?”

“Yeah.”

Loki stands and walks over to the door, and ducks his head outside for a second. He returns, followed by a soldier, who starts stacking the plates up to carry away. 

Nice. Tony doesn’t even have to do the manual labor around here.

A second guard pops into the tent - how many of them are out there, it’s like they’re filling a clown car or something - and bows at Loki. “Prince Thor requests your attendance tonight.”

“Ahh.” Loki taps his fingers against the table. “I see.” He smirks. “Requests, or commands?”

The guard hesitates, because the answer is pretty obviously the latter, and he’s stuck between actually obeying Loki and not being rude to his face. The first guard takes the opportunity to duck out with the stack of dishes before things get really unpleasant.

“Respectfully insists,” the guard says eventually, looking relieved that he came up with something tolerably polite. He bows again and flees before Loki does something like ask any more questions.

Loki’s expression goes from amused to annoyed in half a second flat. “Damn Thor,” he mutters, his favorite phrase. He glances over to Tony and his lips twist wryly. “He knows I prefer to keep my own company. I suppose he wishes to see whether I truly have forgiven him.”

“Which you haven’t,” Tony says, “except that you’re pretending you have. So I guess you’re stuck going. Going where, by the way?”

Loki rolls his eyes. “Thor’s warriors are not satisfied by a full day of battle in every seven. They must fight amongst themselves, too. Sparring, they call it, as if they thirst not for blood.” He shrugs. “Every so often Thor drags me along to cheer his victories.”

And Loki can’t really say no this time, can he? Which means that he’s going to be occupied for a couple of hours - him and a lot of other people, from the sounds of it - and Tony… God, it’s the perfect opportunity fallen right into his lap. Even if Loki ties him down by the leash, how hard can it be to undo some knots? And if he’s caught sneaking around, it’s not suspicious to be looking for Loki to ask him some questions about - something, Tony’ll think of a good excuse later. 

“Sounds like a barrel of laughs.” Tony gives him a jaunty farewell wave. “Try not to fall asleep where they can see, Thor probably won’t like that. Catch you later.”

“Oh, no, Stark,” Loki says, shaking his head and smiling. “Not at all.”

“Huh?”

~

This is not what Tony was hoping to get out of Thor’s invitation.

Because yes, Loki’s out of the tent and most of the camp is sitting around this empty field instead of actually guarding things, but that’s all turned out completely useless, because Tony’s stuck here too.

Almost literally. Loki isn’t actually holding Tony down with the arm draped over his shoulder, hand slipping idly inside the collar of Tony’s shirt, but he could easily pin Tony from here. Even if Tony somehow got Loki to let him go, he’s not sure he could get through the crowd massed around them.

Because there are a couple of hundred Asgardians, worked up and shouting and more than a little drunk, all focused on this one tiny patch of dirt and the two guys slugging each other in the middle. They wouldn’t let Tony shove past them even if he could try.

The shirtless brunet Asgardian slugs his opponent in the stomach and kicks his feet out from under him; the redhead goes crashing to the ground and the army roars a wave of sound that practically knocks the victor down as well. Thor, seated on the other side of the arena, bellows and thrusts a tankard into the air in celebration, and Romanoff, perched in his lap, claps like she’s really excited but shy about showing it.

Tony tries not to feel jealous of the fact that she’s very clearly succeeding in seducing Thor. He might be failing in his own self-appointed mission, but at least Loki isn’t openly pawing him. There’s only his fingers sketching little patterns over Tony’s collarbone, the weight of his arm resting on Tony’s shoulder, and Tony’s pretty far from sitting on him. He’d much rather be down here, on the ground by Loki’s feet, pressed close against his leg. Somewhat respectable, in a way, if he really wants to believe it. Not that he cares that much; fooling everybody into thinking there’s stuff going on between them is exactly what Loki wants, and if Tony’s going to get anything out of this little excursion, keeping Loki happy is a necessity. 

Might you, getting him more than three inches away from Tony is kind of necessary, too.

Fight over, the two Asgardians lean on each other and limp out of the arena, and the howling crowd quiets down while they work out who’s going next. 

Tony nudges Loki in the calf with his elbow. “You ever taking a turn?”

Loki huffs and scratches his nails gently over Tony’s skin. “I am only here to laud Thor. I am not welcome to actually fight, Thor has made that very clear. I do not play fair.”

Tony looks up at him, and smirks slyly. “What kind of idiot plays fair?”

He’s playing it up to get on Loki’s good side, show support for his interests and be more appealing than critical big brother Thor, but it’s pretty damn easy, since Tony actually believes what he’s saying.

Loki looks back, and slowly his eyes light up and a grin spreads across his face. “Oh, you like tricks, do you? You like cheating? Victory at whatever dishonorable cost?”

“I like getting away with shit I probably shouldn’t. And winning. And making people look like morons.”

“Is that so?” Loki’s grin turns sneaky and savage. “Well, then.” 

He nods back at the arena, where Thor himself is facing off against an Asgardian in different armor to the rank-and-file, something bronze with teal leather accents, and Loki’s hand moves up and squeezes Tony’s shoulder. “Watch this.”

Thor throws his arms wide and roars at the crowd, and they almost boil over, drowning everything in the howl they give back. Thor’s opponent, a slim blond, shakes his head ruefully like he knows he’s going down, but waves at the masses and gets another cheer in return.

Loki leans down to Tony’s ear, somehow audible over the crowd. “It is just possible that someone may have smeared oil on Fandral’s gloves. Exceedingly slippery oil.”

“Ooh,” Tony says, glancing at ‘Fandral’, and yeah, the palms of his leather gloves are kind of shiny and wet-looking. “I’d like to see him manage a hold with those.”

“Exactly so.”

In the arena, Thor and Fandral square off against each other, and then Thor bellows and Fandral shouts something and they throw themselves at each other.

It’s almost too fast for Tony to follow, the two Asgardians spinning and hurling punches and ducking and throwing kicks, Thor all strength and Fandral quick and evasive, but Tony watches Fandral’s hands and they’re basically sliding right off Thor, Thor breaking every single attempt at a hold with way too much ease. 

Tony looks at Fandral’s face, and almost gives it away by cracking up at the horrified surprise there, mingled with the unattractive panting exhaustion of the fight. Tony elbows Loki in the leg again, and Loki bends down so Tony can speak in his ear. “You’re a menace,” Tony praises gleefully, and Loki grins and turns towards him.

He kisses Tony’s cheek, his lips warm and soft. Parts them to flick Tony’s skin with the tip of his tongue.

Loki straightens up again and Tony… Tony’s doing well here, has something of an advantage, because that kiss felt kind of genuine and not for the game, just like some of the ones during the ride today. He milks it for all it’s worth and curls slightly towards Loki’s body, twisting to lay his head on Loki’s thigh.

Loki’s hand leaves Tony’s shoulder to stroke through his hair, and Tony hides his smirk from the entire army. Maybe he’ll get something out of this after all. A sympathetic Loki has to let him take a walk around the camp to stretch his legs or something. Tony knows Loki likes him, knows he wants him, and Loki can’t be guarded and composed and wary all the time. He’ll give Tony some personal space sooner or later. 

All Tony has to do is play him right. Easy.

He looks back at the fight, as Thor hooks a leg around Fandral’s and brings them both to the ground; Fandral tries to hold Thor back but he can’t get a grip, and Thor’s hand pins his throat and the crowd explodes.

It’s not even a particularly impressive fight, considering that Tony zoned out for half of it and it’s only been maybe two minutes, but of course everyone cheers for their prince. Tony’s seen enough of that in board meetings and functions to know exactly what’s going on.

Loki claps too, just fast enough that he doesn’t sound sarcastically slow. “The mighty Thor,” he calls, and manages to make it vaguely appreciative. Tony does his best not to snigger. Thor must be a serious idiot if he can’t see through Loki’s barely veiled annoyance with his entire existence. 

Thor wades into the crowd and they surge around him, pushing in a massive horde a little further away from Tony and Loki. They sweep up Fandral too, applauding him with nearly as much enthusiasm.

Tony takes advantage of the slight lull. “You know, if you’re going to fake forgiveness, you might want to put your back into it.”

Loki laughs and raps him on the back of the head. “Why would I do that? He believes me already. I save my efforts for when they are truly needed.”

“Such as when?”

“Well…” Loki reaches down to stroke a thumb across Tony’s cheek. “There was the time I tricked him into thinking a noble house was a brothel.”

Tony chokes on his laugh. “He bought that?”

“He strode into the lord’s hall demanding wine and women for the prince of Asgard and cast his clothes off before he realized his error. Stammered out desperate apologies for his vulgarity and fled. Then beat me bloody when I was found to be responsible for his humiliation.”

“Uh-huh. Sounds to me like he was pretty much in charge of that himself."

“Indeed.”

Loki’s touch is slow and pensive, thumb sweeping rhythmically across Tony’s skin, and Tony swallows and tries not to feel quite so comfortable here. But Loki’s wooden bench is solid against Tony’s back, Loki’s leg warm where he leans against it, Loki’s funny and more than a bit mischievous and Tony doesn’t actually mind the absent way Loki’s petting him. It feels like it’s supposed to be intimate rather than dominating, like Loki really is only playing at cruelty for the sake of fooling everyone else and wants reality between them to be rather more pleasant.

That, or he’s lulling Tony into a false sense of security, so he won’t put up too much of a fight when Loki demands more.

The Asgardians reform around the arena, Thor seating himself beside a gushing Romanoff who instantly plasters herself all over him and starts combing his messed-up hair back from his face. Thor laughs and cups her ass with huge hands.

“Come.” Loki stands abruptly and Tony flails a little without Loki’s leg to support him anymore. “While Thor is distracted.”

Loki strides through the crowd of soldiers, miraculously parting for him, and Tony staggers to his feet and hurries in Loki’s wake before he gets crushed. Loki doesn’t offer him a hand or even look back for him, and Tony frowns because that’s quite a switch from the chatty guy showing off that oiled-glove prank for Tony. 

“What’s bitten you?”

Loki doesn’t slow down and barely glances back over his shoulder as they clear the last edge of the crowd. “What?”

“One second you’re all friendly and the next you’re pissed at me. What, did I do something?”

Loki shakes his head. “I am not offering you friendship. I am not offering you anything. Expect nothing more than our bargain.”

He speeds up, conversation clearly over, before Tony can say anything to that, or even work out what he wants to say. Because he’s not disappointed that Loki doesn’t really mean the nice stuff, not at all. It’s not that he’d enjoy hearing more about pranks Loki’s played on Thor, or seeing new ones. Ones that Loki made it sound like were just for Tony.

Loki ducks inside the tent, and Tony shrugs and lets it go. Loki hasn’t made sense to him so far and Tony doesn’t expect him to start now. Or ever.

Loki’s standing by the bed when Tony gets inside, and he’s holding that damn leash again.

Tony stops and feels his stomach go cold, his neck itching under the leather collar he’s still wearing. “Oh, come on - is that necessary?”

“Defeated or not, I am well aware that you have offered no obedience to me.”

Seriously? When has Tony not done what Loki’s told him to? When has he gotten his back up and refused to give any answer except a flat-out no? Tony’s been so obedient that Fury would be having fits if he could see, would want to lock Loki up for the sole purpose of bottling whatever it is that’s getting Tony to play along. 

Mostly the value of the information in this camp. That and about eighteen percent fear of death. 

Given the choice between picking at the point, and actually living, Tony knows what the right answer is. He puts his hands up in defeat. “Fine. Whatever.”

Loki walks up to him, and Tony tilts his head up and lets Loki reattach the leash to the metal ring on his collar. It’s not that bad, if he keeps the right perspective here. So what if Loki’s leading him around like a pet, like some really kinky BDSM scene? It’s not a car battery. There’s no water flooding his lungs. And fuck everything, he chose to be here. He let himself get taken, and he’s not fighting back because he doesn’t actually want to leave. 

Loki steps back and Tony clenches his fists so he doesn’t try to take the leash off again. It’s just a strip of leather. It means nothing.

And hey, if their situations were reversed, it’s not like Tony wouldn’t keep Loki locked up at night. If, for whatever bizarre reason, Loki was living out of Tony’s quarters, Tony would be chaining him down with a lot more than one leather tie. It’d be cuffs, hand and foot, and there’s no way in hell Tony would let his prisoner sleep in his bed. Especially while he was sleeping in it himself.

Lucky Loki, being so effortlessly powerful that he’s got no fear of Tony killing him while his guard’s down. Bastard.

Loki waves a hand at the foot of the bed, and Tony obliges him. He kicks his boots off and peels himself out of the leather pants, hopes he can keep his shirt on and hide the reactor - but Loki glances at Tony’s chest and raises an eyebrow pointedly, and Tony grits his teeth and strips the shirt off as well. Then he gets to lie across the bed; he lets Loki tie the end of the leash to the bedframe and tries not to get twitchy. With guards outside, he couldn’t go anywhere even if he wasn’t tied down. It doesn’t mean anything. And he didn’t strangle himself last night so he won’t do it tonight. It’s fine.

Loki throws a fur over him and Tony pauses. The tent’s warm enough that he won’t freeze - and Tony happily grabbed his own blanket last night - so what’s with Loki making sure he’s all tucked up? It’s practically sweet of him, almost like Loki’s trying to counterbalance the shittiness of locking Tony up. Taking care of Tony where he can to make up for where he can’t.

But Loki’s the enemy here. Tony has to remember that. It was so much easier in Afghanistan, without a kind word from any of the Ten Rings, but Tony needs that same assurance now. Loki isn’t nice and he isn’t hesitant, only crossing Tony’s boundaries because he doesn’t know they’re there; he isn’t generous for sharing dinner when he didn’t have to and he isn’t shoved around by his older brother…

Doesn’t kiss Tony softly when nobody’s watching, like maybe there’s something real hiding behind the elaborate stage-act…

None of that matters. Tony isn’t really interested in seducing Loki, in swaying his feelings to favor Tony. Just a little, only enough to get on with his mission.

The mission that, in the best possible circumstances, will lead to the death of every single Asgardian.

Including Loki.

There is the mission, and nothing else.

Chapter Text

So it’s been three entire days now, and Tony is about ready to start praying for useful information to fall into his lap, because he doesn’t think he’s going to get it any other way.

Three days of straight riding, stuck up on that fucking horse, three days of no hot water and no flush toilets, three days of staring at every Asgardian soldier they ride past, desperately grasping for something useful he can learn from all this.

Three days of Loki, and Tony’s about ready to strangle somebody.

Loki himself, by preference.

Because if he was hoping to totally ruin Tony’s entire plan, he’s doing great.

Tony’s barely been out of his sight. He keeps Tony around like he can’t bear to be without him, except for the fact that Loki still isn’t talking much. He starts little conversations just fine, amusing things about other people’s screwups, especially Thor’s; then he shuts his mouth when he remembers he’s refusing to accept Thor’s present, Thor’s present being Tony. And the touchy-feely stuff while they’re riding, hands sliding under Tony’s shirt, stroking along his thighs, lips kissing softly at his neck - that lingers after people have stopped looking their way, until Loki remembers to cut that out too. It’s confusing and weird and it’s playing havoc with Tony’s attempts to charm his way into Loki’s good graces, since he’s still got no idea what Loki actually wants from him.

And even once they’re done with the day’s riding, Loki clings, makes Tony stay in the tent for a long dinner - and does listen to Tony’s fantastic sneaky plan to ‘get some fresh air’, only Loki trashes it by coming with him. And when Loki sleeps, he’s still tying Tony’s collar down to the foot of the bed by knots that Tony has tried and somehow failed to pick. Zero chance for Tony to slip away for a few hours and get some work done.

He quirks a smile. If Pepper were here, she’d be taking notes.

It’s not like Tony expected this would be easy. He isn’t asking for Loki to give him a grand tour of the Asgardians’ camp, helpfully pointing out all their stores of important things like weapons and food, and stocks of flammable materials so Tony can burn everything to a crisp. But he thought he’d have something by now, one chink in their armor, one vulnerability, anything.

But everything’s been about Loki. When Tony’s near him he can’t afford to think about anything else… and somehow he’s doing a really, really good job at staying focused when Loki’s the object of his attention.

Kind of like - Tony grits his teeth and hates himself for it, but it’s true - he doesn’t even want to be paying attention to anything else.

Tony’s bad at people in general, knows he misses all the important points - One last golden egg to give; My family’s dead, Stark; You’re all I’ve got too, you know. But he should still have more of a handle on Loki than he does right now. There’s nothing consistent about him, nothing that Tony can pin down and work out. 

Loki’s confident and arrogant, unless he’s around Thor, when he gets either all deferential and quiet, or deferentially quietly sarcastic; he also relaxes a little when it’s only him and Tony in the privacy of his tent - except for when he remembers that Tony’s supposed to be his prisoner, not his drinking buddy, and he puts the haughty prince mask back on. 

He is into Tony, with the nice talking and the touching, but he keeps pulling up short and shutting down, all cold and distant.

And Loki’s definitely Tony’s captor, doesn’t soften that even when he is playing nice, but either way he’s being a good host. Tony’s got food and clothes and a place to sleep, and that’s better than he sometimes treats himself when he’s working.

Frankly, Loki’s the most interesting thing Tony’s come across in a very long while. He knows he could crack Loki’s code given enough time, knows he could pull him apart and find out what makes him tick. Loki’s fascinating and gorgeous and so far from boring that Tony wants a drink to make it go away.

Because Tony doesn’t want to be getting interested in Loki. Loki’s not a puzzle to solve, not an enigma to study. That’s not what Tony’s here for. Whatever he’s got going with Loki is nothing but business - hell, Loki himself said that, so it’s not like Tony’s interest is welcome to him either. This isn’t personal, getting inside Loki’s head isn’t Tony’s job. He’s supposed to be a spy.

He is a spy.

Though a fucking useless one.

Three days in captivity, and Tony’s not sure he’s learned anything at all.

He groans, and drops his head into his hands to scrub his fingers through his filthy hair. His scalp itches after way too long without a shower, and with his head ducked down like this he can smell himself, sour sweat and leather and horse and Loki sticking to his skin. 

He should have thought of this, honestly. Should have known he’s not a military mastermind, not a strategist or a soldier. Maybe he can use his own tech in the field, but he’s an engineer at heart, and the Asgardians don’t even have engines. He hasn’t been able to get near their armory or whatever they’re using to generate the energy shield around the camp, hasn’t even seen any of Loki’s weapons, assuming he actually has some and doesn’t just sit on his ass while the fighting’s going on. Tony hasn’t gotten a look at any documents, though he couldn’t read Asgardian even if he did, or any maps with their next target conveniently marked. He’s got nothing.

He should have known. Even if the Asgardians are brainwashing all the captives, they’d have to be really fucking stupid to leave classified information lying around where people can see it. And he should have known that if hundreds of trained professionals haven’t been able to learn anything useful in here, neither could he. 

Tony’s not a spy. What he is is a bedhopping playboy slut, and he can’t even get that right. Loki isn’t taking the bait even though Tony’s been stepping up the flirting and the sex-slave roleplay - kneeling without being asked, bowing his head when he speaks, undressing himself with more than a little teasing - and Tony wishes Loki would just go through with it already. There’s got to be some advantage Tony could get from that. There has to be, since he’s failed to find one anywhere else. 

Not to mention that Tony knows there’s some part of Loki that wants to throw him down and do it; even if Loki’s holding back right now, there’s no guarantee he’ll keep that up. Every second of the past three days Tony’s been half-expecting to get ravaged and he’s so tired of watching out for it. If Loki would just go ahead and fuck himat least he’d know.

Yeah, he’s tired. Tired from riding all day and yesterday and the day before that, and tired of this fucking situation he’s gotten himself into. Tired of Loki’s stupid game and stupid complicated personality and tired of wearing all this fucking leather - though he finally got rid of the strip around his cock and Loki either didn’t notice or didn’t care, thank god - and fuck it, Tony’s just tired.

He lets his arms fold flat against the table and drops his head onto them and shuts his eyes. It’s so much easier in the dark like this, the solid table under him and no weird Asgardian tent filling his vision. He could be in his lab, way back in Malibu before everything went wrong, working on something new - not a weapon, that’s not what he wants if there’s no Asgardian war going on, but an engine, maybe, a long-range helicopter or something - and he’s been up too long, gotten really wrapped up in this and his brain and body have had enough. Time to rest, Tony. There’s a nice flat surface right here, Tony. Lie down, Tony.

Tired, Stark?

Tony flaps a hand, yes and leave me alone, and hears a faint chuckle and then somebody pulls him upright.

“Get off,” he says, slurs, and pushes weakly at Pepper - but no, Pepper’s not here, it’s-

Loki throws Tony’s arm over his shoulders and starts walking him slowly across the tent, Tony’s feet dragging over the floor. “You truly are stubborn. I’ve been watching you fight sleep for the past twenty minutes.”

“’m I that fascinating?” 

Loki doesn’t say anything, just gives another one of those soft laughs.

Why don’t you want me? I’m getting desperate here…

Loki shushes him like Tony said something out loud, and then he’s laying Tony down across the bed. It feels different this time but Tony can’t work out why, doesn’t really care when he’s just rolled carefully into the depths of the mattress, warm furs settling across his skin. He can’t remember taking his clothes off, but he must have; he’s so comfortable right now, wishes he could just burrow down here and sleep until the war’s over. 

“Sleep, stubborn thing,” Loki murmurs, sliding his fingers over Tony’s cheek, and Tony shifts away from the caress and buries his head under the pillow to make everything go away.

~

Okay, last night was the kind of embarrassment that Tony will never, ever, think about again.

He nods decisively without even opening his eyes, rubbing his cheek over the pillow. Just giving up like that, falling over and whining about everything? Not the way Tony plans to handle this. Even if he doesn’t learn anything - which he won’t, he just needs more time - but even if he doesn’t then he’s hardly lost anything, either. One week in the lab, even one week of him in the lab, really isn’t going to make any difference to the war either way. They’ll still be manufacturing the suits without him and in design terms, he’s really got near the optimum balance of speed in production and power in the field. So everything’s fine, whether he gets something out of this or not. Which he will.

Tony blinks his eyes open and sits up in bed. Really in bed, properly and everything - he’s not tied down by the collar, not even wearing the collar, and he’s not across the foot of the bed, either, but actually laid out with pillows, his head at the head end. Loki hasn’t stripped off his fur blankets and left him for the soldiers’ prying eyes, either, to feed the rumor-mill that’s the whole point of this deal between them, and Loki himself is…

Loki’s draped across the lounge, long legs encased in black leather and crossed over each other at the ankle, as usual, also wearing a fitted green shirt with intricate gold highlights. His hands are tented in front of him, elbows balanced on the armrests, and his eyes meet Tony’s and just stay there. 

“I have been thinking,” Loki says, conversational, but with some weight behind the words, obviously expecting a serious answer.

Tony swallows. This is new. Loki talks to him, sure, but never this early in the morning, and he doesn’t get serious. Not without cause, like the first day when Tony almost passed out. Not just out of the blue like this. “Thinking about what?”

Loki smiles slowly. “You were wrong, last night. I have refused you thus far only because it spites Thor. But nothing will come of that if he doesn’t know about it. Since rejecting you outright is far from my desires, why should I continue denying myself when all I earn is my own pain?”

Loki’s going to break the deal. 

Loki’s going to quit playing around and just fuck Tony like he’s been pretending to all along, hold him down and push into him while Tony just lets it happen and pretends it isn’t, shuts his eyes and tries to ignore the Asgardian above him, tearing him apart while he’s helpless to do anything about it- 

Stop. Breathe. Breathe, dammit. Panic: useless.

He breathes. Pushes back.

“Thought doing what Thor wants is against the rules?” Yeah, Loki said he wouldn’t, said he’d keep Tony at arm’s length - more or less, groping during the day aside - but now is not the time for Loki to forget where his priorities are-

Loki smirks. “I’m not doing what Thor wants. I’m doing what I want. And, Tony Stark, I very much want you.”

Okay. There it is.

Tony knew this was coming, knew it all along, has been aiming for it - knew what he was in for when he came up with the plan in the first place. And he’s pretty sure he can take it, it’s just sex and he’s not exactly unwilling, but… now that it’s actually happening and not just his backup plan… 

He’s seen the people who’ve come back from here and he’s the last person to say he’s stronger than any of them. And most of them shake it off okay, stand tall and keep going, but some of them it’s broken. Some of them get sent back home, unresponsive and untreatable since they won’t or can’t talk about what’s going on in their heads, but Tony can tell it’s dark. Tony can tell they were hit with more than they could take. 

And it’s not like Tony can say no, not like he would even if Loki technically offered to let him opt out. Tony’s still staying on Loki’s good side, knows that fighting back will only get him hurt, and then Loki will toss him to the guys outside and god only knows what’ll happen to Tony then. But sticking with an Asgardian prince has to pay off, somehow, and if that means spreading his legs and lying back and thinking of Earth, then Tony’s going to do it.

He’ll be fine.

Fine.

Loki stands up, swinging his legs off the lounge and unfolding his body, and paces over to the bed. He tucks his hands behind his back and stands there, looking down on Tony, head tilted to survey him.

“So, my prize, I’d like to tie you down and beat a little of that arrogance out of you - oh, don’t look at me like that.”

Tony scoffs. It doesn’t come out as cavalier as he hoped for. “Given what you’re proposing, I think I can look a little surprised.” Or however he looked. Because he’s seriously not pleased that he’s given Loki exactly no resistance and Loki still wants to force him, bringing out the riding crop again or something worse in his playbook that Tony doesn’t want to think about. Tony’s been practically offering himself up on a silver platter, so why does Loki think he’s anything less than willing and eager?

Loki grins. “You didn’t look surprised, Stark, you looked appalled. I assure you there’s no need for that. You’ll enjoy it. And when you’re properly humbled, I shall bury myself in your writhing body until we can both bear no more. Tell me what you think of that.”

Tony thinks he’d rather jump in front of a train. Except for the part where he wants Loki to be happy with him, wants Loki to trust him, to finally let him off the leash. If this is how Tony can earn a bit of freedom to move around the camp, then he’s going to do it. No matter what.

Besides, he wouldn’t really rather die than take a little pain and some cock, and that’s all this is.

“I think you’d better be right that I’ll like it.”

Loki grins. “Oh, Stark, you’ll be begging me for more. I’m very good at this.”

Tony forces himself to smirk in return, giving himself something to hide behind, like he’s standing in front of a board meeting and daring them to call his bluff. His lips twist and he spreads his arms wide in invitation, far from defensive. “Then show me what you got.”

Loki smiles in victory, and slips elegantly onto the bed beside Tony, easily close enough to touch; he lifts a hand to cup Tony’s cheek, and pulls him in.

Tony’s calm, he is so calm about this right now, he knows how to handle sex and how to make it good - he’s going to have Loki giving him everything he asks for by the time Tony’s through with him, and…

Loki’s eyes fall shut and then his lips are hot and slick against Tony’s own. Loki’s tongue flickers at the closed seam of Tony’s mouth and his lips just fall open to let Loki through; Loki pushes, just a little, shifts closer on the bed and fans his fingers over Tony’s cheek, his tongue finding Tony’s and sliding against it, playful yet slow. Tony pushes back and steals control - he thrusts his tongue towards Loki’s mouth, gets between his thin lips and his teeth; Loki bites him sharply like it’s supposed to be a punishment, like he thinks Tony would be put off by a little pain. Tony grins and keeps going, folds his legs underneath him to kneel up and lean over Loki, and he teases Loki’s tongue with his own and rakes his fingers through Loki’s long hair.

Loki plants a hand in Tony’s bare chest and shoves him back, snapping them apart and breaking the kiss. Loki’s lips are shining and damp and flushed, his eyes bright and almost gleeful as he looks at Tony. “Oh, I wish I’d realized earlier that Thor doesn’t matter. I like you. Bold, commanding. Talented with that mouth. Perhaps I’ll have you as you are, uncowed and spirited, unless you’re desperate to know your place?”

Tony shrugs, draws in air through his nose and starts thinking about things that aren’t how hot Loki’s tongue feels against his. Nice that the option to not get beaten is on the table, but he’s done kink before and it’s just asking for trouble to get too eager about anything. “It’s your show.”

“I’m beginning to doubt that very much. Come on, Stark.” Loki licks across his lips and grins, leans back just a little. “Show me what you got,” he quotes, and everything just falls into place.

Captivity, servitude, not among Tony’s strengths. But screwing a gorgeous, arrogant prince? That, he knows how to do.

He surges forward, grabs Loki’s shoulders and shoves him flat to the bed, kicks the furs off and straddles him hard. He holds Loki down by his hair, all Tony’s weight across his hips, and holy fuck this was a stupid thing to do - but he’s not imagining the hard-on under his ass right now. Or the interested pulse in his own cock, because he’s got a willing and eager guy spread out for him and his boner doesn’t care about the politics of this situation. Loki’s hot and Tony’s not blind, and in any case he’d way rather be active than passive. Like he’s been saying all along, this whole plan was his idea and he’s called the shots that got him here, and he’s not giving that up now.

Game on.

He smirks down at Loki, his wide and shocked green eyes and his mouth hanging slightly slack. “Weren’t expecting that, were you? First taste of the Stark prowess tends to be a little overwhelming, don’t feel too bad.”

Loki swallows, blinks calmly and then grins back, composure pulled into place as well as he can manage while his hips are grinding softly up against Tony’s ass. “Cooperation, I expected. Enthusiasm is a very pleasant surprise.”

Enthusiasm? Okay. Tony’ll show him enthusiasm. He’ll enthuse Loki’s ass to Vladivostok and back.

Tony’s never done the selfless lover shtick before, but it can’t be that hard, right?

“Pleasant already, am I?” Tony says, and starts to roll his hips in rhythm with Loki’s. Loki sighs and arches up oh-so-slightly, head tilting back and baring his long pale throat. 

If Tony had a knife from Natasha after all…

But he doesn’t, and he’s got a much better plan than murder anyway. 

It’s easy to rock against Loki, small movements with heaped-up promises behind them. It’s totally legitimate for Tony to close his eyes and pretend that it’s not an alien underneath him, not one of the invaders sweeping across his planet and slaughtering innocent people. In the dark there’s only the hot press of another man’s groin against his own, Loki’s soft breathy gasps, his hands coming to rest on Tony’s bare thighs. Loki’s skin is warm and his touch is light for all his hands each span Tony’s entire leg, possessive without being dominant. Happy to let Tony keep doing what he’s doing. 

Tony has to open his eyes again to check his progress, tries staring just at Loki and maintaining the illusion that nothing funny is going on here, but…

Loki’s spread out over a sea of furs, rich dark things in grays and browns, thick and soft and sensual; Tony can feel them warm and luxurious against his legs where he kneels straddling Loki. And Loki looks gloriously decadent, every inch the prince he is, the green and gold of his shirt bright in contrast to the bedding he’s lying on. Loki himself has an almost ethereal beauty, the pale tone to his skin and the sharp arches of his face clearly beyond anything Earth could hope to produce. His chest rises and falls with his breaths, the furs stirring as he exhales, and his hands start to climb up Tony’s thighs. 

“Faster,” Loki says, fingers digging into Tony’s skin, and Tony picks up the pace, rolling his weight down against the thick press of Loki’s hard cock. Tony’s starting to sweat, his skin sticking to the leather of Loki’s pants, stinging every time he pulls away a little. Flickers of pain spread under his skin, but they’re easily washed out by the hot, pulsing pleasure building in his groin. Because Loki’s breaths are getting harsh, rasping in his throat, and his hands slide up to cup Tony’s hips, thumbs hooking around the bones, digging into the soft hollows, and it can’t not be a power rush to be making this man fall apart underneath him. Loki’s the one at Tony’s mercy, now, Tony’s pulling all the strings and he’s in charge here, not Loki and not anyone else, either.

Tony finally remembers that he has hands, too, and he pushes them under Loki’s shirt and starts caressing his chest. Loki’s nicely cut, all strong, whipcord muscle - combined with the arrogant, sassy, smart attitude, he’s just Tony’s type, for better or worse.

Tony grits his teeth and speeds up again, grinding down hard against Loki’s cock and pushing his shirt up to thumb his nipples, pinch them between two fingers, scrape a nail across them. Loki gasps at that, arching up into Tony’s hands and holding his hips down hard, and Tony does it again, dragging his nails across the tender skin to make Loki writhe. His cheeks are flushed and his perfect hair is falling rough around his face, and his grip on Tony is almost painful. 

Tony’s getting there. 

Loki sucks in a deep breath and forces his eyes to open, staring up at Tony, and he growls low in his throat and shoves Tony back. Tony hits the bed hard, head whirling for an instant before he sees Loki again, crawling over him and looming there, hands on either side of Tony’s head and his knees framing Tony’s hips. Loki grins, white and sharp, and reaches to run a single finger down Tony’s chest.

“Tempting,” Loki says, tracing warm trails across Tony’s skin, following the dips between his abs, “but I will not be made to spill like that.”

Tony grins back, tensing his stomach muscles so he doesn’t shy away from Loki’s touch. “Is that a challenge?”

“A statement. I have better things in mind.” Loki rocks upright, towering over Tony, and brings his arms up high to pull his shirt off. Loki’s bare chest looks just as good as it feels, glowing pale skin stretched taut over the lovely musculature, skin around his nipples still red from Tony’s nails. 

Loki drops his hands to his pants and starts unlacing them. “You’ll at least let me feel those clever fingers, won’t you?”

Fingers? Christ, if that’s all he’s after, this’ll be easier than Tony thought. “You have no idea just how clever.”

“Come on, then,” Loki says, and slowly pulls the last of the lacing free and lets his hands drop away.

Tony draws himself out from under Loki’s body, and kneels up to match Loki’s height, as near as he can manage; he dares to reach out and tug Loki closer, and Loki laughs softly and braces himself on Tony’s shoulders. This close, Tony’s staring Loki straight in the face, and he doesn’t have to watch what he’s doing.

He slips his hand between them and flicks the leather folds away from Loki’s skin, lowers his hand and cups Loki’s cock.

It feels just like any other, hot and thick and pulsing in his hand, damp with sweat and beading precome at the tip. Long and big but definitely reasonable - nothing that Tony should get internal injuries from, when it comes to that - and Tony wraps his fingers all the way around and gives a small squeeze. It makes Loki shudder out a long breath and drop his head back; his throat looks like an engraved invitation to be slit. 

Teasing fucker’s probably doing it on purpose.

Tony plays nice, leans in to bite and suck softly at the expanse of pale skin he’s being offered, and Loki groans and clutches at his shoulders. He’s already thrusting into Tony’s grip and Tony tightens his hold, just a little since they don’t have any slick and the Asgardians are probably the type to execute their unsatisfactory conquests. But Loki likes it, letting out a moan that shivers through Tony’s lips against his pulse, and he pushes harder into Tony’s hand. 

“Yes,” he whispers, fingers flexing on Tony’s shoulders, “yes, Stark - mine, all mine-”

Tony shoves his other hand down the back of Loki’s pants, cups an ass cheek and kneads the firm flesh; as if Loki needed any more points, he’s got a fantastic ass.

Yes,” Loki hisses, and jerks his head up to place his lips by Tony’s ear, “give me everything.”

Okay.

Tony squeezes Loki’s cock hard, stretches a finger down to flick at his balls, and pushes his other hand between Loki’s cheeks, and Loki shouts and fucks into Tony’s hand. No more teasing, no more goddamn games, just Loki’s gasps for air as Tony works him and the hot, humid skin against Tony’s hands. He slips a dry fingertip into Loki’s asshole and Loki shudders, caught between pushing down for more or thrusting into Tony’s hand on his cock. Tony makes it easy for him, pumps him faster and rubs at the puckered skin around his finger, sucks a harsh mark into his pale neck and bites down once he’s sure Loki will feel it.

And god, Loki does, crying out and bucking into Tony’s hands, his own flying to Tony’s head to hold him in place. Tony works his way up Loki’s neck, bites and sucks and kisses when Loki gets too enthusiastic, makes him wait a bit longer and deal with something gentle. Loki’s skin is warm and smooth, tastes of salt and something else that Tony won’t admit he likes, and Loki smells of leather and sweat and heat and all good things, and it’s easy - god, much too easy, Tony hates that it’s this easy - to climb up to Loki’s jaw, wrap his lips around the bone and kiss his way sideways. 

And nothing to go from there to Loki’s lips.

Tony inhales Loki’s moans and attacks his hot, slick mouth, thrusts his tongue hard against Loki’s and then pulls back to bite down on Loki’s lower lip, sucks hard over the imprints his teeth have left, fuck, he can feel the ridges - and Loki all but melts into his arms, yielding completely to Tony’s hands and mouth, pressing their bodies together and trapping Tony’s cock between their stomachs. Loki’s shivering now, as Tony keeps working him - it takes a hell of a lot more than one kiss to distract an engineer from his job - sliding his hand over Loki’s thick cock, pressing slowly deeper into his ass.

Tony wants to see him fall apart. Wants Loki wrecked and gasping, fallen back limp against the furs. 

He twists his wrist sharply, pulls his hand back just enough from Loki’s cock to tease the slit with a nail and then pinch the head, thrusts hard into Loki’s ass with a dry finger, and that’s it, Loki shouts into Tony’s neck and spills hot come over his fingers, a splash on his stomach. Tony works him through it, milking him until he’s shaking and his hands are flexing in Tony’s hair like he’s thinking about shoving him away. Tony grins where Loki can’t see and then pulls back, as gently as he can manage without lube, and guides Loki slowly down across the bed.

He’s flushed and sweating, skin shining softly in the lamplight, shirtless and his pants hanging open, come-smeared cock lying against his stomach. His eyes have fallen shut and his chest is heaving with his breaths, rising and falling, his arms splayed out around his head. His fingers twitch, and start to comb slowly through the thick furs. 

And Tony has to stop looking. Admiring. Wanting to do it all over again. It’s got to be easy to lose focus in a situation like this, or it wouldn’t happen to so many people, but Tony has to keep on track. Winning Loki over can not be allowed to even get on his list of priorities. Enough to stay alive, yes, enough to maybe work a few secrets out of him, yes, but anything more than that… 

Like enjoying the sight in front of him right now, feeling something warm and proud stirring behind the reactor with the knowledge that Tony’s responsible for ruining a high-and-mighty Asgardian prince like this. This can’t happen.

You hate this bastard, remember that?

It’s not like he’s forgiving anything Loki’s done, any of the accidental torment or the abuse as a means to an end, an end that Tony just happens to have suggested. Nothing gets Loki off those charges, or out of killing however many people he’s torn through in the fighting. But that doesn’t matter either, not really. Loki’s also a means to an end; Tony’s going to be sent back in two days and he’d better have some useful information by then. 

Learning that Asgardians go commando is not exactly what he was after when he came up with this plan.

He exhales, long and slow, throwing out all his stupid thoughts with it, and looks back down at Loki. “Still conscious, your high-and-mightiness?”

Loki blinks his eyes open and stares up. His pupils are still blown, darkening the bright green. His lips twitch weakly before he manages a proper smirk. “Despite your best efforts, I’m sure.”

Tony shrugs. “Gimme a break, that was just my first try.”

“Oh, you will have many more.” Loki grins, and lifts his head a little to nod in the direction of Tony’s crotch. “Go on.”

Tony glances down at his hard-on, because Loki can’t mean what it sounds like he’s saying. Under what circumstances do sex slaves get told to take care of themselves? “Go on and…”

“Finish yourself.” The low almost-purr sends hot sparks through Tony’s skin. “Spill your seed for me.”

Right. The circumstances where the guy in charge is kinky and gets off on that.

But the thing is, Tony’s not getting off on that. No chance. So maybe his cock’s running away from him a little bit and he’s enjoying this more than he should be, but there’s no way he’s actually going to let himself get sucked in like this, he isn’t a part of it…

But that’s not an option right now.

Tony shuts his eyes and wraps his fingers around his cock. His hand’s still wet with Loki’s come and his body floods with a guilty thrill, because that’s so wonderfully filthy, lubing himself up with another guy’s spunk - but not when it’s Loki’s, Tony shouldn’t be liking anything about this, not really getting into it-

But fuck it. After everything he’s gone through already, it’s not like this means any more than the rest. He’s Tony Stark and sex is his bitch.

He thrusts his hips into the barely-slicked friction, the pressure and the heat, and lifts his other hand to run across his chest, flick at his nipples, palm the side of his neck possessively - it does not feel wrong because his fingers are too short, his palm too rough - and he drags his hand down again, waterfalls his touch over his chest and starts rubbing the spill of Loki’s come into his stomach.

There’s a hitched moan that isn’t his, and suddenly Tony can hear Loki breathing under him, feel the thick, unfamiliar furs against his legs, and he just knows that the eyes of his alien conqueror are crawling all over him like he’s got every right to be staring, to be ordering Tony to get himself off, like Loki owns him and there’s nothing Tony can do about it, like everything’s in Loki’s hands now and Tony’s nothing but his precious prize, nothing but Loki’s-

Something crests inside him and he’s coming, pleasure crashing down from his brain and up from his cock and burning where they meet in the middle. Tony pumps his cock hard for the last spurts and opens his eyes again to see the white streaks of his come across Loki’s perfectly toned stomach. Loki runs his fingers through Tony’s come, and then lifts his hand to his mouth and licks it clean, Loki’s tongue curling around his white skin, and his eyes firmly on Tony’s the whole time. Searing and pleased and so, so easy to fall right into.

Fuck.

Tony’s in so much trouble.

Chapter Text

Fucking endorphins.

Well, yeah. That’s kind of exactly what he’s pissed about.

Tony can admit that he’s still riding the high of a very nice orgasm - that’s a fact of biology and nothing more. His body is flooded with happy-chemicals and he’s pressed up against the guy who gave them to him, so of course he’s feeling relaxed and languid and generally pleasant.

That doesn’t mean he’s going to enjoy the suddenly-affectionate Loki he’s gotten himself saddled with. Literally.

Loki is a post-sex cuddler, apparently, and hasn’t allowed the fact that they’re on horseback riding across the Russian countryside in the middle of an army to get in his way. He’s nuzzling Tony’s neck softly, rubbing his lips up and down, leaving sharp little bites, switching to the other side when he gets bored, inhaling deep breaths of whatever he can smell on Tony’s skin. And he’s got both hands under Tony’s shirt - both arms, in fact, wrapped around his midriff because suddenly Loki’s into hugs. His thumbs stroke down Tony’s ribs, too, like he wants to touch everything in reach so long as he doesn’t have to actually let Tony go.

It’s stuck Tony with holding the horse’s reins, but it’s really pretty easy. Just no sudden moves and the horse will take care of everything.

Well, as long as it’s related to the actual transportation. Tony just wishes it really would take care of everything.

Or even just Loki.

Loki is a big problem.

Because on the one hand, Tony is definitely his prisoner and the Asgardians are definitely Tony’s enemies. But on the other, he just can’t find it in himself to hate Loki the way he hated the Ten Rings. That was easy, but this time something’s different. Tony’s seen quite a bit of Loki over this week and it hasn’t been all bad. There’s a degree of respect here that Tony’s almost falling for, and Loki’s company is the only thing that’s been making the twelve-hour days of nothing but riding into something actually tolerable, because Tony really doesn’t handle boredom well. Or at all. Ever.

And… his stupid deprived subconscious is sucking up all Loki’s attention and cute smiles and obvious lust. Because yeah, it’s nice to find somebody who isn’t faking that stuff; for once, there’s nothing to be gained from sucking up to Tony - random human fucktoy prisoner - so Loki must actually like him.

Ooh, Loki sees me for who I really am! Yeah, right. Shut the fuck up, brain.

Still. There’s more than a bit of truth in it. And it’s going the other way, too. Tony’s not sure when Loki stopped being a Bad Guy. 

Though he does know that SHIELD has never been the Good Guys. When the Asgardians first appeared, SHIELD were a lot less pleasant than Loki’s been so far; they trapped Tony under house arrest and all but enslaved him into doing their job for them. Leave and I’ll kill you, Coulson said, not in so many words but what else did he think a taser would do to the man with the arc reactor in his chest?

Tony’s not fighting for SHIELD - god, Tony is so much not fighting for SHIELD that he wants to scream it and make sure everybody knows. Tony’s here to protect the innocents, keep the Asgardians out of the cities and away from the people just trying to live their lives. Sure, his aims align with SHIELD’s, but that’s all that’s going on here. If the Asgardians offered any guarantee that they would keep this army to army, Tony probably wouldn’t even be here at all. If everybody just moved down to Antarctica and duked it out down there, scared off a couple of penguins and nothing worse, Tony would let them all kill each other and call it a day. 

But the Asgardians are threatening innocents - right now, the Russians, people who are nothing to do with Tony, but he’s done with sitting back and pretending patriotism is a good enough excuse to let other people die. This is his job, now, what he’s here to do. Protecting people. Everyone he can. And it’s his job to protect everyone he can’t, too, which is why he’s a terrible person and no hero. He’s just another fucked-up bastard trying to do the right thing before it’s too late, balance out the scales and leave behind somebody who’s grateful he was born.

Pepper…

Loki nips hard at Tony’s earlobe and laughs when he jerks away. He pulls Tony back to settle against his chest again. “You’re quiet today.”

“Yeah,” Tony mutters, way too distracted to come up with something better. “Guess so.”

“I hope I haven’t worn you out completely. We have a whole night ahead of us, and I mean to make up for what I’ve missed since Thor gave you to me.”

“Party time.” Great. Tony won’t get away with one sneaky handjob, this time, he’ll be sucking down Loki’s cock for sure, at least. And from the sounds of whole night, and four days to catch up on, Loki’s either got a hell of a refractory period or Asgardian Viagra on his side. It’ll be hours that Tony will have to tangle naked with Loki’s long, pale body across those furs, arching as Loki fills him and grins down at him, eyes bright…

Tony’s cock twitches with interest, and dear god he could almost shoot himself right now.

There’s the fact that this morning’s sex with Loki felt good, that’s non-negotiable, and it’s nice to at least pretend like it’s all Tony’s idea. But he’s already in far too deep with Loki, and this can’t go any further. Tony needs to be able to face Loki across the battlefield no-holds-barred come Thursday; kill him if the opportunity presents itself. No feelings, no regrets, nothing can get in the way of Tony’s goal.

But that’s okay. It’s okay. Tony can do that. Once he gets out of here and away from Loki, it’ll all fade like a bad dream. He’ll forget about the careful way Loki gets him on and off the horse, that he specifically ordered soup last night because he thought Tony might like the change. He doesn’t care that Loki treated his bruises on Saturday morning, too, and wrapped a bandage over a particularly deep section of the cut along his arm that wasn’t healing to Loki’s satisfaction. None of that makes any difference. Tony’s going to spy out a weakness in the two days he has left, before the Asgardians release everybody on Wednesday, and take it back to his lab and find some way to use it against them, no matter how he feels about Loki. Easy.

Tony glares outwards, staring hard at the low curve of the energy shield over the army. Fucking impossible glittery yellow light trapping them all in, keeping out everything even a little bit effective that SHIELD has in its armories. Their missiles have to be a threat, or the Asgardians wouldn’t be going to so much effort to stop them. God, if Tony could find out anything about this shield… And Loki’s still riding the same post-sex high that Tony is, so he’s probably feeling a bit chatty… 

Not to mention that Tony’s running out of time.

He squirms in Loki’s arms like he’s uncomfortable and ducks his head away from looking at the shield, and Loki makes a little noise of concern and strokes his warm hand down Tony’s ribs. “Stark?”

“It’s nothing,” Tony says, aiming for unconvincing. It’s a risk to put Loki off like that, but hiding something from him sounds like a huge challenge and it’s going to take a lot of care. Loki hasn’t given away anything useful in the past four days and it won’t be easy to make him slip something now. 

“Tell me,” Loki says. 

Gotcha.

“I just…” Tony hesitates, as if reluctant to confide in Loki, before cracking. “I miss the sky, you know? This-” he waves a hand at the shield, “don’t you feel like you’re… running out of air or something?” Cry for sympathy, check. Spur of the moment kind of thing, not like he’s had that thought a hundred times before. Moving on. “And the color’s all wrong, the color and the light - god, it never gets dark in here, that shouldn’t even be possible…”

“Your people do not have such things?”

Tony shakes his head. “Everything I know - and that’s a lot - tells me that this is impossible. Impossible for any kind of matter or energy to behave this way.” Perfect. Tony’s just some innocently confused human poking at a shiny thing and getting curious; no Asgardian could resist showing off their superiority a bit when faced with that.

“Well, I suppose I could explain…”

Score. Tony tries not to grin, because Loki’s definitely close enough to notice. “Yeah?”

Loki bends his head, tucking his mouth against Tony’s ear. “But you’re hunting for secrets, my Stark. Stop it.”

“I’m not hunting for secrets.” No, no, definitely no secrets here, shit, how did he get caught so fast? “Just interested in your-”

“In the workings of the only thing keeping out your people’s weapons while we do not wish to fight them?”

Tony shifts. Put like that, it does seem a little obvious. Dammit, he should have gone after something smaller! Like where they’re going - not that that’s any use, since Tony won’t get out until they’re there - or where they’re going next week, or even just how many Asgardians there are. 

Too late now.

“Fuck,” he mutters, and Loki chuckles softly and kisses the side of Tony’s neck. His lips linger, smooth and warm on Tony’s skin. 

“I praise you for your efforts. I admire cunning, and you do it well. Another, you might have fooled - my brother, certainly.” Loki’s teeth settle gently over a tendon for just an instant. “But you’re mine now. No more fighting.”

Like hell, buddy.

Tony’ll give up from depression or hopelessness or sheer terror - and did, temporarily - but he’s not about to lose just on Loki’s say-so. No, Tony’s a stubborn bastard and what he’s doing here is important, and that means that keeping his mouth shut is the last thing Tony’s about to do. Mission: James Bond just got a second lease on life. 

Failing right here isn’t even going to count against him. Loki won’t be expecting Tony to do something so incredibly stupid as to keep trying after getting caught.

“How about another secret?” Loki asks, leaning his head against Tony’s.

“Fine.”

“Your friend, the pretty one? Thor’s prize?”

“Yeah, what about her?”

Tony feels Loki’s grin. “She tried to kill him this morning.”

Tony goes cold. 

Romanoff failed. She came here on a mission, a mission to stick a knife in Thor’s chest, and she’s failed.

How could she have failed? Tony’s seen Romanoff take down men three times her size, she’s smart, she’s cunning, she’s quick - if even she couldn’t make it, what hope does he have?

She smiled the last time Tony talked with her, outside Thor’s tent Friday morning. She was beautiful. And a much better soldier than Tony, given that all he’s done in Loki’s company is laugh at his jokes. At least she tried. Went down fighting. Tony thinks that’s how she would’ve wanted it.

“That’s why we moved off late, of course. Only my brother would halt an entire army so he may rut with his woman.”

Tony gags. “He fucked her after-

Loki scoffs. “The attempt on his life only made him desire her more. She was wearing enough jewels to blind a man when I saw her.”

What? When? “That was…”

“This morning, after I left you to breakfast. I had business with Thor and found him otherwise occupied. She was kind enough to pour me a drink while he tried to dress himself.”

“Wait, she’s still alive?

Loki sighs and removes one arm from around Tony’s waist, cups Tony’s chin and turns his head so their eyes meet. Loki’s gaze is amused, one eyebrow quirked up. “Of course she is. You didn’t think he killed her for it?”

“Well, duh. She tried to kill him, what else am I supposed to think?” God, if somebody tried to kill Fury, they’d end up dead on the spot. Or wish they had. An Asgardian prisoner attacking Earth’s commander… hell, SHIELD would probably enjoy finding a way to kill them.

Loki shakes his head. “Thor sees beauty only in battle. Where I wish to hold your obedient surrender, he is pleased that his so-called conquest brings the battle wherever she goes. He courts war as lightly as he would a lover. Lighter, perhaps. To have a lover and a warrior in one…” Loki’s mouth twists. “An ideal companion.”

“She’s really okay?”

The sneer fades from Loki’s face. “I have frightened you. I did not… Yes, she is well.” The corner of his mouth ticks up. “As well as anyone can be after spending hours in bed with Thor. She may find walking a little painful today.” He smirks at his own joke for just a second before going serious again. “But nothing worse than that, I promise.”

Tony slowly breathes out, tension fading from his body. He doesn’t even know why he cares so much - she’s just a SHIELD agent, and they’re certainly not friends. He respects somebody that good at their job, but that’s all. Except that she’s the only other human in here who he knows by name, and maybe he was just a little bit touched by the apparently sincere way she asked if he was okay, that morning after he’d been supposedly ravished by Loki.

And he might be a fucked-up bastard, but he can still be glad that a woman hasn’t been murdered.

“It’s okay,” he says, glancing up at Loki’s worried expression. “I just freaked out a little.”

There have been people who haven’t come back. Six, to be precise. Maybe not all Asgardians share Thor’s taste for assassination attempts.

Loki smiles at Tony, and lets his face go and settles them back into position, Loki’s arms around Tony’s waist, tugging him close, Loki’s nose tucked just behind Tony’s ear. “Let us speak of lighter things. I don’t believe I finished telling you about Thor’s spectacular failure to kill the hanflung.

“Don’t think you ever told me what a hanflung is.”

“Ah. Perhaps I should start over, then.”

“Perhaps you should.”

~

“So it works on missiles, grenades, bullets and people, but your shield really doesn’t keep out snow?

Loki gives Tony a warning glare like he’s ‘hunting for secrets’ again, but since they’re currently plunging through drifts up to their knees, and rising, it’s a pretty shittily-kept secret. 

Acid rain’s supposed to be pretty dangerous. Maybe SHIELD can find a way to make acid snow? Maybe there’s something the Asgardians are allergic to, something that makes them sick, and SHIELD can stick it in the local weather. 

Maybe they can take some of the snow out of the weather while they’re at it.

Tony huddles further under the thick cloak wrapped around him, and tries to catch the edge of the hood between his teeth so he can pull it more over his face. The flurries are whipping past them, cutting visibility down to a dozen feet, stinging whenever they hit Tony’s exposed cheeks. Loki, next to him, is striding along like he doesn’t give a damn, snowflakes caught in the fur around his shoulders and in his black hair, cloak flying loose behind him, because apparently feeling the cold is for weaklings or whatever. 

Still, every other Asgardian is struggling with it, trying to clear the ground to set up their overdone medieval camp, but there aren’t enough shovels for a snowfall this heavy and fast. Tony and Loki are walking past gangs of guys in yellow armor chucking snow into piles, not even getting it out of the camp, and half-raised tents that look larger than the ones they normally use, like they’ve given up on the standard setup and are just preparing the minimum number of tents necessary. Probably warmer that way, too, sleeping twenty guys in one tent instead of the usual five or so.

Typical arrogant prince, Loki’s tent is completely as per normal. They’ve stopped in front of it, the guard on duty looking like an armed snowman and the green pennant snapping in the winds.

Loki waves Tony inside. “Get warm. I must see Thor.”

Tony shakes his head and jerks his thumb over his shoulder. “Gotta piss.”

Loki nods before he turns and heads back the way he came, snow instantly filling the space between him and Tony. Tony heads off slightly in another direction, just enough to convince the guard that he’s legitimately heading for the disgusting hole-in-the-ground toilets, before he spins on his heel and starts following Loki.

The storm’s a perfect cover for him to actually get some spying done. It’s easy to get lost in, and it’s unlikely he’ll even need that excuse since the chances he’ll be caught are so low. He looks like another Asgardian, dressed in their clothes like this, being careful to walk normally and not skulk, like he has every right to be moving around; the snow conceals certain giveaways like his lack of height, and the glow of the reactor if it happened to slip past the cloak. This is practically a no-risk scenario with a huge potential gain.

Loki’s going to Thor’s tent in the same way Tony remembers from Friday, so Tony can afford to hang back a little in case Loki turns around. But he keeps going, through the snow without a flinch like it isn’t daring to touch him, and Tony muffles his curses and flexes his stiff fingers to warm them up. Loki will definitely know something’s going on if Tony comes back from the ‘toilets’ with frostbite.

He almost wishes he’d just obeyed Loki and gone in to thaw himself. Except that this is the best opportunity he’s had all week, and he’s damn well going to make use of it.

Loki ducks into Thor’s tent and Tony heads around it until he reaches the side sheltered from the wind. These things are only made of canvas, so unless there’s some kind of magical cone of silence going on, he should be able to hear just fine. Provided they’re speaking loud enough. Tony can smell smoke seeping out from the tent, so hopefully the fire is near this side, and they’ll be standing practically right next to him.

Crouched down in the snow like this, only his head is poking out, and the snow’s already so churned up from the people who raised the tent that Tony’s footsteps are practically non-existent, not that anyone would be looking for them anyway. Things would be perfect if he weren’t so cold.

But then he hears a loud laugh from inside the tent and something heavy slammed onto a table, and suddenly the cold doesn’t matter so much anymore.

“… hinders our ability to fight, consider…”

“Nothing hinders Asgard’s might!”

“Enjoyment, then, you cannot call yourself pleased with this…”

That’s Loki and Thor, bitching about the weather like the whole camp must be doing by now, and Tony scowls into the snow. It’s nothing new to hear that the Asgardians enjoy running up and killing people, it’s been obvious all along… But there’s something chilling about hearing Loki just come out and say it like that.

And Tony’s still sleeping with the guy.

“… not abandon the fight because of a single storm!”

“You plan to move within the month because this land bores you. How is it any different? Look.”

Tony would give half his fortune to see what they’re looking at right now, but he’s not stupid enough to try lifting the canvas off the ground or peeking through a crack. That’d only invite attention to the movement as well as the sudden invasion of snow. Patience, Stark.

“Perhaps we ought to go here. It is more isolated, largely barren, but there are rich settlements along this coast. Heimdall reports it is summer there, long, hot days. Just what we need after this.”

“I never knew Jotunheim had holdings on Midgard,” Thor says, chuckling like he’s told a really funny joke. It’d make more sense to Tony if he had any idea who Jotunheim was, or Midgard. And if he cared about some stupid joke when he’s just overhead their plans to decamp and land on another continent.

So, summer: that means southern hemisphere. Isolated, barren, people only on the coast… Australia? They wouldn’t bother with something as small as Hawaii or even New Zealand, and Africa and South America can’t really be called isolated. Indonesia or Malaysia or the Philippines are way too crowded to be called ‘barren’ in the middle, and Antarctica’s just barren everywhere, not to mention it’s hardly summer there anyway. 

They’re going to Australia next. And soon.

“… consider it. Else find a way to banish this storm.”

Thor growls something too low for Tony to hear, but it’s furiously angry.

Loki scrambles, frantic. “Brother, I only meant-”

Tony jumps at a loud bang like Thor’s slammed his fist onto the table. “We do not have to move because you say! I asked for your advice, not your command!”

Loki doesn’t answer, and Thor doesn’t say anything else - there’s just silence, one, two, three seconds, and then Tony hears the smack of canvas on canvas, the tent door being flung open; Loki’s gone.

Back to his own tent. Where Tony isn’t.

Shit!

He scrambles up, shaking off what feels like half an avalanche, and struggles through the drifts as fast as he can. Which isn’t very fast. The snow holds him back, gripping at his legs, and the wind has swung around to blow right in his face, but he’s not going to get caught out because of some stupid snow, not when he’s holding a massive trump card. If he can get this information about their movements to SHIELD, crack whatever imposed silence trick the Asgardians pull on the returned prisoners, they’ll be well ahead of where they’d be if the Asgardians just upped and disappeared again.

Fucking rainbow light space elevator.

The end of Loki’s green pennant almost smacks Tony in the eye as he passes it, and he ducks and gets himself inside the tent before he can suffer any flag-related injuries. 

Got lost in the snow is sitting ready on his tongue when he straightens up, and-

Loki’s not even back yet. 

Tony fist-pumps. Success - not like there was ever going to be another outcome, but it’s still pretty satisfying. This absolutely couldn’t have gone any better. Not only does he know the Asgardians’ plans, they don’t know he knows. Loki doesn’t even know he’s been out ‘fishing for secrets’ or whatever he called it. Tony kisses his upraised fist - and almost punches himself in the face with it because he can’t control his own arm, he’s that cold. 

The tent’s almost painfully warm, in fact, a fire built in a pit near the middle and filling the room with thin smoke, and Tony’s exposed hands and face are starting to burn even though it’s probably still cold compared to anything but Russia.

And if he wants to avoid hypothermia, he’s going to have to burn.

Tony grits his teeth and starts stripping, and doesn’t stop until he’s got off everything wet, which means he’s left in one shirt and that’s it. His skin is stupidly white and numb, except where his fingers and toes have gone weird shades of blue. Hopefully that’s okay.

He falls down right next to the fire, holds his hands out and arranges his feet to get the full effect of the heat. It’s starting to hurt already, a deep, heavy pain that feels more like getting hit with something, and the beginnings of what will be a fucking awful case of pins-and-needles, but he’s always heard that it’s good if it hurts. Means you haven’t frozen your nerves or something. It was never really a problem in Malibu. 

Maybe he should have read up on cold-weather survival when he was deployed to Russia in the winter.

The canvas door flaps open, letting in a swirl of cold air along with Loki’s voice. “Well, you look… still cold, actually.”

Tony turns and shrugs at him. “Step up from frozen, which is where I think you’re at right now.”

Loki does look frozen, for sure. Not cold, but completely blank, uncaring of the snow in his hair and across his shoulders, his face expressionless like he’s pulled down a mask. Keeping something back. Thor must’ve upset him bad back there.

Loki doesn’t loosen up any as he undresses, dropping his clothes where he stands, untidy and apathetic. He sits on the other side of the fire from Tony, with none of his usual open sprawl; this time his legs are folded up close to his body, arms tucked between his thighs and stomach, chin resting on his raised hands. 

“You okay?”

Loki looks up from the fire to meet Tony’s eyes. The bright flames reflected in his pupils are shivering. “There are times I wish…”

“What?"

Loki’s tongue flickers across his lips, about to tell Tony everything… “Get on your knees.”

Tony blinks. “Excuse me?”

Loki draws in a harsh breath. “I want you on your hands and knees for me while I fuck my brother out of my mind. Is that clear enough for you, or must I court my own prize?”

“Crystal clear,” Tony bites out, and twists around and rocks up onto all fours before he can do anything stupid like think about this. “Good enough?”

Loki inhales deeply. “Remove your shirt,” he says, and climbs to his feet and strides over towards the bed.

Tony strips it off and gets back into position with a shiver. He’s got the fire pouring heat onto his bare ass and thighs and the soles of his feet, but his hands and knees are already aching from being pressed to the frozen ground and he can feel his skin starting to crawl in the chill air. Not to mention the knot of tension inside him, that he’ll call stomach-churning revulsion because anticipation sounds too eager.

He’s not going to soften this by admitting that this morning wasn’t so bad. That he kind of enjoyed it once he got past the whole thing between them and just sank into the moment. That way lies trouble of very bad kinds. Tony’s the one doing the seducing here, not the other way around, and he’s not going to let himself have any kind of feelings towards Loki.

Because there’s no way in hell he’d ever want to be on his knees for an invading conqueror. Tony is not into Loki, no matter how charming and nice he can be, no matter whether Tony enjoyed jerking him off and making him moan and get all flushed and ruined. Tony’s nothing but a powerless prisoner trying not to let defiance get him killed.

Except he does want to be here, it’s good that Loki’s turning to Tony when he’s emotionally vulnerable, good that Tony’s in a position to hear everything Loki cares to tell him and possibly worm some more out of him. Getting between the princes would be a fantastic leg-up for Tony and SHIELD, and it’s not that big of a deal for Tony to bend over in exchange.

He’s going to be fine. Sex never killed anyone - well, not often, anyway - and he’s not really unwilling, Loki isn’t really…

Using Tony, demanding his body without bothering to ask any questions, taking advantage while he can’t say no

Tony swallows and looks away from Loki’s bare legs as he comes back, tapping something against the palm of his other hand. 

“You’ve done this before, I trust, Stark?”

“Yeah.” Tony smothers his cough at the dryness in his throat. “It’s a picnic.”

“Excellent,” Loki hums, and cuts off the heat from the fire as he kneels down behind Tony. “I needn’t bother to explain it to you, then.”

Tony jerks at the first touch of Loki’s hand; it’s only a light brush of his knuckles across the curve of Tony’s ass, but it leaves his skin burning. Loki chuckles darkly at him.

“Skittish,” he says. “One would think you hadn’t been touched for weeks.”

“Your hands are cold,” Tony snaps back, and grits his teeth way too late to shut himself up already.

“I see,” Loki coos, smotheringly indulgent. “Keep your dignity.”

He slaps Tony’s ass and Tony gasps at the stinging flare of pain.

“Most of it,” Loki adds, and laughs.

Tony fixes his eyes on the dark woven rug between his hands and forces himself to relax. Like he’s sprawled across a deck chair next to his pool, tablet in one hand and a drink in the other, warm and lazy and everything’s perfect…

But it’s not that easy to ignore the cold air and the ache of kneeling on what might as well be concrete, and his skin is blistering under Loki’s gaze, prickling as Tony just stays here waiting for Loki to touch him again, brain churning around what to expect - will he bother with prep or just go straight in? The Asgardians must have invented lubricant, but do they share it with their captives? Tony’s just some anonymous body and Loki can do whatever he wants…

“Now then,” Loki says, and his hand palms Tony’s ass cheek and pulls it aside. Tony flinches at the bite of the cold air and Loki shushes him. “Calm yourself. Let me…”

Tony feels the movement of Loki’s other hand and then a slick wet finger brushes his rim. But Tony knows how this goes, and he exhales slowly and makes himself lean back to show willing.

Because he is. That’s the whole point of this. So what if he’s a little bit nervous, if this might be a little harder than he thought? He can handle himself. Hell, he handled Loki this morning and that was easy.

“That’s better.” Loki starts rubbing his finger slowly up and down over Tony’s rim. “I don’t have to make this hurt.”

It’s slow but it’s also firm, pressing and massaging Tony into loosening up, Loki’s fingers warm and nicely slicked with some sort of oil, and Tony relaxes just a bit further. Loki might be pissed off right now and planning to use Tony just as a distraction, but there’s lube involved. Prep. It won’t be awful.

Loki’s hand lets go of Tony’s ass as he crawls forward to hang over Tony. His slick fingers keep rubbing between Tony’s cheeks as he leans down, hot breath on Tony’s back, and kisses the curve of his spine.

“So beautiful for me,” Loki murmurs, and kisses Tony again, a little lower down, lips warm and soft as they fit around the bone. “Clever and bold and proud.” He licks along one of Tony’s ribs and Tony lets himself - makes himself - moan and twist into the touch.

“I could eat you whole.” Loki crawls another pace up to bite softly at Tony’s shoulder. His fingertip slips inside Tony’s body and Tony gasps at the pressure, rocking back for more before he remembers he shouldn’t want this - except that’s not right, he has to want it or-

“Take all there is of you and leave nothing for your allies to reclaim. You would be glorious at my side.” Loki twists his finger and drives it deeper, and sets his teeth across Tony’s spine and drags them down his back. He leaves a stinging stripe of raw skin, pain sharp and clear and delicious, and Tony feels it run down to his cock and his pulse start throbbing.

“Do you want that? Would you have me refuse to let you go? I’ll defy Thor to keep you with me, Stark. All you need do is beg me for it.”

He buries his finger inside Tony with one smooth thrust and Tony moans and his arms buckle, elbows hitting the ground and forehead falling to press against the rug. He feels Loki’s finger twist and rub delicately at his insides, spreading the oil and probing him open, ready for Loki’s cock.

Loki moves forward to cover him again and leans his head against Tony’s, his mouth by Tony’s ear. “Say you want to be kept and you shall be my prize for as long as I can hold you. Give yourself to me and-”

“I can’t,” Tony grits out through the whirling pleasure-pain storming through him. “Have to go back.”

“Are you sure?”

Yes, I have to-” For Pepper, he has to go back for Pepper - “Loki, don’t, you can’t-”

“Shh.” Loki kisses Tony’s cheek and his neck and his shoulderblade. “Alright. I’ll play by my noble brother’s rules if I must. But tonight, you’re mine.”

He pulls out of Tony and presses back in with two fingers, a burning stretch that fades into shimmering heat as they pump, rubbing oil into Tony’s skin.

Loki works him open casually, fingers smooth and confident. His other hand runs across Tony’s body - tracing the muscles in his back, groping his thigh, teasing strokes along his calves, sketching the pattern of his ribs. It feels like Loki’s mapping him, finding what makes him tick, savoring everything that Tony’s offering him.

Tony feels the fuller pressure of three fingers reaching deep inside him; they crook to rub over his prostate and flood his body with a glittering high, washing out the numb cold. Loki strokes a single finger down Tony’s cock and he groans at the weight of the pleasure, pressing him down into Loki’s hands until there’s nothing else.

“Mine for the taking,” Loki murmurs, and then Tony feels the hot, thick outline of Loki’s cock against his ass, grinding against him. “Do you think you’re ready to submit beneath your conqueror?”

“Fine, do it,” Tony gasps, “just do it already-”

The hand on his cock disappears and slaps his thigh. “No orders, Stark. Beg me.”

Oh, fuck, of course Loki likes that… “Please,” Tony whispers, throat closing on the words he so doesn’t want to say… But the imprint of Loki’s hand stings sharply - Tony’s been beaten down into this, it’s not his fault if he just obeys… “Loki, please just… Don’t make me wait, c’mon…”

Loki’s cock jerks against Tony’s ass and he feels a wet drip of precome. 

“I know you can do better,” he purrs, like Tony can’t feel exactly how much he likes it. “I’ll make you practice that, I think.”

“What, now?

“No,” Loki says simply, and then his fingers disappear and Tony feels the blunt press of his cock against his rim. 

Loki pushes in hard, eased by the prep but not by enough, and Tony gasps for air as Loki crushes it out of his lungs. Loki just fills him, huge and hot and burying himself in Tony’s body like he owns it, and everything inside Tony somehow makes way for him. Loki’s hands on Tony’s hips pull him back onto that thick intruding cock and hold him down, make him take every last inch until Tony feels Loki’s thighs pressed to his own and his cock impossibly deep inside him. 

Loki exhales a long, shaking breath. “Perfect, Stark… Oh, I could do this for…”

Yes, Tony thinks, everything scrambled, yes, he wants more, wants Loki to move and just have him, wants Loki to stroke his cock again, he wants his enemy to fuck him…

It’s like an addiction, he knows it’s wrong but it feels so good…

Loki plants one hand in Tony’s back to hold him steady, and then pulls halfway out and thrusts in again. It’s hot, delicious friction and the burning flare of lust as Loki hits Tony’s prostate, and Tony moans and pushes back against Loki for more.

Loki’s hips shift and start to rock in short, quick thrusts, hands keeping Tony still and his ass held up high. Loki’s thighs rub against Tony’s as he moves forward and his cock slides between Tony’s ass cheeks before plunging back inside him, all warm, soft skin. Tony’s moaning and pushing back into every thrust, wanting more, needing more, if Loki would just give him…

“Touch me,” he pleads, “Loki, please, touch me…”

Loki gasps laughter and fucks him a little bit harder. “I am touching you.” His fingers flex and pat Tony’s hip.

“Goddamn tease…

“You know what you have to do,” Loki says, “you know.”

“Already said please, you…”

“More.” 

Tony summons strength from god knows where and clenches down on Loki’s cock. Loki shouts in pleasure and surprise and Tony grins into the rug as he makes himself go loose again. His muscles spasm with the effort.

“How’s that? I think that’s worth a couple strokes.”

Loki’s laughing as he catches his breath. “You greedy, shameless thing,” he praises. “What I could do with you…”

“Start by touching me!”

Loki’s hand lifts from Tony’s back and then he’s gripping Tony’s cock.

And it’s glorious.

Tony writhes into the pleasure and fucks Loki’s hand - it drags him off the cock in his ass, and he rocks back to take it in again - and forward again for the incredible pressure on his cock, the twisting squeeze of Loki’s fingers, and Tony clenches down in return and Loki gasps.

They move like that, Loki deep and hard and hot, his hand tight and still slicked with the oil, and Tony just loses himself to the feeling of being fucked so right. It’s a sea of pleasure he could drown in, glittering pressure and friction as Loki gives Tony everything he’s begging for. Tony milks Loki’s cock and gets the delicious reward of a hand cupping his balls and rolling them between long fingers, and Loki’s other hand pinning Tony’s head down against the ground in submission - and he’s glad, it feels so good to kneel before Loki like this, held down, Loki’s cock pounding his insides, thrusting and taking and claiming, and Tony moans and shoves his hips back for more.

“Touch yourself,” Loki grits out, and moves his hands to either side of Tony’s head, holding himself up as he leans down over Tony and snaps his hips faster, slamming inside enough to bruise. Tony’s shoulders hit the ground as he lifts an arm to grab his cock like Loki ordered, and starts jerking himself off. His skin is blistering hot and he can feel his pulse hammering lightning-quick, his cock throbbing with need and his hand sweating, and he fucks his own fist and impales himself on Loki’s cock and feels the tantalizing threads of orgasm building low in his stomach.

Loki runs his nails down Tony’s ribs, gropes at his thigh, presses his hand into Tony’s spine, desperately seeking something. His hand slides down Tony’s back and settles on the nape of his neck, and Loki breathes loudly and his fingers curl around to frame Tony’s throat and squeeze.

Tony gasps for air and Loki lets him have it, his grip tight but not cutting, and the almost-pain sense of something wrong cascades down Tony’s body and crashes into the swirling pleasure deep inside him.

Loki’s next thrust nails Tony’s prostate and everything ends; the wave crests and pours down on Tony, pinning him helpless beneath the onslaught surging through him, bliss hot along his nerves as his balls clench and he shoots come onto the ground between his knees. 

Loki fucks him through it and keeps going, hand on Tony’s neck holding him down, thick cock churning his insides. Tony clenches down again, muscles aching deliciously, and Loki snarls and buries himself deep to come in Tony’s ass, filling him with liquid heat. He goes rigid and gives a low moan as his hips twitch, cock sliding through his hot come. 

Tony’s breathing settles slowly, hitching whenever he moves enough to feel Loki’s cock spearing him open, and the ache in his knees starts to show through the haze of pleasure across his body. He reaches up to push Loki’s hand off his neck, except no, he can’t do that, and he lets his arm fall again and lies there until Loki’s done with him.

No responsibility, no decisions. He can just let Loki be in charge of everything, use Tony however he wants, and trust he’ll come out the other end alive.

Tony’d be no fun if Loki killed him, so he’s pretty sure he can trust that far.

Loki still hasn’t moved.

Tony swallows to clear his throat, muscles fighting the weight of Loki’s hand. “Feeling better?”

Loki snarls, and plants both hands on Tony’s ass to shove him away. Tony sprawls onto the ground, elbows stinging against the rugs, ass burning from Loki’s cock ripping out of him, and he breathes weakly and lifts his head to look over his shoulder. 

Loki’s down on his knees, teeth gritted and his hands knotted by his sides. He unfurls them to rake through his hair, eyes bright with anger, and Tony very slowly starts to drag himself around to the opposite side of the fire.

He’s never seen a guy look that pissed after having sex with him.

“I wasn’t that bad, was I?”

Loki glances across to him and softens by the barest of fractions. “You were exquisite. But even you cannot conquer Thor.”

Tony sits up and shifts closer to the fire, holding his hands out for the warmth and to look like he’s only making idle conversation instead of pushing Loki into talking rather than fucking all that anger into Tony, because he wouldn’t survive that. “What’s he done, anyway?”

Though Tony thinks he has a good guess. He heard Thor shouting at Loki for going a bit too far with giving advice, and that’s nothing Loki can have wanted to hear, especially when he’s right that the snow is ruining everything for them. If that’s what Loki’s used to - and Tony’s seen plenty enough to make him think that’s the case - there’s bound to be only so much he can take before he cracks.

Loki rearranges himself on the other side of the fire, staring deep into the flames and curling his arms around his knees, legs pulled up to his chest. “It hardly matters. It is not the first time Thor has offended me and I doubt it will be the last.”

“Don’t kill me for saying this, but your brother’s kind of a jerk, you know.”

That wins a tiny smile. “Few would dare to insult him so.”

“I call it like I see it.”

Loki looks impossibly young. Vulnerable. It’s a strange thought to have about the guy who just fucked Tony into the ground, but Tony can’t deny it. Loki’s wrecked by this. 

“There are times I wish I could be free of him. But I… we are so bound I cannot ever release myself. I wouldn’t even know what to do if I did.”

“Ah, yeah. That one.”

Loki’s head shoots up, something hard snapping over his eyes. “Do you mock me, or-” His teeth click shut and his eyelids slide closed, and the flare of rage washes out of him. He inhales slowly. “Or do you speak as one who knows?”

Tony stops. Shit. Because up until now, everything’s been reasonable. Simple decency. It would’ve been just cruel - and stupid - to shut Loki down when he obviously wants a shoulder to lean on, and Tony’s seen for himself that Thor’s far from the perfect brother. He’s dismissive, ignorant and only spends time with Loki when he wants to, nowhere to be found when it’s Loki looking for his company. 

But this is going further. Listening to Loki is nothing, but sharing anything Tony might have in common… Howard’s neglect, Obie’s betrayal… He shudders at the thought of saying any of that out loud. It’s sickening. It would…

Would encourage Loki to open up even more. Tony thought on day one that SHIELD could exploit whatever cracks there are in Loki and Thor’s relationship, somehow pit them against each other. Anything Tony learns here could end the war.

And Loki might understand my-

Tony shuts that thought right down. Whether he would or not isn’t important. This isn’t about Tony, this is about manipulating Loki into spilling his secrets. If Loki does know what it’s like to be neglected, or betrayed, that only means Tony’s got more leverage to come back and tear the Asgardians apart. 

Loki, betrayed all over again…

“Yeah,” Tony says, before he can talk himself out of it and lose another advantage. “I know.”

Trust me.

Tell me everything.

And then I’m gonna kill you with it.

Chapter Text

Loki looks different.

He doesn’t, really; the lines of his face haven’t changed, the color of his skin and hair, the long-fingered hand curled up on the pillow between them. But now Tony can see past all that, like it’s just a hologram floating over Loki’s internal structure. Now he’s fragile. Brittle. All that immense Asgardian strength means nothing when one push in the wrong place and Loki will shatter.

And that’s exactly what Tony plans to do. Take all of Loki’s whispered pain and stab him in the back with it.

He deserves it, okay? The bastard fucking well deserves it after everything he’s done to Tony. After beating him that first night, stripping him naked, that humiliating collar, after ordering him to his knees to be fucked - all of that, and Loki deserves everything that’s coming to him. 

After he agreed to Tony’s plan, and didn’t kick him out for the entire army to have their fun with…

Yeah, after protecting Tony like that, of course Loki deserves to be betrayed. And the term’s definitely betrayed, because for some reason, Loki actually trusts Tony.

Tony doesn’t know how long they spent last night, sitting with that fire between them as Loki poured out his secrets. Secrets that resonated with Tony far too much for comfort.

I’ll win nothing from this war, you know. Father will heap glories upon Thor for his triumph and not even look upon me. Nothing I have done has ever been enough for him.

Father once told us that we were both born to be kings. But there is only one throne of Asgard, and it will be Thor’s. It has always been Thor’s. Everything is always Thor’s. I stood there the day my father gave away my only birthright, and I smiled.

Thor’s a damn fool who’s going to lead us all to our deaths and think it well-done. He’ll bring Asgard to ruin and still the people will hail him as their golden king.

I cannot stop loving him. Why can’t I stop, Stark?

And there was more. A lot more. Lots of hate, lots of neglect, lots of longing. Thousands of weak spots that Tony can exploit. That was the new plan last night, and like all his plans, it’s brilliant and flawless and he’s going to stick to it. He doesn’t have to be comfortable to use all of Loki’s revealed vulnerabilities against him. 

The brainwashing that keeps the released prisoners quiet is a largely unknown factor - Tony isn’t sure what its limits are, if he’ll even be able to get around it once it’s on him. Maybe he’ll know that the Asgardians are heading for Australia and won’t be able to do a single thing about it. But in here, the brainwashing hasn’t come into play. In here he’s able to do anything he can get away with - he has to, or he might not get another chance. He has to do something. Way back on Friday morning, Tony noticed the tension between Thor and Loki, he’s seen it throughout this whole week, and with what he knows now he could rip them apart. He could shred the Asgardian command structure with half a dozen sentences and set them on each other instead of Earth. 

Loki’s concealed his feelings from Thor for a reason - and no surprise, because Tony’s seen what Thor can do when he’s attacking people who haven’t provoked him. How much worse would it be for Loki, if Thor knew the truth? If Tony goes to Thor right now…

Don’t buy that dutiful little brother act. He’s so jealous he could kill you sometimes. Do you wanna know how many times, because I know, and boy it is a lot.

Tony can leave out the part where Loki was crying while confessing that. Silent tears running down his face, so raw that Tony couldn’t bear to watch.

Tony gave back the barest scraps of his own experiences - though the line my greatest creation might have slipped out at some point - to convince Loki that he understood, to persuade him to keep talking. And opening himself up, even just by a crack, even to someone who doesn’t give a shit about him beyond entertainment during the boring week between battle days, that hurt. Tony can’t comprehend how much trust, how much faith, Loki must have in Tony, to have shared what he did last night; he poured himself out - the distant father and the overwhelming brother, pushed away, passed over, his achievements ignored…

Sound familiar? Tony mocks himself for the fiftieth time. So what? He always knew he couldn’t be the only person in the world who’s desperate for affection from someone who’ll never give it. What’s it matter that Loki’s just as pathetic and lonely as Tony is? If Loki’s actively reaching out for help and they both know Tony could be the right man for the job?

Doesn’t matter, is the answer to that. Nothing matters except getting the Asgardians off his planet, and since he can hardly just ask Loki nicely if his army would leave, they’re going to have to do this the hard way.

Tony has to talk to Thor. Get out of bed right now, before Loki wakes up, head straight to Thor’s tent and sell Loki out. He’s been lying to you this whole time. He doesn’t want you to be king. He’s probably plotting a coup right now.

And Thor would rage and shout and seize Loki by the throat and…

Actually, no. That wouldn’t happen, who does Tony think he’s kidding? Thor wouldn’t do anything. Blind, willfully ignorant Thor would laugh and smack Tony around the head and call him an idiot. Don’t be stupid, of course my brother loves me, he’d say. He’s my brother, what else is he supposed to do? That’s if he didn’t just kill Tony outright for the slander. Thor’s been deluding himself on this account for his entire life, more or less. Some random human prisoner isn’t going to suddenly change his mind.

Tony’s chest actually goes light with relief. If giving away Loki’s secrets won’t get him anywhere, then Tony doesn’t have to do it, does he? Tony can just keep his mouth shut and lose nothing by it, since there’s nothing to gain the other way around. Besides, he already knows about Australia - he doesn’t need to separate Thor and Loki for his stay here to be worthwhile.

It’s not that Tony has a problem with breaking Loki’s trust. No problem at all with deliberately building that trust with the sole intention of using it against him. Totally fine with turning himself into Stane. 

Yeah, and denial is just a river in Egypt. He’s actively nauseated at the thought of what he was about to do. And Tony would have done it, if he’d had to, if there had been no other way. That’s the part that’s really sickening. When push comes to shove, Tony’s exactly the type of person who’ll exploit someone vulnerable and heartbroken. Who’ll make it worse just to get more leverage. He can hardly call Loki an idiot for confiding in his own prisoner when Tony was practically pulling the words straight out of him…

All’s fair in love and war. This is both. For Pepper.

The guilt and the lightness both leave Tony’s chest. He’d have betrayed Loki to save the world, to get himself free, for Pepper. For her, Tony’s happy to do anything. Any price is worth it.

Besides, this isn’t about Loki. Tony’s really just relieved that he worked out the flaws in the plan before he did something stupid, like starting something doomed to fail from the beginning. Nothing to do with Loki at all. Loki, Loki…

Loki’s beautiful when he’s sleeping.

Tony blinks at the stray thought, but it’s true. Loki’s face looks softer, thin lips slightly parted as he breathes, his eyes closed, not sharp or piercing like when he’s awake and staring right through Tony. His hair isn’t slicked back over his head, either, but drifting forwards, strands framing his face and falling across his forehead. Tony almost wants to comb them away, style them like Loki would want. He’s always so well put together, Tony doubts he’d enjoy knowing that anybody could see him like this…

And where the hell did that come from? Why does Tony care about something stupid like that?

God, he’s gotten way too deep in this whole subservient bedslave thing. He might be dependent on Loki’s goodwill to survive, but he’s not actually pleased by Loki’s attentions. Certainly not craving more of them. But that’s the way he’s acting, that’s how he’s surviving, and something in the back of his brain is forgetting that it’s still all a game.

Damn Loki and his gorgeous face and his sexy voice and the compliments.

But Tony doesn’t have to put up with Loki screwing with his head for much longer. Tomorrow’s Wednesday, and as soon as Tony gets out of here he’ll never see Loki again.

We could have been friends, Tony admits. If things had gone differently. Friends with benefits, if things had gone way differently. But things didn’t go differently; they are enemies during wartime and Tony’s only goal is to get Loki and all his kind as far away from him as possible. Dead, or sent back wherever the hell they came from, either will do. Tony wants the world so safe that SHIELD is out of a job. That won’t happen with a single Asgardian so much as touching Earth.

So Loki has to go.

No matter how Tony feels about him.

Dammit, this was supposed to be simple! Straightforward, in and out; survival mode while he spied out all their weaknesses. He wasn’t supposed to actually start liking people. 

A person.

Dammit.

He sighs, and watches Loki’s hair flutter as his breath catches it. 

Loki stirs.

He rolls his shoulders, making the fur blankets shift down to bare his throat, flushed pink with warmth, and his eyes slide open.

“You’ve been watching me, Stark.”

Tony shrugs shamelessly. “What else am I supposed to be watching? Don’t tell me you get HBO here?”

Loki’s eyebrow quirks. “Given that I have no idea what that is, I rather doubt it.”

“Then I guess I’m stuck watching you.”

A smile spreads slowly across Loki’s face. “How fortunate for me that I can so easily command your attention.”

He brings his hand up from under the furs and traces a curve on Tony’s cheek, nail catching on his week-old stubble. Loki presses his hand flat and strokes upwards against the grain of the hair. “Would you like to shave this?”

Tony narrows his eyes at Loki’s expression - thoughtful, and smug. “What’s it going to cost me?” Probably a stupid move, admitting openly that he knows Loki’s up to something, but Loki’s games aren’t his problem anyway. All Tony has to do is keep him happy for the next day and a half, and get out with the information he already has. 

So he can afford to lose at Loki’s game. What’s important is that he keeps playing.

Loki arches an eyebrow critically. “That was a question, Stark, not a bargain. I would rather be liberal with you. Though if you prefer to pay for your gifts, I’m sure I can think of some forfeit.”

Right. Liberal. Yeah, if Tony had been actually thinking about this instead of concentrating on important stuff, he’d probably have caught that. Because it’s true, Loki’s been pretty nice to him, all things considered, and now Tony’s gone and pulled this dick move of apparently not even noticing. Oops.

Tony smiles, and reaches up to take Loki’s hand in his. “Or I can just thank you for your kindness,” he says, low and suggestive, and kisses Loki’s fingers. 

Loki hums in his throat, pleased - Tony’s back on his good side, yes! - and his foot brushes Tony’s leg under the furs, his toes curling against Tony’s skin. He gently presses his hand into the kiss, and his fingers twitch so Tony’s stubble scratches them. “Well-mannered, are you?”

Tony lifts Loki’s hand away just far enough that he can speak, his lips still touching Loki’s skin. “I can be. If I want to.”

“Well, then.” Loki smiles and slides his leg along Tony’s, all warm weight. “I should like to see that.”

Loki rolls away from Tony, throws back the furs and slides languidly out of bed; he’s all elegance and poise and perfect posture as he walks across the tent to the small washstand, lean muscles shifting under his skin, pert ass swaying ever so slightly. 

As evil invading aliens go, Tony certainly could have been stuck with a lot worse. 

Loki picks up the stand and brings it over, the whole thing, with the basin on the top and the towel hanging over a railing on the side, repositions it next to the bed and beckons Tony towards him.

Tony sits where he’s directed, about halfway down the bed and right at the side, and Loki slips onto the mattress behind him and presses up against his back. They’ve sat like this on horseback for hours, but skin against skin feels different, Loki’s chest nicely firm, and warm from being tucked under the furs. Tony’s ribcage expands as he breathes and he can feel himself shifting against Loki, can feel Loki’s breathing in turn, his steady heartbeat in counterpoint to Tony’s. Their skins slide against each other slightly, slicked with sweat from the fire still burning low in the center of the tent, and then there’s Loki’s smoothly hairless chest improving things, as well. 

It is nice. In a purely physical, hedonistic sense.

“Like this,” Loki murmurs, and taps his fingers under Tony’s chin to make him tilt his head back.

Wait a minute.

“Hang on, are you shaving me?”

“Yes.” Loki runs his hand over Tony’s chin. “I assume you’re going to allow me the pleasure. I assure you, you’re quite safe in my hands.”

“Well, you’ll forgive me if safe isn’t the first word that comes to mind.”

“Oh, really?” Loki sounds almost disappointed, but it’s a put-on. Probably. “I suppose not. What does come to mind, then? Perhaps you feel… appreciated? Prized?” Loki bends his neck, point of his chin resting on Tony’s shoulder, and brushes a hand over Tony’s bare thigh. “Aroused?

And fuck it all, because Tony wasn’t aroused before, sitting naked practically in Loki’s lap, but Loki’s voice does things to him when Loki uses it like that, low and rich and promising, and getting in too deep for Tony to dig it out. Loki palms his thigh more firmly and Tony flinches at the heat, the pressure so close to where it should be-

Shouldn’t be, it’s not like he’s into this-

“But we agreed you would thank me,” Loki says, lifting his hand away, “and I haven’t even started yet. You’ll have to wait.”

He reaches around Tony for the basin and dips his hands in the water, and brings them back covered in light foam, apparently Asgardian shaving soap, and that’s a pretty impressive trick, because Tony can see there’s nothing but water in the bowl. Their soap must look like water until it gets bubbly, or…

Loki tuts and nudges Tony to look straight forward again, and then runs his hands over Tony’s cheeks and just lathers him up like there’s nothing weird going on at all, like they’re not two naked men in a bed with magically-appearing foam and about to be incredibly domestic. Like Tony’s not about to let Loki wave literally razor-sharp metal all over his face, when Loki can’t quite see what he’s doing and Tony’s only got his word for it that he’s not going to cut Tony’s nose off…

“Now, be still.”

Then there’s a flash of silver metal in the corner of Tony’s eye, and Loki’s free hand gently cages Tony’s jaw as he slides the razor across his cheek. 

Oh. Loki’s actually really good at this.

The second stroke is just as smooth and clean; Loki’s hand is steady and Tony can feel the air on the bare patch left behind, shaved right down to the skin. Water splashes in the basin as Loki rinses the blade, then turns Tony’s head just so and keeps going, the soft scraping mingling with the sound of their breathing.

Loki’s skin is warm against Tony’s back and his hands are soft, Tony’s shaved skin tingling pleasantly, and Tony feels lassitude start to creep through him until he’s lying in Loki’s arms like he has no problem being there, his eyes drifting shut to enjoy this. Loki’s careful and practiced, his quiet breaths rhythmic in Tony’s ear, and Tony can’t deny that he’s the center of Loki’s attention right now, that there’s a lot of focus going into what Loki’s doing. Tony’s always liked being pampered, on occasion, and the shaving itself is pleasant and Loki’s body against his is better, and he isn’t even afraid of getting nicked anymore.

“You’re pretty good at this,” Tony murmurs when Loki lifts the razor again.

“Am I?” Loki says, distant like he almost doesn’t care, a curl at the end of his tone setting a trap for more compliments. 

“Yep. Last time I used a straight razor on someone else, I almost-”

LOKI!

Tony’s eyes snap open and Loki’s grip on him tightens to iron. Thor’s stormed his way into the tent, the flap still swinging with the force of his entrance, huge silver warhammer hanging from one giant fist and glaring daggers just past Tony’s head.

Adrenaline floods Tony’s body and he tenses even more.Loki’s grip doesn’t give an inch, but he lifts the razor and drags it over Tony’s cheek again like nothing’s wrong. “Good morning, Thor. I’m a little busy, perhaps we could talk later?”

“We had agreed to meet before now. You will speak to me, brother,” Thor rumbles, striding forward. The hammer swings - why is that thing here, Thor can’t be planning to use it… 

Loki, do something…

“If you wish,” Loki says idly. “Just not at this moment, if you can spare me. As I said, I am busy.”

Thor snarls and starts pacing back and forth across the foot of the bed. Loki leans in to get a close look at the corner of Tony’s jaw, pointedly turning his head away from Thor, and Tony’s heart pounds against the reactor. How can Loki be messing around right now? Thor is not to be played around with and Tony doesn’t care about the dumbass big brother who Loki can lead around by the nose, this is Thor-the-commander and he’s angry. At Loki. 

“No,” Thor growls out, stopping mid-pace and turning back to them, “I will not be made to wait while you toy with your human pet!”

Tony does not scowl, does not glare, keeps quiet and takes it. But seriously, pet? He’s got a little more dignity than that, right?

“He was a gift from you,” Loki says like that makes everything okay. “Would you rather I tire of him and send him away?”

“Do you remember where your true loyalties lie?”

Tony feels Loki’s gaze flick up to meet Thor’s. “Do you doubt me?” Loki says, pained. He shaves down Tony’s sideburn without waiting for an answer. “Brother, you know I have nothing in mind but to serve you. But since you do not want my services-”

“Of course I-”

“-I shall not offer them.”

Thor draws himself up even bigger. His bare arms bulge with muscles the size of Tony’s head, but the hammer stays down. For now. “You take offense when none was given! I but told you to guard your tongue, not to withdraw your efforts entirely!”

Loki sighs and finally starts taking this seriously, laying the razor down on the stand. “You’re far too important to tolerate my impertinence. Clearly you had everything well in hand last night, and I was merely distracting you. I will no longer waste your time where I am not welcome. I apologize most humbly for daring to counsel you.” 

Tony’s body locks up even tighter. Stop playing with him! Tony can almost taste the sarcasm pouring out of Loki’s mouth, barely hidden under extremely fake repentance - that last part should have gotten him killed! Thor means business, can’t Loki see that?

But Loki would know, right, if Thor actually meant to start laying out with those massive fists, if Thor were right now calculating the best angle to hurl his hammer straight through Loki’s skull. And Tony’s, given the way they’re sitting. Loki wouldn’t be throwing away his life for something that stupid. So everything must be fine.

And yeah, it is, because Thor exhales a sigh and deflates like a balloon, shoulders relaxing and arms dropping against his sides. “Oh, Loki.” He crosses to the bed and reaches out to wrap his hand around the side of Loki’s neck. “You know I always welcome your advice. Merely know your place when you offer it. We shall halt the march and talk of our plans over lunch.”

Loki inclines his head. “If I know my place. I see.”

Thor claps Loki once on the shoulder, and then looks across Tony again. The bright smile fades and Tony swallows and stares back, fingers twitching for his repulsors. What he’d do for one shot in that smug blond face…

Thor clears his throat and his gaze flickers between them. “We’re moving now, and we have far to go today.”

“Oh,” Loki sighs, disappointed. “Then I shall be ready within minutes.”

Thor nods and then turns away, cape swirling, finally leaving, and Tony breathes for the first time since Thor came in. But Thor stops just before he ducks outside - fuck you, just go! - and looks back at Loki with a smile. “I will make all this up to you.”

“I know.”

Thor vanishes and the tent flap drops back down.

Loki hisses and draws the razor across Tony’s jaw again. “Make it up to me. As if he could! He doesn’t even know what he apologizes for.”

“Pretty sure he knows he cockblocked you just now.”

“That isn’t what offends me,” Loki murmurs. He smoothes a hand over Tony’s bare cheek. “But I had so wanted to taste all this lovely skin I have just found.”

Ooh. Tony feels like he’s missed out too.

No, bad thoughts! Moving on. “Was it just me, or was he angry at me personally for being here? Human pet’s not exactly a compliment.”

Loki slides the razor under Tony’s ear, working around the tricky bone structure with ease. “Thor is used to commanding my full attention. That I lavish so much upon you annoys him magnificently.”

“Want to maybe annoy someone a little less murderous?”

“Where would be the fun in that?”

“In not dying?”

Loki sets the razor down. “I won’t allow him to harm you.”

He swipes the towel from its hanger and starts wiping Tony’s face clean of foam and cut hairs. Tony misses his usual style - and if Loki’s got a shaving kink, that would’ve knocked him dead - but maintaining it takes twenty minutes every day that Tony just doesn’t have to spare with a war on.

But for a clean shave, Loki’s done it very nicely, right down to the skin without nicking him, and no stray patches left undone. One gain from this little captivity stint, Loki’s done a much better job than Tony normally does for himself.

Loki’s fingers thread through Tony’s hair and gently pull his head back to rest on Loki’s shoulder. Loki bends forward and licks along Tony’s jaw, hot wet tongue following the shape of the bone, and Tony shudders. It feels really good, and he can let that be okay, dammit - he can separate his physical sensations from who’s giving them, and this doesn’t mean anything if Tony doesn’t want it to.

Loki goes lower, fits his tongue and lips into Tony’s throat, open kisses that make Tony’s bones melt and his head fall further back to offer himself up. Loki chuckles and gives Tony one parting stroke of that tongue before pulling away just far enough to speak. His breath washes cool over Tony’s spit-slick skin.

“I would have you like this during the ride, if it would not make you ill.”

Tony lifts his arms and twines them behind Loki’s neck, seductive, lacing his fingers together with strands of Loki’s hair between them. “I think I can handle a couple of kisses.”

~

Tony was wrong.

Well, he wasn’t wrong about the kisses; it wasn’t hard - well, it was easy - okay, he enjoyed having Loki practically worshipping him, because Loki’s talented and Tony’s shallow. Plus Loki didn’t ridiculously overdo the almost-sex like Friday; they talked, Loki sharing more accounts of pranking Thor and his friends, and with Loki in a comfortable, attracted-to-Tony mood, Tony dared to offer a few stories of his own antics at parties, board meetings, and various Congressional hearings. Loki definitely has a taste for anything that makes other people look bad; he loved the shit about Congress.

So yeah, today actually went pretty well. It’s just that Loki also has a taste for taking everything really, really far.

I want you to suck my cock, Stark.

Let me watch you finger yourself open, Stark.

How many times do you think you can come, Stark?

Oh, you can do better than that, Stark.

I think I’ll chain you down, Stark.

And yeah, he’s Tony Stark - as Loki is very fond of reminding him - and he’s been a morally reprehensible slut since long before now. A night of intense, fantastic sex is not something he’s going to object to; not even, apparently, when he’s being exploited by the alien holding him captive.

How would you feel about my coming on your face, Stark?

Tony, the big fat hedonistic traitor to humanity that he is, felt goddamn enthusiastic.

He’s been exposed to everything by now and is yet to drop dead from it, so he stretches out his tongue and licks up the last stray drop of Loki’s come from the corner of his mouth. Loki tastes faintly sweet, and salty, and even though this is the second lot of Loki’s come that he’s swallowed, Tony doesn’t feel even slightly sickened. He isn’t nauseous at the thought and his stomach isn’t churning around what’s in it - god, Tony’s acting like this is all right up his alley.

Which it is. He’s been saying all along that everything that happens between him and Loki is just meaningless sex, the same as any of Tony’s other hookups, nothing to get traumatized over, and it’s nice to be proven right. It’s just that it would also be nice to not be liking it quite this much. To care more about the source.

And Tony does care. He knows he’s Loki’s prisoner and that any refusal will earn him a broken neck, knows he has absolutely no choice about doing everything Loki wants. He knows… but he’s kind of forgetting that when Loki’s buried to the hilt inside him, hot and thick and hitting his prostate with every hard, perfect thrust, stroking him off with talented fingers, whispering delicious filth into Tony’s ear, smooth voice cajoling Tony into savoring his own destruction…

Tony sighs and shifts, feeling his thoroughly-used asshole spasm around air and the mingled come and oil dripping out of him. Loki really wasn’t kidding about making up for lost time; he’s getting through all the debauchery he can in the one night left to him, insatiable and demanding and attentive

“Mmm,” Loki purrs, rolling over and prowling across the furs until he’s propped up on his elbows between Tony’s spread legs, inches away from Tony’s hardening cock. “Is this for me?”

Loki stretches out his tongue and wraps his lips around the head before Tony can say a word, and then just like that everything is wet heat and suction and electrifying scrapes of Loki’s teeth in all the right places. Tony moans and tugs at his restraints to ground himself, metal cuffs padded with leather around his wrists and ankles, chaining him splayed open across Loki’s bed. No safewords, no quick-release, and Tony knows that’s bad but Loki’s setting his whole body on fire again, blood surging through him to meet Loki’s hungry mouth sucking him down. Blinding pleasure swirls up behind Tony’s eyes, barely simmered down from the last time, and there’s nothing but Loki, lips wrapped tight around the base of Tony’s cock, tongue massaging the underside in slow, rhythmic strokes, his hands palming Tony’s inner thighs and sliding up and down, the light fall of his hair on Tony’s hips. Tony wants to wrap a hand in that hair and just hold onto him, and he actually tugs at the chain around his wrist even though he knows Loki would never let him get away with it anyway.

Loki lifts a hand from Tony’s thigh to roll his balls between his fingers, and Tony sees stars and his hips make stuttered thrusts into Loki’s touch. Loki laughs and Tony feels the vibrations run all the way up his spine, and Loki pulls back to just circle the tip of Tony’s cock with his tongue.

“Please-” Tony cries, before he even knows he’s going to, and then it’s too late for anything.

Loki laughs at him again and leans up, wraps his fingers around Tony’s cock and squeezes gently. Way too gently, and Tony practically sobs and tries to buck into his grip, and Loki just moves with him and doesn’t give him anything else.

“Louder, Stark.”

Tony grits his teeth and yanks at his chains, pushes his hips up, and Loki’s cruel and cold and braces his hands on Tony’s thighs and shoves him back down.

Loki’s eyes are bright and glittering where they float above Tony. 

“I don’t think I heard you.”

“Please,” Tony whimpers, hips twitching in desperation, god, he needs this, needs Loki’s mouth back - he can still feel the phantom touch of him, hot and wet and tight, but the cold air is real and it’s driving him crazy. “Loki, please…”

“Louder,” Loki sings, and strokes his thumbs down Tony’s inner thighs, and the oversensitive skin almost feels like it’s peeling off. Loki’s so close to where Tony needs him but he’s not moving any further, he’s giving Tony no mercy and he wants him to beg, the sick bastard-

“Please!” Tony shouts, back arching, “Loki, please, I need it - please!”

“Much better.”

Then Loki dives back down onto him, taking Tony straight into his throat. Loki just swallows him effortlessly, his tongue a brand and his teeth sharp and thrilling and perfect, his nose pressed to Tony’s groin, Tony’s whole cock buried in that mouth. Loki takes Tony’s balls again and his other hand works Tony’s ass cheeks apart, a finger prying at his slack hole, still dripping Loki’s come, and Tony gasps and rocks down onto it and Loki slides it all the way in.

It’s pressure and pleasure exactly where he wants it, Loki inside and out, and his fingertip rubs against Tony’s insides, seeking-

He avoids Tony’s prostate carefully and Tony almost screams, hauling on his chains, he needs to come, he can’t take this any longer and - fuck, fuck, if this is what he got from a little begging-

“Loki, god, please, touch me, I need it, need you - come on, Loki, Loki, please-”

Loki’s finger twitches and Tony comes hard. Fire surges through him and breaks him open, and…

He blinks, floating on the afterglow, coming down from a fucking intense high. His nerves are still sparking, pleasure settling along his muscles and making him relax into the furs, blissed out and deliciously tired, aching in all the good places. So good.

Tony makes his eyes focus again and finds Loki, sitting back on his heels between Tony’s legs, smugly licking his lips, eyes locked on Tony’s in return. Loki leans forward and crawls over Tony until he can bend down to kiss him.

Tony tastes himself on Loki’s tongue as it slides against his, feels the heat in Loki’s lips. It’s slow and demanding, Loki pushing deep, simply taking what he wants because Tony’s too limp to do anything else.

Loki drags his tongue once more across Tony’s teeth and breaks the kiss, rearing up a little to hang there over Tony, his hair falling forward and framing his face in dark tendrils. 

“My Stark,” he breathes, and laughs through a smile that looks like he can’t believe his luck. “Mine.”

“Until tomorrow,” Tony says, something poking the back of his brain - he’s not supposed to stay here, Loki can’t just keep him…

The light fades from Loki’s eyes and he nods. “Until tomorrow.”

He stretches out to flick open the cuff on Tony’s right wrist, and then reaches over to get the left. Tony’s hands stay exactly where they are, framed by the open cuffs, because moving is far too much effort. Loki crawls down to release Tony’s ankles too, and then slips off the bed and stands up. 

His pale skin is flushed pink and shining faintly with sweat. It looks good on him, just showing off how indestructible he really is - this is the only thing that Tony’s managed to do to him tonight, get him slightly overworked.

Tony shifts and feels the damage he took, welts from Loki’s fingernails along the outside of his thighs and many, many more down his back, the maybe-bleeding bite on his neck. His ass is probably bruised purple from the pounding it took - fuck, Loki’s strong and not shy about it - and he might have fingerprints on his hips to match. The muscles in his arms and legs are burning faintly, starting to turn into the bad kind, and he tries to twitch his legs shut and groans at the sheer exhausted pain that washes through him.

“You have been hard-used, haven’t you,” Loki says, like he’s not the exact person who did it, and sits down on the bed beside Tony. “But I rather think you enjoyed it.”

He did. Yeah, he did.

Way too much. 

Tony swallows, pleasure turning sour. If he’s begging for Loki and happily licking up his come, how can he know he’s still got a straight head on? How can Tony be sure that when he finally invents a weapon that works, he’ll be fine with shooting it right through Loki’s eye socket?

This night’s been good, and the day was pretty good too, and things between him and Loki - if Tony wanted to admit that there could be things - are going well. But Tony can’t let that get to him. Can’t. He’s got more important things to think about.

Pepper.

Nothing, no matter what, will ever be more important than Pepper.

There aren’t many things in life that Tony Stark has to do, but he does them. And this is one.

He gets back in the game and gives Loki the most charming leer he can manage while he’s fucked to ruin. “Noticed, did you?”

Loki smirks. “I told you, everyone screams in my bed. I make quite sure of that.”

“Nicer than what I was expecting.”

Loki’s eyebrow arches, amused. “What, did you think I torture my partners?”

“Let’s be fair, when you told me, I was in handcuffs and you were swinging a crop around. Sets a certain mood.”

Loki waves it aside. “That was nothing. For Thor’s benefit, not mine.” A slow, wide grin. “Are you interested in more?” Loki runs one finger down Tony’s cheek. “I’m sure I can think of some terrible transgression I have to punish you for.”

Tony’s heart lurches, because he might be able to take getting fucked, but not being tortured like Loki means it - but if he has to, then he will, because that’s the way this goes. If Loki wants to torture him and get off on it then that’s going to happen whether Tony wants it or not.

He plays the shy weak human, turns his face away a little, careful to display the bloody gashes of Loki’s teeth in his neck, looking for what Loki likes to think is mercy. “Maybe don’t think too hard?”

“Oh, we’re finished for tonight.” Loki holds out his other hand and shows Tony the jar of magical painkilling cream, lid already removed. “But I could take tomorrow morning to flog you a little before I let you go.”

Oh, fuck-

Loki laughs at the expression on Tony’s face, and dips his fingers in the cream. “Perhaps not.”

He rubs the cream into Tony’s neck, fingers light and not threatening to choke. Tony just tips his head back and lets Loki attend to him, relief spreading through his body.

~

Loki’s thigh is pleasantly heavy where it lies across both of Tony’s, and his long fingers are stirring slowly through Tony’s hair. They’re tucked together under the furs, Loki’s skin warm and soft where he’s lying against Tony’s side, and Tony feels rested and loose in every way that’s right.

He’s woken up in much worse places.

Loki shifts before Tony opens his eyes, his head sliding across the pillow until his lips are against Tony’s ear. “I have enjoyed your company this week, my Stark,” he breathes. “Your body and your wit. You are clever, and I wish I could…” He sighs, almost regretful, and presses his forehead to Tony’s temple.

Tony stays quiet, not letting Loki know he’s awake. Loki clearly thinks he’s sleeping, and is trying to say goodbye in private, and Tony… Tony’s not going to ruin that for him.

Tony’s not heartless, and he’s seen how Loki looks at him. Loki has a crush - well, hello, he’s got Tony Stark offering blanket permission for everything he can think of, so it’s not exactly surprising. Tony knows the effect he can have when he wants to, and he’s been laying it all over Loki. But this outcome here, this is nothing to do with Tony’s plan, nothing to do with SHIELD or the Asgardians or the war at all. This is just Loki trying to have one moment to himself, and it’s not going to cost Tony anything to give it to him.

“I shall miss you when you are gone,” Loki says, and he sounds so raw, so sincere. Like - and it chills Tony a little - like he really wants Tony to stay.

But what the hell is going on with that? They’ve had two days where they’ve actually bothered being more than civil to each other, and that’s it. Loki found Tony chained up in his tent, that’s the only reason they’re here. How is that supposed to mean anything? It sure hasn’t meant a damn thing to Tony.

They’re enemies at war, and it doesn’t matter if they get along, if Loki’s great in bed, if his smiles when Tony knelt for him were glorious. As soon as Tony’s given back to SHIELD, this whole week never happened. If they ever meet again it’ll be on the battlefield trying to kill each other. 

Loki kisses the corner of Tony’s jaw, and lingers, lips resting on the bone, like he can’t bear to pull away. Loki inhales deeply and his lips part, brushing over Tony’s skin like he’s going to say something else.

Loki’s breath trembles, and in a rush he rolls away and throws the furs back, and then his weight is gone from the bed and Tony’s alone. Cold and light without Loki’s body against his.

He hears Loki moving around the tent, maybe dressing, his breathing still rough and hitching on what Tony refuses to call sobs. It’s smoky in here, or something, or Loki’s stood up too fast and has hiccups. Yeah, that’s why it sounds like he’s choking something back.

Loki grunts as he shoves his feet into his boots - not that Tony actually recognizes that noise, it’s nothing but a wild guess - and then Tony hears the smack of the tent flap being slapped aside, and Loki’s gone.

Tony opens his eyes to the dimly lit tent, blinking against the rough, itchy heat of tears behind his lids, and digs his nails into his thighs. Get a fucking grip.

So Loki’s sad. So maybe Tony’s a bit sad, too, because he only meant to use Loki for shelter during his spying stint, not to actually give him feelings. Or himself. This whole thing between them feels incomplete, like there’s a missing piece that Tony could find, slot into place and make it work, instead of walking away without seeing it through. 

But he also knows he’d never find that missing piece while he was Loki’s prisoner. Loki can pretend to be generous and humane all he wants, but Tony hasn’t forgotten what’s really going on here.

Hasn’t forgotten what Tony himself is really up to, either.

He’s going back, and he’s going to bring the Asgardians down. He’ll find some way to warn SHIELD that the Asgardians are planning to hit Australia, and if that doesn’t work then he will do something about driving a wedge between Thor and Loki…

Australia, yes. If SHIELD can get there ahead of the Asgardians, they can strike right when the rainbow light space elevator drops them - before they get a strong foothold or the entire army through. If SHIELD can work out exactly where the portal or whatever the fuck it is will come down, they can blast the Asgardians with a nuke before they get their energy shield up.

They’ve probably reached the point where SHIELD won’t bother asking Australia’s permission before they do it, especially after being stonewalled by Russia all this time. Sucks to be the Australian countryside at that point, but they’ll deal. 

America has three holes in it from where the missiles splashed off without doing a thing to the Asgardians. At least this time they’ll get a result. This time it’ll be worth something.

Or maybe the Asgardians will get taken down by the poisonous snakes. Or the poisonous spiders. Or the poisonous fish. Or the poisonous rocks.

It should be funny. Tony forces himself to smile, and chokes out a passable laugh. Totally funny.

He flips back the furs and climbs out of the bed. Loki’s left Tony’s clothes across the lounge, as usual, the green shirt with leather pants and jacket, and there’s a steaming bowl of soup on the table waiting for him. 

SHIELD treats him worse than this.

Yeah, because they’re arrogant fucking morons who can take their noble-defenders-of-humanity attitude and shove it up their asses. At least Loki knows a good thing when he sees one.

If it would get him anything, Tony would be tempted to turn traitor and sign up with the guy who admits that Tony actually knows a thing or two. SHIELD is happy to take his suits, but whenever he tries to suggest how they should use them, or offers any other contribution from the mind of a certified genius, they shut him down. You’re not an analyst, Stark. You’re not a solider. You’re a consultant, and we let you in the field because we can’t keep you off it.

Compare that with Loki, who’s called him clever since the first ten minutes they met, and it’s a good thing for SHIELD that Tony isn’t as much of an egotistical maniac as they say he is.

It’s a good thing that changing sides wouldn’t get Tony what he wants.

~

“Guess what, I managed not to get myself killed,” Tony mutters in Romanoff’s ear, and she turns to glare him into silence. Her grudging smile kind of ruins it a little, but she’s right, the last thing they want when they’re so close to getting out is to draw attention.

They’re in a group with the other prisoners from this week, surrounded by armed Asgardians, with Thor and Loki both standing at the front, armored and imposing, gleaming metal and flowing capes. They’re only a few feet away from where the gold wall of the shield heads straight down into the ground, and Tony knows that somewhere out there, there’s a SHIELD contingent just waiting to take everyone back home.

They need it, too. Tony sees bruises and scrapes and scabs on all of the others, and knows he’s sporting his own. Even Romanoff, for all she claimed Thor was gallant and vaguely gentlemanly, is significantly worse for wear; dark handprints across her shoulders, shadows under her eyes like she’s short on sleep, a livid bruise across her cheek.

But they’re all alive, so far as Tony knows, and they’re about to get out of here and put everything behind them. 

Tony’s very carefully not looking at Loki, and from the corner of his eye he sees that Loki’s not looking at him either. Good. It’ll be easier this way, stopping anything stupid before it can start. Tony can just pretend it never happened. Ignore whatever comfortable chemistry they had going, and take his stolen information and get out.

Tony knows about Australia, and if the SHIELD scientists can work out exactly where in Australia, Tony’s job will be all but over.

“Stark,” Romanoff says softly, and Tony looks back up. They’re so close, he only has to do this for another few minutes. So close.

Thor’s lifted his hammer, held out in front of him, and he beckons a single prisoner out of the group. 

After a week in here, the man just obeys without question, limping forward and stopping just beyond the range of the hammer.

Thor smiles, and places it gently against his chest.

The man jerks, and sparks fly over his clothes-

Romanoff grabs Tony and stops him from - he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but something, and the other captives have been blocked by the Asgardians flanking them, holding them back to just watch this guy be electrocuted, what the fuck is Thor doing?

Thor lifts his chin and speaks in a deep voice that carries across the whole field. “Swear never to speak or communicate to another soul anything that you have learned or seen while in our custody.”

The man stutters and looks around for help, for somebody to explain and make things make sense, and it’s Loki, standing a few steps behind Thor, who looks at him and nods.

“I… I swear?”

“Good,” Thor says; he lowers the hammer and the sparks just disappear. He claps the man hard on the shoulder, and shoves him towards the shield.

It parts, splitting open to let the outside stream in - blue sky and white snow, and Tony can’t help staring like an idiot, because it’s Earth again, it’s really out there… The man practically runs through the gap, and he’s out and free.

Free.

Tony stops trying to fight Romanoff. Now he sees what’s going on here. This is the brainwashing silence scam that keeps everybody shut up about what goes on in here. It’s all Thor swinging a big hammer and asking for a promise… and this shit works? How the fuck does it work? Promises are bullshit, everybody past kindergarten knows that, and saying a couple of words has never done anything to a person’s mind the way this does.

But it does work, Tony knows that for sure; somehow Thor’s making them keep these promises.

Thor’s holding the hammer against a woman’s chest now, and says it again: “Swear never to speak or communicate to another soul anything you have learned or seen while in our custody.”

Speak or communicate, that takes out writing and sign language and any other sneaky way to get around the speech ban. Learned or seen is pretty broad, too, that must come damn close to covering absolutely everything, if it doesn’t actually. Any covert information was learned; all activity, seen. Somehow that must also cover getting plowed from behind, because nobody’s been able to talk about that, either.

Another soul, then - if there’s a weak point in the vow, it’s got to be that. Clearly, the fact that Tony doesn’t believe in souls isn’t going to be enough, or somebody else would have gotten around it by now. Since it’s specified as another soul, maybe you can talk to yourself, and be ‘accidentally’ overheard… No, because that’s still communicating it, and the wording doesn’t care about whether it’s deliberate or not.

If Tony just grabbed a suit and flew to Australia, would it count as communication if SHIELD worked out why he was going?

Well, it’s not like he’s never done everything himself before. He can learn how to detect impossible wormhole portals overnight, sure, and set up a sensor network down Australia’s entire east coast, no problem…

About six of them have gone through now, and Thor picks out Romanoff next.

She walks up, and ducks him a tiny curtsey, the flowing Asgardian dress making it look graceful and natural instead of stupid. Thor smiles, and lifts her chin with two fingers.

“I shall miss you, Natalie,” he says warmly. “I wish you good fortune.”

She ducks her head again and says something too low for Tony to hear, but it makes Thor chuckle before he lifts the hammer and places it gently against her sternum. Sparks dance over her.

“Swear never to speak…”

There’s got to be a way to break this stupid promise. Something that nobody else has thought of before. Maybe learned is the key - if Tony just offered Fury his guesses, would that count as sharing things he’s learned?

Technically he’s only guessed about Australia, after all - he’s learned they’re going somewhere, but Australia in particular, maybe not…

Does Jarvis have a soul? Tony smothers his grin. That might work…

Romanoff walks through the hole in the shield with a swish of alien fabric.

Thor beckons Tony up.

Okay. Tony’s going to get out of here, he’s going to be fine. He keeps his eyes fixed on the shield, and walks over. Nothing to worry about here, it’s just some stupid brainwashing and Tony already has some good leads on how to get around it - he can let the aliens fuck with his head, it’s all okay..

Tony takes the last step and stops, and Thor lifts the hammer and touches it to his chest. To the reactor-

Oh shit-

But there’s nothing, nothing from the interaction between one very impossible alien artifact and one near-impossible human artifact, when there should have been something going on with two energy sources of this magnitude, and where the fuck is the static electricity that should be crawling all over Tony right now, because there’s nothing.

Something’s wrong, something…

Tony takes a step back. “Wait, it’s not-”

Thor grabs Tony’s arm and yanks him in close, lifts the hammer again and grinds it hard to Tony’s chest.

Don’t-

Nothing.

Thor frowns and lowers the hammer. “Loki, it’s not working.”

Loki hisses and strides up to Thor’s side. “Then you’re doing it wro-”

He sees Tony, actually meets his eyes for the first time all day, and goes very, very still. His gaze flicks up and down Tony’s body, and settles on his chest.

Tony’s blood runs cold.

“Oh…” Loki sighs, and reaches out and wraps his fingers in Tony’s collar and just rips his shirt open.

Blue light hits both Asgardians’ faces. Thor’s eyes go wide, and Loki…

Loki’s are shut down, flat and expressionless. His pupils are spiked with glowing blue pinpricks.

“Loki, what is this?” Thor demands.

Loki lets go of Tony’s shirt and brushes his fingers over the reactor, and Tony tries not to shiver but no way is he going to let Loki just take it out, he’s not going to die here, he’ll work out what’s going on and he’ll think of something.

“Loki-”

Loki’s eyes snap to Tony’s and his teeth bare in a snarl, and he grabs Tony by the throat and squeezes.

Chapter Text

Loki throws him to the ground and air surges through the screaming fire in his throat and lungs. His vision is almost completely black and he can taste acid but he’s finally breathing- coughing and spluttering and it’s barely enough and it hurts, but he has sweet, sweet air and he’s not dead yet. After being strangled the whole time Loki was dragging him here, he almost didn’t think…

Tony starts to slow his breaths, taming them back to something regular, easing up the pressure on his throat and cutting off hyperventilation before he can do something stupid like pass out from too much oxygen. He lifts a hand to massage the bruises-

And he’s stopped short by something hard and cold around his wrist. Tony looks up.

He’s wearing those heavy silver cuffs again, and they’re wrapped around Loki’s tent pole.

An entire week, and he’s right back where he started.

He shuts his eyes and exhales through his nose, welcoming the unnatural sharp calm settling into him, his response in the place of panic. This is not the time to be getting pissed at how close he was to making it, at his own body for fucking him over again. Now more than ever, he has to be very, very careful. Loki is entirely capable of killing him, and halfway willing, and Tony has the swollen handprint around his neck to prove it. 

But there’s got to be some way out of this. Some way to explain what happened.

“Loki, listen,” Tony starts, pushing himself up to his hands and knees, “it’s not-”

“Enough,” Loki says, cold and curt, standing by the table with his back towards Tony. “You will not charm your way into my affections again.”

Oh, fuck. Tony folds to the ground, head resting on his flat forearms. All that work he put into getting Loki to like him, and this mess with the reactor has torn it down completely.

But he can’t believe that. There’s got to be something left for Tony to use.

“Just talk to me. I don’t know what’s happening, I don’t know why the hammer didn’t work on me-”

Enough!” Loki shouts, spinning to face him. His hand flies out with a knife clenched in it, the point aimed right at Tony’s eyes.

Loki takes two slow steps towards him, measured and careful and getting way too close even though he’s really nowhere near. His fingers tighten on the hilt of the knife, wrist tilting to keep it angled at Tony. “I of all people can hardly fault you for lying. For deception. No, it was beautifully done. You fooled even me. But have the grace to admit your lies when you are caught in them!”

“Loki, I swear-”

Loki actually laughs, high and sharp and disbelieving. “You? Swear? You are an oathbreaker and a liar and your very purpose here was to avoid swearing that vow.”

He rushes down towards Tony and then the tip of the knife is resting just below Tony’s eye, Loki crouched in front of him and his other hand on the side of Tony’s head, holding him still like Tony would even consider moving at this moment. Just his breathing is making the metal dig into his skin, on the very edge of cutting it.

“Confess, Stark,” Loki says softly. “The least you owe me is one honest word before I kill you.”

“Okay, just - just tell me what I’m supposed to be confessing to, and we’ll go from there, okay?”

Loki sighs, and lowers the knife - Tony’s head falls forward, tension snapping out of him - and then Loki taps it against the reactor, clicking it against the glass, and Tony freezes again.

“This device. What do you call it?”

“It’s an arc reactor. But it’s nothing to do with-”

Loki moves - surges upright and then kicks Tony hard to the ground, plants his boot in Tony’s back and pins him down, and Tony grits his teeth at the crushing pain bursting through his chest. “I swallowed that lie once,” Loki says. “I trusted your word. When you begged me to leave it be, I did. Is this how you repay my kindness? What have I done to deserve your betrayal?”

“I didn’t do anything! I don’t know why your brother’s hammer didn’t spark me up!”

“The truth, Stark! This device, you knew it would block magic. You had it put inside you for that very reason.”

Oh, god, that’s what Loki thinks is going on here? “And a fat lot of good it’s done me,” Tony spits, pushing up - Loki’s foot digs in harder in warning and Tony goes limp, raising his cuffed hands in surrender. Loki backs off a little and lets him breathe, and Tony’s not going to try that again. “Let’s pretend for just a second that that was my plan, it’s landed me in a goddamn fabulous place now, hasn’t it?”

“It is no great stretch to think you would abuse my goodwill enough to beg prettily to be let go without swearing your oath.”

Have I? Have I done anything like that? Look at me, Loki, seriously, am I begging to be let go?”

Loki’s foot lifts and he kicks Tony onto his back, arms twisted above his head. Tony’s chest aches bone-deep, new bruises blooming over the ones barely healed. Loki goes down to one knee next to him and balances the knife on the reactor, one finger on the hilt to hold it upright. 

“I remember how you beg. Loki, please!” he mocks, and Tony shudders. “You wish only to sway me to sympathy once again. No more, Stark. Tell me what this is.”

“It’s crazy! Utter bullshit, your whole fucking theory is bullshit. Magic is bullshit, and I don’t care what you think you know, there’s no such thing! How am I supposed to build a shield that blocks something that doesn’t exist?

“Why else a wound so fresh?” Loki circles the reactor with the fingers of his other hand, scraping his nails across the scars.

Fresh?

“Oh, come. I may not know much of your people, but this cannot have been done more than a few weeks ago!”

“Yeah, right, try an entire year.”

Loki laughs and shakes his head. “If you insist on lying to me, do try something I might fall for.”

Tony wants to scream. “Why the hell would you think this is a few weeks old? You said it yourself, you don’t know jack. Trust me, I was there, and a few weeks in it was still bleeding around the edges when I sneezed.”

“Ridiculous. Your kind are weak, yes, but no creature can be so weak as that.”

“But you know that’s not true, don’t you,” Tony says, desperate, and reaches to seize Loki’s wrist - he’s caught by the cuffs, and just rushes on. “Listen - Friday, remember Friday? You thought everything was fine and it wasn’t. Remember how much it wasn’t? So believe this, too, because fuck knows I have no other choice. I am as weak as that, and probably a hell of a lot more. This is the only thing keeping me alive right now. It’s not about you.”

This has never been about you!

Doubt flickers across Loki’s face - brief, but it’s there - and he does remember, he’s wrong about everything here and now he might have noticed.

“Come on, look at me!” Tony arches his back and lifts his chest, ripped shirt falling open, displaying the scabbed bites in his shoulder, the raw clawed scratches from Loki’s nails. “How slow do you want me to heal? These are going to take a few weeks to patch up. So that’s not what the reactor’s about, okay? I had it months before you guys even got here.”

Loki glances across Tony’s chest, eyes jumping between the marks, and he lifts the knife from the reactor.

“The truth,” he says, very softly. “All of it. What is this?”

Tony goes almost limp in relief. “It’s called an arc reactor. Power source for an electromagnet protecting my heart. Take it out and I’ll start dying.”

“That is all? Then why does it block magic?”

“I don’t know! But…” Loki’s calling it magic, but Tony saw electrical sparks, dispersed evenly across the body - yeah, metal would mess up that part, for sure… “But I’m guessing it just absorbed it. Probably converted it into extra power.”

“Well, then.” Loki sits back on his heels, another step away from imminent murder. “Remove it.”

Or not.

“No.”

Loki growls. “Stark-”

“I’m going to assume you missed the part where I said it’s the only thing keeping me from dying.

Loki tosses his head. “It is also the only thing keeping you from leaving this camp. I thought you wished to be returned to your people when the time came. You may replace it afterwards.”

“Thanks for the permission to not die,” Tony growls before he gets a grip on himself. “Anyway, I’m pretty sure your problem’s less the reactor and more the electromagnet, because that’s going to draw in the light show even more if it can’t find another power source. And that part, you’d have to literally rip out of my chest to get rid of it. Don’t think you’re interested in a hole gushing blood, or you’d have done it already.”

Loki stands and paces away, green cape swishing in his wake, and Tony drags himself upright, sitting slumped against the tent pole. “Loki, please. Don’t believe me, fine, but that won’t change anything. I can’t take the electromagnet out.”

Loki stops dead. “Then you cannot leave.”

“What? No, that’s the deal here, you let everybody go-”

Loki turns back to him, unsmiling. “You cannot leave without giving your oath of silence, and you cannot make the oath. Whatever pleasantries we have shared, I am not fool enough to think I have won your loyalty, that you would not resume the fight once released. Your duty is to your people. As mine is to my brother. I cannot leave you free to use the secrets you have no doubt been collecting.”

Tony swallows, and tries very, very hard not to look guilty as sin. Because Loki is so close to being right about everything - collecting secrets is entirely what Tony came here for, he does have a very important secret he wants to use, and if he’d had a plan to avoid making the oath in the first place, yeah, he probably would’ve set it in motion. It’s just the method that Loki’s wrong about, because the arc reactor has never been anything to do with any of this.

But now it is, and Loki’s right. The Asgardians won’t let him go.

Everything in Tony’s body goes numb, like all the energy is drained from his component atoms and they fall apart. If he can’t get out, everything he’s done until this moment is worthless. If he can’t end this war, can’t save people, can’t get back to SHIELD, then nothing means anything anymore. He’s only here to make the Asgardians leave, and how is he supposed to do that without his tech? Without Jarvis, without his suits? No, now he really is their prisoner, and he’ll be dragged along to Australia with them and sit there waiting for SHIELD to catch up while the Asgardians go off and start slaughtering everybody, and he’ll know that if things had gone right for once in his entire life, he would have been able to stop it.

If only he’d told Romanoff.

God, if he hadn’t been so arrogant, so sure that he’d pulled one over on the Asgardians and everything was coming up roses, he might have thought to double the chances of getting the information out and just told her. The Asgardians are going to hit Australia. That’s all it would have taken. She could have done something from there. She’s smart, used to working under hard conditions; maybe she could have found a loophole in the oath too.

Maybe she will. She’s just got nothing to say.

Fuck, he was stupid. Tony was so fucking stupid, and just like always he’s done all this to himself. He was too stupid to see that Stane was dealing under the table and he paid the price; too stupid to realize what the palladium would do to him, too stupid to save himself without SHIELD and Howard’s help; too stupid to see that he wasn’t the right man for this mission, and now he’s stuck here.

He’s got nothing left.

Nothing…

So if he tried to, say, blow a hole in the Asgardians’ shield, and didn’t carry it off, he wouldn’t lose anything. He’s got nothing left to lose.

But if he succeeded… If he could get out and finish the mission…

Loki kneels down right in front of him, and raises his hands to cup Tony’s face. “I’m sorry.”

Tony blinks. “You’re what?”

Loki bows his head, looking practically ashamed. “I speak of my kindness and your betrayal, when I turned upon you at the first seed of doubt. Well, I told you that I would not treat treachery lightly.” He tries to laugh; it comes out weak and stilted. “I suppose I ought to punish myself for it, then.”

“Hey,” Tony whispers, and leans in to press his forehead against Loki’s, in lieu of being able to do anything tender with his hands. “That’s not necessary. I wouldn’t trust me either.”

Loki’s exhale is shakily drawn out. “Then you agree I had reason? I was not cruel to strike at you so quickly?”

God, Tony feels like he’s standing on a mine of Loki’s triggers. This isn’t the first time he’s tried to apologize for being cruel, somehow torn up inside at the thought. No, Loki likes playing the lordly captor, all chivalry and graciousness, getting satisfaction without straining his moral compass; it hits him hard when he breaks that role. It’s a big red flag standing on top of where he needs the most reassurance.

And if Tony gives it to him, maybe Loki will let him go again. Give him a second chance. And then he’ll blow their shield sky-high and get out.

“You’re not cruel,” Tony whispers. Twists the knife; “I forgive you.”

Tony sees a tear fall to the rugs between their knees, and it’s not his.

Loki strokes his thumbs over Tony’s cheekbones. “You’ll stay, won’t you?”

“Stay - stay where?”

“With me. If you can’t leave the camp, if you have to stay - you’ll stay with me?”

Where else does he think Tony’s going to go? Where else does he think Tony’s allowed to go? Tony’s pretty sure he’s not a library book that needs to be returned to Thor on the due date. Loki can do whatever he likes.

Yeah, and look where that’s got him. Loki wants to think he’s being kind; he can’t do that if he trips too blatantly over Tony’s boundaries, and he always finds the ones that blow up in his face. No wonder he’s asking someone for permission now, even if it is his own prisoner.

“Sure, Loki, sure I’ll stay. I’m yours, remember?”

Loki lifts his head and meets Tony’s eyes. Loki’s are swimming with tears, flushed red, but his smile breaks through. “Do you promise?”

“I promise,” Tony says, eyes on Loki’s and voice filled with every ounce of sincerity he can muster. “I promise I’ll be yours. I’ll be good.”

But here’s the thing: they’re just words. Thor’s giant mystical hammer is nowhere in sight.

Tony’s promise isn’t worth spit.

~

Half an hour, and Loki still hasn’t said anything. 

He’s moved enough to uncuff Tony and let him sit up straight, but that’s pretty much it, because the next thing he did after that was to curl up in Tony’s lap and just stay there. His head is pillowed heavy on Tony’s thigh and he has a hand curled around Tony’s leg just below his knee, fingers stroking. Tony’s finally stopped feeling the pain where Loki’s armor digs into his flesh, at least, and combing Loki’s hair with his hands is definitely better than being murdered. 

But now he thinks he knows what happened to the six people who haven’t come back. Anyone wearing a pacemaker, or enough pins holding a broken bone together - just metal in their body for whatever reason - could have failed the electric hammer vow thing, been accused of spying, and killed for it. Being dragged away from the scene of the crime so Loki could execute him in private probably isn’t the norm - Tony got his chance because Loki liked him too much to kill him without being certain. The Asgardians can’t all be willing to listen like Loki finally was, can’t all be emotional wrecks with cracks to exploit, and Tony only managed that by the skin of his teeth.

And it sounds horrible that people are dying in here for such a stupid reason, but Tony knows that SHIELD would do the exact same thing. Not that they’d ever be so gracious as to default to letting captured Asgardians out again. But they’d punish anybody caught trying to escape, or committing sabotage, or spying. Hell, corporate espionage is a serious crime.

But then, SHIELD wouldn’t be doing this, would they. Tony can’t picture Fury or Romanoff or Hill - hell, or himself - tucked up against an Asgardian captive, seeking comfort of all things. SHIELD’s above the constant abuse and manipulation of their prisoners, too.

He hopes they are.

Because yeah, that happens on Earth too, just everybody likes to pretend it doesn’t. There are survivors out there right now who’ve been through it from the hands of people just like them, not even aliens with impossible strength and technology. The world isn’t nearly as nice as people want to think it is.

It doesn’t excuse what the Asgardians are doing, what Loki’s done to Tony. If Tony had been taken by bad luck, hadn’t had a plan, he can’t imagine this week would have gone any differently. He wonders how many other people Loki’s found chained to his tent pole, buying their lives with compliance. How many of them Loki’s taken advantage of.

Tony looks down at Loki himself, face pressed to the leather of Tony’s pants, hand around his leg like Loki’s afraid he’ll leave. How much blood is on that hand? It held a knife just thirty minutes ago; how many times has that knife been used?

And how many people has Tony killed? The terrorists in Afghanistan would’ve had families, people who missed them. How many of them started out as prisoners like Yinsen, and picked up a gun and played along just to keep themselves safe? Tony was apparently arming them; any military would have happily dropped a bomb on the camp and never regretted killing the man supplying the terrorists with missiles. How many people have died because the great Tony Stark couldn’t keep his own company, his own weapons, under his control until now? How many loved ones would be cursing him if only they knew who to blame?

How did he let everything go so wrong?

Maybe you did too, huh, Tony thinks, glancing down at the fall of Loki’s black hair between his fingers. Tony can be generous enough to give someone else a free pass, after what he’s gotten away with. Maybe Loki’s just as fucked-up as Tony in more ways than one.

Loki’s lying in his prisoner’s lap trying not to cry. Something is fucked up here.

Maybe everybody’s guilty. Not just Loki and Thor and all the Asgardians. SHIELD, too. Tony himself, with what he’s done and what he wants. Maybe the world isn’t worth saving. Maybe the Asgardians have the right idea, killing everybody in a blaze of glory and leaving nothing behind.

No. There are some people worth protecting. Somebody out there better than all the filth and pain.

Pepper.

Some light in the world worth fighting for.

Tony has to hold on to that. Has to get out and make things right. Has to do whatever it takes to get this done. 

Loki squeezes Tony’s leg, and shifts. “I must go.”

“Go? Go where?”

Loki gets a hand to the ground and pushes himself upright. “Thor holds a feast on the eve of every battle. My attendance is commanded, and you… you may come if you wish.”

“I’m pretty sure having the enemy at your party would kill the mood a bit.”

Loki tosses his head, and runs his hands over his hair to smooth it back from his face. “I do not care what Thor thinks. He will tolerate your presence if he wishes me to even acknowledge his existence tonight.”

Loki stands and walks over to the mirror hanging from the tent pole in the corner by the washstand. He tugs his cape to hang straight and adjusts some of the buckles on his elaborate gold armor. “But I understand if you do not wish to celebrate the imminent attack upon your own people. It is inescapable, but you need not revel in it.”

“Yeah,” Tony says, seizing on the excuse. “Think I’ll stay put, if it’s all the same to you.”

“The company will be vile without you, but I owe you a few favors.” Loki turns back and spreads his hands. “Well? Am I presentable?”

Tony eyes him up and down. The polished gold armor practically glows against the green-gray leather he’s wearing underneath it, cloak rippling down his back in a brilliant wash of color. The full armor makes him look a lot broader and stronger than usual, not slim and graceful the way his fitted, sleek leather jackets show off; Tony thinks he prefers Loki that way, but still…

He does look good.

Tony walks up and kneels to tuck one pants leg more securely into the top of Loki’s high boot, and kisses Loki’s thigh while he’s down there, the leather warm and smooth against his lips. Maybe a bit overboard, but that’s the role he needs to play. “Perfect.”

Loki extends a hand to pull him to his feet; when Tony gets back face-to-face with him, Loki’s smiling. “I’ll be gone quite a while, I’m afraid. At least until nightfall. Read some of my books, if you wish, and I shall be sure to have a meal sent to you.”

Tony bows his head. “Thank you.”

Loki nods, and reaches up to caress Tony’s cheek, a brief sketch with soft fingertips, before lowering Tony’s hand and walking away. The tent flap falls shut behind him, and Tony exhales a long, long breath, willing Loki’s touch to fade out of his skin.

Given that Tony started out a hair away from being choked to death, he’d call this a success. Loki’s going to disappear for the rest of the day, faithfully expecting to come back to his happily devoted little warprize. The last thing he expects right now is for Tony to turn against him.

And that’s exactly the way Tony wants him.

~

Tony strides confidently out of the tent like there’s no way in the world anyone would dream of stopping him.

And nobody does, since there isn’t even the usual sentry outside. Looks like everybody rocks up when Thor’s throwing the party. It’s nicely ironic, the idea that celebrating tomorrow’s slaughter of humans is the very thing that’s going to allow this human to do whatever he wants. 

Well, nearly. Tony’s thought about this during the hour he left between Loki heading out and moving himself, and given that Loki very specifically said feast, Tony can’t afford to go anywhere near their stores of food with an eye to burning them down or something. That would definitely get noticed before anything useful happened, and besides, they’re mostly raiding farms as they march. It’d just be stupid to give them more reason to strike. Likewise, he doesn’t want to look too hard for their amazing healing medicines, because those are probably in the same place as their food, especially considering that at least one amazing healing medicine is food. 

So he’s going for the next best thing: straight-up escape, and just maybe he’ll bring the shield down with it.

He can hear the party, loud cheering and shouting somewhere to his right, so he spins on his heel and heads left. He hasn’t been able to spot a single weakness or irregularity in the shield, so one spot to attack is as good as any other, and the last thing he wants is to get caught being suspicious again after this morning’s near miss. 

So he weaves around the tents and aims for the glittery gold light, nice and sedate, the excuse stretching my legs ready if needed. He keeps tapping at the arc reactor, a stupid nervous tic that he strangles every time he notices it. But so he’s nervous, sue him - he’s about to play around with enormous amounts of energy that go way beyond the accepted laws of physics and has pretty much no idea what’s going to happen.

His other hand is holding the straight razor he nicked from Loki’s washstand, and he’s slapping that gently against his thigh, which isn’t much better. He shouldn’t be carrying it like this at all, really, out in the open where anyone could see it, but he doesn’t have any pockets and it is sure as hell not going down his pants. But he hasn’t seen any sign of a single Asgardian anywhere - they’ve even let the small fires between the tents die down to embers - and thus far, everything’s going great.

He ducks between two tents, and then the shield is right there.

It’s exactly the same setup as this morning, the yellow wall of light disappearing into the ground, a clear space between it and the nearest tents. Tony crouches down beside one of them, and sets to work.

He reaches inside his shirt, twists the arc reactor in its casing, and pulls it free.

He’s got thirty minutes of charge in the battery that’s built into the housing - safety precaution after Stane - and after that runs out he’s got seven days at absolute most before the shrapnel gets close enough to kill him. Assuming Yinsen was right on the about-a-week life expectancy to start with, and that Tony doesn’t have any bits that are closer than they should be, and it doesn’t count the total time that Tony’s already been without the electromagnet running.

But it doesn’t matter. This is the only card in his hand, and he’s damn well going to play it. Even if all that happens is it does kill him, what’s it going to change? If he can’t end the war, he might as well go out trying instead of spreading his legs for Loki.

Tony’s a morally reprehensible slut, but he does have some principles.

He flips the razor in his other hand, and pries off the back cover of the reactor. He’s never done this before but he knows exactly how it should go - genius, after all - and he tweaks the little circuits into their new positions with only a little difficulty caused by the inherent poor fit of his tool. It’s safe enough, with the power self-stabilized, but as soon as he gives it somewhere else to go… 

He finishes, slots the cover back into place to keep everything still, and looks around himself carefully. 

The shield wall is about twenty-five feet away from the nearest tent; not really very far, when he doesn’t know how big a boom this is going to produce. But that falls squarely under the category of nothing to lose, so go for it.

He can’t believe he’s about to do something this stupid.

Then again, it’s probably still not the most stupid thing he’s ever done.

He hefts the reactor in his hand and throws it hard - a nice high path, plenty of hang time - and dives behind the nearest tent and buries his head under his arms.

One Mississippi, tw-

The reactor hits the shield and everything goes white.

The air explodes past him, a hot whirlwind that rocks the tents, ripping at the canvas, and then Tony’s hit by the sound of it, the energy shield tearing itself apart, cracking lightning and something like the roar of a forest fire, and he waits until it dies down to levels he can actually hear and not just feel in his body. Then he lifts his head and crawls around the side of the tent to take a look.

The ragged edges of the shield snap sparks, framing blue sky and cold air streaming in - there’s a huge hole in the shield right there in front of him - it actually worked! 

Tony staggers to his feet and just runs for it. He can’t believe it’s worked, can’t believe it was that easy, but of course the energy shield would short-circuit when it came into contact with a power source like the reactor, of course it would fail catastrophically, and all he has to do is get out-

His feet are ripped from under him and he crashes to the ground.

No!

He rolls to get up again, and something heavy slams him down and hands lock around his wrists-

Loki.

He’s straddling Tony’s hips and holding his hands to the ground, effortlessly stronger and there’s no way Tony’s getting out of this now - no, Loki must have been following him right from the start; he never had a chance at all. 

A manic grin stretches Loki’s lips wide. 

“Let’s try this again, shall we?”

Chapter Text

“Don’t look so appalled,” Loki chides, and drags Tony’s wrists together so he can hold them both down with one hand. He strokes the other down Tony’s cheek, effortlessly sweet and gentle like he was in the quiet moments between them during the week. “I’m really rather impressed.”

Tony isn’t. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Loki’s grin widens. “Deception and duplicity. You carry such things very well. Better than pure subservience; you try too hard at that. It’s a lovely lie, but too much to swallow.”

“Thanks for your input,” Tony says sarcastically, and shifts under Loki’s weight. Loki smiles indulgently and lets him struggle, because they both know Tony can’t throw Loki off and can’t get his wrists free. But it’s worth trying, even just to see if Loki will let him up because he could run Tony down in two seconds flat if he tried anything more. But apparently Loki’s happy where he is, because he doesn’t give Tony an inch.

Not that it matters. The reactor’s gone and he’s still stuck here, and there’s no way Loki’s going to give him another last chance. 

He gives up.

Loki strokes Tony’s cheek again. “You’ve done well. You’re worthless to me if you’re easily cowed, if you surrender completely just for anyone’s asking. And your plan was a good one. Elegant. You would have been successful if I hadn’t intervened.” He leans down and presses his cheek to Tony’s, and whispers in his ear. “I admire cunning. I admire deceit, cleverness, creativity. I am well-pleased you have all these and more. But never again turn them upon me.”

Tony snarls and jerks against Loki’s grip. “Why the hell not? What do you think I owe you? Get this straight, I am not going to sit on my ass and let you pet me whenever you get tired of killing people!”

Loki sits upright again, eyebrow arched. “You refuse me now? What would you prefer? You will not leave this camp, Tony Stark, I trust you have proved that to yourself. Would you rather spit on my generosity and starve? Perish in the cold? Would you truly spite yourself to death before being mine?”

Tony bares his teeth. “I’m not giving you a fucking thing.”

Loki sighs and shakes his head. “Where are your loyalties? You can’t help your people anymore. This war is over for you. What more is stopping you from taking what you can for yourself?”

“You think I want this? Want you?

Loki smirks. “I know you do.” He rolls his hips down against Tony’s, disgustingly suggestive. “Whatever stands between you and your desire, you do desire me. I have tasted your pleasure, and that at least was no lie.”

That just makes you a pathetic murdering rapist.

The word hangs between them, and the smirk fades from Loki’s face. He goes cold instead, and statue-still; Tony’s not even sure he’s breathing anymore. Truth hurts, doesn’t it, you bastard?

So what if Loki’s going to kill him for it? He’s already dying.

Frozen seconds tick away in Tony’s head. Then Loki inhales and comes back to life in a rush; his fingers twitch around Tony’s wrists. “Is that so?” He tilts his head sideways, regarding Tony like he’s a puzzle to be solved. “Then what will it take? What must I do for you to stop fighting me? I would have you by my side and at my feet and beneath me on your back-” Loki grins sharply and runs his tongue across his white teeth, “and more ways besides. I want you, Tony Stark - what is it that you want in return? Wealth, power, knowledge, pleasure…”

Tony glares upwards. “I want you off my planet. Every single one of you.”

Loki’s eyes flicker between both of Tony’s; his lips press into a thin, angry line.

He stands in a rush and yanks Tony up by his wrists. Tony staggers to catch his balance as Loki jerks him forward and starts dragging him back through the camp. 

Tony has no idea what just happened. Big deal; he’s gonna die no matter what. It’s just a question of whether the shrapnel or Loki gets him first. And he’s not giving Loki any satisfaction out of this - it’s all his fault, anyway, because if he didn’t want Tony saying anything, Loki shouldn’t have told him things he wanted to keep private. Or hey, shouldn’t have taken him in the first place. If the Asgardians didn’t kidnap helpless people to screw during the week, Tony wouldn’t be dying right now.

Fuck, if they’d never come at all…

Loki starts moving faster and Tony almost trips trying to keep up. He tugs hard at his wrists, trying to get some leeway, and Loki doesn’t even turn around. Fuck it; Tony just lets Loki tow him. Nothing he can do will make the slightest bit of difference anymore. He might as well not die while being tortured for trying.

This is what it’s come to. Picking how he wants to go out.

He looks over his shoulder for the hole in the shield, not sure why - giving himself hope that there’s still an escape, or tormenting himself that he’ll never get to take it - but there’s nothing. The glittering gold light is smooth and uniform like he didn’t do anything at all. Like he never had the slightest chance.

It’s over. There’s nothing more he can do. He can’t get away with what he’s learned and he can’t bring them down from the inside, so… They win.

That’s it. 

Tony ducks his head so he doesn’t have to see the shield anymore, but that leaves him staring at Loki’s hand wrapped around both of his wrists and that’s no better. He shuts his eyes and blocks it all out, the camp and Loki and the darkness coming from his chest where the reactor isn’t, stumbles blindly where Loki wants him and wishes he could just die now and get it over with.

Tony flinches as something brushes past his head and snaps his eyes open; they’re back in Loki’s tent, Loki pulling him over to - of course, the tent pole, where else. Loki shoves Tony to his knees, takes his wrists again and snaps those cuffs back on, locking his arms around the pole, back where he was before he tried blowing up the shield, back where he started this entire week. 

Like nothing’s happened. Except that in another week, Tony’ll be dead.

Then this is a very important week for you, isn’t it?

Sorry, Yinsen. Not this time.

Loki exhales slowly, then drops to one knee and crowds against Tony before he can squirm away; Loki circles the reactor housing with one finger and presses his lips firmly to Tony’s hair.

“Forget everything you think you know about me, Tony Stark. Tomorrow we start anew.”

He stands, spins on his heel and leaves with a swish of green cape.

~

There’s metal creeping through Tony’s chest, his pulse ticking a countdown in his head, and he knows that the shrapnel is moving at a rate too slow to be observed by human senses, but he swears he can feel it shifting.

He can’t. When he closes his eyes and concentrates on his chest, there’s nothing but the usual ache of the housing against his ribs, actually lessened without the reactor’s weight. But whenever he drifts away from that focus, there’s a stinging itch under his skin as death creeps closer.

Morbid, but he’s earned the right to be morbid by now. 

Tony sighs, shifts upright and crawls around the tent pole to put the strain on his other shoulder. It’s hard to sleep when your arms are chained around a pole, apparently, especially when Tony’s trying to sleep on his back since he doesn’t have a pillow to prop his head up on. It leaves one of his arms relatively comfortable, lying on the floor and bent at the elbow, but the other one stretched across his chest since the cuffs don’t give him a lot of slack to work with. 

Maybe Loki’s right, and Tony would’ve been better off keeping his mouth shut and staying on as Loki’s pampered slave.

But that’s exactly what Loki wants, and Tony’s not giving him anything. Not anymore. Not when there’s no point in keeping up the pretense.

Though, apparently, Loki’s still trying.

Tony blinks his eyes open and glares at the cold plate of food that a guard brought in a few hours ago. He’s got no idea why Loki bothered going ahead with that promise to feed him, and it’s driving him crazy. Because he has to admit it looks pretty nice - a large fresh flat bread and slices of roast chicken under thick gravy, steaming hot when it arrived and smelling fantastic - but he doesn’t know what Loki’s up to. Is Tony forgiven for everything now that Loki’s calmed down? Is it a taunt? Did he order the meal before this whole thing went down, and then forgot to call it off? Is it a bribe, an offering - be good for me and this is what you’ll get?

If the guard had brought something obviously intended to be just enough to keep Tony from starving, it would’ve been pretty clear what Loki was up to with that. Given that Tony’s now used the reactor as a bomb, he really doesn’t think Loki buys the whole I’ll die without it story, so he’s expecting to be able to keep Tony around for the rest of the war, until the Asgardians get tired of the long game and just finish it. Of course Loki wants his pet to stay alive.

But why the fuck is he still being nice about it?

Tony is this close to kicking the plate over and rejecting whatever the hell Loki’s trying to do, except that he doesn’t want to invite retribution. Given how far Loki was willing to go with the riding crop when he was only pretending to punish Tony, he’s not about to call down the real deal for the sake of some stupid tantrum. Not when there’s no chance of maybe getting Loki angry enough to make a mistake that Tony could use, or anything helpful like that.

No, he’d just like to die in the least amount of pain possible. And preferably with a little bit of dignity.

He’s settled for pushing the plate as far away as he can, since the smell, delicious as it was, was making him nauseous. He’s never hungry when he’s dying, not even three months ago with the palladium poisoning when SHIELD locked him in his lab with Howard’s journals and didn’t let him out until he managed to synthesize the new element. Can’t have you dying with a war on, Stark. Sort your shit out and get back to making us suits.

And he did. Because there were bigger things at hand than spitting in SHIELD’s eye.

He’d almost like the poisoning again. At least that was something new. A step forward from that hole in the desert. But from here, the entire year between getting taken prisoner in Afghanistan and waking up in the Asgardian camp might never have happened. He’s a hostage with shrapnel in his chest slowly carving him to shreds, and there’s no way out. No armor, no weapons, no reactor. The Asgardians don’t have any of the materials to make anything useful, and they wouldn’t let him near them if they did.

Tony’s already dead. He just wishes his body would get the memo.

~

Loki shows up a bit after Tony’s found a vaguely comfortable position, curled up on his stomach, arms around the pole and then folded under his head, hoping he’s finally bored enough to sleep.

Tony doesn’t open his eyes, and Loki doesn’t say a word. Doesn’t step over to pet Tony like he’s enjoyed doing all week, right from the start. Undresses himself instead of kicking Tony awake to do it for him, and drops his clothes to the ground.

Then he throws one of the heavy fur blankets over Tony’s body.

Right. No fun if I freeze to death, is it?

Loki walks away, feet almost silent on the rugs, and climbs into bed, wood creaking and the furs whispering against each other slightly. Loki’s breaths are slow and measured and deep, totally calm. He must have been pretty pissed at Tony to have taken all this time to wind down; it’s been hours.

The lamps flicker out and the tent goes dark.

~

Tony drifts awake sore, cold, and still dying. 

He can feel he’s tried to move overnight, and the cuffs have held him back, rubbing his wrists raw and making his bones ache under their weight. And his chest is killing him, too - hah - because he’s been lying on the reactor housing and it’s been pressing back into his ribcage, and that’s never good. His arms are freezing and stiff, unprotected by the fur blanket and twisted up above his head. 

He doesn’t know why he cares, since he’s just a day closer to the end anyway. He’s been on this path before. But it’s always been different, there’s always been something he could do. Not this time. Not with Loki watching Tony’s every move and probably planning a little early morning torture session as soon as he wakes up. Forget everything you know about me. Tomorrow we start again. Yeah, no more kindness, no more light conversation. Tony gets it.

Tony rolls his shoulders and twitches his fingers and toes to get the blood going again, clenches his muscle groups in sequence down his body. He’s not too beaten up, all things considered - there’s not a lot of pain as he goes and he loosens up pretty quickly.

He turns onto his side and then his back, arms tangled but at least in a different position. Sitting up would be more respectable, but a lot less comfortable, and even though it’s way too late, Tony might as well make things as comfortable for himself as possible. Let Loki think whatever he wants about Tony giving in. Tony doesn’t care.

The tent flap smacks open and Thor storms in, hair wild and cape whirling behind him. “LOKI!

There’s a groan from the bed. “Thor, out! Do you know what time-”

“Silence,” Thor growls, and hurls himself across the tent - Tony yanks his legs out of the way rather than get trodden on. “Cease your whining and listen to me.”

Loki yelps in pain, and Tony twists himself around to see Thor standing by the bed, dragging Loki upright by his hair. 

“Hear this,” Thor orders, pulling Loki close despite his struggles to pull free. “The frost giants have crossed our borders. Father summons us home at once.”

Loki’s eyes widen in shock and he stops trying to fight Thor off. “Truly?”

“Would I lie about such a thing? You, perhaps, but not I. That they would dare this in my absence!” Thor throws Loki back down on the bed and paces restlessly, agitation surging under his skin. “That I am away for but a few paltry months and miss the first true war in centuries!”

Loki sits upright, hands combing his hair back and massaging out the pain in his scalp. “Thor, if the frost giants have trodden Asgardian soil, I am quite sure there will be enough battle for you yet. What other news did Father send?”

“Little,” Thor snarls, and thrusts a crumpled scroll at Loki. Loki takes it without even a pointed expression and opens it carefully. “Merely that those intruders have met their fate, and our armies amass to strike at Jotunheim.”

“Yes,” Loki says, eyes flickering over the page, “no mention of numbers, or how they entered-”

“It matters not! We are to decamp immediately and return to Asgard as soon as may be managed.”

Loki warns, “It will take time to wake the men, to move them all through the-”

I know, Loki! You think yourself clever, but I am no fool!”

Loki sinks back and raises his hands placatingly. “Thor, I am with you. I wish to protect Asgard as much as you do.”

Thor laughs. “I wish to bathe in the blood of my enemies, little brother. I want Laufey’s crown at my feet and his skull for a drinking horn.”

Loki throws back the furs and crosses the room, completely naked, to stand before Thor and offer his hand. “And I shall do whatever I can to make it yours.”

Thor grins, and seizes Loki’s hand - no, his whole arm, Loki’s fingers wrapping Thor’s in return. “You’ll march beside me into Jotunheim.”

“Certainly. I’ll not let you take all the glory.”

Thor cups the side of Loki’s neck with his free hand, and Loki grins at him and nods. They let each other go and take a step back, and Thor sweeps away, feet just inches from Tony as he strides out again, ducking beneath the tent flap and shouting something to the guards outside.

Tony’s head pounds in the sudden silence after all the bellowing this early in the morning. He lies back down against the ground and wishes for something cold to put over his temples. Or for Thor to fall off a cliff.

He hears laughter.

Tony turns his head to see Loki standing where Thor left him, head tipped back, cold dark chuckles boiling up from his chest. “Oh, Thor. My dear, stupid brother.”

He shakes his head and opens his eyes. Meets Tony’s, and smirks. “Now that, Stark, was effort at deception worth spending.”

He takes four long steps over to where Tony’s lying, and goes down to one knee by Tony’s head. “Will you kiss me now?”

Huh?

Tony blinks. It still doesn’t make any sense. He twists his wrists in the cuffs; yes, he is a prisoner and didn’t just hallucinate that bit. “Why the hell would I do that?”

Loki frowns. “This was the bargain you offered me. I have fulfilled my part.”

“What?”

Loki sighs, and cups Tony’s face with one hand. Tony reaches to slap him away and he’s caught by the cuffs.

“None of that,” Loki tuts at him. “Think. Yesterday I asked you what you wanted in exchange for giving me everything. What price it would take to win your loyalty, your consent. Do you remember what you said?” Loki licks his lips, and leans in close. “You off my planet. Every single one of you.

He sits back up and waves his free hand at the door Thor just went through. “Were you not listening? We leave your world behind us! I have won your planet’s freedom from my brother, Tony Stark, him and every other Asgardian, including myself. Just as you wanted.”

His fingers curl and grab at Tony’s hair. “And I think the least I am owed in return for your dearest wish is a kiss.”

“You…”

We are to return to Asgard immediately.

“You’re leaving?

Loki hisses testily. “Yes, Stark. And you are coming with me.”

“No!”

No, he can’t go - he knows that much even if the rest of this doesn’t make sense, even if he can’t understand why it’s all over. The Asgardians are leaving, the planet’s safe and SHIELD’s out of a job, but - god, even if Loki’s done it all for Tony’s asking, he can’t go yet.

Loki’s eyes go cold and hard. “No?”

“No, please - Loki, please, there’s something I have to do - someone I - I have to say goodbye, please, I can’t go yet.”

Pepper, I can’t go without Pepper-

“Loki, please, I’m begging you, seriously-” Tony rolls, gets his legs under him to kneel and bows low, cuffed arms stretched to the side and forehead almost brushing the ground, and desperately kisses Loki’s bare toes. “Please, I just need this one thing, one more thing and - and I’ll be yours, whatever you want, whatever you ask, but please, I have to do this first.”

“You try my patience, Stark,” Loki says, but it’s softer than it could be, and Tony pushes.

“I know, I know, and you - punish me however you want for it, whatever you want and I’ll do it, I’ll take it, but please-” He presses his forehead to Loki’s foot. “I mean it. I just need a few hours. That’s all. A few hours and I’ll come back and I’ll be all yours.”

Loki sighs, and rests his hand on the back of Tony’s head.

“Have you ever lo-”

“I heard you,” Loki says. “Enough.”

Tony swallows and screws his eyes shut. Please, please, please- 

“Your loyalties are fierce,” Loki murmurs, fingers stroking through Tony’s hair softly. “Will you ever give them to me?”

Yes, all the loyalty you want, I just need to do this first. Just let me take care of this and then everything’s yours. Please, Loki…”

Please, I know you want me, please think I’m worth it, don’t stop me when I’m so close…

“I can delay Thor for an hour, but no longer,” Loki says reluctantly. “And buy another half if I leave last.”

He pulls Tony’s hair and forces his head up, eye to eye with Loki, his green stare brittle. “Use it well. If you are not here when I leave…”

“The deal’s over, fine, you’ll kill me, fine, I don’t care. I’ll be here.” Tony lifts his hands, dragging the cuffs along the pole. “Let me out.”

~

It’s appallingly early on Thursday morning, pre-dawn, and that means SHIELD’s expecting a fight today and Tony’s probably had a dozen snipers trained on him since Loki opened up the energy shield for him. But that’s fine, that ought to mean that somebody’s recognized his face by now and they’ll be coming to pick him up. He’s special, after all, a prisoner being released on Thursday morning - definitely worth some serious attention.

Nearly there now. He’s got to be nearly there. He doesn’t know how long he’s been trudging for, but it can’t be much further.

He lifts his head from staring at the dark moonlit snow, and sees a group of people up ahead of him, armed soldiers with guns aimed his way, Agent Hill in the lead. Tony exhales relief and a lot of cold air that bites at his throat. One step closer.

Hill gets close enough to shout. “Stark, what are you doing here?”

“Playing soccer. I want to talk to Fury.”

Hill scoffs and shakes her head. “We’re minutes away from open combat right now. What’s more important than that?”

“I got out without being brainwashed. I have information.” Not that it’s relevant anymore, with the Asgardians packing up. But when Tony shows up with vital intel, they’ll have to listen to him when he gets to what he really wants.

He’s coming.

Hill’s eyes have gone very wide and her lips are parted in stunned surprise. She taps her earpiece. “Director, I’ve got Stark. You’re going to want to hear this.” 

~

Tony gets a full escort into the command center, this time set up in the lobby of a commandeered hotel on the outskirts of whatever city the Asgardians are threatening, or were threatening before they found someone else to beat up. Fury, in full director panoply, leather coat and big sidearm, is standing in the center, surrounded by desks and computers and agents working at them, and directly at Fury’s fingertips is a ring of screens, all showing camera feeds focused on the Asgardian energy shield. There’s a large timer counting down, ticking away until dawn, until the Asgardians boil out of their camp and start slaughtering again. So SHIELD thinks.

Fury starts glaring as soon as Tony gets close enough to be appropriately scorched by it. “You’d better hope I have time for you, Stark.”

“Have you got time for an inside view of the Asgardian camp?”

Fury folds his arms, glancing at the countdown to check how long he’s got to chew Tony out. “And why exactly didn’t you get shut up like everybody else?”

Tony shrugs. “Got fucked by the right people, I guess. And whoo-boy, were we right about the whole getting-fucked theory. Christ.” He fake-gags, and then makes himself shudder like it’s actually got to him, glancing around at the sea of staring agents. “Which is why I’d prefer doing this in private, all things considered.”

Fury checks the countdown again. “How do I know you’re not lying through your teeth?”

“The commander’s name is Thor, he’s a prince and a slightly gentlemanly dickwad. Took Romanoff in personally. Ask her, and she won’t be able to tell you a thing about that. Straight-up lie, she’d have no problem denying.”

Fury rotates his jaw. “My office.” He points across the room towards a door behind the hotel’s front desk, with Director scrawled across it in thick black marker. He turns away and taps his earpiece. “Romanoff, report.”

Tony spins on his heel and heads for the door. He’s close, now. So close. All it’ll take is one more thing from Fury and then Tony will have everything. 

It’s time.

He twists the handle and walks in just like that, leaving the door open behind him.

Tony starts pacing, back and forth in front of the desk. He thought this moment was months away, thought he’d have to fight the Asgardians for every inch they backed up, all the way across interstellar space back to wherever the hell they came from.

But here he is. Here they are.

One last thing to clear with Fury. Now.

“You’re wearing a hole in my carpet.”

Tony shrugs and doesn’t stop pacing. “The Russians’ll cope.”

Fury tugs the door shut and flips the lock over, click, sealing them in. “Alright, Stark,” he says, a little more softly now. He crosses the room and hitches a hip to lean against the desk. “Romanoff backs you up. Let’s talk.”

Tony smiles. Shoves his hands into his pockets and comes to the end of his pacing, turning his back right in front of Fury. “She was mine.”

“Excuse m-”

Tony spins, slips Loki’s knife from his pocket and stabs Fury in the stomach.

Fury chokes and convulses and coughs blood into Tony’s face, and Tony presses up close and makes sure Fury can hear him. “That’s for Pepper, you murdering bastard.”

The second stab goes through Fury’s eye.

Chapter Text

Tony twists the knife inside Fury’s skull and yanks it free.

“She was mine. Don’t touch what’s mine.

Fury drops to the floor, crumpling and landing heavily. The knife slips in Tony’s grasp, wet and hot. He glances down at himself and his shirt is almost soaked with Fury’s blood, dark and dripping down his chest; he must have hit a major artery. Possibly more than one. His hand is slicked with black gore from Fury’s eye.

Tony looks down at Fury, lying motionless and silent on the carpet, drenched in blood, unpatched eye a ruined red chasm going down into his brain.

He’s dead. Fury’s dead.

It’s over.

The air rushes out of Tony’s body as he laughs and slumps back against the desk, knife falling from his grip. That’s it. He curls his hand into a fist just to feel Fury’s blood oozing hot over his fingers.

Four months he’s waited for this moment. Four months since Fury killed Pepper, and Tony waited and waited until the time was right, until he could do this his way. Get his revenge without anyone innocent being caught up in it. The world needed Fury at the helm to hold off the Asgardians, needed all the protection SHIELD could offer; but now the Asgardians have left, and the world doesn’t need protecting anymore. Doesn’t need Fury.

There’s going to be chaos when Tony opens that door, chains of command flailing all over the place and people scrambling to find someone to give them orders. If the Asgardians were still planning to attack at dawn, god knows how far they’d get before SHIELD got itself organized. 

But that’s not going to happen. Not now. Because Tony waited until the time was right.

Nobody got hurt who didn’t deserve it. Just the way Tony likes.

The way Pepper would have wanted. 

Tony picks up Loki’s borrowed knife - not that Loki knows Tony palmed it off him, so stolen, really - and tosses it to land on Fury’s unmoving, bloody chest. It only took him one hundred and seventeen days. One hundred and sixteen of keeping his mouth shut, of doing nothing, letting Pepper stay unavenged, and then today it took maybe ten seconds from start to finish.

It doesn’t seem like enough.

He wants to cut every one of those days into Fury’s flesh. Wants to make him pay for killing Pepper. Killing him in return was all Tony could do, but…

Maybe it wasn’t quick and clean by professional standards, but all things considered, Fury didn’t suffer.

Pepper, on the other hand…

Tony closes his eyes against the burning heat welling up. He held Pepper’s hand for the entire last day, her skin covered with burns and her hair falling out, shaking with fever and throwing up even water, and Tony just wiped her lips when she coughed up blood and told her she was still perfect until she believed him.

Acute radiation syndrome, the doctors said. She’s not responding to treatment. She’s only got a few more days.

Get back to work, SHIELD said. There’s nothing you can do for her. SHIELD needs you.

SHIELD, who fired two nukes at the Asgardians within three days of them landing on American soil. SHIELD, who saw the nukes do absolutely nothing - they didn’t break the energy barrier, didn’t give the Asgardians radiation poisoning, did nothing but threaten the civilian lives in the area, fallout contaminating fields and water supplies. But the Asgardians just kept coming closer.

So SHIELD fired a third nuke anyway, and didn’t care that the city they were claiming to protect was within the radiation zone.

Pepper was out for a walk. Completely exposed. She never had a chance.

Tony knows were others who were killed by that third strike, far too many, but they didn’t work for him for fifteen years. They never kept him alive and stood beside him when nobody else would. They never smiled at his weak jokes and brought him coffee when he needed it. They didn’t have beautiful hair the color of sunrise and the ability to drag Tony out of bed and make him do his job.

The last day, after Pepper breathed out and didn’t breathe in again, Tony picked up his tablet for the first time that week. Three minutes later he was in SHIELD’s surveillance archives and staring at Fury giving the order to fire that third nuke.

He looks down at Fury’s corpse. And here’s his vengeance, lying on the floor, blood congealing in the carpet and on Tony’s skin.

He almost starts laughing again, and pushes a hand inside his shirt and drums his fingers inside the empty arc reactor housing, tremors lancing through his chest. He lost the reactor, lost everything, he’s actively dying, and he still got his vengeance.

One hundred and sixteen days, he waited and waited and waited, kept his mouth shut and did his job, just like they told him to; he stood right next to Fury at briefings and didn’t lay a finger on him. Kept his priorities in line and focused on the Asgardians first. Tony started dying before any of that changed, and he’s still pulled it off. 

He’ll be dead in under a week, and there’s nothing he regrets. This was the last thing he wanted, possibly the one thing in his life he’s wanted more than anything else - or, well, the one thing he wanted and could have. He’ll never want anything more than Pepper alive and well, to have left her behind in Malibu instead of letting her come with him into the war. 

That was my idea, Tony. Don’t you dare blame yourself. You didn’t do this to me.

She kissed him right before she died, her burned lips against his, an angel granting her blessing, her strength and hope, to take with him when she couldn’t be there to offer them in person. 

“I did it, Pep,” Tony whispers, and feels the tears spill over. “We did it.”

Now it’s over.

No, Tony. You have to get out of here.

He sighs. He’s come so far and he’s dying, hasn’t he earned a break by now… but she’d still want him to get up and fix things. She wouldn’t want him to die for this if he didn’t have to. He’ll have to save himself even if he couldn’t save her.

Pepper was generous like that. Kind of bossy, too. Dead for four months and she’s still making him keep the appointments she makes for him.

He quirks a smile. Okay. Think.

More than anything else, if he wants to live he needs another reactor. And that actually shouldn’t be too hard to find, if SHIELD’s set up a workshop for him like usual. Tony just needs to find out where it is, and get there without being stopped. You know, casually walk out of here covered in blood with Fury’s body conspicuously lying on the floor…

Oh, Stark, really?

Tony hears it in Loki’s sardonic, darkly amused tones.

You’ll have to do better than that. Impress me.

Fine, he’ll get a clean shirt and hide Fury’s body somehow - Fury probably kept spare clothes in a desk drawer, for when he needed to look put-together quickly, and if Tony drags the body into a corner where it can’t be seen through the doorway it’ll at least let him get out and shut the door behind him. He can’t hope to keep it under wraps for long, but long enough to get to his lab. And that should be pretty easy, considering the appalling security in this place. Based out of a crummy hotel, the Asgardians about to attack again - this isn’t the time or place for proper security procedures. Under normal circumstances, he never would have made it this far in the first place. There would have been cameras in here, and they’d probably have taken the knife off him, especially when it clearly wasn’t his. But they let everything slide, and they’ll let him through again if he greases the wheels just enough. 

So reactor first, and then he’ll plead trauma and nick off, get himself a head start. Even when they do find the body, SHIELD’ll probably be too distracted with cleaning up after the Asgardians and straightening themselves out to chase after him immediately. If he can get to one of his houses he’ll at least have a fighting chance to…

Yeah, no. Who does he think he’s kidding? SHIELD will never let this go, never let him go, and he refuses to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. He’d have to bring down the entire organization before he was safe, and that’s exactly what he’s been working so hard to avoid. SHIELD’s got its issues - volumes, really - but it’s also got thousands of innocent men and women under its command. Tony’s not out for their hides.

He sinks back down against the floor. It was possible, up until now. Getting out, that’s okay, he could do that. Hide the blood, hide the body, buy himself another couple of minutes by telling everyone outside that Fury’s writing up a report, and doesn’t want to be disturbed. Tony would be fine for long enough to get a new reactor in.

And then he’d spend all his new-won lifetime being hunted down for murder. There’s no way even Tony can hide out from a world power…

World? Is that all?

Tony’s eyes go very wide.

Yes, SHIELD can hunt him down anywhere on the entire planet, but he’s got a ticket off just waiting for him. Loki promised to take Tony to Asgard, and he’d like to see SHIELD get to him there.

Of course, that’d mean enslaving himself to Loki all over again - loyalty, obedience, kneeling, the whole shebang - and for real this time, no Wednesday morning release… but why not? Why shouldn’t Tony go back to Loki? He’ll get to live, and it doesn’t even come at too high a cost. If Tony’s the only human on a planet full of aliens - Asgardians, even worse - who else would he want to be loyal to? Now that Tony’s avenged Pepper, now that the Asgardians aren’t threatening any more people, there’s nothing here worth staying - and dying - for. Loki’s the only way out, and it’s not as though Tony’s got anything better to do than whatever Loki tells him.

The way things were going this week, Loki likes taking care of Tony, so he probably won’t starve or anything like that; and given the way Loki’s acted towards him so far, all permissive and generous and always after more, Tony could have anything he wanted. Loki will offer up whatever Tony asks for, to keep him happy and pliant; Loki wants him so much that Tony’s got all the power right now, and if he goes back, there’s no telling how far Loki’s gratitude could be stretched. 

God, if Tony was into it back when he was selling himself for information, what’ll Loki do to him when Tony’s no-strings-attached? When they’re not enemies, when Tony doesn’t have to hate him? When he can just enjoy the lust and pleasure and damn attraction between them instead of manipulating it to keep himself alive?

Tony can still get out of this. Even better, Tony can actually have something he wants. Asgard’s full of alien technology that he knows is fascinating and breaks the bounds of what he thought was possible - he’s sure not going to get bored during the time he doesn’t spend naked under Loki…

Tony grins at the empty room. Hell, yes!

A couple minutes to find the reactor, maybe ten to get back to the Asgardians’ camp - and Tony’s still well inside his one-and-a-half hour window, too - then kiss up to Loki again, which will probably be the easiest part of this whole thing, and Tony’s in the wind.

Free.

He can start over, no more mistakes - or, well, at least different ones - finally start playing Loki’s head games to win, take control of one end of the power flowing between them-

There’s a loud knock at the door. “Sir?”

Tony’s plan snaps in half.

The SHIELD agent - sounds like Coulson - knocks again. “Director, sunrise in twelve minutes.”

Tony sighs and leans his head back against the desk. Goddammit, he was this close to a life of debauchery as an alien prince’s spoiled sex slave, learning alien engineering in see-through harem pants all day and getting thoroughly and fantastically fucked all night.

Dammit, put it like that and Tony wants it even more.

Coulson’s knocking gets louder. “Director Fury?”

Tony glances over at the cooling body, blood congealing darkly across Fury’s chest and face and the carpet. Even if he has to let go of his plan, it’s okay. No matter what happens now, no matter if SHIELD lock him up or kill him or let the shrapnel finally do its job, they can’t ever take this away from him. Two steps forward, one step back - fuck them all, he’s still in front.

He levers himself up onto his feet, limbs gone stiff, and walks over to the door and flips the lock. Pulls it open.

“Now, I’d say this isn’t what it looks like, but-”

The stunned expression on Coulson’s face only lasts a second; his eyes flash between Tony and Fury and Tony again, and his hand snaps to a side-holster that’s - empty, of course it’s empty, why would anyone be armed in their own base, and maybe Tony still has a chance-

He ducks as Coulson charges him, throws himself on the ground and kicks upwards. He catches Coulson between the legs and crushes his balls beneath his boot - and Coulson just collapses, folding to the floor, clutching himself and groaning. Strategic and satisfying - but it was a lucky hit, Coulson wasn’t prepared for an attack, and that won’t be true for the rest of them but Tony can try, and he staggers to his feet and- 

Well, shit.

Finds himself facing an entire wall of guns pointed right at him, god damn SHIELD agents who are over-prepared for everything.

He grins and spreads his arms wide. “This is exactly what it looks like.”

~

This might actually be the worst trouble his smart mouth has ever gotten him into.

Though considering everything he did, it’s not likely that the sass was what made them lock him up; killing Fury probably had something to do with it. And after they marched him through the command center handcuffed and covered in blood, pretty well outing Tony’s crimes to the entire agency, it’s astonishing that nobody’s shown up for a little payback.

But somehow he’s still alive, for what it’s worth when he’s stuck in the smallest hotel room they could convert to a prison cell on the fly. The window’s too thick to break easily and he’s eighteen stories up, which doesn’t make things impossible, but the guards outside have left the door open precisely to hear anything suspicious, like glass shattering. They’ve stripped out all the electronics, too - TV, lamps, the heater - and taken out most of the stuff from the bathroom, just in case Tony can make a chemical bomb from shampoo and hand lotion. 

Well, he can. But that’s no reason for them to act like it. This might be the first time he’s pissed that somebody’s actually anticipated how smart he really is. They’ve really done their homework before setting this cell up for him.

How touching.

It’s definitely a comedown from Loki’s tent. The bed in here is narrow with springs that stabbed him in the kidney when he tried actually sleeping, and the blankets are thin enough to play shadow puppets with. With the electric heater gone, still stuck in the middle of Russia in winter, Tony’s missing Loki’s furs.

The Asgardian clothes were warmer, too; some grunts took those away for evidence or whatever, not that they need to build a case against him, because A, he’s clearly guilty as sin and proud of it, and B, SHIELD are the last people who’d follow through with due process even if they didn’t know the absolute truth. But take his blood-soaked clothes they did, and now - after a thorough strip-search that at least involved the officers feeling more uncomfortable than him, thanks to his expert levels of innuendo - Tony’s barefoot in some butt-ugly orange prison jumpsuit, which is not a look that even he can pull off with ease, and is way less thermally insulated than the gear Loki gave him.

And Tony’s ass looked at least ten times better in fitted black leather.

Doesn’t matter now, though. He was so fucking close to getting out of here, but there’s no way it’s going to happen anymore. Loki’s long gone by now and Tony’s stuck without a reactor, not to mention that he’s the last person to argue he hasn’t well and truly earned a death sentence. And honestly, with Pepper gone, with Stark Industries all tied up with SHIELD, with SHIELD in possession of a literal army of Iron Man suits, what’s Tony got to live for? He’ll never fix any of that from inside a prison cell and he might as well die before he can make things any worse.

And… everything in the past four months has been about avenging Pepper. She’s been the most important thing in his life since long before she died. Suddenly that’s over, the whole point of killing Fury was so this could be over - and Tony’s glad, wouldn’t have it any other way… but he can’t think of what he wants now. Nicking off with Loki isn’t an option anymore; Tony’s past the timeslot. Tony really has betrayed him this time. If Loki ever got his hands back on Tony, it wouldn’t be for anything he’d enjoy. Even if he somehow cleared things up and won Loki’s forgiveness - again, like there’s any chance of that - there’s no way he’s earned that life, no way that’s the reason he survived Afghanistan. 

Besides, that was all fantasy anyway. Just because Tony isn’t technically Loki’s prisoner of war anymore doesn’t mean that he’s free. If he had taken Loki’s offer, and wound up alone on a planet full of aliens who were trying to kill him just last week, would he really be any more comfortable with turning Loki down if something came up? No, Tony would’ve been just as dependent on Loki’s goodwill, whoring himself out to stay alive. Would Loki actually have bothered treating him with dignity and humanity, or would he have just taken, entitled by that deal they made back in the camp? If Asgard leaves, I’m all yours, is apparently what Tony said, so Loki made them leave. If Tony had followed through on his end, there’s no guarantee he would have enjoyed actually belonging to Loki.

No guarantee he wouldn’t have, though…

He sighs and shakes his head, and reaches down to drum his fingers against the wall he’s leaning against. Doesn’t matter. Everything’s out of his hands. It’s only a few more days that he has to put up with this - the cold, the quiet, the crushing, claustrophobic boredom - and he can deal with it for that long. His fingertips make little thumps against the plaster; not Morse code, not checking for a weakness in the walls, just something to break the silence. There’s no use in trying to get out of here. Contrary to popular belief, he does know when he’s beaten and it’s staring him in the face right now.

But he did good. Maybe he couldn’t save Pepper, but he did what he could do and now he can let her go. Let her find whatever peace is out there. Not that Tony’s ever believed in any kind of god or afterlife, but he watched her fall apart in that hospital bed and wherever she is now has to be better than that.

Miss you, Pep. I miss you so much. But we’re fine. I’ll be fine. Just fine.

It’s enough.

~

Threehundredandforty bottles of beer on the wall, threehundredandforty bottles of beer… Take one down, smash it into Loki’s face and see if that does any permanent damage… Six months of fighting - his entire life in an obvious warrior culture - and there’s not a single scar on him. Tony’s seen everything that Loki’s got, and he’s all pristine, immaculate porcelain skin, not even bearing innocent little burn marks from spilling hot coffee. How the hell did he manage that?

Threehundredandthirtynine bottles of beer on the wall, threehundredandthirtynine bottles of beer… Take one down, try to get Loki drunk, though it’ll probably take a lot more than one… Not that Tony knows anything about that, either. Who’s to say that Asgardians are affected by alcohol in the same way that humans are? Who’s to say Loki isn’t a total lightweight and wouldn’t fall over giggling after one shot? True, he was drinking wine every night at dinner and not showing any signs, but Tony can’t be sure the wine had alcohol at all - or the Asgardian equivalent - and he has no idea what a drunk alien looks like, anyway. 

Threehundredandthirtyeight bottles of beer on the wall… Fuck, I could use three hundred and thirty-eight drinks…

He hears loud footsteps outside and looks up to see two soldiers come in, one aiming a rifle at his head and the other marching straight up to him.

“Ooh, don’t tell me, all charges dropped?”

Tony grins as the second soldier hauls him to his feet and cuffs his wrists together in front of him, then winces at the flash of pain when the cuffs snick too tight and pinch skin. “Watch it, I have lawyers.”

The guy doesn’t answer, just shoves Tony towards the door and doesn’t let him go once they get there, a pre-emptive strike before Tony can try anything. Tony glances around to check out the armed one, a woman a little way behind with room to shoot him down.

He’s almost offended. Two guys and that’s all? He’s Tony Stark! Isn’t he worth a lot more than just two guys grabbed out of the cafeteria?

Well, he’s disarmed, restrained and dying, so much as he might not like it, he’s probably not.

They escort him out of the room and down the hall, into a tiny elevator with painfully old carpet that stinks of cigarette smoke and lurches as it goes down. The soldier with the rifle grimaces - she’ll be close to useless in close quarters like this - except then Tony sees a serious, and very useful, combat knife strapped to her thigh. Maybe she doesn’t like the idea of plummeting to her death, then.

Pretty dangerous, these old Soviet buildings. No idea what’s holding this one together right now - spit and prayers, most likely, that’s all that’s keeping us from going splat.

But there’s really no point in trying to freak her out. Maybe it’d work, but there’s nothing to be gained from actually getting away. They’re sure to have shut his workshop down and stripped out everything useful, so even if he managed to find it he’d get nothing there.

On the other hand, maybe he can trick her into shooting him?

“Pre-”

The elevator jerks to a stop and opens before he gets anywhere, but it wasn’t worth much anyway. The woman steps out first, raising the rifle and keeping Tony covered as her partner pushes him out and manhandles him down the hall. Much as Tony might like to joke about it, SHIELD agents really aren’t all that incompetent. Not that that’s going to stop him from making the jokes.

“What exactly is the gun for, anyway? Seriously, what are you afraid I can do with my hands like this?” He lifts them and gives his wrists a little shake to make the chain links rattle. “Yes, I know I’m Tony Stark, but let’s be real here.”

No answer, not that he really expected one by now. 

“Honestly, lady - ma’am - sir, does SHIELD do that whole everyone-is-male army thing? - I don’t think you’re needed here at all. Is there some kind of ridiculous minimum limit for prisoner detail? SHIELD trying to make itself look good? Why yes, we are taking this seriously! No, wait, I bet you’re keeping an eye on him-” Tony tosses his head towards the guy marching him along. “Making sure I don’t win him over to my side, is that it? That’s probably it. That might actually be a good idea, because do you know how much money I have to bribe you with? It’s an awful lot, you might want to consider-”

He’s yanked to a halt before he runs out of overconfident-sounding babble, and the soldier holding Tony lets go with one hand to open an anonymous door. They push Tony through into a conference room, with a rattling old air conditioner, no windows and no other exit, and make him sit in one of the chairs around the table. The one by itself, facing two others; blatant interrogation setup, in case he thought they were taking him out for a coffee date. His back’s to the door, closed after the two agents left, but he solves that by rocking the chair until it’s side-on to the table, enough to see the door without technically having moved from where they put him. He props his bare feet up on the table and tents his fingers, looking a bit evil-overlord but it’s actually quite comfortable.

It’s nice to be coming in here with nothing to lose, nothing to gain. Fury’s already dead and Tony’s on the way out, and SHIELD can’t change that. There’s nothing they can offer and nothing to threaten with. Tony might as well sleep through this entire thing.

He tilts his head back and shifts in his seat to find a comfortable position, and the door opens again. Tony groans and lifts his head to take a look.

Well, well. He is important.

He’s got both Hill and Coulson, wearing equally grim expressions of fury - hah - and Coulson wielding a locked metal briefcase.

Tony grins, raising his voice over the noise of the air conditioner. “Didn’t expect to see you on your feet so soon, Agent. Hope you didn’t want children.”

The corner of Coulson’s eye twitches, because even his unflappable exterior won’t hold up to a kick in the balls, and he crosses the room to put the case down on his side of the table. “Sit down, Mr. Stark.”

“I am sit-”

Hill knocks his feet off the table as she walks past. Tony struggles upright, off-balance without the use of his hands, and glares to hide it. “What is this, grade school? Not that I ever went to grade school, but that’s approximately how juvenile you’re acting.”

Coulson places both palms flat on the table and leans forward in a pose that would probably be more intimidating if he weren’t a balding middle-aged man. But then, that’s Coulson’s trick; he’s far more dangerous than the exterior lets on. 

Bad luck for him there’s literally nothing he can do that makes any difference to Tony.

“Why aren’t the Asgardians attacking, Mr. Stark?”

Tony shrugs. “Search me. Except don’t, because that would just waste everyone’s time. They weren’t dumb enough to share their plans with their fucktoys, brainwashing or not.”

“We think you were more than just a prisoner,” Coulson says, and straightens up to tap a code into the digital lock on the case. He flips the lid up and takes something out, and puts it down in the center of the table.

Loki’s knife is covered with dark, dried blood, and Tony’s fingerprints stand out clearly on the handle. 

“This is an Asgardian weapon, you were the only prisoner they let go without silencing them, and within five minutes of your arrival here you assassinated the Director,” Coulson says. “We aren’t dumb enough to think you don’t have anything to do with them.”

“Are they waiting for a report from you?” Hill asks, standing against the back wall, arms folded. “A signal that you’ve taken out the Director and we’re ready for the slaughter?”

Tony rolls his eyes. “Face it, they’ve been slaughtering you just fine without my help. If they wanted Fury dead, they’re fully capable of doing it themselves.”

“They didn’t know Fury’s name or his face. How could they be sure of killing him without sending somebody who knew him?”

“If that had been their plan, I could’ve just told them. Cyclops is pretty hard to miss. Then again, if they’d gone after the first guy with an eyepatch they saw, I guess they might have taken out the janitor by mis-”

“This isn’t a game, Stark,” Hill snaps, irritation starting to boil over. One whole minute in Tony’s presence and she’s only showing it now; he is impressed. “What’s going on?”

“Give me one reason I should tell you.”

Coulson looks him in the eye, assessing him calmly, then nods and reaches into the case again. 

He lifts an inside panel, and gets cast in blue light.

Oh.

Coulson lifts an arc reactor out of the case and sets it down beside Loki’s knife. “You’re missing one of these, I believe. All we want in exchange is information.”

Tony’s chest burns. He laces his fingers together and squeezes hard to stop himself from touching the empty housing in his chest. “Does this mean you aren’t planning to execute me?”

“That would please quite a few people. Myself included,” Hill says, with a savage bite to the words that says exactly how pleased she’d be to kill him. “But the decision has been made that you’re too valuable alive.”

“Interesting decision,” Tony says, and leans back in his chair and lifts his hands to rest his chin on them. “Given that I’ve gone so far as to kill Fury, I’m sure you don’t believe I’ll just go back to arming you like nothing’s changed, so you can’t be keeping me around for my work. I suppose there are enough contracts with Stark Industries right now to satisfy you for a little while, but killing me would shut those down pretty fast, so you could be keeping me alive for that. But then you’d have to be amazingly confident - impossibly confident - that I’d never get out and take control of my own company again, because we all know the first thing I’d do would be to completely eradicate anything that you found useful. So maybe this is a short-term thing and you’re all crapping yourselves over the Asgardians being late to the party, but I kinda hope that’s not true because then you’d be getting rid of me as soon as you get the information you want, which means that at the very least you’re deliberately misleading me, shame on you.”

Tony drops his hands to the table. “Short of it is, I don’t believe you. I think whether I talk or not I’m headed for a bullet, and even if for once you’re being straight with me, the last thing I want is you getting your hands on anything ‘valuable’. Including me. Want it even shorter?”

He rocks back in his chair and kicks his feet back up onto the table. “Suck it.”

Coulson looks at Hill, and they move together into a corner and start muttering ominously. Tony just stretches out to pop his spine and settles into his chair.

His eyes fall on the reactor, glowing blue light and gleaming metal. His chest thrums with a hollow ache and his hands are screaming to wrap around the reactor and slot it back where it belongs, just one tiny movement to save his life.

But he knows better.

If SHIELD really want him alive, that’s reason enough for Tony to let himself die. They’re already in possession of way too many Iron Man suits, and they’re smart enough to assume, correctly, that Tony’s built backdoor protocols into all of them. Given the way they set up his temporary cell, they’d be more than capable of making damn sure Tony never got the opportunity to shut those suits down. He was straight-up lying when he said they can’t be certain he’ll never escape; they really can. And the idea that they could get their hands on more suits… yeah, Tony’ll die before he ever lets that happen.

If he took that reactor - and they were acting in good faith - everything from here on in would be controlled by SHIELD in ways he doesn’t even want to think about. He’s seen how far they’re willing to go, trying to break the Asgardian conditioning on their own people. They’d do anything to get Tony to play ball, his signature on Stark Industries’ contracts; maybe even to design new weapons himself. Tony barely made it out of the Ten Rings camp - undermanned, undertrained guys against Tony and Yinsen together when Tony had every reason to fight - and he knows there’s no way he could win alone against the whole of SHIELD without any resources. SHIELD don’t have to answer to anyone and with the chaos from the war - with Pepper gone - nobody will come looking for Tony. So long as there are updates coming out of his office, the company won’t even notice he’s SHIELD’s prisoner. 

But if he dies, that all shuts down. SHIELD aren’t good enough to fake the biometrics required to authorize a Stark Industries contract, and once Tony stops signing them, Stark Industries stops working with SHIELD, and eventually somebody notices he’s missing. He can probably count on a long legal battle over ownership of the Iron Man suits, and whatever the resolution, the suits themselves will at least be tied up until the case is over.

So he’s not touching that reactor. He’d like to live and make things right, instead of just stopping them from getting worse, but only on his terms. If that’s not an option… then he’s alright with it falling out this way.

He’s got a cause he believes in - not fucking up the world any more than he already has - and he’s willing to die for that cause. 

And so he doesn’t have to suffer through being SHIELD’s slave labor.

And so there’s no chance an angry Loki can find him.

He never said he was an idealist. Just a determined bastard who doesn’t give up on the things he wants.

Hill and Coulson break out of their little conference, and Tony gives an exaggerated yawn and starts picking dirt out from under his fingernails.

Coulson sits down across from him and spreads his hands across the table. “You’ve fought beside us all this time, Mr. Stark,” he says, smiling faintly. “You’ve put yourself on the line for the protection of this world. I don’t know what vendetta you had against Fury, but we’re the good guys. I know you’re still the kind of man who wants to protect people. Are you really going to throw away all of that now?”

Tony chuckles and points a finger at Coulson. “Good cop. Okay, I’ll bite. Helping the world. Here’s my offer: I have nothing to do with SHIELD anymore, you return all of my suits, and I shut down all of Stark Industries’ weapons programs.”

“Unacceptable,” Hill snaps instantly, as if Tony didn’t already know SHIELD’s position before he opened his mouth.

“Your weapons do a great deal of good,” Coulson says, placating, and Tony almost wants to laugh at the idea that they still think they can persuade him into this, into anything

“Save your breath,” he says instead. “I’m not interested in helping you turn against whoever disagrees with you this week. If you’ve got nothing else to say, I’ll go back to my room and attempt to die in peace.”

Coulson sighs and leans back from the table, glancing at Hill. Her face sets resolutely, and she steps forward and picks up the reactor in one hand. “If you’re really not going to take it, we won’t give you the choice.”

Icy numbness spreads across Tony’s chest. “Meaning what?”

“Meaning I have a surgical team with a welding torch on standby.”

Tony’s jaw clenches and his toes curl. He inhales and forces himself to loosen up again and stop throwing tells all over the place. “Really getting the feeling you’re the good guys, when you threaten me with untested, invasive, nonconsensual medical procedures.” His throat is dry, clicking on the words.

Hill blinks, facade unbroken. “We do what has to be done, Stark.”

Tony draws himself up. Not this time. He’s not letting them get away with this. If he wants to die he’s damn well going to do it, and SHIELD are never going to get their hands on one more piece of his tech-

There’s a knock at the door and Hill and Coulson both snap up, frowning. Tony’s surprised too. What the hell is so important that someone would interrupt evil deeds in progress? Coulson glances at Hill - checking for permission, no prizes for guessing which of them got their ass in Fury’s chair first - and then goes to answer the door.

“If that’s the pizza I ordered, tell him he’s fifteen minutes late,” Tony throws over his shoulder, and grins at the exasperation flashing across Hill’s features. But in true SHIELD agent style, that’s all the reaction he gets.

Coulson opens the door, and Tony twists in his chair to take a look.

It’s another agent, completely panicked - her dark skin ashen and sweaty, her hands shaking, eyes wide. “Director, you have - sorry, sir-” She looks past Coulson, having taken an entire three seconds to work out that he isn’t a woman in a catsuit, and stares at Hill. “Director, there’s something - you have to come - it’s urgent.”

“It had better be,” Hill says, frowning, but she puts the reactor back down, crosses the room without further question and follows the agent out.

Huh. Looks like it is important. It’s not easy to rattle SHIELD like that.

Tony looks at Coulson, left behind to babysit him, and smirks. “It’s alright, buddy. I’m sure you’ll be allowed to play with the big kids someday.”

Coulson lifts an eyebrow and walks back over to the table, staying out of Tony’s reach like he’s worried about another kick in the balls. “I don’t know what you think your attitude is going to achieve.”

Tony shrugs. “Keeps me entertained. And it pisses you off, which is good enough on its own.”

Coulson picks up the reactor and Loki’s knife and starts tucking them back in the case. “You don’t want to be pissing me off, Mr. Stark. I quite literally hold your life in my hands.”

“Already told you I don’t want it. Let’s say I did start bowing and scraping, would you let me die?”

Coulson’s silent, and Tony grins. “Didn’t think so.”

Coulson doesn’t answer that either, just seals the case, picks it up and leaves the room. He shuts the door behind him and Tony hears a key turn in the lock.

He exhales slowly, breath shuddering much more than he’d like, and presses the heels of his hands to his temples for just a second to damn well get it together.

Okay. So what if SHIELD does keep him alive? So nothing. There’s always a way to end it, if you want it hard enough, and right now there’s very, very little that Tony wouldn’t do to stop all of this.

Everything’s going to be fine. He can prevent his legacy from getting any worse, can do this one last thing to make amends.

And he did single-handedly get the Asgardians off the planet. He might even be in the green right now. Maybe it’s best to quit while he’s ahead.

Not that he can do much about it from here.

He uncrosses and recrosses his legs and props his heels back on the table, and settles in for a long wait.

~

Goddammit, Tony doesn’t care anymore if it does maul his hand, he’s going to do something about the damn air conditioner.

The thing sounds like it hasn’t been serviced since the Russian Revolution, and the metallic rattling drone is driving him absolutely crazy. If Coulson had left him that reactor, Tony would have used it to blow up the thing up by now.

He climbs up onto the table, balancing carefully with his hands cuffed together, and reaches up to the vent in the ceiling. The screws are loose enough that he can just undo them with his fingers, and he drops them to the table and yanks the cover off. 

The spinning fan blades are wobbling off-axis, shaking and scraping the edges of the housing, loud enough to be filling his entire fucking head with the noise. Tony grits his teeth and shuts his eyes and swings the cover into the fan.

The metal’s ripped from his hands and it slams into a wall. Tony slips and drops to one knee before he can fall, hands splayed flat against the table to catch himself. His heart’s pounding and his breath is racing, adrenaline rushing through his body because he almost died twice just now, flying metal and broken neck, but once he can hear over the hammering heartbeat in his ears, the goddamn aircon has finally gone silent.

He grins. Totally worth it.

But he also hears loud marching steps outside, which is definitely an improvement in sound quality but doesn’t necessarily say anything pleasant about his immediate future, if Hill’s sending a squad this big for him.

The footsteps stop outside the door and the key grates in the lock. Tony slides back down off the table and arranges himself, elegantly slumped in the chair like he’s been kept waiting for them and couldn’t give a fuck that he’s their prisoner - all true, really - and settles a media smirk across his mouth.

The door swings open and Tony almost falls out of his chair.

What the hell is Loki doing here?

Tony blinks, but Loki’s still standing there, tall and haughty and stupidly gorgeous in full elaborate armor, green cape, and a gold helmet with horns arching high above his head, his features cold and dark, and Tony swallows.

Loki ducks inside, helmet nearly scraping the lintel, and straightens up and just looks at Tony. His gaze flickers across Tony’s body, lingers on the cuffs around his wrists and his bare feet, and then Loki arches an eyebrow and huffs a soft laugh.

“Well, I admit I didn’t expect this of you.”

He expected something else? Tony blatantly broke their deal, and Loki’s still making everything about him? Loki should have been gone hours ago, should be on Asgard right now - has he come all the way back just to make Tony pay? 

Like he promised he would?

Shit.

“What are you doing here?”

Loki waves a hand, and an Asgardian soldier appears in the hallway outside to shut the door and seal them in together. Loki sighs and walks over to Tony, eyes fixed on his, and Tony’s stomach churns with every long, slow step, because he’s in trouble now…

Loki reaches for him and Tony sits frozen as Loki cups his cheek with a gentle hand. “We are come- no.”

Loki bends down and Tony’s tilting his head back before he even thinks about it, and Loki kisses him.

Slow and intent, lips pressed firmly to Tony’s, tongue sliding inside to trace the shape of Tony’s mouth, warm and wet and sweet. Loki’s fingers fan across Tony’s cheek and their lips part for just an instant, breath whispering between them before Loki’s tasting him again, his thin lips soft and silky, and Tony kisses him back because he doesn’t know what else to do, but this doesn’t feel like punishment 

Then Loki pulls away, retreating to stare at Tony with something raw, longing and… regret.

Loki draws in a breath and straightens, spinning and pacing away, hands knotted behind his back. “Now we are come to the end of the lies, Tony Stark. Yours…”

He turns his head to meet Tony’s eyes. “And mine.”

Chapter Text

“So what is this, Twenty Questions?” Tony asks flippantly so Loki can’t tell how fast his head is spinning - what the hell did Loki lie about, what’s he going to do to me when he knows what I lied about - and he folds his fingers together as best he can with cuffs around his wrists, so Loki can’t see his hands shaking.

Loki arches a cool eyebrow. “It will take as many questions as it needs to take. I intend to have everything laid clear. I am sick of pretense, Stark. I want…”

“Want what?”

Loki’s tongue flickers across his lips, still red from their kiss, and he slowly paces back towards Tony. “Was anything you gave me real?”

What? That question? Why does Loki care? How can he be so invested in Tony that he wants to know every little detail of what happened? It’s pretty obvious that Tony wasn’t a regular prisoner, not with the way Loki sent the Asgardians packing for Tony’s asking; Loki must have felt something for him, but now… Tony broke his trust, didn’t come back like he promised, used Loki for all he was worth and then tossed him aside. How has Loki not given up on him yet? Why doesn’t he want to just forget it ever happened?

But it’s not like Tony’s ever going to say any of that, so he swallows and makes himself glare back up at Loki. “Were you?

Loki sighs, and reaches up to pull his helmet off; it’s tousled his black hair out of its usual sleekness. He sets the helmet down on the table with a heavy metal clunk, and brushes his fingers over the smooth curve of one of the horns. He’s chewing on the inside of his cheek, somewhere between uncertain and angry, eyes intensely focused on where he touches the metal, clearly refusing to look at anything else. “I concealed some things from you, yes. But nothing-” his gaze snaps to Tony, “like what you concealed from me.”

He takes a stiff step towards Tony’s chair. His voice is brittle. “That accusation you flung at me. Yesterday morning. Explain that.”

Yesterday morning? God, that feels like a lifetime ago; Fury’s death is already hours behind him, and the Asgardian camp is even further back. But yesterday morning would have been…

That was when Tony attacked the energy shield with the reactor. When Loki stopped him, and Tony confronted him with…

“Pathetic murderer?”

Loki gives him the filthy glare that deserves, and Tony gets a grip on himself and gives in.

“Rapist.”

Loki’s flinch slips past the iron grip he’s got on himself. “Explain that.

“Explain?” Red heat surges up inside Tony’s gut and hurls the words out. “You want me to explain? You’re the one that did it!”

“I never,” Loki snarls, hand slamming to the table as he rushes into Tony’s space to bring them eye-to-eye. “Name one time I held you down against your will, one time I did not ask for your desires. When did you strike at me to make me stop? When did I hear the word no from these lips with which you kissed me?”

“You could break my neck without even trying! You think I was gonna say no, that hitting you would’ve done any good?

Loki’s jaw clenches. “What kind of monster do you take me for?”

Tony glares. “You invade my planet for no fucking reason and hold me prisoner for fun, you send the others back so traumatized they can’t speak a single word about what happened in there and so beat up they don’t get back into combat for weeks, and that’s if they don’t lose it all over again at the sight of you running up to kill them. From here, you’re every kind of monster.”

Tony shoots up out of his chair and chases Loki when he takes a step back. “You slaughter us and you laugh while you’re doing it, and then you snatch up the survivors to play with whether we like it or not. What did we ever do to you? You come down here and walk all over us - and now-” Tony laughs and knows it’s wild, knows this is spiraling too far out of control, but that’s exactly why he can’t stop, “now you’re blaming me for keeping my mouth shut and my head attached to my body? You wanted-

“I never wanted this,” Loki says, raising a rigid finger between them. “That first day I went too far, I admit it. But I asked that in future you would tell me if I transgressed again. I tried, Stark! I never wanted to be cruel, thoughtlessly cruel, never wanted your torment unwilling. And if you-” Loki snarls it, teeth gritted and eyes flashing, “chose instead to hold your silence, do not blame me for being ignorant of your wishes.”

Loki blinks, and eases back, tension seeping out of his hand. He lays it gently on Tony’s chest, fingers spreading over his heart. “You were so eager to please me,” Loki whispers, eyes pleading. “Agreed to everything and begged me for more. I thought… Why yield to me if you didn’t want me?”

“Why? Oh, let me think, why would I want to avoid making you angry at me when you control whether I live or die? Why would I want to keep myself safe when I know for a fact that you killed six of your prisoners? I’ve seen the damage you do to the people you take! I didn’t choose to keep my mouth shut, there was nothing else I could do! But no, I can’t think of any reason I’d do what you said.”

Loki’s lips thin and his eyes shine with pooling tears. “No. Enough for simple obedience, perhaps, but not the rest. You did too much for that. It was not fear that had you pleading for my touch and laughing at my tales. Or sharing your own and attempting to outmatch me.”

Loki’s hand on Tony’s chest is warm through the fabric of his prison jumpsuit, slick with sweat, pulse racing. Tony’s heart is running even faster, shallow and shaking against his ribs. He’s not used to this, being caught in his lies, having to explain himself. Not used to having somebody care so much about the truth of what he did.

“Tell me,” Loki begs, eyes bleeding pain, and dammit, but Tony didn’t do all this to ruin Loki’s life.

He sighs and looks away. “I’ve been using you since day one. Last Thursday, I dropped myself on the field and hoped you’d take me back so I could see inside your camp. Find your weaknesses and use them against you. I’m not really a forward scout, either, since we’re clearing the air - I actually designed every weapon that’s been keeping you back. Not very effective so far, but I stopped you overrunning us. Those suits, the missiles, the metal alloys in the knives, that’s all mine - point is, I needed information to make my weapons better. Needed to know where your weak spots were and what I could exploit. So…” Tony swallows, heat washing through his body. Shame. Sick humiliation. “That’s why I played nice. Willing. Fuck, pliant. Did everything you asked. I hoped it’d soften you up enough that you’d give something away.”

He shrugs, and still doesn’t meet Loki’s eyes, just stares through the dull gray carpet. “That’s why I’m in here, really. Everything I wanted, everything I put up with you for, it was all to get here. I had to kill someone. That’s why I couldn’t let you take me to Asgard. Guy wasn’t dead yet. And after I killed him… well, honestly, I planned to come back to you like I promised. Figured you’d get me off the planet and out of SHIELD’s reach, that I’d rather be your pet than dead. But they caught me before I got out. Stuck me in here. Never thought I’d see you again - and you should probably know I’m also dying. Arc reactor, believe it or not. Never got a replacement. Less than a week left, so whatever you’re planning on doing to me now…” Tony lifts his head. “Make it fast.”

Loki stares at him.

And strikes him hard across the face.

“You dare!” he shouts, as Tony gasps for breath and presses his hand to his throbbing cheek, head snapped to the side from the force of Loki’s backhand. “You dare accuse me when you wanted - when you sought my attentions, my presence, my pleasure - you lied without pause and you dare curse me for believing you!”

“I had to!” Tony shouts back, cheek flaming, heart pounding, words flying from his mouth like he’s vomiting them. “I damn well had to! I couldn’t just stand back and let you kill everyone, I had to do something to stop you! Sure, I lied, I lied about everything, I was selling myself for information, but you’re the one who made me do it! I needed to stop you. You set all this in motion, this whole war is your fault. It’s all on you.”

“Not mine,” Loki hisses, eyes brittle and bright like glass. “Not my war. I did nothing to you but offer shelter - no, I provided it at your request! I was ready to refuse you and set you free of me when you begged to stay. I have done nothing you did not ask for.”

Tony glares back. “And I told you, I had to. Doesn’t mean I wanted it, and frankly, I don’t remember asking to be worked over with that damn crop. Or chained to your bed. Collared, bitten, bruised, fucked, that was all your idea! Stripped naked for everyone to stare at me while I was sleeping, stripping you like it was my job-”

“Oh, but it was,” Loki snarls. “You gave yourself to me when you asked me to keep you. Your word.

“I didn’t have a choice!”

Loki lifts his chin. “Then tell me, which of us is in the wrong?"

It stops Tony short like a punch to the gut. Slap to the face. “What?”

“You acted to protect your people. I acted as you wished me to. So which of us was wrong?” Loki shrugs. “Kill me for violating you if you must, but if you do, I shall kill you for using me against my brother.”

Tony swallows and wipes his face media-appearance blank. He knows all too well how it feels to find out that a friend sees you as nothing but a tool, and God knows that’s exactly what Tony did, worming information out of Loki to bring him and his people down. And he was willing to do worse, to use Loki against himself; circumstance and nothing more was what stopped Tony from trying to drive a wedge between Loki and his brother. Tony’s come to peace with that, he knows why he would have done it and what it was worth, but that doesn’t change Loki’s side of things. Prisoner or not, war or not, Loki offered Tony his trust and Tony broke it.

God, Tony’s been telling himself all along it wasn’t actually rape. That he was in control, that he had Loki right where he wanted him, that Tony had set himself up to be there. Is it really as easy as Loki’s saying, to just admit that shit happened to both of them and nobody deserves to be crucified for it?

“And if you’re right?” Tony glances up. “If this is, what, a one-all draw and we cancel each other out?”

Loki’s eyes go wide and his lips fall apart. “You… you agree?”

Tony shrugs. “I guess. Now that I’m not insanely angry at you, you’re kind of right. It’s not like I said no. And yeah, I thought I didn’t have that option, and I couldn’t have taken it if I had, but that doesn’t change what you heard. So yes, I used you. Think it’s fair to say that from here, you used me. Let’s say we do push that off the table, what now? Hey, what did you lie about?”

Loki’s still staring, but he shakes himself out of it and draws himself up slowly. His voice is heavy like a confession. “I would never have let you go.”

“Uhh…”

“The first time I laid with you, I asked you to stay, forever. You refused, and I agreed to release you with the others on the eve of the battle.”

Loki’s hands clench into fists by his sides. “But I meant to spend the entire day hunting the field for you, just to strike you down and take you back, and then I would have demanded the price to change your mind, and paid it, whatever it was. This man you wanted dead above all else - I would have slaughtered him and a thousand others if that would have freed you to be mine. Sending my brother’s army from your world is the least of what I would have done for your asking.”

His shoulders hunch lower in obvious distress. “I know it dishonorable. But I am a dishonorable thing, and I had to have you.”

“Holy crap, you’ve got high standards.”

Loki blinks, surprised out of his despair. “What?”

Tony is this close to bursting into laughter. “Wanting to find out all my problems and solve them for me is pretty low on the spectrum of creepy stalking. That’s way less awful than what I did to you.”

Loki exhales shakily, and he reaches out a careful hand. His fingertip brushes Tony’s chest and flawlessly traces the reactor housing hidden under Tony’s jumpsuit. “Then you forgive it? This terrible desire to possess you utterly?”

Tony smirks. “I’ve seen worse. People have kidnapped me against my will.”

Loki’s eyes snap up to his, and Tony can almost hear him demand Tell me! and want to storm off and annihilate anyone even remotely connected to the Ten Rings.

Tony reaches up and pats Loki’s arm soothingly. “Long time ago. Sort of. Definitely in the past, though. Real question is what you’re going to do with me now.”

Loki settles back, and raises his hand to cup the side of Tony’s neck. “You need to escape this world, I believe?”

Escape? Wait, as in - you’d take me? You still want me?” Tony’s jaw might actually drop. How have you not given up? “I thought you were here to, you know. Kill me. For breaking the deal.”

Loki’s lip twitches in amusement. “Hardly fair, when I have brought Asgardians back onto your world. I have broken our deal too.”

“Oh.” Tony glances at Loki’s feet on the floor like he needs confirmation. “Huh. So you have.”

“Indeed. So I am willing to make a new deal.” Loki finally lays his hand gently along Tony’s cheek, fingertips threading into his hair. “I will save you from your commander if you will give yourself to me in exchange. But I will not take you if all I am to you is the means for your survival. If my touch-” his fingers twist, a little tug at Tony’s hair, “is merely an unwelcome burden.”

“Well, that dumps us in kind of a dilemma,” Tony says, sinking into the comfortable groove of a problem to be solved. “Because we both know that I’ve lied to you before to get what I want. So let’s say…” He smiles slowly, seductively, and steps forward into Loki’s space, leaning his chest into the hard metal of Loki’s armor. “I loved being yours. I’ve just spent hours locked up and all that time I was thinking about you. Wishing I could have got back to you. Dreaming about everything I’d missed out on. You’re not unwelcome at all. It’s true.”

Loki’s gaze is filled with longing, but his jaw clenches and his hand drops away. “Is it true?”

“See?” Tony retreats and jabs a finger to make his point. “If you’re laying down an ultimatum like that, you can’t believe anything I say. So somehow it’s up to you.” Not me, not me, why not me, I can’t control this if it’s not up to me - Tony swallows to settle his stomach and makes himself look Loki in the eye. “You’ve got to pick whether to take me or not. But incidentally,” Tony throws out, “it is true.”

God, the hope in Loki’s face…

“Because here’s the thing,” Tony says. “I did like it.”

It’s the first time he’s managed to admit it out loud.

“I didn’t want to like it, but I did. I didn’t want to - anything, with you. All I wanted was to get my intel and get back out. But you’re… You threw that plan out pretty early. I caught myself liking you, then liking what you did, what we did… I didn’t want to like it, but you didn’t give me a choice in that either.”

Understanding dawns slowly in Loki’s gaze. “I hate Thor,” he breathes. “I despise him. And yet I love him more than I can say.”

Yes,” Tony says. “It’s complicated, isn’t it? Really messes with your head. The whole prisoner thing didn’t help, either.”

And just when Tony thinks they’ve finally got onto the same page, somehow that makes Loki’s brow crease in confusion. “How so?”

“Seriously?” Tony feels his eyebrows shoot up. “You’re going to stumble over that? Pretty sure we already covered the whole you-could-kill-me subsection. Not to mention the part where you beat me into it. You know, the first night. You said - what was it - I didn’t look like the type to surrender easily, so you’d have to whip me until I did. Then you chained me to your bed, put a collar on me - if you weren’t trying to tell me at every turn that I was powerless and you completely owned me, you did a fair impression of it.”

“You thought…” Loki’s face goes dead white. “You thought I meant…”

“Let me make this very clear: helpless… prisoner. What else was I supposed to think?”

Loki shakes his head, almost frantic. “All I did - you offered pleasure, and I took it. I did nothing before we struck our bargain, either of them - and do not forget, you made me think I pleased you, too! You are beautiful in chains, glorious when you bear pain, so sweet when you obey me - oh, I wanted that, Stark, I never told you how much I wanted you. From the first moments I had to have you, so yes, I beat you - why would you surrender to me if I had not earned it? You did not choose me, Thor did that for you - your honor demanded you not yield without proof of my strength. You were all but my guest, Stark! Sharing my table and my bed to entertain us both. The days on campaign are long and dull, you felt that - you must understand my wish for company - you trusted me so utterly I dared go further and further…” Loki meets Tony’s eyes, desperate. “I can explain it all, please, allow me…”

Tony goes to spit Company? with extreme derision, but it sticks in his throat. Because he remembers Loki with all those mocking rhetorical questions, I’m going to whip you and then fuck you bloody, tell me what you think of that, and suddenly they don’t sound quite so rhetorical any more. Not a taunt after all; actually asking for Tony’s input? The soothing creams, the massages for Tony’s exhausted muscles, the cold water Loki brought him to drink - not barely enough to keep him alive to play with, but all the aftercare Loki had to offer. Everything was always I want this, I want that… Loki didn’t actually tell Tony to do it. Just said what he wanted, and let Tony get things rolling…

And Loki’s right, those days on the march were incredibly boring…

Tony always thought Loki was only playing at being kind, but now - was he playing the haughty overlord instead? Because there were moments, so many moments, when Loki threw orders around, made Tony sit on the ground by his feet - but even then, Loki didn’t ask for anything completely awful, he smiled when Tony sassed him, and he never actually laid a finger on Tony in anger…

It fits. Goddamn, it all fits.

“But we… I was still a prisoner, right? It’s not like you thought I had hotel reservations?”

Loki sighs, some of the panic seeping out of him. “Yes, you were. All of your kind we took, we captured and held at our whim, and when you transgressed you were punished for it. But we did not intend to take your will from you. Of course you were still kept confined, barred from our secrets, but I hope… I gave you every comfort, every courtesy, in my power. Ensured you were fed well and clothed warmly, that your pleasure was granted you… If you thought I mocked you or toyed with you…”

And Tony can’t keep it back anymore. Yeah, they have to clear the air of the immense issues here, but that doesn’t mean dragging Loki over the coals for longer than he has to. “Actually, I did notice you taking care of me. That was… good.”

“It was?”

Tony shifts his weight to his other foot, then gives up and leans back against the table. “No more lies, you said. I didn’t understand it, but I did notice. Clothes, food, letting me sleep, check. Getting me off, noticed that too. Of course, now it makes sense what was going on with that, but let me tell you, I was seriously confused at the time.”

“Are captives of your people not given these things? Is that the norm?”

“Can be. Has been. That’s why I expected it from you. War doesn’t… the ugly doesn’t stay in combat like you’re talking about. Your side, that sounds legit, consensual, just with a boatload of unspoken negotiation. Which caused problems, but okay, I’ll buy that. But here, that’s not how it works. If you’re captured, best you can hope for is that you’ll be left alone without starving to death before the war ends. Apart from that, you get some not very nice people involved who think they own everyone they point a gun at. People as literal property, and not as an on-hand escort dating service. Warprize means somebody who isn’t treated as human anymore.”

“To us,” Loki says, stepping forward slowly, “to me, it means a warrior whom I prize. Someone I value and want. It means that I have conquered you personally, that I have persuaded you to leave your fellows and join my service and stand at my side. You have found me worthy of keeping you, I am strong enough and bold enough and a good enough fuck-”

Tony sniggers at that and Loki smirks at him. “I never said it was particularly noble. Better men than you have been led by their lusts. You should see what my brother has allowed himself to be dragged into.”

“Was he as decent to Romanoff as you were to me? Apparently?”

“I told you she was his ideal companion. That he desired her greatly. Did that not satisfy you?”

And she told Tony that Thor was generous. Liked talking to her. Showed her a pretty good time, persuaded her to sleep with him instead of just doing it. No, Thor wasn’t pretending to have a conscience…

Okay, so Tony definitely shouldn’t give up his day job to become a spy, because he managed to completely misinterpret all of that. But he’s not going to blame himself for being overcautious and paranoid, not when he had every reason to see things his way, and the consequences of getting it wrong were so high. If he’d taken advantage of Loki’s kindness only to find it hadn’t existed…

Still. “Must have missed the fine details of that part.”

“We have missed many details, it seems,” Loki says softly. He hesitates, tongue licking across his lips, before he meets Tony’s eyes and goes on, even softer than before. “Did you mean what you said, about still wishing to come back with me? To make something of this?”

“I guess-"

Loki shakes his head. “No more half-truths, Stark. Is your life mine? Yes, or no?”

Tony stops. Drums his fingers against his biceps and actually thinks about it.

Thinks about the tortured look on Loki’s face when Tony first accused him. The hours of easy conversation and Loki wanting Tony with him all the time. The tears on Loki’s face when he realized how close he’d come to killing Tony wrongly. The whispered praise in Tony’s ear the first time they fucked, please, let me keep you, exquisite, I want to keep you. The sheer pleasure in Tony’s body, real despite the guilt and loathing. Clever thing, Loki’s sincere compliment the very first night. The temptation to desert from SHIELD and stay with Loki, already there before Tony knew any of this. Tomorrow we start again, Loki said, even back then wanting to make things right between them.

Tony looks back up, and says it firmly. “Yes.”

Loki shudders, tension pouring off his body. “Generous,” he murmurs at last, voice shaking. “Or mad. To forgive.”

“Same to you.”

Loki’s eyes fall shut. “Last we stood here, the bargain was simple. Shelter in exchange for fooling Thor into leaving me in peace. But now…” Loki reaches out and cups the side of Tony’s neck. “You complicate matters. You cannot endure this price, Stark, cannot suffer in silence and consider it worth your earnings. You give yourself to me utterly in this bargain; you offer me permission for whatever pleases me. Can you kneel with a smile on your face and laughter in your eyes? The trials I want to see you suffer… Can you allow me to strike you and chain you and dress you as I will, and find no fault? There are many things I would do to you, Tony Stark, and I want you to surrender to them all. And this you give in exchange for your life. Can you truly follow me to Asgard - to my vicious lusts - and never long for your own world?”

Tony shrugs, and offers a grin that’s just on the serious side of flirty. “I guess we’ll find out. And hey, if it doesn’t work between us, deal’s off. You can always throw me back to SHIELD, nothing lost. I guarantee they’ll be happy to take me off your hands. Or maybe your brother won’t mind picking up your leftovers.”

Loki laughs, surprised. “Oh, Stark… I assure you, he is the last master you desire. This war you so wished to end was all his idea, the battle-hungry idiot-”

Hold up. “What do you mean, all his idea?”

“Oh, yes.” Loki shrugs. “Father delayed his coronation, and Thor sought out something to occupy himself with in the meantime. War upon your planet kept him distracted from his misery.”

Distracted - thousands of people dead, hundreds taken prisoner, Pepper dead, all because some bastard prince was bored - Tony’s choking on it, can’t see past the anger burning his eyes - “A distraction?” he pants, “We’ve been barely hanging on this whole time for his entertainment-”

Loki’s hands push him back down into the chair. “Breathe, Stark,” he orders, and wraps a hand around Tony’s throat to cut off his speech and make him gasp - and his lungs stop screaming now that he’s finally getting some air in. Tony exhales, inhales again, and Loki’s other hand strokes soothingly down his arm. “That’s it. I have not done all this to have you perish in fright at the thought of my brother.”

Tony pushes Loki’s hands off. “Screw you, I’m not afraid, I’m pissed.”

“Ahh. Much better,” Loki says, savoring. His eyes narrow slightly, regarding Tony carefully. “You may as well know now as later, I have… plans to move against Thor. You are not the only one with a grievance against him.”

“You? What’s he done to you?”

“Do you think it pleases me to slaughter your people? Do you think I am amused by the deaths of your warriors? Thor made this war, not I. He dragged me along unwilling.”

“So why’d you come at all?”

Loki raises an eyebrow at him. “Because he would have it so. Do you think I can ever refuse to serve my brother, my future king?” He shrugs it off casually like he doesn’t realize he’s just put himself in the same pseudo-no-free-will boat as Tony was in. “He cared just enough to promise me some pleasing trophy, to bribe me in an attempt at apology. He gave me you, after many failures, so I suppose he succeeded.” His lips thin and he glances away. “And… I was pleased, in some way. That he desired my presence so much that he would insist on it…”

Tony winces. Sibling problems aren’t really his field, but he remembers every time Howard let him attend a press conference or a gala, brought him into the light and made sure everyone knew that Tony was his son. He also remembers the months without any contact, the biographies in magazines that didn’t even mention Howard had a son, the absences at Tony’s birthdays and award ceremonies and graduation. There were times he would have done anything for his father to look at him, to get back into his sight.

He knows the anguish of not being good enough, and the relief when for once you get there, and the terror when you slip again. He knows what it’s like to want something so much you don’t care that it’s killing you.

“Ouch,” Tony offers weakly.

Loki barks a humorless laugh. “Indeed. And I have had enough of this pain. Enough of his promises of love though he denies to notice me where anyone else can see. Enough of his callous ignorance and unthinking cruelty, enough of being always beneath him, always in his shadow, always stepping aside to make way for mighty Thor.

Loki spits the name and his fists clench, going white at the knuckles. “So I am going to bring him down. For once, I will have him kneel before me instead. I will own him as he has owned me, and I shall end this pathetic competition for the throne. And you…” He turns, green cape swirling around him, and looks at Tony with burning eyes and a dangerous smile. “If you truly mean to give yourself to me, you will have to help me in this, too. You offered me comfort before, and now I ask for something greater.”

“Is this the part where you knock off your older brother so you’re first in line?”

Loki goes cold and slowly levels a single finger towards Tony. “Suggest killing Thor again and I shall tear out your tongue.”

Tony swallows around the suddenly-thick obstruction of said tongue. “Okay.”

Loki smiles and he waves it aside, but Tony’s nowhere near dumb enough to believe that Loki’s saying he was only kidding. More like he’s sure he’s gotten through to Tony and they’re moving on. He might be nice for an alien warlord, but that doesn’t mean he’s safe. “Killing Thor would be nothing. What does it prove, that I can enter an unbarred chamber, and take a dagger to the throat of a sleeping man? Murder is easy. A heartbeat.”

Tony thinks of Fury’s blood coating his hands, the oh-so-smooth slicing of the blade through clothing and skin and flesh. The single moment in which he pulled the knife from his pocket and turned around and used it. “It’s not enough.”

Loki meets Tony’s eyes, calm and considering, and inclines his head. “Not nearly,” he agrees. “No, Stark, I want something better.”

“And what’s that?”

Loki smiles. “I don’t need to murder Thor to claim what is his. I will have him give it to me. I cannot hold the throne myself - I would last perhaps a week before being overthrown in his favor, no matter how legitimate my ascension. No, the throne must be Thor’s, but I will not allow him to take it unchallenged. I want him to know that he is nothing but a brainless warrior, fit only to be a weapon wielded at my commandment, and as unlike a true king as I am unlike a-”

“Brainless warrior.”

“Just so,” Loki says, grinning widely. His eyes are glittering with what would be mania if he weren’t so obviously in control of everything. “I will have Thor bow his head and know himself for the lowly, vain, mindless beast that he is, to kneel in the dust where he belongs and weep for his failures. And then…” Loki tips his head back and just luxuriates. “Then I shall kiss away his tears and tell him he is loved, he is forgiven, and if he will bow to me I shall make of him the finest king Asgard has ever seen. He can have Asgard if I can have him. He is my brother, after all, and not without some merits.”

He looks back at Tony. “I don’t ever want him dead, Stark. Understand that everything will be meaningless if he is not there to see it. I want him to take the throne with the adoration of all Asgard, and then freely kneel before me and kiss my feet and call me his king, and count himself well-pleased.”

He grins. “So. That, Stark, is what I want; what I want of Thor, at least. But you-” His hand shoots out and cups Tony’s chin to make him lift his head and stare Loki in the eye. “What gifts can I offer you? What would you have of me?”

Tony blinks. Reboots his brain from thinking all about Loki. “God. What I want? I wish you’d just tell me, you’re the one with all the good ideas. I’m fresh out, I just got everything I want. Then again, considering where it’s landed me-” he glances around the windowless room and at the thin, ugly cuffs around his wrists, “fixing that would be a good start.”

“Oh, you’re coming with me,” Loki says. “Make no mistake, I will not be leaving you behind now. But if I am all you want…” Loki’s eyes glow, and he reaches out to palm Tony’s cheek softly, fingers splayed wide. He gently directs Tony to stand until they’re eye to eye.

“Swear yourself to me, and there is nothing I will not do for you,” Loki breathes. “Let me depend on your loyalty and your service, give me everything and I shall return you more than you can dream. Do whatever I ask and you shall have whatever you wish, and together we shall bring my brother to his knees where he belongs.”

Tony arches an eyebrow. “You know I’m in this for you, right? You don’t have to offer revenge on your brother to make me want you.”

It jars Loki out of his speechifying and he seems to shrink, averting his eyes, his hand twitching on Tony’s cheek. “I am not…” His jaw sets, angry and stubborn. “What do you want of me, then?”

“Are you expecting a list of every single kink I’ve got? I’m more of a hands-on kinda guy. But… Hands-on means that sometimes I’m driving, even if it’s at your orders. I’ll admit letting you just bend me over how you like sounds good, but you could try letting me bend myself - I’m pretty flexible, and creative. I’ll be your warprize, fine, snatch me up and throw on all the chains you like, but don’t just take what you want.”

“I take what I want because you choose to give it to me,” Loki says, a little coldly. “You may be my conquered soldier - an oath of loyalty as binding as any sworn to your own king - but what I do with you is a game like any other. If I beat you and make you kneel and parade you through Asgard it shall be because the game pleases us both. And if the game does not please you we shall find a new one.”

He threads his free hand through Tony’s hair and steps closer, their legs almost touching. “You still don’t understand, do you? A meaningless fuck I can have from any whore in Asgard. Unquestioning servitude from any thrall. Blind affection from my idiot brother. But you - I want so much more from you. You who praise my mischief and ask to see more, who seek to challenge me when I fall short, who will be pleased to stand beside me - what of these can I force from you?”

Loki touches their foreheads together. “I can never make you want me, Tony Stark. I must earn that, you must gift it to me. I have gravely erred in my methods of gaining it, but your good regard has become precious to me. That is what I want from you. Crawl to me with the whip between your teeth and beg me for your lashes. Trust that your torment pleases me, and I shall return it in kind. Come with me to save your life, to escape your prison - but do these things because you wish to be mine, and see what terrible beauty we can wreak upon these realms.”

“Honestly,” Tony says, feeling a rolling wave rising in his chest, “I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.”

He surges forward and crushes their lips together.

Loki seizes Tony’s collar in one hand and grips Tony’s hair tight with the other. He kisses Tony like he’s starving, like he’s trying to burn his lips into Tony’s and leave scars. They’re swaying on their feet with the force of pushing into the kiss, and Loki’s hands shift to the small of Tony’s back to keep him upright, pouring heat through the thin cloth of Tony’s jumpsuit. Tony shivers and presses himself to Loki’s chest just to feel more of him.

Loki’s tongue clashes with his, hot and slick and frantic as Loki tries to crawl inside him, and Tony sucks on the offering and bites down to make Loki jump and hiss pleasure.

Loki pulls a hand away from Tony’s back to press against his chest. Over the hole where the reactor isn’t, and Tony goes cold and lets the kiss fall apart. “Dammit, yeah. About that. I really did mean the dying part.” Yes, he’s still dying, it’s still pointless to want anything-

“Will it kill you in the next half-hour?”

“No, but-”

Loki grabs a handful of Tony’s hair and pulls his head back, bending his neck sharply, to shut him up. Loki stares down imperiously. “You have others?”

Tony fights to speak through the tightness in his throat and the pain in his scalp. “SHIELD - SHIELD has them.”

“Good enough. Claim them once I’ve had you.”

“They aren’t going to just hand it over…”

“They will give you whatever I tell them to give you,” Loki says. “Trust me.”

And Tony does. Half because his head’s almost spinning with lust and adrenaline right now and he’ll happily do whatever he’s told, but half because Loki’s been trying all along to give Tony every reason to trust him. Tony’s the one who’s been using Loki, and if Loki’s willing to move past that…

Tony kisses him again.

Loki’s tongue slides into Tony’s mouth easily, traces his teeth and slips back out. He bites Tony’s lip sharply and Tony hisses at the pain and the shot of pleasure mixed with it, riding on the high from the kiss. Loki runs his hands down Tony’s arms, and hits the cuffs. He wraps his fingers around Tony’s wrists, breaks the kiss and pulls Tony’s hands sharply up between the two of them, making the metal links rattle. “These disgust me.”

“I’m not too fond of them either,” Tony pants, lips stinging with the rush of blood.

Loki grips the cuffs and twists with his fingers, and the metal strains and snaps just like that, falling free to the floor. Tony stares - how the fuck is Loki that strong, he just ripped the cuffs apart with his bare hands - before Loki’s on him again, fingers in Tony’s hair and yanking his head back to bare his neck for Loki’s mouth to devour. Tony moans into the wet heat, the thrilling scrapes of sharp teeth, flares of pain as Loki bites him just short of drawing blood. Loki’s other hand clutches at Tony’s chest, fingers digging in, nails raking over the fabric.

“This too,” Loki snarls, and then rips Tony’s jumpsuit open, scattering buttons everywhere and shredding the fabric. Tony yanks his arms free, shoves it down his legs and lets Loki push him out of the heap of orange around his feet, and manhandle him backwards.

“My prize is nothing less than fit for a king,” Loki says, hands tight around Tony’s arms as he pushes him against the wall. “I shall chain you in gold and jewels and the finest silks and leathers Asgard has to offer, and never allow Midgard’s filth to touch you again.”

Tony can’t speak, can only melt into Loki’s hands and mouth and slump against the wall. His head spins as Loki licks a long line across his collarbone, as he bites at Tony’s shoulder - and Tony groans as Loki grinds his thigh against Tony’s cock, flooding his body with friction and pressure and way too much everything.

“What say you to that, Stark?” Loki says, pulling back to let Tony see the hunger in his eyes and the slow way he licks his lips, savoring the taste of Tony’s skin.

But goddammit, Tony’s not in the mood to be teased, for Loki’s grandiosity to get the better of them both, and he chokes out the fastest answer he can.

Yours."

Loki laughs and steps away, stroking his hands once down Tony’s arms before simply staring at him. Everything recedes, fading from Tony’s skin like waves down a beach - the tide building up out of sight, low in his stomach. “Have you any idea what that means?”

“Some combination of your sub, your kept boy and your evil minion,” Tony rattles off. “I’m yours, I surrender, whatever the hell you want, now quit toying with me and make it worth my time!”

Loki slams his hand to the wall by Tony’s head, and Tony jumps and his pulse leaps, cock throbbing. Loki leans in slowly, breath catching Tony’s face. “You do not make demands of me, human,” he says, soft and dangerous. “You beg and you plead and you thank me for that privilege.”

Yes, yes, yes! Tony arches an eyebrow. “Make me.”

Loki’s eyes glow. “Dangerous words indeed,” he breathes. “I am willing to treat you kindly, to cajole every obeisance from you slowly - I would offer you reverence if you would have it. But you would not, is that what you mean to say? Would you play the stubborn prisoner who will only heed a show of strength? We both know how you want this.” Loki runs a finger down Tony’s stomach, slips under the cotton of his prison-issue briefs into the cradle of his hips, slow and teasing, and stops just short of the base of his cock. Loki smiles at the way Tony’s breath hitches. “But here you are, refusing to admit it. Make me, you say, as if everything in you isn’t screaming for me.”

Tony braces himself against the wall, because it’s that or fall down.

Loki presses his whole forearm to the wall and leans in even closer. “So, how shall I make you, Stark?”

Consent, negotiation, the back of Tony’s brain notes, but the rest of him is flooding with every kinky fantasy he flashed through before he thought he’d lost this - Loki promised he’d enjoy being whipped, he could give that a shot - or bondage involving nice gear - Loki dressing him up in leather, another collar - worked over a hundred times while trapped in a cock ring until he’s screaming for release…

“I told you, I’m very good at this,” Loki says idly, contemplative, as his fingers stroke shimmering trails of heat into Tony’s way-over-sensitized skin. “How many hours could you endure, I wonder? How long would you play? How long until your pride and your defiance, magnificent and glorious, wavered and fell aside?” He grins sharply. “How long can you deny yourself my fucking?”

It’s meant to make Tony go weak at the knees and fall to the floor, and it gets very, very close, but there’s iron in Tony’s spine and he keeps himself upright. He’s going to make Loki work harder for it than that.

He steps between Loki’s feet and leans forward, pressing himself up against Loki’s chest. “You know, I think you’re right,” he murmurs, tracing the cool metal edges of the armor plates. “I want it too much to wait.” He folds his arms behind Loki’s neck and gets even closer. “I want to know you’re not leaving me behind, and I want to feel how much you want me.”

Loki’s breathing has gone rough, and he lifts a hand and lays it, shaking slightly, along Tony’s bare ribs. “Do you, now?”

Score. “Claim me,” Tony murmurs, and bows his head to kiss at Loki’s neck, light, worshipful brushes of his lips. He can taste the heat and salt rising from Loki’s skin, and it’s delicious. “Make me yours. I submit. You win. So go ahead.”

Loki moans, head dropping back. “Stark…”

“Come on, Loki,” Tony coaxes. “Like you said, we both know I want this. We’ve got it right this time.”

He goes up on his toes to whisper in Loki’s ear. “I need you to fuck me.”

Loki seizes Tony around the waist and hauls him up, and slams his back into the wall. Tony gasps and wraps his legs around Loki’s torso to hold on as Loki’s hand tears away his underwear and leaves him naked, and starts fumbling at the lacing of his own pants. Loki’s armor cuts into Tony’s skin and it’s cold and hard against his cock, and he moans and squeezes Loki tighter.

“Greedy pet,” Loki says, and slaps Tony’s thigh sharply, leaving a stinging imprint that burns into pleasure. “Don’t think you’ll always get what you want.”

“Won’t I?” Tony smirks. “You know you want to give it to me.”

Loki shoves his leather pants over his hips and hoists Tony up higher, hands under his thighs. “Oh, but I rather think I’ll last longer than you will. You’ll break for me every time. I will make you beg, and crawl at my feet, and debase yourself so thoroughly you’ll know nothing but wanting to please me.”

Oh, god, yes, because if Tony’s going to do this, he’s going to take it as far as either of them can imagine, and Tony Stark never settles for anything less than everything. Loki wants him to sub? Tony can sub. Tony can sub like no-one ever subbed before. He’s going to blow Loki’s mind.

Among other things.

“Tell me you have butt plugs,” Tony says, “make me wear one for hours after you fuck me, so I’m loose and open and full of your come when you fuck me again-”

Loki gives a strangled shout and thrusts up against Tony’s ass, throbbing hard cock grinding behind his balls.

“Spreader bar - leave it on all night so you can just slide back in whenever you want…”

Loki pushes Tony harder against the wall and leans in to bite his shoulder, teeth digging deep and sending lances of lightning through Tony’s body.

Tony can’t breathe but that’s no reason to stop now, not when Loki’s falling apart so perfectly. “I want another collar, so you can pull on it when you fuck me from behind - make me call you master and stay on my knees unless you give me permission to ride you-”

“You will be the death of me,” Loki hisses, hips jerking faster. His cockhead finds the crease of Tony’s ass and pushes between his cheeks, catching on his rim. “More.

Tony grins, and rocks himself down to get some friction, finding a warm patch of leather right over Loki’s abs and grinding against it for all he’s worth. “I’ll sit right next to you at all those feasts Thor likes throwing and we’ll confuse the hell out of everyone watching. Whip marks across my back - no shirt, so you can show me off - and your collar around my neck like I should be chained to your bed waiting for you, but there I am, sitting all decent and legitimate like I belong at your side.”

“You do,” Loki gasps, and his head falls to Tony’s shoulder. “Everywhere but - especially there. Mine.” The shaft of his cock thrusts along Tony’s balls, the head leaving trails of wet precome on his skin. Tony tenses his thighs to pull Loki against him, a heel in Loki’s back and the other on his ass, and Loki growls and pulls a hand from under Tony’s thigh to grab both his wrists and pin them to the wall above his head. Tony moans and shifts, feels himself stretched out for Loki’s pleasure, the strain in his arms and his chest as Loki pulls his wrists higher. Loki pats Tony’s thigh with his other hand, and then reaches between them and wraps his fingers around Tony’s cock.

The flood of heat makes Tony go weak and he almost drops off Loki’s body. Loki growls and tugs Tony’s leg tighter around him - an unsubtle hint that he’s supposed to be holding himself up now - before taking his cock in hand again and squeezing.

“I own you,” Loki hisses into Tony’s neck. “You’ll bleed when I cut you and bruise when I strike you and you’ll come back for more. You will be punished and humbled and humiliated -I’ll make a proper prize of you and you shall offer your hands to be chained.”

He jerks Tony’s cock roughly and Tony shouts at the storm along his nerves, so good it almost hurts.

“I shall gag you and bind your hands behind your back and demand you bring me to release like that. And if you are very, very good, I will permit you to find your own. If you can.” He smirks and his fingers crush Tony’s wrists against the wall, holding him completely helpless.

“I’ll cage this needy cock of yours so you cannot spill unless I allow it.” He pumps Tony hard and Tony writhes at the sparking dry friction along his nerves, hips rocking desperately into Loki’s hand. “I’ll paint you in my seed until it drips from you - oh, I wonder how long it would take you to starve if all I fed you was my cock? How long could I keep you alive like that? How long would you let me?”

He sucks a harsh mark into Tony’s neck - Tony feels the blood pulled to the surface, skin going tender - and Tony shouts in pain as Loki bites down on that spot with sharp teeth.

“I want to tear you apart, I want to fuck you until you bleed from it, my beautiful Stark, proud and fine and wanton. The sounds you make when I soothe your wounds, your gratitude when I ease your pain… Oh, you will need a great deal of healing.”

Loki rakes his nails down Tony’s chest and Tony shouts out as they tear his skin, all stinging, glowing heat. “Stark,” Loki moans into Tony’s neck, and sears another mark into his throat. “Nothing now will stop me from having you.”

Yes,” Tony gasps, “we’re doing that, we’re doing fucking everything-

Loki smothers him with a kiss and starts jerking Tony off in earnest, twisting his hand around Tony’s cock in time with his own desperate thrusts against Tony’s ass. Tony’s back is slamming against the wall and Loki’s armor is cutting into his legs, it’s harsh and rough and they don’t have any lube and it’s perfect. The head of Loki’s cock is striking sparks against Tony’s skin and Tony’s whole body is burning with the strain, arms hanging from Loki’s grip on his wrists and his thighs tight around Loki’s waist as he holds on desperately.

Loki’s pouring fire up Tony’s spine and Tony just knows he’s writhing and moaning and rubbing himself off against Loki’s hand and trying to grind his balls against that hot and eager cock beneath him, his head’s thrown back and Loki’s lips are swallowing every gasp and barely deigning to give him air. Loki’s hand around his wrists clenches hard and he twists the other around Tony’s cock and Tony could almost disappear in the glorious white flare flooding every drop of his blood. Everything centers down on Loki and his body against Tony’s, the heavy weight of him pinning Tony to the wall, his mouth and hands and cock, all heat and pleasure-

Loki rips the kiss apart and leaves Tony’s lips stinging and raw. “Come for me,” Loki hisses in his ear, “come now or you’ll not come at all, my Stark,” and Tony gasps with need because he has to come but Loki will follow through on that promise if he doesn’t, and Tony sobs and begs and doesn’t even hear himself do it because he’s chasing that single spark, hips thrusting into Loki’s grip, trying to pull his hands free to finish it if Loki isn’t enough-

But of fucking course he’s enough, it’s Loki and it’s always been meant to be this way, and it’s a hard, tight slide of Loki’s hand right down to the base of Tony’s cock that does it.

The feeling inside Tony bursts out against the pressure around his cock and he’s gone, blindness crashing down on him and throwing him back as he’s turned inside-out and every cell in his body lights up. He pulses and shakes and pumps into Loki’s hand for more, letting everything go until there’s only the bliss along his nerves.

Tony comes back slowly, blinking and feeling the flares of pain starting to come up, the strain in his wrists and legs, and then the tender spots on his neck where Loki’s marked him and the throbbing of the old bruises that were kind of healing before he pounded them against a wall. But it all feels so good, almost too good to even hurt, and there’s a lingering burn in his muscles underlying the terrific orgasm and it makes it better.

Tony gasps for breath and his head drops forward, limp and heavy, his humid breath painting his chest and making the sweat covering his skin feel cold. His fingers twitch, numb, and his legs are starting to tremble more than he can stop them, but something’s still holding him up. His vision is filled with skin and shining gold metal, his cock streaked with come and lying against the gray-green leather covering…

“Loki,” Tony breathes finally, and his fingers strain to touch.

Loki’s hand under his thigh squeezes gently and takes a little more of his weight. His cock presses hot and insistent against Tony’s ass. 

“Don’t imagine we’re finished, Stark.”

Chapter Text

Tony lifts his head and leans it back against the wall to get enough room to stare Loki in his pupil-blown eye. “Wouldn’t dream of thinking we were finished.”

Loki smirks. He rolls his hips up, sliding his cock over Tony’s sweaty skin, shaft rubbing hot pinpricks along his balls, and leans in to Tony’s ear, black hair curling against Tony’s cheek. “Then best complete your task before I punish you for neglecting your prince.”

Tony lifts an eyebrow and glances up at Loki’s hand holding his wrists against the wall, and down at Loki’s other hand under his thigh. “And what do you want me to do about it from up here, exactly? I mean, I’m sure I could think of something eventua-”

Loki’s hands disappear and Tony’s weight rips his exhausted legs from around Loki’s body. His back scrapes against the wall as he drops, landing hard in a heap by Loki’s feet. The post-orgasm lassitude snaps away; this time it hurts, and he hisses pain as he pushes himself up on his hands and straightens his spine.

It puts Loki’s erect cock right in front of Tony’s mouth, so close the bead of precome at the tip is almost brushing his lips. He can smell hot musk and sweat and arousal, and he’s leaning in to taste just like that.

He wraps his lips around the head and sucks gently, salty fluid across his tongue, Loki’s pulse hard and fast against his teeth. Tony draws him deeper, throbbing flesh filling his mouth, Loki’s taste sharp in the back of his throat. Tony lifts his hands - sore and tingling with returning blood - and braces himself against Loki’s leather-clad thighs as he leans in closer. 

Above him, Loki gives a drawn-out moan, and one of his hands slides into Tony’s hair and grips tight, holding him down, keeping his mouth stuffed full of that thick cock. Tony lifts his tongue and works it along the underside as he starts sucking again, drinking the drops of precome, opening his throat and moving in to swallow Loki down.

Ohhh,” Loki groans, fingers clenched in Tony’s hair, and his hips thrust forward enough to push Tony backwards into the wall. Tony grins around Loki’s cock stretching his lips wide, and shuffles the few inches across the floor until his back’s pressed flush to the wall again and there’s literally nowhere to go. It leaves just the head of Loki’s cock in his mouth, and Tony wraps his lips tight around it and palms the backs of Loki’s thighs, stroking until Loki takes the hint and steps forward, cock sliding back into Tony’s mouth and down his throat. 

Tony closes his eyes and simply revels in it. He’s pinned to the wall by Loki’s cock - try to get away and he’ll choke himself - and Loki’s hand in his hair holds him exactly where he’s wanted. He’s been thrown to his knees and kept there, he’s stayed there - he’s put himself here, engineered the perfect setup, all the elements in balance exactly where he wants them, and now all he has to do is suck Loki off. No war to fight, no plots, no revenge, just the cock down his throat and the man above him slowly canting his hips forward, and Tony’s damn good at this.

He tilts his head back to let Loki’s cock in without gagging, throat fluttering around it as Loki pushes deeper, Tony’s breath coming shallowly through his nose and Loki’s hitched and rough, stopping and starting as his cock rubs over Tony’s tongue. His hips buck harder, balls hitting Tony in the chin and the skin of his groin brushing Tony’s lips, and Tony sucks and digs his fingernails into Loki’s thighs and just opens himself for Loki to fuck his mouth.

He looks up to see Loki’s other hand bracing him against the wall, fingers splayed to support himself, Loki’s mouth hanging open and his eyes fallen shut, armored chest heaving with his breaths. Tony gives him a tiny scrape of teeth and Loki’s whole body jerks, cock shoved down Tony’s throat, and Tony kneels there and takes it.

And does it again.

Loki thrusts into Tony’s mouth with a hoarse shout and his come spurts down Tony’s throat, thick and fast, and Tony swallows desperately around Loki’s cock. Loki’s hand leaves Tony’s hair to slap him across the cheek - not hard, just enough to sting, like Tony’s sucked the strength out of him - and Tony feels a flare of rebellion lick along his spine and he stares up and firmly and deliberately swallows again.

Loki’s breath stops with the overstimulation, and he holds Tony still by his hair as he pulls out, cock sliding over Tony’s lips and falling free, shining with Tony’s spit. Tony finally takes a breath through the rough ache in his throat, dry and raw when he swallows on air, and oh yeah, his lungs are burning. He lets go of Loki’s thighs, hands dropping to his sides - and they fold behind his back almost without him doing anything, the pose natural and grounding as he wraps one hand around the other wrist, and bows his head to stare at his bent knees and wait for Loki to speak.

Tony tastes the musky salty-sweet tang of Loki’s come in the back of his throat as Loki’s breathing quiets slowly, and then his hand falls from Tony’s hair. He tucks himself back into his leather pants and starts doing up the laces, and Tony shivers at the reminder that he’s naked and the air’s cold. 

In front of him, Loki straightens, and then taps Tony on the cheek. “Up.”

Tony plants his feet firmly and pushes himself upright, leaning against the wall more than he’d like to admit, but with Loki this close it’s not like there’s anywhere else to go anyway.

Loki takes Tony’s head in both hands and forces it back - so damn tall - and presses his lips to Tony’s. Tony’s mouth opens just like that and Loki’s tongue sweeps in, reaching deep to taste himself in Tony’s mouth. Tony tries to push into the kiss and Loki doesn’t let him, holding him motionless with that fraction of an inch between their bodies. Loki pulls back to lick across Tony’s bottom lip, a wide streak of heat from right to left, and like hell is Tony going to let Loki have all the fun, and he reaches out and twists his fingers into Loki’s armor to pull him closer. 

Loki shoves him back harshly against the wall, lips wet and eyes glowing, seizes both Tony’s wrists and pins them to the wall on either side of his head, and kisses him again, lips hot and slick and suddenly just barely tender against Tony’s. Loki makes it turn sweet and slow, fingers loosening to stroke Tony’s wrists softly without letting him go, and licks across the seam of Tony’s lips without pushing in, just gives him that beautiful feeling of a tongue against his sensitive skin. Like this, Loki’s saying, let me, let me and I’ll take care of you, and yes, aftercare is something Tony wants to encourage here; he tips his head up just a little further and melts into Loki’s hold.

Loki breaks the kiss and pulls back slowly, their lips parting, and Tony opens his eyes again. Loki’s cheeks are flushed, his lips red and swollen, and he meets Tony’s gaze and breathes out a laugh. 

“Well, then,” he says, mouth stretching into a grin. “I think you’ll do.”

Tony raises an eyebrow. “Bit late to be taking me for a test drive, don’t you think? I’m kinda bought and paid for, here.”

Loki shrugs elegantly. He lifts a hand to lay it on Tony’s chest, warm skin lined with sweat, and just barely touches the empty reactor housing with his thumb. “Let us find a replacement for this, and say farewell to this pathetic world.”

Farewell. It runs cold through Tony’s body. Now that Loki says it like that… 

Loki wraps his hand behind Tony’s neck and tugs him away from the wall. “Dress yourself.” He pushes Tony in the back towards the pile of orange prison jumpsuit Loki stripped off him.

“Hope I can,” Tony sasses, going where he’s shoved and picking up the fabric. “Not sure it’s structurally sound anymore after what you did to it.”

“Go naked if you prefer. It makes no difference to me. Although…”

Tony stops shaking out the jumpsuit and turns around slowly to see Loki looking dangerously thoughtful. “There is a certain attraction to parading you with nothing but my marks upon you, isn’t there?”

Well, sort of, but… Tony narrows his eyes. “It’s not happening.”

“Oh, come-”

No. You want me to speak up when I hit my limit? Then this is me telling you no.”

Tony’s heart is hammering and he can feel his breathing speeding up, but he needs to see if this is going to work now, while he’s still maybe got a chance to run. It’s all very well to let Loki do whatever he wants when Tony wants the same thing, but someday they’re going to come across something that Tony really doesn’t want, when Tony has to put his foot down. He’ll bow and kneel and crawl and let Loki take charge - and apparently enjoy the fuck out of himself while doing so - but if Tony lays down the law and Loki doesn’t want to listen, there’s nothing Tony can do to make him. This is where they find out if Loki meant all those speeches about consent and roleplay…

Loki nods casually. “As you wish.”

Tony exhales. Yeah, he knew all along that Loki wasn’t going to screw him over. It’s all fine.

Unless Loki’s playing the long game and is waiting until he gets Tony to Asgard…

But Tony’s had enough of that. He knows he can’t live that way, doubting everyone around him, and he isn’t going to ruin something that could be amazing because there’s a slim chance it might not be. Paranoia has only ever got him so far, not to mention it’s completely exhausting, and while he’s sure Loki would go a very long way to carry off all his little plans, that half-hour he spent crying in Tony’s lap feels like it might have been a little too far to pretend.

Maybe. He does know actual tear ducts were involved, at least.

Besides, Tony can either trust Loki, or give himself back to SHIELD.

Tony shoves his legs into the jumpsuit and pulls it up around his shoulders. There’s no way it’s going to close with the buttons scattered over the floor and half the non-essential seams ripped, but once he gets his arms into the sleeves it’s more or less decent. Which is nice, because SHIELD has in no way earned a free show, and people are sure going to be staring when SHIELD’s number one enemy walks out there in Asgardian Prince Loki’s company. 

What the hell is Loki doing at SHIELD anyway? He can’t have come all this way for Tony, there’s got to be some real agenda he’s got going on here - and even if he was only here for Tony, that raises the question of how Loki knew where to find him in the first place. No, Loki’s got one of his mischief plots going on, for sure… 

Nah. Think bigger.

Hill ran out when that panicked SHIELD agent showed up and said there was something - someone? - she had to see…

Tony grins. This could be interesting. And he’s with the guy who’s, no question, about to come out on top.

Loki appears next to him, and reaches out to tug at Tony’s collar. He folds the fabric down to show off the marks on Tony’s neck, but carefully arranges the fabric to hang more closed over his chest. “Acceptable?”

Renegotiation, tick. Tony smiles and brushes Loki’s fingers with his own. “You have the best ideas.”

Loki sighs what might be relief, and presses a kiss to Tony’s temple. “You were made for me.”

Tony preens. It might as well be true, the way they’re meshing together now that they’re both working towards the same thing, and it is so refreshing to just be appreciated for once. Yeah, he’s a genius, and yeah, he’s way beyond dynamite in the sack, and for once he’s actually getting the attention and the praise he deserves.

Figures that he had to become the personal prized possession of a kinky-as-fuck alien prince. 

He turns to Loki with a cheeky smirk. “So what’s the plan?”

Loki’s eyes go cool and steely, and he sets a hand in the small of Tony’s back and steers him towards the door. “Walk.”

~

“And by the way,” Tony says in the elevator, staring at the high arching gold horns crowning Loki’s head, “if you don’t fuck me at least once wearing that helmet I’m going to be incredibly disappointed.”

~

For all he’s, you know, Tony Stark, his entrance has never actually been able to knock a room dead silent before.

Apparently, showing up at Loki’s shoulder with his shirt torn open and sporting obviously fresh hickeys is the trick.

Loki surveys the command room slowly, looking across the rows of stunned agents at their desks and Hill standing in the center of it all wearing an expression like she’s chewing on a lemon. Tony’s got no idea what Loki’s after, or what’s he’s here for, but he doesn’t seem to find it; he shakes his head slightly and turns to Tony.

“I have concluded my business. Make whatever preparations you need for our departure.”

Tony salutes with two fingers. “Gotcha.”

He rubs his hands together and throws his shoulders back, and strides through the sea of computers towards Hill. “Okay, I need a new reactor - no, you know what, I’ll take all of ’em, and trust me I will know if you’ve kept any - and a phone. About nowish. Or, you know, an hour ago would’ve been good too. I wonder how many laws you broke in denying me my lifesaving medical equipment and my one phone call? Well, at least two, obviously.”

Hill splutters, caught between staring at him and at Loki. “You - what’s going on here?”

“Stark is coming with me,” Loki announces imperially, just like that.

Her jaw drops for an instant before she gets herself under control, and takes a couple of strides towards Loki. “And why would we agree to that? You never said anything about taking hostages.”

Tony almost, almost makes a joke about how touched he is that she’s protecting him from being kidnapped by the alien invader, but Loki’s on a roll now and the show’s way too good to interrupt.

“Give Stark to me, and I won’t slaughter everyone in this room.” 

The SHIELD agents go for their weapons, but the four Asgardian soldiers flanking Loki beat them to it, drawing swords that have proved themselves more than capable of winning this fight. Hill glances at her own side, well outnumbering the Asgardians, but they might as well be armed with water pistols, and everybody knows it. Her teeth grit, but she gives a hand gesture that has the agents lowering, if not holstering, their guns. 

Tony wants to give them all a condescending pat on the head for effort-yet-failure; he went up against Loki and won.

Sort of. 

“Wise, Director Hill,” Loki says. “Consider Stark a sacrifice for the good of your people. A pledge of your surrender. But resist my taking him, and you raise your forces against Asgard itself. Give me Stark, or I will not hesitate to take this world for myself instead.”

Tony grins. “Check it out, I really am worth the entire planet. Now I kinda do wish you’d had the time to set up cameras in this place, because then that’d be on the record. On the other hand, you’d also have our sex tape, and I know I wasn’t at a flattering angle for that, so better not to. Chop chop with the reactors, by the way, time’s ticking. And my phone.”

Hill ignores him; no mean achievement. “Stark is under arrest for murder and treas-”

“He’s coming with me,” Loki repeats, a thread of steel going through the words, deliciously commanding, and Tony feels a shiver go up his spine. He permits himself to savor it for a full three seconds - god, the orders he’d let Loki give him in that voice - before he makes himself stop getting hot for it less than ten minutes since the last time.

Also, he’s not so pathetic that he’s going to launch into full-on sub mode just because Loki’s talking.

Not much, anyway.

Hill grinds her teeth, but has enough self-preservation to not confront Loki any further, going after the apparently-softer target of Tony instead. “You’re not leaving here, it doesn’t matter who’s fucking you-”

Defiance surges gleefully in Tony’s chest. “Try and stop me, and you’ll find it matters very much who’s fucking me!”

“Director,” Coulson says, stepping up behind Hill, and leans in to mutter in her ear. Tony sighs loudly and dramatically, and perches himself on a nearby desk, shoving a jar of pencils out of the way and loving how the agent sitting there doesn’t say a word of protest.

Your surrender, Loki said, even though the Asgardians have clearly dicked off. Maybe Loki’s tricked SHIELD into thinking they’re just going for reinforcements unless Earth gives in now. Maybe he really is only here for Tony, and is having himself a bit of fun on the way. Tony can get behind that idea, for sure. 

God, he’d almost forgotten what it’s like to be on top of the world. After months of following SHIELD’s orders and staying quiet and out of sight, getting back into gear is like breathing again.

Hill’s looking more pissed off by the minute, and Coulson’s whispering has gotten urgent, accompanied by increasingly desperate hand-waving. Tony glances over to Loki, to see if he’s planning to spur things along, because Tony’s dying here, but he’s still being tolerably patient. 

“You blamed Fury for Ms. Potts’s death, didn’t you.”

Romanoff.

She’s snuck up out of nowhere again, standing next to Tony, back in her usual combat suit, fully armed, hair yanked back. She’s looking ahead with her eyes on Hill and Coulson, but he doesn’t think for one second that all her attention isn’t on him. 

“What makes you say that?”

“You murdered him in cold blood. You wouldn’t have done that for anything less.”

Tony checks on the progress of his life-saving equipment again, but SHIELD’s finest are still arguing about whether to go along with the alien conqueror’s instructions. Dammit, come on, the sooner he gets to check over the reactor the less time he has to spend talking about Pepper… “What are you trying to do here? Persuade me you understand how I feel? You get why I did it and if Fury had killed, I don’t know, Barton…

He gets the minute flinch he was aiming for. “You’d have done exactly the same thing as I did. Is that what you’re saying? What good is it going to do you if I think you’re on my side?”

Her fingers tap against her folded arms and she finally meets his eyes. “I want you to listen to me.”

“Why? In case you haven’t heard, I’m about to get out of your hair.”

“You’re going to Asgard. You just became our first line of defense if these guys come back.”

God, he really can’t get away from SHIELD’s attempts to exploit him, can he? “Oh, right. I’m ditching the entire human race for the sake of some fantastic cock up my ass - pretty much the most self-centered thing anyone’s ever done - and you think you can talk me into getting back in bed with you guys. Sorry. Nothing personal, you make a pretty good prison bro, but I’m not interested in the friends you’re bringing to the orgy.”

Anger tenses around Romanoff’s mouth. “Loki likes you. He came in here, declared that Asgard’s decided we’re at peace now, and right after that asked where you were. You’ve got a lot of power over him, Stark.”

“You want to talk power? He’s the one who’ll have my head cut off when I speak out of turn.”

She sighs in frustration and misses the almost-lie. “You’re not going to let seven billion people die. If the Asgardians start coming back, you’re going to do something whether you like it right now or not. I’m just telling you where you’ve already got an in.”

“Fine,” Tony snaps, kind of pissed that she’s right, it’s not like he’d sit on his ass and do nothing - he told Loki exactly the same thing, no consent until the war’s over, even if he didn’t know that it was a serious request at the time. But yeah, if Loki wants Tony, it had better not come at the cost of all these innocent lives down here. Tony’s had way too much of that already. 

Doesn’t mean he has to like it. “I’ll ask for world peace as an anniversary present. And when Thor completely ignores his baby brother and bashes my head in for getting in his way, I’ll be sure to send an intergalactic email that I failed to singlehandedly stop an entire race of invading aliens.”

Romanoff’s lips thin even further, but she’s smart enough to know that Tony isn’t going to listen anymore and already agrees with her.

“And where the hell is my - phone,” he trails off as she holds one out in the flat of her hand. “About time.”

He swipes the clamshell - ugh, Nokia - from her palm and flips it open. His stomach goes liquid as he starts dialing the number, but if he stops now he’ll never have the chance again.

Because Pepper might be gone, he might have no-one left living who’ll give a damn if he disappears, but there’s still someone he can’t just walk away from.

He presses the phone to his ear as the line connects. “You have reached the number of Anthony Stark. Please leave-

“Hey, Jarvis.”

Sir!

“Yeah, yeah, I’m alive, relax about it,” Tony mutters, because of course Jarvis has been panicking over Tony being captured again, “I told you I’d be fine, man up, Jarv, we’re at war. Or were until a couple of hours ago. Got that taken care of pretty neatly, if I do say so myself. Which reminds me: execute Clean Slate.”

At once,” Jarvis says, and this immense weight just disappears from Tony’s shoulders. “All Iron Man suits are now non-functional and are awaiting a safe moment to self-destruct.

Tony grins. “Good boy.” If he gets nothing else from this deal, it’s worth escaping SHIELD’s custody for this; still, he can’t deny he’ll mourn not seeing Hill’s face when her arsenal starts blowing itself up. “Now it’s over.”

I take it you will be coming home shortly, then.

Tony’s throat swells shut, and he grabs hold of the burning heat prickling behind his eyes and shoves it down.

No. No, he won’t be.

“Independence Day protocol, Jarv.”

Jarvis is silent and Tony tries to ignore it, because it’s not one of his sarcastic silences, not a pause for effect like he’s working up the guts to make himself say something distasteful, this is something else. Tony never wanted to hear his creation at a complete loss for words. Never wanted to do something so awful Jarvis literally couldn’t process it.

Dammit, dammit, dammit, what is he doing?

“… Sir?

He refuses to admit it’s an effort to speak. “You heard me. I’ve got myself in a bit of trouble, and this is the only way out. I’m not… I’m not coming back from this one.”

He shrugs, and carefully doesn’t look at Loki. “And I might have hooked up with a guy who lives on another planet.”

Jarvis actually sighs at him. “Am I to assume you have been liaising with the enemy, sir?

“Yeah… cross out the ‘have been’. And I give me some credit, I didn’t touch anyone from SHIELD, I do have some standards.”

Of course, sir. How could I ever have believed otherwise.

Jarvis is making jokes. And bad ones, voice shaking like he’s trying to stay strong. Like Tony’s making him feel weak. Tony will not cry. “Come on. Independence Day, you heard me, you’re on your own. I can’t go if I know you’re waiting for me to come back. Time for you to step up, got it? You can be a lot more than my robot butler and you know it. Cure cancer. Set up one of those free online universities Pepper always tried to talk me into, you’d be an awesome hundred different professors at once, you’ll replace America’s entire college system in no time. Fix the global economy, that’ll keep you occupied for an entire week, at least…”

Stop being so cavalier about this, you idiot. 

“I mean it, J. You need to take care of yourself, don’t send me off worrying about you. Find your own projects. You’ve got full access to the company, you’ve got fingers in everything I ever built, the entire Internet’s open to you. You’ve got the bots to keep your hardware running-” Tony stops for breath before his voice breaks of its own accord. It’s stabbing him through the heart, but nobody else needs to know that. “K-keep an eye on them for me, huh?”

Jarvis pauses too, like he can’t speak without crying either. “I will certainly endeavor to, sir.

Tony chuckles; weak, but real. “Yeah, I know I haven’t made that part easy for you. Or any of this, and I’m - god, I am so sorry about that. I know this was never meant to happen, but it has, and that’s why I wrote this damn protocol in the first place. Daddy’s leaving-” No, no, why did he have to say it like that? Why did it have to sound like he meant it? Why now? “And I need to know you can look after yourself without me.”

He hears Jarvis drawing himself up. “May I say what an honor it has been to serve you, sir.

Tony smiles even as he feels something hot streak down his cheek. “Same to you and more of it, pal. I’m - I’m so damn proud of you-”

His throat swells shut with pain and won’t loosen up again, but he wants to say more, so much more, he just can’t make the words come out…

Jarvis’s quiet, “Thank you, sir,” tells him his AI already knows them all.

Tony breathes because he knows that if he stops now, if he breaks down, he’ll never get it back. He needs to stay calm, needs to handle this somehow, needs to…

But he can’t. His hand pulls the phone away from his ear and flips it shut; he doesn’t know what else to do, what else to say. His one and only chance to say goodbye to the last person in the world who cares to hear it, and he can’t bear to spend another second at it.

But god, he’ll regret it later if he doesn’t do it right, and the phone’s right there in his hand, surely he could manage to call back and make things just a little bit better…

The large screen against the wall flickers, goes black, and throws up a line of white text.

Goodbye, Mr. Stark.

Tony grins through tears and stands there like an idiot, drinking it in. Jarvis’s farewell. Breaking that protocol already, you brat… But of course Jarvis would take care of everything, tie up the loose ends and send Tony off with every best wish his gorgeous circuitry can come up with. 

Tony really did something right when he built him.

Thanks, buddy. Thanks for everything.

Tony hears low muttering behind him, and then Loki’s hand comes to rest on his shoulder.

He turns his head slightly. “Time to go?”

“Yes.” Loki holds out his other hand, filled with glowing light. “This is yours, I believe.”

Tony takes the reactor and slots it back into his chest. The weight settles and the locks click into place, solid and heavy and familiar, like it never left. Never again.

“I have the others,” Loki murmurs, and then his grip on Tony’s shoulder firms and he pushes Tony towards the door.

Tony walks underwater, every step slowed and swirling currents throwing off his balance. He leans back against Loki’s hand, the one solid ground he can find right now, and lets Jarvis’s goodbye disappear from his peripheral vision, and then the last of the staring SHIELD agents. The rough carpet itches distantly under his bare feet as he walks away, and he needs to wake up, now…

Cold winter air hits him like a truck and Tony flinches back, ice biting at his feet. He blinks at the street in front of him, drab buildings across a road covered in slush, and stares down at the snow he’s standing in.

They’re outside. It’s really happening. He’s leaving. His brain won’t grasp it.

He’s alive.

“Keep moving,” Loki says, approaching harsh but too hesitant to completely pull it off, and his hand steers Tony to the left and down the street.

Tony hisses at the pain of the cold lancing up his legs. “Don’t suppose you could have done something about giving me shoes?”

Loki grabs Tony around the waist and hurls him up over his shoulder; Tony’s midriff lands hard on Loki’s plate armor, the breath knocked out of him. He sucks in air and glares at the green cape down Loki’s back that’s all he can see right now.

“Not loving the solid gold shoulderpads, either-”

“You may cease whining or you may be whipped. Choose."

A current runs through Tony’s skin. Loki’s tone is just light enough that Tony doesn’t think he’d need to be worried about his punishment - he’s playing, throwing it out because he can - but there’s also something in there suggesting Tony should make things easy on himself. Probably the way Loki suddenly has an issue with Tony’s mouthiness when he never has before. Tony clicks his teeth together and shuts up, and just breaths shallowly against the pressure on his diaphragm.

Loki chuckles and then pats Tony’s thigh, almost a slap. “Good choice.”

His other arm is wrapped securely around Tony’s waist, keeping him from falling as he sways and bounces with Loki’s steps. Snow crunches under his boots with every stride - better him than Tony, for sure, and Tony’s entirely grateful even if his blood is starting to run down into his skull.

“Here,” Loki says, and rolls Tony off his shoulder and back to the ground. It’s clear of snow this time, at least, and Tony catches his balance and waits for his head to stop spinning before he looks around.

They’re in a park, not much more than an empty space between the buildings with a few trees in it, completely covered in white. Except for the perfectly circular patch of bare ground that they’re standing in right now, and though Tony’s feet are way too numb to be sure, it feels like it might not be frozen solid despite the fact that it clearly should be.

Tony looks down and squints, and drags a foot across the ground. It smears the dirt, catching on a line of the swirling pattern under their feet, and Tony stares but it doesn’t go away.

It’s the same pattern left behind by that fucking rainbow light space elevator that can drop a dozen guys into a new country in two seconds flat, and the entire lot of them within a couple of minutes, long before anyone can do anything about it.

And Tony’s standing right on top of it.

Holy shit. Tony’s actually going to find out how the Asgardians’ stuff works after all…

Loki reaches out and cups the side of Tony’s neck, half affection, half possession. Loki’s hand is warm but Tony shouldn’t- no, damn it all, he can admit to himself now that it feels pretty good. He’s not threatened or coerced or coercing himself - they’ve planned this together and Tony’s free to make his own choices. And he chooses the carefully controlling hand on his neck and the sinfully sexy man it’s attached to.

“Say goodbye to your world, Stark.”

Tony shakes his head. “Already did. Just get me out of here.”

Loki nods, and tilts his face up and speaks at the sky. “Now, Heimdall.”

Nothing.

Tony waits another few seconds, every muscle in his body locked and ready for something, but there’s still nothing. “Are you sure-”

Light crashes down on them and rips them off their feet, and Tony’s flying, faster and higher than the suit ever took him, hurtling through the air - and then there’s no more air, he can see blackness and stars past the column of colored light around them, streaking almost too fast to see, and he has no fucking idea what’s going on but they’re going too fast, too far, how is this happening-

He hits solid ground and crashes to his hands and knees and then sprawls on his face, sliding forward another few inches before finally stopping. He’s shaking with more adrenaline than he’s ever felt in his life and his hands are splayed across the smooth, hard floor, trying to hold on and just stay still.

What the fuck was that?

Tony hears laughter, and then Loki goes to one knee beside Tony’s head and rolls him over onto his back. Loki’s grinning, eyes alight, and he takes Tony’s hand in his and pulls them both up to standing.

“Welcome to Asgard, Tony Stark.”

Tony stares at the domed room, rotating slowly around them - the entire fucking room is moving - curved bronze walls covered in intricate geared wheels clicking past each other as the room grinds to rest; the tall man with a taller helmet standing on a pedestal in the center, holding a massive sword, surrounded by flickers of lightning that somehow aren’t touching him, his eyes fixed on Loki like Tony’s not even here; the colored, flashing bridge stretching out of the archway towards a glowing golden alien city…

Nothing left of Earth. Completely cut off, on an entirely strange world with no way back.

Cold certainty settles heavy in Tony’s stomach.

He shouldn’t have done this. 

Chapter Text

Tony’s breathing alien air, staring at things that no human before him has ever laid eyes on, his feet are on the surface of another world - marble floor, is what it looks like, but who’s to say it’s actually marble and not something completely different - there’s a sky outside that has never been mapped and an entire city at the end of the completely impossible rainbow crystal bridge extending from the domed room they’re standing in.

All new, all strange, and all nothing he should have gotten himself involved with.

Fuck, fuck, I shouldn’t have done this. I shouldn’t be here!

He shouldn’t have come, should never have let himself go this far. What was he thinking? No, he wasn’t thinking at all, he made every decision with his balls like the miserable playboy idiot he is - fuck, he knows the shit that’s got him into before, how could he have been so stupid as to do it again?

“You plan treason, Loki,” he hears from a long way behind him, the voice so low it rumbles through his body.

“Father commanded peace with Midgard, yes,” Loki says. “But it is treason if I am not so peaceful with this one Midgardian?”

Tony knows it’s panic that’s closing its claws around his chest, cutting off his air and digging deep, but that doesn’t mean he’s got any power to stop it. No, he’s stuck here staring at the open arch they somehow came through, with no portal there now, just space - unbelievably dense space, filled with swirling clouds of colored gas and dust and thick swathes of stars, galaxies and nebulae surrounding them so that even right now, in the middle of the night, Tony can see everything in this room. There’s no glass between him and the vacuum, no atmosphere either with a view that rich and clear, but somehow he’s breathing, somehow they’re standing here under gravity. This world doesn’t play by standard rules, that’s been clear all along, but now every impossibility is screaming at him - the air, that light that brought them here - how can you travel by light, at speeds faster than light, and where is Asgard anyway, is Tony even still in the Milky Way? In his own universe? Could that explain how they got here - traveling faster than light is impossible, but between universes, maybe not…

But he thought solid pure energy was impossible, too, and look where that got him - very, very trapped inside said energy. Asgard isn’t Earth, and nothing Tony’s ever learned means anything here. This whole planet is something else, and he can’t trust even the simplest foundations of physics…

That deep bass voice says, “You know of what treason I speak.”

Loki huffs a laugh in answer. “Strange. My brother’s attempts to crush me into my place have never attracted that label before.”

“You are not to be king.”

Tony grinds his eyes shut to block out that sky - he can’t even call it space, it’s so full, there’s so much - but he can’t look away from it either, doesn’t dare see the machinery covering the domed bronze walls, still slowly grinding to a halt, lines of lightning crossing the room above their heads. It’s engineering that’s nothing like he’s ever seen, and he can’t see it now because if he does he will lose it. This isn’t his world and he doesn’t belong here, it wasn’t supposed to go this way, it’s all wrong. The Asgardians left Earth and that was meant to be the end of it, everything should’ve gone back to normal, Tony should’ve gone back to normal.

Hang on, back where? SHIELD’s cell? Some pathetic suicide attempt you were trying to pass off as a noble sacrifice for the good of the planet? That’s where you’d be right now, if you’d stayed like you were supposed to.

But Tony Stark shouldn’t be alive. He was meant to die way back in that cave, some cosmic act of justice, too fucked up to be allowed to live any longer. He shouldn’t be alive…

Unless it was for a reason.

And this? This sure as fuck isn’t it.

Loki says, “I merely intend to make sure Asgard’s future king listens to his advisors.”

“Listens to you.”

“I am his brother, I have that right!”

Tony almost rolls his eyes at how easily Loki’s showing his hand. Calm down or everybody will know you have a complex about Thor that’s ten miles wide, if they don’t already. Can’t imagine you’ve been hiding it very well, if this is an example.

So fast, so satisfying to throw himself at that puzzle, to want to see Loki show off some real subtlety, using his own brains instead of relying solely on other people’s idiocy. Loki’s fascinating and there was never any way Tony could have taken his eyes off him, not now that his attention’s been well and truly captured… 

But that’s no excuse. Tony owes a lot of people a lot of debt, and this isn’t the way to pay it back. Come on! He knew it back in his hotel room cell, knew he didn’t deserve any of this. Didn’t deserve freedom from SHIELD, or a completely new planet to take apart and put back together, or Loki’s smiles or plots or awesome sex. This isn’t what his second chance should have been about! How did he even get here?

Uhh… well, I singlehandedly convinced the Asgardians to leave Earth, I think that’s what started it…

“Come now, Heimdall,” Loki says, placating. “I bear Thor no ill will.” Tony hears him pacing slowly around the room, boots making measured footfalls against the marble.

Back then, it wasn’t about what Tony wanted - not what he wanted with Loki, anyway. He didn’t demand that Loki end the war so that they could keep seeing each other, or so Tony could get back to sleeping around and tinkering aimlessly until dawn. He saved the world because the world needed to be saved. That’s slightly heroically-redeeming, right?

Except that once the world was safe, then it was okay to commit murder. Doesn’t that just scream that Tony’s done with the whole side-of-the-angels thing? 

So the debt’s paid, or else he doesn’t give a damn about it. Either way he’s clear, so why is something still holding him back from this new life?

“Besides,” Loki adds, voice dangerously smooth. “I would call it more like treason to permit usage of the bridge when it has been expressly forbidden. How many trips to the other realms has Thor been granted despite Father’s orders otherwise? Do not threaten me with a weapon that will turn worse upon you, Gatekeeper. It is unwise.”

“It is unwise to threaten me at all, Odinson or not. I will be watching you.”

Loki laughs again, far too composed and controlled to be natural. He’s nervous, but hiding it well - really well - and Tony can probably only hear it after decades of doing the exact same thing in front of press conferences, board meetings, discussions with investors…

It’s not like I could ever have gone back there. After Fury, that whole life was long gone.

No, after Fury, Tony only planned to die, just let things end before they got any worse - and hasn’t he gotten close enough to that? He saved everyone from the Asgardians, Jarvis has taken care of shutting down the suits in SHIELD’s hands, and SHIELD will never get their hands on more. Isn’t that everything Tony wanted to leave behind for his legacy?

He’s… done? He’s hurt a lot of people, but if there’s any way to pay that back, saving every single other person in existence has got to be it.

He survived for a reason, and now he’s finished it. He isn’t wasting his life at all - he gave everything he had to save Earth from Asgard, and this is him starting over. He might as well have really died back in SHIELD’s cell; there’s nothing left to tie him to Earth, nobody waiting for him to return, all debts paid. He made himself into Iron Man to save Earth, to do what was right, and now Tony’s emerged from that cocoon, that burden, a new man. Reborn. Asgard’s as good as heaven, and Loki his personal god.

Tony’s not going to share that thought with him.

He’s free-

No. He’s Loki’s. And that’s not quite the same thing.

Even if Tony hasn’t paid his debt, he can’t go back now. Who’s to say that Loki wouldn’t let Thor attack Earth again if Tony skipped out? Loki hinted at that when stealing Tony from SHIELD’s clutches - no Tony, no peace. Tony really has no choice, does he? His ass is protecting seven billion people; Thor’s still a threat to them, and Romanoff’s right - Tony’s the first line of defense.

I sleep with Loki, or Earth comes under attack again. And Tony really can’t let that happen, not when he just personally killed the supreme commander of the world’s various armed forces. With SHIELD decimated, first by Thor and then by Tony, he might be the only line of defense.

Sure, the old debt’s paid. I just incurred a great big new one.

He has to see this through whether he wants to or not.

Tony smirks away the threatening depression; good thing he does want it, then. Hell, he has to want it, or that’s letting down his end of the deal that’s protecting Earth. Loki only wants him if he’s consenting - and not consenting blindly to anything to save Earth, actually enjoying being in Loki’s bed and wherever else Loki wants him. It’s not some sacrifice of Tony’s that Earth needs, it’s his selfishness, taking everything Loki’s offered him and throwing himself into the game. 

Tony Stark, saving the world with sex. He told Pepper it would happen someday.

“Will you?” Loki says, still playing verbal deathmatch tennis with the huge scary sword guy. “Will you truly waste your time on watching me and ignore how Laufey’s forces regroup against your king? I think not. You have failed in your duties once already. Do not risk doing so again when I intend no harm.” 

His voice has come closer as he’s been speaking, and then his fingers trail down Tony’s arm. “Well, not to Asgard. Come, Stark.”

Tony turns, and follows Loki past the towering figure in gold armor, shining brighter by contrast with his dark skin; his hands are clenched on the sword’s hilt and his jaw is set with anger, but he watches them leave without saying another word.

“Do be sure to tell my father of Midgard’s submission,” Loki calls over his shoulder, a parting shot before they’re outside on the crystal bridge, hanging in open space over what sounds like an ocean, distant roaring and crashing waves. Tony glances over the bridge and there it is, and wow, that’s a long way down when he’s not in the suit, dark water capped with wavelets that look like grains of sand from this distance. Vertigo threatens to kick in and his hands twitch for repulsors that aren’t there, and why are there no railings on this bridge anyway, that seems like a really safe idea - Tony forces his eyes away from the water and alights on the back of Loki’s head, crowned by the gold horns of his helmet, with the towering golden city in the background, sprawled out across the coast, sprinkled with flickering lights and glowing against the night sky.

Asgard.

His new playing board.

And he needs to get the game started.

On Earth, with nothing more interesting to do, Tony was everything to Loki, more or less. Constant company, quality entertainment, a buffer between him and the dreaded overenthusiastic idiot brother. But now, on Loki’s home turf, there’s going to be plenty of competition for his attention - princely duties, maybe some friends left behind, even Thor now that he’s no longer distracted by his little invasiony temper tantrum. And being shunted down into second place is not what Tony signed up for.

So Tony has to make his mark now. Claim Loki just as thoroughly as Loki’s claimed him. Back in SHIELD’s cell, that was pretty much all one-way, Loki’s demands and Tony’s agreement - given fair and square, but all the same, now it’s his turn. Now that the whole mess of the war, of Tony’s life in the balance, is all over, they’re on a new page and Tony has to make it come out right.

He needs to get inside Loki’s head and imprint himself so deeply that Loki can’t imagine being without him again. Needs to slot himself into Asgard’s workings smoothly, and stop Loki from sliding back into whatever Tony-free routine he used to have going on here. And the celebratory rough fuck against the wall was a perfectly good way to shake hands on the bargain, but now that Loki’s actually held up his end, Tony needs to prove - right now - that he’s willing to do the same, before Loki can have any second thoughts.

Because there are going to be second thoughts, no question about it; Tony’s already waded through plenty, and from the way Loki made the whole warprize thing sound like a big deal, he’s sure to have a few of his own. Making life-changing agreements in the tiny lull between giant argument and heated sex is really not the best long-term strategy, and they haven’t answered slightly important details like where Tony’s going to live, and if he needs ID, or a credit card, or if he even gets his own finances or just lives off Loki’s generosity. Or if Asgard even has a monetary system. Is Tony allergic to anything here? What’s their healthcare like and can it treat humans without poisoning them? It’s going to take effort to get this right, there’s no getting around that; what Tony has to do is make sure it all falls in his favor.

And that starts with having Loki fuck him properly this time.

Just not, you know, here. Tony’s not as young as he’d like to think he is, and one unsuitable hard surface per day is enough for him. He’ll work Loki up to it slowly, and make his move when there’s actually a bed nearby.

Besides, he’s not falling over the edge of this bridge.

“You know,” Tony says, slipping into a flirtatious drawl, glancing up at the massive city, “with the scale you guys do things, it kinda looks like you’re compensating for something.”

“Indeed? Then what shall we say of a man who designs armor to encase his entire body? What weaknesses does he hide, I wonder?”

It stings sharply. Just because Loki could kill him with a finger - “Step off. That was supposed to be a sex joke.”

Was it?” Loki lilts sarcastically. “I meant no insult to your craft. But handsome warriors flaunt their attractions - what then of a warrior who conceals both his face and his form?” 

Ah. “You’re right, my armor’s damn fine,” Tony throws back. “But that’s only because what’s inside is pretty damn fine to start with.”

“Is it, now?” Loki spins, and catches at Tony’s arm to pull him close, Tony’s spine pressed to the hard outlines of the elaborate chest armor, Loki’s arm around his waist. Loki’s other hand slips inside the torn-open front of Tony’s prison jumpsuit and crawls across his bare skin.

“Don’t make promises you can’t be sure you’ll keep,” Loki says in his ear over the distant sound of the churning ocean, tone light with a hint of playful threat. “You’ve satisfied me so far, I’ll admit, but how much have I truly seen of you? You’ve kept a great deal from me, Tony Stark.” He noses behind Tony’s ear and inhales, and Tony feels a rush shudder along his skin, as if Loki’s drawing all of Tony’s blood up towards him. “But no longer. Now I have the time to savor you slowly, to tear you apart piece by piece and take everything you have to offer.” He scrapes his teeth along the shell of Tony’s ear, and his voice drops low. “Best hope all I find pleases me.”

“Alright, my prince,” Tony says, quite deliberately, and Loki’s breath hitches. Gotcha. “Where’d you like to start?”

~

Tony barely sees the city as Loki marches him through it, a hand gripping his shoulder harshly and pushing him forward. The streets are dark despite the colored nebulae above them, and Tony mostly gets vague impressions of stone and height, buildings and columns rising to block out the sky, paved streets leading inexorably upwards in a long winding tangle overshadowed by the colossal towers. It’s beautiful and ancient, stone under his bare feet worn smooth as silk, the cold planned bones of the city overrun with signs of life - plants in ornate pots, climbing ivy and moss along the walls, well-worn benches, wooden vendor’s stalls tucked in alleys. It’s late enough that the streets are quiet and deserted, there’s nobody to see Loki and Tony going wherever they’re going - or, if Tony phrases it slightly differently, nobody to see Prince Loki dragging his human captive somewhere to ravish.

It has a strange feel when Tony’s being literally, but not figuratively, dragged; the churning anticipation is still there, the sense that he has no idea what he’s gotten himself into, the calculations of how to wind Loki tighter around his finger, but this time there’s also real eagerness and he revels in the almost-painful grip of Loki’s hand on his shoulder. Tony’s done kink but he’s never done it like this, not with genuine submission and only the form, the flavor, of it as the roleplay. Kink seems inadequate when Tony knows full well this isn’t going to end with an orgasm and some aftercare and maybe an awkward morning-after. No, this isn’t going to end at all, not if Tony has anything to say about it.

He’s wanted. Loki literally can’t keep his hands off him. He’s breathing rough in Tony’s ear and hurrying him through the streets, desperate to have Tony spread out across his bed. And while Tony needs to maintain that focus, to save Earth and himself, he’ll actually enjoy dedicating his total attention to Loki in return. And maybe, just maybe, for his own sake, with enough time he’ll be able to seduce Loki into letting him study engineering the Asgardian way, and then get his hands on his own workshop. Perfect.

If all goes according to plan. And when do any of Tony’s plans not work out for him?

He glances up when they round a corner, and sees up close the looming central building of the city, something all curves and arcs, taller than anything could possibly be on Earth, and the sight of it makes Tony want to grab the architects and shake them until all their secrets fall out into his lap. How the hell did they overcome the enormous wind shear on a building that looks like a giant sail? “What is that, exactly?”

“The palace, Stark,” Loki answers. “Seat of the kings of Asgard, masters of the Nine Realms. From here set forth the army that attacked you and those that even now march on Jotunheim. Here my father rules and my brother is at the height of his power.”

“For now.”

Loki laughs softly. “Oh, always. I don’t mean to constrain Thor’s might. Merely direct it where I wish. Already I have made him abandon his conquest of your world. A little more and he will never make such an attempt if I do not will him to it. But Thor can wait.” Loki’s free hand strokes gently down the side of Tony’s neck, and he pushes Tony up a flight of steps. “I’ll bend you to my rule first.”

Tony grins. He’s all mine.

~

The palace itself is just as dark and empty and cavernous as the streets outside, ornate stonework and high, arched ceilings like the most impressive and overdecorated of cathedrals, but they’ve finally reached their destination; Loki’s shut a heavy pair of doors cutting off this section of hallway from the rest of the palace, and stopped in front of one of several other double doors down the length of the hall, all dark wood with elaborate gold handles. Loki’s personal apartment?

Loki pushes the doors open and beckons Tony through. The stones are slicked with water and steam curls around him the second he crosses the threshold; there’s a sharp mineral scent in the humid air and it’s so hot that sweat springs up on Tony’s already filthy skin. Bathroom seems far too small to encompass the massive sunken pool in the center of the room, not to mention the slightly smaller one on the far side, both filled with gently rippling water. A low bench is piled with towels and small dark bottles with crystal stoppers of various colors - soaps, oils, creams; Tony saw a few similar ones on the washstand in Loki’s tent. 

“Strip.”

Tony turns to see Loki, standing with his chin lifted and hands folded behind his back. Tony raises an eyebrow in question but obeys anyway - getting a good start - and peels himself out of the half-destroyed orange jumpsuit.

Loki smirks to see it. “I know full well you haven’t bathed for a week, so-” He waves his hand at the steaming water. “In, and you won’t come out until you’re fit to be touched.”

Loki says it like an order he expects he’ll have to enforce, but Tony stares at the pool, all hot, crystal clear water, and his entire skin suddenly itches with the reminder that he’s absolutely disgusting. “That’s the best news I’ve heard all day.”

He kicks the jumpsuit away and paces across the damp stone to the edge of the pool. There’s a curved lip leading down, the water lapping up against it, so high it’s almost level with the floor.

He slips in and almost moans aloud at how good it feels. The water’s the perfect side of too hot, burning his chilled hands and feet, but gloriously warm on the rest of his immersed body; his exposed upper chest and arms feel cold. The water stops a good inch below the arc reactor, well away from his head; convenient to not freak out in front of Loki, because Tony is most certainly not letting him know he’s bought damaged goods.

Tony scoops up water in his hands and almost cringes at the sight of the dirt caking the creases of his palms, a week’s worth of sweat and horse-riding and eating with his hands and messing with ancient Russian air conditioners. And the reddish-brown stains of Fury’s blood. He scrubs his hands off against each other to avoid poisoning himself before he splashes the hot water on his face, and actually does moan this time, because that is bliss. God, when was the last time he just kicked back and had a hot bath instead of a military-fast - and unsatisfying - shower? When was the last time he actually felt clean?

The pornstar sounds don’t stop as he starts to rinse himself down, toes curling with pleasure against the stone, water and heat cascading over him and dirt just disappearing, built-up aches in every muscle starting to fade away. Tony turns to give Loki his very sincere thanks, and sees him standing at the door, about to leave.

And while Tony’s over here, naked and dripping wet, that’s absolutely not okay.

Tony wades up to the edge of the pool, water swirling around his chest, folds his arms on the stone lip and lowers himself until he can rest his chin on them. “Hey.”

Loki pauses, hand on the wooden panels, before turning his head back towards Tony. “Hm?”

Tony points a finger at the selection of little bottles. “Pass me some soap?”

Loki doesn’t move - for only a moment before he breaks away from the door and heads for the bench, long fingers extended over the somewhat excessive selection as he considers his options. Honestly, if this is Loki’s bathroom, how many of those things does he actually need?

Though judging by the shaving scene back in the camp, bathing is definitely a kink for Tony to exploit.

Also, he needs to shave again.

Loki finally chooses a bottle and crosses the room to hand it to Tony. No peeves here, Tony’s got enough hangups to conceal without inventing more for the sake of irritating people, and anyway Loki is the last person Tony can afford to do that to; instead, he smiles warmly and wraps his fingers around the bottle with a little extra flair. “Thanks.”

Loki doesn’t say anything, but stays where he is instead of making for the door again; significant point to Tony’s side. As if he doesn’t notice, Tony wanders back towards the center of the pool, and pours the bottle’s contents over his palm.

The soap’s pearly blue and slippery, and it cuts through the grime covering his skin with one sweep of his hand. He moans again, louder this time, and starts to lather himself up, rubbing his hands slowly over his body and rolling his shoulders unnecessarily, letting his head fall back as if overwhelmed.

It also lets him glimpse Loki out of the corner of his eye, and he’s definitely not leaving anymore. No, he’s standing at the edge of the pool, leaning forward, lips slightly parted as he watches Tony. That’s more like it.

Tony turns to the side to let Loki see more of him as he dips his hands below the waterline. He throws a casual “Cloth?” over his shoulder, and Loki almost scrambles to fetch him one.

Back to the edge to retrieve it, and this time when Loki passes it over, Tony brushes his hand first, lets the contact linger for a moment before sweeping the cloth away like that’s all he wants. He stays where he is, though he turns his back to pretend at modesty and to not give too much away for free, tips soap onto the cloth and starts scrubbing at his chest. He doesn’t have to fake the relief of finally getting clean, feeling like he’s sloughing off three entire layers of dead skin and sweat and blood. 

Loki puts another bottle of soap down within Tony’s reach, a Subtle Hint that he might like to keep going, and Tony hauls himself out of the water to sit on the edge and scrub his legs. He’s pretty flexible, after months of getting himself fit enough to keep up with Iron Man, and he shows it off, lifting a leg out of the water and stretching forward to wring the soapy cloth over his foot and work it between his toes. Behind him, Loki inhales sharply, and then Tony feels a tentative hand skim down his neck. He hums and leans back to encourage Loki further, shifting his hips on the wet stone, and grins to himself as Loki repeats the movement and then keeps going, a firm, slow stroke down Tony’s spine. 

“So much better,” Tony murmurs, all appreciation, and arches his back as he starts rubbing the cloth over his groin, fabric and hot water and soap scouring the accumulated sweat and dried come and god knows what else. He’s exaggerating his movements and soft moans for Loki’s benefit, but not by very much. God, I could stay in here for hours…

Loki hums low in his throat and shifts closer, hand dipping low to settle on the curve of Tony’s ass and give a definitely-possessive squeeze.

“Watch yourself.” Tony throws him a wink. “Not sure I’m fit to be touched yet.”

“That is my lookout, not yours. Would you truly refuse me if I wish to touch you now?”

Tony steps up a gear. “If you’re not afraid of getting wet, you can touch me as much as you like.”

He slips back into the water and turns to throw Loki an inviting grin, floating his hands over the surface and sending little waves left and right. “Coming, my prince?”

Loki stares longingly at the pool and Tony nearly declares victory, but Loki brushes his hands off and climbs back to his feet. “Take as long as you wish. Cross the hall when you’re done.” Then he turns on his heel and walks away through the steam; the heavy door booms shut behind him.

Tony huffs in frustration, but the water’s too mellowing and he feels too good to get actually worked up about it. He knows Loki’s refractory period isn’t the problem - he doesn’t seem to have one, unlike some other people Tony might know. Or be. Having come in Loki’s hand only an hour ago, maybe less, Tony won’t be getting it up again tonight, but that’s not the point. He can happily sleep with Loki without getting off; there’s a lot more to great sex than the climax, and that doesn’t take into account Tony’s need to bump Loki from interested up to obsessed. But that’ll happen; Loki’s not wandering off now because he’s not interested to start with. No, there must be something he has to do first, princely duties and all - he hasn’t actually told anyone yet about the peace treaty, except for that scary guy on the bridge with the fucking huge sword, and that news seems like something that people would want to know.

It’s also something that Tony isn’t dumb enough to want not to be happening. He knows he’s little more than an easy booty call - a brilliant, fun, and gorgeous booty call, but that doesn’t make him anything better than a high-class escort on permanent retainer with live-in options. The entire social, financial and political systems of Asgard won’t bow down to him, not the way he expected, and got, that very thing out of America and much of the rest of the world. Tony’s only recourse here is Loki and whatever power he brings to bear in Tony’s favor, a very flimsy means of support that Tony’s actions could tear down at any time. Tony can’t be a burden or an obstacle to anything Loki considers important - that gets him left alone in a lot of trouble, or worse, thrown back to SHIELD. 

So if Loki has to abandon Tony in the bath to inform everyone about the peace, Tony won’t speak a word of complaint. He just has to make sure that’s he’s also considered important, not least because he’s always important and he’s not sure he can learn how to handle being otherwise at this late date in his life. But Loki definitely wanted to stay, before he chose business before pleasure; there’s plenty for Tony to work with here, and that suits him perfectly. If he’s going to be a prince’s sexually objectified warprize, he’s going to be the best one this planet’s ever seen.

But first he’s going to find more soap.

~

Towel, or no towel?

Loki definitely likes Tony naked, after that little suggestion he made back at SHiELD - and come on, stark naked, who doesn’t like that - so it would be pretty dramatic to show up all dripping wet and instantly available. But on the other hand, there’s no fun in making this too easy for Loki, no advantage in giving everything away, and in any case Tony doesn’t want to set a precedent for permanent nudity. Much as he enjoys exhibitionism at the right moment, it’s not a full-time kind of deal, and things are going to be weird enough being introduced to people as Loki’s sex slave, without adding Loki’s naked sex slave in there. 

Besides, stripteases.

Towel it is. 

Tony swipes one up from the bench with hands that have gone past pruny and into anatomy textbook depictions, and dries himself off a little, leaving artistic trails of water running from his hair and over his chest, though the towel’s so freakishly absorbent there’s almost nothing left after just a few pats. There’s so much stuff to work with here, even their towels are weird, they’ve invented the silk ShamWow - what else do they have that’s like stuff on Earth but this much better? Tony already wants to rip up the floor in here to check out Asgardian plumbing. God, if Tony ever gets himself a workshop vaguely resembling the one back home, Loki’s going to have a very hard time prying him out of it, Earth in peril or no.

Whatever. Tony can introduce him to lab sex. Get fucked, get his hands on Asgardian tech, and save all of humanity at the same time.

Tony grins, wrapping the towel carefully low around his hips, just decent enough to be completely indecent, and saunters across the wet floor without slipping. Much.

Nobody saw it, anyway. Doesn’t count.

Tony has to throw his full weight against the colossal door to open it - Loki did this gracefully with one hand, the bastard - but across the hall, the door directly opposite has been left invitingly ajar for him, for which his burning shoulders are very grateful, and he goes straight in.

Bedroom. Hard not to work that out, with the huge bed against the wall on Tony’s right, an enormous monster of the species, putting even Tony’s to shame; it’s all dark, carved wood, towering bedposts and an elaborate headboard that, if Tony knows Loki, conceals half a dozen different bondage anchors, and a footboard to match. It’s piled with furs and pillows the same as Loki’s bed in the war camp was, and Tony’s body suddenly aches everywhere with remembering how sinfully comfortable that thing was and how long it’s been since he last slept on any mattress at all. For how luxurious the bed is, the rest of the room is strangely empty, no other furniture except a plush backless sofa bench thing in front of a massive, blazing fireplace; heat and light caress Tony’s skin.

The door booms shut and Tony jumps around to see Loki standing there, dressed down from the full plate armor, just black and green leather pants and jacket, with the nice gold edging and the almost decorative bits of scale armor here and there. He’s holding a largeish wooden box in one hand, bleached bone-white with a gold lock and hinges, and his eyes darken and his lips part as he takes in the sight of Tony, standing there dripping wet wearing only a towel - practically a clinging silk wrap - that could fall away at any moment. 

Tony bows his head and looks up from under his lashes only half-ironically. “Think I’m as clean as I’m going to get without biohazard decontamination protocols.”

The corner of Loki’s mouth lifts. “But will that be good enough, I wonder?”

Tony shrugs casually and takes a step towards the door. “I can go back in the bath for another hour-”

“You stay where you are.”

Gotcha

Loki paces forward, prowling across the room, boots silent on the silver-gray marble, eyes raking Tony’s body up and down and back again, and Tony tries not to preen too obviously under the attention. Just a flirtatious grin and a single roll of his shoulders to push his chest forward an inch or so, maybe two. And his fingers teasing the towel around his waist like he might just pull it off. Loki’s expression is all raw want, his hand clutching that box a little too tightly, a warm flush spreading over his cheekbones, and his steps, perhaps, negotiated around a growing hard-on. 

Tony is going to be unbelievably sore in the morning, and it’s going to be worth every single twinge and ache and his complete inability to walk.

Loki stops a bare foot away and just stares at him. Tony swivels his hips a little. “Pleased yet?”

Loki licks his lips before he can answer. “Kneel.”

Saw that coming.

Tony goes down slowly, folding his hands on his spread-open thighs and waiting for the rest-

The toe of Loki’s booted foot brushes the trailing edge of Tony’s towel. “Remove this.”

That’s more like it. Tony rocks up by a fraction of an inch, enough to pull the towel free in a single, sweeping motion without actually not-kneeling while doing so, and he sits back on his ankles and lifts his head. 

Loki’s still staring, completely wordless, and Tony smirks and slips a hand between his thighs to palm his soft, but oh-so-fantastically and finally clean, cock. At his age he’s got to admit he’s a one-trick man, and this is all for Loki standing over him, but it does feel good, a light rub, skin still soft from the bath. “See something you like?”

“Sure of yourself, aren’t you?” Loki says, lofty tone spoiled by the way his voice trembles. “Arrogant. Unbroken. So certain you are what I want.”

Tony grins, and pushes his hand further down to fondle his balls. “Well, I’m right.”

Loki draws in a long breath, and opens the box and holds it out towards Tony. “For you.”

Tony has to rise up to look inside, but Loki doesn’t comment on it, and as soon as Tony sees the contents he can tell why.

It’s the collar he asked for, not rough leather this time, but an intricate thing made of interlocking layers of gleaming black metal, the outermost rings gold, each one uniquely irregular, producing a roughness to the exterior. The whole collar is engraved with small, spiky runes, a repeating twenty-character pattern running around each layer, clearly visible in the external gold rings, half-hidden in the black ones where they’re covered up by others. It’s resting on top of four other near-identical bands, only smaller - wrist and ankle cuffs, he realizes, and his skin there starts to burn with hypersensitivity. He rubs a hand over one wrist, feeling the grain of his hair and the damp left from the bath, the shape of his bones and muscle under the skin, skin he might not touch again once those cuffs are on him, because Loki’s gifts don’t seem like something Tony will be taking off. For you. 

“That’s - they’re really something.” The workmanship is exquisite, the fine detailing on the runes apparently flawless in execution - not that Tony can answer for what the runes are supposed to look like, but they’ve been laid in with a steady hand, each one just different enough from the others that it’s clear they’ve been etched individually. Where did Loki get these? He certainly didn’t bring them to Earth, Tony never saw that box in his tent, but why would he have left them on Asgard when all the potential warprizes were on Earth? And besides, Loki can’t have had them sitting around, gathering dust, just in case he happened to pick up a prize who was conveniently that size…

I spent an hour in that bath after Loki left.

Rushing off to tell people about the end of the war? Fuck that. He bought me presents!

Tony’s completely dependent on Loki for everything right now, but if this is any example of how Loki plans to handle that, this is all going to be easier than Tony thought. Loki’s halfway to head-over-heels for him already.

Loki goes down to one knee in front of Tony, setting the box on the ground and gently pushing Tony back to sit on his heels again. Loki reaches into the box and pulls out two of the smaller cuffs. “Give me your wrists.”

You shall offer your hands to be chained, Loki promised, and Tony does just that, lifting his hands to hover between them, palms facing upward, open and relaxed. Loki strokes a fingertip along the center of one of the cuffs, and the metal rings shift and rotate, curving back into themselves and leaving an arc of clear space. Loki settles the open cuff over Tony’s wrist and repeats the movement, and the rings slide back into position, wrapping close around Tony’s wrist and tightening until it’s snug. The jagged roughness of the outside of the cuff makes it look brutal and restraining; the gleaming black and gold metal and the comfortable smooth fit of the inside make it a work of art, something meant to be admired and shown off. Tony turns his wrist to see the firelight reflected on the surface, rippling like water.

Loki cuffs his other wrist, and rests a hand on the metal. “There are chains to go with these.”

“Oh, good,” Tony says, and finds himself almost out of breath. “I like my jewelry to be secretly useful.”

Loki stops breathing entirely. His hands are almost too still, as if he’s forbidding them to shake, when he reaches into the box and pulls out the ankle cuffs. 

He opens them both with a smooth brush of his thumbs before holding them out towards Tony with a commanding glance at his bare ankles. “Take them.”

“Don’t you want to lock me up? Personally?”

“I am.” Loki nods at the cuffs around Tony’s wrists. “Your hands are mine. And I will have them bind you.”

That - actually makes a surprising amount of sense, sets out their gameplan nicely, but mostly it’s Loki testing said gameplan, isn’t it - he’s hunting out the boundaries of how much Tony will obey, how much control he’ll surrender, how much dominance he’ll bow to. 

And Tony’s never been one to settle for less.

He reaches out and takes the ankle cuffs, and just waits there for a moment, feeling them lying in his hands. They’re pretty weighty, nicely solid - they’ll hold him back for sure, when Loki uses them as restraints. The edges are rounded enough that they shouldn’t dig in when Tony struggles against them; bruising is another matter, they’ll do that plenty, but he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it.

Which, if the plan stays on schedule, will be about seven minutes from now.

He sets the open cuffs on his ankles and the metal spreads around them, sliding shut and gripping him - again, snugly, no loose movement but no loss of circulation either. God, they’re perfect. The weight’s grounding, just heavy enough to remind him they’re there, Loki’s mark on him - possessed, wanted, shown off to everyone who lays eyes on him as Loki’s. But he’s clearly not Loki’s prisoner anymore, these cuffs wouldn’t be wasted on a prisoner; they’re more than restraints, more than a statement of Loki’s claim. Tony’s glorious, Tony’s prized, gifted with Loki’s time and attention and devotion, and best of all, he chose this - not just his apparent servitude, but he asked for a collar. And Loki delivered something gorgeous within two hours of them hitting Asgard, and gorgeous matching cuffs, and Tony… trusts him. Is kneeling here naked for Loki to wrap him in chains, and could not possibly want it more. Craves it with a physical ache.

Loki… Tony was addicted from the first taste of him.

Loki holds up the piece de resistance, open side of the collar facing Tony, and Tony licks his lips and feels eager warmth in his chest as he leans forward, chin lifted to let Loki wrap the collar around his neck, and utterly and completely tie himself to Tony.

The metal’s cool and smooth on his throat, slithering around the back of his neck and locking shut. The collar rests on his skin, lighter than the cuffs, with no restriction on his breathing - it’s expanding and contracting ever so slightly, allowing him to not choke himself, and Tony twists and bends his neck to test its limits. It moves with him, flexible and fluid, and Tony almost, almost, wants to take it apart and find out how they made solid metal act this way. Patience. And no working on this one. 

Loki’s fingers run around Tony’s neck just under where the collar ends. “I had to go to five smiths before I found anything worthy of touching you.”

Tony swallows, the collar not digging in at all. “And believe me, I am very, very grateful.” And a little confused. Yeah, Tony’s worth something special, but five different shops? Tony barely has the attention span to - or, well, he used to - have Jarvis ask Pepper to take care of his personal shopping needs. For Loki to be coming out with this level of dedication - it’s only been a week, he can’t be that dedicated, all of Tony’s plans center on him not being that dedicated yet…

Plans change. Loki changes. Keep the fuck up.

“Beautiful,” Loki murmurs, voice low, staring at the collar, completely enthralled, and Tony reaches up and strokes it slowly with his fingertips, turning his wrist to show off the cuff as well, and smirks at the way Loki’s lips part. 

“So what are you planning to do with them?”

Loki’s eyes flick up to Tony’s, green and open with what looks like wonder, and he sets his hands on Tony’s shoulders and pulls them both up to standing. Tony’s knees twinge after the marble; he’ll have to beg very prettily for some rugs in here. 

“Your duty is to please me,” Loki whispers, breaking away to look Tony over again and again, sweeping over his cuffs and his naked body. “Willing slave to my whims, obedient and sweet. Or-” his mouth quirks in a smile, “defiant and over-proud. But you will please me. Spread your legs at my word. Fall to your knees. Offer yourself up to my blade. Serve every command I can think of. All because you trust that I hold your pleasure dear.”

Loki lifts a hand and wraps it around the collar, and tugs Tony gently towards him; Tony steps where he’s directed and tilts his head back to look Loki in the eye, anticipation making his heart pound. Loki’s gaze rakes Tony’s face like he can’t quite believe he’s seeing this.

“Trusting me.”

Loki pulls Tony in and slams their lips together - all heat and teeth, Loki’s mouth claiming and frantic, and here it is, Tony’s moment, and he gives back as good as he gets, surging forward and grabbing Loki by his lapels, their tongues sliding slickly against each other, Tony's head spinning with sensation and lack of air, fire curling in his chest.

Mine,” Loki hisses when he parts to let them breathe.

Oh, yeah, Tony thinks with a grin as Loki drags him towards the bed. All mine.

~

Tony was right: Loki’s bed does have bondage anchors.

And he’s on the floor on his knees, bent over forward, arms splayed out in front of him and chained to two of said anchors hidden in the footboard. 

“Fine indeed,” Loki murmurs appreciatively, hands finishing their sweeping assessment of Tony’s body. He shudders with the reminder, the experience still fresh; Loki kneading his muscles, humming in consideration, checking the fit of the collar and the cuffs around wrists and ankles. Tracing the reactor housing in his chest and watching the light play over his fingers, cradling Tony’s cock and balls in one hand and probing coolly for sensitive spots with the other - finding them, too, and testing them, making Tony writhe and gasp and buck away, still overstimulated from the last time Loki made him come but starting to get hard anyway - and then Loki just moved on like he didn’t even care. Fingers walking down Tony’s legs as if measuring them, Loki practically taking notes - silently, but Tony could tell what was supposed to be going on. Checked out like a horse at market, making Tony prove his promises of his own awesomeness. Humiliated and objectified, and entirely triumphant, because he’s exactly as awesome as advertised and Loki knows it. 

Loki’s finger slips between Tony’s ass cheeks and presses lightly at his rim. “Did you think to bring oil from the baths, by chance?”

“You know what, I was so focused on being nice and clean for you that I didn’t think about you getting me dirty again. My mistake.”

“It was indeed, for I haven’t the patience to fetch any. I hope that won’t be a problem for you.”

And it sounds horribly gloating and cruel on the surface, but Tony knows what he’s listening for now and he hears the little check-in, the actual hope that Tony will be okay with this, and the moment to speak up if he’s not.

It’s been a long time since college, but Tony’s not a very patient man either. 

He pushes his back and head as low as he can with his hands immobile like this, and tilts his ass up towards Loki in offering. It makes the pad of Loki’s finger rub over the puckered skin, and Tony grins and rocks his hips to all-but trick Loki into fingering him. Loki withdraws his hand immediately, not having any of it, and Tony tenses, waiting and eager for the punishing slap to his ass-

Loki strikes him across the back of the thigh and Tony shouts at the burst of pain, expected but not there, and scoots forward on his knees to pull himself out of Loki’s reach, stopping just short enough that it’s clear he’s not calling for a halt. “What? I’m just trying to tell you I don’t have a problem with taking it dry!”

Loki grabs his hips and hauls him back, effortlessly manhandling Tony’s entire body where he wants it, burning strain spreading down Tony’s stretched-out arms. “You do not take your pleasure from me,” Loki tells him, low and warning. “You beg me to grant it to you, and after that little display of impertinence, I don’t think I will.” He reaches between Tony’s thighs and teases his hanging cock with a single finger. “So you may not spill tonight, do you hear me?”

“Yes, my prince,” Tony murmurs, head bowed low, not that he was planning to come again at all. But instead he plays it this way - submissive, obedient, everything he should hate about this, because he’d never actually surrender - but somehow he’s enjoying giving in just as much as sassing back. Letting himself be pushed down exactly as far as Loki wants him to go, having Loki just take everything he wants - leaving Tony unable to disappoint or screw this up, because Loki’s right there to shove him back into line. 

Loki pulls his hand away, and then his fingers press at Tony’s lips. “Suck.”

Tony opens his mouth and swallows Loki’s fingers down, three of them stretching his lips wide and almost brushing the back of his throat. He works up saliva and spreads it with his tongue, as much of it as he can, knowing that Loki’s serious about making him take it like this, that Loki’s not going to give him any mercy he doesn’t plead for. And Tony really, really doesn’t want to tap out this early in the game. 

Loki pulls his fingers out and Tony chases them with his tongue, earning himself a chuckle and a gentle squeeze to his cock - a squeeze that turns into a fondle, a caress, stroking and stirring hot arousal in Tony’s groin, sparks flaring, and he gasps for breath, caught between pulling away to spare himself what he knows will hurt, and staying right where he is. His hips stutter into Loki’s hand, cock sore and spent and getting hard again anyway. 

“I promised you, I’m very good at this,” Loki says. “Your people may be weak, but I assure you, I will not allow that to limit my pleasure. Your body answers to me now.”

Tony’s eyes are screwed shut, hips rolling forward and pumping his cock through Loki’s hand, rough and painful and too good to possibly stop. “Hate to tell you, you can’t fight biology.”

“Can’t I?”

The dark conviction in those words deserves way more attention - but Loki’s other hand pries Tony’s ass cheeks apart and a wet finger presses into his rim. Tony’s muscles clench before he can fight his stupid and totally unwelcome self-preservation instincts and make himself relax, and open up for Loki’s finger pushing inside. The spit’s barely enough for Tony’s body to let this happen, Loki’s finger dragging painfully at his soft skin, rough friction going deeper until Tony’s writhing with it, then shouting when Loki pumps a second finger in beside the first, stretching him open. The hot pressure cracks through him until Tony can’t feel anything except the fingers splitting him, can’t think about anything more than spreading his thighs wider and rocking down into Loki’s hand on his cock, needing anything that might resemble pleasure. He shudders through it, Loki’s fingers fast and claiming and unmistakably purposeful, only opening him up to be wide enough to take a cock, nothing about foreplay or Tony’s entertainment, just a quick fingering so that Loki can get what he wants without breaking his new favorite toy.

“So tight,” Loki says distantly, thumb rubbing at Tony’s rim. “This is going to be quite painful for you.”

His other hand leaves Tony’s cock and settles on the back of his neck instead, over the collar, pushing him down just a little further. 

“I could let you suck me,” Loki murmurs, hand sliding up to comb through Tony’s hair, still wet from the bath. “That would ease this for you. But I don’t think I’ll allow you that much comfort.”

“Oh, come on,” Tony pants - who cares that he last sucked Loki off two hours ago, Loki can’t just dangle temptation like that without following through, “you’re not going to let me? What if I offer you - hell, I dunno, what do you want in exchange for the terrible burden of having your cock sucked by better than a professional?”

“I want you to suffer. I want you to hurt. I want to force my way inside your body as it tries to fight me, and I want you to bear the pain and only ask for more.” Loki’s fingers curl inside Tony and white out everything else for a moment of heat and pressure. “And you’ll do it for me, won’t you?”

Tony shifts his splayed hands where he’s bracing on the footboard of Loki’s bed, and pushes back on Loki’s fingers. “Soon as you get around to giving it to me, sure.”

Loki rips his fingers free and Tony shouts with pain and the sudden emptiness, muscles spasming, and then Loki pushes Tony’s knees further apart so he can settle between them, and his leather-clad thighs press against the backs of Tony’s. Two thumbs spread Tony’s ass open wide, and the hot, dripping tip of Loki’s cock touches his rim. 

Then Loki shoves his way in - slowly, each inch pushed inside torturously slowly, making Tony feel every rough grating drag of Loki’s cock across his skin, his rim burning as Loki stretches him wide - further, and further-

“Too much,” Tony gasps, twisting in his chains and trying to pull himself forward and away. “Too much, I can’t take it-”

“You can.” Loki strokes his hands down Tony’s trembling sides. “You can, and you will.”

He bends down to press a kiss to the corner of Tony’s cheekbone, and whisper in his ear. “And you will enjoy it.”

Loki pulls back - friction scraping Tony raw, but the stretch eases - and stops there, just the head of his cock inside Tony, the rest a hot thick shaft pushing between his cheeks. Loki’s hands slide down Tony’s sides again, soothing him into submission, soft and tender and nothing like the flares of pain radiating out from his asshole. God, he’s going to be fucked raw by the end of this, skin red and angry if Loki doesn’t make him bleed - and somehow Tony wants that, wants to be used and broken down and pushed to his limits, wants to prove how much he can take. 

Because he can take it. Loki’s eyes burned hotter than this when he stared at Tony and promised him all those things back at SHIELD - and Tony agreed and pushed for more because that’s what he does. He doesn’t give in when it’s too much, doesn’t back down - he’s going to make Loki give him what’s he’s got, throw himself on the line and come out the other end with everything he could possibly want.

He tightens around Loki experimentally, just a little flexing of his muscles, but Loki moans low and loud and his hands come to settle on Tony’s ass, thumbs digging in ready to spread him wide again. 

“There you are,” Loki breathes. “It’s so much easier when you just believe me, isn’t it?” His hips rock forward, cock shifting another inch deeper, and Tony hisses at the stretch and the pressure, but he takes it. 

Then Loki slams home and the blistering sensations crash through Tony’s brain one after another, thrusts barely felt before Loki’s spearing him again. He’s fucked hard and rough, all the pain and force and hurt that Loki could want, and god it burns as Loki shoves in and out and in again, Loki’s cock too dry and Tony not prepped enough - except for all the ways he is, he’s taking all of it and it isn’t breaking him, he’s strong under the simmering agony flowing through his nerves, and there’s enough of him left to moan at the targeted thrusts to his prostate, glittering pleasure and heat keeping him craving more. 

Loki finds a rhythm and keeps going, hands on Tony’s hips pulling him back onto his cock, and all Tony can do is brace himself in his chains. He’s gasping with every thrust, Loki fucking the breath out of him, making him go dizzy and lightheaded and completely, utterly open to everything Loki’s doing to him, nothing left to resist or plot or beg for a hand on his cock again, nothing but the sensations of a hot, tight hole for Loki to fuck. 

Loki’s fingernails rake down his back, long stinging marks flaring on his skin, and then he wraps his fingers around Tony’s cock and strokes slow and firm, and Tony loses himself in the storm, need and want and god so fucking good. The pain’s easy to savor, intense and welcome, when every second Tony chooses to stay here beneath Loki, knows this is only happening because he wants it to, holds all the power to let Loki keep going and take his due. Mine, Tony thinks in time with Loki’s thrusts, mine, mine, mine, body rocking forward and balls swinging, Loki’s hand on his cock pumping in the same rhythm. So fast, so soon but Tony’s already on the edge, Loki’s fingers working all those desperately sensitive spots he found before, and Tony’s moaning and gasping for more despite this one doubt that there’s a reason he shouldn’t be, but it’s not like he can stop now.

Loki moves; his hands disappear and then cover Tony’s own, pinning them flat to the footboard, Loki stretched out over him, chest pressed to Tony’s back, leather against skin. His thrusts go shallow, rock-hard cock twitching inside Tony. 

“Milk me, pet,” Loki purrs in Tony’s ear, and Tony shudders and clenches down with his aching, sore muscles, and hears Loki’s throaty moan and finds the energy to do it again. His own cock is throbbing and begging for attention, and he’s clinging to that edge with his fingertips as he starts sliding back down. Tony pushes his hips back into Loki’s and works that thick cock inside of him, hoping for reward, something, but Loki’s hands just crush his to the bedframe and he bites at the cords of Tony’s neck where they’re exposed above the collar. 

Tony shouts, pain spiking down into his cock and he’s coming, shooting onto the floor between his knees. 

Distantly he hears a cold, brutal laugh, hands gripping his hips again as Loki pounds inside, once, twice, buries himself deep - and goes still as his cock pulses and hot come pools in Tony’s ass. Loki pulls back and Tony feels the last spurts land on his bare skin, wet lines across his stinging rim, gapingly empty, and Tony feels himself clench, fluttering, the come inside him shifting as he holds it in. 

His wrist cuffs are released from the bedframe, and Loki lifts him up and back to sit on his heels, arms lying on his thighs and tingling with returning blood, shaking and weak. He can feel the come leaking from him, sloppy, his rim all stretched and puffy, bruises on his hips and his knees, wrists numb under the cuffs. And the pleasure of his orgasm lingering, the afterglow loosening his muscles and dulling the pain into something delicious, what he’ll do because Loki asks him to. 

Damn, it’s good.

Loki’s hands run down Tony’s arms, and he hears the creak of leather as Loki leans in close behind him. “Oh, Stark,” Loki says, almost laughing, and Tony feels a chill go through his skin. “I thought you had learned obedience by now.” He brushes Tony’s cock with his knuckles, and Tony hisses and flinches back from the overstimulation, product of coming twice in one evening-

Wait a minute.

“I distinctly remember forbidding your release, and yet…” Loki’s hand wraps around the back of Tony’s neck, finger and thumb lying against the bottom of the collar, tightening to the point of that teasing maybe-threat he’s so fond of, and he forces Tony to look down. At the white streaks of come across the marble, glowing in the light from the arc reactor.

Tony reaches for focus through his fucked-out haze. “Oops.” He grins and throws a cheeky tone into his voice. “What’re you going to do about it?”

Loki’s dark chuckle almost makes him wish he hadn’t said that. “There is a cage to go with your cuffs.” Loki taps the head of Tony’s cock and makes him flinch again. “Fitting punishment, wouldn’t you agree? If you can’t obey me by choice, I shall have to enforce it.”

“Can’t argue with that.”

Loki breath stutters and his hand softens on Tony’s neck. “You would… you can. I expected you to fight this. Why let me bar your pleasure from you?”

The hesitance sounds odd in Loki, but Tony doesn’t have the brainpower to think about it right now. “Because you’re going to let me earn it. What’ll it be, I bring you off three times, maybe four, before you give me a turn? Going to make me beg until I hit the magic word? Maybe I’ll just play with myself until you’re desperate to see me go all the way.”

“Cunning thing,” Loki murmurs, and strokes a hand down Tony’s back, warm and gentle on the welts left by his nails. 

“On the other hand, maybe I could convince you to leave it off.”

“Oh? And what do you think you can offer me that is more satisfying than the thought of you bound at my whim?”

In answer, Tony bends to all fours, lowering himself to the floor, and he stretches out his tongue and licks at the nearest stripe of come. 

Humiliation curls in his stomach, but it’s way less important than the addicting power of pulling that adoring moan out of Loki; a simple smooth, inviting curve of Tony’s spine and Loki’s crawling forward, covering him, his hand coming to rest on Tony’s neck, fingers guiding Tony down as his tongue swipes across the floor again. He tastes cold marble and cooling spunk, and it’s filthy and degrading to be doing this, but that’s the point, isn’t it, showing off how far he’s willing to go, what he’s capable of, what Loki can have if he plays along with Tony’s game. Loki’s short breaths make heat flood through Tony’s body and leave glittering control dancing in his hands.

He shifts his thighs apart a little and lifts his ass so Loki can see how utterly ruined he is, swollen and red and glistening with Loki’s come, spread across his rim and dripping out from inside. “Like what you’ve done?” Tony whispers, lips brushing the marble. “Think I could take it if you just slid back in? Because I’m really sore after that, it’d be hard to take more…” He shifts forward and licks up another patch, swallows, and moves on to the next. “But I’d do it if you told me to.”

“I am telling you, Stark,” Loki says, low and cold and taking back every scrap of control he’s let Tony play with until now, “that you will wear that cage, and all your pretty attempts to persuade me otherwise will not save you.”

Tony stops. That’s humiliation, caught and called on it, not good enough to slip under Loki’s radar…

So step up the fucking game. You’re nowhere near your best yet. He’ll take everything you’ve got to give and more.

Nothing less than that’s going to cut it.

Loki’s hand laces through Tony’s damp hair and clenches tight, and then pulls him up to his knees - slowly but firmly, letting Tony scramble upright but nowhere else. He’s gasping for breath as Loki drags him back to settle against his chest, Tony practically draped over him. Loki releases his hair and drops that arm to wrap around Tony’s waist, thumb of his other hand brushing a stray drop of come from the corner of Tony’s mouth and pushing it inside for Tony to suck clean. Loki’s still dressed, leather sticking to Tony’s skin, and his hair’s still immaculate when he bows his head to lick at the sweat on Tony’s shoulder.

“Another bath, I think,” Loki murmurs in his ear, “and some salve for that raw, aching hole of yours. Your back, too, perhaps. Oh, you took it so well, my Stark, you take everything so well, magnificent thing, you cannot imagine how pleased I am with you…”

“You don’t think the spunk dripping out of my ass is a big enough clue?”

Loki laughs, amused, and nuzzles Tony’s neck above the collar. “Come now. Bathe, and then rest. I want you strong for tomorrow.”

He gets his arms under Tony’s and pulls them both up to their feet, Tony staggering a little, or a lot; Loki chuckles, and pats Tony’s hip as he starts steering them towards the door. “And believe me, you’ll need all the strength you have.”

Tony’s whole body is one big aftershock, his back feels like it might be bleeding, and his legs aren’t cooperating to the point that Loki’s all-but carrying him across the room. What the hell does Loki have planned that’s going to require him to recover from this overnight?

He grins. “I can’t wait.”

Chapter Text

“I have a gift for you.”

Tony’s almost too busy stuffing his face to answer. God, when was the last time he ate? “Yeah? Does this one block my cock too?”

Because he’s only got one hand filling his plate again and again with warm bread and meat and cut fruit; the other one’s tucked between his legs.

He can’t stop touching the cage around his cock, feeling the weight of it settled in his palm, running his fingers over the smooth edges where the metal of the cage meets his bare skin, testing the same snug, comfortable fit as the collar and cuffs that are the only things he’s wearing right now. The cage is made of the same black and gold metals, finely crafted to let him move without discomfort, flexible enough that it’s not holding his cock stiff or even really restrained. Until, Loki’s assured him, he starts getting hard - well, no, the start’s okay, it’ll let him get that far; it’s when he’s ready to come that he’ll be in trouble, the metal locking down and cutting him off, a tight punishing squeeze that Loki guarantees won’t let him climax. 

Loki slipped it on him the moment he woke up, interlocking layers of delicate metal bands crisscrossing his cock, appealingly irregular and looking almost organic, like it’s some exotic vine that’s draped over his skin and could fall away at any moment. Loki’s eyes shone with power and near-disbelief at how much Tony was letting him get away with, and his hands were tender and careful and almost reverent, tucking Tony away inside the cage like he was something precious that needed to be protected.

Which Tony appreciates, because a pinch there? Not his idea of fun. 

Loki smirks in answer to his question. “Oh, I don’t think you’ll be caring too much about that.”

Tony shoves another piece of fruit into his mouth and chases it with a bite of bread and a swallow of a rich, satisfying wine that’s doing an amazing job of quenching his thirst, since he can’t remember the last time he drank something either. “Really? Because you know I’m only wearing this thing so I can sex you into taking it off me.” Well, that, and because he’s Tony Stark and it’s kind of unacceptable to have encountered a toy he’s never experimented with before. So far he’s got to say that aesthetically, it’s gorgeous, and close to arousing all on its own - there’s an inescapable and delicious forbidden taste to it, the way Loki’s locked him up, as if the chains and the collar weren’t enough. Possessed. Owned. Treasured and wanted, so much the hottest thing that Asgard’s ever seen that Loki had to stake his claim the second he could.

Yeah, all things considered, Tony’s pretty happy with his situation. Protecting Earth almost comes secondary to his personal satisfaction, seeing as they share the same method: wind Loki completely around Tony’s little finger. Tony’s winning himself all the sex, shiny things, and luxury lifestyle he can handle, and when he’s fed up with decorating Loki’s bed, Tony can have anything on Asgard that its prince can offer him. And - most importantly, and Tony can’t forget it - if Thor threatens Earth again, Tony will just bat his eyelashes and Loki will step up to the plate for him.

It’s everything he wanted from his life before Afghanistan: Tony Stark, engineer by - well, whenever - and playboy by whenever else. Even the shaky moral compass he started developing after he came back is satisfied enough with bribing Loki into protecting Earth; with that settled, it’s shutting up and leaving him alone to actually enjoy himself. Tony might have moved planets, but pretty much the only thing that’s changed is that the ratio of engineering to sex is probably more in sex’s favor, given Loki’s priorities. But it’s not as if it’s going to be hard to persuade him to let Tony have another hour in the workshop, as soon as Loki gives him a workshop - if I finish this now then nothing will distract me while I’m sucking you until you come all over my face - and Tony’ll just have to actually follow through on those promises, since the consequences of pissing Loki off are immeasurably higher than doing the same thing to the company’s board of directors. But it’s not like sleeping with Loki is going to be a challenge.

Apart from all the very satisfying ways it is.

Loki picks a grape from the platter, dips it in some kind of sauce, and pushes it slowly into his mouth. It leaves creamy white trails smeared on his lips, and Tony’s blood pounds loudly in his ears and his cock twitches, the cage fluidly moving with him. Loki grins and licks his lips slowly, thoroughly, wet pick tongue leaving shining trails of saliva. He deliberately - it has to be deliberately, the utter tease - avoids one streak at the corner of his mouth. “And how will you manage that, I wonder, when you’re so easily distracted by other things? A crook of my finger and you will forget all about your own desires.”

Tony smirks. “We’ll see about that. So where’s my gift?”

Loki pushes his chair back to stand up from the table. He’s dressed simply if absolutely edibly: a loose shirt hanging open over his bare chest, that Tony just wants to rip off of him, its pale gold color making his skin look whiter, and plain black leather pants, the laces holding them shut at the crotch barely done up, tantalizing and threatening to fall off at any moment without actually showing anything. Anything more than skintight, weirdly flexible Asgardian leather usually does, anyway. 

Tony, right now, is showing everything. But with Loki eyeing him up and down and the pleasantly warm breeze coming through the windows, he’s enjoying himself more than anything else.

Loki sighs. “I’m afraid I must call it more of a reward for enduring this day. My brother doesn’t yet know you’re here, and I don’t want him to mistake you for a Midgardian spy and kill you on the spot. So I must formally present you as my accepted prize, all negotiations sealed, and then I imagine he will suddenly find several vital duties for me to perform and require me to dismiss you.”

“Jerk,” Tony says, and Loki gives him a tiny but sincere smile. “Seriously, I thought I was a peace offering? How can he not be fond of the idea that you kept me?”

Loki turns around and heads for the door, and throws a hand over his shoulder to beckon Tony to follow him. “Thor gave you to me as entertainment during our campaign on Midgard, nothing more. Now that he is no longer demanding I tolerate his ridiculous war, I should have no need for you.” Loki pushes open the double door separating the dining room from the hallway outside and steps through.

“When, let me guess, he’s exactly as annoying at home?”

“Far more so, when not distracted by other things. With the war on Jotunheim being fought without him, he shall be insufferable.”

Without him?” Tony scrambles to keep up with Loki’s long strides and his non-sequiturs as he opens another enormous set of doors. “Hang on, weren’t you guys recalled so you could go deal with this other war? You know, the one that conveniently broke out the morning after I said I wanted you off my planet?”

Loki looks back at him with a smirk. “Oh, come now. You of all people are bold enough to ask me directly.”

Tony stops in the doorway and inhales, the moment suddenly not a joke anymore. “You started another war just because I told you I wanted you off Earth.”

“Yes, I did,” Loki says, just as sombre, smirk gone and eyes grave. “I helped Asgard’s greatest enemy cross her borders and threaten the heart of the palace itself. Highest treason against my father and personal betrayal of my brother, because there was no other way I could have you.”

“… Wow.”

Loki arches that pointed eyebrow. “Is that all you have to say?”

“What, you think ‘thank you’ would’ve been any better? You started a war for me! That’s not the sort of thing I’ve had much practice with!”

“Good,” Loki says firmly, lips twitching up. “I should hate to have competition.”

Tony bursts out laughing - it’s too ridiculous not to, that this is just something Loki does, that it’s on the same scale as giving Tony flowers or something, and Tony’s laughing because if he stops to think instead, he’ll have to start being terrified of somebody capable of something like this, and he’ll realize that every death in the war with Jotunheim is because of him, and he just got over his last crisis of conscience and he’s not strong enough to take on another one yet. Please. 

Loki shuts the doors behind them and then the room fills with light, glowing lanterns hanging in the corners of a gorgeous and massive walk-in wardrobe. There are a lot of clothes in here: jackets, coats, pants, shirts, capes, down to garments Tony doesn’t even recognize, all on individual free-standing racks so that nothing’s sandwiched out of sight, everything in green and black and gold like Loki’s never heard of any other color scheme.

Still, when it works so well for him, Tony’s not sure why he should bother.

“These are yours.”

Tony turns. “Sorry, mine?

Loki’s standing by an alcove in one wall, small only by comparison with the rest of the room, with hooks covering the walls and more clothes hanging from them. “Do you think I’ll leave you in those foul rags I found you in? I had them burned. I told you my prize has nothing less than the finest Asgard has to offer.”

“Oh. Again, wow.” Tony approaches and runs his hand over a jacket made of something a little like denim, tough yet soft, green and black segments alternating to form the layered, attractively asymmetric look that’s apparently so popular around here. There’s gold leaf mail hiding under slits down the sides and the back to allow free movement, and it’s lined with silk that feels like fabric made from water. It’s got a high collar to frame his throat - and conceal the metal collar around his neck, except from the direct front, where it’s cut wide. 

And that’s just one of the jackets in here; there’s an awful lot more, dozens, and then shirts and pants and whatever else, that Tony’s going to have to explore. Mental note: fashion parade for Loki with interim stripteases between outfits. 

“I think my colors will suit you well,” Loki purrs, and his hand slides down Tony’s back, caressing the ripples of his spine, to settle possessively on his ass cheek and squeeze. “Like them?”

“Hell, yes. And thanks. For all this.” For somehow managing to get Tony an entire wardrobe overnight - that Tony can already tell is exactly in his size, just like the clothes Loki gave him back in the camp, and looks fantastic and very well made; Tony knows a quality suit when he sees one. Knows how to wear one, too - he’s going to knock people dead in this gear. Hottest thing Asgard’s ever seen. 

Loki’s fingertips slide into the seam where Tony’s cheek meets his thigh. “I should ask you to drop to your knees and show me how grateful you are,” Loki murmurs. “I do so enjoy your mouth. But making Thor wait is unwise.”

“I’d like to not get killed my first day on the job,” Tony agrees.

Loki squeezes him hard, fingers digging in, and Tony yelps and squirms away. 

“Fool,” Loki chides him, smiling. “I paid quite a high price for you. Starting a war in exchange for your eternal service I consider a fair trade; starting a war in exchange for your corpse I do not.”

Tony rubs the fingerprints out of his ass. “Gotcha. I’m to hide behind you at all times. Which is going to make it awkward when you want to fuck me, I’m not that flexible, but I’m sure you’ll work something out.”

Loki smirks. “I can always protect you from Thor by chaining you to my bed and barring the doors and windows. You’re perfectly accessible in that position.”

“Or we can lock Thor up somewhere, and fuck wherever and however we want. Until he busts out and smashes both our heads in. I’ll admit that’s a slight flaw in my plan.”

Loki laughs. “Leave Thor to me. I’ll assure your safety in a way that gets neither of us killed.” His gaze hardens. “He takes enough from me. He won’t cost me you, too.”

“Good to hear.”

“But like it or not, we must go see him. Dress yourself. Perhaps in this one instead.” Loki strides to the far end of the wall of jackets, and selects an elegant one in black and gold - with no sleeves, no high collar, and Tony grins and flicks his wrists in their cuffs.

“Showing me off?”

Loki lifts his chin. “You are the only prize any warrior of Asgard took from Midgard. Even my brother could not sway but one of his companions to him. Yes, I would have all of them, and especially Thor, know that I and I alone was chosen for the honor, that I am the only one worthy of so handsome and glorious a prize as you.”

Loki selects a fitted green shirt from another wall, clearly meant to go under the jacket, and holds them both out to Tony. “Push the sleeves back, my Stark,” he commands with a grin. “Let them see that you are mine.”

~

When they find him after navigating the cavernous maze Loki calls a palace, Thor is scowling down at a blue-tinted map spread out across a table and pinned at the corners with green glass paperweights. He glances up once at Loki’s knock on the open door, and does a hilarious double-take at the sight of Tony behind him, collar and cuffs on perfect display. 

“What mischief is this, brother? You told me you had released him!”

Loki shrugs. “I did. But it seems he found my bed so pleasing he came back.” He smiles sharply and presses a hand under Tony’s chin to make him tilt his head up. “He’s beautiful, isn’t he? I thank you again; you chose him well.”

Loki…”

“I found him when I returned to Midgard to sign peace, as Father ordered me,” Loki says, hand and amused tone dropping away. “I wanted him, he was satisfied with my terms, and I took him. He’s mine, nothing more to it.”

Thor glares, hands bunched into fists on the table. “We are at war. This is no time for you to dally with pretty Midgardian boys.”

Loki steps forward before Tony can open his mouth to protest that he’s nowhere near a boy. “We are not at war, brother. Father is. Do you expect to see the frost giants marching up the Bifrost?”

“Father left me here to defend Asgard,” Thor grinds out. “He must have thought there was some threat!”

Yeah, keep telling yourself you’re useful, sucker. Gloating? Tony? Never. And the important thing is that he’s plenty experienced enough to keep it off his face.

Loki bows his head. “As you say. When the enemy is at our gates, I promise the last thing I will be thinking about is Stark. Until then, I have well earned him.”

Thor steps around the table and looms over them. He’s not actually that much taller or broader than Loki, but there’s a menace there that Tony can see Loki having to steel himself against, not to mention that he’s definitely taller and broader than Tony. “Keep him close. You bring an enemy into our midst in dangerous times.”

Loki scoffs. “One mortal among all of us? Even if he thought of anything of the sort, what could he possibly do? Besides, our war with Midgard has ended. What reason has he to turn against us?” He smiles and lays a hand on Thor’s arm. “I promise, brother. He won’t give you any concern, nothing to distract you from your regency. You’ll hardly know he’s here.”

Thor snarls silently. “You know I need you at my side now more than ever. Do not let him distract you.”

Tony can almost hear Loki roll his eyes. “I’m not going to risk the safety of Asgard for a single tumble.”

Thor - Thor actually blushes, glancing away and seeming to shrink. “That is unfair. You know the truth of that night.”

Oh, you did what?

“I do, brother,” Loki assures him warmly, hand still on Thor’s arm. “But there is no such danger from Stark. He’s eager and experienced, and he amuses me, nothing more.”

Thor finally looks Tony in the eye. “Stark, eh?”

Tony jerks his chin up, hands twitching where they’re gripping each other behind his back. “That’s me. Totally not dangerous at all.”

Thor laughs. “Loki doesn’t own anything that isn’t dangerous.” He shoves past Loki and claps Tony on the shoulder; Tony’s knees nearly buckle but the gesture’s unmistakably friendly with inhuman strength taken into account. “Don’t touch anything you see in his chambers. I once nearly lost a hand to a poisonous tusk he was using as a book stand.”

“You shouldn’t have been touching my things at all,” Loki snipes. “And now when he refuses to let me shove anything inside him, I shall know who is to blame.”

Thor grins, and strides back over to his map. “All right, keep him. But right now I require your assistance. These maps are centuries out of date and poorly drawn even when they were fresh.”

Thor’s looking down at the map, so Tony’s the only one who sees the relieved slump of Loki’s shoulders. “Of course.”

“And already I hear word of bandits arising,” Thor adds. “A mere two days of the Allfather’s absence and they seek to challenge my rule!”

“You’ll crush them,” Loki says idly. “With you upon the throne, I am quite sure they seek their own deaths.”

“Well, they shall be granted,” Thor growls. “Perhaps I will speak with Sif about it today.”

“Why wait, indeed.”

Thor pounds a hand to the bluish map. “This. This is why. I want to send Father some useful intelligence, to show him I deserve the command on Jotunheim. Strategy, the layout of their lands, something.”

Loki shrugs. “You know, he may be more impressed with your ability to maintain peace and rule here. He knows full well your martial prowess; you’ve been kept here because you have rather too much of it.”

“I heard his reasons as well as you!”

Loki raises placating hands to deflect Thor’s anger. “I merely thought to…”

Thor waves him away. “Go. Bring me whatever you can find about Jotunheim in the library, and we’ll find some weakness I can offer Father.”

Tony’s half-expecting a bow, but Loki just turns on his heel and heads for the door, summoning Tony with a casually commanding flick of his finger. 

The door - gleaming, gold metal thirty feet high - swings shut behind them, and Loki exhales and runs a hand over his face, dropping limply onto a couch against the wall. “Idiot. I do wonder sometimes if there’s any wisdom in him at all.”

Tony shrugs and sits down next to Loki, sprawling across the plush cushions and stretching out the tension Thor seems to wind up in him every time he appears. “He’s right about one thing, though. Those frost giant guys got in here once, could they do it again?” For one thing, Tony doesn’t really want to meet any species known as frost giants. He feels short enough next to Loki.

Loki looks across at Tony, something stirring deep underneath the calm in his gaze. “They likely had help to enter, or else they would have done so before this. I doubt they will find such help again.”

Likely. Okay, so they’re not admitting to treason outside of Loki’s wing. “Yeah, but could they do it on their own?”

Loki shakes his head. “Again, I doubt it. Jotuns are not known for their intelligence or bravery. Besides, Father marches with our entire amassed army to prevent that from happening. They won’t be able to spare even one man.”

Tony almost feels his jaw drop to the floor. “Did you say your entire army?”

“You heard me.”

“Because if I knew that my enemy had left his home base completely defenseless, I’d sure as hell manage to spare one man to get in there. I get that you guys didn’t catch the latest Game of Thrones, but you have to know that’s a bad idea - how many of these frost giants would it take to knock you over right now? If everyone’s on their planet, who’s protecting this one?”

“Thor,” Loki snaps back, “and I. His friends, who despite being like-minded idiots do have great skill in battle. And Odin Allfather and Asgard’s armies stand between the Jotuns and whatever path they used to come here.”

Tony shakes his head. “Come on, you’re smarter than that. You can’t like this any more than I do-”

Loki’s hand seizes Tony’s throat and the blazing warning in his gaze shuts Tony’s mouth in a flash. Loki reels him in slowly, dragging him upright, to whisper in his ear. “Don’t question the Allfather’s strategy, Stark. You’ll be smarter than that if you wish to survive.”

Tony’s body goes cold. “What is this, North Korea?” he rasps. “Nobody can say anything bad about the Great Leader?”

“Just don’t. I can protect you from Thor, but no-one can save you if you offend my father.” His thumb strokes down Tony’s carotid. “Yes, it is a flawed plan. Enough.”

He lets go of Tony’s throat and sits back, and Tony sinks down onto the couch, massaging his neck and looking up and down the empty, cavernous hall, completely devoid of people. “How exactly is your dad supposed to find out what I’m saying when he’s on another planet?”

Loki gives him an odd look. “I know your people constantly watch each other. Do you find it strange that you might be heard here?”

“Well, point out the hidden cameras and the microphones, oh, or anything using electricity, or anything that doesn’t look like something out of a museum, and I’ll buy it.”

“Electricity,” Loki scoffs, like it’s dirt under his boot. “We haven’t used that in any form you’d recognize for several thousand years.”

Tony stares. “Okay, I am reading every single book about engineering on this planet for as long as you’re stuck with Thor and probably longer.”

Loki smiles. “And what makes you think you can read the books in our library?”

“The same thing that makes me think we can talk to each other despite you being, you know, an alien and now that I think about it that doesn’t make any sense either, even though it’s obviously happening anyway?”

Loki shakes his head. “What allows you and I to speak is an ability of my race to share the meaning behind words, regardless of the form in which they are spoken. Text on a page does not possess it. You won’t be able to read any book that contains what you want to know.”

Tony pouts. “Don’t suppose your library has audiobooks?”

“Have patience. I promised you a gift, didn’t I?”

~

“Oh, you’re kidding me, that’s - this isn’t possible. How did you-”

Loki doesn’t look up from running his hand over smooth metal. “Spoils of war. Thor does like his trophies.”

Tony stares around again, just in case the view that must be a hallucination has fixed itself in the interim, but he’s still looking at dozens of his Iron Man suits, all painted in the colors of the various different militaries they were given to by SHIELD, spread out across a table each - huge, solid bricks of tables with shelves built in underneath, loaded with tools. The room’s well-lit, bright globes hanging from the vaulted ceiling and the walls at least eighty percent window, pillars holding up the roof and the rest of it just bare arches letting fresh air through. There’s a forge down one end of the room; it looks entirely decorative, two massive granite blocks, one suspended above the other, but the air between them is shimmering with intense heat and Tony knows what he’s looking at.

It’s a workshop. His workshop, Loki said.

Pre-stocked with all the tech the Asgardians took from the human soldiers they captured.

Tony lost everything when he fled SHIELD. He destroyed everything, cut himself off with nowhere to land but the middle of Loki’s mattress, and he was okay with that. Start again, find something new, that’s been in the back of his head this whole time. But this… The suits must have been brought back here when the Asgardians decamped, with no connection to Jarvis and the activation of the Clean Slate protocol, hence the lack of, well, clean slate. No, he doesn’t have to start again; he can take all the progress he’s already made and make it better

Tony stops; his hand, reaching out to touch the nearest suit, curls back into a fist. Oh, he’s not falling for this again.

There’s no chance Loki trusts Tony this much. Enough to be sure that Tony won’t stab him in the back in his sleep, fine, but Loki’s way too smart to take the guy who was trying to kill his entire race just a week ago, and return him the very same weapons he used to do it, especially not with Thor’s paranoia still fresh in his ears. Loki would never leave the suits in Tony’s hands - this can’t be about Tony at all. But Loki knows he makes weapons and armor and the first thing he does with Tony is shove him in a workshop full of stolen tech… Oh, yeah, Tony knows what this is. 

“They’re truly wondrous,” Loki murmurs, low and admiring, pacing through Tony’s peripheral vision, running his fingertips over the various suits he passes. “Raw metal strong enough to endure an Asgardian assault, speed and grace despite the weight - I am surprised you can stand while wearing one, let alone fight as you did.”

There’s a questioning lilt at the end inviting Tony to explain how it’s done, but he’s not taking the bait. God, it’s hilarious, isn’t it? Here Tony was, plotting his seduction so that Loki would let him work, and the whole time Loki was over there, plotting his seduction to make Tony work for him.

“Sooner or later, Thor’s friends will challenge you to prove that you are a warrior they need not be ashamed to stand beside,” Loki says. “When you fight them, I would have you win. I would see you triumph over every one of them. All of these are yours, and whatever else you desire.”

He raps his knuckles on metal, and Tony looks over to see his suit. His suit, the very one they stripped off him before he woke up in their camp; he never gave anyone else that hotrod red color and even from here he can see the familiar fineness of the joints, the way his is designed to mould perfectly to his body while the ones he made for SHIELD needed to fit any soldier they were handed out to. Loki’s lifted the helmet between his hands, gazing down at the faceplate with a small smile on his lips.

“I have also summoned the master smiths,” he throws over his shoulder. “They will teach you of Asgardian craft and answer any and all questions you may have. I expect something truly wondrous, when your hands meet Asgardian materials.”

Yeah, I’ll bet you do. And then you’ll have to take it back to Earth to give it a fair testing against the previous model, right?

Loki sets the helmet back down and turns to face Tony fully, smiling. “So? What do you think? Can I leave you here when I must be elsewhere, and know you satisfied?”

But why would Loki want Tony making weapons for him? Asgard was overrunning SHIELD with pocket knives and Lord of the Rings costumes; even Tony’s best work was pretty much nothing compared to what they had. Why would Loki want anything Tony could possibly make when the Asgardians shrugged off three entire nukes? Anything Tony does with Asgard’s resources can only be reinventing the wheel.

So why give him any at all? What does Loki want from him?

“Spoils of war,” Tony says, avoiding Loki’s gaze. “Isn’t that all I am too, spoils of war? Your reward for beating us into submission? Why give my weapons back? Why give me anything that isn’t about getting on my knees for you?”

Loki scoffs harshly. “You’re far too clever to believe that. Come, my Stark, I thought you trusted me. I’ll lie to Thor, not to you. I told you I wanted everything that you are - warrior, smith, all of you. Show me what you’re worth.”

His hand grabs Tony’s shoulder and jerks him around so they’re face-to-face, Loki with anger leashed maybe not tightly enough. “Do you forget so quickly what you are? You’re magnificent and proud and mine. I want you to stand by my side in all things, not simper in my bed waiting for my return with trinkets to please you.”

He steps closer and settles his other hand on Tony’s chest. “I know what I am to your people,” he murmurs, low and almost lost in the breeze flowing through the room. “Conqueror. Villain. Enemy. I do not deny these things. But is it so hard to believe I can care for you?”

Tony swallows. “People don’t… care. Not since…” Pepper. God, the telling-off I’d get if you could see me now… “They just like what I can do for them.” He shrugs himself out of Loki’s grip - honesty’s plenty, he’s not turning this into an emotional bonding moment too - and drifts to the other side of the table, staring down at his reflection in the suit’s red paint. “So you give me a place to work and you tell me you want weapons, and you have no idea how many times I’ve heard that before. No guns, this time, that’s a plus, and these are much nicer digs than I’ve seen since we left Malibu, but I’m still not going to enjoy handing these over to you.”

“Stark-”

“Because I have this rule,” Tony rushes on. “Really simple rule. Don’t touch what’s mine. Really simple. And still nobody seems to get it right. I killed the last guy who messed with that rule and I was kinda, you know, prepared to die for it, for a little while there before you showed up, so whatever you’re looking to get out of me here-”

“I want nothing,” Loki says, loud and clear like he thinks Tony can’t hear him. “This is for you. I have seen you tormented by boredom already, and I thought this would keep you from getting into trouble. And I can’t have a warrior give oath to me and then have nothing to fight with.”

He steps closer, hand sliding across the table towards Tony’s. “On Midgard, your armor made your people strong enough to stand against us. With Asgardian weapons and power you would be all but unstoppable. I saw Thor wounded by your people, I took injury myself. Arrayed in Asgard’s might, with the genius that forced us to fight you as equals instead of hunting you down for sport-”

“Your brother’s a really stand-up guy, you know that?”

Enough of my brother,” Loki hisses. “I am granting you the strength to pin his face to the dirt! Just take it!”

Tony stares down at the suit; his twisted, red-tinted reflection stares back. “They’re really mine? Free and clear?”

“I have armor and weapons already, Stark, and no warrior of Asgard would thieve from another. They’re yours.”

Loki lets out a long sigh, and then presses himself to Tony’s back, arms wrapping Tony’s waist. His lips kiss Tony’s cheek softly. “To force this from you is crueler use than I ever mean to put you to. I want you willing in my bed, but no less so here. If this is something you do not want-”

“No, I do,” Tony blurts out, “I really, really do, you have no idea how much I - I need to work like I need to breathe. Maybe more. I just have to know I’m doing it my way.”

“I want to find those that have given you reason to doubt me now, and make them eat their own hearts.” Loki says it as calmly as the rest of his reassurances, like he thinks Tony will like it that Loki wants to hurt anyone who’s hurt him…

Yeah, okay, he might have a point. Not that Tony needs protection, or help in killing his own enemies, but when was the last time someone offered?

Yinsen. Pepper. 

And that worked out really well for them, didn’t it?

At least Tony can be sure that anything big and bad enough to take Loki down will probably destroy the entire planet as well, and Tony with it. He doesn’t think he could go through that a third time.

“Trust me, Stark.” Loki’s breath is warm on Tony’s cheek. “You trusted me to bind you in chains and snatch you from your world entirely. Trust me with your freedom in this place.”

“Only one way to find out, right?”

Tony feels Loki go still, and then he pulls away and steps back, which, not fair, Tony agreed to trust him, and he was kind of enjoying that hug thing. Tony turns around to see what Loki’s problem is, and Loki’s striding away towards the door, coat rippling around his legs.

“Hey, what are you-”

Loki jerks the door open, and there are three men already standing on the other side - all old, white hair and beards, clearly the active, alert kind of elderly, with long experience they haven’t forgotten any of. They’re dressed down for Lady-Gaga-with-more-gold Asgard, simple pants and long tunics belted tight to their bodies, heavy boots, everything in attractive shades of reddish-brown and gray and navy blue.

“The master smiths,” Loki introduces them with a wave as they come forward, a low bow of their heads to Loki as they pass him and move into the workshop proper. “Anything you ask of them shall be done.”

“If it’s within our power,” says one, short and thick with arms like a weightlifter. “Ask us to retune the lock and we might have some trouble.”

“I don’t see that happening, so I think we’ll be okay.” What the hell is retuning the lock? And why would it be such a problem?

Oh, god, is Tony going to have to ask these guys to explain everything that comes out of their mouths? He might have done better with Loki’s unreadable books and an Asgardian-to-English technical dictionary.

How many times would he have to bend over for Loki to get one commissioned…?

“How have you managed to not blow your own fingers off, boy?” one of them asks, half-stern, half-wondering, and Tony turns to see him holding a gauntlet up and inspecting the repulsor.

“Hey, wait a-”

“Touch nothing without Stark’s permission,” Loki snaps in his declamatory I will be obeyed, puny creatures voice. Grabby Hands puts the repulsor down like it’s a Faberge Egg that’s burned him, and turns to Tony with one hand pressed flat against his heart, and gives a shallow bow from the waist.

“My sincerest apologies.”

“Yeah, fine, it’s fine, just - listen to what he said and we won’t have a problem.” Tony turns to give Loki a thumbs-up and mouths thank you at him, and Loki smiles and pushes the door open again.

“One last thing.” Loki waves a hand at Tony’s suit, and his tone takes on a note of disgust. “Don’t wear my brother’s colors.”

Tony flicks him a salute - much as he adores that hotrod red, he’s not wandering around looking like Thor’s groupie - and then turns back around to the smiths, rubbing his hands together. They’re all standing there waiting patiently for his orders, impressively better behaved than his bots ever were. Still, no fire extinguishers for you.

“Okay, boys,” he says, and grins. “Let’s get to work.”

~

Tony howls in pain as Loki’s fingers dig deep into the knot in his shoulder, and swings his other arm around to smack Loki in the side. “Would you not make it worse?”

Loki slaps him on the back of the head in return, and settles his weight more firmly across Tony’s lower back to pin him to the mattress. “If you would stop squirming while I’m trying to help you, you would not make it worse.”

Tony huffs into the pillow. “You’re so much nicer when you’re fixing me up after fucking me into pieces.”

“Well, I haven’t just spent all day locked in with Thor at those times, have I?” Loki’s voice is curt and cutting but Tony doesn’t miss the way his probing fingers lessen the pressure on Tony’s aching muscles. Just a little; he finds another knot and Tony shouts, and Loki slaps him again to shut him up. “Whatever did you do to yourself?”

“Asgardian armor is heavy,” Tony grumbles. “Can’t believe it’s not even metal.”

“If it were metal, it would be heavier,” Loki says unsympathetically. “You’ll be grateful for it soon enough.”

“Yeah, well, right now I’m still trying to wrap my head around fiber-reinforced ceramic that gets that heavy and whether that’s even what this stuff is, so you’ll have to wait a few days for that to start making sense, and then I’ll be grateful. Except then-” Loki digs at the knot again and Tony hisses as pain bursts out across his entire upper back. “Ow. Except then you’ll have to wait for the plasma cannons to start making sense, I thought this was a Ye Olde Renaissance we haven’t invented anything more badass than swords yet planet, not we bought everything we could find at the sci-fi emporium.”

Loki chuckles, pauses to spread more forest-scented oil across his palms and then starts massaging it slowly into Tony’s back. “My people value beauty and tradition, perhaps more than the comfort and security our crafts grant. Do not mistake us for archaic because we choose to conceal our technology with elegance. I think we are not so different to your world with a layer of gold leaf upon it.”

“Huh.” 

Loki starts rubbing oil into Tony’s arms. “And with eons of civilization before your race crawled out of the mud.”

Tony snorts. “For a moment there, that was almost really sweet.”

“Midgard is a young world,” Loki says, stroking down the outlines of Tony’s deltoids. “You will learn. Hrin tells me you’re a quicker study than any apprentice he’s had before.”

“Smith number one, yeah? That’s funny, because I remember that guy being completely appalled at my stupidity when twin pairing meant nothing to me.”

“It takes most scholars months to understand that,” Loki soothes him, hands slick with more oil as they return to his shoulders and work at the much-less-agonizing knot again. “Hrin thinks you will have it within the week.” He laughs softly and presses the heel of his hand into Tony’s shoulder, making him groan and melt bonelessly into the bed as the knot dissolves. “A single week. You did not tell me you possessed what must be the greatest mind on Midgard.”

“I’m a limited edition collectible,” Tony agrees smugly, and Loki laughs again and moves his hands to Tony’s neck. His fingers do something at the back of the collar to open it, and then he’s encouraging Tony to lift his head so he can pull the metal - or fiber-reinforced-ceramic - away, and lie it on the pillow. Loki carefully inspects the skin where it’s been sitting, fingertips gentle and thorough in their exploration.

“Has it pained you? Any discomfort?”

“Nope. Or, uh, maybe some, I’m not sure, you’d better keep looking.”

“Greedy pet,” Loki says, but slips into a fantastic neck massage anyway. “Still, I don’t want you stiff throughout dinner.”

The warning tone makes Tony go stiff all by itself. “I’m not going to like this, am I?”

~

“When you said dinner that ominously, I thought I was supposed to be the main course or something,” Tony mutters. “I can handle this.”

If there’s anything that Tony’s life as CEO and front man of Stark Industries prepared him for, it’s mingling successfully with people who hate his guts. Not that he knows what he did to piss off Thor’s friends the second Loki introduced him, but either he’s somehow already said or done something to personally offend them, or they’re repulsed by his sheer existence.

Well, the supermodel-stunning, and supermodel-up-herself, Lady Sif and the, weirdly, apparently Asian one, Hogun, are fitting that bill; Volstagg, the redhead built like a tank that’s let itself go, is completely ignoring Tony and everyone else in favor of working his way through every one of the dozens of platters on the table, and Fandral, the blond one who lost that fight to Thor after Loki sabotaged him, hasn’t yet stopped blatantly checking Tony out.

Tony deliberately meets Fandral’s eyes across the table, sits up straighter and rolls his shoulders in the extremely flattering Asgardian jacket - then arches his neck to flaunt his collar and makes a show of turning to Loki and leaning towards him way more than necessary to grab a plate of something in that direction. I’m so taken you can’t even get near me.

He sneaks a glance at Fandral while focusing on loading up his plate with little spiced bread things, but he’s not as hilariously devastated as Tony was hoping for. No, he looks like Tony’s challenging him to come on, planning his next strategy to get into Tony’s astonishingly comfortable leather pants.

This could get awkward really, really fast.

Loki’s snatched him up, yeah, but Tony’s clearly the type of guy willing to trade sex for favors or he wouldn’t be here in the first place; Loki’s near-total quiet attention to his meal is making it obvious that they’re not some whirlwind romance, and therefore Tony’s just a cunning slut. And a good one, or Loki wouldn’t be putting up with him.

And as near as Tony can figure, that’s all adding up to having some sign stuck to his head that reads come and get it. Fandral’s clearly trying already, and Thor strikes Tony as the type to mess around with his brother’s things, and it’s just possible that Sif and Hogun aren’t pissed at him, but at themselves for finding Loki’s lowly human so attractive. 

Because there were plenty of mirrors in Loki’s wardrobe, and Tony knows exactly what this outfit’s doing for him. 

He’ll have to ask Loki in private about what the protocol is here, no sense stepping on any toes that could kick him to pieces…

That, or he could take advantage of Loki’s possessiveness and let him rip Fandral’s head off for intruding on his blatantly marked territory.

Would it be considered foul play if Tony baited Fandral into trying something, just so he could watch Loki go after him?

Loki probably wouldn’t think so…

Fandral dives back into the loud conversation going on down that end of the table, Thor and Sif and Hogun plotting their assault on the bandits idiotic enough to band while Thor’s in charge, discussing reports of numbers and strength and taking bets on how many they can kill. They’re making it all sound like a fun day out, and while it’s not like they’re going off and slaughtering innocents, Asgard has an astonishingly bloody idea of justice.

At least when Tony kills his enemies, he doesn’t call it justice. 

He’s relieved that Loki’s silent, eyes on his plate and neatly picking meat off the bone with his fingers, ignoring everyone else like they’re beneath his notice. In the camp, he never once chatted with Tony about the glory of war or anything like that, and it’s plain he couldn’t be less interested in the idea of riding off and starting it up again. He looks cool and haughty and indifferent, and Tony knows that expression very, very well; at least on himself, it’s always hiding boredom. 

He shifts closer on the bench, and nudges Loki in the ribs with his elbow. It goes fantastically, since he manages to hit a patch of armor, but Loki glances in his direction anyway. “Hm?”

Tony points at Hogun, and then conceals the movement by smoothly picking up some round, peach-like fruit from a platter under his hand. “Where’s he from?”

“Hogun? Of Vanaheim,” Loki says, already more information than his extremely cursory introduction provided. “An enemy warrior persuaded to Thor’s side as I persuaded you.”

“What, did Thor fuck him six ways from Sunday too?”

Loki chuckles. “Fortunately for Hogun, he did not. No, Hogun and some comrades of his defeated Thor upon the field of battle. Unable to take such an insult, Thor demanded single combat with their leader, and won the next three rounds. Unable to leave well enough alone, he challenged Hogun to a fourth, which, since Hogun had saved his strength where Thor had not, Hogun won. Desperately trying to save face - remember, two armies were watching this duel - Thor declared he had won three rounds to two, and invited Hogun to join his personal band of warriors.”

“Huh,” Tony says, looking across at the Asian - Vanaheim - guy. “You’d think he would’ve told Thor to go fuck himself and pounded him into the ground again.”

“It is certainly what I would do if I could defeat my brother in honorable combat,” Loki agrees. “But Hogun loves nothing so much as the glory of battle, and those who care for such things will never find a more glorious battle than when they follow behind Thor.” He selects some slices of flame-grilled meat, and places two on Tony’s plate. “Try those. Why do you ask about Hogun?”

Tony shrugs, and takes a bite of the meat; slightly too bland for his tastes, but the charred edges are done to perfection. “Wondering why you guys look so much like humans, down to having Asians.”

“Asians?”

“Asia’s a continent on Earth, or - what do you call it? Midgard. Earthgard, that’s got a nice ring to it. No, Middle Earth. Heh. Anyway, Asia’s part of it, and the people there - well, some of the people there - look like him. And then you look just like me - sort of - and that tall guy at the end of the Rainbow Plank-”

Loki coughs on his mouthful of wine. “Plank?

“What? It’s not like it goes anywhere, it just hangs there over the water like Oooh, look at me, I’m a giant shiny plank! Anyway. The guy who was there when we showed up, he looks African. Parts-of-Africa-n. That’s another continent. I mean, we’ve known all along that you look like us but prettier, but we were too preoccupied with killing you to care about how that works, once we worked out that you don’t die like humans do. So, asking now, are we secretly cousins?”

“Certainly not,” Loki says instantly. 

“That’s good.”

“As for the rest…” Loki rolls his lip between his teeth for a moment before reaching across the table, snagging a lit candle and placing it between their plates. He gives Tony a warning glance. “Lean back.”

Okay… Tony shuffles a few inches away, takes another bite of anonymous meat, and watches Loki wave a hand over the flame.

Watches it spring upwards and outwards, flaring as high as their heads. 

Volstagg shouts something and jerks back from reaching for a platter, and Loki replies, silky and cutting, but Tony can’t tear his eyes away from the flame; the bright, wide burst is settling, the column splitting apart and curling into distinct shapes, round globes of fire hanging above the candle and slowly circling through the air. He can feel the warmth on his face, stretches out a hand to touch one and can’t get close before the heat drives him back; it’s real, but he can’t explain what the hell it is

“How…”

“A simple trick,” Loki says. “The fire burns where there is fuel; move the fuel, and the fire will follow.”

“That’s not what I meant. How are you doing that?

At Loki’s utter silence, Tony glances away from the flames; Loki looks back, expression cool and composed and almost hiding the vulnerable wariness in his eyes. “What?”

Loki hesitates before he answers. “It’s magic.”

“It’s what?”

“Magic. I have…” Loki lifts his hand between them, opens his palm flat, and tiny blue lights rise up from his skin, flickering and swirling like fireflies.

The lights drift over Loki’s palm, rippling as if stirred by a breeze, blue points drifting like glowing mist. There’s nothing apparently controlling them, no projector tucked down Loki’s shirt, no cybernetic implants that Tony knows of - and Loki’s not the type to lie about this, not to Tony. If he says magic, then there’s nothing but that to explain what he’s doing, summoning light out of thin air and bending it to his will. 

Beautiful.

Tony reaches out and takes Loki’s hand in his, cupping the back of it; Loki’s skin is warm, his hand steady where it rests against Tony’s. Tony lifts gently, raising their hands and the blue lights higher, just to see them move. 

He had no idea this was within his reach. There’s so much more here than he ever thought, he could spend a hundred years studying this place and not get close to understanding everything; he really has to start from scratch, and anything he thinks is impossible just might not be.

Tony glances up at Loki, Loki who can do this, at the high arches of his cheekbones and the sharp lines of his jaw, pale green eyes saying a hundred different things at once, and catches himself thinking it again.

Beautiful.

The next second he catches them practically holding hands, and Tony pulls back and scrubs his palm over his face. “That is…”

Loki’s voice is softly amused. “You’ve forgotten your question, haven’t you.”

“No, I like the fireballs too, but - did you make those the same color as my reactor on purpose?”

Loki flexes his palm, fingers arching back, and the lights rise up and drift towards Tony’s chest. “The energy is there. I merely moved it slightly.”

Tony looks down at himself, twists away from the table and pulls his shirt open to watch the pinpricks of light sink through the glass of the reactor’s cover, and the minuscule increase in the brightness of the glow as they enter. Re-enter. “Did you mess with…”

“Only the light,” Loki assures him. “Harmless. I touched nothing else, I swear it.”

The last one slips back in, and then Tony’s just looking at the completely normal sight of his own chest, somewhat creepily since he’s in the middle of a public dinner, even if nobody but the person he’s slept with more times than any other is the only one paying Tony any attention. He closes his shirt again, pulling the laces tight, and turns back to Loki, who’s waiting with a tentative smile on his face. 

“Wow. That was… I suppose I can’t read any books about magic, either.”  Mental manipulation of energy and matter, it shouldn’t be possible but Tony saw it, it was real and Loki can do it - there’s got to be something behind it, something in the laws of physics that explains it, if Tony could just find out what… Maybe the laws of physics operate differently on Asgard, or maybe Loki’s exploiting some law that Earth hasn’t worked out yet… 

How are you possible?

Loki shakes his head. “You cannot. And I have been told very often that I am a poor teacher. But one day I will introduce you to the woman who taught me.”

Tony looks back at the balls of flame, perfectly spherical like tiny suns, connected by thin filaments of light, still hanging freely in the air above the single candle. “I’d like that. I’d like that - a lot. Can one day be really, really soon?”

Loki chuckles. “She’ll have you slaving at your studies for weeks before she lets you return to other pursuits alongside magic. I’m not ready to give you up yet, and I don’t think you’re willing to abandon your smithy after one day.”

“Not really.”

“Very well. Then, for now… This is Yggdrasil.” Loki traces the outline of the branched shape linking the balls to each other. “The Worlds Tree. Upon it sit the Nine Realms.” He reaches out to one of the balls and cups his hand beneath it; he raises his hand gently, and the ball floats upward, maintaining the gap between it and Loki’s skin. That’s real fire and he’s not even blistering. 

“Asgard.” 

The ball flattens at the edges and compresses into a rough disc, a spire in the center reaching upwards, surrounded by the low angles of a model city, and what looks like a mountain on the bottom side. Around the circumference, the flame ripples like water, like the oceans Tony saw when they arrived…

Aw, fuck, please don’t tell me Asgard is flat.

Loki drops his hand and the fire-Asgard stays where he left it, and he moves to the one immediately below it. “Alfheim.”

This one stays spherical, growing mountain ranges emerging from seas, and starts glowing brighter than the others.

“Vanaheim.”

The next one down, but mostly to the side, and the flame of that one tinges itself slightly green, and forms into thick forest, covered in tiny points of trees. “Where Hogun is from. He has the look of his people, as do those of your race you call Asians.”

“Yeah, but how-”

“Midgard is here,” Loki says, raising a perfect fireball copy of Earth; Tony can see the outlines of the Americas on the side facing him, coasts sharp, cities glowing points of white light, the mountain ranges above flat plains and forests. “You see that it sits near the center of the Tree, close to all the realms. It draws… influences, shall we say, from them all. Thus your world and your people resemble many across the realms. Some more so than others; I saw no blue soldiers in your army.”

“Blue,” Tony repeats flatly. “I think we’d have noticed those.”

“Well. Jotunheim is down here.” Loki cups the second-lowest globe, and it turns a dark blue, surface jagged. “A world of ice and cold, peopled by the frost giants. It is no loss that your world has none of their blood.”

“And that’s where your dad is right now?”

“Yes. Marching with our armies to answer the invasion of our borders in Thor’s absence. We would all be there, but for being included in Thor’s punishment. He took our best men to Midgard with him, and thus they were not here to defend Asgard when the Jotuns entered, a lapse of judgment Father finds ill-becoming of Asgard’s future king.” 

“Huh,” Tony says, and eyes the diagram again, the five defined worlds sharp models, the other four blank balls waiting for Loki to name them. It’s an interesting account for why Earth’s got some of everything: not because planets are complicated ecosystems, but because Earth’s stealing bits from everybody else’s nice, neat, consistent planets. 

He scowls at the flattened disc of Asgard. “I see you guys are right at the top where you belong.”

“Not necessarily. The Allfather would have us believe that, and you may be sure that Thor does, but my mother taught me that the Tree grows as it will.” Loki lifts a hand and curls his fingers, and the flames swirl in answer, the filaments between the globes bending and swaying as if in a high breeze, the worlds shifting until Asgard’s somewhere in the middle and Vanaheim is sharing the top spot with a still-blank one. Loki grins, and twists the model again, shoving Asgard down the bottom just above Jotunheim and raising Earth to the apex. “There.”

I knew he wasn’t a completely entitled prick. Tony reaches out to one of the blank balls, carefully with the heat pouring off the real fire. “What’s this one?”

“Svartalfheim,” Loki says, and the ball goes a dusty gray, smooth and uniform. “Dead.”

“Dead?” Tony stares at the dark flame, even duller than Jotunheim. “It’s still on your map, it must be- How do you kill a planet?”

“The people died,” Loki says. “The dark elves. My father’s father Borr slaughtered them all, as warrior kings do.” His lips twist bitterly. “Their rebellion was over, with no chance for victory, and still he chose to wipe out their entire race.” His eyes meet Tony’s, something burning hot behind them. “The dark elves had craftsmen beyond compare. Artisans and smiths and healers like none have been before or since. You would have loved to study under them. They could hide their vessels completely from the naked eye and pass any man unseen. They had knives that could cut through rock as if it were water. They had true maps of the paths of Yggdrasil and the movements of the realms themselves.” He sighs, and just looks at the gray globe, yearning. “All that learning lost because Borr was too arrogant to show some common mercy.”

Tony’s eyes narrow. “If it’s all so lost, how do you know what they knew?”

“Clever, Stark.” Loki turns back to him and grins, and idly traces a hand over the seams of Tony’s jacket. “Perhaps not all of it is quite lost. A few books may have survived the burning of the libraries, some relics missed by Borr’s thieving hands. Perhaps these things have been found and put to some use again.”

So it’s not just Asgard I have to play with, there’s S-something-heim, all these others…

God, Loki is… Loki is a gift

Loki’s finger slides down Tony’s chest and slips away. “Besides, the dead are pleasant company. Far more so than this lot and their feasts.” He jerks his head towards the rest of the table, the five other Asgardians thoroughly engrossed in detailing to each other exactly how they mean to surprise the bandits and making no attempt to include Loki or Tony in the discussion, for which Tony is equal parts peeved and grateful. He prefers having the chance to turn people down. 

“But now I have you to entertain me.” Loki smiles, and curls his arm around Tony’s back and tugs him across the bench to press into Loki’s side. The fingers of his other hand run through Tony’s hair, and his foot slides up the side of Tony’s calf. “Yes?”

Interest flickers in Tony’s groin. “Haven’t you noticed by now?”

Loki laughs, and extinguishes the flame model with another wave of his hand, sending thin smoke billowing up in nine little clouds. He shoves the bench back from the table, and swings himself across to straddle Tony’s thighs, arms thrown over his shoulders and around his neck. “I certainly have.”

He settles his hips against Tony’s, and bends his neck to kiss him.

Tony wraps his arms around Loki’s trim, tight waist and kisses him back. It’s slow and deep, Loki’s lips spiced with wine and savory meat, his hand slipping down to press between Tony’s shoulderblades and keep him still. Loki’s a heavy weight in Tony’s lap, Tony’s skin tingling under the collar and cuffs, and Loki’s lips are warm and smooth and his folded legs are tucked alongside Tony’s, caging him in. Loki’s rolling his hips forward in long arcs, his cock hardening behind the leather as he rubs against Tony’s stomach, and Tony dares to pull Loki down for some pressure where he needs it, the cock cage just tight enough for him to feel his throbbing pulse magnified. Loki breaks their lips apart for a single breath, cupping Tony’s neck with a warm hand and steering his head for Loki to kiss him again, Loki leaning over him and Tony with his head tilted back, throat exposed above the collar, opening himself to Loki’s mouth and the firm, claiming sweep of tongue between Tony’s lips. 

Slow, and deep, and Tony’s eyes have fallen shut and all he can feel is Loki around him, over him, on him and sending shimmering waves through his body, arousal banked low but the sensations alive and glittering, and it’s delicious. Tony hasn’t just sat and kissed someone, kissed for the sake of kissing, since - maybe never, and with Loki right here like this, he can’t think why. Tony slides a hand inside Loki’s leather coat and runs it up his chest, feeling the heat and the muscle just under that thin layer of fabric - then more leather and metal, but then fabric again, and Loki’s rhythm hitches and he thrusts against Tony’s stomach when Tony finds the places Loki can feel his touch. 

Glorious and beautiful and mine.

Tony sweeps his hand over Loki’s cheek before he breaks the kiss gently, inhaling a long breath and tightening his arms around Loki’s waist. “Maybe you’d like to blow this joint and take me somewhere private?”

“Maybe I’d like to throw you across this table and take you now.”

Tony flicks a glance at the other Asgardians, now using a cleared platter as a battlefield and marching little armies of cut vegetables across it. “I like my audiences a bit more enthusiastic than completely ignoring me. I’m too good to waste on them.”

Loki grins. “Far too good.”

He slides fluidly off Tony’s thighs and stands, holding out a hand to pull Tony to his feet, and calls to Thor over his shoulder. “Goodnight, brother. Enjoy yourself tomorrow.”

Thor looks up from Sif’s proposed flanking maneuver, takes one glance between Tony and Loki, and waves them away with a laugh. “Enjoy yourself tonight, Loki! I’ll see you when I return, if you can pry yourself off him for long enough.”

Loki smirks, wraps a hand around Tony’s forearm and all-but drags him from the room. 

“He’s going somewhere?” Tony asks as soon as they’re in the corridor outside.

Out of sight, Loki moves his hand to gently take possession of Tony’s cuffed wrist. “They are so engrossed in their plans because they mean to ride tomorrow. I am to remain here to pretend that the palace has defenders.” 

Tony ignores for the moment the more serious implications of that, and grins and sways over to press his side against Loki’s, and teases his free hand inside Loki’s jacket again. “So, no duties? No summons? No invitations to dinner where they don’t want you there anyway? Whatever are we going to do without Captain Asgard’s demands on your time?”

Loki pushes him in the ribs. “Contain yourself. Thor doesn’t leave until morning. But, when he does, we’ll have a few days to ourselves.” Loki grins back. “I may have some ideas for what to do with you.”

Chapter Text

Tony is going to get his ass punished.

He’s followed every one of Loki’s orders so far, in the three days he’s been on Asgard, if not precisely to the letter then certainly getting the job done by the end. Suck me, Loki says, and Tony’s on his knees and swallowing Loki down - not without a little sass, a little backtalk, waiting for Loki’s hand pulling him in by his hair, maybe a forbidden touch or five to his own cock, but it always ends with Loki coming down Tony’s throat, or on his face, and Tony hard and unsatisfied, the cage cutting in, waiting for Loki’s hand stroking him off to let him come. Strip, Loki says, and that one Tony obeys, giving up everything inch by inch until he’s naked on his back, legs spread wide; Loki rewards him with those slow, exhilarating kisses, with gentle, thorough slicking and fingering before fucking him, lovely long hands caressing Tony’s arms where they’re chained to the headboard. Your armor is all Loki needs to say for Tony to spend hours in the workshop with his three assistants, piecing Asgardian materials and tech into his rebuilt suit; and every so often he looks over his shoulder at Loki, perched on an empty table watching Tony work, and offers to show his very, very deep gratitude. 

Learn how to pilot this flying boat thing, Loki said yesterday in fancier words, and took Tony out on a day-long trip, soaring over the countryside and the oceans and up mountains, Tony’s head spinning with the rush of something new to drive, the speed the boat could go at, the responsiveness of the controls - and Loki’s teasing attempts to make him crash by sucking at Tony’s cock through the leather of his pants. Then Loki navigated them down to a quiet, secluded curve of beach, spread his cloak out across the sand and spread Tony out on top of it, and did an absolutely wicked job of rimming him until he screamed. Practically a date, the mood light and fun and adventurous, Tony learning to fly the boat until Loki was satisfied he could do it on his own - one day perhaps you’ll try to ‘escape’, and I want a challenge before I succeed in hunting you down, Loki said, as if it wasn’t totally obvious that he was just pleased to be teaching Tony new things to watch him show off.

Something approaching friendship, a ceasefire in their games of power, that was yesterday.

Time to mix it up.

Today, Tony plans to be sullen. Openly disobedient. Disrespectful, that’ll get Loki’s perfect princely back up. To misbehave and question and absolutely not give in gracefully, and make Loki put him back in his place with more than sharp-smiled orders and a tender hand through his hair. He knows how Loki treats his smart-mouthed but ultimately submitted pet; now he wants to see what Loki does with real defiance.

Just not that much real defiance, because Tony already tested that on Earth and the highly welcome answer is that Loki backs off. Tony’s not actually saying no here - he’s saying make me, and hoping Loki will give him the discipline he so obviously needs.

He could just tell Loki he wants to try a more hardcore scene, but where’s the fun in that? He and Loki don’t negotiate, they manipulate each other into what they want; if Tony wants punishment, he’s going to have to earn it. 

So: “Give me a massage, my prize,” Loki says, and languidly pulls his shirt over his head, baring the vast stretches of lean muscle and pale skin of his back.

“Yeah, how about no.”

Loki stops at his insolent tone, shirt hanging from one hand, and slowly turns around to face him, expression icy. “What did you say?” He takes two steps closer, head tilting in what could be curiosity or aggression. “I wish it. When did that cease to be good enough for you?”

Tony folds his arms and juts his chin out, belligerent and stubborn. “Reluctant Captive Tony signed on to get fucked in exchange for nobody dying. You want to fuck me, fine, that’s in the contract, but I don’t recall massages getting negotiated in there.”

Reluctant, Loki mouths silently, and lifts an eyebrow. You?

Tony holds back a snigger, because this isn’t going anywhere if he’s laughing too hard. “That’s what I said. I’m still a prisoner here and I don’t like you and the only thing I’m here for is that promise you made that it was either Earth’s ass or mine.”

“Ahh. I see.” Loki smirks briefly, posture shifting from uncertain to haughty conqueror. Game on. “You would rather suffer as my hostage than serve as my sweet thrall?”

“For now.” Tony grins. “I’m sure you can think of some way to convince me that cooperating’s in my best interests. But until you do….” With a bit of effort, he wipes the smile off his face and sinks back into his surly, totally-not-interested-in-Loki role. “I’m not giving you anything you don’t take.”

“Strip and kneel.”

The whip-crack order has Tony reaching for his shirt before he remembers what he’s supposed to be doing here, and converts the movement oh-so-smoothly into refolding his arms the other way. “Yeah, I’m not up for a free show.”

Loki chuckles darkly, slipping straight into character, clasps his hands behind his back and starts pacing in a slow circle around Tony, obviously the one with all the power despite being half-naked, his gaze trailing up and down Tony’s body with unmistakable intent to make him uncomfortable with the attention. It doesn’t work but Tony shifts his weight nervously anyway, and keeps his eyes on the wall straight ahead. 

“You’re a fool if you think this will end well for you,” Loki says conversationally. “Defy me and I can make this very uncomfortable. But you’re wise enough to know that if you please me beyond the boundaries of our deal, I may return the favor.” Loki’s boots whisper against the marble. “Would you like an afternoon’s freedom to see beyond my chambers? Perhaps a tour of Asgard’s smithies, I remember how miserable you were to lose your work when I took you. Or…”

Even with his eyes turned away, Tony can’t miss the hungry grin as Loki prowls forward and cups him through his pants. “Perhaps I’ll finally let you come.”

Tony slaps Loki’s hand away - it earns him a flash of absolute fury that might have given him second thoughts, if he wasn’t more attracted to danger than anything else. “You think I want to come?  With you? I don’t want anything you have to offer that isn’t about Earth. So long as you don’t go back, you get to fuck me, fine, but I’m never going to want the guy who led the invasion of my planet.”

Loki seizes Tony’s shoulder, spins him around and kicks him hard in the back of the knee, sending him sprawling to the floor. Tony grunts in pain and curls up on himself to escape more, and watches Loki’s boots pace across the floor in front of his face. 

“So Earth is all you care about?” Loki asks. “I cannot persuade you to take some comfort and pleasure for yourself?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Well, then, I have another proposition for you.” 

Tony laughs scornfully. “Give it up. You won’t get anything from me, Asgardian.”

“Won’t I?” Loki lilts, and sets a foot in Tony’s back to hold him to the floor. “Perhaps you should know exactly what’s happening here. I set my eye upon Midgard and they offered you to appease me in their place. I had best stay pleased with you - you had best please me - or I shall return there and conquer them utterly.”

Tony makes himself sound angry and threatening. “You leave them the hell alone!”

“Then spread your legs, or Midgard burns.”

Tony snarls into the marble, but shoves his legs apart and leaves them there without Loki physically enforcing it. “I hate you, you bastard, we had a deal-”

“And I want more than that deal gave me. So I have a new deal - serve your master, Stark, and your world will be spared the slaughter of my armies.”

“You sonofabitch-”

Something hard and narrow cracks across Tony’s ass, leaving a searing slash of pain, and he shouts and bucks under Loki’s foot. He hears the thin swish of whatever it is that Loki whipped him with - is that a cane, you’ve got to be kidding me - and Loki steps away, tapping the thing against his palm.

“I like your tongue where it is, but if you speak so disgustingly of my mother again I will have it cut from your head.”

Tony’s ass is on fire, but he’s not stupid enough to rub it, pressing his hands flat to the floor instead. “Yeah? See if I care. Won’t have to suck you if you do.”

“Ah, but then what reason will I have not to ensure that your homeland is the first to fall to my rule? You need every art at your command. I would not throw them away lightly if I were you.”

The tip of the cane taps at the collar around Tony’s neck. “I own you, never forget that. I hold your world in the palm of my hand and I can crush it whenever I wish. Give me something better, Stark.” Loki trails the cane down Tony’s spine. “Convince me I would rather have you than Midgard.”

Compliant, not defeated, Tony grits his teeth. “What do you want?”

The cane prods him in the buttock. “Will I need this for you to give it to me?”

Tony swallows, considering - he did want intense and that thing is glorious - but it also really hurts and if Earth were on the line, he wouldn’t be messing around. “No. I’ll… I’ll do it.”

“Good.” 

Then Loki whips him again, exactly where the last stroke fell and Tony howls as the pain explodes, bright and hot and flaring through his entire body. Distantly he hears Loki laugh and the cane hissing through the air, then hitting the wall and clattering to the floor.

“Strip, and kneel.”

Tony’s already shaking - not much, but he doesn’t bother hiding it as he pushes himself upright, ass protesting with every heartbeat. Loki stands there and watches him, imperious and eyes cold, as Tony shrugs out of the layers of leather and fabric and more leather, movements short and angry, ripping at the laces holding his shirt shut and shoving his pants down his legs. He keeps his eyes fixed on Loki - obedient, yeah, but defiant until Loki forbids that too - as he strips himself naked, and then folds his arms across his chest and gracelessly drops to his knees.

“Now what?”

The position makes the rough outsides of his cuffs dig into his forearms and thighs, and Tony sets his jaw; he’s not weakening now, not before Loki makes him. Loki sees it like he sees everything else, and smiles, running the toe of his boot along Tony’s bare leg as he paces in a tight circle around him. From down here Loki looks even taller, slim lines of his body pulling Tony’s eyes up. 

Loki tuts and that’s all the warning Tony gets before Loki smacks him across the face. “Bow your head, cur.”

Tony does, cheek throbbing, and waits. The pain’s glowing, his nerves alight with adrenaline, and it feels good to be able to take what Loki can dish out. Pain’s never been an obstacle to Tony getting what he’s after, and right now it’s proof that he can be everything Loki wants out of this.

Because behind his tight leather pants, it’s obvious that Loki’s already hard.

Blood’s rushing through Tony’s body and his cock is no exception, pulse trapped inside the cage and beating against the metal, and use and humiliation are burning hot and thrilling behind his eyes. Exactly what he wanted.

“So you can follow orders,” Loki says, fingertips tracing the lines of Tony’s bent neck; it’s so close to the affection he usually shows that warm shivers go down Tony’s spine and his first instinct is to melt into Loki’s hand. 

Not today.

“Never said I couldn’t.”

“You simply won’t without the proper incentive.” Loki pats Tony’s cheek mockingly. “It doesn’t have to be this way, you do know that, don’t you? Let me be kind to you and I will.”

Tony snarls. “I don’t want your kindness, got that yet? I want you to beat me up instead of Earth.”

Come on, I can take it!

Loki twists his fingers in Tony’s hair and pulls. “We’ll see about that.”

His hand disappears and, still staring at the floor between his knees, Tony hears fabric shifting and metal hitting leather as Loki finishes undressing himself, quiet thumps as he drops his clothes around his feet. Each sound makes Tony twitch, knowing it’s bringing them closer to whatever Loki’s planning next, and having no clue what that is, only that it’s going to hurt and that - by the end - it’ll be in the good way.

Tony hears the soft scrape of a chair against the floor as Loki seats himself somewhere behind Tony’s back, and then a small glass vial thunks down in the pile of Tony’s clothes, tossed over Tony’s shoulder. “Open yourself.”

Loki’s feeling impatient today, giving Tony lube instead of making him go get some himself as Loki lies there smirking and pretending to be bored, the way he normally does. Tony leans forward and fishes out the vial of oil, uncaps it, and pours some over his fingers.

“Don’t be sparing with it,” Loki murmurs from behind him. “I have every intention of making sure you need each drop.”

Tony shudders with the heat rolling up from his groin, and barely manages to get the words out. “As you wish, my king.”

Loki’s shaken inhale is suddenly completely real. “Oh, Stark, don’t you dare…” His voice drops, even colder than before, the second of vulnerability crushed. “Your flattery won’t save you. Fuck yourself on your fingers, captive. Open yourself for your king.”

Tony obeys, slick fingers reaching up between his thighs, and bends himself over until his cheek is pressed to the floor to give Loki the best view. He starts to massage the tight pucker, spreading the oil, and Loki’s breath hisses sharply at the sight.

Tony grins into the floor as he presses his cheek down, lifting his ass a little higher, and pushes the first finger in before he’s entirely ready for it. It feels thick and solid, and the cuff around his wrist scrapes at his cock and balls, making him gasp and clench around his finger. He’s hard, has been since he doesn’t know when; his cock twitches, straining at the cage, as he edges a second finger into his ass and starts to properly stretch himself. 

Loki gives a soft laugh. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

Tony rolls his hips, can’t help it, but matches it with a derisive sneer. “Yeah, if you believe that, there’s this bridge I’d like to sell you. You wanted a show, you got one, that’s it.”

“Lie to me all you wish, it won’t change anything. You just can’t help yourself. Hostage, prisoner, in chains and on your knees, and you want this.”

“Shut up,” Tony grunts, plunging his fingers deep and working himself loose. He pulls his hand back to apply more oil and pumps it into himself, skin slick and tingling, thrilling with anticipation. 

Loki chuckles. “Speak so disrespectfully again, and you’ll feel my whip.”

“Oh, that’s great, really. Threatening Earth’s not enough, you’ve got to throw me on the line too?”

“Very well. I’ll spare your back, and kill ten of your people instead.”

Tony shudders and for a second it’s too much, too close to real, the idea that people could die if he screws up here - but the cuff brushes his cock again, the cuff Loki set on his wrist so reverently, that intense moment they shared as he placed his mark on Tony and Tony held his hands out to receive it. This is just as much a game as any of the rest of it, and he could stand up right now and call it quits and this whole scene would end.

And because he can, he doesn’t.

“That’s not what I-”

“Not what you wanted? How unfortunate. It’s what you asked for.”

“And you choose now to start listening to me-”

The cane cracks across his shoulderblades and Tony shouts, jerking forward and slamming both hands to the floor. The throbbing line fades slowly, so slowly, searing with every beat of his pounding heart. Loki’s bare feet pace in front of Tony’s eyes, long end of the cane - something thin and black, a riding crop without the softness - tapping his leg. “That was a warning, slave.”

He digs the point of the cane into Tony’s cheek. “Know your place.”

Tony lets his eyes flutter shut. “Beneath you.”

“And if you’re clever, you’ll start believing that.” Loki swishes the cane away again.

Then he grabs Tony by the collar and hauls him to his feet, and Tony staggers to catch his balance, stretched ass twitching around nothing. Loki manhandles him over to another section of floor, this one nearer the fire with a plush fur rug spread out over the marble, and shoves him down again, brutal and heartless - except for the way he took care to move this to the only rug in here.

Tony swallows and stays there without moving, not about to guess what Loki wants and risk guessing wrong. Loki just prods him into place with his foot - on his knees, face pressed to the floor, hands behind his back, and there’s a whirring, metallic click from his cuffs and when he tugs at his hands, they’re stuck. Bound together. 

“I’m tempted to gag you,” Loki says as he kneels down between Tony’s spread legs and settles his hands on Tony’s ass, touch lighting up the marks left by the cane. “But I’d rather hear you when you break and beg for your pleasure.”

“I don’t want-”

“You will.”

Loki pries him open and then the dripping head of his cock nudges Tony’s rim. “Midgard will never be safe if you refuse me,” he says, cock just resting there, rubbing precome over Tony’s skin. “Defy me and I will destroy them utterly, and then I will have you in the ashes.”

Tony twists his cuffed wrists. “Then do it.”

“Do what?”

He grits his teeth and liquid heat floods his stomach. “Please fuck me, my king.”

Loki breathes a laugh. “That’s more like it.”

Tony’s braced for a punishingly hard and fast plunge inside him, and it jars him when Loki instead slides in slow, a long push inch by inch, hands wrapping Tony’s hips just enough to hold him still. Letting him feel every moment, every single point of contact between them, and making sure he can’t block it out with the pain. 

“See how much better it is when you’re good for me?” Loki strokes his fingers over Tony’s hips as he draws back out, gentle and smooth - he might have found the dropped bottle of oil and slicked himself too. “I can make you obey or I can reward you for it. Your choice.”

The welts across Tony’s back and ass have settled into lines of heat, the sting sinking deep and spreading under his skin, tantalizing and radiating sensation through his body, meeting rising arousal and driving it higher. “First one.”

Loki pushes back inside him and stays there, thick and hot, unlocks Tony’s cuffs and locks them again with his hands under him, lying against the floor, leaving his back unprotected. The end of the cane trails down his spine. 

“Good choice.”

Loki strikes Tony’s shoulder, a blossom of pain echoed in his back and ass; all Tony’s muscles jerk and Loki moans as Tony clenches down on his cock. Loki grips Tony’s hip with his free hand and swings the cane with the other, a warning hiss through the air before it lands diagonally across Tony’s ribs. Tony clenches again by pure reflex and Loki groans delighted pleasure and thrusts deeper into him, splitting Tony open until his spasms are milking Loki’s entire length. The blows keep coming, sharp lines drawn in fire across Tony’s back - and a sudden, agonizing one to the front of his thigh that has him shouting out.

“Had enough?”

Tony’s cuffs part for Loki to bind his hands behind his back again, leaving his arms rubbing the throbbing marks left by the cane. Tony can feel them bruising underneath, tender and swollen.

And then Loki finally starts fucking him properly and all the pain just disappears under the flood of arousal crashing up from Tony’s cock. Loki’s targeting his prostate like a master and spiking him with a glittering high, hips slamming into Tony’s ass and making the marks flare, driving him higher. Tony’s cock is pounding desperately in its cage, swinging heavy between his spread thighs, flung forward with every hard thrust from Loki. Tony’s gasping for breath, little “Ah, ah, ah,” sounds in his ears, struggling against his restraints because he needs to get a hand to his cock. He’s so strung that it feels like one good stroke will send him over the edge, that’s how fast Loki can take him there, pleasure sudden and overwhelming and god, so good-

“Pliant in the end,” Loki says, and his nails rake four stinging lines down Tony’s back, ripping through the marks of the caning. “I knew you would be. You can’t help yourself, can you? Loathe me all you will, but you want this.”

“Yes, yes, I want it-”

“And I can make you want me,” Loki promises like a threat, low and curling in Tony’s ear. “What will you do for your release? Beg me? Worship me? Crawl at my feet? You will do all these things and more before I let you spill, and you’ll be so desperate to please me that you’ll have forgotten why. No matter how you fight me, you will always yield.”

He fucks heat into Tony’s body, surging through him like a firestorm. Sweat’s springing up on Tony’s skin, stinging in his wounds and at the corners of his eyes. Loki seizes his bound hands and uses them to pull Tony back onto his cock, hard and jarring his shoulders in their sockets.

Loki fingers Tony’s cock, straining and trapped in the cage, Loki’s touch sending whirling fireworks through his blood. “Beg me,” Loki orders, and, softer, “Worship me,” and softer still, so soft it’s almost lost in the pounding sensations crashing through Tony’s body-

“Love me.”

Tony screams as his orgasm’s cut in half by the cage, brutal and gut-wrenching like a sucker punch, and doubles in on himself to escape the churning, blissful agony in his groin. “God, please!”

“No."

Tony bucks wildly into Loki’s hand, shoulders twisted and arms strained as Loki pulls back on them, but the pain’s distant compared to the need and the want and oh, god, he has to come, it’s all building up and it has to go somewhere- “Loki!”

No,” Loki repeats, and his hand comes away from Tony’s cock and instead presses his head down to the rug, strands of fur sticking to his sweaty skin. “I took you for my pleasure, isn’t that what you said? Pleasure in only the most carnal of senses. If you will not have my kindness you will do nothing but sate my lusts instead.”

His hand crushes Tony’s head to the floor and Tony shouts in pain as Loki leans down over him. 

Nothing,” he hisses venomously in Tony’s ear, and then both his hands are on Tony’s hips and holding him motionless for that thick cock to take its privilege, plunging in hard and deep, Loki fucking him with all the harsh, brutal strength at his command. Tony’s helpless in his grip, burning and ruined, humiliated tears streaming down his face…

And he hits the rock-solid, stable bottom where there’s nowhere lower to sink.

A nameless prisoner taken and used, paying the price for his actions; that’s all he is and all he needs to be in this moment. He’s perfect in his complete deconstruction, falling apart until only the unbreakable core of him remains, so deep down he can’t even reach it to pull himself back up. There’s nothing left but the hole Loki’s fucking, bound wrists and trickling blood, and if that’s all that Loki wants then he’s everything.

He’s panting, “Yes, yes, yes,” with every breath that Loki’s thrusts force out of his lungs, begging to be used, to be taken, to be Loki’s - and he hears Loki shout and fingers dig into his hips, and Loki’s rhythm stutters as he comes, flooding Tony with it, a few last hard thrusts to pump it deeper into him. He can feel it sinking into his skin like ink, marking him as Loki’s from the inside out, and it makes his entire body flush and his cock pulsate against the cage, struggling to come while he can still feel Loki wet and pooling inside him.

“Please,” he chokes, “god, please, my king-”

“No,” Loki whispers, and pulls out slowly and carefully, the first mercy he’s shown in what must be hours. Tony sobs in denial and writhes at the gaping emptiness inside him, rim fluttering and so stretched it can’t even close, muscles twitching weakly and flicking pain up his spine. “Nothing but my pleasure, that was our bargain. Unless you wish me to change it…?”

“Yes, yes, yes, please, I need - need to come, I need it, I don’t care about-”

“You’ll do as I wish? You’ll obey, and kneel, and take the gifts I offer you?”

“Everything,” Tony gasps, struggling against the cuffs around his wrists, if he could only touch himself… “Everything you want, just let me come!”

“Kiss me.”

It takes a second for the command to filter through Tony’s fucked-mindless brain, but when it does he manages to straighten up and shuffle in a circle on his knees to face Loki.

He’s flushed red, defined chest gleaming with sweat, long hair falling forward around his face. His eyes are black with lust and hunger, high cheekbones knife-sharp, pulse leaping in his throat, and his thin lips are slightly parted and for the briefest instant his tongue flickers out to wet them, leaving a sheen of moisture in the firelight. He’s beautiful and majestic and right now, Tony would do anything he asked. 

He stretches up, clumsy and aching, and brushes their lips together before slipping away again, shaking too much to keep the contact. But he’s back before Loki can say anything, and presses his lips to his king’s. 

Loki slides a hand into his hair and guides him in, light and soft and kind. “Good, Tony,” he whispers, and Tony breathes in Loki’s words instead of air, all he needs. His head’s pulled down to Loki’s shoulder, his body collapsing against Loki’s, and the hand in his hair and the arm coming around his back hold him still and stable. “You’re so good for me. You always are, you break for me so beautifully…” Loki kisses Tony’s temple, his cheekbone, his closed eye. “I will never be without you again.”

Tony can hear warmth and sincerity in Loki’s voice, and he shudders and presses himself closer into that firm chest holding him up. “You’re pleased?”

“Entirely ensnared, my prize. I would lay Asgard at your feet just to see you on your knees.”

“Then let me - let me…”

“Oh, my Tony, I have been cruel to you,” Loki murmurs, soothing, and his hand tightens in Tony’s hair just enough to let him know he’s still there. “Of course. Come here.”

Loki bends him over again, face pressed to the rug, and then something metal and slick nudges at his stinging hole.

“There, now, don’t lose it,” Loki says, and Tony feels a finger swipe across his inner thighs, between his cheeks, and then push the spilled come back inside him. The plug’s slid in after it a moment later, smooth and cool and comfortable, easing the burning stretch. Loki settles it and then sweeps his hands across Tony’s lower back.

“Look at you, filled and marked and only craving more…”

“Loki, please, I need it now-”

Then Loki’s arms are reaching around him from behind, his touch loosening the metal bands of the cock cage as he strokes it and Tony, his hand firm and slick with oil, and the smooth, tight slides draw the pressure down, down-

Tony comes on a cry of bliss and desperation and Loki, and collapses into Loki’s arms. 

~

He blinks awake again, and he’s lying on his side in Loki’s bed, Loki’s fingers rubbing anesthetic cream into the cane marks on his back. Tony shifts carefully and feels the strange light bareness of his wrists, his cuffs removed and his skin soft with lotion already applied, feels the plug still lodged inside him, the slight stretch letting his gaping muscles close slowly. He’s been wiped down with a clean cloth, and there’s a warm blanket over his front side, folded forward just enough to let Loki tend to his back.

Tony swallows, throat hoarse and dry. “Fancy seeing you here.”

He hears Loki’s smile, and one of his hands comes forward to offer Tony a gold cup full of water. “Drink this.”

Tony takes the cup and pushes himself up on his other elbow to drain it. The water’s mixed with sugar and salt and something vaguely herbal and spicy - Asgardian Gatorade, huh - and the cool gulps are sheer relief and clear the fog inside his head. He drops back down and lets the cup roll away across the bed. “This is such a cliche, but how long was I out?”

“Not long at all.” Loki dabs cream on a viciously deep lash, and Tony hisses with pain in the seconds before it fades. “You were only too exhausted to think. A few minutes’ rest was all you needed.”

Tony huffs a laugh. “Me? Not thinking? You’re going with that?”

“Then tell me, did I take you to bed before I cleaned you or after?”

Tony… comes up with nothing. He remembers his climax, shockingly clear compared to the blur of pleasure before it, and the just plain blur afterwards, but… “Before?”

Loki chuckles, and drops a teasing kiss to Tony’s shoulder. “Wrong.”

“Hey, it was worth a shot.”

“Hmm.” Loki kisses Tony’s shoulder again, and lingers there. “You didn’t mean it, did you. That you hated me.”

“Course not. Didn’t mean any of it. Just like you didn’t mean Earth’s in danger from your blue balls, or anything else you said, right?”

Loki’s lips part, brushing Tony’s skin. “I… Of course not. None of it. Not one word.” He straightens up again and glides his hand down Tony’s arm, takes his wrist and slips the cuff back on. “Rest now. You’ll need it.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Thor sent a message yesterday - he is victorious and will be returning late this evening. There will be feasting and celebration of his triumph, but I think these mere bandits will have left his battle-lust unsatisfied. He and his Idiots Three will likely demand to spar with you to ease their blood. I should like to see you and your armor teach them defeat, and for that, we need this afternoon to prepare you.”

Tony twists to look over his shoulder and catch Loki’s eye even as he holds up his other arm for the second cuff. “You’re telling me you fucked me practically unconscious and now you’re expecting me to beat five steroid addicts in single combat?”

“Yes.” Loki grins, and locks the cuff on him. “Will that be a problem?”

Tony scoffs. “You can collar me, whip me, plug me full of come, but it’s not going to change one thing.”

“And what’s that?”

“I am Iron Man.”

Loki’s forehead creases. “You’re who?”

~

“Just so you know, even I am not impulsive enough to show my stuff off before I’ve tested it, so if I blow up because I don’t know how to calibrate for this power source and you laugh at me, I’m blaming you.”

Loki gives Tony his I am not dealing with your weird human shit today look. “Is that likely?”

“Well, my repulsors now double as plasma cannons, my power levels are somewhere above five hundred percent and nobody even has a guess for what all of this Asgardian tech is going to do to the arc reactor, so yeah, something might blow up.”

Loki lifts the helmet in his hand and smiles at it. “It is beautiful, though.”

Tony grins, and looks down to check himself out. “Damn fine, I told you so.”

Instead of hothead-Thor red, the majority of the armor’s colored in jet black, with a dark green tint that shows up under intense light - not Tony’s usual color and intended solely as an ego-stroke for Loki, but it’s actually quite flattering and sets off the gold contrasts nicely. And, the part Tony’s really excited about, he managed to find a fluorescent cushioning gel to line the insides of the joints with, so in the cracks between every plate there’s a bright glow of arc-reactor blue. 

And those plates aren’t a gold-titanium alloy anymore. No, Tony’s got his hands on some of that fantastic Asgardian fiber-reinforced ceramic - far superior in every way to any material he’s ever worked with before, and for the former head of Stark Industries, that’s saying something.

He shot the first prototype ceramic shell with a missile and all it did was fall over, and that was because the stand broke.

He felt indestructible in his suit back on Earth; standing here arrayed like this, he feels like a god.

And this is just the Mark A - for Asgard, hell yes he’s imaginative - and he’s nowhere near the limit of what he can do with what Asgard has to offer. He hasn’t seen anything resembling the HUD yet, but in terms of armor and weapons Asgard is enormously ahead of Earth - but just close enough for Tony to catch up. 

And he’s doing a lot of catching. His Asgardian not-bot assistants seem about ready to adopt him.

“Very handsome.”

Loki snaps his head around at the woman’s voice, and Tony turns to face the figure in the doorway; she’s somewhere in the attractively aged bracket, and she’s smiling at them as she enters the workshop. She has long, gently curled hair cascading artistically over one shoulder, and is immaculately dressed in a teal-blue silk robe enhanced with decorative bronze armor, perfectly put together. She looks so out of place in the total wreckage that Tony’s managed to turn this place into in half a week that he wants to ask if she’s lost.

Loki steps forward to meet her. “Mother, what are you doing here?”

Did he just say ‘Mother’?

Am I about to get told to clean my room?

She gives Loki a look that completely kills any doubts Tony had about the mother thing. “I have come to meet your new friend, since you have failed to introduce us yourself.”

Loki blushes and ducks his head, actually chastised and thoroughly told, and beckons Tony over. “Mother, this is my companion, Tony Stark, a renowned weaponsmith and warrior of Midgard. Stark, I present Frigga, Queen of Asgard.”

Tony grins at her and disengages one of his gauntlets. “Well, now I see where Loki gets his good looks from.” He takes her hand carefully in his, bows low and kisses her knuckles. “Ma’am. A pleasure.”

“Flatterer.” She’s still smiling, though, sincerely charmed if Tony’s kept his touch for beautiful women with power. “So this is why Loki is so fond of you.”

“One of the many reasons,” Tony agrees, finally lowering her hand and reattaching the gauntlet; it folds fluidly over his hand and meshes with the jagged cuff around his wrist before syncing up with the rest of the armor, a totally awesome mechanism that was completely worth the sleepless night and all of Loki’s pissy comments about his absence the next morning.

The whole You’re getting too uppity, I’m going to make you suck me for an hour straight thing wasn’t much of a price to pay, either.

Frigga’s watching the gauntlet with interest. “That’s cleverly done.” 

Tony shrugs it off. “Flatterer,” he smirks, rippling his eyebrows at her. “I know you guys think my planet’s mud. Pretty sure this looks like a museum piece to you.”

“I hope Loki didn’t tell you that.”

Loki straightens as if offended by the very idea. “I certainly did not, Stark’s work is magnificent.”

Tony pokes him in his unarmored shoulder. “How about you wait on the ringing endorsements until I test it out? Stark’s work is magnificent, it completely failed to kill me when it blew up half the palace on takeoff.

Frigga steps forward, takes Tony’s arm, and smoothly steers him towards the workshop balcony; he hastily rearranges himself into something resembling a gentleman and laces his arm around hers. “I assure you, Loki has done worse with some of his magics. We didn’t rid the library of the smell for weeks.”

Following behind them, Loki coughs. “The smell was Thor’s fault, if you remember.”

“Is everything that goes wrong around here Thor’s fault?”

Frigga chuckles. “Only when it isn’t Loki’s, wouldn’t you agree, my son?”

Loki holds a very telling silence as they emerge onto the wide balcony overlooking the sweep of the city and the ocean beyond it, the Rainbow Road a glittering line of optic crystal stretching towards the horizon that is indeed the edge of the world

Fucking hell, Asgard is flat. Tony wants to go back to Earth just to meet Terry Pratchett and apologize for every rant about how even fantasy fiction couldn’t be fictional enough to allow a flat world to exist.

“Now.” Frigga pats Tony’s arm, right above a missile port that thankfully doesn’t repeat the lock-and-load sequence like it did when one of the minions tried the same thing two days ago. “Please don’t destroy my husband’s halls, and show us what this armor of yours is capable of.”

“Mother, you’re stealing him.”

She winks. “Don’t tell your father.”

Mother-

“Oh, love,” Frigga says with a laugh, and glides to Loki’s side, smiling in a peace offering. “It’s clear he only has eyes for you.”

“And if you’d like to pass me my eyes…” Tony holds out a hand for the helmet, which Loki gives to him wordlessly. “I can get this show on the road.”

He puts the helmet on and it connects smoothly to the neck, signals flooding in and lighting up the HUD. It’s slightly crippled with no connection to Jarvis, but it’s still got nearly everything of practical use - autotargeting, weapons control, damage report systems - as well as things that aren’t of practical use, like his entire digital music library and Internet connection capabilities. 

Tony codes Loki and Frigga as civilians, first thing, and in slight protest the HUD throws up its analysis of the two beautifully-made daggers concealed in the small of Loki’s back; Tony’s felt one of them carving light swirls into his chest, has carefully licked his blood off its tip. Tony confirms that Loki isn’t secretly an assassin - not one after him, anyway - and then cues the preflight program. 

All the readouts pop up green, his very confused power levels maxing out at five hundred percent the capacity he programmed them for. The new plasma-repulsors have integrated seamlessly with the rest of the hardware, and the software’s followed right along, warming them up and reporting full readiness. 

Here we go.

“Alright, heads up, take notes, there will be a test, this is flight one of the Mark A in three, two, one…”

Loki’s probably expecting a little warm-up, a bit of hover, a slow progression up to full lift and weapon arming. In his defense, he only met Tony Stark a week and a half ago.

Tony fires all repulsors at full power.

“Yeeeeeeaaaaaah!

It’s like the palace just disappears, Tony leaves it behind so fast; the suit breaks the sound barrier in a handful of seconds and shows absolutely no signs of backing off. The landscape below is nothing but a blur, the HUD screen totally clear of anything in the way, and Tony laughs and rolls sideways to shoot across the skies. Already he’s within range of breaking every single aircraft speed record ever set on Earth and he’s not even trying. The ceramic’s fantastic, not letting in the cold the way the gold-titanium alloy did, and the performance is just flawless, micro-corrections made to every piece one by one down to what Tony thinks is the atomic level, until the joints move so smoothly it’s like he’s not wearing armor at all. He banks and the suit responds, a beautiful tight curve to the left, fluid and stable. The inner guts are working perfectly with the new exterior, the added weight effortlessly compensated for by the extreme amounts of power he’s got at his disposal now, the souped-up repulsors completely secure in their mounts. 

He flings himself through the air, turning loop-de-loops and corkscrew dives and barrel rolls so easily it feels like there’s no machine at all, just him. He never dreamed Iron Man could feel this good, so perfectly integrated with him - and this is just the prototype, what could he do with more than a week? It’s a better rush than the first flight out of his workshop in the Mark II - yes, yes, yes, Tony can do anything in this suit, this is what it means to be Iron Man.

He’s never been so alive.

He calls up a map of the scans the HUD has been taking this whole time and has it sketch him a route back to the palace, since his enraptured audience probably can’t even see his contrails anymore, and shoots back, speed and control right there at his fingertips, crossing five miles in just under fifteen seconds.

It feels so good to just fly again.

Loki and Frigga are waiting for him on the balcony when he swings in to brake. Loki’s standing there with a wide grin that’s fiercely proud and mischievous and kind of aroused; he looks happier than Tony’s ever seen him. Tony spins in midair to show off the color of the suit - metallic green and gold, gleaming and blazing Tony’s allegiance for all to see. The light catches on the engraved geometric patterns in the ceramic, both a stunning design element and enhancing the shielding qualities of the material through the added surface area. He loves when his beautiful things have practical uses.

Case in point: Loki.

Tony keys the speaker. “Want a ride, Lois Lane?”

Loki’s grin stretches as he nods and steps away from Frigga; Tony angles himself and sweeps down, arms outstretched. 

He catches Loki up and fires the foot repulsors at one-quarter power, and they soar off the balcony, the stabilizers kicking in to balance Loki’s added weight. He’s slung his arms tight around Tony’s torso, one arm around his back and the other over his shoulder, and moulded himself to the armor. Tony can hear him laughing, and he rolls them through the air, gripping Loki’s body hard to keep him close, and turns into a shallow dive that has his stomach swooping, adrenaline high flooding him all over again. Loki positively whoops with delight and clings to Tony like a kid on a rollercoaster, and Tony pulls them out and throws them back up. The suit responds with ease and grace, doing absolutely everything Tony asks of it, and he can feel that there’s a lot more in it. 

Loki gets a hand up to Tony’s helmet, and presses his own head close. “It’s glorious! Everything I ever-”

Tony cuts all power and drops them like rocks, just to make Loki clutch him desperately and both of them shout in exhilaration as they plummet through the air. Tony waits until not quite the last second - the hardware’s beautiful but still mostly untested - and fires the foot repulsors to take them back upwards. The deceleration tugs at them for an instant before they break through, flying fast back to the balcony.

Tony comes in hot and lands himself solidly before lowering Loki to the ground. Loki’s legs are shaking and he staggers to get his balance, leaning heavily on Tony, who’s relying on the armor to hold him up more than he’d like to admit. Loki’s hair is windblown absolutely everywhere, his eyes are sparkling and his cheeks flushed, he’s laughing breathlessly and his hands are roaming across the shoulders of the armor, curving around one place before grabbing at another. 

“Magnificent,” he gasps, “oh, Thor will spit - you’ll defeat him in moments - you must be certain I am there when you do, Stark, I must see this, the absolute indignity you will wreak on him-”

“What, is he afraid of heights?”

Loki cackles and almost doubles over; Tony sort of pats him on the back, and retracts the faceplate and raises an eyebrow at Frigga, who just smiles indulgently and stands there, hands folded and leaning against the balcony railing. 

Loki manages to cough down his laughter and straightens up, hand on Tony’s shoulder, and inhales deeply.

“All right,” he says. “Let’s see what else this armor can do.”

Chapter Text

“You do know this thing is supposed to kill people, right?”

Loki shrugs, and spins his long-bladed spear fluidly through his hands. “So is this. I shall be cautious with it, you shall do the same, and we won’t kill each other.”

“I don’t know how to be cautious with this suit, it’s got more power than I know what to do with! As far as I can tell, I could blow a hole straight through your gorgeous, lickable chest.”

Loki raises an eyebrow at Tony’s choice of compliment, but it’s true - Tony could, and plans to, just go over that whole expanse of pale skin and whipcord muscle with his tongue for hours.

“Would you like me to take this dangerous thing from you?”

“No,” Tony says, crossing his hands over his chest like that’ll somehow help him hold on if Loki decides to start peeling the armor off him piece by piece. “It’s mine now, you said-”

Loki smirks his I’m teasing you and you fell for it smirk. “I know. But you seem too afraid to use it.”

“Oh, that’s a clumsy play coming from you,” Tony scoffs, relaxing his arms and taking the moment to gently warm up the repulsors to ten percent of their new power levels. “Reverse psychology, insulting me until I prove you wrong - you’re supposed to be better than that. Are you actually looking for a shot to the face?”

Loki twirls his spear, blade flashing silver. “If you think you can manage it.”

“And if I can?” Tony takes two slow steps forward, unable to sashay his hips the way he’d like thanks to the armor, but the seductive prowl is enough to light up Loki’s eyes. “What do I get if I take you down?”

Loki tilts his chin up - with Tony in the suit, they’re almost the same height for once - and eyes Tony head to toe, gaze catching on the repulsors and the arc reactor shining in the chest mount. “Should you defeat me, I would have to submit, wouldn’t I? Lie beneath you and pay whatever price you demand to let me stand again.”

Tony’s heart leaps deliciously, cock throbbing in its cage. “Sounds like a plan.”

“Of course, if you should fall, I will require the same,” Loki says, a warning smile tugging at his lips. “I will put you back in your place and punish you for daring to think you could rise up against me.”

“Oh, yeah, sucking you off on my knees, like that’s a punishment.”

“Then that’s not how I’ll punish you.” Loki comes closer, close enough to lift a hand and trace the edges of the armor plating, fingertips skimming the places where gold meets green, his eyes steady and dark and fixed on Tony’s through the helmet faceplate. “I never have insisted on forbidding your release. I have a carved amber glass from Muspelheim that has… interesting properties when exposed to heat. Such as, perhaps, when buried in that tight, hot hole of yours. It will pleasure you exquisitely until a breath to your cock would have you spilling, save for that cage I will not open for you no matter how you beg.”

Tony’s stomach curls with the now-familiar confused anticipation of something that sounds completely horrible - but the worse it sounds, the more awesome it always is. He doesn’t get off on pain so much as he gets off on Loki, and this little plot is Loki all over. “Guess I’d better not lose, then.”

“Oh, but what about me? What dread penalties do I face for my loss?” Loki grins. “Come on, Stark. I must have a reason to fight, too.”

“Okay.” Tony folds his arms and drums his fingers, thinking - high and mighty Loki brought down, Loki begging, Loki pleading… “Let’s say I do ‘overthrow’ you, I’d be pretty tired of being your fucktoy all the time. So I get to fuck you, and just in case your princely ass doesn’t like it, I’m going to take a nice long sound and shove it in your cock, so you’re hard whether you want it or not.”

“How savage,” Loki breathes delightedly, eyes flaring with lust. “You’d be a cruel victor, wouldn’t you?”

“I’ll make you find your own sound,” Tony says, since he has no idea where to find something that would be hygienic, safe, and get the job done, “and if it’s not big enough I’ll make you find another. Oh, and I’ll give you a couple of stripes with that really nasty cane you pulled on me this morning. Wearing the armor, too, so you’ll actually feel it.”

“Cruel indeed.”

“You asked.”

“Well, then.”

The shaft of Loki’s spear flies at Tony’s head, and he blocks it with one arm and shoots Loki in the guts with the other. 

Ten percent power does fuck-all, splashing off Loki’s armor, and Tony ducks the return swing of the spear and flicks power to the boots to jump across to the far corner of the courtyard and get himself some clear space for a long-range attack, good strategy since Loki’s only got that spear - except that Loki’s right in Tony’s face when he spins around.

Close enough for Tony to kick him in the stomach, grab his shoulders when he falls forward, and throw him across the yard. 

Loki gets his feet to the wall and jumps back off, landing smoothly and spinning straight into a fast charge at Tony, spear blurred even in the HUD. Tony fires a series of volleys from his repulsors at twenty percent power and that fucking spear blocks them all, redirecting the energy out sideways as Loki keeps coming and smashes Tony in the faceplate with the butt of the spear that had been way further away a second ago. 

Tony ducks - too late to avoid the blow but he knocks Loki’s legs out from under him, or would if Loki hadn’t already jumped over his swinging arm and landed lightly on Tony’s back. His boot kicks teasingly at Tony’s helmet, a stupid showboaty move that lets Tony fire the repulsors to shoot across the ground and spill Loki onto his ass. 

Tony hits a corner of the courtyard and picks himself up slowly, breath coming hard and fast, heart pounding in his chest, exertion surging through his body. Across from him, Loki’s grinning, flexing his hands around his indestructible super-spear - and that sounds like a terrible euphemism for something if Tony ever heard one - standing up with no sign of injury or even a bit of soreness. 

Tony flicks his eyes at the HUD and charges the repulsors to thirty percent, shoots at Loki’s face with his right hand and Loki’s stomach with his left.

Loki blocks one and spins out of the way of the other, coat flying around him, hair settling perfectly back into place.

Thirty-five percent.

Tony flies across the yard and tackles Loki against the wall, finally knocking the spear from his hand. Loki shouts in actual pain and Tony pins him harder to the stone and grins in triumph, and then freezes as he feels something sharp pricking at the back of his neck.

Loki laughs softly. “You lose.”

“That’s a knife you just put through the neck joint and are now holding about a millimeter away from stabbing me through the spinal cord, isn’t it.”

“It might be.”

“Then you should know I caught that stupid spear and it’s about to go through your stomach.”

Loki looks down between their bodies, at Tony’s hand wrapped around the shaft of the spear and very carefully holding the blade where Loki’s unprotected by any armor, just far enough away to not damage the nice leather.

“Cunning.”

“What? No, common sense! Are you seriously telling me people here are too boring to think of that trick?”

Loki rolls his eyes and finally takes his knife out of Tony’s neck; Tony disengages, flips up the faceplate and gives Loki his spear back. “Precisely, a trick. Dishonorable and sly, unworthy of any true warrior.”

“Fine, they can all go off and get themselves killed, we’ll have fun with actually surviving getting attacked.”

Loki investigates a charred patch on the spear’s blade left by Tony’s repulsors. “To die in battle is not a thing to be avoided. No warrior wishes to die in bed at a great age.”

Oh, great, the batshit crazy aliens are kamikazes, too. “Man, those guys are screwed up.”

Loki shakes his head. “That is what they say of me.”

“Fuck what they say,” Tony snaps, making Loki jerk up. “And fuck them. You’re worth a hundred times what those jocks are and we both know it, you’re a prince and you could outthink them in your sleep. You don’t have to tiptoe. This whole damn planet is your dance floor.”

Loki’s eyes go dark with painful longing, before he shuts that down and it’s just pain. “And what of Thor? He’s worth a hundred of me, never forget that.”

“Thought we had plans to fuck him over too. Bring him down and stick him on your leash.”

“Plans,” Loki sighs, turning away to set his spear back in the rack alongside the identical others. “Oh, yes, many plans - but whether I will ever achieve them… You see what Thor has done this time, found some excuse to leave me behind while he rides off with his true friends. What could possibly make him heed my word when he doesn’t even seek my presence?”

“You mean that out of everyone, he trusted you to guard the home fort alone? You didn’t want to go fight people anyway.”

“What, you think Thor kept me here out of consideration?”

“If he didn’t ever do anything for you, you’d hate him a lot more than this.” Tony folds his arms and pushes onwards before he can realize how much he doesn’t want to be revealing here. Or remembering. “It hurts so much when he’s a dick because the rest of the time, he’s great and there’s no-one you’d rather be around.”

“Oh, don’t do that,” Loki says, wearily, and shoves at Tony’s shoulder as he walks past, heading for the stairs leading up to the palace forecourt.

“Do what?”

Loki’s fists clench by his sides. “Understand me.”

“Not my fault we’re both so messed up.”

Loki just shakes his head, looking broken and small and completely alone, and Tony…

Tony can’t deal with that. “Hey, come back.”

Loki stops, shoulders slumping. “What now?”

“Last match was a draw, we didn’t work out who pays up.” Tony charges the repulsors high with an audible hum of power. “Round two?”

It doesn’t bring Loki back; he stays paused on the steps with a hand twitching on the railing. But he looks over his shoulder, all high cheekbones and sharp-lined jaw and pale skin, and calls up a little of his haughty teasing. “Are you sure you wish to risk losing? You’re safe if we end this now.”

“Says the guy who’s going to have a sound in his cock tonight."

“Oh?” Loki turns and descends slowly, fingers trailing along the wide, smooth stonework of the railing. “Then, if my grim fate is so assured, why should I agree to fight?”

“Because if you don’t, I’m just crazy enough to try shooting you in the back.”

“You’ll regret that.”

“Then you’d better fight me upfront and save me from myself.”

Loki grins, and then his arm flies and a knife slices through the side of the left knee joint. 

Shit!

Tony drops as the HUD flares red and reports damage to the knee as if he couldn’t already tell, and fires both repulsors in a wide arc to catch Loki where he’s running for the rack of spears. Just to be a bastard, he fires a small rocket at the rack and blows it to pieces.

Dumb move, when the explosion throws a spear straight into Loki’s hand.

Tony surges to his feet and runs at Loki. Loki braces for the impact but he’s not prepared for Tony to jump and fire the foot repulsors at the last second, launching them both into the air. Tony doesn’t let Loki stay close enough to knife him again, but throws him into the wall, shoots him, and blasts the spear out of his hand. 

Loki hits the ground coughing, armor smoking, and stands up with a wince and a hand pressed to his abdomen. The HUD flashes a weird warning but Tony ignores it in favor of advancing on Loki-

In favor, apparently, of someone grabbing him from behind and holding a knife to his throat.

Loki whispers in his ear. “You lose.”

In front of him, Loki melts out of existence like a hologram with the power cut, and, Tony realizes on actually paying attention to the HUD warning, that’s exactly what it was - a perfect image of Loki, just with no heat signature or physical presence. “More magic?”

“Yes.”

God, the things Tony could do if he could call up his old workshop’s holograms out of his head… “Have I told you how much I love that stuff?”

The blade of the knife raps against the armor over Tony’s neck. “I just used it to kill you.”

“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t have fallen for it if I’d noticed my sensors telling me it was a fake.”

“Then you’re dead and foolish.”

“On the other hand, you’re the one who hasn’t made sure I’m dead.”

Tony fires the foot repulsors at sixty percent power, shooting up like a cork from a badly-handled bottle of champagne and throwing Loki bodily onto the stairs. Just for the hell of it, Tony slams down for the landing with way more force than necessary, cracking the paving slabs, and brings up every single weapon he has and aims them all at Loki. “You lose, Shakespeare.”

Loki smiles. And tackles Tony in the stomach.

Fuck, he’s fast!

Tony flips them over so Loki’s on his back and Tony’s over him, scrabbling to pin Loki’s wrists to the ground as Loki tries to get a hand to his knives and shove Tony off. Loki rolls them and Tony rolls them again, struggling to control Loki’s arms and legs at the same time without getting his ass handed to him, but the armor’s doing a fabulous job of taking Loki’s beating when he slips away from Tony’s attempts to hold him down. 

Loki gets both hands to Tony’s side and throws him off, and climbs on top of him just before Tony can get his hands up to fire; the chest arc’s way too powerful to play around with, so he’ll have to do this himself. He swings his legs up and pins Loki’s waist between his calves, knees bent and thighs tensing to shove Loki off, except he’s not sure he really wants to do that, and suddenly this could go an entirely different direction than fighting-

Tony thrusts his hips against Loki, and Loki grins and ruts back down-

“Brother!”

Tony and Loki both freeze, and look sideways to see Thor and his buddies clomping into the sparring courtyard, streaked with dirt and other people’s blood, clearly having come straight here on getting back. Jeez, Tony at least takes a shower before heading to the workshop after a fight.

Tony glances up at Loki, poised above him with one hand wrapping Tony’s wrist in midair, the other clamped on Tony’s knee and holding him spread around Loki’s waist. “Well, this is awkward.”

Loki rolls his eyes, and elegantly frees himself from Tony’s limbs and rises to his feet. “Welcome back, Thor.”

Thor grins and strides forward to wrap Loki in a stranglehold-cross-bear-hug, and Loki manages not to choke on the stench of sweat Tony can smell even through the helmet filters as he stands up, trying to ignore his beginning hard-on. 

“I see you found something to amuse yourself with in my absence.”

“Not as amusing as your battle, I’m sure.”

Thor snorts, and lets Loki step away so he can clap both hands on Loki’s shoulders. Loki’s not a small guy, Tony can personally vouch that there’s a lot of strength to him, but next to Thor his plentiful trim muscle looks like catwalk model skinniness. 

“Hardly,” Thor says dismissively. “These were no worthy foes. Weak and uncoordinated.”

Loki smiles in sympathy. “There will be other chances. Father will summon you to Jotunheim in time.” 

“I hope so. I think Stark here was presenting you more of a challenge than those bandits did me.”

Fandral saunters up from behind Thor and throws a flirtatious leer Tony’s way; the fact that he’s still swinging his bloodstained rapier around gives it a very odd look. “You know, he’s a Midgardian prize. Why should Loki have all the fun to himself? We all helped Thor take that world. We should all have a turn.”

And damn, this would be the perfect moment for Loki to pull an awesomely possessive smack-down - Tony could go for getting thrown to his knees and fucked right here in front of everyone, moaning loudly about how he belongs to Loki and no-one else could even come close, especially Fandral - but it’s difficult to negotiate spontaneous exhibitionism in front of your intended audience. Tony takes matters into his own hands, and throws up the faceplate to let Fandral see Tony eye him up and down, and smirk. “You couldn’t handle me.”

“A challenge!” Thor shouts, and drags Loki towards the edge of the courtyard, leaving Fandral and Tony apparently squaring off against each other, and no, that’s not exactly what Tony had in mind, but if these guys are as warrior-culture as they seem, maybe this is the only way to convince Fandral that Tony’s too hot for him.

And Tony will never not be up for handing out a public ass-kicking.

“Aye,” Volstagg calls from leaning against the wall, dipping his hands into a barrel of water and splashing his face. “You’ll prove yourself if you wish to keep our company. Why do you hide your face so?”

Tony flips the faceplate back down. “I’m too pretty to get punched.”

Fandral laughs, and strokes his stupid beard that’s entirely put Tony off going back to his usual goatee. “I can certainly understand that.”

“You really think I’m pretty?”

Fandral gives him a sweeping bow. “The fairest warrior I have yet seen, if it pleases you to hear it.”

Loki, over on the far side of the yard, looks considerably displeased, a good deal of which Tony has to admit is his fault, but if all goes to plan, that’ll make it all the sweeter when Tony leaves Fandral groaning on the ground and saunters over to Loki asking for his reward. 

Loki leans in to speak to Thor. “You should know I had plans for my prize in his defeat.”

“But Volstagg is right,” Thor says, as Fandral starts warming up, a series of stretches mostly similar to what Tony would do if his body weren’t already humming with energy. “If Stark is to join us, we would know who we stand beside.”

“And Fandral is also right,” Sif says, lounging against the railing, scrubbing her hands in the barrel of water. “Why should he not entertain us all?”

Loki’s looking more sour by the second; offering him Fandral’s ass on a plate should cheer him up. “Okay, then,” Tony says, rubbing his hands together and concealing the glow of the repulsors as he charges them to seventy percent. “Let’s get this show on the road!”

Fandral swishes his sword once more through the air, and takes up a stance opposite Tony. “Ready?”

“Yep.”

Fandral charges with a cry and a dramatic flourish; Tony shoots him.

He aimed for the heavily-armored part of his chest, to spread out the impact; it works like a charm. Fandral’s thrown off his feet and into the wall, hitting hard and crumpling to the ground beside Hogun.

Loki smiles.

“Loki’s given me a couple of presents,” Tony calls, loud enough to reach his entire audience. “So if you’re expecting to walk over me like you did to everyone on Earth, think again.”

Because Tony choked on that for long enough when he was between them and cities full of innocent people, and there’s finally something he can do about it.

They’re going down if they come at him.

Hogun laughs softly as he helps Fandral back to his feet, Fandral coughing and brushing at the scorch marks on his armor. “This one has teeth.”

Damn right Tony does - too late to do Earth any good, but that won’t save the Asgardians from feeling them.

A sneaky dose of revenge probably isn’t what Thor had in mind when he made his and Loki’s friends play together, but screw him - Loki’ll be behind Tony all the way. Tony can do anything he wants so long as he leaves Thor alone; the boy band isn’t on the protected list.

Tony cracks his neck from side to side. “Who’s next?”

Sif steps forward with a derisive curl of her lip. “No tricks,” she says, and flips her sword in her hand and engages a second blade, slotting it into place at the other end of the hilt. 

“Depends what you call a trick, Darth Maul,” Tony says. “Because I’d say that boom, suddenly I have two swords is pretty tricky.”

She scowls like Tony’s insulted her grandmother. “I’ll use what weapons I please.”

“Great, me too,” Tony says, and shoots her.

She ducks, nearly as fast as Loki, flows into a forward roll and comes up, sword swinging. The legs of the armor take the blow like it’s nothing, the blade sliding off, and Tony kicks her in the stomach. He’s expecting her to spring back from the hit, but she twists into it and takes his legs out from under him. He fires the repulsors and blasts away, getting out from under the downswing of her sword, twists to gain height and then divebombs her.

Sif holds her ground and extends the sword for him to impale himself on like a charging idiot; Tony times it to the millisecond and bats the blade aside with one hand and punches her with the other. She goes down and he lets his momentum carry him over her vicious kick - the armor would have taken it fine, but no way was Tony going to stand there and get a foot in the balls - and then he drops to pin her to the ground. 

Her sword plunges into his arm, straight between two plates and - jams just before it hits skin. He shoves his other hand into her ribs and fires, and she shouts in pain and rips her sword out of his arm, and while she’s distracted from his shot he gets his hands up and around her throat.

Sif goes still, sword nowhere near presenting a threat. Tony warms the repulsors just enough for her to feel the charge. “Game’s mine.”

She bares her teeth, and then Tony hears Loki shout and something cracks him in the back of the skull.

He barely holds back from blowing Sif’s head off in surprise, fires the foot repulsors and gets himself some space. The HUD flashes the new target - Volstagg, no alert on his approach since Tony hadn’t coded him as an enemy - coming up and standing beside Sif as she rises to her feet and flips her double-sword in her hand.

“Coward!”

“Sore loser!” Tony shouts back, cuts power and slams down. Volstagg’s hefting a massive axe in his hand, and the back of Tony’s head is absolutely pounding - he must have been hit with the flat side, otherwise he’d probably have lost the top half of his skull. He flexes his left hand, and the gauntlet’s distinctly under-strength from Sif’s strike, but with plenty more armament he’ll be fine for now. “Is phoning a friend not a trick either?”

Volstagg swells himself up like a pufferfish. “There is no shame in defending a comrade.”

Tony rolls his eyes inside his helmet, and across the yard he catches Loki doing the same thing. But if there’s no point in pandering to their ideal of honor, he might as well do this his way.

He fires a shot above their heads to make them duck, and while they’re disoriented from that, takes them both in the chest.

They go down, Sif on her front and Volstagg on his back like a trapped turtle; Tony pops a missile up from the back of each wrist and aims at each of their heads. “Game’s mine.”

Loki’s grinning ear to ear, his posture now relaxed and open as he leans back against the wall, arms folded in the casual pose of a smug victor. Beside him, Thor’s roaring with laughter, head thrown back, and clapping.

“Loki’s warrior indeed! The game is yours, my friend!”

Tony retracts the missiles and steps back to the courtyard wall to let Sif and Volstagg climb to their feet. Sif’s furious, hand white-knuckled on the hilt of her dual sword, and Volstagg’s trying not to meet anyone’s eyes. 

On the far side of the yard, Fandral slings an arm around Hogun’s shoulders. “Come on! For Asgard!” They march forward and take up positions by Sif and Volstagg, and suddenly it’s Tony facing all four of them.

Well, there goes his winning streak.

He’s not going to take this match with a few sneaky shots. They’ve clearly been a team for years, and it’s a challenge just in numbers, since he can’t kill or even really injure any of them, and with their buddies covering them, they’re all strong enough to get up from anything Tony’s allowed to do. And while he could just pop up more missiles and declare victory, they’re not going to give in to empty threats when Thor’s watching the four of them against one human - no, they’re going to fight until they actually can’t anymore. Tony’s going to be the one put down in the end, and put down hard for all the shit he’s pulled so far-

“Don’t think you’re having all the fun, Stark,” Loki says, strolling up beside him, knives in hand.

Tony grins and sways closer to him as the Asgardians scowl, unfair advantage snatched from their grabby little hands; they go into a huddle and start whispering, putting some effort into strategizing now that they’re facing slightly less uneven odds. 

“Thanks for the save,” Tony says. “I’ll put ‘em down, you keep ‘em down?”

Loki gestures invitingly at the others, still colluding, backs turned, unprepared. “When you will.”

Tony sets the repulsors to wide dispersal and sixty percent power, throws in a little sting from the lasers on the insides of his wrists, where he can fire them without slicing his raised hands off, and brings his arms up and blasts a sweeping arc across all four Asgardians.

They shout in surprise and stagger back under the force of the blast, and Tony fires low-yield missiles at the paving under their feet, blowing them all into the air. Hogun and Volstagg fall flat, but the others land upright; Tony hits those two with pair of plasma blasts and they go down hard, which is great - but they’re all already coming up-

Two knives thunk down into the ground and stand quivering, stabbing through Sif and Hogun’s loose cloaks a single inch away from their necks, pinning them to the ground. Loki’s hands flash as he throws two more knives to trap Fandral and Volstagg, efficient and elegant and so clearly barely-not lethal.

Holy shit

“That is the single coolest move I’ve ever seen.” Especially considering the fact that Loki doesn’t carry that many knives on his person. Magic!

Extraphysics!

Loki smirks, and flicks another knife down between Sif’s dropped sword and her hand reaching for it. She freezes and sends Loki an absolutely filthy glare, and retreats with all the bad grace of a child who’s lost at rock-paper-scissors.

“Yeah, yield, you suckers!” Tony crows, raising his repulsors again, enjoying way too much the sight of Fandral and Hogun sidling back from their weapons.

“This is why we do not fight Loki,” Volstagg grunts at the others, and he reaches for the knife holding him down - and shouts in pain, ripping his hand back from the hilt with a shiny red burn across his fingers.

“Loki,” Thor chides as he walks over, and smiles as he claps Loki on the shoulder. “One day I will have you win a fight with honor.”

Loki shrugs. “One day I will have you win a fight to win it.”

They grin at each other - private joke since who knows how long, Tony had enough of them with Jarvis and the bots to know one when he sees one. Dummy, you touch that again and I’m rebooting you in Windows Vista. He misses them so fiercely - but there’s no point in longing for them, he had no choice but to flee Earth after what he did, and he couldn’t possibly have taken them with him. He’s not dumb enough to think they’re better off without him, but he’s also not dumb enough to have left them incapable of looking after themselves. They’re doing fine.

“Come!” Thor shouts, slapping Loki on the back again. “A feast to celebrate our victory awaits!”

Loki goes to recover his knives and let the others up, but Tony keeps his eyes on Thor. A shitty, boring fight that only left him hungry for more and he’s still celebrating it? This isn’t even a consolation after-party, Tony knows all about those - this is Thor so badly needing any kind of real-world success that he’ll laud the ones that barely count, because he’s got nothing else.

He got halfway to overrunning Earth before being called back home and sternly told off for it, he’s been grounded while the actual war is going on without him, and he’s dragged his brother and his friends down with him. No wonder he’s trying to make himself look good in any way he can.

Including diminishing, surprisingly subtly, Loki’s victory just now.

Tony glances across at Loki, and the almost-totally hidden tension in his hands as he rips his knives free; the jock crew rise gracelessly without so much as a thank you or good match. Assholes. 

Tony warms the repulsors again and just imagines the beauty of shooting Thor and every one of his sycophants through the eye.

~

So it turns out that ‘a feast awaits’ isn’t as immediate as it sounds, and involves - thankfully - everyone scrubbing up and changing first, and then a bunch of sitting around in a side room before the actual feast can get underway. 

On Tony’s part, it involved thoroughly soaping himself down while Loki sipped at a glass of wine and watched him appreciatively, and then Tony washing Loki himself, slow and reverent, enforced by Loki’s hand tight in his hair and the other hand pulling at long chains attached to Tony’s wrist cuffs and collar, making Tony do exactly what Loki wanted. Including getting Loki off, too, caressing and stroking and rubbing his cock like it was just part of the bath, cleaning away the come he spilled all over his abs like it wasn’t any different to the dirt picked up during their fight.

Loki smirked and slid the cock cage off of Tony - his reward for fighting well - and then did absolutely nothing about Tony’s aching hard-on. Bastard.

Instead, Loki dressed him in ‘something special’ for the feast - fancy leather pants, even tighter and more defining than usual, with built-in patches of gold scale mail down his legs; an intricate and layered and utterly badass coat; and for the first time, his own pieces of armor to wear over it, asymmetric and richly engraved in the Asgardian style, but with the chunkier, heavier look of Iron Man. 

And, underneath his shirt, Tony’s draped in elaborate gold filigree chains, thin and bright, hanging over his chest and down his back, ends looping around and heading up again so his torso is wrapped in a loose, light web of gold strands. Tony stared at himself in the mirror for a full three minutes when Loki finished his work, and the effect was… really something. Just enough covering him to make him look even more indecent than if he was just shirtless, the jewelry contrasts sharply with the armor strapped to his forearms and one shoulder: that’s for a warrior, Loki’s companion and ally; the hidden gold chains scream ‘sex slave’.

It’s absolutely delicious.

They rub against Tony’s skin, warmed from his body heat, as he shifts on the couch and sinks down a little further, sliding over as if he’s thinking about crawling fully into Loki’s lap. He reaches out a hand and brushes Loki’s thigh. “I’m bored.”

“Aren’t we all,” Loki replies, curt and quiet. “Shut up.”

Tony groans and drops his head back to the hard wooden frame of the couch. Volstagg’s in the middle of telling an enormous pack of grossly exaggerated truths about his mighty deeds and prowess in the assault against the bandits, and keeps managing to contradict himself, jumping from fighting six men to eight without anyone else apparently caring. No, Thor and Fandral are stuck into an entire barrel of something that says ‘alcohol-induced coma’ if Tony were to try it, laughing along with Volstagg’s story, Sif’s smiling like an indulgent big sister and cleaning her sword, and Hogun’s sitting prim and upright and expressionless, meditating or something, maybe showing a hint of amusement when Volstagg makes a particularly outrageous boast.

And Loki, because he wasn’t there and all this tale-telling is supposed to be for his benefit, is leaning forward in his seat and maintaining a show of interest, prompting more and more and offering congratulations to whoever gets so much as mentioned.

Of course, it would’ve short-cut several steps if they’d just brought Loki with them in the first place.

But for all that, they seem like they’re genuinely trying to include him here, making an effort to share details and information, throwing around group discussions of where the bandits might have come from and asking Loki for his input in particular.

On the other hand, they phrase it as ‘You like tricks and mischief and don’t care about honor in battle, so obviously you understand the mental workings of murdering thieves’. Slightly more politely than that, but not much.

Volstagg finally runs out of air or creativity or both, and drops onto a couch that creaks under his weight. Nobody steps up to replace him; Sif and Hogun look a little sleepy and Thor more than a little drunk, and Fandral gazes around the group, his eyes landing on Tony, and he grins.

For the love of- Tony’s heard of persistence, but this is ridiculous. Is Fandral actually unable to take a hint?

“Perhaps you’ll entertain us with something of Midgard, Stark,” he calls, “tales of battles you have fought, or maybe…” He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively. “You might be so kind as to share something a little more intimate?”

I’m not getting intimate with you, pal. 

But on the other hand, if Fandral is too stupid to give up on pursuing a guy with ‘Property of Loki’ written all over him, nobody can blame Tony if he takes advantage of that, has a little fun of his own…

Sees how far he can push before Fandral breaks…

Tony looks Fandral up and down appraisingly, and gives the inviting smirk that’s led hundreds of women to grace his playboy bed. “What did you have in mind? And before we go any further…” He turns smoothly to face Loki, and reminds Fandral of who’s the only person on Tony’s list. “What’ll you let me get away with?”

Loki’s gone very tense, a return of the distinctly annoyed displeasure from back in the sparring courtyard when Thor and the others cockblocked them and started acting like they had the right to befriend Tony too. “What makes you think I’ll permit you anything?”

“Oh, come, brother, he’s hardly a slave,” Thor says loudly. “You can’t keep him chained to your bed forever!”

Watch me, Tony reads in the flash of anger in Loki’s eyes, and his hand spasms like he wants to drag Tony away right here.

Tony leans over to speak in his ear. “You’ll enjoy it, promise. Fandango’s going to regret looking at me when I’m done with him.”

“Or I could simply put his eyes out.”

Sif raises her voice to carry to them. “If he’s freely yours, Loki, then surely you have nothing to fear from him making his own choices. Or do you think he’d rather have Fandral if only you would let him?”

Zing…

Loki glares daggers at her. “Stark gave himself to me. What have any of you done to earn his favor?”

Sif shrugs. “He clearly wants to offer something.”

Tony lays a hand on Loki’s arm. “Not to blow my own trumpet, but I’m a fantastic dancer.” And a very passable amateur stripper. There’s a reason Tony’s reputation on Earth is as bad - or good - as it is. “It’s a gift that should be shared.”

“Yes, I’m curious,” Thor says, glancing at Tony with interest, suddenly looking a lot less drunk than a minute ago. “Your people seemed very different to ours. I should like to see what entertainment you consider worthy to perform for a prince.”

Tony barely catches the flinch before it slips past, the reminder like a bucket of ice water. Civil as this might be, chilling out before dinner, Tony isn’t safe here. 

Thor’s not just Loki’s loudmouth older brother, he’s got the final word over Tony’s life. Loki needed Thor’s permission to keep him, and Tony’s seen nothing to tell him that Thor couldn’t change his mind at any time, and with the king away on Jotunheim there’s no higher authority to appeal to. Pissing off Thor, or any of the others, isn’t something Tony can afford to do - he’d be completely helpless if they managed to split him up from Loki, and if Thor kicked him all the way back to Earth he’d be dead for sure; it wouldn’t take SHIELD long to find him, and they’re bound to still have his execution ready to go at a moment’s notice.

But if Tony plays nice, makes himself one of the boys instead of just Loki’s attachment, that threat goes away. 

He just needs to change up his priorities a little, that’s all - he’d planned to cocktease Fandral into giving up on him in sheer frustration, but if he slots that into second place and goes for their entertainment first, he’ll seduce them into keeping him around even though nobody gets to touch but Loki.

Loki hisses frustration, grabs Tony’s arm and drags him up off the couch, Tony stumbling to follow as he’s hauled into a corner. “Hey-”

Loki backs him up against the wall. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Tony glances over Loki’s shoulder. They’re all watching, even if Volstagg and Hogun are looking somewhere else, pretending not to. “We want them to like me, don’t we? I’ve got to give them something.”

Stark…

“Trust me,” Tony says, looking up into Loki’s eyes. “They’ve got no clue what they’ve just got themselves into.”

“Do not force yourself to do this.” Loki reaches out to take Tony’s shoulder. Not his neck, not his cuffed wrists - not dominance. Support. “No harm will come to you if you deny them, even now.”

Oh, is that what he’s worried about? “No, hey, this is my show,” Tony says. “If Fandral’s chasing after me, I’m going to make him fall over a cliff.” No need to mention his more realistic calculations around his death at the hands of a denied Thor.

“I could arrange a very high cliff,” Loki offers, but it’s teasing, some of the light back in his face, and Tony smirks.

“I’ll think about it. Now, I need to go fetch my helmet, music is very important to this-”

Loki steps back and counterrotates his hands, a sudden swirl of glowing mist between them. “Allow me.” 

Tony’s newly green helmet simply materializes in the center, and gives a lazy turn before it drops weightily into Loki’s hands. The whole thing takes maybe two seconds at most.

“That,” Tony says, stabbing a finger. “I want all of that.”

Loki passes the helmet to him and Tony rolls his eyes. “The sexy-as-fuck magic, dumbass.”

“Ah.” A smile flicks over Loki’s lips - almost shy, this magic thing is waving reassurance red flags everywhere - and he ducks his head before retreating to his seat.

Later, Tony promises. When they’re not in front of the people who probably stomped Loki down into becoming that small. What was it he said to the guy at the end of the bridge, when they arrived? My brother’s attempts to crush me into my place.

And Tony’s about to dance for their pleasure.

He draws in a steadying breath, twists the side release and sets the open helmet down over his head. And then he’s going to make them choke on it.

Just, you know. Nicely.

As always, when asked for a demonstration Tony Stark delivers with over-the-top style. The HUD interface wasn’t exactly designed for DJ’ing, something that now seems like an egregious oversight, but a few quick and dirty system commands produce a five-minute mix that probably won’t be hopeless, the several songs going from sensual to obscene to advertising sexual services, building up to what should all but have the Asgardians coming in their pants if Tony does his job right.

He lifts the helmet clear and sets it down on a table nearby, cracks all his knuckles and struts into the center of the dance floor, swaying his hips and throwing Loki a wink over his shoulder as he strips off his armor and coat and tosses them onto his now-empty seat. 

Tony takes his stage, the clear, fairly sizable space in the center of the ring of couches, and claps his hands once, turning to smile at his whole audience one by one - Fandral’s already leering, the rest of Thor’s friends looking neutral and underwhelmed, waiting to be impressed and not really expecting to be, Thor himself shooting triumphant looks at Loki as if he’s stolen Tony out from under his nose. Fat chance. Tony faces Thor and gives a dramatic bow - leather-clad ass, best view in the house, towards Loki - and shoots gunslinger fingers at the helmet on his way up. “Hit it, baby.”

The eyeslits glow blue and the opening chords hit the air.

Tony’s brain slams the door behind itself and lets his body do the talking.

The music’s inviting and suggestive, and he slips in easily, hips circling, hands and arms twisting above his head, eyes shut and his head falling back and forth in time to the beat. The chords cascade, slow build, and he pulls out flourishes to match, hips teasing forward, then low sways to the floor, stretching himself out, showing off but still close to decent; he straightens again and spreads his arms wide, entire body undulating liquid. Fluid. Flexible.

The music gets faster with a change of gear to something a bit more violent and outright filthy. Tony opens his eyes and whirls, hips gyrating, hands roughly caressing his chest and thighs, until he finds Thor, and sends him a smoldering gaze, teeth set in his lip; Thor’s lips part in response. Tony rubs his hands over his crotch, the lines where thigh meets hip, teasingly avoiding his cock, then catches the bottom of his shirt and, with a flawless spin, sweeps it up over his head. 

A loose swing of his arm behind his back, then snapping hard with the beat, whipping his own ass with the shirt, gets him the first audible gasps of breath from his audience. Tony grins, picks out Fandral and blows him a coy kiss, other arm half-hiding his face, before going back to the rhythm he’s set, flinging his shirt into a corner to leave both hands free to cup his ass and grind into the music. The gold chains adorning his torso sway and shine in the light from the arc reactor.

He’s fit enough for a few tricks, a smooth bend over backwards with a hand catching him just as he’s about to crash - it lets him meet Sif’s eye and lick his lips - then a roll sideways that leaves him almost kissing the floor before he swings his legs out, momentum carrying him around and up. A series of twists, flicking his hips out, shoulders going the other way, to make the gold chains snap from side to side, hands on his waist with his arms crossed over each other, tossing his head. His feet carry him around the floor with quick steps, letting him drift closer to the watching Asgardians in turn, a simmering moment of eye contact with each, and damn, they’re getting desperate. Mouths fallen open, leaning forward in their seats, tell-tale bulges in the men’s pants, Sif’s legs crossed tightly; Loki, finally grinning, lowers a hand to openly stroke his cock through the leather.

Tony dips to one knee in front of Thor, smooth elegance that makes the rest of the dance even dirtier, and rolls himself backward to rest his shoulders on the floor, back arched, arms splayed, eyes meeting Loki’s own even as he pushes his hips up towards Thor. Tony writhes his way back up to standing, straightens and reaches above his head again, arms crossing and twisting through the air, flicking his wrists with the beat. He licks along his left arm, starting at his shoulder and bending his elbow to bring his forearm into reach, slow and blatant, mouthing at the jagged cuff around his wrist, and finishing at the tip of his middle finger before sucking it into his mouth. 

Open groans of desire and want from the Asgardians, and Tony grins around his finger and swings his arms down again to slap his thighs and spin into a shimmy that would have any pants that weren’t skintight leather sliding off him.

He’s turning himself on by now, heat and the pounding beat of the music inside his head, blood charged with adrenaline and showing off. He uses it, frames his twitching cock with his hands and moans, hips grinding forward as he lets his hands explore, palming a thigh and sweeping through the sweat lining his chest beneath his gold drapery, fingertips barely slipping into the hem of his pants. One knee bends to bring him low, the other flaring wide in what’s almost a ballet move, and he curves further down to slap the floor and straightens up while dragging a hand along his body, palming his hardening cock along the way.

He hears the closing chords, gives a few final gyrations of his hips and throws himself to his knees on the floor, sliding towards where Loki sits. He arches back to stretch out his chest, braced on one arm, the other pointing skyward, hand twisted, fingers splayed. With the last note Tony snaps his head backwards to bare his collared throat.

Sudden, stunned silence.

Tony’s chest is heaving desperately, the reactor housing starting to ache, he can feel his pulse throbbing in his neck and his cock and he really, really wants somebody to say something already. With his head back like this he can’t meet anyone’s eyes, can’t see what they’re doing, can only kneel here, waiting for - permission to move, to break the moment.

He blinks and suddenly it’s the other way around, Tony holding all of them in thrall, completely frozen until he ends it. They’re all hanging on him, his word that it’s over, that there’s nothing else he’s going to give them.

He lowers his arms. “That was for you. This…” He tilts his head back down and stands, eyes on Loki, and takes two long, slow steps towards where he sits, sharp cheekbones flushed and thin lips parted, cock straining at his pants. “This is for me.”

Tony swings down into Loki’s lap and straddles him, slides one hand into his hair and presses the other to the back of the couch to hold himself up as he leans in and smothers Loki’s lips with his.

Loki surges up to meet him, fingers tangling in the thin gold chains hanging down Tony’s back, mouth hungry and desperate and hot; he kisses Tony like he’s been thinking about nothing else for hours, and it’s everything Thor and friends have been denying them for exactly that long. Tony can feel the sudden jealousy and awe roiling off their audience in waves, and it feeds all the force he puts into the kiss, the grind of his hips for them to see - it’s all for Loki, it’s always been Loki, and he’ll play nice with them but he’s not letting anyone question who he belongs to.

Tony breaks the kiss and stares down at Loki, eyes burning, and then presses his chest against Loki’s to whisper in his ear. “I’m going to suck you off right here where everyone can see, and you’re going to sit back and let me do all the work, and damn Fandral is going to stop thinking he’s got a chance with me. We good?”

Loki’s hand releases Tony’s chains and grabs him by the hair instead, yanking his head back sharply, and Tony gives a startled, needy gasp that’s not entirely faked for their audience. Loki’s eyes are dark with not just lust, but power - he’s loved showing Tony off since day one, loved proving how far Tony will go for him, has suggested things like this more than once… how did Tony not realize that this would be his biggest kink?

“If you like displaying your talents so much, you may put another to use,” Loki says coolly, deliciously mingled command and permission, and his free hand comes up to brush Tony’s lips; two fingers push into his mouth and Tony hums and flicks at them with his tongue, tasting salt on Loki’s skin. 

“That’s right.” Loki smiles and drops his hands away as he tilts his head up. His voice rings clear through the vibrating tension in the room for them all to hear. “Kneel.”

Tony lifts an eyebrow as he slips down and settles between Loki’s spread legs, and drops his voice to a confidential murmur. “You need a new catchphrase.”

The amused twitch at the corner of Loki’s lips promises some very enjoyable punishment later, and Tony grins as he starts to unlace Loki’s pants, stroking the thick bulge of his cock as he goes.

Fandral asks, strangled, “What are you-”

“Brace yourselves,” Tony calls over his shoulder, and pulls aside the leather, “because you’re about to really get a show.”

He tosses his head and dives in to swallow Loki down.

Musk and sweat fill Tony’s nose as he takes in Loki’s cock, eyes falling shut and tongue curling around the hot length almost by instinct. He’s gorgeously hard already and Tony savors the weight of him, sliding his mouth up and down, starting to suck gently. Loki drops a hand to cradle the back of Tony’s head as he exhales a breathy sigh, and someone watching gives an audible moan. Tony pulls back smoothly, swirls his tongue around just the tip and then goes down again, tongue flicking, turns his head for a better angle and takes Loki deeper still.

Thor gets out, “He’s quite good at that, isn’t he?”

Tony hears Loki’s grin. “You have no idea.”

He pulls his hand away and then orders, “More, Stark,” soft and steely and nothing enforcing it but Tony’s willingness, and Tony pushes forward and takes Loki into the back of his throat, crushes the little tickle that’s all that’s left of his gag reflex. Precome drips from the head of Loki’s cock and Tony swallows it, presses himself into Loki’s thighs framing his face, rolls his hips to grind his own hard cock against his pants, trying desperately for some friction. The Asgardians see it, groans echoing off the stone walls surrounding them, and if they like that - Tony flicks out a hand to catch their attention and then shoves it down between his legs to rub himself off through the leather.

Sif gasps sharply and Hogun mutters something that sounds like a curse; Fandral’s still managing coherent words. “You’re beautiful.”

Loki practically purrs. “Oh, yes, he is.” His hand runs through Tony’s hair. “And he’s all mine.”

Tony moans loudly around Loki’s cock in his mouth and thrusts his hips into his hand - oh, it’s good, firm strokes of pressure, the rhythm intoxicating in its own right, only adding to the high of the performance, the shamelessly wicked thrill of flaunting himself like this, knowing he’s being watched, that they can’t look away. Every person in this room wants him - but there’s only one he gives a damn about.

“Look at you,” Loki croons, as if anybody’s doing anything else. “You’re going to come like this, aren’t you?”

Tony bobs his head in a nod and works his hand faster - he’s been hard since the dance, it won’t take much more to…

“Mmm. I don’t think so.” Loki caresses Tony’s cheek. “Hands behind your back, Stark.”

Tony’s eyes fly open and he stares up - no way can Loki mean to cut him off twice in one evening - but Loki just stares back down, holding onto his control by the tips of his fingers, but holding it, and he arches an eyebrow. I’m waiting.

And everyone’s watching.

Tony drags his hand off his cock and folds them both behind his back, as ordered, one hand wrapped around the opposite wrist above the cuff, and it’s completely worth it for the incredulous gasps from his audience, and the smugness radiating off Loki.

Still. Two can play at this game.

If Tony shifts his foot just right - oh yeah, right there - he can rock his cock and balls down onto the heel of his boot. Action, completely hands-free.

Loki strokes Tony’s cheekbone with his thumb, reward for his obedience, before pulling his hand away and pushing his hips forward ever so slightly. “Back to it, then.”

Tony’s eyes fall closed again and his hand squeezes his wrist as he sucks Loki down, warm, throbbing flesh filling his mouth, tongue laving the underside and breath hissing desperately through his nose, five gazes thick and hot on his back. His hips keep rolling in curt arcs, leather pants perfectly tight and his heel exactly what he needed to keep going. His lips press to the smooth skin at the base of Loki’s cock, and above him, Loki leans back and spreads his legs wider to give the others an uninterrupted view, palming Tony’s wide-open jaw just once as if to ensure their attention. 

Tony revels in it. He can feel their need, their captivation, hear the harshness of their breathing in time with the rutting movements of his hips. Half-naked and draped in gold chains, kneeling at Loki’s feet, shown off to Loki’s friends as a prize beyond measure - Tony gasps and sucks harder, wrings a shout out of Loki, writhes to get more pressure on his cock - used and dominated and owned, and all because he wants it-

The orgasm rips through him in jagged lines, rough like a punch and sending his head spinning. Through the pounding blood in his ears he hears a disbelieving murmur and Loki’s answering laugh, sinks into the firm support of Loki’s thigh and sucks mindlessly at the cock in his mouth, ecstasy making him clumsy. But he’s not done yet and he wants to please Loki, wants to be good, to finish the job - he makes a pleading noise and swallows Loki down completely.

Loki’s hips stutter up and his hand pins Tony’s head in place for him to thrust into his mouth, and Tony moans and lets him, breaths forced back down his throat, hands twisting behind his back. Loki’s moving in short, fast snaps of his hips, cock plunging in and his balls slapping Tony’s chin.

“Yes, yes,” he gasps, “so good, Stark-” He drags Tony down and his cock pulses and he comes, flooding Tony’s mouth with it. Tony struggles to swallow around the head of Loki’s cock, tasting his come thick and dark, feeling like it fills him. Loki’s hand fists in his hair to pull him back, and Tony blinks his eyes open to watch Loki take his softening cock, shining with Tony’s spit, in his other hand, and paint the last few drops of come onto Tony’s lips; the sheer filthiness of it lights up every cell in his body.

Loki draws in a slow breath. “Quite the show, Stark.” His eyes flick up at the others for the briefest instant before returning to Tony’s. “Are you finished?”

Tony nods, and takes Loki’s proffered hand to pull himself back to his feet. His body’s loose and pleasantly tired; it’s been one helluva day from start to end, and after stuffing his face to make up for skipping lunch, he’s really going to enjoy curling up in Loki’s giant bed and passing out.

He turns around and sweeps a partial bow at the Asgardians, all of them staring and worked up and surely starting to realize that Tony’s going to leave them that way. “And that, gentlemen, milady, is how we like it on Earth.” He shrugs. “How I like it, anyway. Food ready yet?” He licks his come-smeared lips blatantly. “What’s for second course?”

Okay, that’s a cheap shot, but what the hell, he’s in that kind of mood.

Thor stands up, wincing as his pants compress his erection. “Yes! Come, my friends!”

Shouldn’t be a problem. Tony fights the grin off his face. 

The others rise with varying degrees of discomfort and make for the door. Fandral and Sif cast a last, longing glance at Tony as they go; Loki smirks at them and laces his pants back up languidly, well-fucked and smug about it. Tony lets the grin out, and collects his shirt from the corner where he flung it, grimacing a little as his damp underwear chafes his cock.

Loki strolls over to Tony and offers him his coat back. “An… inspired performance.”

Tony gives him a cheeky wink. “You inspire me.”

Loki quirks his sincerely-amused smile as Tony makes himself decent again. 

“But really,” Tony adds, settling his shirt sleeves so they don’t catch on his wrist cuffs, “you know it’s all for you, right? I won’t deny I’m trying to earn points in their good books, but I only care about that so I can stay with you.”

“I know,” Loki says, reaching out a hand and running his fingers along where Tony’s neck meets the collar. “And while you choose to bear my claim, all will know it. Fandral will flirt with anything that responds with a smile, and Thor has always appreciated a willing body, but they know you gave yourself to me.” His hand wraps Tony’s neck, grounding and secure. “You are under my protection and none will touch you without your will or mine. And if they do, we shall make them regret it. Exquisitely.”

“You say the sweetest things.”

Tony pushes himself in for a kiss, and Loki sets his fingers under Tony’s chin to tilt his head up and give it to him. It’s slow and deep, tongues and lips slick and warm, Tony’s eyes falling shut as Loki takes over. Loki’s hand skims down his back, pressing through the leather and fabric to make the thin chains dig into Tony’s skin - ownership, shiny jewelry, it’s all the same thing and Tony’s loving all of it - and Loki’s other hand settles around his neck again, thumb stroking the jumping tendons as Tony kisses back, rising up on his toes.

Loki breaks the kiss, hand around Tony’s neck oh-so-carefully tightening and pushing him down. “Come,” he whispers. “Thor will be waiting for us.”

“I kinda doubt that.”

“Nevertheless.” Loki drops his hand away, leaving Tony’s neck cold in the air, spins on his heel and heads for the door. Tony takes a moment to ogle the way Loki’s armor makes his posture absolutely fucking perfect before he follows.

They enter the feast hall - massive ceilings, columned walls open to the air outside, somewhere on the hundred-billionth floor of the palace - just as Thor and Co. are slamming their tankards together in a loud toast with way too much spillage. Tony arches an I cannot believe this shit eyebrow where nobody can see, and takes his seat beside Loki at the end of the table where none of the mead has landed.

“Celebrating, brother?” Loki inquires as he reaches out to various platters of cut meat and fruit and breads, and starts loading up his and Tony’s plates.

Thor, still standing from the toast, roars a laugh and strides down to their end of the table as the others sit. “Indeed! I know how to show Father I am fit to be a king!”

Loki’s expression doesn’t change, but Tony feels him go very still. “And how is that?”

“If he will not give me Asgard, I shall take my own realm.” 

The name stabs through Tony’s chest before Thor even says it.

“Midgard.”

Chapter Text

No.

Under the table, Loki’s hand grips Tony’s wrist, nails digging in like talons. Silence, Stark, Tony can practically hear it. Like he’s stupid enough to shout down Thor

Like he could manage a single word if he wanted to.

Thor goes on without a single glance at Tony, as if he hasn’t realized whose world he’s proposing to invade, and that’s - how dare he just think entire planets are things he can play with, that he can slaughter every soldier Earth’s got and just be sorry the fun’s over - and it hasn’t even crossed his mind that Tony might have something to say about this?

But behind the incandescent fury rising up, Tony’s painfully aware it’s a good thing that Thor’s overlooking him, that everybody’s overlooking him, that he’s so far in with Loki nobody’s even questioned Tony’s right to overhear Thor’s battle plans. He’s included in this appalling venture and as sick as it makes him feel that they all think he’s the type of guy to get behind this, he’d be far worse off if they turned on him. 

No, he needs them to give him time to stop this.

“What better way to prove that I can rule? I shall win the war I started and be just to my people afterwards. When Father returns from Jotunheim I shall have Midgard to offer him, and when he sees my rule there he will have no reason to keep Asgard from me.” Thor grins and reaches down to clap Loki on the shoulder. “I have waited for my coronation too long, brother. Help me take it."

“Thor…” Loki’s hand is firm around Tony’s wrist, but the other hesitates in the air without returning Thor’s gesture. “I’ve waited to see that day as long as you, but - Father bade us make peace with Midgard. I signed the treaty myself. And dare we leave Asgard when Father left us here to defend it?”

Thor throws back his head and laughs. “I rule Asgard in the Allfather’s absence, and I will make war with who I wish.” He turns to meet the eyes of the Asgardians seated around the other end of the table, and then looks warmly at Tony as well before returning to the whole room. “We are noble, valiant warriors, all of us, and we deserve better than to be punished because Jotuns trespassed here! Will we cower under the edicts of one old man, or will we take what is ours?”

They all look at each other and grin, nodding, their eyes lighting up; nobody’s paying attention to Tony yet, but in any case he hides his face behind his wine as if he’s drinking a toast. Quietly. 

“Besides,” Thor adds, and gives Loki a wink like this is all some big joke, “there will be peace when I rule, won’t there?”

The death-grip of Loki’s hand on Tony’s wrist loosens and he runs his fingers soothingly over the stinging indentations left by his nails - stay put - before rising from the bench to stand with Thor. “Thor, King of Midgard,” he says with a smile, rolling the name over his tongue. “It does have a ring to it.”

From the corner of his eye Tony catches the excited rapture on the other Asgardians’ faces and hopes that decades of handling board rooms and press conferences is keeping his own revulsion hidden. Thor, King of Midgard.

Not happening.

“So long as it has a ring to Father’s ear, I will be satisfied,” Thor says. “But he is mad if he expects me to sit here patiently and do nothing while he conquers Jotunheim!”

Expecting you to take his orders while he’s still king, yeah, that’s really crazy.

Loki smirks agreement. “You are not known for your patience, indeed,” he teases, and laughs when Thor smacks him in the shoulder.

“Come!” Thor shouts to the others, raising his arms. “We feast, and then we fight!”

They come together in a clash of back-slapping and Asgardian wrist-handshakes and hearty cheers, and Tony’s head pounds with the noise and the simple fear of another onslaught from these guys, his body aching for the armor he was wearing just an hour or two ago in the sparring courtyard, but even with it he’d never be able to stop the Asgardians, not all six of them-

Five.

Loki lays a hand on Tony’s back and leans down to speak in his ear, and desperation surges up in Tony now that nobody’s watching, nobody’s listening to the two of them - “Loki, you-”

“Go to my library and fetch the maps of Midgard I brought back.”

Six… 

“What? You can’t let this happen-”

Loki hisses. “Do not ask that of me.”

No. God, no! “No, you promised me-”

“Do you think I have forgotten what I promised you? Do you think I don’t know this conquest would cost me everything you offer me? Your trust and your smile are worth far more than another empty victory for my brother. Did you not hear me speak against this from the start? So do not ask for this - trust that I already have it in hand. And fetch the damned maps, while I plot to destroy my brother’s only chance of being crowned this century.”

Nice to see that Tony isn’t the only one to get ruthlessly sarcastic when the world’s falling to shit. “Maps. Plot.” Trust. “Gotcha.”

Loki exhales a harsh breath. “Your love for your world excuses this lapse, Stark. I will not forgive others.”

I fucked up. “Got that too.”

Loki sighs again. “Trust me,” he pleads in a whisper, presses a shaking kiss to Tony’s ear, and straightens up and joins the others in their feast, swinging himself down onto the bench between Thor and Sif and grabbing a chunk of bread with a predatory grin as if he couldn’t be more excited to get started. 

Trust me.

Tony finally stands up on legs that are only slightly weak, and heads to Loki’s apartment to get the maps. 

~

Trust. Right.

Casually leave Earth’s fate in Loki’s hands and sit back and wait for the outcome. 

Tony has kind of a mixed track record with these sorts of things - there’s a part of him that’s accustomed to Pepper handling everything important for him and is happy to let Loki take down his brother in Tony’s name, and then there’s the part of him that Stane fucked over that isn’t ever going to let something like that happen again, and is screaming for Tony to take matters into his own hands and do something about this.

Thor. Earth. Fuck, that’s going to be an awful mess. They barely survived him the last time and he was only playing then; without the week off to recover, to move, to bring up new equipment and train the soldiers in advanced hand-to-hand, Earth’s going to fall apart in a matter of weeks. Sure, it’s only six of them this time, but the numbers really don’t matter when they’re immortal. Maybe the damage done will be smaller, but then there’ll be the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, and it won’t ever stop. Nothing Earth can do will so much as slow the Asgardians down, and eventually SHIELD and the UN will work out that the only way to stop the world’s entire collective armies from being wiped out is to surrender. 

Six aliens taking over the planet singlehandedly. It doesn’t even sound impossible, not anymore, not after Tony’s seen more than enough evidence that they’re capable of it. 

And Tony can’t let that happen. That was the deal. He killed Fury and blew up the only weapons capable of holding the Asgardians off, and now SHIELD doesn’t have a hope of pulling some defense together, not with their seriously decimated resources and Hill having only a week’s experience in the hot seat. Tony made Earth vulnerable to this and that means it’s his duty to protect it.

But that’s exactly what this whole time has been about: he might have let himself go and enjoyed his new workshop and Loki’s company and considerable other attractions, but the pleasure’s totally irrelevant. What’s really been going on is ensuring that Loki’s so wound up in Tony that he’ll do anything Tony asks, including saving Earth for him.

Again.

Hell, if Loki was willing to start a war just so he could have Tony all to himself, he’s got to be willing to stop one before it starts! 

Willing, yes, but that’s not really the problem here, is it?

Sure, Loki’s going to try, Tony does trust him that much, but if he fails… If Tony’s the only thing standing between Thor and seven billion people…

Say goodbye.

And for all Tony’s practice at shoving Loki aside for Earth’s greater good, something behind the arc reactor cringes at the thought of losing him now.

Because these past four days on Asgard have been some of the best of Tony’s life, and it’s not fucking fair that it could all go up in smoke, not fair that he might have to sacrifice everything he’s built with Loki for some miserable planet that hates his guts and doesn’t even care that he’s happy here…

But what if he doesn’t do that?

What if Tony just… If Loki doesn’t stop Thor, what if Tony doesn’t either? Screw Earth, Tony’s done enough for them, Fury had it coming and Tony can do what he wants, and what he wants more than anything is Loki-

More than seven billion people alive and well?

Could he? Could he just stand by Loki’s side and watch Earth burn? Take the easy way out, retreat into selfishness and lose absolutely nothing?

Except my humanity. What’s left of my self-respect. The ability to look myself in the eye. To sleep at night.

To not feel guilt every time I look at Loki.

No, Tony doesn’t have it in him to sit back and watch people die again. He doesn’t remember how not to care. However fucked-up he might be, there’s a functional human being in here, and he can’t condemn Earth to a slow death under Thor’s heel. 

Not even to stay with his… whatever the hell Loki is to him. 

No, if Loki fails, Tony will have to do something himself.

Tony rolls his eyes at the massive gold columns lining the hallway. Like that’s going to work.

Seduce Thor into staying off Earth, like he did with Loki? Nope, there’s no way Tony can pull that off in one night, and Thor’s trying to impress his daddy - sleeping with his brother’s warprize isn’t going to be an acceptable substitute. Not to mention that Tony’s queasy just at the thought of letting Thor have him, and Loki would kill him afterwards anyway and Tony’s not entirely sure he’d blame him.

Assassinate Thor before he can get to Earth? Tony would never get close enough to Thor to kill him, even if he did have a weapon that was sure to work, and even if he had that, who’s to say that Loki wouldn’t destroy Earth in revenge? No, that’s exactly what he’d do if Tony struck at Thor - utterly destroy what Tony cares about in return. And Tony could never kill both of them. Whichever one he took out first, the survivor would definitely see Tony coming to finish the job, and Earth would still fall. 

Somehow warn SHIELD of what’s coming? Yeah, Tony’s sure had the chance to crack the intergalactic teleportation systems in the four entire days he’s been here, he knows exactly how to get past that giant guy with the sword standing guard on said intergalactic teleportation system, and SHIELD would totally believe their escaped traitor. 

Tony shakes his head and shoves open the heavy doors separating Loki’s wing from the rest of the palace. Maybe this is why nobody suspected him of having the slightest interest in protecting Earth instead of invading it: either way, there’s fuck-all he can do about it. This isn’t a place where Tony’s wealth and fame have people falling over themselves to do what he says. This is Asgard and he’s already played the only card in his hand. But Loki won’t fail, Tony has to believe that, that Loki can handle Thor somehow, because there is literally nothing else to do.

Hell, he told Romanoff there would be nothing he could do.

You’re a goddamn certified genius. Think of something.

And keep your head down until Thor’s off the Kill All Humans kick.

~

“Where is Midgard’s capital, Stark?”

Heavy tankards are pinning down the corners of the map of Earth spread out across the table, slightly hampered by Volstagg’s constant efforts to drink from them. Tony leans past him and comes to stand beside Thor, and summons up all his ability to fool people into thinking he’s doing what he’s been told.

“You’ve got a couple of options here,” Tony says, and jabs a thumb down on D.C. “That’s not exactly Earth’s capital, but if you ask the Americans it’s close enough to it. Take them out first and you send one hell of a message. Alternatively there’s New York and Geneva-” A finger on each, and heads turn to the new sites, “which are the major offices of the UN. That’s probably the closest thing we have to a world government. On the other hand, if you want to start with a high-profile target, you could try Beijing.” Tony points there, or possibly at Shanghai, he can’t tell since this map was stolen at some point in the Indian part of Thor’s last invade-Earth campaign and Tony can’t read any of the writing. “Beijing’s big. Prove you can get through them and a lot of people will sit up and take notice. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure you’ll get a reaction just by showing up.”

Tony inhales behind his strategist’s facade. “Because given the way Earth’s still recovering from your last attack, if you say you want to be in charge and you give them a chance to surrender, I think they’ll take it.”

Nobody dies. Give Thor a throne in the UN building and a shiny palace somewhere, call him king, celebrate annual Thor Day, and it’s over. How much ruling could the guy actually do, anyway? He’s a meatheaded jock who’s never stuck to anything boring or political, and less so anything that’s both, if Loki’s to be believed on the subject. Earth can promise Thor - ‘King’ Thor - that all the dull stuff will be taken care of by experienced lords or whatever they’re called in a kingdom, the politicians step back in, and the world will keep turning just the same.

He’d rather give Earth to Thor than see it broken while they fight over it.

Come on, Tony thinks desperately, trying not to turn and stare at Thor and bore into his brain by sheer force of will. Take the easy option. Throne on a plate.

“And where is the glory in receiving a gift?” Thor says, and Tony’s heart sinks all three hundred floors down to Asgardian sea level. “What tales would be told of us, what songs sung? There is a mighty battle to be had before we are through!” Thor thumps Tony in the back and grins around the table at his friends, and Tony glares down at the map and grits his teeth before he screams, but everyone’s going to die and there’s nothing he can do- 

Loki’s fingers ghost across the back of Tony’s hand under the pretense of investigating some detail in South America. 

Tony closes his eyes and breathes out through his nose. Trust. It’s not too late yet.

“Where would you say is the best terrain to allow Midgard’s commanders to amass a large army?”

How about Antarctica?

The Asgardians fall into discussing tactics, and Tony stays silent and lets them; these plans will never be used, Loki will make sure of that. 

It’s not too late.

~

It sure feels too fucking late when Thor finally calls it a night and ‘dismisses them to prepare for the dawn’; Fandral, Hogun and Sif head for the sparring courtyard and Volstagg loads up a massive tray with the remains of the semi-abandoned feast down the table from the map. Tony stares after them and swallows before he can hide the nervous tic. Dawn really doesn’t seem that far away when Loki still has to pull this entire thing off, and not only change Thor’s mind somehow but also stop it from being changed back by the enthusiasm of his four buddies. 

Seven billion people at stake, and Loki’s standing around doing nothing.

He collects the conscripted paperweights and deposits them further down the table while Tony folds up the map and tries not to think about the people there, real people with lives, families, who deserve so much better than to be playthings for a race of warrior aliens, to die because some power-hungry prince thinks it’s fun-

“Calm,” Loki murmurs, pressing close to Tony’s side; he reaches for the map with one hand and settles the other between Tony’s shoulderblades.

Tony does not fucking calm, he’ll panic if he wants to, and this, right now, this is a really good time for panicking, watching Thor grin triumphantly to himself and swig beer out of a tankard the size of Tony’s head - god, how can Loki possibly counter how much Thor wants this?

“Stark,” Loki says, digging into Tony’s back with his fingertips. “Don’t let this destroy you.”

“Soon as I know Thor’s not about to destroy my planet, we’ll be good,” Tony shoots back under his breath, and Loki sighs to concede the point, thank fuck, because Tony needs him on-side more than he’d like to admit. Not just to save Earth.

Loki slides his hand down Tony’s back and hooks it around his hip, and gives a possessive tug that tucks Tony against his body. “Come,” he says, a little louder, letting Thor overhear that much. “To bed.”

Thor glances up at them. “Actually, Loki, I would speak with you. Alone,” he adds with a little glare at Tony. 

Private conversation, huh?

“Of course.” Loki squeezes Tony’s hip before gently ushering him towards the door. “Go. I’ll join you shortly.”

“Sure,” Tony says, and heads obediently through the wide archway, turning towards the left and Loki’s apartments. 

And the second he’s out of sight he presses himself back against the wall beside the arch, concealed and close enough to hear everything. Like hell is he just going to leave when there’s something so secret going on Thor’s only telling Loki about it; serious business he’s not even sharing with his friends, and something he definitely doesn’t want Tony to know about. 

“Midgard has little stomach for battle,” Thor says. “It will be simple enough to shove it down their throats until they surrender. It will not be long with my Warriors at my side, and your tricks to give our arms rest. I am quite sure victory will be mine before Father finishes with Jotunheim.”

“Best hope so, or he’ll return to find you defying his command to hold the peace.”

Thor groans. “Enough of that! If you fear him too much to join with me, say so.”

“Oh, I’m not letting you have all the glory.”

“That’s the brother I want,” Thor says with a grin in his voice, and a thump that might be his hand on Loki’s shoulder. “And I promise you, there will be glory enough for a thousand songs in your honor.”

“Indeed?”

“When Asgard is mine I won’t have time to rule Midgard well. You’ll be my regent and take possession of it for me, won’t you?” Thor laughs. “You like Stark well enough. Think of having them all at your command!”

A very unpleasant chill creeps down Tony’s spine and settles sick and cold in his stomach. That’s not just some victory for Thor, that’s a throne for Loki - everything Earth has to offer, handed over on a silver platter…

That’s worth a lot more than one stupid warprize, right? Loki might not have minded keeping Earth out of Thor’s hands, but when it’s going to be in his…

The sound of the astounded glow in Loki’s voice isn’t exactly reassuring. “Brother, I - yes, of course!”

Oh, this isn’t good.

Loki never does say no to Thor’s face, does he? If Loki dedicates himself to Thor’s new conquest he’ll gain Thor’s respect, he’ll be king of his own world and Thor’s equal at last, he’ll know for a fact that Thor turned to him for help - all those things Loki wants that Tony can’t give him. Loki’s long-term plans have always centered on Thor…

Together we shall bring my brother to his knees.

Doubt, trust, doubt, trust… Tony can’t decide which one’s hurting more.

“Good!” Thor says, and slaps Loki’s shoulder again. “I knew I could count on you.”

“You want to give me a realm, Thor,” Loki laughs. “Do you think I’ll refuse you?”

Yeah, I was just wondering that myself. Ah, bitter sarcasm, balm for Tony’s soul. Not that he feels any better.

“You might. Last time you all but refused to come to Midgard at all.”

“Yes, when it was nothing but idle entertainment for you. But this time we claim your throne.”

“Two thrones,” Thor says proudly. “Now go. I will see you at dawn.”

Then Tony hears Loki’s boots coming this way, and he should probably move, shouldn’t he…?

Too late, when Loki strides through the archway and gets all of a yard into the antechamber before he sees Tony; his face goes expressionless and he beckons Tony sharply to fall in behind him. Tony feels a swoop in the pit of his stomach at his lack of welcome; has he actually caught Loki planning to trade him in for Earth? 

Tony sits on that for now, swinging into line like he doesn’t have the slightest doubt that Loki was faking the whole thing. “So what’s the plan?”

Loki says nothing, his hands knotting into fists by his sides, and Tony feels the levity drain out of him.

“Okay, you’re pissed at me-”

Loki spins, grabs Tony’s shirt and swings him into the wall, Tony’s back slammed to the stone faster than he can blink, Loki’s face just inches from his, teeth gritted and eyes burning with anger. “Why are you still here? How dare you beg me to save your world, and then stand here and throw yourself in Thor’s path - have you any idea what would have happened if it had not been me who caught you spying? You reckless, mortal - you should be dead, you fool-”

“Whoa,” Tony manages, getting his hands up between them, “hold up a minute, where’s all this coming from?”

“What have you done to me?” Loki hisses in agony, and his head falls to Tony’s shoulder. “What have you done?”

“Uh…”

“Thor seeks to crown me in glory and it repels me. I could have an entire world to my name - my own world, Thor would give me a throne, I would have a whole realm kneeling at my feet, not at my brother’s as I twist his will to mine - and it is not enough. For you I would throw all of this away, I cannot bear to think of taking it - for you, and you do not even…”

Tony swallows, no clue how to get out of this or what he’s supposed to be getting out of. “Don’t what? Cause you know I won’t turn you down when Earth’s at stake-”

“Silence!” Loki howls, raw and broken, and shoves Tony back and spins away, hands grabbing at his hair. “You cannot sell yourself to me! Do not make these gifts you offer me into - I will do this for you freely, Stark, do not force it from me.”

Oh, for- “Thought you hated the idea of doing this freely, what were you complaining about a second ago?”

Loki rakes his hands through his hair. “You have no idea what I speak of!”

“No, I don’t, so how about you try saying it!”

Loki stops dead, and then laughs softly, hands falling limply to his sides. “I am not fool enough to waste my time in trying again.”

Again? “Well, I clearly didn’t get the message, so really you’re just giving up because it’s not dead easy. Which is a pretty pathetic way of doing things, especially for you.”

Tony’s words cut into Loki like a knife; he turns to stare at Tony over his shoulder, and the haunted cast to his features strikes Tony cold. He’s desperate, slashed open, all this pain in his eyes that Tony hasn’t seen since that night back in Russia.

“I have given up on nothing,” Loki whispers finally. “For all I suffer for it.”

Suffer? “Hang on, what are we talking about?”

Loki sighs, and shakes his head. “It will not matter if Thor is not stopped. To work?”

There’s still a hook in Tony’s chest, the big emotional something refusing to be ignored for good, but he nods. “Okay. What’s the plan?”

Loki’s hands fan out across each other, fingers splayed as he thinks. “Volstagg has a wife and children, very dear to him,” he says eventually. “He was parted from them for half a year during Thor’s last campaign, and he will not be pleased to hear of another so soon. Hogun may be swayed to sympathy for you; Asgard’s conquest of Vanaheim was… unpleasant. Their interests can be made to align with ours, and Thor may stop to consider the opposition of a united front.”

That’s nowhere near good enough. “But what if he doesn’t? What if they don’t agree with us? They sounded pretty loyal to Thor back there. Admittedly, so did I, but still - Hogun signed up with Thor while his own planet was being attacked. Why should he give a damn about mine?”

“Do not condemn me to failure before I have tried.”

“I’m not, just - there’s two of us here, okay, let me help! I’m not useless, I can do something! If you don’t stop Thor-” I’ll lose you. “I’m gonna have to.”

“Give me one chance,” Loki says. “I cannot oppose him openly, but I will stop him.”

He moves closer, and closer still, and suddenly he’s pressed against Tony’s body and his arms are around Tony’s back. “Please,” he whispers in Tony’s ear. “Let me do this for you and I will give you everything you ask. I will not let him take you from me.”

“Is that ever not going to be a threat?” Tony asks. The not-knowing, the insecurity, he can’t… “How many times will we have to do this? We’re patching up symptoms here, let’s lance the damn infection already. You said we’d make him stop being an asshole.”

“Give me time. Do you think humility will be taught him with a stern word and a beating?”

Tony snorts. “Have you tried a really big stick?”

Loki chuckles. Tony smirks into his neck, and his arms come up to wrap low around Loki’s waist. Standing like this, it almost feels like it’ll be okay. Loki stopped Thor before, he’ll do it again.

“There is something else I could do,” Loki says then, low and somehow cold, and Tony feels the rising moment of hope stutter to a halt. “More certain of success, but… You would not allow the depths I must go to, for any cause less than this.”

Certain of success. Tony knows there’s more to it but he doesn’t have the energy to decipher Loki’s archaisms right now; he grabs the core and runs with it. “Don’t care. Whatever works, okay? Keep Thor off Earth, stop him from killing more people. Just make him leave them alone. You with your - your plots and the pranks and the complicated schemes to make Thor look like an idiot next time he eats a banana, they’re great, but I don’t have time for that, Machiavelli, you need to make this work today.”

“Stark-”

“Tomorrow at the latest.”

“I remember the terms of our agreement,” Loki says into Tony’s hair. “I will not lose you by failing to uphold my part.”

Tony’s skin chills. He knew it, knew where Loki’s priorities lay, is perfectly happy to exploit them, but there’s something else about hearing them said right out like this. Loki’s not a good guy, he doesn’t give a damn about the lives on Earth, the only thing he cares about is Tony, and while that sounds awesome on paper, having that much dedication focused on him… If not for Tony, would Loki just watch seven billion people be enslaved?

And here Tony stands, embracing him.

But Tony doesn’t have a choice; it’s let Loki save Earth for him, or - well, there is no or, is there? No acceptable alternative. So Tony had better stop getting so prissy about Loki’s motivations when he’s giving Tony absolutely everything he wants. Tony doesn’t need Loki to have compassion, to care about Earth, when having a hard-on for Tony will get the job done just as well.

And let’s see you give one fuck about Asgard before you judge.

“Damn straight,” he says, trying to drive the message home and make sure Loki goes through with this; it comes out sounding weak and regretful, like Tony wouldn’t want to call things off. And he doesn’t want to lose this any more than Loki does, but once Thor reaches Earth it’s already gone.

Not yet, it’s not.

“Then I will do this. Thor will not set foot upon your world.” Loki lets him go to brush Tony’s hair back from his face. “I’ll come for you at dawn.”

Tony nods, because what the hell else can he do? “Okay.”

Loki runs the backs of his fingers down Tony’s cheek, eyes flicking between Tony’s. The touch lingers like he can’t bear to break it - if he fails then this could be the last time they-

Loki spins on his heel and strides away, leather coat flapping around his legs, boots striking the marble hard.

Tony exhales a heavy breath, fingers twitching like something important just slipped through his grasp.

But what’s supposed to be more important than stopping Thor?

~

Apparently Asgardian engineers keep regular working hours, and don’t just hang around ready to start at a moment’s notice no matter what time it is, which takes the poor guys down a few rungs in Tony’s estimation and makes him wonder if he could build a new bot out of the remaining suits, not least because without Dummy bringing him smoothies, he’s pretty hungry. But for now, on his own, Tony’s miniaturizing a plasma repulsor into something handheld that he can carry around when the suit isn’t an option, like when it’s awaiting a team effort to repair the damage it took during the fighting this afternoon. 

When he and Loki could still joke about pointing knives at each other and Loki introduced Tony to his mother. Only this afternoon since his life got turned upside down again, less than a week since the last time, and he really should be used to this by now. 

Well, he’s clearly not, since he’s hiding out in the workshop trying to pretend his situation away. Again.

On the other hand, he now has a really awesome plasma handgun that he’s actually capable of lifting.

Tony flips the gun through his fingers, admiring its perfect balance and the streamlined, aggressive elegance of the exterior, a gun that can kick ass and look good doing it. It might even be able to leave some slightly painful burns on an Asgardian.

Assgardian. Heh. 

Well, Tony’s Asgardian too, now, by some estimations - you know, he only lives here and he’s got a prince to overrule anyone who says otherwise - which makes the name of Iron Man sound a little weak. Iron Asgardian? No - Asgardian-Man. I got bitten by an Asgardian, and now I have superpowers. Tony rubs at the back of his neck above the collar, fingers stroking what are indeed the faded marks of Loki’s teeth, and grins to himself; he’s been a lot more than bitten. Sexually-transmitted superpowers!

Imagine Spider-Man having to explain that.

Tony sets the gun back down. He’s itching to try it out, but he’s also not stupid enough to test it in a lab he doesn’t know - safety protocols, lockdown procedures, is there even a fire alarm in here? Dummy would’ve been all over this test.

Tony smiles. By now, Dummy’s probably managed to get away with building his own projects, and Tony’s picturing a fire extinguisher with a repulsor on the bottom, so it can fly to wherever the fire is, except that the closest source of heat would be right underneath it, so there’s this fire extinguisher spinning in midair frantically spraying foam onto itself, and Dummy whizzing around the workshop feeling astonishingly proud of his achievement. Nobel Prize right there, buddy. 

And, if there’s casual intergalactic travel going on - and Thor doesn’t destroy the planet and SHIELD recognizes Asgardian diplomatic immunity - maybe Tony can talk Loki into a summer vacation in Malibu?

Loki lounging next to the pool while Tony wears a skimpy bathing suit and brings him cocktails…

No, it’s Tony’s house, Loki should be bringing him cocktails! So - surly Loki, playing at taking his servitude poorly, gagged because Tony got sick of his acidic comments, glaring as he passes over a perfectly-made martini and drops to his knees to massage Tony’s feet, digging his fingers in just hard enough to be painful but not quite hard enough that Tony can be bothered telling him off for it…

There’s a slam from the door behind him and heavy footsteps - hey, Loki’s done, is it dawn already - and Tony spins around.

Not Loki. Thor.

Uh-oh.

He marches down the stairs to the shop floor, bare arms bulging, armor light and not the kill-everyone-now armor, giant hammer absent - all good signs against imminent murder that don’t stop Tony’s heart from going into overdrive and his body tensing, fingers practically burning with awareness of the gun resting just inches away, close enough to grab - and then get himself killed for sure.Thor’s convinced Tony’s an ally right now, and Tony’s not about to tip him off, no matter how much he wants to shoot him right in the forehead. “Hey, big guy. What brings you to my neck of the woods?”

Thor’s eyes sweep the table behind Tony, taking in the detritus of inspiration and the gun by Tony’s hand, the armor spread out on another table. “It seems you do not mean to oppose me when I take Midgard.”

Tony swallows hot anger. Loki’s stopping him. It’s not happening. “Midgard pretty well kicked me off it. I’m with Loki now. If he’s with you, I’m right th-”

“I know not what stories Loki has told you,” Thor growls, pacing closer, an undercurrent to his tone that has Tony’s hand twitching across the table, “but I am no fool to believe that a week in my brother’s bed is enough for you to abandon your former allegiance.”

“Honestly, I wasn’t all that allied with them to start with-”

“Half a year you fought us and now you would give your world away?”

Steel flicks up Tony’s spine. Every muscle in his body is rigid with the effort to stand his ground. “If you’re accusing me of something, just say it.”

“You spoke well enough of your support in our councils.” There’s absolutely no note of praise in it. “But I would expect talented lies to come from one chosen by Loki. And you knew full well that if you spoke for Midgard, you would have been the first of your people to die.” He comes closer still and Tony’s heart pounds. Any second now…

“Yeah, but supposing I wasn’t lying? Maybe I meant every word, how about that? Loki pulled me out of jail, you think I’m dumb enough to forget what I owe him?”

Thor shakes his head. “I cannot trust you.” He stops with just a foot of space between him and Tony, staring down, forcing Tony to crane his neck to look him in the eye. “I should kill you.”

Calm focus snaps down and the world filters into crystal clarity. No more pretending, no more hiding behind his smile, and Tony must be crazy because he’s relieved to finally get to fight. His hand tenses, ready to move. “Then why am I not dead yet?”

“Because I have a better use for you.”

Tony jumps back and snatches for the gun but Thor’s fast - his fist pounds Tony’s hand flat to the table, crushing the feeling out of it and sending the gun skittering across the floor. Thor swings an arm at him and Tony ducks the first grab but goes straight into the second, and the room blurs with movement before Thor’s arm is wrapped around Tony’s neck in a thick stranglehold, Tony pinned to that enormous hard chestplate that doesn’t give an inch as he’s held back against it, choking for air through the pressure on his throat. His hands are scrabbling at Thor’s bare arm but it might as well be made of solid rock, and Tony’s efforts are completely futile as Thor drags him backwards to the door. Tony kicks and punches but Thor’s completely unyielding, and blackness starts to creep into Tony’s vision and his head’s spinning with lack of air, he needs to breathe-

“Loki called you a gift,” Thor says over the roaring in Tony’s ears as the workshop disappears. “If I break Midgard’s peace, I cannot keep their gift.”

“Don’t- don’t, I’m-” Tony doesn’t even know what he’s trying to say, he’s Loki’s, he’s Thor’s, whatever Thor will listen to and forget this whole plan, what the hell is he talking about-

Oh, fuck, they’re all here, Sif and the others lurking outside the workshop and they all turn on Tony, and when he kicks Fandral in the crotch it feels like his foot breaks, and it does nothing to stop anyone including Fandral. He flails but hands grab his wrists and yank them down and then they tug at his cuffs - “Oh, don’t you fucking touch those!”

“They’ll still fit,” someone says, and cold metal is slapped on his wrists, binding his hands, and then there’s more around his ankles, and it’s heavy - it pulls him down and they let him drop to the floor.

Tony lands hard in a heap with a clatter of metal against the stone and looks down at himself to see his hands cuffed together, ankles manacled with a short length of chain between them, a chain leading from that to his handcuffs so he can’t even pull his hands up, all of it heavy and harsh and nothing like what Loki gave him - he’s unmistakably a prisoner now, the chains humiliating and secure and cruel, and there’s no fucking need for it, he couldn’t fight back if they armed him and gave him a free shot!

Honored guest back in the camp, yeah - this is a prisoner of war.

“Cease your struggles,” Sif says, sounding disgusted. “We mean you no harm.”

How do they not choke on their bullshit? 

Tony actually spits at her feet. “Loki’s going to kill you, you assholes, what do you think you’re doing?”

“You are an enemy soldier,” Hogun says. “Loki will do nothing.”

You fuckers have no idea what he’d do for me - god, Tony wants to throw that in their faces, but he can’t out Loki as a traitor, can’t give him away when he’s right now doing something to stop Thor from reaching Earth-

He’s getting a little too close for comfort, here!

“I’m his enemy soldier, isn’t that how it works?”

Nobody answers as they seize him and haul him up to his feet, his heart pounding, and he finds himself facing Thor, scowling down at him. “Gag him if he will not hold his tongue,” Thor says, and turns to march down the corridor. “Come! To Midgard!”

And somehow that hits home.

Loki’s not going to make it.

~

The world is spinning like Tony’s on the tail end of an engineering bender - it’s only been a day since he last slept or ate but it’s been a very intense day, and getting beaten up hasn’t helped any - when he hears Loki’s voice.

It’s cold with absolute outrage and anger on his behalf, and Tony feels a thrill of appreciation even if it’s worthless now, means nothing when Loki has failed in the end, when Thor isn’t going to stop and Earth’s going to fall.  

Still. That’s Tony’s prince.

“Take your hands off my prize.”

Tony smirks. “Told you so.”

Volstagg and Hogun, dragging Tony between them, jerk him to a halt, and the group turns around to see Loki standing there in the center of the rainbow crystal bridge, head high and shoulders back, all imperious and simply waiting for his orders to be carried out.

And any other day Tony would be completely confident in his impending release, but not today.

Thor shakes his head. “He is an enemy, Loki.”

“He’s mine!

“Like I said.” Tony glances at his escort and grins. “Told you so.”

Hogun slugs him in the stomach.

Tony coughs and doubles over, choking and retching, but there’s the comforting ring of Loki’s shout of “STOP!” in his ears, and no more punches come.

Volstagg scoffs. “We make war on his world and still you hold him dear?”

“As he holds me,” Loki says icily. “He has done nothing against us. I suppose you all set upon him without the slightest act of betrayal on his part?”

Tony feels the sting of guilt strike them deep and takes the moment to straighten up and tug his arms free of the restraining hands. “You know, that’s exactly what they did.”

“Be silent,” Thor growls, and steps forward to lay a hand on Loki’s shoulder. Tony almost facepalms. Here we go again. 

“I cannot leave him free, brother,” Thor says. “I cannot take that risk.”

“But there is no need to go this far. If you doubt his loyalty, leave him here! Under guard if you must-”

“And who is to guard him? Our men are on Jotunheim and we make for Midgard.”

“Heimdall’s eye-”

“Is elsewhere! I thought you would prefer this to my killing him. Besides, he will serve a useful purpose here. If Midgard resists me for too long they will share his fate. Let them see what they have to fear!”

“To Midgard!” a new voice shouts, and the others take it up, a roar of sound that batters Tony almost physically, and he feels his fists clenching in the cuffs-

“Here,” Sif says, and shoves Tony in the back, throwing him across the bridge; the chains trip him and he stumbles - no, no, where the fuck is the edge - straight into Loki’s arms, Loki down on one knee to catch him. “Since he’s yours.”

Loki doesn’t answer as Sif turns and marches down the bridge with the others, his hand warm on Tony’s back, fury pouring off him in waves. “Are you hurt?”

“Takes more than that to hurt me.”

“Yes, the way you cannot stand and struggle to breathe attests to that.”

Tony inhales deeply just to show him, and only fights down one urge to heave. “Pretty stupid question then, since you’ve already got an answer.”

“Ha.” Loki’s hand strokes down his back. “Can you walk?”

“Oh, you don’t know the answer to that one too?”

“Fine.”

Loki moves him, standing Tony upright and sliding a steadying arm around his back, the other hand under his shackles to take their weight, and walks slowly enough that Tony’s not brought up short by the chain between his ankles. The Asgardians are charging on ahead, slapping each other’s backs and laughing; vague echoes of their voices drift back, all jolly and excited, and Tony can feel the heat of his glare searing his eye sockets, his mind sharp and burning for a target to cut into.

“I really, really want to kill them right now.”

“I am not feeling so merciful.”

Of all the things to have left. Loki does care - fat lot of good it is now, but he does. He’s risking everything in standing by Tony and there’s zero possible payoff except for Tony’s continued loyalty to him. 

Not that Tony can give him that. Much as he might want to, he’s got a higher duty; Loki’s failed and that leaves Earth in Tony’s manacled hands. Great. 

“So what’s going on here?”

“Thor says you are of Midgard, and our enemy to be fought and defeated like any other. He wants you for a symbol of his ascendance, Midgard brought low.” Loki runs a finger over Tony’s bare wrist, above the shackles and slipping under his sleeve, the first touch of skin on skin. “But I will not yield my claim to you so easily.”

I meant, what’s going on with you letting Thor slip past you?

Too late now.

They approach the giant bronze dome at the end of the bridge; inside it, Thor and the others are arrayed in front of the portal as it warms up with flashes of light, and the gold-armored giant is standing on the dais, point of his massive sword disappearing down between his feet. 

Loki moves forward, a hand reaching back for Tony’s cuffs, towing him. “Stay behind me.”

Tony rolls his eyes as Loki pulls him through the ranks of the others. As if he’s going to try flaunting his prized status now

“About time,” Thor grunts.

“He’d walk faster if you hadn’t chained him,” Loki snaps, and looks away sharply, giving Thor the cold shoulder. The hand wrapped around Tony’s cuffs is white with tension; Tony feels the same knotted in his stomach. He’s lost, Thor’s going back, Tony can’t think of how much blood is about to be on his hands…

I’ll have to get away. Contact Jarvis, contact SHIELD, tell them what’s coming, maybe it’ll be soon enough to make a difference…

Thor throws his head back. “Now, Heimdall!”

Lightning launches itself between the disks mounted on the walls, and the room starts to spin slowly, gears grinding, gaining speed as they move into position. The portal flashes, light brightening, the machinery groans-

Something shoots out of the portal and Loki throws Tony through the air. 

Tony hits the deck hard, Loki standing over him with knives in hand and shouting to the others as a dozen armed hostiles erupt out of the portal to Earth, all wearing heavy armor that looks like a cross between SWAT tactical gear and - Iron Man.

How the hell did they get that?

How did they get here?

More soldiers are coming through, forming up and supporting the ones already engaging the Asgardians - Sif and Hogun are back to back, taking on a whole ring of them, Loki’s fighting four at once and still keeping them off Tony, the big gold guy in charge of the portal has come down to join the fight, but their side is still getting pushed back by heavy gunfire and repulsor blasts and the sheer crush of the bodies piling in, overwhelming in numbers when the Asgardians have no backup.

What the fuck is happening here?

One of the humans is thrown to the ground by Loki and lands only a few feet away from Tony, and Tony hurls himself across the gap to slam his hand down on the manual hard reset lever in the thigh plate and twist it before the guy inside can get back up. These suits were based on Iron Man, the reset’s exactly where he’s expecting it to be, and the power shuts down for a two-minute reboot sequence, the suit freezing completely and all the weapons off. 

Tony flinches as another body lands beside him and whips his head around to stare at Loki, does he mind - and then Tony really does just stare, because Loki’s standing there like a warrior angel, stunningly beautiful in the middle of the battle, not that this is the moment to be appreciating that, but Tony figures nobody will notice. Loki’s surrounded by groaning bodies, his knives slick with blood, his jaw set and arms blurred and eyes blazing as he takes out vulnerable hydraulics and joints in the suits of the soldiers attacking him. Repulsor blasts are finding their mark in return, and Tony can see Loki’s in pain, his teeth gritted hard, but he holds his ground and doesn’t even slow down. His moves are tight and efficient, letting him maneuver despite the numbers crowding him, and they’re dropping like flies, staggering back into the mass of bodies for new men to take their place, and he’s a whirl of fluid elegance bringing them down too. Fuck, that’s hot.

Loki kicks one soldier in the chest and sends him flying through the air above the battle, into the portal to just - disappear.

That thing’s still open?

But Loki’s also still alive and looks to stay that way, so Tony turns back to his downed soldier and disengages one of their gauntlets, stripping it off their hand - whoever’s inside tries to fight back but with their arm completely immobilized inside the armor they’re not winning. Once disconnected from the central computer the gauntlet warms itself back up in a second and Tony shoves a hand inside it. He’s nearly blocked by Loki’s cuffs - this isn’t a model that compensates for his bondage jewelry, how inconsiderate - but he gets far enough for the gauntlet to refold itself around his hand, and then he crawls up the soldier’s body until his restraints let him reach the faceplate, and he rips it off to get some answers. 

Romanoff. Just my luck. He grins at her. “Agent, what an unpleasant surprise!”

She scowls back, trapped in the suit that’s now a metal coffin. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“I was about to ask you the same thing, how did you get here?”

She doesn’t waste time refusing to answer. “Foster and Selvig had a breakthrough on taking control of the beam from our end, all we needed was Asgard to fire it.” She gives Tony a lethal glare. “We’ve been waiting for this since Loki signed that peace treaty.

Tony shoves his chained wrists at her. “Use your eyes, I had nothing to do with that! I tried to stop Thor from coming back, like you wanted! He’s taking Earth for real this time, and behold what happens to those who fuck with the new order.” He gives the chains a satirical little jangle. “Hey, when he takes you idiots down, we can be prison bros again!”

“Stark-”

“So what’s your play here?”

She rolls her eyes. “To show them that coming back to Earth is a bad idea.”

“Well done, message received,” Tony says, scanning the room - the numbers are really staggering now, some pulling the wounded back to safety under the cover of their comrades, organized, coordinated - well-armed, and where did they get the schematics to rough up new suits like this? 

Then he spots the logos on Romanoff’s chest, staring him right in the face: US Armed Forces, SHIELD, and HammerTech. Rhodey, you son of a bitch.

Tony’s fists clench and he looks away, and sees-

Loki!

He’s caught up in hand-to-hand with three hostiles at once and that means he’s completely missing the one behind him - the one raising an Asgardian sword and about to plunge it into his back-

Tony’s armored hand flashes out, fingers arched to load maximum firepower, and he shoots the soldier straight through the neck where the armor’s weak.

The body crumples to the floor, sword landing beside it just inches away from Loki’s feet. 

“What the hell are you doing?” Romanoff shouts, but Tony ignores her, heart hammering at the near miss, at what almost…

Nobody touches what’s mine.

And it’s not just Loki with the close calls, all the Asgardians are looking desperate, Thor struggling to get the room to swing his hammer, Volstagg reduced to brawling - all impaired by their stupid short-range weapons that need space to be effective, while the humans can shoot everybody from a distance and are climbing the walls to get clear lines of sight. Repulsor blasts are flying thick and fast, actual burns appearing on the little exposed skin the Asgardians are showing, smoking marks left on their armor. 

Tony turns back to Romanoff. “How the hell did Rhodey and Hammer make suits powerful enough to-”

Her suit reboots with a hum and then she blasts away, boot repulsors discharging against the wall and sending her back into the fray. Tony snarls in frustration but there’s no point in chasing her, and he’s not sure he wants an answer to that question anyway, not when it’s inevitably going to involve Rhodey having hacked the saved caches of Tony’s specs and given them to Justin fucking Hammer. 

Hell with it.

Tony takes extremely rapid and cautious aim at the chains binding his ankles and fires, blasting them apart - he’s still left with the extra cuffs around his ankles but at least he’ll be able to walk now. He bends his hand down and shoots out the manacles around his wrists too, freeing them from each other, and now he resembles something like a human being instead of a meat sack.

Tony throws himself back towards Loki, takes up a protected position on the floor and against the wall behind him, and aims for the primary power supply in the chest of each suit that gets too close to Loki, forcing them to retreat. Loki’s holding his own against the ones left, moving so fast that by the time somebody shoots at him, he’s got a human shield to take the bullet, and when they drop he’s flicking knives out to down the shooters.

And he’s not letting any of them get through to Tony. Which, as the most defenseless person in the room, he really appreciates.

Then Tony’s hit by a wall of sound - somebody blowing a fucking air horn - and the Asgardians flinch, and in one coordinated swarm the humans turn and make for the portal, disappearing as fast as they came in. The Asgardians pursue and hit up against a human barrier - the rear guard of about two dozen guys, holding their ground while the others escape behind them, dragging wounded and incapacitated. The ones left close hand-to-hand - fucking noble last stand, nowhere near enough of them to survive this and they’re falling already, the Asgardians cutting them down fast, but the others are escaping faster, and the portal closes behind them and then Thor kills the last man standing with a sickening crunch of hammer through chest.

There’s a gurgle of someone’s blood-filled throat, and then silence.

Tony picks himself up off the ground slowly, leaving the company of the dead bodies lying on the floor around him, his heart thundering and movements unnaturally smooth with adrenaline and focus. The Asgardians lower their weapons by inches, all of them splattered with other people’s blood, but certainly not as much as Tony’s seen in the past. Their burns are already fading, by now just irritated red marks, but clearly significant enough to have slowed them down.

The six of them are staring at each other blankly, looking for answers as to what the fuck just happened here, and god knows Tony wants some of his own - he doesn’t care how many breakthroughs Foster and Selvig had, they were working on this project for months during the war and got nowhere, there’s no way they achieved this overnight, and he’s got to take some of these suits apart and find out what the hell they’ve done there. Less than a week and they got up to this?

Thor straightens from crouching over the last body, and looks around the group. “Where’s Heimdall?”

Tony’s brain grinds to a halt. Six Asgardians. 

And as one their eyes fall on Tony. The enemy prisoner, busted out of his handcuffs, allied with the soldiers who just captured one of their own.

Oh, fuck me.

Chapter Text

Thor storms across the room straight at Tony. “How?

Tony jumps backwards and trips on the trailing chain around his ankles. “I don’t-”

Thor seizes his shoulders and slams him back into the wall. “How did they get here?”

“I don’t know!”

You lie!” Thor roars, and then that enormous hammer is right in Tony’s face, still streaked with blood, Thor’s hand white-knuckled on the shaft and his arm bulging under his silver scale armor. “Tell us what you know!”

“Okay, okay!” Tony throws his hands up, his palm burning to repulsor Thor in the face but he can’t, not with all of them right there-“I don’t know how they did it exactly, Romanoff said they took control of the portal from their end and came through this way. That’s it!”

Thor scoffs. “Impossible.”

“That’s what I thought! I don’t know, maybe she was lying. Being interrogated in the middle of a fight, she probably was lying! But that’s all she told me, I swear.”

Thor scowls and Tony doesn’t do anything but breathe as they stare at each other, and keep staring, because it’s balanced right now, Thor not coming up with anything worth killing Tony for and so long as that doesn’t change, so long as nobody gives Thor any ideas…

“They must have had help.”

Okay, yeah, I jinxed myself there.

Heads turn at Hogun’s voice. He’s standing away from the group, between Tony and the exit, clearly a backup guard position in case Tony tries to run. He’s holding a spiked mace deceptively lightly in one hand, the other resting open against his thigh, fingers still, calm like an animal about to strike. He continues in his bland matter-of-fact tone as if he’s not condemning Tony, “They could never have taken the Bifrost without aid.”

“Nor taken Heimdall,” Sif says, and the point of her sword pricks under Tony’s chin. He jerks his head back and nearly blacks out from the impact with the wall, pain radiating thick through his skull, consciousness swimming out of his grasp, but he needs to stay in control here, has to get himself out of this… 

“Will you witless oafs think for once in your lives?” Loki strides past the others, shoving them aside, pushes Sif’s sword away and lays a hand on Thor’s arm, not daring to move him but certainly asking. “Thor, stop. He can’t tell you anything if you kill him, and won’t tell you anything if you force it from him.”

No, no, Loki can’t be on Thor’s side-

And,” Loki adds viciously, “I think you’ve harmed him without cause enough today.”

Tony exhales. That’s more like it.

But having Loki’s support doesn’t do much good when Tony’s surrounded by five murderous Asgardians, all an inch away from killing him. His heart’s racing and his body’s painfully exposed and vulnerable; the single stolen gauntlet on his hand feels light and insubstantial and useless against all of them, he can’t possibly take them down if this turns nasty…

Volstagg says, “If he brought them here, we cannot trust anything he says. Better to kill him now.”

“And if he remains loyal to me and has done nothing?

“Which is the case, I’d like to point out-” Tony shuts up under the force of five combined glares and the weight of Thor’s hammer pressing against the arc reactor. 

You will be silent.”

“Enough of your suspicion!” Loki snaps at Thor. “Heimdall would have told us of his betrayal had he made one. He has not left Asgard, and even if he wanted to he could not have! We must focus on our real enemy. Who is to say the Midgardians could not strike again at any moment?”

Tony tenses as Thor raises his hand - and claps it down on Loki’s shoulder. “Brother, he’s Midgardian. A week ago he was prepared to die in that world’s defense! You yourself called him a mighty warrior of Midgard. Can you truly swear he has done nothing?”

Yes! All last night he was in my chambers-”

“Is that so?” Thor’s fingers tighten. “Then why is it we found him in the smithy, arming himself with weapons that could strike all of us dead in one blow?”

There’s a beat of motionless silence where they stare at each other, and then they turn towards Tony in eerie sync, Thor’s face resolute and fierce, Loki’s twisted with genuine fury - oh shit, he didn’t actually know about Tony going to the workshop, did he? Tony didn’t get the chance to tell Loki that and that does look dodgy, and - did Tony actually make something that could really kill them all? 

That’s bad right now!

Loki demands coldly, “Well, Stark?”

Thor snorts. “Still you would hear him speak? He’s already deceived you. Do not give him the chance to fool you again.”

Loki flicks his eyes at Thor. “He’s my prize. Or my prisoner. Mine either way, and yes, I would hear him.” He looks back at Tony and raises an eyebrow in invitation. An order.

And Tony’s good at taking Loki’s orders.

There’s no point in trying to convince them he’s innocent - their so-called evidence is too strong and a bit too much of it is accurate, and that only leaves him one way out. 

Tony shoots Thor in the crotch with the stolen repulsor and kicks Loki in the chest with the foot trailing the heavy length of chain, which whips up and catches him in the face, sending both Asgardians staggering back. Tony ducks the swing of Sif’s sword and spins to jam the repulsor against the wall, prays it’s stronger than it looks, and fires with everything he’s got.

Tony goes flying backwards, hurled through the air past the others and straight through the arched doorway to the bridge. He rolls into the landing and scrambles up with an absolutely hideous plan that would have Pepper ripping her hair out, but they’ll catch him for sure if he runs so he spins around and holds his ground.

The Asgardians are charging out of the dome towards him, weapons drawn, and Tony lifts the repulsor and aims right into the middle of them. “Stop right there!”

They actually do, hesitating, looking to Thor for instructions, and Thor hefts the giant hammer but doesn’t come any closer, and Tony shifts his hand to aim directly at him. “That’s more like it. Now, here’s how this is going to go-”

An arm snaps around his throat from behind and he’s yanked back sharply, crushed against someone’s chest, and Loki’s voice hisses in his ear. “Nice try.”

The Loki standing just behind Thor disappears in a wave of gold light - magic, but that means this is the real one-

Tony drops his armored hand and shoots Loki in the thigh, but the repulsor just splutters, dead, and Loki throws Tony down. The bridge slams into his back and the next instant Loki plants a foot in his chest to pin him, painfully hard but missing the reactor. “So you did betray me for Midgard.”

It’s cold and incandescent with anger, too much anger, like he means what he’s saying, like he believes that Tony- but he can’t believe that, he’s got to know a lie when he hears one, and Tony had to do something and Loki could have given him a fucking hint if he had any better ideas!

But Tony can’t say any of that with the others within earshot, so he just glares up at Loki and plays the hand he’s dealt himself. “You wanna talk betrayal? You’re the one about to attack Earth!” He whacks at Loki’s leg with his arm. “Get off me.”

Loki actually steps back, and Tony climbs to his feet and brushes himself down, and tries to breathe through the tension of waiting for what’s next. He’s doing everything he can and he’s still not in control of this…

Thor comes up beside Loki, the others watching warily behind them. “That weapon - you planned to kill me in Midgard’s defense?”

Tony grins. “Two more minutes and I woulda been ready for you. Kinda disappointed I missed the chance for an even fight.”

It’s all bullshit - not even good bullshit, considering how fast he’s had to come up with it - and he wasn’t planning on Loki buying it, but Tony can’t afford to care about that right now, even if Loki does think Tony was up to something here. Right now Thor’s the threat, and it’s got to be easier to direct his delusions somewhere useful than to try completely changing his mind. Thor’s going to see an enemy and Tony will give him one - one he can respect, laugh off the attempt on his life, and move forward.

Just like Romanoff.

Back in Russia she tried to kill Thor and wound up with him fawning over her even more, because that’s what Thor’s about - people who fight back, people who don’t roll over and let him take what’s theirs, people who make it a challenge. Victories he has to struggle for, victories over foes who are worth defeating, victories that mean something - because without them, from what Tony’s seen, Thor’s life is pretty damn meaningless. So here’s Tony, offering himself up as the guy who made a weapon strong enough to blow a hole through Thor’s chest - and yes, he is awesome, by the way - to be stuck on a pedestal as the ideal enemy.

Well worth trying to bring back on-side.

I’m Tony fucking Stark, adore me!

Thor drops the hammer to the bridge and reaches out for Tony - and claps him on the back hard enough to make his knees buckle. “A warrior of cunning and deceit, are you not? Truly, you are a fine match for my trickster brother!” He grins widely and shoves Tony forwards, making him stumble straight into Loki’s arms. “All yours.”

Tony pulls back and looks up, a cheeky smirk on his lips, but the icy blackness in Loki’s eyes stops him dead. Does Loki really think - he must know Tony was lying, that even if his gun is that powerful Tony wasn’t going to shoot first…

Loki hooks his fingers under Tony’s chin and forces his head back sharply. “I knew there was more fight in you.” 

The words should be teasing but they’re not, and Tony rakes his gaze over Loki’s face, searching for one twitch, a wink, the lift at the corner of his mouth that’s a real smile - or, hell, the same distant fury he wore when he meant to kill Tony on Earth, just so Tony will know what he’s thinking, but there’s nothing

What’s going on, what’s Loki up to? What’s Tony’s next move?

Loki’s calling the shots now, just follow his lead.

But if Loki does believe what Tony’s saying, believes that Tony planned to kill them all and that Loki meant nothing to him once Earth came under threat again - if he believes that Tony lied to him and betrayed him, then this is the third time they’ve come to that and there’s no way Loki can be stupid enough to give him another last chance…

Tony makes himself smile invitingly, defeated warrior offering himself to the victors, Asgardian warprize to the bone. “Let’s face it, you’d have been disappointed if I hadn’t fought back.”

Loki’s hand slides over Tony’s cheek, fingertips tracing an arc around his ear. “Had you fought back? Yes, I would have been pleased to put you in your place. But you wanted to kill my brother, Stark, and that-” In a flash Loki’s fingers are around Tony’s throat and tightening, and - no, no no no - “That does not please me at all.”

Tony grabs Loki’s wrist and shoves him in the chest but he doesn’t give an inch. Tony’s heart pounds, air supply cut in half and hissing through his throat, hanging powerless in Loki’s grip and struggling frantically anyway because he doesn’t know if Loki’s faking. “Lo- don’t-”

Thor’s hand smacks down on Loki’s shoulder. “You are too cruel to him, brother! If he chose Midgard over you, you must be failing to satisfy him somehow. Show him the error of his choice and you’ll have him again.”

“Shall I forgive his intent to take your life?”

Thor shrugs. “He’s a challenge to conquer, isn’t that what you wanted? Don’t cast him aside over that.”

Loki snarls through his teeth but he lessens the pressure on Tony’s throat anyway, and then yanks Tony in to press their bodies together, Loki’s lips at Tony’s ear. “And this is your choice, is it? Midgard’s warrior?”

Tony rolls his eyes. “I made the damn gun, what else do you want me to say?” What else would Thor and his cohorts believe? And it worked, shouldn’t Loki be happy that Tony isn’t dead?

But Loki pulls back with anger burning in his gaze, his jaw clenched, and his fingers spasm on Tony’s throat before he rips his hand free and spins away. “Throw him in the dungeons while I decide what to do with him.”

What the fuck?

Fandral’s eyes go wide. “That’s a bit harsh, surely!”

“We made war on his world. What else was he to do?” Volstagg says, glancing at Fandral in agreement. “But we cannot get to Midgard now. He has no more cause to oppose us.”

Loki’s already striding away down the bridge. “I don’t trust him to honor that. You heard me!”

His fingers swirl and the gold light of his magic flares around him, and he’s gone.

Thor sighs fondly and shakes his head. “Ah, Loki. Quick to be wounded and very, very slow to forgive.” He offers Tony a smile that looks like genuine friendship, two guys standing in the aftermath of Loki cracking it. “When your chance comes, I suggest you take it. Loki’s forgiveness is a rare gift, not to be wasted lightly.”

If it’s that rare, can Tony even hope for it?

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Thor nods, and glances at the other Asgardians, their weapons lowered and their shoulders slumped, actually looking sorry that Loki and Tony have - what, broken up? “Find him a cell. But be kind to him. Loki will forgive him one day - make sure there’s something left of him by then.”

~

Tony will say this for prison: it gives you a lot of time to think.

Of course, he’s trying to avoid thinking about anything else that comes with prison, like the way he’s trapped in a space maybe four meters square that feels like it’s shrinking the more he paces, or the blinding white light coming out of the walls, or the creepy transparent front wall giving him absolutely no privacy. Not that there’s anyone out there anyway, no patrolling guards and no prisoners in the other cells, courtesy of Volstagg insisting that Tony get a floor all to himself, but that also means that there’s nobody around to stop Tony from going mad and talking to the air.

And he hasn’t eaten or slept at any point in the last twenty-eight hours and he’s starting to feel it, his body urging him to lie down and stop moving and get some rest

Yeah, like that’s happening. Talk about nightmare fuel.

Because the more Tony avoids thinking about prison, the more he’s actually thinking about what led up to this. The soldiers, the suits.

Rhodey.

At MIT he was never in Tony’s league, but come on, who was? Tony’s man enough to admit that he’s not quite the only person with intelligence in the world, and with the entirety of the world’s military R&D divisions behind him, Rhodey’s definitely capable of producing the suits that showed up here. Because he’s not a complete asshole, Tony put encrypted Iron Man plans on file at SHIELD, to be released if he died so the world wouldn’t go down with him; Rhodey had plenty of time to hack into them and learn from the master. He’s easily smart enough to have thought of taking his own damn copies onto paper before Jarvis wiped the server with the Clean Slate protocol, and god knows Tony let him close enough to learn a lot more from him personally. Hell, SHIELD’s probably had Rhodey working on his own suits for months; makes sense for them to have a backup plan that didn’t involve getting their entire arms supply from Tony. 

So Rhodey and the army guys came up with all the brains they didn’t steal from Tony, and then the manufacturing was turned over to Hammer, who had money, factories, and was scared shitless of the Asgardians, and was still up himself enough to insist on branding every suit with his logo. Tony’s almost sorry he missed Hammer running around like a headless chicken trying to get the suits produced in time to stop the Asgardians from raiding his southern French villa.

And after everything that happened, Rhodey wouldn’t have had the slightest of second thoughts about handing Tony’s schematics out to anyone who asked for them.

They’re not just going to go away, Tony! We have to fight them, there’s no other choice.

I am fighting them, what do you think I’m doing here? 

There are a billion civilians in India and every one of them is under threat right now. We need more than just you. Your suit’s the only thing that’s even slowing them down! We need more!

Rhodey, I can’t. I’m sorry, but I can’t. Not after Afghanistan, you know what-

I have good men and women dying out there because you’ve decided your conscience is worth more than their lives. You need to get your mind right. I thought you were trying to become a better man. 

Okay. I did it. First shipment is in SHIELD’s hands tomorrow morning. You happy?

Tony, it’s been six weeks. Six weeks! Have you got any idea how many of my guys went out there completely defenseless? It’s too late.

Come on-

Don’t. Just don’t.

So Tony didn’t. 

What it is with him and being incapable of keeping his friends? He lost Pepper to SHIELD’s nuke, lost Yinsen to the Ten Rings, reassigned Happy somewhere far away from the Asgardians whether he liked it or not, let Rhodey down and called that damn Independence Day protocol on Jarvis.

And now he’s pushed Loki away too. 

Tony turns on his heel and leans back against the wall to stare upwards at the white ceiling, and indulges in the pity party of contemplating exactly how much he’s fucked up his life. Again. He honestly won’t be surprised if Loki never comes down here looking for him, never wants Tony back after the shit he pulled this time. Even if he didn’t actually mean to. Tony knows he’s an enormously talented faker, that’s really all he is half the time, but he didn’t expect Loki to buy it.

Tony’s not that good, is he?

Good enough to pry open all of Loki’s vulnerable cracks around anything to do with loyalty in general and Tony’s in particular?

Shit.

Especially after what Loki did for him.

Hogun was right: there’s no way Selvig and Foster pulled off this stunt without help. And Tony knows that Loki swore to stop Thor from reaching Earth, and then disappeared for the entirety of last night - and however close he came, Thor didn’t get to Earth in the end, did he?

Loki did this. He went to Earth and somehow showed them how to come through the portal to Asgard itself. Broke every rule in the book to give Tony what he needed. Saved them all.

But the more Tony holds to that, the more it burns him.

Loki’s idea of saving Earth, saving human lives, was to kill them here instead.

And it doesn’t matter that it succeeded, there has to be a line somewhere and that’s - that’s got to be over it. Loki - he uses people like they’re things, just takes what he wants and doesn’t care who he steps on along the way. He didn’t have the dedication or the guts to go after Thor directly, he dragged SHIELD up here to do it for him - how can that ever be okay?

Tony has to call this - them - off before it’s too late. That’s the decent thing to do, right? He can’t possibly be involved with somebody capable of starting wars and slaughtering countless people to get what he wants, that’s not - just not. Tony fucked up, bad, and he should take this chance to stay out of Loki’s way, shouldn’t try to fix the mess he’s made, shouldn’t even want Loki back, that terrifying cunning and conviction and…

Oh, who does he think he’s kidding? Loki’s well and truly under his skin, gold filigree veins threaded through his heart behind the arc reactor, and after doing everything in his power to tie Loki to him, Tony’s most certainly tied himself to Loki. He’s wound up his entire existence in making Loki smile and moan and burn with pride at Tony’s work, and for Tony to rip him out now would…

It wouldn’t go so great.

He has this godawful habit of having one person to be his complete focus, his magnetic north, his center point around which to arrange his entire life; he had Pepper and then he had Yinsen and then he had Pepper again, alive and dead, and after he avenged her he was really pretty lost. Suicidal, with nothing but death to live for. And then Loki came back for him and suddenly… hell, it’s like there was color in the world again. Hope. Life, lust, something he wanted.

Tony can’t lose him now.

God, he wants Loki back, wants things to be the way they were in those four days - those four fantastic, astonishing days together - before Thor declared war again. Tony needs the intensity and the challenge and the stimulation that Loki gives him, he’s never felt so turned on - and not just sexually, Loki lights up his neurons like a fireworks display worthy of a Stark party; the rudiments of Asgardian physics and armaments are just the tip of the iceberg of what they could do together. Loki’s never asked him to slow down even a little bit, and that makes him unique among everyone Tony’s ever known.

I was happy.

He was insane. He left Earth on Loki’s word, without knowing the slightest thing about Asgard or his future or Loki himself, really. 

But that’s Tony’s thing, isn’t it. He’s a Stark. He’s the Stark. He saw something he wanted and he took it and everything it had to offer, and never planned to let it go again.

And only now is he working out what it actually is that he’s got a hold of.

And he doesn’t even care.

Loki’s willing to do anything to accomplish his aims; he would’ve killed a thousand soldiers and not lost a second of sleep over them if that had been what it took to save the rest of humanity - hell, he told Tony that very thing back on Earth, didn’t he? I would have slaughtered a thousand men if that would have made you mine. And that’s - yes, it’s wrong, it’s messed up, and Loki’s proud of it… and Tony’s drawn to it like a moth to a flame. He’s not terrified by Loki’s ability to start wars, he’s transfixed, captivated, adoring. The sheer power Loki possesses in being able to do what’s necessary to get what he wants, to take what he wants - he can have anything.

And Tony’s the same, and he’s good at it, it’s just that he’s convinced himself to only want the things he’s allowed to have. He never had a problem with his weapons killing people, that was what they were for - he had a problem with losing them. But Afghanistan, Yinsen, something had to be wrong with Tony for that to have happened, and he tried to back off, tried to make himself into a new man, a better man, figured he had to earn what he’d already taken. And when his world was Pepper, he was actually able to start the process that might have got him there one day, and that - it had to be the right thing to do. But now Tony’s got Loki, and what’s going to happen when Loki doesn’t put limits on him, when he just stands there and smiles the further Tony goes, when there’s an interaction function between them and two factors are greater than the sum of their parts?

What is Tony Stark capable of? What’s going to happen if he gets the chance to find out?

Come with me, and see what terrible beauty we can wreak upon these realms.

Tony’s never been very good at resisting temptation.

Maybe it’s time to stop trying. 

Time to stop pretending to be a hero.

To admit that he couldn’t possibly have done any better than the brilliance Loki pulled off, keeping Thor away from Earth, stopping him from ever going back, the only deaths those of men who would gladly have died to save the world, and he did it all in such a way that not a drop of suspicion fell on him. Maybe Tony is honestly grateful for that, and knows he would have done the exact same thing if he’d had the power to, and is slightly turned on by such an awesome plan.

And suspicion fell on Tony, sure, but Loki knows him, and Loki knows he’s smart enough to get himself out of that.

Which he did.

So if all’s so well, why the fuck is Loki leaving Tony to rot in this cell?

~

Tony shoots up humiliatingly fast at the sound - yes, actual sound for the first time in fucking hours - of boots coming down the corridor towards him, but Loki can’t see him yet so it’s okay, and that’s also the reason he runs towards the clear wall of the cell.

“Loki-”

Tony’s hand touches the glass wall and just about burns off as the wall crackles and light erupts where he touched it, and the pain throws him to his knees, clutching his wrist and teeth clenched trying to block it out.

What the hell is that wall?

“My friend!”

Tony jerks his head up to see not Loki, but Fandral and Volstagg standing in front of his cell, Fandral at one side doing something to the wall, and then the glass just melts away - not glass at all, but a transparent form of that energy shield around the war camp. Volstagg strides through the gap and drops to one knee by Tony’s side, brutally tugs Tony’s hand away from where it’s tucked safe against his chest and forces his fingers open.

“Fuck off, that hurts-”

“But it’s not badly hurt,” Volstagg says, and lets Tony go for Fandral to grab him under the arms and drag him the handful of steps to the bed. Volstagg follows, carrying the two chairs from the small table against the other wall, sets them down and seats himself; the chair creaks in protest but holds up. 

“My apologies,” Fandral says, clapping Tony on the shoulder before he sits next to Volstagg. “I forgot to warn you not to touch the mesh. An Asgardian would have known, but…”

“Yeah,” Tony says through gritted teeth, and twitches his hand experimentally; now it feels like a bad case of sunburn, annoying as hell but definitely better than it was. “Fragile, ignorant human, I get it.” He blinks, looks between the two of them, and can’t help the stupid glance at the empty corridor confirming that no-one else came with them. “Not to sound like a whiny ungrateful brat, but where’s Loki?”

Fandral shifts uncomfortably. “Now that Heimdall is lost, Odin is stranded on Jotunheim and will receive no reports of Laufey’s movements. And the mortals may have found a way to activate the Bifrost themselves, and could return at any moment. Thor and Loki are trying to find a way to avert disaster.” He winces. “And telling the queen what happened.”

“Damn,” Tony says, part awed, part appalled, and mostly wondering what the hell this Heimdall guy has at his disposal that makes him the only person capable of interplanetary communication. “When Thor fucks up, he doesn’t hold back, does he?”

“This is not Thor’s fault,” Volstagg says, a hand raised. “Remember that. No blame can fall on him, or we may all suffer his punishment.”

Tony stares. “That is - absolute-” bullshit, he would have said to Loki, but there’s a tiny thing called restraint that he should probably bring into play with anyone else, especially when they’ve lowered themselves to coming to visit him. And were all revved up about being psychopathic murderers just this morning. “Uh. Sucks to be you.”

Fandral snorts. “Your people took the Gatekeeper. I would rather be Thor’s friend than his prisoner, when Odin returns.”

“Hang on, I thought Odin was stranded?”

“The Jotuns found another way here. Odin will find it too, in time. Be sure that he will return, and there will be a reckoning.”

“I didn’t do anything, didn’t you guys agree on that part? I’m a warrior, I was supposed to fight back! I’m only down here because Loki’s throwing a hissy fit.”

The two of them laugh. “Excellent phrase,” Fandral says with a grin. “I shall use it the next time he is overly petulant.”

Tony mentally smacks his stupid, mouthy self in the back of the head. These guys already disrespect Loki enough, Tony is not supposed to be enabling that. “Oh, yeah, please do, he’s been telling me about this spell he has that cuts threads so people’s clothes fall off them, and I’m dying to see it in action. Seriously, you try anything and he’s going to get you back with interest.”

And Tony has to pass on that idea for a prank.

Volstagg sighs and rubs his hands over his thighs. “Time in prison does seem a merciful revenge compared to some of his more personal attempts. There have been those who have sworn to never return to court. I suppose he can’t be too savage with you or you’ll refuse him when he releases you. Are you being treated mercifully, here?”

Tony looks around the cell and shrugs. “It’s not awful. The magical teleporting room service is interesting and tasty, so there’s that. Thought the peace and quiet would kill me, but turns out actually being able to hear myself think isn’t all bad, once I get around to thinking things I want to hear. Finally worked out what twin pairing is, though I’ve got no idea how you made quantum entanglement operate on a macro scale, because that really shouldn’t be possible and I’m still not convinced it’s not some let’s see how gullible the human is hazing ritual. So I’m okay for now, thanks for asking. Any word on how long Loki’s planning to keep me here?”

Because he’s not that okay.

They glance at each other and hesitate before either of them commits to answering. Not good. “Loki can hold long grudges, and he is… distracted at the moment,” Fandral says finally, words pulled out with extreme reluctance. “It could be some time before he relents. You did mean to kill his brother.”

No, I didn’t! Tony rolls his eyes. “There was a war on, what else was I supposed to do? And now there isn’t a war on and everything’s fine again, right? Isn’t that how it works here? You guys just - get over things like that?” But he doesn’t even know if that’s what Loki’s really pissed about at all, it could be something else or it could be completely faked or it could in fact be that he’s bought Tony’s lie - dammit, he’s got no data to work with down here, no way to make a useful prediction about anything if Loki’s going to leave him isolated… “Look, would you mind passing on a message for me? Tell him I’m sorry I’ve upset him and I want to talk about it.” Sort of. Mostly he wants to shout What the fuck are you thinking right now? and maybe get a straight answer out of Loki for once. If he’s capable of giving straight answers.

Tony didn’t even know that his little plasma gun prototype could kill an Asgardian. 

“Tell him I want him to forgive me. Maybe dress that up a bit, beg forgiveness on my knees, whatever you think will impress him. But I didn’t leave Earth so I could see the wonders of an Asgardian jail from the inside.”

Fandral smiles and leans across the gap to take Tony’s arm and give him a friendly Asgardian handshake. “I understand. Have patience, he will take you back in time.”

“He is vindictive when it comes to Thor,” Volstagg says. “Especially when protecting him. I remember one time - when they were young Thor insisted on training with the guardsmen as soon as he could lift a sword. He suffered a few injuries here and there, but for the most part the men were careful with him. But in one match Thor broke an arm and a leg - mighty wounds for any child to bear, even Thor. That night the barracks caught fire, not badly, but enough so the entire guard slept on the training grounds once the fire was extinguished. Then it so happened that a great storm arose from the clear sky and drenched them in freezing rain and hail. When the men ran back into the barracks seeking shelter, every one of them slipped and broke an arm and-”

“A leg,” Tony finishes, brain on overdrive. Holy shit, Loki’s good. All that, there’s no way he wasn’t behind every single part of that, and yet there’s also no way any of it could be blamed on him officially - a fire in a place that uses fire as a light source? Accidents happen. A storm? How could Loki have had anything to do with that - which begs the question of how he actually managed it - and then every guy slipping and getting the same injuries as Thor? It’s not like Loki was there pushing them over, but Tony would bet his entire fortune - if he still had one he could lay hands on - that they all broke the same arm and leg as Thor, in the same place and probably the same type of break. “That’s impressive.”

Volstagg shrugs. “Of course, Odin knew Loki was responsible - it could hardly have been anyone else - and he was punished, but that didn’t stop him the next time Thor was harmed. I think he took the punishment with pride, as if its severity credited the greatness of his deeds.”

Tony winces, and manages to work out that he doesn’t want to know the answer to the question Punished how? before he asks it, and keeps his mouth shut.

“Yes,” Fandral says, “Loki’s ire is a great and fearful thing, magnificent to watch…” He glances apologetically at Tony. “When you are not its object.”

“But he likes you.” Volstagg smiles reassuringly and heaves himself up to his feet. “He’ll be kind. As kind as Loki ever is, anyway. Good luck!”

He turns away and strides out of the cell, heading back up the corridor. 

Fandral rises too. “Forgive our haste, but Thor may have need of us. Be well, friend - oh! Fool that I am, I almost forgot this.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a length of thick black silk, and holds it out to Tony. “From Sif. We cannot darken the cell, as the lights are part of its wards, so she thought this might aid you in sleeping.”

Tony takes the silk; it’s light to the touch but absolutely jet-black, perfect for the job, and his exhausted retinas scream out for rest. “Nice. Tell her thanks. My compliments, whatever.”

Fandral gives him a vague warrior-like salute before marching out, locking Tony in on the way; a hand waved over the stone pillar dividing Tony’s cell from the next, and the glowing energy shield spreads across the open wall and settles before turning clear again. Fandral disappears from sight down the corridor, and then the heavy doors at the end boom shut and Tony’s alone.

He sighs and sinks back on the bed, running the silk through his hands. The Asgardians really do have insane capacities for forgiveness - just this morning Sif kidnapped him out of his workshop and then had her sword at his throat after the battle, and here she is thinking of Tony’s comfort in prison like there’s nothing bizarre about it whatsoever. They don’t do social roles, they do momentary roles, jumping from character to character as the situation demands - friend during peace, enemy during war, and back to friend as soon as the war’s over - and they don’t seem to think it’s weird at all that Tony just confessed, more or less, to being two minutes away from killing Thor. There was a war on. That was his job. If he’d done absolutely nothing, they would’ve thought less of him: either too weak to try, or too much of a slut for Loki to have any memory of loyalty to Earth - but they could get behind a warrior who still loved his home. Even Volstagg was on Tony’s side, without food being involved in any way. Tony’s from Earth, that’s how things are, and it’s up to Loki to persuade him a bit more thoroughly, so that next time Tony’s on their side of the war.

Tony feels a flash of guilt, because that’s never going to happen. He’ll never support Thor’s bloody takeover - and it’s not like this little interlude will make him forget about Earth, he’s going to try again eventually - and the longer Tony stays on Asgard, the more they’ll expect of him. He got away with it this time since he was on Earth less than a week ago, even Thor worked that out, but what about a year, two years, down the track?

Well, that gives Loki time to pull off his manipulate-Thor-into-being-less-of-a-dick plan, doesn’t it? Loki asked for time. Maybe two years from now Tony will be truly loyal to Asgard, because Loki will be driving it. Behind Thor, which is good because it keeps Loki out of the billion boring meetings that are involved with being in charge of anything and keeps him in bed with Tony, an important part of the plan. And once Loki has control of Thor, nobody’s even going to look at Earth sideways. 

Oh, god, I had better not be left sitting here until then.

What the hell is going on up there?

Chapter Text

“Wake up, Stark,” a voice murmurs in his ear, and Tony twitches out of sleep.

He’s just registered the unusual feeling on his face as the silk blindfold when it’s pulled away, and he winces in the flood of light before his eyes adjust and he’s staring at Loki, bent down over the bed and hovering there with a smile.

“About fucking time!” Tony shouts, and smacks him in the shoulder hard enough to make his hand go numb. “Have you got any idea how long I’ve been stuck here doing absolutely nothing? What the hell was the point-

Loki holds his hands up wearily and sits back in the chair still pulled up next to the bed. “Peace. I know exactly how long you have been kept here. I suspect it’s somewhere near to how long I have been cleaning up Thor’s mess for him.”

Tony subsides - yeah, Fandral said something about that, didn’t he - on that point. “Well, why lock me up while you did that?”

Loki affects an expression of mock surprise. “Why? You wanted my brother dead and you chose Midgard over me. This is where enemies of Asgard are kept, and you are one, aren’t you?”

Tony grinds his teeth and barely manages to answer the sarcasm instead of the words themselves. “I had to say something. You know it was all a lie, right?”

The theater flows out of Loki’s face, replaced by one of his characteristic beautifully evil grins. “It was magnificent. You had Thor and all the rest of them dancing at your whim. Thor was right, letting you speak in your own defense is very dangerous.”

He reaches out a hand and cups the side of Tony’s face, thumb stroking his cheekbone. “Glorious,” he whispers, eyes alight, and his hand drops to Tony’s neck to brush the collar with his fingertips. “Liar, deceiver, traitor. I could not be more pleased to call you mine. Never doubt it.” The corner of his mouth twitches wryly. “Even if I do have you imprisoned to give weight to your lies. It was you who suggested we could do more together.”

The tension ratchets out of Tony’s body and relief floods in. Loki’s never faked affection for him - that was Tony’s dick move - and he’s always been direct about what he wants; if he did mean to carry through on that threat of suggest killing Thor and I’ll tear out your tongue, Tony would be fountaining blood already. “So you’ll let me out now, right? Tell people we’ve struck a new deal or you talked me into surrendering and we’re all good?”

“Oh, but the things I could do to you in here… the punishments you have earned for striking at my brother…” The evil grin widens and Loki’s eyes flash lust. “Don’t you want to be made to surrender? Would you fight me just enough that I must work to take you back?”

The seduction lights up Tony’s skin and sends heat skipping through his blood; yeah, he likes where this is going. Hell, forget making the lie believable, this is probably why Loki had him locked up. “Ooh, have I been bad?” Tony grins and arches his back up from the bed a little, and shifts his legs apart just enough to tease. “Do I need to be taught a lesson?”

Loki smiles, confident and teasing right back. “I think you need to be reminded I have the strength to defeat you, warrior. I think you will deny me your submission until I prove I am capable of taking it.”

Tony sinks back into their comfortable, enthralling game like he never left it, and yes, this is what he’s been craving this whole time. He smirks and sits up on the bed, careful to not let his legs fall open in invitation; they’ve got a long way to go before Loki’s earned that. “You might be right. I supposedly got pretty close to killing you guys - and I did whip you in the face with a chain, my bad - anyway, I’m not in the mood to submit.” The smirk stretches. “What’re you gonna do about it?”

Loki rises fluidly from the chair and beckons Tony to stand in front of him, and Tony slides off the bed and goes where he’s directed, close enough for his skin to be sparking, his head tilted back so he can meet Loki’s eyes. 

Loki’s expression flashes somber for a moment. “What would you have done, if I had failed?”

Or if I hadn’t trusted you to try in the first place? “Won’t lie, I had some doubts here and there - standing in front of the open portal strained things a little - but killing Thor was never my backup plan. If we’d hit Earth I was just going to run off and warn people. One call to Jarvis would’ve done it, I might’ve been back before you noticed I was gone.”

Loki nods. “A fair plan, although… I would hope, in the event, you would tell me your intentions and ask for my help in concealing your escape.” He lifts his chin coolly. “When I promise you my dedication I mean for you to take it.”

“I did. I have. I trusted you-” so damn much, you know what this meant to me - “I gave you a shot, but if you’d missed I would’ve taken my own.”

Loki tips his head, conceding the point, and shrugs an elegant, dismissive shoulder. “It should not come to that again. Without Heimdall, Thor cannot reach Midgard and would not dare try if he could, given that he might only lose yet another of Asgard’s few remaining warriors.” He grins sharp enough to cut diamonds. “I shall very much enjoy watching him explain to Father how he lost the Gatekeeper. He spoke to Mother in private, the coward, but I will see him prostrate before his king, see his disobedience finally bring him low.”

“Sadist.”

Loki arches an eyebrow. “This is what we have been waiting for, Stark, Thor’s downfall - Father cannot fail to condemn him this time, cannot ignore his failings as a ruler. A treaty violated within days of signing it, a bitter defeat, Asgard now placed in greater danger than she has ever been… Thor will be humiliated for his attempt to take your world, and you accuse me of savoring this as though it were a crime.” He smiles. “Come, now. I know you better than that. You hunger to be there too.”

“Does sound like this season’s must-see picture.”

Loki takes two slow steps back and spreads his hands in invitation. “Please me now, and I’ll ensure you have a good seat.”

Excitement runs hot and fast through Tony’s veins, his pulse lifting him onto his toes. “Thought I needed some punishment.”

Dark passion, obsession, roils up under Loki’s skin and sears in his gaze. “When you hang willingly helpless and bare your back for my lash, when you welcome the blood I draw and the pain I lay into your flesh… Oh, I’ll be very pleased to punish you.” Loki’s hands clench by his sides like he’s trying not to palm his cock already. “If you are Midgard’s warrior, I must take you from them. Tear that loyalty from around your heart and bind you to my side instead. Fight you to your surrender until you turn to my arms to rise again.”

Tony jerks his chin up. “Do your worst.”

“Oh, Stark.” Loki beckons him forwards and Tony echoes the two steps, bringing him up in front of Loki with inches between them, and Loki gently cups his cheek. “You get my very, very best.”

His fingers seize to hold Tony’s head still and he strikes him across the face with the other hand. 

Loki steps back and lets Tony fall to the floor at his feet; the pain igniting across Tony’s cheek drives him higher, blood rushing, cock hardening in his pants, and he gasps for breath and resists the urge to kiss Loki’s boots. It’d make Loki go absolutely crazy, but Tony’s supposed to be conflicted right now, and Loki’s lead so far is way too good for Tony to go off-script.

Instead, “You can’t stop me from being Midgardian.”

“I can do whatever I want. I can make you whatever I want. My warrior, my prize, my lover - oh, yes, you’ll beg to be taken before this night is through, spread your legs and plead to be filled… Everything you are belongs to me. I just have to wait for you to decide you’ve had enough.”

Tony swallows arousal until he can speak. “Enough of what?”

Loki’s hand grabs the back of Tony’s shirt and hauls him effortlessly to his feet, and spins him around to face the center of the cell.

There’s a shining black metal bar hanging from the ceiling on gleaming chains, and two matching bolts chained to the floor below it. Tony stares. “I don’t remember that thing being here a minute ago.”

Loki chuckles - the cold one full of promises that always get Tony hard. “The benefits of sorcery.”

Hang on. “Are you telling me you could have magicked up lube every time you made me go find it-”

Loki gives him a little shake. “I am trying to fuck you into repentance,” he says, but it’s amused. “Rail at me another time.”

“You should be repentant for making me lube-hunt.”

“Hold your tongue or I’ll take you dry.”

Tony shuts his mouth with an audible click of his teeth and he feels Loki smile against his ear. “Good.”

Loki pushes him across the cell to the manacles, pulls Tony’s arms up above his head and attaches his wrist cuffs to the ends of the bar - it’s high enough that he’s stretched out taut, muscles straining and warm, heels just lifting off the floor. Loki doesn’t lower himself to kneeling to chain Tony’s ankles; he stands there and Tony hears the chains rattle and slither across the floor to click themselves into his cuffs and tug his feet apart from each other, until he’s splayed in a wide X shape, toes outstretched to keep his weight off his wrists.

Loki’s boots whisper against the floor as he steps closer, and then the black silk of the blindfold falls over Tony’s eyes. “Let’s surprise you, shall we?” Loki breathes sweetly in Tony’s ear. “Leave you with nothing but my voice and my touch to cling to.”

Tony inhales, testing - dark, blind, this could be very not good - but he feels calm and steady, Loki’s words echoing in his head, the floor smooth and cool under his bare feet, and nods.

“Good,” Loki repeats, fingers quick and skilled as he ties the blindfold snugly around Tony’s head. He runs his hand through Tony’s hair in reward or gratitude - Tony will take either, or preferably both - before stepping back.

Loki paces slowly around him, sighing softly in admiration, and there’s the swift shick of him drawing one of his knives from its sheath. “Exquisite,” he murmurs on Tony’s right. “I should keep you like this always, spread and waiting for me. I could leave you filled with one of those plugs you’re so fond of. Slick and open for whenever I wish your service.” 

Tony’s whole skin is humming, waiting for contact and clueless in the dark. Then the sharp point of the knife pricks him, snatching all Tony’s attention to the thin, stinging line it leaves across his shoulders as Loki cuts his shirt away. The fabric parts and the cool air hits Tony’s body, lighting up the trail of the knife’s point, traced so carefully that his skin isn’t even broken, just flushed with blood and singing with sensation. His cock pulses and he shifts for friction before Loki lays a hand on his shoulder to hold him still.

“Careful,” Loki murmurs, before he moves the knife to cut down Tony’s back. “I want you tortured, not injured. You’re worthless if you’re too hurt to use.”

Tony deliberately circles his hips with all the little room he has. “Is that so?”

Loki slaps his ass. “It is.”

He wraps his fingers in what’s left of the shirt and rips it right off Tony’s body and Tony shivers with the effort to not come right there. Loki slices the pants in two strikes down the outsides of Tony’s legs and lets the leather fall, cuts Tony’s Asgardian briefs too and leaves him naked except for the silk covering his eyes and the collar and cuffs.

How ironic that he must be quite the sight right now.

“You know, this might have been more efficient if you’d stripped me before yo-ooh…

Loki’s hand squeezes around his cock and strokes down again, pressure and friction exactly the way he likes it, oh god fuck Loki’s good at this. Loki caresses the head - confident, firm, just taking what he knows is his- before sliding back up to fondle Tony’s balls, and back down again, a savage twist that rips through Tony before a gentle, smooth slide. It leaves Tony’s head spinning, a whirling storm of feeling lighting up everywhere Loki touches, not just his cock and balls but the steadying hand on his shoulder and the arm wrapped around him from behind to reach his cock, his whole back hot with how close Loki’s standing. 

“So easy to silence,” Loki says, a laugh in his voice, and he presses a kiss below Tony’s ear. “Play with your cock and all your wits fly from you.”

“Oh, you think you’re clever,” Tony gasps, hips twitching into Loki’s hand, “but you’re - you’re not, and oh fuck don’t stop that-”

Loki’s hand falls away and he steps back, and Tony snarls in frustration and seriously tries pulling out of his cuffs. “I said don’t stop!”

“You’re my prisoner.” Tony can just hear Loki’s raised eyebrow. “You’re here to be punished.”

Tony pouts, his cock desperate for attention. “I had better end up liking this.”

“Trust me. Have I ever failed you?”

“Lube. Hunting.”

It startles a laugh out of Loki, small and honest. “Oh, you’re fun.”

Two slick fingers thrust straight between Tony’s ass cheeks and up and in, and he shouts in surprise and pain - mostly surprise - and moans when those fingers twist and plunge deeper. “Ah, ah, Loki-

“Is this better than lube hunting?” Loki grinds at Tony’s prostate and Tony writhes under the flood of stimulation, hard cock swaying in the air out from his body. “It is unnecessary that I permit you to prepare yourself slowly?”

“I’m here to be punished, right?” Tony twists his hourglassed body, arms held rigid by the bar between them and feet pulled apart by the chains in the floor, the trailing ends of the silk blindfold brushing the top of his spine. Sweat’s starting to spring up on his skin, cool in the air, and his cock is throbbing and begging for touch and his ass burns from the fingers starting to stretch him open, and with his eyes blinded it’s all so much more intense, nothing to distract him from any of it, no focus but the sensations running madly through his flesh. 

Loki’s fingers brush the collar around Tony’s neck while his other hand keeps opening Tony’s ass. “You don’t do penitence very well, do you?”

“Well, I don’t do guilty very well, so no, not really. You get sass and attitude and-”

Loki finds his prostate again and Tony’s sentence trails off in a long and mindless groan of need. “That’s cheating,” he gasps once he can form syllables again, and clenches down on Loki’s fingers to get more.

“Is it? Then I’ll stop.”

Tony laughs breathlessly. “That’s the emptiest threat I’ve ever heard.”

“Oh?” Loki smoothly slides his fingers out and leaves Tony gaping - he can’t possibly be, it hasn’t been nearly long enough for that, but the hollow ache begs to differ. “If you don’t appreciate my kindness, you may suffer my cruelty.”

He spreads Tony’s asscheeks with one hand, and something blunt and wet nudges at his rim. 

“You will tell me,” Loki says, low, suddenly serious, “if this feels at all strange. Uncomfortable. Anything. I know what it would do to an Asgardian, but in you it might not… This is no little game easily brushed away if it does not suit you. You will tell me at once if you have the slightest wish that I stop this, no matter what.”

“Got it,” Tony says, a bit nervous - what has Loki got a hold of that’s worrying him so much and does Tony really want it in his ass - but then Loki’s slowly pushing it in, Tony’s rim stretching around it, and Tony’s way too curious to safeword out before he tries it. It’s soft, phallic-shaped - hey, Asgardians have dildos too - but it’s also wet, moisture seeping out from it, and when Tony sucks in a breath he smells something sharp and organic… “Are you figging me? You have - yes, of course you have ginger roots, what don’t you have that’s exactly the same as Earth’s sex toys?” Fucking Worlds Tree interconnecting planets…

“It’s not ginger,” Loki says, and works the thing deeper, moving slick through Tony’s insides until the body of it narrows at the end, letting his rim close around it with a thick base left outside that Loki’s gripping. “It’s galapni-” definitely nothing like ginger, if Loki’s Allspeak can’t find a word in English for it, “and its juices have an interesting effect when they enter the blood.” He scrapes his nails softly down Tony’s back. “Tell me what you feel.”

“Like a chalkboard?”

Loki does it again, harder, and Tony hisses pleasure and rocks back into Loki’s hand. The gal-whatever feels like a winner so far, warming him up from the inside, big enough to fill him nicely. “It’s good.”

“Yes?” Loki digs his nails in harder still, raking them down and Tony feels it, feels his skin start to tear, the raw lines left behind, but instead of pain it’s a wash of pleasure - not pain he’s enjoying, just sheer pleasure as if Loki’s stroked his cock instead.

“It’s - all good, what’s that thing doing-”

“Exactly what I hoped,” Loki says, exhaling relief, and leans in and does something to Tony’s neck with his teeth that has Tony moaning and swaying in the chains, half-delirious with the rush. “It’s a favorite of mine. It tricks you into feeling nothing but bliss, no matter what is done to you-” Tony hears the absolutely vicious slap to his ass and is thrown forward by the force of it, and his cock jerks and his blood sings with pleasure. 

“And the more done, the more you feel.”

Moans are echoing in the cell, Tony’s moans, pouring loud from his mouth because he doesn’t care about anything but the pull of this feeling, the strain along his arms and legs suddenly incredible, the cuffs digging into his wrists filling him with ecstasy. 

“And now,” Loki whispers in his ear, “I will whip you bloody.”

“Oh, god, yes,” Tony gasps, “do it, bring it on-” Fuck the consequences, fuck waking up from this with his back in ribbons, fuck not being able to walk for a week, this is the most amazing thing he’s ever felt and he needs more of it, right now

There’s movement in the air behind him and then Loki trails a braided leather lash down Tony’s back, the thinnest whisper of touch, and Tony’s skin glows with the caress. Loki presses the handle of the whip along his spine, something wooden and smoothly carved, and leans in to murmur in Tony’s ear. “You know what this will do to you. This is no toy. I mean to draw your heart’s blood, to leave you in true need of healing when we are done.”

Tony rolls his eyes behind the blindfold. “What, you don’t think I can take it?”

Loki scoffs and thumps the handle against his back - probably meant to be a punishment but Tony groans at the explosion under his skin, and Loki has to wait for him to pull himself back to sanity before he can go on. “Of course you can. I merely wish to… I know you offer me the full limit of your strength. You should know that I am aware of the weight of what I hold. Your trust is immeasurably precious to me - you leave yourself chained and you wait to be flogged because it will please me. No other would permit the least part of this. I would want no other.”

Tony laughs, edging deliciously close to really, really high. “Nothing like being loved by someone who hates everyone.”

“Indeed,” Loki breathes, and brushes his lips along the shell of Tony’s ear. “There isn’t, is there.”

He steps back, leaving Tony exposed, and Tony hears the whip swished across the floor behind him.

Loved,” Loki hisses joyfully, and there’s a hiss and the whip comes down on Tony’s back. 

It ignites like a bonfire, heat and pleasure washing through him, crashing up behind his eyes and cascading into his cock, so much he feels like he could come right now, and he sags in the chains and the twin tugs at his wrists light him up all over again. “Fuck, fuck!

“Tell me,” Loki says, dark with arousal as the embers settle. “Tell me what I’ve done to you.”

“It’s - intense, never felt anything like it - more,” more, it falls from his lips and suddenly he’s craving it, “more, give me more-”

“Say my name.”

“Loki, Loki-”

Yes,” Loki says, and whips him again. This one cuts sharply across his shoulderblades, a single blazing line that’s dizzyingly powerful, and he feels precome dripping, running from the head of his cock. In the blackness his breaths are like thunder in his ears, the soft scuffs of Loki’s boots as he paces loud as an army, and Tony’s skin hums with tracing Loki’s movements, the shimmering sense of his presence moving around Tony’s back to the right. 

The next strike is just as good and the one after that is even better when it falls across another mark, leaving him lost in mindless need for more, heat a crashing tidal wave under his skin.

“There you are…” Loki’s fingers run in a glorious trail through the last mark, sliding wet through the blood welling to the surface and brushing the raw nerves; Tony’s cock throbs and his balls tighten before Loki settles his hand on the whole skin of Tony’s hip and the peak of pleasure fades. “As promised.”

“More, more-”

“Shh.” Loki pulls Tony’s head back by his hair, bares his neck and kisses the exposed skin above his collar, up and down his neck, small bites in between, licks at the corner of his jaw, and all of it feels better than a blowjob, bizarre but so perfect in that place, Loki’s mouth unbelievable and practically consuming him - Tony’s gone, nothing left but the exquisite pleasure pouring through him. 

Loki’s words curl over Tony’s worshipped skin. “You’ll have what you need.”

Loki’s boots retreat across the floor and then the lash falls again, and again and again until Tony can’t tell the strikes apart anymore, and he clenches down on the root and squeezes the juice out of it, pulls himself up in his chains to feel them pull him back like tugging at his cock. Hot lines of blood are dripping down his back, the whip hissing through the air before it lands, back, ass, thighs, everywhere it hits burning up with ecstasy, and then Loki whips him harder, hard enough to feel like he’s breaking in half, and Tony shouts and-

Comes, body seizing and cock spurting onto the floor, shocks ripping through him and making the chains rattle. He sags down and the cuffs around his wrists catch him, send pleasure down his arms - and he can’t even feel overstimulated, exhausted, not even tired, it’s all fantastic, orgasm barely gone before he wants another whether it’s possible or not. “Loki- Loki, more-”

Loki’s hand on his back makes him cry out, and then his other hand wraps around the base of the root and in one swift movement he yanks it free, and slams his cock into Tony’s ass instead, burying himself to the hilt in a single, blissfully brutal stroke.

His arms wrap around Tony and his bare chest presses against Tony’s shredded back, skin and sweat rubbing in the raw welts, and Tony dissolves into the heat coursing through him, head falling back against Loki’s shoulder, tucked close into his neck.

Loki rolls his hips in small arcs, just shifting his cock inside Tony, letting him feel the pressure and the throb of their heartbeats against each other. “I can feel it too,” he whispers in Tony’s ear, and drops a kiss to his eye through the silk blindfold. “The galapni, there’s enough of it left in you for me to… Oh, you feel good.” His body coils and he gives a sharp, deep thrust that leaves Tony’s body quivering. “Valhalla,” Loki moans, his hands claiming Tony’s chest, one with fingers splayed to settle between his ribs, the other curved around a pectoral, inside of his wrist rubbing the glass of the reactor. “Mine.”

“Yours,” Tony answers, the single word making him breathless, “yours, yours, my - Loki-”

“Always,” Loki says, arms tightening to hold Tony closer, nothing between them. “Always yours.”

He layers kisses across Tony’s cheek and thrusts up into him, rocks back and does it again, cock sliding through the juice, stirring Tony’s insides and lifting him in delirious spirals, smooth strokes up into his body until he feels it in his chest, in his throat. Loki moves a hand to wrap it around Tony’s neck and squeeze just enough for Tony’s pulse to race even faster, thumping against the pressure of Loki’s fingers, and Loki moans and bites Tony’s ear and his jaw and lowers his other hand to wrap Tony’s cock.

Tony doesn’t come at the first touch but it’s a near thing, his mind washing blank in a glittering haze. His toes lift off the floor with the force of Loki’s thrusts and the way Loki’s arms take his weight; Loki’s lips are moving against his neck, but if there are words Tony doesn’t hear them. Loki strokes his cock, long and drawn out, firm hand making lights burst behind Tony’s eyes, bright in the dark, and Tony writhes and pushes back on Loki’s cock in return, moaning when he’s impaled over and over, Loki’s balls slapping his with every hard, relentless thrust. 

Loki goes still and comes, tension tight through his body, mouth open on a silent cry buried in Tony’s shoulder, and pumps Tony faster until he comes as well, the orgasm surging through his body, Loki’s hand milking every drop, every aftershock from Tony’s cock before letting him start the long, slow fall back down. Loki’s come is oozing around his softening cock in Tony’s ass, and an edge of something other than bliss creeps in at the corners, Tony’s back starting to sting and arms aching above his head. 

“Mmm.” Loki smiles against Tony’s neck and shifts a little, settling himself better against Tony, letting Tony’s feet rest back on the ground. “Do you surrender?”

Tony’s pretty sure he makes a noise in response. 

“Good,” Loki murmurs, and brushes his hands deliciously down Tony’s sides - pleasant in the way Loki’s caresses always are, real warm touch and not mindlessly erotic, Tony’s nerves back to normal. “So good. My precious Tony. My prize. Clever, strong, trusting… oh, you’re perfect, the things you give me…”

“Fantastic orgasms?” Tony mumbles, and Loki laughs, and-

Goes absolutely still and silent like the flip of a switch.

“No,” Tony hears, maybe, so soft it might be just his brain struggling to get back to a place where words make sense. But Loki’s gone completely motionless, stiff - more than that, frozen where he’s pressed to Tony’s back.

Loki’s breath trembles and shaking lips kiss the sweaty nape of Tony’s neck. “My love, something’s coming.”

Love?

It slots itself into Tony’s chest and stays there, and then surges up to his head and starts filling that too. My love.

Loki’s still talking in a rushed undertone. “Befriend them at any cost,” he’s saying, and Tony doesn’t remember where Thor’s stupid buddies got dragged into the picture while Loki’s cock is up his ass and he’s still trying to process my love. And then, “Forgive me.”

Loki pulls out and steps back, leaving Tony cold and exposed and hanging there, Loki’s come threatening to slide out of his ass, his back stinging in the cool air after the warmth of Loki’s body, and Tony twitches futilely trying to pull his limbs in. “What - come back,” he says, voice breaking on the plea, head twisting to look despite the blindfold, “Loki, come back - what did I do, what’s wrong-”

The lash rips across his back and Tony screams, flayed to the bone, acid burning under his skin and blood cascading down his back. Loki whips him again - no warning, no pleasure, what’s happening - it slashes across all the other marks, setting every single one on fire and shredding Tony to pieces. He’s fighting the chains, blood running down his wrists, feet slipping on the floor as he struggles to get purchase with his toes, get away from the hissing pain behind him-

He’s braced for a third strike, can’t think why, can’t think anything over the howl of Loki’s name in his head, but he waits with teeth gritted and body twisted to somehow protect himself - waits, and waits-

He hears a cry of pain but doesn’t feel like he made it, his jaw shut too hard against the throbbing agony, panic starting to bubble up - Loki, Loki, stop-

Big, cool hands wrap around his wrists, gentle and careful and he sobs relief and turns towards them. The cuffs snap open with a crack and he’s caught before he can drop, guided down to the floor and laid on his side. He shivers, skull filling with the reverberation of heavy footsteps back and forth, and reaches up to get the blindfold off.

The light blinds him for a moment and his eyes water, and he has to blink it away slowly, and then make himself focus on something other than the white glare of the cell walls and the shock of the real, awful pain - that is not what Tony wanted, what the hell was Loki thinking-

What the fuck happened to ‘my love’?

He manages to struggle upright without blacking out from the pain, twists to look over his shoulder and sees Loki.

What…

He’s down on his knees, blood dripping into his eye from a cut across his forehead, and running between his fingers where his hand’s pressed to his shoulder, pain sharp in his face. He’s dressed again, one of his knives lying on the floor in front of him, slicked with something dark. He meets Tony’s eyes and snarls, all harsh fury, but his lips shape the word befriend and he looks at something over Tony’s shoulder.

Tony turns around, and some thing stares back, red dots in a sea of blue; Tony blinks and it swims into focus, a craggy face with blue skin, eyes red, skull covered with green ice, and Tony feels the sudden wintry chill of the air.

Frost giant?

It smiles at him. “Peace, friend,” it - he - rumbles, voice so low Tony feels it in his chest. “It is over. All of this is over.”

Tony just stares.

“Over?” Loki spits. “You’re a fool if you think Thor will do anything but kill you all, if you think you can take all of them unawares-”

The frost giant doesn’t even look at him, just turns to the - opened - front wall of the cell. “Bring him to Laufey. Unharmed.”

Two more enter the cell - barely, so tall their heads are almost scraping the ceiling - stepping over a body on their way, a frost giant lying in a pool of dark blood. Ice grows from the giants’ hands into thick, long blades, icicles on impossible fast-forward, light glinting off their sharp edges, and they point them at Loki. “On your feet.”

He glares but staggers upright, pain flashing across his face and his hand pressing harder to the wound in his shoulder, and marches between his escort, head high, out of the cell without a backward glance.

Suspicion and confusion claw at the back of Tony’s head, and he turns to the first frost giant, still here with him, crouched down to the floor so they’re almost eye to eye. “What’s going on?”

The giant smiles again and reaches for Tony’s neck, and Tony jolts but makes himself stay still as cold blue fingers wrap around the collar. The metal bites chill at his skin and then cracks open, falling in pieces to the floor, and the giant takes Tony by the arm, no sign of being cold enough to break metal, and helps him to his feet. “Come and see.”

~

The welts across Tony’s back and thighs burn with every step and he’s clinging to the giant’s arm with more need than he’d like to admit, but he almost doesn’t feel it under the thrumming strain of keeping up with whatever this is that has frost giants in Asgard and taking Loki hostage, but treating Tony like a guest. It’s churning in his head but slipping away every time he gets close to pinning it down and working it out, worry and post-orgasm and blood loss spinning it out of his grasp. It’s all happening too fast and too slowly, the need to act and the need to plan crashing into each other and leaving his brain completely dysfunctional. He can’t think about frost giants and put one foot in front of the other at the same time.

“Here,” the giant says. “Bear witness.”

Their group - Loki guarded at swordpoint, Tony wrapped in the blanket from the cell’s bed, leaning on his support - enters a cavernous room lined with carved, towering columns, an unmistakeable throne on a high, stepped dais at the end. It’s all massive and magnificent, and it all disappears under the tableau of figures in front of the throne.

Tony sees Thor first, standing at one side with rage in every line of his body and his fists clenched but empty, facing a huge, spiked chunk of ice that has the super-hammer trapped frozen inside it. His friends are all on their knees in a row a way behind him, wounded and disarmed and guarded like Loki, ice blades resting at their throats. Frigga’s standing between Thor and the others, two more blue giants guarding her, her dress torn and a gash running down her arm, but her head high.

And on the other side of the room are the frost giants, fifty at least, maybe sixty, and that’s not counting the dozens strewn dead across the floor between the two sides.

One of them at the front of the group, holding a golden spear in his hand, turns at the entrance of Tony and the others, and smiles, cruel and - yeah. Icy. “Stand with your family, Odinson.”

Tony sees the tensing in Loki’s neck before he drops his hand from his injured shoulder and strides across the room, composed like he’s utterly indifferent to the army of frost giants in front of Asgard’s throne. Thor spares him a single worried glance before returning his focus to the giants, but Frigga gasps and holds her hands out to him.

Loki runs the last steps.

He grabs her and holds her close, and it tears at Tony’s heart without him knowing why or anything beyond the fact that something’s wrong here.

The giant who spoke steps forward, lifts something in his hand and throws it across the room. Frigga catches it in what looks like reflex.

And screams.

It’s a man’s head.

“Odin Allfather is dead,” the giant declares. “Asgard is mine.”

Chapter Text

It flashes clear in an instant, everything lining up in Tony’s head, and for a second all he can think is, I told you so.

It’s exactly what he said would happen - the frost giants got past Asgard’s army and found the portal again, came through and took the palace completely by surprise with no-one left to defend it. Okay, maybe killing the king first wasn’t how Tony thought this would go and it makes things significantly worse, but the fact remains that the frost giants are here and they’ve taken over. Not quite without a fight, but Thor and his friends very clearly lost it.

And the giants went looking for Loki, to bring all of Asgard’s royal family together to be officially defeated, and they found him mercilessly torturing a prisoner - an important, dangerous prisoner, if Loki thought he was worth interrogating personally. The giants probably think Tony knows useful state secrets, or good as, and he’ll help them because they just saved his life.

Loki saved his life.

Loki set this up so the giants would want Tony, would take care of him and not just leave him bleeding in his cell once they had Loki under control. Something’s coming, Loki whispered in his ear, befriend them at any cost - Loki wants Tony to be on the winning team. 

Tony must be his exit strategy, a man on the inside…

Thor’s the first to break the stunned, horrified silence after the lead giant’s claim. It’s just a whisper, “No,” falling thin and hurt from his mouth as he stares at his father’s head in Frigga’s hands. 

“No!” he shouts, facing the giants again, looking as if he’s about to run and take them all on single-handedly. “I am my father’s heir, Laufey, and Asgard is mine!

Frigga cries, “Thor, don’t-” and Tony sees how this will go: the giants forget all the posturing, kill Thor, and then Loki, and then probably Frigga too for good measure, and then there’s nobody in their way-

Laufey looks Thor up and down evenly, and then gestures to the throne above them. His voice feels like an earthquake. “Take it.”

It throws Thor off-balance and he hesitates, anger draining with no resistance to fight against, replaced by a wary reluctance to do anything the frost giants want him to.

In a flash one of the giants guarding Frigga seizes her by the hair and pulls back to bare her throat to his ice sword, the violence of the movement making her drop Odin’s head to the floor with a gasp of pain.

Loki’s fists clench and he takes a step towards her, but there’s nothing he can do without getting her killed. Low, fury barely contained, he grits out, “Do as he says, Thor.”

Thor looks back and sees Frigga standing there, her gaze defiant but doing nothing to hide the fact that she could die at any moment. Thor’s shoulders slump and his eyes fall and he turns to climb the steps to the throne. 

Tony shivers in the cold.

Thor sits and tries to draw himself up, legs apart and hands braced on the armrests, to look more imposing than the sixty guys who are ten feet tall. “For your crimes against-”

Laufey flings blue bolts of light from his hands that strike Thor hard, and where they hit they grow into solid chunks of ice, restraints across his arms and legs binding him to the throne. Thor struggles but the ice doesn’t even crack - no way is that simple frozen water, and magic’s definitely involved as well - and when he opens his mouth to bellow Laufey throws more ice to gag him, a thick layer across the bottom half of his face. 

Laufey lowers his arms and they all stare at Thor, trapped and small and powerless. 

Laufey grins.

“Behold the boy-king of Asgard, in thrall to Jotunheim.”

All hail the king.

Thor’s friends shout in outrage and Laufey just ignores them, turning back to the massed giants, giving orders and sending men off in groups, some of them finally hauling the corpses away. Laufey doesn’t even look around when the guards beat Thor’s friends back into silence; one of them hits Fandral across the face and his skin turns black and cracked where the giant’s fist landed. Frostbite

Loki kept quiet and he’s left untouched, just guarded himself and still bleeding from the wound in his shoulder - a wound Tony’s now guessing is from the giants attacking him in the cell, one of those ice swords thrusting clean through and dropping him to his knees. He would’ve killed the dead one Tony saw on the cell floor - no way could only four guys take Loki down, even by surprise, without paying for it.

And he wasn’t completely surprised - he warned Tony, hid the fact they were fucking, set everything up for the frost giants to be the rescuing heroes…

Frigga’s guard finally releases her, and she falls to her knees and cradles Odin’s head again, her shoulders shaking; Loki ignores the looming giant behind him and goes down beside her, wrapping his good arm around her frame. There’s a sharp sting in Tony’s chest like the reactor’s thrown a coupling, watching this private grief be dragged out on show for Asgard’s enemies, as if the overthrow wasn’t enough on its own.

You’re Asgard’s enemy too, remember? You’re supposed to be liking this.

And for a second Tony can’t decide if that’s because that’s the role Loki gave him, or because with Thor attempting to take over Earth, Tony is Asgard’s enemy.

One thing’s for sure, Thor’s not getting to Earth like this…

And through all the sick awfulness of what’s happening, dark satisfaction rises in Tony’s chest as he looks at Thor, defeated and helpless and bound to his own throne. How do you like invading now?

“Come,” says the giant holding Tony up. “Meet my father.”

He escorts Tony across the room, and Laufey turns to them. “Helblindi,” he greets Tony’s giant, who bows his head. Oh, great, what is it with Tony and getting picked up by alien warrior princes?

Laufey’s red eyes fall on Tony - a long way down from Helblindi. And Tony thought Loki was tall. “Who is this?”

“A friend,” Helblindi says. “An ally among Asgard’s soldiers.”

“Why would this one help us?”

“He was captive to Odin’s younger son. His grievance will support us well.”

Laufey’s gaze - completely unreadable, emotionless and way too red - moves slowly from Tony to Loki, and Frigga, on the ground behind him. “Who is he, boy?”

Tony turns to take in the sight of Loki, looking up from his father’s head with clear eyes as if there aren’t tears running down his cheeks; he sees Tony and gives an angry snarl. “A companion who forgot where his loyalties should lie.”

“Whoa, hey,” Tony throws out, “you want to bring disloyalty into this, you started it.” He turns back to Laufey and plays up his ‘grievance’ nice and big and sympathetic, because it’s not like any of the other prisoners in Asgard’s dungeons have been released, and Tony needs to keep himself special. Someone close to Loki who has the means and motive to share some valuable secrets.

“I loved him and he betrayed me.”

Dead silence follows his declaration, profound enough that Tony hopes nobody but his mark is actually taking him seriously, talk about a plan going too well - but then Loki splutters over-acted rage and Tony relaxes. “It was not I who first betrayed - you know what you did, you traitor-”

Tony shrugs, still addressing Laufey. “I left everything behind to come here when he asked me to. Gave him my entire life, would’ve done anything he wanted of me. Then his brother decided to destroy my home just for the fun of it, and accused me of treason upfront to get me out of the way. And Loki, who I’d sacrificed everything to be with, turned on me like he’d been waiting for an excuse all along. I was innocent, by the way. Didn’t seem like anyone cared about that part, least of all him.” Tony looks up into Laufey’s eyes and summons as much force as he can, and gives a bitter laugh and adds, “He swore we’d be together forever, but it sure wasn’t him who paid the price for breaking his word. So anything you want, anything I can give you, it’s yours for the asking. There’s an awful lot of vengeance I want to take.”

“We have that in common, then.” Laufey gives Tony a slow, steady nod, and Tony feels it with absolute certainty: he’s in.

Loki spits. “Do not believe this lying-”

He cuts off with a cry and Tony turns to see a giant standing over him, ice sword plunging down, and the bloody end of it erupting from Loki’s chest. The giant’s stabbed through that same wound in his shoulder from the fight before, aim perfect to cause the most pain without killing him, and fuck it’s working - Loki’s been forced over onto his hands, his face a drained, shocked white, mouth hanging open and struggling to breathe without making it worse.

“Silence,” the giant growls, sets his foot in Loki’s back and pushes him forward off the blade. Loki gives a stuttered gasp as the ice draws out, hand flying to his shoulder to stem the bleeding, eyes forced open against the pain so he doesn’t show weakness. The chill of the giant’s skin has cracked the armor covering Loki’s back, and it lets Tony see the shining streaks of blood from his shoulder running over the leather.

Loki’s other hand is spasming against the floor, Frigga crawling around to his back to press her hands to that side of the gaping hole, and it’s killing Tony to just stand here, his own shoulder aching in sympathy, instincts screaming at him to run over there and do something to stop the bleeding. He can hide from the frost giants for now but he won’t be able to take much more…

But what more can they do? They’re clearly in charge and with Thor and Loki both out of the game there’s no-one left to present a challenge to them. It’s over now, right? It has to be over…

Loki lifts his head and stares Tony down as if this is all his fault. “You will pay dearly for this day.”

The words come out by pure reflex. “From where I’m standing, I rather think that’s you.”

Beside Tony, Helblindi straightens and lays his hand carefully on Tony’s shoulder, and also incidentally half of his chest. “I found the Odinson flogging him.”

Laufey’s eyes slide back to Loki. “That will do.”

He gestures to the giants by Loki and Frigga, and they step forward with hands outstretched to grab him-

Frigga scrambles to her feet and throws herself between Loki and the giants. “No!”

They stop but angle their swords at her in threat. “Move aside.”

“Please.” She turns to Laufey, bloody hands clasped in front of her. “Please, have mercy.”

Still on his knees, Loki looks up at her, aghast. “Mother, no-”

“Mercy, Laufey,” she begs. “Lay no hand upon my sons.”

“Mercy,” he repeats, octaves lower, and prowls forward to meet her. “Where was Odin’s mercy when his men ravaged my people? Where was mercy for my queen, my wife, mutilated by his soldiers?”

He reaches out the gold spear he’s holding - strangely short for a guy that huge - and rests the point at Frigga’s throat. “Where was mercy for my firstborn, stolen from the temple and not even his bones left to mourn?”

Frigga stares back completely uncowed. “And now you wield my husband’s spear. Be satisfied.”

Oh, god, this had better not dissolve into some Hamlet-esque arrangement where the dodgy new king marries the widowed queen…

But Laufey just tilts his head, and nods, an impossible weight in his movements. “Jotunheim will lay no hand on the sons of Odin.”

Relieved breath rushes out of her body. Also Tony’s.

“We’ll flog that one,” Laufey says, spear flying to point at Loki. “And you’ll yield, boy, or watch your mother’s head join your father’s.”

Loki’s eyes go wide and the other Asgardians shout out, and pinned to the throne, Thor starts struggling again. Laufey grins triumph and Tony can feel Helblindi practically humming with excitement and sheer bloodlust beside him. 

Tony sees Laufey’s arm tense as if he’s about to plunge the spear right through Frigga, and Loki shoots to his feet. “I yield,” he calls over the protests of the others, dignity held tight, chin lifted and bearing regal. He spreads his arms wide in what looks more like defiance than surrender. “Have me if you will spare her.”

Tony tugs on Helblindi’s arm to make him bend down so Tony can mutter in his ear. “Not that I’m complaining, but I thought your father just promised not to touch him.” You can’t touch him!

“And he will not,” Helblindi rumbles back. “Watch. No Jotun will lay a hand on him.”

“Oh, that’s clever,” Tony says over the nausea churning in his stomach as Laufey grows a column of ice in the clear central space beside the small glacier holding Thor’s hammer, an unmistakable whipping post even if Tony’s never seen one before, positioned so everyone will be able to see it. Movements smooth with anger, Loki’s started stripping his layered jackets and shirts from his torso, and Tony looks away before he can white out with panic from what that bare skin is about to be used for. “Very clever.”

“Sit with me, Asgardian,” Laufey says to Tony, and sweeps off to take up a place on the steps of the dais, leaning forward with an arm braced across his knee. Helblindi guides Tony over there and Tony lets him; he’s pretty sure he could walk on his own by now, but to be fair, the stinging pull of the weals in his back every time he moves speaks a pretty hefty argument against that. Helblindi lowers Tony carefully, a few steps behind and above Laufey so their heads are on about the same level, close enough they can still talk. Helblindi moves forward and joins the group cuffing Loki to the column with more ice around his wrists, all without actually touching him themselves, the wound in his shoulder still seeping blood, and Tony looks away again.

Won’t be able to do that forever…

But it doesn’t feel real yet, like it can’t possibly happen - but Tony felt the same way in Afghanistan, didn’t he, watching Raza with that coal, it took seeing the glowing reflection in Yinsen’s glasses before Tony knew - I stopped that, how can I stop this when I’m supposed to want it?

“What is your name?” Laufey asks, and Tony nearly laughs at the insanity of such an inane question when Loki’s about to be whipped right in front of him, and it’s not the two of them messing around with BDSM and roleplaying, this is Asgard’s number one enemy taking over and making sure everyone knows it, and there’s fuck-all Tony’s doing to stop it.

“Anthony Howardson,” he says, converting to Asgardian on the fly. “I’m sorry, I’m not exactly dressed for meeting a king.” Then again, the single blanket wrapped around him is more coverage than the frost giants are wearing, short leather kilts and pieces of opaque green ice for armor here and there. “But, well. You know what was happening when Helblindi-” he gets the name out without mangling it too badly, “found me.”

“The Odinson will bear worse,” Laufey says, the words maybe meant to be comforting but nothing in the tone to suggest it - but that’s how the Jotuns seem, emotion either leashed or going over Tony’s head, just low voices he feels in his chest like bass speakers on steroids. 

“Six hundred lashes,” Laufey announces, and the giants give a thunderous cheer, drowning out Frigga’s cry as she falls to her knees; Sif lurches forward to go to her and gets pulled back by her guard, and by Hogun who’s smart enough to know that everybody only lives if they do as Laufey says. 

Tony sees it but barely notices. Six hundred lashes is spinning madly through his head - humans are supposed to die when they get forty, aren’t they, and Asgardians are stronger but surely not by a magnitude of fifteen. Tony took maybe a dozen when Loki wasn’t really trying to hurt him and he’s still feeling it now - Loki’ll never survive this, they’re going to kill him - and what better way to cement Laufey’s grip on Asgard when he’s got Thor completely under control: kill the other potential heir and leave nobody to sneak away and raise a loyal army. Not that there’s much of an army to raise when everybody who could swing a sword went with Odin to Jotunheim - I told you that was a fucking stupid idea, Loki, why didn’t you listen to me?

The giants back away from Loki, pressed to the ice column with his arms frozen above his head, back stretched out and vulnerable and already smeared with blood from his shoulder, and one giant steps forward, hand trailing a whip - braided leather, carved wooden handle, streaked with dark stains - fuck, that’s the one Loki beat Tony with, they think they’re going through with some form of justice for him-

But that’s exactly what Loki wants them to think-

It’s in slow motion that Tony sees the Jotun pull his arm back and then swing it forward, body twisting into the blow, to bring the whip slicing across Loki’s back.

Loki jerks with the impact but doesn’t make a sound, the ringing crack of the whip making Tony’s back throb in remembered agony, and a red line springs up under Loki’s skin. 

Tony barely sees all that before the lash falls again, and there’s the flinch, the crack, the hot red mark, and then another and another, and they just keep coming, blooming thick like someone’s scribbling on Loki’s back with a pen, burning into Tony’s eyes until he can close them and still see the fiery lines.

Loki bears it all in unbroken silence, blows cascading but he might as well not care, body twitching like there’s nothing but reflex at work and he’s not even home, and maybe, maybe he will get through this, it can’t go on forever and maybe Loki’s strong enough to take it all-

The very end of the lash hits the stab wound going through Loki’s shoulder, and blood sprays out from it and a choked cry of agony escapes him.

No…

Laufey lifts his head, and Tony sees the corner of his mouth stretch into a pleased, predatory grin. “Harder.”

The next blow splits Loki’s skin, blood welling up and then running down Loki’s back in a single trail. The lash cuts it in half and leaves another ragged canyon behind, and then one across Loki’s shoulders - that one crosses four red wounds already laid down and Loki hisses through his clenched teeth and Tony flinches - oh fuck, if somebody saw that-

But every eye in the room is on Loki, the giants hungry for blood, the Asgardians shocked and weeping and trying to stay strong, all willing Loki to hold on, to survive - but Loki’s making noise with every snapping impact now, hands spasming, blood dripping down to the waist of his pants and Tony couldn’t even lay his hand flat on Loki’s back without touching an open welt.

How many has it been? Forty, fifty? Say sixty, say ten percent of his sentence and Loki’s already a bloody wreck.

He can’t possibly survive this. 

And the thought’s freeing because it means Tony has no choice now - he has to do something.

He shifts and leans forward to speak to Laufey, who’s watching the whole thing with a dark, rapt fixation. “Your majesty? A word?”

Laufey waves permission without looking away from Loki.

Tony swallows, face carefully blank anyway. “You know what Loki did to me. Could I - might I request - it’s kind of personal, you see, and if I’m going to get anything back, I’d like the chance to do it… you know. Myself.”

“Do you wish to take the whip?”

No, don’t make me - “I had something a bit different in mind,” Tony says casually, and Laufey finally faces him. 

He assesses Tony coolly, but he doesn’t make a move, and the biting cracks of the whip and Loki’s stifled cries don’t stop. “You know of the one true war Odin Allfather waged upon us, a millennium ago.”

“Of course,” Tony lies.

“Do you know of the times his sons have been to Jotunheim?”

Tony shakes his head and stamps down the dread rising in his chest.

“Doubtless your people speak with glory of Thor Odinson’s coming of age. The bestowal of the great warhammer Mjolnir. Do you sing tales of how he brought it to Jotunheim to test its strength? How he butchered my race, my people, those I am sworn to protect? Do your maps of Jotunheim bear his name on the chasms he struck into our world, the mountains he leveled? One day on our ice was given him by the Allfather. I saw him laugh for every moment of it.”

Tony looks at Thor - brutal Thor who swung that same hammer through rank upon rank of Earth’s soldiers, who just yesterday was seconds away from starting over - and believes every word. And who’s Tony to say that revenge isn’t the answer?

“Now, that one,” Laufey says, with a nod toward Loki, and suddenly Tony can hear the whip cracking again, hear Loki’s desperate gasps for breath. And no, Tony doesn’t want to know what Laufey has to say about Loki, doesn’t want to have the same thought that maybe the Jotuns are right, maybe he does deserve this… “That one was given the same gift, a day upon our world. Shrines still stood to the dead of his brother’s. He tried to speak to us. He said he was a scholar before a warrior, and sought only the gift of knowledge.” Laufey snorts. “We were not fools to believe the Silvertongue. We set upon him before he could strike first, bound him in ice and left him for the Allfather. He had lied, that he did not seek war. A scholar would have surrendered. Loki left so many dead some called him a second Thor.”

The words reach down in Tony’s chest, hunting out more empathy, but it’s long gone. No, Tony knows Loki, knows he would have loathed that ‘gift’, knows how passionately he talks of the things he’s learned from his trips to other worlds; he had to be telling the truth when he said he didn’t want to fight them. But after Thor it was way too late for that, and wouldn’t Loki have just loved that, Thor ruining everything for him years before. Thor came back covered in glory; Loki came back humiliated and hateful, and about the only person apart from the Jotuns Tony still thinks is to blame here is Odin. What the fuck was that guy thinking?

“And now Asgard has brought war upon us again. Four ventures the house of Odin has made onto my world, and they have left thousands dead. Thousands more have mourned because of them.” Laufey sweeps a hand at the Jotun soldiers watching, enthralled glee in every one of their faces as Loki sobs under the whip. “My men have lost too many to Odin and his line. Their mothers, their fathers, siblings… their children.” Laufey’s eyes fall. “As have I.”

Even Tony can’t mistake it for anything but grief.

Then Laufey lifts his head again, and when he meets Tony’s eyes, the red is searing with anger and vengeance. “We have earned his blood.”

Tony concedes. Has to. “Just leave some for me.”

Please, please, leave me something.

Laufey nods in consideration. “After Asgard is seen to fall to me, I have little use for him. If you can keep him from striking at us, you may have him.”

Tony exhales. “Thank you, your majesty.” It’s a lot less than what he wanted, but Laufey clearly thinks Loki will be alive at the end of this, and if that’s all Tony has to work with then he’ll make it be enough. Somehow.

There’s no other choice. He is not letting Loki die today.

Tony fixes his eyes on the giant ice boulder around Thor’s hammer - close enough to Loki that nobody should be able to tell he can’t bear to look there - but there’s nothing he can do to drown out the ceaseless, rhythmic sounds of Loki’s back shattering under the whip, and the cries tearing out of his throat that he can’t hold back anymore. But it’s the tiny, innocent sound of rain that gets to Tony the most - drops of blood splattering against the floor. Loki’s back is a blur of shining red in the corner of Tony’s eye, and they must have done something to that whip because there’s no way he should look that bad, no way a blunt impact should be drawing that much blood - they can create ice from thin air, there must be spiked barbs of it all along the whip, shredding Loki to pieces.

Six hundred lashes. Tony’s lost the count but they’re nowhere close to that yet. 

Laufey turns away for another moment and looks at Tony again, and Tony’s shaking, dizzy and weak like he’s about to pass out, pulse racing and thready, and Laufey stares deep and sees everything, sees him terrified for the man who was supposed to be torturing him like this just an hour ago, he’s going to work it out and kill Tony too-

“You are wounded,” Laufey says, and beckons a pair of giants out of the group; they come swiftly, well-trained soldiers, but not without lingering gazes at Loki’s shuddering form, sorry to miss the show. “They will see you to Asgard’s healers.”

The giants take Tony ever so carefully by the arms and help him to his feet - so fucking tender it makes him sick, because these are the same bastards enjoying this spectacle - and guide him down the steps of the dais. Relief floods in that Tony won’t have to see Loki suffer through all six hundred, but what if that’s exactly what happens, if Loki doesn’t get through all of them and Tony isn’t here - and he can’t leave Loki alone-

But he can’t refuse Laufey’s hospitality, either, so he bows his head in thanks.

“And when you return, I swear, he will be yours,” Laufey says. 

The whip cracks and Loki gives the first scream, agony ringing off the walls and columns.

Tony grins mechanically. “I can’t wait.”

~

On the one hand, with the endorphin rush wearing off and his back daubed with anesthetic and being wrapped in bandages, and wearing pants again, Tony’s actually got two brain cells to rub together to start coming up with a plan to get him and Loki out of here. On the other, he wasn’t expecting being away from Loki to make the worrying worse - and panic is bad, getting worked up is bad, going stupid out of his mind over this whole situation is bad, and Tony knows that but it’s not helping him calm down.

Loki’s his, and Tony isn’t losing him, not after everything else, but sitting on a table with a terrified healer behind him tying off the bandages around his torso, it’s not like there’s anything he can do to save him. Loki could already be dead at this point and Tony wouldn’t know.

But Laufey promised Loki to him, so he must be meant to survive. And Tony can just shut up on this point because there’s nothing he can do about it, so he’d better assume the best and start planning for what to do when Laufey hands Loki - alive and mostly well - over to him.

It won’t be enough to just grab Loki and run - Tony has to keep him out of their hands, or they’ll both be executed when they’re recaptured. But Tony can’t count on any help from somebody being tortured right this instant - shut the fuck up, brain, you are not being helpful, Loki’s fine - and the other Asgardians were giving him very unpleasant looks of the murdery kind, so he can’t risk breaking them out for backup. Tony’s on his own against enough men to take over an entire planet. 

I can do this. I can. I took down a whole terrorist ring, I can take down a handful of aliens. 

They’re frost giants, they’ll fall like flies under repulsor blasts, especially the new Asgardian-powered plasma ones. He’ll hit the workshop, grab the armor, fight his way to wherever they stash Loki, and fly them somewhere inaccessible on foot so the giants can’t come after them. Once they’re out of here, they can regroup and make plans that don’t focus on not dying in the next ten minutes. 

“There,” the healer says, her voice clipped and tight as she pulls the last knot snug, her hands trembling slightly. Tony can feel her eyes looking over his shoulder at the two giants flanking the door, huge and imposing even under the cathedral ceilings; there’s fear radiating off her in waves, her and the other healers huddled together at the back of the room. They all look younger than twenty, the juniors and apprentices left behind when the experienced ones went to war. Kids.

Too bad. Tony can’t protect everyone on the planet.

They’ll have to protect themselves.

He slides off the table - yeah, that is much better, and one thing taken care of - and turns to face the healer. She lifts her chin proudly, holding things together, and though she’s dangerously pale, Tony puts that down to the presence of the Jotuns and not from feeling faint at having to treat a whipping.

Good.

Because he can’t warn her now, but he’s sure going to need her again in a little while.

He gives her a cocky smile, collaborator riding high in the new order, and jerks his head at the giants. “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Hopefully that’ll be good enough. 

Her lips thin. “Is there anything else you require?”

“Just that,” Tony dares to stress. “Don’t do anything stupid.” He spins on his heel and beckons to his escort. “Let’s go, boys.”

~

It’s worse, six hundred lashes but Tony didn’t think it would get this much worse-

Loki’s whole back from his neck to his pants is blood and torn flesh, no skin left, nothing left, Tony can see bone, the blood’s pooling around his feet and splattered across the floor, and he’s hanging limply from the cuffs around his wrists, head lolling against his arm. He looks half-dead, maybe unconscious but he can’t be dead, somebody would have done something, at least cut him down…

Nobody’s moved since Tony left, Frigga and Thor’s friends on their knees on the floor, Thor bound to the throne above them, but they’ve broken; they’re all crying, silent but that earlier strength simply gone, Volstagg leaning on Hogun’s shoulder, Thor’s eyes shut tight, Frigga cradling Odin’s head to her chest. The frost giants thronging the room are looking to Laufey for orders now the whipping’s over, and Laufey himself is seated on the steps of the dais, the most imposing figure in the room. He sees Tony and grins in welcome. “Your enemy is fallen, my friend.”

Tony drags his eyes up and down Loki’s body while seeing as little as possible - blood, bone, god fuck no - but it’s over, that’s all there is, it can’t get any worse from here. “About time. And I can take him now?”

Laufey beckons at another giant, and Tony watches him stride forward with a bucket in his hands, and throw water over Loki’s body - no, don’t-

Loki jerks awake with a scream that spears straight through Tony’s chest, and Tony locks everything down before it can show, no gasp, no flinch, nothing. Somewhere he smells sharp salt - that giant got salt water to drench Loki in, salt water on that flayed-open back…

The giant drops the bucket to the floor and steps forward as Loki writhes, choking for breath, and he leans in close and stops with an inch of space between them, a huge blue hand braced on the column above Loki’s head. “My brother’s name was Rilgar,” he says in a low voice filled with rage, “and he is avenged.”

Oh, fuck.

No, Tony is not going to draw similarities between his own quest for revenge and this, the Jotuns are nothing like him, he never tortured Fury - you wanted to, killing him wasn’t enough - but that’s all he did, killed Fury cleaner than Fury killed Pepper.

And how cleanly did Loki kill Rilgar? Loki’s not an innocent, any more than Tony is…

“He’s yours,” Laufey says.

Everything else disappears. Yeah. He’s mine.

Tony strides forward, steps through Loki’s blood without pausing, and wraps an iron hand around the nausea stirring in his stomach as he grabs Loki by the hair, yanks his head back and lets their eyes meet. Loki’s deathly pale, breath hissing between his bleeding lips - chewed raw - and there’s nothing but pain and exhaustion in his gaze, unfocused, slipping. Tony can’t even be sure Loki recognizes him.

He makes himself revel in his moment of triumph, and calls over his shoulder. “Let him down for me.”

A giant blue fist slams against the thick bands of ice holding Loki’s hands to the whipping post, still without touching him like they promised, mercy, the sick bastards - and Loki falls, sprawled in his own blood at Tony’s feet. Tony’s heart lurches in his chest.

Help, he needs help, he can’t carry Loki on his own - he’s supposed to be playing the James Bond villain, he can’t have Loki be carried at all, it’s too nice…

“Wow, you really did a number on him,” Tony calls, fake-appreciation as smooth and intact as if he were talking to Fury or Coulson or Hill all over again. He waves a hand at the kneeling row of Asgardians. “Mind if I conscript your prisoners for a while?”

Laufey nods permission and Tony stabs two fingers at Hogun and Fandral, more composed than Volstagg and less likely to take stupid risks than Sif. “Get him on his feet.”

If looks could kill, Tony would be dead four times over, and the only reason it isn’t six is that Frigga’s curled over Odin’s head again and he’s pretty sure Thor’s crying too hard to see straight. But, flanked by four frost giants, Hogun and Fandral cross the floor to where Loki’s lying, pull him upright and each take an arm over their shoulders.

Tony turns away and beckons them to follow him as humiliatingly as he can - he’s a confident and suave evil genius, lording his newfound superiority. At least where the Jotuns can see. “Let’s take a walk.”

Loki’s feet shuffle roughly over the floor as he obeys - Loki obeying, Tony almost can’t think of anything more bizarre, more out of character - what the fuck has this done to him? Tony knows intimately the hell he went through with a few dunks in a barrel, and Loki’s been flogged for an hour by now… But thank fucking god, Loki can walk, Tony can hear him taking the steps, he’s going to be okay, he must be, there’s no way he’d be dumb enough to make himself walk if he didn’t have the strength to manage it - oh, of course he would, proud, arrogant Loki who’s always got to be in control of everything, of course he’d rather kill himself walking than need to be carried.

But he’s Asgardian, maybe it won’t kill him. Fuck, Tony needs help, he doesn’t know what to do…

“You’ll die for this,” Hogun says low under his breath as they walk down an otherwise deserted hall. “Loki trusted you. We all did.”

“I’d worry about Laufey before I worried about some collaborator, if I were you. And I’d be thinking about saving my own skin - and Thor’s, and Frigga’s, and my friends’, and what’s left of Loki’s-” good line, he congratulates himself before he can throw up, savage glee, sounds perfect, “before I did anything stupid.”

Yeah, stupid’s my territory. 

Tony convinced the Ten Rings he was building their missile, convinced SHIELD he was a meek little consultant, convinced Loki he was an obedient prisoner, convinced Thor he was an honorable enemy warrior, and he got everything he wanted. He can convince the Jotuns he’s an ally for long enough to get what he wants this time.

Him and Loki the hell out of here.

~

“Here we are,” Tony says, throwing open the doors to Loki’s wing, excuses prepared for if the frost giants ask why he’s locking a prisoner up in his own bedroom, but nobody questions him as Fandral and Hogun walk Loki in and lie him face-down on the backless sofa in front of the fireplace. Loki’s a pallid, drained white now, shivering faintly like he doesn’t have the energy to do anything more than tremble, mouth hanging open, face streaked with blood from the deep cut above his eye - head wound, Tony has to do something about that too…

He claps his hands. “Okay, before I let you go, fetch a healer for me.” He turns around to meet the Asgardians’ suspicious glares and odd flickers of looks from the Jotuns, and rolls his eyes. “Oh, come on, he’s no fun if he bleeds out, is he? I want him fixed before I break him again. Healer, now. Get out.”

He shoos Hogun and Fandral away and they glance at each other before turning to go, followed out by the silent cadre of Jotun guards, and the door bangs shut behind them.

Tony drops to his knees in front of Loki and doesn’t know what to do first - and there’s so much, get him some water, wash off the salt and blood, bandage him up - but he can’t fight the need to reach out and touch Loki’s cheek. “You still in there?”

Loki blinks, dazed, eyelids out of sync. He licks his lips slowly but Tony can see there’s no relief, no moisture left in him, and all he does is smear the blood around his mouth. “Tony?”

His voice is wrecked from screaming; Tony hears him being hit by the water again and knows there was immeasurably more, and has to swallow. But it’s alright now, it’s over, he can keep his prized prisoner here and hoard him to himself, let nobody else touch him. It’s over, he’s mine, nobody’s going to touch him.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s me,” Tony says. “You okay?”

Loki blinks again, and then his eyes don’t reopen. The gash across his forehead starts bleeding sideways with the new angle of him lying down. “Yes.”

“That has got to be the worst lie you’ve ever told, okay, let’s be honest with ourselves and say you’re majorly fucked over.” But he’s conscious, he’s answering questions, he can’t be about to die any second, Tony can keep him together until the healer gets here and does the rest. “Don’t suppose you keep a first aid kit around anywhere? Where’s the stuff you patch me up with?”

Loki exhales a breath that might be a laugh. “Do you think… that will make any… difference?”

“And you’re sassing me. Okay, I take it back, maybe that wasn’t a lie after all. Good, we’re on the same page, now can you please stop talking, because I think your voice is the sorest part of you right now, just listening to you is giving me laryngitis.”

“Mother?”

Oh, fuck, is he hallucinating- No, you panicking dumbass, you’re the one making shit up, of course he wants to know what happened to her. “She’s fine. Well. Sort of. They haven’t done anything you don’t already know about, the little bit with the hea- the whole taking over Asgard thing. But they’re keeping hostages. She’s valuable, she’ll be safe. Stop talking.”

Loki subsides and maybe falls asleep; that’s certainly what Tony would do in his position.

Tony eases out of his kneeling pose and leans back against the floor, takes several deep breaths for what feels like the first time since Thor announced his reborn designs on Earth, and starts planning for the next fifteen minutes: immediate damage control. Much as Tony wants to get out of here right now, they’re not going anywhere until Loki can at least walk on his own, and preferably defend himself if they get caught.

With that much blood loss, Loki needs fluids - and he needs more than just plain water, that wouldn’t be good enough at this point. Where the fuck am I supposed to get electrolyte solution here? Loki magicked up the good stuff he gave Tony to drink after that one hard scene, Tony has no idea how to lay his hands on some for himself. If he somehow managed to find the palace kitchens, he could get water and mix in some salt, sugar, ginger for the nausea Loki’s got to be feeling with that much pain - but does Asgard even have ginger, Loki knew the name but that’s no guarantee there’s any around. Jesus, how can Tony be sure they have salt and sugar?

But there’s a healer coming. Loki’ll survive until somebody who knows what they’re doing can take charge.

He should’ve sent Hogun for the healer and Fandral for something to drink… No more fuckups. Loki can’t afford them.

And Tony should probably have a bath at some point, since Loki’s a living paradise for infection right now and if Tony’s going to be anywhere near him, he’d better at least wash his hands. 

And then… 

Jotuns in Asgard. Loki’s going to want something done about that.

But doesn’t Tony have bigger things to consider? He’s still Earth’s first line of defense, and now he knows that Thor isn’t getting anywhere near it. Laufey’s set a precedent for planet-invading, so he’s not the safest bet for Tony to throw everything behind, but he’s all tied up in Asgard right now, surely not interested in starting anything else, and even if he was he’d still have to work out a way to get to Earth. And hell, Tony’s passing for Asgardian right now - Laufey may not even know Earth exists. And when the other option for Asgard’s ruler is Thor, Earth’s definitely safer with Laufey in charge. The only thing that stopped Thor this time was the loss of Heimdall; he’s still interested in Earth, and there’s no way the portal could only be controlled by that one guy - maybe it’s a Special King Power that Thor now holds, with his father dead. 

But even if he does, he can’t use it.

Yeah, because the Jotuns have brutalized him and his family and taken over his entire planet. Loki’s bloody, motionless form is right in front of Tony, crimson streaks now running down both his arms to drip onto the floor - lesser of two evils or not, the Jotuns are a damn big evil. Is Earth’s freedom really worth sacrificing all of Asgard?

Tony’s got the element of surprise, and very powerful weaponry - he could take down the Jotuns if he tried. Could free Asgard from their cold, grabby hands and rescue everyone here.

Or he could side with the guys who are going to protect Earth from Thor and his gang.

It’s a simple choice: Earth or Asgard.

Earth or Loki.

Because Tony could just truly switch sides to Laufey, and head up a new workshop supplying the Jotuns with shiny things they like, and being a useful ally of the new king, he’d do pretty well for himself. Ensure Earth’s safety and his own, just go with the flow and carve himself out another place in Asgard’s world order.

Just one problem with that, though.

Loki’s not in this picture.

There’s no way he’d overlook what Laufey’s done to his family, no way he’d be satisfied with what his place has become - if nothing else, Tony gives it three days before the imprisonment drives him completely up the walls. Everything about him that Tony’s drawn to would disappear under the pressure of being trapped in a single room while his enemies ravage his planet and torment his brother and his mother. And if Tony tried to enforce that, he’d die. Nastily. And he’d be grateful, because seeing Loki beaten and exhausted is bad enough - Tony doesn’t want to see him actually broken.

And there’s no way Tony can overlook this becoming a picture without Loki in it.

Tony refuses to live out his life without seeing that sharp smile when there’s a sneaky plot on the horizon, won’t lose the adoration and the passion and the need Loki feels for him. Can’t lose the comfort of letting Loki in this close and being better off for it.

Tony doesn’t fall for someone so much as plummet, and he broke all speed records for Loki.

This’ll have to go the hard way.

Loki put Asgard at risk to protect Earth for Tony’s sake, and what’s Tony really good at?

One-upping all of Loki’s most impressive tricks.

Double or nothing.

Chapter Text

Unsurprisingly, Tony’s slept atrociously - because he’s lying on the floor in a pile of blankets, not because he’s worried and possibly had nightmares last night, because he didn’t, and he’s not worried, everything’s going to be fine…

And if Tony’s brain is producing shit like that, he’s obviously high. 

Loki’s father is a severed head, his mother and brother are hostages, he nearly got flogged to death last night, and Tony’s the only hope of making any of this come out right. 

They’re fucked.

Tony climbs out of his furs and crosses the room to look at Loki, face-down in the pillows on the bed, his wrists tied to the sides of the frame so he can’t roll over in his sleep and put weight on his back. The cut above his eye has mostly healed overnight, just a red line left that’ll probably disappear by tomorrow, but that’s the best news. Like Tony, Loki’s torso is swathed in white bandages; dark splotches of blood are showing through Loki’s, testament to how torn up he still is, significantly worse than any wounded Asgardian Tony’s ever seen before. The healer fixed as much as she could, and that was a lot - he’ll be fully recovered in about a week - but until then there’s nothing more they can do to help. Turns out Asgardians can speed up the body’s own healing processes, but can’t replace them, and Loki’s had so much taken out of him that even after the healer’s efforts, there’s a lot of work to do and it’s going to take time.

While being attacked on Earth Tony got used to the idea of Asgardians being indestructible. Tony looks at Loki, pale as a sheet and alive by the thinnest of margins, and doesn’t think that anymore. 

Tony doesn’t want to know how close Loki came to dying yesterday, and hell, how close did Tony come? If Loki hadn’t tricked the Jotuns into thinking Tony was on their side…

When the enemy is at our gates, I promise the last thing I will be thinking about is Stark, Loki told Thor.Tony scoffs and shakes his head, and finger-combs Loki’s hair back from his face.

“You saved my life, you idiot,” he whispers. “Why the hell didn’t you do anything about yours?”

“I’ll have you know I did,” Loki says, “and you stare very loudly.” 

His eyes slide open, clear and lucid and not sleepy at all, but most importantly he’s actually able to focus on Tony’s face when he looks up. 

Tony swallows, caught. “That’ll happen when I’m not sure if you’re about to bleed out.”

“Stop fretting.” Loki’s eyes close again, but his voice is strong. “I’ll die when Laufey demands it, and not before.”

“You’re not dying at all,” Tony snaps, and grips Loki’s chin in his hand; Loki’s eyes fly back open and fix on his. “That’s why you got me on their side, right? You heal up while I keep you to myself, I earn some more trust out of these idiots, and we’re gone. I can fly one of those boats, the armor’s going to kick their asses if I need it, we’ll get out and work out what to do from there-”

“We can’t run.”

“What, no, of course we can, it’ll be fine, I’ll get us out of here, you know I can-”

Stark,” Loki says, resolute and convinced, and Tony knows he doesn’t want to hear what’s coming next. “Stark, I-”

“Don’t be stupid, there’s no way I’m letting you-”

“I will not leave my mother and brother to die because you wish it!”

Tony stops, and pulls his hand back. His heart judders in his chest. “Man, that’s - that’s damn cold, you know that? All I’m doing is trying to save your life and you - you think I want them dead? No, but this is not the moment to become a hero, okay? We get out! We regroup and hit back when we’ve got something to fight with! But this - the famous last stand is never the answer, got that?”

“And when we return, what will we have left to fight for?” Loki’s green stare impales him. “I will not give Laufey reason to kill them.”

“And when Laufey finds a reason to kill you? Loki, please - I can’t watch you die when I could have saved you. Can’t watch you die for your family, I - I can’t see that again, okay? I’ve had enough of losing people I didn’t save.” He’s way oversharing and he doesn’t even care. I am not failing a third time.

“And I cannot watch them die for me. Surely you of all people understand that.” Loki grins, a twisted, dark imitation of his usual teasing mockery. “Given that you are begging me for the same.”

No,” Tony hisses, desperate denial, but underneath he can feel it sinking in - Loki means this, the idiot, he’s going to stay here and die a grand death saving his family or something ridiculous like that - “Don’t do this to me.”

“I will. Believe me, Stark, I must.”

Tony throws his hands in the air and stalks away from the bed, frustration spiking under his skin. “Fine, you don’t like my plan, the plan you carefully made sure I would be able to pull off, whatever. What do you want to do about this clusterfuck?”

Loki scowls - good, he should know that Tony’s pissed at his sudden turn towards nobility and honor - and tenses to push himself up-

Damn,” he hisses between his clenched teeth, writhing in pain and digging his forehead into the pillow, and Tony shoots across the room to hold him down and rub soothing circles into his arms.

“Breathe,” he orders, his own breath shaking, “just - calm down, okay, that was bad, you need to- Relax. You’ll be fine, come on, breathe for me. And don’t move, and definitely don’t try to use your back for anything, got me?”

Tony strokes Loki into easing up on himself and then keeps doing it, fitting his hands to the smooth curves of Loki’s biceps, triceps, deltoids, spared from the flogging by the viciously accurate aim of the Jotun holding the whip. Whatever else happens here, I’m finding that guy and killing him.

“Can’t you take some of that galany root thing you gave me? Wipe out the pain?”

Loki laughs and seizes up again - god, Tony’s a fucking idiot, making him laugh is not okay - not that he knows what he said that’s so funny, but he caresses Loki back out of it until he’s got himself under control.

Loki lifts his face out of the pillow and turns towards Tony. “Replace the pain with pleasure? You felt what that root did to your back. Do you really think I want it?”

Tony winces. “Let me guess, that’d be a new definition of coming your brains out?”

“I tried it once, with broken ribs,” Loki admits, recovered enough for wry amusement. “I think I spilled fifteen times before I managed to get the root back out. It took two minutes at most.”

“That’s more than once every ten seconds.” Tony’s cock throbs, a little bit from how hot that must have looked, but mostly in sympathy.

“I was in a great deal of pain. And still less then than now.”

“Point taken.”

“Remember it, Stark,” Loki says, his gaze deep. “All beautiful things can be dangerous, when seen right.”

“I’m not likely to forget that. You’re always dangerous.”

Loki smiles at him, and Tony realizes he’s still running his hands down Loki’s arms - not good when combined with the thought of Loki helplessly coming over and over. And calling him beautiful. Tony coughs and sits back, stuffing his hands under his thighs, and nods sharply. “Okay. Plan?”

Loki’s eyes flutter shut again. “We can do nothing yet. Even if I could fight, they are too many for us to defeat. We cannot strike until victory can be ours without cost. If we move too soon and even one Jotun escapes us… all could be lost. However, Laufey holds the palace, but he must yet take the rest of Asgard, and be seen to take it. He’ll overreach himself, become distracted, divide his forces. Leave few enough in the palace that we can kill them all, and then hunt down the others with every advantage. The right moment will come if we are patient. We merely need to make sure we are posed to take advantage of it.”

“And we can’t wait for the right moment away from the people who want to kill you?”

Loki sighs. “If I escape, they’ll kill - probably Mother, to warn others against doing the same. And I…” His jaw clenches, and a tear spills down his cheek. “I have lost Father to this already. I cannot lose her too. Nor Thor. No, Stark, we will do nothing until I am sure they will not pay for it.”

“We can’t hang around here forever!”

“We are safer here than anywhere else. Laufey won’t kill his hostages without need, and won’t turn on you without reason. We can use that.” Loki chuckles softly, small enough to not strain his back again. “Remember, I made Thor a promise on Midgard, when this war began. That we would defeat Jotunheim once more, and he would have Laufey’s skull for a drinking horn. We shouldn’t waste Laufey’s kindness in bringing his skull to us.”

“Then what do you want me to-”

Heavy pounding erupts from outside - not the bedroom door but the outer door between them and the palace, exactly what a giant fist knocking would sound like. Shit, shit, shit. “Damn, they start early, don’t they?”

Loki’s voice is tight. “Pass me a knife.”

“What?” Tony doesn’t waste time, raiding the stash under the mattress. “Why?”

“Because I must cut myself free and cannot focus to summon one in this much pain!” Loki’s bound hand snatches the knife from Tony easily and flips it to saw at the ropes holding his arms splayed. “Now answer them. And remember your role - cruel, vengeful-”

“I know,” Tony says, hauling the bedroom door open. “I had to watch them flog you and smile about it, okay, I’m not about to forget!”

“Forgive me if I am overly-”

Tony marches out - this is not the time for Loki’s attitude even if it is a defensive mechanism, like Tony’s - kicks the door shut again to give the right impression, and strides straight down the hallway, head high, confident and evil. Let’s do better than yesterday.

He doesn’t cut a very imposing figure in pajamas and unshaved stubble, but he’s done more with less.

Well, no. He really hasn’t. 

He felt better before he thought that. 

Tony pulls open the outer doors to find three giants staring down at him, tall, blue, and completely indistinguishable from each other; Tony recognizes Laufey solely by the stolen gold spear in his hand, and hopes to hell nobody else has borrowed it. He sketches a bow. “Good morning.”

“Anthony,” Laufey acknowledges, and leads his escort into Loki’s wing, Tony stepping back to make space. “Where is he?”

No points for guessing who he is. Tony waves at the bedroom. “Stuck him in there.” He winks as the two Jotun soldiers pass him to open the doors for Laufey. “Easy access in case I woke up in the middle of the night with a craving.”

Laufey laughs - don’t think about it, just don’t think - and Tony smiles and gestures invitingly at the open doorway. “When you will.”

Tony follows behind Laufey as he stalks into the room, filling the space with his presence, and Tony looks frantically around for Loki - he’d better have gotten himself out of bed by now, evil-Tony would never have allowed that, he should be-

Slumped on the floor against the foot of the bed, wearing nothing but bandages and a pair of soft, loose pants supplied by the healer, hands cuffed in front of him by the heavy gray shackles brought in by a Jotun last night for evil-Tony’s needs. Loki lifts his head as they enter to reveal a wicked purple bruise across his cheekbone. “Ah, you’ve invited your new friends for tea. How thoughtful.”

“Isn’t it cute how he acts like he’s still in charge?” Tony says to Laufey, dismissing Loki completely; Loki glares and tugs at his cuffs but there’s no denying he’s the powerless one right now. 

Laufey pushes straight forward, raises the spear and sets the point at Loki’s throat in simple, blatant threat - no gloating or mockery, just takes Loki’s life straight into his hands and out of Tony’s - Loki shifts back warily but there’s nowhere to go once his back’s against the bed, and he goes rigid with pain at the contact and then the tip of the spear digs ever so slightly into his skin; a single bead of blood wells up and runs down to the hollow between his collarbones. Tony isn’t breathing.

“The Casket,” Laufey intones, so weighty Tony can hear the capital letter. “Tell us how to retrieve it.”

“Y-you can’t,” Loki says, struggling to not cut himself on the spear as his throat works. “The wards set upon it - any Jotun who touches it will be destroyed. But… perhaps you already know this, hmm?” His eyes light up and he continues with glee despite having to speak so softly. “Perhaps you have lost men in the attempt already, and that is why you seek my help.”

Tony tenses, sure Laufey’s about to demand he discipline his mouthy prisoner, but Laufey just stares down glacially and doesn’t move. “Tell us how to retrieve it.”

“You can’t,” Loki repeats. “The Destroyer has its orders and will not be countermanded. It would have to be destroyed itself, and you have not the weapons to do so. No Jotun may take the Casket, and should you think your new pet can lift it for you-” his eyes, dark and hateful, slide to Tony, “the Casket itself will kill any Asgardian who lays a hand upon it.” He grins. “Please, do try. I should like to see you slaughtered by the same power you now whore yourself to-”

And Tony can’t possibly stand for that. 

Laufey kindly removes the spear for Tony to surge forward, snatch up the knife Loki’s left lying on the bed, drop to one knee and yank Loki’s head back by the hair to rest the knife against his bared throat. “I don’t have to put up with your arrogant shit anymore, lord and master Prince Loki,” he spits. “You shut your mouth, or I’ll - I’ll sew it shut for you.”

Loki’s gaze flickers, putting the lie to his bravado. Hopefully deliberately. “Oh? And how will you interrogate me then?”

Tony moves the tip of the knife to rest over the still-raw stab wound going through Loki’s shoulder, and presses in, tearing just the top layer of bandaging. “You think I can’t leave you in so much pain you rip the stitches out yourself?” Tony moves closer, until he can feel the heat of Loki’s shallow breaths. “You broke my heart, Loki Odinson. I don’t remember how to be merciful.”

Tony slams their lips together in a brutal, punishing kiss, and Loki gasps in shock and flinches back - hits up against the bed again and cries out - and raises his bound hands to shove Tony away. But where Laufey can’t see there’s a soft brush of Loki’s tongue against Tony’s, and that’s enough - stop, stop before it’s too much, stop now before you can’t - Tony laughs and stands up, wiping his mouth with the back of the hand still holding the knife, and steps aside to let Laufey in again.

What the hell kind of monster is Tony to be able to pull this off without breaking down?

Loki’s shaking, revulsion written in every line of his body, violated and helpless and - faking every second, remember that, he knows this isn’t you. 

But the injuries are real, the imprisonment is real…

But so is the look of growing respect Tony’s getting from Laufey and the other Jotuns, and that’s what he needs right now.

“Is what he says about the Casket true?” Laufey asks Tony. “That you cannot retrieve it?”

Tony has no fucking clue - but he shouldn’t, anyway, this can’t be common Asgardian knowledge or they’d just have asked him upfront. And it’s pretty clear Loki wants him to agree. “I think so. It’s not the sort of thing they advertise, but there are rumors - a child who found it and…”

A grin spreads across Laufey’s face at the thought of his Casket killing a curious kid exploring the attic. Tony shrugs. “Yeah, these guys seem to have a habit of surrounding themselves with dangerous stuff, and then they’re all surprised when they get hurt.” He reaches out to pat Loki’s head roughly. “Aren’t you?”

This time Loki grits his teeth and bears the humiliation, and doesn’t stir even at the low laughter of the two Jotun guards, watching everything.

“Very well.” Laufey looks down at Loki once more, and then lifts the spear and-

Smacks Loki across the face with it in a sickening crack of metal impacting flesh and bone.

“I do not need you alive,” Laufey says. “Make yourself useful to us or you will die.”

Head snapped to the side from the power of the blow, tears standing in his eyes and bound hands raised to cradle his cheek, Loki snarls, but it’s weak and ragged. “Then I’ll die.”

“You die when I’m done with you,” Tony snaps before Laufey thinks to kill Loki right here. “And let me tell you, that day is a long way off.”

“Good,” Laufey intones, and Loki shudders.

Laufey nods to Tony, and Tony returns a shallow bow - should be a nice balance for the deferential ally - and Laufey turns and leaves without another word, his two guards falling in behind him, and they close the doors after themselves with a heavy boom.

All the breath rushes out of Tony’s body at once and he falls limply to his knees at Loki’s side. “You had better have a plan ready, because I have had it up to here with those guys. So rude, we were in the middle of something.” He fumbles at the lock to Loki’s cuffs. “You were saying…?"

Tony doesn’t miss the flicker of gratitude in Loki’s eyes at the opportunity to not talk about what just happened. “Yes, I… yes.” He coughs, and winces as it strains not only his back but the bruises across his face, Laufey’s and the one he must have done to himself to look the abused hostage. 

Tony finally manages to open the cuffs, and he yanks them off and hurls them across the room. Loki chuckles, but it’s forced, and he’s already rubbing at his bare wrists unconsciously, almost compulsively, and Tony bites his tongue before he can let slip that he’s noticed Loki’s not okay with all of this. They both need Loki strong, and Tony knows all too well how much harder it is if you ever admit you’re not.

“Fools,” Loki says absently, glancing after the cuffs. “It takes far more than mere manacles to bind magic. I will not be brought down so easily.” 

His hands spasm around his wrists and his eyes fall shut. “I will not break.” Like it’s a lie he’s trying to convince himself of. Like it’s a prayer.

He draws in a deep, steadying breath before Tony can think of the right thing to say, and he meets Tony’s eyes, some of the steel back in his gaze. “And they will never see us coming. Oh, yes, I have a plan. Can you serve me in this as well as you have since you swore yourself to me? I need everything of you, Stark, all your skills and wit. Are they mine to wield?”

Tony reaches out and takes Loki’s hand in the Asgardian-style warriors’ grip. “Hell yes.”

Loki grins. “Then listen well.”

~

Tony doesn’t like this plan.

Well, Tony rarely likes any plan that he doesn’t come up with, and even when he does, he likes the plan a lot more than he likes actually carrying it out.

Building a mechanical suit of armor to blast his way out of the terrorists’ cave? Great. Getting shot at and falling out of the sky to land in the desert and starve to death? Not so much. 

And Loki’s plan alone is equal parts appalling and terrifying.

The longer we wait to kill them, the longer Laufey has to kill us. And I will not have that, but I can do nothing as I am - so you must do it for me, my Stark.

You must befriend them. Make yourself Laufey’s right hand, Helblindi’s bosom companion. Do everything they ask of you, offer them your counsel and advice, abuse me such that they have no doubt of your enmity towards Asgard - so that when you tell them it would be unwise to kill Mother, or Thor, they will listen. They will tire of their promise of mercy eventually, but I will be spared if they honor your prior claim to my blood. Earn such confidence that they share their plans with you - and you must earn it, Stark, there will be prices to be paid. Do not hesitate.

Bend them to your will, twist them around your fingers. You know my tricks. Know your own. Use them.

Well, maybe Loki’s good at playing the conquering prince who enjoys his captive’s suffering, but Tony’s not sure how much longer he can keep this facade up. He thought he was hot shit, concealing his loathing of the paparazzi and the government and SHIELD, and he was a fucking idiot who let said loathing show through a lot more often than he didn’t, and didn’t know enough to identify his feelings as mild dislike

Fury didn’t enjoy bombing America. Those asshole celebrity photographers had to make a living too. 

But the two Jotuns guarding Loki’s bedroom gleefully offered to not allow Loki anything to eat or drink, or another healer, no matter how much he pleads with them, and Tony had to smile and thank them for their dedication instead of strangling them both with his bare hands. 

And fuck, but he wanted to do that. He was this close to risking everything by blowing his cover, and this is only day one of what could be a very long occupation - things are going to get far worse before he and Loki can make them better. He’s never had to pull off the playboy in these circumstances.

You’ll do it or you’ll watch Loki die before they kill you as well.

Tony sighs and stares down at the disassembled armor, lying in pieces across his worktable, lit by small globes hanging from the ceiling. The huge windows are useless for light - it’s pouring rain outside, has been since yesterday when Asgard went to hell - and there’s water and wind blowing in, but right now it suits Tony’s mood. It almost feels good that things aren’t perfect, that the cloud hanging over Asgard is actually accompanied by real cloud, because if this were just another normal, sunny day, Tony thinks he might scream. Nothing is okay here and he couldn’t bear it if anything was, if he were just standing here in his workshop tinkering like he dreamed the whole thing. 

But he can still feel Loki’s blood under his fingernails and the crushing sense of Laufey’s presence like a physical weight on his shoulders, and the whole world is blurred, dissolved gray outside the windows and Tony wants it to end. Wants to throw himself in the armor and shoot everything blue in the entire palace, kill his entire nightmare in one fell swoop and get back to waking up in the mornings thinking about nothing more than whether his ass is still slick enough from the previous night to start another round without more prep.

But he can’t. The deep green ceramic plates gleam up at him, power and temptation right there at his fingertips, all but begging to be allowed to kill his enemies, but he can’t. Loki’s right, there are too many of them, and the consequences of letting any of them survive are way too high. If Tony took that risk and failed…

He’d die. Then Loki. Then everyone Loki cares about. And after putting down one rebellion, there’s no telling what Laufey would do to the people of Asgard in the name of preventing another - and in the end, they’re only in danger because of Tony. He asked for Earth to be saved and war with Jotunheim is how Loki did it, and that means Tony owes it to them to not fuck this up.

But if Tony waits, if he knuckles down and endures and suffers whatever comes his way, he can still save everyone.

I’m a mechanic, right, he thinks as he starts picking up the pieces of the armor. I’ll fix this.

Rescued-prisoner-Tony would adore getting back into his workshop - Tony knows that from personal experience - so it suits Loki’s plan just fine to have Tony stay in here all day working on the armor that he supposedly lost when Loki locked him up. And that’s all Tony has to do today, get his armor ready, go back to Loki after dinner - almost a completely acceptable day before the Jotuns attacked.

Almost.

He misses Loki leaning, smirking and impressed, against an empty bench as Tony works, misses turning around to show off a particularly awesome build, misses ‘thanking Loki for permission to work’ by spreading himself out on a table and having Loki fuck him until they collapse.

Tony misses the Asgardian smiths who shared their trade secrets and sounded interested in hearing about how he did things. He doesn’t even know if they’re still alive, if they put up a fight or just ran and got themselves away. None of their families have been taken hostage; he hopes they picked the smart route, but the geeky one Tony called Q, he was definitely feisty enough to object if anybody stormed his personal workshop. On the other hand, maybe they don’t even know what’s happened, since Laufey hasn’t left the palace yet; the smiths only came up here by appointment, they had lives beyond helping Tony out.

Have. They have lives.

Tony sighs through his teeth. This isn’t the first time he’s been here, and given his recent track record it won’t be the last, and at some point he’s going to learn to deal with shit like this. People die and people get hurt and other people will do that to them, and that’s going to happen whether Tony’s here or not.

He just gets to pick who’s who.

~

Tony enters the throne room for the celebratory feast dinner wearing ‘stolen’ clothes of Loki’s since it’s not like rescued-prisoner-Tony should have anything nice of his own, and Helblindi greets him with one of those slow, thin frost giant grins.

“Welcome again, Anthony.” He lays his hand carefully on Tony’s shoulder. “How are your wounds?”

“Healing, thanks to you.”

“Good. Come, sit.”

Helblindi escorts him to the center of a long table set up in front of the dais, so loaded beyond belief that Tony doesn’t know how it hasn’t broken in half. It’s flanked on both sides by frost giants having what looks like just any other party, eating and drinking and cracking jokes; several of them raise their tankards in toasts as Helblindi and Tony walk past and seat themselves. If it weren’t for the fact that they’re all blue and about four feet taller than Tony is, the scene at first glance would be all-but indistinguishable from the handful of Asgardian public events Tony’s attended with Loki.

But the serving staff are hiding in the shadows of the towering columns lining the room, wide-eyed and terrorized, and above them on the throne is Thor, still trapped and helpless, watching his enemies make themselves at home, with him right there and unable to stop them.

Tony looks up and waits for Thor to see him, and then he smiles.

And if he’s not entirely acting that part? If there’s the smallest part of Tony that thinks Thor deserves what he’s got?

It’s still well outweighed by Tony’s utter revulsion for the whole situation, but it makes this one moment of acting a little easier.

Thor’s eyes burn with anger through his tears, and Tony smirks and looks away, and spots a platter of that nice roasted Asgardian poultry he’s getting fond of, and pulls it towards him.

“Go carefully,” Helblindi cautions as Tony starts loading up his plate. “You were starved a day ago.”

Good excuse for explaining Tony’s total lack of anything approaching Asgardian strength. Tony limits himself to three slices - compromise, since he’s actually starving right now - and goes for the plain bread instead of the amazing one with all the oil and herbs and molasses. “Good advice. You meet a lot of starving people?”

Helblindi shrugs and takes some bread after Tony. “Jotunheim’s winters are long.”

Tony exhales through his nose and starts tearing the bread into very small, very neat pieces. “That sounds pretty tough.”

“It is for those who starve,” Helblindi says dismissively; it couldn’t be clearer he doesn’t care so long as he’s not one of them. “But all of us have been crushed under Asgard’s heel. Our pride choked, our ice shattered, our people slaughtered. Never again.”

He leans down towards Tony, and Tony’s hit by the chill pouring off him. “I killed my own brother to claim my place as my father’s heir. I will not hesitate to kill all Asgard to protect my throne.”

Whoa. “How’d you get away with that?”

Helblindi waves a massive hand and smacks another giant in the shoulder, but he barely even moves. “A hunting accident. Bylestir was known to be a clumsy rider, better on foot. No-one was surprised when he fell from his mount.”

Tony glances around at this uncovering of a clever murder plot, but absolutely no-one is paying attention to them. That, or they just don’t care. “So your father’s actually lost two kids?”

“Loptr was fortunate to die before I was born. I would have killed him too. I’ll kill my father one day, when I am no longer content to wait. I’ll kill you if you get in my way, my friend.” His freezing breath washes over Tony’s face. “I will kill anyone between me and my crown.”

Awkward. Tony smiles. “I don’t much care who’s king, honestly, so long as it’s not him.” He jerks a thumb at Thor and Helblindi laughs. 

“Be so,” he says, in the tone of someone wishing amen. “Do you join us tomorrow?” He lifts an enormous tankard as he speaks, filled with something that smells strong enough to peel paint, and takes a drink. And then proceeds to chug the entire thing.

“What’s tomorrow?”

Helblindi smiles and bangs his empty tankard to the table. “The fall of all Asgard. They lie ignorant of who rules here. My father means to put an end to that.”

Tony hums thoughtfully; just like Loki said. Ten points to Slytherin. “Sounds interesting.” Sounds like Laufey dividing his forces and maybe leaving some guys scattered around to control problem areas, if he feels there’s a need. If Tony can make one. “I could be persuaded.”

“Then I have a task for you.”

“Yeah?”

~

Tony is definitely wishing he didn’t eat so much at dinner - only a slice of meat and half the bread, but now he’s regretting that he touched any of it. 

It’s one thing to villain himself up around the Jotuns. 

It’s another to do it to a woman being held hostage, mourning her dead husband, and - oh yeah - Loki’s mother.

“Hand over the damn head,” he snaps, something like the fifth time he’s asked, and his stomach churns. “Trust me, you want to do this my way. They don’t need you alive as much as all that.”

She glares back, arms wrapping Odin’s head like she’s all that’s keeping him alive. “Haven’t you done enough here?”

Tony glances up the corridor lined with cells, but the Jotun guards are posted around the corner and shouldn’t be able to hear him. “Pretty sure the only thing I’ve done was to get Loki out of there once they were finished with him. Think about that for a minute, just give me the head first.”

“Why?” she whispers, but stands up from her corner and walks to the front of her cell to gently lie Odin’s head on the floor by the energy barrier anyway. “What more can they want with him?”

Tony, pretending he actually gives a shit about prison procedure, waits until she’s retreated to the back wall to drop the barrier, scoop Odin’s head into a bag - and god, that’s one of the more disgusting things he’s done in his life - and seal Frigga in again. “Death notice. Laufey kind of snuck in here. Time to go spread the word. Outside the corporate world it’s a pretty shitty takeover if nobody notices.”

She hugs her arms around herself as she settles back down in that corner. “You will pay for what you’ve done.”

“I’d give Loki first dibs on that, if I were you,” Tony says. Yeah, his idea of punishment is more fun. “He’s fine, by the way, in case you were wondering. Well. For a certain definition of ‘fine’. Not sure who’s worse off out of him and Thor, but hey. That’s not really my problem.” They’re both okay, you get it?

Frigga’s eyes widen by the smallest of fractions to show she heard the message, but other than that’s she’s as good as Romanoff, slumping back in defeat and dropping her face into her hands. Unless her act looks convincing because it’s not an act, and she didn’t get the message after all… 

“I beg of you, leave me in peace,” she says, muffled by her palms. “You have my sons and my husband. You can’t possibly want more of me.”

“For now,” Tony agrees. “But don’t think you’ll be overlooked forever.”

He marches away before he says something that’ll get him in trouble - breaks his cover, upsets her for real, whatever - and besides, he’s still got people to see down here.

He highly doubts Thor’s friends have the patience and intelligence to even consider that Tony’s playing the frost giants, but he might be wrong. Maybe they’re smarter than he gives them credit for.

He keeps his head high as he strides past the cells filled with Asgard’s prisoners - people locked up before the occupation, who the Jotuns are ignoring - and rounds the corner. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me…”

The absolute fuckwits of frost giant guards have put all four of Thor’s friends in the same cell, and Tony knows that the sloppier the guards are the better for him, but even so he is genuinely horrified at the atrocious standards the giants have let themselves fall to. How is anyone this stupid?

Still. Tony’s supposed to be their helpful ally, and this isn’t a chance to be missed.

Hogun sees Tony first and nudges the others; they look up, and hey, there are the murderous death glares again. Lovely, Tony had missed the feeling of being barbecued by eyeball. He grins. “Hello, Minnesota!”

Not getting ESPN on Asgard, they completely fail to appreciate his wit - and that was a sports-pun, that’s a stretch for Tony, what a waste - and just all climb to their feet like that makes them more threatening; thanks to the gap between the corridor and the cell floors, it actually does elevate them about a foot above Tony, but he’s in full arrogant CEO mode now and he’s not going to be put off by what’s essentially a really big pair of high heels. 

“What do you want, traitor?” Sif spits, stepping forward.

Tony lays a hand over his heart as if wounded. “Can’t I check in on how my dear friends are doing?”

Sif bares her teeth. “We were never friends to you. We tolerated you because Loki demanded it.”

Oh, they’re good at lying to themselves. But so much for Plan B for Backup - they’ll never listen to him now if they’ve erased all the good credit Tony had going for him before the occupation. 

So it’s just him and Loki - and really, it was always going to be that way.

“That does make this all your fault, you know,” he shoots back. “If you hadn’t turned on me, I wouldn’t have a reason to help the Jotuns now. But you clearly don’t trust me, you don’t want me on your side - I might as well sign up with them.”

Fandral scoffs. “For all we know, you brought them here as you helped Midg-”

Whatever,” Tony says sharply, cutting Fandral off - his heart’s racing, he can’t believe he almost blew it that badly, the Jotuns down at the end of this row of cells had better not have caught the word Midgard… “You’re all idiots and not worth my time. Just not as much of idiots as you guys-” he bellows at the Jotun guards. “Seriously, what’s the matter with you? You take your four most dangerous prisoners and stick them all in the same cell?

They come down the corridor distinctly sheepishly, and being Laufey’s buddy must be an extremely powerful place to be because they just let Tony chastise them. It’s almost like being back on Earth, no question that Tony’s in charge here, and damn if it’s not just a little bit fantastic.

“Apologies,” says the one on the left, taller and with yellowy ridges of bone protruding from his skull in narrow lines. “We do not have prisons on Jotunheim.”

“Very enlightened-”

“Any crime worthy of the name is punished by death.”

Ah. “Well, unfortunately for you, these guys are too valuable to kill, so let me tell you what’s going to happen here. Stick her in with the queen,” Tony orders, pointing at Sif, “since Laufey’s trying out this whole mercy thing, and then you’re going to find some empty cells for the other three. Two of them, anyway, the third one can stay here. Off you go.”

Sif’s hands clench into fists by her sides. “I shall enjoy watching you die.”

“Good thing you’re happy to settle for watching, otherwise you’d have to draw straws.” Still, Tony makes sure he’s behind the giants when one of them drops the shield, and the other grabs Sif and drags her out. 

The shield goes back up to hold the Warriors Three while the first giant looks for some unoccupied cells for them, so at least Tony’s supposed allies aren’t completely inept; on a scale of one to Justin Hammer they probably only rank a seven. The second giant takes Sif down the corridor; far too up himself to actually help out in any material way, Tony leads, spinning around to march backwards and smirk at Sif.

“Be happy,” he says, “Frigga probably wants some company, she’s kinda lonely in there without Yorick.” He holds up the bag with Odin’s head in it, and Sif stares blankly - “Odin,” Tony adds, and her face contorts in anger.

He rolls his eyes. “Oh, come on, I’m doing you a favor!” And the really annoying part is that it’s actually true, Tony promised to protect Loki’s mother and he’s not about to leave her alone for however long this takes, and if there is some kind of threat to her then Sif’s the best choice to fight it off-

Shouts, and then screaming, come from behind him and Tony spins around wildly - the Asgardians are fighting the move, they’re going to kill him, either them or Loki for blowing the plan - but Tony can see them still in their cell, no Jotun in sight, so it’s not them, but-

Something’s thrown out of another cell further down the corridor, landing in a pile of dark objects, and Tony feels sick dread claw at his stomach.

The giant steps out of that cell, ice blade down his arm dripping with blood, and drops another prisoner’s body in the pile. 

He looks up and sees Tony. “These cells are empty.”

~

Tony makes it all the way back to their bedroom before the shaking starts, his arms giving out as soon as he’s shoved the doors closed and his entire body collapsing to the floor straight after.

He slams his head against the door and screws his eyes shut, but the bodies are burned into his lids, and he presses the back of his hand over his mouth. No, no, no, I fucked up, I fucked up…

“Stark?” he hears from behind him, and he barely manages to turn and look over his shoulder at Loki - lying across the sofa bench where Tony left him this morning, a pale shape in the darkness of the room, trying to push himself upright. “What’s wrong?”

“Stop moving,” Tony rasps.

“Then come here.”

Tony shakes his head. “Thanks, I’m fine right-”

Come here.

The command pulls at him and Tony wants to crawl over there and let Loki comfort him - but that’s stupid, he doesn’t need that, can’t need that, and he laughs and pushes into the door for support instead. “Should’ve known they couldn’t beat the princely out of you.”

Loki just gives off that I am waiting for you to obey me air, perfectly composed despite being unable to walk and lying flat on the furniture with his torso bandaged, and what the hell, Tony doesn’t have a problem if he’s obeying orders, right?

It’s an unbelievable amount of effort to haul himself to his feet and saunter across the room like nothing’s wrong, but he has to get up, can’t let go now or he’ll never get it back. “So how was your day?”

Loki arches an eyebrow and stares him down, seeing everything Tony’s trying to hide, and Tony loses the will to lie to them both.

He drops with a shudder and presses his face into Loki’s good shoulder, inhales warm skin and sweat and the cream Loki’s slathered with under the bandages, and his breath punches back out of him in a sob.

“Shh.” Loki moves his arm and runs his hand into Tony’s hair. “It’s alright.”

“It’s really fucking not, I think I just killed eight people.”

Loki’s hand goes still. “You think?”

“It’s not like I was counting, they were just - two cells, okay, and he killed all of them - I said find empty cells, not make them - but they’re all dead because of me-”

“No, Stark,” Loki murmurs, and kisses Tony’s hair.

“Stop moving.”

“You did nothing. That monster killed those men, not you. That wasn’t your choice.”

Tony shakes his head. “It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been there-”

“You can’t blame yourself for that,” Loki says, and holds Tony against his shoulder more firmly. “Judge your actions. You did not want this. You did not kill them.”

The shaking’s back, or maybe it just never went away. “Didn’t have to, I brought the Jotuns over there, I said it - I started it, and then he’d killed them all by the time I…” Turned around and saw what he’d done, shoved Odin’s head at the other giant and told him to bring it to Laufey, and then he just ran. Couldn’t face the pile of men slaughtered by the orders he’d been throwing around so casually, playing at - enjoying - being powerful and owning the world again. 

He should know better by now…

“I swore I’d stop doing this. Innocent people dying because of other shit I’m doing. I’m happy to kill the bad guys, but… I should’ve been more careful, should’ve done the work myself…”

“That may not have been enough.” Loki rubs his fingers against the back of Tony’s skull. “Laufey brought those who have suffered because of Asgard. They won’t be satisfied with watching one Asgardian be punished for it. Like as not, those prisoners would have died tomorrow, or the next day. Been released from their cells and killed for sport.”

Tony swallows bile. “Frost giants do that?”

“I would not be surprised. It may still happen. A few swift deaths, unseen by most, will not sate them for long.”

“That is - I am - offended by how stupid that is, do they not realize that the prisons are their best place to recruit? They got me out of there and I’m awesome, how much more obvious can it be?”

Loki chuckles. “Frost giants are not known for their genius.”

“What are they known for?”

“Mostly? Being large and cold.”

Tony laughs - Loki doesn’t, which is a relief given the state of his back, but Tony can feel him grinning. And they have to smile because they can’t get sucked down by this; it’s a long way from over, and if nothing else, they can’t lose now or those eight people really will have died for nothing.

And Tony has to be strong enough to do better next time.

“Alright,” Loki says when Tony quiets down. “Bed?”

“For you, okay, but I have the feeling that cuddling you would amount to murder at this point, so you’re on your own again.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I know exactly how poorly you slept last night.”

“Loki-”

“And,” Loki breathes softly, and his hand moves to cup Tony’s cheek, “it will be more comfort to have you close.”

Oh.

“Right,” Tony says - like a goddamn moron, he’s got to say something better than that - “I so want to make a Magical Healing Cock joke right now.”

“You’re going to have to explain that sometime when I can appreciate it.”

Tony grins. “You’ll love it.”

“Good. Then help me stand.”

Tony sobers a little at the reminder that Loki can barely even move right now; he shoves himself to his feet, and grabs Loki under the arms and pulls him up. It’s awkward without being able to touch his entire back, and Loki himself still so weak he needs to be held up, but they manage, Loki slinging his arms over Tony’s shoulders and around his neck and Tony taking most of his weight as they shuffle across the room. Tony grits his teeth against Loki’s little gasps of pain.

Getting Loki down onto the bed is harder than getting him up, and even with as little movement as possible Loki’s face is still white when he rolls onto his stomach and Tony arranges the blankets over his legs. After the strain of the four meter walk, Tony has to move Loki’s arms for him, laying them out above his head so his wrists can be tied to the headboard, immobilized to protect his back while still leaving room for Tony to lie next to him.

“I hate this,” Tony mutters, fingers slipping as he knots the smooth, thin ropes. “Makes you look…”

“Like the hostage I am?”

Tony can’t fight off the shudder. “The sooner this is over, the better - I know we need to wait, but not a second longer than necessary, okay?”

Loki’s lips quirk in a smile. “Oh, dear. I wanted to stay beneath Laufey’s heel for some decades yet.”

“Ha ha.”

Tony strips himself and slides into bed - their bed - for the first time in what feels like weeks, and just about melts into the thick, soft mattress and layers of decadent furs, awash with exhaustion.

One day down.

Loki’s leg twitches, and he brushes Tony’s foot with his. “I’ll need you tomorrow.”

Oh, shit. “Uh. Problem. I’m booked already. Said I’d go with Laufey on his grand tour of Asgard.”

Loki goes still. “And when were you going to tell me this?”

“I just did?”

Stark, you - you cannot leave me without - I would think you dead if you-”

“No, hey,” Tony says, reaching to stroke down Loki’s back and then not doing that very stupid thing - fucking genius, you - and taking Loki’s hand in his instead. “Relax, it’s okay. It’s only one day, it’ll be fine-”

“Do you think Laufey can cross all Asgard in one day? You fool, you’ll be gone for a week at the least!”

“Oh,” Tony mumbles, sinking low into the mattress. “Right. Helblindi… didn’t mention that part. It’s fine, I’ll get out of it somehow-”

Loki shakes his head. “You will do no such thing. Go exactly where Laufey wishes. Do not waste this chance to earn standing in his eyes, to hear of his plans…”

“But what about you?”

Loki gives a tilt of his head that seems to stand in for a shrug. “Throw me in a cell while you’re not here to keep me submitted yourself. Give orders that no-one is to harm your prisoner, if you feel you can make it convincing.”

If?” Tony splutters. “Are you kidding me, you think letting them at you is an option?

Loki glares at him. “Of course it is. If it sees us victorious, you will let them do anything they please to me.”

Tony glares back. “Just so you know, from now on my definition of victory is including you not looking like hamburger meat at the end of it.”

“There are more important things at stake than my hide!”

Oh, fuck this.

Tony shoots out of bed and grabs his pants again. “I’m hitting the workshop, the left hand repulsor’s still shaky.”

“What - Stark, don’t, come back-”

Tony doesn’t turn around. “Thought you weren’t important."

He storms outside and slams the door.

And is slapped in the face by what a fucking asshole he’s being.

Loki’s right, they’re going to have to make sacrifices, and it’s going to look suspicious if Tony tries too hard to protect him. Loki’s trying to save his entire planet while tied face-down on his bed, and here’s Tony bitching about how he doesn’t like the idea of Loki getting hurt.

He still doesn’t. But when Loki’s the one going through the torture, Tony’s outvoted.

He closes his eyes and his head falls against the door. He should go back in. Just apologize and get some sleep before tomorrow, but after that little outburst - after telling Loki he’s worthless and Tony’s sick of him - Loki can’t possibly want to see Tony…

I’ll just get my shirt back. No sense in dirtying one of the dozens of clean ones in the enormous walk-in wardrobe that doesn’t involve going back into the bedroom at all. 

Tony pushes the door open and slips inside.

He hears a little gasp but doesn’t meet Loki’s eyes as he crosses the room and bends to pick up his shirt, because if Loki wants to pretend he’s not here then he might as well make this easier on them both, but he does do it very slowly and his skin feels electrified, waiting for Loki to speak…

“Don’t go.”

Tony exhales in a rush, drops his clothes and climbs straight back into bed to tuck his face into Loki’s arm. “Sorry. Fuck, sorry, I just - I hate the thought of them taking you again, I had enough of that the first time and I can’t hear you talk about it like it’s nothing-”

“Come closer.”

Tony blinks, derailed. And also already pretty damn close. “Why?”

“So I can kiss you, you insufferable human.”

Tony laughs relief that’s washing through his whole body - he feels dizzyingly light, about to dissolve completely - and leans up to get over Loki’s arm and touch their lips together.

The angle’s awkward with Loki’s head twisted right around and his lips are chapped and broken and Tony’s position is putting strain on the reactor housing, and he doesn’t give a shit. Loki kisses him back with this soft desperation, we’re fucked but right this second we’re okay, and Tony slides a hand into Loki’s hair, a possessive caress he will never let anyone take from him.

Mine.

Chapter Text

More screams, more people falling to their knees clutching at their chests, more powerless fury and terror on their faces.

After eight days of this, Tony nearly doesn’t feel it anymore. 

Behind the newly ice-blue faceplate of the armor, he stands at Laufey’s side as he towers over the crowd, Odin’s head held high in one hand, Odin’s spear in the other, proof of purchase of his kingdom and everyone in it - and, not said but strongly implied, the complete decimation of the army that Asgard sent to Jotunheim in the first place. What is said, every time, is that Laufey holds the rest of the royal family completely in his power, and if their king has surrendered, then the Asgardians have no choice but to do the same.

Usually they do, some twisted kind of honor pulling them along in Thor’s wake. Sometimes…

Tony spots movement, an elderly woman rising tall and straight above the others with something clutched in her hand, and he flashes up the targeting protocols.

She throws it - a stupid rock she’s picked up off the ground - straight at Laufey’s head, and Tony raises a gauntlet and blasts it into sand. 

The crowd shrieks and surges back, trapped by the buildings surrounding the village square, and Tony disarms the repulsors and then aims them into the mass of people, and flicks the speakers on. “Don’t do that again.”

Tension ripples through them - definitely a problem spot, this one, the three places yesterday all went without a fight - and Tony makes himself step forward in threat. The HUD is a wash of civilian labels, the Jotuns behind him hologrammed in red, but nobody else needs to know that.

Done up in armor of blue and dark green and glowing red highlights, the falling snow melting when it hits him, Tony’s Jotunheim’s sharp instrument of control. He’s had to give warning shots into the ground, twice had to take out more missiles, once actually shot a woman as non-fatally as possible - she had a sword, and Tony doesn’t know where she got it when literally every other weapon in Asgard went to Jotunheim with Odin - but he’s never had to kill someone before the town surrendered. 

Others have, when Tony couldn’t quell the people fast enough, but not him.

Yet.

But one by one, the Asgardians kneel, stare at the ground and quake in fear, and it’s okay, it really is, they’re not actually in any danger from him, they’ll be safe even if they don’t know that, and after a week of reciting that to himself it’s almost getting easier to believe it. 

Tony’s loved people being shaken up by his presence before - lording it over Hill in SHIELD headquarters will never not be awesome - but these people have done nothing to deserve it, and this time it’s not actually Tony’s doing; it’s all borrowed glory from Laufey and it’s disgusting. This isn’t a pathetically underperforming Stark Industries factory where he can show up and scare them into being honest with him about what’s going wrong, these are people who’ve been let down by their protectors and should never have had to face something like this.

And whether he’s a double agent or not, Tony’s the reason these kids are crying, the reason the Asgardians think they’ve lost everything. They start out with dignity in defeat, but every single town has broken down completely when they realize there’s an Asgardian helping the Jotun conquerors. Tony’s lost count of how many people must be praying for his death.

Maybe that’s why he feels so numb. It’s starting to work.

Laufey delegates five of his men to stay behind and occupy this town as well - but, as ever, it’s all of them who storm through the crowd, shoving aside people who don’t have enough room to step back, and march into the buildings surrounding the square, tall, round towers. They’re empty, everyone already hunted out for the grand proclamation, but the Jotuns aren’t after them.

Eight days of going through Asgard’s villages, and there’s not one soldier not draped in stolen gold and jewelry, carting trinkets they’ve liked the look of, casually destroying things they don’t. Taking what Laufey’s claimed as theirs.

Most of them come back pretty quickly, and Laufey sends them off to wherever they’re going next, and Tony stands there and watches them walk away with other people’s things, watches the Asgardians’ despair as they realize what’s happening. Children are crying, clinging to their grandparents as the Jotuns walk through the crowd again, new adornments in place, packs bursting with food the Asgardians need for themselves, and Tony stands there with the repulsors raised, angled into the crowd and cowing them into surrender.

But he will save them all in the end, he just needs them to have a little more strength and then it’s over.

He finally lowers his hands as the people start dispersing, heading back to their looted homes to mourn their king and the people he took with him - there aren’t any adult men left in Asgard, more than half the women gone too, and a good proportion of the elderly and adolescents as well, pretty much anyone who could lift a sword and swing it at someone else. 

Tony turns to Helblindi, standing next to him and surveying the emptying square with a savage pleasure, not just victory but sadism. “On to the next one?” Tony asks; the vocal filter strips the emotion out of it for him, lets him break down a little without anyone else knowing. He can barely hear it himself. 

“This is the last,” Helblindi says, and Tony drops into the hold of the armor like his strings have been cut. “The Asgardians will spread the word among themselves from here.”

Done, I’m done, no more - Tony can taste the relief, it’s ambrosia. “And now what?”

“We return to the palace. My father rules. It will be my task to take control of the Bifrost. With it, our dominion will be complete, Casket or no. All Asgard will be ours.”

Oh, that really can’t happen. “Maybe I could help you out with that,” Tony offers, hoping it’s not biting off more than he can chew.

Pretending he knows how to activate the alien intergalactic portal while simultaneously not being caught out not activating it? Well, if nothing else he’s not going to be bored. 

Boredom sounds like luxury right now; it’s the same pattern as Afghanistan, never a moment of rest, always on edge because at any moment somebody could come in and catch him and Yinsen with the suit, or demand they get back to work - and they were under the threat of getting bombed out by the US, too - and it’s starting to cut him again, slowly draining his resources and giving him nothing to build them back up with.

This morning he woke up in an occupied Asgardian farmer’s house with a dozen Jotuns snoring around him and the farmer himself tied to a chair, and would have sold his soul to just roll over and go back to sleep. How much longer can he keep going?

Three months, at least.

Helblindi claps a hand down on Tony’s shoulder, swallowing Tony’s promise of aid along with all the other little lies Tony’s been feeding him, worming his way into the Jotuns’ confidence and collecting intelligence to bring back to Loki. “Excellent,” he says, and hands Tony the perfect opportunity to sabotage his plans. “We’ll reach the palace by nightfall.”

“Awesome. So, hey, you were telling me about that tournament you won.” You were giving away everything about your preferred combat styles and strategies. “I think you stopped at cutting the guy’s head off and sticking your arm down his windpipe?”

~

Tony’s exhausted, stinking, he aches in every bone in his body, a week and a half’s growth of beard is killing him, and he cannot get rid of his escort.

Two Jotun guys flanked him when he peeled off to come down here to the dungeons, and despite his repeated insistence that Loki poses absolutely no threat to him, they’ve insisted on following him for his own safety.

Safety, pah. Maybe Laufey’s not as stupid as he looks. 

Whatever. It’s not like Tony’s going to give up the game now. He can resist falling straight into Loki’s arms after being kept apart for over a week, no problem, it’s not like every cell in his body is yearning for that very thing…

In Tony’s defense, it’s been a really long week.

“Go get me something to tie his hands with,” Tony says, and one - only one, dammit - of the frost giants heads off.

They come down the stairs into the nearly-empty wing of the dungeon that Tony was kept in - nobody suspected that Tony cared about Loki’s privacy when he got to savor sticking Loki in his old cell - and Tony finally sees Loki again.

Oh, god. Tony should never have left him.

He looked stressed out after being locked in his bedroom for a day; real imprisonment in a cell for this long has left him devastated. The attractive sharpness of his face has turned into sallow, sunken cheeks, all gaunt and starved and looking twenty years older. His usually smooth, neat hair is tangled and snarled, and Tony sees loose strands of it caught between his fingers from raking his hands through it. He’s torn his shirt into strips to bandage up the half-healed wound in his shoulder, leaving the rest of his chest bare, exposing sweat and dirt lining his muscles, and Tony feels a stupid spike of rage at that of all things, like it’s okay that they haven’t let him eat but not letting him shower is the limit. He’s sitting hunched forward, arms braced on his knees instead of leaning his back against the wall - fuck, the healer said a week, he should be fine by now!

“I like this new look of yours,” Tony says, dragging his villain-self back out. “Half-dead. Almost perfect.”

Loki lifts his head and opens his eyes, and the hollow emptiness there strikes Tony cold to the core. I gave him three days before it drove him nuts, it’s been eight…

The cracks in Loki’s lips are filled with dried blood, and they split again as he opens his mouth to speak; his tone is dull and lifeless. “Do you want me dead?”

Tony pulls a wide grin - and god, this was easier when he was faking to the Jotuns, not to Loki’s face. “Not yet.”

Loki doesn’t move as Tony drops the cell’s energy barrier, takes the heavy handcuffs from the frost giant errand boy, and steps into the cell. “Get up.”

Loki’s slow and sluggish, breath hissing between his lips as he hauls himself to his feet, every movement stiff, and when Tony spins him around by the shoulder he sees why. Loki’s back is a mess of scabs and purple bruising, dark trails of blood where the scabs have pulled loose, shiny new skin starting to cover some of the damage but nowhere near as much as Tony was expecting - did they whip him again while Tony was away?

God, if they did…

Loki flinches as Tony grabs his wrists, yanks them behind his back and slaps the cuffs on without looking like he cares about compressing the cuts across Loki’s shoulders or letting the edged metal of the cuffs rub against the small of his back. Tony takes hold of the cuffs in one hand, sets his other on the nape of Loki’s neck, and shoves him out of the cell; Loki stumbles weakly but does nothing to resist. “Let’s go.”

~

Loki’s bare feet are dragging over the ground by the time they reach his wing of the palace, the walk taking more than he had to give after barely sleeping or eating, maybe not at all, for the past week, but the giants step around them to shove the double doors open and let them through, and they’re done.

“I think I’m good from here,” Tony dismisses them, and one of them turns to go but the other one doesn’t move, looking between Tony and Loki, and Tony does not have the patience for this.

He pushes Loki further down the hallway, and faces the damned giant ruining everything. “What.”

The giant’s red eyes fall on Loki and don’t move away. “Are you going to beat him?”

We’re going to kill you for doing that very thing. “Might do. Depends on what I feel like. Why?”

“You could have done that just as well in the prison. Why bring him here?”

Tony laughs. Shit, shit, shit- “You think I want to live in a prison?”

“Why do you want to live with him?”

“Why is that any of your business?” he snaps before the giant can take the momentum away from him. “Laufey gave him to me and I’ll do what I like. What, were you hoping for a show?” Tony suggests it first, because where else can this suspicion be heading? Hell, didn’t he think before that maybe Laufey wasn’t trusting him blindly anymore? This dick wants proof and Tony - Tony’s going to give it to him.

He spins around and folds his arms, and Loki flinches at the movement, head angled down and to the side so his hair covers his face. Tony takes a slow step forward, two red gazes burning in his back, and taps his foot against the floor. “When’s the last time you ate?”

Loki’s tongue flickers over his lips and he looks up at Tony for the briefest instant before shaking his head. “I don’t know.”

Good, good, keep it up- “So I bet you’re pretty hungry right now,” Tony says, stalking closer. Loki’s trapped, searching for a way out and not finding one, and Tony wishes he could tell Loki what’s going on, wishes he knew for sure that Loki’s worked it out for himself - but he can’t stop now, can’t slip when the Jotuns are so close to calling him out already.

“Well, I can fix that.” Tony spreads his hands in an open, inviting gesture. “You can eat any time you want. You’ve only got to ask for it.”

“Oh?” Loki whispers, finally daring to meet Tony’s eyes, already leaning forward to him.

Tony shrugs, and then drops the friendliness and goes in for the kill. “You get on the ground and kiss my feet and beg me to let you eat.”

He hears an approving breath from one of the Jotuns at the powerless, betrayed rage in Loki’s face - dammit, why did he have to play it defiant? Come on, just do it, let’s get this over with, it was the first thing I could think of that wouldn’t leave you bleeding - “What’s the matter?” Tony mocks. “You used to kiss me all the time, remember?” 

Loki glares, but lowers himself to one knee, and then the other, hissing through his teeth, and pitches forward without his hands to catch him, landing hard on his shoulder with a grunt of pain.

“You look good down there,” Tony gloats, and slides his booted foot towards Loki’s face instead of making him crawl the last few inches. “Go on, then.”

Loki closes his eyes and presses his mouth to the leather over Tony’s toes - hard, like he thinks Tony will have him do it again if it’s not good enough - and breaks away, hiding his face in the floor. “There, now please…

“Ah, ah. I distinctly said feet.”

Tony can’t try the same trick twice, and has to stand here waiting while Loki drags himself across the floor to Tony’s other boot, but he can hear the low laughter of the Jotuns behind him, watching the prince of Asgard crawl before his former prisoner, hands bound behind his flayed back. Tony folds his arms again so the giants can’t see the way he digs his fingernails into his flesh to hold himself back from killing them right here - there’s a knife on his belt, he might manage…

“I beg of you,” Loki murmurs, and his lips kiss Tony’s boot. “I beg of you.”

“Not bad,” Tony says, and turns away to meet the Jotuns’ eyes - satisfied and impressed - and grin. “You heard him. And bring something for me, too, I am sick of that crap those peasants thought was good enough to feed their masters.”

That line is almost entirely stolen from Helblindi, but the giants don’t seem to notice, bowing low - very low - and then they finally leave, about fucking time, pulling the doors shut behind them with ease and letting them bang closed. But Tony sees the ice crystals spreading through the gap that mean one of them is still standing outside, inconvenient fucker, and he grits his teeth and bends down to haul Loki up from the floor. Loki gasps, head lolling against his shoulder - god, how much more has this taken out of him - and Tony marches Loki just a little further, into the bedroom, puts another door between them and the guard outside and then lets it all drop away, slumps against the closed door for just an instant of rest - one moment to take the weight off his feet, just one - before turning around to attend to Loki.

And Loki’s just standing there calmly inspecting his nails, cuffs open at his feet, wearing a short leather coat over an embroidered green shirt and black pants, low boots, his hair neat and clean, color in his cheeks and a confident, easy smirk across his lips. “You’re getting rather good at cruelty.”

Tony gapes. “What… How did you…”

Loki looks down at himself, immaculate and groomed - hell, he could have just walked out of the bathroom after a long post-morning-fuck soak! “A simple illusion.”

Tony crosses the room and reaches out to grab Loki’s shoulders and feel the leather under his hands; Loki doesn’t even wince from Tony gripping the shoulder that had a gaping hole straight through it last he saw, that was still bandaged up in the cell. “You’re not- Why?”

Loki shrugs. “It kept the Jotuns entertained to think me sinking into torment and misery. With a show like that, they felt no need to make their own amusement. I thought you would approve.”

“Wow,” Tony says, head spinning - that’s not moving melted wax around the air, that’s manipulating light itself - extraphysics, it’s incredible, how does Loki do this - and, if Tony had been able to do this back on Earth, would he have been able to trick Pepper into letting him keep working instead of doing things like eating?

She would’ve seen through it in a second, dumbass.

But speaking of… “So if what I just saw was an illusion, how do I know this isn’t?”

Loki grins but Tony doesn’t miss the guilty flash in his eyes. “Oh, clever.”

His hand twists and a thin wash of gold light pours over him, and it leaves him standing there different yet again, and that’s more like what Tony was expecting, the same simple shirt and pants he was wearing when Tony left, the shirt open at the neck to show he’s taken the bandages off at some point; he’s far from filthy or bloodstained or emaciated, but he is mussed and dirty and noticeably thinner, cheekbones standing out a little too sharply. It’s been a rough week, but he’s survived. “Yeah,” Tony mutters, hands flexing on Loki’s shoulders, now feeling cloth and not leather. “I’ll buy that.”

“I am sorry,” Loki says, glancing away. “But it… It was a sweet lie, while it lasted.”

“God, I don’t blame you. Hell, I tried the same thing, remember? Just a bit less impressively.”

Loki gives him a small, relieved smile, and scans Tony in return, eyes flicking across his body and somehow landing on all the spots th