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My brother had another breakdown today and I am worried for him.  May I bring him tonight?

Tony Stark re-read the text message he had just been sent.  He knew it was from Thor, but the message had been so unexpected, he almost considered it was a wrong number and coincidentally Stark was also hosting a party tonight.  

Sure, big guy.  Whatever you want.   There wasn’t much to it, really; it would be their small group and no one else, so it couldn’t hurt for Thor’s brother to be there, too.

But in saying that, it could hurt, after all; Loki was very unhinged mentally and emotionally and could easily come undone at the drop of a hat.  Thor had told them how Loki - Tony’s words; not Thor’s because to him, Loki was amazing, adorable and misunderstood - was a little shit, and Tony generally didn’t mix well with brats.

But still, Thor was one of his best friends and denying his little brother would hurt him immeasurably; Thor held deep love for his brother - adopted or otherwise - but from everything he had been told, he wasn’t sure it was the same the other way around.

As he slipped his phone back into his pocket to focus on the metal he had been welding, he heard a voice from beside him, almost echoing in the workspace of his shed.  

“Was that about the party tonight?”

Tony looked over his shoulder to reply to the question.  He wasn’t sure it was his place to divulge the content of the text message, and though he knew Thor wouldn’t mind, he still kept it to himself; some things were just better left unsaid.  “Thor asked to bring his little bro.”

His friend, Bruce Banner, wore a look of surprise at these words.  “Loki avoids socialising like a plague .  Is he okay?”

“Thor said he’s worried about him.  I assume they’re both still at home, knowing how much he coddles the kid.”  Tony slipped on his heavy-duty gloves once more so they could return to their little project.  “With a little brat like that for a brother, I’d probably be worried, too.”

“He can’t be that bad,” Bruce defended softly.  “ No one can be that bad…  I’m sure it’s all misunderstandings.”

“Does burning down a vacant house sound like misunderstandings?” Tony dropped the glass of his welding helmet down over his face again as he picked his welder up once more at Bruce’s silence.  “We’re going to find out tonight. If he gives me lip, I’m kicking him out.”

Bruce shook his head as he took a few steps back to avoid the sparks the welder was about to throw up.  “Tony, you’re more than ten years his senior; please don’t go around bullying eighteen-year-olds…  Especially not eighteen-year-olds you’ve been told are already doing it rough…”

Tony shrugged.  “We’ll see tonight if I like him, won’t we?”

Except, they never really did find out because when Thor had entered Tony’s home that night with his little brother behind him, said bro hadn’t said so much as hello before he’d wandered off onto the far side of the living room, far away from the couches where everyone was already gathered and staring at him.

Thor, the big, sweet-natured young man that he was, gestured in the direction his brother had disappeared in, and though he still held his signature gentle smile on his face, there was something so pained about his expression, Tony found his lips twisting into a frown; sadness and despair didn’t suit their bubbly-natured friend, but more-often-than-not, his brother had that effect on him.  

He glanced where Loki had curled up into one of the armchairs, his back to the group, showing no signs of turning around,and his tone was hopeful as he murmured, “Loki, would you care to join us?”

Loki ignored his brother’s invitation, not moving in the slightest.  Thor sighed and made his way to his friends. He felt Natasha’s touch on his shoulder, and he smiled at her in appreciation of her concern.

“He might come around,” she comforted.  “He doesn’t know us.”

Thor nodded, and his smile was just that bit more sincere now.  “Yes. He never does well with strangers.”

“Alright, Point Break, what’s the story here?” Tony was pouring himself a glass of bourbon already, unable to wait any longer.  “You talk about him every day but you’ve never introduced us until now.”

“He is not fitting in well with the other students at university,” Thor explained.  “He is still adjusting to living with me; I am worried how he is going to go when classes begin.”

“It’s his first year, right?” Natasha twirled her glass in her hand; Loki was young, but Thor was twenty-four and almost finished his course - it wouldn’t be long and Loki would be on his own.  

“Yes.  He does not want to be around anyone though…”

“We can see that.” It was rude, but Tony wasn’t known for being tactful.  He looked over Thor’s shoulder and raised his voice a little. “Hey. You in the corner.  Come sit with us.”

Loki hesitated.  He frowned deeply, but he did as he was told, almost as if he were afraid of the repercussions of not.  He begrudgingly sat by Thor’s side, but he didn’t acknowledge anyone now; he simply glared down at his lap, his hands clenched as his lithe body trembled.  

Tony couldn’t keep his eyes off Loki.  Long, black hair that rested on his shoulders, pale skin and eyes so beautifully green, he knew he wanted the boy for himself.  He knew it was sick; he was thirty-five, preying on an eighteen-year-old - his friend’s little brother - but he couldn’t help it; all he could think about was how beautiful that thin body would look bouncing along his cock.  

“Loki, are you hungry?”

Thor’s voice snapped Tony out of his filthy thoughts.  He grimaced; Thor wasn’t usually one for violence, but if he ever found out Tony had the hots for his little brother, Thor would lay him flat in one punch.  

“I’ll order in some food,” Tony muttered as he stood up to get some space; the last thing he needed was for Thor to notice he couldn’t keep his fucking eyes off Loki.

Chapter Text

The next time Tony had seen Loki was a week later when he’d arrived at Thor’s off-campus apartment to return the belongings his friend had left behind in class.  It hadn’t been a big deal; as sweet as Thor was, he wasn’t very bright and often misplaced his things, and he lived closed enough by campus that Tony didn’t feel put out making his way there after he’d finished teaching.  

As expected, Thor was only too happy to let his friend inside and Tony was quick to find Loki, curled up on the couch and fast asleep.

“Does he often do that?” Tony gestured to the youngest, and as he waited for a response, he helped himself to Thor’s kitchen to get a drink.  

“Oh, sometimes.  Usually after a bad day; he had his first classes and he is drained from it all.” Thor sat back on the couch with his returned belongings still in his arms.  He shifted them to the side so he could use one of his hands to drag through his brother’s hair. “When we lived with our parents, he usually slept most - well…  He took many naps throughout the days…”

Thor had cut himself off for a reason, Tony knew; his friend thought he was saying too much, for whatever reason that could be.  He shrugged, opening the can of coke he had retrieved as he made his way back to the living room to join the other two. “Why’s that?  Laziness; escape from reality; depression… There’s a lot of reasons he’d sleep a lot, buddy.”

The thing was, Tony wasn’t sure he needed Thor to confirm anything; he’d grown up hearing their father’s name all over the place, one of the most powerful men in the world, and rumours always had flown about how he’d preferred only his older son and the younger was neglected - hell, Tony had never even known they had a sister until Thor had casually mentioned her once.  

If Loki was depressed, he wasn’t going to be surprised.

Thor didn’t reply to the question, but his grim expression and the way his hand moved worriedly through his brother’s hair told Tony all he needed to know; Loki wasn’t well, and there could be a myriad of reasons for that.  

Tony changed the subject as he took a seat on the couch as well, sitting almost on top of Loki’s sprawled legs.  “So, how come we’ve never met him until now? With the way you always talked about him, we were sure we’d have met him years ago.”

“Oh…” Thor looked away.  “...Loki just… Just doesn’t like people very much…  Our father never let him go out, and he…  Well, I’ll be sure to take him out with me; wherever he wants to go…”

Tony fixed his friend with his stare that screamed to cut the bullshit.  “Your brother has been neglected, like everyone whispered about.”

It took a while, but eventually, Thor nodded.  “...Abused…”

Tony could see the deep depression in his friend’s eyes at this, and he knew enough had been said.  He nodded, and with a firm clap to Thor’s back, he murmured, “You want to go out for drinks tonight?”

Thor shook his head.  “I need to be here with Loki; he needs me…”

Tony looked down to Loki and then back to Thor.  Loki hadn’t stirred at all, and it made him wonder just how safe he felt with his brother.  “Alright; what about drinks at mine? He can come.”

Thor knew his friend was only trying to help, and while he appreciated it, he had to think about what Loki needed - and consistency rather than being dragged all over the place by his brother was what was needed.  

But Stark…  

Thor closed his eyes.  “May we just drink here instead…?”

Tony nodded.  “Sure, buddy. I’ll bring the drinks.  I’m heading off now. Cool?”

“Yeah, it is alright.  I will be here.” Thor stood to escort his friend from his apartment.  He was thankful for his friend’s support; he knew he was going to need it now that Loki was finally in his own care.  “Thank you for returning my things.”

“No problem, bud.  See you later.”

As the door closed behind him and Tony walked back to his car, he couldn’t help but feel his lips curl into a smirk; he’d be back in close proximity to his friend’s brother and his eyes could wander as much as they wanted.  


 

By the time Tony arrived back at Thor’s apartment that night, he was the last to make it and Loki was nowhere to be seen.  He couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed, but as he remembered, Loki didn’t like to be around other people and he probably should have expected his absence.  

“Where’s your bro hiding?” Tony ignored the confusion on Thor’s face as he handed over the bag of beer he had stopped on the way to buy.  “He’s not joining us tonight?”

“Loki…?” Thor shook his head.  “No; he’s underage.”

“Never stopped you from partying with us, Point Break.” Tony clapped Thor on the shoulder casually.  “Sure you don’t want to ask him? I can if you want; I’m sure I can convince him.”

To most people, it was probably worryingly clear how Tony wanted Loki with them and wasn’t willing to take no for an answer, but Thor wasn’t most people, and he gave a nod.  “Alright. I will show you his room.”

The loud conversation from the living room followed them, but they were otherwise alone as they made the short walk through the apartment and to Loki’s bedroom.  Thor had reached out to grip the doorknob, but before he could open it, the door opened from the inside and Loki appeared with the overwhelming smell of marijuana exiting from behind him.  

Loki jumped back in surprise at almost walking into his brother’s chest.  He looked up, and the way his eyes were bloodshot red left no room to question what exactly he had been up to.  His expression turned nasty as he glared at Thor and opened his mouth to say something, but when he noticed Tony standing by his side, he stopped and took another step back into his room.

Tony wasn’t going to let him go that easily.  He matched the younger step-for-step until he’d cornered Loki by his bed.  “Get that shit stench out of your clothes and come drink with us.”

Thor stood uneasily by the bedroom door, as if he was uncertain about whether he should leave or intervene.  He cleared his throat to gather Tony’s attention before his brother could respond. “Please do not judge my brother for this, friend Stark…  It is my fault…”

“I’m not judging anyone; I just want him to come hang with us instead of staying in here being emo.”

Still, Loki said nothing; he just stared at his feet as his body tensed uncomfortably.  He chanced a look upwards, his eyes flicking between the two, but when Stark looked at him again, he looked back to his feet.  “...”

“Have care how you speak,” Thor growled.  “He is my brother and I love him.”

“I know you do, Shakespeare, but look at him.” Tony gestured to Loki.  “He’s high as fuck. Why hide him from us? Not like we don’t know you light up every now and then - we do it together .”

“It is different; he is my brother ,” Thor pointed out.  

“Cool; you’re our friend and we don’t care that you like to dabble a bit.” Tony looked back to Loki.  “I’m serious, kid; get the stench off you and sit with us. I’ll give you some alcohol.”

Loki sent a helpless look to Thor, as if pleading for his brother to come to the rescue.  “Thor…”

Thor sighed.  “Loki… If you wish to sit with us, you may.”

Tony was satisfied with that.  He didn’t wait for Loki’s reply as he said, “Awesome; see you out there, kid.”

They left the room and Thor closed the door behind them.  As they walked, he murmured, “I am very sorry you had to find that out, Tony..”

“Why are you sorry?” Tony shrugged.  “I don’t care if he does a bit of weed in his spare time.”

“Yes, but…”

“He’s your brother?” Tony shrugged again.  “Cool; still don’t care. Kid’s had a rough life, you’ve said; probably takes the edge off for him.”

Thor nodded.  He said nothing more about it as they entered the living room, and taking a seat on the couch with their friends, he forced his smile back onto his face to pretend nothing had happened.  “I have ordered food to be delivered; it should be here soon.”

The conversation didn’t die down at Tony and Thor’s re-emergence; it only evolved into so much chaos, no one noticed Loki’s approach until he’d plopped down by his brother’s side half-an-hour later.  Tony wasn’t oblivious to how Loki’s clothing had been changed to a black jacket and jeans.

“Hey, kid,” Natasha greeted.  “You’re not hot?”

Loki looked to his lap as he shook his head.  Tony wasn’t fooled; it was blisteringly hot and Thor only had windows opened in terms of cooling.  He didn’t say anything about it, though; from beside him, Bruce had kicked his shin in warning to leave it alone; typical soft-hearted Bruce who didn’t want any feelings hurt.

“Here.” Tony poured the newcomer a glass of bourbon despite the glare Thor had fixed him with; big brother sure was over-protective.  “Drink yourself silly.”

As Loki looked up to see what it was, everyone took notice of his red eyes.  It sparked a moment of silence as everyone realised the implications, and Thor cleared his throat uncomfortably to take the attention onto himself.  

“So…  Boardgames?  TV?” Thor felt his heart race at the cornered look his brother wore; all he wanted was for Loki to be safe and love him back, but no matter what he did, he always messed up and only made Loki hate him more and more.

“How about old-fashioned Monopoly?” Steve suggested in order to break the tension suddenly thick in the air.  

Clint snorted.  “I swear you’re still stuck in the forties.  Such an old soul you are.”

“Nothing wrong with that, but if I knew there would be games involved, I’d have brought Bucky along.”

“Feel free to invite him next time; everyone is welcome here,” Thor promised.  He touched his hand to Loki’s waist and tried to pretend he didn’t feel his brother cringe and crumple at the touch.  “Loki, please go and get the Monopoly board.”

Loki was glad for the distraction.  He slipped away wordlessly and took his time to return, and when he did, he settled by Thor’s side again.  Tony took the opportunity to move from the opposite side of the table to sit on Loki’s other side with the excuse that he could reach the alcohol easier from here, and to his relief, no one questioned him.  

“Alright, Lokes,” Tony slurred, “set the board up and let me see how easy you are.”

Loki raised his eyebrow, and finally he spoke.  “I beg your pardon?”

“Hooray, the little shit has manners.” Tony took another gulp of his bourbon.  “Maybe you aren’t as bad as Thor makes you out to be.”

A dark look crossed Loki’s face as he glared at his brother.  His jaw twitched and finally, he spat, “Oh, sure; everyone loves Thor.  Perfect, amazing Thor.   Always the centre of attention.”

“Hey, brat, I requested you here with us, so shut up and set the damn board out,” Tony growled.  “This is an alcoholics united party; not a pity party. So either grab a drink and get hammered with the rest of us, or sit there and look pretty in silence, Reindeer Games.”

Loki looked stunned, like he wasn’t used to people challenging him.  Tony realised he probably wasn’t ; from everything Thor had told them, Loki walked all over his brother and was given anything and everything he wanted at the drop of the hat without ever hearing the word no from Thor - and when it had come to their parents, it was probably just straight abuse.  

Loki’s eyes filled with tears, and the room fell silent again as he sniffed and turned to his brother, grabbing Thor’s wrist and dropping his forehead to his shoulder.  “B-brother…”

Thor wrapped his arm around Loki’s shoulders and held him close.  “Loki… Loki, please don’t cry…”

“Tony, say sorry to him,” Bruce ordered.  “Don’t pick on him; he’s half your age.”

“Oh, Jesus, I’m sorry.” Tony grabbed the Monopoly box himself and opened it.  “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, princess. Here; let me do it since you’re incapable.”

“Enough!” Thor snapped.  He tightened his hold on Loki as he glared at Tony.  “He hears enough of this with our parents! Have care how you speak to my brother!”

“Seriously, Tony, show him some respect,” Steve agreed.  “He’s a kid , and Thor’s little brother.”

“Shh, shh, shh…” Thor stood up and took his brother into his arms.  He said nothing to his friends as he carried Loki from the room and down the hallway; he could only be heard shushing his crying brother.  

“Really, Tony?” Bruce crossed his arms over his chest.  “The kid has problems and you set out to upset him even more?”

Tony shrugged before he reached out to refill his glass.  “ Someone needs to put him in his place.”

“Yes, and that someone is Thor; not you ,” Natasha pointed out.  “Now the big guy’s trying to stop his little brother from crying.”

Clint nodded in agreement.  “You just bullied a little kid; even I’m not that much of an asshole.”

“Alright, I get the point; stop ganging up on me.  I’ll apologise to him later.”

The thing was, though, Tony never did make that apology, and that night was never brought up again by any of them.  

Chapter Text

Tony was known for showing up to houses unexpected, usually dragging whoever he was with along for the ride, so it was no surprise when Bruce found himself standing outside Thor’s door, waiting to be let in as Tony rang the doorbell.

“You know, you’re here quite often lately,” Bruce pointed out.  “Thor mentioned how you’re here almost every day now. He thinks you’re starting to crush on him.”

Tony choked on his saliva.  He shook his head as images of bedding all that bulk crossed his mind, and he couldn’t help but let out a little shudder; too much muscle and not enough feminine features...  “Thor is not my type.”

“He’s going to be disappointed to hear you say that; I think he likes you, too,” Bruce mentioned off-handedly as they heard footsteps approach the door.  

“Cool, but I’m not interested.”  Of course he wasn’t; he wanted to plow Thor’s little bro instead.  

The door opened, and Tony and Bruce were left standing in surprise as neither Thor nor Loki had been the one to answer the door.  They raised their eyebrows at the brunet standing before them, but before the stranger could introduce himself, Tony’s mouth opened.

“Alright, pretty boy, who are you and where’s Thor?  I’m prepared to make a citizen’s arrest.” Tony stared down the stranger, and as soon as the dusty-haired male parted his lips again, he was cut off by Bruce.

“Tony, Thor has a boyfriend, remember?”

“Yeah, I -” A frustrated growl left the stranger’s lips as he was, once more, spoken over.

“How many secrets is Goldilocks going to keep from us?  First his brother, now a boyfriend. What, are we about to meet his long-lost twin or something next month?”

“Dude, I don’t know who Goldilocks is!  Why did you come here just to ask me this?!” He threw his arms up into the air as he took a deep breath, not faltering under the hardened glare of Tony.  

“I wasn’t asking you ; I was asking my science buddy, but if you want to answer questions, you can start with your name so I know if I need to kick your ass or not, chubs.” Tony’s glare only increased, but he backed off when Bruce tugged at his shirt and pulled him back a few steps.

“Why are you so rude, Tony?  You’re always so rude. I’m sorry about him; he’s not really a people person.” Bruce held his hand out to the newcomer.  “Bruce. Bruce Banner. This is Tony Stark.”

The other fixed Tony with a scathing glare - most likely taking the comment about his weight personally as did most people who came into contact with Tony and got insulted - before he took the outstretched hand and shook it.  “Peter Quill.”

The name rang a bell in Tony’s mind now.  “You’re his long-distance booty call, right?”

Quill only scowled more, and he chose to pointedly ignore Tony and give Bruce his attention as he led the visitors into the house.  His tone turned almost pitiful now as he said, “Thor asked me to come down for the weekend; said he was having problems with his brother again.”

“Where are they, anyway?” Bruce enquired softly.

Quill stopped now, still in the entrance hall as if he were debating whether or not opening the door to the living room was a good idea.  He turned around to face Tony and Bruce, and finally, they took notice of the slight redness in his eyes; of course… “Well, to be honest…  They’re both high as kites…”

Mock hurt seeped into Tony’s face as he put his hand to his chest and gasped out, “And they didn’t invite me .”

Tony pushed past Quill to step into the living room, leaving him and Bruce standing together.  Bruce’s hands wrung together. “How are they…?”

Quill glanced into the living room before he looked back to Bruce.  He grimaced. “I think they both took something before I arrived; they seemed a little… off, and we didn’t start smoking until an hour after I got here.”

Bruce’s inner doctor came to the surface now; he didn’t know about Loki, but they all knew Thor had a history with trying heavier drugs.  “I hope they didn’t take anything…”

“He was just trying to calm Loki down; don’t be hard on him.” Quill scratched his head as he wondered how much information he should divulge without Thor’s presence.  “Nothing else works for him when he gets like that. Really, I feel sorry for the kid.”

As much as Bruce wanted to question more, he didn’t; he instead followed Tony into the living room.  He was greeted by the sight of Tony standing by the open window, taking a deep drag out of a joint he had sourced from the coffee table while Thor and Loki sat on the couch, cuddled so closely together, they could have been mistaken for lovers.  

“Hey, Thor…” Bruce kept his voice gentle as he stood in front of Thor and crouched down with his hands on his knees.  He took in the dopy expression and bloodshot eyes that showed him Thor was more stoned than he had ever seen him before, and Loki wasn’t looking much better.  He reached out to put his hand on Thor’s shoulder. “Hey, big guy, we should get you into bed now, huh… Take a rest…”

Thor shook his head.  His smile was as wide as ever, but his voice was choked with the effort of trying to speak what was on his mind.  “No, I… I am perfectly happy here…”

“I’m sure you are, bud, you need to get some sleep…  Peter, can you help me get him to his room?” Bruce was thankful when Quill came to help; there was no way he could have moved all of Thor’s weight on his own - even with the two of them, it was still a very difficult mission.  

That left Tony alone with Loki, and now that Thor was gone, the calmness Loki had been wearing was gone and instead he looked almost anxious.

“Rough day?” Tony finished his joint and took a seat next to Loki.  He stiffened as the younger immediately curled up against him, his head on Tony’s shoulder as he wrapped his arms around the man’s own and held it tight.  Tony cleared his throat. “Hey, uh… Last time we spoke, I sent you off in tears, remember?”

There was no response from Loki except for the way he shuffled his lithe body closer and slid beneath Tony’s arm so it was wrapped around him.  

Tony sighed.  He knew he should push the boy away, do anything he could to put distance between them for so many reasons, but all he could manage was to wrap his arm around Loki and hold him even closer.  “I’m not the right person to come to for this, Loki.”

Loki finally responded.  He shook his head and murmured, “You are better than Odin…  He would have simply backhanded me across the face and told me to go cry in my room...”

Tony cocked his eyebrow now; whatever was going on in that sharp mind of Loki’s involved his adoptive father.  He wondered briefly if Thor knew, but of course he did; Loki was his brother and he’d have seen first-hand how Loki was treated.

...Right?  Possibly not, if Odin had been careful to hide it all.

Tony had even opened his mouth to say something, but he found himself speechless when Loki shifted and his shirt rode upwards to reveal fresh cuts along his hips, almost perfectly symmetrical lines one above the other that left no doubt in Tony’s mind Loki was a self-harmer.  

“Loki…  Does Thor know about that?” Please say Thor knows his little brother cuts his own body on purpose…

A small huff escaped Loki’s lips as he leant forward towards the coffee table.  His lips remained tightly shut as his nimble fingers worked at rolling another joint.  He remained silent until he’d lit it and taken a long drag before finally he murmured out, in a much more peaceful manner than every other time Tony had heard him speak, “Yes, let’s not upset Thor …  We can’t have that, can we…?”

“No, I’m serious about this; you’re not even my relative and I’m worried about you.”

Loki laughed.  He took another puff before he forced out.  “Technically I’m adopted; not really Thor’s brother, now, am I…?”

“Who gives a shit who your parents are?  You were raised as Thor’s brother and he thinks of you as his brother.”

Loki’s hand dropped to his lap, and his blunt was dangerously close to burning through his pants as his eyes slipped closed and he muttered, “The thing is… Thor opens his stupid mouth about me and you think you know it all …  It happens with all his friends…  They judge me before they even know me…”

Tony snatched the joint away and slipped it past his own lips before Loki set something on fire with it.  His voice took on that edge sharpened with emotion and life experience as he held himself back from spitting, “You think that’s what it is, Loki?  You’re being judged ?  Let me tell you something, shithead… The world isn’t fucking fair.  We all hurt. But don’t you ever try and make others hurt alongside you.  Your brother loves you, Loki.  Two years ago he was in major depression over you and I’m not sure I even want to know what you did to cause that in him.  But I assure you, Loki… If worrying about being judged by strangers is the worst thing you have to worry about, I think you’re going to be okay.”

Loki cracked his eyelid open now.  He scowled. “Fuck you, Stark…”

“Harden your ass up, princess, before it gets handed to you.” Tony’s lips twitched with the pull of a frown.  “...I sound like my fucking father…”

“Bet he was a bigger asshole than you are…”

There weren’t many people who could get away unscathed after insulting Tony’s father, but here Loki was, still curled up against him, half asleep.  Beneath his breath, he muttered, “Not as big an asshole as Odin, that’s for sure…”

The living room fell silent, except for Loki’s soft breathing and Tony’s smoking.  Quill and Bruce returned some time later, the two of them looking exceptionally tired from when they had left.  

“He asleep, too?” Quill gestured to Loki, and as he watched the way Tony hurried about pulling the boy’s shirt down.  The same sympathetic expression Bruce had been seeing their entire visit returned as his eyes caught sight of what Tony had tried to hide.  “You should see his thighs…”

Tony sighed.  “Not sure I want to, really.”

And it was true.  As much as Tony wanted to see the boy naked, he didn’t know if he could stomach looking at telltale self-harm; all he’d be able to think about was Loki’s suffering if he did.

Chapter Text

“I swear Barton is thick as all fuck.” Tony leant against the door to his office with his arms folded against his chest as he eyed Steve and Bucky.  “Nat couldn’t have made it any clearer she wants him to jump her bones and he takes no notice.”

“Yeah, but Tony, not everyone is a sex addict like you,” Steve reminded.  

“To be honest, they have been dancing around each other for years now,” Bucky agreed.  

“I’m just saying, if Thor can pick up when he’s so clueless and innocent, they can get together.” Tony rolled his eyes.

Steve and Bucky laughed, but before they could reply, they were approached by one of the other teachers, and with his consistent stoic expression, it was impossible to tell what he wanted.

“What do you want, Harry Potter?” Tony stood straight and unfolded his arms so he could jerk his thumb over his shoulder to the other end of the corridor.  “You looking for Voldemort? I think I saw him heading that way just before.”

The teacher rolled his eyes. “Oh, please, even Voldemort wouldn’t want to associate himself with anything to do with you.  I’m looking for Thor Odinson.”

“Doctor Strange.”  Steve bowed his head in respect of the newcomer; just because he was a teacher now didn’t mean he hadn’t once been the best neurosurgeon in the world.  “Thor was in Tony’s class just before, but we don’t know where he went. He might be looking for his brother.”

“Well, that will prove useless as I currently have Loki in my office.”

The three looked at each other now; it had been almost a month since Loki had started classes, and they’d never heard of this happening before.

Tony pulled his phone from his pocket and dialled Thor’s number. “Where’s your office again, Merlin?”

“My name is Doctor Stephen Strange and if I have to keep reminding you of this, Tony, I will use a spell on you.”

Tony didn’t reply; his phone rang out, and now he worried; Thor didn’t usually vanish like this.  He tried again, but when it only went to voicemail, he said, “Hey, pal, give me a call back; a wizard has your brother.”

“So what’s wrong with him?” Steve was worried as he strode alongside the robed man; Stephen Strange tended to keep to himself and never approached anyone unless it was of the utmost importance.  “Is he okay?”

“Right now he is shutting down.” Stephen’s eyes never diverted from the path in front of him as he led the way.  “It happened in my class; we were halfway through the lesson when I noticed it.”

“Notice what?” Bucky scratched at his arm; as much respect as he had for this man, sometimes Stephen could be impossibly vague.

“To put simply as I’m sure only your ex-weapons dealer friend here would understand the terminology, he appears to have imploded from stress.” Stephen’s stoic outlook never faltered.  “He is in a safe environment but he needs his brother.”

“Of all the times for Thor to fucking wander off…” Tony sighed.  “Any other time he sticks to us like glue.”

Stephen’s office wasn’t far away, so it was a quick journey to Loki’s side where they found the boy, laid down on the couch with Stephen’s favourite red cloak draped over him for comfort.  His face looked so blank, it was almost eerie, and with how still he laid, he could have been mistaken for a life-sized doll.

Tony was the first to approach. He brushed hair from Loki’s face, and the boy’s eyes didn’t so much as flicker.  He pulled his phone from his pocket to check for a missed call from Thor, but there was nothing.

“Well…” Tony scooped Loki up into his arms and held him close, “...since Rapunzel has been abducted by aliens, I’m taking Loki home.  I don’t have any more classes today so I can look after him.”

“Do you realise you’re bending rules so far, you’re going to get into a lot of trouble if anyone sees you carrying him to your car?” Stephen’s eyebrow rose.  

“Yeah, thanks for the concern, Hermione, but you should concern yourself with making more balloon animals for childrens’ parties and stop lecturing me.”

As Tony left the room with Loki in his arms, Stephen muttered under his breath, “Douchebag…”

“Don’t mind him,” Steve reassured.  “He’s like that with everyone. It means he likes you when he insults you mercilessly.”

Stephen hummed in thought as he picked his cloak up and reattached it to his robes.  “Strange way of showing his affections. I think I would rather him hate me; he might be more pleasant that way.”

Steve snorted and shook his head before he controlled himself and asked, “So what set Loki off?”

Bucky perked up as he listened.  Stephen licked his lips as he recounted the class.  “I really do not know. We were discussing the link between abuse and health and he just caved in on himself.”

Steve’s eyes softened as he murmured, “That makes sense…. Doctor Strange, thank you for looking after him; he’s…”

Was Loki their friend? Sure, they’d gotten to know him more and more, but Loki barely interacted with them outside out giving them scathing looks and running his mouth.  

But…

It made sense how to finish that sentence now; Loki wasn’t their friend, but he…

“He’s special.”


 

Tony knew that Loki had never been to his home before, but here he was, carrying the boy into the elevator that would take them up Stark Tower and into the living quarters.  Loki hadn’t moved at all, and Tony couldn’t help but worry; it had been half-hour since he’d had Loki in his care, and by now he was starting to wonder if he should take him to the hospital and leave him there for Thor to find.

“What the hell…” Tony slipped his phone into his pocket as Thor’s number once again dialled out; what the fuck was he doing ?  

“Alright…” The elevator pinged and the doors opened, and even under dead weight, Loki wasn’t that heavy at all; he was easy enough to carry into the living area and deposit him on the couch.  He patted Loki’s shoulder as he looked around, not knowing what to do now; did he wait for Thor to call him? For Loki to wake up on his own?

Babysitting was hard, and if this was what Thor had to do all day every day, he felt sorry for the guy.  

He decided it was no good standing around uselessly, so he went to the kitchen and prepared himself a sandwich; he’d feed Loki when - if, really - the boy woke up, but for now…

He took his phone from his pocket again, but this time he didn’t bother trying to call; now that his hands were free, he opened up his messages and clicked Thor’s name so he could type.  

I really need you to call me, bud; I’ve got your bro at my place and he isn’t doing well.  

As expected, there was no reply.  Tony rubbed at his face; just great…  Thor had apparently fallen off the planet and now he was stuck with Loki without any idea what he was supposed to do.  

He looked over his shoulder at Loki, but there was no change in the other; he hadn’t moved and Tony was starting to wonder if it was going to be like this all night.  

He’d resigned himself to his destiny of overnight babysitting an hour later when his phone finally did ring and Thor’s name showed up on the display.  He rolled his eyes as he hit answer and put the phone to his ear.

“About time; aliens finally drop you back off on Earth?”  Tony cradled the phone against his ear with his shoulder as he stood up to make another sandwich for himself.  He was startled by the voice that answered him; it was deep, but not as deep as Thor’s booming tone.

“Tony, I have Thor’s phone.”

Tony rolled his eyes now.  “You into mugging people now, wizard?  Where is he?”

“In the infirmary, insisting I take him to his brother rather than the hospital where he belongs.” Stephen ignored the alarmed cry Tony made and continued on.  “Did he not say anything to you in class? He has appendicitis.”

Now that Tony was looking back on it, Thor had seemed uncomfortable in class, withdrawn and eager to escape the second the bell had sounded.  “...No… I didn’t… notice…”

Stephen said nothing about Tony’s lack of care to his students - which was surprising, as he’d always taken Stephen Strange as the kind of person to stick his nose into everyone else’s business - and instead said, “Text through your address; when I get him to yours, I’d appreciate it you took him to the hospital.”

“What’s wrong with you taking him?” Tony almost spat, hating to be given orders.  

“I don’t have a car and the hospital is a long way away with public transport.” With that, Stephen hung up.

Tony almost felt bad.  It made sense that Stephen wouldn’t own a car anymore; his career had been abruptly ended by a horrific car smash that left nerve damage so severe, his hands were no longer capable of operating on patients.  The damage left behind probably wasn’t entirely physical, either, and it was one of those rare moments Tony felt like an asshole as he could understand those kinds of emotions, far more than he’d care to admit.

He turned his attention back to Loki now, and he was glad to see the younger was finally stirring.  The boy pushed him up onto his elbows to look around in a daze, but Tony couldn’t have said anything even if he wanted to because at that moment, his elevator chimed and the doors opened to reveal his own adopted kid.  

“Hey, Mr. Stark.” Peter dropped his schoolbag by the elevator doors as he walked in.  He took no notice of Loki on the couch; eager to tell Tony all about his school trip. “Did you miss me too much?  I wasn’t gone for too - oh, wow, who’s this?”

Tony’s eyes followed Peter’s to see what he was looking at.  He wasn’t surprised to find his kid staring at Loki, Loki staring back and looking like a deer caught in headlights.  “Kid, that’s Thor’s little bro, Loki. He’s - kid, don’t .”

Tony should have known to alert Peter first thing about Loki’s… condition, but he hadn’t, and now that Peter was approaching their guest, he couldn’t get between them fast enough before Loki had thrown himself off the couch and lunged at Peter.

A snarl escaped Tony’s lips as he watched Peter leap backwards, forever grateful for the kid’s agility, but that didn’t mean Loki wasn’t trying to get back to him; the more he kept advancing, the more Tony was ready to rip him into shreds for daring so much as look at his kid wrong.  

Suddenly, he found himself understanding Thor’s over-protectiveness of Loki because if Thor got mad at people using the wrong tone with his brother, Tony was murderous .  

He grabbed the back of Loki’s jacket and threw him across the room, as far away from Peter as he could.  He looked over his shoulder at Peter and growled, “Kid, go to your room.”

Loki was a mess.  Peter was backing up, unable to take his eyes off the sight before him.  He’d never heard someone scream with so much anguish before, but here he was, watching Loki thrash about the room in a blur, upturning everything he got his hands on and tossing what he could through the windows and off the tower.  The legs were snapped off one of the coffee tables and met their fate over the railing of the balcony as well, glass shards were picked up and used to rip through the couches, and Tony’s brand new plasma TV met its untimely end when a chair went sailing through the screen before being ripped from the wall in a manner that looked almost rabid.  

“Loki, stop!” Tony’s voice thundered throughout the floor.  He didn’t care for his possessions, but what he did care about was the fact that Peter was here witnessing it all and - the worst part - he felt almost helpless to stop Loki’s agonised rampage.  “Loki!”

Tony should have stepped in the moment it started.  He should have moved away from Peter and stopped shielding him to restrain Loki as best he could and hope he calmed down.  Instead, he’d watched the boy thrash about, injuring himself and probably others if anyone was down on the sidewalk below as he all but rolled around in broken glass and body slammed solid items.  

But what Tony truly felt horrible about was how he had only stood there and watched as Loki scooped up a large shard of glass and sliced open his wrist.  Blood splattered everywhere, but still Tony didn’t move.

Peter moved, though.  He crept towards Loki, his voice low and gentle as he tried his hardest to coax the guest into dropping the glass and letting him help.  Loki watched him as tears rolled down his cheeks, silent and unmoving until Peter was almost close enough to reach out and ghost his fingertips against him.

Loki moved so fast, they almost didn’t see it happen.  He’d turned around and sprinted towards the shattered wall-windows, out onto the balcony, and threw himself over the railings.  

Tony’s world stopped as he watched Peter give chase, and he barely even noticed his own feet moving until he became aware of himself, pressed heavily into the railings as he gripped tightly onto Peter’s ankle and held the weight of two teenage boys in the air all by himself.  

“Fuck!” Tony tried to pull them both back up, but his feet were quickly losing their grip and he could feel himself slipping slowly beneath the railing.  He grit his teeth and tried to pull as much strength from his reserves as possible, but it was useless; never before had he felt so weak and powerless and helpless.   “If I go over this edge, I’m killing the both of you myself!”

“Let go of me, you stupid ape!” Loki screamed back at Peter.  He writhed about in an attempt to get the other teen to let go of his wrist, but all it accomplished was knocking Tony off-balance as well until his feet gave way and he felt himself tumbling past the railings and over the edge.  

Tony’s life flashed before his eyes, and he squeezed them shut as he tried to prepare himself for the long fall down, but to his surprise, it never came.  He opened them again as he realised now there were two sets of hands pulling him away from the edge before they next moved to help bring Peter and Loki up as well.

“What are you doing here, wizard?” Tony felt almost ashamed of his panicked breathing as he took in the wide-eyed, distressed features of Stephen Strange who couldn’t stop staring at him in disbelief.

“Really?  I save all of your lives and you’re ungrateful?” Stephen shook his head as he turned back to make sure Thor had succeeded in pulling Loki up safely.  

“Watch him; he tried throwing himself off the edge,” Tony growled as he pulled Peter into his arms and held him close.  

Thor held Loki tightly in his arms, and no one could tell if it were a hug out of pure relief or to restrain his brother from any more suicide attempts.  His face was hidden in black hair, and Tony winced as he heard a few sobs escape from his friend.

Stephen didn’t hesitate to reach down and scoop Loki into his arms, no matter how much Thor protested at having his brother taken from him.  “Tony, we need a room with no windows where we can hold him without fear of anyone being hurt.”

Tony was shaky as he got to his feet; he supposed almost falling off the edge of a tower did that to people, though.  He held Peter’s hand tightly in his as he nodded and forced out, “R-right… Bedrooms… Spare bedroom… Follow me…”

While Tony led the way and Stephen followed behind urgently with a still-writhing Loki in his arms, Peter looked back at Thor who was trailing them slowly.  He was holding his stomach, and his face was so scrunched up in pain, it was curious as to whether or not the tears he was crying was from Loki or whatever he was feeling right now.

“Are you okay, Uncle Thor?” Peter whispered.

Thor nodded and tried to smile, but the way he staggered and continued to almost fall over told Peter that no; Thor was not okay.  

But then again, neither was Loki, and Peter wasn’t sure he’d felt this sad in a long time.  

Chapter Text

“Okay, kid, your brother’s boyfriend is on the way to come and collect you, but until then, you’re stuck with me.” Tony sat down on the edge of Loki’s guest bed and folded his arms across his chest.  His eyes were narrowed and his tone was stern, not because of any fault of Loki’s, but because so much had happened in the past three days, Tony was honestly exhausted. “You may as well cut the crap and tell me exactly what you need because I’m not going to babysit your ass for two days until Quill gets here.”

Loki was curled up on his side, with his back to Tony as he stared longingly at the wall window across from him.  It had quickly been replaced with hammerglass to avoid another repeat of him jumping off the tower, but still they heard him trying to break through it often.  “...”

“Well?” Tony shifted in agitation.  “I bring you into my home, you destroy all my stuff and attack my kid, and then try and jump off my balcony.  By all fucking rights I should have dumped you at your house and left you alone, but look; you’re still fucking here, aren’t you?”

Still, Loki remained silent.  Tony tried another approach; clearly getting shitty at Loki wasn’t working.  He took a deep breath and forced his tone to soften just a bit. “Look… Thor is going to be in hospital for a while.  He ruptured his appendix pulling your sorry ass up off the side of the building. That means until he’s recovered, I’m not leaving you alone.  If you have to stay here with me in the meantime, that’s cool. If Quill is gonna take you back to your place and stay with you, that’s cool, too.  But I don’t want you on your own.”

“You should…”

Tony cocked his head at the tiny voice; of all things to respond to, why did Loki just now choose to speak in a tone that conveyed the agony of someone who hated life?  “What?”

“You should leave me alone…” Finally, Loki rolled onto his back to look at Tony.  His eyes had aged decades in the past days, and Tony hated knowing this boy was suffering.  “If my brother would leave me alone, I’d be out of his hair already…”

“What do you mean, Loki?” Tony stayed where he was, but the parental instincts Peter had helped instilled in him made him want to reach out and ghost his hand on Loki’s shoulder in support.  “That wasn’t the first time you’ve tried something like that, is it?”

“I always try it.  It’s why my brother hates me being alone.” Something dark crossed Loki’s eyes before it disappeared and he looked almost empty.  “He doesn’t get that I just want to be dead. He won’t let me kill myself.”

Tony sighed.  “Loki… He is your brother ; of course he doesn’t want you dead; he loves you.”

A huff escaped Loki’s lips.  “He isn’t my brother…”

“Not blood-related, no, you’re right.  But he’s always seen as you as his little bro; you are unconditionally his brother, Loki.”

“He hates me…  If he loved me, he wouldn’t have left me alone with them …”

“What do you mean?”

Loki squeezed his eyes shut tight, but the single tear that slipped past betrayed him.  He sniffed and wiped at his eyes as more followed. “...He left me… He knew they… He knew they hurt me, and he still left me there anyway…  He moved out .”

“Loki, he came back for you,” Tony exasperated.  “Look. We’ve known Thor for a long time now.  We’ve known him since he was nineteen, and not once did he ever shut up about you.  Honestly, some days we got sick of hearing about you, we heard it so often.  There is no way he hated you or ever wanted to hurt you.”

“Bullshit!” Loki swiped the alarm clock off the bedside drawer and onto the ground.  “Bullshit! He knew! He knew… He saw the bruises around my neck from where Odin strangled me because I got a B on my test…. He watched that bastard flog me until I bled with his metal studded belt because I spilt my drink on the couch. And when Thor’s sister told him she wanted to molest me, he said nothing and walked away.  He hates me.”

Tony shook his head. He grabbed Loki’s shoulder and gripped tight as he growled, “Loki.  I promise you what you think is Thor hating you is him feeling lost and confused and helpless because he doesn’t know what to do.  He talks to us, Loki. He tells us things.”

“What, about how terrible I am?!” Loki’s voice had raised back into a shout, and his tears came harder now.  “I know he talks about me, and I hate him for it!”

“Loki.” It was that firm, almost aggressive tone that left no room for argument Tony so rarely used that had Loki shutting up and looking at the man with teary eyes.  “You’re going to shut up and listen to me. Your brother loves you.  He loves you so much, he puts you first and barely looks after himself.  We have to keep our phones on at night for him because he calls us at three am so often, he has no one else to listen to him when he considers getting up and tying a fucking rope around his neck!  Did you even realise he is suicidal, Loki?   Did you ?  You couldn’t have; you’re so focused on crying, ‘oh, my brother hates me and I want to die!’, you don’t realise Thor feels the exact same way as you.”

Loki was speechless.  His mouth opened and closed wordlessly as he took in the information - but how could he trust that Tony was telling the truth?  Everyone lied to him all the time…!

“You’d better still be listening to me, you little shit, because you aren’t the only one in pain.  Yeah, life sucks but guess what; there’s plenty of other people out there who’ve been hurt, and they don’t behave like you do!  I am sorry you grew up so shittily, but nothing we can do can change that!  Sit with it and accept it for what it is; a shitty past but one that doesn’t define your future, Loki!  You are not your past, and you are not defined by it, either!  I refuse to accept your crappy excuse that there’s only suicide in your future - I didn’t accept that for my future, and neither did any of our friends!  Now stop crying, man up and show me that you’re better than the fuckers who only wanted to hurt you!”

Loki’s voice was weak again now, heavy with pity and exhaustion.  “You think it’s that easy, Stark…?”

“No.  I know it’s not easy - not easy at all .” Tony’s voice softened, and he moved just that tiny bit closer now.  “We’ve all had shitty hands dealt to us in our group, Loki. All of us.  We’ve all hurt, and some of us still do .  But the thing is, we learnt to keep our heads above the water even while the undertow tries dragging us back under again.  There is not a single person in my circle who isn’t hurting, some more than others, but if you’d let them…  They’d all give you as much help as you asked for.”

Loki’s response came in the form of him pulling the blankets out from under him and dragging them over his head.  The room fell into uncomfortable silence for what almost felt like an eternity until Loki’s muffled voice finally sounded from under the blankets.

“She really did it, you know…?”

Tony squinted; what?  “What do you mean?”

“Thor’s sister…  Hela…” Loki pushed the blankets away from his face now, and Tony wasn’t sure he’d ever seen the poor thing look so defeated before.  “She molested me… Raped me, too…”

Tony frowned.  He wanted so badly to reach out and put his hand on Loki’s cheek to comfort him, but he knew better than to initiate even the slightest physical thing right now.  He was almost stunned into silence before he finally asked the only thing he could. “...How many times…?”

Loki shrugged.  “Been happening for years…”

“Does Thor know?”

Loki snorted miserably.  “Probably… As I said, he walked away when she said she was going to molest me…”

A faint memory clicked in Tony’s mind now, and he bit his lip; would Loki even believe him if he said anything about it…?  “Loki… I’m sure that was when the big guy rang Steve and I.  He was so distraught, we honestly thought someone had died .  He said his sister had said something about you to him and he didn’t know how to handle it.  We didn’t know what she had said; if he’d told us… Loki, if he had told us, I can promise you all of us would have been on your doorstep to get you out of there.”

Loki’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.  “He never spoke to me about it…”

“You know better than anyone how he is; he doesn’t bring anything up with anyone and waits for them to open up themselves.  It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care… It means he’s a fucking cinnamon roll who can’t bear the thought of hurting someone.”

A frown crossed Loki’s face.  He looked back to the window as he listened to the rain that was beginning to pelt against the building, signalling the start of the storm.  He squeezed his eyes shut tight as he felt a flood of hot tears well up in his eyes. He curled into a ball, desperate to soothe himself now.  His voice cracked. “...L-leave… Just… G-go…”

Tony nodded.  He said not a word as he got to his feet and left; the last thing he wanted to do was overwhelm Loki when he was already feeling so fragile.  

Outside Loki’s room, Tony rested his back against the door and closed his eyes as he listened to the screams and wails that could only belong to someone so damaged, they might never be able to return.  

Chapter Text

Loki left the spare bedroom for the first time two days later as breakfast was being laid out on the table.  He’d stepped off the elevator and heard the conversation falter at his approach, and whatever decent mood he had been in just seconds ago vanished; had they been talking about him…?

“Hey, Loki!” Peter was hanging off his seat, his arms flailing in the air in a mockery of a wave that made him look far too over-excited over nothing. “We’re having breakfast. Do you want eggs?”

Loki watched warily as Tony dropped a plate of bacon and eggs in front of Peter before going back to the kitchen to serve his own meal.  He gave no response to the question; he just sat at the table and closed his eyes as he fought against the overwhelming exhaustion threatening to consume him.

Tony apparently didn’t need anything to be said as he’d approached the table once again and put another plate down, this time in front of Loki.  “You really need to eat, Loki; you haven’t touched any of the meals I’ve left you in your bedroom.”

Loki grimaced. He was about to push the plate away and argue, but that was before he realised he and Peter had completely different serving sizes on their plates; for the first time in Loki’s life, he’d been given more than someone else.

It was ridiculous how emotional this made him feel, Loki knew.  He was pathetic, but he’d lived in his brother’s shadow for so long, always treated as if he were vermin compared to Thor, and no matter how hard he tried his best, nothing he had ever been able to do had gotten him treated anywhere near the way Thor was treated.  He sniffled and wiped at his eyes; had his worth… finally been acknowledged…?

Tony gave Peter a brief look before he made himself scarce and took his meal to the other side of the room to eat on the couch and watch the morning news.  It was obvious how conditioned Loki was to accepting being treated as lesser than his brother, and it made Tony’s hands clench in anger at anyone who ever dared to hurt him.  If Loki came to him and asked to talk to him about his problems, Loki had all of him. If he wanted to stay over there and do as he pleased, that also was okay.  But what wasn’t okay was for Tony to push him into anything he didn’t want or wasn’t ready for after he’d finally done well enough to leave his room.

“What’s wrong, Loki?” Peter moved his chair to sit closer to his friend.  “Are you alright?”

Loki shook his head.  Perhaps it was because he was so exhausted, but he found he couldn’t stop himself from spilling his pain in that moment.  “W-why would he… give me all that food…?  They never… They n-never let me e-eat so much…”

Peter’s eyes widened in surprise.  He reached out and put his hand on Loki’s shoulder.  “Oh, Loki… I’m sorry…”

“Is this a trick…?” Loki wiped at his eyes.  He pushed the plate away, almost too scared to touch it; there had to be something more to this because only Thor himself made sure he had plenty to eat and wouldn't go hungry.

...Thor…  Sweet, stupid Thor, who’d gone hungry to make sure Loki ate on so many occasions…  

Peter shook his head.  “Loki, there are no tricks with Mr. Stark.  What you see is what you get with him. He doesn’t want you to be hungry; that’s all.”

It wasn’t that easy for Loki to trust either of them; kids were horrible, cruel creatures, and adults weren’t much better - in fact, they were more evolved in their barbaric manners, and Loki didn’t know which one he hated more.  He’d never had support from either demographic; never from anyone bar Thor.

...How had he never realised that before?  Out of everyone he had encountered in his life, Thor was the only person in the world who had never raised their voice or their hand to him or ever attempted to make him feel threatened or intimidated…  

Thor was Thor; his brother and truly the only consistency he had in this frightening, hurtful world.  

Loki wiped at his eyes.  “Your dad hates me…”

“He doesn’t hate you; that’s just how he is.  He isn’t trying to upset you; he gets scared of losing people and being alone again.  Loki, he’s rough around the edges but his heart is always in the right place, and if you asked him, he’d do anything for you.” Peter threaded his fingers through his hair.  “Also, he isn’t my dad; I’m adopted because I lost my aunt and uncle recently.”

“Adopted…?” The words felt almost alien on the tip of his tongue, which was strange considering he also was adopted and he’d scream it at Thor every time he picked a fight with him.  Loki closed his eyes. “...You are… adopted…?”

“Mhm.  I was doing an internship with him and he took me in when I lost everyone.”

Loki’s eyes flicked back and forth between the two of them; he couldn’t trust the other to be telling the truth…  “But you are… You are not afraid or hate him…?”

Peter looked almost offended at the question.  His voice squeaked as he rushed to explain the situation.  “What, no!  I love Mr. Stark!  I mean… I loved my family, too, but after Uncle Ben died…  Well, Mr. Stark… I am happy here with Mr. Stark.”

Loki’s eyebrows furrowed as he watched Peter rub the back of his neck sheepishly.  There was no lie in the other’s words; he could decipher only genuinity. But even so…

“Then why is it my adopted parents… insisted on my suffering…?  My mothe - Frigga… Frigga… was different… But Odin…  Odin just… He…”

Peter reached out to rest his palm on the back of Loki’s trembling hand.  His voice was tender as he murmured, “Sometimes life really hurts like that, Loki…  But there are always people out there who want to help… You’re looking at one right now, and there’s another on the couch…”

Loki wiped at his eyes again.  He pulled away from the touch and fell into silence, but Peter felt relief settle in his stomach as he watched his friend pull the plate closer and pick up the utensils.  

From where he had been listening closely to the conversation, Tony looked over his shoulder and back to the dining table.  His voice held that softness to it only Peter was privy to hearing as he called, “Do you want to take him out to get chocolate, Peter?”

Peter hummed at the idea, and with the way Loki’s eyes lit up in surprise, no one had probably ever offered him the adventure before.  “Loki, do you want to get chocolate?”

Loki couldn’t help but nod.  His expression was dazed; when was the last time he had had chocolate?  Thor used to sneak him home bags of chocolates and sweets to hide in his room, but when they’d moved in together…

A stray tear rolled down Loki’s cheek, and for the first time in perhaps years, he murmured, “Thank you…”

Tony stood up and pulled his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans so he could toss it down onto the dining table in front of Loki.  “No problem, kid. Buy whatever you want. Sky’s the limit.”

It wasn’t true.  Tony would have bought Loki the universe if he could, just to put a smile on Loki’s face.  


 

When Quill arrived at Stark Tower to pick up Loki, he had been shocked to find himself lead into the living area and introduced to a Loki who was calm, placid and not stoned .  It was true he and Thor were long-distance, so it wasn’t like he was around all the time to see, but he had been with Thor long enough to know that moments like these were incredibly rare.

Quill couldn’t help but look suspiciously at Tony.  “What did you give him…?”

“Nothing; he went shopping with my kid today and when they came home, they splurged on sweets and played video games together.” Tony took a seat on the couch next to Peter and pulled him into a one-armed hug.  

Quill’s incredulous expression only grew.  His voice reflected his stunned surprise. “He hasn’t done any of that with Thor in so long…”

“Yeah?  Well, knowing Thor, he never asked ,” Tony pointed out.  “...Or suggested .  The big guy’s sweet, but his social skills are horrible; he waits to be approached.”

Quill relaxed enough at that to sit as well, next to Loki who seemed content to sit with his knees to his chest and his arms wrapped around them as he kept his eyes on the movie Tony had been watching.  He nudged Loki’s side, as gently as he could to not agitate any self-harm that was still healing. “Is that right, Loki?”

Loki shrugged.  His voice was almost monotonous as he mumbled, “I still give Thor credit for trying.”

“Huh…” Quill nodded to himself, a satisfied expression crossing his face.  “Well, then, do you wanna -”

“- No.” Loki didn’t even look at him.

“Hey, let me finish.” Quill waited for Loki to object, and when none came, he tried again.  “I mean, with me .  We can -”

“- No.” Just as stoic as the first time, Loki responded without a care in the world.

Quill huffed and folded his arms across his chest.  “Fine! I didn’t want to hang out with you anyway…”

“Good.  My IQ drops enough around Thor; I do not need you knocking me into the single digits.”

Tony burst into laughter at the pout Quill wore.  “If this is a common occurrence between the two of you, I really hope you move in with Thor soon; I could do with the entertainment.”

The thing was, no matter how upset Quill appeared to be about Loki’s disdain towards him, Tony knew he still cared and probably exaggerated his outward emotion.  If there was a bad relationship between these two, Quill wouldn’t have travelled for two days to come and look after Loki on his own, no matter how much Thor could have begged and pleaded.  

“Well, at least let me take you home…?” There was hope in Quill’s voice now.

“Okay.” And the immediate response that was noticeably lighter than Loki’s previous taunting proved Tony’s theory; there was little bad blood between these two, if there was any at all; the way Loki had no problem in standing up and following Quill to the elevator half-an-hour later was evidence enough.  

Chapter Text

It took a week before Tony had had time to swing by Thor and Loki’s home and check on the two.  He knew Thor was home from the hospital, on strict bed rest as his surgery had taken so much out of him, but it wasn’t his friend he was concerned about; he wanted to know how Loki was doing, and if he was still doing better since that morning at his home or if he’d gone back to his shithead ways.

Quill let him inside with a warm greeting and no signs of stress, so that was a good sign.  Tony followed his host into the living room, but he didn’t have to look around far because there, at the desk situated beneath the open window, Loki sat with his homework spread before him and his pen scratching as he jotted down his information.

“Hey.” Tony nodded at Quill to leave them alone for a while before he approached Loki.  He stood by the desk, in front of the open window to allow the cool breeze to wash over him.  “Your brother still in bed?”

Loki nodded.  There was tension in his shoulders, but Tony didn’t comment on it.  “He was walking around just before, but he’s still very tired. Idiot wasn’t taking his antibiotics and got sick again.”

Tony nodded.  “Sounds like him.”

Loki hummed in response.  He kept his attention on his homework, but it was becoming harder and harder to focus when he realised Tony showed no sign of leaving any time soon.  He dropped his pen to the desk and gave the other a look of disbelief. “Just in case you are too thick to notice it, I am Loki. Thor is in his bedroom.”

“Oh, I am well aware.”  Still, Tony didn’t move.

Loki’s eyes filled with tears at the sudden confusion.  “Then why are you here ?”

“Because I want to be.  Is that a crime?”

“No, no, no!” Loki got to his feet and grabbed at his hair.  He yanked at it, ripping handfuls of his long hair out as a whimper escaped him.  Quill, who had been on the couch, got to his feet with a look of worry on his face, but with one shake of Tony’s head, he sat back down and opted to keep a close eye on what was happening.  

“Loki?” Tony finally moved off the window now.  His hands were in the pockets of his pants as he took a step closer.  “What are you confused about?”

“You’re supposed to be with Thor !” Loki forced out.  He ripped more hair out as he stomped about the living room.  “ Thor !  I am not Thor !”

“I know you are not Thor; you are Loki.” Tony was starting to understand now, and he had a suspicion of what the problem was; Loki had been so alone, he couldn’t fathom the idea of someone coming to his home for him rather than Thor .  “You are Loki; you are also my friend, and I wanted to spend some time with you.”

“No!” Loki kicked over his desk chair before he hunched in on himself.  A strangled sob escaped his lips. “You didn’t… Y-you came for Thor , just like everyone else!”

Tony shrugged.  “Well, sure. I do plan to see Thor before I leave.  But you were also part of my plan.”

“Stop it…  J-just stop it…” Loki sounded heartbroken, as if he’d just been told someone he loved had died.  

Tony observed.  He watched closely and put the pieces together in his puzzle.  Loki was used to two things in these moments; either he would get screamed at, smacked around and taunted by his parents and peers.   Or, Thor may as well be on his knees as he begged and pleaded with Loki to calm down, to relax and tell him what was wrong and to just let him give his brother a hug for once.

It didn’t take anyone of matching intellect to Tony to realise that both of those methods didn’t work and only worsened the problems at hand.

“It’s a nice breeze.” Tony put his hand out the window to enjoy the cool air.  He kept his eyes on Loki, watching for the slightest movements. As he expected, Loki stopped pulling at his hair.  “Very good idea to do your homework here. You’ve got a nice view and everything.”

“...” Slowly, Loki’s hands dropped from his head.  

Tony next tapped at the papers on the desk.  “What subject are you working on, Loki?”

The reply came so quietly, Tony almost missed it.  “...Health…”

“Ah, so this is for the wizard.” Tony nodded.  “Do you mind if I look at it? I was always curious if his set homework is as wack as he is.”

Loki shook his head.  He stayed where he was, watching as Tony picked up his exercise book and flipped back to the start.  His hands started to tremble and he couldn’t help but scratch at his wrist despite there being no itch when the man started humming and nodding in approval.  He looked to the side when Tony tried to catch his gaze again.

“You’re smart, Loki.  Have you been pulling all this information from anywhere?  I didn’t see any referencing.”

Again, Loki shook his head.  “I already knew all that stuff…  I was going to try and find things to reference later…”

Tony whistled.  “Wow. Think you would be able to help Peter with his homework when you have time?  He isn’t doing too well in school at the moment.”

Loki’s stomach churned with emotion he didn’t understand.  It wasn’t nervousness or anger and sadness; it was…

He truly didn’t know; all he knew was that his tummy did somersaults at Tony’s acknowledgement.

“You think I’m smart…?”

“Yeah, like if you’ve just pulled all of this stuff from memory reserves, that’s pretty impressive.  It’s twice the size of the word count and answers everything clearly. My kid could really use a good influence like you, Loki.”

Loki felt sick, like he was going to vomit on the spot.  The scratching at his wrist increased in speed and he felt his breath get caught in his throat.  His eyes darted around him, but though he recognised the usual anxiety, that strange feeling in his stomach was back as well.

Loki ducked his head as he murmured, “Only Thor has ever called me smart…”

“Well, that’s because you are, Loki,” Tony promised.  “Look, if you ever need a hand with anything - with your homework or whatever, give me a call, alright?  Peter gave you my number, didn’t he?”

Loki nodded.  He still looked frightened, but his body was slowly relaxing.  He leant down to straighten the overturned chair. “...Well, Strange has been coming around here checking on my brother…  He’s been talking to me about my work… He says he’s very happy with it all, and that he… wouldn’t mind teaching me more in his free time…”

A small smile crossed Tony’s face.  “Cool. That wizard’s pretty out there, but he’s a good guy.  He’s helped me and my friends with a lot of things. He must see a lot of potential in you if he’s made you that offer; he takes on only the best.  Well-meaning guy but pretty far up his own ass, too, he is.”

The tension that had been in Loki’s body just minutes ago had completely vanished as he sat back on his chair and stared up at Tony with eyes widened in curiosity.  “Why do you call him a wizard?”

“He reminds me of one - especially the way he dresses.  Pretty sure he’s Harry Potter on his days off.”

A small, albeit genuine laugh escaped Loki now, and Tony was stunned to see how quickly all that anger and sadness had vanished and, for the first time since they’d known each other, Loki actually resembled the young man he was, happy and carefree.  His throat tightened, and all he wanted was to take Loki in his arms and hold him and protect him from the rest of the world forever.

Loki stopped laughing, but his smile remained.  He spun the chair around to face the desk again.  “I have to finish my essay.”

Tony nodded.  He patted Loki’s head as he murmured, “You’re a good kid.  Thor is proud of you, and so am I.”

Loki couldn’t swallow after hearing that.  His face reddened until he resembled a tomato, and he could only duck his head and hope to hide it as he felt embarrassment surge through him.  He gave a stiff nod, but he didn’t otherwise respond.

Tony moved to take a seat on the couch next to Quill now.  He anticipated Thor would be fast asleep, and he didn’t want to wake his friend as he was going to need all the sleep he could get in his recovery.

“He’s never laughed like that.”

Tony looked to Quill.  He raised his eyebrow at the shell-shocked expression Quill wore.  “What do you mean?”

“Loki… has never laughed from genuine amusement before.”

Tony reached into his jacket pocket and searched for his cigarette carton.  He nonchalantly pulled one out and lit it before he muttered, “Well, a first time for everything, right?”

Chapter Text

“Your brother would kill me if he knew I let you wander off with Peter and Ned to some girl’s party.” Tony’s eyes wandered over Loki’s thin form as they stood out on the balcony together and enjoyed the warmth the night had to bring them.  

Loki shrugged.  He lit the end of his blunt and took a drag before he muttered, “Thor thinks I am frail and liable to break at the smallest touch…  He’s always been like that - treats me as fragile goods and acts like he needs to protect me from the world…”

Tony snorted.  “You aren’t fragile, Loki.  You’re damaged. Doesn’t mean you’re going to shatter if you run off to a party for once in your life.”

“Tell that to Thor.” Loki took another deep breath.  “Tell him to lay off me a bit. I’m sick of being smothered by his overprotectiveness…”

“Hey, if I said anything to him about it, he’d either have an emotional breakdown or he’d punch me, and I’m not willing to deal with either,” Tony responded.  “Have you not seen his muscles, Loki?  It’d be like getting hit in the face by a goddamn semi-truck.”

Loki felt the corners of his lips twitch upwards.  He closed his eyes and relaxed. He liked coming here to get away from Thor because both Tony and Peter never failed to brighten his life a bit.  “Look on the bright side, Stark; you’d probably come out of it looking a sight better than you already do.”

Tony pushed lightly at Loki’s shoulder as he grinned.  “Still hotter than you, though. All the women line up to sleep with me.”

Loki was slowly realising why he liked Tony just a little more every time he saw the man; when he pushed Tony, Tony pushed back harder, and Loki felt all the better for being able to vent his frustrations adequately against someone who could take it.  “I’m just glad you have something going for you, Stark, but I’m afraid it’s not your looks or your personality.  I’m guessing it’s your money.”

Tony snorted again.  “Since you’ve never been here once for my money, I’m going to stick with the idea that people love me for my charisma and handsomeness.”

“Keep telling yourself that.”  Loki took the last drag of his blunt before he stretched.  “If Thor finds out you let me go to that party, he’s going to skin you alive.  He always told me I can’t go to them without him or else people will try and get with me.”

Tony rolled his eyes.  “Big brother is too overprotective.  He’d drive me fucking nuts .  I’m gonna talk to him when I see him next.”

A ghost of a smile cracked upon Loki’s face.  “Even though you’ll probably get punched?”

Tony shrugged.  “Well, not the first time he’s punched me in the face.  Probably won’t be the last. Anyway, you survived long enough for me to come get you; you can look after yourself if given the chance.  Come inside; it’s starting to get cold out here.”

Loki followed Tony back inside.  “I haven’t eaten yet.”

“It’s cool; there’s chinese on the way,” Tony promised.  “You like chinese?”

“In small quantities.” Loki sat on the couch and pulled his knees to his chest.  He observed the way Peter and Ned were sprawled out on the throw rug with their PlayStation controllers in hand, but he didn’t look for long; he wrapped his arms around himself and murmured, “Can you turn the cooling down, please?  I’m starting to get cold…”

Tony didn’t hesitate to lean forward and take the cooling system remote from the glass coffee table to turn it off.  He then opened his arm and held it towards Loki. “Need a cuddle?”

Loki looked away.  His hands fumbled together and he chewed at his lip before he finally hissed, “Pervert…”

Tony puffed his right cheek up as he turned his hands out in front of him as if to say oh well before he stood and moved to kneel by Peter’s side.  He gave no warning as he pulled his kid from the ground and into his lap, ignoring Peter’s squeaks and frantic movements as he desperately tried to keep up with his game so Ned wouldn’t win.  “M-mr. Stark! L-let go! Ned’s gonna beat me!”

Tony just hugged Peter tighter and turned him away from the TV.  He looked Loki dead in the eye as he asked casually, “Is this friendly, or am I a pedo now, Loki?”

Loki’s expression darkened, and he wasted no time in getting up from the couch and stomping over to the other three so he could slide himself under Tony’s arm and cuddle in against his side.  “It’s neither, Stark; you are just being an ass…”

Tony chuckled.  He turned back around so Peter could see the TV again, and with one arm firmly wrapped around them both, he called to Ned, “There’s room for one more if you want my other side, Ned.”

Ned’s face went red as he shook his head.  “No, I’m good, thanks.”

With that, Tony leant to the side so he could whisper into Loki’s ear, “Did Lolo get jealous ?”

Loki huffed, but he moved closer as if to take as much as Tony as he could.  “...”

Tony moved his arm so he could pat Loki’s head before he wrapped it back around him and held him close.  “You don’t have to be shy, Loki. I like cuddling. I’d give you cuddles any time you wanted them.”

Loki’s body stiffened for a few seconds before it relaxed, as if Loki had briefly taken the words the wrong way.  Tony understood, though; just because Loki did better with him than he did anyone else, he wasn’t going to heal overnight; there was still a hell of a long journey ahead of them if Loki would accept his help.


Steve and Bruce showed up later that night.  Bruce was as warm as ever as he greeted Loki and the other kids, but he didn’t stick around for long; he disappeared into the lab to work on whatever it was he did down there while Steve sat on the couch and helped himself to leftover chinese.  

Peter and Ned had turned their game off and were watching a movie, but Loki didn’t care about the TV right now; he was still curled up against Tony’s side, playing with the zipper on the man’s jacket as he listened to what the adults spoke about; something about Bruce and anger management and failing at it.

Loki gathered the courage to be heard as he asked, “Why does everyone say he’s in anger management?  I’ve never seen him the slightest bit mad.”

“Oh, trust us, Loki, he can get very mad very easily,” Steve said softly.  “You just don’t really see it because you only ever see him with us and we help him keep in control.”

Tony nodded in agreement.  He tucked a loose strand of hair away behind Loki’s ear before he said, “You’d understand Banner; his father messed him up as well.  You should talk to him some time. He’d appreciate it.”

“Why not you two talk?” Steve suggested gently.  His eyes darted between the two of them firmly before he continued.  “It’d do you some good, too, Stark; you never talk about Howard.”

“What was there to talk about?  He was cold and distant and then he was murdered before I ever got the chance to really know him.” Tony shrugged.  “Not much to talk about there.”

Loki tugged at Tony’s sleeve.  “Can I go to bed?”

“Oh, sure.” Tony stood up.  “I’ll be back, Rogers. Loki, you want to sleep in Peter’s room with him and Ned?”

Loki shook his head, and he didn’t need to reply for Tony to understand.  “...”

“Right.  Choose one of the many guest rooms.  Do you want a hot tea or anything before you sleep?”

Loki couldn’t deny tea would be great right about now.  He nodded as he turned into one of the guest rooms. “Did you tell my brother I’m staying overnight?  He will lose his mind if I don’t come home soon.”

“He knows,” Tony promised.  “He’s just glad you’re making friends.”

Loki’s face scrunched up, as if the idea of having friends was displeasing.  He scoffed. “I would never call someone such as yourself my friend, Stark. You flatter yourself too much.”

Tony placed his hand over his heart in mock hurt.  He couldn’t help but smirk. “Maybe. But unless you’re Jarvis’ friend, you’re here for either me or Peter.”

“Peter or I,” Loki corrected softly.  “And, yes. I am here for your stupid AI.”

Tony gasped.  “I knew it all along.  My own AI is a traitor.”

A tiny sound that suspiciously resembled a chuckle was heard from Loki, but Tony didn’t push; he just went and make the boy his tea, got him into bed and made him comfortable, and then left to join the others.

All the while he couldn’t help but grin to himself; Loki was quickly coming out of his shell around him, and he couldn’t wait until he finally got the boy out for good.

Chapter Text

It was a week later when Loki had come around on a rainy Sunday morning to help Peter with his schoolwork, and Tony had been absent.  Loki couldn’t help but feel disappointment, but it was okay; Peter was still good company, and anything was better than being at home and listening to his brother being sickeningly lovey-dovey with Quill.

“How did you get this answer?” Loki tapped at Peter’s algebra equations with a raised eyebrow; how indeed, because Peter was so far off the mark, he had left the goddamn planet with this answer.  

“Uhh…” Peter grinned sheepishly.  “...I guessed…?”

Loki sighed.  “You are as bad as my brother.”

“Yeah, but he’s still smarter than me,” Peter tried to defend.

“That is debatable…” Loki picked up his pen to show Peter the equation he was supposed to be using.  “My brother can be quite the moron. He used to always believe it was real whenever I would play dead as a kid.”

Peter chuckled.  “Knowing Uncle Thor, he would have cried every time.”

A wistful expression crossed Loki’s face now, and his voice went soft.  “It was… amusing.”

Peter patted Loki’s arm. He said nothing as he felt his friend tense and pull away from the touch; Loki was always like that with him and Tony.  It seemed to be a fifty-fifty chance; some days Loki didn’t seem to mind them touching him in such friendly ways, but other days, Loki acted as if he feared touch.

There was still a lot for Peter to learn about Loki, but it was okay; there was plenty of opportunity to do so.

They went back to the algebra, focusing so intently on it, they didn’t hear the elevator doors open just after lunch.

“Hey.”

Loki and Peter looked over their shoulders at Tony’s voice. Loki waved, but Peter stood up and moved to hug the man.  Loki couldn’t help but tense; it was something he wanted to be able to do as well, but he was still rather awkward when it came to such affections.

“Hello, Mr. Stark.” Peter smiled.  “Do you need help putting the shopping away?”

Tony shook his head.  He moved to the kitchen to put the groceries away.  “Why are you two doing homework on a Sunday? Go catch a movie at the cinema or something.”

“Oh, no, we’re good; we just want to get all this stuff out of the way.  We figured we’d finish something for one of our subjects today and then we can relax tonight.” Peter’s chest puffed out proudly at the affectionate smile Tony presented him with.

“Cool.  Loki, your bro’s coming over tonight, too.” Tony grabbed a pot from the rack to leave on the counter so he could make the boys lunch once he’d put everything away.  “Our circle will be here. You can join us if you want to; we just drink a lot of alcohol and talk shit. Nothing scary.”

Loki shook his head.  “I would rather not be dumbed down by the crowd you keep, Stark.”

Tony snorted.  “Feels that way sometimes, hey?”

“My brother is bad enough.  The toaster scared him this morning.  He sounds like a girl when he screams.”

Tony chuckled.  “Well, if you change your mind, we’ll be here.”

It just so happened that Loki did change his mind that night.  He’d tried escaping to Peter’s bedroom to get away from the rackus, but there was only so long he could spend curled up in a bed that wasn’t his own.  

He’d left the room and gone back upstairs, taking small, tentative steps towards the crowd in the living area he knew were so drunk, it’d be a miracle if any of them could even stand upright without falling over.  

“Brother!” Thor’s booming voice gave him away before he could even get halfway to them.

Loki sighed.  “Hello, Thor.”

Thor moved over until he was sitting on Quill’s lap so that Loki had room to sit between he and Tony.  He leaned into his lover’s arm and rested his head on Quill’s shoulder as he closed his eyes and gave a happy exhale to match his content smile.  For the first time, Loki took notice of how sincerely happy his brother was; Thor really did love Quill…

Tony’s hand attempted to pat Loki’s shoulder, but in his drunken state, he swatted - hard.   Loki flinched, but he didn’t say anything about it; he just gave Thor a broken look that Thor returned tenfold, knowing why his brother was so upset already.  

“I didn’t expect for you to join us, Loki,” Bruce said gently.  He took another swig of his bourbon before he continued. “It’s nice to see you here, though.”

Loki shrugged.  He leaned across Tony to see what Peter was doing, and he found the other boy with his nose almost glued into the screen of the handheld video game he was playing with.  He looked back to his brother. “Thor… I need a smoke…”

Despite his drunkenness, Tony still had it in him to growl, “No one smokes around my kid.  You want a joint? You go smoke on the balcony with the doors shut.”

Thor laughed.  He reached into his pocket to make sure he had everything on him before he stood up and took Loki’s hand.  “Come on, brother; let’s go have a smoke. Peter, are you joining us?”

Quill shook his head.  He swatted Thor’s ass hard as his lover stood.  “I’m fine; I’ll stay here.”

A drunken giggle escaped Thor’s lips as he turned around to plant a sloppy kiss on his boyfriend’s lips.  “Be back soon, sweetheart~”

Thor and Loki heard the whistles and catcalling follow them outside until they shut the glass doors and sat with their backs against the railings so the cool breeze battered at them in its wake.  Loki remained silent as he watched his brother roll two joints before lighting them both and passing one to Loki.

They took deep drags before Loki exhaled the smoke and murmured, “What made you try this in the first place, brother…?”

Thor hummed.  He sucked in another drag before he responded.  “I am only human, Loki. I have stress and worries as well.  It helps me clear out my mind. ...It was why… I forced you to smoke a joint for me…”

Loki blinked at the confession.  He twirled his joint around before he said, “I was fourteen, Thor…  I know I was in a bad place, but I really didn’t want to do drugs… It was why I begged you no…”

Thor flinched.  He knew Loki was right; as soon as he’d been told no, he should have backed off - but instead, he’d kept at it, pestering Loki until he’d realised they didn’t see eye-to-eye about it.  He had no longer tried to convince Loki it would be good for him; instead, he had grabbed Loki and held him in place as he shoved the lit joint into his mouth and didn’t let go until Loki had smoked all of it.  “...I just… hated seeing you like it…”

Loki shrugged.  “Oh, well… That was years ago…”

“...” Thor fidgeted before he whispered in an uncomfortable voice, “Do you… like it now , at least…?”

“Yeah, it does help me.”  Loki moved closer so he was leaning against his brother.  “I’m kind of glad you forced me.”

Thor chuckled.  He finished his joint before he reached into his pocket again and withdrew a small plastic bag with pills inside.  He said nothing until he had swallowed two of them in one go and passed the bag to Loki. “Been needing those… Peter doesn’t let me take anything.”

“Surprised he even lets you smoke.” Loki had no idea what the pills were, but he’d been given things by his brother before, usually when Thor’s judgement was failing him and he thought it was a good idea to get his brother high with him.  “He always scrunches his nose up at me when I light up.”

“He smokes with me sometimes…” Thor closed his eyes and waited for the rush to hit him.  “Usually when I feel down… He just doesn’t want me to be sad…”

Loki patted his brother’s shoulder.  They fell into a comfortable silence for a while as they enjoyed the effects of the drugs until Loki finally murmured, “We should go back in…”

Thor nodded in agreement.  He took his brother’s hand again and together they went back inside, Thor trying to swat away the stench of the smoke before Tony yelled at them for bringing it around Peter.

They hadn’t missed much, Thor realised, as they were just in time to hear about Tony’s latest sexual exploits and the person he was crushing on, while Peter next to him wore earphones he hadn’t had when they’d left.  Of course Tony didn’t want Peter hearing about this.

Thor couldn’t help but laugh.  It was hard to imagine Tony as the kind to settle down with someone as he never slept with the same person twice and Thor had never known him to pursue.  He didn’t see the harm in making fun of it. “Stark, who is this mysterious person you are crushing on? You do not do crushes, remember?”

Tony paled slightly at the question, and he barked out, “You will be the last person I tell that to!”

Quill snorted.  He touched Thor’s knee as he caught sight of his lover’s kicked puppy expression. “You’ll hurt his feelings.  He’s going to think you hate him now.”

Loki rolled his eyes. Knowing his brother, Thor probably would think that. He muttered beneath his breath as Thor clambered back into Quill’s lap to pull him into a deep kiss, “Thor should be used to people hating him…”

“Alright, smartass,” Clint snapped as he came to the defence of his friend, “how many times have you been laid?”

Loki stiffened, and his breath caught in his throat. Thor, who had been too busy nuzzling his face into Quill’s throat, didn’t even hear the question.  

“Well?” Clint demanded.  

Loki looked at his lap. It didn’t go unnoticed to Tony, and in a deadly tone, the man murmured, “Leave him, Barton…”

Tony didn’t understand how no one else was taking any notice of what was happening.  Quill and Thor looked as if they were trying to eat each other’s faces, Bruce was half asleep and ready to drop his bottle to the ground any moment now, Natasha was laughing, and Steve seemed oblivious to Loki’s discomfort as his eyes flickered between everyone, not knowing what to focus on.  

Natasha stopped laughing now as she elbowed Clint in the ribs and slurred, “He’s cute, Clint.  He’s no virgin.”

“I’m fucking serious here; now stop it!” Tony snarled.  He felt ready to rip the world apart at the agonised squeak Loki made, and he knew that if someone else didn’t intervene right now, he was going to get up and rip Clint to shreds.  He looked to Thor to try and get his help lest someone die in his living room, but both Thor and his lover were useless drunks and focused only on rocking their hips together slowly while Quill caressed Thor’s ass.  “Thor! Look at your brother!”

The only sounds Thor made were tiny moans and small, breathy noises as Quill dipped his other hand into the front of his pants to stroke him.  No fucking help - either of the bastards.

Tony elbowed Peter now.  He waited until his kid had slipped out an earphone before he muttered, “Take Loki to your room.”

Peter didn’t understand, but he knew that deadly tone Tony was using meant there was no room for argument.  He pulled the other earbud out of his ear and stood up, but he understood now why Tony had asked it of him when Clint said, “Hey, Loki, I think Rogers might be into that kind of thing if you feel like experimenting.  You’ve got a pretty mouth if you want to start there!”

While Clint and Natasha burst into laughter and Steve’s face went tomato red as he shrank into the couch, Tony didn’t find it funny at all when Loki burst into tears and clung to his brother’s arm desperately.  It was enough for the two to stop laughing and frown as they realised what they’d done, and Steve leaned forward in concern, but Tony didn’t give a shit; they’d made Loki cry, and if Tony didn’t already know Thor was going to murder them in a minute, he’d have gotten up to do it himself.  

Tony watched as Thor snapped out of whatever horny trance he had been in and pulled his brother into his arms.  Thor looked so dazed as his eyes searched around the room, looking for whatever had set his little brother off.

Under normal circumstances, Tony wouldn’t have involved himself in what had happened - but, normal circumstances didn’t call for a crying kid and a concerned brother.  “Barton and Romanov were making fun of your brother and told him to give Rogers a blowjob.”

The fury that crossed Thor’s face now as he stood up and stormed over to the two was exactly why Tony didn’t want him finding out he had the hots for his brother because he knew Thor would do a lot worse to him than he did right now in punching Clint so hard in the face, he fell off the couch.

Thor wouldn’t dare lay his hand on a woman - even if it was Natasha who could most likely hold her own even against Thor - but he still leant in close as he hissed, “My brother has been sexually abused.  Not by just one person… By many .  And if you make him remember that, we are going to have problems…”

Tony winced.  He pushed lightly at Peter’s shoulder to encourage him to leave already rather than stand and watch the events unfold.  “Go. Take him. Get him away from those assholes.”

Peter nodded.  He moved to where Quill had taken Loki into his arms and whispered, “Mr. Stark told me to take him to my room.”

“I’ll come with him; he knows and trusts me.”  Quill stood up, and though it wasn’t the easiest feat with how tall Loki was for his age, he still managed to carry the boy over to the elevator and down to Peter’s room.  

None of them said anything until Peter’s bedroom door had closed behind them and Quill had deposited Loki onto the bed.  Quill wiped at his forehead before he requested, “Can you put your TV on for him? Background noise will help him.”

The two sat with Loki, pacing around the room as he sobbed and cried until Thor had arrived and pulled him into a bone-crushing hug that didn’t relent for almost three minutes.  

“I’m sorry…” Thor finally whispered.  “I’m sorry I’m such a bad brother to you, Loki…”

“Uncle Thor, Loki can sleep in my bed; I don’t mind,” Peter whispered.  “I’ll sleep in one of the guest rooms.”

Thor shook his head.  “I want to go home…”

“You’re too drunk, babe,” Quill murmured as he threaded his fingers through his lover’s hair.  “You need to sleep.”

“But Loki…” Thor frowned.  In the morning he’d wake up and feel relief at the realisation that giving his brother those pills were probably the only reason Loki had just passed out in his arms - but then again, they were probably also the reason he had been crying so much just moments ago.  He hugged his brother tighter. “Oh, Loki… No matter what, I always fail you…”

Quill managed to pry Thor away from the bed.  He allowed Peter to tuck Loki in beneath the blankets as he walked Thor to the door.  As they searched for a guest room for the night, he muttered, “What did you give him, Thor…?  Don’t you lie to me; I know you two were out there doing something…”

Thor only shook his head and whispered, “In the morning…”


 

When Tony exited the elevator at five-oh-seven am, the last thing he had expected to hear was the amplified sounds of the busy main streets below that could only mean the balcony doors were open.

“I swear none of them know how to close a bloody door…” Tony muttered to himself as he turned the lights on and started strolling across the room to shut the doors.  

The only problem was, Tony found himself almost locking Loki out on the balcony. He hadn’t seen the boy standing outside, his back to Tony as he learnt against the railings and stared up at the sky, until he’d already closed one door and was about to shut the other.

Tony frowned. He cleared his throat to announce his presence, and when he received a slight turn of the head to show that Loki had heard, he came to join the boy.

“Can’t sleep?” Tony joined Loki in looking up at the sky, wondering what was up there that was so interesting to Loki.

“I feel sick…” Loki sighed. “I can never sleep through the nights…. I always wake up…”

“Insomnia?”

Loki nodded.  “Usually I sleep with my brother when I can’t fall back asleep, but Quill’s with him, and I know what they’ll have done before they went to sleep…”

Tony chuckled.  “Yeah, I bet. They don’t keep their hands off each other.”

“They go at it like rabbits at home…”

A comfortable silence fell between them for several seconds before Tony whispered, “Does it bother you that they do…?”

“No…  I trust Quill and my brother…” Loki’s shoulders tensed now.  “I have seen them fuck on the couch before; it’s not anything new…. I know they would never hurt me; Quill has been around a long time now, and he…. It’s the people I don’t trust that make me uncomfortable…”

“Understandable.  Your brother gave Barton a damn good flogging last night after Quill took you downstairs.  Rogers and I had to pull him away. We thought he was going to try and kill Barton at one point.”

“Hmm…”

Tony moved closer to Loki now.  He kept his attention on the sky, not knowing what to say; did Loki just want to stand here in silence?  Did he want to talk? If Loki was anything like him - which Tony knew he was - then Loki’s mind would be running rampant with thoughts that only brought him stress. “...”

“Thank you…” Loki was so quiet, Tony almost missed it.

Tony raised his eyebrow.  “For what?”

Loki ducked his head now as a slight blush crossed his face. “...For last night…. I heard you telling them to stop….  No one usually cares about what people say to me.”

“Yeah, well.” Tony’s hand clenched into a fist.  “I’m not people. I felt like wailing on Barton as well.  Would have, if I didn’t know Thor would never stop if I joined in.”

Loki wished he had a joint or two with him, but Thor would be fast asleep and most likely worn out from Quill, too exhausted to be woken so early for such a stupid thing.  He considered asking Tony for one, but while he had never seemed hesitant to share before, Loki didn’t feel like they were close enough for him to ask just yet. “...”

“They didn’t intend on hurting you.”

Loki looked back at Tony now.  He frowned. “But they…”

“They aren’t bad people, Loki. They know what it’s like to hurt - to be different .  They were drunk; they didn’t know what happened to you - and with the way your brother was being jerked off right next to you, they probably thought it would be okay to tease you.”

“Well, it wasn’t.”

“I know that. And they aren’t ever going to forget it when they wake up and ask us why Barton’s face is swollen and bruised and almost unrecognisable.  Please don’t hold it against them, Loki. They aren’t bad people; they just make mistakes.”

Loki ducked his head. He closed the distance between them so he could lean against Tony and close his eyes.  “I used to dream of having someone to hold me…. Tell me it was going to be okay…. I had Thor, but… It wasn’t the same…”

“You said you used to,” Tony observed. “You don’t anymore. What happened?”

Loki shrugged, and in the most stoic tone Tony had heard him use, he muttered, “I grew up.”

“I don’t think you have.”

Loki felt scandalised at those words; what did Tony mean by that?  Did Tony still think of him as a child? He bristled. “I beg your pardon...?”

“Loki, you’re a smart boy.  But I don’t think you’ve grown up much. You still have so much to learn, and if you gave up on wanting someone to love you, it really shows.  As much as you think you are… You are not incapable of being loved.”

Loki fell silent for several seconds. He chewed at his lip as his hands clenched and unclenched. Finally, he whispered, “Excuse me; I wish to sleep with my brother…”

Tony grabbed at Loki’s wrist to stop him. “If you’d rather not wake him and still need someone, I really don’t mind going back to bed. I was kind of awake for the same reason as you, anyway.”

Loki fixed him with a heated glare that could have burnt through anything, but Tony didn’t cower; he returned it with his own fiery look that said he wasn’t afraid of anything the boy could throw at him.

Finally, Loki broke the eye contact.  “ Just sleep. Nothing else. Sex is not oxygen for me like it is for my brother.”

Tony chuckled.  “I can respect that.”

And Tony could, to his honest surprise. A man who sought sex on a daily basis and never settled down, willing to chase after this damaged boy for as long as it took to garner his trust.

What the hell was wrong with him?

Chapter Text

When Tony’s phone rang, he was in the middle of a business proposal.  He checked the caller ID, but upon seeing Thor’s name on his screen, he cancelled the call and slipped his phone back into his pocket.  He looked around at his investors. “Sorry about that. As I was saying, Stark Industries -“

Tony cursed under his breath when his phone rang again.  His friends knew that when their call was declined, he was too busy to answer and would call them back - so why was Thor being a stubborn ass and insisting?  He clicked the end call button once more, but before he could put his phone back in his pocket, it rang yet again.

“Excuse me; this must be desperately important.” Tony made a mental note to kill Thor when he saw him next for this, but still he slipped out of his office and leant against the wall as he finally answered the call.  “You’d better have a fucking good reason for this, Point Break; if I lose my business deal, I’m blaming you.”

It was Thor’s sobbing on the other end of the line that calmed Tony down.  “S-stark… Can you please get my brother out of jail for me…? We do not have enough money to bail him out…  We will pay you back; you know we will!”

Tony’s world stopped.  It certainly wasn’t the first time Loki had been thrown in a cell, and Thor had asked for his help getting his brother back out many times - so why was now different?  Because now he actually knew and cared for the boy?  

Tony growled into the receiver of the phone.  “What’s happened this time?”

Thor’s tears came harder as he tried to explain the story. “L-Loki and I had an argument…  We had a fight, and he… He attempted to run away… I caught him on the apartment veranda before he could get away and he got very mad…”

“And?” Tony demanded.  “There’s more to this, Thor; what has he done?”

“One of the neighbours came out to see what the yelling was about, and my brother attacked her…”  Thor sobbed loudly. “Quill and I pulled him away and he attacked us next; someone called the police and they took my brother away again…”

“What the hell.” Tony didn’t hesitate in nodding, no matter how confused and conflicted he felt about this information.  “Right. I’m almost finished my meeting; give me ten minutes and then I’m getting your bro. Where are you now?”

“Hospital…” Thor sniffed back tears before he mumbled something to someone in the background.  “Quill is getting stitches in his mouth…”

“I’ll call you once I get him,” Tony promised.  “Let me finish this meeting and then I’m on it. I promise.”

And Tony was true to his word because not even half-hour later, he was marching Loki out to his car with his hand firmly on the boy’s shoulder lest the moody child try and run away.  

Neither of them spoke until they were seated and staring out of the windshield.  It was Tony who broke the silence. “You’ve been crying.”

Loki turned his head away and wiped at his eyes.  He growled, “No, I haven’t…”

“You have.” Tony’s voice was firmer than he usually used with Loki, but considering the circumstances, he wasn’t sure he could be blamed for that.  “Thor told me his version of events.”

Loki snorted, and in a mocking tone, he muttered, “ His events, hey…?  I wonder if he told you what we were fighting over in the first place…”

“He didn’t; he just asked me to come get you.”

Loki wiped at his overflowing eyes.  “He told me he doesn’t like me spending so much time with you…”

Well, Tony definitely hadn’t been expecting that one.  “What?”

“You heard me…  My stupid brother was trying to stop me from seeing you…  Said he didn’t feel comfortable allowing me to be spending so much time around a man twice my age…”

Tony’s hands gripped the steering wheel so tightly, his knuckles went white; if Thor could even think he would ever hurt this kid, then he…!  He took a deep breath. “Loki. I do not have any intention of hurting you if I can help it.  Whatever he thinks I am capable of… will not happen.  I am not going to molest you, Loki.”

Loki wiped tears from his cheek with the back of his hand before he mumbled, “Yeah, well…  I know where Thor’s coming from… He’s trusted boyfriends around me before and he blames himself…”

“He should know me better, damnit!” Tony yelled.  He thumped his fist against the steering wheel in hurt and anger.  

“It’s mostly that he hates I like someone else better than I like him,” Loki whispered.  “He’s just being an ass… I told him that, and then Quill jumped in and told me not to speak to my own brother like that.”

“I didn’t know you had fights with Quill; I thought you two got along.”

“We do, but every time I tell my brother how much I hate him, Quill yells at me for it…  He always takes Thor’s side, no matter how wrong he is…!  I hate them both !”

Tony knew Loki didn’t hate either of them and was just lashing out, so he said nothing and allowed Loki to vent.  He finally put the key in the ignition and turned it to get them away from there and to somewhere quiet. “Well, what about the neighbour?  What did she do for you to attack her?”

“She judged me,” Loki hissed.  “She looked at me with pity because she feels so sorry for poor Loki!  Stupid Loki with his anger issues who is always yelling and disturbing the neighbours because he won’t listen to big brother and go back on his medication!”

“So you tried to punch her?” Tony held no judgements; he only wanted to understand.

Loki nodded.  “She went back inside and locked her door because Thor and Quill pulled me away.  So I kept punching them both instead until the police arrived.”

Tony looked over Loki now, and for the first time he noticed a bit of bruising around Loki’s eye, but nothing so major, it suggested he had been assaulted purposely.  He reached out to ghost his fingertips against the bruising. “Did someone hit you back?”

“Quill did, but he didn’t do it on purpose; he was trying to get me off Thor and he elbowed me when I started thrashing and he slipped.  I don’t care; I cut his mouth open and broke Thor’s nose instead, so I came off better.”

Tony shook his head.  Loki was still on edge, his nerves frazzled and in desperate need of calmness.  He pulled his car into a dark, empty car lot and turned the engine off so they could sit in silence.  “Are you supposed to be on medication, Loki?”

Tony knew the answer; Thor had told them not long ago he was struggling to coax his brother back onto his antidepressants, but he needed to hear it from Loki instead.  

“Thor and Quill want me to be on it, but I hate it,” Loki hissed.  “It dulls me and makes me so sluggish, I feel like I’m a vegetable.”

Tony nodded.  “Loki… There’s only a handful - and I mean handful - of people who know that I’ve been on medication, too.  I’m trusting you here to not go spreading this around; I don’t want people knowing.  Peter’s currently medicated, too; he’s dealing with his own shit, so if anyone understands, it’s us .  I’m telling you this because I trust and care about you; medication is no solution, but it does help.  I’ll take you to a proper fucking doctor who’ll give you proper medication if you want me to, but I agree with Thor and Quill here; it should at least help clear your head a bit.”

Loki shook his head erratically, and there was a hint of fear on his face now.  “No! I hate medicine!”

“So do I, and Peter hates it, too,” Tony promised.  “But you need to find the right medication to suit you and clearly someone has been too negligent to do so.”

Loki looked to his lap.  His hands fumbled with each other as he chewed at the inside of his cheek.  His tears fell harder. “...”

“As I said, medication isn’t a solution.  I got something better than that.”

Loki looked up again.  “...”

“When you feel like absolute shit and like you just have to hit something - because believe me, Loki, I’ve been there, too; I know how it feels - call Peter.” Tony’s expression softened at the confused look on Loki’s face.  “Peter will listen to you, Loki. He’ll listen to absolutely anything you have to say and then he’ll drop whatever it is he’s doing and he’ll come and be your friend and take you to do something fun.  And if worst comes to worst, you have my number as well, and I don’t care what big brother thinks of us spending time together; you’re my friend, too, and his jealous ass can take a back row seat for once.”

Loki stared in silence.  His gaze met Tony’s, and not a word was spoken as Loki moved closer to cautiously wrap his arms around the man’s body and ghost his lips against Tony’s cheek.  

Tony made no movement so as to not startle Loki.  He felt his breathing pick up slightly in anticipation as his cock stirred, but he had control; Loki was so damaged, and he needed to be taught that not everyone was to be feared.  

Loki searched Tony’s gaze once again, but when only silence remained once more, he leant  forward just a tiny bit more until their lips brushed together briefly. He pulled away and looked to his lap again as his cheeks darkened.  

Tony held his breath as he extended his hand to cup Loki’s cheek and caress the flesh with his thumb.  He wanted so badly to pull Loki onto his lap and kiss him breathless, but if he did that, Loki would run and probably not come back.  

“Loki…” Tony licked his lips.  His breathing was heavy, and he was sure that if he were to look down, he’d find his pants tented.  He needed to control himself, but after waiting so long, it wasn’t the easiest thing he’d ever done.

But he’d waited this long, and Loki had made the first move…  

Loki made a point of staring out of his window to watch cars travel past.  His hands continued to fumble with each other as he murmured, “S-sorry…”

Tony shook his head.  In his most sincere voice, he whispered, “You have nothing to be sorry about, Loki.  That I promise you.”

It took a while, but soon, Tony saw the way Loki’s lips twitched upwards into a smile.  He let out a relieved sigh; if he was lucky, he could push things along in the coming days.  “Want some McDonald’s, kid? I’ve still got to feed Peter, so I don’t mind stopping there.”

Loki nodded.  He had taken on a shy demeanor as he whispered, “Okay…”

“Good.  I think it’s best I take you back to your brother, or else things are gonna get worse.  But I’ll talk to him; I don’t mind you hanging with me, Loki. It’s shit he has a problem with it.”

Loki nodded in agreement.  He didn’t like it, but the last thing he wanted was to cause more trouble when he was already so tired and wanting to go to bed.  “I like you, Stark…”

“I’d bloody well hope so with all the food I’ve given you over the months; I’ve gotta be worth more than just someone’s personal food trough.”

Loki laughed.  He relaxed completely now.  “I suppose you are, Stark. I still like Jarvis more than I like you, though.”

Tony chuckled.  He reached across the car to pat Loki’s knee.  “Hey. I’ll talk to your bro. Don’t worry about it.  He’s been through his own shit, too; he probably doesn’t know how to deal through it all, either.”

Loki nodded in agreement.  “Thanks for listening to me and not treating me like a stupid child.  ...Thor always treats me as a child and never listens properly…”

“I’ll talk to him about that, too,” Tony promised.

Loki’s lips twitched upwards again.  Neither of them spoke for several minutes until finally, he whispered, “Thanks…”

“Yeah,” Tony responded cooly.  “Nuggets? Burger? Milkshake?”

“I do not mind; surprise me.”

And Tony did, in more ways than one, because never before had Loki had someone who made him feel so safe and appreciated and acknowledged like Tony did.  He wondered if he would be able to talk Thor about moving in with Tony one day, but he didn’t like his chances; Thor was such a jerk, there was no way he’d allow it.  

Chapter Text

While Tony was used to hearing his elevator moving at all hours of the night and morning, it was usually he or Peter wandering around.  When he checked his wristwatch to see what time it was when he heard the elevator ascending, six-twenty-one am flashed at him, and he assumed it was Peter, being a Tuesday and all.  

Instead, the doors opened and Loki stepped inside, looking as if he was going to cry.  

Tony shrugged his hoodie from his body so he could move to Loki’s side and pull it over the thin, shaking body.  “Loki? What are you doing here? Where’s your jacket - it’s freezing !”

Loki looked like a lost puppy.  His eyes were downcast and he stared at his feet while his hands fumbled with each other in front of him.  “...I just…”

“You don’t have any classes on a Tuesday, do you, Loki?”  Tony knew Loki didn’t; he didn’t teach on Tuesdays, either.  When he received a nod in response, he knew something had to be wrong because Loki was no longer allowed to visit Tony without Thor’s supervision.  “Did something happen at home?”

When Loki’s shaking head quickly turned into a nod instead, Tony felt his stomach churn; was Thor okay…?  

Tony leant down and gripped Loki’s shoulder tightly.  “What happened, Loki? You can trust me.”

Loki closed his eyes, and in a choked tone, he whispered, “Thor and Quill are fighting again…”

Tony rubbed at his chin.  When he had first seen how upset Loki appeared to be, he’d been scared someone had done something to him - to hear that it was just a fight calmed him down because he knew there was no way it would ever turn violent between those two cinnamon rolls.  ...But if Loki was this upset over it, it probably was worse than he was thinking. “What are they fighting about?”

“Quill knows Thor’s still doing drugs...”  Loki’s head dropped once more. “Thor promised him he’d stopped because Quill was going to leave him a year ago if he didn’t…  They had a big fight over it… Quill must have woken up and found him; they woke me yelling at each other…”

Tony’s hands clenched at the information; Thor was doing more than just smoking weed, and none of them had had any idea…  Some fucking friends they were…  “You had to get away from the fighting?”

Loki nodded and wrapped his arms around himself.  “I know they would never hit each other… But I still hate it…”

Tony sighed.  “Loki, Peter’s going to be at school and I have my company to look after today.  You’re welcome to tag along if you like; just let your brother know you’re here with me so he doesn’t freak out.”

“My phone is still at home.” Loki shrugged.  “I just got my shoes before I left.”

Tony pinched the bridge of his nose; no wonder Thor worried about this kid so much…  “Alright. It’s alright; I can text him and let him know. I was just about to leave.  Have you had breakfast?”

“No.”

“I’ll stop and get you something on the way.  Come on; let me get another hoodie from my room and then let’s go downstairs.”

Loki followed behind Tony quietly until they’d reached the car.  He said nothing as he got inside and put the seatbelt on, staying silent until they’d left the metropolis and were heading through the countryside. Finally, he murmured again.  

“I think they’re going to break up…”  Loki sounded so broken, Tony was surprised; he’d never considered that maybe Loki liked Quill enough to want him to stick around.  “This is what happened the last time, too. Quill said he’d leave if Thor didn’t stop because he doesn’t like drugs, so Thor told him he wasn’t doing them anymore and kept doing it behind his back…”

Tony wanted to reassure Loki that it’d be okay; Thor and Quill loved each other - but if he were to do so, would it only hurt Loki further if Quill did end up leaving?  

"You’ve gotten used to Quill being around, haven’t you?”  When Tony received a nod in response, he understood; despite how Loki acted around Thor and Quill, he liked things the way they were and didn’t want Quill to go.  “I know where you’re coming from. But no one is permanent, kid. It hurts, but that’s just how life is. No one can change that. And honestly… It’s better you experience it now because one day, you aren’t going to have your brother anymore.  Things like this kind of soften the blow when it comes. When my parents were murdered, it destroyed me. I’d never lost anyone before, and it was so unexpected… I was in a very dark place for a long time, Loki… I’m still… sort of stuck in there…  But I’m doing much better.”

Loki sighed.  His hands fumbled with each other on his lap.  “...I used to think… I wouldn’t care if Thor died…  Sometimes I wanted him to die.  I’d even say it to his face; how much I hated him and hoped he got hit by a bus.  Sometimes I really meant what I said, and it made me happy because he always cried so much in front of me.  ...But I haven’t… really been like that for a while… Not really since I got to know you...”

“I promise you if your brother died, you would be very upset,” Tony said quietly.  “He loves you, Loki.  And I know you love him, too; it just doesn’t feel like it sometimes.  If you didn’t love him, I wouldn’t see you cling to him every time I’m around you both.  When I came around with Bruce that day and met Quill, if I hadn’t already known you and Thor, I’d have been convinced the two of you were fucking with how cuddled together you both were.”

Loki’s nose scrunched up.  “Thor’s horny enough for it…  He’d fuck a potato if he could fit his dick in it.”

Tony snorted.  “I know; he’s always in the mood.  He’s worse than I am.”

A comfortable silence fell between them again now, and it lasted up until Tony finally noticed the sound of his phone vibrating in the centre console, barely audible over the Black Sabbath pumping through the speakers.  

He reached in beside him to pull out his phone, but he was too late as whoever was calling had hung up.  His eyebrow raised as he looked at all of the missed calls he had; five from Bruce, three from Steve, and thirteen from Thor.  

“Shit.” Tony glanced at Loki as he felt the other’s eyes on him.  He licked his lips. “I forgot to give your brother a call. He’s freaking out.”

Loki shifted uncomfortably.  He hung his head. “I don’t want to go back there…”

“I know.  Let me give him a call.”  Tony raised his knee to hold the steering wheel straight as he worked on bringing up his address book and clicking on Thor’s number.  He held it to his ear as he listened to the dial tone, but it took only seconds for the call to be answered by a frantic Thor.

“Stark, where is my brother?!” Thor screamed into the phone.  His voice was thick with tears, and Tony immediately felt guilty; how could he forget to tell Thor Loki was with him?  “He isn’t here, Stark! I cannot find my brother! He’s all I’ve got! He’s all I’ve got!”

“Hey, hey, shh…  Shh…” Tony was struggling to get a word in past Thor’s rambling.  In the end, he decided fuck it; he’d just have to raise his voice and hope Thor took notice of him.  “Thor, your brother is with me. Alright. He’s fine. He’s safe .”

Thor sniffed loudly.  He took a few seconds before he murmured, “I thought he might be with you, Stark…  No one knew where he was…”

“Yes.  I’m sorry, big guy; I meant to text you but I forgot all about it.  He’s upset that you’re fighting with Quill.”

A loud sob tore itself from Thor’s throat.  “Peter left me… He said he couldn’t be with someone like me because I would only drag him down with me…”

Tony wasn’t going to lie; he was worried greatly for his friend right now.  “Is anyone with you, Thor?”

“No…  Everyone is too busy…” Thor sobbed again.  “I’m okay… I am just… I am just laying in bed…”

“Did you…?” Tony trailed off; the last thing he wanted was to spark panic in Loki and have him stressed out all day.  He cleared his throat, and Loki didn’t pry.

Thor, however, seemed to realise the unspoken question.  “I am okay… The bleeding has slowed…”

Tony grit his teeth.  “Thor, I’m going to make a call, okay?  Loki is safe with me so don’t worry about him.  I’ll look after him.”

Thor sobbed again, but he didn’t argue; he knew Loki was better off with someone else than with him right now.  “Tell my brother I love him…”

“I will,” Tony promised, because if something happened to Thor today, Tony wanted Loki knowing what had been said.  “Get some sleep, Point Break. I’ll call you again soon.”

As soon as the call had been ended, Tony went into his messages and sent out a group text to everyone in their circle; someone needs to get to Thor’s and take him to a hospital.  He’s cut his wrists.

Steve was the first to reply.   I’m going over now.  

Tony threw his phone back into the console before he looked at Loki.  “Quill left him. He’s pretty upset, but he’s going to be alright. Steve is going over there to check on him.”

Loki nodded.  He felt sorry for his brother; he knew how badly Thor needed to feel loved, and he had been with Quill for a long time now…  He felt an unusual emotion swirl in his stomach as he remembered all those years ago, before he had even met Quill, Thor gushing excitedly to him about how he had finally fallen in love and couldn’t wait to introduce them.  

“My brother deserves better than being given up on…” Loki finally muttered.  “Just because Thor needs help…”

“Wow, you just sided with your brother.  It’d make his year to hear about this one,” Tony teased.

Loki snorted.  He leaned across the car and elbowed Tony.  “Shut up, idiot.”

“I can see it now.  He’ll cry an ocean as he hugs you and sobs about how he knew all along you secretly love him.”

Loki laughed, one of his rare, tiny laughs that made Tony’s stomach flip flop.  Tony knew, as wrong as it was, he needed Loki - and perhaps, by some tiny miracle…

Loki would just happen to need him, too.  


 

 

It felt strange for Tony to be drinking alone with Loki in his tower.  He wasn’t sure if it was their age gap or Loki being Thor’s little brother or that he was just used to drinking either alone or in groups - but here they both were, drunk and high as they sat far closer on the couch than Tony would have allowed had he been sober enough to realise the proximity.

“And so…” Tony’s hands waved in the air as he continued on with his story, barely conscious of what he was even talking about the further he got into it, “...Peter says to me, Mr. Stark, my friend, Ned…”

Loki blinked as Tony trailed off now.  His eyelids were heavy and he knew he was ready to pass out any minute now, but Tony’s voice was soothing to him and he didn’t care what the other was talking about; he’d happily fall asleep listening to this man.  

Tony shook his head as if to clear his thoughts.  “And… Anyway, so Ned, the little shit, tries telling me my math is wrong or some crap.  And so I… What was I saying again?”

Loki giggled.  He moved closer so he could lean against Tony’s side.  His head rested on the man’s shoulder as he looked up to meet Tony’s gaze.  “I could stay here forever, Stark. You’re warm.”

Tony snorted.  “I’m always warm, but I’m not a damn bed, shithead.”

“You are now.” Loki curled up against the man and closed his eyes.  “If we had a blanket, I’d fall asleep here and now…”

“I’ve got something better than a blanket,” Tony murmured.  He grabbed Loki by the hips and pulled him onto his lap before he wrapped the boy up in his arms and held him tight.  They stared into each other’s eyes as he whispered, “How’s this?”

Loki licked his lips.  “...F-fine…”

Tony smiled.  He reached his hand out and used his thumb to caress Loki’s cheek.  “You’re beautiful.”

“No, I’m not…  You’re just saying that…”

“No, I mean it.  And not because I’m drunk.  I’d mean it even if I were sober but it’s because I’m drunk that I’m saying it to you.”

“Oh, really?” Loki raised his eyebrow.  “So because you’re drunk, you think you’re going to talk me into getting into bed with you?”

“Oh, no, because even when I’m drunk, I still know Thor would punch me worse than he did Barton if he found out I slept with his little bro.”

A look of hurt crossed Loki’s face now, and suddenly, he looked uncomfortable.  “You only care that Thor would hit you…?”

“Of  course not; we’re both drunk and high and not thinking right.” Tony’s thumb resumed its caressing of Loki’s cheek.  “I know people have hurt you, Loki. I don’t want to take advantage of you, but we’re both fucked up right now and I know in the morning when your head clears, you’re going to regret it if anything happened between us.”

Loki looked to his lap.  He bit at his lip. Finally, he looked up again.  “But what if I’ve thought of… Thought of you before now…?”

“Doesn’t matter; it’d still be taking advantage of you, and I’m not that kind of guy.” Tony waved his hand in the air.  “If we were a little bit drunk, fuck yeah, I’d let you talk me into it.  But we’re probably going to fall over a lot trying to go to bed tonight.  I don’t want to do anything to you you’re going to regret in the morning.”

Loki closed his eyes as he felt hands caressing his sides now.  He leant into the touches. “Stark… You’re an idiot… I can’t regret what I already wanted earlier today…”

“Hmm…” Tony’s hands slipped beneath the younger’s shirt now.  “You already wanted this…?”

“Yes.  And Thor doesn’t know - nor does he have to find out.” Loki rocked his hips forwards slightly.  

Tony groaned slightly at the action.  He took a deep breath. “Are you absolutely sure you’re okay with this?  You cried in this very spot because someone made sexual comments at you.”

“Stark, I am not a child,” Loki bristled.  “I did not like those comments coming from someone I did not know well or trust.  But I know you and I trust you.  I realise I am safe with you - my brother would never have let me be around you if I wasn’t.”

Tony’s heart sped up.  “I didn’t know you were even gay.”

“I’m not.”

Tony raised his eyebrow.  “Bi…?”

“No.”

“Shit, Lolo, you telling me you’ve been a girl this entire time?”

Again, Loki shook his head, and a mischievous smile crossed his face.  “Of course not. I just like who I like.”

It sounded pretty vague to Tony, but he wasn’t going to press; not when he had someone to push against his hips into and rock against.  “I don’t have any condoms.”

“We don’t need any; I don’t want to go all the way tonight.” Loki let out a soft moan at the friction.  “ That I will regret in the morning.  This, however, is fine for now.”

Tony nodded.  It was fair enough; if Loki wasn’t ready for sex, he wasn’t ready, and Tony would never push him.  “We need to take this to the bedroom - I don’t want Peter coming home and walking in on this.”

Loki squeaked as he was scooped up into strong arms and carried towards the elevator.  He felt so safe and comfortable in the man’s arms, he wouldn’t even care if they didn’t finish what they had started as long as he could be held like this forever.  He held no complaints that it took several minutes to reach Tony’s bedroom purely because of how content he was to be held like this.

Tony’s bed was soft and accommodated his thin body so comfortably, he considered if he could convince Tony to swap mattresses with him, but it quickly left his mind when he felt hands work at his belt and then tug his pants and underwear down.

Tony licked his lips as he looked at the erection before him; nice and long, already with a few droplets leaking for him.  He then looked back to Loki’s face and murmured, “I’m serious here; if you want me to stop, you tell me to stop and I will.”

Loki let out a breath of relief he hadn’t realised he’d been holding.  He nodded. “I trust you with this, Stark.”

With that, Tony opened his mouth and swallowed Loki whole.  Loki let out a shout as his toes curled and his hips bucked upwards, having not expected the amount of pleasure he received.  His eyes closed and his chest heaved as he tried to contain it all, but still he whimpered long and loud as he focused on the slurping sounds that seemed to echo off the walls.  

“S-stark…” Loki reached out to tangle his fingers in Tony’s hair.  He groaned. “Stark, I…”

Stark hummed.  His fingers teased circles into the soft flesh of Loki’s hips as he hallowed his cheeks to create a delicious vacuum that had Loki yelping as he became overwhelmed.  His tongue licked swirls at the base of Loki’s arousal before he pulled his mouth away so he could dip his tongue into the slit at Loki’s head next.

“Oh, god, oh, god…” It was the mantra falling from Loki’s lips that told Stark the boy was too inexperienced to be able to handle this onslaught for long.  He smirked. “S-s-stark, I…”

Tony hummed again to send the vibrations through Loki’s arousal.  He used just the slightest bit of teeth to scrape against the tender skin, earning himself a loud moan.

“C-coming…” Loki’s voice was a breathy whisper as his vision went white and he felt himself release into the hot cavern.  He whimpered until he was spent, his body loosening as his harsh pants filled the air and his eyelids became heavier than ever.  He groaned. “Stark…”

Tony chuckled.  He licked away what little semen had spilt before he pulled the boy’s pants back up to his hips and belted them.  “Go to sleep, brat. It’s okay.”

Loki was gone the second he had been reassured, and Tony couldn’t help but smile.  He climbed onto the bed and lay next to him, pulling the blankets out from under their bodies so they could curl up beneath them.  He grabbed Loki and pulled him into his arms, holding him close as he turned the lights off with his AI.

He was still so hard, but he had no desire of doing anything about it right now; Loki trusted him, and the last thing he wanted to do was betray that trust by doing things right next to his unconscious body.

No…  It could wait until morning, and if Loki was still in the mood, maybe then he could get his turn.  But for now…

Sleep sounded amazing .  

Chapter Text

Tony awoke to someone playing with his hair.  His eyes opened slowly as the night before flooded his mind.  He winced; please don’t let Loki hate him…  

“Loki…” Tony’s voice was rough, and he looked blearily at the other.  Loki was laying on his side, leaning on his elbow with his cheek in his hand to prop himself up.  “How are you…?”

Loki was smiling.  “I am good. I think that was the best sleep I’ve had in years, Stark.”

“Yeah, you don’t look so much like a vampire this morning,” Tony agreed.  He chuckled at the half-hearted punch he received in the arm before he sat up and stretched.  It was true, though. Loki was looking much more healthy than he usually did, with a bit of colour to his ghostly-pale skin and the bags under his eyes weren’t as prominent.  He usually looked sickly, almost frail to a degree, but this morning he looked almost radiant. He wasn’t up himself enough to think it was because of the amazing blowjob he’d given; Loki had slept through the night undisturbed for the first time in who knows how long.

“Stark, can we go out for breakfast?” Loki laid down and rested his head on Stark’s chest.  His fingertips ghosted circles into the man’s skin. “Thor always says one day we can eat out, but he just doesn’t have the money…”

“Sure we can,” Tony promised.  “Where do you want to eat?”

“...I don’t know…  I’ve never been out before…” Loki frowned.  “Where is good?”

“There’s a place a few blocks from here that does a bit of everything for breakfast.  It’s decent.”

Loki nodded.  “Stark…”

Tony raised his eyebrow at the sudden coyness about Loki now.  “What is it?”

Loki looked away.  He took a few moments before he whispered, “...Can we… kiss…?”

Tony didn’t respond verbally; he just reached out and ever-so-gently turned Loki’s face back towards him so he could lean forward and press their lips together.  Their kiss was a short one, and neither tongue entered the other’s mouth, but that was okay because when they pulled away, Loki’s face was flushed and his smile was shy.  

“Your brother would skin me alive if he knew what we’ve done.” Tony turned around to get out of bed.  

“I won’t tell him,” Loki promised.  “Speaking of Thor… Can I ring him?”

“Yeah.  My phone’s on the couch, I think.  He’s staying with Steve so Steve can - well, Thor took Quill pretty hard, so we don’t want him to have to face it alone.” Tony hoped he was doing the right thing here - for both Thor and Loki.  But was it right to keep from Loki the fact that his brother had cut his wrists in despair the day before?  He didn’t know. “Ah, but he asked me yesterday to tell you he said he loves you.”

Loki nodded.  “He always tells me that.”

“It’s because it’s true.”  Tony didn’t know how long it would take for him to finally assure Loki Thor did love him more than anything else in his life, but no matter if it took a week or twenty years, he would keep saying it to Loki.  “Come on; let’s get ready. I’ll get you my phone and then we’re having showers.”

“Okay.”

The two left the bedroom and headed back upstairs.  It didn’t take them long to find Tony’s phone still on the coffee table, with several missed calls and unread text messages most likely regarding Thor and Loki.  Tony didn’t look at any of them just yet; when Loki was away he would open them, but the last thing he wanted was for someone to have messaged him saying Thor had killed himself and for Loki to see it.

“Alright, here’s his number.” Tony scrolled through the contacts and clicked Thor’s name when he found it.  He held it out to the boy as the dial tone sounded. “I’m going to make a coffee. You want anything?”

“No, thank you…” Loki could be so quiet and polite when he wanted to be, Tony was learning.  He wondered if it was his true personality, or if it were simply learned behaviour from being in a stable environment away from abuse and stress.  Thor did his best - he really did! - but Tony knew Loki had never really been able to act the same way towards his brother as he did Tony, leaving much of Thor’s skills as a caretaker a lot to be desired.  

The call kept dialing until it was finally answered and Thor’s tired voice sounded.  “Hello…?”

“You’ve slept in late, brother.” Loki looked at the clock.  “It’s almost nine. You were supposed to be awake three hours ago.”

Thor sounded a tad more alert now at his brother’s voice.  “Loki… Loki, how are you?”

“I’m good.  Really, really good.”  It was true, and it seemed Thor recognised that as well as his tone brightened instantly.

“Oh, Loki, I am so happy to hear that.  Is Stark treating you well?” Loki hated how Thor suddenly didn’t care he was alone with Tony after all the crap his brother had pulled about trying to keep Loki away from Tony.  But no matter how hard his fists clenched in anger, he had to remember; Thor was probably just too tired to want an argument over anything right now.

“Mhm.  He’s going to take me to breakfast.”

“He is a great friend…” Thor let out a sigh, and Loki heard his bedsheets ruffle in the background.  “Loki, I am going back to sleep…”

Loki understood immediately his brother was in depression once again; Thor was never the kind of person to stay in bed unless he was really hurting.  He frowned. “Do you miss Quill…?”

Thor let out a sob.  His voice was choked, and Loki knew he was holding back more tears.  “Yes…”

Loki didn’t know how to respond, so he did what he was best at.  Without another word, Loki ended the call and passed the phone back to Tony.  “Thor is still pretty upset about Quill.”

“Of course he is.” Tony went back to the kitchen to check on the progress of his coffee machine, and when he found his hot mug awaiting him, he called back to Loki, “I’m getting in the shower while my coffee cools.  I won’t be long.”

Loki nodded.  He made himself comfortable on the couch as he waited for Tony to re-emerge, and when the man did, he left next to take his own shower.  As much as he usually enjoyed them, he couldn’t today; not with concern about Thor mulling through his mind.


 

How is Thor doing?  Tony looked up from his phone and looked around the cafe to make sure Loki hadn’t come back from the bathroom.  He typed the rest of his message out while Loki was still nowhere in sight. Did he get his wrists checked?

Thankfully Steve - for someone so technologically challenged to the point he struggled with operating an ATM - was always a fast texter, and his reply came within seconds.   Stephen Strange stitched them for him and Thor is still asleep.  He didn’t sleep last night.

Tony was halfway through his reply when his phone rang.  He scowled as he recognised the number on his screen, and when he answered the call, he wasn’t pleasant at all - though, to be fair, he never really was pleasant to Nick Fury at the best of times.  “What.”

“What’s wrong with you?” While Nick always spoke like he was pissed off at something, he sounded almost accusing in this moment, and Tony felt himself bristle.  

“I’m sick , as I reported when I called in this morning.  Clearly you weren’t listening very well,” Tony snarked.

“No, I mean what the hell is wrong with you.” Nick seemed to get angrier with each word until Tony hear the venom in his tone.  

Tony’s mouth opened and closed.  He almost didn’t know what to say until he finally forced out, “You’ll see on my medical certificate when I hand it in, clearly.”

“You know, it’s pretty funny.” Nick was almost hissing by this point.  “Every last one of your crew has called in sick today. And I mean every one of them.  What, did you all happen to drink out of the same glass or something?”

Tony cursed under his breath.  “...So what if we did? You got a problem with what we do in our spare time?”

“Of course not.  What I do have a problem with is staring at one of my teachers sitting in a damned cafe while they’re meant to be working!”

Tony looked out of the window he was sitting next to and found himself being waved at by the man with the eye-patch who was none other than Nick Fury himself, dean of the university Tony taught at.  He sighed; there was no point trying to deny anything right now. “Alright. I’m not sick. I’m here with someone.”

“A date!” Nick walked away from the window and towards the entry door of the cafe.  “Oh, how I’d love to meet the lucky woman.”

“It’s not a date!” Tony said quickly; if Loki showed up again and Nick noticed, he was -

“Hey, Stark, can I have a milkshake, too?”

Tony’s shoulders sagged.  Well, now he was fucked. He forced a smile onto his face as he grabbed his wallet from his pocket and passed it to Loki who was now standing behind him; if it would get the kid away long enough for him to explain to Nick…  “Knock yourself out. Get five of them if you really want.”

Loki nodded.  He left, just as Nick arrived and sat in his seat.  

Tony picked up his cutlery and cut through his egg.  “Before you say anything, I’m here with Loki - no, he isn’t at school, either, because I’m babysitting him since Thor tried to kill himself yesterday.”  It was a gross exaggeration, but if it would get Nick off his back…

Nick’s smile was deadly as he dropped his cheek into his palm.  “Stark, you can’t expect me to believe that, can you? You’ve told me three times you needed a day off to attend your parents’ funerals.  How many times can two people die, Stark?”

“No, those times were because I was hungover and couldn’t be bothered coming into work,” Tony admitted.  “I’m actually telling you the truth now.”

“Then I’ll just have to ask Loki myself -”

“- No!” Tony winced.  “ Don’t ask him; he doesn’t know.”

Nick’s expression turned stoic now, and Tony knew it was a bad sign.  “Caught in another lie, Stark?”

Tony sighed.  He pulled his phone from his pocket and showed the other the messages that had been sent back and forth between their group regarding Thor, from how Tony had asked for someone to get him to a hospital, and Tony’s messages to Steve just minutes earlier.  

Nick’s attitude changed therein.  He slid the phone across the table and muttered, “Why did none of you say anything?”

“Hey, while we’re asking questions, why are you not at university, dean ?”

Nick didn’t get a chance to explain; Loki had returned with his milkshake in hand, looking questioningly at Nick.  

“Loki, he just leaving, ” Tony almost spat.  “ Right, Fury?”

Tony knew it was only that easy to get Nick to nod and agree because the man had something planned for later to get back at Tony with.  He wasn’t scared, though; he could hold his own, and all that mattered right now was Thor and Loki.

Loki stared after Nick’s retreating back before he turned back to Tony.  His voice wavered. “What was he doing here…?”

Tony shrugged.  “I feel like someone snitched on me and he came to investigate.  Apparently it’s suspicious when more than one person calls in sick to work.”

Loki’s frown grew.  “I’m already in trouble with him.”

“Everyone is.  I’m going to get screamed at when I rock up to work next.”

Loki flinched.  He curled in on himself, and Tony found himself regretting his choice of words when the boy whispered, “Is he going to yell at me, too…?”

“No, because I’m going to lose my shit at him if he tries to,” Tony promised.  “Drink your milkshake; let’s go get some stuff done today.”

“Stuff?”

Tony nodded.  “Grocery shopping first.  You got your house key with you?”

Loki patted his jacket pocket and let out a sigh of relief when he felt it.  “Yeah, but why? Are you… taking me home…?”

“No; I’m putting food on your shelves.” Tony swirled his cup of coffee around.  “No wonder you’re so skinny; there’s hardly any food in your house.”

Loki swallowed thickly.  He ducked his head. “You don’t have to…”

“I know, but I want to.  Both of you need to eat properly.”

“Thor tries …” Loki whispered.

“I know he does, but he has a habit of blowing his money on weed.” Tony shook his head in disapproval.  “Do you know how many times I’ve told him I’ll buy you guys food so he doesn’t have to worry about that?  The idiot just says he couldn’t ask that of me. He’d rather starve than ask someone for help.”

Loki rolled his eyes.  “He’s an idiot.”

“He just needs help; his parents certainly aren’t giving it.” Tony stood up now that Loki had finished his milkshake.  “You done? You don’t want anything else?”

“I’m done.  Let’s get out of here before Fury comes back.” Tony couldn’t have agreed more, but before they could walk out of the cafe, Loki grabbed his wrist and whispered, “Would you really get angry if Fury yells at me…?”

“Yes.  I’d shout straight back at the fucker if he tried that.”

As they walked out of the cafe, Loki felt the tension in his body loosen just that tiny bit, and by the time they’d gotten to Tony’s car, he’d slipped his hand into Tony’s and almost melted at the safety the man gave him.


 

Loki had forgotten just how long it could take to put groceries away, especially when there was over four-thousand dollars’ worth of it sitting on the counters.  He worked with Tony to put it all away, hating how his stomach rumbled in anticipation as he realised now this would last he and Thor for quite a while and they weren’t going to go hungry again for a few months.  

By the time they’d put the last of the food away, Loki couldn’t help but focus on the pain in his stomach; with so much proper food he finally had access to, he realised now just how starved for a nutritious meal he was and the thought of the snacks he had survived on for so long made him feel nauseous.  

“Stark, I’m hungry.  Can we have lunch?”

“Yeah, you wanna order in?”

“I’ll cook; I haven’t had anything to cook in ages.”

“Cool.  I’m going to take a nap.” Tony laid down on the couch and pulled a cushion over his face to block out the sunlight.  “Wake me whenever.”

Loki let him sleep until he was carrying two plate of chicken parmigiana with a side serving of chips and salad into the living room.  He put the plates down on the coffee table so he had his hands free to shake Tony’s shoulder. “Stark… Stark, wake up.”

They ate in a comfortable silence until they’d finished their meals and the plates were stacked on the coffee table.  Tony laid back against the arm of the couch, resting against a small mound of cushions while Loki used his thigh as a pillow.  The man’s hand dragged lazily through long black strands as he murmured, “You’d do well as a chef. Why not consider that as a career?”

Loki shook his head.  “I like arts… Cooking is just something I do otherwise.”

Tony nodded in understanding.  “Who does the cooking? You or Thor?”

Loki snuggled in close so his face was resting against Tony’s chest.  “Usually Thor, but we rarely have stuff to cook with…”

“You know I’d help you with food if you asked me, Loki,” Tony whispered.  “Don’t go hungry because you’re too proud to ask for help - that’s what your brother does.”

“That’s because Thor is a stubborn idiot.”  Loki closed his eyes as he relaxed.

They were both at ease as they laid together, basking in the other’s warmth.  Loki was the first to break the comfortable scene. He sat up and slipped his legs off the edge of the couch so he could stand.  

“Where are you going?” Tony reached out to ghost his fingertips against his lover’s back.  

“To find my phone.”  But Loki didn’t move.  He instead looked down at his lap as his hands fumbled at the anxiety racing through his mind.  “...Stark… Are we… d-dating…?”

Tony leant back again and did his best to be as gentle as he could in this moment.  “I’d like to, but it’s your choice what we are.”

Loki flinched.  “But… Thor… Thor says you’ve never been the dating type…”

“Maybe because I never met the right person.”  Tony shrugged.

“I’m not…” Loki looked at his hands with an expression that was almost pure self-loathing.  “...I’m not… I’m so unattractive… And I’ve never dated… I wouldn’t be a good boyfriend…”

“You are beautiful, Loki, and you don’t know you would be a bad boyfriend,” Tony soothed.  “You’ve never dated; you just said so yourself. You will never know unless you give it a try.”

Loki shook his head.  “There’s a reason everyone always hates me…  Even Thor doesn’t like bringing me around his friends; he’s scared I’ll embarrass him…”

“Well, you’re around us quite often, Loki, and you’ve never done anything around us that bothered us.”

“No…  His other friends…  Stupid Sif and those other guys…  Sif is a bitch to me and I hate her - that’s why Thor doesn’t let me be around them anymore…  He thinks I was the problem with her…”

“Loki, you know what I got from all that?” Tony straightened up so he could sit on the couch beside Loki.  “You blame yourself for the way things turn out. You think everyone else blames you as well. But you just acknowledged that maybe - just maybe - you weren’t the problem with Thor’s other friends and it was someone else.  So deep down, you know it might not be you.  You’re conditioned to believe it - whether you conditioned yourself or someone else did, I don’t know.  But you know…  You might not be the problem, Loki.”  

Loki’s whisper was so frightened, Tony felt his stomach churn.  “But what if I am …?”

Tony wrapped his arm around Loki’s shoulders and pulled him close.  “If you are, I’ll be there to set you straight - and you can be sure I will because I fucking hate assholes.”

Loki shivered nervously.  He looked up into Tony’s face, searching for the slightest bit of insincerity he could find, but there was none; nothing but genuine care he could pick out.  He dipped his head again. “Thor would be a better boyfriend for you…”

“Okay.  One; I don’t want Thor.  Two; Thor isn’t you. And three… I want you.

Loki lifted his gaze shyly again.  “You… You want me ?”

“Yeah, your brother didn’t lie when he mentioned I didn’t seem like the dating type - but I had no one I wanted to chase; it meant nothing that I never saw  the same person twice. But you , Loki…  I’ve made more effort with you than I have with probably anything else in my life.”

A sniffle came from Loki now.  Tony rubbed his back until Loki got to his feet.  The boy wiped at his eyes as he whispered, “Excuse me…  I want to find my phone…”

Tony let him go.  He waited until Loki had returned, with his phone and its charger in hand.  He moved over on the couch to give Loki room to get comfortable, but he said nothing; not until Loki finally whispered to him, “But we don’t have to… have sex, do we…?  At least… not right away…”

“No, Loki,” Tony promised in a voice so confident, Loki trusted him completely.  “I told you last night; we won’t do anything you don’t want to do. I didn’t say it just because I was drunk, you know?”

Loki nodded.  He slipped himself under Tony’s arm and curled in close as he held his phone and waited for it to turn on again now that it was being charged.  “Then… I want to give it a try… Don’t tell Thor?”

“Do not tell Thor.” Tony cleared his throat at the sudden fear that had escaped into his tone, almost ashamed of himself, but when he heard Loki laugh a little, he relaxed and smiled.  “What?”

“You’re scared of my brother beating you up.”  Loki’s tears were drying up now.

“I’m not scared; I know he will,” Tony huffed.  “There’s a difference, you know?”

“Keep telling yourself that and you might get some sleep at night,” Loki teased.  

Tony chuckled.  It was true Loki had his issues and still didn’t know how to deal through them all, but the more time he spent with Loki, the more he realised; Loki wasn’t lost or alone or anything of the sort; he just had never had someone to understand him or give him the help in ways he needed.  

That was okay, though; Tony was willing to spend as much time as Loki needed to help him.

Chapter Text

Thor wasn’t coping without Quill, and it was only too apparent in his depressed, agitated ways that caused Loki so much distress, he found himself staying with Tony to try and escape it.  Tony knew what was going on with Thor. As much as he loved his friend, his hands still balled into fists when Loki cried to him and held on for dear life as he sobbed about how Thor had raised his hand to him for the first time because Loki hadn’t picked up after himself.  

Both Loki and Tony knew Thor had taken Quill leaving him devastatingly hard, but as lonely as he was right now, Loki wanted to stay away.  It made guilt settle in the pits of Loki’s stomach doing so, though; he knew that if the positions were reversed, Thor would never stay away from him, no matter how horrible Loki was being.  

...It would… have been no different to how they already co-existed, really...

Tony, who wanted nothing more than to see Thor and Loki both doing well on their own and never hurting like this, knew he had to step in.  But how did he step in?  Thor was an adult, no matter how much he wasn’t acting like one.  

Hey, Thor, I locked myself out of my place and can’t get a locksmith until morning.  Can I stay with you? It was probably a shit excuse, but after sending that text to Thor, Tony received a response back almost immediately, inviting him over.

When Tony finally got to Thor’s, he sat on the couch next to Thor while Loki sat at the desk doing his homework.  Tony hated to see the way Thor obsessively checked his phone, no doubt waiting for a text they all knew was never going to come.  He patted his friend’s arm sympathetically. “No point stressing over it, Shakespeare. You can’t control if he calls you or not.”  

“I miss him…” Thor wiped at his eyes as his tears started flowing once more.

“I know you do, buddy; everyone knows because all you do is sit here and stare at your phone when you know he isn’t going to be calling you.” Tony hated giving tough love; it reminded him too much of his father, but sometimes there was no other choice.  “Why don’t you go take a shower and find something to do?”

Thor shook his head.  “I do not want to move…”

“You haven’t moved since I’ve been here.  Come on. Get up and do something.”

Thor growled when he felt his friend grab his arm again.  He snatched it away as he snarled, “Do not touch me!”

“Oh, wow.” Tony threw his arms up in the air; Thor sure was taking this hard.  “Alright. Either you haven’t had your fix lately or you’re overtired. I’m guessing it’s a mixture of both.  You know I don’t condone you doing heavy drugs, Thor, but you’re that fucking moody lately, I think you should take a hit and get some sleep - maybe that way you’ll stop snapping at everyone who so much as looks at you.”

Already Tony regretted suggesting to Thor it was okay for him to continue taking whatever shit he was on; he was just so frustrated and worried about his friend, it had slipped out in the heat of the moment.  He didn’t want Thor doing drugs; he didn’t want to see him go spiraling down the path Tony had once travelled in his own grief, but this was taking a lot out of him already, and he wasn’t sure he could handle this on his own.

“I do not need anything, Stark,” Thor growled.  “My boyfriend dumped me because of it; I do not wish to lose anyone else from it, too!”

Tony looked at Loki and found the boy watching them with a look of fear on his face.  He sighed. “Alright, buddy. Look. I’ve always been straight with you, and I’m going to keep doing so.  But when you say you don’t want to lose anyone else? My friend, I hate to break it to you, but you’re quickly losing everyone with the way you’re acting lately.  We have a lot of patience - especially for you - but there’s only so much we can take when everything we try to do to help you just gets us abused.”

“I am not abusive!” Thor argued.  “I am hurting !”

Tony watched Loki get up and leave the room from the corner of his eye before he growled, “We know you’re hurting, Thor.  We understand you’re hurting.  We accept it.  But if you think we’re going to lay back and be your personal punching bags because you’re in drug withdrawal, fucking forget it.  Now get your ass up off your couch and into your shower; you clearly haven’t had one in days.”

“No!”

“If you don’t want a shower, get to bed and sleep ,” Tony demanded.  “It’s like arguing with a fucking child.”

“I am not a child!”

“Well, you’re acting like one!”

They were shouting at each other now, and from in Loki’s bedroom, the boy sat on his bed with his hands clasped over his ears as he sobbed and tried to block it all out.  He rocked slightly, trying not to recall the screaming that had followed him wherever he went until Thor finally took him away to live with him.

Loki would be lying if he said he wasn’t scared.  He was frightened, his body trembling as he recalled the abuse that almost always accompanied the shouting.  The punches, the kicks… Being slammed into the wall…

Loki didn’t want that happening to Tony or his brother; he wouldn’t be able to bear it if either of them hurt the other, but he couldn’t get the idea out of his head and it only grew until his heart was racing and his body dripped with sweat as anxiety consumed him.  

Suddenly, he became aware of the silence in the apartment.  He froze, deafened by the quietness that made his mouth go dry as he wondered just how long it had been like this and he hadn’t noticed.  

The fear increased tenfold now; was everyone okay…?  

He almost wanted to get up and make sure there weren’t dead bodies on the living room floor, but his legs felt too much like jelly to hold his weight, so he stayed where he was until finally, a soft knock at his bedroom door startled him.

“Come…  Come in…”

The door opened and Tony’s head peeked inside. “Are you sure you want me to come in?  I can go back to the couch if you want me to.”

Loki nodded. He moved across his mattress so he was closer to the wall, leaving space for Tony to sit with him.  Tony did, and they sat together in silence for several minutes before he murmured, “Are you okay?”

Loki nodded.  He was starting to calm down now that Tony was with him. “Where’s Thor…?”

“He’s in the shower.  He’s okay; he calmed down.  He’s just having drug withdrawals.  Do you know what else he takes apart from weed?”

“No; just what he gives me,” Loki whispered.  He didn’t comment on the way Tony hissed and clenched his hands into fists; instead, he changed the subject as best as he could manage in his current state.  “Can you roll me a joint…? It’s all in my desk drawer…”

Tony wasn’t going to argue with Loki about it; Loki needed to be able to relax; not be drilled over his brother’s drug habits and why he allowed himself to be drugged so compliantly.  Those kinds of questions could come later. He leant across Loki to open the drawers and reach inside. “Yeah, sure. Mind if I have one?”

Loki shook his head.  “Go for it…”

By the time the bedroom door had opened, Tony had just rolled two joints and put his lighter to the ends.  Thor appeared in the doorway, his hair wet and dripping against his nightshirt and looking far more exhausted than Tony could remember seeing him.  

“Loki, I am - Stark, what are you doing in my brother’s bedroom…?” Tension immediately appeared in Thor’s body language.  There was a strange look on his face, one that made it appear he was deeply conflicted by some inner emotion Tony couldn’t decipher.

“It’s alright, brother,” Loki said softly. “He’s talking to me about my assignment.  I’ll call for you if I need you. Okay?”

Thor relaxed again now. He nodded.  “Loki, I am going to sleep. I love you.”

Loki hummed in acknowledgement, but he didn’t respond. He waited until they heard Thor’s bedroom door close, too, before Loki whispered, “Stay with me tonight…?”

“Of course. Let me go back to the couch and wait until he’s asleep.”

Loki nodded in agreement; the last thing they needed was to be caught out - especially now, while Thor was already in a bad way.


Loki was already awake when he heard his bedroom door creak open. He smiled and lifted his head from his pillow where he’d been staring out of the window and up into the sky.

“Stark…” Loki rolled onto his back as he heard footsteps padding quietly across his room. He felt the edge of his bed dip and then strong arms wrapped around him and pulled him against the warm body he knew so well as Tony’s.  “I was getting worried you’d fallen asleep.”

“Of course not.  Come here…” Tony pulled Loki in close for a kiss, their tongues dancing together in a slow, gentle rhythm that had taken them weeks to advance to.  

Loki moaned softly as he felt a warm hand slip beneath his pyjama shirt and caress his stomach. His eyes closed, and he let out a pleased sigh.

Tony pulled Loki onto his lap and held him close as he learnt down to press his mouth to Loki’s neck. He sucked and nibbled, but never did he try to leave any marks behind; they weren’t dumb teenagers - save for Loki, but he wasn’t stupid by any means - and neither of them saw any appeal in bruising such beautiful skin with ugly marks.

Loki’s shirt was the first thing to come off, and it was discarded carelessly on the floor by the bed. Loki allowed himself to be laid down onto his back again with his lover crawling on top of him.

“Stark…” Loki let out another peaceful sigh as he felt the weight of Tony lay on top of him.  He closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation of his lover rocking his hips against Loki’s slowly as he kissed down the boy’s throat and to his chest.

Tony moaned softly as he felt arms come to entangle around his neck and hold him close. They’d been working on this for a while now, and Tony was glad they were making progress; he usually would have been pushed off by now, Loki usually unable to remain pinned by such solid weight for so long.

Loki tugged at Tony’s shirt, and there was no hesitation in removing it for either party. Next, his trembling fingers slowly unbuttoned Tony’s jeans, another first for the night, and Tony wasn’t going to make him feel obligated for any more than he had already given.

Tony grabbed the hem of his pants and pushed them down to his knees so he could kick them off. He leant down to kiss Loki deeply as he rubbed their hips together again.  

“Stark…” Loki’s groan was deep.

“Shh…” Tony rubbed his thumb against Loki’s cheek. “Don’t wake Thor.”

With that said, Tony rolled them over so he was on his back and Loki was straddling him. With his hands on the boy’s hips, he asked, “This okay?”

Loki nodded. He pushed his sleeping pants down to be rid of them, and once he was free, he moved himself closer to Tony’s arousal until both their cocks were pressed against each other.

Tony’s eyes closed in pleasure. “You’re not obligated to give me anything, Loki.  Remember that.”

“Obligated?  No…” Loki reached out until his fingers were curled around both of them. “Wanting to?  Yes.”

It was a night of many firsts, it seemed, but Tony wasn’t complaining because how could he when he had Loki’s hips rocking against his own and the boy’s heavy panting above him?

“Oh, fuck…” Tony groaned.  “Loki…”

“Please, don’t…” Loki squeezed his eyes shut tighter. His expression turned uncomfortable for a few seconds before it went back to being pleasured.  

Tony kept quiet as best he could after that; Loki was slowly working through his problems and that was the important thing. He grunted as he felt the pressure building, and he was sure Loki was much the same.

Before they could come, however, the bedroom door was thrown open and the light had been switched on.  They came face-to-face with Thor, and neither of them had ever seen him look so angry before.

“Tony Stark…” Despite the way his expression was twisted with fury, Thor spoke with such calmness, Tony knew this was the calm before the storm.  “Are you taking advantage of my brother…?”

Tony looked at Loki for help, but Loki was pointedly looking away from the two of them as his hands fumbled together with so much anxiety, Tony knew he was in this alone. “I wasn’t taking advantage of anyone, thanks; this was consensual.”

Thor took a few steps into the room. “The last time I found my brother in bed with someone, Tony Stark…. They were strangling him as they raped him.  Do you have any idea how that kind of thing stays with you? Having to pull your own boyfriend off your little brother before he succeeded in killing him?  Having to console him and knowing it was your fault because you trusted them with him?”

“Shit…” Tony had to get out of here now before Thor completely lost the plot.  Thor was usually so gentle, but this wasn’t the Thor they all knew.  This was some sort of drug-withdrawling imposter, and if Tony wasn’t careful, there was no telling what Thor was liable to do right now.

“It happened in that very same bed…” Thor was close enough now to pull the blankets back and point at the bed sheets over the mattress.  Tony couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but who knew what he was supposed to be seeing. “I never could get all of the blood out of the mattress, no matter how hard I tried…”

“Alright, pal, I get it damaged you as well, but what we were doing is nothing like that!  We know what we want and we want each other.” Tony saw the darkness on Thor’s face increase.

Thor was hissing now. “Loki is too young to know what he wants, Stark.  It appears I never learnt my lesson from last time. Once again I have failed my brother.  Tony Stark…. I trusted you. I thought if there was just one person I could trust with my brother, it would be you.”

“Thor, fucking listen to me!” Tony snarled. “If you trusted me with Loki, you would never have tried to keep him  from me and then beg for my help after it was me you two had been fighting over.  You’re not in your right mind!”

The fist came so quickly, Tony had no time to dodge it.  It connected with his cheekbone, and if he didn’t have the desk to fall onto next to the bed, he would have hit the floor hard.  His head spun from the assault, and he wouldn’t have even noticed the next punch coming had Loki not moved between him and the fist and took it squarely in his face.

Loki’s cry was horrible, but it was enough to stun the room into staying still.  Tony was the first to come to his senses. “I’d better get going…”

Thor glared furiously as he watched Tony slink off the bed to gather his clothing. He sunk onto the mattress next to his brother and gathered him in his arms, shushing him softly as he rocked the boy and whispered apologies through his tears.

Tony had never left so fast before, and by the time he was sitting in his car, he, too, had tears rolling down his cheeks.

Chapter Text

“What did you do, Tony…?”

Tony sighed at Steve’s voice.  He almost thought nothing of his friend’s appearance, but that was until he heard a group of footsteps leaving his elevator.  His friends were here to interrogate him, and he was only going to get pissed off; he could already tell.

Tony turned back to his guest, his voice hardened slightly, albeit unintentionally.  “Rhodey, you gonna stay for this one, buddy?”

James Rhodes nodded and tightened his grip on his wineglass; from what Tony had just been telling him, this could potentially go very badly.  “I’m still here, aren’t I?”

Tony was grateful for the support of his best friend, even if they hadn’t seen each other in a long while; Rhodey’s presence alone would make this easier to deal with as they’d just been talking about what had happened with Thor and Loki.  He looked back at the group still making their way across to them, and nothing was said until they’d all taken their seats. It didn’t make Tony and more pleased to see that the only ones who didn’t look ready to commit murder were Steve and Clint; he could only imagine the shit Thor had spewed to them about this...  

“Well, you all come here to gloat?” Tony couldn’t help but snap.  

“Thor told us, Tony…” Steve murmured.

“I knew the fucker would…” Tony muttered under his breath.  “Whatever he told you couldn’t be further from the truth, guys; I didn’t rape him!”

Tony finally realised what emotion was in Clint’s expression now as Clint burst into laughter and didn’t stop until Natasha slapped him across the back of his head.  He seemed oblivious to the looks of annoyance and horror his friends shot him; it was as if he didn’t see anything wrong with finding the circumstances amusing.

Clint pouted as he rubbed his head.  “What? He’s been sleeping with Thor’s little brother - doesn’t anyone else find it hilarious?”

The entire room shook their heads at Clint, and he quickly stopped laughing.  Bruce’s voice was so soft, he almost couldn’t be heard.

“If anyone else hears about that, Tony will be in a lot of trouble…” Bruce explained.  “It’s nothing to laugh about…”

“What did Thor say to you guys?” Tony poured himself another drink, not sure he could remain tipsy and still hear this.  “I’ve tried talking to Thor, but he’s blocked my number on his phone and I know if I go over there, he’s going to take it out on Loki.  That’s the last thing I want; Loki doesn’t deserve the stress it’s going to cause him if another fight breaks out in his home.”

“He sent us all texts, saying he and Loki are dropping out of school and want nothing more to do with you because of what you had been doing to Loki behind his back,” Natasha said gently.  “That’s why we all figured… Something happened between the three of you.”

Tony felt like throwing his glass against the wall.  “I didn’t rape him!  Okay! I didn’t !”

“We know that,” Sam pointed out.  “We know you would never do something like that.”

“Then why are you here ?  To feed into Thor’s bullshit?”

“Thor is going off the deep end,” Natasha whispered.  “He’s cut his entire body up, Tony… We think he might kill himself…”

“Loki showed us his texts from you.” It was Steve again now, and Tony had never heard him sound so sad before.  “ We saw you two cared about each other.  But Thor …”

“When he found us that night…” Tony’s hands clenched.  “He was on nasty drug withdrawals. He said he didn’t want to do it anymore since he’d lost Quill from it.  He wasn’t… He wasn’t himself…”

“Tony, we can’t get him off the stuff.” Bruce looked like he was ready to cry.  “We don’t know what he’s taking but we tried getting him off it and instead he locked himself in his room and overdosed…  We had to get him to a hospital, Tony! We tried getting Loki away from it but Thor won’t let him leave - said he’s scared his brother will get hurt again.”

“He needs Quill back…” Tony mused quietly.  “What about Loki?”

The room fell quiet now, as if no one knew what to say.  Finally, Sam spoke up. “When we got there… The poor kid’s arms were covered in self-harm…”

Tony looked to Rhodey, having no idea what he was supposed to do.  He looked back to the group. “We’ve got to get Loki away from his brother…  You can’t leave him there while Thor is like that; I’ve seen how Thor has been acting.  Loki’s been texting me. You cannot leave him there with Thor , damnit!”

“What are we supposed to do?  Kidnap him? Thor would have us arrested without hesitation,” Steve said bitterly.  “You’re lucky he only told us you raped his brother.”

“He only did that because he thought you lot would turn on me…” Tony sighed.  “If you see Loki again, tell him to call Quill. I think Quill will listen to Loki.”

Natasha shook her head.  “Honestly, Tony, with the way Thor was acting today, I think even Quill won’t save him.”

“He’s the last bit of hope we have left without dragging him to a psychiatric ward and having him admitted,” Tony growled.  

They all knew Tony was right - but the problem was, by this point, could anything save Thor?  They hoped it hadn’t gotten that far - for Loki’s sake, anyway.  


 

Tony hated teaching these days.  He couldn’t help but remain on edge that any second now, he was going to find that Thor’s rumours had spread and he wouldn’t be able to escape the accusations - but thankfully, it seemed no one else had heard about them as everyone still treated him the same.  

It was when he was packing up his stuff after class did Bruce come to find him, with a glimmer of hope in his eyes that Tony hoped meant they had come up with a plan.  

“Tony, we’ve worked something out,” Bruce explained.  He kept his voice low as students were still leaving the class slowly.  “Steve and I were at Thor’s last night. Thor was passed out on the couch; we got Loki to call Quill.”

Tony’s heart leapt.  “How did it go?”

“You were right; he listened to Loki.  He listened to everything Loki said. He was so nice to him, Tony…!  Quill’s on his way back; he should be here tomorrow afternoon.  But we know what to do with Loki, too.”

Tony’s breath held in his throat.  “Yeah…?”

“If Loki goes missing, Thor would assume one of us took him away, right?” Bruce continued when he received a nod in response.  “Right. So we thought… that if we explained it to Stephen, he’d help us work out what to do. And Stephen agreed to let Loki stay with him for a while until we can sort Thor out - that way if Thor goes mad, none of us will really be in the crossfire because Loki isn’t with us , you see?”

Tony winced.  “You’re putting the wizard at risk, though.”

“But Thor wouldn’t assume to look there at all; he doesn’t know that he’s part of our group by proxy.”

Tony nodded in understanding.  “Got it. When are you getting Loki out of there?  The sooner, the better.”

“He’s going to text Steve when Thor passes out again; we’ll go get him then.”

It was a solid plan, Tony knew, but still…  He couldn’t help but fear for everyone’s safety in this.  Thor was usually nothing more than a golden retriever, happy beyond belief to see his friends, but at the same time, he could be a reckless storm that shouldn’t be tackled.  

Tony wrapped his arm around Bruce’s shoulders and pulled him in close.  “Come drinking with me tonight? Drinks at mine; Peter’s going to be home.”

“Sure.” Bruce never had been able to fault Tony as a parental figure to Peter.  Tony was a lot of things, but he truly did love Peter and only ever did what was best for him.

Sometimes Bruce wished his father had been more like Tony because maybe then, he wouldn’t be carrying around so many scars to this day.  


“So this plan of yours…” Tony hiccupped as his world swayed.  “...Is it taking place before or after Quill gets his ass there?  I’m just sayin’... It’ll look suspicious if Loki goes missing and then Quill randomly shows up on his doorstep an hour later.”

“We know,” Bruce said softly.  “We’re going to get him after Quill gets there.  I’ve never seen someone so nice to Loki, though, Tony.  He was so patient with him…”

“You saying I’m not nice to him?” Tony huffed.  He glanced at his side to make sure Peter still had his headphones in and was focused on his laptop before he muttered, “That kid trusted me, you know?”

“He still does.” Bruce looked down at his drink in contemplation.  “Like I said earlier; he showed us your text messages. I didn’t know the great playboy, Tony Stark, had a heart.  We saw you say more nice things to him in ten minutes of text than we’ve heard you say to everyone else in all the years we’ve known you for.”

Tony shrugged.  “He’s a good kid.  Misunderstood. Even by his own brother.”

Bruce nodded in agreement.  “...”

“You know, I actually got him to send nudes.”

Bruce choked on his drink in shock.  “ What .”

“He sent me nudes, so I taught him how to sext.  Didn’t you see that bit?” Tony was talking like it was nothing at all.

“No!  We stopped reading when we saw a video of your…  of you !” Bruce’s face was like a tomato now.  

Tony laughed.  “You could have watched it; I don’t mind as long as Loki doesn’t.”

There was no way for Bruce to get any redder than he already was as he looked away and whispered, “No thanks…”

Tony chuckled.  “You want pizza?  I’ll order in.”

Food did sound appealing right about now, Bruce had to agree. He accepted the phone that was handed to him so he could make the call, and as he ordered, he watched Tony help Peter with his homework.

“Mr. Stark, I don’t understand this.” Peter had dropped his headphones beside him, his music still audible through them, and pointed to his laptop screen.  

Tony took the laptop to read the question, and with all the disposition of a loving, supportive parent, he explained it to his kid and then stayed on hand as Peter formulated his own answer.  

Bruce ended the phone call right as Tony elbowed him roughly in the ribs and praised, “Did you hear that, Banner?  He came up with the answer all on his own. That’s my kid!”

Bruce gave a shy smile at the pride on Peter’s face now.  Peter looked ready to burst with joy, and Bruce felt his heart swell; Peter truly had no idea how lucky he was to have someone who loved him so much.  

Chapter Text

When Tony stopped his car in the underground car park belonging to Stephen Strange’s penthouse apartment, he wasn’t surprised to see Bruce’s car there as well.  He got out and locked his car before he hurried to the elevator and hit the button that would take him to Stephen’s level.

Thoughts run rampant in his mind during the elevator ride.  He’d received the coded message from Steve; a simple request to help Clint move furniture around they’d come up with for when Loki was ready to get away.  They had no choice but to cover their tracks with this; there was no telling how Thor would take his brother’s disappearance, and if they weren’t careful, they’d be the ones the blame fell on.

The elevator finally dinged, and as he stood outside Stephen’s door, Tony was hesitant to press the buzzer; this was a lot harder to face than he had initially thought it would be.  

Eventually, he buzzed himself in, and once he was standing out on the open floor that was Stephen Strange’s home, he felt his stomach churn in anxiety.  He could hear Stephen and Bruce talking from further into the apartment, so he forced his feet to move until he was standing by the couch, watching them both clean out Loki’s wounds and glue the deep cuts back together.  

“Loki…” Tony fell to his knees as he reached out to take his lover’s hand.  His frown was deep. “Loki, how are you feeling…?”

Loki nodded.  He squeezed Tony’s hand, but he still couldn’t make eye contact.  “Better, now that I’m away from Thor…”

Nobody said anything about that comment; none of them really knew what to say about it.  Tony also remained silent about the way Stephen’s hands shook so violently as he stitched a particularly deep gash in Loki’s thigh; it was the nerve damage, and though Stephen could no longer keep his hands steady for open brain surgery, he was still managing to stitch the wounds as long as he worked slowly and carefully.  

Once they’d finished, Bruce pulled the disinfect away and cleaned up the dirtied cotton balls they’d been using.  “You’ll be okay now, Loki. Let us know if you feel sick; you might have an infection.”

Loki nodded.  He slipped his shirt and his pants back on and moved so that he was leaning against Tony’s side.  “I’m okay… Thanks…”

“I’ll get you something to eat.” Stephen didn’t wait to hear Loki’s response; he disappeared into the kitchen, and with the lack of walls in the apartment, they heard him chopping something up slowly.  

“What happened with Quill and Thor…?” Tony whispered.  He pressed a kiss against Loki’s forehead as he waited for the other to reply.  

“Thor cried… A lot…” Loki looked away to watch the sunset that ever-so-slowly bathed the apartment in a stunning gold.  “Then he yelled… Cried some more… Then he locked himself in his room and passed out…”

Tony nodded.  He brushed his hands through Loki’s hair, not surprised to feel how oily it had become; he wouldn’t have been leaving his bedroom, either, with the way Thor had been acting lately.  “It’s okay. You’re safe here. This wizard is a good person.”

Loki knew Tony was right.  Stephen was a bit out there, but he had a good heart and if he didn’t care, he would never had agreed to help them right away.  “He is…”

Tony sat on the couch and pulled Loki onto his lap.  He buried his face in the boy’s hair as he sighed. “Are you feeling well enough for a shower soon?”

“Maybe later; I don’t feel much like doing anything…” Loki rested his head on Tony’s shoulder and continued staring out at the sunset.  “This is beautiful…”

“It is,” Tony agreed.  “The windows are positioned perfectly for sunsets; everything is so golden right now.”

Stephen returned, and in his hands was a platter quaking and the glasses and plates rocking violently on top.  Tony jumped to his feet at this; the wizard was too damn arrogant to ask for any sort of help, and it was amazing he had gotten this far without dropping everything to the ground.

“Don’t spill it.  Here.” Tony didn’t miss how Stephen looked almost relieved to have the platter taken from him.  “Where’s Banner gone?”

“Cleaning up.” Stephen sat next to Loki and gestured to the platter.  “Help yourselves. There is tea, coffee and sugar cubes.”

Tony watched as Loki poured himself a cup of tea and then went straight for the fruit and biscuits sitting on the side.  He was glad Loki had somewhat of an appetite; if all went well tonight, the boy might even be able to get a good night’s sleep.  

Bruce returned, and after taking a seat on the couch with them, helped himself to the platter.  He took notice of the paper laying rejectedly on the coffee table, Stephen’s name scribbled out countless times in chicken scratch that looked almost like it was by a toddler.  He looked to Stephen, but he didn’t speak.

“I cannot write anymore.” Stephen understood the unspoken question.  He raised his shaking hands. “I have to use a computer for everything now - even for grading student work.  My hands… are utterly useless.”

Loki shook his head.  He reached out to touch Stephen’s elbow as he whispered, “ You’re not useless…”

Stephen gave a fond smile to Loki.  “I’m glad Tony was able to get you away from your brother.  If I had seen what was going on between you two, I would never have allowed him to escape unscathed for treating you so terribly.”

Loki shook his head.  He looked at his lap. “My brother… is in a lot of pain…”

“Yeah, but it’s no excuse for treating you the way he has been!” Stephen argued.  “It makes me so angry to think about it. You must have been so scared being alone with him.”

Loki licked his lips, and then, he gave such a tiny whisper, Tony knew he was terrified just thinking about it.  “...I… I was …”

Stephen’s hands clenched.  He took a few deep breaths before he murmured, “Never mind.  You’re safe here now, at least.”

Silence fell over them, but it was comfortable.  The group bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun until it was nightfall and Stephen had gotten up to turn the lights on for them.  He moved stiffly now, as if his body wasn’t cooperating with him as well as it was supposed to - it probably wasn’t after the damage he received in the car crash; something Bruce and Tony could both understand themselves.  

“I’m going to shower,” he called over his shoulder.  “Feel free to make yourselves at home.”

Loki visibly relaxed now that Stephen was gone.  He curled up into Tony’s arms and let his eyes slip closed.  “I’m glad to be away from Thor…”

Bruce moved closer to put his hand on Loki’s knee.  “He hasn’t been hitting you, has he, Loki?”

“He has been…” Loki’s eyes welled with tears.  “He just… He keeps screaming at me for everything, too…  I’m scared to be anywhere near him…”

“Loki…” Bruce rubbed Loki’s knee soothingly, not quite sure what to say.  He sighed, deciding the truth was the best thing right now. “Your brother is on hard drugs; whatever he’s been doing since Peter left him isn’t a reflection on you or your brother.  Thor is hurting, and the drugs are amplifying that - and the sad thing is, he probably doesn’t even realise.”

“I know…” Loki whispered.  “I don’t want to be back there until he’s all better…  He could have dragged me down with him…”

“He gave you drugs, too, didn’t he?” Bruce was so gentle, Loki felt safe enough to nod.  “He should never have done that to you, Loki…”

“He could have easily…” Loki shuddered, “...easily messed up my life as well as his…”

“He could have,” Bruce agreed.  

Loki looked to his lap.  “Is anyone going to get in trouble for this…?  Thor flipped out the other night when Steve asked if I could stay with him for a while…”

“No, Loki, that’s why you’re here with Stephen and not any of us,” Bruce soothed.  “As soon as Thor notices you’re gone, he’s going to ring all of us looking for you, but no one is going to be answering their phones because we’re all at Clint’s helping him move furniture.  Thor would never consider you would be here with Stephen and there’s no evidence that any of us were involved with you leaving the house.”

Loki nodded.  “I’m really tired…”

“You would be,” Tony whispered.  “When Gandalf is finished with his shower, go have your own and jump into bed.”

“Okay…”

Everything was comfortable between them as Loki rested his eyes and Bruce and Tony finished off what was left on the platter.  They’d turned the TV on and were watching the news when Stephen returned, dressed in warm pyjamas and looking a little more relaxed than he had been when he’d left.  

“Feeling better, doc?” Tony asked.  

“Much better; just some aches and pains,” Stephen murmured.  

“Can Loki have a shower, too?” Bruce asked.  

Stephen nodded.  He pointed in the direction he had come from.  “There is a luxury shower in my personal bathroom.  Otherwise the normal shower is off to your right. I will get you some garbage bags to keep your glue and stitching dry.  Are you comfortable with me helping you bathe?”

Tony watched Loki and Stephen disappear further into the penthouse together, and he couldn’t help but mutter to Bruce, “If having a Nepal experience chilled him out that much, maybe I should book tickets there myself.”

“I’m not even sure he went to Nepal,” Bruce whispered.  “I’ve heard he just thinks he does - the head injury and all…  Kamar-Taj isn’t even a real place, I’m certain.”

“At least he isn’t an arrogant bastard anymore.” Tony stretched lazily.  “I like him better this way.”

“His heart was always in the right place.” Bruce got to his feet.  “He just needed something to knock his ego over. As sad as it is, it’s probably better for him like this.”

Tony stood as well.  “I’m going to say bye to Loki and then we probably should rock up to Clint’s, just for caution.”

Bruce couldn’t have agreed more.  Any minute now Thor was going to notice his brother was missing - and what a storm that was going to be…

Chapter Text

Loki hated being all but cut off from Tony.   As they had thought he would, Thor had involved the police and taken it upon himself to stake out his friends’ houses in search of his brother.  They were fearful of what Thor would do if he were to get his hands on Loki again in his frenzied state, so Stephen’s apartment had been avoided like the plague and Loki had kept his phone out of charge.  It was one of the worst things Loki had ever gone through, feeling isolated and alone, but at the same time, Stephen kept him company.

“Tony asked for me to give you this.”

Loki looked over to the entrance hall when he heard the front door close quietly behind Stephen.  He sat up from where he’d been laying on the couch, watching the TV, and observed Stephen curiously as the man approached him.  He couldn’t see anything out of place on his host’s body, so he could only wonder what Stephen was talking about. “What is it?”

Stephen waited until he was standing by the couch before he dropped his bag to the ground and leant down so he could rummage around inside it.  “There’s another one here, too - for when you can go back to your brother. Tony got one for you both.”

Loki held his breath as Stephen’s hands resurfaced with two boxes.  His eyes zoomed in on the art work, and he couldn’t believe what he was staring at.  “No way…”

“This one is for you.  He knows you like black.” In Stephen’s hands were two boxes for none other than the new iPhones that had just came out.  “They are both in his name so you can text Tony whenever you like and it can’t be traced back to you. He wants you to keep this one for Thor to give to him for when he’s better.”

Loki felt tears well up in his eyes.  He gingerly accepted the boxes, not knowing what to say.  “But he still has a flip phone… Why would he…?”

“Because he cares very much about you and Thor,” Stephen said softly.  “Everyone’s numbers are already saved into it, but he said not to text your brother just yet in case he gets it traced back here.  My number is in there as well in case you need anything and I’m not home.”

Loki sat in a stunned silence.  He was vaguely aware of Stephen sitting next to him and digging through his bag again, this time to pull out the painkillers he always took as soon as he got home and could finally rest his aching body.  He kept staring at the two boxes, almost hesitant to open the black one; how could they be for…? There was no way these were for him and his brother…  Nobody would spend that much on either of them…  

Except Tony would.  

“Excuse me a moment,” Stephen murmured as his phone started ringing.  

Loki barely even noticed the man taking the call because he had by now opened the box to his new iPhone and was pulling it out to admire it.  There was a screen protector and a case on it already, but it appeared to have been switched off - probably to save battery power on it if Tony had already turned it on to set up.  He booted it up.

“Loki?”

Loki looked at Stephen as his name was called.  He hummed.

Stephen still had his phone at his ear, but he looked directly at Loki as he murmured, “Tony asked me to tell you that Quill called earlier.  Quill is getting Thor help.”

Loki’s mouth opened and closed as he looked to his lap.  He felt almost numb to the information, as if he couldn’t quite trust what was being said to him.  For so long he’d known Thor had needed help, maybe more so than he himself needed it.

So to finally hear that his brother might finally get better...

“Quill has explained to him where you are and why; he’s going to withdraw his missing persons report,” Stephen continued.  “He knows now you left because of him and he is very remorseful.”

Loki nodded, but still he didn’t feel anything.  “...”

Stephen turned away from Loki and continued his phone call.  Loki’s mind was all over the place as he tapped away at his new phone to set it up properly.  It was true he had missed his brother, but it was easier to hate Thor than to admit it to himself.  He’d supposed he’d felt that way most of his life and it was why things had gotten so bad between them.  They used to be close when they were younger. Very close.  But Thor had his own issues that Loki felt had ruined their relationship, and in an attempt at pretending it didn’t hurt so much to lose his world, he’d pretended to resent Thor and everything about him.  

Somewhere along the way, he’d come to believe his own lies.

“Strange.” Loki looked up from his phone to see the man in the middle of ending the call.  

Stephen’s eyerow rose.  “Yes?”

“I want to go back to Stark’s tonight.”

Stephen nodded.  “You may, but I’ll accompany you.  It’s dark; I don’t want you wandering all over New York on your own.  May I rest for a while first?”

Loki opened his mouth, his old temperamental self about to make an appearance as he spat and screamed about how he wasn’t a child; he could fucking get himself around on public transport - but then he saw the grimace of pain on Stephen’s face and he remembered; being that bitter, spiteful person had never worked out for him.  

Loki closed his eyes and nodded.  He watched Stephen lay down on the couch, his grimace deepening as a whimper of pain escaped his lips.  Loki stood. “Do you want your blanket, Strange?”

“Please…  And some tea would be nice…” One of the worst things Stephen could have ever imagined for himself once upon a time was asking for help - but these days, he had no choice but to step back and drop his ego for just five minutes.  “...And my heat pack…”

Loki did everything as requested without complaint.  He tucked Stephen in tight beneath his blanket and warmed his heat pack while the kettle boiled, and soon enough, they were sitting together on the couch with the TV playing softly in the background, some reality show playing in the background that neither of them were interested in anyway.  

“Are you feeling better…?” Loki finally turned his attention back to his host.  

Stephen nodded.  “Yes, I am. Thank you.”

Loki put his own cup of tea down on the coffee table and moved closer to the man.  “You would be better off finding a job that doesn’t cause you so much pain every day.  A desk job or something would suit you better - something you aren’t standing so much while doing.”

Stephen’s nose crinkled.  “I would rather stick to doing something good for others.”

“Even though it hurts you so much?” Loki’s eyebrows crinkled.  “I don’t understand. Why would you put yourself through that so often?”

“Because, Loki…” Stephen stared into Loki’s eyes, and his tone became firm, “...it took all this pain for me to realise my priorities were only ever about myself.  Yes, being a neurosurgeon helped other people, but the life I cared most about was my own. It took me losing everything to realise that I was selfish and arrogant, and no better than anyone else.”

“But you…”

Stephen shook his head.  “I was like you once. Not long ago at all, really.  I had my own agenda for doing things, and while I did want to help other people in doing so, my biggest concern was really how it would make me look good in front of others.”

Loki bit his lip.  He knew what Stephen was getting at; he was trying to tell Loki that he wasn’t the only person with some major flaws.  “...”

“Then someone told me…” A pondering expression crossed Stephen’s face as he clenched and unclenched his hand to watch how terribly his fingers trembled.  “...They told me that I held myself back from everything I could have been because of that arrogance and a fear of failing at whatever I did.”

“You were afraid to fail…?” Loki moved closer now.  He could understand that; Loki feared the same thing, and it was enough to keep him from really ever trying at anything in the first place.  

Stephen nodded.  “I was. It was why I became so good at my work - because I wouldn’t let myself fail at it.  And then… I lost my hands… I was failing.  My old life was gone ...  But someone told me…  It wasn’t about me.  Right when I was losing all hope… They opened my eyes to the fact that I could be so much more.  And that fear of failure I had? Well, I failed over and over and over and over again just to get to where I am today.  And even if I have to keep failing for the rest of my life, I will do so for the sake of others.”

Loki looked to his lap.  His whisper was nervous. “Why did you tell me all that…?  You never… talk to anyone about that stuff…”

“Because, like I said, I was like you, Loki.”  A gentle expression crossed Stephen’s face. “I’d hate to see you end up the way I used to be.  You have so much potential, yet I’ve rarely seen you use it. Your school work reflected all that intelligence in you…  But then I spend some time with you and I realise… You could be amazing, but you’re almost too scared to try. You’re even afraid of committing too seriously to your boyfriend because of a lack of self-worth.”

“...I…”

Stephen shook his head.  “You are worth it, Loki.  I’ve seen it in you.  Whatever shit you’ve been through in your life, stop letting it hold you down.  You’re better than all that. I promise you.”

Loki squeezed his eyes shut tight.  He nodded. “You’re right… I just… I’m not used to…”

Stephen understood, and he said no more.  He pushed his blanket away and forced himself to his feet, trying to ignore the burning pain running down his spine that hadn’t been getting any better with rest.  “Go get your bags from your room; it’s supposed to rain tonight so we’ll leave now.”

Loki nodded.  He went to the spare room that had been his for the last month and gathered all his belongings into his backpack.  He quickly made his bed and cleaned up every trace of food he had left behind, hoping he was leaving it as immaculate as it had been before his arrival; Stephen had been so good to him, he didn’t want to show the man any disrespect for the huge amount of kindness he had given.  

When he had returned, he allowed Stephen to drink the last of his tea before the two set off to the bus stop, Stephen having once told Loki how he would never again get in another car.  It was fair, Loki knew; just so inconvenient, and he felt horrible he was now dragging the man onto the public transport Stephen still felt unsafe on.  

Oh, well, he had to remind himself; Stephen had insisted on coming, and Loki really needed to stop blaming himself over everything.  


 

By the time they had arrived at Stark Tower, the storm had started and they were drenched from the downpour they had ran through from the bus stop.  Loki keyed in the code to get them into the lobby and out of the rain before he reached into his bag and resurfaced with the card Tony had given him to swipe it in the elevator and move it upwards.

When the elevator doors opened at the living area floor, they were immediately greeted by the drunken yelling and laughter that seemed to signify a good time.

Loki looked at Stephen with slight fear; they were definitely happy, right..?  “What are they doing...?”

Stephen’s eyes darted around the room before he looked back to Loki.  He pointed out all the decorations and banners as he murmured, “Looks like someone is having a birthday party.”

They stepped forward, finding that there were only four other people present; Tony, Peter, Rhodey and the boy Loki remembered as Ned.  All four of them looked drunk, but even so, Loki felt his heart warm at how happy they appeared.

Loki was almost hesitant to approach, not wanting to ruin the moment with his presence, but before he could do so, Stephen grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him towards the commotion.  

“Tony, are you always this loud when you are drunk?” Stephen was calm, and he didn’t falter under the confused looks he received from all four of them.

Tony’s confusion morphed into excitement as he reached out and tugged Stephen against his side to hold him close.  “Look, guys! We’ve got a wizard for our birthday party! Clowns are overrated. Hey, hey! Do some magic!”

Stephen politely pulled away from Tony and moved to sit on the couch.  He groaned softly as he laid down onto his side, needing to get off his aching feet for a while.  He watched as Tony pulled Loki in for a hug next, but he looked away at the drunk, sloppy kiss that was aimed for Loki’s lips but hit his nose instead.  

“So, what’s happening?” Stephen asked Rhodey while the man was so close to him.  

“Peter’s birthday.” Rhodey smiled.  “Would you like a drink?”

“Oh, yes, please.” A drink couldn’t have sounded better right now.

Loki looked around as he felt Tony pulling him over to the group.  He yelped as the man picked him up and spun him around. “Put me down before we both fall!”

Tony obliged, and the smile he gave Loki was something so pure, Loki couldn’t believe it was for him.  “Oh, Lolo, I’ve missed you. If I knew your brother was going to stop being a shithead today, I would have had you come earlier - but thank god for the wizard and his future sight!”

Loki nodded shyly.  He moved to sit next to Ned and Peter on the other couch, the two of them so drunk, Ned could barely say two words before he broke out in a fit of giggles.  Peter wasn’t doing much better; he was leaning heavily against his friend, rambling on about some pop culture reference Loki didn’t understand.

The roar of thunder overhead and the lights flickering brought Loki’s attention back to Tony, and as expected, he was pestering Stephen, moving his wrists in some weird motion that had even Rhodey raising his eyebrow.

“What are you doing?” Rhodey finally questioned.  

“Repairo!” Tony cried.  

Loki felt even more confused, but Stephen seemed to understand the reference as he rolled his eyes and muttered, “That’s the spell to repair broken objects, you dipshit.”

“Think it’ll fix your personality, though?” Tony questioned.  “You have the personality of a cactus.”

Rhodey laughed, while Stephen argued that it didn’t even make sense.  Tony seemed to be done, though; he turned around and wrapped his arm around Loki again.  “Okay, wizard. We are going to bed for the night. You’re not allowed to leave because this is a bad storm and I’ll drive you home tomorrow.  Rhodey will show you to your room when you’re ready to sleep. Peter~! Goodnight, Peter~ Happy birthday~”

Loki understood why there was no one else here to celebrate with them now as he watched the way Tony and Peter hugged each other tightly; Peter meant so much more to Tony than Loki would probably ever understand, and all they needed on this day was each other to be happy.  They didn’t need a huge party to enjoy the celebration, and one day Loki hoped he could share that same level of contentment to be happy.

“Goodnight, Strange,” Loki murmured as he was pulled away from the others.  

Stephen waved at him in response as he gulped at his wine, as did Rhodey.  

It felt like getting to Tony’s room took longer than it usually did, but it was probably because Tony was so drunk, he kept stumbling everywhere and walking into things.  It was a relief to Loki when they finally got inside their room; Tony could no longer knock himself out on something and leave Loki to drag the body into the bed.

As they laid quietly, Loki rested his head on the man’s chest and drank in the comforting warmth.  He felt Tony’s arm wrap around his waist and hold him tight, but nothing else happened; it was as if just having Loki in his arms was enough for the man.  

The comfortable silence was finally broken by Tony’s slightly-slurred voice.  “Come ‘ere…”

Loki felt his head being tilted back so warm lips could press against his own.  His eyes closed and his body relaxed as he kissed back, opening his mouth so their tongues could dance together.  

“Loki…” Tony’s hand caressed Loki’s hip, but it never ventured any further.  “Fuck, I missed you, Loki. Did Strange give you the phone…?”

“Yes.  Thank you for it, Stark,” Loki whispered.  “I really appreciate it - especially for you still thinking of my brother.”

Tony waved a dismissive hand.  “It’s not his fault he’s being an insufferable prick.  I still love him.”

Loki smiled.  He rested his head on Tony’s chest again.  “You know… When you said we were going to bed, I thought you’d have had something else in mind.”

Tony smirked.  “Usually, if we hadn’t been apart for a month.  Why? Do you want to?”

“No, I was just surprised you didn’t rip my clothes off as soon as you saw me,” Loki teased.  “I was kind of expecting for you to take me in front of everyone tonight.”

Tony chuckled.  “I like to think I like you for more than just your body, Loki.  Of course… We’ll be doing something tomorrow - but for now, this is nice.”

Loki smiled.  It was what he liked about Tony.  Tony was always made out to be a hornball who couldn’t keep his dick out of anything for five minutes - and yes, Tony helped spread those rumours around - but honestly?  Loki could no longer see him that way as Tony had never been anything but patient and caring with him.

“How was your stay with the doc?” Tony’s voice was slurring further; most likely starting to drift off to sleep, Loki realised.  

“Pleasant,” Loki replied honestly.  “He is a very good host. But it got hard to sleep sometimes; he seems to hurt the most at nights - kept me up every now and then with his groans.”

Tony hummed.  “Sure he wasn’t jerking off…?”

Loki laughed.  “I promise you he wasn’t.”

A tiny smile graced Tony’s face, and he fell so quiet, Loki thought he had fallen asleep - but then, he whispered, “Were you jerking off…?”

Loki blushed.  He closed his eyes; Tony knew how rare it was for Loki to indulge in such acts.  “...Maybe…”

Tony’s smile widened a tad more.  “Hope you cleaned up after yourself…  But then again, Gandalf probably already knew…”

Loki hummed; they were both ready for sleep, and he was convinced Tony was just about to drift off.  

“You’ll have to show me tomorrow, baby…” Tony whispered.  And then, he was asleep.

Loki’s blush deepened, and he curled into as best a ball as he could.  He nodded. “I’ll try…”

With that, Loki was asleep as well.  

Chapter Text

Loki awoke to a hand caressing his stomach slowly.  He cracked his eyelids open and smiled at Tony. “Good morning…”

Tony smiled back before he leant in to claim a kiss from his lover.  When they pulled away, he pressed their foreheads together for a moment before he whispered, “I’m going to check on the kids; I’ll be back in a few.  Stay here.”

Loki nodded.  He tugged the blankets tighter around him as he watched Tony leave before he looked to the alarm clock on Tony’s side of the bed.  It was early, just a little past five am, and Loki supposed Tony had woken from his insomnia again - though he had imagined the other would have slept well from how drunk he had been prior to falling asleep.

It didn’t take long for Tony to come back, and when he did, he murmured softly, “The kids are fast asleep.  Rhodey and Strange are asleep on the couches. Idiots didn’t take the spare rooms. Had to get blankets for their cold asses.”

Loki yawned.  He snuggled in close when Tony came back to bed, and with his eyes lightly closed, he whispered, “I hate that you never get hangovers…”

“It’s because I’ve been an alcoholic for so long.” Tony dragged his fingers through Loki’s hair.  “Go back to sleep; I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Loki shook his head.  “I’m already awake.”

Tony’s hand moved back to Loki’s stomach.  He rubbed small circles through his lover’s shirt and moved closer so he could kiss and suck at Loki’s neck.  Loki’s eyes closed and his body relaxed as he enjoyed the ministrations his touch-starved body craved.

Tony’s hand brushed downward, and he smirked as he bumped against something hard.  “You want some morning fun, do you?”

“Tch.” Loki rolled onto his side so he could bite down at the junction of Tony’s neck and shoulder.  His hips rolled forward as he murmured, “So what if I do? You gonna help me out with it?”

“I thought I told you last night…” Tony’s palm slid down Loki’s thigh, and it took the boy’s pants along with it, “...I wanted you to show me something…”

Loki sucked at the flesh he had been worrying with his teeth.  “Oh? Be more specific.”

“You’re really going to make me say it?” Tony’s hand moved up again to cup Loki’s face.  He chuckled when he received a defiant nod in response. He nuzzled his face against Loki’s neck as he said, “I want to see you with your hand wrapped around your cock, giving me a good show…”

Loki shivered.  He closed his eyes and moaned softly.  It wouldn’t be the first time he’d masturbated for Tony - he’d learnt to video it on his phone and send it to his lover, after all - but doing it in person…  

His hand moved downwards.

Tony leant back to get a better view.  He reached to his side and turned the bedside lamp on to illuminate the room properly.  He licked his lips. “Show me, baby. Show me what you want.”

Loki gulped as his hand closed around the base of his arousal.  He eyes closed and he rolled onto his back, propped up by his elbow.  He made the first stroke.

“Yes…” Tony’s pants had also disappeared, and his thumb was ghosting the head of his own erection.  “Just like that…”

Loki’s hand moved a tad more confidently now.  He traced the tip of his forefinger over the underside of his arousal, his cock twitching as he did so.  He cracked his eyelid open to look at Tony, urged on by the lust in his eyes that was drowned out by the affectionate smile on his face.  

He closed his eyes again and squeezed his shaft as he willed his hand to move a little faster now.  “S-stark…”

Tony shuffled closer so he could drag his fingers through Loki’s hair again.  “You’re so beautiful, baby…”

An indistinguishable murmur left Loki’s lips.  His hand slowed so he could palm the tip of his arousal.  He shivered again as he felt a drop of precum touch his skin, but instead of repulsing him, it only made him harder.  

Loki opened both his eyes and moaned as he rolled onto his side to look at Tony.  His tongue swiped at his lips in contemplation before he rolled himself onto his stomach so could he lay between the man’s legs.  He extended his hand slowly until his fingertips grazed the swollen flesh that leaked for his touch.

“Loki…” Tony breathed.  He reached out to put his hand on the back of Loki’s head, and though he didn’t ask his question, their eyes still met and Loki gave him a nod.  It was enough for Tony, and ever so tenderly, he guided the boy’s mouth down around his shaft, never forcing, but always encouraging.

Loki pushed himself to his knees to get a better vantage point.  His lips sunk lower and lower down the arousal until he felt the tip hit the back of his throat and he gagged a little.  Tony’s fingers dug into his hair and eased him off until he stopped gagging, and once he was okay again, Tony patted the back of his head.

“Shit…” Tony leant back against the bedside table and spread his legs wider to make more room for Loki.  He kept his hand on Loki’s head as he sighed and moaned, enjoying the wet cavern and warm hand wrapped around what the boy couldn’t swallow.  “Ah, fuck…”

Loki groaned quietly, the vibrations sending another set of shudders through Tony.  He eased up again to breathe before he sunk back down and twirled his tongue against the thick vein he could feel, prominent against the swollen skin.  

“You’re doing great,” Tony encouraged breathlessly.  “So… So good… Keep breathing… That’s it… Just like that…”

Loki gagged once more as he pushed his boundaries a little too much.  He tried to breathe through his nostrils as he lifted his mouth off again, but the little groan Tony made through his coughs told Loki that was probably how his lover liked it.  He went back down again, gagging himself to see, and the shiver of Tony’s thighs as he restrained a buck told him he was most likely right.

Loki lifted his mouth off altogether as he murmured, “Do you like that, Stark…?  Is that… something I could do for you…?”

Tony’s expression was so gentle as he caressed Loki’s cheek with his thumb.  “In future, when you are more experienced and comfortable with it.”

Loki nodded.  “Am I doing okay?”

“You are doing great ,” the man promised.  “You’ll get better at it with practise - if you want to practise, that is.  Now turn around, on your hands and knees.”

Loki didn’t hesitate to obey; he trusted Tony, and if that was how he could please his lover, he would do so.  He waited, feeling almost self-conscious of his body until he felt calloused hands grab his hips and pull him closer.  His breath caught in his throat; were they…

Were they going to… do it…?  

“S-stark…” Loki couldn’t keep the quaver from his voice.  

“Shh…” Tony’s hand caressed Loki’s cheek.  “It’s not what you think… Relax for me, okay?”

Loki obeyed as best he could now.  He couldn’t stop himself from shaking.  He couldn’t lie; he was a little scared now…  

But then, he felt the first lick against his entrance and he almost jumped out of his skin.  He looked behind him, his arms feeling as if they were going to collapse under his weight any second now.  “S-s-stark…?”

“Shh…” Tony slipped one of his hands between his partner’s legs to caress him as his tongue worked slowly on parting Loki’s entrance.  He listened to the way Loki’s breathing picked up, and he could feel how violently the other was quaking, but he knew not to stop; anything to replace Loki’s bad memories with pleasant ones.  

Loki’s arms did collapse, and he lay on his chest, sprawled out for Tony to enjoy as he pleased.  His eyes closed, and the nerves in his body felt like they were on fire as he felt the other’s tongue slide ever-so-slowly inside him.  He whimpered, but it wasn’t unpleasant; in fact, it felt good for his abused body that something was finally pushing into him that didn’t make him want to die from the pain.

“Stark…” Loki’s moan was long and low.  He reached forward and curled his hand into the blanket, needing something to hold onto as he listened to the wet noises from behind him.  

Tony’s grip on Loki’s hips were gentle; the last thing he wanted to do was bruise his lover when he was doing so well.  He flicked his tongue around as best he could to encourage the tight walls to loosen.

“Mmm, Stark, I…” Loki’s eyes opened and he looked over his shoulder at Tony.  His cock twitched eagerly at the sight of the man between his legs. “Stark… Wait…”

Tony did as asked, and without complaint.  He sat back on his heels and watched as Loki crawled over to him until the boy was seated on his lap with his lanky arms around his neck.  Tony stayed still as Loki pressed tender kisses to his cheeks and corners of his lips; they’d already gone far further than they had before and now was more important than ever to let Loki keep the control.  

Loki dropped his forehead to the man’s shoulder as he positioned himself above Tony’s arousal.  He held himself there as he whispered, “Please…”

Tony understood immediately.  He grabbed Loki by the waist and held him securely as he leant across and opened his drawer to get the bottle of lube.  He uncapped it quickly and made sure his fingers were slick - perhaps overly, but that was okay - before he pressed one against Loki’s entrance and rubbed tiny circles into it.  

Loki accepted the first finger without any difficulty, loosened enough from their earlier activities.  The second finger wasn’t much of a problem either, but come the third finger, Loki was tense and clenching around his fingers.

Tony moved hair from Loki’s eyes.  He kissed his lover’s forehead. “Shh…  Relax for me… Relax… That’s it… Just relax…”

Loki closed his eyes again as he felt his body soothing to Tony’s words; he trusted him, and he knew Tony didn’t want to hurt him.

“Good boy,” Tony praised.  He pretended he didn’t feel the way Loki’s cock twitched against his stomach; if the boy had a praise kink, there was plenty of time for them to explore it in future.  “You’re doing so well…”

Loki couldn’t help but moan softly at Tony’s words.  His body loosened even more until he was laying limply against his lover, enjoying the sensations that came with being prepared.  He pulled himself off the fingers deep inside him, knowing that if he had pleased Tony already, he could make the other much happier with him while he was seated deep inside his body.  He listened as Tony fumbled around in his drawers again before the sound of a condom packet opening filled the air; thank god Tony understood him without Loki having to say anything...  

Tony grabbed Loki’s hips and guided him to his arousal.  He lined it up and watched as Loki slowly slid down onto the length, staying still and letting him take his time with it.

Loki couldn’t take it all in at once.  Whether it was from past experience or physical reasons, Tony wasn’t going to ask; he instead remained patient as Loki lowered himself inch-by-inch until he was finally sitting in Tony’s lap, adjusting to the size deep within him he had told himself for so long he would never allow penetrate him ever again.  

Tony placed a kiss in Loki’s hair as his fingers caressed the boy’s cheeks.  “When you’re ready, Loki.”

Loki didn’t take much longer; once he’d gotten used to the feeling, he pulled himself upwards in a slow pace, lowering himself even slower, but Tony didn’t mind; once Loki was more confident, things would be better.

“Loki…” Tony let out a pleased sigh.  He moved his hands up to take hold of Loki’s hips, never guiding him, but encouraging him.  He moved them further down the bed so he could lay on his back with his head on his pillow and watch the way Loki slowly got the courage to move that tiny bit faster with each passing minute.  

Loki cried out as he felt his pleasure spot brushed.  He scrunched his eyes shut and bit his lip as he tried to aim his next descent into the same area, but he missed it.  He let out a frustrated groan, wanting so badly to experience what was always taken from him but never given.

“Come here…” Tony tightened his hold on the boy’s hips just enough for him to hold him steady without hurting him.  He kept Loki in place as he thrust upwards, angling his hips to search around until Loki had yelped in pleasure. He grinned.  “You like that, babe? Is that good for you?”

Loki brought his hand to his mouth to stifle his whimpers as Tony continued thrusting into that same spot, quicker and harder as he got ever closer to his own climax.  He was overwhelmed, having never thought that this could bring such pleasure after only ever hurting him so much, but here he was, not entirely sure the tears running down his cheeks now were from fear because oh god he just couldn’t contain so much pleasure in his small body.  

“How is it, Loki?” Tony panted.  His thrusts were becoming erratic with his approaching orgasm, but through it all, Loki’s pleasure was his priority.  “Is it good?”

More tears escaped down Loki’s cheeks and a thick string of saliva dripped onto Tony’s stomach as he nodded vigorously.  He tried to speak, but it only came out as an incoherent mumble. His body was shaking beneath Tony’s ministrations, needing to writhe as an outlet for the mind-blowing sensations his body was pushed through, but beneath Tony’s strong hands, he could only sit and take it until he let out a shout and he felt the coil in his stomach snap as he experienced the strongest orgasm he had ever had.

Tony grunted as Loki tightened around him, and he couldn’t hold back his orgasm at that.  He closed his eyes and groaned softly as he he climaxed, dragging his arm over his eyes as he did so to try and ease off his now-spotty vision.  “Fuck…. Loki…”

Loki didn’t move from where he had fallen against Tony. He curled into the arm that wrapped around him and held him close, and with his face buried into Tony’s chest, his tears run wild.

Tony’s fingers threaded through Loki’s hair. He kissed the boy’s temple before he whispered, “Are you okay?  Was it too much for you?”

Loki shook his head. He raised his face to kiss the tip of Tony’s nose before he lowered it again and continued to allow his tears to flow. “...”

Tony chuckled in understanding. “Was it that good?”

Loki nodded.  He moved even closer.  “...”

Tony smiled.  “We’ll have to do it again soon.  Whenever you want, Loki. Just not when Peter’s around.”

Loki nodded again, wordless as exhaustion crept up on him and he fell asleep once more.

Tony didn’t go back to sleep, though; he laid there, playing with Loki’s hair and kissing him until his alarm went off and he had to get up to check on Peter and Ned.  He left Loki to sleep, though; after what they had just shared together, Loki was more than deserving of his sleep.


Loki awoke again to the bedroom door shutting quietly and the smell of bacon that hadn’t been there when he’d fallen asleep again.  He opened his eyes to see what was going on, and when he came face-to-face with Tony, carrying a platter towards him, he sat up.

“Stark…?” Loki rubbed the sleep from his eyes.  “What’s all this…?”

“Breakfast.” Tony didn’t hesitate to sit back on the bed next to Loki and place the tray on the boy’s lap.  “I’ve already eaten; Strange cooked breakfast for everyone.”

Loki nodded.  He picked up his cup of tea and watched the way the steam dissipated in the air, having always found himself enjoying the tea his teacher made him.  He took a sip to relish it wholeheartedly.

Tony threaded his fingers through Loki’s hair.  He smiled. “How are you feeling? Are you hurting?”

Loki shook his head.  “I am okay; just an ache, but it’ll go away soon enough.”

Tony nodded.  “Tell me if you need anything.”

“I am not a child,” Loki said softly.  “I don’t want to be fussed over, Stark.  It’s nice… But I can take care of myself.”

Tony chuckled.  He kissed Loki’s forehead.  “Sorry. I’d just feel so bad if you were hurting too much because I’m so huge .”

Loki laughed.  “Huge? Hmm. Okay.  I’ll let you get away with that one, though I would have used a tad above average myself.”

Tony snorted.  “We could sit here all day talking about my dick and I wouldn’t get bored.  Are you sure you want to have this day-long conversation?”

“Oh, no.  No, no, no.” Loki shook his head.  “I’ve seen it, thanks. More than enough for me.”

Tony laid down on his side so he could caress Loki’s knee as the boy ate.  He didn’t want to ruin the mood, but at the same time, he knew Loki also needed to know what was on his mind.  “So… Strange told you Quill called.”

Loki nodded.  He took another sip of his tea, this time slowly as he tried to prepare himself for whatever was about to be divulged to him.  “...”

“Quill told me a lot.  I mean a lot .  ...Stuff Thor probably wouldn’t have wanted him telling anyone else.  But… I understand why Quill did it; he was doing his best to make sure we could understand where your brother is coming from.”

Loki’s hands started to shake.  Whatever Tony was getting at couldn’t be good…  “...What… What happened to my brother…?”

Tony bit his lip.  His hands fumbled as he tried to think of the nicest way he could put it, but being subtle wasn’t exactly his forte.  “...Thor tried killing himself. Quill found him and cut the rope down; an ambulance got there in time.”

Loki choked on a sob as he wiped at his eyes.  He put his tea down and hugged himself. “...I bet it was because of me…”

“It wasn’t ,” Tony said sternly.  “Don’t ever blame yourself for what he did, Loki; it wasn’t your fault.  It had nothing to do with you, Thor trying to kill himself.  It happened because Thor has his own shit and in no way did any of it reflect back onto you.”

Loki didn’t know how he could believe those words; how could it not be over him?  He was so horrible to Thor…!  “...”

“Look…” Tony rubbed the back of his head.  “...I’m gonna tell you what Quill told me, but you can’t repeat any of it to anyone - especially not to Thor.  It stays between the three of us and no one else.”

“Okay…”

“Thor’s problems don’t stem from you, Loki; they stem from the shit he’s gone through in his life.  You aren’t the only one Hela abused; Quill told me Hela has molested him since day one, all the way up until he was fifteen.  You know better than anyone how that kind of shit leaves a scar… And for as long as he can remember, his father has been emotionally abusive and neglectful.  It was never done around you - Thor could never have bared for you to witness it - but it did its damage, Loki, and I know you understand.”

Loki closed his eyes.  His hands clenched, and finally, he murmured, “I…  I had… no idea… I mean, Thor always… Thor’s always… sleeping with Quill, you know…?”

“Sexual abuse isn’t restricted solely to fearing the act, Loki,” Tony said gently.  “People react to it differently, and if anything, it made your brother hypersexual .  I always did think it was strange how sexually needy Thor was…  But I get it now.”

Loki nodded.  “I can’t believe…  I never noticed…”

“Thor didn’t want you to notice,” Tony pointed out.  “I know him well enough to know he’d take those secrets to his grave; he would sooner tell a stranger on the street than he would tell you.  He wouldn’t have wanted you to hate or judge him.”

“...Yeah…  Makes sense…”

“Quill made him see a therapist,” Tony continued.  “Quill leaving him was what pushed him over the edge, and it amplified everything wrong with him.  And believe me, Loki…  He has a lot wrong with him.  Just to name a couple, he’s majorly depressed, and with borderline personality disorder.”

Loki dropped his face into his hands.  “...”

“It’s going to be okay from here on out, though, Loki - hopefully .  Quill’s pushed him into going to rehab, and they’re going to work with him mentally while he’s there, too.” Tony reached out to wrap his arm around Loki’s shoulders and hug him tight.  “Hopefully… Soon enough… You’re going to have your brother back, and healthy .”

A single tear rolled down Loki’s cheek.  If that could happen… It would be great .  

Chapter Text

Loki knew Tony had a lot of friends from different places, so he wasn’t as fazed as he usually would be when, upon entering the lobby of Stark Tower, he run into the chest of a man he’d never met before.

“Sorry bout that.” Loki flinched when the stranger touched his arm. He looked away and nodded before he caught sight of Clint next to the newcomer, golf clubs in tow as he laughed quietly to himself.  

Loki didn’t hang around to question what the hell was going on; he swiped his card at the elevator and traveled up.  The doors opened, and upon stepping out, he called, “Stark, who was in the lobby with Bar - who’s that…?”

Loki certainly did feel uncomfortable with all these new people hanging around, but still he did his best to remain respectful; he never could be certain if Tony’s friends were as rich and powerful and important as Tony.

Tony looked over the back of the couch to smile at Loki.  He gestured to the man across from him. “Loki, this is T’Challa.”

Loki’s frown only grew.  Despite the clear manner in which T’Challa’s attire reflected his culture, Loki couldn’t put his finger on where exactly the man was from.  It made it much more difficult for him to know if this man was of any importance in his culture, and as such, he truly had no idea how it was appropriate to react.  “Hello…”

The man waved back at him.  His features were so gentle, Loki couldn’t help but feel at ease.  “I am glad you do not bow to me like your other friend did.”

Those words were lost on Loki, but still he knew they hinted towards this man having some sort of significance.  He froze; if he didn’t bow, did he just treat the man like he did anyone else? Tony’s friends were so confusing...

“He is the king of Wakanda,” Tony explained at the confusion on his lover’s face. “We’ve done business together in the past before I became a teacher.  He’s over here for his own business and he thought he’d stop by. T’Challa, this is who I was telling you about.”

T’Challa’s eyes brightened now, and he looked so incredibly kind, Loki was drawn in like moths to the flame.  “Tony has told me all about you and your brother. He said your brother is due to get out of rehab next week, and Tony wanted to ask me if I would be willing to allow the three of you to vacation in Wakanda and escape for a while.”

Loki’s eyes widened. Tony hadn’t told him about any of this, not even about Thor. “Stark…?”

“It’s up to you,” Tony promised. “I was looking forward to a little holiday myself.  You are more than welcome to join me, Lolo.”

“...” Loki looked down.  His hands fumbled together.  “I need time to think about it…”

Tony understood.  He gestured for Loki to come closer.  “T’Challa, make yourself at home. Everyone else does.  They practically live here anyway; Bruce is down in the lab again. It’s like his home away from home.”

“Thank you for your generosity,” T’Challa murmured.  “It has been a long flight; may I take a nap?”

Tony stood to show his guest to the spare bedroom. Loki didn’t wait long for him to return, and when Tony did, Loki curled up on his lap.  He rested his head against Tony’s shoulder. “Who was that guy I saw with Barton in the lobby?”

“That would be Scott.” Tony threaded his fingers through Loki’s hair.  “They were getting my golfing equipment.”

“Scott?  Anyone else I should know about skulking around here?”

“Oh, yes.  I’m sure I saw Natasha brooding earlier.” Tony rolled his eyes.  “Lang is more Rogers’ friend than mine. We’re civil. He and Barton golf a lot together, which is why they were here.  How was Quill?”

“Lonely…” Loki shuddered slightly from the chill.  “Can you turn the heating up a little? ...Thanks… Anyway, Quill is pretty lonely…”

“He’s been stuck in that house by himself for months now; he would be,” Tony agreed.

“He isn’t used to being alone. When he’s at his own home, he lives with his other friends, so he’s taking all this pretty hard. It’s why I’ve been back home lately; to keep him company.”

“You’re a good boy.” Tony caressed Loki’s cheek as he ignored the feel of his lover hardening against him.  “I can’t believe Thor has been okay with long distance for as long as he has. He’s always trying to stick his dick in what he can.”

Loki rolled his eyes.  “They have phone sex. ...A lot of phone sex.  It’s why I keep music playing at night.”

Tony snorted. “Now that I can believe.”

Loki laughed.  He snuggled in closer.  “Can we go out for lunch?  I want tacos again.”

“You always want tacos.” Tony stood up and took Loki’s hand to lead him through the room.  “You could live on them quite happily.”

“I like tacos, and I’d never had them until you bought me some,” Loki pointed out.  “It’s not my fault you created a monster.”

Tony snorted again.  He grabbed his keys from the bar counter.  “I feel like I will regret it one day.”

“Yeah, you will.  Now what’s happening with my brother?  You didn’t tell me he’s getting out soon.” Loki pressed himself to Tony’s side.

“He is,” Tony promised.  “He’s apparently doing so well, too.”

Loki couldn’t have been happier to hear those words, and sure enough, a week later, he saw for himself the progress Thor had made as they sat in the living room of Thor’s home the day he had finally been allowed to come home.

“Brother, what happened to your hair?”  Loki almost couldn’t believe what he was seeing; all of Thor’s gorgeous blond hair had been cut off and his new short style dyed brown.  To his surprise, it suited his brother so well, Loki wondered why Thor had never cut his hair sooner.

Thor’s smile was contagious as he run his hand through his hair.  “Well, I thought I needed a change, and Quill took me to get it done on one of his visits.  Do you like it?”

While Loki nodded, Tony muttered, “Good thing Quill is into men as well with that haircut you’re rocking, buddy.  I think Quill and I both thought you were a chick before, but now I’m no longer questioning what you have in your pants.”

From where he sat next to Thor, Quill snorted.  His fingers ghosted down his lover’s arm as he replied.  “Maybe now he can have a turn on the top since it won’t feel so much like a strap-on being used on me anymore.”

Thor laughed joyfully as he punched Quill good-naturedly in the arm.  “You know you would have no complaints about someone using a strap-on on you.”

Loki smiled, just glad to see his brother looking so happy.  He looked back to Quill. “Are you going to stay with us now?”

Quill’s expression turned pained now.  He looked torn as he murmured, “I want to…  But I really need to get back to the others…”

“Thor isn’t supposed to be left alone; it’s part of his treatment plan,” Tony pointed out, unwilling to take any chances of his friend relapsing into what he had been before if he were to be left alone again.

“I know, but…” Quill rubbed his face.  “I…”

Thor wrapped his arm around Quill’s shoulders and pulled him close.  He dropped his head on top of Quill’s as he mumbled, “We were talking about moving in together, but we aren’t sure he and everyone else could move here so easily…”

“I want to be with Stark…” Loki sighed.  

Tony looked between the three as he planned out his next move in his head.  “How many of you would be moving, Quill?”

“There’d be four of us and our raccoon.  Why?”

“Why not move in to my place until you find somewhere permanent?” Tony shrugged at the confused looks he received.  “Just saying. There’s more than enough room for everyone. I’ll pay for removalists if you want to.”

“We couldn’t, though…” Thor murmured.  “That is too kind of you…”

“What, and leave you here to starve?” Tony rolled his eyes.  “At least you’ll have food if you move in, Thor.”

As Thor shook his head, his hoodie slipped down and Loki winced at the scarring around his brother’s neck he had had no idea existed until this moment.  He reached out to ghost his fingers against the faded marks that could only suggest that at some point since Loki had run away, Thor had tried to hang himself and botched the attempt.  “Brother…”

Thor gulped.  He pulled away from the touch and tugged his hoodie tighter around him to hide the marks again.  “...”

Quill pretended he hadn’t noticed the interaction, not wanting to acknowledge the way his stomach churned in anxiety as he remembered the panic he had been in that night, trying to get his choking lover down from the rafters.

Tony didn’t pretend, though.  His voice hardened and he reached into his pocket to search for his phone.  “That settles it, Point Break. I’ll get removalists here within the day and have them pack everything for you.  Quill, text me through all your details and I’ll organise everything for you, too. Don’t worry about any jobs or schooling; I’ll have that covered before you get here.”

“Dude, you have no idea who my friends are and probably nothing about me, but you’re demanding us live with you?” Quill raised his eyebrow in disbelief.  “That’s the sort of attitude that gets well-meaning people murdered.”

“Yeah, but clearly none of you are murderers or else Thor would never let you near Loki,” Tony pointed out.  “I’ll go make a call.”

Loki watched as Tony stood up to leave the room.  He looked back to Quill and Thor, and with a light shrug of his shoulders, he murmured, “At least we won’t go hungry anymore, brother.  Think of it that way.”

“I still feel so bad about it…” Thor dropped his head to Quill’s shoulder.  

Loki moved to sit next to his brother.  He couldn’t help but take notice of how much healthier Thor looked now.  While they both were no stranger to looking so incredibly unhealthy for one reason or another, it had been so long since Loki had seen Thor looking so radiant, his hair clean and shiny and his skin vibrant without so many imperfections from years of drug use.  “If he didn’t want us there, he wouldn’t have offered, brother. You know that. He’s worried about you.”

Thor tugged his hoodie tighter around him again.  He was frowning now, and Loki knew his brother well enough to know that he was feeling self-conscious.  “But I…”

“Dude, you were trying to kill yourself,” Quill pointed out.  “ I was worried about you.  Why do you think I came back?  I knew if anything happened to you, Loki would follow.”

Thor sighed.  His hands fumbled together before he leant across to kiss his lover’s lips softly.  “I love you…”

“I love you, too, babe,” Quill promised.  “You feeling alright?”

“Yeah.” Thor’s smile returned.  “Wanna have some fun?”

“Always.”

“Tch.” Loki rolled his eyes.  He got to his feet when the two kissed again, this time much harder.  “You two are unbelievable…”

Loki left the living room when Thor fell onto his back to allow Quill on top of him.  He sat next to Tony, who was sitting at the dining table as he organised removalists. He waited until his own lover had ended the call before he scowled and muttered in an icy tone, “Don’t go in there; they apparently don’t want to get a room…”

Tony laughed.  “I’d watch that.”

“Yeah, and they’d let you…  They’d get off to it. Perverts…”  Loki’s tone became colder as he folded his arms grumpily across his chest.  

Tony snorted.  He pulled Loki onto his lap and wrapped his arm around the boy’s waist.  “And you aren’t? You forgetting what we did last night already?”

“That was your idea and not mine,” Loki pointed out.  “I would never suggest such depravity.”

“No, but you went along with it without any issues.” Tony licked the shell of Loki’s ear, as if to remind him.  “I bet I could talk you into it again.”

“Hmph.” Loki dropped his head to rest under his boyfriend’s chin.  He closed his eyes. “You’re as much a pervert as those two are.”

“You like it, though.  Hold tight while I finish organising everything.  We can find out just how much of a pervert I am tonight when we get everything sorted out.”

Loki snorted.  “I already know how perverted you are.  But I’ll go along with it. ...For now.”

Tony chuckled.  “You’re the best.”

“Only sometimes.  Most other times you want to kill me out of frustration.”

“It keeps things interesting,” Tony promised.  “I like the challenge of bipolar.”

“I’m not bipolar,” Loki argued. 

“See?  Bipolar.”  He knew Loki wasn’t bipolar, but he also knew a bit of light teasing never failed to cheer Loki up from his bad moods.  He kissed Loki’s forehead. “Movers will be here shortly. Hopefully those two finish before then.”

Loki relaxed into Tony’s embrace.  His eyes closed again, and he could feel himself drifting off from the comfort Tony always brought him.  Tony didn’t wake him when he fell asleep; he just held Loki for a while until the movers had arrived and then put the boy in his car so he could sleep undisturbed.  

Tony was glad things had worked out the way they had, and Thor getting the help he had so desperately needed had helped with far more than just his drug problems.  It had helped him with all his emotional and mental issues he hadn’t been able to face on his own, and in doing so, it had mended his relationship with Loki to the point he wasn’t sure he’d ever known the brothers to be as close as they were lately.

Loki himself was doing so much better now that his brother was, too, obvious in the way that his breakdowns happened much less now, and when they did, they weren’t as severe and easier to help him through them.

Tony wasn’t sure if Thor would ever approve fully of him being with his little brother.  He’d done little more than glare a little at Tony whenever Thor felt his friend was touching Loki too intimately, but Thor seemed to have worked through his issues enough to recognise that Tony would never hurt Loki in the ways Thor feared people would.  He hadn’t said anything about their relationship, and though he still seemed uncomfortable and unaccepting of it, Tony was sure Thor had come to learn he had no control over who his brother chose to be with.   

Tony let out a sigh as he helped box his friend’s belongings.  Thor and Loki were both lucky to have his support, because though their parents didn’t give them any, they were so deserving of love, it was horrible to know they’d both had so little throughout their lives.  There were only a handful of things Tony had ever seen through to the end, but one thing he knew he would never fail at would be accepting the both of them and loving them throughout their worst moments, no matter how many faults they garnered along the way.