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Scars and Stars

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“Enjoy your meal,” A voice across the room chimed, and Tony stopped mid-bite to look up. He knew that voice. It sent chills down his spine and he could practically feel a hand wrap around his throat as he tried to place it. Even with jeans and a casual shirt, along with an apron, he could recognize the posture that stood too straight, too proud , and that goddamn mullet that stuck out in every which way and confirmed his identity even before he turned around with a calm, resting look on his face. Tony stared, a little uncomfortable at the pure confusion that he hadn’t felt in a while. This time, he wasn’t very sure he wanted to find out any answers to the questions circulating around his brain. But he didn’t have time to think, so the second that asshole gave him a glance, he reacted.

“What the fuck?” Tony thought out loud, which were probably not the best words that could’ve left his mouth, but it wasn’t like he needed an introduction. He acted on pure impulse, his heart pounding as he held eye contact with a very much not dead Norse God. His shawarma clattered onto the platter, and he instinctively raised his hand, his gauntlet jumping into place. Taking advantage of the obvious surprise - and, Tony thought, is that fear? -  showing on Loki’s face, he shot a blast.

Tony expected it to be a clone, and Loki would appear right behind him with a knife through his stomach, or he expected his blast to be knocked off by magic. What he did not expect, though, was for Loki to do absolutely nothing until the very last moment when he held up the platter in front of himself. It burned straight through the metal, striking him right in the chest and sending him stumbling backward into the nearest table.

“I feel as if I should be the one asking that,” The god snarled, gripping the table and standing back up.

“What, did you get bored of world domination and decide to be the next top chef?” Tony fired off another blast, but this time, Loki held up his arms to defend against it. The blast seared his skin, but barely did any damage.

“I do not know what you are referring to,” The god argued, but Tony grit his teeth. If it was some sort of human doppelganger, he wouldn’t have been unscarred from the blast, and Tony would be currently calling an ambulance in sheer terror. In conclusion, Loki is lying to him, or he had gotten even more insane than before and finally lost it.

“Don’t bullshit me!” Tony aimed once more. Either the god dropped this little trick of his and explained, or they would be engaging in a fight that Tony would end up paying the price for, literally.

“Stop!” The panic in Loki’s eyes and mannerisms actually made Tony hesitate, but he securely kept his aim right at his chest.

“Listen, Reindeer Games, I don’t-” Tony was cut off by a shoe hitting the side of his left cheek. Turning, he saw the old lady who managed the shawarma shop, and she was pissed .

“Out!” She yelled, voice thick with an accent. Tony stood there in disbelief that this woman would willingly host an evil villain who tried to take over and destroy the entire world.

“Do you know who he is?” Tony asked, pointing to the Asgardian.

“He’s a hard worker. Do not attack my employee,” She answered, and he was torn between giving his attention to Loki or the woman, so he settled for having a gauntlet aimed for the god while he went to answer the woman. He didn’t get the chance, however, as Loki already interjected.

“It is still possible that we can have a civil conversation.”

“For you to stall and lie?” Tony accused with a mockingly amused tone.

“For me to explain that I have no idea why you insist on attacking me,” Loki answered, his tone so very honest that Tony had to pause. The god looked at him, hands forward and raised, and if this was some sort of trick, well, it sort of worked.

“You’re trying to tell me that you don’t know who I am?”

“I know you’re Tony Stark,” Loki told him.

“So you admit that you’re stalling.” Tony raised an eyebrow, only to get an exasperated sigh in response as the god ran a hand through his hair.

“There is a magazine vendor two steps from our door, and your face is plastered everywhere, you imbecile!” Loki chided, gesturing to the entrance of the restaurant, and Tony decided to ignore his little quip. He had a lot of paperwork to get done, and Pepper would slaughter him if he wasn’t finished with it by the end of the night. Was this something he wanted to deal with at the moment? Hell no.

“You know what? Sure, let’s talk. You’re supposed to be dead, so let’s start with an explanation of why you resurrected yourself to make Shawarma.”

“May I pose a question before I answer?” The god asked, and Tony hesitantly gave a nod and expectant look.

“How did I die?” Loki inquired, the genuine curiosity making Tony’s mind come to a complete halt. He remembered the story of Loki’s death, straight from Thor. It was a story of redemption, of revenge, and of honor. Loki killed some evil monster whose name Tony couldn’t even try to pronounce, but he was impaled during the fight. Supposedly, he kept the infinity stone safe, helped protect Jane Foster, who Tony had to acknowledge for her work with physics, and died with honor. Thor had mentioned the word honor at least twelve times during the story, actually. But, Thor also mentioned the starting of the Convergence, which meant that they had to leave Loki's body behind.

“You sneaky bastard, you faked it,” Tony mumbled, the realization hitting him. If Loki had died, that would make him free of all crimes. That would give him the perfect cover to disappear wherever he wanted. What he couldn’t possibly understand was why the god chose to not only come back to Earth, but work at a Mediterranean restaurant. He had many questions for him, but Tony assumed there would be plenty of time to interrogate him when he wasn’t in a public area. “You’re coming with me, now.”

“No, he isn’t,” A voice behind him muttered, thick accent nearly disappearing with the sternness.

“I can reimburse you for any inconve-” Tony halted as he turned to come face-to-face with the barrel of a pistol.

“He’s not going anywhere,” The man hissed, and Tony instantly surrendered. He was caught by surprise, and it’s not like he was going to actually threaten a citizen. The man in front of him wore an apron, and he obviously worked there. He understood the whole idea of employees being close-knit and stuff, but this was ridiculous, and he forced himself to admit that he was making the situation worse.

“Okay, okay! Hands up, you know, the universal sign of surrender!” Tony clearly yelled, putting his hands up in determination. He just needed to buy a few seconds and cursed himself for not notifying JARVIS the second he saw Loki. It was up to him to diffuse the situation, but there was nothing but panic as the gun didn’t move.

“Hail HYDRA,” The man whispered, pulling the trigger with a murderous grin.

Tony instantly brought down his arm in hope that the gauntlet would block it in time. He expected it to either deflect, or he expected a sharp pain to bloom anywhere on his upper body. Instead, he was roughly shoved and opened his eyes in time to see the bullet get lodged in Loki’s shoulder. Magic swirled around the wound and there was nothing but unadulterated rage pouring out from his eyes.

“I will see to it that your organization burns,” He growled, grabbing the pistol out of the man’s hand, snapping the metal in half. Tony knew it wouldn’t be long before more HYDRA soldiers came running in, but he knew that his armor would get there first, holding up the bracelets as he heard a crash through the window of the shop.

“JARVIS, contact SHIELD,” He ordered, turning to face the woman. She used their distraction to grab some sort of alien tech, and he powered up his gauntlet.

“I hope you remember how to fight!” He yelled to the god, shooting off a blast and destroying part of the counter while he was at it.

“It’s coated,” Loki whispered, and Tony wouldn’t have heard it if JARVIS didn’t modify the sound.

Turning and looking closer, he saw that blue was oozing out of the festering wound, and he barely had time to look up into Loki’s face before the god stumbled into the nearest table and blacked out.