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Aftermath

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After his rather delicious meal, Loki found he was far from ready to turn in for the night. It had been a while since he'd last enjoyed the night life on Midgard and he was more than willing to slip into one of several night clubs in the area. However, after contemplating the card left with dinner, he felt a burning curiosity to see this Lux place, along with its owner. One could learn a lot about a man by his home, or business, as the case might be.

Hailing a cab, Loki directed the driver to the night club, not entirely surprised to see a line out the door, with velvet ropes partitioning off the line from the rest of the sidewalk. Paying his driver, Loki stepped out of the cab and crossed over to the head of the line, amid protests that were ignored, flipping the card he'd received to the head bouncer. The burly man immediately unlatched the partition to let him in with a nod of thanks from the god of mischief.

The interior of the club had the typical dark lighting, loud music, and a lot of people. There were open tables, with a few more intimate booths, as well as an open bar area lined with stools. The centerpiece of the whole main room, however, was a large grand piano in shiny black. There were also a couple of exotic dancers, primarily women, who didn't quite cross the line of impropriety.

People danced with the typical gyrations while others drank, tried to hit up members of the opposite (and sometimes same) sex. One thing was obvious. The bartender was doing a fantastic job of keeping the libations coming.

Wearing a dark sports jacket and matching pants, having decided on being slightly dressed down from earlier, Loki rambled down the curved stairs leading to the main floor and strode over to an empty stool at the bar. "Martini, dry," he ordered from the male bartender, who poured the drink, setting it on a napkin before turning to fill another order.

While Loki sipped from his glass, a woman with a medium-dark skin tone took up residence in the stool next to his, sitting off to his left. Her dark hair and matching eyes sparkled. And, except for her bright lipstick, her makeup was fairly tame. But her attire was mostly black leather, with artistically arranged cuts and slits to tantalize the most carnal of minds without actually giving anything away. She gave him a calculating glance, nodding at his drink. "I took you for more of a brandy kind of man," she admitted. "But I can see martini too."

Loki gave her an equally calculating glance back, a partial smile gracing his lips. "I don't believe we've met," he admitted. "Or are you always this forward with strangers?"

The woman's lips turned up into an almost Cheshire Cat grin. "I thought you'd have a bit of sass to you." she slapped one hand against the bar top. "Mr. Lawson, wasn't it? Or is that your real name?"

This time Loki gave her an even more in-depth look, sure she was carrying several weapons of a similar nature to his usual blades. "It is the name I prefer to go by," he replied as he set his glass down. "But since you seem to know my name, it's only fair you tell me yours."

"Mazikeen Smith," the woman replied as the bartender brought her a drink before she'd even ordered one. Apparently she was a regular and had a favorite. "But most people just call me Maze."

Loki gave an appreciative nod at that. "It suits you. I'd offer to buy you a drink but you already seem to have one."

Maze laughed at that. And then she did the oddest thing, moving her head close to him, far closer than he'd allow any mortal. Not only she did she come in like she didn't have any inhibitions at all, but she seemed to try to drink in his essence with one long inhalation. "You don't smell like most humans," she commented as she leaned back, her eyes partially closed, an odd expression on her face.

"I should hope not," Loki said in half protest, half intrigue. To be compared to a mortal was simply unacceptable. And yet the way she said it was also a bit of a turn on. If he wasn't careful, he might find himself lusting after her. "Nor do you seem like a typical human."

This seemed to amuse her as she gave an odd chuckle. "That's because I'm not." She took a healthy swig of her drink, almost slamming the sturdy vessel back onto the bar. "I'm a demon. And you, for whatever reason, have caught the attention of my employer."

Loki couldn't help but look surprised. "Your employer?" He chose to ignore the quip about being a demon, not sure if she was being cute or merely up front.

A smattering of applause started up, growing louder as the dance music subsided and a spotlight shone at the top of the stairs Loki had strode down only a few minutes before. And right in that spotlight stood none other than Lucifer Morningstar. Loki couldn't help but notice as the man descended, heading straight for the piano. He'd changed into a similar dark suit, though this one had a few differences from the one he'd worn earlier that day, mostly the red handkerchief in the right front pocket, and the shinier fabric. Even with those subtle differences, Loki could tell the whole ensemble was different, as well as expensive.

"You work for Lucifer Morningstar?" He looked somewhat shocked, though part of him found he wasn't all that surprised as he watched her toy with the stem of the maraschino cherry from her glass, raising her brows in a manner that could only be construed as teasing condescension.

Before he could make any more comments, however, Lucifer made his way to the piano and took a seat at the keyboard. "What should I play for you lovelies tonight?" he asked the audience, getting calls for many different titles. All the while, he ran his fingers over the ivories, playing something smooth and sultry, letting his audience have their moment before breaking out into the opening chords of a song Loki was unfamiliar with.

The god of mischief looked more than a little surprised at the tones escaping Lucifer's mouth. He had to admit the man could sing. Not only could he sing, but he could sing well. And his skills at the piano rivaled many others he'd heard while visiting Earth, which was saying something. He only mingled with the best.

Maze finished her drink as Loki stared, transfixed by his flamboyant host. She gave him a sort of nod that only went half-acknowledged before she sauntered off into the crowd. Loki's applause was polite but no less enthusiastic than the rest of the crowd. Realizing the club owner's performance was over, the DJ took over once more, blasting techno music through the room as Lucifer made his way to the bar.

"I was hoping you'd stop by," Lucifer said as he took over the stool Maze had vacated. He gave a similar Cheshire Cat grin to the one Maze had used. He looked appreciatively at Loki's attire. "My but you do clean up nicely. It's not exactly Burberry but is certainly nicely tailored to show off the essentials."

Feeling more than a little impatient, and a little violated, Loki turned a bit of an impatient glance the devil's way. "Why exactly am I here, Mr. Morningstar?"

Lucifer affected an almost innocent yet playful expression of shock. "Lucifer, please. The only person who calls me Mr. Morningstar is my lawyer." He nodded at the bartender who brought over something blue in a tall, thin glass. "As to why you're here, I can only guess you chose to accept my invitation to get to know me better. I certainly didn't force you to come."

Loki had to concede the point. "Though I'm not sure why I've managed to capture your attention so thoroughly." He finished off his martini. Before he could even think about ordering another one, Lucifer beat him to the punch, signaling the bartender for another.

"You intrigue me," the club owner admitted as he leaned one elbow against the bar, his chin pressed against the accompanying hand. "And that's something really hard to do. After all, I'm far too familiar with the carnal nature of humanity for it to surprise me much these days. But you . . ." he leaned forward. "You aren't like the other mortals."

A sense of déjà vu filled the god of mischief. "You're the second person to tell me that in so many minutes," he said. His tone seemed have a sense of warning half skepticism. Despite his tone, he picked up the second martini glass and took a sip.

"Ah yes," Lucifer seemed to cringe. "That would be Maze. She's a very astute individual." He glanced around the club, almost as if he expected someone to try and eavesdrop on their conversation. Or to spot the demon, a knife in her hand. "What would you say if I invited you up to my private rooms?"

It was hard not to look a bit taken back by this sudden question, nor the intensity he saw in Lucifer's eyes. He felt a sudden sense of unease fill his stomach and quickly put the martini glass down, wiping his hands on his pants. "I hope you're not suggesting what I think you are. And if so, I think you should know I'm not the kind of person to share a bed with just anyone. If such is the case, I must decline."

Lucifer chuckled, almost as if he was covering over some kind of confusion or disappointment. "My dear William, may I call you William? I have no intention of sharing my bed with you. I would like to point out, however, that our current location is hardly suitable for private conversation. But if you prefer to stay where others may overhear us, I won't be the one to tell you no."

Relief washed over the pseudo Asgardian, though he did his best not to let it show. "Why didn't you put it that way from the beginning? It would have saved the both of us a moment of confusion." He picked up his glass and drained it before standing. "If all you want is conversation, I'm more than happy to oblige. But I warn you that if you try anything I don't like, I can't be blamed for the consequences."

"Ooh!" Lucifer looked almost smug and more than a little intrigued as he stood as well. "Feisty. I like that." He then looked around, signaling to Maze with a look before making sure Loki followed him up the stairs and to the elevator to the penthouse level. This was indeed going to be interesting.


Tony Stark stared moodily out of the spacious window of his appointed rooms. Not wishing to mingle with the masses of students and other potentially undesirable individuals, he'd opted to stay at one of several properties he still owned in the area.

Strictly speaking, he didn't often come to this side of the country anymore. At least not since moving to New York, though there were times when it was warranted. The current event dictated the necessity of his being there, but he wasn't going to live in squalor while he was out there. No. Not even the richest suites were good enough, at least not on the security end. He much preferred to stay at one of his own buildings, where he knew who was watching his back.

"And how is everyone settling in?" he asked, blue tooth practically glued to his ear as he paced his living area. "Kally hasn't given you any problems, has she? No? Good." He settled on a couch, a glass of brandy in hand. "And how is Hiro doing? Anything I should worry about? Or anything I can help with? How's his PTSD?"

The man listened to Cass Hamada on the other end as she expressed concern over Hiro's more recent problems, mainly discovering the reactive reintegration issues. He pressed his lips together in a frown as he set his glass down on a convenient side table. "Hmm . . ." he mused. "I'm afraid that's not exactly something I'm familiar with, though I can tell you that having an episode can make you feel like you're reliving the moment. But I somehow get the impression this is somehow more involved."

It stood to reason that Hiro had kept a few things back from his aunt. After all, she'd been bombarded with a slew of information all too recently. He was probably trying to keep her from overloading. All the same, this new development was decidedly something to keep an eye on. "You'll let me know if it happens again, won't you? I'm not exactly sure what we can do about it, but I might have some people who can come up with a few ideas if things don't settle down."

The woman on the phone gave her thanks before he ended the call, slumping back into the sofa. More complications, he sighed. The poor kid had been through enough. And while he wasn't entirely sure yet who he'd have give the teen a look over, someone who he knew wouldn't exploit his or her findings, he was more than ready to give it a go if his aunt gave the okay. "When did life get so complicated?"

"When has life not been complicated, sir?" JARVIS spoke up from one of the integrated wall speakers. While he was technically stationed at Stark Tower, the AI could jump to pretty much any device he chose. And since Tony had a secondary butler looking after the Tower while he was away, he'd been more than willing to join his creator on this little venture.

Tony let out another sigh. "Good point." He retrieved his glass, downed its remaining contents and put the glass back down. "How do things look for tomorrow? Any problems I should be aware of?"

"Not as far as I can tell," JARVIS reported. "According to the camera feeds, everything appears to be in order. I cannot, however, accurately give information on the tunnel levels, as there seem to be fewer cameras in that area."

It was certainly a problem they needed to look into, Tony agreed. "Have a security team do a sweep before the doors open tomorrow," he instructed. "I don't want to have any repeats from earlier." Part of him still felt guilty about Hiro and Kally being kidnapped. He could have, should have, done more. And he'd be damned if he let anything slip again while on his watch.


Loki had to admit the penthouse was decidedly less crowded, less noisy, and definitely a much better place for conversation than the club below them. The fact that the devil went straight for the bar in the main area only confirmed his notion of the man being somewhat of an alcoholic, except it didn't seem to affect him the same way it did most individuals. He watched the man pour himself a drink before moving over to the matching grand piano gracing the center of the large room.

"I hope you don't intend to play me to death," he joked as Lucifer began playing a moving piece that was probably something from the Blues category of music. "I didn't think you invited me here to simply show off your musical talents."

Lucifer left off in the middle of a chord and swung away from the keyboard. "You're right," he agreed as he picked up his glass and moved to the more intimate seating arrangement near a set of windows looking out over the night sky. He sat down on one of the couches, indicating for Loki to join him. "I just happen to like music. It soothes me."

More than a little wary, Loki chose a seat across from his host and leaned towards the man. A coffee table stood between them. It gave them more than ample space between the both of them should anyone decide to make an unwanted advance. "Now, why don't you tell me what you wanted to talk about?" He resisted the urge to smooth back his hair, knowing every strand was in place.

The fallen angel leaned forward as well, staring intently into Loki's eyes. "What is it you desire?" he asked in an almost sultry voice. "What is your deepest, most secret desire?" His eyes seemed to take on an intensity they hadn't before and Loki couldn't help but feel somewhat drawn to them.

And then the moment was over as Loki blinked, offering a wry grin. "Is that supposed to elicit some kind of response? Make me confess my deepest, darkest desire? If so, it's obviously not working."

A look of frustration crossed Lucifer's face before he quickly schooled himself. "It would seem you are like the Detective in that my charms have no effect on you. How very interesting. The only reason I can possibly think of for this is that you were sent by my Father to torment me, or there's much more to you than meets the eye. I wonder which it is." He looked thoughtful as he settled back against the sofa's cushions.

Should he confess, Loki wondered. He was still far from sure about this man. And to think he'd only come down to Midgard to look into the affairs of Hiro and Kally! This particular venture was proving to be even more interesting. And the fact that the man before him had, in a way, tried to get into his head made it even more so. But should he tell him the reason his charms didn't work on him was because he wasn't human? Or should he continue to toy with him and hope to get away with it?

"I had Maze follow you, you know," Lucifer said quietly as he picked up his glass and watched the low light sparkle through its cut surface. "That's how I knew where to find you. She's very good at tracking down different people, though you didn't exactly make it difficult. I do hope you enjoyed the meal I sent you."

Well this was an interesting turn of events, Loki supposed. "I did," he admitted. "Though part of me now wonders if there might be some ulterior motive attached. A desired favor, perhaps?"

Lucifer seemed to contemplate his words before setting his still half-full glass back down on the coffee table. "I suppose it might seem that way," he confessed. "But I assure you I'm not looking for anything more than information. Why you're really here, for example." He crossed one leg over the other, all ease in appearance but business in tone.

"I came to see some friends of mine," Loki stated, sure this wouldn't cause too much trouble. "I know several of the students competing in the bot competition and wanted to cheer them on."

Lucifer uncrossed his legs and he leaned forward once more, elbows on his knees. "Oh!" His face lit up at this revelation. "I see. And which students might those be, if I may ask." Now they were getting somewhere.

It wasn't really a secret, though the god of mischief had hoped to keep a lower profile. Apparently that wasn't likely to happen. Well, so long as he didn't draw the attention of Banner or Stark, he supposed all would be well. "One Hiro Hamada and Kally Carmichael," he stated with only a hint of a smile.

The eyebrows on Lucifer's face rose at that. "Oh my indeed. And how, pray tell, did you make the acquaintance of such young people? I hope you're not some kind of pervert." Though the idea seemed to make him smile more than was perhaps appropriate.

Loki resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Nothing like what you're thinking, I'm sure." He readjusted his position on the chair he'd taken residence on, possibly checking the position of his hidden knives. "Let us just say we had a mutually beneficial meeting several months back and I wanted to check in on them."

Intrigued, the devil thought to ask more about the inciting incident but wisely chose to leave the topic alone. "Then I take it you'll be betting in their favor."

Even more amused, Loki smiled to himself. "While I don't mind a good bet, I didn't come here to gamble, merely to observe and return home."

"Well that's no fun," Lucifer pouted. "While it's not strictly legal, gambling does have its advantages, and I hear the odds of their winning are quite high, especially for tomorrow's match. And by in their favor I mean for anyone betting on them to win should the heavens see fit to grace them with a miracle. After all, who doesn't like to make a tidy profit?" He laughed after downing the rest of his drink.

Loki managed another wry smile at these antics. Let the man think what he'd like. He had his secrets and intuition too. And from what he'd observed, this man was far from typical. Well, if they were to continually run into each other, he might just figure out why he was so intriguing. But, for the moment, it was probably wiser to call it a night and said as much to his host.

"So soon?" Lucifer protested but didn't move to stop him. He did follow him as far as the bar, where he watched as Loki boarded the elevator, turning away as the doors closed. He would definitely have to keep an eye on that one, he decided.