Tony waited as patiently as possible for the call to go through, but let’s face it, he was Tony Stark, that really wasn't saying much. But he was old enough now that finally he could admit when he needed help. You know, a week after the fact at least. Yeah, Tony was seriously in over his head. But Thor could help. Thor was a freaking king with centuries of experience, if anyone could help it was the God of Thunder.
Finally, after a seemingly endless number of rings, Thor’s face appeared on the viewscreen. The king’s default happy grin faded when he saw Tony's stricken look.
“What’s wrong, Stark? Is it my brother? Is he in trouble?” Thor asked anxiously and if the situation had been slightly less dire, Tony would have laughed at how Thor’s brain went immediately to Loki being in trouble. Not that the older brother didn’t have good reason for that.
“He’s not in trouble, per say...” Tony started. But he was going to be very soon if he kept this shit up, his brain concluded. He chose not to share that part. Thor had been pretty awesome about his and Loki’s relationship, actually, considering he was the god’s big brother. Tony honestly got the feeling he was slightly more protective of him than Loki, but that might have something to do with wanting to keep the fragile mortal from breaking.
“What is he up to, Stark?” Thor sighed.
“At the moment?” Tony looked over at the god in question. Currently, he was in his usual shape, naked but for a pair of boxers. Three guesses what color they were. Normally, usual shape wouldn’t be a necessary qualifier when they were at Tony’s place, but Loki hadn’t been staying in that shape much lately. Tony had been a bit baffled by the dizzying speed at which Loki could move between different shapes and frankly, he never knew from one minute to another what his boyfriend would look like. It was exhausting. It was also just the tip of the iceberg.
Currently, said usual shape was completely ignoring Tony, listening to some music via headphones. He wasn’t dancing so much as swaying in, what Tony assumed was, time to the music as Loki had always had decent rhythm. Then again, Loki had always had a nice singing voice but as Tony was currently wincing at the sounds of Bohemian Rhapsody being butchered loudly and proudly, apparently nothing was a given anymore.
“What is that noise?” Thor asked, wincing as well.
“That’s Loki,” Tony responded with a sigh.
“Really?” Thor asked, puzzled. Apparently, Thor too missed Loki’s normally pleasing singing voice. Then a thought seemed to hit Thor and he sighed. “Is he drunk?”
“Got it in one, big guy!” Tony congratulated. “Now if you make it stop, I’ll buy you Norway. And I’m only like 25% kidding.”
“Loki was always entertaining when he would actually join us in imbibing. If you didn’t mind the tricks, of course. I can’t think of the last time he did, though. Was it really almost a century?” Thor looked wistful. That was less than helpful, kind of the opposite of what Tony was going for.
“Yeah, tricks are all well and good, for the first few nights. It’s been a week and it’s getting old.”
Thor went from looking wistful, to a bit nervous. “Yes, I can see where that would be a problem. There was this one time on Vanaheim that Loki...” Thor’s eye went wide, and he lowered his voice to a whisper. Of course, Thor’s whisper was about as loud as most people’s talking, but Tony was going to roll with it if it turned out to be at all helpful. “You don’t have any wine from Alfheim do you?”
“No...” Tony said. He suddenly hoped Loki didn’t have any stocked away in his pocket dimension.
“And you don’t have draugr on Earth, yes?” Thor continued.
“I don’t even know what those are, so we’re going to go with negatory.” Did Tony even want to know where Thor was going with this?
Thor beamed, “Then you should be fine.”
“Yeah, not helpful Thor. I was kinda looking for you to use the big brother mojo and get him to stop.”
“Stark, the last time I was able to force my brother to do something he didn’t want to do, we were twelve. Also, I'm sure he wanted to do it anyways; he just wanted someone to blame when it failed miserably.” Thor said, deadpan.
“Did it? Fail miserably I mean?” Tony asked.
“We never did see those ambassadors again,” Thor mused. Tony was going to take that as a yes.
“But you tricked Loki into coming to save Asgard against Hela.” Tony prodded.
“He told you that?” Thor asked.
“Begrudgingly, but yeah.” Tony said with a smirk.
Thor looked eminently pleased with himself; Tony was a little afraid of what Loki would do in retaliation when he found out. Oh well, as long as he was sober at the time. “Let me talk to my brother.”
“Loki, your brother’s on the phone for you!” Tony called, enjoying a heady wave of relief.
Tony was still facing the screen when he heard Loki approach. His stomach fell because it didn’t quite sound like bi-pedal steps. Resignedly, Tony looked down; instead of his boyfriend's normal sage green eyes, he met the blue eyes of a Husky. Dog-Loki, Loki-puppy? Damn it, nothing could beat Lokitty. Anyways, Loki was mostly grey, but with some black and white patches around his feet and face. His dog form had the gawky, not quite grown into the paws look of an adolescent. It made Tony’s heart clench, just a bit. He realized that when Loki had been a cat, he had also looked small and not quite grown. His animal shapes emphasized how young Loki was, proportionally, a thought that always made Tony ache when he thought about everything the god had gone through.
“No! I am not falling for it!” Tony shouted, and Loki whined. “You are not giving me literal puppy dog eyes right now. Talk to your brother.”
Loki turned his face to the view screen and Thor looked at him consideringly.
“Loki, Stark tells me you are making unnecessary mischief.” Thor said sternly. Then Loki whined again, and Thor stumbled over the next bit. “That you are causing trouble due to...”
Loki had turned the puppy dog look to eleven. He was now crouched down on his paws, looking up at Thor and whimpering. Tony didn’t need Thor’s helpless look to tell him that he had been beaten. Tony sighed, said a perhaps slightly too terse good bye to Thor, who wished him luck, and hung up. Loki got up then, suddenly completely overjoyed, the big faker, wagging his tail, his tongue flopping out in a doggy grin.
“You aren’t as cute as you think you are.” Tony accused. Loki barked a laugh and licked him on the hand before bounding off into the kitchen. When he got to the marble tile he went slipping and fell flat on his ass. Great, that was exactly what Tony needed, a drunk dog.
Tony needed to bring out the big guns. Pepper would know what to do.
“I don’t understand what you thought I could do.” Pepper huffed as she and Tony stared warily at Loki. Currently, the trickster was just sitting on the couch watching a cartoon. He was completely clothed, for a change, and looking deceptively innocent.
“Don’t be fooled; he’s a terror and he needs to be stopped.” Tony said, and Pepper rolled her eyes.
Seriously, he was all calm and watching cartoons right now. But he was watching something called Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was actually a really cute show and Tony wouldn’t have anything against it, except when Loki decided to imitate the elemental magic the characters did. Tony found himself drenched by a bubble of water that had been hovering over his head. Later, he was literally wrapped up in a project he had been working on when Loki bent the metal around him. He wasn't the slightest bit amused.
“He’s sitting quietly on the couch; are you sure he’s drunk?” Pepper asked. Then Loki giggled uncontrollably at something that happened on the screen. Pepper frowned. “Ok, you win. I believe he’s drunk. That was creepy. Terror seems a bit extreme, though.”
Tony detailed a bit of what he had been dealing with lately, the element bending, the singing at all hours, the chimera incident; Pepper’s face got more and more serious.
“Again, I ask, what do you expect me to do about it?” Pepper asked, looking at Loki more suspiciously now.
“Stop him! Get him to sober up! You’ve been practicing on me for years, it can’t be that hard.”
“Yes, because that’s always worked so well for me in the past. Just because I can generally manage you, does not mean I can manhandle the God of Mischief. He’s on a whole different level.”
“But he’s afraid of you! Seriously! If anyone could intimidate him, it would be you!”
“Have you tried just getting rid of all the liquor in your place?” Pepper offered. At Tony’s disparaging look she got defensive. “Hey! You wanted me to use my practice from you. It’s worked in the past.”
“Yes, because I don’t have magic to conjure up more booze. That was one of the first things I tried. Go yell at him or something.”
Pepper frowned at him, but she walked over to the couch to stare down at the lazy bastard. “Loki,” Pepper started in her best ‘if you keep on this path the company will suffer’ voice.
“Pepper!” Loki cooed in a voice that Tony couldn’t quite peg, but made him very leery. “I’m so glad you are here.”
“Really? Because Tony...” Pepper said, startled.
“Yes, Tony, exactly.” Loki said, getting up and sidling up to Pepper. “You were with Tony for quite a while, yes?”
“Yes...” Pepper said hesitantly, looking over at Tony with wide eyes when Loki took her hand and started stroking her knuckles. Tony couldn’t help, he didn’t know where Loki was going with this any more than Pepper did.
“So, you must be excellent in bed,” Loki asserted, flashing her a wide grin and invading her personal space by a few more inches.
“I don’t see where that is relevant to the situation.” Pepper stammered backing up to maintain a more comfortable distance. Loki allowed it, but held onto her hand, bringing it to his lips and looking at her through his long eyelashes with heavy lidded eyes.
“It can be, if you are interested?” The innuendo was quite clear. The innuendo definitely shouldn’t have been as much of a turn-on to Tony as it was. Nope, he was definitely not enjoying the pictures that invoked in his brain.
Pepper pulled away from Loki, still looking appalled and flustered and practically ran to the door, four inch heels be damned.
“He’s all yours, Mr. Stark.” She said just before she shut the door firmly.
Tony flopped onto the easy chair in tired frustration. Loki joined him shortly, laying slightly tilted so that his legs were thrown over one arm and his back resting against the other. This placed his ass right in Tony’s lap in a very pleasing position. Loki squirmed a little bit on the pretense of getting comfortable, but the knowing smirk on his face as Tony’s body took interest told the true story.
“Now that she’s gone, we can get to the real fun.” Loki said smugly.
“So, you weren’t serious about...” Tony trailed off, not quite wanting to name whatever it was that was going on there.
“Of course not. It just seemed like the most expeditious way to get her to leave.” Loki gave Tony his shark grin. “I don’t share.”
Well, that was... reassuring? Disappointing? Tony wasn’t completely sure. But Loki squirmed again in his lap and leaned over to start nibbling at Tony’s ear and he decided that it was a contemplation for a later date.
Tony woke up to the sound of the blender. The angry red letters on the clock told him that it was currently just past 4am. Tony groaned, trying to find some order of operations where he didn’t have to get up and confirm whatever ridiculousness Loki was currently doing. If that blender continued up, there was no way Tony was going back to sleep. Also, Tony was cursed with an unending curiosity and he just really needed to know what Loki was blending. So, Tony got up, threw on a pair of pants and shuffled into the kitchen. He squinted blearily at his boyfriend currently bopping around his much too bright kitchen. When he evaluated the situation and determined what Loki was making, Tony walked over to the elevator to go sleep on the couch in his shop. Loki was making fucking margaritas, at four in the morning.
Ok, he was upgrading the status of this whole thing to an emergency. And Tony knew just who to call in an emergency, in a few hours, after he got some actual sleep.
“I’m struggling with how this constitutes a medical emergency.” Bruce said calmly. Of course, he said everything calmly. It would take a heck of a lot more than drunk Loki to get Bruce’s blood pumping.
“He’s drunk, and he shouldn’t be, that’s medical-ish right?”
“Tony, I know we’ve had some conversations about not drinking too much, but getting drunk isn’t inherently bad. Heck, I wouldn’t mind being able to do it on occasion. With everything we’ve all been through, you two in particular, there’s nothing wrong with cutting loose and having some fun for a bit.” Bruce lectured.
Tony face-palmed. No one got it. He was so tired of having to explain why this was a problem. Loki wasn’t helping. He was all adorable and sweet drunk when other people were around. Ok, so currently he was playing Call of Duty, loudly cackling as he mowed through the competition, but still, nothing outwardly concerning at the moment.
“He’s been this way for more than a week straight. Do you know how much liquor it takes to keep a god drunk for more than a week straight? Because I can give you the amount down to the milileter at this point. And it’s not like Loki will drink the cheap stuff...”
“I don’t honestly believe that money is the issue here. I mean, how bad could drunk Loki be compared to drunk you?” Bruce said. Tony couldn't help but laugh as Bruce's face fell almost immediately as he considered his words.
“It’s Loki; it’s the crazy-pants God of Chaos completely uninhibited.” Tony couldn't help but drive the point home.
“Ok, I see your point.” Bruce said, and then he winced. “Actually, I would like to stop seeing your point.”
Tony scoffed. “It isn’t just sex, that I could deal with. Actually, that’s been one of the few fun things. I thought he was inventive before...” Tony trailed off at Bruce’s pained look. “Oh, yeah, you didn’t want to picture it. Anyways, it’s the tricks, the magic, the shapeshifting, the cussing, the dancing...”
“Loki curses?” Bruce said, frowning in confusion. It had been a bit of an eye opener for Tony as well. Not that Loki was always proper or anything, but he rarely cussed, before.
Bless his little attention whore, Loki conveniently chose that moment to express his displeasure at the video game he was playing, colorfully and inventively enough to make Tony blush. Bruce was practically radioactive, pun intended. Tony made a mental note to look up a few of those words; how Loki could manage that many syllables on that much booze was just impressive.
“Help,” Tony begged Bruce, but his friend started backing away from him with his hands up in surrender.
“This goes far above my purview.”
“Really? Mr. Seven PHD’s?”
“I don't think any of you understand how PHD's work.” Banner countered.
“You have no advice, nothing you can think of to do? I’m desperate.”
“Well, what did he say when you asked him about it?” Bruce asked.
Tony frowned at him. “Asked him about it?”
It was Banner’s turn to face-palm. “When you started getting frustrated and sat him down and asked him why he was refusing to sober up.”
“You think that would work?” Tony asked. Huh, talking about it. He’d tried tricks, lying, Big Brother guilt trip, Pepper yelling, but it hadn’t actually occurred to him to talk to Loki about it. It could work. “Huh, thanks Brucie! I’ll give that a shot.”
Banner left without a goodbye, which, rude. Tony chose to pretend that he didn’t hear Bruce muttering under his breath about gods and idiots and deserving each other as he left.
This was karma. Tony was being punished for all those years of being drunk, thinking he was fun and charming when he was really just being annoying and stubborn. So, the universe said, you’re getting someone even more stubborn and annoying, in fact I’ll give you the god of stubborn and annoying. And now, Tony had to try to have a rational conversation with said god while he was highly intoxicated. There was no way this wouldn't succeed. The god in question grabbed Tony as he was walking up to where Loki was seated on the chair, and pulled his mortal onto his lap, grinning at him with his eyes slightly out of focus.
“Loki, this is enough. Seriously, it’s been a week and a half, aren’t you exhausted by now?” Tony sighed.
“Nope,” Loki laughed and started kissing Tony’s neck.
As good as that felt, he was not going to be sidelined by sex, not again at least. Tony grabbed Loki’s shoulders and pulled him off. Tony arranged them so that they were sitting side by side on the over-sized chair, facing one another. “Hey, I get having fun as much as the next guy, but honestly I want the man I love back.”
Loki looked at him, confused. “I’m right here, but you are currently halting the loving part.” Loki tried to lean in for a kiss again, but Tony was not to be deterred.
“That’s not what I mean. I miss talking, the witty banter. I miss the guy who looks at me like I am an idiot when I talk about some rule of the universe that he’s been breaking for centuries. I miss working in the lab together.”
“Do you want to go down to the lab? We can do that!” Loki started to get up, but Tony pulled him right back down.
“No!” He shouted, maybe a bit too loud as Loki winced. Tony’s heart was racing at just the thought of letting a drunk god of chaos into his lab, again. “Are you seriously so drunk that you don’t understand what I am getting at?”
Tony saw something then in Loki’s eyes, some flicker of understanding. Loki’s manic grin faded a bit. “No, I understand you.”
“Great, so let’s come back down to Earth for a bit, huh? We’ve celebrated. Yay us! Time to start on real life, together.” Relief was starting to flood Tony’s body, finally this crazy little spree would be over.
Loki’s smile was completely gone, replaced with a look of uncertainty that made Tony a bit nervous. Loki took a breath, opened his mouth as if he was going to say something and then shook his head, a smile returning to his features. “Nope!” He said and pulled a wine bottle out of nowhere, which for Loki was literal, taking a long swig.
“Nope, just nope? Why not, Loki? Seriously?” Tony barked, unable to contain his frustration.
Loki got out of the chair then, backing away from Tony with a look of fear. For a crazy moment, Tony thought Loki was afraid of him; he hadn’t been that harsh, had he?
“I can’t, Tony. I’m sorry, I just can’t.” Loki said before teleporting away.
The realization hit Tony like a freight train. Loki wasn’t celebrating; he was hiding. Tony just had no idea what he was hiding from.
Tony was in bed, alone, again. He wasn’t sleeping, his brain was too busy for that. He just couldn’t figure out what Loki’s problem was. Thanos was gone, that had been the whole reason behind this one-man rave, or so Tony thought. After they had won, Loki had kissed him breathless, told Tony he loved him and then said he was going to be drunk for weeks. He had vowed it, Loki said. Tony had laughed then; it wasn’t so funny now. That look of fear that had fought through the haze of liquor wasn’t about breaking some vow. There was something else going on. But again, with Thanos destroyed, Tony couldn’t imagine what Loki could possibly be hiding from.
An arm slipped around Tony’s waist and a long, lean body pressed up against his back, pulling Tony from his thoughts.
“Still not in the mood, Loki.” Tony growled.
“Neither am I, Stark.” Loki responded, in a roughened yet rational voice.
Tony turned around to regard his boyfriend. There was a furrow between Loki’s eyebrows speaking of a headache. His mouth was pulled down into a frown. The green eyes were red-rimmed and watery, but clear and intent. All signs pointed to a sober Loki for the first time in what felt like forever.
“Welcome back,” Tony said as he pressed a kiss to Loki’s wrinkled brow.
“I never left,” Loki huffed petulantly.
“Beg to disagree,” Tony said and there was silence for a while at that.
“I’m sorry,” Loki said finally.
Tony shrugged, not really sure how to respond to that. Loki didn’t like apologizing any more than Tony did. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Loki sighed and rolled over. Tony’s frustration welled up again, knowing that Loki would just take off and get drunk again to avoid a simple question. But Loki didn’t get up. In fact, while he did roll over to face away from Tony, he scooted back across the sheets until they were pressed up against each other again. It was Tony’s turn to put an arm around Loki’s waist. Frustration turned to worry. Whatever Loki was going to say, he didn’t want to look Tony in the face when he said it. That couldn’t be good. Tony suppressed the urge to press Loki for answers and waited for the god to talk again.
“I don’t know what to do,” Loki said finally.
Ah, so that was it. Thanos was destroyed and Loki didn’t know what to do with the rest of his life. Everything for the last few years had been leading up to this and now he was lost. Well, a place in the world was something Tony could give him, wanted to give him.
“That’s easy. You move in with me and join the Avengers.” The world already knew about his part in defeating Thanos. They saw him as redeemed. A hero. And he really was.
Loki started laughing at that, which kind of pissed Tony off actually. What was so wrong with all of that? Did Loki not want to live with him? Was all this getting drunk to avoid Tony? Was it over that quickly? Tony tried to stifle the immediate fear that Loki would leave him; he needed to let Loki answer first.
“I will never be one of your little troupe of superheroes, Stark. I am not a 'good guy'.” Tony opened his mouth to argue, but Loki shook his head. “This isn’t about that. I know where I belong. I belong teaching magic to the children of New Asgard; I belong helping my brother lead our people; I belong with you, though I do not need you to save me.”
Tony could see no arguments there, despite Loki’s avoidance of the topic of moving in together.
“I love you,” Tony said then.
“And I you,” Loki responded immediately, and Tony let out a pleased sigh. “That is the problem.”
Tony felt a wave of unease sweep over him. He had no idea where this was going, but he didn’t like it.
“You almost died; Thanos could have killed you.” Loki said, grabbing Tony’s hand in a crushing grip. Tony didn’t even attempt to pull his hand away, though.
“But I didn’t. You fixed me up with your awesome healing magic.” Tony reassured, moving his other hand to card through Loki’s hair soothingly.
“But my magic can’t stop you from aging.” Loki said, and Tony’s stomach dropped. Oh yeah, that. “Even if I am there for every hurt you take, which isn’t possible in itself, I will still lose you in less than half a century.”
“Much less, most likely.” Tony couldn’t help adding. Between all the surgeries, the drinking and everything else he’s done to his body, he would be lucky to make it to eighty. So that was what Loki was so worried about. Tony wanted to soothe the guy, but how? Nothing he said would change the facts of the situation. Tony would die sooner rather than later, and Loki would go on living for millennia more.
“Not that I like this idea, or anything, but you aren’t alone. There are lots of people who live as long as you do.” Tony said hesitantly.
Loki snorted. It was his ‘you are missing the point, stupid mortal’ snort. Loki’s noises weren’t nearly as expressive as his eyebrows, but this was a common enough one for Tony to interpret.
“I don’t want anyone else. I love you.” Loki said possessively. Ok, serious discussion aside, that sent a trickling of warmth down to Tony’s toes. It was a heady feeling, especially knowing that for all the years Loki had lived, this was the first time he had ever felt this way.
“And there is nothing your magic can do?” Truth be told, Tony had never really contemplated living for five thousand years, but he couldn’t say that the thought didn’t hold any appeal. He could only imagine what he’d be able to accomplish with that much time, he really would be like a god. Tony groaned internally, yeah, that was just what he needed, a more than sixty times longer lifespan for his ego to grow.
“That’s the problem, I don’t know. Possibly, but it wasn’t something I had ever looked into previously and any research on the matter was destroyed with Asgard.”
“There’s nowhere else that might have books on it? Even those more magic-y places you’ve talked about? Elf-world and Vana-someplace?”
“Alfheim and Vanaheim.” Loki laughed. “It’s possible. I may be able to find something there if I could visit the royal libraries, but I’m considered to be both dead and a criminal, so the likelihood of being allowed is slim. I also can’t get in secretly as they are warded. Trust me, I’ve tried.”
“Maybe Thor could help you get in? A pardon from the King of Asgard has got to be influential right?”
More snorting. “Thor would just LOVE that. I’d never recover from the humiliation.” But Loki got quiet and Tony knew that he was thinking about it, working up how he could get what he wanted from his brother without admitting to anything he considered shameful. Tony would leave him to it. There was just one more thing.
“Why is this coming up now? I mean, we’ve been together for almost a year. This couldn’t be the first time you’ve thought about this.” Tony was going to ignore the fact that it was the first time HE had really thought about it.
“Actually, I hadn't thought about it until that last day I spent with you, before leaving to go back to New Asgard to get ready for the gathering at the compound.” Yeah, Tony remembered that night very clearly. He would even if it hadn’t been just a few weeks ago. He was pretty sure he’d remember it for the rest of his life. Tony hummed his agreement that he remembered so that Loki would continue. “It was the first time I really admitted to myself that I loved you. It was the first time I considered that I might live in a time when Thanos was no longer a threat.”
Tony squeezed Loki more tightly to him, not sure what he could offer other than himself. They would figure it out. They always did. There may be a lump in his throat and his stomach may be unsteady, but now he knew what was going on. It didn't necessarily change anything. He wouldn’t even pretend that he would no longer have a crazy, difficult, maddening God of Mischief to contend with. Loki would do exactly as he wished, even if it drove his mortal bonkers. Tony wouldn’t have it any other way.