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Doomed to Fall

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Tony thought he knew everybody, knew every face in New York but he learned soon, that this wasn’t the case. He was only a kid. He seven years old, face still chubby and red, the nose too small for his face and the eyes too big to be considered a pretty child. But he was a sweet boy.

He loved with his whole heart. Never forgot to water the plants and greeted his parents each morning with, “Morning, Dad. Morning, Mom.” And said it with all his love.

Because Tony loved his parents very much. They were distanced at times but they were his parents.

But he didn’t know this lanky young boy with too fine features. He looked ethereal to Tony, the pale skin, the dark hair; Tony thought he was pretty. New, pretty and that all meant this was to be an exciting encounter.

It turned out that this boy was already eighty-seven years old and that boggled Tony’s mind quite a lot.

Loki, that was his name as he told him in a breaking voice, a definite sign of puberty, was an Aesir and they aged differently than the humans did. Although Loki used the word ‘Midgardians’.

Loki was funny. He smiled and he had dimples and he was pretty. Tony decided from day one on that Loki was going to be his best friend forever because he made him smile and laugh and paid attention to him. More attention than his dad or mom did.

But that wasn’t their fault, they simply were busy with being adults and they had to focus on that. It hurt. But now, now he had Loki and his address and every second day, a raven would land on his window bench, a letter in its claws.

It was a strange occurrence to have a raven deliver letters but Tony got used to it quickly.

Especially when he learned that Loki was apparently a person of great importance on his realm. There were Nine Realms they knew of. Earth being one of them. Although it only got called Earth by the humans, other races called it Midgard. Jarvis had said that this was just translation and he said to Germany ‘Germany’, didn’t he? And the people there called it ‘Deutschland’.

Sometimes it just was like that. Because of that, Tony decided to learn more languages so he could one day understand why that was the case.

Loki encouraged him in his behaviour. Urged him on to write what he had learnt so they could talk even in other languages because Loki now wanted to learn those as well. Loki eventually started to send him books and the ravens glared at Tony.

It didn’t even occur Tony once that speaking raven were not the norm, more of an exception.

A beautiful one but it still made his mother cry when she heard them speak.

She only wanted to ask of Tony why he had stolen bacon from the fridge and sneaked it up to his room, a bottle of water hidden beneath his shirt. She thought Tony knew he didn’t have to steal food or drinks. They had enough and Jarvis and Ana would be more than happy to make him a proper dinner should he wish for one.

But when she entered her son’s room, two ravens munched on the food Tony offered to them and croaked their thanks in old voices.

“Tony!”

“Yes?” he asked, with his kidlike innocence.

“Do you know,” she asked and Maria’s voice trembled when the golden raven eyes focused on her, “who those two are?”

Tony nodded happily. “It’s Huginn and Muninn,” he declared proudly and let one of the raven nibble at his fingers. “They brought Loki’s present to me.”

Loki, she thought, and her knees went weak and wobbly. Loki, Huginn and Muninn.

She pressed a hand to her face, taking deep calming breaths and tried to relax.

Tony didn’t know probably. They didn’t cover royalty in the third grade just yet. Otherwise, he would know who he was conversing with and what getting a book from a prince meant.

“It is nice to meet you,” Maria addressed the ravens, trying to take control over the situation despite not feeling like that. “I know my son meant well with the bacon but can I offer you some other refreshments as well? I imagine carrying such a valuable book costs effort and energy and I would not wish to send you back hungry.”

When the ravens voiced their agreements, Maria left and went to bring some more food to the ravens from Odin All-Father. She shook still with her discovery.

Apparently Tony had met Loki when Lady Frigga had been here for an interplanetary diplomacy visit and had brought her boys with her.

And Howard, a weapon manufacturer had requested a meeting. Because he wanted to get his hands on new material, to make better, stronger, nearly invincible weapons.

That had been the reason why the Lady Frigga also stopped by their house for preparing the way for a deal that would enable America's victory. Tony had not supposed to be there but apparently, he sneaked his way back in the house somehow and met Loki.

Maria sighed and accepted that her son already now was entangled with politics she had wanted to spare him from.

She’d need to talk to Howard about getting a private teacher for Tony. Their boy couldn’t remain unaware, least he insulted the prince of Asgard unknowingly.

 

Far away from being troubled and worried was Tony.

He picked up the book Loki had sent him and read it. It was about great stories from Asgard and Loki had written a small note for him in the beginning, hoping Tony would enjoy this book as much as he had. He wanted Tony to learn more about his culture.

Of course Tony loved it. That was the reason why he sent to Loki some of his favourite comic books about The Punisher, Superman and Ivy Poison and Harley Quinn. Loki loved them as well, claiming he had never such intriguing books before and then multiples of them-? It was astonishing.

Loki asked shyly for more and Tony obeyed, sending more of the heroes and villains’ adventures, wanting to make his friend happy.

When a delegation of Asgard came to Earth a few months later, Loki was with them. An excited grin spread over his face and he hugged Tony tightly.

By now Tony was aware of who Loki was, but he didn’t necessarily care about that because Loki was Loki and not Prince Loki when they interacted. He still was Tony’s best friend and that was what counted, in his opinion.

Maria watched them with a fond smile on her lips and told them to go playing in Tony’s rooms. Offered the Einherjar to bring coffee and cake to whoever would be babysitting the boys and warned them to keep Tony away from his experiment box.

Tony loved it way too much and when the boys got along so well, Tony would want to share it with Loki and then they would all be drawn into a great chaos. It wasn’t that of a great thought.

And like that, time passed and Tony grew up, became a teenager and Maria’s heart ached whenever she looked at him. He was starting to mature, and he was so bright, it occasionally scared her big. Tony went to MIT and worked in electronics and physics, growing into the young man Maria had always seen in him.

~O~

Tony was happy in his university.

Loki and he still had contact but they had switched a long ago to phones, sending each other gifts with the normal post. The time that had passed since they had met had been a fun and entertaining one. They both had grown remarkably close and always Loki came down to Midgard to visit him when Howard had a deal to propose to Asgard.

But what Tony hadn’t taken into consideration was that his friendship with Loki could also be taken advantage of.

Tony didn’t know and had told his parents of some stories Loki had shared with him. They were hilarious and too adorable and made Tony want Loki to be with him on Earth so they could do some great mischief together.

But sadly, Loki was stuck on Asgard and Tony on Earth. Maria listened with a happy smile, made Tony feel appreciated. Howard’s smile was warm but calculating.

Tony later realised that it had been Howard’s business smile. The one he put on when a new gossip was being shared that could possibly help him out and he listened closely. It hadn’t been a smile out of happiness that his son had found a friend.

Obadiah was worse but he laughed the loudest, made the snarkiest comments and complimented Loki’s skills always as the first in the round.

Tony adored Obi for that. He was looking forward to the day where he could introduce Loki to his godfather because Obi was that awesome. And Loki already had expressed his interest in the man as well.

Stark Industries created great and even more horrible weapons quicker than ever and so it was of no surprise to Tony when his father grew more and more absentminded from him.

He had Loki and Obi, so it was okay, he tried to tell himself at nights when his room was clouded in darkness and only the clock was ticking and cars driving by.

And Obi ensured that Tony always had the afternoon off when they knew Loki would come visiting. He then would soothe Tony’s hurt away when Tony realised that he never would be able to visit Loki on his home planet.

Because Asgard was forbidden for Midgardians – too short-lived or whatever.

Tony cried in those big shoulders, wetting the white, neatly ironed shirts and tried to see the positive side of it. Now he would never have to suffer seeing Asgard’s golden façade Loki absolutely detested and wanted to have coloured creamy white. Tony always sent white sprays to Loki on his birthday.

But time passed differently on Asgard then on Earth so Tony sent more gifts in one year to Loki but he was fine with that.

He sent small packages and Huginn and Muninn were visibly happy and pleased because of that. They both had quickly taken a likening to Tony, especially when he fed them with Jarvis’ awesome bacon. Straight from the pan when Tony managed to steal some when Jarvis wasn't looking. Obi told him to invent and have fun at MIT, visited often as well.

It made Tony feel loved by his godfather. And he was always happy to share Loki’s tales to someone who’d loved them as much as he did. Obi’s smile always flashed with white teeth and his eyes crinkled pleasantly and his laughter was thundering through the student’s floor.

When Tony was still at MIT, his parents died in a horrible car crash.

Loki got the permission to came down to Tony and soothe him in his grief.

Tony was twenty-one. Loki was already in his nine hundreds. Time flew by fast on Asgard, Tony noticed only then and shit was he glad for that. He wouldn’t have known what to do with Loki had he still been a young teenager.

With them both being older, it was … better. When Tony’s grief calmed and soothed and he only felt a lingering touch of sadness, he started to focus on the living again, leaving the dead behind. Even though it still hurt. But he had his friend with him and he was better. Even got along well with Rhodey who was here when the army allowed him to stay in America for a while.

But Tony got to spend some more amazing weeks with Loki. Now that he wasn’t grieving anymore, he did what he was doomed to do -

to fall in love with his best friend who made him laugh more than anyone else and was there to hold his hand when the movies turned too fluffy.

Loki’s hands were cool and felt so good against Tony’s and fuck why had they chosen this sappy movie? They were singing and Tony had been an emotional wreck for days. So leaning into Loki, hiding his face in Loki’s neck and breathing his scent in was the perfect opportunity to think about them being more.

Loki smelled wonderful.

But, as a prince of Asgard Loki couldn’t stay here forever on Earth and Tony had known that. He thought he was prepared but it seemed like he wasn’t. Tony … had not been prepared. Although he knew that Loki would still send letters, gifts and would skywalk to him in a heartbeat should he be in trouble and need his friend, it felt like he was losing everything again.

When Loki got beamed up in the rainbow ray, Tony knew his heart went with his favourite Aesir and no J&Bs on all the Realms would be able to stop his hurt or ease his pining. He was doomed to a love where there would be no reciprocation.

Loki was aging with him but he also was so much older. He had experienced already so much more and his shoulders were heavy with expectations Odin All-Father had set upon him.

Tony grieved for the love he wanted but couldn’t have. Stuffing pizza in his face, signing documents his PA held out to him and walking from one day to the next like in a haze. It was horrible. And the reason why he turned to his bar, held up several glasses in the dimming light and decided to drink them.

~O~

Loki wasn’t here. Loki would probably come to stop by in a few days when he was off and Tony was looking forward to it as much as he was dreading it. And when his liver turned blue and his tongue felt heavy but green eyes were gone from his mind.

Obi found him in his apartment.

“It’s going to be alright,” Obi said and put him in the bathtub, peeling away Tony’s sweater and washed away the vomit from his face. “I know it hurts, my boy, but that is what being an adult is about.”

Tony remembered those words and gentle blue eyes, then his memory gave up and he found himself in his bed the next day. His head hurt.

“Shh, Tony.” A glass with water was held under his nose and Obi looked concerned at him. “Please, drink this.”

“Why does it hurt so much?” Tony whispered and put the glass to his lips. Obi shrugged and patted his head gently.

“I don’t know, my boy. I’m sorry.”

Tony nodded, sighed and dropped back onto the bed. “Can I refuse and give the feelings back?” he asked, not entirely serious.

“I don’t think it works like that.” Obi laughed quietly and sat down on the bed as well. “If you want to, you can tell me what’s up with you,” his godfather offered him then, voice gentle and comforting.

“Please, even if it’s only because you cut your finger, Tony. Call me, text me, let me know what’s up with you.” Tears shimmered in Obi’s eyes and Tony sat up on his elbows, taken by surprise. “I know you have lost your parents in the car crash,” Obi mumbled, “but I also have lost my friends and you are their son, Tony. And my godson. You are important to me and I do not wish to lose you, alright?”

“Obi,” Tony mumbled, feeling guilty already.

“Promise me.” Tony nodded then threw his arms around Obi and cried again.

He was a fucking Stark, he shouldn’t cry. He wasn’t allowed to cry.

A Stark was made out of iron, not waterfalls. “I’m so sorry,” he sobbed and held onto his godfather. “I won’t … I-“

“It’s okay.” Obi didn’t sound much better than him. They cried like real men and Tony felt better for it.

Afterwards, Obi ordered in ice-cream and popcorn, water and offered Tony again his shoulder and his ears, open for all trouble he wanted to get off his chest.

“I think I fell in love with Loki,” Tony mumbled and he felt himself blush. “You think?” Obi asked, amusement colouring his voice.

“My boy, Maria and I suspected for a while already you had feelings for your friend.” Tony’s jaw dropped open.

“You-, you knew?”

“We’re not blind, my boy,” Obi laughed and cracked open the vanilla ice-cream. “You always looked so happy when you were staring down at your phone and whenever you mentioned Loki, you were so content.”

“I didn’t even realise until a few days ago,” Tony confessed and opened the chocolate ice-cream. “It was-“ he hesitated visibly but Obi encouraged him to go on with a friendly shoulder-nudge. “He was there for me. Has always been. And his support in the last few weeks and being able to spend so much time with him,” Tony shrugged, “I don’t know. I realised from one moment to the next that there might be more than friendship for Loki.”

“That’s adorable,” Obi cooed.

“No,” Tony groaned and ate another spoon. “It’s not. It’s stupid and useless.”

“No, it isn’t.” Obi smiled. “I’m pretty sure you feel great whenever you think about what Loki’s been up to right now, aren’t you?”

“I do,” Tony confessed and smiled for the first time.

“Then tell me what you think Loki is up to,” Obi laughed and so Tony did.

He hadn’t known he was signing his own downfall with that. He was only glad to have someone on his side who was open to hear him talk about Loki. Have him describe his many talents or that he could share his excitement about the latest gift.

He felt a bit like a teenie girl with her first big crush. But doing this felt good and made his stomach do many loops and Tony adored the feeling so much. It made him feel better and let him forget the pain, let him think of Loki even more – the green intense eyes and the silky black hair.

And when Loki eventually came by again, rolling his eyes over Thor’s idiotics, Tony was happy.

He used the chance to learn even more about Loki. Put him in his sweaters because leather in summer was a horrible idea. And Tony wasn’t ashamed to admit that he hid the sweater when Loki went to shower in the evenings in his cupboard and brought Loki a new one afterwards. He wanted his things to smell of Loki.

And that they did.

They smelled of pine and lemon and Loki, and sticking his face into his sweaters wasn’t weird in the slightest, no. It was completely normal and he behaved like any true man with twenty-one would do. Pining in his bedroom, a scented sweater serving as his pillow and pining for a man he couldn’t have.

He should sell his story to Hollywood. Tony fell deeper and deeper for his friend. He never admitted his feelings, only let them happen on the inside. But he cherishing each of Loki’s visits even more.

JARVIS was evolving and learning, Obi became fast his most trusted person. There was nothing he wouldn’t not share with his godfather. Not even Loki knew everything. That was only Obi’s honour and duty.

“What’s happening in Gods' land this week?” Obi often asked him after a meeting. His hand clasped Tony’s shoulder and put a cup with steaming coffee in his hands.

“Loki’s going on a hunt with Thor this weekend,” Tony replied and smiled even when he didn't feel like it. “As they do every year around this time. Thor wants to find and kill the white stag, I suppose.”

“Oh.” Obi looked genuinely sad. “Wasn’t he supposed to visit you this weekend?”

Tony nodded and took a sip of his coffee. “Yes. But Thor insists on Loki joining him and he can’t decline because he wants to visit me.” Tony snorted angrily and the urge in him rose to punch Thor in his delicate face. That wasn’t that delicate anymore, according to Loki.

“I’m sorry, my boy.” Tony shrugged.

“It’s not your fault. I’ll probably go and have a workshop binge this weekend instead. Maybe next weekend then.”

“How much time will have passed for Loki until then?” Obi sounded curious.

“I’m not sure.” Tony licked his lips. “A few weeks but at most only two months.”

“You still haven’t figured out how the time-relation is between the realms?”

Tony shook his head. “Nope.”

“I hope you do it soon,” Obi said and squeezed his shoulder comfortingly. “I only wish you the best in the world, Tony.”

“I know, Obi,” Tony replied softly and smiled at his godfather.

~O~

Life had been fine. Although Tony would have spent the whole weekend in his workshop, pretending he wasn’t jealous or hurt that Loki wasn’t with him. He kept his phone constantly unlocked and waited for new messages to drop in. He didn’t expect Einherjar to land on his Tower’s roof and break into his workshop.

Tony had let them in. Stupid of him, he knew that but-

For a second he thought that Loki had been hurt and that was why he got no messages and no news either and the Einherjar were here to tell him of Loki’s death. Panic made his brain do stupid things sometimes.

He was too caught up in his panic to think about why then there was a whole group of them, weapons drawn.

But he realised something was wrong when they tackled him to the floor, pulled at his arms and he screamed in pain.

The Einherjar didn’t say a single word. They remained silent, but their postures spoke of pure anger and rage even when their grim faces wore a smirk. Tony wanted to yell for JARVIS. Tell him to do something, to alert Obi, to alert Rhodey. But it was hopeless when a guard put a gag around him in such a fast movement Tony couldn’t even follow.

He was bound. He was defeated. He couldn’t do anything, only remain silent and when he tried to struggle because a Stark wouldn’t give up like that -

A blade was put to his neck.

It was cold and sharp and Tony whimpered behind the gag.

“Remain silent, Midgardian,” the Einherjar with the blade hissed and spit flew from his mouth, it landed directly on Tony’s face. It was sticky and warm. He wanted to vomit. What was going on here? He didn’t understand – and they didn’t explain.

“Or I will slit your throat open to rip out your vocal cords.” The grin that followed those words were so dark, Tony felt fear rise in him and he ceased his struggling. Maybe it was better to wait and find out what happened.

Maybe.

But getting pulled up to his own rooftop, no one there to help him, his phone forgotten and silent in his workshop –

Tony knew he was on his own. There would be no Obi to help him out, no Loki skywalking to him for a rescue attempt.

The Einherjar remained in complete silence when the rainbow ray engulfed them, beaming them up to -

 

Asgard.

Tony swallowed. Eyes went wide. Fingers started to tremble in the shackles. Humans were forbidden from entering Asgard.

They were never supposed to see the golden palace where Odin All-Father sat and ruled over them all, where Frigga All-Mother took care of them. Where Loki lived. Something had gone very wrong.

And when there was no sound from Heimdall, only dark glares and a hateful snarl, Tony knew he had been sentenced to doom again.

~O~

To say, Loki was in shock was an understatement. He had been on the hunt with Thor, having to stand Anthony up for this nonsense.

He had texted him that the hunt so far was boring and he’d rather spent his weekend with him but fate didn’t will it so. And neither did Thor.

Thor didn’t listen when he said the stag would also be there while Loki was on Midgard. Alas, his stubborn fool of a brother resolutely and vehemently denied his request with a “No, Loki.” Loki wanted to stab him with a dagger for that.

He had not enough days with Anthony already as it was and the short trips he managed, they – they weren’t enough.

They only made him crave more time with his mortal, never got enough of him. Seeing him laugh made Loki feel good and it was a shame, a bloody shame Anthony had not been born as an Aesir. Otherwise, Loki would have asked him already for the chance to court him openly and not in secret as he did. His heart throbbed whenever he came to visit Anthony.

Because Loki had figured out a while back that Anthony reciprocated his feelings. The sweaters were no accident and Loki wore them gladly when it would help his friend.

Loki himself was suffering quietly as well. Didn't want to say anything because who knew what future held in store for him? If there wasn’t a political marriage on the horizon? If there was, Loki would have no chance to avert it, would have to bend his back and obey the All-Father’s word. Even if it would break him.

He stole small trinkets from Anthony.

Things he rarely used but reminded Loki of Anthony.

A screwdriver every six years (for Loki), a wristwatch every five. A memory Loki would print out in one of the stores where he and Anthony were smiling and happy. When Loki looked at them, he could pretend they had a chance of being more. He'd confess his feelings and finally get the kiss he’d been desiring for centuries.

It hurt so much and there was no possibility he’d ever gain what he wanted. Circumstances were far too complex for this.

And then they had been ambushed on the hunt.

An arrow had flown straight at Thor’s head. Only a green shield, constructed by his seiðr, had preserved his brother from a quick death. Then the mercenaries had come forward-

Arrows had flown around and blades had flashed up in the sunlight and the white stag had fled the bloody scenery.

Heimdall had sent the Einherjar to them who arrested the mercenaries. They had taken Thor in their midst, brought him back to the palace more protected than ever before.

And it had not been all for this day. Because under torture each of their captives had spit out “Stark!” and Loki’s heart had gotten broken again.

Because it made no sense.

Why would Anthony want to kill Thor? He already despised being the CEO of his business. Why would he then kill the heir of Asgard when he knew what consequences this would entail? Loki didn’t believe them.

He didn’t and he told this his father, who only shook his head and sent the Einherjar to collect Anthony from his home. Wanted to have him brought here to face the trial of the Thing and Odin.

Loki screamed. He was lost in his feelings, in what had happened, what was going to happen.

Tony was innocent. Loki knew that. But then… the mercenaries had said ‘Stark’.

Only 'Stark' could mean many things but Loki had to accept that the information probably came from Anthony. But he would have never given out the information of their hunt voluntarily or with a dark intention.

Maybe someone had hacked his phone. Had seen what Loki had written.

He licked his lips, nervous like he’d last been when he first visited Anthony. Should he admit his own role as the source of Tony’s information? Loki closed his eyes in defeat. This would only lead to him being brought to the dungeon as well, maybe they would put him in Anthony’s cell. He chuckled dryly.

If they granted them that small favour, Loki would not hesitate to kiss his friend. To mark him as his and tell him of his feelings, make him forget where they were and what was awaiting them.

Because treason on Asgard was only met with either a full pardon or an execution. There was nothing in between.

Either stay faithful to Asgard or die, was the simple rule here and all abided to it.

And before Loki really had formed a plan in his mind, the Einherjar were already announcing their glorious arrival. And pulled Anthony into the throne room.

Loki only could stand there, hide his trembling hands and suffer through hearing Odin condemning his love to death. Because the proof was too grave and nobody could say anything in Anthony’s defence.

Oh, how Loki wanted to run towards him. Pull him in his arms, take the shackles off and whisk them far away, where nobody would find them and they could live there until forever. But no toe got moved and no hand was raised and so Anthony was truly sentenced to die.

And when his eyes closed in defeat and a weak smile sent his way, Loki felt his resolve crack.

When they led him away, the doors sounding heavy and final, Loki broke.

“You’re crying for a criminal, Loki?”

“No,” Loki replied and tears ran down his face.

“I’m crying for my friend you sentenced to death.”

“He ordered to have your brother killed, Loki. Surely you must know that I can show him no mercy.”

Loki shook his head, not even bothering to wipe away the tears. “Anthony would never do that, father. You have to trust me, please.” His voice started to sound like begging but if it helped, Loki would continue. “I have known him for centuries. Anthony isn’t always aware of what is considered proper and what not, but he knows where the boundaries between madness and downfall are and he always, always stays on the good side.”

“You can’t know that, Loki.” Odin sounded tired. “Maybe it is a ruse. Maybe he only wanted to get close to you so he could eventually kill Thor and –“

“He’d never!” Loki’s shoulders shook and the seiðr crackled dangerously.

“Loki,” Odin said and put Gungnir down. “I don’t know your friend. I only know him from what you told me and my son, that isn’t enough. Even when he’s dear to you and means everything for you, we don’t know if he wanted-“ Odin stopped.

“What?”

Odin sighed heavily. “Loyalty, Loki.”

His smile was sad and he stood up, Gungnir still laying on the floor. “Maybe he did it out of loyalty for you.”

Shock. That was the closest thing Loki felt. “No.” Desperation came up in him. “Anthony is loyal to me, yes,” and wasn’t that just the best thing ever to feel, to experience? “But he’d never hurt Thor. He doesn’t know him but he knows Thor is important to me. Other reasons aside, this is one that I can assure is true.”

“Then I am even more sorry, Loki.” Odin drew in a shaking breath. “But I can’t lift the sentence without proof and the people want to see someone hanged for daring to attack Asgard. And if I just release him like that, they will question our authority.”

“Father!”

“I know, Loki.” Odin pulled him in for a hug and Loki didn’t want it but at the same time, he needed it and he needed it right now. “But being a king entails more than sitting on a throne and passing laws. It also means that you have to sentence the ones you love to a cruel fate.”

“That’s not fair,” Loki gasped and his voice trembled.

“It isn’t.”

“Then why do you do it?”

“Because the people need to have faith in their monarchs, Loki. And it is better when they see us suffer than when we put them through misery. Then we’re only as long happy and live in peace as they are content with our rule.”

“I hate it.”

“I hope that one day you can forgive me for doing this to you, Loki.”

Loki looked up and he felt himself getting weaker when his father’s eyes were brimming with tears.

“I would never wish such a fate upon my boys, taking away their love and breaking their hearts.”

“And yet you are doing it,” Loki hissed, feeling anger welling up in him.

Odin nodded. “There are rules even I have to bend to, my son.”

“Don’t call me your son when you’re doing this to me!” With that, he pushed Odin away. “Don’t call me your family when you know what you’re doing.” Loki turned away and walked out, following his heart down to the dungeons.

Odin didn’t say another word, stayed back in the throne room, having just torn his family apart.

Gungnir laid on the floor, silver, and threatening, promising and even emptier life than the one he already led.

~O~

He had never wished to see his friend in prison. Because Anthony didn’t belong there, not now, not ever. And when the Norns would hear his plea, maybe he wouldn’t have to stay in there for so long now.

Loki knew there had to be a way of getting him out, releasing him. Commit treason, his mind whispered like a siren and Loki really considered it there for a moment. But he chose not to dwell on those thoughts for too long because he came close to the end of the stair.

“Where did you take him?” he asked one of the Einherjar.

“The Midgardian?”

Loki nodded quickly.

“In the sixth cell from here, it was the first free one.”

“Thank you.” Loki hurried up but stood still when the Einherjar called him by his title.

“I do not assume to know what you feel, Prince Loki. But please, I must beg you on behalf of Odin All-Father not to harm the prisoner all too much. He must be still recognisable tomorrow when the sun greets him the last time.”

The Einherjar thought he wished to inflict pain upon Anthony? “I-“

The Einherjar nodded. “Try to keep it beneath his throat, Prince Loki. And don’t let him bleed too much.”

The Einherjar put his fist above his heart, bowed, then turned around and left. Loki stood there, speechless.

Anthony.

He turned around and ran to his friend. The six cells down, ignoring the screaming prisoners until he reached the one where Anthony sat in, free of shackles and gag this time.

“Anthony!”

Anthony turned around, eyes went wide when he saw Loki and before Loki knew what was happening, he opened the cell with his seiðr and stepped in.

“Loki?”

“Anthony, I’m so sorry.” He pulled his friend in his arms and pressed him close.

“It isn’t your fault, Lokes.”

“But I didn’t do anything.”

“I don’t think you had a choice there,” Anthony mumbled and his voice was a soothing balm for Loki’s strained nerves. But it should be the other way around. He should be the one offering comfort to Anthony, promising him a way to get out of here, telling him that there was a silver lining on the horizon.

“I could have done something.”

“No.” Anthony shook his head and looked up. There was a warmth swimming in those brown eyes, Loki had not counted with. They robbed his breath and an ugly sob tore from his throat. “It would only have brought you here into this cell and what good would come out of that, hm?”

“How can you be so optimistic?” Loki asked and pulled back a bit, trying to rein his emotions in again.

“Because you’re here now,” Anthony replied, a smile on his lips. “You’re here and that means, you believe me.”

“I do.” Loki’s answer was only a whisper but full of determination and strength.

“Do you even know how much that fucking means to me, Lokes?” Anthony shook his head. “Okay. Do you have a plan? Because I don’t want to die. And I refuse to put my head in the sand like an ostrich and await death like a devout sheep.”

The willpower in Anthony’s voice, it made Loki have hope again. When Anthony didn’t await his execution quietly then there had to be a way out. He was sure of that. They sat down and talked about whatever came up in their minds.

It was only early midday when Loki had entered the cell. There was still time left to forge a successful plan and Loki held the warm hands in his. He refused to let go of and collected encouragement for them both. In the end, they settled on having Loki talk to Thor, hoping to make him see reason and help them out.

He would promise everything to his brother if he would see Anthony smile a day longer. See him breathing for a few more centuries.

When Loki stood up to find Thor, his heart ached. He didn’t resist his desire to pull Anthony in for a hug, short as it may be. Pressed a kiss to the top of his head and then left, not wishing him to see his tears, that were already forming again.

~O~

He was a prince of Asgard, for Norns’ sake, he couldn’t cry openly in the dungeon or anywhere that wasn’t his rooms. Thor was in his rooms, drinking mead and munching on some piece of bread.

“Thor.”

“Loki! Have you heard the joyous news? They have sentenced the culprit behind the crime!”

Oh.

“He isn’t the one to blame for the crime,” Loki said and stood in front of his brother, glaring at him down his nose.

“Loki?” Thor raised his brows.

“Anthony would never do that to you,” me, he thought and leant forward. “I promise you that. He is innocent of this crime.”

“But father and the Thing found him guilty!”

“And they err!” Loki argued hotly, fist slamming down on the table next to them. “Anthony hasn’t done what they accuse him off!”

Thor stared at him. Searchingly. “Is this the Anthony who has exchanged letters with you for centuries now, brother?”

“It is the very same one.” Tension bled out of Thor and he put the tankard down. “I had hoped he wasn’t him.” Thor pointed at the chair that stood there empty. “Sit down, Loki.”

“Do you believe me?” Loki hoped Thor did although the probability was slim, so slim because he hadn’t even said anything yet.

“I want to believe you.” Thor shrugged and an awkward smile was put on his lips. “Convince me.”

Loki nodded and started to talk about Anthony. Aware of the time that was running by, the sun wandered on; bringing Anthony closer, breath for breath, to death. Thor’s rooms, held in dark colours, they did nothing to soothe Loki's emotion. Instead, they upset him even more. For it reminded him of the next sunrise and what it would entail.

“Help us,” Loki breathed. He felt empty and despair was gnawing at his heart that partially already was lost for him.

Thor nodded. “If he indeed is the great man you make him out to be, Loki, then Anthony can only call himself lucky to have you at his side. Few would show such loyalty to a friend.”

“What can I say? He inspires great loyalty in me.” “

That he does,” Thor grumbled, standing up. “Has Anthony told you anything of importance during your visit? How and who knew of our hunting trip?”

“I know of someone who got hold of the information.”

“Who is it, Loki?”

Loki grinned, sharp as a danger while his stomach hurt for Anthony. “Obadiah Stane, Anthony’s godfather.”

Thor’s eyes went wide and Mjölnir flew to his hand. “Betrayal,” he hissed.

“Indeed.” Loki agreed full-heartedly with that statement. Wanting nothing more than to hunt down Obadiah and make him pay for his missteps.

Mjölnir was in Thor’s hand and they both dressed in their finest armour, they walked down the floor to Odin’s room. Loki didn’t wish to see Odin for the next few decades yet he knew how crucial it was to convince Odin now to delay the not so inevitable.

Thor didn’t even bother with knocking, just opening the door, announcing their arrival.

“Father, we come with news.”

Odin raised his head from where he sat in the dark red chair. It looked so similar a throne but it was none. But Odin sat on it, so a throne it became.

It had always been like that, Loki realised and looked Odin in the eyes. Thor would do the talking. It would only be of advantage for them. For Loki had already said his piece and it hadn’t brought him anywhere. It had only distanced him more from his family.

“My brother and I believe in justice, as you have taught us,” Thor started and his voice didn’t quiver. A surge of pride flew through Loki. “We wish to hunt down the true culprit behind the crime,” Thor announced and his smile grew broader. “We do not wish to be seen as the beginning of a generation that judges quickly and doesn’t grant second chances. We believe in love and fairness.”

Loki winced and Odin’s eyes wandered to him, pain and sadness painted in them.

“What have you learnt?”

“A name.” Thor tilted his head and he looked so self-confident and arrogant. Loki thought for a moment he could see the king that was hidden in Thor.

“A lead, that would spare us from having to see a dear friend depart from life and spare the king the guilt of having sentenced an innocent. A death less to burden Heimdall with.”

“A great task,” Odin mumbled and sighed. “I only hope you are right in your assumptions, both of you. I can give you one more time, claiming the Midgardian has been dealt with too rough beatings and isn’t presentable for tomorrow. Eir would gladly confirm my word, I am sure of that.”

“A day more shall suffice,” Thor said and bowed his head slightly in front of the All-Father.

“Don’t bow to me,” Odin croaked and his eyes closed in pain. “Leave me. Hunt your culprit. Free Anthony Stark.”

“We will,” Loki promised and voiced his presence for the first time since they had entered Odin’s rooms.

“May the Norns bless your endeavour and may the sun shine down on the three of you,” Odin blessed them. Loki saw his lips tremble although his voice was steady as time itself.

“Return to Anthony for the night,” Thor suggested, having closed the door to Odin’s rooms behind him with a resolute click. “I think your friend needs you now more than ever and you have to bring him joyous news, don’t you? I will make sure the kitchen sends a discreet servant to the cell later.”

“Thank you.” Thor nodded and patted his shoulder. “I will always stand beside you, Loki. I am your brother; don’t you forget it. I’m here to ensure you’re feeling good and you get what you want. And if your heart wants the mortal, then I’m all the happier to oblige and help out in any way I can.”

Loki nodded, touched beyond words and hoped Thor saw the gratitude shimmering in his eyes. He teleported back to the dungeons, walking down the last few steps and collected his breath. He’d break Anthony out of here.

~O~

“One day more?” Anthony repeated what Loki had told him.

“That’s good,” Anthony breathed and leant in, resting his head on Loki’s chest. “You can do a lot on one day.”

“Let’s hope it helps you with getting out of here,” Loki mumbled. Then he snapped with his fingers and furniture appeared in the bare cell, made it look already comfier.

“You will.” Anthony smiled at him and sat down on the made bed, without checking whether it was a trick or not. He had always appreciated that about Anthony. The trust he put in him and his spells. Most would check the bed first, seeing if it truly was real, afraid they might crash through an illusion.

They descended in silence. The dinner got delivered by a kitchen maid that only smiled at them, put the trays down and left again. Loki hoped for her that she truly was discreet.

He didn’t wish to have to hunt her down to show her how wrong it was to be disloyal. His skin prickled. The chicken tasted of nothing and the tea bland like one of Thor’s jokes.

“When will you leave, Lokes?” “In the early morning hours,” Loki said and put the chicken down, not feeling hungry anymore.

“Okay.” Anthony took a deep breath. “Listen, I did a lot of thinking while you were gone, Lokes.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “And I want to be selfish this once and say it.” His brown eyes opened again and Loki looked in them, a smile already tugging at his lips.

“Yes?”

“Loki, I love you. More than me, more than JARVIS and my bots. You sneaked into my heart and somehow refused to come out of it again, took it fully as yours.”

Loki blinked and an unknown warmth filled him. Before he could respond in kind to it, Anthony already continued, his voice soft and tender.

“I know I only have to blame myself for landing us in this situation, me in this cell and I know it was stupid,” he continues. “But," he took a deep breath again before one of his hands found Loki’s. “Please, no matter what happens, should you fail or I, think kindly of me. Of you,for Norns’ sake.”

“Anthony,” he breathed. “I would never think anything else than kindly of you. You are too dear to me, too precious.”

Loki squeezed the hands in his. “And when you’re being selfish, allow me the opportunity and respond with my own selfishness.”

Anthony’s breath stopped for a moment there. “Anthony, I love you as well. Have for a while now. I will never think of you with anything else than the greatest respect, admiration and fondness that I have in my heart. Because that is what you deserve for being you and blessing me with your friendship, and now as well with your love.”

Anthony’s hands around his tightened.

“Anthony, I do not wish to be parted from you a moment longer, suffer a second more of this endless pini-“

Lips were pressed to his, warm and chapped, soft and Anthony’s.

“You were saying?” Anthony mumbled against them and his warm breathed cooled on Loki’s lips now.

“I love you,” Loki repeated and kissed the man in front of him, putting his arms around his waist, pulling him close, pressing them together. A mirror of the hug they had shared earlier that had been more innocent in its meaning. It had promised comfort, safety, friendship.

This promised more, something new and exciting, their silver lining on the horizon. Their kiss was so gentle still. It held a pledge of more things to come should the Norns be on their side and bless them with their goodwill.

“I won’t ever stop loving you,” Anthony mumbled and pulled back, walking back towards the bed Loki had conjured up.

“Neither will I,” Loki promised fiercely and let himself be dragged to the bed, falling on it, had Anthony join him on it.

“I wouldn’t know what to do without you,” Loki whispered and slang a leg around Anthony’s, pulling them closer until they felt the warmth of the other.

Hands slowly wandered over their bodies, assuring themselves that the other was there. That they weren’t alone, they had not imagined the conversation. They pressed kisses to their faces, small ones, soft and tender, discovering the other on a new way.

Loki felt good here in Anthony’s arm, warm and open, and he dreaded the moment Thor would come down here to get him. He knew it was for a great cause, they’d free Anthony, offer proof to the All-Father but that meant, he had to leave Anthony’s side.

And he didn’t want that when Anthony told him how hurt he felt by Obadiah’s betrayal but how it all made sense now. The constant questions about Aesir society, about Thor and Loki, how they lived and what they did in their spare time –

Questions that had seemed so innocent back in the day. Normal things friends would ask to show their interest but that looked completely different now.

“I will make sure he gets killed,” Loki promised, his voice dark and serious.

“I don’t know if I want to see him dead,” Anthony whispered and he sounded so torn; Loki pulled him closer in again.

“You can still decide later.”

Anthony nodded, tilted his head up and pressed another kiss to his lips. “Let’s not waste our time with him,” he suggested and Loki nodded in agreement.

“It sounds perfect,” he said and that was it. They spent the rest of the night trading kisses and tender touches, more words and soft promise.

When Thor arrived in the morning, they had both barely slept. Afraid of waking up and seeing the other gone, the other side of the bed empty and cold, abandoned.

~O~

“It’s time to leave,” Loki whispered and even when his heart yelled and was in pain, they knew they had to let go of each other.

Revenge and a happy ending were waiting for them. Anthony’s last kiss was sweet and salty. Tears were falling from his eyes and Loki wanted nothing more than to stop them. To kiss them all away, one by one, make his Anthony laugh again, remove all darkness from his soul that was festering there.

He’d start by cleansing him of his traitorous godfather.

Heimdall sent them to Obadiah’s house and it was void of the man. Cold.

“How much time has passed since we took Anthony?” Loki asked with trembling voice.

“Maybe two weeks.” Thor pointed at a newspaper. It was dated from two weeks ago, and Anthony’s face on the title page, claiming him missing.

He wondered how it came to be that no one had captured the Einherjar on camera but then –

it wasn’t in Asgard’s interest to show that Thor could be wounded and attacked by some mere Midgardian.

“There’s too much.” Thor looked around and shook his head.

“Loki?”

Loki already whispered words, angrily and his seiðr spread out in the house, searching for all dirty secrets the man might have hidden in here.

He wanted to learn them all, Loki decided with grim satisfaction. He followed his seiðr in hurried steps, following it up to the stairs, opening a dark door. Behind it was a study, a desk with a computer, cupboards with lots of folders that attracted his seiðr. It sparked dark green, pulled out three red folders, throwing it on the floor with a force behind it, Loki had not expected.

~O~

“Is it possible your magic is angry?”

“It seems so,” Loki replied with a frown on his face. They picked up the folders and skimmed through them. There were papers with information about payments. There were names listened and in another folder were information about the Aesir. Knowledge an outsider should not have.

“I think Anthony has been turned into a scapegoat,” Loki stated and gritted his teeth, trying not to crumple the papers in his hands together. He wanted to show them to the All-Father in their original state.

“This is a huge organisation,” Thor realised and his eyes wandered to the computer, sitting there innocently. “I wonder whether there might be more in there.”

Loki had never been happier to have his seiðr when it hacked the computer and gave them access to everything.

“Norns,” Thor whispered and skimmed over the documents in there.

“It’s as we feared.” Loki wanted to yell. It truly was a huge organisation behind it, called “HYDRA”. Whose aim was to overthrow the All-Father and his regime. They did want to replace Odin with a king of their own – favoured candidate so far was a man called “Red Skull”.

Loki printed out the most important documents, so they would have proof. Anthony was safe now. Loki’s fingers trembled and he turned towards the door.

“We need to tell father,” Thor said and Loki nodded. He wasn’t Odin’s greatest fan right now but he knew that omitting this would change everything for the worse. Heimdall beamed them up and two horses already stood waiting there for them.

Loki had never wanted before to arrive faster at the throne room than he did right now, but he couldn’t teleport because it just wasn’t done.

He urged his horse on to run even faster, feeling sorry for the horse but he couldn’t stop now.

He had to save Anthony, had to get him out of the cell.

Thor presented Odin the evidence, having requested a private audience before. Odin went pale as he looked over the documents. There was sweat glistening on his forehead and reflecting the gold of Asgard in them. He looked like Midas of Midgard, who went mad for his desire for gold until everything he touched turned to gold and no life was left over anymore.

“Release Anthony.”

“I can’t.

“WHAT?” Loki let the folders in his arms drop, not caring one bit about their state anymore.

“I can’t let him out,” Odin repeated quietly.

“Father!” Even Thor sounded angry.

“I can’t boys.” Odin shook his head. “This is … this has a new dimension. This isn’t only about you alone anymore. There’s an organisation behind this that wants to destroy us. Should I set the Midgardian free, they will think they can get away with making fun out of us, ridiculing us.”

“I can’t believe that!” Loki yelled. He felt lightheaded while anger bloomed up.

“You better do, Loki.” Odin stood up. “He will die next morrow. For the prosperity of Asgard and its populace.” He turned to Loki, who barely resisted the urge to throw jinxes at the man he had thought to be his father. “Go to him, Loki. Enjoy the time you two still have together, make the best out of it.”

“I hate you,” Loki declared calmly.

“I know,” Odin replied and closed his eyes. “As it is your right to do. I won’t condemn you for it.”

Loki tried his best to keep his seiðr under control but it was Thor who saved him from attempting patricide.

“Why don’t we tell the people that Anthony died during the interrogation?” Odin’s brows arched. “The problem is, if I understood that right, that Anthony is alive. So if we spread the news he died in the cell nobody will think Asgard is to be underestimated, more of the opposite.”

There was suddenly hope again in Loki’s chest, dancing slowly. “It would make feel the conspirators safe,” Loki added, crossing his arms in front of the chest. “And Anthony could help Thor and me to track down the organisation. He’s clever, Odin. And he knows Obadiah far better than either of us could ever hope for.”

Loki waited for a bit, waited for the speculating glint to enter Odin’s eyes before he continued, voice smooth and tempting.

“I can use a charm to change his outer appearance,” he added, clutching literally at straws here and hoped Odin would give in and give him Anthony back.

“Can you assure me that he will be happy with this deal?” Odin asked and leant forward on the throne.

“You’re putting everything on the table here on the condition your Midgardian thinks the same thing as you.”

“Anthony is content should he leave the cell behind successfully and doesn’t need to return to it,” Loki said. “He only wants to live, Odin. As most people would want to.”

Thor nodded next to him, voicing his support loudly.

Loki doesn’t know for quite how long they stood there in the throne room. The entrance to the throne room was denied to everybody. Their raised voices were loud and sure to hear even beyond the thick doors. They argued back in forth like in a chess match, just quicker.

But eventually, Odin agreed. Fully convinced by Thor’s support for Anthony’s case and Loki’s stubbornness and his silver tongue that found a Plan W for Plan E and more. He listened to apparent endless reasons why having Anthony fake his death was better than having him killed in the morning before the sun would be rising.

“I give you one month,” Odin declared and stood up from the throne. He looked old, Loki saw and heard joints crack in Odin’s body. “After that, I want results. They do not have to be big, just small ones suffice. Otherwise it will be death for your friend and you, Loki.” Odin’s mouth twitched. “Don’t make me go through that, Loki. Today was difficult as it was and the throne feels colder than ever before.”

“I can try my best,” Loki replied and then held out his hand. It was with a smile that Odin put the key in his hands. “Do your best and it shall suffice,” Odin stated and then waved him off.

Joyfully, Loki hurried to the dungeons, key in his hand and good news in his mind.

“You’re free,” Loki announced as soon as he had entered the cell. “There are conditions though but, Anthony,” he pulled the man to him, stroking with his hands over his sharp styled goatee.

“You are free!

“Oh Norns,” Anthony mumbled, pulled him down for a kiss that bereft Loki of all words and air, until there only was Anthony in his focus and didn’t let him alone. Another kiss followed the first. Hot, searching, reaffirming and they break apart panting, forehead resting against each other.

“We need to leave,” Anthony mumbled and his hands squeezed Loki’s hips. “Whatever the conditions are, Lokes, tell me later of them. I want to get out of here.”

“Alright.” He put a quick charm on Anthony, ensuring he wasn’t visible anymore to the other prisoners and left an illusion of Anthony’s body behind. It looked horrible. Blood and bruises were blooming on his face. Anthony, Norns bless him, raised only a brow but didn’t say anything else and they ran upstairs, to where Thor was waiting for them.

“I’m dead, hm?” Anthony asked when they settled down in a ship of the Aesir.

“Yes.” Thor shrugged with a fond smile on his face. “We are very sorry but you will have to stay dead as long as the organisation exists. Then, you can go back to your world as a free man, honours, titles, a golden apple in your hand.”

“A golden apple?”

Thor nodded. “Indeed. Father thought you and Loki might like the prospect of having one.”

“He thought that?” Thor nodded again, winked and sat down on the pilot’s chair. “Where can we start?”

“Obi has a son,” Anthony said, interlacing his fingers with Loki’s. “His name is Zeke, lives on Nidavellir. A complete nutcase, can you believe it? But he would be a good starting point.”

Thor laughed in agreement and the ship took off. Loki only looked down to his partner, his future lover when the Norns willed it so and smiled.

“Are you happy with this?” he asked, voice no more than a whisper.

“I have you with me,” Anthony replied and tilted his head up. “This is already more than I thought I could ever have yesterday. I thought I would have to live without you forever, die alone and be a genius all on my own.” His smile was bright and sincere. “Loki, wherever you go, I go, for you are my greatest luck on all the Nine Realms.”