Work Header

touched on a thousand subjects

Work Text:

Tony hadn't slept.

In fact, he hadn't technically slept for the past week, but this was his first night out of hospital and off the morphine keeping him in a constant state of semi-consciousness. He wouldn't miss it, the feeling of dysphoria pertaining to his own limbs. It was only after Pepper had worked some magic and somehow forced Coulson to let him go home that he'd returned to a mostly-lucid state.

Unfortunately, with the morphine purged from his system, the ache in his chest started. He vaguely remembered it from the fight – Doom was pissed about something, probably because his peasant slaves had dropped his golden throne, or some similar shit – a seizing agony around the arc-reactor, a sensation similar to the fever-memories he had of the electromagnet going in; like someone was trying to pull his heart out of his chest.

The morphine hadn't allowed his mind to concentrate on any one thing, and so it had gravitated towards the most powerful memories that Tony had – which also happened to be some of the worst. Even now, fully conscious and rational, the phantom fear sat on the back of his mind, an extra discomfort that built on top of that from his injuries until he wanted to claw his way out of his own skin.

He had spent the vast majority of the night tinkering with the arc-reactor; JARVIS had run diagnostics whilst Tony lay on the table and waited for the pain medication to kick in, feeling the pain spasm and bloom as the tests went on.

"It seems, sir, that the metal lining of the reactor's socket has been superheated and has damaged the surrounding tissue."

Tony couldn't feel the tips of his fingers, but his chest was still on fire. He gasped out a curse.

"And your blood shows a dangerously high level of Vicodin," JARVIS added. "It would be advisable to refrain from taking any more for at least four hours."

Which was why Tony felt like he has the worst case of indigestion of his life, and had already ploughed through one of the emergency twenty-packs that he kept hidden from Pepper in the workshop.

(There were only a few, rare occasions that Tony was actively glad that Pepper did not live in his house; he'd offered her a room – it wasn't like he didn't have the space – but she'd calmly refused, stating that he alread had a butler, and she preferred be able to hang up on him when he called her, drunk, at 3AM.

This was one of those times: Tony knew that he probably looked worse than death, sitting at the island in ancient, dilapidated jogging trousers that only came out of the closet when he was ill, and his old college t-shirt. The elastic had gone from the collar, and he felt the gentle breeze that JARVIS had created slip down over his chest, drying the sweat that kept beading as he bit down on the pain. Pepper would most definitely not approve.)

He had been attempting to read the scientific journal that he'd found in the pile of mail on the counter, pushing his reading glasses on and trying to distract himself with the latest bullshit that the community was putting out. It wasn't really working.

"Oh dear," signified Loki's arrival. Tony forced his gaze back into focus and ignored him.

"I really don't have the energy to deal with you," he snapped. Loki walked around the island, long fingers dragging across the smooth surface.

"No, I can see that." He pressed one hand over the arc reactor, and suddenly his hand was beneath Tony's t-shirt, all cool skin pressing against him. Tony could see Loki's frown in his peripheral vision, but he was too focussed on the way that cool was sliding inside him, around the reactor and through the damaged tissue surrounding it, relieving the pain until it was nothing more than a dull ache, like a bruise from an unruly tackle.

Tony found himself leaning into Loki, his shoulder pressed into the edge of Loki's chest.

"What happened?" Loki asked, bland curiosity layering his tone, and nothing more.

"Doom," Tony said, by way of explanation. Now that it didn't hurt so much, he felt he could sleep if he wanted to; but he was aware of the way that Loki's hand was curled over the arc reactor in his chest, and the sharp angles of his chest against Tony's shoulder. "Thor's fine."

"I know."

"JARVIS thinks Doom superheated the reactor casing." Tony felt Loki's fingers twitch against his chest.

"Hmm." Loki's mouth was pressed in a thin line as he turned Tony's head to look at him, and leant forward to push his tongue into Tony's mouth.

He tasted of soot and icy air and Tony wondered, not for the first time, where Loki went when they didn't see him; but for now he was rather more distracted with the way that his hand was sliding across Tony's chest to circle a thumb around his nipple. Tony groaned into Loki's mouth, a small sound that Loki swallowed.

This wasn't something that they did; Loki didn't do gentle, even if he did have an agonising habit of taking his damned time, but Loki was rubbing his forefinger down what remained of Tony's sternum and into the dip between his ribs, and it wasn't turning Tony on to the point of physical distress. In fact, it was as if Loki was dragging pain relief across his skin.

“What are you doing?” he asked, his voice dragging over the vowels in a most embarrassing fashion that he would normally associate with being completely, utterly wasted; but the soothing touch of Loki's hands on his skin was sending a pleasant throb of exhaustion up his spine. “Trying to get me off my guard?”

Loki smiled. “That isn't something that's particularly difficult,” he said. “Even if you do sleep less than most mortals; your reliance on technology is laughable.”

“Shut up,” Tony said. “It wasn't ever an issue until a fucking god turned up and fucked everything over by being magic.”

“Advanced science,” Loki said. “I'm sure that my brother has given you the lecture already.”

“Not stupid,” Tony said, leaning more of his body weight against Loki without really registering the movement. “I've seen advanced science; hell, I created a new element. You – you're magic.”

Loki wrapped his other arm around Tony's back, supporting him as he laid him down on his bed; and he must have teleported them here, or something (Tony was still iffy about what terms were appropriate when it came to Loki and his magic, because all of his words were grounded in science and somehow didn't feel right when fitted next to the Asgardian, with his miles of pale skin and fleeting, dangerous smiles), because Tony was certain that he hadn't moved from the stool in the kitchen.

“From what I've gathered of your customs, I will take that as a compliment.” Loki stood up, looking down at Tony, who blinked and squinted blearily up at him.

“Why are you being -” Tony frowned, and tested the word on his tongue before saying it, “nice.”

“I like to keep you on your toes.” Loki smiled again, and tilted his head at him. “Go to sleep, Mr Stark.”

“Stop raiding my film collection,” Tony mumbled, curling under his sheets and letting his eyes drag closed.

“Make me,” Loki whispered, amusement colouring everything as Tony slid finally, blissfully, into sleep.

"Feeling better?" Pepper asked, when she came to see him around lunchtime. Tony had been fast asleep until ten minutes before.

He ran the side of his thumb down his sternum, and smiled at her around his coffee. "Now that you're here," he said. She rolled her eyes at him, and swatted at his head with the paper.