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These Names of Gods and Science

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He is working on a possible inhibitor that targets the high frequency energy levels magic most often produces when he suddenly feels he isn’t alone.

It is unlike the sensation of SIGYN’s presence, the A.I. was created by him and he relished more often in the discomfort that her invasive omniscience inspired in others rather than feel any self-consciousness on his part. He preferred to think of her as the voice in his head rather than an entirely separate entity that was watching him with the degree of intensity that he could feel now.

Loki’s hand stilled, back straightening as he stared straight ahead, eyes slowly narrowing. He couldn’t help but notice that the extremely expensive Suprematist Composition had turned itself into much less expensive, and substantially less appealing, Rock of Ages poster, thoughtfully signed by the original Broadway cast.

“Something I can do for you, Mr. Stark?”

Tony Stark, God of Lies and Mischief and Flash Bastard Pyrotechnics, was standing behind him, leaning casually against a half finished project that Loki had been working on for S.H.I.E.L.D. He is dressed in the styles of Earth, a dark suit with sharp lines and expensive threads and he is also holding a small gadget in his hands, a prototype that Loki would prefer not be handled by one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s #1 enemies. But Tony Stark only smiles and catches Loki with a look and a flash of teeth, as smooth as exceptionally good brandy.

Which Loki doubtlessly has and has probably wasted on less memorable occasions than this.

“What, don’t like surprises?”

Loki ignores him.

“SIGYN, how long have I had the pleasure of Mr. Stark’s unannounced company?”

“I detected his energy signature 2.3 seconds before you effectively addressed his presence, sir. Telling you would have been redundant and I understand you despise redundancy,” came her swift reply.

Loki sighed, fingers coming up to briefly rub his brow, dropping his hand a moment later to look up at his unwelcome guest. A moment later he was rising gracefully, walking towards and then past the shorter man, coming to a stop at his desk. There was no point in trying to hide the notes he had been sketching out, that would only draw attention and he had no doubt Stark had already seen them.

“You know, I’m pretty sure I asked you to call me Tony ages ago, sometime around the time when we first met actually. You’re breaking my heart here, Loki.” Tony’s voice came from right behind him and Loki wondered vaguely if the other had actually followed in the shadow of his steps or teleported his way over.

He would have to inquire SIGYN about it later.

In the meantime Loki sighed, pursing his lips into a thin line. He tilted his head back, eyes staring up at the ceiling. “If you are referring to the same day in which you attempted to kill me by bodily flinging me through a window then I believe any desire I may have had in becoming even remotely familiar with you were dashed about the same time I was falling past the 64th floor at 115 mph.”

Stark laughed, a deep and pleasant sound. Loki could feel it and against his better judgment he turned around, coming face to face with the god, remaining braced against his desk. Stark looked smug. It was irritating just what a good look it was on him.

“I recall that everything turned out for the best! At least for you, right? I lost that particular fight, which, by the way, I don’t hold against you at all. I can be benevolent, you know.”

And then, because this was just Loki‘s life, Stark smirked, cocking his head in an unashamedly suggestive manner and lifting a manicured finger to shamelessly invade Loki’s personal space and boldly trace the line of his jaw.

“You wanna see just how benevolent I can be?”

Loki doesn‘t need to look to know where to slip his hand, the gauntlet he’d been tinkering with clamping down around his hand and forearm firmly, like a serpent.

He smiles. “Perhaps some other time.” Loki can feel the change of the energy as the repulsor at his palm flares bright white before it blasts the trickster back across the length of his lab to crash into a worktable. Loki isn’t looking to see where he falls, already making a dash to his suit. SIGYN already activated the panels that slide aside and reach up to meet him as he arrives, the armor sliding into place around his body like the magnificent full body glove that it is.

The metal gleams poisonous green and gold as he turns to level the glowing stare of the Iron Man suit against his enemy, whom he notes is scowling, picking himself up from the rubble of the table, brushing bits of twisted metal and glass from his sleeve. Loki has time to smile viciously at the images the HUD screen displays before Stark is speaking again and Loki realizes that maybe he should make a hasty retreat. Or call for back-up like, somewhere around five minutes ago.

“Now that wasn’t very nice!” There is a sizzling crack, deafening, and Tony Stark rises to his feet, red cloak and gleaming armor restored, the gold braces at his arms glinting dangerously at Loki. Without hesitation he fires another blast, watching Stark deflect it easily with a laugh and take out the whole left corner of the lab.

Loki was really somewhat tired of his workspace being so carelessly and consistently destroyed by his own tech.

“Merely the appropriate response,” he replied and even the suit’s voice modifier cannot keep the dry humor lacing the words and suddenly he realizes this is just another game, a game they‘ve been playing since they first spoke without any of the others around to hear them. Stark seems aware of it well enough, if his huff of laughter is anything to go by, and it’s his move when he cups his hands together and in a move almost too quick for Loki to follow, waves his hands and claps them together again to produce a shockwave of magic that does very well in making more of a wreck of his lab and knocking him off his feet altogether. He slides across the floor, metal suit screaming across the floor.

The lights spark, shattering one by one as Stark approaches. It is a brilliant cascade of falling stars around him and Loki can hear Stark’s whoop of glee at the light shines off his dark hair, alighting on his grin and making him look young and manic and utterly brilliant. The whole scene causes something unbidden to stir at his heart, dark and thrilling. It’s this, this moment, and it’s beautiful and he wants more.

Behind the safety of his suit’s faceplate he smiles.

Loki has never been terribly good at knowing what was best for him.

Stark is then just suddenly there, kneeling before him and he’s all dark lies sweet on his tongue, painted in red and gold.
“I feel like you’re not even putting up a fight anymore, Loki. Is your heart just not in it anymore? Tell me no so we can finally make this more interesting!”

“Slow and steady,” Loki murmurs.

“Oh, are we racing? I wasn’t aware it was that sort of game. Tell me, I gotta know, what’s the prize at the finish line?”

“It’s a surprise, Tony,” Loki replies and he’s laughing inside his suit as he activates the jets in his boots, catches Tony’s dark eyes and quicksilver smile before the Iron Man is blasting away, leaving his ruined lab behind and daring the other man, the god, to follow him.

He does.