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drained and flooded, again and again

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If a bad idea were sound, it would be the clink of glass against glass, the splash of whiskey.  As it stands now, Tony is a goddamn concert conductor and this is the symphony playing his swan song.

Loki takes the pre-offered tumbler with a critical sniff, nostrils flaring. "It is… sharp. Like snow. You humans ruin everything, even something as simple as alcohol."

"Say what you will about us, but we make a damn fine whiskey." Tony punctuates that by pouring himself his own glass. The hand holding the decanter doesn't even tremble, which is a feat in itself. It isn't every day the Norse god who attacked New York appears in one's penthouse suite, demanding the drink he was promised. Tony isn't one to brag about his lack of self-preservation instincts, but not assembling the Avengers and instead saying "yeah, okay, come on in, go sit at the bar" seems to have been the right call.

Battling to the death doesn't seem to be the order of the night, but Tony broke out the good stuff just in case. Giving a god cheap booze is just bad form.

"High praise indeed," Loki sneers, then takes a curious sip. He makes a face. "This is disgusting."

The impact of his statement is somewhat ruined when he downs the rest of it in one go. Tony rolls his eyes.

"Might want to pace yourself. I draw the line at picking shit-faced gods up off my floor, especially when they look like rejects from that Batman movie with George Clooney." Tony gestures at Loki's stupid costume. "How many cows had to die to make all that leather?"

"Shut up," Loki grumbles, reaching for the decanter and pouring himself another glass of whiskey. He tosses it back, slams the glass onto the counter top, and grimaces. He's got a hilarious whiskey face. "You buzz about in a suit made of metal. One strong magnetic pull and you are finished."

"Sorry, all I heard was 'wow, Tony, you sure are incredibly smart and handsome, and you're absolutely right that I have rubber nipples under all these buckles'."

Loki sputters. Whiskey coats his bottom lip, catching the light and drawing Tony's eye. "What? Nothing you say makes logical sense."

"Says the guy who broke every law of physics with his floating dragon planes. Don't think I won't figure out how those worked, by the way. And when I do, I'm going to make a million of them, and I'll make them better. Faster. And then sell them."

Loki's rejoinder is lost in his glass, reduced to little more than a hum as he tips his head back and downs his drink. He drops the empty tumbler to the counter top with a careless flip of his wrist, then sort of slumps. "I feel… warm."

"Yeah," Tony agrees, squinting at the decanter, which is three-quarters empty. He really doesn't feel like getting up to find more, but it's going to be unavoidable soon. "Whiskey's good like that. And hey, drink enough of it and you won't ever get sick. That, you know, you'll remember."

"I do not get sick," Loki sighs, rolling the glass around the counter top with a finger.

There are a thousand things Tony could say to stretch the conversation, but he lets it lapse into silence. He pours himself the last of the whiskey, brings the tumbler to his lips, then pauses. Over the rim of the glass, he watches Loki push his own empty glass around. Tony can't put an exact name to the expression on Loki's face, but he's seen something frighteningly close on his own face countless times before. He could sidle up to Loki, wrap his arm around the leather-clad shoulders, and together they could trash their respective fathers until the sun comes up. Forge some weird bond through their experiences as the unwanted children of veritable gods (or, in Loki's case, an actual god). Strike up a truce, end Loki's war against the Avengers and the Earth.

"You ever think about getting that cut?" Then again, Tony is still Tony.

Growling, Loki takes his empty glass and hurtles it at Tony's head. It shatters on the wall behind him. "Must you ruin everything?"

Tony shrugs. "Sorry. I was just --" He gestures without purpose at Loki's hair. "I mean, unless you're fronting a Poison tribute band, no one's going to take you seriously."

"If none take me seriously, I sincerely doubt it is the fault of my hair," Loki mutters, a petulant twist to his mouth. "Tell me, Stark. Is it my hair that gives you cause to treat me so ungracefully?"

Ungracefully. Right. "Sorry, who came down to whose planet and started blowing shit up? You started this thing. And given the way you've been failing at everything lately, one might think you can't finish it."

Loki clenches his teeth, an ugly look in his eyes, lifts a hand, palm up, and points it right at Tony. But the magic that swirls around his fingers slowly subsides until it disappears. Closing the hand into a fist, Loki turns back to the bar.

Well. Tony needs another drink. And a clean pair of shorts. "So --"

"Be quiet for once in your life, Stark," Loki says hoarsely, all the fight gone out of him. "Assemble your team and finish this, if you want. Just…" He shakes his head, eyes closing, cutting a small and exhausted figure despite his tall frame and stupid armor. "Just be quiet."

In a cave in Afghanistan that smelled of burnt rubber and impending death, a stranger had showed him the consequences of his fully-funded destruction. A friend with impossible heels and an even more impossible smile calls him on the daily just to hear what he's up to. A bunch of misfits taught him how to be part of a team, of something bigger. Just this morning, a man with a beast inside of him made Tony bacon, and a woman with red in her ledger stole that bacon with a smile. There's a god who can control lightning sleeping six doors down, no doubt wrapped around the stuffed Robin Hood bear an expert archer had given him as a joke. His own childhood hero was watching Space Jam tonight, amazed that cartoons and real people could play basketball side-by-side.

The point is, Tony has people. He looks at where Loki sits alone at the bar, and sighs.

"You ever had a milkshake?"

Loki blinks, then turns. "A what?"

"Well, that answers that," Tony says. "Come on, up up up. I'm not pouring more booze down your throat, fuck knows what'd you do if I got your ass hammered, but there's a diner not too far from here that stays open all night and they make insane milkshakes."

The uncertainty in Loki's eyes and the line of his mouth doesn't sit well with Tony. He knows what it feels like to mistrust someone's otherwise innocuous motives. Nobody should feel like that. Not even Loki.

"Milkshakes," Tony says again. "It's a thing. A friend thing."

Loki looks down at his boots, up at the wall, out the window, and then fixes Tony with an unreadable stare. "A friend thing."

"I'm assuming, since I've only seen that shit in movies, but seems like the thing to do. Plus, it's almost two in the morning and I want a fucking Oreo milkshake. If you're not feeling the milkshake, they do a pretty awesome peanut butter pie."

A moment passes, during which Tony's 83% sure he's about to be tossed through the window again, but then something eases at the corners of Loki's eyes.

"All right. Milkshakes," Loki says. "A friend thing."

A friend thing. And since this is a friend thing, Tony won't mention Loki's hair again. For now, at least.