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Bottomless Abyss of the Mind

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'Sir, you're on a collision course with the building two thousand feet ahead,' a calm voice rang in Tony's ears while he struggled to disengage the Doombot clawing at his armor—its metal fingers attempting to rip the plating apart. Multiple alarms on his HUD flashed red, indicating how much damage Doom's piece of junk had managed to wrought in the short period of time they were fused together: back thrusters were torn to shreds; left leg repulsor was beginning to splutter sparks, rendering itself totally useless in keeping Tony in balance; the HUD was cracked at the corner, and the arc reactor was running on fumes.

Tony grunted, prying one of the robot's grabby claws away from his chest piece; they were spiraling really fast towards that building—he noticed in between fighting for his life and trying to stabilize the flight.

'Uh, a little help here?'

'What would you like me to do, Sir?' His AI enquired.

'I don't know! Deploy flares at this motherfucker!'

'You have no more ammunition rounds remaining.'

'Then open flaps to slow us down!' Stark shouted, watching as the Doombot ripped out a chunk of wires from his right arm. 'God damn it!'

'The flaps seems to be jammed, Sir.'

'I swear to God—, I'm going to scrap you! Deploy flaps!'

The Doombot started laughing with Victor's annoying wannabe-villain voice; suddenly it disengaged from Stark, pushing itself up and away, and let the red and gold armor continue to freefall to Earth on its own. Tony just had enough time to blink in confusion before his back slammed full-force into the concrete wall and the world around him went black.

 

Tony woke up with a start, drenched in cold sweat and desperately gasping for air. He tried to look around, but the room was too dark. Whizzing and on the verge of a panic attack he blindly felt around the sheets for something, anything; then his fingers grazed cool skin and Tony inhaled sharply.

'Lights!' A commanding voice ordered and the room flooded with gentle, golden illumination.

'Tony. Tony, look at me. Hey!' Cold fingers squeezed his jaw and directed it towards the voice.

'Loki—' Tony whimpered.

At the sight of his lover, the tight knot inside Tony's chest began to loosen and he could finally take a deep breath. Loki's fingers delicately roamed over his stubble and temples, eyes searching and worried.

'It's— it's nothing,' Stark tried to reassure. 'Just a stupid nightmare.'

'You haven't had those in years. You want to tell me about it?' Loki moved closer, one hand sneaking around Tony's lower back so his cool fingers could stroke the exposed patch of hot skin over the waistband of his lover’s pants.

'The usual: Iron Man failing miserably and people getting hurt.'

Loki leaned in, placing a gentle kiss on Tony's temple, as his hand traveled up over the tense muscles of his lover's back, thumb dipping into the depression of his spine, caressing each vertebra lovingly.

'It was just a dream,' Loki whispered against Stark's ear. Tony leaned his forehead on the god’s shoulder and heaved a sigh.

'It felt very real.'

The two men stayed locked in a tight embrace, breathing in their mixed scent and taking comfort in the other's closeness. Tony's hands were tightly fisted in Loki's blue t-shirt, his shoulders shaking as the adrenalin wore off—the remnants of the nightmare a fresh and festering wound in his mind–while Loki's hands moved all over, kneading Tony’s neck and massaging the fright away. Hushed sweet nothings spilled from his lips, reassuring Tony that he wasn't alone, that it was alright, that everything was fine—over and over again until the inventor's body finally relaxed and sagged against the other man's chest.

'What time is it?' Tony asked, when he felt his eyes begin to close again; he didn't want to go back to sleep.

'Early, Sir,' Jarvis replied, helpful as always.

The tinted windows turned translucent, prompted by the AI's silent command, and a myriad of news feeds sprang to life over the clear surface, almost entirely obscuring the perfect view of the Malibu coastline.

Tony scrambled from the bed, practically faceplanting onto the lush carpet, when his legs got tangled in the sheets. Cursing, and with ass in the air, he kicked at the offending piece of cloth, but to no avail—the material clung to his clammy skin like a vice. He could hear Loki trying to stifle a chuckle.

'Some help would be appreciated,' Tony grunted, looking over his shoulder at where Loki sat propped against the headboard, smug smile plastered all over his faintly tanned face—Tony was perpetually in awe of how Loki managed to stay so pale under the hot Malibu sun.

'Well—I don't know,' Loki drawled, entirely unconcerned by Tony's peril. 'I rather like the view.'

The inventor scoffed, muttering some unsavory things about his lover, then flipped back onto the bed with a soft ompf—

'You see? All is well.'

Smiling like a Cheshire Cat, Loki swiftly scrambled to straddle Stark's lap and lower himself just inches above the billionaire, so he could then plant his lips over Tony's, slowly prying them apart with his eager tongue. He purred with satisfaction when Tony started kissing back, mouth hot and needy against his. The inventor's hands flew up to bury themselves in Loki's long black locks—fingernails scratching nonsense patterns over the nape of his neck and scalp. Loki gasped when Tony pulled at the tresses hard enough to tilt his head back, and attacked the pale column of a throat with teeth and mouth, leaving pink marks on the unblemished skin.

'Tony—' Loki panted breathless; he was starting to have trouble keeping himself suspended over the other man—arms going weak at the joints and head swimming with arousal. Grinding his hips down, Loki felt that Tony was hard and hot for him as well, and it sent a delightful shiver down his spine.

'You tricky vixen,' Stark chuckled against Loki's clavicle, laving at it with his tongue, his warm breath condensing on Loki's skin, making it slick and sticky. When he got bored with that particular patch of skin, the billionaire let go of his lover's hair and moved his hands to wander freely over the body writhing above his.

'This is a great distraction, Snowflake,' Stark beamed as his searching fingers finally settled on Loki's ass and squeezed, directing the other's hips down at the same moment as his buckled up. Loki cried, his arms finally giving way at the glorious friction. He could feel his cock dripping, staining the inside of his sleeping pants.

'Why do you insist—ha—on calling me that?' Loki asked, nose buried behind Tony's ear. With effort he lifted himself high enough to take Stark's hand and shove it down his own pants. Tony's fingers instantaneously closed around his hard, leaking cock. 'Do I seem cold to you down here?'

'Fuck,' Tony managed to stutter, before Loki's lips closed over his and their tongues met, gliding against each other with need. Their grinding became less coordinated and faster, more primal and raw.

Loki let out a whine when Tony had to let go of his cock for long enough to take out his own—hard and ready—the other hand working furiously to rid Loki of his pants. When they finally met skin to skin—both sweaty and slick—it felt glorious to be able to slide against each other with ease, hip to hip, cock to cock, and a tangled mess of legs and hands.

Their joined moans filled the room, echoed from the walls and floor-to-ceiling windows, and came back magnified, turning them on even further.

'Tony—' Loki breathed out, swollen red lips sinfully open and panting. 'Tony—I need you—'

Stark's eyelids fluttered open (he wasn't aware that he'd closed them), gaze meeting Loki's feverish one. For a moment they remained suspended in their tiny world, just the two of them, together and perfect.

Loki's whispered pleas became more insistent, making Tony's brain short-circuit for a moment, before he frantically scrambled to find the lube.

With a bottle in hand and a new purpose, Tony squeezed out a generous amount of the oily substance on his hand and reached around Loki. Two slick fingers easily slipped past the ring of muscle, making obscene wet sounds as they went in.

'Still loose from last night,' Stark smiled, kissing Loki's chin.

The god's eyes were shut—as he was concentrating on the sensation of being filled—so the inventor could observe his wet eyelashes flutter against the rosy-pink cheeks. Tony's fingers twisted and curled inside Loki, and the other's eyes flung wide open—the green of his irises almost entirely gone, replaced by the black lust-filled pupils.

'More?' Stark asked before adding a third and fourth finger and spreading them all out. At this point Loki was beyond words and managed only a short nod, his mouth going slack from the pleasure. Establishing a steady rhythm of in and out, in and out, Tony watched on as Loki was slowly turning into putty under his ministrations. Now the quiet whimpers and shaky moans were a constant, as Loki fucked himself on Tony's digits—taking them as far as he could, rotating his hips this and that way, only so he could hit that bundle of nerves at just the perfect angle. And Tony? Tony was getting off just by looking at the ecstasy written all over his beautiful lover's face.

'More—' Loki demanded with an unsteady voice, and Stark was more than happy to comply. Finishing his work with one last hard thrust that sent Loki forward with a gasp, Tony once again uncapped the bottle of lube and slathered it over his neglected and very interested cock. Loki—on all fours—positioned himself over the bulbous head and sank down, taking as much in as he could. He bottomed out with a pleased moan—a shudder running down his spine. Tony felt Loki's inner muscles spasm around him, warm and soft, and oh so tight. It was impossible to concentrate on anything else but this, the points and pressures where their bodies connected; it felt so damn good that Tony was afraid he would spill before Loki even began to move.

'Babe—' the billionaire breathed out, his thumbs massaging Loki's prominent hipbones. 'You okay?'

Loki's eyes were glassy when he looked at Stark and nodded, and Tony's heart skipped a beat, filled with an emotion that shouldn’t have had a place in his heart right now—sorrow—but it was gone as fast as it appeared, and in the next instant Loki was smiling at him, one eyebrow raised and a mischievous glint in his pretty green eyes. Without warning he lifted himself up and slammed back down, eliciting a moan from them both, then tried to repeat the motion, but Tony's hands on his hips stopped him.

'Careful Cupcake, you've already reduced me to a horny teenager with a raging hard-on, if you'll continue like this, I'm going to finish as quickly as one too, and where's the fun in that?'

Loki laughed breathlessly, bending down to leave a peck on Tony's lips. 'Fine,' he purred, sitting straight on Stark's hips. The muscles in his thighs quivered when he—oh so slowly—lifted his pert bum, all the time maintaining eye contact with Tony, who couldn't decide if he should stare back, or watch his dick slide almost entirely out of Loki, until only the crown remained inside. When he sank back down—also agonizingly slow—Tony cursed, overwhelmed by the slow torture.

'Better?' Loki teased, smiling.

Mesmerized by the pale body undulating above him, Stark had a moment to really look at his lover. Over the time that they've spent together, meeting in secret from the Avengers, the one physical thing that changed about Loki was his hair. Gone were the spiky, grease-covered tresses; now his hair was soft and wavy, twice the length it was when they first met. It spilled from the loose messy bun over his shoulder like a wave of black silk and Tony felt a sudden urge to touch it. Readjusting himself under Loki, Stark bent his knees, planting his feet firmly on the bed, while he kept the other's hips in place for the time being. Loki hummed at the slight change of angle and let himself be pulled forward by Tony to lie on his chest. They were so close now that Tony could count the beads of perspiration condensing on Loki's brow.

Finally able to bury his hands in his lover's hair, Stark took a handful of locks and let the strands slip through his fingers, marveling at the texture and feel. Meanwhile Loki insistently squirmed over his lap demanding attention to other parts of his body. Tony chuckled, mouthing 'impatient' against Loki's throat, then let his fingers slide over the slick plains of Loki's arched back, and dip into the cleft of his ass, where their bodies were joined. His fingertips massaged the stretched skin, scooped up some of the lube, smearing it all over, and when one of his digits found its way inside the hot body, he could hear Loki's breath hitch against his ear.

'Ha—move, you insufferable—!' A loud moan stopped Loki from finishing his curse, wrought by Tony's hips snapping forward.

'Like that?' The inventor teased, repeating the motion before Loki could even answer.

'Yes—yes, faster—!'

Tony listened and they both quickly ran out of breath—panting, moaning and kissing fervently.

'Tony, Tony—!' Loki chanted when his mouth wasn't otherwise occupied. He was rapidly losing control, alternately trying to kiss Tony and fuck himself on the mortal’s cock. He looked beautiful like that—utterly wrecked and sinful: red, kiss-swollen lips open and panting hot puffs of air that mingled with Tony's own breath; rosy cheeks and chest, shining with sweat and traces of saliva; and kiss marks all over his throat, proof that he was Tony's and Tony was his—a statement and a promise.

'God, you're driving me insane,' Stark hissed, thrusting up. 'I'm not going to last much longer.'

'Come for me then. Yes—just like that.'

Tony's hand found Loki's neglected cock and began pumping it, faster and faster until, at last, Loki came—lewd moans escaping his lips—coating both their abdomens with strings of white.

Loki mewled when his cock became overstimulated, and batted Tony's hand away. He then pushed himself up and began riding Tony fast and hard, flesh loudly slapping against flesh, in the otherwise quiet room. In a matter of minutes Tony was coming with a shout, cock buried deep inside Loki's ass.

Exhausted, they lied next to each other, limbs akimbo atop the sheets, their breaths ragged and shallow.

Loki recovered first, stretching out on the ruined bed covers like the cat who’d eaten the canary, satisfaction plainly written on his handsome face. With one last chaste kiss to Tony's lips, he stood up, heading towards the ensuite bathroom. Tony smiled—he would join him in a moment, he just suddenly felt really tired. If he could just rest for a minute...

'Tony!' Loki's voice jolted Stark awake. For a moment he felt disoriented, and a strange sound rang in his ears; it disappeared before he could place it. When he blinked, Loki was leaning over him, frowning with worry. Tony smiled and sat up yawning.

'Take a shower, Jarvis and I will make breakfast,' Loki ordered. For a moment his hand hesitated in mid-air, but he made up his mind quickly, and with delicate, water-pruned fingers, caressed the contour of Stark's jaw. 'Take your time,' he whispered with a weird kind of inflection Tony had trouble interpreting.

'You alright?' The engineer asked, grabbing for Loki's wrist before the other man could move away.

'Yes, of course,' Loki blinked, and his face instantly morphed into a pleasant smile. He patted Tony's cheek playfully and sauntered towards the kitchen, ordering Jarvis to start the coffee machine as he went.

~

The shower was supposed to be a quick affair. Tony was starving and therefore didn't want to waste time soaking under the hot spray for too long, but the thick, heavy steam made him sleepy again. It wormed its way into the marrow of his bones, rendered his limbs sluggish and head dizzy. Then there was the weird high-pitched sound again, it bled through the hiss of water and made the inventor's head hurt. He assumed that it came from the pipes and decided to let Jarvis sent some maintenance bots to check on it later.

When his eyelids eventually refused to stay open and he slipped on the expensive Italian marble tiles, almost splitting his forehead on the frosted glass door, Tony knew it was time to get the hell out of the shower. Wrapped in a fluffy, white towel, he padded to the mirror to take stock of himself. Heavy steam droplets clung to the smooth, reflective surface, obscuring Tony's view; even after trying to wipe away the condensation with his hands, his reflection was still too distorted to try and shave, so Tony just shrugged and assumed that Loki wouldn't mind the hobo look.

In the kitchen, a whole pot of freshly brewed coffee waited for him along a plate of small, gorgeous-looking sandwiches. The inventor's stomach rumbled, reminding him that he hasn't eaten in like forever. The TV was on in the living room, some news broadcast playing—the anchor's voice a low, pleasant rumble in the background.

Tony ate slowly, mindlessly staring at the moving pictures on the screen; there was some kind of accident and people were running back and forth tending to the victim on the stretcher, while the firefighters in the background were preparing to enter a collapsed building. A gas explosion, maybe?

'You're drooling. Charming.' Loki came out of nowhere, almost frightening Stark out of his skin.

There was something different about him that Tony couldn't put his finger on.

'And now you're staring, are you quite alright?'

Loki bent down, so his face could be on Tony's level as his fingers delicately touched his forehead for any signs of fever. Loki’s cool fingertips felt divine on Stark’s overheated skin as they slid to the engineer's cheek, where they lingered for a moment before disappearing all together.

And then it hit him—Loki's outfit was so unlike anything Tony was used to seeing on his lover, that at first his brain had trouble processing the change all together. Instead of the Asgardian-styled tunics Loki favored so much, he wore a gray, cashmere v-neck sweater that hugged him in all the right places, and his usual leather pants were replaced by nicely fitted black slacks.

'Is it still about the nightmare?'

Tony nodded absent-mindedly, methodically chewing on the sandwich; his mind was wandering again, maybe he was coming down with a cold?

'I think, I'll go to the workshop,' he decided at last; on the screen, the gas explosion victim was finally loaded into the ambulances and taken away; Avengers Tower stood in the background, tall like a beacon of light. Loki looked at him with pity.

'Jarvis shut you out, remember? You've spent the last six days holed up in there with almost no rest or food. Today is your day off. Come, we can finish the breakfast on the terrace, you look like you could use some fresh air.'

~

It was one of those days where the time flew by slowly, like a lazy river moving a leaf downstream. Tony wandered the house, feeling almost like a ghost in his own space—shut out from the workshop, he had nothing to do. Yet Jarvis was adamant; he would let him in only after Tony had taken a 24 hour break and had at least 8 hours of sleep.

As time passed, and Tony became more and more restless—unable to concentrate on anything for more than a moment—Loki looked at him with growing concern.

'Tony,' he would say, 'come sit with me.'

And Tony would, for a while at least, and they would cuddle, or talk about inane things like the withering palms outside of Tony's bedroom that Dummy somehow managed to water with rubbing alcohol instead of water; or how Tony blew up half of the electric grid for Malibu the last time he experimented with his tesla cage.

It was pleasant—the quiet moments when Tony would rest his head on Loki's chest and the soft cashmere tickled his cheek, as Loki's graceful fingers massaged his scalp or drew patterns on his neck and back.

They sometimes kissed slowly, as if they had all the time in the world, but Tony observed, that each time they did, Loki's eyes would become glassy, as if he was trying really hard to hold back tears. It was unusual for them to be this peaceful, instead of screwing their brains out, he had to admit, but he wasn't sure if it warranted such reaction.

'Hey,' the inventor lifted himself on one elbow to look Loki in the face. 'What's wrong?'

'Nothing, why do you ask?' The god was too quick to answer, Tony noticed, and his green eyes suddenly grew more alert, but Stark was tired of the quick, furtive glances he has been enduring all day. There was something going on that he wasn't privy to.

'You're hiding something, I can tell. You've never been this... domestic with me before, Loki.'

Tony sat up, distancing himself from his lover enough to not get distracted by his clever hands roaming where they shouldn't be, and looked at him with reproach.

'Tony—' Loki pleaded reaching a hand to touch Stark's cheek. When his fingers grazed the warm skin, Tony suddenly felt really tired.

'You're cheating,' he mumbled,  trying to keep his eyes open. In the next moment he was fast asleep.

~

'He's fighting, I don't know for how much longer I can keep this up.'

'You have to try, there is no other way.'

'I know, but his mind fights me. I might be forced to reset it. This scenario doesn't agree with him.'

'Only if there is no other way.'

~

'I think, I should check in with Pepper,' Tony mused, absentmindedly smoothing out wrinkles on the throw pillow he was holding on his lap. 'I don't remember the last time I spoke with her.'

And he really didn't. Tony’s brow creased—he wasn't even sure if she was in the States; didn't they have some big plans concerning Stark Industries expansion to Europe?

'Pepper?' Loki asked. He looked confused for a moment, and then for a fraction of a second even panicked. 'Isn't it very late where she is at? You wouldn't want to wake her up, would you?' Loki stammered, but corrected his tone quickly.

'Where is she at again?'

The billionaire closely watched his lover's face, and the feeling that Loki was hiding something from him came back with full force.

'Singapore,' the god smiled brightly, but Tony wasn't convinced—they finalized the deal in Singapore last year without any problems, there was no reason for Pepper to be there.

'Singapore,' Stark blinked lazily. 'Right. It would be what-3-4 a.m. there, or something?'

'Correct, Sir,' Jarvis chimed in. 'If you wish,  I can sent Miss Potts a message.'

'Nah, I'll call her later, just remind me.'

'Of course, Sir.'

Loki sat at the edge of the sofa, his hand resting lightly on Tony's knee.

'How are you feeling? Is your fever gone?'

'Fine, fine, that nap really helped. You know what, I have an idea, let's go to the beach. Since both of you conspirators won't let me into the workshop, I will have to entertain myself in a different way. I want to see your pretty ass,' Tony pointed a finger at Loki, 'in swimming shorts so I could ogle it shamelessly.'

'Oh, I like your train of thoughts,' the god huffed out a laugh, standing up from the sofa and deliberately swinging his hips as he made his way to the bedroom to get changed. Stark's gaze followed him, until he vanished on the staircase. There was something going on here, he was certain of it. Loki—Loki felt different; he was calmer, more relaxed than Tony remembered ever seeing him. He smiled a lot more too, and his eyes were much more bright and gentle. It made him look younger, fresher and not so world-weary. Beautiful—Tony smiled to himself. He liked that look, it made him happy to see Loki happy, but he wasn't sure how this change came to be, and that made him feel uneasy. He was missing a variable to this equation, and he was adamant to find it. He just had to devise a way to do it first.

~

The view was breathtaking—creamy expanse of skin gleaming in the sunlight with a fresh film of sunscreen, taunt muscles on display, and that perfect ass clad in damn tight, black shorts just for Tony's viewing pleasure. Going to the beach was a A+++ idea, one of Tony's best. Moreover, since it was his private beach, they were the only ones there, not a living soul for miles.

'I don't understand,' Tony tsked, shaking his head at Loki. 'Why isn't your skin red like a lobster. With such pale complexion you should be tanning in the blink of an eye!'

The god just smirked back at Tony, stray wisps of hair sticking to his forehead and temples. With a wave of a hand and a few green and gold sparks his perfect ivory skin took on a golden hue, just a shade lighter than Tony's own. Loki's eyes now looked even more stunningly green than they usually were.

The inventor wolf-whistled, appraising the new look with appreciation. It was a good look.

'So it's a glamour?' He asked, laying his hands on Loki's hips and hooking his thumbs over the elastic of the god's swimwear.

'It is whatever I want it to be.'

'That's... really a vague reply.'

Tony took a look at his lover's face but couldn't find anything alarming. Loki's eyes were smiling when he leaned in for a kiss—just a soft brush of lips against lips.

'Let's go swimming, the heat is driving me insane,' Loki whispered against Stark's mouth, then took his hand and started guiding him towards the water.

It was hard, at first, after Afghanistan, for Tony to enjoy deep water, or water in general. He just couldn't stand the feeling of it touching his skin.

Warm water wasn't as bad as the cold—being submerged in the cold water made his muscles lock with fear and panic, his lungs burning with phantom pain of oxygen deprivation, he remembered so well from the countless hours of near drowning in the cold, dirty cave in the middle of a desert. At the beginning, he refused to even be near any pool of deep water, be it natural or man-made. Gradually, over the years that followed his recovery and battle with the PTSD, he learned to cope, and later even enjoy, to some extent, the presence of it, but it could never be like it was before his abduction.

Now, here with Loki, he hesitated before taking the first step towards the vast blue—the water was calm and clear, the waves lapping at his ankles felt pleasantly cool, and Loki's hand in his own was strong. He haven’t told the god about his fears, it never really felt like a good time to breach the topic. He knew, of course, about Afghanistan, in general, but not about the horrors that Tony went through there. Not even Pepper knew the entire story, only Rhodey, but it took him years of coaxing bits and pieces of information from Tony before he saw the whole picture.

As he was led further away from the shore the water began to rise, adding more and more to his fears. With it licking at his sternum, Tony was suddenly left alone, Loki's hand letting go of his, as the god dove under the approaching wave and surfaced several feet away. The billionaire instantly froze—the lull of the waves trying to push him off balance. He tried to call for Loki, but his lips refused to open in fear of water getting inside his lungs. He just stood there, wave after wave crashing against his resolve to enjoy this mundane activity with his lover.

'Are you coming?' Loki called, smiling at him invitingly. So Tony made a hesitant step forward, then another, the god's smile a beacon shining through his rising panic. He was almost there, almost at Loki's side, water crashing at his face and going into his nose and eyes, and then Loki was gone again, swallowed by the waves, out of Tony's reach. It was too much to bear for the inventor, and when the panic took over, he had no arsenal to fight it. The water pouring in through his nose made him choke and involuntarily open his mouth to gasp for air, which was an obvious mistake as more water instantly flooded his respiratory tract. He tried to run from it, but the panic and constantly approaching waves disoriented him enough, that the next step he made was into the darkness of the deep sea. His limbs felt heavy, the pressure is his lungs excruciating, his mind rendered blank. He was alone, surrounded by blackness and for a moment he thought he saw the Chitauri armada lurking in the gloom of the void before him.

'He's crashing!' A voice shouted, distorted by the water in his ears. 'We need—'

~

'His mind is collapsing!'

'Then do something! Are you even trying to help?'

'I care for him as much as you do!'

'Then prove it.'

~

An echo of a high whistle rang in his ears, mingling with other noises his muddled mind couldn't process. They grew in insistence as the whistle faded away, and he could finally recognize his name being called. Then, suddenly, his other senses came crashing back and Tony choked out a portion of seawater. Curling in on himself he vomited the disgusting concoction of water and salt, until both his stomach and his lungs were content free.

He could feel the grains of impossibly white sand sticking to his cheek and lips. He was too weak to even open his eyes, let alone move away from the vile puddle of vomit and sea water. And then it was gone, and he felt weightless, being lifted up and cradled in strong arms.

'I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.'

Like a mantra, Loki's voice repeated those words, whispering them against Stark's forehead over and over again, until at last the inventor's back hit the soft mattress of his own bed. Loki's hands disappeared from around him and Tony panicked, again left alone and helpless. His eyes flew open and he wanted to call Loki's name, but only a soft keen managed to escape his abused throat, but the god heard it nonetheless and instantly appeared at his side with a wet cloth to wash away all the grime and sand.

'I'm here, I'm sorry, I'm here. You're safe now. You're safe.'

Loki carefully cleaned Tony's face and chest, then proceeded to strip his wet shorts and dry his body and hair with a fluffy towel. Tony was completely boneless, and let the god manhandle him without complain. When he was done, Loki vanished for a moment in the bathroom, and when he came back out he was clean and dry, his hair curling into a soft black halo around his face. He climbed onto the bed behind Tony and hugged him tight to his chest. The billionaire could feel the silent sobs wrecking through Loki's body as the god tried to swallow his tears, but he was too exhausted to turn around, so instead he took Loki's hand, intertwined his fingers with the god's and kissed the back of his hand.

Loki's sobs only grew stronger.

~

Eventually they drifted off to sleep entangled in a tight embrace. A warm breeze ruffled the curtains, inviting in a faraway squeal of seagulls and waves crashing onto the shore. A ceramic chime, one of Pepper's additions to the home decor, chimed somewhere in the house—it sounded wrong.

Tony stirred first. Yawning into the pillow, he tried to sit up, but Loki's heavy arms pressed him square against the god's chest, effectively restraining his movements. He wiggled against his bonds, trying to loosen up the hold without waking Loki up, but the vice around him only tightened more.

'Loki, I need to go to the bathroom.'

The god huffed a breath against Tony's neck, making the inventor shiver, but otherwise didn't react.

'Let me go, or I'm going to piss on the bed,' the inventor warned, wiggling his butt more insistently against Loki.

'I don't care, I can magic it away.'

'Gross! Come on, let me up.'

With a heavy sigh, Loki pressed a kiss to Tony's neck and finally let him slip away.

In the bathroom, the engineer relieved himself quickly, taking extra care to avoid looking in the mirror as he went past it—he knew he looked like shit.

Loki didn't move an inch during the time Tony was away, he still occupied over half of the bed, limbs splayed in every direction, naked butt on full display, and face pressed into the pillow. His golden skin contrasted beautifully with the white sheets and Tony wanted nothing more than to ravish him on the spot. And if he could overwrite recent memories with something this pleasant, well it was an added bonus.

Climbing over the prone form of his lover, Stark kissed his way up from Loki's butt, through the long expanse of his back muscles and shoulder blades, to finally bury his nose in the long black tresses fanning out over Loki's shoulders and neck. The god hummed his approval, turning around under Tony and exposing himself to further worship. Tony's lips worked slowly, laving with attention every beauty spot he could find. Then he moved lower and took one of Loki's nipples between his teeth and tugged, lightly biting on the hardening nub. The god mewled, arching his back off the bed, his fingers flying to bury themselves in Tony's short hair.

They made love slowly, intimately, and Tony was once again amazed at the change in Loki. The tenderness and care he exhibited were in stark contrast to their previous sexual encounters—quick, hot and sometimes quite savage.

This he liked better, but it also scared him, because he didn't know the reason for the change, and the now ever-present feeling of Loki hiding something from him was stronger than ever. Tony had an idea what was happening, but he needed to test his theory first.

~

As their bodies cooled down from the lovemaking, Stark turned around to face his lover.

'You know,' he started slow, observing the god's expression. 'I think it's about time we go back.'

'Go back?' Loki murmured sleepily.

'To the Avengers Tower. I kinda had had enough of this place.'

'Why would you want to go back?' Loki opened his eyes and blinked slowly. 'There is nothing for you there.'

'What?'

'You retired, remember? That's what you always wanted, no? To end the team and settle down?' Loki feigned a yawn—Tony could tell. His half-closed eyes were too alert under those long eyelashes—the god was measuring his reaction.

'That's true, but I don't remember quitting. When did I retire exactly?' Tony's voice rose in volume and he moved back and away from his lover. Loki made a face, and propped himself on one elbow.

'Your memory lapses are starting to worry me, maybe I should—' Loki reached out a hand to touch Tony's temple, but the inventor stopped him. He wouldn't fall for the same trick twice.

'No, Loki. Tell me what is really going on. You are lying to me.'

'Tony? I don't know what you're talking about,' Loki pleaded.

'Sir, Mister Liesmith is correct, you have retired from the team. If you wish I can show you the files,' Jarvis interjected, recognizing that his creator was on the verge of a panic attack.

'You are trying to manipulate me again! But you didn't do your homework, Loki.' Tony growled, getting up from the bed, and away from the god's magic. 'Pepper, she's not in Singapore, isn't she? You're messing with my mind, but you screwed up on the details, babe. Tiny, insignificant details, but enough to make me doubt,' Stark ranted, becoming more and more agitated.

'The fucking chime that Pepper hung on the terrace, it wasn't ceramic, it was bamboo. And my private beach, you've never seen it, have you? The sand isn't white!' Stark shouted furious, gesturing towards the windows where the part of the beach was visible. 'I made a bet with Rhodey a few years back and lost, so on a dare he made me import pink sand from Bahamas, the one with the tiny red corals, and it still hasn’t entirely wash away!'

'Tony please, calm yourself,' Loki reached out towards him again, but Tony recoiled, even if he was far out of Loki's reach.

~

'He knows.'

'Make him believe you.'

'I can’t, it’s over.'

~

Tony gasped, momentarily confused. He was afraid and didn’t know what to do, but on the other hand he felt so angry for being betrayed again.

The inventor's stomach rolled, bile climbing his throat. He wouldn’t be used again. Stark outstretched his hand, to call on the suit. He needed to get to it, before a panic attack would claim him. He could feel it at the back of his head, just waiting for the opportunity to strike.

'I'm sorry, Sir, but if you recall, all your suits have been dismantled,' Jarvis' voice sounded apologetic and sincere, but it was the last straw. He had never lied to Tony. Never.

The engineer's breath hitched and his head began to swim, nausea rolling over his stomach as his gut clenched painfully.

This— this everything was a lie. Loki was a lie, their relationship was all wrong. And Jarvis—Jarvis didn’t even exist anymore.

'Calm down, Tony,' Loki insisted with hands outstretched in a placating gesture. 'Breathe, please.'

'Everything is wrong,' Stark gasped, stumbling away, his back hitting the far wall. 'You, you are wrong! You are not Loki! You— this is a lie! All a lie! What did you do to me?'

It all came crashing down at once. His ears were assaulted by a cacophony of sounds—humans running around and shouting to be heard over an obnoxiously loud beeping noise. He could barely understand what they were saying, there were so many voices. For a moment he could swear that he heard Cap, ordering Loki to step back and make room for the doctors. Then another voice was shouting 'clear' and the world around him collapsed. The last thing he saw before he went under, was Loki's face, twisted in horror.

~

allantieeart.tumblr.com

~

He felt as if he was drifting again. It wasn't pleasant and reminded him of that time when he flew a nuke through a wormhole and his suit refused to work. The blackness closed around him, stifling any sound he tried to make.

No one can hear you scream in the void.

But this time there was no alien armada suspended between distant stars, no army just waiting to conquer Earth.

There was nothing.

But then, there wasn't.

A memory surfaced at the back of his mind. Him, fighting with a Doombot, above busy Manhattan streets, shouting at his AI for not helping him.

'Uh, a little help here? I swear to God Friday, I'm going to scrap you! Deploy flaps!'

And then the crash, and tons of concrete falling from the sky to bury him alive.

~

Tony wheezed as sudden pain bloomed in his chest. He almost expected to see Yinsen bend over him with that enigmatic half-smile and a car battery under one arm, ready to be connected to his heart. Yet when his eyes flung open and unbearably slowly focused on the room he was in, Tony breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't a cave in Afghanistan, it was a white hospital room. But the instant the sigh left his lungs Tony choked on the breathing tube shoved deep down into his throat. He tried clawing at it, but a vice-like grip on his wrists stopped his desperate attempts.

'Tony, please calm down, the tube needs to stay where it is,' Loki's face appeared in his field of vision. He looked like shit, Stark noticed, with eyes red from crying and leather armor torn in many places. Tony even spied a few dried specks of blood on Loki's chin and throat.

'I'm sorry—I'm so sorry,' Loki's lower lip trembled and a few hot tears rolled down his flushed cheeks. 'I shouldn't have played with your mind so cruelly, but you were fading fast, and I needed to keep you alive long enough for Thor to return with the healing stones,' Loki sobbed.

'It was a close call, Tony. You gave us all a scare. A building collapsed on you.' Steve stepped from behind Loki into Tony’s field of vision.

Yeah, he was starting to recall bits and pieces of it now. He wanted to ask questions, but with the damn tube in his throat it was impossible. So instead he mustered all the strength he had and lifted a hand to intertwine his fingers with Loki's.

The god was a beautiful mess—uncontrollably sniffing, with tears trickling down his pale skin, red splotches coloring his high cheekbones. When Tony's fingers grazed his, Loki's sobs grew louder and he bent down to kiss each bruised knuckle on Tony's hand. Steve stood awkwardly in the legs of Tony's bed, watching the scene with a soft smile playing at the corner of his lips. When his and Tony's eyes met for a brief moment, the captain smiled brightly and saluted with two fingers.

'I will leave you two alone now. Loki, call if you need anything. And try to rest, both of you.'

'Thank you, Captain,' the god nodded, without taking his eyes off Tony.

When the doors clicked shut behind Steve, and they were finally left alone, Loki sighed loudly.

'You heard the Captain, you should rest. The stones helped repair the worst of the damage, but there is still a long path to recovery ahead of you. I shall leave as well.'

Loki stood to move, but Tony clutched desperately at his fingers, refusing to let them go. Loki looked surprised at first, but then he smiled through tears.

'Or maybe I could tell you a story about how the Avengers discovered that you and I were together. There was a lot of screaming involved; you wouldn't believe how high pitched our lovely Widow’s screams can get...' He began.

Tony slowly calmed down and was drifting back and forth between sleep and consciousness, lulled by Loki's soft voice. He was certain that they would meet in his dream again, but this time without lies. Maybe then he would tell Loki how much he loved him. Yeah, the plan sounded just right.

~ ~ ~