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Playing Pretend

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“What are they doing?” Loki asked with his nose scrunched up in distaste. Tony rolled to the side on the picnic blanket to get a view on what Loki was looking at.

“Role playing,” Tony said with an easy yawn. The spring sunlight that dappled through the blooming cherry tree above them provided the perfect amount of warmth.

“But they are not sparring,” Loki added in.

Tony got a better look at the kids. Three girls, all around six or seven years old. They were each wearing a flower crown. One was holding a toy baton that was pink and had a shiny heart on top, along with frilly bows. She was giving some speech as the other two pretended to be enraptured.

“Probably some fairy tale game. Not all role playing games having sparring in them.”

“Then what is the point?” Loki looked genuinely confused and Tony laughed. He would have pulled him down for a kiss, if Loki wasn’t so opposed to PDA.

“The point is to have fun. What did children do in Asgard to have fun?”

“Reenact battles and listen to war stories.” Loki was frowning.

“Well that’s not how we do it down here.”

He could see Loki contemplating his answer. Tony just smiled and enjoyed the weather and having his lover so close.

When Tony woke up the next morning it was to Jarvis’ voice.

“Sir, we seem to have a,” Jarvis paused and Tony was put on full alert, “strange situation.”

Tony turned to wake Loki, but he was nowhere in sight.

“What is it?”

“Mr. Loki is outside of the tower, knocking on the front door. I have granted him access, but he refuses to be let in by anyone other than you.”

Tony wrinkled his brow in confusion and worry.

“Put him on screen.”

Loki was right outside of the tower, as Jarvis had said. His hand was rapping against the reinforced glass next to the automatic sliding doors. He was dressed in… Tony didn’t know how to describe it beyond rags. Instead of his normal regal poise he was bent over slightly.

“What the fuck,” Tony whispered while getting out of bed. He pulled on the first pair of jeans he could find, already wearing a tank top. He didn’t bother with shoes, too concerned to find any.

Did Loki have a nightmare? Did it trigger something in him that he’d been hiding? Was this a residual effect from mind control? Had he been attacked and was too scared to talk to anyone, but Tony?

Tony tapped on the casing of his reactor, trying not to let his paranoia overtake him. When he finally reached the lobby he ran to the door, but before he could say anything Loki was on his knees, hands clasped together in front of him.

“Please, Lord Stark, lower the taxes on your domain. I barely have a penny to feed myself or my children.”

Everything clicked into place in an instant.

“Your concerns are none of mine, peasant.” Tony sneered, raising his chin up haughtily, despite knowing he looked completely rumpled.

“Please, sir.” Loki crawled forward on his knees. “The harvest was poor this year due to the drought. We can’t possibly pay you.”

“If you can’t pay then you’ll simply be jailed and made to work in my personal fields.”

Loki’s eyes went wide with fear.

“But what of my children? They’ll die without me.”

“Are you truly so foolish? They’d be jailed too and forced to labor away as they should have been doing already. You peasants coddle your children far too much.”

“They have been working the fields since they could stand,” Loki said pathetically. He looked the perfect picture of helplessness.

“Guards! Seize this disgusting excuse for a human!” His security guards glanced at each other in confusion. They knew Loki had access to the tower. “Now!” He scowled at them, using an arrogant voice that went beyond any he’d used before, even in his most prideful years. The two suit clad guards sprang into action, gripping Loki by his upper arm and pulling him up, waiting for more directions. “This way.” He turned on his heels, knowing they would follow.

“My lord, please!” He could tell Loki was putting up a fake struggle against the guards as he was hauled forward.

“Silence, lest I send you to the gallows for your insolence.” Loki instantly became quiet. Loki’s scuffed boots made a depressing noise as he was dragged across the smooth floors. The elevator opened. “Throw him in. I can handle this scourge from here,” Tony said, knowing it wouldn’t hurt Loki in the least. The guards still tossed him carefully though. The elevator doors closed with the pair in them. “Word traveled that you would darken my doorsteps of my castle, so I had your children brought here, in case you tried to do something foolish.”

Loki looked up at him from the corner of the elevator, curled up and breathing shallow.

“How… how did you know?”

“My men are loyal to me and my tax collectors can always spot a troublemaker.” Tony stared at the elevator doors, eyes disinterested. “Jarvis, to the fields.” He figured his AI would be able to figure out what he meant and he was proven correct when the doors opened to the lab hallway. “Come.”

Loki walked meekly behind him.

“Are… are they alright?” Loki whispered. Tony didn’t respond. When they entered the lab Dum-E and U rolled over quickly, surrounding Loki, beeping and whistling. “I’m so sorry for dragging you all into this,” Loki said while lower down to hug them. “Had I known…” Loki’s voice sounded tight and Tony would have to complement him on his acting skills later.

“Don’t dawdle.” Tony’s voice was scathing. “Dum-E! Fetch me some coffee! U, sweep up that corner. And you,” Tony rounded on Loki, “you shall be my personal errand boy. I hope you’re a quick study.”

“Yes, my lord. Just please don’t hurt my children.” Tears fell from Loki’s green eyes.

“We shall see.” Tony gave him a contemplative look. “Soldering iron, now,” Tony said while turning to one of his projects.

The morning was filled with Loki fumbling with tools, tripping, and pretending to be completely incompetent. Tony scolded him, throwing insult after insult, but trying not to cross any lines. He banished Dum-E to his charging port and Loki cried.

When lunchtime came around Tony ended their game by pulling Loki off the ground and smothering him with kisses. Loki laughed and his face became flushed.

“Have fun?” Tony asked, not letting Loki go.

“It was a very different experience, I did enjoy myself though, especially when you ordered your employees around. I think you gave them a scare.”

Tony groaned.

“Yeah, I know. Pep is going to kill me when she sees the videos some onlookers took.”

Loki laughed again.

“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.”

Tony thought that was the end of Loki’s little game, but he was proven wrong four days later.

He woke once again to Jarvis’ voice.

“Sir, Mr. Loki is in the infirmary,” Jarvis reported. There a slight undertone of exasperation to Jarvis’ voice, easing Tony’s initial anxiety.

“Another game?”

“I believe so, Sir.”

“I think I’ll dress the part this time.” He didn’t own any lab coats personally, but knew that Bruce was a complete nerd and probably did. “Call Bruce.”

“You’re up early,” Bruce observed. He almost looked concerned in the hologram.

“Yup. I need to borrow a lab coat.”


“For science,” Tony said right away. Bruce gave him a suspicious look before sighing.

“In my lab, far left corner. There should at least be three hanging there. Don’t bother returning it. I don’t want to know what you’re really using it for.”

“Awesome.” Bruce sighed again and the call was cut off. “J, tell Loki that the doctor will see him soon.”

He had a bit of preparation to do.

Tony walked into the infirmary, wearing lensless glasses, and had a clipboard in hand. He was scribbling away on the sheets of blank paper he’d grabbed, not looking over at Loki. He knew from the surveillance feed that he was sitting on an examination table.

“What seems to the problem, Mr. Friggason?” Tony asked, finally looking at him. Loki did look paler than usual. He really was a good actor.

“Dr. Stark,” his voice was hoarse, “I’ve had this cough for weeks and it’s only getting worse.”

Tony nodded, showing grave concern.

“You should have come in sooner. A persistent cough is often an indicator of various maladies.” Loki blushed and looked down at his lap. So he was going to pretend to be shy. How cute. “We’ll start with the basics.”

Tony pulled out a blood pressure gauge and Loki offered up his arm freely. Tony noticed that he wasn’t wearing his usual alien garb, but street clothes.

Tony performed the test, already knowing the results he would get.

“Your blood pressure is good.” Tony pretended to put a note down on the clipboard. “Heartrate next.” Tony rifled through the drawers before finding a stethoscope. “Breathe in deeply.” Loki’s heartrate was ridiculously slow, but it always was. He moved the stethoscope around a few times, surprised by how much he was enjoying himself. He pulled away and drew the picture of a heart then a check mark next to it on his clipboard. “Your heart sounds healthy, but your lungs sounded like they’re crackling.”

Loki coughed roughly and Tony was quick to get him a tissue and glass of water.

“I thought it was only my throat,” Loki said after chugging half the water down.

“I’m afraid not, but I’m going to need to look at your throat and take a swab to identify what you have exactly.” He grabbed a tongue depressor from a glass jar. “Nurse! We’re going to need a throat swab!” Tony said loudly.

From the corner of his eye he watched Loki’s reaction as Dum-E wheeled in, a shirt with little ducks designs was flung on him haphazardly along with a nurse hat Tony had folded out of newspaper. Loki had to cover his mouth to stop from laughing.

“Thank you, nurse.” Tony said completely serious as he took the swab from Dum-E’s claw. Dum-E let out a single beep, somehow sounding professional.

Loki bit his tongue and Tony pretended to look for a small flashlight to give him time to compose himself.

When he looked like he was under control Tony approached him. Loki automatically opened his mouth, sticking his tongue out slightly. Tony swabbed the inside of his cheek before reaching behind him blindly. Dum-E took the swab with another beep before wheeling off.

He pressed Loki’s tongue down with the wide popsicle stick and used the flashlight to look down his throat.

“Your throat is nearly swollen shut. I’m surprised you can breathe at all.” Tony adjusted the exam table so that it was a chair. He pushed Loki back slightly until he was flush with it. “I’ll be right back. If breathing suddenly becomes harder push this button.” Tony handed him a click pen.

“Thank you, doctor,” Loki wheezed out.

Tony nodded before disappearing into the hallway. His serious façade slipped and he was smiling widely. There was a small kitchen and Tony already had brought down Loki’s favorite mug and tea. All he had to do was heat it up.

He glanced around and saw that all his other props were ready. Dum-E was fruitlessly trying to pick up his newspaper hat and put it back on.

Tony gave him a pat while chuckling before tapping the hat back in place.

The microwave went off and Tony made sure the tea was the perfect temperature before returning to the exam room, looking the part of a doctor again.

“This should ease the immediate swelling,” Tony said while handing over the warm mug.

“Thank you, doctor.” Loki took a sip before sighing. Tony pretended to scribble down more notes. When he was done with the drink Tony made a discreet movement, signaling Jarvis.

Dum-E came in, carrying a piece of paper and a plastic bottle filled with the strawberry hard candies that Loki adored.

Tony took the sheet of paper and bottle.

“Hmm, not as bad as I originally thought.” Tony handed Loki the bottle. “Anti-biotics, bed rest, and soup should do you a world of good. I think I should send a nurse with you though. I don’t want you out of bed.”

“Are you sure?” Loki was giving that wide eyed look that always got to Tony.

“Yes, don’t worry. I think you’ll like the nurse. He’s a personal friend of mine.”

Loki nodded before getting off the table, clutching the ‘medicine’ carefully.

“Thank you again, doctor.”

“It was a pleasure.”

Tony waited until he was sure Loki was in the elevator before grabbing a shirt with a little tin can and reindeer pattern. It had been a gag gift from Clint and Tony had no idea where he got it.

He pulled it on before making another nurse hat, one that could actually fit his head.

When he got upstairs Loki was already bundled up in their bed.

Tony introduced himself and Loki held back a smile.

He spent the rest of the day pampering Loki before they just cuddled and fell asleep in each other’s arms.

Their games continued for months, from pirates to homemakers.

Tony did notice that Loki did have a favorite game though, playing wedding.

It had startled Tony the first time, but he was quick to get into the act.

It was always the one Loki prepared for the most, using kid scissors to cut out decorations, different each time. He made real cake (or cupcakes), created soundtracks, and set up seats that wouldn’t be filled where ever the ‘wedding’ was to take place.

Sometimes Loki would dress up as a bride, all in white and in a frilly dress that probably cost a pretty penny. Other times they were both be grooms. On one memorable occasion Tony was the bride and Loki pretended to be a bridesmaid as he helped Tony put on his dress which was made solely out of toilet paper.

The bots would always try to catch the bouquet, regardless of whether it was real or imagined. Dum-E and Butterfingers had gotten into a fight once over a bouquet of coiled wires that Tony had tossed over his shoulders.

Loki and Tony had laughed at them before heading to their ‘honeymoon’, which was just their bedroom to consummate their marriage.

They were in the park having a picnic again, but this time it was fall and Tony was already bundled up. Loki was reading a book, not bothered by the cold.

“You know I love our games,” Tony said while sitting up, leaves beneath their picnic blanket crunching under his weight. Loki set aside his book.

“I love them too.” Loki smiled brightly and his cheeks became flushed.

“There’s one I’d rather not play again though.” A bit of sadness drifted into Loki’s eyes. Tony shifted, reaching into his pocket. “I’d rather make it a reality.” He held out a golden ring. “Loki, will you marry me?” Loki was frozen for a moment before tackling Tony with a hug, nearly knocking the ring out of his hand.

“Of course I’ll marry you!” Loki said between kisses. Tony wrapped him in his arms and laughed happily.