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In Plain Sight

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Tony breathed deeply, enjoying the feeling of fresh air on his skin as his mask opened. He kept his cannons ready and on target, as did everyone else with their own weapons, with the exception of Thor and Steve, who held their current catch firmly in front of them.

He stared at the trickster´s face, expecting to find the usual rage and hatred he so commonly saw on recently-defeated villains' faces. Instead, and yet a bit unsurprising, given what he had come to learn about him, Loki´s face was perfectly blank, if only, his lips were a bit thinner, pressed together in disgust, as his eyes scanned his surrounding enemies, no doubt scheming already, until something else reclaimed his attention. That´s when Tony got an actual surprise.

As soon as Loki saw the metallic mask being taken his way, the God´s green eyes widened, and, seemingly not caring that he was chained, being pointed at by at least gun, a bow and two cannons, held between two physically superior men, and within arm´s range of the green monster that had nearly broken everything in him just a few hours ago, he struggled, and, using his captors as leverage, hit the agent holding the mask with a well aimed kick at the chin.

The clatter of the mask against the floor was lost under Loki´s grunts as he tried in vain to free himself.

"The time for fighting is over, brother!" Thor grunted, strengthening his grip on the pale God´s arm. "Accept your defeat with dignity"

There were no words to describe the hatred present in Loki´s glare, as he focused it on Thor.

"I did, already. What is this attempt at further humiliating me?" He hissed, his voice trembling with barely restrained rage "Was this your idea, brother?" Thor frowned at the mocking tone given to the title. "Of course it wasn´t, you couldn´t bring yourself to grasp the concept of irony even if.."

"Oh, shut up already!" He hadn´t paid attention to Iron Man´s moving bulk, until the red of his armor flashed right next to him. "Don´t be a sore loser, Loki." He lifted his hands, and the prisoner took in the sight of the mask once again coming to him. Immediately ducking and pulling at his captive arms again, he was forced to stop when the Hulk placed both hands over his shoulders, effectively preventing him from moving.

"Fasten it already, my friend." Of course Thor understood, Loki knew. And of course he wasn´t enjoying it. But his frustration was slightly diminished; bringing to his brother´s mind the fact that he was once again the one holding him down for punishment.

Tony moved to place the mask against the God´s face, who now kept still as rock, staring ahead as if nothing was happening. But when the metal grazed his skin, his determination wavered for just a second, and his eyes drifted to Tony´s. At the fear and desperation burrowed deep within those green ponds, the millionaire understood.

His hands froze in place, as his mind ran, fast as always. It made him imagine himself being forced into silence not for the first, but the second time, rendered vulnerable against anything and everything. Then, contradicting itself, it tried to convince him that this wasn´t damaging or painful in any way, just a preventive measure that would be removed as soon as the brothers arrived at Asgard. And, once again turning on the completely opposite direction, it reminded him that, along with his voice, he was stripping Loki of his magic, the only thing that he had forcefully achieved to make himself worthy in his own realm. Just when he was picturing himself stripped and banned from wearing his suit ever again, once again reduced to a simple, average human, the mask was snatched from his hands by a very impatient Steve.

"What are you doing?" And Tony understood that his drifting away had been not just a second, but several of them; long enough to make his friends worried that he had been affected by the trickster´s power, and pushed him aside.

The mask was forcefully thrust over a pale face, metal clasps fastened behind his nape, and Tony stared, as if hypnotized by the hopeless enslaving of the being that he had come to realize was so much like him. He didn´t even flinch as Loki´s eyes found his, staring back instead.

The skin on his forehead wrinkled, the green eyes narrowed into a frown, and Tony knew what Loki had found in his eyes.

Not forgiveness. Never forgiveness, but what had eluded so many, too engulfed in the trickster´s actions to mind his motives.

Understanding.

The God held his gaze even as the lightning emmited by the Tesseract blinded them, and a moment later, Tony found himself staring into nothingness, his mind still bearing the sight of the mischievous flash on the resigned green eyes, knowing exactly what it mean.

Now you will never forget.

And Tony knew he wouldn´t.