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Answers That Are Not Yet Known

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She is beautiful in the same way Pepper is beautiful, except Tony doesn't know that she's as competant as Pepper, and there's something almost artificially perfect about her. It doesn't mean he isn't going to flirt, and make it seem like he's trying to get her to come home with him - and maybe he is trying to get her to leave with him, but only to take her home to her place, because he's not going to hurt Pepper by bringing someone home with him. Even if he is playing to his reputation.

The smile he gets in return is bright and charming, and she flirts back with the ease of someone who doesn't quite mean what they're saying. It doesn't bother him, and he relaxes into the familiar rhythm. Familiar until she leans in close, as if to whisper something that means nothing into his ear.

"You may have stopped one manner of death, but you are still dying, man of iron. Even you cannot stop your own mortality." There's something else there, and he's almost certain it's an unspoken offer to do what he can't - except he doesn't know how to respond to that, when the only others he's met who might have a crack at that are both aliens who call themselves gods, and might just be that. One of which is on his team, and one of which tried to kill him. It makes him wonder which category this woman falls into.

"Maybe, maybe not, but I'll keep trying, or die in the process." He shrugs, as if it's nothing, his smile wide and bright and false and all too brief before the frown he's trying to hide wins out. He excuses himself, and goes back to circulating, as does she - and Tony realizes he never even asked her name, nor did she give it.

Except when he wakes up the next morning, with Pepper nestled into his side, he finds a number he didn't program into his phone on it, with the name "Anat" attached to it. He's not about to call it, and he is seriously tempted to delete it - but not before he researches the name, or tells JARVIS to actually do the research while he fiddles with his suit.

What JARVIS gives him is kinda scary and kinda hot, and all kinds of dangerous if she's going to turn out to be their enemy. Which he's not sure if she is or isn't, not if she'd been on the invite list to the gala that had been Fury's way of telling them to play nice with the public so they could have some good press. At least she hadn't seemed like an enemy to him.

Though if the next week is anything to go by, she isn't exactly a friend either, at least not to them. He isn't sure how the program got onto the various servers it did - and he knows it's a program, as he's been able to find it, even though every time he thinks he's gotten rid of it, it roars back to life. Until it disappears all on its own. Which is not how malicious software works, except this does.

"Is there a reason our friendly neighborhood psychotic Norse God is hanging out with a Middle Eastern goddess of beauty and war?" It's a rhetorical question thrown out because Tony is bored in a meeting, and it makes Fury glare at him, Thor look thoughtful, and the rest of the Avengers mostly to look pained. "I mean, how does he meet her in the first place, and why do we all look at the same woman and see totally different things?"

He expects the answer to the last is magic, and that's nothing short of frustrating, because he doesn't like having something he can't figure out. Or maybe it's some sort of telepathic field, making people see what they consider beautiful, because come on, she's a goddess of beauty, and not everyone has the same standards of beauty. And telepathy he can get behind, telepathy he can figure out, because it's not magic, and he'd really like to think it's telepathy rather than magic.

"From my research, I suspect it's likely that Loki met her long before we would have been aware of their existence as anything other than the gods of mythology. Likely here on Earth, though there isn't sufficient evidence as to where or when, exactly." Coulson - and Tony still isn't sure he's forgiven Fury for letting them think the agent was dead - nodded toward the tablet Tony had been using during the meeting. "The report is available to you if you care to read it, Mr. Stark."

"Right." It's even probably something JARVIS included in the research Tony had been doing, but that Tony hadn't actually looked at. Yet. He'll do that when he's in the comfort of his own penthouse, rather than sitting bored in an Avengers meeting which he really doesn't think is worth the time. It's not like they have anything new other than the abrupt end to the harassment from Loki. Which had only been directed at five of them.

"Hey, why didn't he bother anyone else with his little game?" He ignores the wince from Banner, and Fury's glare with equal ease. Natasha's raised eyebrow almost makes him wince, though, and he's not sure what the expression on Coulson's face means, but it does make him wince. "I mean, he didn't have any problem trying to kill his brother before this, or causing mayhem, so why just this harassment, and why leave some of us out?"

It's a question he suspects more than one of them had, but that no one wanted to ask, because in their life, it's inviting things to go all pear-shaped, and that's not what he's doing, really, he's not. But it's curious, why Loki had only targeted them, and why his harassment of Natasha and Coulson had been different from his harassment of Fury and Banner and Tony himself.