Loki has moods. Tony knows Loki has moods. He's a quasi-god trying to get used to mundane mortal (even if he's probably still immortal, Tony doesn't ask) life stuck using his powers to help the Avengers for the past two years. And until Odin decides he's redeemed himself or something rather, he stays on Earth. Sometimes, Loki has moods because he gets bored or frustrated, sometimes Tony thinks it's the guilt that still haunts him even if he claims otherwise. He's broken, defeated, hanging at the edge of sanity, but most days, he holds his shit together. Most days, he manages to not give into the urges of mischief and mayhem, well, at least not on a large scale. Today is not one of those days.
Today had started quietly enough. Loki stayed in his room through breakfast and only left it until well after noon. He hasn't touched the food Tony had set aside, nor has he even acknowledged Tony's presence. Instead, he has been staring at his tablet, frantically searching things, completely absorbed in his own world. Tony let him. Some days, you just need time to yourself. By dinner time, Loki still hasn't moved from the couch, and Tony think it's time he eats something, or say something, or just move.
Normally, Loki is a surprisingly hearty eater much like his brother but on days like these, he's pickier than a five-year-old with a vendetta against vegetables. Neither of them cook, so Tony decides to grab some Thai food for him and Loki, since rice congee is about the only thing he touches. By the time he gets back, Loki is gone from the couch.
"Hey," Tony says to the empty room, "I brought food. Thought you might like some?"
No answer. Of course not. Tony can make out a shadow outside the windows of his penthouse on the balcony. He goes there, take-out bag still in hand.
"Hey, I thought you might be hungry." But when Loki turns around, Tony drops the bag and tenses. This isn't the Loki dressed comfortably in black pants and a simple tunic shirt. No, this is the Loki whom Tony remembers from his nightmares dressed in full armour, glowing staff in hand , and while he's not wearing a helmet, the wind is blowing his long hair making him look just as intimidating. Tony hopes the sudden uncertainty doesn't show in his voice. "What's going on?"
"It does not concern you, mortal." Loki hisses.
"Mortal, huh? I thought we were past that." He hopes they were, they've been sharing a bed for nearly six months now.
"Did you now?" Loki sneers and lifts the staff off the ground.
"Okay, I know we didn't really define our... thing," Tony makes a vague hand motion, "but I'm pretty sure our thing was okay. You were okay, until this morning. Talk to me." He takes a couple of steps toward Loki. Probably not the best idea, but it's all he's got.
"You are but a pawn in a greater plan." There's pain in Loki's eyes and it nearly breaks Tony's heart.
"At least tell me what changed your mind."
"You are all the same."
"Okay I have no idea what you are talking about." He doesn't. He's just gone from Loki brooding on the couch to Loki looking like he's on a warpath. For a moment, Tony braces himself when there is a flash of light and a gust of air, but instead of being thrown to the floor, a file folder drops in front of Tony's feet, black S.H.I.E.L.D symbol. This is a few clearance levels above Tony's level. He picks it up.
"How did you get this?" He flips past the title page and the code names tell him nothing. "What is this?"
"Don't play stupid, you know exactly what this is!" Loki crosses what distance is left between them, the blade end of the staff pointing at Tony and he's not sure that's a comfortable position to be in given Loki's rage.
"I don't, I swear to you, I don't even know how to pronounce Jǫrmungandr." By Loki's face, he's really butchered it. He glances back down at the file and pauses. It can't be. He flips through the pages, reading the same thing over and over again. Family: Loki Laufeyson, father; Loki Laufeyson, father; Loki Laufeyson, mother- what? He looks up at Loki. They even used the name he hated most of all.
"It doesn't matter if you knew or not. You and your S.H.I.E.L.D. collecting information, weaknesses, to do as you will with my kin. I will not let this happen." He spits out, the tip of the blade nearly touching Tony's stomach, but Tony continues to read the files. It's too much information at once, serpents and wolves, and horses, and half-children, something about the afterlife and the end of the world.
"Is this true?" He looks up at Loki. "These are your children?" He feels a little weak in the knees.
"These are my children."
Tony looks at Loki, searches for a smirk or something that tells him Loki is just playing one of his twisted tricks. It doesn't happen. So, here they are standing on the roof terrace, Loki ready to go on a warpath and Tony in a T-shirt and slacks. Even if Tony wants to fight, he doesn't stand a chance. It's happened before, Loki is stronger, faster, and very willing to throw Tony out of windows. What worries Tony the most is the ferocity in Loki's eyes. He's never seen him like that before, agitated, frustrated, angry, yes, but never this enraged. If he lets Loki go off on his own...
"Okay," he runs a hand through his hair, "okay, I'm gonna ignore the fact that you just told me you have six kids and are acting like I'm just supposed to not have a reaction to that and focus on keeping you from making some sort of mistake."
"Mistake?" Loki scoffs. Yeah, this was not going well. "I will act as I please. Your S.H.I.E.L.D started this. And I will finish it."
"No, no you won't." Tony grabs the sceptre. "You're going to put the folk metal gear back in the closet; you're going to sit down with me inside where it's warm; and you're going to talk to me. Not just because I want to know what S.H.I.E.L.D. could possibly want with your kids, but also because hey, two years, you've lived here and you never mentioned a thing."
"And if I do not?"
"You go off on your little warpath. I'll be right on the other side in the suit trying to stop you; and in the end, I'll either capture you, or you'll kill me. Right now, we can fix this, we can figure this out. I want to help you."
For a long while, Loki is silent. He looks conflicted. Briefly, Tony thinks he'll have a sceptre sticking out of his chest, but then it disappears and with it Loki's armour and elaborate garb until he's standing in front of Tony in a plain tunic, trousers, and bare feet. He sighs and stands there for a moment looking rather lost. Tony takes a tentative step closer and extends his hand. When Loki takes it, Tony lets out a breath he only now realizes he's been holding. He pulls Loki closer and looks up at him.
"I will help you." He says again, just to make sure that Loki gets that. No abandonment on account of sudden reveal of children, even though Tony really feels he should be running for the hills. It's Loki. His shit's permanently stuck on 'complicated'.
"I'm gonna need a drink for this." Tony tugs Loki after him. "You want one?" He slips behind the bar, pours two drinks, and puts one firmly into Loki's hand. It wasn't really a question.
The air in the room is tense, and Tony doesn't like it. Since the Manhattan Incident; there have been a lot of changes, even in Loki, no matter how much he tries to deny them. Sure, he still starts a boatload of shit, especially when he gets bored, but people no longer die or get displaced. And more importantly, they've been having some kind of a thing, a thing which Tony believes to have some kind of meaning to both of them. So, he sits down on the couch and patiently watches Loki who has taken to pacing up and down the living room. Tony watches for a while, the worried look on Loki's face which gives way to rage every few steps.
"Okay," Tony swigs back his drink and gets up. "This isn't working for you or for me. So, I need you to sit the fuck down, okay babe?"
Loki stops mid-step and glares at Tony who grabs Loki by the hand and pulls him close. For a moment, Loki pulls away but Tony stands up on his toes and kisses Loki. Maybe, there's a bit of grumbling under his breath when Loki finally sits down on the floor in front of the couch.
"I am a God!" He sets his drink down hard on the coffee table. "How dare they involve my children in their quarrels with me?"
"Not sure how to break this to you gently," Tony slides down beside Loki and pulls a bottle of brennivin from under the couch. Awful stuff but Loki loves it. "But you've been a huge dick to most people for a very long time."
The brennivin burns on the way down. Tony has no idea how the hell Loki can drink that stuff like it's water, sip it, heck even savour it. He shakes and puts down the glass. Loki pours himself another and downs it. Not like he actually gets drunk from a few shots of what he calls 'mortal child's play', clearly Tony has to introduce him to absinthe. However, if it loosens Loki's tongue, Tony's willing to suffer. So, they sit in silence for a while. Tony's only taking half shots, because he knows Loki is going to try and drink him under the table and avoid the topic altogether. Once Tony's passed out, he'd just go and rampage his way through S.H.I.E.L.D. until he thinks his children safe.
Children... Tony really wants to do a few more shots. It isn't as though he's suddenly going to have to be part of a family or worry about a bunch of toddlers running around Avengers' Tower calling him 'not Daddy'. Loki's old as fuck really, and Tony shouldn't be so taken by surprise that the guy's been around the block a few times. And apparently good with the ladies... and a- yeah, Tony's not going there yet. Preferably, he's not ever going there. Sure, he knows Loki can shape shift, and he technically knows the implications of that. He's seen it happen often enough. And he's really quite open-minded about that sort of thing, but he's only seen it happen in battle, never in bed. Mhm, maybe he needs to rethink where his issues lie.
"I did not tell you, because I feared if S.H.I.E.L.D. found out, they would do exactly this." Loki breaks the silence and sighs.
"You thought I'd tell them?"
"No," he looks at Tony, "I thought they would make you tell them."
A fair point, Tony thinks. They did have their ways, though perhaps 'interrogate Tony on whereabouts of Loki's children' may not have been on their list until recently. He looks at the files again. There are personality profiles, greatly lacking descriptions still; there are family trees, but no images that Tony can find aside from one. Of course it was the eight-legged horse. He closes the file and picks up the next one: Hel.
"So, that's your little girl, huh?" What's he even supposed to say? He doesn't even talk to human parents about their kids.
"To the eyes of mortals, she appears that way." It's defensive, Tony can tell. So, he squeezes Loki's hand.
"You know I'm not good at this." He isn't. His issues have issues and he knows nothing ever lasts. Though this time, this time he doesn't want it to be because he walked away. "I want to help you. Tell me, I'll listen... without snarky retorts and comments."
"Right," Loki snorts, but with a small smile playing at the corner of his mouth, "Tony Stark does not banter, as though such a day could ever happen."
It's not meant to hurt Tony, but there's a sting in the words that Tony can't quite place. Maybe it's because he feels kept at arm's length at all times, or maybe just an aftertaste of 'by the way: kids'...who knows, he's too far into the brennivin to psychoanalyze. He distracts himself with the files. Hel, daughter of Loki and, yeah okay, he's not even going to try reading that one. Fucking Old Norse. Supposedly, she was sent to receive guard what could be considered an afterlife of sorts and receive a portion of the dead . The file is rather vague on it, makes sense really, science and all trying to keep an unbiased look without all the flowery descriptions of mythology. It's the Jorman-thing that worries Tony: world-eating serpent if released will destroy the universe, destined to kill Thor and bring about the end of everything. How much of it is true, Tony doesn't know, but the possibility alone, that's something to worry about.
"So, a) what the hell world-eating snake and b) how the hell do you get snake from," he gestures up and down Loki, "you. Did you make out with an anaconda?" He kicks himself. So much for keeping an open mind to get Loki to open up. To his surprise, Loki laughs.
"You are showing much restraint, I can tell. You will find that once you leave your planet, the order of things changes dramatically." He takes the file from Tony. "My children are not helpless creatures. They would all tear your S.H.I.E.L.D. agents apart in mere moments."
"So, you being mad as fuck, that's just out of principle?"
"No," Loki shakes his head and sighs, "if by chance they brought even one of them here, the repercussions would make the Manhattan Incident look like mere child's play. And I-" He breaks off and takes another drink. There are tears in the corner of Loki's eyes and Tony's never seen that before. And then, he gets it.
"And you would be forced to kill your own children to prevent them from destroying the Earth."
"I may not care for my children as Human parents would, but I still care. They are a part of me. And Jörmungandr, he is the most powerful of them. They cannot attempt to find him. It would be the end of everything as we know it."
"We'll figure it out," Tony squeezes his hand again, "seriously, had me at world-destroying serpent. Bad. Bad thing. If he's even half as bad as I know his daddy can be, we're fucked."
"You still perceive me to be 'bad'? I thought we were past that." Loki smiles.
"Okay, not bad, bored, you get fucking cranky when you're bored." Tony pours another set of shots. "I'm with you. Really. You know that."
Instead of replying, Loki leans close and kisses him, slow, tender. Tony really wants to just lose himself in the kiss, forget that tonight happened, but there is a part of his brain nagging loudly to pull away.
"Wait," he does and looks at Loki, "I just want to make sure: no rage-filled murdering spree in S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters tonight?"
"Maybe not ever?" He makes a hopeful grimace.
"Are you lying to me?"
"When have I ever lied to you?"
"When have you ever-" He stares at Loki, incredulous. "You're kidding right? You lied to me just last night about turning the Longmorn into peppermint fucking tea."
"Oh yes, I remember now." He smiles like a fucking Cheshire cat.
"You lie all the time!"
"I- just- ugh, just promise you aren't lying right now. I really don't want to suit up tonight." He looks at Loki, “please.”
And Loki nods slowly as Tony lets out a relieved breath.
This time Tony leans in for a kiss, hand sliding underneath Loki's shirt.