It was another fight, another wannabe villain trying to destroy the city, and another day of Loki being a complete ass for no God damn reason.
Loki would appear from fucking nowhere, blow up the people who had knocked Tony down and make some lordly comment, ‘You look quite lovely on your knees, Stark’ or ‘My, my, bowing already? Perhaps I should save you more often’ and the personal favourite when he would crouch over Tony’s sprawled form, tap his mask to make it slide up via magic, and ask him, ‘Oh dear, are you dead?’
Sometimes Tony couldn’t tell if the Mage even had switched sides with the amount he sniped at him. The bastard also only did it after saving his life or where no one could hear exactly what he said. It always made Tony look like the prick for growling something mean at him. It was why he’d started keeping his mouth shut and hitting him extra hard with a repulsor when they were training.
It didn’t discourage him in the slightest, in fact, it was only happening again.
Tony’s gauntlet had been damaged and he’d only just managed to land on a part of the road without rubble and was trying to kickstart the stupid thing - when who should appear in a cloud of sparkles? His resident bitchiness.
“Truly, Stark, I believe you need rescuing more often than the civilians.”
“Fuck off, Draco Malfoy. I’m doing fine on my own.”
Loki made a tsking noise. “You have been clipped of your wings once more, must you lie so, Stark?”
“You want to talk about lies?!” Tony spluttered.
“Guys,” Steve called across the comm, panting. “We could still use a little help over here.”
“Talk to him!” Tony yelled, pointing at the smirking Mage, “He’s not the one who just fell out of the sky!”
“Someone needs to make sure you haven’t finally removed yourself from our presence,” the Mage drawled.
Tony gritted his teeth and was a second away from punching the guy - fuck the fact the battle wasn’t over yet and some bad guys were actually coming towards them - when Thor let out a heavy groan.
He was about to ask what was wrong when Thor half-yelled, half-begged down the line, “Loki for the love of Frigga - just offer to take Stark out to dinner!”
Everything and everyone seemed to freeze. Even the minions who were coming towards them - only further proving they had communicators as they must have picked up Thor’s words. Everyone who could was staring at Loki, including Tony. Loki’s cheeks had actually fucking flushed and he was glaring so hard at the ground that Tony was stunned it hadn’t burst into flames.
“Your commentary was not solicited, Thor,” Loki hissed with so much venom that it more than confirmed Thor’s implication.
Tony was sure his jaw had dropped and his brain had flat-lined with the shock.
The comm was silent for only a few moments before Clint chimed in, “I think it’s still valid; why haven’t you asked him out yet, Loki?” Clint’s shit-eating grin was audible. “Surely you’re out of options to pigtail pull? The guy doesn’t have that much hair left!”
Tony wanted to snap back at him, watch it birdbrain, I have more than you, but he found his vocal cords weren’t working. Loki also still wasn’t looking at him. His magic was crackling rather dangerously though.
“Do you think if you save him enough he’ll swoon and fall into your arms?” Clint continued, enjoying the theme and completely ignoring the fact he was poking a lethal space-magician.
“Enough!” Loki snarled and while it wouldn’t have been sufficient to make Clint stop normally, the rage that came out in the form of Loki destroying or decommissioning all their remaining opponents in less than five minutes, and with multiple teleports, was. Tony managed to make his way over to the others by the time he was done, only just seeing Loki for a split second before he grabbed Thor and teleported them away.
“Boy is he gonna get it,” Clint remarked, saying what they were all thinking.
Natasha added, saying the other thing on their minds. “And, I would think, so will you.”
Clint looked like he was trying to resist, but the moment he caught Tony’s eyes, he rushed out, “Not as much as I think he wants to ‘give it’ to Tony.”
“Clint!” Steve protested. “You’re not helping!”
“Tough shit,” Clint answered, eyeing Tony shrewdly. “I want to hear the reaction, he hasn’t said anything yet. What’s Tony think about Loki wanting to bang him?”
“I don’t think that’s any of your business,” Steve said before Tony had to, and he was truly thankful for that as well as the glare that finally silenced the archer.
Because to tell the truth? Tony had absolutely no idea how he felt about Thor’s announcement and Loki’s unofficial confirmation. Fuck. How had he never picked it? How had he never noticed the soft edge to his smirk? The warmth in his eyes? The concern in the split-second he opened Tony’s mask and saw he was conscious.
Tony ran a hand across the small section of face he could reach with the mask up. It wasn’t particularly comfortable as the scratch from his gauntlet was more likely to cut his skin than sooth it, but Tony needed to do something with his hands. He needed a distraction because all he could think about was the deep-seated tension in Loki’s shoulders and the noticeable withdrawal from Tony that had taken over the Trickster the second Thor had made his remark.
What was Loki going to do when he came back from wherever he’d taken Thor? What was he going to say? Fuck. Was he going to ask Tony out? He wasn’t sure he was ready to hear that.
He was startled from his nervous contemplation when Steve nudged the shoulder of the suit. He looked over at the Captain who was smiling gently. “Come on, back to the Tower. There’s nothing left to do here.”
“Right, sure,” Tony rambled, “I’m kind of fucked for flying. The Jet got room for one more?”
“Of course,” Steve answered, never mentioning the fact that there was no doubt he’d fit what with neither Thor nor Loki being around to take up space.
Thankfully, no one else said anything either and with Nat keeping a close eye on Clint, even the archer was forced to keep his comments to himself. The flight back was still heavy with tension and far from comfortable. Tony practically fled the second they landed, hurrying to the sanctity of his lab with the excuse of fixing the suit.
He hid down there for an hour before the need for food made him slip into the common area. No one was there when he arrived and after three sandwiches, he was ready to head for a shower. He got to the elevator safely and without interruption but when it opened, it revealed Thor.
Thor who had a black eye. Tony stared at him while the Thunder God just gave an apologetic half-smile.
“Did Loki do that?” Tony blurted.
Thor sighed a little ruefully. “Aye.”
“Shit,” Tony cursed.
Thor just shrugged while coming into the hall. “Loki does not like his secrets being divulged,” he explained. “I found it laughable he would call his attentions to you a secret.” He frowned. “But then he accused me of being too aware of his habits and that none of the others had yet realised. I did not think it would be so surprising to you. I had been frustrated with his pining and his hesitant attempts at courting you for months. I saw no resolution unless I spoke up.”
“Pining?” Tony asked, somewhat strangled, “Courting??”
The Aesir blinked. “Yes. My brother is deeply infatuated with you. Surely you have realised this now?”
“Yeah, now, being the operative word there, Thor.”
Thor winced. “Ah. I did not...” Thor pursed his lips. “Is it true then? You will reject my brother’s suit?”
There was a lot of things to respond to in that question, but there was one that was really bugging Tony. “Where did you hear that?”
“Loki,” Thor answered simply, looking surprised. “He assured me it was so. I had thought... had he not asked you before? His words were adamant. I thought only your rejection would make my brother so hopeless of gaining your favour.”
Tony blinked. “I. No? I didn’t know about it. I hadn’t... he never asked.”
“So you will say yes?” Thor asked with burgeoning optimism.
“I... don’t know?” Tony had been all set to refuse Loki. Well, he’d been in the ‘hope he never asks’ camp, but now he was kind of annoyed. Loki had, by Thor’s account, wanted him for months but never made a move because, what? He didn’t think Tony liked him?
Okay, Tony had never thought about him that way, but come on! He was Tony Stark! He was a playboy, he was flexible. A little gay, alien bedroom action would hardly make him balk.
... It was just the Loki part that was weirding him out. Loki was attractive, sure, but he was also just, well, Loki. He was the enemy come ally come pain in his fucking ass - and that was something Loki apparently wanted to make literal with him.
How was he supposed to take that?
“You must speak with Loki.”
Tony blinked. “Wait, did I say that outloud?”
Thor looked at him with confusion. “You did not say anything. I merely advised you to converse with my brother.”
“Oh, right,” Tony nodded absently. “Sounds like a good plan. Just let me go and... do what I was going to do.”
Tony didn’t say anything further as he moved closer to the elevator and jabbed the button for the penthouse. He would speak to Loki. But later, much later.
“It is not wise to let things fester, Stark,” Thor warned him.
Tony slipped into the elevator all while agreeing, “Totally with you there Thor, I’m on it, trust me.”
“Somehow,” Tony managed to hear just before the doors closed, “I do not trust you.”
The moment Thor was out of sight and he was ascending, Tony let out a sigh and leant against the wall. He did not want to deal with this. He would love to hide in his lab until the problem resolved itself or went away, but he knew that it wasn’t going to happen. Even if Loki decided not to bring it up, he’d get it from all sides of the Avengers for the sake of ‘team unity’ or some other crap.
He could still shower first, right? And sleep it off? Maybe build another suit as well?
Entering the penthouse, he only got a few steps inside before he froze. Loki was there. Waiting for him. Staring at him.
“Shit,” Tony hissed. He tried to turn and go back - any floor would be better than this one - but he’d barely reached for the button before the lift dissolved from in front of him and he found himself further inside the apartment - a metre from Loki.
Tony dropped his arm before turning to the other, forcing out a pleasant, teasing persona to hide his nerves and discomfort. “A ‘we need to talk’ would have sufficed.”
“You wouldn’t have remained,” Loki answered simply, his voice devoid of its usual mischievous cheer. “I will not let this cloud the air between us.” Loki rolled his shoulders back and jutted out his chin. “I have interest in you romantically, Tony Stark. Those comments of mine you have found so distasteful these last months, they were not the courting attempts my oaf of a brother believes them to be, they were...” his mouth pulled into a wince before he sighed, “They were my effort to keep you unaware of just how much I have come to care for you.”
“Oh,” Tony breathed, not entirely sure what else to say. He scratched his hair, looked at the roof, the floor and then back at Loki. “Ever plan on telling me?”
“No,” Loki replied. “I saw no need. Why unburden myself to one who has no interest in reciprocating?”
His voice was so calm, so empty of any kind of concern that it made Tony narrow his eyes. “You’re awfully at ease talking about this.”
The corner of Loki’s mouth rose in a bitter twitch. “Am I? I must wonder how you think speaking openly about this is in any way enjoyable for me.”
“You don’t seem particularly affected,” Tony pointed out.
It made Loki bark out a laugh. “Would it please you to see the extent of what I feel knowing you are about to reject me? Do you truly wish to make this even more humiliating for me?”
“Some reaction would be nice,” escaped before Tony could stop it.
It finally made a crack appear in Loki’s mask; something pained, longing and angry showing in the split-second that Loki’s face fell. “And what then?” he demanded, a sudden bite to his tone. “The same words you have spoken to a hundred mortal admirers who have wanted to bed you? Had I wanted a refusal from you I would have asked you myself.”
“Well, your brother asked for you,” Tony told him.
“Yes,” Loki hissed, turning away from Tony. “He has done what he does best; ruin everything.”
Tony snorted. “We didn’t have much to ruin.” The words snapped Loki’s head up, hurt and confusion in his eyes. “Loki, all you did was insult me - a lot.”
“You spent more time in the lab with Bruce than you did with me. We were always arguing because you always had some cutting, assholish thing to say. It was a fucking shock when you were helpful or nice to me.”
“I explained-” Loki tried.
“Yeah, you were trying to keep up walls, I got that.” Tony tilted his head. “You only succeeded in making me less likely to look at you romantically, you know.”
Loki actually flinched before focusing on Tony’s torso and murmuring, “You wouldn’t have looked at me regardless." He raised his voice and his eyes, "Let us be frank, Tony,” he held Tony’s gaze and lifted his hands before him, palm up, “I am not a candidate that would tempt you.”
Tony looked at him for a long time, staring into those green eyes that were trying so hard to remain blank - but were quickly losing their ability. When Loki finally pulled his focus away, Tony took the time to look the other over.
He was still in his battle armour when he usually changed into his tunic and linen pants after they arrived back at the tower. He’d obviously spelled the blood off but that was the extent of his maintenance. There were still a few singed areas and while his face was clean and his hair mostly fixed, it was obvious he hadn’t slipped into his relaxed state.
He still looks good, Tony appraised. It wasn’t something he was even remotely decided on yet, but everything needed to be tested before it could be disregarded, right?
“Let’s prove it,” Tony announced.
Loki looked up, frowning warily, even more so when Tony raised a hand and crooked a finger at him to come closer. “What?”
“You’re not a candidate I considered,” Tony allowed, “but I’m not above checking out a resume.” He beckoned again with his finger. “You want a date with me? You’ve got to prove yourself in step one.”
Loki didn’t move and was obviously warring with disbelief and suspicion. “What is step one?”
Tony let himself grin widely. “How well you kiss.”
Loki stared at him. “You cannot be serious.”
Moving closer, he was surprised Loki didn’t take a step back, what with the way his eyes were widening. “Damn right I am. You’ve put a ball in my court, can’t say I’m not curious now. Surprised and requesting you tone down the insults or I will deck you. But I’m willing to give you a chance, so,” Tony pointed a finger at his mouth and raised an eyebrow. “You going to take it?”
Loki’s hands acted without further prompting. He cupped Tony’s neck, his thumbs resting on Tony’s jaw line but his eyes intensely holding Tony’s. “If I find out you are toying with me, Tony Stark, I will eviscerate you regardless of the consequences. Do you understand me?”
“Violent torture doesn’t actually turn me on, you know? That’s a tip that I suggest you pay attention to. I do like people kissing my neck though. Especially from behind, that’s a hint I’d like you to take. Assuming we get there.” He waggled his eyebrows. “Come on.”
“I spoke in earnest,” Loki hissed and Tony could see he was a second away from withdrawing, wounded and untrusting.
Tony brought his hands up and gripped the lapels of Loki’s jacket, keeping him close. “It's not a trick, or ploy, or a plan to use you as a bedwarmer. I have too many options to ever take a risk like hurting someone on my team.” He tilted his head. “You’ve got me interested and I want to see what can come of that.” He smirked. “And I was serious about the neck thing. Biting it gently will only bring about good things for you.”
Loki swallowed heavily, Tony could hear as much as see it and he got a little thrill from being the inspiration. He didn’t think much more on it though as Loki finally closed the distance between their mouths and kissed him.
It was soft at first, the most feather-light touch of lips before Loki moved, catching Tony’s bottom lip between his own and practically caressing it. Tony’s eyelids fluttered closed just in time to feel a hesitant tongue touch his mouth gently. Tony accepted and Loki slipped right in.
That, oh, that, was when Tony’s brain ceased-firing.
Loki was a Mage, Loki was a thousand years old, Loki was known for having a talented tongue; all of these things and more made Loki pass step one with so many flying colours that when they finally pulled apart Tony was gasping and leaning against the other.
“Why,” he asked, when he was finally able to form coherent sentences, “did you never do that to make me notice you?” He blinked up at Loki from where his head was on the other’s shoulder. “I would have kneeled for you so fast if it got you returning the favour.”
Loki smiled hesitantly and lightly stroked the jaw he was still cupping. “I wanted more than your base interest, Tony.” He paused before adding carefully, “I still do.”
Tony felt guilty and tried to pull back but Loki’s superior strength kept him there in a half-embrace. Tony sighed but allowed it, even as he admitted, “I can’t promise you that.”
“I know,” Loki replied, “but I can try to gain it all the same.” Tony shifted slightly, gazing up at Loki who tilted his head down in response, “What?”
“You’re nicer like this.” It wasn’t exactly a realisation, but it still felt like one. “Softer. Real.” He smiled. “I like it.”
It was by no means a promise to fall for him in return, but it was something - and in the end, that was always going to be better than nothing.