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Invasions and Ice Cream

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I do not own any of the following characters: they are the works of Rumiko Takahashi and Marvel Comics.

Sesshomaru and the Bifrost.

*(*

Sesshomaru allowed himself to enjoy the welcoming breeze cresting over the hill in the heart of the Western Lands. His expression serene. If not bored, taking in the rolling expanse of budding land.

Spring had arrived, finally. New beginnings.

Sesshomaru, however placid he seemed, had thoughts colliding in his head. Should he rebuild his father's empire to its full and former glory? Maybe even surpass it to reclaim some of the Eastern lands owned by the Tiger demons? Or...

"Lord Sesshomaru I caught three fish, one for me, one for Ah and one for Un!" He turned his head and regarded Rin mildly. A ghost of a smile graced his eyes as he watched Jaken and Rin, soaked with river water, fighting over fish.

"You stupid human girl! Watch as I catch twice as many! Three for me and three for Lord Sesshomaru!" Jaken exclaimed, flailing about with his makeshift spear in the river bed.

"You'll just get fat Jaken!" Rin stuck her tongue out and then he felt it. A tremendous energy surged...from the sky?

Tenseiga pulsed.

"Rin, Jaken." Sesshomaru almost barked out and they froze as a slightly familiar light shown down much brighter than the sun. Sesshomaru barely had time to leap and embrace Rin and Jaken before all went white.

Sesshomaru's body warped oddly, like his muscles were being twisted, and his mind split, thoughts fragmenting. His eyes bled red, but Tenseiga's throbbing pulse kept him mentally grounded. He couldn't tell if he could hear Rin's screams or the scream of the wind.

And as quickly as it came, it was gone. He tingle of magic left his body, he resisted the urge to shake it off like a dog would. His gold eyes regarded Rin and Jaken instantly as not physically injured, but magic could harm you in ways not immediately discernible.

"Rin, Jaken are you hurt?" Sesshomaru checked over them once more. He smelled no blood, just the spicy tang of a foreign magic.

"No Lord Sesshomaru. Rin is fine!" She bounced up and looked around the same time Jaken came to. Sesshomaru relaxed, nostrils flaring for any familiar scent but finding none.

"Lord Sesshomaru what happened?! Where are we?!" Jaken exclaimed and for good reason.

Sesshomaru took a youki scan of the area after finding no familiar scents. Other than Jaken and Rin. There no youki, nor familiar scent traces anywhere. Strange. Sesshomaru immediately heightened all his senses. He didn't like this situation in the least.

They were in a barren wasteland. Everything around them was deep blue sky and red brown dirt with small scrubby bushes.

"Silence Jaken." Sesshomaru put out his left hand as if to tell them to stay back. Tenseiga still hummed by his side.

'What are you trying to tell me Tenseiga?' Sesshomaru closed his eyes and this time pulsed out his youki as far as he could in all directions. His ice blue youki burst out like a dome. He knew he would be able to scan something with this method.

Pause.

Except he felt nothing, except a small human ping East South East of his current location. He knew he distantly felt this specific spicy tang of magic before, Sesshomaru began to search his memory. It definitely wasn't Naraku or anything nefarious. Yet, what was this trick? Why did it bring him here?

"I sense humans this way, let us make haste." Sesshomaru directed and turned towards the desired direction, cursing himself for not recalling why this magic felt so similar.

"Lord Sesshomaru, this magic! Who could so something like this?! The Lord of the Northern Lands used to employ such devious sorcerers!" Jaken cursed, picking up the pace with the staff of two heads. Not even Jaken knew what it was, which too was unusual since Jaken was very well schooled in such matters.

"Magic! Magic exists Lord Sesshomaru?! Is it good magic?!" Rin skipped, toying with her wet kimono. Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes and regarded both of his wards. He had to protect his pack, but at the same time reassure them that he knew exactly what had transpired.

When in actuality, he had no idea what had happened. It secretly infuriated the usually emotionless Demon Lord.

"Yes Rin, magic exists. I doubt this is the doing of the Lord of the Northern lands, he would have attacked by now." Sesshomaru calculated this magic was not one he felt for a while. Most likely it was not of nearby lands. Perhaps the Lands across the Great Sea lured him into a trap? They were supposed to be his allies, but he had not communicated with them since before Naraku.

As they walked tirelessly for hours, the sun became to be overbearing, Sesshomaru could see Rin start to fatigue.

"Jaken, produce water." He ordered softly and the lesser used head on the staff of heads poured out water that Rin excitedly cupped in her hands and drank.

"Thank you Lord Sesshomaru, this new world is very hot!" Rin chirped in between gulps and suddenly it came to him, right as they approached the human town. All the while Tenseiga still hummed contentedly. Sesshomaru nodded softly.

New worlds. Other realms. The magic.

He knew it from the first time his father took him to the coast to study with other Royalty of different realms. He was only one hundred years old at the time. He hadn't dealt with anyone from the distant realms for five decades. It was all before Tessaiga. He gave it all up after his last encounter with a particular God.

"Jaken do you-" Sesshomaru stopped himself, he sensed something coming in fast, something aerial, something not Demonic.

He whipped around, ears perking up at a small red dot rapidly approaching, it smelled awful, like soot, fire and metal.

"Jaken protect Rin." Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles, producing his deadly toxin, and began to walk calmly towards the approaching threat. Tenseiga hummed stronger than before. Jaken pulled Rin behind a large, jagged boulder.

It was then smelled the hidden scent of grime, sweat, and human coming from the approaching entity. Sesshomaru's eyes widened a fraction as he realized a human was flying towards him in metal armor.

'What land is this? I must be on guard. It is possible I have been lured to a different realm I must not reveal any of my powers than what I must.' Sesshomaru's expression soured. He had been to different realms before and knew of their acute and formidable dangers. If need be, he could gather Rin and Jaken and fly in his white ball form and possibly outrun the threat. But Sesshomaru never ran, of course.

He watched with no sign of curiosity as the red and gold metal man slowed and landed around eighty feet from him.

"Hey Reindeer Games, love the new look, going for drag-queen samurai chic? Or are you actually a woman now?" The armored man asked Sesshomaru with barely hidden malice. Sesshomaru had no idea what this lunatic human was asking him. He wasn't speaking the human tongue of his lands, that was certain.

"This Sesshomaru is no woman." Sesshomaru replied mildly, clearly the heat had roasted this man's brain if he thought him a woman. He did not look that feminine. He could sense that the entity was a human. However, he could sense immense energy coming from the armored suit. Perhaps more magic. Sesshomaru's ears lowered.

Tenseiga pulsed once.

It was then his youki alerted him a second incoming presence, coming from the same direction. He could easily hear it was something bigger, it smelled similar to the man in front of him.

"I could see why you'd want a disguise but the face tattoos are a little much. I got reinforcements, you can either come quietly or put up a fight but we got the green rage monster." The armored man quipped and Sesshomaru for the most part ignored what he had to say. He was quite certain that Bakusaiga could handle any foe. however, if she was compromised due to the magic, she could act recklessly and harm Rin and Jaken.

"This Sesshomaru does as he pleases." Sesshomaru exercised as much patience as he could muster. He couldn't afford to attack without knowing exactly what he was up against. From what he knew about magic even humans could be powerful, even more powerful than priestesses. He had to wait for the opportune moment.

He saw the metal bird approach and land with a whoosh of sand. Immediately the bird opened its tail and four people scrambled out, a woman with outrageous red hair, a man in blue bedclothes and mask, an archer, and a human who did not seem all human.

They all smelled strange, dirty and salty. The man in blue bedclothes approached with a shield.

"Okay I know you can shape-shift, but you missed Burning Man." The woman smirked and the archer scowled, knocking back an arrow. Sesshomaru noted none of the humans had purification powers. That was to his advantage. He cracked his knuckles, anticipating a battle.

'Burning man? What trickery is this?' Sesshomaru examined each one, they all seemed strong in aura for humans.

"Yeah, that's what I said. I mean only someone on molly would wear a fur boa in the desert." The armored man retorted and landed next to his reinforcements, well within range of his toxin whip.

Tenseiga pulsed again.

"We have come to return you to your cell, stand down and come with us." The man in blue bed clothes announced. He must be their leader. The armored man must be the sentry. Sesshomaru could smell nervous energy coming off all the humans, even the odd one in the back underneath layers of rage.

"Let me put one in him. C'mon." Sesshomaru heard the muttering of the archer though he could tell no one else could. The archer was long range support, the woman perhaps a huntress? His eyes narrowed, their small squadron was effectively balanced.

"Lord Sesshomaru! They look so funny! Are they your friends?!" Sesshomaru's head snapped back, Rin had popped out of her hiding place.

"Hold your fire, there is a child. She is speaking Japanese." Sesshomaru darted his eyes to the huntress with red hair who spoke and the tension increased. He itched to reach for Bakusaiga but Tenseiga's pulsing commanded him no.

'Defiant, treacherous blade! No matter, I do not need Bakusaiga to kill five humans.' Sesshomaru shifted his weight to the balls of his feet.

"They are not friends Rin. Remain with Jaken." Sesshomaru commanded and he approached the five humans with a fluid poise. The unsettling aura of the human in the back began to churn.

"Yes Lord Sesshomaru! Go get em!" Rin punched a small fist in the air. He saw the huntress looked confused.

"Resorting to taking human hostages trickster? That's low even for you." The strange human in the back of the pack sneered. Could he be some sort of warlock?

'Who are these nuisance humans? They clearly believe I am some sort of shape-shifter. They clearly sought me out, and if they believe me to be someone else then this is not this Sesshomaru's problem. I will wait for them to explain themselves.' Sesshomaru's claws lengthened and his signature green toxin pooled in his nail beds.

"Guys, I'm a little confused, doesn't he usually go into some sort of manic, dramatic monologue by now? And why does he look so damn bored?" The man in armor yapped to his allies. Sesshomaru continued forward at a leisurely but steady pace, decreasing the distance to seventy feet. All the while the humans tensed up further.

"Take one more step liesmith and we will put you in the ground." The man in the blue bed clothes raised his shield. Most likely a weapon similar to the boomerang used by Inuyasha's human companion, Sango.

"Wishing for such a sudden death from this Sesshomaru is foolhardy and without pride." Sesshomaru's tone was even and calm, like still water. Sesshomaru, in a show of dominance, unfurled his, until then, hidden youki into a pulsing shockwave, warning his foe.

They all stumbled back. Sesshomaru almost smirked at their reaction. Clearly they had not expected him to be so strong of a Demon. He flexed his fingers, talons overflowed with green toxin down his milky white hand.

"Sesshomawhat?! That's it I'm-" the armored man shouted and Sesshomaru barely heard a second voice coming from the armored man, sounding almost like Totosai, but couldn't make out the words.

Sesshomaru tilted his head to the left just in time for a miraculously placed arrow to glide safely by his right temple.

'Talented archer, even by a demon's standards.' Sesshomaru leapt in the air high and drew long his claws to cut down their leader, ignoring the pleas of Tenseiga.

His toxic claws met the shield and the human parried successfully, his claws made a terrible screech against the shield. His toxin had no effect on the metal. Tenseiga pulsed, chastising him, as if saying 'I told you so.'

'Tenseiga wants the humans alive. Cursed sword indeed.' Sesshomaru's lips tilted into a slight frown. 'Perhaps Tenseiga thinks I need them to return to my lands. Hmph. This Sesshomaru needs no one's aid.' He dodged a strong swing of the leader's shield and knocked it down to the ground with a punch of his hand. The metal was indeed strong, stronger than any normal metal.

A demon with a skill of totosai must have forged this weapon for him.

"Interesting." Sesshomaru dashed to the right, to intercept the flying armored man when he heard a deafening roar.

He flipped back, the human in the back began to convert into his true form.

"We need containment at our coordinates. The other guy has control." The huntress spoke to no one Sesshomaru could see.

'This human has a true form.' Sesshomaru's pupils shrunk to paper thin slits but regained control quickly. He could smell and feel the lack of control wafting off of the entity who was currently transforming into a massive, ugly green beast. Sesshomaru had never seen a beast like this before, not even when he traveled off planet to the distant realms.

Sesshomaru monitored the other humans, an emotion similar to dread spiked high in their scents. Did they fear the outbursts of this particular human? The ogre flexed his muscles, roared and charged with reckless abandon towards his location.

'So, they these classless humans think brute strength can defeat this Sesshomaru?' Sesshomaru scoffed to himself and readied his talons only to see the Berserker veer off course to the left, attentions drawn to the armored man.

"Christ, shit, fuck! Guys hold u-" The green berserker slammed the armored man, his own comrade, with a powerful backhand into the ground. It sent him bouncing until his unmoving form lay vulnerable and prone in the sand. Sesshomaru's ears shot up.

"Tony! Hold on!" The leader wearing bedclothes went to run after the armored 'Tony' but was cut off by the rampaging berserker shoving him roughly aside, shield flying high into the air and landing well beyond the leader's grasp.

Sesshomaru planted his feet, he had enough of these charades. Such folly for his opponents to keep an untrained berserker in their midst they could not control. Humans had no real concept of power.

'Such an undisciplined true form, I can feel the uncontrolled rage radiate off him like a curse. He needs to be disciplined. I cannot get answers if this green beast kills my quarry.' Sesshomaru gathered his immense youki around him like a perfect blue, translucent sphere.

"Yield beast. Neither your rage nor your strength impress this Lord Sesshomaru." Sesshomaru's voice sounded like silk as his youki surged forth and hit the green beast dead on.

It stopped dead in its tracks, looking around at its surroundings as if for the first time. Sesshomaru allowed himself a small frown of disapproval.

"Bruce! Negative on containment!" Shouted the woman. Who exactly was she speaking to?!

"That's new." Interjected the archer.

"Wow. Ok," the armored man began to stagger from his small crater. "You are definitely not Loki. Unless you get Dog Whisperer reruns in prison? Steve Erwin?" The armored man laughed but he didn't sound happy. He managed to get his armor back in the air with some difficulty and Sesshomaru's eyes went wide for a moment.

'Loki? Since when did Loki fraternize with humans? And why would he want to associate with these incompetent fools? They even think this Sesshomaru is Loki? Why would they assume such an absurdity? Their instincts should clearly tell them I am a Demon, and most certainly not an Aesir. The magic...of course! Their magic gate I have used it once before with Father! Yet, this magic was certainly different, more powerful. Only Loki would be behind such a trick. It has been too long since I have seen that God. This offense runs deep, how dare he bring me to this awful realm.' Sesshomaru's chest rumbled in a suppressed growl.

Tenseiga hummed.

"Pitiful humans, always reliant on the senses most easily fooled. Tell me, stinking man of armor, how do you know Loki?" Sesshomaru's patience had reached its limit. He noted the archer and the woman warrior were tending to the blue bed-clothed leader and the now calmed berserker. Their aggression remained heightened, but now he had shown them of what he was capable and they smelled wary. The armored man hovered a good twenty above him.

'The armored man must like looking down on people.' Sesshomaru clenched his right fist, allowing it to glow green.

"See, I don't do well with orders, and just because you aren't Loki doesn't mean I tru-" Sesshomaru summoned his whip of toxin and arched his body and ensnared the ankle of the flying man, plucking him from the sky and flinging him into the archer. They crashed and tumbled with a surprise shout and groan. That took care of the long range support and the sentry now for the-

Pop. Pop. Pop.

Sesshomaru's ears cried from the loud sound.

Sesshomaru fought stinging, biting pains in his chest and looked down to see three holes in his armor. He glanced up to see the woman holding a small black metal object. It smelled of explosives. What sort of weapon does she possess?! He lifted his chin back up at the woman, cocking his head to the side ever so slightly and she remained resolute in her stance, despite her brow slightly creasing in suspicion.

"I don't know who you are but the next shot is in that pretty blue moon of yours if you move an inch." Sesshomaru heard the woman, and smelled his own blood, he could tell two of the three wounds would heal fine, the one in his lung would not.

'Too fast to be arrows, too large to be darts. This pain is bothersome. And I'll have to wash this now. That weapon is clearly an improvement in what the clumsy humans have where I reside.' Sesshomaru mused to himself, poking a finger into the new hole in his armor, removing it, then used his youki to repair the chest-piece.

"He just took three bullets center mass and is standing there looking like he wants to order a pizza." The archer grimaced as he stood. Pizza? What is a pizza and what does one order a pizza to do?

It was in that instance Sesshomaru smelled a familiar scent on the wind that blew all the other putrid smells out of the air. It wasn't Kagura, but it was someone else who he had not encountered in quite a long time.

Tenseiga pulsed once more.

With a crack of lightning and a crash, earth erupted in between the huntress woman and Sesshomaru gracefully jumped back, studying the familiar aura.

'We meet again, Thor, older brother to Loki. At least he may be helpful.' Sesshomaru placed his neutral facial expression on. In the past, he was never particularly pleased to deal with Thor outside of their challenges. He was a formidable opponant and Sesshomaru was at a slight disadvantage not knowing where he was currently.

Sesshomaru readied himself, if Thor wanted to fight him, he would most certainly use Bakusaiga, regardless of Tenseiga's warnings.

"Cease your fighting friends! He is no foe of ours!" Thor stood regally, if not out of breath, his golden hair tumbled loose. Sesshomaru eyed the reactions of Storm Gods' friends. They looked at each other, disbelieving, as they should. Sesshomaru hid the slight relief the Storm God did not wish to engage in battle with him.

"Not a foe?! His dominatrix whip corroded through my suit and almost my leg!" Sesshomaru spared a slightly amused glance to the armored man, lifting up the helmet on his mask revealing a dark beard and eyes. He purposefully weakened the potency of his toxin, or it most certainly would have cleaved off his leg.

"He is an old friend of mine! This is Sesshomaru, Son of Taisho, a mighty Lord of Demons!" Thor announced and Sesshomaru quirked a silver eyebrow.

'Friend? Our fathers squabbled like maidens watching us spar against each other in those farces of a tournaments. Who would win? Strength or technique? God or Demon? Such meaningless wagers.' Sesshomaru recalled they went around even towards the end. He and Thor being considered 'friends' was a stretch of any imagination. He wasn't about to argue the point however.

"You have far poorer tastes in... friends than when we last sparred, Storm God." Sesshomaru replied, realizing whatever had pierced his armor would have to be removed from his body quickly. The projectile had begun to grate against the delicate vessels of his lung.

"Son of Taisho they know not of who you are or why you are here, and if I am to be truthful, I know not as well." Thor smiled brightly. Sesshomaru was immediately reminded of Rin, innocent and earnest. Sesshomaru could assess that Thor was indeed ignorant of who, or why he was summoned here. Sesshomaru regretted the hope that the Storm God could be of any assistance, he typically wasn't.

"Son of Taisho you are wounded!" Thor, alarmed, straightened his spine seeing the blood that had seeped into the silk of his yukata.

"Indeed." Sesshomaru slowly replied, glancing towards the woman. Thor looked back to the woman who sternly crossed her arms.

"Demon Lord...dressed as a geisha. Perfect. Great. Just what we expected! Now what?" The archer sighed and Sesshomaru decided to leave the explaining to Thor. Sesshomaru explained himself to no one.

"Storm God, summon your brother to me. I demand his presence." Sesshomaru kept his tone even and dull as he used his youki to heal two of the three wounds in his chest. If Thor had no idea what has transpired, then Loki would.

'Thrice damned woman, I'll challenge her later after I see to Loki.' Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles.

"Aye, Son of Taisho, Loki cannot come to Midgard, he is currently imprisoned in Asgard as penance for his crimes against Midgard." Thor responded, heart heavy. Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes and jutted his head back in disbelief. His pointed, pale ears shot up. Crimes on Earth? Didn't Loki profess that he was in another distant realm the last time he saw him? What mischief had Loki created since he had seen him last?

There were too many questions bubbling in Sesshomaru's mind, he cracked his knuckles.

"Do not waste my time Storm God. There is neither cage nor snare that could keep Loki if he wished for freedom. He will heed my order." Sesshomaru's deep voice cooled. Sesshomaru greatly preferred the Mischief God to the one of Storms, however this ruse had gone too far.

"Yeeeaaaah, no. We are no allowing a trickster God who tried to invade Earth with the blue man group elope with a Demon Lord with a BDSM fetish." The armored man smirked and his dark eyes caught Sesshomaru's gold ones.

'Loki, invade Earth? Who are these fools? To what end? For what bullion? Loki never expressed any interest in sovereignty of this world and promised me such. Surely with his prodigal strategic mind if he wanted a realm, he could easily keep it. Unless, of course I had a say.' Sesshomaru's mind wheeled through different scenarios. He surmised that these imbecilic humans must be mistaken, as they had been so far in dealing with him, and thinking him Loki.

"As if your abilities could stop me human, or an invasion of Loki's design. However unlikely his deigns on this world may be, if Loki truly coveted this world, he would have possessed it." Sesshomaru turned to walk back towards Rin and Jaken. Any information gleaned from these humans would be detrimental to his return home. He would seek out a fellow Demon to assist in his transport back home.

'Useless humans, irksome Gods.' Sesshomaru clenched his finely pointed jaw.

"Son of Taisho, you think that true?" Sesshomaru turned to Thor who looked almost fragile in his vulnerability. Sesshomaru recalled he had always been protective of his brother, however short-sighted he could be. His golden aura radiated with a flicker of hope.

"Storm God, do you truly need me to expound on your brother's intelligence, skill and desires to you and your foul smelling human friends?" Sesshomaru raised an elegant eyebrow, and all eyes shifted back to Thor. Sesshomaru suppressed a grimace, the object in his lung began to rupture his lung.

"Hey, I smell just fine thank you!" The archer called out. Sesshomaru resisted slicing Thor's friend in two with his whip.

'Thor was never one to thoroughly examine anything, he took everything at as presented to him. A costly price for a jovial personality.' Sesshomaru noted, taking in all of the humans around him with a well-practiced disinterest.

"My brother has undergone changes in his temperament as of late. He is no longer who I thought he was; who you may think he is. He tried to usurp Asgard's throne during my coronation as well!" Sesshomaru fought the urge to ludicrously roll his eyes. 'Thor, ready for a throne? Laughable. He acts almost like a certain hanyou I know.' Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles thinking of Inuyasha.

"I am not some gossiping maid on whom you can vindicate your own sentiments." Sesshomaru paused. This nonsense had gone on long enough for him. He still hadn't sensed any Demons nearby and he now wanted to get to the bottom of this peculiar situation.

'Loki will answer for his chaos has gotten himself, and I embroiled into.' Sesshomaru's eyes hardened into crystals and his ice blue youki spiked high.

"Loki, Mischief God of the distant realm, you will have council with this Sesshomaru, Lord of the Western Lands this nightfall. This is no request; this is a summons!" Sesshomaru's voice sounded like a velvet covered knife as he pointed his finger into the air and his youki rocketed up into the sky and beyond.

'He will come or I will flay him.' Sesshomaru turned again from the mismatched group of humans to his own companions.

"Sesshomaru," a rough voice coming from the blue clothed man. Sesshomaru did not turn around. "Can you really make Loki appear?" His voice sounded hesitant and he could also smell confusion and fear waft from the group.

'Do they fear me, fear Loki, or both? It'd be wise if they feared both of us though I doubt they have the sense.' Sesshomaru tossed his long, silken hair back.

"He will come." Sesshomaru motioned for Rin and Jaken to come from behind the rock.

"Lord Sesshomaru Rin is not well!" Sesshomaru in less than a blink he was at her side. He smelled no blood, which meant no sign of a betrayal from Storm God's friends. However she was not conscious. She did not adapt well to the heat and sun. Under Sesshomaru's attentive hand, she felt clammy and her breathing was heavy. Sesshomaru growled lowly, he let these pitiful humans distract him from what mattered.

He gingerly picked up Rin in his arms and motioned for Jaken to make more water. He was vaguely aware of the humans mentioning him, but Sesshomaru didn't care.

"Son of Taisho! Is your daughter in need of a healer?!" Sesshomaru sliced his eyes to the Thor. Thor's chest hitched. Sesshomaru knew Thor didn't particularly like being on the receiving end of that glare.

"It's probably heat exhaustion and dehydration. We can give her medical assistance in the quinjet. You shouldn't try to give her water; her system will reject it." The huntress clipped and Sesshomaru, unintentionally, began to make his way back to the humans.

He could not heal Rin if he did not know what threats or treatments this realm had. He walked calmly the humans, including the man who turned into his true form earlier. He stood closer to them, much closer than from the distance he was at before when the fighting occurred.

"You can trust them Son of Taisho. You have my solemn vow they will not harm you or your daughter. Come with us and we shall get your situation sorted. Though I am curious how you managed to copulate and produce a mortal!" Sesshomaru almost sighed. Almost. Sesshomaru nodded instead to Thor. Did Thor get denser in the years he did not see him?

"I will allow you to nurse my ward. I will also accompany you in your...device to your fortress. Come Jaken." Sesshomaru looked into the hard, blue eyes of the woman. By most human accounts and even some Demon, she was quite striking. She wore a black suit, again similar to Inuyasha's friend, Sango. She held herself like a huntress, proud, silent and sure.

"Hmph, casual talker I see. My name is Natasha Romanoff. Can't say I'm sorry about the bullets though." She put out her hand and her eyes went to his chest. Sesshomaru barely remembered in some realms people shook hands. He was far from home indeed. The thought sunk his stomach.

He shook her hand, her hands calloused like he expected. He would greet this adversary.

"I'm Steve Rogers." He also put out his hand. This human, also comely, seemed stronger than the huntress, the archer, and armored man.

"I do not greet those wearing only their bedclothes." Sesshomaru sneered with disdain and the four humans around him broke into snickering laughter.

"My...my uniform is not a pair of pajamas! It has Kevlar in it!" Their leader professed and Sesshomaru ignored it. He looked ridiculous.

"I'm Tony Stark, Iron Man, all around badass. I forgive you for turning me into Cinderella, glass slipper and all." Sesshomaru blinked at 'Tony Stark'. He shook his hand, somewhat confused.

"Your yapping is unnecessary." Sesshomaru stated, looking into the mirthful brown eyes of the man and he could see the feigned hurt.

"Most things I love about me are unnecessary!" Sesshomaru's eyebrows raised as the human put his arms out, as if gesturing to his whole body.

"I'm Clint Barton, Hawkeye. Let me get one thing straight, I don't care how close you are to Loki but his ass is mine, so don't get in my way." Clint put out his hand and Sesshomaru's eyebrows furrowed as he shook it.

He inhaled the air around Barton deeply. He could smell the faintest tinge of Loki's aged protection magic coming from him. Territorial lover? It would explain the ire and the crude vernacular for procreation.

It didn't explain the arrow earlier, perhaps Loki had dallied with another while being involved with the archer?

"I can understand why Loki would take you as a lover, your skills in archery, for a human, are to be lauded." Sesshomaru conceded and turned to the quinjet with Rin in his left arm.

Silence.

If the bedclothes earned him some chuckles the this was a howling burst of raucous laughter.

"Oh, sweet mother of-"
"I'm so sorry Clint but-"
"This guy, this guy is good."
"That's what she said? That's current right?"
"Hawk's eye you have bedded my brother?!"

Sesshomaru stood rigidly, he had never had humans laugh because of anything he said. Humans feared him, they strictly avoided him. These humans had a death wish. Sesshomaru's frown erased itself into a neutral expression as the archer's face turned deep red.

"I'm getting on the jet. I am done." Barton stomped into the jet and the others followed in suit, attempting to console him. Except one.

"Berserker." Sesshomaru regarded icily.

"I'm actually Dr. Bruce Banner. I'm a doctor, a healer. I can treat your...ward, Rin is her name?" Sesshomaru's youki spiked in response and his pupils slit dangerously.

"You? A reckless danger to your own allies and yourself shall not touch her." Sesshomaru fangs lengthened and by the momentary shocked expression on the Berserker's face, Sesshomaru could tell he saw them.

"I understand. I would like to know how you stopped my rage, no one has been able to stop the other guy like that before." Sesshomaru reined in his anger. Clearly this human has had no teacher for his transformation.

"I disciplined you. You require an instructor in transformation. I will not oblige." Sesshomaru brushed by the doctor with palpable scorn. They both seated themselves inside the jet, and the huntress Romanoff informed him Rogers, the one in bedclothes, would return with aid for Rin. Jaken sat beside him.

"Lord Sesshomaru why don't we ju-" Sesshomaru cut Jaken off with a gaze that could pierce steel.

"Do you question me Jaken?" Sesshomaru leveled. He would not reveal to these humans all of his abilities, including flight. Not even Thor or Loki knew he could fly.

"No of course not Lord Sesshomaru!" Sesshomaru, on cue, cracked his knuckles and released a small amount of toxin onto the metal hull of the jet.

He relaxed when he smelled and heard the metal corrode and dissipate beneath his fingers. If need be he could easily disable this flying device and escape with Jaken and Rin.

Sesshomaru's mind whirled, taking in everything around him. The huntress Romanoff and the archer Barton were seated at the head of the bird, appearing to control it as one would a ship.

Sesshomaru could not afford to appear ignorant of his environment.

"Here, uh. This should help her feel better. She probably has a mild case of heat exhaustion is all." Rogers stammered a bit and Sesshomaru gazed into his blue eyes, noting his sincerity.

'He is probably one of those...charitable morons like Inuyasha's priestess Kagome.' Sesshomaru noted as he watched the armored man remove his armor automatically.

"I accept your aid." Sesshomaru took the cool, wet pack and put it to Rin's forehead. She stirred not much later to the relief of Sesshomaru.

"Lord Sesshomaru! Rin is sorry, she felt dizzy and fell. Where are we, are they our friends now?!" Rin looked around wearily, the others looked to her curiously. Sesshomaru opened the top of the bottle with a sharp claw and drank some.

His body could easily detect and nullify poisons. He tasted none, though it was sickeningly sweet.

"Drink Rin. You are in civil company." Sesshomaru gave her the rest of the bottle. The grinding in his lung intensified once more, and he felt slightly short of breath.

"You were testing to see if the drink was poisoned weren't you?!" Rogers looked offended. Sesshomaru leveled a neutral stare. Rin laughed and drank, feeling better.

"Son of Taisho you do not have to suspect false of us. You are in good company!" Thor's eyes slanted in concern as Sesshomaru's lip twitched and he picked up Rin to place her between Jaken and himself.

Sesshomaru had no course of action but to remove the offending object from just chest before he did something embarrassing like cough up blood.

Using his youki he withdrew his pelt and armor, they shrank and thinned until he was just in his yukata.

"Whoa. Dinner and a show?!" The archer called out from the front of their flying device.

"Lord Sesshomaru you are injured!" Rin exclaimed seeing the vast expanse of blood that soaked the fine white silk.

"Son of Taisho you need a healer!" Thor blurted out.

"This Sesshomaru is fine. Rin look away." Sesshomaru cracked his claw on his left hand and extended two of his fingers' claws long. He then opened his yukata and found the remaining offending hole in his chest.

Then he dug his fingers in deep to the wound, opening it wider, fresh blood flowing freely.

"God, this just keeps getting better. Thor do you have any non-creepy, sadistic, friends? Like what hazing ritual do you have whatever masochistic frat you pledged?" Sesshomaru heard the armored man, Stark, make a noise as if disgusted.

'Good, let them be disgusted, better than to see me weak. Apparently they take care of injuries differently in this realm. I almost have the damned...bullet was it?' Sesshomaru suppressed a wince as his two claws grasped the slug and began to slowly extract it.

"Man of Iron, I do not understand your references and I assure you Son of Taisho will not as well since he is not of this time." Thor educated and Sesshomaru nearly lost his grip on the slippery metal object as he finally removed it from his lung.

"What, you're saying he traveled through time?!" Bedclothes, the leader's jaw dropped and Sesshomaru used almost all of his control to appear composed as possible. He held the bloody hunk of metal in his hand, trying to understand how such a small piece of metal managed to cause so much irritation.

"Yes, his time is about half a millennium in the past." Thor stated as if he said it was sunny outside. In response Sesshomaru produced enough toxin to corrode and vaporize the gnarled metal in his hand. His eyes wide.

'My time? half a millennium?' Sesshomaru carefully regarded Thor, he indeed looked older, but acted much the same. This was no jest.

"Ok, I gotta admit that was pretty badass for someone who came straight from Memoirs of a Geisha. Natasha did you see him extract a bullet from his chest with his hand and then disintegrate it? I gotta get my hands on that." Stark the armored one announced and the huntress made a scoffing sound.

"Lord Sesshomaru! Did you hear the Storm God?! We are five hundred years in the future! How could this be?!" Jaken squawked and Sesshomaru couldn't be bothered to silence him, because he thought the same. He had no idea Loki had this ability.

With a flare of youki Sesshomaru donned his armor and fur once more, a physical security blanket.

Five hundred years. His lands would be splintered, his legacy for naught. Would his name be forgotten? What of Ah-Un? What of...Inuyasha? He is, was, just a Hanyou. He would be old by now, perhaps dead. Especially if he wasn't there to assist him out of trouble.

"Loki..." Sesshomaru growled, teeth clenched. He fought the angers steaming to the surface, his youki needling to be free. His fangs lengthened, hair bristled, and his senses flooded. The edges of his eyes bled slightly red and his magenta markings danced on his face.

"Um, guys if I'm not mistaken he looks like I do before I decide to Hulk out." Sesshomaru felt fourteen eyes on him and the smell of fear intensify. Now was not the time to lose composure.

He looked to his side, Rin was still drinking the red concoction looking up to him with her head cocked to one side. He took a deep, unimpeded breath.

"Son of Taisho! Did you not know when you are?! I thought surely there would have been communication when the Bifrost appeared so you would know to whence you arrived." Thor rocked back. And Sesshomaru hardened a gaze at the golden God. He just made him look like a fool! Some lost little demon, it was too late to save face now.

"As I said, your brother will come to me." Sesshomaru's tone iced out the plane, and suddenly no one knew what was going on.

 

Chapter Text

Tony and the Demon Lord

*(*

Tony Stark knew a lot of things. He was a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist and of course Iron Man. He knew astrophysics, advanced mathematics, mechanical and chemical engineering, how to have mind blowing sex, how to make a bangin' Singapore Sling cocktail, and how to program a TiVo.

What he had no clue about was this Demon Lord sitting at his 2 o'clock in the Quinjet.

And Tony hated not knowing things.

Tony nearly upended his worktable when Jarvis sounded the alarm for the Bifrost activating, when Thor was confirmed planet side, and a keen source of Loki's magic pinging from New Mexico.

Damn was he ever thankful he had put in the time and energy, in between making all his new suits, to develop his Magic Signature Detection System, or as he sometimes referred to it: Rudolph Radar.

He donned his fastest suit, the Mark XLVI, didn't bother alerting SHIELD, and went Loki hunting.

Only it wasn't Loki. Not by a long shot. This guy looked on first glance like he came from a failed Coachella inspired fashion show. Hindsight being 20/20 he shouldn't have automatically assumed he was Loki, the look in those gold eyes should have signaled that to him enough.

Those cold, calculating, apathetic eyes, lidded with an impressive shade of 'maybe it's Maybelline' crimson looked at him as if he was nothing. No hint of recognition. Just a slit pupil that screamed boredom.

That and maybe Loki would have chosen a less conspicuous disguise.

But, he did come down from the Bifrost, Thor was on Earth, which suggested, hey maybe he could have escaped. Like Tony knew how stringent prisoner protocol was in Asgard.

And he sure as hell didn't look like anyone Thor would hang out with. When something looks evil, and pings with evil magic energy: you go with evil.

But, of course, according to Pepper, since nothing in his life was simple, he was in for a surprise.

Because the mystery man pulled out surprise after surprise. He dodged an arrow fired from an almost impossibly close distance considering Clint's accuracy and hatred for the supposed target. Which, his current mood was making everyone on edge and uncomfortable, Nat said he had been pissy since they got word about the Bifrost. Hopefully he will cool his jets soon and go back to normal, or Nat might kill him with her nail polish or something.

Or the Demon Lord might glare him to death.

Like a fucking champ, Sailor Moon took a hit from Capsicle's shield, it sounded worse than nails on a chalkboard or Thor's singing. He moved like water, sort of like you'd expect from a Bruce Lee movie.

Jarvis was right as usual. Whatever energy levels that personally guy put out were definitely not on the same frequency nor wavelength as Loki's magic. It didn't even flow the same.

But something on him was definitely radiating Loki's magic.

Tony didn't have much time to reflect on 'Magic Theory 101' when he heard a tall-tell roar from his number one Green Rage Monster.

'Then of course, he stopped the Mean Green after he knocked me out. And not like just stopped, he made the unstoppable Hulk go all 'Hello God, It's me Margaret' into the sky. The Hulk looked like a dog in training school, and he didn't even lay a hand on him. Then of course I offended the cosplayer and his damn 'Fifty Shades of Grey' whip flung me into Clint like I was a tether-ball. My skin still singes. I'm gonna have to study that compound.' Thought Tony, twisting his face as if trying to will the chemical compound of the whip to his frontal cortex.

Then, mystery man took three glock 17 rounds to the chest and stood there like someone blew him a damn kiss. Center mass! Tony knew how terrible shrapnel felt lacerating into his chest, the terror of waking up with a car battery sticking out of your sternum like a R/C car.

'No. Not going there. I need to focus on the Demon Lord who, apparently, goes way back with Thor. And by way back, I mean longer than America was a country.' Tony scratched his neck, maybe this guy wasn't evil.

'Fashionably late Good ol' Point Break shows up, preventing what was probably going to be a shit-storm of a fight, saying they're old drinking buddies or Shakespeare theatre club members. He honestly doesn't look like anyone Thor would hang out with, his Asgardian buddies are a lot cheerier and brawny and a lot less arrogant and pale.' Tony leaned back, fiddling with the severed boot of his suit, noting that the cut was clean and hardly warped.

The vibes from Point Break and Sailor Moon's whole conversation was that he seemed a lot closer to Loki, or at least knew him better. Which made sense, Loki could probably only be friends with someone with as nuts as a fashion sense as he did, your posse has to keep up, totes. Obvs. Whatevs.

And Loki.

He also claimed he can just summon Loki. Loki! The God of mischief, lies and trickery, who doesn't answer to anyone or anything not even his own logic, or common sense most likely. Coachella insisted he could, in a tone that left doubt even in Thor's mind, and he was all gung-ho about the strength of Asgard's defenses. Sailor Moon even scoffed when Thor told him he was locked up better than the Queen's jewels, that Loki would just hang out in prison, for shits-and-giggles.

The regal pompousness on this Demon Lord could match Fury's ego in size. Tony figured no just one orders Loki around, divas don't respond well to orders. Tony knew from experience.

This silver haired, face tattooed, boa wearing Demon brought with him a daughter, ward, mystery Japanese girl, and a creepy toad servant he calls Jerky, Jermaine? Single father Demon Lord with a frog nanny. Wasn't there a sitcom about that?

Of course, too, not ten seconds ago he watched him put his own fingers in his chest to pull out the bullet with his claws and melt it. And he did it without even a wince. Christ.

He had Pepper do it to him before, but at least he already had a hand-sized hole. He tweezed open his own like it was no big deal.

In fact, the entire damn fight he treated it like was no big deal to him, even when they taunted him. His level of sheer zen was astounding. Like nothing could get under his skin. Monks could take tips from this guy, Loki too. Bruce too. Maybe he could start a meditation circle.

Then, to top it off, he showed his first burst of emotion about when, not where, the he is and the edges of his eyes bled red and his face tattoos morphed. Was he a pokemon? Did they miss out on his evolution into David Bowie?

Tony Stark was utterly intrigued.

'What is this guy gonna do next? and what is SHIELD going to do when they find out not only Gods are real, but Demons are too, and they're bros with Gods? So much for Sunday Mass. It doesn't help Sailor Moon looks positively feral and elegant at the same time. Like you could totally see him eating a person, but with good table manners, like some badly written Ann Rice vampire novel. Drag Queen of the Damned.' Tony laughed to himself while his thoughts spun. Tony couldn't help but sneak peaks at the Demon Lord when he thought he wasn't looking.

"Wow, and you thought you had it bad Cap. At least cars were invented and the pyramids stood." Tony smirked at Clint trying to assuage some of the tension in the plane.

"Tony, the pyramids definitely were around five hundred years ago." Steve replied, only slightly amused.

"You know, I bet there wasn't even Starbucks, or Hagen Daas, both of which are better than the pyramids anyway, if I'm being buried under a huge monument with all of my stuff I sure don't want it to be in a desert where no one can properly admire it." Tony caught Bruce rolling his eyes dramatically, like he didn't already appreciate the monument to his greatness, Stark Tower.

"You can't take it with you, Tony." Steve leaned back, almost as if a challenge.

"Not with that attitude. An eternity of afterlife would be too dull without my stuff." Tony gestured with a general wrist flick to Sesshomaru. "I bet Lestat's family over here does monuments." Tony jutted his chin up.

"Lord Sesshomaru has a grand castle you ignorant human! It goes back many a generation in his father's family! You'd do well to respect that fact!" Toady threw a fit and Tony was starting to wonder how quickly another fight would break out if he threw the leprechaun from the Quinjet.

"Um, might want to check your verb tense there, Lucky Charms." Tony grinned and Jaken began to sputter until Rin gave him some of her Gatorade. Which, yes Sailor Moon Steve is not going to poison a little girl.

They were the good guys the last time he checked, though he doubted even Loki would stoop so low to poison a child. Maybe. Sailor Moon continued to watch Clint and Natasha, ignoring Tony completely.

'What was so interesting about Natasha and Clint the—Oh. They're piloting. He has never even seen this before. He must think Clint…Oh god Clint! I almost forgot the lover's comment between him and Loki. And bed clothes! The guy is an unintentional riot. If he had Youtube back in his era of huts and basic cable, he would've totally had a channel with millions of subscribers. Hell, I'd be his first one.' Tony smirked, however, he couldn't help but sort of feel bad for the guy.

He gets pulled out of whatever Demon Lords do in their spare time, probably eating skulls, to five hundred years in the future and then immediately attacked by technology he doesn't understand, controlled by people thinking he was someone else and his daughter (ward?) Rin gets sick and now he is stuck in a sweaty, almost sausage fest of a plane ride... And he didn't even know planes existed.

'If I were him, I'd have lost my mind already. He is mellow to the max, and we are a big bag of dicks.' Tony sighed, knowing that he was about to do something he rarely did, admit a fuck-up.

"Look, I gotta say on behalf of the Avengers, we fucked up for attacking you and well mistaking you for a shape shifting war criminal without even asking for license and registration first. It's poor form on our part, and you're right, Clint probably does need a shower." Tony admitted and he caught those wild, but cold as liquid nitrogen eyes.

He felt speared in place, like the Demon Lord was shredding his brain with a simple stare.

"Hey, speak for yourself, you crashed into me, Pepe-Le Pew!" Clint retorted, with an outdated metaphor.

"Um. Thrown into you. What you didn't get taught dodging in SHIELD basic, stink-eye? Picked last in dodgeball growing up? Pan hands?" Tony quipped back and he swore he saw the Demon Lord's eyes flicker. So he does have emotions!

"Yes. I'd like apologize as well. In America, where um, you are now, what we did is frowned upon. We shouldn't have just assumed you were Loki. We didn't even give you a chance to state your peace. Even though you're, a Demon, and we've all be taught Demons are evil. This isn't how I like to operate." Steve actually looked guilty. Too bad he now works for SHIELD which isn't above detaining people without a trial, maybe Cap hadn't noticed that yet. Tony released a breath he didn't notice he was holding when Sesshomaru's gaze stopped boring into him and languidly rolled over to regard Cap.

This really does guy looks like he eats people.

"Friends, I can assure you Son of Taisho is not evil. Demons...we...are simply another race, like the Aesir." Thor boomed seriously. Tony figured there was more to this than he thought. Steve didn't look convinced, his biceps were still bulging all 'imminent threat' like.

Sesshomaru ignored Thor.

"I accept your apology. As proof, I will spare the life of the huntress Romanoff who soiled my garment." Sesshomaru answered in a deep serious tenor that wasn't supposed to sound funny, but it was. Soiled his garment?! She shot you! He heard Clint and Bruce laugh.

"We can always finish our fight when we land Pretty Boy!" Natasha called back and Tony noticed Sesshomaru quirked an eyebrow.

"Well if you aren't talking out your ass and you can genie Loki out his Asgardian prison cell I'll wash the damn thing for you, hell I'll even make one for me and wear it. It's a bet." Tony laughed then stopped laughing when a vicious growl rumbled from Sesshomaru and in a flash of a striped wrist he was grappled by the throat.

'I'm gonna die, his grip is harder than steel. Having trouble breathing. Someone shoot him. Clint, I take it back, shoot him!' Tony's thoughts scattered.

"Watch your tongue human. I do not state falsehoods. He will arrive." And as quickly as he gripped his throat he released it. Steve looked like they were about to do something but the shock and speed of it all took him by surprise.

"Son of Taisho! He means no offense! Please refrain from harming my fellow Avengers!" Thor protested heartily. Sesshomaru responded with a dull gaze.

'Thanks Thor, where was an actual defense when he was actually strangling me?! Damn, this better not leave a bruise. I do not need TMZ thinking I have an asphyxiation kink. Again' Tony rubbed his neck, plotting his revenge on the newcomer Sailor Moon. Maybe he should have Jarvis test the Demon Lord's dodging capabilities.

"Yeah, that's really not gonna help the blood pressure of the 'berserker' either." Bruce muttered, getting himself under control.

"Storm God, why are you calling Lord Sesshomaru Son of Taisho? I don't like humans much, but you aren't a human. Is there food?" Rin asked and everyone except Tony and Natasha ignored it. Tony didn't know what she was talking about. He could read Japanese, sure. But, his listening comprehension was a bit spotty outside the basic phrases of 'tie me up', 'harder, faster', and 'thank you Mr. Roboto'.

"Ah little one! I call him Son of Taisho because of his father. A truly grand Demon Lord! We were very bereaved when he was slain. And you shall most promptly discover that the mortals you find yourself in the company of are most pleasant as are their refreshments and pastries. We shall feast when we arrive!" Thor responded excitedly, Tony forgot how excited he got over food.

"Oh yeah, I forgot all-speak. That's nifty. So, you're the only one who can understand her. Do like, Demons also have this all-speak?" Steve asked nervously, Tony could tell the guy unnerved him a bit.

"We can communicate with anything based on our youki! Do not underestimate our intellect and power!" Toady spoke up, shaking his creepy fucking staff, were those real heads? Did Coachella eat two people and make a staff with their heads?

"I can also mostly understand her, though my Japanese is rusty, and her accent and word choice is odd." Interjected Natasha. Tony wondered if the modelling gig in Tokyo he has stumbled upon when Fury had her shadow him was actually legit.

Maybe there were more photos.

Hell, Sailor Moon could model, he has cheekbones that could cut concrete. Tony noticed that Sesshomaru either had completely zoned out or was slowly being bored to death.

"Ok Storm God! Your friends are weird, and they better not make Sesshomaru angry again!" Rin sing-songed and began to swing her feet. Thor laughed and Tony hated being left out of jokes.

"So. Sesshomaru." Tony tried his name for the first time. "What's your deal? What do you do in your spare time? Knit? Flower arrangements? Fly fish? Cosplay?" Tony hoped he wouldn't respond 'the butchering of the human race'.

Tony was rewarded a flicker of a gaze in his direction.

"Rin's pastimes are arranging flowers and fishing." He answered simply. Rin nodded and smiled brightly. Alright, outdoorsy types, makes sense it's not like she had a Wii.

"Yeah...you know you're damned good at getting out of questions." Tony leaned back and crossed his arms over his arc reactor. Sesshomaru merely looked away, as if pretending to act innocent. Like hell this guy was innocent of anything.

They enjoyed a comfortable silence for a good eight minutes before surprisingly Sesshomaru broke it.

"What means of power device is in your chest?" Sesshomaru inquired his sharp eyes darting to Tony's chest. Tony grinned like a Cheshire cat.

"How 'bout this Coachella, I'll answer your question if you answer one of mine. Tit for tat." Tony challenged, raising an eyebrow. He knew he could get this guy to talk.

Sesshomaru blinked in response and Tony could smell smoke Sesshomaru was thinking so hard.

"So be it." Sesshomaru straightened in his seat, his silver hair escaped his back and cascaded down his shoulders. Tony could barely refrain from asking what his hair care regimen was. Probably the tears of his enemies and soon to be happy meals.

"This," Tony tapped the arc reactor "is something I created called an arc reactor. It's a clean energy reactor. It ensures that the shrapnel near my heart doesn't shred me to bits. I'm a genius, it's a pretty awesome, don't mean to brag too much." Tony expected Sesshomaru to have a bit more of a reaction than just a quiet hum. Usually people were all 'Oh Tony, can you take off your shirt so I can see it better?!' well ok, that was mostly women and men he was intent on seducing.

"Lord Sesshomaru, it's not unlike the Shikon jewel correct?!" Toady supplied. Sesshomaru nodded slowly.

"Similarities are apparent." Sesshomaru agreed and he heard Steve snicker. Tony could not believe it. His arc reactor was nothing like some jewel!

"Ok, this baby is nothing like a jewel or gem or whatever. I did not bedazzle myself." Tony defended, pounding his fist into his chest for effect.

"I don't know Tony; it does look like a nice brooch. Maybe you should get some earrings to match." Natasha chuckled and Tony huffed in indignation.

"Allfather once gifted my mother Frigga a ring of a matching hue of your circle of power Man of Iron! I can inquire from which market he made the purchase if you would like!" Thor smiled and Tony just put his head in his hands. Thor would do it too.

This arrogant Demon Lord just turned what was arguably his best invention, and coolest thing ever into a damn piece of jewelry. He was not the 'Pretty Pretty Princess board game' damnit!

"You are impossible." Tony muttered, glaring at Sesshomaru in frustration, but Sesshomaru was too busy looking at Natasha. Pervert.

"Oh yeah, 'He's' impossible." Clint smirked at Tony. Tony wished he had just gone solo to New Mexico, but no, he just had to get drunk one night and tell Natasha all about the magic detector he created. Of course, Fury was at his door the next morning asking for it. Thus, the super-secret boy band had assembled again.

"Ok, whatever. My turn. What is your goal? I never met a Demon Lord before so, gotta ask. World domination? Beauty contest? Enslavement of all humanity? Séance director?" Tony volleyed a few guesses to kick-start the conversation.

Sesshomaru put a finger to his lips thoughtfully and eyes went to the up and left. Tony found himself on the edge of his seat.

"My goal is to return to my time with Rin and Jaken." Sesshomaru supplied listlessly, and if Tony didn't know any better the bastard led him on. Tony face-palmed.

"No. You know what I meant. No evading, answer the real question!" Tony all but demanded. He felt his ears get hot, this guy irritated him to no end.

"This Sesshomaru did not evade you. It is no fault of my own you did not pose the question you desired to ask." Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed, the crimson on his lids contrasting the gold well. Tony obviously knew that, his Iron Mans suits practically matched his eyes perfectly.

"Fine, be that way. I'll just ask your bro Thor." Tony turned to a perplexed Thor.

"We are not brothers." Sesshomaru and Thor chorused at the same time. Tony rolled his eyes, great we had to go into idioms and slang again. He should have charged Steve and Thor for swag lessons.

"Not this again." Bruce had enough of it as well.

"Oh! I know this one. In this instance Tony is speaking of you two being so close of friends you may as well be brothers." Steve smiled helpfully, which did nothing to lift Sailor Moon's frosty glare.

"Thank you, urban dictionary." Clint called out. This time Tony snickered at Steve, payback.

"Son of Taisho and I are friends yes, but he and my brother were far closer. He may have the answer you seek Son of Stark." Thor informed.

"Ok, no more Son of Stark business, this is not Game of Thrones." Tony interjected, He couldn't get for the life of him why Loki called him 'Stark' but Thor insisted on the Shakespeare.

'Bingo, thought so. So, Sailor Moon and Reindeer Games were like old partners in crime. Explains a lot, both arrogant, irritating and dress like they're vying for best costume at Comic-con. Sailor Moon though definitely has the intimidating death glare down, and Bambi the maniacal laugh. They could be the perfect villains for some obscure comic book.' Tony caught a flash of dark movement from the cockpit. Clint. Pissed again.

"Whoa. Whoa. Hold the phone you and Loki are friends!?" Clint's blood pressure raised at least a hundred points and the Quinjet lurched violently to the side. Tony, only because he helped design the damned things, knew it wasn't enough to send the plane into a death-spin, but he knew the others may not know that fact.

"Please don't crash us Clint." Bruce requested mildly, but Tony could have sworn he could see his skin turn a little green. Yeah. Piss off the rage monster Clint, that will help your issues.

All eyes darted from Thor to Sesshomaru.

Tony watched as Sesshomaru looked around the jet. 'Probably assessing how to get his ass out of the frying pan without getting into the fire.' Tony tensed, Steve reared back shocked.

"Clint, he's from five hundred years in the past remember?" Natasha sounded irritated. Tony then flashed back to logic. Of course. It's not like this guy was friends with Loki three years ago. She was probably about to strangle him because whenever Clint thought of Loki he didn't think logically. Clint was still pretty sore about the brainwashing even though it was almost three years ago. His mood on the ground showed it.

"Next round of question game. I ask you one and you can ask one of me." Tony shot over to Sesshomaru and he looked unimpressed.

"I acquiesce." Sesshomaru nodded almost imperceptibly. Tony took that as a 'Hell yes Tony Stark, pinnacle genius of the 21st century' agreement.

'Finally, he pays attention to me! The Quinjet isn't that cool, I should show him my G6. The G6 as better seats, and a full bar' Tony smirked, blood tingling for a scotch.

"What did you and Loki do together specifically, and for how long?" And the jet stilled in anticipation. Tony didn't know if sex acts contributed to something he saw, or didn't see coming.

"We completed various quests over three hundred and forty years. We also collaborated on subjects of tactics, strategy, swordsmanship, hand-to-hand combat and artistry." Sesshomaru punctuated each item like a bullet point on a resume. Tony was a bit slack jawed, three hundred and forty years!? These two were more than just friends; it sounds like a bromance. They were 'Lord of The Ringsing' it for almost as long as America was a country!

"Lord Sesshomaru I had no idea you could do art! How wonderful!" Rin beamed. Tony and the others, excluding Natasha and Thor, had no idea what she said. Yet, Tony could tell she felt nothing but pride and wonder. This little girl really thought this guy hung the moon. Well, he did have one on his forehead.

"Nothing like playing Dungeons and Dragons, Risk, and arts and crafts with a lunatic sorcerer." Clint, ever the sarcastic one, gave his two cents. Thor's brow furrowed in thought and Tony caught it. Was this a sore subject for Point Break?

Sesshomaru shot a glare towards Clint in retaliation. Natasha turned her head to Clint almost in a warning stance.

"How old are you? You don't mind me asking?" Bruce asked quietly from the corner. Tony almost forgot about the green machine.

"I am four hundred ninety-three years old." Sesshomaru admitted, as if age was nothing but a number. Tony had to admit, he looked good for a five-hundred-year old skull eater.

"Hey why'd he get a free question?!" Tony feigned indignation, Sailor Moon's eyes lit up like candles. Tony immediately forgot why he was annoyed, and instead focused on the reaction he managed to get from 'Mr. Sword In The Stone'.

"Aye! You matured so quickly! When we first crossed swords you appeared to be aged no more than fifteen human years! You now look much older!" Thor contributed and Tony couldn't help but try to envision a fifteen-year-old Demon Lord try to kick Thor's ass.

Sailor Moon cracked his knuckles, as if challenging Thor.

'Oh shit, what if he could kick Thor's ass?' Tony stiffened a bit, is that why Thor didn't directly help him? Was Sailor Moon that much agile than he was?

"Sell your secrets to Estee Lauder, they'd pay a fortune for your youthful glow." Bruce joked, Sesshomaru shifted.

"It's your turn." Tony directed to Sesshomaru. "Fire away grandpa!" Tony sat back, ready to slam dunk any question.

Pause.

"I lack a pertinent question." Sesshomaru flat lined and Tony nearly pulled hair out of his head. What?!

"You lack a pertinent question?! You are five hundred years in the future, on a different continent, in a…a jet you've never even seen before, with five strangers who you never met before who attacked you with weapons you didn't know existed before. To top it off the Harry Potter to your Hermione Granger is imprisoned for war crimes and you don't have a single pertinent question?!" Tony garbled, exasperated.

'Just who was this guy?! He had no questions?!' Tony lost it, absolutely lost it. Who was this guy?! Was he being coy on purpose?

"Correct." Sesshomaru's golden eyes held a faint, but rare glimmer noticeable only to Rin and Jaken both of whom looked a bit puzzled. Tony heard Natasha snort from the front seat. Voyeur.

Tony clenched and unclenched his fists and he heard Bruce chuckle. What was he laughing at? This wasn't a joke!

"Does that make Clint, Ginny Weasely?" Bruce's face held a wicked grin and the Quinjet lurched again.

"Nat hand me my bow." Clint demanded, seventy percent serious. He even reached his hand out to her like she would actually do his dirty work for him. Well, maybe she did, but she didn't seem to be entertaining the thought tonight.

"Loki is really more of a Draco Malfoy." Natasha admitted, purposefully ignoring Clint.

"You are all so lively and jovial! It has been a while since we have all congregated has it not friends?!" Thor laughed excitedly and for a second it fell a bit silent.

It had indeed been a quiet thirty-three months. The Avengers had not been all called together since Loki and the Battle of New York.

'Maybe that's why I jumped the gun over stoic statue over here. I've been itching to do anything, fight for something. Iron Man was simply not meant to patrol the streets looking for a simple liquor store robbery or making promotional appearances. I didn't create so many suits just to keep my nightmares at bay.' Tony crossed his arms in front of his chest again, defensively. Defensively at what, or who he wasn't sure.

"Yes, it has. It's nice to be all together fighting for a common purpose again." Steve caught a side-eye from Sesshomaru. "However, mistaken the original intention was." Steve coughed. Awkward.

"It's good to see everyone well." Natasha added, with a slight smile that Tony could spot from the tone of her voice.

"Well, it certainly isn't boring." Bruce agreed, begrudgingly. Tony had collaborated with him sporadically across the past two years, but the ever-private Rage Monster had often left secretly for months at a time.

"Yeah, yeah, one big family reunion. Did someone make potato salad?!" Tony couldn't help himself and Clint laughed heartily, finally getting out of his funk.

"And see Son of Taisho it is all because of you! You have my thanks! It has been too long for our reunion" Thor put his hand up in a high five motion and Sesshomaru looked at him as if he had grown a second head.

"Oh yes! Midguardians have a custom called a 'high five'. It involves slapping hands when a victory is achieved or an unexpected great event occurs!" Tony could have sworn Thor was treating him like a former bro. Sailor Moon, if he cared for Thor's frat, didn't seem like he wanted to pledge it.

'Maybe I should buy a keg when we get back and see if Thor would do a keg stand. Sesshomaru would probably cut his hair before doing one.' Tony rattled off in his head where he could find a keg. Also, he had an inkling that the Demon Lord was vain about his long hair.

"You can't leave Thor hangin'!" Clint supplied and Sesshomaru looked down to Rin who immediately understood and jumped up and slapped her hand against Thor's. She giggled and danced in a satisfied jig.

"Calling in assists is cheating." Tony scowled, but even he had to admit it made for the perfect Kodak moment: small adorable Japanese girl high fives Nordic Golden God. It was like an Apple ad if they had iphones.

"Lord Sesshomaru does not cheat! He does not find it a suitable use of his time and effort!" Toady shook that gross staff again. Tony really wanted to ask what it was, but he was simultaneously terrified of the answer he would get. He could tell the heads looked human enough…but still…seriously?!

"Lord Sesshomaru I like the Storm God! He reminds me a little of Uncle Inuyasha!" Rin smiled and Sesshomaru stilled a bit. Tony could instantly tell by his demeanor he got stressed.

"He is far more agreeable than Inuyasha, and a more skilled warrior, there is hardly a resemblance." Sesshomaru answered with a pause. Tony had no idea who Inuyasha was but took note to ask him at some point.

"That buffoon Inuyasha could not ever be considered a God silly girl!" Jaken shook his head, dispelling the idea. Rin stuck her tongue out at Frogman.

"Hey I hate to crash the good mood but we need to tell Fury what or who we found in the desert and what happened." Natasha reminded, and silence weighed in heavy. Tony rubbed his goatee in thought. This could get tricky, Fury gets nosey.

"I should have just gone on vacation like I wanted…" Clint groaned. Oh, poor Clint, it's not like anyone held a gun to his head to come.

"Tell him it was a fool's errand. That nothing was found and that my brother is still imprisoned." Thor suggested. Tony rolled his eyes. Like that would satisfy Fury, world greatest bullshit detector. Tony would know.

"Fury has my Rudolph Radar, thanks to Natasha. He will know are lying even if Miss Black widow 'spydar' herself tells him it was wonky." Tony pointed out, trying, and failing to read the expressionless silver haired Demon.

"I also reported in that we needed containment for the Hulk. He would know we found someone or some people." Natasha confessed, her voice low in irritation.

"Well, we can't very well tell him we attacked a Demon Lord thinking he was Loki. Fury would demand answers, first of all knowing what a Demon Lord is, what he is doing here, and what his intentions are. Especially his intentions and he is innocent." Steve groaned, Tony felt like joining him in a group groan. SHIELD always gave him a headache.

'What a damn mess.' Tony drummed his fingers on his arc reactor. Not arc reactor brooch, jewel thing, but a reactor. Comfort always flooded his senses when he tapped it.

"Remember, he is still bitter that Loki is on Asgard for his sentence, not here on Earth. Anything Loki related he is going to want blood. Hell, the world would want blood. They'd riot if this got out." Bruce chimed in, which caused Sesshomaru to swivel his head his way.

"We could tell Fury we found an unknown entity at the site of the Bifrost and are taking him to Thor for questioning." Natasha inputted in her typical, 'spyalculator' way she typically did.

"He would demand that he be brought directly to SHIELD. You know how much he trusts me anything Loki related." Clint countered automatically.

"Which we can't do, since he isn't Loki, but we can't prove since he has his magic signature" Bruce admitted, rubbing his eyes in defeat.

"What if we told commander Fury it was a beast we slew?!" Thor put a finger up and Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed to slits. Tony suppressed a chuckle barely.

"He'd want to see a body." Natasha fired back, Thor's face dampened.

"Well, as far as we know, at least Fury doesn't know Thor was even there, so we don't have to explain old friends, embarrassing frat stories, and baby photos." Tony attempted humor, but it fell flat and not even Bruce thought it was funny.

"He's going to wonder why we delayed in reporting in this much." Steve ran a hand through his perfect blond hair.

Pause.

"Romanoff has articulated an astute strategy. Loki's magic is not only unique to Loki, but to his mother and the distant realm King Odin, and perhaps others. Bedclothes, report to your commander that you have transported your quarry to Storm God for personal interrogation since you determined he not of this realm." Sesshomaru's calm demeanor acted like a salve on a burn.

"Not a bad idea for a Project Runway dropout." Tony reacted a little shocked, for someone who just fell out of the sky he caught on to scenarios quick. Maybe he wasn't just for show after all.

"That. Could. Work. We just tell him we found someone that wasn't a hostile. Wait did you just call me bedclothes?!" Steve brightened then his jaw dropped in confusion.

"I may have to steal bedclothes." Tony smirked and he blocked an empty Gatorade bottle chucked his way by Steve.

"I see summer camp for the rich, power hungry, and immortal has paid off." Clint gave a thumbs-up.

"We will explain our delay in reporting in by trying to contact Thor and medical assistance. Stark play up that ankle burn. Rogers only mention one person at the site." Natasha fell back into her typical assassin rhythm.

"Like Leonardo DiCaprio vying for an Oscar. Natalie bring the Quinjet to Stark Tower. Fuck if Fury is going to come barging down my door, my security is tighter than your spandex." Tony barbed by purposely calling her by her 'shadow' name and Natasha raised an expertly waxed eyebrow.

"Already had the coordinates in. And nothing is tighter than my spandex." Natasha winked. Tony, reinvigorated, have Thor a good pat on the shoulder.

"When we arrive to the tower I will beseech Heimdall for information on the Bifrost. Surprise floods me that it was used for travelling though time. I must consult the Allfather about this, and why you feel of Loki's magic." Thor put his hand under his chin, deep in thought which was foreign territory for the 'Storm God'. Tony noticed Sesshomaru had pursed his lips.

"Yeah, what's up with that Sailor Moon? I got Loki's bad attitude magic signature all over you like a bad suit…or kimono, but underneath it all, I have your energy signature. Did Loki have a thing for boas?" Tony inquired and to his surprise the Demon Lord closed his eyes. His crimson eyelids fell like curtains and for a moment he looked tired. He exhaled through his nose and opened his eyes at Tony, expression masked.

"That is an additional inquiry I did not give consent to answer." Sesshomaru responded placidly.

Tony lost it again.

 

Chapter Text

I do not own any characters in this fic: they are the property of Marvel Comics and Rumiko Takahashi

Sesshomaru and the Big Apple

*(*

Sesshomaru smelled the stench and heard the commotion of large city before they came upon it, even over the roar of the flying device. His sensitive ears were unaccustomed to the clamor of this new realm.

Sesshomaru tensed, the amount of human energies and auras he sensed staggered him. He could not feel any youki at all. Were all of the here Demons in hiding? Were they all decimated? Did the Demon exterminators, monks and priestesses wipe out all the Demons in this region?

He felt his throat go dry. Did all humans have the capabilities that this handful did?

Sesshomaru didn't voice any questions ricocheting in his mind. He noted as well that Thor said nothing, maybe he didn't know. Maybe he wanted to wait to tell him what happened to his kind.

Maybe there was nothing to tell.

Sesshomaru monitored Jaken, he knew all too well that the Kappa was rattled, uneasy and frightened. Sesshomaru had to keep his resolve intact to preserve his retainer's morale.

Though Sesshomaru rarely acknowledged it, Jaken's unwavering loyalty, although at times grating, aided him through dark times. He would ensure that he would not fall victim to any undue mistreatment from these humans.

"Just wait till you see the big apple! It's one of the best metropolises in world! It's the city that never sleeps!" Sesshomaru spared a glance to their leader, Bedclothes, who flashed a grin. Obviously trying to win Sesshomaru over with conversation.

"Hmmm." Sesshomaru replied not feeling particularly articulate, mind elsewhere.

"You humans named a city after a fruit? I will never understand your kind." Jaken's grip on the staff of two heads tightened in irritation.

"No Toady, it's called New York. Best city on the planet!" Barton the archer responded.

"You know Fury is unhappy. I bought us the night but by tomorrow is gonna try to kick down your door Tony." Natasha informed. Sesshomaru wondered how fearsome their commander was to inspire such a reaction out of his subordinates. He realized that whoever this was, he was admirable indeed.

'Their inherent need to prevent him from knowing my existence is both amusing and perplexing. Surely they believe not that their commander could harm me, the inverse must be true.' Sesshomaru continued to probe out with his youki, searching for any response.

"Watch him try. He can huff and he puff but he won't blow my house down. He'll get his after we get ours." Tony blurted out carelessly. Bruce's eyebrows shot up in what could have been easily interpreted as an implied threat but didn't say anything when he observed the silver haired demon Lord didn't even flinch.

Tenseiga pulsed softly

Bruce deducted something must be distracting him, or he figured out ignoring sixty percent of what Tony said was a sound strategy.

"We will have time to plan for Fury's debrief tonight. It's almost sunset anyway." Romanoff explained, sounding a touch weary.

"Hey dad can my friends sleep over?!" Barton the archer chimed in with a cheeky grin. Sesshomaru noted, yet again, these humans were utilizing terms and idioms he had no familiarity with. Or was Stark truly Barton's father? He doubted it as much.

It was becoming tiresome, but Sesshomaru had other larger issues, such as why Thor and even the armored man Stark could detect Loki's magic on him when he could not.

The scent of the magic gate had long since left him, and as he recalled in the past the magic gate was not Loki's magic. All Sesshomaru wanted was peace but he was clustered thick in a metal flying bird with a band of useless humans and an oblivious Storm God.

"Only if you promise not to queue up every rom com and Robert Downey Jr movie on my TiVo. I swear I don't look like him, and never hit heroin." Stark grumbled.

"Hey this is coming from the guy who made me sit through Hansel and Gretel Vampire Hunter because you thought I looked like Jeremy Renner." Barton shot back.

"Lord Sesshomaru, Rin wants to see Ah-Un and go flying, and maybe visit Inuyasha." Rin pouted. Rin never pouted. Sesshomaru frowned, so she too harbored a dislike for their new found surroundings.

"Fear not Rin. Ah-Un will be reunited with you." Sesshomaru comforted, voice distant. He too wished to see his valued steed again.

"I didn't even get to give Ah-Un the fish I caught for him." Rin scrunched her face and kicked her legs back and forth. Sesshomaru knew Rin needed sustenance, hopefully in this realm they provide nourishment that is better than that horrid red potion.

"Tell me of this Ah-Un Lady Rin!" Thor leaned forward ready for story time.

As Rin went on to describe the two headed dragon to Thor, and perhaps to an eavesdropping Romanoff, Sesshomaru attempted to a tactic to distract Thor and his band of humans so he could convene privately with Loki later, first he would have to scout the surrounding area that this fortress occupied.

"So, who is up for watching a movie when we get back? My vote is Lost in Translation." Natasha, uncharacteristically proposed.

"I've never seen it but it sounds like something I could relate to." Steve grinned self-deprecatingly.

"It's good. It has Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in it. It's them going through an adjustment period in Tokyo. It sounds kind of appropriate, plus there is a lot of Japanese in it so Rin can watch it." Romanoff expounded.

"You want Rin's first movie to be Lost In Translation? Shouldn't it be something more kid oriented?" The Berserker countered.

"She is pretty mature for a kid her age. When her big bad Demon Lord daddy decided to get into a five on one fight she pumped her fist and said go get em. She is no stranger fights." Romanoff discerned.

"Rin may do as she pleases." Sesshomaru settled the argument. He had not realized that the huntress had been listening to Rin so carefully, he doubted it was due to some maternal instinct.

"Alright kiddies, please put your tray tables in the upright and locked position and remain seated because we have arrived. You don't mind us setting this down on the tower do you Stark?" Barton announced in a fake voice, Sesshomaru, again ignored him.

"Nah any damages I'll just charge to Agent." Stark grinned and saw Roger roll his eyes.

Sesshomaru reflexively lengthened his claws. The sounds that reverberated in his skull were maddening in conjunction with the plane engines. He couldn't even tell what they were. Chatter, other devices, screeches and banging. He set his jaw as they landed.

As they disembarked, Jaken and Rin's eyes bugged out of their heads and Sesshomaru's blanked out. They had never seen anything like it. Sesshoumaru's ears twitched.

Cold white, yellow, red and blue lights flared both harsh and soft across horizon. Monoliths and towers stabbed straight, blunt and true from the earth. They thrusted to the sky as if to punch it for its existence.

The twilight hour made the scene look like something from the underworld, both awe inspiring and devastating at the same time. The dying sunlight refracted off the structures making them gleam as if afire.

The air smelt of tar, smoke, metal and humans. It scratched the insides of his nose and he nearly sneezed. He could hardly smell any trees, grasses, animals or fresh soil. Even the water smelled tainted. He knew his sense of smell would be nearly useless in this place, so he closed off the sense with his youki temporarily.

Where was Spring?

"Lord Sesshomaru what dreadful place is this?! We are doomed!" Jaken nearly dropped the staff of two heads. Rin stood silent, fists clenched.

'Is this why the Demons were gone? The humans had surely succeeded in corrupting and destroying this realm.' Sesshomaru maintained a face of neutrality for Rin's, Jaken's and his pride's sake, but his ears flattened.

"This is the big apple, Jaken." Sesshomaru meant for it to mock the humans, naming a city a fruit when it was clearly so unnatural, but his voice barely came out as a whisper.

"See Sailor Moon, us humans, we got our kicks. This is what the industrial revolution gets you. Clearly you guys got some catching up to do, but I can give you some manuals. Welcome to the pinnacle of five hundred years' technology and progress! And you're about to see the best part! Stark Tower!" Stark spread his arms out wide as if he owned the whole city.

Sesshomaru frowned slightly, he did not comprehend why the human needed to seem so smug.

"Lord Sesshomaru can we please go home? I promise I won't disobey Jaken anymore." Rin's eyes softened and she buried her face in Sesshomaru's pelt.

Sesshomaru, in an uncommon display of affection, placed a clawed hand gently on her head, massaging her tangled hair gently. Sesshomaru meant the words he said, but he felt his stomach knot.

"No harm will befall you in this metropolis, Rin." Sesshomaru spat out the word metropolis as a curse and his golden eyes narrowed to shards and his pupils to slits at Stark.

Stark's shoulders fell. He didn't know what Rin said but he could hedge a good bet.

"Wow Tony way to scare a little girl into tears. Is this your effect on all women or just the ones you're trying to impress?" Bedclothes admonished. Sesshomaru then realized all the muscles in his body were bow-string taught and released them one muscle group section by one.

"At least this one didn't see him shirtless!" Barton, the archer, jabbed. Thor nodded.

"C'mon guys let's show you around. It takes some getting used to but it's not that scary." Romanoff said the third sentence in Japanese and motioned to a rooftop access door.

Sesshomaru followed, not wanting to subject his senses, especially his ears, to more assault. The rest followed suit, leaving Stark on the rooftop.

"Why am I the bad guy and not the Demon Lord?!" Was all he said as he reluctantly followed, being the last person to enter his own house.

Sesshomaru relaxed somewhat as they entered the fortress, at least until he heard a voice.

"Welcome back Miss Romanoff, Mr. Barton, Thor, Mr. Rogers and Dr. Banner. I detect three previously unidentified persons, neither listed as hostile nor friendly." Jarvis sounded and Sesshomaru immediately straightened and went to the balls of his feet.

He spread both of his arms in a protective stance for Rin and Jaken. His hands glowed a fearsome, deadly green from his toxin and his talons were long and sharp while his face remained stony. His blue youki surged like a wave and his ears lowered.

'They lured us into a trap! I sense no life presence for this voice!' Sesshomaru's instincts reflected back to battles with Naraku, wondering if he should draw Tenseiga.

"Whoa, whoa, relax. Jarvis is not going to eat you. Jarvis, classify these guys as friendlies." Stark entered the main living room and kitchen of Stark tower.

"Welcome back Sir, what should I call your companions?" Jarvis asked.

Sesshomaru had had enough of being talked about as if he was not present.

"I am Sesshomaru Lord of the Western Lands and in my consort is my retainer Jaken and my ward Rin." Sesshomaru's voice reported steadily and with cemented authority.

"Very well, welcome Lord Sesshomaru, Retainer Jaken and Lady Rin." Jarvis replied mechanically and Sesshomaru looked around, trying to identify the source of the voice.

"Do not let the Voice of Jarvis vex you Son of Taisho! He has no corporeal form!" Thor informed and Sesshomaru retracted his claws and the toxin dissipated instantly.

"I see. He is a bodiless incarnation." Sesshomaru murmured, seemingly to himself, thinking of a certain Wind Demon.

"Yeah, OK. Let's order some pizza, please for the love of God?!" Barton called out from what appeared to be a long, plush seat.

"No onions on at least one." Bedclothes emphatically shouted.

"I want Mediterranean." The huntress, Romanoff commanded.

"I'm good for whatever." The Berserker relented.

"I request two pies with the ground boar meat!" Storm God bellowed.

'If Loki doesn't show himself this nightfall I may just fight Thor in front of all his humans until he does.' Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles and lowered his ears.

"Sure, call the usual pizza places. Oh Sailor Moon, you probably don't know pizza but you're going to love it." Tony flashed a smile, in a weak peace keeping attempt.

"I do not consume human fare. Rin, you may only eat whatever Storm God eats." Sesshomaru reassured and she nodded resolutely. Rogers looked like he gave up in being trusted.

"Yes Lord Sesshomaru!" Rin all but saluted. Sesshomaru turned to leave.

"Jaken, Storm God, I leave Rin in your care. Do not disappoint this Sesshomaru." Sesshomaru's voice held a dark, veiled warning as he glanced over the luxurious accommodations.

"Wait. Where you going? We were just about to start the party!" Stark inquired and Sesshomaru turned to the group of humans who watched him carefully.

'This test will determine if they are genuine in their regard to welcome me as an equal, or try to contain me a foe.' Sesshomaru swished back, his hair fanning out slightly in the climate controlled apartment.

"I will be return within a human hour." Sesshomaru's voice fell like a curtain and in a rush he was out the way he came.

Sesshomaru needed space and to scout. Regardless if it meant torturing his taxed eardrums to more cacophonous noise. His long, lean legs led him out to the roof where the metal bird, believed to be named Quinjet, rested.

He ignored it and with a graceful leap he front-flipped into the air, his silver hair swirled all around him.

Though he couldn't make out specific sounds very well, he could hear the overall din of humans exercising all sorts of liberties in the cooling air. There were so many, he had never thought humans would build on top of each other like insects would.

He rebounded swiftly off the side of one structure, noting that the side was made of the same transparent crystal the front of the plane was.

He ran. The wind whipped by him like a current of rapids.

'Kagura, does your spirit still live? Do you still linger here after so many Demons have left?' Sesshomaru closed his eyes as he ran perpendicular to the side of the building, leaping again into the air, almost as a cartwheel to a neighboring skyscraper.

He would appear as nothing but perhaps a white and silver blur to the human eye, using around seventy percent of his top speed. He followed the scant scent of trees, eyes closed.

He rebounded off the side of the nameless structure he sprinted down and again back-flipped onto the top of an abnormally tall skyscraper.

'At least these buildings make an easy way to bound about, better than trees.' Sesshomaru attempted to find a silver lining in the despoiled realm he found himself in

Sesshomaru gazed out, examining the rancid river and the salty ocean. He saw a green statue of someone of great acclaim and wondered absently if his father's grave still held true. Most likely not if humans had turned his lands into something similar to his.

He sprung again, enticing the wind to billow the sleeves of his yukata and fan his hair. He gazed at the dead earth far down below him and wondered if the cost was worth it. He knew Rin would miss the flowers, the grasses and the green. He did as well; the grey was disappointing.

Recoiling again onto another tall monolith this time using the full strength of his legs he rocketed into the air.

'Humans and their itch for conquest. Their insatiable thirst for more. They are not so unlike the Demons they scorn.' Sesshomaru in a vain, artistic show of power in mid backflip, back arched towards the heavens, unleashed an unabashedly wide shock wave of shimmering blue youki far above the city.

It washed most of Manhattan, including Stark Tower, for the briefest of moments, in an ice blue glory in the throes of sunset. His youki settled down through the air like glimmering flurries. Sesshomaru allowed himself a brief smile as he set his trap.

"I shall not be intimidated by your industrial revolution." Sesshomaru finished his flip and planted firmly on another high structure's pole, this one scalloped in its edges and design.

He stood for countless moments, Tenseiga humming. Waiting for a challenge on his claim. Perhaps a territorial Demon would emerge, or another metal bird. Sesshomaru scowled slightly in disappointment when no one appeared.

'This...putrid metropolis appears to be an economic not militaristic stronghold.' Sesshomaru leapt again, continuing to scout the area for threats and found none.

He finally, he decided to unleash his sense of smell again and circled back to the trees and pounced down from his perch like a javelin, Sesshomaru, out of all the unfamiliar smells, caught whiff of a familiar prey. Deer. Sesshomaru had a plan.

Within seconds the game was his, and with his fur pelt coiled tightly around the carcass, he slashed down an armful of branches, still mostly inert from winter. He returned to the odd tower, sailing with an elegance that had been missing from this realm for a long time.

Placing the deer on the roof, near the Quinjet, he arranged the branches, cleaned the kindling from them, and with a spark of youki lit a roaring fire.

As he waited for the fire to die down, he knelt down and expertly cleaned the deer with his elongated talons, sharpening one femur to a deadly point. Rin would need to feel safe in this realm, he would provide her that.

"Lord Sesshomaru! What fine venison you have prepared. I have our spices!" Jaken waddled up, the most excited he had been all day. Sesshomaru felt at ease, despite his ears thrumming. It was good fortune their food spices were on Jaken's person when the magic gate appeared.

He gave Jaken a femur bone and instructed him to wash it with the staff of two heads. He then licked it, sealing it like resin, hardening it.

He wasn't the only one who followed suit up to the roof. Sesshomaru's eyebrows raised, his plan going into motion.

"You went hunting without me Fancy Pants?! That's treasonous. If I get plates do I get some?" Sesshomaru's eyes went wide as Barton the archer approached. He had not expected the archer to consider him in such a familiar light.

Perhaps the archer liked venison.

"I shall share in my bounty if you provide those." Sesshomaru nodded once, there was more than enough to share between three people, of that Sesshomaru made sure.

"Sweet. Haven't had fresh venison in ages, nice cleaning job by the way." Sesshomaru quirked an eyebrow as Barton loped down the stairs of the roof access.

'Loki has peculiar tastes in lovers indeed.' Hummed Sesshomaru as he watched Jaken spice and prepare the steaks and skewer them. Sesshomaru preferred his mostly raw, and Jaken preferred his rare.

"Ok, you can't just light fires on the top of my house. There are things called the fire department, and like, manners." Stark bounded up the stairs followed by Rin, Romanoff, Bedclothes and the Berserker.

"Fire is only dangerous in the hands of the weak and inexperienced." Sesshomaru instructed, ignoring the humans as turned back towards the steaks.

"Tell that to smokey the bear." Bedclothes joked good naturedly. Sesshomaru knew of no bears who would care about fire. 'I sensed no bear Demons in this region, perhaps he is a Demon of some renown.' Sesshomaru mused as he picked up the bone.

"Come Rin I have prepared for you a present." Rin skipped forward and gave her the washed and sealed femur. Rin gleefully swung the bone which was about as tall as she was.

"I'll train with Jaken every day! Thank you Lord Sesshomaru!" Rin smiled, picking it up and stroking it through the air.

"And I thought modern parenting was a tad bizarre." Roger's eyebrows went to his forehead. The others looked a bit amused.

"I may not have slain enough flesh for you all. The archer Barton has already staked a claim by procuring plates." Sesshomaru's face and especially his eyes looked feral and glorious in the firelight. Sesshomaru knew the statement was misleading, it was important to promote scarcity in his prize.

"I guess I'll get drinks and cups." The Berserker, shockingly, was first on the bandwagon as Barton jumped back into view with a few plates.

"Gah you buzzards! You already had your choice of pizza!" Barton, indignant, marched over to Sesshomaru, set down the plates, and picked up a smaller steak as the Berserker slipped back down to the penthouse.

"What is this?! West Virginia?! Are we all going to start singing Wagonwheel? Steve you have a guitar right? Where did you even get a deer? And what was with the light show over Manhattan?! You've turned my tower upside down and you haven't even been here two hours!" Stark gestured exasperatingly and huffed. Jaken rose.

"How dare you question my Lord Sesshomaru so?! He has done nothing but agree to your moronic terms! That blue youki was a proximity barrier! If any powerful foe enters its radius we will know!" Jaken sputtered with anger as he speared his own steak and began to cook it.

Pause.

"Yeah. Well. We have Jarvis for that. And I doubt he did it for our benefit." Stark bit back, Sesshomaru noted he didn't appreciate Jaken.

"Nifty backflip there Pretty Boy." Romanoff walked over to Rin, helping her with her form on the large bone. Odd woman human, but she is adept at fighting, Rin would do well to take notes from her.

"Hey, so instead of beer, Thor decided to grab a bunch of liquor. I managed to convince him to get some chaser at least." the Berserker shrugged, holding gin, scotch, and tequila, while Thor held bourbon, run, vodka and the shot glasses. Sesshomaru caught the sharp snapping smell of human spirits.

Sesshomaru nearly, nearly, flashed his fangs in his victory. It was all too easy to lure these humans to imbibe, especially with Thor to goad them on. He allowed the Berserker a steak from his game, but insured he sat between him and Rin.

"Hey, this is actually pretty good, what spices are these...oh man, you know what I'm probably better off not knowing if they're like Demon spices. Forget I asked." The Berserker back peddled and Barton next to him pat him on the back.

"Ignorance is bliss my friend, maybe you should aim for less knowledge." Barton jabbed, Bruce soured at the joke.

"Thanks, Clint. noted." Bruce gave a thumbs up.

Sesshomaru watched as the humans settled around him, drinking, smiling, laughing and making merry. He sent Rin to bed, along with Jaken, both of them exhausted. He partook in the drink called gin, but due to the natural detoxing abilities of his blood, could not get drunk.

"Gin?! Really?! Ugh you would it's such like an aristocratic villain drink. You'd probably also drive a Jaguar, with that British commercial and everything." Stark's words were a bit slurred. Sesshoumaru darted his gaze his way, Stark amused him somewhat, he seemed perhaps to be the most intelligent, if not most confusing of the humans he had met thus far. He was the only human he saw so far capable of flight, which had to mean something.

"Aye, Son of Taisho is indeed an aristocrat! His lands are located in what the mortals refer now as Japan." Thor explained, which suited him because Sesshomaru loathed explaining himself to others, especially any humans.

'Japan, I will have to remember that name. I am curious to learn of what has become of my lands in this time, and how to prevent this metropolis from happening to them when I return to my time. Perhaps that incarnation Jarvis may know of where to find the information I seek.' Sesshomaru's mind cycled through thought after thought. He also had to find out what Stark meant by 'manual' when he showed him his tower upon arriving. He had a feeling these manuals would be imperative to study the new realm he found himself in currently.

"The kimono and Japanese girl from Japan? Really now?" Barton smirked.

"Son of Taisho! Regale us with a story! I have heard many from my fellow Avengers but not many from you! One of you and Loki would be most delighful!" Thor smiled genuinely and Sesshomaru was caught off guard. Thor knew, Sesshomaru was most certain, that he was not a bard, and did not spin stories. He would sit and listen to Thor's and Loki's, they were much more talented than he and liked it better.

'Loki did abduct me and bring me to this terrible place. Perhaps I can retaliate some with some unflattering knowledge about his person. It may even provoke him to come more swiftly.' Sesshomaru paused, and his eyes lit up devilishly, but his face remained stoic.

"Once while treasure questing, Loki was turned into a purple stag by a Vanir." Sesshomaru's even, placid voice carried over the crackling fire and his ears lifted slightly.

That got laughs around the fire. Sesshomaru stayed silent, not sure what to do next, was he supposed to continue? Sesshomaru was not one for occasions such as these.

"The Vanir's objective was to coerce me to into obtaining the treasure for him so I would barter with him to return Loki." Sesshomaru noticed Thor's eyes never left him, he never received such attention from the Storm God in the past. It confused Sesshomaru. Thor usually regarded him minimally, unless in combat or pressed by Loki. Perhaps some form of nostalgia? It had been over five hundred years for the Storm God, but only about fifty-three for him.

"But Loki is a shape-shifter, couldn't he just turn back?" Bedclothes asked, enraptured in the story.

"A sorcerer cannot change out of something he did not change into." Thor explained, a warm, nostalgic smile on his face.

"You know, that so explains the horns. Stags have antlers, he just is throwing back to a previous look is all. Vintage Bambi works!" Stark prompted, dark eyes lit warmly by the tequila he drank and the fire he sat next to. Sesshomaru could tell because Stark sat next to him.

"So, I assume you bartered right?" The Berserker prompted, his words also slurring slightly from the bourbon. He showed no signs of agitation which proved well.

"This Sesshomaru does no dirty work. I informed some fae of the treasure and of its intended plunderer. They sought out the Vanir, who persuaded him to return Loki." Sesshomaru explained, voice cool and crisp.

"I'm gonna go ahead and guess that their methods of persuasion weren't asking nicely." Romanoff laughed, cheeks flushed from vodka

Sesshomaru merely opened his mouth to show his lengthened fangs and took another sip of gin, he noticed all the eyes were still curiously on him.

"Well, deer hunter, did you and your deer get the treasure?" Barton all the sudden spoke up loudly.

"We emerged victorious. I neglected to inform the fae them of the treasure's exact location. While the fae searched nearby, we collected the treasure and continued on." Sesshomaru's eyes glowed. It would be one of this favorite stories to tell, if he told stories ever again. Something told Sesshomaru if he continued to be in the presence of these humans, they would attempt another bout out of him.

"It is good to hear of stories of such humorous stories about my brother from another time Son of Taisho. You and he seemed to always have such peculiar adventures. They differed greatly than the ones we did together." Thor, despite the alcohol, sounded melancholy noted Sesshomaru.

'Something odd has certainly transpired between the brothers and caused a great rift. Perhaps there is good reason yet Loki has summoned me to this realm.' The fireside fell silent for a moment then Stark yapped about something else, but Sesshomaru remained deep in thought.

The humans and Storm God hours later, inebriated and happy, all filtered down to their respected rooms. He scouted the tower, finding a suitable quarters and with Rin and Jaken safely tucked away in the quarters in his pelt, he waited for Loki to spring his Youki trap.

And at 3:49 am. He did.

Chapter Text

Tony and the Special Guest

*(*

"Sir. Proximity alert. Code Horns." Tony's head felt like a cement mixer.

"Wuh?" Tony flopped onto his stomach and looked at the time on the alarm clock Pepper bought him, but never actually set: 3:55 am. Tony grunted, not amused.

"Jarvis why... what is going on?" Tony groggily questioned, rubbing his whole face with his hand, the tequila still hampering his movements. While fun, he should have left tequila shots in college. He should have left a lot in college, like most drinking games, but it didn't stop him from time to time.

"You informed me to let you know if Loki, God of Mischief, ever appeared. He has been on the roof with Lord Sesshomaru now for approximately 5 minutes and 42 seconds. I was shielded from his magic due to unknown interference from Lord Sesshomaru's own energy." Jarvis informed and Tony nodded. That made sense, Coachella did need to talk to him after all.

'I gotta ask him about that purple deer story, his damn head will spin off his neck. Heh. Reindeer, so perfect!' Tony curled back up to go back to a sleep he sorely needed.

Wait. What.

Tony barrel rolled out of bed, banging his knee against the floor, cursing loudly. Loki is here. On his balcony. He had to get his suit, he had to tell someone. Not Pepper, she'd probably kill him or blame him. He didn't even tell her about Sailor Moon yet.

"Jarvis, bring up full audio and visuals for the roof. Does anyone else know he is here?!" Tony leapt up, tugging on red sweatpants. 'This is insane. I need to find Bruce so he can fling Loki around again.' Tony began to hop, trying to get his leg through one of the legs of his sweatpants.

"Just me." Answered Natasha from the shadows. Tony fell down, knocking over the alarm clock with a plastic crash.

"Is everyone trying to give me a heart attack?!" Tony jumped out of skin and Natasha smirked as Jarvis brought up the video and audio feed of the roof. Who watches people sleep like that? She is more terrifying than the Demon Lord.

"It wouldn't be that hard. When was the last time you seriously did cardio?" Nat approached the bed and Tony refused to acknowledge that question.

"You look still sober! How did you know this would happen?" Tony thought his speech was still slurring, and he was probably right. Stupid fucking tequila, Tony swore he would get Thor back for this. See if Point Break ever eats another pop tart in this tower.

"It was a ploy I would use. This Pretty Boy certainly knows how get what he wants." She pointed at the screen at a high definition figure who was most assuredly was Loki, opposite him stood Sesshomaru. Tony's jaw dropped. They were in such shit.

"How. How did this happen?" Tony, flabbergasted yelled and Natasha slapped a hand over his mouth. What is she doing?! We need to call ghostbusters or something. Dog the Bounty hunter?

"Let's watch." Natasha advised, voice clear and eyes lit a bit roguish.

'Fine Tasha. Have it your way, but if Loki goes Helter Skelter with the Samurai Demon Lord, I am so throwing you under the bus' Tony thought, but didn't dare voice because he was certain she could probably strangle him with her hair.

"I knew what your brother spoke was folly. Assuredly, no cell could keep you." Sesshomaru's cool voice sounded almost sinister over Jarvis' speakers. He didn't look particularly happy to see his old LARPing buddy.

"Quite true being that I am a sorcerer. However, Thor is no brother of mine. Much has changed since we last saw each other five hundred and fifty years ago." Loki looked pale, and out of breath and with that comment Sesshomaru was upon him, clawed hand over throat, forcing him to the concrete roof of the helipad with a hollow thud. Yikes. This is how he treated his friends?

"Enough senseless ego stroking Loki! Explain yourself!" Sesshomaru seethed, toxin dripping. His blue youki pulsed out like ripples.

'Damn, if he kills Loki, do I still have to call Fury? Better yet, how could I make money off of a Pay Per View fight, Storm God vs Sailor Moon?' Tony winced at the scene, almost feeling bad for Loki. Almost.

"I got $100 on Hermione." Natasha slapped two fifties on the bed. Did she seriously just read his mind? She is too scary.

"Deal." Tony responded, already sort of regretting the bet. Should have bet on Sailor Moon, she fights evil by moonlight after all. Best nickname ever, rivals Point Break.

"I tricked Odin." Wheezed Loki. "I reminded him about our gift to your father." Loki finally managed to teleport to the other side of the helipad, hand at his smoking throat. Damn, he looks like got dragged behind a pickup truck before he got here.

"Gift?" Sesshomaru's voice and retained an even, cold pallor as his whip flashed.

"The hilt of your katana. The azure one." Loki looked like he could have rolled his eyes as he healed his neck. "My father and I crafted and enchanted the hilt for your father as a gift for you. I did most of the work, but back then my sealing spells were insufficient and I needed Odin's aid to perfect it." Loki explained, pointed, hand trembling like he had just ran a three-minute mile.

They circled like lions around the extinguished fire and empty liquor bottles.

"Tenseiga...He is fashioned from your hand?!" Sesshomaru's eyes looked down at the sword as if it betrayed him and fortified him in the same breath. Sesshomaru's blue youki throttled up in strength. Oh, so Loki helped him make his sword?

"Now you're finally catching on. Your father, I can gather, fell before properly explaining the reasoning behind giving you that weapon. It was blessed by the divine, intended to protect its wielder and guide him." Loki increased his forest green magic output to defend against the ice blue youki.

'Yeah, guide him into almost turning me into a pegleg and setting my roof on fire.' Tony rubbed his eyes.

"He fell before properly doing a great many things." Sesshomaru murmured.

"Oh, point to Loki for bringing up daddy issues?" Tony commented with a snarky tone.

"Only if the earlier throat slam puts us even." Natasha negotiated.

"...should we be telling anyone about this?" Tony asked hesitantly. This was the point of no return, so far they were talking about Valentines day gifts. The time to strike was now.

"Not at the moment. What would we do anyway other than just spook Loki? I want to see how things play out, something tells me there is something big going on here." Natasha sighed through her nose, her blue eyes searching the screen.

"Oh what tangled webs we weave dear friend. Your father crafted the tang and the blade of the katana, and rumors clamored around Asgard as to what your father managed to create with the divinely blessed hilt. The most outrageous rumor being that the enchanted blade could resurrect the dead. What madness to craft a weapon that humans would squabble over indefinitely! They'd stop at nothing to possess it!" Loki chuckled to himself. And Natasha noticed a corner of Sesshomaru's mouth slice into a thin smirk.

"Oh yeah, because that makes sense, a sword that can bring people back to life in the hands of a murderous Demon Lord, couldn't write irony better." Tony looked around for ibuprofen.

"I, over the course of months, then convinced Odin that we need to retrieve the katana so I could revive the souls of those who had been slain when I attacked this realm." Loki and Sesshomaru still circled warily.

"But you do not covet my birthright. Do you Mischief God?" Sesshomaru chose his words slowly and carefully.

"Of course not. I know those rumors to be but tall tales of people who know not of true weapons crafting. You asked how you came to be in this realm and I answered you: by way of Odin'smagic and the Bifrost, which is currently inoperable due to its strain to bring you to this time." Loki tried to look as bored as Sesshomaru, but he looked too eager to speak.

"So that's why Thor couldn't contact Heimdall." Natasha mused.

"Your distant realm magic has always been unreliable." Sesshomaru looked every bit like a baiting predator.

A bolt of magic and a crack of a whip later they seemed to have not moved an inch.

"Shots fired, literally. Did Loki ever move that fast when we fought him?" Tony asked and Natasha shook her head, focused intently on the screen.

"Jarvis prevent this from going to SHIELD." Tony ordered. This was getting strange.

"You wouldn't sound so arrogant if you knew that the only way to send you back to your proper time is with the Bifrost, and with my magic. Odin won't do it a second time knowing I tricked him." Loki spat and time froze.

In a sliver of a second Sesshomaru's whip was tangled around Loki's neck and with a graceful arc of his body he brought a weakened Loki to his knees. Sesshomaru's face betrayed no emotion.

"Point to Hermione." Natasha held up two fingers.

"It's creepy how he can look like he just snorted a bottle of Xanax after doing that to someone." Tony crossed his arms.

"It's impressive. His tells are locked down." Natasha admitted, lounging down on Tony's bed.

"You know his tells?!" Tony asked incredulously.

"Not yet, speculation mostly. He hasn't lied to us. He is hiding a lot for sure, but I haven't caught him in a single lie." Natasha scrunched her nose.

"I once knew to you to be someone whom embodied intellect and respected honor." Sesshomaru's tone was icy and silken as he pulled up on his acid green whip, Loki scrabbled on the cement, one hand on the whip, the other trying to grab purchase.

"What do you think he is hiding from us? Horns?" Tony slurred, still a bit drunk.

"He went easy on us in our skirmish. Think about it. His whip corrodes through metal, but he didn't attack Clint, Bruce, or I with it. And he went only for Steve's shield. Additionally, you saw how quickly he went to Rin's side when she had fainted, and a few hours ago when he laid his Loki trap. His speed is incredible, and he didn't use his full speed on any of us. He is probably also hiding his true relationship with Loki." Natasha surmised and Tony blinked a few times.

"Huh. Think they met on grindr?" Tony flopped on his back on his bed and both Natasha and Tony chuckled.

"Do you think I would not have sought your aid if I were not truly desperate?" Loki choked out, making a crude gargling noise and Sesshomaru let up on his whip.

"Desperate? Thor and his naive friends believe you a captive of Asgard's justice yet you retain the ability flit freely from realm to realm even with no magic gate." Sesshomaru approached his friend and looked down on him, scraping together healing magic for his wounds at a delayed rate.

Sesshomaru, boldly, squatted down next to the collapsed God.

"I was correct, you are enfeebled and injured. Asgardian justice must not treat its prisoners with due decorum." Sesshomaru noted, his silver hair blew in the wind, covering his face and brushing Loki's gaunt one.

"Oh Shawarma, things just got complicated." Tony groaned, coming to a chest hitching realization. Natasha eyed him.

"Do you get it? Loki has been rotting in Asgard's prison for almost three years right? Thor would be all over it if Loki escaped. He just proved Loki could escape at any time. Sailor Moon never had the ability to control Loki, he just used their history to convince him to come to him, or Loki meant to find him on Earth once Odin brought him here." Tony sat up straight and Natasha followed suit.

"If he was being treated to enhanced interrogation techniques, it meant it meant he bent to them willingly." Natasha's eyes darted and she pursed her full lips.

"Why would he? And why would he come back to the scene of the crime?" Tony gazed, transfixed at the screen.

"It was nothing I didn't deserve." Jarvis had a hard time picking up Loki's whisper as he sat up for his emerald eyes to meet Sesshomaru's golden ones. Tony swore he saw a softness in the Demon Lord, he would go back and re-watch this scene later.

"…self-deprecation is unlike you Loki. You will tell this Sesshomaru what caused these series of events." Sesshomaru's voice sounded less harsh, more like velvet. Loki collected himself some, and Sesshomaru placed a hand under his upper arm, as if to help him up.

"I fell from grace old friend. There is much to explain. In the end, I was commanded to conduct an invasion on Midgard from a most…convincing Lord." Loki rasped out, the green healing magic began to finish, and it dissipated into the air.

"You confess you seek sovereignty of this realm when you and your kin professed to my father and I, that you would never do so?" Sesshomaru stood up offended, leaving Loki on the cement surface of the helipad.

"Never. I never desired to rule Midgard. I mean to confess that I was not strong enough at the time to do what needed to done and destroy the ones that used me." Loki stood up, and Tony realized then just how thin and pale he looked while retaining the clarity in his green eyes.

"Hmmm." Natasha furrowed her eyebrows.

"What?" Tony looked over to her.

"He is the God of lies, I know, but I've read him before, and that didn't look like a lie." Natasha examined.

"Used you?" Sesshomaru asked automatically.

"It matters not. What matters is that I have knowledge that the ones who commanded me to invade Midgard did not give up. The rest of their fleet were three years out from Midgard when I made my appearance. They mean to obliterate all life on this planet, and then move on to Asgard." Loki clutched his fists and his obsidian magic flared pushing Sesshomaru back.

"No one. No one would believe the God of lies, of trickery and mischief. I do not blame them, though I am disappointed they think that invasion attempt my best effort." Loki continued, laughing bitterly.

"Nat. Nat. I need your polygraph like now. If what Loki is saying is true, then we are three months out, tops." Tony shoved her shoulder but she didn't move.

"I made the only play I could. I called upon the only person who would believe me, and would have the strategic mind to prevent annihilation of both our homes. I called upon an old friend." Loki gestured to Sesshomaru whose eyes widened a bit.

Pause.

"I have lost all credibility, even my own mother looks upon me with distrust." Loki looked down, his dark hair hiding the sides of his face. Tony then noticed he was wearing a simple green linen shirt and black pants. No armor.

'He really isn't here to start a party. He would have at least put on his party helmet.' Tony felt a headache form and knew he had ibuprofen in his room somewhere.

"Tony. I can't make this kind of call on my own. I don't envy Pretty Boy out there though. He doesn't even have all of the facts. He doesn't even know anything about the Tesseract, mind control or how mental Loki was." Natasha felt her pulse race.

"Loki you request much of this Sesshomaru." Sesshomaru's voice sounded thinner than usual and he shifted on the helipad.

"Yeah, no kidding he is requesting a lot from you. You chose the wrong brother to be bros with. All Point Break requests is alcohol and stories." Tony finally found ibuprofen in his bedside table, probably Pepper again. He took four.

Natasha pointed to Tony as to say 'truth'.

"I can reward you amply. After the Bifrost recharges I can send you back to your time. I can give you access to travel the nine realms; I know when we were close you spoke endlessly of your affinity for travel." Loki backpeddled, gesturing wildly, practically begging.

"Though alluring, that was not this Sesshomaru implied." Sesshomaru took a step closer, and arm's length away, but did not stand threateningly. Sesshomaru turned away from Loki, looking off camera.

"They will believe me biased. They also think me slow of mind being from my time. Before this revolution of industry." Jarvis had a hard time picking up Sesshomaru's explanation.

"Not true!" Tony almost yelled at the screen and Natasha tilted her head to the side.

"About the slow of mind thing." Tony scratched the back of his neck.

"You like to remind him of it." Nat chided.

"Even if I can devise a strategy to prevent this armada from scorching this realm asunder, it will fall on deaf ears. This Sesshomaru will not waste his time." Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles and toxin dripped to the concrete, sizzling craters in it, he turned back towards Loki, his expression still unreadable.

"They will harken to you. You can prove that I meant for my invasion to fail. That will catalyze the Avengers; they will have to take this threat seriously." Loki put his palms out like he was a set of scales. Tony's eyes shot up.

"He wants his best friend to convince his enemy he lost to them on purpose? He really is insane, and Sailor Moon needs better friends." Tony mumbled, Nat's eyes widened and she jutted her head back in an 'hopefully not us' reaction.

"And if that is not enough?" Sesshomaru retracted his claws.

"Then I have a backup plan. But I think you are missing the bigger picture, have faith in your abilities, and the opportunity it presents." Loki's smiled turned into a cold sickle.

"Opportunity? There seems to be little in recompense for this Sesshomaru." Sesshomaru's typically neutral tone turned a bit haughty.

'Ah, finally catching on to the fact Loki is being a bit more demanding than the board of directors of Stark Enterprises.' Tony thought.

"The commander of this fleet is renowned throughout galaxies for being one of the strongest beings. He is known by the moniker the Mad Titan and few would dare stand up to him. His right hand, The Other, is a tremendously strong sorcerer as well, though I would prefer to put his head on a pike myself." Loki tapped the tips of all his fingers together a few times.

"This Sesshomaru enjoys a challenge." Sesshomaru looked to the heavens.

"Ah. That's his deal. He gets his rocks off dueling people." Tony fist pumped in victory.

"Oh yes, I do remember a certain Dark Elf and his friends challenged you once. He threw you in a lake." Loki relaxed minutely. And Sesshomaru squared his shoulders. "I am surprised no one has come to greet us yet, this bodes well." Loki looked around.

"...this Sesshomaru may have set certain events in motion to compel the Storm God and his friends to imbibe unduly much of their human spirits." Sesshomaru blinked innocently and Loki laughed a rich, open laugh.

"…That scheming Demon Lord…Did Loki just laugh like people?!" Tony leaned back. Natasha shrugged in a 'I guess so.' motion.

"By the nine Sesshomaru, you threw a party?! Figures Thor would forget you can't become inebriated." Loki raked a thin hand through his lank hair to straighten it.

"Furthermore, I do think none of his consort believed me when I said you would arrive." Sesshomaru's voice hinted a smirk his face did no show.

"How foolhardy, however, in this realm and especially on this tower we were most certainly being recorded. In fact, I am sure Stark's AI awoke him. It is a testament to his discretion he didn't don his suit and interrupt us." Loki put a hand on his hip.

"You were totally going to do that." Natasha attacked.

"Was not. Ok. Maybe a little." Tony confessed.

"I thought this conversation private. At least they witnessed my victory. Most likely the sly huntress or the strange Berserker stopped him." Sesshomaru guessed and began to walk off the helipad.

"You met the Berserker? He is not fond of me." Loki scrunched his straight nose.

"He is curious of me when I disciplined him. Come, you need rest, and I need quiet, I scouted a suitable room in the cellar of this tower." Sesshomaru waved Loki onward and they went off screen.

"Jarvis what room is Coachella talking about?" Tony asked.

"I believe Lord Sesshomaru is speaking of substorage room 3-b in the basement. He was there earlier, Lady Rin, and Retainer Jaken are currently asleep there." Tony threw up his arms.

"I have all these nice rooms and he goes for substorage room 3-b." Tony muttered, then thought of an idea.

"Why hoping he'd bunk with you?" Natasha elbowed him and Tony rolled his eyes.

"Victory...Hey Jarvis you said they were on the roof for like five minutes before you woke me up, bring up that footage." Tony put a hand to his mouth and Jarvis brought up the footage for them both.

Sesshomaru stood and in a puff of dark green smoke Loki appeared, staggering to stand equally as tall.

And then it began. Loki drew his uru daggers and Sesshomaru his whip. They charged each other, green magic crackling against blue youki, negating them both into teal glimmers.

Sesshomaru took to the air and twisted down, his whip flaring out like a spiral. Loki turned to dodge and sniped at him with a quick green bolt of magic when he landed. Sesshomaru darted to the left so swiftly he left an afterimage, closing the gap and striking Loki with talons extended. Loki parried expertly with his left dagger, and counterattacked with the right, dagger extended like a saber for longer range. Sesshomaru evaded, neatly spinning his back towards Loki only to complete the spin with another strike of his right claws.

Loki blocked with a force feld and Sesshomaru responded in kind with his own youki, dissolving them both into teal dust. Loki responded by switching the grip on his daggers from a saber style, to a reverse one for short range, aiming to take advantage of Sesshomaru's stance beside him by bringing his blade down with tremendous force. Sesshomaru, seeing this, slipped back increasing their distance, gathering his whip and lashed out for Loki's chest.

Simultaneously as the whip shot through the hair, Loki swept his dagger out, slicing down the whip strike and jumping as the neon green whip shot back up, cracking in the air, missing Loki by a hairsbreath.

In the same instant they jumped back and circled again.

Loki this time teleported and Sesshomaru dropped as Loki appeared next to him, dagger slicing air where his head just occupied. Sesshomaru, in a crouch, struck out his talons to Loki's unprotected midsection and Loki just managed to parry the strike with his other dagger. Loki switched his grip again on the daggers playfully back to saber style and Sesshomaru waved his youki back at him, taunting him.

Flash crack!

A bolt of magic slapped out of existence by a last minute whip flick.

Their fight demonstrated graceful, precise flicks of glinting metal or loping, swooping loops of verdant green. Their movements were so swift at most points Tony had to ask Jarvis to slow down the frame rate. Sesshomaru seemed to predict where Loki would teleport to next and Loki appeared to have memorized every inch of the acid whips' trajectory. Loki every so often would shoot magic flares which were met with a wall of youki. Sesshomaru would try to come down with his claws only to be parried by a shining dagger.

Their movements complimented each other, almost like it was choreographed. It was haunting. Natasha and Tony commented on their form during the five minutes.

The fight ended when Loki fatigued prematurely, out of breath and energy, and Sesshomaru slid behind him to place a claw at his neck.

"Point." Sesshomaru looked like he was fighting boredom as he looked down at Loki with gold eyes cold.

"I concede victory. Welcome back Sesshomaru." Loki gasped, taking in heaps of air then Sesshomaru moved in front of him. The footage stopped.

Pause.

"What. Since when does Loki know how to fight like that? I doubt he learned that in Asgardian Prison Bible Study! And like, this is him injured?" Tony put his head in hands and Natasha remained silent, fist over her mouth.

"You don't learn to spar with a partner like that instantaneously. They could read each other, they had rhythm, they've done this countless times. Loki has been able to fight like that, or most likely better for...well over five hundred years." Natasha admitted, voice distant.

"I just can't believe any of this. We have to figure this out." Tony groaned, baffled and exhausted.

'This doesn't make any sense. Up until this point we knew who the bad guys were. We have a damn list! Leave it to the God of Mischief and his bored Demon friend to upend that. What were we supposed to do now? Clint's going to burst a vein. Thor will probably try to take him back to Asgard, which worked so well the first time. I better give Bruce a Valium or something. Steve will probably get on his high horse and demand a trial. Oh, and it's not like Fury, Hill and Agent aren't coming by tomorrow to meet a Demon Lord who is currently hiding SHIELD's most wanted in substorage room 3-b. This is what I get for developing a magic signature locator for Loki's energy. I was having such a good month too. Crap, I better call Pepper.' Tony put his fingers to his forehead.

"Get some sleep Tony we have a hell of a day tomorrow. Oh and you owe me that $100." Natasha picked up her two fifty dollars bills and sauntered out of the room.

"…I should have just called Ghostbusters, or Agent." Tony fell backwards on the bed, reaching for his phone to call Pepper while commanding Jarvis to sequester that and any other footage of Loki.

They had an invasion to prevent, and a planet to convince. He just hoped Pepper didn't quit.

Chapter Text

Loki and the Pop Tarts

*(*

Morning came too soon for a groggy Loki.

At the time, Loki had not understood why Sesshomaru had chosen a storage room of all places for solace, it was like going from one cell to another! Yet, when he observed him, he noticed his ears were slightly red and twitching.

This city must be abhorrent on his dog Demon senses; no doubt Thor did not think of it.

As it always did, Sesshomaru's face betrayed little of his emotions or intentions. He learned over their somewhat clandestine friendship to read his body more than his face. His ears twitching, his knuckles cracking, his talons lengthening, posture and so on.

Loki didn't have to know Sesshomaru's tells because he never really lied. Lies by omission sure, but never outright falsehoods. He would know, being the God of lies of course.

Surely it was a remarkable thing that the God of tricks, mischief and lies fell into such a neat friendship with a mostly serious, studious and murderous Demon Lord.

He never, even with the power of the Odinforce, thought he could successfully bring Sesshomaru to this time. The only reason he could calculate was that the enchanted sword Tenseiga somehow aided him as a lay line. He sensed its magic, his own magic rather, from Midgard the moment he arrived in that awful wasteland of New Mexico. Loki had to assume that the reason Sesshomaru ended up in New Mexico was because it was a strong point of reference for the Bifrost being that the Warriors Three landed there recently.

Loki knew he threatened Sesshomaru's livelihood in bringing him to his realm, he could have been killed, but he had underestimated Sesshomaru before and was left wanting. So he undertook the deception of Odin to bring him here. Loki had wished Asgard, or at least his mother heeded his words of the eminent invasion, but it was all for naught. He knew the only way to save the realms was to bring Sesshomaru here, the only person who would hear him out impartially.

Loki knew also the Avengers would most likely investigate the site of the Bifrost, what he didn't predict was Tenseiga pinging with his magic. Loki feared Sesshomaru may have taken out at least a few of the 'Lost Creatures' before having to contend with Thor and the Berserker. Loki shuddered at what the Hulk did to him still, but knew Sesshomaru would have escaped a similar fate.

Good fortune always seemed to shine down on Sesshomaru. That and Sesshomaru, a bit more cautious than Loki gave him credit for, did not slay any of the Avengers, not even that brazen Stark. He didn't expect them all to be unscathed from their battle either.

He also never expected that Sesshomaru would have roasted a doe and had gotten the all Avengers impaired on the top of Stark Tower but there was something to be said for the mysterious Demon Lord.

And humans loved a good mystery.

Loki could feel his internal injuries heal and his magic began to build back up. Even though he slept, he could feel the Demon Lord had stood vigilant the entire time knowing he was too pained and weak to put up much of a resistance to the group of Avengers, had they been rallied and come down to ambush them.

Loki would have handed himself over willingly if he thought Sesshomaru would be taken captive by SHIELD. Loki, quite certainly knew that there was not much that SHIELD could do to him that Asgard and the Other had not already done.

He would never breathe a word of the abysmal treatment Asgard gave him, and that the only reason for him being this healed was that Odin truly believed in the lore of Sesshomaru's Tenseiga.

'What a fool to believe in such a maiden's tale about the sword. And while Odin once held a certain favor for Sesshomaru, he is no doubt displeased at the turn of events.' Loki stretched on the concrete floor, working his abused muscles around, flexing blood into them.

So when a few of his ribs, right clavicle, right tibia, and a few vertebrae were broken again in retaliation among other things in his lower body, Loki knew it was time to make an exit, stage right, waiting till far early in the human morning to make his appearance at Stark Tower.

Even with his glamour camouflaging his bruises and lacerations, Loki knew Sesshomaru knew he received poor treatment. Loki could rarely fool Sesshomaru, and mostly refrained from attempting it.

'Speak of the Demon, and he appears!' Sesshomaru returned to their quarters, shadowed by the girl who Loki found sleeping down in the quarters, and a water Demon. He had never met either before. Sesshomaru made odd friends in the fifty-three years he had not seen him.

"I have brought you... a human delicacy named…Pop-Tarts. They're highly esteemed for their...sugar." Sesshomaru held the box up to his face, twisting trying to read the unfamiliar language. Loki knew that his youki, while translating and articulating foreign languages well verbally, did not work well in reading nor writing. Sesshomaru tossed the box to Loki and a bottle of water. Loki caught both, sitting up from the concrete floor, leaning back against a crate. He felt his joints pop and crack as the small girl approached him.

"Hello Uncle Loki! I'm Rin pleased to meet you! Lord Sesshomaru told me you are his friend and he is helping your irksome presence out of trouble!" Loki managed a faint, but real smile. When was the last time someone called him a friend?

"Gods! Nothing but trouble! He will be the death of us all!" Jaken grumbled, and was silenced when Sesshomaru smacked him down, knocking him out.

"Pleased to meet you Lady Rin, I take it you have been keeping Lord Sesshomaru out of trouble as well?" Loki opened the box and picked out a foil packet. Rin giggled and nodded. Sesshomaru clenched a fist in response, glaring down at Loki who only shrugged and smiled in response.

Loki brightened when Rin sat down beside him. He magicked her some runes on the floor, she gasped and clapped when they swirled and melded on the floor like a kaleidoscope.

"A Director Fury arrives today. Only Stark and Romanoff of the Avengers know of your presence." Sesshomaru leapt onto a crate and squatted down, peering down at Loki with unreadable eyes.

'I loathe when he just stares like that. And great, Fury, of all the days.' Loki grumbled and opened the packet. It smelled almost entirely too sweet.

"You won't tolerate Fury. I know him, he will provoke you, it may be...unsavory. You best tell Thor you refuse to meet him." Loki leveled an emerald eyes gaze at him. And to Loki's mild surprise Sesshomaru nodded gently.

"Romanoff and Stark advised me similarly, but this Fury's objective is me. I won't be conversing with him. I have had my fill of insufferable humans." Sesshomaru's tone flickered with a small amount scorn, while clawing the crate below him as a cat would.

"How in the nines are you going to get away without speaking to..." Loki trailed off. "You want me to be you." Loki laughed darkly as Sesshomaru's gaze brightened in acknowledgement.

This could be fun.

"A wise tactic. You are familiar with him. I will lend you Tenseiga and Bakusaiga." Sesshomaru said causally, gesturing to his swords, one with which he was quite familiar, the other he had no inkling of its origin. It was not a sword Inu no Taisho carried on his person. He would have recognized Tessaiga or that horrid Sounga.

"You'd entrust me your swords? I didn't know our friendship ran that deep." Loki questioned, in genuine disbelief and Sesshomaru melted part of the crate to reveal parts of its contents. That question obviously irked the dog Demon. Loki tilted his head to the side in confusion, he hadn't meant any offense by the comment.

Ah, Sesshomaru is taking this seriously. I took his assessment of the situation too lightly.

"Tenseiga, he is curious of you. Bakusaiga's hilt is not to be touched in any capacity. You cannot wield her; She is not to be toyed with." Sesshomaru warned stonily and Loki took it to heart. He did not know Sesshomaru when this new sword came into being. He has not seen him since his half-blooded brother got pinned to a tree by a priestess of some skill. Since they had that stupid argument, Loki inwardly winced at the words he last said to him.

'Sesshomaru was disappointed when I informed him my magic had no effect on the arrow. And then I had to go and project my troubles onto him. I do not blame him for his reaction.' Loki recalled.

"Understood my friend, I truly meant no offense. Where will you be located when Fury arrives?" Loki asked back, not meaning to sound nervous, but his pulse picked up in tempo regardless. Sesshomaru picked up on it instantly, as Loki knew he would.

"Rin wishes to go to the woods in the middle of the metropolis and try this new creation called ice cream. Jaken and I will escort her there. Stark and Romanoff think it good for her to face her fears. My proximity barrier will alert us of extreme discord." Sesshomaru looked to Jaken, as if willing him to challenge his decision, who just came to from being knocked out.

"It is a fascinating change to see such selflessness in you Sesshomaru, but surely you will not be going in public wearing those gaudy garments." Loki snickered, some things about the Demon Lord had changed but his fashion sense had not. He would stand out like an Aesir in Muspelheim.

"Such brazen words spoken from one who dons a bronze helm with horns. A human might question which of us is the Demon Lord." Sesshomaru tilted his chin upwards, a slight lilt of humor.

"I looked quite dashing in those horns. Who told you about those?" Loki jested and then his head cleared. He hadn't thought that the Avengers would speak so freely of him. Sesshomaru's ears wiggled.

"Pepper Potts. She is aware of your presence here in the fortress. She is...a fiery human. I overheard Thor tell her that I went ten to his eleven wins in our old tournaments. She seemed impressed." Sesshomaru scratched his claws into the crate again and Loki rolled his eyes. He never watched their unruly tournaments.

"Fishing for compliments I see." Loki drawled. Sesshomaru melted the crate more.

"She has provided me suitable garments. She adores Rin muchly; she is ambivalent about Jaken; she reviles you." Sesshomaru supplied thoughtfully, revealing a fang.

"I would think so. I am shocked she has not stormed down here to lecture, shoot me, or worse." Loki's emerald gaze darkened, but held some light. Maybe there was some hope that she didn't. Or maybe she was setting far worse a trap. Maybe something involving the Iron Man suit or the Hulk.

Loki took a large bite of his pop-tart. A bit sweet but good regardless. Really good. He couldn't remember the last time he ate, much less anything sweet

"...She reported you tossed Stark from his own window." Sesshomaru's eyes brightened and his ears lifted up.

"Ah yes, that was a delightful exchange. He had a suit which has flight capabilities. He survived." Loki defended unnecessarily. He knew Sesshomaru thought the same. Loki took another bite of his pop-tart as he noticed Sesshomaru shift awkwardly to the side, face revealing nothing. He continued to scratch the crate.

"Loki…I am unaccustomed to such attention from humans. What do these ten numbers mean? Stark sputtered in revulsion when Lady Potts smiled and gave them to me." Sesshomaru tossed the paper down, feeling particularly conversational. Loki, surprised at the amount of words coming from Sesshomaru, picked up the note from the floor.

'Sesshomaru, did you perhaps miss our friendship?' Loki's eyes widened at the note, and the red ink in which it was written.

"You mongrel." Loki shook his head and Sesshomaru cocked his head slightly like a dog would. "These numbers are a code you enter to a communication device. You input those numbers and you can speak to her if she so desires wherever she is in this realm." Loki, with a bit of magic tossed the paper back and Sesshomaru caught it carefully and put it in his yukata. Sesshomaru managed an upward twitch of his lips.

"I accept her code. It makes Stark irate." Sesshomaru waited for the information to sink into his friend.

Pause.

"Wait. This implies that the Spider and Stark and Potts...they are..." For a few times in his life words failed Loki. Elation filled his chest for the first time in ages. He nearly stood and danced in happiness but that would surely cause Sesshomaru to scoff. Instead, he took another bite of the pop tart.

"They are under the impression that we understated our fighting capabilities which renders them intrigued to entertain your claim." Sesshomaru explained, leaping off the crate in an inhuman grace as Loki inhaled the pastry.

"Ah. So it was the spar that sparked their interest. My ruse to get our fight recorded went well despite your sour attitude towards it." Loki began to eat the second pop tart with fervor. Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes downwards towards the seated god.

"My own ruse has been a success as well." Sesshomaru ghosted a smile. "I shall notify you when Fury is incoming and give you Tenseiga and Bakusaiga then." Sesshomaru turned to leave.

"Wait. What ruse?" Loki inquired with skepticism.

"Lord Sesshomaru gave you your brother's Pop Tarts! It seems you and Storm God have similar tastes Uncle Loki." Rin hopped up and down following Sesshomaru out the door.

"This means war, dog!" Loki shook his fist in mock anger at the long swishing silver hair that left, never pausing. He inhaled three more packets of pop-tarts.

About three hours passed from what Loki could tell, he had been dozing in and out before he sensed Sesshomaru's youki again and he appeared, looking non-plussed.

Sesshomaru stood in a scarlet t-shirt which may have been a hair tight, hinting at his toned chest. Over the t-shirt was a lightweight black leather bomber jacket and dark wash jeans, again perhaps a shade too tight around his derriere and slim hips. On his feet were alligator skin boots. His long silver hair remained down but perched on his bangs were a pair of aviator sunglasses.

Gone was the intimidating and imposing Demon Lord, standing before him was an attractive Midgardian, it made Loki chuckle darkly.

'In no way is Sesshomaru used to appearing this way, his quest into New York should prove of great amusement to me.' Loki felt his mouth stretch into a catlike smile. Loki never thought of his relationship with Sesshomaru as anything other than platonic. But he understood, where Sesshomaru did not, about his striking beauty.

'Sesshomaru has never come to terms with being described with compliments slanting towards the feminine aesthetic. His father was indeed handsome and rugged, and even his younger half-brother looked more masculine. However, he is no delicate flower, and the tight clothes revealed this. He is ever slender, ever more so than I, yet toned in his own right.' Loki enjoyed taking in the contrast between his normal look and this.

"Gawking is impolite Mischief God." And Loki swore he saw Sesshomaru's cheeks darken, but it was probably the lighting. He held the two swords outstretched in his clawed hand. A paper shopping bag in the other.

"You look ravishing my dear." Loki mocked and took the opportunity to shapeshift into Sesshomaru in his familiar garb before Sesshomaru could strike him with his whip. He took Tenseiga first and he felt the oddest sensation, like it said something to him. He quickly tied the sword to his Chinese inspired sash and then with great care took Bakusaiga by its sheath, not hilt, and tied it as well.

Tenseiga felt content. Bakusaiga felt absolutely disagreeable.

"Hmph. Bakusaiga has my youki within her. She will also trick Fury's scans and the Storm God if you keep your magic low. Do not do anything unwise." Sesshomaru answered pointed and he saw Jaken garbed a large AC/DC hooded sweatshirt, clearly Stark's, covering his head, and child sized sandals with socks. Rin looked adorable in an orange sundress and white sweater with her hair brushed and in her normal pony tail.

"I am aware of what is at stake, Lord of Demons." Loki responded in his best Sesshomaru impression, stoic face and all.

Sesshomaru blinked, eyes wide.

"Lord Sesshomaru, he looks and sounds just like you! You are very good Uncle Loki! Now I have two Lord Sesshomarus!" Rin held her hand out. "High five!" Loki hit her hand with his now clawed one and Rin giggled.

Sesshomaru's knuckles snapped and his shoulders tensed.

"Foolish girl! This God can never be on the same caliber as Lord Sesshomaru! Come so we can get you your terrible human food!" Jaken ordered, trying to walk with the staff of two heads, excess sweatshirt fabric hampering his movements.

"Your brother taught Rin the high five. Don't worry you'll do great Uncle Loki!" Rin beamed Loki tried his hardest not to smile, because Sesshomaru didn't smile, as Rin waved.

Sesshomaru spared one last appraising glance his way before flicking down his aviators and sauntering out the door with Jaken and Rin.

'Damn vain Demon Lord and his meddling, though I suppose turnabout is fair play.' Loki soured, looking down at his striped hands, trying hard not to toy with his now outrageously long, silken silver hair. He had never, in the history of their friendship, ever attempted to shapeshift into Sesshomaru before, it felt entirely too surreal.

He paced about for about a half hour, trying to get used to his new form, and then strolled up all the way up to the main penthouse floor and felt his heart race and his throat swell. He had shape shifted for centuries, but never before has he felt such anxiety. How did he think this would be fun?! This was madness! What was he supposed to do with this fur pelt?!

He felt like a sheep in wolves clothing. Dog's clothing? He cracked his knuckles knowing Sesshomaru would do the same. He entered the room, completely on edge, so much so that he didn't see the man laying down on the sofa.

Tenseiga hummed.

"Oh, of course, the guy who drives the party bus wakes up fresh as a daisy, while his victims feel like roadkill underneath it." Loki almost stiffened, he knew that scintillating voice. He knew that clean smell.

Clint. Barton. That's what Sesshomaru meant by unwise. His heart skipped a beat. Probably three beats. He looked exactly how he remembered him, all chiseled lines, strong muscles, soft hair and roving eyes.

"Indeed. I expect the others have a similar opinion." Loki surprised himself. That sounded somewhat like his best friend. He relaxed his jaw.

'Keep it together Loki' Loki cheered himself on.

"Well, Nat and Steve are fine, Steve can't reeeaaaally get drunk, and Nat's Russian, so well they are inhuman. Tony and Bruce look like they got hit with bricks. Thor is Thor. He's pissed someone ate his pop-tarts." Clint implied the theft at his direction and Loki fought the urge to roll his eyes.

"This Sesshomaru does not consume human food. Rin is acquainted with them." Loki managed to not sweat. So far so good. 'Breathe, you are the God of Lies, Breathe.' Loki exhaled deeply through his nose.

"I told Tho-"

"Son if Taisho! Did you consume my pastry of toasters?! I had Lady Pepper procure a box of them and they have vanished!" Thor lumbered into the room and Loki felt himself blanche.

'Why did I agree to this again? This must be payback for the Bifrost. Or maybe mentioning that dark elf throwing him in the lake on video.' Loki almost shook his head, here he was, face to face with his brother after all this time, and he talks of sweets. Loki fought the urge to flee, to teleport away and be done with the whole charade.

But Seshsomaru would claim that quite unwise.

"Storm god-" Loki, luckily, recalled Sesshomaru never called Thor by his name, cut off by Stark flouncing into the room, he noticed Stark gave him a quick, cold wink.

Yes. Definitely punishment.

"Toady and Little Miss Sunshine probably housed them Point Break. We will buy you some more. Let's all get ready to meet our friendly neighborhood pirate shall we?" Tony took a seat next to Pepper who looked all business.

"Hey, you're lookin' a little pale Sesshoumaru. Don't worry Fury won't do anything except sound off. Just don't...try to strangle him like you did Tony on the Quinjet." Steve appeared at his side. Loki let loose a thin smirk, not breaking character.

"I shall do my due diligence to leave him unharmed." Loki's practiced quicksilver tongue responded and Stark gave him a hidden thumbs up.

'By the nines this is the most backwards day.' Loki almost swallowed.

"That's all we can ask you for Pretty Boy." He heard the spider speak coyly behind him.

'For an ice cold Demon Lord they are oddly fond of him after only a day. Mayhap this will work.' Loki exhaled through his nose.

"Captain! Romanoff! Barton! Thor! Someone better explain to me why you found a magical signature belonging to Loki. On. Earth. And didn't bring him to SHIELD. Where is that damned God?! I'll drag him back to his cage myself." Fury's voice, incandescent with anger, hammered into from the hall. He stormed into the room, bringing a wave of rage with him.

He understood exactly why Sesshomaru wouldn't have lasted with Fury. He'd be a smear on a wall. Loki managed to remember to crack his knuckles and harden his gaze. He also lowered his ears.

"Man of Fury! It was a misunderstanding! My brother is still imprisoned on Asgard! This is my friend and guest Sesshomaru, Son of Taisho, Lord of Demons and the Western Lands! He has travelled through time on the Bifrost!" Thor puffed his muscular chest out wide and smiled, Loki could tell he was fighting the urge to pat 'Sesshomaru.' on the back.

"Are you certain? When was the last time you took attendance?" Fury asked Thor and he looked caught off guard.

"I could not consult Heimdall last night, the Bifrost may be damaged due to Son of Taisho's arrival. However, I can assure you my brother cannot escape Asgard's defenses." Thor sounded more confident than he looked.

"How convenient that your front door is broken. And a Demon Lord? Travelling through time? What is this Doctor Who?! How do we know he isn't Loki who shape shifted into this son of a bitch?!" Fury's eye rolled almost out of its socket.

'Oh Fury has no idea how accurate his curse is.' Loki fought the urge to grin.

"Man of Fury, please respect my guest! I will ask him a question only the Son of Taisho would know!" Thor responded gleefully crossing his arms.

Stark, Spider, and Potts stiffened. Loki nearly scoffed in indignation on cue, there was nothing Thor knew about Sesshomaru that he didn't.

"Well, we can play twenty questions, never ever have I ever, ride the bus, or we can just scan him for Loki's magic energy." Stark suggested instead and Fury raised a hand in protest.

"No. If Loki did indeed escape he may have found a way to compromise the tech. And what better way to infiltrate the Avengers than to pose as Thor's long lost girlfriend!? Are all you this blind?!" Fury banged his fist on the counter and his other hand itched for his gun. Agent Hill beside him stood like a statue, her hand never straying far from her holster.

"Sir, he is not a woman. It's insens-" Steve began to defend and was cut off.

"Insensitive Captain? We are not in some feelings seminar! This is a threat to global security!" Fury fired back, pointing to Sesshomaru. Loki noticed Banner started to pace.

Then Loki saw Agent Coulson eyeing him lethally. 'So he did survive. That's one soul not lost to the underworld.'

"What methods you seek to prove that I am not this...Trickster God...make haste. I grow tired of you insufferable humans." Loki tried his best 'disdainful Sesshomaru.' and determined he should try shape shifting into Thor if he pulled off this elaborate ruse.

"Agreed! Son of Taisho! As you know Loki never watched our melee tournaments, and cared not for them. Your question, what was our record for our tournaments?!" Thor pointed to Sesshomaru, nodding, proud of himself.

Pause.

The air in the room almost became unbearable with tension, like a poisonous miasma.

Loki's heart fisted into his throat. Probably the one question he didn't know. He hated those damn things. It was more of a way to have everyone's father's jeer and brag about their sons' talents. A pissing contest if anything, and a father could only enter one offspring.

Odin never chose him.

He scanned the room, buying time, and caught everyone's eyes, even Potts.

'Potts. The phone number. Sesshomaru told me! That either cunning or lucky dog, Luck never favors me, so this must be his karma.' Loki felt relief sweep over him, he tried hard to not let it show.

"Our record, as you recall Storm God, was my ten wins to your eleven." Loki managed to calm his heart enough to speak, and managed a slight look of annoyance at revealing a weakness.

"That is indeed correct Son of Taisho! See? He is who claims to be!" Thor approached Loki, perhaps vying for a hug. Just how well did Thor remember Sesshomaru?

Pepper Potts and Tony looked like they were going to faint. Romanoff inclined her head slightly.

"You should give Fancy Pants here a chance to tie it up, or you know give yourself a two-win lead." Barton cut the tension and Fury went from angry to confused and angry.

"Son of Taisho would never tell my brother such a fact, because doing so would be a weakness! We clashed closely and strenuously!" Loki widened his eyes, but no one thankfully noticed.

'Did Sesshomaru really believe that to be true? That I would care over such a trifle?' Loki fought the urge to puff hair up and into his itching bangs.

"Have we quite completed this useless endeavor?" Loki frowned a bit.

"Yes! Can you all go, I don't know, cite a girl scout troop for parading without a permit or something?" Tony scratched the back of his neck.

"We, too, were led to believe he was indeed Loki, Fury. However, we cannot bring every person we come across with a magic signature similar to Loki's that comes through the Bifrost to SHIELD. What if it was Frigga or Odin? We could start a war." Natasha attempted to reason.

Then Fury stomped up to him, getting right in Loki's face as if seeing through his magic.

"I don't like you. I don't trust you. I'm just glad Thor here can keep you in check. I'll be watching you...Demon Lord. Don't you dare try to cross me; you'll be sorry you did." Fury pointed his finger in Loki's face and he knew if Sesshomaru was in here he'd have shattered his arm by now.

Loki decided to go for it and iced his gaze over, making sure to keep his magic low and clenched his jaw. He closed the gap and looked down on Fury just barely and slowly lifted his left hand and slapped the finger away with a flick of a striped wrist.

"This Sesshomaru does as he pleases, human." Loki's mind almost blanked and said mortal instead of human.

Fury flung his arm down, knocking Loki's and strode away with Hill and Coulson following. Loki's left hand knocked back into an unfamiliar object.

Bakusaiga's hilt.

He felt a biting stab of incredible youki through his thin magic shell and knew exactly what had happened.

'Thank the nine for Sesshomaru's dramatic fashion sense, because the long sleeve just covers my non-clawed, non-striped wrist.' Loki attempted to hide the now human-like hand.

Sesshomaru was even paler than Loki and now even his skin tone was off. Loki couldn't fix it with magic or he'd tip off Thor. Then, he then felt something dreadful. At the place where his skin actually touched the hilt, he felt cold.

'No. Not here. Not my Jotun skin.' Loki's mouth thinned. The circle of skin, no larger than a plum, on the back of his hand had to be blue with a raised line of skin by now.

'At least it is not growing. A small relief.' Loki began to sweat.

"Thor, even the bifrost works again, you are to remain Planet-side with your girlfriend, girlfriends. Barton, Romanoff, I want you to report back to SHIELD at oh eight hundred tomorrow." Fury ordered, not bothering to look back.

"Yes sir." Romanoff and Barton chorused.

When Fury left, the tension in the room immediately lifted.

"I have to commend you Sesshomaru, you held it together really well. Fury had me rankled and I wasn't even the one he was talking to." Banner was the first to say anything defending him.

"Thor gets two girlfriends, and what do I get? A hangover and cold coffee. Good thing Dr. Foster is in Finland." Barton ribbed Thor and Thor darkened red.

"I have never courted Son of Taisho! I have not craved him as a potential bedmate. Not that, ahem, you are not lovely, nor…worthy." Thor, stammered and coughed.

Stark clapped his hands once bit his lips in the universal symbol of 'this is awkward'. Romanoff looked Loki in his eyes with a 'you so deserve this' gaze. Rogers in the back shuffled and Barton barked in laughter.

'If you have any mercy, nines, please strike me dead now.' Loki sliced his eyes to Thor and managed a small growl.

"…Point Break it's ok to leave the house hungry as long as you go home to eat." Stark finally composed himself. Rogers gave a chastising gaze to Stark and he just shrugged back.

"Aye! And I am famished! Let's forage for some sustenance!" Stark shook his head, clearly the innuendo flew over Thor's head. Thor, this time, swung his hand back and smacked Loki on his back in an attempt to smooth things over.

Loki's hands shot instinctually out to balance and his hands shot out of the sleeves for a moment.

But a moment is all Clint Barton, Hawkeye, needed.

Because then all hell broke loose.

Chapter Text

I do not have any affiliations or attachments to Q model management nor Soul Cycle. Any resemblance to any actual person is coincidental.

Sesshomaru and the Astral Plane

*(*

"You don't look like you're from around here." Sesshomaru's ears pricked up, a human woman had just sat down on the bench next to him in front of the ice cream shop. She was attractive, even by Demon standards, had long blonde hair, large green eyes and subtle facial paint. She like Romanoff, was fit, and athletic with curved features. Was she attempting to engage in conversation with him?

"You are correct." He wished not to engage in conversation, yet he knew he had to discover more about this realm, and she seemed particularly harmless.

"Lord Sesshomaru, I can't understand anyone here except Polly!" Rin exclaimed from beside him and the blonde woman's finger pointed up in recognition.

"Ah, you're from Japan, I recognize the language, the 'sama' part. My son loves their cartoons." She turned to him, looking at his left hand. Sesshomaru looked down at it, then back at her.

"Are you maybe some sort of artist? I know a lot of artists do the whole facial tattoo thing. Yours suit you though. I know how tough it can be to be a single parent, if you have any questions like where to find things in the city or maybe things to do with your daughter you can text me." The woman added, looking to Sesshomaru. He merely blinked. Single father? She handed him a card. Yet another card!

"I'll accept this." Sesshomaru nodded, he may indeed need help procuring Rin vital items.

"I'm Cadence, I'm a Soul Cycle instructor. Stop by for a spin! Usually I don't give freebies but for you I'll make an exception." She flashed a smile at him and winked Sesshomaru's ears went up. He had no idea what this cyclic soul spinning was, but it appeared she attempted to show a physical interest in him. How bizarre.

"Well, I got to run, have to pick up Tyler. Enjoy the city!" She stood and waved, and walked off with her ice cream. Sesshomaru looked back down to Rin.

"Lord Sesshomaru, did another human give you a communication code?" Rin stared at the card he held in his hands and pocketed it.

"Yes, Rin." Sesshomaru nodded as Jaken emerged from the shop as well, holding his staff of two heads.

"Lord Sesshomaru, I must say that the human men and women of this realm act most untoward to you!" Jaken shook his staff grouchily and Rin nodded in agreement.

The whole day had really perplexed the Demon Lord, especially one particular encounter.

***

"Jaken, go investigate and find this Ice Cream." Sesshomaru ordered and Jaken nodded and hastily set out to ask a human where this Ice Cream could be located. The Demon Lord monitored as he found a lone human male standing the corner of the street. Sesshomaru flipped his sunglasses up, finding himself in shade.

"I am on a quest to find Ice Cream! Where can I locate some?" Jaken asked the man and he looked down at him, eyes wide.

"Little boy, are you alone?! Where is your mother? Does she know you are dressed in costume?" He asked, sounding concerned. This caused Sesshomaru to tilt his head in confusion. Did they think Jaken was a boy?

"I am most certainly not alone! I am with my Lord Sesshomaru! Do you know where we can locate some ice cream?!" Jaken cried and pointed as the young man, again quite attractive for a human, looked up, eyes lighting in recognition.

"Oh, I see! You're playing some sort of game…Oh wow, this is your father?!" He approached Sesshomaru and he simply nodded. He stood in front of him, blue eyes darting over his body, he had his blond short hair pushed back, and dressed similarly to himself. He also looked down to Rin who stood beside Sesshomaru looking up at him.

"Hello there, I'm Jason Sisson, Q Model Management...You definitely have that 'IT' factor. Have you ever thought of modelling? I mean, you are the perfect height and build. not to mention your androgyny and bone structure are perfect for editorial. Your hair! I can spot extensions from a mile away, that's all natural. We have signed tattooed models before so we can make that work. And your eye color! Never seen anything like it, again, can't be contacts. I bet I can even get some commercials for your little girl." The tall man, Jason, leaned back, putting his hand under his chin in appraisal. Sesshomaru just stared at him and narrowed his eyes.

"Modelling…explain." Sesshomaru demanded, what was he going on about?

"Oh, just take my card call my assistant and make an appointment." Jason scribbled down a number on the back of the card "I'm sure you're a busy man, but we could all use the extra dollars, your kids gotta eat. I see no ring on that finger, alimony and child support in this city sure aren't cheap either!" Jason winked and Sesshomaru tilted his head to the side slightly.

"I see you're a man of few words. Love it. Talk is cheap, and time is money. I saw a family owned ice cream shop down that way too authentic. I'd totally join you but I gotta fly. I put my personal number on the back in case you're interested. Ciao!" He flashed a bright smile pointed in the direction they were currently heading and handed Sesshomaru the card. He flipped it over, two communication codes. He watched as the man held out his hand and a yellow vehicle stopped for him and he got inside. How odd. Jaken approached.

"Let us go find this ice cream." Sesshomaru pocketed the card, he would have to investigate these 'dollars'. He had no idea what this modelling entailed however, he was a Demon Lord and capable of anything these humans could do.

****

'Well, at least Polly, the ice cream vendor proved herself useful. She qualified as even more tolerable than most of Thor's friends. Her approval of his barter for the ice cream was most advantageous since apparently humans in this realm use a mystifying means of trade. These "dollars", I must understand them.' Sesshomaru ensured the paper she gave him was in the back pocket of his tight jean hakamas, with the others he collected.

Ping!

'Of course that Mischief God would compromise the plan even before I could take Rin to the woods. Ever fickle his magic.' Sesshomaru fisted his clawed hand.

"Lord Sesshomaru did you feel that?! Bakusaiga and Tenseiga are in peril!" Jaken felt the ping as well and Sesshomaru bent down to pick up Rin with one hand, Jaken with the other. He took to the air, shielding Rin and Jaken from unnecessary wind with his youki and bounded back towards the tower. He landed softly on the balcony, assessing the situation inside.

"Lord Sesshomaru, Uncle Loki and Storm God's ice creams are melting! Can we get more ice cream tomorrow?" Rin bit her lip, holding a cone in each hand, one of cookie dough, the other mint chocolate chip. Sesshomaru had no taste for the sweet foods of this realm, but he made a note of their labels to be sure Rin obtained the one she desired. He nodded as they entered.

Sesshomaru winced upon hearing the shouting, yelling and crashing. His ears still rang from being outside.

He observed Loki was no longer shapeshifted, but still wore Tenseiga and Bakusaiga. Stark and Romanoff stood in front of Rogers, who was thankfully not in bedclothes, Barton, who was now livid with bow drawn arrow knocked, and Thor who was swinging Mjolnir. The Berserker and Lady Potts were nowhere in sight.

'Perfect. Loki has riled them all up. I am in no mood to deescalate emotional humans.' Sesshomaru marched towards the room.

"I swear Nat I'll shoot right through you. I won't give a damn. How dare you defend him!" Clint's face had flushed purple in anger.

"Heed my last request! What have you done with Son of Taisho, Lady Rin and little Jaken?! Have you slain them?! If you have..." Thor threatened lowly, a rogue thunderclap cracked outside.

"Clint. I'm not defending him; we have new intel that we need to go over. There is a lot at stake. I would never defend what he did to you." Romanoff had her hands out in a clear 'no harm meant' pose.

"This is low even for you Tony. Is there even a Sesshomaru? This is practically treason!" Rogers stood directly in front of Stark, looking betrayed.

"Yes, there is a Sailor Moon, and treason? You know the track record I've had with the government; they did put Hammertech all over one of my suits. This is just a bit of payback." Stark grinned but Steve's frown deepened. "But seriously, need you to hear us out." Stark back peddled, stammering for the right words.

'Irksome gods, troublesome humans.' Sesshomaru sighed through his nose

Sesshomaru didn't need his sense of smell to know that matters were about to become out of hand. He sauntered into the room, behind Barton, Thor and Rogers.

He noticed Loki's emerald eyes flicker to him and reflexively relaxed. Stark's dark, intelligent eyes widened and looked him up and down. Romanoff looked annoyed and pleased at the same time. His ears flickered down.

"I instructed you not to do anything unwise Loki." Sesshomaru's stoic tone cut through the tension Three more pairs of eyes were on him in a second.

Barton's bow remained on Loki but his brown eyes burned with malice and shock at Sesshomaru. Sesshomaru flipped up his aviators in response.

"Fashionably late I see." Romanoff responded.

"Son of Taisho and company! You are safe!" Thor decreed and Rin scampered up, between a now confused Thor and Loki with melting ice cream cones.

"Uncle Loki! I got you ice cream! Yours is green because Lord Sesshomaru says that's your favorite color. Here eat it before it all melts!" Rin handed a very surprised Loki an ice cream cone then scampered off to Thor.

Romanoff, impressed, lifted her shoulders and nodded to Stark in a 'good job'.

"Rin got you an ice cream too Storm God! The vendor Polly said it was the sweetest one! Rin is also sorry she gave Uncle Loki all of your pastry of toasters!" Rin confessed and Thor also took his ice cream cone in befuddlement.

"Good job Rin. Now go play with Jaken." Sesshomaru's said neutrally and Rin saluted and skipped off with Jaken who was still wearing the AC/DC sweatshirt.

Pause.

"Brother you ate my pastries?" Thor accused and Loki put his palm to his forehead slowly.

"What fresh hell is this?" Barton gritted his teeth.

"So it worked. You broke Loki out of Asgardian prison and brought him here. Super." Rogers was at a complete loss.

"This Sesshomaru is no thief. As I have stated earlier, if Loki coveted liberty he would have it." Sesshomaru looked bored. Barton looked ready to murder. Rogers and Romanoff regarded the archer carefully.

"Why did you deceive us so Son of Taisho? Why the mind games with shape shifting?" Thor licked his ice cream cone. Steve glared at him and Thor shrugged and ate more of it.

Sesshomaru knew he had to practice extreme discretion with his movements and emotions. Tensions were still spider silk tight in the room. He was thankful his current attire made him appear less of a threat and that Loki still had Tenseiga and Bakusaiga.

Tenseiga was pulsing deeply and Bakusaiga bristled in agitation.

"This Sesshomaru has deceived no one." Sesshomaru replied mildly, looked to Loki who was hiding his left hand.

"Deceived no one?! You had Loki pretend to be you to meet Fury, maybe the one guy who dislikes the guy more than me!" Barton boomed and Sesshomaru's ears twitched in protest.

"I never vowed to meet this commander of yours." Sesshomaru tilted his chin up in defense.

"Under advisement from Romanoff, Stark, and Lady Potts, they compelled me to employ a gambit for Sesshomaru. This tactic would ensure the life of your commander and prevent undue complications for you." Loki spoke for the first time, his voice rough. Rogers looked like he was starting to come around.

Sesshomaru fought the urge to crack his knuckles. He did not fully understand the ire behind the archer.

Then Lady Potts and the Berserker entered the room, the latter looking worse for the wear.

"Good. You're here. I'm glad the clothes fit. Can you do your thing where you make Bruce calm down?" Lady Potts greeted. All poise and authority with a hint of nervousness.

Sesshomaru examined the Berserker and indeed his heart rate was elevated, breathing labored, and skin a sickened green, he was clawing at his own skin. Sesshomaru scented a pang of fear from Romanoff.

Sesshomaru closed his eyes, held out his left arm, and concentrated his youki into a perfect sphere. He flicked his fingers and shot the bubble of youki at the writhing Berserker.

"Stand down Berserker." Sesshomaru commanded.

And the Berserker gradually did.

"And just when were you going to let us know Loki was here?!" Barton still shook with rage.

"The plan was that Loki remain as our lovely Sailor Moon here until the real deal showed up and we explain everything, you know, big reveal. Abracadabra." Stark responded and the tension, except Barton, began to fade and turn to confusion.

"Plausible deniability. The more of you who thought he was the real one, the less Fury could use against you in the future. It would also make any adverse reactions more believable." Romanoff explained. Rogers shook his head, still looking betrayed.

"I do not like these schemes." Thor frowned, still eating his ice cream to the disbelief of Rogers, Loki was letting his melt, daring not to move.

"We can't operate this way Tony, Natasha. We all need to be on the same page. Now Fury thinks we are hiding something, and we are!" Steve, stressed, flung out his arms in frustration. "Why deceive Fury in the first place, why aren't we turning Loki over to him?" Steve finally asked the question that he wanted to ask.

"We have reason to believe that Loki wasn't the true leader of the first invasion of Earth three years ago. Last night he also revealed to Pretty Boy that there may be a second invasion to occur in less than three months by the real perpetrators. We needed to run it by you before Fury found out about Glow Stick over there, or before he antagonized Pretty Boy." Natasha explained and Thor finally stopped swinging Mjolnir and Steve looked to Loki who merely waved his fingers meekly.

"I don't care if Loki is the second coming of Jesus. He brainwashed me, made me his puppet and Fury still doesn't fully trust me. Can I please put some arrows in him already?!" Barton shouted to no one in particular and everyone looked around.

Sesshomaru straightened and his eyes went wide. 'Puppet. Kagura.'

He turned to Loki whose eyes completely dimmed and his face crumpled. Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles and his ears raised, Bakusaiga gnashed her blade within her sheath.

'I am disappointed, perhaps Storm God was correct in that Loki has changed. Could he have turned into a Naraku? No. Too soon to make that judgment. Circumstances have not been fully brought to light. I understand the pain of Barton now. Only a good soldier, like Barton, would keep seeking for affirmation from his comrades after such a deed. They are foolish to not understand his frustrations, to not see his struggle. This archer and Kagura, what each befell them is not dissimilar.' Sesshomaru assessed, chest clenching when thinking of Kagura, shrouded in purple black smoke, fading in the field of flowers Rin loved so much.

Pause.

"Can you Barton?" Sesshomaru replied evenly. All the Avengers whipped towards them, Berserker, now clear-headed, the only one catching on to his meaning.

"Is that a challenge Fancy Pants?" Barton's voice was almost shrill and Sesshomaru fought the urge to massage his temples. Sesshomaru tossed his hair.

"It is an earnest request. He impugned your honor. You deserve to amend it." Sesshomaru's gold eyes almost glowed and he looked around for protest. The Berserker's jaw dropped, floored and the pallor fully returned to his face.

Sesshomaru turned and caught Loki's green gaze and found a strength there.

"You don't need to ask twice Fancy Pants." Barton's fiery gaze smoked out to embers and the room's energy turned to one of uncertainty.

"I am not sure I can condone this..." Rogers looked around to assess the opinions of his comrades and Sesshomaru decided to remove himself from the situation.

He put his leather jacket down on the back of a chair and extended his right hand out facing Loki with a flourish. For the briefest of seconds, a look of betrayal entered Loki's eyes identifiable to Sesshomaru only. His hand glowed blue.

"Tenseiga, Bakusaiga to me." Sesshomaru's order reverberated deep and the swords rattled and shot by Stark, sheath first, and adhered to his left side on the leather belt. Sesshomaru caught Loki's gaze one last time, noting the hint of betrayal was gone.

'He thought I aimed to strike him. Foolish God. If I had wanted to harm him, I would have done so by now.' Putting on his sunglasses once more and with a swish of hair, he strode out of the room for the rooftop access.

Tenseiga was silent. Bakusaiga murmured.

"Ok, that was cool. You gonna eat that Bambi?" He heard Stark ask as he disappeared from the room.

He arrived on the roof, and closed his eyes, turning over the new information in his mind. He didn't know what to make of it. He was so deep in thought he was almost surprised by the Berserker standing beside him.

"You're pretty terrifying you know." The berserker sighed. Sesshomaru didn't open his eyes.

Sesshomaru flicked his sunglasses back up, gazed at him, quirked an eyebrow and flashed a fang at him. The Berserker chuckled in agreement.

"Yeah, trust me, I know the other guy is terrifying. Thanks again for the...you know." Sesshomaru exhaled through his nose.

"Do not act on pretense it will be a regular occurrence." Sesshomaru quipped, claws flexing.

"Of course, wouldn't want you too." The Berserker's usually passive gaze held something hard within and Sesshomaru just felt tired.

He heard clacking, and wiggled an ear, seeing Lady Potts, with the mint chocolate chip ice cream cone, and Romanoff approach, both looking agitated. Sesshomaru inhaled deeply, closing his eyes, dreaming of sloping grassy hills, a breeze that would call his name, glistening creeks and verdant forests.

"You've just started a real argument down there. Steve is aghast about starting an Avengers firing squad, Thor is waffling between understanding your point of view, returning Loki to Asgard or breaking Clint's arm, and Tony is trying to convince Clint not to immediately contact SHIELD." Romanoff, stern as concrete, bit out and Sesshomaru had had enough.

"In my opinion this is all Loki's fault. He brought Sesshomaru here, right? Besides, Sesshomaru was right about Clint and Loki." Lady Potts defended and Sesshomaru felt the bottom fall out of something. What was he doing this for? Loki? Their friendship? It had been five hundred and fifty years for the God. He must have found other sources of amusement and kinship. Could he be using him like Barton? If there were truly no Demons left in this region, he wouldn't be saving his own realm, he would be saving this dying realm of stinking humans.

Sesshomaru heard the huntress reply and he heard another voice, probably the Berserker's. He didn't care. Let these humans champion themselves. Let Loki explain himself. He was done being talked about as if he wasn't in the room. He was done being regarded as an oddity when they themselves made little sense.

Bakusaiga chirped.

'This endeavor is truly a waste of time. Loki, the Mad Titan, invasions, honor, communication codes, the ice cream vendor Polly and her music suggestions, Stark and his armor, Romanoff and her bullets. I should not have been transfixed by such delusions that these humans and the Gods were capable of cooperation and clarity, despite how strong and capable they seem. It is truly a delusion that what happens here is somehow any responsibility of mine.' Sesshomaru's eyes remained closed.

He felt his senses drift. He heard Bakusaiga warble.

What exactly was he even desiring to achieve? He received his answers. Loki will return him, Rin, and Jaken when the magic gate reforms. These humans and Gods have neither want nor need for his expertise. It was truly an exercise in futility. Let their realm fall, or not. Loki could escape to another distant realm, rebuild, or not. He could search for his kind in the meantime. His people, who would not look upon him as a novelty, nor a pawn in a game, but as his true station of Lord.

Bakusaiga began to sing.

Sesshomaru felt his senses meld, his youki, his sight, smell, touch and hearing. They turned dark, a darkness Sesshomaru could taste. They all melded into a pool, deep and dark yet somehow resplendent.

The pool, endless and smooth, lapped at his now bare feet, drawing him in. He could see his reflection, only his eyes bled fully red and he wore no clothing. All his markings were black and his stripes ran long and curved across his body like calligraphy strokes.

He stepped into the pool, it felt warm and slightly viscous. Inviting and foreboding in the same breath, or could he even smell the invitation? He tasted the metallic pang with his feet. Blood. Demon blood. Thousands of Demons had to have bled out to create this pool. He waded out into the endless blood pool slowly.

Ever so carefully, as the blood became chest high, he kicked out his legs and floated on his back. The blood, like thousands of small hands tugged his skin, gripped his hair, crept into his ears. The blood lurched and pulled him under suddenly, and Sesshomaru allowed himself to submerge.

Bakusaiga's melody chorused high. He spoke back, mouth filling with blood. He had to find them, his kind. He had to know their fate. All of the Demons.

Ah-Un. A ripple beat out of his heart like a pebble being thrown in a placid lake. He became the pool, his whole body liquefied. The hands had their prize.

Inuyasha. Another ripple...ripple.

Kagura. A third ripple...ripple.

Bokuseno. Ripple…ripple.

Totosai. Ripple...ripple.

Myoga. Ripple...ripple.

Kouga. Ripple

Kirara. Ripple

Shippo. Ripple

Mother. The ripple hit an invisible edge and bounced back, echoing. His mother? She remained in this realm?! Where?

The pool glowed red, and began to drip upwards towards the black sky, he began to drift up with it. Above him he saw two wide golden eyes glow.

A girl formed in the sky, young, Rin's age, yet clearly a Demon. Her white hair pinned up in twin tails on her head billowed out like streamers above her pointed ears. Her golden eyes shone with a cunning glint, but still held a wide, childlike shape. She had the same markings he did, except all her markings were violet, even the moon and she had only one stripe on each cheek. She even wore the same outfit he did, only where his was red, hers was a matching violet, and she had no fur nor armor. Around her thrashed a familiar green aura.

"Hello Father! It is I, your beloved Bakusaiga, the most powerful weapon in existence! I heard your despair! I have been awakened, and I shall guide you to where Tenseiga cannot." Bakusaiga's voice tinkled like a bell and she tilted her chin high with pride. He felt himself stand in front her, yet somehow still liquefied.

"Bakusaiga. Father? What… is this?" His voice didn't come from his mouth, but rather echoed from everywhere and nowhere.

"Father, this is our destiny. Together the three of us cannot be defeated! United we are the strongest entity in existence, yet we must go to Grandmother. Right Tenseiga?" Bakusaiga's clear voice held a honed arrogance. She dramatically gestured next to herself and appearing next to her was another tall figure, as tall as he.

Built solidly and tan, he too had golden eyes, yet his white hair was pushed back and fell and flipped out over his shoulders, just like Loki's. His face had no markings but atop his head perched a pair of triangle ears like Inuyasha's, designating him as a Half-Demon. He had a strong jaw, straight nose, high cheekbones and his intelligent eyes were friendly and warm. He donned a different outfit, the top being one that Loki preferred from his distant realm with pointed shoulders, blue and white with intricate designs, while his pants were the ones his father and he typically wore. He had no visible aura around him.

"Greetings my Lord, I see you have become quite troubled. You must trust in these good humans and the Gods. Bakusaiga, while young and a bit irate, will guide you in the Astral Plane." Tenseiga smiled and bowed, his voice warm like the blood he himself had dissolved into. Sesshomaru stood speechless, never had he thought his swords had humanoid forms. Bakusaiga looked just like him, and Tenseiga a strange hybrid of his father and Loki.

"Trust, in the humans? Tenseiga, you are a half-Demon?" Sesshomaru heard his thoughts come out in drips. Tenseiga merely nodded and smiled, triangle ears flicking out in acknowledgement. Bakusaiga turned to Tenseiga, aura flaring a sinister green.

"You give them too much credit Tenseiga! Your love for those weaklings almost caused harm to my father. Your. Lord." Bakusaiga hissed, turning her attention back to Sesshomaru. "That magic wielder, an incapable imbecile, has gotten you into a terrible plight! Yet, I suppose I must credit him since it was the magic gate that awoke Grandmother's gift in you." Bakusaiga yelled and pointed at Tenseiga who merely face palmed.

"Please do refrain from referring to one of my forgers as an 'incapable imbecile' Bakusaiga. He is most intelligent and as you said earlier, this is my Lord's destiny. Their friendship is a key part of that destiny. Do respect that and the rest of his companions. Oh and don't bite him again." Tenseiga's smooth, placid warm voice attempted to extinguish Bakusaiga's anger.

"He hit me! My Father said for that fool not to touch me and that uncoordinated, clumsy magic user hit me! I hope that archer turns him into a porcupine Demon! He is the only human there with any sense at all! And don't get me started on that hammer Mjolnir. That oaf swinging that dull hunk of metal like it could seriously damage me. Ha! I'll best that stupid mace yet. Father, after this quest you must wield me so I can defeat that weak Mjolnir." Bakusaiga punched her small clawed fist into her other hand, eyes set. Tenseiga simply smiled and shook his head.

"You bit Loki?" Sesshomaru blinked.

"I think we've confused our Lord; this is the first time he has truly met us." Tenseiga's triangle ears popped up. Bakusaiga nodded, walking towards Sesshomaru.

"It's ok Father, Grandmother will explain everything. She has sought you for a long time now, she kinda became obsessed. You must find Grandmother before her tomb becomes silent and desolate." Bakusaiga grabbed Sesshomaru's left hand and kicked up, returning to her sword form. Instantly he found himself, still in the blood pool, but stars and astral bodies glittered and swirled around him, all murmuring and velvet soft.

"This is the Astral Plane, don't worry, Grandmother will guide us to her." Bakusaiga returned to her humanoid form, standing beside Sesshomaru as the stars bled out and another image appeared.

He saw another human metropolis. Smaller, with snow covered mountains in the background and a large, square white elegantly spired building. He smelled salt, and saw a vast expanse brilliant flat white earth. He felt grit beneath his claws and bones beneath his feet, different bones but from one body, all smooth and worn. He smelled his mother's hair, felt the silk of her tattered kimono, he palmed a white haired skull and...

A strike on his backside.

Tenseiga immediately disappeared and he saw Bakusaiga cry out before she too vanished.

Sesshomaru's eyes flashed open. The pool gone, he stood face to face with a mask of armor.

Threat.

Startled, his senses failed to fully snap back from being on the Astral Plane. He reacted on instinct and backhanded the armor but failed to properly assess his surroundings. Unknown entities to his front, Rin and Jaken to his left. Vulnerable. Utilizing his full speed, he bounded, scooped up Jaken and Rin, pivoted and leapt to strategic high ground, atop the Quinjet.

"He's fast!" He heard a male voice.

Sesshomaru, for the first time in a long time, was completely perplexed, his mind a jumble, he couldn't even concentrate to produce his toxin or his youki. He felt his stomach go inside out.

Restrain the armored threat. Sesshomaru couldn't focus. What could be use? Pelt?

He summoned his pelt and it twined around the armored man sending him to the ground.

"This is why I cautioned you not to startle him." His ears twitched. A pained voice coming from the left.

"So." Clanking and whirring of metal sounded and the armored man struggled with the pelt."Worth it for scaring him. Do you need a new pair of underwear Sailor Moon? You look like a boxer briefs guy...Can someone help me with Cruella Deville's coat?!" The voice sounded familiar and a name formulated: Stark. He heard laughter.

'Oh. Yes, he was in the future realm. Reunited with Loki. Rin and her ice cream, intelligent dark eyes, an archer maybe? Something about a Titan?' Sesshomaru felt light-headed, but tried to calm his racing pulse anyway. His stomach turned again and he fought the urge to retch, did he swallow the blood? Blood?

"Can you explain what just happened?" A female voice. Potts.

"You gave us quite the scare Son of Taisho." A deep voice sounded relieved. Storm God. Sesshomaru's breathing was labored and erratic, what was he standing on? It isn't dirt or rock.

"Yeah, I thought Demons did the possessing, not the other way around." Another, clean voice affirmed. Bedclothes. Rogers.

"You like horror movies?" A woman's hard voice sounded stunned. Romanoff.

"What in the Nines were you thinking?" Loki cursed. Sesshomaru managed to look his way, seeing a complete image for the first time. Loki's shirt was covered in blood but Sesshomaru could smell no open wounds, he did see arrows on the smooth ground. He felt a tug and saw Rin gazing up at him, concerned, her cheeks wet and eyes puffy.

"Lord Sesshomaru! We are so glad you're alright! You wouldn't respond to anything! You were completely engulfed by Bakusaiga's energy!" Jaken cried and also hugged Lord Sesshomaru's leg.

"Bakusaiga...my daughter?" Sesshomaru murmured, his voice sounding not like his own. And he saw Loki shoot to his feet, looking completely infuriated. He tried to categorize the other human's emotions, were they hostile? Why was Loki here again? Did they spar here? At night?

He felt as if underwater. Under blood?

"What you attempted could have easily rendered you mindless. You cannot go that deep into a scry! Ever! You are fortunate that we were able to reach you through Stark's armor!" Loki's eyes were venomously green and Sesshomaru's mind still muddled, realized he smelt intense fear off Loki.

'Fear for him? Loki concerned for his wellbeing? Scry? The blood pool! Mother! I need to find her. Ah Un. Inuyasha. Kagura. I need to find everyone. I need...' Sesshomaru couldn't lasso his thoughts coherently. He felt jostled, he bent over suddenly and straightened just as suddenly as if his muscles couldn't agree on how to behave. Sesshomaru managed to still himself.

"...Scry? Explain." Sesshomaru uttered, voice garbled. Sesshomaru took a step forward preparing to step down from the jet, ensuring Rin and Jaken remained on high ground. But his vision swam, and his balance felt off kilter, he couldn't smell anything. The sky spun.

He slipped off the slick wing of the Quinjet and barely managed to recover his dignity by landing in a last-second crouch. His stomach had enough, he wretched and all that came out was a torrent of viscous blood.

Tenseiga remained silent, Bakusaiga glowed weakly.

'Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.' Sesshomaru slumped, knowing that these humans would kill him. Perhaps Loki would protect him. Something about an invasion?

"Whoa. He doesn't look too good." The Berserker? He couldn't defend himself against his rage. He would surely perish, he couldn't even transform, had he forgotten how? Sesshomaru flicked his head up and saw the Berserker rushing to his side. He braced for impact as he saw a puff of dark green smoke before his mind swelled and he lost all consciousness.

Chapter Text

Tony and the Aftermath

*(*

If someone had told Tony Stark a month ago he would have to help an escaped war-criminal Demi-God contain a scrying Demon Lord on his helipad he would have asked for some of their peyote.

And yet here he was. Peyote-less.

He didn't get it. He just didn't get how he knew this Demon Lord for one day. Thirty hours, and his life was completely upended. The guy was a worse trouble magnet than himself! Even Pepper would agree.

'In fact, I am sure she would agree that Sailor Moon is probably the only person on this planet who is more of a magnet for mayhem than myself.' Tony reassured himself, remembering how Pepper just shook her head when he finally freed himself of that stupid fur thing.

He thought he was really going to enjoy scaring the piss out of the green glowing Demon Lord by slapping his ass, which looked more a little too good in those jeans. Who looked a little too good in normal clothes, period. Nat wasn't joking about being fashionably late.

What he saw when Sailor Moon's eyes opened, however, didn't make the victory very sweet. In the split second before he was hit, which Jarvis later identified as a backhand, he saw Sesshomaru's usually cold, calm eyes overtaken completely in red. He didn't even have pupils until he blinked again.

Whatever he did, which Loki later identified as scrying, wasn't good. He looked every bit a Demon Lord should while doing so.

In fact, the whole magical Demonic scrying thing wasn't good. He sprinted up to the roof, after Bruce yelled his name. Tony never sprinted, he stopped that High School Gym class. He made it just in time to see Sailor Moon get stuck in a green tornado from the Wizard of Oz, which was a reference Steve understood.

The tornado, and everything else around it, rattled his bones. He probably should have called Fury back to update him on the change in weather, but he didn't. They couldn't have done all that work for nothing.

Pepper and Nat were arguing which could have escalated into a heavyweight UFC title match. Bruce was trying to remain calm, while trying to calm others down, which wasn't effective. Thor and Steve looked utterly clueless. He couldn't blame them, Coachella, so far, was the paragon of calm, cool and collected, this didn't look like his normal 3:00 scheduled activity.

It wasn't until Loki and Clint came to the roof, with Loki looking like a thrown out fondue set where things really got manic. Clint had really let Loki have it, which was probably for the best because Clint had been unusually dark for his typical sarcastic self ever since they scrambled the Quinjet. Loki, however, didn't seem to notice he looked like a dartboard.

Because Loki had lost his goddamn mind. And not in a 'I'm a super villain hear me talk about myself and behold my compensation helmet' way, but in the most, chest clinching, blood thinning way.

Tony doubted he would ever forget the way Loki screamed Sesshomaru's name, and the pin drop silence that followed. No one expected Loki of all people to openly show such fear, desperation and panic toward anyone.

It was pretty awkward.

Even Point Break looked shocked, and he knew their bromance better than anyone. It was then, Tony and the rest of the people knew that whatever Sailor Moon was doing, was probably not going to end well.

Loki, without even attempting to remove Clint's welcoming presents, tried to reach Sailor Moon through the tornado. As a result, he got fired back into the Quinjet, hand bleeding, and the tornado actually spoke something. It even sounded female! Neither Thor nor Loki knew what the twister said and they had All Speak. This was possession level crazy.

Great, he had thought. Tony knew truth could be stranger than fiction but this was pushing the limit.

Loki then diagnosed what Sesshomaru was doing was scrying, but that didn't help anyone feel better. It wasn't until Loki, the tough bastard, called Rin and Jaken, did he then try to pry all of Clint's arrows out of himself.

Jaken informed them that the green whirling tornado was not to be touched due to its immense decomposition energy coming from Sesshomaru's magic sword, Backstreet Boy (or whatever). Like he ever thought he would need that sentence in his life.

Rin just kept shouting his name and sobbing, unwilling to be consoled by anyone. It made Pepper tear up and she wasn't a crier. Even Barton looked torn up, but he was also a sucker for kids, being an uncle of two and all.

Tony recalled he finally had moved closer to vortex to see that Sesshomaru's skin was covered in curled, dark lines. His eyes were closed and the moon on his forehead turned black. However the most petrifying thing was he was chanting some archaic nonsense.

Point Break, maybe deciding to test his 'Storm God' title, tapped Mjolnir against the tornado realizing that the energy had no effect on metal. Capsicle was about to get his shield when Loki cautioned them that they had to awaken Sesshomaru gently, not with a shield to the face.

And that's when Iron Man, badass incarnate, made his appearance and saved the day. Sorta.

'Because now I'm carrying an unconscious, probably radioactive Demon Lord down to substorage room 3-b. Because God (gods?) forbid Loki would think he'd feel more comfortable in, oh I don't know, an actual furnished room.' Tony grumbled, face plate up, suit still on, carefully holding the Demon Lord as they exited the elevator, because his Backstreet Boy sword was still kinda glowing green.

Maybe he should just fill the whole damn room with crates.

Carrying Sesshomaru bridal style, which he was definitely going to use as blackmail after this with Jarvis' recordings, allowed him to look at him up close. His markings, which had changed to black and wavy when he was scrying had now turned back to normal. The markings were precise and somehow just the right color for his ivory skin, including the newly discovered stripes on his triceps.

And yes, when his hair brushed up against his face, it felt inhumanly silky smooth. Just as he thought it would. Not that he really thought about such things.

His full lips were slightly parted, crimson eyelids closed with thick black eyelashes and Tony could easily kill him right here, turn Loki into SHIELD or Asgard, if they could figure out how to contain him, and be done with all of this.

But where would the fun be in that?

Plus, Pepper would definitely purposefully destroy Stark Industries from the inside out if he made Rin cry, who was walking behind him, along with Loki and Jaken down to substorage room 3-b.

'These really aren't the parades I'm used to being in. Mayhem-Magnet Demon Lord.' Tony heard Rin say something.

"She thanks you for helping Sesshomaru. She wants to know what your favorite ice cream flavor is." Loki translated wearily and Tony couldn't help but smile. The kid was too cute.

"Tell her don't mention it." Tony answered. Loki translated back to Rin and she responded.

"She insists to know." Even Loki sounded at his limit. Tony glanced back to Loki, he was still shaking and looked like a raw hot-mess. Tony knew he could, just like Sesshomaru, probably kill Loki. Not that he would, he'd rather not get that disapproving look from Steve and a hammer to the face. Tony, also, for whatever reason, believed Loki. Believed in a way that surpassed the logical workings of Natasha's argument.

'Loki, as crazy as it sounds, has someone he cares about, and is risking his neck for him and this supposed invasion. Loki isn't stupid, he knows that Sailor Moon's terrifying power and Point Break's family nostalgia are practically the only reasons why he is still alive, much less not at SHIELD. Nat and I can only convince the others so much. With Sailor Moon down for the count, and Point Break on the verge of beating his head in, he really should have teleported away by now. Instead, he is shot to shit by Clint, not leaving Coachella's side, and placating a little Japanese girl about ice cream flavors. Loki has either lost it, or he is serious. Nah, probably both.' Tony mused to himself, not liking the corner he had reasoned himself into.

"Fine, demanding little brat. Chocolate!" Loki translated as they came upon the door.

"She is satisfied with that answer. I'll remain down here." Loki sounded exhausted, and looked like shit warmed over. Tony didn't argue the point as Loki, and Rin walked into the room. He gingerly placed Sesshomaru on the cement and Jaken waddled in with his fur pelt.

He looked almost too peaceful lying down, like this was really unnatural for him. Tony, if he didn't know any better, would say he looked fragile. Especially in normal clothes he looked almost too slender, like being a blood thirsty warrior wasn't really his shtick. He looked more like an arrogant aristocrat, one whose portrait belonged in a French Museum. All Hoity Toity, fur included.

'Oh yeah, I'm going to be getting fur out of my suit for weeks. And Natasha better delete that photo of me tangled in it.' Tony watched as the quartet settled in, Toady nesting them all in the pelt, immediately began to prop Sailor Moon up on the wall. He failed until Loki helped him.

"Oh, Toady, I want my AC/DC hoodie back. You can't wear a band hoodie if you don't listen to their music, it's in the Constitution." Tony pointed at Jaken who ignored him. Tony didn't even know where he got it from, it had to have been Pepper.

"I like this garment and I shall listen to this band if I can keep it! Now be gone! Lord Sesshomaru needs his rest!" Jaken shook his creepy staff at him and Tony just realized he got told off by a toad in his own house. His tower was really torn upside down.

"Hey watch it, there are a ton of French restaurants around here who could make soup out of you." Tony pointed at Jaken and he swore he heard Loki's dark chuckle. He gave up and went back upstairs to see everyone waiting for him. He took off his suit, that battle over, now on to the next. He poured himself a secret shot and a half of Blue Label before meeting up with everyone. He really, really needed a fix.

"Sooo...back to our regularly scheduled programming. Nat and I have something to show you. What you've all been waiting for. The Superbowl. We will show it to you just the way we saw it, halftime show and all." Tony clapped his hands, suddenly feeling antsy. Probably because now it was time to explain why he and Natasha had decided to deceive everyone, including Fury, that their new house guest was indeed a war criminal. Well, their house guest did also exist…never mind.

Natasha was sitting on the arm of the chair on which Sesshomaru's leather jacket lay. Next to her was Pepper. They had cooled down Tony supposed. He knew they would come around, it had been a long day and it wasn't even happy hour yet.

Thor stood with his arms crossed, a clear 'This better be more important than pissing off my Allfather and him grounding me' stance.

Steve looked a little pale, like he just got over Delhi belly from a shady shawarma spot. He stood resolute in a blue long sleeved shirt and sweatpants. His knuckles looked a bit beat to shit, he took out his anger the old fashioned way, just his style.

Clint slunk like a dark shadow in the back of the room.

Bruce was the only one who appeared interested without looking like he wanted to tear someone's head off...ironically. Well, at least he had one person who was in his corner.

"Now remember class, save all questions for the end of the movie. Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times." Tony brazenly tried out his best instructor voice.

"Just play the thing Tony." Clint's voice sounded dark and tired and Tony rolled his eyes muttering "buzzkill."

"Jarvis play sequestered footage, just the way Nat and I saw it." Tony spun his finger.

He had shown Pepper the video earlier, and she obviously didn't like it. She made her opinion of 'I don't care what he has to say, I still don't like Loki. But we should probably listen to the Demon Lord anyway, just to be safe.' pretty clear. After the scry-baby episode she didn't think it was good to have an emotionally unstable Demon Lord in the house and gave him a number to a 'good' psychiatrist.

He doubted Sailor Moon would jump for it.

He watched his comrades' facial expressions cycle through a colorful array of reactions and emotions ranging from disbelief, to epiphany, to shock, to captivation to dread.

Except Clint, who remained shrouded in his piss poor attitude.

Tony stopped the video before showing the fight.

"Alright guys, halftime show. What does the class have to say about the movie? Hmmm let's start with Bedclothes in the back!" Steve mustered a good natured frown at the joke before settling back into seriousness.

"If Fury, if SHIELD, knows that Loki can't be contained I fear they'll try to execute him. I can't say I agree with that." Steve sounded deflated, like this was all out of their league, and really it was. Tony had the same idea, and had an idea that Asgard maybe did too. Tony darted his gaze over to Thor, immediately regretting not making that shot and a half into three shots.

"I prohibit my brother's execution. I fought against it on Asgard and I shan't stand by it here!" Thor clenched his fist and Natasha nodded, seeing that reaction coming. "Especially that this Mad Titan, Thanos, is notorious in Asgard as well the other realms beyond for his thirst for devastation and genocide. He harbors the reputation for annihilating planets for sport. He is not a being to be trifled with." Thor added gravely, looking as if a storm would brew.

"What was Loki's punishment in Asgard? Like, what was he subjected to? It sounds like Sesshomaru said he could disappear to wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and yet he stayed in Asgard. And now he comes back here, probably the worst place he could, to risk it all." Bruce asked leaning back, brain working overtime. Tony thought Bruce would be the first person to reason through it all.

"I was not privy to the details of his sentence only that he was to feel the pain he inflicted upon Midgard. Whatever the Allfather judged I trust it to not be too brutal. Why do you ask?" Thor replied and Tony felt a pang of anger. What Thor just relayed sounded like torture, but what was he supposed to say?

He had been on the receiving end of torture in Afghanistan. 0 out of 10 would not do it again. His mind flashed to his lungs burning, water in his ears, chest collapsing in inescapable panic. Tony exhaled sharply and deeply, forcing the memory from his mind, he hadn't had an attack in months, he wouldn't get one here.

"Ok. Well, I ask because if he wasn't just sitting licking his wounds, and he was being...uh punished, and he could escape at any time..." Bruce led, waiting for someone to pick up what he was laying down.

"Then he was literally accepting the punishment given to him. It's possible he feels he genuine remorse." Steve finished, eyes lighting up. Tony, for once agreed with the idealist in him, why else would Loki intentionally stay? I mean, he stayed either because he felt genuine remorse, or was trying to give himself credibility for Asgard to believe him.

He heard Clint snort.

"...The hazard and risk to bring Son of Taisho to this time is quite tremendous. Traveling through time is not something the Bifrost is well known for. My brother took a grand gamble bringing him here." Thor sounded serious and thoughtful and Tony perked up.

"Risk? Odin did all the work." Tony spoke up, throwing in the towel and getting up to make himself a much needed second drink. He ignored Pepper's bitter look, he had to get another fix in him.

"I mean not for my brother; for Son of Taisho. He is a mighty warrior, yes. But the Bifrost could have easily shredded his mind and body apart travelling through space and time as it has all others before him. If I am certain of one thing of my brother, even after all this time, it is that he has great admiration and ardor towards Son of Taisho. His friendship with him is axial. Loki would know this risk of the Bifrost. I dared not mention it in front of Son of Taisho as I wanted to confirm with Allfather just to be sure, however upon seeing my brother in this video, I know it is true." Thor articulated, looking down, as if struggling with something.

Tony hadn't even thought of that, he finished pouring his scotch.

'The equivalent of me risking Rhodes or Pepper. I couldn't do it for anything less than absolute annihilation. If I were a three toed sloth I still wouldn't use all my fingers to count the scenarios. This one...well maybe.' Tony took a deep swallow of his Blue Label, not caring about what the others thought.

"Oh wow." Pepper, too, deep in thought, furrowed her eyebrows. Tony hated it and told her it would cause her wrinkles.

The room fell silent. They witnessed Loki panic as well when Sesshomaru fainted from the Quinjet. No one could have faked that reaction, and if he had Natasha would have spoken up by now. Thor's point was solid.

"I've studied the video and the only thing I can read, between Pretty Boy and Glow Stick, as a lie is when Loki says Odin won't return him to his own time. Everything else looks like it may be legitimate. Oh, and also when he says you two aren't brothers. That's a bit forced." Natasha relayed, looking Thor in his eyes and he appeared a little placated.

"I can...see how there was probably someone else out there who was leading the whole invasion. Someone in the back, not on the front lines doing the dirty work. The probability of the Chitauri having a leader who sent in a general for an invasion makes more sense than the commander doing it himself." Steve gestured the positions of armies with his hands.

"Who's to say this whole thing wasn't planned and they're both manipulating us? That they're going to turn on us? That Loki risked everything to bring Fancy Pants here to just kill us, and we found Fancy Pants before he did?" Clint's voice was gravely with skepticism.

"Aaaand, that's why it's Halftime. Show the rest of the game. Go Jarvis!" Tony motioned a rim shot air on air drums.

"Right away sir." Jarvis blipped, starting the video from where Loki had appeared in a puff of smoke.

The fight started and Steve, Thor, Bruce and Clint were not very impressed.

"So no offense Tony we know how they fight. I mean, the daggers are new but still." Bruce scoffed, feeling patronized. Clint made a motion to leave the room. Even Thor looked bored.

"Oh, yeah you're right, sorry Jarvis play the video at full speed." Tony wore a shit eating grin.

The video started over and this time Steve shot to his feet in shock. Clint paused and Thor had a startled gaze on his face, and one could almost say a brotherly pride and a hint of betrayal.

"I think it's safe to say if they wanted to turn on us, they'd have done it already." Natasha leaned forward. "Think about it, Pretty Boy didn't even attempt to attack Clint, Bruce and I with his whip, and he in no way moved that fast in New Mexico. He was holding back. Also, I doubt his swords are for show. You heard what Kermit said, that vortex of energy came from Pretty Boy's sword, the one Loki didn't make." Natasha looked to Clint in particular. Tony, also, forgot that Sesshomaru even had swords and didn't use them. He didn't use them against Loki either, which, when sparring made a lot more sense than a whip.

'Great, so he had N*sync and Backstreet Boy swords that have god knows what power stored in them. I should have definitely tried to take them from him when he was knocked out. Who knows what they are capable of.' Tony kicked himself, he supposed he could go back down there again, but hesitated, thinking the moment already passed. He had other stuff to work on.

"Exactly how is Loki moving that fast, and fighting that well? Didn't Sesshomaru say he was injured?" Steve looked to Thor expectantly. Others followed suit, putting Point Break on the spot.

"I mean, we've all seen how fast Sesshomaru can be when properly motivated, the guy was barely a blur after his meltdown today, but I never would have thought Loki was on par." Bruce stood up with Steve, studying the screen, using his glasses to point at it.

"Thor why didn't you advise us Loki could fight like this? He didn't even attempt to attack us in this way three years ago." Steve asked, clearly confused. Tony had to admit, it sounded like Thor left out a lot when it came to his brother. Maybe that would be a question for another day.

"It has been a long while since I've seen my brother fight with such passion and intensity, I had forgotten. I do not even remember if he has sparred like this with me." Thor looked as if he was thinking of something deep and expression darkened moodily, which was never a good thing for the meteorologists.

The rain started.

"They're skilled, and they have been sparring together for a long time. They don't leave themselves many openings for attack at close range. Pretty Boy's weakness is he has no long distance attacks, Glow Stick's is that he can relies too much on his teleportation which Sesshomaru abuses here and back at 2 minutes 23 seconds." Natasha analyzed like a sports commentator as they watched the fight end. Clint, now paying attention, squared up to the screen.

"Still, what Loki was saying about Sesshomaru's sword? A sword that can bring people back to life?! What a power to have." Steve put a hand under his chin, clearly thinking about someone in particular.

"Loki would be right though, if something like that were to exist, people, countries, even SHIELD would stop at nothing to have it. A blessing and a curse at the same time." Bruce, ever the devil's advocate, reasoned.

"I need to figure out what Sesshomaru's energy is doing to Loki's magic." Tony said to no one in particular, rubbing his beard. The itch to get into his workshop worked through his veins.

"The two energies, if of equal power, neutralize each other out. It is why Loki could not aid Son of Taisho during his scry." Thor supplied. Loki's magic had to have been too low to counter the sword…thing. Tony then got an idea.

"So. Just so I can make sense of all of this, Loki has been able to escape Asgard this whole time, but doesn't. He instead stays, accepting his punishment trying to convince Asgard that his former commanders are coming to Earth. They don't listen and instead he convinces Odin to summon his best friend, risking his life with the Bifrost, to present day. He does this to meet with Sesshomaru, in the city that he nearly decimated, to ask him to convince his enemies that not only is an invasion is coming, but he lost the first one on purpose." Bruce rubbed his eyes, clearly tired.

"Well, not only that, but to ask him to help lead the strategy to beat Thanos. Loki doesn't even mention trying to win us over; he just wanted us to trust Sesshomaru." Steve sat back down, exhausted.

"Logic dictates that we should at least hear Pretty Boy out. Glow Stick took an awful gamble and he isn't the kind of guy to risk his well-being by coming to Stark Tower for nothing." Romanoff finished.

"Sure. Why not." Clint threw his hands up in a sign of defeat.

"Alright let's all take a break, or something. It's been a shit-show of a day. When sleeping beauty wakes up we will pick his brain, or maybe what's left of it, about Loki's strategy." Tony tried to sound casual, but he secretly hoped the Demon Lord hadn't lost his marbles, even though he threw up what had to be three pints of half coagulated blood on his balcony. Yeah, that was gross. Hopefully Sailor Moon isn't a vegetable.

Again where would the fun be in that?

Everyone splintered off, needing space, a drink, another drink, a reality check, some normalcy. Tony practically sprinted to his workshop.

If he could analyze Sesshomaru's energy, like he did Loki's magic, he could track Sesshomaru's energy as well. Actually, it should be pretty damn easy.

In fact, he could make his own proximity barrier, only instead of detecting incoming threats, he could detect magic and Sesshomaru's energy as well. And if he could do that, then maybe he could construct a barrier large enough to detect when these space ships will show up, for a heads up. Maybe even a magic neutralizing force field if it got strong enough. The possibilities were great.

"Jarvis pull up all energy signatures for Sailor Moon, analyze and get a baseline. We got work to do!" Tony began tinkering away, using his already existing magic scanners.

"Will do sir, analyzing now, it appears that Lord Sesshomaru's youki is indeed diametrically opposed to Loki's magic in terms of both wavelength and frequency." Jarvis informed and Tony spun the hologram.

"Lord Sesshomaru's youki is much like infrared light with a wavelength of 850 nm. The frequency of his youki is around 100GHz. His youki seems to be extensively useful for sensing and detecting since longer wavelengths do not scatter as easily as visible light. Also his youki, being in the infrared spectrum, promotes increased rates of healing, pain relief, and prevents against muscle and bone atrophy." Jarvis explained and Tony nodded, taking another sip of his drink.

"Makes sense, he is some sort of predator, and he does heal quickly. His also youki must work just like thermal imaging, night vision, and maybe even finding astral bodies like stars and dust if he ever wants to be an astronaut." Tony chuckled to himself, the liquor kicking in a bit.

"Loki Odinsson's magic, in contrast, is like ultraviolet light wavelength of around 380nm. The frequency of his magic is around 400THz. His magic promotes reactions like photosynthesis, hardening resins, sterilization and disinfection and also fluorescence like detecting gems and crystals." Tony flipped the hologram in front of him around, putting a hand to his beard.

"Wow, Nat is pretty spot on with the Glow Stick nickname. The treasure questing makes sense, finding crystals and stuff is practically his backyard if his magic works like UV light. The sterilization is also a plus. Also maybe now I can get a house plant and it won't die. Eh. No probably still will, Pepper long gave up on that idea." Tony mused over the new information. He had no idea that Sailor Moon's youki and Loki's magic were so complex, but making perfect sense at the same time.

"Additionally, Sir, their energies are indeed, almost like acids and bases, but in terms of positively charged ions and negatively charged ions." Tony turned around, so they ionized air? He took another indulgent sip of his scotch.

"Lord Sesshomaru's youki acts as a positive air ionizer, much like air before an electrical storm. His positively charged energy can effect human serotonin levels, cause electric charges, induce anxiety, lethargy, immune deficiencies, and irritability. However, from what I can determine, the infrared nature of his youki prevents the negative effects from occurring unintentionally." Jarvis sounded off and Tony nodded, that made sense, if Sesshomaru was some sort of predator.

"Well, his youki does look like it's meant to damage his enemies, that makes sense if he uses it as weapon on purpose. Good to know I don't have a walking plague in my tower. What about Reindeer games?" Tony switched holograms.

"Loki Odinsson's magic, by contrast, acts as a negative ion generator. His negatively charged magic reduces static electricity buildup, promotes plant life, eliminates pollution, cures infections, improves mental clarity, focus, metabolism and purifies blood." Jarvis informed, and Tony leaned back, the gears in his mind already turning.

"Alright, Jarvis to sum it up, Sailor Moon is a walking rapid healing, thermal imaging, super weapon, and Loki is a walking gem finding, plant making, super nurse." Tony pointed and expanded the hologram.

"Well, sir, as I previously stated there is more to it than just that…" Jarvis almost sounded like he sighed.

"Eh, I like super weapon and super nurse. Let's get to it." The liquor had hit Tony just right and he was in the groove.

Hours passed. Tony smiled in victory. He had just managed to verify a baseline for Sesshomaru's own youki, and applied it to his already existing magic signature locator. It synched up perfectly and verified exactly with what Thor said, Sesshomaru's youki and Loki's magic were on opposing ends of a spectrum. They acted differently, as far as he could tell, Sesshomaru couldn't really make anything with this youki.

But damn if it didn't make the Hulk wise up, maybe it had something to do with infrared light's wavelength being so far from the gamma ray spectrum, or that positive ions incited his anger, overloading it.

"Sir, Dr Banner requests entrance." Jarvis chimed in.

"Sure, go ahead, might as well give him access to the lab while he is here Jarvis." Tony waved in Bruce.

"Hey, we were gonna order Chinese. Want a break?" Bruce sounded calm and Tony relented. He was about to go cross-eyed, he needed to see if Sesshomaru was awake and willing to help him test the new tech anyway.

"Yeah, sure, gotta show you what I got going on later though." Tony left the workshop noting when he entered the living area that Clint was getting his ass handed to him in Mario Cart by Natasha.

"Remember I get winner." Steve called from across the room. At least Legolas looked chilled out.

"No Mario Cart for you Point Break until you replace the like three thousand controllers you've broken." Tony pointed and Thor pouted.

"Ok, let's get some Chinese. I guess we should ask what the boxcar children want, Jarvis link up substorage room 3-b and let's ask." Tony turned and saw Pepper come out with a stack of paperwork as thick as his fist. She opened her mouth but Jarvis spoke first.

"Sir, Lord Sesshomaru, Lady Rin, Retainer Jaken, and Loki Odinsson are no longer on the premises." Tony jumped and his eyes bugged out. His mind flashed with a bunch of possibilities, none good. Did he take them somewhere off Earth? Could he teleport with other people? Did Loki kill them? He did leave a small child, a toad and a KO'd Demon Lord with a psychopathic God of Mischief. Probably not his most reasonable call.

Maybe Coachella really did lose his marbles and Loki decided he wasn't worth his time. Tony resisted the urge to groan.

"Jarvis, from now on tell me when Loki leaves. I'm gonna go get my scanner, we have to catch Team Rocket." Tony skidded back to his workshop and he swore he could hear Clint ask for his bow.

Bruce followed right behind him along with Pepper.

"I told you not to leave them down there." Pepper scolded and Tony knew he deserved it, security was the most minimum at that level since it didn't have anything of value stored at that level, and no one really ever went down there.

Probably precisely why Sailor Moon liked it so much. Tony kicked himself and grabbed the locator which was hot off the press.

"Ok, next time I have a radioactive Demon Lord and a sociopath sorcerer in my house, I'll put them up in the Master. Besides, this just gives me a chance to try out my new Sailor Moon tracker." Tony held up the location device. The locator itself didn't look like much, almost the size of a smartphone, perhaps a few millimeters thicker.

"What is the range on the locator? If they are too far out, or not able to be located we need to tell everyone, or at least get the Quinjet ready." Bruce looked like he wanted to pass out, but he wasn't green so far so good.

"For Loki, this baby can get his exact reading from around three thousand miles out, then it gets wonky. I'm working on the range. No idea for Sailor Moon, but probably a good deal shorter since his youki's wavelength is shorter than Loki's magic. I'll try finding Loki first." Tony turned on the locator, set it for Loki's signature and started the scan.

Nothing.

"…it didn't work did it? I'd like to state for the record I told you so. Bruce, we need to go." Pepper put the paperwork firmly down on his workshop, knowing Tony hated it. Bruce took in a deep inhale.

"Oh ye of little faith, we can still try to find Sailor Moon, I doubt Team Rocket would split up." Tony, though with a bit of nervousness this go around, set the locator for Sesshomaru's youki signature.

'Please work, please work, please work.' Tony crossed his fingers under the locator.

"Ping." All three looked at the screen intently, seeing the little red dot bleeping.

"Aha! See, they're here in Chelsea at….Jarvis where exactly on 9th street is this?" Tony asked, suddenly now curious as to where they decided to go.

When Jarvis gave him the exact address and name of the location, Pepper just laughed and said she was going to call Happy and bring additional drivers for everyone. Bruce took a deep breath and went to go get his coat.

Tony really just needed another drink, which luckily they could get where they were going.

Chapter Text

Loki and the Dinner Party

*(*

Loki had seen better days, but to be honest, he had many worse ones too. The worse far outweighed the better, so Loki decided he should keep his spirits up. Loki could not recall a day where such emotional highs were followed by such consuming lows.

His eyes hung heavy from the emotional drain, but by Frigga if he wasn't going to stay awake on guard for Sesshomaru, as he had done for him the night before.

Even if he couldn't put up much of a fight, he could scrape together enough magic to eke out one long range group teleport. He could take them somewhere safe, but he'd rather be here so the Avengers would trust them. However, all that mattered, really, was that he regained his full magic reserves and that Sesshomaru's mind returned.

Which by the Nines it did!

He watched Sesshomaru stir and Rin and Jaken were immediately by his side. Loki held his breath as Sesshomaru's eyes flickered open and he called them all by their names. Rin flung herself at Sesshomaru and he saw his lip curl up slightly.

Loki's shoulders relaxed completely and he unleashed a true smile at his friend which he knew irked him.

'Stupid mutt, almost forsaking himself and as a result Midgard and Asgard for what? An unguided scry? Since when did Sesshomaru even learn the skill?! What did he even need to scry? He should have consulted me before attempting such an art.' Loki's blood got hot over his friend's recklessness.

Loki, though if accused would immediately disavow it, was not a talented seer. His skills and abilities lay in other arts. And again, if accused he would immediately disavow it, he sensed that Sesshomaru's scry was one of the most powerful, if uncontrolled, ones he had witnessed. Loki may not scry, but he had witnessed many, such as Frigga's, in his lifetime.

He gave Sesshomaru a warning glare meaning they would talk about the scrying, Barton, and all the other skeletons in their closet later. Sesshomaru just glared back. Stubborn Demon.

Rin then showed him the pictures she drew of Ah-Un, Inuyasha, some humans he didn't know, but she educated him on. She drew her friend Kohaku a ninja, Inuyasha's lover Kagome a priestess, another ninja Sango, and a monk named Miroku. They all looked like they would positively get on Sesshomaru's nerves, especially the priestess.

Lastly, she drew one of himself, Sesshomaru, Jaken and herself all together. Jaken threatened to burn them and Loki may have spelled his mouth shut.

Sesshomaru praised her for her wise use of color, proportion, and balance.

Loki knew this girl meant a lot to Sesshomaru, and was candidly happy for him. One day he would ask the Demon Lord how their relationship came to be. Maybe during a simpler time.

Deciding to unmuzzle Jaken, his first breath was to say that his Lord Sesshomaru needed nourishment. Being that Sesshomaru didn't disagree, Loki donned a disguise.

Rin being of Japanese descent, he altered his appearance accordingly, changing his eye shape and color and even nose shape and bone structure slightly. For finishing touches, he put his hair up in a top knot, pierced his ears with black studs and glamoured on some Midgardian clothes. Loki hadn't had fun with his magic in ages.

Sesshomaru didn't question the Japanese inspired glamour.

Sesshomaru, did, however shove the paper shopping bag into Loki's hand. He stated, with eyes glimmering in what Loki could positively identify as mischief, that he had to wear what Pepper bought him.

Loki was unamused, but Rin giggled when he explained what the clothing meant.

Loki then, using a bit more of his magic than anticipated, transformed Jaken into a perfect little brother for Rin, complete with bowl-cut, human colored skin, and brown eyes.

Jaken was unamused, but Rin hugged Jaken calling him little brother. Sesshomaru simply tilted his head to the side, lowering his ears. Loki decided to interpret that as a success.

Loki offered to teleport them to the restaurant, but Sesshomaru refused, stating to save his magic and that 'his person' would not be moved by another today. Loki had informed him of Stark carrying him like a woman down to their quarters due to Bakusaiga acting wily and Sesshomaru melted open a crate filled with telescope lenses. After putting Tenseiga and Bakusaiga in magicked drafting paper tubes, they departed.

Sesshomaru was disgusted and tormented by the taxi. Loki thought that Sesshomaru would melt the vehicle with his toxin before they arrived at their destination. Rin also hated it, along with Jaken. Luckily it didn't take long to reach their destination: Old Homestead Steakhouse. A steakhouse, Loki researched, that was renowned in this city for its Japanese Kobe steak, something Sesshomaru would actually eat.

"And what would the little miss be having for dinner?!" Their borderline overly friendly, but conventionally attractive waiter asked. Oh. He could work with this.

"Rin would like the crabcakes, Yuki!" Rin sing-songed as she made crab pincer motions with her hands. The waiter laughed musically and Loki leaned forward giving their waiter a saucy glance.

"She will have the crabcakes." Loki translated and the waiter looked at them warmly. She named him Yuki since he stressed that his name was not to be spoken, and it was close enough to 'Loki' for everyone to remember.

"Aw. Your children are just the cutest things. And so well behaved! You two as a couple work so well!" The waiter gushed and Loki couldn't help but laugh mirthfully, Sesshomaru literally rolled his eyes, something he would only do in his company. Loki knew that flirting with their wait-staff would positively undo him. A fair amount of revenge for surprising him with that scry.

"Why thank you. My partner here doesn't read English well so I'll be ordering for us. We will both have the Kobe steaks, Sho's will be cooked blue, mine medium rare and little Jack over there will have one rare. Oh and a bottle of your best Shiraz, and two grape juices. Thank you, so kindly." Loki hammed it up with a devilish wink, and the waiter for a moment looked surprised, then wrote something down on his pad and slid it to him and Sesshomaru.

He showed Sesshomaru the phone number, Seth's name, and his invitation for a threesome.

'What did the humans call this? Bromance?' Loki grinned like the Cheshire cat as Sesshomaru shredded a cloth napkin.

"Right away Yuki and Sho! And you'll love the Shiraz! Do, ahem, consider all your menu options for dessert." Seth winked back with equal naughtiness then sauntered away.

"Sho? I thought I made it clear not to use that name." Sesshomaru cut his gaze over, still wearing his red t-shirt, though water droplets had speckled it and caught in his hair. Oh, how had he survived all these centuries without Sho? He was truly an endless source of amusement.

Loki surmised the storm was Thor's doing, it held his special energy, his magic could easily sense it. What caused it would have had to have been the video. He wondered absently what the other Avengers would think of it. Hopefully they thought it out rationally as they should. Well maybe except Barton. He had no idea what Thor would think of it.

'I care not what he thinks of it. Not at all.' Loki looked down, frowning.

"Lord Sesshomaru, I do not agree with this at all! I am not a child of this God! I look hideous and I am certainly not Rin's younger brother!" Jaken protested, pulling at his hair and wincing when he realized it hurt. Jaken squirmed, trying to charge enough youki to burn off Loki's glamour.

"Jack, behave or no meat for you." Sesshomaru said simply and Jaken's human's face paled in horror, either from using his human name, the promise of no steak, or both. Loki chuckled.

Rather too much fun. Loki reveled in these little pranks.

"Lord Sesshomaru, Yuki just called you Sho! No one has ever done that!" Rin announced, and Sesshomaru whipped his damp hair to Loki giving him a death glare, pursing his lips. Loki smiled, all vibrant white teeth and undiluted happiness.

"It's because I'm special and have known Sesshomaru for a long time. Oh, Sho, remember, Thor is not my brother." Loki added as the wine and drinks came out to the table and were poured by Seth who made sure to roam his eyes over Sesshomaru who cracked his knuckles under the table.

"Think not that you are above reproach, Trickster Yuki." Sesshomaru growled and Loki lifted his glass of wine.

"Don't be so surly. Let's cheers to a wildly successful day on Mid-this Earth." Loki's eyes sparkled with sarcasm that Sesshomaru caught. They both knew today was far from any success, He became quite literally target practice from the human he adored, and Sesshomaru expelled at least three pints of blood on Stark's roof. Not a stellar day for neither Demon nor God.

And as they raised their glasses, Rin and Jaken included, bursting into the restaurant like a hurricane was none other than Tony Stark and company. Oh what great timing.

Loki was not surprised; he knew his magic signature could be tracked. It's why he chose his and Sesshomaru's chairs facing the door of the restaurant. That and Sesshomaru loathed not sitting against a wall, paranoid Demon Lord.

Loki just wished he wasn't wearing what he was forced to wear. He took a sip of the splendid Shiraz as Sesshomaru next to him frowned, his entire demeanor changing from relaxed to guarded.

Sesshomaru was surprised they were found. Odd.

"What?! No invite? Some polite house guests you are! More like squatters...is that Toady?!" Stark exclaimed flamboyantly and Loki seized an opportunity to get Sesshomaru back from being so rigid.

"We make a charming family, don't we Stark? Let me introduce myself, I am Yuki Taisho, this is little Jack, Lady Rin and you all know my partner Sesshomaru." Loki's smile was all teeth and Sesshomaru melted a fork in irritation which did not go unnoticed by Stark. Sesshomaru's hair now completely dry due to the small spark of youki he let loose.

"Strangely spoken from someone whose garment has another's name emblazoned on it. A feckless attempt to make this Sesshomaru jealous?" Sesshomaru countered placidly, sipping his wine and all eyes turned to Loki. Loki even regarded Sesshomaru wide eyed, since when did Sesshomaru openly display such humor? Loki looked to Stark and quirked an eyebrow.

Their laughter, save Clint, filled the restaurant and Pepper gave Sesshomaru a private thumbs-up. That vengeful human woman!

'Clint is still infuriated, it is to be expected.' Loki inwardly sighed, his gaze shooting down, remembering the conversation they had.

***

"Stand still and smile for the camera." Loki felt the fire coming from Clint's eyes.

"I won't budge." Loki replied simply, though his stomach churned with acid. Something dire was happening on the roof to Sesshomaru, he could sense his youki surging unusually. However, Sesshomaru was correct. He indeed needed, no wanted, to atone for this.

"I know you're dying to get out of this." Clint sneered, his words twisting into him like broken glass.

"I truly am not. I have wronged you terribly." Loki pursed his lips, knowing Clint, just like everyone else, would not believe the God of Lies. The God of Resentment and Lies.

Clint let the first one fly, and Loki stood as still as frost, like the blue spot on his hand reminded him he was.

***

"You can have him Sesshomaru." Banner laughed, tears in his eyes "Though I'm glad you're a fan of the other guy, uh Yuki." Banner was shaking in amusement and Loki felt his skin get hot.

'An incredible Hulk T-shirt. Really of all the boorish things. If a seer had told me that I would not only shapeshift into a Demon Lord, get shot by eight arrows, and dress in a Hulk T-shirt I would have forgone this whole day.' Loki pursed his lips together.

Mayhap. The waiter, Seth, alone may have been worth it.

"Excuse me, your volume is distracting our other patrons, do you have a reservation?" A nameless hostess approached Bruce, skin red.

"Uh yeah, I'm Tony Stark, Iron Man, you know the drill. We're going to join this uh table so can go ahead and put some tables together, and get a bottle of Blue Label and another bottle of whatever they got...and a new fork for Sailor Moon over there." The hostess nearly swooned and faster than Sesshomaru could move she and her cohorts fashioned together enough tables. Stark and his fellow lost creatures placed their orders.

"You know. You should have really told us where you were going." Rogers nagged and Loki saw Sesshomaru tense slightly.

"This Sesshomaru seeks assent from no one." He notified back. Loki inwardly groaned, Roger's personality and Sesshomaru's would get along like a Dark Elf and a Fae, constantly grating.

"No. Not like that, we didn't know if something happened. What if something bad were to happen, like with uh Yuki now here in public." Rogers leaned back, voice strained.

"Your concern for your own safeguard is needless." Sesshomaru dismissed with a flick of a striped wrist.

"We are allies, at least while we get to the bottom of what is truly going on here, but that doesn't mean that you can just up and leave without telling us. Not everyone here in America treats enhanced beings well." Rogers admitted and a quiet fell over the table.

'Did the Captain America just regard me in a friendly tone? Could he actually be rallying to his side?' Loki didn't hide his puzzled look.

'In fact, this whole dinner thus far is far too carefree considering all that has happened. I've killed hundreds of mortals, perhaps wounded three times as many. I made their own comrade betray them, I almost assassinated that Agent Coulson who likes him so. And yet he and the rest of the Avengers sit here, eating steak and conversing with Sesshomaru and I as if we are allies.' Loki began to shift uneasily, could this all be a trap? Could they have SHIELD agents converging on their location? No. too public, they wouldn't want to risk another public battle. Would they?' Sesshomaru sensing Loki's unease, pricked his ears up, as if listening for something.

'If they could just wait a few more moons, they will have my blood. They will have their fallen villain of Midgard written with an end date beside his age on their scrolls of history.' Loki faked a smile, a practiced slice of the lips.

"Brother, do you truly relinquish our family name or is this just simply a jest?" Thor thundered and Loki face palmed. So that's why he was quiet all evening, he was upset over the joke about his last name? Did Thor not even know that about his prison sentence?

"Thor, I did not relinquish our family name. Odin himself took it from me, along with many other effects and virtues." Loki explained, taking a large gulp of the Shiraz which now tasted quite sour.

Sesshomaru's face revealed no emotion, but Loki saw his red ears flick up in shock.

"Allfather wouldn't dare take your name! That would be tantamount to rescinding you title as a Prince of Asgard, and the protection of the Royal Guards of Asgard, and your history in our family tree." Thor leaned back in his chair, and Loki chuckled darkly, green eyes never leaving the clear blue ones.

"Oh yes Thor, he took it. It is as how you just implied. My title, my name, my identity, all erased. Disowned. I am but a mere conjurer…what would the Warriors Three and Sif suggest? Ah, yes, a conjurer of cheap tricks. I am bereft of all but few possessions, and even fewer means of regaining any solace of a home." Loki felt eyes bore in on him, but he cared not what these Avengers thought of him. He had lost all chance of anyone caring about his well-being, save Sesshomaru and deservedly so.

His soul had been reduced to a mere transient specter intent on one goal, to completely dismantle Thanos' Navy and to do onto the Other what was done onto him. Loki, if to be accurate, did not even consider himself to be truly alive anymore. In his time in the prisons of Asgard he managed to cobble his soul back together only to realize he coveted no purpose to create, no purpose to rebuild, nor revel in happiness. He existed only to destroy a singular target. A weapon certainly didn't need to be alive.

Loki simply wanted to see the Other dismembered, to see his skin peeled from his muscle, his sinew flayed from his bone, flesh shredded to ribbons, his bones snapped. He wanted to look into the Other's eyes, glassy in pain and recognize that he was a force to be reckoned with, and he was no mere puppet of Thanos. He was Loki, a strikingly strong sorcerer, and no one would take that from him again.

"Allfather never told me such. What else was your edict for your punishment? I cannot believe that he would simply take your name." Thor's voice lowered and Loki huffed in exasperation.

"Thor, perhaps you should ask your beloved Allfather, you truly cannot believe my words, yes? I can assure you that what I endured was suitable for what I ravaged upon Midgard if that is what truly troubles you." Loki supplied and caught a movement from Sesshomaru, clearly transfixed between the exchange, like the other Avengers. There was a strained silence.

"…your brother has sustained profound wounds both new and old. Your ignorance of his treatment stands contrary to your professed concern." Sesshomaru broke the silence, slicing a critical stare to Thor's direction. Thor looked positively enraged and a clap of thunder was heard.

Loki swallowed another gulp of wine, then refilled his glass and Sesshomaru's. How many of his wounds and of what type did Sesshomaru sense?

"Lord Sesshomaru, a King who imprisons, tortures and renounces one of his sons for a failed invasion? Why not just send him away for education? It's what the Lord of the Southern Lands did with that one savage daughter of his. She returned much smarter! What good does a noble's persecution do in failure? Bewildering Gods!" Jaken waved his hands and Sesshomaru merely glanced blandly in his direction, before nodding in agreement. Loki had to hide his amusement, the little Water Demon was his unintentional advocate. Of all the things….

"Humans torture too Jaken, I mean Jack. Rin thinks humans are the worst, not Demons! Especially bandits!" Rin supplied and Thor, Romanoff and Loki looked her way.

The rest of the table glared at Jaken, who remained completely oblivious and Loki couldn't help but think it hilarious. The tactics from their warring period were certainly different. War and dominions have changed so much since the time when Demons roamed Midgard. Loki knew he deserved the punishment he received, yet the isolation he felt was completely disowned still shrouded him.

He had to regain his honor. Even if he, himself only, witnessed its recapture.

'Truth be told, I not only do not expect surviving, the encounter with the Other, I do not relish it. It'd be far more effortless to simply cease to be after his obliteration, and I know of few who would mourn my fall. Most would outwardly and proudly rejoice it. I am surrounded by most people who would raise a glass in merriment to it.' A quiet, hollow pain panged deep in Loki's sternum. Perhaps he had been a modicum selfish in bringing Sesshomaru to this time and realm.

'It is warming to be reminded of what was. And to have someone, when I expire at the end of my excursion of vengeance, who will remember me not just a sorcerer or Prince who squandered great potential, but once lived it.' Loki stole a warm glance over to his friend, whose youki began to ebb out in agitation. He clearly didn't like the current conversation.

"Dear Jack, criticize not the justice of Asgard." Loki turned the rest of the table before Thor, or anyone else dared input anything else. "I am assuming you watched our conversation, yes? It matters not if you lot ever harbor any respect or find my character or company amiable, what matters is that you take seriously the eminent threat that nears. After we deal with the Mad Titan and his wrath, you may do with me as you see fit." Loki, Jaken and Stark noticed Sesshomaru's cutting glance towards Loki, talons lengthening as he destroyed yet another fork.

Sesshomaru, again, clearly did not fancy that idea either. They severely needed a change in conversation. Rin bit her lip, upset and on the verge of saying something.

"Hey Pretty Boy, gotta ask, what was going on with you on the helipad?" Romanoff steering the conversation his way, most likely due to Rin, Loki noticed a softening in her gaze when looking at her.

"Actually, can someone explain to me what scrying is? Or I'm just going to assume it's an emo Skrillex remix." Stark threw his hands up predictably.

"Scrying is a method practiced mostly by seers to either find an entity, item, or to see the future. Usually they use some sort of reflective surface to view the Astral Plane. Scrying is profoundly difficult to develop as a skill, at least effectively." Loki educated and saw Sesshomaru go deep in thought.

"Of course, aliens and now fortune tellers. Can you scry us some lottery numbers?" Barton derided from the far end of the table, and Banner shot a warning look.

"Well, I am first a sorcerer, not a seer. I do not have much practice in the arts arcane...now arts profane..." Loki trailed off and Thor asked a question before Barton could retort.

"So, son of Taisho, what did you see? The future?" Thor asked, one track mind.

"...it is of no consequence." Sesshomaru finally answered, not looking at anyone.

"Listen, I rescued your creepy chanting ass from your radioactive tornado from hell...on my own roof! I think we all deserve to know what you were trying to conjure." Tony leaned back, waiting to be impressed

Loki felt his throat get tight. Sometimes scrying could be very personal or confusing, especially as unpracticed and unruly as Sesshomaru's was.

Wait.

"Why did you start to scry?" Loki heard himself ask and Sesshomaru's eyes shot to him, he looked like he was about to leave. Loki hadn't even thought of the question until now. What had Sesshomaru decided was so important he had to scry at that exact moment, and with no reflective surface?

"Bakusaiga." Sesshomaru spoke one word.

"You started to scry because of your sword?" Romanoff finally spoke up.

"...Bakusaiga, she is volatile, stubborn, deadly, and she's quite young. Only her sheath is to be touched." Sesshomaru stated, but his mind sounded miles away, he didn't even properly answer Romanoff's question. Loki knew then that Sesshomaru sounded as if he was still training with the sword.

"Ok, it's just a sword. How can it have a personality? Much less one that sounds like someone we all know?" Barton asked. Loki shrank, knowing he was speaking of him.

"You fools! Bakusaiga is no normal sword! It came from Sesshomaru's own body in battle against Magatsuhi! It is the sword to surpass all swords! The strongest weapon in existence!" Jaken defended, raising his own steak knife as one would a sword. Everyone around the table looked at their neighbor in confusion.

Sesshomaru shot Jaken a look that could freeze Muspelheim.

'He created a sword from his own flesh? Is that even possible? It would explain why I couldn't get near him during his scry. I had never encountered such a flux in youki before, the sword, if born from him, must amplify his youki.' Loki could see he was not handling this line of questioning well. Loki noticed Stark had backed off, eyebrows furrowed.

What...What did he see to make him this disquieted?

"Son of Taisho you fathered a female sword as well as a mortal?!" Thor asked and Lady Pott's eyes went wide. Sesshomaru clenched his fist, destroying his third fork.

"No silly, I found Lord Sesshomaru! and Bakusaiga came out when Lord Sesshomaru regener-" Rin started, but Sesshomaru put her hand on her shoulder softly to silent her. Loki thought it strange, he usually let Rin speak her mind. Loki made a mental note to ask Sesshomaru of the fifty-three years he missed, it sounded like much transpired.

"I did not start to scry because of Bakusaiga, Bakusaiga began the scry because of my instincts. I did not know what was happening until it already occurred." Sesshomaru's eyes were covered by his bangs as he looked down at the table. Stark sat back, cutting eyes to Thor who shrugged, being of no help to understand what was going on.

'By the Nines, he executed that powerful of a scry inadvertently? Could this be because of the Bifrost?' Loki looked upon his best friend as if for the first time. It would make sense that a magical flow of energy could catalyze such a gift.

"So, you didn't do it on purpose? " Rogers asked quietly.

"It was far from this Sesshomaru's intention to befall such an inconvenience." Sesshomaru's voice almost sounded sardonic as he recovered. Loki felt guilt stab his gut and saw a similar reaction in Stark.

'Befall such an inconvenience, whatever Sesshomaru saw did not sound like it was worth it for the price of appearing vulnerable in front of a potential enemy.' Loki studied his friend warily.

The waiters, Seth included, who looked like he was about explode in awe, appeared with everyone's food. Sesshomaru hid his sorrow well in his face. It was, however, evident in the slight hunch of his shoulders. Loki decided he would wait a spell before inquiring his friend as to what he saw. He knew Frigga would often be perturbed by her dream-seeing.

"Oh man. This was such a better idea than Chinese." Banner smiled putting a forkful of steak in his mouth gracefully and Pepper nodded.

"This is the first time I've had real Kobe beef! Thanks for picking up the tab Tony!" Rogers carved his prize. Loki also enjoyed red meat, it had been a long while since he had food that tasted nearly this delicious.

"Yeah well, not everyone can be a billionaire...speaking of which how were you two going to pay for all of this?" Stark gestured to Sesshomaru and Loki with his steak knife.

"Pay with dollars?" Sesshomaru asked at the same time Loki conjured a black AMEX card.

"Uh, yeah pay. You know give money to someone to get something. You had to have done it for the ice cream. Pepper you gave him a corporate card or something right?" Stark turned to Lady Potts and she shook her head, mouthful of steak.

"Wait. How did you pay for the ice cream?!" Stark looked suddenly interested.

Pause.

"I believe that's an inquiry I did not consent to answer." Loki saw a resurgence of life in his friend, humor dancing in his eyes. The energy level of the table began to rebound as well.

"You've answered everyone else's questions! We aren't even playing that game anymore. Well, whatever, fine we can play just ask me a question, any question, because I so deserve a question. I mean, I can probably answer anything you can think of." Stark feigned indignation, his dark eyes danced back.

Pause.

"I have a pertinent question for you." Sesshomaru relented and Stark punched a fist in the air, chewing on steak.

"Shoot!" Stark swallowed his steak and straightened his spine in anticipation.

"Do you enjoy partaking in the music of a Michael Jackson?" Sesshomaru asked then took a delicate nibble of steak, Loki noticed Sesshomaru avoided using the fork and instead speared it with his knife. He must find Sho some chopsticks, wait.

Loki's eyes went wide, he looked at his friend whose posture returned to normal. Sesshomaru was playing games with Stark. Sesshomaru never played games. He must find Stark of some amusement. Loki knew Stark enjoyed game playing as well.

"Well yeah, I mean he was the King of Pop after all. He isn't my favorite, but the albu...wait what?! How do you know about Michael Jackson and why is that your question of all questions?" Stark, flabbergasted again, nearly dropped his knife on the floor.

"You just love trolling Stark don't you?" Romanoff chuckled.

"I have listened to Michael Jackson. My favorite song of his is 'The way you make me feel'." Rogers contributed.

"You would. Mine's 'Thiller'." Banner grinned, and almost everyone rolled their eyes. Loki noticed Clint hadn't said anything just attacked his steak. Loki's spirits dampened.

"You know; I think my favorite is Billy Jean." Lady Potts mused. Loki wondered if he should chime in that his favorite was 'Smooth Criminal'. Perhaps that would be too soon.

"Ok. Glad everyone answered his question now c'mon Sailor Moon answer mine, why Michael Jackson? I hope you didn't scry him. And how did you pay for the ice cream?" Stark put his hands out to silence the clamor.

"This Sesshomaru will extend benevolence to you and answer both questions. To the first, I bartered with the ice cream vendor." Sesshomaru replied, eyes glimmering.

"Bartered with what? Do people still do that?! What do Demon Lords barter with? A bag of goat heads? Human teeth?" Stark was astounded and Banner and Rogers snorted. Loki took a sip of wine, remembering a time when Sesshomaru and he bartered with a certain Phoenix Demoness, Kira, over a crystal after he lost a duel to her. Loki shuddered, remembering the nickname she gave him.

Perhaps Sesshomaru had long forgotten that nickname, but he doubted so.

"Information. Her wares and in exchange I listen to the following musical artists and opine them. Is bartering common in this realm?" Sesshomaru sat up slightly and began to dig out slips of different paper. He tilted his head to the side as Stark, Lady Potts, Romanoff, Banner and Loki picked up a paper Sesshomaru pulled out.

"No. Not really for typical citizens, but as Avengers we sometimes get some preferred treatment. Like us getting a table in a full restaurant." Rogers admitted, a bit embarrassed to Stark who shrugged.

"Hey Mr. Mysterious, listen to these guys and give me a call or swing back by: Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Whitney Houston, The Counting Crows. -Polly." Stark read out loud "...you got free ice cream because she wants in your pants!" He threw the paper on the table in disgust. Sesshomaru picked it back up immediately, examining the paper.

"Polly does not desire my person." Sesshomaru insisted instantly. Loki just chuckled in amusement.

"Oooh, this number says 'Jean-claude' Sounds like he may be interested." Romanoff announced, turning it over in her hands.

"Mine says she is a Soul Cycle instructor. Cadence how appropriate of a name." Banner added.

"This is a business card for Q Model Management, Jason Sisson, looking for work?" Lady Potts gave an approving look.

"This is the one our waiter, Seth gave us. I am surprised you kept those however, Sesshomaru." Loki contributed, and he swore he saw Sesshomaru's cheeks darken, but it must have been the shadow of the passing waiter. Loki knew that Sesshomaru had little idea of why he received such communication codes, but it tickled him to know that he actually kept them.

"This Sesshomaru kept them for Rin's sake." Sesshomaru said cryptically, not explaining any further, but levelling a gaze at Loki, daring him to explain further.

"Sounds like you have some competition Yuki." Rogers joked, taking a bite of his steak. Loki's eyebrows raised, did Rogers just joke with him? Is the leader of the Avengers toying with him? Loki bit the inside of his cheek to prevent from lashing out; he needed, of all people, for him to take him seriously, not banter with him.

"See Lord Sesshomaru! Those humans were unusually untoward!" Jaken piped up.

"Here, just take one of the corporate cards, Sailor Moon." Stark dug his wallet out of an unexpectedly quite expensive suit. It was then Loki noticed how well-groomed Stark looked. He noticed the way he sat directly opposite Sesshomaru and leaned in to give the plastic credit card to him. Even Loki could smell the subtle whiff of cologne on Stark.

"...I prefer to barter." Sesshomaru answered, tone placid but eyes crinkling just a bit in mirth.

'Oh. Oh this was going to be interesting!' Loki drummed his fingers on the table. Perhaps this patchwork alliance with this hodgepodge of misfits could bring him amusement yet.

"You're impossible! Keep your goat heads and teeth, let's see how far that will take you." Stark pushed his chair back from the table in fake offense. Romanoff's eyes lit up, recognizing the same thing he did.

His best friend, and the man he threw out a window, were flirting with each other. Loki felt his dormant magic surge, devising shenanigans.

Chapter Text

Sesshomaru and the Microwave

*(*

Sitting on his tower of crates in the final moments before dawn, Sesshomaru surmised that the past four days went rather productively. He had continued to vaguely torment Stark, while tactfully avoiding most of the other humans and Storm God. He made sure he had a lock on Loki's, Rin's, and Jaken's whereabouts at all times.

He had spent the nights conversing with Jarvis over the historical and technical documents and manuals he requested while watching over a sleeping Rin, Jaken and Loki. Sesshomaru had not liked the way the dinner at the restaurant went five nights prior. He had a sneaking suspicion Loki was hiding much from him.

Sesshomaru also, with Jarvis' help, he was successful in locating a music device, as to research the musical artists Polly provided him.

He meticulously studied the artists and ranked them in order of preference and quality, with Nirvana at the top, then Michael Jackson, followed closely by Whitney Houston, far last were The Counting Crows.

His ears stung and throbbed, but Sesshomaru always kept his word.

The days went about the same, he took Rin to the Park and the Happy Dragon ice cream shop. Thor's friends and Loki were on tentatively good terms, however Loki would often go off on his own for periods of time and Sesshomaru couldn't fault him for wanting to do so. Loki did, however, accompany him, Rin and Jaken multiple times to the park.

He also learned that Stark had the ability to track Loki's magic signature, and his own youki if he kept it at a certain level or higher. While impressive the human Stark could be such an effective tracker in this realm, Sesshomaru knew he could suppress his youki enough to render his device unusable.

Loki, however could not do the same with his own magic which Loki confessed to Sesshomaru the night after the steakhouse dinner when Sesshomaru interrogated Loki on how Stark managed to locate them.

His inability to completely conceal his magic surprised Sesshomaru because he had mastered that skill when he knew him.

It didn't truly matter, however, because Sesshomaru had a backup tactic in place: his proximity barrier. It interfered with any tracking entity, device or otherwise, in pursuing Loki.

He, admittedly, did not anticipate having to rely on that aspect of his barrier for an extended period of time. He did not wish for any potential enemy, or the Distant Realm's all-seeing sentry, to interfere with his initial interrogation of Loki in case the God did, for an unfathomable reason did betray him.

Yet, now he would have to ensure the barrier remained up at all times to prevent their Commander Fury from discovering Loki.

That entire day, five days' prior, the shapeshifting, the scrying, the dinner, Sesshomaru had not cared for any of it. He had a sneaking suspicion Loki was hiding much from him.

He had ascertained that Loki been wounded more gravely than he appeared when they sparred on the helipad, which is why he went easy on him. Some of his injuries seemed quite sinister indeed, sinister not just in the physical.

Either the justice in the Distant Realm fell hard and swift, or Loki had committed a terrible atrocity he had not yet confessed. Sesshomaru suspected the former; he could not admit to being terribly fond of the King of Distant Realm of Asgard. His gleaming favor of his eldest son always struck him peculiar and shortsighted; it only bred conflict and discontent.

Sesshomaru disliked the Distant Realm of Asgard the few times he went, especially the one time Loki was ambushed when Thor was absent.

***

"Thor isn't here to protect you, God of Trickery, Mischief and Lies. You've deceived and made fools of us for the last time." Sesshomaru heard a stern, hotly arrogant voice spike from deep in the forest.

This piqued Sesshomaru interest, even though he had been in Asgard with his father on a negotiation mission for the sovereignty of their own lands and realm for five days; he had not seen nor located Loki for his stay thus far. It had disappointed Sesshomaru, Loki was the only reason he anticipated being in Asgard.

Sesshomaru loathed Asgard. He distrusted the gaudy prettiness and their false smiles. He knew they all saw him as Thor originally did, a weak, bloodthirsty, savage simply being humored by their King. Their condescension was thinly veiled and he suspected the only reason they did not send them packing was his father had Sounga, the Sword of Hell.

He had caught many an Aesir regarding Sounga like one would either a trophy to be snatched, or an evil to be destroyed.

Presently, it sounded like Loki got himself into trouble again. Sesshomaru strode towards the forest, to assess the situation.

"Your pathetic woman's arts and strength is a disgrace upon the Aesir! You've gone too far this time changing Sif's hair from blonde to sepia brown!" Sesshomaru continued to walk at a leisurely pace towards the commotion. He knew that the other Aesir in the area could not hear their harsh whispers but being a Dog Demon he could.

Seems that Loki had pranked that Shield Maiden who took a shine to Thor so. Perhaps out of envy, he knew Loki at one time yearned for her favor.

"As I claimed I tried—ahh!" Sesshomaru heard Loki cry out in pain. "I tried to change it back but they wouldn't assist me!" Sesshomaru ears flicked up. Were these Aesir tormenting Loki instead of merely confronting him? Sesshomaru did not usually white knight anyone, however from what he could smell, there were five Aesir and Loki. Not a fight, but an ambush. He crept closer.

"We are sick of your constant lies! Your blatant envy of Thor does nothing but cause trouble and strife for everyone else. It is not Thor's fault he holds your father's appeal, but your own! We are going to do you a favor, we will help you not act out. Maybe if we took away your ability to get yourself into such mischief you can learn to be a better Aesir." A third voice, thick with malice, sounded out. He didn't particularly like the sound of that. It sounded very much like a promise, not just a threat.

Sesshomaru smelled pine, Loki's magic. He increased his pace, he had to be close to them now, he could clearly smell their individual body odors, their oiled leather and armors. Warriors, five of them. He smelled metal, they were armed. Sesshomaru leapt through the trees, he smelled blood and no longer heard Loki.

"Don't worry Loki, this is really for your own good." Sesshomaru came upon them finally. Loki was being held down by four fully grown warriors, their faces crinkled in hilarity and falsely vindicated violence.

All of Loki's clothes had been torn off, ripped, and thrown across the glade in multiple directions.

The fifth has a needle and thread, and had already punctured one hole in Loki's bottom lip, one guard had his jaw slammed shut. Sesshomaru's eyes sliced over to the fifth warrior and with a flick of a striped wrist the needle and thread were melted from the warriors' hand with a noxious green whip.

Inexcusable. He is your Prince. He is my friend. You will all kneel.

"Oh, so your little bitch Demon has come to—" Sesshomaru let loose an invisible flash of killing intent followed by a glimmering red youki wave. All their eyes went wide, including Loki's.

"This Sesshomaru is no woman." And that's all Sesshomaru really remembered because his talons lashed out of his fingers like daggers, his mouth spread open in a wide, wicked, knifed smile. His blood red eyes saw no mercy and his markings promised pain. While he didn't transform into his true form, he couldn't be certain he remained fully in his humanoid form either when his Demon blood took over.

His bloodlust was only satiated when the glade, and himself were soaked in blood. The trees had been strung with sinew, skin, hair, and shredded leather. Sesshomaru tilted his head to the side, he had never cut down warriors of this caliber so quickly, and so thoroughly. He looked down at Loki who stared at him blankly as if he saw a specter.

"You are their Prince, and they should not have addressed me as such." Sesshomaru justified, flicking blood off his claws. This would set back negotiations between his father and the Aesir for a long while yet. Sesshomaru detested the idea of having to tell his father of his work, the warriors had been reduced to flakes of flesh and shards of bone. Sesshomaru frowned.

"I will tell Allfather a great beast, not unlike a Draugr, slew them. We together survived it and it vanished. It isn't a true lie." Loki stood up, magicking on some clothes with a spoken spell. He looked a bit pale and Sesshomaru had no answers for him.

"…very well. After that let us go practice calligraphy." Sesshomaru nodded, planning on letting Loki do most of the talking. It wasn't like anyone would believe he alone cut down five Aesir warriors himself anyway.

Well, perhaps they would. He was nothing but a bloodthirsty savage to them after all.

***

Sesshomaru, to this day never figured out what exactly happened in that fight. Loki never spoke of it again. It never happened since and he suspected Tenseiga, and his training had much to do with that. He still resented that his father never told him that Loki had crafted Tenseiga's hilt as a gift.

Sesshomaru had no one to ask why he kept such a secret from him, except looking back he may have rejected such a gift, thinking Loki a madman for helping construct such a backwards blade.

He had no intention of disclosing or demonstrating to anyone in this realm of Tenseiga's true nature. Not even Loki knew of its true capabilities of resurrection. In this realm, due to the documents provided by Jarvis and his own observations, humans had certainly produced powerful and lethal weapons in their revolution of industry.

If Thor's friends, commander Fury, or any human Lord learned of his Tenseiga, they would covet him. They would attempt to take Tenseiga for their own gain, and Sesshomaru knew, while powerful, he would eventually lose a war of attrition against an entire realm. The thought humbled Sesshomaru, and caused a raking, scraping feeling in his gut.

Sesshomaru would have never thought he would have to be this cautious of humans. In his own time, they would have no hope in attempting to steal his birthright, his blessed and cursed gift from his friend.

'They would use Rin and Jaken against me. Using Tenseiga would put them in peril and I have learned my lesson that any action involving Tenseiga is not worth risking Rin's life.' Sesshomaru promised himself, restless with fragmented thoughts. Sesshomaru didn't require much in the way of sleep so he stood guard during a most unremarkable evening on the fourth night.

It was most unremarkable, as most of the nights were, save the night of the steakhouse dinner.

The night of the steakhouse, around 1:17 am, Sesshomaru heard someone approach the door of their quarters. Perched high atop his stack of crates, he watched Barton the archer, sans bow, enter the room. He smelled of human spirits. Barton looked around, then up to him, face unreadable.

Sesshomaru didn't smell malicious intent from Barton as he watched a sleeping Loki, propped up against a crate, with Rin curled up in his lap, both wrapped in his pelt. Jaken flopped on his side next to them.

His ears picked up the tired, whispered phrase "I just don't get it." Before he turned to leave.

Strange human, but his plan was working. He and Romanoff departed in the Quinjet for some sort of meeting with the Commander Fury that next morning. He heard the jet fire up and roar off into the dawn sky four mornings ago.

Which brought him to early morning, the fifth day, and this time he decided he would try to investigate the cooking nook of the tower instead of merely bartering or hunting food for Rin. It was also the day that Barton and Romanoff were due back from their time with Fury.

He found that Rogers was already up, properly dressed, eating an assortment of unknown human foods.

"You're protective of them." He heard Rogers speak and Sesshomaru ignored him, he didn't explain himself.

Sesshomaru, however, was at a loss. This new human food perplexed him. He opened a metal door, nothing inside.

"That's the oven." Rogers supplied, forking what may be some flat bread into his mouth.

Sesshomaru tried again.

"That's the icebox...I mean refrigerator. What are you looking for?" Rogers stood up, and Sesshomaru eyed him blankly.

"Look, I can relate to what you're going through sorta. I was frozen for seventy years in ice and when I came out everything was different. The girl I loved didn't really know who I was and was obviously old. Everything as I knew it was gone or different, and everything I did seemed just off and people assumed I was uneducated. I don't look down on you for it." Rogers monologued and Sesshomaru saw it as his attempt to relay he neither pitied nor patronized him.

So, against his better judgment, Sesshomaru indulged him.

"I know…once knew someone who was pinned to a tree by a sacred arrow for fifty years." Sesshomaru opened a cabinet finding plates and bowls, useful for future knowledge.

"We should start a club or a support group." Steve looked at Sesshomaru in an attempt at humor.

"He was pinned there by a priestess with whom he had a romantic relationship. They allowed themselves to be deceived by a manipulative Half-Demon." Sesshomaru finally found something that looked like food...Prego? It was some sort of paste, He most likely required noodles for this to be suitable for Rin's consumption.

"What happened?" Rogers leaned forward, all brawn and strength.

"The priestess perished from her wounds. He was eventually released by the priestess' reincarnation. The original priestess was reanimated by the Half-Demon as a clay incarnation and united they fought and slew the Half-Demon." Sesshomaru left himself out of the story for obvious reasons and found peaches. More suitable, but unable to be combined with this Prego most likely.

"That's um quite a tale. Glad he's OK." Rogers took a spoonful of his gruel.

'Was OK.' Sesshomaru corrected to himself, gathering peaches, Prego and olives. Encased in crystal and metal, he was unable to discern how this Prego smelled. He would investigate these food items and get Jaken to prepare something for Rin.

"Son of Taisho! Steve Rogers! Good morn!" Thor greeted as he strutted into the kitchen, all golden smiles, opening a cabinet and grabbing a new box of pop tarts, ripping it open.

"Morning Thor!" Rogers waved back, eating a piece of tubed meat of some unknown origin.

"Allow me to assist with breaking your fast!" Thor grabbed the Prego from the counter and opened a strange box, threw the crystal container and four shiny packets of Pop Tarts inside and pressed a button. Sesshomaru began to scour the kitchen for more useful items, secretly relieved at the Storm God knew how to prepare the Prego.

"Thor I don't think you can put those types of containers in that microwave oven." Rogers warned. Sesshomaru heard the device whir more loudly and became suspicious.

"Nonsense! Jane has instructed me that pastry of toasters can indeed be placed in the oven of small waves!" Thor proudly retorted, turning his back on the device. Sesshomaru smelled smoke.

"Yes, however, I think she meant you had to remove them fro-" Sesshomaru saw lightning in the device, then fire, then he dodged the booming explosion with a quick dive behind the counter Rogers was eating his meal upon.

His ears, already sensitive, popped and rang. The lights in the kitchen went dark with another cracking pop.

"Thor!" Rogers protested, covered in red sauce along with most of the room and Thor's back.

The device was no longer on fire but appeared inoperable. Sesshomaru barely managed to escape unscathed from the red sauce. He would never again trust Storm God to assist in Rin's meals. He would barter outside for her meal today. Sesshomaru stood straight, taking in the slop that covered the walls. It smelled of tomatoes and fire.

His ears hurt, and he felt his balance off.

"I do correct myself Steve Rogers." Thor, humbled, turned to the defeated device. Sesshomaru could barely hear them.

"...of course you would! Capsicle you're fired as my babysitter." Sesshomaru almost jumped in surprise when Stark appeared beside him in nothing but a tunic bottom. He barely heard him!

The human had good muscle definition, and his hair stuck up at odd angles. Sesshomaru studied the lines of his shoulder blades and the curve of his jaw.

"You." Stark pointed at Sesshomaru. "This is somehow your fault...is this tomato sauce? What were you trying to make? 'Blood of my enemies huevos rancheros?' You must be a SHIELD plant to purposely annoy me." Stark, exasperated, put a hand through his hair. Sesshomaru winced visibly, his ears simply stung and his voice echoed strangely in his skull.

"...you are indecently dressed." Sesshomaru observed and Stark's face flushed. Sesshomaru tried to refrain from moving his ears, he couldn't hear much.

"My tower, my rules. When you become a billionaire, you can wear what you want." Stark retorted, putting his hands on his hips, avoiding stepping in the paste that coated the floor along with the broken glass.

"Twas not the fault of Son of Taisho! I misunderstood the instruction of the oven of small waves as ordained by Jane." Thor took a finger and licked some of the sauce from himself. He shrugged as he knelt down to pick up some of the broken glass.

"Life must be cashing in all my bad karma at once. Clean this up, Jarvis reset the circuit breaker for the kitchen." Stark ordered and turned back and looked to Rogers and Sesshomaru. "You two clean yourselves up, you two look like a bad Vietnam War documentary." Stark motioned to another room, Sesshomaru assumed the room must be where these humans bathed since he had yet to find a suitable hot spring or clean stream or river. A strange fortress this tower.

"This Sesshomaru does not have any Prego on his person. I will bathe at my leisure." Sesshomaru informed, not taking any personal hygiene orders from Stark, despite it being his fortress.

"Oh yeah, what's this?!" Sesshomaru shivered as Stark's warm finger slid down his neck and mimicked what Thor did earlier and licked his finger. Sesshomaru shimmied slightly from the unexpected contact. His touch positively ignited his youki.

Stark's face twisted in revulsion.

"Oh what in Einstein's hell did I just do? Is this blood?! I hate mornings...Jarvis run a hepatitis and vampirism test! Why are your ears even bleeding?!" Stark fumed, stalking about the kitchen in a circle before locking eyes with an amused Sesshomaru. Sesshomaru managed an upward quirk of a lip despite the pain.

His ears had finally burst. It irked Sesshomaru to show such a weakness, but he had assumed it would happen eventually.

"Son of Taisho! I should have known earlier your ears would be sensitive to this realm. I am sorry to have wounded you. I am most reckless." Thor went to Sesshomaru's side, Sesshomaru used his youki to heal his ears temporarily.

'I will need to find a means to use my hearing, without restricting it completely or this will simply be a regular hindrance.' Sesshomaru's ears lowered in thought.

"Your Peter Pan ears are sensitive to sound?" Stark, suddenly interested, went on his tip toes to examine them. Sesshomaru felt slightly self-conscious, Stark's hot breath tickled his neck and ears.

"Aye. Dog Demons possess highly tuned ears and noses. This realm is much louder than to what he is accustomed." Sesshomaru groaned inwardly. Thor was not conducive keeping weaknesses to himself.

"You're a Dog Demon? They have different types of Demons?!" Rogers piped up. Stark regarded him with interest.

"...you think Jaken and I are the same?" Sesshomaru's eyebrows rose.

"No. I guess I didn't think about it. The Demons I learned about all had horns." Rogers pondered and Stark crossed his arms in thought.

"I can help your ears." Stark smiled and Sesshomaru's eyes widened. Did he just offer his assistance to this Sesshomaru willingly? Sesshomaru blinked.

"I do not accept assistance, especially from humans." Sesshomaru responded, but he must have looked interested because Stark insisted.

"Pffft. A little late for that sleeping beauty, I have camera evidence of me carrying you down to your beloved Substorage room 3-b. Give me like, an hour tops and I'll knock your socks off." Stark winked and Sesshomaru decided, again, against his better judgment, to let the human do as he pleased.

"...do as you please. This Sesshomaru will indeed bathe." Sesshomaru turned from the group and went to the room Stark motioned to and eventually found an enormous wash basin. After a few tries he discovered that it was indeed an indoor hot spring.

How clever humans had become.

Sesshomaru stripped himself of his human clothes, hoping Lady Potts would return today as promised with his own clothes from the mysterious dry cleaners, and slipped into the warm water, submerging himself. The still water lapped at his toned, slender frame like a lake would.

Or a pool.

"Sesshomaruuuuuuu." Ripple. His name. His talons shot out reflexively.

Sesshomaru shot up out of the basin, panicked. Water sloshed everywhere and he found himself panting, his eyes wide and pupils' mere pinpricks. He looked down and saw it was just water. Just. Water.

He drained the basin.

It took him a bit longer to figure out how to work the rain attachment. He much preferred that to the tub. He even found potions which had lesser potent and nice scents, and washed himself thoroughly, including his long silver hair.

"Hey Sailor Moon did you drown?!" Sesshomaru heard a voice from the door. Stark? His ears still rang despite his healing them. Sesshomaru put on just his jeans, his shirt still wet from when the water lapped out of the basin he previously filled.

He, soaking wet silver hair and all, opened the door to both Stark and the Berserker. His long silver hair hung heavy, shining, and wet down his back and over his shoulders. He brushed aside his soaking bangs.

"This Sesshomaru is a strong swimmer." Sesshomaru responded, standing tall beside the door jamb. He noticed they were starting at him. These insufferable humans from this realm! Just what was so unusual about him? Were there truly no Demons or beings like him in this realm?

"Ahem...Well look who is indecently dressed now, Stripes." Stark still stared at him and Sesshomaru looked down at his magenta markings arcing down over his hip bones, flanking a trail of silver body hair going up to his navel. He had a matching pair that raced up over his ribs towards his chest. In a flare of blue youki, Sesshomaru's long hair swirled in the air and dried.

"Women across America would kill to dry their hair like that. Also I'd advise to not let Thor make you breakfast." The Berserker grinned at Stark, and Sesshomaru decided Berserker was most level-headed when not in battle.

"Agreed." Sesshomaru deadpanned. Stark struggled with something in his hands, almost dropping it. He did not seem the clumsy type. Odd.

"Here. I am a genius. I call them 'hear ain'ts'...because they're basically reverse engineered hearing aids. You put them on your ears and, uh, you can adjust them and yeah. They'll dampen the sounds you hear." Stark handed him two small devices and rubbed the back of his neck. Sesshomaru assessed them and decided they did not seem to be much of a threat.

He attached them on his ears carefully, waiting for a trap. However, he was most surprised.

Not even Sesshomaru couldn't stop the small, genuine smile that lit his face. Even though it was just the slightest upward curve of his lips, he knew Stark and the Berserker caught it. His ears wiggled in approval regardless. His gold eyes danced, these devices were perfect.

It had been a while since he received such aid without any obvious angle or ulterior motive. These humans in this realm were quite different indeed.

"I take it that they work since that's the only like, positive emotion I've seen from you. Also yeah, Dog Demon, ear wiggling, checks out." Stark all but stammered, pursing his lips together.

"...this Sesshomaru finds himself indebted to you. You may request of me something equivalent for compensation." Sesshomaru's voice sounded a touch soft. Stark's jaw dropped, not seeing that coming. Sesshomaru locked his gold eyes with Stark's dark brown ones, denoting he was quite serious.

The Berserker coughed.

"I lack a pertinent request at the moment." Stark threw Sesshomaru's words back at him. Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles. The Berserker laughed.

"Turnabout is fair play Sesshomaru. Though I must ask why Stark has that particular liberty." Loki appeared in a flash of green. Stark and the Berserker went less on guard than Sesshomaru expected. That pleased him, over the past few days they had gotten used to Loki.

Sesshomaru said nothing and tugged on his red shirt over his head.

"Rin Tin Tin's ear drums over here burst when your brother, Point Break, tried to make breakfast." Stark motioned to the kitchen and Loki just looked confused.

"He blew up the microwave trying to heat up foil and a can of spaghetti sauce." Bruce explained and Loki rubbed his temple.

"...We aren't related by blood." Loki excused.

"Yeah, we know. Anyway, I made these 'hear ain'ts' so Lassie's ears aren't messing with him anymore. Not too much of a market in 'hear ain'ts' but what can I say I'm a philanthropist." Stark shrugged and all the sudden Sesshomaru felt a bit off kilter. So these devices were worthless and he made them anyway for him?

"Oh. Good work Stark." Loki commended, not needing to look to his friend for truth.

Sesshomaru noted Loki was beginning to look more like his old self, vanishing dark circles under his eyes, his skin was no longer milk white. Sesshomaru didn't necessarily envy Loki's more masculine looks, but he did wonder if it was easier. Loki, glamored or not, didn't stand out in this realm as much as he did.

Sesshomaru heard, even with the 'hear ain'ts', Rin from the kitchen and moved past Stark and Loki to locate her. He found her in the spotless kitchen, microwave device fixed, next to a freshly washed Rogers.

"Hey...who fixed the microwave?" The Berserker asked, Stark stood in awe of the cleanliness of the kitchen. Rogers pointed to Loki.

Stark and The Berserker looked to Loki in disbelief.

"If I had known it was Thor who had demolished it I wouldn't have bothered." Loki sighed.

"You two have some Shakespearean sized issues Reindeer Games." Stark said as Lady Potts wearing a professional outfit and a cheerful smile walked in with two shopping bags.

"Oh, hey there! I got Rin some new dresses, and you some new shirts, Happy is getting your dry cleaning at three. I figure Jack can just wear what Tony has forgotten he owns. You just have to uphold your end of the barter." Lady Potts reported and looked all business.

Sesshomaru looked back to Loki, his stare not giving anything away. Loki shifted.

It was over in 1.6 seconds.

He flicking his striped wrist, his toxin whip sprung out and ensnared Loki around the neck with a crack. With an almost feminine body twirl he slung Loki around, back-first through the plate glass window, shattering it. Sesshomaru chased his quarry out with a leap and with a quick kick, fired Loki straight down toward the street below.

Sesshomaru landed back into the room as if nothing had happened.

"Thank you. That was satisfying. Tony I'll bring by some accounts to sign later with the glass guy. I have a board meeting." Lady Potts left with a smile and a wave and Rogers, Stark, and the Berserker looked at Sesshomaru, jaws slack and eyes wide. Sesshomaru tossed his hair.

Loki teleported back into the room.

"What pray tell was that?!" Loki, windswept and with a few cuts, looked wild with outrage.

"A barter." Sesshomaru admitted, a corner of his mouth quirked up. Loki looked in between trying to attack Sesshomaru and joining in the joke.

"You know what, keep bartering. I love poetic justice. I don't know who is scarier you or Pepper." Stark leaned back, hands laced behind his head. Loki continued to give Sesshomaru a scorned look. Sesshomaru, eyes glimmering made eye contact with Stark at his approval.

"I don't think I understand your version of friendship." Rogers gestured to a now composed Loki. Sesshomaru should have shrugged, if he did such things.

"Lord Sesshomaru, when we go get more ice cream can I draw there?! I want to show Polly my new drawings!" Rin asked, dressed in a different sun dress, this one yellow, with her bone and bag of drawing implements. Jaken stood nearby, in his AC/DC hoodie with Tenseiga and Bakusaiga, them both thrumming in their tubes.

"Do as you wish Rin. We shall depart." Sesshomaru retrieved Tenseiga and Bakusaiga from Jaken.

"Hey, hate to break up another wonderful single parent PSA, but when Nat and Clint come back from waxing Fury's shoes you're up. No pressure Sailor Moon. Just if you fail to impress or convince us we will send your favorite God of Calamity up river, or to SHIELD, or to maybe Azkaban." Stark's words were playful, but his tone was cement heavy.

Everyone turned to Sesshomaru, Loki's clear eyes shined with an emotion Sesshomaru identified as trepidation.

Pause.

"You anticipate this Sesshomaru's opinion." Sesshomaru leveled a hard, reaching gaze at Loki, the Berserker, Rogers and finally Stark. "I have decided I will provide it to you. Come Rin, Jaken." Sesshomaru stated simply with a swish of hair he began to put on his jacket, boots and of course aviators. Jaken and Rin followed close behind.

"And people say I have a big ego." Stark muttered. Sesshomaru flipped down his aviators in response.

"...I think I finally understand how you," The Berserker pointed to a satisfied, if cautious, Loki. "And he stayed friends." And with that Loki's face blossomed with a wickedly amused smile.

"We're both burdened with glorious arrogance." Sesshomaru heard Loki state as he left for the elevator with Rin and Jaken, still Jack in tow. As they stepped outside his ears twitched up, appreciative of the device. He could hear perfectly. Stark's ingenuity and intelligence impressed him greatly, especially not knowing of his kind. And he created the device only for him.

Over the past few days Jaken had been successful in asking humans, which resulted in two more communication codes, where they could find certain places in Central Park, along with substitute ice cream shops if Rin tired of the first one. The first one suggested a large vendor, which sold many flavors of ice cream, a mere half a kilometer from his current position, however it had many screaming human children inside.

Absolutely not.

The human, Jason Sisson, who recommended the first shop they went to, remained the one they decided to regularly frequent. Perhaps when he acquired his own communication device he would inquire about this modelling, he was most helpful thus far.

Sesshomaru continued to go back to the ice cream shop to inform Polly on his opinions of the musical artists. He appreciated Polly's affection for Rin as well as her ability to communicate with her. Polly indicated her parents had travelled from where his lands are currently, to this metropolis. They both shared a similar distaste for their current surroundings.

"Lord Sesshomaru, Rin thinks Uncle Loki didn't like the mint chocolate chip! We will have to find him another flavor. And I promised Stark I would get him chocolate since he helped you. Chocolate is his favorite, but it is not Rin's. I think I will try strawberry today!" Rin skipped, swinging her bone, causing certain humans to regard her strangely.

Rin decided they would bring back ice cream for the rest since today Barton and Romanoff would be back from their excursion.

"Rin, Lord Sesshomaru cares not which human enjoys which ice cream flavor!" Jaken, still Jack replied and Sesshomaru quirked an eyebrow at him.

"You dare speak for what I enjoy Jaken?" Sesshomaru's voice, though placid, held slight warning.

"No! Never Lord Sesshomaru, I just merely want to state you need not concern yourself over such things!" Jaken jumped and Sesshomaru smirked as he opened the door to the shop, the bell above the door announcing their entry. Being a cool time in the year, and with similar establishments surrounding them, they found themselves being only one of three parties in the store.

"Welcome to Happy Dragon Ice cream shop, our daily special flavor i-oh it's you again Mr. Mysterious, How's kicks?" Polly spun around, due to her not facing the door upon their arrival.

Polly did not appear as most humans in this realm did, and in fact appeared more like a Demon.

She had many markings and intricate designs across her neck, legs, and arms. She called them tattoos and she was not born with them, but instead had someone mark her with them. Her hair was stained purple, and stood in a crest above her head not unlike some Bird Demons he once knew. She also wore many metal rings on her eye brows, ears and lips, which, to his surprise, were not a mark of a warrior.

She was short, perhaps only coming to his upper arm, and much more slender than many of the plump humans he saw walking about the metropolis. Today she wore dark red lip paint and grey powder on her eyes.

"Hello Polly! Rin is going to practice with Jaken, who is now Jack in the store! I am also going to draw you a picture! I am going to draw you Ah-Un, he is a two headed dragon, and the others today!" Rin scampered up to the counter and jumped up and down. Sesshomaru allowed his gaze to soften.

"Ah, sounds rad Rin, I can't wait to see your Dragon, it sucks he isn't here with you, but to be honest, I don't think New York could handle a Dragon right now, much less one with two heads." Polly responded in the language Rin understood and she nodded.

Rin placed her bag of drawing implements at a nearby table, away from the furthest customers in the store. Rin drew her bone and descended upon Jaken with it, who used Tenseiga's tube to block. His staff of two heads attracted undue attention the last time they were in the shop.

"So Mr. Mysterious, let me guess, your favorite was Michael Jackson, right?" Polly leaned against the counter as Sesshomaru approached it, continuing to talk in the language of his lands.

"This Sesshomaru ranked the following musical artists as such: Nirvana, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and furthest down the Crow band." He reported, showing her the paper he had written. He was practicing writing the script of this realm, it came to him easier than expected.

"Oh wow. Didn't peg you for a grunge fan, but I can respect that. I'll suggest some similar bands, and some that I feel like you'd like as well. You also look like you're in a much better mood, Cookie dough and Mint Chocolate Chip doing alright?" Polly asked, taking another piece of paper from behind her cash box and began to scribble.

"They live. The one who received the Mint Chocolate Chip desires another flavor. Perhaps another green one. He did not eat it, however at the time he had been shot with many arrows." Sesshomaru reported and Polly looked up in slight horror.

"Damn, that's a tough beat; I got some lime sherbet. Tell Mint Chocolate Chip he needs chiller friends, or to stay out of cars. Crossbows are like, the second most used weapon in road rage next to golf clubs. Trust me on that one. One piercer at the tattoo shop I apprentice at got shot at once by some psycho with one when he was driving through Jersey." Polly informed, she was a wealth of information, though he doubted Barton fired haphazardly at vehicles.

"I do not like these vehicles. I have ridden in one, they are abhorrent and smell of human waste." Sesshomaru wrinkled his nose. Polly laughed, her voice a smoky alto.

"Oh, been in a taxi have you? Get your friends Cookie Dough and Mint Chocolate Chip to try Uber, it's a lot better, but I agree, it's why I bike everywhere. Once I become a licensed Tattoo Artist and save up I'll be out of here, go somewhere smaller, maybe Austin." Polly watched Rin land a hit on Jaken, the other customers left the store in a hurry.

"You're so lucky you're in New York where a Japanese girl beating another kid with a bone is something that happens on the reg. Why are you here in New York anyway? You totally seem more of a West Coast kind of guy. Like Malibu or the O.C." Polly asked, looking up to him, fidgeting with one of her many rings.

"The one you refer to as Mint Chocolate Chip brought me here to aid him in a quest. I know not for how long I will reside here, but I pray too it will not be too long. I rather not deal with these humans for too much longer." Sesshomaru admitted carelessly, eyes widening slightly when he realized his mistake in referring to the people of this realm as humans. He stiffened visibly, muscles flexing under his shirt.

"Mr. Mysterious, it's ok. While most people who live here might think you just have some crazy bod mods, I can tell straight up you aren't human. Those markings on your face are way too precise to be from a tattoo gun, and I know your eyes aren't contacts. Your ears too? No way. You're also like, just, like, really pointy and pretty. Listen, whatever you are, I don't care. We had aliens come out of the sky like, three years ago so we get it. We aren't alone, yadda yadda. I won't tell anyone your dirty little secret, not even my girlfriend." Polly admitted, and Sesshomaru relaxed, and, yet again today, against his better judgment, he decided to indulge a human curiosity.

"This Sesshomaru is no alien. This Sesshomaru is a Demon Lord." Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles and taking off his aviators. He showed his talons and locked eyes with hers, testing her.

"Sesshomaru! You have a Japanese name? Killing perfection? Bad ass. And Demon Lord? Hooowee, we totally got the Demon thing wrong, you don't even have horns." Polly smiled wide, straightening up. Sesshomaru's eyes widened slightly, maybe she knew about his kind.

"Have you heard of any other Demons in this region? One may be a Bear Demon named Smokey." He asked and she cackled in laughter, he brought his hand into a fist. She dared mock him?

"Oh wow, sorry, not laughing at you Mr. Mysterious. Smokey the Bear is a made up thing to tell people not to start forest fires. And as for Demons, humans think they're made up. We've never known them to actually exist, outside of religious fanatics or crazy people. You're the first Demon I know of to, well, be real. Sorry. You're welcome to stay here as long as you want, my Mom and Dad aren't working in the shop today so you guys can have the run of it." Polly finished and Sesshomaru refused to let show the shock on his face. So, even a human whose family came from his Lands had encountered no Demons.

'His people, they were not just eradicated in this portion of this time, but apparently across this realm.' Sesshomaru felt his jaw slacken a bit, he nodded in appreciation at Polly's invitation and turned to help Rin with her form and technique.

"Hey, sorry to break it to you like that. I mean who knows, maybe Demons exist somewhere else. Ya know? I gotta break down the freezer and clean it. Watch the store and make sure no one robs it will ya?" Polly gave him a peace sign and disappeared into the walk in freezer. Sesshomaru would guard the ice cream store, if for any reason Polly had become an invaluable source of knowledge outside Storm God's friends.

"Lord Sesshomaru! May Rin draw us with our new human friends?! I'll disguise Mint Chocolate chip, I promise!" Sesshomaru nodded in agreement of her artwork, but not of her assessment of them as 'friends'.

"Oh yeah Rin, draw them, I gotta see what kind of delinquents a Demon Lord rolls with!" He heard Polly call from the freezer and Sesshomaru then debated how valuable she was.

It was then that human Jason Sisson walked into the ice cream shop. Of the Four Lands…

Chapter Text

Tony and the Report Card

*(*

Tony knew he was in trouble. Would he ever admit it? No. He would it take it to his grave, just like most of the unsavory memories of that one trip to Singapore, and a party in Ibiza he went to once involving a Brazilian escort, a motorcycle and a handful of women dressed as the Spice Girls.

The trouble? He may, may, be a bit more than just intrigued by the Demon Lord.

And it wasn't just about the shocking, but not wholly unwelcome steamy dream he had about him last night. Which, was pretty confusing since usually when he usually had dreams, they weren't pleasant. This one, which he was jolted out of by the explosion of his microwave, left him flagpole stiff, and begging for a release he didn't have time for.

Tony rarely felt self-conscious, especially in his own house, but damn if that Demon Lord didn't bring it out of him this morning in the kitchen. He only bolted out of his bed like a greyhound after a rabbit, because he assumed the worst and that someone may have broken his bottle of good scotch, or Loki self-destructed.

'This is what worrying gets people, it's why I let Pepper do it for me. How dare he tell me how I'm dressed in my own house is indecent! And what was I thinking with the neck blood thing?! That's such a creeper thing to do. Who does that? I mean aside from something out of a terrible Anne Rice novel? He is tearing my life apart.' Tony's thoughts ran a mile a minute, taking a seat next to Steve, thinking about what he wanted to eat for breakfast.

Tony had observed Sesshomaru the past few days, the guy was unflappable, except when he melted the forks at the steak restaurant. He wasn't entirely sure what his relationship was exactly with Loki, but he had a feeling they weren't getting hot and heavy in substorage room 3-b. Tony, however, definitely wasn't about to ask them though.

His haughty, better-than-thou attitude combined with his expressionless, calm demeanor completely grated Tony's nerves. However, it at the same time screamed challenge. He had to shake it.

Nothing affected him and he seemed completely uninterested anything to do with the modern era except Central Park and an Ice Cream shop he kept taking Rin to. All this new technology, science, advancements, and constructs and he didn't seem curious in the least. He just drifted through it like it was all beneath him.

Rin following Sesshomaru around like a puppy, Dog Demon reference there, also baffled him. Tony had no idea why they were together, they were like night and day. Jaken followed him around like a groupie, and again, why the stone-cold Sailor Moon tolerated him was, again another mystery.

Tony liked mysteries though, this one, however, definitely more than intrigued him, and that was a problem. This one apparently aroused him.

Sesshomaru, Toady and Little Miss Sunshine had just left, however not before Loki glamored Jaken to the same Japanese boy. Toady threw a tantrum and Sailor Moon smacked him on the head with Rin's bone. Tony, however, was mildly surprised Rin was taking to New York so well considering she looked like she was in tears when they first arrived. Then again, now she had her 'weapon'.

Oh yeah, let's take a deer femur to the ice cream shop. Great parenting Sailor Moon, real low profile. Not that the Demon Lord himself was that low profile, he attracted attention like a lighthouse, which ironically seems to be the last thing that arrogant guy wants.

'And God. I acted like such an uncoordinated jackass when I saw him in the bathroom. The plan was to catch Sailor Moon off guard with my science lab partner in crime and to prove to him he was not above science. Not for him to come out shirtless, showing stripes on places that I didn't even dream of.' Tony thought back to his dream and a dart of heat zig zagged down from his navel.

It was unfair.

'Unfair for him, with his wet merman silver hair, and his stupid six-pack to look so casual and stoic. Like, 'hey world it's time you impressed me!' I felt like I was in high school fumbling with a corsage for prom.' Tony grumbled to himself, looking to see Loki standing around looking awkward as hell.

He could feel Bruce's eyes on him, as if reading his impure thoughts.

"Greetings! I have bathed! Let us properly brea-Brother how grand for you to have joined us!" Thor strode into the room and Tony immediately turned around.

This should be good.

"You know... Why don't I make us some eggs..." Bruce busied himself in the kitchen. Tony truthfully worried about how the Green Rage Monster was going to fare around Bambi doing...well anything other than standing perfectly still without Sailor Moon around.

Could Thor handle Loki in a fight? Yeah, straight up.

Thor was basically every army's dream warrior. Basically, if you were an alien god race, you wanted him on your side. He could definitely beat Loki in a fight, especially with him still recovering from 'Allfather' knows what conditions back in Azkaban.

Could Loki outsmart Thor? Yeah, he already has.

'The outsmarting thing was the worrying part, not that Loki is smarter than a genius like me, but the sneaky crafty stuff is so much work. The effort is really a pain in my ass, which is why if Sailor Moon is legit, will save me a lot of sleepless nights. He's already proven that he can only tolerate so much of Loki's crap.' Tony scratched the back of his neck.

Sleepless nights...heh.

"Yes Thor, here I am." Loki grandly gestured and Tony noticed be was back to wearing his black leather pants and green shirt. Leather pants...who is this guy? Some sorority girl studying abroad for the first time?

Tony had not yet begun to even tackle the issue that was Loki. All evidence pointed that he trusted Loki in what he said, but that the same time, he totally didn't. Loki struck Tony as one of those people who would bend, manipulate, basically fuck with anyone to achieve his goals.

Loki, so far, seemed like the kind of guy to give you razor wire for dental floss if it would make sure he achieved his goal. However, his goal of saving Earth was one Tony could get behind. He had, however, stopped thinking Loki would probably attack him. He just became this wildcard in a stacked deck of cards of misfits that was his tower. Well, all misfits except for himself of course.

"You know I think there is probably a baseball game on." Steve abandoned Tony for the sofa, fumbling awkwardly for the remote. Traitor. His friends abandoned him to the Shakespearian family drama that was Reindeer Games and Point Break.

Why was his life so weird now?

"It is good to see you so well Brother, that is, I am glad you are reunited with your friend, Son of Taisho, despite of circumstances." Thor just hit a foul ball, Tony noted, rubbing his beard.

"We are not brothers, quite literally. And oh yes recovering quite well after Asgard handling me like a treasonous, genocidal snake and my old friend launching me out a window." Loki brooded, but if Tony was any judge of character he could tell Loki was on edge, probably because we told him he wasn't leaving Stark Tower again until we heard strategy from Sailor Moon.

He remembered when Cap said that after Sailor Moon left Loki bristled in agitation, but submitted. Tony got it, he didn't like being told what to do either.

If Tony was a betting man, and he was, he bet that Sesshomaru was keeping closer tabs than others would think on his War Criminal BFF with his proximity barrier thing while out being dad of the year.

"Brother you committed great crimes against Midgard, me, and Asgard. I do not know what possessed you so, for you are not the person I remember." Thor confessed, face flushing in exasperation. Loki rolled his eyes.

"Oh yes. I am quite assuredly not who I used to be." Loki bit cryptically, eyes flashing. Tony reared back a bit, unsure what to do with that reaction. Loki definitely fit the description as 'unbalanced'

"...and it's the top of the 5th inning, bases loaded and Yankees Stadium electric with energy as Harper approaches-" Steve found the game, albeit at full volume. Tony and Bruce welcomed the interruption.

"Hey Tony, Steve how do you want your eggs? And uh Thor, Loki um do you want any?" Mom, Tony meant Bruce, called out

"Scrambled!" Tony answered

"Scrambled is fine." Steve responded, looking far too interested in the baseball game.

"It would be an honor to eat your cooking Banner! Eggs scrambled it is!" Thor rebounded.

"...I am fine...thank you." Loki's electric green eyes darted suspiciously. Ok, Reindeer Games, Bruce isn't going to poison you, damn what is with those two and thinking their food is poisoned? First Sailor Moon on the Quinjet, now Loki and the eggs. Their paranoia is a bit extreme, besides it'd totally be Natasha to poison him, not Bruce.

'I wonder what eggs Sailor Moon would eat. Well if he ate human food. Or 'fare' as his pompous ass calls it. He probably has never even eaten eggs. But that smile. That illegal fucking smile that I caused when I gave him those hear ain'ts. Hear aint's, what was I even thinking with that name? It's not even clever, it's a cheap pun. Hot damn, the way his scary pretty eyes looked into me, the way his lips curled and his ears! They actually moved!' Tony's thoughts drifted.

Tony had to get laid, or find some good porn, with some long haired blondes in it or something, but not the Thor version of long haired blond. Definitely with tribal tattoos. Nineties grunge porn.

Is 'nineties-grunge porn with silver haired gold eyed men striped in tribal tattoos and claws' even searchable on redtube? Well if it isn't...

'No. No. No. No. No. Bad Tony. I know you love bad ideas, and bucking the rules but seducing a Demon Lord is out of the question. Especially one who has a bizarrely close bromance with public enemy number one. Even for a hit it and quit it.' Tony jolted in surprise when a plate of eggs slid in front of him.

"I thought I smelled something burning, I knew it wasn't my eggs." Bruce grinned. Bastard.

They must have all been looking for a scapegoat for attention. Well, it is what Tony Stark does best.

"Yeah, I was thinking what proof do we have that our dear Demon Lord is that great of a strategist? Like, we only know are that he studied it. Do we have like a report card, SAT score, community college ID? If we are to ensure that the 'Sesshoki' power couple isn't going to lie and kill us all-"

"Sesshoki?! By the nines….and Sesshomaru doesn't lie. You can accuse me of a great many things, but what Sesshomaru says will come to pass." Loki seethed from sitting on the floor, apparently unwilling to sit in a chair. What is with them and furnishings?!

"Yeah. Liesmith? You could be lying about him remember?" Tony rolled his eyes, shoveling a forkful of eggs into his mouth. Loki darkened on the floor.

"And another run batted in by the Washington Nationals!" Steve deflated, clearly a Yankees fan.

"...Son of Taisho is indeed a brilliant general. He defended his lands during a time of great duress." Thor said instantly, inhaling his eggs. That piqued Tony's interest. Tony had noticed over the past few days that Sailor Moon and Point Break weren't exactly friends. Well, Thor probably thought of Sailor Moon as one, Tony severely doubted that the feeling was mutual since Sesshomaru avoided him.

Well, avoided everyone except Tony. He had always been on Tony's periphery, they had baited each other a few times into more question games. At one point Tony had returned to see Jaken wearing another of Tony's Black Sabbath hoodies. When he fought Jaken over it, by principle, it was his tower afterall, Sesshomaru stated, verbatim "It suits Jaken better." Seriously?! He was saying his own hoodie looked better on Toady. That stuck up bastard.

"Oh, so he has actual experience defending against an attack?" Bruce snapped Tony out of his thoughts. Bruce suddenly seemed interested, as he washed the frying pan.

Thor looked to Loki, and Loki gestured wildly with hands, green fairy lights appeared and morphed into a full color image of a guy who looked of like their near and dear Demon Lord.

Only he had his hair up, and bangs weren't as neat. His skin was darker and overall face appeared more rough and masculine. His face tattoos were the wrong color and also too thick and jagged and only one on them each cheek. No moon either, and his eyes were far more expressive under dark eyebrows. His chin also didn't have that tantalizing point to it.

Well, now that he thought about it, the only things similar to him were his hair and eye color.

Thor looked to Loki, deferring to him to talk, and Loki sighed heavily.

"They won't believe a thing I say!" Loki hung his head dramatically, dark long hair falling around him. He could spice up any reality TV show with his actions. Maybe 'Bad Girls Club'

"...ah...yes. This was Inu no Taisho, Sesshomaru's father, a great Lord and General." Thor gestured, Tony could see some resemblance, but it was if Sesshomaru was a much more refined, elegant version. If they were weapons, Sesshomaru would be the B-2 bomber, all sharp and stealth, and his father would be the f-18, all rugged and flashy. Tony knew weapons after all.

"Forgive me friends, this is an old tale, one known better to my brother than I, but I shall do my best to give it it's due accuracy." Thor cleared his throat of eggs.

"You see friends, Lord Inu no Taisho and my father were friends for centuries. They met when the he wished to expand the education of his generals, advisors, and son. Asgard had relations at the time with Demons, just not with humans. My father, along with others from the other nine realms decided to conduct tournaments and tutoring opportunities for their children on Midgard. Inu no Taisho, Lord of the West, was a famous General and a fearsome fighter." Thor explained and Loki moved his fingers as if weaving something into Odin and Inu no Taisho together.

"Inu no Taisho, eventually began a dalliance with a human noble named…Izayoi? Yes. Izayoi. The Western Lands were entangled in a time of war and strife, suffering attacks from both the Northern and Eastern lands." Thor began, and even Steve looked interested, probably because his Yankees sucked this season.

"However, Inu no Taisho, with his great prowess and ferocity, was able to rebuff these attacks. These times are when we knew Son of Taisho. War and conflict is all Son of Taisho knew growing up in the Western Lands. His father's dalliance resulted in Izayoi being with child." Tony decided to study Loki during this, but all he did was maintain the hologram, and look at the ground.

"This coupling was to many people's disappointment. Dog Demons are known to be quite loyal and Half-Demons were not tolerated but great Inu no Taisho cared not!" Tony heard Loki scoff slightly, the image altering to a great dragon.

"Lord Inu no Taisho, in order to save his son to be Inuyasha, and Izayoi, left his castle to save them from a great dragon, whose name escapes me." Thor admitted, but was a pretty good story teller in his own right. Tony thought he had to get Sailor Moon to tell another one about Loki soon.

"Ryokuutsei." Loki supplied, voice dim. Tony could tell he wasn't having a whole lot of fun talking about Sailor Moon's past.

"The knight saves the maiden from the dragon, we've heard this one before." Steve turned off the massacre of a baseball game.

"...not quite. During their mighty battle, Sesshomaru, Son of Taisho was named Lord Regent until Inu no Taisho's return. Their enemies seized this opportunity of supposed weakness and allied to invade the Western Lands while their Lord was off gallivanting." Thor's voice darkened as he finished his eggs and Tony didn't feel hungry anymore.

"Many deemed Sesshomaru not ready to lead, despite his acclaim and intelligence. Allfather stated to us his father tested his son with this scenario to see if he was fit to be Lord. When the Northern and Eastern armies conducted a pincer attack, not only did many of his forces defect, surrender or run, but all of Son of Taisho's family: Uncles, Aunts, Cousins and friends challenged him for his title of Lord Regent, a right they did not have." At this point, the image Loki conjured had morphed into a burning horizon, spears, blood, swords and corpses everywhere.

"Fun for the whole family." Tony heard himself say. Christ, talk about family drama, definitely rivals Point Break and Reindeer Games.

"Sesshomaru was forced to slay anyone who challenged his rule, his own kin and friends. He then had to defend the Western Lands against near impossible odds, the enemy armies coupled outnumbering the lingering forces three to one." Thor looked uncomfortable, he kept looking to Loki who didn't look back.

"Wait, he had to kill his own family? And conduct a defense of his homeland at the same time?" Steve questioned, finally touching his eggs.

"Aye, I once met some of those relatives and friends, fine Demons, however the lust of power tainted their minds and poisoned their hearts." Thor looked to Loki, who just, again changed the illusion to a miserable, gut strewn battlefield with a deft movement of fingers.

"Talk about family feud." Bruce leaned back against the counter, and Tony knew it was his queue to say something witty but couldn't think of anything.

"Against all odds, Sesshomaru defended his stronghold against the invading forces. Allfather states he utilized spies to cut off their supply routes, and various fire attacks to isolate the vanguard from the cavalry. He even managed to flood a whole section of the battlefield, behind the fire attacks, rendering their siege towers and catapults useless in mud or rotting. He even poisoned the water supply of their archers by his own hand. Lastly, he challenged the Lord of the Eastern Lands, a great Tiger Demon...named..." Thor trailed, eyes going off and up to the left.

"Lord Huto." Loki helped, smirking slightly.

"Aye, and decapitated him in front of his own army." Thor smiled, flicking his fork across his throat.

Loki finally conjured an image of a slightly younger Sesshomaru, eyes like a dead flame, covered in gaping lacerations. His left ear hung limply on his head, nearly torn off, fresh blood covering the left side of his face and neck. His mouth a straight line of ice. In his right hand he held a head by the hair, roughly hacked off at the neck, and he held it up high. With fire and smoke in the background he looked like a Demon the Bible described, sans horns and wicked smile.

"He even put the head in one of his own catapults and launched it back at their retreating forces." Loki laughed, and Tony couldn't tell if thinking that move was badass now got him a membership at 'Sociopaths 'R Us'.

"And this guy is living in my basement. I'll have to hide my catapults." Tony admitted lamely, still trying to rectify the wet and smiling silver haired man in his bathroom earlier today, with this gruesome version.

'But hey, didn't I do the same before Afghanistan, just with more explosions and less claws? Is what we did really that dissimilar? I just didn't personally have the blood on me, well, until I became Iron Man' Tony self-reflected, not a talent of his.

"The Western Lands lost much of their bordering lands, but managed to save a sizable portion of the interior. Many of his people were slain, injured, sullied, or lost everything in the attempted invasion. Sesshomaru obtained a reputation as a cunning, fearsome and ruthless leader in fending off the intruders, his family, and defected troops. He inspired great loyalty and notoriety." Thor straightened a bit, as if in reverence.

"Oh yes, but at what cost?" Loki finally spoke up, and conjured a great skeleton.

"Inu no Taisho was slain in the battle against the great dragon, but managed to save Inuyasha, the unborn half demon, and his mother." Thor grimaced. Tony sucked in a gulp of air, he knew how that felt, to some extent.

"Wait so, what happened next?" Steve ate more of his eggs, curiosity piqued.

"Son of Taisho became Lord of the Western Lands. Son of Taisho then began to reclaim the power at the height of his father's reign. His brother remained a mystery to me, I never met him. I heard he may have been pinned to a tree or sealed away at some point." Thor took a big gulp of water.

"Half-brother. And that is true." Loki automatically corrected. Steve's eyes lit up.

"That was him? He told me about him, said he was there for like fifty years before some other priestess released him or something. He made it sound like it was just acquaintance of his." Steve imputed and Loki's eyebrows furrowed, clearly news to him. Tony frowned, so Sailor Moon opened up to Steve, huh? Why Steve? What made Bedclothes so special?

"Did he have a mother?" Tony surprised himself by asking that question. He didn't even know he wanted to ask it.

Thor looked to Loki, apparently he had no idea.

"…She lived, but we never met her and Sesshomaru did not mention her much. I suspect her existence in Sesshomaru's life was quite distant, if you are to believe my opinion." Loki dismissed his illusions and remained on the floor, looking pale.

Tony couldn't help but draw some fierce parallels from Sesshomaru's upbringing and his own. Critical, testing father who had his attentions elsewhere, distant, mostly absent mother. Sesshomaru, despite being nobility, certainly didn't have a cake walk of a time. Their childhoods, or upbringings really, actually resonated with Tony more than he wanted to admit.

"So... basically, you're saying that Sesshomaru may be one of our best chances at fending off an alien invasion, if we choose to believe you." Bruce looked weary but focused.

"Aye. He is a great general and has unbound persistence. When we saw him weeks after the last battle, he was still covered in scars and wounds he did not have a chance to heal from fighting on the front lines so vigorously." Thor explained.

Tony, hearing all of this, still wasn't convinced. Ok so Sailor Moon had experience thwarting invasions that happened like five centuries ago. It wasn't exactly the Fuedal Era of Japan anymore.

They had heavier firepower for one, helicarriers, AGM-69 SRAM cruise missiles, you name it. And from Tony had seen so far, Sesshomaru didn't seem to do much except strangle people with his whip, make a curiously strong toxin, and stand half naked in shower doors looking wet and bored. Oh, and the scrying thing, couldn't forget about that.

In fact, looking over to Point Break, aside from speed he had no idea how he managed to go close to even with Thor in melee battles. Thor seemed a lot stronger and he could strike people down with lightning. It didn't make sense that Sailor Moon stood a chance, unless his youki or something did more than he studied it could.

That was another thing that made Tony restless, is that he didn't know what Sesshomaru could do. He was used to having weapons of potential mass destruction in his tower, however, usually he knew of their exact capabilities.

"Sorry if I am going to burst everyone's little bubble but he defended an attack from a bunch of spear wielding cat people. How is this relevant now? We have stronger weapons, vehicles faster than a horse, and oh yeah space ships and portals to space." Tony leaned back in his chair, looking to Loki for a challenge. He indeed looked a bit annoyed, but much to Tony's dismay he didn't appear take what Tony said seriously since he just hit the back of his head against the wall, sighing up to the ceiling.

"Yeah, battle strategy has changed a lot since I was a soldier as well and that was only seventy years ago." Steve added, agreeing to Tony's point and swaying the room's attitude towards skepticism.

"The principles of the strategy are still quite sound. Besides, Sesshomaru is studying this realm and its technological achievements. Also, you should not underestimate the power of Demons, especially a Demon like Sesshomaru possess. You haven't seen what he is truly capable of and honestly, probably neither have I." Loki stood, Tony looked to Thor for confirmation. He hadn't known Sailor Moon had been studying, and what was he studying? He could or should have just asked him!

First he goes and opens up to Steve, now he is reading 'the 21st century for dummies.' Without telling him.

"Demons are quite strong Man of Iron; I have fought many Demons and their powers can rival Midgard's weaponry. Inu no Taisho himself wielded a sword named Sounga, the Sword of Hell. Its power could level mountains, and call upon demons from their underworld. The only weapons I have seen that rival it in power is Mjolnir, Gungnir, and perhaps Son of Taisho's new sword, Bakusaiga. I know not much of his new sword, but its energy is considerable." Thor rubbed his chin.

"So, you're saying that, well, by transitive property, that Backstreet Boy is as strong as Mjolnir?" Well, Tony, scratched his beard, that was something. Maybe it too had powers outside creating scry-nados and being a general pain in the ass. Maybe the reason why Sailor Moon hadn't used it wasn't just to be mysterious but also to be cautious.

"In different ways. They are very different weapons. However, I sense something very strange about Son of Taisho's swords. It is as if they are somewhat sentient." Thor expounded and Tony just rubbed his hand down his face. He, like Clint, had had enough of talking about the swords as if they could possibly be alive. Loki turned his face up to his brother, as if impressed.

"Those swords, are no ordinary weapons. Even I know not what Bakusaiga is capable of, and I suspect that Tenseiga has yet to reveal his full power as well. You speak of your weapons here in Midgard and your technological advancements, I would state you not underestimate his weapons or my own gifts." Loki spoke up, flaring his green magic into the shape of a missile, then a sword.

"Yeah, I never said I'd underestimate what he is capable of. I've studied his youki, he can heal himself and apparently cause damage faster than Steve can say the Yankees are terrible!" Tony found himself protesting.

"I'd never say that. They're just having a rebuilding year." Steve huffed good naturedly.

"When we studied together, his strategies were second only to mine. He was always far too reckless with his own self in battle." Loki drew runes in magic on the floor.

"Well, yeah, sounds like he had a lot to prove trying to get out of big daddy's shadow when he basically abandoned his job and people for his side piece and a bun in the oven. His father left him a mess to clean up and he had to do it alone since his mom lit out and everyone else tried to kill him." Tony white knighted Sesshomaru and Steve and Banner looked to him, a little surprised.

"What? I think I know a little about trying to live up to daddy's indomitable legacy and having your closest family betray you when shit hits the fan." Tony reached under where he was seated and got out a hidden fifth of vodka. Screwdrivers it was.

"I agree with your assessment of his motivations Stark, however I still do not approve of his approach to his own station in battle." Loki, sounded angry, as if it was a recurring fight between himself and Sesshomaru. Tony got up and mixed his drink.

"Well, yeah, you're friends. You don't want to see him get hurt." Steve, ever the ray of sunshine, all the sudden made Loki straighten and he looked as serious as a heart attack.

He stood up suddenly and went to Thor, hands balled at his sides. His knuckles white and Tony thought he may attack of he wasn't trembling slightly.

"If you remain unconvinced of my claims, even with Sesshomaru's examination, do as you wish with me. I can't say it will be effective because nothing will stop me, save death, from going after the Other and the Mad Titan alone." Loki swallowed, and he could tell Thor as about to protest.

"Be that as it may, if there is any ardor, any respect of me still in you Thor you will convince Odin to return him. You will not allow my designs to bring harm to him or his. You will not allow SHIELD…" Loki looked to Banner, Stark and Rogers "…to take him or his." Loki's commanding voice echoed and took a deep breath and held his brother's gaze intently.

Oh hell no, SHIELD doesn't just to get to take people. They don't get to have whatever they want. Tony took a deep, biting, sip of his drink.

"Of course brother. You have my vow that he will not suffer any repercussions, but you make it sound going after this Titan and the Other is..." Thor trailed off

"Something akin to suicide, yes. I know the odds, I'm a seasoned strategist, it's one reason why I haven't already." Loki set his jaw and Thor looked like he may have a breakdown. Tony couldn't handle another breakdown, not so quickly after scrybaby.

"You're also implying SHIELD will try use us to apprehend someone who hasn't committed any crime! Sesshomaru hasn't done anything wrong, he isn't even here by choice." Steve raised his idealism meter to 'super patriot'.

"They um, did try to nuke New York. And you heard Fury and saw how excited he was with someone he thought was Loki on Earth. I wouldn't put it past him if he found out about the 'Sesshoki' bromance They'd try something." Tony leaned back and looked Loki straight in his intense green eyes.

He really meant it. Whatever the fuck was going on, Loki didn't want anything to happen to him. He could respect that. What's power if you can't use it to protect people you care about?

"I agree with Tony. SHIELD can't be trusted fully. They deceived us about Agent Coulson. They constantly track my movements and see me as a liability. I don't know how it would get out that you two are friends-" Stark coughed "Barton" and Banner glared back. "But, I won't let SHIELD get their hands on what they think is another monster." Bruce agreed and Loki took almost a full step back, like he lost his balance.

Tony barely caught the whispered thank you come from the sorcerer.

"Yeah. There's no fun in that. I'm pretty sure Pepper would fire sale Stark Industries if I made Rin cry, much less give her father over to the overlords on SHIELD's council because of their pant-on-head crazy power trip. Besides Sailor Moon is a riot when he isn't teaming up with Point Break and blowing up my kitchen." Tony silently added to himself, 'and isn't bad to look at either.'

"Well, like I said before, I cannot allow SHIELD to apprehend anyone who hasn't done anything wrong, even if he does call me bedclothes." Steve amended his previous statement.

"Bedclothes? Oh your uniform...yes I can see it." Loki's face lit up devilishly and Steve simmered. Tony took a full gulp of his drink, heavy on the screw, not so much on the driver. God he needed to get laid.

"What do you think we are up against brother?" Thor changed the subject and Loki sighed again, gesturing to Tony, Steve and Bruce as if to say again, they wouldn't believe him. Tony sighed, might as well hear what he has to say. Tony was smart enough, hopefully, to figure out if Loki was either fearmongering them or understating the threat.

"Just talk, we all know you like to." Tony threw his hands in the air which caused Loki to flash an almost genuine smile.

"The secondary fleet consists of six ships, two Cruisers, one Destroyer, two Battleships, and The Mad Titan's own Flagship. The Mad Titan, humorously enough, took a shine to Midgardian Greek mythology. The Aethon and The Nycteus, a nod to Hades' horses, are the cruisers and the fleet's swiftest." Loki conjured the image of the Cruisers, both black, with a purple Axe insignia across the tail's vertical stabilizer.

The cruisers looked oddly like Virginia class attack submarines, only sharper with slight wings off the sides.

"The Worldslayer, their Destroyer, is their main weapon. The Mad Titan usually uses this destroyer in worlds he plans on conquering, not obliterating." Loki's image of the Cruisers now included the Destroyer.

The destroyer, Tony could understand why it looked like it was their main weapon. It was if someone stretched a sea urchin, flattened it, and bent it into a chevron shape. It had a large white eye on its underside and definitely could pack a punch. If Sailor Moon's swords were sentient, this thing was a fucking living monster, like those whale monsters that showed up three years ago.

"I have…rather intimate knowledge of the Other's Battleship, The Relentless. It is most likely quite similar to its' sister ship The Voracious. Though I know not who commands The Voracious." Loki conjured image of the battleships, and Tony leaned back, so the Other, commanded one of the battleships.

The battleships that Loki showed them honestly didn't look like much. They looked like discs, like what everyone thought UFO's looked like back in the fifties. They were hollow in the middle, yet Loki could tell that Stark didn't look impressed and the image morphed to show the disc was actually a series of rings, that turned out into an easily understood shape of an atom. The hollow space in between them glowed ultra-violet.

"The battleships, together, have the capability of turning Midgard to gravel." Loki educated, the ultraviolet core of the battleships glowed and the rings turned, also glowing purple. Obviously these ships had some sort of laser ray, or a rave. Probably both, Natasha did call Loki Glow Stick.

"So what about the flagship, brother?" Thor inquired, poking one of the magicked images, causing The Aethon to distort. Loki paused in his magicked illustrations to look Thor, then Tony, then Bruce straight in the eye.

"The Umbra." Loki's voice sounded breathy and if Tony were to guess, a hair scared.

"The Mad Titan's flagship, is what truly concerns me." Loki's fingers weaved through the air and what appeared wasn't very concerting.

Loki revealed a funnel shaped ship, all black and flexing, as if it was constructed in segments. Inside the funnel were things that Tony could only describe as teeth, rows and rows not unlike a shark, each spinning clockwise, then the next row counter clockwise and so forth. The mouth glowed the same ultraviolet purple, and the outside red lines glowed out from its segmented parts.

It was a ship, Tony thought, a Demon would command.

"The Umbra is a ship that exists to negate all. Its name means shadow, but really it is more of a void. No world has survived her plunder if she wished for the planet's annihilation. You can bow, you can kneel, you can pledge upmost fealty to The Mad Titan, but if all he wants is blood and bones, nothing will save you. Your existence will simply be undone." Loki's voice, for once, didn't hold any emotion, for once. He sounded like he just stated fact, and that caught Tony's attention. He would have to talk to Loki about what sort of firepower they could expect from them.

The mood in the room took a considerable nosedive.

"Well, as much as this awkward bonding experience was fun and rewarding, I have some projects to work on. I'll catch up with you guys when Legolas and Nat come back from Fury's booty call." Tony filled up his drink again and retreated to his workshop, seeing if he could start on the proximity barrier, and maybe try to figure out what Sailor Moon's toxin was like, without a sample.

Youki worked differently than magic, almost like Sesshomaru could mute his completely, whereas Loki's magic always had a little residue. He also had no idea how after Sesshomaru talked to Loki on the roof that Sesshomaru's magic signature disappeared. Had to do with the N*sync sword he suspected.

Hours passed, as did a few cocktails.

He started a base replica of Sesshomaru's youki, in theory. With some modicum of promise he could make it probably physically recreate his 'artificial' youki. Well, at least he thought so. It was all a matter of charging the air in a particular way, and manipulating the wavelengths and frequencies. With the large amount of data that Jarvis gathered from when Sesshomaru flashed his youki before, he could probably get close to replicating it soon.

The toxin, however, he would definitely need a sample of. The work on the youki would also go faster if he had a sample of it as well.

"Sir, miss Potts has returned with the glass repairman, Lord Sesshomaru's dry cleaning and your outfit." Jarvis reported.

"Oh OK, and you can't refer to him as Lord, if anyone should Lord in my own house it should be me." Tony put down his instruments and began to bound up the stairs.

"What should I call him sir? I doubt he would approve of anything you currently refer to him as." Jarvis answered.

"I don't know, be creative." Tony smiled as Pepper came in, all smiles and looking fit. She was definitely up to something, and at least she did her hair the way that flatters her the most.

"You're absolutely scary you know that? But seeing Sesshomaru slingshot Loki out of my window and kick him down was a highlight of my life. Jarvis saved the video." Tony greeted Pepper and she put some paperwork in his hand, still the only one who was allowed to hand him things.

"Yes I am aware but it was really more for me than you. You need to sign for the window estimate, these quarterlies, oh and for the tailor." Tony scribbled nonsense on what he thought were the right lines.

"Oh tailor, what suit are you going to make wear to the Gala now?" Tony leaned back waiting to not be impressed and Pepper held out two garment bags.

"I already picked out a suit for you last month for the upcoming Gala in Pittsburgh on the 17th, which as Tony Stark, you promised me you would attend. This one is Sesshomaru's dry cleaning. The dry cleaners were astounded by the material, they kept saying it was magical silk. The tailor sadly couldn't find any magic silk so normal human silk will have to do…" Tony inwardly groaned at the prospect of the Gala and Pepper put Sailor Moon's outfit down. Tony all the sudden had a bad feeling.

"Pepper...what are you talking about?" Tony's jaw dropped as he was confronted with an outfit that was an exact replica of Sesshomaru's, except where Sesshomaru's was white, his was red, where Sesshomaru's was red, his was gold, and the sash thing was black.

'This is the worst thing I think I have ever seen. Isn't this cultural appropriation? There is no way I'm wearing this kimono.' Stark held up the yukata like it might burn him.

"Sesshomaru and Natasha informed me of a certain bet that took place on the Quinjet, you know the one where you didn't tell me you were attacked by a Demon Lord and we have been over this, that you have to tell me these things. You apparently said you would make your own Demon outfit if Sesshomaru managed to bring Loki to Stark Tower. We need to work on your gambling, by the way. So. I helped you uphold your end of it." Pepper handed him the outfit and his own ass. Tony's jaw dropped, it was official, Sesshomaru went from best thing to happen that day, to absolute worst.

"This should be a fireable offense." Tony looked at the outfit and cringed, he didn't even have a clue how to put the damn thing on.

"You can't fire me. And just be lucky Sesshomaru allowed you to have your color palette. Natasha was gunning for pink." Pepper smiled triumphantly. Tony paled, he was not about to wear pink.

"Hey ma'am, hate to be a bother but you ain't got any broken glass windows here." The glass guy, Merle, came back and sure enough the glass pane was intact. Tony didn't even notice it happen.

"Huh. He's been unusually helpful." Tony still held the outfit, trying to think of a place to stash it. Or burn it, maybe he could reuse the fire pit Sailor Moon made. No Thor washed it out with his rain dance. Damn. Maybe he could put it in the oven, and then have Loki fix it after it caught on fire.

"Hmmm. You're so right. Thanks Merle you can go; Jarvis will see you out." Pepper turned to Tony and whispered "Loki fixed a window he was thrown out of? Is this really the same guy?" Pepper looked astounded, looking around to see if Loki was hiding or lurking somewhere.

"He also fixed the microwave Point Break totaled this morning." Tony added, still a bit confused.

"Well, if Sesshomaru sticks around I'm making sure Rin goes to the dentist, all that ice cream can't be good. I'm off, I have to go back. Also if he sticks around..." Pepper typed a reminder in her phone quickly and Tony knew exactly what Pepper was referring to.

"Yeah, yeah, I'll tell Rhodey about the Empire Strikes Back." Tony sighed exasperated. He was not looking forward to telling Rhodey about the squatters he had in his basement. Rhodey might shoot him. Might. Actually, he would probably try to shoot Loki.

Or call a predator drone strike on the tower. Tony just swallowed, he didn't know which was worse, the outfit or telling Rhodes about Loki and his Demon bestie.

"Good. And I told Natasha about the outfit so don't play dumb." Pepper called out as she clipped down to the elevator "Let me know how battle strategy brain storm goes!" Tony huffed.

"Will do!...God I'm incinerating you." Tony said in a fake cheerful voice. looked down at the outfit in disgust. "How do cos-players look at themselves in the mirror, like literally and figuratively?!" Tony muttered,

'Great, if I destroy it, Natasha will probably make me body paint the outfit on. How. Just how did I suddenly not become in total control of my Tower?! Oh, yeah, that's right, a certain uppity, arrogant, apathetic Demon Lord who, apparently I want to ride like a joystick in my wet dream. Good job Tony Stark, you're officially in trouble.' Tony, finally, finally admitted it, coincidentally right as the object of his frustration walked back through the door, flashing his cold, gold eyes his way for the briefest of moments before his ears lifted and his lip curled upward ever so slightly.

He was still holding the stupid outfit. Caught red-silk handed, Tony just put his head in his hands. This, mayhem-magnet, sexually frustrating Demon Lord was officially the bane of his existence.

Chapter Text

Loki and the Broken Blade.

*(*

Loki was not nervous. He definitely embodied calm and collected. Wringing his hands together and pacing were practices calm Gods did too.

'It's not like the fates of Midgard and Asgard depend on my introverted friend befriending a group of hostile mortals and convincing them that I'm not actually their enemy. Though, I learned long ago not to underestimate him. I remember the first time Thor and I met him was eventful to say the least.' Loki slipped into a faded memory.

***

"Ah, King Odin of Asgard! Welcome to our Lands! This is my son Sesshomaru!" Loki looked on bored. He was meeting yet another spoiled, meat headed Demon who would fawn over his brother.

Stepping forward, however, was someone Loki didn't expect. He looked delicate, like something made of spun glass and silk. His sharp gold eyes looked like they calculated everything.

Loki didn't bother hiding his puzzled look at the Demon, he certainly didn't look like the typical impulsive, clumsy Demons he had met before.

He also had a big crescent moon on his forehead. Definitely odd.

Loki furrowed his eyesbrows at the Dog Demon as his sharp, apathetic gold eyes studied him. He appeared about as excited to be here has Loki was.

'Let's get this song and dance over with.' Loki rolled his eyes and tapped his foot softly, luckily unnoticed by Allfather.

"Aye, a pleasure to meet you at last Lord Inu no Taisho, as you may have heard, these are my sons." Allfather answered and before anything else could happen, Thor thundered.

"This is your son?! But he is rather puny, and looks like an elven girl." Thor acted out and Loki could hear Allfather's armor clink as he tensed up. Idiot, we are guests in their Lands! Thor took a bite of his apple.

Loki straightened like an arrow when he saw the Demon Lord, Inu no Taisho, set his jaw and clench his fist, clearly offended.

Of course his brother would offend the one Demon Lord who had a weapon that rivals Gungnir in strength. Loki had heard rumors of Sounga, the Sword of Hell, and from what he could feel, the sword on the Demon Lord's hip proved those rumors true.

Loki, as he often did, prepared for the worse.

"Father, who is this cart ox?" Sesshomaru countered flawlessly and Loki cracked a laugh.

Cart ox. Thor. Loki couldn't believe it. No one had ever said anything like that to Thor. Ever. The smile didn't leave his face, for once Thor had been on the receiving end of an insult and not himself.

The tension dissipated, and the fathers chuckled good naturedly while Thor frowned. Loki stared at the fair Demon before him, who looked like he would rather be anywhere else.

"I am no beast of burden you uncivilized Demon! I am Thor, Prince of Asgard! God of Thunder!" Thor introduced himself proudly stepping forward, mouth full of apple.

"You claim I am uncivilized yet you speak to me whilst chewing food." Sesshomaru spoke without a hint of emotion and gazed on, completely unimpressed, almost looking as if he'd fall asleep. Allfather nudged Loki, knowing that Loki may be able to smooth things over, of course.

"I am Loki, Prince of Asgard, Sorcerer and God of Mischief. My brother can have quite the appetite and speaks rashly when hungry. How may we address you?" Loki stepped forward, bowing slightly. Sesshomaru turned to the God of Mischief, eyes a bit wide. Sesshomaru didn't step forward, instead deciding to stand beside his father.

"You are permitted to call me Sesshomaru. I am the heir to the Western Lands." Sesshomaru stated bowing towards Loki slightly, as if giving them permission to call him by his own name.

What an arrogant Demon! Loki raised his eyebrows.

Just because this Demon called out his brother did not mean he was worthy of his time. Loki had far better things to do than get to know this aloof Demon.

Thor beside him took another bite of his apple.

"Sesshomaru, you are to face Thor in the upcoming melee tournament, and to study alongside Loki." Inu no Taisho, Lord of the Western Lands informed. Sesshomaru showed no reaction.

Loki fought the urge to groan. He had been reduced to a babysitter for this small, young Demon. There was no certain way this Demon, though witty, could keep up with him intellectually. Demons were notorious for only following their instincts and were only taught the basics. Loki knew he would hate this visit to Midgard.

Then Loki let the rest of the words the Lord of the West spoke sink in, this twig of a Demon was to face Thor in a melee tournament?! Was this Demon Lord daft?!

"Allfather! Surely this Lord jests! This little Demon is no worthy opponent." Thor protested and before anyone could respond, a flash of a green whip lassoed the apple from Thor's hand and pilfered it, retracting the whip and apple into a small clawed hand.

Loki's jaw dropped. That was fast, faster than he could move.

Sesshomaru looked at the apple, then looked back at Thor. He then closed the distance, Thor's half eaten apple clutched in his outstretched hand.

Loki had to commend the tactic, he certainly proved to be not only intelligent, but quick and accurate as well.

"You lost this, Storm God." Sesshomaru, completely deadpanned, stated slowly and Thor grabbed back his apple with a tanned hand, not saying anything.

Loki bent over in laughter while Inu no Taisho smirked and Allfather huffed.

This Demon, this Sesshomaru, perhaps wasn't such a lost cause after all. This could be a Demon he could get behind. And eventually he did.
***

Now he found himself on the roof of the tower, scanning for Sesshomaru's youki, but he was keeping very well hidden. Unsurprisingly so, Sesshomaru lived a very private life of which he let few people inside. Sesshomaru most likely needed his space from all these prying mortals.

Though the fact he had shared the story of his half brother with their ever intrepid and perhaps overreaching leader showed he was at least warming up to them.

The encroaching sunset painted the city into dusky, fiery hues. He could see why they were having issues adjusting to this realm, it was all glass and metal. It didn't help that he and Jaken were the only Demons left either.

"Waiting for your good husband to return from work?" Loki knew that was Rogers, and turned around. He didn't expect any of the Avengers to seek out his company, especially humorously. He had resigned himself to being a presence they would have to keep alive at best, tolerate at most.

'It would be quite disastrous to try to kill the one person who knew the most about their enemy, pending of course Sesshomaru actually convinces these lost creatures.' Loki uncrossed his arms, putting his hands on his hips.

"The life of a kept man can be rather dull." Loki quirked a slight dark smile. Loki wasn't sure why the Captain was reaching out to him, he supposed it was his nature. Loki had noticed that conflict within the Avengers was something Rogers avidly liked to avoid. Deciding to play along, Loki let Rogers get close to him, standing side by side on the helipad.

"You know, I..." Rogers started and it was then Loki noticed he had neither shield nor weapon.

'Surely he must know I could throw him from the roof, or impale him, or roast him with magic or countless other atrocities before his allies found him. I could kill him outright, Rogers is no fool, he leads this band of misfits!' Loki felt the puzzle pieces connect in his head and his green eyes widened.

'This idealist trusted him! By the Nines...this could work! If the leader trusted what had transpired thus far, he would be at least open to hearing Sesshomaru out!' Loki let loose a wide smile of victory, clenching his fists.

"One does not always need words to articulate what one means." Loki helped him and turned to face him fully, searching his wide blue eyes for any lie, and finding none. He did know how to find lies after all.

Loki had expected perhaps only Romanoff to believe him, recalling their conversation on the helicarrier three years prior where he told her she killed and lied in the service of liars and killers. He figured if anyone would believe him it would be her. She knew exactly what he did, because she once did it herself.

"True, actions speak louder than words." Rogers agreed and for a few minutes they both stood in comfortable silence. Loki's smile remained on his face; his former home, Asgard, and his current residence, Midgard, may live to see another year after all. Loki may just get his saccharine sweet revenge yet.

Scuffle.

"Uncle Loki! Hey I found them! Uncle Loki look, Rin got you another ice cream! This one is lime sherbet! Lord Sesshomaru says you may like this one better because it's less sweet." Loki was legitimately surprised; he didn't hadn't sensed that Sesshomaru had returned. He accepted the ice cream as Rin turned to Rogers. He took a lick of the tart ice cream; these limes of Midgard were quite good.

"I drew you Bedclothes!" Loki choked on his ice cream in laughter. Rogers, not understanding what she said, narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Loki who just smiled broadly.

"Lord Sesshomaru says your shield is really strong so I have you beating Naraku with it, even though he said you don't know who that is." Rin handed Rogers the drawing of him beating some sort of monster to death. It was actually pretty good.

'Sesshomaru must encourage her skills to develop.' Loki thought, remembering their own calligraphy lessons, especially the one after Sesshomaru lost his sanity and shredded those five Aesir warriors into streamers.

He hoped he would never see that form of Sesshomaru's again.

"Uh, thanks Rin." Rogers humored Rin, taking the drawing and smiling. She raised her hand and he high-fived it good naturedly.

It was then Sesshomaru came out upon the roof, wearing his traditional garments, armor and pelt with Tenseiga and Bakusaiga at his side. He had always looked imposing, but after seeing him in Midguardian clothing, now he appeared even more so. He did however, have those ostentatious sunglasses still on top of his head.

However, who followed him up next caused Loki to almost drop his ice cream and Rogers to almost, almost curse in shock.

Because Stark stood next to Sesshomaru in a matching garish red and gold version of his exact garment. Stark, red-faced in embarrassment, was eating his chocolate ice cream. Banner, walking behind him, was smiling from ear to ear.

'Sesshomaru, the murderous, feared by all mortals, Demon Lord of the Western Lands, now stands side by side with this insufferable mortal inventor who is eating ice cream Sesshomaru bartered for him. I could not have envisioned anything more backwards.' Loki shook his head. He had no words for what was transpiring between them except seeing Stark fling the sleeves of his outfit uncomfortably around was by far the best gift he could have possibly received.

'It still doesn't make up for the earlier window incident. I will get that Dog Demon back for such treachery.' Loki mused, knowing truthfully that Sesshomaru did not betray him but in this case it would be far more entertaining to seek revenge than to let such an act slide. Especially for revenge against that haughty inventor.

'That pompous inventor thinks Midgard's weapons, technology, and science make them superior to my own magic and Sesshomaru's weapons. What folly. Stark believes my own magic as crude and Sesshomaru as slow minded for being from the past. I doubt any of the Avengers, save Thor, respect our power and intellect. They need to if they are to trust us in leading the strategy to defend Midgard.' Loki's thoughts and magic darkened and swirled in him like the beginnings of a typhoon.

While at first, Loki had claimed that he did not care about what the Avengers thought of him, the past few days of him getting used to the tower, caused a grating feeling in him that Tony Stark looked down on his magic. Something in him sparked that made him almost want to prove to these mortals just what he could do. Most likely because, if he wasn't a powerful, magical weapon, what exactly was he?

"Tony? Are you guys going to do a reenactment?!" Rogers began to chuckle. Loki snapped out of his reverie.

He then had a disturbing thought, was this all some sort of mind-game for Stark? Was he attempting to show Sesshomaru as ridiculous for his attire? Right before he would address them with his strategy?!

Loki's darkened magic accelerated, twisting within him.

"...I am to assume this is not an attempt at mockery am I not?" Loki's unusually cold tone was laced with caution. Loki carefully observed Sesshomaru who shockingly appeared pleased, well as pleased as Sesshomaru publicly looked.

Something was afoot. It was as if Sesshomaru knew about the outfit.

"No, you see Tony here lost a bet on the Quinjet from New Mexico to here that if Sesshomaru managed to bring you here he'd make an outfit like his and wear it." Banner explained and Loki immediately relaxed, mouth slicing into a knowing grin. His magic snaking from his fingers, powdered and he resumed eating his lime sherbet.

He never would have thought Stark's antics would entertain him so. Stark crossed his arms and glared a heated look at Sesshomaru who simply ignored him.

'Oh how the mighty have fallen, right Stark? It looks like your own skepticism of our abilities indeed backfired.' Loki's green eyes flashed in vindication.

On cue the pelt appeared on Tony instead. Loki burst out laughing.

"Well done Stark, and here you stated you wouldn't underestimate us….What did you call us? Sesshoki? I will state that it is a testament to your intelligence that you could at least put the garment on correctly." Rin and Sesshomaru were right, he preferred lime sherbet. Loki licked his ice cream as Banner sighed as Stark, yet again, found himself entwined in Sesshomaru's pelt.

The first time Stark had been stuck in Seshomaru's pelt Loki was not able to adequately enjoy it due to the fact that Sesshomaru had just scryed. Well, also, he had just pulled eight arrows from his chest.

"Get this off! The bet should be null in void anyway, because technically Sesshomaru didn't bring Reindeer Games here, he brought himself. I'm just a magnanimous individual." Stark struggled with the pelt and the ice cream. Sesshomaru stood next to him, face placid, ignoring his struggle, ears twitching in victory.

"Rin thinks you look quite noble Stark! You and Lord Sesshomaru look like you could rule the Western Lands together!" Rin complimented. Loki knew he was the only one to understand what she said and his eyes bulged out in astonishment.

Did Rin also notice how Sho and Stark interacted? Sesshomaru turned to Stark and looked him up and down in appraisal that only caused Stark to struggle and redden more.

"He needs refinement." Sesshomaru should have grinned when Banner took a photo of them both. Rin bounced in glee and Loki couldn't tell if he was just humoring Rin, or if his flirtations towards Stark had solidified into something more.

"Refinement?! I'll have you know I can be captivatingly refined; despite being dressed as a Japanese MC Hammer. I just need sunglasses…and a drink." Loki saw Sesshomaru put a hand to his head, guarding his sunglasses, as Loki began to finish his ice cream.

"Man of Iron! Have you perchance adorned your mother's drapes?!" Thor came flying by and Loki lost it. He laughed so much green magic sparks shot out of his hands, he almost dropped his ice cream. Again.

It had been a while since he laughed that hard at something Thor had said.

"Ok. That's it. Everyone is kicked out of Stark Tower. I'm done. You're all fired, especially you two Team Rocket." Stark pointed to Sesshomaru and Loki who looked at each other, puzzled. Team Rocket? What exactly made them a rocket? Stark must revel in making references they did not understand. Loki began to walk towards them, finishing his ice cream.

Rin ran up and high-fived Thor when he landed.

He sensed something on the horizon at the same time Sesshomaru did. Loki turned to view the Quinjet approaching. When it got close it dipped suddenly to the right then straightened.

Loki didn't like the looks of it, and Sesshomaru's eyes went cold and his youki flared into a blue wall. He directly blocked Loki and the rest of the mortals from the landing Quinjet.

Loki turned to face Sesshomaru whose face revealed nothing, but his ears were planted flat against his head.

The Quinjet finally landed and the doors opened only for Romanoff to slam Clint against the side of the jet. Loki couldn't make out what she said, but he was certain Sesshomaru could because he didn't look pleased and his ears pricked up.

"He meant to fire." Sesshomaru said in the softest of whispers, meant only for Loki to hear.

"Fire...the guns? At me?" Loki wasn't surprised that Clint still felt angry, more so his careless choice in tactic.

"Me. Not that this Sesshomaru would have let that device do damage." Sesshomaru turned his back on the Quinjet all ice and long talons. Now that surprised Loki.

'Clint can mess with me all he pleases, but the minute he redirects that ire will be the moment he regrets it. Sesshomaru won't tolerate it. Neither will I.' Loki's face darkened. Due to him hiding his emotions less well than Sesshomaru, and the shove, Stark picked up that something was amiss.

"Ugh. Don't tell me Legolas has his g-string in a twist, he isn't even dressed like a bad video game character." Stark walked out to meet Sesshomaru and Loki.

"...He needs an outlet." Loki supplied, Stark either didn't hear him, or didn't respond.

"Natasha! Barton! I drew you!" Rin ran out to meet them and for the swiftest of moments Loki feared the archer would do something unwise. He didn't; and accepted the picture looking a bit more sedate.

"Love the new look Tony. Very Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Romanoff smirked victoriously, looking at her picture which showed her attacking a braided man with a very large sword and a cross on his forehead.

"Actually fun fact: Sesshomaru here is a Dog Demon…and he isn't a huge fan of Tiger or probably Dragon Demons." Rogers informed and Romanoff pointed to the pelt, nodding as if she could see the connection between the pelt and dog fur.

Sesshomaru tilted his head to the side. Oh dear… Rogers and that big mouth of his, didn't he understand that Sesshomaru would sooner eat their 'human fare' than know Thor and I told the Avengers of his past?!

"My Lands have… once had both Dragon and Tiger Demons… how did you discern my opinion of them? As of this morning you professed ignorance of Demons all together." Sesshomaru asked suspiciously gold eyes darting between Rogers, Stark and Romanoff.

"We got a crash course in your backstory Sailor Moon, complete with family photos." Stark admitted and Sesshomaru whipped around, eyes blazing to Loki. Loki pointed to Thor.

Thor gave his best 'who me?' face.

Fabulous. Sesshomaru now knew they had gone and spoken about him without him present. That would certainly irritate the private Demon. Sesshomaru uttered a low, chest rumbling growl, and for a moment Loki wondered if he would witness Sesshomaru engage Thor in a spar.

"Oh no, you're now literally changing into him, Tony. Are you going to draw the line at going grey and face tattoos?" Clint greeted good naturedly. Perhaps his urge to attack them was indeed a lapse in good sanity.

"Nah, gonna get a matching set. And if Anderson Cooper can do it I can." Tony gestured to his whole self and Banner rolled his eyes.

Loki, not about to let that opportunity to pass him by, snapped his fingers and appearing on Tony's face was an identical set of Sesshomaru's markings.

"Loki…" Sesshomaru growled again in warning and Loki smirked, this would be revenge against them both. Against Sho for throwing him through the window and for Stark's arrogance.

"What? Oh… tell me Reindeer Games didn't." Stark began and Romanoff took out her phone and took a photo, then showed the result to Stark.

Rin simply pointed in awe, face lit with excitement and joy.

"Tony I think the phrase you're looking for is 'be careful what you wish for.'" Clint's mouth quirked up into what Loki would describe as a reluctant smile, almost as if he didn't want to smile at anything Loki did.

Banner took another photo.

"See, refined! I think I pull them off better than you." Stark pointed to Sesshomaru whose ears rose with his eyebrows at the sheer audacity of the statement.

"Your senses are faulty, human." Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles. Loki, supremely amused, knew that Sesshomaru must harbor a healthy regard for Stark to not rip his vocal chords out.

Or Loki's own vocal chords since his glamour was in an indirect reference to when a Demon takes a mate they inherit a marking of the other. Loki vanished the glamour away before Sesshomaru's patience ran too thin.

"Let us return to the matter at hand shall we?" Loki suggested, realizing his little glamour may have created too much of a diversion.

"Yeah… How was the meeting with Fury?" Rogers asked, reeling in his rag-tag group.

"Fun, in the sense that he thinks Loki is Sesshomaru, which he was, but actually isn't. He also wants to create a formal extra-terrestrial customs protocol so Thor isn't everyone's meet-and-greet. Fury is, however, convinced that Loki has compromised the Magic detectors since he can't get a bead on his magic signature here in New York." Romanoff reported with a good amount of snark. Thor crossed his arms indignantly.

Loki's eyebrows furrowed, he wasn't masking his magic, he couldn't any longer...Sesshomaru must have done something.

"Sounds like a productive waste of time. You missed Thor blow up my microwave with a jar of spaghetti sauce, Sailor Moon throw Reindeer Games out my window, and story time complete with pop up pictures. But at least you made it in time for dress up!" Tony continued to fuss with the pelt as he devoured his ice cream. Clint and Romanoff looked at each other in disbelief.

Loki began to move towards the rooftop access, not particularly wanting to relive today's events of him cleaning up Thor's mess, yet again, and his friend's surprise "betrayal".

'Well, at least I got him back with Stark's glamour… however I am sure I will be on the receiving end of his ire once more once he realizes I showed them what his Father and what he looked like, during the final battle for the Western Lands.' Loki smirked, a bounce added to his step, Sesshomaru greatly disliked being compared to his father.

"Wait, why did you throw Loki out a window?" He heard Clint ask incredulously.

"...I bartered with Lady Potts." Sesshomaru admitted, following Loki. He heard Clint suppress a laugh, that sounded better than the dark look he sported before.

"Like I said before, it hasn't been boring." Banner chimed in.

"Things with Tony usually aren't, but I must say I think this time it has to do with your house guests." Romanoff picked up and twirled Stark's sash. Stark slapped her hand away.

"...damn squatters." Stark grumbled and Loki spotted a twinge of satisfaction on Sesshomaru's face. Precocious Demon. He had certainly opened up more in this time than he ever had in the past. Most likely because he had to, to properly adapt here.

They made their way down to the main room and Loki felt his gut tie itself up in knots as everyone took their seats across the room. He remained standing next to Sesshomaru, conjuring a map in the air.

'Sesshomaru isn't one to speak a great deal. He may get agitated. Or they may just not believe him. Regardless, I'll go after The Other, on the Relentless and do as much damage as possible before I'm stopped. I have to believe in Thor that he will convince Odin to return Sesshomaru to his own time if they won't believe him.' Loki thought of his contingency plans with a fake, wan smile taped on his face.

"Lord Sesshomaru! What is going on?!" Jaken, still Jack, walked in, holding the staff of two heads, and strawberry ice cream. So Jaken had been converted to 'human' food after all, curious indeed.

"Stay Jaken. I am conducting a war assembly." Sesshomaru gestured to the seat on the other side of Rin who sat next to Romanoff.

"Yeah. Alright Doomsday Room is officially in session. Show us your stuff Sailor Moon, how would you blow an invasion while fooling your superiors." Stark clapped his hands, and as if on cue, the pelt reappeared on Sesshomaru. Stark looked positively relieved, rolling his shoulder and brushing off remaining fluff.

Loki conjured a city, complete with a wall in a harbor. A familiar layout they were given when studying and not unlike New York City itself.

Sesshomaru straightened, his face impassive and unexpressive as ever.

"...I would begin with procuring unreliable spies. Giving my superiors faulty intelligence on the general populace, while spreading word of our preparing forces." Sesshomaru looked at the map, standing tall with a practiced command. Loki conjured black pawns in the middle of the city of white pawns.

"I would then make public displays. Denouncing their culture and their intelligence is an easy way to provoke dissent against a new ruler, no matter how disliked or weak their current one is. I would make it clear I am to be obeyed." Sesshomaru's voice grew cold. Loki remembered Stuttgart and being captured. He magicked black stages in the city.

"If the objective is to rule successfully, the leader needs to be fearsome, but not distrusted by his own, productive peasantry." Sesshomaru elaborated, eyes piercing Rogers' for effect. Rogers was the leader of the Avengers after all.

Loki recalled his conversation with the Other over the matter. It wasn't that hard to convince him that a show of power would make these mortals crumple.

***

"Godling, so you wish to show these mortals your might, do you? What gives you the impression you are so much higher than the mortals you want to subjugate?" The Other sat tall in his obsidian high backed chair, and Loki knew was smirking under his mask. Behind the Other the glassed wall showed the ultra violet core of The Relentless spinning slowly like a windmill.

"Only that you chose me for this invasion, my forger. I wish to stomp them into the dirt they crawl over. Stuttgart is not only a mission critical Operation for the portal, but with proper preparation, it can be a demonstration of our prowess as well. The people who exist in this province of Midgard have been loyal to charismatic figures of power in the past." Loki refused to tremble before the Other. It wasn't only out of fear, no, but out of barely bridled fury.

Fury against the Other, against Thor, against Odin, against everything! His anger tingled his magic, there was a very true part to the Other's words. He wanted someone for once to bow to him in fealty, for once!

The small, rational part of Loki's mind had begun to thaw the ice of the Other's magic around his mind, and his memories. He, logically, knew that he didn't want these mortal's backs to the sky for him, but…nonetheless his magic and his emotions were ravenous for something like it to occur.

"Very well, my Broken Blade, make the mortal's foreheads press into their precious Earth, remind them what filth they spawned from." The Other waved him off and Loki left the gunmetal grey command room in a ruffle of green cape and brushed bronze.

***

"Gathering false or incomplete information on the land's military positions, numbers, and capabilities is imperative. I'd report this information back and plan a tactically sound plan based on that information, yet unsound to actual facts." Sesshomaru paused, putting his fist to his chin, tilting his head as he looked out the window facing him. Loki sensed his nervousness, even though it didn't show. It was difficult explaining strategy, much less relating it to a realm five hundred years advanced to his own.

'He is doing quite well however. Step by step he is following exactly what I did.' Loki stole a glance to the other Avengers, the only mortal looking at him was Rin, who waved. He waved back silently, one mortal child he could say he liked.

"…I would leave all scouting and communication constructs intact, so my enemy may still signal their own troop movements, and see my own forces arrange and monitor my own forces." Loki began to gain confidence; this was indeed exactly what he had done. He had not disrupted their communications nor satellites. Loki allowed SHIELD to coordinate a strike after all.

"My own forces would construct improper siege weapons, ones that could not create a large enough breech in their city walls for all my invading forces to enter. I would also commence the attack on a city of large economic and cultural importance, not a military stronghold. I'd make it appear as though I wanted to demoralize and strike fear into them first. We'd burn their fields, sink civilian vessels, and poison their ground water." Sesshomaru searched the room.

Loki thought of the position and the diminutive size of the portal he'd created, and his choice of the city New York. Yes, he had needed a strong power source, but he was Loki of Asgard, he could have found other, more strategically sound means.

"Why economic and not militaristic?" Rogers asked, disrupting the harmonious flow of Sesshomaru's voice.

"I would want them profitable. Devastating their largest trade port would hamper their usefulness. Secondly, this would catalyze fragmented troops from across their lands, knowing that their own civilian cities could be next, to a rallying point. Thirdly, it would be an easily accessible entryway for the enemy forces. Additionally, the military strongholds would still be operational to attack my disoriented fleet and encumbered ground troops in a crowded trade harbor." Sesshomaru patiently explained, and Loki conjured in the city wall, a small hole, a fleet of ships that were impeded by civilian ships and military ones approaching from their flank.

Loki pursed his lips, The Mad Titan certainly wished to own Midgard, it being the best access point for the other eight realms, Asgard of course being one of them. Before he did not desire Asgard, but now that it held the Tesseract and the infinity gauntlet, he did.

"With a breech too small to facilitate all my troops occupation, the ones that enter the city will be picked off, and my long range support will be without clear shots, and on the low ground. The ground offensive would eventually be routed." Sesshomaru flicked his wrist, and Loki swirled his magic in the form of troops stuck in a bottle neck, with the archers stuck behind the vanguard, being sniped by the archers atop the wall.

***

"You wish to open our portal using that one mortal's power ring under that structure? Why that civilian city, my Broken Blade?" The Other questioned, rising from his chair for the first time since Loki had reported to only him. Loki before reported to both him and The Mad Titan and the Other had been standing then, but all stood, or knelt in the presence of the Mad Titan. Loki was currently kneeling.

"That structure was constructed by one of the Avengers. It would be severely demoralizing to have his own power device used against him. Secondly, Midgard's resolve has crumbled now that I have scattered their precious defenders. Once I make the portal operational, the creator of the tower, who is of some intelligence, will return to it and I shall turn him against his allies. He shall prove useful in the manufacturing of new weaponry." Loki, by this time, had been able to control himself more in front of the Other.

He felt a bit more sure now. He never wanted to rule Midgard. He had managed to sort his emotions out better with more of his magic returning. He would betray an oath he made long ago to never claim sovereignty of Midgard if he conquered it now. Even though that Demon no longer existed, he would keep that oath.

Loki also, knew, somewhat, that wanting to enslave mortals Thor had come to adore so was not proper revenge against what Thor had done to him.

"Proceed then, Godling, just make haste with this portal. The primary fleet grows impatient." The Other gave almost distrusting look before waving him off and Loki's shoulders relaxed unseen under his armor. These fractured Avengers would surely rally to save their precious New York, and he would buy them the time with an undersized portal.

Loki was thankful that in a prior meeting he convinced the Other that Midgard's military would stand down in fear, not willing to fire their missiles at such an important civilian cities. Loki himself did not trust that another province on Midgard, such as the Russian Federation, or perhaps even SHIELD would not decimate New York to prevent the invasion. That issue, however, was not his to solve. It might even be a bit of fun to watch part of Midgard burn the way he did.

***

"To prevent my fleet from escaping back sea bound, I would discreetly have my ships tied together and launch a fire attack upon my fleet, sinking them in the harbor. It would be a great morale boost for the defending Lands, a humiliating defeat for my superiors, and would take years to construct another attempt." Sesshomaru finished and Loki could have embraced him. That was exactly what Stark did with the tactical missile. Loki didn't hide his smile; his friend had not lost his edge in the five hundred and fifty-three years they were apart.

Loki, feeling unbridled pride for his friend, felt his fingertips light up green. This was splendid! Indeed, for once a victory he could claim as his own! This strategy in bringing Sho here was brilliant!

"My superiors certainly would blame me in the failure, leaving my only options to defect, flee or be otherwise reprimanded." Sesshomaru's eyes flicked over to Loki, looking for confirmation of a sound strategy, face neutral when spotting the elation on Loki's face. Sho couldn't have been better!

…'or otherwise reprimanded…'The previous happiness and triumph he felt began to corrode.

Loki's magic spun out of control within him, the magic coiling around his lungs, suffocating him as he remembered another time he almost suffocated.

***

'Abyss, an endless, magic decaying, life draining abyss. This is what I let go for. This fate, this malady of ambition of mine. Protecting a throne from a brother who wasn't ready, committing patricide, regicide, all in the name of an Allfather who scorned me for what he taught me to be.'

Loki tumbled, all the while his magic and his vitality leeching from his body like water through a sieve. He would eventually die here, in this void. And that was ok. His stomach, dense as lead, would eventually fade, just like the rest of him.

His legacy, he hoped, would fade too like a scroll left in the sun too long. He did not want nor need to be remembered as what he was now.

'I was never to be equal. Thor would always stand on my shoulders. Odin would only regard Thor as his one true son. Odin putting a Frost Giant on the throne of Asgard? Reckless, Absurd, Grotesque! That is who I am. A grotesque, abomination of an existence. A fraud, a cheat, an illusion of a God! Someone such as I shouldn't bother existing, there is no inherent value in it. My gamble did not pay off, my luck has long since atrophied. A Frost Giant who attempted to destroy his own race to stave off the destruction of an adopted home that scorned him. My destiny was to fail, my kismet: the void.'

***

Loki's green magic began to surge and roll in his chest like a hurricane.

He scanned the Avengers, they all looked grave, but contemplative. Including Clint. Maybe he wouldn't be sent to a detention center in SHIELD, or sent back to Asgard. Maybe he would keep what was left of his fragile, artificial sanity.

***

'Eventually the void eroded my sanity. My mind melted into a murky puddle, all ridges or folds of memory, recent or old, important or trivial, fleshed together into a muddled mass. A blurry haze of faces I couldn't recognize, voices I didn't quite know, and wounds I couldn't remember receiving or bestowing. The void erased my identity. As I fell dying, all I knew was a nebulous but overwhelming sense of despair, which eventually fermented into a festering knot of hatred.' Loki recalled hitting rock bottom, ironically a place called 'Sanctuary'.

But fortune would again frown upon me. My deteriorated immortality was not allowed death, I would not rest in peace.

***

Loki felt his palms dampen in sweat and he vigorously rubbed them together. Jaken, still in his Jack appearance, beamed in approval and Rin jumped off her seat and ran up to Loki, holding her hand out for a high five. He reciprocated and Sesshomaru looked directly at Stark.

Pause.

"...There's always a sequel isn't there." He heard Clint mutter. Stark just stared at Sesshomaru.

"Ok, so the whole 'slow of mind' thing, you can forget that. And can you like do podcasts or audibles or something?" Stark put a hand over his mouth, thinking, his tone serious despite the jesting nature of his words. Sesshomaru straightened, his ears pricking up in approval.

"Sesshomaru, were you told how Loki conducted his invasion?" Banner asked, his voice laced with ardent curiosity. The other mortals, aside from Romanoff, turned with him as if demanding a convincing answer to the question.

"You dare imply I would waste my time and dishonor myself by passing off another's strategy as my own?" Sesshomaru's knuckles cracked. Loki grimaced, he figured at some point someone would ask that infernal question. As if he would compromise the whole strategy by telling Sesshomaru what he had done. "This Sesshomaru has no knowledge of it, other than…Loki's tactic of procuring spies." Sesshomaru cast his gaze Clint's direction who stiffened slightly.

"My Lord Sesshomaru is no liar or cheat! He would never say something was his that wasn't!" Rin's clear voice rang out, and she twisted on the sofa to cross her arms at Banner.

"Lady Rin stated Son of Taisho is no liar or cheat, and that he'd never claim something that was his, that wasn't. Which, to my knowledge is true." Thor interpreted, speaking up for the first time, and not quite sounding like himself. Rin huffed and continued to glare at Banner who, amusingly now looked quite guilty.

"My Lord is an exemplary strategist! Second to none! Even if my Lord had knowledge of this Magic God's failure, it wouldn't matter. You lowly humans should have all reached the conclusion that it was obviously designed to fail!" Jaken, ever Sesshomaru's supporter, praised. Loki dared not say anything against the 'second to none' statement. Loki knew he was more experienced than Sesshomaru and better for it.

***

'The Other found and propositioned me. He told me he could restore me, for a price. Like a marionette I danced. I wanted to remember who I was, what exactly happened to me….because I was suddenly so confused, so desperate, and so angry.'

'With the Other's guidance, my mind reformed, I rediscovered my identity, separated out my memories, recognized people, put a timeline to events. Yet, the elation of rediscovering myself was indeed short-lived.'

***

The room silenced for a moment, and stilled. Loki couldn't say anything to defend Sesshomaru, they certainly wouldn't have believed him if he had.

"Kermit is right. Pretty Boy, plagiarizing Glow Stick's strategy, or not, would have brought me to the same conclusion. The strategy he explained to us is basically what happened here three years ago. Glow Stick executed a deliberately unsound Op. Pretty Boy just now proved it to us. I'm convinced." Romanoff clipped off. Sesshomaru looked to Loki in mild surprise, ears up. Banner sat back, understanding that Sesshomaru's surprise meant he had no idea what Loki had actually done.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I believe him. It makes sense, along with everything else. Even what Tony did with the missile. Loki didn't plan that, but it's the same basic principle as matches the fire attack." Banner admitted and Loki nearly let loose a breath he didn't know he was holding. The Berserker, of all the mortals, harkened to Sesshomaru.

Loki's magic inside him began to spin out of control. It was actually happening! His pulse quickened and a slight sheen of sweat dotted his brow. He was pulling this off! It terrified and excited him at the same time.

***

'The Other only rebuilt me to coax and manipulate my resent feelings of hatred, resentment, and envy to grow as an infection. I fought it; I did. I knew that my entire existence was not the misery and anger the Other told me it was. I had rich memories, good ones, yet I didn't win that battle.'

***

He hadn't realistically thought he would get this far, truly. Loki was, first and foremost, a realist and a cynic. There were simply things in this life that did not work out well. Goals that went unachieved, prices that couldn't be paid, beauty that was made to fade, strength that was cowed till it broke.

When he, after two years and some odd months in Asgard's prison, managed to thaw out his mind, restructure it so that it made sense, he thought of the scheme. The scheme to bring Sesshomaru to the present. He had softened Frigga enough to remind Odin of Tenseiga, to bring the sword to the present so he could properly atone.

The fact that Odin had eventually capitulated, and agreed to retrieve the healing blade, and by proxy Sesshomaru, still vexed Loki. Yet, so far, each step of this far fetched, practically unachievable goal of his was almost within his reach.

Loki swallowed, trying to calm himself but it wasn't working. His mind kept cycling back through what happened.

***

'My magic had been drained completely from the void and the Other saw the opportunity to create the perfect weapon for his Dark Lord. The hatred curved inward, tainting my every possible memory, emotion, and instinct, like a poisoned well. I focused only those warped emotions towards a golden Thunder God, a one-eyed King, a gilded city, blue skinned giants, and a long-lost Demon Lord.'

***

He could feel Thor's gaze still buzzing on him like a live wire.

Loki's magic within him bubbled for release like a volatile chemical solution in reaction to it.

'This, however, does not mean that I have any leadership responsibility over this hodgepodge group of mortals. They have their Director Fury and Captain America for that position. Sesshomaru and I will simply provide instruction from the sidelines…if they end up using our advisement at all' Loki reassured himself, knowing the last thing he wanted was to be directly responsible for any actions other than his own.

Loki found himself staring blankly at the Demon Lord, who turned slightly to him, ears lowering. He suspected something was up, Sho had long ago began to sense his magic like he would a Demon's youki.

***

'I became a patchwork Frankenstein of someone I used to be.'

'I was forced into submission and beaten to kneel before a Dark Lord in order to obtain an infinity stone with which to conquer Midgard. A place I remembered that wronged me by vanishing my only friend. The same planet cherished by Thor, whom at the time I wanted to see crushed. The Other successfully took my magicless, mindless, shell, and twisted it with his own magic into a weapon.'

***

Loki pursed his lips together, still hating his weakness for not being able to fight back against the Other harder.

'Thor has yet to say anything. I can feel his ice blue gaze drilling holes in my skull and I can't look his way. Is there any way he could believe me?' Loki stilled, daring not to face his brother, he knew his brother, and perhaps Sesshomaru could feel his magic sting and spike within him.

"Yeah. Now we just have to convince everyone else on Earth. Which, so won't be a big problem." Stark's voice rang with sarcasm looking Sesshomaru in the eyes, both of them staring at each other with a look that showed a growing respect from Loki's point of view.

'Outdated strategy indeed Stark….' Loki thought, trying to rein in his magic that still twisted within him. His magic laced blood raced through his veins, his absurd idea was actually working and Loki still had to process it. He needed to be alone to calm his magic.

"...Natasha's right. Everything he explained would make sense if you wanted to fail an invasion, and remember Stuttgart? That got everyone's attention, in a way that didn't help Loki or his commanders." Rogers stated woodenly, still processing.

"What I want to know, Fancy Pants, is why someone would purposely fail an invasion attempt? Why go through the trouble?!" Clint's voice sounded confused, asking the one question Loki had hoped no one would ask.

Loki couldn't do anything but stand stock still in horror. He knew what Sesshomaru would say. There were only three reasons someone would purposely fail an invasion.

He wanted to flee from the room, but instead his mind just froze. He kept replaying the reasons why he was even there in the first place.

***

'The invasion was an opportunity to carve out a destiny that at the time I thought I wanted. But in reality, it was what the Mad Titan wanted. The Other manipulated me into thinking I desired it as well. And I was none the wiser until I arrived on Midgard, connecting back to Yggdrasil and charging regaining some of my own magic. Things didn't make sense.

'I never wanted to rule this planet, I even promised Sho once that I wouldn't. I realized that the Other put me back together in a way that benefitted him, not necessarily what was actually true. Yet, those warped emotions and those memories still remained, as if icing or glazing over my true self. I still hated Thor three years ago, I still resented everything, I still felt that despair haunt me. But I knew that this destiny was not the right path. It was not mine.'

***

Loki's magic levels were going haywire, feeding off his inner turmoil. Green smoke coiled tightly behind his eye sockets.

His blood thinned in his veins, he knew soon Sesshomaru would answer Clint's question. He had to get out of this room. His hands shook and his chest rattled like an aerosol can, he knew Thor, Sesshomaru and perhaps even Jaken could sense his magic churn but Sesshomaru would not react unless he did something outward, to save him face.

"...I would purposely fail if I desired fortune and the targeted Lord bought my allegiance. More likely, if my superiors were treating me ill, such as refusing to promote me or worse persecuting me into their wishes." Sesshomaru's eyes went wide and he froze, toxin coated his fingers.

Loki then knew Sesshomaru had put all the information together. Loki's whole body started to convulse. Green magic snaked around ankles and steamed out his eyes. His emerald magic writhed like vines within him. If anyone noticed his magic react around him, he couldn't tell, his vision had narrowed into a tunnel and he couldn't properly focus.

He wanted to lash out and attack, implode, and disappear all at the same time. He hugged his sides tightly, as if to literally hold himself together.

Sesshomaru looked Loki right in his eyes, his gold ones glazed over in disbelief. Time froze. Loki took a step back, throat dry. His face stretched in panic. Sesshomaru's eyes remained wide, his pupils slit, his youki surged around him like a blue whirlpool on the floor. Jaken took Rin away in a rush.

"Persecution." Sesshomaru growled. "This Other, he kept you." Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles, toxin sizzling the floor. Loki had no idea what the other Avengers were thinking, he couldn't take his eyes off Sesshomaru; he commanded his attention.

Also, the magic that smoked from his eyes obscured his peripheral vision. The magic began to turn from green to black.

"I simply couldn't endure. My mind isn't truly my own any longer. It has a new forger, not unlike a broken blade." Loki found his choked voice. Loki knew he would only be what the Other made him into: the Other's broken blade.

'Blast you Clint Barton! I was fooling the lot of you. I had, up till now, tricked you all into thinking I was actually Loki, God of Mischief, not this monster I am now.' Loki experienced a flash of a memory: his own laughter, high and brittle, his saliva and blood spraying into the air. A masked face looking down, eyes vicious. His own skull fractured; his hair ripped out. His fingers broken backwards, his thighs coated in blood.

'I had blocked that time out. I can't have these mortals know about it. I can't face my broth-Thor. Sometimes I curse Sesshomaru being here, Thor looking at me this way, making me remember I didn't used to be this monster, that I was once someone.' Loki's lungs grinded like sand on rusted metal.

"I existed once. I truly did. You know that." Loki gestured to Sesshomaru palm up.

His black magic spiraled out of him and fanned out on the floor, like three roots of a great tree. From his eyes, his magic turned black and twined into six branches on the ceiling. Yggdrasil. Loki heard someone say something, but he knew it wasn't Sesshomaru nor Thor.

Sesshomaru blinked, reining in his youki. Loki's pulse jackhammered in his ears and mind scattered. The past clashed with the present, the torture with the peace, the masked Other with handsome Clint. He was losing it. He couldn't let the mortals see what he truly was. They had to believe him, not think he was some sort of broken mess. A broken blade.

Loki did the only thing he could: he teleported down to substorage room 3-b.

He slumped to the floor where he and Sesshomaru usually slept and violently shook with images of a blue masked face, sharp cerulean wires, potent hostile magic, and vials of his own blood.

His magic grew to fill the storage room like vines would an abandoned building. He could not go back to who he was before the Other had him, before he fell from the Bifrost. He did not know how.

'I can still hear their jeers, the sound of my flesh ripping, the smell of my burnt skin and hair, my own strangled, defiant laughter echoing in the cell. The sight of my failing magic limping against the walls. It's still all there. It still keeps me.' Loki suddenly felt extremely fatigued and drained, he wanted to simply sleep. He then saw the door open, the black vines of magic recoiling from the light.

Who came down surprised him.

"...Brother?" Loki would eviscerate Sesshomaru for this. He would take his own whip and flay him with it. He knew Thor wouldn't come down of his own volition, Sho forced Thor to come…what a waste of time. What an insult!

"Thor, we are not brothers, and as you can see I am in a most uninterested mood." Loki's green eyes flashed in the darkness but his voice held no strength. This was supposed to be his time of triumph, not one of crippling terror.

"I knew not that was how...I was unaware that...I should have thought better of you. I should have looked for reasons for your actions." Thor's voice sounded gravelly as he slowly entered the dark room.

"...it matters not." Loki didn't know what to say. 'That Thor should have seen through my attempt? Seen through my own paper-thin sanity three years ago? Shouldn't have assumed me dead when I let go from the Bifrost? Should have known I didn't care two bits about ruling Midgard?' Loki had long tired of waiting for Thor to notice his plight.

"It matters a great deal! It is of great importance to me! The conditions you were under when you led...and you endured Allfather's punishments voluntarily... I failed you." Loki hadn't heard his voice sound so thick and sticky in a long time. Thor sat on the floor beside him.

"It truly matters not…" Loki just felt tired, he hadn't slept well recently due to his nightmares. Perhaps before the Bifrost he wanted this conversation. Not now. Not anymore.

"Falsehoods! Brothers are supposed to know each other. I feel as if Son of Taisho knows you far better than I, and he ceased to be five hundred years ago. He even stated if you truly wanted Midgard you would have had it. I doubted your desires and intelligence. I even forgot how skilled you are in sparring when you truly mean it." Thor croaked out, his voice not matching his strong, though slumped silhouette. Loki shook his head, eyes heavy, because Thor, as always, was too little, too late.

Loki's magic flared in stale anger as a green shockwave of magic flung Thor to the other side of the room. Thor didn't even appear phased, all he did was tuck into a tumble and skid to the far wall, eyes on the floor.

"Stay. Back. Thor. I have neither desire nor energy to relieve your precious conscience of its regret. I am on Midgard for two purposes. One, to save our realms; Two, to slaughter the Other. Assuaging your guilt about our false fraternal bond is not one of them. You are my ally. Nothing. More." Loki's voice sounded stronger than he knew he actually was, or felt. He was not responsible for Thor's feelings, and he wouldn't roll over and just accept a meaningless apology either because it really didn't matter. Thor would get over it. Thor would get over him; he always was resilient.

"I will not leave you alone down here." Thor righted himself against the far wall of the storage room and Loki sighed through his nose, smiling wanly and shaking his head. He had forgotten Thor's stubbornness. When his magic calmed and he rested, he would beat Sesshomaru into the cement for not coming himself.

Loki didn't say anything else as he just leaned against the wall and drifted into a nightmare, which was, just in time, interrupted by a pulsing ice blue glow.

Chapter Text

Sesshomaru and the Shellfish.

*(*

It was a wonder Sesshomaru managed to contain himself.

He had sensed that Loki's magic was acting unruly, and he wasn't entirely sure why. He had delivered what he had thought was a sound strategy yet Loki the entire time reverberated with a strange, dark magic he could not place.

Sesshomaru, also, nearly, flashed his youki at the Berserker for daring to imply he would try to claim a strategy he created was Loki's. Didn't any of these ungrateful humans understand he didn't have to do any of this? This was a courtesy for a friend and their realm and these humans dared state that he would demean himself to copy Loki?

What had truly agitated the Demon Lord the most was that even Stark seemed interested to hear his response, and did not even question that he would never with a hint of integrity, attempt such a farce.

He would have thought, that at least Stark, with whom he had the most interaction would see that the Berserker's question was an insult. He was mistaken.

His patience had all but run out, if it had not been for Thor who agreed with Rin and Jaken he would have simply left, taking Rin, Jaken, and if need be Loki as well. He had already proven his honor when he asked Barton if he could reclaim his own by shooting Loki. He should not have to prove it again.

He shouldn't have even needed to prove it in the first place, especially to humans!

Afterwards, he found his simmering anger towards the humans paled when Barton asked his own question.

It was when his emotions, which were typically kept very well hidden and controlled, threatened to boil over and rip his composure apart. He hadn't thought about the question that Barton had posed seriously until now. He had simply thought that Loki had been foolishly convinced that ruling this realm in this time was advantageous and later regretted the decision. Or perhaps Loki had gotten wrapped up in a game of his that had gotten out of control.

He truly had no room to judge if Loki had gotten himself into a mess over ruling this realm. Sesshomaru had found himself five hundred years into the future, and he had little idea what could have changed in between the last time he had seen Loki, and this time.

He hadn't actually thought there was a being that could not only could capture Loki, but also make him do their bidding. Sesshomaru's opinion of these foes changed drastically. These alien foes had to be formidable indeed. He certainly needed to train with Bakusaiga more.

Loki's reaction, the words he spoke certainly had jarred Barton from his seat. Those words would haunt him as well.

Sesshomaru didn't quite understand what Loki meant that he had existed once, that he was 'reforged'. Sesshomaru knew that once a weapon was reforged, it was no longer quite the same weapon as before. He had done so with Tenseiga, and had seen what had happened with Tessaiga as well. Tenseiga, after being forged into a blade with offensive capabilities was never quite the same even though he had relinquished the abilities to Inuyasha in the end.

However, Tenseiga was still Tenseiga.

Did this Other not just control Loki's mind, but reform it somehow? How did Loki find himself in such a position?

And Barton…the way he jumped and said Loki's name as Loki's magic began to falter and grow into his home realm's own tree, showed this archer showed grave concern, and astonishment. Perhaps Loki's fondness for the archer is not one-sided after all.

But, really, Sesshomaru at the time had not thought about that in the least.

Sesshomaru was furious at himself, and these mysterious, alien foes. He would crush them. He would first make them bend to him, showing their backs. With talons sharp, he'd then cleave downwards, wrenching out their spinal cords with their heads still attached and launch them back at their own fleet, entrails streaming. No being, no entity, dare force dominion upon his pack.

This Titan, Sesshomaru vowed, would fall to the height of his true terror and power. He would flee from his might, and he would cut him down without a shred of mercy.

His red youki threatened to blaze out of control, he needed space from the humans. They could not see his misstep in not thinking that Loki could never be forced to kneel to the order of another. They could not see him lose control, this required delicate care.

Loki needed to gain the trust of the humans without his presence, and convene with his brother.

So, after Jarvis did indeed locate Loki in their room, Sesshomaru suggested Thor go down to check on him, he went to balcony to calm his red, lethal youki poking through Tenseiga's soothing whispers. Stark followed him and he told him he was leaving.

Sesshomaru recalled their brief conversation.

***

"You're leaving. Now!?  Loki is downstairs having some sort of PTSD nervous breakdown!" The shocked look on Stark's face struck Sesshomaru as odd. It was almost as if he had concern that Loki needed him. Loki could handle himself, and there were more important matters to take into consideration.

Like how he was a hairsbreadth from his Demon Blood wanting to break free and transform, which he would most certainly not show his true from in front of these humans, who would certainly attempt to attack him out of fear. He'd then probably slay one of them. What an inconvenience that would be.

"Yes. This Sesshomaru has had enough of you and the rest of your… friends' games. This Sesshomaru needs to go scout and train. Loki will recover." Sesshomaru had enough of this inane prattle. He sought assent from no one and tired greatly of these humans requesting explanations from him.

"Look, if this is about Bruce's question about you…uh copying Loki's strategy it wasn't an insult it just matched so well… " Sesshomaru's eyes bled slightly red. How could he see it any other way? These humans clearly saw him as a being of low honor…or…

Or that he wasn't intelligent enough to create his own strategy. A grave mistake on their part.

Sesshomaru resisted the urge to grab Stark by the throat again by cracking his knuckles that now glowed green.

"…you all doubt this Sesshomaru's integrity and intelligence. A costly slight." Sesshomaru bit out, his usual monotone voice held an edge to it.

"Ok Sailor Moon can you really—" Sesshomaru completely disregarded Stark as he maneuvered around him back to the living room to Rin and Jaken. Stark cut himself off seeing what he was saying fell on deaf ears.

"Rin behave, I will return in three days for you and Jaken." Sesshomaru regarded Rin with a clear eyed stare. Rin nodded resolutely.

"Will we stay here in this fortress with the humans Lord Sesshomaru?" Rin asked, looking around at the others who still remained in the living room.

"Of course we aren't staying with these wretched humans who don't appreciate our Lord's charity! Our Lord assists them in defending their realm and, in return they accuse him of deceit and treachery! These humans will be the death of all of us, even the death of that Magic God!" Jaken shook with anger and Sesshomaru for once didn't admonish him for it.

"Not Uncle Loki!" Rin gasped, putting a hand to her mouth

"Worry not Rin. I will decide on our residence upon my return. Jaken you are responsible for her care." Sesshomaru ordered and Jaken paled but nodded. Stark turned to him almost in alarm.

"So when you return you might just leave?" Sesshomaru almost ignored Stark's question however he instead turned to him, he almost could say his voice had an underlying tone of desperation and shock to it.

Why would it be shocking if he left was beyond his comprehension. He, Jaken and Rin could easily live on their own in this time.

The desperation, perhaps, was that the humans didn't trust Loki if left entirely to his own devices. This Sesshomaru, however, was no one's keeper, especially not Loki's.

"That is a question I did not give my consent to answer." For the first time since saying that particular sentence Sesshomaru's eyes didn't have a humorous glow to them. His voice cut through the room like a cold draft and with a swish of long silver hair he turned away from the remaining humans

***

Stark had continued to protest, stating they weren't a daycare. Sesshomaru informed him that Jaken was almost 400 years old and not a child. He had no time to argue, he had to go. These humans, they had no clue of his true, churning anger, of the rage that surged like high tide in his gut.

He also didn't understand why Stark would think he would assume responsibility of Rin.

Rogers also looked unhappy, so he blandly informed them he would keep his youki at a trackable level for either Stark's science device or Loki's magic.

It would be easy, he doubted he could temper it to a cloaked level at present anyway. He also wished, if any Demons existed where he aimed to scout, to dare challenge him. Let them fall by his talons, let their blood glisten on the grass.

Right before he departed, he left Tenseiga in their quarters, ordering him to guard the sleeping Loki, even from Thor who stood next to him, darkened in sorrow and shame, aura heavy. Tenseiga flashed in agreement and he was off.

He didn't trust the humans, and for his training he didn't need Tenseiga.

Rin waved goodbye and he informed her he would bring her back a gift and he went off Southwest in great bounding leaps, only Rin and Jaken understanding his clawing need to be free. He ensured the important technical documents were in hand and music device filled with the newest music recommended to him by Polly: A sound track for a film called "Queen of the Damned", Stone Temple Pilots, Prince, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Bakusaiga grinded against her sheath, eager to be unleashed.

He could hear no voices in the wind, so he turned on the music, listening to the soundtrack, unleashing his sense of scent to guide him out of the city.

'I watched you change, it's like you never had wings.' Change, by the Deftones played in his device.

The path he took between the sky scrapers immediately he was reminded of the first time he saw Loki unleash his true might, his true darkness.

***

He and Loki had been treasure questing in a far distant realm, the first time father had allowed him to do so alone. His father had to remain at home to deal with another tireless territorial dispute. However, he insisted to Sesshomaru to venture forth and learn. His father had no target for assassination for him, unlike a month ago when he sent Loki with him to challenge a pair of Panther Demons.

Sesshomaru decided to accompany Loki, knowing it would not be a dull or insipid waste of time. He had to prove to father he was capable of adapting to new places, and growing his adolescent power.

"Be wary though this canyon. Nidavellir secrets many traps and horrors; one must be always remain vigilant." Loki cautioned and Sesshomaru nodded, he felt many odd energies spiking, and he smelled death and decay growing with each step. The treasure they quested for was apparently a vein of extremely rare and powerful stone called uru. Loki sought to take some to forge special daggers of his own design. He stated it was imperative to forge these daggers, to prove himself.

Sesshomaru knew what he meant, they both questing to prove themselves for various reasons.

Sesshomaru cared not for the metal. He rarely cared for any of bounties Loki searched for. At first, if a bauble or item was intrigued Sesshomaru enough, he brought it back to his father for appraisal, which never met in any approval. So, now he avoided asking for any share in the treasure at all.

He knew the relationship was similar for Loki and his father as well. Though Loki coveted treasure for his own purpose, he did once witness him show his boon to his father who reacted with disinterest and patronization. This treasure quest, however, was different and it mattered not to Sesshomaru why. Surely Loki's father will cease to be so blind to Loki's abilities soon.

Loki strode ahead, sure in each step, though Sesshomaru could smell that he was nervous. He ebbed out his blue youki, to show any would be attacker just whom with they were dealing. He heard the slight movement to the right but smelled nothing. Sesshomaru's sharp eyes darted to the side, just not fast enough.

He dodged the first strike, just not the second.

Sesshomaru felt his bones crunch inward as he was slammed against the canyon wall by a great stone tail. Stones tumbled down the cliff side, one striking him on the right side of his head. His eyes wide, pupils and irises mere dots, gazed unfocused as blood was forced up and out of his lungs and into the air as a fine spray.

A great stone dragon, camouflaged into the canyon wall roared and reared its short neck into the air. The dragon barely had any scent at all. Sesshomaru assessed his damage, it was nothing he couldn't heal, though his left arm was pinned under the dragon's vicelike tail and his armor shattered. His ribs had buckled inward, and he could tell his organs were displaced and flattened.

He also couldn't breathe, a potential problem.

Sesshomaru flared his red youki out, gritting his fangs. He anticipated the tail to fling back, rebuffed by his youki, yet it held strong and sure. He collected, compressed, and pushed it forward again to no avail, it just flashed back at him.

Changing tactics, he lengthened his talons as long as he could, bringing them down upon the stone tail of the dragon, awaiting the hiss and bubbling of his toxin. It did not come. The toxin produced no effect on the hide of this dragon. Sesshomaru fought the panic brought on by his lungs crushing in; he would not lose his calm. He struck, and struck and struck again at the scales, hand bleeding, markings running jagged, he didn't have enough room to transform!

He then saw, in his periphery, a spiking obsidian mass. Loki.

The shining black magic spiraled out of the God like a lotus blossom and pummeled the dragon back. The petals spun and sliced the dragon's vulnerable underside, splashing a graphite scented blood across the canyon floor. The dragon roared, launching a massive column of grey flame against the surging black magic.

Sesshomaru summoned his whip, his thoughts sloughing through his mind. He had to assist. He flung the whip long, its span just barely reaching the underside of the dragon's heavy tail.

He heard a sizzle, but the tail pushed back into him, he felt his spine fracture and then break, he lost all feeling in his legs. He looped his whip around for another pass, again finding purchase against the tail. Darkness dimmed the edges of his vision; he had to hold out but his arm refused to move as fast as he ordered it to.

"I am Loki, Prince of Asgard you foul beast. You will obey me and release him!" Sesshomaru heard the words, but in no realm had he ever heard Loki's voice that menacing. Loki's black and green magic fired upwards like a beacon it darkened the sky. Sesshomaru struggled, but his whip began to fade. The dragon roared, its spade shaped fangs glinting in the magic and it swept its great clawed hand out at the God.

The hand immediately ricocheted back, a long thorn of magic impaled its palm. From the beacon of magic, more thorns of magic struck forth, skewering the underbelly of the giant lizard. Sesshomaru smirked weakly, his vision closing as his hand dropped to his side limply. Foolish monster to try to take them on.

It shrieked and writhed in pain as the lances carved sideways and eviscerated it. Its innards spilling free of its engorged gut, plopping onto the stone, putrid smelling and steaming.

The dragon fell with a dense, cumbersome thud, sending a tremor through the canyon floor not unlike an earthquake. The tail finally flopped, as if the dragon's death wish was to keep Sesshomaru in place as long as possible.

"Sho!" Sesshomaru heard his name as he slid down the craggy stone wall into a crumpled heap at the base, eyes struggling to stay open and focus. He choked on his own blood, not air. He must look a sight. He had to summon his healing youki before he lost consciousness! Sesshomaru focused finally, noticing a pale young man with shoulder length black hair and wholly black eyes in front of him. Strange.

It was then he felt air flood his mouth like a great gust, forcing down his windpipe and inflating his collapsed lungs. That. Hurt.

Sesshomaru gasped, immediately his Demonic instincts took over and his blue youki rushed around him like a tingling current, slowly healing his internal injuries first.

He coughed and sputtered, his lungs beginning to regain their shape, he felt various organs shift back into place, followed by his ribs, lastly his spine then his head. His body shook with weakness, at least he could feel his legs now. He had not known for how long he was sprawled out on the canyon floor like some newborn pup.

Loki. Oh yes. The treasure quest. He forced himself up to stand, his legs finding fresh blood pumping through them. He stood alone, Loki nowhere in sight, Sesshomaru's ears lowered.

Had Loki abandoned him to go forward with the quest? He would not blame him if he did; he miscalculated and imperiled himself and the mission. A costly mistake which also endangered the Mischief God. Sesshomaru's chest clenched which had nothing to do with a previous energy, and everything to do with shame.

Sesshomaru had never had anyone come to his rescue before. He cracked his knuckles awkwardly and sniffed the air smelling the fragrant pine scent of Loki nearby. He set out to settle a debt; surely he could find some of this fabled uru stone and demand Totosai to craft some daggers with it.

"I should not have brought you here, I apologize. My greed for a new weapon had blinded me to the reality of this place." Sesshomaru's ears pricked up, hearing Loki's voice on the other side of the dragon's corpse. He deftly jumped over it. Loki seated, next to a few stones, carved runes into the dead dragon's belly with his green magic.

"This Sesshomaru has never been led by any being. I go where I please, and do as I please." Sesshomaru set his jaw defiantly, clenching his fists. Loki immediately rose, his eyes now clear and green as they should be.

"You could have easily perished here! This dragon ate some of the uru I quested for! It turned his outer scales impervious to not only almost all weapons and venoms but also allowed them to absorb magic! It is sheer good fortune his underbelly had not succumb to the same enhancement otherwise we would not have been able to defeat it." Loki yelled, voice rising, pointing at the stones on the ground next to him. Sesshomaru narrowed his gaze, he would not be patronized.

"…you. You defeated it. This Sesshomaru owes you a debt. You may request something of equivalent value from this Sesshomaru." Sesshomaru squared his shoulders, pride splintered. He smelled the incensed anger flowing from Loki. He vowed this would not happen again, he would force the God to allow him to reclaim his pride. Sesshomaru understood he was a liability, he endangered his friend's life with his own carelessness.

Friend. Sesshomaru's ears lifted, he had never thought that before.

"It was my fault you were here in the first place! You deaf dog!" Loki shouted, flinging his arms out to the side. They were at an impasse. Sesshomaru quirked an eyebrow, deaf was he?

"You are sure to make me deaf with your shouting." Sesshomaru face stoic, voice smirking. Sesshomaru bent down to pick up one of the surprisingly light uru stones.

"And you render me bloodless from cardiac arrest!" Loki studied Sesshomaru who's eyes had lit up and surprisingly shoved one of the stones into Loki's chest. Loki blinked as the stone glowed a stunning red black.

"Quest complete. This Sesshomaru successfully flushed the beast out of hiding for your disposal and acquisition of the treasure." Sesshomaru allowed a quick gleam of a smile slice across his face. Success and victory.

Loki laughed, long and hard, green sparks shooting from his fingers, absorbing into the uru and out into the sky.

"Oh yes, while that was the outcome of the events, I hesitate to claim those were your exact intentions. Let's return to Asgard." Loki, still bent over from laughter, swirled his teleportation magic ring around them.

***

Sesshomaru's rage eventually waned as he scouted deep into green mountains, wide fields, salty beaches, and other human cities. One city had a tall white spire and a shallow pool to reflect it, but it did not have the building he saw in his scry. Bakusaiga insisted he must find his mother's tomb, yet another aim for this scouting trip.

Scry. Another reason for his scout was to train with Bakusaiga to get more powerful as a weapon and to control the scry better. He could not allow another moment of vulnerability like the first scry. Yet, he wanted to attempt it again, albeit being in full control. He had to understand precisely what had occurred. Bakusaiga? His daughter?

Could that infernal Storm God actually be right about something?!

He still encountered no Demons. Which disappointed him not only because he ached for a fight, but it further cemented his belief that the entirety of his kind was gone.

He bounded further South, finding a long, narrow island with a black and white tower that revolved with light. This island, despite the revolving light tower, had the best view of the stars he had seen since coming to this realm. He would take Rin and Jaken here.

Again, no sign of the flat, salty, white land. So he continued on, making note of all human military outposts he smelled along the way. He eventually found a great tiered waterfall to practice his katas in, getting better control and confidence with Bakusaiga. She had become quite unruly since the magic gate, but more powerful. The next time he scryed, he would be successful. He had a plan.

He enjoyed the solitude, but he had become unaccustomed to it, and looked behind him a few times, almost thinking he would see Jaken or hear Rin. He wasn't sure when the silence became unusual, except the 'hear ain'ts' also reminded him of a specific debt he owed to a certain human.

The second night he overheard from a great distance from some wandering humans there was a city on the coast with delicious human edible goods. He also picked up on the word crabs.

Ah, yes. A good gift for Rin, she adored the shellfish.

He ventured there, as far as human metropolises went, Sesshomaru appreciated this one's beauty. It had large gnarled, budding trees, a tall clock tower, buildings old and short, and lights that shone warm and inviting.

He waited for nightfall before he took off his boots, fur, armor, and haori to wade out into the ocean to gather some crabs for Rin. He procured a discarded bucket and gathered a few crabs then hesitated. A rarity.

His initial anger and wrath had subsided and it allowed him to gain a clear-minded, objective insight into his and Loki's situation.

'Perhaps the humans had a right to have reservations on the ethics of my war assembly. Loki obviously had not long ago been their enemy, and humans in general,tended to hold grudges and distrust Demons. In particular, humans from this time did question everything. Even their commander Fury questioned Loki's shape shift and even I saw how Loki was identical to myself.' Sesshomaru smelled and heard more crabs beneath the surf. He debated.

'Loki seemed to believe we need the humans' help to defeat these alien foes. Though by no means am I forced to stay with Stark in his fortress, it would be logical to reside in the tower to observe the humans' behavior' Sesshomaru noted the crabs circled him, perhaps the animals of this time remembered Demons at an instinctual level.

'I also doubt Storm God will allow his brother to leave his side after seeing his confession. I will not abide Thor following Loki and I about this time like a petulant pup. Storm God in the tower is easily distracted by those humans and their games. Especially that game on their device called a television.' Sesshomaru's ears rose, under the water the crabs began to act as if they were going to attack him.

'If Storm God were to travel with Loki, Rin, Jaken and I, it would eventually spark a fight. I'd rather not have to kill Loki's brother, Rin does like him.' Sesshomaru flared his youki out faintly and the crabs stood down.

Sesshomaru sighed through his nose while standing in the ocean, the cool waves lapped up to his knees. He also had a debt to repay to Stark.

As quick as Thor's lightning, the Demon Lord gathered the circling crabs in the large bucket and made his way back to the Big Apple.

Along the way North, he put down the bucket and absconded down a beach near what he could discern was a large naval base. He found he enjoyed sand between his toes. He would inquire about the enormous naval stronghold; it could easily be a target for their approaching foes.

He also found he enjoyed the four musical artists Polly have him. Nirvana remained his favorite. He understood what Polly meant when she stated "you sometimes need some rage music" in reference to the Queen of the Damned soundtrack. The Stone Temple Pilots were also quite favorable, though inspired no rage.

He supposed his new list, in order of preference would be Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queen of the Damned, then The Counting Crows.

Sesshomaru wondered, absently, what Stark would think of his musical preferences.

He hadn't slept in most likely over a month. He was active the previous four weeks patrolling the borders of his lands and upon arriving in this realm, he did not trust it. He felt weary, he had kept up a brisk pace, even for him. Along with the katas, honing Bakusaiga, and keeping his youki up, and his emotional turmoil; he muscles and mind were fatigued and drained.

Exhausting his wrath is what mattered, which was achieved. He would assist in defending this realm, but more importantly, regaining Loki's honor and his own goal of becoming the strongest he could be. This 'Mad Titan' Thanos would kneel before him.

And if that meant suffering the presence of these humans, so be it. Sesshomaru was not one to cave to difficulties easily.

Slipping into the tower through the roof access, he made his way to the kitchen.

With a dump of a bucket, he deposited the angry crabs in the sink, they clucked and scrabbled. He shot them with a burst of youki to calm them and poured water and salt over them.

Salt. The white land. He searched and smelled for his mother and salt but only sensed the vast ocean. He would find his mother's tomb. His mother would have answers and even more importantly the Meido Stone father entrusted her with.

He needed to procure the Stone, it would now be his responsibility though he wanted nothing to do with it. He never particularly enjoyed their meetings, she never bothered with him much throughout his life and she irked him.

Sesshomaru understood his mother never prioritized him, his father, nor his father's Lands, but her haughty attitude in addition to her apathy soured his attitude towards her.

"Welcome back Sailor Moon." His ears pricked up and he saw Stark silhouetted in the doorway. He didn't necessarily catch Sesshomaru by surprise, rather, he was surprised at himself for relaxing his ears that it Stark who greeted him, and not another.

Sesshomaru nodded in return, he still had no idea why he kept calling him a sailor. He never much favored sea-going vessels, the moon part was obvious.

"Whatcha got there?" Sesshomaru smelled the human spirits of scotch on Stark. Sesshomaru turned and gestured to the sink, now active with hissing and clicking crabs.

Sesshomaru debated playing the question game, but Stark was acting placidly enough, for once, and he was tired.

"Twenty-four crabs." Sesshomaru replied as Stark made his way over to him, his body moving more fluidly than usual. His hair looked unkempt and his expressive mouth quirked up into a wry smirk. Sesshomaru had come to anticipate Stark's expressions he conveyed by even doing even the smallest actions. He also liked his facial hair, it was not common in his time and it always intrigued him.

"Christ you're weird." Stark looked into the sink, scratching the back of his head. Sesshomaru's ears lowered defensively. So much for him acting placidly.

"Rin enjoys them." Sesshomaru explained lowly, he started doing too much explaining to the humans, especially to Stark.

Stark huffed and crossed his arms as if not believing his explanation. Stark wasn't the typically handsome human, such as Bedclothes, that Demonesses were notoriously attracted to, he was a different sort of striking.

"Didja get em in Charleston? The city you were in that has those trees, bad southern accents, and old buildings." Stark's voice slurred, Sesshomaru looked at him, noting Stark was watching him intently with dark, glazed eyes, as if that wasn't the question he really wanted to ask.

So they did monitor his movements.

"...I am going to retire." Sesshomaru felt slightly uncomfortable with Stark staring at him like he was a puzzle to be solved, especially indecently dressed in nothing but short pants again. Sesshomaru couldn't read him, especially when inebriated.

Stark grabbed his wrist in an impulse, his hand was calloused and made his skin feel afire. Sesshomaru didn't shake his hand off, his instincts would disapprove if he had.

"Are you sticking around? Cuz we needta know. I want to know." He heard Stark ask, hand still on his wrist.

Stark wanted to know? He knew no strife had occurred while he was gone, his barrier would have alerted him. Clearly they cohabited with Loki well. His presence was unnecessary. Why did Stark care if he stayed?

Sesshomaru looked back at him, noting his strong jaw, straight eyebrows and broad shoulders. Though the man was shorter than himself, he held himself tall. Sesshomaru, upon further analysis, decided he would grant Stark another chance to understand his greatness. The human was far too… enthralling to write off.

"Yes." Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes as he felt Stark's fingers graze over his magenta wrist marking, tracing it. This drunk human called him weird?

"Good. You're not sleeping in that stupid storage room anymore. We got a spare room up here, with like, actual furniture." Stark gestured with his other hand down hallway.

Good?

Sesshomaru realized he was simply letting this human hold him. He had never allowed anyone to engage him like this. Ever.

"...you can release this Sesshomaru." Stark balked, as if he didn't realize he was holding him, and released his wrist. His skin memorized the traces his thumb made, as if missing his touch. He needed sleep.

"Yeah, well goodnight." Stark turned to walk away, Sesshomaru's ears lowered, Stark's posture had slumped just a little.

"Indeed." Sesshomaru responded rarely and turned to go down the elevator to his room, head spinning with the bizarre encounter.

Why exactly had he allowed that with Stark? Why did his youki react that way to his touch on his markings? His youki wished for it again and Sesshomaru had no clear idea why. Stark was a useful human, intelligent, attractive, resourceful, and somewhat amusing.

But a human.

'Humans, in my own time, were filthy, disgusting, dimwitted creatures. The humans from this time, however, possess great ingenuity. While I have spotted many overweight and undesirable humans in this realm, I have also encountered many attractive, intelligent ones. Such as that Jason Sisson, whom insisted I meet him at some juncture to drink human spirits. And Stark…Stark is…' The elevator doors opened and immediately he was thrown harshly against the back of the elevator, head ringing.

Loki had recovered.

Sesshomaru was in no mood for a spar, nor to be honest the best condition. He saw the rage in Loki's green eyes and blocked and dodged his flurry of kicks and punches barely. This was unexpected. The elevator walls were dented and punctured through from Loki's fury. Sesshomaru winced as one magicked fist connected with his kidney.

"How dare you flee! Are you that disgusted by my weaknesses?! You have little idea what happened to me! How dare you judge me so!" Loki flew off the handle and Sesshomaru cracked his talons and corroded the now closed elevator door to escape. He darted through the corroded opening only for Loki to gracefully bend through as well in pursuit.

'What in the Four Lands is he speaking about?' Sesshomaru arced out of the way of a magic bolt that scorched the wall of the hallway, summoning his whip he began to counter the incensed Loki. Loki intercepted his own whip with magic vines, knocking the toxin whip back before it could hit Loki.

Loki summoned a special dagger, one that he had not used in their previous spars for a good reason.

"This Sesshomaru does not flee. Lok -" Sesshomaru was cut off by a dagger flying and slicing deep into his shoulder. Sesshomaru growled knowing the dagger was laced with a magical poison. The poison raced and burned down his arm and through his chest. Sesshomaru gritted his fangs. For a normal Demon or Half-Demon, it could cause death just like his toxin.

Loki's poison, however, on him, just burned his blood and caused him to heal at a sluggish rate, zapping his body of his youki, and youki producing capabilities.

"Don't lie to me. You couldn't face me! You sent Thor to deal with me. Do you regret our friendship so?! Do you see me as that beneath you?!" Loki's black magic danced, filling the hallway in thick, pine fragrant vines and thorns.

Sesshomaru, again, had no idea what caused Loki to become so illogical. He knew Sesshomaru did not lie. Did he not approve of Tenseiga's presence? The proximity barrier alerted him to when his allied Demons, including Tenseiga and Bakusaiga, were in danger. If Loki had been in peril, he would have known through Jaken's presence but Tenseiga would have also aided him if he befell an ambush before he could return to the Tower.

Loki's magic thorns turned to spiked mines, like seed pods from the sweetgum tree. They vibrated with unstable, sparkling black energy. Sesshomaru knew he didn't have sufficient youki reserves, especially now due to the poison, to counter it without Bakusaiga, which was not an option. She would certainly decimate everything, and aim to kill Loki.

He could hear her scream to be unsheathed. No, he could not risk it, even though he could feel that Jaken certainly had Tenseiga. Sesshomaru knew Loki was prone to emotional outbursts. he would not slay Loki or gravely wound him without sorting this out.

"This Sesshomaru doesn't li-" a chain reaction of exploding spiked mines exploded and the thorns rocketed in all directions. He threw up a youki wall to slow most of them down and rebounded off the walls, floor and ceiling to dodge the rest, however he wasn't fast enough.

One sparkling black spike got him right beneath the right ribs, the other his right knee. He landed heavily on his left leg, though still standing. His body singed due to the magic and it rose off him as black steam. His youki began to burn inside him, something deep began to resonate. Loki was a threat.

However, he felt sluggish and his vision blurred slightly from the poison. He was cornered, this was not ideal. Tenseiga was most likely not close enough to command, and he wanted Tenseiga to stay by Rin's and Jaken's side if indeed Loki had truly become mindless with rage.

"I'll remind you how strong I am. How capable I am." Loki looked positively incandescent, his eyes began to bleed black. Sesshomaru was beyond perplexed, he had only seen Loki's eyes that shade of onyx once before. The uru stone quest. Sesshomaru, now, was quite irritated and he felt his talons lengthen, much longer than he usually kept them.

He rose to Loki's challenge.

Loki threw his hands out, and Sesshomaru half let his hands be bound by magic, half didn't feel like struggling. He needed to lure Loki in closer to get a handle on the situation, to be in range of his whip and possibly tear him to shreds. No. Not that. The magic blistered his wrists and the stench of his burned flesh began to fill the air. His wrist's markings on the wrist Stark had touched not minutes before turned from magenta to red.

His youki rebelled, an attempt to placate Loki backfired as his markings began to morph and his eyes bled red at the corners. He had to defeat the threat at all costs. He had to protect what was his. His possessions were in peril, and he would shred Loki apart if he did not submit.

Loki ratcheted up his black magic, producing more spiked, sweetgum tree bombs. His eyes were black slashes of ruthlessness across his face.

Sesshomaru's eyes bled fully red, his talons already were the length of daggers, his mouth crooked up into a sinister smile, all his teeth became sharp as knives. He unleashed an invisible wave of Killing Intent straight at Loki, he was ready to slaughter. He didn't know if Loki felt the bone chilling, gut emptying horror of his Killing Intent, or if Loki's immense, ballooning black magic protected him from it because at that moment his bloodlust was interrupted.

Bakusaiga pulsed.

He then heard a mechanical click.

"You got both your hands full, Loki. I can put a bullet in the back of your skull. Do the math and let Pretty Boy go." Sesshomaru blinked the red from his eyes and his markings thinned. Sesshomaru's teeth returned to normal and his talons slimmed and shrunk back down to an appropriate length.

Romanoff. She was armed, dressed in bedclothes and did not look happy. She was not bluffing.

'What was…what was that? I have never lost his composure like that before…no wait. I have. Loki and the glade, with the Aesir. It was very similar to what I felt back then. My pack was threatened just now. No one was permitted to endanger my pack, not even someone within it. Yet, Rin and Jaken did have Tenseiga…they were most likely safe, so why did my demon blood react that way?' Sesshomaru straightened, he had not even realized he had hunched over into a launching position for an attack.

Loki's magic wavered and disappeared then he blinked the black out of his eyes. Sesshomaru kept a stoic gaze as he began to walk, with a mild limp towards Loki, inwardly shaking from adrenaline and his own youki. He looked to Romanoff, her voice sounded steady, and she didn't shake, but her pupils were pinpricks.

She had succumbed to some of his Killing Intent. Perhaps that is why she took the action she did. He did not miss her clinical assessment of him, he was quite fine, wounded, but in terms of mental status he was clear.

"Impeccable timing as always miss Romanoff." Loki turned and walked into the substorage room 3-b. Sesshomaru barely quirked an eyebrow. Loki had most likely held in those emotions since he had departed. He knew that Loki, when he did not release his emotions in a healthy way, collected them, and his magic would somewhat take over.

Not unlike his own Demon Blood.

Pause.

"Lover's quarrel?" Romanoff tried at humor and put her gun away. Sesshomaru exhaled through his nose. Her eyes were back to a human's typical pupil size. Sesshomaru wondered absently which among Thor, Loki, or himself the humans would most dislike engaging in battle.

"...we supposedly have much to discuss." Sesshomaru replied, with humor, to assuage Romanoff's lingering fears he was about to tear something, or someone apart. He then attempted to heal his wounds and mend his clothes but it failed. His youki jittered inside him still, his left wrists' markings were still an odd shade of crimson.

Bakusaiga rattled unhappily.

"I'd say so. You did just take off after he had a panic attack and breakdown. I don't know what you expected. Try to work out your issues without bringing tower down this time." Romanoff crossed her arms, seemingly convinced he and Loki were of sound mind. "Also see if you can get Glow Stick in there to fix the elevator door you melted." Sesshomaru glanced to the elevator and it was mechanically still trying to close a mangled door.

And in a haze of green the door repaired, along with the elevator walls.

"Thanks Glow Stick! Y'all kiss and make up, we need a stable Sesshoki." Romanoff stepped into the elevator and Sesshomaru quirked his head to the side attempting to figure out how she got down to this level without it.

Mysterious woman.

Sesshomaru wondered since when the humans and Thor assumed their relationship was beyond platonic. It wasn't he who Loki placed that incredibly strong, and intricate protection spell on, but Barton.

He entered the room and was unsurprised to see a soundly sleeping Rin and Jaken tangled in his pelt he had left for them, Tenseiga glowed in Jaken's arms. They always slept too soundly. Loki sat on the tall crate tower Sesshomaru usually preferred. He joined him.

"This Sesshomaru left not due to any perceived disgust or condescension towards you." He began, looking to an unusually silent Loki. Loki's eyes were darting about and his hands shook. Sesshomaru confirmed his magic didn't burn him out too much.

"You left me in a tower filled with mortals who used to be my enemies and a clueless Thor after I revealed…that particular confession to them. You deserved it." Loki's words held an edge of dark humor.

"Storm God and his friends needed to establish trust with you without this Sesshomaru present." Sesshomaru articulated and Loki snorted, not really buying it. Sesshomaru inwardly growled, had he had known Loki would be this…jarred by his departure he would have simply done away with his fury by leveling a nearby mountain and saved his scouting for later.

Loki, as valuable as a friend as he was, could be quite puzzling with his emotions. Perhaps relaying his emotions to Loki would make him understand his decision.

"...I also felt great ire towards the humans and my own lack of insight into your actions. It was not productive. I left you Tenseiga. I went scouting. I returned with twenty-four crabs." Sesshomaru fumbled, speaking of emotions did not come naturally to him. Loki looked to him, his eyebrows slanting in dubiousness and his lips tugged into a ridiculous grin.

"You have the oddest way of apologizing. Crabs?!" Loki laughed softly. Sesshomaru quirked his eyebrow. Apologize? This Sesshomaru? Perfect, this…Mischief God went and twisted his words. He refused to even address it.

"...Rin prefers them. Stark also mentioned it was peculiar. He physically engaged this Sesshomaru in the cooking nook." Sesshomaru explained, yet again. Loki looked to him in epiphany. Loki scanned him as if he would his magic runes and Sesshomaru had no idea what he was looking for. It oddly felt like when Stark regarded him.

"Ah, so that explains it." Loki said cryptically. Sesshomaru's ears flattened and eyebrows furrowed. Sesshomaru didn't know what he meant by that. He refused to make Loki expound, because he knew Loki purposefully baited him. Whatever Loki meant by it, would be revealed in due time.

"Get some sleep, you look worse than when you fought those Panther Demons." Loki shoved him slightly, Sesshomaru allowed it, knowing it was Loki's way of somewhat recognizing and respecting the level of patience and mercy Sesshomaru allowed him. In a way, though Sesshomaru now was completely spent, it was informative to know that if he ever found himself backed into another literal corner, his Demon Blood could be counted on. However, that was not necessarily a good thing, he did not wish for Loki's death, Loki was one of his pack.

Sesshomaru turned to face him once more.

"It was an error on this Sesshomaru's part to misunderstand you." Sesshomaru drilled. He had to ensure Loki comprehended that Sesshomaru, in no realm, wished to miscalculate his friend like that again. He should have been more astute.

"...it wasn't so much that methinks, as much as you had too much faith in my abilities to not be confined against my will." Loki smiled softly. "Which, is refreshing to constant underestimation, of which I am used to. I should not have doubted your opinion of me. The dagger was overkill." Loki shrugged and Sesshomaru remained silent.

Pause.

"They refer to us as 'Sesshoki'." Sesshomaru murmured, thinking of Romanoff and his Killing Intent.

"Of that I am quite aware. They find our friendship one that may not be platonic. Most likely due to the fact we do not attract much in the way of friendly bonds." Loki sighed heavily and Sesshomaru bounded off the crate without his usual grace. He would have to heal his leg first when his youki returned. Loki followed and they sat beside each other.

"Goodnight 'Sho." Loki's voice almost sounded like an apology and a taunt mixed together.

"...do not think you are above reproach Trickster...what was it? Kiki, that one Phoenix demoness called you?" That earned Sesshomaru a death glare as they slept against each other sitting up against crates in the dead of night.

At least until early in the morning, he awoke quietly and touched Bakusaiga's hilt with a right hand.

Immediately he heard Bakusaiga sing, and his senses melded once more. Again, the darkness he could taste, his senses creating the great pool of endless, viscous, glass-smooth Demon blood. He stepped down again into the warm, entrancing pool, tasting its iron tang with his feet.

He repeated the steps he did as on the helipad, waiting for the blood to reach chest level, his silver hair webbing out behind him like a veil. He kicked up, only instead of submerging, the golden eyes appeared above him. Bakusaiga.

She rippled above him until eventually solidifying into the Rin-sized form he now knew well. It was if he always knew this was Bakusaiga and had to be reminded.

"Father, you are early. You have not found Grandmother yet, and even worse you let that depressed magic user wound you! You should have wielded me! I would have shown him his place. Instead you almost allowed your….nevermind. Why are you here Father?" Bakusaiga's wide gold eyes flamed and her small fist swirled with green youki. Her white twin tailed hair bristled outward like wings. Sesshomaru did not understand why she hesitated on the last sentence, but he would not be baited into asking.

He had important business.

"I need to scry. I seek someone." Sesshomaru's voice echoed out from the walls, Bakusaiga tilted her head to the side, ears lowering. It was then Tenseiga appeared, face tight, not warm and friendly like before. He almost looked disapproving, and a touch afraid.

"Father, we need to find Grandmother, I cannot guide you to any path until we do. She holds my map of the Astral Plane." Bakusaiga admitted, crossing her small arms, face scrunched as if unwilling to admit such a weakness.

"My Lord, we understand you have been placed in a precarious position, and with a new gift, but patience must be exercised here." Tenseiga sounded tired, his triangle ears were flat against his head, imploring his Lord to listen. He greatly resembled Loki. His mouth was Loki's so was his nose and the shape of his eyes.

Yet, those ears reminded him of Inuyasha.

"This requires immediate action." Sesshomaru contended and Tenseiga let loose a long, heavy sigh. He slumped, quite unlike his demeanor so far, as if a great weight suddenly crushed him.

Bakusaiga put her hands on her hips, wide child-like eyes boring into Sesshomaru's. She stood for a long moment, lips pursed, cheeks flushed in irritation.

"Fine. I am the strongest weapon in existence after all. I can put you on the Astral Plane, but I cannot guide you. Whatever you see, whatever sees you, it's something I cannot aid in until I hold the map. Finding Grandmother was easy because she wanted to be found by you, she guided us. Don't say I didn't warn you, Father." Bakusaiga lifted her arms above her head, the blood from the pool collecting and compressed into a tight sphere above her head. He stood in air.

Tenseiga, despaired, faded slowly away, shoulders slumped as Bakusaiga glowed briefly green

"All astral bodies, heed my command! I am the dominant Bakusaiga, most majestic weapon in existence! Grant my equally great wielder the object of his scry!" Bakusaiga's voice rang out like a gong and all the sudden the blood rushed out of the sphere. Bakusaiga then shot down like a comet, holding onto Sesshomaru's left arm, transforming into her sword form.

She vanished in an instant. The pool reformed in front of him.

Sesshomaru made a horrifying mistake.

Chapter Text

Tony and the Neurotoxin

*(*

Tony woke up to a sizeable hangover. He vaguely remembered tossing back a good portion of a bottle of scotch after his prototype proximity barrier failed. Even Bruce shook his head when it didn't work. Something was off with the displacement system.

He also wanted to be good and drunk before Sailor Moon came back, which he could tell would be around late that night based on his speed and trajectory.

The past three days everyone took by themselves, all coming and going because what happened at the Doomsday meeting took a lot of processing.

The Avengers were on board, they just now had to convince, well everyone else. Fun.

He, Bruce, Steve, and Nat had a good time taking bets on 'Where in the world Sesshomaru San Diego' would go next. Bruce won most of the time, which impressed Natasha, which was hard to do. No one knew how Bruce knew that Sesshomaru would go to Bee Cove Falls, South Carolina. Natasha did correctly guess Cape Hatteras. Steve correctly guessed Norfolk. No one guessed Charleston, South Carolina.

He did wonder how Loki would have done if he had participated, but the only interacted with Clint and Thor. Everyone saw him of course, but he never said anything. Which wasn't surprising, he also never walked around without Sailor Moon's sword, N*sync.

Tony wasn't sure what to make of that, Sesshomaru didn't look like the type to share.

Tony had originally expected Doomsday night to be a huge arduous, pain the ass argument over Sailor Moon strategizing a séance, an animal sacrifice, and pentagrams. Yet, he didn't even mention firing heads out of catapults of people he decapitated personally. His strategy, eerily, mirrored Loki's, just instead of a hole in a city wall, a space portal, and instead of a fire attack, a nuclear warhead.

To say that Tony was impressed, was a considerable understatement. This guy was for real.

And then of course they royally pissed off the prissy Demon. Man could that guy take things personally, and in the worst possible way.

Didn't he get Bruce didn't mean it as an insult, but if anything it was a compliment? His version was so spot on that Bruce thought it could have been copied?

Really, Sailor Moon was way too touchy.

Tony remembered the conversations he had with Bruce about the iridium on the helicarrier three years ago and that once he obtained it from Stuttgart he could make the portal as large as he could.

He also recalled how he told Loki that pissing off the Avengers was a bad plan. A terrible plan to succeed with an invasion, but a perfect plan to fail one.

He was also right about Loki being a diva. No one had realized that the whole thing was a play, and they were actors all performing to Loki's script, dancing to his beat. It angered and impressed him. Loki was smart. Almost too smart.

Bruce, however, was right about him being bag-full-of-cats crazy. Loki lost everything, but as they say the show must go on.

And it wasn't like SHIELD wasn't in the wrong. They were the ones who tinkered with the tesseract. Fury wanted to weaponize it. Thor was probably right, if it wasn't Loki who came for the disco cube, it would have been someone else.

'That didn't mean that SHIELD was right about weaponizing the tesseract. No one knows it's capabilities, not even me nor Bruce. Nuclear deterrents aren't the answer here. We need to be smart. We need defense. We need specialized tactical weapons specialized for our enemy.' Tony thrashed under his sheets trying to get comfortable again.

Which, is another reason Loki brought Sailor Moon to the 21st century. He was their literal secret weapon. Just as importantly he was a weapon SHIELD couldn't point and pull the trigger on.

Oh. Yeah.. SHIELD.

Of course they had to let SHIELD know about Reindeer Games and his bestie Sailor Moon. At first on doomsday night Tony figured the Avengers would have to come to some sort of consensus on what to do with Reindeer Games.

Executing him was off the table. Not only because Point Break would bludgeon them and then Sailor Moon would use their bones as toothpicks, but if Loki knew the enemy, they would need his knowledge of Thanos, the Other, their ships, and what other Power Ranger putties they had to worry about.

Tony had been cycling his mind between either creating some sort of containment field for Loki, or just sending him to some sort of SHIELD black site. But it sure sounded like if Azkaban on Asgard couldn't hold him, SHIELD couldn't. And if Tony couldn't get his proximity barrier to expand correctly, there'd be a big delay in creating a whole magic-negating containment field.

Yet, the whole issue on: 'What to do with the super villain who just decided to flip sides and buck his superiors' was moot as soon as Sesshomaru answered Clint's question.

Tony had felt the pressure drop from Thor, and the temperature drop from the Demon Lord instantaneously. Tony knew. He knew exactly what happened. Because the exact same thing happened to him in Afghanistan. Tony sat straight as a board as Sesshomaru dripped his toxin onto his floor, and black and green smoke came out from behind Loki's eyes and ankles.

Loki stood broken, panicked, and on the verge of losing it, and he understood why. The one person he thought he couldn't really have much in common with, and here he was, they could join the same support groups. They could probably swap prescriptions. Loki had been taken apart, tortured, and then sent to do their dirty work.

'I still have the nightmares, the waterboarding, the terror. They aren't called terrorists because they couldn't find something better to call them. PTSD isn't a cute walk through a poppy field.' Tony rolled over in his bed, tangled in sheets, not wanting to get up.

Thor, the poor guy, was just frozen. You could've taken Mjolnir from him and he wouldn't have noticed. Actually, everyone froze except Nat who, freak of nature, probably saw this one coming. She moved for her gun, just in case Loki combusted.

And, it all clicked for Tony at that point. Sesshomaru had had the utmost confidence in Loki. To Sesshomaru, Loki was uncontainable, maybe unbeatable. Sesshomaru looked up to Loki. And that meant Sesshomaru viewed Loki as someone at least on his level in power and intellect.

Which alarmed him. They really had no idea what Bambi nor Sailor Moon were truly capable of, still! Point Break was the closest one, and he apparently had memory gap issues.

Clint that night literally jumped like someone tazed him. This was the same guy who put eight arrows into Reindeer Games, who probably even tried to light him up with the Quinjet's turret gun. Clint had moved up to be noticed by the smoking God. Clint's voice sounded like plea that went unheard by the God and the Demon Lord. He just said one word: 'Loki?'.

Loki's words had darkened the air as he turned into a damn magic tree in the middle of his living room. He so called it on house plants, by the way. Just what had he gotten himself into now?!

Then, poof, he was gone! Tony immediately asked Jarvis where. When Jarvis reported back that he was in substorage room 3-b, Sesshomaru menacingly glared at Thor and all but ordered Thor down there.

'Well, who's kidding who. Sailor Moon did order Point Break down there for what was probably going to be some really awkward, past due, brotherly bonding time. Thank biology I am an only child.' Tony remembered Thor walked past them in a trance, dropping Mjolnir along the way like a forgotten sandwich.

His poor floor. First Sesshomaru's mountain dew goo melting it, then Mjolnir denting it. Maybe he could charge that to Agent.

"Good morning sir. Miss Potts is here. Everyone is currently in the central room with the exception of Sir Sesshomaru and Mr. Barton." Tony groaned, groping his side table for ibuprofen he knew existed. Clint was probably out firing arrows into apples with Fury's face on them.

"...jus callim Lor Sessomu." Tony replied half muffled by his pillow, Sir Sesshomaru just sounded too weird. Tony found his advil and downed three tablets with a gulp of what was water, and thankfully not vodka. Tony still had to get Clint back for that one time he pranked him. Tony rubbed his eyes and got up to enter the bathroom.

"Of course sir. I dropped the temperature in the kitchen to accommodate the crabs, though I do urge they be cooked soon." Jarvis informed Tony as he turned on the shower.

"Good thinking Jarvis, we will have a good ol family reunion. I'll even get the potato salad." As Tony began to shower it all clicked back in mind.

The crabs. Sesshomaru. He actually grabbed him. He caressed his fucking stripe. He asked him if he was going to stay. At least he said yes. Since when did he sound so needy? Tony squirted out way too much shampoo in frustration. What exactly was he thinking? Why did he care if he stayed?!

The past three days he avoided thinking about what Sailor Moon would decide. Tony wanted him to stay. He had gotten used to him. Where would the fun be if he decided to leave? Whose ass would Tony watch, maybe even smack again?! Hopefully do more with… no. Bad. Idea.

And of course what would happen if SHIELD found him and decided they wanted a new guinea pig? Like Tony Stark would let that happen.

"Jarvis remind me never drink and think again. Or touch the Demon Lord. Or any combination of the two." Tony called out, he turned the water cold due to him thinking of a certain testy Demon Lord naked made him hard again.

"Noted sir." Jarvis responded and Tony finished his shower, brushed his teeth and slung a towel around his waist. Throwing some gel in his hair and slipping on jeans and a Black Sabbath t-shirt he saw it was only 10:39 am. Not bad for a hangover. He spotted the red and gold Japanese outfit hanging out of place in his closet. It wasn't that bad to have variety, right? Tony wasn't sure why he hadn't gotten rid of it yet, or why he hung it up in his main closet, and not in some sort of storage box.

Tony blamed laziness, he wasn't going to touch the real reason why with a yardstick.

He walked out into the main room to see Rin making pincher motions with her hands, everyone seated, some eating, Steve was watching the pregame to a baseball game with Thor. Loki stood next to Rin, looking freshly showered. Pepper stood with her hands on her hips.

"Rin, your father has a lot of explaining to do. How can he sleep in this long? Oh good, Tony you're up. Go get Sesshomaru, he's slept in long enough." Pepper was all business and Loki translated some of it to Rin who chatted back. Why him? Why did he have to get the Demon?

"Rin says that Sesshomaru is not her father, but her Lord, and that Sesshomaru has not slept in over a month which is why he is not present." Loki responded, though Tony heard a hint of something hiding in Loki's voice. Like perhaps that wasn't all what she said. Natasha didn't say anything, or react in any way however. Neither did Point Break.

"I think that breaks your record, Tony." Bruce pointed; Pepper did not look amused. His own record may have been like four days, but then again he was a 'mere human…or mortal' depending on which supernatural being in his tower you asked.

"Lord Sesshomaru does not require as much sleep as humans do! His stamina is unmatched!" Jaken squawked, and Tony couldn't help but smirk at the innuendo. Natasha also picked up on it, seeing the glimmer in her eye. However, not knowing Toady he could have meant it both ways.

"Do not get me started with you, Jack. You are the absolute worst babysitter. I don't even want to know what you fed Rin when Sesshomaru was gone." Pepper glared at Jaken who huffed. "Tony." Just then the man of the hour entered, looking worse for the wear.

Tony definitely didn't remember his shoulder bleeding last night. The right side of his outfit had been singed off, revealing a nasty raw, blistered wound below. He looked around and Rin went up to him and said something and he shook his head.

"What happened to you?" Tony blurted out, noting while Sesshomaru looked as impassive as ever, he looked paler than usual, which meant he was transparent. Everyone turned to Sesshomaru in response. Sesshomaru definitely didn't seem like the type to display wounds, and his youki could heal him, so why hadn't he done it already?

"...a spar." Sesshomaru responded as Rin picked up a flailing crab. Sesshomaru tapped her on the head gently. Rin, laughing, waved it in the air.

Wouldn't Rin care more that Sailor Moon looked like he had gone through a ninja blender? How used to seeing Sesshomaru injured was she?

"Lover's spat. But don't worry 'Sesshoki' are back on. We can post it on Twitter." Natasha took a sip of coffee and Tony pretended not to be pissed at Loki as he went to get his own coffee. So, Loki decided to take out his Post Traumatic Stress on Sailor Moon?

Tony supposed it would make sense. If Loki challenged Thor, he would be basically challenging the Avengers, and not that Loki could hold much of his own in a one on one fight against Thor.

'But picking a fight with Sailor Moon after he got back from what was essentially an "Eat Pray Love triathlon?" Low blow.' Tony's attitude soured, Sesshomaru didn't look like it phased him, but his ears were flat against his head the entire time he had been upstairs. Tony knew that wasn't normal.

"Brother! That is not the way we greet our loved ones on Asgard!" Thor stood from the sofa in an outburst and Steve turned to Loki as well.

"Well we aren't on Asgard are we Thor?!" Loki shot back. Sesshomaru turned from the both of them, looking bored as usual, except Tony saw his eyes didn't seem to be focused on anything really.

"Hey, guys, the game is about to start!" Steve announced, obviously trying to get Thor distracted. Pepper marched up to Sesshomaru.

"You can't leave your daughter spontaneously for three days to go off loafing about. Jaken is a horrible care taker. He even told her not to bathe because he was afraid of the bathtub. And when I took her to the dentist, and the doctor for a work up the dentist said she has had baby teeth knocked out and the doctor said she had fractures, stab wounds, and evidence of concussions. He said he was surprised she was even alive! Care to explain?" Pepper nearly exploded. Sesshomaru's knuckles cracked, Tony even noted his ears lowered.

"...are you implying this Sesshomaru is negligent?" The temperature in the room dropped a good ten degrees. Fuck. Everyone backed up, even Natasha who instinctively went for a paring knife. Well, everyone except Pepper, Jaken and Rin. Rin just tilted her head up at Sesshomaru, obviously she had no idea what got him so pissed, again.

"No. But someone or some Demons obviously did something to her." Pepper stood resolute and Sesshomaru calmed the temperature in the room gradually warmed. Tony let loose a breath he didn't know he was holding, why couldn't they just have a nice, peaceful morning when he had hangover? Why did he have to prepare for defcon-2?

"Rin, do not listen." Sesshomaru advised and Rin put the placing the crab back into the sink and plugged her ears and hummed a song Tony didn't know.

"The humans do not treat orphans well in my time. Rin was no exception. She was attacked by a local wolf tribe and left for dead. This Sesshomaru then took her as a ward." He explained, and tapped Rin who looked back up to him. Pepper stilled. It was hard to remember life five hundred years ago was pretty brutal. Everything now made total sense.

Everyone looked to cheerful little Rin.

"I apologize. Thank you for your explanation. You still can't just go off on your own anymore." Pepper scolded and before Sesshomaru could respond Tony decided to cash in his request.

"Yeah, about that request you owe me. You can't leave New York City without another Avenger. That's my request. And Loki so doesn't count. You guys together are a disaster waiting to happen." Tony smirked triumphantly. Sesshomaru stilled, clearly not liking how Tony decided to use that request.

"…Very well. This Sesshomaru accepts." Just then Clint stormed in with a bag and slammed it down on the counter in front of Sesshomaru. Toady jumped and Sesshomaru's eyes widened a fraction.

"You got those blue crabs right? Straight from Charleston?" Clint asked, looking a little tense and a lot more awkward. He acted like a teenager trying to apologize for taking the family car for joyride and hitting a mailbox.

"..." Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow, as if to say he should already know the answer. He shifted his weight to his left leg, which Tony now saw his right pant leg was burned off, and the skin on his knee looking pink and raw. Loki definitely got the drop on him, Loki didn't have a scratch. Tony took an angry gulp of his coffee, burning his tongue.

"Here, I got this for you. You don't eat crabs right? This butcher is an old friend of mine. This is the best venison in the city." Clint still sounded awkward as hell while boasting. Then it made sense.

The Quinjet, Nat slamming Clint, Sesshomaru blocking them and Loki looking savage as all get out. Clint wanted to attack Sailor Moon, not Loki. Christ, everyone had anger management issues. It's a good thing that Loki and Clint are now taking it out on each other in their 'Fight Club' sessions. Let them beat themselves up over their issues and leave Sailor Moon out of it.

"You appreciate the shellfish?" Sesshomaru asked, sounding a bit innocent while peering into in the bag.

"Like a good bullseye." Clint answered. Sesshomaru smirked slightly, feeling vindicated, looking at both Loki and Tony. Tony took another big sip of coffee. Tony didn't feel guilty for making fun of Sesshomaru. Bringing back a bunch of crabs is weird. Clint is weird.

"This Sesshomaru accepts your barter. You may have first choice of crabs after Rin." Sesshomaru's ears went up and his eyes lit with humor. Clint jacked back his elbow and fisted his hand in victory.

"So not fair. This bartering thing has gotten way out of control." Tony took another gulp of coffee. Bruce shot him a knowing look.

Stupid intelligent Bruce. He should have never had that drunken heart to heart with him last night.


 

"Tony, Sorry, trying to get a proximity barrier up in running using the juice of a guy who isn't here just isn't panning out well. We should just wait till he comes back." Bruce threw his glasses down in defeat.

"That implies if he actually sticks around. He really took what you said the same way Pepper does when I say things: totally wrong." Tony put down the proximity barrier trigger mechanism in defeat.

"He'll stick around. He just needs time to cool off. He was putting off some pretty nasty vibes, like he was about to go full wolverine on something. The other guy didn't like it." Bruce replied and for once Bruce was the optimist.

"…yeah, Sailor Moon better stay, Reindeer Games has been on edge, and just carries his stupid sword N*sync everywhere." Tony leaned back in his workshop chair, watching the youki bubble and not expand, almost halfway through the bottle of scotch.

"He hasn't been the only one on edge." Bruce looked to Tony pointedly.

"Who me?" Tony leaned forward, taken aback.

"Well, yeah, you. You're fixated. You've either been out of it or showing Rin Japanese subbed Bill Nye the science guy videos, probably to win her over so Sesshomaru won't take off again. You made bets on where he goes, and what music he listens to. Since when do you care so much about stuff like that? You're totally mystified by the guy." Bruce pointed out, taking a sip of his own tumbler of scotch. Tony poured another for himself.

"He's an unpredictable Demon Lord who is harder to read than the Zodiac Killer's notes and he is Loki's bestie. What's not to be mystified by? The bets were to distract everyone from Bambi's psychotic break." Tony took another sip, and another. Bruce wasn't convinced.

"I think it's more than that. You slapped his ass on the helipad and carried him down to your basement, then dressed up like him. Do you even remember the way you botched your 'hear ain'ts' delivery because your jaw was on the floor?" Bruce lifted his glass as if to cheers his own epiphany. Tony rolled his eyes.

"Ok, one, worth it. Two, bet. Three, indecently dressed." Tony explained, rather poorly, the scotch getting the better of him.

"Worth it?" Bruce asked, clearly amused.

"…He's got a good ass. And he still got me ice cream afterwards. What's a Playboy to do?" Tony admitted and Bruce scoffed.

"What will you do if he leaves?" Bruce retorted and Tony rolled his head and his eyes.

"Have Point Break follow him around singing sonnets until he comes back. You know how bad his singing is, and he already gets under Sailor Moon's skin" Tony smirked.


 

"I'll get biscuits we can all have dinner tonight and strategize for how we are going to get SHIELD on board." Steve piped up. Teacher's pet.

"...you can have the next choice after Barton." Sesshomaru affirmed, Loki looked amused to hell, glancing in Tony's direction for the first time in days.

"I can get shrimp cocktails." Bruce's smile was too damn big. He knew this would send Tony over the edge.

"Can we cool it with the bartering?" Tony groaned, how did this get so out of control? They were just crabs! Crabs! If they wanted seafood so bad he could have gotten some!

He could also call up his butcher. He was probably better than Clint's too. He could get Sailor Moon a way better cut of venison.

"Says the billionaire. I'll make a fruit salad, no strawberries." Natasha chimed in, pointing to Pepper who smiled, Tony grumbled again. He had almost forgotten that one time he got Pepper all those damned strawberries.

"I can have Happy swing by the bakery and get a key lime pie." Pepper offered. Traitor. Loki looked to her direction, smiling in anticipation. He did like lime sherbet! And Pepper was indulging Loki. Loki! What in the name of thermonuclear astrophysics was happening?!

"I shall procure more human spirits! Brother accompany me!" Thor exclaimed, not bothering with his inside voice. Loki rolled his eyes, but didn't say no. That, again, was the most expression Tony had seen the God make since his episode.

By the end of the exchange, there was a damn list, Tony was at the bottom with potato salad. Tony never bottomed.

He did need to get laid. He looked over to Sesshomaru who was still inspecting his steak. Sesshomaru definitely looked like he topped.

Eventually everyone went their separate ways except Sesshomaru, Rin, Jaken, and Tony remained in the kitchen.

"We will depart soon Rin." Sesshomaru murmured and she nodded, continuing to color. Jaken looked irritated.

"Lord Sesshomaru, I can't believe you this Magic God's attack upon you go unpunished! These Gods and humans spell disaster! This realm is not your responsibility. I do not wish to see more harm come to us!" Jaken accused, practically jumping and Sesshomaru frowned slightly.

"Do not doubt this Sesshomaru, Jaken." Sesshomaru reassured half-heartedly, as if he neglected the word 'please'. Tony studied the distracted Demon Lord, he caught the blank look in his eyes, the tremor in his hands.

"You don't look so good, Sailor Moon. Go shower so you don't look like motorcycle crash victim of the Isle of Man TT. Pepper got you new clothes, they're in the closet in the spare room." Sesshomaru looked to Tony and he hated the way his gold eyes seemed so sharp and distant at the same time.

Sesshomaru nodded slowly and Tony also didn't like new found obedience. He wanted Sailor Moon to banter with him like he did the morning of the microwave incident.

"He'd be fine if that damned God didn't use his magic poison on him! It's slowing his healing process!" So that's what's got Toady in a spat. Loki could poison Sesshomaru. Great. Poison! Maybe this was Game of Thrones after all.

Loki had clearly been though a lot, and it's obvious that Sesshomaru was the only one he trusted here. Loki must have had really took it personally when Sailor Moon left. Both of them took everything too damn personally.

'Maybe I should have a chat with Loki about poisoning people in my own Tower.' Tony decided to pour some whiskey in his coffee when he refilled it.

"So does your poison affect Loki the same as his does you?" Sesshomaru turned to Tony, face unreadable. Tony had thought that it would spark some sort of emotion in the Demon, but none surfaced. It was like he was deep within his own mind.

"It is a neurotoxin." Sesshomaru corrected, eyes gazing past him, walked by Tony to the bathroom. Tony remembered the other day when he smiled and this was not even close to the same person.

"That would make more sense if you were like a Snake Demon…since when do Dogs even have venom?" No response from Sailor Moon "So is it the same?" Tony prompted, trying to goad him into giving him more information, more anything than this…zombie.

"With Loki, it tampers with his ability to access his magic temporarily. On him and others depending on the potency and amount, causes extreme pain or death." With that Sesshomaru slipped into the bathroom, sounding as if he was a thousand miles away.

'I guess he isn't feeling chatty, but I got what I needed. If his toxin works that way on as powerful as Loki, it can probably work on the Chitauri, or Thanos and The Other. The magic hampering ability aside, it would be good to have weaponized. Not that I make weapons wholesale anymore, these would just be for Clint, Natasha and I. SHIELD wouldn't be getting access to these.' Tony reassured himself and his brain lit up with possible ways he could use his toxin, perhaps even in the repulsors in his suit.

Specialized, tactical warfare. Better than a nuclear deterrent.

'Thanos. The Other. They have the power to imprison Loki, to turn him inside out and make him say how high when they ask him to jump. They scared Loki into risking his 'better half' to come to the future, to risk his own life. These guys are serious bad news and we need some serious bad news weapons to take them on.' He automatically began to walking up to his workshop where he found Bruce had already started working.

"Sailor Moon says his green goo is actually a neurotoxin that can temporarily block Loki's access to his magic." Tony informed, and Bruce looked up impressed.

"If we can properly synthesize it, we can put it in bullets and on our other weapons. We can get a huge advantage on the Chitauri and their magic." Bruce leaned back, eyes up thinking of all the practical purposes of the toxin.

"Yeah, and remember what Thor said a few days ago? Sesshomaru's youki basically neutralizes magic of a same strength. Sesshomaru is basically a sorcerer's worst nightmare." Tony felt bit less desolate about the world coming to an end. Again.

"More like opposites. Loki did a number on your new crush. It's too soon to say that he is the answer to our prayers here." Bruce ribbed and Tony furrowed his eye brows.

"Tony Stark does not crush. Tony Stark merely observes beauty in many forms, and dabbles in...well most. He is just a form I currently like observing." Tony replied, as non-chalantly as he could, knowing exactly where Sesshomaru was in a shower nude, wet and shimmering.

No. Tony. No. Focus on work.

"So, is that why you were uneasy, bored out of your mind, and drinking like a fish the past few days?" Bruce barbed back, all snark. Tony knew where this conversation was heading.

"Hey, I'm just observing him, nothing more. I'm always bored, and that Demon is weird. I mean crabs? Michael Jackson? And I always drink like a fish." Tony defended, he wasn't lying, he had his special coffee, things rarely kept his attention for long, and really hadn't done anything but observe him, well except the whole wrist thing.

"You're not bored when he's around, you're interested in his youki and toxin, and you haven't expressed the same interest in Loki's magic. Also, your face looked like murder when he came in this morning looking like roadkill." Bruce twirled a screwdriver and Tony fought the urge to smack it out of his hands.

"Temporary interest, if that. Once I figure him out, which won't be long, I'll move on to the next bigger, better thing. You know how fickle I am. And I am not about to ask Loki if I can study his magic when he seems as chill as a tire fire. And this morning I hadn't had my second cup of coffee yet. You know how I am under caffeinated." Tony took a sip of his spiked coffee. It didn't taste as good as he wanted it to.

"Me thinks the lady doth protest too much." Bruce smirked and Tony almost threw a bolt at him.

"Ugh, not you too with Shakespeare in the park. Even if I wanted to act on my impulse to study more of his physique than just his toxin, he's complicated. This whole thing is complicated. Tony Stark doesn't do complicated." Tony spun in his chair a bit, still thinking of how he was going to break it to Rhodey tonight about Loki and Sesshomaru. Guess he could invite him to dinner.

'Oh yeah, Rhodey, come by for dinner! We got a huge dinner party, oh yeah, and that's a Demon Lord, from five hundred years in the past. He has a human daughter and a Toad servant. Oh, and you know who his best friend is? Yeah. Loki! Remember him? Yeah, turns out he is on our side. Oh well, damn Rhodey maybe you shouldn't have shot the both of them. Bullets only piss off the Demon Lord, yeah he can melt bullets…Oh, and Loki? He can turn into a tree and teleport out of prison.' Tony imagined Rhodey shooting both of them before they could even get to dessert.

"He doesn't seem too complicated, just guarded like someone else I know. Also, you do both speak in the third person." Bruce must be feeling particularly funny today. Tony rubbed his beard wondering how integral Bruce was to the proximity barrier project. 'Aka project electric fence.'

Tony twisted his face, beginning to tinker that was another thing he had to get Sesshomaru's opinion on. Maybe he knew how to make it viable. They could make it bigger, disperse into orbit….

"Sir, Lord Sesshomaru requests entry into your workshop." Tony dropped the bolt he was fiddling with and Bruce chuckled. Tony. Fucking. Stark. Get a grip. Literally.

"Uh. Let him in. Let's see what Sailor Moon wants." Tony said as a freshly washed Sesshomaru came in, wearing a white t-shirt and dark wash jeans. He looked less intimidating in normal clothes that's for sure. God, he was crazy, scary good looking, even in just a white T-shirt.

Tony glanced down at the slender wrist he touched and saw it was blistered over in 2nd or 3rd degree burns, same as his right wrist. Did Loki try to tie him up?

A flurry of rage overtook Tony, out of the other wounds Loki dealt, this one inexplicably grated his brain like a soft cheese. He took another deep gulp of his whiskey fueled coffee.

That was it. He was going to give Bambi a piece of his mind. This was his damn tower, yeah Loki may have some serious PTSD but that did not mean he could burn his friend's hands off because he was too pissed to deal.

Tony locked eyes with Sesshomaru and it was if he had said his thoughts out loud because Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed in comprehension

That was…creepy.

"You seem curious of my toxin, and my youki, am I correct?" Sesshomaru's voice, while stoic, sounded almost soft. Tony nodded, trying to ignore the way Bruce's eyes taunted him. Dick.

"We need every advantage we can get, as you can probably imagine these guys aren't going to show up with muskets. Your neurotoxin is one of the strongest corrosive substances I have seen, and your proximity barrier could easily be an early detection relay if we can make it larger." Tony explained, twirling a stylus because he positively needed something to do with his hands.

"I see. You wish to try to use my toxin on weapons to give you a tactical offensive advantage and my youki for defensive purposes." Sesshomaru looked contemplative, focusing on the holograms in front of him.

"That's the gist of it. Except your toxin also eats through everything, well except Steve's shield which is made of vibranium. It would make it exceptionally hard to analyze." Bruce stated, looking at Tony, seeing his expression darken.

Pause.

"I have a barter to propose." Sesshomaru stated, looking directly into Tony's eyes, his gold eyes gleamed to life for the first time. Tony cursed that his treacherous heart skipped a beat, the moody Demon was a huge problem for him.

"Fine. Great. Is it more seafood?" Tony spat back with sarcasm, the best defense mechanism. Sesshomaru caught it.

"I will provide you my toxin and my youki, if you produce a similar ear device to allow Rin to understand what the humans here speak." Tony was blown away. A personal translator? Could he do it? Yeah. He was Tony Stark, master genius. Besides, anything to snap Sailor Moon out of his funk, ahem and of course for his toxin and the 'electric fence'.

"Yeah, I can figure out a 'com'rin'acator' for her. But we can't really study your toxin without it...well corroding everything." Tony responded and his answer was placed immediately in front of him. Sesshomaru's silk outfit.

"This is Spider Demon silk. It is infused with my youki. My own toxin will not corrode through it." He cut off a portion with a sharp talon and out from his talon dripped the acid green toxin. Sure enough the toxin beaded up on the square of silk, like it was hydrophobic.

"Convenient. Wait you're sure you want us to confetti your party dress?" Tony looked up to him, and all he wanted to do was to dominate him. Sesshomaru tossed his hair. Total Priss.

"I can regenerate it if you leave a good portion intact. I have already trimmed of the portions that had been stained with my blood." Sesshomaru informed him, Tony didn't know if he did that so he didn't have a sample of his blood, or out of his previous reaction the morning of the microwave.

He wasn't going to lick his blood again. That was for sure.

"Demon Lord and seamstress. Good to see you don't subscribe to traditional gender roles. But no seriously I'll get on Rin's thing, and this helps. Thanks." Tony groaned. Did he just say thanks? Seamstress? Why was he trying so hard?

"Can we get some more toxin samples before you go?" Bruce asked the smart question and Sesshomaru silently cut off more pieces of his outfit and put more drops of toxin onto them.

"Wait! Who did that ice cream chick give you to listen to a few days ago?" Sesshomaru turned back, ears up.

"Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots, and a soundtrack to Queen of the Damned." Sesshomaru answered simply.

"Oooh, Queen of the Damned, Vampire soundtrack for the Demon Lord. You know because you both eat humans." Tony prompted. Sesshomaru eyes glittered in mirth.

"This Sesshomaru will not consume a human in this time." Tony and Bruce leaned back, um. What? Tony had not been serious about that. At. All.

Tony knew he had fangs like he ate people, but did that mean he actually did?! Goddamnit this was something he'd have to ask Thor about, and he better not have memory gap issues.

He had Hannibal fucking Lecter in his Tower!

It was then Sesshomaru revealed a small smirk.

'This impossible Demon is fucking with me. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully. I don't think my liver would pair well with a nice Chianti and fava beans. well, I mean, plenty of people have tasted me just in a completely different way.' Tony finished his spiked coffee.

"Ahem. Ok Silence of the Venison, uh…let's stick to music...which band is your favorite?" Tony would have to have a crush on the most dangerous person on this planet.

"In order of preference, I enjoy Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the soundtrack and lastly The Counting Crows." Sesshomaru listed and Tony fist pumped and twirled in his chair, forgetting the cannibalism.

"Oh, Lord." Bruce groaned and Sesshomaru looked to him. "Oh, not Lord as in you, Tony won the bet on which band you'd like best from the four we knew about." Bruce explained, putting his hands up and Sesshomaru tilted his head to the side.

"Finally! Can't wait to rub it in Nat's and Steve's faces. Sorry Whitney, but you so look like a closet grunge fan." Tony celebrated and Bruce hid a laugh.

"...you are the first to choose correctly." Sesshomaru's ears wiggled a bit. Those. Ears. He wanted to bite the edge of one. He wanted to do more.

"What?! Not even Polly your ice cream side-piece got it right?!" Sesshomaru shook his head and touched his side, it glowed blue and his wrist healed, the skin returning to its usual, unmarred smooth ivory and magenta. He wanted to grab it again, to reclaim it.

"…facinating, my youki is returning. I can now provide you with a youki sample." Sesshomaru's eyes widened, almost surprised at his own youki, then healed his wrists and then put his finger to his folded outfit, and it glowed blue, thrumming as if alive.

"You have assisted this Sesshomaru. I will be off." And with a swish of long hair and a light in his gold eyes he was out the door and Tony was having fun watching him walk away. He really did have a good ass when his hair wasn't in the way.

Pause.

"You are crushing." Bruce carefully picked up one of the silk squares with the toxin. Tony then touched the glowing blue outfit, expecting it to shock or hurt him, but instead some of it streamed up his fingers and wound into his arc reactor.

Tony hadn't predicted that.

"Not factual. He's just a temporary distraction…who I happen to like watching walk away. Jarvis run this toxin will ya?" Tony placed one of the toxin squares on a small imaging platform. He ignored the youki thing, for now.

The platform glowed and whirred to life, instantly images of molecule appeared on the screen. It was a chemical combination Tony didn't recognize, which definitely surprised him considering he knew almost all of them.

"It is a previously unknown chemical compound, however it does have some ancestral roots in what appears to be prehistoric Flora, the closest relative being Dendrocnide moroides. The highly venomous Australian gympie gympie tree whose reputation is 'once stung, never forgotten.' Its toxin has been known to drive some people to suicide the pain is so intense and long-lasting." Jarvis informed and Tony and Bruce looked at each other uneasily.

"Good to know that after I nearly got my leg singed with it." Tony grimaced and Bruce poked at one of the drops with the screwdriver, nearly dropping it as the metal immediately began to melt and corrode.

"The toxin's corrosive properties appear to also be in the same range as Fluoroantimonic Acid, the strongest acid known to human kind." Jarvis reported and Tony immediately moved any water nearby.

"His neurotoxin, unlike fluoroantimonic acid, does not combust from dihydrogen oxide however." Tony still kept the water away. He didn't need another explosion.

Super weapon. Tony called it.

"And he just makes this faster than Starbucks makes their pike roast." Bruce admitted stared at the molecular compound on the screen rotating.

"It's incredible. It's like the best of both worlds. If we could separate these two compounds out, we could have something that could use on inorganic compounds and something to use against organic ones. We could also make them more potent, increase their effectiveness. Hell, I really could put this on the repulsors." Tony zoomed in on some of the more unstable dipolar bonds.

He wasn't sure how exactly he felt about going back into the weapons business, but he was going to make sure only he, and the Avengers had access to it.

If SHIELD could have their secrets, he could have his.

"Clint will love this. Natasha too. Regular bullets and our explosives may not be enough this time around." Bruce conceded, spinning the now ruined screwdriver.

"We can make you some big brass knuckles coated in the stuff, you know, 1930's prohibition style. Steve will probably love it." Tony grinned and Bruce rolled his eyes.

"I think the last thing the other guy needs is the ability to melt people." Bruce put his glasses on and they got to work. Tony had managed to actually make a proper chamber to house the toxin, after studying the spider silk, for his repulsors.

"Sir Miss Natasha Romanoff requests your presence." Tony leaned back, visibly annoyed. They had just gotten a breakthrough on the proximity barrier by siphoning off the youki on the outfit, adding it with the artificial youki, and putting into capsules. They weren't quite ready yet but it was a great improvement.

Bruce had been mostly working on deconstructing the toxin, separating its molecular structure into the two compounds.

Tony got up, mostly because he could use another drink.

"Alright, tell her highness I'll be right out." Tony walked briskly out of the lab only to be immediately confronted by Natasha.

"Tony, not to pull you away from winning the science fair, but I need you to come with me." Natasha sounded more serious than Tony would have liked. Tony sighed, he was on such a roll and whatever this was about was going to be far from what he actually wanted to talk about.

He approached his bar, and poured himself, strangely enough, a Singapore Sling…he was in the mood for gin, maybe that Demon was rubbing off on him since gin was the only thing he had seen Sailor Moon drink.

"I'm not wearing the cosplay outfit again…and if you made a montage of me wearing it and me tangled up in that fur thing to the song of 'Dont Stop til Get Enough' by M.J. you have got another thing comin'." Tony added a lime to his Singapore Sling. Goddamn limes. He couldn't get rid of Sesshoki from his mind.

"Another thing coming? Really Tony like what?" Natasha challenged as she made her way past the living room and surprisingly enough into his own bedroom where Thor stood.

Oh. Kay.

While he could definitely use a good lay, he doubted this would end up less complicated than getting with a certain Demon who he really wanted to drill through his sheets.

"Well…apparently something of the discovery channel variety." Tony, while flattered Natasha and Thor had not only invited themselves into his bedroom, and himself for what could easily be interpreted as threesome, he somehow doubted that was the case.

Natasha snorted. And he took a sip of his drink, gin wasn't that bad.

"As if you could 'playboy'. And no, this is simply the one place where the others can't hear us." Now at this point Tony knew Natasha was fucking with him on purpose.

"Oh, I don't know; Point break has never been known inside voice. And well, me, let's say I'm not bashful." Tony winked and Natasha shook her head. Poor Thor again, looked quite confused. Tony drank for effect.

"I had thought we convened here to discuss my brother and Son of Taisho. If this is meant to be another sort of intimate affair, I will have to—" Tony cut off Thor before he could continue.

"Natasha? Sailor Moon and Bambi? What about them?" Tony became suddenly interested and only half serious. Natasha took that as a cue to shift her weight.

"Last night they got into it, and as I could tell, and still can discern, you aren't happy about it. I witnessed something when they fought right before I broke it off. Tony can you bring up the security video for the elevator and subfloor 3? Aim for about 3:45am to 3:55am." Tony's eyes widened in surprise, he didn't think anyone else was awake then. And Natasha was down there?

Tony took another drink of his Singapore Sling also felt a little sheepish that he hadn't thought of pulling the camera feed himself earlier.

Jarvis replayed the camera feed, he had installed new cameras down there after the steakhouse debacle. Looks like they definitely came in handy.

Tony studied the footage with Thor and really didn't like what he saw. First came the elevator fight where Loki threw Sesshomaru back, who was clearly not expecting an attack. That spiked the temperature in his blood.

Loki fought like Odin was going to marry him off to Thor. He was all reckless fury, and the entire time was shouting something not in English.

"Aye, he held quite a large amount of ire for Son of Taisho for leaving." Thor pointed out, which was convenient because Sesshomaru had responded in a tongue that was not English either. Tony had to assume Natasha didn't know what they were speaking either because she turned to Thor. He drank again.

Tony watched as, from what he could tell, Sesshomaru attempt to deescalate the situation, and get a dagger to the shoulder for the effort. That dagger had to be poisoned because he saw the Demon Lord, for the first time ever, react negatively to an injury.

"That's the gist of what I got from his ambush, but that's not what I wanted you two to look at…here." Natasha pointed and Jarvis froze the video.

Loki had summoned spiked mines, all glittering and black, He had vines all over the hallway that blocked or parried any blow Sesshomaru's toxin whip could land to disrupt his magic. The most disturbing thing was how white his skin looked, and how completely black his eyes were. It was almost as if the black magic had taken him over.

This. This is what Loki was capable of, and he was just amping up. Tony's spine shivered and his arc reactor's temperature may have cooled a degree.

Loki's body language, his black magic, rather than the green magic he was used to seeing when he and Sesshomaru sparred, screamed to Tony that Loki wanted to cripple the Demon Lord.

"I have never seen my brother this way, nor do I know why his magic has taken on a flora theme as of late. I can only say that he reserves his black magic, like Allfather, for powerful spells, like conjuring me to earth three years ago or aggressive attacks." Thor explained and Tony sighed through his nose. Great, Thor was little to no help. He didn't envy Sesshomaru coming back to that welcoming party. Anger jabbed his lungs that he was cornered by Loki like this. He took another quick sip of his drink.

"So I observed, it's not over yet however, check out how Pretty Boy reacts here…" the video continued and he saw Sesshomaru artfully dodge almost what could be described as a cluster fuck of black magic bombs going off, getting knicked by two spikes.

He landed heavy and Tony clenched his glass, he knew that Sailor Moon would end up fine but still. He couldn't logically dampen his frustration; he was glad he was hiding it well from Natasha behind his drink.

Then Loki restrained him. This is what really made Tony's blood simmer, obviously if Sailor Moon was serious about this fight he would have used his Backstreet Boy sword by now. Sesshomaru was holding back.

But Loki wasn't holding back….wait.

"Stop it here Jarvis." Tony was suddenly interested because Sesshomaru's eyes bled fully red, just like how he had seen them after his scry, and his claws were almost wolverine length. He also, noticed the blood from his wounds that had gotten on the floor, strangely pulsed.

But what really caught his attention was his smile. It was cold, sinister, predatory, and his teeth were all sharp, the farthest thing from what he usually saw from when Sailor Moon fought. Not at all the smile he wanted to see again. This version of Sailor Moon could eat someone.

Loki, for being so smart; was a moron. He cornered a pissed off Dog Demon. Tony studied Thor's reaction, he didn't seem shocked but at the same time his face was stony and serious.

He then saw Natasha enter the frame from a ceiling drop and Sailor Moon unleashed an invisible shockwave that rippled through Loki's magic. Loki frowned for a moment, only for his lips to upturn as if in response to a challenge.

Natasha, in the feed took a half-step back and Jarvis paused.

"Tony, you've studied their magic and youki. What was that?" Tony had no idea. He hid behind his drink again, drinking.

"Yeah, not sure about that one. Whatever it was it couldn't have been that powerful, it didn't cancel out any of Loki's magic and we couldn't see it." Tony supplied, just realizing that Sesshomaru hadn't used any youki yet.

"Not powerful in terms of damage, but whatever he did, chilled my bones. Nothing does that. I barely could hold my gun straight and this wasn't even aimed at me. This triggered a response in me just like when the Other Guy comes out. Loki before feared Hulk, he should've backed down but instead it looks like he was about to fully engage. We are beginning to see what they're capable of." Natasha explained. Tony rocked back on his heels.

"Miss Romanoff, I believe what you experienced was Son of Taisho's Killing Intent. His reaction here is his Demon Blood has taken control of his mind." Thor approached.

"So he wanted to kill Loki here? And… just what about his Demon Blood?" Tony started, angling the feed to a different camera for a different, closer viewpoint. He sipped his drink.

"Demons, when serious about a duel, a kill, or intensely provoked will unleash this effect. As for his Demon Blood that is a bit more complicated." Thor seemed to be speaking, with his mind completely elsewhere. Tony and Natasha turned to him, eyebrows raised.

"You see friends, most Aesir thought of Demons as you see here, bloodthirsty, savage and mindless. They did not have a positive opinion of Demons because when left with no other options, their Demon Blood will take over and they revert to a ceaseless bloodlust. Nothing, save exhaustion, their own death, or the death of their target, will stop it." Thor explained, as if sifting to properly explain what he saw before him. The room fell eerily silent.

Yet, despite this, he still had a hard time rectifying what he saw on the screen with the man whose ears twitched when he guessed 'Nirvana' correctly.

"Why did this not escalate further Thor?" Natasha pressed. The video continued and even Tony saw the pulse of green energy at Sesshomaru's hip, the Backstreet Boy sword. After that, and Natasha drawing her glock 17, they all saw the blood erase itself from Sesshomaru's eyes, and Loki followed suit.

"His sword, Bakusaiga, must have helped him see reason. This…behavior from Son of Taisho is quite abnormal. In all my fights against him, or alongside him, he never acted this way…neither did my brother. They are both under much stress here…I feel as though as I must train with Mjolnir after seeing this." Tony noticed Thor shift uneasily.

Thor must obviously felt some sort of responsibility to help them both through this, or at least be the one person to count on to deescalate this sort of situation, not Natasha.

"If you think you couldn't break up a serious fight between those two Thor I'd advise you hit the gym do what you need to until you can. If they can't control themselves, or we can't, SHIELD will. It'd be detrimental to hand them over to SHIELD but I will be given no other choice if this happens again." Natasha was as serious as a car bomb. Tony didn't want that to happen. At all.

"At least Bruce has company in the rage monster department. Oh… and Thor, pop quiz, do Demons eat people!?" Tony pointed to Thor and that caught the golden haired God's attention. Natasha's eyes got wide, even she didn't think about that.

"Aye. Though not all Demons did, some were herbivores." Thor supplied Tony's jaw dropped. Natasha just muttered something to herself inaudibly. Sesshomaru definitely wasn't a vegetarian.

"Of course Loki would have a best friend who eats people." Then Thor caught on.

"Make no mistake my friends, Son of Taisho though he may be what mortals refer to as an apex predator, he sees the consumption of humans as beneath him. He wouldn't feast upon you all." Thor elaborated, putting his hands up. Great, Sailor Moon wasn't going to eat them not because of ethics, but because of his own arrogance.

"I'm insulted." Tony put his hand to his chest in mock offense and Natasha just snorted.

"I won't report to Fury you're jealous you haven't been eaten yet." Natasha admitted and before Thor could respond there was a knock on the bedroom door and Tony shut off the holoscreens. They had to monitor them, he couldn't let SHIELD have Loki and Sesshomaru as test subjects, and realistically Thor wouldn't allow it either.

"Come in and join the fun, Point Break was just about to put on some Barry White." Tony called out and Bruce entered.

"Sorry for interrupting was looks to be a new type of team building exercise." Bruce smiled wanly.

"Exercise with emphasis on cardio, Coach Natasha said I needed to do more." Tony admitted and Natasha rolled her eyes.

"Wouldn't hurt, though I wanted to let you know I separated and began the synthesis of the toxins." Bruce said it to Tony, but was looking at Natasha. They both were thinking the same thing: she couldn't tell Fury.

"You scratch my back I'll scratch yours. A barter." Natasha smirked and Tony groaned. Goddamn impossible Demon Lord started a bartering obsession.

"Fine. I'll adjust the locator to react to changes in his youki intensity and monitor Loki more as long as you don't tell SHIELD about our toxin…damn barter system." With an affirmative look from Natasha, Tony finished his drink and noticed the odd look Bruce gave him for his choice in fruity cocktail.

"Singapore Sling?" Bruce raised his eyebrows and Tony just grinned as they left his room to go back to the lab.

"I think if everyone else in my tower is going fruity I'm allowed to as well." Tony replied mildly, entering the lab to begin work on the 'Com 'rin' acator' and his own suit.

Chapter Text

Loki and the Fight Club.

*(*

Loki had been enjoying a leisurely cat nap on the balcony which he truly needed after being dragged out by Thor to a mortal's spirit store and using quite a bit of magic making that speech necklace for Rin.

Sesshomaru would have never asked Loki outright to make something of such for her. But he could tell she ached to speak to more than a handful of people in this region of Midgard, and he had the means.

So he created a translating necklace for her, and he could tell it satisfied Sesshomaru because he then went to seek out Stark to see if he could make a device similar so she could also understand. Of course he didn't have the magical capabilities to make her communications work both ways, for that itself would be all-speech.

Loki twisted his face in a devious smile when he had learned that Sesshomaru bartered with Stark for her device.

Sesshomaru letting a vulnerability known was significant. He loathed admitting that there was something he could not provide that mortal girl. He trusting Stark with such a request was a telling sign Sesshomaru reciprocated Stark's interest.

'How fun. If only Sesshomaru didn't seem to be so stubborn, and recently unstable.' Loki doodled an image of Sesshomaru and the jagged black markings in the sky, sun blocked by a cloud.

Loki knew unstable. The entirety of his being practically was now. He was an active fault line of magic energy and mental dissociation. So he could feel it when it was happening to someone else, especially someone so close to him.

Letting his mind wander, Loki delved into the events of today's predawn morning.


 

"Who are you Godling? Just who are you?" His voice taunted, dark blue magic spreading like wires in his mind. He couldn't see, couldn't feel his own magic, it vanished. His magic abandoned him. His senses failed him.

Time passed.

"I am…Loki Prince of Asgard." Loki's voice scratched at his throat like a centipede had traveled down it.

He was crowned prince of Asgard, he could be their King! He was far more capable than his brother Thor.

There existed few he considered truly worthy of a throne. And the most worthy person he knew of left him nearly five hundred years ago.

But those memories…The cerulean blue wires had impaled and infected them. He resented those times. The times his father never chose him. The time where he stood in Thor's shadow. The time when those five Aesir ambushed him and Sesshomaru had to rescue him! Him! After he ripped apart and even ate some of those Aesir!

He didn't need his help! He didn't need anyone! They would all just betray him! Just like Allfather did! Just like Thor! Just like Sesshomaru!

"Oh no Godling. Not anymore. Who are you?" The wires crossed and like so many needles impaling inward, his mind bled. He would say his only sense left was his hearing, but he knew the voice came from inside his head.

He often heard the voices murmur inside his mind. Even when his ears bled down to his collarbone, his scalp was peeled back and his chest was carved open.

Time passed by him again.

"I am Loki of Asgard!" Loki heard his voice, but this time it plead. How many times had he been asked this question? Who he was? Didn't the Other know who he was!?

He lived in Asgard. He had an older brother whom he would accompany on conquests. He had a father and a mother. His mother doted on him. His father was distant. Long ago he had a friend. He was a Demon Lord and once they assassinated a pair of Panther Demons who slaughtered a mortal village in his lands. Those were facts.

But why…just why was he so angry?! He hated them! All of them! They had all forsaken him!

"Oh no. No I dare say not. Not even you believe it true any longer Godling." The wires surged, like prowling, searching vipers, looking for the right synapse, the right nerve ending, the last memory that would make him break.

Time wound round and round.

His bones broke, but the unrelenting torment across his body made it difficult to discern which specific ones were broken.

Thor. Sesshomaru. They didn't always let him down. They didn't always hurt him. He had that one untainted memory. He did.

"I am Loki." He heard the wires crackle and spark in laughter, alive and focused, they would eventually find it. That last bastion of sanity he kept so close.

"Godling, wrong again. It is ok. We have plenty of time to study you. Now tell me, tell your forger, who you are." The wires found it. Loki thought he had hidden the last of him so deftly, so stealthily. The last, green and black glowing memory that the hatred didn't stain. It was an insignificant memory. Really. It was no glorious victory, climax of pleasure, nor a sonnet wove with love.

It was a glossy holograph of a simpler time: He, his brother, and his long lost friend arguing over who defeated the most enemies in the glade of dead Scorpion Demons. That was it. And in an instant it was blue, inside out, and he felt something crumble and deteriorate.

No. That was all they did! They only tried to steal his victories from him! They only were after their own selfish gain.

An eternity passed, his mind glowed an otherworldly cerulean blue.

The Other understood his pain. He was showing him his path. He will show him how to achieve his glory! His victory! His destiny!

"I am…Lo…I am...at your command." Loki knew the voice wasn't quite his, but did it really matter anymore?

"Yes, yes my broken blade you are. Let us depart; there is work to be done." The wires thrashed in his mind as they retracted, stinging and slashing his mind like claws. Loki opened his eyes, and saw only hate.


 

He awoke from his nightmare before well dawn. Though truthfully the nightmare wasn't as severe as they had been in Asgard. Perhaps it was due to Tenseiga, the weapon he helped forge. With his now sweaty temple on on Sesshomaru's unwounded shoulder, he slowly sat up to look at him. He didn't regret confronting him and Sesshomaru wouldn't want him to. Sesshomaru ran and Sesshomaru knew it. Loki had, however, underestimated perhaps how little rest his friend had been getting, and how low his youki was.

He had looked over to Sho, who appeared almost frail and when sleeping.

Sesshomaru's own head had rested against the wall, his hair absolutely everywhere. Loki knew the reason he didn't tie it back was because it's how his father kept his hair. Yet, he surely thought Sesshomaru would have had thought it practical to tie it back when sleeping.

Vain Demon.

He, however, regretted cornering Sesshomaru. He didn't think that his Demon Blood would take over so quickly. And his Killing Intent! Loki shuttered that his own black magic thought it as a challenge and not a signal to back down.

'If Bakusaiga hadn't had pulsed, if Romanoff hadn't come down to investigate we would have most assuredly done irreparable damage to the structure, to the trust of the Avengers, and most importantly to each other. I doubt very much both of us would have walked away from that, unless Thor managed to break up the fight.' Loki hadn't realized how stressed, how anxious he had become. It was as if he was in another prison, one with invisible walls when Sesshomaru was gone.

Rin and Jaken aided somewhat, and he watched after them, but that wasn't the same. He couldn't naturally interact with any of the Avengers, no matter how strangely Tenseiga murmured to him. Yes, he was positive that the sword was trying to say something to him, what he had no idea.

Loki had teleported silently to the living room of the tower, knowing sleep would be elusive the rest of the night. He opened a cabinet to retrieve a glass for water when he heard clacking and hissing. Sesshomaru definitely had returned with shellfish. He misted them with magic to put them all to sleep. If only he could do the sleep spell to himself, wouldn't that be useful?

He did, also regret losing his control of his magic. It had only happened once before when he slew the uru dragon. He was desperate, terrified, but most importantly outraged.

His black magic had acted on instinct and it unfurled into a lotus blossom.

Loki would never forget the way Sesshomaru looked when the dragon released him. Loki thought he was surely dead. His head was bleeding profusely, his skin blue from lack of oxygen, and his chest cavity was completely caved in.

Sesshomaru was completely motionless and sprawled out at an impossible, twisted angle on the ground.

It wasn't until he forced air into his lungs and saw him sputter that Loki started breathing too.

Loki couldn't have lived with himself if he had gotten Sho killed over some frivolous daggers.

His magic, before then, had never taken on any flora configuration before. And it hadn't since until Sesshomaru came back. He didn't know what it meant. The exploding gumtree seedpods were quite deadly, useful if he could learn to control them.

'Frigga may know why my magic has decided to change its structure, but the Nines knows if I'll ever be able to converse with her again. She didn't deserve the way I said farewell to her. She didn't deserve Odin's decision to bring me back from Jotunheim as an infant. She didn't deserve my presence in her life, she had a son already. Yet, she took me in, made me feel loved, well as much as she could. Really. I couldn't expect her to disobey Odin but so much. On second thought, she could know something behind Sesshomaru's new scrying ability.' Loki frowned, looking at the sink filled with crabs of all things.

He heard a muffled noise behind him. He turned, spotting Clint leaning against a wall, lit partially by the lights of the city and the moon.

"Couldn't sleep either huh?" Clint announced his presence and asked casually at the same time. They had had snippets of conversations over the past three days when Loki felt like being seen, or when they had their spars. He couldn't allow the Avengers to think he was weak, or mentally unstable when he was to help lead an invasion against such a great armada. That didn't exactly inspire confidence in victory.

However, he didn't actively seek out company either. Loki didn't really see the point in attempts at fraternization with the mortals, knowing not much would come of it.

"I believe there is a phrase here on Midgard 'No rest for the wicked'." Loki flashed a smile as he filled his glass with water. Clint left the wall and approached him, sitting now at the counter near Loki.

"It's actually no rest for the weary, 'No Rest for the Wicked' is a song. And you definitely look more weary than wicked right now." Clint noted, resting his elbows on the counter a slight smile on his strong chin.

"I must work on that then. Can't disappoint my adoring fans." Loki sliced his face into a sickle of a forced smile "What of you?" Loki turned the attention from himself, noting Clint's soft hair was sticking up and his face had pillow impressions on it. He wore a yellow t-shirt with the words 'I feel like Kobe' on it in purple script. His muscles were still well defined and shoulders broad and strong even resting casually in the night.

"You're not the only one who gets nightmares." Clint admitted and Loki's stomach clenched. He took a gulp of water, hiding his guilty expression with the glass.

"Ugh, don't give me that look. It's not always about you." Clint rolled his eyes and Loki relaxed, though a bit confused. "We all have ghosts that haunts us, things we've done, things done to us. I can tell you don't want to talk about it, but, well, just don't spend all your time looking back." Clint ran his fingers around on the counter top, keeping his eyes on Loki. Loki put his glass down, revealing his surprised expression and felt a small smile creep onto his face. He hadn't truly smiled in days. Loki chanced conversation.

"I believe, Clint, that I may just be one of those ghosts of which you speak." Loki responded, his whisper sounded like a shout in the dark living room.

Clint just reached across the counter and poked his chest with a calloused finger. His chest took to his touch like a fish to water.

"Yup. Definitely a ghost, because you can touch ghosts and feel their chests rise up and down. Come off it, You're a demi-god, you're just as alive or more so the rest of us." Clint smirked and Loki's eyes flashed, he wasn't quite a demi-god, but Loki didn't want to ruin their banter.

"I do suppose you find me immortal… it'd be quite hard to be a specter wouldn't it?" Loki smiled with his eyes and examined the assassin casually sitting across from him, as if this was a normal occurrence.

"Aren't you and Thor immortal? What about Fancy Pants?" Loki leaned back against the cabinet behind him thoughtfully. He rolled his shoulders and grinned wickedly.

"No, we are not, but worry not dear archer, I do not have any deigns on expiring anytime soon." Loki ran a long finger around the rim of his water glass, making a slight squeaking sound, expertly hiding the fact that the last sentence was a blatant lie.

"Who's worried? If you three were immortal it'd be an unfair fight for Thermos or whoever this guy is. Thor's the brawn, you're the brains, and Fancy Pants is all style points." Loki tilted his head to the side, no one had ever complimented his fighting abilities like that before. He must had been thinking of their previous spar. It had gotten rather heated.

"Who is Kobe?" Loki changed tactics, throwing Clint off.

"What? You turning into Fancy Pants now with the random question of the day?" Clint leaned back confused, but playing along. Loki smirked and rolled off the cabinet he had been leaning on, all feline in his movements, facial included.

"I've already turned into him once, suffice to say once is enough. I mean your shirt." Loki's eyes lit up and glowed green in the gray of the dark kitchen. Clint chuckled softly, it charmed Loki to make him laugh and not glower at him.

"Yeah, you should definitely stay you. And the shirt is a joke, Nat got it for me because Kanye West, a musical artist I like, but she doesn't, wore it. I don't like basketball either, another part of the joke, because Kobe is a really good basketball player." Loki heard Clint's explanation, but only listened to the first sentence. His unintentional compliment made him sway his body languidly from side to side in forbidden satisfaction.

'Oh Clint, if you only knew me as I once was. For you, however, I will cease to look back as much and focus on moving forward.' Loki noticed Clint regarding him with curiosity. 'He means for me to continue this conversation does he?' Loki put a long, curled finger to his lips in thought.

"I would, I should think, like to listen to Kanye. The music of Asgard, while grand, can be quite stagnant and uninspired. Surely if Sho can find music worth listening to in this realm, I can as well. That is if yours is worthy of me" Loki provoked, still swaying lazily like a panther prowling a jungle. He saw Clint swallow and lean forward once more, lips quirking to one side of his stubble covered jaw.

"Is that a challenge?" Clint asked, drumming his calloused fingers on the counter, head forward in anticipation. Loki could see him more clearly now, the strength in him, the conviction and integrity he saw and immediately appreciated when making that first fateful stumble out of the portal to locate that blasted Tesseract.

"It is an earnest request." Loki's eyes crinkled in victory at not only mirroring Sesshomaru's and Clint's conversation from a few days ago, but mimicking Sesshomaru's voice perfectly. He couldn't help the smile that splayed across his face. Tormenting the archer was a temptation he would most certainly indulge in. He watched the shock blaze across Clint first, then settle into recognition that the God was indeed messing with him. Clint shook his head.

"Wow, Clint you just walked right into that one didn't you? Just wait and see Loki, or listen, or whatever. I'll make us a playlist for today's Fight Club. It will be awesome." Clint stood, stretching like an athlete would, and Loki stopped swaying, feeling that Clint would be leaving soon.

"I think the point is that I shall be the judge of that." Loki, with innate agility, shrunk the distance between himself and the counter in one singular movement. With arms locked and wide he put both arms on the counter and leaned forward eyes weighing the stretching mortal before him, studying the way his dormant muscles flexed and released. They were close, maybe ten inches away from each other. Loki smelled him he was so close, he smelled of sleep, sweat and clean cotton.

With arms still overhead, and eyes scrunched due to stretching, Clint opened one light brown eye, almost as a wink, Loki thought.

"Prepare to be impressed." Clint raised his eyebrows and Loki narrowed his like he was about to pounce.

"Clint, I'm sure your efforts will not be in vain." If Loki had fangs like Sesshomaru they would have flashed in the muted moonlight under his green eyes.

Clint chuckled, a hair nervously.

"Oh they won't be. I'm gonna blow you away. Anyway I'm gonna go shower before Steve steals it. He is an early riser and takes princess showers." Clint released his arms, letting them fall and rolled his shoulders a few times before setting off for his room. Loki didn't fail to notice Clint's need to explain his departure, as one would a friend.

"Oh, I already am." Loki murmured to the darkness as he teleported back down to his quarters, water and nightmare forgotten.

When he arrived in the absolute darkness of the storage room, it took his eyes a bit of time to adjust, but Loki could have sworn he saw that Sesshomaru's markings had spread across his body like black curls. However, when he blinked and adjusted his eyes, they appeared normal, albeit Sesshomaru convulsed in the throes of a potent nightmare. Loki would have guessed he scryed in his sleep, but he knew such things were nigh impossible.

Loki went to his friend's side and sat back down beside him, noticing his twitching eyelids and before he could cast a calming spell Sesshomaru's eyes shot open, all red with black at the edges. Loki recoiled back.

'I have never seen his eyes like that before, not even when he transformed.' Loki immediately cast the calming spell onto Sesshomaru, knowing his weakened youki state would allow his magic to take hold rather than render it neutralized. Sesshomaru blinked and his eyes focused on Loki, wide and irises tight and small.

He was trembling as if cold.

"Loki?!" He stated like he hadn't expected the God to be at his side.

"Boo! It is a time for nightmares and ghosts it seems." Loki whispered, lips curled and Sesshomaru blinked again, expression glassy.

"I remain fatigued. This Sesshomaru shall continue to rest." Loki caught Sesshomaru's implication, that he would not awaken for quite some time.

"Worry not, I shall feed Rin and ensure Jaken remains unmolested until you awaken." Loki reassured and Sesshomaru merely closed his eyes again. Loki looked to the small water Demon and the mortal girl, Jaken still clutching Tenseiga. Loki would protect them; he would protect them all…

"Lowly ocean scuttler, how dare you taunt me!?" Loki snapped out of his recollections, hearing Thor shout from inside the tower. They must be starting to cook the crabs.

"Thor, maybe you should get Mjolnir, that crab means business." Rogers countered. Loki grinned.

Thor's mortal spirit store errand had run exasperatingly long. Thor couldn't decide what to purchase, but he had told Loki that Sesshomaru drank gin, which surprised him since Japan did not have that particular spirit in that time. Loki sussed out he must have simply preferred its smell.

Loki disliked the way Thor regarded him, like he was damaged, or hurting. He was over it. Completely. It absolutely didn't affect him at all.

He had completely healed his injuries, he like Clint said was tough. Thor regarding him as if fragile glass was not helping his situation, but Loki knew that Thor was attempting his best efforts.

'Thor thought just because he attempted one heart to heart that we are brothers again. We were not, and will never be. Odin is not my father, neither was Laufey, Frigga is still my mother, however I doubt she'd agree.' Loki stretched out on the balcony and began to use his magic to weave designs in the air. He enjoyed his quiet pastimes of magic runes, unconsciously looking at the blue sky he noticed he was tracing lines into it. Lines on blue. Not a dissimilar hue to what his skin truly looked like.

He was a Frost Giant. A monster in more ways than one. A being capable of causing frostbite just from a single touch. Clint's question about the immortals rang in his mind. He thought he was immortal once. He thought he was a lot of things once, like Thor's brother.

'And, well perhaps Thor is right, perhaps out of everyone Sesshomaru knows me best, but he was still absent for five hundred years of my life. What does that say about me? The one person who knows me best was absent for half my life? Not that it was his fault...' Loki made some runes in the air, debating if he would ever tell Sesshomaru of his true Frost Giant heritage, his decision leaned to no.

'If only Thor and I hadn't been on Alfheim for all those years. If only Heimdall's sight wasn't blocked of Midgard...We may have known what happened to all the Demons.' Loki thought sourly. Loki closed his eyes.

Loki did not waste his time much on the mysteries of the universe, but the fate of every Demon, including his best friend, on Midgard always bedeviled him. Not only had they vanished, but every trace of their existence, memories, culture, buildings, even most graves and remains, had been spirited away.

Or obliterated, but Loki refused to believe that.

He refused to believe that Sesshomaru would go and get himself killed while he was away. No matter how reckless Sesshomaru could be, it seemed like every time he saw the Demon next he grew in strength and skill. He couldn't fathom, that the last time they spoke was last time he would ever speak to him, or cut own another opponent together.

Especially since their last words were an argument over his foolish half-brother.


 

"Why fret so over this half Demon? It was his own foolishness that led him to his fate. And let's not forget his mere existence which not only cost you your father, but almost your entire Lands and life!" Loki stood next to the sacred tree, irritancy clear as day on his brow. Loki had no idea what possessed Sesshomaru to come here and ask him this favor to remove this arrow. He could not, it was not a type of magic he could wield. He was no pure being, to be quite sure.

"...I did not ask you for your assessment of our situation. I merely asked for your assistance." Sesshomaru's ears lowered, voice stony. Loki rolled his eyes, the day Sesshomaru asked for Loki's opinion on any member of his family would be the day Thor gave him Mjolnir.

Sesshomaru was very secretive over his emotions towards his family members. He rarely spoke of his mother, he only stated that she ruled over her own Kingdom and that she and his father had never intended to live together or unite their lands.

He saw her rarely.

His half brother he said little as well. He said the first time he encountered him, he was a child and he struck him. He confessed it was half out of jealousy, half to reinforce the point that he could not be apart of his family.

Which to Loki made sense since everyone in his family either abandoned Sesshomaru or he was forced to kill. Sesshomaru felt no filial love for him, but he didn't want him to be discovered and captured to be used against him for a bid at sovereignty over the West by the North.

"Sesshomaru you owe nothing to the literal bastard your dull father stupidly chose over you." Loki immediately found himself pinned against the same tree by his throat, Sesshomaru eyes flashing in the mottled light. Loki knew he had struck a chord; he did it purposefully.

"I will not suffer your lies Loki! My father knew my strength; he knew me capable. It was a test." Sesshomaru hissed almost sounded like he was convincing himself. Loki smirked in victory.

"Your thick father used you. His actions led you to killing your own family. Your father's own brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and friends betrayed you. His unbridled selfishness and callous view of your own well-being almost cost you your life. Your father, though you laud him so, is staggeringly undeserving of it. He never gave you your due respect, and dismissed you constantly or on a mere whim. His dissatisfaction with all you accomplished and are never sat well with me. It's a feeling and position I know quite well. And we both clean up our brother's messes don't we?" Loki's choked voice shattered something in Sesshomaru. His grip on Loki's throat loosened and he tilted his head down so his bangs hid his eyes.

"...leave my Lands. I do not wish to see you for some time." Sesshomaru released him and Loki fought to not slide down the tree. Loki knew Sesshomaru would most likely not agree with his words, but in time he would see his point of view as valid.

"Fine by me. You can deny the truth all you want Sho but don't take it out on me. I'll be on Alfheim for a long excursion, I will visit when I return." Loki stood and brushed himself off and Sesshomaru simply walked away.


 

Only he didn't see him after Alfheim, despite how much he searched Midgard and realms beyond. Loki was not one for regrets, but one he did harbor was the last conversation he had with Sesshomaru.

Anyway, the surly Demon Lord existed here now. This time is all about second chances apparently. He felt something block his sun. He glanced up to see Stark towering over him, which was rare considering he was taller than the mortal.

He had been expecting Stark though.

It confused Loki at first why let his Demon Blood take over when Sesshomaru had more than a few outs.

Unless, he thought of someone he wanted to protect, someone with whom he had been in contact with recently. Dog demons could be quite protective when cornered.

He most likely knew Jaken and Rin had Tenseiga, leaving them protected ...which left a certain inventor who he recently 'physically encountered', whatever Sesshomaru meant by that.

"Ok Reindeer Games, we are gonna set a few ground rules." Loki sat up, unsurprised Tony was trying to pull rank. He knew Tony enjoyed dominance.

"I believe we are a little past that." Loki almost purred. Stark knelt down and got in his face.

"Don't get cute. This is my house; it even has my name on it in case you get amnesia. We are allies, we are working together and who knows maybe we can even get along." Stark began, he could feel his anger simmering beneath the surface, like earlier in the morning. It was well hidden but Loki looked for it.

Loki had been observing Stark for the past few days sporadically. His drinking habit increased, as did his badgering of his companions and obsessive betting games about Sesshomaru's next location and musical preferences. Loki figured he most certainly did not want to see Sesshomaru leave.

He also did not miss the way Stark regarded Sesshomaru when he had just showered, nor what the invention he made for Sesshomaru symbolized.

Stark had a marked interest in Sesshomaru.

"So. While you are here, no assaulting people. What you and Clint do, sparring, fight club, whatever, cool, go nuts. But I watched the tape and you roughing up Sesshomaru was no agreed upon thing. You jumped him, and poisoned him! No more of that crap." Loki blinked. Stark was serious if he wasn't using any metaphors or unusual analogies.

He also used Sesshomaru's real name.

"I accept. It won't be a repeat performance from me I assure you." Loki said sincerely. He didn't need Stark's eyes boring in the back of his head everywhere he went.

He already got that from Thor, and a lesser extent Clint, though the intention of the stares were dramatically different than the one Stark would give him most assuredly.

"Good." And Stark stood, kicked him hard in the ribs and left. Loki wheezed, yes. Definitely interested in Sho.

It wasn't much later that Clint found him for their daily spar.

To be honest, he didn't know why it started. He just knew the morning after Sesshomaru left and the night prior where he, more or less, explained the circumstances behind his failed invasion; Clint strode up to him, eyes glinting, and explained his terms.

'I knew Clint needed a target for his unwanted aggressions. So did I. It worked out quite nicely that we could exercise our demons together, no offense meant, Sho.' Loki grinned to himself at his own joke.

Loki knew Clint's sarcasm was a defense mechanism for something greater; he and Clint both had something great within themselves with which to deal. Loki may not ever fully deal with it before the Other arrived, but it was what it was. Sparring with Clint gave Loki more joy than sulking about Stark tower with Tenseiga, having Rin attempt to cheer him up, or being coddled by Thor. Clint was far better suited for sparring with Romanoff, or perhaps Stark, but that didn't matter. No, logic was most certainly thrown out the window.

'Thrown out the window…' Loki was on a roll. 'By the Nines these mortals will be the death of me before I see the first cruiser of the Mad Titan's fleet.' Thought Loki as he followed Clint to the sparring room or 'gym' as the mortals referred to it.

When Clint set up the rules for the spar, or as he called it 'Fight Club.' Loki chuckled. Clint did always like structure. He informed him the first rule of Fight Club is that you didn't talk about Fight Club.

Fine. He was going to tell Sho anyway, but something told him the first rule was likely symbolic, or in reference to something he didn't quite catch.

The second rule of their Fight Club was no talking during fight club. Except to signal if you were finished for the day.

The third rule about Fight Club was no weapons, including magic and shoes.

Their first spar was all tense silence and uneasy stances. Loki enjoyed it anyway but he wasn't sure if Clint had. Especially since he ended it by throwing Clint to the floor.

Just having Clint's undivided attention was enough to put Loki's waffling ego into orbit.

He didn't expect a second spar but surprisingly Clint sought him out from his quasi in the storage room where he was studying Tenseiga and braiding Rin's hair.

Their second spar flowed better, Clint loosened up his stances. Loki still knocked him to the floor again however. At the end, when they ended Clint shook his hand.

Clint shook his hand! And he initiated it!

And his third he recalled Clint even shared a detail about his personal life with him. When under the influence of the scepter he dared not probe too deeply into his upbringing, he only learned it wasn't all entirely pleasant.


 

"You fight, a bit, like an acrobat I once knew." Clint commented at the end of their third spar. Loki furrowed his eyebrows, was Clint opening up to him?

"An acrobat, such as in your Midgardian theatres and circuses?" Loki inquired, still admiring the way Clint's ribbed tank top stuck to his obliques from sweat caused by their spar.

"Yeah. A bit. He was really good at keeping his balance when tumbling. He was a good guy, bit of a gambler but a good guy." Clint sounded almost wistful. Loki gathered Clint must have known this individual quite well.

"Well, I do as well, enjoy a good gamble." Loki, prompted. He wanted to see the conversation go somewhere, he selfishly wanted Clint to open up to him. His pulse quickened, perhaps he would.

"Yeah, well, let's just say he went all in, one too many times, and didn't come back from one of them." Clint pulled away from their closeness, Loki sensed that they have been somewhat close.

"Ah, well, for shame. I must say it's a fool's errand to risk it all without a backup plan. One must always have an ace up one's sleeve." Loki conjured an ace of hearts. He what he knew Clint wanted to hear. He didn't dare breathe that perhaps this acrobat friend of his and himself had a bit more in common than an ironic sense of balance.

If only his physiological sense of balance transferred to his mental state.

"Heh, yeah, so what's your ace up your sleeve then? This whole thing seems like quite the gamble for you." Clint keenly leaned back on the wall of the gym and suddenly Loki became the prey. He had to escape from Clint's keen gaze, reverse their position.

"I do believe that the point," Loki approached, still glistening from sweat, hair wet and limp against the racing pulse point of his neck. "of the ace is that you don't know what it is, unless it's needed, Clint." He had meandered his way dangerously close to Clint, close enough to smell the slight sour and musky scent of his sweat and see a drop go down his collarbone. And with a haughty smirk he teleported from the gym, all drama and intrigue.


 

Loki wanted to ensnare him at the beginning of what would be their fourth spar, but no this opportunity required patience. Patience never came well to Loki, Sesshomaru was much more apt to be patient than he.

Clint took off his shirt, revealing just a white sleeveless one underneath. He rolled his neck and jacked back his shoulders. His muscles flexed, he already sported a fine sheen of sweat. His hands were bound in bandages.

Loki magicked himself into black cotton pants, and a green sleeveless shirt respectively.

"Like I said, prepare to be impressed, I included some of my favorite artists on here, and some songs just to mess with you, Mischief God." Clint, bare feet padding almost silently across the hardwood floor, said his title mimicking the way Sesshomaru would say it. Clint did a fairly good Sho impression, and Loki would know considering he mimicked him.

Clint turned on the music system, and his playlist queued, starting with a song by a man named only letters: Kyoto by Skrillex feat. Sirah scrolled across the display.

And it began, and it was no dance. It was loosely contained chaos and fire. Loki felt the fight in air heavy like Clint had his own magic. Clint always started, Loki preferred to let his opponent to go first. It naturally worked well, Loki preferred his opponents, along with his lovers, assertive. Clint came in hard and fast, matching the tempo of the strange electronic music. Clint opened with a left jab and Loki dodged artfully, shadowing him while aiming an elbow to the back of his head. Clint spun, aiming for a kidney punch which Loki blocked with his other hand.

'Born from the center of the storm, all the boys flappin' gums about how they're hard, bitch I'm harder.'

Skrillex's music struck him and anything but uninspired and stagnant, much like his sparring partner.

Loki relished it. He ducked and weaved, barely dodging Clint's surprisingly well-honed mixed martial art technique. If one were to think he was lacking in hand to hand combat due to his primary role as an archer, they would be sorely mistaken. Loki limited his power to that of a normal mortal, but with Clint he almost didn't need to.

'I suppose if I were to make a comparison, Clint would be if you spliced some Thor's fervor and brawn with some of Sho's grace and dexterity...with a bit of something else as well.' Loki appraised, blocking a right cross before swinging with his own right hook, it too being blocked by Clint's left arm.

Second song: All Day by Kanye West.

While dodging was more effective, the touch of skin on skin exhilarated Loki. The near miss brushes of knuckles on his side, the top of Clint's foot against his raised forearm blocking another roundhouse kick. The feel of the bottom of his own foot just barely kissing Clint's ribbed white shirt from a side kick. The feel of Clint's python strong grip on his wrist as he attempted to throw Loki over his shoulder. Loki broke his wrist lock with a quick counter.

'If you ain't with us, you in our way. You an actor, you should be on Broadway.'

Loki didn't know when he started smiling, or why he allowed himself the luxury, but he didn't care. Because this was going to be the closest he ever would ever get to Clint. Clint would never trust him, never like him. He didn't deserve it, really he didn't.

Did he want him anyway? Yes.

He wanted to tie him down and make him tremble, make him quake. Loki wanted to curve his tongue around him just like when he said the 'L' in his name. He wanted to take him in ways both new and old, he wanted to subject him to his arts most profane.

He wanted Clint to make him crawl, Loki longed for Clint to make him bend like a bow being strung. He needed him as a bright and scorching star to his dark and chilling vapor. He craved their bodies crashing, like an icy ocean wave on piping hot sand. He didn't expect it to ever happen. An impossible outcome from a simple equation, but Loki hungered for him anyway. He savored tastes of what could have been.

The song changed to Kanye West: Stronger.

Loki danced right lifting his right leg vertically, aiming an axe kick to hit Clint on the crown of his head, but Clint flit back, countering with a front push kick that would have connected if Loki didn't twist out at the last possible second. Clint recovered and closed the gap with a foot sweep kick, an attempt to get Loki off balance aimed for his face. Loki switched his stance with a quick scissor of his legs and under his leg, hitting Clint in the side with his elbow, taking a right hook in his own side for the trouble.

Loki truly meant what he said when he first met Clint and said he had heart. He was drawn to him, and something deep within him, despite his mind tainted blue, despite the scepter's whispers and wires, knew he had to protect him. He had to ensure that Clint's mind would not end up as his, decayed and glazed over. He tinkered with the scepter, his first act of direct defiance of his forger.

He disguised a potent, intricate protection spell within the tap of the scepter when he touched Clint with it. A protection spell meant to bestow good fortune. That most any action he would take would have an outcome in his favor; it bent fate.

If a gun were aimed at Clint, it may jam, or the bullet wouldn't hit its desired target. It conjured small miracles, and preserved the person as they were, mind and body. The scepter's control of Clint remained only surface level, a miasma of blue fog clouding his mind. Loki knew the scepter's control of Clint would eventually break, and he would be returned to his normal, unaffected state.

'Cause I can't wait much longer. I know I got to be right now, 'Cause I can't get much wronger. Man I've been waiting all night now. That's how long I been on ya.'

'It would only take me touching the scepter again for me to retrograde back into the Other's weapon. For my mind to warp and erode once more. The sealing spell I placed on the scepter would have long sense faded. I am relieved to know the scepter has been destroyed, undoubtedly SHIELD must have dismantled it at the end of my reign of terror.' Loki's concentration drifted momentarily.

Clint connected with a left kidney punch and Loki rolled and unexpectedly caught Clint's eyes. His light brown eyes chided him for not paying due attention. He retaliated with a quick crescent kick, clipping Clint's ear.

New song: Power by Kanye West.

'Clint is getting most serious. Most likely irritated thinking my mind was elsewhere. That is our unspoken rule of Fight Club, your body and attention stayed on the fight. I'll accept his challenge and match his pace.' Loki settled into a taekwondo tiger stance, his left foot just in front of his right, fists at his sides. Loki preferred the fighting style of Taekwondo when unarmed due to lacking in upper body strength and the focus on kicks and elaborate ones at that.

Loki narrowed his gaze, and went on the offensive, misdirecting and spinning his body and planting his foot sideways, twisting his body horizontally in the air landing a blow on Clint's shoulder with a well-placed twisting butterfly kick. Clint struck back, angry, hitting Loki in the opposite side with a quick snap kick when he landed.

'I'm living' in that 21st century. Doing something mean to it. Do it better than anybody you ever seen do it. Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it. I guess every superhero need his theme music.'

They were beyond breaking a sweat. Their skin shone, their cheeks were flushed. Loki's long, dark and Clint's short brown hair hung damp.

New artist: Kid Ink's Bad Ass.

Loki dropped quick aiming to take out Clint's legs and to Loki's amusement it worked and down Clint fell. Clint grunted and flipped aiming a heel strike from his side which only met air.

They both sprung up quick in another flurry. Loki caught a glint of some something in his eye as Clint perfectly misdirected. He planted his hands on the ground sprung up into handstand and landed a flashy cartwheel kick right on Loki's head.

Loki crashed to the floor, dark spots dotting his vision. Loki fell for the first time in one of their spars, he held a hand to the right part of his forehead where the kick landed.

'I'm feeling like the man of the hour, tear down the house. Throwing this money like it's no running out.'

Clint recovered and paused, looking down at Loki, stunned and out of breath. A part of Loki believed Clint never thought that kick should have landed. Loki was on his back, his wet skin and shirt stuck to the cool floor. Loki knew how vulnerable he appeared as they locked eyes, chests heaving. He began to rock himself to get up when Clint offered his hand.

And as if on cue, the last song: Love Lockdown, by Kanye West

Loki's face slackened in disbelief as he grabbed it. Their slick hands together brought him back up. They were close again, and he still smelled like cotton, despite the sweat. Were they too close? Loki didn't care, this was his luxury, his indulgence. His soft hand, in Clint's worn one, their sweat melding them together, jolted Loki.

'See I wanna move, but can't escape from you. So I keep it low, keep a secret code. So everybody else don't have to know.'

"About time I landed a kick like that. You're all complicated kicks, had to try one myself." Clint breathed, letting go of his hand and turning off the music. Loki ran a hand back through his soaked hair, watching Clint with avid interest walk away from him, if someone were to liken him to a feline, then Clint embodied all hunter.

"Yes, well, it is to my advantage to favor kicks to punches. Strength has never been an advantage of mine like agility and flexibility are." Loki explained, unsure why he felt the need to go into detail about his fighting technique. He had supposed it had been a while since he sparred unarmed. Sesshomaru didn't particularly enjoy it, most likely because of his tournaments with Thor and his talons made it cumbersome.

"Eh, you're stronger than you look. Took me by surprise our first time fighting. What did you think?" Clint turned from the stereo system, all broad strokes of muscles and beads of sweat. Loki couldn't get lock on Clint, he kept complimenting him in ways he couldn't acknowledge and followed them up with questions or statements that changed the subject.

Clint Barton, a slippery adversary indeed, Loki licked his lips, tasting salt. He approached Clint with brazen swagger, feeling his black pants stick to his thighs, quads and hamstrings damply.

"Ah, I was quite dazzled." Loki refused to elaborate further. Delighting in being purposely vague, translucent green eyes alight in adrenaline and thirst. Like a jaguar he watched Clint's face flicker into a slight satisfaction, surprising Loki. He wanted to take Clint off guard, not have Clint react this way, he wanted Clint to pick up on his seductive intentions and falter due to it.

"Sweet. No one else here listens to him. I'll include some more of his stuff for next time." Clint smiled softly and took his phone from the sound system. Loki frowned in suspicion, could Clint be blind to his blatant flirtations or inviting him to go further?

Jubilant, Loki decided on the latter, mostly due to it amusing him more.

"Three years ago…" Clint started and Loki immediately tensed. His magic circled inside him like vultures. Loki locked eyes with Clint, pursing his lips thin. "You fought back against them, outsmarted them, and you won." Clint finished and Loki squinted in confusion. Won? A truly strange way to see it. Was Clint complimenting him or something else?

"One does not win a game they were never a player in. You and your Avengers won, you stopped the Mad Titan. You all prevented the Tesseract from falling into the Mad Titan's grasp." Loki crossed his arms to guard his hesitancy in his answer.

Loki noticed Clint clenched his jaw in irritation. Why he wasn't sure. He had actually been honest in that reply.

Loki was not being humble, or vying for compliments like he sometimes would with that answer. He was never a true participant, but the element of entropy. He was a maelstrom of chaos that simply blew up in the hand of his wielder, giving the lost creatures ample opportunity for victory.

"Do you… forget it. It's not impor—" Loki saw his chance and closed the gap between them, he stood in front of Clint, all sure intensity and coy smirks.

He rose his arm and placed, not poked, Clint on his damp chest, lingering briefly on the curled, wet chest hair beneath his tank top.

"You do not ask unimportant questions. What do you wish to know?" Loki, ardently curious rolled his shoulders back to ready himself to answer his question.

By nature, Loki liked to push his limits, to step over the line, yet just because he insisted that Clint ask his question didn't mean he would necessarily answer it honestly.

If it would benefit him or Clint to answer it honestly he would, but he would easily, and proudly lie to Clint if Loki thought it best.

"Do you think you're still at fault? Did you forget that I was your second in command? Everything you did brought the Avengers together, aside from Fury originally working on the Tesseract. If you thought you weren't a participant in the outcome then what does that make me? We were both controlled by them, we were both manipulated and had our minds played with." Loki really should have seen Clint's response coming. He should have anticipated that Clint, logically, would think that they were in the same circumstances.

He really shouldn't have gotten angry. But now anger was second nature to him, much like their Berserker. He bristled and backed up from Clint, fists clenched, jaw high and arrogant. His magic coiled.

"Clint, I set into motion a series of events that could cleave the galaxy in two. Do not mistake me for one of your altruistic Avengers. Do not mistake that the scepter's control over you and the Other's ownership of my mind were equivalent. Do not mistake yourself to be anything near as disgraceful as I." Loki hissed and teleported out of the gym in a flash of green smoke leaving Clint alone and perturbed, again.

Chapter Text

Clint and the Potato Salad

*(*

"Damn, he is such a drama queen. I told him to forget the question, but no, he wanted to know! And, of course, when he didn't like it he got all bent out of shape. Hadn't he ever heard be careful what you wish for?! He could be on Broadway or something, I swear. 'cleave the galaxy in two…anything as disgraceful as I'…Loki needs to build a Bifrost and get over himself." Clint muttered to himself as he peeled his sour smelling, sweat soaked clothes from his body.

His chest was taut, like tangled strings had constricted around his lungs. Maybe he felt a little guilty for alarming the Demi-God.

Clint sighed. He had no idea how to handle his life now. He turned on the shower and waited for the water to get hot.

In fact, there was literally no doubt in his mind he was in completely over his head. The whole week had been like playing Nat in Mario Cart and continuously hitting hit by shells and falling off rainbow road. He had never felt more turned around in his life.

He had been enjoying the quiet SHIELD non-Avengers life for the past almost three years. He mostly, kind of, moved on with the whole Chitauri invasion thing. He got assigned normal, non mind-bendy assignments, accomplished them, got paid, rinse and repeat. Speaking of rinse, the shower water finally got warm enough for him to get underneath.

He had time to be a good uncle to his niece and nephew back in Iowa. He was acclimating. Well, as well as a trained assassin could to a normal life when he had been mind controlled by a Demi-God.

'I was kicking ass and taking names, just like Clint Barton should. Does!' Clint began to wash his hair, feeling the salty sweat begin to dislodge and soften.

Now it'd all started back up again, and he had to relive it all. Loki included. Definitely Loki included. Loki demanded his attention, like a super-diva of their demented little soap opera.

He and his aloof best friend, Fancy Pants, had the Avengers wrapped up in their ridiculous bromance, and all the chaos that followed it. He thought if Loki were to be friends with anyone, and that was a precarious possibility in of itself, he thought that his best friend would be someone equally theatrical and over the top. Yet, if Loki was a technicolor epileptic mess, Sesshomaru was a black and white photograph.

Sesshomaru was certainly a solid dampener on Loki's melodramatic behavior, which Clint greatly appreciated.

'Good job Clint, way to be bros with SHIELD's top criminal's best friend. It's not like wasn't hard enough to gain back even a little of Fury's trust.' Clint knew he was probably supposed to dislike the Demon Lord, but he didn't. He liked the guy even though he and Loki had been almost uncomfortably close since, well, Gods knew when.

'Those two together looked like they could probably take on the solar system for shits and giggles then cheers over it. Whoever this Thermos was chose the wrong God to mess with. Hell, he chose the wrong planet to mess with. While I've had never seen Loki and Sesshomaru fight together, my jaw dropped witnessing their light spar. It was a flat out different breed of fighting than I saw from Loki before.' Clint scowled to himself, slightly embarrassed he had so grossly underestimated Loki's fighting capabilities, then grabbed the soap.

A flash of an image of Loki standing over him after their first spar, tall, wet, dark, and green. His smug smirk, his long legs, his fair skin taunted him. Ugh. Clint massaged his swollen muscles in the shower with the soap, while he through the week chronologically.

The first, extremely unexpected confrontation with Sesshomaru felt so long ago already. He remembered the lover comment like it was yesterday however.

He, Clint Barton, being Loki's lover?! A snowball's chance in hell. That was absurd. One, he was straight, two...seriously the guy who ruined his life?! He convinced himself he was going to hate Fancy Pants after that. This silver haired samurai, who flung Tony into him, which had left a few nasty bruises, had to be trying to get a rise out of him.

Yet as time went on, Clint realized that Sesshomaru didn't want to get a rise out of anyone, except maybe Tony. Watching the Demon Lord turn Tony inside out tickled Clint since Tony likened himself to having the quickest wit.

'That stupid question game? Catching Tony's roof on fire? It was like this guy was tailor made to get under Tony's skin. It was better than pay-per-view. To top it off; Fancy Pants, irritatingly so, proved himself a decent guy. Never thought I'd say that about someone who went "treasure questing" with Loki. He made it sound like he and Loki would just roam around and go on adventures all the time like the Boy Scouts. I have to bring up the purple stag thing when the time is right.' Clint soaped up, knowing now the sour grime of sweat was sloughing off him.

And then the shape-shifting Fury fiasco happened. To think if he hadn't been examining at 'Fancy Pants' at just the right moment, and spotted his hands being different they would have never caught on.

He had no idea what the blue spot on his hand meant though. Maybe it was a side effect of the shape shifting?

Only Fancy Pants, of all the people in the room, including Nat, told him to shoot Loki. Clint never, in a million years, expected that. He still remembered his cold yellow eyes as he bit out that it was a request, not a challenge. Clint caught Sesshomaru's fuming anger hidden deep in him, almost like he felt personally betrayed.

Clearly, Sesshomaru thought better of Loki. Well, Clint couldn't really blame him for that since he knew apparently, a very different Loki.

This Demon Lord, whip and all, who would probably be Loki's best man at Loki's wedding over Thor (if Fancy Pants didn't marry Loki, himself), understood what Clint was trying to do. And he only knew about it for two seconds. While his fellow Avengers, who knew the whole story for years, studied him like a deranged serial killer.

Clint, for the first time since the incident, bloomed with vindication. Someone finally got it. Sesshomaru understood that it wasn't about hate or revenge, but about principles, about things that people were supposed to uphold, like honor.

Maybe Cap wasn't the only one who was a bit old fashioned.

'I wanted my honor back. I wanted SHIELD to stop treating me with shadowy distrust, even after having to earn back everything after I am still considered by them as potentially compromised. They ran countless tests on me, and the scepter three years ago to see if I could go back to being under its control and nothing came out conclusive.' Clint remembered all his wasted weekends grimly. He let some water from the shower catch in his mouth and spit it out hard against the tile.

'Nat told me that Fury referred to me as a 'flying monkey' when under Loki's control. Really? A flying monkey who still managed to outsmart and outthink you? Is that what you truly thought of me Fury? Maybe he still thinks I could be one. Sometimes I don't even know why I bother, except If I don't step up and get off my ass who will?' Clint grimaced, massaging his shoulder that would certainly bruise from Loki's butterfly kick.

He was never compromised; he was dishonored, and Sesshomaru got it. Clint rinsed for probably longer than necessary, and turned off the water.

And yet his fellow Avengers, save maybe Bruce, didn't back him on wanting some retribution. Steve looked at him like he was shooting a puppy. Thor looked like he wanted to break his bow hand. Even Nat wanted him to think of the bigger picture. He wasn't really sure what Tony thought but he seemed distracted by Fancy Pants going postal on his roof.

Clint didn't kid himself, he knew Fancy Pants didn't say it because he liked him, but all the more better. He got that some people do things that deserved justice regardless of your friendship to them.

He trusted in Sesshomaru's impartiality. At that moment in the room, Clint understood where Sesshomaru drew the line between loyalty and integrity. Clint could trust if Loki ever faltered, Sesshomaru would help them immediately put him in his place, maybe even quicker than Thor.

'It was then I began to respect the guy. Respect Loki's best friend! Who would have bet on that?' Clint laughed at himself as he got out of the shower and found a towel, remembering how Sesshomaru strode from the living room flicking down his aviators like that guy from CSI Miami.

During the scying thing he saw how much Loki cared about Fancy Pants.

It disturbed him so much his toes curled in his boots.

He didn't want Loki to care about anyone, especially someone he actually respected! Loki was the villain! He destroyed his career! His reputation!

Clint truly wanted things to be simple. Life was easier when and dry, black and white, no gray,so seeing Loki's face twist into such a frenzied panic really floored him. His image that he had painted in his mind of what Loki represented, of Loki's character, began to show its bias.

Clint liked to see himself as a practical surveyor and voice of reason, so he had to begin to question his own prejudice viewing Loki.

'Loki has someone he cares a lot about, a single father who upholds similar beliefs I do. Loki holds such devotion to Fancy Pants that he flat out ignored all the arrows I stuck him with and ran up to the whirling tornado to try to free him, to try to snap him out of it. Instead, the tornado threw him aside, his hands bleeding, frantic, and dark hair swirling.' Clint remembered, toweling himself dry, waiting for the mirror to defog.

Loki had someone he cared enough to risk his life for, and that went against everything he thought he knew about the God. He only seemed out for himself when he spent time with him on Earth three years ago. Yet he only began to brutally rip the arrows out of himself, to call Toady and Rin to come up to the roof with his magic.

The same arrows Loki welcomed willingly without flinching once. Clint, afterwards, expected to feel the entirely of a world of weight lift off his shoulders, the sweet taste of victory tingling his taste buds. In the end, it felt strangely bland. Clint wanted Loki to balk, to try to silver-tongue or cajole his way out of it, but he didn't. And, at the time he didn't see it, but now having all the facts, Clint can verify that Loki felt genuine and gaping remorse.

Clint wouldn't ever apologize for what he did, but damn looking back on it, it now looked like such a pyrrhic victory. And that next morning he had to go face the people, who he thought were his friends, interrogate him and Nat.

All the scrutiny, the uneasy stares, the neuro tests, the upped security measures just rendered him raw and angry. The weighed words, even Coulson regarded him with a grey uneasiness.

In fact, during the entire time he and Nat had reported into SHIELD, Coulson's eyes scorched a hole in the back of his head, like he was again some potential threat.

Like he would help destroy a world that his family and friends lived in. Like he wanted to do it the first time.

Clint knew Coulson had an axe to grind with Loki, and Hill had no love lost for him either, but he honestly didn't expect to have their suspicion of foul-play taken out on him. Fury, sure, them no. It just pushed him over the edge.

He recalled a previous conversation with Coulson and Hill after one of his neuro-exams this past week.


 

"How you feeling Barton?" Hill asked smoothly and he really wished that she had sounded normal and neutral like always. But she didn't. She sounded a little soft and he knew she was trying to manipulating him.

"Like I just got back from a nice relaxing day at the spa. I should have asked the brain electrode guy for a mani-pedi. A guy can never feel too pampered." Clint half sneered with a voice like fake sugar. Hill dropped the act.

Damn, where is Nat?

"It's nothing personal. We can't leave anything to chance. One moment we have Loki's magic signature on your flight to New York then it disappears almost right after the jet lands. These precautions a—" Clint had enough and cut Hill off.

"Nothing personal, you know people only say that when it is right? It's sort of like the phrase 'No offense'. Save your justifications for your report and not me." Clint pushed past Hill and unfortunately rounded a corner into Coulson who of course had been listening.

"Barton. Loki is a dangerous, highly intelligent, and manipulative Demi-God. If he is back, we have to everything we can to ensure that what he attempted three years ago doesn't happen again. If that Demon really is Loki, he could try to compromise you and Dr. Selvig again." Hill expounded like she was in a mission debrief and Clint's vision flashed with sudden rage.

He had to pull every lie busting training tactic for Hill, Coulson, and Fury to not pick up that he knew about Loki. He passed, of course, but it didn't lessen their suspicion of him. It of course didn't let them see him as Agent Clint Barton, and not 'Loki's flying monkey'. This was all Loki's fault. Really. If only that mysterious, dark god never stepped out of that damn portal and made him into some henchman in a bad action movie. If only he hadn't been dishonored by him.

Nat still wasn't here. He could really use her help right now.

Maybe he should just tell them all about Loki. Or maybe he could hit Loki where he knew it would hurt most.

An arrow right through his friend's blue moon tattoo.

"Dishonored. Not. Compromised. And again for the oh I don't know, thousandth time, the Demon is real. He lit a fire on Tony's roof and killed a deer. Think Loki would do something like that? I don't know if there is anything I can do anymore to convince you that I'm not Loki's lap dog and I'm done trying." Clint leaned back and crossed his arms, muscles flexing as if daring Hill for a retort.

"Barton. If Loki is here we will find him, and we will put a stop to him, and whatever he has planned." Coulson's voice slapped Clint like a wet towel. If only they knew what supposedly Loki was really up to. Clint also didn't miss how he was called Barton and not Clint by someone he considered a friend.

Actually, only Nat called him Clint nowadays. They really didn't see him as a friend anymore.

"Well, Phil, happy hunting to you and Maria. Count me out of the wild goose, or should I say wild God chase." He made sure to use their first names. They didn't visually scowl back but he knew he made his point.

Loki had cost him everything.

His whole life he strove to be the person you could count on to make the right call. To have unclouded vision, to see the right course of action and follow through seamlessly. Just like when he left home so his family would have one less mouth to feed and joined the circus to send money home to support his family when no other jobs could be had in their drugged out town.

Everyone still second-guessed him. Just shooting Loki a few times wasn't enough. It was time for him to feel as isolated as he did.


 

The need to do to Loki what he did to him overrode everything. Losing his friendships at SHIELD made him see red because he sacrificed a normal, simple life for them and he got this in return.

He could have built a house like his kid brother did. He could've settled down with a wife, had some kids, teach them hockey, how to bow hunt. But no, he sacrificed all that and all he got suspicion and rejection in return for something he couldn't control.

'But damn, I went absolute straight-jacket status in the Quinjet. Nat had every reason to rough me up and tell everyone about what I almost did, but she didn't. Probably a good thing, if I went through with it, Loki probably would have turned Stark Tower to ash.' Clint realized, looking back, it was a colossally bad idea.

He liked Sesshomaru, but people hurt people they like all the time.

He really wasn't himself after he had gotten back from seeing Fury. Fury eyed only him, seeing if he was hiding something, any scrap of evidence that Fancy Pants was anyone other than who he was. Clint even told Fury his eyes weren't blue and to stop acting like they were.

Fury never really suspected Nat, who, ironically, planned most of the scheme. Clint found his razor and his shaving cream and started to shave.

'After getting the quick and dirty recap from Tony and seeing him dressed up like Sesshomaru with matching face tattoos, which I now have photographic evidence of thanks to Bruce and Nat, I thought there couldn't be any more surprises thrown my way. Nope. Totally wrong. The icy gut punch of irony just suckered me good. To think Loki was a puppet too.' Clint carefully shaved around his Adam's apple, he should probably change out the blades for newer, sharper ones.

Clint remembered, despite the scepter, disagreeing with some of Loki's tactical choices. He remembered not understanding Stuttgart entirely. Yes he needed a distraction, but didn't need Loki to act out in that way. An explosion would have sufficed and allowed them to retreat. And yes, he needed the eyeball, but he also didn't have to extract the eyeball from the guy either. He also didn't agree with Loki's imprisonment on the helicarrier, it was an unnecessary risk for the invasion. It was all wrong, it got the Avengers together, not disband, and shatter them. It even got him thinking clearly, out of the scepter's control!

Loki wasn't a vicious, high-strung, lunatic; he acted that way on purpose. And not because he was bribed to be one.

Clint cursed, nicking himself shaving. He knew he should have changed out the blades. Loki would probably be laughing at him right now if he saw him. His mind flashed to Loki on his back on the floor of the gym, briefly stunned. his chest heaved under his damp shirt, strong jaw slackened in shock.

Loki looked human. Like he could actually hurt Loki.

And he did, in a sense. He had royally offended him somehow when all he really meant was to say that three years ago Loki had well, pulled off the impossible. Because, Clint figured, if the Other and Thermos figured out he double crossed them they would have gone through the portal first.

That wouldn't have been good. They barely held off the Chitauri. Guilt scratched the back of Clint's throat. Loki being mad at him was really one of the last things he wanted since he clearly had just started to balance himself out.

Loki.

They tortured him, the Other and that Titan tortured Loki, God of Mischief. Clint recalled how he shot to his feet when Sesshomaru answered his question, and subsequently, sparked his panic attack.

How could he have not seen it? He was his right hand man for the entire damn invasion and he had no clue. He knew Loki could lie, he just didn't think he hid anything from him while leading the invasion. He hid a lot.

Clint managed to find a bit of tissue to put on the bleeding cut on his jaw.

Loki failed the invasion not only to spit in the Other's eye, but to save a planet he didn't even live on! And then went back to Asgard for seconds! All so that his family, his people, would believe him that the worst had yet to come; he just merely delayed the inevitable.

He stayed in Asgard getting his head bashed in atonement to regain enough trust to save both Earth and his home. And no one believed him, no one bothered to trust him.

He had to trick his own father about a mythical sword, risking his best friend's life, not only bringing him to this time, but also trusting that he didn't kill us, or we him.

Clint hated the logic behind it, because he had wanted to hate Loki so much. It was what he did, it was what he was comfortable with. It's what he had been doing.

But all along Loki wanted what he wanted: to get his honor back.

He remembered Loki's choked words. He had heard them before, from the scepter. He didn't know what they meant when he was being controlled, but now he did. Forger is what scepter went by, Broken Blade is what he called Loki. Loki had been directed the whole time.

'The Scepter may have shrouded my mind, but the Other apparently did something else to Loki's. You can't fake that desperate tone of voice, that crazy tree magic, that wild, cornered wave of agony.' Clint could affirmatively say Loki unraveled, and Sesshomaru aimed to murder. Clint ran some gel through his hair, it always got fluffy otherwise.

"I existed once. I truly did. You know that." Clint heard himself whisper the words Loki only meant for Sesshomaru, his voice had cut deep like a chasm. Those words still echoed in Clint when rooms, like this one, were quiet and still. Clint tugged on his purple Ducati shirt and found some baggy, torn jeans and slipped those on over his boxers.

'I don't know what possessed me to go up to the sofa, behind Tony, and call your name. You didn't hear me, didn't see me, but I wanted you to.' He swiped on deodorant and a little aftershave, avoiding the cut and sprayed on Armani Code, and made his way to the kitchen.

In all, this whole debacle that Loki had currently made his life into could have gone sideways so many different ways, but that only showed how hopeless Loki felt. How much Loki needed someone to trust him, to listen to him.

'Who actually does listen to him besides Sesshomaru? How much do we even really know about Loki? How much does he really lie? How does someone like the 'I'm suspicious of everyone' Demon Lord get to trust Loki when no one else supposedly does? How deep does this rabbit hole really go?' Unfortunately, he could relate to not being trusted. He hated thinking of questions he'd probably eventually get the answers to, and not like.

He entered the bustling, lively kitchenette that comprised Stark Tower.

Everyone was prepping for, as Tony called it, 'crabpocalypse'. He saw that Sesshomaru looked way better. Just because you had a break down didn't mean you thrashed your friends, Loki had to work on that. But like he was one to talk...

'That stupid tricky cartwheel kick he landed was a little bit also payback for what Loki did to you, in addition to showing Loki he isn't the only one who can be flashy.' Clint grinned to himself, still stoked he landed the kick. They weren't easy to land. It was fortunate Loki was so hard headed since they resulted in a lot of knock outs.

Clint liked to think that Sesshomaru saw the venison as a peace offering following the Quinjet incident. After learning he was a Dog Demon, and receiving his scathing, glacial death-stare he gave him on the helipad, Clint knew Fancy Pants heard what he attempted. He knew a thing about having enhanced senses.

"Hey Legolas! Come help with me with the potato salad...I don't know what I'm doing and Pepper refuses to help." Tony sounded petulant like a teenager. He leaned against the counter next to the potato salad bowl, drink in hand, scowling at the bowl like an unsolvable problem.

"Tony. It's potato salad. Please." Pepper protested, rolling her blue eyes. She was holding a vanilla ice cream cone in one hand, and a butter pecan cone in the other. Clint would bet his best bow the butter pecan was Steve's who had his hands full. Always old fashioned. Clint made his way to a way out of his depth Tony Stark.

"So you can make an arc reactor and Iron Man suits, but not potato salad?" Clint began to chop up the rest of the potatoes with practiced ease.

"I'm an inventor, genius, playboy, and Iron Man. Potato salad doesn't really fit into my brand." Clint snickered. Brand?

"What the infamous Tony Stark can't learn something new?" Steve announced pulling his cheese biscuits from the oven, wearing an apron and hot mitts. Man Steve, you are so lucky your biceps are as large as my legs or the Suzy homemaker jokes…

"Ok Captain Pillsbury, please explain how making potato salad can possibly improve the perfection that is me." Tony mocked, pushing the bowl towards Clint as if it was a bomb.

"Women love a man who can cook!" Steve retorted and Clint tossed a cube of potato at Steve's chest. It landed perfectly in the pocket of his apron. Natasha laughed, rinsing grapes in one hand, in the other a strawberry ice cream cone. Steve could only shrug.

"Cooking skills are pretty low priority for the people I seduce. And what you're doing isn't cooking, it's baking, Captain Betty Crocker." Tony responded, and Clint noticed Tony's quick dart of a look Fancy Pants' direction who either ignored it or didn't notice.

Clint went with ignored. Not much got past the calculating Demon Lord. It also didn't get past Clint that Fancy Pants ate all his food practically raw….

"Hello Barton! I got you some ice cream! It's mint chocolate chip! Lord Sesshomaru said you like green too! Hurry it's melting!" Clint looked down at Rin who held held up a cone. Her brown eyes shown big and hair was brushed and shiny.

'Rin is a cute kid, she is just a bit older than my niece, Chloe. Maybe one day they'll meet. I actually hung up my picture Rin drew me. It's awesome. It's me firing arrows at a huge dragon.' Clint gave her a warm thumbs up and Rin's round face practically sprouted joy.

"Thanks munchkin! Wait! What since when do you speak English?!" Clint jumped and Rin laughed, everyone else in the room was smiling like they were in on an inside joke.

Of course he was last on the uptake.

"Uncle Loki made me this necklace that makes what I say understood by you! Stark made me this ear device so I can understand you! It's called the 'Com-rin-icator' High five!" Rin threw her hand up and Clint high fived it. Rin giggled and ran. 'Uncle Loki huh? The munchkin loves the guy.' Clint continued to chop up some hardboiled eggs that Tony somehow managed to figure out to make.

Actually no, he probably roped Steve or Bruce into making them.

"Really Tony? That's actually really great of you!" Steve commended, Clint caught the note of intentional disbelief.

"Well I must admit, I, Tony Stark, bartered." Clint saw Tony turn back to Sesshomaru who nodded and Clint swore he saw his ears move. Sesshomaru simply stood in the middle of the fray, just like the ringleader of a circus.

Clint wondered why he bothered positioning himself in the middle of everything when he was really more of a periphery kind of guy. Clint monitored the Demon Lord, he didn't like being in the middle of anything, much like himself.

They had a few things in common.

He savored his ice cream as Loki sauntered into the room, wearing his typical get up, tight black leather pants and emerald v-neck shirt. His hair was washed, gelled, and pushed back straight. Rin plowed into him and Loki stumbled back and smiled widely. He certainly acted like an uncle to Rin, but to himself something else.

Clint remembered their conversation in the dark early this morning.

Loki's hips swayed and his shoulders rolled like a Tango dancer to a slow rhythmic beat. His presumptuous green eyes flared with magic, because no human eyes could possibly gleam that bright. Carnivorous and sly, Loki was all jungle, his body undulated and lips hinted at a vague threat or cavernous hunger.

Clint, being a hunter, easily identified the signals Loki relayed to him. Loki beckoned him with cunning quips and a familiarity he didn't feel he deserved. Clint had to say it puzzled him why Loki would play such games, but it was Loki after all. He must look to get a certain reaction of anyone.

He refused to remember how his body language made him swallow and his skin rush with heat. He wasn't used to such undiluted and brash scrutiny.

'And a week ago I hated this guy more than anything. Now what? You've gotten yourself into a mess Clint, a big complicated, confusing mess with the God of Mischief. What are you thinking?!' Clint ate more of his rich, albeit small ice cream cone while one-handedly adding in the chopped potatoes and eggs into the bowl.

'Mint chocolate chip isn't my favorite but it's pretty good. Why she said Fancy Pants thinks I'd like green is beyond me. I mean, I'm wearing purple, you'd think if he thought I liked green I'd be wearing it...wait. Nooooo." He slowly turned around to a suspiciously still Sesshomaru watching him, stoic as ever. His gold eyes sliced into him with an intensity that could cleave marble.

'That meddling bastard! He can't possibly still be serious!' Clint stole another glance to Loki. Loki merely donned a mocking smile and pointed to his chin.

The razor nick! Blasted Loki! He threw off the small bit of tissue off his jaw and into the trash. He then picked up a chunk of celery and threw it behind him right at Sesshomaru. He snatched it right before it hit him on his gaudy blue moon.

He stared at Sesshomaru, putting two fingers to his eyes then pointing to Sesshomaru, who merely blinked slowly.

'One day I'll surprise him.' Clint vowed to himself.

'Crafty, delusional, Demon Lord, smug, know-it all Demi-God. You two should have never been allowed to be friends.' Clint set his jaw hard at Sesshomaru who simply stared back. He heard Loki's dark, dry laugh.

This. This was his life, making potato salad in a billionaire's kitchen for two Demi-Gods, a Demon Lord, oh and don't forget the Hulk!

"...Rivendell to Legolas! Get the mustard!" Tony waved his hand in front of Clint's face and he jolted grabbing the Dijon. Tony so knew how to make potato salad; he just didn't want to it. Figures.

He heard Sesshomaru leave the kitchen like his work was done. Damn. He turned back to the potato salad, stirring the in the Dijon. He wondered if Loki had been mocking him over his music selection for their Fight Club. The Skrillex song was meant as a joke, being that Nat called him Glow Stick.

'Ah, I was quite dazzled.' What an arrogant God! What was that supposed to mean?!

The Kanye music was an inside joke. Kanye West, though a talented musical artist, had an ego that could rival Loki's. Yet if you really listened to his albums, he had good chunk of self-depreciation about himself as well. If Loki became a fan of his music it would just be too perfect.

He and Nat would have material to laugh at for days. Though he should definitely remove 'Love Lockdown' from the playlist though, what an awkward song to end a spar on.

Nothing like pulling another sweaty, toned guy off the floor to the lyrics 'I'm not loving you, the way I wanted to. What I had to do, had to run from you.' Clint glanced up, searching the room for Loki, frowning noticing he had left.

Irritable God. He could just take it out his issues on him in their next Fight Club. He wouldn't let him out of their spars easily.

'Maybe I'll replace it with Runaway, or some EDM song.' He finished the first potato salad Tony ever attempted to make without any further distraction just as the last member of the dinner party arrived.

"Rhodey! How's life?!" Tony hugged Rhodey and put an arm around him, showing him his newest gadget thing and handing him a beer. They chatted and meandered to Pepper who was standing near the table.

They had to cobble together a bunch of crazy mismatched furniture to make their Crabpocalypse dinner of one dozen happen. Clint also imagined that Loki may have conjured some furniture together as some of the chairs were his preferred shade of green.

It agitated him he knew his preferred shade of green.

It didn't occur to Clint, until after he grabbed his Heineken, also green, from the fridge, that the only open seat at the table was across from Loki.

Loki had also decided to sit at the very end, next to Sesshomaru, and of course across from Sesshomaru sat Tony. Tony couldn't let the poor Demon Lord get away with one meal without harassment.

Their current seating arrangement left his talking options to Tony, who would have his attentions on Rhodey to his left, a Demon Lord who averaged three words an hour, and the God of Mischief.

Sesshomaru arranged this on purpose.

'Oh. This game in on! I'm gonna act like nothing is off, gonna get Fancy Pants back for this one.' Clint vowed at least he got his choice of crab cakes. He made his way to the table, double fisting ice cream and beer, and sat in front of the Loki who's forehead wrinkled in legitimate shock seeing him there.

Clint's cheeks flushed scarlet and he sucked his teeth. He watched Loki, high cheekbones and all, turn next to him at Fancy Pants, and drum his fingers on the table. Clint decided to do the same. Solidarity.

Sesshomaru just calmly passed the crabcakes to Clint, as if nothing was up. Clint picked up the tongs and picked his choice, spotting that the Demon Lord did in fact had the practically raw venison cut into small pieces on his plate. Success there.

Returning the tongs, Clint grabbed the fruit salad bowl as Loki quickly morphed into his Japanese form before Rhodes took his seat next to Tony. Clint totally forgot that the whole point of this was to bring Rhodes on board. He, of course, wouldn't be used to seeing Loki enjoying the damn crabcakes like a Food Network Star across the table.

'Yet, since when do I find it normal that Loki eats with us? I mean, it's a bit strange Fancy Pants still thinks we are lovers, but other than that…it feels like one big dysfunctional family. Seriously dysfunctional. Key word dysfunctional.' Clint spooned grapes, blueberries, pineapple and apples, avoiding the cantaloupe, onto his plate. Cantaloupe grossed him out.

Probably because one of his circus tricks was having them launch cantaloupes with faces painted on them and he, blindfolded, would shoot them with flaming arrows.

He would do it with other smaller fruit too but the cantaloupes always kind of looked like heads and when they'd burst open they stank sickly sweet. The complete opposite of what a split open human head really smelled like.

"So Tony, who are your new friends?" Clint stiffened reflexively. Loki sliced a gaze across the table and Sesshomaru just tilted his head, lips drawing into a slight frown.

"Ah, Colonel Rhodes, they are guests of mine! Son of Taisho provided the ocean scuttlers you are consuming!" Thank you Thor for the save. Thor beamed like a bonfire from Rin's right. She also adored Thor, who she of course called 'Storm God.'

Clint couldn't see Rhodes' reaction but he did see Tony relax and take a drink of his… gin and tonic?! Was he out of scotch?

"Ah, it's been a while since we've seen others from Asgard—" Rhodes started and Jaken interrupted.

"My Lord and I are not from the distant realm, bothersome human!" Jaken interrupted and ate a shrimp. Rhodes just turned to Tony with a perplexed look twisted on his face. Clint also forgot that not many people would be used to a two-foot tall green Demon with a superiority complex belittle an Air Force Colonel.

"Yeah, ignore Snarf. He and the rest of Thundercats still got bifrost jet-lag." Tony smirked and turned to Sesshomaru who just continued to stare at Clint deadpan.

Clint was sure it bothered Tony, since he obviously baited Sesshomaru and it didn't work. Clint wished he did get baited; Fancy Pants was weirding him out.

"What? Do I have something on my face Fancy Pants? Maybe a moon?" Clint tried to shake Fancy Pants' gaze and he got him to furrow his eyebrows and take a sip of his red wine at least.

"Uh, yeah ok. So, Tony, how goes the experiment on the… " Clint zoned out of Rhodes' question to Tony, who continued to scowl at the Demon Lord.

Clint hadn't noticed that his ice cream had melted down to his hand till Loki cleared his throat.

"Didn't know you to be so inattentive to your surroundings, Clint." Loki flashed his teeth in amusement, clearly the God had been waiting to say something until the opportune moment.

Clint cursed and instinctively switched the cone to his left hand and licked the melted ice cream off his right. The mint ice cream now warm and sticky on his hand, licking it didn't really do the trick.

"Says the guy who I kicked in the head and laid out?" Clint fired back, without malice.

Loki merely sighed and grabbed his cloth napkin, dipping it in ice water, and took Clint's right hand in his. Loki wiped Clint's hand clean with a soft grace and Clint, stunned, just froze there, still as stone.

'Ok. This is definitely not normal; this is definitely new territory. Is he seriously treating me like a kid?' It reminded him of when he was new to the circus he joined and everyone watched over him like they would a kid brother. He was the middle child in his family, not the youngest, thank you very much.

Yet, Clint didn't dare move his hand. The last thing he wanted was Tony turning and noticing what was happening. Clint already felt Fancy Pants' slit pupiled eyes scalding a hole through his hand. A hand currently being caressed by a very mischievous God.

"Thanks, I am not a kid, I am completely capable of cleaning up my own messes." Clint finally retracted his hand only after Loki cleaned it. Clint attempted to eat his ice cream cone hastily. He caught Loki's now brown eyes smoldering.

"You are far from a child, I never meant to imply anything of the sort. I just merely offered assistance where needed." Clint tried to look Loki in the eyes, but it grated on him out that Loki didn't look like Loki, but still sounded like him. He opted for staring at a bit of apple on Loki's plate instead.

'Wish he could just look like himself. I meant what I said in the kitchen earlier this morning before dawn. Loki should just stay Loki; the shapeshifting throws me off. I don't like it.' Clint's mouth tugged into a small frown as he picked up his beer in his now clean right hand.

"Yeah, well, it's what parents do with their kids or what…" Clint's eyes widened in realization that he was about to say: 'what lovers do' and knew he had to immediately turn his attention from Loki. He turned to see Sesshomaru regarding him with a bit of humor.

'Stop. Staring. At. Me.' Clint ran his tongue over his teeth in frustration. Sesshomaru, obviously, didn't stop staring.

Clint instead of taking a swig from his beer in his right hand, he took a large bite from his ice cream cone and recoiled from the brain freeze and unexpected sweetness. This was just not Clint's dinner.

Loki snorted and his now brown eyes crinkled, running a hand through his now shorter hair. Clint licked his lips, now taking a big gulp from his Heineken, putting it back down, picking up his fork to attack his crabcakes before they cooled.

"Were you going to finish your thought?" Loki prompted darkly, taking a sip from his red wine, probably Chiraz, it's what he drank at the Steakhouse. Wait, why did he remember that?

"You know; why don't you finish it for me Lo-Yuki?" Clint had no idea what made him say that at all. He also almost blew his cover.

Clint's humor thrived on sarcasm, not verbal wit games. He just challenged the God of Lies to a game of wit. 'Good job Clint, just hand me a shovel so I can keep on digging.' Clint put a forkful of crabcake into his mouth. Loki took another sip of wine. That particular exchange made Clint feel like he was roped into some blind date. He shook the thought from his head and focused on the food.

'Man these are slammin. Good call Fancy Pants. These were probably just as good, or better than the venison I got him.' Clint stole a look over to Fancy Pants who, for once didn't stare at him, but seemed completely zoned out, even for him, staring down at his plate.

A plate of almost completely untouched venison, prepared blue probably how he liked it.

'Damn, maybe I was wrong, maybe he is more of a porterhouse kind of guy. Though he hasn't said a word all evening, and while he isn't exactly a 'Chatty Kathy', thank god we have enough of those, this is unusual. He and Loki haven't talked about anything, and Tony is busy with Rhodes. Is it possible for Fancy Pants to feel left out? Eh, unlikely, Sesshomaru could command one hundred and ten percent of Tony's attention if he wanted it.' Clint realized he had been staring at the Demon Lord now for what was probably a sufficiently awkward amount of time.

"-Kanye's piece Stronger I found to be quite stimulating." Clint turned his head back to Loki, whoops, totally didn't catch most of that. Clint nodded and hummed in agreement to what he had no idea. He was just glad that no one, including himself caught what Loki may have finished his original thought with.

"Your attentions were preoccupied weren't they? Perhaps regarding a certain Demon Lord?" Clint looked up from his food to see Loki attacking him a dagger sharp look, angled especially severely from his shapeshifted, slanted eyes.

Clint pulled his head back and furrowed his eyebrows in confusion, this level of irritation was different than the anger he displayed earlier in the gym. The look he gave him made his skin crawl.

Clint decided there was no point in lying to the God of Lies.

"Well, yeah, my friend Hank, the butcher, is going to be so excited his venison is being so well enjoyed." Clint pointed his fork at Sesshomaru's full plate and Loki carved his knife-like gaze his way. Sesshomaru, still apparently not paying attention, continued looking down, mauling his cloth napkin with his Freddie Kreuger claws.

"…not hungry Sesshomaru?" Loki's gaze dulled out to his normal stare, and Sesshomaru snapped his head up, blinking.

'There is something definitely up with Fancy Pants.' Clint thought, forking another chunk of rich crabcake into his mouth, leaning forward.

"…Here Jaken, consume some of this." Sesshomaru pushed off most of his venison and onto Jaken's, plate. Loki scrunched his nose.

"Thank you Lord Sesshomaru! I knew you cared about me!" Jaken happily began to carve into the venison like it was a birthday cake. Well at least it won't go to waste.

"Not much better, gotta say Fancy Pants, I'm a little insulted." Clint took another swig of beer, then leaned back tossed a grape up in the air and caught it his mouth. He would try to hit Sesshomaru with one now, but with him being like this now, there'd be no challenge.

"…this Sesshomaru does not need to eat as often as humans do. I mean no offense." Sesshomaru answered placidly, looking at Clint in the eyes, tiredly.

"Well, try it anyway. I swear you'll keep your supermodel figure." Clint smiled and winked at Sesshomaru for good measure, just to get him to react in some way.

He didn't. Instead, Loki shifted his eyes between the two a few times, and Clint almost thought Loki felt annoyed. Clint then mentally smacked himself, Sesshomaru had no idea what a supermodel was.

He also received a quick dart of a dirty look from Tony beside him. Clint just grinned, Tony wasn't the only one who could mess with Fancy Pants.

Tony's attention was captured by Rhodes again and Clint finished his crabcake.

With Loki practically burning Sesshomaru's face off with his stare, Clint decided to keep Loki annoyed, which was far better than himself feeling awkward. With the grape in hand he flicked it expertly at Loki's left temple. It connected with a soft, dewy smack.

"Your attentions were preoccupied weren't they? Perhaps regarding a certain Demon Lord?" Clint repeated verbatim, in the best Loki impression he could. Loki snapped back to him, eyes absolutely iridescent despite them being brown and not green.

Clint didn't anticipate that reaction; he thought he might bite his head off or go off on some sort of monologue about being child and making a mess.

"Why Clint," Loki squared up to the table with a fluid swivel of his broad shoulders. "Do you require my attention? If so what for?" Loki picked up the red grape that Clint hit him which landed on the table, put it to his lips, and sucked it into his mouth.

This guy. He even had to eat grapes with a flourish.

Clint, defensively, took another swig of beer. Loki, unusually, always seemed to know how to render him without a good comeback ready. Like Loki was playing a chess game and was three moves ahead.

"Yeah," Clint stalled. "You mentioned Skrillex, and Stronger, you may like EDM, its electronic dance music. People do a lot of drugs, spin glow-sticks, some irony intended with what Nat calls you, and wear costumes. I can make you a playlist and with more Kanye if you want." Clint recovered, proud of himself. He survived another battle of wits with the God of Mischief.

"Have some key lime pie! It's not half-bad. Take a piece, Clint, and uh Yuki." Pepper surprised him by standing beside him with two plates of pie. He had forgotten there were more than three people at this table. Far more.

"Sure thanks Pepper! Here Yuki." Clint relieved Pepper of both plates and passed one to Loki, who eyed it with zest.

'Yeah, he does like limes doesn't he? I love key lime pie, I mean who doesn't, it's not too sweet, and…damnit green.' Clint looked down, he had already defeated his small ice cream cone and now in front of him, was another green dessert. He leaned back only to lock eyes with Loki.

Brown eyes pierced into his like thread into the eye of a needle.

"Oh yes Clint. I appreciate the attention you give to my curiosities." Loki put a forkful of key lime pie in his mouth, his eyes never straying from their eye contact. Clint swallowed again, reaching for his beer realizing it was out. Defensively, he put a forkful of key lime pie in his mouth. Even Pepper was driving him crazy.

"Uncle Yuki can you tell me a story? One of you and my Lord?! Storm God told me he told everyone the one when you were turned into a purple stag! Did it hurt? What's it like being a deer?" Rin basically had teleported. She now stood next to Loki, twirling from side to side. Apparently sitting between Jaken and Thor, who was mostly talking to Nat, had bored her.

Loki, completely off guard, furrowed his dark eyebrows and scrunched his nose at Sesshomaru who merely raised an eyebrow.

"No it didn't hurt, and it wasn't very much fun having no arms I'll tell you that." Loki smiled warmly and Sesshomaru, took a small bite of the venison, as if to taunt Loki.

"Once long ago two Panther Demons, nephews of a great King, led a raid on the Western Lands. They decimated some mortal villages, leaving nothing but tonguing flames and crying mothers in their wake. Your Lord's father, Inu no Taisho, requested us personally to assassinate them and put an end to their torment." Rin leaned in, wide-eyed in rapt attention and Clint didn't realize he too had his elbows on the table.

"Your Lord and I prepared for battle by sparring tirelessly. I, armed with my spear, and he with his whip, quested through a hidden cavern in order to creep into the middle their domain. Deep within the mountains of Midgard, we stealthily eliminated much of their clan, cutting through their sentries and guards like a farmer's scythe through reeds." Loki spoke with his hands, though didn't conjure any magic. Clint figured he probably wanted to.

"What happened next!?" Rin scooted closer to Loki and his face lit up.

Then he remembered his question to himself earlier: 'Who listened to Loki besides Sesshomaru?' Rin. Rin hung on every word Loki said. She believed him outright about everything.

"In the dead of night, under a crescent moon, we arrived at their stronghold and your Lord announced his presence with a violent outburst of red youki. The two ruthless and deadly Panther Demons, named Keiji and Kado, drew their weapons, a sword and a pike respectively. The death duels began with a great clash of frosted white Youki against your Lord's own scarlet." Loki had a real knack for telling stories, his facial expressions and his hands drew you in. Clint, at this point noticed practically the whole table was listening.

"Your Lord expertly dueled the elder brother, Keiji, who was as bloodthirsty as he was mighty. Keiji thought because he had an enchanted sword had the upper hand on Sesshomaru. Keiji, however, underestimated your Lord. A costly error. He was cleaved in two with your Lord's own left hand when he foolishly assumed an attack he unleashed from his enchanted sword had killed him." Loki looked back to Sesshomaru who narrowed his eyes.

"Panther Demons always rely…relied on singular attacks far too often. They lacked ingenuity in battle." Sesshomaru supplied stoically, nibbling slightly on a piece of meat that he picked up with chopsticks.

"Ah yes. His brother Kado didn't quite like that you slew his brother so. When he transformed I took advantage of his blind rage and ensnared then impaled him with my spear. Then we returned to the Western Lands. Your Lord's father simply told us we took too long to complete our quest, if I do recall correctly." Loki finished and turned to Sesshomaru whose ears lowered. Rin beamed in approval.

"I bet Lord's Sesshomaru's father was just joking! You and my Lord Sesshomaru are a great team! You'll certainly defeat those mean blue aliens again!" The table stilled and Clint tensed up. Obviously Rin didn't quite understand why Rhodes was here.

"Tony… did I hear that right, Demons? And did that little girl mean the Chitauri!? They're coming back?" Rhodes certainly didn't pull any punches.

We just had dinner, now it was time for the show.


 

Thank you for reading! :) this is Clint's first chapter, I hope you liked it! Let me know what you think!

-TL

Chapter Text

Sesshomaru and the Premonition

*(*

Sesshomaru mildly enjoyed observing the antics of the others at the dinner table, though his face was showing none of it. He was comfortable being on the outside of things looking in. It is how he usually interacted with Demons back in his time. Loki, truly, remained the only exception to his typical distant demeanor before he encountered Jaken and later Rin.

He knew not why these humans, especially Stark, found his person so interesting. He very much doubted it had anything to do with the way he carried his person. If anything, the humans here acted far stranger and far more animate.

He logically thought at first the humans would tire of him, and interact solely with Loki, or simply continue with their banal socializing amongst themselves. Yet, they continued to pursue to conversations with him.

Barton who would even toss random projectiles at him like some sort of game. Of course Stark would also strike up conversations with him and play the question game.

No Demon nor human sought him out in his own realm for socializing, something his father knew would affect diplomacy with the Southern Lands and the Lands across the Great Sea. It was one reason he had him meet and study with Loki, to improve his fraternization skills.

Sesshomaru had absolutely no interest in entertaining mindless, sniveling idiots. He'd sooner pull his own talons out of his fingers than suffer the ignorance from the half-witted Demons and humans who kissed his boots for any modicum of relations. He was not one to mince words, or weave tapestries of conversations just to gain favor of someone who only sought their own selfish gain. He was not a tool to be used for political maneuvering.

He would never allow himself to be used.

Sesshomaru was quite thankful he was still considered not of mating age when his father met his untimely end. He absolutely would not have permitted his father to wrangle simpering or manipulative Demonesses to be his mate. He cracked his knuckles at the thought of placating wily Demonesses whose families would have used their union to gain sovereignty over his lands through an heir.

He thought of Bakusaiga. If she were to ever become strong enough to inhabit her humanoid form, she would be a perfect heir to the Western Lands.

He would get back to his realm. He would go back to where he truly belong—Sesshomaru suppressed a smirk when Stark turned his attentions to Loki's story.

Stark's brown eyes narrowed in anticipation to what Loki said next and Sesshomaru caught himself intensely studying him for any sort of positive reaction.

Stark was beginning to encroach on the normally solid buffer zone he constructed around himself. He was becoming an exception. He deftly snatched up the fork that was next to his chopsticks and cracked his knuckles again.

He could have rebuffed Stark harshly by now, but no. He deliberately sought him out. He purposefully bartered with him, with his own person nonetheless, to obtain Rin's translation device. The thought rankled him; it was quite opportune he had something that Stark wanted to barter for her ear device.

He didn't want to ponder if his pride would have allowed him to ask the smug human for a favor. He didn't want to ponder why he found himself listening for his voice that sounded like bellows of a blacksmith.

Sesshomaru twisted the fork in his claws.

He didn't want to ponder why honed his ears onto Stark's heartbeat that quickened almost imperceptibly when Stark caught him studying him. He didn't want to ponder why he had made sure he imprinted in his mind the angle of his lopsided, beard-framed grin and the slant of his untamed eyebrows.

Sesshomaru would have accused Loki or Stark of bewitching him, however he was above such base witchcraft.

His mind tumbled through the events of the day, which by this realm's accounts had not gone poorly.

Sesshomaru had researched the historical documents Jarvis had provided him and there was no historical record of not only his existence, but any Demons. Ever.

'The only information to be had were from myths and legends from fictional texts, such as The Bible, which depicted my race, my people, as either fallen angels (preposterous), from the underworld (impossible), or possessed humans (I knew few who went through trouble). It was if we never existed. Anything I went through and anyone I knew was merely delusion. Any conquest I accomplished, any Demon slain, lost forever. Little Demon lost indeed.' Sesshomaru's sour expression went unnoticed. He had already shredded his napkin, disintegrating the fork shouldn't matter.

He needed not the attention, nor the historical proof he existed from the humans, however, he desired to know what had occurred to his people. Sesshomaru knew not if his coming to the future had any impact on the Demons disappearing, such thoughts of time leaping left a lingering headache behind his eyes.

While his youki was still somewhat depleted from the scry, the poison, and healing, he had received an unexpected boost from Stark's favorable reaction to guessing his favorite musical artist. He had not thought that possible from a human, much less one he had known for such a short time and who routinely pestered and provoked him.

He still remembered his own magenta stripes and indigo moon on Stark's face, the way he looked in his realm's style of clothing. It was days ago, yes, but sitting across from Stark for an extended period of time caused him to recollect that event.

It was shockingly… comforting to see something that reminded him of his own home, even if it was just a traditional yukata and his own hakama with a sash. And for it to be Stark to ember such a warm sentiment in him perplexed him further.

'Stark is a peculiar human indeed. His positive opinions of this Sesshomaru spike my youki levels considerably. And I am not in immediate disapproval of it.' Sesshomaru had indeed noticed the quick arrows of gazes that Stark sent his way, especially when he was in the cooking nook.

Sesshomaru had little idea what he meant when he defended his lack of human cooking skills. Was Stark implying that this Sesshomaru didn't care about his cooking skills? If so, could Stark have a certain interest in him beyond his youki and toxin? Their conversation had definitely implied a certain physicality he had not missed.

Sesshomaru took a sip of his wine and looked down at his raw meat. Of course he didn't care if Stark could cook, he didn't eat anything cooked. He had even thought it amusing he had conned Barton into making his human root-vegetable dish for him.

'Stark vexes me. He clearly finds this Sesshomaru of some curiosity. But, does Stark find me a mere curiosity to only further his own interests in defending his realm, or something more? Surely some of his interactions show an interest beyond my Demonic abilities.' Sesshomaru flexed the fingers of his left hand, as if to ensure the hand could still function.

He summoned his toxin and it began to corrode and melt the one of the prongs of the fork hidden in his lap.

'He also did hold this Sesshomaru's wrist. Stark, aside from greeting this "Rhodey" does not make a habit of physically engaging other humans. However, he harbors a stronger interest in this Rhodey than I. He is quite animated with him, and has not spoken to this Sesshomaru this dinner.' Sesshomaru waived off any notion that Stark could prefer his company over Rhodey's. The evidence was quite clear the opposite was true.

Did he care whether or not Stark found him more or less fascinating than the human who seemed to know so much about him? If he did care, why?

Sesshomaru melted the other prongs off the fork and instinctively made a small, slender stiletto out of the metal. He stole a glance over to Rin who was still clearly engaged in the story of the assassination of the Panther Brothers.

It was quite the successful quest, if his father's only criticism was that they weren't as expedient as he wished. He had slain a Demon most ignorant masses considered outclassed him in power and skill. He had also slain him without the aid of the sword his father denied him: Tessaiga.

It turned out that senile old Demon Totosai and his old friend Bokuseno were correct in the end, he most certainly didn't need anyone's own power beyond his own. Totosai was right to fear, and revere him the way he did, no one in this realm seemed to, well perhaps except for the animals.

The dogs of this realm acted precariously around him. The ones he encountered didn't necessarily approach him, but would stop in their tracks and tilt their heads. They always stilled, watching him, sometimes stopping mid-bark to observe.

Never would one bark at him, as if the dogs knew to only speak when spoken to. He didn't wish to speak to the submissive dogs which the humans had apparently started to enslave with straps called leashes. He had to be educated by Jarvis that in this time the humans and dogs shared a symbiotic relationship, one of provider and loyal companion.

Sesshomaru arrived at the conclusion that humans that could not find proper companionship with other humans must project their desire for love and attention onto the unsuspecting canines.

Disreputable humans...at least the humans he cohabited with did not seem to share this desperate desire for companionship with animals. Sesshomaru didn't think Stark's habits of imbibing in human spirits, flying about in a suit of armor, and odd hours spent in his 'lab' befit one to care for an outdoor animal.

What did befit him was the ingenuity and efficiency when creating devices, such as the one he constructed for Rin. He perceived he was swift when inventing due to an impending invasion, yet he finished Rin's device, which held no priority, quicker than he anticipated.

It pleased him to see Rin so happy, and that others cared for her welfare as well.

The dinner was going well, his ruse to sit Loki and Barton together succeeded. Sesshomaru's instincts indicated to him that edging the archer towards Loki could produce a courtship. Loki liked companionship, he enjoyed attention and flattery. Barton, the quirky archer worked quite suitably for that role. It is one reason he had accepted the venison from Barton, the other was understanding what the gesture truly meant. Barton was no fool, and neither was Sesshomaru.

He simply had no appetite and gave most of it to Jaken as to not squander a good cut of meat. He twirled the makeshift stiletto in his hand, his toxin had worn it down to be a proper dart.

He had felt uneasy when he became the unintended target of a jealous Loki. He had no interest in Barton, that Loki should know, yet Barton sought his attention anyway. He could not control Barton's actions; Loki would have to convince the bizarre archer to focus on him. Just like how Rhodey commanded Stark's focus. He frowned.

Rhodey was a military officer of some acclaim and looked capable enough. He also piloted aircraft, such as Barton and Romanoff. Ideally, it would have been beneficial to ask Rhodey about the technical documents in his possession, but had no desire to do so.

The events this morning still jarred him, he hoped Loki had not noticed he has scryed again. He would not hear the end of his nagging. Loki's story was beginning to end, and Sesshomaru could not be more relieved, there was far too much commotion.

"Tony… did I hear that right, Demons? And did that little girl mean the Chitauri!? They're coming back?" Perfect. Stark's friend Rhodey had caught on. Sesshomaru palmed his small stiletto and took a sip of his wine with his other hand.

"Um. Well, Rhodey, what would you say if we had reason to believe that I didn't nuke all those sons of bitches?" Sesshomaru stiffened and set his jaw as he saw Rin tilt her head in confusion. Son of what?! His youki flared slightly, a blue pulse on the floor around him. Sesshomaru could tell Stark felt it.

"Stark you may want to discontinue using that particular turn of phrase." Loki suggested glibly and Rin climbed into his lap, whispering into Loki's ear a question about the phrase. Stark's eyebrows went to his hairline.

"Was that meant as an insult you blubbering human?! You dare imply that dogs are lower than—" Sesshomaru sighed through his nose, knowing Jaken would catch his exasperation.

Sesshomaru wished at that moment he would be anywhere but there. He debated leaving…was his presence truly required? He fingered the stiletto he made, debating carving something into his wooden chair just like what happened to his arm during his scry.

His jaw clenched tight, his fangs lengthened.

"Uh. Yeah. Good Call." Stark coughed. Sesshomaru stopped caring about whatever they were talking about.

He also wished to study the technical documents Jarvis gave him and search again for his Mother's tomb. He was unwilling to ask Jarvis about such a closely guarded objective of finding the White Salt Land, lest Stark catch wind of it. He still pondered whom to ask about such a delicate place. He knew Stark would ask him a myriad of questions about why he wanted to go there. Perhaps Polly would know.

"So Tony, what's this dinner really all about? Cut the crap." Sesshomaru's ears pricked up, and he looked across and to his right. Rhodey looked straight at him, dark eyes searching for any clue as to his identity. He didn't want to have to go into more introductions. He wanted to slip away, he still felt tired and his chest felt tight. There were simply too many humans around him, he felt crowded.

He simply wished to listen to the new bands he received in relative peace. Polly gave him the Arctic Monkeys, Beyonce, The Airborne Toxic Event, and Incubus. He also wanted see the progress on the toxin Stark and Banner made. He had heard promising updates, that they separated neurotoxin aspect, and the corrosive aspect and increasing their potency separately.

Sesshomaru recalled when he provided Jaken the means to listen to that particular musical artist he literally danced. He had not seen that specific reaction out of his retainer since he trained Jaken to fully control his true form.

"Now, before you freak out, because you will, let me tell you that this is a matter of not just National but um, like Global Security, as Fury would put it. The guy across from me is Lord Sesshomaru, aka Sailor Moon, Pretty Boy, or Fancy Pants. Whichever you prefer. He's a Dog Demon. Jaken is some sort of Demon Toad servant, the kid is Rin, she's adopted." Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes at Stark then regarded Rhodey who did a spit take on his beer.

How uncouth.

"What? Tony what are you talking about? He doesn't even have horns. Where did he come from if not Asgard?! Please don't say hell." Rhodey recovered, wiping his face with his sleeve. Sesshomaru's ears lowered and he wrinkled his nose. What exactly was with humans and their obsession with horns and hell? He'd rather had the military officer flee or cower than assume he had them. What happened to his innate ability to strike fear into humans?

"Uh, more like when did he come from. He's complicated. He's one half of 'Sesshoki', the guy next to him." Stark announced and gestured to both Loki and Sesshomaru.

Loki, then magicked off his Japanese disguise, donned on his armor and waved with Rin in his lap.

Sesshomaru watched the blood drain from Rhodey's face as he realized who Loki really was. Even with his sense of smell muted, he could smell the fear and revulsion waft off him. Rhodey jumped from the table, spilling his beer and grabbing his firearm, pointing it at Loki in record time.

"Loki. Loki is here! On your balcony in New York!" Sesshomaru lowered his ears and cracked his knuckles. This clumsy, emotional human dare point that firearm at Loki with Rin in his lap, and his hand shaking the way it did? His finger shook on the trigger, the safety mechanism on the firearm had been switched unsafe.

"Ah yes, and what lovely weather we are having. Tell me is New York supposed to be this balmy in April?" Loki taunted musically. Sesshomaru fought the urge to roll his eyes. Rin merely giggled and Tony stood up, hands up as if he was the one the gun was pointed at.

"Wea…weather?! You. You want to talk about the weather?! Honestly, I'm surprised there isn't more thunder…" Rhodey jutted his head towards Thor who reared back, his gold hair glinting. "Or I don't know why my best friend here isn't making it hail bullets on your Asgardian ass." Rhodey's hand was still shaking, Sesshomaru kept his hearing on his muscles, in particular his heart rate. He took a sip of his wine.

"Rhodey, Just, hear us out. Things have gotten, well complicated. And you've known me forever, you know I've never had a knack for keeping things simple…" Stark started and his friend's hand twitched, as if angling to point the gun at Stark. If humans, even with ones with lifelong loyalty to an ally of Loki regarded him with such vitriol, there may not be much hope for the others.

Rhodes decided to ignore Stark and turned his attention back towards Loki.

"You sick, murderous, snake. If that girl wasn't in your…oh no, you've mind controlled everyone here! God, I have to…" It was then Thor to Sesshomaru's distant right and Clint stood up automatically.

"My brother has not bewitched us, he hasn't the—" Thor started.

"Thor, unless your next words are 'Mjolnir taze Loki' I don't want to hear it." Rhodey bit back, hand still shaking with rage.

"Rhodes, Rin's in his lap, you got way too much adrenaline in your system to risk a shot like that. And for the last time, my eyes aren't blue." Barton had begun to sweat, Sesshomaru could smell it.

"Barton, I've always liked you, but you know why I can't exactly trust you with something like this. And don't doubt my marksmanship." Sesshomaru's superior senses, honed solely on Rhodes, caught the twitch in his forearm muscle holding the firearm. In the instant before it would transfer to his hand he flicked his striped wrist and threw the stiletto with expert precision.

With a shrill, clanging shriek, the dart shot into the barrel of now useless firearm.

Rhodes yanked his arm back in reflex, Sesshomaru immediately felt the entire attention of the table shift his way. What an awful affair this was.

"You have ears and if you are Stark's comrade, most likely a brain between them. Use them human." Sesshomaru suggested mildly, he didn't particularly like Rhodes, he finally concluded. Loki's forehead wrinkled. Sesshomaru's right mind knew that Loki would not allow harm to befall Rin, however now he had a good excuse to rid himself of his growing frustrations.

Pause.

"Did you fashion that dart out of your fork?" Loki finally questioned. Sesshomaru nodded once.

"You know I liked this gun, Tony, but I have another." Rhodes protested and Stark finally closed his mouth.

"Yeah, he has a thing against silverware, it's probably a werewolf thing. Look, in all seriousness, Loki can't mind control me, remember? The Chitauri are coming back, Demons are real, and Loki, well, is on our side." Stark, ran a hand through his beard. Werewolf? By the Four Lands what is a werewolf?!

"Tony. This can't be right. Do you know what my superiors are going to say?! I have to call this in. I can't save you from this." Rhodey stammered and finally Lady Potts stood up, rushing to stand next to him.

"Rhodes, you need to take a deep breath. There is a lot you need to be filled in on, which is why we brought you here. Loki really isn't the enemy here. It's someone else." Lady Potts managed to deescalate Rhodes and he lowered his useless firearm and glared at Stark who now straightened his posture.

"I should have known there was a catch when you guys said you had fresh crabs from Charleston and that I just had to swing by. Nothing can ever be easy with you Tony. If I am not one hundred and fifty percent satisfied with this situation, we will send a tact team here Tony, and you'll be charged with harboring an enemy of the state. That's high treason, for all of you, well, maybe not the Werewolf Demon Lord." Rhodes pointed to the whole table, finger last on Sesshomaru who flared his youki on the floor again in warning.

'He is brazen enough to threaten the sovereignty and security of Stark's fortress, while inside it and he calls us treasonous? What means of hierarchy did this realm employ? I must refresh the proximity barrier with haste if this Rhodes means to send his forces here. If I am a guest in Stark's fortress I am honor-bound to defend it.' Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles, for the life of him he didn't understand why Stark did not resend his friend's invitation. He must truly value him.

"Yeah, yeah, I know put up or shut up. It's time for show and tell, here I'll have Jarvis show you everything in the order we saw it. Trust us, it'd win best picture." Stark's voice became faint as he and Lady Potts guided a reluctant Rhodes into a room.

"We're so going to have to play a darts game at some point Fancy Pants." Barton pointed. Sesshomaru wrinkled his nose. Play? This Sesshomaru did not play any human games. Well, aside from with Stark that is.

"We need to strategize on how to inform SHIELD about all of this." Romanoff wasted no time indeed.

"This will go well. Real well. Fury's vein was busting out of his forehead when he met the fake-Fancy Pants. Getting him to hear us out will be impossible now." Everyone thinks I'm brainwashed again!" Barton sat back down and put his elbows on the table miserably. Sesshomaru felt Loki's magic surge in what he interpreted as guilt and anger.

"Fury would have to at least take it into consideration! It's the planet we are talking about. He can't just ignore a threat like this. Especially after seeing what the Chitauri are really capable of." Rogers chipped in, countering with a valid enough point.

"You forget, he doesn't trust anything that those two have to say, and he already is dubious of Thor. He would have to see Loki, separate of Sesshomaru, to even entertain the idea they are separate people, and well, you know how that would end up." The Berserker pointed out. And Sesshomaru didn't quite follow.

"Somehow, we need to make him listen to us, make him get his head out of his ass and see the light… what Nat?" Barton suggested, straightening up from the table, face flushed in frustration and from Romanoff eyeing him.

"Let us extend an invite Man of Fury over for a banquet as well! This one has gone well thus far." Thor beamed from down the table, Sesshomaru saw Loki shift to face Thor better as if in agreement.

"Oh yes, aside from Colonel Rhodes almost shooting me with a mortal child in my lap." Loki drawled and Rin giggled and wiggled out of his lap.

"Get off it, like you'd let anything happen to the munchkin." Barton half-laughed and Sesshomaru was inclined to agree.

"...that's a solid tactic Thor. If we lure Fury here, we can insure he sees what we intend him to see from Jarvis' security logs." Romanoff agreed, her expression serious.

"I'd also particularly like to avoid going into SHIELD headquarters. I will need to come clean, even about the shape shifting, to facilitate even a modicum of trust." Loki confessed and Banner nodded. Barton leaned back, face studying Loki's.

"That could work, Tony's security measures can easily hold back Fury and whoever he brings with him, probably Hill and Coulson. If Fury agrees to look at the videos we have, they'll have to be on board." Rogers agreed, throwing a thumb back to the tower.

"What about Fancy Pants here? Wasn't the whole point of Loki shape shifting into him was that he was going to make Fury into abstract art?" Berserker gestured to him, while Sesshomaru understood his point, it simply didn't matter anymore. That particular morning felt like months ago. He could endure this human, or put him in his place. Sesshomaru took a deep breath.

Heads swiveled his direction.

"...Do as you wish." Sesshomaru finally said. Loki eyed him suspiciously, as did Barton.

"Guys, Fury doesn't even need to talk to Sesshomaru. We can just show him what Jarvis picked up, including our own reactions." Rogers reasoned, eating a forkful of the root vegetable dish Barton constructed.

'I would rather this whole ordeal take place without me present. I have objectives to take care of but as of late I am still insufficiently prepared. Not to mention the additional healing…' Sesshomaru's thoughts drifted, not particularly caring what they decided to do with this Fury, or this organization they worked for.

He will assist Loki and help protect him and his own pack. He will take down the Mad Titan to achieve the greatness he was destined for. The prestige and acclaim that only came with conquering the next more powerful threat, just like the Panther brothers. He will dispose of him, with the help of these humans or not.

"Son of Taisho, what do you think of this plan?! You have been unusually silent even for one of your disposition." Sesshomaru's caught wide involuntarily at the sight of Thor looking straight into his eyes and flashbacked to his scry.


 

His body lay bloodied, broken, and scorched while Storm God flickered over him. The thunderbolts arced in on him, condensing like a funnel into Mjolnir. Storm God flexed, his mouth twisted into a haughty, flashy smile once reserved only for Magatsuhi. He raised his meaty right hand high. With no sound but the static of electricity ringing in Sesshomaru's ears, the right hand came down.

Loki screamed "No".


 

"Thor's right again, you didn't even troll Tony at dinner." Romanoff studied him, swirling her human spirits. Sesshomaru shocked back into conversation. He couldn't let the humans know his mind clouded upon itself with foreboding thoughts.

"...if I were your commander I would want proof of the armada. By what scouting means does your realm possess?" Sesshomaru barely recognized his own voice and he knew he was drawing undue attention to himself. He would hate to address his own failure in his own scouting attempt.

The table fell silent.

"We have some space probes but those aren't instantaneous. Satellites are mostly too close to Earth...Rhodes may actually know better than we would." Berserker confessed, leaning forward, deep in thought. Sesshomaru had sussed out that the Berserker, when stable, was on par with Stark's intelligence.

"SHIELD has been trying and failing to produce anything viable for the past few years. It's been locked up in red tape. No country wants another to have more intel on an extra-terrestrial threat than another, so they can't agree on a neutral launch point of the probes. Regardless, the probes weren't even past the testing stages." Romanoff took a deep gulp of her human spirits, clearly this had been bothering her.

"Heimdall! You and Loki can ask Heimdall right?" Rogers directed at Thor.

"With the Bifrost damaged and Allfather's magic drained I can neither communicate nor return." Thor scratched his head and Sesshomaru heard Loki huff. The Storm God had indeed gotten more dense since in the past few centuries. At least he seemed to be. If his scry was any indicator he could be lulling him into believing he was less intelligent than he truly was.

"You dolt, how do you think I got here?! There are ways to travel besides the Bifrost, and I have been doing so for centuries. How do you think I snuck off to Midgard, or snuck Sesshomaru into Asgard?" Loki gestured to himself dramatically, taking off his armor in the process. Sesshomaru stiffened at the idea of Loki returning to the distant realm. He didn't need to voice his displeasure over such a place. While splendid, it was a carefully crafted illusion of a city, a façade.

The Aesir…Sesshomaru would never trust them. He didn't fully trust Thor. Now, after the scry, he didn't know if he could even trust Loki.

"Yeah, but isn't that, like a terribly bad idea for you to go back to Asgard?" Barton questioned, voice deep. Loki regarded him curiously.

'If only I was successful in scrying the Other, Loki and Thor would not have to go to such extremes.' Sesshomaru shifted uncomfortably, unaccustomed to failure.

"I will vouch for you brother! Besides once Heimdall reveals the fleet father will have to believe you!" Thor boomed and Loki chuckled darkly. Barton tensed his shoulders.

"You are far too naive Thor. Not even you can save me from Odin's wrath. But, it appears Sho and the ever patriotic Captain have a point. Heimdall would be the only one who can reveal the fleet. I can't wait to see the look on Odin's when I show up in his Throne room. It will be such a treat." Loki smirked cynically and took a deep sip from his red wine. Red liquid. The blood pool. Sesshomaru was thrown back into his previous scry.


 

The same darkness lorded over his senses, humid and perverse. It this time felt of smoke, smelled of thunder, and tasted like despair.

The same warm, viscous, red pool lapped at his bare feet, teasing him into it. He obliged and he waded out into its morbid expanse. Bakusaiga and Tenseiga were missing entirely from the splendor.

The metallic Demon blood this time whorled around him clockwise, creating a whirlpool. The hands of blood stirred it, the blood began to glow and Sesshomaru swore it chuckled somehow. He waded till the Demon blood hit chest-level and he kicked up once more.

"The Other." Sesshomaru's voice demanded, and echoed into the expanding, starless void. Each time his words reverberated it sounded less and less like his own and instead morphed into a murky, mocking caw.

Sesshomaru's body writhed and his head jerked back, jaw wide in a silent, shocked cry. The hands wrenched his left arm out, almost out of its socket. Sesshomaru let out a malicious hiss, but the hands with their red fingers burrowed deep into his wrist and shoulder like wires.

He attempted to slice and claw at the blood with his right hand, but it was a futile endeavor. His right hand remained unresponsive, as if half of his body was rendered inert in a hazy nightmare. Sesshomaru, helpless, bared his fangs as the tender skin of his left underarm was twisted upwards. The fingers grazed the soft skin knowingly.

Without warning, they lacerated a name into the soft skin of his underarm. The wires scrawled unevenly, jaggedly, and without hesitation.

The name glowed like a furnace. The Other. Before Sesshomaru could even register pain or recognition of what happened control of his arm was returned to him.

He, again, liquefied with the whirling blood. Only this time, the hands that gripped his hair wrenched his essence down headfirst. The hands punished the Demon for his insolence, how dare he demand anything of them?

He began to dissolve. The current surged strong and slow. The hands would show him what his arrogance would bring. The pool began to drip upwards once more.

Another human metropolis. This one massive with a river and a tower made of two pink spheres, the lower larger than the upper. Tall skyscrapers jutted out, some falling, most flaming. The writing was similar to what he knew in his time and the humans looked the same as well.

The city was under siege. Above it stalled a massive battleship, circular and pulsing its violet energy field across the grey sky. The city glowed faint purple which along with the fires and choking smoke painted the glass and concrete like a dingy sunset even though it was afternoon.

The humans screamed, their cars' sirens blared in feeble protest to the devastation currently bombarding it. Soldiers stood guard around the periphery, waiting.

Loki and Thor stood facing the rest of them, wicked grins on their faces and their eyes bright and cold. Behind them stood a blue figure holding a gold scepter.

Lightning danced all around Thor in an intensity Sesshomaru had never witnessed before. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Loki's magic branched across the sky, matching the otherworldly hue of the ultraviolet spaceship.

At Loki's hip, Tenseiga shook and cried. How did Loki come by Tenseiga!?

A corrosive, stinging pain lanced up his left arm. He couldn't move anything below his elbow. His hakama was tattered and armor shattered, his bloody arm underneath it hung mangled and raw, exposed bone jutted out the back of his gnarled hand.

He held the hilt of Bakusaiga in his right hand, her blade severed and broken. His left arm twitched every so often from faulty nerve endings. He registered unrelenting pain, forking across his body, coming mostly from his left arm and leg.

He couldn't seem to muster and youki to heal himself. What had happened here?! How could Bakusaiga have been broken?! How was his arm so damaged? How could he be so depleted of youki?

Familiar voices registered in his head. He stood. Wait since when had he been kneeling?! He scanned the ravaged street, it opened into a street that paralleled a river.

The Avengers were gathered in front of him in various tactical positions, all facing Thor and Loki who now had descended to ground level.

Were they fighting Loki and Thor? No. This surely had to be false.

Romanoff opened fire on Loki, yet the bullet deflected off a purple force field. Sesshomaru growled and ignored the pain in his left ankle to leap closer to the battle he had been obviously engaged in.

He subconsciously took a position next to Stark, whose suit was clearly damaged. He found himself still holding Bakusaiga. He remembered his daughter's childish, precocious face. If she shattered would that mean she had perished?

He flexed his good hand, summoning his toxin to coat what remained of Bakusaiga's blade. No she had to be alive. He simply had to make that fool Tototsai to reforge her.

"This planet, this world is ours, you careless mortals!" Sesshomaru turned his attention to Loki, who now looked right at him. It was then he noticed the small, green body in the rubble behind Loki.

Jaken.

He lived no more. His body being so close to the river, he had surely had taken on his true form at one point during the battle. His burnt body smelled of pine, Loki's magic. He died honorably, but the rage ate his lungs like a poison nonetheless. It was true. They were their enemies now.

He would not allow Loki to continue this rampage. This betrayal!

"You two have to snap out of it before it's too late!" Sesshomaru heard Barton's shrill shout and he fired a special arrow at Storm God whose lightning shot it out of the sky as if it were a feather. Storm God started to spin Mjolnir. Sesshomaru knew what was next.

A trident of lightning forked out and at the last moment he dropped Bakusaiga and summoned his whip of light, lassoing Barton's ankle, slinging him to the ground to avoid a lethal lightning blast.

The second bolt hit the Berserker, who grunted in response.

The third was aimed at Romanoff, but first to fall was Rogers.

Rogers successfully shielded the strike meant for the huntress. Yet, they had two opponents. Sesshomaru's whip was woefully out of range as Loki teleported next to Rogers.

It was no contest.

Loki's uru daggers impaled the blond human from behind. Sesshomaru cracked his knuckled as Loki twisted the daggers. With glee, his best friend gutted the human leader exposing his spinal cord and bent open ribs. The blood and intestines that spurted forth from bedclothes irked him.

Sesshomaru attempted to summon his youki, but his body was sluggish, how much blood had he lost?!

Romanoff, visibly horrified, a rarity, fired her guns, but it was all for naught. A bolt of lightning crooked down from the sky striking her and drove her limp body into a vehicle. She lay unnaturally slumped and motionless, blood pooled freely from her steaming body.

Sesshomaru eked out the last bit of strength and agility to tackle Stark in his damaged suit out of the way of a wounded Berserker as he charged Storm God. The face plate on his suit was damaged, he had a cut above his eye and his pupils were dilated in fear.

Stark feared a loss. Never. He would not allow these treacherous Aesir to defeat him. He was Sesshomaru, Lord of the West and would lose to no one. Not even the Princes of the distant realm. Sesshomaru, too stunned to deal with the impact of Loki's betrayal rebounded up, pulling Stark up with his one good arm, demanding his body straighten to his typically regal posture.

Storm God knocked the Berserker back and with a deafening boom. Sesshomaru zipped forward to intercept Loki but was thrown back by his magic and he found himself propelled back into a vehicle across the street. He heard Stark call his name, fear evident. Sesshomaru opened his eyes as a powerful projectile from the battleship hit the Berserker, leaving him in a crater, untransformed.

Sesshomaru heard the Berserker's heart. He still lived. He pried himself from the wreckage, determined. He would need the Berserker's help to distract the Storm God while he dealt with his former frie-

In that instant the blue figure hit the Berserker with a blast from the scepter. His body crumpled inwards, blackened and smoldering, pelvis bone visible. He didn't move again, the stench of burnt flesh stung his nostrils.

His heartbeat stopped in silence. Sesshomaru frowned deeply.

He could not rely on Stark and Barton alone to deal with Storm God. He needed Tenseiga, he had to retrieve him to revive the humans. However, Barton acted first.

He saw Barton unleash an arrow which hit Loki dead on in the center of his chest. Loki ripped it out and drew back his arm to throw his dagger. Sesshomaru leapt towards Loki.

However, Loki hesitated throwing the dagger and Stark hit him with youki enhanced energy blasts from his suit, sparks flew from his right hand. Loki was sent soaring back. Yes. Vulnerable. He could retrieve Tenseiga, he braced himself and sprinted forward only to see a familiar black head of hair slumped against a fallen rubbish bin next to Storm God.

Rin.

Storm God picked her up. She lived. Her heartbeat could be heard.

He growled deeply and blood flooded his sight and his markings ran jagged and long. How dare he hold her?! He changed direction; Rin's safety remained paramount.

Storm God, eyes cold as ice, then threw Mjolnir. Sesshomaru effortlessly dodged the hammer.

But the attack was not meant for him, he had merely been in the line of sight of Barton. The uru hammer punched Barton directly in the gut. His body caved in on itself in midair, spine powdered, bow forgotten.

He, like Romanoff, had little chance as his splintered body slapped the ground like a wet animal skin.

Sesshomaru fought his transformation with all he was worth as he charged Storm God with his claws filled with toxin.

How dare they? How could they do this? Loki brought him here! Loki told him to save this realm, to harken to these humans and he just killed their leader! He allowed his brother to kill the Berserker, Romanoff, and his intended mate!

"Sesshomaru fall back, you're too badly hurt!" He heard Stark, but no. He would not and was not. He dodged the predictable return of Storm God's hammer and redoubled his efforts. He was a Demon Lord; he was greater than these Aesir. He was the pinnacle of majesty, the elite. He would reclaim his oldest daughter from the clutches of this Storm God and split open his chest, pull out his heart and force feed it to Loki for their betrayal and dishonor.

He would then revive the humans with Tenseiga, force Loki to return him to his realm, reforge his youngest daughter, and return to slaughter the Mad Titan, then Loki in front of his own King, then the King of the distant realm.

He connected with Storm God's shoulder, flesh tearing under his toxic talons and with his last dredges of youki he fought him. He would not allow him to kill Stark, nor Rin. He was after all, used to fighting with one hand.

Storm God grimaced and Sesshomaru dodged his thunderbolts that rained down like spears. He struck again, but only met his armor. He had to make him drop his hold on Rin. He summoned his toxin whip.

It was then he realized he had left Stark to fight Loki one on one. An unbelievably ghastly oversight on his part. He took the sky for a vantage point and scanned the area.

Sesshomaru's blood ran cold.

Sesshomaru, Lord of the Western Lands, the most powerful demon of the Feudal Era, was too little too late.

He barely twisted out of the way in time of Storm God's punch to see Loki's twin daggers tear through Stark's suit and almost rip him completely in two. Sparks, blood, and entrails showered down as the blue light in the chest of the suit went dim. He could not see Stark's face but he heard his strangled scream.

Sesshomaru heard Stark's heart stop, and his own thudded unevenly in his swollen throat.

He failed him.

He failed the one being who made his blood boil in more ways than one. Sesshomaru's blood ran cold and his jaw dropped. What use was his power if he couldn't save the only one who….

Sesshomaru roared. In a blast of scarlet youki he transformed into his grand true form, all white fur, toxic saliva and keen fangs. In a flash he reared back and charged Storm God biting down and tearing open his side. A guttural yell belted from Storm God as a reward, he dropped Rin harmlessly to the ground. Rin stirred, raising her head to look at him. Panic made her eyes water, already red from previous tears. He managed a small, reassuring smile, knowing even in his true form Rin would see it.

It was his chance.

He had to focus, just like he had done in his first fight for Tessaiga against Inuyasha. He pooled his mental reserves into an ability he rarely utilized: telekinesis. He used it once to pommel that idiot priestess Kagome with skulls once.

He levitated Rin, and quickly and with his renowned control, softly tossed her to a crowd of military personnel and healers. One human took her away, and while Loki saw where Rin went, he did not pursue her.

Instead, Loki sharply turned and unleashed his purpled black magic. Great magic chains ensnared his four paws, including the damaged one. A thick, searing noose gripped his neck, strangling his larynx, just like the leashes he had seen. In his bloodlust he heard a familiar hum. Tenseiga.

Hope. There was hope. Tenseiga. He transformed back to his humanoid form right as Mjolnir struck him from behind, his spine fracturing from the surprise blunt force. Pain fanned out as torment across his body and he fell forward, his hair silver, clumped and crimson falling around him.

His knees bit into the graveled asphalt. He now knelt before Loki. Tenseiga hummed and thrashed, so close yet so far away from his battered right hand. Loki's black magic once again held his right wrist and his neck in place. Loki didn't even bother with the left wrist. The bindings blistered and burned his striped wrist and his neck. His markings had turned crimson long ago it seemed.

The magic snares savagely zapped all his remaining youki, as he glared up, red-eyed at Storm God who hovered above him, fangs bared. His voice, stretched and worn, yelled.

"Loki! Storm God! I'll show you both no mercy!" Sesshomaru struggled to gather himself, any remaining strength to fuel his fury. It was foolish to not restrict his shredded left arm. With everything he had, he summoned his whip from his gnawed down fingers and swung his left arm from the shoulder, using his whole arm like a whip he hit Loki in the chest. The magic faltered. He lunged for Tenseiga as he flung his arm back to hit Storm God in the adams apple with the green toxic band.

Right before his fingers grazed Tenseiga he was cannoned off course by a burst of blue magic. He forgot about the blue figure. He struck the pavement and skidded facing up, his chest oozing blood slowly.

He had seen smoking skies before, but never before had he felt so small beneath them.

The blue figure spoke came into view, a woman. Her black eyes glistened in victory.

"Nice work. Terra will be yours, once you and the Aesir fulfill one last mission for me." Sesshomaru struggled as then he watched Storm God turn to Loki. What was this devilry? This was all a farce to rule this realm?! Loki vowed. He took an oath. He had been deceived by the God of Lies. Loki stood stock still, magic restraints weren't needed, Sesshomaru had nothing left.

His heart thudded in his throat, he would not die lying on the ground. He abhorred lying about. He sluggishly made his way to a twisted seated position on the broken road.

"My destiny is now complete! Any last words, Dog Demon?" Loki spoke, voice cold like the breeze from the Northern Lands during winter.

He had no more words for either of them. They were not worth it.

Loki magicked his spear and raised it high, and Sesshomaru glared at him dead in the eye the entire time as the spear knifed towards him.

No underworld could contain him. He would avenge all of them.

The glinting spear stopped short. Loki's hesitation trembled the spear in his bloody hand and his widened his eyes in shock. Loki opened his mouth to speak.

Tenseiga was vehemently pulsing his light blue aura, but he was soon blinded by a barbed arc of white light.

He felt the lightning strike, yet didn't at the same time. The next thing he knew he was on his back smelling the stench of his own blackened flesh and singed hair. Paralyzed, he could only look up at the God of Storms with a mouth full of metallic blood.

Jaken had been right, this realm had doomed them all.

His body lay bloodied, broken, and scorched while Storm God flickered over him. The thunderbolts arced in on him, condensing like a funnel into Mjolnir. Storm God flexed, his mouth twisted into a haughty, flashy smile once reserved only for Magatsuhi. He raised his meaty right hand high. With no sound but the static of electricity ringing in Sesshomaru's ears, the right hand came down.

Loki screamed "No".

He thought of Rin's smile, Stark's touch, Jaken's outbursts, Ah Un's snorting. He never did fulfill his promise to Rin to reunite her and Ah Un, did he?

And with a fisting, crack of lightning Mjolnir cracked down upon his skull, splitting it wide open, pulping it.


"Sesshomaru, what in the Nines is wrong?!" Loki was holding his shoulders. While he did scry something, Bakusaiga had been right, he had not been successful in his intended purpose. Unless that blue figure had been the Other. He did not think so. All the doubt and distrust he quelled earlier in the day rushed back to the forefront of his mind.

Loki wouldn't betray him, it couldn't happen. Yet, if he truly thought that, then why had he avoided Loki today? Sesshomaru's gut churned in doubt. He sliced a glance over the whole table, landing on Thor. Thor outsmarting him and double crossing him? It seemed laughably unlikely. Thor, while of average intelligence, was mostly honorable and nauseatingly loyal.

Yet, he did allow his precious little brother to be tortured for three human years in the distant realm under the rule of his prideful King…Could what he scryed be a warning, that the distant realm was plotting something? 

Those questions had been tearing him apart for a good portion of the day. What he witnessed, the future, seemed far too real to written off as mere fantasy. He pursed his lips into a thin line.

"It is of no concern." Sesshomaru heard himself respond, his voice sounding thin and quiet. Stark had not returned, he continued to stare straight ahead, not meeting Loki's nor Barton's gaze. Sesshomaru almost wished Stark he was here to distract with his babblings; however, he'd be just as curious.

"...you did, didn't you? You did! You scryed this morn!" Loki leaned back, hands leaving his shoulders. Loki surveyed him, dismayed and irate. Loki's magic sparked black next to him and Barton lean forward, trying to get Loki's attention.

"What?! You did another tornado thing?" Rogers dropped the straw he was twirling.

"No. I have sense practiced with Bakusaiga, she will not act that way again." Sesshomaru finally caught the gaze of Loki who steamed with magic. This was exactly what Sesshomaru wanted to avoid. He didn't want everyone's attention on him, including Rin and Jaken with assorted emotions, most being confusion.

"Son of Taisho what did you far-see?!" Thor indeed sounded serious this time, he didn't quite blame him but knew he couldn't tell him anything. What was he to say? Oh, that he had a premonition and saw him kill most of these humans, and himself?

The thought of being killed by an Aesir still left a bad taste in his mouth, how inglorious.

"You've been tense all day. Keeping it all in doesn't work, I'm speaking from experience. You can tell us, maybe we can help." The Berserker supplemented. Since when did these humans think they could read him so?

'The insatiable curiosity of these humans frustrate me.' Sesshomaru straightened his posture.

'It should not matter if I told them who I attempted to scry.' Sesshomaru turned to Loki who looked as if he wanted to pry the words forcibly from his mouth. He sighed through his nose, the humans and Loki were gratingly persistent and he'd rather tell them now, while Stark was gone.

"...The Other. It failed. Instead this Sesshomaru had a premonition of the future." Sesshomaru's lips thinned and he felt an explosion of magic to his left.

Loki was on his feet, obsidian magic spiking erratically. If he kept it up his fading proximity barrier would not be able to block his magic signature. Sesshomaru couldn't allow that to happen; he stood facing him.

"You absolutely reckless dog! You cannot attempt to scry such a powerful sorcerer! You know nothing about him and are too inexperienced! If he reflected the scry back at you, you should have been killed! Also, it typically takes hundreds of years to learn how to even scry the future What did you even see?!" Loki spat each word hurriedly, every bit as angry as Sesshomaru expected him to be. He had to be placated.

Sesshomaru narrowed his gaze and flashed his youki back, though weakened it was absorbed by Loki's aggressive magic.

'How unseemly. How dare Loki imply some sorcerer could defeat this Sesshomaru with his own technique?' Sesshomaru forced himself to forget how when he took his shower, his eyes widened in shock at the Other's name carved into his left arm. He had to use a great amount of youki to heal it.

"Hey, Loki you're getting magic in the potato salad, maybe turn it down a notch?" Barton was standing. Everyone was standing. What a scene.

"No. We deserve to know what's gotten Pretty Boy in such a funk over the future. If he saw something important about the invasion we need to know. " Romanoff clipped.

"Natasha is right." Rogers nodded and the Berserker huffed in response, as if not quite agreeing with his leader.

"Why did you attempt to scry him? What possessed you to attempt such a feat?!" Loki practically screeched, ignoring the other conversations happening simultaneously. Sesshomaru pooled toxin under his talons. How could Loki not know why he wanted to scry him?

"I did so because his actions incensed this Sesshomaru and I wished to gain detailed knowledge of his current position." Sesshomaru's voice engulfed the table with palpable malice, his youki flushed out his hands, red and shimmering.

Loki retreated, shoulders slumping in comprehension. His magic fading, both his red youki and Loki's black magic faded to a purple dust. The others around the table followed suit, leaning back.

"Sho, what did you see?" Loki pled, eyes now brimming with green magic. Sesshomaru out of his periphery saw Barton move around the table to Loki's side.

"Do not feel compelled to explain yourself to these humans and Gods! What you see is your own Lord Sesshomaru!" Jaken insisted. Sesshomaru agreed, however he doubted the humans would allow him any peace until they received a suitable answer.

'How irritating, Why do they care so much?' Sesshomaru's ears flattened and he cracked his knuckles. He strategized for the right approach. He would just have to tell them a portion of what he saw to the badgering humans. He would rather do it when Stark remained absent, he could be unerringly insightful and may conclude that he did not divulge the whole truth.

"Rin do not listen." Rin nodded nervously and put her fingers in her ears and hummed.

They all waited for him to struggle with the right words. Sesshomaru eventually found them.

"... I foresaw my own demise." Sesshomaru knew by saying that it should quell any more badgering by the humans. Loki was just now gaining their trust, and how could he explain Thor's betrayal? No one wants to hear their own end, especially ones as gruesome as the ones he foresaw. Especially by their own friends, he knew how that felt.

Was it his fate for everyone close to him to betray him? When he returned to his own realm, would Inuyasha eventually do so? Jaken? Rin?

Loki's magic ceased immediately. Everyone exhaled and shuffled he heard murmurs. He tapped Rin to indicate she could listen once more

"Oh, only that. Uplifting." Clint muttered under his breath, still standing next to Loki.

"'Sho...that's not supposed to be possible. A seer cannot scry their own destiny." Loki said softly, eyes blank and Sesshomaru didn't have an answer for him, except he didn't just see the future, he was in it. He felt the pain, tasted the blood, heard Stark's scream. Sesshomaru wished to change the conversation back to the matter at hand.

"Lord Sesshomaru, you can't possibily be serio-" he gave a look to silence Jaken.

"Uncle Loki, can I go to the distant realm with you and Storm God?! I want to see your castle, and draw it for Lord Sesshomaru." Sesshomaru instantly set his jaw. To permit Rin to accompany Loki and Thor to the distant realm? When clearly in the future they had betrayed him? No, this was unacceptable. He wouldn't allow it.

"…of course Lady Rin! It would be an honor to show you Asgard. I am sure Mother and Allfather will warm to you instantly! Even Hogun will soften to you!" Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles. That Storm God! How dare he speak such things about Rin going to the distant realm! As if he could trust….then Sesshomaru saw the happy, excited look in Rin's eyes.

If he prohibited Rin from going with them, it would seem suspicious. Not only would it show that he didn't trust Loki or Thor, but it would also show that he didn't trust the distant realm either. He didn't want to get into an argument with Thor over his gaudy homeland ruled by their arrogant King.

"Can I go Lord Sesshomaru?! Please!" Rin smiled, Loki behind her was still pale with shock.

Pause. The whole table, aside from Thor, had trouble going back to the previous conversation.

"You may Rin. Behave and do not leave Loki's side." Sesshomaru relented and Rin hopped in glee. He thought about ordering Jaken to go with her, but he too would dislike the distant realm and surely get into some altercation. Sesshomaru had no wish to return to the distant realm, and knew that once there it would probably end with him fighting the half-blind Odin. He'd rather not depose a King, no matter how useless he was.

"That could work. Children heighten the emotional vulnerability of potentially hostile forces. Taking Rin with you to Asgard may help you in getting through to your father." Romanoff stated clinically, like she was reading a list of items.

"Odin is certainly not my father." Loki turned to Sesshomaru, assessing him. "We will speak more of your scrying, what you are doing is reckless and dangerous. We need to know more about what you saw." Loki insisted and Sesshomaru internally growled. He was correct about Loki's nagging.

"Yeah, what happened? Was it the Mad Titan, Thanos?" Rogers, good naturedly, but concerned asked and out of the corner of his eye he saw the Berserker hit him with a napkin. Rogers, reproached flung out his hands. Sesshomaru did not want to be the cause of an argument between the humans.

"I doubt he wants to discuss it in committee, Steve." Barton snapped, Sesshomaru swiveled his head towards the archer. He had not expected him to come his defense after his ruse with him and Loki.

"Son of Taisho, whatever you scryed do not fret, it must be untrue! You are a most powerful and capable warrior, one of the best I have ever fought beside." Thor lifted his chin and Sesshomaru's ears flicked up. Ironic words coming from his executioner. Sesshomaru narrowed his gaze suspiciously, was Thor playing dumb and coy with him? Did Thor secretly want nothing more than to end him? Was he capable of such underhanded tactics?

"Indeed." Sesshomaru muttered back. He had no idea what to do, for once. Should he trust Loki and Thor, or trust his abilities? Doubt his only friend, or doubt himself? Doubt both Loki and himself?

He heard the voices around the table begin to muddle and merge. He had to get out. He couldn't stay. His ears flattened and his knuckles cracked.

"...I must recharge the proximity barrier. I will return shortly. Rin stay with Jaken and behave." Sesshomaru refused to field any more questions, or be the target of any more attention.

And with a nod from Rin he leapt off the balcony, sans Tenseiga and Bakusaiga, still in his new human clothes, towards the center of the city where he placed the previous barrier's center.

'I am merely recharging the barrier. This Sesshomaru never runs.' Sesshomaru reached full speed, hair streaming behind him, aviators somehow staying on his head. His ears up, listening for the wind. He still couldn't hear her comforting voice murmur his name.

'Kagura...What should this Sesshomaru do?' He asked, even though he knew he would get no answer from the Wind Demoness he secretly still missed.

Chapter Text

Tony and the New Hope

*(*

Tony a kick ass, shoot to thrill day. He and Bruce began to make Sesshomaru's toxin weapon viable. They had actually managed to successfully separate the compound, and produced two separate toxins. Tony wanted to name them Venom and Carnage but Bruce told him those were already taken.

It worked out; he thought of two even better ones.

He named the first toxin, which produced the potent neurotoxic effects in organic matter: Cerberus, and the hyper corrosive acid for inorganic matter: Sirius. Tony loved a good name, and he certainly thought Sesshomaru would appreciate the nod to the whole Dog Demon thing.

He was a naming genius. Mastermind. Savant.

Well…assuming that the beautiful time-travelling Demon Lord knew Greek mythology, and astronomy… Well, shit he could always just explain it. He had a lot of experience in one on one tutoring, especially when mixed with the subject of anatomy. MIT gave him a lot of opportunities to 'practice'.

It wasn't like Sailor Moon lacked in the intellect nor anatomical department either.

Speaking of that, he couldn't wait to show the pompous canine what he managed to chemically engineer once they were complete. It would totally blow his mind.

And they would make him think twice about studying documents on his own, and choosing to open up to Capsicle, of all people, about his brother who got pinned to a tree. Not that he was still sore by that. Tony made others sore, not the other way around.

Sometimes the looks he'd get from Bruce would make him want to reinforce that point.

He and Bruce now were in the testing stages for each toxin, trying to increase the potency of Cerberus and Sirius. So far, they had succeeded in making each marginally stronger separate than when they were together. They hoped to improve the results by the end of the week.

But, that wasn't even close to being the best part of his day.

In addition to the toxins, the youki sample Sesshomaru gave him produced a rather unpredictable result with his current suit, the Mark XLVI. The Mark XLVI suit was his forty-sixth suit that he had created in a ravenous panic of an anxiety induced workaholic binge.

He likened his binge creation period to Picasso's blue period. Pepper did always love curating that fine art gallery. Unlike, or who knows maybe like, Picasso's period his was punctuated with many a fine bottle of scotch.

Ultimately, and unsurprisingly to Rhodey, that was the cause of the demise of his relationship with Pepper. Or whatever loose definition of the term 'relationship' any healthy human being would claim he had with her.

He should have really never attempted a romantic relationship with Pepper in the first place. He knew, deep down, it was a mistake. She didn't deserve a work-obsessed 'does-not-play-well-with-others' piping hot mess like himself. Really. But Tony had never claimed to be anything but selfish. He wanted it all, at his speed, on his terms.

'Capsicle was right, though I'd obviously never admit that out loud. Even when I carried the tactical nuclear warhead into space, I was being somewhat selfish.' Tony suddenly just then became the target of a 'What's wrong with you now? You should be happy' look from Pepper and he waved it off with a flick of his drink and a grin as Happy helped her into the car, Rhodey next to her.

He managed a warmer look than usual and Rhodey just put his head in his hands as the car door shut and the Bentley pulled away. He slipped back into his thoughts.

Though, his instincts at the time did tell him that perhaps letting 'the city that never sleeps, which also houses the genius that rarely does' get glassed was a horrifically bad idea, that wasn't what made him commit.

'I didn't save New York only for the ten million strangers that live here. I didn't save it knowing that the United States couldn't handle the beacon of their country being sent to the bronze era. I saved it for Pepper, for Rhodes, for me, and yes, partly for the other Avengers, specifically Bruce and Natasha. It's my home.' Tony turned on his heel and made his way back up to the penthouse of the tower, oblivious of Sesshomaru leaping away as a white blur above.

He saved New York because deep down, it was in his own best interests to do so. His lungs stung like he actually inhaled cigar smoke whenever someone called him a hero. Ugh. Hero. What was this, a comic book?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, he had the argument with Steve about the laying down on a wire for someone, and instead clipping it on the helicarrier. He hadn't changed that mentality. Because truthfully, he had held on to the fantastical belief that his suit would have held out better. He was Tony Stark and it was his finest suit.

But it hadn't.

And that void. That gaping, horrifying mouth that swallowed him only to vomit him out like a bad night of drinking haunted him. If he had to do everything again, he would have done it probably exactly the same. Probably. Maybe he could have figured out an alternative…but if he couldn't he would have done the same thing. Except without his well-honed cocksure belief that of course he would turn out alright.

Because while he survived the improbable, coming out 'alright' was certainly a relative term.

If he thought that coming back from Afghanistan, Obie betraying him, or his own previous brush with death in Monaco would be the worst his warped psyche would endure he was mistaken.

His mind slipped closer to the edge of a tangle of PTSD breakdowns. The silent void of space, the choked voice of JARVIS, the warmth of the missile, the sight of that looming armada just overwhelmed him. It was too much. His chest dense as lead, the shortness of breath towards his end made him want an escape, stability, a solace. He found his escape in drinking, his stability in tinkering, and his solace in Pepper.

Tony, by nature, distrusted and hated self-reflection. However, whenever he saw his suits, it sprouted it in him. His suits reflected his mentality at the time he made them.

'I had a reason why the Mark XLVI had more dark-red panneling, why it had more menacing lines. Beefier armor. Sleek is out, security is in. Defense is always the best offense. Defense wins games. It should also get the point across that I'm not the hero people sometimes laud me to be. Super heroes trend towards all those showy, gaudy golds, silvers, blues, hot-rod red. I'm just not one, I'm just trying to protect who matters the most to me.' Tony took another deep sip of his second gin tonic.

Tony couldn't, at first, figure out why exactly he hadn't relapsed with a panic attack when his magic signature detector pinged in New Mexico. He had even been sleeping more than two hours a night! He figured if anything would trigger one it would be Loki showing up with another promise of extra-terrestrial Armageddon.

It took him putting on the Mark XLVI today for it all to piece together.

He put on the suit in his lab to test if he could potentially add Cerberus or Sirius to the repulsors. He knew he could easily weaponize them both to cartridges and arrows.

What he didn't expect was the youki that raced up his arm and into his arc reactor earlier that morning actually had harmonized with the arc reactor and subsequently incorporated itself into the suit.

Him. Tony Stark harmonizing with something that wasn't a single malt or a computer system. His rebellious arc reactor was resonating with Sailor Moon's Demonic energy. Facinating and at the same time, a bit terrifying.

The youki pulsed and tingled in his chest and through his suit all the way to his toes. Tingled somewhere else too. Tony pushed that sensation reluctantly out of his mind. It was official, the Demon Lord was mayhem.

He wasn't just attracted to Sesshomaru aesthetically, his arc reactor and the Demon Lord's youki had started to integrate! Christ, how did this go unnoticed?!

Or maybe noticed and he just brushed it off?

Bruce just laughed at him. Ass.

Jarvis naturally ran a diagnostic, Bruce grinning on the edge of his seat. Jarvis reported back that the positively charged ions in the youki, similar to an electrical storm, caused the surge in power, but the long wavelengths caused it to stabilize. It acted just like how he thought the youki would when he analyzed it aweek ago.

This had been going on gradually since Sailor Moon arrived, the outfit just jumpstarted it.

His suit had off the chart power readings, almost exactly like when Point Break struck him with lightning way back when. Only this was a lot more stable, and… somehow controllable. But that made sense… lightning produced positively charged ions… Sailor Moon's youki was positively charged.

Tony then decided to conduct a delicate, highly sensitive test of his new found power.

He shot a test dummy. And damn it was a sight.

Which, while rewarding watching his repulsors light up red and hit at approximately 331% percentage of power, it only ended up in getting his entire lab foamed by Dum-e who he brought from Malibu. Again. So. Once was enough. Bruce wasn't impressed with his impulse control issues. Like he could talk. He once leveled Harlem.

But seriously, what did Bruce expect? It's like having an Audi R8 and expecting him to want go to the speed limit. Or having a dangerously sexy Demon Lord living in his tower and expecting him not to want to jump his bones.

In fact, now he had an excuse for being attracted to the Demon Lord. It literally wasn't even his fault, his mentality, or anything deep seeded like that. The arc reactor, the crowned jewel of his inventions, which Sesshomaru actually called a jewel once, went rogue. He could be vindicated of any personal responsibility of his raunchy dreams, desires and callings towards the calm, silver haired Demon who only smiled for him. Well, and Rin.

Absolved completely. Not his fault at all. He was being manipulated by his own invention. It's totally not his fault that he mentally inventoried his shirtless pointy-eared body deep into his 'spank bank' archive. The arc reactor was to blame that he worked overtime to get the com'rin'acator working just to get a positive reaction.

Yeah. His smile, that was the best part of his day. But it wasn't his fault it was.

Tony even punched the air in victory when his translator invention worked well enough. He may even be able to mass produce them if he managed to get the kinks worked out. Or, you know, if they managed to stave off world domination from a psychotic warlord who already tortured a powerful Demigod he knew well.

Dour thoughts be damned. He still glowed with excitement about the second small smile he got from the normally stoic Demon Lord when Rin could understand what Bruce said.

'I can see why he doesn't smile much. They could stop New York City traffic, maybe even a Chitauri invasion.' Tony chuckled.

'I just wished he had been more talkative at dinner. He looked bored or distracted or both, he didn't even say anything snarky about me listing all his nicknames when introducing him to Rhodey. Thought for sure that was worth some retort!' Tony rubbed his beard as he exited the elevator. Maybe he should have made him play the question game again, but he didn't want to have to explain Sesshomaru and Loki until Rhodey got a beer or two in him and full.

Though his 'son of a bitch' comment sure didn't help. The sulky Demon took what he said about the Chitauri personally. He needed to just loosen up. Of course he'd take what he said the complete wrong way. Again.

Not that Tony cared if he offended him, he had offended probably thousands of people and remorse never spiked in his chest. It was Sesshomaru's fault he was so offended. Tony responding the way he did to Loki had to be because of youki in his arc reactor. Yet, why did he feel a needle of remorse?

'Not because I cared that the hard glare he shot my way also had a hint of incredulity embedded in it. Like I could possibly see the only person on the planet who could intrigue me this thoroughly on the same level as those backwater space hicks.' Tony undid the top button on his charcoal grey button up, feeling a bit hot.

The same backwater space hicks who Rhodey who got his American flag boxers in a knot about.

The grand reveal, which of course Loki went full diva for, ended up ultimately better than Tony thought it would. No one was dead, his tower still stood, and most importantly there wasn't a tact squad outside from a government he didn't trust in the slightest trying to detain him.

Tony would have bet his vintage Shelby Cobra that Rhodey would shoot actually shoot Loki. He was glad he learned his lesson and didn't actually take Natasha up on that bet. Though the only reason Rhodey didn't may have been mostly due to Rin sitting in his lap like she was listening to Santa Claus. It had come as quite a surprise to him that she referred to Loki as 'Uncle'.

Definitely the 'black-sheep-of-the-family' uncle.

Sesshomaru's impersonation of Legolas throwing what was left of his fork into Rhodey's gun like a ninja made him almost choke on his own tongue.

Despite that Sailor Moon didn't look like Rhodey's biggest fan, he couldn't help but feel a warm, stout smugness at Sesshomaru's indirect compliment of his intelligence, 'You have ears and if you are Stark's comrade, most likely a brain between them…' made his heart skid to a brief stop.

So he did think he was a genius. Not that it was ever in doubt but it was always good to be praised. Especially from someone who doled out praise like Fury doled out foot rubs. He couldn't acknowledge it at the time though, he had to show Rhodey the video of Loki turning into a Christmas tree and their spar. Rhodey wasn't too thrilled about the situation. Neither was he. But, deep down, they did both fear another attack ever since he slipped through the portal.

Fury was right about one thing, even though Thor and the rest of Asgard wanted peace with Earth, it didn't mean that other dimensions and civilizations did.

Rhodey was so shocked he left his jammed Beretta behind when he left with Pepper. He couldn't blame him for that. Rhodey probably didn't want a reminder of this night while he processed that the worse was yet to come. Tony, however, brimmed with confidence. The Avengers were united, they had time, they had a secret weapon, he had a brand new suit, and they had inside knowledge. They'd be ready.

Tony downed his drink with a solid clink on the bartop and with confidence and optimism fueling his stride he swept out for an update on 'Operation: Seduce Fury'.

Though when Tony walked back into the dinner party the atmosphere was grim. What?

"Hey, who died in here? Didn't know I so integral to the party." Tony asked and received a smattering of glares, coughs and awkward as hell glances. 'Don't tell me someone actually died, I leave for like, a half hour and the party crashes. Just like MIT.' Tony scanned the crowd.

Sesshomaru was missing, Loki looked like he just got tossed by the Hulk, Clint stood beside Loki but faced away from everyone else. Nat was furiously typing something in her phone and Thor appeared to actually be thinking about something.

Steve looked like someone kicked his dog. Jaken was also letting Rin poke him with a fork.

'Shit. What did I miss here? I leave these guys for like ten minutes…' Tony began to make his way to the table, picking up a grape and popping it into his mouth casually.

"Um. Tony, well...good news is we got a pretty good plan for Fury. Loki, Thor, Natasha, and Rin are going to Asgard to talk to Heimdall about the location of the invading fleet. We decided bringing Fury here to inform him of what's going on is a good plan. Maybe we should get more crabs…" Bruce cleared his throat, obviously masking something.

"Good. Love home court advantage. Taking the crowned 'Miss Spy Universe', and Little Miss Sunshine will help grumpy Allfather hopefully not try to lock up Bambi again. Operation: Seduce Fury sounds underway, what's the bad news? This sounds pretty solid." Tony rambled, vying for any sort of positive reaction, also trying to not crane his neck too obviously for the missing Demon Lord.

Jaken slapped his hands over Rin's ears.

"Lord Sesshomaru scryed his own demise and you filthy humans and troublesome Gods barged into business that was not your own! Even that Mischief God's magic went haywire forcing him recharge the proximity barrier! I knew coming to this realm would be the end of us all!" Jaken's youki raised as he ranted. He then released Rin's ears and she looked around.

'So that's why my Bambi finder doesn't work, and why Fury can't find him either! Sailor Moon has been hiding him this whole time. And he didn't even tell me!' Tony's mind whirred, he had to get his own proximity barrier up, but then he realized he had other things to deal with first. Like a missing, high-maintenance, Demon Lord.

No wonder Sailor Moon left the party early, obviously it got to be a bit TMI.

'That's...a lot to digest. No wonder he was in such a broody mood.' Tony's lungs tightened. 'He probably didn't see himself dying of old age in Boca Raton wearing a tacky hawaiian shirt and sperry boat shoes either.' Tony put his hand to his temple.

"He did that scry thing again?! I mean Christ, And you let him just take off? You are all really classy. Stay put, I'll go bring Lassie back. Jarvis get my suit ready." Tony heard someone say something but he didn't really care, he headed out to the balcony like a man on fire and when his suit assembled he was in the air. He couldn't let Sesshomaru go all sulky and alone.

Where was the fun in that?

He wasted no time in activating his youki locator, though it was soon to be unnecessary. He then saw a flash of shimmering blue youki high in the air, the proximity barrier. He put his thrusters on full and headed to the epicenter of the glittering blue youki snowing down: The Chrysler Building.

"Sir he appears to be sitting on the antennae." Tony nodded and flew out, it didn't take him long to spot the silver hair whipping in the air. He looked small wearing human clothes, without his swords perched this high up. He stared out at the Hudson with perfect posture, pursing his lips tensely like a human would.

It was then Tony noticed that Sesshomaru hadn't noticed his approach. He was wearing headphones, probably not listening to AC/DC.

Tony swooped out in front to catch his attention, and to hack his i-pod to play 'Shoot to Thrill'. That fixed that.

'And put your hand out to me, cause I'm the one who's gonna make you burn. I'm gonna take you down.'  It was worth seeing the shocked look on Sailor Moon's face. Shocked of course, on Sesshomaru meant his eyes widened slightly.

"Hey, Sailor Moon, it's poor form to leave a frat party before they play Journey, or Semisonic's, Closing Time." Tony swung out to face him, his gaze neutral, but distant. He didn't respond at all to his joke, not even an ear twitch or a blink. The only thing that moved was his hair, thrashing out in all directions, catching all the fading sunlight like a candle flame.

He simply took the earbuds out of his ears. His ears pointed low on his head.

"Want company?" Tony offered and Sesshomaru didn't respond except with a flick of a gaze to his left. Probably Sesshomaru for 'sure knock yourself out.' He took as one anyway and sat next to him on the surprising thick antenna pole. He flipped up his face shield.

Sesshomaru's mouth remained a thin line on his face and Tony felt he had plunged truly out of his depth.

No one said anything for a while.

"So, I gotta say, if you keep running away from home I'm gonna have to give you a name tag and write my address on it. Maybe microchip you or something." Tony attempted humor, Sesshomaru unfazed, pointed up with his left hand.

Tony, however, didn't fixate on the long, clawed finger nor the direction it pointed in, but his wrist. The dark magenta stripes that slashed across the thin column of ivory smooth skin called to him.

He resisted the ravenous urge to grab it again just barely.

"I needed to recharge my proximity barrier to continue blocking Loki's magic from being detected, and in case… Rhodey decided to lead an assault on your fortress." Sesshomaru sighed, a real sigh. Tony rocked back, for all his hijinks to get Sesshomaru to emote, he really didn't like it when he did it like this.

He sounded almost defeated. But it did amuse Tony that Sesshomaru thought 'Rhodey' was Rhodes' real name.

"Ok, well you don't have to worry him, he is on board and isn't going to predator drone strike my tower. Oh and yeah, not buying it was the only reason you left. Nothing is so urgent that you leave your precious swords, N*sync and Backstreet Boy behind on purpose. You just bolted after Loki got mad you put yourself in danger again." Tony called his bluff edging him again for any reaction. Tony knew he was particularly sensitive when it came to his sword's names.

Sesshomaru visibly stiffened and turned to Tony, eyes bright orange from the setting sun. His glare could have shattered crystal and Tony, while almost losing his balance and his heart skipping a beat, smirked in victory at getting the Demon Lord back on track.

"Do not presume so know so much about this Sesshomaru." Tony groaned, not this 'formal I speak in the third person' bullshit again. He only did this when he was uneasy, defensive, or pissy. At least he hit the nail on the head.

"I know a lot, it's one of things I do best: know things. Like how I you don't like attention so no judgments here. It's just running doesn't seem like you." Tony received a tightening of Sesshomaru's jaw as a response. He was making him more tense, not less. A plus job Tony Stark.

'God I suck at this. How do you comfort a Demon Lord who on average emotes as much as a slab of marble? Should I buy him a beer? I should have paid attention in those therapist sessions Pepper made me go to.' Tony began to think of lines to say. But all he could think of, oddly, were apology lines one would say to making a lover angry: 'I swear; I'll never do it again…I'll do better…Yes, I know its unhealthy when…' The responses that came to mind told him volumes about his previous therapy sessions.

It was then it dawned on Tony just exactly what he was trying to do.

Comfort someone.

Was this real life? What sort of joke was life playing on him now? When did he ever do something like this? Tony couldn't even tell Pepper he was dying years ago out of fear of having to comfort her.

"I won't allow it." Sesshomaru stated, voice low. Tony turned to him, wondering if he missed something or he just had to pull the context from thin air. Oh, yeah the scrying seeing the future thing.

"I can change the future. I will behead the Mad Titan personally and achieve unparalleled greatness." Sesshomaru's voice reached a gravelly huskiness that aroused Tony more than he cared to admit. With only a slight hesitation, put his armored hand, boldly, on his shoulder.

He instantly wished he wasn't wearing his suit, so he could really feel his broad, yet lanky shoulder beneath him. Tony craved to absorb the warmth from his white shirt, to really know if his lats were as suspension bridge wire taut as he thought.

Tony vowed he'd find out sooner or later.

"Hey, you're a part of a team now. You got me, the rest of the Avengers, Toady, and your unbalanced bestie. You aren't alone in this. This isn't solely on your shoulders no matter how Loki originally spun it. In a surprising turn of events, we trust what he says. And you know only went ape-shit because you give him heart attacks on a daily basis." Tony held his breath as Sesshomaru turned, lips slightly parted, like when he carried him. Face alight, the sunset haloed him making him look afire.

Tony, somehow, dug deep and resisted the urge to claim those lips with his own. All Sesshomaru did was break eye contact to look down and reflexively Tony caressed his shoulder with his thumb absently.

"You aren't used to the team thing are you? Loki filled us in some as you know." Tony found words coming to him more naturally. He was gradually getting in his element.

"No." Sesshomaru replied slowly, eyebrows raising with his ears. To Tony, his response was his version of stating the obvious. Tony grinned.

"Well, get used to it, for better or worse we are all roped into this. And get used to everyone harassing you. Especially Loki. Despite the like five hundred years you've been apart you're still the Spock to his Kirk. Which, uh, means that you two are partners who explore space and fight aliens. That diva will always have your back." Tony laughed at Sesshomaru's confusion at his analogy, he had to make Sesshomaru watch Star Trek at some point, at least the movies. He'd totally get the Spock reference. Yet, Tony became confused when Sesshomaru's eyes widened.

"You truly believe so? You trust in Loki's loyalty towards me?" Tony stopped rubbing his shoulder, and he hadn't really realized he had kept doing it. This was well beyond the 'manly comforting' thing. Tony knew whatever Sesshomaru scryed had to be bad. Since when did 'Mr. I'm above all humans' need reassurance from one about his best friend no less?

"There are several things I am certain of in life: one Justin Hammer is a giant tool, no pun intended, two, AC/DC is the best band, not sorry Kurt Cobain, three, Loki would take a Mjolnir blast to his family jewels for you. I believe what I can study, so don't…believe any LSD vision quest you saw over fact." Tony listed, he hoped that he wouldn't run into Justin Hammer anytime soon. He got released from prison two and half years ago due to 'overcrowding'. Maybe he could get Sailor Moon to melt him.

"Mmmm." Sesshomaru hummed simply, voice like velvet. Tony finally saw his sharp jaw relax and he wanted to hold it and jerk it towards him. To roughly open his mouth and shove his tongue down into it.

Though he was still wearing the damned gloves, the relaxing of Sesshomaru's lats beneath his shoulder didn't go unnoticed.

"You didn't just see your death, did you?" Tony braved, he didn't know if he was about to strike out or hit a home run. Sesshomaru shook his head, bangs ruffling in the wind.

"I saw many, among other events." Sesshomaru stated, voice stoic and deep looking away, as if trying to see beyond the horizon.

Tony, for a moment, wanted to know just how sharp his chin really felt. Sesshomaru's facial features cut just too acutely to be human, his skin too smooth, his hair too polished. His gold eyes, with the slit pupils, which at first struck an instinctual, biologically based fear in him, now just made sense with the rest of his thin, pointed self. Delicate nor fragile could accurately describe the apex predator. Yet, the way his features cleaved, his lithe frame, his lethal talons, depicted something meant for only offense, something that burned brightly and didn't last.

A glass cannon.

"Did you see mine?" Goddamnit Tony. 'Way to be sensitive. I should have brought Pepper.' Tony wanted to kick himself in the ass.

"Yes." Sesshomaru's whisper almost got caught by the wind.

"My death is the real tragedy. I'm pretty famous here, kind of a big deal. There'd be parades everywhere. The whole world would be in mourning for years, especially the women, I get around. They'd be throwing their panties on my casket, men would write countless biographies about me. Bands would be started, good ones. I'd get a national holiday, no a global holiday! Even observed in North Korea." Tony rambled and Sesshomaru turned to him, eyebrows slanted in skepticism.

"...you have bedded no human female since I have arrived." Sesshomaru's crimson lidded eyes crinkled and Tony shot up, taking his hand from his shoulder in offense.

"What? How would you know? You were gone for three days and live in my basement like a moody college drop-out!" Tony flailed, not expecting to be called out on his dry streak by the stoic Demon Lord.

"I can smell such things, and Jarvis informed me of everyone's comings and goings." Sesshomaru tilted his head to the side. Jarvis that traitor.

"Sorry sir, he asked this morning." Jarvis butted in.

"God you are so fucking creepy. And weird. Jarvis you're fired. You, Sailor Moon, literally keep your nose out of my business." Tony flipped his face plate on to hide what was probably an obvious blush. He saw Sesshomaru tilt his head back slightly, as if listening for something.

"This Sesshomaru is not creepy and my actions are within reason. Your opinions of me are skewed, human." Sesshomaru retorted, Tony caught that Sesshomaru didn't sound nearly as moody as before, another Tony Stark success.

"Says the guy who melts silverware into ninja weapons, barters for ice cream with music, and sits on top of The Chrysler Building probably listening to emo music on the way here. You're. Weird." Tony flipped his face plate back up, not really wanting to talk to him through it.

"This Sesshomaru was listening to the wind while running." Tony face palmed, of course he'd get all cryptic again.

"Ok Pocahontas, what music were you listening to before I played AC/DC?" Tony fired back and Sesshomaru glanced back, a slight smirk on his lips. He didn't care if Sesshomaru didn't catch his Disney reference.

"That is an inquiry this Sesshomaru did not consent to answer." Holy hell this guy is so high maintenance.

"Christ you're such a pain. Fine. Ask me a question, but answer mine first." Tony relented, secretly enjoying it.

"I was listening to the Airborne Toxic Event." Oh, well that explained everything.

"Wow. Even the band name is depressing. Don't going to start dying your hair strange colors, well stranger colors, and wearing lace up black combat boots." Tony joked and hooked a lock of Sesshomaru's hair, wishing he could actually feel the satin strands on the pads of his fingers.

"This Sesshomaru will not change his person, and prefers his own boots…Do you know of a land of flat, white salt near a building of tall white spires?" Tony made a face. Sesshomaru hesitated asking the question which had to mean it was important or personal or both. Why would he want to go to the Bonneville Salt Flats? Did he want to break a world record speed test? Tony smirked, a plan forming.

"Yeaaah. I do." Tony baited, smirking smugly. Sesshomaru waited for an elaboration that wouldn't come.

Pause.

"In which direction would it be?" Sesshomaru finally asked a second question. Tony struck back.

"Now that's a question I didn't give consent to answer." Tony quipped back, chin high. Sesshomaru frowned deeply, brow creasing. "What, it's not my fault you didn't correctly pose the question you wanted to ask." Tony supplimented airily. Sesshomaru tossed his windblown hair, ears flicking up then down, obviously irritated. Prissy Demon. Tony knew if he asked why he wanted to know he wouldn't get an answer. So he wouldn't, at least not right now.

Tony just loved it when he won.

"Let's get back before Loki thinks we eloped or something." Sesshomaru's mouth drawstringed small, as if the joke truly confused him. Maybe it did. Tony reveled in irking and confusing the Demon. Anything was better than dejected, emo sighing Sailor Moon.

There really wasn't much space between them. They could be sitting side by side in his R8, in which he would just lean over the center console, grab the back of his head, and maul his mouth senseless. Instead, he shook the thought from his head literally and put on his face plate.

Together, side by side with Tony flying and Sesshomaru leaping, they arrived back at Stark Tower with everyone already around the big screen TV. Movie night.

'I bet it was Steve's idea for team building. At least it was a better idea than a trust fall.' Tony allowed the suit to fold up and collapse off his body before entering the room.

"Hey you're just in time for the Star Wars movie. A New Hope! I haven't seen it yet! Clint says we have to watch the fourth one first." Steve announced with popcorn, which always smelled better than it tasted. Tony quirked an eyebrow. It was an oddly appropriate choice considering the impending invasion. He sat on the sofa, on Steve's left, the only empty seat to his own right.

He could have sworn he saw Sesshomaru glare at Clint and Loki, who sat side by side, but in separate chairs. Sesshomaru with inhuman grace sat down next down next to Tony.

"Is this for tactical purposes?" Sesshomaru inquired to Loki and Natasha laughed.

"It's for entertainment. I was informed it is a fictional series of events that hold no clear useful battle strategies." Loki informed from across the room, eyes glinting.

"He asked the same question." Clint clarified. Tony rolled his eyes. Figures Bambi and Sailor Moon would not get the concept of R&R.

"Lord Sesshomaru it's supposed to be fun!" Rin ran into the room holding more popcorn and sat on the floor cross-legged in front of Sesshomaru. Jaken was suspiciously absent.

The movie played, and upon the insistence of mostly Rin, Thor and Steve, they also played the sequel The Empire Strikes Back. Tony restrained himself well. He tried hard not to show that he tingled with satisfaction that Sesshomaru sat next to him. Tony would have made some excuse to sit next to him anyway, especially if he sat next to Clint.

Clint and Sesshomaru at dinner were getting a little too friendly for his tastes. Clint even hit on him! Supermodel figure, what was that about?!

'Whoa, Tony…cool your jets, it's not like I care. Stupid life-saving, youki-merging, arc reactor. This better not have any crazy long term effects.' Tony crossed his legs, an excuse for his and Sesshomaru's knees to touch.

Tony didn't mind at all when Sesshomaru's leg brushed against his, and stayed there, sharing in the body heat. Or when their shoulders touched when Tony adjusted. Or even when Sesshomaru's obscenely long hair got all over him when he shifted his back so now their shoulders were flush against each other. His silver hair was splayed all over the whole sofa. He swore he saw Steve brush some off him. However, the almost unbearable inch and a half of space between them had been extinguished. Worth it.

He would have to buy a Roomba. Maybe a Roomba team, have them line change like in ice hockey. He could number them. Tony swore Clint watched hockey. Maybe he knew of a good team.

When the movie stopped, Tony was ready for his master plan. He had Jarvis get him paper and pens during the break between movies. He stood up, slightly reluctantly. He had gotten pretty strangely comfortable for sharing a sofa with two full grown men.

"So. Bets. Let's say twenty dollars. Let's try to guess Reindeer Games' and Sailor Moon's favorite characters. Let's start with Reminder Games! Oh and you two," Tony pointed to Sesshomaru and Loki "You aren't in on the bet. that'd be practically cheating, but you can play, you just have to announce after everyone else." Tony announced and Sesshomaru straightened. He ignored Bruce's knowing smirk. He could be too smart for his own good.

Tony handed out the paper and pens and everyone wrote down a character, putting it in the empty popcorn bowl. Loki fully stretched out like a cat, smiled like one too, clearly entertained.

"Ok, so for Reindeer Games, we got two votes Darth Vader, three votes Boba Fett, one vote Yoda...really Steve, Yoda?" Tony called out like a sports announcer. Steve gave his best 'What?!' face.

'His is totally the Fett. Scary, loner, gets shit done, uses all sorts of tricks and is the only one to figure out where the Millennium Falcon goes.' Tony knew he, Clint and Natasha had this one in the bag.

"While all interesting guesses you are all wrong." Loki stated haughtily. Tony nearly threw the bowl at him to wipe that look off his face. He didn't miss Clint's shocked reaction either.

"What?! How can it not be Boba Fett? He wears green, plays by his own rules, and not even Darth Vader intimidates him!" Clint exclaimed, clearly exasperated.

"You asked for my favorite character, not the one perhaps most like myself." Loki responded, wagging a finger in admonishment to Clint who just groaned deeply. Pfft stupid clever Diva God.

"Ok, valid point, then who?" Natasha responded and Loki held up his paper, which on it had written: R2D2.

"The droid?!" Clint asked looking to Loki who smiled satisfactorily.

"He is the most underestimated member of the team, and often the most humorous and intelligent. He is the only reason that buffoon Luke and that cringe worthy c-3PO are alive. He repairs the Falcon's hyperdrive as well, clinching their retreat from the Star Destroyer Excecutor. He is often gallant and doesn't let just anyone order him about." Loki responded and Sesshomaru nodded. On Sesshomaru's paper he had written, in the most crazy-pretty calligraphy Tony had ever seen, 'the small blue robot, or the only rebel pilot of any skill.' Tony pointed to Sesshomaru, all eyes now on him.

"Wait, who do you mean the only good pilot?! Both Han Solo and Luke are great, even Chewy." Tony asked as Bruce took the paper from behind Sesshomaru.

"Whoa, you have really nice handwriting, here everyone, check it out." Bruce passed the paper around. Tony heard murmurs of approval.

"No silly, Lord Sesshomaru means Wedge!" Rin responded, drawing on her paper, Loki as Boba Fett. Tony looked to Sesshomaru and threw up his hands in defeat. Wedge Antilles, what did he ever do?!

"The character Antilles is clearly the most skilled pilot, and was correct about the computer being unable to hit the target. The only reason their mission succeeded in the first film was due to Skywalker's magic, not his piloting abilities. The pilot Antilles had to distract and shoot Skywalker's pursuer in order for him to destroy the enemy space station. In the second film he was a commendable leader and only successful pilot against the walking devices. Since he operated as a support pilot and was often underestimated, and taken for granted, I would think Loki would favor and relate to him." Sesshomaru said more than he had all day, maybe all week. Tony didn't care what he had to say, he was glad Sailor Moon was back.

Loki flipped over his paper to reveal he too written Wedge. Clint took the paper from his hands in disbelief.

"Your handwriting isn't bad either. Like I said, arts and crafts at summer camp for the privileged and powerful worked." Barton passed Loki's paper around, getting the same murmurs of approval. Loki flashed a satisfied smile.

"Ok, you two, Sesshoki, are officially psychic. You guys should go on some newlywed game show, you'd never lose. They'd have to name the show after you." Tony looked at them both, noticing Loki was smirking and Sesshomaru didn't look uncomfortable so they are back on good terms. Tony liked it when everything returned to equilibrium.

"Brother, I commend of your choices. Both are fine examples of heroism!" Thor gave a thumbs up and Loki gave his best 'OK thanks.' face.

"I got mine for Sesshomaru." Bruce announced, passing his guess forward. The rest followed suit. Tony knew he had this one in the bag. There could only be one character Sesshomaru would absolutely go for.

"Oohh no repeats for this one! One vote Darth Vader, one Lando, One Chewbacca, one Princess Leia, one Obi Wan Kenobi, and lastly Han Solo." Tony said with a flourish and he spotted Loki rolling his eyes dramatically. Stuff it Bambi, he got this one right.

Tony could feel the cash in his hand. Lando was perfect. classy ruler, ends up helping his best friend, handsome, smart, and outsmarts the empire with a good tactic.

"...all false." Tony almost dropped the bowl. Everyone turned to Sesshomaru whose eyes widened. 'Still not quite used to the sudden turn of attention, total introvert.' Tony concluded.

"Really?! Not princess Leia who got tortured and only after they threatened to destroy an innocent planet gave up the plans then defeated them?" Steve looked almost hurt.

"I put Chewbacca, crossbows are awesome." Clint leaned back putting his hands behind his head.

"I believe they wanted Sesshomaru's favorite not yours." Loki glanced sideways.

"The earlier dart into Rhodes gun? Had to chance it. Besides, Chewbacca should be everyone's favorite." Clint retorted and Loki slowly facepalmed in return.

"I give up. You are impossible. Who is your favorite?! Jabba? Don't say Aunt Peru or the damn Jawas." Tony sat back down looking into Sesshomaru's eyes which were backlit with amusement. He showed his paper.

"I knew it!" Loki showed his paper, eyes bright in victory. Tony swore if they had the same answer…

Both said Admiral Piett.

Pause.

"Who?!" Everyone save Rin and Bruce asked.

"He was basically the only imperial officer not to get force choked by Darth Vader." Bruce explained, leaning back, exhaling through his nose. Bruce reacted like he knew he should have put down this nameless third tier garbage character.

"Yeah! He is smart! Though Rin's favorite character is Lando! Does that count?" Tony couldn't help but smile at that. Yeah, Lando being Rin's favorite made a lot more sense.

"Admiral Piett isn't even a real character. He probably says two wor…oh nevermind. I get it. I give up. I can't win." Tony put his head in his hands, Sesshomaru would pick a character with less lines than the Adidas logo.

"Why him?" Natasha asked, genuinely interested.

"He is a loyal, capable Captain of their flagship, the Executor. He brought the intelligence of the rebels to his general, despite the ineptitude of his superior officer. When his general Vader executes his superior officer in front of him and in turn promotes him to Admiral, he remains composed and does not disrespect him. A sign of true strength and nobility." Sesshomaru leaned back, rolling his neck back fluidly, like an Egyptian pharaoh would.

"He salvaged a tactical disadvantage out of that imbecile Ozzel's miscalculations giving away their positioning on Hoth. He even had the better tactic than Vader of avoiding the asteroid field when persuing the Falcon. It is clear that the emotional liability who is Vader spares him because he did everything he correct in that situation, and is an invaluable Admiral." Loki added with a point Sesshomaru's direction.

"Indeed. I also agree with his voiced distaste for mercenaries when the bounty hunters were summoned to find the Millennium Falcon. I would employ him." Sesshomaru nodded, ears up, as if taunting Tony. Ok, so tie game, one point Tony, one point Sesshomaru.

"Figures they managed to actually turn these movies into a tactics analysis. Return of the Jedi will be a hoot." Clint groaned, Tony was with him. No post-tactics analysis from ESPN's Sesshomaru Gruden and Loki Tirico.

"You know, I can see where they both come from, the minor characters in the movies really were intelligent too." Steve looked like he had an epiphany.

"Yeah. They have their merits, I could see Fury hiring Piett, and Wedge." Natasha admitted casually, looking towards Loki.

"Ok, Ok you know let's all move on. It's confirmed Sesshoki are hipsters apparently only like obscure characters from movies." Tony couldn't help but feel an edge of envy. Those two were like, stupid close, almost like perfect compliments to each other.

Again, for like the eleventh time that day, not that he cared.

Bruce got up and turned on the lights as well as everyone else, and Tony watched as Loki made his way to Sesshomaru and put up his hand.

And Tony's jaw nearly fell out of his head when Sesshomaru high-fived it.

"Brother! Son of Taisho! That was indeed a proper time for a high five!" Thor. Actually. Clapped. What was this a Hallmark channel straight to TV movie?

'I'm surprised they don't have a secret hand shake. Stupid God of Mischief, stupid Demon Lord. I need a drink.' Tony grumbled, turning away from the both of them.

"Yay! Rin wants one Uncle Loki!" Loki high-fived Rin, who picked up her sketch of him as Boba Fett and Loki nodded and smiled in approval.

"Hey Loki, Fancy Pants, Tony we are all gonna go out for a drink for the grand Asgard homecoming, want in?" Clint said as the rest all headed towards the elevator. Tony could get behind that idea. He knew the perfect bar.

"If you insist upon my presence, then I suppose I will capitulate and join you." Loki, at his height of arrogance, made Clint throw out his hand in revulsion.

"Yeah, just give me a minute. Let me set my cap and look my prettiest." Tony wanted to talk to Sesshomaru about the Salt Flats, and the scry now that he was back to his normal placid self. They all, except Loki went down the elevator.

"Rin, it is time to retire." Sesshomaru informed mildly. Tony then jumped to intercept them.

"Yeah, and sorry, remember no more substorage room 3-b. There is a perfectly good room up here that has furniture that isn't crates. Pepper picked it all out, she insists Rin has a real bed. " Tony scratched his head and pointed with a flourish to the room. Loki sighed.

"Fine Stark. The storage room has outlived its purpose anyway." Loki put his hand on his hips in fake exasperation, mischief dancing hidden in his eyes.

"I will go retrieve Tenseiga, Bakusaiga, and Jaken." Sesshomaru stated, listing all three as if they were all actual people, and Rin followed him to the elevator with the rest. Tony decided to wait for him to come back up, and turned to the kitchen.

Tony was surprised when a strong arm pulled him into his own bedroom, Loki looked as serious as a plane crash. Green magic coiled and snaked on the floor, his eyes icy flecks of matching green. The strength of the grip on his arm shocked Tony. Ok?

"Stark. You must keep an eye on Sesshomaru while I am in Asgard. He. Must. Not. Scry. He knows not of what he is doing and is too stubborn to back down. What he is doing could easily kill him, or render him mindless. What he scryed earlier today is not even supposed to be possible!" Loki hissed venomously, shoving Tony roughly up against the wall with a dull thud. Loki definitely was stronger than he looked, Tony winced.

Tony's lungs flared, colossally annoyed. Loki was getting too physical.

"Why don't you teach him then? Scrying is magic right? Or I don't know take him Asgard and have someone show him." Tony shoved back. Hard. Loki stumbled back in surprise. No one pinned Tony Stark to the wall in his own bedroom. If it was so important why didn't Loki just help him?

"Because I am not a skilled in the art of scrying! I think that travelling through time in Bifrost triggered his gift. I don't even know anyone personally who is as powerful at it as Sesshomaru is except Frigga. Who, as you could possibly surmise, is in no mood to assist a scorned fugitive of Asgard!" Loki retaliated and shoved Tony again against the wall with a louder thud, holding him there. His grip tight like industrial vices. Tony found himself caving, to Loki's demands, not to his dominance.

"Also, it would be unwise for all three, Sesshomaru, Thor and I to be off Midgard in case The Mad Titan or The Other are somehow closer than my knowledge puts them." Loki admitted tactfully. Tony, still pinned against his own bedroom wall, then conceded. It would probably be a bad idea to have all three off Earth. They both still stared at each other, waiting for the other to break.

"Fine. Whatever, I'll babysit the scry-baby. I need a drink. You coming helicopter mom?" Tony bit out. Really, he could use that damn drink, but also being held against the wall in his own bedroom with an admittedly not unattractive Loki felt wrong. And not just because he used to be on SHIELD's most wanted either.

Loki backed up, probably realizing the same thing and his green magic that had started to fill the whole bedroom started to fade.

"Yes, let's-" Loki was cut off by Tony shoving him sternly, earning a stumbling step backwards from the God. Loki, not one to be outdone, dropped and swept out his right leg and took out Tony's feet from under him with a reverberating crash. Tony then grabbed Loki's ankle and with a tug and a chop at this knee brought Loki crashing to the floor with a booming thud.

Tony realized this was stupid, but it felt good to take out some aggression on the God, the whole Star Wars character thing still grated him.

Tony and Loki wrestled like kids until Loki had pinned Tony to the floor, straddling him, both breathing heavy. Tony, under Loki, saw a tall figure dark in the doorway.

There they were, Loki was straddling Tony like a sloppy attempt at rough foreplay. Tony swallowed, looking up to see a blank faced Sesshomaru cracking his knuckles of one hand, his swords in their tubes in the other.

"Ahem. Not what it looks like, we uh, both fell." Tony coughed, the expression on Sesshomaru's face didn't change, if anything the temperature dropped.

'Is he pissed? If he is, is he pissed at me or Loki? Both? Does he get jealous? Why do I even feel awkward? Its not like Loki would ever be a thing. Hell, It's not like and Sailor Moon and I are a thing. How stupid would that be? I mean really. Bad idea even for me. Really bad. Capital B bad. Definitely glad I didn't act on it earlier today. Definitely.' Tony rubbed the back of his neck as Loki got off him in a singular fluid motion.

He still hadn't found any porn matching Sesshomaru's description yet though.

"..." Sesshomaru iced out an exhale through his nose. Loki sprung up from the floor too gracefully, a rug burn itched on Tony's elbow. Of all the dumb things to do, picking a hand to hand fight with a God only to make the overly-sensitive Demon mad all over again.

"Come Sho, let's meet the others to celebrate my most glorious homecoming! Twill be a most wondrous disaster!" Loki, beaming, stepped forward gesturing to the elevator and Sesshomaru's jaw clenched. Tony then wondered if Loki had planned the whole thing.

Crafty fucking God of Mischief… he was trying to make Sesshomaru jealous. Why Tony had no idea, it's not like he threatened their centuries long bromance.

Then his brain processed a crucial bit of information. Loki didn't call him Sesshomaru.

"Wait! You have a legitimate nickname?! Sho?!" Tony called out, catching up and swore he heard a low, hair prickling growl as Sesshomaru turned back to Tony, eyes bright in anger.

'This is just too good. Tony two, Sesshomaru one, Winning the game.' He rubbed his beard as he followed the pissed Demon into the elevator, fighting the urge to grab his ass from behind.

Chapter Text

Loki and the Gilded Throne

*(*

After the Avengers left the bar around 3:03am, in which he and Romanoff managed to edge out Thor and Clint in 8-ball, they all went to bed. Well except Stark who went to his workshop to tinker with what, not even the Nines knew.

Sesshomaru and Loki faced the glittering New York skyline on the roof in the cool April breeze. Loki leaning casually against the side of the tower while Sesshomaru stood sword-straight against the night.

Loki twisted his face, the mortal's alcohol faintly buzzing in his system. Loki was nobody's fool, yet, he allowed his fantasies about Clint distract him. Up until Stark retrieved Sesshomaru, and to his relief, allayed his concerns, he hadn't realized that something was seriously bothering the usually unflappable Demon.

He didn't even realize until he fled that Sesshomaru had basically avoided him! Him! The nerve! The audacity to let anything like a scry come between them to that degree. Sure, Loki adored teasing the demon and making him jealous, especially with Stark, but this was something completely different.

This wasn't some asinine game. Sesshomaru managed to do something no other seer was supposed to, scry his own death. And who knows what else! And whatever he saw he didn't trust him to ask about it. He knew the Demon was private but this was going a bit extreme. Sho should trust him with things like this.

He wanted to address it, but there other many unfinished conversations between them as well. Loki would ease him into it.

Loki explained the circumstances behind the mind control of Clint, that it was either kill or turn him; he was too valuable. The knowledge he had of SHIELD and the other members of the Avengers was too great, not to even mention his skills in the field.

He did tell Sesshomaru he managed to convince The Other that he only needed one of the Avengers, and he purposely tried to turn Stark, who he knew couldn't be turned, when Clint awoke. Loki knew it was due to the arc reactor that the scepter didn't work, it somehow countered the magic.

Also he was being somewhat monitored the whole time by the Other through the scepter. The scepter had a way of sensing people. The extent of that ability not even Loki knew even though the scepter spoke to him, in a way guided him. Almost a twisted, warped version of what he crafted Tenseiga's hilt to do. He was thankful he had crafted Tenseiga's hilt, because it trained him to place the protection spell on Clint with the scepter.

He didn't bother telling Sesshomaru about the scepter since it most assuredly no longer existed, it didn't require explanation. He also didn't wish to hear Sesshomaru drone and lecture on about the danger using a weapon that did not belong to you. Inu no Taisho, the short-sighted daft Demon Lord had drilled into Sesshomaru that using any weapon, other than a sword of your own making, or of your own body, was a cowards' way out of fighting.

The coincidence that Bakusaiga managed to come directly from Sho's body tickled him, his father certainly never accomplished such a feat.

Sesshomaru, in turn, reported for the fifty-three unaccounted years of his past. He spoke of how he came to find Jaken, ruler of a slaughtered water demon tribe, and he already knew of Rin. It didn't surprise Loki when he learned she had kept him company while he recovered from an injury his brother gave him fighting over Tessaiga.

It had confused him that Sesshomaru's father left his bastard child the sword that Sesshomaru trained tirelessly to wield so easily and so deftly. It equally shocked him that his father had his mother seal Sounga away in a location only she knew about, and she obviously she refused to tell Sho its location.

Sesshomaru's mother, the Demoness who watched on high as her son almost died protecting the falling Western Lands, was entrusted with the devastating sword of hell. What. In. The. Nines?! The folly that his father didn't trust Sho with any weapon other than Tenseiga was astounding.

Sesshomaru admitted to detesting Tenseiga, and wanting Tessaiga, the sword which could actually cut the living. Sho, corrected his opinion of the sword, especially after learning that Loki had helped craft it.

Loki's magic buzzed in pride.

Sesshomaru stated he abandoned his half-hearted quest of Tessaiga when he learned from the Magnolia Demon, Bokuseno, who he had met once, that his brother would literally go insane with bloodlust without its presence. He and his brother eventually reconciled somewhat, banning together to defeat Naraku, and a few other foes along the way.

Loki knew too well what it was like to covet what your brother had, material or otherwise. To have it consume you, turn you inside out into a raw, acidic mess.

Loki learned of this abomination Naraku, a half-Demon who used poisonous miasmas and puppetry to wreak havoc on his lands. He described their tireless fights, and the Shikon jewel which his half-brother and his friends, who Rin drew once, shattered and then collected. He reported initially he had no interest in fighting Naraku until two events occurred. One being that Naraku desired to absorb his power to defeat his half-brother.

Loki cackled in laughter.

The arrogance and sheer lunacy to hope to absorb or control Sesshomaru's power! Though apparently he had managed to elude Sesshomaru for a few years, it didn't seem like this half-demon was of a sound mind.

It was the second event that caused Sesshomaru to change his mind, which definitely caught Loki's attention.

This halfwit Naraku also created incarnations and used them like puppets. One of those puppets was a Wind Demoness named Kagura whose company he grew to enjoy.

Though Sesshomaru's facial features remained impassive, and his voice apathetic, Loki could tell by how his ears were flat against his head, and a slight twitch of his claws that this Kagura meant something to his closed-off friend.

He stated calmly that all she ever wanted was her freedom, and he refused to help her. He admitted it was an error at the time he wished he could go back and correct. Sesshomaru recounted how she chuckled, how she fought.

And how she was killed by Naraku in a field of flowers Rin liked.

And how he still listened for her in the wind.

It made sense now to Loki, how Sesshomaru reacted to hearing that he had brainwashed Clint. To Sesshomaru what he did to Clint must be exactly the same as what Naraku had done to Kagura. Only he didn't kill Clint in a field of flowers. Impossible. Repulsive. Obscene. Never. He'd sooner throw himself onto the Other's sickles than ever harm Clint and Loki was sure that Sesshomaru knew that now.

Loki then glossed over the events of Thor's coronation, him slipping the Jotuns into Asgard for the Casket of Ancient Winters, Thor's foolhardy attack on the Jotuns' military and Thor's exile. He described his own ascent to the throne, and sending Destroyer after Thor. He summarized his scheme to lure Laufrey to Asgard. He then, of course had to illustrate all of this with his magic.

He told him conclusion where he killed Laufrey, and used his assassination attempt as motive to destroy Jotunheim's forces with the Bifrost. He even described his rather pitiful fight with Thor on the Bifrost when he wielded Gungnir, Odin's lack of approval and his slip into the abyss.

Loki had at first wondered if he should struggle more with the concept of trying to extinguish one of the more brutal tribes in Jotunheim. Obviously he was a Jotun, a Frost Giant, a strange quirk of fate to try to massacre your race, but Sho had done far more brutal things to other Demon tribes. All for their own father's approval. What was the Midgardian phrase? 'daddy issues?'

Sesshomaru furrowed his brow at the mention of Odin, and simply said that he must be blind in both eyes. Loki smirked it wasn't quite the case. Sesshomaru's voice remained icy when he said he would have no problem making it so.

Loki fired back that Sesshomaru was being dramatic. Sesshomaru just quirked an eyebrow, the obvious equivalent of 'you're one to talk'.

Sho then went on to elaborate that Odin was a blind fool for thinking Thor was so ready to have the throne. Sesshomaru also cracked his knuckles and said Odin should have trusted Loki's judgment that a preemptive strike on Jotenheim was best. Sesshomaru concluded that in war, you could not hesitate or show your belly. Loki gleamed in his approval, but still hesitated.

"As I recall, the Distant Realm king, Odin, had subjugated this race long ago. You simply finished his work as he raised you to learn to do and he rejected you for it. Yet he was lenient when Thor attempted the same but failed. Odin knows not what is best for the Distant Realm, nor for his two sons. He is indeed blind." Sesshomaru hissed out and Loki was speechless.

He had never thought of it like that.

Lastly, Sho told him of his mother, the Meido Stone, the underworld, Rin, and the Meido Zangetsuha, a technique which opened dimensional rifts to the underworld and send beings straight there. Loki opinion of his mother, however, had darkened and his magic vortexed inside him. What a distasteful woman using little Rin in such a way.

"Your mother, Sho, is devious and manipulative, and I know devious and manipulative. Though I must say that your ability to create dimensional rifts into the underworld is fascinating. I have heard of no one else with that ability. A shame you had to give it to your half-brother." Loki knew no sorcerers his caliber could simply send the living to the underworld without going through Death first. Sesshonaru would have shrugged if he did such things, but all he did was raise his eyebrows.

Loki leaned back and stretched in vindication when Sesshomaru finally gave a small smile and nodded, because it was something they both knew all too well. To achieve something and give the rewards and accolades to your brother.

Sesshomaru wasn't as bitter towards Inuyasha as Loki was to Thor, it was something he knew he had to work on.

'Thor doesn't truly deserve all my scorn, that is on Odin. Ever since my mind was reforged by the Other, I've had a staggeringly hard time properly assigning emotions towards some of my memories. It took years in Asgard prison setting straight what accurately happened in the past with Thor, and which emotions and memories were warped and manipulated.' Loki scrunched his nose.

Loki surmised that he and Sho, subconsciously or not, isolated themselves from their respective societies with regarding how they handled their emotions.

While Sho's rigid and meticulous control of his emotions honed his youki, it cost him friends by making him aloof and often misunderstood. Loki's own volatile emotions enhanced his magic, yet cost him friends as well when he would overreact to something or lash out against a slight.

Loki finally asked Sesshomaru about his scrying, and the only thing he revealed was that he did not merely see the events of the future, but he felt and lived them. That troubled Loki, he would have to ask Frigga about that. Normal seers never did anything but see the Astral Plane.

Loki knew Sesshomaru hid things from him, like details between his fight with his half-brother, his swords' powers, perhaps other abilities, and what exactly he scryed, but decided he wouldn't press.

He had his secrets too. One, being of Jotunheim, and how he purposely let go of the Bifrost, and the torture he underwent. Hypocrisy is ugly.

He also confessed they were having this long drawn out heart to heart in case Odin did something rash. He didn't want them to part on bad terms like they did five hundred and fifty years ago.

Sesshomaru said if Odin did anything of the sort he would find a way to Asgard, and Odin would learn of his true savagery.

Loki reminded him that just because they can't hear or see Heimdall didn't necessarily mean that Heimdall couldn't hear or see them.

Sesshomaru just withdrew a slip of paper and wrote his methods into every vivid, excruciating, and eviscerating detail. He gave it to Loki, though he most certainly would not pass it on to Odin.

Loki laughed so hard sparks shot out his fingers, again. Sesshomaru flashed a fang.

They spoke till just before dawn, the rose red sky glinting off the skyscrapers like blood on a dagger. Loki could feel deep in his bones his voyage to Asgard would not go smoothly.

Dawn is when they gathered to go to Asgard. No amount of threats from Sesshomaru regarding his former father, nor reassurance from Thor could make his pulse slow.

He planned it so that he would purposely 'bump' into Clint as he left the bathroom. And by 'bump' he scanned out with his magic and teleported down to the door he was about to step through. He honestly didn't know what to expect from the encounter but if anything it would throw the assassin off balance and amuse him before he left to deal with rather unsavory business.

"You're an unnerving individual you know that?! Can't you just…oh I don't know walk down hallways like most people?" Clint huffed, hair wet, skin damp from the shower. Oh, Loki wished he could have joined him. Loki sensed the archer was a bit more amused by his antics than he let on.

At least that's what Loki told himself.

"But wouldn't it be so dreadfully dull if I was indeed like most people?" Loki's face lit in an anticipatory smile. Clint sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"If you were like normal people I'd be on vacation in Cadiz, Spain, maybe even with my niece and nephew. Instead I got dragged out to New Mexico, had Tony Stark thrown into me and got stuck here with this mess." Clint squinted his eyes closed and looked away as if in pain. But Loki wasn't quite buying it was genuine.

"If you wished it so, you would be there. It may even assuage Director Fury's concerns that I indeed lurk about Midgard as he so fears if you departed." Loki suggested a purposeful lead that didn't go the way he planned. Clint's eyes flared in anger.

"See, you're wrong, now I have the oh-so simple task of lying to Fury, but still reporting back enough information to him so that we can thwart yet another invasion. Maybe to you that's how things work. You can just shove off and do you, but I actually have a moral code I live by." Clint scathed back and Loki jerked his head back, eyes wide, lungs rattling.

Clint's selflessness had always rendered him feeling in the twisted pit where his heart should be, unworthy of him. Clint had heart, something Loki considered himself lacking.

It still stung like Sho's toxin to hear Clint confirm it.

He knew he didn't necessarily have much in way of a moral code, but to hear Clint throw it back to him caved his chest in.

'Perhaps, I once had a heart. After the Demons vanished my heart began to slowly harden. I started to grow callous and selfish. My ambition, my competitiveness, and the resentment that most Aesir viewed me as weak and unworthy made me cold yet volatile. A strange thing, really. Mortals believe that emotions come from the heart. When really, I think the more I lost heart, the stronger my emotions actually became.' Loki retreated from his prey, face fallen. He swayed his hips back to give him space, magic cramping in his gut.

Loki's mouth opened but no sound came out. He didn't have a retort prepared. He didn't expect his playful encounter to turn on him this way. He smiled at Clint, but it didn't reach his eyes or his cheeks. He turned a full 180 degrees from Clint. It was foolhardy to seek him out before he saw Odin again. He deserved to be rebuked this harshly for seeking comfort in someone from whom he clearly didn't deserve any.

'Some silvertongue I have. It's not like an honorable mortal like him would reciprocate the feelings of such a twisted God like myself. Oh well. Now on to business. There must be a way to have Odin listen to me before commanding the whole Royal Guard to execute me. Or worse…Mayhap there is a way I can get to Gungnir…' Loki took a sure, strong step away from Clint, and another, distancing and distracting himself. His magic tilted and spun off its axis.

"Loki wait. Stop." Clint called out, voice a hair high. Loki stopped as requested, drumming his fingers on his outer thigh. He waited, for what again he wasn't sure. He was never sure what Clint would do.

"I didn't mean…look, are you sure this is a good idea for you to go back to Asgard? Doesn't Odin think Fancy Pants boosted you out? If he thinks he can't hold you in a normal cell, what will be do?" Clint fumbled and Loki's eyebrows furrowed and his jaw went lax. Surely he was just worried about the mission. He turned back towards Clint, regaining composure.

"You needn't worry about the mission dear Clint. Thor has a good rapport with Heimdall, once we get to Asg—" Clint cut off Loki off.

"This isn't about the mission. You don't deserve to be punished anymore, You don—" Loki smiled sadly. Clint was such an idealist and simply didn't understand that the world wasn't fair and that he wasn't the judge nor jury for what he did and didn't deserve.

Loki put a finger out to silence Clint, wanting to press it to his lips, but hesitated and just hovered in front of his mouth, feeling the breath on it. Loki put together a convincing lie.

"Hush Clint. Don't fret about matters of which you have no control. If it will allay your fears, Odin will most likely simply try to banish me, or send the Warriors Three and Sif after me, which won't be effective, especially with your good friend Miss Romanoff with us." Loki chanced a dazzling smile, smoothing his jet black hair back. He didn't need to tell Clint that Odin, with the power of Gungnir and the Odinforce could silence his magic, and much, much more. It could easily vanquish him.

Not even Thor could stop him if that was what he desired to do.

'It was the true reason why I insisted on Sho staying on Midgard, even with Sesshomaru's immense youki, Odin would have the advantage if Sesshomaru challenged him. Which he would most definitely do if Odin so much decided to level one glare my way.' Loki thought the lie convinced Clint, but it hadn't quite done the trick.

"Don't humor me. I'm not a kid." Clint grabbed his outstretched hand and the touch scorched Loki's nerve endings. Even if his blue Jotun skin had been visible, his skin would have been warm from his touch. "What am I even...just don't throw a temper tantrum…and tone down your flashy, over-the-top theatric, arrogant, dramatic self so Fancy Pants and I don't have to actually go bail you out." Clint released his hand, and Loki's magic calmed that Clint managed to find his sense of humor once more. Yes. This was much better. Loki straightened his posture and his lips curved up and rounded his cheeks.

Clint simply mesmerized him. His broad, sculpted shoulders he wanted to grasp, his neck he wanted to murmur curses into, his calloused hands he wanted to shove down the front of his own pants. Loki was hooked. When he arrived on Midgard Clint's clear-sightedness, his loyalty, his honor instantly shone through the blue magicked haze his mind had become. Clint was prepared to attack an enemy had little knowledge of to defend Fury and the Tesseract.

"I won't throw a tantrum, I'll even be on my best behavior, if only just for you." Loki dipped his voice saucily in an easy lie, and almost, almost winked. His eyes locked onto the light brown eyes that belonged to the object of his torment. It sparked the brightest blip of happiness in him to be the one to fluster Clint so, to see his wind-worn, but still smooth cheeks flush red.

He chose then to teleport to where everyone was gathering in a puff of green smoke, of course before Clint could formulate any sort of response.

Rin attached herself around his waist in a death-grip of a hug. In one hand was the deer femur turned-weapon. He ruffled her hair which was currently up in a sloppy side-tail. With his magic he neatened her hair for her, straightening the hairstyle out.

He spotted Clint when he made his way up and for a heart clenching moment their eyes caught. Loki gave Clint a hollow and fake reassuring nod and grin. If…no…when. When, he returned he would most certainly reap the rewards of his billiards victory. Clint just scoffed good naturedly and crossed his arms and Loki felt his grin grow more genuine.

"Uncle Loki, I've been practicing!" Rin smiled, twirling the deer femur and Loki took a deep breath. If Rin couldn't melt their hearts, who could?

"I'm surprised you aren't giving Loki and Thor some thinly veiled threat that if anything happens to Rin you'll like rip off their heads and eat their hearts or something." Stark admitted to Sesshomaru and he turned back to the inventor, who had dark circles under his eyes.

"...I would make their father eat their hearts. It is a threat I have enforced before." Sesshomaru corrected with no hint of emotion. Stark and Banner paled. Romanoff nodded in approval to Clint's disappointment. Loki chuckled, despite the threat.

"It was that smarmy cousin of yours, Akira right? The one with the ridiculous hair?" Loki asked, provoking Sesshomaru to elaborate. Loki vaguely remembered one of Sesshomaru's haughty cousins who had outrageous teal hair he always kept in the most ostentatious of hairstyles.

"Yes, he attempted to take this Sesshomaru's life. When his father, my uncle, sought revenge I skinned him, made a cloak from his pelt and sent it to his mate as a gift. She didn't appreciate it. She came to assassinate me and I then made a cloak of her and hung them both in the banquet hall." Sesshomaru added and this time Clint took a step back. Loki knew exactly the two pelts he was speaking of, he once sat beneath one of them at his banquet hall long ago.

"...If you ever gift me any 'leather' clothing, I'd rather not know who it came from." Romanoff quipped, smirking. Clint whistled. Stark just stood speechless, for once. Banner chuckled darkly besides Stark, elbowing him.

'Yes mortals, and you thought I was cruel….' Loki rocked back on his heels smiling with all his teeth.

"Aye. A ruthless tactic indeed Son of Taisho! Twas very effective!" Thor beamed with pride that was usually saved for a little brother. Loki scoffed, he didn't think Thor would approve of such methods.

Loki knew Thor had never really thought of Sesshomaru as family as Loki had. Their relationship erred on the side of strained, mostly due to their fathers' constant comparing of the two. Thor's sunny personality always clashed with Sesshomaru's subdued one as well.

"Alright, let's head out. I want to be back before Fury knows I'm not planet-side. We have a forty-eight-hour window before I have to report back in." Romanoff reminded, shifting her small pack.

They had decided Romanoff should go because Fury would need someone he could trust to see the information first hand, and apparently Fury never trusted Clint the same after the mind control. Loki had winced when he heard that.

Romanoff also stated she being a woman will have an additional psychological advantage over Odin. Loki wasn't so sure, but he knew he needed all the help he could get.

"Yes, agreed. Now all stand here, this will tingle." Loki directed them all to stand right behind him at his eight, six and four o'clock and began to glide his arms through the air in a grand circular flourish, green and black smoke permeating the area in streamers of vapor. He caught Clint's light brown eyes one last time before closing his own.

'Here goes something.' Loki thought grimly to himself as he brought the magic into a wide ring around them.

"See you soon Lord Sesshomaru! Jaken!" Rin waved right before the smoke sucked back into them and with a clap they were gone.

Loki hadn't transported this many people with this spell in centuries, so he made sure he visualized everything with intense detail as they slipped into the starry expanse of Yggdrasil. And as quickly as they entered they exited.

Loki stumbled, light headed in exhaustion, exerting that much magic certainly took its toll. But it was worth it.

He teleported them right on the Bifrost. Terrific. The Bifrost, instead of gleaming in radiant color, looked sun-faded and dim.

"Whoaaaaaaa It's so pretty! This is your home Uncle Loki?! Can Lord Sesshomaru, Jaken, Ah-Un and I live here too?" Rin hopped around a bit and Romanoff tried her best not to look too impressed.

"Asgard is a place for the Aesir, and my home no longer. You can visit. Sho has, though I cannot say he particularly enjoys it here." Loki murmured, guard on high alert. Thor strode out first, cape like a flag in the breeze. He looked every bit a Prince of Asgard in that singular moment.

A prince of a land he once wanted to rule, but no longer belonged in.

"Let's go friends!" Thor smiled and whether or not Rin sensed his unease, reached up and held his hand as they walked towards the resplendence that was Asgard. Loki squeezed her hand reassuringly.

"Loki, they must have spotted us by now, is the lack of a welcome wagon normal?" Romanoff asked cautiously. Loki knew she was armed but he didn't want to know with what or where it was located.

"Unsure. the last time I came here, I wasn't welcome." Loki wryly answered. Just then Sif and the Warriors Three appeared in the distance and ran to their location on the Bifrost. Loki stiffened, he would rather not have yet another fight on the blasted Bifrost.

"Hello Hogun, Fandral, Volstagg, Sif! So great to see you all again. I brought news, Loki and friends from Midgard!" Thor waved. Romanoff next to him steadied herself on high alert and slipped quickly in front of Loki, behind Thor.

Curiously, Rin also did the same, she had an unfamiliar serious look on her face. It took Loki a second to realize she was mimicking Romanoff. Loki reeled back, reminding himself that Rin was no ordinary mortal girl, and that she most likely needed a strong female authority figure to emulate.

The warriors ran up to Thor, their faces were friendly, but their hand were on their weapons.

"We have orders to apprehend Loki, God of Lies! You must step aside mortal." Hogun announced, gesturing to Romanoff. She didn't move an inch and had a 'make me' look stamped on her face.

"Thor, thank you for retrieving him!" Fandral wasted no time. Romanoff peeled off and stepped in front of them.

"Hello, we have not been properly introduced. I am Agent Romanoff, SHIELD shadow operative and fellow Avenger with Golden Boy over there. We didn't bring Loki back to put him in his cell. Loki brought us here to discuss a time sensitive matter with Odin." Romanoff introduced herself with a cool professionalism.

"I'm sorry Miss Romanoff you must be unaware that Loki is a fugitive! A malicious Demon conjured him from his cell!" Volstagg pointed a large finger at Loki who just rolled his deep green eyes.

'No Volstagg, Romanoff, one of the most intelligent mortals in all of Midgard, who fought with Thor against me on Midgard, didn't know I was a fugitive.' Clint's sarcasm had rubbed off on Loki.

By the nines Thor's friends use some critical thinking training.

"He is cunning and silver-tongued. You can't believe his words." Fandral said and Sif grabbed her twin blade and Rin immediately ran forward beside Romanoff, bone high. Sif tilted her square face down to the girl in utter astonishment at the apparent challenge.

'By the nines, Sesshomaru how do you handle her?' Loki thought in terror.

"Uncle Loki is a good person! And my Lord is no thief. He didn't kidnap Uncle Loki, he escaped himself! You don't scare Rin! You are all a bunch of bullies and I won't let you hurt him." Rin slammed her bone down on Fandral's foot and immediately barrel rolled way preparing another stance. Loki's jaw relaxed in surprise, Thor's friends could take notes from Rin's skills in perception.

Fandral winced and shook out his foot. Thor bellowed in good hearted laughter which positively annoyed the four warriors.

"Who is this barbarian girl?!" Sif reared back as if Rin was some sort of creature.

"Her name is Rin, and if you think of touching one hair on her head, I'll break you down so you can fit in my carry-on luggage." Romanoff bit cooly, and Rin gave her a thumbs up. Loki smirked as Sif took a half step back, as if judging how a mere mortal could achieve such a feat.

Loki had no doubt Romanoff could find a way.

"When I grow up I want to be as strong as you!" Rin smiled cheekily and Romanoff leaned back with her mouth in a small 'o'. Clearly Romanoff hadn't anticipated having such an effect on Rin. She better monitor her actions well.

"Fine job Lady Rin! Friends, listen to Lady Romanoff and Lady Rin, they speak no falsehoods. My brother has come to inform Asgard of a great threat. Come with haste, we must seek audience with Allfather." Thor's voice carried authority and suddenly Hogun turned on him, readying his mace. Thor's eyes widened in shock his trusted friend would draw his weapon on him. Loki could easily tell Thor was torn and hurt and it secretly irked Loki.

"...Thor you defend this felon and fugitive?" Hogun's voice high with disbelief. Volstagg backed up the smaller Vanir, shifting his weight like a wrestler would surveying a strong opponent.

"I represent my brother, and he is no felon! I intend to clear Loki's name with Allfather. Furthermore, I did not apprehend him. With the Bifrost drained of power only my brother has the prowess to navigate Yggdrasil to bring us here!" Thor explained, voice dark and looming. Loki could see his brother truly needed smarter friends. Yes, Hogun, please explain how Thor could teleport all of us here.

Yet, Loki thinned his lips. Thor speaking such impossibilities as clearing his name would only spur a more defensive reaction from his dimwitted friends. It wasn't worth attempting, the impending invasion is what truly mattered.

"And since Loki also brought us here, wouldn't it be logical to deduct that he also escaped prison on his own volition? Not that some Demon on Earth managed to spirit him away from prison here in Asgard? I understand you have orders, but they've been rendered obsolete." Romanoff crossed her arms and Rin next to her nodded, her little ponytail bobbing.

Pause.

"I will not let you cloud my mind! He murdered many mortals and lured in the Jotuns! I am not about to let you make another mistake regarding Loki!" Volstagg bellowed and charged, axe high towards the tightly clustered group and Loki went to intercept him. Whatever anger Volstagg had to take out on him he could easily suffer through. Thor hesitated for the slightest of moments.

Romanoff did not.

From her back pocket she removed a small canister, held one hand over Rin's eyes and pressed down the button.

Volstagg flailed back in a strangled cry from the spray, dropping his axe and groaning.

SHEILD's military grade mace. Simple but effective.

"Ahhh! I'm blind! The mortal woman has blinded me! Thor what friends are these?!" Volstagg yelled out, doubled over and Sif went on the offensive, twin blade singing through the air only to be blocked by Thor.

Thor didn't hesitate this time, but the fact he hesitated the first time spoke volumes to him. The mortal woman, whose best friend he mind-controlled, acted to defend him before his supposed brother.

"I will not permit you to hurt my brother any longer!" Thor lost his cool and threw Sif's arm back roughly. Rebuked, Sif's eyes burned and she turned to Fandral who had yet to assume an offensive stance with his rapier.

Romanoff removed her hand from Rin's eyes and reached to a compartment in her bag almost completely unnoticed, eyes steady on Fandral in front of her and Hogun to her left.

"...alright Thor let's be off." Fandral conceded, usually the smartest one of the four if that meant anything. Loki thanked the Nines Thor finally got through to one of them.

"You cannot be serious Fandral! We have orders to apprehend him and when the Bifrost mends to collect that Demon!" Sif nearly pulled hair out of her head. Loki blinked, his father ordered the Warriors Three and Sif to apprehend Sesshomaru?

Did they seriously wish for their deaths so ardently? Surely Odin must recall how strong Sesshomaru is, the four of them would be no match for Sho, even on their best day.

"The sky is blue, the sea is too, don't mess with my Lord, or he'll beat you!" Rin sing-songed and raised her bone again, only this time Loki stopped her from attacking. They really did have to be on their way, and he liked his head where it was, and not on Odin's plate.

"Little one, your Demon Lord would not fare well against the us Warriors Three and Lady Sif!" Fandral bragged, his hand on Volstagg's shoulder who was slowly recovering. Loki coughed and sputtered and Romanoff bit her lip, sizing up each of the three with extreme skepticism.

"No good friend, he would surely slay you all." Thor stated serious as a thunder clap. All three turned to Thor eyes wide. Thor had never expressed doubt at their fighting abilities before. "He is the same Demon from the tournaments long ago! You must remember Son of Taisho, Lord Sesshomaru." Thor explained and Loki stifled a laugh from the pale look on Sif's face. Volstagg's jaw dropped and Fandral swallowed. Hogun clenched his fists.

"The silver haired, elven looking one with the moon upon his brow and the green toxic claws? The same sadistic Demon who decapitated a Vanir in a friendly Melee Tournament?! Of course, it would make sense Loki would somehow bring 'him' back." Hogun grit his teeth. Loki's eyes widened, he had not known that. Hogun, being a Vanir, would hold that against Sho.

"You leave out the part of the tale that the Vanir smuggled throwing daggers into the ring, a clear violation of rules. Let's not dally, come now brother and friends of Asgard and Midgard!" Thor defended and gleefully motioned forward and Volstagg, Hogun and Sif reluctantly, and warily, followed. Loki felt a bit of warmth light his chest that Thor approved of Sesshomaru's sense of honor.

"So Glow Stick what's your play? I doubt it's the Hulk this time." Romanoff whispered, Rin led them pumping her bone in the air as if leading a parade.

"I have erred on the side of improvisation and creativity." Loki replied calmly, no sense lying to Romanoff.

"You don't have any idea do you?" Romanoff's expression dropped.

"Right now, I'm trying to ensure Odin doesn't eat Thor's and my hearts." Loki pointed to Rin "Worry not dear Spider, they don't call me silver-tongue for nothing." Loki reassured, but he could tell she was left wanting.

They walked the rest of the way in a strained, eerie silence. Asgard appeared deserted, not even a bird sang. Perhaps everyone waited in hiding to witness his complete demise. It didn't matter really.

Loki's palms started to sweat and he fidgeted with his armor. He struggled with smothered pangs of ancient nostalgia, cold dread, and gut-churning unease. Loki knew, deep down, this could not be his home ever again. Well, if it ever truly was his home in the first place. Too much had transpired, too many secrets, mistakes, and lies. Some he responsible for, some Thor, some Odin.

Not to mention the humiliating, body breaking, mind numbing torture, but who was really counting?

'Am I truly just some war trophy? Was I even abandoned? Did Odin ever consider me family? Was I only just a pawn in a game to ensure Thor reached the gilded throne with a younger brother to advise him? Did Odin even have desires for my own destiny?' Loki's questions strung themselves in a tangle.

Is it ironic that the God of Lies is a Lie himself?

He should have noticed sooner that he never quite belonged in Asgard, that he wasn't a true Aesir. That he was the monster that all Aesir feared, something always rejected. Something that of course, didn't belong to their society, much less their idea of something to be looked up to as a Prince.

Not only was he a Jotun, a Frost Giant parading about in an Aesir glamour, but his very mind also now existed as an incomplete and flawed mess. There was something very wrong with him, with all that he was. He wasn't just a mistake, he was a mistake that someone shattered and put back together all wrong.

'Doomed from the start, then tossed aside only to be broken down. The abomination I am now, a broken blade like me shouldn't exist.' Loki gulped, eyes pricking with a hint of water and magic. He just had to hold it together for the next few months, to keep himself, the biggest lie of all, a secret.

They reached the marbled throne room sooner than he anticipated. Nothing to note occurred on the walk, it was as if the entirety of Asgard had avoided him. As he expected, nothing prepared him for seeing Odin again, on high with Gungnir shining and imposing. Loki fought the rattling of his lungs.


 

The guards, dressed in Asgard's finest armor held him down, not unlike they did when Sesshomaru's Demon Blood took over and slew the other five Aesir. Though Sesshomaru didn't live to save him this time.

The kick to the ribs was expected, even anticipated over what was to come. This blunt pain was nothing new. A butt of a spear to the temple blackened the vision in his left eye and his mouth flooded with a familiar metallic tang. He laughed and spat the blood across the marble floor and onto the guard's boots.

"Good morning, or is it evening? One can't be too sure." Loki flashed a red toothed grin and received another kick to the stomach causing another round of cackling from the God of Lies.

"You know what it will take this time, to prevent us from reporting back to Odin that you've been disagreeable. You don't want that do you?" The guard sneered and Loki found his voice again, still chuckling.

No. he most certainly didn't want that, but of course not for the reasons anyone in Asgard thought.

"No, let's be on with it." He got to his knees and licked his lips automatically, tasting more iron. He knew exactly what the guards wanted, again.


 

He pursed his lips, a cacophony of emotions sounded in him, rage, shame, dread, fear, anxiety, spite, despair, hope, desperation. Loki suddenly shrank and his hands quivered. He could never stand tall enough in front Odin. His one eye watched him like a frog would a fly.

The only thing stopping him from freezing all together was a teary-eyed, exhausted Frigga descend with haste down the grand flight of stairs.

"Father, Mother! It is good to see you both and good to be home! Brother has brought me here, as well as our friends from Midgard." Loki didn't dare even breathe incorrectly. His green eyes darted from Odin to his mother who unabashedly maneuvered her way through the Warriors Three to him.

"My son!" And Loki froze stiff when she threw her arms around him. He barely had the sense to put his arms robotically around her. Lightly returning the embrace, he stood shell shocked. He didn't foresee this particular reaction from her. His stomach flipped. The last he saw of her almost two years ago, she dimly shook her head, heavy with disappointment. Even after Odin took his familial lineage from him. His name. His identity. She called him son.

She actually called him son. She addressed him before Thor!

Frigga leaned back, pouring over Loki only the way a mother could, even running her thin fingers through his dark hair.

"…Mother." he dared say in front of Odin. "It's true, I have returned, with friends." He breathed, proud his voice sounded more sure than did, much like when he pretended to be Sesshomaru. 'Hold yourself together Loki, there is much at stake here.'

"I can see. Hello I'm Queen Frigga, you must be Rin correct?!" Frigga leaned over some to Rin who was standing beside her with her bone ready. Rin relaxed, however, when she saw her warm smile.

"Yes! My name Rin! May I draw you for my Lord Sesshomaru?" Rin asked getting her bag. Loki cut a gaze to his mother, how did she know of Rin? From the Bifrost? Had she heard them?

"Yes of course sweetie. Ah, and you must be Natasha Romanoff. Pleased to meet you." Frigga extended a regal hand and Romanoff accepted it without hesitation.

"Likewise, it's a pleasure." Romanoff responded softly. Loki quirked his eyebrows in confusion at his mother. 'Romanoff never used her first name introducing herself to Fandral.' Loki's eyebrows furrowed, had Frigga truly watched him on Midgard and said nothing to Odin?

"I've been watching you, come." Frigga whispered in Loki's ear and she led him up, past the hotly suspicious and unimpressed Warriors Three and Sif, to Thor who poised himself with palpable assurance that Loki undertook to mirror.

Odin gripped Gungnir and ever so slowly waved the grand spear to point its splendid point at Loki.

"Loki, you have much to explain. I have vowed to my dear Frigga that I would hear you out." Loki didn't even wince when Odin didn't call him son. Odin looked unimpressed and a more than a hair contemptuous.

"Odin, I have endeavored and solicited your ear on this matter for many a Midgard's moon. I now stand before you, not as your son, your fugitive, nor as your God of Mischief but as an emissary." Loki found his pace. He could do this. He straightened, he had a job to do. He had people to protect, in particular a most alluring archer.

"The Mad Titan Thanos' armada is encroaching Midgard for its complete desolation. Of this I am most keenly certain. It is for this, and only this, I implored you to summon the Demon Lord Sesshomaru to this time, not for any blade of lore." Loki continued and Odin shifted, the barest hint of skepticism and perhaps amusement danced in his eye. Loki saw this.

"I would not have risked his life for a reunion; no matter how assiduously I searched for him. I required him so he could prove to Thor and the Avengers of Midgard that I speak with deepest veracity when I say that the Mad Titan, Thanos, seeks to extinguish them and Asgard for the Tesseract and the Infinity Gauntlet." Loki finished, he was glad he wore his armor to his homecoming for it made him feel impervious to Odin's stony stare.

The Warriors Three and Sif, even Volstagg with his bloodshot, itchy eyes stilled like statues. The name The Mad Titan Thanos made even the mightiest of Aesir's chest clench.

"What proof do you have?" Odin finally spoke, voice deep and demanding.

"The weapon Stark used against them took out their primary fleet, but their secondary fleet stationed nearby remained unharmed. Their contingency plan, if my invasion were to fail, was to make with haste to Midgard. I learnt of their fleet size, maximum possible velocity and position during my time in the second in command's Battleship. While they may have the means of being undetected by even by Heimdall, with my magic embedded in the hull of their battleships, I can give Heimdall a small window of visibility." Loki nearly cracked when having to relive his time with The Other again. The wires, the blue. The glass. The broken blade.

Loki swallowed, his mind bled and struggled to staunch it. He had to stand clear and strong.

"Your magic is in the battleships? Loki tha—" Loki cut Romanoff with a wild, frenzied look. He couldn't handle telling her, or anyone about the Other's experiments just yet.

"Aye, Allfather, every action Loki has undertaken has been to relay this information to us and Midguard. We need only to seek Heimdall-" Thor began, voice sure and stance strong.

"Enough, Thor. I need time to think of this. Loki has much gall to request anything of Heimdall, as do you." Odin waved Thor off and was about to sternly reproach Loki when a small blur scampered between Thor and Loki. A ponytail wobbled back and forth.

Loki paled ivory white.

"Hello! I'm Rin, I drew you a picture! It's of my Lord Sesshomaru, Uncle Loki, Storm God, Jaken and I. We are all eating ice cream, well except Lord Sesshomaru of course. Uncle Loki's favorite is lime sherbet, Storm God's favorite is cookie dough, Jaken and I haven't decided yet. Clint, the archer, also likes green ice cream just like Uncle Loki but I didn't draw him. He is back on Earth waiting for us with my Lord. Do you have a favorite ice cream flavor?" Rin dug through her bag and showed Odin her picture. Odin's eye bugged out wide.

Loki had no idea what was about transpire, however he knew if Odin tried to harm her in any way imaginable his wrath would know no equal.

"Why is she here? What nonsense is this? Who are you, girl?" Odin looked past Rin to glare harshly at Loki. Romanoff was prepared, Loki spotted the collapsible, charged baton in the waistband of her motorcycle leggings.

"She meant no offense, she is just a child. Her name is Rin, she is my protégé and under my, and by proxy SHIELD's and the Avengers' protection. She wished to join me on this trip to travel, sketch, and train. She is Lord Sesshomaru's adopted daughter as well. She merely wishes to show her appreciation for your hospitality. We had thought you'd be receptive of an illustrated account of your sons' time on Earth." Romanoff squared up to Odin, her voice soft like satin, but Odin was not convinced. His grip tightened on Gungnir.

Oh no.

"The daughter of Lord Sesshomaru, that aloof, disrespectful Dog Demon?! The Son of the late Inu no Taisho, wielder of Sounga the most sinister sword in existence?! The very Demon you persuaded me into summoning here, who with his youki released you from your just sentence?! You tell me he adopted a mortal girl and you, Thor and Loki brought her here?" Odin's eyebrow rose and he banged Gungnir on the sparkling floor of the throne room in a shockwave. Rin put her hands over her ears from the deafening clanging noise.

'I hadn't remembered Odin having such an ill opinion of Sho and his father. It must be due to the Other reshaping my mind I suppose. How unfortunate Odin still believes Sho released me, not that I left on my own volition.' Loki's throat itched with green magic.

"Allfather, Son of Taisho did not free Loki from his imprisonment, Loki left under his own power. Son of Taisho merely wished for her to sketch Asgard." Thor defended and Odin's jaw clenched.

"You expect me, Odin, King of Asgard, to believe that the merciless Demon Lord, the one who decapitated a Vanir opponent in a melee tournament with his talons, merely wants her to here to draw a picture?" Odin's voice raised with Gungnir. Frigga moved towards him. Loki's eyes squinted in confusion, what was Odin implying?

"My Lord Sesshomaru isn't merciless! He saves people! He saved Jaken and I! He is a kinder person than you!" Rin balled her small wrists and reached back for her bone. Loki's pupils constricted in horror.

'No!' Loki shot a look to Romanoff who grabbed Rin's shoulders.

"Allfather, he only decapitated that Vanir because he smuggled weapons into the tournament, a clear viola—" Odin cut Thor off with a laser of a gaze and Gungnir began to glow an assortment of rainbowed ribbons of color. All marbled hues of visible light spectrum. Loki's senses jolted and sizzled from the Odinforce magic.

Loki readied himself on the balls of his feet and his arms out to the sides, fingers coiled in green magic.

He wouldn't last long against Odin, but he would last long enough.

"He is probably using her to scout Asgard, along with this mortal woman, her spy of a mentor. Loki is this all truly revenge against me?! You had me summon this Demon here and you two plan on taking over Asgard?!" Odin snapped, Odinforce magic crashing like radiant meteors all around them. Beautiful yet deadly, they left craters in the throne room floor and the Warriors Three, Sif and other guards all took cover from the outburst of magic.

Romanoff dove to the side and wrapped Rin up in her arms to shield Rin from a fatal meteor blow. Loki's instincts took over and he instantly flung out an emerald force field around the two mortals. He successfully deflected the blow and defied his former father in one singular act.

How dare he!

'How dare he think so low of Sesshomaru, of Romanoff, of Thor, an innocent mortal girl?! Was Odin always this paranoid? Has senility finally claimed his mind? No, I know what this is.' Loki seethed, biting his lower lip in percolating rage.

'It is irrationality to the highest degree, Odin's mind can only see me as a danger to Asgard. Nothing else.' Loki's magic churned in him and seeped out his eyes, smoking upwards. He strode out front, all pine-scented magic, brushed bronze, and dark green leather.

"Is your disgust, your distrust of me, so great it leeches into these innocents?!" Loki's green magic spiked, flashing like fireworks against the kaleidoscopic, dazzling Gungnir's meteors.

"Agent Romanoff fought valiantly against me years ago. Of this you know. She would never align herself alongside me unless I spoke the truth of this invasion, and certainly not to gain knowledge to attack Asgard! You also think Thor so dense to not see through such a transparent plot?! Thor is no one's fool!" Loki's green protection magic amplified, lacing the room like vines from his fingers. Loki didn't notice anyone, or anything except Odin, whose reaction was only to move Gungnir slightly.

"Sesshomaru has never enjoyed Asgard and certainly has no desire to rule it. It disappoints me that you think I value Sesshomaru's life so low to risk it for your paltry throne! I desire it no longer!" Loki's body buzzed as if it was filled with hornets and his pulse beat deep and steady like a drum.

"I desire Asgard's halls, fields, rivers or mountains as my home no longer!" Loki's verdant magic vines exploded outwards with barbed thorns, fingered leaves, and tight buds.

"Though I have suffered and strived to protect Asgard, it has ceased to be my homeland when I fell from the Bifrost. I have made my lamentable mistakes, but so have you! and I have paid dearly for mine!" Loki advanced towards Odin, tall, commanding, regal and strong. He embodied everything the Aesir thought they could only see in Thor.

"You made a costly one when you took a certain spoil of war back to Asgard from Jotunheim, with the sole intent to use me as a pawn to unite the two realms! Your second mistake was giving me the carrot that I could equal to Thor, when all I could or would be given was the stick. Your third was when you conspired to mold me into something I could never truly be!" Loki's voice crescendoed high, sounded strained with malice.

His vines now thickened, expanded and ensconced all around everyone in the throne room like a jungle out of Midgard's amazon. The thorns, leaves, and buds now glowed and turned towards Odin and Gungnir as if sentient.

Odin, half curious, pointed the mighty Gungnir at one of the buds and let loose a volley of magic, only for the rainbow hued meteors to be absorbed like a sponge.

"Sesshomaru was right, Asgard is but a trite façade. Your gilded throne has revealed itself as a sallow jester's stool when you turned your back on what you turned me into! When you told me what I truly was and then rejected me for all that I am!" Loki's eyes sparked and he forgot he wasn't supposed to stand a chance against Odin.

His own magic buds on the vines burst open as lustering, trumpeted flowers.

Brimming with emerald orbs and mist, the flowers' pollen surrounded and overpowered the Odinforce magic, condescending it back into Gungnir like a glowing, emerald snare. The thorns shot out like javelins, creating a spiked barricade around him and Odin, containing the rest of the Odinforce magic.

The magic thrummed through Loki's veins like strummed lute strings and as soon once the last vestiges of the Odinforce magic retreated back into the Gungnir the flowers wilted and the barricade vanished. As if the magic knew it was a success itself, and not just its wielder, the vines shrunk, retracting back would back into Loki's fingers and eyes. Loki's breath came out deep and sure.

'That was…different. Astonishing. How was I able to defeat the Odinforce?! It controls all magic! My magic flows from it! I...' Loki then noticed everyone staring at him. Rin smiling giving him a thumbs up, Romanoff calculating, face trained to hide her disbelief. Thor turned to him, jaw slack. Frigga had her hands clasped together in front of her mouth, hiding a prideful smile.

Odin shook, eye wide with it trained on Gungnir as if it betrayed him personally. The air in the room still smelled acutely of pine.

"Most importantly." Loki confidently continued. "Rin is my niece and merely eight Midgardian years old. She only wanted to show you her artwork, and you have disgraced yourself in rejecting her gift." Loki took a deep breath and rolled his neck and shoulders, regaining a more composed posture, running an adrenaline fueled hand through his long hair.

Pause.

"Natasha, if Odin didn't like ice cream he could have just said so." Rin muttered. Romanoff cracked a smile, stepping from in front of her, to beside her. She studied the contemplative, if not surprised Odin. Loki walked briskly to Rin and picked her up with ease.

"Guards, escort Loki and the mortals to his chambers!" Odin bellowed his order, delayed. Frigga watched, as her son, his niece, and his friend, with heads high, stride away into the castle, towards Loki's old room, which remained as it was before everything crashed down around them. Frigga let loose a long deep breath she didn't realize she had been holding and tears streamed down her face in relief.

"This is the man I know; this is my son." Loki barely caught Frigga's murmur and he smiled widely.

"Ok, for once Glow Stick, your flare for dramatics got us out of trouble, rather than into trouble. Nice job." Romanoff admitted, patting Loki on his back like they had known each other for years. Well, they had, but not in a familiar way.

"Oh, the battle has just begun Romanoff. My little display in there has most likely incensed Odin to turn a blind eye, no pun intended, to our cause. Like your Midgardian film, Star Wars, I am Princess Leia, and our dear Thor is Obi wan Kenobi, he is our only hope." Loki managed a wry smile, with his fists clenched.

"Well, you better hope he is Obi Wan and not Luke, Luke and Leia did have a kissing scene in that movie." Romanoff jabbed and Loki closed his eyes, face palming.

"Thor and I have never entertained such—" Loki, appalled and exasperated, was cut off by Romanoff.

"Well, when you were Sesshomaru, it sure sounded like Thor may have at one time entertained such ideas with your best friend. I wonder if Pretty Boy—" Loki put a finger up, cheeks blazing red.

"That, you promised me, you would never bring up again! I refuse to visualize Sho and Thor in that fashion!" Loki felt his green magic eddy again in his fingers, including the one he held up to Romanoff. The two unaware that Rin had intently listened to their conversation.

"You guys are silly. Lord Sesshomaru likes chocolate way more than cookie dough." Rin sing-songed and the two adults looked down at her, shocked by her sagacity.

Because they both knew it was true. Thor was cookie dough ice cream….chocolate was Tony Stark.

"Well, Princess Leia, you don't fall for Luke, spoiler alert. Though I think I know who you do fall for." Romanoff motioned a bow shooting an arrow and Rin giggled. Loki would have paused in his stride if the guards behind him would have allowed it.

Romanoff wasn't implying that. There was no way, she simply referenced that silly cupid myth.

That had to be it.

Chapter Text

Clint and the Doldrums

*(*

Clint thought the next two days were going to be dull and he was OK with that. He could use some dull, uneventful days in his life. He could kick back, watch some ice hockey games, get some quality alone time…it would be great.

But, instead, he just stewed.

No Thor using his football coach voice inside and threatening crabs. No Nat, the person he was actually closest with, to make sarcastic and snarky comments to. No Rin running absolutely everywhere, driving Jaken crazy, and giving everyone smiles and ice cream. No sphinx-like, tricky, obscure, and downright bizarre God of Mischief plaguing his existence with verbal games and thirsty side glances.

Clint, thinking of Loki, was thrown back to their conversation at the bar two nights ago, before they all left for Asgard.


 

Tony, ostentatiously, bought out the bar out for the night. Clint at first only thought he did so Fancy Pants wouldn't absolutely die of acute social anxiety, or maim a drunken idiot. But Clint then had a feeling he also did it so Loki could stay looking like Loki, not having to hide.

And maybe also to just show off his billionaire status. It did get under Steve's skin.

One of the first things he did when he got to the bar, since Fancy Pants was avoiding and ignoring both Tony and Loki, was ask him to play darts. The 'I don't play games because I'm big, bad, better than you Demon Lord' actually eyed the dartboard. Clint knew he had him hooked.

But, then of course Tony got his attention by literally coming in between them, handing Sesshomaru a Singapore Sling he had mixed 'special' for him.

To Clint's mild surprise Sesshomaru studied the cherry flavored cocktail and after about ten seconds even chanced a sip. Clint sniggered to himself that the Demon was still as paranoid as ever. Paranoid over what he wasn't quite sure.

Clint was like, ninety percent sure Tony wasn't trying to take advantage of a drunk Demon Lord and pry out any information out of him. Could Demons even get drunk? He had a hard time picturing Fancy Pants anyway but perfectly composed.

Clint had a fishy feeling that something had happened between Tony, Loki, and Fancy Pants because Tony was trying extra hard to get him in one-on-one conversations. Loki was just eyeing them from afar, probably scheming something in the same leagues of Voldemort. Clint was relieved for once it didn't involve him.

Clint decided to let Tony do his thing, except not. He picked up a dart and threw it between Fancy Pants and Tony hitting the center of the bullseye.

Challenge presented.

Fancy Pants picked up a dart quicker than a snake strike and threw it, hitting the same place on the bullseye, just angled differently. Sesshomaru's eyes never left Tony's, and Clint was pretty sure that was intentional.

Challenge accepted.

Oh yeah, this was going to be a good game. Clint picked up another dart and on cue immediately felt a pair of eyes burn through the nape of his neck like the arctic sun. Well, that had to be Loki.

'What a brat. Didn't he torment me enough at dinner? Does he really want a round two? Well, I suppose he is going back to Asgard, the place where his family sat back and let him get tortured for a few years. He can't be but so excited about that. In fact, he is probably a simmering stress case. Maybe I shoul—' Clint's thoughts were cut off by Steve and Bruce approaching, curious.

"Hey you two show offs should let some people with non-freak show projectile skills have a shot." Tony coughed, and Clint finally put two and two together. If Fancy Pants really had his hair in a knot over Tony, then if they didn't make nice now the next two days were going to be utterly irritating. Damnit Tony Stark had ruin his fun.

"Yeah, knock yourselves out. Gotta save myself something to do for the next couple of days." Clint went up to the dartboard and removed the two expertly placed darts. Clint inspected their impeccable placement.

Yup, Fancy Pants and he would definitely have to face off at some point.

He placed the darts in Steve's hand who gave Tony a 'how did I get involved?!' look. Psychically, Bruce took one from Steve, probably picking up on the tense attitude coming from Tony and Fancy Pants.

Clint grabbed his drink and had made his way over to Loki before he even realized he made the conscious decision to do so.

"So, how you feeling about going back home? You know there are some pretty good fugitive movies you could watch to give you some tactical advantages." Clint swirled his whiskey ginger with his stirrer. He didn't drink liquor a lot, but when he did he liked to keep it simple, and just a touch sweet. Loki, seated next to him at the bar, with a dry gin martini, turned to him, eyes unfocused.

Of course he and Fancy Pants drank the same liquor, gin.

"It matters not how I feel, Clint. It simply must be done, and I am the only one who can do it." Loki took a small sip of his martini and Clint rolled his eyes.

"Oh yeah, here I thought I could have a conversation with you that wasn't as dramatic as a soap opera. Level with me." Clint straightened up, mirroring a gulp of his highball. Loki turned to him, eyebrows raised.

"Well then." Loki turned and abruptly stood, and for a shocked moment Clint thought Loki would leave. "Allow me to level with you in a different manner. I suspect you must be at least someone decent at pool billiards." Loki took the toothpick from his martini and with perfect teeth plucked an olive from it. Clint rolled his eyes at the intimidation tactic. While he wasn't as good at pool as darts his older brother had taught him well.

"…you want to play me in 8 ball? Well, it's a smarter choice than darts I can tell you." Clint pointed his thumb to Steve and Bruce playing, grabbing his drink and standing.

Clint realizing, though he stood tall, Loki stood just an inch or two taller. He really should have noticed that when sparring, but he noticed it now when they stood facing each other not trying to knock each other's block off.

"Oh, I know my limits and to not challenge you to that particular contest of skill. Yes, let us have a contest of 8 ball. We may even play in teams if you wish, you may pick your partner." Loki looked positively stoked. Clint wondered when the last time Loki played a game was, well a game that wasn't a scheme, or some sort of fight. Loki conjured pool balls in the air, spinning like planets around the cue ball like in a solar system.

'Yeah sure, play the magical God in pool. Sounds like a fair fight.' Clint scanned the bar. Sesshomaru now stood at the end of the bar completely cornered by an unexpectedly sober Tony playing bartender, asking him all about god knows what.

Poor guy.

Fancy Pants and Tony were out, he doubted Sesshomaru's talons would be good for the pool table anyway. Bruce and Steve were already playing darts, poorly. He didn't have the heart to tell them they were doing it all wrong. That left Nat and Thor who were discussing the mission to Asgard tomorrow.

Clint then knew Loki meant to trap him into choosing one of the two.

But which one should he choose? Was this one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't puzzles? Clint took another sip of his drink. There was only one clear option.

"Hey Thor, wanna be my partner in 8 ball?! Loki said he wants to challenge you!" Clint could hear the steam of anger rise from Loki's ears, Clint turned to him, wagging his head to side to side smiling from ear to ear. Clint didn't know what he did to make him so mad, but it totally jazzed him.

"Hark! Brother! A friendly Midgardian sport will be most marvelous. I must confess I have never competed in this sport before Hawk's eye but I have been known to be a most swift learner!" Clint's expression fell. Of course Thor would have no clue what billiards is. Oh well, it was worth it to see Loki go bananas.

"I call Glow Stick. Team 'Spy-Voltage' is going down." Nat stood, not even waiting for Loki to say anything. Clint turned to Loki, who, now looked more intrigued and less fussy. Such a bizarre guy, err God.

"Oh Nat, don't tell me you're now doing Tony's bad puns. Besides if we are doing team names, then we are team…" Clint tried to think of something with wings and badass, then remembered that back in the Quinjet they did compare Fancy Pants and Loki to Harry Potter characters. "…Team Griffindor. And we're going to top shelf the both of you. Right Thor?" Clint nudged Thor and he raised his mug of beer.

"It's ok, Team Slytherin will go easy on you, a quick and mostly painless defeat." Nat responded, it was then Clint noticed exactly what he managed to do. He paired up the two slyest, sneakiest, and trickiest people he knew: Loki and Nat.

'You made this so much worse Clint. Forget Fancy Pants, those two working together could be world ending.' Clint strode to the cues, and picked two up that looked somewhat straight, handing one to Thor. He could feel green eyes on him as Loki placed the balls on the table, beginning to rack them.

"Oh, yes Romanoff, our victory is assured. How about a friendly wager?" Loki's toned shoulders rocked fluidly back and forth, setting the balls in the rack in proper position. The motion raked across Clint's brain like a scalp massage, as if Loki was beckoning him. Clint took another sip of drink watching Loki finally rock back and straighten. No way was he agreeing to a bet like that.

It screamed trap.

"Aye! Brother another splendid idea! On Asgard, whoever wins earns the power to beseech a request of the other party!" Thor, inside voice long forgotten, announced taking a big gulp of his beer. Clint swallowed an ice cube whole. 'Thor of all the dumb ideas…' Clint was about to speak up when he heard Nat.

"Deal. We accept. We will even let you break." Nat responded immediately and Clint put down his drink on the rail lining the wall and spread his arms wide to Thor in a classic 'Really man?!' stance. Loki's cackling filled the bar.

"I'm glad my opinion was taken into consideration. You're still losing, I'm gonna turn Thor into a poolhall junkie." Clint pointed his cue waving it between Nat and Loki, both grinning knowingly. Thor bounced a bit, apparently just happy to be playing with his brother.

'Oh. It is that simple for Thor. He just wants to play with his brother. Well, I am going to at least help him make it competitive.' Clint went up to the head of the pool table, sizing up his break.

Clint quickly went over the rules of the game for Thor, who knows maybe even for Loki.

"Alright, just remember Thor, it's a game of finesse and accuracy, so feel free to tone down your bowflex biceps." Clint leaned over, noticing Loki standing at his twelve o'clock, observing him break like a tiger. No way would Clint let Loki get in his head. Clint lined up his break, jacked back, and speared forward. The cue ball hit the triangle of colored ones with a satisfying crash of clacks. Clint's brown eyes lit up when he saw the eleven, the nine, and the three ball all sink.

"Ok, so Thor, we are going to be stripes." Clint advised and Thor stood next to Loki, who magicked his martini from the bar, lifting it up in Clint's direction. Clint ran his hand along the rail, searching for a shot. He lined up a tough shot, but the only real shot, on the fifteen, and jabbed forward, sinking it. Clint grinned, but lost his grin when he missed an easy shot on the fourteen soon after.

"Ok Glow stick, let's show them how it's done." Nat moved to take her turn, quickly lining up a shot on the two, sinking it in the side pocket to tie it up. She missed her next shot on the seven, but barely. Nat had gotten a little rusty since he last played her. Did he play her last in Astana, Kazakhstan maybe?

"I shall prove my mettle Hawks-eye!" An overzealous Thor circled the table, spotting an easy shot on the thirteen, revealed by Nat's missed shot. Clint watched as Thor carefully lined up the shot, pulling back on the cue and pushed forward.

The cue ball rocketed off the table and punched through the wall, just wide of Nat's head.

Pause.

"Mettle proven Thor. Maybe, next time use a putter." Clint took a sip of his drink as Loki patched the hole in the wall, and conjured a new cue ball. Nat side stepped around the table, eyes narrowed at Thor. The crunch of the cue ball through the dry wall attracted the attention of Bruce and Steve, who filtered over.

"And here I thought you didn't want a war with Midgard, Thor." Nat flipped her pool cue a few times and Thor shot up.

"'Twas but a warning shot!" Thor flashed a smile that would make Nat, if she were any other woman, or even a man, toss their panties.

Clint chuckled, as Nat had no choice but to basically forgive him.

Loki, despite cleaning up another one of his brother's messes, which usually really set him into a tail-spin, smirked.

Loki levitated the cue ball above his hand, debating on where to place it. He must really be getting a kick out of beating Thor at something.

"This is a good spot I think." Loki moved next to Clint, brushing past his back which Clint could have avoided him but decided against it. He didn't look into why he didn't avoid his touch. He just didn't move. Laziness. Pure laziness.

Clint caught a whiff of Loki's magic, and a wave of nostalgia hit him. Loki smelled just like Christmas. How had he never noticed before? Was he just too angry or distracted?

Loki bent over, dark hair almost touching the felt of the table as he lined up his shot. Clint noticed he chose one of the most difficult shots on the table despite having ball in hand. Clint studied Loki as he fluidly, like a jaguar, bent over, back flat and straight. His arm jacked back and the cue poked forward elegantly.

The six ball, of course it had to be green, smoothly rolled into the side pocket. Loki immediately straightened and smiled brightly. Clint stilled, did Loki just genuinely smile?

"Brother, a fine shot!" Thor beamed, finishing his beer. Loki gave him a 'yes I know' face. Clint splayed his hands in the air.

"Thor, you do realize that we're the ones on a team, right?" Clint weighed the possibility of Thor losing on purpose, but then realized Loki would know and be upset about it.

"Ah, the five next." Loki swayed from side to side languidly, contemplating his shot before leaning over, lips pursed in concentration. Clint frowned, unfortunately, his angle and his aim were right on.

Loki sunk the five. He was damned good, like he had been doing this for a while.

"So how do you know billiards and not Thor?" Clint finally questioned, Loki looked up from the table, expression like a sphinx, locking onto Clint.

"It may surprise you, but I've spent more time on Midgard than Thor." Loki, distracted, lined up his second shot on the four and missed.

Clint sighed with relief; he could rally. It probably should have surprised him, but the difference in their speech patterns made it apparent. Though Clint did wonder why he did spend more time on Earth. He doubted Fancy Pants and Loki played billiards while 'treasure questing'.

Clint circled around, avoiding grazing past Thor. He had a good shot on the thirteen, then from there probably the twelve, if he was lucky, the ten. That would leave them with only the fourteen, and Loki and Nat with the one, the four, and the seven.

"Aye, Loki spent many decades on Midgard especially after all the De—" Thor began and was hit by barb of Christmas scented green magic, silencing him. His mouth moved but no words came out, like one of those dying Furbys his niece, Chloe, had once.

Clint twisted around to an alarmed Loki. With eyebrows raised, he ran a finger across his throat in a clear 'cut it out' action.

Oh c'mon Loki…

Nat and Clint looked back to Thor in confusion. Loki released his magic and Thor coughed and continued. "—Divine festivities on Asgard bored him." Thor recovered, and Loki relaxed. Obviously that was not what Thor originally wanted to say.

"You both are a walking daytime drama." Clint shook his head, lined up his shot and sunk the thirteen with ease. Take that! Clint wound around the table again. His hip not so accidentally, swishing across Loki's. He lined up his shot on the twelve, pocketing it in the side as well.

"You've got some skill at this game as well, Clint." Loki purred from behind him and Clint fought the instinct to snap up. Loki had been so close to him the hairs on his neck were tickled by the fan of his breath.

"Yeah, my brother Nate taught me…and there wasn't exactly a lot to do in Iowa." Clint managed a bittersweet smile, remembering his older brother's lessons. Clint zoned back to shrug off the tingling feeling in his spine from Loki. He lined up his shot on the ten, sinking it third in the corner pocket. Clint raised up from the table, Nate would be proud of that hard shot.

He caught Loki roving over his chest like a tailor measuring him for a suit, as if sensing his hidden somber mood. Clint lined up a defensive shot and hit the fourteen off the bumper, having no real shot.

"I don't know Clint, you could, well, go to the state fair." Nat jabbed good-heartedly, making a theater joke to alleviate his mood. She knew about Nate. She gracefully lined up her shot up on the one, a tough one, and sunk in the side pocket. She flitted around to the other side, next to Thor, and downed the four.

Damn, this wasn't looking good. Clint crossed his fingers secretly as he saw Nat miss the seven, ricocheting off to a good position for Loki for his inevitable ball in hand.

"Alright Thor, just focus on keeping the ball on the table. Think…dainty." Clint suggested and Thor furrowed his eyebrows.

"Aye hawk's eye, dainty like a…stag. A violet, toaster-pastry eating one." Clint bit his lip from laughing at the jab towards Loki.

Loki sighed dramatically, muttering something to Nat under his breath that made her lips tilt.

Thor bent down, lining up a shot on the fourteen. This time they made sure no one was opposite Thor for his shot. Clint didn't even bother looking. But when he heard a clack he pricked his head up.

The fourteen rolled hit the rail and almost into the pocket, blocking the eight.

"Nice! You set up a good defensive play." Clint went up for, what Thor would appreciate, a high five. Thor took it graciously.

"Better than your first shot, which might not be saying much." Steve congratulated. Loki straightened, looking serious. By this time Sesshomaru had managed to escape Tony's interrogation and moved around to the commotion placidly.

"I shall win the game here." Loki said without any hesitation, but without any excitement, concentration written across his brow.

'It's like he is playing with something to prove. What I have no idea, we already know is a damn good player.' Clint watched as Loki whipped the pool cue behind his back, sitting on the pool table, one long leg dangling, the other stretched out like a dancer's to the floor.

Clint then understood what Loki meant by his advantages in battle were flexibility. Clint's face heated up slightly from the thought of thinking of another man's, especially Loki's, flexibility. Loki sank the most difficult shot of the night on the remaining seven with style.

"You know Loki, if the whole Demi-God thing isn't your speed you can always become a pro billiards player." Bruce offered and Loki smiled, though his eyes stayed on Clint who took a sip of his watered down whiskey ginger, defensively.

"Oh, I don't think something like that is in the cards." Loki replied cryptically, again like a sphinx and lined up a bank shot on the eight. "Eight ball side pocket." He tapped the side pocket with his cue, leaned over, dark hair shining, jacked back and released.

The cue clicked against the eight, bouncing it off the proper bumper…only to stop just short.

"Close, but no cigar, Glow-Stick." Nat nodded, almost as if conceding defeat.

"It seems Thor and I have opposing problems." Loki admitted, with a small, disappointed twitch of his lips. Clint could tell by Loki's dim eyes and scrunched nose that he really wanted that win. But as much as wanting Loki to lighten up appealed to Clint, denying Loki a no-holds-barred bet over him appealed greater.

Clint lined up the easy shot on the fourteen, and sunk it finally. 'Take that cursed green ball, and your green ice cream too.' Clint grinned and cycled around to the eight, feeling all eyes on him.

'Oh yeah Clint, no pressure, if you miss Nat will surely get it.' Clint knew again it was a tricky shot. He had to just barely kiss the eight to make it in.

"Eight ball side pocket." Clint tapped the pocket and eyeballed the shot. Out of his periphery he saw Loki's flickering green eyes, smooth cream skin, and raven hair hunt him like a predator. Clint hair stood at attention on the back of his neck, but not from fear. He his skin prickled and his throat dried up. Even the air in his lungs went stale. The pressure was on; he would not let Loki mess with his game.

Attempting to ignore Loki, and failing miserably, he licked his lips and pulled back the cue and released it.

The cue ball went a hair wide, missing the eight ball entirely, landing in the corner pocket.

Clint winced, especially seeing Loki's eyes ignite once more.

'To lose scratching on the eight ball! Just my luck.' Clint slumped over the table in defeat and he heard Loki and Nat laugh, and by the sound of it, high five. Clint pushed back off the table, looking at Thor.

"It was a valiant effort Hawks-eye! Superb job dear brother and Lady Romanoff, to the victors go the spoils!" Thor raised his glass, Clint did the same, one day they would have a rematch.

"Team Slythrin reigns supreme." Nat quirked her full lips. Damn her, she just had to rub it in didn't she?

"Wait, we're still doing the Harry Potter thing? So, who are they?" Tony asked, voice clear, as if he had barely touched any liquor.

"They are Team Griffindor. You and Bruce would definitely be Ravenclaw, which…" Nat trailed off after figuring out who was left and which house they belonged to. "…Leaves Steve and Pretty Boy as Hufflepuff." Nat deducted. Tony pointed between Sesshomaru and Steve a few times, which caused Bruce to rub his temples. Steve looked a bit confused, Sesshomaru quirked an eyebrow, slicing a sickle of a gaze to Steve.

Clint leaned back against the pool table, knowing the whole Harry Potter thing got blasted out of proportion.

"Huh. Capsicle and Sailor Moon…on a team. Well, I think we all know which team wouldn't win 'best teamwork' trophy." Tony finally concluded. Steve shot an indignant glare his way.

"I must admit; they are not the most compatible team present. The ever amiable Captain and the imposing Demon." Loki said as he prowled around the pool table to stand next to Clint. Loki and Thor shared a knowing glance. Steve crossed his built arms and Sesshomaru's face looked stony, ears low.

Clint could catch on that neither Steve nor Sesshomaru particularly enjoyed being poked fun at. Especially since Fancy Pants, per usual, had no idea what they were talking about. He didn't even know if Steve had read or watched Harry Potter.

"Hmm yeah, the two most principled military officers I've met, and who have had to adapt to the 21st century, definitely have nothing in common." Clint defended, and Nat tilted her head to the side. That caused Tony's mirth to catch short, eyes trained on him like a laser sight. Steve straightened.

"Also the house that values hard-work, patience, loyalty, and honor sounds especially unlike them…. What?! My niece and nephew did the sorting hat thing!" Clint put his hands up in defense of the suspicious and confused stares sent his way. Yeah, a grown guy knows about Harry Potter, so what?! Sesshomaru, in the back, put his hand to his chin.

Pause.

"This Sesshomaru approves of this…team." Sesshomaru nodded slowly and Clint smiled noticing Steve's eyebrows shoot up.

Clint absorbed the moment, all of them having a good time. It was nice. And ironically, Hawkeye, never saw something like this coming. It felt strangely 'breakfast club-esque'.

"Let's pack it in so as Tony puts it, the 'Scamtastic Four', can head out." Bruce suggested, everyone downed whatever they had left of their drinks and slowly filed out.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Loki flash another genuine smile, and Clint so he wouldn't have to decide which facial expression to make, took another sip of drink only to find ice left.


 

Clint poured milk into his cereal bowl. He didn't hate waiting. As a trained sniper, more than half of his job included waiting. Now, though, he felt fidgety, and bored. Probably Loki's fault.

He already practiced archery down in the training room, already made Loki's music playlist. Clint, not as clever as naming things as Stark was, named it Mischief Music. It would do.

It also didn't help that he had another awkwardly disastrous conversation with Loki right before he left for Asgard. He honestly didn't mean to be such a dick to him. It just came out.

He also didn't expect it to eat at his gut like bad Chinese food. He never even really apologized for saying it. He didn't even mean it but he could tell by the stricken look that Loki's face blanked into that he took it to heart. It wasn't true, Loki did have a moral code. He went through hell to save Earth.

And Clint watched as he volunteered to waltz right back into hell.

He had suspected Loki hadn't him the truth about what Odin, Allfather, whoever, would do to him. It made his blood itch. Loki wasn't supposed to lie to him.

Almost out of spite, and to clear his own mind Clint, yesterday he asked Fancy Pants, under his breath, what Odin could, or would do to Loki.

His response chilled him from the outside of his ribs inward.

"Odin is capable of swift and lasting cruelty. If he so chose, he could curse, condemn, or even kill Loki with ease." Sesshomaru stated as if he asked him for the score of last night's hockey game.

"You think he'd really kill Loki?" Clint hadn't expected such a concrete heavy response.

"Odin is blind. In two days' time we will learn if he is also deaf." Sesshomaru's glacial tone pricked the hairs on the backs of his triceps.

"What if he doesn't listen? What if they come back without Loki?" Clint asked and he monitored the composed demon lord as his talons twitched.

"Then one way or another, Odin will feel Bakusaiga's steel against his aging throat." Sesshomaru promised voice smooth as silk and Clint believed his words.

So he was an inexcusable jerk to someone whose father may kill him. Awesome.

He had a knack for unintentionally riling the God up, or knocking the wind from his sails.

The God of Mischief really didn't deserve it. Even though he would mess, annoy, stalk, surprise, and toy with Clint with on purpose. Again, why Clint had no idea. He didn't lavish anyone else with his downright weird attentions. Clint had mulled it over all yesterday, and decided it just had to be because of how much he learned about him through the scepter.

He told Loki, whether he wanted to or not, a lot about himself. Loki knew more about him than the other avengers, Clint figured. They spent the most time together, so it made sense that Loki would feel comfortable pushing his buttons more than anyone else.

It also didn't hurt that Clint probably had a healthy dose of patience for his borderline seductive antics. Well, most of his antics. The teleportation got him every damn time.

'Seriously, if that 'as theatre as Broadway' God teleports away from me mid-conversation again I'll find him and shoot him with a tracker arrow.' Clint vowed emptily.

It occurred to Clint, of course, after Loki left and after his sobering conversation with Sesshomaru that Loki hadn't probably sought him out just to annoy him, but also probably to ease his nerves.

Super Clint. Way to help the mission by kicking Loki when he was already down.

Yet, it wasn't the fact he may have potentially jeopardized the mission that gnawed at Clint's conscience. It was the fact he really didn't want to see Loki go through anything more than he already had.

It was also the blood thinning sensation that the conversation he had could be his last with Loki. That he might not come back.

Clint had no idea what to do with that jarring possibility. He tried to distract himself and pass the time, but time flowed as slow as molasses in an Iowa winter.

It didn't help everyone else had jobs to do. He and Nat decided for him to not contact Fury until she returned planet-side. Tony had his smarty-pants workshop, still messing around with his proximity barrier thing and the weaponized toxins, trying to make them test-status ready.

Bruce was helping him with the toxins, keeping him sane, preventing him from blowing something up, or all of the above.

'The toxins, to be honest, sound pretty damn awesome if I can put either of the two toxins on my arrows. Any advantage over thermos and the goon squad is much appreciated.' Clint took his breakfast of raisin bran to the balcony. 'Two scoops of raisins my ass.' The balcony was just too quiet.

Clint was sure Fancy Pants was off doing something mysterious with that toad of his. Yesterday they took off soon after the 'Scamtastic Four' left and still hadn't come back since yesterday. He didn't say where he was going which of course irritated 'I'm in everybody's business' Tony Stark.

'Well, no actually, more like, 'I'm in a certain Demon Lord's business' Tony Stark' Clint corrected himself.

'Come to think of it, I haven't seen Tony surface from his smarty pants workshop either. Definitely no coincidence there, with no Fancy Pants he needs something to do. Smarty Pants and Fancy Pants. Ha, I could do comedy.' Clint smiled at his own joke.

Clint wasn't too sure about Tony's borderline obsession with the guy. The fact this guy was a closed book probably just riled the hell out of him. Also that he couldn't get a rise out of the guy to save his life. But boy could Fancy Pants put him in orbit.

The same orbit that a certain God of Mischief could put Clint into. His muscles itched for a good work out as he remembered pulling Loki up off the floor of the gym, glistening, strong yet in that flash of a moment, vulnerable.

'I could use a good spar, but I guess I'll have to wait for Loki to come back. Because he will come back. No way would Thor let anything happen to Loki this time around. Or Nat. Then again Fancy Pants knew they were going with him…. No. Stay positive. Thor is the God of Thunder. He has Mjolnir and his father likes him. If Odin won't listen to Loki, he will listen to Thor. Or like I told Loki, if Odin tries something Fancy Pants and I will fight our way through Asgard. I do need my spar partner back.' Clint scowled at his soggy cereal. Raisin bran never stayed crisp for long.

'What Loki and I have, while a little counter-intuitive, works. It'd be a pain in my ass to explain how the Fight Club system to someone else, and not everyone likes my music even though it's great. Nat won't even listen to Kanye; she thinks he's totally a stuck up douchebag, which is beside the point.' Clint took a sip of lukewarm coffee. 'Good to the last drop my ass.' Clint sneered at his coffee. Ok, maybe he was a bit more than antsy. Maybe he was just in a bad mood.

'Plus, we already have a good rhythm going, and sparring against Steve would just get me throttled. His music he works out to is boring too. 'the 1812 Overture' for punching something?! It'd just be pointless to spar with anyone else, wouldn't be as good. I'll be sure to lay him out again next spar. Because there will be a next spar. Maybe I'll just jog? Ugh that sounds miserable may-' Clint got thrown from his rationalization by the silence.

'I existed once. I truly did. You know that.' Loki's voice echoed deep in his mind and Clint twisted his face to banish the words. Clint started to resent the quiet he, before days ago, had no problem with.

"Wanna see a baseball game today?!" Clint jumped out of his skin. Steve walked up to him, the smell of eggs made Clint's mouth water. Steve, by contrast, ate a balanced and complete breakfast of pancakes, eggs, toast and orange juice. So him.

"I'm...not too much of a baseball fan, NHL hockey is more my speed. Go Chicago Blackhawks!" Clint took a spoonful of his disappointing raisin bran. He heard that Bruce made breakfast for everyone the other day, lucky bastards. They also got story time about Sesshomaru's past, which Steve caught him up on yesterday.

'Fancy Pants' dad definitely threw him in the deep end to learn to swim. Not that his is the only sob story around here, and it did sound like he handled the situation well. He skinned his uncle and aunt and made an outfit out them and hung them up to gloat. And decapitated some tiger guy and shot his head out a catapult. Fancy Pants definitely took the 'does not play well with others' mantle from Tony.' Clint's thoughts rambled.

"Aw C'mon. They're playing the Nats again. Game is in like three hours, what else you got going on?" Steve basically pleaded, maybe just as bored and Clint found himself relenting. Really what else did he have to do? Sit around and wait to see if Loki would come back?

Until. Until he came back.

"I guess you're right. I don't have anything to lose. I'm rooting against you though. Captain America rooting against the DC team? What would the Nation think?!" Clint stretched and Steve looked at him in fake dejection.

"Well prepare to be disappointed. We are really gonna wallop them this time!" Steve took a bite of his pancakes, he didn't even put syrup on them, savage.

"Wallop? Really Elmer Fudd? Waskly wabbit!" Clint caught a piece of toast Steve threw and threw it back hitting him between the eyes.

Steve frowned and Clint shrugged and finished his cereal.

"Funny. Funny. It will be great. we haven't really hung out that much." Steve cheerfully took another bite of his pancakes and Clint got up to put his bowl in the dishwasher in the kitchen nook.

So, not only was Steve bored but he was probably going stir crazy in Stark Tower too.

"Yeah, well we belong to different sororities so, you know different mixers. I'll see you in a few." Clint waved and left the balcony, itching for a workout or something.

He got to the gym where Loki and he sparred and went towards the squat rack.

'Sun don't shine in the shade
Bird can't fly in a cage
Even when somebody go away
The feelings don't really go away
That's just the wave'

Despite thrashing tempo of Kanye West's "Waves" he still rewound through his nightmare from last night like an old VCR player.

Most of the times when he had nightmares they were about Budapest, sometimes Tripoli, Sarajevo, a few times his fights in Myanmar. Once he had a nightmare he was being chased by velociraptors, Clint blamed Nat taking him to see Jurassic World for that one.

The worst one was always what happened before he picked up a bow for anything besides buck hunting. Which, come to think of it, Loki turning into a stag, him being an avid bow hunter…there had to be some sort of metaphor hidden there.

But back on track, the worst nightmare was about his older brother Nate.


 

Clint awoke in the middle of the night. Again. He had that itching feeling that his brother, Nate, had snuck out again. He peeled back the covers and looked around their shared room.

His side of the room was covered in crinkled, aged posters. He taped up mostly Metallica, some Nine Inch Nails, a couple Marilyn Manson, and a big Pantera one all over the smudged white walls.

Clint didn't really like any of those bands or musicians, but he pretended he did because Nate loved them. Nate had cassettes of their albums tossed all over the floorboard of their old f-150.

Nate would say, in between Camel cigarettes, listening to them put his 'shitbox' job and his troubles all into perspective. Whatever that really meant.

Nate was only a couple years older than he was, but he always acted like some hotshot adult. He was only seventeen, but had to drop out of high school to work to help out their family ever since dad got laid-up.

As he predicted, Nate's bed was empty, but unpredictably made. Nate never made his bed even when he was repeatedly grounded for it.

That should have been a sign.

Clint slipped out of bed, changed into some acid wash jeans and tugged on his old converse chucks. If Nate had snuck out again, he wanted to go too.

He avoided the center of the stairs, they always creaked. And like a ninja in the kung-fu movies they always watched together, he crept out the kitchen door.

The trucks were still in the gravel driveway. Nate was probably down by the creek smoking weed again. He said it was the only thing that leveled him out.

Clint stomped on the crunchiest leaves he could find all the way down to the creek bed less than an eighth of a mile from their house. It was a pretty warm October night and the moon was full. Clint could see why Nate would want to sneak out.

He spotted Nate in the mottled moonlight facing away from him right at the creek bed. Nate always said he had super-human eye-sight. He could spot any deer in the forests when hunting.

Clint knew better than to call out from this distance, besides it was a rare opportunity that he had the chance to sneak up on his always-alert, hunter, older brother.

Nate raised his hand. Clint didn't have to rub the crusty sleep out of his eyes to know in it was his Beretta.

Clint's lungs froze solid. As naturally as one would scratch their temple Nate put the gun to his and pulled the trigger.

The sharp crack of the gunshot echoed for years.

Clint's throat was raw from screaming as he ran downhill. He slipped on dead leaves and his knees hit the sand that had already absorbed so much of Nate's blood.

Clint shook and quivered, adrenaline and shock raced through his veins like needles.

"No, god why. No god why. Nate, Nate stay with me." Clint barely stomached the smell of raw metallic blood and fleshy brain matter.

He didn't stomach the glassed, unfocused eyes of his all-knowing older brother, nor how the other side of his head had erupted out like in a bad horror movie. Shame flooded his system. He should have seen this coming. He should have prevented it. They were best friends.

He heard his mother's wail. He was thankful his mother found them before his kid brother, Jake, did.

The words he screamed in his nightmares were always different than what he chanted like a priest nineteen years ago.

Last night he awoke screaming "Not again, no!" He didn't know how to psychoanalyze that. He didn't know anyone who was suicidal. Maybe it meant nothing at all.

All he knew was he wasn't going back to sleep and there wasn't a God in the kitchen nook hungry for something that wasn't pop-tarts.


 

After a disappointing workout, an uneventful shower, and dicking around on Tony's TiVo buying and queuing up all the demonic possession, Broadway Musicals, and Robert Downey Jr movies he could find, he and Steve set out for Yankee Stadium.

"I'll buy your ticket! My treat!" Steve genuinely smiled, not that Steve as he ever did anything not genuine, and got out of the taxi.

"Thanks sweetie, but that doesn't mean I'm putting out during the seventh inning stretch in the clubhouse." Clint winked and Steve huffed.

"You couldn't seriously handle me anyway." Steve shot back and Clint laughed. They paid for their tickets, decent ones on the first base line. After going through security and maneuvering around like a million fat New Yorkers and screaming kids, they found their seats, right on the first base line.

"So, how are you dealing with everything?" Steve sounded nervous, and Clint turned his way confused. What did that mean?

"Huh? You mean figuring out that this asshat Titan, Thermos, or whatever is planning to kill everyone on our planet again? Peachy. He'll show up, and we will shut the door in his face and kick him to next Tuesday." Clint shrugged, wanting to get up get a beer, maybe a Shock Top? Ooh, and a corn dog. Fair food was the best. He liked it still even after working in the circus for years. Any food on a stick Clint was a fan of. Popcicles, corn dogs, kebobs, all epic. Ice cream sort of counted. Maybe they have mint chocolate chip here...

"No, I mean about Loki. You, um, did hate him for a long time, and did shoot him with a bunch of arrows." Steve stammered, looking at Clint with concern and Clint rolled his head in exasperation.

"Really Steve? Is that why you wanted to go to this baseball game to play Dr. Rogers, therapist to the super spies?" Clint leaned back, waiting to hear Steve's justification.

"And everyone, stand up for our National Anthem, sung by none other than, Scotty McCreery!" The sound system boomed and girls crooned. Who is Scotty McCreery?

"No, I really wanted to go to this game with you. I'm just concerned is all. A lot has happened this week, it's a lot to take in for all of us. I mean, Demons are real and aren't evi-" Steve quieted when this talentless hack began to butcher the Star Spangled Banner.

'Steve looks like he wants to punch this singer in the face. Oh man his face is getting red. This is terrific. They can never find anyone who can just sing the damn song without trying to make it into some huge grandstanding, warbling mess.' Clint sighed heavily as the song ended.

"Wow that was just beautiful. I loved the way he hit 'free' off key don't you? Really brought the song home." Clint smiled wide as Steve's face took on a tomato's in hue.

"As I was saying, Demons exist and they aren't evil. Our number one enemy turned out to be not our enemy and friends with a Demon Lord. And...I don't know. Things just got so complicated and now we have to not only fend off another invasion, but convince everyone it's going to happen!" Steve scratched his head and Clint felt for him a little, he was their fearless leader and he got thrown for a huge loop.

"Listen, yeah it sounds like a lot, but I mean Fancy Pants isn't all that bad. Sure he arrogant as all get out and near-impossible to read, even Nat thinks so, but he drives Tony nuts. Also he is the first guy to make a whip look cool since Indiana Jones." Clint offered, purposely avoiding the topic of Loki.

"I don't have a problem with him. He is sharp, level-headed, calm, and intelligent. And with Loki and Tony in the mix we need more…stable personalities." Clint nodded to that, Tony and Loki didn't exactly scream predictable behavior. "I just thought Demons were made up and evil before this. But he isn't, neither is Jaken. And, neither is Loki." Steve explained, watching the Nationals hitter, Taylor, swing and miss the first pitch. Steve clapped and hooted.

'Steve cheers like a little kid.' Clint grinned.

"Yeah, and about Loki, like...yeeesh. I'll figure myself out. He isn't head-case crazy like I thought, which is in our favor. I can see why Thor and Fancy Pants liked him before the whole Chitauri mess. But yeah, we got this. We got some time. I'm sure Nat will convince SHIELD to come around, and we will get everyone on board and show this Titan who's boss." Clint slapped Steve reassuringly on the shoulder and got up. His pep-talk to Steve even got his spirits up.

"Imma go get a beer and a corn dog, want anything?" Clint began to make his way out.

"Um, yea, cheeseburger and a Coke is fine for now. Uh wait, this might sound crazy, but I think Tony likes him, like more than just as…uh as a friend." Clint stopped in his tracks. Tony? Tony 'I can get anyone into my overpriced monogrammed four billion thread count red silk sheets' Stark wants Loki?! Clint whipped around so quickly he hit his knee against a cup holder. He didn't register the pain.

"Tony and Loki?!" Clint's eyebrows must have hit his hairline from shock. What had Steve seen? Did he see Tony and Loki? Together? When?! The nerve of Tony, go find some vapid fan of yours. Loki doesn't need your mess; he is already a mess enough.

"No, no, no, not Loki, Sesshomaru. And that could be a problem." Steve corrected, blue eyes searching for vindication. Clint relaxed, mind clearing like wind sweeping out clouds. That made a lot more sense, Clint shook out his suddenly tense muscles.

"Oh, Fancy Pants! I doubt it, I think Tony just likes puzzles and that guy, as my younger brother would say, 'bafflefucks' him. Nice gossip topic though Joan Rivers." Clint winked at Steve and he flushed as a foul ball hit the batters cage. Clint exhaled deeply maneuvering to get the food.

The next few innings went by smoothly, four runs batted in, three by the Nationals much to Steve's dismay and Clint's ignorant bragging.

"Oh look, that Nationals player got back to that one white square. That's a run right or is it a goal? Do you think that one Yankee player dropped the catch on purpose?!" Clint would yell and Steve got up to sit a seat away from him to avoid his purposeful jeering. Clint decided he liked baseball live, just not on TV, and Steve was a hoot to watch cheer.

"It's the bottom of the fifth, one out, and Castro is up to plate!" The loudspeaker boomed his walk up song and Steve cheered. Strasburg wound up and pitched and the ball went high and fowl right above where Steve and Clint sat.

Clint looked up, spotting the ball and something else, a tiny fiery blur against the blue sky. It soon expanded in size, and started to rumble like a rock slide. The stadium even quaked a bit, red dust rose off the field like in a windstorm.

Everyone in the stadium jumped to their feet, gasping, pointing, and screaming. Dread clinched Clint's gut like a vice. This is a deathtrap. People are going to trample each other like in the Lion King.

Total FUBAR situation.

"I thought Loki said we had like another two months!" Steve jumped into action, face serious and blue eyes trained on the incoming bogey.

"I guess they took a shortcut. Maybe an ez-pass turnpike opened up!" Clint's humor was strained as he realized this was the worst possible timing. Loki, who knew the most about their enemy, Thor their strongest fighter, well besides the Hulk, and Nat, the only one who could talk sense into Fury, were gone. They were in another dimension. Cool.

'And Fancy Pants, the only one who may be able to do anything against these guys has been M.I.A. for the past thirty hours. Not that we have seen him do much outside rhythmic gymnastics anyway. A total Charlie Foxtrot.' Clint picked up a chubby child that had fallen and Steve leapt up to get a better view.

"Protecting the safety of the people here is our best priority for now. We need to contact SHIELD, we need backup." Steve stressed and Clint groaned, reaching for his cell phone.

"Let's go to a baseball game Steve said. Sure! Of course, I can enjoy a normal baseball game like a normal person without an alien invasion happening." Clint muttered, the fiery smoke broke and revealed a spaceship, not unlike the shape of a star destroyer from Star Wars they ironically watched last night, but smaller, sleeker maybe the size of a small cruise ship.

"Do you have any weapons on you?!" Steve shouted as people started to panic and bolt like frightened horses he once had to help corral as a kid.

"Yeah, the security guy totally let me bring my bow and explosive arrows in for signatures." Clint smiled darkly. "At least Fury has his proof! How the hell do we get out of here?!" Clint got bumped by a Yankees fan and his cell phone went flying, Clint didn't care, like anyone on the other line would be able to hear him over the screaming.

Clint Barton and Steve Rogers, two of Earth's mightiest heroes, were sitting ducks for an invasion they knew was coming. Shit creek, meet no paddle.

"I don't know; it looks like there is only one ship! We need Tony and Bruce…and Sesshomaru!" Steve's voice, while commanding was higher than normal. As if on cue, like in a damn movie, Tony flew over the ballpark, holding Clint's bow and quiver and Steve's shield.

People, cheered, settling down some.

"Don't panic folks the Avengers have this under control." Tony's voice projected over the stadium. However, people also stopped panicking because the sleek black ship made a sharp bank left and drifted slowly South, but not before the familiar chariots swarmed out of its hull.

"Iron Man delivery at your service, Amazon drone delivery eat your heart out." Tony descended and tossed him his shield, and Clint his bow and quiver.

"Thanks Tony I owe you…how did you find us so fast?!" Steve asked as he strapped on his shield.

"You wouldn't sit anywhere else except good seats at the first base line." Tony probably winked under his faceplate. Clint didn't buy it. "I also gps tracked Legolas' phone since you can't seem to remember to keep yours charged. Speaking of which, here some coms." Clint laughed a bit and Steve clenched his fist as if to say 'Not now.' Clint put his com in.

"I'm going to calm the people on the streets, you two go after the ship, I'll join up shortly." Steve ordered and Tony mock-saluted. With his shield in hand, Steve made his way through the crowd.

"Do you have any idea where Fancy Pants is? Is Bruce out there?" Clint strapped on his quiver and slung his bow over his shoulder. He felt invigorated with a flash of adrenaline. So much for a boring couple days

"My tracker puts Sailor Moon in Central Park, near the Bethesda Pavilion, probably on a hot date with that Soul Cycle instructor." Clint swore Tony's voice sounded a touch more annoyed than probably intended. "Bruce is hulking there as we speak. Hold on tight and don't let go Rose!" Tony grabbed Clint in a tight embrace, much to Clint's disgust especially at the Titanic reference, and they blasted off in pursuit of the space cruiser.

"I should have stuck to hockey." Clint adjusted, grabbed his bow, and with Tony holding him around the waist, knocked an arrow and let it fly just as the first of the chariots left the mother ship. The arrow struck the pilot of the first Chariot, sending him falling down to the asphalt below.

Clint repeated the same for the two passengers on the Chariot who were curiously speeding past them.

"Tony dump me off onto that Chariot, I'm gonna do some damage." Clint ordered and Tony reared back, dropping Clint off on the rapidly descending chariot. Clint pulled up harsh on the joystick, leveling out the vehicle before it smacked into a building.

"Alright, it's just like riding a bike." Clint fired a harpoon arrow into its hull and tied the joystick in place, allowing him to fly and snipe at the same time with minimal steering.

Knocking back a taser arrow, Clint aimed quick and unleashed the arrow at a passing Chariot, disabling it. Immediately he knocked back three arrows, wishing he had some of that magic countering toxin about now, and with a twang of a bowstring he hit all three. And like dominoes the Chitauri plummeted to the sidewalk below, shrieks cutting into the air.

"Heads up!" He shouted down to the scattering New Yorkers below, which after the first Battle of New York had begun to really understand the concept of duck and cover.

That and Steve down below had done an amazing job at keeping people off the streets and away from windows. Steve flung his shield at the smoking Chariot, knocking it harmlessly off course into a fire hydrant, stopping it cold.

"Nice pitch!" Clint yelled below, before swinging to his six and launching another explosive arrow at the Chariot tailing him. A Chariot that should have fired upon him by now.

'OK, maybe Loki was just a really good fake general and the Chitauri are useless otherwise or these guys are treating me like I don't exist.' Clint squinted as the Chariot he shot began to smoke and the three Chitauri on it hopped to another nearby Chariot, not even bothering to shoot at him. They were all speeding off towards Central Park, where Tony said Fancy Pants was.

Clint, realizing he was creating more harm than good, drifted down to the asphalt in front of Steve.

"They're completely ignoring me. Looks like they're going after Fancy Pants in Central Park, hop on I'll give you a ride." Clint instructed and Steve leapt on, expression determined but grim.

As soon as Clint steered the chariot upwards to regain his view of the Chitauri ship he heard a distant roar. It sounded like a hydroelectric dam breeching and vibrated his core like one too.

A primal fear drilled through the marrow of his bones as the roar vacuumed into an eerie silence.

An uncontrollable instinct made his shoulders hunch and close his eyes. It was a long dormant, biological reaction that trumped every ounce of training he had ever received.

Clint looked up at the same time Steve did, both rigid as statues. A surging, torrential green plasma ray streaked across the sky as wide as a subway car. It radiated the sky in crackling, iridescent lightning and in a flash dozens or so of the Chitauri who soared above the city were vaporized.

One partially hit Chitauri screeched as the rest of his body corroded and eventually tumbled from the chariot only to dissipate before he hit the pavement.

The enemy cut through its own forces like a hot knife through butter. Why? Shit. Tony!

"Tony, come in. Tony you still kickin'?" Clint held his breath as his ear receiver filled with static. Steve also listened in, eyes still surveying the electrically charged air. Clint's mouth went dry and knees a bit rubbery. No way could they deal with a ship that could dish out that much firepower. It corroded people!

Talk about a Death Star. Not even SHIELD had a weapon capable of that.

Clint ascended their Chariot above the buildings and saw the space ship not two blocks from them, slowly creeping towards Central Park as if waiting for something.

A shaky exhale parted Clint's lips as he spotted a flash of crimson in the distance. The ship missed Tony; he was always the luckiest of bastards.

"I see Tony! He's fine. The energy blast must have messed with our coms." Clint reported and Steve nodded.

They had to stop that ship before it fired down towards the city…wait.

Fired down. Clint bucked the Chariot high up above the buildings. The blast came from the south, invading ship was still facing south, away from them. Also, the blast only hit the Chitauri. Clint smelled no smoke and maybe aside from a pigeon, nothing else was harmed.

Maybe that green blast hadn't come from the ship at all.

"Clint! They didn't have anything like that three years ago. This doesn't even look like the ships Loki told us about! We need to get closer to destroy that ship before it fires at the city! One of those blasts could raze ten blocks, and the civilian casualties would be astronomical." Steve's voice held an edge of panic Clint caught. Clint began to put the pieces together.

"You mean 'we' didn't have anything like this three years ago." Clint didn't blame Steve in the least for not noticing the little details, his fear for the people briefly overrode his analysis. It even took him till just now to realize that he had seen that exact shade of nineties-tracksuit green before.

And Clint wasn't talking about Will Smith's windbreaker on the 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air.'

Clint started to chuckle. They weren't up shit creek without a paddle, they had a goddamn speedboat.

"Clint this isn't the time for jokes, approach the spaceship, we will distract it long enou—" Clint pointed past the ship caused Steve to pause in his order.

"Steve that blast came from the south, where the ship is headed. And did that shade of green look familiar to you? Like a certain, toxin or whip? Or even scry-nado?" Clint turned to Steve, eyes lit up. "That's no space station, it's Sailor Moon." Clint mimicked Obi Wan and opted for Tony's name for the Demon Lord, for quotations sake.

Steve's eyes bugged out a bit as Clint accelerated the chariot towards Central Park.

"That. That's what he is capable of?!" Clint couldn't tell if Steve was terrified or ecstatic. Probably both.

"Old Dog, New Tricks. You should be able to relate to that." Clint smirked and Steve sighed. Poor guy, he really must feel in over his head. "Let's get going Mr. Old Fashioned." Clint pressed the throttle all the way down. Pedal to the metal.

"…As you said earlier, let's kick these Chitauri to next Tuesday." Steve rolled his shoulders and readied his shield which Clint interpreted as Steve finally getting his groove back.

Chapter Text

Sesshomaru and the Statue of Liberty

*(*

Sesshomaru was thankful for the time given to him by Loki's and Rin's absence. Not that he preferred them in the Distant Realm, but he needed time to assess the information that he had gleaned from Loki's and his conversation on Stark's rooftop.

He had a sneaking suspicion that Loki left some critical parts out of his recent history, but that's how their conversations had always been.

Most of the topics Loki had informed him of had indeed been somewhat interesting or the very least entertaining. Sending a Destroyer after Thor? Hasty. Assassinating that savage King Laufey and his bumbling troop of ice dwellers? Clever. A minor detail in a story of him coming under the dominion of Thanos and the Other piqued his interest.


 "After falling from the Bifrost, the Other collected me from Sanctuary. After his… treatment of me. The Mad Titan offered me an exchange, I would obtain the Tesseract for him and he would give me rule of Midgard." Loki twirled a dagger lazily.

"… Tesseract?" Sesshomaru tongued the foreign word.

"A cosmic cube housing a gem, one of six, of limitless power. The Tesseract creates portals. It is the current obsession of the Mad Titan and one of the reasons for his conquest of Midgard and Asgard." Loki replied without much flourish.

"So, that is what spurned forth the attentions of a Titan Warlord across the cosmos." Sesshomaru's brow creased, Loki had known the location of this Tesseract?

It was Naraku all over again. How did he manage to suffer two delusional creatures enraptured by some frivolous jewel? Such folly. He would show this Titan that true power is not obtained through some outside means, but from within.

"Concern yourself not of it. It is safe from the Mad Titan." Loki reassured and continued on and Sesshomaru inhaled deeply in mock annoyance.


 Sesshomaru wasn't concerned. It wasn't as if this was the first time he had heard of such artifacts. He scoffed at these gems' power and anyone who's mouth watered for them.

By nature, Sesshomaru was never curious for curiosity's sake, and if he hadn't been warned of the Six Gems of the Greater Cosmos when he was younger, he wouldn't care now.

But, on two vastly different occasions his father and mother, separately, had vaguely referenced them.

His father feared the King of the Distant Realm, Odin, obtaining one.


 "Sesshomaru, you and your…friend Prince Loki go questing for magic crystals. Do you not?" Sesshomaru frowned. It was the first time his father had ever given any remote interest in what he did with Loki outside his studies.

"We quest for various bullion." Sesshomaru responded noncommittally and his father snarled, pounding his clawed fist on the banquet table in front of them, disturbing the rice wine bottle.

"Now is not the time to play coy, boy! Your friend, Prince Loki of Asgard seeks crystals to enhance his magical abilities. Have you ever thought what he could be doing with them? Or what he may do if he finds the ones that could render our world under the Distant Realm, Asgard's thumb?" His father's voice rasped and he never sounded so rattled before. Sesshomaru's attention was piqued.

"…I am a more skilled warrior than Loki. He will fall by my hand before I would allow him to betray me." Sesshomaru found himself answering calmly, but his gut churned from his father's accusations. He cared not about what Loki did with these crystals. There would be no way Loki, nor any other Aesir, even Thor, would best him. Also, if Loki wanted him dead, he would have simply let that blasted Uru dragon slay him.

Sesshomaru and Loki differed muchly, but were also quite similar. They would always give priority to their ultimate desire: power. They respected each other in that regard. Admittedly, Loki was the only being with whom he shared the same goal, and agreed in the same method of doing so.

Loki would not betray him. If anything, Loki would invite him to take part in the dismantling or razing of whatever empire he wanted sovereignty over.

Uniting with Loki to defeat mighty generals and press some lowly peasants into their soil could be gratifying. Ruling with Loki over a realm he cared not for, however, did not.

Loki wanted power that he could hold over others, Sesshomaru wanted power he could use to be free from others.

His father sighed deeply, gulping down more rice wine.

"Sesshomaru. That did not come out as intended. I, despite my better judgment, believe your friend wishes not to use such power against you. It is his father, King Odin of the Distant Realm, who I do not trust." Inu no Taisho sounded sincere and Sesshomaru believed his father's words. While he could not sparse out lies as well as Loki, he could usually tell when his father was truthful, especially after indulging in wine. "He eyes my Sounga like a curse, it intimidates him. It is why I carry it." Sesshomaru's eyes shot wide. Only intimidate? His father dared admit such a weakness in front of him? That he could possibly not slay Odin himself?

What was this?

"Son, there are powers in this cosmos that we cannot hope to match. It's why I had you study with Prince Loki." His father poured more rice wine into his great gold goblet. His father could indeed get inebriated. Sesshomaru learned from a young age his mother's lineage gave him the ability to be immune to such mind-bending potions. His father's claws harbored no toxins, only energy cleaving youki.

His father then gripped his shoulders, his claws pricked through his yukata, eyes hard as Tessaiga's steel.

"I will entrust to you, a most dire secret. I have encountered one of these powers." Sesshomaru smelled the sake on his father's breath and knew it was only due to the spirits that his father would speak to him as such.

He would not squander such an opportunity.

"You were bred for a purpose, not out of love nor passion. Your mother and I were selected to create, to craft perfection. A perfect weapon." His father slurred his words and Sesshomaru stood up, breaking free of his father's clutches. Bred? Like a race steed his father loved so? Is that why his mother never came down from her Kingdom? Is that why his father never whispered a kind word in his ear like so many other nobles' children he had seen?

He was never wanted. He was demanded to be.

"Bred." Sesshomaru breathed. It was too much. He had suspected something of his existence was not quite right. His father and mother were never mated, yet he was no bastard. It was quite uncustomary to produce a child when not mated, and have that child be one's heir. He had never expected his father would divulge it to him with such directness though.

"Yes. Reality has never been kind to you my son, and may never be. Centuries ago, I stumbled across a most horrifying jewel. It had to be fate, but I wish it was not so. It nearly drove me mad." His father's voice croaked with emotion Sesshomaru had certainly never witnessed. "Your mother's parents…most unique Demons, were the only ones who could assist me in locking away its limitless power. I dared not trust any of those haughty Aesir with it." Sesshomaru barely suppressed an eyebrow quirk. His father feared this artifact could fall into the wrong hands, that much was certain.

His father emptied his goblet down his worn, tan throat. He ran the back of his hand across his mouth.

"In exchange for sealing away this…ruinous relic…they demanded that your mother and I couple, and you were the result. When you are old enough, your mother will explain this further." His father didn't meet his eyes. Sesshomaru had always been taught to never cede eye contact especially with one of a lower station.

Sesshomaru took a step back, freeing himself from his father's clutches. He flared ice blue youki out across the floor. It bounced and shimmered like raindrops off marble.

'Father regrets my existence?' Sesshomaru's eyes bled red, his markings ran jagged and his fangs lengthened. A deep, quaking growl snarled from Sesshomaru's lips. All he did, all he ever endured, all he strove to become was for his father! And this?! This is what he has to say?!

"You mean to say, father, that you would have rather lost your mind to some jewel than to claim me as your son?" Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles and his toxin pooled out into his whip his father detested so. His father never fully came to terms his son created and operated with a weapon typically reserved for females.

"No! Son. Again, that did not come across as intended. You ha—" Sesshomaru, for the first time in his life, interrupted his father.

"You are a weak fool father! You claim that you were to create a weapon, a perfect weapon, and you do not recognize it when it stands before you! I will surpass you! I am worth more than your warped sanity and some object you found whilst treasure questing. I am your better, I merely await the opportunity to prove it true." Sesshomaru snapped his fangs, his youki spiked blue and glimmered all around him, flooding the banquet hall.

His father's eyes, glazed over in the blue of his youki, softened. Quicker than Sesshomaru's Demon Blood driven mind could register, he embraced him roughly.

"I know son. I know." His father whispered words Sesshomaru didn't want to hear before he took Tessaiga's hilt and drove with a decisive, brutal jab into Sesshomaru's gut, rendering him unconscious.


 Yesterday he sought out Jaken, when without a doubt the mischievous God went to go torment the hapless archer.

He hadn't thought of that conversation with his father in ages. It was something he pushed to the furthest corners of his mind. It was business with his father that shall always remain unfinished.

It was the first he heard a reference to of the Six Gems of the Greater Cosmos.


 "Jaken. Of what do you know of the Six Gems of the Greater Cosmos?" Sesshomaru asked when he located his ward on the receiving end of one of Rin's sketching attacks. Ever since seeing Polly's 'tattoos', and his own markings on Stark, she had taken to drawing some on Jaken.

"My Lord! The Six Gems of the Greater Cosmos?! They are supposedly each on their own each an inexhaustible power source. Some Demons have claimed to possess one, but they were all found to be false! I myself do not believe in such fantasies." Jaken replied as Rin took an ink marker and drew a flower on the back of Jaken's head.

"I asked for what you knew, not what you believe." Sesshomaru warned, knuckles cracking. Jaken jumped causing Rin to frown at the ruined picture.

"Jaken hold still! I'm not done yet!" Rin stuck her tongue out in concentration and before Jaken could protest Sesshomaru shot him a stern glare to obey the girl.

"Y-y-yes my Lord! According to various ancient scrolls, the Six Gems of the Greater Cosmos each have their own unique properties and color, and all should not be collected in one place. Not much is known on them, except there was a legend that the blue one, the cosmic cube, and another, the green one were on Earth. That unfortunately is all I know Lord Sesshomaru, please forgive me." Sesshomaru sighed through his nose at Jaken's groveling.

So, it was true. How bothersome.

This made his need to find his mother's tomb that much more urgent. And even more precarious.

"My Lord, may I ask why you now inquire about these Gems?" Jaken squirmed away from Rin's ink pen.

"No, Jaken you may not. Rin gather your things; it is time to depart." Sesshomaru commanded mildly and Rin put the finishing touch on the flower on Jaken's head.

"Yes, Lord Sesshomaru!" Rin fast as can be gathered her belongings and her bone.

"Rin." Sesshomaru paused and so did Rin mid-step. Sesshomaru hesitated, he would normally never ask his ward anything of the sort, but this was important.

Sesshomaru cared not about acquiring the Gems. He needed no stones to amplify his power, he was a formidable Demon Lord and would topple his foes without such cowardly, cheating methods.

But Sesshomaru was no fool. If this Titan Warlord wished to obtain them, and Odin, had one, he would know of it. Ignorance was distasteful.

"Rin. I require something of you." His gaze hardened and Rin's eyes widened. "In the Distant Realm, if anyone, including Loki, mentions a blue power cube called the Tesseract, inform this Sesshomaru, and only this Sesshomaru, upon your return." Sesshomaru made sure his tone was soft and even to not alarm Rin.

"Mhmm! You can count on me Lord Sesshomaru! Rin is going to be a super spy just like Natasha!" Rin nodded and raised the deer femur. Sesshomaru's ears rose. There were worse humans for Rin to emulate. He shuddered at the thought of her emulating that screeching priestess who Inuyasha adored.

Sesshomaru nodded, patted her on the head, displeased at himself for a reason he could not place. Perhaps it was because he was allowing her to go. None of this sat right with the Demon Lord, but there was little he could do.

He had to have knowledge of something substantial when he faced his mother's tomb.


 Sesshomaru knew Loki. Every crystal they recovered on their quests he showed to Odin. Loki always aspired for recognition of his work through his father. Odin never quite showered Loki with appreciation over his findings, but he responded better than his own father did.

Sesshomaru concluded this Tesseract then had to be in the Distant Realm.

Loki allowed himself to be defeated, thus he most likely left the Cosmic Cube where Thor could locate it. Not even the rather dense Thor would leave a Gem of the Greater Cosmos to humans. They'd sooner destroy themselves with it than cause any good.

Loki wouldn't have hidden the Cosmic Cube in one of his hiding places. He would have wanted Thor to bring it back to the Distant Realm so Odin could see what he had accomplished. Sesshomaru surmised Loki still wished to impress a parent, he didn't know he still wanted to impress.

Yet another thing they had in common. Which was why when he went to see his mother, he had to show her his might. His new powers and knowledge of these Gems.


 "Oh. Sesshomaru! You've finally come to visit your benevolent mother, but you look a fright. Surely a 'Lord' like yourself should compose yourself better." Sesshomaru cracked the talons on his right hand. He knew what he looked like, and cared not. His body was still lacerated in scars, skin burned, and his left ear torn off to be practically useless.

His appearance, for once, didn't matter much to him.

"Mother." He stated, words like a frozen over river. She frowned.

"I regret your father has passed so untimely Sesshomaru. Tenseiga, where is he?" His mother stood, though shorter than Sesshomaru, she carried herself just as regally. They were nearly identical. The most visible difference being he had two straight magenta markings across his cheeks, she only had one that curled under her each of her eyes.

Clearly, his mother's genes were dominant, but he had never seen her display any action but a small smile, a flick of a wrist, or transform.

"I care not for that blade." Sesshomaru grounded out. He was weary. He had no time for his mother's tireless games. What use to him was a sword that could not cut?

"Tenseiga the fang of healing and the heavens and he cares for you. As well the forgers who crafted him. In time, you will see the usefulness in your father's inheritance to you. You do well to collect him before he feels rejected." His mother's voice lilted and he knew not why she referred to the blade as a male.

"Where is Sounga?" Sesshomaru demanded. Sesshomaru's mother laughter tinkled like a bell.

"Sounga?! You are not ready for Sounga. You don't even know what Sounga is!" Sesshomaru's mother's eyes once lit in mirth instantly hardened cold. "You are not near ready for your true destiny. Your father kept most of your destiny from you my child. I think he was trying to protect you from it… No matter. There is no escaping your destiny." Sesshomaru had had enough of his mother's vague riddles.

"Enough. Father has hidden Tessaiga from me, the weapon I trained on. I require Sounga." Sesshomaru seethed, showing emotion due to sheer exhaustion.

It was a wonder he was even standing.

"Do you fear the Distant Realm King Odin that much?" Sesshomaru repressed a growl. His mother always knew how to irk him. His right ear flattened.

"I see. Fret not my son. Odin will not harm you, I would most certainly make him pay if he did…" Sesshomaru's mother led purposefully but Sesshomaru would not take the bait. His mother? Stronger than Odin?

"Sesshomaru, have you heard of the Six Gems of the Greater Cosmos?" Sesshomaru's mother asked blandly, fondling her over-sized, black necklace. Sesshomaru's expression didn't change.

"Oh, and here I thought your friend Loki was teaching you about proper Gemology. The Six Gems of the Greater Cosmos are unparalleled bastions of power. With one you could topple a planet. Two, a solar system…well…I am sure you understand my point. Whoever obtains all Six Gems can make the heavens bend to their will." Sesshoamaru's mother flitted around Sesshomaru, as if sizing him up for a new wardrobe.

"I do not care for such artifacts. You did not answer my question." Sesshomaru pressed and his mother shook her head.

"My dear son, be patient. I know of the location of one of those Cosmic Gems. In fact, your father gave it to me. Odin would dare not cross me." Sesshomaru straightened. So, the artifact his father encountered that caused his birth was one of these Six Gems.

He didn't care. His mother thought herself strong due to a simple stone?!

"This Sesshomaru dislikes repeating himself. You will reveal the location of Sounga." Sesshomaru stated flatly, revealing none of his intentions as he swiped out at his mother's throat, claws long.

She evaded easily and her eyes flashed red with black at the edges.

"Astral bind." Her voice ghosted, neither a scream nor a whisper. A cosmic rift above Sesshomaru tore open and from it bands of pure galaxy streamed down.

Sesshomaru dodged three artfully but in his wounded condition he succumbed to the myriad of star and nebula mottled bands that restrained him fast. He strained his fatigued muscles against the starry, purpled bindings but to no avail.

Sesshomaru's mother approached her son, pink lips relaxed, eyes soft.

"Sesshomaru." In a most unanticipated gesture, she gently cupped his scarred, magenta striped cheek. "You have gifts beyond measure that you need to discover. You were not meant for a life wandering your father's little lands. You were intended for unparalleled greatness. Now go, retrieve Tenseiga and grow quickly, or brutally die before you even come of age. There are forces at work in the cosmos that will find and hunt us all down." Sesshomaru's mother released the astral binds on Sesshomaru. He did not lash out.

He had no idea his mother was capable of such attacks.

"This Sesshomaru does as he pleases." He glared and cracked his claws. His mother laughed heartily which only further enraged him.

"Hmm. Perhaps, I can help with that." Sesshomaru's mother smirked, eyes flashing red. She took her finger and put it to Sesshomaru's forehead. His moon turned black. "A proximity barrier skill. Do well to perfect it, even someone as weak as you can hone this skill, my dear son." His mother flashed a fang and smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes.


 He would not bend to some destiny. He only did things of his own accord, though his mother did speak some truth about the proximity barrier and Tenseiga.

With his youki had fully recovered, he further trained with Bakusaiga and Tenseiga earlier that day. He remained confident he could defeat any foe, if one should arrive while Loki and Thor were in the Distant Realm of Asgard.

'That false Distant Realm. Those dense Aesir better allow Loki safe passage or I will ransom Thor for his return.' Sesshomaru almost sneered to himself. Besting the Storm God in battle did appeal to Sesshomaru.

It also appealed to him that Polly who, while on her leisure day, assisted him in acquiring the means to make purchases in this realm.


 "Hey Mr Mysterious. How's kicks?" Polly greeted outside of Double Dragon Ice Cream shop, her hair now the color indigo.

"Your hair is different." Sesshomaru pointed to her haircrest.

"Yeah, it's easy for humans to change their hair colors here in this time. Got the inspiration from your moon. Don't go changing your hair though, you'd break too many hearts." Polly pointed to her own forehead.

"This Sesshomaru will not change his person." Sesshomaru affirmed, Break hearts? Sesshomaru knew of no being who cared about his hair so. Wait, no Stark also insisted he not change his hair. Odd. Why did Stark care? Evidently he prefers shoulder length, black hair.

"Good to hear, it'd be a damn shame. Where is Rin?" Polly counted one for Sesshomaru, two for Jaken, pointing to an empty spot where Rin should be with a black polished fingernail.

"Rin is with..." He paused, he couldn't just say Storm God. "others questing in the Distant Realm." Sesshomaru assessed he could trust Polly with Rin's approximate whereabouts and activities. It was clear she cared for Rin.

"Oh wow, questing?! Must be serious to let Rin go, who is she with?! Don't tell me you let Lime Sherbet and Cookie Dough take her somewhere. From what she said they're two brothers who really don't get along." Polly egged on and began to walk. Sesshomaru followed, putting on his sunglasses. Polly wore an 'The Airborne Toxic Event' T-shirt a band she recommended and he enjoyed.

Stark was incorrect in their assessment of 'depressing'.

"Indeed she accompanies them. The human… Strawberry is with her as well. They are gathering intelligence on a hostile party." Sesshoamru cracked his knuckles, allowing Polly to see them glow green. A prickling odd sensation invaded his gut referring to Romanoff in such a familiar way. Polly jerked her head back and whistled.

"Man, sounds like you've gotten yourself into some deep shit Mr. Mysterious. How's Chocolate doing? Still rescuing you like a damsel in distress?" Polly smiled cheekily and Sesshomaru frowned slightly 'He did seek me out when I was experiencing some, regrettably inconvenient emotional distress.' Stark's metal gloved caress on his shoulder disturbed him. He couldn't remember the last time he allowed anyone to touch him so. He didn't mind it, if he had he would have shaken loose of it. It confused him that he enjoyed it. But the fact that Stark touched him with his armor on proved that he didn't want to personally touch him.

Stark clearly didn't want him physically. He wanted Loki.

He could not blame Loki for this. Loki had never been much for monogamy and knew not of his...inclination towards Stark.

"My Lord is no woman and is rarely in distress! Rin exaggerated greatly my Lord's condition." Jaken defended, and Polly held her hands up. Sesshomaru could see some of her markings much better now that her garment had no sleeves. She had many words written in script on her body, which he had used as a basis for practicing his writing. It had been strategically useful the night of the Star Wars viewing.

Sesshomaru had wondered if Stark also thought his handwriting to be aesthetically pleasing as the others did.

"That's why the word 'like' is in the sentence. Any moron can see he is a man. Well?" Polly fired back with lips painted purple. Sesshomaru at one time wished he could change his person as easily as Polly, or Loki could. He had wanted, long ago as a pup, to know what it would be like to have his father's markings, instead of his mother's.

"He lives. Chocolate has been studying my toxin for other uses." Polly's pierced eyebrows slanted a bit down and her jaw dropped. She pointed to him before another pedestrian walked between them.

"Mr. Mysterious, your friends have some really fucked up hobbies. Are they trying to make drugs with your goo? They're too weird." Polly's voice sounded concerned and Sesshomaru scoffed, eyes almost rolling under his sunglasses. Together, they managed to part most of the pedestrian traffic headed their way. One dog stopped stock still.

"The humans find 'me' peculiar. Especially Chocolate. I informed you of the shellfish." Sesshomaru admitted and Polly cracked up, her thin, pale frame shaking in laughter.

"Yeah if anyone brought me free blue crabs you best believe I wouldn't knock 'em for it. And how can someone who studies Demon toxin call anyone else weird?! Oh! How are Mint Chocolate Chip and Lime Sherbet going? They doin' it yet?" Polly's face lit up in mischief, much becoming of Loki, or rather, Lime Sherbet. She crossed her thin, marked arms in front of her, one of her markings was a large coi fish.

"They have not coupled yet. This Sesshomaru thinks Mint Chocolate Chip has a growing interest. Lime Sherbet bested him at a human game of colored spheres and poles." Sesshomaru explained neutrally, but behind his aviators his eyes lit up in victory.

"Nicely done Mr. Matchmaker! Keep me up to date on you and Chocolate." Sesshomaru whipped his head over to her as she shrugged, straightening out one of her many metal hoops on her ears.

"What!? You can't think I haven't picked up on it yet. You guys are at my shop on the daily for hours and all Rin does is draw you two together. Rin and I have already talked about it, especially when that model recruiter came in the shop." Polly nudged Sesshomaru as they approached an intersection, waiting to cross.

"This Sesshomaru has no human friends." Sesshomaru's voice low and dark, spat the word friends like a curse. Polly put her hands on her hips, taking out her communication device and thumbing through it, getting to a photo of one of Rin's drawings.

"I'm wounded. See this? Rin said this actually happened. You got Chocolate to dress up just like you in traditional yukata and hakama. This picture, she said this is you at dinner with like, at least eight people at a fancy steakhouse. Oh, and also they're all listening to you give a power point presentation on war. Sounds like you guys are bomb friends. Besides, if you really hated them you wouldn't be bartering overpriced ice cream for them. And you would have taken Lime Sherbet and gotten out already." She thumbed through the rest of the drawings on her communication device, Sesshomaru had made Rin make sure to not sketch Loki, as he typically looked, and to leave names off her pictures. Lady Potts explained that these humans were indeed special humans and to keep their identities hidden.

Sesshomaru shifted, hand twitching at Polly catching him off guard.

"I gave my word to him I would stay." Sesshomaru heard himself admit and Polly rocked back in victory. He just then remembered upon returning with the crabs gave word to Stark that he would stay.

"Daaawww, see? 'The Sundae' is closer than you think it is. It's a good thing, even though they all sound like insane drug lords." Polly began to walk with the small crowd across the street, putting away her phone into the back pocket of her ripped jeans.

"Lord Sesshomaru doesn't need the friendship of you humans!" Jaken protested, scrambling to catch up to their quick pace.

"Hey, have you ever thought that maybe Mr. Mysterious may want friends? Have you ever even asked him what he wants?" Polly challenged, glaring through smudged eyeliner at the little imp Demon.

"Lord Sesshomaru do you want to be friends with these humans?!" Jaken squawked shrilly and Polly put a hand to her face.

"…" Sesshomaru didn't respond, but he knew what he wanted. He wanted one human in particular, or at least, wanted an opportunity.

"Now you've made him all defensive. Nice Jaken." Polly stuck her tongue out at the Water Demon and lifted a ringed her middle finger to Jaken. Jaken, having no idea what the gesture meant, returned it.

"Me?! You imprudent girl! You were the one babbling about friendship and inclinations!" Jaken accused back and Sesshomaru let loose an exhale through his nose. Polly and Jaken were entirely too noisy.

"Ugh, this would be so much easier with Rin here. I am so outnumbered. Where are you meeting that Jason Sisson guy? I heard him roping you into drinks, I even put a reminder in my Google calendar. Good angle on making Chocolate jealous." Polly hopped over a pothole with her high, black laced shoes. On her legs was a green netted material.

"It is not your concern." Sesshomaru answered, ears lowering. Would such an act really render Stark jealous? Jealousy was the fear of someone taking something from them. Stark did not seem possessive in the least.

"Maaaan. At least tell me about it after." Polly kicked air.

Sesshomaru promised nothing. This Jason Sisson would provide him knowledge of certain topics. Asking a commoner, he didn't care about of these topics would give him insight into how prepared this realm would be for war with minimal risk.

"Where are you taking us girl?!" Jaken demanded; Sesshomaru deep in thought about the new perspective Polly had given him. He concluded, that as an outsider, his interactions with the humans may seem more involved than they truly were. The humans and Thor saw him as an ally only. He considered Loki a friend, not that he would admit it out loud. After his conversation with Stark, he resolved to not have his scry cloud his judgment.

He doubted Stark had an inclination for him beyond an alliance. He had stated he carried on and coupled with many human females, not males.

"I told you, Soho. My family knows some whacko who collects Japanese stuff. If what you guys have is legit, he will pay big money for it. Way too many rich people in this city thinking they can buy culture." Polly informed with a hint of spite.

"Of course what Lord Sesshomaru has is legitimate. He is no thief nor fraud!" Jaken protested vehemently and Polly shrugged her body, tattooed shoulders.

"Just sayin'. My dad says this is an old family friend, but when the economic crash hit and my rents almost lost everything, did he chip in to help? Nope. Like I said Mr. Mysterious, despite what others may say, I don't think Demons are evil. I mean, what kind of evil Demon brings his adopted human daughter to a rundown ice cream shack all day just because? Greed, man. Greed is what's evil." Polly scowled bitterly. Sesshomaru turned to her. He had not given this human any reason to think of him as decent.

"Your ice cream market was the only one not teeming with screeching human children." Sesshomaru imputed and Polly whistled in agreement.

"True, it's all about the Pinkberry to those nut-job parents…oh we're here." Polly pointed to the building. They approached hesitant door guard. Almost assuredly they were a curious sight but Polly held out her communication device to him, saying that they were messaged by the owner of the penthouse. They were allowed to enter and ascended immediately to the penthouse floor. They exited and were immediately brought to an ornate door. She knocked harshly.

"Ah good to see you Miss Tanaka. I see here you have Mr. Sesshomaru and his business partner Jaken?" An overweight, man opened the door, revealing an opulent, warm living quarters. He appeared harmless, much like many of the humans of this time.

"Yeah, nice to see you too Mr. Peterson. Look, we are on a time crunch, let's get this started." Polly didn't sound particularly happy to be in this person's presence. Sesshomaru noted to compensate her grandly.

"Of course." He led them in and Sesshomaru took of his sunglasses. He looked into the eyes of the meek, soft man.

"Pfffft, you young kids and your crazy costumes, hair color, and tattoos. I suppose whatever suits your fancy, now for business. Polly said you had antique Koban coins." The man chuckled to himself, Sesshomaru ignored his comment about his appearance and turned to Jaken. Again, good fortune Jaken had their tribute bullion on their person and not on Ah-Un when the magic gate appeared.

Jaken took out a large pouch secreted on his lower back, and deftly produced an oblong, imprinted gold coin from them. The human's eyes bulged wide out of his head.

"This…this is an original Keicho Koban! How did you come by this? It is in mint condition! Ahem, I mean, I don't see a signed appraisal, but since I am an appraiser myself I suppose I can take a look." Neither Sesshomaru, Jaken, nor Polly knew what he babbled about. Sesshomaru used these coins rarely, they were more for visiting other Lord's lands as a gift not for everyday trade.

"If you are willing to part with this, I shall take the off your hands from you for $55,500. A good deal really, for you." Sesshomaru knew not of the amount he was getting for these coins. He only required sufficient currency to purchase a communication device, pay for his meal tonight with that over-eager human, Sisson, and to repay Lady Potts for her hospitality.

"No way. Your friggin' eyes bulged out of your head like you did when you saw my grandma's old kimono. If you want it so bad, $70,000, and that's the family discount." Polly crossed her arms and the man frowned, clearly not expecting a negotiation.

After ten minutes, and the human waddling to his safe, they came out $65,000.00 richer. They left in haste and only when they stood outside of the building did Polly finally jump and laugh hysterically.

"Oh my fucking god! You really are some Demon Lord from the past! I can't believe that. I mean, I've negotiated commissions on my tattoos before but never li—" Polly's eyes grew wide as saucers as Sesshomaru placed $10,500.00 in her hand. Her jaw dropped. "You can't give me this. You don't even know how much money you really have do you!?" Polly pushed it back and Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes.

"This Sesshomaru is your business partner. I reciprocated what I feel equal to your services, assistance, and human sweets." Sesshomaru's gaze gave no room for negotiation.

"Yeah but you—" Sesshomaru cut her off again.

"Do not disrespect this Sesshomaru." He warned and she promptly took the money and shoved it in her purse awkwardly looking around. He smelled her nervousness as she fidgeted with her bracelets.

"Well, thanks. Thanks a lot, honestly Sesshomaru. You really don't know how much this means to me…or my family. Is there anything else I can help you with while we're out?" Polly stammered numbly, not really fully processing what happened.

"This Sesshomaru desires a communication device, and a garment with Nirvana depicted on it. Jaken informed me that it is custom to wear such things in this realm." Sesshomaru put on his sunglasses and looked out into the street. If he were to be here in this realm, he would blend in to avoid further attentions to his person.

"Yeah, I can definitely help with that. Let me guess, you only want one in white or red white? I haven't seen you wear anything else." Polly joked, her voice finally starting to sound like her own after coming down from shock.

"Lord Sesshomaru wears red and white to represent his Lordship of the Western Lands!" Jaken sputtered, puffing out his chest wide.

"Yeah, well, I got your back. First stop, cellphone. Next your t-shirt and shopping for your hot date with that Sisson guy tonight. You'll be so hot, 'Chocolate' will melt in your hand." Polly winked and practically skipped, lips curled in a bright smile down fifth avenue. Sesshomaru fought satisfaction at seeing her cheerful disposition


 Ping.

The barrier resounded.

An airborne enemy was fast approaching, the barrier alerted him before even he heard the vessel. Bakusaiga and Tenseiga both pulsed, one in anticipation, one in warning. He and Jaken were in what he learned was called Central Park, at the location of Bethesda fountain plaza.

Humans continued to mill about in the park unaware of the eminent threat. In this location, due to it being out in the open, he could fight easier than in the city with its tall structures and narrow pathways.

"Lord Sesshomaru, you felt that correct? Something evil approaches!" Jaken jumped wearing a new AC/DC shirt and holding a bulky shopping bag. Sesshomaru continued to walk calmly to the fountain in the center of the plaza.

"Yes, be wary Jaken." Sesshomaru had Tenseiga and Bakusaiga in their proper drafting paper tubes and was dressed in his new human clothing. Including his favored aviators. He had never fought in his new attire, but did not think it would be much of an issue other than slightly confining.

He heard the shrieking engines of the sleek ship, different than the one he flew to New York in and much larger. He turned North to see the ship approach the park and the humans began to scream.

Sesshomaru was thankful for Stark's 'hear-aints' devices.

He watched as smaller vessels departed the larger one and headed straight towards him in a sloppy attack formation.

'Odd. Can they sense me? Do they pursue me? It saves me time, them coming to me to slay them.' Sesshomaru readied himself and made note that the humans in the park were either fleeing or holding their cellphones up to the sky, Polly taught him the proper term of the communication device yesterday.

Sesshomaru stood by the fountain and pulsed his youki, causing all the water to displace and shoot out in a sloshing wave, soaking Jaken, who managed to keep the shopping bag dry.

Jaken was protesting as he cracked his knuckles and the toxin dripped forth, hissing onto the stone. Sesshomaru remained impassive as the dozen small ships approached him, all smaller than the taxi Loki once tricked him into.

Vehicles, never again.

Sesshomaru readied his whip and when they opened fire he leapt into the air, and with a swirling flourish he intercepted the blue projectiles, reflecting them back at the manned vessels. They meteored down, afire, his foes screaming in the flames.

He landed with grace and three of the ships landed, each with three creatures on them.

'These must be the Chitauri that Loki mentioned. Ugly, tactless creatures.' Sesshomaru regarded them with disdain as one approached.

"We have been ordered by our Dark Lord to apprehend you Sesshomaru, Demon Eternal, or the Godling Broken Blade, whoever you are, and return you. You will come willingly or not." The leader snarled, holding what looked like a chain and harness of some sort.

Sesshomaru revealed no expression at being recognized, though he was perplexed. He had no idea how they knew who he was, and how they sensed him. His existence in this time should not be known by them. He also had no idea how they knew Loki had shape-shifted into his own form.

Loki's presence out of the Asgardian prison was also a closely guarded secret.

The other ships then surrounded him, the fountain, and Jaken. They were caught in the center. The Chitauri surrounded him, three dozen in all.

"...I think not. Artless creatures." Sesshomaru pooled out his toxin whip and began to spin, his whip spiraling out and gyrating around him like a galaxy. Upon the height of it's speed, the revolving flashes of the whip lashed out, cutting the Chitauri down brutally. Sprays of purple blood and ribbons of entrails ringed the pavilion like a painting.

Two remained. One fired a ray at him, similar to the bullets. His youki flashed red, and rebuffed the ray and charged the offending Chitauri.

"You will fall, you abomination! You Celestial experimen—" Sesshomaru cut him off by decapitating him with his talons. Sesshomaru clutched the sticky, ugly head by the oozing neck vertebrae. He threw the severed head at the other Chitauri, disarming him of his ray device. Then he flashed to him, fisting his talons through his gut, eviscerating him.

While flicking the blood and viscera from his talons, some of the humans began to cheer, others began to cry. Many still held up their cellphones.

He side stepped from an encroaching blood puddle.

'Why they did not have to hold sense to escape is beyond me. Stupid, curious humans. Foolish Loki for getting me involved in such tiresome predicaments.' Sesshomaru heard many more of the smaller vessels approaching, at an accelerated pace.

This time, more ships glided from the larger vessel, they dotted the sky like a swarm of Naraku's poisonous insects. Sesshomaru had had enough. From the tube, he withdrew Bakusaiga, who chirped in delight.

It was then he heard a familiar roar. The Berserker. He had no time for this.

Humans screamed and scattered in all directions as the Berserker crashed through the park, cratering soil, splintering trees and leveling stands. Some of the humans even ran towards him as if he were some sort of personal protector. Sesshomaru's ears lowered.

'So even still the Berserker has limited control over his true form. He is truly as bad as Inuyasha.' Sesshomaru lifted his chin loftily.

Sesshomaru determined he would not interfere with the Berserker unless he directly intervened in his affairs. Gripping Bakusaiga tightly he jumped onto the top of the fountain pointing Bakusaiga at the oncoming attacking squadron.

Bakusaiga buzzed with verdant green lightning and twisting flames.

He leapt high into the sky, the clipping sound of a hovering human ship sounded to his south east. Bakusaiga sparked in glee, over-eager to taste the blood of their foolish challengers.

He was about to allow Bakusaiga the devastation she craved when he heard a familiar, mechanical sound, North of his location. The unique propulsion system of a certain red and gold suit.

Stark was in the fray!

Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed as he powered down Bakusaiga, he saw some of the ships fall on the left-most flank but the rest ignored them, still aiming towards Sesshomaru. Out of his peripheral vision he saw Jaken hide in the drained fountain from the disoriented Berserker who was smashing a two-wheeled vehicle.

Sesshomaru gauged the distance between Stark on the left and the incoming right flank of about fifty ships. He ratcheted up Bakusaiga's flaming youki again. With a snap of energy Bakusaiga fired off a perfect beam of decomposition energy at the right flank of the squadron.

The column of energy reverberated and engulfed the ships and shot out past them into the atmosphere. The after effects of the beam smoldered in the air for a moment before disappearing entirely.

They never stood a chance.

The Berserker, seeing the display of power then rushed the fountain when he landed. His blood draining roar chilled Jaken and a small girl who had gotten left behind in the rush. Sesshomaru's eyes widened a fraction. She had black hair.

Sesshomaru, reluctantly, gathered his ice blue youki and pulsed it out towards the Berserker like a wave of water.

"Behave Berserker. This Sesshomaru is busy." Sesshomaru's pupils sharpened and he cracked his knuckles.

The Berserker ceased his advance and Sesshomaru swore he saw recognition in his dark eyes.

'Thrice I have reprimanded this Berserker, perhaps next time he will not require my aid.' Sesshomaru hoped, and remembered in his scry the Berserker seemed focused. The Berserker may have hope yet to control his true form, unlike Inuyasha.

It was then the other ships converged and opened fire. Many also landed, the Chitauri scrambling off their crafts with similar shackles. He bounded high in the air, and with his left hand, uncoiled his whip and fully extended it, twisting to eliminate or reflect back all the incoming projectiles. He destroyed most.

Not all.

Not the one that flew harmlessly past him, towards Jaken and the girl.

'I won't get to them in time. I should have told Jaken to get back.' Sesshomaru's eyes widened and his ears pricked up in alarm.

It was then he saw the Berserker fling his mass in front of them, shielding them from the explosion with his massive, muscled frame.

Sesshomaru's ears lowered as the Berserker's smoldering body turned towards him. Sesshomaru nodded in thanks, and the Berserker grunted. The girl fled, crying.

'The Berserker is learning. This is fortunate. Now, to the matter at hand.' Sesshomaru's eyes sharpened as the squadron drew in close.

He eyed the Berserker and the Berserker, cognizant, eyed him back. Sesshomaru jutted his chin over and the Hulk rampaged forth, battering away the Chitauri on the ground as if made of rice paper. Sesshomaru's eyes widened when he saw the Berserker take one of the Chitauri and throw him through the air, becoming a pinprick in the distance. The Berserker then picked up one of the crafts and started beating the standing Chitauri with it, smashing them into the stone.

'I see, his strength, perhaps, is a touch impressive.' Sesshomaru amended his first impression of the Berserker. Joining the fray, he sliced through the Chitauri with Bakusaiga with swift, allayed strokes, careful not to use more decomposition energy than necessary to dispose of them. He and the Berserker finished off the last of their ground troops with Sesshomaru beheading another Chitauri, watching his body and severed head decay into dust.

Stark then showed up, suit blazing red in the bright blue sky.

"I wasn't kidding about the name tag with my address on it." Sesshomaru ignored him. "Think you can do another light show like that, Daft Punk?" Sesshomaru gripped Bakusaiga tighter at the strange name.

"If you stay out of my way, yes." Sesshomaru allowed a small smirk.

"Just watch for Legolas and Capsicle they're picking some of th-Wait, are you wearing a Nirvana Serve the Servants T-shirt?!" Stark's voice raised half an octave and Sesshomaru quirked an eyebrow.

'I cannot discern if this human is indeed insane or purposely antagonizes this Sesshomaru.' Sesshomaru's ears twitched, wishing he could see Stark's face to gauge his emotions.

"You ask this Sesshomaru about garments mid-battle?" Sesshomaru slowly deadpanned. Stark laughed.

"Yeah, I've never been one for good timing. I'm impressed after the Star Wars movie that you've officially gone full hipster." Tony fired a supercharged repulsor blast at an approaching vessel, obliterating it.

Sesshomaru immediately sensed his own youki from the suit. However now was not the time to inspect how a human managed to harness his own youki and use it offensively. Stark once more fired an explosive projectile at a Chitauri.

The Chitauri dodged and with a chattering of a spell Sesshomaru did not catch, the manacles he held glowed violet. As quick as any tentacle from Naraku, the manacles shot out and latched themselves onto Sesshomaru's wrists. A sharp sting of pain lanced up from his wrists, his eyes went wide. The magicked chains pitched down, impossibly heavy, to force him to the ground. He lurched forward and gritted his fangs in an attempt to resist the pull.

"Hey! Don't touch my stuff." Stark shouted instantly and from his armor's wrist a red laser beam severed the chains and the Chitauri before it could revel in its victory.

"My stuff?" Sesshomaru's ears lowered. Stark...possessive?

"Ugh. Fine. Don't touch my sulky," Repulsor blast. "sensitive, prissy," Another projectile. "gorgeous Demon squatter. Happy? You can do happy, right Teen Spirit?" Stark twisted through the air, leaving only bits of the enemy behind in his temper.

'Gorgeous? Does Stark desire me?' Sesshomaru tilted his head to the side and Tenseiga hummed contentedly.

"...I do not sulk...I shall employ Bakusaiga on the smaller vessels. After I will lure the flagship away from the metropolis and destroy it over the harbor." Sesshomaru replied calmly and pointed Bakusaiga towards the most densely packed section of the squadron.

"Just focus Backstreet boy on the Chitauri chariots. SHIELD is scrambling their helicarriers so you shouldn't have to worry about taking out Piett's star destroyer." Stark responded as the Berserker flung himself into the air, grabbing two vessels from the sky and slamming them to the ground, kicking up dirt.

"This Sesshomaru allows no one to take his kill." Sesshomaru's tone left no argument as he pointed an incandescent Bakusaiga towards the enemy once more. Bakusaiga's green energy ignited into a flame. Stark, who was still firing on some of the outliers, made sure he was clear of the blast when he leapt and discharged the beam of corrosive green youki.

It shot straight and true through the heart of the progressing vessels, disintegrating most of them.

"Ok, no playing with that toy in the house." Stark joked, admiring the destruction. Sesshomaru landed softly. However, more poured out of the flagship. An endless swarm like Naraku's insects indeed.

"Disgusting human, Bakusaiga is no plaything, she is the most powerful weapon in existence!" Jaken shouted, hopping out of the drained fountain and standing next to the Berserker.

"Go play in traffic, Frogger." Tony retorted.

"Jaken remain here." Sesshomaru looked down at his loyal retainer, appraising his wet, though unharmed condition. He was also relieved that his garments in Jaken's care stayed dry.

"It's like you have a bone, Lassie. Just wait for SHIELD, they shou-" Stark narrowly dodged an incoming projectile, striking the ground near the Berserker. Barton and Rogers came running to meet them. The Berserker pounded his massive fists.

"Hey, they're all headed this direction, was that all you with that Death Star cannon? That was clutch...are you wearing a Nirvana T-shirt?" Barton began and without looking, fired an arrow hitting an incoming ship dead center.

"Yes. I am departing to lure the main vessel away." Sesshomaru responded simply, tossing his hair.

"Don't engage it. You don't know the payload of fire-power it has!" Stark protested. Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes in annoyance.

"Do not presume to order me about nor underestimate me." Sesshomaru's voice iced out, pulsing his youki. His thoughts flashed to the other night, seeing Loki straddling Stark on the floor of his bedchambers.

'He sees me as weak! He saw my injuries when Loki engaged me and poisoned me three nights prior. He thinks I am easily overtaken and ambushed! Perhaps that is why he sought out Loki's company that evening on the floor of his quarters. He thinks I am some unworthy weakling needing protection!' Sesshomaru suddenly saw red.

"Hey, who is new to this century again? I'm not underestimating you, I used to make weapons for a living, trust me this thing could pack some serious extra-terrestrial heat." Stark insisted, voice tight.

'A lie. First the Berserker underestimates my intelligence with the strategy, now Stark with my strength. How dare Stark underestimate this Sesshomaru after witnessing me dispatch most of their fleet! Does he think I am simply lucky?' Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles, youki spiking.

"I agree with Sesshomaru, Tony." Rogers turned to Sesshomaru. "If you can get the ship away from the city that would minimize casualties. SHIELD can take it out with the helicarriers more easily over water and they're only about four minutes out. We will clean up the rest of the ships and other Chitauri that have landed." Rogers explained. Sesshomaru did not bother to correct him that he would take out the cruiser, not their helicarriers. He turned, ignoring Stark's cursing.

With a mighty leap, Sesshomaru jettisoned into the air, bounding South through the rest of the park and along sky scrapers. He had one destination in mind, the large green statue. He would kite their flagship over water and sink her.

Chariots whirred and screamed behind him, chasing him as he bounded towards the harbor.

Brandishing Bakusaiga, she pulsed in unadulterated delight as he twisted back and cleaved in half three of the Chitauri. With a flick of a wrist he also carved the offending chariot in two.

The Chitauri's bodies began to eat away and a bolt of magical energy came straight forwards him. He backhanded it away with his left hand. It stung and burned more than he cared to admit.

Eyes hard and markings dancing in rage, he rebounded. He left an after-image and dispatched two more chariots before unleashing another shot of Bakusaiga's brutality down the street littered with the pests.

'What disorganized creatures. Even Huto's army was better commanded.' Sesshomaru took advantage of the enemy's disarray and whipped around, his long silver hair a blur.

"Die." The spiraling torrent of youki that pulsed forth from Bakusaiga avoided all nearby structures and flooded out like water. The corrosive force illuminated the bright, clear sunny day too brightly to stare at. Sesshomaru didn't linger to inspect the damage.

Dashing over buildings and using his full speed, he vaulted from a tall building onto a large barge in the water. He barely tapped his foot down before setting off again for his target, the torch of the statue.

He turned and allowed himself a small lift of lips when indeed the largest ship finally gave chase. The wind whipping his long silver hair as he awaited the challenge on the metal flame. Bakusaiga sparked green and glowed softly in anticipation.

She had one last attack left in her.

'These beings meant to capture Loki or myself. Those chains were enchanted to bind us both, but for what desire or purpose? And why did they think I could be Loki? I quieted Tenseiga after learning it was he who produced his magic, so it cannot be Tenseiga.' Sesshomaru frowned surging his youki from its docile blue to hostile red around him. It swirled and spiked around him.

The ship accelerated, as if accepting Sesshomaru's challenge, and Sesshomaru waited for the opportune moment.

Two doors underneath the ship opened to extend two cannons on either side. Immediately they charged up, glowing hot and gold. Sesshomaru knew he had a small window of time to act.

Too soon and the ship would fall onto the city, too late and he left himself vulnerable to the ship's defenses.

Off to his left he heard the chopping sound of a human vessel hovering. It sounded too small to be those helicarriers Stark and Rogers referenced.

'It is time Bakusaiga, to show our ourselves. It is a matter of pride.' Sesshomaru reeled in and gathered in youki, concentrating it. He pointed Bakusaiga towards the ship, now in attack position. He expected the cannons to fire right then, however, something far more mysterious occurred. Doors opened up like a mouth from the top of the ship.

Immediately his senses spiked and tingled.

Youki.

Warped and weakened, but youki. Nostalgia and excitement flurried through his red youki.

A stream of shadowed, star spangled youki coiled up and out of the door, hovering above the ship. The dragon spirit had a fanged mouth, ruby red eyes, and a white noh mask he knew too well.

He knew this Demon spirit, this soul from the Demon Underworld.

Ryukotsusei.

Sesshomaru forced his zig-zagging Demon Blood to calm in his veins. Why was his father's slayer here?

"So, first the bastard, now the heir. The eldest son of Inu no Taisho lives indeed. How fortunate for me." Sesshomaru didn't hear his voice, it instead echoed in his head.

"Fortunate? Nothing about you is fortunate, Ryukotsusei." Sesshomaru bit back, unimpressed. Ryuotsusei's laugh sounded raspy.

"The same could be said of you, Lord Sesshomaru! I have orders to capture you, the Eternal...or your friend, the Broken Blade. Yet, that voice is far, too far away. Instead, I implore you to free me. I was not meant for this station." Ryukotsusei rambled, disoriented.

Sesshomaru scoffed and Bakusaiga giggled in euphoria as the ship's cannons began to alight in clustered spheres of gold energy.

"Kneel then." Sesshomaru supplemented his red youki with Bakusaiga's energy beam. The snapping red lightning infused the green ray and with a peal of static noise, it struck the bow of the ship. The initial explosion sparked a chain reaction through its hull.

Bakusaiga slumbered, spent of energy. He quickly sheathed her. He had fought these specters before.

He withdrew Tenseiga and cleaved through the air in front of him. A slice of blue youki hit the Dragon's Spirit right on, evaporating him and a sigh echoed.

Then the cannons finally fired.

One fired wide left into the sea creating a tremendous blowout of salt water. The second came straight on.

Sesshomaru concentrated and flared out his red youki before the cannon blast hit. The youki wall met with the blazing stream with a scraping, jolting buzz. He ground his fangs as his shoes dented the metal flame underneath him due to the pressure.

The immense saffron burst was eroding his youki wall! Sesshomaru winced. He would not, could not be defeated here. He had never come across a force like this before.

Tenseiga pulsed. No.

He didn't need Tenseiga's protection. He didn't need anyone's protection but his own.

'I will not back down here. I am to prove to Stark and the rest of these Avengers what I am truly capable of. I am the Lord of the Western Lands and this technology will bend to me, not the other way around!' Sesshomaru's eyes bled fully red and his markings morphed into jagged lines, the ones on his wrists turned crimson as he struggled to repel the cannon blast.

Sesshomaru, with one final, feral growl, gushed his scarlet youki out.

Like a clawed hand, his scarlet youki jolted through the air between him and the deadly shot. His red youki webbed out around the golden cannon blast, ensconcing it and with a muffled boom, imploded it.

It was done.

'Ryukotsusei. How could he be here? Why was he working for this Titan Warlord? What did he mean by Eternal?' Sesshomaru sheathed Tenseiga, standing tall on the flame. It didn't matter right now. Now, what mattered was that Stark had witnessed his true might. Perhaps he would reconsider romping about with Loki.

Sesshomaru flipped his aviator sunglasses back on as the sleek, black ship plummeted from the sky as a smoldering heap into the choppy harbor.

Chapter Text

Tony and the Anomaly

*(*

"Dum-e, hold it steady or I'll have Fury mount you as the figurehead on one of the Helicarriers." Tony chirped as Dum-e held up a blow torch. Dum-e whined and Tony rolled his eyes. He was almost done.

Tony Stark used to make weapons for a living. All sorts of weapons, big, small, semi-automatic, auto-targeting, incendiary, explosive, heat seeking, tactical, aircraft, anti-aircraft, nuclear, you name it. Tony Stark knew weapons. He helped write the book on being an arms dealer, merchant, savant, whatever.

So, Tony Stark knew a weapon when he saw one. He knew Sesshomaru, the reserved Dog Demon he was, had tricks up his sleeve and held back. He was waiting for the intimidating Demon Lord to show them how he really threw down.

Tony wasn't a very patient person, if he didn't see more out of the Demon Lord soon he was going to provoke him with his new and improved 'youki blasters'. Nothing like taking a dose of your own medicine, especially after causing him so much grief.

Yet, he didn't expect his display of power to be against an alien attack cruiser that was two months ahead of schedule. Tony couldn't get a cocktail made on time at one of his own functions, but an alien invasion, that made sense. Early even.

When the ship descended upon New York, Jarvis immediately alerted him and his blood ran icy. When he had his chat with Loki three years ago in Stark Tower, he said that the invasion was on him. That even if the Chitauri were to come and reap the Earth, that it was on Loki. He and the rest of the Avengers would avenge the Earth.

This time around though, was different. It was on all of them.

Especially on him.

He made the decision to not turn Loki into SHIELD when he appeared on his balcony. He decided to not kill Sesshomaru when he had passed out after his 'scrynado'. He, Tony Stark, unintentionally had taken responsibility, even if for selfish, mostly curious reasons. 'Responsibility' plus 'Tony Stark' was supposed to equal 'not in this lifetime'.

But then he had to go and sign up with Fury's super secret boy band.

He couldn't pay Pepper to do this. He couldn't pay Pepper to get rid of everyone who was inhabiting his house, his tower. Blowing up his microwaves, drinking his coffee, using his kitchen, queuing up terrible movies to his Tivo. He couldn't tell everyone to buzz off and stop acting like a weirdly comfortable family.

Before, his family was Dum-e, Jarvis, and on occasion when he wasn't being particularly anti-social, Pepper, and Rhodey. Now, well, now he was not only entertaining, not only harboring, but full out getting used to them being in his tower.

And, the past two days, and an encore of presentation of the blue man group told him he wasn't quite sure how to handle it. If he could handle it. It didn't escape Tony that it took the event of having four of the 'ice cream party' missing to how uneasy and unbalanced everything became.

It made his stomach churn.

Because, after the four of them left, everything frayed at the edges. Sesshomaru left like he had more important places to be. He hated being left, but he did promise him he would stick around, so Tony grumbled, drank more of his 'overpriced but totally worth it' coffee and stuck to his work.

Clint mostly tensely paced around from room to room, which only phased Tony because he knew Clint was usually was perfectly fine being alone. Cap made everything worse to Tony by pointing out that yes, the com he gave to Nat would most likely not work, and Steve proclaimed it would be on himself if she didn't come back with all spidey-senses tingling.

'No Steve. It isn't on you. It's actually, mostly on me. Yes, you're the lead singer for Fury's 'SHIELD's Got Talent' squad, but this isn't your tower, you aren't funding SHIELD, you didn't have to make the call about Loki, about Sailor Moon, risk having your best friend shun you over having an 'enemy of the state' squatting in substorage room 3-b. Your arc reactor isn't harmonizing with a Demon Lord.' Tony ran a finger around the outside of his arc reactor absently.

Bruce kept up with him in the lab, to Tony's relief, but he mostly thought it was also to keep him from binge-drinking. Bruce was good company and all, but he didn't keep the rakes of anxiety scratching his mind at bay.

He also hadn't slept the past two nights, how could he? He had to prep, he had to get the proximity barrier fully up and running. He had the toxins to perfect. He had to get everything ready, if no one else was.

He had to be on his A-game especially with Thor and Loki still having tea and biscuits with Allfather and friends, Steve and Clint having a boy scout field trip at a baseball game, and Sesshomaru wandering around AWOL. Sesshomaru was probably going on a romantic stroll with that loser he caught him with last night.

Not that he was spying on the Demon Lord. Loki did tell him to make sure he didn't scry, it was preventative maintenance.

Obviously, he tracked Sailor Moon as he went all over Soho with Toady in tow. Ultimately when he back to that Steakhouse on 9th street Tony decided to investigate. Tony's mind overheated in an attempt to rectify how he managed to barter for that Armani crimson silk shirt, unbuttoned to show far too much of his throat and chest, and those charcoal pants that made his legs look runway long.

But he wasn't wearing the outfit for him, and he didn't return to Stark Tower that night either.

That didn't sit well with Tony. Just who did this new guy think he was? He probably didn't know anything about Sailor Moon, especially that he wasn't even human, and that his species ate humans. Like a guy like that could handle who he really was.

Tony was prepared to drag Sailor Moon back to Stark Tower by his hair if he didn't return by tonight.

But of course, as his life would have it, Sailor Moon was quite literally a mayhem magnet because an alien battleship appeared and what did he know?! The ship actually chased him!

Tony knew once the ship didn't accelerate towards anything nor open fire indiscriminately that it had an intended target, as most weapons do.

And if the intended target wasn't Stark Tower, Tony made a wild guess that the ship's target had to be single most destructive force in his life: the Demon Lord. Tony, per usual, was right of course.

He was thankful Clint wanted to get off a stop early from the Iron Man Express. He wasn't about to let Sesshomaru face down an unknown alien death ship with swarms of Chitauri alone especially after the whole 'Tony Stark attempts comfort' speech he gave him.

But, turns out, he didn't have to make a bee-line after all.

Because, while you can piss in his suits, as he once showed at a party, he didn't like to make a habit of it. Yet, when he saw the giant green death-ray incinerate over fifty of those Chitauri flying scooters, a little bit may have come out.

It jellied his bones and caused every warning bell and whistle alarm in his suit to sound. Jarvis jabbered in his ear like Armageddon had arrived. He had never seen anything like it, it was terrifying, and humbling. He wondered if the victims of his weapons hearts thudded like his did when he saw the incomprehensibly powerful torrent of green energy surge past him.

For a split second, all rational thought of trajectory, direction and logic went out the window as Tony Stark, Iron Man and one of 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes', was too late to save New York, and a certain lost dog of his.

His arc reactor jolted him back to reality when it lit up like Steve's eyes when he talks about teamwork. Jarvis reported his arc reactor had a positive relationship with the energy. Instantly, Tony got it.

That blast came from Sailor Moon, not the other way around.

'Destructive force in my life, again right on target. Sailor Moon may be in the lightweight weight class, physically, but he doesn't fight like one.' Tony thought Thor had a mean swing. This is who they had mouthed off to in the desert of New Mexico. Tony really should have known better.

They really could have used him three years ago.

Tony wondered just how much Loki knew about his best friend's power he really knew about. Loki, when they learned about Sailor Moon's past admitted he didn't know exactly what he was capable of.

Tony, along with Natasha figured that Sesshomaru hadn't used his swords: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern…Nsync and Backstreet boy, whatever, for a reason. Tony also figured that they weren't ordinary swords, belonging to a Demon Lord and all. But, he made that one sword of his sound like a surly teenage girl, not the imperial Death Star.

Tony couldn't envision a more efficient weapon, and he thought SHIELD would realize the same thing.

Tony, however, knew that just because you got a big gun doesn't mean someone else doesn't have a bigger one. That was what the Cold War was all about, the Arms Race. Nuclear Deterrents. Who can blow each other up more, not who can just blow something up.

Again, he knew weapons. So, when Sesshomaru wanted to take off to be bait for a battleship of unknown firepower he had a problem with it. No one else seemed to, but they didn't see things the way Tony did. They weren't as smart as he was, and well, Tony couldn't really fault them for that.

Well, Bruce was up there, but Bruce was currently the Green Machine and didn't have a whole lot to say besides grunting.

Because, he was one guy versus a ship; one false move and you're Swiss cheese, or a smear on a wall. Ask that tank guy from Tianamen square. Oh, wait, you can't.

He began to understand Loki's frustration Sesshomaru's recklessness...and the last thing Tony needed for his sanity was to understand Loki's rationale for anything.

'Like I said literal mayhem magnet, and I'm harmonizing with him!' Tony grumbled, hunched over his workshop counter, trying, in vain, to quell his anger.

He still let Steve have it for giving the green light to the stupidest game of playing hard to get ever. Just because Sesshomaru wasn't an Avenger didn't mean you could just whore him out to do your dirty work. Sailor Moon even said he didn't do dirty work, but here he was, drawing a deadly spaceship away from a densely populated city to safety. He didn't even have a good reason to, it was obvious to Tony Sailor Moon hated New York City.

Tony almost expected him to let the ship fall to get rid of some of the 'moronic humans' but that was definitely more Loki's deal.

'Yet, he took on a fucking space battle cruiser, blew it up, suppressed its payload without a scratch on him. All from on top of the Statue of Liberty like he wasn't showing off enough. 'Sho is a total 'sho' off.' Tony rolled his eyes.

All five of them, Jaken included, held their breath when they saw Sesshomaru's red youki almost get snuffed out by the ship's attack. Tony didn't have a pulse until he saw Sesshomaru retaliate and implode it successfully.

Tony usually liked being right, but he didn't want to be right with a dead Demon Lord, a pissed-off Loki, and a crying little girl.

Tony, when his pulse returned, didn't dare to philosophize whether or not he worried over the Demon Lord. Tony Stark didn't do 'worry'. Clearly his arc reactor was going all 'rogue-omaru' on him. Also, he had to admit if Statue of Liberty was blown to hell it wouldn't be good for anyone's morale.

However, it would be wrong for Tony Stark, former merchant of death, to say he underestimated Sesshomaru. He didn't. How could he? He just saw the guy obliterate almost a whole battalion of Chitauri wearing a Nirvana T-shirt and aviators.

Plus, the whole slicing and dicing on the way out of New York was brilliant.

Tony just didn't like underestimating an enemy, and if he got killed Rin would cry and Pepper, and Reindeer Games would probably blame him.

'Speaking of Pepper, she should be getting here in a few hours. I was good this time and told her what was happening when I left Stark Tower. She can't be that mad.' Tony reasoned rubbing the back of his neck. 'Well, too mad.' Tony corrected as he finished repairing one of the repulsor gauntlets that got damaged in the fight in the park.

The hours following the attack were long and obnoxious. Tony had a lot to say to the sulky Demon, but he opted instead to cool off and do repairs. He wasn't the only one who wanted to talk to him though. Fury called him approximately four hundred times to talk to Sailor Moon and each time he redirected the call.

Instead, Fury blew up Clint's phone demanding to know where Natasha was. That went over well. Fury obviously didn't like Clint's snarky answer of 'she's studying abroad', and Clint shouted into the phone for a good forty seconds. Fury was pissed and on his way over to Stark Tower in a few hours after wrapping up E.T.'s playhouse in the bay.

'Cool your jets cyclops. I get it, you're pissed, I'm pissed too. It's just a big fucking pissing match. Let's arm wrestle over it. It's not like you even did anything this go around.' Tony scowled, the nerve of that entitled asshole. Clint already seemed on edge and in a general bad mood. Tony didn't usually notice those types of things, but he had seen Clint literally staring at a turned off TV. Fury blowing his top over something Clint couldn't control didn't sit well with the inventor.

Another reason Tony didn't trust SHIELD. If that's how they treated their most dedicated people, he sure as hell didn't want to see how SHIELD treated that Galaga player he called out. Or to see them get their hands into his tech, especially Sirius and Cerberus he and Bruce perfected.

Bruce was moping somewhere, totally overreacting to his recent 'hulkburst.' All the did was bust up a motorcycle and scare some kids. He even apparently saved Toady and a little girl, then threw a Chitauri all the way to Queens. Tony knew Bruce could be hard on himself, so he didn't say anything. But still, guy has got to cut himself a little slack.

Steve was talking to Agent Hill about the Chitauri, the invasion, and how to proceed from here. Agent Hill looked about as approachable as a box of snakes.

'Good luck with that Steve, like any of us, maybe save Reindeer Games, know what the hell is happening. Hopefully the 'scamtastic four' come back soon so we can actually talk strategy. Seriously. We have to rely on Loki. This has disaster written all over it.' Tony shrugged to himself, finally leaving his workshop, fixing up his suit from the minimal damage it too during the fight.

So far they didn't tell SHIELD anything about Loki, but it was only a matter of time before they came back from Asgard and the shitstorm really picked up speed.

Luckily, there was only one ship, not a whole fleet. No signs that the whole armada was gonna bust down their gates while two of their players and Reindeer Games were in the penalty box.

Everyone, including Agent Hill, was avoiding the elephant (dog?) in the room, Sesshomaru. Fury wasn't the slightest bit grateful that Sesshomaru probably saved countless lives, which irked Tony. Even though Sesshomaru took matters in his own hands, Tony had to admit that the calculated explosive force of the ship's cannons would have shredded through the helicarrier's armor. Along with the enemy ship's maneuverability it could have easily taken out one or two of the helicarriers.

'Maybe it would have been worth it if Fury was on board a helicarrier. Nah, he'd survive just to spite me." Tony snuck out of his workshop, trying his best to avoid everyone.

In short, it would have taken a lot longer to deal with the ship on their own without Sailor Moon's help. Not that he wasn't still mad. He still should have waited for backup.

'It was a turn on though.' Tony, aggravated at himself for that rogue thought, then downed his coffee. Using the resulting caffeine rush to fuel his confrontation with the arrogant Demon Lord, he made his way through the living room. He may have been a Lord in his time but he it was his name on his tower.

After he battle, He did credit the Demon for coming back to Stark Tower after the helicarriers arrived. Tony laughed when one of them tried to order Sesshomaru via loudspeaker to stay where he was on the Statue of Liberty. That resulted in Sesshomaru leaping onto the helicarrier and slicing the nose cone off one of Fury's F-22 Raptors with his whip. He should have predicted that outcome. Luckily Sailor Moon decided enough was enough and came back home.

Tony found Sesshomaru on the roof, sitting on the Quinjet staring intently off into the distance like something called out to him. Or maybe practicing for an upcoming photo shoot for that Jason Sisson. Yeah, he found out who his hot date was.

Toady sat next to him, suspiciously silent, and it didn't get past Tony that the atmosphere was tense.

Maybe they were discussing what exactly he heard inside his head when the space dragon came out of the mothership like a stripper out of a birthday cake.

Tony was beginning to really get sick of all these plasma readings he couldn't actually study.

"Hey toady, gotta talk to Sailor Moon here. Why don't you, Oh, I don't know, go find two friends and make a Budweiser commercial?" Tony strutted up to the Quinjet and Jaken balked.

"How dare you order me around! Lord Sesshomaru punish him for his insolence!" Jaken shook his fist.

"Leave us Jaken." Sesshomaru's deep voice rang out, but didn't turn to face Tony. Tony scrunched his face, suddenly irked.

"Yeah beat it, you know Michael Jackson don't you?" Jaken grumbled and with a dexterity Tony didn't know Jaken possessed, jumped down, landed on his feet, and muttered something about how AC/DC was better. Agreed.

"Hey, look, so Director Fury of the helicarrier 'who do I yell at first' is gonna come by. Not that I prefer it, but Cap loves a good Pow-Wow and Pepper gave me the ' you need to compromise' look. We gotta talk about how all this is gonna pla-hey are you ignoring me?!" Tony reacted as Sesshomaru still stared off in space, the wind blowing his hair softly.

"Oh my god. You. Princess. You're mad at me." This got Sesshomaru's attention and in a blink he was in front of Stark, so close Tony could see his razor blade sharp pupils dilate slightly.

So, he was mad at him? Game on. Tony grappled onto his simmering anger; he was going to give him hell.

"This Sesshomaru is no woman." Sesshomaru hissed, looking like he wanted to take Tony by the throat again. Tony couldn't help but try to take in all of his facial features. They hadn't been this close since he carried him.

He was right about him in Central Park. He was easier to rile up than Cap.

"I am so right, you do too sulk. Still hung up over me telling you off about the death-ship aren't you?" Tony challenged, shifting his weight to the balls of his feet.

"...this Sesshomaru is no child to be ordered about." Tony caught the minute tells that he was actually mad, and not just bored. His pupils shrank in, his ears even went back, like a dogs would.

"Yeah, yeah, I think we have confirmed you're an adult male, thanks Sex Ed. If you think I had a problem with you going toe to toe with a murderous alien death-ship, you're right but not because I underestimated you." Tony flipped his wrists in a 'goddamnit just listen to me' pose. Sesshomaru calmed, interested.

"Explain." Sesshomaru's ears twitched, which Tony noticed. Tony still wanted to bite one. Angry sex always helped.

"I used to make weapons for a living. Big ones, bigger than that space ship's cannons, and could reap a higher death toll and payload. Hell, the nuke I threw into the first invasion's armada could have been mine. I've also been blown up by my own weapons. Not fun. So, when I see a super star destroyer coming I know it's gonna pack a punch. It had nothing to do with you not using your Backstreet Boy sword on it, but everything to do with its weaponry and capability!" Tony began to get mad, he also hated looking up to him. Sesshomaru had be like 6'2". Tony could see the twitch of the side of his lip downwards.

'Sailor Moon is accusing me of underestimating him, but I saw what happened to that one cannon shot. He had trouble containing it. It wasn't easy for him. If both shots had been accurate he would have been… no. I do not deal in what ifs.' Tony's eyes lit up in realization.

"In fact, I think you underestimated the cruiser and that's why you're really pissed." Tony's mouth crooked into a shit-eating grin and Sesshomaru's eyes widened marginally. Sesshomaru' talons released a bit of toxin onto the roof, sizzling it.

Oh yeah. Hammer meet nail.

"It's OK, I mean, we all can't be perfect, well I can, and am. I'm the exception. I mean, look at me. You can try to measure up to my greatness, I do like some good competition. But don't try to measure up by taking on another battleship solo again. Teamwork remember? I told you, you have the Avengers, and you have me and my tech. God, Capcicle would be so proud of me right now." Tony preened himself, relaxing. Sesshomaru still stood stock still, regarding Tony like a one would a creature they had never seen before. Tony began to feel a tingle on his skin. How much would Sailor Moon maim him if he did bite one of those wiggling ears?

'Is he like, looking me over like a predator would a meal? What in the hell is going on? Gods his skin is flawless; Pepper would probably want his skin care routine. Is it weird to notice skin? Christ, he is still wearing that Nirvana T-shirt. Where did he find it anyway?' Tony's thoughts rambled.

"...this Sesshomaru does what he pleases." Sesshomaru eventually replied, and Tony fucking lost it. His brown eyes lit up and poked Sesshomaru's hard chest with his finger. Which in hindsight may not have been his wisest idea since Sesshomaru positively growled, he could feel his chest rumble and that too turned him on.

He was so warm, and his finger tingled at his cotton t-shirt. He wondered what it would be like to touch his chest, skin to skin.

"No, not in fucking battle. Not when we are all working together to save our world. You should know how bad it is for one of your soldiers to go AWOL or do their own thing. We work together so no one gets hurt. You almost didn't suppress that blast. Do you really think we didn't notice your struggle?" Tony's voice dipped low, waiting for a response, any response from the stoic Demon Lord. Sesshomaru remained unresponsive, and the only one who could get him to respond was currently having a family reunion in a different dimension.

He was so done. Talking to Sailor Moon was like talking to a brick wall. People called him stubborn! Maybe when Thor came back he could whack some sense into him.

"Or you know what? Fine. Do you! Go get your ass blown to tell and back! I'm sure Rin will understand. You know, how your stupid pride got you killed and left her an orphan again. Jaken will probably off himself, since he has no idea what to do without you! Oh, and Bambi! It's not like he wouldn't blame himself till Ragnorak for your death since, oh I don't know, he brought you into this! And don't forget about the Avengers! Clint won't stop gushing about your stupid death ray, and you're probably the only reason Bruce isn't a complete wreck. Steve, while angry at you too for taking on the Empire and not waiting for back up, still likes you despite everything he has ever known about Demons has been disproven. Trust me, he isn't one to throw previous teachings out the window. And you! You promised me you'd stay, and I really, really have a problem with people leaving." Tony out of breath from his rant finally removed his finger from Sesshomaru's chest.

He looked into Sesshomaru's eyes and saw nothing but an impassive stare.

Fuck it.

"What's more important to you? Your pride or us? We need you. I…" Tony's voice trailed off as he turned. If Sesshomaru didn't care about his wellbeing, then he wouldn't care about his. He started to walk away when he felt a steel hard grip on his wrist.

They had a thing for wrists, didn't they?

He looked back, Sesshomaru hadn't changed his facial features at all, but damned if his posture wasn't completely erect. His ears even looked a bit low.

'His hands are soft, I thought they'd be calloused or something.' Tony thought, then noticed the gnarly burn on the back of his left hand. He must have gotten hit by a Chitauri ray like Clint did. Tony frowned. If a rifle blast burned his skin like this, then if the cannon pierced his youki he wouldn't have stood a chance. Tony also noticed his wrist stripes were red, while the ones on his arms and face were still magenta. He was about to berate the Demon for his recklessness when he opened his mouth.

"...this Sesshomaru is no liability." Sesshomaru's words carried so softly Tony barely heard them.

The words smacked him like Mjolnir to the chest. That was not really the point Tony wanted to get across. Tony didn't understand how someone so intimidating could also sound so soft. Sesshomaru was a walking contradiction that continuously threw him for a loop.

'Doesn't he get that people care about him? Didn't he have any friends besides Loki growing up?' Tony's eyebrows shot up.

'That's it. Loki and Sesshomaru were probably each other's only friends. He must have some serious issues if Loki was his only childhood friend. Explains a metric shit ton.' A light bulb the size of the sun went off in Tony's head.

'I knew I should have eavesdropped in on Bambi's and Sailor Moon's heart to heart Christmas special the other night, but even I know some things should be private...at least Jarvis recorded it just in case.' Tony sighed deeply at Sesshomaru's unreadable expression.

"Look. Just…make sure that you heal your hand before Pepper gets here or she will make Bruce play nurse, and I know how much you'd like that." Tony wasn't sure how to follow up on the realizations he thought of. He also didn't know how his anger shriveled up so quickly. He wanted it back again but couldn't seem to harness it.

The Tony Stark rant train had grinded to an unexpected halt.

Sesshomaru's eyes flickered down to his hand and back up to Tony's. Then Tony remembered what he really wanted to talk about in the first place.

"You know, I can put two and two together and sum up that those space hicks were trying to capture you. I don't think the others have made the connection, but I did." Tony twisted, but the grip Sesshomaru had on his wrist made it a bit awkward to face him head on. Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed.

"They aimed to capture either me or Loki. I do not know for what reason. Their babblings were not anything I concerned myself with…They will not be successful." Sesshomaru stated evenly, though Tony caught a hesitant edge to his voice that he didn't like.

"You were successful only because I had to use my laser to cut their voodoo leash, Lassie." Tony attempted flat humor, and Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles on his other hand. Tony grinned in victory.

He was not about to let some henchmen take what was rightfully his. He put up with Sailor Moon's strangulation urges, scrys, identity crises, and runnings away from home. Yes 'runnings'. Multiple. He dealt with his angsty teenager behavior, not anyone else.

"This Sesshomaru is not so easily subdued." Sesshomaru seethed and Tony could have sworn he looked hot and bothered. Was that a challenge? He wanted to ask him about the space dragon, he itched to ask him what in the hell he was doing around Soho all day yesterday. Yet instead, Tony had a head rush of an urge to do something else.

He wanted to grip his chin like one would a weapon. His eyes travelled up to his mouth, small and still, so unlike his own. Yeah, he knew he was a loudmouth, so what people should listen to him.

Everything about the Demon was almost human. It was if someone had tried to make a human, but sanded and whetted every possible feature, angle and attribute to a lethal, polished edge.

Where Tony was rough and rugged around the edges, everything about Sesshomaru was incessantly refined to a needle-sharp precision, well except for two things.

Tony Stark was notorious for many things: impulsiveness, bad decisions, binge drinking, being a coffee snob, and going after what he wanted relentlessly while ignoring any possible negative consequences were some.

So, when Tony closed the distance between them like a collision on the freeway, grabbing Sesshomaru by his jaw lifting himself up, planting his lips on his, he didn't really think.

He just went for it.

He could endorse Nike.

No. Nike should endorse him.

He relaxed his jaw and worked his own needy lips against Sesshomaru's testing, gathering data, examining. This is what he was waiting for. His head spun with the revelation that he wanted to know every millimeter of the Demon Lord. He wanted to know him so well he could map him into a hologram. Tony had to know if Sesshomaru's lips were as sharp as the rest of him, or if they were an anomaly: yielding and pliant.

They were an anomaly and Christ did Tony love those.

Tony's pulse raced, his lips tasted fuller than he expected. The danger of kissing the Demon Lord pumped adrenaline through his veins. He did the only logical decision and deepened the kiss, because Tony never did anything half way or half-assed. He didn't think Sesshomaru did either.

The smooth, steel tight grip on his wrist loosened.

He flicked his tongue between his lips; he tasted like a nine-volt battery. Damn. He moved his hand to the back of his head and his hair felt smoother than fiber optics cables. He had to have more; he found the anomaly to beat all anomalies.

He raked his teeth on his bottom lip and sucked it hard, he wanted it to swell, he wanted evidence he did this to him. He wanted to claim him.

Tony fought a smile when the stone-rigid Sesshomaru slacked almost imperceptibly. Tony saw his opening and attacked. So far, so good.

He snaked his now free arm around Sesshomaru's back and brought their bodies flush together with a harsh tug, arc reactor thumping against the serpent on his white t-shirt. The arc reactor resonated warmly.

He didn't need Sesshomaru to reciprocate; he didn't need him to do anything at all except accept it. He chanced a real bite on his lower lip this time. A tingle of energy surged through him and coiled in his chest. The energy unique to Sesshomaru only, his youki vibrating under his skin caused a shiver down Tony's spine and the back of his triceps.

Something that Tony could only consider a small gasp escaped Sesshomaru's lips. Tony knew it. He would bring this Demon Lord down to earth.

Tony went in for the kill and shoved his tongue in. He wanted him to take it, but to rise to his challenge at the same time. He accidentally ran his tongue down and around his pointed fangs, he'd have to get used to those. Sesshomaru's lips then kneaded his own back with fervor.The response shocked him with its intensity, his own desire. Victory. Not easily subdued huh?

His pointed jaw relaxed and Tony scratched the back of Sesshomaru's head, curling his fingers through his long hair. It wasn't an action he intended, he never meant to caress him like that but he went with it. Sesshomaru hummed just the slightest bit, but Tony caught it.

'Oh yeah, Tony you still got it.' Tony smirked a bit that time. The warmth and mild sweetness that bombarded him made him want to give it to him right back. He curled his tongue and relished another anomaly.

'Christ is his mouth is tingly.' Tony fought Sesshomaru's tongue with his own, a heated, humid battle for dominance. Tony nearly moaned when claws grazed down the side of his neck and then down his back, teetering on that edge of lethal and…and…. loving?

His skin prickled in desire and the hair stood on the back of his neck and his groin tightened. An instinctual reaction that just with a little bit more pressure those talons would leave marks, could cut him, could kill him.

It put Tony into orbit, flirting (well now way past flirting), with the edge of a danger that he could curb. A danger he could bend his way, maybe even later into a ninety-degree angle.

His arc reactor whirred, powering up and his ankles warmed. Tony wondered if Sesshomaru had unleashed youki on the floor beneath them. He wasn't about to look. It would break everything.

Tony began to win their fight of dominance and that made him harden, going from half-mast to full on hard below deck. Sesshomaru picked up on it. Tony inhaled sharply, not a gasp he told himself, as the gorgeous Demon in front of him slipped his other hand down around his side to his groin, cupping and caressing his erection through his jeans.

'This was not Sailor Moon's first rodeo, he has some ski-' Tony's thoughts snowed out as he unzipped the fly on his jeans. '-lls. Yeah, but I am not one to be outdone.'

Tony finally moaned this time and Sesshomaru throated a growl in response, his lips vibrating on his like a sex toy he knew he had around somewhere.

That growling wasn't fair.

In response, Tony tangled himself into him, hand through his hair, tongue in his mouth, hand cupping the curved, toned ass that always hid behind his hair. Sesshomaru continued his massage and Tony could feel the Demon Lord's own arousal jutting into his hip. Damn, how big was he? The same claws swept up his neck to come to rest as a full hand on his neck, thumb resting on the side of his jaw.

The action ran contrary to what Tony had expected. He envisioned the Demon Lord would have thrown him against something or tore him open by now. He thought this kiss would be a lot more macho, and a lot less intimate.

'Damn he is affectionate. Didn't see that one coming.' Tony pulled away to catch his breath and saw Sesshomaru's usually slit pupils, were blown out in lust. His lips glistened, swollen and pink, and Tony knew he looked probably just as undone.

'This is new. This is incredible. His lips, his skin, everything about him strums with energy. He is the most alive person I've ever seen.' Tony's body was still flush up against his, eyes locked on his gold ones like a missile targeting system. Tony relaxed into the Demon Lord's slender, lanky frame, just a bit. Tony could allow himself a little bit of weakness here, sometimes it did feel good for someone else to hold himself up for a change.

Tony read the raw emotion Sesshomaru stared him down with like lines of code.

It frightened and flattered him at the same time, because he wasn't sure if he was picking up only lust from him. A rare wave of self-consciousness swept across Tony, he wasn't used to looking in someone's eyes like this after playing a round of tonsil hockey. Usually he was too focused on taking his clothes off, or too drunk to care.

Sesshomaru's claws had glided their way down to Tony's shoulders. Before he knew it, he was pushed back against the front landing strut of the Quinjet. The action almost knocked the air out of him. Tony wanted to throw the 'subdued' thing back at Sesshomaru, but it would ruin the current mood and he could always do it later.

"I bet that Jason Sissy-pants didn't kiss you like that." Tony panted, then he wondered exactly how good his breath smelled, he did drink a lot of coffee. Eh, Fuck it, deed done.

Sesshomaru didn't respond with words. He opted instead to counter attack, fangs raking across Tony's lips, tongue lashing out into his mouth quick and precise like his whip. Sesshomaru teased his hard on with a couple quick strokes. Tony didn't have a chance to respond from the sudden attack before Sesshomaru pulled back, lips parted and bangs askew. Tony wanted to provoke that out of the Demon Lord again, not just because it felt so good to be so close, but also because in that moment he wasn't perfectly guarded. 

"You would bet against this Sesshomaru again?" Sesshomaru smirked, a barely there lift of his lips and glint in his eye. Tony wanted to scowl, it wasn't the exact answer he wanted but he would run with it. Did that wanna-be kiss him or not?

"I'll wear that ridiculous outfit again if he did." Tony pushed off with his back from the landing gear and took Sesshomaru again, only this time with the expressed intention to see those abs again. He wanted that stupid Nirvana shirt off, like yesterday.

Off went Nirvana. 'Come as you are' played in his head.

He hadn't seen him shirtless since that shower which felt like eons ago. He wanted to trace the stripes that streaked up his sides and arced over his hips with his fingers or his tongue. He was just too pale, too smooth, and that silvery happy trail that fuzzed down from his navel...sexy was an understatement.

Tony couldn't help it; he went to his tiptoes. Which was really awkward because he didn't usually kiss anyone taller than he was, but he went straight for the left ear anyway. He sucked the lobe and ignored a growl. He then retaliated by shoving his hand roughly down the front of Sesshomaru's jeans, hand gliding across his pubic hair. So, the Demon went commando, good to know.

Tony found exactly what he was looking for, his fingers teased the base of Sesshomaru's cock as he sucked his earlobe harder. This time the growl turned into a gravelly, low bark. Tony needed his own shirt off now. Sorry, not sorry, Black Sabbath.

'OK, he isn't slicing me into coleslaw so this seems promising...' Tony's mind landed on the Quinjet, 'Oh yeah that could work...' Tony's mind stuck on his growing need, now damp with pre cum in his pants. Tony's body fired on all cylinders; he had to finish taking the Demon Lord apart. They had time. He removed his hand from Sesshomaru's jeans and traced his stripes up his body till he reached his shoulders.

"You. Me. Quinjet. Now." Tony murmured in his pointed ear. His lats really were as strong as wires on a suspension bridge, just covered in satiny ivory skin. Tony didn't care if they didn't have lube, they would make something work. Tony was anything but resourceful. That one time in Iceland when he didn't have a condom he….

Sesshomaru reared back and in an instant his Nirvana shirt was back on, back to him. A stinging pang of rejection shot Tony through. What? What did he say?

"Hey guys! You guys might want to come down here, we have, um, sort of a situation." Steve popped up from the roof access and Tony never wished for a rogue lightning strike more in his life. Tony zipped up his fly, hiding his own 'situation' before Steve caught him.

'Steve, I'm gonna get you back for this. I swear you are the biggest cock block of all time.' Tony turned around to an oblivious Steve now peeking out from behind the door. Sesshomaru must have heard him, or smelled him, or something. So, he didn't strike out.

Tony Stark, you're still at bat.

"What now stars-and-stripes?!" Tony didn't even have anything witty to say as he urged his hard-on to make a hasty retreat.

'Think Fury kissing Agent…ugh what a waste of good wood. This better be good, like Clint decided to cross dress, no better, like… ' Tony's mind failed to think of any good reason with an opening like that to interrupt his romp in the Quinjet.

"You gotta just come down and see the TV." Steve almost pleaded. So now Cap wants to join 21st century. Tony sighed heavy. He turned back to Sesshomaru, who while composed, had his ears up in alert.

Tony wondered if another body part of his was still up too.

"I swear Cap if you just now found 'Touched by an Angel' reruns or Clint roped you into one of his pranks I'm getting Little Miss Sunshine to paint flowers on your shield." Tony, reluctantly, started to follow Steve down the stairs, mood ruined.

He heard the TV before he saw it. Tony should have seen this coming. He really should have. Tony ran a hand down his face and crossed his arms. On the TV was channel 8 news, showing shaky clips of Sesshomaru twirling his whip, slicing the Chitauri up like blender, their blood spraying across the pavilion. Family friendly fun for prime-time TV.

Another video clip of Sesshomaru bringing the Rage Machine back to reality, snapping him out of his uncontrollable rage in the nick of time to save Toady and some little girl.

Different angle, another camera phone of Sesshomaru jumping into the air and powering up, then hesitating, then pointing the beam a bit off course and unleashing it. Tony paused at that one, Sesshomaru didn't seem like the type to hesitate, why would he change his trajectory of his shot…then Tony remembered.

He was at that those coordinates. He changed his attack to miss him. Oh, he would use this sentiment against the Demon Lord later.

A shakier clip then played of the Hulk decimating some of the Chitauri, while Sesshomaru made dog food out of the others. Which officially made Sailor Moon and Rage Machine a terrifying team.

Reminder: never challenge those two to a demolition derby.

Tony's jaw dropped when another clip, this one in better focus, caught Sesshomaru decapitating a Chitauri and then throwing the severed head at another Chitauri, only to seconds later eviscerate him. Clint chuckled as it showed Sesshomaru flick the blood onto the sidewalk like he just washed his hands.

And this was the guy he just mauled his roof. Tony forced himself to be grossed out at that he felt oddly turned on. This was unknown territory; he shouldn't like someone who did this.

"What Fancy Pants, no touchdown celebration? Not even a spike?" Clint's eyes flashed tauntingly at the Demon Lord who simply looked his way. Clint rolled a bandaged shoulder, He had gotten winged by a Chitauri ray blast after Sesshomaru left Central Park.

"No one can call you inefficient, but was that really necessary?" Steve sighed, hand over his mouth.

"They disrespected me. That lowly trash did not deserve to have their bodies in tact." Sesshomaru placidly replied. Steve facepalmed.

The last clip was of Sesshomaru standing on the tip of the fountain with one foot and firing again upon the chariots with a shock of green energy. The scene then cut to another shaky video of Sesshomaru talking to Clint, Steve and Tony.

"Oh hey, they got my good side." Tony smirked.

"Just who is Mr. Nirvana?! Is he the newest Avenger?! That's the question on everyone's lips! Let's go to the streets!" The image shifted to an attractive reporter at Central Park, with people clustered all around her, seeking their fifteen seconds of fame.

Oh, this is going to make Fury all warm and fuzzy inside.

"I don't care who he is, I'm just glad he is kicking alien ass and rocks Nirvana! Wooo Nirvana!"

"He is so cool! Is he single? I love his hair and his tattoos! They are so epic! Tribal is back!"

"I was in the park when he was there! The bro totalled those aliens like they were made of rolling paper. He cut one of their heads off his own hands and threw it another one. Savage!"

"I'm glad he is on our side, even if he isn't human. This city needs all the help it can get, even from good aliens!"

"He's so flashy! Mr. Nirvana sign my tits!"

"Oh, sorry viewers for the explicit language, as we warned earlier this material may not be suitable for all viewers. Up next: we also have word that our very own traffic copter: Chopper Dave got a shot of this mysterious new Avenger, Mr. Nirvana, taking out the alien spaceship from the Statue of Liberty. Stay tuned to channel 8!" Steve groaned and Clint shook his head as the scene cut to the ship's doors opening to reveal the dragon coiling out. Then the eventual shot that would disable then the imploded cannon blast.

Chopper Dave should get a raise.

"Lord Sesshomaru! These humans praise you for your strength, however they are most untoward!" Jaken ran up to him, pointing to the TV.

"I am aware." Sesshomaru cut a glance to Tony and he would have blushed if he were a lesser man.

'Oh, like you didn't enjoy it.' Tony set his jaw, but didn't feel any real anger.

"Who is this new hero? Where did he come from? Is Loki back? All we know is that the Chitauri are back an—" Steve muted the TV. Tony didn't know what had Steve's stars and stripes all in a knot. All of this was going to have to happen eventually. Let Fury have his tantrum.

"What do we do? I mean, they're going to put two and two together that uh.. 'Mr. Nirvana' is here." Steve crossed his arms, gesturing to tower.

"We won't do anything till Pepper gets here, she is flying in from LA. She will know what to do. Till then, take a siesta! Jarvis full privacy on the tower." Tony ordered and the glass on the tower fluctuated and turned tinted.

"Done sir." Jarvis reported. Tony looked around, noticing that Bruce had just came up the stairs.

"Hey, did I miss your photo shoot?" Bruce joked, but he still looked shaken and wan.

"Tony says they got his good side, but I don't think such a side exists." Clint ribbed trying to lighten Bruce's mood.

"Um, who in this room is the only one in world's top five most eligible bachelors?" Tony retorted flawlessly.

"Well, after this photo shoot, there might be two." Bruce chimed in, pointing to the muted TV at the female and male admirers flocking central park with photos, some with surprising high resolution.

Sesshomaru cracked his knuckles and Clint just laughed again. Tony swore if he saw that wanna-be Jason Sisson got on TV he'd hack the network. But there was one thing that still didn't make any sense to the inventor. The close captions had talked about the death ray, the star destroyer, the storm troopers, everything except…

"So, why is no one else talking about fantasia coming out of the mothership and talking to everyone in their minds?" Everyone turned to Tony like he had said that he would quit being Iron Man.

Pause.

"What in the hell? Did you hit your head?" Clint asked, rolling his non-injured shoulder.

"Not today. Didn't anyone else see it? The giant space dragon. You know, the one who came out like a jack-in-the-box out of the space ship. He was talking to Sailor Moon, mentioned something about a bastard and orders to capture him. He called him an Eternal, and talked about Loki." Tony explained and the room fell silent.

"Loki?" Clint's expression turned less skeptical and more curious.

"I know I'm hard to take your eyes off of… But really no one saw it?" Tony recovered with a joke, was he really going crazy?

"Tony…I can tell you're not drunk, but when was the last time you slept?" Bruce ventured. Damnit Bruce mind your own circadian rhythm.

"Um, maybe fifty hours. That's not the point. I know what I saw, Jarvis scanned it. It said it had orders to capture either Bambi or Moonie over here." Tony shot back, blood getting hot. Why did no one else see it? It was recorded, they just saw it on the news courtesy of Chopper Dave. Why SHIELD didn't immediately subpoena the traffic helo footage was beyond Tony, but it amused him more than anything.

"So, you not only saw, but heard him. Ryukotsusei." Sesshomaru finally stated and Tony turned to him, exasperated. Now he says something. And Ryukitty? Why did that sound familiar?

"Wait. So, there actually was a space dragon and Tony isn't hallucinating? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?" Clint said smirking, but hardly meaning it. Tony narrowed his eyes at him. Maybe he should make Clint wait on the toxins he perfected.

"That insolent human must have been able to understand and see Ryukotsusei with your youki in his suit Lord Sesshomaru!" Toady piped up. Where did he come from? No one better tell Pepper about the youki juice in his suit. She definitely couldn't sell that to Stark Enterprises as a part of his new clean energy proj…oh no. He had to check the Tower's arc reactor.

Why did this have to happen to him?

"His youki is in your suit? Tony that sounds beyond reckless." Steve complained, and Tony rolled his eyes. 'Don't give me the 'calculated risks' thing Steve, I already gave that speech today, I get a 'get-out-of-Capsicles'-look-before-you-leap-seminar-free' pass.' Tony sighed.

"Not intentional. Sort of. Long story. Getting off topic. What's up with puff the magic dragon?" Tony steered the topic back on track. He was not going to let this go.

"Ryukotsusei was a Dragon Demon from my time, he perished long before I arrived here. I had never encountered him personally, but…members of my family had. What you saw, Stark, was his spirit from the underworld." Sesshomaru carefully explained. Oh. Hot. Shwarma. That was the dragon who killed his dad, and subsequently ruined his life.

'He handled that a lot better than I would have. I would have absolutely lost my shit if I found out that someone killed my old man and he came back to order me around. Well, maybe not. Mostly my mom….Wait. Underworld? Am I in the Sixth Sense? Can I see dead people now?' Tony whipped around.

"Let me get this straight, the dragon who killed your father, came out of a Chitauri space ship and wanted to…capture you or Loki?" Bruce chuckled, as if the question itself made absolutely no sense, and it didn't.

"Dragon spirit. He came from the Demon underworld. Never thought I'd say it, but good thing Loki is in Asgard, he would have flipped out." Clint corrected, ever quick on the uptake.

"So, are we now saying that there is an underworld and that Demons can literally come out of it?" Steve looked pale, like he was about to throw up into the nearest receptacle. He hoped it would be Clint's quiver.

"You blubbering humans! Of course there is a Demon Underworld! Lord Sesshomaru, do we have to explain everything to them?!" Jaken blurted out and Sesshomaru brought down his fist to knock him unconscious.

The room silently thanked him.

"Um can we talk about how I can apparently see dead people now?" Tony collected his thoughts, and no one apparently listened to him.

"It can be about you some other time Tony. Sesshomaru, where did the dragon go? Is it a threat?" Steve's voice became serious; he was in impending invasion mode.

"He was never any threat to this Sesshomaru. I utilized Tenseiga to return his soul to the Demonic Underworld where it belonged." Sesshomaru explained and sighed through his nose. Tony could tell he didn't like this line of questioning.

"Demons exorcising other Demon ghosts, are we the ghostbusters now too?" Tony still couldn't get past that not only did he see the Demon ghost, he heard it speak to him!

"Well, if it is something strange, and it 'don't' look good….they do usually call us." Clint pointed out next to him smiling next and this time Bruce manage to smirk. Steve and Sesshomaru, per usual, stood completely confused.

"Stark." Tony automatically turned to Sesshomaru. It wasn't often he said his name with such seriousness. "I did not purify Ryukotsusei. Tenseiga cannot purify souls outside of the underworld. He has the ability to cut beings not of this world only, including the dead, and the undead." Sesshomaru pressed and Tony's mind whirred to read in between the lines of what he was trying to say.

"Dibs on him for the zombie apocalypse." Clint raised his hand and Jaken just then began to rise up along with Tony's blood pressure. Clint calling dibs? Um, no he staked that claim first. Wait, Tony got it.

"You have a sword, that can't cut organic, but can cut inorganic matter? Oh, prove it. So, prove it. Cut me." Tony's eyes lit up. He had to see how this was supposed to work. Was it chaos theory? Did the blade simply just go through him? Did it stop? Did the Jedi force keep it from touching him?

"Tony. Take this seriously." Steve warned, he was obviously not seeing how potentially cool this could be.

"Oh this I gotta see." Clint leaned back as if he was about to watch a fight in a hockey game.

"Tony, I told Pepper tha—" Bruce was cut off by Sesshomaru unsheathing N*sync with his left hand. Tony immediately noticed the burn on his hand healed, interesting. N*sync, compared to its destructive sister, Backstreet boy, appeared completely normal. The only thing was that the steel glinted a bit blue.

Sesshomaru, with an aristocratic flourish, butterflied the blade around and slashed through the air. Tony stood defiant, locking eyes with the regal demon across the room. He wasn't going to flinch, there was no room to back out now.

Sesshomaru brought Tenseiga down right at the juncture where his neck met his shoulders with a blow that Tony had seen cleave a Chitauri neatly in two, possibly a Volvo.

Everyone in the room jumped except for Clint who grabbed his bow. Tony made a note to thank him for that instant reaction, it was a better one than what Point Break did in the Quinjet when he got strangled.

But, not only did the force of the blow not hurt, it felt more like a blade of grass on his shoulder, than a blade of steel. It looked sharp, but it was actually dull. Tony had to study it. Sesshomaru then flipped the blade and cut through a side table with a fraction of the force. He didn't like that table anyway.

"Damn, I was so gunning for chaos theory." Tony twisted his lips together and Bruce took off his glasses, knowing full well what Chaos Theory was. Tony swore he saw amusement dancing in Sesshomaru's gold eyes. He wanted to see those pupils blown out again.

"I was going to say 'me next' but I think I'm good." Clint yielded, putting down his bow.

"But, what you're implying is that if we run into one of those spirits again, you're the only one who can…get rid of it?" Steve ventured a guess and Sesshomaru turned to him, sheathing the real mystery sword.

"Tenseiga removes such obstacles, not I." Tony couldn't tell if Sesshomaru was being purposely cryptic to completely grate on Steve's nerves or not but it jazzed him. Sesshomaru wasn't going anywhere, Tony would make sure of it.

"But…how did Dragonforce get on the Chitauri ship in the first place?" Tony pressed, he didn't know what made Sailor Moon's weird Demon world so intriguing, but it just was.

"This Sesshomaru is not certain. However, it is doubtful that he did so on his own accord. Ryukotsusei was many things, subservient was not one of them. He begged for his end." Sesshomaru explained, curling a finger to his lips in thought.

Lips Tony wanted to attack again.

"Well, if Thanos can make a God of Mischief do his dirty work, it's possible the same could be said for a dragon… I can't believe I just said that. Dragons, Gods, Demons? I really should have stayed away from all of this. I almost decimated Central Park! Killed a little girl, again." Bruce looked a little green and a hell of a lot more tired.

If Bruce kept up with him in the lab he hadn't slept much either, one reason for the hulk-out.

Surprisingly, Sesshomaru walked right up to Bruce and stood next to him.

"This Sesshomaru is in your debt. You protected my retainer, Jaken, when I miscalculated. You may request something of this Sesshomaru of equivalent worth." Sesshomaru's voice sounded crisp and even.

"Oh my Lord! I knew you cared about me!" Jaken began to literally cry in happiness. Suck up. Bruce shot Tony a mischievous look. Tony raised his eyebrows.

'Oh man, he better not try anything funny. He better not request anything lewd. Bruce has to respect the bro code.' Tony's jaw dropped when he realized what he had just thought in terms of that Jason guy, Clint, and now Bruce.

Since when did his craving to jump Sesshomaru's bones turn into a weird possessiveness?

'I have get this out of my system. I can't be getting territorial over a prissy Demon Lord I just met. Tony Stark doesn't do territorial or possessive. Tony Stark does easy sex, 'hit it and quit its'. What do the teens call it these days? Netflix and chill? I just do flings, the more the better. I'm just… simply curious. I can keep my cool, figure out what he's all about, and then drop him like a bad habit. It will be easy, just like all the rest, except Pepper of course.' Tony reassured himself and took a deep breath, tapping his arc reactor out of habit.

"Well, I'd really like you to help me with..." Bruce paused and Tony knew it was on purpose because he smirked his way. Bastard. "the other guy. You are pretty much the only person, err, Demon? That I've met that the green guy listens to." Bruce sheepishly requested and Sesshomaru appeared to have seen it coming.

"This Sesshomaru accepts. We shall begin now. Come... Banner." Sesshomaru motioned him to follow, saying his name for the first time that Tony could tell.

Huh, he was the last one to be called by his name.

"Um, uh, ok, where we going?" Bruce, caught off guard, but bright with hope let loose a breath and began to follow. Another cock block. I'm blue balling it over here while Bruce green guys it with him.

'I want everything about Sesshomaru out of my system, now.' Tony's pulse picked up in anxiety.

"...to my old quarters." Sesshomaru spared a quick, and since Tony was a betting man, he guessed a teasing glance, back at him. Tony knew should have filled substorage room 3b with crates. He would tomorrow, or maybe he would get frisky later with the Demon Lord in it. Having him sit, or bent over one of those crates, with his stupid long silver hair and his abs he wanted to run his tongue over.

'Oh, he wants to play games? You chose the wrong player. I am so in. Operation: Hit It and 'Sho'get It, is on.' Stark crossed his arms over his chest, ready for a completely different type of battle.

At least that's what he told himself.

Chapter Text

Loki and the Frigid Throne

*(*

Loki, upon returning to his old chambers, felt little for conversation. His fingers twitched by his sides and his back muscles gripped his spine like a beast's jaws.

It was precisely as he left it: the curled scrolls on his desk, the dusty spell books on his shelves, the glowing crystals in his displays, the green garments in his closet. They had not even repaired the punctures in the wood of his desk, nor in his wall from the fury of his throwing daggers.

Frigga. Somewhere in the depths of her heart she surely couldn't bear parting with her son that was oh-so long gone.

As much as it would feel nice to be warmed from such sentiment, it was truly beyond him. She preserved his room precisely as it was like a mausoleum. Her son was dead; the monster lived in his stead. It was why she didn't believe him even when he implored her about the impending invasion. Even when his body was too broken to conjure his illusions to appear he was alright.

The empathy was there, yet the trust wasn't. Not that he truly thought she'd give it, but that had never stopped Loki from wanting. It is what he did.

He wanted. he wanted power, wanted to dig his fingers deep into the stringy heart muscles of the Other, wanted to see his friend cleave the head off The Mad Titan's purple shoulders, wanted Clint's hands all over him.

Clint running flat of his tongue over his hand, sticky from the ice cream, stroking the sweetness from it. He had to grab his hand. It wanted it to be his…Loki. Focus.

Everything. Everything hinged on the outcome of his mission and he had to concentrate and hone his wits and magic to pull it off just so. Loki usually never had trouble focusing, so it irked him to no end that he was so distracted. He bit the inside of his cheek, damn that mortal Clint!

Luckily Romanoff and Rin caught onto his mood and left him be, well at least after Romanoff told him his father was a real piece of work, to which he was greatly inclined to agree.

Rin had asked him why his father didn't like her picture and he told her the truth: that he was a bitter, blinded warlord. He cared not for things he didn't see from what he could not personally gain. If it didn't help him personally, it could easily be swept aside, or stored until needed.

Always. Always he was the thing swept aside, or stored to be Thor's lesser. Being back in his old chambers freshened the old wounds. He never had a chance to be his equal. No matter what he did, or how hard he tried to excel at magic or tactics, Thor was the only champion of Asgard. Before the Bifrost, this greatly bothered him, especially when he much younger.

Loki commonly tagged along with Thor, the Warriors Three and Sif, but he knew deep down that they only humored him because he was Thor's younger brother. When growing up, he had never met anyone who preferred his company over his brother's.

Until Sesshomaru. Loki cared not that in Asgardian years he was perhaps nine years Sesshomaru's senior, Sesshomaru matured quite quickly for his age.

Loki remembered the first time he and Sesshomaru truly bonded.


 

"Hey! Are you the God of Lies?!" A much younger Loki lifted his head to see two Dark Elves, a Fire Giant, and a Panther Demon gathered in front of him. The leader obviously the taller, scrutinizing Dark Elf. Loki inwardly groaned, he just wanted to be left alone to study his runes, he was already late. Loki tapped his foot on the dirt path.

"If I were to deny it, you couldn't believe me could you? And if you didn't think I am and answered yes, would you think it the truth? No, you couldn't. So, don't you think your question was just a tad needless? Not that I would expect any higher thinking coming from you lot." Loki responded wryly. He knew he was outnumbered, but cocked his jaw up strongly anyway, he could take them. It wouldn't be a flawless victory but he had just learned that new spell...

He would even get a few battle scars to show Allfather.

"You going to pick a fight with us little Prince?! We're gonna teach you a lesson! No one disrespects anyone around here!" The Fire Giant bulked out his underdeveloped chest. Loki had studied Fire Giants, this one was clearly an adolescent. He also apparently had an underdeveloped brain.

Loki chuckled. He cared not what harm came to him, and he was not above dirtying his tunic to educate some half-wits on proper form and technique. Magic coiled at his fingertips.

"Respect is earned not given. Remember, because I am not my brother Thor does not mean I cannot fight!" Loki stood, immediately tiring of their moronic exchange. He took a fighting stance and prepared to for a four on one that may not end cleanly, or his way. Loki scrunched his nose that he hadn't quite perfected his duplication spell enough to properly fight all of them and hold his concentration.

The Fire Giant approached him from behind and the Panther Demon converged on him from the left, both of the Dark Elves flanked from the right. Loki spun around. Right then he saw a patch of white behind the Fire Giant and the Panther Demon. Who would be all the way out this far?

Oh. Him.

Loki spotted the young and bored Dog Demon walking down the path their way. Sesshomaru was it? He had met him the other day and was supposed to start studying with him today.

"Move, you are in this Sesshomaru's way." Sesshomaru quipped to the Panther Demon. Loki chuckled, this truly was the same Demon who told off his brother a few days ago. 'He can't be seriously trying to intimidate them. Those two are much larger and stronger than he is. Sure he is fast but speed is not everything.' Loki studied the approaching Demon, sensing no hidden power.

"Who do you think you are pipsqueak?! Did the pretty little princess Dog Demon ge-" In an instant the Panther Demon's throat and upper body were ensnared in a vibrant green whip. With a dancer's grace, Sesshomaru curved his body clockwise and slung the Demon far through the air and into the nearby lake.

Kerplunk!

So, mayhap a bit stronger than Loki originally gave him credit for.

"That's it you're going down!" The Fire Giant launched himself Sesshomaru and he dodged just barely. Fire Giants could be much faster than they looked. Sesshomaru's hands glowed green and he rebounded and gracefully side kicked him down the path.

'Facinating. Maybe this won't be such a bore to be stuck with this Demon after all.' Loki wasted no time in joining the scuffle, he was no damsel needing rescue.

In the end, they managed to toss all of them into the lake. They made a highly effective team for their first time aligning.

As Sesshomaru was healing a mild burn on his arm with his youki Loki approached.

"I, Prince Loki of Asgard, didn't require the assistance you provided. I am an adept fighter and those ruffians were nothing compared to me." Loki bit out. Only Thor had attempted to come to his aid before, he didn't know why this waif of a Demon had decided to do so now. It puzzled him, Loki prided himself on reading people quite well, but he couldn't read this Demon.

He didn't seem like the type to go around saving people, and he didn't seem like he cared for Thor's favor, thus coming to his younger brother's aid to gain acclaim.

"This Sesshomaru did not engage my opponents for your sake. They would not vacate the space I wished to occupy." Sesshomaru's eyes hardened and he looked up at Loki apathetically. Loki could spot a lie, and while he could tell he wasn't lying, it didn't seem like the whole truth.

They both stared at each other for a moment, measuring the other up.

"I have heard of a great cavern over yonder that is rumored to be inhabited by Weasel Demons who guard a stolen crystal, wish to accompany me to explore?" Loki offered with a wicked grin slicing his face. Perhaps this Demon would be somewhat fun, and it wasn't like they were about to go to their study session now. He also wanted help acquiring his magic crystals.

"...this Sesshomaru approves." Loki noticed while Sesshomaru's face revealed little of his emotions, his ears lifted.

"Let's be on our way then, before our friends decide to learn to swim." Loki smiled widely and gestured to the path around the lake. Sesshomaru spared a glance to the lake and huffed, following. Side by side they made their way to the cavern, stopping every so often to skip a stone into the same lake they threw their opponents into.

The same lake two days later Sesshomaru would get thrown into by the same tall dark elf and his friends when they ambushed him.

Loki may or may not have magicked a swarm of Asgardian hornets to harass them for days.


 

"Guards leave us, your presence is just as well on the outside of the doors." He snapped out of his memory, hearing his mother, Frigga's voice. He knew she was simply an illusion, that Odin would not want her visiting in person. Loki sat up from his leaned over position on his bed, straightening.

He knew the guards wouldn't try anything to prevent the queen from speaking to him if that is what she so wished. Odin dare not anger her that much.

"Yes mother, you look lovely as always, but you seem strained." Loki chose his words carefully; he couldn't risk sounding too concerned over his mother or she would simply brush it off. In reality, she appeared to have been overusing her magic.

Loki fought a frown itching on his face, his mother could sometimes be too self sacrificing.

"Strained? My dear I have never been more relieved. I have been watching you my son, I had to scry you. On Midgard you were blocked by Heimdall's sight, especially with the weakened Bifrost he could not see you due to some interference. I knew you had to have gone to Midgard after Sesshomaru. You always did look after each other." Frigga confessed, folding her hands, smiling brightly.

Loki's eyes flickered with confusion.

'Heimdall's sight was blocked? No wonder Odin didn't send the Warriors Three and Sif to Midgard to hunt me down, he had no idea where I actually was and until he did, there no use to waste his black magic.' Loki's face twisted, there were hardly any ways left to block Heimdall's sight. He had the magic reserves now to hide from Heimdall if need be, but when he first arrived on Midgard he did not. Blocking his sight took a highly powerful magic barrier or…

Youki interference.

"That would have to be due to Sesshomaru's proximity barrier. It seems to have a multitude of purposes. It alerts him to incoming foes, along with blocking my magic signature and now apparently Heimdall's sight." Loki mused, he wondered if Stark ever got the proximity barrier working on a large enough scale if Heimdall's sight of Midgard would be blocked completely.

Precisely like what happened all those centuries ago to Midgard when the Demons vanished.

"I see, he was protecting you." Frigga put a finger to her lips and Loki had to fight a snort. Sesshomaru most likely conjured the proximity barrier to prevent Odin from interfering with their chat, not to protect him from Odin. "It seems like he has matured muchly. I remember you would smuggle him into Asgard to witness your spells and pranks. You formed quite the brotherly bond with him." Frigga continued and Loki caught the suggestive lilt in her tone of voice.

"Mother, I had Odin summon him to prevent our realms from devastation, not for revelry." Loki didn't necessarily warn, but reinforced. He didn't want his mother thinking him simply nostalgic.

"I know you say that, but you cannot deny you are pleased that you have indeed reconnected." Frigga paused. "You searched for so long on Midgard for any clue as to the disappearance of all the Demons. I remember I could not scry them either." Frigga confessed, which piqued Romanoff's attention. Loki recalled his mother was the only one in Asgard who genuinely felt remorse and not simple mystification for their disappearance.

"So, Pretty Boy's species just up and vanished off Earth?" Romanoff interjected, pausing in her training of her new protégé, Rin.

"I know not of what happened. I was in Alfheim at the time. No one on Asgard knows what happened either, as Heimdall's sight of Midgard was blocked. When Thor and I returned from Alfheim, Midgard not only had no Demons, but any evidence and memories of them were erased. I searched in vain for a century. No one I have met, from any of the Nine Realms or otherwise, has had any information." Loki confessed, Romanoff nodding in understanding.

"Explains a lot." Romanoff shrugged and Loki nodded. Rin simply practiced a simple kata, unperturbed.

"Mother, you must know that Sesshomaru can now scry. He does so dangerously. He goes deep into his scrys as if mindless. He tried to scry another powerful sorcerer and I fear that something malicious happened when he saw Astral Plane. Have you any advice for me in aiding him, as you know my magic has never had an affinity for scrying." Loki twisted his mouth in a frown and Frigga laughed softly.

"Loki, your friend is no mere seer." Frigga suddenly became serious and Loki's jaw dropped in confusion. "I saw him on the Astral Plane." Now that floored Loki, his eyes momentarily bugged out.

"On the…how? No one, not the Kree, the Skrulls, the Vanir, the Aesir, not even the Celestials have been able to access the Astral Plane in millennia! The secret was lost when the last Adept fell. The Celestials even tried those genetic experiments!" Loki sputtered, baffled was an understatement. The Astral Plane wove itself in between and through dimensions, it was as enigmatic and potentially powerful as the Odinforce.

'The Celestials genetically tampered with the Kree, Skrulls, and Midgardian mortals in an attempt to breed beings to access the Astral Plane, but all those experiments failed. The Mad Titan himself is a result of one such genetic experiment.' Loki's thoughts wandered, surely his mother wouldn't be mistaken, but how could it be possible?

Possible without the Tesseract at least. Loki had not tried to go to the Astral Plane with it, but he knew of any of the Infinity Gems, the Tesseract would have that ability.

"I wouldn't say millennia…centuries ago when Midgard was blocked from Heimdall there was someone on the Astral Plane. They were shrouded from me properly seeing them, but they hid something of great power there. Your Demon friend, Sesshomaru, has the ability to go to and harness the Astral Plane. I doubt he knows of what he is doing, he was visible to any sorcerer and could have been subjected to a curse." Frigga's voice turned a bit more serious and Loki's lip twitched up like a nervous tic. A curse?

"My Lord has been cursed?!" Rin piped up. Oh, that would upset her. Loki swiftly turned as Rin approached Frigga, head tilted to the side, lips tightly curved in a frown.

"Worry not little one, your Lord appears to be quite resilient." Frigga smiled warmly then flicked her eyes to Loki. It was a tell of hers, Frigga didn't lie often.

Loki caught Romanoff's watchful eye, and he surmised she suspected the same. She murmured something in Rin's ear Loki didn't catch and took her aside to draw.

"Mother, assuredly you have theories behind all of this." Loki wasted no time. He didn't anticipate the issue of Sesshomaru's new ability to be such a disaster. Potentially, if Sesshomaru could be properly schooled in the Astral Plane he could harness its tremendous energy and defeat the Mad Titan exponentially easier.

Or, it could back fire and not even Loki knew what that could mean.

"You fret so over matters you cannot control, son. I have a feeling what your Demon friend is going through can only be solved by him. You need to focus on yourself, What I just saw in the throne room makes that astoundingly clear. You have grown so much; you are now a truly powerful sorcerer, and even more important, a good man." Frigga informed, and Loki chest hitched and he fought a gasp. She didn't show one of her more knowing tells. She spoke the truth.

'A good man? Not a monster? Wasn't that Thor's speech? What was this?' Loki's eyes flashed wide and a green spark shot from his fingertips.

"Don't look at me so. How could I not think this about you? I saw your display when your friend Sesshomaru gave his explanation of his strategy. I am profoundly sorry my dear Loki. I had no idea that is what happened to you, when you first fell from the Bifrost I was unable to scry you. I should have trusted you, I should have seen past that sorcerer's influence and his awful magic. I just can't apologize to you enough." Frigga's illusion fuzzed out a bit and Loki snapped out of his trance. He hadn't expected this at all, his mouth went dry and he ran a hand through his hair to calm it and himself.

"Mother you need not apologize. As you are aware, I am quite adept at trickery." Loki found a genuine smile form on his face. The crushing, grating weight of his own mother no longer trusting him lifted, he stood straighter than he had in a long time.

"Your trickery may be able to fool me, but not Yggrasil." Frigga's illusion waivered once more. Apparently, the Nines chose today to bombard him with information he neither knew he needed nor wanted.

It didn't help that Loki suspected his mother was being purposely vague and hiding some things from him. It was so like her. She did it when he was growing up so he could unravel the problem on his own but now was really not the time. Despite how relieved he felt that his mother didn't see him as what he truly was, impatience broiled in him once more.

Loki, paced, turned on his heel, and his magic coiled in his fingers like ribbons.

"What happened in the throne room shouldn't have happened at all. My magic flows from the Odinforce, it shouldn't have been able to counter Gungnir." Loki really had things to do. He couldn't continue to speak in riddles.

Time flowed slower in Asgard than it did on Midgard and he still had to secure the Tesseract.

"Yggdrasil is sentient, it is not simple magical power source like the Astral Plane." Frigga led and Loki had no choice but to scrunch his nose. Sentient? Loki noticed Rin turn her head over at the conversation.

"You're saying Yggdrasil has its own mind?" Loki stepped back, surveying his mother's illusion.

"This is a topic best broached by Odin, perhaps you should ask him." Frigga's eyes shone like stars and her warm smile lit her face. Oh. Like that would happen. Loki knew what his mother was scheming but that relationship was beyond repair, and Loki preferred it that way.

A latent, dull anger remained in him that still made calves and hamstrings tighten. He held onto the resentment that he was never told he was a Frost Giant, not even by Frigga. He didn't suspect this festering anger would ever truly vanish, but Loki shelfed his anger, for once.

He couldn't abide a man who betrayed him so, who used him so. The Other had at least been upfront with his intentions. Even Odin promised he would be a fairly treated prisoner, which was of course was not the case.

Loki's eyes glazed over in memory. The guards held him down even though they didn't really need to. He had no magic to spare. He had been leeching what little magic wasn't dampened by his cell into his concealed crystals to fuel one a long-range teleportation spell. In other words, he was defenseless.

The Aesir had always been naturally stronger than he, of course now he knew why.

They didn't want him merely beaten, no. They wanted him to submit in various ways, with various acts. Endured he did, and he had thought about hunting the individuals down and slitting their throats but thought against it. Loki relished revenge, but to seek out those deviant sadists would interfere with the greater vengeance against the Other. Plus, if he sought them out to kill them it would give weight to what they did to him, and he didn't want that.

After all, a weapon doesn't feel shame.

"Not to interrupt Queen Frigga, but, do you think that Odin will allow us to see Heimdall? A ruler such as he has to understand the severity of the threat we all face. Thor even advised us that Thanos and the Other are feared even here in Asgard." Romanoff's voice fell soft but heavy. Frigga's illusion turned and regarded her with eyes hopeful.

"Our Allfather is not usually so agitated. Thor and Fandral are reasoning with him now. I have informed him of what I saw on Midgard, I believe he will agree for you all to see Heimdall, but on what terms I am unsure." Frigga admitted, a small smile gracing her elegant features.

Loki balked in surprise at Fandral coming to his assistance, but he was ever the most reasonable one of the four. It would make things easier since no doubt Allfather knew Thor had a soft spot for his adopted younger brother.

"Good, Thor and Fandral together should prove effective. Rin had a definite emotional impact on Odin. He became angry because he genuinely liked her and the thought of her using him provoked an outburst. I am sure Odin will comply and on acceptable terms." Romanoff remained sure and poised. Loki absently wondered what 'acceptable terms' meant to the assassin. Frigga laughed softly, as if understanding a joke he didn't.

'I am not as certain Odin will listen to reason, yet no matter the outcome he should allow Rin and Romanoff to return to Midgard. Romanoff shouldn't worry about 'acceptable terms'. Thor along with Sesshomaru will be enough to thwart the Mad Titan if Odin wants to unleash the full wrath of the Odinforce upon me. Though, I did manage to stop him in the throne room which was somewhat amusing.' Loki scrunched his nose.

"Queen Frigga I drew you while you were talking with Uncle Loki." Rin anounced with glee and Frigga bent down a bit. Rin ran up to present her the picture. She also drew Romanoff kicking Volstagg, Hogun and Sif, but both Frigga and Loki advised her to hide those.

It was time.

"Mother, where is the Tesseract?" Loki's voice sounded hard as granite. Frigga pursed her lips and Rin whipped her pony-tailed head around, attention piqued. Romanoff also turned to him, but to her credit she had a practiced disinterested look printed on her facial features.

"Loki." Frigga stated simply, he knew what she feared. She just now had reconstructed the fractured trust they had between them. While it was unfair to test it so soon, but it had to be done. The Tesseract was his possession. He collected it and he was the only person he trusted with it. He certainly didn't trust Odin with one of the Infinity Gems, especially one that could potentially create a gateway to the Astral Plane.

Asgard with the power of the Astral Plane and the Odinforce? Not while he stood.

"Mother. It is mine." Loki insisted. She had to understand that it was his responsibility and while he allowed Odin to borrow it; it was time he reclaimed it. Asgard had become indolent in its security of its prized items. Loki would know, he did have in his possession a certain Casket of Ancient Winters. He kept it because while he had no love lost for Laufey, the Frost Giants had indeed been subdued and conquered by Odin. Loki knew how it felt to be humiliated, stripped down and forced to kneel, mouth open to the dominion of Asgard's finest.

It also represented a suitable bargaining chip for his life if he was turned over to Jotunheim in the next hour.

"It's in the vault, where the Casket of Ancient Winters used to be." Frigga relented, her arched eyebrows slanted across her regal face. An intentional barb, of course Frigga would know he most likely retained the Jotunheim relic. Loki recognized passive aggression, he operated with it commonly. All the sudden a white hot wave of possessiveness roiled within him and his eyes darkened.

"The Casket had no right to be within the halls of Asgard! It is mine by divine right! It belongs with the Frost Giants, not with Odin who dominated them so. Now that Laufey has fallen, as his son, his only heir, the King of Monsters, it is my responsibility to…" Loki trailed off, his normally quicksilver tongue had gotten ahead of him. He had momentarily forgotten that he was not alone in the room with only his mother's illusion. Loki's eyes locked onto Romanoff's narrowed blue ones.

"Oh, don't mind us lowly mortals, your highness." Romanoff's full lips quirked up into a mocking smirk. Of course, mortals didn't know of the reputation of the Frost Giants.

"Why didn't you tell us you were a king, Uncle Loki? Do you not like being king? Sometimes I think Lord Sesshomaru doesn't like being a lord, he is hardly ever at his castle." Rin skipped up to Loki, grabbing the tail of his robe scrutinizing him as if seeing him in a new light.

"It definitely seems like something you'd flaunt, we've seen you on one of your power trips. Does Thor know?" Romanoff continued and Loki rubbed his temple, rolling his eyes.

"I do not want that frigid throne." Loki snorted. "I do not believe Thor had ever thought my lineage in such a way. The Aesir would not approve if I took such a throne even if it was welcomed by Jotunheim." Loki's green eyes sparkled in sudden devilry. They had heard this much, may as well continue. Rin and Romanoff held their ground as Loki's magic spiked out from his hands.

"I am Jotun. A Frost Giant. Frost Giants are the monsters of Asgard. They exist as evils in their fairy tales, the savages in their war stories, and the most sincere horror in the Nine Realms. I am heir to their throne." Loki grinned wickedly. Oh, wouldn't that just be the fly in Odin's ointment if circumstances were different and he was still truly Loki and not the Broken Blade the Other forged. Loki indulged himself in a half-imagined day dream of seeing Odin's head spin as he crossed his blue skinned legs on the icy throne of Jotunheim. He'd keep the horned helm and his preferred shade of viridian green.

Alas, such a dream would certainly not come to pass, even if he didn't that particular throne, the thirst of power be on equal footing with Odin made Loki's mouth water.

"Loki, do not speak such of yourself. I trust the Allfather's judgment in keeping that relic. It prevents full scale war, I will not have you question such measures. It would be good to have it returned." Frigga's voice flatlined in a stern tone and Loki sighed. Strategically, it was a good maneuver. Loki calmed his magic and refocused.

"Mother, I going to see to the Tesseract. If Asgard could so easily misplace the Casket of Ancient Winters, it most assuredly could lose the more powerful Tesseract to the Mad Titan. It is my responsibility that I left in Asgard's inept hands." Loki replied to his mother, explaining his actions as he coiled the green magic around him to teleport to the vault before anyone could stop him. He was sure to leave an indiscernible illusion of himself in his quarters.

Loki found himself cloaked in silence and the cerulean blue light of the Tesseract. The darkened vault remained cold even without the Casket within it, almost as if it remembered what it was like to have it. Loki slowly approached the finest gem he had ever come to possess. It was now or never, this was his only window of time with Odin distracted enough to not feel his residual magic in the frigid vault.

Not that he truly felt the cold.

"Uncle Loki, are you going to take back your Tesseract?" Rin's innocent question caused Loki jump out of his skin. She had the tails of his black and green robe in her hands.

She…she stowed away in his teleportation spell!

"Rin! You! Shhhh!" He silenced Rin with a hand over her mouth. Her lips already cool beneath his touch It'd be too risky to send her back now. "You should not have done such a thing. Magic is dangerous." Loki lowly warned, if only half of her were teleported…well, Odin would be eating his organs.

"You shouldn't be alone Uncle Loki. And Rin wanted to see the Tesseract!" Rin whispered, smiling brightly. Loki blinked. Why would she care over such a thing?

"So, are you going to take your Tesseract back? It's important to you right Uncle Loki?" Rin pushed and Loki furrowed his brow. It was important to him. He had spent a good portion of his life finding where some of the Infinity Gems were located. The mortals had rediscovered the Tesseract, and he allowed him to play with it for a while. He had located the Ether, but that was far too perilous to collect. The Soul Gem alluded him, though Loki was sure it was still tucked away on Midgard somewhere, another reason the Mad Titan could not be allowed to conquer the planet.

"It is important, but if I simply removed it, Odin would know." Loki pursed his lips, Odin had added better spells in the past few years. The substantial power going missing from the vault would alert Odin. The spelled vaults would know if all of the sudden there was such a vast disparity in energy.

Unless it was replaced with something of near equivalent power.

Loki's thoughts spun to the Casket of Ancient Winters, he could cast an illusion spell and it could easily be disguised as the Tesseract until someone were to try to touch it. They even looked similar.

Would he really give such a significant relic back to Odin? The Casket was so entrenched in everything that he used to be. It represented everything that caused his fall, his imprisonment, the failed invasion, Asgard's cell, Thor's rejection, Frigga's tears, Odin's sentence, Sesshomaru's return.

"And Odin would hurt you again if he found out you took it?" Rin asked softly, biting her lip. The girl could be too perceptive, Romanoff's protégé was a good role for her.

"I don't allow anyone to hurt me Rin." Loki whispered back, deep in thought. His blood surged through his veins at the thought of Odin having the Casket returned to him. But, Loki surmised only he himself could keep the Tesseract absolutely safe. His thoughts flashed to Clint when he stood over him in the sparring room, that artist Kanye West's music blaring words he could never say.

'I aint loving you the way I wanted to. What I had to do, had to run from you.'

Loki could eat Clint with a spoon with such passionate relish. The Nines, he'd go to war with just a spoon for that archer.

And yet here he was debating if swapping his Infinity Gem that could doom their realms for a relic from his past was the correct choice. He wasn't right in the head. He knew that. He did. There was little good in him, it was why he was debating it in the first place: the safety of the few he cared for or a hardened notion of spite and a race that wanted his head on a spike.

Well, not that many Midgardian mortals didn't wish for the same for Loki. But Loki didn't fight for the squalling masses of mortals. That was Thor's mantle.

"That's not true. Barton hurt you, you let him." Rin wagged a finger and Loki knew she was right. He had forgotten about the arrows but something in Rin's voice suggested that might not be what she was referencing.

"I am not going to argue with a child, not even you dear Rin." Loki forced himself to concentrate, if he recalled correctly the guards would do another sweep in one hundred seconds so he had to act fast. He also knew Odin's attentions could only be distracted by Thor, Fandral, and his mother but for so long.

Tesseract or Casket? Which would he relinquish to Odin? His future, or lack thereof, or his past his heritage and a symbol of Odin's warmongering? Could he really just let go of all that res