Tony had never really been one for relationships.
In fact the longest relationship he’d ever had was with his favourite brand of Scotch, which started sometime around the age of 24 and had miraculously lasted until the present day.
Sure, he’d been with Pepper, but they'd spent more years skirting around the issue in a haze of unresolved sexual tension than they actually spent together. Tony knew Pepper had been great for him and if he’d stayed with her they would have grown old and grey together and died happily in each other’s arms without a single regret.
That didn't happen though. He’d messed it up, as usual.
If you love someone, let them go was how the old saying went, and that’s what Pepper had done to him, but like the idiot he was, Tony did nothing to stop her leaving.
He would have regretted it, he should have regretted it, but as he watched her enter the room in her wedding dress, looking radiant and happier than he had ever seen her before, he knew things had worked out for the best.
“Wow,” Tony said, taking a step backwards so he could fully take in the sight before him.
Pepper paused and raised a finger. “I don’t want one word out of you. No sarcastic comments about wearing white, or my shoes or my hair.”
“Actually I was going to say you look beautiful,” Tony said as he stepped forward and smoothed the side of her veil. Then he turned towards Loki who was stood by the window, and said, “And you look beautiful too so stop being so jealous.”
“And why ever would I be jealous?” Loki asked snippily, as he ran his fingers through his hair.
“Are you kidding? I can practically feel the daggers in my back from the look I know you were just giving me,” Tony replied.
“You have a vivid imagination, Stark,” Loki scoffed.
“He’s totally annoyed with me isn’t he?” Tony asked Pepper. “Doing that evil glare that he thinks make him look all intimidating and scary, but really just makes him look like a cute little bunny?”
Pepper peeked over Tony’s shoulder and said, “I dunno. I think you might be in for a rough ride tonight.”
“Promises, promises,” Tony replied, as he turned once again, and then asked, “What’s out that window that’s so interesting? You've been acting like a peeping tom for the last 15 minutes.”
“There are many people outside in the street,” Loki replied as he allowed the gauzy net curtain to fall back across the glass.
Pepper sighed and said, “Well, unfortunately my guest list is pretty interesting to say the least, thanks to you guys, and it’s all turned into a bit of a media frenzy. You know, I had four offers of magazine deals?”
“Did you take one?” Tony asked.
“No, of course not. This is my wedding, not the Oscars.”
“These people are not press,” Loki said. “They are acting most suspiciously.”
Tony suddenly strode across the room and looked out the window. “You think something’s up? With all the Avengers here in one place it might be a good place to attack.”
“Attack?” Pepper gasped. “You think someone might attack us?”
“I do not believe they are villains. I believe they are spies,” Loki replied.
“Spies? Point one out to me?” Tony asked.
Loki waited a moment and said, “Do you see that man next to the mortal woman in the green hat?”
Tony watched the man for a few moments. “SHIELD agent.”
“How can you tell?” Loki asked.
“They all have a kind of aura,” Tony said, as he moved away from the window and over to a table where an ice bucket stood. “You can spot it after you've been around enough of them. I wouldn't worry about them.”
“Why are there SHIELD agents at my wedding?” Pepper demanded.
“Probably cos of him,” Tony said, nodding towards Loki, as he picked up the bottle of champagne and began to untwist the wires.
“What have I done?” Loki asked shrilly.
“Um… have you forgot the little incident last week where you burst into the Mayor’s house, followed by half a dozen zombies?” Tony said.
“That? That was nothing,” Loki protested. “It was merely the first large glass panel I could find to exit the paths between the realms.”
“It was the side of his shower cubicle!” Tony said loudly. “And he was in it at the time!”
“You mortals are so prudish,” Loki said dourly, as he flopped dramatically onto the nearest sofa.
Tony popped the cork on the champagne bottle and poured it into three long stemmed glasses, then asked, “Are you going to sulk now?”
“I do not sulk,” Loki said as he crossed his legs, propped his elbow on his knee then rested his chin on his hand, allowing his hair to flop forward over his face.
Tony picked up the champagne glasses and handed one to Pepper, then crossed the room and sat at the other end of the sofa. He held out one of the glasses and said, “Champagne?”
“I am not in the mood,” Loki mumbled. “You have wounded me with your thoughtless words.”
"Aw, I'm sorry, Loki," Tony said, offering the glass once more. "I quite enjoyed seeing the Mayor on the news, running round his garden, naked."
Loki let out a tiny snigger. "It was amusing."
"And I thought you looked particularly stunning as you sat in the shade of that tree, laughing at him. The picnic was a nice touch too."
"Well, it was a lovely day," Loki said, trying to stifle his chuckle. "Far too nice to be spent indoors."
“Do you forgive me?” Tony asked, nudging his knee into Loki’s thigh.
“Perhaps,” Loki said, a smirk visible through the curtain of hair that still covered his face.
"So, champagne?" Tony asked.
"Alright," Loki said, finally looking up and taking the glass.
As Loki pushed his hair back from his face and delicately sipped his drink, Tony snaked an arm round his shoulders and pulled him closer, planting a kiss on the side of his head.
The clock on the mantelpiece chimed, and Tony said, "One o'clock. It's almost time."
"I really didn't think I'd be this nervous," Pepper replied, as she started fidgeting with her veil. "Do I really look OK?"
"Pepper, stop fussing," Loki suddenly piped up. "You look radiant. One of the most beautiful mortal brides I have ever seen, even if that isn't much of a compliment."
"Well, I'm going to take it as a compliment, because that is probably the nicest thing you've ever said to me, Loki. Thank you," Pepper replied, as she looked nervously at the clock.
"If you'll excuse me," Loki said as she stood up. "I believe I should take my leave. I'm sure you have last minute preparations. Things you need to say to each other."
Loki headed across the room, opened the door and then paused. He raised his hand, pointing one finger, and said, "Stark, if you even think of running away with her, I will find you and use your empty skull as a chamber pot."
"I wouldn't dream of it, Loki. You're the only one for me," Tony said with a wink.
As Loki went to close the door behind him, Pepper called out, “Loki?”
“Yes?” he asked, pausing at the door.
“I’ve booked us a session at the parlour for when I get back from my honeymoon,” Pepper said. “Pedicure, eyebrows, head massage. The full works.”
Loki raised an eyebrow. “The parlour with the fish?”
“That’s the one,” she said.
“I shall think about it," he replied as he closed the door.
“You know he’ll be there,” Tony said.
"Oh, I know he will," Pepper replied. "The first time we went he laughed so much I thought he was going to fall in the fish tank."
Pepper sat down on the sofa next to Tony and then turned to him, her face softening as she said, "I'm really proud of you, you know?"
"You are?" he asked. "Not exactly sure what I've done to earn it… Except the whole saving the world repeatedly thing."
"Well… as much as it pains me to say it you two make a cute couple," Pepper replied with a wry grin. "And I haven't heard one complaint from the board about you for months."
"Don't let Loki hear you using the word 'cute' to describe him. He kinda has a negative reaction to being called anything other than 'Your highness.'"
Tony looked down at the floor for a moment, thinking how easily this could have been his wedding day, this could have been him marrying Pepper… although he would have probably taken one of the magazine deals.
He didn't have any real memories of his own wedding. All he had was slightly blurry Polaroid picture, and he suddenly felt for the first time that he had missed out on something special.
"Sentiment," he could almost hear Loki scoffing in his head.
"Do you regret how things worked out?" Tony asked quietly. "Between us, I mean."
Pepper paused for a moment, and then asked, "If I hadn't left you, what do you think you would be doing now?"
"I'd probably be building the MK 76 suit, if I was lucky enough not to have choked on my own vomit before now," he admitted.
"You needed a kick, Tony. I did think that maybe we would end up getting back together, once you'd realised things needed to change," She said, raising her hand to his cheek, "but even this way, I'm glad you're still in my life. I'm glad you're still one of my best friends."
Tony swallowed, he wanted to reply, but feared his voice would break on the words. Before he could say anything he was interrupted by the sounds of screaming from outside the window.
Tony shot across the room, fearing the hotel was under attack, pulled back the curtains and laughed.
"What is it? Is it terrorists?" Pepper asked.
"No," Tony laughed. "Come look."
Tony watched as Pepper pulled back the curtains and then covered her mouth with her hand. "Oh my god! He didn't?"
"I think he did," Tony replied, as he watched Loki leaning nonchalantly against the wall outside the hotel, while the SHIELD agent ran around screaming, desperately trying to find something to cover his nakedness.
As he and Loki laid huddled up in bed, Tony thought back over the events of the day.
He'd walked Pepper down the aisle, and as he placed her hand gently in Happy's he'd said, "Take care of her for me."
Happy smiled first at Tony, and then beamed as he looked into Pepper's eyes, he said, "You know I will."
And Tony knew he would, just from that one look. Happy would never let anything bad happen to Pepper, ever.
"That was a really nice thing you did for Pepper," Tony said, wrapping one arm around Loki's naked shoulder. "With the SHIELD agent."
"Well," Loki said sleepily, "I wouldn't want anyone spoiling her big day."
"Oh yeah, perish the thought that anyone would ever try to ruin someone else's big day," Tony said, with a note of sarcasm in his voice.
Loki lifted his head off Tony's chest, and asked, "Are you teasing me, Stark?"
"Only a little," Tony grinned.
"What happened at Thor's coronation was very different, and you should know that in this position my knee has excellent access to your crotch," Loki replied, letting his head flop back down again.
"Making those doves appear was a nice touch too. Pepper loved them."
Loki hummed. "A simple spell."
"Bit of a shame you let one of them crap in her hair. I didn't have the heart to tell her."
"I am a perfectionist. Real birds sometimes shit," Loki mumbled.
"C'mer you," Tony said as wrapped his arms around Loki and pulled him closer. "You looked gorgeous today and I'm so proud of you for not blowing anything up."
"Thank you very much," Loki slurred.
"Do you have anything nice you might wanna say back to me?" Tony asked. "You know, that I was charming or handsome, something like that?"
Loki was quiet for a moment, and then said, "You looked slightly less short than usual."
"You know the way to my heart, babe," Tony said, then he lifted his head a little and looked down. "Are you drooling on my chest?"
"No," Loki mumbled in response.
"Then why do I feel wet?"
"I'm crying," Loki replied. "Overcome by the emotion of the day."
"No you aren't."
"Alright then, yes I'm drooling, but only because you are so handsome" Loki giggled. "It has nothing to do with the fact that I may be slightly tipsy."
"Tipsy? I'd say you passed the tipsy stage after the fourth glass of Vanaheim wine."
Loki let out another snorting laugh. "Blame Thor. He brought it. He said it was the first wedding he had attended on Midgard, so it was a grand occasion."
Tony looked down, suddenly feeling a bit overwhelmed by emotion again, or whiskey, or both.
Thor's first wedding on Midgard should have been theirs. It should have been their wedding where Loki punched him in the arm after he accused him of crying, it should have been Tony's hair that magical doves shit in, and their happy little life together should have started out with a bang, rather than a drunken fugue state.
"Hey, has anyone ever told you that you're beautiful?" Tony asked, suddenly feeling sentimental, and he felt Loki's lips quirk into a smile against his chest.
"Once, about a year ago. Some fool in the woods." Loki said, as he raised his head and looked into Tony's eyes. "You know I think he might have been a troll. Short, vile, very hairy around the face."
"I love you," Tony said without feeling even remotely ridiculous, as Loki lay his head back on his chest and closed his eyes.
"And I you," Loki replied sleepily. "I would raze this city to the ground for you if you asked me."
"Romantic," Tony sighed, as he lay his head back down onto the soft pillows. "And slightly disturbing."