I've had the first four an a half chapters of this fic sitting on my hard drive since the end of 2013, but today I was having a clear out, and under my bed I found a notebook that was filled with scrawly handwritten notes for the first fic in this series. Reading the notes again made me realise how much I missed writing fic, so I have finally decided to finish the sequel :-)
The first five chapters are now complete. I will be posting them slowly, and hopefully this will give me the much needed kick up the backside I need to finish the final two :-P
This series is completely AU after the events of The Avengers.
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."
Tony and Loki had been married for a full year now, and even Tony himself couldn't quite believe it had been so free from incident.
Well... almost free from incident.
Things were a bit strange for a while after Tony ate the magic apple that Loki had risked life and limb, according to him, to steal from a tiny little old lady.
Tony had expected to feel different after eating it, like he would suddenly be able to lift cars or he would get the inexplicable urge to wear helmets around the house, but there was nothing.
Or it seemed like nothing, until he started waking up with bits of metal in his bed.
"What the hell is this?" Tony asked one morning, when he found a pile of tiny grey shards laid on the sheet between them.
"Your body is rejecting the fragments around your heart," Loki pointed out. "Did I not tell you that would happen?"
"You said the apple would heal me, you didn't exactly tell me I'd be waking up in a scrap heap."
"Oh. It must have slipped my mind," Loki replied, as he turned over and drifted off back to sleep.
A week later and Tony woke up to find his arc reactor casing had shifted during the night and it was now protruding from his chest awkwardly.
"JARVIS!" Tony shouted anxiously as he pushed on the casing, trying to force it back into his body. "Run a scan, check for damage to my heart."
"Sir, my scans reveal that all the metal shrapnel that previously threatened your life has now left your body," JARVIS explained calmly.
Loki suddenly turned over and said, "Well in that case you won't be needing this."
"No!" Tony shrieked as Loki twisted the reactor and yanked it from his chest. "JARVIS, call Bruce. Tell him I'm going into cardiac arrest right now!"
"Cancel that order," Loki said as he tossed the arc reactor over his shoulder and it landed on the floor with a solid thump.
"Call Bruce NOW!" Tony shouted.
"Sir," JARVIS interrupted. "You are not having a cardiac arrest. Your heart rhythm is completely within normal parameters for someone who is, what I believe you would call, 'screaming like a girl.'"
So it turned out he didn't need his arc reactor any more, and after discussions with Bruce the base plate and casing were removed the next day, leaving Tony with a very large, gaping hole in his chest, which Loki assured him would heal on its own.
Three days later, after an awful lot of sleep, Bruce went to change the dressing, and the hole was gone; replaced by a knot of pink, shiny scar tissue.
"Does this mean I'm a Norse god now?" Tony asked.
"Hardly," Loki replied sniffily.
So Tony had his new super healing powers, which he decided totally made him a god even if Loki disagreed, and oh yeah, there was also that time where Loki defeated an entire alien invasion single handedly.
Tony thought that was pretty cool as far as incidents went, a really should count in Loki's favour, if anyone was keeping count, which he totally was.
Tony had woken that morning feeling pretty good about how his life was going; his stock was rising, the tabloids hadn't called him a traitor for marrying Loki in a while, and the souvenir shop he'd had installed at the base of the newly renamed Avengers tower was doing a roaring trade in Iron Man merchandise.
He'd lazed in bed for a while, watching the pale watery early morning sun that trickled through the curtains and the way it highlighted Loki's cheekbones, and then he'd gone to the kitchen to make coffee and a huge pile of pancakes, dripping with syrup.
It didn't take long for the smell to tempt Loki out of the bedroom, and he padded into the kitchen looking bleary eyed, with his hair looking as is if he'd been dragged backwards through a bush by a tornado.
"Pancakes?" Loki asked, scrubbing at his eyes with the heel of his hand. "Is it a special occasion?"
"Nope," Tony replied as he put two plates on the table. "I just thought it would be nice to make breakfast for my favourite space Viking."
Loki smiled sleepily and said, "You are too kind to me. Kinder than I deserve."
"There's no such thing as kinder than you deserve, it's just kinder than you're used to," Tony said. "Now come on, tuck in before they get cold."
"So what are your plans for today?" Tony asked, after they finished the pancakes.
Loki sat back in his chair, gently patting his green silk clad stomach, hummed and said, "If I told you, you would ask me not to do it and since I am going to do it anyway, it is probably best that I don't tell you."
"Plausible deniability, I like it," Tony said, as he picked up his coffee. He paused for a moment, the cup hovering near his lips. "This thing you're planning isn't here on Earth, is it?"
"You need not worry yourself, my plans are far a field from Midgard."
"That's good," Tony replied. "I'd hate for you to piss Fury off… again… this week."
So after breakfast Loki disappeared, leaving Tony to occupy himself with the dishes and then wander down to his workshop where he tinkered around with a new design for an unbreakable bed that also housed a TV and a drinks cabinet.
It would be the forth bed they'd owned since they got married, and hopefully it would last longer than the first three. The first bed, Loki set fire to in a fit of rage one day. The second bed had collapsed while they were having sex, and the Avengers had burst into the room within two minutes, thinking Loki had finally turned evil again, only to find them still going at it in the remains of what used to be a California King.
The third bed had a wrought iron frame, and Tony had considered it almost indestructible, but Loki had developed a fondness for being tied to it, and one of the the bed head uprights had snapped clean off, and the remaining bars were bowed. Yeah, that bed wasn't gonna last long either.
Tony had just perfected the cooling system for the beer compartment for his new super bed when the call came down that the Avengers were needed because New York was probably about to go bang again.
"What I wanna know," Tony said, as he blasted an alien with a repulsor, "Is why our reputation hasn't spread a bit further. All these aliens keep invading and we keep wiping them out."
"Tony, can you concentrate please?" Natasha said over the comm as she stood on the other side of the street, firing her guns at the rapidly advancing creatures.
"Seriously though, you would think the message would get out that if you come to Earth you will get your ass handed to you by-" Tony was cut off as something hit him and caused him to stagger backwards.
A pain shot through his neck and upper chest and Tony raised his gloved hand to his neck and then up to his face where he saw the fingertips dripping with blood.
"Sir, I have alerted the medical authorities that you have been injured. I suggest you remove yourself from the battle scene immediately," JARVIS said.
"What just happened?" Tony asked, starting to feel a little strange and he was pretty sure he could hear his name being shouted from somewhere far away.
"You were hit by one of the spears. The metal is an element I have never detected before and it has penetrated the suit, causing a slight tear in your jugular vein," Jarvis said. "Sir, do you want me to take control of the suit and take you to safety? My protocols will not allow me to do that without your orders."
Tony's legs began to wobble and he dropped to his knees, then flopped heavily onto his back. "Actually I'm feeling tired. I think I need to lay down for a bit."
"You are feeling tired because you are loosing blood. Sir, give me the order to fly you to safety or you will die before the medical authorities can reach you," JARVIS said, sounding a bit panicked even to Tony's rapidly failing hearing.
"I'm going to die?" Tony asked.
"If you do not allow me to help you, sir, yes you will die."
"Wow," Tony mumbled. "Bummer."
Lights started to flicker around him; gold, pink and green, all mixing into one bright beam that shone down upon him from the heavens. Tony had never believed in near death experiences, the tunnel of light, the loving family waiting to welcome you into their arms, but here it was, happening to him.
Damn, he thought, I hope dad isn't pissed at me for shutting down the weapons division of Stark Industries.
Ten minutes in heaven or hell or wherever he was going and he'd be grounded for life.
Or something or other.
There was a thump above his head, and then the light was blotted out by the face of god, or more specifically his god, the one with the horned helmet, who currently appeared to be looking down at him and snarling with rage.
"Who among you dared lay a hand upon my husband?" Loki roared, a little too loudly for Tony's liking.
Tony could see Loki crouching over him, two knives in his hands, his legs splayed and his crotch tantalisingly close to Tony's face. It would be a good view to go out on, if he did die, he thought.
Suddenly Loki was moving, too fast for Tony's eyes to keep up with. A whirl of blades and blood and squelching sounds and inhuman screeching as Loki moved from alien to alien.
Tony wasn't sure how long this went on for; minutes, hours, weeks? But eventually the screaming stopped, and once again Loki leant over him, with bright red blood smeared across face and clothes.
"Hi Loki," Tony said weakly. "I missed you."
"Tony, I leave you alone for three hours and you cannot keep yourself from trouble, can you?"
Tony wanted to reply, but he felt strange; as if he was floating, floating in the sky with Loki's arms wrapped him, and then the view changed. The air around them swirled with colours and Tony found himself looking up at a while tiled ceiling.
Everyone got the wrong idea at first, and the news was reporting that Loki had invaded a hospital, carrying Tony in his arms, and had taken everyone hostage. It was bullshit obviously, because Loki had only taken four doctors and three nurses hostage, but the authorities over reacted, as they usually do, and evacuated the whole hospital.
The news channels did have their uses though, and they had managed to capture Loki's battle against the aliens in glorious HD. Tony had hacked into the channels servers and stolen the original footage, then had JARVIS set it to epic music so he could watch it all the time without hearing the reporters screaming "Iron Man is down! Tony Stark is injured!" repeatedly.
The resulting video was a thing of beauty.
It started with Loki arriving in a dazzling display of Bifrost light, something which Loki denied for weeks, but when faced with the video evidence he admitted he had been having tea with his mother in the palace gardens when he received word from Heimdall that Tony had been injured.
Loki looked down and then turned to face the advancing invaders, as two knives appeared in his hands, their points facing downwards. He crouched low over Tony's fallen body, his knees bent, legs apart, waiting like a scorpion ready to strike, for the first alien to reach him.
The first creature was dead in seconds, two swift taps to the chest and a slash across the neck finished it off, and then Loki was twirling, hacking at the next closest alien with the grace of a psychotic ballet dancer.
Loki would strike out, green light emanating from the knife, and six of the creatures would fall, clutching their necks as blood sprayed from gaping wounds. The combination of blade and magic made it look like he was conducting an orchestra of death.
The aliens were still advancing, and at one point Loki was overwhelmed by their numbers, but then a dozen of him appeared on the periphery of the group, laughing and taunting the creatures, drawing them away, giving Loki the opportunity to kill those closest to him.
The fight lasted only 4 minutes and 15 seconds, Tony had timed it, but at the end Loki stood with his chest heaving, dripping with gore, and surrounded by a pile of 32 bodies.
So that was the two major incidents that had happened in the last year, and sure there were lots of minor incidents too, but they hardly seemed worth worrying about.
Like the time Loki convinced Thor that if they weren't real brothers, they could at least be blood brothers, and watched as Thor cut the palm of his hand, then started giggling and walked away, leaving Thor to bleed all over the kitchen table.
Thor got a bit angry.
The resulting flood damage cost insurance companies millions.
Or time they saw a news report that a dog was trapped in a tiny gap between a housing block and parking garage in down town New York, while they had been enjoying a relaxing afternoon in front of the TV.
One minute they were curled up in each other’s arms, the next Tony was falling face down into the pillows and Loki was on the television.
The dog was rescued unharmed and reunited with its delighted owner.
The owners of the 17 cars in the parking garage that Loki destroyed while rescuing the dog? Yeah, not so happy...
The real secret to keeping Loki calm and relatively incident free for the better portion of the day, Tony had discovered, was to wake him up with sex.
On a morning he was warm and pliant and liked sleepy, slow kisses while buried in the quilts like a hamster.
Start the day like this and Loki would be calm, almost laid back, if it were possible for a god of mischief to be laid back. He had a tenderness about him that Tony had rarely seen since his breakdown in the woods.
Wake Loki by opening the curtains on a morning and you were faced with an irritable teenager who was capable of throwing an alarm clock through three walls.
Wake Loki some other way, say by attacking the tower at 5am, and you probably wouldn't live to tell the tale, as a whole bunch of agents from some new unknown shady group had discovered one autumn morning.
Tony had been woken by an explosion, followed by JARVIS setting off the alarms, and he had only just realised that the bed next to him was empty when Loki reappeared back in their suite and threw himself onto the duvet and cocooned himself into it.
“We're under attack?” Tony asked, as the alarm stopped sounding.
“We were,” Loki replied, his voice muffled by the pillows. “We aren't any more.”
It certainly made for an interesting day, when Tony discovered dozens of pictures of his husband defeating an entire army, while wearing nothing a thin green silk robe, all over the news.
It had been a windy morning too.
"It's just my cock," Loki said dismissively, when faced with the pictures. "I'm not ashamed of it."
"You aren't bothered that pretty much most of the human race has now seen what you keep in your pants?" Tony asked.
Loki looked up at Tony and narrowed his eyes. "Are you suggesting I should be ashamed of my cock? That perhaps it is small or unattractive?"
Tony recognised that look and that tone of voice, and backed away stuttering, "No, no, Loki. Absolutely not. You have the most beautiful cock I've ever seen, I swear."
"Good," Loki said, looking back at his laptop. "Frankly I'm more worried about the state of my hair. I didn't even have time to run a comb through it."
So everything was fine and dandy as far as Tony was concerned… Well, almost. There was one slight fly in the ointment, one thing that stood between him and Loki and a happy superhero life in the tower.
Clint still absolutely despised Loki, despite Natasha promising to talk him round after Loki helped defeat Ultimo, and Loki took great delight in annoying Clint as much as possible. Loki would flaunt his married and protected status in Clint's face, laugh at his every misfortune, and enchant his arrows so they would return to him like a boomerang.
Tony thought it was mostly childish pranks that they would grow out of eventually, but it all came to a head when Natasha had her wrist broken by the latest supervillain du jour, while Loki sat a few feet away from her, nibbling on a Panini, watching her fight some guy twice her size, and did nothing to stop him.
"Why the hell didn't you help her?" Clint screeched in Loki's smirking face. "You were right there, you could have taken that guy out with one thought and you did nothing!"
"Clint!" Natasha shouted, as the paramedics placed a temporary splint around her wrist. "I'm fine, let it go. You know he likes to see you mad."
"Oh, he'll like it when my fist is in his face!" Clint said, moving even closer.
Loki let out a small laugh. "I'd like to see you try."
"Why didn't you do anything?" Clint asked again.
"Get it into your thick skull," Loki barked back, "I am not a member of your pathetic team."
"I'd say you were more like the Avengers mascot," Tony interrupted, trying to calm the situation.
"Oh, Agent Barton, is this love?" Loki said, as he trailed a finger across Clint's chest. "Are you harbouring feelings for me that you just cannot contain? Is that what this unpleasantness is about?"
Clint sneered at him. "As if."
"Good, because you had your chance to marry me and you rejected my offer of courtship," Loki said as he extended an arm around Tony's waist and pulled him closer, preparing to teleport away. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have sex with my husband, while you sit alone and cry in your room."
Yeah, so that really hadn't gone down well with Clint, but what really did it was the time they were in the middle of a minor skirmish and Clint took an unexpected knee to the groin and Loki laughed so much he almost fell off the roof he was sitting on.
Tony was fighting on the ground at the time, firing repulsor blasts at anything that got near him, when he heard Loki laugh, and he turned to see Clint, his eyes streaming, pulling two arrows from his pack. He loosed one into the robot that was nearest him, and then placed the other on his bow string and turned, aiming upwards.
Tony didn't think much of it at first, he'd seen Clint fire arrows at Loki before, and Loki being a god with super fast reflexes and everything, had taken great delight in catching every single one of them of them just inches from his face.
This was different though, Loki was still laughing his ass off and wasn't paying attention as Clint fired the arrow.
"How the hell could you do that?" Tony asked, as he held the cloth to Loki's still bleeding mouth.
"I know, I know," Clint said, then he smirked. "I was aiming for his eye."
"Get out of here!" Tony shouted, pointing towards the door of the medical room.
"Gladly," Clint said, and then he paused at the door, turned back and said, "Good luck, Loki."
Loki let out a wordless sound of anger then coughed in pain, his eyes leaking tears as the arrow ground against his jaw bone.
"Don't speak," Tony said, as he held the cloth up again, carefully avoiding the arrow shaft that still protruded from Loki's mouth. "Bruce will be here soon. He'll get it out and then you'll be fine. He just has a little… Hulk problem to deal with first."
It took Bruce the best part of 25 minutes to dig the arrow out of Loki's jaw, it was so deeply embedded in the bone. The arrow had entered his mouth at an angle, smashed through the joint where his jaw bone met his skull, and the tip was sticking out through his cheek.
With no anaesthetics or painkillers that would work on Loki they had to work with him conscious, Tony trying to hold his head still as Bruce worked to release the arrow head from the bone. Eventually Loki had tired of being prodded, grabbed the arrow shaft and pushed it though his face, much to Bruce's exasperation.
"Your jaw is broken," Bruce said as he taped closed the wound on Loki's cheek. "Under normal circumstances we'd use metal plates to fix it and maybe wire your teeth shut until it healed, but I'm guessing we don't need to do that with you?"
Loki's eyes went wide for a second, then he smiled and shook his head.
"I'll have to tie this, just to keep your mouth shut while you sleep," Bruce said, as he looped a wide bandage under Loki's jaw and then tied it in a bow on the top of his head.
"Come on you, lets get you to bed so it'll heal," Tony said.
Loki hopped off the trolley and nodded politely to Bruce.
Except Loki didn't go to bed.
For three days he sat on the sofa, passing Tony almost indecipherable handwritten notes that said "I'm not tired," or "No, I wish to finish watching this documentary. The life of the three toed sloth is fascinating," every time Tony asked if he was going to go into the healing sleep.
It wasn't until Tony heard the sound of the Bifrost thumping down onto the landing platform outside, and five minutes later the alarms started blaring, that he realised exactly why Loki hadn't gone to bed.
Tony was in his suit and in the elevator to the living room within minutes, and as the lift doors whooshed open he saw Loki standing, with red puffy eyes as if he had been crying.
Ah, he though, Loki had been crying, which explained why Hulk was currently gripping a screaming Thor around the waist, holding him back from Clint.
"How dare you injure my brother in this manner," Thor barked.
"Thor, he's manipulating you!" Clint shouted back.
"How dare you accuse him of such a thing," Thor shouted, as Loki stood behind him with a smug grin on his swollen, bruised face.
Clint stayed away from Loki as much as he possibly could after that one.
Everyone else, well they got on with Loki just fine.
Bruce treated his injuries without complaint, so he couldn't avoid him really. Natasha… well, she kinda avoided Loki, but Steve, well Steve had reached some kind of understanding with Loki after he helped them destroy a big rampaging robot that if he didn't start shit, he would treat him civilly.
“I’d rather have Loki on no side in a fight, than on the other side," Steve had said once, and that was good enough for Tony.
But overall Steve and Loki seemed to get along fine. They would talk politely to each other, although they were not overtly friendly, but then Loki didn't seem all that interested in making friends with any of the Avengers as such. It seemed to Tony that he simply regarded them as people who happened to share the space he lived in.
And there was still the magnificent sex of course, and that sure kept things very interesting.
In fact it had got more magnificent with time, as Tony soon realised he had some form of eidetic memory for all of Loki's erogenous zones.
Every single inch of his skin had been mapped out, and every moan and sigh catalogued. Tony knew the things that made Loki scream with pleasure, like the scrape of his teeth along the sensitive inner surfaces of his wrists, the gentle teasing of the crease along the top of his thigh, and if he could reach, running his fingernails along the arch of his left foot. Yup, that one especially drove him wild.
Yup, married life with the god of mischief was proving to be entertaining, but nowhere near as chaotic as Tony had expected.
Or at least it was, until the day Loki tumbled through a portal with a 6 foot spear through his chest.
"JARVIS, call Bruce now!" Tony barked as he rushed across the living room to where Loki was, dripping blood across the carpet as he staggered forward a few steps.
Loki reached out, his hand latching onto Tony's shoulder, and he said, “I believe I may be injured.”
"No shit," Tony snapped, looking round the room trying to find a place where Loki would be able to lay on his side or even sit without the spear knocking any furniture.
"Sir, Doctor Banner has been apprised of the situation and is on his way," JARVIS replied.
"That's good," Tony said as he tried to lead Loki gently forward, one small shuffling step at a time, to a clearer area of the room. "Come on now. Watch the wall."
Loki hissed in pain as he turned to move around the furniture and the end of the spear brushed the wall behind him. "I cannot," he gasped, his knees starting to wobble as he placed a shaky hand on the back of the sofa.
"Yes, you can. You're a god, remember? You can do anything," Tony said as he took hold of Loki's elbow. "Just a few more steps and then you'll be clear."
Loki shuffled around the sofa and then stumbled, his body tipping forward as his knees went from under him, and he let out a sharp cry of pain as the tip of the spear touched the floor.
"Shit, shit, shit!" Tony exclaimed as Loki went down, his legs crumpling under him as he slumped awkwardly against the side of the sofa, wincing in pain as the spear brushed the floor with every heave of his chest.
"No more," Loki gasped, his head dropping. "I cannot."
"Dammit," Tony shouted as he looked around, desperately searching for a place he could get Loki on his side, but found every space blocked by a table or bookshelves. "Why didn't I go for a more minimalist look?"
"Because I hate it," Loki ground out, panting through the pain. "And you know better than to anger me."
Tony knelt by Loki's side, taking in the sight of the spear. It was thick, at least two or three inches wide, and he cringed at the damage it must have done inside the god's body.
"We need to get this thing out of you," Tony said.
"Pull it," Loki gasped.
"No, that'll do more damage. We need something to cut it down to size so you can at least get in a more comfortable position," Tony said, and then he heard a robotic whir next to his head and turned to find Dum-E stood next to him, with a laser cutter held in its metal claws.
"I took the liberty of asking for it to be brought up, sir," JARVIS said.
"JARVIS, you genius," Tony said as he took the cutter and held it to the spear about 12 inches from Loki's chest wall. "This might hurt."
"I care not," Loki replied. "Just cut the blasted thing."
The laser cutter whined into life and an acrid smell filled the room as it burnt through the blood-slicked wood.
"Just a little more," Tony said, as he grasped the end of the spear to stop it falling, but as it came free Loki let out a loud wail of pain, as the weight of the spear shifted it, the long end section pulling to down like a lever inside his chest.
Bruce burst through the door, his arms filled with gauze, bandages and other medical equipment he had hastily grabbed, and stopped in his tracks. "What the hell happened?"
"What the fuck does it look like?" Tony snapped, trying to steady the end of the spear in one hand and Loki in the other. "Get over here and help me."
Bruce dumped the bandages on the sofa and moved over to Loki, bending on one knee and supporting the weight of the spear at the back.
Loki suddenly looked up, his eyes wide and his cheeks wet. He looked disorientated for a moment, but when he finally focused on Tony's face, he asked, "Where is Thor?"
"Sir," JARVIS answered, "Mister Odinson is visiting Miss Foster. He has been informed that you are injured and he is on his way back to the tower."
"You hear that?" Tony asked. "Big brother is all worried about you and he's probably breaking the sound barrier just to get back here to see you."
Loki let out a small sob and wailed, "I want him now!"
"Hey, hey, listen to me," Tony said as he placed his hands on Loki's cheeks, wiping away a stray tear with his thumb. "Thor is coming. He's going to be here before you know it. Now I know you're scared and this has to hurt like a son of a bitch, but Bruce is going to fix it and you'll be fine. OK?"
Loki nodded hesitantly.
“I'm gonna cut this back section off,” Bruce said as he picked up the laser cutter from where Tony had dropped it. “Once it’s free we’ll get you laid down and I’ll have a gurney brought down from medical.”
“You ready?” Tony asked, still cupping one hand to Loki’s cheek.
Loki nodded, gritting his teeth in pain.
There was the smell of acrid burning as the laser easily cut through the thick wood, and finally the long end of the spear pulled away.
Loki gasped as the weight was freed from his chest, and then snaked a shaking hand backwards, grasping Bruce’s wrist.
There was a swirl of air, something akin to a warm tornado, and the room began to melt and change in front of their eyes.
“I could not wait,” Loki said quietly, as they found themselves sat on the medical room floor.
"We're gonna get you up onto the bed now, OK?" Bruce said, and Loki nodded, sagging to the side. "Can you give me a hand here, Tony?"
"Sure," Tony said, as he moved down Loki's body, wrapping his hands behind his knees, as Bruce put his hands under Loki's arms.
"On three," Bruce said. "One, two, three."
They lifted, struggling against Loki's weight through ground teeth and when they finally had him on the bed, Bruce said, "Jeeze, how the hell do you weight so much?"
They held Loki upright on the bed, and Bruce asked, "Can you do that magic thing where all your armour vanishes?"
"Is it a good idea for him to be doing magic while he's in this state?" Tony asked.
"Do you have a better way of getting forty pounds of leather and metal off him, 'cause I don't."
Loki closed his eyes, concentrating hard, and the air around him started to shift, and his armour melted away.
"Err… I didn't actually mean you should be naked," Bruce said, as he pulled a cotton sheet up. "But this is much better. Tony, can you hand me the laser cutter? I need to shorten the back section so we can get him laid down."
Tony handed Bruce the cutter and then took hold of one of Loki's hands, and placed his other on his shoulder. "Everything is going to be all right."
Except Tony didn't know how everything could be all right. Now that Loki's armour was off he could see the mess of his chest and he prayed that Frost Giants had their heart in a different place, because he was pretty sure Loki's must have been skewered on the way through.
"Bruce," Tony asked. "How the hell are we going to get this thing out if anaesthetics and painkillers don't work on him?"
Bruce's eyes flicked to Tony and then back to laser cutter in his hand. "We're going to have to operate."
"With him conscious?"
"We don't have a choice," Bruce replied, and as he finished the final cut there was a sudden flash of light and the sound of thunder rolled across the sky.
"Thor!" Loki cried, gripping Tony's hand painfully hard.
It was a matter of minutes before they heard the sound of boots clumping down the hallway and the door burst open.
Thor stood for a second, his eyes scanning Loki on the bed before stepping forward.
"Thor," Loki said quietly. "Hit me."
"What?" Tony asked.
Thor raised his hand and punched Loki in the jaw with a sickening crunch, knocking him unconscious.
Thor took hold of the short spear and ripped it from Loki's chest.
"No! No, no!" Bruce shouted, pressing gauze over the wound in Loki's chest and applying pressure. "Why the hell did you do that? You could kill him!"
"Why did you not remove it when it was causing him pain?" Thor barked back.
"Because that was probably the only thing stopping him from bleeding to death," Bruce shouted, still holding pressure to the wound.
"Sir, if I may," JARVIS interrupted, "I have scanned Mister Odinson and discovered that all his internal organs are undamaged."
"That's impossible," Bruce said.
"JARVIS, are you sure?" Tony asked.
"I am 100% positive, sir. Apart from some internal bruising and the wounds to his chest wall, Mister Odinson has no injuries at all."
Bruce hesitantly lifted the gauze he was holding to the hole in Loki's chest and was surprised when only a small amount of blood trickled from the torn skin edges.
Tony edged closer to the bed, feeling slightly queasy as he observed the wound. Through the ragged edges of the skin he could see the shattered bones of Loki's sternum, and beyond that his undamaged heart beating strongly.
Tony looked to Thor, and asked, "Magic?"
"I do not know," Thor replied honestly.
Bruce returned to the bedside, snapping on surgical gloves, and began prodding at the wound, then inserted his fingers into Loki's chest cavity.
"What are you doing?" Thor asked.
"Checking for injuries," Bruce replied, as twisted his hand, pushing his fingers down behind Loki's heart. "Rips or tears that we can't see. That kind a thing."
"And?" Tony asked.
"Everything is completely normal," Bruce replied. "But I have no idea how."
"May I venture an opinion?" JARVIS asked.
"You know how he survived this?" Bruce asked.
"My scans indicate that while Mister Odinson has skin only slightly stronger than that of a human, his internal organs and bones are incredibly dense," JARVIS said.
"So his organs are super strong… What and the spear just… moved them out of the way?" Bruce asked.
"It would explain the lack of injury, sir."
"So what do we do?" Tony asked. "Is he going to be OK?"
"I guess I just rebuild as much of his ribcage as I can and dress the wounds," Bruce replied with a shrug of the shoulders. "We let nature run its course."
For three days Tony stayed in the medical bay as Loki slept, his body crackling with energy as it healed. He spent his days slumped in the chair by Loki's bed, hunched over his laptop, and his nights asleep on the sofa at the foot of the bed.
He knew Loki would be fine, his injuries always healed without incident in a matter of a few days, but he just couldn't drag himself away from that room.
Bruce would drop by and keep Tony supplied with coffee and sandwiches, and Thor would stop in for a few hours every afternoon to keep Tony company, and to check on Loki's recovery.
Mostly Tony was alone though, left with his own thoughts, as he watched Loki sleep soundlessly, only the movement of his chest as breathed indicating that he still lived.
Loki could have died.
He could have died out on some godforsaken alien planet and Tony would never have known what had happened to him.
"Are you well, Stark?" Thor asked, his voice interrupting Tony's thoughts.
Tony looked up, the frown disappearing from his face as he said, "Sorry, Thor. I didn't hear you come in."
"You seem distressed," Thor said, as he pulled a chair close to Loki's bed and sat down.
Tony scrubbed his hand over his forehead and grimaced. "You could say that. It's just… It's just… How the hell have you coped with him for like a thousand years?"
Thor's brows knitted together in confusion. "I know not what you ask."
"You've been alive for a thousand years now, right?" Tony asked, and Thor nodded. "Then how the hell have you managed to put up with his behaviour for that long without going nuts?"
Thor nodded, finally understanding Tony's question. "Ah, you must remember, Stark, that Loki has not always been like this. Yes, we have lived for over a thousand of your years, and it is only in the last two that Loki has been... this..."
"Well, I was going to say beyond reason," Thor said with a smirk. "He was not always like this, and I have hope that one day that he will return to himself."
"So he didn't always run round the realms, getting himself beat up and stabbed and god knows what else?" Tony asked.
"My brother always had a reputation for tricks and pranks and he was famed for his quick wit and biting tongue. That is nothing new," Thor said as he leant forward and looked at his brother's still face, "But Loki and I fought side by side for years, and I know that he was fiercely loyal; to his family, his friends, and to Asgard above all else. He would have done anything to protect us."
"So much so that he let the Frost Giants in?" Tony asked.
"He has told you about that?" Thor asked, raising an eyebrow. "Has he shown any remorse?"
"Loki doesn't do remorse," Tony snapped. "And I can pretty much guarantee when he wakes up he won't say sorry for putting me through this hell."
"I understand your anger, Anthony," Thor sighed. "Regardless of everything that has happened between us, I love him still. To see him act this way distresses me immensely, but we must allow him the time to get well. He has suffered enough already."
"Maybe you have too much hope," Tony replied bitterly. "Maybe he actually doesn't give a damn about any of us at all."
"I know how it feels to be loved by Loki. I felt it every single day as we were growing up. I know he is capable of great emotion, but I fear finding out he was the son of Laufey damaged his mind and I was not there to help him through it."
"Not exactly your fault, since it was Loki who got you banished," Tony sighed.
"That is true," Thor said, with a sad smile.
Loki's fingers twitched against the cotton bed sheet and he let out a low murmur.
"He awakes," Thor said. He stood up, sliding the chair back against the wall. "I shall leave you talk. I am sure you have much to discus."
"Thanks, Thor," Tony replied.
As the door clicked shut against the frame Loki's eyelids fluttered open, and he turned to face Tony.
"How you feeling?" Tony asked.
"I am well… but you look strange. Has something happened?" Loki asked.
"Nah, nothing much," Tony replied. "Oh wait, yeah, there was that thing where my husband almost got himself killed. Yeah, that was pretty bad, not that you'd care."
Loki propped himself up against the pillows, and started absent-mindedly picking at the surgical tape that covered the now healed wound on his chest. "Of course I cared. It hurt a great deal, but all is well now."
"So you don't care how I feel about it?"
Loki raised an eyebrow at Tony and then continued picking at the tape. "You should know better than to worry about me."
"I want you to stop pulling your disappearing acts," Tony suddenly snapped.
Loki let out a snorting laugh and continued peeling up the edge of the surgical tape without even glancing in Tony's direction.
"I'm serious. This wandering off to god knows where and coming back all beaten up and half dead, it stops now."
Loki paused and looked at Tony. "You would prefer to me to scheme on Midgard?"
"Of course not, b-"
"Then my answer is no," Loki interrupted.
Tony pursed his lips together, fighting the urge to grab Loki by the shoulders and shake some god damn sense into him. He let his breath out slowly and asked, "Do you even care about my feelings? I was terrified when you came back with that spear stuck in you."
An unreadable look crossed Loki's face, somewhere between guilt and confusion, and then it vanished as he resumed peeling the surgical tape from his skin, a tiny piece at a time. After some time he quietly said, "Perhaps you care too much."
Tony stood up, the chair screeching against the tiled floor as it was knocked backwards. He reached over and grabbed the edge of the surgical tape and ripped the dressing from Loki's chest in one quick motion.
Loki let out a yelp of pain. "Stark! You pulled out four of my chest hairs!"
"Well that's fine, you still have eight left," Tony said, as he tossed the dressing onto the bed.
"Am I interrupting?" Bruce asked, as he stood at the bottom of the bed, looking from Loki to Tony. "I can leave if you need to talk."
"It's fine," Tony said, as he dragged his chair back to the bedside and sat back down.
"How are you feeling, Loki?” Bruce asked.
"I believe I am well enough to leave," Loki said, then he looked at Tony nervously, and hesitantly added, "I shall return to my quarters?"
Tony sighed and nodded. "Lets get you back home."
The tension in the air was palpable for the few days after Loki returned to their suite.
Tony was still angry as hell, but Loki seemed to respond to it strangely. He would quietly sit by Tony, his expression almost remorseful, but he had offered no words of apology.
If Tony walked across the suite, Loki moved out of his way swiftly, as if expecting to be told off. Tony hated the feeling of Loki walking on eggshells around him, and he was almost glad when the call came down that the Avengers were needed in the city.
Bruce, Steve, Thor and Hulk answered the call, and as they stood in the street looking at the floating cars that were hovering in the air, a foot from the tarmac road, Tony pushed one of them with his finger and watched it sway gently.
“Magic?” Tony asked.
“I honestly cannot say for certain,” Thor said, “But it seems likely.”
“Loki?” Steve asked.
“I doubt it,” Tony replied. “He’s at home, laughing his ass off at Titanic. Film’s about to end, so once Jack dies I'm pretty sure he’ll turn up.”
There was a flash of light up to the left, and Loki appeared, sat on the soft canopy of a restaurant, his legs dangling in the air.
"Right on cue," Tony said. "Were your ears burning?"
"The film ended," Loki said, and then in a high-pitched voice he said, "Come back. Come back!" and let out a loud cackle.
"You enjoyed it, huh?"
"It was most amusing," Loki replied as he dipped his hand into his popcorn bag.
"So…. You wanna tell us what's going on here?" Tony asked, as he put his hand to a floating car and pushed it through the air gently.
Loki held his finger up to his mouth he quietly chewed, once he swallowed he said, "Magic."
"We can guess that much. Any idea who's doing it?" Steve asked.
"Not a clue," Loki replied. "But you are about to find out."
The cars that had been floating and swaying in the breeze now began to drift higher, and the Avengers took a step back from them as they began to tilt.
A tin can that had been laying in a gutter began to float upwards, followed by pieces of paper that lay abandoned in trash cans.
"Guys, what the hell is going on?" Steve asked.
Sparks began to appear in the centre of the wide street, purple and pink and white. They pulsed with white bright colours, casting strange, warm shadows on the tarmac.
"Did someone order a mobile disco?" Tony asked.
"Loki, what is this," Thor asked, as he gripped Mjolnir tightly and twisted the shaft in his hand.
"Oh, really, Thor. It should be obvious what it is," Loki said, rolling his eyes. "It's a portal."
The sparks coalesced, forming a tight ball that pulsed like a heartbeat, that then burst outwards, forming a shimmering pink pool of light.
A man stepped through it, he was short, no more than four foot tall, with a long red beard, and red hair flowing from beneath his silver burnished helmet.
Out of the corner of his eye Tony noticed something fall to the floor, and then a gust of wind blew popcorn kernels towards his feet. He looked up to the soft canopy and found it empty.
Loki had dropped his popcorn and vanished.
It didn't take Tony long to get back to the tower, and the second his armour was stripped he sprinted through the tower searching for Loki, and eventually found him skulking around the kitchen of their suite.
"Do you want to explain to me what happened today?" Tony asked. "Judging by the way you vanished out there, I'm going to say you have something to do with this."
"Nothing," Loki replied quickly, barely looking up from the dishes he had placed on the table before him. "I merely remembered that I had not emptied the dishwasher and I hate things lying around, causing a mess."
Tony took a step closer and grabbed Loki by the wrist. "You've never emptied the dishwasher in your life, so tell me why that guy is here."
Loki's eyes went slightly wide, and then his face went blank again. "I honestly have no idea."
"I swear to god, Loki if you are lying to me, this will not end well," Tony said sharply, "He's coming back tomorrow, and he's bringing his army with him."
The man who had stepped through the portal the previous day had announced that he was Gimum, lord high chancellor to King Harrund of Nidavellir.
He had declared that the King would be visiting the next day to issue a proclamation, and if his demands were not met, the realm of Midgard would feel the consequences.
Tony couldn't help but laugh when the guy drew out a sword and waved it around a bit. He looked like a kid with a toy that was slightly too large, or he did until he took one swipe at one of the floating cars and a giant eruption of light had exploded from its metal edges and cleaved the vehicle in two.
"You should be the most afraid," the little guy had warned, pointing his sword towards Tony. "My weapon would separate your head from your body. It would cut through your armour as if it were butter, and I'll wager you are softer on the inside than the outside."
Tony took a step backwards and glanced nervously at Thor, who stood holding Mjolnir tightly in his grip.
"Good Odinson," Gimum said, with a slight bow. "I had heard tell that you were stationed on Midgard these days, but I did not expect to find you in the company of such wretches."
"Do not slight my friends with your words," Thor growled.
"I merely speak as I find, my lord, but if you align yourselves with these, these…" Gimum searched for words for a moment, and then waved his sword towards Steve as he continued, "These immoral characters, then I shall judge you by the company you keep."
"Keep speaking, Lord Gimum, and you will feel the consequences," Thor threatened.
"Tell me, Thor," Gimum said, leaning forward slightly, with a smirk on his face. "How does your brother fare, these days? Does he still bear the scars?"
Thor suddenly moved forward, raising Mjolnir as he walked, and he growled, "You will not speak of Loki!"
Gimum visibly braced himself, waiting for the hammer to fall, and when it did he stood unmoving, as Mjolnir connected with his chest plate with a small metallic clunk.
Thor looked at Mjolnir, and said, "I-I do not understand."
Gimum started to laugh. "Oh Thor, did you forget we made her? Did you not realise we could quite as easily make armour to defend against her?" He clapped his hands together and said, "Enough of the idle chatter. Be here tomorrow when the sun is highest in the sky. King Harrund will arrive at that time, with his army, to issue his proclamation. He will of course be staying the night and we expect chambers to be available for him and his companions."
The portal began to glow and pulse again, and Gimum turned and walked through it, leaving the Avengers in the street, wondering what the hell just happened.
"So tell me about these… Dwarves," Fury said to Thor, shifting in his seat at the head of the conference table, the next morning.
"Well, they are short," Loki said with a grin.
Fury pointed angrily at Loki and scowled at him. "You, keep your damn mouth shut."
Loki grumbled quietly to himself, and pulled his feet up onto his chair.
"Seriously?" Clint asked. "You pulled me and Nat out of a mission for Dwarves?"
"Though their stature may be small, I would not underestimate them, my friend," Thor said. "They are a formidable opponent."
"So tell us about them," Steve said, laying his hands on the table.
"They are master craftsmen," Thor began. "Their forges, and the weapons created in them, are renowned across the realms for their accuracy and their deadliness."
"Weapons?" Natasha asked.
"They made Mjolnir," Thor said lowly.
"We are so screwed," Tony said.
"Do we have any idea what their demands are?" Steve asked.
"I guess we'll find out later today," Fury said.
Just before noon the Quinjet touched down in the street where the portal had appeared the previous day, and the Avengers walked down the ramp.
"You worried?" Tony asked, when he noticed Loki who had decided, for some reason that Tony yet to figure out, to attend the meeting in the form of a random SHIELD agent, fidgeting nervously beside him.
"Aren't you?" Loki asked.
"Well given what the guy said about separating my head from my body, yeah, a little bit," Tony replied.
"Remember what we said, guys," Steve announced. "We see what he has to say first. I don't want anyone provoking this into a fight if we don't have to."
"You really think this won't end in a fight?" Bruce asked, as he stood by Steve's side.
Steve half heartedly shrugged, and said, "We can only hope."
"Yeah, right. So that's why everyone has been evacuated in a ten block radius? 'Cause this is gonna off without any fighting?" Clint quipped.
"Better to be safe than sorry," Steve replied.
"They arrive," Thor said, gripping Mjolnir tightly as pink sparks began to shower into the street, and the portal opened.
Tony had to fight the urge to slam his faceplate down as two Dwarves in brightly coloured robes stepped out into the street and raised long brass trumpets to their lips.
Non threatening. Calm. Not about to fire his repulsors and a barrage of missiles into the portal… Yeah, Tony could totally do that.
When the call was finished, one of the trumpeters lowered his instrument and announced loudly, "Mortals of Midgard, I present to you his royal highness, King Harrund of Nidavellir, and his daughter, Princess Dulvina."
The trumpeters bowed deeply as the portal began to shimmer, and out stepped a Dwarf with long flowing black hair, and what Tony could only describe as the ugliest Hobbit he had ever seen.
The king walked forward, stopping just a few feet in front of the Avengers, as row after row of heavily armoured soldiers poured out behind him, and took up positions around the street.
He waited and then pointedly cleared his throat.
"King Harrund," Thor said, bowing slightly.
Tony looked at Steve and then to Natasha, who shrugged her shoulders, and then awkwardly bowed.
When the king was satisfied that he had been greeted correctly he nodded and smiled. "It is good to see you again, son of Odin. It has been many years."
"Aye, it has," Thor agreed. "I did not realise you were king of Nidavellir now."
Harrund flashed a sly smile and said, "Well, a few well placed assassinations will get you everywhere."
"And your wife, Girna, will she be joining us today?"
Harrund looked briefly downcast. "Sadly Girna fell in the struggle for the throne, but I have remarried, and as you can see, my new wife has helped my beautiful daughter grow into a fine young woman."
"That she has," Thor replied, and Tony could see he was having a hard time keeping a straight face.
The Princess… Well, Tony didn't like to be rude in general, and certainly not about a woman's appearance, but Dulvina, well, there was no other way to say it: she looked like she smelled.
Her hair was long and uncombed, and the section level with her mouth looked like it had some rancid meat stuck in it. When she smiled what was left of her teeth were stained brown and pitted with whatever the dwarf equivalent of tartar was.
"Shall we get down to the important business at hand?" Harrund asked. "Thor, I assume you are to witness the ceremony at the behest of the All Father."
"Ceremony?" Thor asked.
"The marriage ceremony," Harrund said.
"Wait, who is getting married?" Tony asked.
"Well, Dulvina, of course. To that one there," the king said, as he raised his hand and pointed at Steve.
"Whoa, wait, what?" Steve, asked raising his hands. "I'm not marrying anyone."
A look of anger crossed the kings face, and he said, "You took my daughter's honour and now you refuse to wed?"
"Steve, you old dog," Natasha quipped.
"I have no idea what he's talking about," Steve said to Natasha, and then he turned to the king. "I have no idea what you're talking about. This is the first time I've ever seen your daughter."
"Liar!" Harrund shouted. "I saw you in my realm with my own two eyes! Do not dare to lie to me!"
“You’d better marry her, Steve. He looks serious,” Loki said as he skirted from behind Steve, back behind Tony’s shoulder and out of harms way.
Steve tossed Loki a glare over his shoulder, and then turned back to the king. "Honestly, sir. I don't lie. I have no idea what you are talking abou-"
The king held his hand up, cutting Steve off. "I will hear no more of this. You have one day, and then we will be leaving for Nidavellir. If you do not agree to marry my daughter I will wage a war upon you the likes of which this realm have never seen! Now take us to our quarters!"
With the king and his army safely escorted to the St. Regis hotel, the Avengers headed back towards the tower, where Fury was… well, furious.
"How the hell did this happen?" he shouted as he slammed his fist down on the table.
"I have absolutely no idea," Steve said back, "I swear I've never seen either of them before in my life."
"Guys," Clint interrupted, and then he looked at Loki, "I think we all know this is Loki's fault."
"What?" Loki squawked, looking up. "I haven't done anything, I swear."
"Really?" Clint asked. "Who is the only one round this table who could even get to another realm or planet or whatever?"
Tony thought about it for a moment, and then turned his face towards his husband. "Loki? Did you do this?" he asked.
Loki's mouth opened and closed as if trying to find the right words, or lies, and then finally he grimaced and said, "I may have inadvertently caused some offence.”
"I knew it!" Clint shrieked.
“What?" Natasha exclaimed. "How the hell do you start a war between a place and us?”
Loki half turned away, and mumbled, “I was accused of deflowering the king's daughter.”
“You cheated on me?” Tony asked angrily.
Loki turned back and quickly said, “No! No! Absolutely not! I would never do such a thing."
"So what exactly did you do?"
"I was… caught in her room while attempting to steal a powerful magical amulet. They decided I was guilty without even questioning me. You've seen what she looks like, so surely you understand why the accusation is utterly absurd,” Loki said with a shudder.
“OKkkkk… so you didn't cheat on me, but that doesn't explain why the king has a bone to pick with the Avengers since you've made it painfully clear on several occasions that you aren't one of us.”
Loki grimaced again. “I may have been wearing Captain Roger's face at the time.”
“What?” Steve shrieked. “You were me? Why the hell would you do that?”
“Well I could hardly wear my own face! A few months ago Odin told me I was strictly forbidden from visiting any realm, except Asgard or Midgard, and that I was not too old to be put over his knee and spanked like a child!”
“Why would father forbid you from visiting other realms?" Thor asked.
“There may have been an incident with the Jotuns,” Loki mumbled.
"The Jotuns?" Thor asked. "What did you do?"
Loki sighed and said, "Odin had long ago told me I should never enter Jotunheim again and… I may have disobeyed him."
"May have?" Tony asked.
"I may have sneaked in and pissed on a monument dedicated to Laufey."
“Odin put me over his knee and spanked me like a child! Were you not listening?” Loki shouted.
“Wow,” Clint said. “That is one fucked up family dynamic you've got going on there.”
Loki sighed and looked down. "I am sorry. I did not mean this to happen. I did not realise they would be able to follow me back here, but I was injured while trying to flee, and I must have left some trace behind."
"They were the ones who speared you in the chest?" Tony asked, angrily.
"They were," Loki replied quietly.
"Well, I say we go back to Nidavellir with them, and then give them hell," Tony said.
"We are not about to start a war," Steve said.
"They skewered my husband!"
"And it couldn't have happened to a more deserving person," Clint said.
"Clint," Natasha said, with a note of warning in her voice.
"What?" Clint asked. "I'm only saying what most people round this table are thinking. I think I'll go down to that hotel and shake the king's hand."
Before Tony could shout, Thor jumped from his seat, slammed his hands down on the table and cried, "Enough!"
"Guys! Guys!" Steve said, standing up, holding his hands out. "We can't fight amongst ourselves here. We need to come up with a plan… and preferably one that doesn't involved throwing me a bachelor party."
As Thor sat down, Bruce leaned forward and quietly said, "I might have an idea."
"Let's hear it," Steve said, as he too sat back into his seat.
"She's royalty, right?" Bruce said.
"Your point?" Steve asked
"She probably has all fancy manners and stuff, so how about Steve offends her delicate sensibilities?"
"Er, Bruce," Tony said. "I don't know if it's escaped your notice, but Steve isn't exactly the most offensive person."
"Actually that isn't a bad plan," Steve said. "But Tony is right. We need someone really offensive… Sarcastic and rude. Someone who doesn't really care all that much about other peoples feelings and has no issue with stamping all over them."
As Steve spoke all eyes turned towards the figure slumped in a chair next to Tony, sitting with his legs open and admiring his own fingernails.
Steve finished, "And someone who can shape shift to look like other people."
Loki looked up, paused a moment, and said, "Why are you all looking at me, you inbred oafs?"
"Hey, guess what, Loki," Natasha said. "We've got a plan."
"How wonderful for you," Loki replied dryly, as he stifled a yawn. "I'm sure you will explain it to me, even though I am not the least bit interested."
"Oh, you'll love this plan, Loki," Natasha said with a grin.
The plan was this…
The Avengers, plus Loki, who would be shape shifted to look like Steve, would turn up and meet King Harrund and his delightful daughter, and announce that 'Steve' had relented and would in fact marry the princess.
They would go back to Nidavellir, and inevitably Loki would run his mouth off, say some shit to the princess that would make her bawl her eyes out, and she would run to daddy and tell him about the awful Midgardian.
Wedding cancelled. They all go home and have a hot tub party.
That last part might have just been Tony's plan.
"Absolutely not!" Loki shrieked, when the plan was explained to him. "What if she wants sex before the wedding? Have you ever seen what a Dwarf keeps between its legs?"
"Um… I'm gonna say no on that one," Tony replied.
“Have you ever seen nether regions so dirty it looks like they are growing moss?” Loki asked.
“You’ve plainly never been to Nidavellir," Loki replied.
"Look, it's not gonna come to that," Tony said, taking hold of Loki's shoulders. "No one is expecting you to really marry her, and this way, if it does turn into a fight, at least it'll be a fight on their planet and not ours."
"You promise me that?" Loki asked quietly. "I will not be expected to marry her?"
"Absolutely. You just be yourself and the wedding will be off in no time," Tony replied.
"You really think this plan will work," Bruce asked later that evening, as he sat with Tony in the main living room of the tower, nursing a beer.
"It was your plan," Tony pointed out, running his finger over the cold bottle and watching the condensation bead until it formed drips that ran down the side.
"I really didn't think anyone would take it seriously," Bruce replied. "Did Loki agree to it in the end?"
"He wasn't very happy about it, but yup, he's gonna do it."
"Do you think he will be able to offend the Princess enough?"
Tony sighed, and then let out a small laugh. "I think we both know the answer to that one, Bruce."
"And you think he'll be able to stick to the plan?" Bruce asked. "He isn't gonna decide half way though that he wants to be King?"
“I’ll admit Loki is a little… skittish at times,” Tony said with a shrug, "But I think he'll be fine."
“Skittish?” Bruce asked, raising an eyebrow. “That’s not exactly the word I’d use.”
“Flighty?” Tony asked.
“I was thinking more along the lines of ‘insane’” Bruce said. "Have you thought about maybe trying to get him into therapy, now that he's staying here?"
Tony looked up, his brow creasing, and asked, "You think he needs therapy?"
"Well, if you don't think he needs therapy, maybe you need therapy," Bruce said with a smile.
"Maybe I do," Tony said, as he playfully batted Bruce on the arm. "Maybe I do."
Tony drained the last of his beer, and slid off his bar stool. "If you'll excuse me, I'm off to spend some quality time with my husband."
Bruce tipped his bottle in goodbye, and as the elevator doors opened, and he stepped inside, Tony stuck his head back round the door and said, "I totally meant sex there, by the way."
"I never thought anything else," Bruce laughed as the doors slid shut.
"What time is it?" Loki asked, as he laid curled around Tony, the words tickling the tiny hairs on the back of his neck.
"Almost 9.30," Tony replied. "We should get up soon."
Loki let out a whining sound, like a teenager being told to get up for school. He tightened his arms around Tony's waist and said, "I do not wish to leave. Perhaps we should just stay here. If the Dwarves attack then let the realm burn around us."
"As much as I'd love to do that babe, yeah, no. Not gonna happen," Tony said, as he wriggled free of Loki's arms and turned over so they were facing each other.
He brushed a stray lock of hair off Loki's face and kissed his forehead. "Everything is going to be fine."
"That is easy for you to say," Loki huffed. "You aren't the one who might end up balls deep in something that smells like a midden by the end of the day."
"Not going to happen."
"How can you be so sure?" Loki asked.
"I trust you, and I know you can do this," Tony replied, as he pulled Loki to his chest. "Everything is going to be fine, just you wait and see."
The Avengers assembled in the Quinjet hanger near the top of the tower, and as Clint and Natasha ran pre flight checks, Steve turned to Loki and said, "Come on then, lets see your party piece."
"My what?" Loki asked.
"I wanna see how you turn into me."
"Ah, it is a simple illusion," Loki replied. "I will set the spell to continue for three days, which should be ample time to complete our plans."
A green glow flickered across Loki, moving downwards from his head, until Steve was face to face with himself.
"What the hell?" Steve asked, and then he clutched at his throat. "My voice! What happened to my voice?"
"Er, I think you should look down, Cap," Tony replied.
Steve held his hands up and stared at them, and then down at his long black leather Asgardian coat. "I'm you?" he shrieked.
Cap, sorry, Loki… Wow, Tony was having a hard time getting his head round that one. Technically he was now married to Steve, except he wasn't 'cause Loki was Steve and Steve was Loki… or something. So was he married to Loki or Steve and who was he supposed to sleep with tonight?
Especially with a mild hangover.
"Isn't this wonderful?" Cap-who-was-actually-Loki said, as he strutted across the room, and raised his fist. "Why, I feel the sudden urge to fight for liberty and justice. To champion the weak and the poor! To fight for the common man!"
"This is never going to work," Actual-Steve, suddenly announced. "He's nothing like me. I am not that... self righteous."
"I dunno, Cap. Seems bang on to me," Tony said, as a Bald Eagle suddenly appeared on Loki's outstretched arm.
"And why exactly am I you?" Steve asked.
"It might be a bit confusing if there were two Captains," Loki replied, as he petted the bird's head.
"It's not so bad, Steve," Tony said, as he ran his eyes over Loki-who-was-actually-Steve's body, and playfully said, "You look really nice like that."
Steve took a step back and eyed Tony furiously. "Touch me and I'll kill you."
"Oh, you've gotten into character too," Tony laughed.
Natasha appeared at the back hatch of the Quinjet, and said, "We're ready whenever you are."
The Dwarves were already assembled in the street, guarded by dozens of SHIELD agents, when the Quinjet touched down, and the back hatch opened.
The king, who was stood next to Fury, walked over the jet, and as Tony approached, he said, "You will not be needing your vehicle. It is but a short walk from the portal site to the palace."
"We have a lot of luggage," Tony replied.
The king peered inside the Jet and then winced. "Loki, I did not expect you would be travelling among this group."
Tony turned to see Steve, staring straight ahead, and Thor nudged him in the knee.
"Oh… OH!" Steve exclaimed. "I often travel with my brother… verily."
The king sighed, and said, "Thor, I expect you will see that he behaves."
"I will indeed, your highness," Thor replied with a polite nod.
"Very well then, you can bring your vehicle," the king sighed. "I will inform my army that you will be following me into the portal and they should hold their positions until you are through."
Tony walked back up the ramp and pressed the button to close the back hatch.
He turned to Steve and said, "Verily? Really?"
Steve shrugged his shoulders in response.
Nidavellir… Well, it wasn't exactly what Tony had expected. He'd heard Asgard was beautiful, with a tall golden palace surrounded by waterfalls and gardens, but Nidavellir looked like it was still stuck in the middle of the industrial revolution.
Smoke and steam poured from the ground through massive grates that were randomly dotted around the enormous courtyard of a red stone building that was built into a huge craggy rock face. High walls surrounded the courtyard and in the distance Tony could see mountain peaks topped with snow.
The Quinjet had exited the portal next to the palace, and as they walked out of the back hatch they were met by Lord Gimum, who directed them through the massive wooden doors of the building.
"Why do I feel like I've been transported back to the 1800's?" Tony asked, as the walked through the oppressively warm corridors.
"The Dwarves have huge blast furnaces in the ground beneath the palace," Loki pointed out. "It is where they craft their weapons."
"So it's going to be this humid all the time?" Steve asked, pulling uncomfortably at the neck of the thick leather Asgardian outfit.
"Aye," Thor replied. "The forges are in constant use, but our sleeping quarters will have large windows and should be cooler in the evening."
As Gimum lead the way, a small group of Dwarves approached, walking down the long corridor.
As they passed, Loki turned to Tony and said, "You must feel at home here. Finally among people of your own height."
"Oh ha ha. Laugh it up, why don't you?" Tony replied.
Loki smirked, and then turned as he heard a surprised shout from Steve behind him.
"That guy just spit on me!" Steve shrieked, pointing at one of the Dwarves who was trotting away down the corridor.
“Oh, I'm sorry," Loki said quietly, as he drew alongside him. "The Dwarves don’t like me very much. Did I not tell you that?”
"No you didn't!" Steve exclaimed. "If you knew they don't like you, why did you make me look like you?"
Loki grinned, and said, "Just a little fun, to make the time that we must spend on this wretched world pass more quickly."
Gimum came to stop outside a large set of doors. "Lady Romanoff, these will be your quarters. A hand maiden awaits you inside. The king would like you all to attend a feast tonight, so she will furnish you with appropriate attire."
"I've… never had a servant before, but here goes," Natasha replied.
"You and your companions have been furnished with adjoining suites, so you need not worry about feeling lonely," Gimum said.
Natasha pushed open the large door, and said, "See you at dinner, guys."
At the next set of doors they paused again. "Mister Barton and Mister Banner, this is your suite. You both have separate bedrooms, but I trust you do not mind sharing?"
"Fine by me," Bruce said with a shrug.
"Just don't hog the bathroom and we'll be fine," Clint said, as he pushed the doors open.
At the next door Gimum turned to Tony and Steve. "Now, this is a rather strange and delicate matter, but I understand you are a married couple?"
"We are?" Steve asked, and Tony coughed. "Yes, we are."
Gimum cast a glance at Steve, and then said to Tony, "You seem like an intelligent man, Mr Stark, so I cannot understand how you ended up with this one."
"Hey, hey," Tony objected. "Don't insult my husband!"
"I apologise," Gimum said stiltedly. "As you are married, it is only appropriate that you share a room, no matter how distasteful we find it. These will be your quarters, and Thor, you and Captain Rogers will unfortunately have to share for tonight."
"Oh…" Tony mumbled, casting a sidelong glance at Steve, who looked equally unimpressed. He turned to Thor and Loki, and said, "I guess we'll see you guys later."
Steve opened the door and walked inside. Tony followed him and looked around the impressive room as Steve opened the other doors, before finally turning with a shocked look on his face.
"What's up?" Tony asked.
"There's only one bedroom."
"Not a big deal," Tony replied. "Or do you snore?"
"There's only one bed," Steve said.
Tony gasped mockingly, and said, "Oh noooo, and I didn't pack pyjamas."
Tony had an enjoyable evening watching Steve being all nervous about being in Loki's body, and could barely stop himself laughing as the Captain sat, looking increasingly uncomfortable.
"What's up with you?" Tony had asked, as Steve crossed and uncrossed his legs for the third time.
"I need the bathroom," he replied.
"It's right there," Tony replied, pointing towards the extravagant chamber.
Steve sighed and said, "I don't want to pee with another man's… you know. I respect Loki's privacy."
"Privacy?" Tony asked. "Most of the world saw him half naked during that last attack on the tower, so I'm pretty sure he won't mind."
"It just creeps me out is all."
"Steve, I'm pretty sure Loki is in the other room now having the time of his life in your body, so go pee."
"Oh thanks," Steve replied. "That's really helpful."
Steve eventually peed an hour later.
And then a knock at the door came and servant announced the feast would begin shortly and he would escort them to the banqueting hall, which cheered Tony up because he would get to see Loki, and upset Steve because he would get to see Loki.
When they arrived at the banqueting hall Loki was already there, sat next to the Princess, and looking thoroughly miserable. Tony was desperate to sit next to him, but was disappointed to find himself two chairs away, with Steve and Thor between them.
"So, my friends, what do you think of our marvellous palace?" Harrund asked as the meal was served from giant platters, heaped with steaming piles of sliced meats.
"It's amazing," Bruce answered. "I'd love a chance to see your forges while we're here. Thor told us a lot about them."
"I shall arrange it for after the wedding," Harrund said. "I suppose you would like to accompany him on this tour, Stark? I have heard you are quite the craftsmen yourself."
"I'd love to," Tony replied, and then out of the corner of his eye he saw Loki jump, and the princess giggled, one hand beneath the table.
Tony's blood boiled at the thought of the princess's no doubt filthy hands all over his fastidiously clean husband, and he wanted to jump up and drag her away, but before he could stand, Loki took hold of her hand and placed it back on the table, as he said, "Now, now, dear. We must wait till after the wedding."
"Of course, my love," Dulvina said, and she smiled brightly.
Loki looked aghast for a second, and then said, "My goodness. I have heard that Dwarves are renowned around all the realms for the inventions and craftsman ship, but it appears you have not mastered the simple art of creating a toothbrush?"
Tony grinned. This was it. The plan was going to work, but then the princess leaned back in her seat and let out a loud laugh.
WHAT. THE. HELL.
"Oh, Captain Rogers," she said, "You are most amusing."
Loki turned his head and looked down the table, his eyes wide and his mouth open, and Tony could do nothing but stare back, equally shocked.
Loki turned back, smiled at the princess nervously and said, "It is wonderful that you find me amusing, princess. I assume that means I will have to put up with hearing you laugh like a ridiculous braying ass for the rest of our long marriage."
The princess threw her head back again and laughed, then snaked her hand down beneath the table.
Loki let out an indignant squeak and shot up out of his chair, the legs screeching as they moved across the hard stone flooring. "If you'll excuse me, your highness, I'm suddenly feeling a little unwell."
As Loki scuttled from the hall with his hand over his mouth, the king looked at the Avengers and asked, "Is Captain Rogers ill?"
"Probably just pre-wedding nerves," Tony said, as he stood. "I'll go check on him."
It didn't take Tony long to track Loki down, and he found him sitting in one of the bedrooms of the suite he was sharing with Thor, with his head in his hands.
"Hey, are you OK?" Tony asked as he edged into the room.
"Of course I'm not OK," Loki shrieked. "That woman put her filthy hands on me. Did you see them? You could have grown potatoes in the dirt under her fingernails!"
"Shhhhhh," Tony hushed as he placed his hands on Loki's shoulders and started kneading the tight flesh. "Everything will be OK."
"How can you say that?" Loki shouted, elbowing Tony away. "You saw her. I insulted her twice and she found it amusing." Loki paced the room wildly for a moment, and then turned, pointing a finger at Tony. "This is all Banner's fault. This ridiculous plan was his idea. I'm going to kill him."
"Loki, you know you can't kill the Hulk."
"Well at the very least he is getting set on fire at the first opportunity," he snapped, then he raised a finger to his chin. "Perhaps I can push him into one of the forges. I doubt even the Hulk could survive being coated in molten Uru."
"Can we please not kill Bruce," Tony said, and when he saw the look of fury on Loki's face he raised his hands and said, "Just for now."
Loki's face crumpled from anger to frustration as he started brushing his hands frantically down the front of his trousers. "I can still feel that vile woman's hands all over me."
Tony held his hand out. "Come on, come sit back down here."
Loki hesitated for a moment and then took Tony's hand, allowing himself to be guided to the bed. "Do you have something in mind to make me feel better?" he practically purred.
"Well, I was kinda thinking we could share a bath, but if you have other ideas then may-"
Loki interrupted him, placing a finger to Tony's lips, and said, "Shut up, Stark, and take off your trousers."
"You're leaving this on?" Tony had asked, when Loki had transformed back to his own body, but left the Captain America uniform on.
"I'm rather fond of it," Loki nodded as he pulled Tony on top of him. "Don't you think it suits me?"
"It's a bit tight," Tony said as he moved down between Loki's legs. "Clingy… It makes me want to eat your skinny little chicken legs."
Loki let out a shrieking laugh as Tony playfully sank his teeth into his inner thigh.
So they went for it, mindful that anyone could walk in at any time and oh no the plan would be blown and they'd probably end up with their heads chopped off, but it seemed a chance worth taking for a quickie.
They certainly hadn't planned to be interrupted by the high-pitched shrieks that Thor and Steve let out.
"Why are you in my suit?" Steve shouted.
"Why are you in my bed?" Thor shouted.
"Do you mind?" Loki screeched, as he pushed Tony's head away from his crotch and dragged the thin sheet over himself. "I'm trying to get my cock sucked here and you are ruining it."
"Not exactly great timing, guys," Tony coughed as he wiped his mouth.
"You left the door unlocked. Anyone could have walked in here," Steve pointed out. "What if someone saw you and realised there were two of us?"
Loki rolled his eyes and waved his hand. "The Dwarves know of my magical powers and know I am quite capable of casting shades of myself. They would not have been in the least bit surprised to find two of me in the palace."
"And why are you doing it in my bed when you have your own room next door?" Thor asked, exasperatedly.
"I just can't have anything nice for myself, can I?" Loki grumbled as he tucked himself away and then climbed out of the bed. "There you go, Thor. I hope you sleep well while I lay next door, suffering from blue balls!"
Loki stormed out of the room, slamming the door loudly, and Steve turned to Tony and said, "We should get some sleep. The king wants to meet us all for breakfast, since you two left dinner."
"OK," Tony sighed, as he picked up his trousers and allowed Steve to steer him out of the room.
Breakfast was a reasonably peaceful affair, although slightly awkward since Steve was in a pissy mood with Tony because he had woken up to find him spooning his back with an arm tight around his waist and his crotch uncomfortably close to his ass.
"I should have guessed it really," Tony said. "A guy from the 40's is obviously going to be so homophobic that he'll misconstrue a little a snuggling."
"I'm not homophobic… I'm Tonyphobic," Steve had shouted back. "And you had a hard on!"
To break the silence the king cleared his throat and said, "I have excellent news. The plans are complete and the wedding will be held tomorrow morning."
"Tomorrow?" Loki & Tony both shrieked at the same time.
"Why so soon?" Thor asked.
"Why not?" the king asked. "I am sure you all have busy lives to get back to, and Captain Rogers is not getting any younger."
"But surely there are still plans to be made?" Loki asked desperately. "You cannot have planned a whole wedding in a matter of hours."
"Good Captain," the king scowled. "Plans have been underway since the moment you scuttled off through that portal, pursued by the palace guards. Tomorrow is the date of the wedding and you will attend."
"You promised me!" Loki shrieked, the moment they arrived back at their rooms. "You promised me I would not have to marry her, and look what is happening!"
"Calm down, OK," Tony said, as he ran his hands down Loki's upper arms. "You just haven't spent enough time with the princess to properly piss her off yet."
"What do you expect? Every time I go near her she starts pawing at me in a thoroughly disgusting fashion!"
"Look, why don't we have one last crack at it. We'll invite her for a nice little walk and you can really go to town on the insults, OK?"
"I am not going anywhere alone with that woman! She will likely drag me off into a dark alley and attempt to have her way with me!"
"I'll drag Steve along for protection. What could be more natural than two couples enjoying the morning sunshine?"
Loki sighed, and said, "Very well then, send the invitation, but if she touches me even once you will wish you had never been born, Stark."
"Isn't this lovely?" Tony asked, as they strolled through the palace gardens, enjoying the scents of the blossoming flowers. "Just two couples enjoying the morning sunshine."
"My step mother will be happy to hear that, Anthony, she toiled long and hard over the plans for this garden," Dulvina said, as she walked along beside Loki, and then snaked her hand down until she caught her hand in his and squeezed it gently.
"Oh, my dear," Loki replied as he lifted her hand. "Your hands are so calloused and pitted with dirt that anyone would think you planted these trees yourself and then did not wash them."
Dulvina smiled and said, "Oh, Captain, these trees have been here a hundred years."
"That was my point," Loki replied.
The princess pushed Loki in the chest playfully, and said, "I am so happy that my future husband has such a good sense of humour. I could not bear to stuck with a frightful dullard."
Loki paused in his stride, and replied, "Oh yes, but it is such a shame that I will not be afforded the same privilege."
Tony was shocked when the princess laughed and pushed Loki playfully once more. He turned to Steve, and quietly said, "This plan isn't going to work."
"Give him more time," Steve whispered.
Tony stopped and grabbed Steve by the arm. "It isn't working. We need a plan B."
"And what's that? Fight our way out?" Steve asked. "You've seen the Dwarves and their weapons. We wouldn't stand a chance."
"So we wait till dark, we load up the jet and we high tail it out of Dodge."
"You don't think they won't follow us right back to Earth?" Steve hissed. "Loki caused this problem and now it's up to him to cure it."
"And what if he ends up married to her? You think it's fair that he has to put up with her touching him all the time? Would you put up with that if it was Natasha who was getting pawed against her will?"
"Of course not," Steve snapped back.
"So why is it OK that it's happening to Loki?"
Steve pursed his lips and raised his hand to his brow for a moment. "Tony, I know it's wrong, but Loki caused this. What do you think will happen if we go back home and the Dwarves follow us?"
"We'll kick their asses all the way back here," Tony said defiantly.
"And say we do win yet another war caused by Loki. What will happen then?"
Tony took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Fury will want his head on a pike."
"Not just Fury. The public still hasn't forgotten what he did in New York with the Chitauri. All that good will he built up by helping us defeat Ultimo, and by helping us rescue the survivors on the Hellicarrier? That will be gone, and you won't be able to protect him."
Tony sighed. "I know, I know. You're right… But what the hell are we going to do Cap?"
"I honestly don't know, Tony, but we have to make sure Earth stays out of this at all costs."
Tony looked around for a second, and said, "Wait, where are they?"
"They were over by the trees just a minute ago," Steve replied, looking around.
"Loki?" Tony shouted, and then Steve elbowed him in the ribs. "I mean, Steve?"
"Over here," a muffled shout came, from just behind the tree line.
Tony ran as fast as he could towards the trees, following the sound of Loki's voice, when he finally spotted them.
Loki was pressed up against a tree, his hands wrapped tightly around the wrists of the princess, restraining her as she attempted to undo the zip of his uniform.
Tony grabbed her by the shoulder, pulling her roughly away, as he shouted, “Hey, get your hands off my.... Captain.”
“What are you doing, you commoner,” Dulvina asked. “You dare to lay hands upon a princess?”
“Tony, Tony, don't,” Steve said, as he arrived beside him.
“I-I was just protecting your honour,” Tony said, stumbling over his words.
“My honour?” the Princess asked, and then she covered her mouth primly, and giggled. “I can assure you that my honour was long since lost, despite what my father thinks.”
“I wasn't talking to you,” Tony said.
The princess gasped, and looked at Loki. “Good captain. You mean to say you have kept your honour for your true love and know not the touch of another?”
Loki was red faced, his back pressed tightly against the tree as if he feared she still might pounce upon him at any minute. “I-I long ago took a vow to save myself for marriage. So that my first experience could be with my true love.”
“Say no more, my precious Captain,” She said, as she patted him gently on the chest. “I shall help you keep that vow. I shall not lay my hands upon you again.”
Loki breathed a visible sigh of relief, then straightened up, pulling his uniform down. “I thank you, my lady.”
Dulvina began to stroll back towards the palace, then paused, looked back over her shoulder and said, “Of course, after the wedding, you are all mine, and I promise you it will be a night to remember.”
As the princess walked away, Steve turned to Tony, and said, “I'm not untouched.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “After your performance this morning you could have fooled me.”
“But I'm not untouched,” Steve said, as Tony and Loki began to walk away, and he shouted after them, “Tony, I swear I've been touched!”
The king announced that the final night before the big wedding there would be a lavish banquet held in the feasting hall, and all were required to attend.
As Tony pulled on his shirt, smoothing out the wrinkles, and then buttoning it up, he turned to a despondent Loki, who was sat on the bed with his knees tucked up to his chest.
“Do you wanna try insulting me?” Tony asked. “Perhaps a few jibes about my hair or my height?”
“Why?” Loki asked sullenly, not looking up.
“Flex the old sarcasm muscles,” Tony said, as he slipped a tie around his neck. “Get in shape to give that princess the roasting of her life.”
“What would be the point?”
Tony sighed, sat on the bed, and placed his hand on the back of Loki's neck. “I know you're upset, but this is your last chance to upset her. If you're all mopey and miserable you aren't gonna be able to come up with the choice jibes I know you are capable of.”
“I am capable of nothing,” Loki stated flatly.
“Ah, come on,” Tony said. “You are the only person I know who has actually made Fury cry. Like really cry.”
Loki stifled a snort and said, “That was an amusing day.”
“So you see?” Tony asked as he ran his fingers through Loki's hair. “Anyone who is capable of making Fury cry out of his eye patch can piss off a princess. Just do your best and you can't fail.”
Loki turned his head and smiled gently as Tony wrapped his arm around his shoulders and pulled him into a hug.
“Thank you,” Loki whispered, as he wrapped his arms around Tony's chest and buried his face into his side.
Tony stooped to kiss the top of Loki's head, and said, “When all this is over, when we triumphantly ride back through that portal, me and you are going camping, and we are not coming home till every animal in that forest has watched us getting it on.”
Loki laughed against Tony's shirt, and said, “I like that plan.”
“Nothing can go wrong, babe. Me and you are gonna give those raccoons a hell of a show.”
Except, of course, in the world of Tony Stark things can and usually do go wrong in spectacular clusterfuck fashion, and this was to be no different.
Whether it was getting blown up with his own bomb, being betrayed by his mentor, or being poisoned by the very equipment that was supposed to be saving his life, Tony sometimes wondered what the universe had against him. A lot, it seemed. Perhaps he had fucked the universe's husband or wife in a past life? That had to be it. It could be the only reason why everything kept going wrong in such an impressive way.
Tony had promised Loki that everything would be fine. Tony had promised Loki that he wouldn't end up married a woman who smelled like her hobby was rolling around in a cat litter tray.
Yeah, he was wrong. Loki was so getting married.
They had gone to the feasting hall and been shown to their seats by the palace servants, and as they waited for the royal family to arrive they chatted amongst themselves, drinking sweet red wine.
Some twenty minutes later, arriving fashionably late, the trumpets blared and everything went to shit.
“Your Lords and Ladies,” Gimum announced, “Please bid you welcome, King Harrund, his beloved daughter, Princess Dulvina, and the Queen of Nidavellir, Ylva of the Vanir.”
“No!” both Loki and Thor exclaimed at the same time.
“What is it?” Tony asked, as Loki drew in a sharp breath and looked down at the table.
“Queen Ylva is well known to us,” Thor said solemnly. “She is part of the Hlatr tribe in the north of Vanaheim.”
“And?” Tony asked. “What's so wrong with that?”
“The Hlatr tribe are famed for their sarcasm and their biting tongue. We have only ever visited there once. The trip did not end well.”
“What happened?” Steve asked.
Loki suddenly raised his head, and angrily whispered, “I was as you say on Midgard, 'fighting them off with a stick!'”
“What?” Tony asked.
“They loved me, Tony. Apparently they thought I was hilarious, and 17 young women came to blows in the street as they fought over who would have the right to court me!”
“Wait, so your inability to open your mouth and not have a whole bunch of insults come out of it makes you a total catch there?”
“Apparently so,” Loki spat. “And if Ylva has brought Dulvina up in such a fashion, then there is no wonder that she cannot keep her dirty hands off me!”
“Oh my god,” Tony gasped. “The plan isn't going to work.”
“No,” Loki said. “The plan isn't going to work. I am going to have to marry that foul woman, and YOU!” Loki pointed at Bruce. “You had better prepare yourself for an extremely close up view of the forge!”
“Hey, I just came up with the stupid plan,” Bruce said, holding his hands up. “I honestly thought Steve or Tony would come up with something better.”
“Is it really that bad?” Tony asked asked Thor.
Thor paused a moment, and then said, “I believe it would be better if I slept in Bruce's room for the foreseeable future. Just to be on the safe side.”
As the Princess sat at his side, Loki smiled weakly at her, and remained uncharacteristically silent for the rest of the evening.
It was some time in the early morning when Tony was disturbed from his pacing around the room, trying to come up with a new plan, by a knocking at his door. He hoped it was Loki, who had refused to speak to him after the feast, but instead he found Clint waiting out in the corridor.
“You need to come with me,” Clint said. “We've got a problem.”
"Oh no…" Tony groaned when he was lead to a prison cell and saw Loki sitting on the floor, close to the barred door. "What happened?"
"I attempted to leave, but obviously I was not very successful at it," Loki sniffed. "At least they did not attempt to skewer me this time, so I suppose that is a step in the right direction."
Tony sat down, cross legged in front of the cell door, and said, “So you just ran away?”
“What else was I supposed to do?” Loki asked. “I am going to be forcibly wed tomorrow. By this time in the evening she will likely have me tied to her bed with Uru chains!”
"But even if the ceremony happens it won't be legal cause you are already married to me," Tony pointed out, and then he noted the way Loki's face fell. Something definitely wasn't right here. "There's something you aren't telling me."
Loki hesitated, his lips going taut as contemplated his words, and finally he said, "I fear you will leave me if I speak the truth."
"Hey, come on, show me your real face, and let me talk to you properly," Tony said softy. “There's just you and me here, and I can't have this conversation with you looking like Steve.”
Loki paused for a moment, and said, “Very well then,” and allowed the illusion to fall.
“That's more like it,” Tony said, then he quietly asked, “I'm not going anywhere, Loki. Why do you think I'll leave you?”
Loki dropped his head into his hands, and in a muffled voice said, "Because our marriage is a sham and you will never forgive me."
"Hey, hey," Tony said, snaking his hand between the bars and running a hand over Loki's shoulder. "I already know you tricked me into it and I don't care. I love you."
"We didn't have sex on our wedding night," Loki suddenly announced, as he looked up. "I lied to you when you asked me if it was consummated. I didn't want to have sex while you were that drunk, frankly it would have been a waste of time anyway, so we just kissed until you passed out."
"Okayyyyy," Tony said. "So in the grand scheme of things that doesn't really matte-"
"No, no it gets worse," Loki interrupted. "The paperwork is not real. I created it myself, and the wedding photo using magic. Tony, we aren't even married."
Tony sat back, pulling his hand out of cell. "What?"
"I made it all up. There was no ceremony. We never even left the hotel room. We aren't married, and now you will leave me," Loki said, slumping forward with his head in his hands as he started to cry, and then he sobbed, "And now my first marriage will be to a-a-a Dwarf."
Tony pushed his hand back through the bars again and grabbed Loki's shoulder. "Hey, hey, listen to me. None of that matters. I love you and I'm not going to leave. Hell, when we get back to New York we'll have the biggest, most lavish wedding the city has ever seen, and we'll take every single magazine deal we are offered."
Loki looked up, his eyes red and his nose running. Yup that was proper crying, not his usual fake shit, and then he asked, "You would do that for me? You would marry me again?"
"Yup, so if you play your cards right maybe your second marriage will be to a dwarf too."
Loki let out a soft laugh, as Tony ran a hand through his hair and said, "There ya go, there's my favourite space Viking. You know you're real pretty when you smile. Not so much when you cry… With all the snot, and the red nose."
Loki let out a laugh again, and rested his forehead against the bars near Tony's shoulders. "What are we going to do? Tomorrow, I mean."
"I dunno, Loki." Tony sighed. "I really don't know."
Sorry for the lack of replies to comments, and the length of time it has taken me to post this chapter, but I've been incredibly busy this week!
Something happens in this chapter that I didn't tag, because spoilers and also because the problem is cleared up by the end of the chapter. If you are at all worried I've mentioned it in the end notes, so scroll down and have a look :-)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony had come up with a dozen or so plans during the night, most of which ended with him bombing the palace from the air, and all of them were vetoed by Steve, who continually kept spouting phrases like, “International incident, Tony! Or realm, whatever. But incident, Tony!” or “What if they attack Earth, Tony!” and various other stupid reasons.
“Maybe I could kill all the Dwarves?” Tony had asked desperately. “If I kill them all they couldn't attack Earth.”
“You can't kill an entire race,” Thor had interrupted.
“I bet I could,” Tony replied.
“That was not a challenge,” Thor said.
“Well then YOU think of something,” Tony shouted. “Your little brother is going to be forced into a marriage in the next few hours if you don't come up with a plan, because it seems like none of mine are good enough!”
“Stark,” Thor said solemnly. “I hate this situation as much as you, but there is no way to even reach Loki without violence before the ceremony begins. Once it is over we need not leave immediately. King Harrund is a generous host, and he would be happy for us to stay, once his daughter's honour has been restored. After the wedding we will have time to think, and we will find a way to rescue Loki.”
“You do realise what your condemning him too, right?” Tony asked. “If he gets married today that woman is going to be all over him without his consent.”
“I am aware of that yes, but Loki has his tricks, and I know that he will be able to keep himself safe from her touch.”
“You better hope he can, Thor,” Tony said, jabbing a finger into his chest. “'Cause if anything happens to Loki the Dwarves might end up on the endangered species list.”
Tony had stormed off after his confrontation with Thor, and headed back to his room, where he dug a bottle of Scotch out of his suitcase.
As he sat on his bed, glaring at the suit he had to put on soon, he drank glass after glass of the burning alcohol, trying to dull the feeling of terror that was building in his chest.
He wouldn't be able to see Loki before the ceremony as the Dwarves were too fearful that he may attempt to run away again, and were keeping him locked away. He wouldn't be able to tell Loki that he loved him, and he wished there was some way out of this, but not to give up hope.
“I'm sorry, Loki,” Tony said to the air, hoping somehow that his husband could hear him through some magical means. “I've let you down.”
Tony stilled, emptying his mind, hoping that he would hear a reply, but there was only silence in the room, and the distant cheers of revellers who had gathered in the town square, eager to catch a glimpse of their new prince.
Tony pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes and tried to quell the tears that threatened to spill, and then there was a gentle tapping at the door.
“Tony,” Natasha said, as she slowly pushed the door open. “I'm coming in. You better be wearing pants.”
Tony wiped his face, and smiled widely as she stepped into the room, and said, “Don't you think you should be getting dressed? The ceremony starts in half an hour.”
Panic suddenly gripped him, and his face crumpled as he said, “I'm not going. I can't face it.”
“Hey, hey,” Natasha said, as she crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed next to him. “I know this is hard for you, but it's going to be ten times harder for Loki.”
“I can't watch him get married,” Tony said said, shaking his head. “I've let him down. I'm supposed to fix things, and I couldn't fix this.”
“Have you thought how he will feel if you aren't there to support him?” Natasha asked.
Tony sighed. “You're right. I know, I know.”
“Get dressed. I'll wait outside for you,” Natasha said softly.
When Tony reached his front row seat in the grand hall he suddenly began to wish he'd drank more than just a few glasses of Scotch, and as the trumpets sounded to mark the start of the ceremony he felt like his heart was about to leap out of his chest.
The crowd cheered loudly as the royal family appeared at the front of the hall, bowing and waving to the crowd, and finally Loki was ushered in from a side door.
“Oh noooo...” Tony whined, as Loki walked dejectedly across the hall, flanked by two guards who carried large broadswords. Tony hoped that he would turn, and he could catch his eye, to show him how much he hated this too, but Loki kept his head bowed and his gaze fixed on the floor.
A man in fine robes appeared at the front of the hall, and turned to the crowd to speak.
“My friends, what a joyous occasion this is for all of Nidavellir,” he began. “I have known Princess Dulvina since she was just a babe in arms, and I am overjoyed to be here, officiating at the day of her marriage.”
The man turned to the royal family, and said, “If I may be joined by the happy couple.”
The princess skipped across the floor towards the robed man, clearly overjoyed by the prospect of finally being wed, and Loki was ushered towards her by the two guards.
“Princess Dulvina of Nidavellir, do you consent to marry Steven of Midgard?”
“I do, I do,” she giggled, and the crowd cheered in joy.
The man turned to Loki, and asked, “And you, Steven of Midgard. Do you consent to marry the beautiful Princess Dulvina of Nidavellir? Do you promise to love her, cherish her and provide her with heirs to carry on our royal line?”
Sex, Tony thought. They were talking about sex. Loki was fully expected to baby up that princess, and not just once. They wanted a gaggle kids. When he thought about that woman’s hands all over Loki, all over his beautiful, perfect pale skin, he wanted to throw up.
He watched as Loki turned his head slightly towards the crowd, and Tony desperately tried to make eye contact, but then Loki turned back quickly and said, “No.”
“No?” the man asked.
“I said NO!” Loki repeated loudly.
“Did he just refuse to marry her?” Tony asked, grabbing Steve's arm in excitement.
“Shit!” Steve said.
“No, really,” Tony asked. “Did he just say no?”
“You understand the consequences of your refusal?” the priest asked.
“I do,” Loki replied.
“Wait, what?” Tony asked as Loki turned and bowed. “What consequences?”
One of the soldiers stepped forward and drew his sword, swiftly swinging it round in a perfect arc, and before the scream could even leave Tony’s lungs Loki’s head fell one way and his body the other.
Tony couldn't breathe. He felt hands roughly pull him to his feet and begin marching him away, dragging him through the great hall. All around him there were screams and shouts of anger, but even though his eyes were open, all he could see was the image of the sword heading towards Loki's neck.
“Not far now,” Tony thought he heard Thor say.
Was it Thor who had him by the shoulders? Was it Thor who was taking him somewhere? If it was Thor why wasn't he roaring with anger and swinging that god damn hammer into the faces of the guards who had killed Loki?
The guards had killed Loki... Loki was dead?
“No, no, I have to go back,” Tony said, trying to squirm out of Thor's grasp. “I have to see Loki.”
“Stark, no,” Thor said, gathering Tony back into a strong grip.
There was a whine of hydraulics, and Tony was being marched up a ramp, and then pushed down into a seat, but he still couldn't quite figure out what was going on.
Thor knelt down in front of Tony and said, “Stark, do you know where we are?”
Tony looked round. “We're in the Quinjet. Why are we in the Quinjet?”
“Bruce and Natasha have gone to collect our belongings. When they return we will leave for Midgard,” Thor said.
“We're leaving?” Tony asked. “But what about Loki? We can't leave him here.”
“Clint and Steve has gone to arrange for him to be brought here.”
Tony kept seeing the image of the sword in his mind, but his heart couldn't quite process what he was feeling. “Is he... Is Loki really...”
“I am sorry Tony, but yes, Loki is dead,” Thor replied quietly.
Tony knew he should be screaming, or weeping and wailing, or doing whatever the hell it was that grieving people usually did. He should be throwing himself to the floor and beating it with his fists and screaming, “Why? Why? Why?” over and over again, but instead he felt... numb. He felt like a crack had opened up in the world and sucked out every last bit of feeling he had left, and he wondered how long it would be before it finally sucked him into the blackness too.
For an hour Tony sat in silence, contemplating the fact that Loki was gone, before the hatch of the Quinjet began to open, and revealed Steve and Clint, carrying a long stretcher between them.
They walked up the ramp, and gently placed the stretcher on the floor, and Tony let out a quite a sob, as he realised it was Loki's body, loosely wrapped in black silk.
“I'm sorry, Tony.” Steve, who still looked like Loki, said. “None of us wanted it to end like this.”
“Steve, can you turn around, or go sit up front or something?” Tony asked, as tears finally spilled over, and rolled down his cheeks. “I'm having a really hard time seeing you look like that right now.”
“Sorry,” Steve replied. “Of course I can.”
“I know you probably won't believe me,” Clint said, “But I'm sorry for your loss.”
Tony looked up at him, and said, “You're right. I don't believe you.”
“Have Bruce and Natasha sent word yet?” Thor asked. “I would like to leave this wretched realm as soon as possible.”
“Actually we're here now,” Natasha said, as she walked up the ramp of the Quinjet, followed by Bruce, and a dozen Dwarves who were all carrying luggage.
As the cases were safely stored, Bruce sat next to Tony, who could not take his eyes off the black wrapped body in front of him.
“How are you holding up,” Bruce asked him.
“Oh, ya know,” Tony replied. “My husband just died, so I'm alone now, and I don't think there's enough alcohol in the world that can cure this problem.”
“You know we'll all be here to support you through this,” Natasha said, as she closed the back hatch of the Quinjet.
Tony scrubbed his hands across his wet face, and said, “Can we go please?”
Through the front window of the Quinjet Tony saw pink sparks begin to flash, and finally the portal opened before them.
Clint started the engines, and manoeuvred the Quinjet towards the bright light. In seconds the pink faded, and Tony found himself staring at the New York skyline, and saw the tower on the horizon.
Home. They were almost home, although it would never quite feel like that again without Loki, and instead of planning a wedding, he was going home to plan a funeral.
“Are we back in Midgard yet?” Loki asked, as he drew the black silk back from his face, his own face, which no longer looked like Steve. “It is stifling under this sheet.”
“Oh my god!” Tony shouted, as he threw himself onto his knees by his side, and the Avengers looked at each other in shock. “You're alive!”
“Brother! You live!” Thor shouted jubilantly.
“He's what?” Steve, shouted from the cockpit, and then he looked at down at himself, and said, “Hey, I'm me again!”
“There is no need to maintain the spell now that my plan has been accomplished,” Loki replied.
“Wait, so that was an illusion?” Tony asked. “You weren't really decapitated?”
“Oh, no,” Loki said, as his body sat up, and his head remained laid on the black sheet. “That really did happen.”
“Argh!” Tony screamed, as Loki's body twisted to its side.
“Can someone provide me with a little assistance?” Loki asked, as his hands fumbled across the black silk.
The Avengers looked at each other, and Natasha said, “Don't look at me. He's your husband. You hand him his severed head.”
Tony leaned over, and used one fingertip to gently prod Loki's head towards his waiting hands.
“Thank you, darling,” Loki said, as he picked his head up, stood up, and tucked it under his arm.
“I knew you would come up with a plan, brother,” Thor said with a grin, as he pulled Loki into an tight hug.
“Well, it would have been insanity to go in there without a back up plan,” Loki's head said, from its position somewhere around Thor's side.
“You had this planned all along?” Natasha snapped angrily. “Why the hell didn't you tell anyone? You nearly gave Tony a heart attack.”
“If I'd told you then the plan never would have worked. The reaction had to be real, or the Dwarves would have suspected it was a ruse.”
“We could have acted shocked,” Natasha said.
“Really?” Loki asked, and then he turned. “Tony, dear… Can you act sad for me?”
Tony stuck out his bottom lip, and went, “Awwwww.”
“And now you see why,” Loki said, holding out his free hand.
“Ah,” Natasha replied. “Kinda see your point now.”
The Quinjet touched down at the tower, and Clint turned round in his seat. He ran his eyes up and down Loki, then muttered, “I'm not even gonna ask.”
Loki sat on the bed in the medical bay, with Tony and Bruce either side of him, and his head tucked under his arm still.
"How is this even physically possible?" Bruce asked.
"Oh, so now you are concerned with..." Loki put his head down in his own lap, as he raised his hands and air quoted around his next two words, "physically possible," and then picked up his head again before continuing, "In a world where gods and green monsters appear?"
“Is it magic?” Bruce asked.
“I really have no idea,” Loki replied. “But this isn't the first time I've survived decapitation though, so I wouldn't worry about it.”
"Aren't you in pain?" Bruce asked as he dragged his fingers across the lightly seeping neck stump of Loki's body.
"Pain?" Loki asked, and then his legs began to shiver and he let out a shriek. "Stop it!"
"Did that hurt?"
"No, but when you start prodding my spinal cord it tickles in the most alarming way."
“So, how do we fix this?” Tony asked.
“Fix it?” Loki asked. “Why are you in such a rush to fix it?”
“Well, your heads kinda off, and it looks a bit icky...” Tony mumbled,
“Yes, but imagine all the wonderful new sex acts we will be able to get up to now,” Loki said. “You will be able to take me from behind and hold my head so I can su-”
“Must you have that conversation now?” Bruce interrupted.
“I dunno, Bruce, I think I'm kinda getting on board with the plan here,” Tony said with a grin.
“Ugh,” Bruce groaned. “I'm going to go unpack.”
As Bruce left the room Loki let out a snorting laugh, and Tony said, “Hey, can you put your head back where it should be just for a second?”
“Of course, Loki said, as he raised his hands and placed his head back on the stump, holding it firmly by the sides so it wouldn't slip off. “Why do you want it back on?”
“Because I'm going to hug the ever loving shit out of you,” Tony said, as he flung his arms around Loki, and tucked his face into Loki's neck. “I just didn't want your stump seeping all over me.”
Loki let out a long sigh and said, “I've missed you, Tony.”
“Don't ever pull this shit on me again, Loki,” Tony said, as he gently rocked them from side to side. “And you better hurry up and plan that wedding, because I am never, ever letting you go again.”
Temporary major character death. Come on, it's Loki. You saw that coming :-P
It had been a week since the team had returned from Nidavellir, and Tony had never felt happier, even though Loki seemed adamant he was not going to reattach his head any time soon, despite everyone begging him.
“It's creepy,” Steve complained.
“I keep finding blood everywhere,” Clint complained.
“Yes, but if I reattached it, it would make peeping round corners much more difficult,” Loki pointed out.
One evening Tony proposed a meal to celebrate the fact that they had saved the Earth (from something Loki caused) yet again, and he hired one of New York's top chefs to come to the tower and cook for them all.
The whole team sat round a huge dinner table in the main room of the tower, dressed to the nines in expensive clothes, as delectable dishes were served to them by tuxedo wearing waiters.
Tony had talked Loki into taping his head back on for the evening, but during the second course he coughed, and held his hand to his mouth.
“Sorry, wrong pipe,” Loki said, as he raised his hands to the side of his head, and realigned it slightly.
“That's disgusting,” Clint muttered.
“Excuse me, what was that, Clint?” Loki asked, and he leaned forward to look down the table.
There was a sound of surgical tape tearing, and Thor let out a shrill screech as Loki's head slid off his stump and landed in the salad bowl.
“Thank you, darling,” Loki said, as Tony stood in the bathroom, washing tomato seeds out of his hair under the tap in the sink.
Tony didn't reply, and instead he wrapped Loki's head into a towel, then walked into the living room, where he handed the bundle to Loki's waiting body.
“Can you do me a huge favour please?” Tony asked.
“What's that?” Loki asked absentmindedly, as he propped his head on his knees and towel dried his hair.
“Can you please reattach your head?” Tony asked, as Loki handed him a blood stained towel.
“Why ever do you want me to do that?” Loki asked, and he pointed at the head. “Look how much easier it makes combing my hair.”
As Loki ran a comb through the back of his damp hair Tony sighed, and said, “We have a wedding to plan, and there is no way I am taking you to New York's fanciest cake shop if your head might fall into the mixing bowl.”
Loki let out a laugh, and said, “Well, that would be slightly embarrassing.”
“So you'll do it?” Tony asked.
“And you will not miss all the wonderful new sex positions we can perform now?”
“I'll be completely honest,” Tony said. “I miss giving you a proper hug way more than I enjoy all the new sex stuff.”
Loki smiled fondly, and said, “Very well then. Bring me the surgical tape.”
The next morning Tony woke late. He was still exhausted from the stress of the trip to Nidavellir, and Loki would probably be in a healing sleep for a couple of days at least, so it didn't really matter.
Yup, a lie in was exactly what the doctor ordered... if the doctor was the bottle of Scotch he and Loki had split the night before, which caused him to forget to set his alarm.
Tony took a moment to luxuriate. His bed was comfortable, and the sheets were pleasantly warm in the coolness of the room. The late morning sunshine was peeking through the haphazardly closed drapes, but even still Tony could see the bright blue sky through the gap. Yup, it was gonna be a lovely day.
And Loki... Loki's nose was settled into the back of Tony's neck, and his slow breaths tickled the small hairs there.
Just a few days ago Tony had watched him die. For a little over an hour he had witnessed his life without Loki, and he knew he never wanted to experience that feeling again.
Loki's nose was pressed up against Tony's neck, but as he reached backwards with his hand he realised Loki's body was nowhere near him.
Tony sat up and let out a groan as Loki's head rolled across the pillows.
“What is it?” Loki asked, as he blinked one eye open.
“Your head came off again,” Tony sighed.
“Make sure it is straight,” Loki hissed as Bruce stapled the wound. “I do not wish to be left permanently looking to one side.”
“If you'd stop wriggling this would go a whole lot better,” Bruce said.
"I still can't believe you put me through this." Tony said, as he held Loki's hand. "You let me think you were dead. I watched you die."
"You deserved it," Loki replied.
"For what?" Tony asked.
"Pulling out four of my chest hairs,” Loki replied. “It really hurt."
So for three days Loki slept, and when he woke Tony kinda wished he'd slept for a little bit longer. He'd lived in fear that when given a wedding to organise, Loki would turn into a Bridezilla, and every one of his fears had turned out to be correct.
“These cakes are all substandard,” Loki complained, as he placed his 47th dessert back in the box. “They simply will not do.”
“We've tried every bakery in New York,” Tony pointed out. “Surely something was nice?”
“Oh, they were all lovely,” Loki replied, “But none of them were perfect. Now run along and find me a pastry chef, darling. I need to finish my guest list, and don't forget that your list must be completed by 2.30pm sharp today.”
“Why that time?” Tony asked, suddenly realising he had exactly one hour and 32 minutes to start and finish his guest list.
“Because the Einherjar are coming to collect them so that the royal calligrapher can finish the invitations.”
“Oh, right...” Tony mumbled.
Loki looked at him pointedly. “You have started it, haven't you?”
“Of course I have,” Tony lied.
One hour and 15 minutes later Tony looked over his list.
10) Spare invitation. Someone always gets forgotten about.
Yup, it was perfect.
“What is this?” Loki asked, as he looked over the paper.
“That's my guest list,” Tony replied, as he sat at the table to read Loki's list.
“Very amusing,” Loki said with a smile. “Where is the real list?”
“That is the real list.”
Loki's face darkened. “Anthony are you taking this wedding even remotely seriously?” he snapped. “You have a grand total of eight names on this list, unless you know two people Natasha, and what is this about a spare invitation? There will be no spare invitations because the list will be perfect NOW!”
“Whoa, whoa,” Tony said, putting his hands up. “You wanna talk about lists? You've got 72 names on here, and apart from your parents, and about three I don't even know how to begin to pronounce, they're all villains!”
“And?” Loki shouted.
“At least half of them are currently in jail!” Tony snapped back.
“A mere logistical problem,” Loki said, waving his hand.
“So you are seriously going to invite 67 villains to a wedding that the Avengers are attending?”
“Ah,” Loki said. “You think that they will attack? You think so little of my friends that you think they will try to ruin my big day?”
“Well, to be fair, it was only a year ago that Doom unleashed a giant unstoppable robot on the city, so kinda worried, yeah.”
“Oh that? That was nothing,” Loki said, waving a hand. “Doom has been harbouring feelings for me for a while now. That attack was just to get my attention. I believe the mortal equivalent is pulling the pigtails of a girl you like? Of course he did not expect that I would join the battle.”
“Doom... has feelings for you?”
Loki raised an eyebrow, and said, “You find it strange that he might find me attractive? Am I somehow displeasing?”
Tony sighed, and rubbed his fingers across his forehead, then said, “Can we please not fight? I just want us to have a nice day, and then an even better honeymoon.”
Loki gasped. “I had forgotten the honeymoon! We must decide where we are going, then begin to write an exhaustive list of every single thing we will do, and every single thing we need to take. Tony, get a pen and paper. This is going to take a long time.”
Planning the honeymoon took exactly six days.
After that they went back to picking out the cake.
Two months, 97 arguments, and over a dozen bottles of Scotch later, the big day finally arrived.
The flowers were perfect. The cake was perfect. Loki looked super hot in his black three piece suit and dark green silk tie, and Tony was sure he looked pretty damn awesome too in his matching suit and dark red tie.
The hall they had chosen had been elegantly decorated, and so far not all single fight had broken out amongst the numerous villains and the Avengers who were sitting nervously on the front row.
Yup, Tony was absolutely confident that not a single thing would go wrong, and for once it seemed like the universe had forgiven him for the fact that he had probably slept with its wife in a previous life.
“I'm not even gonna ask,” Tony said calmly as he spotted a horse at the back of the hall, where all the guests were seated on rows of red and green silk covered chairs.
Loki smiled coyly, and said, “It's probably for the best that you don't.”
Tony took a deep breath. “You ready for this?”
“Absolutely,” Loki nodded, and together they turned to face the front of the hall.
They held hands as the registrar spoke some fancy words about love and relationships, and Tony knew he should be paying attention, but his eyes kept drifting back to Loki, and he couldn't stop thinking that he was the luckiest guy on Midgard.
“And now the vows,” the registrar said. “I believe you have written your own?”
“We have,” Loki nodded.
“Tony, would you like to go first?” the Registrar asked.
Tony nodded nervously, and cleared his throat. He'd worked for hours on these words, and he was suddenly terrified he was going to mess them up. Maybe he would go to say “I love you,” and actually end up saying “I like you.” Yeah, if he did that Loki would probably end up destroying New York with his bare hands, shrieking, “Like? Like? You LIKE me?” Probably better get it right the first time...
He turned to Loki, took hold of his hands, and began to speak.
“Loki, when I first met you I can't exactly say it was love at first sight, 'cause after all, you did throw me out of a window about two minutes later.”
Loki let out a soft laugh, turned to the crowd, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Oops.”
As Loki turned back to him, Tony smiled, and continued, “I couldn't have imagined, on that day when I was hurtling towards the ground, that one day I would be stood here with you, in front of all our friends, telling you how much I love you. And I do. I love you with everything I have, and believe me, I have a lot, but I would give up everything; my suits, the cars, the tower, everything, if you asked me too.”
Loki raised his finger to Tony's chin, and asked, “Would you shave this off?”
“Don't push your luck,” Tony laughed.
“I wouldn't dream of it,” Loki said with a grin.
“But to get back to my gushing, and slightly embarrassing declaration... I love you, Loki, and I promise that for the rest of my life I will be faithful to you, that I will do my best every single day to make you happy, and that I will never to give you cause to throw me out of a window again.”
The crowd applauded, as Tony turned to the registrar, and she said, “And Mr Odinson, your vows please.”
Loki nodded, turned to Tony, and began to speak.
“Anthony, as you so rightly pointed out, when I first met you I did indeed throw you through a window,” Loki began. “I also killed your friend, unleashed an army upon your city, and led Thanos to this realm, which he will undoubtedly attack again, but I do not regret my actions for a second, because without those events I wouldn't be standing here before you today.
When I first returned to Midgard and drew up a list of potential suitors, you were number 13 on my list. I believed you to be an arrogant, vain show off, who was far more interested in the contents of a glass, than he was in the feelings of those around him, but in the year we have spent together, I have come to love those things about you, and every day I thank Yggdrasil that the other Avengers I attempted to court before you turned me down.
And as such, these are my solemn vows to you; I vow to love you, despite your short stature and ridiculous facial hair. I vow to keep you safe from harm, although if Thanos does attack again there will probably be little I can do to prevent your death, but above all I vow that I will always remain loyal to you. I love you Tony. I believe I may love you more than you love yourself, even though that sounds impossible, and I promise I shall be with you for eternity.”
The registrar stood with her mouth open for a second, and then said, “I-I declare that you are married. You may now kiss.”
Tony grinned, and said, “I've been waiting for this part.”
Loki leaned forward, and rather to Tony's surprise, he found himself receiving the most chaste kiss of their entire relationship. He's honestly expected Loki to shove his tongue down his throat, and grab his ass, just to annoy the Avengers who were sitting on the front row, but nope. The kiss was brief, but tender, and was going to look pretty spectacular on the cover of People magazine, whose cheque had pretty much covered the cost of the wedding catering bill.
The crowd cheered as they linked arms and walked up the centre aisle, as a string quartet played gently.
"Look, my gift to you,” Loki whispered, as he nodded towards Doom.
"Is he... crying?" Tony asked.
“He is indeed,” Loki replied.
“Oh, man.” Tony laughed. “I really hope someone captures that on camera so I can use it as my phone lock screen.”
“Are you ready for the honeymoon?” Loki asked.
“Thirty days of Mead, sea, sun, and sex?” Tony asked, and then he wrapped an arm around Loki's shoulders. “Bring it on!”
Loki leaned into Tony's hug, and together they pushed open the double doors, and as the sound of their laughter filtered in from the corridor, at the back of the hall the horse neighed plaintively.