Chapter 1: Unexpected Visitor
Every now and then Tony did voluntarily go to bed, even when Pepper didn't make him. It was the middle of the morning, but he'd been up for two days straight, so he didn't care what time it was. It was as he walked out of the bathroom into his room he wished he had stayed in his lab. The first thing Tony noticed was that Loki was even paler than before the trip to Asgard with much longer, messier hair, the second was when Loki smiled at him, there were definitely fangs showing.
"I thought you were supposed to be in a cell?" he said, going for nonchalant. "Daddy leave the keys under the mat or something?"
"Oh I was," Loki replied, smile growing wider, "but dear daddy," those two words were stressed in a way Tony understood all too well, "forgot what else he'd put in there."
Tony did not like the sound of it.
"So you escaped and came here?" he asked, playing for time, because he was sure JARVIS would be alerting SHIELD as they spoke. "Not enough fun, happening things going on in the other eight realms?"
"So it would seem," Loki replied, walking closer.
Tony held his ground mostly, because there wasn't really anywhere to go. He knew Loki was faster than him and if he ran he was definitely dead. The new suit was not yet combat ready and he was pretty sure hitting Loki in the back of the head with a glove wasn't going to cut it.
"You're looking pale, not been getting any sun lately?"
"Oh I think that would be an unfortunate idea now," Loki replied; "more than a little unpleasant. I've never been fond of sunburn."
Given that he was a genius, Tony was coming to some obvious conclusions. Before New York he would have scoffed, but after battling an alien army and a demi-god, the nightmares were enough to convince him many things he had once scoffed at might be real.
"And you chose to visit me because of my famous wit and charm. You just couldn't stay away? I mean I can see the appeal, but really you should have called first, I'm a little busy."
Loki's eyes almost looked like they were glittering.
"I thought I'd come for that drink," Loki told him, smiling again in a very unsettling manner.
The fangs really were very, very obvious.
"Well, why didn't you say right away?" Tony responded, really hoping that didn't mean what he thought it did. "We should go downstairs to the bar where I keep the good stuff."
"Oh the good stuff is right here," Loki said and before Tony could react he found himself shoved up against the wall and held fast.
Now Loki had been strong and fast last time they had met, but, this time, Tony had barely seen the demi-god move. With an arm shoved against his throat he could hardly breathe, let alone get away.
"Things lurk in the dark, Man of Iron," Loki said; "things that are legend even to the Aesir and Odin is getting forgetful in his old age. It must have been starving and it was weak, but I had been under the hands of the AllFather's interrogators and I had no defences. It fed on me for weeks, building its strength from mine, and I thought to die, but even that was not granted to me."
Loki was only an inch from him, looking right into his eyes and Tony could see pain etched into those now pale orbs.
"I survived, again," Loki whispered to him, showing sharp, lethal fangs in a half snarl. "It bled me almost dry, but in that time my magic recovered, leaching from it without it even knowing. It was just enough and when it came to kill me, my instincts would not let it. It tried so hard, tried to rip me to pieces, but my magic ripped back. Days later I woke up like this covered in its blood."
"So you decided to come eat me? How avant-garde."
Sometimes Tony wished his brain would kick in before his mouth, because that was just asking for trouble.
Loki laughed and, without any further preamble, Tony found his head pushed to one side.
"Wait, let's talk..." was as far as he got before those very sharp fangs sliced into his vulnerable skin.
He grunted with pain and tried to call out, but his body failed him as an incredibly powerful mind slammed into his own. At first it was possibly the most powerful sexual overload he had ever felt. His cock swelled and he arched towards Loki without being able to do a thing about it, but it was an illusion. Somehow he knew it was false and his mind smashed through it even as his body writhed. Then all that was left was the intellect of the madman.
It was complete chaos. Like a maelstrom buffeting his mind as thoughts, images, memories that were not his own ripped at his consciousness. His sanity threatened to shatter under the onslaught, but Tony Stark was not called a genius for nothing. Instead of caving under the pressure, he tried to assimilate the knowledge pouring into him and fought back with everything in his own head.
Of course he could not win; he wasn't sure either of them could, but it was his body that gave out first. In the barrage of crazy his human frailty came in to play and blackness covered his consciousness. Everything was shut off in an instant and he knew no more.
"Ow," Tony said as he opened his eyes.
"Tony," Pepper was by his side and leaning over him in a second.
He blinked at her.
"Just stay still, the medical staff are coming," Pepper told him.
He blinked again and realised he was lying on the bedroom floor. His head was pounding, but other than that he actually felt kind of okay. Heedless of Pepper's words, he sat up. The room looped the loop in a very nauseating way.
"I told you to stay still," Pepper said, sounding less than sympathetic as he did his very best not to throw up.
"What happened?" he asked and then his neck twinged.
It all came back in a flood.
"Loki, that son of a bitch," he said, glaring around the room.
Tony looked up to find Clint standing behind Pepper and Steve was only a few feet behind him. Apparently at least some of the Avengers had assembled in his bedroom. He tried to move again, but this time it wasn't the room that rebelled, it was his brain as flashes of something zipped through his mind like a fire.
"Tony, Tony look at me," Pepper told him.
He did his best and blinked owlishly at her again.
"I'm fine," he lied, just as a hoard of people in white coats arrived.
That was the end of any sensible conversation. He ended up being dragged down to the medical facilities and examined as well as being barraged with questions. He even answered most of them truthfully. What he kept to himself was the whole mind sharing thing, because he wanted to figure that out before he let anyone else poke around inside his skull.
"I really hate doctors," Tony said as he finally walked back onto his own floor with Pepper close behind him.
"No you don't," she countered, "you just hate them poking you."
"You have two puncture marks in your neck that are almost healed already; they needed to make sure it wasn't Extremis."
Tony sat down.
"You know I wouldn't have tested it on myself if I didn't think it was ready," he pointed out. "That batch had a life of one day and it fixed up my chest just like it was supposed to."
When he had been working on stabilising Pepper's Extremis, he had hit on the idea of using it as a short term healing agent. It had worked exceptionally well and his most trusted medical staff had it on standby for Avengers-related emergencies, but it still had far too much weaponisable potential for him to let anyone know about it, even SHIELD. SHIELD had been told the almost miraculous rebuilding of his chest had been achieved with stem cell regrowth and plastic surgery.
Pepper came and sat down next to him.
"They still had to check," she said.
"And Bruce has samples of anything Loki left behind," Tony assured her, "but he's a vampire and there's far too much magic around these days. I'm really, really beginning to hate magic."
The fact that there were ideas about magic he had never considered flying around in his brain wasn't overly settling. If he could have tracked them down and made use of them it would have been better, but he didn't have all of Loki's memories, or even enough to put together anything practical. What he had was a glimpse into chaos with some interesting nuggets of information thrown in.
When Pepper placed a hand on his leg he took a deep breath; it was time to come clean. If there was one person he did not lie to, even by omission, it was Pepper, not anymore.
"I left something out," he admitted and immediately had all her attention.
"Tell me," was all she replied.
"When Loki bit me I saw inside his head."
Pepper looked calm on the outside, but her posture stiffened just a little and for a fraction of a second there was light in the centre of her eyes. There was no danger of her exploding or beginning to glow anymore unless she had been seriously hurt, but Extremis did show just occasionally under duress. Her grip on his leg was just a little bit too strong as well, but he didn't let that bother him.
"I got things from him and I know he got things from me," he admitted.
"Then we have to change everything, every safety protocol, every password ..."
He took her hand.
"JARVIS has already done it," he explained; "I gave him instructions when I had five minutes alone after I was taken to medical. But that's not the reason I'm telling you. The kid got a really bum deal and that's what he is, not much more than a boy as far as Asgard are concerned, early twenties in our terms at most and, wow, what a mind."
"Tony, you sound like you admire him."
"I do," he replied perfectly honestly; "he has an intellect like you wouldn't believe. Don't get me wrong, Loki is batshit; he's so far past insane he's in his own little universe, but I wish I had known him before. I think I get why Thor wants his brother back."
"Do you think you can help him?" Pepper asked in a very careful tone.
At that Tony gave her a smile and shook his head.
"Not my area," he replied and he did regret that; "he's all rage and hate and chaos. Don't worry, if I see him again I will shoot first and ask questions later. Now I know what is going on inside his head I think he's more dangerous than I did before."
"But you feel sorry for him?"
As usual Pepper saw to the heart of the matter and he nodded again.
"You remember I told you Thor said Loki was adopted?" he asked and it was Pepper's turn to nod. "What Thor didn't say is that Loki isn't even the same species as the rest of his family. He a Jotun, a Frost Giant, Thor's people's mortal enemies; they talk about them like we talk about the boogieman. Loki was brought up his whole life thinking he was an Asgardian and then, just as Thor was kicked out to Earth for killing Jotun he finds out he's one of the enemy. That whole thing in New Mexico, that was Loki trying to prove he was still his dad's son. He killed his own natural father to prove his loyalty."
"You sound like you understand."
Tony smiled sadly.
"I did some pretty whacky things to get my dad's attention."
"But you didn't kill people," Pepper was fast to point out.
"I wasn't a god," Tony replied.
"Do you know everything about him?" was the next question.
Now Tony shook his head.
"No, some things are clear, others are just impressions, but all this is what his rage is focused on; it was right there."
Pepper nodded and squeezed his hand.
"So is that all?"
Tony really wished it was.
"No," he said, "the worst bit comes next. Loki was suicidal, he let himself fall into this huge void and that's where the chaos started. I don't know what he saw; I'm not even sure he does, but it unscrewed whatever screws he had left. Then he crash landed among the Chitrauri who tortured him until he started saying yes to whatever they wanted. He was vulnerable and weak and their commander found a way into his mind. Somehow he managed to pull himself together so he wasn't a complete lunatic, but it's a veneer over the storm inside. He's a thousand times more dangerous than I could ever have imagined, because he's terrifyingly intelligent, but that intellect is sitting on top of fear and rage and hate."
He looked up into Pepper's eyes.
"If that hate had really been aimed at us," he said, "I don't think there would be anything of this planet left."
"But New York," Pepper said.
"A means to an end," Tony revealed. "Loki doesn't really care about us at all; not even this last visit. He's focused on Asgard and his dad and Thor and someone else that I didn't quite get. The whole invasion was just to get him back to Asgard and away from the Chitauri so he could regroup his strength. I think he'd still be there if it wasn't for this vampire thing. He ran because he thought it would be one step too far, that his dad would have no choice but to execute him."
"You have to tell SHIELD," Pepper said.
"And have them lock me up because they think I'm compromised," he shot back; "no way. The person I really need to talk to is Thor."
"But Thor is in Asgard."
"Yeah, but I doubt for long."
As if Tony's words were prophetic, Thor appeared at the tower the next morning. SHIELD has sent word the Thunderer had returned, so everyone was waiting in the lounge for their resident demi-god. It was not the first time Thor had been back since taking Loki to Asgard, but it was the first in a time of crisis.
"Greetings, Friends," Thor said smiling, but nowhere near as broadly as Tony had come to expect.
"Hey, Thor," he greeted, along with similar acknowledgements from the others.
"Tony, I am sorry my brother has caused you pain once more," Thor turned to him and spoke with all the earnestness of a prince.
"It wasn't that much pain," Tony replied, making light of it, "but care to tell us what happened. He was a little different, if you know what I mean."
"This may take some time, shall we not sit down?" the demi-god asked.
The seating area had been enlarged in the refurbishment, so they all quickly found seats.
"The field is yours, Thor," Steve encouraged.
"My father has been gathering evidence over these past months ready for Loki's trial," Thor began after taking a deep breath, "and he was almost ready to proceed, however, he believed there was information Loki was refusing to give."
"Loki mentioned something about interrogators," Tony put in.
Thor appeared a little surprised, but nodded again.
"They are sorcerers of the mind," Thor replied; "not as powerful as someone like Loki, but very skilled in their craft. My father believed that there was no way Loki could be restored to us without bringing all of his dealings into the light, however, my brother has a very strong mind."
No one needed to tell Tony that.
"They couldn't get in?" Clint asked, the distaste clear in his voice.
"My father ordered Loki from his usual cell to one in the dungeons," Thor continued after giving the affirmative. "He believed that with time alone in the darkness Loki might reconsider before my father was forced to pronounce sentence."
"But there was something else in there," Tony said.
"Aye," Thor replied. "There was but one cell warded in a way that could contain a sorcerer as powerful as my brother. It should have been empty; where the creature came from no one can tell. We found its remains after Loki broke apart the door and escaped."
"How the hell did he do that if the cell was supposed to contain him?" Clint demanded.
At that Thor appeared vaguely embarrassed.
"We do not know," Thor explained, "but my father believes this creature may have made Loki even more powerful."
"Shit," was Clint's heartfelt opinion.
"He said it was feeding on him in the cell for weeks," Tony decided to step in.
"He told you that?" Thor sounded surprised.
"Yeah, he was very chatty," he replied. "How come no one checked?"
"He was to be completely alone," Thor replied. "You must understand, Friends, we are far hardier than you. Weeks without sustenance to us are as like days would be to you. My father intended that when Loki was returned to his usual cell he would be weak and hungry, but little worse for the experience."
Tony really didn't like the idea of locking up a prisoner with no food for even a day, but knowing how dangerous Loki was, he could understand the motivation.
"Do you know where Loki is now?" Natasha asked with her usual businesslike approach.
"Unfortunately no, My Friends," Thor said. "Heimdall was able to see Loki's escape and progress to Midgard, but once he had taken blood, this strengthened his magic so he was able to hide himself from Heimdall's sight. I have come with instructions from my father to do all that is necessary to find Loki and once again bring him to justice."
"Are you sure you can contain him?" Bruce asked.
"I have bonds made by the AllFather's own hands," Thor replied; "we shall not underestimate him again."
The discussion then dissolved into tactics of tracking Loki down, but Tony couldn't help thinking it would not be that easy.
Chapter 2: The Mind of a God
Over the next few days, Tony did a lot of thinking about Loki. He had a lot of information that he was slowly feeding into a secret file JARVIS was compiling for him, but he was discovering the more he knew about Loki, the more of an enigma the man became. He played along with all of the schemes to find where Loki was, but he was pretty sure if Loki could hide from an all-seeing god, he could hide from them. What he focused on most was bringing his new suit up to combat readiness.
He was in the lab, going over the schematics of some final tweaks he wanted to make when he had the distinct impression someone was watching him. As he turned, his heart sank.
"Oh no," he said, poised to run for the door of his lab even though he knew he wouldn't make it, "I only just got over your last visit. JARVIS get everyone down here now."
There was no response.
"JARVIS," he tried again, but he had an even bigger sinking feeling about the whole situation.
"Your artificial servant cannot hear you," Loki said, sitting casually on the lab bench; "unlike last time my magic has recovered and I am hidden from all sight. However, you need not fret, Mr Stark, I am not here to harm you."
"Having an off day?" Tony asked as he tried to figure a way out.
Loki smiled at that and looked surprisingly amused, rather than derisive. Having been inside Loki's head he knew it was chaotic insanity, but the demi-god in front of him didn't look as insane as he had last time. In fact Loki looked elegant in black pants and a green shirt in a very Earth, smart-casual way. There wasn't a hint of armour about him and his long hair was neatly pulled back into a low ponytail. He looked less Asgard and more Armani.
"I will admit, I deserve that," Loki said and then hopped off the lab bench to land lightly on his feet.
"Okay, I'll bite, excuse the pun," Tony responded, because he never did know when to shut up, "why are you here?"
"To thank you."
"Giving me back my reason."
That got all of Tony's attention and he stopped and properly looked at his uninvited guest.
"Care to run that by me again, with crib notes?" he asked.
Loki smiled a second time and it was almost a pleasant expression. Tony found it unnerving. However, it was more than unnerving when Loki reached into nowhere that Tony could see and pulled out a small box.
"I know you are aware that when we last met I was completely insane," Loki said, as if it was a simple fact. "In fact I do not believe I have been sane since my fall. That is no longer the case and it is your mind which pulled me from the downward spiral."
For once in his life Tony did not know what to say.
"I find it ironic that a mind full of chaos, such as yours, was the trigger mine needed to realign, but I will not deny it," Loki continued to speak. "Hence, I came to thank you. In return for your aid I bring you a gift."
Loki placed the box on the tool table next to where Tony was standing and then took a step back, as if not to spook him. It didn't really help, since he was all too aware how fast Loki could move, but it was an interesting gesture. Loki wasn't known for being placating, even if it was only a ruse.
"Let me just check, because I like to have my facts straight," Tony said, not going near the box yet, "you're not a fruit loop anymore and so you brought me a present?"
The way Loki smiled was even more amused.
"That would sum up my presence," Loki replied.
"You don't look as, well, vampy any more either," he added.
"I am simply well fed," Loki said, amusement level dropping somewhat; "I am still what I am."
As if to prove it, Loki's skin went incredibly pale and the demi-god opened his mouth, exhibiting a newly extended fang. It was strangely attractive and just a little dangerous, which had Tony's libido sitting up and taking notice, but he ignored it with practiced ease. Since becoming serious with Pepper he had been training himself.
"Been breaking into blood banks, or don't I want to know?" Tony asked.
This time Loki laughed at him.
"Oh, I have found that in the throes of passion your species fails to notice many things," Loki told him; "I have had little bother finding willing partners."
That was a lot better than it could have been, so Tony decided maybe the conversation wasn't going to end with him squashed like a bug.
"Not feeling homicidal anymore then?" he asked just to make sure. "You don't look like you want to rip my head off, but I just like to be positive about these things."
"I have no quarrel with you or your people," Loki replied, becoming totally serious now. "My madness has passed and I owe you a debt, so I am here to repay it."
When it came down to it, Tony knew he could be confrontational, but he remembered the chaos of Loki's mind too much not to understand where the guy was coming from. He could have challenged Loki on the fact the demi-god owed Earth a debt as well, but he was pretty sure that would not end well.
"What is it?" he asked, looking at the box instead.
"An element from a dying star," Loki replied, "a very rare one you will not have seen before. I am sure a man of your intellect will find a use for it."
Tony almost stepped towards the tool table, but held himself in check.
"It's not radioactive is it?" he asked.
"Not to any degree which will harm you of those around you," Loki told him. "It has more interesting properties than that."
"Is it dangerous?"
"Very," Loki smiled as he said that and paused, "but not while it is in the box. You may open the box and examine it, but do not remove it until you are sure of its properties."
If there was one thing Tony could not resist it was a challenge and he gave in to his instincts and opened the box. There, suspended in a green mist was something about the size of a golf ball that looked vaguely metallic and writhed like it was trying to escape.
"Wow," he said, looking closer, because he had never seen anything quite like it. "Where did you get it?"
"I already told you."
"You got this from a dying star for me?" Tony didn't bother hiding his surprise.
"Well, I have had it for a while," Loki admitted with an amused smirk, "but I have never had a use for it until I saw into your mind. Some of your science is primitive, but you are quite remarkable; I am sure you will enjoy it."
Closing the box, Tony looked at his visitor and couldn't help wondering how long 'a while' actually was.
"Thank you," he said, "I'm sure I will."
It was a present from Loki, so he wasn't going to even probe it without full safety protocols in place, but his instincts told him the gift was genuinely meant.
"You know, I saw into your mind too; you're remarkable yourself," he added.
If half of what he had sensed when their minds met was the truth then Loki made most human geniuses pale in comparison.
"Most would not agree," Loki replied.
"Yeah, well, jocks, what can you do?" Tony said. "Can't live with them, can't distract the enemy without them."
Loki lifted an aristocratic eyebrow at that.
"A jock would be Thor," he said, explaining without making Loki ask, "us, we're the brains and jocks always try and make us look small, because we intimidate them."
"Thor does not have the brains to be intimidated."
Tony gave Loki a look of his own for that one; they both knew Thor was not an idiot.
"Our personal jocks might not have the same brain power we do," he said, "but if they were stupid we wouldn't be bothering with them."
Loki did not look very happy with that statement, but did not argue it.
"That being said," Loki decided and began to turn away, "thank you again for your assistance, Mr Stark, but now I have revenge on Asgard to plan. Do give my brother my greetings..."
"Woah, wait just one minute," Tony said and surprisingly Loki did pause.
"You don't hate Asgard."
Loki's features went completely cold in under a second.
"Please, do explain," Loki said and the tone was icy enough to make the temperature drop in the room.
"Don't be like that," Tony said, feeling just a little petulant; their chat had been going so well, "I've been inside your head, remember. I'm not saying you don't have issues with them, hell, I'd have issues with them too, but you don't hate them and I think you need me to tell you that because you're not thinking too clearly on this subject. You don't even hate your dad, although you have even bigger daddy issues than I do, which is saying something, and you definitely love your mum and your brother, no matter how big an idiot you think he is."
Loki's expression hadn't changed, but that said just as much as if it had; Tony knew he had shocked the demi-god. From being inside Loki's mind he knew that Loki's defences said if you don't know how to react, don't react at all.
"You would dare to tell me what I think?" Loki asked, voice no friendlier.
"No," Tony replied, "I'm just pointing out things I think you might be ignoring. I know it's easier to hate, I tried it with my dad, but it really doesn't work."
The way Loki's eye went distant for a moment told Tony the demi-god was at least thinking about what he was saying.
"Look, I don't know if you're going over your own memories or what you picked up of mine, but all I'm saying is you have options."
"Whether what you say is true or not, I have no options," Loki spat back almost instantly. "It matters little what I think or feel about Asgard; they would destroy me."
"They can't," Tony said and had to pause, because that had just popped out of his mouth.
Now Loki was frowning at him.
"You have no idea what you are talking about."
"Wait," he said, holding up his hand as he tried to chase down the thought that had caused him to speak.
"I am leaving."
"No, wait, it's," Tony knew it had to have been important, but he hadn't had much sleep and his brain was a little more chaotic than usual.
Loki turned away from him.
"You're free," Tony said triumphantly as he grabbed hold of the wayward thought, "by Asgard's law you're deemed punished and free."
"What nonsense are you speaking now?" Loki demanded, but significantly did not just disappear.
"By decree of Odin Allfather, no prisoner of Asgard shall be permanently harmed in any way until such time as their trial is complete and their punishment has been deemed just. If this law is broken the prisoner shall be deemed duly punished and all rights and property shall be returned to them with their freedom."
Loki was still glaring and clearly not quite following; the guy totally had blinkers when it came to his own situation.
"You're a vampire," Tony spelled it out. "I think that counts as permanently harmed, don't you? Asgard can't touch you and since we gave you to them to be punished, Earth can't touch you either. That gives you options."
"Odin will never allow that to stand," Loki protested.
"He doesn't have a choice," Tony replied, "it's the law."
"I am far too dangerous to be allowed free."
"Well, you were," Tony agreed. "No offense, but you were batshit, but we both know you're not anymore. Question is, are you going to make sure everyone else knows it too. You didn't used to be malicious, just a little bit misguided every now and then," he smiled to lessen that particular revelation, "but your dad's lies tipped you over the edge and the void finished you off, I get that, but you've got the chance to start again. You're a Prince of Asgard, free and clear."
It was totally obvious Loki had not remotely considered any of this as a possibility and to Tony's surprise, his guest actually sat down. For a moment the demi-god actually appeared kind of lost.
"Want a drink?" Tony offered, since it looked like Loki needed one.
The gaze that pinned him down was piercing, but also confused.
"Why are you trying to help me? I attempted a takeover of your planet and I threw you out of a window."
"But we both know you weren't really trying," Tony replied and then grinned, "and I've been on scarier roller coasters."
Loki frowned again.
"You got a bum deal from your dad," Tony changed tack since it didn't seem to be working, "and we have this thing called not guilty by reason of insanity. Thing is, you're not insane anymore which changes the whole game. I'd rather give you options than have Earth in the middle of your family problems."
"I told you, I bear this realm no ill will," Loki replied.
"Yeah, well, we seem to end up in the middle of things when it comes to you, your brother and your dad, so I'm taking no chances."
He poured two glasses of Scotch from his lab stash and carefully walked towards Loki, holding out one as a peace offering.
"I am a monster, Mr Stark," Loki said, without taking the drink.
"Yeah, well, aren't we all," Tony replied and refused to take back the glass.
For a few seconds the tableau held, until Loki finally reached out for the drink.
"I crave the life blood of others," Loki said, "if nothing else, does that not horrify you?"
"You haven't jumped me yet this time," Tony commented and took a swig of his whiskey, "so I think we can put that down to a one time, you were starving thing, which, really, when you think about it, turned out to be the right move for all of us."
For the first time ever, Loki actually looked at a total loss.
"You, Mr Stark, are an astonishing individual."
"I'll take that as a compliment," Tony replied with a grin, "and we're drinking together, you might as well call me Tony."
Loki shook his head and finally took a drink before making a face.
"This is foul," Loki said, "what is it?"
"Scotch," Tony replied, somewhat affronted, "expensive Scotch."
"Damn, it would seem I have found something else to cross off the list of delicacies I once enjoyed."
Loki actually appeared quite put out by that.
Placing the glass on the table Loki nodded.
"It would appear my palate has altered considerably."
"That sucks. Anything you do like I might have?"
"Since I do not believe that which I crave the most is on offer, I will simply say that I have found my tastes erring to the sweeter side," Loki replied, not sounding overly hopeful.
"Yeah, the whole blood thing was kind of mind blowing, but I'll have to pass; Pep would get jealous. I'll see what I've got in the cabinet," Tony said and walked back to the storage area where he kept his emergency supply. "How about some Coke in with it?"
He didn't normally hold with Coke in anything, but needs must. He popped the can and walked over to add it to Loki's glass. This time Loki sniffed it before actually trying to drink some, at which point the demi-god looked pleasantly surprised.
"The bubbles are not to my taste," Loki said, "but the flavour is palatable, thank you."
Loki being polite for a second time in ten minutes almost made Tony sit down in shock.
"Just don't tell anyone I mixed twenty five year old Glenlivet with coke," Tony said and grinned.
It was a superior smirk that came back at him from Loki, but the situation could almost be called pleasant as they drank their drinks. Of course it couldn't last.
"Thank you, Tony," Loki said when they were both done, "but now I must leave."
Loki gave him an 'are you a complete idiot' look.
"You have options, Reindeer Games, remember," Tony said, feeling bold, "why not come upstairs instead?"
"Aside from the fact most of your friends would try to kill me; I seem to recall your living space is completely open to the sun and I dislike bright light."
"It's adjustable," Tony replied, "all I have to do is tell JARVIS and no sun. Come on, don't you want to see the expression on Captain America's face when he walks in looking for me and finds you sitting on the couch?"
"I must adjust my previous assessment, you are not astonishing, you are insane."
However, Loki's words belied the look of interest in his eyes. Tony knew he had hit on Loki's mischievous nature.
"Dare you," Tony said, just because he could.
The corners of Loki's mouth twitched, just slightly.
"Just so we are clear," Loki said, "you are inviting a vampire and a frost giant into your home."
"Heh, I have one god living on the premises, what's the matter with inviting a second?"
Loki lifted an eyebrow again; it seemed to be a favoured expression.
"Are you inviting me to stay?"
"Maybe," Tony said, not actually having thought that far through, but not seeing the downside; "I like you and this is my building."
The utterly stunned look was completely new.
"You like me?"
Loki sounded as if that was an utterly impossible concept.
"You're not entirely sane, but neither am I, so sure," Tony said. "You've been inside my head as much as I was inside yours, figure it out."
He knew he'd lost his guest again for a few moments as Loki's gaze clouded with memory, but when Loki blinked back to reality it was obvious they understood each other a little better.
"Will your artificial servant not immediately sound the alarm should my presence become known?" Loki asked, apparently no longer objecting.
"Not if I tell him not to," Tony replied. "Don't get me wrong, there are protocols for you showing up that I'll have to go through, because you know, glowstick of destiny and mind control and all that jazz, but JARVIS will be cool."
"It would be simpler for all concerned if I were to just leave," Loki pointed out.
"Yeah, but you don't want to and it's not every day I get to pick a master's brain about magic."
The taken aback look graced Loki's features again; it was all too clear this was one demi-god not used to being the centre of attention for anything but chaos. For a long few seconds Loki just looked at him as if trying to puzzle him out some more and then nodded.
"When I finish speaking I will release the enchantment on your servant," Loki said.
"JARVIS, don't sound the alarm," Tony said the moment Loki stopped talking.
"Very well, Sir," JARVIS replied, "but protocol Glow Stick of Destiny is in effect."
"Yep, gotcha," Tony replied, "put the call through to Pepper."
Loki lifted an eyebrow.
"There is only one person qualified to say if I'm in my right mind," Tony told his guest with a shrug.
"Tony, this came through with an emergency tag," Pepper's voice came over the intercom, "what do you need?"
Tony grinned, that was his girl.
"I have a new house guest," he replied, "and I need you to confirm for JARVIS I'm not being mind controlled."
He was pretty sure that by now Pepper was bringing up the security camera footage on her work screen. In the case of an emergency, JARVIS had orders to feed it directly to whatever device Pepper had to hand.
"Nope, not even a little bit," he replied, "in fact me and my guest are having a very pleasant conversation."
"I am obliged to point out you have had no conversation, Sir," JARVIS added.
"I was hiding the discourse from your vision, Servant of Stark," Loki said without prompting, "the true events are in a locked file coded 7051."
Tony noted with interest that Loki's methods clearly employed magic, but in conjunction with technology as well. He really could not wait to bombard Loki with questions.
"File located and isolated," JARVIS replied, "analysing now."
"Pep, Loki is no longer loco," Tony spoke to Pepper while JARVIS went through the half dozen security protocols that were in place before anyone could view an unknown file on the network. "Turns out my kind of crazy was just what his kind of crazy needed to be, well, not so crazy anymore."
"Are you sure?"
"Well he hasn't tried to kill me yet, so I'm taking that as a positive sign."
"Tony," Pepper's tone was long suffering and a little on edge.
"Yes I'm sure," Tony replied.
"Miss Potts," Loki said, standing and looking unerringly at one of the hidden cameras, "I came here today to thank Tony for his gift to me; I bear neither him, you nor your planet any ill will."
"But you're still there?" Pepper asked, as beautifully professional as ever.
"I invited him to stay," Tony put in.
There was silence from the other end of the call.
"Miss Potts, Sir," JARVIS interrupted before Pepper could reply, "I have analysed the footage. There is no indication that any mind control techniques have been applied, but I feel I must point out that it is possible the footage may have been tampered with or invisible techniques have been implemented."
"Nothing invisible going on here, promise," Tony said and smiled at Loki.
"Tony, we really should call SHIELD," Pepper said.
"Oh, but that will spoil the surprise," Tony whined.
He could almost hear the eye-roll from the other end of the line.
"Perhaps if Miss Potts were to alert your colleagues of a possible incursion, but not specify exactly what that incursion might be, she would be satisfied and so would you?" Loki suggested with the ease of one used to plots.
"What do you say, Pep?"
"You are impossible," is what Pepper replied.
"Please," Tony wheedled.
"Tony, sometimes you have to be a grownup," Pepper told him.
"I am," Tony replied, "haven't I let those doctors prod me once a day to make sure I'm fine?"
Tony wasn't sure why he was trying so hard. The sensible thing would have been to allow Pepper to call SHIELD and the other Avengers and just deal with it. It was possible Loki's mischievous nature had had an effect on him after all.
"Okay," he said, "but tell Thor first and give us a chance to get to the bar."
Loki lifted an eyebrow at this, but didn't seem overly concerned about the situation.
"Tony," Pepper said.
"Five minutes, that's all I'm asking," he replied and headed for the door.
Pepper sighed and Tony took that as a yes. He looked over at Loki who stood up and followed him.
"Bye, Pep," Tony said and blew a kiss at one of the hidden cameras; "see you soon."
He knew for a fact Pepper would be heading up from her office further down the tower as soon as she had alerted SHIELD. She would also be watching the monitors like a hawk until backup arrived. It was nice to know someone other than JARVIS really cared.
"JARVIS, tint the windows to 80% please," he said as Loki followed him up the stairs from his lab to the penthouse.
"Done, Sir," JARVIS replied. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
Roughly translated that meant, 'Is there a threat I can neutralise for you?' Tony loved JARVIS almost as much as Pepper.
"No thanks," he replied, "that will be all."
When he had converted the tower to provide space for the Avengers he had turned the penthouse level into a communal space, adding further structures above for him and Pepper. The lounge was open to all which made it a good place for the discussion he knew was coming.
"So," he said as he walked over to find them more drinks, "how severe is the problem with sunlight?"
"It is uncomfortable," Loki replied, "but with my magic, manageable. I am able to tolerate it, but I would prefer not to."
"Understandable," Tony replied with a grin, "but at least I know if someone takes a pot shot at the windows you're not going to go up in flames."
"Nothing so dramatic," Loki replied, smirking just slightly at him.
"Here, try this," he said, pouring a sweet melon liqueur into a glass and sliding it towards his guest; "it's your colour."
Loki sniffed it and took a small sip and then smiled; he looked quite delighted in fact.
"Thank you," the demi-god said, "it is most palatable."
"Then it's all yours," Tony said and poured himself another Scotch; "it was bought for a cocktail night that was interrupted by SHIELD and no one has touched it since."
"Sir," JARVIS interrupted politely, "Mr Odinson is enroute, he will be here in approximately twenty seconds."
"Thanks, JARV," Tony replied. "Shall we?" he asked and indicated the couches.
Chapter 3: What Happens Next?
The Avengers and SHIELD still have issues with Loki.
I'm sorry, I know I said it was going to be 3 chapters, but when the third chapter made it to almost as long as the rest of the fic I realised it's going to be 4 - sorry. So, here's chapter 3.
His butt had just touched leather when the elevator doors opened and Thor stormed into the room.
"Hold up, Death Metal," he said, lifting his hand in what he hoped was a placating gesture, "everything's going great here."
"Loki, what have you done?" was Thor's opening gambit, at which point Loki's expression lost all traces of humour.
"Whoa," Tony said, standing before Loki could do anything that would put everything back to square one, "you know all that wishing for your brother to not be insane you did, well it paid off. Just look at him, Buddy, before you say anything you are really going to regret."
Thor had Mjolnir in his hand and just stood there as if frozen before a battle.
"There's something I didn't mention about the last time Snow White here dropped in," Tony tried to explain. "When he bit me we had a whole Vulcan mind meld thing going on. It was freaky, but..."
"The influence of Tony's mind on my own was significant," Loki finished for him, still looking annoyed, but on the sane side of pissed off, so Tony took that as a good sign.
"My crazy fixed his crazy and he came back to say thanks," Tony added, "so I asked him to stay."
That at least made Thor lower his hammer.
"You are well again?" Thor asked, looking at Loki.
"As well as can be expected," Loki replied in a very cool tone.
"Then we must return at once to Asgard so that Father may know and ..."
"Whoa there again, Blondie," Tony stepped in before an argument could start, "your dad managed to screw up so he doesn't have any say in this now."
"Man of Iron, I do not believe you know of what you speak," Thor responded.
"Oh, but I do," he insisted, "and so do you. Loki is free and clear no matter what your Dad says, because of your own law. Harm of a permanent nature has been done and so the get-out clause is in effect; I know you know what that is. Your little brother here might have a huge blind spot when it comes to himself, but I'm betting you don't."
Thor thought about that and there was what Tony decided was doubt in the demi-god's expression.
"That must be judged by the AllF..." Thor started to tell Loki and that was the point Tony saw Loki lose his temper.
"Is this not permanent damage?"
Loki was suddenly right beside Thor and the trickster was showing long vicious fangs and those glittering eyes. Tony had only seen a blur and it was more than clear Thor had seen little more.
"Surely there is a way to reverse..."
"Do you think I have not tried?" Loki all but snarled. "This is no curse to be removed. This is magic older than time when creatures were created by the whim of the universe. This cannot be changed."
Tony just stood there watching as he saw the realisation that this was not a trick dawn in Thor's eyes. Several emotions filtered across Thor's face and finally settled on something Tony could not quite identify.
"Then I truly have my brother back," was what Thor said and Tony realised what he could see was hope.
From the looks of things Loki had absolutely no idea how to deal with that. When Thor actually reached out and hugged him, Loki just kind of froze. Tony would have laughed if he had been sure it wouldn't result in bloodshed. Loki may have been less crazy pants now, but that didn't mean the demi-god was stable by any means.
When Thor released Loki, the big thunderer was smiling as if he'd just had the best present ever. The old Loki would have tried to kill him, Tony was pretty certain, but this new Loki just stood there.
"I am truly a monster now, Thor," Loki said in little more than a whisper.
"I see no monster," Thor replied, "I never did. You are changed, yes, Brother, but you are still Loki and Loki is my kin."
"I never have been your kin," Loki protested.
"What is a brother is not one to stand beside you in battle?" Thor asked. "You have saved my life and the lives of our friends countless times, Loki, you are my brother."
"Your friends," Loki said, but there was none of the viciousness in his tone, more something along the lines of petulance if Tony was any judge.
"And you are restored to all your titles and position," Thor said, beaming happily, "so you are once again a Prince of Asgard. We should celebrate with wine and song."
The expression on Loki's face said more than any words and Tony did laugh then, because it was clear Loki thought his brother was a complete idiot. Tony was pretty sure Thor was simply taking the easy route to having his brother back.
"This is why I have to drag you from trouble every single time you leave Asgard," Loki said in an exasperated tone. "This could be a trick, an illusion, I could be doing anything and you want to drink and be merry."
Thor laughed loudly at that and slapped Loki on the shoulder with a blow that would have knocked anyone else off their feet.
"You are indeed well again," Thor announced with a grin; "if not I think I would have a dagger between my ribs."
"Do not temp me," was what Loki replied.
That earned the God of Mischief another hug, at which point he squawked with indignation, but did not try very hard to escape.
Tony found himself smiling fondly and decided to distract himself by going back to the bar before he gained a reputation for being a sap. He had just grabbed one of the bottles of mead he kept in stock for Thor when the cover popped off one of the air vents and Clint slid out, bow and all, while Natasha dived out of the elevator, a gun in either hand.
"Peace, Friends," Thor boomed, "all is well."
"Not while he's here it isn't," Clint responded.
"My brother is restored to me," Thor said, all smiles and cheerfulness; "please, put your weapons away."
Tony came out from behind the bar, because Thor was still smiling, but Tony could sense the very serious message below the happy words. There was definitely a 'please don't do anything to make me hurt you' hidden in that statement.
"The bag of cats is now just one kitty," he said, "but he has claws and fangs so don't wreck the living room by provoking him, pretty please."
"What did he do to you, Stark?" Clint demanded, bow still at the ready.
"Actually it's what I did to him," Tony said, standing there with two glasses in his hands. "He bit me and my genius undid his wacko and he came by to say thanks, so I invited him for a drink. I figured that it would be better to be civilised so we don't have any more rampaging Norse god incidents. They can be fun, but the cleanup is a bitch."
"He killed hundreds of people," Natasha pointed out.
"And he was a complete basket case at the time; trust me I've seen in his head and it was so much worse than you think it was."
"You saw in his head?" Natasha did not sound impressed.
"Yes and I left it out for just that reason," he replied. "Stop looking at me like I betrayed you; I took every precaution necessary and Pepper knew about everything."
He thought it was the last bit that made Natasha relax just slightly.
"He was supposed to be being punished on Asgard," Clint added.
"And he was, My Friends," Thor said, "but that is now done. Loki is restored as a Prince of Asgard."
"Hell no," Clint said, aiming very purposefully; "he killed Coulson."
The slightly worried glance that Natasha sent Clint did not make Tony feel at all comfortable. He hadn't calculated that part in, in fact his head had been assimilating so many things lately he had all but forgotten exactly what had made this so personal. Now he thought about it there was something not right about the statement anyway.
"No he didn't," he said as his brain threw up the information.
"Tony, you need to concentrate, he must have got to you," Natasha said in a very sympathetic tone as she tensed again.
"No he didn't," he repeated, only this time to her; "I'm not delusional. Coulson isn't dead, at least he shouldn't be. Fury is a lying asshole, I would bet my life on it."
For the first time the tip of Clint's arrow wavered.
"What?" the archer asked.
"Loki, tell them what you did," Tony said and gave the demi-god a pointed look.
"I stabbed your Agent Coulson, just missing his heart," Loki said, somewhat reluctantly; "I intended to use him as a delaying tactic while my activities on your airship were concluded. When he shot me I changed my plans, but unless I severely underestimated your medical personnel he should not have died."
Natasha lowered her gun.
"The cards," she said, looking over at Clint; "he never would have kept them in his pocket."
Clint blinked at that.
"Son of a bitch!"
"JARVIS, find the man called Agent for us," Tony said.
"On it now, Sir," JARVIS replied; "I will alert you as soon as I have more information."
"Thank you JARVIS," he concluded, which seemed to please Natasha at least.
Clint even looked like he was about to lower his bow, but then turned back towards Loki.
"How is he not still a wanted criminal?" Clint asked and the look on his face said it was no longer righteous anger, it was now personal, for which Tony really couldn't blame him.
"We sent him to Asgard to be tried," Tony decided he was the only one who could explain without being skewered, "and they screwed up. His dad managed to lock him up with a vampire, which means he was permanently harmed before he had a trial. Their law says that's a no-no, so he's free and clear. Luckily for us Loki came to me on the first leg of his revenge trip after he escaped and my loco fixed his loco and he's still kind of pissed at his dad, but us he's not too bothered about. Since when shit happens on Asgard these days it tends to rain down here too, I thought, in my infinite wisdom, which is very infinite, by the way, that giving the magical demi-god with fangs options would be a great plan. Also, if you shoot him now his big brother is going to be really pissed."
Thor did not look overly worried, but then neither did Loki. Tony was just hoping they didn't end up with pulverised archer anytime in the near future.
Pepper chose that moment to arrive with Steve in tow.
"Hawkeye, stand down," Steve ordered in that way he had.
Being Captain America clearly had its perks, because Clint obeyed immediately.
"We monitored on the way up," Steve said, letting everyone know the score. "Loki, what are your intentions?"
"I have not yet decided," was the surprisingly honest answer.
"Do you intend anyone on Earth harm?" Natasha decided to be more specific.
"No," Loki replied.
"And we just believe him?" Clint asked, sounding incredulous.
"I do," Tony said and walked over and passed Thor a drink.
"So do I," was the very surprising backup from Natasha.
Clint almost looked betrayed, but Natasha returned the hurt look with a stare that clearly said much more to Clint than to anyone else. Tony did not speak Natasha under such circumstances, so did not try to figure it out.
"Bruce, stand down," Steve said and Pepper relaxed just a little, which told Tony everything was going really well.
"Brucey," he said out loud, "are you coming up to join us for a drink?"
"I am not sure that would be wise," was Bruce's reply over the intercom.
"Dr Banner," Loki spoke before Tony could say anymore; "I will pledge to control myself if you will."
It almost sounded friendly; wonders would never cease.
There was silence from Bruce for a few moments and Tony could imagine the look of surprise and probably worry on Bruce's face.
"I'll be there in a few minutes," was the eventual reply.
Loki looked quite pleased about that, which Tony would have thought was really odd, except that he really liked Bruce and he suspected that might have rubbed off on Loki.
"Everybody sit," he said, "I'll get drinks. No doubt SHIELD will turn up shortly and we might as well be comfortable while we wait."
It was twenty minutes before SHIELD arrived and they did not arrive en masse, in fact, Fury walked in all by himself. Tony was mildly impressed by the entrance; very few men could make a leather coat flap quite like that.
"Nick, how nice to see you," he greeted, "want a drink."
"I'm on duty, Stark," was the not unexpected and sharp response.
"Suit yourself," Tony replied.
"Well isn't this cosy," Fury said as the man peered around the room with his one beady eye.
Tony was quite proud of the fact no one looked guilty, not even Steve.
"Thor am I correct in stating that you have once again recognised your brother as a Prince of Asgard with all rank and privilege that goes with that title?" Fury asked, looking directly at the blond god.
"Yes, Director," Thor replied; "that would be so."
Fury looked incredibly put upon and as if he would rather be anywhere else, but turned to Tony instead. This was going to be interesting, Tony could tell.
"And Stark, since you invited him here, I assume you're not interested in pursuing the assault charges against Loki?" Fury asked.
"You assumed right, Nick," Tony replied with a smile; he thought he knew where this might be going.
Fury sighed, actually sighed and then looked at Loki.
"Then, Prince Loki, SHIELD welcomes you to Earth as a diplomatic visitor from another sovereign power," Fury said, even though the man didn't sound as if he believed it. "We would request you do not wander from the safety of this tower alone in case anyone recognises you and makes an incorrect assumption until SHIELD has had time to apprise the public of your current position."
"He means spins a pretty story so New York won't rebel," Tony added even though he knew it was completely unhelpful.
"That being said," Fury continued, completely ignoring the comment, "if you wish to travel anywhere, SHIELD would be happy to provide personnel to see to your safety. SHIELD will also provide anything you might need for your new circumstances until such time as you choose to return to your own realm."
Loki only appeared surprised for a fraction of a second and amused for even less, but Tony caught it.
"Thank you, Director Fury," Loki replied with a perfectly serious expression on his face; "your hospitality does your realm justice."
Fury kind of grimaced.
"Just don't make me drag your ass out of a riot," Fury said, apparently having reached the end of his charm. "Good day, team."
As Fury strode right back out again Loki finally let the amusement surface, but he seemed pleased and Thor looked like he had just won the lottery.
"Well that was easier than expected," Steve commented and Tony couldn't help himself; he laughed.
Clint was still looking mutinous, but Natasha had him in check, so Tony wasn't worried.
"More drinks," was what he decided and nobody disagreed, not even Steve.
Pepper came to help him at the bar and he gave her one of his best pleased to see her, pleased with himself smiles. It was all going so well.
"This could still end in disaster," Pepper pointed out as she arranged glasses on a tray.
"No it couldn't," Tony replied, "well unless we get an alien invasion in the next hour. That could end in disaster; big nasty fireballs or zappy guns. Otherwise I think we're cool."
"I hope you're right, Tony," Pepper said and gave him a quick peck on the check.
He watched her walk over to where, for some reason he had missed, Thor and Loki had stood up.
"It is more than an inch," Thor said and Tony decided it was probably height, because nobody had taken their clothes off yet.
"It is not," Loki replied and for a second looked like a petulant ten year old.
"Lady Pepper," Thor said as Pepper put the tray down and handed him a drink, "would you say I am more than an inch taller than my brother."
Pepper smiled and Tony watched with interest.
"I wouldn't be able to tell," Pepper replied and then stepped to the left to hand Loki a drink as well.
Loki went suddenly very still, eyes firmly fixed on Pepper. What Tony saw next almost had him calling for his suit as Loki's skin paled and the demi-god's eyes glittered. He probably would have if Loki hadn't taken a very sharp step backwards, away from Pepper, but it was the way Pepper all but swayed towards Loki that really got his attention. He was on the move before he thought about it and at Pepper's side as quickly as possible.
"Pep, you okay?" he asked.
"Fine," she replied, but her hand was quite tight on his arm as he slipped the other one around her waist; "that was ... I'm not sure ..."
Tony looked up at Loki to find his guest appeared as fazed as Pepper did.
"My apologies," Loki said, blinking as if to clear his head, "I am not sure what happened."
It sounded honest and Tony chose to accept Loki's word, because the demi-god was looking less pale again.
"Is there a problem?" Natasha asked with her usual businesslike attitude.
"I don't think so," Pepper said and stood up straight again, so Tony released her. "Shall we?" she asked Loki.
Loki nodded and took a tentative step forward. Both of them stiffened at the same moment, but they stood their ground and neither seemed to have such obvious reactions as before.
"You have the scent of fire," Loki said, clearly relaxing in to whatever the pair were experiencing; "I apologise for my reaction."
"Not at all," Pepper replied and gave one of her practiced smiles, "it was quite a rush and I'm not sure it was all you."
Loki and Pepper stared at each other for a few moments more and then Pepper handed him the drink that was still in her hand.
"Thank you," Loki said and the moment seemed to be over.
There were two things Tony noticed when Pepper turned back to him: her pupils were dilated; her skin was flushed and there was the tiniest hint of fire in her eyes. Tony knew those signs and they weren't a fight response, in fact they were the opposite; Pepper was aroused.
Tony sat in bed waiting for Pepper to finish in the bathroom.
"You're attracted to Loki," he said as soon as she appeared.
Pepper took this completely in her stride, because it wasn't the first frank conversation they had had. When they had become serious one of the things they had agreed on was to always be honest about these things. Tony knew he had a libido like no other and hiding attraction wasn't something either of them did; they just didn't act on it.
"I'm attracted to a lot of people," Pepper replied, pulling back the cover and climbing in.
"But this is primal," he countered, "I know because I feel it too. I want to take apart his mind with mine and take apart his body with my tongue."
The look Pepper sent his way was one of her very patient ones.
"Tell me it's not the same for you," he said with a grin, "I saw how you reacted. I know that look in your eyes."
"He is very alluring," Pepper admitted, "but that doesn't change anything."
"So you're not curious?"
Pepper turned to face him full on then a very thoughtful expression on her face.
"You want a threesome?" she asked.
It wasn't the first time they had discussed something like this.
"I don't know," Tony replied, "what do you think?"
"Inviting an unstable Norse god with vampire tendencies into our bed could be mentally and physically dangerous," she pointed out.
"You could always fry him."
That gained him a very disappointed look, which was one of the worst in Pepper's arsenal.
"Okay, I concede the point," he said quickly, "so that's a nix on that idea then."
The fact that Pepper did not instantly agree told him he had guessed right in the first place. Something had happened when Loki and Pepper got close, something very primitive.
"It's a very bad idea," was the best Pepper could do, which was tantamount to declaring she was interested, because Pepper just told him no when it was appropriate.
"Of course it is," he replied, "but you're still interested."
Pepper gave him a look.
"A bad idea," she repeated and that was an end to the conversation.
Tony counted it as a maybe and put it to the back of his mind. He had more important things to think about right then, like how loud he could make Pepper call his name.
Acknowledging Loki's status as a Prince of Asgard seemed to be exactly the right approach from SHIELD. Even though Loki professed to dislike his home, he seemed to care about his position. Tony secretly thought that being reconciled with his family was something that would overjoy the demi-god, but he wasn't stupid enough to say it out loud.
There was only so much Loki was willing to admit and since the demi-god knew stuff that was in his head just like Tony knew what was in Loki's he figured it was better to keep his mouth shut. They both had each other in a corner when it came down to it and Tony didn't want his personal stuff spread around, so he kept his silence on Loki's.
Loki turned out to be intelligent, sarcastic and sassy when he wasn't trying to take over and Tony found himself liking Loki a lot as they got to know each other over the next two weeks. Even Clint seemed to settle down and accept Loki's presence once JARVIS had tracked down actual proof of Coulson's survival. They still didn't know where the man named Agent was and Tony was considering just confronting Fury, but the evidence was clear: Coulson was alive. Fury probably had a nefarious plan they could all wreck once JARVIS had tracked down more evidence.
It was just after Clint has changed his attitude they had had the coffee incident. It had taken Tony falling asleep in his workshop for anyone to realise all the coffee in the building had become decaf. It hadn't been switched with decaf, it had actually become decaf and Loki did the most beautiful innocent face Tony had ever seen. Luckily even Natasha found Tony snoring funny and JARVIS, the traitor, played it all back for everyone to see.
It had become common place to see Loki wandering from the microwave with a mug that was very definitely not filled with coffee first thing in the morning. No one mentioned blood, because it made Steve go a funny colour, but everyone knew what it was. Loki was staying on Thor's floor which had its own kitchen, but it had become kind of the thing for the team to have breakfast in the communal kitchen on the main floor (totally Steve's fault) and Loki had just slipped into that with them.
Bruce and Loki had bonded over tea; the God of Mischief was not a lover of coffee like his brother. Tony had decided to forgive Loki for that though, because he had a big crush on Loki's brain. Almost as big as the one he had on Bruce's and bigger than the boner he had for Loki's body, which was huge, in both cases.
Watching Loki steal Thor's pop tarts was also a daily joy. Steve insisted everyone eat properly in the mornings, but Thor always added on pop tarts and Loki seemed to have picked up a taste for them. The chocolate ones usually disappeared before Thor even got a look in, but Thor didn't seem to mind. It was cute how Thor always heated a chocolate one and a blueberry one first and then pretended not to notice when Loki stole the chocolate one right off his plate.
However, there was one thing Tony had noticed day after day: Loki didn't seem to consume the blood with much enthusiasm. For the last two days Loki had seemed irritable and tired and had spent more time curled up reading on Thor's floor than in the lab with Tony and Bruce. Since they had become science buddies, or rather, science and magic buddies, that was unusual.
He knew Loki used some kind of glamour to deal with the sensitivity to light issue, but as he watched Loki heat his usual mug of blood, Loki looked pale even with the magic.
"You feeling okay?" Tony asked as he mixed up his usual smoothie.
"I am fine," Loki snapped back.
"Hey, I was only asking."
Loki took a deep breath, still looking at the microwave, before turning.
"I am sorry," Loki said; "I am not feeling quite myself."
There was a ding from the microwave before Tony could ask Loki what the problem was and the demi-god turned away again.
"Anything I can do?" Tony asked as Loki retrieved his mug.
"I believe I may have strained my magic," Loki replied, walking slowly over to the table. "It has been a long time since I have been able to relax. I am sure it will pass."
It never did to push Loki, so Tony accepted that and carried on preparing his breakfast. Thor and Steve appeared moments later, fresh from their morning shower after their jog around Central Park.
"Good morning, Brother, Tony," Thor greeted; "is it not a marvellous morning?"
"Not bad," Tony replied; "did you two make many maidens swoon with your manly muscles this morning?"
"Steve had to rescue a small canine from the jaws of a larger beast," Thor began and then joyfully regaled them with the full story while Steve started making breakfast and tried not to blush.
If there was one thing Asgardians knew how to do it was tell stories. At various points in the tale Natasha, Clint and Bruce arrived, which was a full house, because Pepper had been at work for a good hour already and Jane had come for a visit the previous week, but hadn't stayed more than a couple of days. Thor was very enthusiastic about Loki getting on with his girlfriend and eventually Jane and Loki seemed to bond out of sheer self-preservation.
Tony kept an eye on Loki throughout, but he couldn't see any difference from normal. Loki unenthusiastically drank his blood, stole a pop tart and accepted a cup of tea from Bruce. It was only when Loki was halfway through the pop tart that anything changed. Thor was explaining how Steve had tried to extricate himself from the grateful owner of the small dog when Loki put his half eaten pop tart down and grimaced.
It could only have been a second later when Loki moved, not as fast as Tony had seen Loki move, but definitely fast, and ran to the sink, bending over it and being very loudly ill.
"Brother," Thor was out of his seat and at Loki's side a second later, "what ails you?"
Loki couldn't answer, because he was still vomiting, at which point Thor was a good brother and grabbed his hair out of the way for him. It was decidedly unpleasant, but also very clear that Loki simply could not stop. Tony wasn't good with such things and kept his distance until there was the sound of water running.
"Thor," Loki said very quietly as he slowly stood up, but whatever Loki was going to say was lost as the demi-god collapsed in a dead faint.
It wasn't much of a surprise when Thor scooped his brother up before Loki could hit the ground.
"Well?" Tony asked half an hour later when Loki was tucked up in bed with Steve keeping watch and everyone else was in the conference room for a powwow.
"If I didn't know better I'd say he'd been poisoned," Bruce said.
"Who would do such a thing?" Thor boomed.
"Not SHIELD," Natasha said quickly; "not after they've given him diplomatic status."
"They couldn't have anyway," Tony added, "I switched out their blood on the second day, because Loki didn't seem to like it."
"Could it have been an accident?" Clint asked. "Just one batch this morning?"
Tony looked at Bruce.
"He's been different for a couple of days," Bruce revealed.
"I too have noticed he has not been himself for several days," Thor agreed, "but he assured me there was nothing about which to worry."
That didn't give them many alternatives.
"What about something else he ate?" Natasha suggested.
"It was definitely the blood," Tony replied; "he didn't steal the pop tart with his normal enthusiasm. He was going through the motions."
When Natasha did not argue he knew she had seen the same thing.
"Then what could it have been?" Clint asked.
"Maybe it's something he's not getting," Bruce suggested with a thoughtful crease between his eyebrows. "I've seen this kind of reaction with food intolerances where a person is missing an enzyme. It could be why it has taken this long to show."
"But he was definitely fine when he got here the second time," Tony said. "He was half dead when he bit me, but when he came back to say thanks he was buzzing."
"So maybe it's something to do with the blood being from a bag?" Bruce said. "Maybe the preservation process has added something or taken something away he needs."
That made more sense and Tony's mind began to rotate through all the possibilities.
"Holy crap," he said as he realised what was staring him in the face. "Thor, don't take this the wrong way, but was your brother a player back in Asgard?"
"I do not understand."
"Did he like the ladies, or the guys for that matter?" Tony clarified.
"Oh," Thor said, clearly not at all bothered by the question, "no, Loki was most particular in his dalliances and even more so with his affections. It was one of the things members of the court would often gossip about."
"Then I think it might be the sex," Tony said and looked at Bruce.
"What sex?" Clint asked, clearly confused.
"When he bit me, the first thing I felt was an incredible sexual overload," Tony explained. "I somehow pushed through it, but my body still responded. When he came back he told me he'd been getting his blood by seducing people. Sex releases all sorts of things into the body; what if he needs something from that to properly digest his meals?"
"If his behaviour has changed that much it could be an instinctive adaptation," Bruce agreed.
It made sense and it was the first thing that had since Loki threw up in the sink. Tony still didn't want to think about that.
"I have samples of..."
"Don't say it," Tony interrupted Bruce and made a face; he really didn't want to think about that.
"I can run some tests," Bruce said. "Want to come help?"
It was hard; Tony was not good with bodily waste products, but it was so tempting. In the end science won out.
Chapter 4: Problem Solved
Bruce has Loki's issue figured out and there is an obvious solution which Tony is totally down with.
Sorry this took so long, I had a week where I couldn't use the computer thanks to a shoulder problem and I'm trying to finish my new novel as well, so it all got a bit delayed. Thanks for being patient.
Having spent most of the day in the lab while Thor and Steve looked after a feverish Loki, Tony decided to visit with news. He met Pepper as he came from leaving Bruce.
"Anything?" she asked.
"We're almost sure it's the sex," Tony replied. "Bruce is trying to isolate what it could be."
"Maybe it would have been easier if we'd gone with your first suggestion then," Pepper said as they stepped into the elevators to the private levels.
"If only you'd said that earlier," Tony replied and they smiled a little at each other.
He was feeling more relaxed now they had had a vaguely sensible explanation. If he was being honest with himself, something he was trying out these days, he liked Loki a lot and he had been worried.
"How long do you think it will take Bruce to figure out what Loki needs?" Pepper asked.
"A day or so, probably," Tony replied. "Bruce likes to double check his results."
He didn't have to say why.
"And until then?"
"I'd have said purchase some professional help," he said, "but I can visualise SHIELD's reaction to unsanctioned personnel and Fury would probably order Natasha to take one for the team."
"Well it's not like he hasn't bitten me before," Tony said as various things he had been thinking coalesced inside his brain.
Pepper didn't look remotely surprised; she knew him so well.
"With me," was all she said.
"And he has to wake up for more than five minutes first," Tony added as they reached the correct floor.
That was it, they were agreed and Tony took the lead as they walked to Loki's room.
"Welcome, friends," Thor greeted, "I'm afraid there has been little change."
"Well, we're sure it's the sex," Tony said, deciding that definite was the best way to go where Thor was concerned.
Thor immediately brightened and Tony was loath to admit it, but it was really a bit like the sun coming out from behind clouds. He could sympathise with Loki wanting to kill his brother if it happened a lot.
"Then all that must be done is to find my brother a willing partner," Thor said, standing. "I shall attend to it immediately."
"Hold up, Blondie," Tony said, "yes, but no, because Loki's a secret, remember?"
"But surely this is of more import than..."
"We can't risk it," Pepper said, and the way that stopped Thor said a lot about what Pepper meant to all the Avengers.
"Then how?" Thor asked.
"Well I," he turned and looked at Pepper, "we are willing to volunteer."
Steve who had been listening to the whole conversation looked shocked.
"Is that safe?" Steve asked.
"He bit me before and he was in worse shape," Tony replied, because he had actually thought it through.
"You are willing to do this for my brother?" Thor sounded just a little choked up, which really should have been some kind of warning.
However, Tony still wasn't fast enough to get out of the way and found himself on the end of a very enthusiastic hug from a Norse god, with Pepper sandwiched right next to him. It was quite hard to breathe.
"Thor," a tired, but coherent voice said, "unhand them before they expire."
Tony had never been gladder of Loki's sarcasm.
"Well, Sleeping Beauty," Tony said, doing his best not to see spots as he was freed, "you're looking like shit. So did you hear all that or have you just woken up?"
"I heard," Loki replied and he really did look pale and like death warmed over; "your voice is quite piercing."
The room was dim and the demi-god clearly didn't have the strength to maintain his glamour, but Tony smiled. If Loki had enough energy for sass they were doing okay.
"So," he said, "what do you think? Can you handle me a second time?"
For once Loki did not quip back as had become usual between them and the demi-god's gaze flicked between him and Pepper.
"You are sure?"
"You mean you missed all the flirting, I'm hurt," Tony replied.
"Perfectly," was what Pepper said and that was so typical of both of them that Loki appeared to take both at face value.
"Then I would be pleased to accept your gracious offer," Loki said, almost as if they were forming some sort of treaty; maybe in the head of a prince they were.
There were layers to Loki and Tony was all too aware he had not been exposed to all of them.
Being that he was Tony Stark he didn't do nervous, but he was just a little bit excited. His stomach fluttered with anticipation.
"So, you look like you need a good meal and you've probably been starving since you got here," he launched in. "Like they say, there's no time like the present. Personally I've always been a man of the future, but you get what I mean."
Loki smiled just a little and pushed himself up in the bed. There was strength there, probably greater than any human, but for Loki the movements were weak.
"As much as I am ravenous," Loki said, "I fear I am somewhat disgusting. I must make use of the toiletry facilities before we can engage in any arrangement."
Tony immediately saw possibilities and gave Pepper a quick look. She simply raised her eyebrows slightly, which was a tentative agreement.
"Well, no offense, but you look like you'll take a header in a light breeze let alone a shower," he commented; "how about some help?"
"That would be welcome," Loki said while moving to the edge of the bed.
The demi-god was clearly stronger than his pallor would have suggested, because he managed to stand up, but his stance was nowhere near its usual perfect deportment. Tony didn't move in to help directly because he was all too aware that was more likely to annoy than be welcomed, but he did indicate the way into the bathroom with a dramatic arm flare and allowing Loki and Pepper to proceed him.
"We shall make this room tidy and leave you alone, My Friends," Thor said, eminently cheerful and apparently not in the least bothered by the fact he knew his brother was about to have sex.
"Thank you, Thor," Loki said from just inside the bathroom.
Once he had made it over the same threshold, Tony closed the door and for the first time Loki's demeanour changed. When Loki turned to look at him, leaning against the wall for support, Tony could see hesitation in the demi-god's eyes.
"You are aware that it is likely there is actually no requirement for real sex?" Loki said.
"Yes," Tony said and started to undress.
Loki remained leaning against the wall and looked to Pepper.
"Why take the risk?" Tony asked and smiled one of his winning smiles.
"What Tony is failing to say," Pepper stepped in before Loki could reply to that, "is we are here because we want to be, not simply because we need to be."
For a few moments Loki simply stood there, slowly considering them.
"Do you do this often?" Loki asked in a manner that suggested he was trying not to give offence.
"First time," Tony replied.
The why was written in Loki's face; the demi-god didn't have to actually say it.
"Have you looked in the mirror lately?" Tony asked.
"I am not Thor," was totally not what he expected to come back at him.
"I know what I look like," Loki replied; "I am not the epitome of a great warrior."
"And around here we stopped just going for the warrior type several decades ago," Tony replied. "Sure, Thor is smokin' if you like the type, but muscles aren't everything. I go for devilishly handsome myself."
Loki looked at Pepper still not at all sure. The fact a god, a strikingly handsome god for that matter, had self-image issues really was mind blowing, even if Tony had kind of known it before.
"I think you can see my taste," Pepper said and nodded in Tony's direction; "dark, handsome, slightly insane."
Tony laughed at that and Loki's face was a picture; as usual Pepper had hit the nail on the head.
"See," he said, "both here of our own free will."
At least Loki seemed to accept that.
"Now we just have to have the awkward conversation," Tony decided to leap in with both feet. "One hard and fast rule, no biting Pepper, because we don't know what her metabolic irregularities will do to you."
"The Extremis," Loki replied with a nod.
Tony didn't know how Loki knew that, because it was top secret and he definitely hadn't discussed, it, but then, mind meld, so anything was possible.
"Great, awkward point one, done," he said and grinned, "now awkward topic two: safe sex. From the scans it's pretty sure neither of you can actually catch anything and I know I'm clean, so that just leaves us with the delicate topic of conception."
He looked at Loki, because he knew Pepper was covered.
"If you mention horses I may have to kill you," Loki said in a very dry tone.
"Look I don't know what's legend and what's real," Tony defended himself. "Two years ago I'd never met a god or an alien. I'd rather have one embarrassing conversation now than the patter of little hooves later."
"In this form I am completely, one hundred percent, male," Loki conceded.
"And is your godly mojo likely to bypass human contraceptive methods?"
He had to be sure.
"I do not know about Thor, but I found a spell many years ago that prevents me from being fertile unless I wish it," Loki revealed, which was the last hurdle really.
"Pep, we've found ourselves an enlightened man," Tony said; in his experience a lot of men left contraception to the ladies because they couldn't be bothered.
"I am more impressed all the time," Pepper said and slipped out of her dress in one simple movement.
For a little while Tony forgot how to think; Pepper had that effect on him sometimes, especially when she was being particularly provocative. The fact she was wearing only a tiny thong under her dress had all of Tony's attention.
"Right," he said, shaking himself out of the momentary stupor, "wow, okay, let's get everyone naked."
When he glanced at Loki, the demi-god's eyes were as transfixed as his had been. Definitely no problem about attraction there, but then he hadn't thought there would be. He was already half out of his clothes and as he undressed the rest of the way, Loki removed the t-shirt and boxers which were Loki's only clothing and Pepper bent over to pick up and fold her dress, before slipping out of her thong just as daintily as she had removed her main clothing.
They were all naked.
If Tony had been the type he might have felt a little inferior given that both Pepper and Loki were poster children for perfect bodies, but he wasn't and he was quite happy with his own physical form. Having a blue light in his chest for several years had actually been good for his own body image because after that, nothing was weird. The fact it was gone now and all he had to show for it was some interesting patterning hadn't really changed his mind set.
"Now aren't we an attractive trio," he said and grinned.
"Modest as well," Loki replied and there was an almost smile tugging at the demi-god's mouth.
"JARVIS, start the shower," Tony said and enjoyed the view as he let his gaze roam over both Pepper and Loki to his heart's content.
"Yes, Sir," JARVIS replied and the shower came on, steaming in only seconds.
"JARVIS is watching us?" Loki asked. "I thought there was a privacy protocol."
"There is," Tony replied, "but JARVIS always watches me unless I tell him not to. I can if you want, but I wouldn't mind having a record of this."
He was well aware some people did not like the idea of recordings of their sex lives, but no one had ever accused Tony of lacking in narcissistic tendencies. In reality he didn't keep many of the recordings, but there were a couple he had stashed deep in JARVIS' mainframe. Both were him and Pepper; he had junked all the older ones after he had devoted himself to monogamy.
"You wish to be able to replay whatever happens here?" Loki asked showing no shock, simply curiosity.
"Yeah," he replied; "any objections?"
"No," Loki replied and appeared, at least to Tony, just a little pleased.
He scored one for a fellow narcissist and held out a hand to Pepper.
"Clean and then blood?" Tony asked.
"That would seem advisable," Loki agreed.
"Don't worry about a thing," Pepper said as Tony opened the shower door and allowed Loki to step inside; "we don't want you over taxing yourself."
"I am perfectly capable ..."
Tony silenced Loki by putting a finger on the demi-god's lips.
"Of course you are," he said, "but please, let us play."
One thing that had been very clear from the mind meld was that Loki had a serious inferiority complex and was very touchy when it came to being perceived as weak.
"I meant no disrespect," Pepper said, deftly closing the door and enclosing them in warm heat, "I'm just used to coaxing Tony into these things."
"My apologies," Loki said quietly, clearly off balance.
Pepper smiled and then leaned in to Loki, pausing momentarily to ask permission and then leaning in the rest of the way to give Loki a kiss as the demi-god swayed towards her. It wasn't a very long kiss, but there was something about it that had a great deal of Tony's blood heading south. He knew Pepper and Loki still reacted to each other on a very base level and now they weren't attempting to control it, it was incredibly evocative.
"Wow," he said, "do I get one of those?" because of course his mouth was never out of action unless it was occupied.
As expected Pepper was only too happy to oblige, as was Loki, apparently and Tony felt quite breathless as first one, then the other did far more than peck him on the cheek. He might possibly have been grinning like a loon when both of them had pulled back.
"Clean," Pepper said before he could open his mouth again; "before we get sidetracked."
When Pepper used that tone, Tony didn't argue and reached round for the sponge and the wash cloth sitting on the shower rack, as well at the very expensive shower wash Pepper insisted on for every bathroom. He passed the sponge to Pepper and kept the wash cloth for himself, emptying a good measure of the gel onto it. Loki watched all this with casual disinterest, although Tony couldn't help noticing that Loki's cock was definitely taking notice. Tony had no doubt Loki had been telling the truth when the demi-god said he was totally male, because that was one impressive dick.
"Water pressure down," Tony said, since the very cleverly designed shower (yes he had put together the blueprints himself, the original design had been completely inefficient) already had them all nice and wet.
The shower turned into a light mist that would keep them warm, but not wash off all the soap instantly. With a grin Tony put the wash cloth flat against Loki's chest and began to lather Loki up. Pepper began on their demi-god's back.
It was abundantly clear that Loki was not quite sure how to react, because that blank look Tony knew how to interpret was firmly in place.
"Not used to showering with others?" he asked in a conversational tone as he very much enjoyed watching suds run over Loki's chest.
"We have communal baths," Loki replied, voice devoid of expression, "but I long since chose to maintain my privacy."
An alarm rang in Tony's head at that; clearly they were wandering into body image territory again.
"Can't say I blame you," he replied; "there is nothing worse than a bath full of jocks to totally ruin anyone's mood. Wow, you have really perfect skin."
Because Loki was not maintaining whatever spell he used to protect himself, the skin under Tony's hands was incredibly pale, but it was totally smooth and blemishless.
"I'm jealous," Pepper said, although Tony knew for a fact Pepper had perfect skin as well.
"Cleaning," Tony said, more to himself than anyone else, "must remember, cleaning."
"Having problems, Mr Stark?" Pepper asked, a laugh in her voice.
"Well he's distracting, Miss Potts," Tony defended himself.
"Yes, I know," Pepper returned.
"And he is currently present," Loki added, possibly a little acidly.
"Oh, trust me, Casanova, we know," Tony replied and looked Loki right in the eye; "Pep's just trying to keep me on track. God I want to run my tongue all over you."
Loki went from annoyed, through surprised into pleased in under a second; it was fun to watch.
"Later, Tony," Pepper said and then crouched down with the grace of a dancer and began to work on Loki's lower half.
"Oh boy," Tony said as his mind conjured up so many possibilities; "I think I'll stay up here or I really will get distracted."
He only had so much will power after all.
"What?" he asked innocently when Loki lifted an elegant eyebrow at him. "Pepper's had practice; she's found me semi-passed out in the lab a time or two. She's good at this."
And she was; she had Loki all clean in moments without it being weird at all. Tony would never understand how she did that.
"Would you like us to wash your hair?" Pepper asked as she stood up again.
"Once I am stronger I could simply use magic," Loki replied.
"You could," Pepper said and graced Loki with one of her understanding smiles, "but what would you prefer?"
"I would prefer to feel you fingers running over my scalp," Loki said, "but I fear we may not have time."
"Feeling the effects again?" Tony asked, dropping anything coy for more practical matters.
"I believe so," Loki admitted.
"Right, then let's get this done," he replied. "I'm going to brace myself over here because I really don't want to end up in a heap on the floor, then I'm ready when you are."
He moved to the corner, making sure he had plenty of surface to lean against and then held out his arms in invitation. It must have been urgent, because Loki did not need inviting twice.
There was nothing soft about Loki; the demi-god was all hard lines and muscle and it was difficult to miss when Tony felt it pushed against him in the shower cubicle. Not many men turned Tony on, he was much more a woman's man, but there was something about powerful and lean that did it for him. The fact he was in the shower with two people who could probably rip him apart if they so chose appealed to his sense of excitement and the attractiveness level was off the scale.
Frankly, Tony didn't need anything to help along his arousal. However, as Loki bit down there was the same surge of lust and need he had felt the first time and this time he didn't fight it. He let it wash through him, taking him to a sexual high that blew any sensible thought out of his mind. There was no specific sensation; it was not simulated sex, it was simply as if every neuron in his brain was suddenly wired for abstract sex.
Underneath it he could sense Loki. He knew if he pushed he would end up in Loki's head again, but he didn't, holding himself in the virtual world of the phantom sex. It was incredible as his body hummed with it. He could feel Loki's hands on his body, but his nerves were reacting to non-existent stimulae, not what was actually happening. It was confusing and totally mind blowing.
His cock was achingly hard and he was desperate to come in what could only have been a few seconds. For a man who prided himself on his vast knowledge of sex it was so new in its difference that it had him completely. If this was what Loki had done to those nameless others the demi-god had fed on it was no wonder they hadn't noticed what else was going on.
He definitely tried to swear, but all that came out of his mouth was something a little less coherent than a floundering seal. It would have been embarrassing if it hadn't been so damn good.
How long the experience went on he couldn't have said because it felt like far too long and not even close to long enough all at the same time when his body finally caved to the overwhelming sensations and he came so hard everything went white. It took some deep breaths and some very wanton noises before he felt half ready to return to the real world. When he opened his eyes and blinked he felt himself smiling in a very satisfied manner, which totally belied the quiet concern with which Loki was looking at him.
"Oh I like that," he said, at which point Loki's expression relaxed.
"I can tell," Pepper said and smirked at him from where she was standing against the clear shower wall.
"You have a most gratifying reaction," Loki added and appeared quite pleased with himself.
It was also more than obvious that Loki was feeling a hell of a lot better. The demi-god's skin had more colour, his eyes were brighter and he appeared all together healthy.
"Feeling better?" Tony asked, just in case.
"Much, thank you," Loki replied.
"Maybe we should make sure?" Tony suggested with a mischievous grin.
"One should always test one's hypotheses," Loki replied with an equally roguish expression, "however, I believe we are neglecting our most beautiful companion, which is unforgivable."
"Oh, I can't say I mind watching," Pepper replied and licked her lips.
"But he's right, Pep," Tony said and tried to push himself off the shower wall. "Oh," he said as his legs shook, "actually, I think I'll stay here for a minute."
Clearly his body needed a little time to recover.
"Are you okay?" Pepper asked, slipping out of the game for a second.
"Fine," he assured her, "just need to convince my legs that bearing my weight is a good idea. But don't let me stop you two."
He leered at her just to make sure she believed him and he got the expected eye roll. Loki seemed to take that as his cue and turned away from Tony.
"May I be of service, My Lady?" Loki asked, scant inches from Pepper.
"Oh yes," Pepper replied and Tony saw the spark in her eyes.
Since he was still trying to get his legs to work correctly, Tony didn't so much as move when Loki fell to his knees. It clearly wasn't what Pepper had expected, but the way she pushed herself against the wall, widening her stance just a little as Loki looked up again for permission said everything that needed to be said. Tony found himself biting his lip as he watched Loki lean forward, gently open Pepper with two fingers and then swipe her with his tongue.
Pepper gave a full body shudder that had Tony wanting to reach out and touch her, but he didn't dare let go of the wall yet.
Contrary to popular belief, Tony did not watch a lot of porn. Once upon a time he had, when much younger, but not anymore; he preferred the real thing. When he had been a porn aficionado he hadn't really been overly impressed with men going down on women; it had bored him. He liked doing it, he had just never liked watching it.
This was completely different.
The sight of the drops of the water running down on Loki's back, mixed with the sound of the small sighs and gasps coming from Pepper were intoxicating. Tony couldn't even see that much of the intimate act; just Loki's head moving and Pepper reacting and yet it was so incredibly erotic.
Eventually he couldn't take it anymore and he finally moved. The moment he touched Pepper she moaned and opened her eyes and he could all but feel the heat. There was no danger of overload anymore, but Pepper's eyes were red at the centre.
"Mind if I join in?" he asked as Loki looked up at him as well.
"Please do," Loki replied and Tony carefully eased himself between Pepper and the wall, urging her round a little so there was room.
Pepper leant against him, her back plastered to his front and he wound his arms around her body, gently caressing one breast. As she put her head back beside his, Loki smiled up at both of them and moved back in. Pepper's legs were further spread this time, giving Loki even better access and the way Pepper moaned told Tony, the demi-god was making good use of the space.
His cock was already hardening again (something he was actually surprised at since he wasn't twenty anymore, but was also not arguing about) where it was laying against Pepper's butt and he kissed her neck while carefully teasing first one nipple then the other with his fingers. It was something he knew Pepper liked and he wanted to make sure she had the very best experience he and Loki could manage. Since Loki was clearly doing his part, Tony was not about to fail in his.
He could feel Pepper trembling. That was a good sign, a very good sign, because it meant she was close. Tony had made it his business to learn everything he could about Pepper in their time as a couple; he'd made the mistake of forgetting so many times before and he didn't intend to do it ever again. The ways Pepper reacted when she was touched were some of his most cherished stored facts. They were also some of the most useful.
Lifting one hand, he gently canted her head to one side, stroking with light fingers along her jaw as he nibbled along the shell of her ear. Pepper loved to be caressed and it had taken long hours of patience to find out her favourite spots. In this Tony could be almost totally focused; only that little bit at the back of his brain was doing anything else.
Pepper's trembling was becoming uneven now and he smiled against the side of her neck; he could tell she was right on the edge.
"You are so very beautiful," he whispered quietly and that did it.
The trembling became an all out shudder and Pepper gasped, gripping his hip with one hand almost so hard it was painful. The way she writhed against his cock had his eyes rolling back into his head for a moment and he moaned into her shoulder as she continued to come. There was no way in hell he deserved these moments of beauty and sensual passion, but he was far too selfish to ever let them go and he held Pepper gently as she rode out her orgasm. Loki didn't stop what he was doing either, continuing to drive Pepper on until she whimpered and tried to draw back.
"Oh god," Tony said as his cock was very firmly trapped between their bodies.
"Yes?" Loki responded, coming to his feet in what could have been one thoroughly annoying, graceful movement.
However, the superior smirk Loki was trying to keep in place was twitching into a real smile and Tony suddenly understood why Loki didn't make a habit of bedding everyone in Asgard. Loki's guard was at least partially down; it was as clear as day, and Loki hadn't even been the one coming.
"I could get used to this," Pepper said and reached out, pulling Loki towards her and kissing him very passionately.
This time the way she pushed back against him had Tony thinking it was one hundred percent deliberate and he wasn't about to complain.
"Shall we take this somewhere more comfortable?" he asked, because his head was now full of vivid mental images and a shower cubicle, no matter how big, was restricting to trying them out.
By mutual agreement they finished washing off and then climbed out into the bathroom as JARVIS shut off the water. However, Tony never had a chance to reach for a towel. Loki waved his hand, his eyes flashed green and Tony shivered from head to foot. It was only as the shiver passed that he realised he was completely dry.
"Neat trick," he said, grinning, "must be useful when it rains."
"Thor always seemed to find mud when it rained," Loki replied; "it is less useful then, although somewhat amusing. His armour once completely seized."
The mental image of Thor covered in dried mud all but rigid was undeniably funny so Tony laughed. He would have paid money to see it for real.
"Don't suppose you have a picture of that in the family album?" he asked hopefully.
"Not precisely, but I should be able to recreate the moment visually when we are not so busy," Loki replied.
"Oh hell yes," Tony said.
From the look of things the spell hadn't just dried either, it had styled as well because Pepper's hair was arranged exactly the way she had had it before the shower and Loki's long hair was dry, clean and pulled back in a braid.
"Bedroom," Pepper said and then gave him a great view by walking towards the door.
He let Loki follow first and was rewarded by another fantastic view, at which point he decided to catch up before he missed anything.
"Okay, awkward conversation number two," he said as he followed Pepper and Loki into the other room; "I think I know the answer to this, but I'm going to ask just in case. Loki have you ever had sex with a man?"
"Yes," Loki replied, "more than once."
"Cool, do you prefer pitching or catching?"
"I have never trusted another man enough to catch," Loki said, without trying to pretend the language was confusing.
Those were the answers Tony had been expecting and he was perfectly okay with that.
"However," Loki continued as Tony opened his mouth to respond, "I would not be averse to trying something new."
That was a surprise and Tony had to rearrange his mental map a little. He gave Loki a nod, because that statement definitely deserved an acknowledgement, but he didn't want to embarrass the other man by actually talking about it further right that moment. He was pretty sure that from Loki something along those lines was the ultimate compliment.
"And, Pep, what are you in the mood for?" he asked before he could say something stupid and wreck the whole moment.
Walking over to the side of the bed, Pepper sat down and then looked back at both of them with a smile.
"I think I mentioned how much I enjoyed watching you two in the shower," she said, "and I'm feeling so very relaxed at the moment. Why don't you start?"
The little smile on her lips and the way she stretched her long legs onto the bed had him biting his tongue in anticipation. If Pepper wanted a performance, a performance she would have.
He glanced over at Loki and lifted his eyebrows and Loki twitched an eyebrow back; Tony took that as an okay. He was pretty good at speaking Loki after the mind meld and then two weeks to figure out what was correct and what was just his brain filling in gaps he hadn't known were there.
"What would you like to try first?" he asked, stepping into Loki's personal space.
"What are your views on foreplay?" Loki asked.
"Always fun, sometimes necessary, sometimes not," he replied with a grin.
"Would you mind if this time it was not?"
"Given what we've just been doing, hell no," he said.
Loki did the whole handwavy, glowy eye thing again.
"Then I believe I would like to feel you inside me as quickly as possible," Loki said, which sent all sorts of messages straight to Tony's cock.
"Well you'll need some prep," Tony replied; "no skipping that part between guys."
"That is what I just did."
"What even the stretching, because there I'm not down with hurting people?"
"All of it," Loki assured him.
The idea that Loki had just prepped himself for Tony with a spell was surprisingly arousing and Tony felt slightly weak at the knees. He had had no idea that could be a kink.
"Lube?" he asked.
"Taken care of."
"Okay," he said, "then I'm all yours. How do you want to start?"
Loki didn't reply and simply climbed onto the bed on his hands and knees. Tony could so work with that and followed Loki's lead.
He could barely believe what was on offer. It wasn't often he had to mentally take a step back and pinch himself and the last time had been when Pepper finally said yes, but he was having one of those moments right that second. Loki was right there, ass in the air, legs spread, offering him something Loki hadn't offered to anyone else and for a second he doubted his right to take it. It didn't last long, after all he had the biggest ego in the room, but for a moment he hesitated.
The spell Loki had used was good. As Tony pushed in he slid into tight heat, but there was no tense resistance.
"Oh god," he said, enjoying the slick warmth even as the back of his mind wondered what it would be like if Loki used the spell on him.
He couldn't help it, even as most of his brain focused and the very real, very intense sensations of the present, the rest had to speculate.
"You okay, Snow White?" he asked.
Loki kind of hummed in return, a low rumbling sound that Tony felt as well as heard. It almost sounded like a yes, but it also had a 'oh my god what is happening' quality that he had experienced himself on occasion when trying new things. He could only imagine how weird it could be finding new experiences after being alive nearly a millennium.
"I think that was a yes," he said, running his hands soothingly over Loki's back, "but, sorry, gonna have to get a definite from you before I carry on."
"Yes," Loki said in a very tight tone.
"Okay," he replied, "just let me know if anything's too much."
Loki hummed again, but this time Tony took it as agreement. He glanced over at Pepper who smiled at him approvingly. Holding Loki's hips he carefully pulled out a short way and slowly pushed back in. His eyes fluttered closed as the wonderful sensations that sent around his body. Some people would have thought him too egocentric to recognise what a privilege he was being given, just how much trust was being shown, but he wasn't and it meant a great deal. For Tony there were two types of sexual encounter; those that meant something and those that were just some fun. This one meant something and that made it all the sweeter.
He knew he was good at sex and that wasn't just ego talking. He knew, because he had made sure to learn how to be good at sex. Asgardians or Aesir as Loki had not so patiently explained to him seemed to be put together pretty much like humans. Bigger, stronger, denser and with incredible longevity, but anatomically almost the same, so Tony had hopes he knew exactly what he was doing.
After a couple more slow thrusts he started to feel Loki relaxing into the whole thing more and so he changed his angle. A very appreciative moan was his reward.
"There," Loki said, tone just oozing sex, "again."
"Your wish is my command," Tony replied, perfectly happy to play to a toppy bottom if that's how Loki wanted it.
It was good, in fact it was more than good as far as Tony was concerned and the noises coming from Loki suggested it was a-okay for him as well. However, as much as Tony was enjoying the view of pert ass and smooth, wide shouldered back as he moved in and out of Loki's perfect body, he wanted more. Loki was a very guarded individual and Tony wanted to savour every opportunity to see that guard come down.
Waiting until he was sure he had Loki well in the zone, then he pulled out. It was probably unfair, but he liked to play his advantages.
"Why did you stop?" Loki asked and there was just the slightest touch of a whine in the demi-god's tone.
"Because I want to see your face," he replied, giving Loki's ass a good squeeze. "If you would be kind enough to turn over I'll be more than happy to continue."
For a second Loki hesitated, but then did as he was asked. It took a little rearranging, but shortly Loki was spread on the bed with him between those long, lean legs. Loki looked slightly less sure about being on his back for a definition of unsure that was a vague tightness around his eyes, but Tony could see the signs. There was something decidedly more intimate about face to face, so Tony got the issue, but he wanted to see Loki come apart.
"Still okay?" he asked, just to make sure; he had no intention of being an asshole if this made Loki too uncomfortable.
A nod came back.
"Thank god," he said, "because you're irresistible and I might have had to go throw myself off the balcony if you'd said no."
All that pale flesh just begging to be touched had his complete concentration.
"That would have been most regrettable," Loki replied; "I would have missed your constant prattle."
"Oh really, is that all?" Tony said and took that for the challenge it was.
In short order he lifted Loki's legs and pushed back in. Loki almost managed to totally muffle his response, but there was a gratifying instant of sound.
"I think," Pepper entered the conversation and Tony realised she had moved from her position at the edge of the bed, "you two are trying to make this a competition."
She ran a hand down over Loki's chest, dallying around his midriff and dancing her fingers a little lower.
"But," she added, "it should be about enjoyment."
Tony suspected what she was about to do, but that didn't stop him making a rather inarticulate sound as Loki tightened around him when Pepper reached out and wrapped her fingers around Loki's cock. It made an interesting chorus with the noise Loki made at the same time.
"Now," she said, just running her thumb over the head of Loki's cock, but which in turn make Loki's insides twitch and caused yet more pressure on Tony's dick, "which of you is going to come first?"
Frankly Tony didn't care if the game was to come first and win or hold out and win, he had to move. The delicious pressure as he pulled out and then slid back in was what he desperately needed as Loki's movements heightened his arousal, so he gave in and did it. Pepper was right, this was about enjoyment. He was damn well enjoying himself and he wanted Loki to enjoy it just as much. It took him a few strokes, but he soon found Loki's sweet spot again and then all bets were off.
With Pepper working Loki's cock and Tony working Loki's ass there really wasn't any doubt who was going to get off first. It was only fair really, because Tony had already had one earth shattering orgasm. He didn't intend to come again for a fair while or he would be out of the game in ways he did not wish to be out of the game until he recovered. It wasn't as if there weren't other things he could do once his dick was limp, but he had plans. One speedy recovery was not something he was taking for granted and he made a mental note to take a closer look at vampire bites and revival time at some point.
The way Pepper's fingers were moving over Loki's cock made Tony's own cock pulse with arousal and he was damn sure he wanted to see Loki come in a big way. The problem was Loki was trying to keep control; it was obvious and that was no fun.
"You're ours," he said staring directly into Loki's eyes, "for right here, right now, you're ours, Loki and we're going to take you apart and put you back together. Then we'll let you do the same to us. Let go, Lover and be all ours."
Loki made a small almost incoherent sound. It wasn't much, but Tony saw more of Loki's mental armour dropping away. He pushed on and Pepper lowered her head, kissing over Loki's chest as she worked Loki's cock with her hand.
"Please," Loki asked, voice tight.
"What do you need?" Tony asked.
"More," was the insistent response.
It was an easy request. Tony upped his pace and Pepper did something that made Loki arch into her touch. There was a distinct possibility that with the strength differential what Tony had been doing was far too gentle for Loki's taste because at the increase in intensity Loki began to respond significantly. Of course it could have also been that Loki was finally letting go.
When he finally got to see Loki come apart it was as magnificent as Tony had hoped. There was something so open and so free about Loki's expression for those few seconds as the demi-god bucked under their ministrations and Tony soaked it all in. He had glimpsed beneath the mask when their minds had touched and now he was seeing some of those layers for real. It was satisfying on more than just the physical level.
"Holy fuck," he said, collapsing on the bed beside Pepper to get his breath back.
Loki was just lying there with his eyes closed looking the most relaxed Tony had ever seen the demi-god, which included unconscious. Tony laced his fingers with Pepper's as he watched Loki slowly rebuild a semblance of control until finally Loki opened his eyes and looked at them both.
"Thank you," Loki said and Tony could already see walls going back up.
"Oh, wait until Pepper has had her way with you," Tony said, before those barriers could click into place. "I didn't know what hit me the first time."
Loki looked interested, Pepper just smiled and Tony wondered if he could get someone to deliver an energy shake without interrupting what they were up to. He was looking forward to finding out just what demi-gods knew about sex.
Tony woke up from the best night's sleep he had had in, well possibly years. Yawning, he moved and felt everything he had been doing the previous evening written in the aches and strains in his body and smiled broadly. That had been the best night of sex he had ever had and he was Tony Stark; that was like saying Da Vinci had out done the Mona Lisa.
He was facing away from the rest of the bed and one of Pepper's legs was laced between his, so he extracted himself carefully and rolled over. Loki sitting up against the headboard, carding his fingers gently through Pepper's hair was not quite what he expected to find. There was something of a wistful expression on Loki's face.
"Morning," he said quietly so as not to wake Pepper.
"Good morning, Tony," Loki replied and gave him something of a sad little smile. "I thank you most gratefully for allowing me this. I have not felt so at peace in several centuries."
And wasn't that a loaded admission.
"Our pleasure," Tony said, wondering where Loki's melancholy was coming from.
"I will leave now, if you wish," Loki said and Tony caught up.
"Well no, on two counts," he replied instantly. "First of all, this is your room and second, what the hell for? This wasn't some great sacrifice and we enjoyed you as much as you enjoyed us. Why would we want you to leave?"
"You are committed," Loki said, "surely, now that I am recovered, you would not wish..?"
"You were recovered after the first bite," Tony interrupted and pointed out what Loki was apparently missing; "if this had been all about that we'd have stopped then. I'm not going to pretend I know where this is going; just ask Pep, I suck at these things, but you definitely, one hundred percent, totally do not have to leave."
Tony was quite proud of himself; that hadn't sounded corny once.
"What time is it?" Pepper asked and sleepily peered at him from where her head was up against Loki's hip.
"The time is 4:11 and twenty two seconds, Ma'am," JARVIS replied.
"Thanks JARVIS," Tony said, pleased with his AI.
"Not at all, Sir," JAVIS replied.
"Too early," Pepper said, closing her eyes again. "Go back to sleep."
Tony looked at Loki and Tony decided neither of them was in the mood to argue.
They were late for breakfast because when Pepper woke up she mentioned having a shower and that lead to all of them having a shower, at the same time, which led to other things, but they did eventually make it to the communal kitchen. Loki seemed much more at ease, clearly their early morning discussion had had the desired effect, and Pepper seemed perfectly happy, so Tony was happy as well.
"Brother, you are recovered?" Tony heard Thor ask as Loki walked in first.
"Completely," Loki replied.
"There's food keeping warm in the oven," Steve said, just as Tony entered the room and he sent up a mental thank you to the deities on high that they had Steve in the tower.
Sometimes Tony went with his shakes for breakfast, but he was in the mood for something much more substantial. In fact he was ravenous.
"Thanks, Cap," he said, "I could eat a ravenous bugblatter beast of Traal."
"I do not believe I have heard of one of those," Thor said as Tony made a beeline for the coffee and food. "What is this beast of which you speak?"
"It is an incredibly stupid creature from which a Vogon would not save his grandmother without orders signed in triplicate," Loki said without missing a beat.
Tony looked round at that, surprised and Loki just smiled.
"Your brain is full of the most random information," was all Loki replied and promptly stole Thor's last pop tart, which was, unsurprisingly, a chocolate one.
"Vogon?" Thor was looking confused.
"They are both from a book," Pepper intervened before Tony and Loki could get Thor believing anything fun; "they're fictional."
"Ah," Thor said, nodding and Tony thought the blond god might have been putting on the misunderstanding, just a little.
It was all very cosy and kind of nice and it had Tony looking round for the alien attack or the gas grenades, because it was never that calm in the tower.
Bruce insisted on running scans on all of them first thing after breakfast, but they were all in perfect health, so they escaped pretty quickly. In fact Bruce had said Tony was in better shape than he'd been the week before; who knew vampire sex was actually good for him. He all but bounced into his workshop ready to just tinker with his latest suit.
His metabolism was acting like he was thirty again, he had a super girlfriend and a godly boyfriend, what was not great about that? Which of course was the thought that brought his whole brain to a halt. He was getting ahead of himself, way ahead, but then he had always been ahead of the curve.
Loki was still a wild card and Tony knew getting comfortable with the idea of the demi-god in his life was probably a recipe for disaster, but it felt right. He'd spent his life going with what felt right even when it was dangerous.
"JARV, do you think this could work?" he asked as he picked up the glove he had been working on.
"To what are you referring, Sir?" JARVIS enquired.
"Me, Pep and Loki."
"I'm afraid I have little experience with relationships, Sir," JARVIS replied. "However, that being said, within my frame of reference, the arrangement has potential."
Tony smile; he could work with potential.
"I will also add, Sir," JARVIS told him; "Miss Potts is currently smiling in a similar manner to you while at her desk and the younger Mr Odinson is mercilessly beating the older Mr Odinson on the games console in their main room, but his smile does not seem totally appropriate for simple bloody victory."
Tony grinned even more. He had no idea what he was really doing, but then he rarely did, all he was sure of was this was new and had at least thirty percent of his attention. For him that was huge. The present Loki had given him had another ten percent and the rest was everything else he had on the go. What would come next was a question he had no answer to, but he was looking forward to figuring it out.