Fandom: Avengers 2012, Iron Man, Thor
Pairing: Tony/Pepper/Loki (eventually)
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Marvel et al. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: SPOILERS for Iron Man 3, vampires
Summary: Tony gets an unexpected visit from Loki when the demi-god is supposed to be safely locked up in Asgard. The thing is he's pretty sure Loki didn't have fangs last time they met.
Author's Notes: I know Marvel has canonical vampires, but I don't read the comics and there haven't been any in the movie-verse so I'm just running with whatever I fancy :). Also, I started writing this before the teaser trailer for Thor 2 came out, so it mostly doesn't gel with that. Thanks to Soph for the beta.
Links to other parts:
LJ : Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 (Coming soon)
DW : Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 (Coming soon)
My Fanfic Listings (LJ) | My Fanfic Listings (DreamW)
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.
On to Part 3
This entry was originally posted at http://beren-writes.dreamwidth.org/252295.html.