Tony Stark was at a meeting. Surprising, huh?
When he had decided to make Pepper his CEO, he thought his days of constant, long and boring meetings were over. And for a while that was the case. But after Extremis, and after they broke up, it seemed she enjoyed forcing him to attend these meetings more often than strictly necessary.
They had ended their relationship on good terms, or so they claimed at the time. Tony managed to neutralize the effects of Extremis in a few months, and Pepper had been grateful but she had started to act different shortly afterwards. It was just a matter of time before she said that dooming “we need to talk”.
The rest, as they say, is History.
Pepper and him were still friends. They still told each other (almost) everything. Maybe this suffering wasn’t intentional, Tony thought. This was when he realized he wasn’t paying attention at all. But then, everyone at Stark Industries knew that was his standard behavior, so he decided to stay stuck thinking of the past.
Thinking of what happened after that. For example, the creation and destruction of Ultron… Vision - which, damn, made him miss JARVIS like crazy sometimes. Friday was as useful, but it wasn’t the same, okay?
Even more recent, the fucking war that split the Avengers, the newfound knowledge of his parents’ killer identity and the currently missing Captain America. It seemed like a bad idea to think about it. Doing so always ended in him trying to track Steve down or managing to drink himself stupid, waking up the next day with a killing hangover and his face full of dried tears.
Yeah, definitely not going there right now.
He was pulled from his thoughts when his phone beeped. When he pulled it out of his pocket, he read the message Friday had sent to his phone.
Recent sighting of war criminal Loki in New York.
He frowned. Last he had heard from Thor, Loki had died in some realm while helping him to save the world from some alien threat. He was sure of this, as he had heard Thor’s sad words more than once, every time he felt nostalgic and told his ‘brothers in arms’ about Loki’s honorable death.
So how was that possible? Only one way to figure it out.
Tony rose from his seat, earning himself a few glares. Oops, it seemed like he had interrupted something. “Sorry, something urgent has come up,” he shrugged. “Hero stuff, you know how it is.”
Without waiting for an answer, he left the meeting room. As soon as he did so, he called Friday. He definitely needed a more instant way of communication with his AI. The only advantage was that an AI would always answer your calls before the first ring was over.
“Friday. Tell me where Loki was sighted and prepare my suit, I’ll reach the tower soon.”
“No need, sir. Loki was seen in New York, and he is moving towards the tower right now.”
Well, this day was full of surprises, wasn’t it? Tony walked faster towards his car. “Oh, great, maybe he is planning to visit me,” he exclaimed sarcastically.
“I don’t believe that is ‘great’, sir.” Friday replied immediately, making Tony sigh. Friday had a thing or two to learn about figured speech.
“Keep an eye on the security systems on the tower. If he does something suspicious, activate the emergency protocols, okay?”
He was used to driving around at high speeds in New York. However, this time the ride seemed infinite. Tony knew this was just his brain trying to delay the inevitable, so he just concentrated on reaching the tower as soon as he could. When he got there, he wasn’t surprised – or maybe he was, but he wasn’t about to admit it – to see someone waiting at the entrance.
Loki was wearing a black suit, which made a flattering contrast between the dark fabric and his pale skin. Tony hated to admit he looked damn good in it. If he didn’t know him beforehand, he would’ve thought Loki was just a very well dressed man taking a break before resuming his walk, or something stupid like that. Maybe this superficial calmness made him park right next to Loki and call out to him.
“Hey, Rudolph!” he yelled. When Loki looked up immediately, Tony was 100% sure this really was the God of Mischief. “Fancy seeing you here,” he continued, trying to sound as casual as he could.
“Stark,” was Loki’s greeting. “I have come to speak with you.”
A day full of surprises. Ha! Called it, Tony thought quickly, allowing himself a second of internal bragging. “Not here,” he replied out loud, reaching the passenger door to open it. “Hop on, let’s talk somewhere else.” And really, where had this easy-going mood come from?
Loki glanced cautiously at the sleek car and sighed, muttering something that Tony wasn’t able to hear. After a second, Loki walked to the car and sat next to Tony, closing the door. When the door was closed, Tony stepped on the gas and they were off.
They drove in silence for a few moments, before Loki decided to speak up. “You don’t seem surprised by my presence,” he noted.
Tony shrugged, both hands on the wheel. “You’ve missed some things while you were supposedly dead,” he replied. “Somehow, finding you here and looking for me is the least of my worries.”
“Is that so?” Loki questioned, smiling a little. “Now I’m curious.”
“That makes two of us,” Tony exclaimed. “Okay, I’m starving. I say we get some food and we can talk then,” he suggested.
The trickster arched an eyebrow. “I believe we are talking right now.”
“Hah, that’s clever,” he rolled his eyes. “You know what I meant.”
Loki sighed. “As you wish, then.”
It was surprisingly difficult to find a good place to take a demi-god to. Especially when said god was still remembered for the incredible damage he caused to New York. So any concurred restaurant and fast food places were immediately out. It was way too early for any bar to be open, so the best – and only – choice was a café.
He soon found a small café apparently empty at the moment. He parked near it and Loki got out of the car before he could say anything, reaching his side to wait for him.
“Move along, Stark. I don’t have your time,” he snapped.
“Hey, you’re the one that came to talk with me!” he protested, making sure of taking a long time getting out of the car, to annoy Loki even more. “Relax, the world isn’t going to end,” he joked. Loki frowned, making Tony do the same. “The world is not ending, is it?” he prompted.
Loki sighed. “Let’s talk inside,” he said instead of answering the question.
They settled quite quickly in the café, Tony ordering the strongest coffee and the greasiest food they had available, which turned out to be a sandwich. Tony couldn’t hide his disappointment at this, making Loki snort from where he was sipping on his own coffee.
“Yeah, keep laughing,” Tony said, pointing at his coffee. “I’m sure you just ordered the first thing you saw on the menu,” he accused him as he led the way to a table.
Loki grinned and followed him. “Even if I did, you have no way to prove it,” he taunted before clearing his throat. “Now, I must discuss with you the creation of an alliance between Asgard and your Avengers.”
Tony was glad he wasn’t drinking or chewing at the moment, or else he would’ve surely choked on it. “Fuck, at least let’s sit down first!” he muttered under his breath before speaking out loud. “Sit down, Rudolph. And you better explain this well. Does Thor know you’re here?” he asked, sitting down.
Loki sat down too and made a face. “Thor is the one that sent me here. He is… occupied back in Asgard and couldn’t come himself to negotiate. I told him you would refuse to even listen to what I had to say.”
“Well, I’m listening,” Tony pointed out, and then he frowned. “But I should tell you something first.”
Loki looked at him, waiting for the rest.
“The Avengers are… kind of done.”
The god glared at him. “Do not make such ridiculous excuses,” he snapped. “If your answer is no, you would do better saying so.”
“No, I’m serious!” Tony exclaimed, raising both hands to placate him. “I told you! You missed a lot in your… absence.”
Tony looked at him for a few seconds and sighed. Why the hell not? “Well, I guess you have to know the whole story,” he breathed in deeply. “Between fighting against bad people and saving the world, the government decided that we were too dangerous to do as we wished,” he laughed. “And you wouldn’t believe it, but I agreed! So they made these accords that they wanted us to sign. Basically…” he started moving his hands around to explain better, “…the Avengers would’ve gotten a new boss to tell us where we could and couldn’t go.” He paused, taking a moment to eat.
“So all of you agreed,” Loki said, frowning. “I fail to see what is wrong with that.”
Tony swallowed his food, trying to keep his clever mood on as he remembered all that mess. “Not all of us,” he quickly corrected him. “Some time before that we acquired two new Avengers, and one of them couldn’t control her magic powers during a mission, which made people realize the disaster we left everywhere we went, ever since New York,” he pointedly looked at Loki after saying this, expecting a reaction. Maybe boredom, or even some evil glee.
What he didn’t expect was the amazed look on Loki’s face. “A mage joined your team?” he asked, unbelieving.
“Yeah,” Tony smiled. “Her name is Wanda,” he didn’t know why he was explaining more than was required, but he didn’t care. “She was against us at first,” he omitted saying exactly why. “But she and her brother joined us in the end. She is quite temperamental but all of us were fond of her, I think.”
“She has a brother?” Loki questioned, and seriously, that was the bit he was interested on? “Does he also possess magic?”
“He’s dead,” Tony informed him to avoid further questions.
Loki frowned but nodded. “What of the second addition, then?”
“Ah, that’s…” he tried to find the best words to explain. “a little difficult to explain.”
“As if that would stop you,” Loki quickly replied, challenging him.
“Alright. After New York, I wanted to create something that would help us finally achieve world peace.” Loki snorted loudly and Tony sighed. “Yeah, probably a bad idea, right? But I was feeling confident at the moment and…” he made a big gesture. “…Ultron was born.”
Loki rolled his eyes at the name. “From the state I have seen Midgard, I will assume this creation of yours didn’t work as you expected.”
“You’ve got it right,” he replied with a big and fake smile. “Ultron thought the biggest problem with humanity were humans themselves and-”
“Well, your creation was right.” He was interrupted.
“Shut up.” Tony didn’t waste time thinking whether telling a god to shut up could be considered a reckless thing to do, continuing before Loki could cut him off again. “So! Ultron was not exactly physical at the beginning,” he explained. “He got a robotic body but he managed to destroy JARVIS before that. JARVIS was my AI, he was present in my buildings and my suit,” he gave a quick explanation when he saw the confusion on Loki’s face.
“Ah, that voice that came out of nowhere,” Loki said. Tony nodded.
“Yeah. But turns out JARVIS wasn’t destroyed but merely hiding. We stole a synthetic body that Ultron planned to use and I did another creation with JARVIS in it. The result was a mix of JARVIS and Ultron, he called himself Vision and helped us destroy him.”
“You are a fool.”
“What? Why?” Tony was surprised by the sudden comment.
Loki huffed. “Your first creation was a complete disaster and you honestly thought your second creation would defeat the first?” He laughed and shook his head. “It’s a miracle it didn’t worsen the situation.”
Tony shrugged. “Well, desperate times and all that,” he justified himself. “Anyway, Vision was the second addition. Also, the battle against Ultron made another mess, so we had a lot against us when the accords were made.” He took a sip of his coffee and made a face when he noted the liquid was already cold.
Loki noticed this and raised a hand to touch Tony’s cup. Tony curiously drank again and couldn’t help but hum when he tasted the made-hot coffee. He felt thanking Loki for warming his coffee was a ridiculous notion and decided to acknowledge the favor with a nod. Loki nodded back and Tony took this as a motion to continue.
“My friend Rhodey was on my side, along with Vision, a king that was secretly a superhero, a smart kid I found on Queens and Natasha,” he counted each one with a finger of his hand. “Even if Natasha decided to switch bands at the end,” he muttered.
Loki looked definitely interested. Maybe he was thrilled by the chaos he had caused and been through. “And the rest?” he prompted.
“They went with the good Captain,” Tony answered. “One would think with his ideas of being good he would be okay with the accords, but he wasn’t,” he frowned. “By then, he had found his long lost friend, which made him all aggressive and stuff. And hey,” Tony perked up with sarcasm. “Guess what?”
“I don’t know,” Loki replied. “But I am sure you are about to tell me.”
“Spoilsport,” Tony laughed. “I’ll tell you anyway. Turns out that Barnes – that’s Cap’s best friend, by the way – was the man that killed my mother.” And my father, he didn’t say. Because Tony didn’t even had that much affection for him and he was aware of Loki’s daddy issues. Tony noticed the expression on Loki’s face darkening until it became so overwhelmed he had to look away.
It was then that he remembered the other tragedy Thor had spoken of. He had mentioned the fact among his recap of what had happened back in Asgard. Contrary to the rest of the story, Thor had only said his mother was killed the first time he told them about the Dark Elves attack.
“Judging by your face, I assume Thor told you what happened to our mother.” Tony looked up at Loki, and he noticed the expression from earlier was gone, replaced by a neutral, nothing-happened-here face. “Spare your ideas of sentiment and don’t you dare say you are sorry,” he threatened.
“Why?” he blurted out, gaining a glare from the trickster. “I mean, you must know that here we often say sorry to show our condolences when somebody dies,” he explained in a rush, trying to solve the dispute before it became a proper fight.
“I don’t need to tell you the reason, Stark. Would you like me to say I am sorry about that Barnes person killing your mother?” Loki answered in a challenge, his expression showing that he knew he had already won.
Because he was right. Tony would not like hearing that. Even from Loki, who must understand what it feels like to lose your mother, even if his died recently when Tony’s had been gone for years. He would hate to hear him say “I’m sorry”, because he couldn’t apologize for something he knows nothing about.
“Sorry,” he found himself saying, surprising both of them. He ignored he had said that and went on. “I had to say it because it’s one of the reasons I ended up hating Steve, and that’s why at the end we fought and he left with Barnes to who knows where. After some time passed, he sent a stupid phone and a note to contact him if I ever needed him,” he scoffed.
Loki tilted his head. “And do you really hate Captain Rogers?”
Tony sighed. “Not really. I thought I did, when I first found out. But months have passed by and I might hold a grudge, but I wouldn’t say I hate him.”
And fuck, he hated himself for being honest with Loki. It might come back to get him killed, but right now, speaking with someone actually neutral to all that had happened was comforting in a twisted way.
Loki looked at him for a moment, and Tony felt self-conscious all of the sudden. What, he wanted to say. Did I fuck up that bad that the God of Chaos has no words for me?
“I must say,” Loki finally spoke, pausing for a moment, surely just to be dramatic. “Your ways are reckless but I believe you did the best you could do.”
And Tony… laughed. A lot. He laughed so much that Loki started to look offended. Before the god had the idea of standing up and leaving, Tony eventually stopped laughing to explain himself.
“Sorry, sorry,” he gasped. “It’s just that… God, that sounded so fake!” He laughed some more. “I think you mean it and everything, in your way, but what you said sounded so not you.”
Loki stared at him, and really, why does he do that so much? Finally, the god started smiling until it turned into a smirk. “You are quite observant, Stark,” he admitted. “You should be grateful I attempted to be comforting towards you,” he made a face at the word. “Your ways are reckless, indeed. I have no means to know how much of the disaster was caused directly by you, but you are not dead nor imprisoned, so your wrongs mustn’t have been that bad.”
Tony narrowed his eyes. “I don’t know… that still sounds somehow forced, you know? But I understand, and thanks, I guess,” he replied. He drank the rest of his coffee and put the cup back on the table, standing up. “Let’s go.”
“What? Where?” Loki asked with confusion, standing up slowly.
“To the Avengers compound. We moved houses a while ago, too. And now you know why the Avengers are split, sort of. Since you mentioned an alliance, I thought maybe we can get them all together if your cause is good enough,” he shrugged. “I haven’t talked to some of them in a while, so now I have a reason to do it,” he justified himself.
Loki huffed. “If you had told me where you lived now, I would have met you there. There was no need for this,” he commented, following Tony towards the exit.
“I know,” Tony replied, grinning, “I just needed to see if you really hadn’t come to try to conquer us again,” he said offhandedly. “When we get to the compound, it’s your turn to spill the beans,” he warned, opening the passenger’s door. “Get in.”
Loki rolled his eyes but walked closer to the door. Tony was confused when he noticed his hand was posed over his stomach. He was about to make a clever remark about him not being able to stomach being in his presence but then he watched as Loki smoothly got inside the car, subtly opening the button of his blazer as he sat down.
Tony was speechless. That was so fancy, even he forgot to do that sort of thing when he was wearing a suit. Not to mention in looked incredibly hot, his mind added. Tony decided to ignore it for the moment. For once, the situation at hand could be more important than attempting to do something about his attraction towards the god. The suit, he decided. It has to be the suit. He sighed as he closed Loki’s door and walked around the car to get in the driver’s seat. He tried not to look at Loki’s relaxed instance, and failed. Once he admitted defeat, he tried to look as stealthily as he could.
Judging by Loki’s smirk, he failed miserably. “Well, Stark, if you expect me to ‘spill the beans’, as you say, then you will feel the need to offer me that drink again.”