They were older now.

Still friends, certainly, but even more than that, lovers and - in Tony's case - a widower, or so he had thought, until Frigga had informed the whole court that Loki was, in fact, alive.

Tony had cursed Loki, Frigga, Odin, Thor, the norns, the warriors three, Sif, Sigyn, even Hela and the whole of Asgard. Then he had parted to Midgard, a storm of heat, fire and fury.

He had waited for Loki to show his thrice-damned face before he made his move. Sneaking into the do called Hellicarrier had been easy, merely following Agent Coulson as he entered and ignoring the presence of Pym, Banner, Dyne, Romanoff and the Odinsson. He had headed straight for the cage, glaring at the man the both loved and loathed in equal measure.

"I thought they would've sent the little spy," Loki said, that infuriating smirk on his face. Tony wasn't sure if he wanted to kiss him breathless or punch the teeth right out of his face.

"I'm not at the call of any mortal. I came to see what the fuck happened to you." Tony growled, standing as close as he could to the cage without touching the glass, for fear it would fall.

"Asgard happened to me, isn't that clear?"

"The void you mean." Tony said back, staring as Loki paced up and down the cage. That's what it was, a cursed cage, keeping Loki locked up because his fiancé wanted to be locked up. It was also good that he was there, Tony didn't know what he would do otherwise if Loki wasn't on the other side of the glass. Throttle him probably. "I thought you dead."

"Did you mourn?" Loki asked, mockingly, eyes glinting with malice.

"No, no I didn't." Tony said, satisfied for one miserable moment, to see Loki flinch and to see his facade falter to show the hurt being inside. Tony had worked too damned hard to crack that shell, to see the being inside to be appeased by anything other than Loki's true face shining through. "That's too tame, that's too superficial to describe how it was." Tony growled, remembering the sheer lack of life that had taken hold of him. Hallthoor had even asked for a healer to see to him, to make sure it was still his son and not a golem. "You were my life, you heartless bastard, how do you think it felt? As if someone had ripped yet another part of me, that's how it felt. Don't you dare look at me with that face, don't you dare pretend innocence you fool!" Tony shouted, keeping himself from hitting the glass, least he break it and drop Loki down.

They had never discussed feelings before, not until that one night two days before Thor's coronation, when Loki had asked his hand in marriage. They had never talked about it, until they did. It was brief, there had been no speeches about neverending love, nor poems about their feelings or even songs from the bards telling the world their story. It was simple,a yes or no question which Tony had gladly accepted.

He wondered if he shouldn't have done it, now.

"What do you think you're going to accomplish by doing this? Love? Affection? The throne you think you deserve? Tell me because I'm lost." Tony asked, crossing his arms and looking at the being inside the cage. It was hard to reconcile it with the man he had loved for centuries.

"I mean to rule them, as is my birthright."

"Your birthright was to die you crazy son of a bitch!" Tony roared, aware he might have drawn the attention of Loki's humans. "How utterly blind can you be, or have you not paid enough attention to yourself to realise you're a different kind of Jotünn than what we had even encountered?"

There was a rumble of thunder in the distance, as if it was aware that Loki was no longer alone, Loki grinned at him, trying to put the pieces of his mask back together. They could both hear soldiers and heroes running towards them.

"You were not born to be a king, Lyesmith, you weren't even supposed to be born to begin with!" Tony continued to shout while he saw Pym and Rogers turn the corner while soldiers pointed their guns at them.

Tony levelled them all with a glare, stepping away from the cage. It seemed he couldn't stay away from his trickster regardless of how much he wanted to. He rubbed his face with a hand while he was surrounded by soldiers and human heroes.

"Sir, step away from the prisoner!"

"Sir, I'm gonna ask you to move!"

Tony ignored them, giving Loki a flat stare. "Think about this Lyesmith, you look nothing like Laufey, you look nothing like any Jotünn we've ever seen! Think about what you saw in the mirror and what you saw in the frozen wastelands!" He said, turning his back on Loki and to the heroes around him. "Can I help you gentlemen?" He asked with a sharp, unfriendly grin.

They pointed their guns at him, Tony knew enough from watching Loki that the safety was pulled off, not that they would get much out of shooting him.

"Thorsteinn," came the rumble of thunder. Tony rolled his eyes skyward, waiting for the thunderer's appearance.

"I have already told you my preferred name, Odinsson." Tony stated, legs apart, arms crossed behind his back as he toyed with the swords he had made, the same material he had used for Loki's sword - the one attached to his belt, the one he would give back as soon as his prince came back to his senses.

"Halt, we mean you no harm," he paused, grimacing at his Shield-brother's chosen name, "Tony." Thor said, his right hand up and his left hand over his heart, Asgard's sign for peace.

Tony partially relaxed his instance, straightening and no longer holding on to his swords. "Can I have your word on that Odinsson? Yours and your one-eyed commander?"

Thor agreed easily, moving forward and taking a hold of his Shield-brother's shoulder, he could see the grief that still lingered in his blue eyes, his anger. "Come with us, let us talk."

Tony lifted one finger, turning his face to glance sideways at Loki's cage. "Think about what I have said, Lyesmith, think carefully. After that..." He trailed off, knowing his words would be heard by Loki, 'After that I'll still be here if you need me.'

Without another word he followed Thor out the door of the area, going to the main lab where Banner, Pym and Rogers had gathered along with Romanov and Dyne.

"How have you followed me?" Thor asked, leaning against the metal walls. Tony couldn't help but admire them. It was beyond crude by his standards, however if the need arose it would be an incredible conductor.

"It's not you I'm following, Odinsson." Tony replied, weary, he whipped his eyes, weary of the polluted air surrounding him, as if he was nearing one of Svartheimr's minor cities.

"Loki then?" Pym asked, getting a nod from the Àss. "Do you know why he's here?"

"He's been in the hands of the Chitauri and their master for little over ten months. He's probably trying to escape them somehow and bargained Midgard for it." Tony said, "he's an idiot."

He saw Pym and Bruce grin at him, while Dyne just frowned.

"When you say 'Bargained Midgard'" Romanov started, "what, exactly, do you mean? What he bargained it for? To whom?"

"I've an inkling of what he has bargained, nothing concrete Ms. Romanov, as to whom." he trailed off again, shaking his head. "We can't say his name."

"Tony?" Thor enquired, frowning. "Surely you can-"

"Names have power, Odinsson." Tony interrupted, glaring at the thunderer, "we do not speak his name because we do not want to draw attention to ourselves when the being is already paying a modicum of attention to this planet!" Tony growled. "Asgard's army is not here to defend Midgard, it would be best not to draw attention to an unprotected realm."

"What should we call it then?"

"Grimace or the purple smurf." Tony shrugged, drawing snickers from Dyne and an eye roll from Banner. He saw the light of recognition flare in Thor's eyes along with a crack of lightning nearby. Tony grimaced at him, finger on his lips asking for silence.

"Who are you?" Dyne asked, arms crossed in front of her as she peered at him, the air of superiority clinging to her. She reminded him of Loki in their teenage years.

"I'm Tony, the crazy-bastard's fiancé." He grinned at the uproar, starting with Thor's shout.

(~o~)

He stared at his reflexion on the clear glass, wondering. Tony had no reason to lie to him, what would he gain? What could he gain or loose that he hadn't already lost? Tony had all the notoriety he needed, he had all the infamy he could get, he didn't need the fallen prince for that.

'He could get rid of that infamy if he deserted you.' The Tesseract's voice whispered to him.

But Tony liked the infamy, Loki knew he did. He liked to be known as the Prince of the Forges. He couldn't help but ponder Tony's words, they had hurt, cut deeply into barely healed wounds.

'Your birthright was to die you crazy son of a bitch.'

'You're a different kind of Jotünn.'

'You weren't supposed to be born.'

It had hurt, specially considering who had said those words. It wasn't just Tony who had lost his life, Loki had lost his reason to live; and really, wasn't that much worse?

He stared at his reflection, seeing the blue of Jotunheimr on the glass, seeing the red eyes, the awful signs of his true parentage, he took a deep breath, trying to dispel the images before his eyes. Tony had been wrong, he was of the Jotünn, the awful blue in his skin proof of that.

'How utterly blind can you be?' Tony had asked, had he been blind? Had he really? Could he be objective when the subject was himself? He had had to be so throughout his life, now that he really needed it couldn't be any different, Tony wouldn't hurt him with words the way he had if he didn't have something in mind, something Loki knew might benefit him at the end.

'Look deeper within yourself.' He thought, for once disregarding the thoughts of the Tesseract, The Mind Gem, Thanos!

He tried to recall the Jotünn physiology he'd seen in books, the biggest stature in the nine realms, the freezing temperature below even the Løpt's zero, their heads encased in the ice they were born in, sometimes mistaken for horns.

Loki laughed, hollow, bitter, lifeless. It was ironic Odin and Frigga had gifted him the horns of the bigelsnipe as his symbol, considering what exactly he was and how his-his species was seen, his mind faltered at the words, hissing poison against the jotünn, against Thor and Tony. He hissed back in his mind, keeping the memory of arms holding him down, of fingers playing with his skin, of scorching kisses trailing down his back, keeping everything from the void, keeping his memories of Tony from being torn and tainted by the voice of the Teseract. He focused on the Jotünn, the horned, wild, mindless beasts he had learnt of in his youth.

He snapped out of his reverie as he felt the presence of a human being behind him. He turned, staring at Romanov as she neared his cage. He arched an eyebrow at her presence, he had expected someone else to show up, someone taller, with more muscles and a trimmed beard.

"I will not speak with you, either Tony shows up or you'll remain without my plans and without your beloved." Loki said, eyeing the red headed human with something akin to loathing.

"What do you want for Barton?" Natasha asked and Loki remained silent.

"What can I give you in return?" Loki continued in silence, staring beyond the human, ignoring the tears and pleas falling from her lips, the honey promises that followed, he could see beyond her, beyond her faked pain and the truth of her righteous fury, beyond the hidden uncertainty, beyond her years.

When he focused on her again it was to arch an eyebrow at the futility of her actions. He didn't need to say anything, didn't need to repeat his words to be heard. It was with a final attempt at manipulation - flawless for a human - that Romanov finally left, Loki the blank page unwilling to be written in.

On the other side of the cameras Thor, Tony, Hank, Bruce, Fury and Janet watched. Tony smug at the response, his lover was amazing, even if he was a bag of cats at the moment. The others watched with varying degrees of unease, restlessness growing with the certainty that Romanov had failed to get what they needed: information.

"What can you tell us about Loki?" Fury asked Thor.

"What do you need to know?" Thor replied, expression guarded.

"What are his strengths, his weakness, his current goals, his allies?" Janet asked, counting on her fingers.

"Who does he work for?" Hank added, with a grin at Janet.

"He's after this world because it's under my protection." Thor started, "Loki's jealous, mad at father, mad at me for the slights against his person, imagined as they might be." Thor looked around at the attentive faces of the humans.

A snort from behind him drawing their attention away from the prince and to the Forgerer lurking to the side. The red of his attire different from Thor's, the red of a forge, of fire and ash instead of the colour of royalty as Thor clearly used.

"Yeah, no, you don't get to say that, Odinsson." Tony said with a bitter smile as he stepped up to his (hopefully) future brother-in-law. "You don't get to say they're imagined when you refuse to see it, when you can't even see past your own ego. And you all need to remember what I've just told you." He said, pointing idly to the humans before turning his attention back to Thor.

"I've changed." Thor frowned, his demeanour growing darker, the aura of violence surrounding him.

"No, no you didn't." Tony grinned, it was like watching a shark opening his mouth to attack. "You spend three days on Midgard with a human, Odinsson, if anything her apparent morality rubbed off on you long enough to make you worthy of Mjolnir again. You didn't change, Thunderer, the only thing you're trying to do is get in the chit's pants by transforming your own Æsir morality into a version pleasing to her." His shark-like grin widened as the sound of thunder ricocheted through the skies outside.

Well Barton wouldn't get in for a while, not with the skies like that. Tony still had time before something truly dreadful happened.

"You're trying to mask the visage of violence and genocide by imitating Foster, imagined turning a new leaf, but you haven't. You don't get to say a word about Loki while the murderous beast inside yourself still resides."

"Hold your tongue Thorsteinn!" Thor bellowed, they both noticed the humans stepping away, Fury saying orders on the headset as Banner tried to get away from it all, the green beast lurking just in the corner of his sanity.

"Why? What're you gonna do it I don't? Strike me with the hammer?" Tony grinned, "what do you think's gonna happen if you do Thor?" He shouted, "who do you think's gonna come out of his cage to pour Ragnarok down your heads?"

In a flurry of movement Thor grabbed Tony's throat, throwing him against the table in which Loki's sceptre was, the hammer moving to strike only to be blocked by a sword, the other sword being held against Thor's throat, ready to piece skin.

Tony shifted, feeling the sceptre crack beneath him. Completely by accident of course.

"Do it, I dare you." Tony hissed. They were at a standstill for a moment before Thor backed off with a look of disgust.

"You're not worth it." Thor said with clear loathing dripping from his voice.

"You can be damn sure I'm not." Tony agreed, still smiling, though it was less sharp and deadly than a moment ago. "I'm worth much more than you can possibly think Odinsson!"

He glanced around at the others, eyes settling on Ms van Dyne. He moved forward, bowing to her, a fisted hand above his heart, "Ms. van Dyne would you accompany me to see Loki one more time?"

"What? No! Are you crazy?" Pym intervened, moving to Janet's side, to the obvious irritation of the fashionista.

"Henry, please!" She snapped, placing a hand on his arm. "Why me? What do you need me for?"

"I need you in your smallest form," Tony begun, ignoring the sharp intake of breath somewhere behind him. "I need you to take a look at my lover while we talk. Take a look at the image he projects and the one within."

"What makes you think I can do that?" Janet asking, stepping in front of Henry.

Fury watched the procedures from the corner of the room, not hidden but away from the soap opera unfolding in front of him.

"You're a fashionista, aren't you? Used to showing the right face to the right people? Loki is the same, and I know how my-" he stopped himself clearing his throat, "I know how my lover behaves."

"Still, why not Natasha?" Janet asked again, shaking Henry off and stepping forward.

"Because you can't trust a spy to not do their job; you can't trust a compromised woman to not try and destroy that which would bring her weakness to light. You can, however, trust a woman with no strings attached to the whole drama, you can trust one who's morally good. Good enough to put us brute Æsir to shame." He grinned at her. "Besides, I need a witness for the show we're gonna be putting up. The only one who will be able to see it will be you."

"Well I'm flattered but-"

"But what makes you think I'll allow it?" Fury interrupted, "from what I understand of what you've said, you plan to blind us to the ongoings of the cage, with a dangerous prisoner inside."

"What makes you think you actually have a choice?" Tony asked, frowning. "I'm sorry director but I'm talking about the love of my rather long life here, what makes you think I'll give you any choice on how to treat him? Especially when I'm around to put a stop to it?!" He rolled his eyes at the human, turning back to see Lady van Dyne smiling at him.

"I'll go."

"Janet? Are you sure?" Bruce asked, moving to her other side.

"Yes, yes I am."

"What do you think you'll accomplish with this Thorsteinn?" Thor growled, only to be pierced by Tony's glare, so reminiscent or Loki's it was mildly disconcerting.

"I'll get my lover back, for one," Tony counted on his fingers, staring challenging at Thor. "I'll keep further unnecessary bloodshed from happening, and I'm gonna uncover part of the Titan's plans. I think that's more than enough."

"And if you do then what?" Tony frowned at Pym, did they really have to do this now?

"Then well go back to Asgard, or whatever realm my lover prefers. The idea is to get ready for whatever shitstorm's coming our way and then get the fuck out. This is not the sort of mischief we like to indulge in, Doctor Pym." He grimaced, staring the at the face of strangers around him. "Ms. van Dyne if you would?" He asked, heading for the door.

"Let me suit up and I'll join you." Janet grinned, getting an eye roll from the Æsir.

(~o~)

Tony entered the cage room again, looking to be alone. Loki stared at him for a moment as the room sealed shut behind him. Tony walked around the glass cage, his fingers touching the metal walls causing them to ripple under his touch, the room changing around them until every surface was covered in dark metal, hidden from cameras, sensors and the eyes of intruders.

"Who's with you?" Loki asked, standing where the door to the cage was sealed. They both knew it wouldn't deter Loki if he thought of walking out of it.

"Ms. Janet Van Dyne. She's here as a human witness to our talk."

"And why would we need a witness, afraid of the monster you've bedded for all these centuries?" Loki sneered.

"No," Tony scoffed, offended. "But the mortals do need someone good enough, mortal enough by their standards to vouch for you." He smirked, feeling both Loki and Janet's surprise at his words.

"What are you planning forgerer?" Loki hissed, stepping back from the door.

"To get my lover back." Tony grinned, sharp as a shark and just as menacing. "You see, I still think you didn't quite get it when I said you were a different form of Jotünn. I'm not even sure you believe me." He grimaced then, trying to hide his feelings for Loki, Tony knew he wouldn't succeed no matter how hard he tried. Loki had always been able to see beneath his masks, when not even Halthoor and Malmury were able to. They had know each other for far too long to not know every nuance, to know everything inside and out.

Tony didn't chance the fact his nervousness might be visible to Loki before blurting out "change back to your Jotünn form."

Loki reared back, clearly offended as if he'd been stuck by someone. Tony grinned, gentler and more amused than the situation called for; he was relieved that Loki was still every bit the pampered prince he recalled from their teenage years.

"Change back." He asked again, still grinning, "there's only one human who will see you, I've sealed us off from any sort of feed the humans might be getting."

Loki stared at him, stomach churning in horror. That Tony asked him to- that he knew what Loki was and still asked! He swallowed down his terror and rage, if Tony wanted to see him so be it! It was yet another person to push away, to terrify and scare away from his life. Loki didn't need him, didn't want him. He ignored the way his stomach churned again at the thought, ignored the voice inside his mind saying he was going to loose Tony. He stared into the Æsir's blue eyes as he changed, the cage becoming too warm for him as his skin was tainted blue, his eyes bleeding red, his voice rough when he spoke.

"Is this what you wanted Àss? To see the monster hidden underneath an Àss' skin?" He snarled, stepping away from the door as Tony came closer.

The Forgerer could hear a faint gasp coming from somewhere in his head, he knew Janet was well hidden. He swallowed his own gasp at Loki's appearance. It was different, the deep blue of Jotunheimr's arctic, with even darker marks around his face. He ignored the instinctual flinch of fear running down his spine, this was Loki, this was his Loki!

The being in front of him still looked like an Æsir, still looked like Loki, just tainted blue. He couldn't help but smirk at him pushing his own terror away in order to face down facts, he couldn't help but feel too damn smug about proving his theory right. Oh Loki was a Jotünn alright, just not a full Jotünn. Odin wouldn't be able to hide a full Jotünn without crippling it beyond all recognition. It was fortunate that Odin had apparently ran into a halfling.

"He's gorgeous." Janet whispered, now sitting on his shoulder.

"He is." Tony whispered back, "he's mine." He couldn't help but gloat, the warmth of possession and love burning pleasantly in his chest, he looked different, but to him Loki's appearance was merely secondary, it was not his face Tony loved, it was who Loki was as a whole.

"Are you happy now?" Loki hissed, as far away from Tony as he could without leaving the cage.

Tony snorted, making no effort to hide his appreciation of Loki's body, he had an inkling his love needed acceptance now, and not showing his fear was key to that. "Not exactly thrilled, no." He walked around the cage again, seeing every angle of Loki's, trying to burn the Jotünn blue into his mind. He had no doubt that, if they got away from this, Loki would not let him see his Jotünn form again, and Tony was not sure he would be able to do this again, at least not so soon, he just hoped Loki couldn't see his trembling hands, it was terror and a fierce love coursing through him, all because of the same person.

"You're still beautiful àstvinur." He whispered, knowing Loki would hear it. Trying to convince the trickster, he himself didn't need convincing, it was still his Loki, even if he was in the half skin of monsters, and his Loki was beautiful

"I'm a monster." Loki said back, with the certainty of someone assured of their truth.

Tony shook his head, swallowing his hasty remarks. "You're Loki, son of Laufey, son of unknown, son of Odin and Frigga, brother of Thor."

Loki arched an eyebrow, so he wasn't Tony's anymore, was he? Well no matter, he had known Tony would be disgusted with him, knew Tony was only asking to make sure of the monstrosity lying on his bed sheets at night. The lies about him being beautiful were just that, lies.

'What is the use of a lie in the face of truth?' Loki thought sneeringly to himself. 'What can he accomplish that he hadn't already?' Turning his head he begun to transform in the Àss skin he was so pleasantly familiar with.

"Loki no!" Tony shouted, banging on the door of the glass cage.

"Tony no!" Janet shouted back at him, seeing the glass cage start to crack and the mechanisms under Loki ready to let him drop ten thousand feet. She doubted even an Alien god, if god he was at all, could survive that. "He'll drop, he'll fall down to his death if you continue to do this!" She repeated, more level headed as he stopped banging on the glass, nothing more than a fracture appearing. She could still see the mechanism preparing to drop Loki, though.

It was humbling to see that one man could be responsible for the destruction of cities if they let him. Even more humbling to see another man fighting to get his lover back from the edge.

Janet knew what it was like, she remembered how she herself had been from the time her father had died. She shuddered to think of what might have happened had Henry not been there.

"Let me." She whispered to Tony, easily sneaking up and into the cage, looking at the man who subjugated Stuttgart's high elite so easily. Sitting on the floor, legs spread out in front of him as the pink bled into his skin again. It was someone who could just as easily kill them all to get what he wanted.

"Loki?" She said, going back to her usual size, the fitting black uniform drawing appreciative glances from both males. Well now!

"Who are you?" The alien replied, voice rasp as if he had screamed for ages. Janet supposed he had, if only to himself.

"I'm the Wasp." She smiled at him, an upturn of the lips, a hand on her waist, eyes fierce and kind.

Loki had no knowledge of her, Barton had told him nothing of this woman. He had known Pym, Romanov, Banner, Rogers, Fury and Hill. He had nothing on The Wasp, for now.

He stared at her, weighting what he had done, what he had known and the fact she had already seen his true nature. "What can I do for you, Wasp?" He said voice still raspy, having exhausted himself emotionally with that little showdown for Tony. To show the abhorrence inside of him not only to Tony, but to the woman as well. "Came to mock? To gloat about your Midgardian cage?"

"No, I came to see how you were, you seemed exhausted when you arrived on earth." She smiled at him, though her eyes could not hide how protective she could be of her realm "I doubt the accommodations provided by Barton and King were in any way conductive to rest." She could feel Tony's stare on her back as she talked.

Could feel them both staring at her as if she was the alien, the oddity, and not them, the two aliens of outer space. She would've laughed if the situation wasn't so dire.

"They weren't... Ideal situations, I grant you." Loki said, frowning at the woman in front of him. She reminded him of Sigyn and Sif, all rolled up into one.

"Then I suggest you make yourself comfortable, and let Tony talk." She said, leaning besides him against the cage.

Loki snorted at her though, as if the idea was preposterous in itself. It wasn't though, not really, they had know each other for ages, more than the lives of all the humans in the Hellicarrier.

But he wasn't Tony's, Tony had let him go, Tony had-

The door slid opened at the touch of Tony's fingers, the forgerer walking in with the confidence of someone about to be rejected. He still walked in, though, still sat in front of Loki, trying to see into the lovely green eyes of his prince. He supposed he would have to learn how to love the blood red gaze too. Not that it would be hard.

"You're a halfling." He whispered to the sitting figure in front of him. Wanting to touch but forgoing it. His rage had drained hours ago, when he and the others had been talking around the sceptre. "You're the son of Laufey and some unknown woman. We don't know if Æsir, mortal or Vanir." He could see Loki paying attention to him, face impassive. He ignored his own nerves as he continued with the story. "I'm not sure if the Jotünn Emperor knew about you or not, the mother obviously did... I think, I think-"

"You think I'm the byproduct of rape." Loki smiled bitterly, finally looking at Tony, eyes impassive as he could make under the circumstances.

"Yes." Tony said back, nodding. "I think, whoever your mother was, she left you to die in Jotunheimr." His voice was steady, not the low tone and dropping eyes of pity, nor the inflection of blame. Neutral, Tony was neutral towards Loki and Loki hated him at the moment.

"And you expect me to what? Be grateful to Odin and Frigga?"

"Yes, I expect you to realise you were taken in when you were literally left to die in wasteland that is Jotumheimr." Tony replied calmly looking at Loki and struggling to keep the neutral facade.

"What he means," Janet interrupted, drawing once again their attention, "is that your father saw you on the ice, probably crying due to the circumstances, he saw that you were left out of your biological mother's protection and he took you in, maybe not out of love, maybe due to pity, but he took you in and he didn't have to look after you, he didn't have to watch you grow." She sighed, sitting on the ground, hugging her knees in a blatant show of vulnerability. Tugging a stray hair behind her ear she looked at Loki and at Tony, who gave her an encouraging nod to continue, "from what I understand your father is king, isn't he?"

Tony nodded, while Loki sneered at her letting his eyes turn red so as to scare her as he replied, "Odin is the All-Father, the ruler of all, sitting on Hlidskjalf to oversee all of that which Asgard's lights touch, the father of all Æsir, above even their own blood, everyone's father." Loki recited, though both Janet and Tony could hear the missing part as clear as they could see each other 'everyone's father, but for me.'

Janet let it sink into her consciousness before taking Loki's hand in hers, clearly surprising the Mage as he blinked at her before his facade returned.

"He didn't have to keep you on his household," Janet continued, he could've handed you to another person. I don't know much about your situation, Loki but..." she trailed off, looking at Tony.

"You are loved, Loki." Tony said, kneeling in front of his prince and taking hold of his face.

"You're blind, Thorsteinn." Loki replied, his voice wavering. "I was nothing but the spare, the magician, the ergi." Loki sneered, eyes far away as memories took a hold of him.

"Those who said so are nothing but jealous court jesters, my love, you were-" he hastily corrected himself, seeing Loki's attention back on him, "you are amazingly skilled, in and out of the battlefield, you're the envy of the court not only in Asgard but on all the other realms, you're loved not only by those who call themselves family, you could have literally anyone you ask for, but you're mine."

"What do you mean?" Loki whispered, eyes wide as he stared at Tony.

"I should have told you this when you asked, but I thought you would sneer at me being all sentimental." Tony grimaced but continued, this was more important than his pride. "Do you know how happy you've made me when you asked me to marry you?"

Silently Janet let Loki's hand go, stepping away from the men, the comm in her ear silent as Fury listened to their conversation.

"I recall your reaction later on in my bedroom, yes." Loki smirked, recalling the rather inventive sex they had.

"Not that reaction, you ass." Tony rolled his eyes a fond smile on his lips, aware of Janet leaving them to their heart-to-heart. "Do you know how many times I thought of asking you myself but was afraid you'd say no? And then you just deliver yourself to me as if it's nothing! It was as if all my wishes for Jul has come true in one moment as you handed yourself to me." His thumbs caressed Loki's temples, looking into the green eyes he thought he would never see again. "When you let go, I thought my heart had gone with you, I considered myself a widower until Frigga gave us news that you were alive."

"And now?"

"You're alive, aren't you?" Tony smiled, somewhat watery as he ran his fingers through Loki's face, his hair, his neck, his ears, the shape of his lips. "I thought I would have time to memorise all of you with my fingers, with my lips, with all my senses, but I was so dreadfully, desperately wrong."

"Would you memorise a monster, Tony?"

"Don't call yourself that, not in my presence."

"That's what I am, that's what I was born as, that's what I was raised to be." Loki covered his beloved's hands with his own, lowering them, he didn't deserve Tony's touch, though his heart beat faster with a mix of dread and relief that Tony still wanted him.

"That's what you really think, isn't it?" Tony whispered, squeezing Loki's hands, "it's also ingrained in my brain that your species are noth but monster but I refuse to believe that." he saw Loki try and flinch away from him, but he just held Loki's hands in a steady grip. "You're not a monster, I refuse to believe it and I refuse to let you believe it, but I want to have the whole of eternity to convince you of that, so... would you be mine still? Would you give up all of those thoughts, all of these absurd deeds and just be mine? I'm afraid you already hold all of me in your hands, and I can't live with just half of myself."

"You deserve someone better, an Às that can satisfy you and be with you the way you need to."

"You're already here my love, what else do I need?" He whispered, kissing Loki's knuckles. "I don't need a sweet or muscular Às, I don't need a scholar or a jester or a Mage, I need you, I want you." He snorted, looking at Loki's face and attempting a little levity, "if I was kissing another lips you would tear them apart, just as I would any that attempted to gain your attention, just as I did a few times over the years."

The image stuck Loki suddenly, of Tony kissing someone else, of holding someone else, hands entwined both in levity and in ecstasy and he squeezed Tony's hand, probably harder than he meant to, "I would erase their existence from the annals of history."

"Yeah, so we can't belong to anyone else but each other, darling, because I would do the same." He would rather Loki not think about the recent murder confessions he had just made, it wouldn't set a good example.

"Please be mine? Pretty please?" Tony asked, already grinning.

"I already am." Loki replied, and few would blame Tony - least of all Janet - for drawing his fiancé into a clumsy kiss.

"You're such a bad kisser." Tony teased when they parted, and if Loki gave him first degree frostbite, well it was his own fault.

(~o~)

"What do you know of Tony?" Henry Pym asked, rubbing his hands as he stared at the program he and Banner had made.

"He is Loki's friend, more than friends as of a year ago." Thor replied, his mood darkening and enveloping the Hellicarrier in storm clouds.

"I take it you don't approve?" Bruce Banner asked, pushing up his glasses.

"They suit each other, oddly enough, as much as the pieces in a game of Kings, as much as puzzle pieces. However he's a blacksmith, his family is sworn to uphold my name as servants," Thor frowned a boot of lightning suddenly striking the deck of the Hellicarrier, making the cage on the other room wobble precariously. "He's not worthy of Loki, he's below his station as a dog is below his owner."

"Harsh!" Pym said, eyes wide. The so-called god had seemed so down to earth before.

"Tis the truth! He has aspirations beyond his station, what can a Blacksmith offer a Prince of Asgard?"

"Much more than you can apparently," Nick Fury interrupted, looking at a particular screen on his computer, one earbud out of his ear, Natasha Romanoff using the other pair. "Loki is ready to talk, it seems." He said, unnecessarily as Natasha was already out of the door, Thor quickly following on her heels.

They waited at the entrance to the cage, the metal sealing it off slowly receding until there was nothing left. They entered slowly, Thor and Natasha first, with Fury bringing up the rear. Janet was outside the cage, arms crossed in front of her chest, looking at the two men with a fond expression, neither Loki nor Thorstein were in a compromised position, both standing together, close as if one might mistake them for friends, Tony had one hand on Loki's arm, a relieved expression on his face. Loki just looked tired all over again, face gaunt, sunken eyes, blue eyes just gazing at Tony.

"I take it you're ready to talk now, Mr. Odinsson?" Fury enquired, eyes fixed on the criminal.

"Loki?" Thor and Tony enquired at the same time, the former glaring at Tony as if offended by his mere existence. Loki just nodded, eyes fixed on Tony, they never had a talk like that before, so emotionally exhausting, maybe they should've had it to begin with.

"I'll talk, to you," he put his hand on Tony's arm as well, before nodding to Janet and Fury, "and you two, no more."

"Brother-" Thor tried to interject, stepping forward.

"That is final!" Loki snapped, "I will not speak to you right now, Thor, we're not in Asgard where I have to bend to your will whenever you see fit!" He growled, it was but a moment's thought to transport himself outside the cage, Tony following hurriedly on his heels as Loki stalked through the ship in the direction of closed in conference meeting.

"You did that on purpose." Tony said with a small smile, when Fury and Janet were close enough to pick up their voices.

"Well yes, we need Thor to keep up the bad weather, least Barton reaches us before I'm through with all of this." Loki admitted, looking at the three of them with the sort of exasperated annoyance one reserves specially for loud children.

"What of Barton?" Fury asked, stepping up on the other side of Loki, gun ready, even though he new, logically, it wouldn't work on either of them.

"He's under mind control, as you might have guessed, currently bringing in one of your other ships so we can invade the infrastructure and bring down two of the turbines." Loki shrugged, sitting in one of the chairs, Tony behind him with a hand on his shoulder.

Fury had the uncomfortable feeling that if worst came to worst, that hand would be the only thing holding Loki back, and they couldn't rely on that hand to always favour human kind.

"Odin said you've met with the Chitauri, that means you've got to meet their leader as well, right? The titan? The purple smurf?" Tony asked, sitting on the table, both swords clinging together, drawing Fury's momentary attention.

"Please don't ever say that again, the imagery itself..." Loki shuddered, "and it calls attention to me, at the moment they've got their eyes on Barton and Selvig, making sure the machine will be according to specifications." Tony snorted at that, and Loki couldn't help but roll his eyes, yes he knew Tony could've built it better than anyone, and with little to no flaws, but there was a reason he chose Midgard; besides the Teseract that is.

"What machine?" Janet interrupted, crossing her arms, frowning as she thought on the possibilities.

"You need to create a portal, to the other side of the galaxy, to let what through?" Fury demanded, voice just this side of soft, but Natasha knew and recognised it, the softer Fury spoke, the harder his judgement would be.

"Not on the other side of the galaxy, mortal," Loki sneered, "on the other side of the universe, where the roots of Yggdrasil are as thin as to be nonexistent!" He snapped, "there are Erdrich horrors the like you've never imagined!"

"Cthulhu like?" Janet asked, the image of an octopus-faced being floating through her mind.

"That is one, yes, but I meant one that goes by the name of Galactus, pray that the Destroyer of Worlds never finds Midgard, for his hunger is insatiable." Loki replied with a shudder, he had seen Galactus feed on an inhabited world, the scream of billions of souls was what, ironically, allowed him to keep his mind while The Other and Thanos had their fill of him.

Tony looked at the trickster with narrowed eyes, to which Loki only nodded, a subtle hand gesture telling him they would talk about it later, but not now, Odin's beard, no. Thor was calming down and soon enough Barton would be here and, while Loki cared nothing for the humans and would let their planet burn under normal circumstances, his ástvi was right there next to him, and he would open Barton's skull if Tony was in any way harmed.

He took a deep breath, slipped his hand into Tony's and begun his tale: of falling through the void, of seeing horrors beyond what he could have imagined, of seeing a planet be devoured at the whim of a being older than the universe itself, of falling on an asteroid construct, home of the being calling himself the lover of death.

He could see the skepticism on Fury's and Romanoff's face, as Barton had told him they would, as he would have done had the circumstances been different. But they weren't.

"What is their plan for Midgard?" Tony asked, squeezing Loki's hand in reassurance.

"So far?" Loki asked, rhetorically, collecting his thoughts, it was getting harder and harder to think clearly, he could almost feel Barton and the other minions getting closer, The Other's attention going to his trickery. "They want the Tesseract."

"You could have gotten that and gone home, what more do you want?" Fury asked, his voice anchoring Loki for a moment more.

"I was promised Midgard, but-" He paused, letting go of Tony's hand and taking two steps away from his lover, his eyes a brilliant blue.

Tony had but a moment to think, before his swords were locked in front of him, defending against Loki's attach, his beloved's eyes an eerie, flashing blue. "One of you get Thor in here!" He shouted, looking at Fury, Natasha made her way out of the room, while Fury fired his gun at the Trickster and Janet assumed her smallest form, zapping through the air, trying to distract Loki with the Sting from her form. Tony had told her it might've been necessary to knock Loki unconscious, in their brief sting going to the cage alone.

Thor barged into the room with a frown on his face and the smell of ozone following his steps, he didn't ask what happened nor what had happened previously just joined the fight against his brother.

"Try to knock him unconscious!" Tony shouted, dodging a knife thrown his way, only to receive a knee on his jaw as Loki leaped to his feet and on top of him. He answered by striking the blunt, flat of the sword, on his fiancée's ribs, throwing him off, Lævatinn was heavy on his hip, thrumming with power, wanting to be used by her owner.

The blow served only to put Loki mildly off course, the trickster barring his teeth at the two Æsir as the human flew around them. Thor had Mjolnir held tight in his right hand, stance battle ready as behind them Tony pushed himself up.

"Sir we have an incoming bird!" One of Fury's underlings shouted over he comm links, there was no time to answer though, as the hole of the Hellicarrier bumped sideways, an explosion in the distance enough to let the people know a turbine had just exploded.

"I think that's my cue," Loki said, a twisted smile/sneer on his face, as he turned around.

"NO!" Thor shouted, throwing Mjolnir at his brother, the Loki in front of them vanished, as, behind Thor and Fury a scream of rage tore itself from the real Loki's lips, Tony's sword sticking out from his thigh and stuck on the metal ground.

"You're not going anywhere sweetheart, not until I get the purple sludge out of your brain." Tony said, holding the sword down. "Wasp, now!"

There was a buzzing noise, followed by a yellow streak and Loki's head bounced on the floor, the god unconscious.

Janet quickly returned to her normal form, taking a moment to check on the god before speaking on the comm link "Captain, this is the Wasp, we've got Loki, repeat, we've got Loki. He's unconscious at the moment, but stable." She looked at Tony for confirmation, who only gave her a nod.

"All right, we're on our way!" She responded to a buzz on her ear. "His minions hacked into the turbine, Bruce's trying to keep it contained but he's a physician, not a computer guy." She shook her head, bitting her lip for a moment as she pondered asking help from the Æsir.

"Thor, guard Loki, I'm certain his minions will try to take him." Tone sighed, getting to his feet. "What do you need?" He asked Janet, knowing he owed this woman more he could ever say.

"Are you at all familiar with the IT on earth, though? Because if not we could use another pair of hands."

"I'm a forgerer sweetheart, on Asgard that takes more than a skill for heating and bending metal, I know virtually all the systems in the known universe." He smirked at her, following her lead out of the room.

Fury and Thor just looked at each other, faces grim. "You're not gonna put Loki in the cage, are you?" He didn't wait for an answer, glaring at the blond warrior, "I'm locking you in, you're the best bet to keep him here and unconscious, and I wanna find him here when this shit's over. If he comes to before I get here, signal in the comm." Fury said, handing over something akin to a bean.

"Aye, none shall get to Loki, and we will be here when you return." Thor agreed, putting the little thing in his ear, such outdated technology!