Chapter Two – Aunt Peggy

Loki and Tony hadn't done much in the way of bonding so far, Loki however wouldn't deny he was interested in the younger student. It was the next afternoon when they finally started talking more, while on their way to the chapel for the opening ceremony.

"My parents…couldn't come, so my Aunt Peggy is coming. She's going to take me out to dinner…did you wanna join?"

Loki glanced over at Tony and understood what the younger boy was doing, he was all alone amongst teens, he wanted a friend. Loki wanted one as well, "If it's not too much trouble, I'd love to."

"Anthony!" A woman shouted across the distance from near the chapel. Tony's head whipped around, and for the first time Loki saw Tony smile. It wasn't fake, or forced, but one of utter glee as he raced towards the woman who'd called out.

A second later Tony was lifted off the ground and whirled around like he was a small boy, clearly this was Aunt Peggy. She set him down as quick as she'd picked him up, "There's my boy," She spoke with a grin as Loki smiled and stepped over to the duo.

"Aunt Peggy, this is my roommate Loki."

She smiled and shook Loki's hand. Loki could see she was a kind woman, gentle and full of warmth as she greeted him. She reminded him of his mother. Maybe Midgard wouldn't be so bad after all. "Hello, Loki. I'm Peggy Carter. Hopefully my dear nephew isn't rubbing off on you too much. He can cause a great deal of drama when he likes.

Tony stuck his tongue out, and to Loki's surprise merely got a playful hair ruffle. Things like that were worth a slap in Asgard-at least from Odin. A prince never did such things. "No ma'am, he's a good friend," Loki lied, or at least he lied for now, he hoped they'd become friends soon enough. Loki would be here until graduation, or until Odin lifted the punishment.

"Excellent, right then, come on poppet, lets get you inside so we can get this over with," she grinned knowing her beloved Tony hated formal meetings such as this. She threw an arm around Tony's shoulder, and to his surprise, one around Loki as well. It was in that moment Loki realized why Tony adored this woman so deeply.

It was an hour and a half later they emerged, both Tony and Loki appearing bored stiff, while Peggy just shook her head, "It ceases to amaze me how one or two men can be so long winded. Well, Loki are you joining us for dinner?"

Loki smiled at Tony who nodded, "Yes ma'am!"

"Good boy, where to boys?"

"PIZZA!" Tony cheered.

Peggy laughed as she led the two boys to her car, "Tony, are we ever going to go to a dinner that isn't pizza, dear?"

Loki chuckled at that as he climbed in the back and Tony in the front seat of the small convertible. They arrived at a small Italian restaurant several minutes later and were seated quickly. Loki looked over the small menu considering what he wanted, he knew very little of the things on this list. In fact, he'd never even had pizza. "So, Loki, tell me about your self?" Peggy asked politely, she'd seated herself next to Tony.

"What would you like to know?"

She smiled warmly, "Anything dear, do you have siblings?"

"Yes ma'am, an older brother, Thor."

"Your father really does like Norse Mythology," chuckled Tony.

Peggy looked at the boy, "Don't be rude, Tony. And Loki, you needn't call me Ma'am, Peggy or Aunt Peggy is absolutely fine darling."

Loki smiled, he'd never really had an aunt before. "Yes ma'am. My older brother and I are from England, so we are each attending different schools for high school in effort to become more cultured. Or at least that's what father has said."

"Your dad sent you to a boarding school cause you misbehaved?"

Loki nodded at Tony's question. "Wow and I thought Howard was a dick."

"Anthony Stark," Peggy snapped, looking down at the boy disapprovingly. "Language, sir. He's still your father, good, bad or indifferent you are to respect him in my presence."

Tony ducked his head and nodded. Peggy shook her head and then hugged him close. "Now poppet, don't pout. Your father didn't used to be this…stern," she sighed softly. She looked over at Loki. "Howard was raised in a firm handed home anyway. Unfortunately he lost someone very dear to him a long time ago and it's made him…well you can imagine."

Loki nodded, and studied Tony for a moment, despite that he had a hunch Tony couldn't imagine. "Now, what are we ordering, Loki what do you like?"

"I've never…actually had pizza."

That snapped Tony out of his funk as his eyes grew wide. "What! Aunt Peggy, can we get two pizzas then?"

She chuckled, "Right then, we will get a pizza and you two can choose one more."

Dinner was a delightful affair in the end, Tony and Loki shared the same schedule mostly and told Peggy all about their hopes for school. Loki shared a bit more about his family, while he learned that Tony was the descendent of a wealthy weapons dealer. Loki marveled at how calm and kind Peggy was with Tony, the boy could be utterly spoiled with his childhood, much like Thor was, but instead he was a shy and relatively quiet.

Nearly two hours later, Peggy bid Loki a goodbye while he headed upstairs to the room, while Tony stayed behind in the car where she'd parked. "What's wrong poppet?"

"Aunt Peggy…can I tell you something, if you promise not to tell dad?"

She brushed the hair from his eyes, "Sweetheart, you know I'd never tell your father what you tell me in confidence. Unless it was something I thought was a danger."

"I don't want to be here," he whispered, his eyes watering. "I'm the youngest kid. And dad says it's the only way to make me worthy."

Peggy sighed and unbuckled Tony's seatbelt before pulling him into her lap like she had when he was much younger. "Anthony, I wish I could turn back time and save Steve, help your father understand the mistakes he's made with you. But your father's mistakes are not yours unless you let them become that way. You will flourish here, just give it a chance, all right?"

"Will you tell me stories about Steve?"

She smiled and hugged him close, "You would've have loved him, and him you. He was kind always stuck up for the little guy."

"Even when he was the little guy?"

She pressed a kiss to Tony's forehead, "Especially when he was the little guy." She talked for a little longer until finally giving him a squeeze, "I must go poppet, as should you. Curfew starts soon."

"Bye Aunt Peggy." She watched until he was in the dorm then drove off, cursing Howard Stark's inability to move on from simple things.

Tony made his way upstairs, "Awww, does wittwe Starkey need his mommy!" some of the older boys poked as soon as he stepped out on the floor.

Tony opened his mouth to respond, but they continued, "Must be because you're still a baby!" laughed one boy with a face full of acne.

"I bet you he still wets the bed," the laughing was all around him as his face grew red with shame and anger.

"I do not!" he growled, shoving himself into it with all his power he pushed one of the boys.

"Tony," Loki jumped in as soon as he saw what was going on from their doorway, he grabbed the younger boy.

The boys laughed behind them, "That's right, little baby needs someone to protect him from the big bad men."

Loki slammed the door behind them, locking it as if hoping that would drown their mocking comments out. Tony huffed and sat on the bed.

"You little brat! What the hell are you evening doing in here!" Slurred Howard as he smacked his only child. "Now you're crying! Grow up Anthony, for god sakes no son of mine is a sissy. You think Captain America cried!" He growled.

"Tony?" Loki sat down beside his new found friend, watching the tear tracks form on Tony's face. How fair was it to shove a child into this atmosphere, most of these boys were twice Tony's size.

"Why did you do that?" Shouted Tony.

Loki sighed, "I'm sorry. I didn't want to see you get hurt. Are you all right?"

"I don't wet the bed."

"I didn't think or say you did." Loki was quiet for a moment, before he smiled, "Your Aunt Peggy seems very nice. I had an excellent dinner."

Tony looked over at Loki and nodded, "She's not my real aunt."

"A family friend?"

Tony nodded, scooting over, Loki joined him lying on the bed. "She's been my dad's friend for twenty years or something, anyway I guess they went through a rough time together, and she tried to stay in touch with him…I think they remind one another of better times."

Loki looked over and nodded, "I can see that. Your dad sounds…different."

The laugh was surprisingly bitter for a pre-teen, "If by different you mean inattentive, self obsessed and cruel then yes. You're right. He drinks."

"Oh…" Loki's father drank occasionally, but he'd never seen his father in any state but entirely in control. "What about your mother?"

"My mom is too busy sleeping around to notice me, not that Howard is any different. I don't even know why they had me."

Deciding this was an appropriate time to share something about himself, Loki sighed, "My father likes my brother better. The golden child," Loki murmured. "I know what it's like to not be noticed for an accomplishment. To feel passed over, like you're a piece of garbage."

"Loki can I ask a stupid question?"

"Of course."

" Would you be my friend."

Loki couldn't help but grin, "I'd be honored Anthony."

o0o

Tony's hand shot up in the air, as he was all too aware of the snickers from the back of the class. "Someone other than Tony?" The teacher asked, slightly exasperated that no one but an eleven year old could answer a question in her Chemistry class.

"What happened, Anthony, can't be teacher's pet anymore," one of the boys-Marks-sneered.

"Patrick, that's enough," The teacher growled. It didn't stop Tony from turning slightly red in embarrassment. He wasn't sure when others' opinions had started to matter, perhaps it was the awkwardness of being a preteen. Whatever it was, he was acutely aware that no one but his roommate seemed to like him, much less tolerate him.

Loki glanced over at his friend and felt for him. Granted, he was made fun of frequently as well, but somehow he managed to keep his head down mostly. He wanted to give his hand a squeeze, tell him it was okay, but he knew it wouldn't do any good right now. It wasn't the right time or place. Tony looked over at him, and Loki was mildly surprised when Tony forced out a small smile, as if nothing else mattered to him. Loki couldn't help but smile back.