A/N: Okay, I think I made Loki crazier than Metisket's Crazy!Ed. Which is scary (check out her LJ if you like FMA). I apologize, I know the story started out cute and all, but the non-kid Loki? Is apparently going to start out batshit insane. So consider this somewhere down the line from the Avengers movie, where Loki's not just breaking he's totally off his rocker (or, at least, that's the way he comes across to Tony). Rest assured, this is something of a fix-it fic. There WILL be a happy ending – I'm a firm believer in the whole "sometimes it just takes one person who truly cares" method of healing. But I also wanted to explore exactly how Loki and Thor got to that night on the bridge, and what kind of underlying issues might have been involved. Besides, Tony is snarky and fun to write, and Kid!Loki is just plain interesting. (I also confess to having read Bunny Slippers recently (another norsekink prompt). So that's where the footnotes have their birth. If you haven't yet checked it out, it's definitely worth a look).

*** Prologue: In Which Dr. Doom Targets Thor, and a Spell Goes Awry***

As reported by Tony Stark, Man of Iron and Maker of Pancakes1

Fighting Thor's brother is always the same, a nightmare and circus all wrapped into one enormous and entirely self-destructive package, moments of surprise and terror and almost-humor (because by now Tony's seen more than enough of death to know that, t-shirts to the contrary, it is never something to laugh at) all rolled together until dizzy and with neither side entirely sure which part they were playing2. There are civilians in danger; the laws of physics (and, indeed, any laws at all) are all on extended holiday3, and Tony really needs to not be stone-cold-sober to take that laugh.4 Dr. Doom is involved this time, which just makes things that much more full of extra crazy – not that anyone can ever say Loki doesn't bring his own, because he does and it comes in spades. (Tony is not actually sure that there has ever been enoughcrazy in the entire universe to account for all the crazy that Loki brings to the table. In fact, he's got a pet theory that Loki must have another pocket dimension tucked away specifically for storing all that extra insanity so the world doesn't, you know, actually explode from it).5

Also, there are robots. Tony's pretty sure Dr. Doom's normal doombots don't actually come in some of the colors and shapes these are sporting, though, so he's not even particularly surprised when a few of them start firing haddock instead of live charges. Because fish guts just make everything that much more pleasant.6

Meanwhile, Loki and Thor are fighting. What this actually means in practice is that Loki and his clones are flitting tauntingly just out of Thor's reach, occasionally taking a break to pester7 one of the other players just in case they feel left out. It's still easy to tell which is the real one, because his eyes neverleave Thor's, and there's something there could have once (or still is) been love, but harder to categorize. It's a little like watching a zombie flick, only with the actors replaced by emotions8. At least, that's how he tried to explain it to Thor once. Thor didn't get it, maybe because his brother's not actually dead, only wishes he was – and Thor just doesn't understand those kind of things because he's only ever been in that place once and it's honestly never occurred to him that there might be any relevance9.

In any event, looking into Loki's eyes is something Tony tries his hardest not to do – first, because it means he's between Loki and Thor, and that means he's between Loki and one of the few people that still exists in whatever counts as reality on any given day. Which is, you know, not exactly the smartest place to be for a guy with a really delicate piece of machinery lodged in the middle of his damn chest, especially if that machinery happens to be all that's keeping him alive and on this side of the grave. He's not entirely sure whether Loki's ever read the Necronomicon (or the Norse equivalent), but he's not interested in getting the chance to find out, so he tries to avoid getting between the two brothers when they're having at it. Secondly, because when he's fighting with Thor Loki never bothers to hide whatever of his soul is still left after whatever took him and shredded him into little stilettos of crazy so far off the tracks that even Tony – who is no stranger to crazy, he sees it in the mirror every day – can't follow him, and actually having to see that scares Tony almost as much as the inevitable laughter10.

Thor, meanwhile, is entirely focused on his little brother. And it would be almost sweet, except that the only way Thor knows how to deal with a problem is to smash it. Given that Loki's already cracked, and that Thor doesn't truly want to hurt his brother (but seems to somehow figure that with a few broken limbs Loki will actually have to sit still long enough to be talked at11), this is more often than not an entirely useless exercise in frustration. Especially since Loki tends to design this time right into his plans, a sort of twisted family bonding experience that makes Tony really glad he's no relation to Odin even if he does think it would be kind of cool to have actual superpowers. In other words? What would normally be a pretty good distraction (because however many pounds of angry Viking God it is that make up their very own Lord of Thunder, Thor even by himself tends to be slightly hard for even the most composed of villains to ignore completely) isn't really actually helping matters all that much.

Only today, it is (sort of). Apparently, Doom really isn't too thrilled with the changes to his doombots, because he's aiming something at Thor and doesn't seem at all concerned about his erstwhile ally12 being caught square in middle of the probable blast radius. Tony is actually sort of torn, because today he seriously wants Loki to shut the fuck up (as opposed to his normal "if I had just three wishes from a genie that would totally be one of them"). Loki seems worse than usual, despite the fact he may (or may not, this is Loki he's trying to quantify) have just tried to shove a giant elephant down Thor's trousers13. It could even be that it's an anniversary or something; Thor, too, seems a little off his game as he tries to talk to (at) his brother and Loki does his absolute best (which is very, very good when he knows his target as well as he does his brother) to be as infuriatingly awful as is physically possible14 even for the self-proclaimed God of Mischief. In any case, neither god is in any shape to notice what Doom's planning, and the accumulated fish guts are making it really hard for Tony to stay on his feet (since for some reason or another either Loki or Dr. Doom have managed to stall or hack his propulsion system, which went offline almost as soon as this whole mess began. He's been trying to get to what he thinks (hopes) is the jamming device – which at least only seems to stop him from flying, so it could be that maybe they (Loki) just thought it would be more funny to watch him take on robots while covered in fish he can't dodge, but he's not getting his hopes up) long enough to make a difference. He's so changing the wiring when he gets home (unless it's magic. In which case, he may actually just be better off hoping Loki stays true to form and doesn't repeat the same trick twice).

Steve and Natasha are getting the civilians out (it's not a terribly hard job, despite the fish, as Loki has never actually been terribly keen one way or another on killing people. He puts them in danger because he knows it'll get the team (and therefore his brother)'s attention, and after that he doesn't really care one way or another what happens to them). Except for occasional kidnappings when some poor (or not-so-poor) idiot has something he needs, other people are generally entirely incidental to whatever it is he's actually trying to accomplish15. It makes him both better and worse than some of their other opponents – better, because there's a slightly lowered chance of mass casualties, worse because he's still perfectly capable of killing people if he thinks the team isn't taking him seriously. Hawkeye is trying for a clear shot, and is focused enough on the brothers that he hasn't noticed Dr. Doom either. (And, to be fair, Tony is supposed to be dealing with Doom. Except for the whole can't fly thing going on and the fact Doom can teleport wherever he damn well pleases while Tony himself has to wade through the doombots just to get close enough to spit at him). Instead, Tony shouts, and Loki looks up just in time to snarl at Doom (Tony has to give Doom credit, he takes it well considering a similar incident that had made Tony exceptionally grateful for the in-suit catheter), and makes a gesture that ends with a *very* surprised frog before Doom counters the spell16 and teleports away for real. At which time Doom's abandoned device hits the floor and lets out a hiccup of energy that envelops the three of them. Tony's never actually seen an oh-shit look on Loki's face before, but if the rest of them weren't in the same boat he'd be treasuring it for eternity17. As it is, he still savors for just a second past the time he can finally see again and again as he heads towards the fallen machine. He doesn't feel any different, so hopefully it was a misfire and they can all resume trying to kill each other in record time. With Doom gone, that effectively makes it his job to secure the tech and wait for Thor to finish up with his brother - either that, or they're all already dead. In which case? He is so going postal on Thor's ass18.

1 This last is written in a child's surprisingly academic scrawl. Given Tony Stark has absolutely no idea how to make pancakes, the meaning behind this is left up to the observer.

2 Or even if they were playing a part at all. Compared to how Loki generally treats his allies, being enemies with him is almost pleasant. Certainly safer. And given just what Loki likes to do to his enemies, that is saying something really quite scary indeed.

3 Probably somewhere a bit less life-threatening, like the Bermuda Triangle.

4 Although he'd never admit it, it is the laugh – and not what he's seen Loki do - that is what keeps Tony Stark awake at night, because no one should sound like that. Not even world-destroying sociopaths with enough mojo to make 2+2 equal anything the hell they want – generally with fries and perhaps a few deep-fried unicorn tears just for laughs.

5Keeping in mind, Loki likes explosions. But he likes an audience more - no darkness without light as the saying goes. Besides, darkness doesn't make nearly as funny a face as the light does. And as much as he hates the sound of his own voice on some (all) days, laughter is really all he's got left and if it's a little twisted and warped he'll still cling to it as the last bastion of anything even approaching sanity left in the world. A/N: Everyone, but illusionists most of all, need reality. Or rather, at the end of the day they need even just one single thing that they can trust to ground them and upon which to trust their weight. To Loki, that was his family. Odin was an idiot.

6 It's one of the rules of the universe.

7 Like teasing, only with more knives.

8 In this case, love has most of his intestines clawed out onto the dirt and half an arm missing, and is in the middle of finishing off sanity's brains as the rest of Tony's mind runs into a corner and tries to hide before he throws up.

9 Yeah, Tony occasionally wants to smack him, too.

10 Maybe because in a way, it is the laugh. And despite all the upgrades he's managed on his suit, Tony's not yet figured out how to install earplugs for his eyes. Fly and shoot lasers, sure. Fighting blind on purpose, even with the best sensors in the world, is not going to happen no matter what tricks some of their villains can play on his poor vision. Given any sort of chance, if there ever does come a time for that oncoming train, he wants to see his death before he goes. Just a last little "fuck you" to the system, because he's Tony Stark and he wants (needs) at least that much control in the matter.

11 The few times they've managed to do this, it has never been pretty. Loki is at least as good with words as he is with spells, and Thor's always come away bleeding in about a dozen new places and forgetting exactly what he was trying to do in the first place. A Loki trapped is a Loki vicious, because cages might be one of the few things he actually fears besides himself. Again, speculation only, because Tony might be curious but he's not stupid (despite what Pepper may think about the time with the spinach) and nothing's worth getting up close and personal to that kind of hell. He can imagine just fine based on his own experiences, thank you very much. Loki is Tony with magic powers and with the remnants of his sanity resting entirely on his brother's wide but entirely obtuse shoulders. And that is the reason Tony hates Loki's laughter so very, very much.

12 Entirely understandable, re: footnote the first.

13 Tony doesn't know why either. It just happens, sometimes.

14 This is incredibly well, as Loki doesn't even believe in the Laws of Physics. Or, maybe he does and it's just that they too have given up making even a token effort to stop him from breaking them anyway.

15 Whatever that is, Tony is pretty sure not even Loki himself knows know anymore.

16 Tony will have to plan a Talk with Thor about throwing his hammer and distracting Loki when he's actually doing something productive, for once, like trying to set up a shield to stop whatever's about to come their way. He's not sure it'll take, but he makes a habit of trying to teach Thor these kinds of things if only for his own peace of mind when the idiot finally does get himself killed (presuming he hasn't gotten the rest of them killed too).

17 Or until Loki invents brain-bleach. He really does have some of the strangest buttons.

18 It's a very nice ass. Tony is very fond of it. But let it never be said that Loki is not a jealous god, and while the Enchantress might enjoy her padded walls, Tony would prefer to stay just this side of the asylum and no further. So it's still one o the few things entirely off limits no matter how drunk he gets. A/N: I may be one of the few people who actually really didn't get a Thor/Loki vibe from the movie. So Loki's just jealous as a younger sibling, not as a rival. Sorry, I enjoy slash as much as the next person, but it's their family relationship I'm interested in here and they'll be kids for most of this fic, anyways. Also, I totally ship Loki/Tony or Loki/Darcy :P. Those two have the best shot of any of them at understanding his mind. Gen, this time, though!