Written for the prompt Desert Island.


"Well, what about you, then?" snarled Tony, throwing away the slab of metal he had pulled from the wreckage of their destroyed plane. He'd been going through the mess for hours – ever since it had cooled enough to touch – and he was reaching the end of his rope. Hardly anything had come through intact, and yeah, he was a genius, but that didn't mean he could get them off the damn island with a screwdriver and half a luggage rack. "Instead of lying there, make yourself useful."

Loki opened an eye and regarded Tony without interest. "And what, pray tell, would you have of me?" He unfolded one arm from behind his head and gestured around him, taking in the smoking aircraft, the miles of blank, white sand, and the scraggly scrub that decorated the landscape as one went farther from the waterline. "Unless you wish me to shape wood with my hands, there is nothing to do. I thought you were going to make an axe or the like."

Tony huffed and turned back to the plane. There was plenty of metal for that, but nothing he'd found yet was quite right, twisted as it was. "I'm working on it."

"Well, do it quietly," said Loki, who seemed to be going back to sleep. Tony stopped rummaging to glare at him where he was lounging against a sand dune and looking completely unconcerned. He even made the streaks of grease and burned cape look good.

"You could look for water," said Tony, wiping sweat from his forehead as he yanked out a handful of wires.

He heard Loki shrug against the sand. "I could. But I, unlike you, can survive without it. Why bother?"

"You- I have had it up to here with you." Tony stripped off his gloves and stalked across the beach to stand in Loki's sun. "It's no wonder no one in Asgard wanted to put up with you! How exactly do you think you're going to get off this island without me, hm? Going to fly?"

Loki sat up, absently brushing sand off his shoulders. "Do go on, Stark, I'm riveted. You can't even get this off, which is why we're in this predicament to begin with." He ran a finger along the smooth black collar that encircled his neck. It was of SHIELD design, a power suppressor. The plane had been a prison plane. "Had an epiphany, though? Going to hammer it off with a rock and watch my head explode? Please."

He did have a point. Tony was going to need to fashion some pretty fine tools before he could tackle the collar. He decided to try a different tack. "Fine. Okay, I'll admit that. But we're the only two people on this whole hunk of rock. If we don't get along, we'll never escape."

The God of Mischief chuckled at that and stood up. "It's always about the interpersonal with you, isn't it… But I, lucky for your life and my pants, have just had an idea." Leaving Tony spluttering behind him, he walked to the edge of the sea and waded in. Once he was up to his waist, he stilled, and began to murmur something that Tony couldn't hear over the waves.

Tony sniffed. "Fine, you pompous ice princess…" He turned his back.

It was then that the whole island shook, as if an explosion had gone off in the near vicinity. Staggering, Tony whipped around. "Loki? What did y- Holy shit." Big enough to block out the sun, raining seawater that rushed up the beach, a giant serpent had just erupted from the ocean! Its eyes were like coals, its snout as big as a taxi, and the teeth that Tony could see as long as his leg. It was also leaning down, menacing, toward Loki-

-Who had raised his arms and was now embracing what he could of the horrendous creature's face. He was smiling, too. After a minute of communing with the beast, he looked over his shoulder and Tony and smirked. "I believe I've solved our problem," he declared brightly.

Hand over his arc reactor, Tony stared back. "What… is that thing?"

Loki and the serpent scowled at the same time. Tony wasn't sure how a snake could scowl, but this one had managed it. "He's not a thing," Loki replied archly. "He's Jӧrmungandr. And he loves his papa very much." There was more nuzzling.

Tony opened his mouth, then closed it again. "Wait, you mean the Midgard Serpent is real?" When Thor had joined the Avengers, they'd all been curious about how much of the mythology was accurate, but none of them had gotten around to asking about Loki's monstrous children. It didn't seem possible, for one, and Loki was a bit of a touchy subject.

"Real as unicorns," said Loki. "And he's going to let us ride him back to civilization. Back to New York, even, if that's what you want, though I'll be taking my leave of you at that point." He patted Jӧrmungandr on the nose and then scrambled up to sit on the ridged top of his head. "Well? Come along, Man of Iron. Show me the much-vaunted bravery that makes an Avenger great."

That was how Tony Stark escaped from a desert island and rode back to Manhattan on the head of an enormous sea serpent, all the while in close proximity to one of the Avengers' most vicious opponents. He supposed he ought to be grateful. After all, Loki only ran through "One Hundred Bottles of Mead in the Hall" six times along the way, not the dozen he'd promised.

And he'd given Tony his cell phone number. Apparently, he wasn't above interpersonal relations after all.


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