Chapter 3

I hope I will get the chance to be someone,
To be human,
Look what we've done,
Look what we've done...

"Oh my god, Tony, no. Please. Please tell me that's not a dead hooker." Pepper was standing by the wet bar on the top floor of Stark Tower, massaging her forehead from stress. Tony, who was currently carrying an unconscious Loki by the armpits, made a point to roll his eyes at her.

"Oh please, I would have at least called you to have a Persian rug ready for me." He headed towards his bedroom. "We'll just drop him in here, Happy." The driver nodded, guiding the rest of Loki's body through the doorway. After they laid him on the bed, Tony walked out while rubbing his palms together as if they were dusty. "Oookaayyy. Who wants to put him in jammies?" Pepper gave him a 'sometimes-I-can't-believe-you're-for-real' look.

"Are you even going to explain what's going on? Do I even want to know?" She had her hand on her hip in a way that made him feel like she was going to punish him for something. He decided to take the safe route and just come clean.

"His name is Loren, he is- was my date. He just passed out from fatigue. I think."

"And you don't find that unusual?"

"I'm pretty sure he's homeless. I've seen him leave the coffee shop a few times before. He always goes into the emergency shelter at that high school a few blocks down. They probably don't feed him well and I doubt they have comfortable beds. I'd feel like shit too."

"So you stalked a guy, probably because you thought he was hot, and then he conveniently passed out in your car. I wonder if I should have JARVIS check him for any trace of Rufies..." She shook her head at him in mock disappointment.

"I don't need any benzodiazepines to render my dates unconscious. Have you seen my smile? It's enough to knock out a god." He huffed, before turning heel to head to his workshop. "JARVIS, notify me if our guest wakes up."

"Depending on the dosage of Flunitrazepam, it may be quite some time." The AI responded. Tony threw his hands up in the air as he entered the elevator.

"My entire staff!" He shoved his hands in his pockets with an exaggerated pout as the elevator doors closed. Pepper couldn't help but laugh. She turned to Happy, smiling.

"Being on a team is really opening him up, don't you think?"

Loki strode towards the main hall where he was to meet Thor. They were to return to the forest in a second attempt to hunt the creature whose head his brother so blindly sought after. Perhaps there was a way to convince Thor that the being wasn't a mindless brute? That he was just a misunderstood thing, hunted by idiots that wanted to prove their muscle's worth. Surely Thor, out of anyone, would understand his plea.

When he arrived at the hall, there was no sign of Thor, Sif, or the Warriors Three anywhere. For a moment, he idly wondered if he had arrived early or late, but no. Loki was always very good with time, so unless Thor gave him the incorrect time-

"They have already left, Loki." The prince's head turned towards the unmistakeable voice of his father. Odin must have stepped out from behind one of the pillars. Loki felt a looming sense of dread.

"...was I too late? Thor told me he would-" his words were interrupted. They always were.

"I had them leave without you." His voice was always so sure and strong. There was never any falter, any doubt that everything he said was true and right.

"But Father, why?" Loki's voice faltered.

"Because. Magic has no place in the hunter's game. Magic is used for deception, illusion. Hunters have no need of this."

"Why? Be-Because it is for the hunted? The ones weaker physically? The ones who are always chased and tormented?" He clenched his hands into fists at his side.

"No, Loki. You were meant for other things. You would only be in their way."

Loki swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat.

"Of course."

Loki pushed through the massive crowd that had formed to greet the returning Asgardians. They were all cheering, some chanting the name of his brother. He had to duck down to get past all of the men that had formed a tight circle. As he finally broke free, Loki wondered why he had been cursed with such a thin frame when it seemed almost all the other men on Asgard were built for battle.

A gasp of disbelief left his lips before he knew it. Thor was standing with his back facing Loki, hammer raised high in the air to the praise he was receiving. In front of him was the carcass of the Bilgesnipe. The body was thrown haphazardly on the floor, its neck twisted at an unnatural angle. There was blood matting the majority of its furred head, and there were many plates missing from its scaled body. The animal was huge. The warriors must have dragged it home, half on their backs. Loki found himself reaching forward, in the same manner he had when he met the poor thing for the first time. His shaky fingertips barely grazed the horns before he recoiled with an intense sense of wrong. Everything about this was wrong. Everyone here would remember this creature, but not for its majesty or grace or intelligence. They would only remember its death; Thor's victory. But not Loki. He would always remember this creature for what it truly was.

As Thor turned around to smile at the rest of the crowd, he saw the back of his brother retreating into it. He was heading for the blacksmith, to keep his silent promise.

Loki awoke to an annoying headache. For a while, he didn't move, having no will to get up. He then realized that the bed he was laying in was much comfier than the cot he had gotten used to sleeping in and opened his eyes. This was definitely not the high school cafeteria. Very slowly, he sat up, trying to recall exactly how he had gotten here. Ah, yes. Stark.

"Good morning, Sir." the wall said. Loki jumped a bit, startled. The wall in question suddenly lit up with a display of the news and weather. The god just stared at it, somewhat horrified.

"...good morning... wall?" he said dubiously.

"You may call me JARVIS, Sir. I am here to assist you in any way you'd like." Loki moved to the edge of the bed, his feet touching the floor. He got to his feet, albeit rather wobbly, and walked over to the wall to touch it.

"Are you sentient?" He asked, disturbed at the prospect that he might be inside a living being.

"Pff, as if." Tony was in the door frame, his arms crossed over his chest. "He's already snarky enough as it is, I can't even imagine what he'd be like if he had free range thoughts and a body."

"Probably a bit more favorable than you, Sir." the AI quipped. Tony began to wonder how JARVIS kept getting better comebacks. Curse the internet.

"He is one of your machines?" Loki asked, still curious about it.

"Well, yes and no. It's kind of hard to explain..." Tony had walked over to Loki during the debate with JARVIS and was now leading him back to the bed. "You should be resting. I ordered some food. It should be here soon." The taller man silently obeyed, as he still felt rather weak.

"There we go. HYUGHHH." Tony threw himself belly-first onto the bed next to him. "Wanna see what's on TV? I have every channel there is." He positioned himself against the headboard so he was sitting level with Loki. The remote was magically in Tony's hand already. He pressed a button and the wall opened up to reveal a 60" flatscreen TV. The god raised an eyebrow. He had never actually watched television. Of course he knew what it was, but in concept only.

Tony flipped through the channels for at least a good ten minutes. "There's never anything good on – WAIT." He went back to the channel he had just passed to see himself in anime form. "Oh god. I didn't even know this existed."

The anime-style Tony raised his hand in the air dramatically before placing it over his arc reactor. It in turn burst with light and suddenly the animated Tony was a nude silhouette. As he bent in ways Tony himself knew he could never achieve in reality flexibility wise, pieces of the Iron Man suit clamped onto different parts of his body until he was fully suited up and struck a final action pose.

"I have. The weirdest boner right now." Tony said, his face a strange mixture of amusement and horror. Loki's eyes flickered to Tony's pants and saw no such thing. He wondered if this is what Midgardians did all day to entertain themselves.

As the episode progressed, Tony made a comment about how this was the only re-enactment of him that was able to catch the proper amount of sparkle in his eyes. Loki felt the corners of his mouth tugging up in a small smile. He didn't want to admit it to himself, but he was actually enjoying this.

At the end of the episode, the animated Tony had some sort of flashback to a memory of his father happily playing with him. It made the real-life Tony incredibly uncomfortable. Loki noticed his twitching and looked at him. "Is there something wrong?"

The shorter man tore his gaze away from Loki. "It's nothing..." He tried to get out easily, but the other man waited for him to continue. "...It's just inaccurate," he mumbled. Loki snorted.

"Well I should hope so. Anyone that puts on their armor like that would probably get killed before it was all pieced together." he was smiling.

"I was... never close to my father that way." he found himself admitting suddenly. He felt his pulse quicken and his cheeks burn. In his opinion, letting his feelings loose was never a good thing to do. He began to wonder if he should get up and run, when the other man's hand slid over his in a comforting gesture.

"Well that's his loss, I suppose." Tony looked up at him as he continued to speak. "I was never close with my father either. In his eyes my brother and I were each meant for a single purpose that we were not to stray from. He would always remind me of my place." Loki was staring vacantly at the TV screen. An ache had risen itself up into his chest, but he paid it no attention. It was always there.

"Sounds like a big dick to me." Tony deadpanned. Loki blinked a few times before he turned to Tony and began to laugh. Real, hearty laughter. Nothing fake or menacing or sarcastic or anything that Loki had grown so used to. It almost made him want to cry.

Loki reached over and took the remote out of Tony's limp hand. He squinted in the TV's light at all the buttons on it. After a good five minutes, he pressed the one labeled 'power' and the flatscreen flickered to black. Carefully, he set the remote on the nightstand next to him. There were boxes of Chinese take-out littering the floor around the bed, a few of them still half-full. Loki spent a long moment, unmoving, just taking in the moment. He couldn't remember a time where he had felt so carefree and good. With a soft smile, he turned his head to watch Tony's slow, even breathing as he slept, still propped up against the bed's headboard. Loki found himself leaning forward to place a chaste kiss on the shorter man's temple before he settled in next to the other man, his head nestled on Tony's shoulder. As he drifted into sleep, his small smile was highlighted by the pale glow of the arc reactor.

Author's Note: Hyeeeep. Sorry for the short chapter! I just got promoted to service technician at my job and I have to study for my certification tests. In short, I have been super busy! (And also strapped for cash. If anyone is interested in fanfic commissions, the details are on my profile page.) Thank you so much for reading. I love getting feedback from everyone. :)