Really sorry for the week-long delay . One word - exams
Steve had been right. It was a fucking mess.
Loki and Thor were as silent as the metaphorical grave (and after that incident with the reanimated corpses, Tony had learnt to be careful with his idioms). Tony and Steve were silent for the most part, too, mostly due to the look on Loki's face.
They made it to the surface in ten minutes or so, and - well.
Tony didn't think he'd ever forget it.
The base was located at the top of a steep hill, and below them, the land was being torn apart. The few buildings Tony could see were smoking, and here and there, gaping cracks had opened up, almost as if some vast creature had clawed the ground open. The portal itself rent the sky in two above their heads. Through it, Tony could see what looked like a vortex of crackling energy and points of light.
And then there were the creatures.
Holy fucking shit.
They were huge. Like, eldritch-abomination huge. They towered over them, vast, slavering monsters, scaled and snarling and fucking terrifying.
"Okay, Cap," Tony said. "Tell me you have a fucking plan."
Even Steve looked a little pale.
"We're driving them back towards the portal," he said. "We can't really hurt them, but if you go for the eyes, they tend to move back, and if we can force them through-"
"I getcha," Tony said. "We're playing sheepdog. Well, let's roll."
So, they set to work. The others were already fighting - Tony was just in time to see Hawkeye and Widow force a huge, crouching, antlered beast back into the portal with a cheer. Bruce had hulked out, and was going at it with what looked like a leviathan.
Tony joined Steve and Thor in fighting off a creature with tentacles sprouting from its face, and one vast, quivering eye in the centre of its forehead.
"C'mon, Cthulu," he grunted, firing repulsor blasts into its eye. The creature hissed and squealed, swatting at him.
They fought on until they were nearly spent. By the time the last of the monsters toppled back into the void, they were all covered in sweat, dust and blood, and Tony was beginning to worry about the suit's power levels.
"We're done, right?" he called to Steve. "Because I could use a drink right about now."
"Not yet," Steve yelled back. He gestured to something behind Tony. "Look."
Tony turned, and gaped.
"Fenrir," Thor muttered.
A little way away stood a vast wolf.
And when Tony said vast, he didn't mean vast in the same way that the Empire State Building was vast. Fenrir crouched over the land, almost as tall as the portal itself. His jaws were open in a slavering snarl, and inside, Tony could see a howling abyss.
And there, at Fenrir's feet, impossibly tiny in comparison to the great wolf, stood Loki.
He had never looked more frightening, or more powerful. Energy crackled around him, a shuddering, shifting web, and Tony realised belatedly that despite everything, Loki was still very much a god.
He still didn't fancy his chances against the wolf, though.
Tony lurched forward before he could think about what he was doing, and found Thor blocking his path.
"What are you doing?" he shouted. "We have to go and help him!"
Thor shook his head. "I wish to aid my brother more than any of you, but we cannot. Fenrir is more powerful than any of us. I fear only my brother can reach him."
"Tony," Steve said. "Thor's right. Just look at that thing."
Tony turned back. His heart was pounding, his mouth was dry, and he was itching to just fucking do something, anything, anything other than just standing there and watching.
For a long while, Loki and Fenrir simply faced each other, power crackling around them.
Then, suddenly, Fenrir lashed out, snapping at Loki, who retaliated with a whiplash of energy. Fenrir shifted back, and the two of them went back to staring each other down. After a while, Tony realised that Loki was talking, his lips moving quickly, smoothly. Fenrir had his head cocked to one side, listening.
And then he began to shrink. He grew smaller and smaller, seeming almost to collapse in on himself, until his shoulders were almost level with Loki's. Loki reached out and put one hand on Fenrir's flank, and Tony thought he saw him smile.
Then the two of them turned, and started off towards the portal.
Next to him, Thor gasped. "Brother, no-"
But nothing could be done. Fenrir passed through the portal first, a trail of sparks in his wake. Loki paused, the winds of wherever the portal led to snapping at his hair and his cloak, and Tony could have sworn that he turned to look back.
Then he stepped into the abyss, and was gone.
After that, things were very quiet in Avengers HQ. The portal had closed after Loki's surprise disappearance, so the only thing left for them to do was pick up the pieces and move on.
Damage control, Tony thought. It's always the goddamn damage control.
Thor was the worst. To his credit, he tried to cover it up. For a week after the battle, he had disappeared, presumably searching for his brother in whatever godforsaken corner of the universe Loki usually favoured. But when Thor returned, he was alone. He ate and drank and fought, and he was just as loud as ever. But now and then Tony would find him staring off into the middle distance, a lost expression on his face.
The others were varied. Natasha didn't comment. Steve, strangely, seemed sad ("C'mon, Tony," he had said in a quiet moment after the battle. "I think he could've been a good guy, given time."), whilst Clint's only hope was that Loki wouldn't return.
As ever, Tony didn't know how he felt.
What had there been, between Loki and him?
My supervillain boyfriend, he thought with a snort. We should have gone on Jerry Springer.
He had spent a little less than three weeks with Loki. He'd been thrown out of windows and had his neck broken, and he couldn't help it - he missed him.
Still, there was nothing to be done. Fury had categorically forbidden any more research than was necessary when it came to portals. Chances were Loki was either dead, or trapped with his son (and Tony had done the damn research now, fat lot of good that it did him) in the far reaches of the universe. There was only so far that teleportation could get you.
So, Tony worked, and Thor grieved. They repaired the property damage, patched themselves up and moved on. He slept with a couple of supermodels, resigned himself to dreaming of glittering green eyes and lean muscles shifting under pale skin.
And then, three weeks to the day after Loki had disappeared, Tony woke in the middle of the night to see a figure standing by the bar in his room.
"So, Stark," a familiar voice purred, and he could practically hear the smirk in it. "I believe I owe you a drink."
So, a few notes:
1. I'm not that happy with how this turned out, but I'm too brain-dead at the moment to write a better alternative .
2. Thank you so much for all the reviews etc. Much love for you all :3
3. If I decide to write a sequel...I don't know, I'll add an epilogue to this, and give you a link in the author's notes...? Like I said, I don't know. And if I do write a sequel, it won't be for a while, since I'm slightly preoccupied at the moment .
That's it, I guess o.O Hope you enjoyed it.