Disclaimer: I do not own the Marvel universe in any way, shape, or form.
Warnings: violence, blood, emotions and stuff. Men attracted to other men. The usual.
Author's Note: I'm still working my way through all my fic requests on tumblr. If you want to put one in, it's kysis-the-bard(.)tumblr(.)com and click on the ask box. I allow anon asks, so you don't have to be on tumblr to throw one my way.
He coughed, blood splattering the inside of his helmet. It darkened the HUD display, staining the frantically blinking warning signs and numbers which couldn't mean anything good. Tony grunted, trying to lift his head. It hurt all the way to his tailbone.
The heads up display flickered.
He was losing power.
His limbs wouldn't move, the light weight of his titanium alloy suit like a lead coffin, pinning him down. The eyes on his suit flashed, the rubble around him vanishing for a moment. He needed to get his helmet off, survey the damage, but the hydraulics in his suit weren't exactly cooperating. He'd taken one too many hits for that.
The others were busy with a whole squadron of angry robots and here he was, com system fried, suit fried, arc reactor very close to fried, under a half collapsed building.
They wouldn't find him in time.
So this was how it was going to happen.
Tony let out a shaky sigh, a mix of blood and phlegm and bile frothing from his lips. On the fading HUD screen he could see his heart rate. 160 beats per minute. He could feel the blood rushing through his ears, training through ruptured and broken veins. He could feel the cold sweat creeping over his skin.
Silence greeted him. Not even his AI was here with him.
Something moved his head. Tony tried looking up, but the display went out all together. The whir of his suit sputtered out, the light from the triangle on his suit snuffed. This was it.
The manual release locks released on the sides of his helmet, someone pulling it off him.
It was dark. Sunlight strained through a few gaps in the rubble, brought to life by pulverized concrete seeping through like sand between fingers. That was his life. His sand was about to run up.
Worried grey eyes filled his vision, black brows pulled together in a frightened manner. Tony almost didn't recognize him at first. That gaze, that terrified gaze, not recognizing.
"You are hurt."
"No shit." Tony leaned his head back against the cold floor. Green and black tunic, black leather overcoat with delicate bronze fittings… Oh. This was worse than he had thought. "Robots didn't seem your style."
"This attack was not of my creation." Loki crawled on his knees to kneel next to him, ashen hands trembling as they moved just above his suit. That shrapnel really wasn't going to tear through his heart fast enough. "Tell me where—"
"What, so you can make my injuries worse?" Tony coughed again, spitting a mouthful of blood off to the side. "Can't you see I'm already dying?"
The villain pressed his hand to the dark triangle on his suit, looking up at him sharply. That fear in his eyes had only grown. "I can try to heal you. I have magics that—"
"My injuries aren't the problem." Tony turned his head away. It was the most movement he could make right now, with the suit dead around him.
"It is… the glowing device in your chest, then." Loki swallowed roughly, hand pressing a little harder against the clear plate. "I can try to start it, again, but it will take time, and with you bleeding like this—"
"Guess I'm out of luck then." Tony stared at the far wall—or what used to be a wall—and frowned.
"I never took you for the type to just give up."
Tony flinched. Leave it to the liesmith to turn his own words back on him. He should have expected it. And he wasn't just going to lay there and let himself die just to spite the man.
"You know what the manual release switches look like?" Tony glanced back over in time to see Loki nod. "Then get to work. Can't do anything trapped in this tin can."
Loki set to work immediately, shaking hands finding all the releases, prying him out of his suit with a surprising tenderness. He was glad for it, seeing as his left arm was broken in three places at least, his shoulder dislocated and hanging at the entirely wrong angle. Blood soaked his shirt, most of it from his abdomen. Tony looked down, regrettably. He could see intestines.
"You should not be speaking."
"I shouldn't be alive."
Loki frowned at him, but kept removing the armor piece by piece, as quickly as he could without moving him too much. Soon enough he was only in the half of the armor that was under him, which would have to do, because Tony was sure he'd pass out if he tried moving again.
A knife flashed in Loki's hand. Tony tensed. His breathing hitched. He could feel his mouth filling with blood, taste his life precariously balanced on the tip of his tongue. Loki slid the blade under his shirt, cutting him out of it without cutting him. That was…
"What are you doing?"
"Trying to save your life." Loki flicked his wrist, that knife vanishing again. He'd only ever seen the god use the glowstick of destiny and some other staff before, equally as flashy. There was something intimate about knives which just didn't sit right in his stomach. Maybe Loki threw them. That had to be it.
Cold hands pressed against his abdomen. Tony could feel him pushing his innards back in. It started as a tingling, almost like numbing, then cranked up to a full burn. Tony clenched his jaw, hands balling into fists. Three of his knuckles popped, painfully so. There was probably something broken in his hands, too.
Those hands moved up to his chest, palms firm, and so cold. Blood and sweat slicked them, let them slide smoothly. Tony glanced down. The view of his abdomen was blocked, thankfully. He really didn't want to see it again. His skin was looking like wax, though. The arc reactor was still dark.
Loki's eyes were shut, brows furrowed in concentration. Little beads of sweat collected above his brow, above his lip. Those lips were quivering.
His eyes snapped open.
"You…" Loki looked down, at his chest, at the reactor, then back up, anger igniting in those eyes.
Tony might as well start humming what he wanted as a funeral song. It couldn't be long off.
"You were going to die anyway." The accusation was biting, but that voice, that voice was everything but biting. "That is why you always throw yourself so hard into battles. Not because you care. But because you know you are going to die anyway."
"Pretty much." Tony let his head fall back down with a bang. Maybe he could give himself a concussion. Or make himself black out. That was a thought.
Loki brushed his fingers on the arc reactor. Cold water pattered on his chest. Tony looked up again.
The man was crying.
Groaning, Tony slammed his head down harder. This couldn't be happening. This was not happening. No way. No how.
Loki turned the arc reactor. It disengaged with a hiss. Tony tensed again, coughing hard. There wasn't so much blood now. That was more than a little worrying. He looked up again. Loki was holding the arc reactor like it was a precious diamond, cords hanging down from between his reverent hands.
He pressed his forehead to it, lips moving without sound. Maybe he was going deaf. That could be happening too. That would be good, even. He wasn't sure if he could stand hearing so much concern in Loki's voice anymore.
"Stop." Tony rasped the words out, reaching up with his right hand to try and grab the reactor back. He could see the faintest glow from it, so faint, not enough to get the electromagnet up and running. The pain in his chest was searing. It had just been a low burn when his suit went out, when the arc reactor went dark. It had grown. The shrapnel was moving. Pulsing closer.
"I have to try!"
Tony grabbed one of his hands, pressing it just above his heart. He pressed it down hard, hand shaking on the god's icy wrist. "Can you… can you feel it?"
Loki nodded. His face was streaked with tears, cutting deep grooves in the ash and dirt smudging it. And blood. He must have tried wiping the sweat off his face and smeared it with blood. It wasn't a good look.
That tingling sensation came again, reaching into him like electric fingers. Tony shivered, grip tightening on his wrist.
The building around them shuddered. Tony could hear yelling. It sounded like the Captain, maybe some others. Tony swallowed back another mouthful of phlegm—surprisingly only phlegm—and glanced in the direction of their voices. They couldn't be far.
They were too far off.
"If they… catch you here…" It felt like it took all his strength to turn his head just to look at Loki. The adrenalin was starting to die off. His whole body hurt like he'd been hit by the Other Guy. Repeatedly. "They will… capture you."
Loki pent his head to the arc reactor again, squeezing his eyes shut hard, as though that would make them vanish. It wasn't that easy. "If I cease contact with you, the metal in your chest will take apart your heart. Just a little longer and I can restart this device."
"They are too close."
Loki shook his head, pressing harder. Tony could feel the tendrils of magic in his chest, holding the shrapnel in place, could see the arc reactor slowly regaining some light, if barely.
A wall exploded a little while away. Tony lifted his head.
Captain America was sprinting for them.
He opened his mouth, but nothing came out.
The Captain grabbed Loki, yanking him away.
The arc reactor disconnected with a snap.
"No! I am trying to save him!" Loki fought. It would have worked, if he hadn't expended so much of your magic.
"Command, I need a medical team in here, ASAP. Stark is down."
"Let go of me! He is going to die!"
Captain America dragged him back.
Tony Stark could feel the moment when his heart ruptured.