It had taken great efforts on Tony's behalf to coax Loki to not hold the video conference with Bruce while in full Asgardian battlement. Or helmet, or scepter, or disturbingly large snakes.

What ever post blowjob relaxation time there should have been between them was sacrificed when Tony suggested they make the call. Since then Loki's been more than a little standoffish. His banter holding more bite to it than customary.

Tony had been reduced once more the Evolutionary Larva. Joy.

Sitting at his desk he swivels his chair a few times before calling up the interface. "Jarvis, bring up my cell phone, its Bruce's' phone now, update the phonebook on that."

"Already done, sir." Jarvis says before the most annoying tone on earth starts to sound. It takes a total of two rings for Bruce to pick it up, the guy sounds a little out of breath across the line.

"Tony! Hey. You caught me off guard. It's been a few hours."

"Yeah. I got busy. I can talk now. Why don't you go up to the roof and check out the stars I think Asgard is visible this time of year." He says, settling back in his seat and waiting for the other man to go up.

Tony had set up the rooftop of Stark Tower with an array of signal blocking tech, it hadn't come in useful at all when someone had decided to try and open a dimensional portal up there but it was still handy to have on a day to day I-work-with-spies kind of situations.

Rotating his chair to watch Loki across the lab as he listens to the soft sounds of movement over the phone. The god is fiddling with a screwdriver and trying to fake interest in the blueprints on the table next to him. Maybe he's just giving himself something in hand to throw at Tony in his next fit of rage. It really has been one of those last few hours.

The sound of Bruce beating feet up the stairs is eclipsed with a cthunk of a door opening and closing.

"Okay. I can talk now."

"That's nice. Switch over to video conversation. I think I want this a little eye to eye." He says, turning away from the quietly brooding god and back to the interface.

Bruce tumbles over the line and a moment later a slightly grainy feed comes up on the interface. Tony smiles brightly at it.

"Nice to see you're still alive." Bruce says, narrowing his eyes and pushing his glasses up his nose like he's concentrating on the small screen of the phone. "You've got company I see."

"Oh, him?" Tony blinks and tilts his head back to look at a momentarily upside down Loki across the room watching with interest. "Come here. I said I wanted you part of this."

"So you can display me to the dull beast?" Loki questions his smile all sharp teeth and even sharper eyes. "I would rather not."

"Will you-" Tony cuts of his frustrated bark by pinching his nose and leveling his look back to Bruce.

The good doctor doesn't look fazed in the least just like he's holding back ill contained curiosity. Tony holds up a hand in the universal 'give me a moment' as he gets up and strides across the room.

Loki's spine straightens and his grip on the screw driver turns white knuckled as he approaches. What ever toxic thoughts are traveling through Loki's mind Tony's sorry for them. He's still learning the rules of the odd dance he and Loki have going but he's pretty sure stabbing wasn't part of the steps in the manual he got.

"He's not big and green and going to beat you against the floor. Please." Tony says in a low enough voice that no matter how good his speakers are, Banner can't hear it. Loki's eyes only narrow into poison green slits of seething distrust and anger.

"Please." Tony tries again, even softer this time as he holds out his hand for Loki's. It takes a moment, and a million emotions flit over Loki's face before he reaches out and sets his subtly shaking hand it into his. Tony doesn't use it to lead him over to his desk instead he brings the palm against his arc reactor under his chest. Quietly watching as Loki draws in a shuttering breath and closes his eyes. His long fingers clenching in the fabric around his reactor like he wants to rip it out... or cling to it.

Tony doesn't say stupid things like its okay, or that Loki can leave upstairs. Sentimental shit he knows would just piss him off if the situation was reversed and he had to go face to face with someone who did honestly beat the life out of him.

Tony just holds his hand there against his reactor, rubbing small circles on the inside of Loki's wrist with his thumb till some of the tension leaves the god's shoulders and those green eyes slowly open up once more.

He offers Loki his best smile and arches an eyebrow. "Do we need a kiss?" He whispers as he lets Loki take his hand back.

"I think I hate you this moment. Your beard disgusts me." Loki says loud enough for Bruce to hear because the man is coughing back a chuckle on the screen. For what it's worth Loki does walk across the lab and over to the interface, taking his place behind Tony's desk chair with his hands clasped behind his back. His face schooled into something closed off and diplomatic. Looking quite like the powerful prince even without the armor.

Bruce shifts a little, the screen bouncing with the movement, "Ah, hi?"

Loki tilts his head in acknowledgment.

"Come on! See. That wasn't so bad! We can all go out now and get beer and watch baseball and-" Tony shuts his mouth at the glare that comes from Loki. Taking his seat back in his desk chair like a punished child.

Bruce is smiling again though like the bastard is actually enjoying watching Tony squirm under the god's glare.

"Okay, so where do we start?"

"How about from the top? That seems simple enough." Bruce says, the screen shifting for a moment as he sits on an air vent or something. Raking his fingers through his wavy hair with a little weary sigh.

"Start with how this." He waves his free hand, obviously referencing Tony and Loki standing in one room and not murdering each other and possibly almost displaying affection from a distance, "Started."

So Tony does. He tells him about the earthquake, and Loki's spell. Loki fills in the bits he can't; the bits about the tree of nine realms and the demon in the darkness Loki had made the deal with when he fell from Asgard. He gives the barest details about the fever and blood and Loki ends up having to heft up his tunic to show the stitches over the phone. Bruce actually seems pleased with Tony's patch up job.

They leave out little parts like the Casket and sex.

When they end up to current Tony's shocked to see they've been at this for over two hours, Loki's arms lazily crossed on the back of his desk chair and his eyes aren't quite as sharp as they were a while ago. He looks tired. Tony realizes, a protective need flaming through his heart as he wants to pull Loki into the bed and hold him close as he sleeps.

Bruce is rubbing his eyes like he's tired over there too, "That's a lot to swallow, but I'm trying. You've got my hand if you need any help doing this and I won't say a word to anyone over here till you want me to."

Good Ol' Bruce. Smiling, Tony feels like hugging the guy but the couple thousand mile difference kind of stops him. "It's good to know you're on our team."

"I'm going to try and steal some food from Steve, you two... yeah." Bruce sighs and shakes his head, Loki unfolding himself to his full height once more and offering a nod before walking away across the lab leaving Tony to the farewells.

"I'll call you when I can, and make sure you're up to date once the spell is complete." Tony offers, tearing his eyes off of Loki's retreating form.

"You do that; I'll do my best to keep everyone out of your hair. That new project you're working on seems to be coming along well enough but it's a little obvious how volatile it still is." Bruce says with a tired smile before disconnecting the call.

As a cold sort of silence fills the room he swivels his chair to look at Loki who's once again standing by one of the tables, pushing and tweaking cables that hang down from the inside of a bot he'd been repairing long before this all happened.

o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

"That went well. I think it went well. It went well for me anyways. You look..."

"Choose your words carefully, Tony." Loki warns letting the wires drop from his hands.

"You look tired." Tony says softly, the chair squeaking across the room and Loki glances to see the mortal kicking his feet up onto the table.

"I feel tired." He admits, turning and leaning his hip against the workbench. Crossing his arms over his chest. He feels tired and old, far older than he's ever felt. The world a heavy yolk on his shoulders weighing him down till the only thing keeping him standing is his steel pride.

The man behind the beast was everything Loki had secretly feared he would be. Brilliant and observant. Not quite to the degree as Tony but still unnervingly so. Loki has spent so many years with such dull minded men at his side that to have brilliance bearing down on him it is disturbing. Midgard is not what he'd originally thought it to be.

"Come're." Tony says, shifting how he's sitting and waving for him to come over with a twitch of his wrist.

He's too worn and wasted to deny him, to stubbornly gloat that he, Loki; a god, does not need coddling.

He wants it. From this selfish, stupid... perfect mortal man, Loki wants it.

Letting Tony lead him up stairs and to the soft large bed he's grown so fond of.

"He is a wise man." He says into the darkness, lying with his head against Tony's chest. That strong beat in his ear with the hum of the reactor. It's a sound Loki's not sure how he'll ever sleep the same without it again.

"Bruce?" Tony grunts, shifting a little to slip the leather thong from his hair and comb his fingers though the curled ends. "Yeah. He's a bit of a smart guy. Not like me smart. No one is as smart as me."

"No one is as modest as you." He says dully, painting his fingers with the arc's light as he traces the disk.

Tony's chuckle a pleasing rumble up from his chest.

The room falling back into a gentle warm silence. Letting his eyes fall closed for a moment, the feel of Tony's fingers stroking against his scalp and down his neck lulling him. Twitching back to awareness as Tony shifts a little.

Drawing his hand up to Tony's chin he grips his beard growth and pulls him till the mortal's eyes are looking through the darkness to him. The crooked smile there turns Loki's insides to liquid.

"Still loathe my goatee?" He asks, tongue darting out to lick Loki's fingers.

"I despise it much. Never remove it." He sighs, releasing the man's face and curling back up against his side. Absorbing himself in the beat of Tony's heart and warmth there.

"I'm sorry." Tony says breaking the quiet, his voice strained and the words sound incredibly honest. "I don't think much. Not the way I should. I didn't think that you'd be upset coming face to face with him."

"It's over now." Loki says as he closes his eyes once more, blocking out the world around them. "I assure you, I have been through worse."

Tony scuffs like he's holding back saying something and Loki is glad, the breath ruffling his hair a little.

o0o0o0o0o0o0o

The time more passed in the slow sweep of the sun over the floor and the tickles of breath against skin. A detached tingle of magic here and the glow of his interface there.

Not once does he suit up.

Jarvis doesn't have to remind him to eat.

He still ignores calls from almost everyone but his reasons for his self imposed solitary, plus one, is much different than it used to be.

He draws blueprints up for a lab of sorts that he's not sure will ever be built.

Tony ignores the fact that their own clock is counting down. Not just waiting for the potion to brew but for Loki's magic to return to full power. For him to complete his spell and move on. To do what ever it is gods do in exile. Flee. Hide.

Alone.

Tony taps a beat against his reactor as he sits on the couch and really tries hard not to think. Watching the sun sparkle over sapphire waves as Loki pokes the pot of death in the kitchen. He wants to burn the fucking kitchen down to get rid of the stench in it.

Turning his head from the glittering waves he watches Loki in the kitchen. Black brows drawn in concentration, his hair falling forward around his face as he pours a ladle full of crimson dredges into a crystal decanter. Ever careful not to spill a drop.

The druid soup is as thick as cream now and the same vivid red color that he wears on his suit.

"So that's it? All that work and stink for some kool-aid? It's all a little anticlimactic if you ask me."

"This is only the first half." Loki says blowing his hair from his face in exasperation as he fills the rest of the decanter. Holding the vivid sludge up to the sun and examining it. "The second half is an easy incantation. The mirror complete?"

"Yup!" He smiles. It had been a pinch; Loki had needed two holes drilled into the corners of the mirrors so it could be hung from a frame with the silver wire. Tony for once had followed his orders to perfection. "All you got to do is pour that smelly shit over it."

"There are few potions I know of that have a pleasant odor Tony." Loki says with a crooked smile as he brings the decanter out to the patio where Tony had set up the mirror, per order. Following the god out and watching him kneel to tweak the angle of the mirror till it's reflecting the shining the sun. Flicking down his sunglasses from the top of his head he watches in rapid fascination.

Loki doesn't use his scepter but his hands to wave the spell into the air, the reflection of the sun shining in blue sky in the mirror turns monochromatic and Tony takes a cautious step back.

The only other spell he's seen Loki attempt ended up quite literally blowing up in both of their faces.

As though reading his mind Loki shoots him a frown, Tony shrugging and grinning sheepishly in response.

"You can come closer, this one will not blow up, that was your fault may I remind you." Loki points out as Tony comes closer once more; careful to stand where he's not blocking the sun's malevolent reflection in the mirror.

Standing to his feet Loki moves to the side of the frame and empties slowly the dredges of the decanter over the mirror where it slides down like blood in some B rated movie. At least out here in the sea breeze the stench isn't quite so bad.

"Is that it?" Tony watches unimpressed by the drip of the garnish liquid into the bowl below the mirror.

"Watch..." Loki hisses to him, his tone a little strained and Tony realizes he's still feeding magic into the mirror, his hands glowing faintly green in the harsh mid day light.

Watch he does too, the sludge bubbling as it makes its slow trek down the smooth mirror's surface to where it lands in the bowl in a hissing boil like it's dripped through a fire, not over glass. Swallowing thickly, he glances back to the mirror where the brew has run off. It's black... it's as black as the space he glimpsed before passing out in the portal. Not even stars winking in the distance.

He leans closer, trying to see something, anything in the darkness. Loki's hand on his arm in a hard grab stopping him from getting too close.

"I said watch; do not touch, do not get too close. A mirror is a one sided view into a world. I've used them many times to view into other worlds. This is different, this is a temporary window." Loki voice is soft, like he's almost afraid to talk too loud.

That's the tricky things with windows, they work both ways.

Tony takes a weary step back, Loki's hand sliding down his arm and holding onto his hand tight as the view in the mirror becomes clearer. The darkness shifting and changing like a camera panning around the view denser shapes shifting and moving amongst the inky black. Like shadows in a dark room, more an idea of motion than a view of it. There's something in the darkness.

Loki's hand on his tightens to a painful point; Tony had only spent a matter of moments in the terrifying darkness. Loki spent a year.

As a ripple of color appears in all the darkness., flickering like a flame against a wind.

"This is Yggdrasil... the barrier." The god breathes out and Tony returns the grip tight.

"It didn't look like that when you fell, did it?" He asks, the chill seeping down his spine, the sun and the waves forgotten around him as he watches the thin auroras wavers against the darkness pressing against it.

He wants to run away, to tell Loki to break the spell, watching in horror as the inky blackness seems too absorbed into the wavering rainbow of color, the protective barrier keeping everything safe.

So thin, so fragile.

"No." Loki whispers, his voice thin with fear. "I am out of time."

They only watch for a moment longer as the ribbon of energy dances. Loki releasing Tony's hand and going around to the back of the mirror, kicking his boot against it, the mirror shattering into a rain of glass down into the bowl. The spell broken. He takes a step back from the god as he picks up the crystal bowl full of glass and sordid liquid and pitches it off the edge of the porch and into the hungry ocean below.

"FUCK!" Loki screams out into the waves.

"Look at it this way; you've learned the use of the English language's most useful four letter word?" Tony tries, keeping his distance from the angry god as long as he can. Slowly stepping forward as Loki sinks to his knees at the patio edge. His green eyes searching the water below like it holds all the answers.

o0o0o0o0o0o

Tony's hand on his back is warm against the chills running down his spine. Grounding him as fear and anger threatens to send him into a fit of anger and darkness. Breathing deep swallows of the warm salty air he collects his thoughts around him. Slowly looking up to the bright sun before turning his attention to Tony, the man pushing his sunglasses up his nose and offering a weak smile in turn.

"I need a few more things from you." He says, having to swallow a few times before recognizing his own voice is a ruin.

"Shoot." Tony says, putting a warm arm around him and settling into a sit before pulling him against his side. "Anything you need, or want."

The hidden message there isn't lost to Loki at all. Letting out a rough breath and collecting his thoughts he begins to list what it will take for the final spell.