Stargazing
by K. Stonham
first released 20th July 2012

Three days after Thor's lightning-strike return from Asgard, Tony finds the alien/demigod/heartthrob/whathaveyou Avenger out on the penthouse's patio, looking up.

"Stargazing?" Tony asks, stepping beside him. "Looking for home?" he adds as the thought occurs to him.

Thor smiles, a broad and genuine thing. "No. Even were this city's lights not so bright, Asgard cannot be seen from here."

"Well, then, what?" Tony sips his whiskey, savoring the smooth mellow flavor.

"Merely contemplating the wonders of your world, and how I might best contribute." Thor's smile turns sly. "The good Captain has offered that I may join him in his explorations."

Oh god, Tony thinks. The blind leading the... blond. Because they're both very blond, and both very lost when it comes to Earth circa 2012. "Could be interesting," he offers, wondering absently what the movie rights to something like that might bring.

"Indeed." Thor looks heavenward again and his expression shifts to something more pensive.

Tony is nothing if not shrewd when it comes to reading others' minds. It's a handy business skill. "Loki," he guesses.

"Indeed."

He hates to be the bearer of bad news, but when Thor returned and told them what Odin Allfather's punishment for his wayward son was... well, Tony knows himself. And he knows that he and Loki are too similar for comfort. "He's not going to stay there."

Thor looks back at him, expression inscrutable.

Tony sets down his drink. "I was captured by a terrorist organization. Held in a cave in Afghanistan. Tortured. I had to lug around a battery to keep the shrapnel out of my heart." The arc reactor is cool and smooth even through his shirt. His outward scar. All his others, like everyone else on the team's, are inside. "It took me three months, but I got out of there, with this," a tap of fingers on the reactor, "and a suit of armor, and I blew the place to shit on the way out."

Tony looks Thor straight in the eyes. "I don't care what your dad's doing to him." A cave. The drip of water. The burn of acid, and of knowing himself helpless. "Loki is not going to stay put in that prison. I found a way out, he'll find a way out." He doesn't say, and then he'll come gunning for us, because he doesn't need to. Thor knows it too. Tony can see it in his expression.

The god of thunder nods in wordless agreement.

But Thor is also the god of blacksmiths, hammer and all, and mechanical engineering is just the modern expression of smithery. So Tony understands how he works.

"And someday," Tony continues, because he believes this is truth too, he has to, "he'll get it through that fancy-armored head of his that what he's doing is wrong."

That startles Thor. "And you know this because...?"

"Because he and I are just alike." Distant father, favoring a golden son - or World War II friend - that neither of them could live up to. Wanting to tell the world to take its disdain and shove it. Wanting to show them all...

But you can't make the pain better by sharing it with others. Not that way. The world doesn't work like that.

Tony realized this eventually. Loki will too. Because Thor's brother is, by all accounts, smart as a whip. It may not be in a year, it may not be in ten... hell, it may not be in Tony's lifetime. But someday. Someday Loki will redeem himself.

And when he does, Tony thinks, the things the god of mischief will do will be glorious.

Picking up his glass again, Tony stands next to Thor, both of them looking skyward. Stargazing.


A/N: Written, of course, because of Tony's "Sonuvabitch" moment/realization of how alike he and Loki are. And about how, thus, Loki is never going to just stay in that prison. And about how Tony has to believe that Loki can redeem himself, because otherwise Tony can't believe in his own ongoing redemption process.