Das Ende der Welt; Das Ende unserer Welt
Rating: M for violence, profanity, sex, guns, alcohol, nicotine, gore, an animal getting hurt, and character deaths. I'm also adding Hollywood science, medical crap, and physics freeform to the warnings because all this research has made my brain numb.
Characters/Pairings: AU!Tony Stark/AU!Loki, Tony-centric
Summary: In which Agent A. Stark (codename: Iron Man) and his fellow SHIELD authority agents are on the hunt for a man who has committed fratricide, patricide, and various other crimes. The culprit in question just so happens to be the stepbrother of one of his close co-workers…and also a particularly memorable one-night stand partner that Stark finds himself gun-to-gun with the second time they meet.
Notes: Based on a mash-up of U.S. Marshalls/Wallander screenshots floating around Tumblr. Originally a one-shot on AO3 by the same time; cross-posted here in four parts. Enjoy!
It started off innocently enough.
If "innocently" meant a door being slammed open and shut in the span of two seconds, kicked closed by a foot since one party's hands were too occupied gripping the leather jacket of the other party and tugging him at his level. Meant mouths that clashed hungrily against each other, tongues that danced in a competition to lead, and low, demanding moans that rumbled in each other's throats. Meant arms that wrapped around each other, one set of fingers running through each other's dark hair, the other set gripping flesh that was most definitely not above the torso.
Meant clothes being shred more than shed, buttons coming loose, zippers being more of a problem than they should be. Meant the greedy slurps of the one who knelt, the satisfied groans of the one who stood. Meant the wanton cries of the one who had his legs wrapped around the other's waist and the sweet murmurs of the one who growled them into the receiver's ear as he thrust and pumped until they had both came and then collapsed at the edge of the bed.
Meant a few seconds after, deciding going another round, and then you know I've got enough room for one more if you know what I mean, and oh what the hell it wouldn't hurt to keep going because it hurt so good. Meant not giving one single fuck about whether or not anybody heard; if any of these two wanted to give a single fuck about anybody else, they would have stopped a while ago, and there was no purpose of not giving one single fuck since they've kind of gone beyond just one single fuck and one fuck more and the only thing they had to pay attention too was the other person that gasped above them, below them, whatever position from them, and finally across from them with their head rested on a pillow, hair damp and clinging to glistening skin, teeth showing in smiles that showed nothing below 100% approval.
If he had to go straight to the office of Webster or whoever the hell was in charge of controlling the English language to redefine the word "innocently" just so it could fit this particular Monday morning (late morning, Monday morning as in "dawn" was always unpleasant), he damn well would (and he probably damn well could with his occupation and his connections; he was always a man interested in making a big impact on the world in a big way).
It started off innocently enough.
"My family is holding a party this Friday."
The lighter-haired of the dark-haired men lifted his hand to the cigarette balancing on his lips, plucking it with his index and thumb before he exhaled slowly. He watched the clouds float, forming tendrils of smoke that slithered towards the ceiling of the flickering, incandescent light that illuminated the hotel room. He turned his head to his left side, where his partner for the evening snapped their green lighter shut.
Sirens were already going off in his head, and it wasn't even work yet. It was always a warning signal if the other party wanted to talk about their life – hell, they had some great chemistry earlier at the bar, but it was 80% flirting, 10% intellectual, 10% alcohol-influenced, and 0% personal. Stark didn't even know this guy's name, and the first thing Pretty Boy decided to say after "oh fuck that's it yes yes oh YES" was shit about his family problems?
He forced a smile towards Pretty Boy and decided the man was worthy enough to make a quip for anyway.
"Am I invited?"
Pretty Boy gave a chuckle devoid of any mirth, and shifted his eyes to him. Stark felt his heart skip a beat again (and it better not be the pacemaker failing, though if anyone asked he probably could die happy if he died this instant) because this guy had these amazing eyes, these bright fucking marbles of blue or green or maybe both. It was the first thing that drew his attention that midnight at the bar, that made him royally screw up his shot and land the eight-ball in too early – Pretty Boy here with those eyes the same tint as his bottle of Midori (who the fuckorders Midori at a bar like this? Why does this bar even have Midori?), looking right at him, giving a lascivious smirk and a playful wink when Stark had smiled invitingly first. It was why he had never made Pretty Boy turn around even once (when he was leading, anyway) during their lovely sex romp, savouring the lust and desire within them that spoke more volumes than the beautiful noises that came out of his mouth did.
This time, there wasn't that mischievous twinkle in them from before, or that bliss that Stark wanted to drown himself into – just this dull, half-lidded cynicism that had bugged Stark a little bit more than it should have as Pretty Boy graced his index and middle digit to his own cigarette, breathing out exasperatedly.
"Not even I am invited," Pretty Boy muttered.
Stark gave a sharp hiss, wincing.
"Ouch." He tilted his head curiously. "How'd you figure that out?"
A scoff laced the dry chuckle this time as Pretty Boy's eyes shifted upwards, following the trail of smoke.
"I received a text from one of them asking what time I would be there and if I'd be performing magic tricks for the younger ones."
Stark winced again as he clicked his tongue.
The green-or-blue-eyed man hummed in agreement, just barely shaking his head, disheveled black curls just barely moving with the motion. Stark smiled again, this one more genuine than the one a few minutes ago as he pointed his cigarette towards the svelte man.
"Well, look at it this way: maybe they're just all super jealous because you're the one who got the deep end of the gorgeous gene."
Pretty Boy laughed softly at this, casting his eyes back towards Stark.
"I'm touched by the romantic depth of your pillow talk, but I was under the impression that this wouldn't stretch beyond one night," he teased.
His eyes looked back down again, and he took a long puff before he spoke quietly again.
"It's not them who are envious anyway."
And there were the sirens again. This one would get him in trouble if he wasn't careful.
"Hey, I was under the impression that this wouldn't stretch beyond one night," Stark taunted back.
Pretty Boy arched a chastising eyebrow with a lopsided smirk in response. Stark rolled his eyes and groaned.
"Listen, it's your family, for Christ's sake. I emphasize that last part since this is December so I'm gonna go ahead and guess it's a Christmas party, and not showing up to one of those when there's family involved is asking for it." He took a quick puff before continuing. "I'm sure they wouldn't mind if you dropped by with a casserole, some presents, and a six-pack. Especially the six-pack, that's important, or maybe something classy like Asti. I mean, if one of them is bothering to text you with the expectation that you were invited – "
"It doesn't work that way – "
"That means you're close to them."
"I am not close to any of them," the man snapped, glaring away icily.
The expression thawed.
"The 'gorgeous gene' isn't even theirs."
And there it was. The miscalculation of where to step so as not to sound off the alarm that screamed "Danger, code red, priority higher than a motherfucker, get the fuck out of there now". Evacuation was absolutely necessary right about now – if he wasn't so damn exhausted thanks to this good-looking asshole.
Stark brought back that tight-lipped, forced smile for him, and he hated having to put it on for a guy who was probably super sweet and 100% perfect boyfriend material; smooth gentleman by day, sex god by night. But Stark was a busy guy with a busier job. It was how his last relationship fell apart; fuck, it was always how the last relationships fell apart. And it was a known-fact anyway that Stark never liked letting people get close to him, regardless of the Golden Rule of One-Night Stands.
He took one last puff before extinguishing the cigarette into an ashtray that sat on the small desk next to him (in which there was supposed to be a lamp on it that somebody must have stolen since there was a circle in the center of this dusty piece of crap and oh shit if that was how the desk looked how clean were the beds and the walls fuck. God, this one didn't deserve such a cheap hotel, this one deserved Delta or The Four Fucking Seasons), and sweeping his side of the covers away. Bending over to pick up his pants and his underwear – as well as let Pretty Boy get one last good look at his ass – he tilted his head far back enough to shoot Pretty Boy one more smile; a confident and cocky grin.
"Well, then, let 'em know what they're missing out on. If it goes wrong, fuck it. Go have a party with yourself, or some other dashingly handsome young rogue or sweet fair maiden. Not the end of the world."
Pretty Boy huffed.
"The Mayans believed otherwise last year. The gullible believe they were one year behind."
Stark's grin grew wider as he attempted to button what was left of his shirt.
"As much as I love the Mayans for their contribution to the misunderstood beauty that is mathematics, you should ignore what they said, what these even stupider idiots are saying, cheer up, have some scotch, buy those presents, and go to that party." He grabbed his coat as he walked towards the door, pausing momentarily to look one last time at his evening lover. "Knock 'em dead, Pretty Boy."
And something was off about the obviously disappointed smile and nod that Pretty Boy gave him, but he had paid it no heed as Pretty Boy glanced away.
"Perhaps I will."
It turned into something that was far from innocent.
Maybe it was because it was Friday 13th when everything started to turn into complete and utter fucking bullshit. Of course it had to be Friday the fucking 13th. Of all the frustrating things that 2013 wanted to throw at humanity just to revel in the schadenfreude of it all (including a huge bunch of conspiracy theorists who keep preaching about how 2012 wasn't the year everyone was going to die; no, it was the year after because 13 is the unlucky number), of course they had to make December's 13th day fall on Friday.
Of course it would have to involve one of his co-worker's siblings getting murdered that night.
SHIELD (which stood for the Superior Headquarters for Immediate Enforcement of Law Division) was a law-enforcement agency under the United States of America government, main headquarters stationed in the city of New York that was named after its state. Arguably, they specialized in everything within the land of the free, but it was mostly cold cases and the super serious and serial crimes. They were the extra back-up that NYC's police department could get a hold of when something went really wrong and their own detectives weren't enough.
This wasn't exactly a cold case, nor was it super serious and serial by the standards of SHIELD – but one of his co-worker's siblings was murdered. That was more than enough reason for Director Fury to reflect on the standards that SHIELD has based on involving themselves right away in local police investigations, before you proceed to not give a flying fuck about them and just get your motherfucking asses there A-fucking-SAP.
Agent Donar Odinson's (code name: Thor) was a man that Stark had never ever seen cry, not once in his employment at SHIELD or the times they worked together with Squad A. Odinson's expressions of emotions were as huge as his physical build – when he was happy, you could absolutely tell he was happy by the stupid grin on his bearded face, the whoops and hollers he would make like the jock he probably was in high school, and the well-meaning slaps and punches he would give to his fellow colleagues that would leave bruises for days (even with bulletproof vests underneath the suits). When he was angry, you could definitely tell he was angry by the thunderous look on his face, the literal roars that left his mouth,and the occasional table that was flipped. (Oh, but it was nothing compared to when Agent Banner got pissed off – you wouldn't think it at first but Bruce was fucking terrifying when he got angry. There was a reason his code name was Hulk and everyone who found out why found out the hard way.)
So when Stark saw Odinson sitting in front of the steps of the giant house surrounded by yellow police tape, with snow gathering on his hair and shoulders, gloved hands folded over his mouth, and eyes strained and streaming tears, it definitely felt like his heart had dropped into his stomach.
He brought a hand up to the left side of chest – just for his own reassurance – as he exchanged uneasy glances with Captain S. Rogers (head agent of Squad A, actually, but they called him Captain anyway, sometimes with "America" added at the end because of how the man practically bled golden patriotism every now and then).
It was Rogers that slipped under the police tape first and approached Odinson, placing a hand on his shoulder and being the one to console him. It was Stark that decided not to once he saw Odinson's face completely crumple and his shoulders shake, turning his head away because he would not be able to handle this and he was terrible at condolences anyway.
When it seemed like none of the damn cops would go up to him and tell him what the fuck went down, he chose to approach Agent N. Romanov (code name: Black Widow) because if anybody knew what just happened, it was going to be her.
This woman was one of the higher-up agents for the reason; she knew everything about everything. It was her, the Director, and one of the other agents (Agent Coulson; he didn't give a damn what the asshole's first name or code name was, this guy had dated his last ex-girlfriend after she had left him) that had recruited him full-time into SHIELD, based on literally every underground piece of shit he had been involved with in the past that Romanov had uncovered, and initiated him into Squad A based on his level of expertise.
He didn't even have to ask as he opened his mouth and Romanov interjected.
"There was a family gathering here for the Odinsons." Romanov nodded towards Agents Rogers and Odinson. "Don arrived right before anybody could tell what was going on, so he didn't see what was happening, but from what his family told him, the lights went out before they could do anything. Police suspect an EMP bomb, but none of us have found anything yet. When they finally managed to get their hands on a flashlight, they found his brother dead in a lounge, stabbed in the heart."
Stark clicked his tongue, eyeing the mansion uneasily.
"Well, somebody crashed that party hard. I had no idea Glam Rock lived in such a nice house, because that is a nice house. How much does he get paid again? Wait, no, he lived in an apartment, I remember; me, Barton, and Banner played foosball there once and watched The Usual Suspects smashed because none of us ever saw it except Banner. Totally called that guy being Keyzer Soze the moment they did the line-up scene, by the way. But yeah, so I assume Daddy Morbucks owns this house then?"
Romanov looked nonplussed as she finished tying her hair back. The redhead (naturally, though every month she'd dye and style it something else; either she did secret undercover covert shit for SHIELD or the guys she dated were all psychopaths or something) lifted a brow towards him.
"Anthony – "
Anthony gave a tut of protest, pointing a finger at her warningly.
"Tony – "
"No, Natasha, we talked about this," he interrupted, lowering his gaze. "Ever since you essentially violated all my privacy just to get me where I am now, you are not and never will be worthy of using first-name acknowledgement for me, even for abbreviations, Tasha."
Natasha rolled her eyes.
"Agent Stark. Would you like to see what happened before our medical examiner gets their hands on Agent Odinson's brother?"
And the prospect of that was enough to make Agent A. Stark (code name: Iron Man) stroll right on under the police tape with Romanov in stride through the back doors – walking by Rogers and Odinson at this particular moment was just asking for trouble – straight through the five-star kitchen, the giant-ass dining room which still had food on plates, the hallway decorated with paintings of what Stark assumed was the Odinson men generation after generation (and boy did this totally not remind him of his childhood days, nope, not one bit) before they finally arrived at the lounge where –
Oh. Okay, yeah, seeing a body lying at the doorframe, face-up with bulging eyes and cloth stuffed in his mouth, and a goddamn silver butterfly knife embedded straight in the left chest cavity would undoubtedly crash a party hard.
Stark's hand twitched, but he balled it into a fist and slipped it into his jacket pocket, rummaging for the one thing that would allow him to look closer at the body. It was Romanov who had given the introductions to the police, however.
"Agent Romanov and Agent Stark." She reached inside her coat and presented her badge in unison with Stark. The Silver Eagle disappeared as soon as it had appeared. "Superior Headquarters for Immediate Enforcement of Law Division. If our captain or the chief-of-police hasn't already told you, this investigation is officially being overseen by SHIELD now. All details and reports will be sent over to SHIELD for assessment as soon as they are processed through your detectives' department." She gave them a small smile for good measure. "Your cooperation and involvement in the investigation is imperative and highly acknowledged."
That was the moment Stark took advantage of as he crouched next to the corpse. He stared it down, noting every detail he could – lavender-tinted dress shirt, white blazer, blue scarf, grey slacks. Short brown hair, eyes as blue as his brother's, and a build even bigger than his brother's. He lifted his head up towards the cops and Romanov – and suddenly frowned.
"Was this guy fly with the ladies?" Stark murmured. "He's easy on the eyes, it's not a ridiculous notion that maybe one of his many evil ex-girlfriends – scratch that, actually, it could have been a present girlfriend who was getting tired of putting up with his shit, and God don't I know that feeling – she could have done this. Like, let's be completely serious for a moment here. How much bad luck do you have to have to die under the fucking mistletoe?"
The cops and Romanov looked up towards the doorframe, decorated with tinsel, garland, and – sure enough – the best holiday excuse for stealing kisses next to New Year's Day, tied with a red ribbon and complete with sparkly silver beads since the plant was evidently plastic.
(Ostentatious rich cheap-asses. His father went all-out for Christmas bashes when he was younger.)
"Our primary suspect is one of his brothers found in the room with him," one of the cops responded. He nodded towards Romanov. "We have him in custody, and we'll be turning him over to SHIELD for interrogation."
Romanov gave a single, stoic-faced nod back in response, and Stark tsked as he stood back up, shaking his head down at the fallen Odinson.
Looks like this family wasn't going to have a happy holiday anytime soon.
It was the 15th when Stark realized exactly how far from innocent it really was.
"Hodar Odinson, thirty-nine years old."
Out of general good intentions and SHIELD standard (as well as common sense), Agent Odinson had been given a leave of absence despite his protests. It was probably why the glum feeling that hung in the air was more depressing than it should have been since Odinson's chair was the only one not occupied in the lounge.
"He was going to the bathroom before the lights were cut out, and he fell over the victim's body in the dark." Romanov flipped through the file in her hand at the table with one hand, the other reaching for the cup of coffee nearest her. "He had tried to help the person in question get back up – only for his hands to touch the knife. He said he had smelled blood so he was afraid he had injured someone, but the moment he felt Balder's shirt where the knife was connected, he knew what had happened, just as the rest of the family found them when his dog started panicking."
"Forget about what this guy smelled. You know what I smell? That right there is the smell of bullshit. You expect us to believe this?"
All heads of Squad A turned towards their fellow agent aiming a dart at a giant poster replica of a cherub painting; pink tush, golden bow, heart-shaped arrowheads, swan wings, and everything. Agent C. Barton (code name: Cupid when he had received that poster with his face originally superimposed on the head, before he had slapped a picture of Stark's mug over it and went back to being Hawkeye) squinted an eye, before he let the dart fly and hit the cherub's left ass-cheek.
Stark winced audibly as he made a big show of reaching for his backside.
"Oooh, I felt that one, man."
Barton shot back a flat grin.
Romanov did not resist the urge to roll her eyes before she raised her coffee cup towards Barton, scrutinizing her closest comrade (and everyone knew this; there was a betting pool that Stark was sure they knew about in terms of whether or not they were going to hook up any time soon).
"Barton, no offense, but I trust your sense of vision more than your sense of smell," she remarked.
"Then see what I'm seeing here," Barton retorted, leaning back in his chair as he picked up another dart from the table. He spun it in his fingers as he looked towards everyone, just as Rogers looked over Romanov's shoulder at the file. "The 'I was trying to find the bathroom' is the oldest fucking excuse in the book. He wasn't present with the – what? Other ten, excluding their servants and the kids, since they were dining?"
"Eleven," Rogers interjected, squinting at the folder and the contents of it. "According to the other family members, there had been twelve guests – "
"No, Glamour-Pants, I said that this Hotter guy wasn't with the rest of his folks when he was dining. Neither was Baldy. If they were, then there would have been twelve at the table. Banner, Stark, back me up, you guys are the smart ones of this group."
Stark and Banner, who were sitting next to each other, exchanged brown-eyed glances before they looked back at Barton condescendingly; an evident sign that no, they were not going to back him up. The dart was thrown irritably – just as the dossier was tossed towards Barton's direction. Rogers pointed two fingers at the papers.
"If you read the interrogation reports closely, Agent Barton, there weren't just twelve guests that night."
The authoritative tone was enough to make Barton grumble something under his breath as he spread the individual sheets out in front of him; Stark and Banner had stood up and hovered over him as Barton's eyes darted up and down, left and right. Fifteen seconds later, they were looking back at Rogers and Romanov.
"Nope, my math was totally correct. It wastwelve guests – the thirteenth clearly wasn't invited to their party based on what everybody else said. He left the place around fifteen or twenty minutes before the murder happened anyway, so he ain't important."
Banner's eyebrows furrowed as he pushed his glasses back up, lips pursing in thought as he pulled one of the accounts closer to him. Stark did the same, picking up the sheet closest to Barton and flipping it over.
"Hold on, Hawk." Banner frowned. "The thirteenth guest could be important. Really important, actually."
Stark's eyebrows rose in perfect timing. Barton just scoffed at Banner as Stark resisted the urge to slap Cupid across the face with the folder.
"No, he's not. Hotrod was right there when Bald-Guy died. Right there. He planted a timed EMP or set the whole lighting system to shut off at a certain time, and he tackled, gagged, and stabbed the guy while the lights were still out. Look at the report on the fingerprints that were found on the knife, they fucking matched and they were shown to be in a position where the handle was definitely gripped for attack. He would have gotten away with it too if their dog hadn't freaked the fuck out."
Everyone stared at Stark, who was still looking at the papers with narrow eyes. He didn't pay any heed to Barton folding his arms and staring at him like he'd completely lost twenty brain cells.
"'Scuse me? His dog, their dog, same shit."
"Mmm, no, not same shit, not even close. Oh, will you look at that, he had a cane too."
"Stark, what the fuck are you talking about?"
"Barton." And now Stark was shoving the paper straight in his face as he jutted a finger at it. "Oh, my God. Barton, for the love of everything that's still sacred, seriously. You might have this stupidly incredible 20/20 vision that extends as far as you can fire your damn arrows from that really unconventional crossbow you always use – come on, we are in the 21st Century, not the Bronze Age, I would rely more on your glock than that – and you have the speed-reading abilities and photographic memory a college kid wishes they had the day before the midterm they didn't study for. But your eyes are even more poor than this guy's is."
And Barton did read. And his eyes widened. And he glared at Stark before he focused back to Romanov, and Stark could swear he could see the steam hissing out of his ears.
Banner's eyes also widened.
"He's blind?" he echoed, picking one of the sheets back up and skimming it, and oh man, Barton was absolutely fuming right now and it was just as rich as his face when he had first seen the poster. Stark did not hide a smug grin.
"Yes, lady and gentlemen – our primary suspect is indeed blind."
"As a fucking bat, apparently," Barton grumbled.
"Actually – " Stark and Banner interjected, but not before Romanov raised a hand. The corner of her lips had curved ever-so-slightly just enough so that Barton could catch it.
"I was wondering when you would catch onto that."
"You hid details from me, from the whole damn team, for your personal amusement on my behalf?"
The shrug she gave only prompted Barton to inhale sharply, trying his best not to flip the table.
"What can I say, Barton? I thought you needed to focus a little more as of late; I figured public humiliation in front of the whole team was the best way."
Barton cursed, Banner snickered, Rogers shook his head with an eye-roll, and Stark chuckled, continuing to skim the file and – wait, why did this sound eerily familiar to something somebody might have told him?
"Okay, children, that's enough," the Captain groused, reaching for the remaining sheets in the dossier and placing them back in front of Romanov. "Now that we've lost our biggest suspect, we can focus on the other suspect – the thirteenth guest who wasn't invited in the first place. Who was this fella, and what were his reasons for not being invited?"
Stark's eyes flew open.
"Loki Odinson, thirty years old. Second youngest brother next to Balder. He was adopted at a very young age, which was kept hidden by his parents until a few years ago when his birth father had approached him in a university psychology class and revealed the truth."
"Even before then, the family had noticed tension when it came with him. The father – well, his stepfather – said that as of late, Loki had been incredibly bitter towards him and a few of his other family members, attempting to gain sympathy by twisting his words. He was never given an invitation out of fear that he would cause even more tension in the family, or start unnecessary drama while everyone was having a good time."
"Do we have a photo of Mr. Loki Odinson, Agent Romanov?"
"Yes, Captain. We have one; it's a family portrait and it's dated from two years back, but we've picked him out and according to the family, he still pretty much looks like this."
The photo was displayed at the center of the table, and everybody leaned closer in to get a better look at the man circled with a red marker.
"What the hell does he have anything to be jealous of?" Barton muttered. "Shit, look at the guy! Feel free to judge me after I say this, but I'm not sure whether or not I want to be him or screw him."
Romanov almost choked on her coffee at that. Rogers shot a testy glare towards Barton, before he noticed Stark balling his fists and gawking at the photo.
"Agent Stark," the Captain said. "Do you recognize this man?"
Ignoring the eyes that focused back on him, Agent Stark swallowed as he fought to gather his thoughts – his thoughts, damn it, not a bunch of memories of those swollen lips, that pale skin, those slender fingers, that velvety voice, the leather jacket, those black curls, and those eyes...
The last three things which were present on the man known as Loki, together with his apparently adopted family, standing next to Agent Odinson and their father (Odinson's father, Loki's stepfather) with arms linked around their shoulders, and a smile on his face that didn't quite match the expression in those eyes.
Those stupid fucking blue-green eyes.
"Oh, yeah," Stark hissed, and only now he realized that one of his hands was at his pounding heart and the other gripping the edge of his table. He allowed himself to finally exhale, taking his hand away from his chest and pointing his index straight at Loki. "Barton's right, you can't forget a guy like this, no way. Because that's him. That's the guy who did it, he absolutely 100% fucking did it and fuck. That guy right there – that's Pretty Boy. And we need to start looking for his ass."