Title: Rough Edges
Chapter: 7 of 7 COMPLETE!
Fandom: Marvel (movie 'verse)
Beta: Shara Lunison
Pairings: Tony Stark/Loki Odinson(Laufeyson), Clint Barton/Phil Coulson, Natasha Romanoff/Clint Barton, Thor Odinson/Jane Foster
Warnings: Spoilers for The Avengers (2012) and prequel films, angst, implied torture
Summary: Sequel to Like So Much Shattered Glass. Loki has found a place amongst the Avengers as a member of their team, but he's made a great many enemies in the process and life is never easy.
A/N: A day early. Because I love you people.
And this would have been up way earlier, but today was kind of nutters. And by nutters, I mean busy. *flail*
It didn't take Loki much longer to hunt down the room Stark was in. She stepped through the open doorway with sharp eyes, looking for any sign of someone she could tear apart, only to hear a crunch as she stepped on something. She glanced down and found the covering for the arc reactor shattered under her boot, pieces of it leading her eyes to where a man with a metal mask for a face stepped forward, laughing. As Loki watched, the laughing man motioned and with a sparkle of silver magic, a curtain drew back to show Stark laying, too still, against a metal table, a gaping hole in the centre of his chest where the arc reactor had once been.
"Did I not say I would see you destroyed?" the masked man said before laughing again.
The ice of Loki's birthright frosted over her fingers and clothing, climbed across the floor and through the pieces of arc reactor, as though they weren't there. And Loki saw that, blinked at it, then looked up at the laughing Doom and smiled. "Clever," she purred and the human stopped laughing behind his mask. "But not so clever as to trick me, little mortal."
Doom let out a sharp laugh behind his mask. "Trick you?" he replied.
Loki twitched her fingers and her magic slipped under the illusions Doom had set around the room, assisted by the still-creeping ice of her anger, and shredded them. The shattered remains of the arc reactor disappeared, as did Stark's prone form, Doom's image, and the curtains hiding most of the room.
Loki found herself in a large room with a surprisingly high ceiling, given the height of the rest of the complex, which had humming machines lining the long walls. Stark was held against the far wall, shirt missing, gagged, and covered in bruises and cuts, but alive and with arc reactor intact. He was watching Loki with a mix of irritation and relief in his eyes and she spared only a brief wonder for whether this trap had been the reason her scrying spells had put forth such pathetic results, him trying to keep her and their team away and safe. Doom stood near to him, quite some distance from where his false image had been, next to a large gun, which the man fired with an angry shout.
"Beware of illusions," Loki warned Romanoff as she ducked the shot, three copies of herself peeling away and confusing the villain before he could again aim at her.
"Yeah, I'm seeing that. There are Doombots everywhere," Romanoff returned, voice tense. "Did you find Tony?"
"And Jafar," Loki returned and Romanoff let out a choked laugh at the name Stark usually used. "Will you manage on your own?"
"Not my first rodeo," Romanoff said. "Deal with Doom and get Tony out of there; you can come help me after, assuming the others haven't already arrived."
"Very well," Loki agreed, ducking a wild shot and sliding comfortably along the ice still creeping over the floor as she and her copies moved closer and closer to Doom and Stark.
Doom was panicking at the line of Lokis, all of which ducked his shots and moved in the same manner along the ice. He couldn't tell them apart, and he couldn't hit them, so he instead called, "I know who you really are! You're the man who opened that portal above Manhattan!"
"Am I?" one of Loki's copies asked, then laughed as Doom shot her and the blast went right through her stomach.
"You missed," another copy commented.
"I seem to be rather too female to have opened that portal," yet another pointed out.
"Yes... Wasn't the person who opened it male?" Loki agreed.
"Handsome, though," the first copy said and they traded smiles while Doom's expressionless mask looked between them and Stark's eyes danced with amusement over the gag silencing him.
"You are him!" Doom snarled, shooting at another copy, which ducked the blast with ease. "I know you!"
"Do you?" Loki asked.
"It seems this is the first time we've met," a copy mentioned.
"Unless we're counting that brief conversation with one of the bots."
"Ooh, almost forgot about that one."
"Wasn't very memorable, I know."
"Silence!" Doom roared, aiming his gun at Stark.
Loki and her copies all froze, eyes narrowing at the threat to her lover. "And we were having so much fun," she said evenly as the copies faded away. "You really must learn to better play this game, Victor."
"Why would you side with this pathetic team?" Doom spat. "You, who had them on their knees!"
"The Avengers are at their best on their knees," Loki returned drily, form melting from female to male. "Not that you would know that, seeing as how you are little more than a gnat they wave a hand at once a week."
Doom swung his gun and fired at Loki, only for the shot to go through his head.
"My brother always falls for that, too," Loki remarked from behind Doom as he touched ice to the gun. "And your file calls you smart."
Doom dropped the useless gun and turned to attack Loki with magic, but the god caught his wrist in one hand, smiling. "I will kill you."
"No, you really won't," Loki replied, not even struggling to hold the wrist in his grasp. "I, on the other hand–"
Stark made a muffled shout against his gag and Loki turned to look at him, one eyebrow raised. Stark narrowed his eyes in response, glaring until Loki flicked his fingers and the gag vanished. "SHIELD policy disallows killing of villains."
"Yes. You wouldn't want to start an international incident over a dead man, would you?" Doom added, voice full of sugar.
"As you have reminded me, I am not of your planet," Loki replied in a tone equally as sweet.
"Loki," Stark cut in before Loki and Doom could trade more sweet threats, "we cannot kill him. Diplomatic debates aside, we don't kill people. It's what makes us who we are."
It's what makes us less the monsters, Stark didn't say.
Loki scowled and let go of Doom's wrist as he cast a sleep spell. The masked man had time to say, "An excellent choi–" before he crumpled to the ground.
"I didn't kill him," Loki muttered to Stark's unimpressed stare as he stepped over their enemy towards his lover.
Stark rolled his eyes. "Thanks for that."
Loki flicked a spell at Stark's cuffs and, when that didn't work, simply pried them open. Stark sort of fell off the wall with a gasp of pain and Loki caught him as gently as he could while he sent his magic to see how bad the damage was. He discovered the cuts and bruises that he could see, as well as a broken rib and leg. "I make no promises if you get kidnapped again," Loki muttered as he wove his magic to help heal the human's broken bones.
"I'll work harder at avoiding it next time," Stark breathed, shifting to lessen his weight on the broken leg and pressing his nose against Loki's throat. "Thanks," he whispered, a well of emotion that Loki couldn't understand half of in that single word.
Loki tightened his arms around the human, warming at the feel of the human under his hands, his breath against Loki's neck. "You thought I would leave you?" Loki wondered.
Stark shook his head. "Nah. Team; I knew someone would show up eventually."
"Last time he got kidnapped, he had to free himself," Romanoff said through the comms and Loki recalled reading about that in his lover's file, how it had taken three months for Stark to get free. "The others just got here; take Tony and Doom to the helicarrier while we trash this place."
Loki nodded. "Let's have you seen to on the helicarrier," he told Stark.
"I am so good, really," Stark insisted. "Going home, getting some sleep–"
"Tony," Loki interrupted and the human fell silent, though he wouldn't meet Loki's eyes when the god pulled away to grab for Doom.
Once he had both humans – and finding skin on their enemy had been interesting, with how much clothing Doom wore – Loki teleported all of them to the cells on the helicarrier. A group of guards down the hall came forward to take control of Doom, apparently having been waiting for their arrival, and Loki was left with the reluctant Stark.
Loki sighed and picked the human up bridal-style, making note of the quiet grunt of pain Stark failed to suppress. "Will you tell me why you are so against the medical bay?" he requested to fill the unnatural silence.
Stark shifted in Loki's arms, as though looking for a way free, and winced as he moved something that hurt. "Doctors are stupid," he muttered, resigned to Loki's hold.
"And I'm sure Dr Banner is aware of this," Loki replied drily.
"Bruce is a special case," Stark insisted. "He knows when to stop."
"Stop poking. Stop telling me what to do. Stop thinking he knows best." Stark paused a moment to take a breath, then added with a flash of a smirk. "And he doesn't smell."
Loki raised an eyebrow, seeing the deep truth in that last comment that Stark had tried to play off as a joke. Loki could understand Stark's dislike of how those who dealt in medicine had their own rules and regulations, was familiar with the urge to just do whatever he wanted when given such a list, damn the consequences, but the last was beyond his experience, so it was the part Loki questioned. "Smell how?"
Stark blinked. "Smell ho– What? That's what you took away from that? Smells like a hospital. Like... Like sanitation and medicine and–"
"I can block your ability to smell," Loki offered.
Stark snorted and turned his face against Loki's shoulder. "Oh my God. How are you real? Did you honestly just offer to plug my nose so I won't have to smell antiseptic? Really?"
"I did, and I will," Loki agreed, unbothered. If a simple spell would get Stark to sit, without complaint, while the medical staff checked him over, Loki would do it. Even if he was still confused by the human's issue with the smell.
Stark shook his head, face still pressed to Loki's shoulder. "Yeah. Whatever."
Loki cast the spell just as they were entering the ward and there was a quick tensing to Stark's shoulders before they eased and he glanced up, a glint of surprise in his eyes.
"Oh, dear," a nurse said as she hurried over. "Let's get you seen to, Mr Stark."
"One of his ribs and his left leg have seen some trauma," Loki told her as he set Stark into a bed. "They will heal on their own, but should likely be wrapped."
The nurse pursed her lips at him. "I'll let the doctor be the judge of that," she informed him and Stark snorted while Loki buried a flash of irritation. "Do you need checked over?" she added, looking at a rip in Loki's jacket.
Loki raised an eyebrow at the rip, wondering when it had happened, and a sparkle of green magic sewed the fabric back into place. "I am unharmed."
"Even if he was, I've seen him heal a burn in, like, thirty seconds," Stark helpfully commented. "He's like Thor, but prettier." He winked at Loki.
A doctor stepped over, then, looking harried. "Lie down, Mr Stark. And please, this time, don't flirt with my staff so they forget to do their jobs."
"I would never," Stark insisted.
"Liar," Loki tossed over his shoulder as he turned towards the exit.
"Hey! Puff, where are you going?" Stark called.
"I would find Coulson and let him know our whereabouts," Loki replied.
"Nuh-uh. You are not leaving me in here alone. I might escape or, or flirt with some pretty nurse and–"
"Do I need to sedate you?" the doctor asked tiredly as he ran through a quick check-up in spite of Stark's flailing.
Stark went very still and shook his head, one hand twitching towards the arc reactor before he forced it back to his side. "Nope. Good."
Loki sighed and returned to the clear side of Stark's bed, waving a chair over to sit in. "It may well be easier for Coulson to find me if I remain in one place," he decided.
"Yeah. That," Stark agreed, relaxing back against his pillows.
The doctor had just finished running his x-rays and was waiting for them to finish developing when the rest of the team trooped in, looking a little worse for wear, but in significantly better shape than Stark had been.
"Tony! How are you doing?" Rogers asked, stopping at the end of Stark's bed and offering a smile for the nurse who was bandaging some of the worst of the cuts when she smiled at him.
"I am trapped in the medical ward on a flying bucket of bolts and loose screws," Stark retorted. "If I kill everyone in sight, do you think I'd get away with a plea of insanity?"
"No," Barton replied while Rogers grimaced. "Knew someone who tried that once. He didn't make it to the gate before they took him. Strapped him in medical for two months as punishment while the survivors took their revenge with need–"
"Shut up," Romanoff ordered and Barton did so, grin wide under a long cut across his right cheek and nose. The human woman nodded to Loki, then Stark before walking up to a nurse who was wearing a look of trepidation at the sight of the Avengers.
Thor came to stand at Loki's side and squeezed his shoulder as the Avengers were herded to beds, in spite of Roger's protests of, "I'm fine!"
"Tony, it is good to see you again," Thor rumbled to the human in the bed at Loki's side. "We were all much worried when you vanished, more so when we were unable to trace you through SHIELD's more common means. Had Loki not arrived when he did, we would still be searching."
"Yes. It's a wonder you ever get anything done without me," Loki commented, smiling at where he could see Fury and Coulson just in hearing range. "I should be ashamed to have been defeated by you."
"Brother," Thor warned while Stark snickered.
Coulson's lips twitched with a hint at a smile while Fury's eye narrowed. "Cute," he said and Thor startled, having not realised the director was in the room. "Now why don't you tell me why you haven't delivered a fucking report on your actions down there when you've been on my base for twenty minutes."
"Fourteen," Stark corrected, pointing at a clock directly across from his bed. "Give or take a minute for travel from the holding cells."
"Oh, well done, genius. You can tell time," Fury snarked. "Loki! Why the fuck has your ass been warming a chair down here instead of upstairs?"
"I thought it simplest if I remained down here, where you knew I would be, rather than attempting to hunt you down," Loki replied with an easy smile. "After all, it is quite the large ship, and you are far more familiar with it than I."
"You found Stark in a building twice the size of this ship," Coulson commented drily, "and that was with some sort of interference getting in your way."
Loki shrugged. "I used a lot of magic; I was tired."
Stark coughed and turned away to hide his amusement while Barton shouted, "Liar!" from across the ward.
"Mr Stark made threats to escape if Mr Odinson didn't remain in the ward," the doctor said as he returned, an odd note in his voice. "And, if you'll excuse me, Director: Mr Odinson, would you happen to know why Mr Stark seems to have a broken rib that's almost three weeks old and a broken tibia that's almost four months old?"
Loki widened his eyes to appear innocent. "Why would I know anything of such wounds?"
"Hey, cool," Stark said, sitting up. "Does that mean I don't need a cast? Because casts suck so much. I cannot tell you how much casts suck. Have you ever tried to have sex–"
"Shut up, Stark," Fury ordered and the human flashed him a grin as he mimed zipping his lips closed. "Loki, don't fuck around. If you're going to go healing my people, heal them all the way."
Loki shrugged. "I can't."
"Broken bones cannot be healed fully by magic," Thor offered before anyone could demand to know what Loki meant by that. "Even Æsir must suffer their bones to heal slowly the last week, lest the body become too dependent on the magic."
"It's less the body becoming dependent on the magic, more the body running the danger of overcompensating," Loki corrected drily. "The body knows there is damage and it will look to heal it. If a bone goes suddenly from broken to healed – or as healed as a bone can ever be – the body will still attempt to heal it, going through the steps it would normally take and causing undue damage to something that is newly healed."
Fury, Coulson, and Stark all looked to the doctor, who nodded. "That makes a lot of sense," he agreed. "And yes, Mr Stark, you're still going to need a cast and to have that rib wrapped for the next week. For my peace of mind, if nothing else. And I'm taking you off active duty."
"I hate casts," Stark muttered, sinking down against his pillows and crossing his arms over his chest. "They itch."
"You're wearing the cast," Coulson ordered.
"Itching can be solved," Loki agreed.
"Good. He's your problem," Coulson informed Loki before turning to look over the rest of the Avengers, catching the back of Barton's vest as the man attempted to sneak out of the ward.
"I'm not a 'problem', Magic Fingers!" Stark called.
"Trust me, Stark, you're a problem," Fury informed him and Stark smirked. "Get his cast fitted," he ordered the nurse, who nodded and left to collect the materials she would need. "Loki, let's talk."
"I will not return to find you having run off," Loki informed his lover as he stood to join the director.
"Nah. I'll leave that to Robin Hood for now," Stark agreed.
"I will watch him," Thor promised and Loki nodded his thanks before following Fury to a private room in the ward which was empty.
Loki summarised the events without embellishing them and Fury remained thoughtfully quiet for the whole of it. Once Loki was done, he said, "So Doom knew who you were, and how to get to you. He grabbed Stark to draw you out."
"Evidently," Loki agreed drily. "To his shame, he did not know me so well as to plan for me and thus failed in his aim. I would know how he knew me."
"So would I," Fury replied as he pushed away from the wall he'd been leaning against as Loki spoke. "Maybe Stark's adventure will shed some light on the matter before we talk to Doom. I'd also like to know why he went after Stark when Barton or Romanoff are usually easier targets, and Foster was alone in the tower."
"And Thor would be the one more likely to raise my ire, given my relation. Though," Loki added with a nasty smile, "of all the Avengers, Thor would be the hardest to hold against his will, I think."
"Banner would give him a run for his money," Fury returned and Loki shrugged.
Stark's story of his time in captivity shed little light on the questions Fury and Loki had: he'd been unconscious for most of the time, only being awake for the last half hour or so. He knew Doom had tried multiple times to remove the arc reactor – "I don't think that part was supposed to be an illusion," he added in a tone that was too even while the other Avengers, Fury, and Coulson stood around his bed with varying degrees of fury written across their faces – and had broken Stark's rib at one point when he failed yet again, which had been when Stark had woken to his surroundings.
"He was definitely less interested in me, though," Stark added, meeting Loki's eyes. "He wasn't trying to torture me – wasn't aiming to make me suffer – he was using me to get to you. Whatever you said to him all those weeks ago really ticked him off."
"You spoke to Doom?" Rogers asked.
"When the fuck did you get in contact with this psycho?" Fury demanded, turning on Loki with violence in his eyes.
Loki raised an eyebrow at the director, unmoved by his anger. "When I observed the Doombot some weeks back, Doom initiated contact with me. He offered me a position at his side, I informed him I would rather he kneel at my feet. He was none too pleased."
Barton burst out laughing. "Holy fuck! That– You–"
"You have a thing about making people kneel," Romanoff commented drily and Barton clutched at his stomach when he started laughing harder. Stark and Banner both traded grins while Rogers and Thor shook their heads with a faint smile and Coulson's eyes glimmered with amusement.
Fury looked upwards, silently asking for patience, then said, "Great. Fucking wonderful. This is why the Council keeps telling me you fuckers should just be locked up somewhere. Do not go pissing off villains," he added, pointing at Loki.
Loki shrugged. "If he is focussed on me, he is causing less damage to civilians, yes?"
"And kidnapping other Avengers."
"That's worked out real well for him so far," Romanoff said and Loki flashed her a smirk, which she returned. "Really, Director, at least if the villains try kidnapping one of us, they're not going after civilians; we can get ourselves out."
Fury scowled around the circle before letting out an angry sigh and turning away from them. "Loki, Romanoff, Coulson, you're with me; Cap, see to it that everyone else makes it back to the tower in one piece."
"What?" Stark demanded as Loki, Romanoff, and Coulson turned to follow the director. "What the fuck? Where are you four going?"
"Talking to Doom," Coulson clarified.
"I'm coming with you!" Stark snapped, shoving out of his bed and grabbing for his crutches.
"Brother," Loki called over his shoulder, shooting Thor a look that spoke volumes to his life-long companion.
"You're wounded, Tony," Rogers soothed as Thor took Stark's crutches and handed them over to Banner before scooping Stark up in his arms. "Thor, he's coming back to the tower with the rest of us."
"He is," Thor agreed. "And I will see him to the quinjet."
The doors to the ward cut off any further debate amongst the rest of the team, leaving Loki, Romanoff, Coulson, and Fury in grim silence as they made their way to the cells. At Fury's nod, Doom was moved from his cell to an interrogation room at the end of the hall, already changed into a simpler garb and a collar that Loki could feel suppressing the ability to do magic, similarly to the gag and chains that Loki had worn a year ago, during his transport to Asgard.
They were not gentle with Doom, not after he'd kidnapped and attempted to kill Stark. Doom wasn't inclined to be forthcoming with the information they wanted, but his four interrogators had endless imaginations when it came to loosening tongues and no qualms about using them to the greatest extent. That Loki could heal most damage so they could begin again without the danger of losing Doom to an early death only made them more creative, and it wasn't long at all before Doom was willing to speak through breathless sobs.
Doom had figured out that Loki Odinson and Loki Friggadottir were the same person after seeing him/her through the eyes of the Doombots, which recorded magic as well as images and vocals. He'd seen the similarities in Loki's magic, then placed the two faces next to each other, spotting the similarities with little trouble. It hadn't been until recently, however, that he'd put Loki together with the person who'd opened the portal over Stark Tower a year ago. Being so snubbed by a fellow villain had been the last straw and Doom had started plans to see Loki on his knees before Doom.
Doom's original plan had involved jumping Loki when he was unprepared – such as when he was travelling between realms, an event Doom had been made aware of during the brief period of time that the Bifröst site had been on the roof of Avengers Tower – but Loki rarely left the tower without at least two other Avengers, unless he was teleporting, and Doom couldn't usually trace Loki's teleportation until long after he'd arrived. Doom had thought to try while they were handling the damage caused by the Atlanteans and Jörmungand, but he'd heard, instead, that Loki and Stark were in a relationship and changed his plans to kidnap Stark, as the human was an easier target.
To capture Stark, Doom brought in various other villains to cause a distraction and nab Iron Man while SHIELD and the Avengers were busy. It gave him enough time to cart Stark back to Latveria, strip him of his suit and tech, and ensure that the Avengers and SHIELD would be unable to track their missing teammate without the use of magic. Which would require Loki.
Doom had intended to kill Stark as part of his trap – one less Avenger was no skin off his back, and Stark was easy to kill by stealing a piece of tech that Doom was interested in anyway – but Loki's spell had kept him away from the arc reactor, a bit of luck for which Loki would likely be paying for centuries, knowing how these things usually worked out for him, but one he was more than grateful for at the moment.
Doom's flaw – as Loki had pointed out to Fury – was in planning for a magician of his own calibre, rather than a god with almost two millennia of magic and trickery under his belt. Doom had intended for Loki to attack his illusion-self, then use Loki's moment of confusion to blow his head off. He hadn't expected for Loki to catch on so quickly, or for Loki to have such control over his magic as to make his copies act as perfect replicas. Really, once Doom's illusions had fallen, he'd been left about four steps behind the god and struggling to catch up while Loki kept increasing the distance between them.
"I wonder if one might lose him," Loki commented once Doom had been dragged back to his cell, leaving the four interrogators behind in the interrogation room.
"It wouldn't be hard," Romanoff agreed, picking at blood under her nails with a knife. "Send him back to Latveria in a show of good faith, only for a freak storm to kick up and cause the plane to crash over the Atlantic."
"We're not losing him," Coulson informed the two drily.
"SHIELD policy," Fury agreed with regret. "I should be able to see that he's locked up in a secure cell for some years, though. Long enough for Latveria's rebellion to get off their hands and take the government back." Fury looked the other three over, single eye sharp. "Stark's toy would help keep the fucker under wraps."
"Avengers policy: Team decision," Coulson returned with a flicker of a smile. "We'll talk it over."
Fury snorted and stood. "I need to know before tomorrow morning."
"We'll call a vote as soon as we're back in the tower," Coulson agreed as he and the two Avengers stood. "Loki?"
Loki nodded and teleported the two humans back to the tower with him.
A vote was called, Jane and Pepper taking part because they were there – and as much a part of their odd little family as those who were officially members of the Avengers – and they ended up agreeing to create a simplified version of the AMF Mark II and wrangling a promise from Fury that no one would tamper with it and that it would be returned to the Avengers as soon as Doom was either freed to return to Latveria, or died in captivity.
Hamburgers were ordered for dinner – as demanded by Stark – and they all settled in to watch a couple kids' films while they ate, Loki sitting on the arm of Stark's chair with the human curled comfortably against his side.
When Coulson ordered them all to bed, Pepper and Banner both stopped in front of Stark and Loki. "Are you going to need any help tonight?" Pepper asked, shifting with the urge to help as Stark fought with his crutches.
"Nope. I'm Loki's problem," Stark returned with a grin.
Loki rolled his eyes and waved the crutches down to Stark's room before picking the vexing human up. "I had been led to believe you were not a problem."
"It's between being a problem and Pep hovering. Which, Pep, really? And Bruce, you're almost as bad. Go away. Both of you. Go. Shoo."
"I still live on your floor, Tony," Pepper reminded him drily.
Stark widened his eyes in horror, then looked to Loki. "Switch with her."
Loki blinked. "...excuse me?"
Stark pressed a finger against Loki's chest. "You–" he pointed towards Pepper, "–switch with Pep. She gets to take over the floor below Brucy and you can move all your books into her room. And then I can be your problem without having to skip floors to do it. Everyone wins."
"Holy fuck," Barton offered from where he was sneaking a beer from behind the bar. "Tony, that was the shittiest attempt to ask someone to move in with you I've ever heard. Can you call do-over?"
"I am on pain-killers up to my eyeballs and he's complaining about my dating techniques," Stark muttered, pressing his face into Loki's shoulder. "Jesus Christ, I need new friends."
"Calling us friends suggests you got to pick us," Banner commented with a smile and a shake of his head. "Loki, if you need me, have JARVIS call me up."
"I will do so," Loki agreed a bit absently, still trying to wrap his mind around the concept of moving in with Stark; it wasn't foreign to him – long term relationships on Asgard followed a similar path, and Loki had been married – but he'd hardly expected it. Not when they already lived in the same building, not at this stage. And yet...
"You're moving in, right?" Stark asked, peeking up at Loki. And he would later blame his hopeful tone on the drugs, the line of questioning on pain and trauma.
Loki would never make excuses for saying, without reservation, "Yes. Of course."
Pepper smiled at the two of them, fond with a hint of old pain. "We can switch stuff tomorrow," she told Loki. "If you don't care, I'll take your floor for tonight after grabbing a change of clothing from my room."
Loki nodded. "I have no complaints," he agreed, "although I do not wish to make you feel as though you are being kicked out–"
Pepper laughed and shook her head, leading the way to the lift. "God, no. No, that's always been Tony's floor; I spend more time away from the tower than in it, anyway."
"Still your home," Stark insisted.
Pepper nodded. "This is my home," she agreed and Stark grinned at her. "Maybe I should have taken that floor when you offered it to me."
"Worked better this way," Stark replied.
"I guess it did."
Pepper grabbed a handful of clothing while Loki tucked Stark in, then followed the woman to his floor for a change of clothing himself – he had one Midgardian outfit in Stark's room, but it needed to be washed and he figured he might as well grab another. He grabbed one of his books and his picture of himself and Thor while he was down there, then returned to Stark's floor – Tony and my floor, now, he realised with a jolt – and checked in on his sleeping lover before moving to spend a couple hours with Dummy while he fashioned pictures of the images he'd taken of his family on Asgard and Niflhel.
And Loki thought, as he climbed into bed with Dummy rolling along behind him, If this is my life for the next few decades, I will be content.
And he was.
A/N: So, last chapter is kinda short. But sweet. And Loki feels. *cuddles him*
If you haven't read Christmas Tunes, feel free to; it takes place after this fic. (Well, okay. The first half of it takes place during Whatever Lies Beyond This Morning, but the second half takes place some months after this fic.)
As far as I'm concerned, this series is complete. But, if I get another bunny that fits in this universe, I'll add it to this and let you know that it fits in here somewhere. Wherever. XD
P.S. – COULSON LIIIIIIIIIIIVES!