June 2014


There is a celebratory party at Steve and Phil's house following the graduation ceremony, and Tony drags Loki to it, promising they'll stay for fifteen, maybe twenty minutes at the most. Loki just smiles and shakes his head and goes along, pressing himself into Tony's passenger seat and leaning his head out the window, allowing the wind to whip his hair as they speed down the Interstate. Rock music blares on the radio, and Tony sings along, loud and obnoxious and off-key as hell. Occasionally he nudges Loki, encouraging him to sing too, and Loki laughs and sings a few lines if he knows the song, trailing his fingers over the back of Tony's hand where it's resting against his seat.

It's been three months since they made up, and Tony still has a hard time believing Loki is his now, actually and irrevocably part of him. They've been spending most of their time not in class in the apartment, laying around, eating or talking or having sex, like they're trying to make up for all the time they lost. They don't even argue as often as they used to—it's like everything that's happened between them has evened out some (okay, a considerable amount) of the tension that was hanging over their shoulders for so long.

Loki sees their lives as split into three parts: the first was high school, before their senior year; the second was college, before the kidnapping; and the third is now, after they've finally talked and gotten it all out in the open and managed to push past the barricade.

Sometimes he wonders what might have happened if he hadn't managed to tell Tony the truth; if they'd be here now, pulling off at the exit for Steve and Phil's place, Foreigner slamming into their ears, Tony's mouth open, head tilted back as he belts out the lyrics:

"Feels like the first time! Feels like the very first time!"

He wonders, but he can't say for sure, and honestly, it doesn't matter—it shouldn't matter. Like Tony, Loki is shocked that they're actually together, without worrying about whether one of them will be packing up that night, but mostly he's just happy. He's fucking happier than he can remember being in a long time, and when Tony pulls up to the red light at the corner of Steve's street, Loki impulsively grabs his jaw and turns his head for a kiss.

"Was that because you want me or was it to shut me up?" Tony asks when they pull apart, and he's laughing, and Loki laughs too, free and uninhibited.

"A little bit of both," he says, grinning, and Tony rolls his eyes as he turns the car.

"I should just throw you out right now and not take you to the party—or give you the surprise later."

"Surprise?" Loki asks, his curiosity piqued, but Tony holds a finger to his lips, shaking his head and resuming his god awful singing.

Steve and Phil's party is raging when they get there, and it looks like the entire graduating class of 2014 is crammed into the tiny lawn in front of their house. Natasha and Clint are holding Solo cups of beer and leaning against each other, watching with obvious amusement as Thor—Thor, of all people—tries to stand on his head in the grass with no balance. He falls over when he sees Loki and Tony approaching, and everyone laughs as he scrambles hastily to his feet and runs forward, throwing his arms around his brother.

"It is a night for celebration, is it not, brother?" he asks loudly, and Loki pats his shoulder, still laughing.

"That it is," he agrees, and Thor looks like he might cry, and Loki remembers how everything's changing between them, too, now that Thanos is permanently gone and Thor no longer views Tony as a threat, or an idiot, or anything else.

They go inside and Steve greets them, offering cheese sticks dipped in salsa. The music inside is nearly deafening in volume, and the loud chatter from the former students crowded around the table barely drowns out whatever autotuned crap Steve has chosen to play. Loki and Tony sit on the sofa together, cheese sticks in hand, and Tony swirls one around in sauce and feeds it to Loki, like he's a bird, and Loki physically cannot stop smiling tonight, the swell in his chest growing until he thinks he's going to burst.

He ends up staying for forty-five minutes, because Tony is incapable of shutting up when he's around Rhodey or Bruce, and both of them sought Tony out after about ten minutes. Loki doesn't mind, though; he rests his head on Tony's shoulder and half dozes in the warmth of the room and the feeling of beer settling like a low fire through his body. When he wakes up, it's because Tony's nudging him softly, his hand halfway down a Doritos bag, a huge smile on his face.

"Ready for the surprise?" he asks, and Loki nods, and Tony grabs his hand and stands up with him and they walk out, back to Tony's car, awash in the moonlight of a now fully-dark sky.

"Be safe, kids!" a very drunk Clint screams after them as they drive off. "Wear a condom!" and Loki glances in the rearview mirror just in time to see Natasha positively pelting him with those giant cookies Phil made.

"Oh my god," Loki says, chuckling low in his throat, as Tony turns onto the Interstate. But he's not heading in the direction of their apartment, he's going south, and after a bit Loki looks at him, questioningly, and Tony grins, looking simultaneously proud and a little hesitant, like he's not sure Loki will like what he has to say.

"I've decided that we're going to Coney fucking Island," he says, draping his arm out the car window, and oh fuck, that's one of Loki's favorite places—he hasn't been since he was seventeen, but he'll never forget the smell of food cooking alongside the salt of the beach, and the sound of the seagulls cawing, and the way every ride he went on made his stomach bottom out until he was staggering dizzily for half an hour down the boardwalk.

He leans over and mouths for a second at Tony's jaw, and Tony almost loses control of the car, a surprised expression crossing his face. "What was that for?"

"You wouldn't believe how utterly thankful I am for you," is what Loki says, and this is the most corny, sappy shit he's ever spewed, but it makes Tony smile, face turned towards the stars and the taillights, and it's enough.

They get to Coney Island about an hour later and immediately Loki's heading for Nathan's Famous, his feet thudding on the Riegelmann Boardwalk, Tony's hand clutched hot in his. They order two hot dogs, covered in mustard and ketchup and slathered with relish, and they eat facing the beach, their feet dangling over the railings on the boardwalk. The water looks eerie at night, sparkling with the raw moonlight, and Loki watches the tide as it comes up, spraying feet before receding into the darkness.

After their hot dogs, they head down to the beach itself, toes sinking into the still-hot sand, shirts and shorts whipping in the high wind that rushes in at them. They sit together nearly at the water's edge, and sand crawls between Loki's feet, onto his skin, and he doesn't care. He rests his head on Tony's shoulder and Tony tilts his face up and kisses him, licking a few spots of ketchup off his upper lip.

"I love you," he says at length, quietly, seriously, his mouth less than an inch from Loki's.

"I love you too," Loki murmurs, threading his fingers through Tony's hair.

Tony's eyes meet his, dark and lovely and close, so close. His mouth moves for a few seconds, opening and shutting, and then he's reaching into his pants pocket and pulling out a ring, with an emerald set in the center. It glitters in the moonlight, and Loki barely has time to stare at it before Tony is asking:

"Marry me, okay? I can't live without you, Shakespeare," and something tugs in Loki's chest and he thinks he's going to faint or cry or something overly dramatic but he grabs Tony's hands and says:

"Yes," his voice choked and thick, and Tony slides the ring over his finger and in the background a few people are clapping, and the ocean crashes around them, waves softly hitting the tips of their feet.

The kisses taste like beer, like summer and fresh starts and hope, a concept so foreign to Loki he can scarcely grasp it. He grabs Tony's shoulders, kissing him again and again, and then they're laughing against each other's mouths, tears running salty between their lips, as somewhere in the distance "Kashmir" begins to play.

A/N: Well that turned into a fluff fest that I wasn't expecting.

Still, did you guys like it? I'm hoping you did, because this is the last chapter, officially, and next I will be moving on to a different story in a different setting.

Thanks so much to everyone who has read both this and its prequel; I love all of you more than I can express in words and I kind of want to take everyone to Coney Island now even though I live halfway across the country from it.

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