Tony had always hated rain ever since he was a small child. He just had this sort of strong distaste for it. It was cold, uncomfortable, and sometimes it was hot and clammy. It made people postpone their events or parties, if held outside, and sometimes it just ruined people's days. Like today, for example; Tony had been hoping for clear night skies and promised fireworks, but with such a wet, dreary day ahead, the fireworks were cancelled. That was just the perfect ending to a rather shitty day.

Tony glanced up at the thundering, roaring clouds above that rolled with an ugly gray that reminded him of a withering rose. He slipped the sunglasses off of his nose and watched the downpour as limousines and cars rushed up to pick up wealthy passengers. Some of them sent him pseudo-friendly waves and kisses goodbye, and he accepted them with a blank, indifferent attitude. He didn't care for much in the first place.

"Happy's pulling the car around," a light voice beside him announced, and he turned to greet his assistant Pepper Potts as she walked proudly up to his side, head held high and spine erect. She stood with her arms crossed across her chest and a stiff jaw. "It's a shame it rained. I was really looking forward to that fireworks show."

"You and me both, Pep." Tony cleared his throat and played with the cuff on his sleeve. He slipped it between his fingers and rubbed at the fabric. "I think that was the only thing I was looking forward to this afternoon." Having women throw themselves at him isn't something Tony wasn't used to, but when they were groping at his ass while he was in a rather bitter mood he didn't feel like putting up with it.

A few more cars passed by, the same shades of black, silver, or white, before Tony's familiar black Cadillac pulled up to the door, the sharp font of his company's name striking against the black doors. Tony took his time walking to the back of the car as Pepper opened the door and slid herself in. A few drops fell onto her hair and dress as she made the plunge, and Tony followed not long after her. He felt the cold rain against the back of his neck and prayed the ride home would not take too long.

He couldn't wait to get into the familiar atmosphere of his lab where his machines whirred and ticked and beeped and his A.I. would start a three-hour playlist of nothing but Guns and Roses, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath. There was a black 1967 Impala with an engine half-restored. His fingers itched at the thought of getting back to work on it.

The rain became an afterthought as he listened to a low-volume playlist of a few of his favorite songs that Happy had put together when he knew his boss was in bad mood and he and Pepper struck up a conversation about plans for the next business trip. Tony gave them a few nods and shrugs to show that he was listening when they both knew he wasn't.

Tony picked at his goatee. The storm outside continued to rage on, and a particularly explosive clap of thunder had Pepper in a short fit of hysterics. She had let out a quiet yelp and the phone in her hands had fallen to the floor. She bent down and retrieved it. Tony took a few seconds to appreciate the smooth skin over the dip of her spine and the stretch of her shoulders. A small mole peeked out at him from beneath the back of her dress, and he missed the sensation of brushing his fingers across that soft skin.

He and Pepper had been in a relationship previously. It had been the first serious relationship Tony had tried out after countless affairs that lasted no longer than one night. He had asked Pepper to consider something serious, and she had been more than happy to be with him. It had been great, until he got himself shitfaced and screwed everything up.

He'd hurt Pepper. He'd hurt the girl that had been with him. He'd even hurt himself, surprised at the different brand of pain in his chest that didn't come from removing the arc reactor. That was a rather unpleasant experience, courtesy of Obediah "Fuck-You" Stain.

Pepper had kept her position under Tony, which he had been very pleased to know, but she refused to acknowledge anything had been between them, pretending as though nothing had happened, and he hadn't argued with her. She was being professional, and it was better that he do the same.

Tony pulled out his own communicator and stared down at the screen as a face and name popped up. Agent Coulson. Tony made a scrutinizing face at the profile and rejected the call. Today was a semi-day-off for him. He wasn't going to deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. today.

"Was that Phil?" Pepper asked, leaning over against his shoulder, her hair brushing against his hand. He could smell the perfume she had rubbed on her wrists and neck. It was faint, not overpowering. He could smell something with citrus, unsure of the exact scent.

"Maybe. I don't care. I'm not answering any phone calls, messages, or anything today. I'm not working." He shut the communicator off and slipped it easily into his pocket. "Happy, think you could take the interstate home? The highway is a little slow, even with no one around. I'd like to "—

Tony's request was cut off almost immediately as something slammed against the roof of his car, sending the vehicle into the next lane and spinning. Tony grabbed Pepper and pulled her to him in an attempt to shield her from whatever had hit them. Happy let out a long string of expletives as he pressed hard on the brake and turned the wheel to keep them from hydroplaning through the metal railing or into the ditch on their other side.

The car's wheels screeched against the wet road, skidding, before the Cadillac finally came to a rest a few feet away from where they had hit. The three of them sat in shocked, horrified silence before Pepper became hysterical and began shrieking and demanding to know what they had hit. Happy turned around and attempted to soothe her. Tony turned around in the back seat, looking out the back window.

Something was on the ground. He narrowed his eyes as the object moved, seeming to be entirely black, before something moved that he could clearly make out. He could see fingers, a hand. The knuckles were red and bloody.

"Shit!" Tony exclaimed, scaring the other occupants in the car. "That was a person. A fucking person!"

"What!?" Pepper turned back, horror paling her slim face. Blue eyes lit up with fear and she covered her mouth.

Tony and Happy jumped out of their seats, throwing open the doors and ignoring the rain pouring hard against them. The drops were fat and stung as they pelted against his neck and cheek. He slipped a few times whilst closing the distance between them, and Happy made a grunting noise as his gut connected with the ground.

Tony made it to the person's side, gently brushing thick, wet hair from the pale face.

From what he could see, the person that had hit was a young man, late thirties, with black hair. His cheeks and wide forehead were littered with bloody cuts and scrapes. Blood gushed from a nasty, raw wound on his shoulder. The man was beautiful, Tony found himself thinking. His face was sharp and angular, his shoulders broad but lean. It would be such a shame to take someone as lovely as him from this world in such a cruel manner as hitting him with a car.

Blood was everywhere, and Tony was caught between moving him out of the rain and letting him lie there out of fear of hurting the man's back, which would more than likely result in a lawsuit. The last thing Tony needed was someone suing him.

Focus, Tony, he thought sourly to himself. Focus on keeping this man alive. Focus on . . .

Tony's thoughts began to trail off. The man's wounds were now the last thing on his mind, ignoring Happy's frantic rambling about getting the man to the hospital. Tony reached over tentatively, touching what he was hoping were not wings poking out of the man's back, spread out across the wet asphalt beneath him. They were quite large, nearly the length of the man's entire body, and were pitch black. One of them bent at a strange angle, and Tony guessed that the bone inside of it had been broken.

"Oh my god." Happy covered his mouth in shock, ran his hands through his hair, covered his mouth again. Tony guessed he had noticed the wings, too.

Tony touched his cheek and patted the other lightly, attempting to rouse their victim. His face didn't move, but his skin was like fire, burning Tony's fingers despite the cold wind and rain. His clothes were already soaked through, and the water beneath the winged man's body was already beginning to swirl with scarlet.

"What the hell kind of costume is that?" Happy asked. Tony was silent, and he repeated, "What kind of costume is he wearing!?"

"I think the more serious question here, Happy, is why he jumped in front of the car," Tony called over the rain.

"He didn't jump in front of us! He jumped onto us! He threw himself onto the top of the car, Tony. He's fucking nuts!" Happy looked up, using his hand as a shield for the rain and blinked water from his eyes. "Where did he come from? The trees are too far from the road for him to just throw himself onto the car."

Tony ignored his driver's ranting and raving as he reached over tentatively, sifting his fingers through the feathers. They were wet beneath his touch, the spines hard. One of the black feathers came loose in his hands, and he held it up in the rain. It fluttered against the harsh wind, and once laid across his hand, proved to be longer than it. Tony rolled it between his fingers, eyes flitting up back to the man as his face twitched, but he showed no sign of opening his eyes.

"Don't die, okay? Just promise you're not going to kick the bucket," Tony grumbled, slipping his hands and arms beneath the man's body and pulling him up. He was lighter than Tony expected him to be, despite the size of both him and his wings. The man's head lolled back, exposing the light pulse of his neck beneath pale skin. Light blue veins webbed out across his cheek, and Tony guessed that visible veins were not a good sign.

"We have to get him to a doctor!" Happy crouched down by his side and hesitated to touch the limp body in Tony's arms.

Tony touched the section of the man's back where his supposed wings protruded from, and he nearly fainted as he felt the feathers around that area smoothen out and disappear, fading into skin. He pulled his hand back, catching his cuff on a loose fiber and snapping it with ease.

"No! No, no doctor," Tony said. His mind spun. What were they to do? The man and his wings were too large to fit into the car with him and Pepper. But the man was dying, blood pouring over Tony's hands and suit, and the last thing he wanted was the loss of yet another life on his hands.

"No doctor? NO DOCTOR?" Happy was shrieking at this point, throwing his hands out as thunder screamed behind him. "You're holding onto a dying man, Tony Stark!"

"I'm aware of this!" Tony held up the man's head, cradling a bleeding scalp. Why didn't the blood stop? It was almost boiling in his hands, running thick between his fingers and staining the white of his shirt and making his hands sticky. Why didn't it stop? "Happy, we . . . We need to get a private doctor. Someone who can keep his mouth shut."

"Why do we need to keep the man's mouth shut?" Tony looked over his shoulder, jerking his head to the side to gesture to the wings, and Happy groaned. He was shivering, and Tony could feel the shake of his jaw as his teeth tried to chatter and clack together. "He's in a costume!"

"Trust me, Happy!" Tony's throat was becoming sore, and he could hear a car door open. Pepper poked her head out as the rain pelted down on them, ignoring the water pelting her cheeks. "Happy, tell Pepper to get back into the passenger seat. I don't want her in the back with this man."

"Tony Stark, I will not"–

Tony ignored him and moved so that he could pick the large man into his arms. He failed, though, and turned to Happy for assistance. The driver narrowed his eyes but did as he was silently asked. Happy slipped the man into his arms, careful not to jar him. Tony left Happy with the man and jogged back to the car to Pepper's side.

Nervous, wary, she touched his arm and covered her mouth, watching with wide eyes. The horror and shock on her face was apparent, and she opened her mouth only to have Tony hold up a finger and silence her. "Hush, Pep, get in the front."

"Are we taking him to the hospital? Tony, is he going to be okay? We're not going to get arrested for . . ."

"Pepper. Do as I ask, please. Get in the passenger seat. Call a doctor; one that works for us. Tell him I need to see him A.S.A.P. Don't give him any details. If he asks, tell him that I will explain everything." He watched her unsure expression as Happy approached, arms full of blood and feathers, and eyes seemed to double in size at the sight of the wings.

"Pepper! Pepper, listen," Tony started, but she shut him up with a sharp glare.

"What are you doing? You're an idiot. You're going to have lawsuits up to your eyeballs," she warned, the majority of her sentence lost on him over the thunder. She was wet and cold and angry, and Tony still saw her as the most beautiful woman on the earth.

"You can write a nice report on why I'm an idiot, Pep – and I'll sure as hell read it – but right now, we have to get him somewhere safe, somewhere warm, and somewhere private," Tony rambled as Happy came with the limp body in his arms. "Get. In. Front."

"Tony Stark, why in the world do I continue to work for you?"

Pepper put a hand to her forehead as she rounded the car, sidestepping and ogling in wonder as Happy moved the body in his arms, before disappearing into the front seats. Tony slipped into the back and helped Happy move the wings and appendages until the man was curled up, too tall to lay out and stretch across the leather, with his head and shoulders on Tony's lap. He was lying face down, cheek against Tony's blood-stained knees, one wing tucked tight against his back and the other just barely held out with a portion of it out of place.

Tony moved the man's hair out of his face and stared down at the pale face, still somehow flushed lightly on his cheeks. Long lashes shadowed the circles beneath his eyes. He looked ragged, tired. Tony found the large artery in his neck and traced it for a pulse, sighing contentedly when he felt it tap his finger, weak but fighting on.

The doctor came into the living room where Tony sat on the floor with the winged stranger, and upon first sight, his eyes seemed to bug out of his head. The glasses on his nose slipped low, and he bit his lip. His eyes narrowed over the frames and he regarded Tony's situation quietly. Tony swirled his scotch thoughtfully and took a deep sip of the smooth liquid, relishing in the feel of it pour down his throat and into his worrying stomach.

The doctor walked forward slowly as the billionaire stood, his eyes never leaving the unconscious man except for when he lowered himself from the entrance to the laminated flooring by Tony's fireplace. He cleared his throat, unsure of what to ask.

Tony didn't hesitate.

"He needs a doctor; I need someone that can keep their silence." He stood, drink in hand, arc reactor glowing bright against the doctor's hard face.

"Silence? And for such a precious, intriguing specimen?" the doctor asked with a dark chuckle. "You realize what we could find out about this kind of specimen? He has wings, Mr. Stark. He's a human with wings. There's no telling what this could mean for the cycle of evolution. You're a man of science, yourself!"

"A man with morals as well, Dr. Largo," Stark shot back. "I don't perform human experimentation, and I don't put people like him up to it, either." He grabbed the doctor's collar, clenching the layers of fabric tight in his hand. "Now, answer me this: can you help him any way you can, keep this a secret, or will I have to ruin your life?"

"Threats!" The doctor laughed. "Yes, there's the Stark I remember. I was surprised when your assistant called me to help with a stranger. Does he have insurance? Yours won't cover him."

"I can pay in full without worry, Dr. Largo. All I need to know is that you can save him."

Largo laughed and brushed the shorter man's hand away from his collar. He shifted the bag of tools in his hand and walked over to his patient's side, kneeling down and undoing the clasp. "Not one of your suits, is it? Would hate to ruin it. You could dock it out of the bill."

"It's not mine. Do what you want. I can replace it."

Tony sat down on the couch, watching as the doctor pulled out a pair of large scissors and began to slice and cut the fabric just near the neat row of buttons. He pulled the shirt open to reveal dark blue bruises and a deep gash below the man's ribs that had long since stopped bleeding. The doctor's glasses nearly fell onto the raw wound as his eyes seemed to nearly roll back in his skull.

Considering the man's age, Tony was surprised he didn't fall over dead of a heart attack.

Tony looked at the pink flesh, and old wounds began to ache in his chest. When he touched them, the sensation faded, but he could have sworn he felt those shards move around, as if saying, "Yeah, we're still here!"

The doctor cut the shirt and coat to shreds with quick flourishes, throwing the strips of fabric aside as he revealed the lean abdomen beneath. His eyes immediately went to the two extra bulges beneath the man's pectoral muscles. The man's gloved hands ghosted over them, staring in awe, and Tony thought he saw a little saliva slip out at the corner of the man's mouth.

"Don't even think about it," Tony warned, surprising the doctor as he looked up. "You're here to fix his wounds. You touch that scalpel and I'll throw you out the fucking window, got it?"

Largo frowned beneath his eyebrows, seeming to stick his bottom lip out in a childish pout, but he didn't say a word against Tony's threat. He turned back to his patient and pulled out thread and a needle, sterilizing it.

"This isn't exactly a safe, sterile environment, Tony," he scolded as he worked. "And why are you even here? Go away. I won't be able to concentrate with you in here."

"I'm not even talking. I'm simply making sure you don't overstep your boundaries. After your last comment about him being a 'specimen,' I don't feel it's safe to leave you alone in the same room with him." Tony took a quick drink of his scotch. "Keep working. If you need anything, J.A.R.V.I.S. will find it and I'll fetch it within five minutes."

"And if he goes into cardiac arrest? What if I need a defibrillator?"

"I've got a car battery and some alligator clips." Tony smirked at Largo's harsh glare. "Hey. Hurry up with him. I don't want him dying on my carpet."

"And if he does . . . ?"

"There's hope in that voice. I like crushing people's hopes." Tony's eyes narrowed.

Largo sneered and went back to work. Tony watched every move carefully, making sure that his treatment went smoothly, carefully. Blood stained his white carpet; feathers fell from their pores in his wings. The only reassuring thing about this man's health was that his chest continued moving up and down as he breathed. The scotch in his glass soon ran out but he refused to stand and refill it.

A full moon was glaring into Tony's windows by the time Largo was finished with his work. Tony moved the empty glass from his knee as the doctor's bloody hands began to pile his tools away and he came over to inspect the man's wounds. The gash below his ribs had been sewn shut tightly, the cuts disinfected and bandages wrapped tight around his midsection and the bleeding shoulder. The wing had been pulled against him and held in place by gauze, and his head had been wrapped up. With as many bandages as he had wrapped around him, he looked like a mummy.

The doctor stood and removed his bloody gloves. He stared down at his work, still eyeing the extra set of muscles, and sighed. "You're killing me, not letting me do anything else."

"Good." Tony moved away from him and came up to the bar, moving one of the holographic screens from its stand. "How much is it going to take to keep your mouth shut about what you've just seen?"

"You ever use that vacation house of yours over in Japan?" Largo asked.

"Do you want it?" Tony replied.

"It's nice. The missus has always wanted to visit Japan and see Mount Fuji. Watch the flowers bloom in spring."

"Then take it. As long as you don't tell a soul about"—

"Yeah, yeah, I got it, okay?" Largo reached down and picked up his bag, holding a hand out towards Tony. Tony took it and they shook. "If you ever regret not finding out what makes this man tick, call me. Oh, but I still need to get paid. You know, restocking supplies and whatnot."

"You'll get paid, Largo. Leave." Tony turned him and unceremoniously pushed him back towards the elevator, not using a bit of his manners.

Largo didn't argue. He pursed his lips, muttered something incoherent under his breath, something Tony was sure wasn't very polite in the first place, and turned to take his leave. Tony returned to the man's side and brushed hair out of the sleeper's eyes. His brow came together, and Tony again hoped he would wake. His lips parted, but his eyes remained shut.

It was three hours later when the man woke.

The sun was beginning to rise, and Tony had not left his side in that time. His eyebrows knitted together, his lips parted as he took a shuddering breath, and his eyes finally opened to reveal swimming pools of green. He stared up blindly, blinking, before his eyes widened at the realization that his atmosphere was unfamiliar to him. Tony hadn't noticed the man had awoken until he was on his feet, crouching down and spreading his wing.

His injured wing sent sharp pains throughout his body, and he tucked into himself, feeling at the gauze wrapped around his torso and keeping his injured wing from moving out of place. His sunken eyes landed on Tony as he moved, and they narrowed dangerously. Tony had been moving forward but froze when he was spotted. The two of them stared at each other, contemplating their next move.

Tony felt his best bet would be to calm him down. He'd have a lot of questions, possibly some explaining, and maybe Tony would have to fight him off to keep his winged guest from killing him. He hoped that the earlier night's activities had weakened him to the point where he wouldn't be table to strangle Tony.

The billionaire held his hands up, palms forward, to show he had no weapon. Those bright eyes were calculating, never leaving him as he straightened up to his full height. As he and Tony stared, locked in each others gaze, his mind recalled the fight, the blood, the searing, mind-numbing pain of being electrocuted with the pure power of his brother's lightening . . .

"I'm not going to hurt you," Tony insinuated, trying to give his guest a confident smile and breaking his worried thoughts. He knew it looked more awkward and forced than anything else. "Just . . . Just calm down, okay? You're going to tear the stitches. And if you do, I can't call the doctor to come back and fix them. He's probably halfway to Japan by now with his hush-money."

"Are you the one who treated my wounds?" the avian asked, hand unconsciously moving to touch the ugly cut across his stomach.

"Me? No. I just called the doctor who helped you. But we, uh . . ." Tony cleared his throat. "You landed on my car."

"Your what?" The man's dark eyebrows came together.

"My car. The, uh, big black thing that broke your . . . You know what? Forget it. How are you feeling? Want something to drink? To eat? Um, what do you eat?" He cracked a sarcastic smile. "If it's the raw flesh of virgins, I hate to break it to you, but we're fresh out. So, how about eggs or bacon?"

"You are a strange human," he commented. "First you're careful, cautious, and mere seconds later, you're offering me sustenance."

"Yeah. I'm one hell of a host." Tony grinned. "By the way, I don't cook for strangers, so mind telling me your name?" Tony turned his back on his guest, feeling those poisonous eyes on his back watching his every move. He could hear the rustling of feathers behind him.

"I would hear your name first," came the command. Tony chuckled as he reached the bar, pouring himself a glass of scotch to celebrate his aid to his guest.

"Haven't heard of me? Really? I'm surprised." Tony took a small drink from his glass. "The name's Stark. Tony Stark. You can just call me Tony. I prefer it anyways." He winked. "And you, Edgar Allan Poe? What's your name? I can come up with something if you'd like."

"My name is Loki, and you will not refer to me by anything other than so," Loki snapped, narrowing his eyes.

"Oo, temper!" Tony cackled and set his glass down. He looked at Loki's face, across to his wings. No matter how many times Tony looked at them, they were still magnificent to him. Large, wide, strong. He wondered how strong his muscles had to be to carry a human being.

"You find yourself to be amusing." The corner of Loki's mouth jerked up, despite his fighting the urge to smile. Tony saw it. "That might get annoying if I can't get away from you as I could my brother." He paused. "My brother doesn't know I'm here, does he?"

"'Brother'? There are more of you?" Tony's face lit up. Loki's eyes widened. He swallowed and turned away from Tony, pulling his wing around him to shield his face. Tony frowned and decided that it was a question best left unanswered.

"So, you're hungry?" he asked, changing the subject in hopes that Loki would forget he had asked a sensitive question. "Um, I guess I could try making you something. Cooking is not my forte, I'll admit. Would you prefer pizza? I could probably find a place that's open this early, yeah?"

Tony found Loki to be fascinating as he watched him carefully over the next few weeks. J.A.R.V.I.S. informed him that Loki often wandered through the house when he was gone, spending many hours inspecting every detail of the rooms he was allowed in, demanding from J.A.R.V.I.S. an explanation for rooms he was locked out of, and sometimes preened himself when he grew tired of exploring. Tony found himself joking with his companion of eating worms and bugs and laughing when Loki made a face or glowered at him.

Loki found amusement in watching Tony staring openly whenever he flapped his good wing, making sure the muscles worked properly, though he knew he would never be able to take flight with one of his wings wrapped tightly in bandages and weak from no use.

And then there came the task of changing the bandages once every day. Tony had Loki sit down on the patio outside, away from public eye where anyone walking by would be able to see, and began to cut at the white gauze. When he first began changing bandages, they were usually stained red and black with dried blood. As the days went by, the stains were smaller, lighter. That was a good sign, Tony took it.

As he began to unfold the bandages, he learned a secret of Loki's that he had been jokingly muttering to himself, but he never believed it to be true. Self-healing was a trait of the human body some people forgot about; Tony had to constantly remind Pepper that he was always healing himself when she fretted over a cut or a bruise from laboratory accidents. But this was something rather magnificent.

The bone had been snapped clean in half, of that he was sure. He remembered the awkward angle at which it bent when he was holding Loki's limp body in his arms earlier that week. But now, watching as the pitch black appendage unfolded and was used for a few test flaps, he found himself mesmerized. He murmured something under his breath, most likely "breathtaking," and he could hear Loki's amused but proud snorting.

"It's nothing. My brother and I can heal as easily as this." Loki's tone sounded chastising, but the smile pulling at his lips as he looked over his shoulder at Tony said that he was enjoying the open-mouthed attention he was receiving. Loki stood, wincing from the pain that shot up his side, and Tony helped him stand. The feathers seemed to fold out from his spine, along which was a soft feathery down that ticked Tony's palms.

"This is . . . this is magnificent . . .," Tony gasped, watching as the previously bandaged wing flapped once again. The gentle breeze that came from it felt cool against his skin in the warm sunlight. Loki turned to preen his wings, a tedious process where he sifted through the wings and threw away anything gross that would weigh him down, and often pulled loose feathers from their pores.

Tony reached out a hand carefully, touching along the bone that ran across the top of the wing, and drew back instantly when the wing shuddered beneath his touch. Loki moved faster than Tony could have imagined, whipping around and wrapping long, slim fingers around his wrist. Pain radiated from his arm all the way down to his hip; he gasped and fell to his knees under those poisonous, apple-green eyes. The strength was inhuman on his arm, and Tony found himself whimpering from the bruising fingers. The nerves in his hand were going numb.

Loki's lips pulled back into a sneer, face paling at the sight of Tony kneeling. "Do not overstep your bounds. I will eviscerate you." He leaned close, face millimeters from Tony's, hot breath dancing across his lips.

Tony could do nothing but nod in reply, his teeth gritted together from agony. His fingers twitched in Loki's vice-like grasp. Loki released him with a deep growl, fingers gingerly moving to the stitches protruding from his side, and Tony dropped to his elbows and knees. His hand was bright red, the grip on his arm stopping the blood flow. A ring of ugly purple circled Tony's wrist as a bracelet.

Tony touched at the internal bleeding and glared harshly at Loki's retreating back as he returned to grooming himself. Tony spat in his direction and stood, returning to the inside of his home. "J.A.R.V.I.S.! Open the lab door for me. And crank up some AC/DC or Guns and Roses, will you?" Tony began to descend the stairs to his workshop, ignoring the burning on his back. "Daddy needs an x-ray."

Pepper's face when she found Loki walking around the upper floor of Tony's home was rather priceless. Everything in her hands clattered as she watched him spread his wings, nearly the length of the lounge, and stretched. His wings shuddered with his body, feathers rustling together and drifting to the floor. The small voice she could muster came out in a whisper.

"Oh, my god." Her bright blue eyes were wide and open as Loki flapped his wings. A few of the papers she had dropped fluttered from the breeze created by them but Pepper didn't seem to notice them slide to her feet.

"Cool, huh? He also happens to be a major prick. I'm starting to regret saving his ass." Tony appeared from the foot of the stairs, his arm in a sling. Pepper gasped and covered her mouth. Tony rolled his eyes and held his good hand up. "Relax, Pep. It's just a sprain. A little bruising here and there. Some ice will heal it up within a few days."

"Tony, your wrist is purple!" Pepper shrieked. Loki made a face at her voice but remained silent, sitting on the back of the couch with his feet propped up on the cushions. "We need to get you to a hospital. And this freak needs to be sent to an asylum or . . . or somewhere not here!"

At "freak," Loki perked up, realizing he was the subject at hand. Tony gave him a knowing look which Loki retaliated with a rumbling growl from his chest. Tony held up his middle finger in an ugly gesture and turned back to Pepper. She looked horrified and shocked and was quite speechless at their silent argument.

Tony rolled his eyes and said easily, "It's just a sprain, Pep. I already had J.A.R.V.I.S. check it out. There's no fracture in the bone, surprisingly. I was actually glad he didn't snap my arm like a twig. He probably could have done it."

"Tony, you need to get rid of him . . ."

"And I will. Sell him to a fucking zoo's what I'll do." Tony's jaw set hard.

"If you speak of imprisonment, you had best not do it in my presence." Loki leapt from the couch, landing hard on the laminated floor and spreading his wings in a predator-like stance. Tony snorted and rolled his eyes.

"Why? Claustrophobic? Come on; you go to a zoo and you'll get three square meals, people taking pictures of you, zero-privacy . . ." Tony grinned and winked. Pepper slapped his arm hard, giving him a reprimanding stare. He just returned it with an eyebrow waggle and a laugh.

"Tony, listen." She pulled him closer to whisper. As she leaned in, Tony could smell the shampoo she had used on her hair, and it was smooth and heavenly. "It's not safe to keep him here. He's dangerous; you know what he's done to you!"

"Well, I hit him with a car!"

"Correction: he hit your car." Pepper crossed her arms over her chest. "Tony, I know you've made stupid mistakes in the past. I know because I watched you make them." There was a hint of accusation in her voice, but Tony chose to ignore it. "This man is going to kill you."

"Fine. But until those stitches come out"—Tony pointed towards the thin gauze wrapped beneath Loki's wings—"he stays here. No 'ifs,' 'ands,' or 'buts.' Okay, Pep?"

Pepper's eyes narrowed at him, her will pressing down on him to coerce him into making the decision she believed to be right. Tony fought back with what he firmly believed to be his moral standing and stubbornness. Pepper's brow twitched before she released a heavy, irritated sigh and let her hands drop to her sides.

"You'll regret this," she murmured.

"I probably will. But you know what? I might get something really sweet out of this for putting up with his pretentious ass." Tony gave Loki a sarcastic smile that went ignored behind Loki's back. "Maybe eternal life or a really hot wife."

"All right, I'm done here." Pepper turned away, took a step, turned back around with her hands held before her. "Tony, just . . . Don't let him get his hands around your neck, okay? With that kind of strength, he could easily snap your neck. You were lucky to get away with a sprain, even as ugly as it is."

"Right. Keep his hands away from my neck. That I can do." Tony winked her way, but she gave him that same stern look that he was beginning to have engraved in his retinas and left the room. Tony turned towards a fidgeting Loki, watching as he pulled out feathers that would have fallen from his wings during flight.

Tony regarded his careful attention to his personal hygiene before deciding that the newest addition to his suit was a little more important than watching Loki clean himself. He snorted and went back to the stairs before he heard a soft voice, almost a whisper. The words were muffled and indecipherable. Tony paused, still trying to mentally strip apart Loki's sentences.

"I'm sorry, I don't think I heard you," Tony said, considering crossing his arms before deciding that it would be both uncomfortable and ridiculous-looking. He decided on putting his free hand on his hip. "Mind speaking a little louder, Scarecrow?"

Loki turned and glowered his way, but Tony just smirked and cocked a brow, waiting for him to continue. "Scarecrow" didn't seem to catch on but he still replied as if Tony had called him by his actual name.

"I asked if you trained down there," Loki repeated, louder, his voice carrying easily. "You spend nearly every day and night beneath those steps, forbidding me to follow, and you hardly ever come out only to change my bandages and feed."

"Did you just use the word feed? What am I, some bloodthirsty animal?" Tony chuckled and took a few steps forward, his hand falling to his side. "If you want to think of it as training, you can. I prefer to call it inventing, creating. It's something I do both as a living and as a hobby." He watched suspicion and confusion creep onto Loki's face, his brow pulling together and the skin on his nose between his eyes wrinkled up. Tony found it endearing.

"Tell you what," he continued, shoving his hand into his pocket. "When this heals, and you stop acting like an introverted jackass, I'll let you into the old science lab and see what goes on. Maybe I'll let you tinker with something, and that's a strong maybe, as I prefer my tools and property in one piece as I got them, not in multiple pieces or bent out of shape."

Loki listened with a bemused expression before his face smoothed out and he simply stared back blankly. Tony chuckled at his obvious mask to hide the fact that he was still trying to wrap his head around Tony's words.

"You create?" Loki repeated after some silence, an amused smile pulling at his lips. "And what would these things be?" The interest in his voice was surprising, and he couldn't tell if ridicule was mixed his tone. Tony decided not to give it too much thought. He'd end up reading too deeply and getting insulted by nothing if he did.

"Maybe I'll show you," Tony teased, grinning. "But until you give me a reason to trust you, I'll be keeping that information to myself."

Green eyes stole a glance at Tony's bruised wrist, and Tony turned away from him and made his way back down the stairs to his workshop.

Loki had decided to stay once his wounds had healed over. Tony wasn't quite sure why he was allowing this stuck-up, prissy little bird-boy to remain in his home, but he didn't really feel like arguing. It was a rather nice thing to have someone to talk to occasionally. Loki often flew at night, keeping a low profile and making sure to not fly over the city where the lights would catch on his dark wings and pictures from alien conspiracy-theorists would pop up all over the internet.

Tony had his ways of shutting shit like that down in an instant, but he didn't quite feel like messing around with it, so he was grateful for Loki's common sense.

He even surprised himself when Loki once again asked him about the things he creates, and the first words to escape his lips were, "Let me show you." Loki had visibly perked at the words, and he nearly ran downstairs as Tony began to descend and not wait up for him. His eyes widened as Tony typed in his pass code to enter, and the second he did, J.A.R.V.I.S. greeted him warmly, along with his guest.

"Relax, it's just a machine," Tony said with a chuckle as Loki tensed and looked around the room worriedly. "Something I built. He's all over the place. You've heard him talk before."

"I had always thought he was an enemy," Loki admitted, still wary but relaxing at Tony's explanation. "Someone you couldn't keep out; I was beginning to feel sorry for you." Tony's lips pulled into a grin.

"Right. Of course you did."

Tony rubbed at his wrist, now in a brace, and sat down in his rolling chair. He sent himself moving towards a table, stopping himself with both hands. Tony looked at his wrist and made an appraising face. That massage Pepper had suggested to him days ago was genius. His wrist didn't even hurt, and he was glad for it because he tended to twist his hand around when he worked, and that first day had been hell.

Loki looked over everything as Tony worked, trying his best to assess the array of technology before him, but everything was unfamiliar. The things Tony had built he had never seen before, never even considered their existence. His eyes landed on the human-sized machines that almost seemed to copy the human anatomy. He openly stared, and Tony felt a swell of pride.

"Marks I through VII," he explained, turning away from his suits to look at the newest addition to his collection. "I built the first one to save my life. The others were modified for other things." He glanced up at the hunk of silver medal, seeming so medieval when standing next to its brothers.

"They are . . . metal humans?" Loki asked, cocking a brow. Tony's laugh surprised him.

"Not exactly. They're like armor. They protect me."

"Why do you need protection?"

Loki's voice was sincere. Tony paused, taking a deep breath and trying to come up with some bullshit answer to get the winged man's question out of his mind. He turned to Loki, hoping his sight would continue running over the machines and forget about the rather personal question he had just asked, but those curious eyes were on him, narrowed, brow pulled together out of . . . concern? Was that was Tony was seeing?

The billionaire cleared his throat and left the question unanswered, acting as though he hadn't heard it. Loki knew that Tony had heard him and had chosen to ignore him. His dark brows pulled tightly together, wrinkling his forehead. Was that a sensitive topic for him? Loki averted his eyes to a nearby hologram, watching as Tony pulled it off the table it was being projected from, rolling to another table with the holograph in his hands. He twisted it around in his hands before deciding it was worthless.

The glowing schematic in his hands was balled up into a small silver orb and Tony reeled back, throwing it with a precise flick of his wrist. The ball went soaring over Loki's head, and he jumped back, wings spread, expecting the ball to flash and explode into millions of tiny particles, but instead it went right over his head. It landed in a small hole that had appeared above the door they entered. The ball disappeared into it and bright letters reading out the word SCORE flashed before the goal disappeared. Tony grinned.

"That was a worthless sketch," he explained as Loki stared in wonder. "It's just a fun way of throwing out plans that wouldn't work or ones that I would probably have given up on. I programmed it more for the purpose of entertainment rather then efficiency." He rolled back to the glowing table and began to open files and pick out different pieces after opening a holographic cabinet. Loki subconsciously moved closer to watch Tony's fingers move through the parts before he began to pull them from their stock and assemble them into something akin to one of the arms on his suits.

"Gimme your hand," he said quietly, reaching out, his eyes watching Loki carefully for any signs of defense.

Loki drew back from him at first. Tony curled his fingers, encouraging Loki to step closer. Loki paused but approached and allowed Tony's fingers to slide over his skin. Tony was surprised to feel that same fire burning beneath Loki's skin that had nearly seared his hands the night they first met. His fingers ghosted over the fiery skin before he took hold of Loki's wrist and slid it into the schematic's hollow design for his arm. Loki's fingers were long and extended past the fingers Tony had designed for snug comfort, but he was still sure the design would move.

"Now, watch."

Tony pulled Loki's wrist away, and Loki's eyes widened as the hologram came away with his hand. He released his wrist as Loki curled his fingers, his mind trying to wrap around why the light was moving on his arm, how it was sitting there, and why he wasn't able to feel it against his hand and fingers. His eyes looked up to Tony, and he could see the satisfied smirk pulling at Tony's lips.

"Cool, huh?" he asked with a slight chortle. "I developed the entire system myself. Took about a year to get everything working properly and to keep from getting zapped occasionally. I think it's decent."

"Your definition of decent and mine are completely different, if you think this is only 'decent.'" Loki's eyes were as large as dining plates, and Tony would hardly see the small speck of black that was his pupil.

Tony took a personal joy in seeing Loki wiggle his fingers, his wings twitching on his back, and seeing the pure and utter amazement on his face. There was something about it that stroked his ego, and suddenly he could hear the pounding of his heart in his ears. Was that normal? Surely not.

Tony lifted his hand and cautiously laid it flat against Loki's, feeling that heat against his palm. The slim fingers towered over his. He stole a glance up at Loki to find him staring at Tony's eyes, and what was it he was seeing in them? Loki's eyes stared hard into his; flicked down quickly to his lips, back up.

Tony coughed and grabbed onto the hologram, pulling it swiftly through Loki's arm. He felt his neck burn hot beneath his collar and slipped his own fingers into the spaces. "Snug like a glove," he muttered sheepishly, looking down at it. "Hm. Those wires aren't crossed correctly. J.A.R.V.I.S., pull up the plans. I need to fix this; was I drunk or something?"

Loki hesitated, his hand feeling cold from the sudden disappearance of Tony's warmth, but he eventually moved to Tony's side and bent down, one wing extended out towards Tony's back, and watched him work. Tony could feel the heat radiating from beneath the feathers, and his skin broke out in gooseflesh.

The next day was when all hell broke loose. Loki was flapping his wings lightly, wearing a dark green shirt with the back cut out for free movement for his wings, when another storm began to gather outside of Tony's home. He hadn't given it much thought when the thunder began to echo along the cliff side, pouring himself a drink, but Loki had paused in working his wings and stared expectantly up at the quickly-gathering clouds overhead.

Tony had taken just a small sip of the whiskey when a hot bolt of lightening struck down, landing right onto the laminated floor of his patio. The shockwave of it landing nearly threw Tony through his wall, the glass of whiskey landing somewhere on the other side of the room with a tinkling shatter. Loki was also sent off-kilter as well, using his wings to buffer the majority of the blast.

The lightening disappeared, and Tony straightened up to see a long-haired, blond man standing on his patio, wings a dusty golden-brown and just as proportionally large as Loki's. His square jaw was tight as his teeth ground together, and he did not wait for an invitation to walk inside. He stormed in, the thunder outside nearly deafening, and spotted Loki immediately as he rose to his feet.

The blond man raised a large-faced hammer in his hand high above his head, ready to strike. Loki's reflexes were quick, and he dove out of the way as the hammer hummed and slammed into the floor. Rubble flew and a rather large crater opened up beneath it. Tony swallowed, wide-eyed, and pressed himself into the wall to avoid getting in the way. Shit, what was he supposed to do?! The suits were downstairs, his wristbands on the nightstand in his room. He was an open sore without any protection.

Loki spotted him, their eyes locked, and there was a flurry of black feathers before arms were around him, and they were dodging yet another blast of lightening. Loki's wing opened before him, shielding him from more debris. Loki yanked him to his feet and pulled him across the room. Their blond attacker watched carefully, the hammer again in his hand with the thong wrapped around his wrist.

"What the fuck is going on!?" Tony demanded as he was dragged outside into the pouring rain. The cold drops were painful as they slammed into his skin. He had to squint to keep the violent downpour from getting into his eyes. "Loki! What's going on? Explain this!"

Loki simply growled in response and pulled Tony's head to his chest, shielding him against the rain and lightening as the next hit from the big guy was a direct one. Tony could hear the sizzle and cracking of the hit but didn't feel it a bit, even with Loki's vice-like grip on him.

Loki landed hard on his back, Tony lying atop him. Tony sat up, pushing Loki's wings out of the way. He helped Loki sit up. The skin across his cheek had split, and a fresh new river of blood cascaded down his pale skin. Tony reached up, careful of touching it, but didn't get the chance to as their attacker approached, and he was enveloped by large, warm wings and strong arms. He turned around awkwardly to face the stranger as the hammer hummed again, its broadest face pointed towards them. Blue eyes glowed beneath a hard brow.

"Loki," the man said quietly, his eyes never leaving Loki's curled up form. The warm wings pulled tighter against Tony, squishing him between feathers and Loki's side. He was trapped.

"Thor," came the spitting reply. Loki's lip curled upwards, fingers painful against Tony's already aching shoulder. He grunted but made no other noise to show his discomfort.

"Using a human as a shield?" The blue eyes narrowed into thin slits. "Loki, even that should be below you."

"Do you see me thrusting him before me?" Loki slowly inched to his feet, pulling Tony up with him.

"Your shield does not have to be in front of you."

Thor's hammer retreated as Loki's wings unfolded, pulled back but still curled inwards. He looked down at Tony, pale but calm in his presence. Tony looked him in the eye, swallowing, body rigid in personal defense. Thor was considerably larger than Tony, towering above him as possibly Goliath did before David in that old biblical story. Blond hair whipped Thor's cheeks in the wind and stuck in the rain.

"Thor, listen to me . . ."

"I will not hear another lie from your lips, Brother."

"Hear me out!"

"The same way you heard out those whom you murdered?"

"Murdered"? The question was on Tony's tongue, struggling to be released, but he refused to let it slip. He looked up at Loki, reading his face for anything that would suggest that Thor's accusation might be a lie, a small hope that was soon burned to ashes as Loki met his gaze and quickly looked down at the arc reactor that glowed strong and bright beneath Tony's shirt. Tony swallowed, silently pleading, but Loki said nothing.

"You will return with me to Asgard and answer to our father's court for your crimes." Thor shifted his weight, his feet moving apart, and he looked down his nose at Loki in a challenge. Loki backed away slowly from Thor, his wings spreading as wide as Loki could manage them, giving them a text flap that brought Loki up to his toes.

"I will return to Asgard, as you say," he complied, holding his arms out at his sides, "but first . . . you will have to rip my entrails from their cavities!"

Strong wings flapped hard, and Loki sprung from the patio, hurtling himself into the air. Thor let out an enraged howl and spread his own tan wings, taking off after his brother. Lightening flashed and thunder roared as Thor and his brother collided hard in the air, falling a few feet before separating and repeating. Tony watched, entranced by their fighting. It was so medieval, so brutal. Tony had seen fights being resolved by the sound of a gunshot, and then the action was over. Seeing a prolonged fight to the death was an entirely different experience, the suspense of waiting to find out who won taking over him completely.

Feathers flew and blood spilled from wounds as they went at each others throats, fingers spread to claw the others eyes out. Tony felt his heart hammering in his chest as his mind scrambled to piece together a possible way to break the brothers up. His suits! His fucking suits were downstairs, and there was a slim chance one of the brawling, feathered brothers could be torn to shreds before he returned.

Tony decided it best to take that chance.

He managed to tear his eyes away from the scene and start back to the house when another crash of thunder nearly sent him sprawling, and Loki slammed through the wall with a cry of pain and slid across his floor inside. Tony fell to the ground as Loki had flown overhead and he scrambled to his feet, knees throbbing with pain from the sudden impact.

His ears were ringing loud as he came up to Loki's side, his pale skin split across his eyebrow and top lip twice. Blood seeped into his mouth and was smeared just above the crease of his eye. The red and pale pallor of his skin made his green eyes startlingly bright in contrast. He groaned and made a pained face as he pulled glass from a small puncture wound between his ribs.

Tony expected a plethora of expletives to come pouring out of his mouth, to hear Loki cursing his brother to the deepest pits of hell or something along those aggressive lines. The last four words Tony expected to come out of his mouth were, "Well, this is difficult."

" 'Difficult'?" Tony asked as Loki hauled himself to his feet, pulling Tony up with him. Thor slammed into the patio, cracking the foundation. Tony looked at it worriedly, knowing that another violent jar would probably have it crumbling down to the angry waters now churning below. "Your brother just threw you through my fucking wall!"

"So he did." Loki wiped blood from his lips using the back of his hand. "But he's hotheaded and stupid. I'm trying to explain . . ."

Loki sudden threw Tony to the side and ducked as the humming hammer flew past his ear. It landed somewhere in Tony's bedroom, taking out a portion of the wall with it. Tony's head slammed against the floor, dazing him, stars blinding him. He shook the dizziness away and managed to get to his feet to see the larger winged brother standing before his darker sibling.

Loki had fallen onto his back after pushing Tony out of the way of Thor's hammer. He was groaning, possibly having hit his head, and was attempting to sit up. Thor bent down and dropped his hammer easily down to the ground. A strangled gasp made its way through his throat as the hammer made an awful crunching sound as it hit the floor. Tony could hear the blood rushing through his ears as he managed to stand, ignoring the tilting floor.

"I'm taking you back to Asgard with me, Brother, whether you come willingly or not," Thor threatened, voice low and regretful. "You must explain to Father why you've done this . . ."

"Thor, release me!" Loki commanded, struggling beneath the obvious weight of the hammer on top of his wings. Thor remained standing where he was, arms crossed tight over his chest. Tony fought against the dizziness and charged to Thor, placing a hand on his arm to turn him around.

"Hey! Who the fuck do y"–

Tony's sentence disappeared with Thor whipping around and grabbing him by his shirt collar, tossing him aside. To Thor, he used no more strength than necessary to swat away a fly that was buzzing about his face and knocking into his cheeks. To Tony, he felt as though an elephant had yanked him off his feet and thrown him the length of three football fields.

His back landed against the patio, and he slid across the wet floor. The pain sent brightly-colored webs across the back of his eyelids as he landed, and his head slammed hard. The last thing he remembered seeing was the rain falling down into his eyes and the lightening flashing across the sky. He could have sworn he felt a freefalling sensation, but the darkness swallowed him quickly.

Tony disappeared beneath the cliff side as part of his home collapsed with the force of Tony's body being thrown, and Loki froze in horror. He swallowed before he began to thrash and flail beneath Mjölnir, and Thor jumped away from his brother's fit. Loki pulled at his wing, wincing as a muscle strained, and a few down feathers were ripped from their pores.

"RELEASE ME!" Loki crowed at the top of his lungs still pulling against the weighted weapon on him. "Thor, you bumbling oaf, let me go!" He looked up, glaring hard with wide, fright-filled eyes.

Thor hesitated at his brother's panicky fit, watching with confusion as his brother convulsed to be released. Another loud, horrendous outburst from his brother managed to snap him from the stupor he had caught himself in and he muttered quietly, "I have never seen you so worried over a single life, brother. Why are you acting this way?"

" 'Why'? 'Why'? Because you just knocked the person who saved my life off a fucking cliff, you dolt!" Loki felt the muscles in his wing sting with pain and he paused, breathing hard and spitting through his clenched teeth. "You're going to kill a human and not even bat an eye, as per usual, Thor. Release me. If you do not, I will make sure your days on Asgard are numbered!"

"What is this human to you?" Thor inquired, bending down on one knee to converse quickly, calmly with his brother. Loki was obviously in no condition to talk rationally and act level-headed, and the string of cursing screamed from his lips spoke just that, but Thor was curious. His interest had been piqued, although untimely, but the infatuation with this human Loki had seemed to form over the weeks he had been missing from Asgard was unusual for his rather distant little brother.

"Does it matter to you?" Loki spat back.

Thor remained still, and Loki's conniption fit only worsened. He calculated quickly.

"Loki, if I release you and allow you to save the life of this human – with whom you seem to have a connection with – you must return to Asgard with me."


"Loki, do you promise?"

The guilt of using his brother's feelings against him weighed heavily on him, but Thor knew the only way to settle the disturbance amongst his family was to act as his brother often did, cunning and often heartless. The only way to quiet the horrid whispers of Loki's betrayal was to have him appear before the court, explain himself. The so-called witnesses couldn't be depended upon until Loki told his side.

And so, Thor swallowed his conscience and asked him once again, "Do you promise?"

"I do!" Loki screamed. "Fine! I will return! Let me save him!" Loki thrashed violently again, groaning in pain and frustration. "Thor!"

The older sibling did not question him any further. No sooner had Thor's thick fingers wrapped around the hilt of Mjölnir and snatched it from the ground did Loki hurry to the edge, throwing himself down without a moment's hesitation to think about the possible dangers from the weather.

Thor let out a slow, deep breath and the storm outside began to calm. The thunder began to quiet and the rain slowed from a violent downpour to a misty drizzle. He stretched his wings, fluttering them worriedly as a few loose white feathers fluttered to the ground. He turned and looked around the home, taking in the extensive damage he had done. Several walls had holes knocked into them and the floor was now dotted with a few craters where he had dropped Mjölnir.

Another thing he would have to apologize for, besides nearly killing a human due to defensive reflex, was the extensive damage done to this human's home. This room was nearly in shambles, and there was no telling what other rooms where his hammer had been thrown into looked like.

Below, Loki was glad to find that Tony's body hadn't yet fallen into the ocean, and he reached out, snatching the man from his plummet, into his arms, and throwing his wings out. His pained wing strained and screamed at him against his use of it, but he ignored the throbbing and flapped hard, pushing against gravity and exhaustion and he held Tony's unconscious body tightly to him, cradling his head should Loki fail to get them into the air and end up crashing into the ocean below.

Loki turned hard, twisting himself into the air to turn back to Tony's house. The mist-like rain was cool against his skin as he managed to make it back to the broken patio and lower himself to the ground. He rushed over to the couch, depositing Tony's limp body onto the leather cushions and held Tony's face in his hands.

Across the room, Thor watched his brother touch the human's face, his cheeks, his chest, his neck. The front of Tony's shirt had been shredded beneath Thor's grip and a glowing circle embedded into his breast had been exposed. Beneath Loki's touch, Tony was cold and wet and weak, so weak.

Loki leaned close, feeling his neck and nearly fell apart as he felt the pulse beating soft and smooth against his fingers. He swallowed and leaned his head against Tony's arm; his entire body was trembling hard, but the relief inside of him was immense as he felt the human's life beneath his hands. His breath shuddered as Tony's brow furrowed, and he coughed once, twice. His eyes shot open, and he sat up violently, coughing into his hands and swallowing air as quickly as he could.

"I'm not dead?" Tony asked once he had managed to catch his breath and quell his coughing. He looked over at Loki, face flushed and eyes large with worry. Tony looked down, feeling his chest, his arc reactor warm and glowing beneath his fingers. He was alive. Somehow. He hadn't drowned; he hadn't broken into pieces on the rocks below. And Loki was safe. Bleeding, bruised, but safe.

Thor was watching them with fascination, curiosity. Tony looked up at him, wary now of the winged man's brutal strength, and tensed when their eyes met. Thor shuffled awkwardly, impatient for Loki to conclude his business here and return with him. He was aware of the human's discomfort and felt equally so after nearly killing him. The panic of nearly ending a human's life had shortened his own, and Heimdall surely saw everything, so Odin would be questioning him as well as Loki.

"You're not dead, but you are an absolute loon!" Loki growled, half-angry at Tony's rambunctious behavior. "You could have gotten killed, idiot! Have you already forgotten an Asgardian's strength?!"

"I'm sorry, your brother just trapped you on the floor, nearly killed you, and you're angry because I tried to intervene?" Tony questioned, placing a hand over his chest.

"I am!" Loki threw his arms out to his sides before cradling his head in his hands, hiding his eyes in his palms. "You nearly died. I almost lost you, you idiot. You completely brainless lunatic!"

Tony opened his mouth to reply when Loki's words hit him, and the only thing he managed was a weak squeak. He closed his mouth, waiting for Loki to continue on rambling about how stupid he was or something similar to that effect, but he remained silent, breathing heavily and folding his wings tight against his back.

" 'Losing me'?" Tony repeated, to which Loki nodded. "You were . . . You were worried about losing me?"

"Have I not yet made this clear, or must I spell everything out for you Midgardians?" Loki looked up from his hands, eyes narrowed from annoyance and pale cheeks already flushed pink. He seemed to make a small growling noise from the back of his throat and averted his eyes down to the floor.

"I'm afraid I'll have to leave," he said quietly, allowing his arms to drop down. "I promised I would return with Thor if he allowed me to save your life. I must stay true to my word."

Tony's own smile was gone the second Loki blinked. He swallowed thickly, his words trapped on his tongue, but which of the many words he wanted to use he couldn't decide. He bit his tongue harshly, possibly drawing blood from the sharp pain. Tony looked to Thor, and the blond simply nodded in answer to his unspoken question.

Tony's mouth opened in shock, and he closed it quickly before finally managing to find the strength in his voice to speak. "Just moments ago, you said that your brother would have to eviscerate you before you would return home! And suddenly you're totally okay with returning?"

"I promised that I would return if he allowed me to save you," Loki explained, his hands raised to take Tony's. "You must understand that."

"I'm not going to let you go." Tony's brow pulled down hard, and he glared up at Loki as the feathered man groaned and rolled his eyes. "I'm not! I'll tie you to the damn couch if I have to."

"My brother must return to Asgard," Thor confirmed, stepping forward with his wings outstretched. "Our father needs to speak with him about his actions against the people of our home. It's urgent, and he could lose his life if he does not return." Loki gave Tony a look that screamed "I told you so," and gave Tony's face a gentle stroke.

"Thor." Loki turned away from Tony with his hands still lying against him. "I know I have asked much of you, but please grant me this last favor." He released Tony and turned to his brother. "Allow me just one more night in this realm."

"Loki . . ."

"Thor, please," Loki begged. "I swear, I will not run or try and hide from you. I will return with you to Asgard tomorrow, but please - please just allow me to spend another night here. I will not struggle, and I will not fight you." The pleading look on Loki's face was horribly convincing. Tony was worried that Thor had decided to ignore his brother's promises and drag him back by the hair from his head, or break his dark wings as Thor had done so before, but there was a small bit of fight in his eyes as his fingers tightened over his weapon. Thor's eyes were cast downward, his lips parted in a sigh. Was he giving up?

Please, Tony asked mentally, please let him give up!

"One more night, Brother," Thor groaned. "I will allow you one more night here on Midgard. But tomorrow morning, when the sun rises, I want to see you out there ready to return home." He stretched his wings out. "Father will decide if you are able to return or if you are to be imprisoned for your act of treason."

"Self-defense," Loki corrected, but did not argue the point any further.

Thor gave Loki and Tony scrutinizing looks before, eyes narrowed and jaw set hard, he turned away. His wings beat hard, and once he passed the threshold he disappeared quickly, thunder echoing across the water where clouds were beginning to disperse. Loki relaxed and sighed, eyes closing and hands falling to his side. Tony waited for Thor to return suddenly, maybe announcing that he was joking about allowing Loki to stay, before he leaned over and wrapped his arms around him. Loki followed suit, wings enveloping him in warmth. He could feel the racing heart against his cheek and was sure Loki could feel his.

The feathery down between Tony's fingers was soft.

The night seemed to rush after them as wounds were taken care of, Tony made sure Loki's wing had not been broken or fractured from the hammer ("It's name is Mjölnir, loyal to my brother," Loki had explained as Tony laid his wing out to get a proper x-ray. "No one but he can carry it." Tony didn't really care about the hammer because Loki then jokingly slapped him in the face with his opposite wing.), and once things were taken care of that required attention, the sun had set, a warm wind was blowing off the ocean, and Tony had to call Pepper to arrange having his house reconstructed while Loki was away.

He made sure to emphasis that Loki would return to see the house in one piece once again, ignoring the eye-rolls and the sarcastic mumbles from across the room.

After making the arrangements to have his house repaired, Pepper had rushed over as fast as she could humanly manage to take in the damage herself. She nearly fainted and had lowered herself onto the couch, one of the few pieces in Tony's house that weren't completely destroyed, and then spent a good forty-six minutes yelling and screaming at him about having winged gods (as Loki continued explaining to Tony in his workshop, which Tony still didn't entirely believe) fighting to the death in his home. When he attempted to correct her, she raised her voice and nearly choked him. After she calmed down and ran hands through her hair worriedly, she promised to make those calls that very evening and left as the sun was dipping low into the horizon.

Tony locked down the bedroom and living room that had been destroyed and they moved to the safer portion of the home where a guest bedroom had been prepared. Tony had made sure it was always in tip-top shape, sometimes crashing there if he was too drunk and tired to make it to his own bedroom, and that was where he and Loki spent the night. He had been worried about whether or not inviting Loki to share his bed would deter the god from wanting to rest beneath the sheets.

Loki proved him wrong.

When the door had closed, the lights already cut off to darken the room to an eery pitch black, Loki had pulled Tony to him, wrapped him up in his arms and wings, and Tony found himself in a rather violent, well-controlled lip-lock with him. Not a single complaint ran through his head as a pair of those hands ran burning trails across his neck, his cheeks, slipping beneath his shirt to run over his stomach. Tony groaned into the kiss, mouth hanging open as Loki's tongue slipped between his lips. Every coherent thought seemed to melt under that heat before they both remembered that oxygen was a necessity of life and parted. Hot breath ghosted over Tony's cheek.

"Fuck, if that's just a kiss . . .," Tony said, swallowing. "Wait, wait." He felt himself begin to sweat in the shroud of heat around him. "You're coming back, right? I don't want this to be a one-time thing, because between you and me . . ." Whatever was supposed to come next was instantly erased from his mind as Loki's teeth clamped down onto a bit of skin on his neck, and that next thought coming out of his mouth suddenly turned into a wanton groan. His legs began to shake.

"Hush, Tony, don't speak," Loki whispered huskily against his ear, scalding hand coming to cup his cheek. Tony complied willingly, pushing himself hard against Loki and letting his head loll back to entrust his now-exposed neck to more treatment from those warm lips. His breath hitched at every swipe of the tongue across his skin or the small jolt of pain as teeth dug in, too shallow to draw blood forth. His hands knotted the cropped shirt in fists.

The bed came up beneath them before Tony was even aware of it. Hands rid him of his shirt, Tony made things even, and then hot skin pressed against his and hips rolled from above him and Christ, that growl that rumbled from his chest should not have been in his ability to make. Loki hummed pleasantly against his throat and his wings shuddered with his body. Tony pulled him back up for another heated kiss, tongues sliding and fighting with each other, and Tony found himself subconsciously rutting against Loki's hips, waves of fire running through his veins. Hot hands were at his waist, slipping across the sensitive skin above his groin.

"Don't . . . tease," Tony groaned, bucking his hips against those fingers. Loki chuckled, moving back to his neck, his shoulder, leaving trails of kisses and nips as he moved. Loki worked the button on Tony's jeans with ease, working the zipper down and slipping his fingers into the waistband and pulling. The fabric slipped from his hips without problem. Tony let out a breathy gasp as fire-like hands wrapped around him, and he once again began moving his hips up. Loki pushed against him, keeping him in place as his tongue grazed along the bottom, leading up to the head. Tony, who had been whimpering moments ago, was now breathless and unable to make any noise. His throat seemed to close as Loki engulfed him entirely.

Tony managed to find his voice and moaned as Loki raised his head before taking him in again, over and over repeating this as Tony gripped bed sheets in his fists, one hand lowering to sift through Loki's hair, and voiced his approval of the ministrations. Loki hummed again, and Tony could feel a hot coil building in his stomach, wrapping around his insides and squeezing them tight. He voiced his release, how close he was, before he felt cool air against him and realized Loki had pulled away and left him just on the edge of release. Loki smirked as Tony gave him a hard glare before Loki clambered back up, stalling Tony's nasty insult and claiming his mouth once more.

Loki's hands were all over him, cold trails following those searing palms and fingers, and Tony wasn't quite sure when Loki had stripped himself bare but he could feel Loki's bare thigh against his knee and then fuck - Tony realized quickly was he was getting himself into. Loki was, for human standards, pretty big. Tony's senses suddenly returned, and as Loki moved to press their lips together, Tony stopped him with a quick hand. Loki glared at him and growled to show his disapproval, but Tony shushed him.

"This is . . . This is fast," he choked again, ignoring the hard throbbing between his legs. "Or, what I mean is . . . Well, you're leaving tomorrow. I don't want any sort of, well, any regrets. I mean, am I ever going to see you again? It'd be one hell of a bummer if not." Tony swallowed as Loki began to fight off a small smile, failing miserably.

"So much thought over a small ordeal," Loki whispered, brushing a stray strand of hair from Tony's forehead.

"I'm not so sure what you see as a small ordeal, but . . ." Loki quieted him, hand cupping his cheek and lips pressed against his mouth, his nose, his cheeks.

"I will ensure my return at any cost," Loki promised against his cheek, grinding their arousals together and eliciting a sultry groan from Tony's end. "Even if it means I must kill my brother."

"Talking about family in bed is a huge turn-off, you know."

Tony gasped as he felt another wave crash over him as Loki gripped him again, easing his legs apart and giving attention to his chest. Tony muttered something about lubrication, knowing that he'd be in pain for a week without out (possibly even with it, knowing Loki's strength), and Loki managed to locate a bottle tucked away in one of the nightstands' drawers. Loki twisted the cap open and poured a generous amount on his hand.

"You even know what you're doing?" Tony asked with a laugh. Loki rolled his eyes.

"You cannot stay quiet even for a moment," Loki grumbled, kissing along Tony's ear to distract him as his first finger pushed inside. Tony tensed, breath catching in his throat, and Loki took the opportunity to capture Tony's open mouth and let his tongue run along Tony's lips. Tony soon relaxed as Loki moved the digit, encouraged by Tony's rolling hips to add another. As he did, Tony once again became rigid and Loki did everything he could to ensure he wasn't uncomfortable. Tony promised him he was all right, and when he had that third finger in, Loki was sure Tony was going to try his hand at breaking his neck.

Tony was in pain; it wasn't unbearable or excruciating. It was painful, being his first time to actually be taken by another man, but there was an underlying pleasure behind it, and he bit his lip lightly as Loki removed his hand. He coated himself with the slick liquid, kissing Tony, hands rubbing soothing circles on the inside of his thigh and the other positioning himself as he slowly, carefully entered.

A strained gasp and whine came from Tony's throat as Loki pushed in, careful of the small human before him. Lips pressed against Tony's forehead, fingers stroked gently at his cheek as Loki moved until he was in to the hilt, buried deep, his forehead leaning against Tony's cheek. Tony's breath was warm against his skin, sweat dripping down his back as he waited for any pain to subside. Loki could feel the mortal smile against him before he shifted his hips, a silent plea to move before they both went crazy.

Loki pulled back, listening to Tony hiss before he moved back in, set a steady pace, listening to the small exhaled moans that came with each thrust. Tony was moving to meet him, slowly at first. Each passing second had them craving more, and they were soon rocking hard against each other, skin slapping and teeth biting skin and lips and sweat glistening on their skin. Tony let out a few choice expletives, feeling that torrid coil build up in his stomach, twisting hard. Loki's breathing became labored, erratic, and Tony could hear his name on Loki's lips.

The coil in his stomach felt as though it was ready to burst, and he mentally attempted to stave it off, keeping his release back, but Loki's hand had grabbed his already painful erection, and Tony's mind shattered. He couldn't hold himself out any longer, and with a wanton scream, the heat overtook him, his release rocking his body and making him shake. The tight muscles around Loki clenched hard, and he growled Tony's name against his neck before he was also climaxing, trembling above Tony with his wings curling inward, surrounding the two of them with heat and soft feathers as they rode out their orgasms.

Loki collapsed atop him, breathing heavily and letting his wings rest out the span of the bed. Tony's arms came around Loki's shoulders, his lips pressed to the next of black, disheveled hair. Loki nuzzled Tony's neck, his hand coming to rest against the arc reactor glowing hot and bright in Tony's chest. Loki let his fingers dance over the light it gave off, creating shadows over the ceiling that Tony watched to ensure those sneaky fingers wouldn't snatch it from its cradle. Loki's hand soon stilled, and a long silence hung between them filled only with the sound of them catching their breath.

Tony finally broke it with a sigh, followed by a whisper, "When are you leaving?"

"I don't know." Loki arched his neck to look up. Tony's eyes were trained on the ceiling, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed.

"When do you plan on returning?"

"You ask too many questions." Loki chuckled, stretching his wings. "I will return when I can."

Tony remained silent, hand subconsciously running through Loki's hair, and Loki hummed in appreciation. Exhaustion dragged on his eyelids, and as much as he wanted to fight it away and stay awake for the entirety of the night, the stress of the entire day came crashing down on him, and he had drifted off before he was even aware.

Sunlight stabbed Tony's eyes when he cracked them open, and his squeezed them shut as he rolled over, a pillow pressed against his head. He let his eyes drift shut once again before they shot open, and he let his eyes adjust to the light before sitting up in bed. He was bare beneath his sheets, the covers pulled up nearly to his chin, and a small corner near the end of the bed was disheveled from the events of the night before. He rubbed his groggy eyes with the heel of his hand.

Loki was gone.

Tony's heart hammered in his chest. Besides himself, the room was empty, eerily quiet. He threw the covers from himself, ready to spring out of bed when something caught his eye. It was lying against the white blanket, close to his hand: a long, black feather. He reached over and plucked it from where it lied, twisting it around in his fingers before laying it down on his hand.

It nearly touched the tip of his middle finger.