Warnings: Slash content (obviously), bad language, violence, Loki-ness and Tony's disjointed thought processes. Rated for language, which is obviously here because of Tony. It's just how it is.

Disclaimer: We fangirls wish we owned this stuff, but we don't. Don't make us suffer by reminding us of that fact.

Anyway, I'll let you get on with actually reading. Hope you enjoy it!

ULTIO ULTIONIS

1. Necklace

X-X-X

It started with a stab of pain, a pound of fear and then there may as well have not been any ground beneath his feet. He would have seen red, but there was no more strength in him left for true anger. He was just left with silent redemption. Cold, burning redemption that hated every fibre of his being and made him hate it too.

If every second of his life had been designed to leave him to this moment then those who wrote the words of fate were far crueller than he had ever wanted to believe. If he could go from being one of the smartest souls he knew to being such an imbecilic monster in such a short amount of time then maybe he did deserve everything that he had received during his life. Maybe he was the monster that he had spent so long making himself out to be, and maybe he really did need to be punished for all of the crimes that he knew perfectly well he had committed.

But that didn't stop him being afraid, because who in any universe wouldn't be? The punishment set up for him was sure to be awful. He had known that from the start. Even before he had made all those mistakes he had known that in the end he would get caught and punished. He wasn't sure whether or not he had admitted it to himself, though. He just knew that he had felt it.

Punishment hit him hard. Harder than he believed he could ever admit. But he sat through it, staring with stony eyes that didn't have the effect that he wished they would. His insides were screaming throughout every second of what they did do him, before he was thrown into the darkness. That was when he stopped being able to tell what was going to happen to him next. But if it was going to be what he thought it was … then he had to do the brave thing.

And so he fled, out of one pool of darkness and into another. That was when he was given the gift. That was when he was given the gift, and that was when he swore on the wordsUltio Ultionis. Punishment was going to find him again. But he didn't know when.

Loki just hoped, by the Nine he hoped, that it wouldn't be as painful as what had already happened to him.

x-x-x

A billionaire, playboy and of course genius philanthropist, Tony Stark was a man of many bad habits. Drinking, barely getting enough sleep to get by, drinking some more and then drinking again. He was not known as a man of responsibility or wise decisions. He was a genius, sure, but still one of the biggest idiots on the face of the planet. And for the most part Tony accepted that. It was a pain, sure, but so was he. He could live with the whole being an irresponsible moron thing without too much difficulty. He always had.

It was the being an irresponsible idiot thing that had Tony up at three o'clock in the morning, scotch in hand, walking up to his bedroom with a headache that was finally starting to slip away. The likelihood was that the thumping pain would return by the time that Tony woke up, but the break from it was nice enough.

Tony was still holding the glass that had contained scotch not too long ago when he reached his bedroom. Why hadn't he put it down? He had no idea. He just kind of stood there for a second, looking at it before opening his door and walking into his room. The whole thing seemed like proof that he was killing his brain, and yet he somehow didn't care. Used to it, probably.

Over time Tony had kind of reached a point where he didn't need to look around his place to know where he was going. You know, more or less. The whole thing kind of failed if he was drunk, but Tony hadn't actually drunk very much. He was actually kind of proud of that, although he of course hadn't drunk much only by his standards. Other people would probably be far worse off than he was if they had consumed the amount of alcohol that he had. Was that a bad thing or a good?

Tony put his glass down without looking up at his room, or in the direction of his bed. He just kind of dumped it on a surface, not really registering which one. He really wasn't taking in anything around him, which is why (for just a moment, Tony would later swear) the sound of somebody speaking scared him shitless.

"Hello, Man of Iron."

Tony jumped and spun around on the spot to see the source of the voice, though he recognised it anyway. It was the voice of someone who had, you know, aided the attack of a whole load of aliens on the city, and the voice of someone who probably shouldn't have been free to be popping into people's bedrooms in the middle of the night.

Fucking Loki was sitting on Tony's bed. His legs were crossed, his fingers were pressed together a little below his face and he was wearing a smirk that Tony didn't think could be a good thing.

"Shit!" Tony let out, probably to Loki's amusement. "JARVIS!"

Seriously, why hadn't JARVIS warned him that Loki was there? Did JARVIS think that Loki wasn't a threat? Because if he did, then that was totally a problem. Or not, actually. It probably wouldn't do Tony any good to doubt his undeniable genius, right?

"Sorry," came the voice of JARVIS. "Shall I alert the others, sir?"

Tony thought about that for a second. If JARVIS hadn't said that Loki was there, then it meant that there was no threat. Right? JARVIS was supposed to alert people to any threat as soon as it was detectable. And if there had been no warning, then JARVIS didn't see anything to worry about. Tony had no idea why, but distrusting JARVIS was kind of like distrusting himself.

Also, if Tony everyone in the building was alerted to the fact that Loki was here and got into fight mode then Tony probably wouldn't find out why he was here in the first place. And there would be Avengers storming into his room who would probably still be in the stuff they had gone to sleep in, which would be kind of gross to look at, however childish that sounded.

"No," Tony said finally. "I don't want a bunch of Avengers in their sleepwear bursting into my room."

"Very well, sir," JARVIS said with that tone Pepper frequently adopted. Why had Tony given his AI such an attitude?

Loki was looking very amused at this entire thing, and his smirk sent the level on Tony's uncomfortable-ohmmeter through the roof.

"I must say, Stark. You're priorities seem rather warped," Loki said, tongue curling delicately around the words.

"Yeah, yeah, and you're a saint," Tony muttered, half of his mind yelling at him for letting Loki just sit there. "Where the hell did you come from?"

"Hell, as it turns out," Loki drawled carelessly, uncrossing his legs and placing his feet on the floor. "But not the one that you are familiar with."

"What?" Tony asked, bemused. He suddenly kind of forgot that this situation was probably not one that he should be allowing himself to be in and just focused on the actual conversation.

"I don't have time to explain the concept of Hell to a man who believes that he is going there, Stark, because you'll find out about it for yourself one day," Loki stated.

Tony decided to ignore how meaningful that was because hey, it was Loki speaking and that was how he worked.

"I'm here strictly on business," Loki finished simply, and Tony blinked in surprise.

"At three in the morning?" Tony demanded. "In my bed?"

"I think you will find that I am on your bed," Loki drawled, "but other than that you are correct."

"I don't like how much you're enjoying this," said Tony with a frown, because he really didn't. Loki's smirk itself was probably an evil genius of its own.

"Really," Loki said. Not a question. "Because I don't see you calling in anybody to try and stop me from doing anything."

Tony folded his arms. "I stand by my previous statement."

"As well you should."

"I'm getting mixed messages here."

"There is no reason why you should be," Loki told Tony, and another frown occurred. Loki really made no sense.

"Why's that?" Tony asked.

"Stark," Loki said, his tone becoming more like a warning, "I think that you are delaying the inevitable."

"Fine, fine." Tony sighed, with no idea what his thoughts were doing. "What is it that you want?"

Man would he regret asking that.

"Aid," Loki said like it was simple enough.

Tony frowned. Had Loki just said that he had come to Tony (at three in the morning) because he needed help? Because that was definitely what it had sounded like to Tony. Why did Loki need help in the first place? Was it because he was hiding from Odin and the others in Asgard? He could easily been doing that. Thor hadn't really wanted to lay on the details about what had happened to Loki as punishment, and as far as Tony could see no punishment had happened.

If Loki was on the run, Tony sure as hell wasn't going to help him with that. Even if he did think that it would be a good idea to help Loki out with that kind of thing, it really wasn't his place to get involved with Asgard's shit. Even Tony had some sense of kind of thing.

"Did you just say you need 'aid'?" Tony asked, having no real better idea of what to say.

Loki stood up, in one smooth movement, and took a few steps in Tony's direction. Why did everybody have to be taller than him? Tony hated that.

"You think that I'm going to help you?" Tony asked, his voice a little deeper than intended.

"I think that it would be in your best interests if you did," Loki said, very quietly. Crap.

"Are you being serious right now?" Tony demanded, deciding to act like the manly man he knew he was really. You know, in comparison to Coulson and not, like, Thor.

"I'm not finding this particularly funny," Loki informed Tony. "And if you are then you really have consumed a rather ridiculous amount of alcohol."

Tony said nothing to that. What was he supposed to say? It was past three o'clock in the morning, he hadn't slept for he didn't know how many hours and he had been drinking, whether he thought that he was being really badly affected by it or not.

"Stark," Loki said suddenly, folding his arms. "You must be aware of the fact that it is in my best interests to remain … low profile, I should say."

"Yeah," Tony agreed, just deciding to go along with what Loki was saying. "Aren't you, like, supposed to be at the hands of the Æsir or whatever? If Thor's anything to go by then Odin's kinda fond of potentially long-term punishment."

Loki nodded and said, "My sentence would not be death, but it would have been lifelong if Odin had been left to get angry at me for too long. And he thought that he would have that time. Odin has rather a habit of underestimating me."

"I'm sure he does."

That had kind of hit Tony hard. He kind of related to that father issues thing. And it was highly likely that Loki knew that, and also very likely that he had used that to gain Tony's sympathy, but it didn't mean that it didn't work.

"If I am quiet for long enough then I will likely be forgotten about," Loki continued. "In time Odin will be convinced, probably by my mother that he has done enough to me for now and leave me alone. But that could be a long time coming, and so for a while I have to avoid doing anything that will make anybody angry."

Tony thought for a second. It was a big thing with Loki that he didn't consider Thor and Odin family, right? But Loki had definitely just used the word mother. Tony thought for another moment, and then decided that it would probably be better not to mention that at all. Like, ever. He valued his insides being, you know, inside.

"Can I assume that you're gonna give up on the whole 'in hiding' thing when you get bored?" Tony asked, kind of worried again.

"Perhaps," Loki said in response, and by the way he looked Tony would have bet anything that he knew exactly what had just gone through his mind. "In fact, quite possibly. I am not as irresponsible as you make yourself out to be, but I am not immune to boredom."

"Is that why you chose to come here at three in the morning instead of during the day? Because you could have done that, you know. Come during the day. It'd have been more polite."

"Stark." Loki's tone had become firm. "Be quiet."

Tony just nodded once, and didn't say anything.

"It is the case at the moment that my magic is uncomfortably weak," Loki started. "And as such my abilities are rather limited. I cannot be landed with responsibilities such as the one that has been thrust upon me."

"Huh?"

Tony had absolutely no idea what that meant. What responsibility could Loki have been given? Wasn't he, like, a little villain in hiding? How villainous were villains when they were in hiding? Maybe Loki should have gone to somebody who understood psychology better, if Loki was able to find somebody else who wouldn't alert the Avengers to the presence of a super criminal in their bedroom at three o'clock in the morning who had an AI that decided that an obvious possible threat wasn't actually a threat.

"With mention of my responsibility we finally reach my real reason for being here," Loki drawled. He rolled his head a little, stretching his neck. "You do enjoy engaging people in pointless banter, don't you?"

"I think that's your fault this time," Tony said. The whole standing his ground thing was necessary, he thought. "You rambled."

Loki said nothing. He just looked at Tony, arms folded and eyebrow just slightly raised. Tony looked down, a little feeling like a scolded child.

"Carry on," Tony muttered. What the hell was with him at the moment?

Loki took another step forwards, looking at Tony with eyes that were somehow magically sharp and yet painfully gentle at the same time. Tony decided not to move away from him, because then he would bump into something and look like an idiot. He had literally no idea what was wrong with him, because Loki hadn't made things quite this unnerving last time he had spoken to Tony. Why hadn't he told JARVIS to bring the others in again?

Loki cocked his head a little, and reached into his pocket. Tony forgot about his worries, suddenly fascinated. Stupid Tony. Tony hated that guy!

What Loki drew out of his pocket was a necklace of all things. Two bits of silver were curled around each other, being held by a gold and silver chain. One of the curled bits of silver was lined with tiny blue jewels.

"That's nice," Tony said, feeling a little better than before. "Really pretty. Don't know if it's really your style, but maybe you could pull it off with the right outfit."

"Stark," Loki muttered darkly. "I take it that would be stupid of me to assume that you know exactly what this is?"

Oh. Thank God Loki had ignored Tony's comment. That had been dumb. He wasn't particularly proud if that.

"Well, it's a necklace," Tony said in answer to Loki's question, "but I can't go for the points on detail."

Loki smiled and took a few steps backwards, away from Tony. And he didn't hit anything like Tony probably would have done. With a few movements of his hand he had the gold and silver chain wrapped elegantly around it, the silver curls hanging delicately from the back of his hand.

"This necklace was given to me," Loki explained, though vaguely. "But it is not a good idea for me to have it in my possession."

Tony frowned at that. He was once again confused and had no idea where the conversation was going. Or where it had started.

"So why was it given to you?" Tony asked. Yes, of all the possible questions that was the one that came to Tony, and Tony hated Tony again.

"Because options are running thin," Loki said to answer Tony's question. "If this necklace is in the possession of its true owner then it can be used for many things, but by itself it can merely do what it does automatically."

Tony cocked his head and asked, "Which is what, exactly?"

"Unimportant," stated Loki. He wasn't great at the whole clarity thing, was he? "But it would be much better for this planet if it weren't in my hands."

That got Tony. Had Loki just said something that kinda sort of a little bit sounded like he cared for Earth's wellbeing? Because that was what it had sounded that to Tony. Although Tony's occasional selective hearing problem had been pointed out to him before. Maybe Tony was just hearing things.

"Wait," Tony said slowly, without his brain's permission. "Did you just imply that you actually kinda care a little but about this planet?"

Loki's eyebrow raised just slightly as he looked at Tony with hard eyes. They were like walls, Tony thought. Green walls. Evil green walls. Tony needed to stop thinking.

"What would be the point of allowing this planet to fall if I were not the one who gained control of it afterwards?" Loki asked sweetly, a smile curling onto one side of his mouth.

"Mm." Tony nodded. Kinda made sense. For an evil mind.

There was a moment of silent that seemed to last too long then. Tony just looked at Loki as he stood there, eyebrows slightly raised as he watched Tony watching him. There was probably some subtext there that would have told Tony what Loki was thinking, but Tony was too tired to read it. Surely a guy who had been raised as a prince would have better manners than to come into a guy's room in the middle of the night and talk about necklaces and shit.

"Stark," uttered Loki suddenly. "I need you to take this necklace."

Tony blinked. "I'm sorry, what?"

Loki sighed, and with more stupidly elegant movements of his hand (not that Tony was jealous or anything) he allowed the necklace to slip off his hand and onto Tony's bed. Tony watched it as the blue jewels flashed weakly for a moment before returning to their original state. Of course. Magic necklace. Probably evil magic necklace. Was blue a recurring theme here?

"The acquaintance of mine who wishes to obtain the necklace would not use it for things that would help the human race, as far as the human race itself is concerned," Loki told Tony. "And it would be harder for him to trace its location if it lies with you."

And Tony's mind was boggled all over again then, on account of the fact that he still had no fucking idea what Loki was talking about.

"Huh?"

"Not only that," Loki continued, clearly ignoring Tony's confusion, "but he would not expect me to have given it to an Avenger. The idea will not even occur to him for a long while. And keeping the necklace out of his possession will benefit all of us."

"You know, I'm still not getting any of this," Tony said, perfectly truthfully. "What the fuck are you talking about again?"

Loki sighed and rolled his eyes. Tony was a genius, right? Why was he being made to feel like such an idiot? Pepper seemed to have a point with the whole "sleep is a good thing" movement. Figures.

"I cannot stay here all night, Stark," Loki breathed out. "I'm afraid that I do in fact have places to be."

"But—!"

"Stark."

And Tony was shushed again, like a scolded child. He felt absolutely ridiculous. Loki shouldn't have this much power, right? Especially seeing as he had claimed that he was pretty weak in the magic department at the moment. It was just ridiculous.

Loki turned away from Tony, arms crossed firmly against his chest. He would have looked like a petulant child had he not carried out the movement.

"Consider the necklace a gift." Loki's voice was close to a whisper. "Not one from me of course, but from somebody with better intentions than myself. And it would be in your best interests to keep the necklace a secret. You will be less likely to be found if you keep the fact that you have the necklace to yourself."

"And I don't want to be found?"

"You don't want to be found."

And Tony was going to say something else, because Loki had raised a ridiculous amount of questions by just being in Tony's room, never mind all that talk about escaping, magic and necklaces that were probably evil. But Tony couldn't say anymore, because as soon as he opened his mouth Loki vanished. He was just gone. And Tony may or may not have been surprised by that. But he was too tired to be able to tell.

"What the fuck?" was all he managed before he rubbed his hands over his face.

"Sir," came the voice of JARVIS suddenly, "that necklace is giving off an unsafe amount of heat. I believe that it could cause some substantial damage if it is not moved."

Tony looked to the necklace, and saw that it had gone a faint red colour, and there was what appeared to be smoke coming off it. Of course, it was all magic or whatever.

"Shit!"

Tony moved over to his bed quickly and snatched up the necklace. But it didn't feel hot on his hands at all. In fact it felt quite cold. Not too cold, but not massively comfortable. A look to the bed told Tony that no mark had been left by the necklace at all. Again, magic. Whatever.

"The necklace is now a safe temperature, sir," Tony was informed.

"Yeah, JARVIS. Thanks for that."

"I exist to serve, sir."

"Don't be cute," muttered Tony. "You're not cute."

"If you have any problem with me, sir, you should blame none but yourself."

Tony gave up on that whole conversation and looked to the necklace as it sat in his hand. He wasn't sure, but it looked almost like the colours on the necklace were now cooler than they had been when Loki was holding it. Though maybe he was just imagining things.

Tony moved to the bedside table and just shoved the necklace in the drawer. What the hell else was he supposed to do with it at that moment? He had no idea how serious Loki was being when he gave Tony all those little dramatic warnings (like he cared about Tony anyway) and how was one meant to hide a magic necklace anyway? Tony had no time to care about that.

Well, Tony was now ten times more exhausted than he had been before he entered the room. He didn't even really have the energy to undress. He just kind of fell onto his bed, and was asleep almost instantly.

x-x-x

Laufeyson,

I gave you that necklace for a reason. It's important to keep him in the dark about the whole truth, okay? I hope that you don't make any stupid decisions that get us both killed.

There's no longer any reading on the necklace. I hope you didn't do anything too idiotic getting rid of it. There are some people you could give it to that would serve us better dead, but you need to be careful. As do I. I've got my eye on him as he searches for his precious necklace.

Watch yourself, Laufeyson. Don't get killed when you worked so hard to get out of Asgard before they could finish the whole punishment thing. I'm not your biggest fan, but you're no good to me dead. Or without any power. Just keep both your eyes open. And maybe a few other people's. Whatever works, alright?

A.G.

I had a massive argument with this chapter. Especially the beginning. I had about one gram of angst feels and ended up getting them out. I don't do angst as well as I wish I could.

And I want to thank OperationBlackSheep for making me want to write Avengers fan fic in the first place and AnyRandomBookFandom for putting up with me talking at her about this so much. I really appreciate all of that.