The Trouble with Machinery
Loki sat outside of the operating room with a stoic face but inside he was nervous and worried like he had never been in his long life. Anthony's heart had stopped in the helicopter and would not start. It took a high amount of electricity to get it going and when it started Anthony didn't wake up. This worried Loki because once they were at the hospital the doctors seemed to be in an uproar.
Pepper was sitting down across from him with his child that was still sound asleep, strangely so. The red haired woman looked absolutely horrified, no doubt with the worse possible scenario going through her mind. There wasn't anything he could possibly say to help her, especially when he had the same thing going through his mind.
If Anthony died he didn't know what he would do with himself. He couldn't fathom life without the billionaire. It took him a long time to get to the point where he could actually think about something other than the wrongs done to him.
He didn't want to slip back into being that misguided person. He didn't want to be that broken soul again and he feared that if Anthony died he would be that. He would be drowned by his hatred and paranoia. Anthony had figuratively swam out into the deep end and saved him from his foolishness. He could not and would not allow the man to slip away so peacefully, but what could he do. What could he possibly accomplish when magic was ineffective on Anthony? The arc in his chest prevented the use of healing magic. The arc was actually saving Anthony and killing him at the same time.
Loki was beginning to feel exhausted. He was already tired and he hadn't even begun to finish his plan. He had so much to accomplish and little time to do it.
The doctor stepped out of the operating room after what felt like hours. Pepper jumped to her feet and went over to the man. Her eyes were about to overflow with tears. The doctor's face remained impassive but he didn't have a demeanor of regret. He finally spoke.
"Your friend is doing well. The surgery was a success but she's going to need a lot of rest and some good friends like you. If you want, you can go in and see her. She still heavily sedated but on a subconscious level I think she'll know you're there." He led Pepper to the room Tony was in. Loki stayed behind for a minute or so and then he finally went. He couldn't act suspicious.
When he arrived, he found that Anthony had already awoken from the operation. He was gently brushing down Nathaniel's black hair and smiling slightly dreamily at Pepper. Loki had to spool his face into something that resembled impassiveness. He had no reasons to feel insecure. Anthony and Pepper had been over for years. As he got closer he realized that Anthony was drugged.
The brown hair woman waved at him lazily and then began to talk. "Hey, L-lo...Pratt. How you been, huh?"
Anthony barely recovered and gave Loki a dopey smile and Pepper could only stifle her laughter at Anthony's current predicament. She doubt if he was in his right mind he be talking to Agent Pratt like an old friend. Tony was on the highest cloud in the sky at the moment but still knew what to say.
"Hello Mister Stark," he said before taking a seat off to the corner of the room. "I'll be your guard for the next couple of hours until you are moved back to Avenger Tower. Miss Potts there is a car waiting to take you back to the Tower."
Pepper looked over to the agent and nodded. She was tired but she knew Tony was in good hands, plus she needed to put Nathaniel in his bassinet to sleep. She went over to Tony and gave him a small kiss on on his forehead and told him to sleep. Tony was oblivious to the kiss but Loki wasn't. After she left Loki sat quietly going over the current events, while he did so Tony had fell asleep from the effect of the drugs. Loki didn't expect Tony to wake up for some hours, so he just watched the man.
Anthony Edward Stark-Odinson had been through hell and back in his life several times but nothing had prepared him for the ups and downs of a relationship. At current he had just opened his eyes to a whitewash ceiling and the annoying sound of a heart monitor. His chest ached horribly, but the pain was more in his back than his chest. His hand automatically went to his chest. The Arc was safe, not that he really needed to check because he wouldn't be able to if it was missing.
"Anthony…" there was the voice of the young agent that he recently realized was his husband. He turned slowly over with the help of strong hands. Tony's vision slowly cleared and he could see the gray eyes that showed way too much concern for a so called stranger. Whatever the doctor's had given him had worn off and now his mind was clear. Tony shrugged his thin covers from his shoulder in an effort to sit up. Loki placed his hand on Tony's shoulder to keep him from getting up. He wasn't even using a fourth of his strength and Tony couldn't move.
"Stay still." Loki said knowing Tony didn't remember the hours before he had fallen asleep.
"Bossy…I'm surprised I'm alive." Tony said lightly chuckling but stopping because it hurt too much. "Where is my kid?"
"Nathaniel is fine. He is with your friend Ms. Potts. Thor and the others are currently fighting off the Jotun that attacked you and the Asgardians. Anth-..Mr. Stark, you should rest." he caught himself. He didn't know if Fury had the room bugged or not but he wasn't taking any chances.
"Oh yeah, that." Tony understood Loki's shift in demeanor. The room could be under surveillance.
Loki moved his chair over to where Tony laid and sat back down. Tony smiled and reached under his pillow grabbing a jamming device Pepper had left him. He pressed the small device to the side of the small table by the bed and it turned on. "There now we can talk."
"How did you even get that when you were unconscious?" Tony smiled at the question asked by the god.
"Pepper slipped it under my pillow when she gave me a kiss. Of course she always keeps one with her." his eyes were a little unfocused but his vision was slowly clearing. The room fell into an uncomfortable silence but was soon broken by Loki.
"We should talk Anthony, about... everything." he said looking over the small woman's form. A bubble of monotonous laughter came forth from her.
"Sorry...this is just a surreal moment between you and I again. You remember when we first started to work together and how much you hated me?"
"I prefer disliked." he said gently rubbing back Tony's brown locks. It was a lot harder than he thought seeing Anthony looking so helpless. The man was usual at the top of his game, never showing weakness. Of course Loki knew that Anthony was a mortal but it didn't stop the thoughts. Anthony was always so strong and it made him believe that his wife or husband was invincible.
"Yeah call it what you want be we both know you didn't very much like me. You tried to kill me a couple of times."
"You could be quite a headache at times." he replied grasping Anthony's hand not really wanting to let go. This was completely out of character but Anthony had legally died at least four times already. It was too much for the god to bear. He already had a load and the thought of losing Anthony made him want to drop everything and leave the earth to defend itself. He knew he couldn't because most of the problem was his fault. Everything was his fault.
"What happened to you in Asgard?" Loki asked very seriously.
"I can't take you serious with that voice. " Tony's said with a slightly shaking voice that didn't sound anything like the strong man he knew. Loki also noticed he avoided the question. "What are you doing with the Comoschron and why do you need my Arc blueprint. Hold on, you're probably opening a huge portal in the sky again, but this time it's much bigger. You need my arc to harness that power because the Comoschron is like the evil stepsister of the Tesseract. It's completely unstable and a bitch."
"Yes, that's what the plan is but the arc is not just for harnessing the power of the Comoschron. It's for the weapon that He is creating. Your arc is flawed though. There are so many flaws that I was led to believe it were intentional." Loki said pushing back Tony's short hair. He had almost lost one of the people he care about most. He had made many mistakes but this one took the cake.
It made him think about his action more than he had in a while. He had tried to leave Tony out of the problem and it caused him many more problems that he hadn't taken the time to think of. He always thought out his plans completely but this one was rushed, simply because Anthony's life was in danger. If he didn't leave him behind he would have died.
"Of course it was deliberate. I never trusted Shield, so I took precautions to keep my inventions safe. You said my arc design was going to be used for a weapon." He sighed deeply as Loki nodded.
"Merchant of Death is going to haunt me forever, even when I'm not trying to make a weapon." He said squeezing the bridge of his nose and then sighing again lightly. Tony was always wary about letting others use his inventions. It was just how little he trusted others, even after all the things he been through, he still had trust issues among other things. Understandably and Loki's actions didn't help him at all.
"Hey could you maybe look normal or something. I know you already look pretty youthful but I don't really want to continue looking at jail bait." Tony said resting his hands on his chest.
"Just concentrate and you can see through it." Loki said watching his expressions.
"You still look blonde to me." Tony mumbled and looked at another spot in the room other than Loki. "Why blonde?"
"They have more fun." Loki said absolutely serious.
Tony couldn't help but laugh knowing that the god was purposely making a joke to lighten the mood. "Thanks."
The silence prevailed again before it was broken, though it was more of a comfortable silence.
"I need to get rid of Dupeur. She is one of His elites. She has become suspicious of me. I will figure a way to do away with her." Loki sounded normal and Tony looked up to see his husband looking normal. Tony wasn't sure if he 'saw' through the magic or if Loki let down his guard, whatever it was Tony was relieved to see the god and without thinking Tony grabbed Loki by his hair that was braided. Tony yanked it playfully a couple of times.
"It's a lot longer. I would laugh at how ridiculous this braid looks on you but I can't. You actually look good." Tony said biting his lip uncharacteristically. It was as if it was a way to hold back his words and it bother Loki how thick the wall between them was. He had erected it and neither he nor Tony knew how to climb the wall. "So the uninteresting brunette is the right hand of whom? A name please."
Loki let out a long sigh that made Tony smile. "His name is Thanos, he is a titan."
Tony let out a loud fit of laughter that was not as humorous as it should have been. "Are we talking about Greek mythology? As if wrapping my head around you and Thor was hard enough."
"No, I am not."
"Good because I can't, I can't deal with another pantheon of gods. So this Thanos was running the whole show from all those years ago." Tony said very insightful.
"Threaten to kill me and destroy Asgard if you didn't help and you thought it would be better if you go and solve the problem yourself. I can only guess what that half ass plan was." He said reaching out and taking Loki's hand to stave off the feeling of emptiness he had. It was just a weird feeling he didn't really like.
"It was not 'half ass' Anthony. It just was not well thought out." He mumbled slightly at the end.
"It was half-ass." Tony said staring at the deep green eyes that regarded him softly.
"Someone was occupying my mind." He said gently smiling at Anthony before the smile fell. The small seemingly female really had almost died, the bandages wrapped tightly around Anthony's chest was proof. The doctors had fixed the problem but Anthony would always have the shrapnel in his heart. There was nothing they could possibly do about that, though as long as he had the arc he was fine. That bothered Loki.
Anthony trusted his machinery but from living on earth so long he learned that machinery failed and if it did then Anthony would die. That wasn't the only thing he thought about. One day Tony would die and the only reason might be age. He would outlive the human and maybe even his child. The thought made him want to scream out in anger. Why did he have to be a god in love with a mortal?
Tony couldn't help himself. Whenever Loki made that face he just knew what the god was thinking. "I'm not going to up and die anytime soon. I mean, at least I hope not. I got like, what, another thirty years. Well you'll probably be done with me around sixty or something."
"Anthony, I don't particularly want to talk about this matter." He said pulling his hand from Tony's. Tony grabbed his hand back and smiled smugly.
"I can't promise you I won't die of old age or in a fight with an enemy but my heart will likely run longer than my body can. My arc is flawless when it comes to that. I won't die so easily." Tony closed the proximity between them and pressed his lips against Loki in a gentle kiss. It didn't take long for Tony to realize that it had been a long time since he kissed his husband, though through no fault of his own.
Loki had not expected Anthony to kiss him, not after what he'd put him through. He hated to admit this, but he really couldn't live without Anthony. The mortal had wiggled into his heart and made a home there. He had only just met his child and of course like any normal parent he loved his child just as much. He had a family. He had a real family and now there was so much that stood between them and happiness, in a sense. If his new plan failed he would lose more than he could ever replace.
Loki hadn't even realized that he had nearly pulled Anthony into his lap, crushing his own face into Anthony's neck. "I'll make it work this time."
Tony could hear how desperate Loki was and he could only grasp at the uniform the god wore. He had no words to soothe him because he never had to deal with this situation. Everything was completely difference under the surface. Loki wasn't trying to kill him but that fact didn't really make up for the stabbing. Loki hadn't really betrayed him but that didn't fix the fact that he lied. There were so many things that need to be cleared but Tony couldn't care less at the moment.
Sooner or later they wouldn't be able to be so close or maybe they'll fail and the world is destroyed. It was clear to Tony that they needed to savor the time they had together because more than likely once the war started there would be no more time for them.
"You're bear hugging me." Tony gasped out and Loki instantly let up his grip. Tony pressed his face into Loki and they sat in the uncomfortable position for a while until the sound of shattering glass ended their moment.
Steve Rogers was in a race to the hospital, chasing after the two escaped Asgardians. The Frost Giant was being dispatched by the Hulk but the other two had escaped and were on their way to the hospital to kill Tony. Thor was using his hammer to sling himself across sky in an effort to keep up with the Asgardians. The thing that bothered Steve was that the Asgardians were fighting Thor without too much trouble.
Black Widow and Hawkeye were headed to the hospital as well but in a Shield helicopter, while the Captain was on the ground in a car. Clint was hanging slightly out of the helicopter shooting at the Asgardians ahead of them. Fortunately, Fury called in the local police force to clear the road toward the hospital. They couldn't allow regular people get in the way.
Steve somehow reached the hospital before the Asgardians and rushed to Tony's room although the nurses tried to stop him but upon seeing the stars and stripes they got out of the way. He took the stairway to Tony's room skipping steps the whole way up. He burst out of the stairway and ran toward Tony's room.
If the men after Tony got to him before he could he didn't think the agent with Tony could take on the so called gods. He reached the room and could hear the sound of glass shattering from a heavy impact. He rushed in and was completely surprise by agent Pratt in action. The young man had thrown one of the Asgardians back out the window and had the other knocked out. Tony was standing off to the side of the bed leaning slightly against the bed.
"Steve, you have great timing." Tony said laughing lightly. There was a heavy sheen of sweat on his skin and he looked a little unfocused. In was in bad shape still.
The agent had an air about him that was completely different from what he was used to. The air was freezing around the man and when he turned his attention to Steve the man had plaster on the fakest smile he'd seen in his life.
"I guess I got a little out of control." The blonde agent joked but the atmosphere around him was still tense. He went over to Tony and closed the back of his hospital gown, holding the cloth together with his hand. Tony looked over his shoulder and rolled his eyes.
Steve didn't say anything but did pick up on the weird atmosphere between the two of them. "Tony, are you okay?"
"Yeah, the kid over here took them both down with the help of a defibrillator." Tony lied easily. Loki turned Tony so his backside was facing the bed. He then went and brought Tony a robe from the closet.
"So, I guess my good friends are still chasing me down."
"Tony what happen on Asgard?" Steve asked and Loki noticed that Tony got a faraway look.
"Nothing…of interest, anyway let's go. I'm tired of this hospital." Tony said shuffling toward the door.
"Tony, you can't just leave. You just had an operation." Steve said becoming worried about whatever Tony was hiding but he didn't dwell on it.
"Yeah, that was great and I feel fine. If I stay here I'll be in a lot more danger. I'm sure there will be more and if I stay innocent lives are on the line. So let go ahead and leave before that happens." Tony saw Loki bring in the wheelchair. He would normally not just sit down but he was actually very tired. "Let's go."
Before Loki could get his hands on the wheelchair, Steve grabbed the handles and started to push Tony. Loki glanced at the soldier but didn't speak. He put on another smile and followed. Tony was snickering and Loki knew why.
"So exactly how are we going to get out of here?" Tony asked.
"Black Widow is waiting for us on the roof." Steve said keeping his eyes on Pratt.
Tony fell asleep on the on the way to headquarter. He was tired and not actually discharged from the hospital but they didn't have time for that. When Tony finally opened his eyes he was looking at Dupeur. The woman looked at him with a smile and Tony knew something was wrong with her. Loki did say the woman was a threat. He slowly sat up straight and looked at who he was leaning on. It was Loki but his attention was on Dupeur. He had a blank face but Tony could tell that the god was angry. Steve's eyes were on Dupeur and so was Clint. Natasha also was watching but she was looking more at Loki's blank face expression than Dupeur's creepy smile.
Tony felt like he was in the middle of a weird staring game where the rules weren't explain all that well. He blinked a couple of time then looked at Steve. "Did I miss something?"
The captain didn't answer instead he continued with his attention on Dupeur. The woman finally broke her eye contact with Tony and turned her attention out the window. No one spoke and Tony really felt the woman made everyone's suspicion rise from her little act.
Once at headquarters Tony was taken to the infirmary. The trained nurses and physical kept an eye on his heart condition and put him on bed rest. Natasha, Clint and Steve met up with Bruce. Then talked over what had happen and their suspicion of Dupeur. Loki was let in because he had earned his place, but he didn't attend the meeting instead he met up with Dupeur on top of the aircraft.
"So I guess I screwed up your plan, frost giant." The woman said pulling at the skin on her face. "I grow tired of this face and I guess I won't have to wait long. They trust you but not as much as they could."
"You've ruin your master's plan, but that is fixable." Loki said looking at the clouds below them. "You were going to kill him weren't you?"
"Of course, he's a factor you didn't see. He could pull you back to their side. You may claim to be heartless but you love that mortal and that brat. I was just going to end that problem." Dupeur ripped off half of her face, underneath the skin was something reminiscent of a Chitauri but not so much. She was some kind of hybrid that Loki didn't find any interest in. He could care less about the origin species.
"I shall meet with the master and alert him of your next move." She turned her back on Loki for a split second and that was all the time the god needed. Loki plunged the hidden dagger into the Chitauri hybrid's heart and twisted it several times as blood gushed from the mouth of the alien.
"You've forgotten who I am haven't you." Loki voice was normal but his appearance that of the façade. "Now you won't forget, will you?"
"Bastard…" her words were distorted by the blood she gargled. Loki pushed her off the side of the aircraft and then turned to see Tony.
"She was a loose end." He said cleaning the dagger quickly then hiding it once more. "You're angry."
"Normally yeah, but she was going to kill Nathaniel. So yeah, not going to condone it but I'm not really angry either."
"Why did you come here?" Loki asked voice returning to its façade as well.
"To help you out, cameras are everywhere up here. I thought you might be caught, so I tinkered with the imaging. The camera sees a blank deck for the next three hours. We should probably get you an alibi for the meeting you're missing and the inevitable fact that Dupeur going to be missing as well. I think I have the perfect idea." Tony said slowly walking to the elevator. Loki followed and was worried about Tony's health.
"We should get you back to the infirmary. I can handle my own alibi."
"No you can't so let's go." Tony said going to his lab. Loki followed wondering what Tony could be planning.
Once they entered into the room he knew. Thor sat at a table eating. "Anthony what do you need?"
"Well dear brother-in-law, I need a favor." Tony said closing the door. "Pratt here has something to tell you and then I'll tell you what I need. Pratt."
Loki gave Tony a quelling look. "Anthony."
"Come on, you promised to trust whoever I trusted." Tony said crossing his arms and giving Loki a knowing look. It was perfectly how Pepper used to do it. "And I trust Thor."
"This is ridiculous! Thor cannot be of any help to you nor I." He said motioning to Thor.
"Yes well, a promise is a promise." Tony said not giving up.
"I feel like I am missing something." Thor said putting down the fork he had and looking at Pratt. He didn't really like the man but he had saved Anthony from danger. Pratt rubbed him the wrong way and especially the way he looked at Anthony. He stood up and went to stand in front of his brother-in-law.
"Thor, I am not going to hurt Anthony because I'm here to protect him. I'm your brother." The way Loki said brother still held a note of anger but it was very settle.
"Loki…" Thor looked like he was piecing together everything. "You are a disgrace! What you've done to Anthony-"
Tony cut off the god by stepping in front of him. "I know you want to punch him among other things but let's stay on the subject at hand. Comoschron, portal and weapon are our main priority. Loki's and I are going to work out relationship kinks later for now, the world comes first."
Thor nodded but still looked at Loki with anger, not that Loki expected anything else.
"First thing's first, alibi for Loki then we'll get to the rest of our problems." Tony said taking a seat and looking between the two men. He felt like he was going to have a problem at some point with two overprotective gods.