After watching the twentieth girl press up against Tony Stark at a televised event he was hosting (or sponsoring) Loki realized that this was his way in – this was his way to destroy the irritating superhero band he had inadvertently nursed into being. Any direct threat only tied them closer together, strengthened the currently still-tenuous bonds of trust and mutual reliance, but what about a threat from within, that had insinuated itself into their midst through their own carelessness and vices.

Through their weak, animal lusts.

Tony Stark was both the inspiration and the obvious target for this. A womanizer by nature, whose appetites were widely known, getting into his bed would be simplicity itself. And, once there, Loki was confident he could make it worth Stark's while to keep him there.

It wouldn't have to be long, just a few weeks at most, just long enough.

Loki grinned as idea after idea flew through his mind. On one hand it was premature to make such plans, but on the other…

Well, it never hurt to be prepared, did it? And it was such an entertaining way to pass the time.

The Maria Stark Foundation provided funding for hundreds of non-profit organizations, through thousands of fundraisers and awareness drives. Tony Stark was involved in fewer than a percent of them, but those that he attended made the others more prestigious, and his notorious unpredictability made every event one he could show up at.

They saved lives and made the world a better place. And that clearly made it worthwhile to dress up in a monkey suit and walk among the wealthy and elite. Loki smiled to himself as he brushed past Stark, disguised as a serving boy, only barely grazing the back of his hand as he talked some rich old man into increasing his donation. It was more than enough for Loki to pull a rush of thoughts, desires, and secrets from Stark's mind.

It wasn't mind-reading per se, that had never been one of Loki's skills. He could take those thoughts, but he himself couldn't understand them. It was his magic that could, and it caught onto the one thing that Loki was currently interested in; Stark's perfect ideal.

He finished his rounds and ducked out as soon as he could, finding a deserted room and letting the power loose over him.

The first thing he thought when it was over was that Stark had decent taste.

Between the short height and the large breasts, the dark hair and olive tanned skin, Loki wasn't entirely sure what race he was, but he was certainly still mortal. Given Stark's breadth of experience and famed imagination, in hindsight Loki couldn't have been sure of that. He found a mirror and looked himself over critically, still liking what he saw. Asian, he decided, probably Japanese. And shorter than Stark himself, which was a new (and rare, Loki thought, sniggering a little) experience.

The temptation to dress in green was easily suppressed. It wouldn't do to be predictable, after all. Instead, Loki chose a low-cut deep blue gown, one that hugged his new curves until it flared out a little to give him the impression of having hips. He adorned himself with silver jewellery, over his ears, neck, and wrist, adding the occasional diamond and sapphire where tastefully appropriate. His new face didn't need much, just a hint of blue over his dark eyes, and he was set to go.

The only problem was the appropriate shoes. Anything above a two-inch heel would make him taller than Stark, which ruined some of Loki's fun. He pouted slightly and scaled down the azure heels to a more sedate height, just enough to accent his calves. He added his final touch – a soft scent, the essence of elven pheromones magically distilled and guaranteed to take layers of inhibitions off even the most controlled libido.


The party was still in full swing when Loki returned to it. He watched Stark glad-hand a few more people, getting gradually more inebriated and louder with every drink he shared with a potential benefactor. Rather than trying to get Stark's attention himself, Loki decided to wait until Stark came to him. The music was fast and getting louder as the DJ lost his inhibitions and indulged himself. It was fortunate for him that the guests were too far gone themselves, most of them, to notice or were enjoying the hard beats and simple melodies that echoed the rhythms of heartbeats, of battle, of giving into wild, passionate abandon.

Something Loki had never been skilled at, but had always been able to fake.

He positioned himself near a group of young up-and-coming businessmen and let himself move. The new curves and jewellery took some getting used to, but Loki had always been innately graceful and confident in his attractiveness. Wearing another, female, body wasn't that much of a change for him to forget that, and his moves and body telegraphed that confidence and grace as he closed his eyes and raised his hands over his head.

Strong hands settled on his hips from behind and Loki's eyes flew open, his head craning to see one of the men moving with him as if he had a right. Loki smiled, cold and sharp, and was unsurprised that all he got in return was a self-assured smirk.

"What's your name?"

The sheer presumption of the man. "Are you familiar with the tale of Rumpelstiltskin?" Loki asked smoothly, pulling away. "You must guess my name in return for any reward."

Unsurprisingly, that wasn't enough to deter Loki's pursuer. "Hey, c'mon, don't be like that…"

Loki raised an eyebrow and was about to retort ("Like what, good sir?") when Stark stepped between them like the hero he was always claiming not to be.

"Problem here?"

Reaching out to touch Stark's arm, like a maiden in distress, Loki just smiled. "Nothing I can't handle, thank you."

Stark smiled back and moved closer, his body language clearly claiming Loki as his now. It was a more subtle gesture than Loki would have expected on Asgard, but the alpha-maleness of it all was certainly something that the two cultures shared.

"Well, if you two are done then, I have some people I want you to meet."

Again, more subtle than in Asgard, but the idea was the same; take the woman, separate her from the other men, assert your dominance. So banal. Loki kept the pleasant smile on his face and went along with it, allowing Stark to place his hand on the small of his back to escort him to the bar.

"Where are these mysterious people?" Loki asked.

Stark grinned. "This is Clive. He's the bartender. Been working for me for… thirteen years! Lucky thirteen…"

Loki smiled, meeting Clive's eyes steadily with his own. "A pleasure, Clive."

Clive snapped his gaping jaw shut and forced a pleasant, professional smile on his own face. "The pleasure's all mine. What can I get you?"

"Oh, I think I have everything I want," Loki all but purred, leaning into Stark's embrace, pressing against his side. "Except, perhaps, a little privacy?"

Stark's appreciative gaze was everything Loki had hoped it might be. He hadn't even had to make up a false name, and already Stark was falling into his hands. While good intelligence was something to be proud of, Loki was a little disappointed that everything was moving so smoothly, so predictably. The lack of challenge was making him bored, and he felt as though his careful preparations had been somewhat overkill.

"If it's privacy you want," Stark offered, barely managing to keep his eyes above Loki's cleavage, "there are several rooms available to my guests." He grinned, his face lighting up with his infamous roguish charm. "Keeps them from messing up my parents' old room."

Loki turned to him, pressing his breast up against Stark's arm. "Any… suggestions?"

"Ah, well." Stark's smile took on a nostalgic edge. "Pepper's always been fond of the old accounting room, so I don't recommend that. She's not very romantic unless you pressure her into romance." He sighed. "Seriously, I have to slip love poetry into progress reports and barefooted champagne drinking into post-construction feasibility assessments."

"That sounds frustrating," Loki said, trying to bring Stark back on track. He was supposed to be seducing Loki, not talking about his secretary.

"Nah, it's cute." Stark grinned. "She shoulda been here when that guy was macking on you. She would've been way smoother. I wonder where she is. Hey, Clive? Seen my girl around here?"

Clive looked between Loki and Stark, like a rabbit caught in two opposing wolves' gazes. "Ah, I believe Ms. Potts went downstairs to receive Mr. Rogers."

"Great!" Stark grabbed Loki's wrist. "C'mon, you should meet her. Hey, I almost forgot – what's your name?"

Loki stared at him, wondering when, exactly, his plan had gone from working too well to not working at all. Clive, clearly taking pity on him, leaned closer to whisper to Loki just outside of Stark's hearing.

"He's kinda in love with Ms. Potts, and when he's in a relationship, he's totally loyal." Clive shrugged. "Sorry."

Loki pulled his arm out of Stark's grip with more strength than his form would have seemed to posses. "I'm not." He stormed off, irritated at how poorly he'd underestimated his mark, annoyed at his failure, and embarrassed at his ungraceful retreat.

Also, thanks to the pheromones, he had half the room watching him, and nearly a dozen men break off their conversations to follow him. The moment he was in the hallway, alone, he stripped off his disguise and disappeared.

At least the security guards would have something to talk about.