Hey all! I've been updating more frequently on my AO3 account, which you can find here: /users/TheGreatCatsby/works
Otherwise, I'm in the process of updating everything on this account.
I've decided to make this series into one story. Which is why the previous Keep Your Enemies Close story was moved to a chapter in this one, since I can't make series here like I can on AO3.
For my Tumblr, you can go here for random bloggy fandom stuff.
On the list of "Things I Don't Want to Do Today" getting kidnapped ranked very high. It ranked so high, in fact, that it wasn't even on the list because such a situation was unthinkable. Tony Stark had made a vow never to get kidnapped after the first time, because anyone who wanted to kidnap Tony Stark probably had less than good intentions.
One might even go so far as to call those individuals criminals.
This particular kidnapping happened right when Tony was moonlighting as Iron Man alongside the Avengers, fighting a group of Doombots set loose on New York City. NYC seemed to be a favorite target of Doctor Doom, and every other villain who wanted their evil schemes to be foiled in a decidedly public manner. Tony didn't mind this so much; it meant he never had to stray far from the tower he called home, though it did mean that insurance rates for said tower went up. But he was rich. Sacrifices could be made.
Tony didn't remember much. He remembered one of the Doombots rudely slamming into his suit from the back, causing him to hurdle into a building, through glass windows, and tumble to a stop in the middle of an office, where some very shocked workers ran away. Then something hit him on the back of the head, and—silence.
Tony knew he was kidnapped when he woke up because his suit was off and his hands were tied behind his back. Pepper wouldn't do that unless she were really pissed off at him, and he didn't remember doing anything completely terrible lately, so he could only deduce that the next logical answer would be a kidnapping. But by whom? And for what?
The room was dark, and cold. The metal that Tony leaned against was cold. The floor was made of concrete and wasn't self-heating so that felt like sitting on a block of ice.
From the corner came a rustling sound, and Tony thought, good, someone else, maybe we can form a plan and escape! Then his mind recoiled, and he remembered Yinsen, and thought, maybe not. He couldn't get close to those who had been kidnapped. They would be used against him.
And then the person spoke. "Awake. Finally."
Tony's insides nearly ran outside.
That was Loki's voice.
Loki—motherfucking Thor's brother, the motherfucking God of Motherfucking Mischief (Tony had been spending too much time with Fury) who nearly destroyed the whole of New York and who threw Tony Stark out a goddamn window.
Tony's eyes adjusted to the dark enough to confirm that yes, in fact, the motherfucker across the (rather small, now that he could see) cell, dressed in the same Asgardian armor as when he came, minus the gold and the helmet, was Loki. And he was smirking.
"What," Tony said, "the fuck are you doing here?"
"Same as you, I suppose," Loki said, sounding bored. "Waiting to find out what happens next."
Tony rolled his eyes. Of course Loki wouldn't have answers. That was like expecting a dog to talk.
"Do you know who kidnapped us?"
"I suspect we will find out," Loki said.
Tony sighed. He noticed that Loki's hands were bound—or at least, they looked bound—behind his back as well. And then Tony remembered what should have happened to Loki a long time ago—
"Aren't you supposed to be in Asgard?"
Loki grinned wide, showing all his teeth. "Yes."
Tony wished, more than anything, that he had his suit so he could call Fury and get Loki the fuck out of there.
Instead he couldn't do anything but glare at Loki, who looked strangely satisfied by this, and then stare awkwardly at the ground while trying to come up with a plan that allowed his captors to kill Loki while he, Stark, escaped safe and sound and preferably with everything attached.
Then the door opened, and a guard stepped in.
He was human. That was good. Tony could deduce from this, soundly, that he was on Earth and no super weird shit was going to happen.
The guard said something in German to Loki, who glared at him. Tony wondered if Norse gods spoke German. Apparently, they could speak English well enough, and didn't speak…whatever Norse god aliens from another planet spoke.
Loki stood up, after a long moment. Apparently he understood.
The guard took a step forward.
And everything went to hell.
Loki's suddenly free hands slammed the guard into the wall with an audible crack that had Tony wincing, and he was so focused on the suddenness of everything that he forgot that the door was open, and he could escape.
"Who sent you?" Loki hissed to the guard.
The guard muttered something in German. It didn't seem to make Loki happy, because seconds later there were daggers in his hands where there were none before.
"I will repeat, and you will answer if you value your life, who sent you?"
The guard yelled.
Loki did something very nasty with the daggers, and Tony had to look away for fear of being sick. Suffice it to say, that guard had ceased to live, not with a bang, but with a gurgle. A sickening, sickening gurgle.
Then a thud.
"You can open your eyes," Loki said.
Tony didn't trust him, but he opened his eyes anyway because he thought seeing might be useful for now.
The guard lay on the ground in a pool of his own blood, and more blood had slicked down the wall. Loki gripped one dagger in his hand and vanished the other and yeah, that wasn't strange at all.
Then more guards started rushing into the room. Loki managed to stab one more before two grabbed him and pushed him back into the wall. Tony didn't put up much of a fight, still too dazed, as two guards grabbed him by the shoulders and dragged him away from the dead guard and the blood.
"Clean this up," one of the men shouted, with a German accent, and two others left the room. "And start on him." He gestured to Loki, and four guards dragged him out.
Leaving Tony with the man who apparently was the leader, the two guards holding him, and the corpse of some other man who happened to draw the short straw that day.
"So," Tony said, slow and awkward. "What am I doing here, anyway?"
The man grinned. Tony committed his image to memory, because that sort of thing might be useful. He had blond hair and pale skin, and looked only slightly older that Tony, and he wore a green military uniform with a band around his arm, which Tony couldn't make out. His eyes were a startling blue. He could have been Steve Rogers if Steve Rogers were older and evil.
"You will find out, in time," he said.
Goddamn cryptic evil men.
"Who are you?" Tony asked.
"I am Kolman," the man said. "And that is all the information you shall get out of me."
"Where are we?" Tony asked.
Kolman simply ignored him and watched as two of the guards re-entered and began cleaning up the corpse of their colleague, and the blood left behind.
Tony had a terrible feeling about all of this. Nothing about being imprisoned by German soldiers alongside Loki, of all people, would end well.
The guards threw Loki into the room three hours later. Loki coughed and spit out something that looked suspiciously like blood, and then said, "Hydra is experimenting."
"Is that code for something?" Tony asked. He wanted to ask what they'd done to Loki. Not out of concern. He was wondering if they would do the same to him.
Loki gave him the sort of disdainful look usually reserved for when Thor was being particularly dense. "Hydra is the organization who captured us."
Tony gasped. "Oh, I've heard of them." They were the people who tried to make their own super-soldier serum, who messed with the Tesseract the first time. "Wait, but I thought they were destroyed. Or something."
"That would explain why you're sitting in their holding cells."
Tony wanted to smack him. "What did they want?"
"Magic." Loki licked his lips. "They want to know how it works, how they can make it work with their science, and they plan to use you to build the technology to integrate such magic."
"That can't be done," Tony breathed. It sounded too good to be true. He'd love to get his hands on information like that.
"It is being done as we speak," Loki said. "Doctor Doom has tried to fuse magic and science as one in his creations. Hydra cannot, understandably, kidnap and hold hostage a leader of a country, so they have made due with me instead."
"Made due?" Tony repeated. "You're a sorcerer! You're an expert!"
"I am also less than agreeable," Loki said. "I have other places to be, and I care little for the fate of these mortals. I would burn this place to the ground if I could."
Tony frowned. Loki would, he knew that. He'd been thrown out a window. Loki hadn't thought twice about that overreaction, so why hadn't he burned down this place? Unless…
"Why can't you?"
Loki's expression twisted in displeasure. It was oddly satisfying, seeing him upset over something beyond his control. And Tony knew it was beyond his control before he even said anything.
"Hydra has been experimenting with data based off the readings SHIELD gained from our last encounter," Loki said, "and have been using it to dampen my magic. It does not erase it completely, as you saw—"
"Ah, yes, the bloodbath with the disappearing daggers."
"—but it does limit certain abilities, such as the ability to teleport, and to use large amounts of my magic," Loki continued. "I could kill the guards but I would have to kill all of them. I would have to find my way out of the building, because this technology blankets the whole building, not just this cell. I could try to do all of this now, but I might fail. I must gain more information."
"Their weaknesses," Loki said. "Rather like I gained yours."
"You lost that battle," Tony pointed out. "Or do you not remember when the Hulk smashed you into the floor of my beautiful new tower?"
"You are aware of the saying where one loses the battle but wins the war, yes?" Loki asked.
Tony frowned. That was a saying he'd rather forget, if only because it would mean that Loki would win this particular battle, and he was tired and hungry and didn't really want to deal with any of this right now.
"I am curious," Loki continued, "because knowing how to combine magic and technology can be…useful."
"No," Tony said. He hadn't really meant to say that out loud, it just sort of came out. What he really wanted to do was run screaming from the room and someone destroy Loki along with everything else, because damn it, Loki was going to gain something from this imprisonment that he'd use to bite the Avengers in the ass (collectively) later and Tony couldn't abide by that.
In theory. In practice he would have to deal, because he couldn't really do anything from this prison.
If there was a way to erase Loki's memory, he would.
Loki leaned against the wall. He looked smug.
Tony wanted to hit something. He wondered how long it would take for Loki to fully grasp their technology. He wondered if there would be Lokibots running around Manhattan next time.
"I hate you," Tony said, just because it was too quiet.
Loki watched him from the other side of the cell. "The feeling is entirely mutual."
Three days later the guards had taken Loki in and out of the cell, dragging him out while he fought tooth and nail and killed a few more guards in the process, and tossing him back in like an overly used rag doll. Tony was grateful that they weren't doing much with him, and he wanted to keep it that way. The most the guards paid him any mind was when they gave him stale bread and cold water, and they barely even looked at him.
In the back of his head, he wondered how long it would take for the Avengers to show up. They were slacking.
Loki looked worse for wear every time he ended up back in the cell, pale and bleeding and sometimes even unconscious. Tony didn't want to feel sorry for him because, well, Loki had kind of sort of definitely destroyed half of New York city and killed hundreds of people. Because he wanted to.
They didn't talk, mostly because Tony didn't want to form any sort of connection with Thor's wayward brother, and because Loki looked like a feral cat who would scratch up his face if he so much as breathed wrong.
(That might have been an exaggeration, but days stuck in a cell does that to people. Tony tended to think of Loki in Bruce's terms—a bag of cats—except all the cats were feral and large and were actually probably tigers. Magical tigers. That wouldn't be out of the ordinary at all.)
"You're a bag of cats, you know that?" Tony said, just to break the silence. Because even if Tony didn't want to talk to Loki, he could only go so long without talking at all.
Loki glared at him. He was curled against the opposite wall. Like a cat.
"I am not a bag of cats," he said.
"Not your best comeback," Tony pointed out, "but I'm willing to let it slide if you can figure out how to get me home in one piece."
"Tesseract weapons," Loki said.
Tony stared at him.
There was no way he'd just said—
"Tesseract weapons," Loki repeated.
"Science and magic," Loki explained, sounding like he was talking to a child. "Weaponry powered by the Tesseract. They have it, here, Hydra, rather like your SHIELD had it on their aircraft. They plan to use it. Much more powerful than imbuing technology with simple magic."
"But the Tesseract is in Asgard," Tony said. Then he thought about it. Loki was supposed to be in Asgard, too. "Isn't it?"
"For now." Loki looked as though he was planning something. Tony didn't want to think about it. Then he remembered that he should be protecting the planet, and as a result he had to think about it.
"What are you planning?" he asked.
"It would hardly be a good plan if I told you," Loki said, stretching. Bones popped, sickeningly, but Loki didn't seem to mind this as much as Tony minded it, which was a lot. "Suffice it to say I simply find myself in need of good weaponry with which to fight a…very special kind of battle."
"And you think Hydra's weaponry is something you can use?"
"I think Hydra's weaponry is a good idea, and something I can vastly improve upon."
Tony watched him. He really wanted a drink. Or two. Or ten. Also a different cell mate. Also to not be in this cell.
"When you stare into the abyss the abyss stares back," Loki said, suddenly. Tony realized that they were, effectively, staring at each other, and he looked away, because he definitely didn't want to see what was in Loki's eyes, now, or ever.
He also didn't want to think about those words, and what they meant, for either one of them.
Two days of uncomfortable silence after Loki's strange abyss insight, Tony found himself alone in the cell when the door swung open, and in the place of the guards stood Loki himself, clutching two knives, leather torn up, and looking like something out of a horror film.
In other words, there was blood. Everywhere. Tony didn't want to think about what those daggers had done, and what they were about to do to him.
"You know, Loki, I was a good cell-mate, I think. Didn't talk too much, didn't come home at two in the morning drunk off my ass with a girl hanging off my arm-"
"Silence," Loki growled. "Do you want to escape this prison or not?"
That shut him up. "Escape? What? You're not going to like cut my body up with scary cookie cutters and then feed me to the cats in your head?"
Loki frowned at him. "Your mind is strange," he said after a moment. "But no, I have decided to keep you alive. You have use."
"Fuck." Tony scrambled to his feet, then swayed a bit because his feet hadn't been used in a few days, and they weren't happy with him. Everything was cold and he felt surprisingly tired.
Still, he staggered over to Loki in what had to be the most pathetic display of escape ever. If Loki thought it was pathetic, he didn't say anything. He just gave Tony a burning look of disapproval, with a side of "pathetic weak mortal" that seemed to be ten times worse.
It seemed that Loki, in a burst of amazing foresight, had killed all of Hydra's personnel before freeing Tony from the cell. In the same way a pet owner is thankful when their dog brings them a dead squirrel as a gift, Tony was thankful to Loki for taking care of everyone before they left. How…thoughtful.
They ended up outside, where Tony realized, a bit late, that his suit was still inside.
"I destroyed it," Loki said.
Loki shrugged. "You should have no trouble building a new one."
"Fuck you." Tony looked up at the sky. Then around. They were in the middle of a forest. He wished Hydra had put themselves in a city. "What the hell do we do now?"
Loki grabbed his arm, and Tony didn't even have time to react before everything disappeared, and the ground beneath his feet was no longer there, and he kind of couldn't breathe, and that was completely normal and then he slammed into the hard floor and that was also completely normal and when he opened his eyes—
He was on the top floor of his tower.
"Damn," he breathed. Because what he'd give to be able to teleport and Loki did it without even thinking. Across half the world. Which was cool and terrifying at the same time.
"I believe this is where you live," Loki said, smirking and looking at the huge window which he'd thrown Tony through. Tony stood up and leaned against the bar. He definitely wasn't going to tempt Loki to do that again. He probably would, too. Just because it was there.
"It is. What now?"
Loki gave him an alien look, as though he could not comprehend what Tony meant, what language he even spoke. "Is there supposed to be anything else?"
"I mean, we spent a week in prison together, in a cell, and, you know, you helped me escape and you kind of took the brunt of Hydra's treatment for me and, I don't know, that sort of experience seems to deem something extra, like maybe—"
He was talking to much. He realized that he'd wasted time. What SHIELD wouldn't give to have Loki to themselves, to find out his secrets, to bait him to their side even. And Tony had wasted his time with Loki sleeping and making stupid comments.
He was a bad SHIELD agent. Which was why, incidentally, he wasn't a SHIELD agent.
Loki flicked his wrist. "Goodbye, Stark," he said, and then disappeared.
"Sir," JARVIS' voice intoned from above, "your fellow teammates are incoming."
"Incoming," Tony repeated, dazed. Loki had just disappeared. Like it was easy. "Wait—where were they?"
"En route to Germany, where they believed you were being held."
Tony frowned. His teammates didn't know Loki was with him, likely. Debriefing would take a long, long time. He wondered if it would be easier to pretend that he was alone.
He turned to the bar, thinking about a drink, and saw something there that was most definitely not alcohol. Tony blinked. His eyes weren't horribly messed up. Resting atop the bar was a jagged silver dagger with a deep green, almost dark enough to be black, hilt.
Tony picked the dagger up. As far as parting gifts went, this was actually pretty awesome, but for some reason he wasn't sure awesome was what Loki had in mind when he left it.
"JARVIS," Tony said, "I'm going to need to spend some time in the labs. Turn everything on. I've got a lot of work to do."
Dagger in hand (and wasn't that a scary thought, Tony with a dagger), Tony went off to lock himself in the labs until the rest of his team arrived. He was fairly certain that Loki meant more than "goodbye" when he'd left the dagger behind, and ever the scientist, Tony wanted to find out what it was.