A/N: Written for SSfrostiron's contest. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Avengers or the picture.
One moment, Anthony Stark stares back rebelliously, the next, he is Loki's. What little resistance remains is repressed in a matter of hours. The military is trashed and scattered as if they were merely kindergarten kids playing war. The leader—president, they call him—is but a puppet now, nodding eagerly to every word that slides off Loki's tongue.
Giving orders is tedious, but even the sceptre's powers are not limitless; complete understanding is beyond what it can guarantee. They merely lay down a path to be followed; Loki instructs them to walk.
Through it all, Iron Man remains an ever-present shadow at his side, observing. Not quite in the same way the archer was, only ever in the state of alertness and ready to protect his 'boss.' No. Stark, too, observes, but he observes, and remembers, and thinks, turns thoughts over in his head, because that's what he does. Loki understands. His mind works in much the same manner. Though, perhaps, not in the moment.
He is tired, now, unable to decide whether it's the pleasant kind of fatigue that comes after a deed well done, or the exhausting kind which is wont to appear when there is yet so much to be accomplished.
"Come," he says when there are no more orders to give. "We're going."
"Home?" Stark asks, and Loki lets a mirthless chuckle escape his lips. Yes. The tower. The mortal's home.
"No," is what he says out loud, for that is the truth; he has no home, anymore.
Later, when they're standing in the lounge room of Stark Tower, the man doesn't comment. A part of Loki likes to think he understands, that it is not only the sceptre's power at work.
He slumps onto the sofa with a sigh. His eyelids close. Soft pain throbs in the back of his head, and he leans back against the backrest, letting his body sag and relax as much as layer upon layer of stiff leather will allow. In the armour, he can never be completely comfortable
It is, perhaps, for the best.
Loki forces his eyelids to part. Stark is standing at his side, a glass of golden liquid in his hands.
Loki accepts it without a word and takes a sip. The liquor leaves a pleasant burn in his mouth.
"Sit," he instructs, eyes indicating the other couch. The command is immediately obeyed. It is not so hard to listen to him, after all, is it?
"There are other countries, sir," Stark suddenly says.
Loki sips his drink. "They will fall."
"They will be organising. The NATO. The EU. China. Russia."
"They will fall," he repeats. "In time. If I am given enough thereof."
Starks cocks his head. "Is there a limit?" he asks.
The arched never asked questions.
Loki doesn't reply.
Later, he lets Stark remove his armour piece by piece until he left in nothing but his pants and a thin black tunic, ignoring the fact he could have achieved the same result with a simple gesture of his hand.
Canada falls, next. He postpones dealing with Latin America and focuses on China instead. Not many Chitauri accompany him. The portal is closed, but this is all he needs—a promise that, should the need arise, he has the means to summon an army greater than any Midgard—Earth, Stark always says Earth—has ever seen.
The Tesseract is safely hidden in his pocket of in-between space. It is a different game he is playing, now. Only men in high places matter, men with power, money, and influence. Stark points his finger, Loki follows the directions with the sceptre.
They work well together.
After China comes Russia, and then the heart of European Union, the parliament in Brussels. There is still resistance, spreading with every hour, it seems, and Loki doesn't understand. They talk of murder, slaughter even, when only a few hundred people have died. Stark insisted refraining from killing would smother the rebellion, and Loki believed. He still does, almost blindly. Because of the sceptre, naturally. But there is also something in the mortal's eyes that makes Loki ponder the definition of belief and trust.
Perhaps, the sceptre is not the only reason he believes.
Perhaps, there is something more.
Something that makes him want to believe.
He is always tired.
Days are too short for everything that needs to be done, yet they seem too long. Nights equally so. He barely sleeps, haunted by the ticking of a clock that becomes even louder when the world's endless song quiets down for a few hours.
Still, he lies in the dark, willing himself to rest. The first few times, he is alone. On the fourth night, the door moves. Stark slips through the opening, veiled in shadows. The mattress dips under his weight.
"You need to sleep, sir," he says.
Loki shrugs. For some reason, he can't quite find the strength to speak past the knot that's formed in his throat.
"Is there anything you want me to do, sir?"
The archer never asked. The archer never had any life in his eyes. The archer never sought him out like this.
"Don't call me 'sir.'"
His voice almost remains even. Then, ignoring the mortal, he rolls onto his stomach, forehead coming to rest on his forearms.
He starts when fingers begin carding through his hair, but he allows it. It's only Stark.
Stark can't hurt him.
Loki closes his eyes.
After that, Stark is always there. Sometimes, they talk. Loki complains and Stark listens, and then he complains, too, about people, about the world, because Loki allows it. Wants it, even. And he reveals secrets that would never see the light of day in any other circumstances, not without the security the sceptre offers him. He is in control, he can afford to be weak. If Stark is about to slip out of his grip, he can kill him.
Will, when the time comes.
On day six, Stark becomes Tony.
Loki is not afraid. Clearly not. A little nervous, perhaps, because this needs to be done, Earth needs to be conquered, and it has to be fast enough. He will not be stopped before they all bow to him. This time, he will triumph.
Of course he is not afraid.
But even Tony's presence is not enough to make him fall asleep, anymore.
Victory is so close he can almost taste it when rebels attack Stark Tower. It's nothing he can't handle, but he is forced to kill. The act itself is of no importance. It is Tony's eyes that hurt him, those unnaturally blue eyes that should not be able to direct judgement and disappointment at him. They should be blank and ought not to have the power to inflict pain.
Loki does something so incredibly human it almost makes him laugh.
He locks himself in the bathroom and cries.
In two weeks, politicians and billionaires are marching to his fife. The resistance still needs to be repressed, but Tony says not to worry. Once again, Loki believes. He is too tired, has gone far too long without eating properly, to protest against having some of the fear lifted off his shoulders.
Tony says Earth is already his.
Loki can't find the voice to answer.
The sun is just about to kiss the horizon when Loki's eyes snap open.
Something shifts in the air.
His heart drops, but he grips the sceptre and squares his shoulders. He's been waiting for this since he first set foot on Earth. Now, they're here, and fighting won't change anything; he is not stupid enough to let anyone convince him otherwise.
Tony follows him to the terrace. A crescent of golden armours blocks the view on the city.
Asgard's finest, here to stop him.
They cannot. He's already won. The grim expressions on their faces won't move him. They are mad because he beat them, taken over something they are supposed to be protecting, and even if they drag him to his cell in chains, they cannot take this victory from him. He proved he could do it. It matters not if they rip Earth out of his grip, now.
There is only one thing left to be done.
Rising the sceptre, he turns to Tony. The man dies here, so he decided. He knows too much. Loki can't afford to let him live.
The sceptre begins to glow. Then, Loki's gaze finds those blue eyes, and suddenly he finds himself wishing with every fibre of his being that they were brown.
That they had always been brown.
The sceptre clatters to the floor.
He offers no resistance when Odin binds his hands. But when a force he is all too familiar with grabs his body and tears him from Earth, he can't breathe anymore.
He may have conquered Earth, but he hasn't truly won anything.
He's only lost something that was never really his.
A/N: Please review. And if you liked it, please go to SSfrostiron's tumblr and vote for my fic (the voting stops at July 23) ;)