Authors note: This is the second installment of my Frostiron series. If you haven't already, Please read "The Breathless fall" first. I promise it is worth it! And everything will make so much more sense if you do!
Disclaimer: This story takes place after Iron man 3 and the avengers. I do not own any marvel characters or their movie interpretations.
"This is for Tony, you sick bastard."
Tony reaches a feeble hand up, trying to explain to Natasha, but she doesn't see him. She shoots and Loki is thrown to the side. Steve is beside him in an instant, wrenching his reactor from Loki's hands.
"Hold on Tony!" Steve fumbles with the device and reaches in his chest for the base plate. He manages to get it re-connected and Tony is flooded with energy. He yells, then screams as the power builds up in his body, too much for him to handle in his current state. His fingers dig into Steve's arm and the Captain winces.
"Tony, whats wrong? Why-"
"Loki!" Tony gasps as the darkness of unconsciousness creeps up on him.
"Its ok, he wont hurt you anymore. You're safe."
Tony can hear Loki pleading, trying to reason with his brother. There is a grunt of pain from Loki, and Tony watches helplessly as Thor punches him, rendering Loki unconscious.
Tony moans in frustration, and the Black widow starts yelling at him.
"Stark, you stay with us!"
But he can't.
The world spins around him and he can feel himself being placed on a stretcher. Something heavy covers him, and he fades in and out of consciousness on the journey up the stairs.
Tony loses all sense of surroundings and his mind fills in the unknown world around him with something familiar.
He imagines his own bed, Loki sitting on the edge looking down on him. He fumbles to reach Loki's outstretched hand, but his is caught under the sheets. "Hey" He murmurs, "I'm so glad you're ok..."
Loki smiles and holds his hand.
His mirage flickers for a moment, and it is Steve who is sitting across from him, not Loki.
he calls his name over and over until he fades into nothingness.
Something bright is shining in his eyes. He Jerks his head away, but the light follows him.
"Mr. Stark, please stay still."
Tony twists his head and reflexively takes a blind grab at the annoying light. His hand closes over someones arm and he awakes with a jolt.
A slender built woman is standing over him with a flashlight in her hand. Her kind brown eyes show concern, and more than a little stubbornness. A piece of her dark hair falls out of her pony tail, and she blushes through her pale skin.
"Hngggg..." Tony groans. "Where am I... who are you?"
She speaks to him as if he was a frighted child. "Mr. Stark, my name is Elizabeth Bellamy. I'm the chief medical officer here. You are in a S.H.I.E.L.D hospital wing."
"Shit! Where is Loki? I have to get to him before someone kills him!" Tony scrambles to stand up but the Doctor pushes him down.
"Listen, you've just come out of surgery, I need you to lie still!" Her tiny hands grasp his shoulders and hold him to the bed.
Tony struggles, but he is too weak to put up a decent fight.
"God-damn it let me go! You don't understand, he-"
"He what, Stark?" Natasha's icy voice seeps from the door of his hospital room. She holds the door open and a nurse wheels in a cart with several boxes on it.
"You tell me where he is, right now!" Tony pushes the Dr. Bellamy to the side and glares at Natasha with all the fury and contempt he can mange. "If you so much as gave him a single cut, I will make you regret it for the rest of your life."
He watches the nurse move the cart to his bedside table and begin to unpack several swabs and needles.
"What the hell is this?" he growls.
"Standard procedure. You were held captive by Loki for over a week. We need to collect evidence before it disintegrates." Tony follows her eyes over to the box closest to him and he manages to make out the words:
"Get out." Tony seethes.
"Stark, we're not going anywhere until-"
Tony reaches for a lamp on his bedside table and flings it at Natasha. She quickly ducks and the lamp explodes against the window, showering her with glass.
"I SAID GET OUT!" He screams.
Natasha's eyes fill with venom. "Restrain him."
"The fuck you will!" Tony spits.
"Ma'am, I wont do this without his consent!" Dr. Bellamy glowers, matching the widow's deadly stare.
"Then leave. I'll do it." Natasha barks.
"No." the Doctor stands on the tips of her toes, staring defiantly into the Black widow's eyes.
"Your are disobeying a direct order-" Natasha starts.
"I am Chief medical officer in this station, and I have the authority to out-rank anyone in cases of medical turmoil. For the well being of my patient, I am going to have to ask you to leave." The angry Doctor finishes her speech, just mere inches from widow's face.
Tony has never seen the Black widow back down, ever. He watches in a mixture of awe and fury as this tiny woman takes on the mood of a mother bear protecting her young. "Am I going to have to call security... Ma'am?" she finishes, spiting the last word.
"No."She hisses. "You deal with him then." and with that Natasha spins on her heels and deliberately crunches a large piece of glass under her feet as she walks out. The nurse calmly takes her tray back and wheels it out the door, Leaving Tony alone with the doctor.
Tony watches the little brunette deflate with a sigh as Natasha leaves. "I hate doing that."
"It made my day." Tony admits.
He takes the Doctor's hand in his own and takes a deep breath. "Listen I'm going to sound crazy, but I'm not. Loki wasn't the one who did all this to me." He gestures to the cast on his leg, and the cuts and bruises all over his body. "He actually saved me. More than once, he..." Tony hesitates and swallows the lump building in his throat. "Loki and I were held captive together, and without him I would never have made it out alive. This isn't Stockholm syndrome, and I swear I'm not brainwashed." He pulls down his eyelids to show her how clear his eyes are.
"Please... just tell me where he is."
The Dr. Bellamy hesitates and Tony watches her chew her lip.
"Alright, I believe you. But you didn't find this out from me." She leans in and whispers in his ear. "I've checked him out myself, but he is refusing any sort of medical treatment. He's locked in a cell on level thirty seven."
"How badly is he hurt?" Tony's chest tightens like a vice, bracing himself for the news.
"The bullet wound in his shoulder has stopped bleeding, and he holds his head like he has the mother of all migraines."
Tony hardens his heart and asks what he's been dreading most. "Have they... done anything to him?"
He carefully watches the doctors face, and fear creeps into him when he catches a flicker in her eyes. "Agent Romanoff went in a few hours ago. I'm afraid I don't know what went on."
Tony's heart stops for a moment. "I need him." he pulls on the doctor's lapels. "I need to see if he's ok."
"Mr Stark, I can't move you yet, and even If I could get you past thirty seven floors of S.H.I.E.L.D personnel without anyone noticing, what would you do?"
"Talk to him. Talk to fury. I have to get him out of here, he cant handle being locked up again." Tony states, his voice resolute.
"Look, I'll see what I can do ok?" Dr. Bellamy replies, and hands him her prescription pad and pen from her coat pocket. "Here, write something down on this, and I'll slip it to him, alright?" She winks at him and places a finger over her lips.
Tony hesitates and quickly scrawls down a note.
Loki, I'm ok, you got the reactor to me in time. It's working great.
I know what you're thinking and stop it,
don't beat yourself up about what happened in the tower, it wasn't your fault.
P.S. I'll find a way to fix everything. Please be safe.
P.P.S Trust me.
He signs his name with a flourish. The doctor has turned her back to him, and in a moment of rare sentimentality, he kisses the paper before folding it up.
"Here." Tony pokes the doctor with the note and she turns around to take it. Tony watches as she places it in her lab coat pocket, and she takes back the pen and pad of paper. "Thank you for understanding."
"Its alright Mr Stark... Oh! Before I forget, Miss Potts is out in the waiting room. Do you feel well enough for a visit?"
Tony groans. "Send her in, I'd better get this over with."
"I'll send for someone to clean this up too." The doctor says and skips over a pile of broken glass. "Nice throw by the way."
Tony grins at her as she leaves.
Within minutes he can hear the familiar tip-tap of Pepper's high heels echo down the corridor. There is a tiny knock at the door, and Tony calls out to her.
"Come in, but watch your feet Pep."
He watches the door open slowly and he notices right away that he's made her cry. Again. She sniffles and her breath catches as she speaks. "Tony! What happened in here?" She balances her way across the glass and sits on the edge of his bed.
"Natasha dodged the lamp."
"You threw a lamp at her?!" Pepper's eyes go wide and she throws up a hand in exasperation. "Why on earth did you do that Tony?"
"Because she deserved it." He retorts, wanting Pepper to take his side.
"Oh my god, you are such a child." She says hanging her head in her hands.
"Am not." He volleys back.
"You most certainly are!" she hits him playfully on the shoulder making him wince.
"Ouch, man in pain over here. No hitting allowed." He rubs his arm.
At his admission of pain, Pepper bursts into tears and takes him in a crushing bear-hug.
"Ack, not so hard Pepper!" This only makes her sob harder and he wraps his sore arm around her heaving back.
She whines into his shirt, and hugs him tighter.
"Aww Pep. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it." He rubs her back in a circle, trying to stem the flow of tears that is soaking into his hospital gown.
"How much trouble am I in?" he asks.
Pepper mumbles something angrily against his chest. He lifts up her head with his hands and she glares at him through her teary eyes.
"A lot!" she pouts and goes right back to venting her emotions.
Tony cradles her in his arms and gently rocks her back and forth.
"Does this mean my party privileges are revoked?"
"Do I have to attend that Henry V play you keep pestering me about?"
"The blue tux or the black one?"
"Am I allowed to leave your side anytime in the next twenty four hours?"
"Can I switch my place with Steve?"
"Will you forgive me?"
Pepper finally takes in a shuddering breath and stares up at him.
"Your makeup is running." he says helpfully.
She sniffs and wipes her eyes with her hands. "Well... You have a beard!"
"I have a beard? That's all you have?" he asks, eyebrow raised.
"Well you do!" She says with a small smile and pokes him in the chin.
Tony sighs. "Feel better now?"
"A little." Pepper sits up on the bed, takes a tissue from his beside table and dabs her eyes.
She composes herself before she speaks again. "Really though Tony, are you ok?"
Tony won't burden her with any more heartache than he's already caused. "Yes Pep, I'm ok now." He lies.
As long as Loki is confined he will not be ok. He'll never be ok. He's felt his partner's pain and lived through his memories of unimaginable torments and horrors.
Loki will collect everything good he knows and remembers and hide it in a little box in his mind. The walls of indifference and cold malice come up, and he will smother his own spirit in order to survive confinement.
I swear I'll get you free Loki, and I promise to never let anyone put you in chains again.
"Tony?" Peppers cautious tone rouses him from his thoughts.
"... Sorry, I was just thinking. Listen, can you do me a favour and get me my phone? I need to talk to Jarvis about something."
Pepper fishes in her skirt pocket and hands him her phone. He smiles and rubs his thumb over the embossed floral design on the case. "You can have mine, I'll borrow Happy's later."
"Happy's here too?" He asks, thoroughly confused. "I thought he wasn't supposed to be released yet."
Pepper tucks a stray hair behind her ears. "He pretty much broke out when he found out you were missing."
"He would." Tony laughs, then clutches his sore ribs. "Ouch..."
"Do you want me to call a nurse? Get you any pain medication?" Pepper asks, looking into his eyes for any hint that he's trying to bluff her.
"No..." He lies, putting on a larger than normal grin.
"Tony..." Pepper warns, and crosses her arms at him.
"Gah, fine." He surrenders under her withering gaze.
Pepper places her hand on his chin, and kisses the crown of his hair, the way his mother used to when he was sick. "I should let you rest." she says.
He squeezes her hand in reassurance. "Thanks Pepper."
She gives him a warm smile and squeezes his hand back. "I'm glad you're home Tony."
"Me too." He sighs and rests his head against his pillow.
Pepper lets go of his hand and slides off the side of the bed. He watches as she walks over to the doorway, and then pauses. "I'll come by and see you later alright?" She nods and shuts the door behind her.
"Bring me a cheeseburger or two when you do!" He calls out to her, and smiles when he hears her laugh down the hall.
Tony is finally alone.
He lets down the cheery mask he kept up for Pepper with a heavy sigh. His face sags around his weary eyes, and he feels like the ordeal has aged him several years. He runs a hand over his rough stubble and winces when his fingers trail over one of the cuts Laufey put on his body. Tony holds Pepper's phone in his hands like a mirror, and he cautiously explores the rest of the damage.
The shallow cuts over his chin wind down his neck and across his collarbones. At the sight of his wounds, he is gripped by and uncontrollable need. He must find out what Laufey did to his body. He tears the wire nodes from his chest and the machine begins to emit a steady tone without his pulse to read. Tony's heart begins to clench at the beginnings of a panic attack, and he quickly throws off his sheets and rips off his hospital gown in a frenzy.
He is gripped with the harsh memories of watching Laufey lean over his naked body and ripping out his reactor. Tony begins to take quick, shallow breaths and his mind floods him with images of Laufey cutting to his flesh, marking him, forcibly changing his skin to the Frost Giant cover Loki made him.
Everywhere he looks on his body he see's Laufey. Fingernail marks near his reactor, the smell of smoke in his hair, the unending burnt plastic taste in the back of his mouth whenever Laufey spoke through him. And worst of all he remembers his very soul flooded with the poisonous touch of Laufey.
Tony has worked himself into a lather of fear and panic. He falls off the bed, scratching the wounds on his body until they begin to bleed.
His mind loops endlessly as he crawls over the floor to the bathroom, not caring that bits of broken glass have embedded themselves in his palms and knees. He fumbles with the door latch, and stumbles into the cold tile on the bathroom floor. He worms his way past the toilet and over the lip of the shower. His body is burning him, it itches and he tears at the offending wounds, trying to rip the very memory of pain from his skin
He manages to flip the shower on, and glacier temperature water washes over him, causing him to gasp. He lets the ice water flood over his body, and when he reaches his hand to claw at his face, he screams.
Blue. Its all blue. He laughs hysterically and the lights flicker around him. He claws at the Frost giant colour blossoming under his skin. Loki's not here- I cant turn- Oh god Laufey-
The door to the bathroom slams open and none other than the God of Thunder himself stands in the doorway.
"Man of Iron!" Thor shouts and Tony watches the Asgardian's face turn pale. "What has happened to you?" He bellows and dives hinder the icy shower spray.
Tony has just enough control to realize he is sitting naked in the shower with Loki's brother and tries to cover himself up. Thor catches his hand and holds it up to his eyes. A mixture of horror and fear play over Thor's face as he watches Tony's hand turn to blue under the gush of cold water.
Tony's heart clenches in his chest and he starts to hyperventilate as his panic attack increases. "Loki..." He manages through raged breaths.
Thor grimaces. "Friend Tony, this is my brothers magics, I feel it! What did he do to you?"
"No!... Need his help. Now! I cant-" Tony pants, and his arc reactor flares in his chest, reacting to the spreading magic. He yells, venting his fear and pain. The light flicker again, and Tony can feel the ground quiver under the tile. Was it his frenzied mind, or did he hear Loki scream just now?
"I will bring you to him, and he shall fix this immediately!" Thor shouts angrily, not understanding Tony's implications. Thor crunches the shower knob under his hands, turning it off with a squeal of twisting metal. He reaches for a towel and wraps it around Tony's waist before picking him up. All Tony can do is dig his fingers into Thor's shoulder as he is carried down the hall. Tony becomes quickly disorientated after several quick turns. As Thor takes a particularly sharp corner, Pepper's scream echo's off the walls.
Thor shouts something to her, and opens a heavy stairwell door.
"Hold on friend Tony." Thor warns him, and before Tony can ask why, Thor jumps off on the stairwell. His heart shoots to his throat and for five panicky seconds he free-falls in Thor's arms. Thor slams into a stair landing and Tony's head smacks against his arm, making him dizzy.
Thor kicks open the door, panicking the two S.H.I.E.L.D agents behind it. "Move!' The linebacker Asgardian barks at them and they attach themselves to the walls. Thor barrels past several checkpoints and as he busts open a door, the lights flicker violently. There is an anguished howl and the walls shake around them.
"LET ME OUT YOU VILE WOMAN!" Loki screams and Tony's back arches with pain.
"One more word and I'll drop the ceiling on you!" He hears Natasha threaten venomously.
Thor runs into the room and Tony's heart begins to beat irregularly in his chest.
"Thor! What the hell- why is Tony blue-" Natasha starts but Loki cuts her off.
"Tony!" Loki shouts and bangs his fist on the cracked glass of his prison. "Thor, bring him to me quickly!"
"Brother you will fix the harm that you have caused-"
"The hell he will, Loki wants us to let hit out and we'll play right into his hands-"
"Tony is suffering you idiotic quim! Let me near him and I will-"
"Loki do you swear not to cause him harm?"
"Thor don't you dare open that door-"
"Yes brother I swear, now please bring him to me!"
Tony is passed the point of blind panic and digs his fingers as hard as he can into Thor's bicep.
"Loki! NOW!" he gasps and his arc reactor flares painfully in his chest.
Loki clutches his chest in sympathy pain, the link binding them is stronger with proximity.
"Brother please!" Loki begs, his voice high with sorrow.
Thor grunts in exasperation and reaches for the keypad. Tony hears something click and his hazed mind manages to peace together that Natasha is aiming a gun at Thor.
"If your hand so much as touches a button, I will shoot it, am I clear?" She spits at him, eyes smoldering with fury.
Thor takes one look at her, and down to Tony who is fighting to stay conscious, blood seeping from his scratches and wounds. He looks back up and his voice thunders across the room.
"LADY NATASHA YOU HAVE BROKEN MY PATIENCE. I BID YOU LEAVE, AND BE GONE FROM MY SIGHT!"
She gives Thor a look that could level cities, and slowly holsters her gun. Tony watches as the Black widow backs down for the second time that day.
"Fine." She snaps. "You are responsible for whatever it does."
"AWAY WOMAN!" Thor booms, his voice making the walkway vibrate.
Tony watches Natasha leave in a huff, and listens carefully to the tones from the keypad as Thor types it in.
There is a whoosh and a rush of stale air, and Loki, at last is by his side.
Thor continues to hold him in his arms, and Loki runs his deliciously cold hands over his body. His companion's fingertips brush over his reactor and he yells with the sudden agonizing flux of power.
"Loki, make it stop..." Tony pleads..
"Anthony, what did you do to yourself?" Loki murmurs as he places his hand over a particularly large cut, trying to stem the bleeding.
"Laufey, I saw him everywhere on me... The memories..." Tony gasps. "Then the cold, I turned... Oh god It hurts!" His body contorts in pain, and it takes Thor and Loki to hold him still.
"Breathe Anthony, I will help you, but only if you breathe. Slowly now... In..."
Tony chokes on the air, but Loki's presence comforts him into continuing.
"And out, good. Thor keep him breathing, I will attend to his wounds."
Thor cradles his head and commands Tony to breathe again.
He follows the rhythm of Thor's chest and slowly... slowly... begins to calm.
Loki places a cool hand on his head and one over his chest. Tony can hear him murmuring In Norse again, calling up some spell. The familiar soothing feeling of Loki's magics work their way into his body, and Tony sighs with relief. It feels like he is resting in a shallow riverbed, letting the cool currents wash over his body. The beautiful flowing magic flows into his skin, through muscle, and at last his bones before settling there. He breathes deeply, savouring the calming feeling of Loki's magic.
Loki moves his hand up to Tony's reactor, and gently places his fingertips on the glass. He delicately twists the reactor until he lightly pulls it out from his chest tube.
Far away, he can hear Thor object, but Loki consoles him.
His companion cups the still-attached reactor in his hands, and and Tony watches in awe as Loki pours the stunning emerald light of his soul magic into it. His reactor accepts this added power, and adjusts itself. Tony moans in pure ecstasy. As Loki places the reactor back in his chest, there is a deep, immensely satisfying feeling, like a dislocated joint that has been popped back into place. Tony finally relaxes with a heaving breath.
"So much better..." Tony groans as he is brought back into the wakening world, free of pain. He moves his hands in front of his face and watches the blue fade from his skin. He skims his hand along his arm and revels in how smooth the skin feels. There is absolutely no trace of his marks from Laufey, not even a scar.
"Thank you. Again." He smiles at Loki, and his companion manages a small smile before his eyes roll back in his head. Loki faints, but Thor catches him by the scruff of his shirt before he hits the ground.
"Loki!" both Thor and himself call out, and the blond Asgardian catches his brother in a one armed hug, supporting the back of his head with his hand. Tony steps down from Thor's arms, wincing when his cast covered leg leg hits the floor. Tony watches him pick up his little brother and carry him over to the bed in his cell.
"Loki!" Tony shouts and limps over to shake his companions shoulders.
"Tony, no!" Thor pulls him away from Loki. "He must rest. He has expended all his energy healing you such." Thor rests his gaze on Tony's eyes. "In all my years with Loki by my side, I have not once seen him sacrifice himself so." The god of thunder looks him over carefully. "Why did you wear his skin, man of iron?"
"Its a long story." Tony sighs and moves one of Loki's arms over his chest. He places his palm on the back of Loki's hand and interlocks his fingers. "I'm never going to be out of debt to you, am I?" he whispers to Loki, his other hand poised over the raw bullet wound in his shoulder.
Thor coughs a warning, and Tony hears the Tip-Tap of Pepper running down the corridor from an elevator. She pushes her way past the agents and freezes when she finds Tony.
"ANTHONY EDWARD STARK!"
Oh shit, he is so dead.
"What on earth- IS THAT BLOOD?" Pepper shrieks, pointing to Thor's shirt.
"I've had it with you mister! You tell me everything right now!"
"Don't you but Pep, me! I'm not moving until you explain why he's covered in blood, and you were blue, and bleeding and.. and..."
Oh no he's made her cry, again. Tony you are officially an asshole.
"and... why are you naked!" she covers her eyes and turns.
Tony realizes he's standing stark naked. His bloody towel is crumpled on the floor of the cell, forgotten in the rush to wake Loki.
Tony blushes and covers himself as he fumbles for the towel. An electronic wine catches his attention and he watches the security camera zoom in on him.
"Enjoy the show Natasha?" Tony snarks as he fixes his towel. "Thor, will you watch him?" He asks.
Thor nods. "We have much to discuss when he awakens."
"I am glad to have assisted you, man of iron."
Tony clasps the towel to his waist and limps with one arm over Pepper to the Elevator. The entire ride up is nothing but apologies and awkward silences. By the time they get to his room, Pepper has calmed down enough to listen to him.
And She does listen.
She simply sits on the edge of his bed, and when he gets to the really rough parts of his story, she holds his hand and waits until he can begin again. He holds nothing back from her.
And when he tells her what happened between him and Loki, she listens with an open heart.
When his story is finished, she takes him into her arms with a loving smile, and holds him.
Tony sits there in her arms and remembers. He remembers exactly every turn Thor made to get him to Loki. He remembers the code on the keypad to unlock the door. He remembers his room number, and the Pepper's phone on his bedside table. He remembers and waits.
Soon Loki, I promise I'll free you.