‘’Look,’’ Tony says, pretending to study his suit. ‘’We’ve been over this. I don’t mean to leave Earth, yet. All our friends are here, we’ve built a life here. Don’t you think that it’s, you know, time to maybe have a bit of peace?’’
Loki leans against the armour. There’s a mix of a frown and a smile on his face, and it wouldn’t work quite as well on anyone else. ‘’Tony, it wasn’t me who thought it was a good idea to travel across the realms before settling on it.’’
‘’No,’’ Tony agrees, pointing at Loki’s face with a screwdriver, ‘’but you did agree with it.’’
‘’I agree with it because I think it’s a good time for us to travel,’’ Loki says. ‘’Thor has rebuilt Asgard, the people are content. We don’t have to worry about Freya, except if you wanted to go to Jotunheim, but I would advise against that. The Avengers have never had so many members, and the whole chaos after Thanos has settled.’’
‘’I don’t know. Can we go to Jotunheim? If every Jotun looks like you, I think I might be in luck.’’
Loki makes a frustrated noise. Tony sighs, and looks up to the ceiling, trying to figure out how to say what he wants to say. It’s not that he would mind travelling for a while, but there’s that one matter that’s been on his mind for a while now.
‘’Tony, I feel like you’re not listening to me. I mean to say that –‘’
‘’No, you’re the one who’s not listening,’’ Tony snaps. They’ve been having this discussion for a few weeks now, but Loki truly seems to be oblivious to Tony’s inner conflict. ‘’I don’t want to go, okay? Can we just leave it at that?’’
‘’So you’ve said,’’ Loki says icily, ‘’but you’ve yet to give me a reason as to why you’re so eager to be stuck here.’’
‘’Stuck?’’ Tony repeats. ‘’This is my home, Loki. That may not mean much to you, but I do actually feel comfortable here.’’
Loki’s eyebrows raise, and he opens his mouth. Just as Tony thinks he’s about to say something, Loki starts shaking his head. ‘’Fine. Stay, then.’’
Then the god is gone, and Tony sinks to the floor. He hates arguing with Loki – he always feels like all his secrets are going to be held against him again.
It’s been two years since that horrendous journey to Alfheim, Tony’s home planet. Two years since Loki, and the other Avengers, figured out that Tony is elf, however much he might like being a human. Two years of being with Loki and being more happy than he’s ever been in his life. Of course they have their fights, occasionally – Loki and Tony are too much alike and far too stubborn to always agree, not to even mention their different backgrounds, but at the end of the day, they’re a team.
But lately, it seems like all Loki wants is to leave Earth. Not forever, he says, but Tony – well, he’s kind of afraid that he’s going to lose his lover, at this rate. And Tony doesn’t mean to. Earth is where all his friends are, and they are all mortal, unlike Tony and Loki themselves.
Tony is just afraid of missing more time than he already has.
He remains sitting there for quite some time.
Loki is in the spaceship. He quite likes it, there – it is a combined project of him and Tony, which they started after their return from Alfheim. It uses a mix of both magic and technology, to make it easily usable for both of them. Tony may have learnt to use his magic somewhat, but he still doesn’t prefer it, and Loki doesn’t think he ever will. Tony is stuck on the idea of being human.
And Loki is fine with that, he truly is. Tony has lived here for most of his life, has never known many elves. It’s been only two years since he even found out that Frey is his father, and it’s not like they’ve had much contact. It’s just that Loki worries that Tony is too attached to a planet that they will have to leave in a few decades. Tony lives with a mortal lifespan in mind, but the fact is that they’re immortal, and their comrades are not going to be here forever.
It’s a bitter truth, and Loki merely wants to help Tony, but it seems that his help is not appreciated. So he may be sulking a bit, but he is entitled to it. The past two years have been truly amazing, and Loki has never thought he could be with someone without getting bored of them, but Tony is an enigma in his own right. They’ve hit a brick wall, though, for the past weeks.
He’s trying to get the turrets to recognize his spell, so that they will work on both magic and technology, when FRIDAY redirects a message to him. It’s Thor, on the screen, smiling at him when he sees Loki.
‘’Brother!’’ Thor says. ‘’It’s so good to see you. How are you and Tony doing?’’
It’s not unusual for Thor to call from Asgard, but it doesn’t happen that often either, considering the amount of energy it takes. It had taken quite some engineering abilities of Tony to make it possible in the first place.
‘’Hello, Thor,’’ Loki says, plastering a small smile on his face. It doesn’t feel very sincere, but then again, Thor is not likely to comment on it, even if he might notice it. Thor has grown much, the past few years, and is more likely to notice it when Loki is lying. It’s bothersome, but he is also rather proud of the man his rash brother has become.
‘’I need to talk to you and Tony,’’ Thor says. ‘’It’s rather urgent, actually. Is he around?’’
‘’Not at the moment,’’ Loki says, because it may be petty, but he’s just come out of another argument with Tony, and he doesn’t feel like seeing him. ‘’How urgent is it?’’
‘’Frey has received an untraceable threat,’’ Thor says. ‘’Someone wants him to give up his throne, and has allegedly kidnapped Njord. He’s sent word to Jotunheim to see if this is true, but we don’t have confirmation yet.’’
‘’What about Freya?’’ Loki says, frowning. She’s supposed to be guarded by her father and stepmother in Jotunheim.
Thor sighs. ‘’We have no clue. I only thought to let you know because of Freya.’’
‘’Are these threats about Frey’s family, or merely his kingdom?’’ Loki asks. If this is personal, he will need to keep an eye closer on Tony. It doesn’t matter how often they fight – there is no one in the universe that Loki cares more about than his elf, and nothing will ever change that. At the end of the day, they sleep in the same bed, apologizing with soft kisses. Tony is Loki’s, and anyone who tries to say differently will burn.
‘’When I know more, I will let you know,’’ Thor promises. ‘’For now, just know that Asgard is open for you, if need be. Give my greetings to Tony.’’
‘’I will,’’ Loki says absentmindedly, as the connection breaks. He sincerely hopes that the threat proves to be nothing: Frey may not be quite what Loki would call a friend, but they have known each other for a long time, and he’s Tony’s father, and Thor’s ally. Besides, Freya is quite the force to deal with.
‘’I don’t want to fight,’’ Tony says as he sees Loki walk into the kitchen. Tony has made some noodles, but he did not expect that Loki would join him. Normally, the god takes a few hours to approach him again, not joining him until they go to sleep.
‘’Something has come up,’’ Loki says, and Tony can see that whatever has happened, it clearly distresses his lover. He wouldn’t be here, otherwise.
‘’Eat,’’ Tony commands, helping Loki in a chair, putting the plate of food in front of his nose. Loki sighs, and shoves it away.
Loki shifts in his chair to face him, and it seems like he’s going to talk, but then he catches one of Tony’s arms, tracing the fragile bones of his hand. Tony just lets him, because he knows that while Loki usually is very eloquent, he does like to be given the time to think of what to say. It’s completely different from Tony, who likes to respond on the spot, and can’t handle being silent for long amounts of time.
Loki sighs, and presses a kiss to Tony’s hand. ‘’Thor called. He gave me some troublesome information.’’
‘’Which is?’’ Tony asks, moving his hand to Loki’s hair, slowly massaging his skull.
‘’Frey has been threatened by an of yet unknown entity,’’ Loki says. ‘’Who also claims to have caught Njord, which in turns makes me wonder what has happened to Freya.’’
‘’Shit.’’ Tony withdraws his hand, and sits down on the chair beside Loki. ‘’When did this happen? How likely is this to be true? Do we need to watch our back?’’
‘’We always need to watch our back,’’ Loki tells him, a tinge of annoyance in his voice, but Tony knows it’s aimed at the situation and not him. ‘’Thor didn’t tell me. I assume he called us as soon as he spoke to Frey.’’
Tony sighs. ‘’Well, no need to overreact yet. Frey and Thor are very capable of handling this. Let them do their thing, and we’ll just keep our eyes open.’’
And that’s that, for the moment.
‘’Hey, Mister Stark,’’ Peter greets him, when he gets to the lab, schoolbag still slung over his shoulder and his mask hiding his face. It’s always hilarious to see the young hero half in his costume, and for the other half still looking like the scruffy teenage boy he is.
‘’How often do I have to remind you not to call me that?’’ Tony says, and throws a tablet at him. Peter catches it with ease, as Tony knows he would. ‘’What’s going on with you, kid? All’s good?’’
Peter takes off his mask and smiles. Tony knows that the boy thinks that he is too protective, but Peter is still so young, and Tony can’t feel not responsible for his well-being. ‘’Feeling human, today?’’ the teenager says instead, inquiring after Tony’s shifted form. Tony usually doesn’t hide his elven form anymore in Avengers Compound, but there are days that it still feels like a secret in his heart.
He merely shrugs, and points at the tablet Peter is holding. ‘’The spaceship is ready for travel. Loki and I managed to install an engine that is powerful enough for hyper-drives.’’
‘’Star Wars has just become real,’’ Peter says, looking intently at the tablet. ‘’Holy shit, you really managed it. Can we try?’’
‘’Not here, we’re not,’’ Tony says. ‘’Look it over, will you? Bruce isn’t here to check my calculations, but I guess you’ll do.’’
Peter grins at him. The boy is brilliant, and Tony’s told him so before, but that doesn’t mean that Tony is going to shower him in compliments all the time. And while Peter is perfectly capable of checking the calculations, Tony does kind of miss Bruce’s mutters while he was going over them.
But Bruce left with Thor to help Asgard. Tony kind of suspects it’s because Valkyrie went to help Thor, too, and there’s something going on between those two. But Tony doesn’t ask, and Bruce hasn’t told him yet, so he’s not going to pry. Ever since coming back to Earth, Bruce has been different, and Tony is not so sure it’s a bad thing.
‘’Seems to be correct,’’ Peter says, scrolling past the numbers. ‘’But is it actually doable?’’
‘’Well, I hope so, considering the spaceship should be good to go,’’ Tony says. ‘’This will revolutionize space travel for Earth. Man, NASA is going to be begging for the blueprints when they hear about this.’’
‘’Do you think that’s a good idea?’’ Peter asks, putting away the tablets. ‘’I mean, I’d love to go to outer space and stuff, but after that stuff with Thanos… I’m not sure people are that eager to investigate what else is out there.’’
Tony lays a hand on the boy’s shoulder. ‘’You’re right, Peter, but this isn’t going to go public for a few more years, at least. And it’s always good to have some options, right? Just because we don’t see them, doesn’t mean there aren’t other civilizations out there. And not all of them bad.’’
‘’You’re the prime example,’’ Peter says with a smile, and lets it go.
Loki wakes up in the middle of the night because of a nightmare. He isn’t shouting, or sweating, or giving off any vibes at all that he’s had a bad dream: no one has ever been able to tell. Only Frigga knew, when he was still a boy. Now, only Tony notices, but the elf is asleep beside him.
Tony has gone to sleep in his human appearance, which he has taken on the past few days without even commenting on it. Loki knows better than to push him about shifting: the elf does whatever he feels like, and Loki rolls with it, because he honestly doesn’t care about what skin his lover feels like wearing. But it seems he’s shifted back to his natural form during sleep. Tony’s eyes are pressed close, the golden orbs hidden under his eyelids, and he is mumbling something into his pillow as he turns and tosses around.
Loki smiles softly. Tony moves a lot in his sleep, and talks nonsense. He himself is a light sleeper, and he remembers the trouble he had getting used to sleeping with Tony.
The nightmare is still present in his thoughts, so Loki shifts closer to Tony. The elf is warm, and moves instinctively closer to Loki. The god presses his nose into the elf’s hair, and drifts off to dreams again soon enough.
The nights are always the quietest, for Tony and Loki. They may bicker and fight and banter with each other all day, but it’s at night that they truly come together, with no one else to disturb them.
The mornings can be both. Sometimes one of them wakes up, and it’s easy, and sweet, and there’s silent moments before a chaotic day. Sometimes, the mornings aren’t quite as peaceful, and they feed off the energy from the other, rolling around in bed, trying to pin the other down and laughing.
Tony thinks he can do this forever.
‘’Shift,’’ Tony says, and Loki goes dutifully, shifting his hair to a dirty blond.
There’s not so much as a spike in the readings. Tony peeks at the machine, and then back at Loki. ‘’You’re truly surprised by this?’’ Loki says. ‘’We’ve discussed it before. What I’m doing is too subtle for your machines to pick up on.’’
‘’I’m telling you it’s not,’’ Tony says. ‘’Look, you come here, I’ll take your place. It does notice my shifting.’’ Tony shifts his hair to a blonde colour, too, and there’s a clear spike in the readings.
‘’You do realize our powers come from different places, don’t you?’’ Loki says. ‘’Figure it out, Tony. Think about the differences of what we’re doing here.’’
Which means that Loki already knows the answer. Tony throws an empty soda can at him, but he does think about it. ‘’I’m drawing the magic from inside,’’ he says. ‘’You’re not. But a different power source doesn’t make the effect any different. Unless – you’re not doing the same thing I am. You’re doing something more subtle, so subtle that the machines don’t see it.’’
Loki smirks at him. ‘’Very well. What exactly is the difference between what you and I are doing?’’
‘’You’re putting on a glamour,’’ Tony realizes, pointing accusingly with a finger at Loki. ‘’You’re not shifting at all.’’
‘’I could shift,’’ Loki confesses, ‘’But it takes me more energy, while a glamour does the same thing. For elves, it’s the other way around. Hiding yourself takes energy from outside, energy you don’t have access to. Shifting is natural to you.’’
‘’You’re sneaky,’’ Tony says, and presses his lips to Loki’s. ‘’I like it.’’
They’ve been doing a mix between science and magic theory for some time now, and Loki has been a good teacher, considering Tony hasn’t spent all that much time on Alfheim at all. As the son of a servant, the only thing he knew of magic was what came naturally, not any theory at all. It’s a fun way to learn about the other’s specialties for both of them.
‘’I aim to please,’’ Loki says, and then there’s not much talking at all for a while there.
The stars have grown to be a comfort to Tony. Maybe they always have been. A tangible reminder that Earth is not all there is, no matter what humans may think.
Tony is lying on his back, watching the lights in the sky. The only company he has are the two Quinjets parked beside him, but that’s normal. Loki joins him, sometimes, and on very special occasions another Avenger comes to see him here, but this is generally speaking Tony’s spot. He comes here to reminisce, when the mood strikes. And it does, more often than ever before.
He can’t see Alfheim from here. But he knows it’s there.
But then there’s another light coming towards him. Tony sits up, staring at it in surprise. The lights are blinding him a bit, but it has to be a plane or jet of some kind. Maybe it’s the Guardians coming to visit, but they usually call before they drop in.
It slows down when it comes near him, and Tony has to hold a hand in front of his eyes to not be blinded by the light. Then someone seemingly drops out of the ship, and Tony sees a Frost Giant coming toward him, red eyes fixed on him.
Tony scrambles up. He doesn’t have the suit anywhere near him, and before he can even think of casting a spell, the Jotun holds him up by his shirt.
‘’Egil of Alfheim?’’ the Jotun asks, voice low.
‘’It’s Tony Stark,’’ he answers, trying to kick the Giant away. He’s nearly succeeding, but then the Jotun’s grip tightens, and his hand grows cold. Tony struggles to get away, and fails.
‘’You’ve been summoned,’’ the Giant says with a disturbing laugh, and then they’re beamed up by the ship.