Thor stared at the pot on the stove and glanced over at the open book on the counter. It looked like the photo but he had no idea if it tasted like it was supposed to. He leaned close and breathed in. It smelled good.
“I didn’t know you cooked.”
He turned away from the pot and glanced over to see Clint staring at him with a look that would have been more at home on Loki’s face when Thor told him he had a plan. It didn’t inspire confidence.
“Jarvis has been helping.”
Thor needed to do something. He hated not having a foe to fight, something to battle and defeat. Humans were the same and yet far too different from Asgardians. It was frustrating and, unfortunately, terrifying in a way Thor could have done without.
Thor turned back to the pot. He carefully picked up the spoon he’d been using and stirred the contents. “Jarvis?”
“It should be ready for Sir.”
You’re going to end up killing that poor human, Thor floated through his head in his brother’s all too familiar voice in a tone Thor had heard far too much. He wanted to scowl at Loki’s words and the amused twist of his brother’s lips. Thor tried the food to be safe. Warmth and flavor thankfully burst across his taste buds.
It was edible at least and tasted close to the soup he’d had before. He almost thought about having Clint try it but didn’t want to risk Clint eating all of Tony’s soup. Thor wasn’t sure if it would turn out half as good after a second attempt.
“That’s for Tony?” Clint piped up as he leaned around to stare in the pot. “No one else?”
Thor shifted and blocked Clint’s view of the pot of chicken noodle soup. “Are you sick?” he asked with an unimpressed air he’d learned from watching Loki interact with pretty much everyone else on Asgard. When Clint pouted at him Thor merely turned to get a bowl and spoon.
“Thor has mixed some of Sir’s medicine into the soup, Agent Barton.” Jarvis helpfully piped up with an innocent lie that had Clint’s face twisting in a grimace.
He stepped away and Thor offered a cheery grin at the nearest camera where he knew Jarvis could see him. Tony’s AI was truly a wondrous creation. Thor constantly marveled at the bodiless entity with a soul and breathtaking loyalty towards his creator. It was a wonder. Something no one would have believed a Midgardian could possibly create.
It always amused him when Tony insisted he wasn’t magical or at least capable of it. It had to be some kind of magic to create another soul in such a way and Tony’s workshop was filled with brilliant little souls he’d created.
Souls that caused minor chaos Thor was sure Loki would approve of if he knew of it. Loki always favored chaos. He also favored snark and biting sarcasm. It wasn’t a complete surprise that he always seemed to gravitate towards Tony, verbally sparing almost gleefully, while the Avengers worked to eliminate the latest threat.
“At least you’ve figured out a way to get him to take his medicine.” Clint muttered as he moved back towards the fridge. Thor watched Clint rummaging around before he pulled out what looked like Natasha’s leftover takeout.
At least Natasha’s retribution would keep Clint away from Tony’s soup.
He filled the bowl, placed it on the tray Jarvis had helpfully directed him towards and added a glass of water. It was easy to balance the full tray as he maneuvered towards Tony’s bedroom where he’d left the genius sleeping.
The nightstand was full of medicine, a glass of warm water and a discarded tablet.
Thor settled the tray down as he took in Tony’s hooded eyes and face flushed with fever. It had been a few hours since Tony had last rushed to the bathroom to empty the entire contents of his stomach, whimpering and moaning, before Thor helped him clean up and carried him back to his bed. “Just kill me.” The words were rasped. “I feel like I’m halfway there anyway.”
“I made you something.”
Tony stared at him and slowly turned his attention to the tray. He blinked sluggishly, breathing audible as he struggled with his sickness, before a halfhearted smile tugged at his lips. “You made me food, Sparky?”
“Of course.” He offered a bright grin in response. “I’ve been reading about taking care of sick humans. Jarvis suggested you might appreciate chicken noodle soup.” Thor stepped close and helped Tony get into an upright position. He placed pillows behind his back and brushed a kiss against Tony’s overwarm forehead.
He hated seeing the proof of how much weaker and fragile humans were compared to Asgardians. His heart ached with the evidence of a battle he couldn’t win. Loki’s words would always haunt him.
It’s a heartbeat. You’ll never be ready.
It was the truth. He would never be ready. Tony, despite being human, didn’t fight like one and Thor often times forgot the one flying the impressive armor wasn’t Asgardian. Tony didn’t live like his life could be effortlessly snatched away between one blink and the next.
Tony carried the heart of a warrior, seemed to command the power of a god and held wisdom that came with hard earned experience. Tony was a warrior and he did hold experience brought to him by countless hardships but his power was limited to a breakable human body.
Now that breakable form that was confined to a bed, per doctor’s orders, as he recovered from a sickness that countless humans experienced, sometimes, multiple times in a year. A sickness that research had told him could kill a human under certain circumstances.
Mjolnir could fell countless foes but not a human sickness.
Once Tony was settled Thor placed the tray across Tony’s lap, positioning the legs of it, before climbing up to settle next to Tony. The true test was Tony’s reaction. He watched as Tony glanced at him before reaching to pick up the spoon and take a bite.
A soft little moan of enjoyment escaped.
Thor felt his chest swell with pride and pleasure as Tony ate. Every bite, pleased sounds escaping, had him relaxing back against the headboard as he watched. He had worried about accidentally poisoning Tony or making his love sicker but it seemed that Jarvis’s instruction had prevented that. Caring for a human was often a matter of trial and error that Thor would have rather skipped over.
“This is delicious.” Tony sounded exhausted but pleased. “It’s been years since someone has made me homemade chicken noodle soup.” He appeared to savor the next bite with a little hum. “Thank you.”
“Anything.” Thor breathed out. “Anything for you.”
If Thor could lay the galaxy at Tony’s feet he would in a heartbeat. He would move Realms, battle armies and fight until his last breath if Tony asked it. Thor wished it was within his power to take Tony’s sickness himself. He would have taken Tony to Asgard but he remembered the last time a human had stepped foot on Asgard and his Father’s displeasure over it.
Tony leaned against him as he ate, slower but still eating, until he pushed the tray away. Thor moved it, handing the glass of water to Tony and collecting the bottle Jarvis had indicated was Tony’s next dose of medicine.
He watched Tony take his medicine without complaint, draining half his glass of water, before handing it over to Thor to set aside. Then he was slumping against Thor’s side with a sigh, nuzzling up against him, as Thor curled an arm around Tony to tuck him further against him.
“Thanks for staying with me.” It was soft and raspy, “This can’t be much fun. Being stuck with a puny sick human.” Thor knew Tony would have rather been in his workshop then stuck in bed and recovering.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
Tony’s lips quirked in the ghost of a smile, “Whatever you say, Point Break.”
He pressed a kiss to Tony’s messy hair. “It’s the truth.”
It was almost pathetic how sickeningly sweet the scene that greeted him was. Loki took in the way his brother clung to the sick human, the flu from what Loki had gathered, as they slept in Tony Stark’s gigantic bed.
There were bottles of medicine, glasses of water and a discarded tray with a bowl.
He’d been watching Thor panicking over his human’s sickness, how Tony had kept pushing himself until he’d collapsed and after a doctor’s visit Thor had been hovering ever since. Thor, big and brash and foolish, had foolishly fallen in love with a human of all possibilities.
A breakable human whose life, at best, might reach his nineties but with a life of super-heroing Tony Stark would be lucky to reach his sixties. It was a pity that Tony Stark had not been born Asgardian. Of all the humans he’d interacted with Loki was sure the power and lifespan of a god would have suited him.
Loki stepped closer to the bed, feet silent and sure, as he scanned the human’s body with his magic. At least if his brother was going to give his heart to a human he’d chosen one of the few worthy ones. Loki should have done the universe a favor and wiped them out.
It wouldn’t have been a great loss, all things considered, but since meeting Tony Stark the first time he’d found himself reluctantly amused by the snarky, sharp human whose tongue was almost as silver as Loki’s own. He would have been one of the few humans that Loki would have let survive such a fate.
He thought of Thor’s defense, his words in Loki’s favor after the Chitauri attack, as he looked at the diagnostics. The arc reactor, though now removed, had significantly shortened Tony’s life expectancy. He took in the diminished lung capacity, no doubt straining due to Tony’s sickness, paired with a damaged heart and a life of carelessness from drinking to risking his life to save others.
Silently he stepped away and with a burst of magic he brought forth an innocent looking piece of pie. The plate was placed on the tray, a fork next to it, as another burst of magic awakened Tony Stark and ensured a sense of hunger.
A simple illusion disguised him as he watched Tony blink and stretch as he woke. Thor slept on, even breathing filling the still room, as Tony looked around and noticed the slice of pie.
The voice of Tony’s creation remained silent, Loki’s magic clouding the being’s senses until he was finished, as Loki watched Tony eye the piece of pie. Seconds after he picked up the fork Tony took a bite and released a pleased sound of enjoyment. He took another bite and another until the pie was gone and only crumbs remained.
Thor could consider it a gift. From one brother to another.
Tony didn’t notice the flash of green magic next to Thor or the dissipation of magic blocking his bodiless creation.
Loki disappeared, just as silent and unnoticed as before.
Thor wasn’t expecting to wake up to Tony working away on his tablet. He took in Tony’s clear eyes, the lack of flush on his cheeks and the way Tony didn’t look at though he was a step away from passing out again. It looked as though the past few days of sickness had been wiped away as though they had never happened.
“Thunderdome!” Tony grinned at him, smile bright and blinding, as Thor blinked at him.
Nothing he’d read said anything about humans getting over the flu so quickly. He noted the clean scent of soap, the fresh clothes and the way Tony seemed to thrum with energy. His eyes were brighter and his face seemed to have lost years.
It looked as though the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders and Tony could stand for the first time without it.
“I have no idea what you put in that soup but it was a miracle worker.” Thor gladly accepted the enthusiastic kiss, tasting mint and a lingering brightness that reminded him of Asgard, as Tony pressed into him. “Did you slip something in there?” he asked against Thor’s lips, “Some kind of mythical herb? I swear I won’t be mad. I haven’t felt is good in years.”
“No.” his brow furrowed. Thor was pleased Tony was healthy again but this shouldn’t have been possible. “I only used things from Midgard.”
He shifted, hand pressing to the mattress, as the sound of paper crumpling caught his attention. Thor lifted his hand and froze at the familiar handwriting spelling out his name across rich parchment.
A life for a life. Idunn was kind enough to offer one apple.
There was no name. There wasn’t a need for it.
Thor doubted Idunn gave up an apple out of the kindness of her heart. It was likely Loki either had leverage against her or he crossed into her garden and removed an apple without any kind of permission. Regardless of how he came upon the apple Thor found that he couldn’t be bothered to care. Loki had given the blessing of the apple to Tony.
Tony would have said something if he had known but it was clear that he seemed to think it was something Thor had done. “Tony…have you eaten anything else? Something other than the soup?”
He shook his head before freezing, eyes widening in realization and question. “There was a slice of the best apple pie I’ve had in my life. Bruce was probably baking or—”
Thor couldn’t stop staring. He took in the healthy glow surrounding Tony and the energy he’d noticed thrumming around his love. It was the magic of Idunn’s apples. He could see the apple’s magic already at work.
Its magic had healed Tony even as it lengthened Tony’s lifespan to that of an Asgardian.
Loki you sly son of a bitch he mentally grinned in elation.
He had been right about Loki.
“Why are you grinning like a crazy person?” Tony quirked an eyebrow at him even as his lips threatened to pull into a grin of his own. “Are you going to let me in on the joke, Tropic Thunder?”
The piece of paper fluttered to the ground. Thor reached out, grabbing Tony and twisting them so he was braced over Tony with Tony’s back to the soft mattress. His hair brushed against the pillow behind Tony’s head where he leaned over to stare down at Tony and bright brown eyes practically grinned up at him.
“I love you.”
He’d been holding it back. Selfishly guarding that truth in a way he had never guarded anything before. Fueled by the fear of inevitable loss and the pain of knowing there was nothing he could do. His father would not go to Idunn and had forbidden him from asking for her blessing. Thor had been barred from Idunn’s garden and the gates were closed to him.
Loki had, mercifully, never believed in following rules and Thor had never appreciated that aspect of his brother’s personality like he did right now.
“Love you too.” It was soft and sincere. From Tony it was a kind of private confession that Thor cherished dearly.
Thor blanketed Tony’s body with his own as he hungrily kissed his beautiful no-longer fragile human. He swallowed Tony’s moans, greedily keeping them purely for himself, as Tony’s hands moved and pulled him closer while a leg moved to lock around him to bring them flush together. They were pressed together as they kissed until Thor pulled back to stare down into lust darkened eyes.
“Keep kissing me like that and I might get ideas.” The teasing waggle of Tony’s eyebrows had Thor on the edge of a laugh.
Thor already had ideas. He had ideas of countless things he couldn’t do before but now, with Idunn’s magic coursing through Tony’s body, he could. As Tony grinned up at him, wicked and pleased, Thor silently offered his thanks to Loki.
This was more than a life for a life. The gift Loki had given him was something that Thor didn’t think he could ever repay no matter how many lifetimes he might have to try. There wasn’t a question that his brother would cause some kind of chaos soon enough, no doubt to balance out this act of selflessness, but for now Thor was going to enjoy the gift he’d been given.