Rating: PG-13 (T) (will eventually be higher as a warning)
Warnings: Some blood
Spoilers: Contains mention of things shown/talked about in previews and interviews for The Avengers.
Word Count: 7177
Pairing: Tony Stark/Loki
Summary: An attempt at casting a spell on the Hulk goes awry when Tony intervenes, linking Tony and Loki in ways neither of them wanted.
Every one of them knew when Loki had made his escape from that state of the art prison cell, making off with that old relic of a staff SHIELD had locked away, that he would be back to cause trouble. The problem was they didn’t know when or where. Or in what form he would enact his retribution for imprisonment.
Inquiries had been made to find out what the staff had been capable of but all the tests that had been performed on it when it had been transferred to SHIELD custody had come up empty. As far as they were concerned it was just a fancy walking stick. Thor had his reservations about that and insisted that Loki would not go to the trouble of stealing a useless trinket.
Tony didn’t like the idea of waiting around for Thor’s brother to pop back up but three weeks of nonstop searching and shifts patrolling the city provided nothing new. Loki had simply escaped from SHIELD’s most secret and fortified building and disappeared off the radar.
For their new found teamdom it was a tense time. Tony didn’t think Fury had slept a wink for those three weeks and did little else other than order everybody back out to find Loki. The Hulk didn’t trust the magic he had seen Loki using so he was very eager to smash if he found the “small magic man”. Steve had probably slept as little as Fury and Thor just wanted to find his brother. The heartbroken disappointment on Thor’s face was obvious each day when no news came of Loki.
To Tony if Loki wanted to hide away and stay quiet then he was fine with it at this point. The guy was a bit of a psycho anyway.
“No offense, Thor,” Tony added as he said as much to the group. They were on a terrace of their cozy SHIELD home, with Steve grilling chicken. They had decided a break from their guard duty would do them good so it was barbeque day.
Steve laughed, flipping a piece of chicken over. “You just don’t want to get thrown out of anymore windows.”
“That had crossed my mind,” Tony frowned, remembering getting that strange visit from Loki. In one of the top floors of his Tower, Tony had pushed a few too many buttons and got forcibly ejected from the building because of it.
“Leave it to you to insult that guy near a window,” Natasha said with a smile. She liked reminding him of what trouble his attitude usually got him in.
“Can we stop talking about the window incident?!” Tony suggested.
Thor laughed and smacked a hand down onto Tony’s shoulder, rattling his entire body. Tony glared up at him and wondered if that shoulder would always slump lower than the other from then on.
“You battled Loki and survived, that is something to be proud of,” Thor said.
“When you say battle--” Steve began.
“Shut up,” Tony interrupted. Steve and Thor laughed again and Tony grumpily took a sip of his beer. “I’d like to see you do better, Captain.”
“I was too busy catching you from a 50 story fall, I’m sorry,” Steve said, poking another piece of chicken.
Clint laughed then; he enjoyed embarrassing stories of his teammates. Tony usually did too unless they were about him.
“I’m starving,” Tony changed the subject. “This stomach isn’t going to fill itself.”
“Then go get Banner, it’s almost done.”
“He’s Hulk’d out, you know he’s going to spit that chicken in your face, right?” Tony smirked.
“Just go get him,” Steve commanded.
“Yes, Captain,” Tony saluted and Clint smirked at him. “Right away, Captain.”
Tony didn’t exactly know where Banner was at but he needed a few minutes of quiet so he didn’t mind being the one who got sent on the errand. He was still getting used to having people around that he had to learn to rely on and it hadn’t settled well on him. Tony had grown accustomed to working for himself.
He figured the best place to look would be Banner’s room so he turned his casual stroll in that direction, taking occasional swigs of his beer. It was nice to take a break though. He had been out patrolling so much in the suit that he was starting to chafe in places. Tony decided he had to work on the comfort levels of the suit.
Knocking on Banner’s door, Tony leaned against the wall and waited. It took three rounds of knocking before Tony frowned at the door.
“Yo Hulk. Food is ready. I know you’re hungry. Your stomach rumbling shakes the whole building.”
He knocked again and no answer. Hulk could have easily been somewhere else but the silence was giving Tony an uneasy feeling. Pulling out his keycard he slid it through the door lock. The light flickered green and the sound of the lock opening was loud in the hallway.
Tony slowly and quietly opened the door worrying that if the Hulk was in there who knew what kind of mood he’d be in. He was surprised to find Hulk was there, sitting on the floor in the center of the dark room. His big green eyelids were closed and he didn’t open them or move at Tony’s entrance. It was like he was sleeping, but it seemed strange to be sleeping sitting up.
Hulk wasn’t alone though. The tall figure of Loki stood in the corner of the room, a halo of eerily green light surrounding him and that staff he had stolen from SHIELD. The light grew more vibrant the closer it got to the gem at the head of the staff.
“Shit,” Tony rushed across the room before he thought better of it. He stopped in front of Hulk and shook him, his massive shoulders barely moving. He was unresponsive but was breathing steadily just like he was having a good nap. There was even a tiny smile on his huge green lips.
“Banner, wake up!” Tony shook him again, sure that something terrible was being done to him. And also quite sure the Hulk had a better chance of stopping it then he had. But Hulk didn’t wake and there was nothing but to turn quickly toward Loki.
He was hidden by shadows in the corner of the room but his features were easily distinguishable. Green eyes shone with the magic he was weaving in waves pulsing from his body and congregating into the staff. Loki hadn’t moved either since Tony had entered and he didn’t say anything. His mouth was set in a thin line as if he was concentrating, causing a great strain on himself. His hands were gripped tightly around the staff’s long golden length. Loki’s eyes were locked on Tony but he kept the rest of his attention on what he was doing. He seemed determined to finish whatever it was.
Tony knew he couldn’t let him do that.
“Release him,” Tony said as he stepped determinedly toward Loki.
“Step no further,” Loki threatened, his voice tight.
Tony paused and looked back at the possessed body of the Hulk, oblivious to anything around him.
“Let him go. Now.”
“You take one more step toward me and it will ruin his mind,” Loki warned. “You wouldn’t want that, would you?”
Tony glared at Loki and tried to read his face to figure out if he was bluffing or not. Whatever he was doing it was already screwing with the Hulk so he wasn’t sure he could make it any worse by stopping Loki from finishing it.
A moment passed and the glow grew brighter. Tony couldn’t stand by any longer, he had to stop it. He moved toward Loki in a rush, reaching for the staff.
“No, you fool!” Loki cried out and recoiled.
He swung the staff around and used it more as a way to keep space between himself and Tony than a weapon. The grow grew brighter and Loki pushed Tony away with the butt of the staff, knocking him to the ground. Tony scrambled to his knees and reached for Loki again. Distracting him had to be good enough. Keep him from finishing his spell. Separate his hand from the staff. That had to be enough.
Tony’s hand grabbed Loki’s wrist, his fingers falling over the back of Loki’s hand. Loki’s entire body jerked and his eyes were alarmed when he looked down at Tony’s hand on his.
“No,” Loki shook his head.
Then a pulse of bright white light flashed from the staff and stinging jolts of what felt like electricity ran through Tony’s fingers and up his arm. Pain followed the sting, and then it was overwhelming him, pain like his brain was trying to crawl out of his skull. Tony wanted to scream but he choked on the sound and gripped his head in his hands. Loki fell back against the wall and put a hand to his own head.
Hours it seemed like he was there curled up on the floor. But it couldn’t have been that long because when the pain resided and he was able to open his eyes Loki was still standing there and Hulk was still sleeping happily in his seated position. And nobody had come to check up on them. Nobody had come calling.
Tony looked up at Loki through red eyes and groaned at the sick pain in his stomach, trying to crawl to his hands and knees.
“You imbecile,” Loki said sharply. He frowned down at him and Tony for sure thought he was about to get skewered by that staff. He also felt a rush of anger but he didn’t know at what. Maybe himself. He should have known better.
“What did you just do to me?” Tony managed to breathe out in a ragged voice.
Loki didn’t answer him, the son of a bitch, he just opened up one of those portals and walked through it. It closed up immediately behind him and Loki was gone.
Tony rolled over to his back and put a hand to his chest. His heart was thumping wildly and his head pulsed, residual reactions to the pain he had just gone through.
“What the hell did he do to me?” Tony whispered to himself in the darkness. Or maybe he was asking Banner, trapped inside a brain trapped by magic.
Moving hurt but he pulled out his phone and hit one button, sending out a call to the others. Why he hadn’t done that as soon as he entered the room he’d never be able to answer. Adrenaline clouding his judgment maybe.
It wasn’t long before they were discovered. Steve pushing into the room and kneeling down beside him, asking questions and worrying over his condition. Tony could only smile and shake his head. He closed his eyes and wanted to do nothing but sleep, wishing he was the Hulk right then.
“Get them both to the infirmary. Once they’re better we’ll figure out what happened. Let’s pull the surveillance footage,” commands began when Steve realized Tony wasn’t answering any questions.
He hadn’t realized how tired he had been. Tony felt Steve trying to keep him awake, shaking his shoulders like Tony had done to Hulk earlier, and slapping his cheek but god, he was so tired. Tony tried to stay awake, he really did, but despite his efforts he drifted off anyway.
Waking up to bright lights blinding him wasn’t ever one of Tony’s favorite things. He immediately scrunched his eyes together and shielded the brightness with his hand. Groaning, he called out for somebody to turn the lights off.
“Good, you’re awake,” came Steve’s voice at his side.
The light did not go away. Tony cracked an eye open and saw the heavy frown on Steve’s face. Then he saw Thor standing in the doorway, a concerned worry in his eyes.
“So Loki,” it wasn’t a question.
Tony closed his eye again and let out a long suffering sigh. “He was just there.”
“What was said,” Thor asked over Steve. Steve shot Thor a look but turned back to Tony.
“There’s video surveillance but there was a lot of interference. No sound and after some light from that staff there’s nothing at all.” Steve couldn’t hide the worry in his voice. “So what happened?”
Tony shook his head and rubbed the area between his eyes. “Can you at least turn off the lights before you interrogate me?”
The lights were off in an instant and Tony made a grateful noise. He felt like he was going through the mother of hangovers. Tony opened his eyes and forced a smile to his lips when the only light in the room was the glow from outside his room, giving him enough light to see Steve and Thor‘s faces.
“Speak,” Thor urged.
Tony guess he owed them that much.
“I went to get Banner. I walked in and there Loki was, standing there with that staff. All green and glowy. Hulk was under some spell. I think he would have sat there through an earthquake.”
“What was Loki doing?”
Tony shrugged. “Beats me. He called me stupid in a few different ways and I touched his arm and I got zapped. That’s all I know.”
“He spoke to you?” Thor asked eagerly.
“Look, guys. I know you want answers, I do to but I don’t know anything,” Tony said in a defensive tone. It wasn’t like he could read Loki’s mind or anything. “That’s all I know. He stood there doing his magic thing and then I touched him and here I am.”
Thor’s shoulders sagged in disappointment and Steve gave him a sympathetic look.
“We didn’t get anything better from Banner. The Hulk isn’t being very forthcoming.”
“I can imagine,” Tony turned to poke at the wires attaching his arm to the medical machines keeping track of his vitals “How is he?”
“Angry,” Steve huffed.
“So the same then?” Tony began to pull the wires off his arm and Steve tsk’d at him and put his hand over Tony’s.
“Will you not do that? We don’t know what Loki did to you.”
“I’m fine,” Tony slapped Steve’s hand away but he stopped fidgeting with the medical equipment.
Steve leaned back and turned to the door, “We’ll go let Fury know what you told us. He’s going to want to talk to you anyway.”
“Great, just what a recovering man needs,” Tony groaned.
Steve smile and patted Thor’s chest as he walked by, “C’mon, let’s get back to work.” Thor nodded with a determined set to his mouth and followed.
Sleep came pretty quick again. Though it was restless and broken. Dreams woke him but he could never remember them when he opened his eyes. When he woke from the last one he was sweating and breathing heavily, almost panting. The last remnants of the dream faded from his mind with a lingering image falling and while being torn apart.
Tony sat up and put a hand to his head, he wasn’t hot. So now he was having nightmares? He couldn’t remember the last time he had had a nightmare.
Whipping the sheet back he slid his legs over the side of the bed and cringed when he remembered he wasn’t in his home and didn’t know where his clothes were. A thin and easily removable shirt covered his chest and just as thin pants were wrapped around his waist with a string tie. Had undressing him really been necessary?
Tony put a hand to his chest, fingers circling over the arc reactor and he took a deep breath. He needed to get out of here.
Tony winced as he disconnected himself from the beeping machines, and immediately regretted it when they started beeping louder. His feet dropped to the cold tile floor and he shuffled through the dark room to the door.
When he opened it a SHIELD agent stood up from where he was sitting beside the door .
“You have got to be kidding me,” Tony slumped in the doorway.
“Sorry, Mr. Stark. But Fury’s orders, you aren’t to leave this room.”
“I’m fine. I feel fine.”
The agent just turned his palms up and ushered Tony back into the room.
“I’ll get a doctor,” he said before he left.
“I don’t need a doctor!” Tony called after him. “I need to get out of this room. I need to not be here sitting on my ass.”
So then a doctor came in and started frowning at him and putting things back into his arm. Poking and prodding and every so often letting his eyes go to the glowing light shining under Tony’s shirt. Tony eventually shooed him out of the room.
He sat there in the dark for a long while. First trying to figure out how he could get out of the room without anybody knowing but he decided after much deliberation that it wasn’t going to happen. Then his mind wandered to more familiar things, what fixes he could make to his suit in order to make the propulsion more responsive. A thought on how to possibly make the landings smoother.
Everything was an attempt to keep his eyes from closing. He was nervous about trying to sleep again even though he couldn’t even remember the dreams he had. Tony knew they weren’t pleasant and that was enough for him.
What he wouldn’t give for a drink.
But eventually sleep won out again. It was a few hours later when he again woke up with sweat at his temples and his heart racing. What was happening to him?
Tony kept the dreams from the doctor and from everybody else. When Steve had come to visit he had felt tempted to tell him just to get it off his chest. But who cared about a few bad dreams? Lots of people had them. Especially after a near death experience. Other than the dreams Tony felt fine anyway, and after a day of visits and debriefings brought to his bedside he had forgotten about the dreams all together.
Another day and no dreams Tony was vocal in his need to be set free. They could find nothing abnormal with his health, other than the arc reactor which they thought was all together unnatural, and Tony was adamant that they weren’t allowed to tamper with it. Finally they had to determine that he was healthy and they let him go.
He was immediately in a meeting with Fury, who stared at him over a desk with his one good eye, pinning him to his seat. Tony blinked his eyes and tried to give off a carefree attitude. Letting Fury know he sometimes scared the shit out him would benefit nobody.
“Is there going to be talking at some point here?” Tony finally asked.
Fury leaned back in his seat and peaked his hands together under his chin. “I’m taking you off patrol rotation for a couple weeks.”
Tony sat forward, “Excuse me?”
“We still don’t know what happened in that room. I’d like to be sure that nothing is going to come back to bite us.”
Tony stabbed a finger onto the desk, “I’m fine.”
“And the doctor agrees. But I won’t take the chance. Rogers agrees.”
Fury closed a folder on his desk as if that closed the conversation. Tony’s mouth worked as he worked to come up with an argument but there was nothing he could do if both Fury and Steve were against him.
“Fine,” he finally said, standing and turning on his heel. Tony turned his nose up and walked out of the room like the decision had been his.
It would give him plenty of time to tinker with things he had been meaning to work on anyway.
So he set himself up at his home, spending most of his time working on small fixes for his Iron Man suit. Little of his time was spent sleeping. Because he was too busy or because he was avoiding it he didn’t know. He tried not to think about it.
A week of this went by and then Loki decided to make another appearance in the middle of the city. Tony hadn’t been called or notified by any of the team. It hurt a little bit, he’d admit. Those bastards.
But he had gotten a strange feeling that something was happening and had switched on the news. And there it was. Live footage of people running in terror, cars exploding and things flying across the air raining firepower down around the fleeing people. The Avengers were already on scene, as Tony found out by a shot of Steve barreling through a large man shaped being who was shooting at him. And then Hulk jumping into the sky to grab one of them out of the sky as it was speeding past on some kind of flying… chariot. It made Tony jealous for a moment until he remembered his suit.
As he watched the footage he wasn’t aware of his pulse speeding up and the hair standing up on his arms and neck. But he did tell Jarvis to get his suit ready. Fury would have to suck it up because it didn’t look like the others were putting a stop to this any time soon.
It didn’t take long for him to suit up and shoot off to the chaos as fast as his suit would allow without over drawing the power. He set down near a small park where a couple cars were on fire and a large brutish looking man with gray skin was chasing a woman from behind a tree.
“Charge unibeam just in case. Set priority targeting to hostiles near civilians.”
Tony raised his hand and his first blast hit the man directly in the back, knocking him to the ground. As Tony approached he was slowly getting to his hands and knees so Tony blasted him again to force him back down. The woman was panicked and didn’t move until Tony called for her to get out of the area three times.
When Tony stepped back to inspect the man he had brought down he didn’t know what to make of him. His skin was more of a blue then gray and he had dark markings up his entire body. And pronounced dark ridges up his forehead that traveled back over his the rest of his skull.
“So… not a human,” Tony said. Why he thought it might be he didn’t know. This was crazy otherworldly Loki they he was talking about here.
A feeling of something approaching came over him and Tony looked up over his shoulder and around him. There was nobody else there but he could hear the yelling and explosions off down the road. He got onto the comms.
“Where’s the action?” he called.
“Tony?!” Steve‘s voice was shouting into his ear. “What are you doing here?”
“Can we move past the part where you scold me for not following orders and tell me what’s going on?”
“Loki is what’s happening,” Steve said in an exasperated voice. “He and his goons are just blasting the city. They aren’t after anything that we can tell.”
“There is a reason for this chaos, Rogers,” Thor’s voice chimed in. Surprisingly since Thor didn’t care much for using their communications devices. “Loki is one for mysteries but he does not act for the sake of action.”
“I don’t think the reason matters as long as this keeps up,” Tony said.
That feeling of an approaching… something was still nagging at Tony and he once again surveyed his surroundings. Nothing. But then far above him there was movement. Fast and growing closer was one of those flying vehicles he had seen on the news.
“Guys, I have an incoming,” Tony said.
“On my way,” Steve said.
Tony took a step backward and magnified the image as it came hurtling down in his direction. An alarmed breath escaped his lips when Loki’s face suddenly came into focus.
“I have the incoming,” Tony said. “Let’s hurry up the reinforcements please.”
Tony lifted off into the air and began an attempt to lead Loki away in effort to buy time if anything. He darted around buildings and circled around back toward the park after a while, knowing that area was mostly deserted. Loki consistently gained on him, not giving up the chase no matter how many buildings he had to avoid.
“This guy does not give up, does he?” Tony asked the air, wondering why Loki had it in for him when he could be off causing havoc in other places.
Soon though, Loki was within range for Tony to turn long enough to shoot at him. Maybe he’d get lucky and take out that craft Loki was using to speed around on. Loki bared his teeth at him and began firing back with his magic, directing it with that staff of his.
Tony swerved and dived to avoid the blasts.
“Where is everybody?!” Tony was growing a bit worried.
“Right here,” Steve said through the comms.
A second after there was a loud thundering rumble in the sky followed by a shock of fear in Tony’s chest. He came to a halt and twisted his head around in time to see Thor crash into Loki, sending them both into the side of a building and through its’ outer wall. Debris fell from the large hole they had made and crushed cars beneath it.
Bright white light and green bursts illuminated the area as the two battled in that small area. Tony flew a little closer to get a look, fighting the urge to go in after them. He was breathing heavily and felt like he had run all that distance instead of flown. A desperate feeling like every breath was life or death came over him and he couldn’t figure out why. Thor was taking care of the only risk to his life.
Then suddenly he felt like he wasn’t where he was supposed to be anymore. Tony wasn’t in his suit but on his back, held to the floor by a large knee. Thor was above him, hammer raised high and an upset frown on his face.
“Do not force my hand, brother,” he pleaded. His voice was desperate but Tony didn’t care how desperate he was because it didn’t matter. Nothing Thor said mattered anymore. Every one of his words was a deceit.
“I do what I must, Thor,” Loki’s voice said from Tony’s throat. No, it was Loki’s throat. It was Loki.
Then Loki pushed a hand into Thor’s face, blasting him with a painful but weak magical blast that didn’t take effort to conjure. It was enough though because Thor reared backward and gave Loki the space he needed to get to his feet.
“Loki! Brother please!” Thor shouted in a misguided attempt to compel him to stop. Loki laughed at his naivety.
“You call me brother while you stand against me with these mortals?” Loki hissed. So much bitterness welling up inside, it made Tony feel like he was drowning in it. “You show your true loyalties.”
“Loki,” Thor’s voice was an echo of its’ usual strength.
Loki shook his head at Thor, no hint of pity or mercy in his heart. Tony felt himself, swing the staff in his hands outward toward Thor and a dark blast of energy erupted from it. It smashed into Thor, who was thrown through walls, further into the building.
Loki turned and stood at the edge of the hole they had made in the concrete. Tony saw himself through Loki’s eyes and it was all too much. It was dizzying being dropped back into his own body, his own eyes.
Tony reached down in disbelief still, making sure he was himself. His suit. His arms and his legs. His thoughts.
It was only a moment but it was too long.
“Tony!!!” Steve’s voice was deafening in his helmet.
Loki’s attack hit him directly and with all his defenses down. Tony’s suit was thrown into a freefall and he stared at the ground rushing toward him with wide eyes. This was bad.
The impact was what Tony imagined getting hit by a train felt like. The machine took most of the damage but Tony felt like his head was split open and every muscle hurt. Alarms and warnings were blinking and ringing at him telling him what was no longer working. He tried to push himself off the ground but the left leg of his suit was completely unresponsive so he was stuck in the middle of a ruined street, twitching and kicking trying to get himself upright.
Sparks began flying from his suits right arm and he cursed. This was not good.
Then there were dark boots in front of his eyes and the ends of a coat lined with green and gold trimming.
Shit. This was really not good.
He was so angry and disgusted that he could scream and he felt a staff being raised into the air. Then he felt the impact in his spine, crushing him back down into the pavement. His suit wailed at him.
15% Power it blinked at him in alarming red light
He could still see out of the slits the suit had in place of its’ eyes but it was narrow and nothing but rough cement anyway. Then he was being lifted up and his eyes were level with Loki’s. Where was Thor? Where was Steve? Tony would take Fury even. Anybody.
“I don’t supposed we can talk this out?” Tony asked. “You know… man to god?”
Loki let his grip on Tony’s suit go, leaving him wobbling on his powerless legs, fighting gravity for all he was worth.
“Loki, no!!” Thor’s voice was loud and angry. The sudden sneer on Loki’s face matched the twisted disdain Tony felt.
Loki pulled his staff back in preparation for a strike but the blow didn’t come. His eyes slowly narrowed and his lips turned downward. There was confusion and frustration making it hard for Tony to figure out what was going on. Tony struggled to move but the suit was too heavy and he would have to get out manually at this point.
Then Tony saw Thor land behind Loki. He looked like he was ready to do damage.
“Yes, Thor! Will you please stop your family from trying to kill me?!” Tony shouted but wasn’t sure if Thor could hear him.
Loki glanced over his shoulder and quickly grabbed the shoulder plate of Tony’s suit and ripped it off with a force that threw Tony to the ground. But Loki hauled him back up with a strength that his lean frame did not advertise. With his hand now directly on Tony’s shoulder Loki did one of his magic tricks. It felt like walking through a wall of cold water, startling and refreshing at the same time.
They had teleported or moved somewhere else. Tony didn’t know how it worked but he was immediately dropped by Loki. He would have fallen to his knees if the suit’s legs would bend properly but they weren’t. He unceremoniously fell face first to the ground.
Tony gritted his teeth and tried to move but he was no match for the weight of his suit and he had definitely gotten a head injury. Tony felt the blood crawling down the side of his face then saw it dripping from his cheek to the inside of his helmet.
“If you want me dead then by all means don’t help me out of this,” Tony shouted.
There was silence then shuffling of feet to his left. Tony tried to turn and look but he couldn’t see anything but a wood floor. This was very very not good.. He made a mental note to himself that if he survived he would work in a manual release of his suit for times like this.
Tony sighed heavily and put his forehead down against the helmet and hoped he wouldn’t be left to rot here on the floor.
Loki suddenly grabbed the suit’s helmet and began pulling at the metal. It wasn’t how it was meant to be removed but Tony wasn’t about to try and instruct Loki on the proper way. Eventually and with a lot of painful twists and jerks Loki freed Tony’s head. Tony took in a deep breath and craned his neck to look up at Loki’s knees because it was as far as he could turn. The movement sent a wave of dizziness over him and Tony swallowed and let his head drop again.
“I’m just going to-- to-- I’m going to pass out now,” Tony said as he did just that.
Tony woke groaning in pain and with stiff muscles. His head was pounding and he swore he could hear his pulse in his ears. Stretching out an arm Tony stared at the scratches and bruises on his skin, underneath the ripped fabric of his under armor. His brow dropped over his eyes in confusion and then his eyes focused on what was beyond his hand.
An unfamiliar room of dark concrete walls and one small window that was letting a bright sun shine in. So somebody’s basement? Tony began to raise his head out of small pool of what looked like dried blood and stopped when dizzying pain shot through his skull. He let out a pained whimper, putting a hand to his head.
“Where am I?” he asked out loud.
“I doubt knowing would help you at all,” said a smooth and self-assured voice.
Loki. That son of a bitch. Tony started to push himself off the floor, ignoring the aches and feeling of nausea as he did so. He still had one knee on the floor when he staggered, catching himself and holding the position.
Loki smiled at his discomfort. He was sitting on the only piece of furniture in the bare room. An arm chair that must have once belonged to somebody else. He doubted Loki would choose that for his décor. Loki was in a dressed down version of the usual armor Tony saw him. The overcoat was gone, which stripped away the shoulder guard and a few straps. Loki was obviously aware that Tony was no threat to him. Tony let out a heavy breath and tried to get to his feet again.
“I beg of you not to stand on my account,” Loki’s smile grew. He draped a leg over the arm of the chair and put a fist under his chin. Like Tony were some form of entertainment and he were leisurely watching.
“Wha-- Where’s my suit?” Tony asked. Finally he made it to his feet and he fought to keep his legs steady. He was trying to stand while everything around him was spinning.
Loki flipped a hand as if he were imagining tossing something away. “I removed it and what’s left of it is piled just over there,” he pointed with thin index finger.
Tony spun around in search for it but the action made him reel and he stumbled to the wall, leaning against it for support. Loki quickly stood and approached Tony.
“Your suit is no longer of use to you,” Loki said.
Tony flattened his hand against the wall, waiting for everything to steady itself. “Why’s that? Because of your plan to kill me?”
Loki laughed and stepped away from Tony toward the pile of metal that used to be Tony’s suit. “That time has passed. Your armor is no longer of use to you because your armor is no longer useful.”
Tony sighed at the scrap that Loki had made of his suit. “Did you have to?”
“I cannot be blamed for the weaknesses in your technology. If you want to call it that,” Loki picked up a large piece of the armor that used to be part of the back plate. He examined it for a moment then tossed it back on top of the pile causing a loud crash. Tony winced. Then he winced again when he realized that Loki must have removed each section of his armor, leaving him in nothing but the black under armor he wore.
“You know, if you just wanted to undress me you could have asked,” Tony snarked.
“Now where is the fun in that?” Loki said with a thin smile, making Tony blink. “Or I could have let you rot on that floor.”
“I prefer not rotting,” Tony pushed himself off the wall and shuffled to the metal and wires stacked knee high on the ground. The world was spinning less which made him grateful. “Flirting aside, what am I doing here?”
Everything was ripped or bent in unfixable ways. There was lubricant oil leaked over the floor. Wires and tubes shredded where they had been ripped free. Loki had made good work of ruining every piece he had touched.
Tony tried to ignore the way Loki was peering down at him. Like a hawk looked at tasty looking rat.
“I brought you here in case Thor decided to follow,” Loki was lying. Tony couldn’t say how he knew but maybe it was just because Loki was talking.
“That’s funny because I’m sure Thor has never been able to follow you when you did your vanishing before,” Tony said, getting back to his feet and facing Loki.
Dark eyebrows leveled at Tony and Loki frowned. Good, he had been right.
“Now that I think about it, I recall you chasing after me. You were following me for a reason. What was it?” Tony asked.
Loki’s face slid back into a passive neutrality. “You think much of yourself, human.”
“It’s gotten me this far.” Tony stepped closer, making a ballsy choice to point a finger at Loki. “It’s to do with that spell. You zapped me and then you’re chasing me through New York. What did you do to me?”
The corner of Loki’s mouth quirked downward at Tony’s description of his magic. “I zapped no one. You, in your ignorance, released the spell on yourself.”
“A spell intended for Hulk. What kind of spell?” Tony demanded.
Tony should have been paying attention to the growing displeasure in Loki’s eyes. Or the feeling of offended anger boiling up in him out of nowhere but Tony knew he was close to getting some answers.
Loki swatted Tony’s finger from in front of him and frowned in a superior fashion. “A spell intended for the mind. To give me control over your Hulk’s limited capacity.”
“What?” Tony took a step back. He had gotten in the way of some kind of mind control spell? That he had stepped in front of… Was that why he had slipped into Loki’s head? Was that why the nightmares were happening?
But that didn’t make sense. If Loki had control of his mind… why would he have seen what Loki had seen?
Loki looked down at Tony in a disinterested manner. “I was going to kill you, easiest way to break the spell.”
“But you didn’t.”
Green eyes shown with delight as Loki stepped around Tony. “Why would I want to kill you when I have this,” he stabbed Tony’s temple with his finger.
Tony shook his head but felt worried that there was some truth in Loki’s words. “You can’t just take over my mind.”
“Oh no, it’s not so simple,” Loki said from behind him. Tony turned to catch is eyes over his shoulder. “The spell wasn’t quite complete when you so foolishly interrupted me. So it will take a bit of work on both our parts. Yours is more of a passive role though, I’m afraid.”
“Bullshit,” was the only thing Tony could say.
“I can feel it even now. You are frightened in a way only mortals can be. You know I speak the truth,” Loki said softly.
A chill ran up Tony’s spine and he tried to reason it away as a lucky guess.
“You can feel what I’m feeling?” Tony was tense and confused. It was a lot for his concussed brain to wrap around.
Loki’s finger returned to his temple and Tony flinched as the nail dug into his skin. “I can feel your thoughts. I can read them like I read your face. I can feel you trying to find a way to make this all untrue. Amusing how your brain works.”
The idea of Loki roaming around in his head made Tony feel cold. Exposed and defenseless.
“Is that why I could feel you getting nearer in the city?” There was a telling stillness behind him. “Is that why I could see what you saw when you were fighting Thor?”
Loki was in his face in an instant, teeth bared and he hissed, “What?”
Anger, disbelief and a wave of fear washed over Tony like a tidal wave. He knew they weren’t his feelings but he couldn’t distinguish them from himself anymore then he could stop them. This emotional journey was followed by Loki grabbing Tony by the throat in a tight grip. Tony choked out a surprised grunt as he tried to pry Loki’s fingers from his neck with no success.
“You lie!” Loki said heatedly. “You couldn’t possibly.”
“Hey--” Tony tried to swallow. “It was your spell.”
Loki stared into Tony’s eyes for a long while and Tony imagined him digging dark tendrils around in his head, looking for the truth. Then Loki’s face darkened in frustration. He released his hold on Tony, letting him drop to the floor and gasp for breath.
Tony looked up in time enough to see Loki blink out of existence, vanishing like he had many times before. It was a trick Tony was getting really sick of seeing.
It took a while for Tony to work up the strength to get up and search for a way out. He had figured it was some kind of super evil basement dungeon that Loki had sequestered. What he found out was that it was nothing more then a basement apartment in a building not far from the Stark Tower. Tony laughed, making many a passerby to stare at him as if he were at any moment going to turn on them.
Tony looked down at himself in nothing more then a black one piece that was ripped all along the arms and a couple places in the chest. Blood outlining cuts visible through the rips. He supposed he did look somewhat out of a place.
“Any of you wouldn’t happen to have a phone, would you?” he asked the small audience he had. Nobody offered one up so he let out a disappointed breath and began making his way toward the looming building he owned. All the while along his walk wondering why Loki hadn’t just killed him.