Rating: PG-13 (T) (will eventually be higher as a warning)
Warnings: Some violence
Spoilers: Contains mention of things shown/talked about in previews and interviews for The Avengers.
Word Count: 5000
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.
“Tony, all I’m trying to tell you is that you need to take it easy,” Steve‘s tone was worried. Tony rolled past him in his chair as he moved from one side of his desk to the other to check the progress of left boot propulsion diagnostic.
“I am,” Tony said absent mindedly. He’d heard this over and over since he had gotten back from being abducted by Loki. Everybody was concerned that he was straining himself. That he wasn’t recovering. Tony was glad now that he hadn’t told anybody about what he had learned in his time with Loki. Had they known that his head, his thoughts, could very well be compromised they wouldn’t have let him out of SHIELD custody. Tony shook his shoulders at the thought of being held in those barren rooms like a prisoner.
Beeping from the monitor on the other side of his desk alerted him to the sculpting of the chest plate being completed. He pushed and the chair began rolling back to where he had started from but Steve Rogers’ foot put a sudden stop to that and only quick reflexes kept Tony from sliding off of it and onto the floor.
“Tony,” Steve sounded like a dad who knew his son was lying.
“Steve,” Tony answered right back. He held up his hands, “I am taking it easy. This is me. Taking it easy.”
He smiled but telling by the lack of one on Steve’s face Tony knew he wasn’t accepting that.
“This is you working nonstop and refusing to sleep.”
“I slept earlier,” Tony argued.
“For two hours. Tony, please, this isn’t healthy,” Steve was really concerned and it made Tony feel a bit bad for him. Tony folded his arms across his chest and cocked his head up at Steve in contemplation.
“Fine. Fine,” he said. “I surrender. I’ll take a break, if only to shut you up.”
Steve gave him a relieved smile. “I don’t care why you do it, just that you do it.”
Tony side eyed Steve and laughed. “Jarvis, let current programs finish and then shut everything down.”
“Done, sir,” Jarvis’ voice filled the room.
Steve put a hand on Tony’s shoulder as they left the room side by side. “You don’t need to do all this, you know? You aren’t the only one anymore.”
“Yeah,” Tony said, finger tracing the healing cut on the top of his forehead near his hairline. Loki would have been sorry if would have had to shave for stitches. His mouth fell into a distasteful frown when he thought about Loki and Steve noticed it.
“What is it?” Now that he had the scent he wasn’t going to stop.
Oh, just Loki’s crazy magic mind meld.
“Nothing,” Tony lied and removed himself from Steve’s side. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Steve but it was hard for him to share. Well, maybe he didn’t entirely trust Steve. They hadn’t known each other that long. Despite Steve being Captain America and all of that… it was still hard. And something that could be potentially so dangerous made Tony even less eager to open up. It was his head after all.
“You’ve been hiding yourself away down here ever since your showdown with Loki. There’s something you aren’t telling me. Something happened.” Steve pushed ahead of him and blocked him physically from continuing down the hall.
Tony looked down at his feet and put his hands in his pockets. Maybe he should come clean. It was possible SHIELD had something that could reverse this. Tony admitted to himself that the thought was an optimistic one but he hadn’t come up with anything on his own yet. He had gone over it but even Loki seemed confused by what had happened with his spell. So Tony at first had tried to do nothing, fearing that maybe actively thinking about things or working on his projects would give Loki an open invitation to those things in his head. But he honestly didn’t know how it worked, maybe Loki could just pick that stuff out whenever he chose anyway. Or maybe Loki couldn’t get to it at all.
He even tried to get into Loki’s head but no matter how he tried nothing happened. No thoughts or emotions leaking into him like they had before. Tony guessed that it had to do with proximity. So maybe if Loki wasn’t near him he couldn’t get into his head either, which had encouraged Tony to get back to his work. He always thought better when he was working.
The silence that had fallen during Tony’s introspection on what he should do left Steve there worriedly frowning at him.
“Look,” Steve finally said. “I get it. You don’t want to tell me. But you need to know that you aren’t in this alone anymore. You can talk to me, Tony.”
Tony looked up at Steve and his blue sincere eyes. What a bastard to have those eyes. “I know. It’s just--”
There was an alarmed buzzing coming from Steve’s pocket, making Steve jump in surprise. He gave a shake of his head as if he were cursing in his head, god forbid he say it out loud, and reached into his pocket to pull out the small device that each of them had. It was in the shape of a credit cart, used to call them in because there was an emergency they had to take care of. Tony’s was upstairs but he was sure it wasn’t going off because Jarvis would have alerted him the moment it did. He wasn’t on active duty again, because of his recent injuries.
“Just--” Steve frowned at the device and held it out in front of himself like it were a viper. He obviously had forgotten how to turn it off. “Hold that thought, Tony. We’ll talk later.”
Tony took pity on him and picked the card out of his hand and pressed a smooth censor on the left side that shut off the noise and let HQ know you had received the alert. Then he handed it back to Steve.
“Thanks,” Steve said and shook the card at Tony, giving him another concerned friend look. “We’ll talk later.”
Then Steve turned on his heel and quickly left. Tony could hear him climbing the stairs and then the silence felt very ominous. Alone with his head again. He didn’t realize that he had been finding Steve’s company a welcome distraction.
Tony stood there for a long moment, thinking about going back to his workshop. But he decided to keep his word and do what Steve had asked.
“Must not have been important, sir,” Jarvis replied.
He made it as far as his bar before he stopped and made himself a drink. He took it to the white sofa by the window that showcased his waterside view and sat down with a tired sigh. His muscles ached. Maybe he should have listened to Steve earlier. Tony had been so determined to either work out a fix for the squatter in his head or completely avoiding it that he hadn't paid attention to the signs of his exhausted body.
Letting a smooth sip of his drink slide down his throat, Tony laid his head back against the cushion. Why hadn't he done this sooner?
Oh yeah. The dreams. The dreams had returned since his chat with Loki. Except he was starting to remember some of them. The repeated feeling of falling an endless fall. Then a stretching pain that progressed until he felt like each of his limbs were being torn away from his body.
Tony opened his eyes and wondered if Loki was having nightmares. But it seemed strange for somebody like Loki to have nightmares. He wasn't human after all. He wondered if Thor had nightmares then made a mental note to ask.
Maybe they were Loki's dreams. The normal everyday thing that made him so irritable and crazed.
Tony's thoughts lingered on Loki then. Trying once again in the only way he knew how to get into Loki's mind by thinking about him really hard. Hey, it worked in the movies. If Loki could do it then he could too. He had to be able to.
"Bet Loki doesn't have this much trouble," Tony grumbled to the ceiling and took another drink.
His mind wandered back to the dreams. Why the that same feeling over? Why falling? Always accompanied by a depressing feeling of failure. Was this what Loki felt?
Thor hadn't given up much information on his brother. And it had seemed even Thor was as surprised by Loki's actions as the rest of them were. But the fact was they had no intel on the alien sorcerer. How he got there or why he was there. Other then his plan to enslave them and all that nonsense.
Maybe somebody had thrown Loki out a window once.
Or maybe there was a lot more to the Odinson story then Thor let on. Well, there always was in a family, wasn't there.
He imagined some kind of family secret. A lie. A betrayal. Tony didn't know why his first thought went there but it seemed to make sense. Lies usually pissed people off the right amount.
A sudden image of Loki grasping a staff, hanging in the middle of space, on the other end was Thor, anchoring Loki there. An older man above him was who Loki was concerned with though. He looked sad and Loki was too. Something Tony didn't think him capable of.
Words were exchanged that Tony couldn't here but Loki's eyes were stinging with tears. Thor desperately called out but the bitter stab of loneliness and defeat would have drowned him out even if Tony could hear.
Then an idea. A choice. Stay to be unwanted and judged or take his chances with the swallowing void beneath his floating body. His decision pained him but it was an easy one. Loki let go and Thor bellowed after him.
Tony bolted upright, gasping. He wiped a tear from the corner of his eye in confusion because he didn't understand why he would be crying.
"Well, I guess it worked. Sort of."
“You would do well to never attempt that again,” Loki’s voice answered back.
Tony jumped to his feet and spun to face him, his drink spilling to the floor, glass shattering at his feet. Loki’s eyes were hard green spheres and his hands were in tight fists at his side. He was dressed down once again in his leathers of black and deep green intertwined with gold to highlight. His dark hair slicked back neatly, sliding down to end at his shoulders.
“What are you, a goddamn ninja or something?” Tony blurted out in surprise.
“I have come, Tony Stark, to propose a deal.”
“You could knock, I have doors. Or we have this thing on Earth called a telephone-- what?” Tony shook his head and blinked at Loki. “Excuse me, what? A deal? With you?”
“Yes,” Loki said simply.
Tony laughed and Loki’s lip twitched in offense. Tony felt a dangerous edge of anger slide into his head and he shut his mouth. “You can’t be serious.”
Loki moved forward and casually looked Tony up and down. “Your pathetic fumbling has made it clear we need to make haste in severing this link between us.”
So Loki could reverse this thing. Good.
“I see I hit a nerve then,” Tony said, proud of his “fumbling”.
Loki was quick, agile, and he always seemed to move quietly. The speed in which he moved to get in front of Tony startled him even knowing that. Tony took a step backward before he could stop himself.
“What you hit was a random luck. Overwhelming us both with the collection of thoughts and emotions. You are ignorant, Tony Stark,” Loki said harshly. His face was a mask of calm but Loki’s green eyes burned with anger. Tony could feel it seeping into him as well and it was hard to remember that it wasn’t his. “I do not think you would enjoy it so much if I were to do it to you.”
Tony was sure of that, “Trust me, I don’t enjoy any of this.” Loki’s features fell for an instant as he reassessed Tony. Tony should have taken that moment to shut his face. But he was angry too and he lashed out. “But that memory was anything but random. I’ve seen it before. I’ve dreamed it. I’ve felt it. I bet that memory is what this is all about, isn’t it? You’re just upse--”
He was suddenly on the ground, in the sand? Everything was a buzz and his everything was muted by the ringing in his ears but he could still hear muffled pops like gunshots. Tony looked around and remembered it was his own weapon that had done this.
Pain was stabbing through his chest like a thousand knives slicing him from the inside. Tony looked down and saw the deep red blood seeping through his shirt. He ripped the fabric open and a fear he had never felt before gripped him as he saw that the shrapnel had shot right through his bullet proof vest like it hadn’t even been there. He was going to die like this.
Tony was quickly wrenched from the memory and he gasped. Reaching down to his chest he couldn’t believe there wasn’t blood. The remnants of pain still stabbed at him and his fingers gripped into his shirt over the arc reactor. Loki had put him back into that memory. Tony seethed with having had endured that again and he turned his eyes to Loki.
Before he could retaliate his right arm extended outward and his fingers splayed wide. Tony stared at the appendage like it were something strange to him. It was moving of it’s own accord. Then his other arm mimicked the right and his arms stretched out wide. Tony was alarmed at this turn of events and he couldn’t stop the wide eyed worry as he stood there unable to move while Loki smiled at his display.
Loki hadn’t even moved. He was maneuvering Tony with his mind like Tony were a doll and he wasn’t even breaking a sweat.
“Let me go,” Tony demanded but Loki didn’t obey. He figured it was worth a shot.
“You see, now this is enjoyable,” Loki’s voice was calm with satisfaction.
Tony shook his head, “This is what I call unpleasant at best.”
“Oh?” Loki’s head tilted slightly. He looked like a curious wolf with his black hair ending in harsh lines all down the length of it.
Tony frowned as he turned and crouched to pick up a long piece of glass off the floor. He grunted when his own hand brought it up toward his neck and his head began to tilt back against his will.
“Shall I alert the others, sir?” Jarvis’ voice was beautiful. Tony felt alarm from Loki for an instant and then it was gone and so was his ability to speak. Tony opened his mouth but his plea for help was silent.
Then, “No,” were the words that came from his throat.
Tony’s mouth was his own again but he could feel Loki there, waiting for him to try to get Jarvis’ attention.
“Ok, ok! I get it. You’ve made your point,” Tony said quickly.
“Have I?” Loki asked, his voice detached. “I’m not sure I care about making points any longer. What would you say to that?”
The glass was cool against Tony’s throat but Loki didn’t press hard enough to break skin. Tony tried to fight against the hold Loki had on him but there was no response. He had no control over his body and Loki’s mind was as closed to him as when they hadn’t been linked. Tony only had his thoughts, his awareness of the situation and that it was going to be his own hand that slit his throat.
Tony, realizing he had no real way out of the situation, fell back on the old tried and tested approach.
“Go ahead then,” Tony said defiantly. “Let’s see you try or is seeing the mess you’ll make too much for you?”
Feeling a rush of indignation heat his cheeks, Tony knew he hit the right spot. He smirked for a brief moment before his body fell backward, his hand dropping the glass and shoes crushing the rest of it under foot. Tony fell to a seated position on the couch and glanced around in surprise then back to Loki.
Loki stepped closer and loomed over him. Embarrassed anger wasn’t plain on his face but it was easily felt. “It would be good for you to remember that ending your life would be quite a simple thing.”
If he could just somehow keep Loki on his toes he would be out of balance enough that Tony could feel what was going on inside that head of his. Even as the thought occurred to him Loki was hardening his defenses. Tony could feel a distant presence in his head grow smaller.
“Good, I like things simple,” Tony said. Loki’s eyes intensified with animosity and Tony could feel his disbelief. That a lowly mortal would talk back? Probably. It would be laughable if Tony weren’t currently paralyzed while the guy tried to glare a hole through his skull.
In a strange move, Loki straddled Tony and snaked a hand under his shirt. His fingers were surprising and cool against his stomach. Tony’s brain went in every direction and Loki seemed to be taking note of all of it.
“I’ve gathered from your memories that if I were to pull this mechanism out then it would lead to a very painful death for you,” Loki said softly. Tony felt long fingers trace the Arc Reactor and he wanted to squirm away but of course he couldn’t.
“Get out of my head,” Tony’s voice was harsh. He didn’t know if he was more worried over the prospect of going through the pain of having his heart ripped apart by metal or that Loki had probably gone through every one of Tony’s memories and had them all cataloged away for use later.
Loki’s eyes were drawn down to the Arc Reactor and he tapped a finger against it as he considered. “I wonder how long it will take,” he finally said. His hand gripped around the edges of the Arc Reactor and Tony would have tensed if he had control over any of his muscles.
“Not long. Let’s get it over with,” Tony said. Might as well.
Loki hesitated and his lips turned downward in a frown.
Tony smiled. “You can’t, can you?”
The insecure way Loki blinked would have been enough but the confirmation that made it past the wall in front of Loki’s mind was nice too. There was something else too, his arms were suddenly his again.
Tony reached down and grabbed Loki’s hand through his shirt. Loki’s eyes were on his with a look that reminded Tony of a kicked puppy.
“You can’t kill me,” Tony said with a laugh. “So this spell of yours made it so you can’t do anything that would kill me. In the city too?”
Loki bared his teeth angrily and pulled his hand from under Tony’s shirt and gripped his wrist in a painful hold.
“I may not be able to end your miserable existence but I can make it quite painful still,” Loki said, his fingers beginning to squeeze bone.
Tony’s face contorted in pain and he tried to pry Loki’s hand away. How was this guy so strong? Slowly Loki let his hold loosen and Tony sighed in relief.
“You need to lighten up,” Tony grumbled.
Loki’s eyebrows quirked upward in amusement and he dropped Tony’s wrist. Tony wrapped his other hand around it, nursing the bruised flesh.
Then a moment passed and Tony was sideswiped by the realization of their positions. Loki was above him, his knees on either side of Tony’s thighs like it were a perfectly reasonable place to situate yourself. Tony’s shirt was disheveled and pushed up, exposing his abdomen and one of Loki’s hands was resting casually against Tony’s side.
Loki seemed to notice where Tony’s attention was getting directed to. His expression grew puzzled.
“Does this make you uncomfortable?”
“Yes,” Tony answered quickly. “This is beyond uncomfortable.”
Truth was it was completely terrifying. Also somewhat interesting. No. Not interesting. Not at all. Tony looked back to his wrist. It wasn’t anything but bad. For some reason he had to start forcibly remembering that the only reason Loki was there was to threaten his life.
“I do not think you find it entirely objectionable,” Loki said. Tony felt a wave of delighted amusement coming from Loki.
“Get out of my head,” Tony snapped. This whole business was becoming too much.
Loki’s lips spread into a wide smile and he almost looked like some normal guy you’d pass on the street. He also looked pleased. “I am not in your head, Stark,” Loki said.
“That’s it,” Tony swatted Loki’s hands away and pushed him off. Getting to his feet he quickly put distance between himself and Loki. “You just stand over there and I’ll stand here, ok?”
The smile never left Loki’s face as he shrugged and held up his hands to show that he had no intention of closing the gap between them.
Tony ran a hand through his hair then rubbed his neck to alleviate the sudden tension there. “Why are you even here?”
Loki was feeling good about himself and Tony didn’t think that was a good thing. Loki circled around the couch and approached the window, his gaze calmly watching the trees sway in the breeze outside. “If you had allowed me to finish a sentence or if you would have stopped to think for half a minute you would know this by now.”
Tony rolled his eyes but kept silent, allowing Loki to continue.
“My intention in coming here was to offer you a way to remove this connection between us.“ Loki’s face turned and Tony could see the outline of his profile, smooth features with shadows hiding his eyes. He was a confusing combination of soft and sharp lines that Tony had never taken the time to study. “In interrupting my spell you have made it so that both of us share its’ benefits and disadvantages.”
Tony held up a hand and Loki impatiently nodded his head and closed his mouth to let Tony speak.
“So you’re telling me that I have the power to control you like you controlled me?”
Loki smiled thinly, “The power is there but whether you have the ability is another question entirely.” Loki’s inner laughter at Tony’s inability to control this spell’s power made Tony stuff his hands in his pockets bitterly. He could do it, if he just had some time and the will to sift through whatever mess was in Loki’s head.
“If you’re here to remove the spell then go ahead, I’m not going to complain,” Tony said. “I don’t like the idea of you in my head at all.”
Loki turned to face him. “Your mind would only benefit from having my influence. It is a dull thing. Though, at times it does hint at promise,” Loki said with crooked twist to his mouth.
Oh, they were back to Tony being a moron again.
“It’s funny how I’m the dull one when it was your terrible spell that put us in this situation,” Tony was possibly a little bit over Loki’s love for himself.
Tony could feel the pain of that burn and it eased his mood. Loki’s face revealed his displeasure but Tony didn’t care. It wasn’t like he had to worry about Loki throwing him out windows or stabbing him with sharp objects. At least until he reversed this spell of his.
Stepping toward Loki, Tony tapped the top of his wrist. “C’mon, let’s get this over with. You want me out of your head and I want you out of my head.”
Loki shook his head and held up a halting hand. Tony stopped then frowned at himself because he had done it on his own, it hadn’t been Loki.
“I cannot remove the spell,” Loki said.
“What?” Tony didn’t know if he should wait for a punch line or if he should punch Loki’s face. “Then what is this all about? How do we stop popping into each other’s memories like it’s a ride at Disneyland.”
“Disney--? I cannot remove the spell without your assistance, Stark,” Loki said reluctantly. “I need… I need a gem. A gem that would aid me in the process.”
“You can’t even erase your own spells?” Tony was wondering if Loki’s power as a sorcerer wasn’t wildly exaggerated by Thor and myths.
“It was never intended to be removed,” Loki said, his eyes dark with growing vexation.
“So where‘s this gem?”
Slender fingers rubbed at Loki’s chin and he seemed to be thinking over if he should continue or not. Tony could feel his mind working but he couldn’t distinguish any of the thoughts from one another. It was like looking through a window when it was pouring rain, you could see the shapes but everything was still out of focus.
Loki decided on what he should do and let his hand drop as he approached Tony. “It is in the custody of your SHIELD organization. They locked it away with all the other mysteries they do not understand.”
“And you want me to get it, am I right?” Tony wasn’t liking where this was going.
Loki nodded, his features smooth again and all indications of his earlier foul mood gone. “A red gem, the shade of blood, unique. About the size of my palm.” He held out his hand for Tony to gauge the size. The skin of Loki’s hand was lightly callused where he would have scraped it away from wielding weapons or tools, probably weapons like the staff he seemed to prefer. Or something with small grips like a knife or dagger. Tony could tell a lot from a person by what their hands looked like. Like Loki had probably never done much actual work in his life. And that Loki was a scrapper. But then he knew that already.
“I can’t steal from SHIELD,” Tony said. Loki’s fingers curled up into his palm and he lowered it back to his side. A disappointed fragment of emotion confused Tony.
“If you do not then we will remain joined. Our minds will continue to adapt to this and eventually one of us will lose the struggle,” Loki’s voice was calm as he explained. “One mind will over power the other and then both will be one.”
“You never said anything about this! This-- mind fusion,” Tony barked. He grabbed the collar of Loki’s armor and got up in his face. “One of us is going to end up brain dead?”
Loki blinked down at Tony’s offending grasp but Tony didn’t remove it. “I would be worried if I were you as well,” he said.
Tony pushed Loki away, pleased at the swell of hurt pride. Then a rush of thoughts bombarded him. Loki was frustrated with him. He wanted Tony’s help but didn’t necessarily need it and now Loki was considering the theft of the gem himself. Loki didn’t want to risk facing off with Thor. Didn’t want to risk seeing the smug look on Thor’s face. Didn’t want to hear him speak. Every thought associated with Thor was tinged with an acidic pain. It was rage, betrayal, hatred, jealousy, love and heart break wrapped into a ball of agony.
His thoughts were so fast and each blended with intricate weaves of emotions.
“Jesus Christ, stop,” Tony said, holding his head. Loki was confused for a moment before he worked out what Tony was talking about and everything in Loki’s head got shut away again as if Loki closed a lid on his thoughts. It was that simple, apparently. Tony needed to learn that trick. “You have got some baggage in there.”
Loki chest rose and fell with his heavy breaths that he sucked in through his nose. His jaw was clenched tight and his brows were pushed down low. “You will get this gem and you will bring it to me,” his voice was tight and precise.
Tony wasn’t sure how to proceed, afraid whatever he said would set off the frayed balance Loki was holding on to.
“Why don’t you just take over my head and do it,” Tony joked. It was meant as a joke. Not to be taken seriously.
“That can be arranged if it will accomplish the goal,” Loki said, not understanding that Tony in no way wanted that.
Tony quickly shook his hands in front of his chest, “No. That’s alright. I’ll--” he couldn’t believe he was doing this. “I’ll do it. I’ll get the gem. As soon as I do you break this spell.”
“You do not need to worry about that. You are not the only one who wishes to be separated,” Loki said coldly. Then he closed the space between them and looked down his nose into Tony’s eyes. “Work quickly, Tony Stark.”
Tony slowly nodded, not sure if he had made the movement or if Loki had done it for him to satisfy himself. Loki’s hand lit with a dim green glow and then he blinked out of existence. Tony took a step back in surprise. That bastard really needed to learn to use doors.
“Jarvis,” Tony called.
“I’m going to need a list of every item in SHIELD’s lock-up classified as “unknown”.”
“If found out you could be charged with a felony crim--”
“I know. Do it.”
“Being done, sir. When complete it will be on your private server. Anything else I can assist you with?”
“No.” Tony had a robbery to plan.
end of chapter 2