This was going to be a one-shot but it's really long so it'll probably end up as a two or three chapter fic instead. Big Thanks to Nessaiya for acting as a sort of beta on this.
Anyways, after writing a very different Loki for a year, I kept wondering how MCU Loki would react to my Loki.I'm assuming most people who read this will have read Finally Belonging- I'm not sure why you'd read this if you haven't. But if you haven't read that,this might be kind of confusing and strange, and it contains spoilers for that fic. So spoiler alert.
In my head, this lines up with the middle of chapter 34, so after they get back from Malibu, but before some certain guests show up at the tower.
Okay, just a warning- the MCU characters jump time when they wind up in my Finally Belonging universe. This starts out right as Thor is taking Loki back to Asgard at the end of The Avengers, but my Finally Belonging universe is set around a year and a half after the invasion. I figured they can jump time as well since a) this isn't entirely serious and is just a way to get the real Loki to cross paths with my Loki, b) they're already jumping universes, and c) this is Fanfiction and I can do whatever I want! :)
Besides, who said alternate universes can't operate on different timelines?
Since we have multiple characters with the same names from different universes (which sometimes confused me when I was writing it), when I switch POV, I'm going to state the character name and which universe they're from.
It may not be a problem with this chapter but once we start seeing both Tony's and Loki's points of view, it may be confusing.
Sorry for the long note. And now we start out with:
Surrounded by Avengers, Loki stands in Central Park, chained and muzzled like a beast. The shackles don't restrict his movement much, since their main purpose is to prevent him from using his magic, and the muzzle is to quell his silver tongue.
He turns his gaze on each of the heroes in turn. Rogers, the Captain of America, nauseatingly honorable and obedient. Romanoff, the mewling quim who thinks she'd tricked him into revealing his plan about the Hulk- it's amusing, that she thinks she'd gotten one past the God of Lies.
Stark is standing in a grey business suit rather than his Man of Iron suit and holding a briefcase that contains the Tesseract. The cube is taken out of the briefcase and placed in a cylindrical glass canister.
Loki is grudgingly impressed with Stark. His inventions are far beyond what a mortal should be able to accomplish, as is his intellect. It doesn't even come close to Loki's own intellect, of course. No mortal could match him. Although a small voice in the back of Loki's head says that's only because Loki has about a millennium more of experience, and if Stark had that time, he'd easily be equal. That they might sort of be equal already.
Stark is clearly a fellow scholar, a man of the mind, yet a warrior as well. One who uses his mind and craft to fight rather than brute strength. It's... rather like him fighting with his seidr, actually. Besides, Loki would be lying if he said he didn't like Stark's snark.
However, Loki is sure that Stark would love to see Loki suffer for throwing him out his own window.
Loki's gaze skims over Banner. His body still aches from the mindless green beast flinging him around like a useless rag doll, but there had been some good to come out of the pounding he suffered- his mind is once again his own and he's in total control again at last.
Thanos' control over his mind- which he'd succumbed to over the past year he'd spent being tortured in the hands of the Mad Titan who courts Death and the Chitauri- had disappeared after the Hulk smashed him into the floor.
As soon as he regained total control over himself, Loki had stopped fighting entirely. He was never truly interested in Midgard. It's full of petty mortals and does not even have magic- the closest thing being perhaps Stark's Man of Iron suits.
If he had truly wanted to rule, the mortals and Thor never would have had a chance at beating him. But he hadn't wanted that, he hadn't wanted any of this.
A year ago, when discovering his true heritage as a monstrous Jotun, he hadn't taken it well. That's a bit of an understatement, actually, but who, upon finding out that they're the monster they- and everybody else- have been taught their whole life to fear, hate and kill, would take the news that they are actually one of that group well?
He'd made some rather questionable decisions, he's come to realize. He'd tried to destroy all of Jotunheim, and of course it was so much worse when he did it than when Thor had done it mere days before.
Loki had always been different, more interested in books and magic than bashing people's brains out with weapons, and this caused him to be somewhat of an outcast, despite being a prince. Learning his true heritage had only cemented in his mind what he'd known all his life in the shadows of Thor's greatness- that he can never compare equally to Thor, in Odin's eyes nor anyone in Asgard. Odin would never willingly let a Frost Giant sit on the throne, even though Loki would make a far better King than Thor.
It had seemed the best option to let go of Gungnir and fall into the void. To end it all.
It hadn't ended. Far from it, actually, as he's quite alive right now, and things had gotten even worse since letting go.
He doesn't know how much of the past year had been spent in the void, and the void made time irrelevant. The void was everything and nothing, blinding darkness and deafening silence. At first, he'd talked just to hear his voice, saying whatever came to mind, reciting spells and potion ingredients, singing songs Mother had sang to him and Thor when they were children (she'd at least loved him, unlike Odin). He'd spent a lot of time bitterly reflecting over the truth of his monstrous heritage, ranting and raging to the emptiness until he lost his voice.
After he lost his voice, it was harder to block out the overwhelming silence and emptiness around him. In the nothingness, he'd seen things no one should ever see, heard things no one should ever hear and thought things no one should have to feel.
How it made him want to scream.
He'd thought the void had been a rival of Helheim, the worst that could happen to him. He'd been very wrong. When he'd landed among the Chitauri and Thanos, the constant pain he'd suffered during his time with Thanos and the Chitauri, the whispers in his ear of pathetic Jotun runt, or false princeling.
Loki turns his gaze to Barton, who, like Stark, is smirking at him with eyes behind shaded glasses. Barton certainly wants revenge, or for Loki to suffer, but Loki had only done to him what Thanos had done to him. He's betting Barton isn't going to be prosecuted, while Odin is no doubt going to come up with some horrible punishment for him.
It won't even matter if they take the muzzle off, Loki thinks bitterly. It's not like anyone will listen to him anyways. They'll think he's lying if he said his mind wasn't his owm, and probably won't even give a single passing thought to how he'd actually tried to commit suicide after the events on the Bifrost.
Thor holds out the Tesseract in its cylindrical canister for Loki to grab the other side and bring them back to Asgard. Loki doesn't want to think about what Thanos will do to him for not delivering it.
The Tesseract starts to glow and Barton glares, first at it and then at Loki. "What do you think you're doing?" He makes a move forwards, probably ready to sock Loki in the jaw or worse.
Of course, the Tesseract must have done something similar right before Loki's arrival, when he'd been in even worse shape than he is now (although nobody seems to give a thought to why he'd been pale, sweaty, shaking and barely able to stand when he'd first arrived).
What if the reason the Tesseract is acting up is because Thanos or The Other are coming to claim him? Loki's breathing catches under the muzzle in raw panic. No, it will be even worse than before when he'd been among them, and that had been long enough. He will make you long for something as sweet as pain.
"What's happening to it?" Stark asks curiously, stepping closer to the Tesseract, and Thor and Loki, when anyone with any sense would be stepping away.
Loki can't say he's not doing anything to the Tesseract, due to the blasted muzzle, and the Tesseract's blue light surrounds him, Thor, and Stark and whisks them away to who knows where. All Loki can imagine is landing back among Thanos and The Other.
(Tony- Finally Belonging)
Tony blinks as the bag of dried blueberries he'd been munching from while making a few tweaks to Jarvis' code vanishes. He's not as shocked about vanishing fruit as most people would be, though, since he does have someone with a myriad of unusual, magic-y powers living under his roof. He trades glances with Bruce, knowing it has to be Loki. Hopefully he's not panicking about using his magic, like he used to do Every. Single. Time. Not that Tony could blame him, when he'd been severely punished for it in Asgard.
The tweaks to Jarvis' code are mostly to give S.H.I.E.L.D even less of a chance if they decide to try poking around. As in Jarvis will be able to totally and utterly crush them. Well, he'd be able to anyways, but he'll be able to crush them more.
Tony's also wearing one of his Iron Man suits and testing out the updated scanners on that while he works on Jarvis.
Loki had left the lab around twenty minutes ago and hasn't come back. That's not unheard of, but he usually stays in here with Tony.
Unfortunately, since Tony is working on Jarvis, Jarvis can't actually tell Tony where Loki is. However, Tony's come up with a backup after losing track of the god on more than one occasion, and thus makes use of tracker that's sort of attached to Loki in the form of the Iron Man suit on Loki's Simba toy, which still goes with Loki everywhere.
Quickly checking his phone, Tony sees that Loki's on the floor for the Avengers' communal meetings and team recreation (though Bruce is the only one of Tony's teammates who's actually living in the tower). What Loki's doing on that floor instead of the penthouse is a mystery. Maybe he's using the pool?
Tony sighs as he heads towards the elevator to figure out what Loki's doing and get his blueberries back. The elevator drops him off on the Avengers' floor and he heads towards the kitchen.
He bursts out laughing at the sight in front of him. He had brought up having ordered pizza for dinner since he's eaten a few too many vegetarian dishes cooked by Bruce and Loki, and Loki had apparently taken it upon himself to make it. Perhaps he'd decided the wait was too long, although Tony can get anything delivered within fifteen minutes, and that's including restaurants that normally don't deliver. He is Tony Stark, after all.
From the looks of it, Loki had stacked several tortillas in a frying pan until the stack achieved the thickness of pizza crust, before drowning it in ketchup, if the smell and the empty bottle on the counter are anything to go by. On top of the ketchup is a layer of sliced cheese and some bizarre toppings, including green grapes, baby carrots, raisins, leftover spaghetti that Loki and Bruce had made last night, and the missing blueberries that Tony had been eating.
There's also a very generous amount of chocolate chips, almost as much as the rest of the toppings put together.
Standing in the center of the 'pizza' are Loki's small Timon and Pumbaa figurines, like decorations on a child's birthday cake.
Tony snatches the bag of blueberries from the countertop and Loki frowns, as he'd been reaching for it. "I was eating these, you know." Tony tells him, not pointing out that Loki had used his powers to make the bag disappear in the first place. Had he, actually? Perhaps Loki's Stitch backpack spit them out. The plush blue alien apparently summons things before spitting them into Loki's hands. Well, that feature still a result of Loki's powers, but it seems autonomous of Loki now as he never has green energy around his hands when Stitch does it.
"So, those are some... interesting toppings." Really, spaghetti on pizza? Sure, they're both Italian food (though Loki probably doesn't know that) but that doesn't mean they should be thrown together. It's like how Tony loves both alcohol and coffee, but he'd never dream of mixing them.
"They're bugs." Loki says, probably about the toppings although he could be on a totally different subject than Tony, before quoting The Lion King. "Slimy, yet satisfying!" He gestures proudly down at his creation, picking up his Simba toy, which is of course wearing its Iron Man suit. Loki brings Simba's mouth down to the scattered toppings before slurping in a spaghetti noodle himself, snickering, with the noodle dangling half out of his mouth.
"Just what I always wanted. Bug pizza." Tony says, knowing that the sarcasm will most likely fly over Loki's head. Apparently nobody in Asgard has a sense of humor because Thor's hopeless when it comes to sarcasm too. "What are the noodles, worms?"
"Tony, they're not reals bugs." Loki says this as if it's a secret worthy of S.H.I.E.L.D, before tossing a grape with a bit of ketchup still on it at him. It bounces off Tony's nose, making Loki snicker. Tony retaliates by throwing a blueberry at Loki. Of course, Loki manages to outdo him in this game and catches it in his mouth easily, but then again he has superhuman speed. Tony tosses the next blueberry to himself and catches it in his mouth.
"Hey, how come Jarvis won't talk? He never just ignores me but he is now. Dids I do something bad so he's mad at me?" Loki sulks at the first part but asks the last question with wide, worried eyes, and Tony explains that he's just debugging Jarvis a bit.
Now that he has his blueberries back, Tony heads back to the elevator to return to his lab and finish working on Jarvis, so he can get him back online. Loki follows, carrying Simba and his frying pan with the sort-of-pizza still in it. They actually have to push the button in the elevator for the lab rather than Jarvis taking them there himself, and Tony has to block the buttons so Loki won't decide to push all of them (something Jarvis ignores when he's controlling the elevator).
Once they reach the lab, Loki starts to tell Bruce all about his bug pizza as Tony types a few commands into the keyboard while simultaneously checking out a display in the HUD of his suit. Another part of the upgrade to Jarvis is to try and enhance the sensors to better pick up on Loki's magic.
Once he runs out of coffee, he heads up towards the penthouse to make some. Loki offers, but judging by the look in his eyes, he's planning on putting some crazy ingredient like tabasco sauce or something in it as a joke. Also, Tony took apart the coffee maker down here yesterday, both because he was bored and to show Loki how it worked, and he doesn't feel like putting it together again, and one of the pieces has gotten lost in the clutter that is Tony's lab anyways.
With hindsight being twenty-twenty, Tony will later realize that, of course, it's when Jarvis is offline that there's actually a security breach in his tower.
Loki's still panicked as they go through the Tesseract, because surely it's Thanos or The Other, pulling him through to the realm of the Chitauri where he'll face even more unspeakable horrors than he had before. He only vaguely notices Thor and Stark being pulled through as well, and wonders what the Mad Titan will do to them.
Loki would rather have another way to get them to understand his situation than undergoing even more torture. His breath catches in his throat as he waits for Thanos' or The Other's voice, for the cruel hands to grab ahold of him.
"Brother? Are you all right? You look ill." Thor's voice cuts through Loki's panic and, if Loki hadn't been muzzled, he would have replied with some snarky remark like Yes, of course I'm all right, Thor. Don't I look like the picture of health right now? He sends Thor a look that should communicate the same message, but whether Thor picks up on it or not is another matter entirely.
Loki realizes he's sweaty and shaking, much like he'd been when first arriving on Midgard. At least Thor seems to notice that, and is not completely clueless to his surroundings at the moment. Had Thor even noticed he was... not himself during most of the invasion? Probably not, as the oaf doesn't seem to think anything of his attempted suicide by letting go of Gungnir a year ago and falling from the Bifrost.
Loki turns his attention to his surroundings.
He is definitely not in the realm of the Chitauri, or in Asgard, for that matter.
His br- no, Thor is NOT his brother- is here as well. Here being the penthouse of the Man of Iron's tower, which isn't exactly the best place for Loki to be right now but vastly preferable to landing back among the Chitauri. Where is Stark, anyways? He's not here with them, but the Tesseract's energy had snagged him as well, so he should have been here too. Not that Loki really cares.
This place is different than when he'd last been in here mere hours ago, when confronting Stark. It's dark outside, and while it had been late afternoon when he reached out for the Tesseract, it shouldn't be this dark. Travel by the Tesseract should be instantaneous and Loki didn't feel any time pass, nor did he pass out- he would've remembered waking up.
The penthouse has somehow been restored from when the raging green monster known as the Hulk smashed Loki around like a useless rag doll. The floor shows no trace of that, not even a hint of the crater forming the shape of his abused body. How is that possible? He wouldn't put it past Stark to have the Loki-shaped crater displayed like a work of art somewhere.
Matching the bizarre lack of damage in the penthouse itself is the view from the window- which is basically a glass wall- that he'd thrown Stark out of. The window is completely intact, as if he'd never thrown Stark out in the first place. From beyond the glass, the lights of the city at night make it seem perfectly normal. There should be damaged buildings and rubble, dead Chitauri and Leviathans. There had certainly been enough damage during the fight. It can't even bee that he's missing it due to it being dark outside, as the city has thousands and thousands of lights even at night.
None of his surroundings make sense. How could the tower have been restored so quickly? Sure, Stark is one of the wealthiest men on Midgard, but that doesn't mean he can just fix things instantaneously. Loki snickers at the idea of Midgardians being able to fix things as quickly as he does with his magic, but the thrice-cursed muzzle kills the sound.
Perhaps this is some sort of illusion, and he's really not in Stark Tower? Loki hopes this is the case. He has no desire to be stuck on Midgard, where they have even more of a reason to hate him than those in Asgard, since he'd tried to take this realm over. Of course, they wouldn't believe he's coerced, either.
He would have been great for them, as their king. No longer would the mortals fight with each other when they were all bowing to him. The Midgardians obviously hadn't seen it that way.
His punishment here may very well be worse than what Odin could concoct, and the Allfather is usually creative enough with punishments. But the mortals have ample reason to hate him for what he did (even if his mind was not entirely his own).
Worst of all would be Thanos finding him again. That fate would make what the Mad Titan put him through this past year look like a tickle fight.
The cursed cuffs and muzzle effectively rob him of his two most powerful weapons and defenses- his magic and his silver-tongue. Loki wishes he could banish both restraints to Helheim where they'd be in dear Hela's tender hands.
Loki has some vivid mental images of being strapped naked to a metal table and used as a test subject for S.H.I.E.L.D, of being the Hulk's personal punching bag or a nice pincushion for Barton's arrows. Barton will certainly want to get back at him, even though Loki only did to Barton what Thanos did to him.
Loki walks towards the window a tad slower than usual. He's still not quite to rights from the Hulk's beating, thanks to the shackles preventing his magic from healing him. He almost steps on a small toy of Stark himself, an almost eerily realistic plastic figure about the length of Loki's hand, dressed in regular Midgardian clothes rather than a Man of Iron suit. There's a light in the toy's chest, mimicking the fascinating thing in the real Stark's chest. Whatever the glowing circle in Stark's chest is, it had prevented Loki from taking over Stark's mind like he had with Selvig and Barton.
Loki's lip curls in distaste under his muzzle as he looks at the toy, which is surrounded by figures of the other so-called Avengers, as well as smaller figurines of beings Loki doesn't recognize.
He notices, as well, some rather childish drawings laying on a nearby table, and his brow furrows in confusion.
Since when did Stark have a child?
He bends down to pick up the figure of Stark. If Stark has a child, he could have made that child end up without a father from when he threw Stark out the window, like how his own children have been taken from him. Loki wouldn't wish that on anyone.
However, once his hand curls around the action figure, he pauses, surprised.
While the cuffs may be locking his magic so that he can't use it, he can still feelthe magic coming off the toy, particularly the glowing white-blue circle in the chest. But how would Stark have access to magic for this? It can't be an illusion- few aside from Loki and Odin can create illusions that are actually tangible, and there's often not a reason to make tangible illusions. Most illusions are merely air, often disappearing whenever someone touches them.
Furthermore, he can feel magic in the tower as a whole. He puzzles slightly over where it's coming from. His scepter wouldn't have left this sort of residual magic, even he wouldn't have left this. Besides, it's coming from another source, and not just the action figure in his hand.
Suddenly, the toy vanishes from Loki's hands, leaving him looking at his empty hand, which is still curled as if it's holding the figure that just disappeared. Looking down, he notices the other toys have vanished as well.
It's obviously magic, but from who?
Thor doesn't seem to have noticed the toys disappearing, as his attention is focused on the Tesseract.
"Why did it take us to the Man of Iron's tower instead of Asgard?" Thor asks, frowning at the Tesseract. Loki can't answer, so he instead sends Thor a withering look. Clearly, the Tesseract had other ideas. Thor shakes the cylinder encasing the Tesseract in annoyance, as if that's a good idea.
"Brother, come here. We must return to Asgard." Thor says as the Tesseract begins to glow. Loki instead backs away, heart hammering. He'd already worried about the Tesseract returning him to Thanos before it instead dumped them here, and he certainly doesn't want to risk it again.
The Tesseract glows as Loki waits anxiously for it to do something.
Maybe Thanos is opening up a portal now. A cold sense of dread and terror fills Loki's veins. Thor doesn't comment this time, but Loki notices he's still in the tower and doesn't seem to be going anywhere, although that might be because the Tesseract has stopped glowing in its glass case.
"Brother, come here." Thor says again, but Loki just glowers at him and steps back defiantly.
Thor makes a move towards him and a scuffle breaks out. Due to being chained and muzzled, Loki is overpowered insultingly quickly. He ends up on the ground, flat on his stomach and pinning down the chain to his own cuffs. Something heavy- Mjolnir, he works out, is placed on the small of his back, effectively pinning him to the floor.
Loki struggles to get free, but to no avail. He lays there, snarling and spitting insults at Thor, until Thor stalks out of sight, shouting angrily at the Tesseract.
(Tony- Finally Belonging)
When the elevator doors open, Tony starts to walk out, only to stop dead in his tracks. In his living room is Loki, flat on his stomach on the ground with Mjolnir sitting on the small of his back, obviously pinning him down.
What the hell?! For starters, Loki's in the lab. Unless he teleported...? But that's probably not it. He doesn't teleport that often, after all, and it wouldn't explain the Mjolnir.
Okay, so maybe this is an illusion re-enacting a memory. Loki has certainly made illusions of himself often enough, mostly by accident, and he had evenmade an illusion of a knife in a nightmare once. Tony's actually somewhat surprised that sort of thing doesn't happen more often.
There's other strange things about this. The illusions of Loki mostly appear when Loki's having a nightmare or flashback, and they're almost always in the same room as the god, often only a few feet away from him. There's only been one exception, and that had been when Loki was trying to teleport from the Helicarrier and sent an illusion of himself and Hel. Furthermore, most of the illusions of seem unaware of their surroundings, and this Loki seems aware, judging from the way he watches Tony.
This Loki appears somewhat bruised and battered, like Loki had been when he'd landed on Stark Tower's roof seven weeks or so before. Tony scowls at Thor through the glass wall serving as a window overlooking the balcony and New York beyond.
Despite the bruises and being pinned to the floor, this Loki seems bigger than Loki, though a lot of that's probably all the leather and armor, making him look bulkier.
What really draws Tony's attention, though, is the metal muzzle covering this Loki's mouth. Who the hell muzzles a person?! Well, that's an easy answer, he thinks, considering Loki's past. Tony certainly wouldn't put it past the Asgardians to muzzle someone, especially given Odin sewed Loki's mouth shut for lying about something and they abused the hell out of the guy in countless other ways.
He reaches out a hand to touch it, even though Loki's illusions of himself are almost always intangible, so he knows he won't feel anything but air. There's a pretty good chance of the illusion disappearing entirely when he passes a hand through it. That used to happen all the time, but recently some illusions have stuck around even after being touched.
This Loki, however, gives Tony a look that clearly says not to touch him.
"Hey, I'm not going to hurt you." Tony says to the illusion in the same soft tone he uses with Loki when Loki's having a flashback or nightmare, although the illusions generally don't respond to what's going on around them.
Due to the muzzle, the Loki doesn't answer Tony, instead glaring down at him with sharp, intelligent, green eyes. The eyes are a far cry from Loki's, which are usually wide and somewhat glazed. It's like that one time when Loki had wound up making Tony take on his appearance so when Tony had looked in the mirror, instead of seeing himself, he'd seen Loki staring back with the eyes displaying Tony's genius.
Tony reaches out for the Mjolnir this time. Loki certainly doesn't seem to like Thor's hammer, but he doesn't seem terrified of it. He hasn't made an illusion of it before, though.
To Tony's surprise, the handle is undoubtedly solid, clanking against the metal fingers of his Iron Man gauntlet. Tony blinks and pokes the Loki-illusion itself, only to realize that it- no, he- is in fact solid as well.
Tony pulls at Mjonir, but even the added strength of his Iron Man suit doesn't so much as budge the hammer. Right. Apparently, only those who are "worthy" can lift it, although Tony wonders how Thor could be considered worthy when he abused the hell out of Loki. Granted, he seemed to be a bit better recently.
This incident's kind of ruining it, though.
"Are you real?" Tony asks the other Loki, because he certainly feels solid, at least, and most of Loki's illusions are just air. It has to be that either this guy is some super-fancy tangible illusion, or another person.
The other Loki doesn't say anything, of course, but he sends Tony a scornful look that quite clearly says Of course I am real, you imbecile.
Okay, so he's real, judging from his response and the fact he's solid, and he's not going to be muzzled for long. Tony slowly reaches around the muzzle to try to figure out a way to get it off as his mind races.
The fact that this Loki is real brings up a whole new host of questions. Is he Loki's twin? Loki's never mentioned a twin, but that had been Tony's first thought when Jarvis had shown him the footage of the illusion Loki had made on his first morning here, when Tony was out kicking ass as Iron Man.
Perhaps there's a twin from Jotunheim that Odin hadn't known about when he'd taken Loki, but then why would this guy have the same disguise of pale skin and green eyes when Loki's real Jotun form is blue with designs etched all over his skin, with red eyes to boot? There'd be no reason to disguise his Jotun form on Jotunheim.
Is this even this man's real appearance, or is he merely someone entirely different taking on Loki's image, like how Loki's turned into Tony a few times? It's a possibility that Tony won't rule out (after all, Loki has proven that shapeshifting is actually possible) but he can't imagine why anyone would disguise themselves as Loki when it seems everyone up until Tony hated his guts simply for existing.
He also wonders whether this other-Loki was abused. From his tenseness as Tony tries to remove the muzzle and the suspicious look in his eyes, Tony wouldn't be surprised if he was.
Tony grins slightly as, towards the back, he finds a mechanism he's pretty sure will unlock the muzzle. Pressing on the two clasps, it unlocks and he pulls it away from the man's face.
Thankfully, he doesn't see stitches on the man's mouth under there. It would've been pointless, of course, but, horribly, Tony wouldn't have been surprised. There is, however, a bit of blood where the muzzle had pressed into the flesh around the man's mouth.
"Were you really so desperate for someone to verbally spar with that you actually removed that?" The man snarks as his face morphs into a wide Cheshire Cat-esque grin even as he's still pinned down by Mjolnir. Tony's certainly never heard this snarky tone from Loki. Like Loki, this guy has a inexplicably British accent for someone who's not even from Earth. The voice would be the same as Loki's, except it's much smoother, sophisticated and far less innocent.
Yeah, this guy doesn't seem like Loki at all. In fact, he's most likely not just some illusion of Loki, and Tony's going to go with the theory that he's really someone else disguised as Loki. It's a lot more complicated knowing there are shape-shifters, because now Tony can't even trust his own eyes. After all, he's seen Loki change into him.
"Nah. Sparring with my reflection's probably more of a challenge." Tony quips back.
"And I'm sure you spend hours in front of the mirror every morning." The other man replies smoothly. Tony actually kind of likes snarking back and forth like this, he has to admit.
"If you were as handsome as I am, you would too." Tony says
"I see you have your suit on this time." The man smirks, to Tony's confusion. If this guy isn't some spinoff of Loki, how would he know about other times? What's the previous time he's vaguely alluding to?
"Well I am Iron Man. So, why the hell were you muzzled?" Tony fires another question back.
"Some people don't like hearing me speak. Why did you remove it?" The man's tone is neutral, but there's just a hint of suspicion in his eyes, as if he suspects Tony's going to try to get something out of him now or randomly attack him.
"If I wanted a dog to muzzle, I would've bought one. You know, I'm surprised you didn't come with a leash." Okay, so that might not have been the most most sensitive thing to say, but Tony Stark and sensitive don't belong in the same sentence (not even when talking about Loki, who Tony's gentler with than basically everyone else).
"Worry not, Man of Iron." A loud voice suddenly booms and Tony recognizes it instantly. Thor. "He cannot harm you now."
Yeah, like that was ever a concern in the first place.
Thor obviously notices the muzzle is now off this Other Loki. "The muzzle is to quell the silver tongue of-" Thor starts to say, and he actually sounds somewhat upset about the use of the muzzle. Tony's face twists in rage under his helmet. After all it's Thor's hammer pinning the guy down.
"Don't wanna hear it from you, Point Break." Thor actually shuts up when Tony snaps furiously at him. Shouldn't that get Tony a medal or something? "Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?! Do you always muzzle people like this? That's just messed up. Sure, it's not as bad as sewing someone's lips shut, but that's like saying dying in fire isn't as bad as dying in a pool of lava."Tony supposes a muzzle is almost merciful compared to shoving a needle through someone's mouth, and then he wonders if perhaps this person's mouth is sewn underneath.
It's definitely not unusual for random illusions of Loki to pop up, courtesy of the real Loki, but it is unusual for Thor to show up with them. The only illusions of other people (or animals) Loki creates are his 'monster family' consisting of Sleipnir, Fenrir, Hel and Jormungand.
If Tony had any lingering doubt about this Loki being real, it's gone now.
Tony glares at Thor, who is making his way over to the Loki that's pinned underneath his hammer. Thor can't see the glare since the suit's mask is up, but the tone travels through Tony's voice (and through the speakers of the suit) just fine. "Hey, Hammer Time, how about you get your hammer off him, huh? Wouldn't it be like, crushing him or something?" He doesn't miss how tense the other Loki is, and he's pretty sure he knows where those bruises came from.
Thor goes and lifts Mjolnir off the other Loki's back. Despite what Tony just said, it actually doesn't look like the hammer was crushing the Loki too much, which is at least something. Thor helps the other Loki to his feet and stands with a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey, Point Break, get away from him." Tony says. Thor glances at him briefly but doesn't move away.
"I said get away from him." Tony growls. Part of him is ready for a fight. He wouldn't even need the Hulkbuster suit (no, the Hulk suit, he corrects himself. How's he supposed to get Bruce to believe Hulk's not a monster if he calls a suit Hulkbuster?). He could hold his own against Thor in a normal Iron Man suit, but it had been rather satisfying being in a suit that was bigger than the thunderer, like on Halloween night.
Thor needs someone to be bigger than him, for a change. Well, there's Hulk, but it doesn't hurt to have a bigger Iron Man suit.
But rather than duking it out with Thor, he should focus on this other Loki.
Now that he's standing up, this Loki seems a lot bigger than Tony's Loki, but Tony's certain they're exactly the same height, since he only has to look up the same amount for both of them. The illusion of a difference in size is definitely helped by the armor, but also seems to be a result of this man's regal posture, whereas Loki has a habit of hunching in on himself, undoubtedly a result of his millennium of being literally beaten down in Asgard. This Loki's also missing the bouncing, rocking and flapping.
He also seems a hell of a lot more imposing.
Tony hadn't noticed the cuffs until now, too focused on the muzzle, and the chain to the cuffs had been mostly hidden when this Loki was pinned down anyways. The restraints at least don't look too bad. Rather than pinning the man's arms tightly behind his back, the chain in between them is long enough that this Loki can hold his hands shoulder-width apart. They don't seem to restrict his movement much at all, but maybe they're tormenting him internally or something. Tony certainly wouldn't put it past Asgard to make messed up shit like torture cuffs.
"Hey, Zeus, were you the one to put the cuffs on him?"
Now both Thor and the other Loki are giving him strange looks, and Thor says "Nay, Man of Iron. Although they are from Asgard, I did not physically put them on." Why does he say that like Tony should know that already?
"So how do you get them off?"
Tony doesn't have a key for the cuffs at the moment- actually, he doesn't even see a keyhole on them- so the most he can do is try to cut the chain with a laser or something, but considering the chain does basically nothing to restrict this man's movement, that might be sort of pointless. As for removing the cuffs themselves, that might require some more delicate work with a laser or a saw, and Tony has no idea whether this guy would hold still enough to not have Tony worry about slicing off his wrist from sudden movements.
"I assure you, Man of Iron, he cannot escape from them."
Before Tony can respond, the other Loki speaks up.
"So what are you going to do now that I am back in your realm, Man of Iron? Hand me over to your one-eyed Director Fury so he can shove me in another cage? I'm sure he'll experiment on me, with a side of torture." The man has an almost bored tone while examining his fingernails, as if the thought doesn't concern him in the slightest, although Tony has a feeling that's a cover-up.
"I'm not a fan of torture." Tony says, scowling, as his mind races. So this guy apparently has Loki's memories, seeing as he brought up the whole S.H.I.E.L.D fiasco with Loki winding up in the Hulk's cage after accidentally teleporting (thankfully they hadn't actually tortured Loki though). The fact he's referencing this makes it seem like this guy is some illusion of Loki, except he's tangible and seems to have a completely different personality.
This Loki just elegantly arches a skeptical brow.
"We've been over this, Loki. You don't deserve what Fury did to you, and you shouldn't be a lab rat either, no matter how impressive your powers are. You shouldn't be locked in a cage."
"I don't seem to recall you having any problem with me being in a cage before." The other Loki says with a scrutinizing look and a smirk, rather than bitter tone like the words themselves might suggest.
Tony's getting a lot of mixed symbols here. Most of Tony's brain is screaming that there's no way this is Loki, but the very specific description of the S.H.I.E.L.D incident and reference to going back to Asgard makes it seem like this is Loki, in a way. Maybe this guy is some sort of... variant of Loki, a tangible illusion. Or someone pretending to be Loki while disguised as him, though Tony can't imagine why anyone would do the latter.
"Are you kidding? Of course I had a problem with it!" Seriously, where the hell is this coming from? Tony thought they'd cleared this up with Loki. Loki had even sort of chewed out Fury, in his own way, during a video call on Tony's private jet coming back from Malibu. Evidently it's not as resolved as he thought.
"I had Jarvis make the Helicarrier's speakers play Nyan Cat on loop for hours after chewing Fury out for locking you in Hulk's cage. Which he shouldn't have held onto anyways. At least not like that."
Both alien-god-whatevers look very confused and Tony realizes Loki, as well as this Loki and Thor, probably have no idea what Nyan Cat is. Tony pulls up a holographic screen, types in a few words, and soon the holographic screen is showing the rainbow-farting cat, as the music that's bound to get stuck in anyone's head fills the air.
The other Loki stares at the screen with a hilarious expression that's a sort of disgusted horror. "Why would anybody create this abomination?!" Seriously, this guy's reaction is even better than Steve's was at first. The other Loki mutters something about Midgardians under his breath.
Thor, however, looks quite intrigued and asks "Is the feline's body made of Tarts of Pop?"
Tony shakes his head and, instead of closing the holographic window, starts finishing the tweaks on Jarvis.
"I apologize for the inconvenience, Man of Iron, but I must return my brother to Asgard." Thor booms in his loud voice, laying a hand on the other Loki's shoulder.
"Uh, no, you're not taking him back there. Ever." Tony says, pointing a finger at Thor.
"You seemed quite happy with the idea before." The Other Loki still sounds rather unconcerned, which really doesn't fit. It could just be a ruse though, not showing weakness and all that. Something Tony certainly understands.
Before Tony can go on another rant like he had with the thing about Fury, Thor says "Brother, you must-"
"You are not my brother, no matter what you claim, and Odin is notmy father! So don't even think about saying that."
"Why are you calling him 'brother' anyways?" Tony demands of Thor. "You don't deserve to be called his family after what you all did."
For a moment that's so quick Tony almost misses it, there's a look of surprise on the man's face before he adopts a completely neutral expression. Thor, however, seems to be puzzling over what exactly he means by that.
"You thirsty?" Tony asks, heading towards the bar to get a drink of his own. Obviously the muzzle prevented the other Loki from drinking, and who knows how long he'd been wearing it. "We have water, juice, hot chocolate." Loki obviously hates alcohol, and had mentioned once that people made him drink it enough to "feel funny and act even stupider." Although Tony had been more quippy with this guy earlier than he normally is with Loki, he finds himself treating him like Loki now.
"I am an adult and perfectly capable of drinking alcohol." The other Loki says before surprising Tony even more when he adds "Besides, you still owe me a drink." Tony has no idea where the hell that's coming from, but he pours this guy a scotch and slides it across the bar. The other Loki accepts it and takes a sip with surprising poise and manners. Tony gets the impression it's totally natural, like he'd been taught such things growing up in a wealthy family or royalty or something. Loki's technically a prince of Jotunheim and he'd lived sort-of with the royal family in Asgard, but he obviously wasn't treated like a prince there.
"So, what's your name?" Tony asks, after taking a sip of his own drink, enjoying the slight burn as it goes down his throat.
The other-Loki-who-isn't-Loki looks at him like he's nuts. Okay, maybe it is an odd question if he's some sort of illusion of Loki, but despite the very specific reference to the whole Hulk-cage incident with Fury on the Helicarrier, this guy really seems like someone else in Loki's body.
"Even with your limited mortal mind, Man of Iron." The guy-who-really-doesn't-seem-like-Loki-yet-referenced-a-memory says quite condescendingly. "You should be able to easily recall that my name is Loki. Honestly, why does anyone bother with this pitiful realm when you're supposedly the best it has to offer?"
Loki's still shocked by the sheer stupidity of Stark asking for his name. He would have thought it insulting if Stark was asking his name to test his memory and make sure he was coherent, but it actually seemed like Stark was truly asking as if he didn't know.
During the invasion, Loki had actually been grudgingly impressed with Stark's intelligence and his inventions. Despite being a mere mortal, Stark had seemed like one of the few beings in all the Nine Realms who might be able to keep up with, or maybe even match, Loki's own intellect (not that he'd ever admit that, of course).
Clearly, he'd judged too soon and gave the mortal far too much credit. But it's still surprising Stark had asked something that idiotic. This would be no surprise with Thor, of course, but Stark...
Then again, Stark had acted like he had something against how Fury had locked Loki up, and seemed greatly opposed to the idea of Loki being brought back to Asgard, whereas before the Tesseract brought them here, Stark had seemed almost glad to see Loki about to be hauled off there in chains to face some punishment or other.
After Loki's contemptuous reply where he actually has to supply his name for the clueless mortal, Stark stands there, studying him like he's one of the man's inventions. The Man of Iron's mask is up, revealing the man's face, and Loki wonders why there doesn't seem to be any annoyance or anger in the brown eyes. Loki had thrown Stark out a window, surely he would want revenge, or at least show his displeasure and hatred in some way. He certainly had before Loki landed here.
Instead, he's sitting here drinking with the Midgardian inventor, an enemy who had seemed to think at first that he couldn't handle alcohol. Odd, since Stark offered him a drink before when Loki broke into his tower without even once mentioning hot chocolate. Odd that he refused Thor alcohol as well.
"Yeah, no, sorry. Nice try, but you're not Loki." Stark says, much to Loki's confusion. Apparently the mortal doesn't get it. He literally just fought him. What he says next makes Loki further think Stark is either insane or has some serious memory problems (although right now it's working in his favor).
Thor seems to be confused as well, and he starts to voice that confusion, but Stark holds up a hand to silence him.
"You're different," Stark starts. What does he mean by different? Has he actually noticed the change in Loki's eye color and behavior from when the Hulk smashed him into the floor and he regained control of his mind? That would be beneficial.
However, Stark's next words don't make much sense. "Yet you say you're Loki and share some memories, plus you know my name. Well, I mean, you should because I'm me and all, but still... are you some sort of super-fancy, high-tech illusion or something? Because, you know, those are usually intangible, and-" What does the mortal inventor know about magic and illusions, Loki wonders scathingly. Perhaps he's talking about the holograms that Midgardians have instead, although those almost seem like very rudimentary magical illusions, the sort of thing Loki could do with ease as a child (his were better, of course).
Maybe Thanos had the right idea about Midgardians needing a ruler, if their 'geniuses' are apparently this moronic. Loki never cared about ruling Midgard and certainly doesn't want to now (especially given how idiotic Stark's acting now). If his oaf of a not-brother hadn't screwed up the simple task of taking him back there, he would have been one step closer to actually achieving his birthright to be King. He'd at least be in Asgard, although he'd probably need to find a way to escape from whatever cell Odin would leave him to rot in like trash.
"I am Loki, of Asgard." Loki replies, slowly, so this idiotic mortal can grasp the obvious. Honestly, why would he take these facts and jump to the conclusion of an illusion? Unless he's so deluded as to think Loki's tucked away in a cell in Asgard and is merely sending a representation of him here? But if that were the case, Loki wouldn't have sent a muzzled illusion, even if he'd been physically muzzled himself, and he certainly wouldn't have wasted the energy to make the illusion tangible.
Besides, Thor wouldn't be here if he was sending an illusion.
"Really? I thought you wanted nothing to do with them. Remember, not sending you back to that shithole?" Stark says.
"Have care how you speak of my realm, Man of Iron." Thor rumbles in a very dangerous voice. Stark doesn't seem fazed at all.
"Oh, right, I forgot abuse is perfectly okay in Ass-guard." Stark mocks.
"What are you saying we did to him, Man of Iron?" Thor questions with narrowed eyes.
"Oh, I don't know, maybe beat the shit out of him every time he used magic. And for simply existing." Stark glares right back at Thor.
"Who the hell muzzled you?" Stark asks, taking another sip of scotch. That's an idiotic question, as Stark had literally watched the S.H.I.E.L.D agents apply it. Strangely, Stark's eyes shift to Thor, as if he is the one who'd done it.
He really must be suffering from memory loss, although that plays greatly to Loki's advantage. Loki doesn't answer, Stark shouldn't even have to ask.
Why had Stark taken the muzzle off? The man hadn't seemed to have a problem with him being muzzled before, yet he's acting like he has a problem with it now.
"Honestly, this isn't even the first time this has happened." Stark rambles on inanely. "I mean, sure, last time you- or someone like you- appeared on my tower, it was on the roof instead of directly in my living room. I mean, normally you at least knock, Point Break."
Loki tries to work out what Stark had meant by last time you appeared on my tower. It makes no sense. When he'd arrived on Midgard only a few days ago, he hadn't landed anywhere near Stark's tower. He'd come through the Tesseract in a S.H.I.E.L.D base and promptly used his scepter on Barton and Selvig.
Loki stares out the window, trying to make sense of all of this. How had all evidence of the Chitauri attack disappeared so quickly? Why is Stark acting so strange? And he's still wondering about those toys.
"I did not know you were a father." Loki remarks idly, looking into his glass. If the invasion had been more successful, Stark might have ended up losing his child, like Loki himself. Although Loki's children are still alive, and some of their fates might have been worse than death.
Stark snorts into his beer. "Hell no. I am not father material. And I'm really careful, so everyone who claims their kid is mine is lying through their teeth."
"Oh, I see. So you just collect toys and have deplorable artistic skills that would easily be surpassed by a toddler." Loki remarks, and Stark smirks like he actually likes Loki's wit.
"Please, they're not that bad. And don't tell the artist that, okay?"
Before Loki can ask who the artist is, Thor interrupts.
"I thank you for your hospitality, Man of Iron, and for showing my brother kindness." Thor says after draining his glass. "After what he did to your realm, I would not blame you if you thought he did not deserve it."
"Did what to our realm?" Stark asks, seeing where he's looking. "You mean like Earth or Midgard or whatever you call it? He hasn't done anything to it."
Well, Stark's definitely lost his mind, or his memories, Loki thinks, and he can tell his not-brother is thinking along the same lines. Loki's mind whirls with possibilities. Perhaps Stark took a bad blow to the head during the battle. Or this isn't really Stark and is someone magically masquerading as him.
"The invasion...?" Thor prompts in a questioning tone, clearly put off by Stark's lack of memory. Loki glares at Thor for answering. He'd rather Stark didn't remember that, because once he does, things are going to get much worse for Loki.
"You mean the whole alien invasion with the Chitauri?" Stark asks.
Ah. So he's finally decided to bring up the elephant in the room, perhaps as a precursor to meting out revenge. Loki's hands tighten around the glass of scotch. Thor nods. "Aye."
"That was a year and a half ago, HammerTime." Stark says, eyeing Thor like he's the crazy one.
Loki fiddles with his glass, frowning thoughtfully. A year and a half?
It would explain the lack of damage in the room, but that can't be right. Traveling by the Tesseract should have been practically instantaneous, like his teleporting that he'd be able to do if he wasn't wearing these cuffs. Sure there's occasionally a time difference when traveling between realms, but the Tesseract shouldn't have made them jump any time, since they started out and ended up on Midgard, let alone a year and a half as Stark claims. Plus, wasn't Stark brought along here by the Tesseract as well?
This has to be some sort of prank, Loki tells himself, since there's no way a year and a half has passed since the attack. As for the lack of damage, he'd almost guess he was on a different floor of Stark's tower that had somehow survived untouched, except there's the huge balcony outside the window (there aren't many huge balconies on the tower, limiting the floor this can be) and the city is inexplicably intact. The view out the window could easily be an illusion, though, so that's not exactly great evidence.
"These... Chitauri came a year and a half ago?" Loki asks blandly, making it seem as if this is some new bit of information to him and he hadn't been a major player in the whole thing. It comes out quite convincingly, he's sure- after all, he is the God of Lies, but Stark already knows the truth. Thor does as well, of course, but occasionally Loki had managed to trick Thor into believing something that he knew was false.
Loki is sure that Stark's going to call him out on this question and start finally dishing out some sort of punishment for what he did.
"Yup." Stark pops the p. "They decided to try conquering what they thought was a defenseless planet." Stark smirks. "They were wrong. We kicked their asses."
Loki waits, but the man still doesn't mention him at all.
Thor glances at Loki. "Has some strange malady of memory affected you as well, brother?" Addressing Stark, he adds "I'm afraid, Anthony, that my brother caused great harm to your realm when he attempted to conquer it with the Chitauri. If it is truly a year and a half ago, as you say-"
"Wait, wait, wait." Stark makes stop motions with his hands as he does so. "You think Loki- well, not Loki, but this other Loki guy- is behind the Chitauri invasion?"
Thor frowns as if he's now thinking Stark daft as well. Which is an accurate assessment.
"Wow, okay. I know you hated his guts, but you told Fury he was harmless, remember? It was the one time you actually weren't a total ass to him, and now you're just flinging around wild accusations?"
Maybe this really is an incredibly elaborate illusion made by Thanos... No, no, Loki can't go back there. He broke enough the first time. If he went back, Thanos would surely break him irreparably this time around and he's going to be in even more pain Pain PAIN PAIN.
Loki slowly comes to his senses to realize that Thor has he's being hugged and pressed up against a very muscular frame, but in a totally platonic way. It's Thor, he realizes as his broth- no, not his brother- murmurs soft nothings in his ear. As if he hadn't just tried to take over Midgard, which Thor holds dear. Thor believes Loki did it on his own free will, too.
"Huh, you too." Stark says, looking as if he's not surprised at all to see Loki panic like that. Loki furiously tries to pull together his dignity, but it's hard when he can't escape the bear hug Thor still has him in. "Thor, if you even think about hurting him-"
"I would never hurt my brother." Thor booms, somehow managing to be gentle with his hug despite the challenging tone of his voice.
"One, he's not your brother, and two, he already looks battered. If you did that to him..." Stark trails off, and it doesn't make sense that he sounds like he's threatening Thor, before the man turns his attention to Loki. "You know, you should probably get all that looked at." Stark gestures towards Loki, and Loki would have guessed Stark was referring to the bruises- that's what it seems like he's gesturing at, anyways- except it makes no sense in this situation. Stark should want to see him injured, should want to injure him further. Why hasn't he started making Loki pay for throwing him out the window?
"Oh, I'm sure my well being is at the top of your priority list." Loki says, while not rolling his eyes. He's somewhat tempted to, though.
"Hey, the doc's my tower-mate now. He can give you a check-up." Stark says, tapping a few more times on a holographic screen before letting out a satisfied sigh. "Aaaand we are back up. How're you feeling, Jarv?" Who is Stark talking to? Perhaps he really is insane.
Suddenly, they're interrupted by a phantom with a voice that has an accent very similar to Loki's own. "Very well, sir. By the way, I thought you might like to know that there appears to be another you a couple floors down from here, who must have appeared when I was switched off. Also, sir, your pizza has arrived." The metal doors on one wall slide open, revealing a tiny room with a couple of flat, square boxes on the floor.
"What do you mean 'another me'?" Stark questions with yet another quirk of a brow. That seems to be one of the man's favorite expressions.
"Exactly what it sounds like, sir." The voice replies with a bit of a sigh.
"Like, one of Loki's illusions?" Stark asks, actually not sounding annoyed about it. Jarvis replies that it is not an illusion, and Stark frowns thoughtfully. "Maybe he turned into me when you were off?"
"No sir, he is still in the lab, eating what he claims is 'bug pizza'."
Stark laughs as Loki looks around for the source, while Thor jumps up and brandishes Mjolnir, demanding the speaker show himself, for the voice is definitely male. Clearly, somebody is invisible, perhaps an illusion-caster.
"I'm afraid I cannot do that." The voice says, both amused and apologetic- and the apologetic tone sounds completely sincere instead of mocking.
"That's just Jarvis. He's the most advanced AI there is and probably ever will be. Naturally, I'm the genius behind his creation." Stark says.
"That was much better than the first time you introduced me to him, sir." The voice- Jarvis apparently- quips. "As I recall, last time it was 'Never mind. He's just Jarvis. You don't need to know what he is.' after you failed at explaining Artificial Intelligence in a way he'd get it."
Stark snorts as he goes and gets the flat boxes from the tiny room, which Loki realizes is an elevator. They don't have them on Asgard, but he'd taken one while being escorted through the Helicarrier. Stark sets the boxes on the bar, muttering something about yeah, you really can't be him, presumably about Loki. "Jarvis, tell the others pizza is here, will you? I was gonna call 'em up anyways, because..." Tony glances at Loki significantly.
"I already did, sir. Shall I call the others up as well?" The voice replies. Stark shrugs and Loki frowns. Who are the others? The other Avengers? He doesn't like that idea, not without these cuffs on. Barton would love to dish out some revenge and stick him full of arrows. Romanoff would probably kill him, but worst of all would be-
As if on cue, Dr. Banner- the beast pretending to be a man and one of the last people Loki wants to see- emerges from the elevator.
Surely, Banner won't be suffering from the same memory problem that Stark is apparently afflicted with, which is too bad because said memory problem is really convenient. Stark, at least, doesn't seem out for revenge.
Loki still aches from the pounding the mindless green beast had given him before, and that will surely be nothing compared to what the Hulk will do to him now. Banner walks right towards him, and Loki unconsciously scrambles away, a strangled sound coming from him without his consent. Loki's too panicked to to berate himself for showing weakness. No, Banner's the worst, even worse than Barton who surely hates him for taking over his mind.
Puny god. The Hulk's voice rumbles in Loki's ear and he flinches involuntarily, waiting to be smashed around like Thor with Mjolnir. It hurt enough last time, but with the magic-blocking cuffs, there isn't much he could do against the beast. Or against Stark for that matter, short of punching him or trying to strangle him with the chain of his cuffs. The cuffs allow him more movement than most, but they limit him to physical attacks which wouldn't do much against the Hulk. Worst of all, blocked magic means slower healing.
No huge hands grab him. He's not suddenly swung through the air only to crash to the floor. Instead, he hears a voice that he eventually identifies as Banner's, not the Hulk's.
"Relax, I'm not going to hurt you." Banner says in a gentle tone like the one Stark had used at first, as if he's a frightened animal or a small child. Then again, he must look like some weak creature now. Loki's furious at himself for showing weakness and mentally berates himself as he pulls up a mask of an expressionless face. "If you don't mind, I'd like to have a look at those bruises. Someone clearly did a number on you."
Oddly enough, just like Stark, Banner doesn't once bring up the invasion or look at Loki with contempt and hatred. Although Loki can't detect even a hint of a lie when Banner says he wants to tend to his injuries, he still doesn't believe him. The idea is ridiculous, since the man's berserker form had been the one to give the injuries to him in the first place.
Thor tearfully thanks Banner for showing Loki compassion, just like Stark did. Loki's reaction is far different.
"Get away from me, beast! I do not require your assistance." Loki snarls at Banner. Provoking him probably isn't the best idea, but Loki refuses to look weak like he just had. The man puts his hands up in a peaceful gesture but Loki doesn't trust him at all. He'll probably get close, transform and use him to pound another crater in the floor, probably slamming him into the ground much more than five times this time around.
"Someone's full of sunshine." Stark quips, before asking. "What do you have against the Jolly Green Giant anyways?" If it were another situation, Loki might have cracked a smile at the most inaccurate nickname for the Hulk he's ever heard (despite the green giant part describing him pretty well).
"Perhaps I don't feel like getting pounded into the floor by the Jolly Green Giant again." Loki says dryly, not daring to take his eyes off Banner. "Stay away."
"I... I can leave, if you want. I get it. Who wants a monster around?" Banner looks down and gives a very self-deprecating, humorless chuckle. He even backs away, holding up his hands in a gesture of peace, but he does give Loki a confused look. "The other guy, uh, I mean the Hulk, never pounded you into the floor, Loki."
Perhaps Banner does not remember what he does as the Hulk. "I assure you, the beast did a number on me." Loki remarks as he gestures to his bruises.
"No. Hulk-y's not Beast!" Another invisible voice sounds out. "Not a monster either, least not a bad monster. Some monsters ares good monsters, like Sulley and Mike. And you say Beast like he's bad but he's not."
At first Loki thinks it's the voice named Jarvis speaking again (it has a similar accent) but the way it speaks is different, as is the voice itself, despite having an almost identical accent to both Loki and Jarvis. Actually it almost sounds like some twisted version of Loki's own voice.
As much as Loki knows he shouldn't divert his attention from the Banner in case he Hulks out after faking peace, he finds himself unable to focus on Banner as he looks around for the source of the voice, which is currently saying something crazy about a beast living with a bell.
The man looks just like Loki himself. They both have pale skin (though that's an illusion. Loki's monstrous Jotun form is blue-skinned), long black hair and vibrant green eyes (another illusion in Loki's case, they're really red). The man is exactly Loki's height and maybe a little skinnier than even Loki is. Wide glassy green eyes stare back at him, and while they sharpen a bit as they look at him, the eyes still look like they're focused on something nobody else can see.
They're both wearing long coats, but while Loki's is black leather with bits of armor, this man's long coat is covered in stars and would blend in perfectly with the night sky. The tackiness makes Loki's lip curl, and that's not the only oddity.
Loki's not sure if that honor goes to the the plush blue... creature hanging off his back like a satchel, or the snake necklace that reminds Loki of Jormungand. But who on earth wears clothes designed to look like the Man of Iron suit?
The man doesn't seem to stay still as he bounces on his bare feet, and his hands, with occasionally flicking fingers, are tightly clutching a toy feline clad in a Man of Iron suit and the toy action figure of Stark that disappeared earlier. At least, Loki's assuming it's the same figure of Stark, although he wouldn't put it past Stark to have multiple figures made in his image.
"My Hulk-y's not bad. He's much better 'bout smashing now." The man nods and grins at Banner before adding irrelevantly "He really likes Shrek."
Loki has no idea who this Shrek is, but the man's already jumped topics again, and Loki's fairly sure he's switched back to talking about Hulk rather than Shrek. "He only smashes the metal guys that Tony fights. Different metal guys, not my Tony's Man of Iron suits. Well, he fought Tony once, and smashed the floors and walls, but he's really nice normally. My Tony made a room for my Hulk-y that he can't even wreck much."
"Hulk-y?!" Loki repeats what the man had said with an extremely patronizing tone and an arched brow. How could anyone give the monster such a nauseatingly 'cute' nickname? Not to mention he's wrong, since the Hulk certainly smashes things other than 'metal guys', like Loki himself.
"Hulk-y, yeah! 'Cause it's fun and then he's gots two sound-things. No wrong word, not sounds, I dunno. But like To-ny, Lo-ki, Sim-ba." At the last name, the man holds up the toy feline, and Loki assumes it's named Simba. "an' El-sa Pe-pper. Jaaaaaa-rvis and Dum-E! Hey, Bruce doesn't gots two sybils- oh, that's it! Syb... syl-lab-les, not sounds! Maybe you can be Bruce-y?" The man glances at Banner and frowns, shaking his head, apparently deciding that Bruce-y doesn't work for some reason.
The man says again, glaring at Loki slightly. "He gives really good hugs and doesn't even smash as much as before."
This man is clearly some sort of imbecile, Loki thinks disparagingly, even more of an idiot than Thor. Who dares to make him look like an invalid?
If Loki was as rash as Thor, he would simply lunge at this other man stealing his appearance, grabbing him by the throat and demanding answers of who he is and why he looks like him. Okay, there's a part of Loki that wants to do that anyways, but Banner is between him and the Other Him, and he has no desire to irk the doctor's other form.
There's something even stranger about this imposter stealing his appearance (even stranger than his actual appearance) is the magic around the man. There's no way Loki could miss it, even though he's unable to reach out and examine it further with his own magic, since it's bound. In fact, he'd sensed this before the man even showed up.
"This is no time for illusions." Thor tells Loki, reaching towards his cuffs as if to ensure they're properly blocking his magic. Loki evades him.
"I am not doing anything." He replies. Considering he's wearing magic-blocking handcuffs and they went over this before with the appearance of Snoopy, it should be obvious he's not. Thor clearly doesn't believe him. Then again, Loki had lied about that countless times when pulling various pranks over the years.
"I didn't make you." The man declares suddenly, pointing at Loki with one finger. There's a pause as the man cocks his head to the side and glances at Stark. "Did I?"
"I honestly don't know, Snoopy." Stark says to the fake Loki, who's apparently named Snoopy. "You normally don't know when you make them, though, right?" Snoopy nods somewhat unsurely.
"Of course you didn't make me." Loki scoffs at the man resembling him, not sure if he's actually named Snoopy or not. After all, Stark seems to have a thing with nicknames- he'd called this man Bambi as well, and he'd called Loki Reindeer Games when they were fighting.
'Snoopy' looks somewhat confused but relieved to hear this. He transfers the toy named Simba to one arm and tosses the toy of Stark to the blue plush creature hanging from his back. The creature swallows it whole.
Thor approaches the man resembling Loki with a hand reached out, and immediately, Snoopy's eyes go wide in fear. Stark and Banner both tell Thor, in no-nonsense tones, to stay away.
Snoopy cowers a bit before narrowing his eyes slightly at Loki. "Go away." The look on the man's face makes it clear that Snoopy expects Loki to simply disappear at that. If it weren't for the cuffs, Loki could do that either by teleporting away or turning invisible and making it look like he's disappeared, but that's not an option in his current cuffed state. So it looks like he's stuck on Midgard. Wonderful.
He would have thought Stark Tower would be one of the worst places to wind up, but oddly enough it's been surprisingly lacking in hostility.
"I am a god, and you actually think to order me around?" Loki glares, daring this man to challenge him.
"I guess it is possible to have a bigger head than you." Banner mutters to Stark, who laughs. Snoopy, meanwhile, looks between Loki and Stark with a confused expression, clearly trying to compare the sizes of their heads.
Stark rolls his eyes in a manner that Loki would call fondly except the idea is ridiculous. "It's an expression, Bambi. It means you're really egotistical. Some people say I have a ridiculously overinflated ego, but it's totally justified due to how awesome I am." Banner sighs and shakes his head at the irony, but there's an amused smile he's not quite successful in hiding.
"Go 'way!" Snoopy says with his attention back on Loki. The man masquerading as some idiot version of him approaches, swinging the toy feline, Simba, at Loki. "Pounce on him, Simba!"
Loki sends a death glare warning this imbecile not to hit him with the toy in the Man of Iron suit, at the same time Stark grabs Snoopy's shoulder and says "Whoa, there, Snoopy! He's real, like, with a body and everything, so you can't get rid of him like that way."
Snoopy looks slightly panicked and abruptly stops. "Sorry! I'm not s'posed to do that. Don't hit me-I-won't-do-it-'gain-I-promise-Please-no-sorrysorrysorry's!" He says the last part in one big rush and looks, not at Loki but at Thor, with wide, fearful eyes.
All the Asgardians who'd mocked Loki by saying magic is the coward's way out of fighting should see this guy, and they wouldn't be saying anything about Loki being a coward anymore. Really, this man is just pathetic (so he's at home on Midgard). He'd get eaten alive in Asgard, no doubt.
"Why are you cowering instead of fighting like a warrior?" Thor asks tactlessly, and Stark and Banner both glare at the thunderer.
Hiding behind Stark and Banner, Snoopy peers at Loki but continues to keep a wary eye on Thor.
"You hurts around your mouth... lips." The man says suddenly. The glassy green eyes turn to the muzzle that Stark had left on the table, and the eyes widen, pupils dilating as the man's breathing speeds up drastically. He's muttering "No, no please no don't!"
Suddenly, the world around Loki melts into something else entirely, like an illusion either being formed or destroyed. The world continues to shift quickly into what seem to be several different scenes. Most of them are of this false-Loki wearing a similar muzzle in various places in the Asgardian palace, though there are a few of him wearing a gag. In most of these scenes, the false-Loki is being beaten up either by Thor and the Warriors Three, various palace guards, or Odin himself.
Due to the cuffs, Loki is unable to block or deflect this mental assault, although he highly doubts the man is broadcasting this on purpose. It's as if he's in the places instead of simply viewing them in his head, though he's able to identify they're some type of memory.
Then it changes to something so realistic that Loki honestly believes he's there.
He sees the man pinned to the floor, Odin practically sitting on his stomach as he stitches the false-Loki's lips together while Thor holds the false-Loki's head still. Thor looks slightly nauseated.
Loki can't do anything to stop the false memories from invading his mind. He can actually feel the needle being shoved through his own lips, but perhaps that's just him remembering the intense agony of when that had actually happened to him. Granted, it had been the dwarves doing it to him, as the Midgardian myths say, but the memory of the pain is still just as real.
Oddly enough, it's being manhandled into one of Thor's bear hugs that snaps Loki out of it.
If he wasn't sitting on a bar stool or being practically held by Thor, Loki would have fallen on his ass. He slumps, breathing heavily from the intensity of that flashback, until he realizes where he is and he quickly regains his composure.
Thor is mumbling in Loki's ear, asking what's wrong.
Banner looks at Loki, similarly him quietly if he's okay, as if he actually cares. Loki snarls at the man-beast to get away from him.
Loki's mind is still reeling from the memories he'd been thrust into. What were they? Lies, tricks, the sort of thing he would do? Is this man trying to trick him with this illusion? Make him think the Allfather did that to him? Why would he be, though?
The fake-Loki is still shaking and terrified, seemingly still in the flashback or whatever it was. He's curled up in a ball, and there's a snake wrapped around his torso that looks a lot like Jormungand.
The fake-Loki is being comforted by none other than Stark, who is actually hugging him and speaking in soft, reassuring tones. When in the Nine Realms did Stark get that gentle?! Loki wonders, although Stark had seemed surprisingly gentle when he was taking the muzzle off, too.
There's an additional Loki, undoubtedly another illusion. This one at least has combed hair and doesn't look as strange as the first fake-Loki, but it's still obviously mocking him, as it too is curled up in a fetal position like a coward.
Loki chuckles darkly, grin widening. "You're a clever one." He says silkily to the man disguised as him. "Trying to break me with false memories, trying to trick the God of Lies." So much like what Thanos had done, he thinks in his head.
Is this all Thanos' doing, Loki wonders? He doesn't like that idea at all as The Other's words echo in his head. He will make you long for something as sweet as pain. Loki's no stranger to pain, although his magic usually heals him up quickly. What he'd just felt was a mere fraction of what he'd gone through for some portion of the past year (he's not sure how long he'd been int the void before arriving in the clutches of Thanos, but there had only been a year between his fall from the Bifrost and the invasion of Midgard).
That pain will certainly pale even more in comparison when Thanos gets his hands on him again.
Loki's dragged back to reality yet again, this time by Stark's voice. "What? You have PTSD too?" Stark glances at the Other Loki.
It's only then that Loki realizes he's breathing heavily, almost panting. Cursing himself for displaying weakness another time, he regains control and glares at Stark.
"I am not some weakling afraid of my past." He snaps, even as the memories of Thanos' voice echo in his head. Weak, pathetic Jotun. It's not wonder they abandoned you. Nobody's looking for you... you're nothing, little prince. You were never anything to begin with.
"PTSD doesn't make you weak." Stark says sharply. Loki tries to get the memories out of his head, and seems to have at least fooled Stark.
"Ah. Of course not. That would make you weak, wouldn't it, Stark?" Loki grins as he sees his words take effect as he successfully diverts the attention. Barton had mentioned, when Loki had him under mind control, something about Stark's file saying the man had been tortured and people had said he had something called 'post-traumatic stress disorder' afterwards.
"What the hell do you mean by that?" Stark asks, eyes narrowed at Loki.
"The way you said it made it obvious it was a personal subject for you." Loki says, although Stark had actually done a somewhat decent job at hiding it- nothing capable of tricking the God of Lies, of course, but he'd probably trick most mortals, not that that's saying much. At Stark's expression, Loki smirks even more, although he wonders why the Chitauri attack still hasn't been brought up.
It would probably be best if they avoided that particular subject and Loki's involvement in it. After all, for some inexplicable reason, the two Avengers present don't seem inclined to punish him for it... nor do they seem to even remember him, in a way. It seems they only recognize him based on the fake-Loki.
"You saw what he was seeing?" Stark asks, obviously wanting to get away from the previous subject and realizing that Loki's not going to answer him. Loki doesn't deign that with an answer- of course that's what happened.
From Stark and Banner's reactions to the man's flashback, this isn't anywhere near the first time this sort of thing has happened, and if Loki were to guess, it happens frequently.
As he looks at the fake-Loki, Loki's not sure if even he would be able to pull off the terrified shaking as convincingly as this man, because it seems the man's fear is entirely genuine. As if he's actually remembering Odin sewing his lips shut and the less-extreme times he'd been muzzled or gagged. (Loki has to admit, as much as he hated the muzzle Stark had taken off him for inexplicable reasons, it had been much better than when his own lips had been sewn shut).
The fake-Loki seems to calm down slightly, and he says, confused "He turned into dwarves this time. Lots of 'em. But that never happened, nope nope nope! I never met dwarves."
Loki's eyes narrow suspiciously at the man resembling him. Had this man seen what was in his head, the way Loki had seen the false-memory? It sure seems like it, much to Loki's displeasure. He doesn't want anyone in his head ever again.
"Who are you?" He asks, well, demands, really. Is it Odin, sending an illusion to mock him? Or is it Thanos messing with his head? Perhaps all of this is one big illusion, although his surroundings certainly feel real, as did Stark's (surprisingly gentle) hands when he was removing the muzzle, and few would waste the energy to create a tangible illusion of a person, much less a tangible illusion of something as large as this room.
"Who are you." The man parrots back, although it doesn't even sound like a question when he says it. "You look like me, you do, but you're not. So prob'bly, you just made yourself look like me. Why?"
Funny, that's what Loki's been wondering about this guy the whole time whole time. The fake-Loki continues chattering inanely. "I can look like people. I'm Tony sometimes and Mowgli too. Mowgli lived with wolves. I wish I coulda lived with wolves, and horses. He's gots a snake too, 'xcept Kaa isn't nearly as nice as my Jormungand. But nobody would want to looks like me, so why do you? You're likes-" The man suddenly grabs onto Loki's hand with speed equal to Loki's own, hand striking out like a snake.
The effect is immediate. The man stops speaking abruptly, shocked, and Loki's eyes widen slightly in similar surprise. Loki had sensed magic coming from this man before, although thanks to the shackles he'd been unable to extend his own magic to examine it further.
Now, with their skin in contact, the sensation is almost overwhelming in its power as this man's magic practically flows through Loki. He'd been about to pull his hand away, disgusted when the man touched him, but he doesn't now, letting the magic flow through him, relishing it.
The magic feels exactly like Loki's own, so much so that at first he thinks the cuffs around his wrists have malfunctioned and it's his own magic flowing freely through and around him rather than being locked away in a tiny part of him. This magic is just as powerful, but it's wilder, untamed, and yet somehow timid at the same time.
Still, Loki can't shake the feeling that this is his magic. He knows, now, that this man can't be Odin sending an illusion, since Odin's magic is different. Even if Odin or Thanos were messing with Loki's mind, they wouldn't be able to do this.
As insane as it sounds, it seems the idiot man isn't an illusion, or someone masquerading as Loki to mock him and mess with his mind. As much as Loki hates to agree with Stark, he wonders if he has a twin he hadn't known about. Loki scowls slightly. Had Odin lied about this, too, like he'd lied about Loki's heritage? Or is there some twin that not even Odin knew about on Jotunheim? But this man wouldn't have the same disguise as him if he'd grown up on Jotunheim. No, if he was from Jotunheim, he'd be in his real, monstrous form with blue skin and red eyes. He'd be showcasing the form Loki wishes he didn't have himself for all to see.
The man's glassy green eyes focus slightly more as he lets go of Loki's hand. "You're like me, you gots it too, 'xcept it's all inside, not out." The... Other Him suddenly speaks again, saying something that sounds like meaningless garbage on the surface, but Loki wonders if the man's talking about their very similar magic. This Other Him certainly doesn't have his silver tongue, Loki thinks, watching the fingers bouncing around the edges of the cuffs circling his wrists.
"You mean he's got powers like you?" Stark asks, apparently used to interpreting what this man's saying, and the Other Him nods slightly. "Huh, so you can change forms and turn things into other things and make stuff float, too?" It seems Stark actually knows about this Other Him's magic, then.
"You shouldn't hit people." The Other Him blurts out randomly as if lecturing a small child.
"I don't believe you saw me hit anyone." Loki replies. While he had attacked people during the invasion, he usually attacked with some other method rather than simply hitting them, which is so brutish.
"That's why you're in troubles, right?" The Other Him looks at the cuffs before looking at him almost sympathetically. "I was, when I had cuffs on. I don't like them, not at all! They're really tight and hurting. You can't moves much if it's a short chain and sometimes I couldn't even cover my head 'n it hurt more then, but you can cover your head, right? I think you can, 'cause you gots a long chain. Lucky."
Loki demonstrates the variety of movement the cuffs allow him, trying to make them seem utterly pointless. If they seem worthless, perhaps someone will remove them and he'll get his magic back. That would be excellent.
Stark, despite seeming slightly reluctant to remove the cuffs before, seems to have changed his mind. "Yeah, those look totally pointless. I can break the chain, easy- not that it does much anyways- but it might take a bit to get the cuffs off themselves." Loki carefully keeps his face blank and innocent when he really feels like smirking. Tony Stark's actually going to remove his cuffs.
"But these ones... they're saying no, keeping it in, likes, like a cage. It's trapped and it wants to get out and be free. Let it go." Loki thinks the man might be talking about how the cuffs lock Loki's magic so he can't use it. After all, this man clearly has strong magic, too, and can probably sense it. Which doesn't exactly bode well for him.
Thor approaches the Other Loki, but he quickly flinches away and scurries behind Stark.
Thor turns his attention to Loki and asks him why he was scared like that. It's not like Loki can tell him about Thanos, though. For one thing, nobody would believe him. God of Lies, remember? Secondly, Thanos will make his life even worse if he does tell.
Loki wishes the attention wasn't on him, but the way it's diverted isn't his first choice either.
The elevator door opens and another Tony Stark emerges, rubbing a hand over his face and tiredly groaning "God, I need a drink."
He must be the other Stark the voice Jarvis had mentioned. As if one of them wasn't insufferable enough, Loki thinks.
This Stark is wearing the same grey formal suit and sunglasses that he'd been wearing when seeing Loki and Thor off. He probably is the Stark that had seen them off and apparently ended up getting snared by the Tesseract's energy as well. Which would mean that the Stark Loki and Thor had been talking to before the appearance of Bruce and the Other Loki, the Stark in the Man of Iron suit, might be telling the truth about it being a year and a half after the invasion.
The new Stark in the grey suit takes a look at his surroundings and asks "What the hell is going on?!"
So, I figured a good cut-off point would be MCU Tony showing up.
Hopefully I can get the next part of this up soon, but I'll probably be really busy and I'm horrible at juggling stories. I can't imagine this being more than two or three chapters, but I feel I should get another chapter of Finally Belonging up soon.
Hopefully you enjoyed this and I'll see you next time.