Disclaimer: Not mine! I make no profit from this...I really should write an original story instead.

Healing Children

Tony let out a soft moan as he slowly woke. His chest was aching, his head was throbbing, and his mind was feeling muffled and mushy. He tried to focus his thoughts on why he might be feeling this poorly; had he gone into the labs and destroyed anything or caused an explosion? Tony frowned and opened his eyes slowly when he realized that he could not remember what he had been doing last night.

He was forced to squint instead of opening his eyes fully when the slightest bit of light caused his eyes to ache. He carefully started looking around, instantly noting he did not recognize the room he was in. The walls were a deep, muted blue, almost the color of deep space. He slowly dragged his eyes up to the ceiling, noticing that it was weird and different as well. The ceiling had actually been painted, with either a dark navy blue or black color, and little pinpricks of light colors dotted across it. Was it supposed to represent the night sky?

Tony carefully scanned the ceiling and decided that the variable amount and color of the spots suggested that this was a highly detailed imitation of the night sky. So, he scanned the sky, looking for the Big Dipper or Orion's belt to support this theory, but he could not find either of them. Tony sighed and decided that, although it appeared as if it had been painted with considerable detail, there had been no intention for the ceiling to match the view of the stars from Earth.

Frowning, he slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position on the too-small bed with his careful hands. The covers were a black, and the sheets that fell off him were colored a light blue that matched well with the bright blue light coming from behind him. The light was bright, obnoxious, and it was irritating his sore eyes. So, Tony carefully turned around, ignoring the odd feeling in his chest, and looked for the light that had to be behind him.

There was no light. There was a lamp nearby him, but it was dark and obviously not the origin of the abnormal light. Frowning, because the light was really starting to hurt his eyes and his mind was still fuzzy, he carefully started to scan all around the room for the light. He froze before he had even completely turned back around as his sluggish mind noted that the light was changing direction with him, throwing different parts of the room into shadows and illumination.

Tony slowly, timidly looked down and realized that the blue light was coming out from under his shirt- and these weren't the normal jammies he wore either. He was wearing a thin, see-through T-shirt, and he slowly pulled it off, almost afraid to look for the light now. But his chest was hurting and the light was even brighter, so he carefully looked down at his now bare chest.

He stifled a little whimper at what he saw. There was a glowing blue light in his chest, inside his chest, encased in a circle of metal set into his flesh. He feels scenes flashing before his eyes: screaming, weapons like his dad's, bright lights, pain pain pain in his chest, trying not to scream, poison flowing through his veins, iron inside his body. Whimpering slightly, he raised his little hand up to his chest, slowly tracing the edge of the metal. He carefully ran his finger down the raised metal, the thing that was sticking out of his chest and digging into his chest, and he could feel it inside him and he broke.

Tony screamed his six-year-old lungs out. He screamed- his eyes hurt, his head hurt, he had something in his chest, he didn't know where he was, he couldn't even remember what had happened recently- so he wailed in anguish. His young eyes teared up, but even as he unsuccessfully tried to stop his screams, he refused to cry. His father would only scorn him more if he saw tears. His shoulders started shaking as his screams quieted down into whimpers, fingers clutching at his chest, trying to cover up the painful light.

Shaking violently, Tony tried to calm himself, but his fogged mind refused to listen to his panicked commands. Suddenly, there was an arm around his shoulders, and a hand on his head. Tony froze, not knowing who was there. He kept his eyes firmly squeezed shut –when had he closed them? - and did not move, still trying to quell his shaking.

The hand around his shoulders was loose, but it pulled him into a cool body. The hand on his head began gently running through his hair in a soothing gesture. Who was doing this? Tony carefully opened his tender eyes, withholding a small whimper of pain as he did so. All he could see was a dark shirt that his face was buried into. He could feel the soft cloth beneath his cheeks, and the firm muscle beneath that. His panicking brain managed to pull itself together long enough to predict with a 92% guarantee that the figure holding him was a male.

The man was not doing anything but holding him close and soothingly running a hand through his dark hair. The feeling of being comforted and held close was foreign to Tony. Never in his memory –and that meant never ever in his six years of life- had he remembered somebody calming him like this. So, he tentatively lifted a hand from the metal in his chest, and clutched at the man's shirt even as he repressed a new outburst.

The man shifted uncomfortably a little, but allowed Tony to grab onto his shirt with both hands, his hand steadily petting through Tony's hair. Tony's shaking stopped, but he still held onto the man with his tight fisted grip. He refused to let go of the man that was holding him close, but his brain was restarting and beginning to work again and was protesting his needing somebody. His mind was screaming at him to let go, but his heart was aching and it told him to hang onto the man for dear life. 'And sanity,' Tony added bitterly to himself.

The man's soothing motions slowed when Tony stopped shaking, but he didn't let go of the small boy. Tony heard a quiet sigh come from the man, and the hand ruffled his hair once before pulling away. Tony whimpered a little and dug his head into the man's side, and the hand returned. After a few moments of motionless silence, the man spoke. "Are you calm now?"

His voice was soft and low, a quiet interruption to Tony's frantic yet uncatchable thoughts. Tony nodded slowly, and decided to try speaking. "Wh- who are you?" he asked, his voice wavering and muffled by the fabric.

The man was silent for a moment, and pulled his hand away again. Tony silently mourned the loss, but he did nothing this time. There was another gentle sigh, but the silence continued otherwise uninterrupted. Tony did nothing, and neither did the man say anything else for several long moments. Tony almost jumped when the man actually did say something. "My name is… Loki."

Tony didn't say anything for a moment, running through his memory to see if he knew or had encountered a 'Loki' somewhere. He came up blank, except for one thing. "Like the Norse god Loki? I read about him in one of my mythology books. He was a trickster and shape-changer, right? Most scientists and theoreticians agree that he is incredibly hard to pin down and give a name to his nature..." Tony stopped talking as he noticed the man stiffening beneath him. Tony didn't want to pull away, but he looked up and away from the shirt towards the man's face.

He could see black hair, long for a guy, and a thin face. The man's –Loki's? - eyes were closed though, and Tony could only see that his face had closed off. He was afraid he had said something wrong, but he didn't move again. He relaxed marginally when the man finally opened his eyes again and looked down. "Yes…like that Loki exactly. I had not realized that you were quite so well-versed in scholarly information yet."

Tony frowned up at the man. "You think I don't know about Norse mythology when I already know how to create rudimentary computers?"

Loki's eyebrows rose slightly. "I had not realized you were accomplished for one so young."

Tony looked away, and the thing in his chest began demanding his attention once again. His gaze turned towards it without his command, and he started shaking again, his mind clouding. He bit down on his rising terror and the pathetic whimper before it could leave his throat. "What," he tried to say, but it came out as a shaky squeak. He swallowed his panic and made another attempt to speak. "What is…that?" He didn't like how shakily his voice came out, but at least he managed to put words to his fear.

"That…" the man, Loki, murmured. "That, I believe, is an arc reactor. I do not know much, but I do know that device is keeping you alive. It was already within you," here Tony accidently let out a low whine of fear, "when I found you." Loki paused and looked down at the small boy. "It is not causing you any pain, is it?"

Tony carefully sat up straight, pulling away from the man. Pushing away the unreasoning terror, he carefully examined his chest and the feelings it was giving off. "It…I don't think it's hurting me, but…" Tony shivered. "It's inside me. I can feel it in my chest. My heart keeps jostling it, and I can feel it when I move like a tight shirt. It feels a bit like when your lungs are congested, and you can feel the stuff inside it. It isn't producing any pain, but I have a glowing piece of metal in my chest! How did this happen? Why don't I remember?" he wailed, once again losing his tentative composure.

A soft sob ripped from his throat, and the hand returned to the top of his head. Tony quieted quickly this time, soothed by the calming touch. It was a very nice hand. It was cool but soft, and it made the ache inside his head dissipate. He slowly breathed in and out, focusing on the pleasant feel of the hand. Nobody ever came this close to him. No one would hug him or comfort him, and he was treasuring this newfound relief.

The soft-spoken man said nothing for a few moments, simply stroking his head, before he began to speak again. "I don't know much, but I do know a little more about your situation than I do about the miniaturized arc reactor itself. I believe you were hit by a weapon, and the shrapnel buried itself inside your chest." Tony froze and lay a hand flat against his chest, as if he could feel the tiny slivers of metal under his skin. "The device in your chest is keeping the metal shards from entering your heart. Your kidnappers, the ones responsible for the damage and the device, have since been killed. You managed to escape, but you've taken a blow to the head." Loki frowned. "Can you remember who you are?"

Tony nodded shakily. So that's why my memories messed up. "I'm Anthony Stark, son of Howard Stark of Stark Industries." He suddenly made a face, distracted by a minor concern. "Call me Tony and not Anthony. Anthony is a boy that's ignored by his dad unless he messed up again." Tony looked away, and then focused back up at the raven haired man. "Can you take me back to his house? If you can spin it right, you could probably get something from it. Maybe." Tony trailed off, before picking the thread of conversation back up. "So, where are we, anyways? The ceiling is pretty neat, but the constellations aren't right. If the dots are supposed to be stars, then the entire layout is skewed."

Loki blinked several times in apparent confusion. Tony supposed the older man wasn't entirely sure what to make of this observation or his quickly changing train of thought. Tony snuggled back into the man's side as he replied to Tony's questions. "I am…still surprised at the knowledge you show, Tony, but perhaps I should not be." Tony felt Loki's chest rise and fall as he heaved another heavy sigh.

"We are currently residing in my humble abode. This is my bedroom, and the stars…" The man trailed off slowly. Tony nuzzled into his side, not knowing why he felt so clingy to this unknown man, but indulging himself anyways. "The stars," Loki started again, "Are a reminder of the place I was reared, and one of the only memento's I allow myself."

The older man trailed off, and Tony pulled back and reexamined the ceiling. He attempted to identify the star clusters, but he eventually gave up when he couldn't find a single constellation from either the Southern or Northern hemisphere. "I give up. I can't find any of the constellations from anywhere up there." He pouted slightly as he admitted that fact. He had studied the sky because he loved flying, but he couldn't find any resemblance to the star patterns he had casually studied.

Tony caught Loki looking at him oddly from the corner of his eye, but ignored it in favor of further pouting. The stars had been precisely painted, placed, and colored, so why couldn't he place the patterns he just knew they had to be in? Loki finally let out a soft laugh. "Let's just say I'm not from around here, and that where I am from the stars are different."

Tony stared up at the man, his mind rapidly calculating the possible conclusions he could hypothesize from that statement. He decided to ask about the weirdest and option, see how the man responded, incorporate the new data. "So…is that the view from Asgard or something like that?"

Loki froze the moment the word 'Asgard' left Tony's lips. Tony gave a little mental cheer before the implications of his wild guess being accurate sank in. "Wait, seriously? I was just throwing that option out there because it would be so ironice!" Tony began to get excited, his need for new knowledge overwhelming any fear. "So, are you really that Loki, the awesome Loki from myths and stuff? Are any of the myths real or did we screw them up massively, because we humans screw everything up and misunderstand everything." Tony rolled his eyes as he spoke, showing his derision for the average human populace.

Tony jumped in surprise as Loki suddenly let out a bark of mad laughter; suddenly feeling simultaneously threatened and comforted by the others presence. "Tony Stark…" The other -man? god?- said slowly, letting the words drop from his tongue. "I think I will keep you."

Tony felt a shiver of fear and warmth run up his spine at the man's words, but the soft hand that had reappeared in his hair soothed him, telling him without words that Loki wasn't going to hurt him. Tony began to wonder if he was crazy, but just turned his aching head back into Loki's side. He buried his face into the cool shirt, and felt the adrenaline leave his system as exhaustion reared its ugly head. He managed to stay awake for another minute, still curled into the softly chuckling body, before he fell back to the bed, asleep.

}:-]

AN: Wow. I was going to make Loki angry, but he suddenly started laughing. I was probably as surprised as you were. Well, he turned out far more docile than he was aiming to be in the beginning. Reason: he is tired, almost as exhausted as little Tony, worried he messed up Tony, and already feeling a mite bit protective over the little bugger.
So, in case you could not tell, Tony is only 6 (I fixed the age confusion from the previous edition), yet he has the arc reactor. Can anyone guess what that means? …De-aging! Loki de-aged his body as it was (so it is not the body he had when he was six; just his adult body with all of its scars reduced to a six-year old Tony's development level) and Tony's memories are missing!

…Should I add in a prologue at the beginning of the chapter detailing just how that happened? Let me know and I will come up with something.

To people who know me, probably none of you yet, yes. Yes, I did just start another fic, so sue me (not literally!). I have been caught up in the Avengers and Loki for a couple of weeks now, and I just had to contribute a story. This fic is inspired by 'Attack of the Minivengers' and 'Baby Sitting Kidvengers.' Search for them on or AO3- they are amazing.
Category issue solved…but I am also accepting advice for my rather shaky title.
This is not intended to be slash. This is a paternal/friendly Loki. Unless both characters scream at me that they want to do the nasty with each other, this will not be boy/boy.

Original publish date: June 30, 2012
Last updated: September 4, 2012
Word Count w/o AN: 2,629