Something heavy started banging against the door. Tony really hoped it
wasn’t Jarvis’s head. Or Steve’s. Fury he could take or leave. Flexing his
frostbitten hands discretely, Tony glanced over as Loki’s skin began to
shift colour to the pale lines he remembered, even if they were streaked
in red. He’d heal soon enough.
“The things I endure to get you within my grasp,” Loki murmured to
himself, watching the blue as it was chased off his fingertips. “I had
thought often of killing you, Stark. Very creatively, at that. Then again, I
suppose you did warn me.”
“Warn you about what?” Tony asked tightly as Loki walked toward him,
strangely sure-footed on the frosty ground. Was this how it was going to
go, then? Kind of an anticlimactic end for him. He’d always thought
there’d be more explosions.
“That if I gave you a reason to doubt me, you would give no quarter.”
Loki stopped when he came face to face with Tony. His eyes were green
again, burning in his pale face. Bloody streaks ran down his cheeks like
tears. “I miscalculated. Underestimated you. That will never happen
The door started shuddering on its enormous hinges as Loki reached a
hand toward Tony’s throat. They weren’t going to make it in time.
“It never had to turn out like this,” Tony said, catching the hand before it
found his neck. His fingers threaded through Loki’s, ignoring the
stickiness of blood, the missing fingernails, the cracked skin. “Believe it
or not, you could have trusted me from the beginning.”
Loki was looking at their hands twined together with such a starved
bleakness in his eyes that for a moment Tony didn’t think he’d heard
what he’d said. But then he abruptly ripped his hand away, his eyes
blazing with wrath.
“Trust an Avenger?” he spat, jerking back. “Trust Iron Man? To what
end? You were a distraction, Stark, and you almost cost me everything.”
His voice turned cold. “I was better off on my own.”
It was funny how even then, with things turning out exactly like they had
that Tony still felt the dull punch of hurt at those words. All Tony had
done was try to help. That was all he’d ever done. But Loki couldn’t trust
him with the simplest truth – that he’d gotten in over his head. If Tony
had known about Amora’s ‘deal’ with Loki, if he’d had some kind of idea
that Thor might be attacked it could have all been so different.
But it was just all a distraction. A mistake.
“You’re right,” he said simply, watching Loki. “You didn’t need me. Why
would you have ever needed me? Look at you, you’ve got it all under
control.” His bark of laughter had no humour in it. “You don’t need
anyone but yourself.”
Loki took a long step back toward him, magic sparking at his fingertips
like he was preparing to strike Tony. But he was bleeding all over and
what wasn’t streaked with red was blistered and cracked, still
desperately trying to heal over the damage. Even his magic couldn’t do
two things at once, and the door was almost broken down.
In the end, revenge served cold seemed like the order of the day. Tony
held his breath and watched as Loki cursed and pulled back, the air
around his abused body gathering with light.
“Don’t think I am finished with you, Stark,” he said finally, the verdant
crackle of his magic reeking of ozone in the confined space. He was
already a breath away from teleportation. “When my business with
Amora is concluded, I will find you.”
Tony’s mouth twitched. “Honestly, I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
He watched the air around Loki tear to reveal a gaping dark wound and
wondered if he would ever see Loki again. All differences aside, he was
their only hope for Thor, even if his help was driven by grudges and
petty competition. Amora and Skurge could be formidable. They’d
proven that already.
“Good luck,” he blurted out, startling himself. Loki froze, half dissolving
as the teleportation took him. Tony made himself look him straight in the
eye before he vanished. “Don’t lose.”
Loki’s parting reply was swallowed by a screech of metal as the door
finally broke down. Then he was gone, vanished in a roar of dimensional
fire as he stepped out of existence. SHIELD agents and angry Avengers
poured into the cell but Tony barely noticed the shouting and alarms,
didn’t feel the hands running over the frostbitten palm-prints on his
skin. His entire thought process was alight with those two loaded words,
silently mouthed before he escaped the cell.
Trust me.
Asking the impossible again.
Tony felt his hands jerked behind his back, then cold metal as handcuffs
were slapped on his wrists. Somewhere, Fury barked orders to his men.
Right, the springing a prisoner thing. Federal offences and all that.
Pepper was going to give him hell for this one. But Tony knew he’d made
the right call this time, and he’d even managed to keep his own personal
issues mostly out of it. If he had to be the guy that made the tough call
for the greater good, then so be it. He’d wear the punishment this time.
As long as Loki made good on his promise to get Thor’s soul back, Tony
would put up with just about anything.
In the meantime he just had to have faith in a brother’s broken bond, a
sorcerer’s magic and a liar’s promise.
Piece of cake.
Tony figured he could stand to gamble his hopes on a fool’s chanceJust this one time.

--------------------------------<Off record> by Hella 
The Avengers 2012,

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