Humans mixed and mingled, constantly shifting between the couches and tables covered in snacks and glasses filled with bubbly golden mead. He has been on Earth for quite a while now, and yet still had to learn of those new traditions and rules or, more likely, lack of thereof, as he surely was not accustomed to this.
On Asgard, there would’ve been one humongous table in the center of the room, bursting with regales and delicacies, roasted animals and bottomless goblets of whine, and carts of fruits for those who choose to dine lightly, all wrapped in candlelight and glory. And each guest would know his place and his seat. Nobles and heroes of war close to the King, all others - further away. And in no time would anyone dare to speak out of term or bother the king with a question unless spoken to.
Here there was no order, just complete chaos.
It would have irritated him immensely- to have all those low people come and bother him with questions. But what irritated him even more was that he was not the one most of their attention was directed on.
All his golden brother had to do is come down that staircase, hair shimmering in the light and muscles flexing, and immediately everything changed, shifted back to the way it was in Asgard. Even Stark, who earlier embarked on a mission to bombard Loki with all sorts of inappropriate questions was now fully preoccupied with discussing something with the older prince. The human rendered something with his arms, which made Thor throw his head up and laugh, brawny shoulders shaking and booming voice echoing through the room.
Loki growled, itching to go there, grab the human and throw him across the room, away from Thor, make pay attention only to Loki himself.
The people gravitated around Thor like he was the sun, and all that was left for Loki was shadow.
The prince was about to give in to bitter sulking, when a familiar presence tickled his nerves and the hair on his neck stood up.
“Steve?” He whispered to himself, turning around on his heels right in time to see Captain Rogers burst into the door. The man hovered on the doorstep for a moment, a formidable silhouette against the dark stormy sky. The night air washed over Loki’s face with a cold whiff and he gulped at it in relief.
He didn’t realize the atmosphere in the hall turned suffocating so quickly.
Finally, Rogers’s eyes locked on target he was searching for.
“Loki!” A luminous smile flashed over the man’s face as he charged down the stairs.
Loki caught himself on a thought that Steve in his dramatic entrance was desperately missing a cape.
“Where were you?”
Steve ignored irritation in Loki’s question, closed the distance and caught the Asgardian in a bone crushing hug. The prince made an effort to look displeased, but couldn’t help himself and returned the gesture. The human total disregard for personal space was something Loki could get accustomed to.
“I can’t breathe.” Steve choked out with the mocking difficulty, and Loki put him back to the ground, releasing the grip.
“You know, you are heavier than you look.”
“I had a big breakfast.”
Steve’s smile went even bigger, but the corners of the eyes stayed crinkled, giving away the concern.
“I was worried.”
“About me or the city?”
“Both, actually.” Steve opened his mouth to say something, but stopped.
The prince arched an eyebrow, “I find your lack of faith in me offensive, Steven, you should know by now that I am more than able to take care of myself. “
Steve’s voice broke a little, “I know I’m just…not ready to lose any more friends.”
Loki’s smirk softened, “Well it will take more than a flying rock for you to lose me, if that’s of any consolation. “
“I’ve heard you’ve stopped it with your magic?”
“You haven’t seen the footage?”
Steve gave him an apologetic shrug, “Sorry, I had to assist the injured first, and when all was done it was time to leave. But I bet there are a lot of recordings.”
“I’m sure Stark’s discarnate butler can fetch you one.” A proud smile played on Loki’s lips while Steve furrowed his brows trying to understand the reference. The prince looked up to the ceiling to call out for Jarvis but stopped, and considered it for a second.
“Not here though, way too noisy with all those …common people. Speaking of, why such a scandalous lack of punctuality?”
Captain run his hand through the hair, looking around the room, “Ms. Lewis and Director Fury had a disagreement about your upcoming public appearance.”
“The head of SHIELD”.
Loki’s eyes lit up, “Oh. Did it get physical? I bet Lady Darcy is a nifty hair-puller.”
The prince was rewarded with a toothy grin, “Fury is bold.”
Loki’s face fell in disappointment and Steve snorted,
“I’m sure that would’ve been a show to die for. She argued it is too soon, and the world is not prepared. And you are too, not prepared.”
“I would object that a rock in the middle of this city proves that our timing is impeccable.”
“She said you have to be coached on how to deal with the politicians, eased into our diplomacy to avoid mishaps.”
“I thought she was as Lady Jane, a woman of science?”
“Political science, it turns out. “
“And you think we should seek her advice?”
Loki saw something with the corner of his eye. A young waitress was walking by them with a tray full of glasses, but her eyes were dangerously glued to Captain’s lower back. The prince waited, waited some more, and then, just as he thought,
Steve swirled back in a split of a second, neatly catching the waitress, the tray and all the shaking glasses in mid-fall, spilling almost none of the drinks.
You should look where you are going, darling, not drill holes in Steven’s arse.
Loki ogled her, unblinking, as she apologized to Steve, muttered thanks and hurried away, burning red as a fire garnet.
“What?” Steve looked completely clueless.
“You were saying?”
“Oh, right, right. Um, dealing with politicians can be tricky, and Darcy’s vision is sound, plus she has some insight into modern politics. I wish I could be of any use but I am way out of date.”
“You don’t seem too fond of your government officials.”
“I’m not. It is all intrigues and shadow playing and trickery, hidden agendas, and a whole downpour of lies and propaganda. I prefer to meet my enemy in the open battle, face to face.”
“I should treat politicians as my potential enemies then?”
Steve’s chin jerked up, “No, that’s not what I meant. It’s just…subtleties of political games and diplomacy are not among my strongest talents. Anyway, Darcy was insisting your public coming out should be postponed.”
“And Fury managed to convince her? How? Was any weaponry involved?”
“Mostly bribery. And some threatening here and there. She is to advise you on your actions.”
“Very well. My brother dearest however will require a bit of convincing.”
The pair looked to the bar in unison and Loki’s posture visibly tensed. Steve suppressed an urge to give him a pat on the shoulder- family or not, but dealing with people like Thor required immense amounts of patience. Self-centered egoistic pricks who won’t take no for an answer- yes, he had a fair share of meeting those in his lank years. Most of those meetings ended up in blood and bruises. And hissing and death glares from Bucky after he dragged Steve out of yet another rat shitted alley and cleaned up the wounds.
Steve’s heart skipped a bit and he had to try hard to swallow a cold lump in his throat, trying to keep on the stoic façade. All the fleeting joy drained out of him leaving behind only emptiness, as if it was sucked out of his heart through a straw by someone very, very hungry.
While Steve regressed into a flashback, Tony got bored of Thor’s unending boasting, detached himself from the older prince and made his way to his younger sibling.
“So, I see you traded me in for a tall muscular blond? My enigmatic personality and plasma hot charisma isn’t enough then?” Tony wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and shot Steve a sly smile, “Captain.”
Steve nodded the greeting, “Mister Stark.”
Loki folded his arms and nodded towards Thor, “Consider it retaliation, for you’ve done just the same.”
Tony leaned in towards the prince, brusquely invading his personal space, dark eyes gleaming with challenge, “Did I make you jealous?”
Loki returned the gesture and tilted his head so their eyes were on the same level, noses almost touching, “No.”
And then withdrew.
Stark grinned from ear to ear.
“But I will have you know that I do not like to share attention.”
He couldn’t explain why, but he didn’t even try to hide his irritation at Stark’s sudden deviation of interest.
Tony put an empty glass on the tray of the passing waiter and gave Loki a look full of disappointment, “So, no threesomes than?”
“What…” Loki shot a quick glance at Steve who looked just as lost in translation as the prince felt.
The Asgardian decided to shake it off, “I need to speak to my brother. Steven, I am going to request the footage from Jarvis, join me later.”
“You are planning fun, why I am not invited? In my own house?”
“Indeed, it is your house. And you have guests to entertain. Excuse me.”
Loki swayed his way through the crowd when familiar mop of dark spikey hair flashed in front of him.
The prince’s hand darted out and caught Jayjay by the elbow, making him jump in surprise.
“Hey, aw, I dropped my olive!” the man pouted, watching as the little green ball bumped off the floor and disappeared under the couch. Then he gave Loki a glance full of condemnation and extended his arm with the glass as far from the prince as length of his limb allowed, “What?”
“What is a threesome?”
Jayjay’s face went blank for a moment, eyes darting to his sides and around the room until staring back at Loki as he stood perfectly still, without even trying to wriggle his caught arm out of Loki’s grip.
“Why do you ask?”
“Stark said we won’t have this “threesome” since I don’t like to share attention. I am not familiar with this colloquialism. So?”
Jayjay took a deep breath, “Well…Oh, god, how should I put it”, the prince could swear he heard the gears in Jayjay’s mind turning.
And then the human birthed, “Threesome is a social gathering of people with the similar interests to exchange their life experiences and increase skill levels in the subject of choosing. “
Loki’s eyebrows crawled up and he turned to Javier, who appeared by Jayjay’s side out of nowhere looking as usual completely disinterested. The man wolfed down another canapé and shrugged, “That’s one way to put it.” And walked away.
Loki released Jayjay’s elbow and nodded, secretly harboring a suspicion. “Thank you.”
What is it with these humans? The longer I stay in Midgard, the weirder it gets. As if there is a pandemic of nonsense spreading around. Though Thor seems to enjoy it. May be it’s just me…
The prince made a mental note not to get distracted again and set his foot to the bar with grim determination, when Lady Jane called his name, shadowed by Lady Darcy.
He abruptly stopped and gave the women a curtesy nod, “M’ladies.”
“I was wondering…If you have time of course, could you help me with some calculations. I created an interdimensional matter transmittance formula based on the information you gave me but I have some irregularities…”
“I am afraid it will not be possible in a foreseeable future, Lady Jane, as me and my brother have to address the people of this planet and ensure a treaty first.”
She did her best to hide disappointment, but Loki still felt a sting of guilt. “If it would bring you a peace of mind, once the negotiations are concluded, you, Lady Darcy and I may engage in a threesome for as long as it is needed to satisfy your curiosity.”
Jane chocked and spilled a bubbly drink she carried in her hand, hurriedly trying to clean up the expanding droplets from the oversized Navy t-shirt she was drowning in. All while avoiding looking Loki in the eyes. Her cheeks were burning with a lovely shade of pink that was slowly creeping up into the hairline.
A cold lump of dread sank into Loki’s stomach.
Darcy gave him a long lascivious look from under half –closed eyes and smirked, “I don’t know what hit you but I am totally in!”
“What? He offered!”
The lump of dread in the prince’s stomach melted and gave way to a spark of righteous fury.
While Darcy explained in full detail what really the term meant, Loki’s eyes chased down Jayjay among the crowd. The very second Jayjay caught Loki’s eye, human’s face went into a habitual “o, shit” expression as he pushed through the crowd and escaped into the corridor.
“I am going to kill him.”
Thor continued to boom with laughter at the bar, forgotten.
“So, how do you find the new world, must be pretty different, huh?”
Steve studied Tony for a moment. He was truly Howard’s kid: same oval of the face, same pampered look, same sly half-smirk playing on the lips, even the same damn mustache.
What was it with Starks and their fixation on ridiculous facial hair?
But there was something different to him too- the dark eyes were too piercing, the web of wrinkles around them gave out worries, the tension in shoulders betrayed alertness, as if he was constantly waiting for attack.
PTSD and a ton of emotional baggage, that’s what it is.
Steve has read Tony’s file on the way to the tower- some things shouldn’t happen to good people. Like being ambushed, kidnapped and tortured. Like a father figure trying to kill you over the money.
Rogers forced out a smile,
“Well, the food is much better. No polio is good. Internet- very useful. Still no flying cars though.”
“Yeah. We compensate with other things,” Tony quirked an eyebrow and gestured to a passing by lady. Needless to say, her skirt looked more like a wide belt than an actual skirt. Steve averted his eyes and chuckled,
“Some things are a bit too much for my taste.”
“Oh, you haven’t seen nothing yet! You should go with me some time, fly to Bahamas or may be Ibiza- you’ll see that that,” – he gestured back to the girl with the glass, “Was actually a royal gown compared to what ladies wear there. Or not wear.”
Steve barely suppressed an urge to laugh, “You are so much like your father”.
“I am nothing like my father.” Tony recoiled, his tone suddenly darkening.
A shift in Tony’s mood got Steve like a sudden slap on the face.
“I don’t understand…Howard was a good man.”
“Sorry to burst your bubble, Captain, but He was a selfish prick that didn’t care about anything or anyone except for his legacy.”
“I am sure you don’t mean that.”
“Oh, I mean every word.”
Steve shifted from one foot to another, fighting growing displeasure.
“Whatever quarrel you had with your father does not make him a bad person.”
“You knew Howard for what, six months? I lived with that bastard for half of my life, you don’t know him as well as I do.”
“He was my friend …”
“Of course he was your friend, considering he made you into what you are now.”
That made Steve’s blue eyes burn with fury so cold and bright that Tony took a step back.
“He didn’t make me”
“Well I’m sure he helped a lot.”
It would be a shameless disregard for hospitality to break something in you…
Steve slowly exhaled through the nose, clenching and relaxing his fists. This has always worked; it always helped to calm him down after a fight.
Only there also was a strong arm around my shoulder…but not anymore. I have to be on my own now.
Steve’s rage expired, making room for exhaustion.
“He passed away, you should show him more respect”
“Are you going to teach me how to treat my father now?”
“If I have to.”
“Captain, can I borrow Mister Stark for a moment?”
Coulson materialized out of thin air like a jinn out of a fairy tale and dragged protesting Tony away from the Captain. Steve suddenly was alone in a crowded room, full of unfamiliar people.
Lonely in a crowd, go figure.
Well, Thor is still at the bar and I could probably go and say hi…
Captain shot a glance in direction of the older prince and immediately shook his head,
“Nah.” He muttered under his nose and set his way to the snack table. It was a long day and the food looked delicious.
You are an emotional eater, Rogers. Soon your ass won’t fit on Coney Island. Steve could hear Bucky’s mocking voice in his head, and felt his lips twitch into a smile.
“Well, Barnes, I am a stress exerciser too. So I think I’ll be just fine.”
“What is up with you two?”
“Your favorite hero is a dick, that’s what”
Coulson’s jaw was far less dramatic than Steve’s but it didn’t make him any less scary. There was something terrifying in his quiet resolution, as if he was going to lash out at any moment and smack Tony into oblivion, all without raising his voice.
“You’ve just met him.”
“One minute was more than enough.”
“I thought he was one of your childhood heroes too?”
“Yes, he didn’t live up to the legend.”
Quirk of an eyebrow, “Did you get up from the wrong foot?”
“If you furry your brows a bit more the crease will split your face in half.”
The agent all but growled, “This isn’t funny, Stark.”
And Tony snapped, “You know what? Fine, I’ll tell you what the problem is.”
He threw his glass away on the table, spilling the drink, and sprung back closer to Coulson, tensed like a taut string.
“I kept hearing how perfect he is all of my childhood! My father never stopped complimenting Roger’s inexhaustible list of virtues when he never even once told me, his own son, that I did a good job. I thought it was my fault, I was not good enough, and that I was just another disappointment.”
Stark was spitting out words with such bitterness, that Coulson shivered.
The whole situation was getting out of hand. Tony-smartass-Stark with eyes glistening as if he was on the verge of tears? Way above the level 7 agent’s pay grade.
“And then one day he told me he would switch me for Rogers in a heartbeat if he’d given a chance. Totally ruined the fan boy mood. ”
“People say nasty things in the heat of argument; many times they don’t really mean it.”
“Well, I never got a chance to ask him if he meant it, he died two days later.”
“Yes, but he still left you the element to discover, among other things.”
“He didn’t leave it to me because he loved me so much; he only left it for me because the bastard knew I would be the only one with the right technology to do the job! And now this grandpa from the forties comes over and starts singing how good of a man my father was. Not going to listen to that!”
“I am sorry you had bad relationship with your father. If you want to blow some steam off you might scream on me, even throw a couple of punches- though I might have to retaliate. But don’t involve captain Rogers.”
“He started it.”
Coulson shot Tony a stern look, “Let me put some things into perspective. We thawed him out of the ice less than three weeks ago. While you are enjoying life, surrounded by pricey toys and drowning your sorrows in obscenely expensive liquors, he is still living in the war, all while the world he knew is forever gone and all his friends and family are dead. But he had to put all that away and deal with aliens who he was sure never existed. And now some rich dude gets all snotty on him and insults his friend, a person he knew as a good man, he snaps. Anyone would. I’m just surprised all your bones are still intact. Consider this a great opportunity to learn how to behave like an adult.”
That seemed to calm Stark down a little.
“Fine. I suppose you got me there. When do I present our alien royals to the public?”
“Captain Rogers is presenting them tomorrow on the Security council meeting closed to the public. You might be invited if they need a consultant and a witness.”
“So you are giving that to that old man with love for spandex? You do realize you’ve just ruined all effect from your previous speech? It is my honestly earned right…”
“Now this is nothing more than your ego going through the roof. There is no place for feelings in it, it is politics. And you have a tendency to piss of all politicians who venture into your vicinity. I am not here to discuss this.”
Tony threw his arms apart, looking at Coulson incredulously, “Then what?!”
“We know you’ve hacked into Shield database, and Director Fury didn’t like that.”
“Director Fury can go and suck my…”
“I would be very careful with your actions; you don’t want to make him angry.”
“Is that a threat?”
“A fair warning, stop poking around into something that is none of your business. Might sleep better at night.”
“And if I don’t? What are you going to do? Send one of your pet assassins to kill me?”
“No. You are not a threat yet, more of a constant annoyance. But we still can make your life very unpleasant. Considering your long record of breaking the law.”
A melodious voice cut through the stare down like a knife through the butter. Tony was ready to throw his arms around the woman and give her a biggest hug he could. Hopefully without his arc reactor poking up her cleavage.
“Pepper, you are just in time. Agent here is threatening me with a law suit.”
“I wish it didn’t come to this. He hacked into SHIELD’s database.”
“You did what?!”
Corners of Pepper’s mouth slid downwards into a “Pout of doom”, as Stark liked to poetically call it. It usually ranged from “I am not paid enough for this” to “I will murder you in your sleep”, depending on what depths Tony’s depravity had dragged him to. Usually, the deeper he descended, the more flowers and chocolates it required to buy back Pepper’s good grace.
Tony immediately started calculating the expenses. Flowers, chocolates- dark and milk only, and no strawberries please. May be a pineapple?
“Director Fury is simply trying to keep him out of it, by any means necessary.”
Pepper straightened up and looked Coulson dead in the eye,
“Well Phil, would you please remind director Fury that if mister Stark faces a lawsuit, Stark industries will have to pull out all the financing we grant for Shield research in order to counteract the litigation expenses.”
“Yeah, what she said.”
“Tony, could you please bring me some water and aspirin?”
“I thought you‘ve taken my personal jet to Los Angeles and back, was it not comfortable enough for you?”
“Oh, it was perfect. My headache started earlier, when I spent 8 hours trying to convince the governor of California not to cancel our multibillion contract. The one you’ve publically called a poo-brained dickhead.”
“Yeah I did that..”
“Yes, you did. Now, can you get me my aspirin, please?”
Tony rolled his eyes and mouthed “Fine”, before marching away.
“Phil, what is going on?”
“I am sorry, Miss Potts, I didn’t want to involve you in this.”
Coulson offered Pepper a chair and she slid into it with a sigh of relief, “This whole situation doesn’t give me pleasure. Well, may be a little. But director Fury insists Stark stops fondling with our security systems. Most of the Shield’s secrets are best kept secret.”
“I understand. But you have to remember; when you are threatening Tony he will do just the opposite.”
“Can you suggest an alternative?”
“The only method is to keep him busy and occupied and away from the trouble. Or to ask him very nicely. I will try both, but you will have to do me a favor in return.”
“I am listening.”
“Well, as you know I have to run a company. I don’t have enough time to babysit Tony and his guests, at least not full time.”
“Yes, looks like you’ve got your hands full.”
“Indeed. So I was wondering if I could have my assistant back. Just for a while, of course. Until the situation calms down.”
Coulson beamed with a sly smile, “You wouldn’t believe it, but that’s exactly what I was thinking.”
“You are supposed to be a god of tricks and jokes for hell’s sake! I find your lack of sense of humor very concerning!”
“You should be more concerned about a forest where I will hide your body.”
Loki’s voice dropped an octave when he growled at JayJay hiding behind a sofa. The man smoothly lowered himself and disappeared completely for a moment, and then the spikey top of his head moved towards the end of the sofa and the closest escape route. Loki watched with pursed lips, then cut the way through the room and stood between the human and the door.
Jayjay looked at Loki from his crawling position and smiled,
“Uh come on, it wasn’t nearly as bad as you make it to be.”
The prince’s eyebrows made their way into hairline, “Is it not now? You’ve brought dishonor on me before… “
“Disho…No-no, what dishonor?”
Jayjay jumped upwards, “If anything you should be thanking me right now! Those are women! They won’t think any less of you, instead their motherly instinct will kick in and they will spend more time teaching you Midgardian slang and customs so that in the future assholes like myself won’t take advantage of your innocence. See, I am your wingman here, dude, I’m looking out for you.”
“I fail to see any trace of logic. Oh, wait, have you been drinking?”
“What? Hehe, no, well yes, but not that much. So, what are you going to give me for my birthday? “
“Changing the subject will do you no good.”
“I’m not changing it. We’ve established that you have nothing to be angry at me for. So the case is closed. Now, considering you are a prince and dirty rich and I am your bestie, I am expecting a lavish present.”
The Asgardian had nothing else to do but pinch the bridge of his nose in utter frustration. Whatever was happening in this Midgardian brain, it clearly defied any logic.
“Surely, I will be most generous; I’ll grant you my forgiveness.”
“No, you’ll have to do better than that. Besides, I know you won’t actually hurt me.”
“Oh, is that your gift of clairvoyance manifesting?”
“I’m just a good judge of character.”
“Is that so?”
Jay shrugged, “Yeah had to learn, and had a tough childhood.”
Loki threw his arms up in desperation, “I ...just...unbelievable.” Jayjay’s expecting stare made him pause for a second.
“If you want something lavish ask it of Stark, for I have little knowledge of Midgardian tastes.”
“Um, no, that would be inappropriate. I don’t know him that well.”
“And your acquaintance of me is most intimate.”
“Well yeah, sure. I fed you. “Jayjay beamed.
“Speaking of Stark, you know what I find the most amazing? You got all up in armor because of my little joke and yet he just openly stated he is considering have sex with you and he had an intention to have an orgy. Yet you don’t react to it or act offended.”
Loki stared into an empty space over the human for a moment, and then his face fell as he narrowed his eyes and hissed, “I haven’t thought of that.”
“Uh-uh. Anyway, I don’t want anything material. I want a wish.”
“A wish, you can do magic, right? So, grant me one wish. Like a jinn in a fairy tale- I rub the lamp and get the wish.”
“I don’t understand what lamp you are speaking of and if rubbing it is yet another one of your sultry jokes. My magic doesn’t work like that, and even if it did, I would never make lives of all beings in the galaxy depend on your whim.”
“Oh, come on!”
“I have some business to attend to. “
“No, wait, please?”
“Enough with those eyes already, you look like a drunk bar wench.”
“It was not meant as a compliment. Fine, come. You shall show me how to operate the television. And that omnipresent butler of Starks. I wish to see the footage of our flight, and show it to Steven as I promised.”
“Oo, showing off to your boyfriend?”
“He is not my boyfriend.”
“Whatever. He does have a nice butt though,” Jayjay made passes with his hands that somewhat resembled an outline of buttocks, “and those abs… I mean who wouldn’t tap that…”
Loki’s fingers caught Jayjay’s nose into a grip and pulled down, “Mind your language.”
“Ok, ok, went too far, sorry. No offence. “
“None taken. Considering you’d tap anything, as you say. Even this table.”
“Well, it is a very pretty table.” He threw himself over it and caressed the shiny surface with mock affection, “Mahogany…”
Loki rolled his eyes, “I must be cursed.”
Tony sat at the bar and drilled two holes with his eyes in a whiskey glass as the ice cubes slowly melted away into the amber liquid. He didn’t expect a night of celebration of his heroic deed to turn into such a sour mess. Getting into a fight with two super agents certainly was not in his plans. And then Pepper.
Oh, it will take a lot of effort to get back into her good graces.
That blasted one-eyed son of a bitch.
A flame of red hair behind him snapped Stark out of his reflections. Tony grinded his teeth and turned, as the Black Widow slithered into a chair next to him.
“So I was right then? Fury’s patience ran out and he sent you to get rid of me for good? How are you going to do it? Slowly and painfully? No, not your style, you are an expert of deception, aren’t you. Strangle me in my sleep? No, something more befitting your name. Oh, how about poisoning my drink?”
Natasha’s lips quirked into a smile, “What makes you think I haven’t already?”
Tony choked and pushed the glass away.
“Oh you are going to sooth-talk me? Tell me you are here for me?”
“I am not here for you; I am here because of you. So, what is wrong?”
“Fury is being a secretive manipulating dick.”
“He is doing his job. What else?”
“I bet you’ve heard America’s golden boy will be presenting the princes to the public tomorrow.”
“So, I wanted to do it.”
“Why? You never seemed like a man interested in politics.”
“Well may be I learned a lesson from my father. I want it to be my legacy, I deserve to have a legacy, don’t you think? And not the one of being constantly drunk debouchaire.”
“You’ve invented many things, I’m sure…”
“Most of which have killed thousands of people.”
Natasha tilted her head and considered Tony for a moment,
“So you think presenting aliens to the Security Council is a way to make people remember you?”
“Rogers is already an undying symbol of all the goodness, he doesn’t need another star on his spangled banner.”
“You have a distorted impression of what is going to happen tomorrow. It will not be a public show off; it will be a meeting of politicians behind closed doors. Half of them you hate and the other half you despise, and I am pretty sure the feeling is reciprocal. There will be no cameras or reporters of any kind. Your desired legacy will not leave that room, is that what you are aiming for?”
Tony frowned at her, confused, “But I thought…”
“What, that it will be like one of your science fair presentations? There will be no showing off of the princes. If the council reaches some sort of agreement, then, maybe there will be a press-conference. Most likely without the alien presence. As to your legacy, you’ve already eternalized your memory in stone. Literally. I think it is still fuming somewhere on Broadway and Canal.”
“It will be removed in couple of days. Besides, I want to create a memory. Something that will become sort of a legend…”
“Want a legend? Do what you do best. And make Asgardians participate.”
“What, you mean invent something?”
“No, Stark, throw a party.”
Natasha slid off the chair and tousled her hair, making it fall in soft waves around her face. Then she positioned herself strategically right between Tony and approaching Steve.
Tony wondered for a second if her curves would have any effect on the walking beacon of righteousness like they not so long ago had worked on him.
“Mr. Stark?” Steve looked, if nothing else, apologetic.
“I think we’ve got off the wrong foot.”
“Don’t mention it. “
“Captain, nice to finally meet you.” The woman extended her hand and shook Steve’s, making him blush.
You really need to work on that, dude. Tony watched her unleash her charms and felt an unexpected sting of jealousy.
“You are an agent of SHIELD?”
“Yes, but not today. Today I am Miss Potts’s assistant.”
“Oh, be careful, Captain, this woman is dangerous. She likes to stab people.”
That earned Tony a dirty look, “I saved your life.”
“You stabbed me in the neck.”
“I could have stabbed you in the eye.”
“Point taken. Let’s go find Loki before he breaks something.”
Steve followed Stark when Natasha’s hand gripped his upper arm, and she leaned in to whisper,
“Why so magnanimous? Tony can be a real prick sometimes, but he quickly bounces back. Don’t be afraid to put him in his place.”
“I’m not. But I might have overheard his conversation with Coulson. About his father.”
Natasha looked at Steve incredulously, “You were on the other side of the room full of people!”
“Super soldier, remember?”
“Remind me not to be around you when I’m hungry.”
“Are you two lovebirds coming or you gona be standing there gossiping about me?”
Tony pointed to the exit and waved his hand,