He WASN'T jealous. Just to throw that out there. Tony admitted that he was an asshole of the worst kind, and a right fucking bastard, but he firmly stood by the fact that he wasn't jealous. Because that was a load of bull. He was simply....irritated over the way things were progressing. By which he meant poorly. Very, very poorly. Tony hadn't gotten a single chance to talk to Loki all week, thanks to captain spangles. Any time he even got NEAR the trickster, there was Steve, living up to his promise to throw Tony out of the room if he didn't voluntarily leave. And those few times he had caught Loki on his own, he pulled his damn Houdini act and vanished in a puff of green magic! Drama queen.
Tony scrubbed his hands through his hair, noting the slightly greasy texture. He hadn't been eating or sleeping right since the incident, as he liked to call it, and it was definitely starting to show. There was extra scruff on his face, his eyes were slightly bloodshot, and Tony was pretty sure the t-shirt he was wearing was at least two days old. Gross. So all in all it was like any other day in the lab, except he wasn't coated in axle grease. There was also the side factor of Loki and Steve treating him like he was a walking plague. He didn't much care for that.
"Sir, may I remind you that this is considered the equivalent of stalking?" Jarvis, his loyal AI. Ha. Jarvis hadn't told him a single thing about what was going on between Loki and Steve, even though he had admitted, rather snidely, might Tony add, that he'd been fully aware of their shared breakfast meet up's every morning. How dare he hold out on him like that, the traitor. "I hate to disrupt your brooding, but Captain Rogers-"
"Mute Jarvis," Tony muttered. The AI fell blissfully silent, not that he received much peace either way. He'd heard more than enough about Captain fucking Rogers this week, thank you very much, and all of it was etched into his skull. He couldn't forget if he tried. Every time he closed his eyes Tony remembered the look on Loki's face, those green eyes swimming with tears. That's when he'd realized just how badly things were fucked up. What he'd done was--reprehensible.
So why didn't he feel guilty?
"Jarvis, pull up the feed from the living room." Tony swiped his fingers through the air, glowing blue energy forming borders for five different camera angles that popped up on the holographic screen before him. This was one of Loki's favorite rooms in the tower, since it doubled as a library, with three massive bookshelves stocked to the brim with paperbacks, leather bound tomes, manuals, encyclopedias. Everything a Norse god could want. But he wasn't in there, and Tony wasn't so much an asshole that he dared invade Loki's privacy enough to peek in his room. He had his magic set up to prevent things like that anyway. Security measures of the mistrustful; Loki could teach a class on the subject.
It was a bittersweet thought. On the one hand, thinking about Loki made his--well, everything hurt. Like a junkie denied a fix. Tony acknowledged that he only had himself to blame though, since it was his big mouth that started the whole thing. If he hadn't been such a jackass, this wouldn't have happened. That much he did feel sorry for. Maybe even guilty. The rest, not so much. Given the chance, Tony would gladly ride Steve's ass some more. He wasn't going to roll over and let the patriotic wonder sneak in on his man. Steve needed to get with the program, fast. Tony was with Loki first. Sexual or not, that gave him dibs.
....Fuck. He sounded like a spoiled brat. But it was true! He and Loki had their thing, and it was good! Great even! They were comfortable enough with each other to talk science, magic, the deep inner workings of their own minds. He was the one who'd figured out that Loki wasn't completely behind the Chitauri invasion, and out of his fucking mind after compulsions and torture alike to see he behaved. That was him! He'd gotten the god settled into the tower, helped weave him into the team dynamics. With enough prompting, each and every member met Loki on their own terms to figure stuff out.
Evidently Steve had taken the last part too far. Tony grunted and slashed at one of the video monitors, pulling up one section of footage after another. Nothing in the kitchen, nobody in the gym. Where the hell were they? Somehow he doubted they were together, if in the bedrooms. Loki was experienced, but Steve was the exact opposite, and chivalrous to boot. He wouldn't do something like that.
....Then again, he hadn't expected Steve to get all flirtatious with one resident god of mischief, so all bets were off at this point.
Tony hesitated only a split second before he flipped through all the footage to find Steve's room. Each Avenger had their own floor of the tower, plus one they shared communally, with the kitchen, rec room, gym, and a few others scattered about. Steve's was the floor directly above these, and it took no time at all for him to pull up the proper cameras. Lucky hit; there was Steve, carrying what looked like a sketchbook under his arm, and a clear bag of charcoal pencils.
"Nice to see my charity's appreciated," Tony grumbled, watching him enter the elevator. Art supplies were about the only thing Steve allowed Jarvis-and Tony-to buy for him, unless it was shared across the household, like food. Judging by the length on some of those pencils, he made good use of them. How nice. Somehow that didn't make him feel any better, considering Steve was still stepping on his turf. Wasn't this against the bro code or something? You didn't steal the other guy's lover?
A tiny voice in the back of his head pointed out that Steve wasn't technically 'stealing' anything, since he and Loki had never established anything beyond a friends with benefits relationship; Tony ignored that voice, after telling it none so kindly to fuck off. So what if he hadn't seen them do anything more than verbally flirt with each other? That wasn't the point. He saved Loki from a stint in prison! He got him set up in the tower, helped him establish a new life for himself! Dammit, that counted for something. They didn't have to be the poster boys for superhero boyfriends to be official or anything.
Feeling particularly frustrated with himself, Tony shifted back to the previous video feed and got himself a nasty little shock. There was Loki, sprawled across the couch with a book clutched in his narrow hands. Where the hell had he come from? Fucking magic. It wasn't fair. Tony wished he could teleport like that. Not the point though. This was the first time he'd seen Loki alone in nearly a week. Steve was heading to the kitchen, by the looks of things, which left Tony a window of opportunity. It was a small one, sure, but he could work with that. He had to.
"Reroute all elevator access to the other floors. I don't want anyone else getting to that floor once I'm there." It wouldn't stop the other Avengers for long, if at all. He lived with two master assassins and a man with glorious temperament issues. The most Tony could really do was head them off. And haul ass. Speaking of--Tony bounded out of his seat and hurried out of the workshop. Timed right, he could get to the living room and talk to Loki before anyone else was the wiser. Hopefully. With some luck. Plus a few tricks up his sleeve, in case it came down to desperate measures.
Luck was on his side. It took approximately one minute and sixteen seconds to get to the communal floor, and the whole time he was hoping that Loki wouldn't spontaneously decide to up and disappear. When the elevator doors locked behind him though, Tony got a clear view of the trickster, still lying on the couch and deeply engrossed in his book. No Steve in sight either. Sighing in relief, Tony dusted off his shirt and tried to look reasonably presentable before announcing his presence with a loud cough, waiting to catch Loki's eye.
He wasn't disappointed. Sort of. Loki heard him no problem, and did look over the top of his book to see where the noise had come from. Tony got one glimpse of vibrant viridian before the shutters slammed down, leaving him with a set of flat, emotionless irises in their place. Ouch. If Loki hadn't been rebuffing him the whole week, Tony might have been offended.
"Hey Lokes." He took a few steps into the room, ignoring the shiver that ran down his spine. Loki was a Norse god with magical powers, of course he was intimidating. But Tony had never let that stop him before. "Listen, you and me? We need to talk. I know you've been trying to avoid me Loki."
"Trying implies a failed effort. I'd say I've been rather successful thus far." Loki's fingers skimmed across the written text, flipping to a new page. He was acting like he didn't have a single care in the world, and the utter nonchalance of it all was enough to prickle Tony's temper something fierce. Stubborn ass. Normally that's why they got along so well, and then situations like this came up. He hated to admit it, but Loki was slightly more stubborn than he was. Only slightly. Most of the time it was barely enough to make a difference.
Watch this be the one time it did. "Yeah, well, you've had your new boyfriend to help with that," Tony scowled. "When's the anniversary? I'll get you guy's a fruit basket."
"Is that another mortal custom? Celebrating the bonds of male friendship?" Loki ignored his exasperated sigh and set the book down on his lap, carefully marking the page with his finger. "Don't look at me that way, Anthony. I know what you meant. But it hardly matters, since not a single word out of your mouth thus far has been anything I wish to hear. Until you decide to behave like a man and not the spoiled child you've been mimicking this entire week, I want nothing to do with you."
"Even if I'm trying to apologize?" Inching closer to the couch, Tony perched on the armrest and stared down at his lover. "C'mon Loki, give me a chance."
"Why should I? I'm hardly indebted to you. Whatever charity you've bestowed upon me has been repaid thrice fold since I joined your little team of heroes." Loki ignored his protests and swung his legs off the couch. "Apologies mean little when they're spoken blindly. Do you even have the slightest idea why I'm angry with you, Anthony? For that matter, why do you think you should be apologizing, hm?"
That sounded like a trick question. "I...was an ass." He sounded way more hesitant than he'd meant to, quickly rewording himself. "No, ok, I was definitely an ass. And I'm sorry! You didn't deserve all that--the way I treated you." Grimacing, Tony rubbed the back of his neck, now regretting his stint of no showers and nights sleeping in grease and gears. He probably looked like a train wreck. That wasn't going to win him any brownie points. "If it's any consolation, I've been beating myself up over it all week."
"Yes...I can see that." Loki's gaze swiveled across him, taking in his ragged appearance. "How awful it must have been, spending day after day in your workshop, with only your precious machines and tools to keep you company. Tell me, Anthony, however did you manage?"
Tony frowned. If there was any question as to whether or not Loki was still angry with him, that settled it. His words cut to the bone, shattering like fragile glass and lodging themselves inside the wounds. "You accuse me of acting like a child, but then you go and say things like that? Way to be a hypocrite Lokes. Can we just--stop arguing for five seconds and talk to one another? Please? I'm trying here."
The hitched eyebrow Loki offered was equal parts disbelieving and mistrustful. "If this is you trying, then I might be afraid to see any real effort on your part." He left the couch and made towards the elevator, snapping over his shoulder. "I've no time for false pleasantries, Anthony. You have no idea why I'm owed an apology, which says more than enough about how meaningful it would have been in the first place. Figure it out. Then I might be willing to listen to you."
No, Loki was going to listen to him now. Tony didn't bother going after him, waiting patiently by the couch. When the elevator didn't open, and all of his commands went unheeded, the trickster whirled around and snarled at him, fire melting his eyes to limpid emerald pools. Nothing he hadn't seen before; Tony took it in stride, parrying Loki's scowl with a shrug. "I said I wanted to talk to you. Can't really do that if you're running out the door."
"You..." Loki drew a sharp breath in through his teeth, bared in a smile that promised nothing but pain. "You would dare...?" One hand clenched at his side, the fingers twitching, ever so slightly sparking with green at the tips. "Clever, Anthony. Very clever. But you know that won't keep me here. What's to stop me from simply teleporting away? Unless you have a means by which to muffle my seidr-"
"Yeah, about that." He'd been saving this as a last resort, because that's all it was intended for. Thor had left it in their care before he returned to Asgard on daddy one-eye's orders, just in case of an emergency. Good chance this wasn't the type he'd had in mind, but Tony didn't care. In his eyes, it counted, and he was the guy with the security access codes. "I didn't want to do this to you Lokes, but you're a stubborn ass. It's not leaving me a lot of a choice." Tony dug into his right pocket and pulled out a thin gold bracelet, heavily inscribed with runes. "Recognize this? Probably not. I think your dad gave it to Point Break just in case you started acting up again. It negates all magic in the room, and puts the wearer's on lock down." He spun the band around his finger, watching Loki follow it like a hawk, surprise leeching any hint of color from his cheeks. "We both know what that means."
He'd be trapped, for better or for worse. No magic equaled no teleportation, and since the elevator wasn't going anywhere--
"You would do that to me?" Loki's whisper was deadly soft, yet strong enough to reach his ears. Tony held the bracelet a little tighter as the god released a harsh noise, almost like a growl, primal and challenging. "You would take away the one defense I have in this world, so that you may...what, Anthony? Speak your mind? Force yourself upon me, as others have in the past?"
"Force? No!!" Where the hell did he get a crazy idea like that? "It's not like that, you stubborn ass! I just want you to listen to me!"
"After I clearly stated that I want nothing to do with you!" A step backwards on Loki's behalf put space between them, his eyes darting constantly from Tony's face to the golden glimmer in his right hand. "Put that cursed thing away." When he made no move to do so, Loki lashed out and lifted his palms high, green swirling thickly around his fingers in a sparkling, iridescent smoke. "Put it away, Anthony, before I make you..."
Not a chance. Tony shook his head, thumbing the golden band. "Talk to me Lokes. I don't want to use this, but you're not leaving me much of a choice." He took a slow step towards the brunette, then another, grimacing at the utter look of panic that tainted his features. Loki could vanish, sure, but they were both timing things in their heads. The odds of him getting away in time weren't good. "Talk to me. I know I acted like a complete bastard, and you have every right to be pissed at me for it. But how are we supposed to figure things out if you won't even let me apologize?"
"Apologize? You haven't a single idea as to why I'm angry!! And you don't care! You genuinely believe it's irrelevant, that you can simply put on a charming smile and bluster your way back into my good graces!" Loki turned tail and hurried towards the door, desperation pungent and marking every step. "You're as foolish as the rest of your damned people."
"Loki! C'mon, wait a second!" Tony hurried after him, reaching out to grab his arm. "Will you just wait, please?"
He almost managed it. Almost. Of course that was when his luck would run out. The second his fingers even brushed Loki's wrist they were smacked away, and a pair of blue eyes appeared over his shoulder, looming furiously. "He doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to do. But you need to back off now, before I make you." Steve stepped out from behind the god, who immediately seemed to sag in relief, the emerald fast fading around his hands. "I don't want to do it Tony, but you're not leaving me a lot of options."
Just like that, all his pent up aggression flared to the surface. "Save the chivalry and get out of my way. This is between me and Loki!"
Steve didn't budge an inch. Tony really hadn't been expecting him to. Annoyed, he looked around those rippling forearms and saw Loki still eyeing the piece of jewelry in his hand, distaste in every flicker of his black lashes, the twitch in his jaw. He hid it behind his back, hoping to avoid any more issues, and then everything turned to shit around him. Steve saw it. A surefire way to piss off Captain America was by threatening someone's personal freedom, and---ah, fuck. Tony had been ready to do exactly that.
He didn't put up much of a fight when Steve pried the bangle free and held it up to the light. It looked like a normal piece of jewelry under a light inspection, but the runes shimmered with their closer proximity to Loki, making him hiss and draw back in fear. Steve noticed. Of course he fucking did, and understanding hardened his mouth into a firm line. "...Is this what I think it is?" It was. They both knew it was. "Tony," Steve closed his fingers tightly around the bracelet and glared at him. "Were you really thinking about using this on him? Do you realize what it would do? How it might make him feel?"
"Of course I realize!" Almost instantly the atmosphere in the room tensed, and he had two brilliant gazes on him, one glowing with disappointment, the other anguish. Fuck, he'd screwed up again. "Look, I wasn't really planning on using it, alright? I just wanted a chance! You've been keeping me away from him all week, and I never had a chance to say I was sorry!" Tony threw up his hands, shaking with the effort not to lash out, say anything else he might regret.
"I believe I've already stressed that an apology based on lies means nothing to me!" Loki was ready to push Steve aside and take care of Tony himself, which had the inventor nervously backing up, until Steve threw out an arm and caught Loki around the waist. Something he didn't much appreciate, if his shocked expression was anything to do by. "You would stop me? Steven, he was going to bind my magic for his own selfish gain! Do you condone that?" The trickster started to recoil from the both of them, like a caged animal seeking freedom. "Perhaps this is how you and your precious Avengers deal with unwanted trouble…you simply leash it like a wild beast!"
"Loki, that’s not what’s happening here. Calm down. Tony will have to own up for his actions, believe me. But I can't let you hurt him. That wouldn't be right." Steve touched Loki's forearm with a gentle hand, guiding him farther behind him, out of Tony's sight. Or maybe it was the other way around. "I know you're upset. You have every right to be, and under any other circumstances I’d be happy to let you take over. For right now though, let me handle this. Go on to the kitchen, and I'll meet up with you when I'm done here. Alright?" His hand brushed up the length of Loki's arm and then back down again, offering a slow push backwards. "Everything's going to be fine. Please, Loki."
How he did it Tony would never know, but he actually got Loki to listen. The trickster shared a long frown with Steve before snarling at Tony and disappearing down the hall in a flurry of dark hair and emerald fabric, leaving them alone. Frankly, Tony didn't feel much safer either way. "Listen, I-"
"Stop right there. I want to know what the hell you were thinking, threatening him like that. Did you bother considering the consequences? Or were they not important enough, so long as you got what you wanted?" Steve silenced his retorts with a cold frown, stuffing the bracelet forcefully back into Tony's hand. "This isn't what Thor had in mind when he gave us this. You know that Tony. It's only to be used in an emergency!”
"I know that dammit!! I told you, I wasn't going to use it!"
"Well good luck proving that to him. Loki has no reason to believe you right now, with the way you've been acting this past week." Sighing, Steve glanced over his shoulder, as if he expected Loki to be in the background listening in. "I'd feel lucky that Thor isn't back from Asgard yet, because I think we both know how he would react to all this."
That...would not be pretty. Tony honestly hadn't even considered Thor in the equation, since he was currently out of the loop. But he wouldn't be forever. He was scheduled to come back soon, and he'd want a full report on everything he'd missed while he was gone. Tony could keep his mouth shut, no problem. That didn't mean Loki would, or Steve. Hell, spangles would probably consider it his moral duty to tell the thunderer what had been going on around here. He was all noble like that.
"Fine. I'm an asshole. Is that what you want to hear? I admit it! I'm the biggest jackass on the face of the earth, and I deserve anything our Norse buddies decide to dish out." Tony waved a finger in Steve's face, teeth gnashing. "But if I'm going down, so are you! You're just as guilty as I am! Who started this whole thing, huh? Who decided it was alright to go flirting with Loki, when everybody around here knows he's mine! Oh, but you don't even care about any of that, right, because you only technically flirted with him when he was playing at being a girl! That doesn't count." His smile twisted into something feral, aching with age old inferiority and a lifetime of bitterness. "Don't make me laugh. If you think I'm going to stand aside because Captain fucking America up and decides he wants in on my action, you've got a nasty surprise coming. I saw Loki first. That makes him MINE, Rogers. Got that? And I don't really like to share."
He was panting by the end of his tirade, shaking furiously. It struck him that he sounded like a possessive bastard, claiming Loki belonged to him and all, and apparently Steve agreed. Oh, he agreed BIG time. "Is that how you think of him," he ground out, disgust painting every syllable. "You saw him 'first', so he belongs to you? I'm sorry, but I thought this was the twenty first century, not some first come, first serve. You don't own Loki. None of us do! He's his own man, or woman, when it suits her, and you have no right to claim otherwise!"
"What, and you think it's without precedence? This may sound shocking to your good boy mentality, but Loki and I SLEEP together. We're living in sin, or whatever the hell you used to call it!" His twisted smile caved into itself, and Tony glared at the other man, crossing his arms. "Maybe that doesn't make him mine, but it damn well makes us a thing!"
"A thing," Steve repeated. "Tony, is that all you can say? You sleep together, so that automatically makes you exclusive to one another? If that was the case, I never would have flirted with him. I wouldn't have said a single word! But you aren't exclusive. You aren't even dating! I asked Loki about that back when we first started talking. He says you've never even asked for a monogamous relationship. Why? Did you ever stop to think that someone else might take an interest in him?"
No. He hadn't. Tony floundered, angrily flushing. "And who else would've, huh? I'm the only one who so much as gave Loki the time of day when he first came to the tower, except Thor!"
"That was then, Tony. Things change. People change," Steve stressed in an irritated voice. "Loki's not the same person who attacked New York. He opened up to us, let us all in, and you know what? Once I had my chance to get to know him, I realized that I liked what I saw. I'm sorry if it upsets you, but you aren't the only one who finds him appealing. I--" sharing his fluster, he turned his eyes to the floor and then back to Tony again, determination gleaming in the crystal blue depths. "I really like Loki. And I don't see any reason to keep that a secret. Not from you, not from the team, and especially not from him."
This wasn't happening. It wasn't. Why was he being turned into the villain here? "Quit trying to make me out to be the bad guy dammit! If you knew Loki and I were sleeping together, you should have backed off! You have no right to him!"
"Just like you have no right to control his decisions! I guess it never occurred to you that Loki could have told me at any time to leave him alone?" Steve had straightened up to his full height, and it gave him several inches to lord over Tony, which he used to the maximum, staring down at him without a single qualm. "If I'd gotten a single sign that he was uncomfortable around me, I would have backed off. Because unlike certain people around here, I respect Loki. I'd never do anything to upset him, or make him unhappy."
"I respect him!" Balking under the man's disbelief, Tony growled. "Don't look at me like that! I DO!"
"Really. I guess that's why you said he was nothing special, and completely disregarded his gender? Because from where I'm standing, that's not respect, Tony. That's called being an insensitive jerk. You're no better than a bully." Steve filled the doorway and bent over him; the tightness in his jaw gave away exactly how much anger he was suppressing, keeping bound beneath the surface. "If Loki wants to sleep with you, that's his business. But you have to respect that he can make his own choices, even if that means doing something you don't agree with."
"Doing something, or someone?" Ha! Steve scowled at him, giving him a fucked up sense of delight Tony knew he'd have to reevaluate later. Emphasis on later. "Yeah, that's right. I've seen the way you look at him. You want to get into Loki's pants as badly as I did, you fucking hypocrite. Well, what's stopping you? Obviously not me! Like you said, we're not in a relationship. Loki can sleep with whoever he wants," Tony wrinkled his nose, "even seventy year old virgins fresh out of cryo. Out of curiosity, did they test all the parts when they thawed you out? Everything working properly? Because performance issues are a big thing with Loki. He'd be so fucking disappointed if you couldn't get it up." Tony smirked. "If you even can with a guy. Wasn't homophobia a big thing in your time? I mean, Loki's pretty androgynous looking under the right circumstances, but he's still got a cock to work around. I guess you could always fuck him from behind, if you’re desperate enough. Pretend he's got a pussy. Or did you just plan on making him be a woman whenever you two did decide to do the deed? I get it. I can see the appeal. At least there's a looser hole to work with, so you won't keel over from exhaustion every time you--"
CRACK! Pain exploded across his jaw, throbbing roughly throughout his entire skull. Tony saw stars and went down hard, gasping in agony, the taste of copper spilling across his tongue and staining the small cut on his lower lip. He'd fucking bitten it...shit. He dabbed his tongue over the wound and blearily tilted his head up, suddenly faced with a furious bundle of Steve. "You--you punched me!"
"Damn right I did. You had it coming." Steve drew back his fist, barely shaken up by the blood on his knuckles. "For God's sake Tony, is this really how you treat people? Is this how you treat LOKI? It...it's disgusting! I don't care whether or not you two have been sleeping together. You don't talk about him like that! Ever!!" Repulsed and positively trembling with badly repressed aggravation, he backed out of the room, leaving Tony sprawled across the floor. "I can't even look at you right now....this--this is beyond jealousy. It's just sick."
W-wait. Where was he going? Tony struggled to his feet and went after him, still dabbing scarlet off his skin. "S-Steve? What are you doing? You...you're not going to tell Loki what I said...are you?" He got no reply, which sent his heartbeat spiraling into a loud crescendo. "Steve? Steve!! Dammit Rogers, get back here!! You can't tell him! Loki will kill me! You get that? He'll KILL ME!"
"He'll probably try. I honestly couldn't say I'd blame him right now." The collected way Steve said that did nothing for Tony's nerves. "Not only have you insulted him several times this past week, you've also threatened him, behaved in a manner that's frankly repugnant, and treated Loki like he's nothing more than a piece of arm candy you can keep around for however long's convenient for you. But that's not fair to Loki. He deserves better than that."
"And, what? Is better supposed to mean you?"
"Maybe. Maybe not. Frankly, that's up to Loki. He can decide whether or not he's interested in me like that, and whatever his decision, I'll respect it. I'd rather have him as a friend than nothing at all." Steve glanced over his shoulder, grimacing. "Don't even think about asking me not to tell him, Tony. I'm not going to keep secrets from him."
Tony ignored the ache in his jaw and scowled. "So basically what you're saying is that you don't give a shit whether or not he tries to murder me, because you get to be all noble and do the right thing. That's fucked up Rogers. A real friend wouldn't sell me out."
"A real friend wouldn't have said those things in the first place," Steve retorted. "Jealous or not, that doesn't excuse your actions. Loki has been lied to his entire life. It's time someone broke the cycle. Maybe you're alright with keeping things from him, but I'm not. Loki deserves the truth." Rolling his shoulders with a shrug, he stopped outside the kitchen door which was, thankfully, closed, and turned to face Tony. "You want my advice? Get far away before I tell him. I'll do my best to keep him from going after you, but it'll be better for everyone if you're off this floor by then. At least then you'll have a fighting chance. You can hide out in your workshop, use that time to figure out how you're going to make all this up to him."
It was sound advice. Still, Tony put up a stubborn front, carefully watching the door. The last thing he wanted was Loki coming to find out what was going on. "Fuck you and your advice. You know, you can stop with the act already. We both know you're not doing any of this for my benefit. Admit it; you want Loki for yourself, and getting him angry at me is the best way to do it. Fucking coward. What's the matter Rogers? Afraid you won't stand a real chance if I'm still in the picture?"
Bone crushing disappointment filled the other man's eyes, and he heavily shook his head. "You still don't get it, do you? This isn't a contest. We're not competing for Loki's affections. Whoever he wants to be with is his business. I'd be happy if Loki decided to give me a chance, yeah, but that's not my top priority. More than anything I want to see him happy. You..." he sighed. "You just don't seem to care either way. But that's always been your style. The spoiled, rich playboy. So long as Tony Stark gets what he wants, nothing else matters, right?"
"Right! --Wait, no! I didn't mean it like..that...I-" oh fuck. Tony looked at Steve, horrified. Is that really what he sounded like? This was the sort of stuff he'd been talking about? Shit, it--it all made sense now. This was what Steve had been talking about. This is how he'd been acting for the past week, maybe even longer! Tony swore under his breath, tears blurring across his vision. "He...fuck. You're right. I’m sorry Steve. Tell him if you want. I probably deserve that." He ignored the weight of Steve's eyes following him and hurried away, desperate to get away, hide back in his lab. He had to think about this, reevaluate things. This was just--everything was fucked. "Jarvis, mute off. I need elevator access, now."
"The elevator is waiting for you as we speak. But may I recommend avoiding any drastic action before you have a chance to properly calm yourself? It's only that the others will worry if you suddenly disappear without a trace. They might consider that encouragement to come hunt you down themselves."
"Don't pander to me right now J. I'm not in the mood." Tony darted through the living room and into the open elevator, banging his forehead against the smooth metal. He'd fucked up. He'd fucked up so much. No wonder Steve and Loki were so angry with him. That was all he deserved. "...Do you think I can make it up to him?"
"The chances of either forgiving you are slim to none right now Sir. Might I recommend flowers? Or perhaps some good natured groveling?"
"Groveling, right. Whose side are you on anyway?" Jarvis didn't answer, and Tony closed his eyes, breathing a loud, frustrated groan. When had things gotten so damn complicated? One day he and Loki were having amazing, no strings attached sex, with only each other to talk to, and the next Steve was showboating with his damn schoolboy charm, sweeping Loki’s feet out from under him. Her...whatever. "Steve was right,” Tony muttered to himself, staring at his haggard reflection. “This is so beyond jealousy."