Tony stumbled into the kitchen, hands slapping at the counter irritably until he found a mug. He muttered under his breath as he poured himself a cup of coffee, taking a long slow sip as he turned around to lean against the counter. He squinted blearily at what looked like a man with icy white skin and golden antlers sitting at the table and reading the newspaper.
The man glanced at him with glowing green eyes before returning his gaze back to the paper. “Greetings, human.”
“Hello,” Tony said for lack of anything else. He took another sip of coffee because he was not awake enough for this bullshit. “Who’re you?”
“My family calls me Loki.”
Tony tilted his head. “Do you like being called Loki?”
Loki paused to consider it. “As I have no other name to be called, I suppose I do not mind it.”
“Okay, reindeer games,” Tony muttered, slowly making his way over to him. He peered at the golden antlers for a moment, then flicked one. It rang like the metal. He wondered if it was soft like the metal, too.
“What are you doing?!” Loki snapped, tugging his head away when he realized the boy was going to bite one of his antlers.
Tony huffed. “I just wanted to see if they were soft.”
“They are not!” Loki said, nearly shouting.
“Okay, man, chill out,” Tony complained, as if he had not been about to put his mouth on the monster’s person. “Gosh, you guys sure are grumpy.”
Loki tensed. “…There are more of us here?”
“Yeah, Steve, Bucky, Natasha, Clint, and Bruce,” Tony said, counting on his fingers. He paused, then hesitantly put up another one. “And Hulk? Hulk and Bruce are kind of the same person but also not.”
Loki relaxed a little. “I see.”
“Probably watch out for Natasha though,” Tony added. “She’s shown a worrying lack of shame about eating people.”
The monster blinked at him. “…And she lives here.”
Loki covered his mouth as he stared at the human in concern. What a worrying lack of self-preservation. He’d known that humans could be stupid, but this… this was a new low.
“I’m gonna go blow something up,” Tony said. He began to circle the table and paused when he saw that the monster didn’t have human legs, but what looked like the rear legs of an albino deer. “…I can bring you a stool.”
Loki shook his head. “Nay.”
“Nay?” Tony asked in disbelief, than rolled his eyes. “Fucking nay, he says.”
Loki raised his eyebrows as the boy wandered out of the kitchen, muttering to himself. “…What is wrong with ‘nay?’”
Steve looked over his shoulder, frowning. “Hey, did you know there’s a guy with antlers in your library?”
“So he’s not in the kitchen anymore?” Tony asked, lifting his goggles. “He said his name’s Loki.”
“Weird,” Steve said, coming up behind him to wrap his arms around the human’s waist. “Is he staying?”
“I have no idea,” Tony replied, slapping the monster’s hand away when it tried to dip under his waistband. “Steve, I’m welding here.”
Steve pressed a kiss to the side of his neck, using just a little bit of fang. “So stop welding.”
Tony shivered and bit his bottom lip as the monster began pressing little nipping kisses up and down his neck and shoulder. “I need to get this done.”
“You need to get done,” Steve countered, grabbing at his crotch. Then he screamed as he was covered in foam.
Tony snorted and turned to give Dum-E a smile. “Guess Dum-E thought you were getting a little too hot.”
“I thought you liked me,” Steve told the robot, hurt.
Dum-E beeped and waved the fire extinguisher cheerfully.
“Mean,” Steve whined, like the child he secretly was. “Fine, but when you come up to get cleaned up, I’m showering with you.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “Fine.”
“…And by showering, I mean fu–”
“I know,” Tony cut in.
Steve pouted, crossing his arms. “So when were you going to tell us about the new guy?”
“When I figured out what to say about him,” Tony admitted. “He just showed up this morning.”
Steve tilted his head. “Weird,” he muttered thoughtfully.
Tony frowned, concerned. “Bad weird?”
“…Yet to be determined,” the monster decided. “I’ll do some recon.”
“I think you could just go up to him and ask what he wants, Steve,” Tony said gently. “He seems like a nice guy.”
“You thought Tiberius Stone was a nice guy,” Steve hissed, shooting him a glare, before slithering out of the workshop.
Tony would be hurt, except every time Ty saw him these days, he went ghost-white and ran in the other direction. He didn’t know what (or which one, for that matter) the monster(s?) had done, but they’d obviously done something.
“He is not a nice guy,” Clint snapped, turning to show Tony his back. “Look!”
Tony frowned when he saw the patch of missing feathers and the two puncture wounds on his flesh. “…Were you trying to roost on his antlers?”
“Well they’re big!” Clint said defensively. “He wasn’t doin’ anything with ‘em!”
“Clint,” Tony sighed.
“Well he wasn’t!” the monster snapped, hopping up to roost on the back of the couch.
“Stop trying to roost on people. Without permission,” Tony added thoughtfully, because Hulk always let Clint perch on him. “Not everyone is like you guys with no boundaries.”
Clint scoffed, ruffling his feathers. “Well! See if I roost on you anymore!”
Tony glared at his back. He’d love it if Clint stopped roosting on him. He was heavy and always knocked Tony down.
“So, uh,” Tony asked awkwardly.
Loki lifted his gaze from his book.
Tony shuffled his feet. “…You can read?”
Loki tilted his head in acknowledgement but stayed silent for a few minutes, thinking. “…Is that so strange?”
“None of the others can read,” Tony began, then stopped. “Or, well. Bruce can. Hulk can, too, but he has trouble turning small pages with his gigantic fingers. The others just… choose not to learn, I think.”
“Ah,” Loki said, and understood, for the most part. It was hard to learn to read when you had to hide most of your life.
“Anyway,” Tony added, looking away, and began wringing his hands nervously. “I, uh, wanted to apologize for Clint, since he’s probably never going to. For, um. Roosting. …On your head.”
Loki raised an eyebrow. “Ah.”
“So, um. Sorry. For Clint.” Tony jumped as the monster stood. He’d never seen him at full height–Loki’d been kneeling at the kitchen table, and he’d been sprawled on one of the couches when he’d come in.
He was… intimidatingly tall. Nearly as tall as Hulk, all long, lean lines. It should have seemed delicate, but Loki just looked powerful, the muscles in his legs bulging and his chest all hard lines. With his antlers, he looked regal, and also incredibly terrifying.
Loki reached out to cup his cheek, skin cool against his own, the tips of his fingers ending in hard, blunt hoof-like material. “You are a good human.”
Tony blinked up at him with wide eyes, the hair on the back of his neck standing on end. “Y-yeah?”
“I hope,” Loki began, then paused. “…That you continue to be.”
Tony squeaked, terrified, because that sounded incredibly ominous. “O-okay.”
Before he could say anything else, Natasha dropped from the ceiling, hissing quietly as she glared at the other monster. “If you do not take your hands off of him at once, I will rip off one of your antlers and shove it up your ass.”
Loki held his hands up placatingly. “My apologies.”
“I don’t know what you want, trickster, but if you hurt Tony in any way,” she added, just a hint wild-eyed. “I will fetch the Hulk and he will tear you limb from limb. And then I’ll eat your guts.”
“…My apologies,” Loki repeated, looking her right in the eye as he did.
Tony looked back and forth between them, brows furrowed together in confusion. Eventually, though, both monsters relaxed, and then Natasha was whirling him around to march him out the door.
“You are quite possibly the most unconsciously suicidal human I have ever met,” Natasha spat. “Do not trust Loki, even for a minute. He’s an old monster.”
“…Older than you?” Tony asked hesitantly.
Natasha paused, making him slow down as well, before she answered, “Older than the rest of us combined. He’s still got Old Magic clinging to him like a cape of dust. I’m not sure anyone but Steve and Bucky would have noticed, and even then, that sort of magic was swallowed up by humans before they could get a proper taste.”
“But you know it,” Tony said, frowning. “The–the taste?”
Natasha stopped again, shoulders stiff. “…I know of the taste. Sometimes if you go into the deepest, darkest forests, or the deepest, darkest caves, you can find Old Magic. I was too frightened to approach the one I did find. There’s a feeling to it, of great power, that’s terrifying to behold.” She shivered, then began walking again. “Only old monsters know how to wield it properly, and there’s so few of them left. I shudder to think of what life would be like for humans if more of those monsters walked the land still.”
Tony shivered as well. That… that sounded horrifying. “Should I ask him to leave?”
“Creatures like Loki leave only when they mean to leave, Tony.” She swallowed. “I can only hope he does so soon.”
Tony curled up into her side as they walked toward the stairs, only relaxing when her two arms curled around him. “…But you threatened him with Hulk.”
“You heard Bruce,” Natasha said quietly. “He’d been messing with something that he shouldn’t have been. You can’t taste the Old Magic on him when he’s the Hulk. But you can when he’s human, lurking in the shadows, waiting for the change.”
Tony shivered again, feeling even luckier that Hulk hadn’t crushed him when he’d hidden behind him.