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are you here to stay?

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Hunched over his work desk, not really knowing how late it is and how long he's been working there, Tony decides to call it a night. A command here, a bookmark to the current project there, and he's somewhat about ready to get up off his chair and head to the bedroom. Tonight, he doesn't really feel like crashing on the couch even if it's been his forte for a while now.

"I've never known you to take it so easy, Stark."

The sound… that voice… it nearly ripples through Tony's whole being. He's frozen still only for a second and then a quick command, something he doesn't even have to say just think it, and all the lights are on, and the intruder is the one frozen in his place.

"All the tricks," Loki says, sounding impressed and looking bored. Typical.

"You're fucking alive?" Tony asks, nearly cringing at the swear word, and then realizes he's not around Cap. He can talk however the fuck he wants. "You're alive?"

Tony rushes to Loki, pushing him back until he's pressed against the wall and his body is holding Loki there. Making sure he doesn't escape. Making sure he's actually a living, breathing, flesh-thing, and not a figment of his imagination. Flesh-thing? You really need some sleep, Tony.

"I take it my brother didn't tell you."

"No, he didn't," Tony snarls. His arm is pushing against Loki's neck and when Loki gulps, something stirs inside Tony. Something fierce.

"Good. I'd asked him to refrain from sharing this news—"

"Everything's a joke to you, isn't it?" Tony asks, finally letting go but not really stepping back from Loki's personal space. He's missed it too much. He's missed this too much. Loki riling him up, he manhandling the man, until… until he's on his knees worshipping Tony.

"Don't tell me you actually grieved my death, Stark? That would be—"

Then Tony shuts him up with a kiss. Because he had been. Grieving. Missing him. Not only to keep his bed warm but…maybe having someone to talk to. Loki didn't give something to Tony the others couldn't. It wasn't anything special but there was just…maybe it was the accent.

"Shut up. Just shut up," Tony says in a warning. "Are you here to stay?" he asks a moment later, struggling to keep the edge in his voice. This is a game. They always play this game. There are no winners or losers but it's a fucking ritual, is all.

"The night?" asks Loki.

"For starters…" replies Tony.