"Pointing Toward Power"
"I didn't know you were a mage."
Tony jerks upright at the sound
of Loki's voice, whacking his head
on the underside of the car hood.
"OW! Fuck!" Tony says,
disentangling himself from
the collapsed hood that
is trying to eat him.
Then he rounds on Loki.
"I am not a freaking wizard.
I do science, or in this case,
vintage vehicle restoration."
Loki just stares at his chest like
Tony is posing for the kind of movie
that he doesn't make anymore.
Tony crosses his arms
over the arc reactor.
"The light of your power
is there for everyone to see,"
Loki says in a smooth tone.
"Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm
Tony the Human Flashlight,"
he grumbles. "That's not magic.
It's called an arc reactor, and if
you try to touch it I will have
Hulk tear your arm off."
"I would never -- well.
Not of my own volition,"
Loki says, looking away.
"Whatever," Tony says,
and turns back to his car.
"I may owe you an apology."
Tony hits his head on the hood again.
"Fuck! Go away and stop bothering me."
"It is not right between us," Loki insists.
"I would make it right, before this discord
starts to interfere with our spellcasting."
Tony pulls out of the car and says,
"No shit, Sherlock. It's not right,
because you broke into my Tower,
attacked me, and dropped an army
on New York. It is never going
to be right between us."
"I am unwilling to risk
the magical consequences
of that," Loki says. "Did not
your master warn you of such?"
Tony flashes on a memory of
Master Tom warning him about
the grave reasons why blacksmiths
shouldn't get into fights with each other,
but that had involved dire descriptions
of broken bones from muscular folks
brawling, especially in a workshop.
"I don't know why you're so stuck
on this," Tony says. "I hate magic.
Why would you even think
that it's something I do?"
"I had my suspicions,
but it was not until I saw
your horseshoe hanging
points down that I became
certain of it," Loki says.
Tony's horseshoe is hanging
over his anvil in the secret workshop
where Loki better not have gone.
"How do you know that?" Tony snarls.
Loki shrugs and tosses a soap bubble
of light in the direction of the workshop.
It spatters into glowing lines that
outline every stud in the framework,
and inside that strange, radiant cage
the horseshoe and the anvil
shine like an arc reactor.
"Magic," he says simply.
"Only a blacksmith hangs
his horseshoe points down,
to pour the energy over an anvil,
when everyone else hangs theirs
points up to catch the dew of Yggdrasil.
It's always pointing toward power."
Tony had never heard any of
that nonsense before. He had
just set up his anvil the same way
that Master Tom had his. They
had never talked much about it.
"It's just a decoration," he said.
"You know, like a tradition."
"Traditions have power," Loki said.
Then one corner of his mouth quirks up.
"It was only after the fact that I also
discovered you to be a seiðmaðr."
"A what?" Tony asks, baffled.
"A man who makes magic by
taking another man into his body,"
Loki says, looking a bit nervous.
"On Asgard, few men would dare
admit to sex magic of that type.
I am nearly alone in my perversion.
But then I saw your recordings on
YouTube, and they are magnificent.
I may attempt some of your techniques,
if you do not feel it would infringe on them."
"I haven't made any Stark Naked movies
in years," Tony says. "Glad you liked them,
though. And look, if you're queer, that's
no big deal on Earth. Midgard."
"A fact I may come to appreciate,"
Loki says. "It makes me glad
that the invasion failed."
Tony snorts. "You sound
like a cat trying to convince
everyone that he meant
to get stuck in the blinds."
"One saves face however
one can," Loki says blandly.
"In any case, I wished you
to know that, as a fellow mage,
I would prefer to make some kind
of peace with you, if possible --
perhaps even work together
should our interests coincide."
If nothing else, they share
an interest in keeping Thor
in one piece, which is
not easy since Thor has
even less self-preservation
than Captain America does.
How is that even possible.
Another point, that Tony
didn't want to examine
too closely, is that Loki is
intense, much the same way
that Tony himself is, which
means that not everyone
will put up with them.
Tony has Bruce for
a lab partner and Bucky
to work on the car with,
but nobody else really gets
the higher math like he does.
Loki, on the other hand,
seemed perfectly comfortable
with controlling a wormhole.
"I'll think about it," Tony says.
Loki gives that weird bow
which is little more than
a tip of chin and shoulders,
then lets himself out.
Tony wonders what he
has just gotten himself into.
* * *
There are many legends about horseshoes and how to hang them. One is that blacksmiths hang them points-down over the anvil to pour magic over their workspace, and everyone else should hang them points-up to avoid spilling out all the luck. In essence, mastery over iron allows the blacksmith to channel the power in motion; everyone else just benefits from the ambient effect of pooling it.
Seiðr is a type of magic, which may be practiced by people of any sex/gender, but is traditionally used by women. A female practitioner is called a seiðkona. A male practitioner is called a seiðmaðr. This also ties in with the deadly insult ergi, which means effeminate and implies taking the receptive role in homosexual activity. Seiðr is often considered a type of sex magic, even though it entails other skills such as dancing and chanting as well.
My headcanon is that Tony Stark is a sexual adventurer and enjoyed a wide variety of activities and partners. After the arc reactor, however, he is much less comfortable around other people or situations with any vulnerability at all. This has substantially curtailed his sex life.