Summary: An unremarkable man is surprised to find shelter from the rain with Tony Stark himself.
Pairing: Tony/Loki
For: Liz
Note: My first entry crossposted to LJ from Dreamwidth. Let's hope I do this right...



Luke is on his way home from the office when the rain begins.

Mind you this is not the sort of rain that introduces itself gently. It is not the sort of rain that creeps in slowly, drifting in a gentle haze through humid air or making your acquaintance through a couple of drops onto a curious, upturned palm. This is not the sort of rain met with the question, ‘Oh, is it starting to rain?’

This rain is a total bastard, announcing itself only with an ominous rumble in the clouds, like a drum roll before the first track of a metal concert. The heavens turn to liquid and fall out of the sky.

With a quiet curse, he ducks into the doorway of a closed shop before he can be absolutely drenched. He does not even have half a metre of dry land, but it is better than getting soaked to the skin. Probably. He breathes in the smell of the rain and reminds himself this is his best suit. Honestly, it is his only good suit. He cannot afford to ruin it by prancing through the rain like a moron.

Instead he stands in his little shelter and watches people run from the storm. They pour into the McDonalds across the street, which is a very good idea. He wishes he had thought of that. The rain is coming down so heavily now though that by the time he has waited at the traffic lights he would be soaked to the skin. He did not take his coat in today.

“Room for one more?” An American voice says suddenly as a man joins him in the doorway. A bit wet already, the man slicks his hand back through rain-dampened hair.

The man is Tony Stark. Iron Man. That’s a turn-up for the books. He looks just as he does on the television, albeit a bit soggier. When he smiles it is the smile of a movie-star. When he holds out a hand it is impossible not to shake it.

“Tony Stark.”

“I know.” Luckily his awed voice sounds an awful lot like his unimpressed voice, so he can come across as fashionably underwhelmed.

“You know, you remind me of someone. Ever been to Stuttgart?”

“Um…” He wracks his brain briefly in case he might have forgotten a brief holiday. “No?”

“Manhattan?”

“No.”

“Oh.” Stark seems disappointed, which induces a strange feeling of guilt. “What did you say your name was?”

He didn’t, but Stark must know he didn’t. This is just a coy way of getting his name out of him. Interesting. “Luke Lauson.”

Tony smiles that celebrity smile at him again. He probably smiles that way at everyone he signs an autograph for, but it’s impossible not to bask in it like it’s a heat lamp. “Right. Well, thanks for the shelter here, Lukey.”

Luke eyes the abandoned shop. It looks as though it used to sell clothes, judging from the bundle in the corner inside. “I don’t own it. You can stand where you please.” Okay, so Luke has never excelled at the fine art of small-talk.

Luckily it does not deter Mr Stark. “Uh-huh. So what do you do in the grand city of London, Lukey?”

The ‘Lukey’ thing is annoying, but Luke lets it slide. It is Tony Stark, after all. “I work in accounts for a small software firm.”

At that, Tony frowns as though it was quite unexpected. “You do?”

“I do.”

“And uh… how’s that going for you?”

“As well as can be expected,” Luke says with a shrug. “The work is dull, the hours are average and the salary pays my overpriced rent.” He winces. As if Tony Stark even knows what ‘overpriced’ means.

“Ever thought about doing more with your life?”

For a moment, Luke’s jaw clenches so tightly he cannot answer. But he regains his composure with a deep breath. “Not all of us were born with your advantages, Mr Stark.”

The man holds his hands up in a surrendering gesture. “I’m sorry, that sounded really judgemental. I just wondered if you’re happy here. In London. Handling software accounts.”

If this is an episode of ‘Secret Millionaire’, they really should have found Stark a better disguise. “It is what it is. There are people a lot worse off than me.”

Stark sighs and looks out into the street again. So does Luke. The pavements are most empty now as all but the most reckless or harried Londoners seek shelter from the storm. It shows no signs of letting up. That means more awkward silences with Tony Stark. Luke is not sure whether to be excited or despondent.

“There’s got to be something you’d rather be doing,” Stark says eventually, a pensive look on his face as he watches puddles form along the street. “Studying art? Or science? Pursuing a career in international villainy?”

“I would quite like to run a library, if that helps,” Luke suggests tentatively.

It stands to reason that Tony Stark is eccentric. He is, after all, a multi-billionaire genius who flies around fighting criminals in a super-powered robo-suit. Luke’s response seems to flummox him for a while.

“A library. Huh. Well, you know I am looking for a library manager. I sponsor a rather impressive collection of literature in New York.”

Amazement wells up in Luke, but he tames it quickly. Life is never so simple as this.

“I have no experience.”

Stark shrugs. “Pick it up as you go along.”

“Why are you offering me this?” Luke asks, confused. “You don’t even know me.”

For a while, Tony Stark does not respond. He merely looks out at the rain, a serious expression on his handsome face.

“I guess I don’t like the thought of a caged mind,” he says eventually.

There is something behind that statement that Luke knows he will not discover in the course of this conversation, no matter how hard he tries. Maybe it is the same thing that is behind Stark’s eyes when he looks at Luke as though he is somehow familiar.

Luke really wants to find out what it is.

“So how would I go about relocating my life for the sake of your library?”

Tony smiles one of those rock star smiles. Luke feels like he should be on a red carpet, not on a rainy street in London, under the doorway of an abandoned clothes shop.

“Give me your number and I’ll get my assistant to give you a call.”

“Um, yes, of course.” Luke pulls his phone from his pocket. It is an archaic gadget, making him rather embarrassed to show it to a world-famous technical prodigy. Still, it does everything he wants it to. His co-workers have expressed their surprise that it still works, suggesting he has magical powers. Luke opens up the phonebook with a sharp press of the buttons and holds the phone up for Tony to see his number.

Stark lifts his futuristic phone to take a picture of the number on the screen. To steady Luke’s cold and damp hand (which is already steady, to be honest), Tony slides his own hand underneath. His palm is warm and surprisingly soft for a man who allegedly spends much of his time working with machinery.

Luke expects the modern phone to click instantly and capture what it needs, but they remain standing still for a while, long enough to turn the simple moment into something it’s not when Tony looks past the phone into Luke’s eyes and smiles. Only then does his thumb move, a little twitch and the camera makes its sound.

“Gotcha.” Stark stepped back and Luke had his personal space again, with some mixed feelings about it. “So when did you move here, Luke?”

“I…here?”

Such an innocuous question. It shouldn’t give Luke pause, but it does. When did he move here? He racks his brain, shovelling aside memories of the past few months like grave dirt. Something awaits discovery beneath it all.

“Don’t hurt yourself, sometimes it’s hard to put a date to these things.”

Stark’s cheerful voice interrupts Luke’s train of thought and he realises he was zoning out again. That has been happening more and more at work lately. It’s probably just a lack of sleep catching up with him. Luke’s dreams have been disturbed of late.

“It looks like the rain is letting up,” Luke observes, judging the surface of a nearby puddle.

“What British conversation,” Tony replies with a grin. “I suppose even if you don’t take me up on my offer there are worse places for you than this.”

Luke chuckles. “You know, you are an exceedingly strange man.”

“Oh what, and you’re not?”

“No, actually. I’m rather normal.”

“Huh.” Tony Stark steps out from beneath their shared doorway. The rain is barely there now. He turns back to Luke. “Tell you what, when you come to work for me we’ll see what we can do about that.”

Another superhero smile and Iron Man is striding away into the crowds of people that have spilled back out into the streets. Luke stands in the doorway a little longer, breathing in the lingering odour of Stark’s expensive aftershave to reassure himself that yes, that actually happened.

Then he heads home. He sticks the telly on and whips up a stir-fry for one and tries to concentrate on a book. At a quarter-to-midnight, his phone lights up on the arm of his chair. He has a message.

How do you feel about sorting my Norse mythology collection? TS xx

Luke smiled and replied that he felt very good about that.

He had always found Norse myths very… inspiring.

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