Of Stolen Hearts and Silver Tongues Chapter One: Loki has her Cher Horowitz Moment
Story Summary: What if Loki was enamoured with Earth and had a secret life on Midgard, including an entire lineage of secret identities where everyone on the family tree was a version of themself? One alias in particular decides that MIT would be the perfect place for her to experiment with attending Midgardian college, and Columbia would be a fantastic choice for a PhD.
I am greatly inspired by the works of graveltotempo and I have read Pink Raspberry Cosmo at least three times, so if you notice similarities I wouldn’t be shocked. I do hope that I have done my due diligence in making this fic distinct, however, despite the fact that it has the similar premise of Loki and Tony knowing each other and being lovers prior to the events of The Avengers. There are probably influences by other works by graveltotempo fics as well because I have read almost everything that she has written in the MCU, probably twice. Cannot recommend her fics enough.
I have included a timeline for this fic in the below in case it is helpful. I have tried to make it so that even without it you can track what’s happening but it will probably help piece things together. For now mostly keep in mind that I have stuck with Tony’s birth year as 1974 as originally established by the first Iron Man movie, not the retcon of 1970. If I didn’t have a birthday for someone I made it up based on the actor lol. Note that Clueless was actually released in July of 1995 but whatever. I’m probably going to be adding to the tags as I write this—it’s a WIP so only roughly outlined, also I don’t want the tags to spoil anything that hasn’t happened yet and/or make people too excited to see characters that won’t be major yet. (Sorry to all of you reading this with only one chapter up, some people in the tags aren’t here yet!)
October 1st 1962: Carol Susan Jane Danvers is born
December 18th 1969: Robert Bruce Banner is born
May 29th 1974: Anthony Edward Stark is born
December 17th 1974: “Lois Fredrickson” is “born”
July 19th 1976: Stephen Vincent Strange is born
August 1988: Tony Stark begins at MIT at age 14
August 1988: Bruce Banner begins at Harvard at age 18
June 22nd 1989: Mar-Vell is assassinated and Carol gains powers from the energy core created by the tesseract. She then lives on Hala for six years believing that she is Kree.
August 1990: “Lois Fredrickson” begins at MIT at age 16
March 15th 1991: Howard and Maria Stark are assassinated by the Winter Soldier and it is covered up as a car accident.
June 1991: Tony Stark graduates summa cum laude from MIT at age 17
August 1991: Stephen Strange starts at Harvard University at age 15
June 1992: Bruce Banner graduates from Harvard at age 22 summa cum laude
August 1992: Bruce Banner starts at Culver University
June 1994: “Lois Fredrickson” graduates from MIT summa cum laude “at age 19”
June 1994: Stephen Strange graduates from Harvard at age 17
August 1994: “Lois” and Stephen start at Columbia at ages 19 and 18 respectively.
April 1995: Clueless is released*
May 1995: Tony Stark becomes CEO of Stark Industries
June 1995: Carol returns to Earth
Chapter One: Loki has her Cher Horowitz Moment
Loki liked Midgard. He knew it was seen as a bit of a backwater by most everyone else in the Nine Realms, but he had a fondness for Midgardians. They had managed a great deal in an extraordinarily short amount of time. Loki was relatively young, but his lifespan was much longer than that of most Midgardians. And yet they had in some places almost surpassed Asgard in some areas, which was astonishing considering where he remembered their society being when he was a child.
He had made a point about a century or so back to establish a series of identities for himself on Midgard, which turned out to be quite beneficial, as these days so much was tracked through their online systems that creating identities from scratch was very difficult. Luckily with his seidr and shapeshifting abilities it was quite simple to pass assets on from one alias to another. Well, dealing with inheritance taxes was annoying because the American government in particular made taxes so complicated. He would be more annoyed about being taxed while giving money to herself if it were not for the fact that he was a Prince from a realm made of gold and never wanted for anything least of all money. When one was as rich as a god, there was no need to not follow the law when it came to contributing to government funds.
Loki only made it more complicated for herself because she liked to have aliases of both genders readily available, and so in the latest round she inherited from her father Ludwig Fredrickson II as both Ludwig III and Lois. It was annoying to have to do it so often but Midgardians were not only short-lived in general but they aged so quickly, and she got tired of shapeshifting the subtle wrinkles to her face. Still, she acquiesced to it because she did not want to ever give up the ruse of not being Midgardian herself, particularly to lovers that she took on.
That said, there were few Midgardians who she actually wanted to keep as lovers. They were ephemeral, and she refused to let herself get close enough to grow attached. There were of course some that she grew to call friends; connections that she established in the world in order to ground herself. She would not stay so long in the realm if she did not like them in general and enjoy their company.
In the end, she broke her rule against consorting with Midgardians long term almost completely by accident.
The Allfather was making preparations for Thor to ascend to the throne. He let them know that he was going to be stepping down within the next two decades, and it would be Thor’s birthright as his firstborn to be king. In preparation, Thor was to explore the Nine Realms and get to know the populace. Midgard was to be skipped of course, as they were underdeveloped, as was Jotunheim considering they only had a tenuous peace.
Loki felt insulted on behalf of what was rapidly becoming his favorite planet, but he also did not want anyone else to know just how wonderful Midgard was, or else what if they tried to take it from him? The Midgardians were much more advanced than people gave them credit for. His alias Lois was currently enrolled at a Midgardian university—now that the Midgardians had invented the internet, inauthentic records would be even harder to create. Besides, it would do well for him to be caught up on the Midgardian advances and terminology.
Lois had not made very many friends, but then again when he had made the decision for her to attend university she had been younger than most students due to him being impatient to start. Adjusting her records would have been more hassle than it was worth, and according to the birth certificate Lois and Ludwig were twins, born in December of 1974. She had discovered though that there was precedent. The year she started at 16 there was already a boy there about to graduate who was only seven months older than “Lois”.
Tony Stark was smart, a veritable genius, but a bit too flashy for Loki’s tastes. He asked her out a handful of times, and she was flattered by the fact that he was as interested in her intellect as her looks, but he was also a child in her eyes, and so she turned him down any time he asked. Not that he asked more than the two times—the first time was before they hardly knew each other, and the second a few months into their acquaintance, apparently believing that her initial rejection was due to a lack of familiarity.
Refreshingly, he did not push after her second rejection, though he sensed a certain sadness as she realized that he had thought her the only girl actually his age at a school full of adults. They stayed close friends, and she grew to count on his best friend Rhodey as a close acquaintance as well. The two of them provided ample support to Tony when his parents died, and it was then that she realized that she and Rhodey were the only friends Tony truly claimed.
All the same, when Tony and Rhodey graduated and moved away from Cambridge Loki realized that she was once again alone. She was fine without friends, or at least that is what she told herself. She had lab and study partners, and easy rapport with professors. It was easier, too, without Tony and Rhodey around to balance her time between Asgard and Midgard more effectively. She knew that Heimdall could not see her when she was on Midgard. She had woven a thick spell on herself that not only hid her from view but also made it so that on a subtle level he never wanted to look for her unless directly asked. If he did, she had a deflection set up that would hopefully show her in the halls of Alfheim. It was possible that he would be able to see through the fact that it was a mirage, but he would never see where she actually was.
However, given that Thor was going to be away from Asgard for quite some time and not taking up as much of Loki’s time, he wondered if it might be a good opportunity for him to spend more time on Midgard as Lois. She was ostensibly 18 and about to graduate next year. Several of her professors had been encouraging her towards a PhD program, as had Tony and Rhodey, and she could not deny that she was interested. She would have more time to dedicate to it with Thor gone, she just had to decide on a discipline and a school.
In the privacy of her chambers she reached into her pocket dimension for the pile of graduate program pamphlets her neuroscience advisor had handed her. Thumbing through them, she paused while holding the one for Columbia University. Stark Industries had offices in New York, didn’t they?
“Bambi! To what do I owe the pleasure?”
Loki rolled her eyes. She did not understand the origin of Tony’s need for many nicknames for his friends. Though on a certain level she did prefer it, as Tony did not know her real name, and so a name that he had given her was in a sense more true than calling her ‘Lois’. She was calling him on the mobile phone he had gifted her, a most curious invention. She had seen communicators like this before on planets other than Midgard, so she knew that there was potential for much more advancement. This device was primitive and did not have a particularly good range, but she knew that with Tony working on it the project would soon take off. His company was made for so much more than weapons, and he finally had the power to make the changes he had wanted to and introduce more product lines other than just missiles and guns.
“Hey Tony. I thought I’d call up my favorite CEO to see if he wanted to meet for coffee. Though now that you’re running a whole company I understand if you’re too busy—”
“Nonsense Blueberry! How about we do dinner tonight? It’s been ages since I saw you with how busy you are being the youngest PhD—”
“Second youngest, but thank you. Dinner sounds lovely.” She cut him off, well aware of the fact that once Tony got started he never stopped. And he still insisted on calling her that ridiculous name, which was honestly worse than Bambi, which had been the result of her rather uncharacteristically crying while watching the film only to vehemently deny doing so—something that she would continue to do until the end of time. Five years had passed since the first and only time they watched the movie (she was never putting herself through that again) and three years had passed since the pie incident of 1992, and yet both names continued to stick.
“Second youngest?” Tony asked, confused.
“There’s another student in my cohort who is actually doing a joint PhD and MD. He’s also younger than us by about two years. Stephen’s a pain in the ass, but he’s brilliant.”
“Oh Stephen then. Something I should know now Bambi? Should I be jealous? Do I need to give the shovel talk?” Loki rolled her eyes, imagining the look on Tony’s face that moment and having no doubt that her approximation would be perfect, would that she could actually see him.
“Absolutely not, Stark. Stephen’s just a friend. And I have Ludwig or my father if I need someone to threaten a romantic partner anyway.” Tony wisely shut up, knowing not to press her when she broke out his last name. “Anyway, do you want me to meet you in your office before dinner?” She continued.
“Nah. I’ll be coming from the airport, so there’s no point.”
“The airport?” Now it was Loki’s turn to be confused. “Are you meeting someone?”
“Nope. Though speaking of, I’m going to have to let you go, apparently these new mobile phones interfere with planes and we’re going to take off soon.”
“Anthony.” Loki said flatly. “Where are you?”
“Malibu. But you said you wanted to meet up, so I’ve had Happy make us reservations. Be ready by six, I’ll have a car come pick you up. I still have the address saved. Really gotta go now. Rodrigo—my pilot, do you remember him? Is being really insistent about me turning off my phone. See you soon!”
There was a click as the conversation ended, and it was at that moment that Loki realized that she may have grown slightly too comfortable in this Midgardian life. When was the last time she had even been to Asgard? Being Lois Fredrickson was just so much easier than Loki Odinson. And yet it was all built on a lie. She wasn’t a brilliant young scientist. She was a god with over a thousand years of experience and advanced knowledge from other planets.
She was lying to every single one of her friends here, and it was with shock that she realized she truly considered these Midgardians, with their fleeting lifespans that she had previously so callously discarded her friends . She had Tony, Rhodey, and now Stephen. How had she gotten here? And it was all built on lies . She was said to be the god of lies and mischief, but she realized that this was something she didn’t want to lie about anymore.
She knew that Tony could tell that there was something wrong with her while they were having dinner. Uncharacteristically for him, he did not press. Most likely because they were in public and the tabloids had caught sight of them again. Loki inwardly cringed, but with Tony unaware of magic it was not as though she could shield them from notice.
She had thus far kept a relatively low profile, but she knew that given she was the only woman repeatedly seen in Tony’s company she was a matter of curiosity for the press. Many of them thought her to be his on-again off-again girlfriend and while he never gave answers to them about her and they had yet to find out substantial information about her—her magic did a lot in that regard—she knew it was probably only a matter of time before someone from MIT came forward to share the story. That the two of them had been close was not a secret, but Lois had always been private enough and somehow forgettable enough, despite her intellect and young age, that no one took strong notice of her. No one except for Tony and Rhodey.
At this point the guilt over not telling him, her only true friend in over a millennia—who despite his lack of knowledge about her identity she felt in some ways knew her and her habits better than even Thor—was crushing. So Loki did the only thing she could think of to do, which was to take a chance and tell Tony the truth.
Tony was surprised that Lois invited him back to her family’s townhouse after dinner. She had been so anxious and upset—he presumed because she did not want him to make the trip out. He knew that grand gestures sometimes frustrated his friends, but it was also odd because Lois was the only one who seemingly was not upset by them. She was rarely upset by anything. The woman was unflappable most of the time, and incredibly hard to read.
Tony would readily admit to the fact that he had been in love with her for almost the entirety of the half decade he had known her, were it not that he was certain she did not return his feelings. He had asked her out twice while they were in college, but after the second no he took it as it was and let their friendship lie. He did not want to break what they had just because he let something as ridiculous as his emotions get in the way. She and Rhodey had been his rocks when his parents died. He would not give up their friendship for anything at this point.
The world knew him as a playboy, but that was only part of the truth. Yes Tony was promiscuous and not particularly picky about who he had in his bed. At the same time he was very picky about who he let in his heart, which, unfortunately for all the people out there vying for his sustained attention, had been taken by someone who didn’t even know she had it somewhere around the early 1990s.
Now, however, Lois looked anxious, and was pacing around the living room into which she had led him. Her family’s townhouse in Manhattan was spacious and gave off the air of being bigger on the inside. He had been here before of course. Lois had invited him and Rhodey over a handful of times just to hang out, but now there was tension in the air and he didn’t know why.
Suddenly the pacing stopped, and Lois’ face became calm as she took a deep breath and sat down on the couch. He sat with her and looked inquisitively.
“I get the feeling that there is something you have to tell me and you don’t know how,” he told her wryly.
“Alas my silver tongue has turned to lead.” She sighed and ran a hand through her long hair. “Very well, I have never been one for beating around the bush. My name is not Lois. Or well, Lois is not my only name.” He opened his mouth to speak but she continued before he could ask for more clarification. “My name is Loki Odinson, and I am a Princess of Asgard. Well, some of the time. You know I don’t always feel particularly like a woman. At times I am a Prince.” She looked at him carefully, and he looked thoughtful.
“I’ve heard the name Loki before,” he said slowly. “And I’ve heard of Asgard. But it’s not a clear memory… that’s not a well-known country, is it?”
Loki chose her words carefully. “Not as such. Asgard is well-known, just not on Earth. Many people here have forgotten.”
“Not on— wait are you saying that Asgard is not on Earth? Where else would it…” he stared at her in shock and she blushed. “Are you an alien?”
She scrunched up her nose. “I mean technically for me you are the alien.” She paused. “I’m Asgardian. Well, my father is part áss and part Jötunn, and my mother is Vanr. So I suppose I am a combination of different peoples from across the realms.”
“Wow. I can’t believe this whole time I’ve been in love with an alien.” He said it so quietly that Loki was sure she wasn’t meant to hear but she did anyway.
Loki’s brain screeched to a halt. Tony was in love with her? She barely processed anything he said after that. She could tell he was speaking to her, but it did not register as she was too stuck on the idea that somehow this Midgardian had managed to fall in love with the person that she had created. And now he found out that person was a lie. What had she done? In retrospect there had been so many clues, and she felt wounded at the fact that her observation skills had been so lacking. She had taken the fact that he did not ask her out again as a sign that he was no longer interested in her romantically, it was apparently the opposite.
Respecting her boundaries was something that had always been a quality she appreciated about Tony. He would push at her buttons and drive her entirely up the wall, but if he was ever issued with a firm ‘no’ on something he would not violate it. Oh he broke promises made to himself all the time and she despaired over how he did not take adequate care of his own person, but he had never broken a promise to her, or crossed a line she had set. She knew that was not necessarily his modus operandi with other people and yet had conveniently ignored what conclusions that might lead to regarding how he felt about her. What had she done?
“Lois? Lois! Loki! Bambi, breathe. Breathe with me babe, in and out. Deep breaths, that’s it.” As Loki calmed her breathing and returned back into focus she nearly flushed in embarrassment. Her shapeshifting managed to prevent the flush from showing, but she could still feel it.
“I am sorry, Anthony. I understand if you don’t want to be around me anymore—” she was over a thousand years old and just had a panic attack because a Midgardian had just admitted to being in love with her. It was true that comparatively she was about where he was in her lifespan—and oh that made it worse because even if they were potentially aligned developmentally he had decades left to live and she had millenia. Even if he did not hate her now he would be gone in a blink—
“Hey, Loki, Lokes, can I call you Lokes? New name, amazing, all new opportunities for nicknames, why wouldn’t I want to be around you? How many people can say that they have an alien for a best friend? That’s hella cool honestly and I wouldn’t trade you for anyone . Humans? Boring. The only ones I like are Rhodey and Happy. You’ve always been my favorite and now I’ve just been proven right to put you in a category all on your own.” Tony winked at her and Loki felt if anything more overwhelmed.
Who was this mortal, to make her feel things to the extent that no one had managed in all the years she had been alive? She did not think that she had ever cared for anyone this much! It was almost as if—
Recently Loki had gone to see the movie Clueless at the end of the semester with the other two women from her lab. They were insistent on having a “girls night” and sick of all the misogynistic assholes at Columbia who thought that women couldn’t be scientists.
This was, Loki realized, the moment in the movie where Cher is walking with her shopping bags and the sprinklers and lights go off behind her and the narrative voice says “ I love Josh.”
Loki was in love with Tony Stark. What the fuck was she supposed to do now?
Author’s Note: Not only do Ludwig and Lois sound vaguely like Loki the name Ludwig apparently means “famous” and Lois can either be a Galician form of Louis which is just another variation of Ludwig, but Lois has another potentially Greek origin that means “more desirable” or “better”. I went with “Frederickson ” as a last name because Frigga is sometimes used as a diminutive of Fredrika. I make no apologies for how much I stretch things. All my etymological research comes from behindthethename.com, they’ve been my bestie for the past over a decade.