Nuisance Next Door

Rain and Tears

Loki pushed past the kids standing around the bathroom and retreated inside. What in the world was wrong with him today? He was fine not having friends, constantly getting detention, and generally pissing off the student body, but what was it about Stark that was throwing him off? As soon as the idiot had started to listen to Clint and his cronies, Loki knew that Stark was no different than the rest of them; dull and completely pedestrian.

He went to the sink and wrapped his hands around the base of the porcelain sink as he stared into the mirror. Jet black hair, dark green eyes, and a well-ingrained scowl reflected back at him.

Loki breathed out heavily and shakily. He shouldn't have let them get to him.

Suddenly the door behind him swung open and Tony appeared in the doorway. Loki stilled. That was the last person he'd expected. Loki watched Tony's reflection in the mirror as he crossed the bathroom and stopped just behind Loki.

"Need something, Stark?" His voice echoed across the bathroom tile.

Tony's eyes met Loki's in the mirror before skittering away. Loki tensed. "Just making sure you're okay and…" Tony began but he trailed off, raking his fingers through his hair uncomfortably.

Loki pried his fingers away from the sink and turned to look at Tony face-to-face. "I'm fine," he said, frowning. This was strange, why would Stark even care?

Tony's lips quirked up into a grin. "I just want to make sure you're not mad, Loks."

"Why are you even doing this?" Loki asked. "Clint and Natasha are right, you know. I'm just trouble, so… stay away from me." Loki looked him right in the eye, trying to drive his point home. He hadn't had friends in a long time and he wasn't going to start making them now. Loki only wanted to make it through high school and never have to see any of these people again.

"Hmm, I might just take that as a challenge."

"What?"

"The more everyone tells me to stay away, the more I want to talk to you."

Loki felt the hate and the rage heat up his blood. "So I'm just a game to you?" Loki seethed.

Tony's smile started to fade. "No, that's not-"

"Just stay away from me," Loki said lowly. He'd been played too many times in the past. So he pushed past Tony, heading for the exit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tony watched Loki leave and felt extremely conflicted. On one hand, he believed Loki was someone he could be friends with but on the other, maybe he should just follow Loki's advice and leave him alone. Loki clearly had a lot of issues. But thing was, Tony felt they were alike somehow.

He left the bathroom a moment after, looking both ways down the hallways for Loki. He was already gone, lost in the small crowds still making their way to lunch.

"Tony!" Pepper called, coming to Tony's side. "Natasha said that you just ran off. I came to find you."

"Pepper, can I ask you something? What's Loki's deal?" he asked, grabbing her arm and steering her towards the cafeteria. "Why's he so prickly?"

Pepper frowned and bit her lip. "I don't know, he just is," she said shrugging. "I think it all started in…. ninth grade? He just pushed all of his friends away and started fights and is the way he is now. Did you know that Natasha and I used to be friends with him?"

Tony tilted his head questionably and she smiled back. "But that was a long time ago," she said.

"I wonder what happened to him," Tony said.

"Guess we'll never know."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After school and after an extremely boring hour of detention, Loki left the school, determined to get as far away from it as possible. He opened the front doors and groaned. It was pouring. A lone black car idled in the space at the front of the parking lot: Odin's car.

Loki's hands tightened on his backpack straps as he stepped into the downpour, immediately becoming drenched. He could feel his hair plastering disgustingly over his face.

Despite the rain, Loki took his time getting to the car just to piss Odin off even more. When he arrived, he opened the car door, threw his backpack down onto the floor of the front seat, and got in gingerly, making sure to get as much of Odin's car wet as possible. In silence, he buckled himself in and slumped down in the seat, staring straight ahead.

The car continued to idle and Loki was forced to look up at his father. "You disappointed me again today, Loki," Odin said lowly. His hands were practically white as they clutched the steering wheel.

Loki breathed shallowly as he stared at his father. Slowly, Odin turned to look at him with the most loathing glare Loki could imagine. "It wasn't my fault," Loki said.

"The fight? The outburst? All of these things could be avoided if you would just shut up for once," Odin bit out.

Loki lowered his head, feeling the water from his hair drip down off his chin.

Odin continued, "Haven't I told you to blend in? Stay quiet, keep your head down-"

"Disappear?" Loki asked, looking up again.

"Exactly," Odin agreed.

Loki turned and leaned against the window, scowling. "Maybe I should run away," he mumbled.

"Don't be ridiculous," Odin said. "Your mother would be delirious."

Loki didn't respond, glaring out the window dully. Odin switched the gear of the car and pulled away from the curb to head home. Odin continued, "I don't know what to do with you anymore. Why must you always embarrass this family with your silly tantrums? It's pathetic, Loki. We don't need a mental case."

They zoomed down the road and Loki wanted nothing more to throw himself out of the car. It would be better than sitting with Odin.

Soon, they pulled into their driveway and before the car had even come to a full stop, Loki jumped out of the car and slammed the car door behind him. "Loki!" Odin called after him.

With his backpack in hand, Loki burst into the house, shedding water all over the floor from the rain. "Loki!" Frigga said in surprise, poking her head from the kitchen.

He couldn't look at her. Loki stomped past her and up the stairs, heading for his room on the end. Before he reached his room, the shouting started up from downstairs. Odin and Frigga were at it again and Loki realized for the thousandth time that it was his fault.

Loki dropped his backpack on the floor of his room, slammed the door shut, and kicked off his shoes. Without hesitation, Loki went to his window and threw it open. The sound of the rain drowned out his parents' shouts; it was comforting.

With a crack of lightning flashed overhead, Loki crawled out the window into the heavy rain, taking refuge in the only place he knew. He shoved the window back and balanced across the narrow ledge a few feet before sitting down on the slippery shingles. Water ran around his feet and soaked his socks.

He slowly pulled his knees to his chest as everything that happened that day came rushing back. Tears leaked from his eyes and finally, he let them fall. This was the only place he'd ever let himself cry.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tony rummaged through the boxes in his room when he heard the boom overhead as his room flashed with the sudden light. He glanced to his window and watched the rain fall across the darkened sky. He was about to go back to unpacking when he noticed Loki crawling out of his window. What was he doing out in the rain?

Tony pushed his box aside and watched Loki teeter across the roof and then flop down on the edge.

At first, it looked as if Loki were just sitting there but then Loki's shoulders began to shake. The sight froze Tony in place. This was Loki in his most vulnerable state; it felt as if he were intruding.

Creeping across the floor, he moved closer to the window to get a better look. Loki's hair was plastered to his face and he looked much like a dog left out in the rain. Tony caught a glance at Loki's scrunched-up crying face before Loki moved a hand up to cover his eyes.

"Jarvis, what do I do?" he said aloud to the A.I. in his phone, sitting on the bed.

"About what, sir?" he replied.

Tony took a step back from the window so that he wouldn't be seen by Loki. "Loks is out in the rain, crying. What do I do?"

"Well, you could interrupt him at risk of making him angry, or you could leave him alone to his own business which could be safer for the both of you."

Tony nodded, considering his options. "You know, Jarvis. I've never been one for the safe route."

He moved back out in front of the window to look at Loki. Loki had his head in both of his hands now, looking completely miserable.

Tony opened his window carefully. When it was fully open, Tony could hear the pounding of the rain and the light gasps of Loki's sobs. Thunder rolled overhead. Sighing, Tony leaned against his window sill to watch Loki. What should he say? Should even say anything at all?

"Loki," Tony said softly.

Loki froze; his cries silenced.

Tony frowned, struggling with his words. "What are you doing out here?"

No response.

"For crying out loud," Tony mumbled. He pushed himself up over the windowsill and onto his roof. Sliding a bit on the wet surface, Tony steadied himself against the edge of the house and then slid down so that he was mirroring Loki's pose.

"Look," Tony said, watching the boy intently. "You may think I'm some jerk like the other kids at school, but I'm not like that. I can see you for what you are." He let his words settle over Loki before continuing, "You don't need to tell me what's wrong or what happened because believe me, I know what it's like to be alone."

Loki slowly peeked up from his hands, his dark gaze settling on Tony. Tony swallowed and decided to remain silent. And then they just sat like that; silent in each other's company, even when it grew dark.

So when Loki finally stood to make his way back to his own window, Tony said, "I'm here whenever you need it."

Loki looked back and he looked almost hurt. "I don't need your pity." With that, he slammed his window shut and pulled the curtains shut.

"Well, shit," Tony

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