“Look, kid,” Tony says, bracing his hands on the edge of the work bench and watching Peter for any sign of movement. “Look. I don’t wanna stop you from making friends, right? But I really, really do not want you to make friends with him.”
Peter sighs, unfurling his fingers from their fists and pulling his backpack around so he can unzip it. “I get that, Mr Stark, I do. But I just.. Doesn’t he deserve a second chance?”
Tony scoffs. “Real funny, bud. Listen, I’m not going to stop you. But I will say I told you so if shit hits the fan.”
“Shit isn’t going to hit the fan,” Peter mumbles, and at Tony’s disbelieving glare, says, “Really! It won’t. Besides, I can look after myself.”
“I know you can,” Tony says, spinning on the heel of his foot and plucking a screwdriver from the black hole of mismatched tools and the occasional sock under one of his desks. “That’s what scares me.”
Peter glances up from pulling his chem homework out of his backpack to watch Tony stalk over to the most recent arrow prototype for Clint. “If it makes you feel better, I won’t interact with him out of the tower.”
“Not much, kid, but thanks for the effort,” Tony says, and thats kind of the end of that.
Bruce warns him about it next. Peter loves Bruce, he really does. Bruce is warm, and soft, and surprisingly cuddly.
“Peter, I’m just saying, Loki is dangerous,” Bruce says. “I would recommend staying as far away from him as possible.”
“So everyone says,” Peter mutters, feeling grumbly and tired and fed up. He has a cold (New York weather in February is the pits), and there’s a large bruise going slowly purple on his left cheek that aches every time he moves any muscle in his face. Tony also banned him from lab work til the broken fingers healed up (which, admittedly, wouldn’t take long with his powers, but still. The whole grounding scene kind of stung).
“We only say it because we care,” Bruce says, patiently. “We don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“I can look after myself,” Peter grinds out, and then he grabs the straps of his backpack in his broken hand (which- ouch) and stomps over to the door of Bruce’s lab. He stubs his toe on something or other that Bruce has out, which doesn’t make him feel better.
Maybe it’s an overreaction, but he had Tony warning him yesterday and Bruce warning him today and he can’t wait to see who’s next.
Clint is next.
“Hey, there, Spider and the Fly,” Clint says, vaulting over the back of the couch to land next to Peter. He jostles the essay Peter’s writing out (handwritten, because apparently the English teachers hate him) and makes the ink pen (a frighteningly expensive one from Tony’s pen pot) skid across the page and make a long, black smudge. “Shit. Sorry, man,” Clint says, staring at it.
“It’s fine,” Peter says, slowly capping the pen and moving his essay onto the coffee table. “What’s up?”
“Banner and Stark said you want to go making buddy-buddy with the resident evil magician,” Clint says bluntly.
Well, at least he doesn’t beat around the bush.
Peter shrugs. “I guess.”
“Why not?” Peter asks.
“Because I don’t wanna see you get hurt. He’s a master manipulator, arachnikid, and I don’t want you to get hurt like I did.”
“I can look after myself,” Peter says, but it might as well go unheard.
“I don’t want him to turn on you. You’re too young, kiddie, and if he gets in your head, he’ll fuck you up. And that’ll fuck Stark up, and then Steve will get all fucked too. And that’s no good for team moral, hey?” Clint continues. “So just leave Loki alone, and let us deal with him.”
“Right,” Peter says, reaching over to fold the inky pages up and shove them in his folder. Then he stands up, squeezes the ink pen in his fist till it bursts and glares at Clint. “Good talk.”
Then he turns and stalks directly into the open elevator, demanding JARVIS to take it down.
As far as dramatic exits go, that wasn’t so bad.
Steve is really hard to say no to. He’s also really hard to disappoint.
Peter does both.
“Peter,” Steve says, pulling out the bar stool at the breakfast bar in Tony’s kitchen. Peter’s sitting on the actual bar. “Son. We need to talk.”
“Not your son,” Peter mutters, tapping out a reply to MJ, Gotta go. He is beauty, he is grace, wants to chat.
MJ replies, LOL. I’ll make preparations for the funeral.
Peter isn’t actually sure on how to feel about Steve. He seems alright, but he’s also a soldier. The type of person who made hard decisions in the field, and then brought those decisions home with him.
“Right, well,” Steve sounds flustered now. “We need to talk about Loki.”
“What about him?” Peter asks, pretending to be engaged. He’s not. Unless Steve says something he hasn’t heard for the past three days, he really doesn’t see the point in listening.
“He’s.. dangerous. And unstable. And I’ve heard you want to talk to him, and I want to advise you against it,” Steve says. “Really, advise you against it. None of us want you to. Loki is too dangerous right now.”
“I thought he was locked up,” Peter says, “How can he be dangerous locked up?”
Steve grimaces. “He.. got free. Tony thinks it was Thor. But we’re unable to get him back in the handcuffs, so for now he’s wandering the tower. I’m surprised you haven’t already ran into him.”
And there we go. That’s it. Loki’s free, which means everyone is suddenly ten times more concerned about poor little Peter Parker, the guy who can stop a bus with his bare hands and throw a full sized adult the length of a football pitch.
All Peter does is grunt to show he’s heard.
“I’m aware Tony, Bruce, and Clint have talked to you about this. As Tony said, we can’t stop you. But we can advise you against it. And we really do advise you against it,” Cap says.
“I appreciate it, Captain, I do. But I can look after myself. I might be only seventeen, but I can hold my own.”
Steve nods. “Of course you can. We just.. care. That’s all. We’ve never had a kid on the team before, and none of us are really sure how to act.”
“I suggest you get sure, then,” Peter gripes. “Because if you can’t handle this, then I don’t know how you’ll handle the next time there’s an alien invasion.”
“Fair point,” Steve chuckles. “I’ll talk to the team about that. Just stay away from Loki, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Peter says, even though there’s no possibility he’s following through with it.
“Get up,” Natasha demands, prodding Peter’s shin with her pointer finger.
Peter frowns, shuffling over on the couch. “Why?”
“You want to see Loki. Come on. I’ve talked with the others, and they have no idea we’re doing this, so don’t tell them, but I’d rather you talk to him with me there, than alone,” Natasha says, “So, come on. I know where he is.”
Peter drops the book (To Kill a Mockingbird) on the couch cushion beside him and stands up. “Seriously?”
“Yes, seriously. Now, let’s go before Tony comes in here or something,” Natasha says, wrapping a hand around his wrist and tugging him to the elevator.
“Oh- okay,” Peter says, “Really?”
“Yes, really,” Natasha repeats. “But this is our secret. Because the others don’t want you to meet him, but if you don’t meet him now, you’ll do it on your own terms and that could end terribly. So you don’t tell any of the others until I do, okay? If this goes wrong, I take the blame.”
“You think its going to go wrong?” Peter asks.
“I couldn’t tell you, but it’s Loki. He’s unpredictable.”
That’s an understatement, really.
“Right,” Peter says. The elevator stops, and Natasha leads him out onto the roof.
Peter wasn’t even aware the elevator could go to the roof. He’s only really been to three of the floors (Tony’s, the common, and the lobby) but the roof is awesome. It’s kind of cold, but that’s to be expected since they’re fuck knows how many feet up, and it’s windy and Peter’s kind of shivery.
Loki is standing as close to the edge as he can possibly get, and Peter would be worried if the guy wasn’t an Asgardian, honestly. Natasha calls, “Loki! Get away from the edge! I don’t wanna be the one to tell Thor you took a nose dive!”
“My dear, lady Natasha,” Loki says, in his holier-than-thou drawl. “Why ever would you think I would nosedive? It would be the most graceful swan dive.”
Natasha snorts. “Sure. Listen, this Peter Parker-”
“The Spider-man?” Loki interrupts.
“Yes. He wants to say hi, and if you hurt him, you’ll have five angry Avengers on your ass,” Natasha tells him.
Loki smirks. “Don’t I always have five angry Avengers on my ass?”
“Huh,” Natasha says, “You’re learning.”
Peter chuckles under his breath. Loki’s eyes drag to his, and the green of them is almost painfully bright, nothing like Natasha’s muted green-grey.
“So, you’re the child who has ensnared the hearts of these warrior wannabes?” Loki asks, raising a sharp eyebrow.
“I resent the notion that I’m a child,” Peter mutters, and then louder, “I guess.” Loki is kind of scary up close. But he also looks kind of sad. Lonely. Like if he could, he would swan dive off of the tower.
“You’re kind of a child,” Natasha says.
“Not,” Peter says. “Can I talk to him alone?”
Natasha watches them both sort of suspiciously before nodding okay, and saying, “If anything happens to him, Loki, I will not hesitate in cutting off your dick and choking you with it, and nothing Thor can say will make a difference.”
“You do say the sweetest things,” Loki says, all flat. “Come, Spiderboy. If you have so much to say, let us go where no one else can hear it.”
Peter nods, following Loki back over to the edge of the roof, when Natasha calls out, “Seriously, Loki! If a single hair on his head has moved, you will have Hell to pay!”
Loki looks as if he’s already paid it, Peter thinks.
“So, Mr Loki,” Peter starts. “Loki.”
“So, Mr Spider,” Loki mimics. So he does have a sense of humor. Huh. Peter files that away for future reference.
“Um.. Are you- Are you okay?” Peter asks, “Like, really okay?”
Loki makes a huffy sound in the back of his throat. “I didn’t realise I would be talking about my inner emotions with you, child.”
“We’re not, I just. You look sad, Mr Loki,” Peter says, shrugging. The wind whistles past his ears and whips his hair back. New York is cold in January anyway, and up one hundred odd floors, its even worse. “And I was wondering why.”
Loki turns his attention to the pavement, staring at the people and cars making traffic jams on the streets below. “They look much like ants, do they not?” He asks, instead of answering.
Peter figures he’ll get more from Loki’s cryptic answers than anything else. “From up here, yeah,” he replies.
“They look like ants all the time, to my brother and I,” Loki says, “We could both crush any and all of you on a whim.”
Peter shrugs. “So? So could a bus.”
Loki stares at him now, piercing green, uncomfortably green, eyes boring directly into his skull til it feels like Loki can read his mind. He’s silent for a long time, Peter can almost taste it, but he can’t bring himself to look back at him.
“You are unlike any I have met before, child,” Loki says, “It is rare for a mortal to surprise me.”
Peter thinks that’s probably the closest he’ll get to a compliment from Loki. For now, anyway.
Peter’s baking cookies in Tony’s kitchen when Loki teleports (or the anti-hero, Asgard equivalent) onto the counter next to him.
Peter, to his credit, doesn’t jump. He just cracks another egg into the bowl. “Good morning, Mr Loki.”
“Loki,” Loki says, and that’s all he says for a while. Until Peter’s cookies are in the oven and there’s two minutes left on the timer.
“I suppose, after what you said, I do not feel okay,” Loki says finally. “I appreciate you being able to recognise that.”
Peter glances up at Loki, and then away when the God sends a smouldering glare back at him. “You’re, uh, welcome. I guess.”
“Children are ever more perceptive than their seniors, don’t you think?” Loki asks rhetorically. “Thank you.”
“Not a child,” Peter says. The timer beeps, so he says, “Want a cookie?”
Loki scoffs. “I have no need for Midgardian foods.”
(They spend the afternoon eating chocolate chip cookies, and then Peter manages to persuade Loki to watch Star Wars with him).
Loki has snuck his way onto the common Avengers floor, and is reclining on the longest couch when Peter walks in.
“Oh, hey Mr Loki,” Peter says, dumping his backpack on the floor in front of the comfiest armchair and then dumps himself into it and pulls his math binder out of the bag. Loki doesn’t reply, which makes Peter look up. “Loki? Are you okay?”
His eye is purpling, and his lip is bleeding in the left corner.
“Shoot, Loki,” Peter says, dropping his math binder and tripping over to sit on his knees beside Loki. “What happened? Can I help you?”
Loki turns to him, and the damage looks horrifyingly worse. It’s just a bruised eye, and a split lip, but it still makes Peter’s insides twist painfully. “I’m fine, child. Run along, now.”
Peter frowns. “You’re not fine. Who did this? How did it happen?”
Loki sighs. “You do not give up, do you?”
“I try not to,” Peter says.
“It was the Captain,” Loki says. “He decided he disapproves of my hanging around here so much.”
Peter frowns, feeling the telltale swirl of anger in his belly. “Why are you hanging around here?”
Loki manages to convey the I-thought-you-were-smarter-than-this look with one eye. “I was waiting for you, child.”
The anger curls into a ball of warm-light-happy. “Loki.. Did you explain that to him?”
“He was under the impression I was waiting to ambush you.”
The ball is back into anger.
“I’m sorry he did that,” Peter says, “I’ll talk to him. Can I hug you?”
Loki frowns, “Hug? Me?”
“Yeah, you. Is that okay?”
“I suppose,” Loki says, so Peter climbs onto the sofa and wrap his arms around Loki’s neck.
When Tony walks in half an hour later, he swears he had a heart attack. Something about seeing Peter sitting on the couch, curled up against Loki, with Loki’s long fingers curling through Peter’s hair (with no malicious intent) makes his brain stop and start.