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A Christmas Dance

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Gwen walked into her apartment later than she had hoped. After spending a tiring day with Kate Bishop Christmas shopping for her brother and friends, all the ex-mercenary wanted to do was flop into her bed and sleep. Yet as she dropped her car keys on the kitchen counter, her eyes landed on an invitation she placed there the night before. It came in the mail about five days ago. She fiddled with it, rotating the card with her finger as she reread the elegant text.

Miss Gwen Poole,
You are Invited to Attend
A Christmas Party on
Friday, December 17th
At (random convention center name)
Time to Arrive is 8 P.M.
And it will End at Midnight.

Come Enjoy a Night of
Socializing and Dancing!

In the bottom left corner Gwen read, written in a slightly messy, blocky script, 'You better come or I'll come and get you personally! ~Doreen
P.S. A certain "God of Mischief" will be extremely disappointed if you don't. Just FYI ;)'

The girl sighed, chuckling silently. For months, Doreen had been trying to hook her up with Loki. Sure, they were friends, but that's all Gwen saw in Loki--a friend. To Thor and the rest of her friends' surprise--well, all of Avengers practically--Gwen and Loki got along quite well. She knew how to handle his cheekiness, getting him back when he pranked her. He never went too far with them, to her relief, and she played just as fair. From her point of view, it was just for fun. They were two friends who enjoyed messing with each other. Not once did she think that her actions would be considered flirting; yet to some people, specifically Squirrel Girl, that was all they saw.

Gwen's thoughts were running a hundred miles an hour. Did she really come across as a flirt? Did Loki think she showed interest in him? Yeah, he was attractive, with his shoulder-length black hair, stunning green eyes, and lean figure . . . Gwen's heart sped up and her face flushed when she realized where her mind was taking her. She groaned as she sat on one of the bar stools. She ran her hands through her slightly disheveled hair. Her blue eyes darted to the microwave. The clock read 9:15. She still had time to freshen up and change for the party. Gwen stared at the invitation as she debated whether or not to go. Her answer came in the form of Doreen Green.

 

Loki couldn't help but glance at the front doors occasionally. It was nearly ten, and he still didn't see Gwen among the hundreds of people in attendance. Around nine, the god thought about texting her to see if she was coming, but Doreen told him not to worry, and that she had it taken care of. Without another word, the want-to-be hero jogged towards the doors of the convention hall, taking the steps two at a time. Her Superhero costume covered her along the way. The moment she opened the doors she ran off to get Gwen.

Thor, who currently stood beside Loki, noted how out of sorts his brother was. He clapped a hand on Loki's back. "Don't fret, brother," Thor said with a smile. "Lady Gwen will come."

Loki guffawed sarcastically. "So you say, but do you really think she'll come if Doreen forces her to?" he asked Thor, raising an eyebrow.

The God of Thunder's mouth opened and closed repeatedly as he thought of an answer. "It's possible, Loki," he finally replied with a shrug.

Loki shook his head at his thick-headed brother. "You don't know Gwen. She's stubborn and doesn't like being forced to do things. Doreen's in for a surprise."

Thor laughed. "How have you come to know this, Loki? Is it from experience?"

"As a matter of fact, yes," Loki said smartly. "Let's just say I learned my lesson."

Thor chuckled deeply as he bit back a smile. "I want to hear this story, brother, but on another day." His bright blue eyes wandered to the door. They twinkled. "It appears you have been proven wrong. Doreen returns victorious."

"What?" Loki followed Thor's gaze. His heart stopped. Beside a smug Doreen--who was combing her hair back into place--stood Gwen. Her cheeks were flushed either from the cold or from embarrassment. From the look on her face, Loki deduced it was the latter. She glared at Doreen, who just brushed it off and returned to the party as if she never left, picking up a glass of scotch along the way. Gwen's eyes scanned the sea of people before descending the stairs. Her pastel pink ankle length dress flattered her figure, falling perfectly around her. It shimmered like stars in the light. Silver embroidery adorned the scooping neckline, bodice, and gossamer cap sleeves of the dress. Her blond and pink hair was styled simply, yet it complimented the dress nicely. Loki couldn't take his eyes off of Gwen.

Thor smirked at Loki. "You must tell her how you truly feel," he told his brother, lowering his voice so only Loki could hear his words.

Loki's shoulders sank as he sighed. "No. I cannot. She may be the only true Midgardian friend I have, and I don't want to ruin our--"

"Loki," Thor said with an assuring smile. "Fear not. Just follow your heart and everything will fall into place. Trust me." Before Loki could add anything else, Thor patted his shoulder, grinning broadly, and left his side to converse with other guests.

The God of Mischief watched his brother disappear into the crowd. When he could no longer be seen, Loki returned his gaze to where he last saw Gwen. She had moved off to the side of the stairs, standing outside of the crowd. Her eyes moved from person to person, following couples as the danced across the floor. Loki imagined how she felt right now: awkward, maybe shy, unsure of what to do. Even though she was a social person, Gwen did have a dash of shyness about her. Loki smiled. Knowing what to do, he tugged on the lapels of his black tailored tux and started making his way towards her. His smile disappeared when a random man approached her, holding out his hand. Gwen gave him a weak smile and a nod before taking his hand, letting him guide her to a not too crowded area.

Loki's eyes narrowed at the average looking man. He won this time, or so he thought.

Each of Loki's attempts to ask Gwen to dance had been foiled. Two of the times were by members of the Avengers. Steve Rodgers asked her after she had taken a small break, then Clint Barton. Even Nova asked her to dance, but to Loki's relief, she declined. Gwen seemed to enjoy dancing with Steve and Clint. She smiled and laughed occasionally as they conversed lightly. Loki realized he felt jealousy towards Barton and Rodgers. He wasn't fast enough in asking Gwen to dance. After failing for the tenth time(yes, he kept track), the Asgardian went to the refreshment tables and picked up a glass of spirits, hoping the liquid would lift his own spirit some.

"The other reindeer aren't letting you play, too, eh?" Doreen said as she claimed the open spot beside Loki. She couldn't help but laugh at her own joke before sipping at yet another glass of scotch.

Loki uncharacteristically ignored Doreen's attempt to lighten his mood. He just growled in annoyance and downed the glass of champagne.

"Woah, easy there," Doreen warned, taking the glass away from Loki. "You know, you could just cut in," she reminded the god. "Or do you guys not allow that at the North Pole?"

Loki rolled his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, sighing exasperatedly. From the ridiculousness of Doreen's word choice, he knew he was downing glass after glass of his favorite beverage. "No," he said dully. "It's allowed, Doreen. For some reason, I can't bring myself to do it."

"Don't tell me that you, Loki, the God of Mischief, are afraid to ask Gwen to dance?" Doreen said rather loudly, to Loki's embarrassment. Some of the guests close by looked to them skeptically before returning to their conversations.

"Shut it, Girl of Squirrel!" Loki hissed, shooting Doreen a glare.

"Then why haven't you danced with her yet?" Doreen quirked an eyebrow in curiosity. When Loki didn't answer he smirked victoriously. "Loki, listen to me." Doreen draped an arm across Loki's shoulders as he waved his nearly empty glass around. "The chances of this happening again are slim, so you need to take advantage of it. When are you going to see Gwen looking like that again?" Doreen pointed Gwen out to Loki. She currently sat in a chair next to Romanov, sipping at a glass of what looked like a punch.

"You're right, Green," Loki said as he placed his empty champagne flute on the table. "I need to take advantage of this night and share it with Gwen." He gave Doreen a small smile. "Wish me luck."

"Don't chicken out this time!" Squrriel Girl said with a grin.

"Oh, I shan't!" Loki said over his shoulder. With that he hurried over to Gwen, weaving through the crowd expertly.

"Atta boy," Doreen smirked. She looked down at this tumbler, shrugged, and finished off the scotch.

Gwen caught movement out of the corner of her eye. She chuckled at something Natasha said as she glanced to her right. Her eyes fell on Loki, who glided over to her with a small smile on his face. Gwen's heart thumped in her chest at the sight of him. Loki looked very sharp in his black tuxedo. The vest he wore underneath was shiny gold. His shirt was a dark green and he wore a gold tie around his neck. His raven hair was slicked back, flipping out naturally at the ends. What made her blush was the gentleness of his eyes. Loki had never looked at her in such a way.

"May I have this dance?" Loki asked Gwen, offering her a hand.

Gwen glanced at Natasha. The Avenger smiled, nudging her head towards the crowd of people. Loki could have sworn Gwen blushed as she got to her feet and accepted his hand. "Sure," Gwen answered softly.

While Loki led Gwen to a less crowded area of the room, Natasha's smile turned into a smirk. Gwen had just shared with her how she felt about Loki. Nat's eyes found Clint, who stood not too far away. He had a smirk on his face as well. When his eyes found hers, he walked to her and claimed the now empty chair. "They better hook up after this," Natasha said to Clint.

"I'm sure they will," Clint replied. "The guy needs someone like her."

Loki was the one that started some small talk. "I thought you wouldn't come tonight," Loki said as they walked.

"I didn't get home until nine-fifteen," Gwen explained to Loki. "I was thinking about coming when Doreen barged in and forced me to get ready."

"And was she successful?" Loki inquired coolly.

"Nearly," Gwen said with a smirk. "I kneed her pretty hard when she went for my shirt."

Loki laughed mirthfully. "I knew she'd have some difficulty." They had reached the spot that caught his eye. He quickly walked around her, keeping her hand in his. "Thor thought otherwise."

Gwen chuckled at Loki's statement. "It seems that Thor and I need to become better acquainted."

"Agreed." Loki placed a hand on the small of Gwen's back, lifting the hand he held to be shoulder height. Gwen rested her free hand on Loki's bicep. She couldn't help but notice how toned his muscles were, even though his build was lean. Loki started swaying back and forth in time to the current enpop style Christmas song that played. Gwen matched his pace easily.

"You look beautiful tonight," Loki complimented Gwen. She gave him a small smile as her cheeks gained a pink glow once more.

"Thank you, Loki," Gwen said kindly. "You look great, yourself."

"I have Nancy to thank for the clothes," Loki admitted with a sheepish smile. "She insisted I become "easy on the eyes", or something to that effect."

Gwen giggled. "I'll have to tell Nancy she did a good job helping you. You really do look great."

"Thank you." Loki's heart fluttered at her compliment. "It will take some getting used to, but I like the look as well."

The pop song faded out and another began. Gwen recognized it just two notes in. Loki caught her broadening smile. "This song is peaceful," he noted.

"Yes, it is," Gwen agreed. "This rendition is my favorite."

"The piano is nice," Loki admitted. "May I have one more dance?"

"Of course, Loki."

Loki quickly counted the beat of the song. It was waltz tempo. He adjusted his hold on Gwen so he could dance with her properly. Gwen did the same. Waltz was an intimate dance form, not like the tango, but still danced in close proximity. Standing with her body so close to Loki's made Gwen's heart race. They shared a shy smile before he leads her into a waltz. He began with a basic box step, mentally making sure not to step on Gwen's feet. After eight counts he traveled forward, indicating the motion to Gwen. She followed him effortlessly. With more confidence, Loki leads Gwen into promenade position, guiding her across the floor. They danced like professionals, which caught the eye of many of the guests, including the Avengers.

The couple stayed silent, afraid to say a word and ruin the special moment. They locked eyes occasionally, sharing a warm smile before moving into the next step. Gwen was impressed with Loki, loving the fact he knew how to dance so well. As they danced, Gwen realized her feelings for Loki were stronger than she thought. She was falling in love with him. She saw adoration in Loki's eyes every time they glanced at each other. Did he really feel the same?

Loki gradually came to a stop as the song slowed. He kept his arms around her, treasuring the moment they had shared. Those who had stopped to watch him and Gwen began clapping, having enjoyed the show. Doreen whistled loudly, which made both of them flush scarlet. They bit back embarrassed smiles and laughed lightly. Before Gwen took one step away, Loki placed his lips by her ear. "I have something to tell you," he whispered. "Would it be alright if we talked privately?"

Gwen nodded in response. Loki took her hand in his and lead her out of the main room and into the hall. They had to pass by the Avengers, to Loki's dislike. When Doreen winked at him oh so subtly and nudged him with an arm, Loki glared. The god waited for Doreen to place her lips to the tumbler before freezing them to the glass. He smirked victoriously as Doreen started panicking, motioning for help. That should keep her and the other Avengers occupied for a while. Gwen's giggle made it all the more satisfying.

"What do you want to talk about?" Gwen asked once they were out of earshot.

"Well . . ." Loki's eyes darted to the floor nervously. "I, uh . . ." The Asgardian sighed heavily as he rubbed the back of his neck. "I don't know how to approach this, really. My experience is very limited."

Gwen gave him an assuring smile. "It's alright. Take your time. Believe it or not, I am a patient woman."

Loki laughed. He felt his nerves loosen some. With renewed confidence, he started again. "Gwen, I have valued your friendship for many months. I enjoy the mischief we cause and spending time together outside of work." Loki reached for Gwen's hands and held them in his. "I'm hoping that we can continue those things while we, um . . ." He cleared his throat. "Date."

"Date?" Gwen echoed. Her blue widened in surprise. Loki panicked when he saw the change.

"Well, yes," Loki said in a rush. He now felt embarrassed for even trying to ask. "If you don't want to I understa--"

"Loki!" Gwen pulled her hands away from Loki's and placed them on his shoulders. "Slow down! I'm just a little surprised, is all." She paused. "I'd love to date you," she answered softly.

Loki gave her a skeptical look. "You better not be joking with me, Gwen."

Gwen rolled her eyes. "I'm serious Loki," she chuckled. "I would never play with your emotions. I'm not that mean. I do want to date you."

Loki's gaze softened when he saw her sincerity. "Really?" he asked quietly.

The beautiful woman standing in front of him nodded. "Really."

Loki rested a hand on Gwen's waist. He placed his other hand on her cheek tentatively. Gwen felt her face heat up and her heart race again as he drew her closer to him. He leaned in towards her face, brushing his nose against hers. When she felt his lips touch hers, her eyes fluttered shut. Loki's kiss was hesitant at first, but when she slowly returned it, he wrapped his arms around her, kissing her softly over and over again.

"Lokes," Gwen said in between kisses.

"Yes?" he said, his voice slightly husky. He looked at her tenderly.

"I love you," she said shyly. Her face was an adorable shade of pink.

Loki smiled. "I love you, too."

"Loki!" Thor thundered.

"What?" Loki snapped back.

"We cannot free Girl of Squirrel's lips from the glass!"

Loki and Gwen burst into laughter. "Oh, I'm sure you'll find a way," Loki said as he linked his arm with Gwen's, leading her back to the party. He smirked at Doreen. "Besides, I believe that should be Doreen's last glass of scotch for the night."

Doreen groaned in embarrassment. She nearly jumped Loki, except Thor and Steve kept her back. Natasha and Bruce held onto each other in order to stay upright; they were laughing pretty hard at how ridiculous Doreen looked. Clint struggled to keep a straight face. He didn't know whether to observe or to help the Cap or Thor with Doreen. Each of the Avengers received glares from Doreen, which made them laugh harder. Loki weakened the magic a little, allowing the glass to thaw slowly. In the meantime, he took Gwen into his arms and danced with her for the rest of the night, keeping her to himself.