The Avengers were finishing up a mission in London. They had been alerted to the signature of an unknown entity and had gone to investigate, as the computers couldn’t tell whether it was an alien or mutant. The thing had been so fast that the sightings reported were a mix of information, and any video was useless.
Loki accompanied them and his presence was always contentious. While he was on “probation” and required to go on missions, he could either be a help or hindrance. Usually he did the bare minimum required of him.
He walked beside Thor on a sidewalk as they tried to pinpoint the last known location of the thing they were hunting. They were both dressed in casual clothing to avoid being recognized.
“Target sighted!” Steve Rogers’ voice came over the comm. “Moving fast toward you, Thor!”
Steve and Bucky Barnes were chasing after the target, which looked like a woman with long hair and dressed in pale blue clothing. As fast as they could run, the woman outdistanced them to where they’d almost lost sight of her.
Thor and Loki could see the commotion, with pedestrians moving to make a path for the chase. Suddenly, the woman slammed into Loki, staggering him just slightly before she fell to the concrete.
She lay still, stunned, as Loki leaned over her to grab her arms. He pulled her upright and kept hold, one arm around her waist. As soon as he touched her, a small hand went to the side of his neck. They were then enveloped in a shimmering cloud of pale blue and green.
Loki could barely hear his brother’s voice as he and the woman were suddenly in a dark, cold vortex. He recognized instantly that she was attempting to teleport, and was dragging him with her. He also got a sense of her, realizing that she was injured and simply trying to escape what she perceived as danger.
She succeeded in taking him with her, causing Thor to stare in disbelief as his brother simply disappeared with the strange woman clinging to him.
“No!” Loki pressed his hand against the woman’s cheek and spoke authoritatively to her. “You take us back, now!”
Fear. Pain. Danger.
Loki sensed it all from his contact with her as he wrestled to guide them back to where they’d left. He pictured Thor as he was dressed and was astonished when she fought him to prevent going back there.
She was strong and Loki somehow knew that she would take him almost anywhere, on Earth or a different realm if he wasn’t quick. He pictured the Avengers tower and projected it to her, forcing the path upon her.
Steve and Bucky had reached Thor by then, just in time to see Loki and the woman disappear into that shimmering cloud. They all stood in disbelief at what had happened.
Then Steve raised his hand to his earpiece as he listened.
“They’re at the tower. Dr. Banner has her contained.”
When the team arrived back at the tower, they wasted no time going to the area where the woman had been put into the glass cell, dubbed the Fishbowl.
Loki and Bruce Banner were there, watching her. She was currently laying in the floor in the center of the cell and curled up in a fetal position. Bruce was keeping an eye on the computer monitors.
“Brother, are you alright?” Thor asked him as he came to stand beside him.
Thor glanced at him and saw that Loki’s eyes were flicking about the cell.
“What is it?” Thor asked.
“Can you not see her?” Loki asked without turning his gaze away from the object of his interest.
“She’s there, in the floor,” Thor replied.
Thor looked again. “I see nothing unusual, Brother, other than a slight mist.”
“She is teleporting, in short bursts, trying to find a weakness in the glass,” Loki said, watching in fascination.
“She’s what?” Steve asked.
“Look,” Bruce spoke up. “I’ve been recording her. Watch.”
Bruce played back a portion of the footage, slowing it down so that they could see what Loki was seeing in real-time. It looked as if the woman was flitting rapidly around the cell like a trapped bird, touching and kicking at the glass repeatedly.
“Why can’t she break it?” Steve asked.
“I put a spell on it,” Loki replied, “but it won’t hold her much longer.”
“Can she be sedated?” Steve then asked.
“If you open that cell now, she will escape and be out of reach immediately,” Loki replied. “However, it may be possible to do that soon. She is injured and getting tired.”
“Is there a way to stop that...teleporting thing?” Tony Stark asked, from his place beside Bruce.
“Sedation?” Bruce offered again, uncertainly.
“Maybe we could try talking to her first,” Steve said.
“You’re assuming that she’d be able to understand us,” Tony replied.
“Quiet,” Loki snapped. “She can certainly hear you!”
He had continued to silently watch the prisoner while the others tried to come up with a plan of action. Thor stood beside him, also watching although he couldn’t see what Loki could.
“No,” Bruce told him. “I have the audio turned off.”
Loki nodded slightly in acknowledgment.
“She’s stopped,” Loki said, after about five minutes.
As if on cue, the woman curled into a tighter ball before slowly pushing herself upright. She sat that way for a moment before unsteadily getting to her feet, which were bare.
She brushed her long dark hair away from her face before taking hesitant steps toward the cell wall directly in front of Bruce and the computer monitors. Her blue-green eyes studied him briefly while her fingers lightly touched the glass. Bruce felt an almost imperceptible cool touch on his forehead.
“Human.” The soft voice caused him to jump slightly.
Then she took a couple more steps, in turn looking at Tony, Steve and Bucky. They felt the soft touch and heard the same soft voice before she moved on to Thor and Loki.
When she stopped in front of Thor, she studied him a bit longer than she had the others. Her gaze went from him to Loki, and then back several times before she sat down directly in front of them, knees up and ankles crossed.
Both men met her gaze without speaking, watching as her graceful fingers continued to touch the glass, as if she were able to feel Loki’s spell on it. She turned her head to look around the cell, her gaze taking in every detail.
“Sorcerer. You cannot contain me much longer, your spell will break soon. What will you do then?”
Loki didn’t react when she addressed him directly, he simply studied her face. She had an injury on either her head or face, which was hidden by caked blood and her hair. She turned her attention from him to the bottom of her foot, which had a cut on it, examined the wound before digging out a rather large piece of glass and tossing it away. Blood then stained her fingers and foot but she ignored it.
Loki could tell that she was nearing exhaustion and felt that the time was now for attempting to subdue her. He turned away, indicating that Thor should follow him. They went a short distance away and spoke briefly while she watched them with interest.
When they came back toward the cell door, she stood and slowly backed away. Loki renewed his spell, while strengthening it at the door. He wasn’t sure if it would prevent her from escaping, but it might delay her long enough for them to get their hands on her so that he could bind her.
“Close the door as soon as we are through,” Loki instructed Bruce. “Do not open it until I say.”
“Are you sure about this?”
When the cell door opened, the prisoner did try to get through it but Loki’s spell knocked her back, much to her dismay. Once the two men were inside, Loki created doubles of himself and Thor, hoping to confuse her. She started teleporting again, unaware that Loki could see her.
The illusions started disappearing once she touched them and then Thor was sent to the floor when her feet landed hard in the backs of his knees while at the same time his hair received a vicious yank. He rolled over in time to see Loki extend a hand and then slam the woman to the floor.
“Brother, her feet please,” Loki said calmly while he held her down by the throat and one hand. Her free hand tried to reach his face in vain, so she scratched his arm and fought his grip on her neck. Loki then pressed his knee into her hips to further immobilize her until Thor could assist.
Once Thor got close enough to reach for her, she drew both feet back and kicked out toward his chest. He went flying once again, which both amused and irritated Loki. He used his seidr to lock her wrist and neck to the floor then moved to her knees then ankles. Finally, he locked down her remaining hand, then glanced over at Thor, who got up rather sheepishly.
Loki looked down at the woman, who wore an expression of surprise that she’d been trapped so easily; he’d expected to see fear and anger. He could tell her mind was working as she quietly tested each bond he had placed on her.
“Now, little one, you are to behave,” he told her.
“Behave?” She asked, then gave him a delighted smile. “That is unlikely.”
Loki’s surprise lasted only a moment as she turned her attention to Thor, who was watching the exchange curiously.
“And you, did I hurt you?”
“Of course not,” Thor replied.
“Pity,” she said with a sigh. “I should like to try again.”
Loki turned his face away from her so that he couldn’t see his smile while he choked back a laugh at Thor’s growl. When he’d finally composed himself, he reached for her neck and then slowly dragged his fingers along her skin until he’d created a gold collar for her.
Her brow furrowed in consternation as she felt the foreign object on her and then the restriction that it placed on her powers. Loki moved both of her hands to her waist, but kept her immobilized.
“You are to be moved but so that you don’t think that you can escape, you will sleep during it,” Loki said.
“Sleep?” She asked, a bit uneasily.
Loki didn’t reply but placed his hand gently on her forehead and held it there until she went limp under his touch.
Lyssa woke with a start, looking around anxiously until she remembered what had happened. She was now in a different place than the glass cell and she recognized that it was a smaller room, perhaps some type medical location.
She started to sit up but then realized that she was restrained by leather cuffs and straps that secured her chest, wrists, knees and ankles.
A bit of overkill, she thought as she tested each restraint. Ah, an ankle was loose, and a wrist just might be loose enough to be slipped free.
She had been so intent on the leather cuffs that she hadn’t seen Loki sitting in the corner, silently watching her. He finally got up to approach the bed, eliciting a tiny squeak of surprise from her. He’d been volunteered to speak to her first, since he would more likely be able to stop any tricks she might try.
“There you are, handsome,” she said with a smile. “I was wondering when you’d show up.”
Loki smiled back at her. “Your wounds have been treated. Fortunately they weren’t too deep and only took a few stitches.”
“Stitches,” she said, rolling the unfamiliar word around. “Ah, they closed the cuts with threads. Outdated, but they shouldn’t have bothered. They’ll be healed shortly.”
Loki studied her for a moment before gently reaching out to cup her chin so that she would look at him. Her eyes met his fearlessly.
“Why are you not afraid?” He asked quietly.
“I’ve been here before, a long time ago,” she replied. “What’s your name?”
“What’s yours?” He countered.
“I asked you first.”
“Loki,” he replied, allowing his hand to move slowly down her neck, then arm. “Now yours.”
She started to reply but then he yanked the buckle on her wrist, taking up the slack. He grinned slightly at her reproving look. Lyssa tugged on the cuffs, then laid her head back onto the pillow.
“A little tight there, bub,” she said as he checked the remaining straps, then tightened the one on her ankle.
“Now, your name,” he said once he was satisfied that she was secured. “You do have one, don’t you?”
“Of course I do,” Lyssa replied. “Funny thing though, I can’t remember it right off. That guy must have hit my head harder than I thought.”
“Hmm.” Loki straightened the gown she’d been dressed in once her soiled clothes had been removed. “You’re lying.”
“What? I’m not…..wait, now I remember! Loki, god of mischief, and lies.”
Loki gave a start and looked at her more closely. “How would you know that?”
“I’ve also been to Asgard,” she replied, “but we’ve never met. Hey, that other man — that was Thor, right?”
“He’s a bit clumsy, isn’t he.”
Loki tried hard not to laugh, knowing that the others were watching the exchange from outside, and that Thor would not appreciate being called ‘clumsy.’
“At times,” he replied, laughing softly after all. “But you were going to tell me your name.”
“Very well. It’s Lyssa.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lyssa,” he said with a slight bow. “Now — “
“Hey, I’m hungry. Am I going to be strapped down like this for the remainder of my time here?”
“As I was saying,” Loki gave her a stern look at her interruption. “There are others here that would like to talk to you.”
“Fine,” Lyssa replied, amiably. “Hey, where are my clothes?”
“My name isn’t ‘hey’,” he said, frustrated.
“Loki, may I please inquire where my clothes have gone and whether I will be getting food shortly?” She asked, quite formally.
“Your clothes were ruined and we’ll see about food for you once it’s decided where you should be kept.”
“I could stay with you,” Lyssa gave him a sly smile.
“Out of the question.”
“Well, poo,” she pouted, playfully.
“Unbelievable,” Tony groaned, after watching the monitors and listening to Loki and Lyssa. “She’s a teenager and is crushing on your brother.”
“She’s much older than you think she is,” Thor replied gruffly.
“Oh, come on, you’re not really that clumsy,” Tony tapped Thor’s bicep.
Thor gave a chuckle and slapped Tony’s back, which staggered the man a couple of steps.
“Let’s go talk to her.”
Tony, Thor and Bruce went to the room where she was being held, while Steve and Bucky decided to wait, since the room was small. They filed in and Loki moved aside for them.
Lyssa watched them with interest until Bruce came in. Then she just lost her mind. All four men were startled by her shriek of fear, then by her thrashing against her restraints. Thor and Loki both moved to hold her down and she succeeded in sinking her teeth into Thor’s forearm.
“Be easy, no one’s going to hurt you,” Thor tried to assure her as he extricated his arm and sleeve.
“I think I should just...wait outside,” Bruce told them quietly, then backed out of the room.
Lyssa closed her eyes as she tried to calm herself while several tears rolled down her cheeks. Without thinking, Loki reached over and wiped them away.
“What just happened?” Tony asked. “Why are you so afraid of Bruce?”
Lyssa yanked again at the leather holding her. “I’m done talking until I’m released and given food and clothes.”
She turned her face away from them and closed her eyes again. Loki watched her for a moment, noticing that her breath was shaky.
“Alright, then,” Tony said. “We’ll see what we can do.”
Once he’d left, Thor rolled his sleeve up to take a look the bite she’d given him. He found only a small red mark and rolled his sleeve back down.
“Did that hurt?” Lyssa asked without looking at him.
“Not at all,” he replied.
“Damn,” she murmured.
Loki covered his mouth and cleared his throat, once again trying not to laugh. Thor grinned and gently ruffled her hair, earning a wry expression from her.
“We’ll be back shortly,” Loki told her.
“Alright,” she replied, once again pulling on her wrists. “But I’m very hungry.”
“It won’t be long,” Thor told her.
She nodded and closed her eyes when they left the room. A short time later, a woman came in with a food tray and clothes. Lyssa waited patiently while her restraints were removed, then sat up when the food was pushed to the bed for her. The woman left, taking the tray covers with her.
“So, they're starving me, then,” Lyssa said to the empty room.
She began to eat with her fingers, ignoring the cutlery provided for her. Whatever she had been given (roast beef, whole potatoes, carrots, and bread) was good and she wanted more once she’d finished everything.
Lyssa then examined the clothes that had been left for her. She instantly took a dislike to the one piece suit that looked like some type of uniform. She put it back down and then sat on the bed to wait.
Loki returned and came in after giving a soft knock. He gave her a questioningly look.
“You’re not dressed.”
“I’m not wearing that,” she replied, leaning back on her hands and stretching her legs out.
Loki couldn’t help but admire them and smiled at her when she noticed where his gaze had gone. She wiggled her toes and grinned at him.
“The material is coarse. I have very sensitive skin and I don’t like it,” Lyssa replied. “I will go naked before putting that on.”
Oh, the vision that intruded into Loki’s thoughts. He quickly stamped it down.
“Your shirt is very soft. Is there something like that?” She asked. “Pants and tunic?”
“Stand up,” he told her, then watched as she quickly obeyed.
He stepped forward, then placed his hand on her shoulder. Almost instantly, she was covered in pale green clothing similar to what was taken from her, along with slippers. Lyssa ran her hands over the material speculatively.
“This is much better, thank you,” She told him, with a grateful smile.
“You’re welcome,” he replied. “Now, come with me. We have a room for you.”
“Are you sure that I can’t stay with you?” Her question was sincere.
“Quite sure,” Loki replied, opening the door and gesturing her forward.
Lyssa peeked out into the hallway, looking both ways before stepping out of her room. She waited for Loki to lead the way, surprising him by taking hold of his forearm as they walked.
“No one will harm you,” he told her. “But here are the rules: you will behave and stay where we put you. The collar will prevent you from teleporting and from leaving the premises. If you try to remove it or escape, I will know instantly. And you won’t like the consequences if that should happen.”
“Ooo, does that mean you would spank me?”
“Don’t tempt him, he’d probably enjoy it.”
Tony’s voice startled her and she gave a yelp before quickly hiding behind Loki and gripping his shirt at the waist. Tony and Thor grinned while Loki looked perplexed.
“Is he here?” She asked, while peeking from behind Loki’s arm.
“Bruce? He’s in his lab,” Tony told her. “He won’t hurt you.”
“It’s the other guy that I’m concerned about,” Lyssa replied, shakily.
“Okay, I have to know just why you talk like a teenager, and why you’re not afraid of anyone here except for Dr. Banner,” Tony said, looking over his glasses at her. “And how you know about the other guy.”
“When in Rome,” she said with a shrug. “And I’m not ready to talk about anything else right now. And I’m still hungry.”
“Still?” Tony was incredulous. “Weren’t you given food before Loki brought you here?”
“I sure was, dude. But I. Am. Still. Hungry.”
“‘Dude’, she called me ‘dude’,” Tony said with a laugh.
“You’re mocking me,” Lyssa said, her temper rising. “I may not be able to damage the god of thunder here, but I would have no trouble at all putting the hurt on you, even with this collar on.”
Loki put out his arm when she started to come around him toward Tony. Thor was also ready to stop her if she made it past Loki.
“Alright, squirt,” Tony raised his hands with a grin. “Loki was to show you to your room. Then, if you ask him nicely, he may help you on the food issue.”
“Alright then,” she said. “Loki? Please?”
“Come along, Lyssa.”
Loki showed her to the room that she was to stay in, and watched while she looked around and jumped on the bed a couple of times. She glanced out the windows before turning to him.
“Unless it is determined later that you’re a danger, this is where you’ll stay,” he told her.
“I suppose this will have to do, unless…”
“No,” he interrupted her. “Remember what I said about trying to escape.”
“I know, I know,” she waved her hand dismissively. “Stay where I’m put and leave the collar alone or else.”
“You can be locked in here,” he warned her.
“Understood,” she replied. “Now may I please have something else to eat? I smell food.”
Loki had seen the amount of the food that she’d been given earlier and couldn’t see how she could still be hungry, but it did no harm in giving her something else. Besides, Steve and Bucky should just about be finished cooking the evening meal.
He motioned her out the door and she took his arm once again so that he could lead her to the kitchen/dining room. Lyssa cautiously peeked into the room, looking for Bruce before following him in.
“He may join us for the meal, so do try to control yourself, alright?”
“If-If you say so,” she replied, her voice tiny with dread.
“Sit down here.” Loki put her in a chair at the table, then sat down beside her. Thor sat on her other side. She watched as Bucky and Steve brought the food to the table and she recognized it as being the same as what she’d been given earlier.
“Oh, good!” She was practically bouncing in her chair.
Thor and Tony couldn’t help but grin at her childlike delight while Loki rolled his eyes. She was an enigma: an alien being with the disposition of a teenager, and apparently the appetite of one.
Thor served her plate with more roast beef and vegetables then she waited impatiently until they started to eat. Once again, she ignored the cutlery and used her fingers. While she ate, she studied Steve and Bucky before fixating her attention onto Bucky.
“You’re cute. What’s your name?” She asked him, while chewing slowly on a mouthful of roast beef.
“Bucky,” he replied, flushing slightly.
“You almost caught me today,” she said with a smile. “You can run very fast.”
“So, Bucky, if Loki doesn’t change his mind about sharing his….space with me, I wouldn’t object if you wanted to,” she told him.
“Eat.” Loki nudged her arm.
“Or, we could all three…” she said, with a wicked grin.
Tony choked on a swallow of whiskey he had in his mouth while Thor chuckled at Bucky’s embarrassment. Steve tried to look anywhere but at his best friend.
“You’re staying in your own room,” Loki told her firmly.
Lyssa grinned again and winked at Bucky, who gave her a slight smile. Steve hid a smile behind his glass as he took a drink. Lyssa concentrated on her food for a couple of minutes, unaware that the men were watching her. She finished what she had and nudged Loki for more.
“There are other people besides you that would like to eat,” he told her, gruffly.
“Oh,” she said, rather disappointed.
“Let her have more.”
Lyssa froze at the sound of Bruce’s soft voice, then gripped Loki’s forearm hard, surprising him with her strength. Thor put his arm out to hold her in her seat.
Bruce held his hands out placatingly. “It’s alright, I’ll take a tray to my lab. You don’t have to be afraid.”
Loki gave her a shake, trying to snap her out of her terror. She jumped at his movement then glanced at him.
She tried to say something, cleared her throat, and tried again.
“D-Dr. Banner, please, you don’t have to leave your friends. I should apologize for my earlier behavior. P-please stay and eat your meal.” She was finally able put a sentence together.
“Are you sure?”
She nodded while slowly releasing her grip on Loki. Thor patted her knee gently before helping to pass the bowls down to Bruce. Once he’d been served and the others got their second helpings, Thor filled her plate again.
“Thanks,” she said. “This is really good.”
They watched as she started eating again, rather impressed by her appetite. Steve then brought a large cake to the table.
“What’s that?” She asked, mouth full once again.
She swallowed quickly and pushed her plate away. “I like chocolate.”
“That’s a surprise,” Loki said drily.
“Don’t be like that, I like you too.” She wiggled her eyebrows at him. “More than chocolate.”
Loki passed her a piece of cake, which she ate with relish. When she was finished, Loki escorted her to her assigned room, fairly confident that she would be in a food coma soon. He closed the door and went back to the others.
“So, any clues as to who she is?” Steve asked the brothers.
“None,” Thor replied.
“But she said she’d been to Asgard,” Tony pointed out.
“Do you know everyone who visits here?” Loki asked impatiently. “Even if we’d met her, it’s unlikely that we’d remember her.”
“I think I’d remember,” Thor said, with a grin. “Especially if she’d wanted to share my...space.”
Loki pinched the bridge of his nose while the others laughed. He was not used to being the brunt of their jokes, although women pursuing him was not unheard of.
“Sergeant Barnes may be able to draw her attention from you,” Tony grinned.
“Leave me out of this, please,” Bucky said, with a soft laugh.
“Maybe tomorrow we can get some answers. I have a feeling she’s gonna sleep a while after all that food,” Tony said, with a quiet sigh
Later that night, Loki was awakened suddenly. He sat up sleepily to find Lyssa kneeling on his bed, nervously plucking at the bedcovers. Her hair was in a messy braid.
“What is it?” He asked, with a sigh.
“I can’t sleep,” she murmured.
“It’s no wonder, after eating like you did,” he said, smoothing his hair back.
“No, it’s not that,” she replied.
“Bad dream.” She turned her gaze toward the window to stare at the moonlight for a moment. “Could I —- “
Loki sighed again at the hopeful tone in her voice. “Fine.”
He held the covers up to allow her to scoot in next to him, just then noticing that she wore one of his shirts. He decided against asking where she got it. She got comfortable while he turned onto his side, facing her.
“Loki - “
”Be quiet, or you’ll go back to your own bed,” he warned her softly.
She reached for his hand and drew it across her waist, gently caressing the back of it. He allowed her to do it, if it meant she would go back to sleep. He realized just then that she hadn’t buttoned the shirt completely, just the two in the center of her chest, and apparently she didn’t like underwear either.
“Second base is right there,” she whispered sleepily. “Just saying.”
“Quiet,” he said, tamping down the urge to caress her stomach. He knew she wouldn’t object, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted deal with the consequences that the morning would bring, especially the knowing looks or teasing from Tony Stark and the others. But, by Odin, it would be so easy.
He felt her take a deep breath before she drifted off, then her breathing started coming slow and steady. Only then did he allow his fingertips to very lightly caress her soft skin. Her fingers twitched against his wrist, but she didn’t move otherwise.
Morning found Lyssa spooned into the curve of Loki’s body, his fingers tucked under her hip. He awoke slowly, then remembered that he had gotten a bedmate the previous evening. He also remembered that she wore almost nothing, and now her soft bottom was nestled against him, and things could get dangerously intimate, fast.
Loki very carefully withdrew his hand, then slid out of bed without waking her. He froze when she sighed and shifted slightly. He then pulled the covers up over her before going into the bathroom. He came out dressed and stole a glance at the woman still sleeping in his bed, wondering why she was intent on attaching herself to him or what she wanted, if anything.
He quietly went into the kitchen, where Bucky was making waffles, with Thor attempting to help him by slicing fruit. They both glanced around at him and he knew that they knew that Lyssa had made it to his room.
“Nothing happened, so not a word,” he warned them.
“Where is she?” Thor asked, with a wide smile.
“Still sleeping,” was the reply.
“Or, maybe not,” Bucky said, indicating with his head.
Loki walked quickly to where Lyssa sleepily stood, still wearing nothing but his shirt, which was still indecently unbuttoned. She rubbed her eyes then looked up at him as he took her arm.
“You’re not dressed properly,” he said, turning to take her back toward her room. “While I’m quite sure everyone enjoys seeing those lovely legs, you are to dress yourself before coming to the table.”
Lyssa gave him a saucy grin. “You like my legs?”
He huffed before pushing her ahead of him into her room. She turned around and walked backwards, away from him, still smiling.
“Get some clothes on,” he told her.
“There’s nothing here to my liking,” she said, toying with the two buttons on the shirt she wore.
Loki held up a warning finger, daring her. “Perhaps I should spank you.”
“Sounds like fun,” she grinned. “But maybe another time. I smell food, so should I wear the same thing you gave me yesterday?”
“Try these.” Loki unfolded some dark green leggings with a matching tunic and tossed them onto the bed.
“Alright,” she said, after touching the fabric. “I guess these will do for now.”
“Come out for breakfast when you’re dressed.”
With that, Loki left her and closed the door behind him. He went back to the kitchen with a scowl on his face. After a few minutes, Lyssa joined them again, dressed and with her hair brushed.
“Hey, cutie,” she greeted Bucky.
“Hi,” he replied, with a wink. “Sleep well?”
“Hmm, I feel that I wouldn’t have slept at all if I’d found your room last night. Loki was so close to second base….”
Thor practically roared with laughter as she grinned. Loki looked up to the heavens while Bucky shook his head, trying not to encourage her.
“I’m not sure why you’re laughing,” Loki growled at Thor. “Because I’m fairly certain that you don’t know what she means either.”
“What’s all the hubbub?” Tony asked, joining them.
“Nothing,” Loki replied, daring anyone to continue that line of conversation. “Sergeant, do you need further assistance?”
“No, almost done,” Bucky replied.
“What is that you’re cooking?” Lyssa asked. “It smells good.”
“I haven’t tried those yet,” she said, looking on with interest.
“How can you be hungry after last night?” Tony asked, almost incredulously.
Lyssa merely shrugged while she watched Bucky and Thor. Then a new person came into the kitchen: a boy. He met Lyssa’s gaze, frozen with shyness at the pretty woman who was looking him over.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” he replied.
“What’s your name?” Lyssa asked him.
“Peter,” she repeated his name. “You’re cute, how old are you?“
“Fifteen. I’m visiting,” Peter replied.
Tony gave her a warning glance while Loki took her arm and shook her. She gave them both an innocent look, which didn’t fool either of them. Loki kept hold of her arm in order to lead her to the table. Once again, he pushed her into a chair and sat beside her.
“Leave the young one alone,” he told her.
“If you insist,” she replied with an impish smile.
He put his elbow on the table and leaned close to her. “I insist. Stark will have you placed into a cell quicker than you can blink if you’re inappropriate with that boy. There are laws here.”
“I understand,” Lyssa replied. “There’s no law against flirting, is there?”
Loki’s jaw clenched as he tried to get a grip on his temper. Is this what it was like for the others having to deal with me each day? He thought.
“No, but - “
“He’s too young and I was only flirting a bit,” she said, reaching out to squeeze his wrist gently. “I have no other intentions toward him.”
Loki looked into her sea green eyes for any sign of deception, and she returned his gaze without blinking. He finally gave a slight nod before leaning away from her.
“Am I permitted to speak to him?” She asked.
“You remember what I said,” he replied, “but you may speak with him.”
“Alright, will you introduce us?”
Loki stood and took her by the arm again as they approached Peter. He returned Lyssa’s smile while Tony watched her warily.
“Peter, this is Lyssa, our guest for a while. Lyssa, meet Peter.”
“Hi, Peter,” Lyssa said, reaching out to take his hand. “Come sit with me until the food’s done.”
Peter allowed her to lead him to the sofa, where she pointed for him to sit, then she joined him, sitting cross legged beside him. They talked quietly, occasionally laughing, while Tony and Loki kept watch to make sure that Peter wasn’t uncomfortable.
When breakfast was ready, Loki and Thor put her between them again, while Peter sat across from her. Steve and Bucky sat at their usual places; Bruce was beside Steve. Loki served her plate this time, and she waited until the others got their food before starting to eat.
“What’s that?” She asked, watching while Peter put syrup on his waffles.
“Syrup, try some,” he said, passing it to her.
She poured some on her plate, picked up a waffle and folded it, then dipped it before tasting it. Her eyes widened in delight and she poured more over her waffle.
“That’s good! What’s that?” She asked, pointing at a different plate.
Thor put several pieces on her plate, and she promptly ate a slice, chewed for just a moment before grabbing a napkin to spit it out.
“Nope. I don’t like that,” she pushed the remaining slices off her plate.
Peter watched her. “Who doesn’t like bacon?”
“I don’t like it,” she said, making a face.
“Try this.” Thor gave her a small slice of ham.
Lyssa tentatively took a bite. It wasn’t as bad as the bacon, but it was obvious that she didn’t really care for it. Thor then gave her a chicken strip, which was more to her liking.
She folded her waffle around the chicken and ate it like a taco, getting syrup on both hands, then she slowly licked her fingers. She winked at Peter when Loki’d had enough and wiped her hands clean to prevent her from syrup all over the place.
Infuriating woman-child, he thought, aware that the others had been watching his reactions to her. When did I become her parent?
Lyssa nudged his arm, asking for another waffle and more chicken, which he gave to her. She promptly got syrup on her hands again to the amusement of everyone except for Loki.
“Don’t touch me,” he warned her.
“Ok, now I kinda do want to touch you,” she replied, with a mischievous smile.
“If you have any sense at all, you won’t.”
Lyssa dipped two fingers in syrup and slowly reached toward Loki’s face. He didn’t move, just glared at her. Everyone at the table got still, watching to see what would happen.
Loki closed his eyes when Lyssa very deliberately placed her fingertips on his cheek and drew double lines of syrup down his face. Peter stopped chewing and prepared to vacate his chair at the first sign of trouble. Thor made himself ready to get Lyssa out of harm’s way if Loki suddenly exploded in anger.
“You’ve got a little something, just there,” she said, smearing his face further.
Loki slowly wiped his face then tossed his napkin aside. He touched his cheek, feeling the stickiness, then sighed, turning toward her.
“You think that’s funny, don’t you?”
“It is kinda funny, so yeah,” she replied, slowly stirring the syrup on her plate with her fingers.
“Do it again,” he said.
“Ooo, a challenge,” she said, smiling again.
Lyssa then picked up the remainder of her waffle, squished it between the fingers of both hands, and then planted them on his face before slowly drawing them downward. The trail of syrup spread from forehead to the hollow of his throat before she stopped.
“Oh my god,” Peter whispered.
Loki stood, quietly pushing his chair back. Lyssa once again started licking syrup from her fingers, while watching him.
“Come with me,” he said then, grasping both wrists and hauling her out of her chair.
She grunted when he turned her so that he could snake an arm around her waist and hold her against his side while he carried her out of the room.
“I guess I’ll be getting that spanking now,” she said with a giggle while rubbing her hands on his sleeve for good measure.
The others looked at each in silence, unsure of what to do. Peter was a bit wide eyed, expecting an explosion of Loki’s temper.
“Well, that was unexpected,” Tony finally said. “But funny.”
Loki carried Lyssa to her room and set her down. She turned to face him while he examined his sleeve, which was now sticky with syrup.
“I think I missed a spot,” she said softly, reaching for him.
He grasped her wrists again, twisting them behind her back. It was a lost cause, since she’d already managed to transfer most of the syrup from her hands to his shirt.
When she tiptoed to gently lick at his throat, a shudder went through him and he went dead still, his breath halting in his chest. His hands loosened on hers, enabling her to pull free. Loki felt her fingers brush across his cheeks before gliding through his hair.
“You taste like waffles….and syrup,” she breathed against his skin.
Loki was still in shock and she was able to pull his head down so that she could press her lips against his for a light kiss. Lyssa nibbled at his lower lip before he reacted and set her back. She sighed in disappointment when he took several steps away before going out the door and locking it behind him.
She ran to the door and shook the knob. “Hey! I haven’t finished eating!”
Loki returned to the table ten minutes later. He’d changed his shirt and washed the syrup off his face and hands, and gotten the worst of it out of his hair. It had taken him longer to get himself under control after that kiss. He sat down without a word to finish his breakfast.
“Did you…?” Steve asked, rather awkwardly.
“Did you hear her scream?” Loki snapped. “I locked her in her room.”
“I fail to see how I’ve become the parent for —-“
Loki was interrupted by a loud noise coming from the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Lyssa was pounding on the door furiously, apparently with the intention of breaking it down. Loki got up once again, with a scowl.
“Don’t you hurt her,” Bruce said, frowning at him.
“She’s trying to remove the collar,” Loki growled.
When he stalked down the hallway again, the pounding stopped as if Lyssa had heard him. Unlocking the door, he pushed it open and paused before entering, anticipating an attack from her. Instead, she had retreated to the window by the bed. She jumped only slightly when he slammed the door shut behind him.
“You are expected to behave,” he told her with a dark frown.
“And I told you that would be unlikely!” She retorted, crossing her arms.
When he moved toward her, she leapt across the bed to put it between them. Loki raised an eyebrow at her while she watched for his next move. She yelped in surprise when two arms suddenly wrapped around her from behind, having forgotten that he could clone himself.
Loki’s victory was short lived when a book flew off the desk from across the room and smacked him in the back of the head before dissipating the clone. It circled around like a boomerang to hit him again before he was able to catch it.
“Impressive, little one, but I fear you’re no match for me,” he laughed softly. He hadn’t lied, he was impressed that she’d dared to strike him and that she’d given no hint of her telekinesis until that point.
“Keep thinking that, prince,” she grinned. “You know, I thought you’d be more fun, but I suppose I should get to know Bucky better before I leave. He doesn’t seem to be such a stick in the mud.”
“You won’t be going anywhere in the foreseeable future,” he told her.
“I stay because I want to,” she replied. “But when it’s time for me to go, I will go. It wouldn’t be in anyone’s best interest to try to stop me. My master —“
Loki noticed the slip-up just as she did. She bit her lip and clenched her fists.
“Let’s just say don’t start nothing and there won’t be nothing.”
Loki approached her then, slowly stalking her until he was able to get his hands on her. She struggled against him as he carried her to the bed, put her down, then held one hand firmly until he’d created a manacle that locked her wrist to the headboard.
“Ooo, are we playing rough?” She asked with interest.
“You’re in time out until you can behave,” he replied, mentally cringing at the phrase he’d used.
“Well, I can’t say that this hasn’t happened before,” she said with a shrug. “You’re not going to leave me here all day, are you?”
“That depends on you.”
“Hmm, I may be here awhile, then. Am I to be given bread and water rations?”
Loki stared at her, bewildered by her lack of fear or concern. She pulled herself up until she was sitting against the headboard, her ankles crossed.
“We’ll see,” he replied, turning to leave.
He growled when the book he’d captured earlier hit him on the back of the head again. Lyssa grinned at him when he turned back to her. He picked it up then threw it across the room before stalking back to the bed once more and reaching for her neck.
She raised an eyebrow at him when he grasped the collar there and renewed the charm he’d placed on it, adding one that also prevented her from using her telekinesis. When he stepped back, he wore a satisfied smile.
“When we’ve finished our breakfast, uninterrupted, I’ll be back to check on you,” he told her.
“Fine, but don’t be too long,” she replied, with a yawn.
He took one last glance back as he reached the door and found her smiling softly at him, as if aware of his mood and thoughts. He glowered at her then slammed the door behind him. Perhaps Thor would be better able to interact with her without wanting to throttle her. Or kiss her. Or bed her.
When he returned to the table, Loki ignored the looks that the others gave him while he finished his food. It was apparent that his mood had changed for the worse.
“Brother, perhaps you’d better deal with her from here on,” he told Thor. “I find myself wanting to strangle her.”
“But you’re doing such a beautiful job,” Tony quipped before Thor could respond.
Loki gave him a glare while Thor clapped him on the shoulder with a grin; he could tell that things weren’t about to go his way.
“Brother, you are better equipped to handle any tricks she may throw our way,” Thor replied. “Besides, she likes you.”
“She also likes Sergeant Barnes.” Loki pointed out.
Bucky shook his head. “Not as much as she likes you, though. She did find your bed.”
Loki groaned softly at that reminder. Peter was still at the table and watching them all in interest.
“Where did she come from?” He asked.
“We’re not sure,” Tony replied. “But she could be dangerous so you should keep away from her.”
“If she’s dangerous why isn’t she locked up?” Peter asked.
“She’s more like a child than anything,” Loki said. “She acts more Peter’s age. I did learn one additional thing though: she is telekinetic.”
The men looked at each other in concern while Peter was confused.
“What’s that? She can read minds?”
“No, that’s telepathic. A telekinetic can move things with their minds,” Bruce replied.
“I’ve added a charm to the collar to hinder that as well,” Loki said. “We should probably let her eat soon and maybe ask some questions to see if she will answer them.”
“You put a collar on her? Like for a pet?” Peter asked, eyes wide.
Loki looked at Thor then Tony. “Not that kind of collar, Peter. More like a necklace that’s enchanted.”
“Oh.” Peter nodded. “So, are you going to let her eat now?”
“Yep,” Bucky replied. “Help me make more waffles, Peter. She puts you to shame with her appetite.”
Loki stood outside Lyssa’s door for a few minutes before unlocking it to retrieve her. She still sat with her back to the headboard, ankles crossed, while one foot moved impatiently.
He watched her for a moment before walking over and perching on the side of the bed. They studied each other quietly then he reached out to release her wrist. Lyssa rubbed it gently before sliding her fingers along his forearm.
“Well?” He asked then.
“Could I eat now?”
He sighed, then stood to motion for her to follow him. She hopped up and took his arm so that he would lead her back to the table. He put her in her chair and she sat silently with her hands folded in her lap while he sat beside her.
Thor still sat beside her to the left, Loki to the right, while Peter, Steve, Bucky and Bruce sat across from her. Tony was at the head of the table, which had been cleared except for a large plate of waffles and chicken. Lyssa eyed it hungrily but waited while the men and Peter watched her.
“We’d like to ask a few questions while you eat,” Steve told her, gently.
“Alright,” she replied. “But I want the syrup too.”
Loki promptly got up and moved to the end of the table, well out of reach. Thor grinned while Lyssa gave Peter a wink. The boy smiled back at her and brought the syrup to her after a nod from Tony.
Bucky pushed the food within her reach with a soft smile at her, which she returned as she pulled the plate closer. She began to eat slowly with her hands as she’d done before.
“Do you not know how to use utensils?” Loki asked.
“Is that what you want to start with?” She replied. “You should choose more carefully, because I never said just how many I would answer.”
“Fair enough,” Tony replied, holding up a hand to forestall another comment from Loki. “Me, first.”
“Alright,” she said.
“How do you know about Bruce’s other guy?”
Lyssa stopped chewing and looked at him before her gaze slid to Bruce. They could tell that she was still wary of Bruce but was trying not to be frightened. She swallowed what she had in her mouth and took a sip of juice before replying.
“I...I can smell him,” she said quietly, giving Bruce an apologetic smile.
“What does he smell like?” Peter asked, almost in awe.
“Not important,” Tony told him quickly, not wanting to waste a question.
“It’s alright, Peter gets a freebie,” Lyssa said. She stared into her plate, trying to decide on the words to use. “The scent is hard to explain. Chemicals, like you’d find in a lab and something else that I’m not familiar with.”
“Where are you from?” Bucky asked.
“A place far outside any realm that the Asgardians would recognize.”
“Does it have a name?” Loki asked.
“Of course, but I’m not going tell you,” she responded.
Thor glanced at Loki, silently asking him to be more circumspect while questioning her. Loki gave the slightest nod.
“What were you doing in London?” Steve then asked.
“On...vacation...is that what you call a break to visit another place?” She asked, looking at Peter, who nodded. “Vacation. It was going well until a human decided to steal my stuff. Unpredictable creatures, humans. Present company excluded, I’m sure. One of them hit me on the head and took my pack. Nothing important, just some spare clothes.”
“What did you do for money? Food?” Peter asked.
“I didn’t really need money,” she told him. “I could steal food very quickly and be across town or across country before anyone noticed anything was missing, and it was easy to find fairly safe places to sleep when I needed to.”
“Have you been here before?” Peter then asked.
“Yes, a long time ago. I wanted to see how much had changed since I was last here. Humans can be very entertaining, at least when they’re not trying to roll you.”
“How old are you?”
Peter’s curiosity was piqued and he asked another question before anyone else could. She grinned at him, perfectly willing to answer.
“Easily as old as Thor,” she said, with a soft laugh. “Maybe a bit older.”
Thor noticed that Peter was looking at him, wanting to ask but hesitant to do so. He gave the boy a smile.
“I’m fifteen hundred years old, Peter.”
“Who is your master?” Loki asked. “What’s his name?”
“I will not discuss him,” Lyssa replied, firmly. “And that’s enough for now.”
By that time, she’d devoured the food, which impressed Peter immensely. She stood up and stretched with a satisfied groan.
“Thank you, Bucky. That was delicious. Can I help clean up?”
“If you like, but there’s not much left to do.”
He got up while she carried her dishes to the sink and helped her wash the few items that were left. While they worked side by side, she noticed his left arm and tentatively took his hand to examine it.
“I didn’t notice this yesterday,” she murmured, turning his hand over and stroking his palm, then each finger, watching in fascination when he moved them for her. “This is very advanced work compared to other human contraptions I’ve seen.”
Bucky smiled softly when she laced her fingers through his and squeezed slightly, testing the sensitivity of the prosthetic. He squeezed back gently, watching her face. Lyssa looked up at him, meeting his gaze.
“You have pretty eyes.”
Before he could reply, her attention was drawn away by the sound of thunder. Lyssa looked around the large room intently.
“Is it raining?” She asked.
“Yes,” Peter beckoned her toward the large windows so that she could see.
“Can I go outside?”
“Sure,” Tony replied. “The balcony door is right there.”
Lyssa half ran to the door before stopping cold and turning to Loki.
“Your collar won’t shock me or anything if I get wet, will it?”
Loki wanted to roll his eyes when Peter gave him a wide-eyed stare at the thought that she could be shocked by the collar. Thor choked back a laugh at Loki’s expression.
“Of course not,” he replied, frowning at her. “You might get struck by lightning, though.”
“Been there, done that, lived to tell the tale,” she laughed.
Lyssa went out the door that led out to the balcony and the larger landing pad for Stark and Thor. The rain was warm and soaked her thoroughly within minutes. She closed her eyes and lifted her face to the sky, then simply sat down, cross-legged to savor the feel of the water coursing over her.
She sat that way in meditation for a good fifteen minutes until she sensed someone sitting beside her. By that time, the rain had dwindled to a light mist and the sun had started to break through the clouds.
“You’re an earthy little thing, aren’t you?”
Loki’s voice was as warm as the rain soaking her skin and she smiled without looking at him. The time with no distractions had lightened her spirit and had given her time to sort out her thoughts.
“I like the natural world: sun, rain, earth, plants, animals. They all help to ground me,” she replied, taking a deep breath.
Loki gave a soft hum in acknowledgment. He and the others had watched while she sat motionless through the storm. He and Thor thought that it might give them a clue to her identity but they still could not place her.
“When you’ve finished, there are towels inside the door and dry clothes in your room.”
She nodded while running a hand over her face to clear her vision, then glanced over at him. His dark hair glistened with rain drops, although he wasn’t quite soaked. She knew he wouldn’t appreciate the thought, but his hair looked like it had tiny jewels in it.
“Hey,” She said quietly. “Sorry about the syrup.”
“You ruined my shirt.”
“My bad. But you did look dreadfully cute with your face smeared like that. And sexy. Plus you tasted good.”
Loki shook his head at the playful grin she gave him before getting to his feet. She made no move to leave her spot.
“Stay as long as you like,” he finally said. “If you want to shower later, I’ll show you how it works.”
“Just let me know when you come in.”
Lyssa stayed outside for a bit longer before getting to her feet and heading inside. She dried off, then wrapped her wet hair in a towel before going to her room.
“Did you want a shower?” Loki asked, following her down the hall.
She looked at him quizzically. “I don’t know that term.”
“Come with me.” He lead her into the bathroom and showed her how to turn the shower on, how to adjust the temperature, and how to turn it off.
“Shampoo and conditioner for your hair is here, soap for….everything else is there.” He pointed to the various bottles. “Shampoo first, then use the conditioner.”
Lyssa grinned at his choice of words, noting his reticence.
“Clothes are on the bed.”
“Thank you, Loki.”
He nodded, then left without another word. Lyssa watched him before shedding her wet clothes and stepping under the warm spray. She took her time with her hair, liking the feel of the conditioner. Then the scent of the body wash caused her to use more than necessary, just because she liked it.
When she was finally squeaky clean, she got out, turned the water off, then combed through her hair. When she had dressed, she went back to the common room, still combing through her wet hair, which had dampened her tunic in spots.
The men were sitting on the sofas, talking quietly. When she saw Loki, she knew immediately that he wasn’t happy about something, and that the others were enjoying themselves at his expense.
Peter came to her, rather awkwardly. “I could show you how to use the hair dryer, if you’d like.”
“Okay,” she replied. “Is something wrong with Loki?”
“Nah, he’s like that most days,” the boy replied. “Come on.”
While Peter had Lyssa occupied, Tony resumed their conversation.
“You’re the best one to keep her here while we’re gone. She likes you, and if she should try to remove your collar and escape, you’d be able to stop her.” Tony pushed the issue. “And with Peter staying behind, she can be distracted so that you’d still have time to yourself.”
Loki scoffed at that. “I’d still have to watch over two children. I’m not a babysitter.”
“She’s not a child,” Tony pointed out. “There is no way that you can look at her and say she’s a child.”
“A child would not want to, uh, share your space,” Thor joined in, chuckling when Loki gave him a murderous look.
“Besides, you could always lock her in her room. Just don’t forget to feed her.”
“That’s another thing, I’m no cook,” Loki huffed.
“We should only be gone for two days, while we report on what we know about her,” Steve replied. “And it really isn’t much.”
“I’ll have one of our chefs come up and cook the meals for you,” Tony sat back in his seat. “There are plenty of snacks and salad ingredients if she gets hungry between meals.”
Loki irritably ran a hand over his face, then through his hair.
“Aren’t you worried that they will try to take her into their custody?” He asked.
“Not really, we’ll convince them that she can’t be moved, or there would be a real risk that she could escape,” Tony replied.
“Alright. I suppose I have no choice,” Loki grouched.
“Not really, but we appreciate it anyway.”
*** ~~~ ***
By the time Lyssa had finished drying her hair, Loki had been left alone with her and Peter. She wandered into the common room where they were sitting, and plopped down beside Loki.
“Now what?” She asked, swinging her feet.
“I hesitate to ask whether you’re hungry,” Loki replied, drily.
“Not just yet,” she said, with a grin at Peter.
“Very well, perhaps Peter can think of something to keep you entertained for a while,” Loki responded, getting to his feet.
“What will you do?” She asked.
“I have some reading to catch up on,” he told her. “If you read, I will loan you a book.”
“Ah, no thanks,” she replied. “Maybe another time.”
After Loki had left the room, Lyssa and Peter stared at each other for a couple of minutes.
“Uh, I could show you around. Would you like that?” He asked, finally.
“That sounds like fun.” Her eyes lit up.
“You have to promise not to touch anything, though. Mr. Stark can be weird about his stuff.”
“Agreed.” She got up to follow him. “Where did the others go?”
“They had to fly to Washington for a meeting,” Peter replied. “They’ll be back in a couple of days.”
She followed Peter, who led her to the elevator to go down to the next floor. He pointed out the labs, where Tony built his suits, and then Bruce’s lab. She was fascinated by everything he showed her.
They returned to the penthouse after two hours. It was getting close to dinner time, and Tony’s chef was prepping the food.
“Jarvis told me that Peter was giving you a tour,” Loki commented, as they came into the common area.
“Yes,” Lyssa replied, with a smile at the teenager.
“Lots of things,” she said, with an enigmatic smile.
“Hmmmm.” Loki studied her for a moment. “The food will be done soon.”
“I didn’t show her any secret stuff,” Peter said.
“It’s alright, Peter. Jarvis kept a tab on you.”
“Why don’t you see if Chef needs help?”
*** ~~~ ***
Later that night, Lyssa got up to raid the kitchen for a snack. Loki had shown her the fridge and foodstuffs that didn’t need to be cooked, so she examined everything before deciding on a yogurt cup.
She took it to the counter so that she could find a spoon, then tried to figure out how to open the container. Peter’s voice startled just as she reached for a knife.
“What are you looking for?” He whispered, hoping not to wake Loki.
“I can’t open this,” she replied, pointing to the yogurt.
“Here, I’ll do it.”
She watched him intently, then he handed her a spoon. He got one for himself, and they both sat at the breakfast bar to eat.
“Why are you awake?” She asked him.
“Just couldn’t sleep. I was going to watch a movie on the big screen.” He shrugged. “Want to join me? I’ll make some popcorn.”
“Sure,” she replied.
“We’ll have to be careful not to wake Loki,” he told her. “He can get very annoyed.”
Loki did wake up after hearing something from the common room. When he left his room, he could hear Lyssa and Peter quietly talking over the TV. He stood in the kitchen to watch them.
“Are you sure these places are fake?” She asked Peter. “I’m certain I’ve been there.”
“You couldn’t have.”
Loki saw that Lyssa was on one of the sofas, sitting cross legged while Peter sat in the floor and leaned against it, close to her. He was rather relieved that she had on more than just a shirt. She’d found a white undershirt and men’s boxers somewhere.
He saw that they were watching one of Peter’s favorite sci-fi movies. He’d watched some of it and found it to be incredibly flawed, and boring. There were nine of these movies, and he’d declined Peter’s offers to watch them with him.
Lyssa watched the screen intently, quite certain that she’d been to the locations and met some of the people shown. She slowly chewed on her popcorn, her gaze never wavering.
“If I should ever meet one of these Jeddys, I will bring him to meet you,” she told him softly.
“Jed-eye, Jed-eye,” he corrected her, with a laugh.
He flipped a piece of popcorn at her, which she caught in her hand while never averting her eyes from the movie. Loki raised an eyebrow at her quickness, watching while Peter tossed another piece at her with the same results.
Once he was sure that they weren’t trashing the place or that Lyssa wasn’t trying to escape, he went back to bed. He did stay awake for a while, though, thinking about Lyssa’s origins, and how they might be able to get her to tell them where she was from and why she was on Earth.
He had just dozed off when he felt her climb into his bed and move close to him. He sighed as he rolled to face her; he felt he might as well give up on discouraging her from coming into his room. She lay on her back, head on his pillow.
“Where did you get the clothes?” He asked, quietly.
“Bucky’s room,” she replied, taking his hand and drawing his arm across her waist. “You didn’t like my wearing your shirt.”
He said nothing at that, as he didn’t really mind after the initial surprise of seeing her in it with nothing else on underneath. Loki remained still while her fingers lightly caressed his forearm as she started getting sleepy.
“His clothes smell like him,” she murmured very softly. “But I like yours better.”
Then, with a slight yawn, she drifted off with her hand still on his arm. Loki found himself drifting off as well after she’d snuggled as close as possible to him. She was warm and fragrant, and somehow soothing.
I’m re-writing some chapters, since the story moved along faster than I intended. Thanks for your patience and for the kudos/comments. I appreciate each one.
The next afternoon, Tony and the others returned from DC, where they’d reported on her arrival and current status. Loki had been correct in that Nick Fury and other higher-ups had wanted to move her in hopes of getting more information from her.
Tony and Thor had argued the possibility of an escape if she was taken from the tower. In reality, they knew that she was unlikely to leave Loki any time soon, but they didn’t disclose that to Fury.
When they stepped off the elevator, Lyssa and Peter were again watching a movie in the common room while Loki read a book nearby. Tony and Thor looked at each other at the sight before moving to the kitchen.
“There are leftovers if you’re hungry, unless Lyssa has eaten them,” Loki told them, without looking up from his book.
“I haven’t, yet,” she said, still immersed in the movie. “The yogurt is gone, though. We need more.”
She and Peter had a pack of Oreo cookies on the floor in front of them, with glasses of milk, and she had eaten most of them already. Peter had brought the gallon of milk to their nest of blankets to avoid having to make frequent trips to the fridge.
Tony poured himself a whiskey before coming to sit down, while the others looked through the leftovers. Lyssa glanced over at him, then went over on her knees, curious about what he was drinking.
“Hey, what’s that?” She asked, pointing at his glass.
“Whiskey,” he replied. “Want some?”
Loki and Peter watched as she sniffed the amber liquid, then she drank it all in one swallow, and handed the glass back to Tony.
“Oh.” She sat back on her heels before falling over bonelessly, with her head hitting the floor rather hard.
Loki jumped up, alarmed, while Tony reached down to pat her cheek. Steve, Thor and Bucky came in to help, but she giggled before they could reach her.
“Ohh-kay,” Tony said. “No more alcohol for the alien.”
“No,” Lyssa complained. “I really liked it. Hey, what’s this?”
She reached under the sofa and brought out a set of keys and then handed them to Tony.
“Bruce has been looking for these,” he told her. “Good job.”
She giggled again before trying to sit up. “Could I have some more of that?”
“Absolutely not,” Loki replied before Tony could.
“Well, poo,” she pouted.
She wasn’t able to sit up on her own, so Loki picked her up and put her beside Peter again. She stayed upright, although she was a bit unstable.
“I’d really like some more,” she said.
“No,” Loki responded, firmly.
Lyssa stuck her tongue out at him, then her attention was diverted when Peter handed her a cookie. Loki returned to his seat, with Thor sitting beside him.
“What did they say?” He asked.
“You were right about their wanting to remove her from here,” Tony replied.
“Try it,” Lyssa chirped, without looking at them.
“Quiet,” Loki commanded.
She stuck her tongue out again before stuffing another cookie into her mouth. Peter got up without a word to throw the empty package away, and to bring another. Lyssa thanked him and continued to watch the movie.
“Hi, Cutie,” Lyssa said, giving Bucky a quick glance.
“Hi,” he replied.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I borrowed some of your clothes.”
“I noticed.” He smiled at her. “I don’t mind.”
“She wouldn’t change out of them,” Loki commented, with a long suffering sigh.
“They’re comfy,” Lyssa said with a shrug. “And Loki didn’t like for me to wear his.”
Loki ignored the looks from the others while he watched Lyssa. She was engrossed in the movie, but felt his gaze and turned to him to scrunch her nose up. He shook his head, then stood with his book.
“Where ya going?” Lyssa asked, without turning her head.
“Never you mind. Watch your movie.”
Once he’d left, Lyssa turned her attention to Tony. “I’d like more whiskey, please.”
“No!” Loki’s voice from his room was very clear.
“Spoilsport,” Lyssa muttered. “I want leftovers.”
*** ~~~ ***
Later that night, Lyssa left her room to sneak into bed with Loki. She tried not to wake him, but he stirred enough to lift the covers and let her slide in beside him.
Lyssa snuggled closer as he lay on his side facing her, neatly tucking her head under his chin. She put an arm over him while he loosely put his arm around her.
“You’re sweet. I like you very much,” she whispered, lips against his throat.
Loki felt her breath against his skin. It was soft like her, and he wasn’t sure how much longer he’d be able to resist her. He carefully brushed her braid over her shoulder, his fingertips light against her skin.
“That’s nice,” she sighed, already close to sleeping.
“Go to sleep,” he murmured.
“You’re not going to let anyone take me away, are you?” She asked softly, her breath tickling his skin.
“No. You’re staying here,” he replied, sensing her unease. “Now, be quiet.”
“Thank you. Will you kiss me?”
Loki pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead, eliciting a small protest from her.
“Not what I wanted.”
“You didn’t specify, now go to sleep.”
Lyssa kissed his throat very softly before sleep claimed her.
*** ~~~ ***
The next morning, Loki woke to find that Lyssa had already gotten up and made her way to the kitchen, looking for food. She and Peter were helping Bucky by slicing fruit and buttering toast while he made steak and eggs.
Loki noticed that she had a coffee cup and would sip out of it occasionally. If alcohol affected her quickly after one small swallow, he was wary about what coffee could do. She also occasionally popped a piece of fruit into her mouth.
“It’s decaf,” Bucky said, as if reading Loki’s mind. “I didn’t want to take the chance that she’d be crawling on the ceiling.”
“What’s decaf?” Lyssa asked, curiously.
“Nothing,” Loki replied, as he stole a slice of cantaloupe before going into the living room. “Don’t cut yourself.”
“Okay,” she replied.
She and Peter finished their task, so Bucky had them set the table, then carry the food over. Lyssa watched Peter and copied his movements in putting the plates and silverware down. Peter put the carafe of coffee on a trivet, while directing Lyssa on where to put the coffee cups.
“Good job, Peter, Doll,” Bucky told them.
Lyssa smiled with childlike joy, obviously pleased with the praise. She sat in her usual seat between Thor and Loki, then waited while the food was passed around. Loki watched her toy with the steak knife, and then push it aside in order to stab her piece of steak with her fork. She tore bites off instead of cutting it, but then would use the fork to eat her eggs.
Thor put more food on her plate when she nudged his arm, and Peter gave her half of the steak that he wasn’t going to eat. She smiled her thanks at him, causing him to blush slightly.
“What kind of fruit is this?” She asked, spearing a slice of avocado with her fork.
“Avocado,” Peter replied.
“It doesn’t have much of a taste.”
“True, but it’s good for you,” he responded. “I bet you’d like guacamole, though.”
“Do you have any?”
“No, but we can make some later,” Peter told her.
“We need to find more clothes for you,” Loki commented. “Sergeant Barnes cannot keep you supplied with his shirts and shorts.”
Lyssa pouted slightly. “They’re comfortable.”
“She can wear them if she wants,” Bucky said, quietly. “They look better on her, anyways.”
Bucky returned her smile with a little wink, while Loki shook his head slightly.
“Don’t encourage her.”
“Could I have more of the coffee decaf?”
Lyssa held her cup out to Loki, who poured more for her. She drank half of it, then returned her attention to her plate. Thor gave her more fruit while she finished her steak.
There wasn’t any more meat, so she reluctantly ate fruit, toast and the remainder of the eggs.
“We’re gonna need more groceries to keep the little carnivore fed,” Tony said, with a slight laugh.
“Omnivore,” she corrected him, scrunching her nose.
“I stand corrected.”
When Lyssa had finished her coffee, Loki offered her more, which was accepted.
“That’s good, but the whiskey is better,” she said, glancing between Loki and Tony hopefully.
“You’re not to have any more alcohol,” Loki told her, firmly.
She gave him a disgruntled look before finishing the last of the coffee, then sat still while the others finished eating. Once everyone had finished, she helped to wash the dishes. While drying a cup, it slipped from her fingers and shattered at her bare feet.
“I’m sorry—“ she started to say, eyes wide.
“Don’t move!” Loki said, sharply.
She obeyed, watching while he came toward her. He scooped her up and removed her so that she wouldn’t get cut on the glass shards.
“I’m sorry that I broke that,” she whispered, worried that she might be in trouble.
“It’s alright,” Loki replied. “I didn’t want you to cut your feet. Sit here and brush them off to make sure nothing is on you.”
She sat in the chair that he indicated, then carefully brushed her feet off. When she was done, she stood, ready to continue helping in the kitchen, where Peter had already started sweeping up the glass.
“No, you should get dressed and put shoes on.” Loki steered her toward her room.
“If you say so,” Lyssa replied, not really wanting to change out of Bucky’s undershirt and shorts.
“I do. You may keep Sergeant Barnes’ clothes for sleeping, but you should dress for the day.”
Once in her room, Loki motioned toward clothes that were folded on her bed. Tony had ordered some things for her, keeping in mind that she would only wear them if she considered them soft enough. He’d bought leggings and shirts to match as well as slip on shoes, and a pair of sneakers.
“These will do, thank you,” Lyssa said, after testing the fabric.
“Good. Come back when you’ve dressed.”
Loki went back to the common area, leaving her behind. After a few minutes, she returned to help finish cleaning up. Once everything was done, Lyssa sat beside Loki on the sofa.
“Where’s Dr. Banner? I haven’t seen him for a few days.”
“He’s gone to DC for some research,” Tony replied.
“So, what’s on the agenda today?” She asked, looking around at Steve, Tony and Thor.
“Not much,” Steve replied.
Lyssa then sat quietly, looking around at each of them in turn. The silence grew until it was almost uncomfortable. Peter and Bucky finally finished in the kitchen and came to join the others.
“You wanna watch a movie?” Peter asked.
“Sure,” Lyssa replied, with a shrug.
Peter selected one to watch, and Lyssa moved to join him on the floor so that they could watch together. Relieved that Peter was able to distract her, the others got up to leave. She paid no mind to them until Loki also got up.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to read; watch the movie with Peter. We’ve already seen it,” Loki replied.
“Oh, okay then.”
Lyssa turned her attention back to Peter and the movie that he’d chosen. It was another sci-fi movie that kept her fascinated throughout, and Peter gladly answered any questions that she had.
“I liked that one, too,” she told him, once it was finished. “Are you sure that these aren’t historical documents?”
“Very sure,” he replied with a laugh. “They’re just pretend.”
“If you say so. Hey, can we make guacamole now?”
Once the guacamole was done, Lyssa carried the bowl while Peter brought the chips and drinks back to the common room. They sat in the floor companionably, with Peter helping to choose another movie. They were laughing when the elevator opened to allow an unexpected visitor to emerge.
At the sound of the strange man’s voice, Lyssa launched herself to her feet to warily face him.
“Hi, sir,” Peter said, with a little wave.
Lyssa held her breath when the tall man studied her. He wore all black and had a patch over his left eye. She wasn’t sure if he was friend or foe, so she remained poised to retreat if it became necessary.
“We haven’t met yet,” Fury told her, quietly.
Loki emerged from his room, and Lyssa moved immediately to him, hiding behind him and clutching nervously at his shirt. She peeked at Fury, and Loki could tell that she was apprehensive.
“What brings you here?” Loki asked.
“Nothing much, I just wanted to meet your new friend, since she won’t come to see me at my office,” Fury replied, with a smile.
Lyssa’s grip on Loki tightened as she tried to shrink behind him. Peter looked on, undecided whether the director would take Lyssa away, and not wanting to see what would happen if he tried. He wondered if he should ask Jarvis to tell Tony that there was a potential showdown on the horizon.
“I won’t bite,” Fury said, trying to coax Lyssa into speaking to him. “What’s your name?”
Loki glanced over his shoulder at her, but her gaze never left Fury. When he tried to pull her to the front of him, she smacked his hand away in resistance.
“Tell him your name,” Loki told her.
“Flerken,” Lyssa murmured.
“What was that?” Fury asked, startled.
“A Flerken scratched you, didn’t it?”
Fury was speechless for a moment, as was Loki. Lyssa took a half step from behind Loki as she studied Fury’s face.
“A cat scratched me,” Fury replied, slowly.
One side of Lyssa’s mouth curled in a half smile. “Do you still have it, then? The cat ?”
“Actually, Goose is staying with a friend right now.”
“I’m Lyssa, and I would very much like to meet Goose.”
“We may be able to arrange that, later,” Fury told her, with a smile.
Lyssa didn’t move from Loki’s side, but he could tell that she was less tense. He also knew that the conversation about the Flerken and cat was carefully worded so that Fury didn’t have to admit to having an alien life form, and so that Lyssa wasn’t calling him a liar.
“Come, sit, and tell me about yourself.”
When Fury motioned toward the table, Lyssa glanced at Loki for guidance. When he nodded, she padded quickly to retrieve the bowl of guacamole, with Peter following with the drinks and chips.
“We were watching a historical document,” Lyssa said, with a glint in her eyes.
“Movie,” Peter corrected her.
Lyssa shrugged with a little smile. “I still think I’ve been to Alderaan.”
“Not possible,” Peter replied. They had already squabbled about this subject during their late night movie-thons.
“It seems like you’ve been to a lot of places. Why come here?” Fury asked her.
“I like to visit the humans,” she replied. “They’re always up to something.”
“That’s true,” Fury chuckled. “When were you last here?”
Lyssa thought about that for a couple of minutes. “A little more than a century ago. It was a bad, bad time, and my master wouldn’t let me stay. There was a lot of fighting, and bloodshed.”
Fury reached over to take a chip and some guacamole after Lyssa pushed the bowl closer to him.
“This is good.”
“It has more taste than the avocado,” Lyssa replied.
“Agreed.” Fury studied her silently for a moment. “That’s a pretty necklace you have on.”
“Loki put it on me; he calls it a collar,” she replied, rolling her eyes slightly. “I suppose it’s okay, though, since my master does sometimes call me ‘pet.’”
Fury turned slightly in his chair to glance at Loki, who kept his expression neutral and said nothing.
Loki and Peter watched and listened while Fury spoke to Lyssa, and asked questions that she readily answered, at least when they didn’t pertain to her master.
“How long will you be staying?”
“Uncertain. Until my master comes to get me.” Lyssa was being very careful to be as vague as possible, and Fury knew it.
“And your master, does he pose a danger to anyone here?”
“Not unless someone tries to prevent us from leaving,” Lyssa replied, the warning clear in her tone.
“Alright,” Fury nodded. “We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Lyssa was surprised at that; she’d expected that she or her master, maybe the both of them, would be held against their will. She knew that if any attempt was made to contain them, her master was fully capable of defending them both all by himself. The humans would be made to regret any such move.
“I had a Flerken once,” Lyssa commented, softly.
“Yes, she laid her eggs, then jumped ship with her kittens,” she replied, sadly. “I miss her, but Br- my master said not to worry, she has likely found a good place for them and could come back.”
“I hope she does,” Fury responded.
“Director Fury. What brings you here?”
“Not much, just meeting your new friend.”
Tony and the others had returned unnoticed a few minutes earlier, and had listened while Fury and Lyssa talked. She hadn’t really divulged much more than they already knew, other than the Flerken, whatever that was.
Fury noticed that Lyssa seemed to be attached to Loki, although he couldn’t fathom why. The Asgardian was taciturn and difficult to deal with on the best of days, and he simply couldn’t see Loki having any kind of tolerance for her.
“Are you still eating, Squirt?” Tony asked her.
“Peter showed me how to make guacamole; it’s good,” she replied, scooping up a large amount on a chip, and then eating it. “Are you here to take me away?”
Everyone was caught off guard by her blunt question to Fury. He sat back in his chair, contemplating how best to answer her.
“Because if you are, I won’t go.” Lyssa ate another chip while she waited for Fury to answer her question. “Loki said that I would stay here.”
“There are some who feel that it would be safer to have you contained,” Fury started carefully. “They want you where they can keep track of you.”
“And you? What about you?”
Fury looked into her sea green eyes for a long moment before answering. “I think that you’re fine being here, with this group to watch you. However, if there’s any trouble, I can’t guarantee that a move won’t be made to take you into custody.”
Lyssa nodded, mulling that over. “Understood.”
She gave him a little smile, and Loki could almost read her mind: Don’t start nothing and there won’t be nothing.
*** ~~~ ***
Fury stayed for the remainder of the day, and ate the evening meal with them before leaving. He’d been impressed with Lyssa’s appetite, and commented that she was better off at the tower, since she was unlikely to be given as much to eat on a regular timetable.
Everyone retired to bed, except for Lyssa and Peter, who stayed up to watch more movies. They again had made a little nest of blankets on the floor, with a bowl of popcorn between them.
Shortly after midnight, Bucky came into the common area and sat on the sofa. He tiredly rubbed a hand over his face, then through his hair.
“Did we wake you?” Lyssa asked.
“No, I just can’t get to sleep,” he replied, letting the recliner back and raising the footrest. “What are you watching?”
Peter told him, while Lyssa grabbed a pillow and blanket, then laid down across his lap. He helped her straighten the blanket while she got comfortable. Then wasn’t long before she and Peter was asleep. Bucky continued to watch the movie until he finally dozed off.
That’s how Loki found them when he got up to check on Lyssa and Peter. He’d been sleeping lightly, waiting on her to join him, but when she didn’t, he went to investigate to make sure they weren’t wrecking anything.
He wasn’t expecting to see Bucky asleep with her draped over his lap, while Peter slept on the floor. Bucky had a hand resting on her back, and Loki felt an irrational urge to wake her and send her to her own bed.
He watched them for a couple of minutes before going back to his own room. Once he had laid back down, he heard his door open, then close softly. Then he felt her crawling across the bed to his side before sliding under the covers.
She already wore Bucky’s undershirt and shorts, he noticed, while she scooted as close to him as possible. By the time he adjusted his position to accommodate her, she was fast asleep.
Loki took this time to stare down at her, then he cautiously touched her cheek, then lips before trailing his fingertips down her throat. Lyssa stirred slightly, with a soft sigh. She unerringly found his wrist, which she grasped lightly, before holding his hand to the center of her chest.
*** ~~~ ***
Several hours later, Loki was awakened when Lyssa began to move restlessly. She gripped his forearm in her sleep, so he shook her gently, trying to ease her awake.
“Lyssa,” he spoke softly in her ear. “Wake up.”
Her grip on him tightened, and he was reminded just how strong she was. Her breath came in short gasps until he finally shook her hard enough to wake her.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, when she sleepily looked up at him.
“I’m not sure,” she whispered. “I’m sorry to have wakened you. I’ll go back to my room, if you want.”
“It’s almost morning, you may as well stay,” he replied, squeezing her gently with his arm.
She nodded silently, already drifting off again. Loki studied her face while he wiped a single tear from her cheek. He wondered if she’d had another bad dream, but he would ask her again later, and remind her that there was no use in lying to him.
That morning, just after dawn, Loki woke to find that he’d rolled partially onto Lyssa, and had a hand underneath her shirt and resting on her ribs. He’d also put a leg over her. She was still sound asleep and apparently hadn’t moved since the early hours. Her scent drew him to the side of her neck before he realized what he was doing.
He moved away carefully but she turned toward hm, reaching for him. Her head came to rest on his shoulder so he laid still, although he did stroke her hair gently.
About an hour later, Lyssa stretched and sat up, waking him.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
She nodded without looking at him. “I apologize for waking you earlier.”
Loki watched her, seeing that she seemed unsettled. He wasn’t sure if it was the poor sleep or something else.
“What’s disturbed you?” He asked.
“Nothing that I can pinpoint. I just feel restless.”
“Alright, then,” he said, as he sat up and pushed the bedcovers back. “There are fresh clothes in your room, and you can shower before breakfast, if you like.”
“Okay,” she replied, subdued, while reluctantly getting up when he did. “Thank you.”
When she and Loki sat down to breakfast, the others could tell that she wasn’t quite herself, although her appetite wasn’t affected.
“Where do you put all that?” Tony asked, trying to tease her into a better mood.
Lyssa just shook her head and concentrated on her plate. Tony gave Loki a questioning glance, quite certain that the Asgardian had done something to upset her.
She finished eating, then excused herself to go outside to the balcony, when she sat down after finding a sunny spot.
“Is she sick?” Tony asked Loki.
“I’d have no way of knowing that,” Loki replied. “She didn’t sleep well last night. I suspect she had a bad dream but she didn’t elaborate.”
“She doesn’t look sick,” Bucky said, quietly. “Maybe it was too many cookies before bed. Let her be for a while and if she gets worse, then we can worry.”
“Did you do something to upset her?” Tony then asked.
“Of course not,” Loki replied, with a huff.
Tony’s expression was skeptical, but there was nothing to go on, so he let it go, but Loki continued to scowl at him while they finished breakfast. After a bit, Lyssa came back in, and sat beside Loki on the sofa where he was reading.
He glanced at her briefly before closing his book. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m not sure,” she murmured while studying her hands.
“You know that you can’t lie to me,” he commented.
“I’m not, I just don’t know,” she shrugged, tentatively reaching for his hand.
Loki allowed her to do it; he could tell that she was trembling. After a moment, she crawled into his lap, causing him to put his book aside. He steadfastly ignored the others’ sly smiles while she made herself comfortable. She leaned against him, her head on his shoulder, and almost immediately fell asleep.
“Not a word,” he warned the others while situating himself so that he could continue to read. “Be quiet, don’t wake her.”
So, they went about their business while he sat there with Lyssa on his lap, and a book in one hand. Peter was unsure what to do with himself since he’d spent most of his time there watching movies with her.
Bucky took pity on him and took him down to the training room, where Steve had already retreated. Tony and Thor sat on the other sofa, watching TV and also watching Loki.
After close to an hour of scrutiny, Loki finally put his book into a dimensional pocket and stood easily while still holding Lyssa. She stirred only long enough to put her arms around his neck.
“She can’t possibly be comfortable,” Loki told them, in answer to unspoken questions from his brother and Tony. “I’m putting her to bed.”
“Alrighty then,” Tony replied with a smile.
Loki considered putting her in her own bed, but realized that if she woke, she’d seek him out anyway, so he took her to his bed, then sat beside her and leaned against the headboard before retrieving his book. Lyssa slept for another hour before she once again stirred restlessly. Loki reached over and put his hand on her head, trying to soothe her.
Lyssa did settle down once he touched her, and he wondered again why she was so determined to attach herself to him. He turned his attention back to his book while occasionally caressing her head.
*** ~~~ ***
At lunch time, Lyssa still slept, so Loki left her alone so that he could go eat. Although he didn’t know enough about her to base it on, he felt that there was something wrong. She still exhibited restlessness, calming only when he touched her, or vice versa. There was some significance to that, he decided.
Lunch was quiet, since the others knew that the door to Loki’s room was left open in case she woke and started looking for him. They kept their voices down while talking.
“I wasn’t sure if Fury would try to take her out of here on his own,” Tony commented.
“She would have fought him,” Peter said quietly. “I could see that. But I don’t think he was ready to take on Loki, too.”
“You’re right,” Tony replied, nodding at the boy.
“He probably would have brought someone else with him,” Steve replied. “Seeing as our report of her powers seemed to intrigue him. He wouldn’t want to risk an escape or have her get injured.”
“If they do come after her, that collar is coming off,” Loki finally joined the conversation. “She deserves the chance to defend herself, even if it means letting her escape. She’s posed no danger to anyone so far.”
“Agreed,” Thor said. “Although I’m not certain whether she would be willing to leave Loki.”
Before Loki could reply, Bucky tilted his head toward the kitchen, where Lyssa stood, sleepily rubbing her eyes. Her hair had partially escaped her braid, giving her a tousled look.
“Just in time,” Tony told her. “We’ve been keeping yours warm.”
“Thank you,” she replied, taking her usual seat between Loki and Thor.
Loki noticed that she seemed to be unsteady on her feet when she’d walked to the table. When she sat down, her hand landed on top of his leg, causing him to sit straight up in surprise. Lyssa apparently didn’t notice what she was doing, and once her plate was put in front of her, she caressed his knee before beginning to eat. Loki was relieved when it seemed that no one else had noticed what she’d done or his reaction to it.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” Steve asked. “We can have a doctor look at you.”
Lyssa’s brow furrowed for a moment. “No, I’m alright, I just feel tired and restless.”
“Have you felt this way before?” Thor asked.
“Sometimes after an incredibly long jump when teleporting,” she replied. “Especially if I hadn’t eaten enough beforehand.”
“Is that why you eat so much?” Peter asked, curiously.
“Partly. I burn off a lot of energy when I teleport, or throw stuff around.”
Loki caught that reference, although she’d only thrown the book at his head the one time, and it couldn’t have expended that much energy.
“Yes, I can see how throwing a book would exhaust you,” he commented.
“That was all that I wanted to throw,” she snapped.
With her attention on her plate, she missed the startled looks that went around the table, and the way that Loki bristled at her tone. He had intended to tease her, but she hadn’t seen it that way.
When she had eaten everything on her plate, she didn’t ask for more, but accepted another helping when Thor offered it to her.
Once everyone had finished, Lyssa got up to help clear the table, then started to help with the dishes.
“Go put your shoes on before you start that,” Loki told her.
Once again, her tone caused both surprise and consternation, as she’d never been terse before now, unless pressed about her master. Loki stalked after her up the hall to his room, where he’d taken her shoes off before putting her on the bed.
When he grabbed her arm rather roughly and turned her to face him, Lyssa looked up at him, frowning at the treatment.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, taking hold of her other arm and shaking her slightly.
“I’ve said that I don’t know,” she responded, testily.
Loki stared at her for a moment before yanking her to him. His arms went around her waist as he lifted her against him while one hand went to the back of her head.
The tension left Lyssa’s body when he buried his face against the side of her neck before kissing her ear, then neck. She tilted her head back to give him access to her throat, then suddenly she was falling to the floor.
Once he realized what he was doing, Loki let go of her abruptly. Her knees buckled, and she landed unceremoniously on her backside with a startled yelp. After the initial shock, Lyssa lurched toward him and bit him on the thigh, hard.
Thor had lied that first day in the infirmary, Loki realized; he just hadn’t paid attention at the time.
Her bite did in fact hurt.
He freed himself before reaching down to grasp her shoulders in order to haul her to her feet. She hissed while trying to break his hold until Loki got control of her long enough to drag her across the hall to her room. He pushed her in, then closed and locked the door with seidr.
She slammed into it from the other side, causing it to warp slightly; something which shocked him. Loki reinforced his spell while strengthening the door itself. He then stepped back and waited.
On the other side of the door, Lyssa leaned her forehead against it. She could tell that Loki was still there as she hadn’t heard him move away, but she could also detect his scent. She gently ran her hand up and down the door while she listened.
“I know you’re there.”
Loki didn’t reply, just stood quietly, waiting for his seidr to heal the pain of her bite. He knew that something was very wrong; if Lyssa continued this behavior, then SHIELD would come for her and the results could be disastrous.
Thor moved to stand at the end of the hallway. Loki put his finger to his lips before moving silently to join him. Lyssa slammed into the door again, causing the walls to shake. Thor’s eyes widened just as Loki pushed him back toward the kitchen.
“We need to talk, come with me.”
Loki’s voice was low, for Thor’s ears only. They both looked back toward her door before heading out to the balcony.
“Is everything alright?” Tony asked.
“Yes, of course,” Loki replied.
Tony watched as the brothers walked outside to talk quietly between themselves.
“Something’s wrong,” Peter whispered to him.
“I agree,” Tony replied.
Thor and Loki came back in, and then stopped where Tony waited for them.
“Go over there,” Tony told Peter, motioning to the living area. Peter reluctantly obeyed, but kept his gaze trained on Loki. Once he was sure that Peter was out of earshot, Tony turned to the brothers. “Alright, what are we dealing with here.”
“I’m not entirely certain,” Loki replied. “She is acting out of character, and no , I’ve done nothing to upset her!”
“Where is she?”
“Locked in her room.”
“Don’t you think that qualifies as upsetting her?” Tony asked.
Loki inhaled sharply, glowering at him. “She bit me.”
“I’m sorry, what was that again?”
“She bit me.”
Tony gaped at him while trying not to laugh. Thor shook his head slightly; Tony’s levity was ill-advised at the moment since it seemed they may have a serious situation on hand.
“I’m sorry, sorry.” Tony got control of himself. “What happened?”
“She became combative and bit me,” Loki snapped.
Tony was surprised at that, given her obvious infatuation with the Asgardian. He glanced between Thor and Loki for a moment.
“So, what do we do?”
“I’m not sure yet,” Loki replied. “I don’t even know what caused it.”
“Can’t you talk to her?”
“Not while she’s in this state,” Loki responded. “I have double watching her, and she hasn’t calmed any, yet.”
*** ~~~ ***
Lyssa sat on the floor, curled up in a corner close to the bed. She had her knees up and rocked slightly.
“I know that’s not you,” she said to the clone. “It doesn’t have your scent.”
Loki’s double didn’t react, it just stood at the door, a silent sentinel. Lyssa decided to ignore it as best as she could.
After some time, she heard when the door was unlocked and opened. Loki cautiously stepped through, his vivid green eyes on her. He left the door open, and she saw that the others were standing in the hallway, looking in, and that Peter was right beside Tony.
She closed her eyes, then opened them when he knelt in front of her. Her breathing was shallow, and she would occasionally gasp, then her whole body would stiffen, as if she were fighting something, then she’d relax.
She had started to rest her head on her knees when Lyssa suddenly raised her head, with her eyes widened. Just a split second after she did so, a feminine voice called down the hallway.
“What are you guys doing crowded down there?”
A petite red headed woman slid through the men gathered at the door in order to see what was going on. When Lyssa caught sight of her, she bared her teeth and hissed angrily.
Loki tackled her when she scrambled to her knees and launched herself at the other woman. He wrestled her to the floor and held her down, but not before she put deep scratches on his arms.
“Out. Everyone out.”
“Have I done something wrong?” The woman asked, causing Lyssa to hiss again.
“No, of course not, Natasha,” Tony told her. “We’re just having a little trouble with our visitor.”
“Let’s go.” Thor pulled the door firmly closed, then ushered everyone back toward the kitchen, with him remaining in the hallway in case Loki needed assistance or in case Lyssa managed to get out of the room.
Loki held Lyssa down until he was sure she couldn’t get to Natasha, then moved away as she slowly took her previous position.
He finally sat on the floor in front of her, with neither of them speaking for a few minutes.
“Tell me.” Loki broke the silence.
Loki noticed that Lyssa quivered at the sound of his voice. He watched her for a couple of minutes while she struggled to control herself. When she looked at him, he noticed that her eyes were dark with turmoil, but she seemed calmer.
“I - we misjudged,” she whispered, rubbing a hand over her face. “It’s too soon.”
“What’s too soon?” He asked.
“I don’t know what that means,” he told her, although he’d heard the term before, but couldn’t remember when.
“It’s a-a mating cycle.” Lyssa’s cheeks turned slightly pink at having to explain.
“Beg pardon?” Loki asked, startled.
“Please don’t make me repeat it,” she said, miserably. “It happens every hundred years, but it’s a few months early.”
“You do have to explain, so that we will know what to expect or how to help you.”
Lyssa’s cheeks turned even redder as she took a deep breath. Loki thought it odd that she’d blush about this but not when she’d offered to share ‘space’ with him and Bucky.
“It can last for several weeks, and my scent will change to draw males to me,” she told him, softly. “My master is not due to come for me for a while yet...and I won’t be able to control myself.”
Loki didn’t like the way this conversation was headed, at all. His mind conjured up a vision that he squashed immediately. He noticed that Lyssa watched him silently.
“How can we help you?”
We. Lyssa wanted no part of ‘we’, she wanted him. And if she couldn’t have him , then she’d choose to suffer without relief. Since that first day where she’d literally ran into him, Lyssa’s hormones had begun to ramp up into overdrive, and she would only accept him.
“I will only allow one to…if you’re not willing...” she started, hesitantly. “You’ll have to isolate me. I can’t teleport until it’s over.”
“I’ll talk to Stark,” Loki finally said. “Will you be alright for a few minutes?”
“Yes,” she replied. “But you should keep her away from me, and whatever you decide, Peter should be sent away. I cannot emphasize that enough.”
Loki could feel the pull of her pheromones the longer he sat there, so he started to get up but paused when she spoke again.
“I’m sorry for biting you.”
Loki nodded as he got to his feet, closing the door firmly behind him before heading to the common room. The others were waiting in the kitchen, just out of sight and he wasn’t sure how he would explain this.
“She’s alright,” he told them.
“Should I - ?” Peter said, indicating the hallway.
“No,” Loki told him, rather sharply. “You are to stay here.”
Tony and Thor both were rather stunned at the tone in Loki’s voice, and Tony wanted an answer as to why Loki would speak to the teenager that way. Peter looked slightly hurt, and shifted his feet nervously.
“We need to talk, in private,” Loki told his brother and Tony, while watching Peter’s movements. “Immediately.”
Tony led the way to a small office and closed the door behind them.
“What is it?” Thor asked.
“We have a bit of a problem,” Loki said, trying to choose his words carefully. “She’s starting what she called a mating cycle — “
“Excuse me?” Tony interrupted, even though he’d heard Loki very clearly.
“Yes, and her master is not due to collect her quite yet,“ Loki continued. “She’s here until he comes for her, and she needs to be isolated, otherwise she will have lots of company, male company.”
Tony gaped at him, while Thor was equally stunned.
“Natasha should keep her distance. Lyssa is stronger than you realize, and it would never do for her to injure someone. We don’t want to give SHIELD an excuse to take her.”
“I’ll find an empty apartment for her…”
“The sooner the better,” Loki agreed. “Once she’s settled, I’ll place spells around it so that no one can break in. She wasn’t entirely forthcoming on what to expect, but she did say that her scent would draw males to her.”
“Anything else?” Tony asked.
“She emphasized that Peter should be sent away from here.”
Tony ran both hands through his hair before having Jarvis show him which apartments were available. There was an entire floor of empty living spaces, so Tony had the AI close off the doors and elevators so that no one could enter once Lyssa was moved there.
When they left the office, Thor filled Steve and Bucky in on the situation, not realizing that Peter was with earshot.
“Peter, there’s no time to explain but Natasha is going to take you home.”
“Home?” Peter asked. “But I - “
“Natasha.” Tony gave her a look that invited no argument.
“Get your things, Peter.”
Peter was disappointed in having to leave since he really liked Lyssa. He ran to his room to get his backpack and briefly looked at her door. He wanted to tell her goodbye, but Loki stood at the end of the hall, watching, and Peter really didn’t want to set him off.
“Tell her I said bye?” He asked as he passed Loki to join Natasha.
*** ~~~ ***
Later that afternoon, Lyssa paced the bedroom of the apartment that she’d been moved to. She was restless, and not able to be still for long. Every nerve ending seemed to be firing off, making even the soft material of her sheer gown feel like sandpaper.
Loki had woven a spell around the bedroom in an attempt to contain her scent. He wasn’t entirely certain that it would work, but it was worth a try. Then he’d woven another one on the apartment itself. If any of the doors were opened, he’d know immediately.
After a rather lengthy discussion, it had been decided that he would stay in the apartment as a guard so that there was no risk of Lyssa escaping and also to keep traffic in and out at a minimum. The others figured that she’d stay close to him anyway, so he was pretty much volunteered for the job, much to his dismay.
The kitchen had been stocked with food that Loki could easily reheat, along with water and an assortment of juices. Loki wasn’t sure if she would eat during her phase, but they had to be prepared.
He turned at the sound of her voice, and felt a pang of sympathy, along with a jolt of desire. She had her arms crossed tightly as she tried to control her trembling.
“What is it?” He asked quietly.
“C-could I h-have one of your shirts?”
He instantly retrieved one from a dimensional pocket, then held it out to her. She shed her gown without a second thought and quickly put the shirt on, wincing as her body protested the movement.
“Thank you,” she whispered, with a sniffle. “That’s much better.”
“You’re welcome,” he replied. “Are you hungry?”
Please be hungry...
She shook her head but did accept the juice that he offered her. Her hands were shaking so badly that she had to use both to hold the bottle.
“How much worse is this going to get?” He asked her.
“Way worse,” she replied, running her fingers through her hair anxiously. “I have to apologize in advance for anything I might say or do...there may be more biting involved.”
She attempted to grin at him, so he smiled back at her. Lyssa stepped toward him, before stopping and dropping her gaze to the floor. Her shoulders sagged and Loki could tell that she was dejected.
“I’m sorry,” she said, softly.
“I never meant for this to happen. You’re uncomfortable…” she replied, pausing as a shudder went through her. “Maybe Bucky would have been the better choice, seeing as you’re not interested in me…but I really like you.”
When tears started flowing down her cheeks, Loki felt somewhat contrite at her situation. Despite the aggravation of the day when she’d smeared waffles and syrup all over him, he did find her amusing and desirable. His hesitancy in showing interest was simply due to the fact that the others were waiting for him to do so.
Besides, he’d never been awakened by women sliding into his bed without an invitation. After that first night when Lyssa had sneaked into his room, he came to expect her there, finding that he slept lightly until she was cuddled against his side. He speculated whether it might have been her hormones, but decided that in any case, he hadn’t really minded her company.
Loki realized then that she had been watching him while he was lost in thought. He moved closer to her in order to gently wipe the tears from her cheeks. She was warm, and soft, and... Norns , she smelled divine...
Lyssa took a deep breath and turned her head so that his palm rested against her cheek, then she placed her hand over his so that she could kiss his palm. Loki caught his breath when she went further and nipped at the soft skin between his thumb and forefinger.
“It’s not that I don’t like you,” he murmured, trying to keep his voice steady. “I’m just not sure that the choice was entirely of your free will.”
“Oh.” Lyssa sniffled again before looking up at him. “Truthfully, it could have gone several ways, but you literally knocked me off my feet. I was attracted to you before I realized that my phase was starting.”
Loki studied her, knowing instantly that she wasn’t lying. He allowed his fingertips to linger on her cheek while she met his gaze. He could detect her scent, a combination of soft musk, flowers, and surprisingly, maple syrup.
He took her hand and led her to a comfortable chair before sitting down and drawing her onto his lap. She put one arm around his shoulders before resting her head against his, her forehead against his temple.
“Alright?” He asked.
“Yes, for now,” she replied, unconsciously allowing her free hand to caress his throat before slipping it into the opening of his shirt in order to touch more of his skin.
Loki allowed her to touch him, knowing that she couldn’t help herself. She was warm, and he could feel her trembling within his embrace.
“Tell me about your master. What will happen when he comes for you and finds out about this?” He asked, trying to distract her.
“He would understand,” she replied. “I’ve been with him for a very long time, and he isn’t what you’d expect.”
“Are you certain?”
“Oh, yes,” she said, confidently. “Besides, I don’t have a way of contacting him. He left me here, knowing that I can take care of myself, although getting mugged in London was entirely unexpected, as was meeting you and your friends. We have an agreed upon time for him to retrieve me, which is still several more weeks away.”
“I see,” Loki replied, mulling that over.
“He may be somewhat concerned that I’m not where he left me, though. I’m not supposed to cross the oceans or travel to different continents.”
Loki acknowledged that with a nod. “Do you think you could sleep for a while?”
“I’m not sure, but I could try.”
“Try to relax.” He smoothed her hair gently, then her back, while the tension slowly left her. She did manage to doze for a while, much to his relief.
About an hour later, she woke abruptly and looked around wildly. Loki was startled for just a moment, since he’d been close to dozing off himself.
Lyssa moved so that she straddled his lap, and interlocked her fingers at the back of his neck after sliding them through his thick hair. Her gaze was intense as she stared into his eyes, and Loki realized that he was fighting a losing battle.
Odin’s beard… the thought had barely formed when he felt himself giving in.
Loki pushed hair out of her face, then ran his fingers over her cheek, caressing her lightly. His thumb traced her lips in fascination before he kissed her. Lyssa’s eyes closed and he felt her hand stroke the hollow of his throat, then unbutton his shirt. Her hands then found his chest while she desperately returned his kiss.
After a moment, Lyssa quivered against him and pushed away, but his hand tightened on the back of her neck while his free hand held one of her arms against the small of her back.
He continued to kiss her between whispering softly, and holding her against him so that she couldn’t move. By this time, she had started to pant softly but couldn’t get loose free his embrace.
Lyssa’s free hand twisted into his shirt until she’d gathered a fistful; it was her only way of touching him. His voice in her ear was affecting her and she wanted him. She let go of his shirt and he felt her fingers scrabble against his shoulder before she grabbed his hair.
Loki released her neck long enough to capture both wrists and hold them together behind her back. Lyssa whimpered softly and dropped her head to his shoulder.
He kissed her ear, then slowly made his way down her neck, alternately kissing, biting and licking until he reached the curve of her shoulder. He then blew softly on her wet skin before turning his attention to her throat.
“Please…” Lyssa struggled against him but he held her too tightly. “I need….”
“What do you need, little one?”
Loki felt her shudder and her knees tightened against his hips before she collapsed against him. He held her tightly, rather astonished that she’d reached her pleasure at just the sound of his voice.
Before he realized what he was doing, he’d carried her to the bed and placed her on it. Lyssa clung to him desperately and he felt the buttons on his shirt give way as she tore at it.
Loki pushed her onto her back, trapping her there with his weight, with his hands holding hers down against the bedding. She arched into him, and one leg twined around his, with her heel digging into the back of his knee.
He kissed her again but then stopped abruptly when he felt the barest disturbance of his spells, as if someone was testing them. Lyssa tugged at her hands, trying to get free, but he held onto her until he felt that disturbance again.
“ No! Don’t...leave…” Lyssa’s voice cracked in a sob as he freed himself so that he could go investigate.
“Shhh, I’ll be right back,” he soothed, kissing her forehead before leaving the bed.
Loki glanced back at her as he reached the bedroom door; she’d curled up on her side, hugging her knees tightly.
“It’s alright, I’ll be right back,” he repeated.
He had just closed the bedroom door softly when Loki felt his spells fail, then he heard Lyssa shriek in fear. He slammed the door open just seconds after her scream, but she was gone.
“Jarvis!” He shouted, as he checked the bathroom, then the windows. “What’s happened?”
“Sorry, Sir, but I’m not quite sure,” the AI responded. “There was a split second where there was another life form in the room with her, before they both disappeared.”
Teleported. Loki realized.
“Tell Stark and the others,” Loki commanded. “I’m on my way up.”
As soon as he stepped off the elevator, Tony was on him.
“I’m not going to ask what happened, because I already know,” Tony told him. “But I do want to know how it happened!”
Loki glared at him. “I think we should concentrate on how to get her back, and you forget that I don’t answer to you unless we’re on a mission.”
Tony could have chewed nails at that moment. Once Fury and the others at HQ knew she was gone, there would be some explaining to do.
Loki suddenly straightened his shoulders, with Thor noticing.
“What is it, Brother?”
“The collar, she’s trying to remove it,” Loki replied.
“I don’t suppose that you put any type of GPS on that thing?” Tony asked.
“She’s not on Midgard, but I can’t tell exactly where she is,” Loki replied.
“Great, that’s just great.” Tony flung his hands up in exasperation.
Loki bristled at that, and Thor put a hand on his shoulder, trying to calm him. Loki took a deep breath before nodding his head at Thor.
“Any ideas?” Tony asked, still upset at Loki.
“I will try to trace her each time she tampers with the collar,” Loki responded. “Though I’m not sure what good that will do, seeing as we don’t have a space ship.”
Tony rubbed his hand over his eyes, trying to fight off the headache that had settled behind them.
“See what you can do,” he said, quietly.
Throughout the night, Loki felt it whenever Lyssa tried to remove the collar. His spell was strong, and since it was still intact, he felt certain that the person who had taken her didn’t realize it was there.
There was still the issue of the spaceship. Neither Midgard nor Stark had anything that would carry them into space. So, even if he found her, how would they retrieve her?
*** ~~~ ***
Lyssa fought the grip on her arm as she was led through the hallways of the ship where she’d been taken. She still had on Loki’s shirt, which caused a stir among the people they passed.
“Stop fighting,” the man told her, giving a yank to propel her along.
“Aldiir, sometimes I really wish he’d just kill you to get it over with,” she snarled, again trying to pull her arm free. “Even if you are his brother.”
Aldiir laughed at that, causing her temper to rise further.
“Our mother would have something to say about that.”
Aldiir was similar in build to Braxden but a couple inches shorter. He was a pest that was jealous of Braxden’s success and popularity, would try anything to make the other man lose his temper. So far, it hadn’t worked. His latest attempt was snatching Braxden’s favorite pet from the planet where he’d let her take a furlough.
She screamed in frustration while digging her nails into the hand that held onto her. She couldn’t get free, and the proximity of him and the other males in the hallway heightened her need, and she wanted to get back to Loki. She desperately wanted to get back to him.
Once again, she clawed at Loki’s collar, trying to break the clasp. Maybe he could find her when she did that. It was too soon for Braxden to return for her, but he would know once she left the planet. She wasn’t certain how long it would take him to get to her, but he wouldn’t waste any time.
Aldiir shoved her into a cell that had a small cot and other bare necessities. She turned and tried to get past him, but he pushed her back. He grabbed both her arms and shook her roughly, making her look up at him.
He studied her quietly, then one side of his mouth turned up in a slight grin.
“So, it’s started, has it?” He said softly. “And once again, I’m too late.”
“As if I would ever choose you!”
“You would if there were no others.”
Lyssa snarled with frustration, and surprised him with a slap that was hard enough to turn his head slightly, but did little else. He laughed and closed the cell door.
“Should I leave guards for you?” He asked her.
“It would be in your best interest to do so,” she said, glowering at him. “If any harm comes to me, he will visit it upon you twofold.”
“You’ve been around humans too long, you’re picking up their speech patterns. It doesn’t become you.”
Lyssa angrily threw herself at the cell door, but the force field prevented her from reaching him. Aldiir watched her with amusement for a few minutes before turning to walk away. Lyssa fervently hoped that he would send guards, as several men stopped by the cell to look at her.
*** ~~~ ***
A week later, Loki was still in his room when Jarvis requested his presence in the common area, immediately. He’d been unable to pinpoint Lyssa’s location and could no longer tell if the spell on her collar was still intact.
While he spent most of his time pacing his room in order to resist the urge to drop Tony from the nearest balcony, the others had tried to think of some way to keep SHIELD out of the loop, and to explore options of retrieving Lyssa if they were able to find her again.
“Stark,” he started off, “I’ve been up all week trying to determine a way to find her. Summoning me every five minutes isn’t helping.”
Tony looked at him without saying anything, just pointed to the balcony door, which had everyone’s attention.
“I may be able to help you with that,” a deep voice responded, causing Loki to turn quickly.
A man stood there, watching them. He was very tall, just slightly taller than Loki. He was powerfully built, but without the bulging muscles, and had dark brown hair and hazel eyes.
“Who are you, exactly?” Loki asked, rather warily. He felt like he should know who this man was.
“My name is Braxden,” the man replied. “Now, tell me, what have you done with my pet?”
“Pet?” Loki asked, blankly.
“Lyssa,” Braxden clarified. “She was here, yes?”
“Yes, but there’s a slight problem,” Tony said, cautiously. He wasn’t sure what this new alien was capable of, and really didn’t want to find out.
“I trust you didn’t overfeed her,” Braxden said, arching an eyebrow.
“Well, she didn’t exactly come with an instruction manual,” Tony replied, defensively.
“And alcohol, did you give her alcohol?”
“Again, no manual.”
“I see,” Braxden sighed. “Now, to the matter at hand, tell me what’s happened to her.”
Tony and Loki took turns going over the events of the last few days. Braxden listened intently, watching Loki carefully. When they finished, he nodded his head.
“I doubt that any spells would have stopped him from acquiring her,” he told Loki.
“So, you know who it is?” Thor asked.
“Yes, he plagues me,” Braxden replied, shaking his head. “It’s more of an annoying game than anything. He won’t harm her. If he keeps her long enough, he won’t be able to feed her and will gladly send her back.”
“There’s one other thing…” Tony started, then paused, glancing at Loki.
“She’s phasing,” Loki said, reluctantly.
Braxden stiffened at that, his eyes narrowing as his gaze hardened.
“How long?” He asked.
“A week ago,” Loki replied.
“How bad?” Braxden then asked, sharply.
“Bad,” Loki admitted.
Braxden looked at each man slowly, before his gaze rested on Loki once again.
“So, it’s you,” Braxden said softly.
Loki said nothing, while the others stole a glance at him. Lyssa had told him that her master wouldn’t be as expected, and she had been right.
“Alright, then,” Braxden told them. “I’m going after her. She won’t be able to teleport, but her telekinesis will at least plague him. She really doesn’t like him.”
“About that — “ Thor started to say, after glancing at Loki. “She’s wearing a collar that prohibits her from using her abilities.”
“I hesitate to ask who put a collar on my property,” Braxden said, once again looking at Loki.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Thor replied, defending his brother. “We didn’t know anything about her, or whether she was a threat.”
“She’s a threat only to your food cupboard,” Braxden replied, dryly.
“Yeah, we found that out,” Tony agreed.
Braxden chuckled at that, easing the tension a bit.
“All of you need not go. I can handle Aldiir on my own and retrieve my property.”
“I’ll go,” Loki replied.
“I’ll accompany my brother,” Thor said.
“Very well,” Braxden agreed. “Come and stand by me.”
Thor and Loki took positions on either side of him, then they were gone with a slight flash of blue and green.
*** ~~~ ***
Braxden led Loki and Thor through several hallways of the large ship that they had been transported to, and they soon ended up on the bridge. While Braxden spoke to one of his crewmen, the Asgardians looked around.
“I feel as if we should know him,” Thor murmured to his brother.
“As do I,” Loki replied.
“Gentlemen, you may sit here, if you like.” Braxden indicated a couple of empty chairs. “We’re getting underway and are tracing Aldiir’s ship. If we’re lucky, he’ll give her up without much trouble.”
“And if we’re unlucky?” Loki asked as he and Thor sat down.
Braxden’s carefree attitude regarding Lyssa’s kidnapping rather bewildered the brothers. He obviously didn’t feel that she was in danger, since this Aldiir fellow had apparently done this before.
Loki quietly studied the bridge of the ship, while Thor watched the large screen that showed the blackness of space and the stars that seemed to be closer than they actually were. Then his thoughts turned to Lyssa.
“She’ll be alright,” Braxden said, softly, without turning in his chair to address Loki. “It shouldn’t take more than a few days to catch up to them and by that time, they’ll gladly give her over. They might even pay us to take her off their hands. Trust me.”
Loki nodded, wondering what he meant by that. It indicated that there was a side to Lyssa that they hadn’t seen yet.
“I’ve been meaning to ask,” Braxden finally turned to face the brothers. “Have we met before?”
“We were thinking the same thing,” Thor replied. “Lyssa told us that she’d been to Asgard, but hadn’t met us.”
“We were there some time ago, maybe two centuries, but there was a small incident surrounding a feast,” Braxden told them. “Some chubby fellow, with red hair and beard, became upset that a rare delicacy went missing before it was served. Some type of fowl.”
“You’re from Rohiane, yes?” Thor asked, vaguely remembering the incident. “We didn’t get a chance to meet you, as we were looking for a food thief.”
Braxden laughed at that, good-naturedly. “Yes, that’s right. What is that fellow’s name?”
“Volstagg,” Loki replied.
“Right!” Braxden grinned. “Poor fellow, he was so disappointed.”
“I remember now. Father wasn’t amused with the ruckus that he caused over that. We never did find the thief or the fowl.”
“I’m not surprised,” Braxden laughed again.
“It was Lyssa, wasn’t it?” Loki asked, with a chuckle.
“What can I say? She got hungry and raided the kitchen, twice.”
Thor grinned at that, thinking how perplexed the head cook would have been when two large birds seemingly disappeared into thin air. He could almost imagine her expression.
“Lyssa said that she’s been with you for a long time,” Loki said, changing the subject. “Where is she from?”
“She’s from Daene,” Braxden replied. “I’ve had her for most of her life.”
“Daene,” Loki repeated. “Wasn’t that planet destroyed by a supernova a millennia ago?”
“Yes,” Braxden replied. “She’s one of the few survivors; the last of her kind, if you will.”
“How did you come by her?” Thor asked.
“I stole her from an abusive trader.” Braxden’s voice hardened. “He sued me to get her back, but the court awarded her to me, once they learned how she’d been treated. It’s one of the reasons why I rarely discipline her; she’s been through a lot.”
Loki nodded, then sat back suddenly. “She’s trying to remove the collar again.”
“It won’t be long now.”
Lyssa paced her cell angrily, and with each passing hour, her discomfort grew. Aldiir had posted guards outside the cell, and she was grateful that he’d had the foresight to assign females to her.
She clawed at the collar periodically, but it wouldn’t budge. She was both impressed and angry that Loki’s spell was so strong; if it had been otherwise, she would have had the thing off of her well before now.
Aldiir came by after a couple hours to watch her. She glared at him, trying not to show how desperate she was to get back to Loki. She repeatedly refused to tell him who she had decided on, leading him to believe that it was Braxden.
As the days passed, her condition worsened while her desperation grew. The food left for her went untouched, and no one dared to take her out of the cell, even to allow her to bathe.
Resentment among the female guards that Aldiir had left with her grew and spread to the other females on board. They didn’t like that he was allowing Lyssa to suffer so. He’d kidnapped her before, but Braxden had always retrieved her within a few hours, or a couple of days at the most. Of course, she hadn’t been phasing during those times, but Aldiir could stop the whole fiasco by turning back to meet Braxden’s ship.
Aldiir came to the brig on the fifth day after he’d brought Lyssa on board. He hadn’t been down for several days as he’d been trying to give Braxden a good chase.
Plainly, he was shocked at the sight of her. By this point, she was reduced to laying on the floor. Her hair was tangled and she still wore the green shirt that she’d had on when he first snatched her. The shirt was sweat stained and dirty, but she’d refused any of the other clothes that she was given.
“Has she eaten anything?” He asked one of the guards, uneasily.
“Nothing.” The woman looked at him, and he could tell that she wasn’t very happy.
“What about a bath?”
“No one wants to be responsible for taking her out of the cell,” was the terse reply.
Not good, this is not good at all, Aldiir thought to himself.
If Braxden saw her like this, he would likely kill him. It was one thing to kidnap Lyssa and keep her for a few hours; at most, his brother would have been inconvenienced only slightly. But this, this was different.
She raised her head weakly at the sound of his voice, but then laid back down and closed her eyes. She then ignored any further attempts by him to get her attention.
“Sir?” One of the crewmen approached him hesitantly.
“What is it?”
“We have a slight problem.”
*** ~~~ ***
“Hello, what’s this.”
Thor and Loki were again on the bridge of Braxden’s ship with him while they continued pursuing Aldiir. Braxden tapped on the control panel, then sat back in his chair, perplexed.
“Is something wrong?” Loki asked.
“Just unusual,” Braxden replied. “His ship has stopped moving rather abruptly.”
He looked over the data that his computer was feeding into the terminal, all the while tapping his fingers on his armrest. Braxden knew his brother, and it was unlike him to just sit and wait to be overtaken.
He expected a trick of some sort, or maybe Lyssa was giving him so much trouble that he’d decided it wasn’t worth the aggravation of keeping her any longer.
“Lotus, any communication from him?”
“No, sir,” the comm officer replied. “Wait, there is something now - a distress signal.”
Braxden got to his feet abruptly. This was most unusual, and he wondered if his stupid brother had antagonized Lyssa to the point where she would actually destroy the entire ship around her. Surely, Aldiir wasn’t that stupid.
“How long before we overtake him?”
“At this speed, and if he remains still, half a day, sir.”
“Any readings on their life support systems?”
“Partial readings, but they seem to be operative.”
“What’s going on?” Loki asked.
“He’s sent a distress signal,” Braxden replied, as he paced for a moment. “His engines appear to be malfunctioning, but his life support systems are still intact.”
“Something is worrying you,” Loki said softly. “What is it?”
“If he’s - antagonized her, she is fully capable of destroying a ship,” Braxden replied, reluctantly. “Increase our speed, get us there as quickly as possible.”
*** ~~~ ***
“What’s happened to the engines?” Aldiir demanded, glaring at the chief engineer.
“We’re not entirely certain, sir, they just - quit.”
“Is there anything else?”
“The life support systems may be next.”
Aldiir growled before turning on his heel to leave engineering. Things were going steadily from bad to worse. He could only hope that Braxden would arrive soon so that he could get Lyssa off his ship.
Once he returned to the bridge, he was told that Braxden’s ship was hailing him.
“No answer,” he told the comm officer.
*** ~~~ ***
Once Braxden’s ship had the other ship in sight, Braxden had his crew monitor for any other malfunctions, especially to the life support systems. Their computer reported the number of life forms, which matched Aldiir’s crew count, plus one.
Once they were close enough to do so, Braxden, Thor and Loki transported to Aldiir’s ship. Then Braxden led the way toward the brig, where Lyssa was being held, with the brothers and a crewman following him.
All three men noticed that any female crew that they encounter seemed to be rather relieved to see Braxden, with each one surreptitiously bowing their heads while motioning toward the brig.
Although he didn’t let on, Braxden grew increasingly concerned about what he would find. Loki sensed his unease, but said nothing. If the matter wasn’t resolved to his satisfaction, he had his own plan for retribution.
As they were about to round a corner, an alarm went off and they heard what sounded like a small explosion. Braxden held his hand out to prevent Thor and Loki from going further to investigate while the crewman retreated without a sound.
Suddenly, a man flew into the wall a few feet from them, and fell to the floor with a groan. Then he was lifted and bounced against the ceiling several times, each time eliciting another groan from him. Finally, he was held upside down while being shaken violently.
Lyssa staggered into view, and the brothers were startled at her appearance. She was absolutely filthy, with tangled hair and still wearing Loki’s ruined shirt. One hand clutched at the collar while she gasped for breath, and she leaned one hand against the wall.
She was intent on inflicting as much pain as possible, and concentrated hard on Aldiir to compensate for Loki’s spell that inhibited her telekinesis.
Braxden was incensed by the sight of her; Aldiir had gone too far this time.
“Take her, take her,” the man said, after he recognized Braxden.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Braxden replied, slowly. “You’ve made her mad now, and I’ve always found it best to leave her be until she’s handled whatever has angered her.”
“She’s going to kill me, Brother,” Aldiir said, just as Lyssa dropped him onto his head.
“As well she should.”
Loki was rather impressed by Lyssa’s feat in bypassing his spell, although he could tell that it was taking its toll on her. He looked her over to assure himself that she wasn’t hurt.
“Should I remove the spell?” He asked Braxden quietly.
“Not right now, we don’t want her to actually kill him.”
“She destroyed the cell,” Aldiir complained.
“You’re lucky that she hasn’t destroyed your ship,” Braxden told him. “As it is, you’ve gotten off lightly with just having your engines out.”
Aldiir then slid across the floor and into a wall before coming back to his previous position. He tried to get up, but was slammed face first into the floor again.
“Lyssa, my dear, don’t you think that’s enough?” Braxden asked her, gently.
She looked over at him, and blinked a couple of times while before it registered that he was there. She weakly pushed away from the wall, getting her balance before walking unsteadily to him, and in the process stepped onto Aldiir’s back and wiped her feet like she would on a doormat. She gave a leap and threw herself at Braxden, with her arms going around his neck.
He caught her easily and held her against him, while speaking to her softly. She pressed her forehead against his while sobbing, and rubbed noses with him.
“Now, let’s get you out of here, you need a bath, yes?”
“Yes.” She sniffled softly.
Aldiir had gotten to his feet unsteadily by this time, and straightened slightly.
“There’s still the matter of the ransom, Brother — “
He was cut off when Lyssa forced him to his knees into a bow, then held his head to the floor.
“You were saying?” Braxden asked.
“Nothing of importance,” Aldiir replied.
“That’s what I thought.”
Braxden scooped Lyssa up when her legs finally gave out, then led the way back to the transporter in order to be returned to his own ship. He carried her easily, holding her like he would a child. Her arms circled his neck loosely as she rested her head on his shoulder.
“I’ve ruined Loki’s shirt,” she murmured.
She still hadn’t acknowledged Loki or Thor; it hadn’t registered yet that they were there.
“I’m sure he will understand,” Braxden responded.
Lyssa nodded, then closed her eyes. Loki could tell that she was exhausted from the short stint on Aldiir’s ship, and from the effort it had taken her to bypass his spell. He was sure that once she’d bathed, she would almost immediately fall asleep.
They were transported back to Braxden’s ship without further incident, although they did receive some wary looks from Aldiir’s crew. Braxden returned those looks, almost daring them to just try something.
Once they were safely aboard Braxden’s ship, he asked Lotus to meet him in Lyssa’s stateroom.
“I’m going to have Lotus help her with her hair and a bath,” Braxden told the Asgardians. “And to see if she will eat. Griffon will show you to the bridge. I’ll be along shortly.”
*** *** ***
Braxden returned to the bridge after leaving Lyssa in the care of Lotus. He sat down tiredly and studied his hands before speaking.
“Thor, it will take us some time to return to Earth. I will have you shown to your stateroom, so that you can eat and rest. I’d like to talk to your brother alone.”
“That will be fine,” Thor replied, glancing at Loki.
Braxden had someone escort Thor to a room while Loki remained on the bridge, waiting for the course to be set back to Earth. He met the other man’s gaze before Braxden finally spoke.
“She likes you,” Braxden finally said. “Are you at all interested in her?”
“That’s not the issue,” Loki replied, although he had been quite ready to give in to her just before she was stolen.
“What, then?” Braxden asked.
“I’m concerned whether it was of her own free will,” Loki told him. “Besides, you’re her master, why shouldn’t you be the one…”
Braxden smiled at that, not in the least perturbed that Lyssa was yearning for someone other than him.
“I am immune to her scent,” he replied. “Our relationship is rather unique in that I let her make her own choices. I’ve given her her freedom, but she stays with me. I consider her more of a ward than a servant, and only command her when it is necessary for her safety.”
Loki nodded, thinking again about Lyssa’s description of her master.
“I’m sure you’ve noticed that she can be rather childlike at times, but make no mistake: she is mature. I do not stifle her, as others would. She is mostly carefree, but can be quite a handful, as Aldiir found out.”
Loki grimaced at that, then Braxden continued.
“She has a fascination with Earth, so I let her visit occasionally. This is the first time that she’s had any trouble.”
Loki sat back, thinking about what he’d been told.
“She will be...uncomfortable...for at least two weeks, possibly up to two months. I hope you won’t let her suffer that long,” Braxden said. “You don’t have to take her to bed, however just your presence will negate some of the discomfort.”
Braxden paused to watch Loki for a couple of minutes.
“Her stateroom is specially designed to mask her scent during this time. There’s no real hurry to get back to Earth; I feel that she would be safer here, in any case. I’m sure I can get a message back to the others, if you like.”
*** ~~~ ***
Once they were alone in her room, Lotus drew a warm bath, then helped Lyssa into the water. After shampooing Lyssa’s hair and then combing the tangles out, she pinned it up so that it would be out of the way
Lyssa managed to scrub vigorously at her feet until she was sure she’d washed off any trace of Aldiir’s ship from them, then Lotus took over in washing her more gently. She had to change the water out twice before every speck of grime had been scrubbed off to Lyssa’s satisfaction.
“Stay here and relax. I’m going to get some food for you. When have you eaten last?” The woman asked softly.
“Aida will be furious over this.”
Aida was Braxden and Aldiir’s mother, and she regarded Lyssa as a daughter. She frowned upon Aldiir anytime he stole Lyssa from Braxden, but the situation had never gotten this much out of control.
Lyssa nodded tiredly as she laid back, trying to ignore the heat in her core. She subconsciously rubbed her knees together, then rubbed her hands along the tops of her thighs. Tears streamed from her eyes as she curled against the side of the tub.
She felt like she was going to combust from the fire coursing through her veins. She needed to be close to Loki, even if only to lay next to him.
The times he had let her sleep with him had been so peaceful, and she slept better than she remembered in recent years. His scent was so soothing, and she enjoyed the softness of his shirts and bedclothes. But she really liked having his arm around her; he made her feel safe and fuzzy-warm.
Loki stood in Lyssa’s stateroom after Braxden had escorted him there, then left him inside. It was a large space, with the bed situated on a raised floor and surrounded by curtains.
It was neat, except for one corner, which had several shelving units that were stuffed with trinkets and mementos. He suspected that these items were likely from places that she’d visited, but he recognized that most of them had come from Earth. He smiled while perusing the eclectic collection.
Loki then heard the sound of splashing water, and realized that Lyssa was still in the bath. He quietly walked to the bathroom door, expecting her to be finished since it had been at least an hour since Braxden had excused her to her room.
She sat in the tub, covered by water up to her shoulders; he could see the back of her head, and her slender neck. She hadn’t heard him, so he watched her silently. He could see that her shoulders trembled sporadically, followed by soft sounds from her.
Loki realized with a start that she was trying to find relief on her own, so he went to the tub and knelt behind her. She still wasn’t aware of his presence until his hands slid down her arms and into the water to capture her wrists. He then crossed her arms over her chest while kissing her ear lightly.
“There is no need for that, little one,” he murmured, nipping at her neck and breathing in her scent.
Lyssa jumped at his touch and voice. “You’re here!”
She tilted her head to give him more access to her neck, then shook slightly when he found the sensitive spot behind her ear.
Loki hugged her more tightly when she stiffened in his embrace, then she hissed while trying to get up. He held onto her, speaking gently.
“I apologize, Prince Loki, I wasn’t aware that you were with her.”
Lotus had returned with food for Lyssa, and her presence had caused Lyssa’s reaction, but Lotus wasn’t concerned about it. She’d been through all this before and knew how to handle it; Lyssa would only threaten another woman this way if they went near her chosen partner while she was phasing.
“I’ll leave the food on the table. Please see if she will eat for you?”
The woman left, and Lyssa relaxed, although she was beginning to pant softly. Loki ghosted his lips along the top of her shoulder, making her shudder.
“Are you done here?” He asked while nibbling at her earlobe.
She nodded shakily, unable to speak. Loki moved to scoop her up into his arms, paying no mind to the soaking he got as he carried her out of the bathroom.
“Can you eat something?” He asked.
“I - think so,” she replied.
Loki sat at the table with her on his lap, and pulled the tray within reach. Lotus had brought foods that were bite-sized, and there was even enough for Loki. Lyssa reached for a glass of juice but her hands were shaking so badly that she couldn’t hold it steady. Loki put his hand over hers, helping her to drink. Then he fed her from the tray until she’d had enough.
“You should eat,” she murmured, pressing her forehead to his and putting a hand at the back of his neck, under his hair.
“Later,” he assured her, kissing the palm of her free hand.
Lyssa took that opportunity to caress his cheek before skimming her fingertips down his throat. She then noticed the condition of his clothes.
“Your clothes are wet,” she whispered, worriedly.
“They will dry, nothing to worry about,” he whispered back, while nuzzling at her ear. “Are you finished?”
When she nodded, he took her to the bed and laid down with her. He then shimmered his clothes away, earning a gasp of wonder from her, then another when he pinned her beneath him. Lyssa wrapped herself around him, holding on as if her life depended on it.
From there, he drove her into a frenzy with his body, his touch and his kisses. He pushed her to her limit, then even further, until she was spent. She slept for a short time, and when she awoke, he started again.
The fire in her veins would abate then come again in slow waves, making her almost frantic for him. Loki soothed her, being careful with his strength even though she could almost match him in that regard. He felt that she would actually be able leave marks on him.
When she was finally able to sleep for longer than fifteen minutes, Loki lay on his side and watched her. Lyssa was on her back with her hands firmly grasping his forearm and upper arm, as if she was afraid that she might lose him.
His thumb gently stroked her ribs, where his hand rested. He listened to her breathing, then kissed her temple when she took a deep breath, her fingers clutching at him in her sleep.
Then he dozed while holding her closely, waking when she began to stir restlessly. She calmed somewhat once she knew that he was still with her, and turned to slip a hand behind his neck, bringing his lips to hers.
“Loki,” she breathed, stroking his cheek with the backs of her fingers.
“What is it, little one?”
“I like you very much,” she replied, kissing him again.
“I bet you say that to all the guys,” he teased her.
She grinned sleepily. “Maybe just to Bucky.”
He couldn’t help but laugh at that while she wriggled as close to him as she could. His arms tightened around her until she gave a contented sigh and stopped squirming.
“Do you have to go now?” She asked.
“Not anytime soon,” he replied. “Braxden and Thor have sent a message to Stark to let him know that it may be several weeks before we’re back.”
“Good.” Lyssa kissed the hollow of his throat before closing her eyes. “If you’re hungry, you should eat while you can.”
“I’m not hungry just yet,” he replied. “You?”
“No.” She shook her head.
“Alright, then. Rest,” he told her. “I’ll be here.”
She nodded before going back to sleep.
*** ~~~ ***
The next morning, Loki got up, leaving Lyssa sleeping. She stirred slightly, causing him to pause before he went into the bathroom. He saw that she had indeed left numerous scratches and bruises on him; he was rather impressed by the teeth marks, even though he hadn’t really realized that he’d been bitten.
When he came out, his hair was still slightly damp from his shower; he continued to towel dry it while walking over to her collection to look at the items again.
He randomly picked up a trinket before carefully putting it back the way he’d found it. The shelves were so full of things, that it seemed that the movement of any one object would cause a chain reaction in making all of them fall to the floor.
Loki then noticed a plant in the corner of the room. It had long tendrils, and pale pink blossoms. He walked over for a closer look but before he could get too close, Lyssa’s voice stopped him.
“Be careful, she will bite.”
“What?” He asked, in surprise.
“She’s carnivorous and will bite,” Lyssa repeated.
Loki looked at the plant again, and one of the blossoms moved slightly before extending slowly towards him.
“It would be a good idea to step back now,” Lyssa told him. “She’s not really hungry yet, I fed her as soon as I got back here, but she’s pouting at me.”
Loki wasn’t sure what to make of the plant, but he did step back further as it continued to stretch in his direction. Lyssa left the bed and walked over while pulling on a robe.
“You behave now,” she said. “You are not to injure the prince.”
The blossom turned toward her then, and Lyssa very gently stroked it with a fingertip.
“If you're good, I’ll find a treat for you later, alright?”
Loki watched while the flower practically arched into Lyssa’s touch before slowly withdrawing.
“There’s a girl.”
Lyssa turned to smile tiredly at him, then her eyes widened when she saw the marks she had left on his skin. Her fingertips gently traced over his bare chest and arms, as if to soothe them.
She started to say something but Loki took her hand and drew her close to him.
“Don’t fret over a few bruises, you haven’t hurt me,” he whispered.
Lyssa nodded before wrapping her arms around him and laying her head on his chest. He held her for a few minutes before releasing her.
“Go,” he nodded to the bathroom. “I’ll order something to eat.”
“Lots of it, please.”
Loki chuckled as he pushed her away gently. “Of course.”
Once Lyssa was occupied elsewhere, Loki went to the computer panel, and studied it. Before he could start pressing buttons at random, the door chimed.
“Come,” he said, unsure whether the computer would react to his voice.
The door slid open to admit Lotus, who pushed a small cart laden with food. She kept her gaze lowered to avoid looking at his bare skin.
“I was just about to...how did you know?”
“I had the computer listen for either of you to say the words ‘hungry’ or ‘food’, or anything similar,” she replied. “I had most of it ready for you.”
“Of course,” she said. “It will answer you if you should need something. Braxden had your voice print and Thor’s added since you will be aboard for a while longer.”
Just as he started to answer, they heard a small crash in the bathroom, followed by Lyssa’s hiss.
“I should go now,” Lotus told him. “If you need anything, please ask.”
They heard another hiss, this time with more anger.
“I’m going, my dear! No need to get upset!” Lotus raised her voice so that Lyssa could hear her.
After she left, Loki looked at the food and selected some fruit while waiting for Lyssa to finish. When she came out of the bathroom, she had something in her hands.
“What’s that?” He asked.
“Y-your shirt...I’m afraid I’ve ruined it,” she replied, hesitantly. “I’m sorry.”
Loki walked over to her and took the bundled shirt, deposited it into a dimensional pocket while at the same time retrieving another one. He held it out to her so that she could slide her arms through the sleeves.
“I have plenty more, so you are not to worry about ruining any of them.”
He watched as she fastened only two buttons, at the center of her chest. Lyssa then turned to open a hidden panel in the wall, her closet. She took out a robe and a folded shirt and pair of pants.
“I think these will fit you, if you want them. Pajamas from Earth,” she told him while holding them out. “I have several more sets.”
“Why do you have men’s clothing in your closet?” He teased, taking the items from her.
“I got them, thinking that they could be a gift for someone. I found that I liked the shirts too much, so I kept them,” she explained with a shrug. “You don’t have to wear them, but I thought I’d offer.”
“Thank you, little one,” he replied. “Maybe I’ll wear the pants and you can wear the shirt?”
She smiled at him with a nod. “I think we should eat now, while we can.”
*** ~~~ ***
“Hello, Mother,” Braxden greeted the woman whose image was on the large forward screen on the bridge. “You’re looking well.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere, my boy,” Aida replied, but with a smile.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I’ve received a complaint from Aldiir, and oddly enough, one about him.”
“Is that so?” Braxden responded.
“Yes.” Aida’s keen eyes studied her oldest son. “Aldiir has complained that you left him stranded after you’d responded to his distress signal.”
“What else did he tell you?” He asked, knowing that Aldiir would lay the blame entirely on him.
“That’s about it. Care to tell me exactly what happened?”
“Of course.” Braxden sat in the captain’s chair before tapping on his computer screen. “He kidnapped Lyssa, again, this time while she was on Terra.”
“That’s nothing new, regrettably,” Aida sighed.
“Yes, but this time she was in full phase, he stole her from her partner, and didn’t take care of her properly while she was on his ship.”
“That explains the complaint about him from one of the women officers,” she said.
“Lyssa disabled Aldiir’s engines, how she managed to do that baffles me, given the condition she was in.”
“Was it that bad?”
“I’ve sent you some holograms, judge for yourself,” Braxden replied. “I waited with him until his engineer had the engines back online and to make sure that the life support system was still operative.
He waited silently until Aida had viewed the holos. When she had finished, he could tell that she was beyond angry.
“That boy!” She sat back in her chair. “How is Lyssa?”
“She’s still shaken; Lotus told me that she hadn’t eaten the whole time he had her.”
“This deserves action. I’m calling you both home to address this. How soon can you get here with her?”
“I’m not certain, it may be several weeks. I have her partner on board at the moment, and will have to return him to Terra. He has obligations there.”
“I see. Alright, I’ll call Aldiir home, then dock his ship until you are able to return.”
With that the screen went blank. Lotus turned her chair slightly to look at Braxden.
“I wouldn’t want to be your brother right now.”
“Neither would I.”
This is a short chapter; sorry about that. O_o
With Loki occupied and with nothing else to do, Thor found his way back to the bridge. Braxden waved him to a vacant chair while Lotus gave him a curious glance.
“Has the food from the dispenser been to your liking?” Braxden asked him. “Is there anything that we can provide while you’re here?”
“No, nothing comes to mind,” Thor replied. “Any idea how long Loki will be needed?”
“It’s different each time,” Braxden replied. “This phase caught us by surprise; it wasn’t due for another six months by Terran’s calendar.”
“I see.” Thor sat back in his seat and watched the forward screen idly for a few minutes.
“I haven’t really had time to talk to Lyssa yet.” Braxden broke the silence. “Tell us what happened that caused her to come to your attention.”
So, Thor told him about the sighting in London that had resulted in the team being sent there to deal with it, and how Lyssa had dragged Loki with her when she teleported. Loki had explained to Thor how he’d managed to get her to the Avengers tower, and Thor repeated what he’d been told.
Braxden roared with laughter when Thor recounted The Maple Syrup Incident, as Tony called it, and also Lyssa’s flirting with Bucky. He also told him how Lyssa would sneak into Loki’s room each night in order to sleep next to him.
“If she hadn’t literally run into your brother, things may have turned out differently,” Braxden told him. “She would have just been starting her phase at that time.”
“Tell me, how does that work?”
Braxden explained that just before the phase started, she would become attracted to a potential partner. Once her symptoms were noticeable, she would warn off any females by hissing and then attacking them if necessary.
“Your brother was concerned that she had no choice in the matter, but that’s not true,” Braxden told him. “She likely decided on him when she fell at his feet.”
“That’s good to know,” Thor replied. “What happens now with your brother?”
“Ah, Aldiir,” Braxden grimaced while sitting back in his chair. “Our mother is not happy with him right now. She’s calling him home and grounding him until I’m able to get there.”
“Mothers,” Thor said, shaking his head. “I wonder if she's as formidable as ours.”
Braxden chuckled softly at that. “Probably.”
Thor got up to leave, and Braxden had someone escort him, with an offer to tour the ship if he wanted. Once he was gone, Lotus turned to look at Braxden.
“Are you going to tell them?”
“We don’t know yet whether it’s permanent.”
She raised an eyebrow at him, blatantly questioning the decision.
“We don’t know yet,” he repeated.
*** ~~~ ***
Remember what I said. It’s gonna get way worse.
Lyssa’s words came back to Loki while she slept restlessly beside him. She had bathed earlier, but now was drenched in sweat, with her hair sticking to her face. Loki carefully brushed it away, causing her to gasp softly when his fingertips touched her skin.
She had kicked the bedcovers away from her, leaving them halfway in the floor. Loki tried to soothe her by pulling her into his embrace, but she bit him on the upper arm, causing him to rethink his strategy on that. While he hadn’t paid much attention before when she had bitten him while in the throes of passion, they did in fact hurt.
His seidr almost immediately healed the scratches and bites that she inflicted, but didn’t negate the pain right away.
“Shhh,” he murmured, close to her ear. “It’s alright.”
She shuddered at the sound of his voice, and managed to focus on his face. Loki once again brushed her hair back, while being careful of her teeth.
“I’m sorry…” she started but he shushed her.
“Stop apologizing,” he told her. “Are you hungry?”
She shook her head while closing her eyes. “Eat while you can.”
Loki kissed her temple and waited until she dozed off before getting up. He went to the bathroom for a quick shower, then dressed in a pair of pajama bottoms that Lyssa had given him.
“Computer? Food.” Loki heard the soft chime as the computer acknowledged the request.
After a few minutes, the door chimed, then opened to allow Lotus to push a cart in. Loki indicated that she should be quiet, and Lotus nodded while putting the cart close to the little dining table.
There was movement from the bed when Lyssa abruptly erupted from it in order to confront Lotus. Her momentum was hindered when she got tangled in one of the bed curtains and ripped it from the fasteners, then she tripped over the pile of bedcovers and fell to her knees.
Loki caught her before she could finish her attack, then held on while Lotus quickly left the stateroom. It took a few minutes for Lyssa to calm down, and he held onto her the entire time.
He half-carried her to the table and sat down, once again placing her on his lap. She refused food, but did drink two glasses of juice, then one glass of water while he rubbed her back soothingly.
Loki helped her put the glass on the table when she finished, then drew her against him. His arms tightened as she rested her head on his shoulder.
“Hey, you’re wearing them.” She’d noticed that he wore the pajama pants that matched the shirt she had on.
“I have to admit, they are comfortable,” he replied.
He could tell that she’d smiled, so he hugged her tighter. Lyssa sighed tiredly before finally relaxing. Loki began to eat, being mindful not to jar her while she was able to rest. Lotus had also brought some wine, which he was thankful for. He managed to pour it and sat back.
Loki considered what the future might hold. He wasn’t sure if Lyssa meant to stay on Earth once her phase was over. Braxden had told them she was free to go if she wanted to do so, but there had been no discussion of permanence.
He decided that he would have to wait before making any decisions. It wouldn’t be so bad having her stay, although she could be quite a handful.
“Eat,” Lyssa whispered, without moving.
*** *** ***
When Lotus returned to the bridge, Braxden could tell that she was a bit shaken. She took her seat without a word and without looking at him.
“What is it?” He asked.
“You should talk to him,” she replied, firmly. “Immediately.”
“Are you certain?”
Lotus turned and gave him a hard look, which answered his question. Braxden ran a hand through his hair with a sigh.
“Alright, then,” he responded.
If Lotus’s suspicions were true, he would have to face the possibility that Lyssa would soon be leaving them, even though she was free to go at any time. He would miss the lively creature, he realized, and hoped that if she did leave, she would be safe with her new friends.
*** ~~~ ***
Lyssa lay back against Loki’s chest as they relaxed in the large tub. The water was warm so that it wouldn’t irritate her but help to calm her. Loki crossed his arms across her chest, then she covered his hands with her own.
She closed her eyes when he kissed her temple, then the side of her neck. His lips rested on the pulse point there before he nibbled softly on her skin.
“Tell me,” he whispered. “Has this happened before while you were on Midgard?”
“Once,” she replied, thinking back. “No, twice.”
“Hmmm,” she hummed in reply. “A mortal, or two, may have perished.”
“Well, I imagine that they died happy.”
Lyssa laughed softly at his teasing tone and arched into his hands as he caressed her ribs before gently cupping her breasts. She caught her breath while her head fell back onto his shoulder.
She was in a down cycle of her phase, when the fire in her veins was somewhat calm, but it wouldn’t be long until it cycled upward. As time progressed, it would be so intense that her desire would be almost palpable.
Her partner would also be affected; her pheromones would drive him to remain with her exclusively and fighting for her if necessary.
Braxden had explained what would happen, in case he wanted to opt out. While he had no plans to leave, Loki didn’t look forward to not being in control of himself.
They stayed in the water for a while longer, then Loki helped to brush her hair and dry off. After she’d put on a fresh pajama top, he had her sit down and eat.
While they were in the bath, Lotus had brought more food, and had quickly changed the bedsheets. She also fed Lyssa’s plant, knowing that it was unlikely that Lyssa would remember to feed it in the coming days.
She managed to finish one tray of fruit that Lotus had brought for her, then drained a full glass of wine. By that time, she was nearly asleep in the chair.
Loki scooped her up and put her into bed, then drew the repaired bed curtains closed. He then returned to the table to finish eating.
The door chimed softly and he called it open, thinking that Lotus had forgotten something. He was surprised to see Braxden, who stepped in quietly and looked around. Loki motioned toward the bed and the other man nodded as he moved toward the table.
“Is something wrong?” Loki asked softly.
“Lotus has noticed something, and I thought it best to tell you,” Braxden replied, his own voice soft to avoid disturbing Lyssa.
“What is it?”
“Remember when I mentioned that at some point in Lyssa’s life, she would choose a permanent mate during a phase cycle?”
“Yes,” Loki replied, a bit uneasily.
“It’s not for certain yet, but Lotus has noticed that she seems more aggressive this time.”
“Hmmm.” Braxden paused, lost in thought.
“How would you know if she has bonded with a mate?”
While he waited for an answer, Loki felt himself becoming irritable. His fingers tapped lightly on the table top. He didn’t notice, but Braxden did and watched him.
“The cycle would be more intense than any other, and would last longer than it usually does,” Braxden replied. “Lotus thinks this is it.”
“I see.” Loki’s brow furrowed as he considered this.
“If she has chosen you, you need not keep her with you if you don’t feel the same,” Braxden continued quietly. “I would be willing to have her stay with me, where I know she’s safe.”
“And she wouldn’t be safe with me?”
“I’m only saying that you’re not obligated to stay with her, since you didn’t really have a choice in this,” Braxden told him as he stood. “I would have mentioned it sooner, but I didn’t think ahead and I knew that there was always a possibility -“
“I understand,” Loki replied. “Thank you for telling me.”
Braxden nodded, then both he and Loki froze when they heard movement from behind the bed curtains as Lyssa stirred, then became still again.
“Finish eating, then try to rest if you can,” Braxden commented. “She will become very demanding.”
After Braxden left, Loki stood by the door for a couple of minutes while thinking over the other man’s words. He hadn’t really signed up for a mate, although there were certain advantages to having one that could teleport. Loki smiled to himself while thinking about the havoc he could wreak, with Lyssa at his side.
He was sure that Tony Stark would also see Lyssa’s value to the Avengers, even though she might be more unpredictable than he himself was. If Lyssa had bonded with him, Loki realized that she would likely only follow his instructions and guidance, which was sure to put a bee in Stark’s, and Thor’s, bonnets.
That thought may him laugh softly as he finished the remainder of the food and wine. Yes, the possibilities were endless.
*** ~~~ ***
“Did you talk to him?”
Braxden was met by Lotus when he returned from Lyssa’s stateroom. He sidestepped her in order to allow the door to their own stateroom to close. She followed him to the table where their meal was waiting.
“Yes,” he replied, sitting down, then pulling her onto his lap.
“And?” She persisted.
“I’m quite certain that he wasn’t expecting a mate out of this,” he told her, while hugging her.
“True, but how did he take the news?”
“I told him that the likelihood was high that Lyssa had bonded with him.”
“He was taken aback for a few minutes. I explained that she didn’t have to stay with him, that she’d be perfectly safe on our ship if he chose not to keep her.”
Lotus’s eyes flared in surprise. “He would consider that?”
“I have no idea what he will do, but he will return to Earth before I take Lyssa to see my mother and Aldiir,” Braxden explained. “That will give him some time to consider it, once we know for sure.”
“You know that she won’t stay behind,” Lotus told him. “She really likes him.”
Braxden nodded slightly with a wry expression. They both knew that Lyssa would be able to teleport to Loki regardless of where she was, and would know where he was through the bond.
“It would be amusing to see him try to leave her,” Braxden chuckled.
*** ~~~ ***
Lyssa turned to her side to face Loki, who was sprawled out on his back. He didn’t move, so she carefully poked his cheek with a fingertip.
“HEY.” She propped up on an elbow and touched his cheek again.
When she prodded his face for the third time, he moved suddenly and rolled her beneath him, then pinned her hands to the bed. She shrieked at the speed of his maneuver, causing him to chuckle softly.
“You wanted something?” He asked.
“I thought that maybe I killed you,” she replied, arching her neck when he kissed her there.
“Really?” He murmured before nibbling at her earlobe. “I’m no mere mortal to expire so easily.”
She laughed breathlessly at that. “Agreed.”
Loki let her tug her hands free and she immediately ran her fingers through his hair before circling her arms around his neck. He noticed that she was much more lucid and that her eyes were clear.
“Is it over?” He asked.
The last six weeks had been an experience but he wasn’t sure whether he cared to repeat it. He was restless from being on the ship for so long and Thor likely was too. He actually looked forward to getting his feet on solid ground, even that of Midgard.
“I think so; I feel much better,” she responded, kissing his jaw. “And I’m hungry, very hungry.”
Loki stole a quick kiss before moving to let her up. He rolled to his back again while she leaned over him to get another kiss. Loki grunted when the collar that she still wore hit his chin.
“I suppose I can remove that now,” he told her while reaching for it.
Her hand on his wrist stopped him. “No, I like it. Can I keep it?”
“If you want,” he replied. “The spells are no longer necessary, though.”
Lyssa nodded and let him touch it in order to reverse the spell. She instantly felt the difference and smiled at him.
“You’re welcome.” Loki closed his eyes for a moment while she twisted a strand of his hair around her finger. “Tell me something.”
“Okay,” Lyssa replied as she began to make a small braid in the dark lock.
“How far can you teleport?”
“A long ways. I ‘ported from my master’s ship to Terran, and he was well beyond their solar system to avoid any chance of the mortals detecting him.”
“Could you take someone with you?”
“I suppose. I’ve never tried it for such a long distance,” she said, her brow furrowing in speculation. “Did you have someone in mind?”
Lyssa looked at him in surprise, then shook her head. “I wouldn't trust myself to do that. If I fail, I could kill you.”
She watched while he appeared to consider her words. His hand idly rubbed her back, so she returned the favor by running her fingertips across his collarbone.
“That’s something to consider, but could you do it with training and practice?”
“Perhaps,” she responded. “But I really wouldn’t want to hurt you.”
Loki smiled at her then and tugged gently at her hair in an effort to reassure her.
“It’s just a thought,” he told her. “However, I would rather that you not mention it, or that I’ve removed the spells, to anyone. Our secret, hmm?”
“Sure,” she agreed while finishing a second braid. “Now, I’d like a bath, then food, or maybe food, bath, and then more food.”
She grinned when he laughed at that, then let him sit up. Loki moved to the edge of the bed and paused when Lyssa touched his back, where she had left scratches. She then hugged him from behind, with her cheek pressed to his.
While they were in the bath, Lotus brought food to them and once again changed the bedding before feeding the plant. She was gone when they emerged from the bathroom, not wanting to take a chance of encountering Lyssa.
Lyssa had been particularly aggressive this time around, and Lotus had to be very careful and alert when she brought food to the couple. Loki would wait for her at the door, guarding against an attack; she would push the cart just inside so that Loki could move it after she had left.
One time they weren’t quick enough and Lyssa had almost gotten ahold of the woman. Lotus had quickly retreated, leaving Loki with a fight on his hands.
“Oh, good, she brought my favorites,” Lyssa sighed as she sat down. She reached for the container of wine, then paused. “Do you have whiskey with you?”
Loki shook his head at her hopeful tone. He wanted to laugh at her crushed expression but he did pour her a half a glass of wine. He wasn’t sure if she was supposed to have even that bit of alcohol and didn’t want to take any chances.
Loki did wish for something more substantial, even though Lyssa couldn’t have it. He decided that he would ask Lotus or Braxden about it.
The door chimed at that point, causing Loki to look at Lyssa briefly. She nodded before calling for the visitor to come in. When the doors opened, she was surprised by who stepped in.
“Hello, Lyssa, Brother,” Thor said with a wink at her.
“I- have you been here the whole time?” She asked, eyebrows furrowed.
“Yes, Loki and I were with Braxden when he retrieved you from his brother,” Thor replied, sitting when she motioned him over to the table. “I don’t think you were in any shape to notice us.”
“Snake!” Lyssa snarled at the mention of Aldiir. “I really don’t like him.”
“So we’ve gathered,” Thor chuckled.
Lyssa passed him a plate, then the food so that he could join them for breakfast. Thor made a face when he tasted the wine that Loki had poured for him before he took a small flask out of his belt. Lyssa watched while he put a few drops in the glass, and then watched Loki do the same.
“Hey, what’s that?” She asked.
“Mead,” Thor replied. “From Asgard.”
She slowly held her glass out to him, but Loki reached over to place his hand on top of it. Her shoulders dropped in disappointment while Thor quickly put the flask away. He felt as if he had shown candy to a child, then ate it without sharing.
“Maybe another time,” Thor told her, trying to coax a smile back to her face. He glanced at Loki, who seemed to be considering something.
“One drop,” Loki finally said.
Lyssa smiled brightly as she sat up and quickly held her glass out again. Thor diligently dispensed just one drop into it, then he and Loki watched as she took a sip. She coughed as the alcohol seared its way down her throat, then quickly drank the rest of it in case Loki decided to take it away.
The brothers couldn’t help but chuckle at her expression while she held onto the edge of the table. She tried to say something, but nothing came out.
“That’s much better than the whiskey,” she gasped before holding her glass out. “More?”
“No, that’s enough,” Loki told her.
She huffed but didn’t ask again. Loki poured more wine for her while she pouted.
“Braxden tells me we’re about a day away from being in range of Midgard,” Thor then told Loki as they returned their attention to breakfast. “He will escort us himself to avoid detection.”
“Yes, we must avoid that lest the mortals find out there is life beyond their realm,” Loki replied, sarcastically.
Thor raised his eyebrows at Loki’s tone, but before he could say anything, Lyssa interrupted them.
“Can’t you stay here?” She asked, her voice tiny with dread.
“No,” Loki replied. “I have a debt to pay.”
Lyssa studied her hands thoughtfully for a moment. “I could pay it. I have gold. Humans like gold.”
“No, little one,” Loki said softly. “It’s not that kind of debt.”
He could tell that she didn’t understand, but didn’t want to explain just yet. Thor kept his gaze on his plate and said nothing.
“What would it take?” She asked then. “I could -“
“I have to go back and you , my dear, have to go with Braxden to settle with Aldiir.” Loki smiled gently at her, which surprised Thor for a moment.
Thor hadn’t seen a genuine smile from Loki since he’d been banished to Midgard. It made him wonder if more had happened between the pair than he’d been told.
Once again she made a face at the mention of Aldiir before eating a few bites. After a couple of minutes, she looked up at both of them.
“I should kill him,” she commented, more to herself than to them.
Thor was a bit stunned by that as he’d thought she was quite gentle, but Loki didn’t seem to be surprised. He studied her for a couple of minutes before speaking.
“Why would you want to?” Loki asked.
“Because he’ll do it again, regardless of what happens with Aida,” she said. “He’s not afraid of her or of any consequences because there have been none.”
“I think, little one, that he won’t soon forget that you’ve already come close to killing him,” Loki told her.
“I would have done it too, if it weren’t for your spell,” she replied, arching an eyebrow at him.
“Then it’s a good thing that it remained intact, hmmm?” He asked, giving her a meaningful look.
“I suppose,” she grouched, then raised her voice more than necessary in response to the chime on her door. “Come!”
When the door slid open, Braxden stepped in after looking around cautiously. He then approached the table.
“How do you feel, pet?”
“Much better,” she replied with a smile.
“I see that your appetite has returned.”
She grinned at him while she continued to eat. Braxden declined the empty chair when she motioned him toward it.
“I’ve come to tell you that we’ve made better time than I anticipated, and are close enough now that I can return you to your friends,” he told the brothers.
Lyssa stopped eating abruptly, unaware that Braxden watched her. She took a deep breath, clearly affected by the news.
“Could I go with you to take them back?” she asked, wanting to prolong the inevitable.
“It would be best if you stayed here. You need to recover your strength, and the king of Asgard would not take it lightly if we were to lose one of his sons.”
Braxden observed while she processed the realization that Loki would soon leave the ship and that they would be separated for several weeks, if not months. He didn’t like seeing her upset, but her reaction to this only bolstered his suspicion that Lyssa had bonded with the Asgardian.
If she had, Braxden knew that she would teleport to Loki as soon as she possibly could once Aldiir had been dealt with. He still wasn’t sure if Loki would keep her with him, but if he were to send her back, she would be devastated.
“Whenever you’re ready,” Braxden finally said. “Pet, would you like to escort them to the transporter?”
Lyssa’s eyes met Loki’s and he could see the barest shimmer of tears before she spoke.
“Are you sure you can’t stay?”
“Yes.” Loki’s voice was soft with regret.
She sniffled and nodded her head shakily. “I will bring them when they’re ready.”
Once the Asgardians had finished eating, Lyssa reluctantly guided them to where Braxden waited. She kept her hand on Loki’s arm and tried not to burst into tears as they drew closer to the end of his stay there. Loki felt the trembling of her hand before he put his on top of hers, and she occasionally swiped at her face while he pretended not to notice.
Thor walked just behind them, observing the pair. He was still of the mind that there was more to the situation between them, something that he had missed. Although the phase hadn’t lasted any longer than usual, per Braxden, Thor knew that it had been more intense than any previous ones.
Braxden had kept him up to date, so that he could update Tony through Jarvis. In turn, Tony had advised him that SHIELD was very nervous that Loki was out of reach, and they also were antsy that Loki’s new friend had powers that they couldn’t control. Tony had reminded them that Loki didn’t answer to anyone but Thor, and that Odin himself had given him sole authority over his brother.
SHIELD wanted Loki back on Earth, and they were also seriously considering taking custody of Lyssa and getting her as far away from him as they possibly could. If they were able to succeed in separating them, they could then try different methods to block her powers.
It concerned Thor greatly that Lyssa apparently had been deemed a threat before anyone other than Fury had spoken to her. He was also concerned that if Loki had come to care for her, she might be used against him as leverage. If this was the case, Loki would not react well to that at all.
Lyssa’s voice brought him out of his musing when they reached the transporter. Braxden waited patiently, but watched her and Loki. Thor smiled at her when she stepped closer to him. She then surprised him by putting her arms around his waist and hugging him. He hugged her back, then let go so that she could step back.
She then turned to Loki to do the same with him, except she held onto him longer.
“You behave,” Loki told her.
“That is unlikely,” she replied, smiling when Braxden chuckled softly at that.
Lyssa moved away from them to watch while they were transported back to Earth. She gave Loki a little wave before they disappeared, and fought hard not to follow.
When Braxden returned, she was still there, not wanting to leave. He held his arms out to her and she buried herself against him.
“It’s alright, pet,” he soothed, stroking her head as she sobbed. “It won’t be that long until you will see him again. His friends said to tell you hello.”
“Yes, Bucky and Peter especially said hello.”
She cried harder at the mention of Peter’s name. Braxden held her until her tears were spent, then gently wiped them away when she looked up at him. There was now no doubt in his mind that she’d bonded with Loki.
“Come on, my dear,” he said, drawing her arm through his. “You should rest now. You know you will need your strength before we get home.”
When they approached her stateroom, Lotus was waiting in the hallway. She seemed excited about something, but shook her head at Braxden’s questioning look. Lyssa wasn’t paying much attention and only looked at the other woman when Braxden came to a halt.
“Lotus, I-“ Lyssa started to apologize for trying to attack her twice but the woman gave her a quick hug.
“No apologies are necessary, my dear,” Lotus replied, with a smile. “You let me know if you need anything.”
Once the doors closed behind Lyssa, Lotus grabbed Braxden’s arm as she waited. They could just make out an excited scream, and then the door opened again.
“She came back!” Lyssa exclaimed. “Look!”
She held a blue-gray cat and hugged it while scratching its chin. The cat rubbed its face against hers while purring loudly.
“Hello, Izzy,” Braxden said, reaching over to scratch its ears. “What have you been up to?”
Izzy batted his hand with a paw before returning her attention back to Lyssa.
“You two catch up, and I want you to rest,” Braxden told Lyssa. “Make sure to see if she’s hungry, and also check on your plant.”
“Yes, master,” Lyssa nodded before stepping back to allow the doors to close again.
Braxden sighed as he put his arm around Lotus’s shoulders and hugged her to his side while they returned to the bridge. Lotus said nothing while she waited on him.
“So, my dear, it is very likely that we will be losing her soon,” he said quietly.
“Provided that he doesn’t send her back,” she retorted.
“Oh, I doubt very seriously that he will do that.”
— — — —
Tony and Steve met them almost the instant that Thor and Loki’s feet touched on the landing pad. Tony was frazzled by the constant demands from SHIELD to know when Loki would return, despite Tony’s numerous assurances that he would be back soon.
He’d finally told the Secretary that if he wanted Loki so badly, he could just go retrieve him himself. And unless he was willing to attack an alien ship with unknown capabilities, he’d just have to wait until Thor returned with his brother in tow. Besides, where would he even get a spaceship that was capable of chasing after Loki?
Loki was unimpressed by the blustering Secretary, since the man hadn’t once met him face to face; he’d always conducted any contact by video chat. Loki had the opinion that the man held himself in high regard, and thought he could order everyone around.
Well, Loki thought, just let him try to order me around.
When Loki walked away from the three others, who remained clustered together, Peter intercepted him before he could retreat to his suite.
“She didn’t come back with you?” The boy asked in disappointment.
“No, she and Braxden have something to attend to before she can visit again,” Loki replied.
“Is she okay? She wasn’t hurt, was she?” Peter had been told that Lyssa was kidnapped but not much more than that.
“No, she’s fine,” Loki assured him.
“I’ll miss her,” Peter said quietly.
“I’ll miss the squirt, too,” Tony said, as he came in from the landing pad. “Although the grocery bill will be much smaller.”
Loki excused himself and went to his suite. He was tired and wanted nothing more than to have some time to himself before he had to deal with any demands for debriefing from anyone. Thor could handle most of it, since anything that Loki said would be met with suspicion. Besides, he was quite sure that no one really wanted to know what he’d been doing for the last six weeks.
— — — —
By the time Braxden’s ship reached Rohiane, Lyssa was well rested. She would now be able to teleport if she wanted, but she had to wait until Aldiir had been dealt with. Besides, it had been some time since she’d seen Aida, and she looked forward to the visit.
She also hadn’t forgotten that Loki had asked her not to tell anyone that he’d removed the spells from her collar. He had a reason for asking that, she was sure, so she would honor his wishes.
Once she, Lotus and Braxden had reached Aida’s house, they were shown to their usual quarters. Lyssa had taken a quick bath and now paced the length of her large room while Izzy watched from her spot on the bed. The Flerken had settled back in easily and showed no sign of leaving anytime soon.
“I’m glad you’re back,” Lyssa told her, stopping long enough to scratch Izzy’s head. “I missed you terribly.”
Soon enough, Braxden knocked on her door so that he could escort her and Lotus to dinner. Lyssa wasn’t looking forward to facing Aldiir, and Braxden noticed that her pace had slowed somewhat.
“He won’t be there when we eat,” he told her. “Believe it or not, Mother has placed him under house arrest.”
“What?” Lotus gave a surprised laugh.
“Yes, his ship is docked indefinitely and he’s confined to quarters.”
“That is unusual for her,” Lotus commented.
When they reached the dining hall, Aida was already there waiting on them. Lyssa ran toward the woman and hugged her eagerly. Aida returned it, then smoothed Lyssa’s hair before she gently pinched her cheek.
“Hello, my darling,” Aida said, smiling. “You’re looking well.”
“Thanks,” Lyssa smiled back. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you, too,” Aida responded. “That’s a pretty necklace you have.”
“My new friend gave it to me.”
Braxden glanced over, concerned that he just now realized that Loki’s collar was still around Lyssa’s neck, along with the spells. He should have insisted that they were removed, but with the events of the last few weeks, it had slipped his mind. When he saw Loki again, he would have him take it off so that Lyssa wasn’t left defenseless.
“Yes, Braxden has told me that you’ve met the princes of Asgard. Come, tell me about them.”
Lyssa allowed the woman to lead her toward the table, while she told her about Thor and Loki, and the mortals she’d met. Braxden, Lotus and Aida listened intently when she told them about Director Fury, who had been scratched by a Flerken.
Then she told them about the movies that she and Peter had watched, and said that she wasn’t entirely convinced that they weren’t historical documents. Braxden shook his head at that, telling her that mortals were good at creating entertainment but their depictions of science fiction was just that: fiction.
“Oh,” Lyssa said, somewhat disappointed.
Before she could dwell on that, dinner was served. While they ate, Aida and Braxden were careful to keep the conversation from drifting to the subject of Aldiir. Braxden told his mother about his latest trip, which was a profitable trade run. She was pleased with the news, seeing as Aldiir had wasted weeks during his own run by trailing Braxden just to kidnap Lyssa again.
After dinner, they all moved to the sitting room, where Aida then asked Lyssa to tell her what had happened with Aldiir. Lyssa reluctantly relived the week where she’d been kept in the cell and allowed to suffer.
“If I’d been stronger, I might have destroyed his ship,” Lyssa admitted.
“I know, dear, but I’m glad you didn’t,” Aida told her softly. “There were others aboard who wouldn’t have deserved that.”
Lyssa nodded as she anxiously twisted her fingers. “I wanted to hurt him badly. He took me from Loki, which he had no right to do.”
“You’re absolutely right, and he will be disciplined accordingly,” Aida replied. “You wouldn’t know this, but his crew actually mutinied and locked him in his cabin before bringing him here. They were very upset with how you were treated, especially the women.”
Lyssa swiped at the tears that were brimming her eyes. She was relieved that Aldiir was facing some consequences, but wondered whether he’d learned his lesson and leave her alone now. Once she was with Loki again, she was certain that Aldiir wouldn’t want to tangle with him.
“So, he’s no longer captain of my ship, and will be grounded here until I deem that he’d learned his lesson. Maya has been promoted to captain, but she has to prove herself to keep the job.”
Lyssa nodded at that as she reached over to squeeze Aida’s hand in gratitude. She was very glad that she wouldn’t have to face Aldiir; now she could go back to Loki.
Braxden could almost read her mind when she turned toward him.
“The ship has to be unloaded, pet,” he forestalled her question. “And we can't leave when we’ve just arrived.”
— — — —
“When is she coming back?”
“I’ve told you already that I don’t have the answer to that.”
Loki glared at the digital image of the Secretary, who had initiated a video call with him. The man just wouldn’t let up, and Loki decided that it was best that this wasn’t a face to face meeting, because things could volatile very quickly. He already wanted to smash the blustering fool to a pulp.
“But she is coming back?”
Loki sat straight up in his chair before leaning toward the image. “As I’ve said, it’s uncertain.”
The two men glared at each other for several minutes before the Secretary shifted slightly. He wasn’t aware that he’d just lost the stare down.
“You will inform me the minute she steps foot on this planet.”
“You forget that I do not answer to you.” Although Loki resented being under Thor’s authority, he appreciated the fact that he wasn’t obligated to any of these mortals, other than Stark or occasionally Captain Rogers, and then only when they were on a mission.
With that, Loki got up and left the conference room. Tony, Thor and Steve remained seated and looked at each other uneasily. They each hoped that Lyssa didn’t return so that SHIELD wouldn’t attempt to get control of her. None of them were sure what would happen if she needed to defend herself, but if Loki were to stand with her, it would be disastrous.
“I don’t like this at all,” Tony said softly, when the video call ended.
Thor nodded in agreement but said nothing. He remembered that Loki had said he would remove the spells on the collar if SHIELD tried to take her. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
Thank you for reading this far. I’m going to end this here for now. I appreciate the kudos and comments more than you know.
Please check back for new works. Now i’m going to look at one that’s on hiatus and see what becomes of it. 😊❤️
The next several weeks passed with SHIELD constantly checking with Tony and Loki to see if Lyssa had returned or if they’d heard from her. Tony was beside himself with frustration at the interference but he had learned that Director Fury wasn’t behind the interest in her. It came from higher up.
Loki kept his feelings to himself but he also was becoming very annoyed with the constant interruption of his days by having to report on Lyssa. He seethed during each conference call, and once it was over, it took some time for him to calm down.
Thor noticed all this and knew that a storm was brewing; if Loki was pushed too hard, SHIELD would regret it. Not to mention the fact that Odin was also likely to take notice if Loki were to lose control and wreak more havoc on Midgard, whether his son felt justified or not.
Peter had visited several times after Lyssa left, and each time was disappointed that she wasn’t back yet. He was the only one who seemed certain that she would return, and he had new movies to share with her.
— — —
When Lyssa did finally return to the Tower, she found it empty. The team had been called to DC to discuss a potential target and Peter was still at the home he shared with his aunt.
Izzy accompanied her and immediately took to exploring the entire floor. When Lyssa followed to see where she’d ended up, she found that the Flerken had made herself at home in the center of Loki’s bed.
“That’s my spot, m’dear,” Lyssa told her. “And I’m not sure how Loki will feel about your making yourself at home in his quarters.”
Lyssa sat down on the bed while she found where Loki was through her bond with him. Before she could decide whether to teleport the short distance to him, however, Tony’s voice came over the speakers through Jarvis.
“Hey?” Lyssa looked around for him.
“We will be home tomorrow. Loki wants me to tell you to stay put until then. Don’t answer the door or the phone…”
“What?” She asked, confused.
“It’s an old joke, nevermind,” he told her with a sigh. “There’s food in the fridge if you get hungry...correction, when you get hungry. It’s not much but it will do until tomorrow.”
“Can I talk to Loki?”
“He’s in a meeting at the moment, but Jarvis will put him through when he’s free. He said to stay put.”
“Okay,” she agreed.
“Behave.” With that, Tony signed off.
Lyssa sat on Loki’s bed for a few minutes before deciding to head back to the kitchen to see what she could find to eat. Izzy stayed where she was, content to take a nap on the large bed.
“Don’t scratch any of his things up,” Lyssa told the Flerken before leaving the room.
It was strange to be the only one present on such a large floor, and Lyssa wished that Peter was there to work the TV. After grabbing several cups of yogurt and a spoon, Lyssa made herself comfortable on the sofa and studiously looked at the remote. She finally tossed it aside after deciding that she couldn’t work it.
“Do you require help with the television?”
“Hey, who’s that?” The man’s voice startled her somewhat, causing her to look around cautiously.
“My name is Jarvis, and I’m Mr. Stark’s assistant.”
Lyssa still didn’t see who could be speaking. “Oh! You’re a computer, yes?”
“In a way,” Jarvis replied. “Did you want to watch something?”
“I wish Peter was here,” Lyssa commented while opening a yogurt.
“He’ll be visiting again soon,” Jarvis responded. “I understand that he has new movies that he thinks you might like.”
“Oh, good!” Lyssa said, eagerly. “What can I watch now?”
Jarvis turned the television on for her and changed channels until she found something that interested her.
— — —
While the team prepared to head home the next morning, Jarvis contacted Tony, who could have sworn that the AI sounded somewhat amused.
“Sir, in your absence, the Secretary thought to secure your guest…”
“Yes, sir,” Jarvis replied. “There has been a slight scuffle in the living quarters.”
Tony turned to the others, who were about to board the quinjet. He wasn’t sure what had happened at the Tower, but he could get there faster than the jet.
“We may have a situation at home,” he told the rest of them. “Take off as soon as you can. I’ll meet you there.”
Tony took off, with Thor right behind him, leaving Steve, Bucky and Loki with the jet.
“Jarvis, what’s going on at the Tower,” Steve asked while getting the jet in the air.
“Everything is under control, Captain.”
Steve glanced at Loki, who wasn’t calm by any stretch of the imagination.
— — —
When Tony and Thor landed on the promenade, they weren’t sure what they would find. Once they approached the entrance to the living quarters, they found evidence of an altercation, with some furniture out of place and some broken glass.
Tony deactivated his suit after determining that the immediate danger was over. They both struggled not to laugh at the sight in the living room, where Lyssa sat on the couch.
She wore Bucky’s tee shirt and boxers that he’d given her previously, and had a blanket across her lap, along with a large bowl of grapes. They also took note of the blue-gray cat beside her.
Occasionally she’d chuck a grape at the head of one of the six SHIELD agents that sat in a group on the floor. They were where she could watch them without missing any of her TV show.
“Whatcha doing, Squirt?” Tony asked, after clearing his throat.
“Oh, hey,” she replied, sparing them a quick glance. “Watching the television.”
“I can see that,” he said. “What else are you doing?”
Thor rubbed his beard in order to hide his smile when she held out the grapes to share with them. Tony declined with a shake of his head.
“Oh, and these guys came in and wrecked the place,” she told them. “But I didn’t answer the door or the phone.”
“Good girl.” Tony did laugh then.
“Sir, Captain Rogers advises that the elevator is out of order.”
“Can’t you fix it?” Tony asked, surprised.
“No, sir, the young lady has it and all stairwell doors jammed.”
“Oh!” Lyssa exclaimed. “I’d forgotten. My bad.”
With that, she released her telekinetic hold on the elevator and within a few minutes, the door opened to let the others out, along with Nick Fury, who had got onto the jet at the last minute after learning what had happened.
“Hey, Cutie,” Lyssa said, grinning at Bucky.
“Hey, Doll,” he replied, after looking around the room quickly. “Is this all of them?”
“Yep,” she nodded. “Hi, Director. This is Izzy.”
Lyssa gave him a meaningful look, so Fury walked closer to the sofa to get a good look at the Flerken. “Hello, Izzy.”
Izzy blinked at him then got up with a meow and stretched before jumping down to wander over to the SHIELD agents. She meowed again while batting one of the men on the knee.
“What’s she doing?” Loki asked.
“She’s hungry and wants to know if she can eat one of them,” Lyssa said. “She said that he looks particularly tasty.”
Tony, Thor and Steve then realized why the agents weren’t moving: Lyssa held them in place, plus they were terrified of Izzy. A chorus of protests erupted from them until Loki finally snapped.
“Let them talk,” Fury said with a chuckle while sitting beside Lyssa. “I have to disagree, though, Izzy. What about the one on the end there?”
Izzy moved to the agent in question, then sniffed him over before going back to her first choice. This time she put her paws on his leg so that she could raise herself to eye level.
“Nah, she didn’t like him.” Lyssa chucked another grape. “How about that one?”
“Ya know, the paperwork required to report the demise of an agent by Flerken is extremely tedious,” Fury finally commented. “Why don’t we let this lot go for now? I’m sure that Izzy can find them if needed, and if they come back here, she can eat them all.”
Izzy gave a soft chirp then jumped up in his lap, purring under his careful hand. The agents watched in horrified fascination while Lyssa got up to go to Loki. He looked her over critically to assure himself that she hadn’t been injured while she stood in front of him.
“Hey,” he responded. “Excuse us. Lyssa needs to get dressed.”
Loki took her by the wrist in order to lead her to his suite, away from the others. Once there, he looked her over again.
“I didn’t mean to disobey,” she murmured, referring to her use of telekinesis.
Loki shook his head slightly. “I never meant that you couldn’t defend yourself.”
Lyssa smiled in relief, then reached out to run her hand along his forearm.
“I missed you,” she whispered, this time running both hands up his arms.
He was still for just a moment before catching her up against him. Lyssa’s hands cupped his cheeks when he pressed his forehead against her.
“Are you staying?” He asked.
“Do you want me to?” She countered, rubbing her nose against his.
Loki didn’t reply right away, which concerned her. She could tell that a myriad of thoughts were running through his mind.
“I can place nice with the humans; Izzy didn’t really want to eat any of them.”
“We will have to convince Director Fury’s superiors that you’re not a threat to this realm,” he told her. “That may mean that you’ll have to meet them face to face.”
She nodded then kissed the corner of his mouth before nibbling gently at his lower lip. Loki caught his breath and his arms tightened around her.
“I will do whatever you wish, except leave. Did I mention that I missed you?”
Loki set her down, much to her disappointment. He relented just enough to kiss her very briefly, and ignored her pout. He didn’t want her to leave and had missed her mischievousness while she was gone.
Of course, he was resolved not to show too much attachment to her so that it was less likely that she could be used to control him. There was also the option of having her teleport them both somewhere out of reach, if he decided that SHIELD wasn’t holding up their end of the bargain.
“Get dressed,” he told her. “We have a number of unwanted guests to deal with.”
“Okay.” The pout still lingered on her lips, forcing him to maintain control because he wanted badly to kiss her, before and after he’d tossed her onto the bed.
Lyssa reluctantly retrieved the bag that held a few articles of clothing. Loki made a note that they would have to get more for her, since it appeared that she hadn’t brought much with her.
“Are you sure you want me to put clothes on?” She asked mischievously.
“There will be time enough for that, later,” he replied, his eyes full of promise.
When they returned to the living room, no one had moved, except for Izzy, who had curled up in Fury’s lap for another nap.
“What about my prisoners?” She asked, referring to the SHIELD agents.
“Oh, I believe we can let them go now,” Fury replied. “They’ll need to make their report on how they failed their mission.”
She glanced at Loki, who nodded in agreement, so she released her hold on the men. They slowly got up, with a couple of them wincing in pain. Lyssa watched them, on guard against any sudden moves.
She could immobilize them quickly, but Izzy would be faster and Lyssa wanted to avoid her feasting on one of the mortals. It was a messy affair and she didn’t want to have to clean up any gore.
“Leave those,” Bucky said suddenly, when the agents started for the pile of weapons that Lyssa had taken from them. “The Director can bring them back to you.”
He and Steve escorted the men onto the elevator in order to insure that they left the Tower entirely. When they were gone, Tony turned to Lyssa.
“You did well, Squirt,” he smiled at her. “Are you sticking around?”
“Loki hasn’t said yet whether he wants me to stay,” she replied softly while looking at her prince.
Loki ignored the pointed look that his brother gave him and drew Lyssa close. Her arms slipped around his waist tightly while she laid her head on his chest.
The word was so soft that only she could hear him and he felt when she smiled with a contented sigh.