This story will contain elements that might be triggering for some. Please take care when reading and be careful.
On one side of the room Tony was speaking in a desperate voice. Since there was no one answering he was likely on the phone. In one corner Clint and Natasha were having a muted argument about something. On the other side of the room Steve was throwing a ball at the wall, muttering to himself. All in all, it was not really an environment suited for meditation and remaining calm. Sitting on the sofa with his legs crossed Bruce tried to let all the clashing sounds just wash over him. Despite the small chaos he was in the common floor on purpose. His goal was to be able to remain collected, if not calm, even when things were tense. So far he had been able to avoid a Code Green even when the team grated on his nerves.
A slammed door made him open his eyes, seeing Clint standing on his own, a hand in his hair. There were dark circles under his eyes and his shoulders were tense. He had been on his way of recovery when Shield came crashing down. Only a skeleton was left of the organisation, mostly focused on aiding the Avengers and provide them with medical care or cleaning up after battle. After Hydra the archer's recovery had screeched to a halt. Especially since the sceptre had gone missing. Nightmares plagued him and he got into arguments about just anything because he couldn't relax.
"I'm going to the lab", Tony announced, looking pale. He wasn't doing well either. The reactor was gone from his chest, no more shrapnel. After having sacrificed all his suits and placed himself in the hands of surgeons he had hoped it would mend his relationship to Pepper. Instead the two were constantly fighting. Breaking up and getting back together because they couldn't agree on how the engineer was going to live his life. Bruce could see that his friend still loved the strawberry blonde woman but their relationship was turning toxic.
A small "pop" made them jump and Steve gave an apologetic shrug, showing them the busted ball. Out of all of then the Captain seemed to keep it together the most. But they all knew he had come face to face with his best friend from before the ice. Someone he had believed dead. Combined with the stress of trying to live in a different century he was clearly anxious about things.
"I should go for a jog..." the blonde said.
"Don't forget your phone, Cap", Tony called.
"Yeah yeah, I hear you."
That left Clint and Bruce. Shifting uncomfortably the archer muttered about apologising to Natasha before leaving as well. Sighing the scientist got to his feet. It was not much but he could at least get started on dinner.
"Jarvis, do you know if we have some beef and coriander?"
"I'm afraid not, Doctor Banner. Would you like me to order some for you?"
"No... there is no need. I can go to the grocery store."
"The credit card issued for you is in the kitchen drawer, Doctor Banner. I will prepare car for you."
Said and done. He found a credit card issued for each one of them and picked up his own. Thankfully the car Jarvis had chosen for him was fairly non-descript in a sleek silver. He drove to a nearby Wal-Mart and got a cart. Before leaving he had taken some stock on the kitchen. It had been woefully empty. Not surprising since most nights they ordered take-out. Getting to work he picked up flour, some dry yeast, sugar, cereals, several jams and a good selection of spices. He didn't bother with things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Those he knew Jarvis kept track of and ordered as needed. Then he bought several packages of frozen fruits and berries. Fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. And of course, meat. Chicken, beef, pork. He intended to put most of it in the freezer. Five people could go through a lot of food in a short amount of time.
Finally he had filled up the whole cart and took it to the checkout. The poor cashier gave him such a long-suffering look that he almost felt bad. But he paid and started to pack the groceries into the cart again when the young man spoke up.
"Bruce Banner? The Bruce Banner?" Apparently he had noted the name on the receipt.
"Um... yeah... that's me..."
"... we are not going to have an incident, right?"
"No, the Hulk won't come out. No worries", giving the youth an awkward smile he hurried out of the shop. The fear was all to familiar. Back in the Tower he started unloading the car when Steve showed up.
"Jarvis told me you could use some help with the bags", he said. "Looks like he was right."
"If you don't mind..."
"Not at all, this is food for all of us after all."
Together they got the groceries up to the right floor and started to put everything away. Leaving out the beef Bruce started to prepare for dinner.
"Anything I can do to help?" the super soldier asked.
"Maybe you can wash the rice? Just with water!"
"Sure, I get right to it." They worked side by side for a while. Then Clint and Natasha joined them. Clearly they had made up for now. Seeing that dinner was underway they started laying the table. The red-head mixed some lemon water in a pitcher.
"Steve, can you go get Stark?" she asked.
Bruce pulled out the roast from the oven. It smelled wonderful.
He hesitated outside the workshop, he always felt uncomfortable entering this space. This was Tony's heart in more ways than one. Still, dinner was almost ready and Steve wasn't about to let Bruce's hard work to be in vain. Knocking on the glass door he waited until it opened. The engineer was surrounded by holographic screens, all with different designs. Including schematics for a new Iron Man suit. If he was honest the soldier was pissed off at miss Potts who made the genius feel so insecure and unhappy. Sometimes he fantasized about grabbing Tony and claiming him for his own.
He didn't do it, of course. Same-sex relationships might not be illegal anymore but they were far from commonly accepted. Besides, there was no guarantee that the engineer was bisexual.
"Hey", the brunette said and waved the screens away. "What's up?"
"Bruce made dinner."
"I'm not really hungry..." another thing caused by his stressful relationship with Pepper. "But I guess I shouldn't waste my science bro's efforts. Come on then." At least he wasn't drinking this time. Steve had carried him to bed more than once after he drank himself into a stupor. The food was great and they actually managed to have a good time. It didn't last.
"Clint, that's your fourth shot of vodka", Nat chided.
"So what? Do I look like I fucking care? Leave me alone!" The archer was becoming aggressive as he got drunker. To avoid further conflict Steve and Tony wrestled him to bed before both went to their own rooms. And to the sleepless night ahead.
They stumbled in after yet another mindless battle. Ever since the invasion super villains had started to pop-up and try to out-do one another. Tony tried to squash the guilt bubbling in his stomach. Pepper hated that he was still Iron Man but what could he do? The world needed him. Without Thor he was their only aerial combatant. Going to the bar he immediately poured himself a drink and downed it. Lately he had been turning to alcohol more often than he probably should have.
He wasn't the only one. With the exception of Bruce the whole team downed a drink. Even Steve, who wasn't affected by it. Surprisingly, it wasn't a fear of the Jolly Green that kept his friend from drinking. One evening the subdued scientist had told the engineer about his drunkard of a father who had murdered his mother. Yeah, that would turn someone from drinking. Banner was in more control than people gave him credit for. Sometimes he struggled to turn back but he rarely lost control and transformed into his alter ego.
Most of them struggled with nightmares and different forms of PTSD. Any sane person would have them meet with a shrink but none of them were willing to go to one. Their lives were too complicated.
Everything changed a few days later. They had just finished lunch. Bruce seemed determined to do something useful for the team so he often cooked when he didn't join Tony in the workshop. Just as they were filling the dishwasher the whole tower shook violently. One vase actually fell to the floor. Out on the plattform a multi-coloured, brilliant light in form of a pillar was visible. When it faded they saw two people outside. Shrugging they went over to see what was going on.
Standing in his usual armour and billowing cape were Thor. His blonde hair was longer and his arms looked even beefier. Behind him stood...
"Why did you bring Loki?" Tony demanded and noticed that the dark god flinched.
"It is his punishment. Father decided he is going to assist you in protecting this Realm as restitution for his past actions", the Thunderer proclaimed.
"Um... and how can we be sure he won't go turn on us?"
"Father has seen to that, he has placed an enchantment on Loki. He has to follow my orders."
What the actual fuck?
"Any order you give?"
"Aye, I can show you if you want."
"Not... right now. And if you give an order that we don't... agree... with?"
"Easy, you just place a hand on my brother and say 'Loki, stop' and all orders I've given will be nulled."
Seriously?! Looking at his fellow humans the engineer saw that they were also clearly uncomfortable with this. Including Clint who hated the Trickster. Why would Thor's dad create an obedience spell that could be broken by mortals? They couldn't give Loki orders but they could stop any order he had been given? Tony turned on his heels. He couldn't handle this.
It was uncomfortable watching the big Asgardian basically drag his brother inside. Loki allowed himself to be dragged meekly and when order to sit on the sofa he obeyed without a word. Shifting Bruce decided to at least greet the god of mischief since apparently they would spend time together.
"Hi there, we haven't actually talked before. I'm Bruce Banner", he said and sat down on the other sofa, figuring some space might be good. Nodding the raven glanced at his brother who didn't seem to notice. "I know we didn't met under the best circumstances but I believe in moving forward."
"What do you like to do in your free time? Play a game? Read? Oh, magic right!"
Still no reply but again Loki looked at Thor and there seemed to be something pleading in his eyes. Tony came over and placed a drink in front of the god who gave him a curious look. The engineer shrugged.
"I remembered I owe you one."
Picking up the glass the raven made a move as to drink but then his brows furrowed. Unhappily he put the drink down. Again looking at his brother.
"Um... Thor", Banner called. "Did you give Loki an order before coming here?"
"I did, friend Banner."
"What was it?"
"I told him to keep his mouth shut until I told him otherwise. He was most vicious." All of them stared at his friend who seemed unconcerned about his actions. Tony frowned and placed a hand on Loki's should, murmuring to softly for Thor to hear.
"Loki, stop." Tension melted from the Trickster's body. He opened his mouth, exhaling softly, picked up his drink and drank greedily. When his spoke his voice was hoarse.
"If it wouldn't be too much of a bother, could I have some water, please", the tone was pleasant and polite. Refined despite the state if his throat. Completely different from previous.
"No problem, Reindeer Games. A glass of water coming up", Tony passed Thor and patted the blonde god soothingly. Clearly conveying that Loki talking was his doing.
"Do you have any allergies we should know about?" Bruce asked. "Any food you don't like?"
"No allerigies... but..." again the Trickster glanced at his brother. "I'm ashamed to admit I'm a bit... particular... about my food..."
"What? You are a picky eater or something?" The billionaire was back with a big glass of water with ice that he handed to the god. "You are in good company if that's the case. Can you believe Barton doesn't like cooked veggies? And Brucie Bear here doesn't like raspberries while Cap doesn't like bananas."
"They taste different from when I was a kid", Steve muttered. Which made sense. He would have grown up with a variety that had since gone extinct.
"I don't like blueberries", Natasha shrugged. "We handle it."
Eyes darting between them Loki seemed confused by the apparent acceptance he was receiving. Bruce couldn't have said what brought it about but he was certain that it spoke volumes of how broken they all were.
Stark had offered Loki a floor of his own only to be shot down by Thor. The Trickster wasn't sure what his brother thought this was all about. He hated this punishment. Not fighting with the mortals, that was simple enough. But being under the older's thumb. If it was one thing his older brother had never learnt it was subtlety and restraint. Something that was current on full display. Almost everything he said was an order. Not a request or inquiry. An order. Before, Loki would have ignored most of it but now he had no choice. The spell was superficial in the sense that it didn't affect his thinking or his emotions. He couldn't be ordered to love Thor for example, but he could be ordered to display an act of love. What it did was compel him to do any action ordered, no matter what it was he had to obey. Even when it took a toll on him physically.
"This will be your bed, brother", the big oaf announced, gesturing to the piece of furniture. At least the room was of good size, maybe he could borrow some books from Stark. The man had given him a drink earlier and broke the compulsion.
"It will do", he said simply. There was an adjacent bathroom and he longed to take a bath. It was not to be, however.
"Now go to bed and don't disturb me until morning", the idiot said.
"Thor..." Loki tried even as his body starting moving.
"No argument. Just sleep." His moronic brother turned amd closed the door behind him. Forcing the Trickster to go to bed fully dressed. Boots and all. He hated this. He hated it so much.
After clawing his way awake from another nightmare Loki is finally able to take a shower. After all, Thor told him not to disturb him until morning. He never said Loki had to sleep till daybreak. Going back to bed feels unappealing and he really wants to change the sheets before sleeping in it again. Dressed in a soft tunic and loose breeches he walks on quiet feet, making his way up to the floor he arrived at. To his surprise most of the Avengers are also awake. The only ones missing is the archer and the spy. Stark waves at him and he cautiously joins them.
"Couldn't sleep?" he asks pleasantly.
"No... it is difficult to find restful sleep when forced to wear full battle armour to bed", the Trickster replies.
"Why did you go to bed fully dressed?" the soldier asks while frowning.
"My oaf of a brother ordered me to go to bed, leaving me with no choice."
"Wait", the human inventor holds up a hand. "You have to obey him to the letter?"
"I thought that was already obvious."
"But what if you physically can't do what he tells you?"
"I don't know", Loki shrugged. "I haven't exactly made an attempt to try out the limitations of the spell."
"That's fucked up..." they grew quiet. After a while Banner approached with a tray on which four steaming mugs were placed. The three humans took one each and the fourth was offered to the Trickster. He looked at it with suspicion.
"It's hot chocolate", the man said. "Nothing dangerous."
"I doubt you could poison me anyway", taking it he tried to take a sip only to discover it was way too hot for him. Using his ice breath he blew on the surface, watching in amusement as a piece of ice was formed only to melt immediately. He repeated this a few times until he could drink it without problems while still enjoying the warmth. Then he noticed the humans staring at him. "What?"
"Was that... magic?" the bespectacled man asked with interest.
"Just a small spell, nothing special."
"That's pretty cool", the Captain said who blushed when Stark began laughing. "I don't see what's so funny."
"You called ice magic 'cool', Cap. I'd say that's pretty funny", the inventor said.
"Are they always like this?" the god of mischief asked Banner.
"No, they are usually way worse."
It was still early morning when Thor slammed the door open and stomped out in the common room. Bruce winced when he saw the indentation left in the wall. The god of thunder looked furious and shouted loudly.
"Shh", the scientist insisted and gestured to the sofa where the Trickster were sleeping soundly. The raven had only scrunched up his face and hidden under the throw, still asleep. "He has not been asleep for very long, let him be."
"Banner, my brother was not supposed to leave our floor. Who knows what kind of mischief he has caused."
"He has been here, drinking hot chocolate and just talked with me and the others." That had been rather unexpected. Loki had been pleasant. A bit sarcastic and quite sassy, not to different from Tony actually, none of the venom and viciousness they had witnessed during the invasion two years earlier. It had been fun, watching him trade remarks with the engineer who had looked like a kid in a candy shop. Eventually Steve had gone for a run and the billionaire had retreated to his workshop. Soon after the Trickster had fallen asleep on the sofa. It was probably a good thing that Bruce had decided to stay, otherwise the dark god would have been forced to deal with his brother.
"That doesn't matter. He has disobeyed."
"...Thor... he can't disobey. He literally went to bed fully clothed because you ordered him to."
"Did he tell you that? Banner, I love my brother but he is a well known liar. It is wise to be careful, he can spin words like another spins thread."
"You assume he is lying? Just like that?"
"This is the man who, with a straight face, told me our father was dead, Banner. I would not trust his words easily if I were you." With that Thor turned around and walked out, leaving Bruce with a heavy weight in his stomach.
"Has he left?" the sudden voice from the sofa made him jump. Hair rumpled and shirt wrinkled Loki sat up, resting his head in his hands.
"Yes, he just left. Did you really lie to him about your dad?"
"I did. To my defence I had just found out about my true parentage and feared what my brother would do if he found out as well. Add a brewing war and the burden of suddenly being king."
"Ah... he did say something about you being adopted. Why would that make you fear him?"
"Have you ever heard of Frost Giants, Doctor Banner?"
"They are the inhabitants of Jotunheim. Over a thousand years ago they invaded Midgard only to be driven back by Odin's armies. As a child I would listen to the stories about how my father had defeated the monsters and brought peace to the Realms. Thor used to boast about how he would end them once and for all. Odin did nothing to stop him from saying this. As their name imply Frost Giants, or Jotuns, are literal giants. The largest was at least three stories tall. Their skin is blue and their eyes are red. What I found out, good doctor, was that I was one of them."
"But you are not a giant. Tall, yes, but not a giant. Wait, you grew on stories about how your own race was monsters?"
"I did, yes. And no, I'm not a giant in size. See, that's how I ended up on Asgard. I had been left to die due to my size and Odin found me. I don't know how he knew but apparently I am the son of Jotunheim's then king."
"That's why you were afraid", Bruce felt like he had an epiphany. "You was afraid Thor would... kill... you... oh..."
"Indeed. I do not pretend to be a saint, Doctor Banner. I know I'm not. I'm a cheater and liar. But I usually have a reason for my actions. For better or worse I do."
"Sir, I believe you have a visitor." Tony lifted his visor and looked over his shoulder. He had to grin at the sight. Just outside the glass stood no one else but the god of mischief. Picking at his hand anxiously Loki had turned his back to the workshop and kept walking in a small circle. Likely dithering if he should knock or not. The engineer got to his feet and walked over.
"Fancy seeing you here, Rudolph", he said while grinning.
"Did big brother send you?"
"No, I..." the Trickster took a deep breath. "I was hoping... I might seek some... hmm... how to put it... time away... from Thor."
"You want a hiding place?" he barely kept a neutral face as Loki winced and then deflated.
"Yes... he has been... overbearing since we arrived here. I know this is your sanctuary... but I was thinking that perhaps... we could learn of each other's crafts."
"You want to talk about magic with me in exchange for hiding from Pikachu?"
"Deal! Actually, let me get Bruce, he will love this. Jarvis?"
"Doctor Banner is on his way."
"Great. Well, come on in then Reindeer."
"Why do you call me that?"
"Have you seen your helmet?"
"Does those look like antlers to you? It is a pretty standard helmet for Asgard. Thor's has wings on it."
"It's just a nickname, Glam Rock."
Just then Bruce arrived looking decidedly eager. Together they went into the workshop. As they started talking it became obvious that there were a few things that had to be sorted out before they really could begin.
"Magic isn't science you don't understand yet. Magic is a science in and of itself", Loki explained. "To the untrained eye they might look the same but the fundamentals are completely different. Your nature sciences seeks to explain the world and expand upon knowledge already existing. Engineering, such as your own field Stark, is about application of that understanding to the act of inventing. The more you understand the more you can create."
"With you so far."
"Magic is taking ones mind and imagination, applying it to the world. There are spell works that makes it easier to bridge the gap between the mind and the material world but the principal is the same."
"That doesn't make any sense, you can't make something from nothing", Bruce protested.
"And I don't. What is the building blocks of reality."
"Atoms", Tony said suddenly understanding. "You can instantly gather the atoms needed and make them take the shape you desire."
"Just so. I can also manipulate dimensional space to my advantage."
"Changing the dimensions of something", the Doctor said eagerly. "And you can manipulate thermal energy. Like with the ice."
"Indeed, although ice is a bit different for me."
"Why is that?"
"Remember I told you about my heritage, Doctor Banner?"
"Yes, you said you are a Frost Giant. A small one."
"A small giant?"
"Stop snickering, Stark, or I turn you into a frog."
"...can you turn me into a frog?"
"Yes. And before you ask, yes I can manipulate the conserving of mass to my will."
"Bruce, he is awesome."
"Why, thank you Stark. Back on topic. Jotuns, yes Frost Giants, are native to Jotunheim. A Realm eternally covered in ice."
"Ah, that explains it. You temperature is so much lower than a human, you are adapted to a really cold climate. By having a lower core temperature you are not as susceptible to hypothermia. Could it be that... Jotuns? has a natural affinity for thermal magic?"
"I'm impressed, good Doctor. I've tried to explain this to my brother many times but he never seems to get it. There is only one thing, Jotuns has a natural affinity for ice magic. Not fire or heat. In fact, they are highly sensitive to high temperatures. Being smaller in size means I'm not as sensitive. As a sorcerer I can also manipulate my own thermal frequency."
His head was swimming from all these new facts but at the same time he felt just so eager. The whole concept was simply amazing. It broke the laws of physics and the terminology was a bit out there. But oh boy, Tony was in science heaven.
"Can humans do this as well?" Brucie Bear asked.
"No, human sorcerers use other methods to manipulate reality. They are far more reliant on spells than I am", Loki smiled at them. It was perhaps a bit condescending but the engineer figured he had earned it. Then the glass panels actually shook as Thor roared.
"Loki!" the Trickster grimaced and got to his feet.
"The break is over it seems. I thank the two of you for putting aside our feud in favour of a pleasant conversation", he said.
"Loki, get over here!" his brother shouted, making the god of mischief press his lips together.
"Oaf", he muttered and left without another word.
Sitting in the sudden silence Tony and Bruce was both deep in thought. Likely thinking about the same thing. How could the same person be so different? This Loki and the Loki from the invasion was like night and day. Could something have happened to the guy before he came through the portal?
"You know..." Banner mused. "We never learnt where he got the army from."
"He found them in space?"
"Do you really believe that?"
"No", Tony sighed and kneaded his forehead. "For one thing, that's not how things work. You don't just go and pick up an army. It has to come from somewhere."
"They kept fighting even after he was taken out by the Hulk..."
"If he was their commander, why did they fight independent from him? No one else was present who directed them, he never gave them orders. After Hulk smashed him they were still fighting until you nuked their mothership."
"Fuck... you don't think he was forced to invade do you?"
"I don't know, Tony. But... it might be a possibility. I doubt he will tell us the truth though. That's not his style."
No, it wasn't, was it.
The genius had fallen asleep at his desk again, a bottle and a glass at his elbow. Snoring softly Tony looked exhausted. Gently Steve lifted him into his arms and carried him to his bed. As usual warring emotions fought in his chest as he watched the brunette sleeping. One part of him longed to wrap his arms around the other, protecting him. Another part of him, a darker part, wanted to take the shorter man, ravage him, claiming him. As usual he ignored both. Settling for placing a gentle kiss of Tony's brow before tucking him in. The engineer didn't even stir.
It was one of those days. Tony and Pepper were having yet another argument while Clint was having a quiet breakdown. In the kitchen Steve had accidentally knocked over his bowl of pancake mix and was cleaning it up. Thor was storming around looking for his brother who was obviously hiding. Since Bruce was also missing the two were likely together, discussing magic or something. As for her, she was checking up on her Wikipedia page. It wasn't about ego. Ever since the fall of Shield and the information dump she had begun to face a lot of harassment online. Normally it wouldn't bother her but the people behind it were the very people she risked her life protecting. As she had expected her picture had been photoshopped horrendiously. With ease she fixed the page and kept going through sites listing the Avengers. While her team mates also faced a lot of derision the type directed at her were decidedly sexual in nature. She had faced worse, naturally, but still. Natasha closed the laptop just as the alarm blared. Instantly everyone was on high alert. Banner and Loki both blinked into existence and headed to the jet.
"Tony Stark, don't you dare walk away from this conversation!" Pepper yelled and the engineer looked tired for a moment before turning to his girlfriend.
"I have to do this", was all he said. Stepping out on the plattform his Iron Man suit formed around him and he flew ahead followed by Thor. The rest of them were already on board the jet.
"Who are we up against?" Steve asked.
"Robbers with army grade weapons and hostages, stand-still at a bank", Natasha read the message.
"If I may offer a suggestion?" the god of mischief said. "With my magic I can make myself beneath notice. I could sneak in and disable the weapons. Then you could easily take them out and retrieve the hostages."
"That's actually a really good strategy", the soldier complemented. "Did you get that, Tony?"
"Loud and clear, Cap", came the reply from the comms. "I keep Thunder Pants busy. This isn't his scene."
"Where is the bank located? I can teleport ahead." Once the Trickster had the location he vanished, then from the comms. "I'm inside."
Things went easy after that. Just like he had promised, Loki disarmed the robbers without them noticing. As they stormed the building he threw up a force field between the hostages and the fighting. Needless to say, everyone with the exception of Clint was quite pleased with the dark god. Only, the archer had company in the form of Thor. He loomed over his younger brother, looking furious.
"Where were you?" the Thunderer demanded.
"I was inside, protecting the mortals."
"I mean before, in the Tower."
"I was in the company of Doctor Banner, he wanted to do some baseline testing on me." It sounded plausible enough. Bruce had not needed to transform with how smoothly all of it went. At Loki's statement he looked a bit startled but played along.
"Just a few medical tests", he said and shrugged. "We didn't quite finish so I will need to borrow him after we return."
"No." Thor crossed his arms. "You have actively avoided me, Loki. No more. You will stay where I can see you or Norns help me."
"Are you threatening me?"
"And be quiet, I don't want to hear another word out of your mouth."
The human members of the Avengers looked uncomfortable as the Trickster's teeth clicked shut. Natasha might agree that Loki had a bit too much freedom but this was just cruel, he had just saved several people. When the police came over to show their gratitude Tony stepped in and managed to deflect attention away from the god of mischief. Which was probably a good thing anyway. No one needed to know that the architect behind the invasion two years earlier was back.
The god of mischief was hiding again, this time in Bruce's lab since Tony was at a meeting. He didn't mind. Unlike the engineer Loki knew how to be quiet and could enjoy solitude. If it wasn't for Thor the raven would likely been in his room reading. His thundering brother seemed to hate seeing him with a book however and forbid him from even touching one. They had discovered not long ago that the Trickster couldn't tell anyone if he had been given an order. There were ways he could show it or indicate it but he couldn't say anything. Not directly. Thus the hiding.
"Can I tell you something, about myself?" Loki asked as he throw something up in the air and then caught it again.
"Sure, go ahead", Bruce said and he meant it. He wanted to know more about their reluctant ally. Although it was probably a good thing that Fury was no longer in charge of Shield.
"I have never felt desire for a stranger", the god said. "Thor used to fall headless in love all the time and bedded anyone who agreed. It didn't matter if he had just met them. Now he is simply more controlled. But I've never been like that. It's not that I haven't found people attractive or that I've lacked bedpartners. Simply that I have never been able to feel that way for someone I don't know. I've always been told that I am strange for being like this."
"That's not strange at all, there are others who are just like you. It is called demi-sexual and is part of the Ace spectrum."
"The what now?"
"The Ace spectrum, asexuality. Some people don't feel sexual attration at all, others need an emotional connection to someone. Without that connection they won't feel attraction."
"Interesting. Asgard lack this...understanding of differences. Then again we don't define sexual preference based on gender, it is about the acts, not the person. What about you, Doctor Banner?"
"I'm mostly straight, I need to really connect with a man to feel attraction towards him. Not that it really matters anymore. I'm pretty much celibate."
Loki sat up on the sofa and frowned at him. Crap, this guy in the sam league as Natasha. He could hear what was not being said. "Why are you celibate? You are a hero, surely there would be an interested woman?"
"It has to do with the Hulk."
"I've seen weirder combinations."
"So have I to be honest... but it is different. It has to do with the mechanism behind my transformation. You see, it is triggered by arousal. Usually the type that comes from anger and is purely a physical reaction. But it can also be triggered by..."
"Sexual arousal. So, basically the increase in body temperature and the accelarated heart rate causes you to transform into the beast. Acting as a trigger."
"Yes..." it was kind of odd. Bruce hated it when someone called Hulk a monster because it made him feel like one as well. Hearing Loki refer to his green alter-ego as a beast on the other hand... it implied someone who had lost control and was acting based on instincts. A bit scary but not anymore than, say, a bear. The difference, he realised, was that monster was someone without remorse, without choice. A beast might be impulsive but would still be able to feel remorse. Have a choice.
The Trickster had a calculating expression but it was far from sinister so the scientst didn't bother looking into it.
"What happens if you ever run out of juice? Can you run out of juice?" Tony asked Loki who looked amused as he contemplated the question. Placing a hand of Thor's shoulder Steve stopped the Thunderer from interrupting. This was something the team needed to know now that the Trickster would be fighting with them.
"It depends to be honest", the black-haired god said. "Most spells takes very little Seidr but some spells take physical exertion, those are the ones that can drain me."
"What you have dubbed 'juice'."
"Ah. What kind of spells can drain you then?"
"Let's see... would you get tired if you lifted a boulder over your head?"
"I wouldn't be able to life one without the suit. But for the sake of argument, yes."
"Imagine then if you were to lift it with your mind rather than your arms. The strain would still be felt by your body in addition to your mind."
"Alright, so doing things with magic wouldn't necessarily be easier than doing it without. And since you are stronger than puny humans your limits are different as well."
"What would happen if you reached those limits?" Steve asked quietly.
"Well, good Captain, I would show signs of exhaustion for one thing. The danger comes if I try to push pass my limits. Worst case scenario it could kill me." Loki said and the humans all nodded in understanding. They all knew the dangers of being pushed passed endurance, it made sense that magic were no different.
"Don't exaggerate, brother", Thor scoffed. "Magic is a weaklings weapons. I've seen you use it throughout a fight with no issue."
"I'm not", the Trickster glared at his brother. "Illusions and diversions is not very straining, all I'm doing is bending light. And magic is not a weak weapon, Mother uses magic."
"So, she is a woman. That's completely normal."
"Don't let her hear you say that, she'll have your hide."
"Shut up." The two gods was looking at each other in anger, although in this case Loki's anger was more understandable.
"Thor", Steve said warningly. "We need to know these things. He is being very cooperative by telling us. Don't punish him for it."
"As you wish, Captain. You may speak, brother."
"I think I have said enough", the god of mischief stood and marched out. No one tried to stop him. This whole thing was uncomfortable and made their friend look like a bully. The problem was that this was supposed to be Loki's punishment, they didn't know the details of his sentence and that made it difficult to intervene. Tony and Bruce had offered places of refuge for the Trickster if he needed it. That was all they could do at the moment.
The nights had become his escape. It was frankly really sad but it was the one time he knew Thor wouldn't bother him. His oaf of a brother was sleeping too deeply to notice him sneaking out. No order could make him sleep through the night, if he woke up he woke up. Shuddering Loki tried not to think to hard about his nightmares, they were always about the same things. He entered the common room on silent feet, there were no lights on. Standing by the window he looked down on the city he had wrought with such destruction. Assuming he was alone he jumped when a small crash sounded behind him followed by cursing. To his surprise Stark was sitting by his bar. Apparently he had accidentally shoved a tumbler from the counter top. The Trickster made his way over in time to stop the very drunk mortal from trying to pick up the glass with his bare hands.
"You will cut yourself", he chided.
"Shudap", the inventor grumbled. "Not th' 'ss of me."
"Indeed not but you would certainly regret it come morning."
"'top nagging me 'epper."
"Are you perhaps talking about miss Potts? What about her?"
"Lokes?" Stark narrowed his eyes as if he had a hard time seeing. "Is it morning?"
"No, it is the middle of the night. What is the matter? Why are you drinking?" Loki didn't get an answer though, the man had fallen asleep and was currently snoring loudly. "Oh, dear... Jarvis, how much has he drunk?"
"Past his limits, mr. Loki", the A.I. replied. "He and miss Potts had a another very heated argument. I fear miss Potts said some rather unkind things."
"I see, would you mind if I assisted him to his bed?"
"Not at all. May I inquire about the reason for your kindness?"
"You know what they say, 'repay in kind to what you have been given'. Stark had been nothing but kind to me since I've arrived. He and Doctor Banner. This is the least I can do."
With Jarvis help he located the inventor's bedroom. Rather than stripping the man he only took of his shoes before dumping him into the bed. He then waved his hand and Stark was dressed in a soft pyjama, his clothes folded nearby. Returning to the common area he took care of the smashed glass the same way. Picking up a random book he sat down on the sofa. Using a mage light Loki read quietly, not noticing his eyes drooping until he had fallen asleep. Book on his chest. For once his dreams were undisturbed.
A hungover Tony came to bother him early in the morning. Dressed in a pyjama the engineer whined about his head hurting. Shaking his head Bruce got dressed and followed him to the shared kitchen. A bottle of scotch stood on the bar, almost empty. it had been nearly full the evening before.
"I'm surprised you are still alive... how you avoided alcohol poisoning is remarkable", the scientist told his friend. "Actually... how did you make it to your bed?"
"...I'm not sure. Jarvis? How did I make it to my bed?"
"Mr Loki carried you, sir. He also kindly stopped you from hurting yourself on shards of glass", the A.I. said. "I deduce he also conjured the clothes you are currently wearing."
"That's explains it, I don't even own a pyjama. Wait? Loki helped me?"
"Indeed sir, I believe he wished to repay you for your kindness."
"Huh. Ah well, might as well eat something. How about a smoothie?"
Bruce had just rounded the sofa and paused. Looking over his shoulder he said: "Do you think you could make something that doesn't make too much noise?" Because sleeping peacefully on the sofa were the Trickster himself. Some paperback had slipped onto the floor, the shirt had crawled up over his waist, showing pale skin. Of course Tony got curious and joined him. Snickering he took a photo before he started making a sandwich. The scientist took the throw and covered the sleeping god. The sight was kind of sweet. Realising Loki risked facing Thor's anger, again, he decided to stay. Picking up the book he sat down in an armchair. Apparently having had the same thought Tony sat down with his sandwich, coffee and apple juice, taking his tablet to go through e-mails. The god of mischief had no one on his side. Both knew how that felt, so they had decided to try to be on Loki's side. Maybe it would be enough for him to finally trust them with the truth of the invasion. Because they were now convinced he had not done so by choice. Until then, they would keep their hands extended in friendship. It was the least they could do.
It was a messy battle. Debris were raining down as buildings were destroyed. People were screaming loudly as they tried to escape the Doombots. The death-toll would have been even higher if it wasn't for Loki. He used his magic to both fight the bots and save people's life. Moving them out of the way or suspending falling buildings until people had cleared the street below. While he wasn't wearing his helmet he wore his armour and it was obvious he was recognised. After the fall of Shield however the public was less quickly to make judgement. Tony had actually seen theories that the Trickster had been set up by the government or that he had been mind-controlled, by the government. People were weird. Finally the last Doombot had been beaten and they all breathed out, feeling exhausted. Looking around at the destruction Steve sighed deeply and turned to them.
"We better call for clean-up and then go look for survivors", he said.
"No need", Thor said cheerfully. "Loki can restore the area with his magic." Said deity was sweating and breathing hard, at his brother's words he blanched.
"Thor... my magic... I can't..."
"Cease your lying and try to actually do something for once instead of being lazy. Just do as I say!" everyone, Avengers and civilians alike stared at the Thunderer. They had all seen how hard the black-haired god fought. For his own brother to accuse of laziness was absurd. Still in his Iron Man suit Tony intended to tell the big blonde off but he just swung his hammer and flew off. At the same time green light enveloped the debris which started to rise. People naturally hurried out of the way.
"Tony! You need to stop him!" Bruce, who had de-Hulked, shouted. The engineer turned and the sight was haunting. Loki was a sickly grey, his body shook violently and worst of all, blood was dripping from both his nose and his mouth. The green light around his hands sputtered and sparked. Not unlike a car that had run out of fuel. He didn't hesitate, stepping out from his suit he ran over to the god of mischief, placing his hands on the slim shoulders.
"Loki, stop!" he shouted. Immediately the green eyes rolled up and the Trickster dropped. But the shaking didn't stop and blood still spilled from his mouth. Banner skidded to a halt beside them, placing two fingers on Loki's pulse.
"We need to get him medical help, his heartbeat is flickering and he has trouble breathing", he said, sounding terrified.
"Got it", stepping back into his suit Tony picked up the god and flew away. Jarvis informed him of a hospital nearby that was ready to receive them. Apparently, someone among the spectators had called ahead. As he landed a stretcher was waiting, no sooner had he laid the Trickster down before they rolled him away. Sending the Iron Man suit back to the Tower without him he waited for his team. Together they waited for any news, even Barton who still refused to even speak with the dark god. Finally a doctor emerged.
"How is he?" Steve asked.
"We have done our best but since he is not human and his illness is due to...magic... we had to do a lot of guessing", the woman said. "For now he is stable and the bleeding stopped. He will need rest, preferably avoiding even leaving his bed for at least a week."
"He won't get that at the Tower", Bruce muttered. "Not with Thor ordering him around."
"You don't think he would listen to the doctors?" Natasha asked.
"Mortals, remember", Tony replied. "He might like us but that doesn't change the fact that he views us as inferior. He will say something about Midgardian healers underestimating them and laugh about how resilient he is."
"Well then", the female doctor said. "We will keep Loki here for care and observation. If Thor comes we will turn him away."
"You would do that?"
"Loki is our patient and if we suspect someone is a danger to his health we are within our obligations to keep him out."
"That's... that's good. Send the bill to me and I will take care of it. Come on folks, we should get going. Thor is alone in the Tower and I'm scared to think about what he is getting up to."
"I..." Bruce hesitated before continuing. "I will stay here. Loki can likely use someone nearby when he wakes up. Besides, I don't think I could face Thor right now without hulking out."
All of them agreed it was a good plan and as they filed out Tony saw his friend speak quietly with the doctor. Yeah, it was probably a good idea that one of them stayed. The god of thunder was stubborn even at the best of times but no one, not even gods, went up against the Hulk without good reason.
He felt like he was burning, his veins ablaze. Slowly he was becoming aware of a soft piping and the comfort of a firm bed under his body. Everything felt thick and slow. He opened his eyes, blinking against harsh light. Barely could he make out that there was someone sitting beside him. The world crashed down on him all at once, he remembered what had happened. A hand was placed on his shoulder, grounding him. As his sight cleared he realised that the one keeping him company was Doctor Banner who was looking at him with those big brown eyes. The man was deceptively small and shy in his current form but Loki had no doubt he could handle himself. Hulk or no Hulk.
"Just take it easy", Banner said. "You are in the hospital." Ah, so that's where he ended up. With the mortal healers. It could have been worse.
"Where is Thor?" he asked in a hoarse voice.
"He has been banned from the hospital after trying to strong arm his way into your room and nearly fried the electric systems", the kind man replied. "How do you feel?"
"I've been better. Thor was banned?"
"He was, you have been asleep for three days. We worried he might hurt you and because of that he was not allowed to see you."
"You have been here all the time?"
The scientist smiled at him. "Almost, Tony and Steve has also been here a few times. Something about me needing to sleep and eat."
"A noble cause. I'm surprised you have been standing up to Thor for my sake."
"You really don't think you deserve help? For someone to be on your side?"
"I haven't had someone on my side, except maybe my mother, for what feels like centuries. I attacked your world, Doctor Banner. Surely you can't claim to have forgiven me to this degree?"
"Call me Bruce", a hand started brushing through Loki's long, black hair in a gesture that almost seemed self-soothing. "No one deserves to be completely alone. Not even you. As for the invasion... Tony and I are pretty sure you didn't do it by choice."
The Trickster stilled. There were few who could see through him. Even the female spy only belived she had back on the hellicarrier. So how could two mortal men, no matter how brilliant and intelligent, seen what not even his own family hadn't seen. Flashes of his time in the Void, of Thanos and his so-called children. He swallowed and turned his face away, unable to meet the kind eyes.
"We understand that you can't talk about it at the moment but please trust that we can understand. None of us has a squeeky clean background. Not even Steve even if he is cleaner than most of us."
"I'm not the type to offer my trust, Doctor Banner."
"Please, call me Bruce. And we know, I know. Which is why we... I have decided to trust you." Loki felt shock as he stared at the mortal who smiled kindly. "There is a saying, 'When someone stops listening it is because they have spent too much time speaking to the deaf'. I think it is about time someone listened to you."
He couldn't answer. Didn't know what to say. Instead he changed the subject.
"Sooo... how long am I supposed to be in here?"
It was with little fanfare that Loki returned to the Tower. Getting banned from the hospital seemed to have curbed Thor for now and the Trickster was much more relaxed in response. One of the first things he did after returning was handing Bruce a bracelet. Explaining that there were an enchanment on it that would allow the scientist to control his transformations. He got a cheeky grin.
"With this you can even woe a lady to your bed without having to fear an unexpected apperance", he said. "Although, maybe she would enjoy Hulk's company as well?"
"Thank you", Bruce said, seeing the gesture for what it was. His chest felt odd, however, when Loki talked about him sharing a bed with a woman. Almost like he was jealous but of... himself. Weird. By now the world knew the god of mischief was back on Earth but thanks to someone capturing their recent battle on video the reception was actually pretty good. Oh, it had leaked out before, the difference was that there were now proof.
"I love peace and quiet!" Tony announced one day in the lab. "No villains, no brotherly spat between two gods and Pepper is speaking to me again."
"And that's a good thing?"
"What do you mean, Brucie Bear? Of course it is a good thing. I thought we were going to break up this time."
"Maybe that would have been a good thing?" the engineer stared at him like he was crazy. "Look... how many times have you drunk yourself into a stupor because you had a fight with her?"
"Hey, that's on me. She doesn't like me being Iron Man, so what can I do?"
"Tony... I'm just worried. Why are you so invested in this relationship?"
His friend was quiet for a long time, fiddling. It was highly unusual for the high-energy man to go completetly quiet. Yet he was. Until he finally spoke.
"She is the first to stay..." he said. "To put up with all my crazy, even before... the Cave. She stood by me as Obie was targetting me and then forgave me after Hammer."
"I know there are... issues... between us but I still love her. I need her."
Worst part was that Bruce believed him, he just wasn't sure it was a good thing. In his opinion, it was only a matter of time until his friend was hurt again. And at some point Tony would not be able to get up again.
In hindsight he should have known it was too good to last. His brother wasn't malicious. Never had been. Instead he was hot-headed, stubborn and slow to change. After the incident with the hospital Thor had received a lecture from Rogers. Yet he didn't seem to connect that incident with Loki's prolonged stay with mortal healers. While the Trickster had enjoyed his taste of freedom the other god had started to go stir crazy from being cooped up. It came to a point where he announced he was going to visit his "lady Jane" and be back in three days.
"Have fun", the god of mischief said, being on his way to the workshop.
"Where are you going?" his oaf of a brother asked.
"To join Stark and Banner? We have been working on ways to integrate magic with technology in order to better combat Doom."
"Absolutetly not! You forget the conditions for your sentencing."
"I assure you, brother, I have not. This is for the benefit of the mortals."
"Enough!" Thor roared, patience gone. "I don't want to hear another word. You will not move a muscle until I get back!"
Indeed his brother was an idiot, not even noticing the meaning behind his own words. Loki felt his body lock as the Thunderer swept out of the floor and supposedly to his mortal. He wasn't to worried at first, since they all ate dinner together someone was bound to realise and come help him. It was when he started to feel his breath stutter and his chest ache that he started to feel panic. The orders. The enchantment. Standing still was one thing, but he had specifically been told to not move a muscle. Including, it seemed, his heart.
"Sir, I fear mr. Loki is in need of immediate assistance. I'm detecting strong indications of distress." Jarvis spoke and Tony was on his feet, heading for the godly floor. The cameras had been fried by either Thor or his brother early on but his A.I. was still part of the building. The elevator stopped and he stepped out, heading for the living room. He wasn't sure what was going on as Loki seemed to stand frozen in the middle of the floor. Then he heard the struggle for breath, took in the blue tinge to the pale skin.
"Shit! Jarvis, call Bruce up here. Tell him it is an emergency!" there wasn't enough space to run so he jogged up to the Trickster and released him from whatever order he had been put under. For the second time the Trickster collapsed after Tony had uttered those two so seemingly innocent words. The first time it had seemed bad, this was worse. Lowering the taller man to the floor he discovered his friend had stopped breathing. Fingers to his pulse showed his heart was only barely breathing. Just then Bruce barrelled in, taking in the situation he started cpr. Pushing air passed cold lips and pressing down on the barely moving, but so essential, muscle. It took five minutes, maybe more, before Loki was able to breathe on his own and his heart was once more beating steadily.
"What happened?" he asked.
"I don't know", the engineer confessed. "Jarvis alerted me something was wrong and when I got here Loki was completetly frozen."
"You think Thor..."
"Oh, he definitly did. The moment I said 'Stop, Loki' he dropped. Do you think we need to have some kind of intervention?"
"Probably but without Clint and Natasha..."
Tony sighed. Bruce had a point. They would need all five of them to be on the same page before there would even be a point in trying. The question was, would they win over Nat or Barton first? Or would that always remain futile?
Loki looked small on the bed. Pale and still. This was getting out of hand but Bruce had no idea what he could possibly do to help. It wasn't likely that Thor would listen to them. Which begged the question, what exactly was this punishment meant to do? Drive the brother's apart? A groan drew his attention as the Trickster blinked and started to wake up. Eyelids flickered and then focused on the scientist.
"Doctor Banner..." the god sighed. "What has happened this time?"
"Call me Bruce, please..."
"Good Doctor, using a title is a sign of respect while using your first name is a sign of intimacy. Are you sure you want to claim such thing with me."
"We are friends", Bruce said stubbornly but then relented. "But if you want to wait, that's fine."
"Very kind of you. Now, what happened?"
"We think Thor gave you an order and... well... it nearly killed you."
"Ah... now I remember. My brother kindly told me to 'not move a muscle until I return'. Which apparently include my diaphragm and my heart."
"At this rate he really will kill you, Loki. That can't be the purpose of this, right?"
"You are questioning Odin's reasons. Fair enough. It is fairly simple, Doctor Banner. Something Thor has always lacked is restraint. Which he will need as king. My so-called father is using this as an opportunity to teach my brother that restraint. I? I'm simply the tool. A tool that won't be missed if broken."
"That's horrible!" the Hulk stirred but thanks to the bracelet they could decide who should be in charge. In this case, they needed Bruce. "Then why can we null his orders?"
"That's also simple. How would he learn restraint without someone to show him when he goes too far? You are no less a tool than I am. That's the kind of man Odin is."
He couldn't quite understand the apparent hostility towards him from Stark, Banner and Rogers. They gave him some tall tale, clearly his brother's work, about him nearly killing the younger. Thor just shook his head and went about his day. The spell their father had placed on Loki was in many ways flawed. For one thing, the orders could not be about the future or on a schedule. An order could last for a prolonged period of time but he couldn't give an order that would be obeyed at a different time. Secondly, if the mortals cancelled one order of his, they cancelled all of them. His ban on reading had already been dispelled several times. The human inventor particularly seemed to take pleasure in circumventing Thor's orders. He and the Trickster was far too alike.
The whole team except Tony and including Loki was sitting in the shared living space when the inventor stormed in. He had a haunted expression and a fake smile. Clapping his hands he demanded their attention.
"Let's have a party! Just us, right now. I bring out the good stuff!" he announced gleefully.
"Did Pepper dump you again?" Banner asked.
"Nooo... we are on a... break. Yeah. A mutual break."
"I understand. Jane said something similar to me", Thor said. "Distances can be a trial to overcome."
"I'm pretty sure she told you that she wanted to break-up", Loki commented mildly.
"See, Zeus is also single! We need to have a party! Get drunk!" Stark had already started to pull out liqueur.
"Tony..." Rogers sighed. "I will sit this out, I can't get drunk anyway."
Horrified the Thunderer stared at the Captain who just shrugged. This could not stand, he had to do something and he knew exactly what.
"Loki, conjure up a casket of Vanir wine for the Captain and I", he said, receiving a glare. Next moment a casket stood on the low table. "With a tap, brother."
"Lazy oaf", a hand wave later and the casket now had an elegant tap. "Are you intending to make it exclusive to you and Rogers?"
"Can normal mortals drink it?" Stark wanted to know. "Or would we die?"
"If you watered it down considerably you could drink it", the Trickster replied. "I recommend you keep it to a minimum, the wine has a slightly psychedelic effect due to the inclusion of certain herbs."
"My tolerance is pretty high, Merlin."
"Not that high. I can mix something suitable for you but only one glass."
Normally Thor would have protested but he had already downed one pint of wine and was working on his second. Loki was right in that regard. It was some really strong stuff. Surely even Rogers could get drunk now.
It had a long time since he was drunk but he wasn't sure this had been part of the experience. Everything looked over-saturated and a bit brighter than it should. Maybe he was dreaming. That was not impossible. He was sometimes a lucid dreamer. To the side by a wall stood Tony, looking at his phone with a sad expression. An expression he had seen far to often. It was almost enough to make him hate Pepper Potts. The engineer should be smiling cheekily and make jokes about everything. Not look like the world had ended and he was the only one left.
He wasn't sure when he walked over. Only that Tony looked up at him in surprise. There were a tinge of alcohol on his breath, familiar and not unexpected.
"Cap?" he asked. Steve moved as if on autopilot, placing his palms on the other's cheeks, tilting his head up. Tony made a noise of surprise when their lips were pressed together. The soldier just relished in the warmth of that mouth. Claiming more kisses. Hands grabbed at his jacket as they collided with the wall. He threaded his own through the brown hair. This. This is what he had wanted to do for so long. And he was not about to let go of this chance.
Bruce had escaped the mayhem brought on by everyone drinking. He himself refused to drink. Having witnessed his father's drunken rage was quite enough. Now he returned to the living room. The lights were out and both Steve and Tony were missing while Clint was out cold. Natasha had passed him on his way up. Thor... was somewhere, probably. And sitting on the sofa, looking miserable was Loki. The Trickster had drawn up his legs and hid his face against his knees, shoulders slumped.
"Hey", the scientist said and touched a slim shoulder, making his friend raise his head. "You're okay?"
"I've been better. My oaf of a brother drunkenly ordered me to stay on the sofa. I've been sitting here for three hours." The god nodded towards a body on the floor that Bruce had missed. Now he saw the blonde god who was sprawled out and snored softly.
"No one cancelled it?"
"Agent Romanoff tried but my brother just repeated the order every single time. He fell asleep just after she left."
Good to know, that meant Nat might be more on their side than he had thought. He hoped she could convince Clint who might disapprove of Thor going too far but was generally in agreement with Loki's punishment.
"He is asleep now though... I could help you."
"Let's wait a bit longer, I rather not he woke up as I was leaving."
"Alright. Do you know where Tony and Steve went?"
"They left quite a while ago, no one really noticed when."
"Ah..." they sat in awkward silence when the Trickster spoke up.
"A while ago you asked me about my involvement in the invasion."
"I did but you don't have to tell me."
"No, I don't. But I want you to know. We've told you about the events leading up to the Bifrost's destruction but not quite what actually followed. I suspect Thor made it sound like I somehow galvanised across the universe, picked up an army and then attacked Midgard in a crazed rage."
"Pretty much", Bruce agreed. Bitterly amused by the grasp Loki had of his brother.
"The truth is, good Doctor, that as the Bifrost fell into the abyss. So did I. You see we were bith falling in its wake only to be caught by Odin. I pleaded with him to understand. To give me one word of kindness and he told me 'No Loki'. The shock of rejection combined with the storm of emotions I had felt became to much."
"You let go?"
"I let go. I let myself fall, truly believing I was facing my death. It was strangely peaceful. No pain or regrets. Nothing but the sweet hope of nothingness. Unfortunately for me, that's not what happened."
"Hardly, they are the worst fighters in the whole galaxy. Blow up their mothership and theu drop. No, I was found by someone much, much worse. The Mad Titan, Thanos. This is a being that has travelled across the universe and landed on selected planets where he wiped out half of the population. Claiming he acted in mercy. He has collected children and shaped them to his needs. And he seeks the Infinity Stones."
"What are those?"
"Singularities. Each Stone represent an aspect of the existance. Time, Space, Mind, Soul, Reality and Power. Extremely powerful and handling even one is dangerous. That's why I was sent to Earth. He wanted the Stone contained in the Tesseract."
"There is one of those stones in the Cube?!"
"Indeed. Another sits in the Sceptre. You all did very good in defeating me I'd say."
"It was an act? You just pretended to... to..."
"Yes... and no. I was tortured, Doctor Banner. In a way no human can understand. You see, I resisted. Not because I cared for Midgard but rather because I didn't. Returning to the Nine Realms meant Asgard would find me and I didn't want that. One of Thanos 'children' has the ability to cause pain without leaving a single mark upon the body. Ebony Maw clawed his was into my mind, into my body and... it was excruciating. I could hide some things from him thanks to my Seidr. Shielding my mind. But he found my weaknesses and exploited them."
"You are not at fault. You all did what you had to. I'm a prince, I understand better than most having to act for the good of my people over my personal preference. Something Thor still doesn't, I might add. I... don't really want to get into details... it was painful. And it broke me enough that the Sceptre could corrupt me. I wasn't mind controlled. But I wasn't myself either."
"You don't have to tell me. I'm sorry that happened to you and that you are stuck in this situation."
"Again, not you fault."
Bruce placed his hand on the shoulder again, squeezing it slightly. "But I can help you. Loki, stop."
Tension bled from the dark god as he stood and stretched. Joints popping as he moved around. Before he left he leaned in until he was but an inch from the scientist's face.
"Thank you. Bruce." He then kissed the corner of the human's mouth. Smirking. But his eyes held warmth. Loki left before his brother could wake and Bruce tried to calm his beating heart. What was going on?
In that state between asleep and awake he first became aware of the fact that he was being cuddled. Someone's arms was holding him. Then he realised he was naked and the feeling of soreness crept up on him. Opening his eyes a crack he stared at the muscled chest in front of him. For a second his mind short circuited before the events of the night before came crashing.
Tony had barely time to register Steve's hands on his face before he was being kissed. It was so unexpected he couldn't respond. Feeling his balance being toppled he grabbed at Rogers jacket while taking a step back. Unwittingly hitting the wall. This only served to encourage the soldier whose fingers disappeared into his hair. All while claiming kisses from the engineer. He wasn't prepared for those strong hands to travel his body and make their way underneath his shirt. All while Steve moved closer, stepping in between Tony's legs. The brunette bit back a moan as their crouches pressed against each other. Which only served to encourage the blonde who still had his arms inside his shirt. As one hand made for his waistband the engineer broke from the kiss, panting.
"Steve... Steve... wait..." he got an annoyed look but his friend at least stopped. Even if he didn't step back or withdrew his hands. There were blazing hot desire in those blue eyes. Swallowing Tony did the only thing he could do. "Not here... bedroom..." No sooner had he spoken before he was literally yanked of his feet. Two strong hands held onto his butt while he was carried away, hanging on for dear life. He huffed as he hit the mattress but then he was being kissed again. Now the touches became more gentle. Insistent but gentle. Almost loving.
"Take them off", the blonde murmured as he tugged of his own clothes. And damn if the engineer wasn't starting to get really into it. He had not been with a guy for years but the sheer want directed at him, that had him going. As Steve kissed his way down Tony's chest he felt like he was losing it. Every nerve was reacting. Both were vested of their clothes, making the brunette's mouth water. The super soldier was really a perfect specimen of man and he wanted it. Casually the blonde stretched across the bed and opened the top drawer of the bedside table. How the heck did he know Tony kept a bottle of lube in there? Opening it he poured a generous amount out in his hand and started to work the engineer open.
"Shit!" The fingers were eager and found their way in rapidly, hitting that sweet, sweet spot. "Shit! Steve!"
Steve had slung a leg over his shoulders and was kissing, biting the skin. Then he seemed satisfied with his preparations, seeing that he pulled out his fingers. Poured some more lube between them and just pushed inside. Tony let out a shout. The soldier paused, gauging his reaction.
"I'm... I'm fine... just fine. Ahh... Steve..." as the blonde moved the pleasure intensified. Somehow, the other managed to find Tony's special spot easily. They came almost at the same time. Gasping Steve collapsed on top of him. As they got their breath back the soldier moved to the side, dragging the engineer into his arms, holding him close.
His reminiscence was brought to a stop as he felt someone mouth at his neck. Well, that someone could of course be no one else but Steve. Who seemed to have the intentions to continue where they left of. This time the hands roaming his skin were firm but gentle. Right, super soldiers burned through hangovers it seemed. While it felt really, really good, Tony hesitated. He and Pepper might have taken a break but they had not really broken up. At the same time... when was the last time someone looked at him like that? Like he was precious. Desirable. Important. Ah, fuck it. They had already had sex once, what difference would one more time make. Decision made he spread his legs, letting Steve come closer.
"Lube..." Tony muttered and the blonde obliged. Without the haze from the night before he felt everything more clearly. Including the friction of being penetrated. Both of them let out a moan and soon the engineer was lost to pleasure. Then he realised Steve was saying something with each trust. Not loudly but very sincerely.
"...ve you... love you... I love you... I love you, Tony..." blue eyes met his own, seeing his disbelief. Lips closed on his and when they let up the words were said loud and clear. "I love you. And I be damned if I will let you suffer anymore."
"Steve... I... ah!" Tony wasn't able to speak. Breath was pushed out of him as he moaned and groaned. The blonde moving his hips in strong, steady movements that just felt amazing. And he wouldn't stop speaking.
"I love you. I will say it until you believe me!" The engineer wanted to curse, blush, run and hide... to hear those three words over and over. Wanted to being looked at like he was the most precious thing on Earth. Like he was being worthy of being loved.
He came first, bowled over by the repeated chanting if his name. Steve kept going for a couple of minutes longer - hey, super soldier - before his hips stuttered and a shudder went through the blonde. Who once more collapsed on top Tony. This time not moving away.
"Did you mean it?" the engineer asked. "When you... mhm..." the soldier shut him up by kissing him.
"Yes, Tony. I meant it. I love you", a warm hand cradled his cheek. "I have wanted you for so long and I... hated seeing you getting hurt but I didn't dare say anything... after last night... well... I figured I take my chances."
"What about me being Iron Man."
"I'm not Pepper."
"I'm. Not. Pepper Potts." Steve's face softened with an expression so full of love that Tony almost choked on his words. "I would never want you to be anything or anyone else than who you are. I wished you took better care of yourself but I don't want you to change yourself for my sake. Or anyone's sake but your own."
"Oh... I... don't think anyone has ever told me that... that I'm good enough..."
"You are so much more than 'good enough'. Give me a lifetime and I prove it to you."
"I'm no good at relationships... I always mess things up."
He was kissed again. "You don't have to try to do it on your own", Steve promised. "Let's do it together."
Alright. He could do that. Pepper was going to get mad... but that didn't matter, did it? This was not about her.
Pepper was shouting at him. Again. He had tried to be gentle about the whole thing. Their break being a real break-up and he intended to date Steve. Maybe he shouldn't have unintentionally mentioned they had had sex but it just slipped out. Now she was yelling, calling him a cheater and a bunch of unflattering things. His head was hurting, he couldn't think and suddenly a hard drink didn't seem so bad. Suddenly the shouting was cut short. Shaking his head minutely Tony realised Steve Rogers had stepped between him and Pepper. Literally shielding the engineer with his body. Emitting a feeling of power without being threatening.
"I think that is enough, miss Potts", the soldier said mildly, arms crossed. "I watched this for longer than I should have. Can't you see how much you have hurt him?"
"I have a few choice words for you as well, Rogers", Pepper growled. "You slept with my boyfriend."
"Did I? A man you had thrown to the side, again? I made love to a man I care about. A man that deserves to be loved."
"Taking a break is not a break-up!"
"Then what is it? Why has it always been Tony who had to bend? You didn't care enough to stay with him, talk to him and be there for him but you still refused to let go of him! You can't keep doing this to him. I won't let you!"
"Let me? Do you know who I am?"
"Yes, miss Potts. You are a person who I'm sure once loved Tony very much and maybe even still do. But that isn't enough. Not when I have had to carry him to bed because he had drunk himself into a stupor, because of you. More than once." Steves voice turned gentle. "I love him, Pepper. All of him. And I'm not letting go of him. Not this time."
Pepper looked like she wanted to slap the soldier but seemed to think better of it. Instead she turned on her heels and stormed off. The blonde spun slowly, looking at Tony.
"I can fight my own battles, you know." Why did he say that? He was really happy Steve defended him.
"I know", a warm hand came up to cup his face. "I wouldn't have stepped in if it wasn't for the fact that you looked to be on the verge of a breakdown. I couldn't allow that."
"She's scary when she is angry you know..."
"So are you. More importantly, so is Jarvis."
Fuck. He really did get him didn't he. The soldier held out his arms. Inviting, not forcing. Feeling vulnerable all of a sudden Tony stepped into the embrace. Eager to feel sheltered. It was so warm. Safe. The hold being gentle yet so... steady. Firm. Sturdy. He had loved Pepper. He really had. But... Steve was right. It wasn't enough. Held by America's greatest hero, he did feel like it might just be enough.
"It's a bit silly but would you mind kissing me?"
The soldier chuckled and tilted the engineer's face up. "The only silly thing is that you think you need to ask. You will always have permission to kiss me. Always." And then Tony was too busy being kissed into a puddle to say anything else.
A message from Asgard reminded Thor that his visit in Midgard was about Loki's punishment. While the message itself didn't make a single mention of his brother nor the reason for their stay, he still felt a bit anxious. They were simply not deployed very often and that could have a poor effect on the Trickster's path to redemption. He realised he had not kept himself informed of his brother's activities. Often having to go looking for him. No more.
When Loki slipped back into the apartment it was early morning. He still wore the same clothes from earlier the same day. Thor crossed his arms and blocked the way into the Trickster's room. Who raised an eyebrow in question.
"Where have you been?"
"Have you suddenly become my father, Thor? Or have I reverted back to an erstwhile child?"
"Just answer the question."
"I've been in the workshop, assisting Stark with his latest invention. You can ask him."
"All night? You expect me to believe that?"
"You can ask Stark if you want. Or Jarvis", Loki just shrugged and stood unconcerned. Sighing the Thunderer went up to him and placed his hands on his brother's shoulders.
"This can't go on. You are here as a punishment, not galvanizing and causing chaos."
"I'm the one causing chaos?"
"How else would you explain my shield brothers have become so antagonistic towards me?"
"Have you ever considered that your won actions might be to blame?"
"I'm not the criminal being punished!"
"Of course, I forgot. Perfect Thor, can't do anything wrong. It has to be Loki's fault because Loki is a liar and a Trickster. That is all he is."
"ENOUGH!" Loki actually stopped and just glared at him. Feeling his temper boil Thor stepped aside. "I forbid you from leaving your room for the whole day. You might not do anything beyond the necessary. No reading, no watching movies and no talking. Not even to yourself. No magic either. I will bring you food tonight, until then you may have water."
The Trickster looked furious but went inside, slamming the door shut behind him. For a moment the Thunderer considered telling his comrades about this but decided against it, they were likely to go running down and ruin the punishment. He took no pleasure in this. All he wanted was to have his brother back. It felt like all he had had for the last couple of decades were a stranger. A very angry and unpleasant stranger.
"Come on bird brain. Can't you see it is the right thing to do?" Tony and Bruce had cornered Clint with the hope of persuading him to join them in confronting Thor. They had not seen Loki for three days now and all they had gotten was that he was being "handled". Bruce had his own reasons for wanting to see the Trickster again but he was genuinely starting to get very worried for his wellbeing. Not merely physical but his mental health as well.
"The right thing? The right thing would be to throw Loki's sorry as in the deepest fucking dungeon and then throw away the key", the archer growled. "Just because he had managed to trick the two of you doesn't mean he has tricked me."
"So it was a trick when Thor nearly killed by accident? Twice?" the engineer was obviously agitated by the situation. Which was rather the opposite from how things usually were. Then again, Loki was his friend and someone who could follow along even better than Bruce could.
"So? As you said. It was an accident. Doesn't change anything. If you are so upset, why don't you go talk to Thor yourself?"
"You don't think we have tried? He waves it away or say something about his brother having a silver tongue."
"I don't care, Stark. He mind controlled me! He made me hurt and kill people I care about. He killed Coulson!"
"For all we know Coulson was Hydra!"
"Don't you dare say that! Don't you dare! Coulson saved my life, he saved Nat! So don't you dare try to justify him getting killed!"
"I'm just proving what a hypocrite you are!"
Both Clint and Tony were yelling at the top of their lungs. Thankfully both the bracelet, courtesy of one crafty Trickster, and his own efforts meant Bruce was in no danger of hulking out. Still, better to step in.
"Loki was tortured, Clint. He didn't come here by choice", he said.
"He told you that, did he? The god of lies!"
"He had no reason to lie to me. He really was tortured."
"Good", the archer stood, expression thunderous. "He deserved it. In fact, I hope it happens again." Storming off Barton left the two scientists. Poor Tony looked sick and a bit deflated.
"He didn't mean that", Bruce told his friend. "You know he is struggling really bad with everything."
"I know... it's just... messed up. That's all. Whatever. Steve wanted to take me on a date and I think I will accept his offer."
"So, the two of you are good? No fighting or tension?"
"Surprisingly, yes. Steve is determined to be the perfect boyfriend it seems and honestly, I need it."
"I'm happy for you. You are happier than you have been in a long time."
"I would be even happier if I could make my friend stop bullying his brother... who is also my friend."
"I will see what I can do. Go and have fun with your boyfriend." He was happy for Tony, he truly was. If only he could find a way to help Loki as well.
Four days after the failed confrontation with Clint did Loki emerge. Steve, Tony and Bruce was on the latter's floor when the Trickster stumbled inside. He looked exhausted and his eyes wouldn't focus. To all of their surprise he threw himself down across Banner's lap. Groaning as he did so.
"Well, he is alive..." Tony muttered to Steve who heard the bitter sarcasm. A week was not a lot of time but it was still long enough to worry.
"Loki?" Bruce asked gently. "Is there anything you need?"
"Please tell me you are going to offer me food", the god said. Not lifting his head. "Thor decided I was only allowed to eat once a day."
"But... you told us that you need to eat properly to retain your magic..."
"Do you think Thor gives a fuck? Or even knows enough to do so?"
Fair enough point. Given all the evidence it was obvious the Thunderer was very ignorant about his brother. The soldier glanced at his boyfriend who was busy on his phone.
"Alright, Mischief", the engineer said. "I've ordered a bunch of food. Enough to feed all of us two times over."
"We did try to talk to Thor", Steve said. "He waved us away. Where have you been?"
"My room! Like a petulant child! Everyday he repeated his orders. Don't leave. Don't speak. Don't read or watch TV. Don't do anything but twirl your thumbs and perhaps visit the bathroom. 'This is your punishment Loki', 'I'm not enjoying this Loki', 'This is your own fault Loki'. One of these days I will kill him and be damned the consequences!"
The humans winced. While they understood the sentiment they also knew it was a really bad idea. So did the Trickster.
"You can stab him later", Tony quips. "Food is on its way."
"Good. Don't feel bad about Thor not listening. He barely listen to Odin."
"You do know his behaviour is unacceptable, right", Banner says. "It is borderline abusive."
"Your kindness is appreciated but my brother do have a point. I'm here to be punished, nothing will change that."
"Damn it, if only Clint wasn't such an ass!"
"I controlled his mind, Stark. He has no reason to think kindly of me."
Steve watched a pained expression on Tony's face before the engineer stormed to the room nearby. Following he saw his boyfriend looking distraught. Immediately he drew the other into his arms. Holding him gently.
"I got you. I got you", he murmured. "You will be okay."
"Maybe I will be but my friend out there is being beaten down and I can't help him. What happens when Loki is pushed too far?"
"I don't know but I know we can be there for him."
"Always got an answer, mister Perfect..."
"I'm not perfect, Tony. I've never been. I'm pretty sure you would be terrified by some of the things that has crossed my mind. Several of them involving you."
"Let me guess, bending me over a bench in the workshop and have your wicked way with me?"
"...that is some of the milder things... yes..."
The engineer chuckled. "I'm not terrified. Our minds can cook up any number of things. What matters is if we act on them. You had me at your mercy and you still made certain I was on board with the whole thing. That's the difference between a good man and a bad one."
"I was fairly drink though..."
"Just proves my point even more."
They smiled at each other. Steve let go of Tony and let his hand cup his boyfriend's face. "I love you, Tony Stark. Never think differently."
"You know, I might love you too." The cocky grin did nothing to turn the soldier away. He planted a kiss of the engineer's lips. One that quickly grew deeper.
"I don't think it is appropriate to have sex here", Loki shouted from the other room. "That's Bruce's study."
Laughing the two heroes joined their friends. Sometimes you had to hold on to what you got.
He had relented on Loki's punishment after Banner expressed concerns about his food intake being too low. Of course Thor didn't want his brother to starve. Begrudgingly he accepted that locking the Trickster in his room wouldn't do anything for his redemption. It was quite fascinating seeing his shield brothers coming to the defence of the god of mischief. That had never happened before.
"Brother", he halted the younger. "I'm curious about your relationship with the Avengers. Especially Banner, Stark and Rogers."
"They are my friends, you dolt. Is that hard to grasp?"
"Truly? That's wonderful!"
"Now you believe me", Loki muttered and glared at him.
"What about the Widow or Barton?"
"Agent Romanoff and I... have an understanding."
"Did you really expect us to become friendly? After what I did to him?"
"He is still hostile towards you? That can not stand. Something has to be done."
"No. No, it doesn't. Just leave it alone."
Ignoring his brother Thor started thinking of ways to endear the archer to the Trickster. Something that would be very appreciated. He then had a brilliant idea.
"I know! You should go and show Barton a sign of good will!"
"Thor..." why did Loki look so worried? It was an excellent idea.
"You should show him why you have earned the moniker Silvertongue. Surely he can't hate you after you have pleasured him."
"Thor... please don't..."
"Hush little brother. Now go pleasure Barton with that mouth of yours and make certain you do it well! You won't speak a single word."
Loki turned in his heels and left.
Clint was sitting on his sofa, reading, when the door opened. Thinking it was Nat he put the book down and looked over his shoulder. It wasn't Natasha. Head downcast and black hair hiding his face Loki was walking slowly towards the archer. Almost jerkingly. Considering that the god had actually stayed out of his way made this quite odd. Ironically the Trickster seemed to be the one understanding Clint's emotions best. Not taking his eyes of the god the archer watched him round the sofa and kneel between his legs. What was going on? Surely the guy knew he couldn't win the agent over with some tear filled performance.
He was not prepared for Loki to reach out and unbuckle his belt and unzipping his jeans. Once he caught on he grabbed the thin wrists.
"What the fuck do you think you are doing?" Mind still reeling Clint watched as Loki raised his head slightly. Tears had left raw tracks down his cheeks and the eyes were red. A look of utter despair was etched into the otherwise dangerously handsome features. Mind screeching to a halt the archer wanted to be wrong. Surely it couldn't be... "Loki, stop!" He almost yelled. Immediately the god tore his wrists free and threw himself as far away from Clint he could possibly come. Breaking down in sobbing, curling in on himself while shaking.
"Fuck!" the archer got to his feet. He didn't want to believe this, he really didn't. Yet, the proof was overwhelming. Loki having a breakdown, the cancellation of orders. Thor's had literally tried to force his brother into giving the human a blowjob. Something the dark clearly had not wanted to do. "Fuck."
He couldn't stay. Fleeing his own floor he rushed into the elevator, snapping at Jarvis to bring him to the others. Justice was one thing. Loki deserved justice and maybe Clint had gone too far when blurting out the god deserved torture. But this. This was sexual abuse. He just happened to be the collateral. If Thor didn't realise the consequences of what had just had happened... then all the other things he had done... was possible abuse as well.
Stepping out on the common floor he was relieved the Thunderer was not there. Facing the blonde god now was not a good idea. The others looked up and took in his probably wild eyes.
"An arrow blew up in your face?" Stark asked.
"Clint?" Natasha asked. "Is everything okay?"
"... someone better get to my floor, Loki is having a meltdown."
"... why is he having a meltdown?" the engineer asked.
"Because I think Thor ordered him to give me a blowjob! Fuck! Fuck!" Running a hand through his hair he really tried to calm down. He didn't succeed. It was top messed up. Banner was on his feet and was nearly running. To Loki or to his Hulk room, either were possible.
"You seriously think that happened?" Nat asked. "Why?" He told them, both Stark and Rogers swore heatedly.
"This is abuse", Clint said. "I still hate the guy but we can't allow abuse to happen right under our noses. We just can't.
I've had a bit of a busy weekend so the chapter took longer than usual. But hey, I got to a really, really good traditional Swedish Christmas buffet and I played with my spelmanslag. Oh, and went to church for first of Advent. Always do that.
This chapter contains events that might be triggering. Please be careful and if you have any worries, read the quick summary at the end of the chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Surprisingly Clint's floor consisted of a lot of open spaces, though when Bruce thought about it made sense. With the man being an archer and all. Not that he spent much time considering this fact. Loki was huddled along a wall, shaking badly and muffled sobs were heard.
"Loki", the scientist called softly as to not startle the god before placing a hand on the trembling shoulder. With gentle movements he guided the raven to his feet and took him to his own floor. He decided to have them sit down in his bedroom since it was less visible from the elevator. No sooner had both sat down before he had his arms full of Norse god, crying. Denial was a powerful thing. For a long time now both brothers had refused to see their situation for what it was. It seemed Loki had just had a rude awakening and everything came crashing down. Wrapping his arms around the taller but thinner man Bruce tried to come up with something to say but drew a blank. What did you tell someone who was suffering like this.
"I can't do this", the Trickster gasped. "I can't do this."
"Shh... shh... you are safe here. You are safe here."
"I... I... no... I."
"It's okay, Loki. No one can hurt you here." At that the god looked up at him. The normally pale face was red from all the crying, the eyes puffy. Green orbs searched for something and then, Bruce was kissed by the god of mischief. Rather than being put off or feeling like he was the butt of a joke, he leaned into the kiss. Brushing his fingers through black hair. He liked Loki. Liked liked. Of course. It all made sense now. The jumbled emotions. Suddenly the god broke off the kiss and closed in on himself.
"I can't... I can't do this..." he said, almost to himself. "I like you, Bruce, I really do. But... if Thor finds out... he... I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
"Hey, hey. Look at me. I get it. I do. Alright? It's okay." Once again he held the god close, letting him cry his heart out. What else could he do?
"Jarv, do you have visual?"
"Yes, sir. My cameras are once more working."
"Good. Don't fry them this time Thunder pants", Tony got down from the ladder, actively avoiding looking at the blonde god. It was uncomfortable, knowing what he did.
"I don't see why the device needed to be fixed", Thor grumbled.
"It's a safety concern. If anything happens visuals will help us respond."
"If you say so. Have you seen my brother?"
"Getting a check-up from Bruce", shortly after they had agreed to confront the Thunderer Barton and Natasha was called away for an important mission. They had decided to wait until they returned and try doing something about the situation in the meanwhile. Like fixing cameras and keeping the brothers apart. Loki was no problem, he leapt at the opportunity to get away. Thor... was being difficult.
"They are spending a lot of time together..." okay, dangerous territory. Diversion strategy.
"All three of us do, we are science bros."
"Stark, you are spending time with the captain. Not Banner and Loki."
"Well, duh. Steve and I are dating. Of course we are spending time together."
"You are? I wouldn't have thought you two compatible. Very well. Tell my brother he needs to return here without delay."
"Because it is getting late and I will not have him wandering around while I'm asleep."
... the two master assassins really had to hurry it up...
He stumbled and fell backwards, hitting his nightstand. It wasn't really a surprise that Thor had gotten physical. In truth, it was remarkable that he had not used actual violence yet. This was nothing more than a shove. A rather hard one but nothing new. Loki was aware it was only a matter of time though. The older had always been predisposed to using his fists to win an argument. Whatever he wanted to see in the Trickster he apparently didn't and his patience was wearing horribly thin.
"Why are you constantly hiding?" the Thunderer grabbed his collar, glaring at the dark god. "I told you, you are being punished! You are not here to make friends!"
"Are only you allowed to have friends then?" Loki demanded. "Am I only good enough when I'm so alone I have no one but you to turn to? When you act like I'm a marionette to move according to your wishes?" The slap stung and Thor shook him angrily.
"Stop doing that!"
"I fear you need to be more specific."
"Enough. I thought the mortals were a good influence on you but obviously I was wrong. You have been worse than ever since coming here!"
"I have been worse? You've nearly killed me twice because if your own carelessness."
"Don't you dare lie to me! You have done nothing right! You couldn't even do such a simple thing as pleasuring Barton, how can you be this useless?"
"Did it even occur to you that neither he nor I wanted to perform that act? Or am I just a tool to you as well? Are you expecting me to do the same to the other Avengers? To Volstagg? Hogun? Fandral? A slave to your whim?"
"Shut up!" This time Loki hit his head when he collided with the dresser. "You will not leave this spot until I say so. When I return we are going to lay down some rules and this time, they will stick."
The door slammed. All alone in his room the Trickster started crying. For so long he had not wanted to examine the relationship between himself and Thor. He still loved his brother but he also hated him. What was going to happen to him now? If the older insisted they leave the Tower... would he? It was possible. A loud smack brought him out of his thoughts, a bottle of pills had fallen down. Picking it up he turned it in his hands. He knew it of course. While being confined to his room he had suffered the same nightmares as before but without a way out. His brother had gotten tired of waking up to Loki screaming. From Shield he had procured sleeping pills. Each night he ordered the god of mischief to take one. They didn't stop the nightmares. Instead he couldn't wake up, not even when he became awake enough to know he was dreaming. A strong muscle relaxant in the pill stopped him from screaming and trashing.
Turning the bottle in his hands he noticed it was nearly full. Thor had likely had it refilled. It had been almost empty before. Smiling he opened it and poured out the content into his hand. Feeling at peace.
They had decided to give Thor the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was a clash of cultures or he simply didn't understand the gravity of his actions. No such luck. Despite facing all five of them the blonde god continued to insist that his actions were justified. It made Bruce feel sick. He had spent hour upon hour trying to support and comfort the Trickster but his mental health was in severe decline. Loki would go from crying his heart out to screaming in rage. Either barely reacting or severly overreacting. It was a dangerous state of mind and the only way to help was to end the abuse.
"No! You are the one who made him do that!" Clint was red in the face, yelling in anger. "He would never had come even close to doing that on his own."
"I'm sorry my brother disappointed you, Barton."
"You are the one who has disappointed me! You are an asshole to your brother!"
It was getting nowhere. Bruce suspected the archer, like himself, had witnessed abuse up close at some point in his life. Both knowing how devastating it was.
"Sir..." Jarvis spoke up.
"Not now, Jarv. Daddy's busy."
"Sir, I insist."
"Unless it is an emergency I don't care", Tony frowned at his A.I.s insistance. A holographic screen opened. "Fuck!" The engineer was on his feet, running before anyone else had time to register what had happened. Moments later Bruce, Steve, Clint and Natasha followed in a dead run as well. They burst out on Thor's floor and into Loki's bedroom. The image on the screen had been horrifying enough. This was worse.
Head lolling the dark god was ghastly pale, clearly unconscious. The empty pill bottle by his side spoke volumes. Tony and Steve was already by the Trickster, gently laying him down. Looking at his breathing and his pulse. Bruce picked up the bottle. The name was not familiar to him so he read the label.
"Sleeping pills... strong enough for a god... Jarvis, do you know how many he has taken?"
"Why would he need sleeping pills?" Tony demanded.
"Because he scream during the night otherwise", Thor stood in the doorway, looking confused. "He blamed it on night terrors."
"So you drugged him?!"
"Thor, how many pills were in this bottle", the scientist insisted.
"It was full this morning. What are you doing with my brother? Has he caused trouble again?"
It was full before? Hearing the Thunderer accuse Loki, who was unconscious and quite possibly dying, made something snap in him.
"GET OUT! I don't want to see your face ever again! I swear if you don't get out right now I will rip you to pieces!"
Shocked Thor obeyed. Leaving quickly.
"I've called Shield", Nat said. "They will be here with the medjet soon."
"They better hurry up", Steve said as he pressed down on the dark god's chest. "I'm the only thing keeping his heart beating right now." The soldier had a calm voice but they all saw the tears in his eyes. Loki was dying, by his own hands, and it was terrifying.
Loki makes a suicide attempt by swallowing a whole bottle of sleeping pills. He is dying but help is on the way.
The heart monitor was beeping steadily. It had been touch and go for a while. Then Loki's magic had managed to burn through the chemicals, narrowly saving his life. Without intervention he would have died. All the human Avengers was guarding his room on the helicarrier. The aircraft had had all weapons disabled and was used primarily as an emergency plattform. Aiding in natural disasters or after great battles. It was therefore well equipped to deal with medical issues. Steve stood in the doorway, keeping an eye on the corridor. Not guarding against any of the agents but against one man in particular. He saw him approached and immediately blocked his way.
"You not getting anywhere near him, Thor", the soldier said. "This is your fault. We hoped to resolve it, make you see sense but we can't allow this to keep happening."
The god of thunder looked both guilty and angry. There was a reason Steve was the one out here and not, let's say, Tony. Banner could also have worked but he didn't leave Loki's side. Thor couldn't just barrel his way through.
"Captain... you don't understand. Loki's punishment was to make reparations to Midgard. I've simply kept him under controll."
"He has been nothing but amenable and cooperative. Which is more than I can say about you. Twice you have nearly killed. That's not an exaggeration, it's a fact. This time he tried to kill himself. Because of you."
"No. We stood by because we feared interfering with his punishment would make things worse. Well. This is worse. You have been abusive towards your brother. You have hurt him and broken him. No more."
"And you are not staying in the Tower anymore either", Tony said, joining them. "You either get your things while we are still here or I will burn them. You are not getting anywhere near Loki. If you can get All-Daddy to reverse the spell we might allow you to fight with us but until then, we don't want to see your fucking face."
Defeated the Thunderer turned and walked away. Head hanging low. At the end of the corridor he looked over his shoulder as if hoping they might change their minds. When they just glared at him he slumped further and left.
"Is he gone?" Barton asked.
"Yep. I'm having Jarvis monitoring the Tower. Thankfully Thunder pants isn't intelligent enough to be devious. Unlike Mischief."
"He'd take that as a compliment", Bruce muttered from where he sat beside the bed. Holding the comatose god's hand. No questioned it. All of them were feeling quite guilty for not seeing the signs earlier but that wouldn't help anything going forward.
"He would", Nat agreed. "What's our plan now?"
"That's the question, isn't it..." the engineer paced up and down the room. "For starters we get Loki his own floor. No need to have reminders around. More than necessary. His own credit card... anything I'm missing. Are there still possible orders around?"
"No, I took care of that", Banner said. "I think we should wait till Loki wakes up and then ask him. Give him his autonomy back as much as possible."
"That's a solid plan", Natasha nodded. "Nothing complicated and nothing too big. Let's go with that for now."
It was rather late one evening a week after Loki's suicide attempt. Bruce was sitting by his side, again. He didn't want to leave the Trickster alone, he had done that more than enough already. The hand he was holding twitched, immedietly alert the scientist rubbed his thumb against the pale skin. Watching the fluttering of those sorely missed eyes, seeing them slowly opening. Relief flooded him.
"Loki..." he breathed. The god frowned at the harsh light, prompting the doctor to lower them. With the room being dimmer Loki finally opened his eyes fully.
"Bruce?" he whispered. "What happened? Where am I?"
"You are safe."
"Thor... he was angry... I... Did you save my life? Why?"
"Because we care about you, Loki. All of us. I care about you. As for Thor... we won't let him hurt you again."
"He won't listen."
"Loki, we have kicked him off the team. Out of the Tower."
"What?!" the astonishment was actually heartbreaking. Indicating that no one had ever taken the Trickster's side over his brother's. Inside Bruce the Hulk growled, the green beast didn't quite seem to understand the emotions they shared towards the dark god but the urge to protect were the same nontheless.
"We kicked him out."
"Why? He is your friend."
"Is he? He abused you. Would you have taken the whole bottle of pills if he had not been invovled?"
"Most likely not..." Loki looked away, shame on his face.
"Loki, can you please look at me?" Bruce asked kindly and the god obliged. "We don't blame you or think you are weak. All of us have been at a low point, some worse than others. The only ones to blame for this is Thor and us."
"You? But you did nothing..."
"Exactly. You were being hurt and we didn't do anything, allowing you to reach a point where you felt you had no other way out. For that, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you like I wanted."
"Oh, Bruce... you were there. Providing a safe place, an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. You tried to reach my brother, I know that. I also know how stubborn he is."
"Maybe, that doesn't change the fact that I nearly lost you." the scientist smiled softly at the god. "I told you before that I need a very strong connection to feel attracted to another man. That is still true. And I do like you, a lot. When you are feeling better we can see where this might go. If you are interested." Loki gave him an almost shy smile and nodded, squeezing their hands. Tiredness was creeping up on the Trickster, that much was obvious. Being comatose was not the same as being asleep after all.
"Let's talk more in the morning", Bruce promised, petting the black hair. He found it soothing.
"Will you stay with me?" voice small and a bit scared the god of mischief looked at him pleadingly.
"I will stay with you." It was a two-fold promise and Loki heard it, that much was obvious. Smiling again he closed his green eyes and fell into a restful sleep. "I will stay with you."
The Bifrost grew to a rest and Heimdall bowed respectfully. His gaze was, as always knowing, and distant. Thor didn't look at him.
"Please let my father know I need to speak with him", was all he said.
He landed outside the palace and walked to the throne room, as he approached Frigga was leaving. Both paused.
"Mother", he greeted.
"Thor", her tone was unusually cold and she didn't linger to speak with him further. Odd. Still, he shrugged and headed inside. Odin was sitting on his throne, reading a document. His father was beyond some posturing sometimes.
"Ah, my son. Good, this saved me the hassle of summoning you. Heimdall has informed me of the events on Midgard."
"Father, I apologise for failing in my duties. For reasons I do not understand my mortal shield brothers have decided to throw me out from their midst."
"Yes, I'm aware of this. I have to say you disappoint me, Thor."
"Father?" The Thunderer felt almost petulant, he had done his best to reinforce his father's will.
"I had hoped this would provide you with an opportunity to learn some restraint yet you failed to heed your comrades words." Odin put down his paperwork. "It is a pity Loki couldn't even provide you with such a simple service."
"Service? Wasn't Loki brought to Midgard to serve his punishment? And what do you mean with 'opportunity to learn some restraint'?"
"It is your one big flaw, my son. You lack restraint and have a tendency to react without thinking. I was hoping that the mortals might be able to teach you this by showing you when you went too far with Loki."
Thor couldn't understand what his father was saying. This whole thing had been a test? Was that why the humans had been able to null his orders? Head swimming he bid farewell to his king and went in search of his mother. She could usually sort things out for him. He found her in Loki's old chambers, holding a faded green tunic in her hands. He didn't notice the glare he got as he began ranting. About his brother, about his mortal friends and about his father's words. It wasn't until she slapped him that he stopped, feeling shocked.
"Three times, Thor. Three times your brother nearly died and you still can't do anything but blame everyone else except yourself. We thought we had lost him when he fell from the Bifrost and when you have his life in your hands, you almost kill him yourself."
"What? Mother, I don't understand wha..."
"Don't you tell me you don't understand Thor Odinson!" he had rarely heard his mother scream. Seeing her red from anger and tears in her eyes was so jarring he couldn't say a thing. "You choose to ignore your friends' warnings. You choose to ignore your brother's concerns. You choose to order Loki around like he was nothing more than a puppet! You are the reason your brother tried to kill himself."
"I tried to protect him!"
"From what? From what did you try to protect him? The enchantment was not his punishment, defending Midgard was. And he did that, earning the respect of the mortals. And now they are protecting him from you."
"No buts! I nearly lost my son, again, because you, as his brother, refused to listen."
"Your Father no longer care. He made Loki into a tool, a way to teach you a lesson. If his youngest son survives or not is no longer a concern of his. I don't want to see you or speak with you, Thor. Not after I had to watch you push your brother to the point of suicide. I love you but right now, I also hate you."
It wasn't an easy transition back into the Tower for any of them. With all that had happened the place felt haunted. While most of them felt drained and tired Loki was the one affected the most. He would jump at nothing, wake up in the middle of the night from even darker nightmares. Sometimes he refused to eat and other times he would eat so much he became sick. Because his mental health was so poor they ended up having him on suicide watch. Never leaving him alone. Of course Jarvis was able to keep an eye on him but since the A.I. lacked a physical body there was little he could do if the Trickster tried to hurt himself. At least Loki never tried to hurt anyone else or lash out at them. In his mind, they were his only protection against Thor. Who he now feared almost to the point of a phobia.
Out of everyone, the one most successful in calming the god and making him feel safe was Bruce. The Scientist wasn't bothered by this. He allowed the Trickster to sneak into his bed if he had a nightmare. If one of Loki's irrational moments hit he provided a safe place and an ear. It was no secret that the two was growing quite close. Even only Tony was aware of exactly how close.
Blinking at the sharp morning light Bruce became aware of the body next to his own. Allowing himself a small smile he pulled the sleeping god closer and kissed the top of his head. Dark circles under the eyes marred the pale skin, a familiar sight by now. The Scientist had figured Loki had so many mother henning him he could use someone who didn't treat him like he was made of glass.
"I'm here." The Trickster hid his face in the crook of the shorter man's neck in a very adorable way. "Do you want some breakfast?"
"Alright, we can eat something later."
"Mhnf." As the god did on occassion he lifted his head enough to press a kiss to the closest surface of Bruce's skin. Who had taken to answer the gesture with a proper kiss. This always seemed to please Loki who enjoyed even small bits of mischief. Even if both knew this wasn't mischief anymore. Their lips parted and the deity was asleep once more. His mental health was an issue they were not sure how to deal with. Maybe he could use a change of scenery. Tony's Malibu home had been destroyed but the man likely had other houses they could go to for a while. A small vacation. Some recreation and all that. They could all use it.
If Tony could get an answer to one question it would be to know where the heck Steve learnt so many techniques to use in bed. The natural answer was likely the internet, his boyfriend wasn't an idiot after all. Even with their worry for Loki all of them knew they had to take care of themselves as well. Besides, Bruce had it well in hand. With the two being something of an item. Speaking of items.
"Holy screwdriver!" the engineer exclaimed. "Ah, yes!" He had a blonde super soldier who was busy swallowing him down while using an anal plug to open him up. Steve was creative like that. Despite the fact that the blonde could go for several rounds with ease he always paid more attention to Tony, making him into jelly. He panted hard after climaxing, writhing as his boyfriend had replaced the sex toy with his own fingers.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm more than okay, soldier boy. Fuck, I need to give payback one of these days."
"You want to top?"
"Yeah... wait, right now? Nah. Right now I want that glorious member of yours deep in my ass. Making me cry in pleasure."
"I wouldn't mind."
"I know, Steve. Another time. Now, get busy." Tony grinned as Steve chuckled. They kissed. Gentle at first but it quickly grew passionate. Heated. It was a fuck. A hot, sweaty, fuck. No other words could describe what they got up to. At other times they were making love, all sweet and gentle. Other times it was sex, wilder but still passionate. This was a fuck, rough, sloppy and all about a release. Sometimes that was what you needed. No sooner had they both yelled out in completion when the alarm blared, calling for the Avengers. No time for a shower or more than a quick wipe down. Why was this his life?
Hulk liked the Avengers. He got to smash. Today he was smashing many metal men. Not the metal man in red and gold. That was Hulk's friend. Other metal men with no real man inside. They all looked the same. Easy for Hulk. There were many metal men. Like bees in a frenzy. Hulk didn't like bees. Hulk liked to smash. Nearby was Puny God.
Loki. Banner insisted. His name is Loki!
Do not call him that. Ever. He has enough issues as it is.
Puny God Loki?
Just... just don't call him that aloud... remember that without him we wouldn't be able to talk. At all.
True. Hulk knew that. The leather bracelet on his arm was from Puny God Loki. It was bigger on Hulk than on Banner. Hulk liked the bracelet. Coming out was not scary anymore. It was a choice.
Suddenly lightning was raining down. Taking metal men with it. Everyone stopped. Hulk tried to catch the lightning and smash it. Then Thor slammed into the asphalt, cracking it. Beside Hulk Puny God Loki froze.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Tin Man growled. "I thought we made it clear you were off the team!"
"Heimdall informed me you were in need of aid."
"Oh yeah! Sorry to disappoint then, we had in hand. Now scurry back to Asgard."
"Not until I've spoken with my brother."
Oh, no you don't! Banner urged Hulk forward. Hulk didn't quite understand their feelings towards Puny God Loki but he knew Banner was very angry at Thor. So. Hulk smashed. He smiled as the blonde went flying. The others went to deal with the Stupid God and Hulk turned to Loki. Noticing him Puny God blanched.
Gentle, Banner urged. Don't grab him. Hulk growled at the small man but did as told. Carefully he pulled the thin god into his arms. Who first froze and then relaxed. Gently Hulk lifted Loki in the crook of his arm. Holding him protectively Hulk swatted Thor again when he came close.
"No Thor! Hulk smash Thor!"
"You heard the big guy, leave", Tin Man said. "We don't want you here." Defeated the thunder god left. In Hulk's arm Puny God Loki relaxed.
"Thank you", he murmured and kissed Hulk on the cheek. Hulk might not understand his and Banner's emotions but he liked Loki and didn't want Loki hurt. That was good enough.
"Looks like Bruce has some competition", Tony quipped as he watched the Hulk carry around his charge. No one was allowed close to the green giant.
"I think they can work it out", Steve said and chuckled. "Are you alright? It looked like a tight spot for a while."
"I'm totally fine, Cap. In fact, I'm so fine I might just have a go at your ass. Because that's a fine piece of real estate."
"Is that so?" The soldier was smiling. "Well, we need to clean up first. We have a few hundred doombots littering the streets."
"Ugh. Fine. Let's do this."
Halfway through the clean-up journalists had started to arrive. It was a hot day and his suit had taken a hit to the cooling system. Loki, of course, had already bolted before he risked a heat stroke. Pausing in loading up a bot Tony wished he could do the same. No such luck. Steve handed him a bottle of water.
"The crew is here. We can leave in a bit."
"Oh, thank goodness", downing the water the engineer tried to ignore the gathering media. Lowering the bottle he noticed that the soldier was looking at him. Eyes strangely clouded. Suddenly Steve grabbed his arm and pulled Tony flush against his body. "Erm... Steve, we sort of have an audience."
"I don't care, let them know you are mine", and then Tony was promptly kissed. Not a chaste little thing either. This was a full on smooch. The bastard tugged in such way that the engineer had to grab the other because he would fall otherwise. Strong arms going around his waist and back. You'd think that was enough but his boyfriend had other ideas. Pausing enough for the brunette to catch his breath he then dove right back in. In plain view of the flashing cameras. This time adding tongue as well. Making Tony go all weak in his legs. For all that they had shared many kisses this was by far the most intense. Being who he was and a former playboy it didn't exactly bother him to be on display like this. But the sheer possessivness the action conveyed was staggering.
Honestly, he was panting harder than he had from the battle by the time his lips was released. A gentle smile greeted him and his temple was kissed. Steve had told him countless times that he loved him. He had just proven the weight of his words.
"Hey!" one brave, or stupid, reporter shouted. "Captain America! When are you two getting married?" It was difficult to say if it was meant as jeering or in support. Regardless the blonde looked over at the young man.
"I don't know, Tony hasn't proposed yet", he said. The fuck? As the two heroes walked away Tony hissed in his boyfriend's ear.
"Who are you and what the fuck have you done with Captain America?"
"I am Steve Rogers", Steve said while grinning. "And I've always been like this." After a moment the engineer grinned as well.
"So. You expect me to propose, huh?"
"Well, I would do it straight away but I know you wouldn't like that."
"You... you would be willing to marry me?"
"Not 'would be willing'. I am willing. Heck, if you wanted I would march right up to city hall this very instant and demand they marry us. I love you, Tony."
Tony actually blushed. He had not been aware he could still do that. A part of him wanted to say "Fuck it, let's get hitched!" but a different and much louder part screamed that he always failed at relationships. Breaking up as boyfriends would be bad enough. Getting a divorce? It would crush him.
"Hey", Steve's voice brought him out of his mind. "I told you, I will wait for as long as you want. Even if that is forever. All I want is to be with you. I don't need to marry you to stay with you until the end."
Damn. The guy was smooth. Stopping Tony grabbed his boyfriend's face and pulled him down to his lips. He was a coward. But he actually dared to start hope that this time it would work out.
Bruce was doing his usual post-battle meditation when Loki sat down beside him. Cold fingers slipping underneath his shirt. For some reason the god had a bit of a fascination with his rather doughy body. Unlike all the other Avengers he was decidedly not physically fit. Up until recently, more than moderate exercise ran the risk of him hulking out. You wouldn't think that a deity with carved muscles would be into an honestly chubby body. Yet, the Trickster definitely was. Almost massaging the giving flesh underneath his fingers. Not pressing or causing discomfort. Just letting his hand feel the chubbiness.
"You know", the god purred. "I think I discovered something about Hulk today."
"Hmm? Amd what was it?" Bruce relaxed into the touch of the curious hand.
"You remember that you told me about people who do not feel sexual attractions?"
"Asexuality. Yeah, I remember. Why?"
"Well, see, what I figured out is that while you are not asexual, Hulk most certainly is. I suspect he can feel romantic love towards someone but not sexual arousal."
"That... that does actually makes kind of sense", opening his eyes the scientist looked at the raven. "I have never thought about it before. How did you figure it out?"
"It's in the eyes, Bruce. When you look at me, I see desire. A need. A want. It is what encourage you to earn to touch and be touched. Hulk didn't look at me like that. He shares your emotions to a degree but not your desires."
"Oh..." speaking of desires. The kneading hand was getting to him. Which was not something he usually enjoyed but something about the way Loki was touching him... it made him very into it. "Mind me asking a question?"
"No?" The god moved even closer, his other hand started playing with Bruce's hair. "You can ask?"
"Why... that... um... why are you so fascinated by me being chubby?"
"Chubby", the Trickster chuckled. "On Asgard there is no such thing as chubby. The fatest man I have ever seen is Volstagg and he is still one of the strongest warriors. On par with my brother. Some elders who no longer fights regularly might loose some of their muscle. But a man in his prime? Whose true strenght is his mind? I have never seen such thing before."
"So... it is something new and therefore curious?"
"Ah, my sweet doctor", Loki purred and came even closer. The hand on his stomach travelled down and slipped under his waistline. Making him jump. "I enjoy it because it is you. It is a part of you. That's what matters."
Okay. Yeah. He could accept that. Not that he minded the curiosity of a god who was used to physical perfection. It was actually quite flattering. Bruce found it hard to focus as that determined hand found its target. He knew Loki had a long way to go before he had recovered. Before he would be able to let down his guard. Which made moments like this, when he took initiative, all the more precious because of how much trust it showed. Falling back against the sofa he let himself give into the pleasure fully. A warm chuckle in his ear.
So I bought myself a hair trimmer during Black Friday. It arrived today. Let's just say it is a good thing I enjoy having really short hair. But hey, I saved a lot of money and won't need to go get a haircut.
Tony being Tony figured that the Avengers in a vacation home was still the Avengers in a house. He was all for taking a vacation however, especially in the wake of the backlash from the public. Thor being kicked out, Hulk protecting Loki and, of course, Iron Man and Captain America making out in the street. The last one especially seemed to enrage people. Even groups who were normally all for progressivness was not happy. At least in the USA. Other parts of the world had very different opinions.
"So", Tony said while going through his e-mails at the hotel breakfast buffet. His solution had been to simply find a nice spa-hotel and then booked the whole thing. The owners certainly didn't complain. All rooms and facilities paid for yet having only six guests? They loved it. "Apparently the Swedish prime minister is congratulating us, Steve. Saying we are role models for future generations and should be celebrated for breaking stereotypes. On television nonetheless."
"That's very kind of him", the soldier said.
"Probably juat politics but get this, the Swedish archbishop is also supporting us. Saying God loves everyone equally."
"Depends on which god", Loki noted. "Although, maybe we all should just move to Sweden? They seem more tolerant."
"You would like that wouldn't you", Clint quipped. "Your old stomping ground. With all the Vikings."
"Viking is a verb, Barton, not a noun. And yes, I would very much like to visit Eastern Aros again someday."
"Wait, Viking is a verb?"
"Certainly. It was something you did, not something you were. Going Viking, as in going on a raid ir similar. You should be impressed with the Old Norse. For their time they were actually fairly progressive. For one thing, women held rather prominent leadership roles."
"Where is Eastern Aros?" Bruce asked. "I have never heard of if."
"I believe it is called Uppsala nowadays. East and Western Aros are old names for two cities in Sweden. In terms of importance they were on par with Birka. Especially East Aros as it was the centre of Odin's cult."
"Remind me that we need to go visit Sweden", Tony said. "I've only been for business and that for a week. Going as tourists sounds fun."
"Maybe close to Christmas? I've read there is a fair bit going on during December in Sweden", Natasha said. "I for one would love to see the famous giant Yule Goat."
"Isn't that the one they burn every year?"
"It is not supposed to be burned, Stark. It is actually considered arson."
"Yule in Scandinavia", Loki mused. "I like it."
"No burning giant goats."
"I'm the god of mischief. Not the god of doing stupid shit. What do you take me for, Stark?"
"If he did anything it would make it talk or sing Christmas carols", Bruce said.
"That's actually a pretty good idea. I had not thought of that. Thank you dear."
"Please don't give him ideas", Barton groaned.
"Are we going to ignore the fact that Loki just called Bruce 'dear'?" Tony asked to no one in particular.
She wasn't prepared to find Loki reclining on a leisure seat with a facial mask while sipping juice. He, just like herself, were dressed in a soft robe. The upper part had slipped somewhat, revealing the god's chest. Natasha found herself looking. Normally the Trickster covered himself almost completely. Hiding his physique. While Thor was the definition of beefy Loki was just as muscled. There didn't seem to be any fat whatsoever on his body. His muscles were sleeker and probably favoured endurance rather than explosive power. Not unlike herself. Her gaze wandered downwards, noticing well defined abs. Was that a six pack or an eight pack? Even his legs were more exposed than usually, showing the same lithe yet strong muscles.
"Have you looked your fill, agent Romanoff?" the god asked, catching her off guard.
"You know", she said, trying to sound unaffected. "I'm starting to think I should be envious of Bruce rather than the other way around."
Loki picked off the slices of cucumber on his eyes to look at her. Expression amused. "Why, if I didn't know any better I'd say you are attracted to me, agent Romanoff. But that is certainly not the case."
"I'm not made of stone. You have an attractive body, certainly. Your personality on the other hand is anything but."
He laughed and replaced the cucumber. "Look if you want, agent. I'm a god. We are meant to be worshipped."
"According to Steve there is only one god, you know." Natasha waved over one of the spa attendants and sat down on the other recliner. "That doesn't bother you?"
"Depends on your definition of a god. If you mean beings with extraordinary powers and abilities that goes beyond simple superpowers, then there are plenty of gods in the universe. If you mean an all powerful being that is omnipotent and eternal, then Rogers idea might hold water. There are many gods and celestials in the universe, myself included. But we are not eternal. We live and we die. While alive we tend to fill certain roles and represent ideas and ideals."
"What ideas do you represent?"
"Why don't you tell me what you think?"
Natasha pondered the question while the cool face mask was applied to her skin. What kind of ideas and ideals would Loki represent? He was the god of mischief, the Trickster and a deceiver.
"I think you represent the idea of freedom", she said. "The questioner of authority and challenger of status quo. Who draws out the uncomfortable truths and refuse to conform to others' standards. You are the ideal of freedom without consequences."
"Hmm. Interesting. You do know I've been punished for all the things you've just said?"
"I'm not surprised. Not because I think you deserved it but because people who oppose freedom and don't want to be exposed tend to punish those who seek freedom."
"'Freedom is life's great lie'."
"You know, that should have been a clue to your situation if we had known more about you and your 'role'. An agents of absolute freedom would never call freedom a lie."
"To be fair, you had highly inaccurate myths to work from. I most certainly don't have children. I'm more careful than that."
"Do Thor have children?"
"Im not sure, to be honest. But he was always more reckless than I am and more free with his affections. It wouldn't surprise me if he had a hoard of illegitimate children running around. There might even be some Scandinavians with him as their ancestor. He would carouse with the mortals of the Old Norse. Especially the women."
"Do you want children?"
"One day, maybe. If I find the right partner and we feel comfortable with the idea."
They both fell quiet after that as some idle staff came over and started pampering them. She had to hand it to Tony. This was a great idea.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Loki. I'm sure." They were alone in Bruce's hotel room. He was sitting on the bed naked and wearing a blindfold. Loki was still rather vulnerable and the scientist wanted to prove to the god that he trusted him. Thus the blindfold. The others would likely call him various degree of crazy if they knew but wasn't worried. He had told the Trickster he was free to do anything he wanted because he trusted that Loki would never hurt him on purpose. While an exercise in trust he was definitely feeling excited for completely different reason. Not being able to see created suspense that made him all the more eager.
A hand closed around his member, moving in gentle but sure strokes until it stood hard and proud. The hand left and he heard the sound of a jar opening. Something was then coated on his dick. Whatever it was it was thick, it felt kind of sticky but also smooth. Kind of like peanut butter but smoother. There was also a sweet smell in the air. Loki avoided applying whatever it was to the head of Bruce's member. Which was probably a good thing. Yeast infections wasn't something only women had to worry about.
He was so not prepared for the warm tongue caressing the sensitive head before moving down. Licking, mouthing and carefully scraping his teeth against the tender skin Loki had excellent technique. The god obviously knew what he was doing and the substance he had used was licked off. Bruce let out a moan. His sex life had always been pretty vanilla but it shouldn't have been a surprise that the thousand year old god was into some more kinky stuff. And some food play was pretty tame all things considered. Slim, cool hands were busy too. Wandering his skin and massaging his thighs.
Interestingly the Trickster never throated. Never sucked Bruce's member down completely and used far more pleasurable movements instead. Slowly pushing the scientist towards his release, controlling the tempo completely. When he was finally allowed to come the orgasm was intense and of hand stroked him until he reached the edge between feeling good and feeling uncomfortable. Only then did the god seem to step back. Moments later the blindfold was removed. Blinking against the light he was a widely grinning Loki. Who had something brown around his mouth. There was a jar on the floor.
"Nutella?! You used Nutella", he exclaimed.
"Mmm... do you mind?"
"No, no. Just... kind of surprised. I didn't picture you as someone who enjoy food play."
"Only in this context. On Asgard there is a fruit that's when boiled becomes similar to jelly. I've found it... fun... to use in this way. But I couldn't find anything similar here on Midgard so I improvised."
"It was a test", Bruce realised. "You tested me. To see if I would really let you or not."
"Does that upset you?"
"No", he shook his head. It was so... Loki that he couldn't do anything but smile and lean in for a kiss. Because he was prepared for the honestly rather gross taste from a fellatio he accidentally recoiled when a minty taste met him instead.
"Magic, my dear doctor. It can do many things", Loki had a huge grin and tackled Bruce to the bed, kissing him. "Thank you. For... everything."
Deep tissue massage was one of the best things invented since the forties. Steve groaned as knots in his muscles gave away under the insistent pressure. Some of them felt like they had been there forever. Before the ice, even. The masseuse was a fairly massive guy with big muscles but his hands were steady and gentle. Expertly finding the right spots.
"Having fun, Cap?" Tony's voice drifted from above. Sounding thoroughly amused.
"Oh, this is gold." The engineer giggled but it didn't matter. He was feeling way too relaxed. "That good, huh? Hey, Biggy, what's he having?"
"Deep tissue massage", the masseuse replied. "I think Ronda is available, you can ask her."
"We are the only peeps in the hotel, I'm pretty sure she is not occupied."
Later the two of them enjoyed a quiet drink out on the patio, the sun warming. Steve was admittedly very relaxed and felt really good. Tony seemed a bit restless but that was normal. They had all agreed that phones were only allowed during breakfast when most of them were still half asleep. Even if it meant that the engineer figetted a lot.
"Maybe you should take up a hobby", the brunette opened his mouth but the soldier anticipated that. "That is not inventing."
"What else am I suppose to do? It's not like you have a hobby either."
"I do, actually."
"Oh? What is it?"
"I enjoy drawing. Before the war I was an art student."
"Really? Now I want to see it. Art by Captain America."
Steve laughed and moved closer to the other, placing an arm around his shoulders. "I'm not a great artist. It is simply something I enjoy. That's all."
"... you sure are smooth, huh?"
"You just casually put your arm around me."
"I'm not 'smooth', Tony. I used to be hopeless when it came to women. And men, well, it was outlawed. Peggy would tell me I knew nothing about women."
"Peggy Carter, huh. You know, my dad spoke of her sometimes. Though I had no idea she founded Shield. He would tell stories of his youth and the crazy things he got involved with. One time he got accused of stealing his own inventions."
"Why would he steal his own things?"
"The SSR assumed he was selling it. He asked Peggy to become a dubble agent and apparently her poor treatment by her fellow agents prompted her to agree."
"I'm guessing things turned out alright."
"Yep. She proved her male colleagues what a badass she was and saved the day. Was she just as badass when you knew her?"
"More, in my opinion", he smiled and pictured Peggy on that first day of camp. Her assured posture, clear voice and how she had decked a rude soldier. "One time, I had pissed her off and she shot at me. You can still see the marks on my shield."
"No way, I thought Dad had made that up. Wow. Wait... did you really think fondue was..."
"Let's be honest, Howard probably meant it as an innuendo."
"Heh, sounds like Dad alright."
"Tony, you know you don't have to try so hard to be like him, right? In fact, you don't have to be like him at all." He could see the pain sometimes, in Tony's eyes, when someone mentioned his father. One of his biggest regrets was having compared father and son during their initial meeting.
"You are smooth. Smooth as silk", the engineer smirked and kissed him. "Speaking of silk, want to try the silk sheets on my bed?"
"You are... so you... and I love you."
"Heh, you know what? I just might love you too."
Steve shook his head and kissed his boyfriend. Feeling warm even in the dying light.
Thor was, for a lack of a better word, moping. His mother refused to talk to him and his father seemed completely undisturbed by the fact that Lokinwas running around Midgard without supervision. The old man had even started to mutter something about a "decent match", whatever that meant. After having been turned away, again, the Thunderer was forced to accept that his mortals friends didn't want anything to do with him. All because of his brother. Why couldn't they see he had tried to help the Trickster? Who had always been so wild and defiant. Surely it couldn't be bad to expect him to follow some rules? Right?
Sighing, Thor watched the training grounds from a small hill nearby. He had not joined in a while, suddenly finding the Asgardian way of fighting strangely heavy handed and ineffective. After all, he had seen Romanoff take down men two or three times her size using their own strenght against them. Kind of like how Loki had always fought... and Barton lived up to his kenning of Hawkeye. Never missing his target, it was remarkable to be honest. The only marksman the Thunderer had known to be of equal skill was his brother. And the two of them had centuries of training. Barton had a few decades.
Then there were Captain Rogers who, despite being almost Asgardian in strenght, relied more on tactics than on his strenght. ...just like Loki. Stark was almost a sorcerer in his suit, a technological marvel. And his intelligence was something to behold. Few could match it. Banner, certainly. When he wasn't a green monster smashing things. Other than that only... only his brother had the same level of intelligence...
By the Norns. No wonder the mortal Avengers had liked the god of mischief so much. He mirrored them all, in some way or another. In fact, he was more similar to them than Thor himself. Even the Captain had started out as weak and sickly. Only Midgardian ingenuity had changed that. They had adapted their fighting to suit them, not adapted themselves to their fighting. Unlike most of Asgard who all aimed at the same standards. Except for...
"Thor!" A familiar voice called. Up the hill came his four most loyal friends. The one calling him were Sif. With a pang of guilt he realised he had not spoken to them since his return.
"Friends", he greeted.
"Is it true?" she asked. "That the mortals turned you away?"
"Aye, they were angered by what they perceived were unjust treatment of my brother."
"You mean his jealousy of you caused him to turn the mortals against you?"
"No..." Thor frowned at her, frankly, rather hasty conclusion. There had been no magic and separating his brother from the Avengers had only fuelled their anger. He still couldn't understand why they were so angry but he was starting to accept Loki had little to do with it. There was also his attempted suicide to consider. "Why do you immediately jump to it being my brother's fault? He was under an obedience spell. All I had to do was telling him he wasn't allowed to talk."
"Silencing Loki?" Fandral asked, a crooked smile on his lips. "I can't imagine him appreciating that. He has always used his words as both a tool and a weapon."
"Aye", Volstagg agreed. "That silvertongue of his has gotten us out of many scuffles. Never tell him I admitted that though."
"I don't like Loki", Hogun admitted. "But taking away his words would be similar to taking Mjolnir from you. Maybe the mortals had a point? In your treatment being unjust?" This was a surprise. Thor had not been aware that the Warriors Three held such opinions about his brother. Both the fact that at least two of them actively disliked his brother and that they despite this would be willing to defend the Trickster. Only Sif scoffed.
"Don't be ridiculous. His clever words have caused as much damage as they have prevented. If anything, him losing his words would be a good thing. Preferably forever."
"Sif", the blonde warrior chided. "Loki is still our prince and Thor's brother. We haven't always treated him like we should but there is no need for open disrespect. Why don't you tell us of some incidents when the mortals seemed particularly upset with you? Maybe we can offer some perspective?"
"A good idea", the Thunderer agreed. "There was this one time..." and he told them about three times that stood out, not mentioning the attempted suicide.
"Let's see... the first time, Loki ended up with mortal healers and they refused to let you see him?"
"Aye, they seemed to think I would harm him."
"Thor", Hogun spoke softly. "Did you see Loki do magic during the battle?"
"He did use it, yes. Mostly illusions it seemed. Oh and he stopped debris from falling on civilians. Last thing he was supposed to do was cleaning up the streets, restoring it. Why?"
"I'm no sorcerer but Vanaheim is full of them. I've been told many time that using magic on physical objects is exhausting for both the mind and the body. If you push past your limits your heart can literally burst. It sounds to me like your brother had pushed that limit in the battle. Furter use of magic would have been dangerous. I can see why the mortals were angry with you if you ignored this."
The Thunderer stared at his grim friend. He was wearing the same expression of disapproval he had seen on the Avengers. Surely he had not put his brother's life in danger. Right? Except... Loki had ended up in a hospital and was supposedly unconscious for several days.
"Then there were an incident as you went to visit your mortal lady", Volstagg mused. "Did you give him an order before you left?"
"I told not to move a muscle but it wasn't meant literally..."
"Norns..." Sif murmured, her face becoming pale. "Thor... that's not how obedience spells work. Those are not meant to infer meaning or intention, they are meant to enforce any command given. With orders like that... the spell would try to force all his muscles to obey."
"Oh Thor", the female warrior bit her lip. An expression of regret ghosted over her face. "The heart is a muscle... you literally ordered his heart to stop."
"And the last one..." Fandral shook his head. "I'm sorry my friend but you effectively ordered a rape. Even if this archer had been willing Loki clearly wasn't. I'm not surprised the mortal was angry with you. I wouldn't want to be part of a rape either, even if it was by someone else's influence."
It was someone had punched him in the stomach. Like the Hulk had punched him. He was beginning to feel ill. The words were familiar he realised. Because he had been told the same thing by his mortal friends. Only then, he had refused to listen.
"I'm surprised Loki didn't end up doing something drastic", Hogun said. "He already has a history of attempted suicide when things spiralled out of control. I can picture him plunging a knife into his chest if pushed too far."
There had been no knives near Loki. Thor had made certain of it. He had only been allowed his weapons during a battle. Not out of fear that his brother would use them on himself but because he didn't want the Trickster to use them on him. Ironically it seemed this saved his life. Because the pills didn't kill him immediately. A knife or, worse, a dagger could have killed him in an instant.
Still... it looked like the only reason his baby brother had tried to kill himself in the first place was because Thor had pushed him to it. Anguish filled the god of thunder who rushed to his feet, fleeing his friends. What had he done? What had he done?
It had been the right decision to encourage Thor's companions to talk to him. Frigga was pleased to see that her oldest was finally facing his own actions. While she was angry at Odin for placing her boys in such a position in the first place it was undoubtedly her oldest that had actually caused the damage. Her youngest had taken to cloak himself now that he was no longer being compelled to act in ways unnatural to him. Still, her weaving had let her know that someone special had made his way into Loki's heart. Which was quite the accomplishment. It would have to be someone with patience and a lot of compassion to get past the Trickster's walls. Who was likely discovering how protective her boy could be of those he let inside. Not possessive, that was not his nature. But protective. Loyal. Fiercely so. Once, Thor had held that spot in his brother's heart. As had Odin. Both had through their own actions thrown away that love and loyalty.
Turning from the window the queen of Asgard called for a handmaiden. Loki was still under the obedience spell even if the only reinforcer was no longer nearby. Frigga intended to change that. Her son would be free, once and for all.
Topping Steve was an... unexpected experience. It felt good, certainly, and the blonde himself was definitely feeling good. Seeing that he had climaxed three times already. Which made kind of sense. Normally he had to hold back but being the one who was penetrated meant he could just let go. What Tony didn't expect was his own inability to finish. He was more than happy to make his boyfriend feel good and it was quite a sight. Steve on his arms and knees, gasping and pliable from pleasure. Who could take just about anything the engineer threw at him and still looked gorgeous. So why couldn't he finish? He never quite managed to reach that edge. Again, he was more than happy to make his super soldier into a puddle of pleasure. Still... maybe if they switched?
Carefully he pulled out, taking off the condom in the process. That one had been due to habit, seeing that they didn't have to worry about diseases. Steve looked over his shoulder in surprise.
"Is everything okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, yeah. Everything is fine. But... um... would you mind if we... switched? It's just... well..."
"Of course I don't mind", the blonde assured, folding the towel beneath him and dropping it to the floor before rolling them over. Because of course mr. Perfect had insisted on a towel to protect the sheets from naughty juices. As the roll came to a stop the soldier pressed his lips to Tony's, towering over him. Then he went full on assault, going for every sensitive spot on the brunette. Before long they were once again joined but with Steve topping. Groaning the engineer relished in the feeling of being filled. And ohh boy the implications was... troubling? Great? Interesting? Regardless, apparently he had a thing for being fucked in the ass.
As they snuggled, because his boyfriend was a huge cuddle bug, he thought about it. It wasn't an issue that he enjoyed being the bottom. He had not been before but with Steve it just felt right. But obviously, the blonde also enjoyed being penetrated. Tony wanted to give that to him. Very much so. There was no way he could be enough. On his own... however... a toy might do the trick.
"Never took you for a kink", Loki looked around the space. Stark had several phallic looking objects surrounding him. Picking one up the god almost laughed at how ridiculously thick it was. "Rogers' too small for you?"
"Laugh all you want McGonagall, I'm trying yo do something nice."
"By making phallic objects?"
"They are sex toys", the inventor turned back to selection in front of him. "And I'm trying to find something for Steve. Not instead of him."
"Ah, I see."
"I might actually be of some help."
"Er... no offense but you don't paint me as someone interested in sex toys. Or any kink really."
"Is that so? Maybe you should ask Bruce about Nutella. You know where to find me if you change your mind." Grinning to himself Loki swept out of the small lab, ignoring the aghast look on Tony's face. And the shouted:
"What the heck did you do to Nutella? Loki? Loki!" Ah, he loved mischief. He didn't sense her until he had already closed the door to his floor. Turning he could barely believe his eyes.
"Mother", he choked. Frigga smiled warmly and let him walk into his arms. At that moment he felt like a small child again. "What are you doing here? Is something amiss."
"Beyond me nearly losing you, again?" she said. "No, nothing is amiss. I have little time Loki."
The Trickster nodded and led her to the sofa, sitting down. Holding her hands, smelling her scent. Seeing her. There were no words to describe how much he had missed his mother.
"Please Mother, tell me."
"So impatient", she mused and then got serious. "I'm here to lift Odin's spell on you so no one may have you under their command."
"He has approved of this?"
"No... I won't defend your father. What he has allowed is vile. But I will say this. He harbours you no ill will. As far as he is concerned, you are free. Any action here on out is your own."
"Which is why you feel confident in breaking his spell."
"Indeed. I'm sorry, Loki. Complacency have hurt you just as much as the actual abuse. Even if I do believe Thor might finally realise his own actions."
"That's a miracle... mother... I've realised that the only person responsible for ones action is oneself. The only thing I wished you had done differently would be not allowing Odin to lie to me."
"I'm not saying you are wrong, Loki, but remember one person's actions are followed by another. You are often the product of others thoughts and behaviours. Taking responsibility is important but you most also see when you are taking blame that do not belong to you." Her words hit close to his heart. So used to receiving the blame he had started to think he always had the blame. "Now, I want to know all about this mortal of yours."
"Which one?" Loki said cheekily, earning a light smack to his head. Relenting he smiled. "His name is Bruce Banner..."
Before Frigga left she kept her word and lifted the spell on her son. Including the glamour placed on his as a child. He grimaced at the sight of his blue skin but realised she did it so he could create his own glamour if he choose. Giving him the choice.
"Thank you, Mother. I love you."
"I love you too, son. Be careful and please, don't make anymore attempts on your life. It nearly broke my heart. Both times."
"I... I will try... there are good people around me..."
"That's all I'm asking."
Then, he was alone. Looking at his blue skin he placed his usual glamour on top. All he associated with his Jotun skin was suffering but maybe he could change that. There were no reason for the Avengers to think differently of him because of it. Not when Hulk was on their team. Speaking of the Hulk, Bruce would undoubtedly be both accepting and fascinated by his true appearance. Suddenly he wanted that. To see his lover light up with curiosity and interest. Knowing that no matter what, his human wouldn't think any differently about him.
"Jarvis? Where is Doctor Banner?"
The best way to describe Loki in his Jotun form was gorgeous. His blue skin had a surprisingly warm hue to it and the red eyes reminded him of jewels rather than blood. After they tested how his freezing powers worked they concluded he would only cause frost bites if he choose to or felt threatened. Which made sense, actually. Bruce had probably given the god a small shock when he had kissed him. Tracing the ridges forming swirls across the azure body.
"You desire me like this?" the Trickster said incredulously. "I'm a monster!"
"No. No, you are not a monster. Don't you dare think that you are. You, who could see beyond the rage of Hulk and accept both me and him. You, who reached Tony when he was on the bottom. You, who have saved so many lives. There is nothing monstrous about you. So don't you dare think you are one only because you are blue!"
"Oh, Bruce", blue, chill, fingers caressed his cheek. "Neither are you. Nor the Hulk. Thank you." With that the god of mischief bent down and kissed him, combing his fingers through the short brown curls. There was a smell of ice and snow coming from the Jotun. Bruce wanted to taste the skin. So tentatively he kissed the side of Loki's neck, adding just a bit of tongue. A shiver went through the dark god who nonetheless let him continue. He kept kissing and licking the skin in front of him. Followed ridges and listened to the hitched breathing when he reached a sensitive spot.
Finding himself on his knees Bruce decided he might as well go for it. Taking his time he unzipped Loki's jeans, waiting for the hissed "Just do it..." before pulling them down far enough that he could access the godly member in front of him. It was not as huge as he had expected but the Trickster definitely lived up to the idea of a god. Here the smell of ice and snow was even stronger. Beyond one time in his teens the scientist had never given a guy a blowjob. And his teens was many years ago. Still, he was not about to let this opportunity slip. Sliding the stiff lenght into his mouth, hearing the heavy moan and feeling strong hands grip on his shoulders he knew there was no way he was stopping now.
"Bruce", the groan of his name only spurred him on further. A year ago this would have been impossible. But thanks to the man he had come to love, he no longer had to fear his alter ego and didn't have to hold back his emotions any more.
He had not heard or sensed anything until he turned and saw Thor landing on his balcony. Dropping the plate he was holding he backed away, hitting the counter. Even knowing he was safe did nothing.
"Loki..." the Thunderer pleaded. "I wish you no harm..."
"Yo... you are... n... not welcome... here..." the Trickster slid down on the floor.
"I know but please, I've come to apologise." Without asking the oaf entered from the balcony and began pacing back and forth. "I was wrong and has behaved poorly. Without thinking things through. Our friends, that is Sif and the rest, set me straight. You ought to make amends with Hogun and Volstagg though, they spike up for you. Even Fandral was admonishing me. I never intended to push you so far like that."
Stopping Thor stared at Loki who was having trouble breathing properly. He did not want his brother to come any closer. Where was Jarvis? What if the other had managed to disable the A.I. with his lightning.
"Loki... why are you so quiet? I really want to apologize. What can I do to make it up to you?"
The god of mischief let out a choked laugh. Could the oaf really not see it?
"All I would want is proof you have changed", he managed.
"But you haven't. All this and you are still talking about yourself. The only things you've said to me has been to tell me to do things."
"Please... leave... I... I don't hate you, Thor. You are my brother but... I can't do this... if you really care for me, leave me alone."
The blonde god deflated. "I understand. For what it is worth, I'm sorry. And if you ever need me, I will be there." As he turned to leave Loki remembered one thing.
"There is..." he hesitated. "There is one thing you could do."
"Thanos. He is coming and all must be ready."
"Thanos? The Mad Titan? How do you... he sent you?"
"Yes, Thor. He did. If he wins, life as we know it will be over. But there are others who might be willing to fight him."
"I will do everything in my power to stop the Titan! Father needs to be informed of course, then battle."
That was a stupid plan but at least Odin would set his son straight. It was a relief when his brother left. Curling in on himself Loki began to cry. He was so weak.
It was coincidence that he came across the file. He was going through some old Shield documents when he found it. Reading through it he felt anger like never before rise in his throat. Grabbing the folder he stalked to Steve's floor.
"Did you know?" he growled.
"Tony?" the soldier stood from the sofa.
"Did you know that my parents accident wasn't an accident?" Tony watched the blonde freeze, guilt flashing across his face. "What the fuck? What the actual fuck? I trusted you! I let you inside my body and all this time you were lying to me?" By now he was roaring. He was furious.
"You think you can just waltz into my life, pretend to be a good guy and then so this shit? I'm not your freaking whore, Rogers."
"What? What can you possibly say to me?"
"I feared for you." Those four simple words cut through some of his anger. The confusion most have shown. "I feared you were already being pushed to the limit by your relationship with Pepper. There were times I wondered if I would find you dead. I feared that if I told you, you would be pushed over the edge. I'm sorry. I didn't intend to lie to you. After we started dating... I just didn't know how to bring it up..."
"So what. That excuses you for not telling me you buddy killed my mom?"
Steve frowned. "What?"
"The Winter Soldier. That's your buddy isn't it?" Fuck this. I don't want to see your face right now."
"Tony!" The engineer turned to look at the soldier. His heart was aching because part of him wanted to rush into the embrace of that man. "I didn't know it was Bucky. I only knew it was Hydra. I'm sorry. I truly am. I love you."
He couldn't stay. Fleeing his boyfriend he made his way down to the workshop. Worst thing? Tony believed him.
And suddenly the team was a disaster. Loki had gone from being cheeky and mischievous to closed-off, snappy and kind of nasty. Tony was refusing to talk to anyone, especially Steve and Natasha. Which made the female spy annoyed while the super soldier was going nuts with worry. Clint had taken one look at the chaos and fled. Leaving Bruce to try and bring things under control. It didn't take long to learn the reason for Loki's sudden change.
An unwelcome visit from Thor was a legit explanation. The Trickster was aware that his behaviour wasn't very good but couldn't help it.
"No one said it would be easy", Bruce said calmly.
"I don't want you to be my doctor, Bruce. That's not what I need from you."
"Alright... what do you need?"
"My lover. The one who reminds me why he thinks I'm special. Why I matter."
That, he could do. The scientist hugged him and cuddled with the god. Telling him everything that made him special. Everything that made Bruce love him. To be honest, it was a relief. Being able to simply be there for someone.
The other three... were more difficult. In the end he asked the Trickster if he could find out the reason for the tension. Who just lifted an eyebrow and came back after only a few minutes with the story.
"This... I don't know how to fix this..."
"You can't. They need to sort this out themselves. Any interference on our part will cause them to resent us", Loki said. "It might break them but it might also bind them closer together than ever before."
"It's just... Tony was finally happy..."
"Bruce... their relationship is not ours to meddle with. Listen, I'm certain that Stark and Rogers can get through this. The captain genuinely thought he was doing the right thing and didn't know all the details. The one who might never be forgiven is Romanoff. She knew all of and didn't say anything because she thinks it wasn't Stark's business."
"It was his parents!"
"Indeed. But that's how she thinks. That's the kind of woman she is. And the kind of man Rogers isn't."
This was a disaster.
"I don't want to talk", Tony grumbled as he heard the door open to the workshop. Assuming it was Steve.
"Good", came the posh voice of Loki. "I don't want to listen to your ramblings."
"What do you want?"
"Are you aware that Thor came here a couple of weeks ago?"
"The heck?" The chair swiwelled as he spun around. "Does your brother have any respect for others?"
"Very little. Since his... visit, Jarvis seems to have issues accessing my floor. Seeing that he controls some of the systems it is... annoying."
"Fine. Jarv bring up the specs for McGonagall's floor."
"Of course, sir."
"Damn, these look rather fried... I need to have a look at the hardware." Up at the floor the damage was pretty bad. "I need to change these components completely. It will take a while so for now I will make the systems manual."
"Sounds good. Now you can leave."
Gathering up his things the engineer glanced at the god. Loki had sat down in his sofa reading a magazine. He was similar to Steve in that regard, preferring the physical thing over digital. Tony stopped himself, thinking about the soldier hurt.
"Hey... Lokes? When you found out you had been lied to about your heritage, how did you take it?" It was almost scary how menacing the Trickster could look when glaring at him from over the top of the magazine.
"Poorly", he snapped. "If you are trying to compare me being lied to my entire life to Rogers not disclosing information I will rip you in half."
"Geez, alright. I'm sorry. It's just... I trusted him and I don't trust easily."
"Neither do I. But the captain is a good man, isn't he?"
"Well, he is..."
"Even good men make mistakes. No one is perfect."
"His friend killed my parents!"
"Don't come to me for sympathy, Stark. Either you forgive him or you don't. I don't care either way."
Tony fled. He wanted to forgive Steve. He really did. He just didn't know how.
He had escaped. There was no other word for it. Every time Tony looked at him he drowned in guilt. So leaving the Tower he sought out the only person he could talk to. Sam opened the door to his home.
"Please tell me there isn't another global crisis?" he said.
"More like a personal one... Sam, I've messed up."
"Come on in then." Steve was shown to the kitchen and soon they each held a steaming cup of coffee in their hands. "Spill."
"It's about Tony... he found out about his parents."
"I told you to tell him."
"I know but things were bad, Sam. Really, really bad. There were hardly a day when I didn't fear he would have drunk himself to death or simply taken his own life. Throwing more issues into that... I couldn't."
"...alright. I give you that. But you should have told him before you started dating."
"... that kind of just happened."
"How does something like that just happen?!"
"I got drunk and had sex with him."
"You got drunk."
"It was provided by a god..."
"Your life is crazy, Steve."
"I know... Sam, what should I do? I love him and now I might lose him."
"I don't know man. It is a pretty big secret to keep. Maybe if you made some big gesture. We are talking about Tony Stark here."
"He is less flamboyant than most think. Much of it is persona and playing into expectations."
"Have you apologized?"
"Then... fuck. I don't know. He is your boyfriend."
"For now at least. He might dump me. He has had so few people in his life who truly cared for him. So many have betrayed him. Often for gain."
The black man was quiet for a long while. Thinking. Finally he drained his coffee and looked Steve in the eye.
"Then you need to prove to him that you are not going anywhere. You made a mistake, he is angry. So prove to him that you still want him."
"Thank you, Sam. You are a good friend. You know, with Thor gone we could use another aerial combatant. What do you think? Want to join the Avengers?"
"Depends. Why is he gone? I haven't heard any explanation."
Loki definitely had something of a food kink. It wasn't a big deal since it was fairly harmless and not quite as messy as one might assume. For one thing, the god rarely bothered putting food stuff on either of their bodies. It was more like a sexual eating kind of thing. Like being sensual while eating a strawberry or making them kiss while having a piece of chocolate in his mouth. For another thing, when he did put food stuff on their bodies - usually Bruce's - it was before performing a blowjob. Because it was such an innocent kink the scientist was more than happy to indulge the god.
Currently Loki was straddling him, slowly undressing him while playing with a bunch of grapes. Occasionally plucking one with his teeth. Rolling it before biting into it, letting the skin slowly burst. It was rather arousing. Surprisingly so. The Trickster didn't neglect other parts of his seduction, caressing just so. There were also some power play in having the Trickster towering over him but Bruce was definitely into it. They had seen each other naked several times by now but had not gone further than blowjobs. Apparently, Loki intended to change that. Rising on his knees he started to guide the smaller man's member to his entrance. For a moment the scientist felt a pang of panic. There had been no preparations!
He should have known better.
Warmth and wetness met him as the raven slowly lowered himself down. Head thrown back, exposing his throat. Mage. God. Of course normal rules didn't apply. Hands surging up Bruce rubbed the pale thighs, encouraging his lover to continue. He saw a smirk on those pale lips and couldn't help but smile. A trickster through and through. Loki kept going until the whole lenght was swallowed by the heat. Bending down he kissed the scientist, sweet lips from the grapes, before arching his back and moved.
It was the first time Bruce had intercourse in years. He wasn't about to be passive now. Thankful he was reclining against pillows he would surge up to capture that tantalizing mouth with heavy kisses. Bucking his hips up, electing heedy moans as he did so. Like he had noticed before, Loki was one to take his time. Controlling the pace he pulled them along perfectly. Making the climax all that much better.
The Trickster collapsed almost on top of him, breathing harsh. He was then snuggled and nuzzled by a thoroughly satisfied god of mischief.
"Feeling wonderful", came the mumbled response. "Next time I should take my female form. Don't worry. I can only get pregnant if I choose to."
"Never doubted it. Male or female. I love you either way, Loki."
"I like that. Tell me again?"
Someone else might have misunderstood or made a joke out of it. He did neither.
"I love you, Loki."
Despite holding the bottle he had not actually drunk anything from it. He had been awake for nearly three days working on the systems in Loki's apartment. By now his mind was starting to get slow. So slow, in fact, that he didn't hear the doors open to the workshop. Making him jump when someone pried the bottle from his hands.
"I'm glad to see this has not been opened." Tony pulled back so quickly he actually collided with Steve's chest. The blonde had been away for a few days and looked a bit tired. Heart beating furiously the engineer didn't know if he was angry or relieved. "Can we talk?"
"About what?" Shooting to his feet he gave himself some distance from Rogers. Ignoring his longing.
"About what happened. About us. Tony, I'm not willing to give up on us. I hurt you and I'm sorry. There is nothing I can do that could make up for it. But I love you so much."
"You lied to me."
"I trusted you and you lied to me."
"I want to punch you in your perfect teeth."
That made Tony pause. "What?"
"Go ahead. If you need to, go ahead."
"Are you crazy? You would just let me pummel you?"
"If that's what you need to do, then yes."
He did punch him. His knuckles hit that sharp jaw and now his hand hurt. Letting out a litany of swearing he cradled his poor hand. And Steve still just stood there. A worried frown but not leaving or showing anger.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?!"
"I told you, Tony. I love you. Whatever you need to do, I will accept. My only wish is to be with you."
"You are a fucking idiot."
"You are not the first to call me that."
Deflating the engineer gave up. He couldn't stay angry. Didn't want to stay angry. All he wanted was to have his boyfriend back. It was not Steve's fault his parents were dead. What did the knowledge change? Nothing. And knowing it was his best friend who was the murderer... the soldier was probably hurting as well. Tony walked up to his boyfriend and just collapsed against his chest. Breaking down in tears. As the strong arms came up to wrap around him he broke down completely. He couldn't be without this man. It was not possible. It scared him. Especially when he thought about how close they had come to breaking up.
"Don't leave me, Steve."
"I won't. I promise you. As long as there is still life in me, I will be here. With you." Steve's voice wobbled as if he wanted to cry as well. "I love you more than I have ever loved anyone."
He pulled the blanket over the brunette and kissed his temple. The engineer had dropped as tension fled him. Now he was sleeping soundly in his bed. Steve petted his hair gently.
"Look after him, Jarvis."
"Of course, Captain. May I offer my gratitude that you and sir have resolved this issue?"
"I'm surprised you are not furious with me."
"I've seen sir endure many things, Captain Rogers. Much pain and betrayal. The worst was during later parts of his relationship with miss Potts. With you I have seen sir show true happiness. I believe you truly had his best interest at heart."
"Thank you, Jarvis. Where can I find Natasha?"
"Agent Romanoff is in the gym, Captain."
Thanking the A.I. again he got up, kissed Tony one more time before heading down. The gym was a big open space with room for both sparring and working the machines. All of which had been made to withstand super soldiers and gods. Nat was working against a dummy, kicking and punching. Deadly as always.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"That Bucky was behind Howard Stark's assassination."
"What difference would it have made? The Starks was killed regardless of who did it."
"You really didn't think it mattered that my childhood friend killed my lover's parents? You didn't think I deserved to know that?"
"You are one to speak. It's not like you told Tony about it yourself."
"I tried to protect him from more pain. Is that why you didn't tell me?"
"No, I just didn't see any reason to tell you. Sergeant Barnes is gone, Steve. You better face it."
He opened his mouth and closed it again. There was tension in her shoulders. They had become close friends during the downfall of Shield but after she had closed herself off.
"Is this about the online harassment?" he asked and Natasha froze. "I accidentally came across a blog post that was pretty nasty and it linked to similar posts." She expelled air and leaned against the dummy.
"It's stupid. They can't hurt me and they are allowed to think like that. I am a spy and an assassain. That's just what my life looks like. You can't change that easily..."
"That's why didn't tell me? You identify with Bucky and what? Want me to forgive you too?"
"Maybe. I don't know. Steve... before Shield I was nothing and then I learned that Shield is... was Hydra. I changed one corrupt organisation for another. But then, we had the Avengers. And all of us was just a bit broken. Like pieces from different puzzles. Never meant to fit together while being similar enough that we could accept each other."
"Are you blaming Loki Natasha?"
"Yes? No? I don't know Steve. I didn't say anything because... that's the kind if person I am."
"Or the kind of person you chose to be. Make certain you apologie to Tony. He needs to see that we are all humans. And humans make mistakes."
Loki couldn't sleep. His mind kept bugging him. If it wasn't Thor it was Thanos. If it wasn't Thanos it was Odin. He tried to push them away by thinking of Bruce. His brilliant and so extraordinarily gentle mortal. He made him want to wrap the scientist in a blanket and protect him against the worlds evil. Granted, he also wanted to join his human under the blanket and never have to leave ever again. It had been many centuries since he felt like this. Back then his crush had only been interested in the physical, not caring for the emotions. In the end the man had left him to be bedded by Thor instead. At the time Loki had simply given up, because who wouldn't want the golden prince instead of his darker and younger brother.
Sighing he threw the sheet of him and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He was back at thinking about his brother. What he needed was a distraction. Passing the mirror in the hallway he paused. He wanted to a specific kind of distraction, he knew that. But maybe he could have some more fun along the way. Shifting the goddess studied herself in the mirror. She looked pretty much the same. Black hair, green eyes and pale skin. Her bosom was suited for a goddess. Big rounded mounds of flesh that was very perky. The thought of Bruce's length sinking into her heat made her almost giddy and very, very aroused. Instead of wasting time by walking she simply teleported. Her mortal, of course, was asleep and was snoring slightly. He had said she was welcome any time she wanted though and that she never had to hold back if she wanted something. Still, there was no point in having sex with a sleeping partner and she preferred to give him the opportunity to say no.
Thus, she crawled under the sheets, magicked away their night clothes before going about her mission to wake Bruce up. The scientist was a light sleeper so it didn't take long.
"Hello there, Bruce", she purred. Blinking the mortal had trouble focusing for a moment or two.
"Indeed my love. I have a surprise for you." Taking his hand she guided it to one of her breasts. Felling the mound he seemed to become fully awake immediately. The other hand came up to join the first.
"Your female form?"
"Mhm, like it?"
"Let me get the light."
"No." Loki snapped her fingers and a mage light appeared over their heads. It's light was softer and less intrusive.
"...that works. You are beautiful, Loki."
"Beautiful enough that you don't mind a midnight rendezvous?"
"You are always beautiful. Man, woman, white, blue. It is all you."
Well now, such pretty words. She let him sit up before coming close enough to sit on his lap, legs on either side of him. His hands slid around her body and rested on her back as they kissed. Tilting her head she welcomed her lovers lips and tongue on her neck. Moaning as her breasts were licked and her nipples played with. She could feel the hardened member poking her. Making her smirk. Apparently her lover liked seeing her smirk because he pulled on her hips, seeking the mouth to her cave of wonder. With a slender hand she guided him and let him take the plunge.
Both moaned and kissed wetly. Unlike the time before she let Bruce set the pace. She wanted to feel just how much he desired her. And he delivered. Likely reassured by her divinity he set a hot, rough, pace and she lived it.
"Have you..." he panted. "Have you made certain you can get pregnant?" Loki figured that one day in the future she might feel the idea of starting a family with her mortal. After all, she could block anything harmful. For now though.
"I don't even have a womb my love. Take your pleasure in me. Don't hold back. Let me feel you pounding into my body. Make me quiver as our pleasure blend and bleed. Claim me as yours. Paint my insides with your seed."
He groaned. "Do you have any idea what you do to me?"
"Oh, trust me. I'm perfectly aware." She was close. So close. Hearing her answer seemed to have short circuited something in his mind as the pace grew more intense. Their lips smashed together and within minutes the full body orgasm took hold. Her whole body shivered and seized in intense pleasure. The contractions was enough to pull her lover with her. She almost whined when he slipped out of her body. Smiling at her he suggested she lie down on her back. Curious she did as asked. Disappearing under the blanket Bruce soon busied himself with wringing more orgasms from her body. This time using mouth and fingers.
His beautiful goddess was now deep asleep. He worked his jaw a bit and went to wash off before joining her in bed. This time to sleep. Bruce couldn't help but smile as she drew closer. Somehow this amazing person wanted him. He only hoped Loki would be allowed his happiness because anything else would be unfair.
December rolled around and they got on board Tony's private jet, heading for Sweden. There were still tension between the members of the team but for now, they had a truce. For the holiday. The engineer had wanted to go to Stockholm first but had been shot down by the others. Visiting the capital was fine but they really wanted to see other things. Landing on Arlanda airport they were discussing the best way to get to Uppsala. Natasha solved it by approaching an employee.
"Excuse me", she said. "We are headed to Uppsala, what is the most efficient way of travel?"
"You have a few options", the clerk said in almost perfect English. "You can take a taxi, of course, there is a bus or you can go by train. I would suggest you take the train, you will be in Uppsala within forty minutes."
"You are welcome."
"Do you think she recognised us?" Tony asked Steve.
"I'm not sure. Shall we find the station?"
"You mean the plattform?" Loki said. "From the looks of it, we just have to head downwards." Said and done, it didn't take long to find their way. Every employee they met spoke excellent English and if anyone recognised them, they didn't show it. In fact, everyone seemed decidedly preoccupied with their own things and was standing in small groups. Not talking to anyone outside it. Any loner just kept to themselves. It was so different from the loudness he was used to from fellow Americans. Had they been standing on a plattform in the US, they would have been mobbed by fans by now.
Still, they arrived in one piece to the city. Steve's first impression was of how tastefully it was decorated for the holidays. Lights in the trees and over the streets but not overdone. Simple and beautiful. It was also completely dark outside.
"Man, is it already late at night?" Clint complained.
"It is four o'clock, Barton", Loki informed the archer. "This far up north the sun barely rises in winter. Go north enough and it won't rise at all."
"And people live here?!"
"Obviously. During summer it is the opposite I might add."
"Alright, enough chitchat. We need to get to our hotel. I've booked us a shared suite in one of the finer hotels." Tony managed to hail them two taxis that took them to the correct address. As they stepped out the driver, who looked vaguely Middle Eastern said:
"Merry Christmas", the soldier replied.
Tony wasn't one to marvel at architecture but he couldn't deny his fascination with the blend of modern buildings and historical ones. Sometimes side by side. The city silhouette was dominated by the grand church and the local castle. Both buildings were centuries old. As was the university apparently.
"Uppsala University has been around for more than five hundred years", Bruce said giddely. "It is one of the oldest universities in the world. You can visit one of the old lecture halls as it has been converted into a museum. Oh, and at the library they have the Silver Bible." His boyfriend humored him by listening while nodding and humming.
"Look, there is the old university building that is still in use!"
"I'm glad you are enjoying yourself, my dear. This is East Aros by the way. It likely refers to the lake. Today it is named Mälaren."
"There is so few people around", Steve marvelled. "And the city is so small."
"Uppsala is the fourth biggest city in Sweden", Tony told him. "About one million people lives here."
"Well, the full population of this country is about ten millions. Somehow they never really grew much more. Now. I'm hungry and I'm saw what looked like a hamburger restaurant down at the square with all the buses."
"Seriously Stark?" Clint shook his head. "You are half across the globe and you want to eat hamburgers?"
"Swedish hamburgers. I can try Swedish cuisine later. Besides, I've booked us a traditional Swedish Christmas buffet. A joulboard."
"Julbord", the Trickster corrected.
"Whatever. A damn, it is already getting dark. What time is it? Freaking two and the sun is setting?!"
"Welcome to the Nordic countries, Stark", Loki grinned. "Imagine how much fun I used to have. Mortals hiding from the dark while I played tricks on them."
"... no wonder they thought you were evil..."
"At least I didn't demand human sacrifices. That used to be the way they celebrated the winter solstice. By sacrificing humand and animals to Odin. And they would sometimes pray to me, asking me to protect them against monsters."
"Really? They did?"
"And the sacrifices?"
"Common religious ritual."
"Great. Let's eat. We are going to this Max!"
"Hamburgers", Clint muttered. "We are in Sweden and he wants hamburgers."
Late that evening snow started to fall. Loki stood out on the small balcony watching the flakes fall to the ground. Every sound was muffled. It was beautiful. In almost every window there were some sort of lamp giving of a very gentle light. Stars, electric candlesticks and garlands of small lamps. It was almost looking like stars. When he looked up he could actually see real stars, even through the light pollution.
"There you are", Bruce joined him. "This is beautiful."
"It is. I used to love Scandinavia, visited from time to time even after they stopped worshipping us. If I focus I can still sense the latent magic in the soil. The things that made people live here despite the harshness of the conditions."
"Sweden is peaceful. That's for sure. They managed to stay neutral through two great wars, taking almost no damage through it all. Many look to this country as a moral benchmark."
"And others view it like a cautionary tale. It is nice. Not as loud as other parts of the world. The people are more reserved as well."
"Is that why they have left us alone so far?"
"Probably. Or they simply think they have mistaken our identities. It is a trait in the Swedes though to not make a nuisance of themselves. That's why our waitress wasn't bugging us during dinner either."
"Meaning she is paid properly as well. A good thing."
"It is, yes."
They stood in silence as the blanket of white grew slowly. Being a Jotun meant he didn't feel cold. His human was a different matter. It didn't escape Loki's notice that Bruce started to shiver and blew on his hands.
"Come, let's head to bed my love. We have a full day tomorrow as well."
"Sounds good. A moment first."
"Yes?" The scientist gently pulled the Trickster down for a kiss.
"Now let's go to bed."
The historic accuracy isn't 100% but most of it is. Uppsala university is one of the oldest in the world. The Silver Bible is held at the university library named Carolina Rediviva. You can visit the museum housing an old lecture theatre, Gustavianum. It is located close to Uppsala Domkyrka. The tallest church in the Nordic. The two towers reaches 180m from the ground up. Uppsala castle was once the home of Swedish kings as the coronations used to take place in the church. The Swedish king Gustav Vasa, who made Sweden protestant instead Catholic, lies buried in the church alongside two of his three wives.
I'm flexing a bit in this chapter and will do in the next. But I used to live in Uppsala. My dad still lives there and so do do my friends. I happen to know a lot about this city.
"I didn't know it was so close to buildings", Natasha noted. "No wonder you get charged for arson if you burn it down."
They were in the small city of Gävle and was currently looking at the giant Yule Goat made almost entirely of straw. Tony thought that the smaller goat nearby was cuter but it was impressive nonetheless to see the big one. He had seen pictures but seeing it person was different. The spy was right, the goat was less than ten metres away from the nearest building. Located on a patch of grass pretty much in the middle of the city. Since it was afternoon it was already dark outside and the wind made him shudder with cold. No matter how beautiful the surroundings were, he wanted to go inside. Steve came to stand behind him, wrapping him in his arms. Being a super soldier meant he sometimes felt like a furnace.
"We are just one hour up north", the engineer complained. "How can it be this much colder?"
"Well, this place sits right by the sea", Loki said. "There is a harbour and everything. I have also read that the river we passed, Dalälven, makes things colder above it."
"So there is seagulls?"
"During the summer I'm sure there are plenty."
"I think I see a Wayne's Coffee nearby, I need to get inside."
"Again, an American chain?" Clint asked. "We are in freaking Sweden!"
"I know but I want my coffee."
Together they made their way up the hill passed the goat. Before reaching the coffee chain there was what looked like a local bakery or something. Cakes and sandwiches were on display, looking decidedly cozy. Which meant Loki refused to go to the generic place and instead insisted they went for the bakery. Or café. Tony wasn't sure. In short order they were seated with a large steaming cup each and a cinnamon bun on a plate. Inhaling the scent from his coffee the engineer had to admit it smelled better than anything he found back home. Tasting it he concluded it was both stronger and tasted better.
"This is good", Bruce said about his bun. "Not as sweet as the ones back home. Maybe because there is not any icing on it?"
"These small, white pearls appear to be sugar", Steve noted. "I like it. Next time we should try the yellow ones. They said it is made with saffron and rarely eaten outside of the holiday season."
"Sounds good, Cap. Tomorrow we are heading to Heag bi bruck."
"Heag bi bruck."
"Högbo bruk", Loki chuckled. "Hearing you pronounce words is hilarious."
"Hey, not my fault they have such weird names."
"I'd say the same about Americans. You can name your kids just about anything and choose really weird ones."
"Alright, I give you that. At least Swedes are not naming their kids Sweden."
"What are we doing at... Hegboo bryk?" Clint asked.
"They supposedly have a really good Christmas Buffet and some other neat stuff."
Going on vacation with a billionaire meant no expenses were spared. After getting off the taxi Steve looked out in wonder at what looked almost like an old fashioned farm but on a larger scale. The buildings were clearly old at least. Plenty of people were around, some with skiing equipment. Many headed in the same direction. A river of some sort went through the whole thing. They were lucky, it was sunny outside and the air crispy. With snow covering the ground it glittered magically.
It didn't take long to find their way and be seated. The waitress was from Britain and could converse easily. After ordering drinks they went to tuck in on the buffet. It was big. So many different dishes he had never seen before. For once Steve was happy he had increased appitite. Looking at the eager Swedes he followed suit and started with the pickled herring and baked bread. When he returned to their table his plate was stacked high. Barton, who wasn't in favour of fish had piled his plate with chicken, patês, meatballs and small sausages. For a long while they were all too busy eating to eat. He had never eaten anything quite like this. Some things were more familiar but a lot were different.
"You are stuffing", Tony noted as he was clearing his fifth plate.
"It is good", the soldier defended.
"Leave him be", Loki admonished, taking a spoon of his porridge. "He is enjoying himself after all."
"You would say that wouldn't you. Is that your sixth plate?"
"Yes. But after this I will get started on the desserts. Apparently make almost everything right here on the estate. Including raising the animals."
"Geez. Well, I'm not complaining. This is some good beer."
"By the way, I saw they have a glass blower here. I want to take a look after we have eaten."
"That do sounds interesting", Bruce said. "I've never seen glass being blown before."
"How dirty of you", the engineer laughed.
"Ignore him my love. He is being ridiculous."
He was full. Painfully so. The Swedes didn't eat turkey during Christmas but they definitely made up for it. Of course both Loki and Steve was perfectly fine. Despite eaten more than the rest of them together. Standing on some sort of balcony looking down Bruce marvelled at the calm atmosphere in the shop. A couple of people were standing near a furnace or something, creating a figurine of glass. All visible from above. There were many pieces displayed and he had no doubt they were expensive. Being handmade and all. The god of mischief was wandering around the displays with care. Apparently he saw things he liked because he talked with a shop attendant who helped pack them in protective packages.
"They will break", Clint noted when Loki rejoined them. "During the flight."
"Have you forgotten I'm a god, Barton? I can place them in a pocket dimension and they will be perfectly fine. Just like the other things I've bought that are fragile."
"Why have you been shopping?"
"They are Yule gifts. This is a mortal tradition, no? Shall we head back to the hotel or do you want to look around more? I'm fine with either."
In the end they split up. The god and Steve wanted to stay longer while the rest wanted to return to the hotel. Sleeping away some of the food.
"Just call a taxi when you had enough", Tony told them. Bruce hid a smile when the Trickster rolled his eyes while making it clear he didn't need a taxi. Before they parted the scientist kissed the god. A simple thing but still important. Slightly behind them the soldier pulled his own boyfriend close roughly and kissed him. Long and hard. As they waited for the taxi the engineer muttered something about super soldiers being stupidly strong amd being ridiculous saps.
It was good to see them get along again.
In this chapter they visited my hometown. I was born in Gävle, moved away as a kid and then moved back about six years ago. The giant Yule Goat made of straw has been erected each December for decades but sadly rarely survived the holiday. It had been down countless times and otherwise sabotage. It does have a baby brother made by High schoolers from a local school. I hate when the goat burns. It is stupid, wasteful and dangerous. At least I always get to see it.
Högbo Bruk is a real place. The Christmas buffet is pretty great. A bruk was something of a large farming estate. The area has a large lake nearby, farm animals, fields and very, very old buildings. Often owned by really wealthy people that employed others. There are some of these bruk left in Sweden. Many serving as a kind of outdoor museum or nature spot. In Sweden we have Allemansrätten, which roughly translates to the right to roam. You are allowed to roam any forest or field as long as you don't cause damage. You are allowed to pick berries and mushrooms. You can even make camp for a night without asking permission. Not on someone's front yard obviously but private owned land is not fenced in or off limits.
Things were decidedly not working in Thor's favour lately. His mother still refused to talk to him, his father had straight up forbidden him from going after Thanos alone. Instead he was calling on allies to defeat the Titan in one unified attack. In extension Loki had been pardoned from his crimes as the All-Father claimed few could hold on their own against such a foe. Not that a message was sent to Midgard. The Thunderer himself was barred from going as well.
"Your brother's current development is far better than I've seen in a long time", the old king had said. "I rather you didn't intervene at the moment." As to what he was alluding Thor had no idea.
While his friends had disapproved of his treatment of Loki they were still his friends. Which meant they were not particularly pleased with the Trickster's dismissal of the older's apology. It was kind of them but didn't really help. The biggest concern was his mother's constant cold shoulder. So, standing by her door he held a basket of gifts, hoping to a peace her.
"Mother?" he called. After a moment a handmaiden opened the heavy door.
"Her majesty with to inquire of your intentions", the woman said.
"I'm her son!" It was nearly a choking sob. "Please, Mother! Don't keep me locked out forever."
Frigga most have said something because the maid moved aside, letting him in. His mother was, as always, beautiful. The hardness in her eyes softened when she saw the misery on his face.
"Leave us", she told the gaggle of women. "Thor..."
"I... I brought a gift..."
"I can see that. Come sit." Thor ignored her words, instead he put down the basket and hugged her fiercely. "I'm still cross with you."
"No", she gently detached herself and made him sit down. "Thor, I need you to listen. Can you do that?"
"Do you remember when your father announced you to be the heir?"
"Of course. It was a great celebration."
"That night I spent hours comforting a distraught Loki who had just returned from a dangerous mission. What he accomplished was important and remarkable. But it got overshadowed by the succession. Something that could have waited a little bit longer. Everyone assumed your brother was simply jealous of you. But in truth, he had hoped to be greeted with the same enthusiasm as you always were. Just that once."
"But... I don't remember him doing something special at that time..."
"It was forgotten, yes. In the wake of you being made crown prince. However. Without his actions and accomplishments it is entirely possible your ascension would have been clouded by war. He prevented that and no one cared. It would not be the last time, nor was it the first. Each time he would come to me, crying. Wondering why the two people he loved and admired always treated him as less important. Barely worth notice unless you wanted something."
"I... had no idea..."
"And that's your problem, Thor. You never asked. You never bothered to care about anything other than yourself. You have grown but you are still very, very selfish."
Thor looked at his hands. Why was everything wrong lately? He just couldn't understand.
Tony awoke that Christmas morning to some needy moans. It took a few moments to realise they came from him. Involuntary he arched his back slightly as he felt a pleasant pinch of his nipples. Snapping his eyes open he locked gazes with Steve who smiled before surging up, kissing him. Ever since their huge fight they had been hesitant in their intimacy. The soldier had shown amazing amount of patience and often it had been Tony who had initiated anything more than a kiss.
Apparently, things were different this morning.
"Merry Christmas, Tony", the blonde said, gently squeezing a nipple.
"Oh, heck no! I'm not going to get off from just nipple play. You better fuck me for real, Rogers."
"If you say so", Steve actually smirked and claimed another kiss, using his hands to carefully spread the engineer's legs.
"Bastard... You... ah, fuck!"
"That's the plan, yes." Taking his sweet time the blonde kissed him, caressed him, grind against him. All while avoiding placing his hands anywhere near their groins.
"Come on, Steve! I need you to.... ah... fuck!"
"Alright", the other chuckled. Kissed his way down till he was face to face with Tony's lenght. Which he slipped into his mouth. Making the brunette shout as the wet warmth engulfed him. As if that wasn't enough a couple of fingers started breaching him. It was near a sensory overload as he was both being blown and finger fucked. When he climaxed his body was still so sensitive and needy he felt like he was going crazy. And those freaking fingers kept at it.
"How eloquent of you."
"Shu... ah... t u aaahhh p. You better stick that stiff rod of yours in me or I sweaaaaahhhh..." Oh, had it ever felt so fulfilling to be penetrated? Fingers had been exchanged for the soldier's member and of course Tony was getting hard again. He was a glibbering mess by the time he climaxed a second time, followed by Steve.
"Merry Christmas. I love you, Tony."
"I love you too you crazy bastard. Now give me a kiss."
He got one.
The solstice celebration among mortals were leagues above Asgard in his opinion. After returning from their trip to Sweden they had all seemed to gravitate towards the more minimalistic approach they had encountered in the Nordic country while gunning for their version of a Christmas meal. Others were likely awake but Loki enjoyed the quiet time as he prepared breakfast. He was making rice porridge, cooking it on low temperatures and watching the milk least it burned. With his magic he had conjured a fireplace that didn't have a real fire burning. Along the mantle he had placed stockings and had filled them with an assortment of small knick-knacks. He had made the stockings himself. Without using magic.
"That looks good", Bruce said from beside him, slipping an arm around the god's waist.
"Thank you, dear. You should take a look at the fireplace."
"Fireplace?" The scientist turned his head and let out a chuckle. "You are a wonder, Loki. I look at it later."
"Mmm... very well. Jarvis? Could you put on some Yule music?"
"Certainly mr. Loki."
From the speakers a female voice began singing: "Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, make the Yule time gay..."
"How appropriate", Loki mused and kissed his lover who laughed merrily. Together they stood in the softly lit kitchen, enjoying the quiet beauty of... well everything.
Some music to set the atmosphere if you like. Specifically my own Christmas music list that I listened to writing this chapter. Yes, about half is in Swedish. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3AcarevuXRQ2RX4lgq9aVL?si=lQnTgVYGQ_u0fx65zFWAIA
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Entering the common floor for breakfast was magical. A large Christmas tree took up one corner, decorated with mostly glitter girlands and silver ornaments. Small lamps was arranged through the branches. In the windows star-shaped lamps hung and on the wall tables multi-armed candlesticks cast a warm glow. On the table breakfast was laid out, illuminated by live candles. Rice porridge, ham and dark bread was presented together with sugar and some brown spice. A jug of milk and a pot of coffee. All in all, it was gorgeous. Steve felt like a child that had stepped into a fairy tale. Helping the sensation was a clearly magic fireplace casting light and warmth. On the mantle glass ornaments were arranged along other things he remembered Loki buying in Sweden. And there were stuffed stockings. Five of them. He saw his own name on with a jolly snowman on it.
"I figured you could use a break from being Captain America", Loki said as he put on some music.
"You made all this?"
"Yes? I used magic for some of it of course. Getting the tree in and dressed on my own would have been near impossible. Other things I simply stored in my pocket dimension."
"I knitted them. You are supposed to look inside them..."
"Why not wait till everyone is here?"
"I suppose, I did ask Jarvis to wake everyone up."
Looking at the room Steve felt warm inside, Loki had really outdone himself. But there were no stocking for the god. Of course not, he could hardly make one for himself... pretending to have forgotten something he rushed back down the hall only to collide with Tony.
"Woah, easy there, soldier. Some of us are sore."
"Tony, please tell me you can have filled stocking delivered within an hour", the blonde said to his boyfriend.
"That's a weird request", the engineer raised an eyebrow and pushed pass him. Coming to halt when he saw the transformed living room. "Oookay... who is the stocking for?"
"The one who doesn't have one."
"Who doesn... oh... oh wow... yeah. Um... give me a minute..."
The Trickster was visibly getting impatient as the rest of the team took their time showing up. Bruce tried to keep him occupied but felt relief when finally everyone came in. Tony was last. A whole thirty minutes after Steve had showed up. In his hand he held a factory made stocking with hastily scrawled letters. He hung it together with the rest. When he stepped away they could read "Loki" in a wonky line.
"Wait, who made the other ones?" Clint asked amd Natasha ribbed him with her elbow, nodding towards Loki. "Oh... um... can we eat now? I'm starving."
"Yes. But then I expect you to actually look inside the stockings. Not just squeezing them", the dark prince said and muttered something to himself. They all sat down at the table. Thanks to Loki's magic everything was still fresh. Either cold or steaming depending on what was needed. Steve lifted the bottle with brown powder.
"What is this?"
"Cinnamon. You put it on the porridge together with the sugar and then add milk."
For a while they ate in silence, enjoying the music and the calm company. No one wanted to jinx the holiday by making a remark. Not thay they needed to worry. Loki had told Bruce while he waited that he had personally gone visit all possible threats and had either taken care of them himself or threatened them until they promised to leave the holiday alone. He had been very persuasive apparently, considering quite a few villains had rather allowed themselves to be arrested than risking the god of mischief's wrath. So it was no surprise when the raven managed to get a light conversation going.
"Okay, Loki made the food so someone else will take care of the dishes", Steve said sternly when they had finished.
"Worry not, Rogers", the Trickster smiled amused. With a wave of his hand he cleared the table as if it was nothing. "Now, I really hope you intend to look inside your stockings!"
There was nothing remarkable in them, going by the pile of presents under the tree the real presents were there. Still. All the items were really thoughtful and clearly aimed purposefully to each individual. Tony had gotten what was some very high-tech Asgardian toys, the engineer got very excited. Steve was given small figurines and some felt pens paired with a small sketchbook. Natasha received puzzles, the more complicated kind with multiple solutions and Clint had received a bunch of candy with some retro children's toys. Then there was the things to Bruce. Soaps, candles, potpourri and loose tea. All of it was fair trade.
In comparison Loki's stocking was just filled with candy. The engineer defended himself by saying he had had less than an hour to fix something. Since all of the preparations had been a secret.
"All is well, Stark. I enjoy sweets. Speaking of..." waving his hand the Trickster conjured bowls of candy, fruit and nuts. "...I jumped over to Sweden for some."
At that, they all laughed. The day was spent in comfortable companionship. Playing some board games, laughing at jokes. At three Loki put on some sort of Disney Christmas special, insisting they watch. Since it was his first Christmas on Earth they let him have his way. It was kind of fun anyway. An hour later Pepper and Rhodes joined them for the evening. Somehow Tony, Steve and Pepper managed to be civil. Even though the red-head walked in on them in the middle of some concentrated kissing. Courtesy of the rest of the team being busy with dinner.
"Alright, you two, keep it to the bedroom", Colonel Rhodes laughed and watched with interest as dish after dish was carried out. "No turkey?"
"Nope", Tony grinned. "We decided to go with a Yule bord instead."
"Swedish Christmas feast", Loki said. "It is called Julbord. Basically Yule table."
"Ah. I heard you had a rough couple of years. Good to see you doing better."
"Why, thank you. I don't believe we have met before but you obviously know who I am."
"James Rhodes. You can call me Rhodey. Me and Tony go way back."
"Well met Rhodey. Please, take a seat. We are soon finished."
There were so many dishes James had never seen before in his life. He recognised some of them, like meatballs and sausages. The Avengers all gushed about their trip to Sweden, mentioning a buffet they visited with similar food. Throughout the meal Tony would flirt shamelessly with Rogers. Rhodes knew they had had a rough spot and was glad to see them happy again. Even if Pepper looked a bit forlorn. Well, she had her chance.
"What is this drink? I've never tasted anything like it."
"It is called Julmust. A staple during Yule", Loki told him. The god was surprisingly pleasant. Not above some teasing and small pranks, like giving him sugar instead of salt, but pleasant nonetheless. He also tried to feed Banner from time to time. The doctor usually obliged and let himself be fed. No one paid them any mind so he just assumed it was normal occurrence. Once everyone had eaten far more than they probably should Barton announced.
"Christmas presents!" And then darted from the room. Almost everyone followed suit, returning with armfulls of gifts they placed under the tall tree.
"Since when do you have a fireplace", James asked Tony who grinned.
"I don't. That one is pure magic. Christmas becomes real magical when you have a mage nearby."
"Sorcerer, Stark", aforementioned mage sniffed. "I'm a sorcerer."
Most gifts were pretty generic. Probably because they didn't know each other all that well. Some clearly had more thought behind them. Like Loki giving Banner a donation gift certificate from Doctors without borders, making the man teary eyed with emotions.
"This is perfect. Thank you."
"You are welcome, my love", the god leaned against the shorter man, a fond smile on his lips.
Tony had paid for a semester at the local art school for Steve and arranged for him to attend classes. In turn the soldier had gotten his boyfriend a set of quality tools. Nothing extraordinary but the solid, good kind. Wrenches, screwdrivers and pliars. That kind of things.
Barton whooped at the sight of a sleek bow in some metal not even the engineer recognised.
"Asgardian steel", Loki told them. "From my mother. It is stronger and more durable than any Midgardian weapon. It's her way of showing gratitude."
"Wow, I hope I can thank her in person."
Romanoff got some enchanted daggers made in the same material while Tony got a block of raw material. Which really suited him to be honest. He looked like a child that had been given something he had not known he wanted. Rogers was given a set of calligraphy pens and ink in different colours. They were with inlays of gold.
"What are they made of?" he asked the Trickster.
"Obsidian, I admit they are from my own collection but I have never used them."
"Your own... how old are these?!"
"About five hundred years. My own handwriting never felt adequate enough to use them. I've seen your skills though."
"Loki... this is amazing. This whole day, everything you've done. The stockings, the food , the gifts. You didn't have to do this."
"He also made any villain think twice about causing trouble", Banner added. "Making it a quiet day."
"Really?" Tony said in surprise. "Man, McGonagall. Steve is right. This is amazing and you went way out of your way for us. Why? You didn't have to."
The god shrugged and looked at the "fire" in the fireplace. "You are my friends. My first true friends. Ever since I've returned to Midgard you have all shown me so much warmth and kindness. When Thor mistreated me you defended me, lectured him and even sent him away. You acknowledged my actions, good and bad, in a way no one except my mother has ever done. All while not asking for anything in return. You put up with my pranks and my temper. Offering me safety. Giving me acceptance and even love." Loki looked at each of the Avengers in turn, landing on Banner. "The least I can do is making this a memorable Yule."
"This is more than memorable", the doctor said, echoed by the others. "I dare say it is the best Christmas, or Yule, in my whole life. All thanks to you." Rhodey hid a smile as the Trickster threw his arms around the shorter man and kissed him fiercely. It was cute. Not one to pass up an opportunity Tony kissed Rogers cheek and snuggled to the captain's side. The two agents was also sitting close, heads together.
He should have felt like an outsider together with Pepper but somehow he didn't. There were likely three couples in the Avengers but he didn't feel like a third wheel to any of them.
It was while he was slipping into bed alongside Tony that Steve noticed a present on the nightstand. Picking it up he showed it to the brunette.
"Is this from you?" The engineer frowned and took it.
"I have already given all my gifts. Wait, there is a label. 'I am made to understand that receiving such a thing as this in front of people is considered inappropriate. Happy Yule to both of you. Yours truly, Loki'. Huh. Now that you mention it, the stuff we got was from his mom. Let's open it."
"Sure", the soldier was feeling a little bit apprehensive at getting a secret gift from the god of mischief but decided to hold it off until he saw what it was. Inside the box was an object in a very distinct shape. A very distinct. Tony broke down in laughter.
"He got us a sex toy! He freaking got us a sex toy. Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Steve! This is for you! He told me once he might be able to help with getting one."
"... for me?"
The engineer was leering at him and gave him a filthy kiss that left nothing out. "This thing, Stevie boy, is meant for your ass!"
"Oh." He paused. Realising the full implication. A heated blush spread across his face and he chocked out. "Oh!"
"'Oh' indeed. Want me to repay you for this morning?"
"...yes..." Seeing the huge smile splayed on his boyfriend's face made the embarrassment worth it. It was a rather thoughtful gift Steve conceded as he moaned, letting Tony work the toy in his ass. One of these days he was going to convince the genius to marry him he decided. Because he really didn't want to spend a life without him. Not when he could see the love shine through the heat and arousal in those chocolate eyes.
Pulling down the other he kissed him lovingly. Outside it had started to snow.
I take this opportunity to mention that Clint is not married and have children in this story. So, he is not cheating. And that there might be something between our agents.
New year came and went without incident. It seemed that Loki's little "chat" with all villains was more effective than expected. Speaking of the god, Tony was trying to figure out a way to thank him for his very thoughtful gift. It was seeing plenty of use after all. The toy was fairly long and thicker than usual, there was a handle at the bottom. Allowing for an easy grip which gave better manoeuvring. Of course it was black and sleek. Sturdy. Made of a material that almost looked like glass but far stronger. The design indicated clearly that it was meant to be used by partners in bed rather than going solo.
He was not going to lie, he loved using this thing. More importantly, so did Steve. Because the soldier was so much strong and durable than normal humans he could handle much more stimuli as well. Allowing Tony to use a faster and harder technique. According to the blonde the rod grew a bit warmer while in use, increasing the sensitivity. Best of all, both got what they wanted. What they needed. The engineer could wring out orgasms while not exhausting himself or feeling weird because he couldn't climax like that. And since the solder had more stamina he could easily handle several rounds with the rod and still have more energy left to fuck Tony into the mattress.
"You are looking so beautiful, sweety boi. Don't hold back, just let it go", the engineer twisted the handle, eliciting a high whine. Bending down he kissed Steve repeatedly. Strong hands came up and combed through his hair before travelling down his body. Squeezing his ass. Tony groaned, he was pretty hard himself and was wearing a plug to save time. The squeeze meant he felt it more. No sooner had the pulled the rod out - after wringing another orgasm from his boyfriend - than he was thrown on his back by the momentum. Plug out, dick in.
"Tony... Tony..." the blonde panted harshly as he thrusted. Causing the engineer to curse and groan. Was this what Valhalla was like? Well, probably not since apparently Viking heaven was more fighting than anything else. Still. Great. His neck was likely getting a nice little necklace of kiss marks by the intensity of the kisses he was receiving. Not that his lips was neglected. Oh no. He was kissed to the point of breathlessness as well.
"Steevee", he whined. And oh.... oh.... .... Heck yeah!"
Steve kissed and mouthed at him a bit more after pulling out, caressing hair and face. Nothing new but it had definitely increased since Christmas. Almost as if the soldier tried to prove how much he loved Tony. It being evening meant that now that sexy times were over, the engineer was getting sleepy. Which was kind of curing his insomnia. How they had concluded that, or if it was his boyfriend who did it, he didn't know. What he did know was that it meant his beau would drag him to bed for sex in some form nearly every night. Well, for the last three weeks or so.
"I know but... you will be getting busy again and I really want to put this out there. There is no rush to give an answer, alright? And regardless of what you decide, I will stay with you."
"Okay, now you are making me nervous. What is it?"
"Tony, I want us to get married."
"Wha... are you... wha..."
"You don't have to give me an answer right away. Just think it through. Like you do with a problem regarding an invention."
Alright. Yeah. He could do that. Look at it from every angle. Yeah. No problem. Right? Damn. How was he supposed to handle this? And Steve just looked at him with those loving eyes while caressing his cheek with a thumb. Kissing him softly. What was a man supposed to do?
The long silence from Midgard made Thor nervous. Therefore he marched out to the observatory. Heimdall was standing there as usual, watching over the realms. He nodded to the prince in greeting.
"Old friend. Can you see my brother?"
"I can, my prince. Either he has forgotten to shield himself or isn't bothering to do so."
"Is everything well? He has not caused any trouble?"
"Loki has not done anything untoward and it settling in well with the mortals. They recently celebrated Yule and the beginning of a new year."
"I wish to see for myself what my brother is up to. Unfortunately Father has forbidden me from visiting Midgard. I need you to show me what you see."
The watchman studied the Thunderer with his golden eyes and didn't immediately jump to assist. Instead he seemed reluctant.
"I do not think that is wise, Thor. Not only would it invade Loki's privacy, I doubt you would like to witness him in his current position. Both of us know that Loki's wrath is not to be taken lightly."
"I need to see my brother", Thor insisted stubbornly. "Show him to me." Heimdall actually sighed and shook his head.
"On your head be it. Remember that you demanded this against my advice."
The world warped for a few seconds before becoming focused. There was Loki. At first when the blonde god saw that his brother was naked he wondered if he had happened upon the Trickster during a bath. Moments later, he knew that wasn't the case. The god of mischief was having sex. Back arched he was straddling someone. Riding them. Hips moving, head thrown back and eyes moving. Shocked at this behaviour Thor tried to see who his brother's partner was. The image backed away somewhat and the other person on the bed was Banner. Shorter and lacking in shape the mortal man had his hands on pale thighs. Brown eyes fixed on the Trickster were blown wide with arousal.
Drawing his mind away Thor turned on his heels and left the observatory. What he had seen of Loki disturbed him greatly. While he had always known the dark god to be more than deviant, this went beyond even that. What witchcraft had he used to make the green monster able to copulate with him? Because the Thunderer couldn't imagine Banner engaging in such activity by choice. Despite the disgust he felt he threw his mind to the scene he had witnessed. Looking for a detail he had missed. After a few tries he recalled the leather bracelet on the mortal's wrist. Remembering he had seen it before. At the time he had been taking care of Loki, but that didn't mean the Trickster couldn't pull a stunt like that. It would explain why the Hulk had become so hostile. His brother was using the bracelet to control a mortal. One with strenght to hurt a god.
Determination rushed through him as he began to plan. Thor wanted to protect and help his brother, yes. But he also needed to protect the mortals from his brother.
It was embarrassing but Tony was sort of hiding. From Steve. As usual the soldier showed enormous patience with him. The rest of the team? Including Rhodey. Not so much. Nat and Clint had left to oversee some operation or another, telling him he was on his own. Loki, not surprisingly, thought marriage was an excellent idea and listed all the benefits of a union. Maybe he wanted to marry Bruce? Who gave the best advice on the matter.
"No relationship is perfect. There will always involve some effort. You will have fights and butt heads. If you despite that still love them and want to be with them, that's all that matters. Marriage... marriage is a promise to try even harder."
"Have you ever had a fight with Loki?"
"We've had some disagreements. Our case is a bit special because of how vulnerable he still is. I try to see when he means what he says and when he is just acting out."
In the end, the one who convinced him were Rhodey.
"Do it", he told Tony.
"Just like that? I thought you would be against it after he lied to me."
"He didn't mean to and actively tried to make up for it. Still is. When you were with Pepper, she did nothing to reconcile after a fight. Putting all the blame on you. She nearly broke you, man."
"You really think I should marry Steve?"
"I do, actually. He is willing to take the leap. To try. A guy who grew up in a time when being gay could get you killed wants to marry you."
When put that way... Steve was waiting for him when he got to his room that night. Without a word he pulled Tony into his arms and just... held him. That was all he did. Even as they got ready for bed he simply held the engineer close. Who, for the record, had gotten naked because he figured they were due for some sexy time. Yet, America's favourite hero could resist such temptation in favour of some simple snuggling.
"How can you love me so much? I'm a mess."
"How can I not love you? You are amazing."
"Dang it, Steve! Alright. I marry you, if you make a huge ass proposal. Preferably public. Don't laugh at me! I'm being serious! Hey! Stop laughing! Steve! I warhnmmm!"
His boyfriend - fiancé? - shut him up by kissing him. Honestly, Tony didn't mind that at all.
Bruce didn't expect to walk in on a soaked Loki in the middle of undressing. The usually pale skin looked slightly discoloured. Not bruises mind you but shades of pink and orange. Brown?
"What in the world happened to you?"
"A cackle of Midgardian male youths decided to throw their sodas at me", the god said calmly. "From those paper mugs commonly used by fast food restaurants."
"They did? Why?" The god shrugged, unconcerned.
"I think they recognised me. Granted, being dosed with cold soda wouldn't have been particularly pleasant for a mortal. To me, it is a mild inconvenience."
"I'm sorry they did that to you..."
"Bruce, my love. Don't apologise for others actions", Loki was down to his underwear. "I intend to take a shower, do you want to join me?"
The scientist blushed furiously but nodded all the same, the Trickster brought out a side of himself that Bruce had not been aware he had.
"Loki is on TV", Barton announced. Making the team turn around. Sans the god himself and Banner.
"Why?" Romanoff asked.
"Apparently a bunch of teenagers surrounded him and threw sodas on him."
"What?!" Tony said and hurried over in time for the anchor to start the story.
"Earlier today the former war criminal Loki of Asgard was surrounded by a group of teenager who subsequently threw what eyewitnesses report looked like soda. Loki was officially pardoned last year after new evidence came to light in regards to his failed attempt in 2012. We at ABC news have been able to obtain exclusive footage of the incident."
The image shifted, showing Loki exiting some sort of fast food chain, sipping from a steaming cup. Excited chatter could be heard from behind the obvious phone camera. Most of it sounding fairly awed. Suddenly a group of perhaps five or six guys show up, surrounding the Trickster who eyes them curiously.
"Go back to Assgard!" One boy jeers and the others guaff at the crude joke.
"Apt nickname", the god notes without any heat or concern. "I will have to remember that one. Mind stepping out of the way?"
"You stupid fucking alien!" Another teen screams. "Cock-fucker!"
"Crude but accurate."
"You are a freaking monster! A murderer!" Yet another of the group yells. "Hulk fucker!"
"Fucking Hulk fucker!" The rest joins in, shouting the same thing. Making Loki frown.
"Your issue with me is that I'm in a relationship with Bruce Banner? That sounds a bit silly. What we get up to is certainly no concern of yours."
"Freaking twink! Monster fucker. Bet the Hulk uses you as his freaking asswipe!"
"Your vernacular needs some working on. Mind moving out of my way?"
Throughout the whole exchange the god had been completely calm and relaxed. Not even when more hatred is thrown at both him and Bruce does he even raise his voice. Instead he keeps sipping his beverage while occasionally asking them to let him pass. That's when all five - six of them throw their drinks at him. Soaking him. Blinking the Trickster seems more surprised than anything.
And he is still keeping his calm.
"How juvenile. I haven't seen such immature behaviour since Thor was denied his little killing spree of Jotunheim. Not that it mattered in the end, he went anyway."
The teens, seeing their bullying had no effect, starts in on Loki with fists raised. At which point on-lookers get involved before the situation can escalate further.
The camera switched back to the news anchor who turned to her colleague. Those in the team felt uncomfortable knowing one of their own had faced that kind of situation. The anchors begin to discuss the incident.
"What do you think, Jimmy? Is this a new Loki or just an act."
"I don't think it is either, Ashley. I think this is Loki showing his upbringing as a prince and is displaying great restraint. We know he is powerful enough to be called god. It would have been easy for him to cause his attackers great harm."
"Which he evidently didn't. Arguments surrounding Loki's statements regarding doctor Bruce Banner, also known as the Hulk, has also flared up online. Especially since he is heavily implying that the two are in an intimate relationship. Secretary of state, Thaddeus Ross, declared that such a relationship is impossible and if Loki has somehow bypassed the limitations he is responsible for releasing a much more dangerous Hulk."
"On the other side of the argument is former Shield agent Maria Hill who insist that the danger these two powerful beings present has grown less since they started to grow close."
"Is... this bad?" Steve asked, looking sick.
"It doesn t look good. I hate Ross. He pisses me off."
"We need to keep an ear to the ground", Natasha said. "Just in case."
Loki had no real preference when it came to sex. He enjoyed any position and switched between forms as he saw fit. If he had one preference it was being the recipient. There were few things as deliciously sexy as having another man's manhood inside his body. So, if Bruce felt like being in charge, he welcomed it. Granted, he had hoped having a shower together would make his lover interested in having sex. Naturally it worked. Stretched out on the bed he moaned and grunted as the mortal thrusted in him. Hands digging slightly into the soft flesh.
"You really like my body, huh?"
"Mmm, likewise." As they kissed Loki recalled the jeering words from those youths. Little of what they had said had been aimed at him. Now that he thought about it... how did they know about the relationship. There had been no official announcement and no public displays of affection. Only a handful were aware they were more than shield brothers. He would have to investigate.
Above him Bruce was starting to loose control. Going faster and rougher. For a human. Smirking the Trickster rolled them, earning an eager growl. A hand grabbed hold of his member, squeezing hard. Oh, that felt great. Bouncing his hips he let out a concert of sounds, joined by his lover at a lower pitch. It felt good. It felt so very good.
"Ahh, Bruce! My love, my protector and warrior! My heart and soul! Yes! Have me, claim me, make me yours! Fill my body with your spend till you are sated!"
"Loki... gnhn... you are beautiful and amazing. So strong and intelligent. Truly a god. Let me worship you. Your body as my altar and my spend as my offering. Let me love you until my breath has been stolen and my heart no longer beats."
"Hahh... Bruce! Trust me, I will make certain that time won't come for a long while yet."
Afterwards as they snuggled he thought about the fact that they had different floors despite always sleeping in the same bed. The question was, which floor was the most comfortable one?
Natasha looked at Steve gravely, her expression carefully blank.
"They've found Barnes. They are bringing him in."
It had been a rather quiet day. No calls for assemble. No angry phone calls. Nothing. In fact, Steve had enjoyed just sitting quietly on the sofa, Tony leaning against his chest while playing on his phone. Because work didn't mean sudoku. The soldier didn't care. Being able to hold his boyfriend and hopefully soon-to-be husband was enough. Of course, that meant something bad was about to happen. Natasha had been out, now she entered the room. Her voice was grave and her face expressionless.
"They've found Barnes and brought him in", she said. In his arms Tony tensed. Shoulders going up and body freezing. Not wanting to risk his boyfriend bolting he pulled him closer. Not squeezing. Just holding.
"Where is he?"
"The helicarrier. He is asking for you."
"He remembers me?"
"We don't know. He ask for you by name, that's all." Without another word the spy spun on her heels and left. Leaving the two men in awkward silence.
"You should go to him."
"I mean, it's Bucky Barnes. You must be thrilled to have him back. Just let me know if I need to cancel the engagement party."
"It is not like I can compare to your lost love, right. I get it, even if th.. mhmm!"
Really. Sometimes the only way to make the engineer shut up was by occupying his mouth. Kissing him worked wonders.
"Tony. Bucky is like a brother. We have never been or will never be lovers. I love you. And if you don't want me to go see him, I won't."
"You can't do that! He is your friend, you've been looking for him and he is asking for you."
"I can do that. You are more important and I know this is difficult for you."
"Steven Grant Rogers", Tony said grabbing his face. "If you don't go meet your friend, I will go there myself and drag Barnes ass over here. You are not allowed to make a choice between us. Understand?"
"Says the guy who was prepared to bow out a minute ago", Steve chuckled.
"Shut up. Do as I say."
"Alright Tony." Pulling the genius close to him he kisses those soft lips. "I can ask Wilson to come with us. It might be a good opportunity for you to meet him."
"You want me to come?"
Sam had never met Tony Stark face to face and seeing the guy was interesting to say the least. Shorter than expected, wearing sunglasses indoors and making a steady stream of comments. All Steve did was smile and occasionally hug his boyfriend. The Winter Soldier was held in a containment chamber, looking exhausted. When they entered the space just outside the unit he raised his head.
"Hi Steve", he said.
"Bucky? You remember."
"Kind of. Who are these guys?"
"Sam Wilson, aka Falcon. You ripped of my wings."
"Um... sorry? I'm sure I had a bad reason. And you are..."
"Tony Stark", the billionaire said and took of his sunglasses. "Genius extraordinaire and emotional support."
"Stark... oh. You are here to kill me?"
"Nope. That would put a damper on my sex life."
Wilson winced. Way too much information. He expected Rogers to get embarrassed or angry. Instead he laughed and gave Stark a kiss. Which actually caused Barnes to break out laughing.
"This is gold! You, who used to complain about my dalliances, are having a romp with another guy!"
"I'm not having 'romp', Bucky. Tony is my boyfriend. More soon I hope."
"Big, public proposal, Rogers", Stark winked.
"Naturally. But the fact that you remember that detail, Bucky... you are alright?"
"Kind of. Being locked up like this is crap."
"Yeah, who decided to keep people in a petri dish", the billionaire muttered. "You know what, you are coming with us. There is space in the Tower."
"You don't know me, Stark", Barnes said sadly sinking down to sit on the floor. "If you did, you wouldn't want me anywhere near you."
"I know about my parents", Stark said, studying his nail. "If that's what you are referring to. It is true that I don't know you but I know Steve. And he knows you. I already told him I refuse to let him choose between us. So, you are coming to the Tower. No arguments."
Okay, maybe he was a bit hasty but it was simple enough to install Barnes on Thor's former floor. The place was already prepared for godly strenght, a super soldier was nothing in comparison. It did mean he didn't have to make remodels on another floor though. Barnes looked around the space, clearly taking in the reinforcements.
"Geez... who lived here before? A boulder?"
"A god, actually", Tony said. "Two, to be specific. One wad kicked off the team and the other got his own floor."
"A god? Really?"
"A Norse god. You can meet one of them during dinner. I bet you two will find things in common."
"You do, huh?"
"Say Stark... how did you and Steve end up together?"
"Honestly? I have no idea. For some reason he loves me and I still can't figure out why. I mean, anyone would fall in love with Steve. Kind, loyal and a heart bigger than his brain. That he comes in a delicious package is just a bonus." Tony realised the former Asset was smiling at him. "What?"
"To my knowledge only one other person has seen him like that, excluding myself and his mom. And that was Agent Carter. I knew he loved her back then. I'm glad he has someone now who can see beyond the physical. Skinny or strong, that was all they saw. And Steve, he has always been drawn to those who challenge status quo. I'd say you fit that description pretty well."
"... see you at dinner, Barnes..."
"Call me Bucky. Any guy who manages to snare Steve deserves to call me that."
Him snaring Steve? More like the other way around. Leaving the former war hero he made his way down to the workshop. Only, someone was already waiting for him.
"What's up Cap?"
"Tony, you are clearly not comfortable with this. So why are you doing it?"
"Why would you think I have a problem with it?"
"Because you came here to hide. Only a handful of people can come in here without your explicit permission and most of them still needs to be cleared by Jarvis."
Damn it. Why did his boyfriend has to be so perceptive? Slumping Tony sat down in a chair.
"Because I meant what I said, I don't want you to choose. It is already a miracle that you want me, I'm not going to give you an ultimatum."
"How is it a miracle that I want you? I love you! Please Tony, don't think about yourself like this. Bucky is important to me, yes. But so are you. I have never loved anyone like I love you."
"Not even Peggy Carter?"
"Not even Peggy Carter." Steve was towering over him and then lifted the engineer into his arms, carrying him away.
"Hey, what the fuck? Put me down! Damn you Steve! Put me down!"
"In a moment. I got Loki to help me with this and I fear he might loose his patience."
"Help you with wha... oh..." they had come to a stop at one of the large windows. Across the skyline, to big to be seen from the ground and likely difficult to see from another angle, was a message written.
Will you marry me Tony?
"Big. Public. Over the top. Just like you wanted it. So. What do you say?"
Tony's breath hitched and he realised he was on the verge of crying. He wasn't usually someone who became emotional and certainly not one who cried easily. Yet watching that ridiculous proposal, one that showed Steve truly understood him, made something melt in his heart.
"Yes. Alright. Yes."
"Thank you", and the soldier actually put him down. Only to hug him close and kiss him softly. "You are the love of my life Anthony Edward Stark. I swear to you, I will love you always."
"I had no idea you were a sap, Steve. But, yeah. I love you too. Thank you for loving me."
Bruce was confused as to why Loki had prepared what looked like a party. Extravagant dishes, elegant table setting and even a large cake waiting as dessert. He refused to say anything, only grinning. As Natasha, Clint and Barnes joined them they looked equally confused. It wasn't until Steve and Tony walked in that the reason was made clear. Magic firework shot up forming big red and gold letters "HE SAID YES" and a golden ribbon transformed into two rings. Settling on each of the men's left finger. The fourth one. Understanding dawning the other began clapping.
"Congratulations, Punk", Barnes said. "I'm glad for you."
"Thanks, Jerk. Let's eat, yeah?"
"Not yet", the Trickster grinned. "You two need to kiss first."
"This isn't a wedding McGonagall."
"No, it is an engagement party I worked very hard to arrange. In secret. Now kiss." Tony opened his mouth as to argue but Steve just took a gentle hold of his face and kissed his thoroughly. The assassination trio wolf whistled and applauded. Making the engineer push his boyfriend - right, fiancé - of him so he could glare at them.
"Don't act like you are at the circus", he growled. "You have all seen us kiss before."
"But not after your betrothal, Stark", Loki nodded gravely. "Now, let's eat."
It was a proper three course dinner with appetizers, main course and dessert. Sweet melon with brie cheese followed by roasted beef with gravy and then the big cake, which made more sense now when Bruce knew why they celebrated. Served to the meal was some kind of apple cider, bubbly and sweet with the most golden hue he had ever seen. While they were eating the god of mischief had this smug grin on his face. Almost all of them assumed he had some prank planned or was feeling pleased with himself that he had tricked them. Of course Tony was intelligent enough to see through it.
"Alright miss Cackle, what have you done", he challenged as he downed another glass of cider. If possible, Loki's grin grew even wider and he sipped his own drink calmly.
"This cider is called Idun's Tears. I'm among thr few in all the Realms who know how to make it. In fact, I created it. Idun has been very, very generous with her harvest ever since."
"Think Stark, who is Idun in the Norse pantheon?"
"Yes, but of what?" Finally it fell into place for Bruce who eyed the cider curiously.
"She is the goddess of youth", he said. "Is this made of Golden apples? The one that grants the gods immortality?"
"That claim is slightly exaggerated. We still live and die after all. But, it does grant us our resilience and strong endurance. It's effects are a bit weaker when drunk like this but only marginally."
"Right..." the engineer glared at him. "That's the effect on gods. What of puny humans?"
"Oh, you know. Healing any ailment, bringing you back to the age of physical prime and an overall boost. Not to mention improved strenght and stamina."
"You've made us into gods?!" Clint said incredulously.
"Of course not", the Trickster scoffed. "Only the Norns can do that. Your constitution has been brought closer to that of the higher races. Aesir, Vanir and Jotun. Making you less killable and adding some decades to your life."
"Some decades?" Tony had narrowed his eyes.
"Yes. A couple of dozens or so."
"A couple of dozens? Over two hundred years?"
"Something like that. I'm not sure how much any of you have drank so it is hard to say."
"You didn't think you should ask us first?!"
"The way you people drag your feet? Please."
"Great..." Barnes muttered. "Another two centuries of Hydra in my head..."
"Why would they be in your head?" The god seemed genuinely confused.
"They brainwashed me. I have no idea what they actually did and how much is still in there."
"Why didn't you just say so?" Loki tilted his head. "I'm a sorcerer. It is a simple thing for me to remove any trace of them."
The others kept glaring at the Trickster who wasn't bothered at all. Bruce just took one pale hand in his. He understood. Loki didn't want to be left behind, alone and he had no other friends in the whole universe. It was making them live as long as him or him joining them in death. At least that was probably how he viewed it. Once everyone realised this, he would be forgiven.
Almost everything was ready. Thor had managed to get the support of his friends in this endeavour. All that was left was Odin lifting the ban on travels to Midgard. It was difficult, not feeling resentment towards his brother. But he tried not to. True, Frigga still kept her distance and even his father refused to look further into Loki's activities. He had learnt that his mother had lifted the spell on the Trickster, meaning there were truly nothing keeping him in check. The only one voicing his concerns were Hogun and he did so in private.
"Are you sure this is wise?" the Vanir asked.
"Wise or not, it is necessary", Thor replied.
"You don't think the king would have acted if Loki was doing something nefarious. I've told you honestly that he is not a person I like and I know he had done questionable things. But this plan of yours... I fear it will backfire."
"Nonsense. Once I've shown Father what Loki has been doing he will give my brother the treatment he needs."
"And what if you are wrong? What if Loki really isn't doing anything? What if we end up interfering with Odin's plans?"
"That would be a disaster but I'm not mistaken, Hogun. I know my brother."
"...I'm no longer so sure you do. Promise me one thing, Thor."
"If you are wrong, about any detail, you will make amends to Loki. Properly."
"Of course, but why is this a worry for you?"
"I'm Vanir, Thor, and Loki is a powerful sorcerer. Push him too far and Thanos will be only one of our problems."
Shaking his head the Thunderer kept up his preparations. He wasn't wrong. There was no way he could be.
As he had predicted, once everyone cooled their heads they realised why Loki had tricked them into drinking the cider. Prolonging their lives. And when they did, they forgave him. After all, loneliness was something familiar to all of them. Some more than the others. Bruce had never been angry. If his lover wanted him so badly, how could he be. Speaking of whom.
"Bruuuce", came the familiar voice in a sing-song kind of way. The god of mischief stood in what had become their bedroom, since Loki hardly ever went back to his own floor. In his hand he held a can of spray cream. Green eyes alight with mischief.
"Why can I guess what you intend to do with that?"
"Because you know me very, very, well."
"The session with Barnes went well?"
"Mmm? Oh, he is fine. There were some trigger words I removed. No harm, no foul. Let's not talk about him, hmm? I can think of something much more fun."
"I'm sure you can", setting his book aside he took of his shirt and opened his zipper, making the god grin. He sauntered over and glanced at the book.
"A Midgardian reading primer? Odd choice of literature."
"I'm... teaching the Hulk how to read..." Loki burst out laughing at the admission and kissed him lovingly.
"I'm sure he appreciate it", leaning in close he whispered in Bruce's ear. "Hulky dear, you are very much welcome to be part of our... fun times but don't feel like you jave to stick around, mm?"
In his mind the scientist felt Hulk huff a laugh and basically rolled over to go to sleep. Their communication was extremely good these days. Being both the same person and separate. Somehow it never felt awkward and the Trickster never made them feel like one was in the way. Rocky start or not, both man and beast loved the mischievous god. And he, wonders of wonder, loved them in turn.
"You have a little something on your shirt", Tony told Bruce as the man joined him in the workshop. Looking down his science bro examined the fabric till he found the stain.
"Oh, that's whipped cream. Guess I didn't see it."
"Why would you have whipped cream on your shirt?"
"Let's just say Loki enjoys playing with his food sometimes."
It was a bit embarrassing but it took the engineer a minute or two before he caught the meaning. When he did he nearly dropped his tools.
"Loki has a food kink? Really? And you play along?"
Bruce simply shrugged. "It is harmless and kind of fun. Isn't that was sex is about. Although, I admit eating Nutella has become a tad bit difficult."
"Geez, never took you for a kink. Wait... Nutella? Oh no. Oh my gosh! That's what he meant? He used Nutella? Oh no!"
"What are you imagining now?"
"He used Nutella! During sex!"
"Well... yeah. The first time he gave me an oral."
"That's even worse! How could you?"
"Tony, let me make this absolutely clear, alright? He gave me a blowjob. That's all."
"A... blowjob. Like, he dipped you dick in a jar of Nutella?"
"Not quite but close enough... anyway, have you and Steve discussed wedding dates or do you intent to wait?"
"If I wait too long, I will bail... I'm trying to convince him we should hold the wedding the fourth of July."
"Independence day? Really?"
Tony figetted with his tools, feeling a light blush colour his cheek. "It is also Steve's birthday. I thought... that I could, kind of, be his birthday present. You know..." Bruce chuckled and shook his head.
"You can do that without it being your wedding day. It is a special occasion, don't let it be overshadowed by other things."
"Guess you have a point... I just... want it to be special you know. Be significant. And his birthday would be that."
His science bro sat in thoughtful silence, starting up his ancient computer. Why had he not been given an upgraded one? It seemed like the engineer wouldn't get an answer when his friend spoke up.
"What about the summer solstice? Loki told me that humans have always paid attention to either the solstice or the equinox. In the northern hemisphere, once you go far enough up, the sun don't set at all."
"... you know what. That sounds pretty good. When is the summer solstice?"
"Twenty-second of June if I'm not mistaken."
"Awesome!" He would have to ask Steve and then they needed to find a venue. The last one wasn't an issue, seeing that he was Tony Stark. Throw enough money around and people moved. Simple as that.
To ask Loki to stop being mischievous would be to ask him to let go of his very nature. Meaning you couldn't do that. So, the Avengers had learnt to live with it. Especially since it was usually pretty harmless. Even then, it was pretty funny watching the Trickster torment Tony by making seemingly innocent remarks about food. Since the engineer knew the god had a food kink, and Loki knew that Tony knew, his imagination fired on every cylinder every time the raven made a remark or played with his food. No one had much sympathy for the billionaire, Bruce almost considered it payback. Almost. Because his friend gave him horrified looks whenever he lingered on a food item too long. Geez...
The winter had given away to spring and somehow, everything was quiet. There were months since the last super villain attack. After some investigations the spy duo had found a mole in the skeleton of Shield. Said mole had been leaking private information to websites and even pictures. It had not been malicious but the man was fired anyway. That was how people had found out Bruce and Loki were a thing. Interestingly, the majority of people either didn't care or were supportive.
"Okidoki, children", Tony announced. "Steve and I are heading out to look at venues."
"Have fun", the scientist said, not looking up from his book.
"Clint and I are also heading out", Natasha said. "To find a suitable caterer."
"Your wedding, Stark. What else?"
"Er... That's kind of weird..." their voices faded. Soon the Tower was dominated by comfortable silence. Loki joined Bruce a short while later, leaning against him, sipping tea.
"Teaching Hulk how to read?"
"Not at the moment. You really find that funny?" The god had chuckled and was now giving him a wide smile.
"A bit", he admitted. "I just think it goes to show how Hulk is in many ways an entity of his own."
"That's one way to put it", the scientist said, smiling a bit himself. "Although, some claim we are in a poly-amorous relationship or have some odd three way going on."
"Hmm... they are not entirely wrong but not correct either." The Trickster came even closer and gave Bruce a kiss. "You are mine, that's all that matters to me."
"I'd say likewise. I love Loki."
"I love you too, Bruce."
This were heating up but then a pillar of light slammed into the Tower. Outside stood four men and one woman. In the front were Thor.
Odin had finally allowed travel to Midgard and not a moment too late. Thor frowned as his brother scrambled off the sofa and backed away. Banner got up and crossed his arms. Silently challenging the Asgardians. This was worse than he had thought. They moved inside, trying to look non-threatening.
"We seek no harm, doctor Banner", he assured the man. "Please, I need to speak with my brother. It is of out most importance."
"That's not up to me, Thor. And what of your friends?"
"We are simply curious about Thor's human shieldbrothers", Fandral said and smiled widely. "Loki, you look well. Worry not, we scolded the oaf for you."
At those words the Trickster seemed to relax somewhat. Making him come closer. Still fairly suspicious but that was his norm. Hogun and Sif went to the mortal, speaking to him quietly.
"You should be pleased to hear that Father has the Mad Titan handled for now."
"I believe it when I see it."
"... I understand. I have something for you."
Swiftly Thor grabbed the other's arm and placed the first cuff on his wrist. They were designed to dampen magic. Even though he was prepared with the second one, he never got the chance. Loki let out a blood curling scream, tore himself out of the Thunderer's grasp and started clawing at the cuff.
"Take it off! Take it off!" His screams grew more and more frantic. "TAKE IT OFF!"
Bruce eyed the two approaching him with apprehension. He had heard descriptions of these people and knew the Trickster had a very rocky relationship with them. The woman was likely Sif, someone who had been described as high strung and obsessed with Thor. Always pulling the other three along, taunting and accusing the god of mischief. Her companion had to be Hogun, who apparently wasn't Asgardian but belonged to another race. He was grim faced and looked uncomfortable. Like he wasn't quite on-board with his friends' plan.
A scream of pure horror drew his attention to the two brothers. He felt cold steel whisper over his arm. Looking down he saw that the leather bracelet Loki had made had been cut off. Meeting the eyes of the grim warrior he saw regret in those dark eyes.
"I'm sorry", he mumbled and backed away. More screams filled the room, panic saturating them. Turning Bruce saw his lover clawing at his own arm, at a metal cuff sitting snugg on the skin. Terror was written over the handsome face and hot red anger boiled in the human. With the bracelet he had been able to control his transformations and even before that he seldom lost control. Now, with it gone and Loki in a complete meltdown he felt his control slipping away rapidly
Nononononono! Hulk! Stop, Loki needs us! We can't go berserk, not now!
He had gotten so used to be able to communicate with his alter ego that the static was terrifying. No, he needed.... they needed...
Hulk shrugged off the remnants of the shirt, looking around. Something was going on. Banner had become a quiet buzz in his mind. Inaudible. Hulk didn't like that. He also didn't like the screaming. Little Loki was unhappy. Little Loki needed Banner but Banner wouldn't come back. Looking at his feet Hulk saw the leather bracelet Little Loki had made them. Someone had broken it. No Banner. Hulk had no Banner. And Little Loki was hurting.
Hulk didn't care much for Banner's and the god's odd activities. So much grunting and strange wrestling. Apparently they felt good doing that. Sometimes they would read a book for Hulk and Banner had taught Hulk to read. The god was also very kind and gentle. Convincing Banner to let Hulk come out for no other reason than being out. No dangers. No fighting. Fighting was fun but Hulk liked being out and doing nothing.
The screaming got worse and a bunch if strangers were eyeing Hulk warily. Weapons drawn. No Banner. But one Hulk. Determined Hulk threw Thor out of the way, instead of stomping him like he wanted, and lifted Loki into his arms. The god was trying to get something off his arm. Carefully Hulk pinched the metal and it broke under his strenght. Blinking the Trickster seemed to notice him properly for the first time.
"Hulk? What...? Why...?"
"Loki sad. Hurt. Hulk help."
"You still want to help my brother?" Thor said, getting back to his feet. "Why? My brother's magic should be broken!"
Hulk growled. "Hulk hate Thor. Thor's friend took Hulk's bracelet. Now Banner is buzzing not talking."
"I can make a new one", Little Loki said faintly. "You are here now my dear. Thank you."
Hugging the god Hulk glared at the Asgardians. They seemed at loss and just looked at each other.
"I thought you said Loki was controlling the monster", another blonde said.
"Hulk no monster! Hulk is Hulk. Loki good. Thor bad."
"Easy my sweet, they have reason to be suspicious", the god in his arms sounded so tired and defeated. It made Hulk angrier. Being with Loki made him happy. Seeing Loki through Banner made him happy. He wanted Loki to be happy.
"Puny gods hurt Loki. Hulk like Loki. Like Banner."
"What is he talking about brother?" Thor tried to come closer again, holding his stupid hammer.
"No! No Thor!"
"Thank you, Hulk", Loki murmured, slumping in his arms. "You and Bruce both are very important to me. But you can't fight them all and I don't want you to get hurt on my behalf."
"Good thing he won't be alone then, McGonagall."
The moment they saw the Bifrost they immediately returned to the Tower. It was pure luck they were fairly close. Jarvis was giving them a running update of the situation. A Hulk-out was a bit alarming but surprisingly the green meanie wasn't causing any destruction. With his suit Tony arrived first, Steve piggybacking. A robot came hurtling with the vibranium shield, allowing the soldier to pick it up. Four additional people were in the Tower alongside Thor.
"Friend Stark, Captain, I have no wish to fight either if you", the Thunderer said.
"Then explain what you are doing in my Tower, tormenting my friends."
"Stark, I merely wished to save you all from my brother's machinations."
"Oh no! You don't get to say that", the engineer would have stormed up to the idiot if it wasn't for Steve's hand on his shoulder.
"Did it ever occur to you to simply talk with us first? Get our side of things?" he said. "Thor... Loki is our friend. A good one at that. He has done a lot for us. All of us. Including scaring super villains into behaving."
"He stopped you from going out in glorious battles?" a fat, bearded man said, hefting his axe. "You truly are dishonourble, Loki."
The Hulk hugged the Trickster closer and growled loudly at the fatso. Feeling the same way Tony raised his repulsors. Beside him Steve took stance, shield at ready.
"Listen well you dumb asses, we don't want to fight. The whole point is to prevent death and destruction. Fighting isn't glorious. It is dirty, dangerous and devastating. Anyone who actively seeks out a fight is selfish."
It looked almost like the Asgardians wanted a brawl when Thor calmed them down. Mumbling something about "Midgardians" and "different". Heck yeah they were.
"Stark, Captain. What of my brother then? His control of the Hulk? Can't you see how dangerous that is?"
"Loki isn't controlling Hulk", Steve said. "He is not controlling any of us."
"For fuck sake! Come on, Thunder pants, tell me you are not that stupid. Loki and Bruce are lovers. The bracelet one of you morons decided to cut off allowed Bruce and Hulk to communicate. It helped them and gave Bruce a chance to relax properly. To be intimate and close."
"Banner and Loki are... lovers?" Confusion painted Thor's face. "But... the Hulk..."
"Hulk like Loki!" the jolly green rumbled. Aforementioned god seemed exhausted and on the ebb of a major panic attack. He kissed a green cheek.
"I know", the Trickster said. "I'm safe now. You can let Bruce out, I promise. And I can make a new bracelet. We will read for you again later."
Hulk glared a last time at the Asgardians and then began shrinking down until Tony's science bro stood there blinking. His arms was still around Loki. Who took a shuddering breath and began crying silently.
Before anyone could speak, the Bifrost slammed into the Tower. Again.
He wasn't sure how he remained calm at the sight of Odin. The last time he saw the man was when he placed the obedience spell on him. Loki watched as his so-called father walked up to his brother, giving him that certified "I'm disappointed in you"-look. More tears slid down his cheeks, Bruce was slumping slightly from his transformation.
"Father?" Thor asked. "What are you doing here?"
"Wait, that's Odin?" Stark exclaimed but he was subsequently ignored.
"I thought I told you to leave your brother alone", the old king said to his son. "Why did you disobey me?"
"No, Thor. Loki has made wonderful progress here on Midgard and caused no trouble. We have been trying to tell you that your actions are questionable at best. Harmful at worst."
"Yeah, I go with harmful", Stark tried again, this time drawing Odin's attention. "Loki nearly died twice because of Thunder pants. And that's not counting the suicide attempt."
"I'm aware of the consequences of Thor's actions, mortal. I hoped he would learn from you."
"Loki is not a tool..." Bruce said, his voice lacking energy. "You used him."
"Loki is a prince of Asgard and it is his duty to help foster Thor into a king."
"Aha, yeah, see, I think that's the problem right there", the engineer said.
"I have to agree with Tony", Rogers said. "If you treat Loki like he is nothing more than a tool, how is Thor supposed to learn differently? He respects you, he puts up with us."
"That's not true!" Thor protested. "You are my friends!"
"But you didnt listen to us. We told you multiple times that you were abusing your brother and you didn't listen. Even today you came here, against our wishes, causing Loki more distress and pain. Your father is clearly not any better."
"Hmm, you might have a point", the old man mused. It was likely the physique of the super soldier, so similar to an Asgardian, that made the All-Father listen. Steve looked like a warrior. Tony did not. "Thor, do you understand the gravity of your actions?"
"Thor", Hogun said in his low voice. "You promised me, remember? That if you were mistaken, you would make genuine amends."
Finally, finally it seemed like his brother was understanding. He slumped. Defeated. Loki felt no victory. It hurt, seeing the god of thunder like that.
"You need to take responsibility", Odin agreed. "And since you can't learn as a god, you will have to learn as a mortal."
"No..." the Trickster mumbled. "No, I don't want that... no, please. Not because of me, not again!"
"Loki..." Bruce took his hands. "He needs this. In order to understand."
"But, this isn't like the last time. Your world knows him now, he will have enemies who would come after him. And he would be defenceless."
"You have a point McGonagall. Beside, I rather keep my eyes on him. Alright, Hannibal Lecter. Make Thunder Pants mortal but then he will stay with us. For both our and his sake."
"Very well", Odin pointedly ignored the odd nickname. That was for sure. "Thor, I take from you your powers and sentence you to spend one year completely mortal. If you by the end of the year can prove you have learnt restraint and responsibility, your powers will be returned to you."
It was nowhere near as dramatic as it had been that time after Jotunheim. The armour simply melted and Mjolnir dropped to the floor. Loki couldn't stop crying, he wasn't sure if he was sad, angry or happy. Everything was so muddled that he couldn't make sense of it.
"As for you, Loki", his so-called father said. "Like I told your brother, your progress here on Midgard have been wonderful. There is still some work to do but nothing extraordinary. You may return to Asgard with me."
The mortals voices blended together. Hugging Bruce closer the Trickster shook his head. He could see the dislike on Sif's face, the disdain on Volstagg's and leering amusement on Fandral's. Even if Hogun had spoken up, it wasn't for his sake. It was for Thor and Asgard.
"Return to what? The hatred and blatant disrespect? The loneliness? To being blamed for everything even though I did nothing? I... I can't do that... this is where I have my life now. All I've accomplished is thanks to the people currently in my life."
"You wish to remain with the mortals?"
"Even if it meant renouncing your title?"
"That title has never truly belonged to me and has only brought grief. Yes, All-Father. Even if it meant renouncing my title."
"Very well, you may remain on Midgard. You still have your title. Lady Sif, Warriors three. It is time for all of you to return to Asgard. This time, you will not come to Thor's aid. He needs to overcome this on his own."
With that the old king took the Asgardians and left. Once more shaking the Tower. As if on cue Barton and Romanoff stormed in followed by Barnes - who had been off to see his therapist, Loki could take away the trigger words but not heal seventy years of trauma. They looked around bewildered before locking in on the former thunder god. Stark held up his hands.
"Woah, woah. Easy there people. All-Daddy has made Thor mortal. He doesn't have godly strstrenght and power anymore. Don't think that gets you off the hook though, Thunder Pants. We are still pissed with you." The blonde slumped even further and made an attempt at lifting Mjolnir. Which, of course, didn't even budge. "Wait... if you can't move it... aw dang it. That freaking old man left an immovable hammer in the middle of my floor!"
"That is very inconsiderate", Rogers agreed. He bent down, hefting the hammer experimentally. Only to stumbled as Mjolnir lifted from the floor. Held easily in one hand. Regaining his balance Steve looked around sheepishly. "Oops?"
In the shocked silence Loki did the only possible thing he could do. He broke down in a roaring laughter. Much to the confusion of his friends and brother.
Before the end of the day a new bracelet adorned Bruce's arm. It was a bit more elaborate and personal than the one before. Having more significance as well. With a sigh of relief he had felt Hulk settle in his mind, back to what they had gotten used to. Loki was doing his best impression of an octopus, limbs wrapped around the scientist. Then again, they were currently making love. It was rare that he took the active role but today it felt right. His lover clearly agreed, moaning and arching his back. After climaxing they remained in their embrace, unwilling to part. So many things could have gone wrong. That they were still being together was nothing short of a miracle.
"Your dad let you go pretty easily", Bruce noted.
"He believes himself to be clever", Loki smirked. "He believes that he can wait me out. A few decades at most."
"But you prolonged our lives!"
"Indeed. But Odin doesn't know that", the grin was downright wicked and was just so Loki. He loved it. Bending down the scientist kissed his lover. His member responding eagerly. "My, someone is very happy. Come on then, my love. Make me scream your name in pleasure."
"You really don't know what you do to me."
"Oh, trust me. I know perfectly well."
"I love you, Bruce. More than anything or anyone."
"I love you too, Loki. I love you."
In Sweden we celebrate on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. But I will spend considerable time on a train so I should be able to publish the last chapter before the end of the day. Would it count as a Christmas present? I don't know.
The wedding between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers made, unsurprisingly, international headlines. With both of them being public people and all. To minimize potential damage the ceremony was to be held in a secure location and only a select few journalists were allowed to attend. And that only the ceremony itself. Loki had taken charge of the following reception and was coordinating the caterers. Bruce couldn't help but laugh at the fact that Thor had been roped in to help with manual labour. Carrying stacks of chairs, picking up boxes with wine and generally being made to run around a lot. He was not very pleased with his brother who didn't care about the glares he got.
Finally, it was time to take their places. Somehow they had found a Catholic priest willing to officiate the wedding, even if the union itself by necessity was civil. No one was surprised that Bucky Barnes was Steve's best man and Bruce was Tony's. There was no maid of honour. Pepper was not an option for obvious reasons and Natasha had declined. A trumpeting fanfare announced the couple, the engineer had refused the wedding march. Stating there were no bride so why play "Here comes the bride"? To the same end, neither wore white. Instead they had black suits with red - Tony - and blue - Steve - with black ties. Nor did they hold a bouquet of flowers.
The priest smiled and nodded to the men before beginning the ceremony.
"We are here today to witness not only the union of two people but the union of two souls, hearts and minds", he greeted. "Both are men who have overcome overwhelming odds to stand here together. Coming to face with death and countless dangers. And now they are willing to face the challenges of matrimony, of being in a same-sex relationship when there are many opposed. Their love and dedication is remarkable. It is an honour to stand here with these brave men."
A sniffle was heard somewhere among the crowd. Not everyone present were known to Bruce but that was just as well. Beside him Loki had a thoughtful expression, head tilted. Their hands were clasped together.
"Now the grooms may say their wows."
"Steve, you are crazy", Tony said, startling a laughter from the audience. "You tried to join the army while being more skin and bone than flesh. Took part in a experimental procedure and became Captain America. Then you crashed into the Arctic with a plane. You are crazy but because you are crazy, I got to meet you. You are crazy, because for some reason you love me. Despite seeing me at my worst, you still love me. I want nothing beyond that love and to give my love in turn."
"Tony, I love you", Steve said. "You are an amazing person. Brilliant, witty and intelligent. Everything about you is so full of life and your strenght is nothing short of remarkable. I have nothing to give you except my love and I will give you that, for the rest of my life."
"Anthony Edward Stark, do you take Steven Grant Rogers to be your husband in the eyes of the law and of the Lord. Do you promise to honour him, respect him and love him till time is no more?"
"Steven Grant Rogers, do you take Anthony Edward Stark to be your husband in the eyes of the law and of the Lord. Do you promise to honour him, respect him and love him till time is no more?"
"Then, by the powers invested by the state if New York and by the blessing of God, I pronounce you wed. You may now kiss."
The super soldier yanked his husband forward by the collar of his suit, giving him a kiss that was barely suitable for a public setting. Wrapping his arms around Steve's neck Tony melted into the kiss. Someone started applauding and cheering, causing others to follow suit. Both men were blushing slightly as they broke apart and waved to the guests. Then they linked arms and walked back down the line while Back in black started playing.
"Typical Stark", Loki said, grinning. "He always has to show off."
"I'm surprised he waited till now to pull a stunt like this", Bruce laughed. "It suits them, breaking expectations like this."
"I agree. Let's get herding shall we?"
The reception had winded down to after-party and now only the Avengers remained, and a few friends. Tony and Steve had sneaked off not long ago, shedding clothing in their wake. Good thing the after-party had moved to Avengers Tower. Clint was having a discussion with Sam about which bird was superior. Falcon or hawk. At the same time Natasha was forcing Thor to clean up after himself. For once.
Bruce and Loki were sitting together in a window seat. The Trickster was leaning against the scientist, face against his chest and arms him. They had not spoken in a while. There was no need to.
"Bruce..." the god said hesitantly.
"Would you like to have a child? With me?"
"I can make myself fertile in my female form. If I remain in it I can become pregnant and give birth. Even breastfeed if I stay female until our child is old enough."
"Loki, I need to ask you. Do you really want a child with me?" Hope was blooming in Bruce's chest. After the accident he had given up on the idea of having a family. Of having children. "What about the radiation?"
"I can block anything harmful to the baby and radiation doesn't affect me. Yes, Bruce, I do want a child with you. I want us to be a family."
Kissing the raven he took a pale hand in his. "What do you say about we go and try to make that baby?" The smirk he got in return was just perfect.
Ta dah! Afterword!
So, that happened. I don't normally ship Bruce Banner with anyone but some months ago (six? I don't remember) BellamyBelladona asked me if I ever had considered writing a Gammafrost story. Which I hadn't and I wasn't giving it high odds. But my mind being the way it is started trying to find ways to make it work. For a long time, it didn't. It wasn't until I started thinking about a storyline I wanted for Steve and Tony that I founda way to incorporate Loki/Bruce as well.
I wouldn't call this story a slow burn. Those in my experience goes from 0 to a 100. More like slow-ish progression. I was quite pleased that I managed to make the development of their relationship feel natural.
There is always something about stories where Thor is being an ass or being abusive that tend to feel a bit dismissive. Loki is often forced to stand up for himself or just suffer. Which was why I wanted the Avengers to oppose his actions. There is no redemption arc for our Thunderer in this story but I don't think one is needed.
On a completely other note. Writing good sex scence is something of a balancing act in my experience. There is a fine line between being erotic and being crude. Unfortunately many fanfictions cross the line into crude. Usually by being overly descriptive or being basically poorly written porn. An erotic scene hints at everything while revealing almost nothing. Allowing the reader to fill in the gaps with their own imagination. Oh, and a sex scene for the sake of a sex scene is... not a good idea.
My avoidance of crude language is both a preference and me being uncomfortable with crude language. It can easily feel out of place.
Anyhow. Don't feel afraid to leave suggestions. I don't do prompts but welcome ideas, suggestions and wishes. Even if it might take a while before it shows up. My next story will be named "Edge" and will feature a very common couple.
Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!