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Wrestling for Breath

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Toni had grown rather used to seeing strange things in the tower.

She lived with the Avengers after all– she dealt with magic and aliens on the daily, and the love her life was a thousand-year-old space Viking who had chosen to give up immortality so that they could live on Earth together. (And yeah, okay, so Loki had chosen it out of a few given options for her atonement– but Toni liked to think it was a more romantic kind of choice.)

So, yeah, you could say that she was good with weird.

But that didn’t mean that she didn’t pause as she walked into the Avengers’ common area.

“Uh,” she said, her eyes widening at the sight before her. She cleared her throat, her mouth feeling a little dry, but she didn’t even bother trying to formulate any more coherent words. She knew that would be a battle she’d only lose.

Of course. She wasn’t pausing because what she was seeing was weird, per se. In fact, its weirdness stemmed only from the fact that it was such an incredibly normal scene, especially considering the kinds of personalities that were all crammed together in this small space.

It was just.


“Toni!” Clint sounded excited to see her, though his tone was a little hushed as he gestured with one hand for Toni to go and join the gaggle of Avengers who were crowded around the dining table. “Get over here, we’re all placing bets.”

Toni swallowed again before making her approach, and she just about managed to say something understandable. “Uh. Thousand on Loki?”

Clint pulled a face that Toni only just kind of saw out of the corner of her eye. “You always have to do this,” he muttered. Then, a little louder– “Toni’s got ten on Loki.”

There were a few agreeable mutters at that, but Toni didn’t really pay attention. To be honest, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to tell you who else was around the table. Her gaze was on her lover, her lips parting slightly– and yeah, okay, so she was staring. Gaping, even. But as Loki’s mouth turned up slightly into a smirk, and even though those green eyes did not budge, Toni knew that Loki hardly minded.

Toni gaping

And, hey, you couldn’t really blame her for staring. It wasn’t often Toni got to see Loki’s shoulders– her girlfriend preferred long sleeves, whether they be Midgardian or Asgardian wear. Though lately, Loki had appeared to favour the former more and more often.

But now… Loki was wearing a black singlet that Toni was pretty sure was the very one she had searched everywhere for that morning, showing skin and ink that Toni normally only saw in the bedroom. Loki’s powerful shoulders and arms were on full display, and the lines of the tattoo that Toni loved to run her lips and tongue over shining dark against pale skin. Her black hair was pulled back into a messy pony tail, and her expression was fierce as she held her opponent’s gaze.

Sitting on the other side of the table, Natasha looked calm, far calmer than anyone else could have been under that glare. She too wore no sleeves, the light grey tank top standing as something of a contrast to the black of Loki’s singlet, her hair gleaming bright red in its bun to match the fire in her eyes.

Both women looked like they were about to charge into battle as they stared each other down, their hands clasped between them, elbows on the table and arm muscles bulging with exertion.

Loki and Nat arm wrestling

Well, Toni could stare at Loki for years without looking away and never grow bored, that was fact that she’d come to terms with quite a fair while ago, right? But there was something about the look of determination in Loki’s green eyes, the way that a few strands of her hair had pulled out of her ponytail and were brushing over her cheeks – the way that her arm was starting to tremble a little even though neither woman’s hand had moved in the slightest – which was making Toni’s heart start to race, which had her skin starting to feel a little warm.

And yeah, an arm wrestle wasn’t weird, not in the slightest. There had been plenty of arm wrestles between members of the team in the past. But, this, uh– this was a little different from when Thor and Hulk decided to try it out, or even when Steve joined in. Yeah, those times were fun, but. As Toni took her place beside Clint, as her eyes dragged over smooth skin and taut muscle– all that warmth she was feeling began to pool a little further down in a way that it never had as she’d watched the guys.

And then, as if things weren’t already hard enough for Toni to deal with without combusting—

“Come now, Agent Romanoff,” Loki hissed, baring her teeth in a deadly smile that had Toni sucking in a breath. “Surely this is not the best that you can do?”

“Oh honey, I’m only getting started,” Natasha replied, her own smirk more than matching Loki’s for fire. “Are your poor mortal arms growing tired?”

“I have more than enough strength for this,” Loki replied. “But how about you? Do you need a break?”

Natasha looked like she was about to respond– but then her arm tensed as she suddenly and sharply pushed

Their arms moved a few inches to the side, Nat gaining the upper hand– but then Loki pushed back, and they were soon dead upright once more.

“Good try,” Loki hissed, her voice a little more laboured than before. “But not good enough.”

Both of their expressions twisted as they fought with renewed effort, beads of sweat on their foreheads, tendons straining—

“You’ve got this Nat,” Clint cheered. “Come on—”

“No, Loki shall prevail,” Thor interrupted, shoving Clint hard enough that he bumped into Toni. “She is mighty—”

“Nat’s almost there—”

“My sister is stronger than Natasha could ever hope—”

“I’m already spending your money—”

“Then you will be out of pocket my friend, for your money shall be mine—

Toni tuned them out, too focused on the battle before her– but it seemed that something had shifted.

Natasha and Loki were no longer glaring at each other, though they both looked annoyed. And when their eyes met this time, looking up from their entwined fingers—

They didn’t plan aloud. They both seemed to flex the fingers of their clasped hands, the strain in their expression clearing in favour of something mischievous. And oh, their smirks were still dangerous, but now it was in a way that made a shiver go down Toni’s spine. She knew them both well enough to not be worried by this, but… that didn’t stop her from taking a slight step back.

Just in case.

“Shall we?” Loki asked, her voice positively sweet.

“Yes,” Natasha agreed. “We shall.”

And then, together—

They both let go, and each slammed their palms against the surface of the table in the exact same moment, forfeiting the match.

“What?” Clint yelped.

“Good game,” Loki said, wiping her hand on her – on Toni’s – green sweatpants before getting to her feet.

“Let’s do it again some time,” Natasha suggested.

“Perhaps without an audience,” Loki agreed.

“Guys,” Clint whined. “This isn’t—”

“Fair?” Loki cut in, arching an eyebrow. “Perhaps you would like to finish the bout? If you want to take my place, I am sure that Agent Romanoff would not disagree.”

Natasha placed her elbow back on the table and flexed her fingers, her smile somewhat sweet but her eyes… well. They were doing something that was about the exact opposite of sweet.

“Uh– nah,” Clint said. “I think I’m—”

“Shame,” Loki sighed. Then she looked to Thor. “How about you, brother?”

“It is a pity that the match ended in such a way,” Thor said, voice stiff. “Compliments due to the effort of you both.”

Loki’s smirk widened at that, and then, as the others left the room, bickering amongst themselves – Thor and Clint with a disappointed slump, Natasha looking smug, and the others rather amused – she turned to look to Toni.

“And what about you?” She asked, stepping up close and lifting a hand to twist in Toni’s shirt. “Sad that you lost your bet?”

Toni’s lips curved up into a smile, and she wasted no time in reaching out to curl her arms around Loki’s waist. “Hardly,” she replied. “My girl’s a badass.”

Loki tilted her head, leaning in a little further. “Your girl?”

“In the sense that you can do literally anything you want to me right now,” Toni said, lifting her chin to brush her lips over the corner of Loki’s mouth. “Uh. Please?”

Loki laughed, a soft thing that skittered over Toni’s lips. “Whatever I want?” she asked, her voice this close to a purr– and Toni shifted closer so that their hips were pressed flush together, feeling so warm, feeling that ache.

“Well.” Toni slid one hand up to grip Loki’s hair, in the way that she knew her lover liked– while the other slipped down a little lower. “Don’t think I’m going to make it easy on you.”

“Ten bucks I’ll come out on top,” Loki taunted.

Toni grinned at the challenge. “I’ll take that bet.”

Loki’s lips tasted of the salt of exertion, but as those strong arms wrapped around Toni’s shoulders she only kissed Loki harder, deeper, pressing closer with a groan.

Her girlfriend was a badass, that was something that Toni would never not appreciate– and even when she lost yet another wager as she writhed under Loki on their bed, her smile never once fell from her lips.