“How many eggs did you say?” Loki asked as he opened a carton and inspected the eggs for cracks in their pale brown shells.
“Three, I think,” Tony replied, looking up from the bowl of brown sugar and butter he’d been trying to “cream” together — whatever that meant — with only moderate success. As it turned out, making a homogeneous mixture wasn’t all that easy, when one’s butter was cold to start with and, despite his dedicated smushing and smearing with a spatula and a whole lot of elbow grease, he still had only a grainy beige paste, which didn’t look “creamy” in the slightest. He squinted at the recipe card he’d borrowed from Rhodey — Mama Rhodes was a good cook, okay? — and found where it said “eggs.” Oops. “Oh, it’s just two, actually.”
Loki sighed dramatically, and Tony turned to see him press his lips together, holding a half of an eggshell in each of his hands. There were two more shells on the counter beside him.
“Can you... take one out?”
“Maybe.” Loki tried valiantly to scoop the slippery and now unnecessary egg from the bowl, but succeeded only in breaking one of the yolks. He set down the bowl and the measuring cup he’d been using to fish out the egg, and looked at Tony, who had been watching him the whole while. “No.”
“That’s okay,” Tony said helpfully. “Just start over!”
Loki tossed an eggshell at him — good-naturedly missing Tony’s head — and grabbed two more eggs from the carton.
Tony went back to his sugar-butter mixture, which was starting to soften up just slightly.
“Sir,” said JARVIS out of nowhere. “That might be easier to combine if you were to use an electric mixer.”
“J, I told you, we’re going to figure out this baking thing ourselves. That means no input from the peanut gallery!”
JARVIS did not reply, although there was a slight smugness to his silence that made Tony prepare himself for an “I told you so” moment from the AI, complete with video and everything.
Once the butter and sugar were as smooth as Tony could get them — and what do you know, they had even lightened a bit in color. That had to be good, right? — he added molasses and stirred until it was a nice, separated mess of the tar-like molasses and chunks of butter-sugar paste. Hmm.
“Maybe,” Loki paused to sniff at a bottle of vanilla extract before adding a spoonful to his two eggs, and whisking vigorously. “The electric mixer is a good idea.”
“You’re siding with JARVIS, Lokes? I’m hurt!” Tony mocked indignation, with a hand over his heart and everything, but Loki just smiled at him beatifically. Tony laughed, and smiled back, and then went to get out the hand mixer. It — point for JARVIS — made quick work of the molasses mixture.
Loki poured the eggs and vanilla into the bowl slowly, and Tony ran the mixer, at a low speed at first, and then faster when he started to get impatient. He stopped every now and then to scrape down the sides of the bowl with his spatula and to steal a few glances at Loki, who looked positively domestic with his long hair tied up out of his face, and an apron around his waist. Tony smiled to himself. It was cute, not that he’d ever say so out loud.
“What’s got you grinning like that?” And Loki must have been sneaking some glances of his own, because Tony had thought he’d been rather discrete.
“Nothing,” Tony shrugged, giving the batter a final stir before setting the spatula aside. “Besides just having you next to me.”
“Charmer.” Loki said it like an accusation, but Tony could tell by the sudden pinkness of his ears that he was pleased. Point for Tony.
“Alright, what’s next?” Tony looked at the recipe card again. “Dry ingredients. Do you wanna measure the flour or the spices?”
Instead of answering, Loki picked up the jar of cinnamon and a measuring spoon and waited for Tony to open the bag of flour.
Six cups of flour, several tablespoons of spice, and a narrowly avoided baking soda/powder mixup later, they realized they needed a bigger bowl.
With that accomplished, and everything whisked together, it was time to add it to the bowl of wet, brown, molasses-butter-egg... stuff.
Loki tipped a little of the dry mix into the bowl, and Tony turned the beaters on high.
It was amazing — upon future reflection — just how many corners and crevices flour could get into. Not even the insides of closed drawers and cabinets were spared. Loki and Tony, being closest to the bowl, got the worst of it.
Tony turned to Loki after a beat, mildly horrified to find the god’s face, shirt, and hair covered in off-white powder. Loki looked equally shocked.
Before Tony could speak, an apology at the tip of his tongue, Loki threw his head back and laughed, shaking flour from his shoulders and onto the floor.
Tony laughed as well. He couldn’t help it, truly, not when Loki was laughing like that, not when he — when they both — looked so ridiculous.
“I’m sorry Loki!” he gasped out when he had breath enough to do so. “I did not mean to do that.”
“You don’t say,” Loki replied, arching a white eyebrow. He grabbed a hand towel and began wiping at Tony’s beard.
“This is why we don’t listen to JARVIS.” Tony closed his eyes, letting Loki tip his face back and forth as he brushed the flour from his cheeks and forehead before rubbing the cloth over his own face.
“Point taken,” Loki mumbled through the towel. His shoulders still shook with silent laughter, even as he untied his hair to shake out the worst of the flour.
Tony reached up to help him, running his fingers though his usually-silky-but-currently-rather-dredged locks until they were mostly back to their natural black state.
Once they and the kitchen were in a clean enough state to continue, they mixed the remaining flour in with the wet ingredients by hand, until a stiff, shaggy, and very crumbly dough reluctantly formed.
“I don’t think this is right.”
The recipe said the dough should be soft and sticky. It was too dry, too friable to even separate into two halves as was instructed. Tony put his hands on his hips and stared at it.
Loki hummed thoughtfully and gave Tony’s back a quick rub.
“If you keep working at it, it might come together.”
So Tony dumped the contents of the bowl on the counter and kept working at it with his hands while Loki gathered up the dirty dishes and rinsed them in the sink.
“No, it’s still not coming together,” Tony said as Loki dried his hands on an only lightly floured towel.
Loki made his way to the refrigerator and pulled out a carton of milk. He poured a tiny bit into the dough, and as Tony kneaded it, it softened up and became workable.
Tony bumped his shoulder against Loki’s in gratitude.
“Thank you, thank you.” He smiled at Loki, whose eyes were very soft as they looked back at him.
Tony formed the dough into two disks, wrapped them up, and handed them to Loki, who placed them into the fridge to chill for a few hours.
“What now?” Loki asked, eying the recipe card.
Tony turned to him.
“Well, there’s this great movie that I’ve been meaning to see,” he said, moving closer to the god. “If only I had someone to watch it with...”
Loki moved closer as well. He grinned with just a hint of mischief.
“I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”
Three hours and a movie spent cuddling on the couch later, the dough was probably cold enough to work with.
Tony and Loki each rolled out one half, playfully jostling elbows together and flicking flour at each other as they worked side by side. When they had the dough rolled out as thin as the recipe instructed, they’d covered a large portion of the counter.
“How many cookies does this make, anyway?” Tony looked at the card, but it didn’t say. Evidently enough for an army. Which was just as well, since the rest of the Avengers would probably appreciate the leftovers.
“I suppose that depends on how big you make the cookies.”
And then there was nothing to it but to cut the cookies and put them on pans.
Tony made a batch of gingerbread men, as well as several stars, hearts, and candy canes. When he looked over, Loki had, instead of a cookie cutter, a small knife that he was using to freehand a shape. Tony leaned closer.
Loki’s cookie figure was a surprisingly detailed version of himself, with a cape and cartoonishly large gingerbread horns, with even more outlandish proportions than the real helmet.
“If I didn’t know better,” said Tony, “I’d say you were compensating for something.”
“Is that so?” Loki winked at him. “Good thing you know better.”
They placed their cookies on pans and put them in the hot oven.
“JARVIS, set a timer for... ten minutes.”
“Very well, Sir,” JARVIS replied rather aloofly.
“Aw, come on, Peanut, don’t act like you’re mad. I know you had your fun watching us flour up the whole kitchen.”
“Nine minutes and fifty-three seconds remain, Sir.”
“Kids these days,” he whispered to Loki, who rolled his eyes at their antics.
While the cookies baked, they measured powdered sugar and milk and more vanilla for icing until they had a smooth mixture with what was, hopefully, the correct viscosity.
Nine minutes and fifty-three seconds later, the cookies were ready to be put on the cooling racks — and on marble cutting boards, when they ran out of cooling racks. Tony couldn’t resist sampling one still hot, however, and bit its head clean off.
Loki leaned his face down for a bite, and Tony broke off a piece and put it in his mouth. They chewed thoughtfully for a moment.
“Hmm. I’m not sure I’m the biggest fan of gingerbread, to tell you the truth,” Tony said. It wasn’t bad, by any means, but he preferred cookies that were a little less... pungent.
Loki took the cookie out of his hand and continued eating it, liking it just fine.
They divided the frosting into smaller bowls and added coloring to a few of them — red and green, of course, and some gold for the stars Tony had made. They also had an assortment of sprinkles in many sizes and shapes, and they set to work with the icing when the cookies were nice and cool.
Loki spread green icing all over his cookie self-portrait, and piped gold horns that were only a little bit crooked, and Tony added buttons and bow ties and squiggly lines to his gingerbread men. He even gave a few of them little sweaters and Santa jackets.
It was a longer — and stickier — process than Tony had anticipated, but Loki’s warm presence and occasional, unguarded giggles as he sprinkled sanding sugar on stars or added stripes to candy canes was worth every second.
Eventually, however, Tony piped a last smiling face and stuck on a last nonpareil button.
Loki peered over his shoulder.
“You missed a spot,” he said, and Tony looked first at him, and then at the cookie.
“Mhmm.” Loki nodded, and Tony could feel it, so near was he.
“I... don’t see anything. Where?”
“You’ve got a little icing right-” he leaned even closer, but Tony couldn’t see where he was pointing “-here.” And suddenly there was a warm mouth on his cheek, licking at the traces of icing there. “And there’s another bit here.” Loki mouthed at Tony’s jaw, and wrapped his arms around his waist. “And there’s more just here.” He kissed the back of Tony’s neck.
Tony turned in his hold to face him, bringing his own arms up to Loki’s shoulders. He raised an eyebrow at his god.
“I’m sure I did not get icing back there.”
“Oh, but you did,” Loki said very seriously. “And there’s more here.” He kissed Tony just behind his ear, and Tony’s breath hitched and he instinctively pulled Loki closer. “And you’ve even got some-“ Loki swiped an icing coated finger over Tony’s lips. “-Just there,” he whispered. He stared at Tony intently, until Tony felt heat rise to his face.
He leaned up and gave Loki a kiss that was very sweet indeed, tasting of icing and warm spices and new memories soon to be cherished.