My apologies, the sex scene has not been beta'd because I only finished just before rushing off to church, but thanks to Soph for beta reading the rest :).
[Edit, sorry just updated the pairing because I forgot to change it.]
Title: Dec 25 - Shades and Portents
Fandom: Avengers (2012)
Pairing: Tony/Loki/Pepper, Thor/Jane, Clint/Coulson
Word Count: 8793
My Fanfic Listings (LJ) | My Fanfic Listings (DreamW)
Loki had been able to return his form to the one he favoured after only a few hours of rest. His physiology meant the burns from the explosion were virtually gone in no time, even if Thor did keep insisting on aggravating them with hugs.
It wasn't that Thor was trying to be thoughtless, it was just Thor was so happy that both Loki and Jane were well he kept forgetting. Since it was such genuine emotion, Loki couldn't bring himself to be that annoyed. Thor was doing very well wallowing in guilt every time he realised what he had done anyway.
It was with great pleasure that Loki returned to the living area in the tower rather than the medical section. Being in the unfamiliar space had put him on edge and had not helped the headache he could not shake or the shadow that he sometimes caught out the side of his vision. He didn't like the feeling it gave him, but he was not about to tell anyone about it for fear of being confined for longer. All he needed was a little rest.
"So, no more magical astrophysical experiments without better safety precautions," Tony said, already heading for the bar.
"Says the man who leaves dents in the ceiling when he tests repulsors," Loki pointed out.
"My tower, my rules," Tony replied and it may have sounded light-hearted, but Loki could see the tension in the mortal's shoulders.
Loki gave a put upon sigh and looked at Jane.
"We promise," they chorused together.
That brought a smile to Tony's face, which gladdened Loki more than he cared to admit. He still could not define the relationship he had with Tony and Pepper and it was still a secret, but he was worryingly aware he did not wish it to end. Over the last week he had found himself in Tony and Pepper's bed more than his own and he had not slept as well since before the revelations of his birth. Tony was even encouraging him into his Jotun shape every now and then, which was more even than Thor was usually able to do.
Tony handed round drinks without having to ask what everyone wanted and Loki accepted his, hoping it would help his headache.
"I too would be grateful not to be witness to a reoccurrence of the events today," Thor said with Jane tucked up to his side. "I value you both too highly to bear such circumstance."
"We have already promised, Brother," Loki pointed out and did not miss the way Thor brightened at the term of endearment.
It did not come as easily to him as it had, but he was trying and Thor appeared overjoyed by each attempt.
"It was the feedback stabiliser," Jane said; "it wasn't powerful enough to combat the electricity and Loki's magic. As it turned out that wasn't a completely bad thing because we did get the beginning of the phenomenon we were looking for. If we could only stop it exploding we might be on to something."
"I have some ideas," Loki added, because he hadn't had a lot else to think about while in medical.
"Please, friends," Thor said, "I would beg you to leave such discussions until the morn."
"I'll second that," came from the doorway and Rogers walked in. "How's everyone feeling?"
"I only have one bruise," Jane replied with a smile, "thanks to Loki."
"I am well thank you, Captain Rogers," Loki gave his own answer.
"Steve," Rogers told him and gracefully folded onto one of the couches.
Loki was surprised, none of the Avengers apart from Tony, not even Banner had invited him to use such informalities as first names, but he hid any reaction. Rogers had always been polite and vaguely friendly, but never familiar and this was a significant change.
"Steve," Loki said, inclining his head and attempting to accept gracefully.
"Nice save today," Steve said, looking him straight in the eye before accepting a drink from Tony. "What's in it today?"
"Cask strength whiskey, ginger liqueur and a touch of limonchello," Tony replied with a grin and sat down a couple of places away from Loki.
It was more than obvious to Loki that Tony really wanted to sit next to him.
"I still can't get drunk," Steve said, but saluted Tony before tasting the drink.
"Can't blame a guy for trying," Tony said; "you're like a walking challenge."
"Not bad," was Steve's verdict.
A few minutes later when Banner arrived as well, Loki began to suspect that the rest of the team might actually have been worried about him. The whole dynamic appeared to have changed with his simple act of saving Jane and it unnerved him a little. He wasn't used to taking the credit for heroic deeds; that was Thor's role and, even when he had been involved, Loki was more used to being overlooked. It was strange to be recognised.
He was almost relieved when Miss Romanov and Barton appeared, because Barton still eyed him with complete distrust. The archer sat down and pretended to join in the camaraderie that was occurring, but Loki knew falsehood when he saw it. He needed to work out what it was he didn't know, because it was not the role into which he had forced Barton, of that he was sure. They had both been coerced, it was a matter of record and it should really had been a shared pain as they both blamed the puppet master of the whole thing, but Barton was completely closed to him.
Joining in the conversation as well as he could, he put the conundrum that was Barton to the back of his mind; it would take some time to work out.
An hour or so later, after dinner had been ordered and everyone had relaxed, the elevator doors opened once again and Pepper strode out. She had been in Malibu on business for the last day and was still in full heels and suit.
"Hey, Pep," Tony said, standing up to greet his girlfriend, "come have some food, we got Thai."
However, rather than walk over to where Tony was now standing, Loki found Pepper marching directly up to him. She slapped him on the shoulder, hard.
"Don't ever do that again," she said and sounded a lot less calm than she looked. "I have enough trouble dealing with Tony's suicidal tendencies, but I thought you had a brain. I'm going to put a leash on both of you if you can't grow some sense. You," she jabbed him in the chest with a finger while bending over him and he was reminded of his mother's scoldings. He felt just as bad being on the receiving end too, "can teleport, so why the hell didn't you?"
"With the magic in the room I couldn't guarantee moving myself and Jane safely," he replied, automatically just telling the truth. Had it been just a few days previously that would have worried him enormously.
"Okay," Pepper conceded, "but I've seen the surveillance footage. There was a shield around Jane, why didn't you put it around yourself as well."
For a moment Loki had no idea what to say.
"I was almost certain whatever happened would do me no permanent damage," he said and realised he sounded less sure than he wanted to.
So far in his life only one person had been able to make him feel so totally wrong footed and that was Frigga, as it turned out he could now add Pepper to that very short list as well.
"Almost certain," Pepper said, her voice rising, "almost certain? That means there was a possibility you were wrong. Next time, because I have no doubt there will be a next time, be certain, do I make myself clear?"
Loki had stood against armies, but he quailed under Pepper's glare and wordlessly nodded.
"Hey, Pep," Tony said, guiding her towards a seat, "sit, have a drink, everything is okay. Frosty's fine, Jane's fine, we're all fine."
Pepper still looked tense, but allowed herself to be gently pushed onto the couch next to Loki. She leaned into him so he hoped he was being forgiven. It was Tony who broke the tension by laughing.
"Well that cat's out of the bag then," Tony said and Loki looked away from Pepper to see several stunned faces.
"Is that ... are they..?" Steve asked as if he really wasn't sure.
"Yes, Cap," Tony said and sat down next to Pepper, "you are seeing what you think you're seeing."
"But you and ..."
"Steve, I know you're from the 40s, but don't be dense," Bruce said before anyone else got in there.
"Brother," Thor boomed, "I offer my congratulations, I believe you are all well matched. Man of Iron, we must have words once this celebration is over."
Loki couldn't help grinning just a little as Tony looked at him with vague panic in his eyes.
"Yeah okay, Point Break," Tony replied, sounding just a little unsure. "Oh and while we're on the subject of celebrations, I know you all probably have your own things to do Christmas day, but tomorrow is Christmas Eve and Pepper and Loki and I would like to invite all of you to join us for dinner."
Loki's smile slipped slightly at the way he was simply included and it was quite difficult to maintain his composure. It seemed that once Tony set his mind to something there was no turning back and it was just a little bit frightening. This thing between them was so new and unexpected and difficult to process at times.
"Will there be presents?" Barton asked in a totally irreverent tone. "I'm only coming if there are presents."
"Yes, Clint," Tony said in the most over the top put upon tone Loki had ever heard, "there will be presents."
Then Miss Romanov hit Barton squarely on the back of the head and made everyone laugh, which, as far as Loki could tell had been Barton's whole purpose in the first place. This group of misfits were a most peculiar mixture and yet, for some unfathomable reason they seemed to work. Loki noted silently and with no little irony that that was the only reason he was even close to redemption.
Tony walked into the bedroom looking shell shocked.
"I have just had the 'hurt my little brother and...' talk from a god," Tony said; "I think I am traumatised. Who knew Thor could be so graphic or knew so many euphemisms for penis."
"My brother is mostly inclined to simply strike with Mjolnir, but he can be creative on occasion," Loki replied. "However, do not worry, I have only seem him follow through on such a threat once when a nave used the Lady Sif most ungraciously. Sif has no brothers and Thor felt it his duty to act in that stead when the nave defamed her honour as a woman and a warrior. The healers declared the villain would never sire children and I believe he still walks with a limp."
"Not helping," Tony said in a pained tone and climbed into bed, having divested himself of his clothes.
Loki couldn't help a little smirk; it was fun to finally have something to tease Tony about that actually made his lover squirm, at least a little. Truth be told, Thor had beaten the stuffing out of a warrior who had dared hurt Sif, but, as far as Loki knew, the man was absolutely fine and acting as an ambassador to Vanaheim. Once shown the error of his ways he had turned out not so bad, which wasn't to say Loki liked him, but the man was tolerable.
"I will protect you," Pepper said with a perfectly straight face and Loki snorted a laugh; Pepper was turning out to be a very formidable woman.
"How many pairs of shoes will it cost me?" Tony replied, playing up to the suggestion.
"Hmm, three," Pepper replied and Loki found himself smiling without any care as to who might be watching.
"I deserve a reward for going through all that," Tony declared and threw himself down onto the pillows in a very overdramatic fashion.
"I believe we may be able to achieve that," Loki said and pulled Tony towards him with a little magic.
"Ooh," Tony said, "no hands," and then Loki kissed the other man to shut him up.
It was a long passionate kiss and when Loki allowed Pepper to take over he was breathless and watching his two lovers made him even more so. When they broke apart, settling onto the bed either side of him, he very much wanted more.
"I think it's time," Tony said and surprised him.
"It's time," agreed Pepper with a nod and Loki frowned, because he had no idea what they were talking about.
"What..?" he began to ask, very uncomfortable with being on the outside of the conversation.
"Relax, Frosty," Tony said and placed a hand on his arm, even though they were already touching elsewhere and he felt himself calm a little totally without his consent; Tony was becoming far too skilled at that, "Pepper and I had a little talk while you were out cold and we made a couple of decisions."
Loki felt his insides turn to ice, metaphorically rather than literally, as many possibilities ran through his mind. They wanted to end their arrangement and Thor's intervention had only underlined the need; he was irrationally sure of it in moments.
"Stop," Tony said and kissed him.
His thoughts all fell over one another and ground to a halt.
"Nothing like what you must be thinking," Tony told him and he had to wonder when he had given this mortal so much control and so much vision of who he really was.
It had definitely not been by choice and it was beginning to dawn on him he must have been far more broken than he had realised. Before his fall he would never have allowed such a loss of autonomy, such a risk.
"Now we want to ask you to do something for us," Tony continued to speak to him as he did his very best to stay calm and rational, "and you don't have to, but we'd really like it if you'd think about it before you just say no, okay?"
He wasn't sure how to respond; he had no read on the situation.
"Frosty?" Tony prompted and Pepper moved closer to him on the other side.
There were no demands, they were asking no more than he consider something, so eventually he nodded.
"We accept all of you," Pepper said quietly.
"Want to know all of you," Tony added and Loki suspected where the conversation was going. "We'd like it if you'd ..."
"N..." he started to object almost instantly, but stopped himself.
"We saw you while you were in with the docs," Tony told him, apparently aware of the effort it had taken for him; "and you're beautiful, Frosty. Like this, when you're blue, when you have boobs," the last was accompanied by a small smirk, "all the time. You're not comfortable blue, we get that, but we'd like to help."
"I cannot control that form," Loki said by way of an excuse.
"Hey, most of the time I can't control this one either," Tony said, "just ask Pepper."
It should have been wildly inappropriate to make fun at that particular moment, but it was so Tony that somehow Loki simply accepted it.
"Behave," Pepper told Tony, "this is important."
"And you know the more important something is the more irreverent I get," Tony replied and Loki had to agree, because he had noticed that tendency and the sigh from Pepper made it plainly obvious she was perfectly away of the reality as well. "Control, we get that's it's important to you and that, lately, you've had it ripped away."
Loki did not like to admit that, but it was the simple truth.
"We don't want to take any more away from you, we want to help you get it back," Tony continued. "No pain, no gain, Frosty ... actually, scrap that, bad analogy, practice makes perfect ... that's better. What we're trying to tell you is that you're safe here; we're not going to judge you. We want to help you accept who you are and if you can't hack it the first time, no pressure. You control this part; you want to turn back, you can, we won't complain ... well not much ... I might whine because I seem to have this thing for blue, but you get what I mean. It's just us here, no Thor, no politics, no expectations, just us."
"My natural form is cold," was what Loki replied.
Suprisingly that made Tony wiggle his eyebrows.
"Remember that time in Malibu, Pep?" Tony asked. "The one where I brought the ice cubes to bed? How many times did you orgasm, again?"
Loki looked over to Pepper who lifted one dainty eyebrow and then smiled.
"Five," she said and licked her lips and Loki felt his body attempt to react.
In his Aesir form he had just about perfect control, so he did not let it happen, but he was well aware of what his libido was thinking. The offer was tempting, but he could not push away the doubt at the back of his mind. Frost Giants were the monsters of his childhood; barbarians and evil to the core and he dreaded seeing the fear in the eyes of his lovers as they realised the truth. It did not matter Tony continually told him he was not a monster; the doubt was still there.
"Frosty," Tony said, leaning closer, "the offer isn't finite, if you don't want to now, we're not kicking you out and it's always open. If you kiss me now we can forget all about blue skin and overprotective big brothers for the night ... because, wow, do not want to think about Thor right now."
It was a bad attempt to lighten the mood and Loki knew it, but he let it seep into his mind anyway. His emotions were conflicted and his thoughts equally as imprecise and he looked between Tony and Pepper and tried to make sense of everything. However, something made him pause, something that changed the way his mind was spiralling completely. When he looked in Tony's eyes he did not see the faith in him he saw in Thor's eyes, or the hope he had seen in his mother's, what he saw was want.
Flicking his gaze to Pepper he saw something burning within her eyes as well. It was not as pronounced as what he saw when he looked at Tony, but then he would not have expected that; Tony was far more instinct-driven then Pepper, but it was still there.
Tony was telling the truth; they really wanted him, and they wanted him in his Jotun form. It was an utterly mind shattering idea.
The fear was rooted in his childhood, in the birth of his psyche, it was impossible to completely ignore, but the reality gave him courage. Holding his breath, just in case, he allowed his form to shift into his natural shape.
Tony's eyes actually widened and darkened as the pupil's dilated and Loki sucked in a quick breath of air as Tony's gaze slowly dragged over his revealed body. He flicked his focus to Pepper who kept her eyes on his face, but smiled at him and reached out to place her fingers on his arm.
"Wow," Tony said in, what was for him, a hushed whisper (all things were relative), "Frosty, you really are stunning."
From anyone else Loki might not have believed it, but Tony reached out and ran a finger over one of the ridges on his arm, apparently fascinated. He was so busy watching Tony that when lips touched his opposite hand he actually started in fright.
"Just try and relax, Lover," Tony said, stroking his arm as if he was a skittish animal, "let us show you how much we love blue."
"And remember," Pepper said on his other side, "you are in control. If it's too much or anything doesn't feel right, just turn back, okay?"
He could already feel his body responding no matter how he tried to control his reaction, but he nodded at Pepper's words. The current situation was so far away from what he was usually comfortable with that he really didn't know how to deal with it. His instincts seemed so much stronger and there was the underlying fear he would suddenly do something monstrous because of them. He was not usually a passive being, but as Tony and Pepper carefully moved closer to him, he was so conflicted he let them.
It was Pepper who leaned in to him first and placed the lightest of kisses on his shoulder, right over one of the lines on his skin. It made him gasp as his skin proved to be hyper sensitive in his anxious state. He could smell Pepper's light scent with the underlying musk of woman that spoke to all his instincts. As she kissed carefully along the ridge, towards his chest it felt a hundred times more intense than anything usually did.
When Tony began to run fingers over his right side he moaned, because he had to let the arousal out somehow.
"Did you know your eyes go almost black when you're aroused?" Tony whispered to him. "It's like looking into dark rubies."
Loki really didn't know how to react. No one had ever praised the Jotun form in such detail in his presence before. No one on Asgard would think it anything but something horrific, except maybe his family. Tony had never pulled the sheet up after breaking away from Pepper, Loki could see how aroused his lover was. There was no denying the physical evidence.
"You glow," he managed to force out of his unresponsive mouth, trying to share the experience with Pepper and Tony.
Tony smiled at him.
"Bet you're sensitive to infrared," Tony said, running a finger down Loki's chest towards where the sheets were pooled in his lap; "would be useful in a cold environment that's all white."
Scientific speculation in bed might not have been everyone's idea of fun, but nothing turned Loki on more than intelligence. He would have replied, but Tony decided to pull the sheet off him and it dragged over his erection at the same time Pepper chose to remind him that she was there by latching on to one of his nipples. All coherent thought abandoned him as his body reacted without so much as asking his brain's permission.
"Ooh, Pep, the little ridges really are everywhere."
Loki looked down, he couldn't help it; it wasn't as if he'd done a lot of examining of his Jotun form while naked. He'd been working up to it, but partially clothed was as far as he'd got. The fact that his cock was blue should have been perfectly logical, but it was quite startling, nevertheless. It was also a little bit fascinating how the ridges that marked the rest of his skin also patterned his penis.
When Tony's hand skirted down and wrapped around his erect member it was simply too much. Instincts fired and he found himself desperate to claim one of both of his lovers and he had no idea if he could stop himself. Hurting either of them filled him with such complete dread that he pushed with his magic and forced his body back into his Aesir skin. His instincts were still firing, but he knew how to cope with them and, breathing hard, he dragged himself back under control.
"Oh, no fair," Tony whined, "blue's my colour and ridges are my favourite thing."
"Then break out the toys," Pepper said in a very pointed tone and glared at Tony before leaning forward and kissing Loki on the cheek. "Thank you," she told him.
"Well of course, thank you," Tony agreed, "but I did warn you about the whining. I'm an only child from a rich family, I can't help my reactions when I don't get exactly what I want. I'm practicing, but these things take time."
All through the speech Tony never removed his hand from Loki's cock and it was very distracting. There was no way to control his reaction to such direct stimuli, but then he didn't really want to anymore, so it was all good.
"So, Pep, such good behaviour deserves a reward, am I right?" Tony asked with a mischievous smile.
"Completely," Pepper replied.
"So, top of tail?"
"Hmm, tail," Pepper said and then Tony was moving back up the bed and Pepper down.
Tony kissed him and Pepper's, oh so talented mouth, wrapped around his cock and Loki was pretty sure he knew the wonders of Valhalla even though he yet lived. This was a situation where he didn't mind giving up control because he trusted his lovers to give him exactly what he needed and he understood his own responses all too well. There were times he was sure he could not possibly deserve Tony or Pepper, but he pushed those dark thoughts away and allowed himself to enjoy the attention.
He didn't even try to control his orgasm, allowing it to build and build as Tony and Pepper took him towards the edge and all too soon it crashed over him. That moment when his senses lost all connection to reality freed him for an instant and he came with a cry just as Pepper pulled off. Pepper used her hand to milk him for everything he had as he rode out the physical release, trembling as his body slowly returned to his control.
He was a god, he had a recovery period of little more than a few minutes, but for a while he just lay there and enjoyed the afterglow.
"Thank you," he said, bringing his breathing back to normal, "that was most diverting."
"Diverting, the best you can do is diverting," Tony said, "I was hoping for at least mind-blowing."
"Very few people have ever been able to divert me, Man of Iron," Loki replied, looking down at Tony's erect cock and smirking; "it was a compliment."
"You should know that by now, Tony," Pepper said with a very pleased expression on her face.
"Okay, okay," Tony complained and tried to look put upon, but failed, "can we be diverting again soon, please?"
Loki laughed and dragged Tony in for another kiss, his previous anxiety all but forgotten.
"Yes," Loki said, "but I believe we should ask the Lady Pepper how we should be diverting; it is only fair."
"Accepted," Tony replied and they both looked at Pepper.
"Hmm," Pepper said as if considering the matter carefully, "I think it's time for a sandwich with a Peppery filling."
Loki saw Tony's eyes light up and he couldn't say he was disappointed by the choice either. It was going to be a very interesting evening.
Several rounds of sex later, Loki was walking back from the bathroom, sated, just a little tired and ready to fall into bed with his lovers and sleep, but something caught his eye. He turned, catching just the barest glimpse of the shadow that had been plaguing him all day.
"Everything okay?" Tony asked, and he turned back.
"I am unsure," he replied.
"What's up?" was the immediate response.
He walked over to the bed and sat down, well aware he now had both Tony and Pepper's attention on him.
"Ever since the accident I have been sensing something," he admitted, "and at times I see a shadow. I do not know what it is and I expected it to vanish with the ache I have had all day in my head, but it has not."
"You never mentioned you had a headache," Pepper said, giving him one of those looks, "we could have given you something for it."
"It was but a trifle," he replied, hoping he wasn't in for another scolding.
"So, this shadow," Tony rescued him, "any theories?"
"I have felt more aware since I was hit by the energy explosion," Loki revealed, "so it may simply be that I am more sensitive to magic at the moment. It may even be a shadow of my own power."
"And how do we make sure?" Tony asked.
"I am not certain. I need to think on it, however, it may simply go away as the headache did."
He looked at Pepper to make sure she took in that part and she gave him a small smile.
"It is somewhat annoying, but I do not believe it should cause worry."
"You're sure?" Tony checked, with Pepper backing him up.
"As sure as I can be," Loki replied. "I promise, I will tell you both if it reoccurs."
That seemed to satisfy them both and Tony pulled back the sheets and patted the bed.
"Sleepy time," was the irreverent announcement and Loki could not disagree.
In Asgard Loki did not always enjoy the feasts and gatherings. There were too many people who didn't really like him that he had to be nice to and he was usually playing some game or other and had to remember everything. Mostly such things were about political intrigue and not fun. Tony celebration was very different, as were the preparations.
As soon as they had woken up, far ealier than was the norm, Tony had dragged him down to the workshop and asked him to help with the gifts Tony was planning. It had been fun, as had setting up various magics around the penthouse for the evening.
This was Tony's party and Tony would be the centre of attention because that was simply how Tony was. Loki was expected to do no more than be there and that felt strangely pleasant. He chose a green shirt and black pants with a black vest with a gold pinstripe, which Pepper told him looked very festive even though he really hadn't been thinking about that.
He couldn't help noticing Pepper had chosen a dark green dress with red and gold highlights, which matched him and Tony, who had gone for a black suit and a red shirt.
Much to his chagrin, while he had been unwell and more than a little pliable, his mother had taken to cutting his hair, so if he let it, it fell about his face. Pepper had expressed a liking for it not being slicked back, so, in the spirit of the season he indulged her. He felt a little underdressed without his armour at a semi-formal gathering, but he had to admit his current outfit was a lot easier to wear.
"Captain Rogers is on his way up," JARVIS announced shortly after the hour Tony had specified for the party to begin and that was it, they were off.
It was easy to tell these were people used to schedules because they all arrived within ten minutes of each other. Steve was in a grey suit, Miss Romanov was in a stunning little black dress and heels, Barton was wearing black leather pants and a purple shirt, Thor had also gone with leather, but was wearing a shirt in a colour that matched his usual cape, while Jane was in a white and gold dress and even Bruce was in dress pants and a blue shirt.
Loki was struck by was a beautiful set of people the residents of the tower actually were. He was used to Asgard, which was not called the golden realm for nothing, but with the tasteful decorations around the penthouse, all sparkling and
Earth's mightiest heroes in their finest, he was reminded sharply of home. It felt better than he would have expected.
There were small bites to eat and drinks and small talk as everyone became settled, which was when Loki noticed the shadow lurking out the corner of his eye again. It immediately set him on edge. He knew something was there and he did not like not knowing what. This was no mere shadow, he was sure, and he resolved to do something about it.
"Thor," he said in as casual manner as he knew how, "please take my hand."
Thor, wonderful trusting brother that he was, did so without the slightest hesitation and then Loki pounced. Pushing magic into his frame he moved far faster than should have been physically possible and he turned and grabbed at the shadow. It resolved into his awareness for the first time as he managed to look straight at it and he saw the form of a man. There was no time for details as his magic-reinforced hands closed on something solid and then he yelled, "Pull!"
Of course Thor pulled and for a moment Loki thought he might split in half as he became the bridge between an apparently immovable object and Thor's mighty strength. His magic flared as his body threatened to weaken and he yelled his desperation. He gave everything he had in a desperate attempt to do something he did not quite understand and then there was a thunderous crack.
The next instant he was falling backwards with something heavy against his chest. Thor smashed through the coffee table with him on top and they landed with a thud with whatever he had in his grip on top of him. Lying there he was too dazed to do more than breathe.
"Jesus Christ," he heard Barton say, "Phil."
He blinked blindly, trying to regain his equilibrium as the weight was dragged off his chest. Thor seemed no less dazed, since his brother remained lying half under and half beside him. It took some doing, but his brain and vision started communicating properly again just in time to see Barton virtually holding up a naked Agent Coulson and looking him over.
"Phil, Phil can you hear me?"
"Yes," was the dazed, but coherent reply.
"Oh my god, oh my god," Barton said, totally unlike his usual self and then promptly kissed Coulson.
"What the hell just happened?" Tony demanded.
Loki found himself being helped to sit up, but he really didn't have an explanation.
"Magic," was the best he could do.
"Coulson is what you've been seeing?" Tony asked.
"When did you know?"
"When Hawkeye announced it," Loki admitted and let himself be dragged to his feet.
Jane rushed to Thor's side and started doing for Thor what Tony was doing for Loki, who did his best to stay upright. He really hadn't expected any of the last minute or so. Pepper, meanwhile produced a blanket from somewhere and had it draped around Coulson's shoulders with her usual efficiency.
"Okay," Tony said, forcing Loki into a chair, "can someone please explain to me what just happened. Not that being alive is a bad thing, but Coulson, you're supposed to be dead and not hanging around our pad naked. How long have you been doing that, by the way?"
"I could not say," Coulson replied, also being shepherded to a seat by a very attached Barton.
"It must have been the sceptre," Loki said as he went over what had just happened more slowly in his mind.
"What about the sceptre?" Barton asked, sounding somewhat over excited and still a little hostile.
"I felt its signature," Loki replied; "it's what I've been sensing since the accident, only I did not recognise it for what it was. It must have bound Agent Coulson's energy to this plain even though his body died."
"And you just did what?" The question came from Bruce this time.
"Converted it back to matter," Loki said, even though he honestly had no idea quite how that could have worked.
His magic was usually very precisely planned, this had been nothing of the sort.
"Thank you," Coulson said in what was a ridiculously calm tone.
"Why aren't you freaking out?" Barton demanded. "You died."
"I do not seem to be dead any longer," Coulson replied, "and you seem to be freaking out enough for both of us."
"Wait, wait," Tony said, waving his hands in the couple's general direction, "I know I'm bad with interpersonal things, but I know there were mentions of a cellist."
It was the least important part of the situation, but a typical Stark comment, so everyone seemed to roll with it.
"That was the cover," Coulson said.
"Bows, cellists and archers, get it," Barton said, clearly still on edge.
Loki observed the two and it all suddenly made sense.
"Now I understand."
"What?" Barton all but accused, at which point Loki realised he had spoken out loud.
"Why you could not begin to forgive me no matter the circumstances," Loki replied, looking at the two men. "A broken heart knows not reason."
Barton's expression softened, but the archer seemed unable to deal with the direct exposure of his emotions and looked away. Loki let it drop.
"Look," Bruce said, "I know this is a party, but I think it might be a good idea to make sure everyone is okay."
As usual Bruce was being eminently sensible and Loki was agreeable when, for the next half an hour, everything went from a party to a quick medical for him, Thor and Coulson. Someone, most likely Pepper, but Loki had been answering simple questions to simple stimuli at the time so he wasn't sure, had found Coulson some clothes and once everyone was given the all clear they all piled back into the penthouse.
"This requires champagne," Tony announced as soon as they did and no one argued.
Barton was glued to Coulson, which was not overly surprising after the revelation that they were in fact and had been for several years, a couple, but Miss Romanov was also close by the pair's side. It was the most emotion Loki had ever seen the famous Black Widow show when he was anywhere in the vicinity.
"It's Christmas," Coulson said, looking around as he was handed a glass by Tony.
Since he had just been reconstituted it was understandable that that detail had passed the agent by previously.
"It is," Tony replied, still handing out glasses, "we've missed your over the top wit and loud dress sense."
Coulson actually smiled at that.
"And I have missed your understated presence and calm demeanour," Coulson said.
"Touché," Tony said and all but bounced over to the bar to pick up more glasses. "Seeing as Clint already has a present I think everyone else should have one too. Oh, but Clint, you're not allowed to play with yours 'til you get him home, okay, it might damage Cap if he sees that Action Man is anatomically correct."
"Tony," Steve complained, but everyone was smiling or laughing.
"What?" Tony replied, passing out the last of the glasses and then heading back behind the bar. "They had months to make up for, don't tell me you can't see the wandering palms Coulson is valiantly fending off."
Loki had noticed that Barton did not seem to be able to keep his hands to himself; it was one of the more entertaining things about the situation.
"Now," Tony said, picking up a box from where Loki had seen his lover hide it earlier, "these are just a little something Loki and I cooked up this morning and Pepper wrapped them all and decided on colours, because she's awesome at things like that. There's one for everyone, well except Coulson because he was dead, but I can make him one tomorrow," Loki gave him a look, "okay maybe the day after because of, y'know, plans. Now I've seen the tech some of you think is cool and it's so not, but these are, so, um yeah..."
By the time Tony stopped talking the first small parcel was in Bruce's hands.
"Thank you," Bruce said and then waited as Tony handed out the rest.
Loki already had one of the devices on his bedside table and he had to admit he was a little anxious to see if everyone liked them. Tony was doing a good job of pretending not to be nervous, but was clearly even more concerned than Loki felt.
"It's a phone," Barton said, having ripped into his straight away, "in my colours, cool."
"It's more than a phone," Tony complained and from the small grin on Barton's face, the archer knew that.
"Um," Steve said, having also unwrapped his, "sorry, how do I turn it on?"
The screen flashed into life.
"Each one is keyed to the correct vocal print," Tony explained, sounding excited, "and they have a primitive AI so they'll adapt to each of you. They'll act as smart phones and everything else you might need on any network anywhere and give you direct access to JARVIS if you need it. Don't use it to ask JARVIS to remind you to do your laundry, because he's above such things."
"Thank you, Sir," JARVIS said, "but Miss Potts would like me to remind you your dry cleaning will be delivered on the 26th so as not to cause an alert like last time."
Everyone laughed while Tony spluttered in a good natured way.
"They will also function from the other realms should you need to venture beyond Midgard," Loki added quietly when the laughing subsided.
"This will allow communication from Asgard?" Thor asked, clearly surprised.
"It uses the same magic as the mirrors the Vanir often employ when travelling on diplomatic matters."
"Brother," Thor said, his face impassive, but his lips twitching just slightly, "I was not aware the Vanir had shared this magic with the other realms."
"They didn't," Loki replied with a smirk of his own, "but I 'borrowed' it several centuries ago. Mother worries so when you just run off and I really couldn’t expect Hemdall to relay messages that you hadn't managed to lose your head yet every time you dragged the Warriors Three, Sif and I on an ill-advised adventure. You may wish to keep the knowledge from the Vanir."
"Rightly so," Thor replied.
"And now ..." Tony started.
"No you don't," Steve interrupted, "we have gifts too."
Bags appeared from places Loki had had no idea there were bags hidden and then there were gifts being passed out all round. Loki was more than a little surprised when he was handed things from Bruce, Steve and even Miss Romanov, who had signed the small card 'Call me Natasha'. Thor handed him a parcel that felt suspiciously like a book; his brother knew him so well.
While Loki was surprised, Tony appeared utterly flabbergasted.
"Well open them then," Pepper urged him and Loki had to smile.
Tony looked like a child at his first winter festival as he tore into the neatly and in some cases, brightly wrapped packages. It made Loki feel warm inside and he felt something akin to the camaraderie he had not felt for more years than he cared to count. He opened his packages carefully and smiled as he discovered some tea from Bruce, a mug from Steve that said 'Super Villain - Retired' and a bottle of vodka from Natasha with a sticker on it which said 'Better when iced'.
The book from Thor and Jane appeared very old and was in a language Loki had never seen before. He could read it thanks to magic in his veins, but he was instantly intrigued. "Magic and Arcana of Arabia" was how the title translated.
"Not until later," Pepper said and he looked up to realise that he was the last one to finish.
He inclined his head and placed the volume on the table.
"Thank you all," he said and he saw Tony looking at the balcony; he gave his lover a slight nod and reinforced the magic he had set up earlier.
"Now, like I was trying to say before all these cool presents," Tony said, bouncing to his feet, "dinner is on the balcony."
"It's nearly freezing outside and we're a million storeys up," Barton pointed out.
"Well, as much as I want to claim a million storey building," Tony replied, "not quite, and don't worry about the temperature."
"Should we get coats?" Steve asked.
"Won't need them, Cap," Tony said, clearly excited, "come on."
Loki rolled his eyes and followed as Tony dragged Pepper towards the doors. When Tony had asked him if he could keep the weather out he hadn't been sure; it was a big balcony, but in the end it hadn't been too difficult. Tony had the basics of what he called a force field, but it had been unstable and Loki had used his magic to increase the size and make it hold. This time the combination of magic and technology had worked surprisingly well.
"It's warm," Natasha said as everyone walked onto the deck.
As the last person stepped through the doors, a large table appeared as if from nowhere, heaving with food. The food had been all Pepper's work, but hiding it had been Loki's and Coulson applauded the theatrics.
"There is no way we can eat all of this," Bruce said, looking at the huge amount of fare.
"Everything left will be distributed to the homeless shelters," Pepper revealed, "along with the usual donation of food Stark Industries sends out."
"Well in that case," Barton said, still glued to Coulson, "show me a plate."
They ate, they made merry and when everyone was full, Tony looped an arm through Loki's left and Pepper through his right and he knew it was time. Centring himself with his lovers' presences he freed his magic and allowed his form to flow into that of his Jotun heritage. He looked over to Thor and did his best to smile before looking up.
Then it began to snow just on the Avengers' tower, fluttering down and settling gently on the shield over the gathered superheroes and their loved ones.
"Merry Christmas," Coulson said and raised his glass.
The salutation was echoed from every mouth.
Loki was not happy to be woken up by the blaring of an alarm.
"My apologies, Sirs and Miss Potts," JARVIS said as soon they all moved, "but there is a call for the Avengers to assemble."
"What is it, JARVIS?" Tony asked, all but falling over Loki as he tried to get out of bed.
Rather than replying immediately, JARVIS brought up news footage on the screen opposite the bed.
"I believe there is a gentleman calling himself The Frost King, threatening to render 34th street a battle zone," JARVIS supplied.
"On Christmas day," Tony complained; "do these people have no class?"
Loki was no more pleased and came to a simple decision.
"Do not worry," he said and pulled on a pair of pyjama pants, "I will deal with this," then he disappeared.
He teleported to a point further on from where the news report had shown the new villain and then stalked towards the laughing idiot, who was freezing anything within range with some sort of weapon. The Frost King aimed the nozzle at him as soon as the imbecile saw him, but Loki just kept walking. He shifted form just as the freezing stream hit him and he strode onwards, diverting the cold around his body.
A man in only pyjama pants, turning blue appeared to be shocking enough that the Frost King just stared at him, cold device going limp in his grip.
"I am Loki Laufeyson, brother to the king of the Frost Giants, and Prince of Asgard," he said in a voice that carried all over the frozen street. "Because it is the season of peace and goodwill in this realm I give you exactly one minute to surrender before I take offense at your presumption of using a title not your own and bring the full authority of Asgard and Jotunheim to bear on your unworthy hide."
The ridiculous mortal dropped his weapon as if it burned him and put up his hands.
"A fortuitous choice," Loki said and wrapped the man in magical chains, destroyed the weapon with a quick blast of ice even colder than it was and then thawed the street using his Jotun heritage to divert the cold. "Now I will leave you for the authorities for I have lovers awaiting me and I do not appreciate your choice of time."
The police were starting to appear from behind whatever shelter they had taken and so Loki felt it safe enough to let them deal with the villain. He orientated himself to the feel of Tony and then teleported to his lover's side. When the world reappeared around him he was not in the bedroom as he had expected, but on the communal level and Tony was gathered with all the other Avengers.
Loki shifted his form back to his normal shape and looked around at those gathered.
"What exactly was that?" Tony asked, looking less than pleased.
"An imbecile with a snow machine," Loki replied; "it was hardly a task for the whole team."
"We'd still prefer it if you didn't run into danger without the rest of us," Steve said, sounding as if he was trying to be Captain America, but didn't want to cause too much tension.
"And normally I would not have," Loki replied.
"But this time you took it into you head to just disappear," Tony said. "I thought we had this conversation two days ago about danger and assumptions ..."
"I apologise," he responded before Tony could go on, "I was annoyed."
"Annoyed, annoyed?" Tony did not sound impressed. "And why, pray tell, were you so annoyed? We all saw your speech, is this a whole royal pride thing..."
"No," Loki said, which actually shut Tony up for a moment. "This is a 'I had plans to fuck you slowly until you begged Pepper to help you come' thing and that cretin ruined them."
"That was a mental image I did not need," Natasha complained; "I'm going back to bed."
"Me too," Bruce decided and that was that as Barton dragged Coulson away and Steve decided to get while the going was good.
"Brother, that was well done," Thor said and clapped him on the shoulder, "I shall return to my Jane. Your ideas have merit."
Loki smiled, but he knew he was still in trouble when Tony did not immediately drag him back to Pepper. The fact that Tony wasn't blabbering at him was also not a good sign.
"I am sorry," he said and he meant it, "I will not do it again."
"Pepper is going to kill you, you realise this, right?" Tony said after a very unsettling few moments of complete silence.
"Then I will apologise to you both," he replied. "If it helps, I did assess the threat level before deciding on a course of action."
"What in thirty seconds?"
"I am very quick."
"You'd better be, because after Sunday Pepper is going to start yelling the moment we walk back through the door. You better employ that silver tongue faster than you've ever done before."
"And where exactly should I employ it?" he asked and stepped closer to Tony.
Tony's stony expression flickered for just a moment and he knew he was winning.
"Perhaps a joint attack?" he suggested.
"If I had known you were this incorrigible the first time that meeting in the penthouse could have ended so differently."
"You have no idea," he replied and swooped in for a kiss.
"Just remember we both have to be able to walk before lunch," Tony said once they broke apart and Loki pulled his lover back towards the bedroom, "we did volunteer to help with Steve's soup kitchen project. I'm not sure what I was smoking at the time. Do you think I could wear the suit?"
Loki laughed and he was amazed at how completely carefree it sounded. So much had changed in such a short time, a mere blink of an eye for a race as long lived as his own, and yet he could feel the depth of the alteration in his very bones. He was Loki, Prince of Asgard; he was Loki, son of Laufey of Jotunheim; he was an Avenger. The future held promise as it had not since he first realised he could never be Thor and it felt good.
This entry was originally posted at http://beren-writes.dreamwidth.org/226317.html.