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EileenK98
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[*] posted on 7-2-2012 at 10:46 PM
(Fanfiction) An Avengers Family Christmas


We're on Day 2, and I have yet to crack 1500 words. :( I know I'll get a lot done next week on my vacation, but I need those words now!

I started in June, so here's some of what has gone before:

__________________________________

The first time Bruce mentioned that he had a son was one movie night late in October.
“Doesn’t that girl,” he asked Tony, pointing to the screen, “look like Micky Sandoval? Not that one--her.”
“Yeah,” Tony said. “She does. What’s the actress’ name?”
“I don’t know. We’ll have to wait for the credits.”
“Who’s Micky Sandoval?” Clint asked.
“She’s my . . . I guess you’d call her my baby mama.”
Natasha spit out her Diet Coke. “You have kids?”
“Just one.”
“You never mention him. Him? Her?”
“Him. His name’s Nathan. He goes to a private school upstate. I taught there for a while, before the . . . incident.”
“How old is he?” asked Steve.
“Eight. Almost nine.”
“Big boy.”
“You have no idea,” Tony muttered.
“Do you have any pictures?”
“Just one. Jarvis?”
The movie froze, and the AI’s voice said, “Yes, Dr. Banner?”
“Display photo ‘Nathan Banner’, please.”
The movie went black, and was replaced by an image of the Hulk with . . .
“Oh, my God,” Natasha gasped.
“I know. It’s a bit of a shock, until you get to know him. He’s really smart.”
“He’s the product of two Ph.D’s,” said Tony. “How could he not be?”
“Why does he look like that?” Steve asked.
“Because Jack Franklin made him look like that. To get back at me, because Micky wanted me instead of him.”
Thor seemed the only one unfazed by the boy’s appearance. When the others called him on it, he simply shrugged and said, “Some of my brother’s children are equally . . . strange-looking.”

__________________________________

The next time Bruce mentioned his son was one morning about a month later, at the beginning of December.
He waited until everyone had come down for breakfast, and then he said, “I talked to Nathan a couple of days ago.”
“How is Hulk Junior?” asked Tony.
“He’s fine. He said . . . he said that some of the other kids at his school are going home for Christmas break.”
“What is this Chris-muss?” Thor asked.
“The big feast at the end of the year. We talked about this, remember? Anyway, Nathan asked if he could come here.”
“For how long?” asked Tony.
“Two weeks. From December 21 until the Monday after New Year’s.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I said I’d talk to everyone else before I could say yes or no. It’s his first real holiday--the kid was basically kept in a cage for the first five years of his life, and then he had gradual exposure to other people, a few at a time. He needs to get out and meet people. I’m not talking about taking him down to Times Square on New Year’s Eve--he’d go nuts, and then I’d go nuts, and that would not be good.”

***

"Well, big guy? It's up to you. Yea or nay?"
"I look forward to sparring with him. So yes."
"Just remember he's only a little boy. Don't hurt him."
"If he can go toe to toe with Wolverine," said Tony, "I don't think we have to worry about him being hurt."
"Looks like we're having company, then. I'll take full responsibility for anything he breaks."



[Edited on 7-3-2012 by EileenK98]




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[*] posted on 7-3-2012 at 05:08 PM


Doing a little better, word-wise today. Currently at 3,557, and I'm still writing. Hope to finish the day at 4K or above.

Here's the next part:

_________________________________________

They made the turn off the highway, and suddenly there it was, the huge mansion looming before them. They drove up the long drive and parked in the visitors’ lot, and suddenly, three hundred pounds of excited eight-year-old knocked Bruce over.
“Dad! Dad!”
“Oof! Take it easy, Nate!” He got up and took a look at his son.
Tony was looking at him, too. “There’s . . . something different about you, Junior.”
Nathan looked down at his body, which appeared to be that of a tall, muscular, dark-haired boy of about thirteen. “Image inducer,” he said, fingering a pendant on a chain around his neck. He squeezed it, and the illusion faded. He pressed it again, and it returned.
“Hmph. Cool.”
“You’ve got your stuff?” Bruce asked him. They walked up the path to the front door. Students were gathered in twos and threes, mostly saying goodbye to each other. A few of them turned to look as the trio passed by, but no one stared.
“It’s in my trunk. My Harry Potter trunk.” The boy smiled. “I feel like I’m leaving Hogwarts for the holiday.”
“You’ll be back. And you’ll like the people we’re living with. They’re . . . nice.”
“Did you know there are twelve thousand, eight hundred and seven Avengers fansites? And that’s just the team ones. There are individual ones, too. Even the Hulk has a fan page. I have it bookmarked on my laptop. Bye, Riley! Bye, Carlos! Bye, Misha!” he called out to some departing students. The kids turned and waved back at him.
Nathan’s trunk was in the entry hall, his massive laptop sitting on top. Tony opened it up and looked at it. Each of the keys was about the size of his palm. “Not bad,” he said. “I could build you a better one, though. Can I look at this, when we get home?”
“Son, you remember Mr. Stark,” Bruce said.
“Hi, Mr. Stark. I want to show you the fan pages first. There’s a really good one for Iron Man.”
“Well, that’s because there’s so much information. My life is an open book. Unlike some people.”
A slim redhead in a white blouse walked up to them. “Are you ready to go, Nathan?”
“Yes, Miss Jean. I’m all set.”
“Hi, Jean,” Bruce said. He had liked the young woman, during his brief tenure at the mansion.
“Doctor Banner. Mr. Stark,” she nodded to Tony.
“Ms. Grey.”
“Can we go now?” Nathan demanded. He lifted the trunk with one huge hand. “Please?”
“You ain’t leavin’ without sayin’ goodbye to me, are ya, Tiny?” a voice from behind them said.
“Mr. Logan!” The boy bent down and gave the man a crushing bear hug. “I’ll miss you.”
“Yeah, I’ll miss you, too, kiddo. How you doing, Bruce?”
“Pretty well. I thought my current living environment would be a problem, but . . . he’s been quiet for a while. Which is a good thing.”
“I’ll say.” Logan handed him a green folder. “Here’s his report card. He’s the best student I ever had—does what he’s told, asks good questions, not afraid of getting hit . . .”
“As long as he doesn’t hurt anyone else.” Bruce took the folder and tucked it under his arm.
“Have you thought about coming back here?” Jean asked. “The kids loved having you as a teacher.”
“And I loved teaching,” he admitted, “but it just wouldn’t work out. As long as I know he’s okay,” he nodded towards Nathan, “I’m good. Let’s go, Nate.”
“Okay, Dad.” He turned and waved one last time on his way out to the car.

******

When they stepped off the elevator, Tony’s assistant, Pepper Potts, was there to meet them.
“When did you get here?” he asked her.
“About five minutes before you did. Check your messages.”
“I was just about to do that. Um, this is Nathan. Nathan, come say hello to Miss Potts.”
Nathan stepped forward. Pepper had been prepared for his odd appearance, but photos were nothing like seeing him in person. He was . . . big. “Hello, Nathan,” she said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” She started to extend her hand, but then stopped when she saw the size of his massive paws.
Nathan took her hand as gently as he could and shook it. It was a bit like shaking hands with a bear (not that she’d ever done that), but not as scary. “Hello, Miss Potts. You’re pretty.”
“Why, thank you. Hello, Doctor Banner.”
Bruce nodded to her. He had one end of Nathan’s heavy trunk, and Tony took the other. Together they maneuvered it into the main living space and set it against a wall for now.
“Where’s that going?” Pepper asked.
“My room,” said Bruce, “but not yet. Where is everyone?”
“Down in the practice area, working out some aggression.”
“I told them we’d be right up!” said Tony. “What happened?”
She sighed. “The usual. When the arguing got too loud, I told them to go punch something or shoot something or hit something that wouldn’t make a mess. Give them a few more minutes. At least you’ll have time to go through your messages.”
“Let’s go put this away, then,” Bruce said to his son. “I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping. It’s right next to my room, so if you get scared, I’ll be right there.”
Together they lifted the trunk and carried it down to Bruce’s suite of rooms, right next to his lab.
“This will be your room, at least for now. Hope it’s big enough for you.” It was actually two rooms, with the divider between them retracted. There was a king sized bed, on cinder blocks, a specially-reinforced chair, and a desk that took up half the room. No flimsy some-assembly-required furniture here.
“It’s great, Dad.” Nathan opened his trunk and started unpacking.
“I’ll see you out in the living room as soon as you’re ready. Hopefully everyone else will be up, and you can meet them all.”
“Do you like them?”
“They’re good people, all of them. Sometimes we . . . disagree on some points, but we generally get along pretty well, most of the time.”
“They’re afraid to get you mad, huh?”
He had to smile at that. “Not so much anymore. I’ll leave you to finish unpacking. The wardrobe’s over there.” He pointed to the corner, where a wardrobe that was actually smaller than Nathan himself sat in the corner. “Make sure you hang everything up, or the cleaning robots will come through and destroy anything on the floor.”
“Cleaning robots?” Nathan looked like he was sure he was being had. “Are there really cleaning robots?”
“They come through twice a day, sweeping up all the dust and crumbs and stuff. So make sure there’s nothing left on the floor for them to roll over. I’m serious.”
“Sure, Dad.” Nathan still wasn’t sure he wasn’t kidding, but he hung all his clothes in the wardrobe and set his laptop and all its accessories on the desk. When he was done, the room looked like home.
But it needed one last touch. He reached into the bottom of the trunk and took out the picture of his mother, the only one he had, clipped out of the newspaper and fitted into a frame, and set it on the desk next to the laptop. The picture really didn’t do her justice, but he liked seeing her face first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. He didn’t care what else she had done; she was his mother, and he loved her.

____________________________________

Next time: Nathan meets the Avengers!




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[*] posted on 7-4-2012 at 02:11 PM


I see the little bit of crossover with X-Men you did there. :) Then again, it completely makes sense.

I think you have a really good start to your fic. I can't wait for Nathan to meet the Avengers - sounds like it's going to be insane.




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[*] posted on 7-8-2012 at 06:56 AM


Day 8
Word count: 9,700

Well, here we are at our vacation cottage in New Hampshire. (I say "our," but we don't own it. We've just rented it every year for the past fifteen years, so it feels like home.) Yesterday I didn't get much done, because certain little people were trying to read over my shoulder. But I think I may get more done today, even if I have to bring my notebook outside and write longhand.

Anyway, on with the show!

_______________________________________-

There you are!” Bruce appeared from the kitchen area. “Everyone,” he called out. “I want you all to come meet Nathan.”
“Aw, dammit!” one of the men—the one all in black—yelled at the TV screen. “That was a bonehead play if I ever saw one!”
“Language! Women and children present!” That was the big man with short blond hair, who Nathan still couldn’t believe he was getting to meet.
The woman, who had pretty red hair, looked over her shoulder at him. “I’ve heard worse. In eight different languages.”
“That still doesn’t excuse it.”
“Tell that idiot not to drop the ball, then.”
“Clint,” said the woman, “you agreed to be nice. Now come on.” She stood up and came over to where Nathan was standing. “Hello, Nathan. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Hello, Miss Tasha,” he said. “You look prettier than your pictures. They’re usually blurry.”
“That’s because she’s usually moving,” said the man who had complained about the game. “Clint Barton,” he introduced himself. Nathan gingerly shook his hand, just as he had done with Miss Potts. “Can I get back to sulking now? I have money on this game.”
“Why do they keep interrupting it with pictures of cars?” the big man with long blond hair demanded. “Why do they not simply get on with it?”
“They’re called commercials,” said Bruce. “They’re to get people to buy stuff.”
“Let them buy it on their own time! Nothing is worth interrupting such a contest of strength!”
“Are you really a god?” Nathan asked him.
The man looked him up and down. “You are the son of Banner?”
“Yes, sir.”
“You are . . . bigger than I expected.”
“So are you.”
The Norse god laughed, and put his arm around the boy. “I like you, child! You speak the truth so plainly. Come, watch the foot ball with us!”
Nathan looked back. “Can I, Dad?”
“Fine with me.”
And then he was face to face with his idol, his second-favorite Avenger (cause his dad would always be number one), who was standing up and approaching him. “It’s an honor to meet you, sir,” Nathan said, too much in awe to come any closer.
“The honor’s mine,” said Steve Rogers, Captain America, “to meet such a well-mannered young man.” And he grabbed Nathan’s furry paw and clasped it firmly.
“Can I sit with you?” the boy asked.
“Is he allowed on the furniture?” That was the grumpy man, Mr. Barton.
“He’s not a Saint Bernard.” Mr. Stark had come back in and sat down in the leather recliner. “Are you worried he’ll shed on you or something?”
The man said nothing, and Nathan sat down next to Captain Rogers, trying not to lean too hard against the back of the sofa. He had broken too many pieces of furniture to be totally comfortable sitting there.




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[*] posted on 7-11-2012 at 08:21 PM


Life isn't fair. Just as I'm finally hitting my stride and getting caught up, I find out we're heading home a day early. My dad's best friend just died, and the wake is Friday, so Dad has to be there. They were both in the Knights of Columbus together, so Dad has to make a lot of phone calls.
Someone write something funny to cheer me up, please. He was a great guy, and I already miss him.

Anyway, here's the next part of the story:

_____________________________________________

Suddenly there was a beep, and JARVIS’ voice sounded through the living space. “Attention: there is an intruder in the main lobby.”
“Intruder?” Tony looked interested. “What kind of intruder? I thought the doorman kept all the crazy homeless people out of the building.”
“He is most insistent, sir. He is asking for you to come down to meet him.”
“Show us this intruder.” He had a hunch, but he needed to find out for sure.
The image popped up on the main view screen, displacing Spongebob. Nathan cried out, but his father gestured to him to hush.
Even in a black and green ski parka, a gold knit cap pulled down over his face, they still recognized him.
"Loki." Clint threw his coffee cup to the floor with a snarl of rage.
"What the hell is he doing here?" Tony demanded.
Everyone looked at Thor, who looked angry as well. "I did not invite him! I do not even know how he found us!"
"The fan sites," said Bruce. "All he had to do was Google."
"He does not know how to . . . Google!"
"Maybe he asked someone."
"I don't care," said Tony. "Get down there, and get rid of him. What's he even doing here on Earth? I thought he was imprisoned in Asgard."
Thor looked uncomfortable. "He was exiled to this plane, after being stripped of his powers. It was his punishment from our father.”
"And you didn't tell us this why? No, never mind. Just go tell him to get lost."
The Thunder God reluctantly stormed out of the apartment.
"Can I have my cartoon back, please?" Nathan asked.
The others looked over as if noticing him for the first time. “Oh, sure,” Tony said. “JARVIS, put the cartoon back on for the kid.”
“Aw, I wanted to watch Loki get his a—get kicked out,” said Clint.
“You can watch the recording later. Right now, let’s keep Hulk Junior happy.”
Spongebob came back on, and Nathan said, “Thank you, Mr. Stark.”
“Any time, kid.”
Not five minutes later, the elevator dinged, and an angry Norse god appeared, carrying something over his shoulder. It wasn’t until he threw the something onto one of the sofas that the others saw what it was.
Or rather, who it was.
“Now, you will stay there!” Thor ordered his brother. “You will not move. You will not speak to any of us, until we decide what to do with you!”
“Can I remove my jacket?” Loki asked.
“Give it to me. I will hang it up.”
The Trickster unzipped his jacket and shrugged it off. Underneath he was wearing a dark green button-down shirt and black jeans. He reluctantly handed the jacket over, and then pulled his hat off and tossed that to his brother, who caught it with the hand that wasn’t holding the jacket.
“I’m sorry,” said Tony. “What part of ‘Get rid of him’ translated as ‘Bring him upstairs and dump him on my couch?’”
“He has nowhere else to go,” Thor explained.
“There are homeless shelters!”
“He is powerless! And alone. He has many enemies.”
“Yes, and many of them are in this room,” Clint pointed out. “I don’t care where he goes, as long as it’s not here.”
“He has been punished enough!”
“Not nearly enough for me.”
“Would you have me throw him out into the cold?”
“That sounds good for a start,” said Tony. “I’ll even make him a ‘WILL WORK FOR FOOD’ sign.”
“You do not understand!”
“Excuse me,” said Bruce, in that wavery voice that suggested he was beginning to lose control. “I have to go to my room for a while.”




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[*] posted on 7-12-2012 at 02:25 AM


*slowly raises hand* er, hi. I saw your thread title and figured I should drop in, because I've read nothing but Avengers fanfiction since I saw it in May and...and...EEEEEEEE *fangirl-glomps Loki and huggles him* The Loki's-powerless-and-stuck-on-earth-and-Avengers-help-him fics are my absolute favorite.

And your Tony Stark is full of win. The Snark is strong with this one X D

[Edited on 7-12-2012 by LillianAltair]
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[*] posted on 7-12-2012 at 06:29 PM


Thanks, Lillian! Hope to get another part up tomorrow or Saturday. It needs some editing, but I'll worry about that after I've actually finished the thing.



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[*] posted on 7-15-2012 at 07:47 AM


Here's some more for you! They decide to go shopping. Yeah, nothing can go wrong with that, can it . . .

______________________________________

As the director’s image faded from the screen, Nathan asked, “Dad, can Mr. Loki come shopping with us?”
Everyone turned to look at them.
“Oh, no, no!” said Tony. “No way, Hell, no!”

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” he said twenty minutes later, as he drove a Hummer with Bruce, Nathan, and the two gods aboard. “Why am I doing this again?”
“Yay, Christmas shopping!” Nathan exclaimed, and began singing along with the music on the radio.

******

They drove out of the city, to a mid-sized mall in the suburbs. It was decided that if they were going to do this crazy thing, it was better for everyone not to be in the middle of the city, in case anything went wrong.
“There’s still going to be crowds,” Natasha had pointed out. “I mean, come on, it’s three days before Christmas. It’ll be crazy. Are we sure we can handle it?”
Bruce appreciated how she hadn’t singled any one of them out. “We’ll have our phones, right? If anything happens, we can find each other and get out of there in a hurry.”
“I’m not riding in a car with him,” Clint had insisted.
“You don’t have to,” said Tony. “We’ll have to take at least two cars anyway.”
“I call Hummer!” Nathan shouted.
“What is a . . . Hummer?” asked Thor.
“A big vehicle,” Tony explained. “The big people ride in the big car. The regular-size people can take the Mercedes.”
“So we’re going to do this crazy thing, then?” asked Steve.
“He wants to go,” said Bruce. “He doesn’t get to go shopping much. He’ll be okay, if I’m there.”
“What about you? Will you be okay?”
“I think so.” He would never admit it to any of them, but he had taken a mild tranquilizer when he had left the room, when the first arguments began. He didn’t like having to rely on medication to control himself, but he thought he might need a little extra help this time.
And so here they were, in the Hummer, driving along and listening to Christmas music, just like a normal family. A dysfunctional family, to be sure, but a family nonetheless.
He looked over his shoulder at Nathan, who was happily singing in the rear passenger seat, and Thor, in the other window seat, who was trying to keep up despite the fact that he knew none of the words. Between them, Loki looked absolutely miserable.
“Why do you not sing with us, brother?” Thor asked him.
“I . . . don’t know the words.”
“That does not matter! It is the spirit of the thing! Today is a day for celebrating! Celebrate with us!”
“Celebrate what? That I am essentially a prisoner here? That I can’t—“ The Hummer hit a bump, and suddenly Loki’s face was as green as his jacket.
Bruce knew that look. “Tony, roll the window down, now!”
“Why? What—“
“Just do it!”
There was a mechanical whine as the power window rolled down, and then Loki was leaning across his brother and vomiting out onto the blacktop.
"What is this? Brother, are you ill?" Thor put one hand on the younger man's back, and the other underneath him for support.
It was some time before Loki was able to speak. "That," he said, "was unpleasant."
Bruce handed him back a bottle of water. The god took a swig, rinsed his mouth out, and spat out the still-open window. "That's better. Thank you, Doctor."
"What in the name of Asgard is wrong with him?" Thor demanded.
"Nothing serious. He's just carsick," Bruce explained.
"Carsick?"
"It's caused by the motion of the vehicle. Used to happen to me all the time, when I was young. It's nasty, but it does go away. I can give you something for it, if there's a drugstore in this mall."
"That would be most appreciated." Loki took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "I do feel better now."

******

"Whatcha looking at, kiddo?"
"It's us," said Steve. "Well, almost all of us. I don't see a Black Widow anywhere."
"Female figures tend to be hard to find," Bruce explained. "I used to collect them, until . . . you know. Then it became a bad idea to have anything breakable around."
"Found one!" Nathan was digging through the bin until he found a Black Widow action figure. "Now I can have everybody!"
"How much are they?" his father asked, looking for a price sticker. "Holy cow, eight bucks for a four-inch figure? I used to get three for ten dollars."
"Please, Dad?" Nathan's eyes were huge and round.
"That's almost fifty dollars, Nate. Are you sure you don't want to save that money for presents?"
"I already know what I'm getting everybody. I won't ask for anything else ever again. Please, please, pleeeeeease?"
"Tell you what," said Steve. "If you can find another Black Widow, I'll buy you a whole set and have everyone sign them, so you have something to show your friends."
"Yaaaaay!" Nathan began tossing the packaged figures aside in order to find the one he needed.
“Hey, hey, easy, buddy! Don’t go breaking the rest of them!” Bruce began picking up the discarded figures before deciding it would be better to make Nathan do it himself. “Now, you’re gonna pick all the rest of these up before we go pay for these, right?”
“Got it!” He emerged clutching the coveted figure. Then he looked around at the mess he had made. “Oops. Sorry.”
“Come on, I’ll help you.” He did let Nathan do most of the work, only picking up the odd figure here and there. Luckily, no one else was in the store at the moment, so no one had been hurt by the action figure tornado.
As they went up to pay, Nathan said, “Thank you, Captain Rogers.”
“Consider it your Christmas present from me. I’ll pass them around and get them signed, and you can put them right in your trunk to take home with you.”
“Wow, someone likes the Avengers,” said the old man behind the register. “We have a complete set of X-Men, too. At least for the moment; they keep changing their lineup so fast the toy companies can’t keep up.”
“Do you like the Avengers?” Nathan asked him.
“Oh, sure I do!”
“Who’s your favorite?”
The two grownups with Nathan looked at each other, grinning. Little did anyone know . . .
“Well, that’s hard to say. They’re all so amazing. But if I had to pick a favorite . . . I’d say Spider-Man.”
Nathan gave him an indignant look. “But he’s not even an Avenger!”
“He will be. I’m sure of it. That’s fifty-three dollars and ninety-five cents.”

******

Three or four uniformed Mall Security officers rushed past them. One was speaking on his little walkie-talkie. “Roger that. On our way.”
“What’s going on, Dad?”
“I don’t know. Maybe someone got hurt. Let’s just try and keep out of the way for now. Do you see anything else you’d like to look at?”
“They don’t have guns here, do they?”
What a strange question. “No. Why would you want guns?”
“Not for me. I still haven’t bought Mr. Fury a present. I thought he might like a new gun.”
Bruce and Steve looked at each other, not sure whether to be amused or angry. “I think he has all the guns he needs. We’ll find him something else. Oh, look, here’s Santa’s Workshop.”
“Santa’s for babies,” Nathan said, and then they realized that all the Mall Security men were crowded around the red and white cardboard shack that represented Santa’s village. There were loud, angry voices, and suddenly Bruce recognized one of them.
“Thor,” said Steve, coming to the same conclusion. “What’s he up to?”
“Maybe he wanted to see Santa.”
As they drew closer, a woman’s voice rang out shrilly: “—cutting right in front of everyone! Who do you think you are, you—“
“I am a prince of Asgard, you harpy! I demand to see my father at once!”
“Father?” Nathan was confused. “Santa is Mr. Thor’s father?”
“I’ll explain later, buddy. Let’s just keep walking.”
But that was easier said than done. Thor caught sight of them and called out, “Friends! Come and help defend me from this troublesome witch!”
“Witch? How dare you? I want this man arrested at once! I don’t care who he is! He’s upsetting the children!”
The children gathered around watching did not seem the least bit upset. Rather, they were intrigued by the confrontation, watching eagerly to see what would happen next.
“Excuse me, officers, if I might have a moment?” Loki put an arm around the lead security guard’s shoulders and led him away, talking a mile a minute.
“What is he doing?” Steve asked. He tried to hear what they were saying, but they were too far away.
Meanwhile, Thor was standing there pouting. It was not a good look for him.
The Santa who normally worked this mall stood off to one side, his padded belly drooping and his false beard askew. “I don’t even know the guy!” he kept repeating. “He thinks I’m his father? I don’t know him!”
The conference seemed to be breaking up now. The security guard came over and spoke to the woman who had made the complaint. He kept looking towards Thor and making strange gestures. When he was done, he dismissed his people.
The woman came over and began speaking in the kind of overly loud tones one would use with an animal or a toddler. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you were—I mean, that you loved Santa so much!”
“Why is that woman shouting at me, brother?” Thor asked, as Loki hurriedly ushered them away from the pavilion.
“Oh, no reason, no reason. Look, there’s a leather goods shop! That should be good for a laugh.”
“What did you say to them?” Steve demanded.
Loki sighed. “All right, if you must know, I hinted—only hinted, mind you—that my client was in need of special assistance.”
“You told her he was retarded?” Bruce spat in shock. “You’d better hope he never finds out, or he’ll kill you!”
“I’ll never tell him. I think this little incident is best forgotten, don’t you?”
“You shouldn’t have said that,” Nathan told him. “That was kinda mean.”
“Would you prefer that he be taken into custody? They were talking about calling the police. I had to tell them something. That was simply the first thing I thought of, and the easiest explanation. Look how quickly she believed it.”
“It still wasn’t right.”
“I know what it is like to be in a cell. I would not wish that even on my enemies.”
“Sometimes,” Bruce said to the boy, “grownups need to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. It’s complicated. You’ll understand when you’re older.”
“Okay. Hey, you think Mr. Fury would like a wallet?”




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[*] posted on 7-15-2012 at 10:53 PM


Aw, poor Loki. *hands him Dramamine* *snickersnicker* that was great. And yes, I'm sure Fury has more than enough guns X D
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[*] posted on 7-16-2012 at 05:07 PM


Glad you're liking it! In our next chapter, more guests arrive. Just what we needed, right?

____________________________________________

A two-note chime sounded. “Attention, all residents,” Tony announced. “Dinner is now served. Please proceed to the formal dining room.”
“We have a formal dining room?” Bruce asked. “I’ve been here almost four months, and I’ve never seen it. We usually either just eat in the kitchen, or else get our own.”
“It’s down one level,” Pepper explained. “I’ll show you. Sweetie,” she said to Nathan, who was attempting to wipe up the mess with a paper towel, “just leave it. We’ll get it later.”
“But I have to wrap all the presents later!”
“I’ll help you with that,” his father said.
“And I will help with the cleaning,” said Thor. “Since part of the blame is mine.”
They made it to the dining room before anyone else. It was a big place, Bruce observed, big enough to hold maybe fifty people at once. The table was about thirty feet long, but only one end of it had been set, with . . . he counted . . . eleven places. Eleven? Wait a minute. He counted in his head, and could only come up with nine. And that was if you counted Loki, whom Bruce wasn’t sure would be out to join them.
But there they were: five on one side, five on the other, and one at the very end.
“Are we expecting company?” he asked Pepper.
Thor’s face took on a thunderstruck expression. “I forgot that the ladies will be arriving tonight!”
“Ladies?” asked Nathan.
“My beloved, Lady Jane, and her friend, Lady Darcy. I meant to tell all of you, but . . .”
“But things got crazy? After the day we’ve had, I don’t think anyone will blame you for forgetting.” Bruce looked for place cards; there weren’t any. He concluded that, unlike an actual formal dinner, they could sit wherever they wanted.
Presently, Clint and Natasha strolled in from wherever they had been. “Where do we sit?” she asked.
Bruce shrugged. “I guess we just sit wherever we want.”
“Fine with me.” They took seats on the opposite side of the table.
Steve was next to join them. “Aren’t there too many places?” he asked, counting. “Why are there two extra plates?”
“We have two more guests arriving,” said Tony, coming in with a big pot of spaghetti in his arms. “I sent the car for them; they should be here any minute.”
“Oh, my God,” said Pepper suddenly. She looked at Thor. “You didn’t tell them about . . . Nathan, did you?”
“I did not. Why?”
“I can wear my inducer,” the boy offered. “Then I won’t scare them.”
“They’ll be fine once they get to know you,” his father said. “Everyone else is.”
“No, I’ll go get it. Is that okay?” He didn’t wait for an answer, but jumped up and ran to his room to retrieve it.
“Poor kid,” said Steve. “I don’t think he’s scary-looking at all.”
“Yeah, but you’re used to him now,” Natasha said. “Admit it, when you first saw him, you were a little nervous.”
“I think we all were.” Clint looked over at Bruce. “I owe you an apology, Doc. I thought he’d be a problem, but he’s been perfectly well-behaved. Granted, he’s only been here two days, but still--“
Tony brought in the pot of sauce. “I’ve just been informed,” he told them, “that our guests are on their way up. So go ahead and start. Pass your plates down, and I’ll load them up.”
Nathan came running back in, wearing his inducer but having not yet activated it. “Can I have two meatballs?” he asked.
“You can have ten, if you want. I made two dozen, so there should be plenty for everybody.”
“Thank you!” he called out.
“You’re welcome. Now pass your plate up this way, and I’ll fill it up.”
Nathan lifted his plate gingerly and handed it to his dad, who passed it down the line.
“So tell me what you’re learning in school,” Bruce asked his son.
“Well, I do kind of an independent study. Cause the other kids are in regular school, but they didn’t think I was ready yet. Plus I read a lot on the computer. I found one of your papers. On gamma rays. I didn’t understand all of it, but Dr. McCoy helped me.”
“One of my papers, huh?” He hadn’t realized they’d ever been published. “How’d you find it?”
“Link from Wikipedia. I printed it; it’s in with my school stuff, if you want to look at it.”
“Maybe later. Here comes your pasta.” He set the plate down in front of the boy. “Wow, you got three meatballs! Lucky.”
“Thank you, Mr. Stark,” Nathan said, as he picked up his fork and dug in.
At that moment, Thor looked up and saw Loki standing in the doorway. “Brother! Come and join us!” He stood and pulled out the chair next to him, which he had been saving.
“Well, don’t we look cozy?” The God of Mischief surveyed the scene. “I suppose I might as well. I am a bit hungry.” He sat down, ignoring the others’ looks, and seemed to be waiting for the food to magically appear on his plate.
Tony cleared his throat. When there was no response, he said, “It’s not gonna teleport itself over to you. Pass your plate down.”
“What?”
“Your plate, Bambi. Hand it over.”
“I do wish you would stop calling me that.”
“And I wish you would go jump off a bridge. Can’t always get what you want.”
Thor tensed a little, but didn’t say anything. He knew Stark wasn’t actually threatening his brother, just being his usual annoying self.
“—place is huge! How was I supposed to know where they were?”
“I know. I’ll have to leave a trail of bread crumbs behind me . . .”
“Ah, our guests have arrived. Ladies!” The thunder god stood as the two women entered the room. “Come and sit and have pasta with us!”
Bruce looked over at his son, who had very quickly pressed his inducer medallion as soon as he had heard the women’s voices. Right on the ball, that kid. “Nate, can you move over to the other side of me? I think Miss Jane might like to sit next to Mr. Thor.”
“Okay, Dad.” Nathan picked up his plate and moved around to the empty place.
“Oh, who is this?” Darcy came over and looked at the boy. “I didn't know you had a little brother, Doc!”
“He’s not. He’s my son. He’s just, um, tall for his age.”
“You’re not kidding,” Tony muttered under his breath. “Wait till the kid takes off the bling.”
“This is Nathan. He’s on vacation from his school upstate. Nathan, this is Miss Darcy, and Miss Jane.”
“Hi.” He wasn’t sure whether to shake hands, bow, or just wave.

*******

“Oh, my God,” Darcy interrupted, staring across the table. “What is he doing here?”
Everyone turned to look at Loki, who was sitting there calmly twirling spaghetti onto his fork. “Not my idea,” he said, “but no one gave me a choice.”
“That is not what you said this morning,” Thor contradicted him. “You begged me to let you stay here.”
“I would never do anything so undignified as begging! I asked you. You could have said no.”
“I did say no. But you insisted.”
“So, what, he lives here now?” Jane asked.
Tony shrugged. “Sort of a rehabilitation-slash-house arrest type thing. Just for the record, I voted no.”
“Well, you were outvoted,” Loki said smugly. “Is there any salt?”
Nathan saw it and passed it down to him. “Mr. Loki came Christmas shopping with us! I bought him a present, but I don’t think anyone else did.”
“I thought he was to be punished on Asgard,” Jane remarked.
“He was,” said Thor. “His punishment was to be stripped of his powers and banished to Midgard permanently. He had nowhere else to go, so he came here. So long as he does not cause trouble, the Midgardian authorities are willing to let him remain here.”
“I wouldn’t say willing, exactly,” said Tony. “Fury was pi—mad when he found out. He only agreed because the big guy insisted. And one screw-up, and Bambi ends up in a maximum-security holding cell.”
There was the scrape of a chair being pushed back. “Call me that again, Man of Iron, and I will—“
“You’ll what? You can’t do anything, and you know it. If you do, you’ll get dragged off by a couple of SHIELD goons and locked away for the rest of your unnatural life.”
“Not if they do not know about it.”
“Yeah, about that: turn around.”
Loki did so.
“See that blinking red light up on the wall there? Wave to it.”
He caught on quicker than they would have expected. “That is a camera? We are being watched?”
“Twenty-four-seven, Chuckles. So think about that before you decide to go off on me or anyone else. Now sit down and finish your dinner. And . . . sorry for calling you Bambi. I won’t do that again.”
“Thank you.” He sat down, but it seemed Stark wasn’t done yet.
“It’s a stripper name, and you wouldn’t make a good stripper.”
“There’s a mental image I didn’t need,” Clint whispered to Natasha.
“I think,” Bruce muttered to himself, “I need another Valium.”




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[*] posted on 7-18-2012 at 01:49 PM


dkjfsldkgjlksjdhsh Tony calling Loki 'Bambi' is my favorite ever! Here, have +1 internets X D I read a fanfic on archive of our own where Loki let him (if only because he didn't know what it meant). Tony's Loki-nicknames are always my favorite ^_^ And d'aw, Nathan is soooooo cute! *huggles him*
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[*] posted on 7-19-2012 at 07:30 AM


Next chapter! Someone has nightmares.

________________________________

He fell asleep and dreamed of his mother. Her body was laid out on a little cart that looked like a wheelbarrow, and she was at the end of a procession that included everyone Nathan had ever met in his life. The line stretched out for miles.
“Where are we going?” he asked his dad.
“We’re burying her in a special vault, so that she can’t ever break out,” he said. “It’s radiation-proof and lead-lined. Absolutely impenetrable.”
“So we can’t get in, either?”
“Nothing can get in. It’s—“
And suddenly the Bad Man was there, but he looked different. He was as big as Nathan, and muscle-bound like the Hulk. He stood there between the two of them and the cart, growling.
“Get away from him!” Nathan’s dad shouted. “Get away from my son!”
The Bad Man-thing charged, and Nathan woke up.
And his dad was still screaming.
“Get away from him, Jack! Don’t you hurt him!”
“Dad!” Nathan ran into his dad’s room, and found him thrashing around, caught up in the bed covers. He folded them back, and reached down and held his dad in his arms.
“Dad, it’s okay. I’m here, I’m all right. The Bad Man can’t hurt us anymore. Can you hear me?”
“Nathan! Nathan!” Dad was trembling all over, and Nathan was afraid that the Scary Guy was about to make an appearance. He had to do something to calm him down, right now.
So he did the only thing he could think of.
He sang.
“Midnight at the oasis, send your camel to bed. Dark shadows painting our faces, traces, of romance in our heads . . .”
It was one of Nathan’s favorite songs that his mother had sung to him. It always made him think of the Arabian Nights. But now he hoped that the music would help his dad calm down and go back to sleep, or at least not turn green.

Tony was startled out of a dream of whipped-cream-covered Playmates by the sound of someone singing.
What the hell? Who was singing “Muskrat Love” at one o’clock in the morning? He tried to identify the voice, but couldn’t.
Well, there was nothing for it, then. He’d just have to go find out who that was and why they felt moved to sing the mellow hits of the Seventies in the middle of the night. He was fairly sure that none of them had gotten drunk enough to think that singing Captain and Tennille songs at that hour was a good idea, but Clint had been known to hole up with a bottle when he was feeling low.
But the singing wasn’t coming from Clint’s rooms. It was in the other direction.
Bruce? But he didn’t even drink! What was going on?
He tried the door, which fortunately wasn’t locked, and tiptoed in, not turning on the light. In the faint light from the hallway he saw the kid standing over his father, holding him tightly and crooning about muskrats in love.
Awwww.
“What are you doing?” he whispered.
Nathan nearly jumped. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I . . . he was screaming . . . he had a bad dream, and . . .”
“I get the picture. You know what it was about?”
“The Bad Man. Funny; I dreamed about him too. I wonder if we had the same dream?”
Underneath the kid, Bruce was shaking like a leaf and moaning, not exactly screaming anymore but making noises of distress. His eyes were closed, and he didn’t seem to be aware that Tony was in the room.
“I’ll be right back.” Tony went back to his room for his cell phone, and on the way back, ran into a few other residents of the tower, curious about the commotion.
“What’s going on?” Steve asked.
“Bruce is having nightmares. The kid’s trying to calm him down. Keep everyone out of there, okay? We don’t need ten people crowding into the room and making him nervous. Tell them everything’s fine.” With any luck, it soon would be.
He dialed a number. “Maria? Can you get me the video feed from Jack Franklin’s cell? Yes, I know it’s one-thirty in the morning. I need that feed now, or we’re going to have a situation here. A big, green situation, if you know what I mean. Thanks. Yeah, I’ll hold.”
He went back into the room. Nathan was crooning “Dream Weaver” now. It looked like Bruce had stopped shaking, but still wasn’t waking up.
“Where’d you learn those songs? They’re like way before your time.”
“My mother. She used to sing to me to calm me down. I don’t know all the words, though.”
“That’s okay. It’s the sound of your voice that’s getting to him.”
“Did I wake everyone up?”
“Kind of,” Tony said with a grin. “I told them everything was all right. It is all right, isn’t it? For the sake of my furniture, if nothing else.”
As if on cue, Bruce’s eyes opened. “What . . . what did he do?”
Misunderstanding, Tony said, “Sung you some easy listening music. I guess you were dreaming about Jack Franklin. I have something to show you.”
He held up his phone. The video feed showed the infamous scientist sleeping on the bunk in his cell. There was a date and time feed down in the corner. Bruce fumbled for his glasses and looked at it.
“See, Dad?” Nathan said. “He can’t hurt us anymore. I dreamed about him, too.”
“He had you . . . locked in a cage, and he was poking you with a cattle prod, just to see you jump. And he made me watch.”
“He used to do that a lot,” Nathan muttered, almost inaudibly. “To test my pain reaction. I think he liked it.”
“Bastard,” Bruce spat.
“Dad!”
“Well, he is! I hope he rots in prison.”
“You think you’re gonna be okay now? Or do I need to dig out the best of Bread?” Tony quipped.
Bruce looked at his son. “What did you sing to me?”
“Mother’s old songs. She used to sing to me sometimes when I was scared.”
“Figures. Micky had the worst taste in music. She liked the sappiest soft rock you ever heard. She tortured me one afternoon by playing ‘All Out of Love’ over and over again. I hate Air Supply.”
“Mental note: remove all Air Supply tracks from the music system. Wait a minute, I don’t think I have any Air Supply tracks. I think we’re good.”
“Do you need me to stay,” Nathan asked his father, “or can I go back to bed?”
“I’ll be fine, buddy. If I can’t get back to sleep, I’ll just sit up and read. No reason you should miss any sleep. You’re okay now, right?”
The boy nodded.
There was a tap on the door, and Natasha stuck her head in. “Everything all right in here?”
“We’re all fine here,” Tony said. “Come on, kid, let’s leave your dad in peace.”
They left the room. Natasha was about to leave as well, and then she saw something on the night stand. She went over and picked it up. “What are these?” she asked, shaking the small bottle. “And don’t tell me allergy pills, cause I know you don’t have any allergies.”
Bruce sighed. “They’re Valium.”
“How long have you been taking them?”
“Just today. One this morning, before the shopping trip; one after dinner. That’s it.”
“That better be it. It’s too easy to become dependent on these things, and then what happens when they stop working?”
“I just . . . needed a little extra help, that’s all.”
“If you needed help,” she said, “all you had to do was ask. That’s what we’re here for.”
“I don’t want everyone to feel like they’re walking on eggshells around me. I don’t think I was that close to—to an episode. I was trying to head it off before I got that close.”
“Well, no more self-medicating.”
“I know what I’m doing.”
She gave him a pointed look. “The last time I heard that from someone,” she said, “was right before he blew his head off.”
“Ouch! Point taken. I’ll stay away from them, from now on.”
She smiled at him. “I don’t know what Franklin did to that kid, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t have nightmares about it. I wouldn’t have let the bastard live, myself.”
“I know he can’t hurt us anymore. That’s fine with me. You can take those, if you want. I won’t be needing them.”
“I’ll go flush them,” she said. “Night, Bruce.”
“Good night.”
He lay in the dark a while, trying to think of good things. Micky’s awful music, God. The steady stream of Seventies pop that drifted out of her CD player hadn’t really annoyed him as much as he made out. Some of the songs, he actually liked. In small doses. But he would never admit it.
It had been sheer genius for Nathan to think of singing to calm him down. Anyone else would have tried to wake him up, and that would definitely not have gone well. The Other Guy had rattled the bars of his cage tonight, and how close had he been to breaking through? Too damn close.
But Natasha was right about the Valium; at some point, he would have developed a tolerance, and been unable to take enough without overdosing. If it was even possible for him to do so.
And would that be such a bad thing?
He quickly shunted that line of thinking aside, and thought of other pleasant things. Snow, for instance. He had spent much of the last few years in warm places in Africa, in South America, on the Indian sub-continent, and it had been a long time since he’d seen snow. Maybe if it snowed soon, they could all go outside and have a snowball fight. It would be fun.
He lay there thinking of all the fun things they would do this week, and never noticed when sleep claimed him once again.
There were no further dreams.




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[*] posted on 7-22-2012 at 08:50 AM


The next morning, when plans are interrupted by action (that I can't write):

____________________________________________

Thor came clomping into the kitchen, drawn by the smell of coffee. “Good morning, friends! Might I have some of the wondrous brew?”
“Pot’s right there,” Bruce said. “Try not to use up all the sugar this time.”
“But it tastes better with sugar!”
“Some sugar is okay. Just leave some for someone else.”
“Very well.” The Asgardian poured himself a steaming mug, added six spoons full of sugar, and tasted the result. “This is acceptable.” Then he went to the cabinet where he kept his Pop Tarts. “What is this? Who has eaten one of my pastry delights?”
Loki quickly shoved the remains of the Pop Tart into his mouth before he was caught red-handed. Nathan gave him a dirty look, but said nothing.
One by one, the others drifted in. Steve and Natasha gave Bruce questioning looks, as if asking how he was, and he smiled and nodded to show that he was all right. Clint came in, grabbed a cup of coffee, and immediately disappeared again, heading for the shooting range to get some practice time in. Tony didn’t make an appearance at all until nearly ten o’clock, and then he barely spoke to anyone until he’d had his first cup of coffee.
The girls slept even later, due to jet lag, but by eleven everyone was up, if not dressed, and the subject of the day’s plans came up.
“We’re wrapping presents,” Nathan said, briefly tearing himself away from something called Umizoomi. “Dad said so.”
“I thought we could use a quiet day in,” Bruce explained, “after yesterday’s excitement. We could split into teams, and make it a competition.”
“What, you mean, see who wraps the fastest, that kind of thing?” Tony was intrigued by the idea.
“I thought it might be interesting. Maybe three teams? How many people do we have?”
But the wrapping competition would not happen today. Suddenly, cell phones began ringing all over the room. All were receiving the same message: some sort of blue aliens were shooting up downtown, and the response team was needed.
“Looks like we’ll have to put the wrapping on hold,” Tony said. “I’ll meet everyone on the roof.”
“I’ll get the weapons,” said Clint.
“I’ll help you,” said Natasha.
“Anyone know where I put my costume?” Steve went in search of a laundry basket.
Bruce looked at his son sadly. “So much for our quiet day at home. We’ll do the wrapping when we get back, okay?”
“Can I come?” Nathan asked. “I can help.”
“Not this time, buddy. I need you to stay here and keep the ladies and Mr. Loki company. You can watch some movies if you want. Sound good?”
“Why can’t you stay here with us? They don’t need you, do they?”
“Yeah, they do. All of us means all of us. Besides, he needs to come out sometimes. He likes smashing stuff, and if it’s stuff that helps us, that makes me happy, too.”
“Don’t forget extra clothes.”
“Good point. I’ll go get them.”
“Don’t hurry back on my account,” said Loki from his place on the sofa. “Just because I’m under house arrest doesn’t mean you should care about me.”
“Can we not take him with us?” Thor asked.
“You’re kidding, right?” Tony looked at him as if questioning his sanity. “Bring the psychotic murdering supervillain along with us? No offense. Seriously, Fury will shit kittens! I know, I know, language, sorry. No. The guy under house arrest stays under house arrest. In the house!”
“And who will supervise him?”
“Um, hello?” Darcy waved at them. “Official agent of SHIELD here! Well, consultant, anyway. He’ll be fine! We’ll park him in front of Spongebob with a few beers and some pizza and he’ll be fine! And we’ll watch the cutie, too, only without the beer. He can have pizza, right?”
“We may be a while . . .” Bruce began, but she cut him off.
“We’ll be fine! One big happy family! Go on, go save New York! We’ll be here when you get back! Let’s all sing Christmas carols!”
“How much coffee have you had today?” Jane asked in amazement.
“Only four cups!”
“Oy.” This was going to be a fun day.
“I do not need a babysitter!” Loki proclaimed indignantly.
“Would you rather be locked in a cell?” Tony demanded. “Let’s go, people! And let’s try to break less of New York than we did last time, okay? I’m talking to you, big guy.” He put a hand on Bruce’s shoulder.
The man shrugged. “Like he listens to me. Oh, we need to do food shopping on our way home.” Like they were regular people, going to an office for a few hours.
“Bye, Dad,” Nathan called out, and then he went right back to watching his cartoons.

********

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Fa la la la la, la la la laaaaaa!”
“Would you please,” Loki moaned, “stop that horrid singing?”
“Aw, c’mon, sweet cheeks! Get in the Christmas spirit!” Darcy thrust into his hand a plastic ball with a metal hook on the end. “Hang this up on the garland there!” She pointed up to an impossibly green strand of fake foliage strung over the door.
He looked up at it. “Why?”
“Cause it’s festive! Lighten up, Darth Vader! Tis the season to be jolly!” she sang, and Nathan joined in. “Fa la la la la—“
“Enough!” The exclamation was enough to make even Jane, who was at the counter working on her laptop, take notice. “I have had enough of your singing and your garlands and your Christmas spirit! I wish only to be left in peace!” He stomped out of the room.
“Where are you going?” Jane asked him.
“To my room. Is that still allowed?” Rather than wait for an answer, he continued on his way out of the room, only to stop and turn back. “And my name is not Darth Vader!”
“Oh, stop being such a Grinch!” Darcy called out, but he was already gone.
“Should we go after him?” Nathan asked.
“He’s fine,” said Jane. “He’ll sulk for a while, and then come out again. Just let him be for now.”
“I still wish we had a tree, though,” Darcy mused. “We should get a tree.”
“We have to wait here till the others get back.”
“If they get back.”
At that, Nathan looked stricken. “Don’t say that! They’ll come back!”
“Okay, okay! I’m sorry! They’ll come back, okay? Now can you help me put the rest of these up?”
“Okay.” Nathan picked up the red plastic ornament that Loki had dropped, and hung it in the center of the green garland. “It looks lonely,” he said. “We need more.”
“We have more. I’ll get more. Now where did I find these ones?” Darcy wandered off to find more decorations, and Jane went back to work. Nathan looked around at what they’d already hung up, and wondered if he should move anything.
None of them gave another thought to Loki, until the others returned and found him missing.

“Let’s go over this one more time,” Tony said. The other Avengers were gathered around, their expressions ranging from amusement to annoyance to outright fury. “You just let him go off by himself?”
“He said he was going to his room!” Darcy nearly sobbed. “He wanted to be alone!”
“He’s not supposed to be alone! That’s the whole point of being under house arrest! None of you even checked on him?”
Jane sighed. “I thought you guys had some sort of tracking device on him. You do, don’t you?”
The Avengers looked at each other. They hadn’t thought of something as simple as a tracking device, mostly because they had expected someone to be with him at all times.
“There is no point in assigning blame,” Thor pointed out. “We waste valuable time that could be spent searching.”
“Good point,” said Steve. “He can’t have gone far. Let’s spread out and search—“
“Excuse me, sir,” the synthesized voice of JARVIS interrupted. “Mr. Loki is outside the building.”
“We know, JARVIS,” Tony said. “That’s the problem.”
“No, sir. He is standing on the sidewalk outside the building, at this moment.”
There was another of those awkward silences, when everyone looked at each other, not knowing what to do. Finally Darcy said, “I’ll go down and get him. It’s my fault he left in the first place. I should fix this.”
“I will go with her,” said Thor. The two of them headed for the elevator.
Now that the crisis was averted, Tony had time to look around and notice all the decorations. “Did Pepper come back early or something?”
“No, sir, she is still in her meeting,” said JARVIS.
“We did this,” said Nathan. “Well, it was Miss Darcy’s idea. She wanted a tree, too. Can we go get a tree?”
“We have a tree. Somewhere. I don’t know, I usually let Pepper handle the details.” He shrugged and went to pour himself a drink. “Anyone else hungry? I’m hungry. Let’s order out. Chinese okay?”
“Can we wrap now?” Nathan asked. “Please, Dad?”
“Not just yet, buddy,” Bruce said. “We just got in the door. Give us a few minutes to decompress, and we’ll be ready. Go watch your cartoons or something.”
Suddenly there was the ding of the elevator. Not the main elevator, off to the side. The big freight elevator, behind them. When the doors opened, the business end of a huge evergreen tree poked through.
“Make way!” Thor, who was carrying most of the tree, called out. “Make way for the Tree of Christmas!”
“He bought a tree,” Jane said with wonder in her voice. “That’s where he went.”
“Probably stole it,” said Tony. “Oh, well, have them send me the bill.”
“It’s stuck!” came Darcy’s voice from way back in the elevator.
“Push harder!” Loki urged her.
“Now there’s a comment that can be taken out of context,” Tony muttered. The others glared at him. “What?”
“Maybe we could help,” said Steve, “instead of just standing here making inappropriate comments.”
“That was not inappropriate! What they said, that might have been inappropriate, but—“
“Shut up and pull!” Steve had already grasped hold of one of the branches and was tugging on it in an effort to get the tree unstuck.
“All the needles will come off! I am not cleaning that up!” But Tony moved around to the other side and tried to find a place to grab on. He pulled, and the tree moved . . . about a quarter of an inch.
“It’s too big!” Darcy called out. “It won’t fit through!”
“Okay, now that is really inappropriate!”
“Shut up!”
“Excuse me, Miss Pigtails? Do you have any idea who you’re talking to? Well, don’t just stand there, you useless people!” he said, addressing the remaining three. Four, if you counted Nathan, who was standing back trying not to be in the way. “Maybe if we all pull together, we can get it out!”
“Now who’s being inappropriate?” Clint teased him.
“Very funny, Bird Man. Grab a branch and let’s get to it!”
In the end they all gathered around, trying to find parts of the tree to hold that wouldn’t cause it to shed all its needles. Nathan was at the back, by the elevator doors, because he was the strongest (although Thor still contested this) and needed the best leverage point.
“All right, everyone,” Steve gave the order. “On three. One . . . two . . . three!”
With everyone pulling at once, the tree finally came free, so suddenly that the two people in front, Natasha and Bruce, were sent hurtling across the room. She hit the long couch; he landed face-down on the floor.

********

“Why did you buy a tree? We have a tree!”
“Wasn’t my idea. Our guest,” he nodded toward Loki, who was helping Darcy out of the elevator, “took it upon himself to go and buy us a tree, and try to drag it back here on his own.”
“Why was he on his own?” Her eyes narrowed dangerously.
“’Good question!” he said, as if the thought had just occurred to him. “Why was he on his own?”
“Because . . .” Jane thought quickly. “We wanted to test the tracking device he has on him.”
“Tracking device?” Now Pepper was giving them her I-smell-bullshit glare.
“That’s right!” Tony said. “We, um, planted a tracking device on his—“
“Underwear,” Darcy offered helpfully. “What?” she said, when Loki gave her a strange look. “You agreed to it, remember?”
“You could have put it somewhere else,” he said, playing along. “It’s very uncomfortable.”
“We could always implant one under your skin,” said Bruce. “I’ve got another one ready to go right now.”
“Under my skin?”
“Only so you won’t lose it when you change your clothes,” Tony explained. “That’s why we put it in your underwear.”
“This is humiliating, you know.”
“Suck it up, Reindeer Games. It’s that or a cell. Or being handcuffed to your brother, which I doubt either one of you would enjoy.”
“Okay,” Pepper said quickly, trying to drag this conversation back on track (or at least out of Loki’s underwear). “So where do we put the tree?”




No, you're not lost. You're right where you belong.
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[*] posted on 7-23-2012 at 04:20 AM


*giggle-fest*
Kyran: *heavy sigh* oh not this again.

(Side note: If Loki feels a bit lonely and needs a bit of attention I'll be happy to have him over for an hour or two or ten >_> *evil grin*)
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[*] posted on 7-25-2012 at 07:03 AM


You're really going to like the chapter I'm working on now, then, when I post it. Lots of Loki-ness.
For now, here's the next chapter:

___________________________________

The tree was now decked out in the most eclectic arrangement of ornaments that Nathan had ever seen. There was a pulsing, multi-colored, LED star on top that changed colors every time it blinked. Some of the lights blinked, too.
“Wow,” he said. “That’s . . . pretty. The tree at school is just red and white. It’s taller, too.”
“A taller tree probably wouldn’t have fit in the elevator,” his father said. He was glad that they were here. It had been a long time since he’d had anything resembling a normal Christmas.
“Why did Mr. Loki go and buy a tree, anyway?”
“You’d have to ask him that. I’m surprised he’s not up yet. He’s usually one of the first ones.”
“He’s usually not trapped under a snoring thunder god," said Loki, entering the room. "Thor insisted that we sleep in the same bed last night."
At Bruce's shocked look, he explained, "Not like that! He refused to let me out of his sight again, after yesterday. We haven't shared a bed since we were children, and now I remember why. He steals the covers. And snores like a pig."
That made Nathan giggle. His father smiled, but Loki just sighed. "I want my own room. Chain me down if you must, but I refuse to spend another night with that bed-hogging, cover-stealing, chainsaw-snoring idiot!"
"I think you're being a bit hard on him," said Bruce. "He only wants what's best for you."
“It took me twenty minutes to crawl out from underneath him!”
“TMI, TMI!” Tony came into the room with his hands over his ears. “Whatever you two were up to last night, I don’t want to know about it!”
Loki sighed in frustration. “That big oaf,” he began, “insisted that we sleep in the same bed last night. He refuses to let me more than an arm’s length away from him. He is a heavy sleeper, and he . . . rolls around a lot.”
“So you weren’t—“
“No! We do not have that kind of relationship! Besides, he only has eyes for the mortal woman. Never mind that now. If I cannot have a room of my own, then at least put in another bed so that I won’t be in danger of being crushed as I sleep.”
“I have plenty of rooms. Fixing one up for you should be no problem. What are you gonna do for me, though?”
“I need to do something for you? Is that how it works?”
“Not usually, but if I’m gonna do something nice for you, you need to be nice to me in return. Your room will be ready by the end of the day. By then, I should know what I want you to do for me.”
“And I have to do this, whatever it is?”
“Yup.” An evil grin spread across Tony’s face at the thought of torturing the former god. Not literal torture, but something that would be just as bad. It might take him all day to think of it, but it would be a doozy.
“What if I say no?”
“Then you get another night of the bed-hogging snorer. That can’t be much fun.”
“You are blackmailing me.”
“Hey, my house, my rules. You don’t like them, leave . . . oh, wait, you can’t leave, can you? Sucks to be you.”
“Come on, Mr. Loki,” Nathan called out. “Spongebob is starting.”
There was a tense moment when Loki and Tony locked eyes, neither refusing to back down. Then, Loki broke away. “I’m coming,” he said, ignoring the smile of triumph on the billionaire’s lips.
“Good morning, friends!” Thor boomed.
“Heard you had quite a night last night,” said Tony.
“Really? I know nothing of . . .” Then his face took on a hard cast. “Whatever he has told you, it is a lie.”
“So you don’t snore and roll around and steal the covers?”
“I am a very deep sleeper! I do nothing of the kind!” He opened the cabinet and took out his box of Pop Tarts, only to find it mysteriously light. “This box was new two days ago! Who has been eating my Tarts of the Pop?”
“You sure it wasn’t you?” Tony asked him. “Cause you can really pack ‘em away. I mean, no offense . . . you burn a lot of calories working out. You need the food.”
“You have another box,” Loki called out.
“And how would you know that, brother?”
“I, um . . . saw them when I was looking for something else?”
“Uh oh,” Nathan said.
Thor strode angrily up to where Loki sat on the sofa. “Keep your hands off my breakfast!”
“Fine! I’m not sleeping with you anymore!”
Clint, who had been on his way into the kitchen, turned around and went right back out. He didn’t want any part of whatever this was.
“I only wanted to keep you safe!”
“By lying on top of me? Tell me, why is it that in a bed big enough to hold six people, you insist on occupying every inch of it at once? Including the bit that I was lying on?”
“I can’t help it if I move when I sleep!”
“Do I want to know what’s going on?” Natasha, who had come in to pour herself a cup of coffee, asked.
“I’ll explain later,” said Bruce. “Go and warn Steve before he walks in on this and jumps to the wrong conclusion.”
“I mean, not that it’s any of my business who grown . . . men . . . sleep with, but they could be a little more discreet about it.”
“It’s not what you think,” he said. “Come on. Nathan,” he called out, raising his voice to be heard over the TV volume (which Nathan had turned up to try and drown out the arguing), “I’ll be right back, okay?”
The boy either didn’t hear or didn’t respond. Bruce just shrugged and led Natasha out of the room.

********

They found Steve outside his rooms, down on the seventy-fifth floor. “Don’t go upstairs yet,” Bruce warned him. “Bit of an argument going on.”
“And by that you mean . . .”
“Stuff might get broken. Let’s just wait down here until we get the all clear. Give them a few minutes to sort it out.”
“Who? Who’s sorting what out?”
He might as well tell him. “Thor found out Loki’s been stealing his Pop Tarts.”
“Um . . .” Steve actually looked guilty. “I had one, last night. I meant to tell him, but . . . everything got so crazy, and . . .”
“You can tell him later. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen your part of the tower before. Any chance we can have a guided tour?”
“Not much to see, really.” The Super-Soldier shrugged.
“That’s not what I heard,” said Natasha. “Someone told me you’ve been collecting vintage recruitment posters and old war memorabilia. I’d love to see some of it.”
“Well . . . I suppose, since we’ve got the time.”
He led them into his “apartment.” The first room they came to was a sitting room, which looked like a lounge in a classy hotel. There weren’t many personal touches in here, and the room looked mostly unused. The Avengers spent most of their time together on the top level, when they were just hanging out.
There was a kitchen, but a very small one. When Natasha opened the fridge, all she found inside was a gallon of water and a takeout container. She closed it again and resisted the urge to look in the cabinets. No doubt they would be just as empty.
The bedroom was nice. It was about what she expected his bedroom to look like, and here his true personality resided. It was mostly done in brown and cream, and on the wall over the bed was a framed pencil sketch of a young man in uniform.
“Is that . . .” She groped for the name.
“Bucky? Yeah, that’s him. I did it just before he shipped out. I guess it was in with my things, so I had it framed.”
“I like it. Do you have any more?”
“I, um . . . I’ve been working on a few, in my spare time . . .”
“Do you mind if I see them? I promise I’ll be nice.”
“Well . . . all right.” He picked up a sketch pad on the bedside table and folded back the cover.
The top picture was of her.
When had he done this? Had he drawn it from memory, alone here in his room, or had he sat there with a drawing pad in his lap while they were watching TV or something, surreptitiously putting her image down on the paper, line by line?
“This is beautiful,” she said. “Are you going to finish it?”
Steve looked a bit embarrassed. “Um, I . . . I think so. I was working on a group picture, like an official portrait, but I can’t get it right. Something about the eyes . . .”
“I think the eyes look fine.”
“No, I mean—here, take a look.” He flipped pages to about the middle of the pad. There were six mini-portraits, seemingly unconnected, and below the faces, only sketchy lines representing bodies. “See, it’s not finished yet. I just can’t get it right.”
“Maybe if you had a photograph to work from?” she suggested.
“If everyone would sit still long enough to take one, that might work. I’ll see if I can find a camera with a timer.”
“There’s a camera in your cell phone, you know.”
He looked at her quizzically.
“The phone that Fury gave you? It has a camera built in. I can show you how to use it. It’s actually pretty easy. The picture quality isn’t always that great, but as a point of reference, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Meanwhile, Bruce was across the room, examining Steve’s bookshelves. It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a person by the books they read. Most of Steve’s books were historical in nature, catching him up on the seventy years he spent in the ice, but there were a few recent bestsellers mixed in, along with some dump-bin paperbacks and . . . Stranger in a Strange Land. Bruce slid the hardcover off the shelf and looked at it, remembering how he had read his own copy in junior high, until his dad found it and chucked it out the window.
There was a torn bit of paper between pages 78 and 79. So he’d started the book, but hadn’t had time to read much of it. As if any of them had the time to sit and read these days. He put the book back on the shelf and went to join Steve and Tasha in the next room, which had been designed as a second bedroom but now housed Steve’s collection.
It was impressive.
“Where did you get all these?” Natasha was asking Steve.
“Some of them,” he said, “I found in antique shops, but most of them, believe it or not, were things that people sent to me, after that magazine interview came out. I happened to mention that I collect things like this, and the next day, the packages started arriving. It’s almost kind of scary.”
“I think it’s sweet. No one ever sends me anything.”
“This one’s special,” he said, pointing to a framed photograph of a company of soldiers, sitting around at ease in front of a flagpole. “That’s the 135th. This guy here—“ he pointed to a laughing soldier in the front row—“he’s the only one who’s still alive. He’s in a nursing home in Akron, Ohio. I stopped in to see him when we were on our grand tour.”
“I wondered where you’d gone.”
Bruce cleared his throat. “I think it’s probably safe to go back upstairs now.”
“How can you tell?” Steve asked.
“The building’s still standing.”
“You two go up. I’ve got to make a phone call.”
Natasha looked at him quizzically, but didn’t ask. If he’d wanted them to know who it was he was calling, he would have said. She and Bruce headed for the elevator, leaving the Super-Soldier alone in his room of memories.
Let’s see . . . it was quarter past eight now, which meant it was one-fifteen PM in London. She might be out, in which case he would call back in a few hours, or she might be puttering around the place. In any event, he had to try.
He dialed the number on the black landline telephone in the center of the room (which most people were surprised to learn still worked), and waited to see if she would answer. When it rang five times, he began to get nervous.
Then her voice, still the same after all these years, was in his ear. “Hello?”
“Merry Christmas.”
“Oh! It’s you!”
“I couldn’t let this day go by without talking to you. Did you get the package I sent you?”
“Yes, it’s lovely, thank you. Did you get mine?”
“I sure did. Listen, I . . . I’ve been thinking—“
“Yes?”
“I know you said you didn’t want me to come see you, but—“
“Oh, no,” she said, “don’t trouble yourself. You’re so busy these days, I hate to be a bother.”
“You’re no bother. Besides, I still owe you a dance.”
“I haven’t been dancing in years.”
“Let me come visit, anyway. Maybe in the spring.”
“I don’t even know if I’ll still be here in the spring.”
“All the more reason to come as soon as possible. I’ll take some vacation time. I’ve got seventy years of back benefits coming to me.”
She laughed a little at that. “We’ll talk more in the new year. It was wonderful to hear your voice.”
“Same here. I’ll call you next week.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
Yes, you will, won’t you? Steve thought, as he hung up. The same way you’ve been waiting for me all these years. You were one of the few who never gave up on me.

********

When they got back upstairs, Natasha and Bruce were pleasantly surprised to find Loki and Thor sitting on opposite ends of the sofa, Nathan between them. They were, all three, munching Pop Tarts and watching Spongebob.
"Situation contained, I guess." Natasha sat down on the shorter of the two sofas, inviting Bruce to join her. He sat about an arm's length away from her.
"Tree looks good," she remarked.
"Do you know how long it's been since I've seen a real Christmas tree?"
She shook her head.
"Probably five years. At least. I never felt right having one, anyway. I'm part Jewish."
"Really?" That hadn't come up in his file.
"On my mother's side. You know my Uncle Nathan, that you're named after?" he shot in his son's direction. Nathan looked away from the show briefly, and nodded. "He was my mother's uncle, really. He was a concentration camp survivor."
"Wow." Clint, who had drifted back in as soon as the coast was clear, took a seat in the armchair. "Which camp, do you know?"
"I'm not sure. I tried looking it up a few years ago, but I couldn't find him. I remember once when I was about four, and it was a warm day--it might have been the Fourth of July, but I'm not sure--and he rolled his sleeves up, and I asked him what those numbers were for."
Steve came in, nodded to the others, and found a chair.
"What did he say?" Natasha asked.
"He said, 'They are here to remind me, and all of us, that there is evil in the world. But we survive.' I've always remembered that. We survive."
"Sound like he was quite a guy," said Steve.
"He was. He died when I was in high school. You know he spoke three languages? He did some translating at the Jewish Community Center. Helping recent immigrants, and such. Because it's not enough just to survive; making the world a better place is what it's really all about."
"Well, that's what we're doing." Tony sat on the floor in front of the coffee table. "Isn't it?" He stretched lazily and leaned back, propping himself up on his elbows. "What shall we do today, little family of mine? Last-minute shopping? Caroling?"
"Who is Carol?" asked Thor.
"Christmas carols," Natasha explained, "are songs that we sing at this time of year, to celebrate the season. Sometimes people go from house to house, singing. It dates back to the Victorian tradition, I believe."
Loki started to say something, but his brother gave him a look. "I think not. Perhaps we could have a fire? That is our tradition."
"Yeah, sure," Tony said. He'd had the fireplace put in for just such a reason. "What else can we do?"
Darcy and Jane came in and sat on the floor in front of the long couch, Jane at Thor's feet, and Darcy in front of Loki. She twisted around and looked up at him.
"I never got to thank you for the tree."
"You're welcome." He tucked his legs under him to make room for her.
“Looks like I’ve got a few more presents to buy. Wanna come shopping with me?”
Thor and Jane looked at them in surprise.
“Are you sure that is wise? After yesterday’s . . . adventure?”
“You can come, if you want. Like a double date. Well, sort of. Anyway, he’s got his transmitter now so we won’t lose him, and I just need a couple of things anyway. We won’t be out for too long. So what do you say?”
The two of them looked at each other. “I . . . guess,” Jane said, knowing that there was no way she could talk Darcy out of this crazy idea now. “Where were you planning on going?”
“It’s a surprise! So can we go or what?”
Jane looked up at Thor, who was scowling. “I do not like this idea of yours, Lady Darcy. We could get lost too easily.”
“I know exactly where we’re going! Don’t worry about a thing, sweet cheeks! Go get dressed and I’ll meet you down in the lobby!” She jumped up and headed for her suite of rooms.
“Sweet cheeks?” Thor stared after her, wondering what the term meant.
“I suppose I have to go along on this shopping trip,” Loki sighed. “Please tell me we’re walking.”
“I’ll drive,” said Jane, getting up to go and get dressed herself.
“A word, please, my love.” Thor caught up with her in the hall and walked with her back to her room. Loki could hear their voices, but not the actual words.
Great. They were going by car, which meant that his stolen Pop Tarts would soon be decorating the side of the road somewhere. Too bad none of the doors on this floor locked from the inside.
“Dad.” Nathan had noticed the god’s plight, and was looking up at his father as if to remind him of something. “You were gonna give him something?”
“Oh, that’s right! Wait here, I’ll be right back.” He left the room, heading for the elevator.
“I wanna go ice skating,” Nathan said. “I went once last year with Riley and Sasha, and I fell a lot but it didn’t hurt that much. And I’ll do better this year. Can we go skating? Can we?”
“Well, I don’t know,” Tony drawled. “We can’t go to Rockefeller Center, can we? Too many people. Too bad we don’t know someone who owns a private ice rink . . . oh, wait a minute, we do. Me.”
Nathan’s brown eyes went wide. “You own an ice-skating rink?”
“It’s a couple of miles from here. I rent it out to the local high school and college hockey teams for their practice time, but I don’t think there’s any practices today. It’s all ours. Snack bar included.”
“Wow! Wait, do they have skates to fit me?”
“What size do you take?”
“Fourteen. They had one at the place Riley and Sasha and I went to, but they said it’s a hard size to find, and not every place has it.”
“I’ll just have to call them, then, and make sure they have men’s skates in a size fourteen. We’ll make it a family day—wait till they’re back from their shopping trip. That okay with you?”
That was more than okay with Nathan. He let out a whoop of joy that could be heard as far away as the sixty-ninth floor.

“Here we go.” When Bruce came back, he had a prescription bottle in his hand. “I meant to give you this the other day, but . . . stuff happened.”
“Yes,” said Loki. “I’ve noticed that ‘stuff’ seems to happen a lot around here.” He had gotten dressed in the meantime, in a green plaid shirt he had stolen from Thor, and dark-wash jeans. “What is it?”
“Something just a bit stronger than Dramamine. Try it and see if it works. I do have one grade higher if you need it. That’s real heavy-duty stuff, though, and I don’t want to have to put you on it if I don’t have to.”
Loki took the bottle, peering at the label as if he could understand any of the medical gibberish. “Thank you for your concern, Doctor.”
“No problem. I grew up with the same thing, only my dad had no patience for my condition. Every time he had to stop, he’d yell, ‘Jesus Christ, not again! Why do I have such a . . .’” He broke off suddenly, as he realized that Nathan was listening intently. “Well, he didn’t like it. He was ashamed of me for being so weak. At least everyone here’s been cool about it.”
“They have, haven’t they?” Loki nodded and pocketed the medication.
“You might want to take one of those now. They take a little while to start working.”
“If you say so.” He swallowed one of the pills with the remainder of his glass of juice. “Ugh. Tastes like chalk.”
"It's medicine," said Nathan. "It's not supposed to taste good."
"I hope it works." Loki looked down at himself, closed his eyes . . . and nothing happened. "I hate being powerless."
"What were you trying to do?" Bruce asked him.
"Change my clothes. I've decided that this doesn't suit me."
"Yeah, you're not really the outdoorsy type," said Tony. "I have just the thing for you." He disappeared briefly and came back with a folded pile of green cloth. "Try this. I think it's your size."
Loki eyed the garment warily. "You are . . . giving me a shirt?"
"Merry Christmas. I do nice things once in a while. Besides, it's not my style. Go on, try it."
"Very well." The god removed the plaid shirt, tossed it aside, and pulled the new shirt over his head. When he tugged it into place, the others started laughing.
"What? What is it? I don't--" Then he got a good look at himself. The shirt had the words "I (heart)" above a huge picture of the Hulk .
"Very funny, Stark!"
“I thought so.”
“I should have known you were up to something!” He yanked the offensive shirt off, and put the plaid one on again. “This will have to do, for now.” And then he stomped off.
“Hey!” Tony called after him. “While you’re out, why don’t you buy yourself a sense of humor?”




No, you're not lost. You're right where you belong.
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[*] posted on 7-25-2012 at 08:31 PM


Aw! *huggles Bruce...and Loki, and Nathan, and Tony just for the heck of it* Ah, Stark, you never fail to piss off gods XD And your Steve is so cute with the memorabilia and calling Peggy (I assume), it's like he's a puppy in human form ^_^
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[*] posted on 7-26-2012 at 03:00 PM


Shopping for clothes (and other things), part one:

__________________________________

“Can we go home now?” Loki grumbled.
Darcy looked at him. “But we just got here! We haven’t even looked at anything yet!”
“I do not wish to look at anything. Especially not in this part of the store!”
“Aw, I think you’d look nice in this!” She plopped a bright green headband on his head, and he glared at her.
“I think not.”
“Come on, we need to get you some new clothes. Cause the plaid? So not you.” She grabbed him by the hand and all but dragged him along to the trendy department store further down the mall.
Loki looked at Thor, who seemed to be enjoying this. “Brother, help me!”
“But you do need suitable attire. How long were you planning on borrowing my clothes?”
“You knew about that?”
“I don’t mind. All you had to do was ask. But Darcy is right: plaid does not suit you. Let us find something that does.”
"I really have no need of--" Loki protested, but they wouldn't hear of it. Darcy grabbed shirts off the racks, some in green, some dark blue or black.
"What size are you, honey?" she asked him.
"Size?" He didn't understand. He'd always had his attire custom-made; this nonsense of size confused and annoyed him.
"About a medium, would you say?" she asked Jane.
"Hmmm. Maybe a large, just to be safe."
"Good point." She checked the sizes on what she'd picked out already, put the mediums back, and grabbed another two or three in the larger size. "What about pants?"
"I have no idea. You're on your own there. We'll be in Electronics when you're ready." She and Thor walked away, and Loki wanted to call out to them to stay and not leave him at the mercy of this demented female. Who was now . . . was she patting his behind?
"Stop that!" he ordered her.
"I'd say about a thirty-four?" She took a pair of black slacks off the rack.
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Just go try these on. You have jeans and stuff, but you need nice clothes. In case we go out somewhere. Dress shirts, dress shirts . . . ah! Here we go. What are you, sixteen? Seventeen?"
"I don't--"
And then she put her hands around his neck, as if throttling him! "Yeah, about a sixteen. Try these, too." She thrust a packaged shirt in white and another in light blue into his arms, on top of all the other things she insisted he try on. "We'll worry about ties after I see you in these. Fitting room's over there." She pointed helpfully. "I'll be right there. I want to see everything on you."
"At once? Won't that be a little . . . warm?"
She laughed at that. She had a warm, genuine laugh that, on spite of himself, he enjoyed hearing. "No! One shirt at a time! I'll be there in a minute. Go on!" She actually gave him a push toward what she had called a fitting room, and he nearly stumbled but caught himself in time.
The older woman sitting behind a sort of desk came around to meet him. "How many, dear?"
"I have no idea. She just handed me all this and told me to go try it on."
"Well, let me see. I'll help you count them." She hung them on a hook beside her desk, and counted each piece. "Nine. Here you go," she said, handing him a plastic card with the number 9 on it.
"What do I do with this?" He stared down at it as if the secrets of the universe were contained in its bright yellow plastic surface.
"Just hold onto it for now," the woman said. "You can give it to me when you come out."
"Out?"
She chuckled. "You don't go shopping much, do you?"
"No, I can't say that I do."
"Right in here." She opened the door to a little room the size of a closet. "Your wife can wait for you out here."
"Wife?"
"Girlfriend?"
"She is my. . ." What was the Darcy creature to him? An annoyance, mostly. "It's complicated."
"Well, whatever," the woman said. "I'll let her know where you are when she gets here." Then she closed the door and left him alone in that tiny room. Not that he was afraid of small spaces. Never. My, it was warm in here, wasn't it? Maybe he should leave the door open a bit, just for some air . . .
Just as he was about to slide the door open a crack, there was a horrendous banging. "Are you in there?"
He jumped back a bit. "Yes, I am!"
"Did you try anything on yet?"
"I was about to."
"Try on the pants first, with, um, the blue dress shirt. Then come out, so I can see you."
"Why do you need to see it?"
"I don't hear you getting changed!" she called, as if his jeans and shirt would make a lot of noise when they hit the floor.
"Do you want to come in here?"
"What? No! I can't come in while you're getting dressed!"
"Why not?" he asked, though he knew perfectly well why not.
"I just can't, okay? Now put those on and come out here!"
"Fine." He began by removing his own clothes, or at least the clothes he was currently wearing. Why did Thor even own a shirt in this shade of green? It was not his color at all. Perhaps the mortal woman had given it to him. He cast it aside and unzipped the jeans, which he had stolen from Tony Stark's extensive wardrobe. Now there was someone with style. These, he would keep. He folded them neatly and set them aside for the moment.
He had a bit of trouble opening the package that the dress shirt came in. Trying to be careful got him nowhere; he finally just ripped it open, scattering pins and plastic attachers everywhere. Oh, well, it would give the woman at the desk something to do after he was gone.
When he had the shirt all buttoned, he slipped the black dress slacks up over his hips. They were a bit snug, but not uncomfortable. He was able to zip and button them easily.
"Are you done yet?"
"One minute!" he called out.
"Hurry up, I want to see how they look!"
"They look fine," he said.
"Let me see! Come on out of there!"
"All right!" He opened the door and stepped out, certain that a crowd had gathered, drawn by Darcy's caterwauling.
There was no crowd. Even the woman behind the desk was off to the side, straightening racks. Just Darcy, standing there with her arms crossed.
"Well?" he said. "Do I pass inspection?"
"You look great," she said, smiling. "How do they feel?"
"Is the collar supposed to be this tight?"
""Is it too tight? I can go back and get you the seventeen, if you want."
"That would be agreeable."
"What about the pants? Do the pants fit okay?"
"They're fine."
"Okay. Give me the two dress shirts, and I'll take them back and get you a seventeen. Try one of the other shirts on with those pants. I'll be right back."
"Whatever you say." He took off the blue shirt, put it together with all the packaging, and handed it through the door along with the other, unopened, shirt. He couldn't help noticing that when he passed them to Darcy, she tried to get a look at him shirtless. Not happening, as they said here. He withdrew into the little room again and shut the door.
He looked at the shirts she had chosen for him. Of the six of them, he liked the dark blue one the best. It had a collar and three buttons down the front, and looked like something that could be worn for a casual afternoon, or an evening out. He removed it from the hanger and slipped it over his head. Unlike the dress shirt, this one didn't need to be tucked in.
There was a knock. "Come on out and let me see."
“Why do you have to see? Do you have no faith in my ability to choose my own clothes? Can I not decide for myself if something looks good on me?”
“Just get out here already!”
Clearly she wasn’t going away until she saw him in his new clothes. He opened the door slowly and stepped out just far enough for her to see him.
“Come here! Let me see!”
“You can see me from there, can’t you?”
“Oh, you’re impossible to shop with!” She went up to him and took a good look at him. “Turn around.”
“Why?”
“I want to see how the pants fit.”
“They fit fine.”
“I need to see.” And she reached out and yanked on the waistband.
This was too much. Who did she think she was? She had no right to be manhandling him this way! “Kindly take your hands off me!” he snapped.
“I wasn’t touching you!”
“You were too close for comfort! Back away!”
She took one step back and crossed her arms. “I don’t know who you think you are, pal, but you might want to be nicer to someone who’s buying you stuff. A thank you might be nice.”
“Who said you were buying these?”
“Do you have any money?”
“Well . . . no.” This was not entirely true; he had five dollars that he had stolen from an otherwise empty cup sitting on the sidewalk with no apparent owner. It wasn’t his fault that the homeless man who had put the cup out had wandered away from it. By the time the man noticed that the money was missing, Loki had been too far away to stop and bring it back. It was his by default.
But five dollars would not buy this amount of clothing, not even one shirt. And until he found a way to get some money of his own, he was dependent upon others for his very survival.
“You went and bought a Christmas tree, just because I said I wanted one,” she said, her voice softer. “I figured I owed you.”
“I didn’t pay for the tree.”
“Doesn’t matter. It’s the thought that counts. I like that shirt. And the pants look fabulous on you.”
“Fabulous?” She thought he looked fabulous?
“Here’s the dress shirts. Go try them on, and the other shirts. I want to see them all.”
“You do know this place closes at six.”
“It won’t take that long. Go on.”
She really thought he looked fabulous? No one had ever told him he looked fabulous before. “All right,” he said, and went back into the little room.




No, you're not lost. You're right where you belong.
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[*] posted on 7-27-2012 at 07:47 PM


D'aw, Loki *huggles him* The bit with the $5 reminds me of Jack Sparrow when he first "sails" into Port Royal and steals the guy's purse *snicker*

I wish I had a shopping buddy like Darcy XD It took me half a day to find jeans that fit after my last pair wore out
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[*] posted on 7-28-2012 at 08:56 AM


I love that you're loving this! Next up: shopping trip, part 2

_______________________________

Loki was on his way to the front of the store, purchases in his hands, when he saw it.
Oh, no, no, no . . .
He found a store employee a few aisles over and called out to her, "I need you, please!"
"Certainly, sir." She followed him back to the spot. "What's the problem?"
"Don't you see it?"
"See what?"
"The mirrors! You can't have two mirrors facing each other! That's very dangerous!"
"I'm sorry, I don't understand."
"Do you know what happens to someone caught between two mirrors?" He was trying to look at them without looking into them, which could be done by someone who knew how.
"No. What?"
"What's going on?" The others had come to see what was holding him up. "Are you coming or what?" Darcy asked.
"Who put these mirrors here?" Thor demanded.
"I'm sorry," said the store clerk. "I don't understand what the problem is."
"Never, ever put two mirrors directly facing each other! A person caught between them will lose his soul! It is very, very dark magic. Everyone knows that."
"Well, um . . . thank you. I'll bring that up to management right away."
“Thank you.” Loki smiled what he considered his most ingratiating smile, not knowing that it further convinced the poor store employee that he was completely unhinged. “Let’s go.”
“I still haven’t shown you my surprise yet!” Darcy cried out. “It’ll be our last stop, I promise. I don’t want to miss the skating.”
“What is this surprise?” Jane asked. “How far is it?”
“I’ll show you. Oh, you’ll love this! Come on, hon,” she said to Loki, “bring your stuff. We’ll pay, and then we’ll go see the surprise, okay?”
“I . . . guess.” He had no idea what was going on, but she seemed to want his company, so he went with her to the counter to pay. He had narrowed it down to the black slacks, blue dress shirt, and the dark blue and dark green casual shirts. That was enough of a wardrobe to last for a while.
They paid, they left, they got in the car, and they drove to a place a few blocks away.
“I got an e-mail about this,” Darcy said. “This is the premiere outfitter for role playing and Renaissance Fairs and stuff. But what I want to show you is in the weapons section.”
“They have weapons here?” Thor asked.
“Yeah. Real ones. Swords and bows and daggers and things like that. That’s not what I want to show you. It’s back here.”
She led them to the back of the shop, a journey of several minutes due to the sheer size of the place. Loki couldn’t stop looking at all the fine clothing around him. Now this was style! He had no idea there was a place like this in all of Midgard. More than anything, he wished for some money of his own, so that he could come back to this place and have a proper look around.
“There it is!” Darcy pointed up to a wall of armaments. It was easy to see what she meant. But just in case they weren’t sure, she added, “It’s Meow-meow!”
Thor smiled at her mispronunciation of his weapon’s name. “Yes, it is. A fine replica, indeed.”
“That’s our most popular piece,” said a voice behind them. “They send us four a week, and we still can’t keep up with the demand.”
They turned to see a woman, presumably a store employee, costumed in a flowing gown and headpiece, pointing up to the hammer mounted halfway up the wall.
“It’s . . . magnificent,” Thor told her.
She was peering at him curiously. “You know, you look just like him.”
“I have been told that before,” he said, with a smile.
“If you want it, I can give you a discount.”
“I have one, thank you. You have many lovely things here.”
“Do you role-play a lot?”
“I suppose so.”
“We have some costumes over here that would look wonderful on you, if you’re interested—“
“Thank you, but we don’t have the time today. Perhaps another time.”
“I look forward to your business.”
Meanwhile, Loki was examining a row of small bottles labeled “Potion Ingredients,” though he suspected they were empty and just for show. At least the things in this shop were familiar to him, though he knew they were just replicas of the things he knew. He spotted a twin of his own helmet and approached to examine it more closely.
“That’s on special right now,” the woman told him. “Half price.”
He glared at her. “Why?”
“No one wants it. But someone has to be the villain.”
“No one wants this? But . . .” He couldn’t say more without giving himself away. “Never mind.”
“Yeah, I didn’t think you’d want it either. You’re more the hero type, I think.”
He turned back to her. “Hero?”
“Yes. You have the build for it. What sort of character are you, in your role play?”
“Um . . .” He didn’t quite know how to answer that. “A mage. A powerful one.”
“How are you set for spell books?”
“I . . . lost all of mine.” Were there really such things here?
“Let me show you what we’ve got.”
“Oh, no, not today. I . . . don’t wish to trouble you.”
“It’s no trouble! Come with me.” She led him to the section of the shop which had magical supplies and books, and it was extensive. Even though Loki knew these were not real, he was impressed.
“How much?” he asked.
“Prices are marked on them. I know they’re kind of expensive, but unlike the Internet, you can see it here before you buy it. And we have a thirty-day money back guarantee. If they’re not what you’re looking for, you can bring them back, no questions asked.”
“Oh.” That was helpful. “Thank you.” He doubted very much that any of the spells in these books worked, but if he had them around him, he might feel more at home in his new room, the room of his own that Stark had assured him would be ready for him this evening. “I’ll take these two.”
“Excellent. I’ll ring you up over here.”
Now was the moment of truth, when he should tell her that he didn’t have any money and couldn’t pay for these. But the words wouldn’t leave his lips. Why was it so hard for him to tell the truth?
“Excuse me just a moment,” he said, trying not to look overly embarrassed. He left the counter and went to find Thor.
“I need you,” he said.
“Need me? What for?”
“To, um, to pay for something.”
“Something you need?”
“Well . . . yes. I need some new spell books, to replace the ones I . . . left behind.”
“I see. We have moved recently,” Thor explained to the woman behind the counter. “We were not able to bring everything with us.”
“Oh, really? Where did you move here from?”
“England,” Loki said.
“I have family in England! Whereabouts?”
“Brother, go and wait in the car,” Thor told him.
“What? Why can’t I stay here?”
“Escort the ladies back to the car and wait for me there. It is essential to the surprise.”
“Oh, the surprise.” What surprise was this? He wanted to ask, but Thor gave him a look as if to suggest that he wasn’t moving or saying another word until Loki was outside. Reluctantly, he turned away, found the ladies admiring a dress in another part of the store, and relayed his instructions.
“Wait in the car?” Darcy looked dismayed. “But there’s so much to look at here!”
“We can come back another time. I saw several things I want to see as well, but it will have to wait.”
They left the store and went out to where Jane had parked the borrowed SUV. The two women were in the front, and Loki took the seat behind the driver’s seat, rolling the window down and leaning out to breathe in some fresh air before they started rolling.
Presently Thor came out, carrying a bag that was much too large for two books. He opened the right rear door, slid in, and handed the bag to his brother. “Your surprise.”
Confused, Loki opened the bag. Inside, he found . . . the imitation Mjolnir that they had been admiring earlier.
“You bought this . . . for me?”
“I know you have always wanted it, even when we were children. And now you have your own.”
He wanted to say something cutting, something about how he didn’t need his brother’s pity, but he couldn’t. And he was not crying. No, definitely not. The tears in his eyes were caused by the cold wind stinging his face. That was all. Not any sort of emotion at all, because he had stopped feeling anything long ago.
“Thank you,” he said, his voice barely more than a whisper.
“Think nothing of it, brother! We shall have to see about getting you an account of your own. I will speak to Director Fury, when we return home.”
“He will never allow it.”
“Then I will find some other way. You must have some money of your own. Prove you are responsible in this matter, and we will trust you in other things.”
“I have to prove my worth, like a child?”
“Would you rather be in a cell? At least we allow you some small amount of freedom, brother. Do not abuse it.”
“Why are you doing this?”
Thor looked at him in surprise. “Do you wish me not to do this?”
“Why is everyone being so nice to me? I have done nothing to deserve such . . . solicitousness.”
“Are you saying you don’t want us to be nice to you?” Darcy asked.
“No, I . . . I don’t know. I feel like you expect something from me.”
“Sometimes people do nice things just for the sake of being nice,” said Jane, never taking her eyes off the road. “You just have to accept it and not look for an ulterior motive.”
“No one does something for nothing. What do you want from me?”
“Well, seeing you with your shirt off did it for me,” Darcy said. “I thought you’d be all pasty and scrawny and stuff, but damn! You’ve got a pretty impressive set of pecs on you, bud!”
“Pecs?” He had no idea what she was talking about.
“Pecs? Pectoral muscles? Your chest muscles. Do you work out?”
Loki thought of his twice-weekly sparring sessions with Thor. He had always thought of them as being for his brother’s benefit, but now he could see that he had been training right along with Thor. He just didn’t rely on his . . . what had she called them? Pecs? He had never relied on them to get him out of trouble.
“You are stronger than you think you are,” Thor told him.
“What makes you say that?”
“For one thing, the fact that this vehicle has been in motion for several minutes, and yet you show no sign of discomfort or illness.”
“What?” Yes, they were moving. He knew that, but . . . come to think of it, his stomach felt perfectly fine. Not a twinge of nausea bothered him.
He reached into his jacket pocket and took out the small bottle of pills Dr. Banner had given him. So they weren’t poison after all. Or as useless as the previous medicine. This had actually done him some good.
“Huh,” he said. He tried to remember if he’d felt sick at all on the ride down. Maybe a little, but it had passed once he was out of the car and in the fresh air. And now he was fine. Impressive stuff, this.
He didn’t like being in debt to people. But this made three who had done him a favor, and he couldn’t help but wonder when they would expect that favor to be repaid. And what they would ask of him.




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[*] posted on 7-29-2012 at 01:24 AM


*melts into a muddle of Loki-worship* I will buy your helmet, sweet prince >_>
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[*] posted on 7-31-2012 at 06:27 AM


Skating, part one:

_____________________________________

The ice rink was a few miles away, by car. They took the same two vehicles they had taken to the mall. Nathan was so excited he was practically bouncing in his seat, but Loki felt not a single flutter in his stomach. These pills were really something. He had to remember to thank the doctor for his assistance.
It seemed like only minutes before they pulled into the parking lot outside a long, low building that gave absolutely no clue from the outside as to what could be expected within. It could have been a warehouse, an office suite, or even a low-scale shopping mall. It wasn’t until they got through the door that Loki saw what they had come for.
It was a massive sheet of ice, as big as a city block, enclosed by a wall about five feet high, with a plexiglass barrier above it adding another two feet. There were lines and markings on the ice, but he had no idea what they meant.
Ice. Okay. He could manage ice.
“Skates are over here,” Stark told them, indicating a sort of supply closet full of . . . at first glance, Loki wasn’t sure what they were supposed to be. Boots with metal on the bottom?
“Okay, find your size here. They should be lined up in order. The manager told me that he pulled out some of the sizes I asked for—and yes, they do have a size fourteen, Nate—but if you don’t know your size, just try them on till one fits. Leave them on the counter here to be cleaned when you’re done.”
With that, the group swarmed over the . . . skates? . . . and chose the appropriate size. Loki just stood there, not knowing what to do.
“What’s the matter?” Darcy asked him.
“I don’t know my size.”
“Well, they’re the same as shoe sizes. What size are those shoes you’re wearing?”
“These aren’t mine. I just borrowed them. I lost the other ones I had.”
“Damn. Shoulda got you shoes, too, but I didn’t think of it. Take one off and let me see.”
“Take it off?”
“Come over here.” She led him to a wooden bench on the side and began undoing his shoelaces. “It should be inside somewhere. Let me see.” She closed her hands around the shoe and pulled.
“Ow! Why are you trying to pull my foot off?”
“I’m not! This is tied really tight! We’ll have to loosen it to get it off.”
“Loosen them how?” He didn’t want to admit that the reason he’d tied them so tight was so that they wouldn’t fall off.
“Let me see it. I can do this.” She pulled up on the laces to loosen them, inadvertently tightening them in the process.
“OW! What are you doing, woman? That hurts!”
“Hold still!”
“I’m trying! I do need both my feet, you know!”
“Hang on, I think I got it!” With one mighty yank, she pulled the shoe free, sending her stumbling back a couple of steps. Loki bent and flexed his foot a few times to make sure it still worked.
“Okay, can you see a size in here? Cause I can’t.”
“Give it to me.”
“Don’t order me around! I’m trying to help you here!”
“By taking my foot off?”
“What is going on here?” Just what he needed, the overprotective older brother butting in. Thor had his own skates on already and was wobbling a little as he stood there.
“I was just trying to get a look at the size!”
“By taking off the shoe with my foot still in it!” Loki protested.
“Be silent, both of you!” Thor took a look at the shoe in question. “Is this not one of mine?”
“I borrowed it because I couldn’t find mine.”
“Since when do my shoes fit you?”
“Since he tied them so tight it was cutting off his circulation,” said Darcy.
“I wondered to what realm these had disappeared.”
“You want them back? Now?”
“No, not now. As soon as you have some of your own. Ones that fit properly. I would not make you walk barefoot in this weather.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Loki said, with the hint of a smile. “As I recall, I once decided to go and play in the snow while completely naked.”
“WHOA, WHOA!” Darcy backed away, waving her hands before her as if warding off something dangerous. “TMI, TMI!”
“He was two,” Thor explained, and now he was smiling.
“Oh, well, that’s different, then.”
“How is it different?” Loki asked.
“A naked two-year-old is cute. A naked grown you . . . that’s something else.”
“Why? Am I not the same person at any age?”
“It’s just—could we not get into this right now? Let’s find you some skates that fit you.” She looked inside the shoe for the size. “Okay, these are thirteens—wow, Thor, you have big feet—so we should try an eleven or a twelve on you. Come with me.”
And Loki was swept along in her wake, helpless to resist. Not that he was sure he would have, if he wanted to. There was something about this female that made him want to follow her, just to see where she would lead him. She grabbed a pair of skates off the shelf and tried them on him. They were too big.
“We’ll try the elevens, then,” she said, putting the others on the counter. “Tell me if this hurts.” She slipped one of them on his right foot and laced it up.
“That’s a bit tight, isn’t it?”
“It’s supposed to be tight. Not too tight, but tight enough so that they support your ankles. You don’t want to be wobbling all over the place out there.”
“Yes, about that . . .”
“Don’t worry, it’s easy! I’ll help you. It’s all about balance. Let’s get the other one on, and then I’ll show you.” She laced the other skate onto his left foot, and then helped him to stand.
“How does one balance on these tiny bits of metal?” he asked.
“Very carefully. Wait till we get on the ice, it’ll be better. Give me a minute to put mine on.” She went and got a pair of skates for herself. Hers were white instead of black, and much smaller than his. “I used to love skating. Wanted to be a professional figure skater, but it ended up being too much work. So I gave up. But I still like skating. You ready?” Somehow she had completely laced up both her skates while she was talking.
“Do I have to?”
“Everyone else is already out there,” she said, gesturing. Indeed, the other Avengers were already gliding across the ice like they were flying. Even Nathan was managing to stay up on his skates. “I should probably warn you: you fall on your butt a lot when you’re just learning. And that ice is hard. So don’t hit your head, okay?”
“I’ll try not to.” The only consolation was the knowledge that Thor had almost certainly never done this either, and would fall just as much. At least Loki wouldn’t be the only one looking ridiculous.
“Stick close to the wall until you get the hang of it,” she said, leading him to the opening which led onto the ice. “Try not to lean too far forward or backward. Stay over your center of gravity.”
“I am not sure I have one of those.” He put one skate-clad foot onto the ice, and then the other. “This isn’t so bad.”
“You’re not moving yet. Just slide your feet forward, one at a time. I’m here to catch you if you fall.”
“You? Catch me?” She was half his size. He should be catching her. But she was the one who knew how to do this, and he was not.
“You’re going to have to let go of the wall now.”
“But you said to stay close.”
“Yeah, but don’t hug the wall for dear life. You’ll just knock yourself off-balance. Just move away a little. There, that’s good,” she said, when he had moved out about six inches. He was still close enough so that he could reach out and grasp it if need be, but in no danger of banging into it.
“Now what?”
“Just keep moving forward. Try not to pick your feet up off the ice too much. Just glide along. Like sliding in your socks on the kitchen floor—you ever do that?”
“Can’t say that I have.”
“You should try it some time. It’s fun.”
“I fail to see the attraction.”
“Never mind. Just keep moving. You’re doing great.”
And of course, the moment she said that, he slipped and fell backwards, landing on his rump with a jolt abrupt enough to make his teeth rattle. He sat there stunned for a moment before trying to get up. It was a lot harder than it looked. Between trying to balance on thin metal blades, and the slippery nature of the ice, he nearly fell again until Darcy reached down and helped him up.
“Maybe we should, you know, hold hands or something until you get the hang of it.”
“Hold hands?”
“Yeah.” She nodded to Thor and Jane, who were gliding along, arm in arm. “They seem to be doing okay.”
“Yes, but they—“
“What? They what? Love each other? So what? We’re not getting engaged or anything, hot stuff. I’m just trying to keep you from falling and hurting yourself. That okay with you?”
“Hot stuff?” This odd female was second only to Tony Stark in coming up with strange and embarrassing nicknames for him. At least she wasn’t calling him Bambi, which Loki had looked up on the com-pu-ter last night. So Stark thought he was a deer? Why? In what way could he possibly resemble a deer? The man was a mystery, and just when Loki thought he had him figured out, Stark did something else to shatter that illusion. There simply was no understanding him.
“What, you don’t like that?”
“There is nothing hot about me.”
“Oh, I think you’re very hot,” she said, slipping her hand into his. “Smokin’ hot.”
“And this is a good thing?”
“Well, yeah.”
Was he missing something here? “When you say I’m hot, what exactly do you mean?”
“You don’t know what that means?”
“Not the way you seem to be using it.”
“I just meant that you’re . . . attractive. Good-looking. That I like the way you look.”
“You . . . like me?” He stopped moving and, putting one hand on the wall to balance himself, stared at her. “You like to look at me?”
“Yeah. That’s okay, isn’t it? I mean . . . you don’t mind, do you?”
Does he? He thought about it. “No, I don’t think so. Should I?”
“That’s up to you. I mean, you’re a person, right? If it makes you uncomfortable that I like to stare at you, I’ll stop. You can stare at me if you want. I don’t mind.”
“How did we get onto this subject again?” he asked her.
“I don’t remember, but look at you! You’re going all by yourself now! I’m not even near you, and you’re staying up!”
“I am? I am!” He looked around in surprise, as if wondering how this had happened. “I guess this is easier than I--whoa!” He leaned too far forward and almost landed face-first on the ice, but she came around and helped hold him up.
“Yeah, it’s easier if you don’t think about it. It’s okay, we can talk about something else.”
“Is there any way I could persuade you to buy me shoes when we leave here?”
“I don’t know. It’s Christmas Eve, and the stores close early. Maybe Wednesday or Thursday. That okay with you?”
“I suppose,” he said, as if the subject no longer interested him.
“Well, don’t sound so enthused about it.”
He looked at her. “You are the strangest female I have ever met. In a good way, of course. You intrigue me, Darcy Lewis. I look forward to getting to know you better.”
“I thought you didn’t care about us mere mortals,” she teased him.
“You . . . intrigue me. I would be willing to spare all of Midgard, if you would stay with me.”
She laughed at that. “I don’t get you. You’re so hard to figure out.”
“And you are equally complex. We would seem to make a suitable pair, wouldn’t you say?”
“Are you coming on to me?”
“Am I . . . what?” He gave her an odd look.
“You are, aren’t you? Sweet-talking me in order to get me into bed with you. Just because I bought you some clothes, buster, does not mean that you own me!”
“I don’t understand. What is it that you think I want from you?”
“To sleep with me?”
“Do you not have your own bed?”
“No, I mean . . . why don’t we change the subject? We’ll get back to this when we’re not in the middle of a public place.”
“Oh. You speak of carnal relations? No, I do not wish to have relations with you. Though I must admit the idea does have some attraction . . .”
“Okay, all right, shut up already! We don’t need to tell the whole world our business!” She looked around, but everyone else was too busy paying attention to their own activities to pay them any mind. “We can talk about this later.”
“As you wish.”




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EileenK98
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[*] posted on 7-31-2012 at 06:53 AM


Skating, part two:

_________________________________

“You know what we need? We need some music. Hey, where’s the tunes?” she called out, to no one in particular.
A few minutes later, Tony left the ice and went to a little booth off to the side. “Can’t believe I forgot the music,” he said, his voice amplified by the speakers all around them. “This is a little something from everyone’s playlists, so if you don’t like what’s playing, just wait a minute. And I just wanted to announce that the snack bar is open for your convenience. No cash necessary. Have fun, guys!”
The song that played was a bouncy dance number that Loki didn’t particularly care for, but Darcy exclaimed, “Oh, I love this song! Don’t you love this song?”
“Not really,” he said, but she was already off. He set off after her, finding this motion easier already. She was right; it does just take practice. He didn’t know why that thought pleased him, but it did.
He caught up with her halfway around the arena. As she was twirling around like a dancer, he reached out and caught her.
“Oh!” Then she saw who it was. “What are you doing?”
“Is this not correct? I saw it on television.”
“Do you know what you’re doing?”
“I’ve been told that I learn quickly. Perhaps you should show me.”
“Next time. Right now, we should just stick to the basics, I think.”
“I have mastered the basics,” he bragged, and then fell right on his butt.
She helped him up, laughing. “You were saying?”
“Obviously you distracted me.”
“Obviously.” And she laughed that enticing laugh again.
Love of Asgard, was he falling for this woman? That had not happened in a long, long time. And the last time he had lain with a mortal woman had not ended well. He must try to resist having feelings for this irritatingly attractive woman, or neither of them would much like the results. There could be no happily ever after for them. This was not a fairy tale.
"I could use a drink," Darcy said, heading for the exit from the ice. "Come with?"
"Now?"
"We could talk," she offered.
"I suppose." He followed her off the ice, to the snack bar.
"What do you want?" she asked him.
He shrugged. "Coffee?" Not his usual drink of choice, but if the boy could drink it, surely Loki could handle it.
"Okay. Want cream or sugar?"
"Do I?"
She smiled. "I'll bring you both, and you can decide. Go ahead and sit down. I'll bring it right over." With that, she went to the counter and ordered their respective drinks. Loki took a seat in one of the brightly colored booths, running a fingertip over the smooth tabletop. It was only when he realized he was drawing hearts over and over that he stopped and laid both hands in his lap.
Why couldn’t he remember her name? She had been his wife, the mortal woman he had loved all those years ago, now long dead. In a few centuries, it would be the same with this Darcy woman; he would forget her name, and the details of their lives, but not the little things that made her special, like the way the sunlight sparkled in her hair (his former wife, not Darcy) and that laugh that made him feel all warm inside (Darcy, of course).
Better to end it now and spare himself centuries of pain and anguish.
But hadn’t the few moments of happiness they’d had together been worth a lifetime without her?
Oh, he was all confused now!
Clink.
A black mug with “Memorial Ice Rink” written in gold across it suddenly appeared in his field of vision. He blinked slowly, then realized that it was his coffee.
“They have real mugs here,” Darcy said, as she sat down opposite him. “Isn’t it great?”
“Do you have coffee as well?” he asked her.
“Oh, no. I don’t drink coffee. This is hot chocolate. With real whipped cream. If you’re good I’ll let you lick it off me.”
Loki, who had been taking a sip of his own drink, suddenly spat it out all over the table.
“What? Are you okay?”
“Darcy Lewis, what exactly is it you want from me?”
“Huh? What do you mean? I don’t get it.”
“Any relationship we have would be strictly transitory, at least on my part. You do not realize what being immortal means: I will outlive you by centuries, if not millennia. I have had mortal women before. It never ends well. If you expect to be accepted into Asgard alongside me, you will be sorely mistaken. You will die, and I will be alone again, and I cannot take that again!”
She blinked, staring at him. “You think I want to marry you?”
“That is the end result of your thinking, is it not?”
“I’m not thinking long-term right now. I just want to enjoy the here and now. I like you, and I can tell you like me, so why can’t we have a little fun?”
“As long as you understand that our fun is only for a fleeting moment. That we can have no life together, only brief moments. Can you live with that?”
“Yeah, sure.” And she smiled and took a big slurp of her hot chocolate.
He wanted to bury his head in his hands. She did not understand what he meant. She might never understand.
But should he not take advantage of the little they had together, while they had it?
“Drink your coffee,” she said, “before it gets cold. I brought you some cream and sugar. I don’t know how much you take of either. You can sort it out for yourself.”
There were three small plastic containers of cream, and several white, pink, yellow, and blue packets of sugar and sugar substitutes. What was the difference?
“Why the different colors?” he asked, after taking a proper taste of the coffee and determining that it needed something to counteract the bitter taste.
She picked them up one by one, beginning with the pink. “Sweet and Low,” she said. The blue. “Equal.” The yellow. “Splenda.” And the white. “The real stuff. They all taste the same, but the first three have no calories. But you don’t look like you have a problem with your weight, so feel free to use real sugar.” She separated out the white packets and pushed them across to him.
“Very well.” He tore open two of the packets and dumped the contents into his mug, stirring counter-clockwise. Then he lifted the spoon to his lips and tasted. No, not right yet. One more packet went into the swirling brew. Perhaps some of the cream?
He wasn’t sure how to open the small container, but Darcy showed him how to lift up the paper covering the cup and pour it in without making a mess. When he stirred it in, it lightened the color from black to a warm brown . . . the color of her hair.
He took a sip. Perfect.




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EileenK98
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[*] posted on 7-31-2012 at 07:43 PM


Done! Though the story is far from over. Here's the conclusion of what I've completed:

__________________________________________

There was no more talk of relationships that afternoon. Whatever would happen between them would be accepted as it was, and not for what should or should not be. For now, he was content to glide across the ice by her side, listening to the pounding rhythm that she had called Rihanna and just living in the moment. All there was, was this moment. The past did not exist. The future had not been written yet. They had only now, and now was good enough. He would not spoil it with thoughts of what was to come.
They went round and round, again and again, for hours, it seemed. Finally, Tony announced, “Time to pack it in, folks. Don’t forget to leave your skates on the counter. Meet you at the back door.”
“Guess we’re done here,” Darcy said, heading for the exit. Loki followed her, narrowly avoiding colliding with Thor and Jane.
“See?” the elder brother beamed at him. “It is easy, this ice skating!”
“How many times did you fall?” Loki asked, a twinkle in his eye.
“I did not keep count, I fear.”
“Five or six,” Jane said. “No big deal.”
“That is not what you said when I pulled you down on top of me!”
“Don’t suppose anybody got any pictures?” Darcy smirked.
The four of them sat down and began to take off their skates. For just a moment, it was as if the events of the past year had never happened, and there was nothing between them at all. It was a good day, the best he’d had in a long time, and as they all piled into the various cars to go home, Loki insisted on sitting next to Darcy. He liked having her comforting warmth next to him, taking the chill off his bones.
When they rounded a corner a little too fast and he found himself pressed up against her, he was glad that he had remembered to take his medication before leaving the arena. It would not have been good for him to throw up on her in the middle of their cuddle fest.
As they got out of the car, Thor asked him, “Did you want to put away your belongings now, or later?”
Loki shrugged. “Now is as good a time as any.”
“Very well then. Show me to your rooms, and I will help you.”
“All right.” He led his brother to the suite of rooms that had been prepared for him this morning . . . only to discover that he couldn’t get in.
“What magic is this?” Thor pushed and pulled on the door, but it refused to open. “Does it only open on your command?”
“No, I . . .” He tried to remember. “There was something that Stark used to open the door. He gave it to me . . . and I think I left it in there.”
“Does he have another one?”
“I hope so. No, Thor, don’t try to—“ But it was no use. Thor took a few steps back, and then charged at the door with all his might. It didn’t even budge. “Don’t break it down! Let me go find Stark, and see if he has another of those key cards. Wait here.” He looked at the door, looked at his brother, and reconsidered. “On second thought, come with me.”
They roamed all over the top two floors, trying to find Tony Stark, who seemed to have vanished without a trace. He wasn’t in his own suite of rooms. He wasn’t in the living room, where the others were enjoying sandwiches and watching a movie about a boy wizard. He wasn’t even in his main workshop three floors down, where they went after failing to find him anywhere else.
“He is in the building, is he not?” Loki cried out in frustration.
“Mr. Stark is in the training area on the seventy-third floor,” came a voice Loki had never heard before, and he nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Who is that?”
Thor laughed. “That is Sir Jarvis, the guardian of this tower! He is invisible, as I understand.”
“Oh. I see.” Computer intelligences were beyond the Asgardians’ understanding, but invisible guardians were no big deal. “Did he leave orders not to be disturbed?”
“He did not,” said Sir Jarvis.
“Very well, then. We shall go and do so.” Loki started to head for the stairs, only to realize that Thor wasn’t with him. He doubled back and found him by the elevator. “Could we not simply take the stairs?”
“Twelve floors? I think not. I would not want you to strain yourself.”
Loki shot him a dirty look. “I am not as frail as you imagine. I can handle a few flights of stairs.”
“But not the elevator?”
“I would prefer the stairs, if it’s all the same to you.”
There was a chime, and the elevator doors opened. Thor ushered his brother inside without any further comment. Before Loki could protest, the doors closed in his face.
It was actually quite a smooth ride, not at all like the one in the mall parking garage. Plus the medication had settled his stomach, so that he felt not the slightest bit of discomfort, not even when the elevator lurched to a stop on the proper floor. And it was faster than taking the stairs would have been. All right, then. One point to Thor.
Blue lights along the walls guided them to the training room. The door was open, and they could see Stark, in full armor, running through a simulation. Loki would have waited until the program was finished, but Thor went charging in and demanded that Stark produce the duplicate key card at once. No tact, that one.
Stark waved an arm, and his armor retracted. “What is it you want, Blondie?”
“Not I, Son of Stark. My brother requires the entry card for his rooms.”
“I gave it to you this morning.”
“I . . . left it on the table,” Loki admitted. “I will not do that again.”
“You’d better not. I’m not made of money, you know . . . oh, wait, I actually am. It’s still a pain, though. I’ll use my master key this time, but from now on, you’d better have that key card with you every time you leave. Replacements take a week to make.”
“I will remember that.”
“Wait here. I’ll just run upstairs and get it.”
“Of course,” Thor said, sitting down on the floor. After a moment, Loki joined him. “Tell me, how do you make the enemies come out of the walls?”
Stark just smiled. “Trade secret. I’ll show you some time, but not right now. I’m in the middle of testing out some new functions, and I want to get them up and running before I go into battle again. I have the feeling our little blue friends aren’t quite finished with us yet.”
“Blue friends?” asked Loki, who had not been at the battle the day before.
“I will explain later,” Thor told him. “We will be here.”
Stark nodded and left. He returned a few minutes later, clutching a bright blue plastic card that looked a bit like the one he’d given Loki, but had different codes printed across it. “I’ll take you up now,” he said. “I don’t let this one out of my sight, unless it’s locked in the vault. I suggest you do the same with yours. You don’t want to leave sensitive information lying around where just anyone can get hold of it.”
“I get it,” Loki said. “I will keep it with me from now on.”
“Good.” They went to the elevator together, and this time Loki did not resist. He could see Stark watching him, and gave him a questioning look.
“You’re not gonna throw up again, are you? Should I call the cleaners now?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“New medication doing the trick?”
“You know about it?”
“Yeah, the Beebster and I, we share all sorts of things. He told me he was going to try a new medication for your little problem.”
“Beebster?”
“Bruce. I started calling him Beebee—you know, his initials, B. B.—but he said that sounded too much like ‘baby,’ and he didn’t feel that way about me, so I shortened it to Beebs, or the Beebster. He didn’t seem to like Beebalicious too much.”
“Do you have amusing nicknames for all of us?”
“Why, is that a problem?”
The elevator slid to a stop, and they got off. “No, just wondering.”
“Okay, then.”
When they got to Loki’s door, Stark slid his card through the slot, and then pressed a four-digit code in the keypad. “Only because it’s my card,” he said. “Yours doesn’t need the PIN.”
“Pin?”
“Personal Information Number. You can create one, for added security, and then only you can use your card, but since it only works on this door anyway, there’s really not much point. I’m going back to work. Call me if you need anything.”
“I will.” Loki nodded. “Thank you.”
“No problem. Dinner’s at seven. See you then.”
“What time is it now?” the god asked.
“Five thirty-two,” Sir Jarvis told them.
“Plenty of time to do what we need to,” said Thor. “Thank you for your assistance, Friend Stark. We will see you at seven.”
Stark left the room. The door closed behind him with a soft click, like the snapping of fingers. Loki spotted his key card on the table and picked it up, slipping it into the pocket of his jeans.
“All right.” Thor took a look around at the pile of stuff in the middle of the floor. “Where should we begin?”
“I have no idea. You really had all this sent here?”
“I did.”
“When?”
“This morning.”
“Before I even had a room of my own?”
“I knew you would. If not right away, we would find a place to put it until you did. And now you do. So where would you like to begin?”
“I suppose we should just start with what’s closest, and work our way through from there.”
“Very well.” Thor started moving things from the top of the pile to the floor, where he sorted them by function. Loki bent down and looked at each item, deciding where to put them. Most were easy; the books went in the bookshelves, keepsakes went in the top drawer, and grooming items went in the bathroom. Some were not so easy to find homes for.
The portrait Thor had mentioned was in the middle of the pile, and when they got to it, Loki set it on the bed and looked at it.
They were teenagers in this one, gawky and long-limbed, and Loki had never liked this picture of himself. He looked angry, for some reason that he couldn’t recall at the moment. But the golden child looked perfect, as always, even at such an awkward stage of development.
“I have always liked this picture of us,” said Thor. “Where do you want to put it?”
Loki looked at him. “Your room,” he said. “You can have it. I don’t want it.”
“Are you sure? We have no other pictures of—“
“I’m sure. Take it. You can have the family portrait, too, if you want.”
Now Thor looked troubled. “Do you mean to erase every trace of our lives together? As if you could wash it away like waves on a beach? Why would you wish to do this?”
“Why should I keep a reminder of a family that isn’t mine? Of the man who stole me from my true family—“
“We are your true family!” There was anguish in Thor’s voice. “The day Father brought you home was the happiest day of my life. I finally had a little brother.”
“You remember? You were a child.”
“Old enough to carry you around in my arms all day long. Young enough not to care about where you had come from. You were simply there, and that was good enough for me.”
Loki simply looked away.
This was too much for Thor, who grasped his brother's sharply pointed chin and turned his head until their eyes met. "Look me in the eye, brother, and tell me you have no feelings left for me. Not Father, or Mother, or all the rest of Asgard . . . for me and me alone. Tell me that the last few days have meant nothing to you. If you can look me in the eye and tell me that you do not love me, then I will believe it."
Loki locked gazes with him, but could not speak. The words just would not come. He, who had always lied so effortlessly, now found it impossible to speak the lie to his brother.
"That," Thor said, smiling, "is what I thought. I will take the family portrait to my room, but you keep this one. Let it remind you of happier times. For there were many, if you will but take the time to recall." He lifted the huge family portrait and set it aside. "Shall we continue?"
What had just happened? Loki blinked twice; this was unexpected. Oh, not that Thor still loved him. He knew that. What he hadn't thought possible was that he still loved Thor. Still thought of him as a brother, even though they were not brothers. A small place in his wounded heart could not let go of the one person who had never betrayed him.
"Well?" Thor was standing there with his hands on his hips. “There is still much to be sorted here, and not much time to do it. Tell me where to put everything, and I will.”
“Never mind. I’ll get it. You can go.”
“What is wrong? Ki-ki?” The childhood nickname sounded odd coming from a grown man. “Tell me what is bothering you.”
“All of this!” Loki exploded. He picked up random items and threw them across the room. “All of this, these remnants of another life that I wish to forget! Who am I? Where do I belong? I don’t know!”
Thor crossed the distance between them and put his arms around his brother, pulling him close. Loki tried to pull away, but Thor only held him tighter. “Ssh, ssh. Think not of what has gone before. Only now. Be here with me, now, and know that I love you.”
They stayed that way for several minutes, and Loki was not crying. No, he wasn’t. This moisture in his eyes was nothing more than sweat. Or dust—the portraits had been dusty, and some of it must have fallen into his eyes, and that was why they were tearing up. Certainly not any kind of sentiment. Only children and weak women cried at a time like this. He was stronger than that.
After what seemed like forever, Thor finally released him. “This is your home now,” he said, “and we are your family. Tonight we will sit by the fire together, and tomorrow we will feast. For now, I will leave you. Will you be able to finish this on your own?”
“Yes,” he said, and sniffled a bit. “Thank you for your help.”
“Any time, brother. I will come and fetch you for dinner. Be well.”
Don’t leave me, Loki wanted to say, but for once his silver tongue was silent. He could only stand there and watch as Thor let himself out of the suite.
Then he started gathering up his things and putting them where they belonged. He would have to find a place for the portrait. Now that he looked at it, it wasn’t really that bad. His feelings had been colored by the memories of this difficult time of his life, when he had been struggling to find his place.
Just like now.
He tried to put the memories out of his mind and found homes for all of his belongings, except for a few things which he had decided he didn’t want anymore. Those he threw into a cardboard box to be discarded.
“It’s too quiet in here,” he said aloud.
“Would you like me to play some music for you, sir?”
The voice made him jump, but he reminded himself that it was only the tower guardian. “Yes, please, Sir Jarvis.”
“Any particular selection you would like?”
He thought about it. “Play something from my brother’s favorites.”
“Very good, sir.”
A moment later, the room filled with the voice of a human female singing about unrequited love. The song was catchy, and had a good beat, and in spite of himself, he started moving to the beat of the song. Nothing as undignified as dancing, of course. He was simply letting the music move him.
Before long, he had everything put away, and he was left with nothing to do.
"Is it seven yet?" he called out.
"The time now is six fifty-two," Sir Jarvis told him.
"Thank you. You can shut off the music now."
"Would you like to save a playlist under your own name, sir?"
He thought about it. "No," he decided. "Not yet. When I hear something that moves me, perhaps then, but not now. Thank you, good Sir Jarvis."
A moment later, there was a knock on his door. Right on time, as always. “Where did you put the—“ he began, before opening the door all the way and seeing that the person standing there was not Thor.
It was Darcy.
“I didn’t want to leave things the way they were,” she explained. “I know this is kind of weird for you, and I understand. Are we a thing, or are we not a thing?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Do we or do we not have a relationship?”
“Would you like one?”
“Well, yeah, kind of, but . . . it’s complicated. Let’s un-complicate things.” And she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him.
It felt nice. After a moment of stunned silence, he kissed her back. Yes, he could definitely do this forever. Or at least as much of forever as the universe would allow them.
When they broke apart, she said, “Okay. So. We’re a thing.”
“So we are.”
“Ready for dinner now?”
“I guess so.”
“Ooh, what’s that?” She looked past him and saw the portrait sitting on the floor. He had left it there until such time as he could hang it in its spot of honor, over the bed. “Is that you and Thor? How old were you?”
“That’s nothing. It isn’t very good . . .”
“Oh, come on! You look cute! How old were you?”
He sighed. Obviously she was not about to let go of this. “I was twelve,” he said. “Thor was just turning fifteen.”
“I like the way you’re holding hands. Side by side, not one in front of the other.”
“His idea. He did not want me to feel . . . inferior. Even though I was.”
“Oh, bull! Who told you that?”
“No one needed to. All I ever heard growing up was Thor this and Thor that. His exploits were legendary while he was still a child. Anything I did was merely a shadow of his greatness.”
“I know what you mean.”
He looked at her quizzically.
She sighed. “I had a perfect older sister that my parents loved and she got away with everything while I always got in trouble. Even now, all they talk about is her and her perfect husband and her perfect children, and sometimes they forget I even exist. I should call them. Maybe later.”
“At least they never lied to you. They never pretended that you were theirs when you were not.”
“Okay, so maybe they should have told you at some point, but you can’t hold it against them forever! Look, I have a cousin who’s adopted. Store-bought, my aunt calls it. She used to joke that they ordered him from the Sears catalog. Do they still have catalogs? Anyway, I’m sure they didn’t lie to you on purpose, they just didn’t think it was important enough to tell you.”
“The fact that I was born a monster was not important?” By now they were at the foot of the stairs. Tonight’s meal would not be in the formal dining room, but instead would be served buffet-style in the main living area.
“Why do you think you’re a monster?” she asked him. “I mean, besides the whole tried-to-destroy-New-York thing.”
“Have you read any of the legends about us? What your people call mythology?”
“Well, yeah. Jane made me read some stuff. Hey, is it true you gave birth to an eight-legged horse?”
He eyed her dubiously. “Do I look like someone who has given birth to a horse?”
“The myths also say you’re a shape-shifter.”
“That is true.”
“What about your other children?”
“I have children, yes, but I did not give birth to them. My wife did. Or should I say, ex-wife.”
“Oh.” She looked a bit disturbed by this news.
“We have not lived together for many centuries. I am free to pursue you, if you still want me.”
“What were you trying to tell me, before I got you sidetracked?”
He sighed. “I grew up hearing stories of the frost giants and their monstrous cruelty. Thor wanted nothing more than to storm into Jotunheim and smash them all, one by one. Which he tried to do.”
“Which is when you found out?”
He nodded. “Suddenly learning that my whole life had been a lie . . . it nearly destroyed me. It certainly destroyed any feelings that I had for the man I had called my father. How could he have done that, to an innocent child?”
“Have you talked to him at all?”
He stopped, just inside the door at the top of the stairs. “Why should I? I have no wish to hear his justifications for his actions. All I ever wanted was for him to tell me—just once!—that he loved me. To tell me that he was proud of me. For something, anything. But when last I saw him, the only emotion he showed me was disappointment. Even though this was all his fault to begin with!”
“Yeah, families suck, don’t they?” She shook her head. “Remind me to tell you about the time my cousin Nancy sued her mother over a car payment, and it ended up costing them thousands of dollars and the whole family was split over who was right and who was wrong—man, Christmas was really awkward that year!” She opened the door and ushered him through. “At least you have someone on your side. Thor spoke up for you, didn’t he?”
“Of course he did,” Loki said. “He always does. No matter what I’ve done. Once when we were children, I broke one of Mother’s favorite ornamental vases, and Thor said that he did it, because he knew that Fath—that Odin would not punish him as harshly. Sometimes it pays to be the favorite.”
“What happened?”
“He was grounded for a week. Two days into it, I confessed that I had done it.” He shrugged. “I was bored and missed my favorite playmate.”
“So then what happened? Daddy Dearest nailed you to the wall?”
“Did he do what?”
“What did he do to punish you?” she clarified.
“Grounded for a week, and in addition, because I had lied to him, I had to do all of Thor’s chores in addition to my own for that week. The strain nearly killed me.”
“I’m sure,” she said, smiling. “Oh, look, we’re the first ones here.” For the living room was completely empty, for possibly the first time ever. Loki had expected at least someone to be hanging out here, but it seemed that the others were late to the party.
Presently, though, the others began to drift in. First Tony and Bruce, up from the lab, with a chattering Nathan in tow; then Clint, Natasha, and Steve, from the training area; then Thor and Jane from their walk outside; and finally Pepper, in from some last-last-minute shopping. Once they were all assembled, the feast could begin.
It was a nice little informal family evening. So pleasant to have this time together, just to be in each other’s company. It was just such a perfect moment, gathered together like this, that Tony felt like he was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Any moment now, the alert would come in, and they’d have to go fight alien monsters or killer robots or just some guy robbing a jewelry store (let Spider-Man handle that one . . . he needed some decent experience, anyway). As a result, he was determined to stay alert, and so he only had one drink.
Most people wouldn’t have noticed, but Bruce had gotten to know him pretty well these last few months, and he took advantage of a quiet moment to ask him what was wrong.
“I’m just waiting for the call to action,” he said. “Why should we have a nice normal Christmas, like normal people? Superheroes don’t get time off, not even during the holidays.”
“Maybe the super villains are taking time off, too. Let’s just enjoy what we have here, and not spoil it. If something comes up, we’ll deal with it. Meanwhile, it’s Christmas Eve! JARVIS, can you put the Santa Tracker up on one of the screens?”
“Certainly, sir,” the AI said. A screen appeared in mid-air and showed Saint Nick’s flight path, which was currently over Europe.
“That’s not real, is it?” Nathan asked. “I mean, Santa’s not real.”
Tony looked at him in mock-surprise and gasped. “Not real? How can you say that? Of course Santa’s real! Isn’t he, guys?”
No one had heard him; they were all too busy with their own conversations.
“Tell him, JARVIS. Santa’s real.”
“The Santa Tracker represents real-time data as recorded by NASA satellites, Master Nathan. According to current information, Santa should arrive over the New York metropolitan area by two-fifteen a. m. Would you like an alarm call for that time?”
The boy blinked. “No,” he said. “He won’t come if I’m awake. But thanks.”
“You’re very welcome.”
“You know what this party needs?” Tony said. “Some decent music! JARVIS, play the Best of Christmas playlist, please.”
“Certainly, sir.”
A moment later, the sounds of modern Christmas music came through the speakers. As much as Tony liked the classics, he preferred stuff recorded sometime in the last fifty years. The current selection was particularly appropriate: Rob Thomas’ New York Christmas. Right now, “peace on Earth” sounded like a good idea. If their luck would just hold for the next few hours . . .
Loki was sitting off by himself, reading a book he had found in the library down on the seventy-eighth floor. He didn’t understand this Christmas that the others were so excited about, and he didn’t feel much like celebrating tonight. Books had always been his friends. People . . . people mystified him. They either betrayed and hurt him, or they wanted more from him than he was prepared to give.
A shadow fell over the page. “Leave me alone,” he said, without looking up to see who it was. It was a rather big shadow; that limited the choices somewhat. “Thor, just let me be. I don’t want to be part of this party.”
“Why not?” came a voice that definitely wasn’t his brother.
He looked up. Nathan was looking down at him curiously. “What is it, child?”
“Why don’t you want to come party with us? It’s Christmas Eve!”
“That doesn’t mean much where I come from. We have different feast days.”
“So? You’re here, now. Come be with us. At least have some punch.”
“I am fine, thank you.”
“Don’t you like us, Mr. Loki?”
The question took him by surprise. “Why do you think I don’t like you?”
“Cause you’d rather be sitting here by yourself than with the rest of us. Come on!” He reached down and started to pull the startled god to his feet. “Don’t you want to?”
“It’s not that I don’t like you, or the others. I . . . I do not deserve their company.”
“Why?”
He looked the child right in the eyes. Strange, those human eyes, in the middle of a snake-like face with a lion’s mane, goat’s horns, and a bear’s paws. They were his father’s eyes, too. And with that, Loki was reminded of the kindness shown to him by the doctor, among others.
And that only made it worse.
“Do you know anything of what I have done? Did your father tell you about what brought them together, these heroes?”
“You mean how downtown got broken? I saw it on TV. Some of it. You were there?”
“I was responsible for the situation. I opened the portal that brought hostile aliens into your world. I took control of the minds of good people and forced them to do my bidding. And I tried to destroy my own brother. All because I was jealous of him, of his position, and I wanted a realm of my own to rule.”
He waited to see what the reaction to this confession would be. Nathan nodded solemnly and said, “But you’re sorry, right?”
“I am now.”
“Did you apologize?”
“To some, I did.”
“You should do something to make up for what you did. Fix it, somehow.”
“What would you have me do, child? Personally apologize to every man, woman, and child in New York?”
“No. Just do something good. When I break stuff, I either fix it or replace it.”
“Most of what was damaged has already been repaired.”
“Then do something else. Wanna help me make breakfast tomorrow?”
He narrowed his eyes. “And this will make up for my wrongs?”
“It’s a start. You’ve done some good things already. You went and picked up the tree.”
“I stole the tree.”
“Mr. Stark paid for it. So you’re good.”
“I left when I wasn’t supposed to.”
“You came back. If you meant to run away, you wouldn’t have come back.”
The boy had a point there. Loki had returned—if only because he had nowhere else to go. But at the time, the thought of running away hadn’t even occurred to him. “You’re right,” he said. “I did come back.”
“You said you were sorry about the Pop Tarts, didn’t you?”
“I don’t believe I have, yet.”
“Maybe you should go do that now. I’m sure he’ll forgive you. I mean, he was pretty mad at the time, but he didn’t stay mad long. So go tell him you’re sorry you ate all his Pop Tarts.”
“I didn’t eat all the Pop Tarts.”
“You shouldn’t have had any without asking.”
“It was a misunderstanding! I thought he wouldn’t mind sharing!”
“Go make it right!” The boy yanked him up off the couch and gave him a shove toward where Thor stood in conversation with the Captain and the Lady Natasha. “Then come back, and we’ll figure out the next thing.”
He looked back over his shoulder. The boy was smiling—it looked so strange, but so encouraging—and he took that as a good sign. He went over to the group and stood by his brother’s side.
“I would speak with you,” he said.
Thor looked over at him. “You have joined us at last! I thought you would spend the entire evening alone! What is it you require?”
“I wanted to . . .” The words wouldn’t come. He had always had trouble taking responsibility for his actions, even as a child. He turned back to Nathan, who was watching the interaction as if it were one of his television programs. “I wanted to tell you . . . I’m sorry I stole your Pop Tarts. I only wanted them because they were yours, and I thought you would not mind sharing.”
“I would not have minded, if only you had come to me and asked.” Thor beamed and clapped his younger brother on the shoulder, which nearly knocked him over. “All that I have is yours. You need only ask, and I will give it to you.”
Steve cleared his throat. “Actually, um, I sort of had one of your Pop Tarts, too. I meant to tell you, but I forgot. I know I should have asked, but . . . I was starving, and they were right there, and—“
“I understand.” Thor nodded. “Has anyone else here taken one of my Pop Tarts?” he asked the room in general.
No one had, or at least, no one would admit to it.
“Very well, then. I am happy to share my breakfast with anyone, should they but ask.”
“I have my own now, actually,” Loki began, but Thor had already moved on. The younger god sighed and went back to his book.
“Did you apologize?” Nathan, who was now sitting on the floor beside the couch, asked him.
“Yes, I did.”
“And do you feel better now?”
He thought about it. “Yes, actually, I do. It is very . . . liberating.”
“What’s that mean?”
“It means that I like this feeling. I think I’ll do it again.” He spotted Barton across the room, by himself, and decided to approach him. “This may not go as well.”
“It’s okay. As long as you try.”
“I will.” He crossed the room quickly and cleared his throat, so as not to startle the volatile agent. “May I have a word with you, Agent Barton?”
The archer looked confused. “What’s this about?”
“It has occurred to me that I was wrong to control your mind as I did. I never meant to harm you or Doctor Selvig. I hope that this can begin to make things right between us.”
Barton nodded. “It’s a start. Admitting you were wrong is the first step.”
“And what is the second?”
“I’ll get back to you on that. For now, just stay out of my way. I promise I won’t try to kill you.”
It was probably as good as he was likely to get, at least right now. “Thank you,” he said, and returned to his seat. “Well,” he said to Nathan, “that went better than I expected.”
“Why? What did you expect?”
“I expected him to try and kill me. He’s promised not to.”
“Um, good? I guess.”
“You are very wise, young one. You have helped me in ways I never thought possible. Are you sure you are only nine?”
He smiled, and then Nathan smiled, and everything was all right.

_______________________________________________

Well, this has been a very productive JulNo for me. I missed it last year, because I did Camp NaNo instead, but this year Camp is in June and August, so I can write for three months straight! (Am I crazy? Am I?)

When I've finished and edited this, I will post it on ff.net. Probably in September or October.
Thanks for reading! Hope you had as much fun as I did!




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LillianAltair
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[*] posted on 8-2-2012 at 01:39 AM


*poke* So erm, is this posted anywhere in full? Or maybe <_< >_> could you email it to me? Because I adore this story so much I want to give it life and hug it ^_^
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JulNoWriMo Title: An Avengers Family Christmas

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[*] posted on 8-2-2012 at 06:46 AM


Well, it's not done yet. If I don't collapse from exhaustion, I might finish it in September, polish it up a bit, and post it on fanfiction.net. I'll post a link here as soon as I do.

In the meantime, here's the beginning of the sequel, my current novel:

___________________________________

JANUARY


He wasn’t supposed to be up here. But when had Loki ever done as he was told?
He sat on the edge of the roof, looking out over the silent city. It was five in the morning, and from up here, everything was peaceful. For the moment.
Somewhere, way down there, a crew was cleaning up all the confetti and debris from last night’s New Year celebrations. What must it be like to be part of that milling throng, crushing together like cattle, sharing in the biggest celebration of the year? Next year, they must attend in person. Even if it meant being stuck for eight hours behind a mailbox, and not getting his face on television (which, given the events of the past summer, would probably be a good idea), he wanted to go.
“Mental note: plan to personally attend next year’s festivities.”
“Oh, I don’t know, it’s more fun to watch it on TV. Even without Dick Clark.”
The voice made him jump. “I should have known you would be an early riser as well, Stark.”
“Haven’t been to bed yet, actually.” He sat down on the edge of the roof beside Loki. “You know, you’re not supposed to be up here.”
“Are you going to turn me in?”
“Well . . . no.”
“Why not?”
“Too much trouble. Don’t want to wake anyone up this early. Besides, you’ve been behaving yourself lately.”
“You say that as if you expect it to change.”
“Looking forward to it, actually. I don’t mind if you make things interesting. But you kill anyone else, and your ass is in a cell before you can blink.”
“You’d have to catch me first.” Loki disappeared and then reappeared on the other side of the roof. “I’m better at this than you.”
“Don’t be so sure.”
“Thank you for letting me stay here.”
“After you saved us all by knocking out all the blue guys? We owe you, whether we like it or not. Some of us do, some of us don’t. But as long as you keep doing the right thing, you have a place here. Good thing, too, because you’d never find a decent apartment in this city for two hundred a month. You can’t find a crap hole for less than five hundred.”
“Perhaps a raise in my allowance is in order?”
“Hey, he wanted to start you off at a hundred a month. I said Nicky, baby--he lets me call him Nicky--twenty-five bucks a week won’t buy the man toilet paper! At least give him a decent living wage! And he said, he’s got free room and board, free meals, access to your system--limited access--what does he need money for? And I said, a man has needs. Books, entertainment, maybe a few things to spruce up the place. Plus, he might want to take a certain graduate student out on the town before she goes back to New Mexico. Finally he said, two hundred, no more.”
“You spoke up for me?” Loki cocked his head to the side in a gesture of puzzlement.
“I didn’t want to. I mean, you did wreck my place, throw me out a window, and try to take over the world. But you said you were sorry. It doesn’t completely excuse what you did, but it’s a start. The rest, you can work off.”
“Work with you?”
“With all of us. You’re part of the team now, Lokester. Officially.”
“I do wish you would stop using those ridiculous nicknames.”
“It’s better than Bambi, isn’t it?” Stark’s eyes twinkled. “I give everyone ridiculous nicknames. It’s what I do to people I like.”
Loki raised his eyebrows at this, but said nothing.
A sudden gust of wind came up and nearly blew both of them off the roof. Tony shivered and pulled his jacket tightly around him. “It’s freezing out here! How are you in just a T-shirt? Wait, isn’t that one of mine?”
“I borrowed it. Do you want it back?” The god started to pull it up over his head.
“No! Not now, anyway. Then there won’t be anything between you and the elements. Aren’t you cold?”
The look that Loki gave him was one he usually reserved for one of Thor’s more dim-witted comments. “I’m a Frost Giant. I don’t feel it as much as you do.”
“Yeah? You must have been dying in the summer, in all that leather.”
“It was a bit uncomfortable, yes.”
“Supposed to be even warmer this year. You might want to stay in your room with the AC going, if that happens.”
“AC?”
“Air conditioning. We don’t need it right now, but when the time comes, I’ll show you how to customize the system in your own rooms. There are independent controls in each apartment, and they can be set a few degrees higher or lower than the main building temperature.” He shivered again. “Speaking of temperatures, it feels like it’s gotten even colder out here. I’m going in. You coming?”
“Can I sit for a while longer?”
“In this weather? Your brain must be frozen. Get inside and warm up. If you stay out here and catch something, your brother will kill me.” He held the door. “Come on.”
This time he felt the rush of magic as empty air became . . . less empty. “Shut that door,” Loki said from behind him. “It’s cold outside.”




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