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Romantic Poets and National Icons

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lisechen: while you are stoned, i feel i should shamelessly take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity, and nudge you gently towards loki/natasha from your marvelous (aha!) Coulson's Eleven AU.

"But it’s only sex," Loki said, sitting at one of the outside tables of their favorite pizza place (CAPTAIN AMERICA LOVES OUR SLICE!) and sipping a beer. "I mean, it is only sex, yes? That’s how you mortals do it?"

"I am so thoroughly uncomfortable with this conversation," Steve replied. "Can’t you ask Tony or May or something?"

Loki looked appalled. “Ask Allmother May? She’s very protective of Natasha, I don’t even know if she would approve of only-sex. Let alone if it’s something else,” he added broodily.

"Well, no, maybe not. But Tony," Steve said desperately. "Or Peter. Or your brother!"

"Don’t be crude, I couldn’t ask Thor about my sex life, and Peter’s a child. Stark is our leader, I shouldn’t bother him with such petty trifles. No, it must be you. Besides, you’re the only one who knows."

Steve had to allow that this was true, as much as he regretted the knowledge.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like Loki. He was a decent fella most of the time and Steve had a soft spot in his heart for mischief-makers. And he liked Natasha fine too, a good soldier and a very patient woman. He even liked them together, thought they were probably keeping each other out of trouble.

It was more the way he’d found out.

He’d only gone down to Natasha’s apartment to see about getting her to help him with his hand-to-hand skills, and the door had been open, and then he’d heard her scream and he’d gone running into the bedroom.

They’d been there together, entwined on the bed, Loki bent over her with his hips moving roughly while Natasha held his head to her breast, legs locked around his thighs. Steve wasn’t a peeping tom but he’d admit to a little stab of envious lust at the way their bodies had moved, the way Loki gasped Natasha’s name and the way her fingers dug into his shoulder.

She’d seen him first and thrown Loki off of her with a deft twist of her body, pushing herself upright defensively, and the red swell of her nipples, the swing of her breasts, was not something easily forgotten.

Nor was the way Loki had laughed and leaned over her shoulder, asking, “Enjoying the view, shieldbrother?”

(Even the way Natasha elbowed him flat for saying it was intimate, somehow erotic, and Steve felt uncomfortable remembering it.)

Steve had clapped his hand over his eyes at the time, blushing deeply, stammering and bolting from the room. He’d hoped they could all ignore it, but Natasha had sought him out to spend an excruciating half-hour discussing it with him. Loki seemed to think his knowledge of their most intimate moments made him an ideal relationship counselor.

"Look, I appreciate the respect," he said, "and I’d like to give you advice, but the last time I had a girl was seventy years ago and I never even got a first date with her. I ain’t the expert here, Loki."

Loki nodded. “But you are wise. You are the avatar of your country. You must know a little of how these things proceed.”

Steve sighed. “Fine, well, stop being a damn romantic poet about it and use the lick of common sense I know your ma raised you with.”

Loki gave him a startled look.

"You like Natasha, don’t you?" Steve prompted.

"Of course. We’re particularly well-suited and she is an extraordinary, desirable woman."

"So you’d like to be sweethearts, not just...uh...naked friends?"

Loki’s grin turned sly.

"Loki," Steve said, stern tone undermined by the blush he could feel on his cheeks.

"Yes, I suppose I would," Loki said.

"Well, then you owe her the honest truth."

"Sweet mercy, that’s a cruel thing to say, telling me to be truthful.”

Steve gave him a warning look. “If you want to be sweethearts you ought to tell her. If she wants to be sweethearts, then all’s well and happy ending. And if she doesn’t, well, better to end it now. You’re both adults; you can be civil about this, so long as it’s early enough no hearts are getting broken."

Loki tilted his head. “You know, I often wonder what Odin’s court would make of her. And of you.”

"Is that a compliment?"

"Mostly. Thank you, Captain. I’ll go at once," he said, and vanished.

Steve finished his slice of pizza, pretending that people weren’t staring at the guy whose companion had just disappeared in a swirl of black mist. Life was hard enough without caring what strangers thought of him.

As he was leaving, he got a text from Natasha.

Did you really call him a romantic poet?

Yes, he texted back.

Well, I owe you something nice, since now apparently I’m dating a hot god of mischief. Don’t come see me to collect for at least four hours.

Steve smiled and pocketed his phone. It was a heavy burden, being such a clever fella, but someone had to do it.