“Is it true that you are the green creature who threw a car at me last week?” Loki said conversationally as he dodged both Cap’s thrown shield and Iron Man’s deflector fire with a frightening ease. The evasive manoeuvre brought him in grabbing distance of Bruce Banner, who wasn’t really feeling up to any grabbing since he hadn’t managed to hulk out yet. He’d only been an Avenger for three months and already he was getting jaded. This was problematic for someone who relied on stress to access his… powers.
“Sounds like me.” Bruce said warily, trying to focus on his breathing to speed up his heart rate and trigger the change.
Loki ducked behind him, using him as a, still human damn it!, shield. “You must be a powerful shape shifter.”
There was something about his tone that set Bruce’s teeth on edge. One elegant hand settled on his hip and with a strength that seemed out of proportion to Loki’s slim figure, forced Bruce to turn with him. An innocent move, seemingly only meant to counter Iron Man who was circling round, trying and get a clear shot.
The hand lingered just a little too long.
Bruce’s heart rate started to shoot up very rapidly indeed.
“Did you know,” Loki whispered into his ear, “that green is my favorite color?”
As Loki’s lips brushed his ear, the adrenaline in his body reached critical mass and he checked out for a bit, while he alter-ego took center stage.
Tony told him later that Loki had hung around, cheerfully dodging the Hulk’s furious attempts to grab him, until Thor had shown up. Just before vanishing in a puff green smoke, he’d managed to lure the Hulk into a half finished multi million dollar high rise. Construction workers would have to start again from the ground up come Monday.
Bruce wasn’t entirely convinced of his own superhero potential. It wasn’t something he drew attention to and he lived in fear of the day that Fury came to the same conclusion, since he was pretty sure his only alternative was a miserable (and presumably short) existence in either Shields or general Ross’ custody.
The problem was that the Hulk wasn’t a precision instrument. He was a big gun and a wrecking ball all in one. You could only point him in a general direction and pray you’d be able to duck the back swing.
Fury at least understood this. Other people seemed to be having trouble with the concept.
“Do you understand what I’m saying?” Bruce gasped out, clutching his chest and trying to remember the Gavatri yoga mantra to calm himself down. “You can’t keep doing this! Someone will get hurt! Probably you!”
The spider he’d found sitting in his bathtub cocked his head at him. Bruce wasn’t arachnophobic, but he found it hard to deal with a spider the size of a Volkswagen. The venom dripping from it’s fangs was slowly dissolving the porcelain.
Eight legs moved in unison as the thing skittered out of the tub. Bruce took a fortifying breath and straightened his back, refusing to be cowed.
They stared at each other for a moment. Then the monster’s body rippled and twisted until the Asgardian God of mischief was standing in front of him. Loki offered him a smile. It had too many teeth. “I simply thought you would appreciate my talents, being a shape shifter yourself.”
“Yes, it’s very impressive.” Bruce said dryly, moving back into the bedroom. The bathrooms in the Avengers tower didn’t have video security, but the bedrooms had a camera that could be voice activated with a code word.
Loki followed, brushing past Bruce to lounge on the bed.
“Aren’t you worried about security catching you here?” Bruce emphasized ‘security’, inwardly cringing at how obvious he was being.
Loki seemed unaware of the eye in the ceiling and the little red light that had just blinked on, but the laugh lines next to his eyes crinkled noticeably. “Not at all. My fool brother is in Muspelheim trying to clear up a vicious rumor concerning himself, Lord Sutr’s youngest daughter an a two headed goat. As for the rest of your little league, well…” He let out in a delicate laugh and peeked at Bruce from under his lashes, “Truly the only Avenger who managed to capture my interest is you.”
“Lucky me.” He thought he could hear yells and pounding feet coming closer.
“Indeed.” Loki let out a little sigh and got to his feet, leaving mussed sheets in his wake. “And because you interest me I will give you a boon. Advice, if you will, from one shape shifter to another, albeit one with imperfect control.” He crowded in close and dropped his voice to a mock whisper. “Practice makes perfect.”
After that several things happened at once. Steve kicked the door of its hinges, Hawkeye rolled through, an arrow already drawn and Loki shot a fireball at the ceiling that made the roof fall down on top of them.
And just before his world went angerfearpainGREEN, Bruce through he heard Loki say, “Magnificent.”