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Feathering the Nest

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The thing was, it wasn’t actually that unusual to see Loki on the street. He liked pretending that he shopped for his villain supplies at Target, and insisting that was true even when the supplies included giant robots or graveyard dirt or whatever, that took time, effort and constant street-appearances. It also helped that off duty Avengers kept mistaking his presence for an emergency - that was a fun hazing for the rotating part-time members.

So it was only really the fact that he’d been conspicuously missing from the full time Avengers’ lives for almost a full year now that had Steve planting a hand on Tony’s chest as they walked, and silently pointing out the god of mischief on the other side of the street.

He was out of costume, and out of his out-of-costume-costumes. Instead of his customary beautifully tailored suits or green silk shirts, Loki was wearing an honest-to-god tee shirt and plain black pants. The tee shirt wasn’t even green, and he was looking a little lost. Wandering along the sidewalk looking around at the people and buildings like he was hunting something, but wasn’t sure what it was.

After a quick muttered discussion, Where’s Thor? He was right behind... Should we wait? You wait, Tony showed his normal regard for traffic laws and jogged across the street while Steve waited for Thor. And the crossing lights.

“…Loki?” Tony caught up with him, approaching from behind. Loki turned around, and all the sharpness was back in his eyes.

“Stark.” He managed to pack a whole lot of disdain into a one-syllable name. “I’m busy.”

“Yeah, you look it.” Loki’s eyes were still darting, following people who walked by. Apparently none of them were what he was looking for. “Anything you’d like to tell us?”

“Us? You’re alone, Stark, and you...” Loki’s gaze finally fell on Tony, and he let his sentence trail off. “Oh. What’s that?”

He reached out, casual as you like, for Tony’s throat, and Tony jerked back out of his reach. Loki glared, and stepped forward again, and Tony was just wondering what the hell made him think it was a good idea to approach the god of chaos without his power armour when Steve’s hand clamped down on Loki’s wrist.

Steve had barely opened his mouth, though, when Loki twisted in place, ducked under Steve’s arm and rammed a fist into his gut. The Cap doubled over, but held on to Loki’s arm long enough for Tony to jump in (with his customary foresight) and grab the other one. Of course, Loki flicked his hand and sent Tony flying.

Just as the people sharing the sidewalk started to notice what was going on, Loki shook Steve off and made a complicated gesture at the ground. Which broke open with living vines, leaping up through the concrete to grab Tony’s wrists and legs and pin him against the side of a building. Civilians started to run screaming, combining with the waving vines to get in Steve’s way as Loki approached Tony. Tony swore, and pulled at the unforgiving plant life which held him, but couldn’t stop Loki stalking closer and -

He deftly reached up and flipped Tony’s collar open to slip the tie from around his neck. Tony blinked. Loki held it up in front of himself and grinned. “This is perfect,” he said gleefully.

It was a Roberto Cavalli, silver, 100% silk, and Pepper had informed him it cost almost as much as the rest of the suit. Still, Tony didn’t think it was worth magically destroying a block’s worth of sidewalk for. Loki wrapped it around his fist, looking pleased.

Jaw dropping, Tony struggled weakly against the vines. Loki nodded to himself, and turned, apparently happy to just walk away. He walked into Thor.

“Brother.” The god of thunder crossed his arms over his chest. Loki quickly hid the hand with Tony’s tie behind his back, and Thor’s eyes tracked the movement. “What have you there?”

“Your crazy brother stole my tie!” Tony called from his position flat against the wall, feeling suddenly like the tattle tale little kid when the teacher shows up. Loki glared back at him, doing nothing to dispel that feeling.

“What, no I didn’t,” he said. This was less smooth than Tony remembered from the god of lies. And as he turned to give Tony a proper dirty look the motion revealed his hidden hand to Thor.

He caught Loki’s wrist and pulled it up to eye level. Loki’s other hand came automatically to firmly grip the silk tie. He and Thor stared at each other for a long incomprehensible moment. Steve appeared behind the big guy’s shoulder and shot them an odd look before moving over to help Tony dislodge the no-longer moving vines.

Then Thor’s face broke out in a wide grin. “Is there something you would tell me brother?”

Loki scowled. “No. No, there isn’t. Let go.”

To Tony’s surprise, Thor did. Loki stood there massaging his wrist resentfully. “Loki, you are nesting,” Thor said, that huge dopey grin still in place. Loki glared.

“I am doing no such thing,” he said. “I’m doing normal things, like I always do. I am, in fact, stealing.” He brandished the fist with Tony’s tie. “I’ve stolen Stark’s necktie, and you should be careful or I’ll steal something else.”

Tony and Steve exchanged looks. But Thor seemed inclined to indulge his crazier-than-usual brother. “And what did you plan to steal next?” he asked in a patient voice.

Loki hesitated. “That flag up there,” he said quickly, nodding. Thor half turned to look – it was one of those enormous corporate-logo flags hanging from the side of a building, ten feet wide, and longer than that. He smiled at Loki.

“Wait here, brother, and I shall bring it to you.” And with that, he raised Mjolnir and took off, flying up to the flagpole on Loki’s whim.

The three men left on the pavement watched him go. Tony shifted from foot to foot. “So, Loki,” he tried. “Are you gonna give back that-”

“No.” Loki didn’t look around. Tony sighed in frustration.

“I have other ties, if you want-”

“So wear them. I’ve stolen this one.”

Steve offered him an expressive shrug, a silent what’cha gonna do? and then Thor was landing on the street in front of them. “Your scandalously stolen flag, brother.” He held the thin material out and Loki was grinning as he took it. He bunched it up and wrapped it around his shoulders, hesitating for a moment before unwrapping the tie from his hand and draping it around his neck, holding both ends taut.

“Yes,” he said, partly to Thor, mostly to himself. “Yes, this works.”

“I am glad. But please reassure me, brother, that you will place these things in an actual bedroom this time?”

The happy grin vanished. “Shut up, Thor.” He glanced back at Steve and Tony. “I have a bedroom.”

“Of course, brother,” Thor laughed. “I hope, this time, you will allow me to meet-”

“Maybe later.” Loki cut across his brother impatiently. “I’m very busy right now, and I have to get home. To my bedroom, which I have.”

He vanished without another word, and Tony and Steve were left staring at the god of thunder. Who was grinning wider than either of them had ever seen him.

They telegraphed looks back and forth, while Thor smiled to himself, until Steve cleared his throat. “Well, that was, er... Do you have any explanations for us, big guy?”

Thor, if possible, smiled wider. “Many explanations,” he agreed. “This does much, at least, to explain my brother’s long absence. Being pregnant ever did calm his trickster nature.”

“Right, but why was he...” Tony’s brain caught up with his mouth. “Being what does what?”

Thor threw his hands out expansively. “Congratulate me, friends! I am once more an uncle!”