Thor is sparring with Natasha when Clint stops by.
“Team meeting in fifteen minutes,” he calls. “Cap says to bring your brother.”
Thor and Natasha trade surprised looks.
“Villainous sorcerer?” he guesses. Loki has never taken part in a team meeting before. Well, not officially - given his unexpected arrival at the fight in the city a few days ago Thor suspects that his brother has been covertly observing them at their official activities for at least a little while now. He would not be surprised to find that Loki has been sitting in on their briefings as well.
Thor dutifully collects his brother - napping again in the spare room - and presents them both at the war room. Steve has placed several drawings on the screens about them - Thor thinks they might be of buildings, but it is difficult to say. They are quite interpretational.
“All right,” Steve says once they have assembled. “SHIELD’s done some digging and they think they’ve figured out where the beast we fought a few days ago in the city came from.” He taps something on the table and the drawings change to a photograph of a large building. “This is one of Doctor Doom’s facilities,” he says. “It’s located in southern Illinois. Normally Doom would be the Fantastic Four’s concern, but they’re still in space so SHIELD’s asked us to look into it.”
“That creature was organic, at least mostly,” Natasha says, frowning. “That’s not Doom’s usual style.”
“Oooh, bio-robotics?” Tony says, perking up. “Doomy, Doomy, Doomy, you naughty boy.”
“Yes, exactly,” Steve says, bringing up the drawings again. “What we need to do is go in and get our hands on as much of his research as possible. There are about ten scientists and twenty guards on duty at all times - we want to minimize casualties if we can help it. Doom himself probably won’t be there and we couldn’t hold him even if he was.”
“One strike from Mjolnir will crack that building like an egg,” Thor offers.
“Actually...” Steve hesitates. “We’re looking for a more subtle approach this time. We don’t want the scientists to have a chance to destroy any of the research or set loose another one of those creatures, if they’ve got one. Loki, if we got you in, do you think you’d be able to cause enough confusion to buy us some time?”
Thor sucks in a breath in anticipation. Loki blinks. “Certainly. Gaining entrance will not be a problem, either - I can handle that myself.”
Steve smiles. “Excellent, thank you. Do you have any suggestions?”
Loki glances down at the drawings. They seem to be comprehensible to him. “If we plan our attack during a meal time, a simple redirective spell on each entrance will trap everyone in the dining area with little effort,” he says, tapping a section of one of the drawings. “I can restrict free movement in the labs to all but ourselves as well, and lay some traps in selected corridors, although I warn you that my strength will be stretched thin at that point and I will not be able to contribute effectively to combat while I maintain those spells.”
Thor nods in agreement - he can see, now, that the drawings are meant to indicate rooms and corridors on a flat plane, and Loki’s strategy is both sound and efficient.
“You can leave trapping the corridors to Natasha, at least,” Steve says. “I don’t want to leave you undefended. The rest sounds excellent.”
“You’ll need a costume,” Tony says gleefully. Loki looks alarmed.
“Would not your Asgardian armor serve admirably?” Thor asks. While he knows that his brother is capable of defending himself, it would certainly be a comfort to know that he is adequately protected as well.
“Yes, but...” Loki pauses. “I do not think I should wear Asgardian armor in battle. At the moment.”
There is an awkward quiet. “Can you show it to us?” Tony asks. “I can use it as a baseline and design you something more Avengers-y.”
Loki sighs. “Very well.” He steps back and gives a little shake; his Midgardian clothing resettles upon him as armor.
“Holy crap,” Clint says, impressed.
“You can’t possibly fight with those horns,” Bruce says, awed. “Those things are like two feet tall.”
Loki touches his helmet self-consciously. “It took some practice, I will admit,” he says. “But I managed to fight Thor to a standstill wearing it.”
Thor scoffs. Encouraging his brother is all very well and good, but he is at heart an honest person and, more to the point, is more than capable of soundly trouncing his younger brother in a test of arms. “Brother, you did not. I won that fight.”
“You cheated by pinning me down with Mjolnir,” Loki says dismissively.
“You cheated by using illusions!”
“I am supposed to cheat!”
“Boys!” Steve snaps. “Do you really want to relive that particular fight?”
They look away, abashed. “No. We apologize,” Thor says and realises, with a sudden jolt in his chest, that they were just able to use that terrible battle on the Bifrost as grounds for a minor squabble, and it had been... all right. It had not hurt at all.
He is not quite sure what to do with that, but he thinks that it is a good thing.
They sort out the positions and duties of the rest of the team and set a time for the attack. Loki and Tony leave to work on Loki’s new armor and the rest of the team disbands shortly as well.
“Thor, could you stay back a minute?” Steve asks.
Thor complies. “Are you worried that I will leave my post if I think my brother is in danger?”
“I... am now,” Steve says. “Will you?”
Thor sighs. “I will endeavour not to. Loki is a capable warrior, even after months of inaction. I know my duty to the team as a whole must come first.”
“But if he’s in serious danger you’ll knock down walls to get to him,” Steve says resignedly. “Okay, I can try to plan for that.”
Thor smiles. Steve is a good leader. “Was there another issue you wished to discuss?”
“Yes, actually.” Steve looks uncomfortable. “When I visited you that first time in Puente Antigua, you explained the difference to me between your style of fighting and Loki’s. You said that Loki’s was... unfair, I think was the word. I just want to make sure you’re okay with us proceeding this way.”
Thor shrugs. “You made a good argument for stealth. It is not my preferred method, but there is still a reasonable chance that something will go wrong and I will have my opportunity to smite our enemies most mightily.”
Steve blinks at him. “Here’s hoping.”