“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Bruce says. “He must have had some training on Asgard, right?”
Thor turns his attention away from the glowing screens in their transport. He and Bruce, deemed the least subtle of the team (edging out Tony by the narrowest of margins and on what Thor firmly believes to be a technicality), have been asked to remain on the periphery of the fight until the situation warrants their involvement or the facility is made secure.
“He has had extensive training,” Thor confirms. “He frequently failed to attend it, but even he could not help but learn regardless.” He puts a hand on Bruce’s shoulder. “It is good of you to worry. You are a fine friend to my brother.”
“Oh, I’m always worried,” Bruce says dryly. “It’s not too much trouble to spare some of it for him.”
“Check in, everybody,” Steve commands over the communication system.
“I’m in,” Natasha’s voice says.
“As am I,” Loki responds.
“Perimeter’s secure,” Clint says. “The two guards on the front entrance have been neutralized.”
“I took out one at the back,” Natasha says.
“Western road’s clear. I’m so bored,” Tony sighs.
“Loki, how’s the cafeteria?”
There is a brief pause. “Contained,” Loki says, finally. Thor and Bruce both let out relieved breaths and carefully do not look at each other. “Anyone trying to leave will find himself right back in the room again. I count six scientists and eleven guards inside.”
“Two more guards down,” Natasha says, not even breathless. “Corridors six, nine, and four are a no-go.”
“Entering through the north entrance,” Steve says. “Proceeding down to the labs.”
“Labs are secure,” Loki says.
“All right. Hawkeye, stay on perimeter. Iron Man, you’re on the cafeteria. Everyone else meet in the labs,” Steve says. “Don’t forget your - your - “ he falters.
“Diadems,” Loki supplies helpfully.
“D-diadems,” Steve sighs.
Thor and Bruce put on the circlets that Loki made to protect them from the effects of his spell and go in to join the rest of the team. The lab is a cavernous room, presumably to accommodate the erstwhile bio-robotic creature, and cluttered with tables and equipment. Natasha is busily restraining several guards and scientists who are huddled on the ground, looking terrified.
Thor goes to join his brother, leaving Bruce and Steve to discuss the contents of the workstations. Loki looks well - he appears to be unharmed, and there is a light in his eyes that Thor has not seen for quite some time. His Avengers armor looks good on him - it is evocative of his Asgardian armor, but not so much that it is not clearly of its own design. Tony even managed to create the suggestion of horns on Loki’s helm while still respecting Midgardian decorative sensibilities.
“Personnel secure,” Natasha says. “Loki, you can lift the spell now.”
Loki gestures negligently with one hand. The captives relax immediately, looking relieved. The Avengers remove their diadems, looking just as gladdened.
“Brother, what spell did you have them under?” Thor asks tentatively. Loki had been very mysterious on this point.
“A simple gravitational misalignment,” Loki says, shrugging. “They were merely under the impression that the floor was the ceiling for a short time.”
“Ah.” That would explain why that one scientist had been clinging so tenaciously to the legs of his desk, certainly. “And the diadems - it was truly necessary to make them so... gaudy?”
“You don’t think they’re pretty?” Loki says, wide-eyed with innocence.
Thor looks down at his diadem and winces, revising his previous theory regarding Loki’s mischievous nature. His tricks on Asgard may have been played to secure praise for his intelligence, as Tony had surmised, but his brother clearly does feel a separate attraction for the more lighthearted side of the endeavour.
“Seriously, so bored,” Tony says over the communication device. “And I didn’t even get a pretty princess crown. I just want you all to know that I’m sulking.”
Over by one of the workstations, Steve rolls his eyes fondly. “All right - I’m giving SHIELD the go-ahead to move in. We’ll let them clean up here and we’ll reconvene at the mansion for a debriefing.”
Although it was a sedate mission, Thor finds himself very pleased by the outcome. The results from the lab had been very helpful, and that’s all very well, but he is most encouraged that Loki’s first mission was such a successful one. There were times, Thor can now see, that Loki’s particular skills were not valued for Asgardian battle, and it is nice that the Avengers do not have those preconceptions. He does not even mind that he was unable to take an active role in the endeavour - he and Clint have already planned to spar in the evening, and that will be enough.
His cell device chimes and Thor smiles, overcome by warm feelings. A conversation with Jane is the perfect addition to the day.
“Thor,” Jane says, her voice trembling with excitement. “The Einstein-Rosen bridge is ready.”