They park Loki on the couch with Gatorade and a sandwich and retreat to the hallway, where they can keep an eye on him and talk without being overheard as long as they’re quiet.
“Are you sure?” Bruce asks for the tenth time.
“Yes,” Clint says, irritated. “Rewind the security footage if you want. That expression wasn’t a kid-Loki look, it was straight-up adult-Loki. Between that and the nightmare marathon I think it’s safe to say the device’s bringing him out. We can’t let him use it any more.”
Bruce’s face falls. “I don’t know if we can pin the nightmares on the device,” he says quietly. “But I don’t think we can risk it.”
“We have to,” Steve says. “We need Thor.”
Clint glares. Only the thought of Loki in the living room keeps him from shouting. “The Avengers are not more important than Loki’s sanity,” he bites out.
Steve holds up his hands placatingly. “I’m sorry. I know how that sounded but you misunderstand me. If adult Loki takes over, Thor’s the only chance we’ve got to stop him. If adult Loki doesn’t get any further than he is already, we’ll need Asgardian magic to reverse his progress and fix the rest of us, and for that - “
“We also need Thor,” Clint finishes with him, shoulders slumping.
“Catch-22,” Tony says quietly. “To keep adult Loki at bay we need Thor, and getting Thor will bring him further out. We think.”
“You said you don’t think Loki knows what’s happening?” Bruce asks. Clint nods. “Then the other question is: what do we tell him? He’s going to know something’s up when we ask him to fix Thor instead of me and Natasha.”
“Don’t tell him anything yet,” Steve says immediately. “He was pushing for Thor to be woken up next so he may not think anything of it. We don’t want to scare him and we don’t want adult-Loki to know we’re on to him. He hasn’t tried to use his magic against us but if he feels threatened it’s the first thing he’ll do.”
“I promised not to lie to him,” Clint says dully.
Steve’s face twists in sympathy. “You go out on patrol,” he says kindly. “The rest of us will keep an eye on Loki. We’ll let you know if anything happens.”
It’s the smart choice, but it makes Clint feel like he’s abandoning Loki to ease his own conscience. He shakes his head.
“I’ll stick it out. I won’t say anything.”
“Movies,” Tony says.
“We can show him movies all day,” Tony explains. “He has to rest up anyway and there will be fewer opportunities for one of us to accidentally blow this thing sky-high. Hell, it’s a Midgardian tradition for sick days, right? That even makes it educational.”
“Good idea,” Steve says approvingly.
Loki is delighted by the idea, although Clint strongly suspects it’s more because he’ll get to spend the whole day with all of them than because he knows anything about movies. He sits dutifully through the first Lord of the Rings (Thor’s) and is enraptured by Star Wars (Tony’s).
“What do you say?” Tony quizzes him.
“May the Force be with you.”
“Han shot first! Give me five!”
After Star Wars, Steve and Bruce get into a fight over Indiana Jones versus Jurassic Park, with Tony throwing in inflammatory comments whenever the debate looks like it’s starting to wind down. It’s actually a pretty fun day, and the kind of team bonding experience Steve would have killed for in the early days of their attempts to get along. If it weren’t for the way Clint keeps glancing over to see Loki looking back at him with a cold, calculating expression, it would be damn near perfect.
He’s pretty sure he mostly manages to keep a neutral expression on his face when Loki sees him watching, and since adult-Loki doesn’t make a more obvious appearance he guesses it’s worked. It’s a little bit of a relief when Tony and Steve are called out to deal with another robot occurrence, leaving Bruce and Jurassic Park victorious.
Unfortunately, instead of being inconvenienced by whatever SHIELD’s been doing to find him, whoever’s behind the robots has been encouraged to make the biggest one yet. After Tony and Steve arrive on the scene, they’re forced to call in Clint too. Coulson comes over to give Bruce backup, which only makes Clint feel a little bit better about leaving him alone with Loki.
It takes them quite a while to bring the robot down, and Clint knows he’s not the only one missing Thor and the Hulk. By some miracle they manage to force it into the Hudson, which slows it down and reduces the collateral damage somewhat, and then a combination of repulsor blasts and explosive arrows makes enough of a dent in the thing’s helmet for Cap’s shield to decapitate it.
Of course, then it collapses into the water and the resulting electric shock shorts out one of Tony’s boot repulsors and kills every fish within thirty yards. The environmentalists are going to have a field day with them in the morning.
They make it back to the mansion to find Bruce and, hilariously, Coulson getting Loki ready for bed. Coulson is solemnly helping Loki choose between his Thor and Avengers pajamas (with the eventual decision to wear the shirt from one with the pants from the other) and Bruce is in the kitchen, making hot chocolate and looking like he’s trying not to hyperventilate.
“Adult Loki came out a little more after Clint left,” he explains, nearly dropping a mug. “I mean, I think it was him. I’m pretty certain. Kid Loki’s never weirded me out like that before.”
“Bruce, breathe,” Clint says, not unkindly. Bruce sets the mug down.
“Sorry. I guess it rattled me more than I was expecting.”
Loki bounces into the kitchen in his mismatched pajamas and tucks his hand into Clint’s. “Bruce says we can watch part of a movie while we have hot chocolate and then it’s time for bed.” He tugs on Clint’s hand until Clint leans down. “Would you... would it be okay if... would you have to tell Thor if I didn’t want to sleep by myself tonight?” he asks in a small voice.
Clint freezes up completely.
“Team sleepover,” Tony says quickly. “Midgardian tradition. Everyone in the living room in jammies in ten!”
Loki cheers, immediately reassured, and goes off to collect the blanket and pillow from his room. Clint shoots Tony a grateful look. Tony retaliates by dumping bourbon in both of their hot chocolates.