“Tony, we are not doing this!”
“OH! Come on Pepper! It is our wedding after all! Shouldn’t I have a say about something?”
“No Tony, we’re already not having a small ceremony like I wanted.”
“What!? Our ceremony is so small!”
“Tony, it’s over five hundred people.”
“No Tony that is not small, that is the opposite of small, which is big.”
“Hey! I’m billionaire Tony Stark, even my small is big.”
“Yeah well, unless all four-hundred fifty of your guests are close friends and family we are not sending these out as invitations.”
“What? I think they’re a fun and creative way to announce that we are finally finally engaging in the much feared act of holy matrimony.”
“Tony, they’re 3D holographic invitations, each on of these is worth thousands.”
“Thousands that I, as a billionaire, have to spare.”
“No, and that’s finally, you got the ceremony, and the location-“
“-and the cake.”
“-AND the cake, the least you can give me is some nice, simple invitations.”
“Fiiiiine, but can we at least send this one to Asgard?”
“Trying to look impressive for the other planet I see?”
“Hey! They have a self sustaining semi-sentient magical energy space cube, most of us are still using petrol, we’ve got to represent!”
“For the pride of earth?”
“For the pride of earth! Exactly!”
“Fine, but only the one, okay honey?”
“You’ve got it future Mrs. Stark.”
“Then go send your inflated ego space letter….future Mr. Potts.”
“Ah yeah, that might be a problem, you see there’s a difference between the coolness of the names Pepper Stark and Tony Potts, don’t you think?
“…go send you’re stupid hologram.”
Loki can’t help but tug uncomfortably at his tuxedo, feeling like a petulant child stuffed into his best robes. Once, he had loved formal events…or at least ruining them with his tricks but those times, the days when he was still the second most beloved prince of Asgard, are long passed. Now he is a pariah in both Midgard and Asgard, skating on the thin ice between budding hero and former villain.
He does not know why he let Thor pester him into coming. “You will attend the binding of Tony Stark to Pepper Potts.” He had insisted. “It is what comrades…friends do.”
But they are not my friends. Loki thinks with twinge, looking at the hustle of the wedding prepartions that surround him. They are Thor’s. Loki is familiar with the concept of a plus one, and understands fully that it is the only reason he is here.
He is no stranger to this feeling, the loneliness and shame of being his brother’s tagalong, a mere afterthought that comes in the shadow of his brothers blinding glory. It has always been, and probably will always be the way things are, but bitterness will get him nowhere, he has learned that lesson already.
This is his life now, and he will be content with it. Even if it means that all he will forever be “Thor’s weird little brother”.
“Hey! Thor, I finally found you! This place is so huge!...oh, hi Loki.” The smile Jane Foster sends his way is forced but she is trying. He can’t blame her for the lingering resentment she feels, seeing as he did try and succeed to destroy her little town. She turns back to Thor. “Can you come talk to Steve with me? He’s been freaking out over the best man thing since this morning and I figure if there’s anyone who can give him a confidence boost it’s a great warrior of Asgard.” She looks over at Loki. “You too of course.”
Loki shakes his head, choosing to politely decline rather than remain as third wheel. “I’m afraid I’ve never been the warrior type.”
“You self yourself too short brother.” Thor protests, “many a battle I have won solely because of Loki’ assistance.” He says that partly to Jane, but mostly to Loki.
“Well…if it’s not too much trouble, there’s actually something else we could use your help with.” Jane says hesitantly. “You’re good at magic and stuff right?”
“Good at? Loki is the greatest sorcerer in all of Asgard!”
Loki blushes, feeling that acute combination of embarrassment and pride that always comes with Thor’s overblown praise. He nods. “I’m proficient, yes.”
“Okay then!” Jane says brightly. “Go talk to Tony, he’ll fill you in one the details.”
She disappears down the marble hall with Thor at her side, looking for all the world like she belongs tucked beneath his massive arm.
“So I figure what you’re doing is just the Asgardian version of community service.” Tony says, looking his usual smug self. “And children are the heart of the community sooo…” He motions towards the group of wide eyed younglings with one hand. “Get serving.”
He trots off to do some other groomly thing while waiting for Pepper to finally be finished getting ready and leaves Loki at the mercy of about a dozen children and two babies.
One boy steps forward, wiping his nose on the sleeve of his blazer and regarding Loki with watery hazel eyes. “Are you a magician?”
Loki regrets speaking before the words leave his mouth. “Yes.”
“I don’t know man. I mean, battle tactics? Fine. Some things are never outdated but…I just don’t think that I’m cut out for making some big speech in front of 500 of the worlds richest people.” Steve runs a hand over his face. “Sometimes I feel like, like the punchline to a joke that’s already 70 years to old to be funny.” He says ruefully.
Thor pats him on the back. “You will never be a joke my friend. You may make jokes, but you will never be one…what is a punchline?”
“You know, that shouldn’t have made me feel better, but it sort of did, thanks Thor.”
“There is no thanks needed for help among friends.”
Pepper kicks open the door to the room, looking simultaneously resplendent and furious. “Thor what on earth is your brother doing in my reception room?”
Thor blinks. “What?”
Pepper stalks forward, poking an accusing finger into Thor’s chest. “He’s got a goddamn gigantic freaking-”
It’s been awhile since Loki has done this, mindless creative magic for the sake of itself. Nowadays it seems as if he’s always forming a shield or powering a blast. Sometimes it feels good to give up control and allow the energy pulsing beneath his skin to flow freely from his fingertips, taking the shape of whatever whim his mind has flitted to at the time.
But this might be a little overboard. He thinks, staring up at the elephant. It floats twenty feet up, tail brushing against the chandelier, its trunk spouting an array of multicolored lights. At least the children seem to like it.
And they do, gathering beneath it and staring up with wide, amazed eyes. One of the babies burbles happily, pointing up and squealing something along the lines of ‘erafa!’.
The elephant whips its tail and one of the crystals from the chandelier is knocked loose; it falls to the floor and breaks with the sharp tinkle of truly expensive glass. This is when Loki remembers himself, his situation, and realizes that a floating elephant with a laser light show coming out of its trunk might not be the ideal décor for the Stark-Potts wedding. With a snap of his fingers the beast is gone and the crystal reverses, reforming and flying back up to join its kin on the chandelier.
The children meet the now empty air with wails and groans of disappointment. “Bring it back!” The boy from before says, eyes wide.
Loki is unaccustomed to dealing with children and says the first thing that comes to his mind. “No.”
The boy stares at him, his lip trembling, and then without any sort of build up he begins to sob loudly.
This is not at all how Loki wanted his day to go. He kneels to the child’s height, trying to placate him with lower level tricks. “Look!” He says, turning one of his arms into a snake. This spell in particular has always been one of his favorites, despite its simplicity.
For some reason that Loki can’t comprehend, the sight of his now scaled and hissing arm does not help at all. Instead it seems to make things worse.
Now the child is crying even harder, and his kinfolk are looking more and more watery-eyed with every passing second. Loki is the god of tricks and lies but so far he has only dealt with fully grown mortals, idiot Asgardians, or particularly dull minded Jotun, never before has he been faced with the delicate and fickle mind of a child.
“Oh please don’t cry.” He begs, his arm returning to its normal state. “Um. Um-”
“Well, well, well, what do we have here? Scaring the children are you know Loki?”
Loki turns to see Natasha Romanoff, followed by her ever loyal companion, Clint Barton. She walks towards him, the train of her black dress swishing around her legs. “You know Loki, Fury ordered us to eliminate you if you ever stepped out of line again.” She draws out a pistol from AllFather knows where, aiming it pointblank at Loki’s face. Loki knows a weapon like this can’t kill him, but at such close range it will certainly bruise. “I’d say tormenting the children of earth is stepping out of line. Wouldn’t you Clint?”
“Oh I would.”
She smirks. “Well then, I guess it’s decided.”
A loud bang resonates throughout the chapel.
It is a series of coloful bits of paper that hit Loki’s face, but he flinches anyway because he’s still expecting a bullet.
The boy behind him begins to laugh.
Natasha smiles wider now, aiming her gun at the sky and shoots out a few more puffs of confetti, the children scramble to make it beneath the rain of color and glitter.
“Lighten up god of tricks; it’s a wedding after all.”
She leaves him to his charges after that, Clint trailing behind her. He stops in the doorway and looks back at Loki. “Try showing them your old costume, they’ll totally get a kick out of that.”
The reception is as fine a party as any Loki has experienced on Asgard. The distinguished guest’s gyrate together on the dance floor in some carnal mating ritual and Tony and Pepper preside over it all, their ringed hands linked together. Tony’s band is simple, gold and red like his suit, with Pepper’s name engraved on the inside. It makes a stately companion to the glowing arc reactor that Tony has created to fit around his wife’s finger. They are both smiling, satisfied just to sit silently in the presence of the other and watch as their friends and family become steadily more inebriated. For all of his jabs and smug commentary, Tony Stark is the Avenger who has been the friendliest towards him, discounting his brother, and Loki finds himself honestly wishing happiness upon the man and his new wife.
“Brother!” Thor yells from the dance floor, breaking Loki from his quiet contemplation. The god of thunder quickly disentangles himself from the mess of bodies and makes his way towards Loki. “Why do you not partake of this strange form of Midgardian dance? Are you not having a fine time at the celebration of our friend’s marriage?”
“I do not dance because I’d rather not imitate some beast in heat on this fine occasion.” Loki says, callously, sipping from his champagne flute. “Go rejoin you’re Jane Foster, Brother, I am fine and I wouldn’t want to encroach on your time in the wild.”
Thor ignores the jab, eyes lighting up at the mention of his female companion. “Does she not radiant tonight Brother? I am so glad Tony Stark allowed me to bring her with me to this great festivity.”
Loki pauses. “What do you mean ‘allowed you to bring her with you’ I thought that I was your plus one?”
“No Brother, Jane Foster was my ‘plus one’.”
“But why did you bring me then? It’s a plus one Thor, not two.”
Thor frowns. “I know that Brother. Did you not listen to the glowing message sent to us by Tony Stark? The invitation was for both of us.”
He is called back to the dance floor after that, and Loki watches him go in silence. He does not know how much time passes before Bruce Banner approaches him. He holds a drink loosely in his hand and looks oddly comfortable despite how out of place he looks.
“Enjoying yourself?” He asks.
Loki doesn’t even miss a beat. “Yes.”