“Hawk, we need you on the roof!” Cap yells over the comm from beside Tony who is firing missiles at the new surge of minions that Loki has unleashed. Steve releases his shield and it spins through the flock of small, winged, elven-looking creatures, sending a number of them to their doom hundreds of feet below. Some obliterate into the usual puff of green smoke before they even reach the ground.
“Where-is-that-smirking-little-shit,” Tony breathes, punching a minion in the face. He cringes as he spies another ripping the television aerial off of a nearby building, and another as it claws at Tasha’s hair on the street. An arrow plunges into its chest, and it screams before poofing out of existence.
“On my way, Cap. Just had to deal with another of the bastards,” Clint replies breathlessly. Tony and Steve continue their on-going battle, and soon enough Clint has joined them, shooting arrows in every direction.
“Don’t you think this is a bit on the strange side?” Clint muses, strategically placing an arrow in the temple of one of the minions. It bursts into smoke. “I mean, usually Loki’s minions are a little more…durable? And they aren’t even causing major havoc. They’re just being…annoying.”
Tony crushes a minion’s windpipe, and it makes a choking sound before his hand is wrapped around nothing but air. He’s been contemplating this all morning. Suddenly, Tasha and Thor come crashing through the roof’s door and Hulk smashes down next to them, making the floor shake.
“They’re only concentrating on us!” Tasha cries, emptying the rounds in her gun on a few oncoming minions. “This is beyond irritating! And they ruined my hair.”
Clint swivels his head back around from grinning at them. “Plus, there isn’t actually any sign of the dick. Maybe he’s too scared to come out and play today?”
“I am not too scared!” comes a clogged-up-yet-familiar voice from behind them. Loki is standing on a nearby rooftop, looking one hundred percent worse for wear. His nose is red raw, and his eyes are watery. He coughs, which escalates into him almost hacking up a lung. His hand is raised, and the minions freeze in mid-air, pausing the fight. The Avengers watch the God of Mischief with shock and curiosity.
“You look like crap,” Tony states matter-of-factly, and Loki glares at him, but the proceeds to sigh and let his shoulders relax a little.
“It appears that I have been affected by some type of deadly Midgardian disease. It is most unpleasant. I cannot breathe through my nose. Disgusting, disgusting human afflictions. I fear death may be imminent. I was not aware that human illness could kill gods but as of yet I do not see my health improving. It is, on the other hand, getting monumentally worse with each passing day. My magic is being compromised because of it. Look!” He waves a hand at the suspended minions. “It is most degradi- why are you laughing?”
Tony, Steve, Tasha and Clint are wheezing, all on the brink of falling about laughing, but it is Hulk who is roaring with laughter, and shrinks suddenly into a very naked Bruce. A compartment in Tony’s suit opens and JARVIS pings a minutely folded pair of pants at Bruce’s chest. As he puts them on, tears continue to roll down his cheeks.
“How dare you find amusement in my brother’s pain?!” Thor thunders, and they all shut up. “HE IS DYING!”
“Thor, calm down!” Clint says. “Loki’s got a cold. A common cold. He’s not gonna die.”
Loki startles. “A cold, you say?”
“Yes,” Steve cackles. “All humans get it once in a while.”
Red tints Loki’s cheeks. “Oh!” Then he frowns. “Oh.” His face scrunches up, and he gasps for air.
“He’s gonna sneeze,” Bruce announces dumbly.
As the cloud of smoke dissipates, Loki seems to have disappeared.
“Did he explode?” Clint asks hopefully.
Tasha smiles. “With any luck.”
“I did not explode, you blithering idiots! Oh blast it all.”
The smoke settles finally, and the entire team’s jaw’s drop. A four-year-old-looking Loki is standing on the roof opposite, hands on hips and seething.
“He’s tiny,” Clint giggles.
“ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Loki screams, and it’s weird because his voice is the same as his adult self, but it’s coming out of a child’s mouth. “THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!”
“Looks like your bro’s magic is in serious doo doo,” Tony says, turning to Thor who is still lost for words. Loki is pacing back and forth. His outfit has shrunk along with him, so the whole sight is pretty incredible. Tony snorts with laughter.
“WHY?” Loki pummels at his helmet in distress. “WHY?!?”
Thor disappears from beside Tony and lands next to his brother.
“Loki, brother, are you not able to amend this problem?”
“NO THOR, I CANNOT AMEND THIS PROBLEM. MY MAGIC HAS BEEN SACRIFICED TO THIS VILE AILMEN-”
He coughs violently. Thor slaps him on the back and he flies across the roof tops. Luckily, Clint leaps into the air and catches the little sucker, who wrenches himself from the archer’s grasp and drops to the floor as soon as he can.
“…So you didn’t anticipate this then?” Steve jabs, and it’s clearly the last straw for Loki. The tiny god growls loudly before squeezing his eyes shut and muttering under his breath. In the process of his incantation, he braces himself for yet another sneeze.
Tony blacks out.
Honest to god, it feels like a tank has just rolled over him. Tony doesn’t move, instead he continues to lay staring through his visors at the blue sky.
“Stark,” Loki hisses, and something thuds against his side. “Stark.”
“Piss off, small fry.” He lifts his head to see Loki land a pathetic kick against his torso again. “Quit kickin’ me.”
“Stark this is of the upmost importance. It seems I’ve caused a rather large problem.”
“Don’t you always?”
“Okay, okay! Jeez, I’m up.” Tony sits, removing his helmet, and rubs a hand through his hair. “Where’d everyone go?”
“That’s the problem.”
“What?!” Tony cries. “Did you obliterate them all or something?”
Loki sighs. “No. It’s worse than that. Much worse. You see, the spell I was reciting backfired when I-”
Tony looks around. When he finally sees the outcome of Loki’s spell, he freezes.
“-sneezed. It was a spell that would return me to adulthood-”
“Loki, what have you done?”
“-and the sneeze made my spell turn tail and reverse its original purpose-”
“Shit. Shit shit shit I am going to kill you.”
“-and it may or may not have caused…this.” He motions at what Tony is already fixated upon. In the corner of the roof, five four-year-old superheroes are cowering, mouths downturned in pouts. Their huge, round eyes blink, and tiny Steve hugs tiny Thor tightly.
Tony quakes with anger. “Turn them back right now.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“You had better be lying.”
Loki looks at the floor sheepishly. He coughs and wipes his runny nose on his sleeve. “I’m so ill and so small now, that the blast of magic the spell produced has drained me completely. Until I have returned to health, I cannot hope at all to reverse this spell. Even at full health it may still take weeks for my magic to fully return. Any attempts before that time could be very problematic and not work as I wish. This is an example of one of those attempts.”
Tony climbs to his feet, towering above Loki. “So you’re completely vulnerable right now, squirt?”
“…You wouldn’t harm a child, would you?” Loki smirks.
“Not seriously, but I can sure as hell spank your ass you little whippersnapper, you.”
“You wouldn’t dare.” But nevertheless, Loki looks uncertain, and is that…fear? “Also also, I am the only one who can return your team and my brother to their original state. Therefore it seems you have use of me. Laying waste to my buttocks will get you nowhere.”
“Smacking your ass into oblivion would actually give me more gratification than you’ll ever know.” Loki glares at him. “But yes, sadly, we do need you to fix this. Hey, wait a sec. Why the hell am I still an adult?”
“It would seem that your metal suit protected you against my magic.”
Tony feels smug. “Hell yeah it did.”
Something buzzes in Tony’s ear. He flinches, sparks crackling next to his ear drum.
“Stark! Do you copy?”
“Thank god! We lost communication with all of you for a while there! There’s back-up already deployed and on their way. What happened?”
“You wanna specify what kinda shit?”
“Nick ol’ buddy ol’ pal, I’m not sure it’s explainable over the comm. I don’t even think it’s explainable, to be honest. But…” Tony looks around. The minions have all disappeared. “It seems the hostiles have vanished for now. I’ve captured Loki.” Tony proceeds to knot his hand in Loki’s cape and lift the boy up off of the ground. He lashes out with his fists and growls at Tony. “We’ll head home with the back-up.”
“You’ve got Loki? You’ve actually got him?”
“Literally.” He grins at Loki, who bares his teeth.