It had been six months since Loki officially became a probationary member of The Avengers in order to pay back his debt to Midgard. Bruce had called it community service, Clint complained that it was more like punishment for the Avengers, and Tony had suggested that he should be made to wear an orange jump suit and pick up all the trash around Stark Tower, but Loki only had one aim: to save a life for every one he had a hand in destroying. It really didn't take that long.
Loki had helped the Avengers defeat a giant magic Octopus by draining it of its power, which allowed Thor and the Hulk to rip it to shreds and send it crashing down from the top of the Empire State Building into the street, where its body exploded in a gloopy mess which took weeks to clean up.
When a rift in space-time had opened up and a posse of cowboys had ridden through it on the trail of a murderer, found themselves in modern day central park, and started shooting out of sheer panic, Loki had been able to create an illusion of the man on the Wanted poster they held, and trick them into following it back through the rift, which Tony and Bruce sealed after them.
When a young human had apparently taught himself the power of magic, fancied himself a sorcerer, and had appeared outside Stark Tower to challenge the Avengers to a fight, Loki had walked up to him and slapped him across the face, then told the tearful boy to go home to his mother. They never heard a peep from that kid again.
At first Loki kept a piece of paper on his bedroom wall and dutifully placed a line on it for every life he saved, but it was quite difficult to estimate just how many people a giant magical octopus would have killed if it had been allowed to rampage around the city freely, and after a while he had given up on the paper and just vowed to do his best all the time, or most of the time anyway, because sometimes things didn't always go to plan.
“I'm gonna kill him,” Clint fumed as he stalked from room to room in Stark Tower, finally ending up in front of Tony's bar. “Where is he?”
“He hasn't come back yet,” Tony said, pouring himself a Scotch. “Probably skulked off somewhere to hide till you calm down. You want one?”
“A large one,” Clint said, and Tony got another glass and began to pour. “More… Keep going… Actually, don't we have a Big Gulp cup round here somewhere?”
The Avengers had been called out earlier in the day to deal with an army of Doombots that had invaded Yale University looking for an ancient text in the rare books and manuscripts building.
The battle raged as the bots attacked them with superhuman strength and powerful electric charges, and in the middle of it all Loki wandered over to a reading table and started flipping through a book that had been discarded when the invasion began.
“What the hell are you doing?” Clint shouted.
“Reading,” Loki stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world to be doing in the middle of a war zone.
“Kind of a dangerous place to be doing that don't you think?”
“Deflection spell, remember?” Loki said, tapping his own shoulder, and revealing the glowing green shield around himself.
“Fight the damn things or I'll shoot you myself,” Clint said, as he fired an EMP arrow in the chest of an approaching bot, and watched it fall to the floor, its circuitry fried.
“I'd like to see you try,” Loki scoffed then he held up the copy Schedel’s Liber Chronicarum, to show Clint, and said, “Have you seen this book? It is most interesting, and I don't believe I've read it before.”
“Kinda busy right now,” Clint replied, as Thor charged into view and smashed the head off a bot with Mjolnir, then pounded its body till it was scrap metal.
“Even you will like this one Thor, it has pictures,” Loki said, holding the book up “Look, dancing skeletons.”
“That is a very fine book Loki,” Thor said, swinging Mjolnir round, and destroying another. “Once the metal men have been dispatched we can read it together.”
“It has disrobed maidens too,” he said, holding the book up to Clint again.
“Naked ladies to you, Agent Barton,” Loki snickered. “I can't imagine that you are very familiar with them.”
A Doombot ran towards Loki, preparing to strike, he grabbed its wrist firmly, and said, “It is impolite to make a noise in a library.” He pumped wave after wave of magic into it, and watched as the robot disintegrated before his eyes, then he pulled out a chair, sat down, and began to flip through the book.
The Avengers emerged triumphantly from the rare books building, to the cheers of the Students who had gathered outside to catch a glimpse of the heroes who had vanquished the Doombots. They held cameras and cell phones, taking photos and video to post on Facebook, twitter, and Youtube, and soon the news and images would spread all over the world.
As Tony entertained the crowd with a story of how they defeated the bots, Clint smiled, enjoying the sun, and the cheers of the students, and then as he looked down he noticed the lump in the side of Loki's usually smooth, and close fitting jacket.
“What's that?” Clint asked, patting the lump.
Loki looked down, and innocently said, “Nothing.”
“What is it?” Clint said, grabbing Loki's jacket, and as he pulled away, the book he had been reading earlier dropped to the floor.
“You stole the book,” Clint asked. “We're supposed to be heroes, and you're stealing shit?”
“I borrowed a book,” Loki said, scrambling on the floor to pick it up, and hugging it to his chest. “This is a library, is it not?”
“Give me it, we have to put it back,” Clint said, trying to take it from Loki's arms.
“No!” Loki hissed at him. “I will return it when I've read it!”
The eyes, and cameras of the students turned towards the sight of two the Avengers briefly scuffling over a book, and within minutes the videos that showed Loki turning Hawkeye's suit in a purple ballerina outfit, complete with tutu, would go viral and be posted all over the net.
A third of a Big Gulp of Scotch later, Loki sauntered back into Stark Tower as if nothing had happened, and Clint slurred “You! I'm going to kill you when I get my hands on you.”
“What have I done?” Loki asked, placing his hand on his chest.
“You made me into a ballerina!” Clint shouted, as he stormed over to the table, and turned round Tony's laptop, to display the picture of Clint’s head photoshopped onto the body of a dancing Hippo from Fantasia. “Stuff like this is all over the internet, and it's your fault.”
“Oh, Agent Barton,” Loki said, with a smirk, “I have heard tell that the camera adds ten pounds. In your case it must add considerably more.”
“You know what, I've had it with you,” Clint snapped. “After all the shit you put me through, putting me under that mind control, making me kill people. Turning me into a ballerina in front of the whole word is the last straw. I wish I'd shot you through the eye socket when I had a chance.”
Loki was no longer smirking, and he asked, “Would doing that make you feel better? Would it make up for the things I made you do while you were under my control?”
“Very well,” Loki sighed. “I shall concede to your wishes.”
“Whoa, what?” Clint asked. “What does that mean?”
“You can shoot me in the eye,” Loki said. “You aren't too intoxicated, are you? I don't want you to miss, and hit me elsewhere. I rather like my nose.”
“Seriously?” Clint asked. “You're gonna let me shoot you in the eye?”
“It seems only fair that I allow you your revenge,” Loki said. “I forced you to kill people, and while I may have saved many lives now, I have not repaid my debt personally to you.”
“Really?” Clint asked again. “You're going to let me blind you?”
“It will only be for a short time, my eye will grow back eventually.”
“I think you should do it,” Tony slurred, from his reclined position on the sofa. “It's not every day someone volunteers to get shot in the eye, and I'm kinda interested to see how this works out.”
“I shall meet you downstairs in the training room in a while?” Loki asked. “I wish to change my clothing. I don't want to get blood on my armour.”
“Sure, shall we say 30 minutes?” Clint asked.
“Very well,” Loki replied. “30 minutes it is.”
As soon as Loki left the room, Tony turned to Clint and said, “You don't think he was being serious was he?”
“Sounded pretty serious.”
“Are you really going to do it?” Tony asked.
“God no,” Clint replied “but that doesn't mean I'm going to tell him that.”
“Naughty, naughty,” Tony laughed.
“Eh,” Clint said. “He deserves it after what he did today.”
30 minutes later, Loki was in the training room, dressed in a plain black tunic, with a bath towel draped over his shoulders, as Clint and Tony dragged a reluctant Natasha in to watch.
“What's with the towel?” Tony asked.
“I saw no point in ruining perfectly serviceable clothing,” Loki replied. “Where do you want me?”
“Where you are is fine,” Clint said.
“Are you really going to let him do this?” Natasha asked.
“I gave my word that I would, and I will keep it.” Loki replied. “You are only taking the one eye, yes?”
Clint nodded, and said, “You ready?”
Loki clasped his hands behind his back to steady himself, adjusted his feet to make sure he was stood level, and said, “Yes.”
Clint drew back the bowstring, levelled the arrow, as Loki breathed deeply, preparing himself for the pain. “Which eye did you want me to shoot, by the way?”
“What?” Loki asked, letting out the breath he had been holding.
“Left, right? Do you have a preference?”
Loki thought for a moment, and said “The left eye.”
“OK, left eye it is,” Clint said, then he drew back the string, the bow groaning as the tension built. “You do mean shoot you in the left eye, right?”
Loki breathed out again, and said, “Yes, shoot me in the left.”
“Alright,” Clint said, and he drew back the bowstring once again, watching as Loki twitched nervously. “You sure you want the left eye?”
“Just get on with it!” Loki shrieked in frustration. “Take my eye before I pull it out and throw it at you!”
Clint levelled the bow again, pulling the string taut, he watched as Loki anxiously chewed his lip, and then Clint laughed and said, “I can't do this anymore. I'm just kidding with you, man.”
“You do not intend to shoot me?” Loki asked, as Clint lowered the bow slightly.
“Nah, but you should see the look on your face, that was payback enough for-” Clint was cut off by a twang as the string snapped out of his fingers at an awkward angle, sending the arrow flying sideways, and Loki screamed.
“Oh my god!” Natasha shouted, rushing over to where Loki was hopping in small circles at the other end of the room. “Loki, stand still, let me look, OK?”
“Don't touch me!” Loki shrieked as he stumbled around, his back turned to them.
“Let me see,” Natasha said again, and Loki slowly turned to reveal the arrow, shaft sticking out of his left eye socket, with blood running down his face. “I'm gonna go get Bruce, OK? You guys look after him.”
Natasha ran out of the door, and Tony said, “I think you should sit down.”
“I don't want to sit down,” Loki hissed. “I want it out.”
“Don't touch it,” Tony said, moving over to him, “Bruce will know what to do. He'll set you up with the good painkillers.”
“I can't wait,” Loki said. “I'm going to pull it out now.”
“Don't touch it!” Clint shouted.
“I have to get it out,” Loki yelled, as he stumbled to the corner.
“What is going on here?” Thor asked as he barrelled into the room, with Mjolnir raised. “I heard my brother shout in pain. Who among you has laid hands on the son of Odin?”
“Don't get mad, OK,” Tony said. “We kinda had a bit of an accident.”
“If you have injured him, we will have words,” Thor threatened, and Tony and Clint did their best to look completely innocent.
Thor edged his way over to where Loki was crouching in the corner of the room, whining in pain, and said, “Loki, let me see what is wrong. Let me see.”
“I warn you, it is no doubt ugly,” Loki whimpered.
“Brother!” Thor cried, as Loki turned his head, and allowed Thor to see his face. “Who did this to you?”
“It's an arrow, who do you think did it!” Loki snapped.
“Barton,” Thor rumbled, as he stood up, and walked across the room with a menacing stare.
“Whoa, whoa, it was an accident,” Clint said, putting his hands up, and backing away. “I really didn't mean to do it. I slipped.”
“And yet you still hit my brother?”
“Well, they don't call me Hawkeye for nothing,” Clint replied, and Thor practically growled in response, raising his fist.
“Loki! Don't!” Tony shouted, and everyone turned to see Loki now stood up in the corner of the room, his hands tightly gripped around the arrow shaft.
“I have to,” he said. “It hurts too much to leave it in.”
“Don't pull it!” Clint shrieked.
“Nay, brother, please don't.”
“It has to come out,” Loki said, and then he screamed as he began to pull on the arrow shaft.
“No! No, NO!” Tony shouted.
Loki stopped screaming as the arrow came out with a wet plopping sound, and he said, “That wasn't too bad was it?”
There was an enormous thud as Thor fell flat onto his face on the floor, followed a few seconds later by Tony.
“What has happened?” Loki said. “Are they injured? Is there sleeping gas in the air?”
“They passed out, man,” Clint said.
“Why would they pass out?” Loki asked.
“Look what's in your hand,” Clint said, cringing.
Loki looked at the arrow, it's shaft slicked with blood, a few tattered remnants of flesh, but nothing that Thor hadn't seen before, and certainly not enough to make him pass out.
“Oh,” Loki said, as he noticed his detached eyeball skewered behind the head of the arrow, the optic nerve flapping about as he tilted the shaft, and then he hit the floor with thump too.