There’s a new accessory on the wall of Tony’s workshop. Pepper doesn’t notice it until she’s already hung her coat on it. “Tony? What is this?”
“What is what?”
She gestures at the wall. It’s hard to miss - a giant gold helmet, with long, curved … hooks? Horns? Pepper steps away from it, an odd chill running through her. “This.”
“Oh. New coat rack.”
Tony’s definition of household items is, as usual, a bit off-kilter. “It’s … very large.”
“It’s a souvenir.”
Tony just grins. Pepper shakes her head and takes her coat back off the … rack. Some days, it’s really just better not to ask.
“It’s an exquisite piece, but … what is it?”
The whole place - a heavily guarded wing of a mansion in the south of France - is filled with artifacts and art pieces, but the owner has built a bulletproof glass case for the large gold helmet that now sits at the center of the room.
The owner smiles at his friend, an oily expression that makes Natasha want to shower just from looking at him. “It was found in the wreckage in New York. Ms. Roman just sold it to me.” He turns the smile onto Natasha. She resists the urge to wipe her hands on her skirt.
She merely nods. “You’re a respected collector. My employer wanted to make sure it was with someone who would appreciate the value.”
Two days later, Natasha leaves a body in the middle of the collection room, and pulls a large suitcase behind her as she walks out the door. “What do you want me to do with this thing?” she asks Fury, her phone tucked underneath her chin.
“Bring it back. This worked well. I’m sure we can use it again.”
“Everyone wants a genuine alien artifact,” she agrees. People are stupid like that. It makes her job a lot easier sometimes.
Odin puts all of Loki’s possessions in the vault when they return to Asgard. “Maybe someday,” he tells Thor, “your brother will have use of them again.”
Loki may not believe it, languishing in his comfortable prison, but his family has hope.
Occasionally, Thor goes down to the vault to familiarize himself with all the treasures his father has collected - but inevitably, he finds himself standing in front of the pedestal Loki’s helmet has been placed on. If he closes his eyes, he can see Loki as they stand at the top of Stark’s building, panic and bravado and desperation flitting across his face in quick succession. Thor wonders if Loki could see similar emotions crossing his own face.
But neither of them have ever been very good at recognizing themselves in each other.
His human friends might call what happens to him a flashback, but Thor knows it’s more of … a warning, than anything else. A reminder of who he needs to be, if he’s ever going to rule Asgaard with any sort of wisdom. And it always leaves him impossibly sad.
Clint doesn’t know what kind of metal it’s made of, but he swears that someday, he’s going to find an arrow strong enough to put a hole in the fucking thing.
(He sees Loki in his dreams sometimes, hovering over him with a half-smile and that damned scepter pointed at his chest. When he wakes, he goes to the roof of the tower and recites a list of every mission he’s ever been on for SHIELD. Just to remind himself that he knows. And cares.)
Tony’s fully on board with Clint’s goals, and has set up a room in the tower exclusively dedicated to experiments involving arrows and Asgardian headwear. He occasionally brings Clint some kind of crazy modified arrow to try. They’ve made a few dents so far, but otherwise, no luck.
(They both refuse to try explosives, though. Because that would be cheating.)
Tony swears that if he ever finds even a tiny scrap of vibranium in his dad’s old things, he’ll make an arrowhead for Clint. And if that fucker doesn’t work, well, they’re going to go drop the stupid thing into a volcano.
Bruce settles in a small village in one of the former Soviet republics. He’s got a lab set up, thanks to some help from Tony, but his favorite place in his little house is the back room. The kids of the village come in and out the back door without invitations, and have set up a sort of play room around Bruce’s boxes and spare parts.
Bruce isn’t really sure why Tony included the helmet with one of his shipments, but it’s worth having it around just to see the kids attempt to try it on. They’ve created a game in which some poor soul has to try to hold the helmet on top of his head while everyone else tosses plastic rings at the horns - if the person with the helmet survives all rounds without dropping it, they win. Bruce doesn’t know what precisely they win, but it’s considered a great accomplishment to do so.
Later, he has Tony send him a custom trophy. The tiny gold helmeted monkey is the kids’ prized possession - whoever holds it is the king or queen of their entire world, at least until someone else wins the game. The whole thing makes Bruce laugh. He sends pictures of the winners back to Tony every time the trophy changes hands. Pepper emails him later to tell him that there’s an entire wall of Tony’s workshop dedicated to the photos. And that he’s welcome to come back and see it any time.
Maybe, if he ever sees Loki again, he’ll thank him for the entertainment. And, in a really fucked-up way, for giving him his life back.