“What have we got?” Clint asked, as Steve walked up the Quinjet ramp.
“A call came in that Loki is holding a bunch of people hostage in a bar,” Steve replied. “Tony’s making his own way there, he’s gonna report in as soon as he gets an idea of what we’re dealing with.”
“Does Thor know?” Clint asked, and then Thor walked up the Quinjet ramp with a face like a kicked puppy. “And I guess the answer is yes.”
“How you holding up?” Steve asked, as he patted Thor’s arm.
“I am saddened by the news of my brother’s misdeeds,” Thor said despondently. “We have had no reports of him causing mischief for so long that I thought perhaps he had had a change of heart and abandoned his villainous ways.”
“Some people never change,” Steve said, “but don’t give up hope, OK? One day you’ll get through to him.”
“I will continue to try.”
“We ready?” Natasha asked, as she trotted up the ramp.
“Yup,” Clint replied, as he climbed into the cockpit.
“OK, let’s go,” Steve said.
“I thought Tony was meeting us here?” Natasha asked when they arrived outside the bar and found the street empty. “He should have been here long before us.”
“Maybe he went in?" Clint asked. "Seems pretty quiet. He could have got the situation under control already.”
“He would have let us know if he had any problems,” Steve said, as he pulled his shield close. “Let’s move.”
Steve kicked the door open, keeping his shield raised as he headed inside the bar, quickly followed by the others, but instead of devastation they found a room half filled with people who were happily drinking, and Tony leaning against the bar, his faceplate up, sipping on a bottle of beer.
“Where is my brother?” Thor shouted, and everyone in the bar turned to to face him.
“He had to go to the bathroom,” Tony replied. “Turns out it was a bit of a false alarm.”
“It isn't a false alarm,” the barman complained. “I rang an hour ago to report this. I want him gone.”
“You told the police that Loki was here assaulting people?” Steve asked, looking around the bar that appeared to have no property damage, and a few dozen unharmed people sitting in it, who were all surreptitiously taking photos of the Avengers with their phones.
“Yeah, assaulting the ears of my customers with his out of tune caterwauling,” the barman replied. “I wouldn't mind if he was singing something upbeat, but he’s sang the Mariah Carey version of All By Myself three times already, and it's bringing everyone down.”
“Brother!” Thor cried out, as the bathroom door opened, and Loki walked out, ducking slightly so his horns didn't catch on the door frame.
Loki rolled his eyes. “I might have known it. You can't let me have a little fun, can you? You always have to spoil everything.”
“You call this fun? Holding these people hostage?” Thor asked, as he looked around the room.
“Hostage?” Loki asked, as he meandered across the floor unsteadily. “I am holding no one hostage. They are free to go if they wish, but this is the cheapest bar in this section of town, so why would they?”
“Are you drunk?” Clint asked.
“No,” Loki said with a snort as he wobbled on his feet and put his hand on the bar to steady himself.
“You are, you've been drinking.”
“I have not!” Loki exclaimed. “I happened upon some apples, I ate them, and they had a wondrous magical effect.”
“Magical apples?” Tony asked. “On Earth?”
“Quite literally, actually,” Loki said. “They had fallen from the tree a while ago, but I was hungry, so I ate them.”
“You ate apples, apples that were on the ground?”
“Yes! HUNDREDS of them!”
“That explains it then,” Tony said as he looked at the others. “He’s a drunken monkey.”
“Is that some kind of reference that I don’t understand?” Steve asked.
“When monkeys eat fruit that’s fallen on the ground and fermented they end up drunk. You've never seen that footage on Youtube?” Tony asked, and Steve shook his head. “I'll email you it tomorrow. You're gonna love it.”
“You are inebriated, brother,” Thor said. “Come, I will take you home.”
“ I'm not leaving,” Loki hissed, and as Thor took hold of his elbow, Loki ripped it away from him. “If you attempt to remove me from this building I will destroy it, with everyone still inside. Unless…”
“You let me sing one more song.”
“Just one, and then you’ll come with us with no fuss?” Tony asked.
“I promise on Thor’s miserable life that I will leave after one song,” Loki announced happily.
“No!” The barman shouted. “No more songs!”
“If you don't want to be tending a smouldering pile of ashes tomorrow then I suggest you let him sing,” Tony said.
The barman muttered under his breath for a second then said, “All right, but just ONE.”
“Excellent!” Loki said, as he climbed onto the raised stage area and picked up the songbook. He flipped through it for a while, and then pointed at a page. “This one. I want to sing this one!”
“Really?” the barman asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, yes, hurry up. I don’t have time to wait.”
“Okayyyy…” the barman said, as he punched the numbers into the machine.
Loki stood on the stage, his head bowed, and the microphone in his hand. A piano riff echoed through the bar, and he began to sing.
“At first, I was afraid, I was petrified
So I kept myself hidden from Heimdall's prying eyes
But then I spent so many nights thinking, how you did me wrong
And I grew strong and I learned how to get along.”
“Oh my god,” Tony said as he scrubbed his hands across his face, and Loki continued.
“And so you're back, from outer space
I just walked in to find you here with that stupid look on your ugly face
I should have killed you years ago
I should have gone on a killing spree
If I'd known for just one second you'd be back to bother me.
Go on now, go, walk out the door, Just turn around now
You're not my brother any more
You tossed me into an abyss and you hoped that I would die.
Did you think I'd crumble? Even thought my plans went awry?”
Steve kept watch as Loki sang, waiting for him to make a move… other than his current strutting around the stage and cape twirling, but then out of the corner of his eye he noticed Thor staring at his brother with a sad look on his face.
“Yeah, so I lead the failed invasion of the Chitauri
Because it turned out they were an ineffectual army
And I spent, oh, so many nights just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry, but now I wish you all would just die!
Now you see me, somebody new
I'm not that chained up, muzzled person still in love with you
I was confined in the dungeon but now I am running free
And for my next army I’ll choose the Skrulls or the Kree!”
Natasha stood, arms folded, waiting for the torture to be over, then kicked Clint in the shin when she noticed him dancing slightly and gave him an evil glare, then cocked her head towards Thor, who was obviously upset.
"Go on now, go, walk out the door, just turn around now
' Cause you're not my brother any more
Weren't you the one who tried to break me with ‘No Loki!’
Or was that father? Well, he’s no father of mine!”
Steve looked at Thor again, and noticed tears starting to form in his eyes. “OK… That’s enough.”
“ I'm not finished!” Loki hissed over the microphone. “If you want to sing you can wait your turn!”
Steve climbed onto the stage and pulled the microphone out of Loki’s hand. “Loki, look what you’re doing to Thor.”
Loki looked at Thor, his eyes taking a moment to focus on his brother's face, and then he giggled. “Oh good. I see he understood the lyrics. Quite the surprise as he still moves his lips when he reads!”
“Loki, you are DRUNK. Stop. Now,” Steve said firmly as he grabbed Loki’s arm.
“How dare you put your hands on a prince!” Loki snapped. “Unhand me at once!”
Steve kept a firm hold on Loki’s arm, and then ducked as Loki attempted to punch him with his free hand, an action that spun him round, freeing him from Steve’s grip, and sent him sprawling across the floor.
As Loki lay on his back giggling, Natasha turned to Steve and said, “What are we going to do with him?”
“We can’t let him go running round the city in this state. He’ll just end up in another karaoke bar,” Steve replied.
“I wish Bruce was here,” Clint said. “He might have been able to smash some sense into him.”
“Yeah, how inconsiderate of all those villages to have babies that need inoculations right when we need him,” Natasha replied, rolling her eyes.
“ I'm just saying,” Clint said. “It would have been nice.”
“Leave it to me,” Tony said, as he pulled his suit gloves off. “I know how to deal with a drunk, since I frequently am one.”
Tony moved over to where Loki lay on the floor, and bent down.
“Loki, Loki… Look at me. Where do you live? Loki… Loki,” Tony said loudly, trying to get his attention. He brought his hand up and gently slapped it against Loki’s face, and action he quickly regretted when Loki stopped laughing and fixed him with a glare that would put Fury to shame.
“You will regret that, Stark,” Loki growled menacingly.
“Where do you live? We need to take you back to your lair, or secret hideaway or whatever you call it.”
“But I don’t want to go hommmeeeee,” Loki whined as he kicked his feet petulantly on the floor. “The night is yet young, and we should be out there, celebrating, feasting, and carousing!” Loki sat up suddenly, and then turned to face Tony.
“Whaaattt?” Tony asked suspiciously.
“We should go to see a show,” Loki said with a grin. “We can shout at the actors. It will be most amusing.”
“That is definitely not happening. I'm always up for a little carousing, but not with a super villain.”
“You disappoint me. I had thought that you would be able to keep up with me, but here you are, scared that I will, as they say, ‘drink you under the table.’”
“Given that you're the one on the floor right now, I don’t see a lot to be scared of.”
Loki scowled and looked around the room. “This place is dead. I've seen a pile of rotten corpses that had more life than this.” Then he closed his eyes and vanished.
“Shit!” Tony shouted.
“Where did he go?” Clint exclaimed looking around him.
“That did not work out well.” Loki said, as he stood up behind the bar.
“Get out of here, and don’t come back! You’re banned!” the barman shouted.
Loki waved a hand dismissively at him as he walked round to the other side, and said, “As if I wished to return to this place anyway,” and then closed his eyes and disappeared again.
“Crap!” Clint shouted.
“I wish he’d stop doing that,” Tony said.
“Do you see him?” Natasha asked, as she moved around the bar.
“Brother, come out from your hiding place, and stop playing such childish games,” Thor shouted.
“I don’t think he’s here,” Steve said.
“What makes you say that?” Natasha asked.
“Because people are screaming and running out of the bar across the street,” he replied, as he started to move towards the door.
The Avengers left the building and quickly headed across the street, until they reached the bar doors where people were streaming out.
“Keep moving, keep moving,” Steve said, as he directed people out of harms way. “Keep going, further down the street.”
When the stream of people stopped and the bar door swung gently on it’s hinges, they entered warily.
The room was empty, the TV was on a sports channel showing the highlights of a baseball game, and Loki was laid across the bar, his mouth wrapped round the end of a beer pump, draining the barrel.
“I thought you said you hadn't drank anything, you just ate apples?” Steve asked.
Loki stopped drinking, sat up and put his finger up to his lips. “I might have lied.”
“We need to take him home till he sobers up,” Tony said.
“Back to the tower?” Clint asked. “You have to be kidding me.”
“It’s not like we can take him to Starbucks for a coffee, and besides, I think we might get some useful information out off him while he’s drunk,” Tony said. “Hey, Loki. You wanna come to a party with us?”
“A party?” Loki asked with a hiccup. “There will be more alcohol?”
“Then I accept your invitation.”
Steve placed Loki’s helmet on the floor of the Quinjet, and then tightened the straps that held Loki into his seat. “Comfortable?”
Loki nodded, holding a tissue to his nose to stem the blood flow. “Much safer. The captain of this ship should be flogged for steering it so violently.”
“No one else fell out of their seats!” Clint shouted from the cockpit.
“Perhaps they were aware that you fly like a mad man and knew to keep hold!” Loki shouted back.
“Keep talking like that and I’ll fly us round in circles till you throw up.”
“Stop annoying him,” Steve said, as he moved up towards the front of the jet, leaving Thor in the rear to keep watch.
Loki growled, but did not reply. Instead he pulled something out from under his cape and started prodding at it.
“What is that, brother?” Thor asked.
“Nothing, be quiet,” Loki replied, as he held the device up to his ear, and after a moment he said, “Good evening, can I speak to your master please.”
“What are you doing, brother?”
Loki put his hand over the device and snapped, “Hush, Thor! Oh good evening Dr von Doom, I'm calling with the results of your recent health check… I'm sorry, sir, I have the results here in front of me. Can you confirm your address? … That is the address I have here on the form, sir… Well, I'm ringing to inform you that you tested positive for several virulent sexual diseases, so many in fact that one could postulate that you are in fact some kind of vile, pestilent slattern… It means you are promiscuous in the extreme… No sexual partners since your last health check you say? And when was that? Two years ago?”
“What's he doing?” Steve asked Thor as he wandered back down the jet.
“I am not entirely sure,” Thor frowned.
Loki started to laugh down the phone. “Poor Victor. All alone in his castle and he can’t even find himself a lover. Perhaps you should pay, or isn't their enough money in the world that would make someone stoop so low as to touch you!”
Steve grabbed the phone out of Loki's hand, and ended the call. “Did you just prank call Doom?”
“I may have.”
“Why would you do something like that? Are you stupid?” Steve shouted.
Loki rolled his eyes. “It was amusing. Just wait till everyone hears about this. Doom will be a laughing stock.”
“Where did you get this?” Steve asked, looking at the phone in his hand. “Did you steal it?”
“I borrowed it,” Loki replied, innocently.
“Anyone missing a phone?” Steve shouted.
In the cockpit Clint ran his hand over the pocket of his uniform. “Mine’s gone.”
Steve walked up to the cockpit, and handed it to Clint. “You might wanna change your number.”
“Wait,” Clint said over his shoulder. “You used MY phone to prank call Doctor Doom?”
“Well, I could hardly use my own,” Loki replied indignantly. “Victor would kill me.”
“When we land, in about five minutes, you and me are going to have words.”
Loki scoffed. “I look forward to it. I imagine all the ones you use will not have many syllables.”
As the morning light began to stream into the tower Tony gulped down his hot, black coffee and watched as the bundle of green and black on the floor began to groan and move around weakly.
“Not feeling so great, eh?” Tony asked, as Loki sat up and moaned again.
“What am I doing here?” Loki asked as he screwed up his eyes, and looked around the room. He winced and then ran his hand over his forehead. “What did you do to me? I feel dreadful. You have infected me with a disease?”
“That's called a hangover.”
“Impossible. I have drunk entire taverns dry before, and never felt like this.”
“That's what you get for mixing your drinks.”
“I will rip you and your tower to shreds,” Loki threatened, then he groaned and lay back on the floor. “As soon as the room stops spinning.”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Tony said. “ In fact from now on I think you’re going to be on your best behaviour.”
“Am I really?” Loki asked, narrowing his eyes.
“Yup, no more pranks, no more destroying the city, and definitely no more alien invasions, or else certain evidence might find it's way into the hands of the press.”
“Evidence?” Loki asked suspiciously, sitting up again.
“Jarvis?” Tony said.
“Yes, sir?” the AI replied.
“Holographic screen, please, and show the clip named ‘Woe is me.’”
“Very well, sir,” Jarvis replied as a large rectangular hologram flickered into life.
The hologram was black for a second, and it emitted an awful keening sound, but then the camera moved, and focused on a hunched figure curled on the floor.
“No one loves meeeee,” the figure wailed, and Loki’s mouth dropped open as he recognised himself.
“I love you, brother. Mother and father love you very much,” Thor's voice came from off screen.
“No they don't! No one loves me, I am all alone and not a single being, even the most lowly creature, could ever have any feelings for a monster such as I,” the Loki on screen cried as he turned his head and his tear streaked face was visible.
“Loki, brother, can I embrace you? Can I hold you as I once did when we were young, and show you that you are still loved.”
“I…I think I would like that.”
“See it turns out that you are a bit of an emo drunk, big fella,” Tony said. “Although that isn't the video I’ll be sending to the press, I’ll be keeping that one for my private collection. You really need to see this one as well because this is just hilarious. Jarvis, show the clip named ‘Dance party.’”
The screen flickered again, and showed Loki and the Avengers stood around a large screen, there was a curious mat on the floor, and as music began to blare out Loki began to dance wildly, apparently following instructions on the screen.
“You think this will tame me?” Loki asked. “I performed a dance while intoxicated. Who among you can say that they have never done such a thing.”
“Oh, that’s not the really good one. Jarvis, show the clip named ‘Blackmail one.’”
Loki’s eyes went wide as the video started, and he saw himself on a sofa, his arm wrapped round Tony's shoulder.
“This is Tony Stark. He is lovely, he is my best friend and I want everyone to know just how lovely he is,” Loki said, then he stopped, distracted by something off screen, and shouted, “SHUT UP, THOR! I'm talking! Tony, I wish you were my brother, and not Thor.”
“Will you make me a suit? A suit like yours, but it can be green and gold and have horns?” he asked excitedly.
“I could do that.”
“Then I could be an Avenger! I could join your team and help you fight evil and I could join your team!”
“That’s a great idea.”
“I know exactly where we should start, now I'm an Avenger. Doom has a secret army of metal men in a warehouse in New Jersey, and he is planning to unleash an explosion on your city. We could go over there and destroy those metal men before they do anything. They are in a warehouse in New jersey I think.”
“Do you know which warehouse?”
“I do, I do, show me google maps.”
Loki stared at Tony, his mouth opening and closing.
“Lost for words, huh?”
“I can assure you that I wi-”
“Threaten us? Destroy us? Yeah, not gonna work out so well for you,” Tony said. “If anything happens to any of us that clip is programmed to upload to the Internet, and mail itself to every major news organisation in the world. Once we destroy Doom's little stash of bots that you graciously gave us the exact address for, I'm sure he will be just dying to find the person who ratted him out.”
“I am not afraid of Doom,” Loki said quietly.
“Of course you aren't ” Tony replied sarcastically, “but the fact that you’re now an ‘Avenger’, and a traitor to your evil buddies, I think that's pretty much the equivalent of painting a big target on your back.”
Loki swallowed. “You would not dare.”
“As long as you behave yourself those clips will stay our little secret,” Tony said, and then he held his phone out, displaying a picture of Loki, face down on the carpet in a puddle of drool. “And so will this… Although it is my new phone wallpaper, so technically some people might see it… So, we have an understanding?”
“Yes,” Loki said, through gritted teeth. “Wait. Where did I leave my helmet?”
“It’s out on the patio,” Tony said. “You mistook it for a bucket during the night. It was stinking up the place.”
Loki looked out through large windows, and spotted his helmet lying forlornly in a puddle of vomit. He whimpered slightly, then flopped back down to the floor and pulled his cape over his face. “I wish I was dead. Will you just kill me now?”
“Hey, don’t forget the song lyrics. You will survive!” Tony said cheerfully. “Hey Jarvis, can you play that song? I'm in the mood for a little early morning disco music. Full blast, please.”
“Of course, sir,” Jarvis replied.
As the piano riff echoed through the tower, and Tony danced round the living room, singing at the top of his voice, Loki covered his ears and vowed to himself that he was never drinking again. Well, not for a week at least, or maybe a few days, or perhaps he would find a bar and drown his sorrows, as soon as he could find the energy to move from the floor.