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Lemon Bars

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Lightning tore across the sky as thunder shook the walls of the hospital. Large warm hands clasped thin (frail) bird-like ones. The storm outside was nothing like the storm raging was nothing compared to the storm in Thor’s heart. The monitor beeped steadily, his wife’s chest moving with shaky breaths as her IV dripped. “Jane…” He whispered brokenly, her clammy fingers pressed against his forehead.

“C-crying again?” She rasped, cracking open an eye at him.

“No,” he sighed rubbing his eyes on his sleeves and sniffling.

“Liar,” she chuckled but it dissolved into a wet cough that had him jumping up and grabbing water for her. After a few moments, she sighed, settling back into the bed. “Where’s Freya?”

“With my mom,” Thor sat on the edge of the bed, his hand enveloping hers again. “Dad had to go back to Maple Bay. She’s enjoying the pool at the hotel.” Broken blue eyes traveled over her. She was thin, almost skeletal, her doe eyes near lifeless as she blinked slowly at him. “Are you in pain?”

“I’m always in pain Thor, nothings working anymore the morphine just dulls it to a low throb.” Her hand gripped his again, “you gotta promise me something, Thor.”

“Anything Jane,”

“When I’m gone,” She held up her free hand, laying it over his lips as they opened. “Don’t, we both know how this is going to go. I’m not responding to treatment Thor, so I need you to promise me that you won’t stop your life because of this. We’ve been together for a long time, you stood by me through this. Now it’s your turn, you can be happy Thor.”

“Janey…”

“Freya needs you, she needs her Daddy Thor. Promise me you won’t stop living when I’m gone.”

He sighed as he leaned down, his lips pressing against her forehead. “I promise, I won’t stop living. But I’ll never forget about you.”

“I would hope so...after twenty years.” She laughed, coughing again and shaking her head when he grabbed the water. “I think I just need to sleep. Go and spend some time with Freya.”

“But…”

“Thor...please. I just want to sleep in peace for once. Spend time with her, she’ll be sixteen soon and then all grown up. Let me sleep, I’ll see you in the morning.” She lifted his hand to her lips brushing a kiss to his palm. “I love you, Thor.”

“I love you too Jane,” he sighed as he bent and kissed her. He helped settle her into the bed, covering her up and he turned to leave. He stopped in the doorway to see her turned on her side and smiling at him; he tried to smile back knowing it looked terrible and blew her a kiss before stepping out of the room and closing the door behind him. The uber to his parents' hotel was silent, the driver sensing that the bigger male didn’t want to talk. He watched the city flow by, traffic surprisingly light in New York but the rain had something to do with it. Lightning crossed the sky again and he glanced down at his watch seeing that it was only three in the afternoon but the dark clouds completely blocked out the sun. After pulling up to the hotel he tapped in a tip to the driver, offering a strained smile as he walked in. He looked into the pool area seeing his mother lounging and his daughter playing with a few other girls. He pushed the door open and walked in sitting by his mother's feet on the lounger making her look up from her book.

“Thor, is everything ok?” Frigga laid her hand on his shoulder as she folded her legs under her, her book resting on her lap.

Thor covered his face with his hands as his shoulders shook, “she wanted to sleep...without me there. Said i needed to spend some time with Freya.” His eyes lifted to where Freya screamed in delight splashing at a few other girls. She was stunning, her light brown hair was darker with the water and clung to her shoulders; she had her mother's slender frame and cheekbones but she had his eyes and one dimpled smile. She was his pride and joy and nearing sixteen and this was the first time that he had seen her truly smile and look her age in over six months. Janes disease had come so fast, he hated that they didn't catch it until it’s later stages after Jane had passed out at work. “Jane made me promise her that I would not stop living if...when we lose her.”

Frigga’s hand slid along his back in a soothing manner as she drew her grown son into her arms and stroked his hair. “Oh, Thor…”

“I don’t want to lose her mom,” he gasped into her shoulder as his arms wrapped around her waist. He felt like he was ten years old again, running to his mother's arms with all of his pain. “I can’t lose her.”

Frigga hummed softly, rocking her son and shaking her head as Freya finally looked in their direction and swam to the edge of the pool the question clear in her dark blue eyes. “Thor...sweety you have to think of the future. Jane knows what is going to happen...we’ve seen the results of the tests. I know it hurts son, I felt the same way when I lost my first husband, Erik. But then I met your father and I knew that while I loved Erik I also loved Odin.”

“How did you stop hurting mom?” He asked softly, closing his eyes as her fingers ran through his hair.

“I didn’t, it still hurts every day. But I have new love and I have you. Remember when you were eight and you caught me out in the garden crying?”

“I just got home from school, dad was at work but you were crying. I think you’d just moved in but I had made something for you.”

Frigga smiled, tears gathering in her eyes. “I did, I had just married your father and I was planting my garden trying to make something in a house of boys that was mine. This was before your father put me in charge of the event planning part of the company. You had come running out, you were so distressed that I was crying that you pushed the ceramic bowl into my hands. You had painted it just before Odin and I had gotten married but it took longer to get it back than you had hoped. You had painted bright sunflowers on it with happy smiling suns and it was blue as can be. It made me so happy and it was then that I realized that loving your father and moving on with my life wasn't a slight to my first love. Jane’s passing will hurt but take the moments you have with her and remember that you also have someone depending on you.”

Thor sniffled as he felt something wet plaster itself to his back and he felt skinny arms wrap around his chest. “Freya...you’re getting me soaked.” He gave a watery chuckle as he let his mother go and turned to embrace his child.

“Yet you're the one holding me now dad.”

“Well...one solution then.” Thor scooped the squealing teen into his arms and tossed her with a laugh into the pool He pulled his shirt over his head; dropping his wallet, phone, and keys onto the chair and kicked off his shoes jumping into the pool after his daughter. The girl yelped and tried to swim away laughing as he broke the surface with a splash and hauled her up into his arms roaring with victory.

“Dad put me down!” She yelled with a laugh, squirming until he dropped her. She popped up behind him wrapping her arms around his neck and sticking to his back like an octopus, “how was mom?”

“Tired baby, she was very tired.”

“Mom’s always tired...I asked my biology teacher how do we know if the treatments are working and she said that sometimes they don’t always work. Is that what’s happening to mom?”

He sighed ducking down a bit and pushing back to swim them backwards more comfortably avoiding the other people in the pool. “Yeah kiddo, that’s what's happening.”

“What are we going to do?” Freya asked softly, her chin on his shoulder.

“I don’t know,” he felt his heart tug as he shifted her around to look at her in the eye. “Whatever happens Freya we’re still going to be together. We’ll get through this I promise.”

“Can we go to Maple bay? With Nana and Papa?”

“You want to leave New York?”

She nodded, her lips pulled into a frown. “I don’t like it here dad. I know we moved here because of moms work but the kids at my school suck.”

Thor sighed and nodded, “We’ll talk about it alright? Maybe mom-”

“Thor?” Frigga called out making her son and granddaughter look up at her. She smiled and motioned them to follow her. “Let’s go and get something to eat.”

Thor turned to his kid, “you hungry?”

“Yeah!” She pushed off from his stomach making the blonde grunt as she swam to the edge and hauled herself up. She took the towel from her grandmother and began to give herself a vigorous scrub down. “C’mon dad!”

Thor shook his head as he pulled himself out and rubbed his hair with a towel before pulling it back and pulling on his shirt again. “Where are we going?”

“Shake Shack!” Freya grinned pulling on her jeans and smacking the back of her hand to her father's stomach, “since you’ve already let yourself go let’s enjoy it!”

“Ow kid, just...ow.” He laughed feeling slightly self-conscious at feeling that his own stomach wasn't as solid as it used to be. He frowned following his family out to hail a cab; he hadn’t had much of a chance to hit the gym like he normally would and he knew his physic was showing it. The rain outside had lightened up to a light drizzle but the skies were still an angry dark grey. They arrived at the restaurant, Frigga paying the cab and they walked inside; Freya bouncing happily as they ordered their food and found a spot to sit down. The three talked quietly, avoiding the topic of Jane for the time being as they ate.

“How is school going Freya?” Frigga smiled at her granddaughter, reaching out to brush her light hair away from her face and tucking it behind her ear.

“Good Nana, though I don’t like most of my classes. Math is horrible.”

“Your father was terrible at math at your age too.”

“Mom!”

“Oh stop, you were Thor. You were much happier being in shop class and rugby. Baldur was more into the numbers than you were.”

“How is Baldur? Still working for the company?”

“No actually, Baldur decided he wanted to travel around Europe.”

Thor laughed shaking his head, “sounds like him. I’ll be right back,” Thor excused himself from the table leaving the two to talk. He stood at the counter of the bathroom, letting the water wash over his hands and sighing as his thoughts strayed to Jane. The latest results had shown the cancer spreading, the double mastectomy had done nothing and recovery had been hell on the small family of three. Freya dropping out of the spring play to spend as much time at the hospital as possible. He groaned as he scrubbed damp hands over his face before grabbing a paper towel and wiping himself down, “brave face Odinson.” He muttered shaking his head as he walked back to the table. He paused as he saw his mother holding his phone, her face ghostly pale. “Mom?”

“Jane...she…” Thor quickly sat down and took the phone from her and holding it to his ear.

“Hello?”

“Mr. Odinson?” A stoic voice asked.

“Yes, my wife-”

“I’m sorry to tell you this, Mrs. Odinson passed away twenty minutes ago.”

“You...you couldn't revive her?” He asked sharply.

“She didn’t tell you? Your wife signed a DNR, I had assumed she discussed this with you?”

“No...no she didn’t. W-what happened?”

“It was peaceful, she simply...slipped away. I am very sorry for your loss, we will need you here to sign the papers and release her to you.”

“Yeah...yeah, I’ll be there soon.” Thor slowly lowered the phone, disconnecting the call and looking at his mother. “Mom…”

“Let’s go call a cab son,” Frigga said softly.

“Dad?” Freya asked, her dark blue eyes brimming with tears.

Thor’s own throat swelled with emotion and he reached over to take her hand as he bowed his head; a choked sob breaking from his throat. He felt a hand on his shoulder and his head lowered to the table as he sobbed.

~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~

Thor stood with his head bowed as he clasped what remained of his wife against his chest. It had been two weeks since her passing and they had flown to Maple Bay to lay Jane to rest. Freya stood close to his side, her head bowed as the Priest spoke the final rights. Jane’s only wish had been to be cremated and her organs donated; he had honored her wishes but he had asked to give her a proper burial to rest her ashes in the family plot. Thunder rolled overhead and Thor took in the scent of rain. He lifted his eyes as he heard the end of the Priest’s prayer, “they bid me to take my place among them in the halls of Valhalla where the brave may live forever.” Thor’s heart clenched as he heard soft murmurs from his family and friends.

“Thor?” Frigga asked softly, her hand resting over his. “It’s time,” she gently lead him forward, Odin holding open the door to the family crypt.

The blonde moved numbly forward, placing the stylized urn on one of the shelves. The family bend their heads in prayer before stepping out once more, a broken sob leaving Thor’s lips as the doors to the crypt closed. His Jane was gone and he felt his heart breaking in two; he moved as if in a fog, the wake being held at his family’s large estate. Freya sat next to her father, her hand running along his back as he stared blankly at the floor. “Dad…”

“She’s gone Freya...I can’t…” Thor covered his face with his hands as his shoulders shook.

His daughter's slender arms wrapped around his shoulders as she pressed her face into his neck. “I know dad...I know.” She whispered softly as his shoulders shook and they sobbed quietly together.

Chapter Text

Loki hummed and swayed to the music in his kitchen, the bright smell of lemon filled the Tuscan inspired room as the sun moved from morning to afternoon. He heard the stumble of feet on the stairs and shook his head, “ah the young Master finally rises.”

“Yeah, yeah. Please tell me there’s coffee,” Loki didn’t turn, simply pointing to his left and chuckling as a mop of unruly black hair came into his line of sight. A smile pulled at the elder's lips as he looked at his son from the corner of his eye. Fenrir had just turned 17 before the end of the school year and was sprouting up like a weed, already nearly passing his father in height though he had yet to really fill out his limbs. Loki’s black hair had been passed down, however, Fenrir’s eyes had shifted during his infancy from green to a more blue/green that shifted in shades with his mood, and were just as expressive as his own. “Can you stop creeping dad? Jesus, it’s too early for that shit.”

“Can a father not admire the perfection that is is spawn?” Loki’s lips pulled into a smirk as Fenrir groaned practically dipping his nose into his coffee.

“Daaaaaad.”

Loki cackled as he opened the oven and checked on the lemon bars, the scent of warm citrus filling the kitchen. “Yes, son?”

Fenrir poked his head over his father’s shoulder and took a tentative sniff of the sweet treat. “Ok who died?”

Emerald eyes went wide as Loki’s head whipped around so quickly he nearly clocked his nose into the sharp line of Fenrir’s cheek. “What the hell Fen?”

“You only bake those when someone dies. Oh god was it Uncle Helblindi? Please tell me it was and he left me that sweet ass ATV…”

“First off, greedy, you should ask for the boat, and second no one died. We have new neighbors moving in and I thought my lemon bars would be perfect to welcome them into the neighborhood.”

“Sooo...you’re hoping for a single dad so that you can get laid?” Fenrir yelped as Loki’s tea towel snapped against his bare calf.

“Quiet, you. Hurry up and go get dressed you still have camp this afternoon.” A booming bark sounded from the other side of the house and Loki sighed as he pulled out the finished lemon bars to cool. “And take Sleipnir on his walk, he’s getting antsy.”

Fenrir nodded as he plucked up an apple and bounded back up the stairs, leaving Loki to clean up from his baking adventure. Once finished, he picked up his son's abandoned full mug of coffee and, with a smug smile, walked out to the front porch to enjoy the early summer breeze. He glanced over to the house on his right, the bright white and red SOLD sign glittered in the late morning sun before taking a quick step to the side at the sounds coming towards the door. With a booming bark, Loki’s prized Tibetan Mastiff thundered through the front door and down the steps with Fenrir on his tail with his skateboard, narrowly missing Loki. He shook his head as he chuckled, watching his son and dog hang left. He drained the last of his coffee and stepped back inside; music ran through his head as he thought on what plays to do for the high school he taught at. His fingers tapped out the beat along the wall as he danced his way back into the kitchen, deft fingers plucking up a knife to begin cutting the bars and placing them onto a plate.

If you were gaaaayyyy. I’d shout hooray!

“Good morning Siggy,” Loki hummed as he tapped his bluetooth and listened to her lyrical laugh in his ear.

“More like afternoon Lo,” the smile in Sigyn’s voice could be heard.

“Hm, suppose it is. What brings you to brighten up my morning?”

“Can I not call my ex hubby to simply wish him a lovely day?”

“Of course darling, but you must remember I can see right through your bullshit.”

“So rude,” Sigyn pouted before sighing. “I was calling to see how Fenrir was...I know he was supposed to come to Berlin this summer to work with me and ‘Mora but with Enchantress Designs hosting I would have been so busy that he would have been bored.”

“Yes, a seventeen-year-old boy alone in Berlin would have been bored.” Loki laughed, “he’s alright Siggy, he was bummed but I got him into that camp he was looking at.”

“The musical workshop?”

“Yes up at Camp Dancing Through Life.”

“Who’s running it this year? Anyone you know?”

“Actually yes, you remember Natasha right?”

“The one who saved your ass from the school board when you put on a production of Avenue Q?”

Loki laughed as he wrapped the plate with plastic wrap, “that’s her.”

“Oh how wonderful, so our son doesn’t hate me for backing out on his trip abroad?”

Loki sighed, “he never has hated you Siggy. He’s surprisingly understanding...more so than I was at that age.”

“At that age we were in Milan slipping away from your brothers so that we could go have some fun without Laufey breathing down our necks.”

He laughed shaking his head as he leaned against the counter looking out the window but seeing his youth instead of the vacant house next door. He remembered being the ‘bad boy’ of his overly religious family; it had taken significant whiddling to his mother who wore down his father to let him model. The promise of controlling his money until he turned 21 seemed to help as well. Sigyn had been his best friend and they were hired on by the same modeling company, Taveen’s Collections, and traveled all over the world from the time they were 17. He and Sigyn had been friends since they were little, both the odd man out in their families and forming a fast friendship. As a joke, they had sent headshots into an amateur modeling contest and were snatched up by a rising star company. Their first major show had been in the fashion capital of the world, Paris France, and had somehow managed to headline for top designers. Loki didn’t remember much from the afterparty riding high on their success until two months later Sigyn informed him she was pregnant.

“Loki!” The shrill shout in his ear made the man flinch.

“Fuck Sig, what the hell?”

“Did you not hear a word I said?”

Loki rolled his eyes, “of course I did.”

“Then what did I say?” He could practically hear her foot tapping in the background as he tried to come up with a plausible lie. “Yeah that’s what I thought, what were you thinking about?”

“Just thinking of how we got here Siggy.”

“Got where? Are you ok?”

“Stop worrying you old biddy, I’m perfectly fine.”

“Old Biddy?!” She squawked in his ear making him flinch again, “I am younger than you you...you dino dick!”

There was a pause before Loki doubled over, clutching at his stomach while he laughed. “Dino dick? Is that the best you can come up with?”

“Fuck you Mr. Laufeyson,” she pouted over the phone.

“And fuck you too Ms. Laufeyson.” He shot back making her laugh. The rumble of a truck caught his attention and he glanced back out the window. “Hey Sig, I gotta go. The new neighbors just arrived and I want to welcome them to the neighborhood.”

“Oh god you baked your lemon bars, didn’t you? You thirsty bitch.”

“Well now I see where our son gets it from,” he huffed listening to her laugh again. “I’ll let Fen know you called, he’ll probably want to skype with you and ‘Mora tonight to tell you about his first day at camp.”

“Thanks luv, now go get you some. You’re so crabby without a good dicking!” She blew a kiss into the phone and quickly hung up leaving Loki rolling his eyes as he stepped into the guest bathroom downstairs and checked his appearance. He pulled the hair tie keeping his hair up and out of his face out and shook his hair into place. The onyx strands fell around his shoulders and he quickly ran a brush through it to undo the kink in his hair from the band. He nodded at his reflection and picked up the plate on his way out of the house. A light summer breeze had picked up and he smiled seeing the large yellow moving truck and two cars pulling up to the side of the road. One was a large dark red Range Rover and the other was a sleek sporty looking dark green Jag. He saw the doors to the Jaguar open and a streak of light brown hair as a young girl around Fenrir’s age jumped out grinning at the classy looking woman who stepped out of the car, flicking her sunglasses into her midnight colored hair. He watched as three men piled out of the range rover, all large with broad shoulders and dark hair in varying lengths and clad in blue jeans and tight T-shirts. Loki heard a booming laugh as the door to the moving van opened and his jaw dropped as he saw a large man stepping out of the front of the truck. His blonde hair was like the sun with broad shoulders and a tapered waist though there was a softness to him that made Loki want to reach out and touch. He watched in awe as the blonde giant caught the sprightly girl in his arms and swung her around. Loki was enraptured by his strength at how he lifted a nearly full grown woman clean off her feet and his mind began wondering just how well the Adonis could lift him.

Loki quickly shook those thoughts from his mind as he smiled and walked over, “good afternoon!” He called making the blonde jump and turn around. Loki was floored by the pair of stunning blue eyes that met his, fine lines around them indicated the man smiled a lot and Loki felt his heart hammer in his chest. “I’m your new neighbor, figured I would introduce myself and bring you a little ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ treat. I’m Loki.”

The blonde smiled as he took his hand, his large one easily swallowing Loki’s slender fingers. “Thor, and this is my daughter Freya.” He let go of Loki and let his hand drop onto the girl’s slender shoulders.

Loki smiled and handed her the plate. “I hope you like lemon bars, best in the county or so everyone tells me at the school bake sales.”

“Oh, perfect!” She took the plate and turned tail running around the truck and up the stairs to the house where the woman stood watching them.

“Freya…” Thor sighed shaking his head and rubbing the back of his neck with a bashful smile. “Teenagers...I swear she has manners.”

“It’s alright, my own son is the same way you’d swear he was raised by wolves the way he acts sometimes.” He glanced up to see Freya talking with the woman and he tapped his fingers against his collarbone. “Wife?”

“Huh?” Thor’s head whipped around and a semi-panicked look crossed his face, “no no oh hell no. That’s my older sister Hela.” Thor blushed hotly as he raked his hand through his hair upsetting the wild blonde strands. “I um...It’s just me and Freya, my wife passed away last October.”

“Oh...oh I am so sorry. Sigyn often says I have the tact of a charging bull.”

“Sigyn is your wife?”

“Ex-wife, I’ll have to tell you the story over coffee sometime,” he smiled charmingly at the man. A loud bark sounded and Loki looked down to see a chubby basset hound plop itself onto Thor’s feet and bark once more up at Loki. It’s drooping face flapped, making the younger man laugh softly. “And who is this?”

“Freya’s dog, Idunn, she’s friendly I swear just more bark than bite...probably why she’s so fat.” Thor bounced his foot making the hound dog jiggle and Loki knelt down to let her sniff at his hand.

“She’s beautiful, aren’t you?” He cooed as she dropped down rolling over for belly pats that the dark haired male gladly gave.

“Norns be damned Thor we aren’t moving your house in for you!” A mop of black hair poked around the edge of the van. “Oh, who’s this?”

“Loki this is my little brother Tyr, Tyr this is Loki my new neighbor.”

“You look familiar…” Tyr squinted his eyes. “Oh! You’re the drama director over at Valhalla Prep, the one who nearly got lynched for doing Avenue Q for the spring musical a couple of years back.”

Loki blushed hotly as he pushed himself up and slid his hands into his pockets. “Yes, that was me. It’s not nearly as controversial as people think it is-”

“Calling everyone out for being racist and making internet porn jokes is pretty controversial.”

“Tyr,” Thor groaned swatting at his brother. “Ignore him, I swear mom dropped him on his head as a baby.”

“It’s alright, I’m lucky to have the friends I have and to have tenure that really saved my job.”

“So you teach over at Valhalla Prep? I graduated from there, Freya is starting as a Sophomore in the fall.”

Loki opened his mouth to say something when a booming bark sounded and several voices shouting. The three men bounded their way around the truck to see Sleipnir standing on his hind legs and lapping at another man’s face as he laughed rubbing through the dog's thick fur and Loki saw his son running up. “Fenrir what...oh hello Hermond.” Loki laughed catching sight of the man his dog was viciously slobbering to death. “Sleipnir get down you brute!” He snapped his fingers and the dog gave a low drawn out whine before trotting over and plopping down at Loki’s feet.

“Hey Loki, I see you met my brothers,” the man grinned his shoulder-length dark hair pulled up into a messy bun as he wiped dog slobber from the scruff on his face. “Wasn’t expecting to see you around these parts.”

“I live next door,” he saw Fenrir skating leisurely over to them, his headphones in and he shook his head at his son. “What are you doing Fen?”

“He got really excited when he saw Coach Hermond. Damned dog is stronger than I am.”

“Language you heathen,” Loki sighed shaking his head. “It’s a shock to see you here Hermond.”

“Just moving my brother and niece into town.” The man chuckled as he bent and picked up the box he had set down to get an arm full of dog.

“Didn’t know you knew my brother,” Thor’s deep voice in the drama teacher's ear made him jump and he turned his head to see Thor smiling at him.

“I would say small town but we’re in Maple Bay.”

“Small community,” Thor laughed.

“Quite. Fen, go get ready for camp and take Sleipnir into the house with you.” Loki watched as his son rolled his eyes whistling for the dog and taking off to the house. “I’m sure you’ll see more of him,” he chuckled.

“Fenrir’s a good kid,” Hermond laughed as he walked back into the house.

“Looks just like you,” Thor said softly running his hand through his hair.

“Much to my ex-wives grief, she swears that she birthed a clone and not a child of our mixed blood.”

“Dad! We’re going to be late!” Freya yelled as she bounded down the stairs and skidded to a halt, looking up at Loki with large dark blue eyes. “Oh...um...the lemons bars were great!” She said with a smile, the single dimple on her mouth showing.

“And you didn’t save me one?”

Freya’s hand came up to pat at her father's stomach, “I think you’re good without them dad.”

“Ouch kid...ouch.”

Loki laughed shaking his head, “I can make you more some other time.”

“Oh no, I’m only-”

“No no, I insist.” A silence settled over them, Loki feeling himself blush.

“I should...I need to get this one up to her musical camp and get back to unpack-”

“She wouldn’t happen to be going to Camp Dancing Through Life would she?”

“Um...yes yes she is. How did you know?”

“My son is going there as well, if you would like I can take her as well, so that you can unpack and get settled in.”

“Oh..that-”

“Dad, please? You were just complaining about the long drive to the lake and needing to get unpacked and settled into the kitchen.”

“Thor! Move your ass, your shit is heavy!” Another man yelled as he struggled with a heavy looking dresser with Tyr.

“It’s really no trouble Thor, we’re neighbors and we can work out a carpool thing since this camp thing is four days a week.”

Thor smiled softly and nodded, pushing his hair behind one of his ears. “Thank you Loki, I appreciate it. How about I make you and Fenrir dinner on Sunday, as a thank you for the lemon bars and offering to take Freya with you.”

“It’s a date,” Loki grinned, motioning for Freya to follow him. “Off we go then.”

“Bye dad!” Freya darted off after the dark-haired male and Thor sighed rubbing his hand against his chest as he felt his heart hammer. He watched as Loki’s son joined them, the three of them getting into the teacher’s car and Freya waving as they drove off. He shook the thoughts of the beautiful man next door out of his head and went to help unload the truck.

He grunted as he carried an armchair with Baldur on the other side of it into the living room to see Hela on the floor next to the fireplace and sorting through a box. He gently set the chair down and walked over to her as she held up a small box and his heart sank. “Hopefully she’ll be happy here with us.” He said softly.

“Jane's gone little brother,” Hela said softly as she opened the box. A crystal vial filled with pale ashes rested in the dark blue velvet that lined the box; Thor’s solid gold band and Jane’s more dainty diamond-encrusted ring were slipped over the vial. “She wouldn’t want you to wallow in pain and misery your whole life. This is your new start Thor, yours and Freya’s.” Her forest colored eyes looked into his. “Now let’s get you unpacked. I have books to keep to get you on properly in the company. We have a big wedding this weekend and the couple ordered the deluxe Golden Palace package.” She placed the box onto the mantel and smacked her brother in the shoulder to get him moving. Thor cast a final glance to the box before sighing and pressing a fist to his back and stretching out the kinks to go and help his brothers unload the bedroom furniture.

Chapter Text

A few hours later, Thor waved his siblings off and looked over his front lawn. The house still needed major unpacking but the unkempt grass of the lawn was making him twitchy. He hummed as he grabbed his mower and set to work, falling into a meditative state. After twenty minutes he paused, pulling his shirt over his head and wiping at the sweat on his brow before adjusting his hair to gather the limp strands that had fallen out back into the messy top-knot. He pulled out his phone and smiled at the Snapchat from Freya at the gates of the camp and a text saying she was going to get a ride back with Fenrir and Loki. Thor’s mind wandered over to his new neighbor; the man was beautiful, something fresh out of some painting of a nobleman in a museum somewhere and Thor felt his heartache. Jane had known about his bisexuality; having even met (and befriended) his high school sweetheart who now worked for his family's company. The thought of finding someone beautiful after losing Jane so soon somehow felt like a betrayal to her and the chef sighed as he scrubbed his hands over his face. Twin barks made Thor jump and turn to see two men walking over, a leash in their hands and two absolutely beautiful golden labs with them.

“You must be the new neighbor,” the blonde said with a winning smile. “We were wondering who was moving into the old Coulson house.”

Thor gave a small smile in return as he flicked off his mower and jogged over, feeling slightly self-conscious as he looked the two over. The blonde was his height with a militant cut and no shirt, showing off a ridiculously chiseled eight-pack. The man next to him was only a few inches shorter with long chocolate brown hair pulled up into a high ponytail. He was shirtless as well, the sun glinting off an impressive looking robotic arm. Both of them had blue eyes, the blondes were more like a jewel with the outer part dark and lighter as they went in and the brunettes were like twin pieces of ice. “Yeah, I’m Thor Odinson.”

“Odinson?” The blonde asked, “honey didn’t we get married by someone named Odinson?”

“No, his name was Odin though.”

“My dad,” Thor offered, “probably...if you used Asgard Event and Catering for your wedding.”

They both grinned, “we did! They did a fantastic job, I’m Steve Rogers by the way.”

“James Rogers, but everyone calls me Bucky.”

Thor nodded as he shook their hands, “pleasure to meet you both.” He glanced down as the two dogs barked at him demanding attention and Idunn’s bark sounded from the backyard in retaliation. “Sorry, Idunn hasn’t seen many dogs living in the upper East side apartments.”

“No worries, Sam and Dean are super friendly even with other dogs around. A few of us even get together twice a week for doggie dates. Your neighbor has a gorgeous Tibetan Mastiff.” Steve smiled.

“We’re acquainted,” Thor laughed. “The pup tried to slobber my little brother to death.”

“Oh, so you met Loki?” Bucky arched an eyebrow.

“Oh, um, yes. He brought over lemon bars to welcome us to the neighborhood.” He watched as the two exchanged a look. “What?”

“Nothing!” Bucky said quickly, “so is it just you? Awfully big house for one man.”

“Bucky…” Steve groaned pinching the bridge of his nose.

“What?”

Thor chuckled softly rubbing the back of his neck self consciously. “No...it’s not just me. My daughter is here.”

“How old?”

“Sixteen going on twenty. Wants total independence.”

“Kids do that. I coach little league and young men’s basketball at the YMCA.” Steve laughed, “They always think they’re the big man on campus and that they know everything.”

“So...just you and your kid?” The brunette grunted at a well-placed elbow from his husband and rubbed his ribs.

“Yeah,” Thor rubbed his neck again his other hand resting on the slight muffin top he was starting to get. This would be the second time bringing it up today a new record for him, “my wife passed away in October. New York wasn’t for me or Freya so we moved back here. She starts at Valhalla Prep in August.”

Steve nodded his head in understanding, “I lost my first wife while she was overseas for the UN. We never got the chance to have kids.”

Thor watched as Bucky ran his hand along Steve’s back and the chef ached to have something like what the two before him had. He opened his mouth to say something when a strange chittering made him pause. “What the-”

“Having a party without me? How rude.” A voice teased making Thor turn to see a short but good-looking man walk over to them. His dark hair was artfully spiked with a trimmed mustache and goatee and sunglasses over his eyes. Something glittered and drew Thor’s eyes down to a bright pink and rhinestone encrusted leash leading down to-

“What in the Nine Realms is that?” Thor’s eyes were wide as he took in the strange looking animal that the two golden labs were nuzzling.

Steve and Bucky let out barks of laughter, doubling over at Thor’s confused look and the newcomer's pout. “Thor, meet the cul-de-sac’s eccentric uncle, Tony Stark-Strange.”

“And that is his capybara, Princess Peach.”

“Princess...Peach?” Thor looked down at the animal who had wandered over to his leg and nudged at him.

Tony shrugged flicking his sunglasses up and exposing a pair of dark brown eyes. “My son named her, can’t deny my kid anything.” His eyes roamed over Thor’s form, taking in the broad shoulders, tapered waist, and slight chub that was oddly endearing on the man. “You must be the newbies that Wanda moved in.”

“Um...yes?”

Steve chuckled giving Thor’s shoulder a pat. “We know your realtor. You went through M&M Reality right?”

“How did you know?”

Bucky pointed to a house on the corner with a small smirk, “She lives right there, her brother is right across the street making up the second M.”

The chef’s brow drew down as he looked down at the house and sure enough saw a bright bounce of red hair and a streak of platinum blonde chase after her into a small PT Cruiser that held the reality company logo that he had used on the back window. “Well, I’ll be damned.” He laughed softly shaking his head. “Small world.”

“Considering there are three other kids besides yours that goes to Valhalla Prep,” Steve laughed.

“Another VP Valkyrie?” Tony asked eyeing Thor again.

“And graduate,” Thor puffed out his chest. “My daughter Freya starts in August.”

“What year? My son Peter is a Sophomore.”

“So’s my Freya.”

Steve and Bucky glanced at each other trying not to laugh as the two locked eyes, attempting to glare each other down. “They keep eyefucking like that and Stephen might grow jealous.” A low baritone sounded to the right of Bucky making the brunette squeak and jump, disturbing the small group.

“Goddamnit T’Challa! I am putting a fucking bell around your neck.” He growled, glaring daggers at the shit eating grin the dark male next to him had on his face.

“You should not be so easy to startle Mr. Best-Seller.” T’Challa clapped a hand to his shoulder, dark eyes traveling over to Thor and arching an eyebrow. “You must be the new family that Wanda moved in.”

“I must stick out like a sore thumb,” Thor joked.

“The house sat empty for almost a year. We’ve been wondering who was going to snatch it up.” His hand reached down to scratch the absolutely beautiful (but huge) cat sitting by his feet behind the ears.

“Your cat is...wearing a harness?”

“I should...amend what I said earlier,” Steve grinned, “when I said doggie dates I really should have said pet dates.”

“Bast is a sweetheart,” T’challa laughed. “But Savannah cats are one step away from a serval and can be leash trained.”

Tony wearily eyed the cat as the cat eyed Princess Peach, “your beast is eyeing my Princess.”

“Perhaps you shouldn’t have an oversized rodent outside of the house.”

“Is that your official opinion your highness?” Tony scoffed rolling his eyes.

“Lived here almost ten years and you still take the potshot.”

“Boys behave. You’ll scare off the new neighbor that Loki baked lemon bars for.” Steve interjected smoothly making the two men freeze.

Thor arched an eyebrow, “should I be worried about the lemon bars?”

“No!” Four voices shouted in unison not making the blonde feel any better about said lemon bars.

“Loki’s lemon bars are simply the best,” T’challa said with a smile.

“Well...I wouldn’t know considering Freya took them and ran.”

Tony barked out a laugh before a car honking caught his attention. “My honey is home. See everyone later! C’mon Princess,” he clicked his tongue and strolled across the street whistling what sounded suspiciously like Black Sabbath’s Ironman .

“Oh,” T’Challa laughed turning to watch Tony. “I’ll be bringing Peter home around eleven tonight!” He called after him, seeing Tony wave over his shoulder before turning back to Thor. “We didn’t get a proper introduction. I’m T’Challa, I live next door to you.”

“I’m Thor,” The blonde’s brow drew down. “Do you share custody of Peter with Tony?”

“Share-Oh!” The darker male smiled and laughed, his eyes crinkling as Steve and Bucky laughed as well. “No, no, Peter went with my little sister, Shuri, to our home country...to properly introduce him to our mother.”

“Home country?”

Bucky smiled, “T’Challa is the King of Wakanda.”

“Bucky-” The man groaned.

“Wait...what?”

T’Challa sighed, “technically my mother is Queen-Regent while Shuri and I work here in Maple Bay. Wakanda will forever be home but with no outward ties to the world our country will die.”

“That and you love your wellness spa way too much.” Bucky laughed ducking behind Steve as T’Challa swatted at him.

“You run a wellness spa?”

“Kimoyo Wellness Retreat,” his chest puffed up in pride as he smiled. “Providing mental and physical wellness for the last ten years. What do you do for work?”

“I was head chef at Maze in New York. Now I’m here taking over as catering director for Asgard, my families company.”

“As-oh! They are one of my partner companies. I work closely with Frigga and my retreat is in one of their packages...the All-Mother’s Garden package.”

Thor’s face softened as a smile played on his lips, “my mom. She’s the head of Event Planning.”

“She’s a lovely woman. Your father is a lucky man to have her.”

A beeping made the four men jump and Bucky grinned sheepishly as he pulled out his phone. “My editor...he’s on my ass about this new book. I better get home.”

Thor smiled as he rubbed his hands on his pants. “I should finish at least putting Freya’s bed together and probably finish mowing before the HOA gets on my ass.” The blonde watched as Bucky and T’Challa howled in laughter and Steve blushed hotly. “Let me guess...Steve is the head of the HOA?”

“Guilty,” the man chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck. “We weren’t going to say anything because you just moved in and didn’t want you to be intimidated.” He scuffed his shoe against the ground with a bashful smile. “Don’t worry too much about the lawn, we would rather have you and Freya settled in first. You made good headway with the forest it was starting to become.”

“I should have it finished by the fourth at least.”

“Speaking of the fourth, the cul-de-sac has a huge party. You and Freya are more than welcome to join us.” Steve grinned, “we even get some pretty fun stuff for the kids. Clint and Natasha break out the best paintball gear and everyone brings out some good food before Bruce, Tony, and Vision bring out the best fireworks. It would be a great way for you to get to know the neighborhood.”

“That sounds great, I’ll have to ask Freya what she wants to do.” Thor waved as the three men split off each heading to their own homes and Thor leaned against his fence looking at the cul-de-sac. A smile played on his lips as he felt the breeze and the sun on his shoulders. “I think we’re going to fit in just fine Jane...just keep watch over Freya.” He whispered to the wind before making his way back to the mower to finish up the lawn and head inside.

~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~~::~

God of Thunder...and Rock and Roll, ” Thor bobbed along to the music, singing slightly off-key as he broke in the kitchen. The sun was starting to set, casting fiery streaks of orange and pink across the darkening sky and Thor was at home in his new kitchen. The two-level home was cozy, not as sleek or modern as their old flat in New York was and he found that he liked it better this way. The kitchen was bigger than the one in the flat making the chef giddy with the promise of what the oven could do and the massive stove. It really was the selling point for him and the three massive bedrooms upstairs helped since it meant Freya got her own walk-in closet and bathroom.

“I’m home!” Freya yelled as she barreled through the door, Idunn barking happily as the dog scrambled to her kid and tripped over her ears on the way out of the kitchen.

Thor laughed as he cleaned his hands on the towel at his waist and walked out into the entryway. “Hey kiddo,” he smiled as he watched her plop down with the dog. The blonde paused as he saw Loki standing awkwardly in the doorway, Freya’s brightly colored bag in his hand. “Loki…”

“Hello Thor,” the slimmer man smiled, brushing his hair behind his ear and holding up the bag. “Freya got so excited to be home she nearly left her bag in my car.”

Thor smiled as he reached the door, reaching out for the bag and jolting at the shock of electricity when his fingers brushed against Loki’s. He cleared his throat and handed the bag to Freya. “Go and wash up for dinner kid. Then you can tell me all about camp.”

“Sure dad!” She jumped up grabbing her bag only to have Thor grab her by the back of her shirt.

“Hold your horses brat,” he laughed. “What do you say to Loki for taking you to camp?”

“Oh, she-”

“Thank you Mr. Laufeyson! And tell your son he needs to work on his bitch face for Danny or he’s going to end up as Kenickie!” She laughed darting up the stairs and Thor groaned scrubbing a hand over his face.

“She gets that from her aunt,” Thor offered a small smile. “Thank you for taking her Loki.”

“She’s an absolute delight Thor, a bit rough around the edges but she’s a bright girl.” Loki let his eyes roam over Thor’s form a smile tugging at his thin lips. The shirt Thor wore was sinfully tight and rode up a bit on the muffin top he had going on. Loki bit his lip, folding his hands behind his back to stop himself from reaching out to the bigger man. “They are putting on Grease for the summer camp. She’s wanting Sandy but I think she would make a wonderful Rizzo.”

Thor gave a bashful grin as he rubbed the back of his neck, his shirt riding up his soft stomach a bit. “You lost me...I wasn’t much for the arts at VP. Graduated Valedictorian but I was on the rugby team.”

“Ah, so the jock.” Emerald eyes twinkled as Loki teased him, making the blonde blush.

“Something like that, hey do you want to stay for dinner? I made chicken cordon bleu with garlic and butter whipped potatoes and my signature rosemary and thyme rolls.”

“I would love to, but I have class syllabi due and proposals for the school plays for this year.” Loki sighed, regretting turning down the beautiful man before him.

“Freya’s going with my sister tomorrow afternoon, please come over and let me treat you to lunch as a thank you for driving Freya to camp.”

“You already offered me dinner on Sunday.”

“That was for the lemon bars, which I think must be an inside joke for the neighborhood.”

Loki’s eyes went wide as a blush colored his high cheekbones. “I...guess you met some of the other folks around the cul-de-sac?” He laughed nervously twisting a lock of hair around his finger.

“Steve, Bucky, Tony, and T’Challa.” Thor nodded feeling a bit of satisfaction at seeing the man ruffled a bit.

“Think of them as the desperate housewives of the neighborhood….they do love their gossip. And live to tease the fuck out of me.”

Thor chewed on his lip, mulling over what he wanted to say before simply going for it, Jane’s words echoing in his head. “If this is the reaction that comes from teasing you I might have to jump on board.” Thor’s flirting was rusty as all get out, but they gave the desired effect of deepening the teachers blush.

“Well...coming from you teasing might not be so bad.” Loki smiled as he bit his lip, “I should get going. I’ll be over tomorrow at noon?”

“I’ll be waiting with something spectacular.”

“I’ll bring my appetite.” Loki’s eyes glittered as he inclined his head and turned to head back to his home.

Thor slowly closed the door and sighed as he let his head thunk against the door. Jane’s voice echoed in his head again and her final words both a balm and a lance to his heart. She wanted him to move on, to continue to live his life. He sighed as he heard the kitchen timer go off and he pushed away from the door. “C’mon Freya! Dinner’s ready!” He yelled up the stairs heading into the kitchen to plate up dinner and plan lunch for the next day.

 

Chapter Text

“Daaaaad! Aunt Hela is here!” Freya’s scream from the foyer made the blonde jolt out of his daydreaming. He blinked rapidly and turned away from the window where he saw Loki in his backyard giving Sleipnir wearing only a pair of athletic shorts. He blushed hotly as he turned back to the papers and books in front of him as he tried to shake the thoughts that were in his head as if to dislodge them.

“Let her in you heathen!” He yelled back from his space at the kitchen island. "And take Idunn for her walk!” Shaking his head again he laughed softly as he heard the front door slam and Idunn’s raspy bark.

“You almost sound like father,” Hela hummed as she walked into the kitchen. Her summer green eyes traveled over the room, taking in the warm dark marble counters and gleaming silver appliances. The room was inviting and warm done in dark woods and creamy beiges and it made the elder woman smile as she finally looked over her brother. He looked a bit better than the last time she had seen him, his skin less sallow and the bags under his eyes were fading away slowly. They hadn’t had a chance to spend much time together since he had moved back and as head of the payroll department, she only saw him in passing with no reason to set foot into the catering kitchen. Before his move back she had only seen him twice a year for holidays and she felt a bit of disdain for her late sister-in-law. Hela had never really gotten along with Jane, but she knew the happiness she had brought her brother in their marriage and she was the mother of Freya, the light of the Odinson clan. Seeing the pain her passing had caused her brother nearly broke the woman’s heart but she was glad to see that some of Thor’s spark was back in his eyes.

“I can hear you thinking ‘La.” Thor rumbled, not looking up from the recipe book he was thumbing through.

“That’s a shock,” she snorted, slipping into a bar stool and folding her arms in front of her to lean forward and look at what he was doing.

Thor lifted his eyes to look up at her; she wore a simple dark green blouse with her hair in an intricate braid to keep it off her neck in the midsummer heat. “Dad doing ok?” He pushed himself away from the counter and pulled out a pitcher of iced tea from his fridge, grabbing two glasses to serve it up.

“Oh, fathers fine. You know he’s a tough old bastard...too tough really. Frigga is making sure he follows the doctor's orders.” She chuckled, taking a drink of the tea and shaking her head, “how is Freya taking the news that the family camping trip was canceled?”

“She’s a resilient kid, I think she was more freaked out by dad suddenly dropping like that at dinner. She’s not used to him doing that...hell I’m not used to it.” Thor frowned as he thought back to how Odin had collapsed at dinner a few nights ago and he sighed. “We should probably talk him and mom into stepping down and handing over the company. They aren’t getting any younger…”

“Frigga is twelve years younger than father and you know she wears him out like no other,” Hela smirked as she folded her arms; delighted in the full body shudder her brother gave.

“You are so fucked in the head ‘La,” Thor laughed throwing a wadded up towel at the laughing woman.

She caught it and folded it up, her fingers smoothing out the rough fabric. “How are you, Thor? I know father collapsing like that really spooked you too. You haven’t been around for his attacks.”

The blonde sighed, raking his fingers through his hair. “I knew about them, mom would tell us what was going on and Jane would talk to his doctors before...well you know.” He sighed as he braced his arms on the countertop, his large hands wrapped around his drink as he bowed his head.

Hela reached out and wrapped slender fingers around his wrist, “Thor-”

The door slammed open making the two wince and thundering feet could be heard in the foyer. “Dad! Mr. Rogers is here to talk to you!”

“Mr...Rogers?” Hela’s lips twitched as she watched Freya bolted up the stairs and Steve walked into the kitchen.

“Oh, you have company. I’m sorry.” Steve smiled rubbing the back of his neck.

“No problem Steve. This is my sister Hela Odindotter, Hela my neighbor Steve Rogers.”

“Pleasure to meet you, ma’am.” He flashed her a winning smile as he held out his hand for her.

“You as well,” Hela nodded shaking his hand.

“What brings you by?” Thor asked.

“Just making my rounds, wanting to see if you were coming to the party tonight. The whole cul-de-sac is going to be there and it’ll be a good chance for you to meet the neighbors that you haven't met yet.”

“There’s a party and you didn’t tell me?” Hela arched an eyebrow looking at her brother, a smirk playing on her thin lips.

“Um…”

Thor rolled his eyes, “don’t mind her. She’s getting bitchy with age.” Thor grinned at his sisters’ squawk of outrage. “What time does everything start?”

“Grills get broken out at five but everyone starts gathering up at about three. Loki’s got a table set up for all the treats while myself, Logan, and Clint all have our grills in the front. Charles and Erik are covering the drinks this year and somehow Tony managed to get a bounce house.” Steve laughed at the wide-eyed look the siblings gave him and he rubbed the back of his head. “I told you it’s a huge affair…”

“Right, right I’m just...shocked.” Thor laughed, “is it alright if my brothers and Hela come? Our folks are out of town and we haven’t had a family get together in a couple of years.”

“Absolutely! All the Lehnsherr-Xavier clan shows up we generally have around 30-40 people for these block parties.” Steve grinned as he looked down at his watch, “oh hey I have to get going, gotta go pick up the order from the butcher. We’ll see you in a couple of hours right?”

“Sure will,” Thor grinned as he waved the man off and turned back to Hela. “So...think you can help make enough Ambrosia for 100 people?”

The elder snorted as she pushed herself up, “give me your card I’ll grab the boys and pick up supplies while you start getting prepped.”

Thor smirked, “always taking the easy way out.”

“I don’t spend $150 on my manicures to mess it up by cooking.” She laughed shouldering her purse again, holding out her hand expectantly.

The blonde sighed as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet and pulled out his card. “Freya!”

“What?” Freya asked, her head poking around the corner.

“Go with your aunt to pick up your uncles and grab stuff for Ambrosia Salad. We need all hands on deck to make enough to impress the neighborhood.”

“You mean impress Mr. Laufeyson,” she muttered making Hela arch an eyebrow.

“Who’s Mr. Laufeyson?”

“No one!” Thor hurried, casting a glare to his child who simply smirked at him. It was scary how much she resembled her aunt at that moment.

“Well, in that case, it sounds like we need some gossip time. Come along Lightning Bug.” Hela smirked at her brother’s groan at her much-hated nickname for the girl.

Thor shook his head as he watched the two leave before he glanced out the window, Loki no longer in his backyard. The blonde sighed as he scrubbed a hand over the back of his neck as he thought on his daughter calling him out. They’d only been living in the house for a little over a week, but something about the slender man next door was drawing Thor to him. Freya had taken an instant shine to the man and his son, though mostly arguing with Fenrir over theatrical things while Thor stood lost to their conversation and Loki looked proud. Loki had been a great asset to Thor and Freya since moving to the neighborhood and he had connected on a level with Freya that Thor never could. His daughter was born for the stage, she loved all things Broadway and Thor loved watching her perform but could never enjoy it the way she did. Losing Jane had been a blow to both of them and he had watched her light go out; until they moved to the cul-de-sac. Thor had loved getting to know Loki as well, the man was quick-witted and all serpentine tongue with a clever answer for everything. Loki and Fenrir had joined them for dinner a few times, Freya teasing Thor that he was trying to impress Loki with his prowess in the kitchen and letting him know that it was working. The blonde sighed, he wasn’t trying to court or woo the man next door, but he was trying to do what Jane had made him promise and not stop living his life. Thor smiled softly as he remembered lunch with the man the day after they had moved in.

Thor had made a simple summers lunch, cucumber tea sandwiches and blackberry and hibiscus tea. After lunch, Fenrir had offered to take Freya around town, show her some local hangouts and leaving the two adults alone in the process. Thor took that time to find out more about Loki, pleased to find that the man was single and up to date on all the gossip of the neighborhood. They spoke of their families, Loki learning that Thor was the second oldest of a large family that gathered together for holidays and Thor learning that Loki cut all ties with his own family up until his father's death ten years ago. Thor was horrified by the abuse Loki went through because his family couldn’t accept him for who he was. He smiled as he shook his head and tied his hair back, flicking the stereo system on to play music as he flipped through his cookbook to find his recipe.

Chapter Text

Loki arched an eyebrow as he lifted a hand to shade his eyes from the late afternoon sun and look at the bounce house that was slowly starting to inflate. “You know, I would ask how you got this but-”

“My answer never changes,” Tony grinned, looking at the man over his sunglasses.

Loki rolled his eyes, “because you’re Tony Stark-Strange yes, yes I know.” He shook his head with a small laugh. “At least the Barton children will have fun.”

“You don’t think that Fen will jump right in?”

Loki scoffed, “he is to busy trying to show off and with Clint bringing out the paintball guns he will really want to show off.”

“So...both you and your kid are tryin to hump the new neighbors?” Tony laughed at the glare that Loki sent his way and clapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t try to deny it you took the man lemon bars.”

“I was being neighborly, Anthony.”

“Sure you were,” Tony grinned slapping his shoulder again. “Speaking of neighborly look at that tall hunk of beefcake over there.”

Loki rolled his eyes as he turned around and he saw Thor laughing with Bucky and Steve. Three men carried out large bowls, a trail of even more men behind them with Freya leading a laughing woman, whom Loki recognized as Hela from the day Thor moved in. Emerald eyes roamed over the larger man; he wore a simple black tank top, which clung to every dip of muscle and the bit of fat that was there, with black and red checkered board shorts and flip-flops. His grin was broad as he laughed at something the Rogers said, his hair pulled up into a high topknot with strands falling into his face and his beard was trimmed from the last time Loki saw him a few days ago.

“Man, you have it bad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look at someone like that and I’m counting the fling you had with Logan’s brother when he was in town.”

“Victor was a perfect gentleman,” Loki sniffed waving a hand to dismiss Tony’s implication.

“Yeah and that was a perfectly gentlemanly set of hickies that took almost two weeks to go away.”

Loki blushed furiously and shook his head. “You are one to talk with the marks Stephen leaves on you.”

This only caused Tony’s grin to grow wide, “can’t deny a possessive lover.”

“You, my friend, are a beast.” Loki shook his head.

“Mr. Laufeyson!” Freya called waving him over.

“Seems like duty calls,” Tony whistled as he walked away leaving Loki to make his way over to the table that was laden with desserts and snacks.

“Good afternoon Freya,” he said with a smile.

“Mr. Laufeyson, I want you to meet my Aunt Hela, you met all my uncles but not her.”

Loki’s eyes traveled to the woman who stood next to Freya, a single dark and well-sculpted eyebrow lifted over her sunglasses. She wore a deep green sleeveless light cotton blouse and high waisted black shorts with strappy black sandals that traveled up her shapely legs. She lifted a well-manicured hand to lower her glasses and he was stunned by the bright summer eyes. “Pleasure to meet you, I’m your brother’s neighbor Loki Laufeyson.”

“Hela Odindotter, Hermond mentioned you as well. You teach at Valhalla Prep with him correct?”

“Yes I do, I’m the drama instructor.”

“Ah, yes, Hermond mentioned one of his fellow teachers that got into a bit of a bind.” She smirked.

Loki groaned, “yes that was me. You would think a forward thinking, paganistic school would gladly accept all forms of art.” He heaved a dramatic sigh making Freya giggle and her aunt laugh softly. “What have you brought?” He asked, his curiosity peaked by the bright pink concoction in the bowls.

Thor turned and grinned, his blue eyes sparkling in the sunlight. “My ambrosia salad. It’s one of the first dessert dishes I made and it’s a hit with wedding parties.” Thor crooked a finger, drawing Loki closer to whisper in his ear. “Rum soaked cherries makes it have a bit of a fun kick,” his lips brushed against the shell of Loki’s ear making the man shiver and gave a conspiratorial wink.

“I hope you have non-alcoholic for the children.”

“Color-coded bowls. No boozy cherries for the kiddos.” Tyr laughed as he walked by, clapping Thor on the shoulder.

Thor turned to see that his family had effectively scattered and his brow drew down. “Where’d they all go?”

Loki shrugged, “perhaps looking around. Hermond probably went to find Natasha since we all work together.” Loki chewed on his lip, “I can walk around with you...introduce you to the neighbors you haven’t met yet.”

Thor’s answering smile was so brilliant Loki felt it like the sun on his back. “I’d really like that, so where to first?”

Loki spun around with a small hum, they were at the table situated in front of the Rogers’ place and he considered the house in front of him. “Have you met Erik and Charles?” He asked.

“I don’t think so?”

“Perfect!” Without thinking, Loki’s hand shot out and grabbed Thor’s and pulled him along. The larger man marveled at the elegant fingers wrapping around his, battling the impure thoughts of those hands elsewhere. He was pulled up short when Loki was forcibly ripped away with a yelp. Thor watched with a bemused look as a fairly attractive young man probably around the twins age spun the taller man around. “Gods be damned Rem! Put me down!”

Mon ami! Dis Cajun be ‘appy ta see ya!” Amber eyes danced in the summer sunlight as Loki struggled. His eyes landed on Thor and seemed to take on a whole new light. “Dis da one?”

Loki groaned, “Remy...don’t.”

“Ya made ya lemon bars fo’ ‘im.”

“What is it with your lemon bars Loki?” Thor asked, tilting his head to the side.

“He don’ know? Now dat’s kinda funny.” Remy snickered as he let Loki go and held out his hand to Thor. “Remy LeBeau, ya dat new man dat just moved in nexta Loki oui?

“Yes, my daughter and I just moved in. Thor Odinson,” he smiled shaking the sprightly man’s hand.

“Hate ta chat n’ dash but gotta be settin’ up da sound system. Papa n’ papa be comin’ out soon. My Wolvie had ta get ‘is new chair set up.” Remy pressed a kiss to Loki’s cheek before dashing off across the street.

“Remy is a DJ for the Flur du Maul downtown,” Loki explained as they moved to inspect the drink table. “Erik must have been the one to chose the drinks this year.”

“Is that a dig at my taste in alcohol, Loki?”

Thor turned his head to see an older man, probably in his late 60’s, with kind eyes and a wide smile as well as a high-quality woven rainbow afghan over his legs. He glided down the driveway in a sleek looking motorized wheelchair and looked Thor up and down. “You must be Thor Odinson.”

“Um...yeah,” Thor blinked, “how did-”

“Charles likes to make people think he is psychic.” A taller man with a full head of white hair smiled as he walked up with a younger but bulkier man with dark hair that was greying at the temples. “My daughter sold you the house. I’m Erik Lehnsherr-Xavier and this is my husband Charles.” He laid his hand on Charles’s shoulder and held out his other hand.

“Pleasure to meet you both,” Thor grinned watching as Charles lovingly laid his hand over Erik’s on his shoulder.

“I’m Logan, Remy’s fiancee.” The gruff man grunted taking Thor’s hand after he shook Erik’s.

“Need a wedding company?” Thor laughed, half joking.

“Remy just fired our last wedding planner,” Logan sighed rolling his eyes and rubbing at the scruff on his chin. “Picky bitch,” the man chuckled, his voice fond.

Thor brought out his wallet and pulled out his card, “give this number a call tomorrow, and tell Frigga that Thor sent you and she’ll set up an appointment.” The man nodded as he took the card and waved as he walked off in the same direction that Remy had ran off in.

Loki clicked his tongue as he smiled, “networking on your day off is bad form.” He teased as he popped the top off of a bottle and handed it over while pouring himself something dark from a glittering crystal decanter.

“Wait if your daughter-”

“Hi dad,” Wanda smiled as she walked up and stood on tiptoe to press a kiss to Erik’s cheek. “Hey pops,” she bent down, kissing Charles on the cheek as well. “How are you settling in Thor?” She asked picking up a soda can and popping the top.

“The house is great. You could have told me that you lived in this area.”

She laughed, “where’s the fun in that?”

“Right,” Thor laughed shaking his head as he heard a chorus of voices behind him and gaped at the swarm of people who made their way over.

Loki laughed as he waved and pulled Thor away gently. “Charles and Erik’s brood,” he said softly by way of explanation.

“How many children do they have?” Stormy blue eyes widened more as he saw the gaggle of people ranging between their late 40’s to infants surrounding the two men who smiled brightly. A pang in Thor’s heart made him ache as he saw the two elders surrounded by their children and what he assumed was their grandchildren.

“Erik and Charles have ten children, not including the ones who have married off. You’ve met Wanda and Logan; then there’s Petrov, Scott, Kurt, Bobby, Jubilee, Victor, Raven, and Emma. They also have...six grandchildren I believe.” Loki tapped a finger to his lips, “Wanda, Scott, Bobby, and Raven are all married already so when you think about it that’s twenty in all.”

Thor chuckled softly, “my mother would kill for that.”

“Freya is the only grandchild yes?”

“Yeah, the pregnancy was really hard on Jane. Freya was actually six weeks early,” He sighed rubbing a hand along the back of his neck. “It was tough, I always wanted a big family.” He smiled fondly as they stopped walking to let children run by them, squirting each other with some super soakers.

Loki marveled at the man’s soft smile, feeling something pang in his chest. “You’ll see more children come next spring. Tasha and Wanda are both pregnant and gossip has it that Steve and Bucky put in to be foster parents.”

“That just means more Easter cakes!” Thor laughed clapping his hand to Loki’s back. The blonde smiled down at Loki, a blush staining his cheeks as his hand inched down just a fraction and he slid closer. “Loki-” Thor yelped as something hit him in the chest and he looked down to see a bright green splotch on his shirt.

“Bullseye!” Fenrir yelled, resting a strange looking gun over his shoulder with a smirk as he cocked his hip out. “You let your guard down Mr. Odinson!”

Loki narrowed his eyes at his son, “Fenrir!” His eyes went wide as he watched his spawn drop forward a bright pink blossom showing on the back of his head and matting his long dark hair.

“Eyes on the prize Lokison!” Freya called as she shot at him again, nailing him in the meat of his thigh just under his ass.

Loki laughed as he pulled himself away from Thor, “seems like Clint dragged out the modified paintball equipment. Shall we join in?”

“Why don’t we make things more interesting?” Challenge glittered in blue eyes and Loki swallowed hard.

“H-how?”

“A bet, person who gets the most hit on the other before grubs called has to do what the other says for a whole day.”

“I...um…”

“Scared Laufeyson?” Thor snickered, blue eyes dancing.

Loki’s lips drew into a tight line as he spun around. “You are on Odinson, CLINT!” He yelled weaving his way through neighbors and children with Thor on his heels to where a sprightly man bounced on his heels passing out an arsenal of paintball guns. “We need two Clint.”

“Sure thing Reindeer Games. Pick your colors.”

“Gold.” Loki snapped taking the offered gun and catching the sack of paint pods.

“Red,” Thor laughed as he took his own gun and opened the sack, pulling out a pod. “What are these?”

Clint grinned at him, “Shuri made them. Paintballs hurt without armor and outfitting everyone in the cul de sac is a nightmare. Strong enough to withstand being shot but thin enough to explode without leaving a mark...unless you’re at point blank range.”

“Shuri...T’Challa’s little sister? The high school student?” Thor asked, loading up the gun.

“Don’t underestimate her,” Clint chuckled, “she’s wicked smart. Her and Peter helped make Bucky’s arm.”

“Why is she still in high school?” Thor asked eyebrows going up into his hairline.

“Because Valhalla Prep has the top college prep classes in town.” A young woman grinned, walking up with a sprightly young man beside her. Thor recognized him as Tony’s son, Peter, from walking Princess Peach around the neighborhood.

“Good answer,” Thor laughed softly.

“And Peter’s there, makes school a bit more fun.” She chirped with a laugh her eyes dropped down and she grinned. “Looks like the new pods are exploding better. Give us your thoughts during dinner?”

“Sure,” Thor grinned as he slid on the safety glasses Clint handed him. “Ready Lo-” He turned and blinked to find the man no longer next to him. “Game on I guess.”

“Just don’t hit anyone who’s unarmed!” Clint called after him.

Thor prowled his way through the cul-de-sac, the world tinted yellow behind the protective glasses. He pressed himself against the side of the Rogers house and swung around, catching sight of a bob of black hair. With a loud click and a cry of shock he saw crimson spread across Loki’s back and laughed. “One-nothing!” He grunted as a pot caught him in the thigh and he saw gold spread over his leg. Thor lifted his head to see Loki kneeling, his torso contorted as he grinned behind the green glasses he wore.

“One/one,” he corrected.

Both men yelped as they heard two shots and were hit with bright blue paints and Steve grinning at them from his spot behind the chest-high fence. “Quit flirting and play.”

With a smirk, Thor and Loki swung their guns around taking the blonde by surprise as twin hits of red and gold decorated the vast expanse of his chest and shoulder. With a laugh, Loki took off at a dead sprint and Thor chased after him feeling lighter than he had in months.

Chapter Text

Thor groaned as he dropped into a chair, a plate piled high with food and a grin on his face; said face was covered in golden paint, leaving his eyes bright from where the safety glasses kept the paint from getting in his eyes. He heard the chair next to him scrape and glanced over to see Hela drop next to him. “Having fun?”

“This is surprisingly enjoyable, though you look like you got slapped silly by a Pride parade.” She plucked at his shirt and arched an eyebrow, “You’re practically covered in gold paint.”

“Ah...yeah Loki and I had a bet,” blue eyes drifted over to where Loki was having a lively chat with Natasha and Remy. The teacher was covered with bright splotches of pale blue and silver but had a cascade of dark red covering his back torso and ass.

Hela followed his eyes and smirked, “someone’s hot for teacher. I’m actually rather proud baby brother.”

Thor blushed hotly, “it’s not-”

“So what did you bet? Sexy time?”

“No!” Thor’s blush deepened under the gold paint. “Loser has to do what the winner says for a day.”

“Oh...oh that’s good Thor. That’s very good. So who won?”

“Loki almost won, got me in the face….but he let his guard down and I got him in the stomach with my final round.” Thor chuckled, “I don’t know what we are going to do though…”

“Bake something, you have that big wedding for the Equinox with that bridezilla. She wants a cake that’s wholly original and only hers. I’m sure Loki would love to help you in the kitchen if his lemon bars are as amazing as everyone keeps talking about.” She mused as she reached over snagging a fork full of Thor’s baked beans. “Almost as good as granddads were,” she hummed.

“Then go get your own,” he laughed shaking his head. His eyes drifted over the tables, a smile tugging at his lips as he saw all of his neighbors laughing and smiling with each other as they passed around plates and bowls. At the far end of his table, Freya sat between Fenrir and Peter; her eyes more alive then they had been in months.

“Your daughter seems to fit right in,” a voice mused, making Thor jump as he turned to see a man sliding across the table from him. His dark hair was slicked back with the temples going grey and his blue eyes dancing as he ran his fingers over his well-trimmed goatee. “My Peter has taken a shine to her, he hasn’t been this starry-eyed since Shuri brought over the plans for a new arm for Bucky and asked for his help.” The man held his hand over the table, “Stephen Strange-Stark. Glad to finally meet you.”

“You too, I’ve heard a lot about you. Mostly Tony bragging about his doctor husband.”

Stephen rolled his eyes, but a smile pulled at his lips as he lifted his glass to his lips. “Tony does like to brag, though his accomplishments are just as good. He’s rigged up something for the fireworks with Damien-”

“There’s more neighbors?” Thor broke in, his eyes wide as he looked around trying to make sure he could remember the names of everyone he had met.

“In this cul-de-sac no,” Stephen laughed shaking his head. “Have you noticed the field and park behind your home?”

“Yeah, huge selling point really. Freya loves to take Idunn on walks and that park has a cute little doggie park next to it.”

“Yes, it’s quaint. Just across the park is a second cul-de-sac, our rivals so to speak.”

“Rivals?” Hela asked, arching an eyebrow as she leaned forward.

“Oh yes, every holiday except for the fourth of July we try to outdo each other. The Barton twins are also on the same softball team as the Chan girls, oh and Mr. Vega teaches Historical Literature over at Valhalla Prep. Daimen’s house is lovely during Halloween though that damned Youth Minister really takes the cake.”

“It’s his creepy ass kids,” Tony groused as he dropped down next to Stephen.

“Well, if Roberts new flame-”

“Wanna run that by me again?” A growling voice behind Thor made the blonde jolt again and whip around to see a rugged older man with his arm around another, slightly smaller, man’s waist, someone who looked oddly familiar. “Jumpy there blondie?” The larger man grunted as the other slapped him in the stomach.

“Stop being a creep Rob,” the younger said shaking his head. “Tony, Dames is looking for you, something about timing being off?”

“That's my cue, byyyyeeeee.” Tony jumped up running off and Stephen shook his head.

“You do realize that Tony and your bestie are best friends yes? Antagonizing him gains you nothing.”

“Except a deep sense of satisfaction.”

“Robert…” The younger shook his head and took a seat next to Thor, who was wracking his brain trying to place the smaller man. “You must be the new guy, we don’t see a whole lot of new faces around the fourth of July party. I’m Killian Davies, I live in the cul-de-sac behind you....Thor?” He trailed off and his eyes lit up like a bulb had gone off. "Thor! Baldur's brother! Man it's been years!"

“Killian? As in the little shit who roomed with Baldur and that kegstand guy? Didn't you guys try and attempt one in our garage and mom found you?" Thor visibly shuddered at the memory of his mother's icy stare of death, which even caused Hela's mouth to shut.

Killian visibly blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah, that's me. It's good to see you, I've grown up just a little since then though."

Thor nodded and patted him on the shoulder. "Stephen was just telling me about the rivalry.” The man was tall and slender with short spiked dark brown hair and caramel colored skin. He had filled out a little since his college days but was still rather slight, especially compared to his large hulking boyfriend. Killian's eyes were large and a deep soulful brown and struck something in the blonde. “Davies...you wouldn’t happen to have a daughter, would you? Tall pretty girl, smart as a whip and great with a camera?”

“Um...yeah my daughter Amanda.”

“We love Amanda in the office,” Hela chimed in as she leaned over Thor’s shoulder. “She’s taken stunning photos for the yearly catalogs and none of our clients in the last year have complained about the quality of their wedding photos.”

Thor laughed at Killian's face as his sister appeared. "Of course, I knew mother told me something about an old friend's daughter being an intern, but with everything going on, the move and all, it slipped my mind."

Hela took a sip of her drink and cleared her throat, “Frigga gushes about her work but it really speaks for itself.”

“Told you that internship would get her places,” Robert laughed as he wrapped his arms around Killian’s shoulders and rested his chin on top of his head.

“There you are Pops...oh, Ms. Odindottir.” A young woman with the same eyes as Killian stopped dead in her tracks.

“Hey, Manda Panda looks like one of your bosses moved into the empty house in the cul-de-sac over.” Killian grinned.

“First we moved to where Mr. Vega was, now my boss moves in across the park.” She groaned, “totally kidding.”

“No, you aren’t.” Thor laughed shaking his head. “Don’t worry, we won’t tell mother, besides, I have some dirt on your father from back when he was in college, I'm sure you won't mind those stories around the office.”

Killian visibly blanched his mouth opening to respond but the sound of microphone feedback rang out over the cul-de-sac made everyone flinch and turn their attention to the stage. Thor blinked as he saw Steve standing next to another equally attractive blonde man with a bright pink polo shirt on and neatly pressed khakis. “Good afternoon and happy fourth of July everyone!” The man smiled, wide and toothy, and something struck Thor as fake.

“Who’s the Ken Doll?”

Killian choked on his drink as Robert hid his face in his hair and snorted a laugh. “You...haven’t explored the neighborhood or been out around town have you?”

“I just moved back from New York...I’ve been gone from Maple Bay for almost twenty years.” Thor sulked hearing a snickering behind him and seeing Hela smirking. “You know who he is?”

“Joseph ‘Choir Boy’ Christiansen,” Robert’s voice made Thor’s head snap back to look at him, a dark look over his eyes as his lip curled. “Don’t get suckered into doing the bake sales.”

“Babe...we talked about this.” Killian sighed shaking his head, “the bake sales are fine...just don’t go on his yacht...alone.”

“And that’s the schedule everyone!” Joseph’s voice broke in, his smile ever winning and bright but not quite reaching his baby blues. “Now let’s have a great dad-de-sac day!” There was a resounding groan through the throng of people and Steve shook his head clapping Joseph on the shoulder as they hopped down and music started playing.

“Rob, Killian, there you two are.” Bucky laughed as he walked up, a lovely but slender woman on his arm. She wore a deep brown button-down blouse and black slacks, a golden cross around her neck and her mousey brown hair was pulled back by a black headband.

“Well hello sailor,” The woman gave Thor a wolfish grin as she slid a slender hand along his shoulder.

“Um...hi?”

“Mary, not everyone knows your sense of humor.” Loki hummed as he drifted by, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “Beside’s that one's mine.”

“You layin claims now? Did the mafia finally con you in?” she cast her hazel eyes over to Robert who held his hands up.

“Don’t look at me,” Robert laughed, “I'm innocent in all of this.”

“A likely story.”

“Yes, I am Mare...He’s even had my lemon bars.” Loki laughed casting a wink at Thor who blushed bright red.

“Oh, that’s cheating Laufeyson.”

A cheer rose up from the stage and the adults turned their head as the opening bars for Grease started playing and Natasha looked triumphant. “And now I present to you all...Danny and Sandy!”

Thor, Loki, and the rest got up from their table as they made their way to the circle of people. Fenrir’s voice ringing out over the crowd as he sang along to the music and danced his way to Freya. Thor felt pride bubbling in his chest as he watched Freya put a hand on his chest and push him back, singing her part flawlessly. He felt something against his hand and glanced down, pausing as he saw Loki’s slender fingers wrapping around his own; warmth raced up his arm and a familiar ache settled in his chest. Emerald eyes lifted up to his and Loki gave him a crooked little smile, their fingers lacing together before Loki was dragged off to the center of the group by Natasha.

“Show us the Wagonwheel Watusi!” Remy called out over the mic as a new song started up.

“The what now?” Thor asked looking at Bucky who was grinning.

“Just watch, you’ll see.”

Thor’s brow furrowed as he watched Clint drag over two chairs; Loki and Natasha standing with their backs to everyone and a hand resting on their chair. The blonde was entranced as Loki and Natasha moved in unison, his eyes drifting down to watch the swaying movements of the man. Loki moved with confident motions, born of practice and Thor grinned as he watched him. He had never seen a man move with that kind of confidence and grace and it stirred something deep within him. The rest of the cul-de-sac moved in to start the dance, Thor being dragged along with it. Evening soon fell and everyone was settled out in the baseball field between the two cul-de-sacs and Thor was settled on a blanket. His sister and brothers had left after the dancing ended and Freya had gone off with her new group of friends. The blonde sighed as he laid back, looking up at the sky as stars started to dot te darkened parts of the sky. He heard the chatter of his neighbors, the laughter of the children, and the faint music that was still playing; everything about his new home was...perfect. Even with Jane’s absence, he found himself lighter than he had in months. His wife’s death still a bitter ache in his chest, but as the time moved on he found himself aching less and less.

“This seat taken?”

Thor tilted his head back to see Loki smiling down at him and he pushed himself up onto his elbows. “Nope, Freya ran off with your boy somewhere. I think she was off with….is his name Lucian?”

Loki chuckled, “bright young man. Takes after his father in smarts, though not in mannerisms.” He smiled as he settled himself down next to Thor, one of his legs stretched out as he rested his chin on the other knee he hugged to his chest. “Freya seems to have settled herself into life in Maple Bay.”

Thor laughed softly, “Yeah she always did like coming here for summer vacations when I was to swamped at the restaurant and Jane was busy at the hospital. Course mom and dad loved to take her in the summer and take her out on the ocean and to all the summer weddings.” He smiled softly watching the kids dart by and an extremely well built Asian man tossing softballs to a couple of girls. “Who’s that?”

“Craig Chan, he coaches the Maple Bay Flapjacks. He’s also the heartthrob of the soccer moms.” Loki smirked, “he used to carry his youngest around in a baby bjorn on his chest. Well until he started dating Damien...Then Dames would hold River during games. But this didn’t stop the soccer moms from slobbering all over him.”

Thor’s brow furrowed, “I swear I need a chart to keep everyone straight.”

Loki laughed bumping him with his shoulder, though not moving away. “Want me to quiz you?”

“Actually yes,” Thor grinned. “I can tell you what I do know.”

Loki chuckled, “Alright lay it on me.”

“So, Bucky and Steve are married with Steve being our HOA president, and he used to be in the Army along with Bucky. Bucky and Natasha were part of the same Special Ops team after Steve got his promotion to General. They retired when Bucky lost his arm and Natasha got pregnant with her twins. She’s married to Clint who was in the CIA under Coulson, whose house I moved into.”

“Very good,” the teacher chuckled. “Next group of neighbors?”

“T’Challa and Shuri are prince and princess of Wakanda but want to contribute to the world. Shuri wants to go work for Tony’s company to help improve relations between Wakanda and the States while T’Challa uses his country’s healing practices to improve wellness in the States. Shuri is also dating Peter who is the adopted son of Stephen and Tony after Peter lost his parents in a carjacking gone wrong when he was five. Stephen saw Peter after his own recovery and set about the paperwork to adopt him and they also have Princess Peach who is probably the most chill rodent I have ever seen.” Thor chuckled taking another breath as he glanced over to see Remy leaning back against Logan and talking with Charles. “Charles and Erik met after world war two where Erik escaped from a concentration camp and he was taken into the Xavier household which doubled as a boarding school for orphans. Charles and Erik have been married for close to forty years and are foster parents who have opened up their home to over twenty children while adopting ten of their own. Wanda and Petrov are Erik’s from a one night stand he had when he was younger and he and Charles were on a break after a fight they had. Charles adopted his children when they married and those two live here in the cul-de-sac along with their eldest child Logan who is a veteran of the Army like Steve and is about to marry Remy who is an old friend of yours. Oh and Wanda’s husband Vision.” Thor took a deep breath, his lungs seemingly having lost all their oxygen.

“You’re very good at retaining a lot of information. But can you guess the other cul-de-sac?”

Thor swallowed and took another deep breath, “alright so Joseph is actually Steve’s cousin right?”

“Correct.”

“And he is married to Mary...and they have four children. Christopher, Christie, Chris, and….Chrish?”

“Mhm.”

“Those are some names,” Thor laughed.

Loki snorted, “I swear if Mare pops out another they might name it ‘Tian’ to round out the bunch.”

Thor choked on his beer as he laughed, “you can’t be serious.”

“As serious as Robert is about Cryptid hunting. Continue.”

“Right, Mare drinks with Robert and Killian who are a couple and Killian’s kid works for Asgard. She also graduated from Valhalla Prep where Hugo teaches alongside you and Natasha and happens to be Killian’s neighbor. He’s also got a son,Ernest, who’s starting his senior year at Maple Bay High across town. Hugo is also dating Mat who owns that amazing coffee shop where he works with his daughter. Damien has a son who is your star pupil over at VP and as you said is dating Craig who’s-”

“Got three daughters and runs his own business selling athletic gear and has a pension for calling everyone bro.” Loki laughed, “you’re missing one.”

“I am?” Thor’s brow drew down until he felt elegant fingers grip his chin and turn his head back to where Erik was sitting; talking to a man whose size could rival Volstagg and a bouncy young girl who was pointing at something in the book in Erik’s hands. “Who’re they?”

“Brian and Daisy. Brian is Jean’s ex-husband. You probably saw her arguing with Logan earlier today.”

Thor’s brow furrowed again as he thought back to earlier in the barbeque. On his hunt for Loki he had stumbled on Logan having a heated argument; before he could make his escape they had caught sight of him and the woman had stalked off leaving the gruff RN to wave off any concern. “I did wonder what that was about…”

“Logan is the oldest out of Erik and Charles’s brood. Technically they never adopted him since he came to them when he was already an adult. Robert found the poor man wandering the woods with no memory and at the time Erik had his clinic up and running before he passed it to their son-in-law Hank who runs it with Raven now. That was around the time Charles got into his accident that caused him to be paralyzed from the waist down and they found out that Logan had some medical training. They gave him a place to stay and the rest is history. Anyway, he was arguing with Jean who is Scott’s wife and Brian’s ex-wife. She and Logan are constantly fighting about what to do with Charles. Logan wants to keep him home since he’s perfectly fine as long as Logan is there but Jean wants her and Scott to be able to claim the house even though Scott is fairly sure that the house is going to go to Logan and Remy. But I digress, Jean and Brian split probably five or six years ago now, Daisy was only seven when it happened and Brian got custody. She’s twelve now and skipped a couple of grades so that she could start at Valhalla prep.”

“Impressive,” Thor whistled softly as he leaned closer to Loki. “But there’s one more neighbor I didn’t cover.”

“Oh?”

“See there’s this guy who lives next door to me,” Thor mused playfully. “He’s a smartass, he has a beautiful dog that may as well be the six-legged horse he’s named after and has a pretty ok son by Freya’s standards.”

Loki smirked, “oh yeah. I seem to hear a bit about that guy. Best damned lemon bars around town.” That had Thor laughing as kids darted by them and the last rays of sun sank down; casting the world into darkness. “There’s also the matter of my neighbor,” Loki hummed as he arched an eyebrow at Thor. “Only blonde one out of his siblings and has possibly the dopiest dog I have ever seen.”

“That so?”

“Mhm, course his daughter is an absolute peach. One I hope to have in one of my classes that I am teaching this year.” Loki leaned closer to Thor, his hand slipping down to lay over Thor’s, “There’s something about her father though. I want really badly to make him smile more, he’s got a damned lovely smile.”

Thor felt his cheeks heat up with a blush and was grateful for the cover of night. “I’m fairly sure he’s smiled more in the week he’s known you than he has in the past few months.” He said softly.

“Has he now?” The teacher chuckled softly.

“I have,” Thor said softly as he leaned forward, pausing as sapphire met emerald. Thor tilted his head slightly and went to close the gap between them before a loud explosion made the two men jump apart as a shower of crimson sparks lit up the sky with a resounding boom. Thor laughed, rubbing the back of his neck, “guess the show has started.”

Loki groaned as his hands slid into Thor’s hair, “just shut up and kiss me already.” He hissed drawing the blonde closer as more fireworks went off and he sank into the kiss; feeling Thor’s arms wrap around his waist, hauling him closer. Loki moaned softly into the kiss, a sound swallowed by the booming of fireworks as his own arms wrapped around Thor’s neck and he sank into the feeling of the bigger man pressed against him and the fireworks going off like a sign from the gods over their heads.

Chapter Text

Thor groaned as he dropped back into his bed, his alarm had gone off twenty minutes earlier and he sighed, pulling a pillow over his face. It had been three days since the kiss, and it had been perfect; the substantial freakout when he was alone had not been however. He had seen Loki the day after when he had gone out to get his paper. The man had been beautiful with his hair pulled back in a messy bun as he chatted happily with Steve and Bucky on their morning run; emerald eyes had lifted to his and the coy smile made Thor’s stomach clench in rival waves of want and guilt. And like a coward he had fled.

“Going to go walk Idunn, you gonna actually get up today?” Freya asked from the doorway, arching an eyebrow at the lump that was her father.

“I’m still on vacation,” Thor rumbled, practically feeling the eye roll from his child. “Your eyes will pop out if you keep that up.”

“Just tired of seeing you mope dad.”

“I’m not moping...it’s complicated.”

“That’s a relationship status on DadBook. At least shower, you’ve been moping since the party.”

“That’s it, no more hanging out with your Aunt Hela,” he grumbled as he heard her laugh and walk away. Silence settled over the house and Thor sighed again as he pushed himself up. Blue eyes drifted to the empty side of the bed, still made and cold. It was Jane’s side, always away from the window so she didn't get the sun in her face after a long shift. But that was stupid, it was a new house with a new bed; Jane had never been there. With a groan he pulled himself all the way out of the bed and moved to his ensuite bathroom. He showered as he thought on what he had planned for the day and groaned thinking that he had to start planning the catering menu for the bridezilla from hell. He plucked up his body wash, glaring down at his somewhat flabby stomach. “Need to start working out again,” he grumbled as he pinched the layer of fat from his love-handles and jiggled. With another sigh he finished washing himself and finished with his shower. He grabbed his towel and scrubbed at his hair before wrapping it around his waist and moving back into his bedroom.

“Really don’t get what Loki sees in you,” a voice rumbled making Thor jump with a yell as he turned to see Robert standing against his dresser and Mary lounging on the bed.

“What in the Norns are you doing here?” He gripped his towel tightly to ensure that it didn't fall off his hips, blushing hotly as Mary’s eyes danced over his form.

Robert chewed hard on his toothpick as he folded his arms, his mouth set in a hard line as his amber eyes took on a cold hue. “Seeing why some blond beefcake is upsetting our drinking partner.”

“Beefcake?” Thor muttered, his brows drawing down before his eyes went wide at the flash of steel in Robert’s hand and a shiver of fear went down his spine.

“What are...ROBERT!” Killian yelped as he glared at his boyfriend when he walked into the room.

Thor groaned, “is everyone just waltzing into my house or just you three?”

“Thor I am so sorry, I came to talk to you and these two just tagged along. I turned my back for two seconds.”

Mary rolled her eyes as she stood up. “Relax before you have yourself a stroke sailor. Get dressed blondie, we gotta talk. We’ll be down in your kitchen.”

Thor groaned as he watched them walk out, and he moved to his dresser pulling on a T-shirt and a pair of basketball shorts. He tied his hair back haphazardly and shook his head as he padded his way down the stairs. He poked his head into the kitchen to see Mary settled on a stool as Robert rummaged in his cupboards. He ducked back out and turned to see Killian looking at the box on the mantle of the fireplace. The younger man turned and offered a small, sad smile.

“I’m really sorry about Jane, Thor.”

The blonde swallows as he looked at the rings, “Thanks Killian.”

“That’s why you’ve been avoiding Loki huh? The good old widowers guilt.”

He sighed, “Loki’s great, he really is...I just…”

“Feel like you’re betraying Jane?” Killian nodded, “I felt the same way after Alex.”

“Alex?”

“My wife. I lost her when Amanda was fourteen. Bad car accident.”

“But you and Robert?”

“Met three years ago. We've only been together for a year now but I know your guilt Thor. If Jane was any sort of woman she would want you happy.” Killian shoved his arms into his pockets, “and really you could do worse than Loki.”

Thor sat silent for a moment before sighing softly. “I should apologize...and at least try to explain.”

“Exactly,” Robert said gruffly as he shoved two thermous’s into Thor’s hands and glared at him. “Well? What are you waiting for? Go talk to him.”

Killian groaned softly, “damnit Robert...we need to work on your people skills.”

“They’re rusty, now c’mon you two promised you’d come with me this morning so I’m not dealing with this alone.” She grabbed the two men by the scruff of their jackets and practically dragged them out the door, Killian waving to Thor as he was pulled away.

“That woman is terrifying,” Thor muttered looking down at the cups in his hands. His eyes drifted to the fading tan line on his finger before moving to where his ring lay with his late wife’s. “I made you a promise Janie….one I’m apparently not very good at keeping. Killian’s right...you would want me happy.” He sighed softly as he walked out the door and paused looking at Loki’s front door. There was no sign of the man out front but his car was still in the driveway. The blonde summoned up his courage and walked around the side gate and up Loki’s front walkway, pressing the doorbell with his elbow. There was no thunderous bark inside letting him know that the massive dog was not home and he figured that Fenrir had taken the pup out alongside Idune and Freya.

The front door open and emerald eyes that went wide at seeing him. “Thor? What are you doing here?” There was a weariness to his eyes that made Thor’s heart ache.

The blonde tried for a sunny smile, “I thought I’d bring over some coffee...and an apology.”

“An...apology?”

“I...there’s something I need to talk to you about. I’ve been a fucking coward and that’s not me...pretty sure Hela would kick my ass if she saw.” He held out the coffee like a peace offering.

Loki watched him for a moment, chewing on his lower lip before he reached out and took the coffee. “Alright..come in, I have some pancakes left from breakfast. If you would like.”

Thor smiled in relief as he followed the man inside and to the kitchen. His smile grew as he saw the warm and inviting room, the scent of buttermilk and cinnamon in the air and he moved to the small breakfast nook to sit down. Loki piled up a couple of plates and brought them over, sliding one before the larger man and Thor grinned his thanks reaching for the small syrup jar and pouring a liberal amount over his pancakes. He cut into them and took a bite, groaning softly at the fluffy texture and how they burst with flavor against his tongue. “Oh wow.”

“Good?” Loki bit back a smile as he watched Thor.

“Very! You’re an amazing cook!” Thor grinned, feeling a flutter in his heart as he saw a light blush cross his aristocratic cheekbones.

“Finish eating then we can talk.” Loki said softly, glancing out the window and smiling as he saw a muscle car pull up in front of Steve and Bucky’s home. A woman stepped out wearing dark jeans and a dark red leather jacket with aviator sunglasses. “Seems like Steve and Bucky will have a visitor for a couple of weeks.”

“Hm?” thor asked looking up.

“Steve’s sister...Carol. She’s a Major in the Air Force. She likes to visit for a couple weeks in the summer when her ex-wife goes to the in-laws with their daughter.”

Thor’s brow furrowed, “why doesn't she go with her?”

“From what i understand they are still a bit angry at Carol for leaving their daughter for six years. Well...leaving isn’t the right word. She was considered MIA for six years back in the early 90s. She was test piloting something for one of the Doctors on the base and her plane went down. No one knew what happened to her and then she suddenly turned up here in Maple Bay but couldn’t recognize Steve worth shit. That was a fun trip.”

“MIA? What happened??”

Loki shrugged a shoulder, “she never really said. Steve was besides himself when it happened and we found her wondering around down by the Coffee Spoon, I was rooming with Rem back then and from what I understand it was to much for her ex to handle when she did finally get her memories back. Well...too much romantically, Carol still sees them on the base they just live in separate houses now.” They watched as the bouncing blonde kicked at the door and simply strolled into the house.

“Quirky bunch of neighbors.”

“Yeah,” Loki laughed softly, “but it’s nice to see everyone coming together and some of them finding love again. Now if only we can convince Mary to leave Joseph things would be spectacular.” Loki shrugged again and leaned back in his chair, drumming his nails to the table lightly. “But you didn’t come here to gossip.”

“Ah...no, no I didn’t.” Thor sighed as he raked his fingers through his hair, “I wanted to apologize-”

“About the kiss?”

“No! Sweet Norns no. That kiss...it made me feel things I haven’t felt in a really long time.” He sighed as the darker haired male arched a brow. “I..can’t really describe it.”

“Was it...how you felt with your wife?”

“No, Jane and I...we were good but never fully meshed. It’s not like it was a Highland Romance into the sunset type thing. We worked well together and had some good times but she never understood the culinary world and I was lost in her science stuff. We’d been together for so long and had Freya that it never seemed to matter that our hobbies never meshed.” He chewed on his lip as he reached out a tentative hand to lay over Loki’s. “With you it felt alot like Fourth of July and Christmas rolled into one. Fun and Fireworks...and I really hope that I didn’t mess it up by being stupid.”

Loki looked between Thor’s stormy blue eyes and the warm, tanned hand resting over his. “Thor….I would...like to see where this goes.” He smiled softly as he leaned forward over the table to the other man.

“YES! Pay up wolf-boy!” Freya’s yell made the two men jump apart.

“Damnit dad!” Fenrir grumbled reaching into his pocket for his wallet.

“What the hell?”

“What?” Freya asked, looking completely unrepentant as she pocketed her winnings. “Aunt Hela says never make a bet you can’t win.”

“I had at least hoped my old man would hold out for dinner.” The younger man mumbled.

“No more hanging around your Aunt.” Thor mumbled looking to see Loki’s face hidden behind his hands and his ears turning a bit red. Thor felt a flash of an idea go off in his head and he grinned. “Are you busy today?” He asked Loki, drawing emerald eyes to look up at him.

“Erm...no?”

“Good, get dressed into something comfortable and meet me at my truck in twenty minutes. Kids you’re on your own!” He grinned brightly and dashed out the door leaving a confused looking Loki to stair at Freya who simply shrugged.

“Dad’s nuts but enjoy your date. I’m gonna whip your boy into shape for the show.” She grabbed Fenrir by the collar of his shirt and dragged him up the stairs.

“Laufeyson...what did you get yourself into?” Loki muttered softly as he watched Thor leap over the fence dividing their front yards before he got up to go change into something comfortable.