They really should’ve listened to Loki. Honestly that could’ve been applied to a lot of things that went wrong around the Avengers Academy, but this was a situation of extra-should’ve-listened-to-Loki. At least if you asked Loki, that is, and currently, he was the only person you could ask about the situation since he was the only one who didn’t have a power sucking-collar and chains on him. Well, okay, you could technically ask the man who was now gloating in front of his giant dining room table, whose actual name was Lukas Klerken, but whom had just declared himself to be ‘the demon of cunning, seduction and new lord of midgard’ with no tact at all. Even his outfit was a gaudy yellow and ugly blue. You shouldn’t ask that asshole anything in Loki’s opinion, since he was a liar who too many people trusted. Loki tried not to think about that one too hard.
To put a long story short, Lukas had come to the Academy against his own will. Fury had caught him in some evil scheme to destroy the world, but he had only been a minor player in it so he’d been given a second chance. Loki and Lukas had actually gotten along at first, at least as well as Loki got along with anyone, but something about Lukas had felt off to Loki. Just wrong enough for him to keep his distance. It seemed that Loki had been the only one that felt that way though, the rest of the Academy loved him. It was as if Lukas had made it his life’s goal to be friends with everyone, even more so than Jan, and with everyone but Loki he’d succeeded. Even Fury and Widow had decided that they liked Lukas.
Even Odin had decided he liked Lukas. In the same breath that he condemned Loki’s trickery he’d praise Lukas’ humorous pranks. Hearing Odin praise Lukas with a ‘your father must be very proud of you’ behind closed doors hurt more deeply than Loki would like to admit.
Putting that aside though, everyone but Loki liked Lukas. Not that Lukas hadn’t tried very hard to get Loki to like him, he had. He had put in a lot of effort into trying to invite Loki places or include him in things. He’d taken to referring to Loki as a prince and being flirty in all the right ways that would normally have Loki head over heels for someone. It was more effort then Lukas had put towards getting anyone else to like him, and if Loki had not been already suspicious it would’ve worked. As it was though, Loki just grew more and more wary until he’d finally discovered what Lukas was up to. It was simple really, invite everyone to a formal dinner party knowing that nobody would refuse or mistrust him. Mess with the food and get everyone drugged out of their minds. Loki would have laughed at how simple the idea was if it hadn’t worked.
Of course, Loki had figured this out days in advance and gone straight to Fury. Usually he’d attempt to resolve things himself but he knew any attempt against Lukas would have the whole school pinning the blame on him. Unfortunately, Fury rolled his eyes and told him to work out his jealousy issues elsewhere no matter how hard Loki tried to convince him. Pepper wouldn’t believe him either. He brought the matter up with his father, but of course all that got him was a threat of punishment for lying. All that was to be expected, what he hadn’t been expecting was none of the people he called friends to believe him either. Jan had brushed him off, Widow had rolled her eyes and dared to call him paranoid, Steve had gone on about second chances, the list went on and on. Tony, who Loki had thought he’d grown quite close to, had almost believed Loki, but then Jan had entered and told Loki off for spreading rumors. Stephen Strange, another student who while also somewhat of Loki’s rival but who Loki was on good terms with had brushed him off. He had said there was nothing Lukas could do to the whole Academy. Loki had even begged his brother not to go to the party, his brother who Loki had almost died for more than once. Thor had laughed at Loki and also called him jealous.
It had hurt even more than his father’s rejection. Loki was well aware his father didn’t care for him or trust him, but he had thought things were different with his friends. He had thought that at least one of them would trust him enough to skip the party or at least not eat the food. But no. It was a story Loki was too used to but for some reason he thought it would be different this time. Thought someone would trust him. Stupid Loki, not learning his lesson the first thousand times.
So everyone had gone, and everyone had eaten and now everyone was just another fuel cell for Lukas who was currently blabbering on about his plans or something equally unimportant. Everyone but Loki, who had politely refused for a quiet night in with his book. Lukas had seemed disappointed, but hadn’t pressed the issue at all. Honestly he was surprised Lukas hadn’t gone looking for him, maybe he thought Loki would be just fine with what was happening or maybe he didn’t see Loki as a threat.
All of that led Loki to now. He was currently hiding on the other side of the room from Lukas and he’d been slowly making his way over to the wall where Lukas’ captive audience was slowly starting to wake up again. Luckily, Bruce was very close to the edge of the group. All Loki would need to do was free him and purge the drugs from his system, then he could work on freeing the others while the Hulk kept Lukas busy. Or that was the plan until Loki actually got over to where Bruce was. It took five seconds of pushing at the power sucking collar to know there was no way he was getting it or the cuffs off Bruce without risking killing him. He was going to need to shut down the machine on Lukas’ back and get the keys off Lukas’ belt. Still, he had the element of surprise for right now, and that was going to be his only advantage in this fight. Slowly Loki began to make his way across the room, silently. If he could just get behind Lukas...
But then Loki’s luck ran out and his foot slipped on a unstable bit of cracked rock. The noise created was near silent. It was enough though, and Lukas’ head swiveled directly towards where Loki was standing, invisible. Everyone who was awake in the room followed his gaze too. Lukas’ face twisted into a smile.
“So you finally decided to come out to play, my dear?”
No point in being invisible now, Loki brushed himself off and dropped the spell, doing his best to look uninterested at everything around him. He looked Lukas straight in the eye and gave a cocky reply.
“Well I thought I’d swing by after all and see what all the fuss was about, but it looks like I missed the main event. What a shame.”
Lukas seemed amused at least enough to not attack him right away. Instead he just stepped forward towards Loki and gave a gesture towards where everyone else lay bound. “Oh don’t worry my dear, I didn’t have anything like this planned for you. You’re not like the rest of them after all. You’re special, a lovely little thing that others are so blind to.” Another step forward. Loki stood his ground.
“My apologies, Lukas, but you really can’t expect me to fall for that, can you? I’m the god of lies, you can’t fool me that easily.”
To Loki’s surprise, Lukas seemed… upset by his comment. Loki’s eyes narrowed at the unexpected reaction.
“My dear, I’m afraid you’re mistaken!” Another step forward. “I’ve told you no lies, I love you far too much for that. I didn’t even lie to you about the nature of this dinner! Not that you wouldn’t have found out on your own, you’re so clever my dear, but I made sure you knew. I couldn’t stand to lie to you, never you my dear.” Another step, Lukas looked almost pleading. “I do not want to rule this world alone, though for so long I thought I would have to. I thought I would never meet my match. Then I met you and I knew we were destined to be together.”
Another step, Lukas was getting close now. Loki could feel himself almost shaking with the realization that this wasn’t a trick. That Lukas meant everything he was saying. “It’s okay my dear. You don’t need to be afraid of me. I will never lie to you, unlike everyone else here. How many times have they told you that they were your friends? That they were your allies or teachers or caretakers? Only to have them turn on you with at the drop of a hat.”
Lukas paused, sorrow in his eyes. He was almost touching Loki now and Loki couldn’t help but take a step back.
“My dear, I know you don’t want it to be true but you know I’m the one who really cares about you. Just look at what happened when you tried so bravely to warn them of tonight. Not even your own father, brother or any of your so called friends believed you, did they?”
For all that Loki was called a silvertongue, his words could not help him here. His eyes fell instead, unable to look at the pity that painted Lukas’ face. Anyone could see Loki was shaking now, pretending that he wasn’t on the edge of tears.
“I’m sorry dear. I didn’t want to upset you. It will all be just fine, don’t worry. They can’t hurt you anymore. Now you see how bad they are for you, you can come with me. You’ll rule by my side, as my equal. I’ll take care of you. I’ll keep you safe from them.”
For a moment, Loki considered it. Well and truly. He looked up into Lukas’ eyes and knew that he was telling the truth. There was no trick or plot here. With the amount of power currently coursing through Lukas’ veins there was no need for one. For just one moment, Loki allowed himself to see a future beside Lukas, of being adored and loved for the rest of his life. Lukas was holding out his hand now, offering it, so kindly waiting for Loki.
But Loki knew better then that. As tempting as it was, Loki knew he could never take his hand. Most of it was that he had long ago resigned himself to his fate, of being called a liar, of saving others again and again and getting nothing but criticism, of mistrust and hatred. It was familiar now, he could live with it. A much smaller part of himself, the part that gave him the courage for what came next, whispered that he would miss talking to Tony. Miss spending hours debating Stephen on the proper method of medium sized object transportation. Miss watching Tony bounce up and down when he got excited. Miss the early mornings hours he and Stephen would spend in silence reading together.
Loki glanced down at Lukas’ hand. Taking a deep breath, he moved quick as a flash and pulled his knife from it’s holster. Lukas wasn’t expecting the action, and Loki had just enough time to slice one of the three tubes off the top of the machine that Lukas was wearing on his back before shoving Lukas as hard as he could. Which, considering Loki’s strength, was pretty damn hard and sent Lukas into the wall on the other side of the room. He snarled as he moved, because he knew how much power Lukas had right now and he knew these might be his last words.
“I don’t need anyone to take care of me.”
Lukas slowly staggered back to his feet, looking at his shirt now stained with goop pouring from his machine. Down to his now bloody hands. Then back at Loki. His face twisted from shock to an ugly rage. Apparently cutting the machine hadn’t disabled it entirely, only lessened the power adsorption, because the next thing Loki knew he was getting thrown across the room himself. He could feel at least two bones break in the next second as Lukas smashed him around and distantly he could hear someone shouting his name. His focus was more on Lukas though, as the other was now holding him up by the hem of his shirt.
“You DARE-. I am the only one who has ever trusted you.” Loki felt himself slammed against the wall. His head was probably bleeding now. “I am the ONLY one who has ever cared for you.” Lukas had taken his knife from him somehow and now it was buried in Loki’s arm. “I am the ONLY one who has ever loved you!” Another slam against the wall, more brutal than before. Loki concentrated through the pain though, pulling at all of his magic, all of his strength and condensing it into a single blow. Lukas had paused in his assault, clearly waiting for Loki to grovel in apology.
Loki did no such thing. Instead he forced his eyes open and felt the power thrumming throughout his whole body come together.
“Not my fault you made such a shitty choice.” He said it with a grin forced to his face, because nobody was better then laughing when they felt like crying than Loki. And with that, he pulled his magic to him and let it loose. It was the first time he could recall in his life having used all of his power and it was not a time that would be easily forgotten.
Lukas, despite having power from some of the universe’s most powerful beings, stood no chance. Loki’s power blast blew him off of Loki and across the room. It shattered the machine on his back and damn near killed Lukas. The very foundation of the room cracked where he had landed, as did the earth below it. The entire room had fallen silent. Nobody, not Thor, not Odin and certainly not any of the other students had ever seen such a power display from Loki, far more used to silly pranks or small bursts of power while fighting. The collars had all deactivated with the breaking of the machine, but nobody even thought to move, instead focused on where Loki was still leaning against the wall.
One breath in. One breath out. Loki blinked, feeling empty and rung out from the use of his magic. All of the anger that had been burning in him before had fled him and now all he had left to feel was empty and hurt. Still, his job wasn’t done. Loki pushed himself away from the wall, stumbling forward and ignoring the pain from the broken bone in his left leg and right arm. It was hard, but he pressed onwards and managed to straighten out his step by the time he reached Lukas. Thankful the keys were easy to reach, and there was only a single set for all prisoners. Loki then turned to look at the captives, all of them were still shell-shocked (or heavily drugged still). Glancing over his options of those that seemed most alert, Loki was thankful to see Steve was awake and seemed semi-responsive. Also close by. It only took a minute for Loki to free him and drop the keys in his hands. Steve reacted just in time to catch them and regard Loki with wide eyes. In all honesty Loki didn’t have the energy to care.
“Can you take care of getting everyone freed?”
After taking a moment to process the question, Steve quickly nodded. His face settled into his “Captain America” mode and Loki had no doubt that he would be fine to free the others on his own. Lukas was down for the count, that much was for sure. Loki gave him a nod back and pushed himself to his feet before Steve (or anyone else) could protest.
“Great. If anyone needs me, tell them to fuck off because I’m going to go sleep for a week.”
And with that, before anyone could stop him (and moving surprisingly quickly against the pain of broken bones) Loki picked his way across the room and out of the dining hall. Once he was out of the hall, he half heartedly pulled the knife out of his arm. Huh. He probably bleed on Steve a bit. Oh well, he’d apologize later. It was only a minute or two after that before he was in his dorm. After ensuring his defenses were up and his room locked, Loki collapsed down onto his bed. He was covered in pain and blood head to toe, but he couldn’t care less.
Only then did Loki allow himself to cry. His tears were silent least the bugs he knew were just outside his dorm (because why would he be allowed any privacy) pick up his moment of weakness. Sobs shook his shoulders, hurting his ribs which were at the very least bruised, but he couldn’t stop. Luckily, he was too tired to cry for long and he was too tired for his normal nightmares so as he drifted off he did so into a dreamless sleep.
He awoke fifteen hours later. Bleary eyed, he tried to sit up and figure out why he felt so achy before both his current condition and the memories of the night before hit him like a car on the highway. It took a lot for him not to scream out in agony at the sudden pain the movement brought. Deep breaths. After calming himself, Loki reached for his magic. It was still weakened from the use the night before, but the rest had done him well and it was partially restored. At the very least he had enough magic to clean himself up, set his bones and close all his battle wounds. He didn’t have enough magic to relieve the pain or completely heal himself, but he could take care of that later. For now, he needed to eat to restore himself. Then go back to sleep. With how comfortable his bed was though, he was tempted to rearrange that order.
Loki allowed himself just a moment of laying in bed before he sighed and pushed himself to his feet. It hurt, but by now he had adapted to the pain accompanying every movement. He wouldn’t need to go far anyways, there was a stocked refrigerator down the hallway after all. It was mostly for those that hated going to the more crowded public spaces, but open for anyone to take from. If Loki had been of his right mind, he would’ve bothered to check the space outside his dorm before pushing his door open, but as it stood he was too tired to think of it. Why would anyone be there after all? They’d all proven yesterday where their loyalties lay.
That was really the only excuse he had for why when he opened the door to find the normally empty hallway holding what could only be described as a slumber parties worth of people, he froze up. Tony, he could have maybe, sort of expected. Jan was often found where Tony was, and Steve could be explained since he always felt responsible for others and Loki had left him in charge of the situation. Thor was known for sitting outside his brother’s dorm room for ages when Loki was avoiding him. Everyone else though… There was probably twenty people out in the hallway, all other students. He was able to easily pick out Stephen, Widow, Barton, Ms. Marvel, Amora, Sam, Vision, the Winter Soldier and Bruce, with plenty more students at the edge of his sight. All of them had clearly been waiting awhile, since they had been busying themselves with other things like books, tech, conversation or sleeping. It all froze when he opened his door though. For several heart beats, nobody made a move. Then Thor tried to push himself to his feet and Loki couldn’t help himself. He panicked, too hurt and vulnerable to deal with the sad look in his brother’s eyes. Unable to deal with more shame and disappointment. So he jumped backwards and slammed the door. Quickly locking it on instinct alone.
At least he wasn’t hungry anymore.
Loki paused for a moment, and tried to convince himself to go deal with the situation outside his door. He couldn’t though. Too tired, the use of his magic to heal himself overtaking him and instead he just fell back onto his bed and passed out.
It took twelve hours for him to wake up this time, and it was late into the night when he did. His magic had resurged, but not as much as he would’ve liked. Not eating was not going to be an option for much longer. Loki looked at the door and wondered if he had enough in him to teleport to the fridge and back. Probably not. This time he was much more cautious about approaching the door, activating his peephole spell to see out. There were only two forms outside the door now. The energy signatures very familiar to him by now. Tony, and more surprisingly, Stephen. With a pause, Loki considered his options. On one hand, he wasn’t sure if he had the emotional energy to deal with the two of them right now. On the other, he was starting to really feel hungry and he was pretty sure the two of them would leave if he asked them to.
In the end, hunger won out and Loki carefully opened the door. His two crushes looked up at him as he did so, and he almost fled again. It was only Tony’s quick words that stopped him.
“Please don’t go! I promise we’ll leave if you want.”
And who was Loki to resist a plea like that. He slunk out of his room with his back against the door (though honestly that was more to take the weight off his broken leg then anything), eyeing the two of them warily. Stephen looked him up and down, clearly searching for visible injuries and looking suspicious when he found none. Loki said nothing, not really sure what to say. It was Tony that spoke up first, far more quiet then his normal excitable tone.
“We thought you might be hungry.” A plate of food was offered to him. All Indian, Loki’s favorite. A peace offering. Loki accepted the plate, but still said nothing, though this time more out of shock than anything else. Tony took that as an Okay to keep talking.
“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you about Lukas. Everyone else is too, for obvious reasons. But I’m- well extra sorry sounds really dumb now that I try to say it out loud. Really sorry? Very sorry? Okay, getting off topic here. The point is, I fucked up big time. I trusted some guy I’d known less then a month over you, and you’ve never lied to any of us about something important like that before. The very least I could’ve done was not go to that dumb party. Even if you had just been jealous of Lukas, you were upset and you are my friend and I’m supposed to be there for you. I’m really, really sorry Loki. You’ve been really trying your best and we’ve all been ignoring all the progress you’ve made. You don’t have to forgive me, or any of us really, but I wanted you to know that I’m- that all of us are sorry.”
It took a minute for Loki to figure out how to talk again. It was rare enough that he was apologized to, let alone so sincerely. He had been expecting people to be upset with him for not stopping Lukas in the first place, or for doing damage to the Academy or for not staying around until everyone was freed. He hadn’t been expecting this. Still, he managed to gather himself enough to speak, and for once in his life he tried to not hide behind sarcastic quips and rude comments.
“I- I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting that. It’s okay, you had reason to not listen to me. Jan told you too go after all and you’ve known her a lot longer. I should’ve gathered more evidence to make people listen to me. Or stopped Lukas from drugging the food in the first place. Or stopped him before he could collar people. Though to be fair, I didn’t know that was his end goal, I just knew about the sleeping drug. I was just being an asshole and wanted to be proved right so I waited until I knew he’d done something to act and I waited way too long to do anything.”
Loki was stumbling over his words now, this sort of open honesty unfamiliar to him. He was mostly focusing on trying not to get too emotional. God knows how upset his father would be with him if he found out he’d cried in front of other students. In fact he was so caught up in himself that he completely missed the absolutely horrified expressions from Stephen and Tony. It was Stephen that spoke this time, snapping him out of it.
“Loki… no. You are not at fault for what happened. It’s not your fault that we were all assholes who didn’t listen to our friend, and nobody is blaming you for anything. I wouldn’t blame you if you hadn’t gone up against him at all with how all of us acted, but you did anyways and you saved the entire academy.”
There was already a protest forming on Loki’s lips, but it seems Tony caught it before he could say anything.
“Listen, hey it’s okay. We don’t need to argue about this right now. Why don’t we get you back in your room so you can eat and rest a bit more, okay?”
The sudden change in conversation was a bit off putting, but then Loki noticed his own breathing was heavily labored. Oh. His ribs might be more then bruised if that was all it took to wind him. Stephen caught on to what Tony had seen too and his eyes narrowed. Before Loki could protest, he was being swept into his room by the other sorcerer who forced him straight into his bed. Then he was getting poked at and he could hear Tony and Stephen talking even though it seemed quite far away, before he felt Stephen’s magic flood over him and the rest of his injuries healed themselves. The relief from pain made Loki want to cry all over again. It had been such a long time since he had been healed by anything other then his own magic. Tony fed him food after that, and Loki was too tired to argue with him about it. He only managed about half the plate before he was drifting off.
When he awoke next, he had expected to wake up alone but instead he found two bodies carefully curled around him. Protecting him from the world. It was the safest he could recall feeling in a long time.
There were still things to be done. Loki was due to hear a lot more apologies, easier ones like Wid- Natasha’s which consisted of a quiet ‘sorry’ that they both silently agreed to never mention again, and harder ones like his brother’s which was a long talk between the two of them that left both feeling rung out. His father never apologized to him, not that Loki was expecting him to, but he would let up on Loki (out of respect or fear) so there was that at least. Surprisingly, Fury would apologize to Loki. Fury didn’t like to admit he was wrong, but he would call Loki to his office to give him a quite sincere apology for failing as the school’s headmaster when Loki had tried to trust him. Even Amora would apologize to Loki for not listening to his warning, though half-heartedly. Quite a few people who, formerly felt perfectly safe in antagonizing Loki would change their tune quite a bit. He would also be getting picked first in training exercises quite a bit more since his power display. There were also conversations to be had with Stephen and Tony about exactly what he was to them (boyfriend was a midgardian word that he would quickly learn to love). All that would be nice, awkward, emotional exhaustion and complicated but it was all for the future.
Right now, Loki just pushed his head into Stephen’s back and wiggled a little so Tony felt more comfortable against his side and allowed himself to drift back to sleep. Right now he was safe. Right now there were people who cared about him enough to stay. Right now everything was good.
Who knows, with a right now so good, maybe the future would be too.