Tony had once said he had no intention of having Loki over for Thanksgiving, and he had meant it. Yet here he was, five years later, Loki, the rest of the brood, and some very special friends sitting around his fancy decorated table on his private floor of his tower. Neither he nor Pepper were into the whole cooking big meals thing, so highly recommended caterers were taking care of that for them (though that didn’t stop Steve and May, and by extension by Peter, from making sure there wasn’t something they could do). They’d had Thanksgiving dinner before, but never all of them at once, and this was the first one Loki could actually make (apparently the god was needed by SHIELD every single Thanksgiving. There didn’t even have to be a bad guy out there, Fury came up with something that Loki had to go along with. Tony suspected it was because of that time that Loki ‘accidently’ turned Coulson’s suit bubble gum pink). Tony figured the only reason Loki was allowed out to this one was the fact it was doubling as the ‘congratulations for getting out on parole’ point of Loki’s sentence. The God of Mischief had put in enough good behavior to get to the point of ‘go and do whatever you want but mess up even a little bit and your ass is back in jail’. Loki found the whole thing hilarious, and everyone knew they were kidding themselves thinking Loki would do anything he didn’t want to do. With all that going on, Pepper had decided a Thanksgiving/congratulations for getting out of jail family dinner was in order.
They were all sitting around the (way bigger than it actually had to be, but hey, he could afford it) table, waiting for the food to be brought out. Pepper was beside him, though at the moment she was more Hela than Pepper (she was trying so hard to accept herself. After watching Loki slowly drag himself to self-acceptance, she felt she had to try). Her dual hair was tied back in a high ponytail, meaning she couldn’t hide her face behind it and she wearing a short sleeved shirt that kept her bare arms on display. The fact she was willingly appearing that way in front of non-family members was a huge step. Tony was so proud of her. Wong was on her right, alone because apparently dating disturbed your spiritual awareness. The twins were on his lap, faces scrunched up in concentration as they tried to copy the hand movements that went with a basic spell he was showing them (because that’s all those children needed, more magic). Then came Bucky, an arm casually slung around Steve’s shoulder with their son in a highchair at Steve’s side. Baby Simon was chewing on a plastic teething toy and gurgling happily.
On Tony’s other side, Peter was vibrating with nervous energy and mouth going a mile a minute about his science fair project. His aunt was beside him, talking to Sleipnir about an adventure he had in another realm. Tony had to admit that Sleipnir was really interesting to talk to, when you got him talking about other realms and the times he’d been there (being a horse didn’t seem to make his travels any less adventurous). Bruce came next, because every single Avenger had an open invitation (most of them had families of their own to spend time with, but they were always welcome) and was his Science Bro besides. He too was listening to Sleipnir’s tale. The Maximoff twins were sitting together, Pietro talking over his sister’s back to playfully flirt with an amused Amora (and yes, she made him nervous. Amora, glamoured up to hide her identity or not, was still a part time supervillain. The only reason Tony invited her anywhere was because he had an honest to God fear of her pulling a Maleficent if he didn’t extend an invitation to these things. Pepper assured him she wouldn’t put the twins though that, but he had his doubts. He wasn’t risking it, and besides, he always had Loki to distract her) and Wanda leaning over to talk to Loki about the newest magic he was teaching her. Then of course, sitting at the end of the table with Christine Everhart as his ‘date’ (he wouldn’t admit it to Pepper ever, but he had been in on the bet that those two would end up being something. He couldn’t decide if he was sad to lose the money or not. He also wasn’t sure if they showed up to things together to mess with him, given the smirk they both always gave when he first noticed them. Pepper, the traitor, found the whole thing hilarious), was Loki. Sitting in the place of honour (or dishonor, since former supervillain) and completely over dressed, the god looked happy. Really happy. It was just a tad bit touching, even Tony could admit that.
Maybe most of those people weren’t family in the strictest sense, but Tony had figured out a long time ago that the family you chose was the strongest of all. These were some of the people the lot of them had chosen.
“-And then I plan to rewire the circuits. It should work, but maybe you could look over the plan? I don’t think that’s cheating.”
“Sure thing Kid,” Tony replied, and Peter beamed.
“Thank you Mr. Stark!”
“Really Parker, you can stop calling me Mr. Stark. I think we’ve known each other long enough for me to be Tony.”
“Sure thing Mr. Stark,” oh, the little brat did that on purpose, if the twinkling eyes were any indication.
“Cheeky brat,” he grumbled, and the teenager grinned.
Pepper laughed at him and leaned into his side. He took hold of one of her hands under the table, placed his other one on the bump of her stomach, and then kissed her. He ignored his daughter’s ‘eww gross!’ and then answered her complaint by sticking out his tongue at her. Angela did it in turn, and Pepper swatted his arm.
“Don’t teach her that!”
“What? Your father is already teaching her how to use magic to play pranks. Sticking out her tongue is the least of our worries.”
Loki heard him, because Tony caught sight of his smirk out of the corner of his eye. He looked over, and Loki tripped his glass of wine in his direction. Tony really hated him most of the time.
“Speaking of tongues, did Hela ever tell you about that time she got hers stuck to icicles at the top of a cave?”
Pepper made an outraged sound, “Fenrir don’t you dare! I’ll tell Steve about the time you dyed your fur green!”
“You will not!”
“I don’t know,” Wong spoke up, “We could always talk about the time the two of you caused an avalanche.”
“I will find every magician in existence and tell them how you broke a whole building because you wanted an apple!”
All of this sounded like a gleeful to Tony. He loved watching the sibling drama unfold and he was enjoying the hell out of this. God, he hoped this story got told. He wanted to know all about little Pepper and icicles.
Out of them all, Sleipnir was snickering the loudest, at least until Loki’s amused voice broke in, “Don’t feel too superior Sel. They could always share the times you tripped over your own legs long after you’d mastered how to walk.”
“Father!” The former horse was appalled. Loki just smirked.
Okay, maybe Tony didn’t hate Loki after all, “Can we please hear all the Lokifamily embarrassing stories? Can we all learn just how like your father you all are?”
Loki gave Tony a half-hearted glare and it was Tony’s turn to tip his glass in Loki’s direction. Amora snorted and Christine turned her face to hide a quiet laugh, and good. Let Loki be the one to get laughed at for once. Loki just let the insult pass.
Peter was asking questions that gotten him kicked if Sleipnir was still a horse, “How hard was it to run on those legs? You had eight, right?”
“Peter, I think that might be a rude question,” May interrupted in a chiding tone.
“Actually,” Bruce spoke, “I’ve wondered that as well. Physics says it shouldn’t work.”
“Who needs physics when you’re made of magic?” Amora commented, and Wanda added a ‘cheers’ to it.
Ugh. Even after all this time, it made Tony grit his teeth, when someone answered with ‘it’s magic’ and left it like that. He believed in magic, could accept it, but he was determined to find out how it actually worked. It had to work with science somehow, and he would find out how eventually. Pepper’s sighs and insisting that he was wasting his time would not dissuade him.
“Oh, Sel had quite the hard time making his legs work together when he began the fine art of battle training,” Loki spoke up, “There was lots of tripping, and he was well over a century old.”
“Father, I will find a way to stomp on you!”
“At least wait until after dinner.”
Tony was having a ball. They had to get them all together more often, if this was a result.
“Before anyone gets stomped, can I hear the green fur story?” Steve asked, and then umphed when Bucky elbowed him in the side.
Tony must have looked like a kid at Christmas, because that’s when Bruce looked him directly in the eyes and looked devious. Oh no, “Hey Jarvis.”
“Yes Dr. Banner?” The robotic voice answered.
“Since we’re going over the Lokifamily embarrassing stories, do you have any to share about Tony? He’s part of the family after all.”
“Of course, Dr. Banner. Many of them involve the Iron Man suit, which I’m sure Mr. Silvertongue would quite enjoy.”
And yeah, the way Loki’s face lit up told him that Jarvis was right. Damn the fact that Loki had managed to charm his AI.
“Traitors,” he muttered, and he wasn’t sure if he was talking about Bruce or Jarvis.
“Oh! I have one!” Peter raised his hand in excitement, “We were in the Stark Industries lab, and Mr. Stark-“
“Say another word and you’re never getting another upgrade ever again. Then I’ll get May to share your highlights with the class.”
Peter pouted but stayed silent, but Tony saw Pepper considering the friendly neighbourhood Spiderman, and damn she was going to hear that story, wasn’t she?
Christine was looking at Loki’s chuckling and raised an eyebrow, “It’s bold of you to be laughing, since I bet more than one person at this table has your worst moments filed away in their memory.” God Tony loved how willing that woman was to put Loki in his place.
Across the table, a sharp grin crawled across Amora’s lips. It was a look that made the hair on the back of Tony’s neck stand up on edge, because that was usually the look she had when she was about to blow something up. Instead, she merely leveled her look at Loki and rested her chin on her hands. Oh, Tony knew where this was going. He also clapped his hands in excitement. Loki, however, showed no sign of distress that one of his oldest friends was about to tell all. Instead, he merely took a sip of his drink and addressed her.
“You’re not going to say anything. I’ve known you for thirteen hundred years, and I’m not the only one who has embarrassed themselves.”
Amora sighed but said nothing. Damnit. Tony would try and get some stuff out of her later.
“What about you Barnes? Anything you want to share about Cap?” Steve was Pietro’s favourite Avenger, so of course he went there.
Tony wondered how much of this the caterers were hearing from the kitchen, and then wondered how much of this was going to get out into the public record. It wouldn’t be the first time someone overheard some little tidbit of information about them and then leaked it to the tabloids. This was a group of Avengers, gods, and Space Vikings- there wasn’t a day in the past six years where one of them weren’t in a tabloid. One great thing about his father-in-law being friends with a reporter meant that Everhart could tell them exactly when they had the right to threaten to sue for libel. So far the threats had been enough and they hadn’t to actually sue anyone. At least there seemed to be nothing damning coming out so far.
“Tons of them!” Bucky replied cheerfully, “Pre-super soldier Steve was one big embarrassing moment.”
“Share away,” Steve called his boyfriend’s bluff with an equally cheerful tone, “just remember I was there for yours too.”
“At least you didn’t turn green in any of them Fen,” Wong deadpanned, seeming he was maybe trying to help.
Bucky deadpanned right back, “It was a really funny story. We tried to tell Jor he was too heavy to climb in top of the greenhouse without shapeshifting, but he had to have one of Idunn’s apples. Hey Sel, how long did it take to get it fully functional again?”
“About a month, if I remember correctly.”
“And how long did it take to rebuild the stables after you demolished it trying to impress one of the Norn Queen’s Pegasus?” Wong answered calmly.
“Hmm?” Loki said, glancing at eldest son, “Why haven’t I heard about this? Do tell.”
Sleipnir remained tightlipped and Wong started to tell the story. Pepper muttered something about the stupidity of getting involved with anything Norn related and Bucky was leaning back in his chair, looking more like the proverbial cat than a got the cream than a wolf.
They were all laughing by the end, even Sel when Maria exclaimed “I think you’d make a great boyfriend Uncle Sel!’ when the horse’s rejection was brought up. Angela nodded her heard fiercely, agreeing that the lady horse was stupid, and he could find a better one. Apparently, all it took to calm Sleipnir’s injured pride was a pair of adorably precocious nieces. Which duh, because Tony’s daughters were delightful.
The thoughts of embarrassing stories passed for now, though Tony assumed it would make a comeback later. He really hoped he got to hear that tongue story later. They chatted about different things amongst themselves. Eventually Steve, closest to the kitchen door, announced the food was coming. Pepper got the twins in their booster seats and Steve got down to the fun job of convincing a one-year-old to eat. Food was passed around and drinks refilled. Tony looked up and found his wife watching him.
“What?” He asked, “Do I have something in my teeth?”
“I love you,” She said simply.
Tony was a bit surprised by the sudden declaration, but he wanted it all the same, “I love you too Pep.”
And he did, more than anything. He loved his wife and his children. He loved everything about this moment, surrounded by his extended family and friends who might as well be. Pepper was as safe as she could be. Pepper had chosen her destiny and had let him join her in it. Tony Stark had no idea how he had gotten lucky enough to be her choice, but he thanked every god everyday for it. He looked around him, looked at the crazy family he had stumbled into, and he was glad. Tony wasn’t sure what happily ever after really was, but if he had to wager a guess, it would look something like this.