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Good Times, Bad Decisions

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It starts with Loki clinging to the broken edge of the Bifröst. It starts with, “No, Loki.” And it starts with a fall. Loki doesn’t know how long he falls between the branches of Yggdrasil, through deepest black and blazing stars and mottled nebulas. Maybe minutes, maybe years, maybe no time at all. His chest tightens, lungs constantly searching for breath, and his eyes stream and itch and burn all at once. If he screams, he does not hear it, but his throat feels raw so he must have. And then—after a fractional eternity—the blackness of between abates and frigid atmosphere digs its claws into his clothes, his flesh, and he is being pulled.

Loki doesn’t remember the last moments of his fall, nor does he remember the moment his weakened body impacts the hard crust of Midgard’s surface. He only remembers soul-deep pain, an agony that is both physical and metaphysical. And then he is cocooned in a crater shaped to the shattered angles of his body, staring up at a clear blue sky and hearing only an abstract buzz of activity happening beyond the limited range of his sight. He vaguely registers voices speaking English, speaking rapidly and speaking over each other, shouting over the ear-pressing throb of strange machinery.

Then all semblance of consciousness slips away…

 

 

…Awareness returns slowly. Crawling in like an unsure mouse and retreating several times before feeling safe enough to fully emerge. Loki has no way of knowing how much time as passed, but, judging by the stillness and emptiness of the room around her, assumes that several weeks have gone by. The walls and ceiling are stark white, as is the bedding and the simple cotton clothing she is wearing. There is a window off to her left that shows the tops of buildings and an expanse of dim blue sky.

A steady beeping emits from an interesting array of machinery pressed to the walls on either side of the bed and there are several wires connecting said machines to her body. One such wire slips under the v-collar of her shirt and attaches to a node stuck over her heart. Other wires attach to needles stuck under the skin of her hand and the crook of her elbow; another goes to a clip over her index finger; a final pair of wires goes to her temples and the center of her forehead.

Interesting.

Physically, Loki feels whole and well. Magically, she feels exhausted and utterly drained. Looking at the Æsir pink of her flesh and the fact that she has shifted to her female form, Loki knows she has some magic left—but only the inherent sort that comes from being a natural Jötunn shapeshifter. The kind of magic that not even a sorcerer as powerful as Odin is capable of binding. The kind that cannot be easily depleted and is the first thing to return when healing from grievous injury.

Loki tries to lifts a hand to remove the irritating patches from her face, but can only manage to raise her arm a few sad inches before the strain becomes too much. She snarls silently and then shifts her focus on wriggling the clip on her finger. The moment it detaches, one of the machines behind her head emits a sour note and then picks up an obnoxious, trilling alarm. Loki grumbles and tries to sit up, wants to sit up and take a better look at where she is…

It is some kind of healing room, that much is obvious, but where? She suspects she is still on Midgard, based on the machinery and the view of outside. Beyond that, she hasn’t the slightest idea.

A door opens to her right, hissing as it slides on tracks in the floor and ceiling. Loki turns her head on the pillow and watches with narrowed eyes as a man enters the room. He is a rather generic looking mortal male: pale skin, thinning brown hair, stocky build, and bland expression. Dark eyes meet Loki’s green and the man’s expression is utterly inscrutable.

“It’s good to see you’re finally awake,” the man says mildly. He slides the door shut behind him and strides across the room with quiet confidence. He reaches just past Loki’s line of vision, but she hears the soft tapping of his fingers on a screen and seconds later the trilling alarm cuts out. Then he is reaching for something on the side of her bed. The cot begins to buzz, Loki eyes widening in alarm as it does so, and then lifts slowly until she is reclined at forty-five degrees. At this new angle, Loki has a better vantage of her surroundings—little that it helps, the room is still sterilely white and concerningly quiet. The man steps back from the bed and clasps his hands in front of him, standing at neutral and regarding her with only the faintest bit of curiosity.

“Who are you?” she asks. Her voice is little more than a painful rasp and her throat is so dry it clicks when she attempts to swallow. The mortal man helpfully supplies her with a glass of water from the bedside table and puts a straw to her lips so she may drink her fill. When she tilts her head away to indicate she is finished, he sets the glass aside and resumes his neutral stance.

“My name is Agent Coulson,” he replies. “I represent the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. Or SHIELD, for short.” He stops to let Loki absorb this information and even seems to wait for her lift an eyebrow at him. This means nothing to her and he knows it. The corner of his mouth twitches upward in the barest hint of a smile. This man is clever and keen and allows his appearance to deceive—Loki thinks she likes him.

“Where am I?” Loki asks next, eyes straying once again to the window and the gray clouds slowly roving across the sky.

“Norway,” Coulson replies promptly. “In a private compound near Galdbygde. You made planet-fall six days ago and landed at the edge of Jotunheimen National Park. We had to leave you where you were for nearly forty-six hours before anyone could touch you without getting hurt.”

The man’s eyes narrow slightly as he says this. He is watching her closely, looking for a tell, for some indication of understanding. Loki stares right back and blinks at him slowly, though it takes some effort not to react to the name of the park. What a terrible cosmic joke.

“What’s interesting is that rather than being the molten pile of alien-goo a fall like that ought to have made you, you were quite the opposite. You were so cold, in fact, the first guy to touch you lost a finger to frostbite.”

Loki huffs a sigh and relents. “I imagine I was also blue at the time?”

“If it hadn’t been for that, we would have assumed you were Asgardian.”

“Æsir,” Loki corrects automatically, “and no, I am not. But Asgard is where I fell from.”

“The Bifröst?” asks Coulson, he has a small metal device out and is tapping at it rapidly with his thumbs. “We have readings of its energy from a few months ago, during a little visit from the God of Thunder. You were covered in traces of that same energy when you…arrived.”

Loki makes a face at the mention of Thor and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

“You’re acquainted, then,” Coulson says, assumes correctly.

“In a manner, yes,” Loki grudgingly admits.

When she says no more, Coulson releases a small huff of a sigh and says, “Ma’am, my job is to determine whether or not you can be trusted on Earth. If I leave this room anything less than one hundred percent certain that you have no plans to do harm to the planet or anyone on it, you will spend the rest of your existence locked up so tight in SHIELD’s custody, it’ll make super-max on Asgard look like a preschool.”

I’d like to see you try, Loki thinks viciously, though she knows not to say it aloud. Because she knows Midgard is her best bet at the moment, while she doesn’t have the physical strength to sit up or the magical strength to teleport. There is currently no place in all the Nine Realms that she can or wants to go. Helheim is exclusively for the dead; Muspelheim is inhospitable to Frost Giants; Alfheim is unpalatable to her in its goodness; and Svartalfheim is home to dwarves who would gladly remove her head from her neck. Niflheim is far too like Jötunheim and Jötunheim does not even bear consideration and even if Vanaheim were not so closely allied with Asgard, Sigyn’s presence alone is enough to keep Loki away.

“You make a compelling argument,” she tells the man drolly.

“I try,” he replies, affable as ever.

“If you must know, Thor and I were raised as brothers”—unsurprisingly, Coulson does not blink at her implied masculine pronouns despite her current female form—“but the recent family drama that I’m sure you’ve heard about put a rather sizeable strain on our relationship. I decided to drop myself off the side of the Bifröst, which, by the way, is quite destroyed at the moment and will not be easily repaired.”

Coulson says nothing for a moment, just stares at Loki with a faintly contemplative expression. Then, after a minute has passed, says, “What name would you prefer I use for my report?”

“Pardon?” asks Loki, caught off guard by the question.

“I assume you don’t want to be called Odinson after the, ah, family drama, as you put it.”

Loki curls her lip, there goes her anonymity. “No, I do not.” She considers the many names and titles she has accrued over the centuries, some kind and some cruel and many merely descriptive. Most cannot be logically adapted into a Midgardian style surname and the one that already is, happens to be the name of a popular science-fictional character. She sighs. “I suppose Lie-Smith will have to do. It is the easiest of my many kennings to make a name from.”

“Miss Lie-Smith, then,” Coulson says and spends the next few hours interrogating her on her motives and reasons for being here. Loki stresses how purely accidental her arrival here was and how little desire she has for total destruction.

“Mischief, yes,” she freely admits, “that is in my nature, but I find total ruination to be the wont of boorish men with no imagination or higher thinking.”

Coulson looks vaguely pained as he replies, “I appreciate your candor, Miss Lie-Smith.”

He concludes their conversation soon after and leaves the room. Loki, annoyingly exhausted by the prolonged interaction, finds herself dozing off before she can do a mental review of everything she managed to learn from the mortal. When she wakes, the sky is dark and smattered with tiny stars and there is a tray waiting for her with a meager meal on. Either these mortals are not aware of her enormous appetite or they think the healing process will make her stomach weak. She’ll have to correct them on this right away.

A week progresses in much the same way: long and pointed conversations with Agent Coulson, hours of restorative sleep, and thankfully bigger meals. By the end of it, Loki feels almost halfway back to her usual level of strength and energy and Coulson seems convinced that, at the very least, she has no wish to damage the planet. Every now and then she catches him sighing and muttering about stark and how much like stark she is. These comments go over her head, she doesn’t know who or what the man is referring to, but it seems to be working in her favor, so she does not ask.

Two days later, she discovers that stark is another mortal man, but a much more delightful one. Able to walk unaided on her own two feet, Loki has been deemed ready for transport to America, where SHIELD operates and has proper jurisdiction. Coulson escorts her to a private jet owned by a man called Tony Stark, whom he regards with a drawn sort of amusement—as though he is endlessly vexed by this man, but also reluctantly fond.

Coulson’s parting words are this: “Mr. Stark has agreed to put you up in his New York home and you can expect me or another agent to check in periodically. Please try to maintain a low profile.”

 

- - -

 

A year and a half later

The room is brimming with bloggers, columnists, photographers, reporters, and—most important of all—fans. The panel at the front of the room is occupied by the main cast of a new movie based on a book called Foreshock from the recently completed Earthshaker Trilogy. The first book became a bestseller and the rest of the series was highly anticipated and received rave reviews. When the first movie was announced two years ago, speculation on the casting went wild.

When an entirely unknown woman named Lona Silver, who has only ever been seen on the arm of Tony Stark, was cast at the last minute as the villain of the series… Anxiety was rampant in the fandom. This woman certainly looked the part—physically, she matched most of the significant character descriptors in the book—but could she act the part?

The Foreshock movie was released just yesterday and those worries were proven needless. Though her part is small in the first installation, Lona Silver stands out and steals every scene she appears in. Even now in this overly bright room, sat at the end of her better-known costars and largely hidden behind the long table, eyes can’t help but wander over to her. Just as her character is described, Lona is remarkably tall—six feet and three and a half inches, to be precise—and porcelain pale with deep ebony hair. Her posture is queenly, her cheekbones high, and her brow regal. Everything about her is elegant and graceful, her confidence is magnetic, and her bright emerald eyes mesmerizing. The fact that she also speaks with a rich British accent, despite clearly stating that she is Norwegian, is just the cherry on top.

Loki, exceptionally pleased with her guise, crosses her ankles under the table and rests her chin on her clasped hands while she watches the panel progress. It was the simple work of magic and touch of assistance from JARVIS that provided her with all the necessary paperwork and digital presence to be a legitimate member of the human race and to prove she has all the right credentials. Together, they put together an excellent resume to get Loki into movie business—something she deemed worth her while and quite fun. Her natural skills and abilities make her exceptionally well-suited for acting and the job places her right in the middle of chaotic workplaces and hubs of gossip. The potential for mischief is staggering and Loki thrives on it.

“I have a question for Ms. Silver,” says another of many invited to speak. Loki perks up with a delighted smile. “This is your first ever appearance, what made you want to start acting so suddenly? And did you ever imagine your first movie would be a blockbuster?”

Loki chuckles as she leans forward slightly to answer into her microphone. “It was my dear friend Anthony who inspired me to pursue acting. He made some remark about how I was leeching his fame like a Kardashian and I just had to do something to shut him up. So, after I ensured he was no longer able to speak coherently”—she says this last bit with a sultry smirk, relishing in how her audience titters in response—“I put together a resume and set up an audition. As for the second question: yes, I did, because I’ll not accept anything less.”

The panel goes on. The majority of the questions are for the other actors—the ones who have a larger role in the first film—and the director. Loki listens with half an ear while lazily scanning the audience; she happens to catch the eye of a young fan wearing an Earthshaker t-shirt and sends the young mortal girl a wink. The girl flushes bright red and quickly looks away, then glances back, and looks away again with widened eyes when she sees Loki is still looking.

This is Loki’s first experience with “Comicon” but so far she is quite enjoying herself.

“Ms. Silver?”

The young man next to her—a delightful fellow named Rami—nudges her politely.

“Yes, dear?” she says, doing her best impression of Tony at a board meeting while she turns her attention to the mic stand. “So sorry, I was admiring an audience member.”

Said audience chuckles and Loki takes a moment to wiggle her fingers at her blushing fan.

“Your question?” she prompts the speaker at the mic.

The middle-aged woman at the mic asks: “Your character, Gaia, has a much more physical presence in the second installation and there is a very significant fight-scene halfway through the novel. Do you have a diet and exercise schedule already planned to prepare for this?”

Loki stares at the woman. What in Midgardian Hell is this mortal going on about? Diet and exercise? Does Loki look like she needs diet and exercise? Why is she even being asked about diet and exercise? Her male costars have all been talking about their acting process and how they interpreted their characters and she is asked about nutrition? Loki finds this offensive.

“Are you implying something?” Loki asks outright. She doesn’t have the patience for this kind of stupidity. “Do I look as though I am in need of dietary restrictions or an exercise regime?” The woman on the mic stutters; there is a whoop somewhere in the audience. Loki goes on, “I am trained in several forms of hand-to-hand combat. I have also trained with swords, daggers, lances, staffs, bow and arrow, and various miscellaneous objects that can be used as a weapon in a pinch. I assure you, I am in peak physical condition and more than capable of performing my own stunts and fight sequences.”

The woman at the mic spews apologies and Loki just waves her off. Her phone buzzes against her thigh. It’s the latest StarkPhone, one of many prototypes that she fondly allows Tony to foist on her, because she doesn’t give a damn about what kind of cellular device she has so long as it works and because Tony can’t help himself constantly upgrading his work. Eventually, one of his earlier models will be mass produced, but in the meantime, he’ll keep upgrading faster than production can handle and Loki will always be on the cutting edge of Stark Tech.

She taps the screen—a see-through touch that appears like misted glass from the back—and a text from, speak of the devil, Tony pops up. He’d mentioned before she left that he was planning on watching a “livestream” of the panel.

You’re so hot when you’re offended by us mere mortals.

Loki rolls her eyes and doesn’t deign to respond to him. A second text appears before she can slide the phone back into her pocket.

I wonder what sorry SHIELD agent is also watching. They’re probably crying about your people skills.

Loki scoffs and the sound is picked up by her mic. She puts on a slightly chagrined expression when her costars turn to look at her and holds up her phone. “My apologies, Anthony is sending me text messages,” she explains. “He’s commenting on my people skills.”

Her delightful friend Rami laughs and says, “The nerve, how dare he!”

“Yes!” Loki agrees, also laughing. “The sheer gall! You’re my new favorite human, Rami. Anthony has just been demoted for slandering my good name.”

Take that back! I did no such thing!

Loki types back: No. You’ll have to earn it back. Then locks her phone and slips it back into her pocket. The panel goes on.

By the end of the event, Loki has not been asked any more questions about her physical preparedness for her role and asked several times about how she gets along with her costars and if she relates to her character and so on. She is also asked about her relationship with Tony, to which she responds by talking about how she read the entire Earthshaker Trilogy in a single afternoon and how she had to read up on Greek Mythology to really get some of the references. She is far more versed in Norse Mythology, you see, but she can see how Greek became popular and why the author chose to use aspects of it for her novels.

After the panel, the cast relocates to a more accessible table where they receive a seemingly never-ending line of fans eager for autographs and photos. Loki does her part in greeting them pleasantly and signing everything they shove at her and holding still while men and women of all ages lean over the table to take a “selfie” with her. One of Loki’s many hang-ups in her new celebrity lifestyle is the expectation that she smiles for the camera. Personally, she finds constant smiling tedious and exhausting and a little too reminiscent of a certain blond oaf. So, she makes a point not to smile in fan-photos or planned photoshoots (of which she has done precisely one, but nevertheless). She keeps her expression pleasant, even amicable, but she does not smile and people seem to have accepted that as one of her Things.

When she grows bored of the constant noise and sweaty energy of Comicon, Loki excuses herself to the lavatory and teleports home once she is sure she is alone in the room. Home, for Loki since her arrival, is an entire floor of Stark Tower in New York City all to herself. She spent perhaps a month in the guest rooms on Tony’s floor and then graduated to where she is now when she was deemed trustworthy. Tony’s estimation of trustworthy seems lax and irresponsible from an outside perspective, but the man is a keen judge of character and SHIELD knows it, though they are loath to admit it. Loki freely enjoys her autonomy and takes a special sort of joy in subtly calling out the agent that try to tail her on a regular basis. She likes to bring them coffees made to their exact preferences and then watch them squirm when they realize she expects them to go against their training and drink the unchecked, unverified beverage she has just handed them. Thus far, Loki has not encountered the same agent twice and she is somewhat impressed by how many operatives SHIELD has.

Loki has been assured multiple times by Tony and his ego that the Tower is powered by one hundred percent clean energy and is, in fact, a true marvel of modern science. Loki is inclined to believe him, but she likes to wear a skeptical expression any time the subject comes up because it gets Tony going in the most precious way. When the Tower was powered on six months ago, Loki was sadly busy and not invited to the celebratory sex marathon that happened that night between Tony and Pepper—rocky as their relationship sometimes is, Loki has something of a standing invitation to join, but also an understanding that there are moment reserved for just the two of them. Thus Loki was unoffended and it gave her time to prepare some truly sinful plans for the next she was able to get her hands on one or both of them. Loki gleefully implemented those plans no more than a few days later and spent that day thoroughly debauching Tony on the floor of his lab in Malibu and then Pepper across the lavish desk in her Stark Industries office during her lunch break.

Standing in the middle of her living area, Loki sighs and feels a zip of remembered pleasure go down her spine and to her sex. Feeling suddenly quite predatory, Loki detours through her kitchen for a Gatorade and a granola bar and then prowls down to the labs where she knows she will find Tony. He has a lot of work to do if he wants to earn his back promotion to favorite human.

 

- - -

 

During the first month of her life on Midgard, mostly while she was living in Tony’s guest rooms, Loki spent a lot of time in front of a full-length mirror contemplating her appearance. She knew that whatever form she chose for her first outing with Tony Stark would be the form she must remain in for a long time. It wasn’t too late to go back to her male form and it wouldn’t cause her any problems with her new watchdogs in SHIELD. She made sure to tell Coulson during his interviews that she often vacillates between male and female and that sometimes she feels like nothing at all, gender-wise. Coulson had informed that there is a word for that on Midgard—genderfluid, the word astounded and excited her—and that it wasn’t a problem.

On Asgard, for all that it is progressive and accepting, the idea that one person could feel multiple genders is confusing and obscure. It’s like something you may read about that applies to other beings from other places, but isn’t something to happen in real life. And since Loki’s gender shifts over the course of decades, it was a shock and the subject of gossip for months every time she felt the desire to change.

But here on Midgard, the mortals did not care in the least. And it didn’t matter that in sixty or seventy years Loki will want to be male or non-binary because all who knew her as a woman would either be dead or supportive of her transition.

So, with her foremost concern not even being a concern, Loki dedicated hours of time to studying her face and her female form and deliberating. Things like her eye color and hair color and her Scandinavian pallor are facts of her Æsir glamor, they are as much her natural appearance as Jötunn blue is her natural skin color. But what she can control, what she can change and make visible or invisible, are her scars. Untouched by cosmetic spells, Loki’s skin is absolutely riddled.

Pinprick scars line her mouth—earning her the kenning Scar-Lip, one of her least favorite—the lines of her cheekbones and brow is slightly mottled by the venom of Skadi’s wretched serpent. The chains that once bound her left ugly marks about her wrists and ankles. Her ribs are crosshatched and her back is full of memories from the time it was stripped to ribbons—Thor’s hare-brained battles and ventures for glory somehow always left her more marked and mutilated than he and his merry band of idiots.

In the end, Loki smoothed away the venom scars and the chain scars—the story behind those is too painful, even centuries later—and left everything else as it is. She is Loki Scar-Lip and she cannot erase that name from her being and so she must accept it. Her body tells the story of her life, of her struggles and her recoveries and her triumphs, and even if she does care for the physical reminder, she knows that others will. She always planned to put herself in the public eye; after Coulson’s parting comment, how could she not? And she does not need to be exclusively female to know the positive force behind having a female figure, with obvious flaws and imperfections and bright resilient strength, to look up to.

Eighteen months later, no one has noticed her scars and if they have, they have not asked her about them. She thinks now that she is properly famous and more likely to be recognized and photographed going about her daily life, those questions will start flowing. She’ll have to think of a logical, mortal explanation for them. Or, more likely, she’ll follow Tony’s example and wing it as needed.

 

- - -

 

leah @leah_lookout11: why do we care about lonna sliver? shes a homewrecker who split up tony stark and pepper pots!

 

Amanda P @amandapanda replying to @leah_lookout11: First: her name is Lona Silver. Second: homewrecker? Source, please. And third: she’s awesome???

 

- - -

 

A week has gone by since Comicon and Loki is bored. As an advanced alien species, she does not need as much sleep as mortals do and often spends her nights going for walks through the boroughs. She likes to wear her best pumps and most complimentary clothing and walk her most hip-swinging walk. Like moths to a flame, the lowliest scumbags of the male species come to her with lecherous expressions and self-entitled opinions. Loki likes to tear them down when they approach her, thinking they have any right to her body and deserve her attention for their sleazy come-ons. Not literally tear them apart, of course, Loki has no desire to be imprisoned or deported to space, but the little skirmishes are enough to satisfy her natural need for chaos. And better these creeps and perverts go after her than a common Midgardian woman who is unable to defend herself.

Tonight, Loki is prowling through Queens, killer heels clicking a deadly rhythm on the cracked concrete sidewalk, passing headlights and retreating taillights picking up the faint shimmer in the fabric of her top. She dresses modestly enough to not stand out, to not be mistaken for some sort of sex worker, but with subtle touches to draw the eye. She carries a purse more as a prop because anything she might need she can produce from the little pocket dimensions she has stitched to her magical core.

Already she has dispatched two would-be attackers and is shaking out her hair after the second scuffle when she notices something unusual. A child. A very young child outside in New York City at a quarter past midnight. To Loki, a slow-aging semi-immortal being, the child looks to be about fifty years of age, but she knows mortals age much quicker and calculates the child’s actual age to be closer to eleven or twelve.

Loki slows her approach as she considers her options. On the one hand, this is not her child and she has no obligation or responsibility to see that he is safe. On the other hand, Loki is a parent herself—both a mother and a father, not only because of her fluidity but because she has both sired and dammed her offspring—and this skinny mortal boy looks so terribly like her youngest that it makes her heart ache.

The boy is sitting on the stoop of a tall apartment building, legs drawn to his chest, arms wrapped around them, and chin resting sullenly on his knees. He has messy brown hair and large brown eyes that stare morosely into the middle distance and suddenly Loki is standing at the opposite end of the stoop.

“It’s a bit late to be out, don’t you think?” she asks, gentling her voice.

The boy looks at her, turning his head just enough to peer at her from the corners of his eyes. His chin is smushed against his knees and he doesn’t change this when he replies, “You’re out.”

Loki can’t help the smirk that curls her lip. “Yes, but I am an adult.”

The boy levels her with a truly unimpressed stare. “That doesn’t mean bad stuff can’t happen to you.”

For a moment, Loki forgets how to breathe. This is a child who knows just how true this statement is. This is a child who has lost someone, who understands that adulthood does not equal safety or security. Loki is again reminded of her Vali, half of a pair and without his father, hidden away on Vanaheim with her estranged wife.

“That’s right,” she murmurs. “It doesn’t. But you shouldn’t tempt fate, young one.”

The boy snorts and goes back to staring into the distance.

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” he mutters.

“Wise,” Loki says, “but irrelevant as we’re already talking.” She leans her hip against the squat concrete pillar at the base of the stoop and folds her arms across her chest. She asks, “What is your name?”

“What’s yours?” he shoots back. Defensive, but intelligent. Deliberately doing something potentially dangerous by being outside late at night, but not so reckless as to actually go anywhere. This boy has lost important adult figures in his life, but he still has someone who cares for him and whom he cares for.

“Loki,” she replies promptly and the boy finally removes his chin from his knees to look at her straight on.

“Yeah, right,” he says. “You’re not even a man.”

She grins, pleasantly surprised. What a wonderfully unexpected thing for this child to have knowledge of.

“I’m a shapeshifter.”

“No such thing.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes, I do, unless you prove me wrong.”

Loki throws her head back and laughs, utterly delighted by this clever child. When she settles, she tells him earnestly, “Please, go back inside. Please, as a parent to a son, no blood relation necessary,” she adds when he opens his mouth to protest that she is not his parent, “please, be safe. I promise you, whoever is in there is waiting for you and they will miss you if you disappear.”

The boy’s eyes flicker between hers, reading and wrapping his mind around every scary and desperate emotion she is letting show. He presses his mouth into a thin line and nods curtly, shrunken and made nervous by what he has found. He has just risen clumsily to his feet when the door at the top of the stoop is yanked open and an older man with uncombed graying hair lurches out. Lurches, because he stops mid-step and comes to an awkward halt when he sees the boy on the bottom step.

“There you are!” he exclaims with evident relief. “Your aunt and I were worried sick! Are you okay?” The man notices Loki, standing at a considerate distance from the child with her posture relaxed and her hands firmly to herself. “Who are you?”

“Lona Silver,” she tells him. “I saw him sitting alone and stopped to ask if he was alright.”

“Ah,” the man says vaguely, scrutinizing her.

“He’s a clever lad,” she goes on, shifting away from the stoop and taking a small backward step. “Refused to say a word to me.” She glances at the boy and he’s looking with back a furrowed brow. “Goodnight.”

As she turns to leave, she hears the boy say, “Sorry, Uncle Ben, I didn’t mean to scare you…” and then his voice is lost as he and his uncle retreat inside. Loki tucks her hands into her pockets and keeps her stride long and deliberate. Her mind travels light years away and to decades long past. She turns a corner and arrives in the middle of her living room. She sinks onto the (ridiculously comfortable and unreasonably expensive) sofa and kicks off her pumps. She stays there until morning, submerged in the memories of when everything was sweet and she did not know the name Scar-Lip.

 

-  - -

 

Devious Deity @deviousdeity: Earlier this year I convinced JARVIS to phase into using an Australian accent over the course of about two months. It took Anthony nearly three weeks to notice.

 

Devious Deity @deviousdeity: To this day, he does not know if he ought to be furious it took so long to notice or impressed that I convinced JARVIS to play a prank on him.

 

 

Direct Message from You Know Who I Am @AEStark

Your handle is a tad on the nose, don’t you think

 

- - -

 

The clip they chose is of Loki’s first appearance in Foreshock, which is about halfway through the film:

 

Gaia stands on the roof of the tallest building in Gainston—the fictional city that hosts the majority of the first installment—and stares out across the urban sprawl. She can hear cars honking, the heavy thrum of thousands of engines, and she can see the smog and the fumes rising to pollute the clean air. The wind pulls at her dark hair and snatches at her clothing—colored in earth-tones, outdated in style, but suited to her form.

The camera presses in to frame her face. Her eyes are dark and hard, expression a distasteful sneer, and her lips are noticeably chapped. There are bruises under her eyes and her cheeks are too hollow. She looks as though she has not slept in a very long time. But she also looks strong, determined, and very, very angry.

“Have you come to stop me?” she asks quite suddenly. Her accent is American, but there are hints of Greek that play on her vowels.

The camera peers over her shoulder and reveals a graying man standing several yards behind her. He is bearded and tall, broad-shouldered, and handsomely dressed in a fine modern suit. Gaia turns to face him. His name is Demitrius and he is the leader of the Prometheus Project, an organization dedicated to keeping the world safe from the supernatural. (He is introduced much earlier in the film and it will be revealed later in the trilogy that he is more familiar with the forces he fights than he lets on.)

“If I can,” he replies, perfectly calm in the face of her rage.

“You may try,” Gaia hisses, “and you will fail.”

She is barefoot and the roof is spread with gravel, though she hardly seems to notice as she stalks towards him. He remains unphased and quiet as she approaches.

“If I do, others will rise,” he says. “It will only be a matter of time before someone succeeds.”

“Time,” she repeats, mocking. “You will not have time, I will not give you any time. I have already given so much and for naught. I am tired. I am out of patience. This ends now.”

“’This’ being the world?” he inquires, still infuriatingly cool.

“I am the world!” Gaia shouts. Her hand flashes out and strikes the man across his face. His head snaps sideways and he staggers—this is incredible, as he has previously proven to be quite difficult to move. The man rights himself and spits a mouthful of blood onto the gravel. He straightens his clothes and becomes mild, unruffled, once again.

“The human race, then,” he says as if nothing has transpired.

“They are hurting me,” says Gaia, desperation leaking in past her fury, her eyes suddenly shining a bit brighter with remembered pain. “I want them gone.”

 

The clip ends there.

Loki’s mouth, lips painted a vicious red, curves into the faint hint of a smile as the audience whistles and applauds. She rests an elbow against the arm of the sofa chair, leaning towards the host at his desk, with her ankles crossed and angled to the other side of the seat. She is wearing a two-piece dress: a subtly patterned halter-top done in deep greens with a thin gold stitching that accents the pattern and an asymmetrical skirt in so deep an emerald it is nearly black. She’s also wearing her favorite killer pumps: matte black, heels studded with black plastic spikes, and red soles. She looks lethal and she loves it.

As the only unknown face in Foreshock, Loki is set to do solo promotional work for the next few days before rejoining the cast at the end of the week. She’s currently on one of the many late-night talk shows filmed in one of many studios in Southern California. The host is a cordial man in his early- to mid-thirties, Caucasian with brown hair, named Jimmy—again, one of many. If pressed, Loki would be unable to tell you which late night show she is on and what Jimmy’s last name is.

Jimmy is beaming and drumming his palms on his desk enthusiastically.

“Lona! Silver! Everyone!” he announces redundantly. They’ve already done the welcomes and greetings and introducing the clip. The audience redoubles its cheering but settles down quickly enough when Jimmy starts shouting, “Alright, alright,” and holds his hands out in askance.

“Wow!” he exclaims when he finally has quiet. Loki thinks he’s overreacting, but it is part of his job and she appreciates his spirit.

“Thank you,” she says.

“So,” says Jimmy, “this is your first movie. Your first appearance, basically, ever.”

“That is correct.”

“You’ve already said you decided to act because your friend Tony Stark”—Jimmy emphasizes the name because Tony Stark is weirdly beloved, even when he was a weapons manufacturer, the man has an absurd sort of charisma—“called you a Kardashian—”

“He inferred I was like a Kardashian,” Loki inserts. “It’s an important distinction.”

“Of course,” Jimmy laughs. “But what drew you to this particular role? It’s a three-movie deal and your role, you play the main antagonist, so your role only gets bigger and more demanding in each film. Did you have other parts you considered or…? What made you decide to jump right into a three-movie deal?”

This is the question Loki has been waiting for. She has dodged and shot down so many mindless queries about fitness and being the only girl in a male-dominated cast—which is hardly even true, the cast is fairly balanced gender-wise. But this is a question that begs a meaningful answer and Loki has been eager for it.

“Thank you for asking me that,” she starts earnestly. “You’re the first person to ask me that, did you know?”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, and it’s been driving me mental. I’ve been wanting to talk about why I took this part for so long, but there has never been an opportunity for it.”

“I’m glad I could help,” says Jimmy.

“So. My resumé at the time was entirely made up of skills and qualifications, so I had quite a few offers for action movies that wanted me to be a stunt double for their female leads and only maybe three or four that were for an actual role. These offers are all just script samples, of course, and the one I received for Foreshock consisted of the scene we just saw and a few scenes from later on. As soon as I read that first scene, I was decided and I stopped looking at anything else. They could’ve told me it was a six-movie deal or more, I wouldn’t have cared. I had to play this character. Had to, because…” Loki hesitates, she has set herself up to speak about her past in however elusory a manner and she has to steel herself.

She takes a deep breath and she is unbreakable.

Loki goes on: “From the very beginning, Gaia makes her intentions very clear. She says, ‘This is what I want and this is what will happen if I don’t get it.’ And what she wants is to stop hurting. She is in pain, physically and emotionally, and she just wants that pain to stop.” Loki briefly touches the inside of her wrist, left, where the chains magicked from her Nari’s spilled intestines bit the deepest. “I know what that is like, to want the pain to stop so desperately you’re willing to burn down the world around you. It’s something I have felt before, more times than I would like to recall, and if I passed on this part, if I had to watch someone else try to express that agony… It would drive me mad.”

Madder, she amends privately, she’s never had any delusions as to her level of sanity.

Jimmy is quiet and so is the audience. They are unsure how to react to the information Loki has just unexpectedly dropped on them.

Loki clears her throat delicately. “So, shall I just leave now or…? I’m sure Anthony could afford to send you all home with blankets and hot cocoa.”

Jimmy grabs the olive branch she has extended.

“I think we’ll need it,” he says. “That was dark. I’m sorry I don’t know quite how to respond, but can I just… It takes a lot of courage to just, reveal that, so thank you for being so open.”

Loki inclines her head. “That’s alright. There is no proper way to respond, but there are worse ways to react than how you have. You’ve hit the pleasant middle-ground and that’s just fine.”

“Pleasant middle-ground,” Jimmy repeats. “That’s pretty much all I aspire to.”

Loki laughs and they let the moment pass.

“So, Gaia’s a very important character to you,” Jimmy summarizes. “Have you read all the books?”

“I have. After reading the script sample, I had JARVIS download the trilogy to my tablet and spent the rest of the day reading. I finished all three books by dinnertime and by then I was so excited to start working on the film, I started composing emails to the director and the producers concerning my audition and my qualifications. Fortunately, JARVIS did not actually send any of them, but instead helpfully compiled all my better points and put together a very sensible and polite response that he sent with my approval the next morning.”

Jimmy laughs. “I can’t picture you being anything other than totally collected.”

Loki chuckles. “Yes, well, I’ve not been in the public eye for very long, so there’s time for that to change.”

 

- - -

 

i-am-earthshook 

 

 

is anyone ever going to ask why lona silver lives with tony stark? i'm dying of curiosity here and she keeps casually bringing it up and no one has asked???

 

- - -

 

Loki sends a well-crafted clone to take her place for the next few days of promo work and then takes the hidden pathways to Helheim. Garm, the watchdog at the gates to the Realm of the Dead, sniffs her hand with his cold nose. The great mangy beast knows Loki well and likes to press his drooling muzzle to her hands and into the crook of her neck whenever she visits. She scratches her fingers through his scruff affectionately and then carries on down the path to Eljudnir, magicking away the slobber as she goes.

Hel is waiting at the vast from doors to her palace. She is nearly as tall and just as angular as her parent. She is dressed in fine dark skirts, her chest wrapped with soft dove gray cloth, and her feet are bare. The bluish-black half of her body bears a strong resemblance to Loki’s hated Jötunn form, down to the genealogical lines that trace across her skin and tell the tales of her ancestors. Her pale half is the color of sun-bleached bone and skeletally thin, but no less powerful than the other half. Her hair, also neatly bisected into a platinum side and an ebony side, falls to her waist and is woven into a loose braid. Her crown is a circlet made of rib bones with two-pronged horns that honor the helm of her parent.

Loki quickens her pace at the sight of her daughter and Hel hastens forward to meet her in a tight embrace.

Pappa. I heard of your fall,” Hel mumbles into Loki’s shoulder. “I dreaded every day that your soul might come through my halls until I learned you had landed on Midgard.”

“It was a near thing,” Loki tells her truthfully, “but I haven’t gotten myself killed yet.”

Hel’s arms tighten around Loki’s shoulders, clinging desperately as she would when she was centuries younger and frightened by a bad dream.

“It is alright, min datter,” Loki murmurs into the dark of Hel’s hair. “You need not fear my death and besides, would it really be so terrible for my soul to reside in your realm? Are you telling me you do not want your beloved parent around you all the time?”

Hel chokes on a laugh and releases the embrace. Her eyes are shining—one an icy blue and the other a nebulous black. “Yes,” she says emphatically, settling back into her usual self. “It would be awful. You would become bored and I would never have a moment’s peace!”

Loki chuckles. “You know me well.”

They enter Eljudnir and Hel leads the way to her personal chambers where comfortable chairs are set by a blazing fireplace and food and drink have been laid on a nearby table. Parent and daughter settle themselves with goblets of wine in hand and tray of nibbles between them.

“Now, tell me, elskling,” Loki says after a long sip. “What is this urgent news you have for me?”

Hel’s expression turns grim. “The Mad Titan has begun searching for the Stones and I suspect he will soon set his sights on Midgard. I know of two stones currently hidden there and you must ensure they are protected against him.”

Loki leans back in her chair and considers. “This is the same Mad Titan who claims to love you.” She doesn’t need to ask, she knows this with certainty, but she does need to ask this: “Do you not reciprocate his love?”

She needs to know just how thoroughly the Titan must be destroyed.

Hel sighs. “I admit there was a time when I was charmed by him. He sent me such sweet gifts: powerful warlords and unstoppable conquerors, all very potent and valuable souls. But then he began to confuse quality with quantity and now he threatens the balance of the universe.”

“Too much death and there will be no life,” Loki says softly and Hel nods solemnly.

“With the Infinity Stones, he will be able to wipe out planets with a mere snap of his fingers, multiple at a time.”

This is urgent news indeed and grave.

“The Time Stone is on Midgard,” says Loki, “in the care of the sorcerers of Kamar-Taj. I will visit them and see that they are better protected. What is the other Stone on Midgard?”

She knows the Power Stone is hidden away on Morag, protected by extreme flooding that sank all life and makes passage across the planet’s surface near impossible. The Soul Stone is heavily guarded on Vormir and unobtainable without devastating sacrifice. The Reality and Space Stones are locked away in Odin’s Vault, as the Aether and the Tesseract respectively. The location of the Mind Stone is yet a mystery, as it was lost ages before Loki’s birth.

“The Space Stone,” says Hel and Loki’s eyebrows rise in shock.

“No,” she says. “It is in Odin’s Vault, it is safe.”

But Hel is shaking her head. “It was, but not anymore. Not for some time. Odin crafted a decoy to sit its place. Last I heard it was somewhere in Norway, but I doubt that is still true.”

Loki takes another long sip of wine while she thinks. “I will begin searching for it immediately. Perhaps Anthony can come up with something to expedite the process.”

“Mm, yes, I’ve heard of your mortal Anthony. I’m quite fond of him myself,” Hel says with exaggerated casualness. She grins at her parent and drinks more wine before saying anything more, enjoying watching her parent narrow her eyes and wait impatiently for an explanation. “Did you know he is called the Merchant of Death?”

Understanding dawns and Loki laughs. “He has rejected that title.”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t still receive the loveliest gifts from him every now and then. He has done the converse of my Mad Titan, he now sends me souls of quality rather than in quantity.” Hel’s smirk broadens. “I particularly enjoyed Obadiah Stane, it’s been so long since I saw a mortal soul so twisted.”

“I’ll be sure to send Anthony your gratitude,” Loki replies dryly.

“Please, do,” says Hel.

The grim mood subsides, if only slightly, and Loki looks fondly at her only daughter, her only child to be truly free of shackles or shame. Despite how Hel’s life began, Hel has flourished in her realm, has become truly remarkable, and Loki is so proud of her daughter she sometimes cannot breathe for the weight of it.

“If you could have your way,” Loki starts, would you remain Queen of Helheim? Would you leave this place forever? Would you have revenge on Odin for casting you out as a mere babe? “What you have done about your Mad Titan?”

Hel’s answer comes without hesitation. “I would have him sent here, to my Realm, in the quickest manner possible.”

Her expression is as hard and clear as cut diamond and books no room for argument or interpretation. The Mad Titan Thanos must be killed. The declaration sits like a weighted blanket about Loki’s shoulders. Dread and terror and a grim determination rise within her in equal amounts. Loki drains her glass before replying.

“That is no simple task.”

“I know, pappa, but there are none I trust more than you,” Hel says frankly. “If not for your strength and magical prowess, then for your cleverness and cunning. I know you will find a way.”

Loki reaches out and strokes her daughter’s dark cheek. “Sometimes I think you have too much faith in me, elskling.”

Hel clasps Loki’s hand to her cheek and leans into the touch. “Never.”

Loki sighs and smiles at her daughter, rubbing Hel’s prominent cheekbone with the pad of her thumb. “I will begin preparations immediately.”

 

- - -

 

Tony is in his lab when Loki returns to Midgard, tinkering as always with the mechanics of his suit. The Tower has been running smoothly for some time now and the hub of Stark Industries successfully moved in. Of the ninety-stories, eighty are devoted to the company: offices, research labs, expansive gyms, several suites for late-workers to crash in, and a few fully-staffed complimentary restaurants for employees only. There is, however, an open-to-the-public bar and grill on the ground floor—it is constantly busy, but always worth the wait.

The top ten floors comprise Tony’s penthouse, including an enormous lab that is actually two floors but with the ceiling that separated them taken out. Tony doesn’t even need ten floors of space and as a result, there are six rarely visited levels between the last company floor and the first personal one.

Tony lives in the top three and Loki is just below his lab. She was wary of this, at first, worried that one of Tony’s inventions or an experiment gone wrong will crash through the ceiling on her. But she soon realized that for Tony Stark, nothing but the best will do, and the Tower is very nearly indestructible. There is no force on Earth that is able to collapse any ceilings or walls in this particular building.

But now that the threat of extra-terrestrial invasion is looming, Loki’s worry returns ten-fold.

Tony doesn’t look up when she taps in her personal entry code, but she knows that he is aware of her even if his music is still blasting. Loki also knows better than to ask JARVIS to turn it down or to try and get his attention. So, instead, she sits on a nearby stool and watches him work. When he is either done or at a reasonable stopping point, he will give her his full attention.

She shamelessly watches the pull and flex of muscle under his sun-kissed skin, deliciously accentuated by a glimmering layer of sweat. The gray tank he’s wearing perfectly frames the strong lines of his shoulders, the push of his shoulder blades, and it clings attractively to his waist. Loki can easily imagine—recall, even—what it is like to have those shoulders above her, to have her waist clinging to that waist, and to have those biceps pressed to the mattress on either side of her head, framing her face like blinders while his hands tangle in her hair.

Tony sets his tools down and turns, wiping his hands on a rag as he does. Loki props her elbows on the table behind her and leans back, arching her spine to lift her chest. She also uses a spark of magic to trade her dark-wash jeans for a black, knee-length skirt. She stares at him with heat in her eyes and she sees Tony swallow in response.

“Hello, nurse,” he says with a lecherous grin. Loki has learned to ignore the odd things he says, knowing they are references to Midgardian pop-culture. Tony slides his hands—warm and work-roughened—on her knees and parts her legs so he can stand between them. Loki grins into the kiss he presses to her mouth and lifts an arm to rake her fingers through the hair at the back of his head. One of Tony’s talented hands grazes the length of her thigh, pushing up the fabric of her skirt as he does, until the calloused tips of his fingers brush the thin cotton of her panties. Loki shivers and bites his lower lip.

Then she draws back and purrs seductively, “A pressing matter concerning world security has just arisen.”

Tony lets out a gusty breath and drops his forehead against hers. He grumbles, “That’s not the only thing.”

Loki snorts indelicately and removes his hand from her most intimate area with a smirk. Tony leans back so she can see him pout, but then relents and returns to ‘work mode,’ which is only slightly more serious than his non-work mode.

“What’s up, Puck?” he asks, absently tapping his fingers over a holographic keyboard made entirely of his own personal shorthand. It’s an intriguing configuration and Loki thinks she might have a handle on it, but now is not the time.

“I have it on good authority that a being known as the Mad Titan may soon make his way to Midgard,” Loki tells him plainly and watches at Tony continues to manipulate the keyboard, taking notes. Good. Loki jumps right into the who and the why. “The Mad Titan is, as his moniker implies, quite mad and he is in love with the Goddess of Death and Ruler of Helheim. He courts her by sending her souls, thousands at a time, but he aims to increase his offerings to millions.”

“Awesome,” Tony says dryly. “So, he’s coming to Earth to wrap us all up in a bow and send us to Hell.”

Loki chuckles. “Quite literally, yes. Helheim is thus called because it is the home of Hel, Hel being the name of the goddess.”

“Yikes,” says Tony with a snicker. “Who named the poor girl?”

“I did.”

Tony’s hand freezes on his keyboard and his eyes widen comically. He searches Loki’s face for a sign of a joke and finds none. Loki stares at him with as severe an expression as she can muster. She is not truly upset with him, he had no way of knowing, but she likes to watch him squirm.

After a minute, she cuts him loose with a crooked smile. “My daughter came first. Your interpretation of the underworld is named after her.”

Tony grimaces and rubs his hand over his heart and arc reactor. “Thanks for the coronary, sugar plum,” he grumbles.

“It was my pleasure.”

Tony blows out a long sigh that wobbles into a laugh. Then he starts typing again. “So, Hel, how does she feel about Mr. Murder?”

“She was charmed at first,” replies Loki, idly tracing her slim fingers over Tony’s forearm, “when he sent her warlords and heroes, souls with great value. But now that he floods her gates with the ordinary and the innocent, her interest has greatly lessened. She has asked that I send him to her realm as quickly as possible…and not in the way that the living may enter with their souls intact.”

“She wants you to kill him,” Tony simplifies for the sake of his own understanding.

“Yes.”

“Harsh.”

“He is on the verge of tipping the cosmic scales of the universe. No one person is allowed to do that without severe punishment, no matter how loved that person is,” says Loki, eyes hard and unwavering.

“Oh, no, I get it,” Tony assures her, squeezing her knee. “Big Bad needs to buy the farm pronto. I’m just impressed by how quickly his would-be lover wants to shut that shit down.”

“Hel was never one for dancing around the subject,” Loki says primly, but with pride in the curl of her lip.

“So how do we stop him?” asks Tony. “Please don’t tell me I have to get Fury involved.”

Loki makes a face like she has swallowed a lemon. “Norns, no, it’s much more fun to let him figure it out on his own and come to us in anger.”

Tony laughs and leans in to press a firm kiss to her mouth. “You hot, devious bastard.”

Loki grins. “The Titan is searching for six magical artifacts that contain Infinity Stones. Individually, the Stones are powerful beyond imagination, each one has control over a different aspect of the cosmos, but all together…” Lok shivers. “If Thanos, the Mad Titan, gains possession of all five, he will be able to obliterate planets in seconds. He could wipe out half the universe with the wave of a hand.”

“That’s…bad,” Tony says stiltedly, struggling to wrap his mind around the sheer enormity of this threat and balking at all the consequences his brilliant mind comes up with.

“Very,” says Loki.

“How do we keep him from getting his hands on these Stones? Do we even know where they are?”

Loki sighs. “That is where things get complicated. The Power Stone is far away on an impassable planet, the Soul Stone is on another isolated planet, and the Mind Stone has been lost for eons. The Reality Stone is in Asgard, in Odin’s weapons vault. But there are two Stones in Midgard, they are Time and Space, and while the Time Stone is moderately well protected, I haven’t the slightest idea where the Space Stone is. Until today, I was not even aware it was in Midgard, I thought it to be in Odin’s Vault with its sibling.”

The inventor presses his lips together while he thinks, unconsciously tapping his index finger on her knee in what she thinks might be Morse code. She doesn’t try to decode what he is absent-mindedly communicating and instead waits for him to speak aloud. After a minute, he does.

“Obviously Power, Reality, and Mind are not our priority,” he says redundantly. “What can you tell me about Time?”

“It is being held in a place called Kamar-Taj, deep in the Himalayas, protected by a being called the Ancient One and her order of sorcerers. They call it the Eye of Agamotto. It is well defended, but I plan to visit the Ancient One soon and offer to add my own layers of protection over the artifact.”

Tony nods. “And the Space Stone?”

“It is in something called the Tesseract,” says Loki. “I believe you’ve heard of it.”

Tony’s expression goes dark. “Yeah, I’ve heard of it. Dear old dad was almost as obsessed with it as he was with Captain America. I know he had it for a bit, but it was gone before I was even conceived.”

“I was hoping you could do a bit of digging for me,” says Loki, smoothing her fingers over the back of his hand and around his wrist. “Between my magic and your knowledge of computers, we can narrow down its location.”

“What if I can’t find it?” Tony asks pragmatically.

“Then I will.”

“And if you can’t?”

“Then it is exceptionally well hidden and we hope that is enough to keep the Mad Titan from finding it.”

“Great,” says Tony with exaggerated cheer. “Let’s get started, shall we?”

Without further ado, Tony takes the hand from his keyboard and swoops in to grab a fistful of dark, luxurious hair at the back of Loki’s head. He yanks the way he knows she likes and captures her mouth with his, simultaneously freeing his other hand from hers and skimming it down her thigh. Tony and Loki established some time ago that if one of them is in the mood for sex, then it is highly likely the other is or can be, too. Tony is confident in Loki’s ability to shut him down and push him off if she is not in the mood and he wholly trusts her to step back if he is not in the mood.

This is not such a time. Loki grins into the kiss, bites back when Tony grazes her lips with his teeth, and shoves her hands under his tank at his waist. She runs her hands up over the ridges of his abdomen, tweaking his nipples when she finds them and making his breath hitch. Tony moves the thin cotton of her panties aside and thumbs her clit; Loki gasps and arches. Then she retaliates by banishing his pants and trousers to the other end of the room, sending her panties soon after, and hitching her legs around his hips to drag him closer.

Tony laughs breathlessly into her mouth and presses two fingers past her slick folds, thrusts them into her once, twice, several times, and then withdraws. Loki growls and puts her teeth to his throat, biting and sucking and leaving a vivid mark. Tony uses his slicked hand to palm himself and guides himself to her entrance. He teases, rubbing the head of his cock between the folds of her labia until she is panting, squirming, nearly ready to take matters into her own hands. Just when she begins to tighten her legs and rake her fingernails down his chest, Tony rolls his hips forward and slides in to the hilt.

The rest is an ungraceful act in an awkward position, all writhing and rutting and clutching as they gasp and groan and sink their teeth into each other’s flesh. Loki leaves Tony’s neck and chest riddled with purpling bruises; Tony does his best to leave the imprints of his hands on her hips, but she heals too quickly for any lasting mark. When they have both climaxed, Tony pulls out but stays pressed against Loki, using her naturally cooler body temperature to cool his own overheated body. Loki indulges him, resting her cheek on his shoulder and lightly tracing random harmless runes along his back. After a few minutes, she flicks her fingers to spell away the mess and return their clothing.

“Love it when you do that,” Tony remarks, then kisses her soundly and steps out from between her legs. His sudden smirk is the only warning she gets that he is about to be humorous. “Stop fooling around, Lo, we have work to do!”

Loki swats his ass as he tries to dodge out of range and then, just before teleporting away, magically shifts everything in the lab (everything that can safely be shifted, of course) two inches to the left. Tony’s cries of shock and despair are music to her ears.

 

- - -

 

Chelsea Peretti @chelseaperetti: just met @deviousdeity backstage at graham norton & my life suddenly feels more meaningful

 

Devious Deity @deviousdeity replying to @chelseaperetti: That has been known to happen.

 

- - -

 

“So, I hear your quite the storyteller,” Graham says to Lona Silver, who is sat between her delightful human Rami and Chelsea Peretti on the famous red couch. They’ve been chatting and laughing for a while now; the show is perhaps halfway through and Loki has gotten a discreet refill of her wine during a short break in filming. They’ve covered Peretti’s new project and the musical guest’s new album (Loki hasn’t the slightest idea who this man is, but he’s nice enough, she supposes), it’s about time they started getting into the three present cast members of Foreshock. These three present members make up the antagonists of the movie, or soon-to-be in Rami’s case; his character embodies the friend turned enemy trope and the film ends with him pledging himself to Gaia’s cause. The third antagonist is a strapping young man named Liam, who has a thick Australian accent and questionable taste in women. His character is a one-off in Foreshock: the low-grade bad guy who gets the protagonist involved with the Prometheus Project and is defeated in the final act.

“It is one of my many talents,” Loki replies with an air of modesty despite her words. The host and other guests laugh, as does the audience, and Loki grins sharply.

“Will you tell us a story?” Graham asks eagerly, leaning forward in his chair. He has his note cards in his lap and is, by all appearances, ignoring them—though Loki well knows that everything about this show has a carefully thought-out structure that plans for tangents and improv from its colorful array of guests.

“They tend to be long and involved,” Loki says as a warning, demurring for effect while mentally shuffling through the many tales she has adapted to humanity.

“That’s alright,” says Graham.

“Tell that one about your brother,” Rami implores, “with the belt and the cross—”

Loki waves a hand to cut him off. “Yes, yes, but don’t give away the best bits!”

“Have I heard this one?” Liam asks, leaning to peer around Rami, forehead scrunched in thought. “You tell a lot of stories about your brother.”

“Because he’s so wonderfully gullible,” Loki replies.

“Okay, you have to tell us a story now,” says Graham. “You’ve got us all excited.”

Loki chuckles. “Alright, fine.” She takes a sip of wine and settles herself primly in her seat. “So. My brother, Torgeir, has this godawful belt that he won in a wrestling championship and it is his pride and joy. He keeps it hung above his bed and polishes it regularly and it’s all quite ridiculous.” She waves her hand and rolls her eyes for effect. “One morning, he wakes up to find that the belt is not where it should be and immediately panics. He tears the house apart and when he can’t find it, he demands I figure out who took it. He even brings Mother and Father into it and has them demand I figure out who took it.”

Graham and Liam make nearly identical faces of disbelief, which feels so much like gratification to Loki. One of the best things the people of Midgard have going for them is that they recognize the ridiculous expectations and double standard Loki has been set to all her life. Loki shoots them an I know expression as she carries on with her story.

“It takes me all of an hour to learn that some lowlife in town is the culprit and that he wants to trade the belt for a date with our cousin Freyja—”

“No!” exclaims Chelsea, affronted on behalf of all women.

“Yes!” Loki exclaims back, equally affronted, then she goes on, “Now, you should know that Torgeir is still young enough that he’s a bit slim. And you should also know that Freyja is a very athletic woman and, much like most women in the family, is very tall, very blonde, and not very curvy. She also, like most women, doesn’t give a shit about this particular man.”

Loki is very much aware that her female form does not meet all of the traits she has attributed to her family. She has the height, yes, but she also has black hair and curves. She’ll let the humans draw their own conclusions.

“So, I do not bother talking to Freyja about any of this. I’m actually not sure she even knew any of this transpired until years later. Instead, I simply go home and tell Torgeir I know how to get his ridiculous belt back. He says and I will quote, ‘Tell me, I will do whatever it takes to get it back.’

“I ask him, ‘Anything? Are you sure?’ And he cries, ‘Yes! Yes, I’m sure!’” Loki grins a sharky grin. “The big oaf has no idea what he has just done and it is ever my prerogative to take advantage and Torgeir just makes it so easy. So, I tell him all he needs to do is pretend to be Freyja and have dinner with Thrygve. There is this incredible moment in which Tor is more shocked about Thrygve being the one who stole his belt, that he doesn’t realize what I have asked him to do. He gets all puffed up and starts spewing all these insults and prattling on about what he’s going to do to that miserable, weaselly man when he gets his hands on him, oh he’s going to pay dearly for daring to steal from… He trails off and I see the understanding finally sink into his thick head.”

Loki is suppressing laughter now, just remembering how Thor’s expression had fallen so quickly from outrage to horror is enough to make her fold with mirth. Next to her, Rami is chuckling readily and the rest of her audience has already caught what Thor failed to at the time.

“He gives me this look so filled with horror you’d think I’d asked him to go to war without weapons or armor. He goes pale, literally pales, at the thought of dressing as a woman and whatever hope he may have had for a Plan B is gone the moment I see that look. I tell him there’s no other way, which is obviously a lie, and that we have to go very soon or it will be too late, which is also a lie. We have all the time in the world to go get this horrendous belt back, but now it’s merely about tormenting my brother.

“I drag him to my room and I sit him down at my vanity. He sits there like he’s on death row while I dig through my closet searching for something that might fit him. In the end, I have to sacrifice a blouse by cutting it at the seams and stitching in extra strips of fabric to make it fit him, but it’s well worth it. I even get him to put on a sports bra so I could stuff it with socks to give him a slight bosom. Heels are a lost cause, but a long enough skirt will hide his feet and with the right touch of eyeshadow and mascara, no one will look at his feet anyway. Our only hitch was his beard, he refused to shave it off. At the time it was patchy and short, his first beard and all that, bless him. It was adorable. I had to come up with this scarf-veil combination to hide the lower half of his face. I wish I had pictures to show you, but he would not stand for it.” Loki sighs wistfully.

Rami has his hands clasped over his mouth to stifle his laughter, tears streaming down his cheeks from the effort. Chelsea appears to be in a state of awe and amazing. Liam and Graham are howling and the musical guest seems to be utterly stunned. The members of the audience display a mix of these reactions, all enraptured and reduced to mirthful tears. Loki preens.

“As promised,” she continues, “I get Tor in my car and drive him to Thrygve’s and suddenly Torgeir has cold feet. And really, I was quite offended by how little faith he had in my abilities, but I’ve always been good at improvisation so I leave him in the car and go to knock on the door.

“Thrygve answers immediately and I say, ‘Listen, I’ve talked you up big time and now Freyja’s a bit nervous. She’s worried that she isn’t feminine enough and she’s feeling a bit self-conscious. Please don’t comment on the scarf hiding her face, it’ll just make her feel worse.’ And Thrygve goes on and on with yes, of course and I would never and so on, so forth. I drag Torgeir inside and we find that Thrygve has prepared a five-course meal with candles and fancy dinnerware and the belt is nowhere to be seen. So, I ask him, ‘Where is my brother’s belt?’ and he says, ‘Dinner first, then you can have it.’” Loki rolls her eyes. “So we have to suffer through this tedious dinner and of course Torgeir has no manners and can never say no to food and he literally inhaled plate after plate. Just stuffing food up into his mouth under my scarf. I had to keep making excuses like, ‘She hasn’t eaten all day, due to nerves,’ and, ‘Salmon is her absolute favorite, she can’t help herself.’”

“And Thrive believed it?” asks Graham, incredulous and laughing.

“Oh, yes!” Loki nods earnestly. “In fact, I’d go so far as to say he was charmed by how real she was.” Groans from many women in the audience and from the woman seated next to Loki. “Finally, as we’re having dessert, Thrygve gets up and brings in the belt from the other room and he starts showing it off. As though he thinks bragging about how he broke into Freyja’s uncle’s house and stole her cousin’s most prized possession will impress her and make her love him. I’m ready to start bullshitting and getting us out of there, but Torgeir sees his belt and he just goes mental! He jumps up and rips off the scarf and launches himself across the table as Thrygve. The poor man never stood a chance. Torgeir beats the hell out of him, all while wearing a skirt and blouse and delicate makeup. It was glorious to behold.” Loki takes a drink of wine and sighs. “Then we just…went home and I made Torgeir buy me a new scarf to replace the one he ruined and that was that.”

Graham guffaws with laughter and the audience starts up a deafening applause. Loki raises her glass to them and effects a little bow, clearly very pleased with herself.

 

- - -

 

Caroline @carlyclarkson: Lona Silver is an immortal being placed on this Earth to make us mere humans look bad. Do you agree or do you agree?

 

A Velociraptor @raptor_attacks replying to @carlyclarkson: i agree

 

Amanda Podera @amandapanda replying to @carlysclarkson: Agree

 

Baker me a cake @BakerMD replying to @carlyclarkson: Agree

 

You Know Who I Am @AEStark replying to @carlyclarkson: Can confirm.

 

Iron Man Knows I Exist @carlyclarkson replying to @AEStark: Holy shit

 

- - -

 

Loki shifts into his male form for the trip to Nepal; it is the shape the Ancient One is familiar with. He navigates the claustrophobic streets and crowds of people with ease, slipping further and further away from the friendlier tourist traps. No one spares him a passing glance; in this form he is unrecognizable, he doesn’t even need a spark of magic to make himself unnoticeable.

Following the tangy ozone of magic, Loki wends his way between seedy vendors and huddled vagrants and soon comes upon the inconspicuous front doors of Kamar-Taj. No one is there to meet him, Loki’s visit is unannounced, and no one arrives to stop him when he enters, his magic prevents the alarms from triggering. In fact, Loki walks the temple unseen and unheard until he drops his guises upon entering the main hall where the Ancient One awaits.

The Ancient One looks at him with vague surprise while her associate, a broad black man with a demeanor that pings on Loki’s senses, slides fluidly into an offensive stance. The man opens his mouth, likely to demand who Loki is and who he came to be here and other such predictabilities, but the Ancient One quiets him with a simple raise of her hand.

“Loki Odinson,” she says serenely and Loki curls his lip at the name.

“I go by Lie-Smith these days,” he says. “It leaves less room for confusion.”

“Indeed,” says the Ancient One and there is a hint of amusement in the tilt of her lip. She gestures with a sweeping arm to the low table and tea set before her. “Sit,” she urges, “join us.”

Loki inclines his head as he bows ever so slightly at the waist, then settles himself cross-legged while the Ancient One pours a third cup of tea.

“Sit, Mordo,” she orders and the black man hesitates for only a split second before obeying. He eyes Loki distrustfully even as he carefully lifts his cup to drink his tea. The Sorcerer Supreme examines Loki over the brim of her own cup for a long while and Loki waits patiently, pleasantly even, for her to come to her conclusions.

At last, she speaks, “You have business concerning the Eye of Agamotto.” Mordo stiffens, but neither Sorcerer nor Mage acknowledges him. “We have no other artifacts in our possession that you would deem valuable.”

“That is correct,” says Loki. “I have come to ensure it is properly protected. You see, I have very recently been informed of the imminent arrival of a very dangerous being, one who seeks to control all five Stones.”

The Ancient One hums over her tea and then places the cup in its saucer. “I assure you, we at Kamar-Taj have taken every precaution where the Eye of Agamotto is concerned.”

“Oh, I’ve no doubt,” Loki says earnestly, “but for my own peace of mind and with your allowance, I would very much like to add a few of my own measures.”

“He is lying,” Mordo bursts, a vein throbbing at his temple, cup near to cracking in his hand. “He has much as admitted to it! Lie-Smith, he is called, and for good reason!”

“Calm yourself, Master Mordo,” the Ancient One says coolly, eyes never leaving Loki’s. “There are some things in the multiverse that even a god of trickery dare not lie about or make light of. A threat to the Infinity Stones is one such thing.” She rises gracefully. “Come, Loki Lie-Smith, I would like to observe you at your craft.”

Loki stands, grinning. “I would consider it an honor.”

He holds out his arm to her and, clearly amused, the Ancient One places her thin hand at the crook of his elbow. The chamber she leads him to is pungent with over a thousand years’ worth of warding spells and protective charms cast by countless Masters of the Mystic Arts, including the present Sorcerer Supreme and her predecessors. Loki can feel the magic on his skin like brine from the sea, gritty and itchy and immediately everywhere. It is thorough enchantment and as a result, the Eye is extremely difficult to look at directly.

The Ancient One stands at the doorway, expression inscrutable as she watches Loki circle the room, dragging his fingertips along the walls and muttering incantations under his breath. Many of the spells he is using are basics—sturdy and never to be underestimated—learned during his early childhood. Others are spells of his own design, known only to him and exhausting to perform due to the thoroughness of their nature.

When the perimeter set, Loki crouches at the pedestal holding the Eye and draws a long series of runes with the tip of his finger along every facet. The runes glow acidic green, flare white upon each set’s completion, and then sink into the wood until no trace is left.

At some point in the midst of casting, Loki feels his latest StarkPhone rattle in its pocket dimension, but it is not enough to break his concentration and he barely registers that anything happened. It is not until he has made his farewells and unnerved that Mordo fellow once more that he thinks to check the phone for messages. Waiting for him is a text from Tony, the message consists of two very simple words but the implication sends a chill down Loki’s spine.

Found it.

Seconds later, he feels it: The awakening of immense cosmic power calling out to any and all who may hear it. The Tesseract…